Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Livin' Fast and Dyin' Loud! - Beasto Blanco Album Review

Rat Pak Records is set to unleash a new hard rock offering that's sure to make waves upon the musical landscape on October 29th, 2013.  Citing major influences such as Rob Zombie and Motorhead, which can immediately be heard throughout the record, Beasto Blanco's Live Fast Die Loud exhibits the volume to 11, fist pumping anthem power and attitude of rock and roll that's sorely lacking in today's market place.  Think of Beasto Blanco as the offspring result if White Zombie and Motorhead got a little too drunk while camping in the woods and sleeping in the same tent.

Chuck Garric, who has spent the last 12 years as the bassist for Alice Cooper, a position he still holds today, leads the project.  Chuck has appeared on and co-written songs for the albums Eyes of Alice Cooper, Dirty Diamonds, Along Came a Spider and Welcome to My Nightmare II.  Spending time with current KISS drummer Eric Singer and his project ESP (Eric Singer Project) as well as working with Dio and L.A. Guns as a touring bassist, Garric has also worked with Damon Johnson's brainchild from the 90's, Brother Cane when they reunited for shows in 2011.

For Garric's project Beasto Blanco he has delved deeply into the Alice Cooper family and recruited the likes of Glen Sobel, currently the drummer with Alice Cooper, who has played with numerous other big names and Jonathan Mover, Alice Cooper drummer from the 90's who stepped in for an injured Sobel during the 2012 tour with Iron Maiden.  In the producer's chair is Tommy Henriksen who has been Alice Cooper's guitarist since 2011 and is a sought after producer and songwriter, having worked with a whole host of artists.  Cooper's eldest daughter, 32 year old Calico Cooper also plays a role in Beasto Blanco.  Chris Latham, an accomplished recording engineer and guitarist from the California based band Paperback Hero handles the guitar work here.

The streaming link that I received to preview the album is missing the first track, "Ill Nostro Spirito", so my listen begins with song number two, "Beasto Blanco".  It starts off with a Motorhead style sound quickly evolving once the Rob Zombie-esque vocals kick in.  The track is fast, with a female voice that sounds almost like a child accenting the chorus.  "Bloodshot" is next and seems to cover the evils of too many drinks after a breakup the night prior.  Track #4, "California" keeps the pace ramped up exhibiting more hooks, musically and vocally.  "Breakdown", probably the absolute stand out cut of the album in my opinion takes the listener through a Zombie-esque ride ala "Dragula".  Ted Nugent also
 plays a role in the shaping of this record, not limited to the cover tribute of his 1976 Free For All album and "Vegas Baby Vegas" takes us through to the awesome, grinding, filled with power waiting to be unleashed "Motor Queen".  "Freaks" is next on the list, abound with hooks and riffs once again and guaranteed to get your fist pumping in the air.  The Motorhead style of "Beg to Differ" leads us into the album's title track, "Live Fast, Die Loud" and closes up with the driving anthem of "No More Man".  All in all a fantastic listen, far, far superior to Rob Zombie's latest lack lustre offering, Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor in my opinion.

The praises of Beasto Blanco are being sung by the likes of actor Johnny Depp, Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain, Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee, famed producer Bob Ezrin, John Corabi and even Alice Cooper himself!  Live Fast, Die Loud is available for pre-order from Rat Pak Records and comes in a variety of options including, but not limited to the "ultimate fan bundle".  The package is equipped with the CD, a limited print lyrics and picture book, official concert shirt, sticker, Chuck Garric limited print guitar pics, Beast Blanco diamond plated ball cap and even a personal thank-you telephone call from Chuck Garric himself!

The Meister

Monday, October 28, 2013



1989, and it was the YEAR OF ROCK. Mötley Crüe was a strippers best friend, Bon Jovi was putting New Jersy on the map,and a group by the name of Skid Row was about to light the stage up with fury and reckless abandon. The band's self titled debut "Skid Row", produced by Michael Wagener, was not just a great album, but it set forth a whirlwind for the metal scene and helped in pushing metal forward, and they all just looked and sounded great!!

Released in January 1989, the album yielded a number of hit songs, and introduced the world to Rachael Bolan (bass), Dave 'The Snake' Sabo (guitar), Rob Affuso (drums), Scotti Hill (guitar) and Sebastian Bach (vocals). Their first single 'Youth Gone Wild' was a call to arms for metal fans to take arms and unite. The song was aggressive, and jaw breaking,the vocals screamed from beginning to end with reckless abandon, while Sabo shows what he's made of. I remember the first time I saw the video on MTV. I was excited and mindfucked at the same time. It was a gritty dirt like sound with vocals that sound like angels to a metal heads ears. The song sang of non conformity and going against what society was preaching at the time...and it was played EVERYWHERE.
'18 and Life' was the next single to be released, and it too was a hit for the band. The video was number one on 'Dial MTV' what seemed like for years. The song told a story of a kid,who had a rough life and lived on the edge daily, and listened to no one. He ends up shooting his friend and finds himself in prison, reflecting on his life.

The guys even dove into the power ballad pool with the hit 'I Remember You'. Probably one of the most powerful of the power ballad songs released that year (Steel Heart STILL holds the title however). But not that Bach can't hold his own vocally. I still play this song on several of my music lists, and I still choke up a little when I hear the song. Memories...
Skid Row,the album produced a few hits, and showed off the playing style of Bolan, Hill,and the vocals of Bach. This album, introduced us to a band that knew how to rock, and they rocked hard. Like GnR, this album was one of many soundtracks for some in the year on 1989-90. Not only did it produce several hits and introduce the band to the world, but it set forth the movement that helped keep hard rock/metal alive during its slow periods. Today, the album is 5X's platinum and still being sold (thanks to iTunes) and other file sharing sites. The guys have since parted ways and are on doing other things. But we fans can still hold out hope that maybe, like GnR just maybe they might be able to set aside differences for a reunion tour...DOUBT IT...BUT HEY, WE FANS CAN HOPE RIGHT??

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Episode 108 - Shock Rocktober


With Halloween fast approaching, we felt this week was the best time to go ahead and take a look into the history of Shock Rock. It's time for Shock Rocktober!

In this hour-plus episode, Aaron and Chris Go back to the earliest days of Shock Rock with Screamin' Jay Hawkins all the way through Lordi today and along with some acts you may have missed the first time.

Before we get to the music, we're proud to announce a special prize giveaway brought to you by the Decibel Geek Podcast and Michael Wagener. We're giving away a free slot to Michael Wagener's upcoming 7-Day Production Workshop at Wireworld Studio near Nashville, TN. The week-long workshop begins on December 1st. The normal cost of this 7-day workshop is $2450.00. In this workshop, you'll learn hands-on technique in the birth of a song all the way through recording, mixing, and mastering. It's a unique chance to work with a music production legend in an intimate setting. To enter the contest, simply e-mail a letter to us along with an mp3 sample of your work (if available). The letter should state why you think you are the best candidate for this workshop and what you hope to get out of it. E-mail us at Deadline for submissions is midnight on 11/9/2013. Winner will be chosen and notified within 1 week. Good luck to all!

Buy Music! (Click Artist to Purchase)

Screamin Jay Hawkins
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Iggy Pop & The Stooges
Alice Cooper
Wendy O. Williams
GG Allin
Ozzy Osbourne
King Diamond
Lizzy Borden
Rob Zombie
Marilyn Manson
Murderdolls - Wednesday 13

Screaming Lord Sutch, The Doors, Frank Zappa, Black Sabbath, Sex Pistols, Twisted Sister, Motley Crue, Green Jelly, Rammstein, TOOL, Mushroomhead, Mindless Self Indulgence, Lady Gaga.

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Call us on the Hotline! (540) DBGeek - 1 or (540) 324-3351

Great Music, Great Cause, Great Party! - Let's Rock...


I have often heard that Music is the best medicine and I believe that much of that is true. Music can lift your spirits when your feeling down, it can pump you up when you need inspiration, it can calm you down when you are stressed out and it can bring people together in times of need. It is that last point that I am writing about this morning.

Most of you probably don't know local rock promoters, Leigh Wilson-Iafanatsie and her husband Art but the readers at the Decibel Geek website have them to thank for many of the reviews and interviews that have been published right here.

I was first "officially"  introduced to Leigh and Art at the Rockpile Nightclub here in Toronto when I was on assignment to interview Brighton Rock. When I arrived, I was welcomed with a friendly handshake and was presented with handmade "press" tour laminates that Leigh had prepared for Rich (the Meister) and myself. Art and Leigh made us feel completely welcome and comfortable, insuring we had everything we needed and beyond that they took genuine interest into our lives and families. It's not often that you meet such warm and friendly people today.

When Honeymoon Suite came through town, Art and Leigh insisted that time be granted for at least one press interview, informing the Decibel Geek that it was to be ours and ours alone. That was awesome, and when I informed them that I was involved with the League of Rock and was having a great time in my own band, they immediately offered my band "opening" slots for shows they were working. It didn't matter that they hadn't even heard a note, I was "family" and if we wanted to play they were willing to make it happen.

Leigh was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently undergoing weekly treatment for this disease. As if that weren't enough, it was also learned that she is also dealing with cervical cancer as well. As it turns out Canada's (wonderful?) health care system only covers about 70% of the treatment and medical costs, leaving a heavy financial burden on this family.

In the very short time I have known this couple, I have witnessed many occasions their tireless efforts to help others. Fundraising for many different charities, causes and friends in need, Art and Leigh are often the first to arrive and the last to leave. In short, they are just good people. So when I heard that Art and close friend Monique Richardson were planning a "2 Day Weekend of ROCK - Halloween Party!" in benefit for Leigh, I knew exactly where I would be, it was time to give something back for this amazing lady.

Yes it's me
So on Friday night, I headed out to "Legends on the Queensway" wearing my platform boots, some leather and a little makeup (Halloween Party, remember?) for the first night of the festivities. The lineup of bands that donated their time for this party is a true testament to Leigh and her family. There were so many bands that wanted to be involved that the Friday night had to be split using both the upstairs and downstairs of the club! I can only imagine the hours it took to pull this event together, Monique and Art pulled out all the stops and in my opinion they pulled off one hell of a rock and roll party for those lucky enough to be in attendance. It was a whirlwind of activity and with bands playing simultaneously I was unable to catch every detail but will do my best to cover some of the many highlights of the weekend. My apologies to the bands I missed.


Daniela Cas
The night got under way with an acoustic performance from Daniela Cas. Mixing her original songs with a few of her favorite cover songs, she did a fine job in getting the party started and warming up the crowd for what would soon be a much louder and scarier evening ahead.

I am not sure quite how to explain what happened next, for those that were there you know of what I speak. The next band to take the stage was "Arteste" and mere words can not describe what my ears bore witness to. Arteste delivered a blistering set that encompassed their entire 11 song CD in it's entirety. The sonic blast of this new hardcore metal band lasted an entire 13 minutes or so. Yes, you did read that correctly, this band ran through 11 songs in just over 13 minutes! Comprised of Mark Macpherson on drums, Steve Macpherson on guitar, Steve Maclaren on bass and the riveting vocal styling of one ART WILSON-IAFANTASIE, the performance shook the foundations and had patrons quoted as saying "what was that?!?" This performance will go down in the annals (or is that anals) of rock history. For those that missed it, maybe a world tour will follow once we get Leigh back into fighting shape as Art is truly a rock star personified. (note, I tried my best to keep a straight face while writing that paragraph)


I spent the next few minutes bouncing upstairs and downstairs catching part sets by "Shotgun Nun" and "OzGoode" both bands played great and I wished I could have been present completely for both bands. "Skrou" was up next and they blasted through a great set of mostly 80's melodic metal tunes from the likes of Whitesnake, Ratt and the Scorpions. I have witnessed this band play a couple times now and they always entertain playing some great party rock.

"My Favorurite Headache"

The last band I was able to catch was Rush tribute band "My Favourite Headache", a band I have often heard about but for some reason have never caught live. WOW! is my review of their set. Covering Rush is no easy feat, covering them well is even scarier but these guys have studied hard as each song came off ever so close to the Canadian Gods we know and love. Red Barchetta, Tom Sawyer, Closer to the Heart, the Trees and Workingman were among some of the Rush classics that MFH entertained the crowd with.

That was it for me, with only one more band to go, Gene Simmons had to leave to rest his poor aching feet. Walking around in platform boots that are a size too small is tough on any music reporter.


Upon arrival, I offered my assistance and worked the night at one of the fundraising games that was set up. This was perfect as I had a great view of the bands and was able to help out as well. Saturday's bands were all on the one floor so I was able to kick back and enjoy each bands set entirely and entertained I was...

The first band going on after I arrived was "Gladheart", they played some great guitar driven originals filled with some great hooks. Definitely a band I will check out again soon.

"Screamin' Evil Blues Band"

Next up were "Screamin Evil Blues Band" who blew me away playing some 4 on the floor straight ahead blues rock with attitude. I love to see a band who enjoy themselves onstage and interact with the crowd and this they did with style. George Thorogood's You Talk Too Much never sounded more authentic, these guys were just plain FUN!

"OhMG" played a fun set of cover tunes playing everything from Bon Jovi, Led Zeppelin, Alanis Morissette and an amazing version of the Who's "Baba O'Reilly" with the keyboard intro converted into a killer six string guitar intro. Great songs and the Rocky Horror's "Time Warp" was a blast.

It was around this point of the evening a couple approached the table asking me some questions about the fundraising raffles and how everything worked. As I explained the different prizes and ways to win, they asked me how I was affiliated and how I knew Leigh and Art? I told them and I asked the same to them. I was quite taken aback when they told me, they didn't know Leigh at all but had stumbled across the information online and decided to spend their night out at the fundraiser instead of giving their money to just some bar. I apologize that I have forgotten their names but they pulled up some chairs, sat down and enjoyed the rest of the music. Very cool indeed.

Hamilton band "Tommy Gunn" hit the stage for an original set. Lead singer Tommy introduced the set saying "we are Tommy Gunn and I hope you like our sound" Like it I did! Being a former Hamiltonian myself, I immediately recognized a certain "sound". Teenage Head have it, the Forgotten Rebels have it and Tommy Gunn has it too, sort of a streetwise, steeltown toughness that bleeds into the music. "The Hamilton Hounds" and "Go Go Go" were my personal favourites from the set. Oskee Wee Wee boys!

Monique and "Limitless"
Closing out the night, was "Limitless" featuring lead vocalist Monique Richardson. as if she didn't have enough with the planning, organizing and emceeing the event, she also got to rock the stage herself with her amazing cover band. High energy rock and roll featuring Zeppelin, Judas Priest, Neil Young and Sabbath it was a great way to wrap up an amazing 2 days of rock n roll. As Monique belted out Zeppelin's "Whole lotta Love", I laughed as the woman sitting beside me exclaimed  "Holy shit-balls that chick can sing!"

It was an amazing party to be a part of, thank you for the invite. Thanks to all of the bands that took the time to come out and entertain. Thanks to all the volunteers that helped make things run smoothly all weekend. Thanks to Legends on the Queensway for the hospitality and to all those that donated the great prizes. Great music, great friends and a great cause, it was an amazing weekend. Lastly to Leigh, your rock n roll family has spoken, now get yourself better so we can keep on rocking.

Queensrÿche in England - With Queensrÿche's Own Kate Campbell

Queensrÿche in England
                                                                                   by Kate Campbell

So, here I am, after much anticipation - I am finally in England. The pinnacle moment of my trip is less than 48 hours away now and to say I'm excited doesn't even scratch the surface.
This trip was, to say the least, spontaneous. After suffering the huge disappointment of Queensrÿche not being booked on the Monsters of Rock Cruise in 2014, and after I had booked my trip in anticipation of them making the return voyage - (my bad!) - a number of cool events took place, which have ultimately ended up with me here in England, about to meet the band.

So far, it's been an amazing opportunity to visit with family and reacquaint myself with my heritage. It's been almost three decades since I've been 'across the pond'. I've been lucky enough to tour the historic town of Tetbury - where my mother grew up, and I've spent a day wandering around my cousin's hometown Cirencester - another small, quaint town steeped in beautiful architecture and character.

I'm staying with the Kates. My cousin Kate, her partner Kate and me - we make up the Kate 3 crew,

(although we've been referring to Kate #2 as Brenda to make it a bit less confusing).  The three of us will be attending the show and meeting the band.

My Facebook friend and fellow Queensrÿche superfan Matt is currently in London about to see their Islington show. I'm looking forward to hearing from him after the show.

The Kates are considerably younger than me and prior to my random self invitation to fly to England, crash on their couch and take them to a concert, they had no previous knowledge of Queensrÿche. They have done their research though and are becoming fast fans.

I've been in England now for a few days and it's now the morning of the show. We had a rather late night last night and then, as I'd expected, I woke up very early, like a six year old on Christmas morning. I'm trying not to overthink the whole thing. I feel as though the last thirty years of my life as a Queensrÿche fan have all led up to this moment. (How's that for not overthinking it!)?

I know the show will be phenomenal. There's no chance it could be anything else. How it will feel to meet the band, however, is something I just can't predict. I am more excited than I have ever been!!

We're on our way to Wolverhampton.  It's a typical English day - rainy and cold. The Kates purchased some quintessential Queensrÿche music - Operation:  Mindcrime - for our drive today. I have goosebumps inside and out!!! I can't help but think about how all this came to be. After finding out that Queensrÿche had not re-booked on the Monsters Of Rock Cruise, I had posted my disappointment on their Facebook wall (still partially believing they would tell me it was a mistake). To my delight, they replied to my post, saying they were sorry to disappoint and would hopefully be on the 2015 cruise. Not the response I was hoping for but I was thrilled just to have a small dialogue with them. My friend (and former band mate, Stu) then messaged them to suggest that they get their dive licenses so they could scuba dive with him on the 2015 cruise and make me jealous - to which they replied "We're already in enough trouble with Kate as it is!"  Again I was stoked!! Another mention!

I was out with friends at a local rock bar when I had the idea to fly to England and see Queensrÿche. Why not?! I'm at a point in my life where I've worked (and continue to work) very hard and playing hard is the reward. I booked my flight while standing at a local Toronto rock bar called The Rockpile, watching the Dio Disciples play a killer show.

My excitement grew. Queensrÿche's album was set to be released soon and I had called dibs on reviewing it with my Decibel Geek counterparts. It took me longer than I'd expected to finalize my review. I loved the CD instantly but I had so much more than just that to say.  For me, it was closer to my heart than any review I had ever written. I finally finished and immediately sent it to the Queensrÿche Facebook page and the Queensryche Official website in hopes of approval and for them to post it to the band member's individual sites. I received a response much faster than I had expected. "Wow" they said. "Thank you Kate! We'll post it soon". I was delighted. I must have checked Facebook a hundred times and then later in the day, I received another message saying "Don't worry Kate, we're saving the best for last!"  At 9:00 pm on Friday night, my review went live on their page. They introduced it by referring to me as 'their own Kate Campbell'!! That's right...'their own'!!!!!!

After I came down from the clouds I decided that this might be the perfect opportunity to pursue a lifelong dream. I posted on their Facebook wall "since I am now 'your own Kate Campbell', would you do me the honor of letting me meet you since I am flying all the way from
Canada to Wolverhampton just to see you?"

I had no expectations but again they responded. "No promises Kate but we'll see what we can do." I just responded with a smiley face but then, that's where my friends decided to step in.  Dawn started it - posting some lovely words about me and urging Queensrÿche to allow me this opportunity. More friends followed suit. The outpouring of love was overwhelming. Even a stranger (now a friend) named Rita chimed in and by the next morning, there was a post on my wall from Queensrÿche urging me to check my messages. Dawn saw it before me. I received an urgent text from her..."check your FB messages!!!!!" I did and there it was.

So that is how I got just a mere three hours away from a dream coming true!

Yes, a picture says a thousand words...
 ...and I have at least a thousand more after the incredible evening I've just experienced.

We arrived at Wulfrun Hall two hours before the doors opened as instructed. There were a few people milling about and the trucks were being unloaded into the venue. I spotted a guy wearing a Queensrÿche ID and decided he might be the guy to ask since it was a bit unclear what we were supposed to do next. He introduced himself as James and told us he was in charge of merch. When I told him why we were there, he immediately went off to find Fozzy, the band's tour manager. Fozzy was awesome. He treated us like royalty - inviting us in to watch the sound check and then to stay to watch an interview with the band. We were the only people (other than the crew and the opening acts) in the venue. As soon as the band was done the interview, Fozzy asked them to come down from the stage to meet some friends. Us!!!

The whole band came down with smiles and hugs. It was truly beyond my wildest dreams. I asked them if I could do individual photos and then a group shot and if they would sign my shirt, my jacket, my CD and my Decibel Geek review of their recent CD. They graciously did it all.
They were so fantastic!! We thanked them for their time and they thanked us for coming, leaving me in  a bit of a surreal state of mind. It all seems like a dream, because, in fact, it was. And now it's a reality!

We decided to grab a quick bite to eat before the show so we wandered in to a local bar/restaurant and had a quick cocktail and some dinner while we reflected on the events so far.

We missed the first opening act but my new friend Simon said they were a bit screamy for the bill and we know how much I like 'screamy' so that was just fine by me. The second band was a local group named Awake by Design. Much more suited to this bill and I quite liked them. Four out of six had fantastic hair and weren't afraid to use it!! The singer was a bit of an egomaniac but they were a good solid band and I'll probably look them up sometime.

Then the moment we were all waiting for. The intro started and one by one Queensrÿche took the stage. They opened, as I've seen them do before, with Queen of the Reich. An amazing song and an immediate showcase of Todd's voice for those who haven't yet had the pleasure.
The set list was similar to the last two shows I've seen except for the addition of a couple of tracks from the new CD.  As usual it didn't disappoint. For me, this show surpassed all others. Not only were we right in the front row, but Todd kept acknowledging me throughout the concert. For real ! It was awesome! At one point he motioned to me for my camera so I handed him my phone and he proceeded to take photos of each band member and then the audience. I was stunned!

Photo credits left and below to Todd La Torre

I tried not to have too many expectations and this whole experience ended up exceeding anything I could have ever imagined.

Queensrÿche are incredibly gracious and show such a great respect for their fans, it's nothing less than heartwarming. One always hopes their idols will be everything they have always believed they are and in this case, my dreams were realized in exponential fashion. This has been a once in a lifetime experience for me. I've dreamed of this for thirty years and to have that dream come true is unforgettable.

My deepest respect and thanks go out to Queensrÿche, Fozzy, Tina and all of my friends who knew just how important this was to me.

Rÿche on brothers and sisters.

The new chapter of Queensrÿche has begun and it's going to be better than ever.

Wild Wagener Week - Back In the Streets


Wild Wagener's Week: "Dokken - Back In The Streets".

First off, let me say; THIS IS NOT DOKKEN!!!!! 

Ok, that said, Dokken was one of the premier rock bands to come out of the L.A. Sunset Strip scene with such alum as Motley Crue, W.A.S.P., Ratt, and Quiet Riot.  Dokken started out in the early 80's as a band called Airborne, with Don Dokken on lead vocals and guitars, Tom Croucier on bass, and Bobby Blotzer on drums.  Tom would later leave and be replaced by his brother Juan, (who would later end up in Ratt with Blotzer). When Don asked George Lynch and Mick Brown, who were playing together in The Boyz and Exciter, they initially turned him down.   

They later joined up, and under the new name Dokken, released Breaking The Chains.  In reading Blotzers book a few years ago, he did tell the story of him being in Germany touring with Vic Vergat, when Don approached him to play on some demo's, which later turned into Breaking The Chains.  It is unclear if he is actually on the released album, or if it is all Mick Brown.  I did attend an after party a few years ago, where Bobby was promoting his book, and he refused to sign a copy of the Dokken album when someone handed it to him.  I didn't clearly hear his reason but I did hear something of the lines of "I'm not on it, so I can't sign it".  With the release of Breaking The Chains, Juan left to stay with Ratt and in comes Jeff Pilson.  Now as a 13 year old kid, who saw the Breaking The Chains video and didn't understand why the guy in the video wasn't the guy pictured on the album, it later did get reported in Circus magazine that the new bassist was Jeff Pilson. 

In 84' Dokken released Tooth and Nail which shot up the charts and got tremendous rotation on MTV with the videos for Into The Fire, You Just Got Lucky, and then with the power ballad Alone Again.  I bought the album and quickly fell in love with both Don's voice and George's guitar playing.  He quickly became my all time favorite guitar player, behind Randy Rhoads, who had already passed on.  To me, Dokken was the top of the heap, with follow up albums, Under Lock and Key, and then Back For The Attack.  I don't understand why they weren't headlining arenas instead of Ratt, who started headlining with their 2nd release Invasion Of Your Privacy.  Although Ratt was a great band musician wise, Stephen Pearcy was horrible live, and Don Dokken was great live all the times I saw them, which was a lot.  There were always rumors of infighting between Don and George and as fast as they rose, they imploded and broke up in 89' after the release of their live album Beast From The East.  I got to personally know Don between 89 and 90 when I was stationed in AZ when I was in the Air Force, and he did tell me some stories about why he and George fought constantly. That story will be told at a later time, as I only know one side and I'm sure George will say different, and I did ask George when I met him a few years ago, and his comment, "No Comment". 

In 1990, Don released his first solo album Up From The Ashes, which I was given a cassette demo copy of before the release as I was being deployed over to Irag for the first Gulf War in August of 1990. Thank you Don, that album got me through a lot of dark times in the desert. 

Jump forward to 1993. I was living in Odessa, TX and I went into a CD Warehouse. I had never heard of these CD stores before, and finding a place that sold used CD's for under $10 was a dream come true to me.  As I was trolling thru the rock section, I came across the D section and there I found a new Dokken album called Back In The Streets.  I thought I hit the jackpot as I followed this band wholeheartedly, even without the internet, and thought I had everything they had released.  But, as I pulled the CD out and looked at the picture on the cover, I knew this was not the Dokken we all knew and loved here in the USA.  I opened it and saw the track listing and on all the songs it did say Dokken, Lynch, Pilson in some form or another so I bought it thinking that maybe the cover was wrong or something.  The minute I got home and put it in, I knew immediately that this was NOT George Lynch playing guitar.  The only song on this album that went on in another form was Track 2. Felony.  It was reworked for Breaking The Chains. As for the other tracks, I have read comments online that the track Prisoner, which is live here, was reworked for Back For The Attack, but this is untrue as the song Prisoner on Back For The Attack was totally written by the band and this demo was not used for it at all.  The tracks on this album, even in demo form, are much harder than the music that came in 79' when this was recorded.  It sounded like 80's music but was from the 70's.  Don Dokken always knew where he wanted to go musically and what he wanted his band to sound like.  He was a visionary. 

This was one of the first albums that Michael Wagener produced, and as he stated in the podcast interview, it was Don Dokken who talked him into coming to the states where he became the great producer that he is known for being.  I do know now, thanks to the internet, that this was released without Don's permission therefore Don considers it strictly a bootleg that hardcore fans would want to acquire.  I feel lucky enough to have gotten this CD for $6 as now its going on Amazon from $30 up to $400 depending on where you get it.  The songs are good, but I would only suggest you buy this if you are just a collector or really just want to have anything that Dokken, or Don rather, put out or recorded.

Wild Wagener Week - Bonfire


Michael Wagener has been such a big influence on rock and metal style music for decades, having his name associated with a great number of albums in my collection and I'm sure in yours as well.  He has credits from producing to mastering, to mixing to recording and some of my all time favourite albums appear to be touched by his hand of gold.  A partial list of his stunning work can be found here and I bet you'd be hard pressed to say you didn't own at least a few of these gems.
One band that he worked with that may not have such a large name over here in North America is Bonfire.  I myself was only recently turned onto these Germans originally founded way back in 1972 in Ingolstadt.  The band was formed by Hans Ziller and Claus Lessmann (both in the current Bonfire line-up) and they played locally garnering a following and even a record deal under the moniker of Cacumen.  Enduring several roster changes over the next few years and signing to BMG also saw them updating their look to the popular 80's hard rock/glam style and switching to the more marketable name of Bonfire by 1986.

Wagener worked on their second and third releases, 1987's Fireworks and 1989's Point Blank, both of which he produced, recorded and mixed, the latter achieving gold record sales.  Fireworks was completed with a guest drummer, Ken Mary who you may recognise from House of Lords, Impellitteri, Alice Cooper or even Accept, as the actual drummer was fired during during the writing sessions.  Before the release of Point Blank more line up changes ensued including the dismissal of
Hans Ziller due to his issues with the record company and the band's management.  Ziller was still credited on the record as 10 of the 17 songs included here were composed by him.  Guest Freddy Curci, known from Alias and Sheriff, also appeared on the record.  At one point after this, Lessmann himself even departed the band and they continued with a new vocalist.  Both Ziller and Lessmann are now not only back in control of Bonfire, but the only holders of the rights to the name.  The latest effort is 2013's Schanzerherz which was made for Ingolstadt's football (soccer) team.

Here's a couple from Fireworks......

.....and one from Point Blank.

Both albums are a great listen from cover to cover and are only a selection of the music contained in the thirteen studio albums that Bonfire has released.

The Meister
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