It’s no insult to the band to say that Kiss have always been about window dressing. That’s why Paul Stanley’s new autobiography, Face The Music: A Life Exposed, comes as such a surprise. After years of carefully maintaining his Starchild superhero identity, Stanley lets down his guard and unleashes a torrent of pent-up feelings that erupt and flow over 400 pages like molten lava.
Charlie “Bird” Parker is another “shredder” from the past worth investigating. Parker flamed out way too soon in 1955, but his shadow still looms large on the contemporary jazz landscape. Jazz writer Stanley Crouch spent the last 20 years researching this amazing figure, and captures him in all of his high-flying glory in Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker.
In terms of George Harrison's guitar playing, we get to hear the good (his whammy-bar-laced guitar solo on "Till There Was You"), the not so good (his lackluster solo on "Lucille") and the intriguing (His better-than-the-EMI-version solo on "I Saw Her Standing There" opens up so many possibilities).
If you’re looking for a soundtrack for the last gasp of summer, try a set of sweet singles by singer/songwriter Tawny Ellis. A native of Savannah, Georgia, Ellis splits her time between Los Angeles and New Orleans, and it shows in her music. A sultry compilation of twangy strings and smoky vocals, Ellis delivers a collection that showcases her considerable talent.
Many guitarists may never know the crunchy overdrive and sweet compression of a vintage 1968 Marshall JMP50 “Plexi” amplifier driven through a 4x12 Marshall cabinet loaded with Celestion Greenback speakers, much less the grinding, high-gain distortion of a Bogner Uberschall Twin Jet. And isn’t that shame?
So you’re out hunting for strings. Rather than go with some fly-by-night brand that’s been in the string business for only 100 years, let’s take a look at La Bella. They’ve been making violin strings since the 1640s! The company could just sit around at its headquarters in Newburgh, New York, where it makes its strings, but it keeps churning out new ideas. Recently I got the chance to test drive the company's new White Nylon Tapewound bass strings.
"Twist it! Pull it!" OK, this review has nothing to do with the late-'90s handheld game Bop It, but the Push me Pull me overdrive pedal by Custom 77 is just as addicting. The French-designed pedal is like having three different overdrive sounds at your disposal in one box. Without any cheat or CAPTCHA codes to enter, the Push me Pull Me couldn’t be any easier to use.
Personal audio products have made earphones ubiquitous, but they've also raised the potential for hearing loss and nerve damage. Crescendo wants to change this. The Miami-based company has made hearing protection something of a cause, such as with ear plugs that allow performing musicians and their audiences to enjoy the show without blowing out their ears.
On Tuesday, March 13, Van Halen rolled into Manchester, New Hampshire, and played to a packed house at the Verizon Wireless Arena. The city was taken over by Van Halen fever. Every bar I walked into was packed to the gills, cranking stuff like “Drop Dead Legs" from 1984.
Guitar Zero: The New Musician and the Science of Learning is a recent book release by Gary Marcus, an author and MIT-educated cognitive psychology research professor who teaches at New York University.