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Monday, January 31, 2011

Everybody Wants Some (even 27 years later?)

Grammy-winning producer John Shanks has confirmed via Twitter that he is working with Van Halen on the band's upcoming studio album.  The group is allegedly planning on recording the next CD at John Shanks' Henson studio as well as the band's 5150 studio, making it the first time Van Halen will track an LP outside its own studio since it was built in 1983.  That was the story posted on on January 21, 2011, after Shanks uploaded a pic of Eddie's 5150 amp with the message "here we go kids....vh" on Twitter.  Previous stories of plans to record a new album following the 2007-2008 tour had been dismissed as rumors by Eddie's wife on the Van Halen News Desk, so while the smart fans will wait for official word from Eddie and Alex themselves, it appears that for the first time since Roth has returned to the band a new album is definitely in the works.

While this is an exciting development for Van Halen fans, it is not the reunion that fans of the original lineup have been waiting 27 years for, since original bassist Michael Anthony was replaced by Eddie's son Wolfgang.  According to some reports, it was Wolfgang who got the ball rolling to get Roth back in the studio after he, Eddie and Alex had been jamming on some early VH material.  It was announced in 2007 that Van Halen would go on tour with David Lee Roth, which Michael heard about on the Internet. 
Rather than taking any jabs at his former bandmates, he urged fans to go easy on Wolfgang, calling the bassist "a great kid" and adding, "Don't judge him too harshly — I'm sure he'll do just fine."  The tour grossed over $93M, making it the most profitable tour to date for Van Halen.

Since the end of the 2004 tour with Sammy Hagar, Michael and Sammy have been playing together regularly, including with Chickenfoot, the band they co-founded with guitarist Joe Satriani and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith.  Micheal announced recently at NAMM that recording would begin for the 2nd Chickenfoot album on January 29th, so although he is not recording WITH Van Halen, they are both recording new music.  I am mildly curious about a new VH album, mostly because I did enjoy the 2 tracks that Roth recorded for the "Best of Volume 1" album in 1996, but ultimately I think Chickenfoot is a much stronger unit who have benefited from Sammy and Michael's continued playing through the years while Ed and Alex have fallen into obscurity.  Van Halen's next album can be nothing short of perfection if they are ever to be a relevant presense in Rock music again, and without Michael Anthony that is almost impossible.

I would love to hear from Roth era fans about your thoughts on the '07-'08 tour and the new album in the works.  I'd also love to hear from Hagar era fans like me who think VH is OVER!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

What Is And What Should Never Be

September 25th, 1980, the day that legendary drummer John "Bonzo" Bonham passed away, marked the official demise of Led Zeppelin as a unit and Robert Plant, the admittedly aging frontman who has turned to Bluegrass in recent years, insists it stay that way despite overwhelming enthusiasm 30 years later for new music.

After a one-off "reunion" show at London's 02 Arena in 2007, which included Plant and Zeppelin bandmates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, along with Jason Bonham filling his father's shoes (quite ably), conversations were rampant about a possible tour with this lineup, the closest possible thing to Led Zeppelin.  In the time following the reunion show, writing sessions took place between Bonham, Page and Jones who intended to tour with a new frontman.  Singers were auditioned, including favorite Myles Kennedy, frontman of Creed spin-off Alter Bridge, before the reunion was scrapped.  So far, nothing has come of the songs that were written, some of them co-penned with Kennedy, and you can bet you won't hear Plant's voice on any new recordings.

During an early 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, Plant discussed the 02 Arena reunion show and tour rumors by saying "It was an amazing evening.  The preparations for it were fraught and intense, but the last rehearsal was really, really good, for all that it represented and all that we were trying to capture.  But I've gone so far somewhere else that I almost can't relate to it...It's a bit of a pain in the pisser, to be honest. Who cares? I know people care, but think about it from my angle — soon, I'm going to need help crossing the street."  In a previous interview from December 2010, when asked about the 2007 show he replied "I really had a wonderful time," said Plant. "It was the best Led Zeppelin gig since 1975."  When asked if he would do it again, Plant replied, "I don't think so. You've got to have a lot in common with the people you're working with at this time in your life. Everything has to move on and forward, in all relationships."  Plant's turn to Bluegrass won him Grammy gold with the album "Raising Sand" he recorded with Alison Krauss, which he followed up with "Band of Joy" that continued the pattern of change.

Jason Bonham wrapped a 39-city North American tour of his critically acclaimed "Led Zeppelin Experience" in December of 2010 and has talked of a 2nd leg coming this Spring.  Just before the tour wrapped, Jason sat down during part of the "Mark and Brian Christmas Show" on KLOS and was asked about a possible DVD release of the 02 show.  "Nothing is official, as yet.  I only know that because Robert had said that he'd watched it. I really do hope that it eventually will see the light of day. It's just nice to know that Robert had seen it, so I knew something, but it was nice that he rang up and said, 'Wow, it sounded great.' Fingers crossed, everybody…fingers crossed."

One popular opinion among rock fans chiming in on forums is that the legacy of Led Zeppelin should be left alone, untarnished by any future actions of the surviving bandmates (which would not be considered "Led Zeppelin" anyhow).  Personally, as an admirer of the Coverdale/Page album, a successful collaboration between Page and Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale, I could envision him to be a good candidate for new material.  Until Page, Jones and Bonham revisit the material they wrote with any kind of intent to move forward, and until the DVD release of the 02 Arena reunion show is announced, we have to rely on what's already out there, and if you ask me, things could be a lot worse (are you listening, Steven Tyler?).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Raise Your Glass for Number 1 (1/1/11)

Another year has gone by, a year full of accomplishments, progress and promise for the years to come.  I'm not a fan of paying much attention to the past, but I have to use last year's resolution to write "no less than one new post per week" as an example of why I hate resolutions so I won't be announcing any for 2011.

Just so you don't think I'm starting the new year completely void of optimism, I will say that our accomplishment of becoming homeowners after our year and a half battle (see previous post), has left me feeling that luck is finally on our side.  Although our son still calls our home "the new house" we've settled in quite well.  Progress slowed down a bit after moving in, but the work that is left can be done over time and with the housing market as it is we will be here for a while.

If there is one promise, NOT a resolution, I can make for 2011 is that I will be taking the 1st place trophy home from the annual Sawyer Rib-Off.  I have mastered the smoker, and I will have plenty of opportunities to practice before Memorial Day on the new one I got for Christmas.  I won't make any promises to write more, but I will make a conscious effort to take opportunities to throw up more posts than I did last year (11 posts in 365 days is just pathetic!) and much more consistently.  After all, we should be doing what makes us happy and passing up the chance to write on my blog as I work through lunch to pick up slack for someone's bad planning certainly does not qualify.

Best of luck all of you who still make resolutions and I wish you all a Happy New Year.  Please leave comments when you stop by, and ideas for new posts!