# CDLXXXVII…Rock Spotlight, Vol. XII…”God Damn Evil”, Stryper (Released 04-20-2018)…

For this latest edition of the Spotlight, I would just like to say that this band was the subject of the very FIRST Rock Spotlight (Post # CCCLXXXVI from January of 2016)…the pro-Christian hard rock band Stryper, who has been around since 1983 {when I was just hitting my teenage years}.  As most of you out there are “bubblegum-addled”, allow me to enlighten you.  As this latest album features three of the four founding members [vocalist Michael Sweet, guitarist Oz Fox, and drummer Robert Sweet, with bassist Perry Richardson (who just replaced long-time bassist Timothy Gaines)], it is no surprise to me how this band has lasted so long.

Their message is abundantly clear…God is great!  Their music, however, is what cements this…from the early days (which I was in the minority as a fan, but haters will hate), their music is what has drawn me to them.  You don’t have to like the message to appreciate the music; I personally understand certain “truths” but it’s not my thing.  That notwithstanding, this latest release amazed even me…and I have been a fan of their stuff since Day One.  The notes and words of every single song on this album sometimes reflect the thing that I need in my life (a miracle LOL)…and the band members have proven that they can thrive, as they are celebrating 35 years in an industry that shuns them {Wal-Mart refused to sell this album…silly Wal-Mart, it’s bigger than you!}…and that is the only reason why I can sing their praises!

Opening the album, after the opening tones, the first track, “Take It to the Cross”, grabs hold of you and for the final ten songs, doesn’t let go.  Musically, from the highs and lows of the hymnal messages like “Sorry”, “Lost” and the title track, which would almost sound like a call for Armageddon (LOL), their twelfth studio release almost harkens back to the days of their 2005 release, “Reborn”, which was after a fifteen-year hiatus!  Songs like “You Don’t Even Know Me”, “The Valley” (yes…that “valley” reference is in there) and “Beautiful” just sing of how much love for The Creator that they possess; you can see that in songs like “Can’t Live Without Your Love” and “Own Up”.  The kicker, however, is the last track; an uncharacteristically-speedy tune called…wait for it…”The Devil Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, which should pretty much tell you EXACTLY how they’ve lasted this long!

A truly five-star masterpiece from a band that most of you have NEVER heard of…which is sad because we need to hear more positive music these days!

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

 

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# CDLXXXVI…Irving Plaza, 04/20/2018 (Battle Beast, Delain & Kamelot)…

After patiently waiting since November, when the tickets were finally in my budget, last night was the culmination of one of the biggest birthday weekend bashes that I’ve had in quite a while.  It was a chance to see Delain (a group I’ve written about here numerous times AND have seen once before), Battle Beast (whose albums I purchased after the tickets due to the fact that radio stations don’t play good music anymore) and Kamelot (who have been around since 1991).  From a neophyte writer’s perspective, though, all the pop music being blasted into your noggins nowadays PALES in comparison to the music from this show!

Upon arriving at the venue, the famed Irving Plaza on the East Side of Manhattan (on 15th Street), I had the unfortunate wait until the lines (which were around the corner when I arrived) had been culled for the advanced ticket holders and then for the VIP Meet-and-Greet (which was the ticket that I had purchased).  Once inside, however, that’s when things went golden…as I received a poster featuring Kamelot and a postcard-type thing for Delain (which, as I was told, was the only thing that they were allowed to sign LOL).  Waiting for my turn to arrive in the queue was maddening…I had been looking forward to this date, as I said, for a while and I’m usually impatient.

My marketing skills kicked in, once I reached the bands; I handed out my cards, explained that I was going to write about the show and proceeded through the line, having each of Kamelot’s members (who insisted that I write favorably about them, jokingly stating that “they knew where I lived LOL”) and Delain’s line-up (starting with asking vocalist Charlotte Wessels to sign my VIP pass {BTW, hers is the only signature on it!!!}, including the substitute drummer (who is a left-hander, like myself) and the female bassist (whom, I believe, was filling in for their usual bassist).  Upon having all ten members sign my merchandise, I was back around the line for the gratuitous photo with the bands (which, I will try to find later, as I would like to have a copy of THAT photo)!

After all of the hoopla of the meet-and-greet was finished, I found a spot not too far from the stage (about ten to fifteen feet from the front on the right side of the floor) and was just blown away by the band Battle Beast.  Being that I had just procured their catalogue of music, it was mind-blowing to hear the way that they enthralled the crowd.  Lead vocalist Noora Louhimo was on-point with her performances of a lot of the songs off their latest release, “Bringer of Pain” (which they performed the title cut as well as “King for a Day”, “Beyond the Burning Skies”, “Familiar Hell” and “Lost in Wars”) and a track from a previous album called “Black Ninja” (from their second, self-titled album, “Battle Beast”); all the while, she had the crowd in the palm of her hand and her audience participation skills were just wonderful to witness.

As far as Delain is concerned, I had already seen them (at Stage 48 in Manhattan about two years ago), so I was really looking forward to how the replacement bassist and drummer would fare; as usual, they did not disappoint, either; singer Charlotte Wessels’ angelic voice resonated through the venue with such hits as “Suckerpunch”, “Fire With Fire”, “The Hurricane” and “The Glory and the Scum” {from their latest album, “Moonbathers”}, as well as the tracks “Not Enough”, “Mother Machine” and, to finish their set, “We Are the Others” (all three from the album titled “We Are the Others”.  We in the crowd showed so much love and cheers that the band really seemed to appreciate all the kudos and ovations that they paused for a good two minutes to soak it all in!

As for the main act, Kamelot, I had heard from friends who’ve seen them that they were a great act to see live.  Those statements, however, did not prepare me for a night of AWESOMENESS!!  Singer Tommy Karevik (who only joined the band for their tenth album, “Silverthorn”) was a fireball in the fact that he had also enamored the sold-out show with his revving up the audience’s participation {we did participate, as expected, cheering and screaming with every song!!}  Performing their hits like “Amnesiac” and “Phantom Divine” from their latest release, “The Shadow Theory”, as well as awesome older tracks like “When the Lights Are Down” and “March of Mephisto” (from “The Black Halo” concept album) and “Rule the World” (from their eighth album, “Ghost Opera”), I can honestly say that my friends’ recommendation was not unfounded and have made me totally respect all this group has to offer!!!

As exhausted as I was at the end of it all (the show didn’t end until almost midnight and I didn’t arrive home until about 3 AM), I would not have traded it for anything; it was a well-spent $125 for a night full of memories that will NEVER be forgotten!

For those of you who’ve never heard of these bands (and I know there are QUITE a few of you out there), you might want to get off the pop and rap game…these three bands will jump-start your brain and make you see what GREAT music can be!!!!

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

# CDLXXXV…In Honor of Fredrick V. Johnson (04/17/64-08/08/15)…

As is every year on this date, April 17th, I would just like to briefly mention my late brother Fred’s birthday…on what would have been his 54th…and just relate to you all how much this third year without him, although heavy on my heart, will be a shining example of the legacy he left behind.  It was his fortitude and tenacity in the final days of his life that truly exemplified just how he truly was; unfazed by much, he did his own thing and could care less about negativity!

As a lot of his friends will tell you, the man didn’t have a hateful bone in his body.  His light, although gone from this mortal plane, still shines as brightly on this date than any other on the calendar!  Everyone would surely send their best regards and Happy Birthday wishes to you, brother…you will always be my guiding light and I miss you!

On today’s list of his birthday twins…late journalist Harry Reasoner (1923-1991), late music producer and TV pioneer Don Kirshner (1934-2011), 80s keyboard virtuoso Jan Hammer ( Miami Vice”) was born in 1948, late WWE icon “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (1954-2015), southpaw NFL quarterback/analyst (and New Yorker) Boomer Esiason (1961) and former NHL great Ken Daneyko (1964).

Former Tool vocalist Maynard James Keenan was born in 1964, former MLB star Marquis Grissom (1967), singer Liz Phair (1967), rapper/actor Redman (1970), the talented actress Jennifer Garner (loved her portrayal of Elektra) was born in 1972, singer Victoria Beckham, aka Posh Spice (1974) and the actress who starred in the American version of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, Miss Rooney Mara was born in 1985, as was co-vocalist Heidi Shepherd from the awesome metal band Butcher Babies (1985).

/,,,/ ROCK ON FRED \,,,\

# CDLXXXIV…Yet ANOTHER Excerpt…

Due to the fact that this date, April 7th, hasn’t been covered here on the blog, I figured that I would leave this little snippet…just due to the fact that I found the subject matter very intriguing.  If you’re not a sports fan, though, it may do nothing to arouse your palate but it does pique my interest (hence the reason it’s in the book to begin with)…

# li…Twins Are the Best…

April 7th, in case you haven’t been told yet, is the birthdate of one of the most famous set of twins to play in the same sport; former Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ star Ronde Barber (1975) and his brother, former New York Giants’ running back Tiki Barber (also 1975, natch), who, as a matter-of-fact BOTH played their entire careers in their respective cities.

They also have entered the broadcasting fields, as well; “Sunday Night Football” is where you can find Tiki and “The Onion Sportsdome” is where Ronde is currently.  As it turns out, they have also written eight children’s books together (since 2004).  As far as their playing careers go, though, Ronde is the only one with a Super Bowl ring.  To be fair, though, he did play on a team that was superior to his brothers’ New York Giants.

Celebrating as well with the twin stars are; late actress/singer Billie Holliday (1915-1959), late Indian sitar player, who was influential in the life of former Beatles guitarist George Harrison, Ravi Shankar (1920-2012), late actor James Garner (1928-2014), former “M*A*S*H” co-star Wayne Rogers (1933) and famed director/producer Francis Ford Coppola was born in 1939, as well as late journalist/game show host David Frost (1939-2013).

80’s side-man John Oates {of the rock band Hall & Oates} (1948), folk singer/guitarist Janis Ian (1951), actor and martial artist Jackie Chan (1954), former football star Tony Dorsett (1954), actor extraordinaire and singer (for a band named 30 Odd Foot of Grunts) Russell Crowe (1964), comedian Bill Bellamy (1965), Skillet bassist John Cooper (1975) and actor/wrestler David Otunga was born in 1980.

/,,,/ ROCK ON TWINS \,,,\

# CDLXXXIII…My Youngest’s Latest Milestone; 18!

An unusually frantic (unlike most of my previous days) Wednesday morning; April 5, 2000, saw the second miracle of my life, my youngest daughter Erin, come into this world, as usual, kicking and screaming (I should know…I saw the whole thing, LIVE {and didn’t pass out LOL like most men are prone to do}) and, along with her elder sister, have made my life something to be proud of!  As a former gambler, it pleases me to be able to convey to you about this event in the best way I can…I could walk into a store, buy a $5.00 scratch-off for $10,000,000 (which, would ensure that I would live like a king for a good long while) and, still, would NOT be as happy as I was on that beautiful day at the beginning of this millennium!

The fact that Erin was brought into this world eighteen years ago today is even more of a cementing of my legacy and, along with her sister, will hopefully bring good things for the next generations.  My little Erin Elizabeth is not so little anymore…which, as a father who’s been through it once already {the grey hairs PROVE that}, is just another way of reminding me personally of why I’m here; to make sure that my children become responsible and productive members of society!

In typical fashion, here are her birthday twins:  actor Spencer Tracy (1900-1967), late actress/diva Bette Davis (1908-1989), late actor Gregory Peck (1916-2003), the author of “The Roots”, Alex Hailey (1920-2004), former “Riddler” Frank Gorshin (1933-2005), United States General Colin Powell (1937), singer/guitarist (and Johnny’s brother) Tommy Cash (1940), Law & Order star Michael Moriarty (1941) and The Hollies’ frontman Allan Clarke was born in 1942.

Finishing this list are; late astronaut Judith Resnik (1949-1986), Swedish diva Agnetha Faltskog (from the group ABBA) (1950), The X-Files’ Mitch Pileggi (1952), former WCW/WWF superstar Diamond Dallas Page (1956), “Happy” singer Pharrell Williams (1973), actress Hayley Atwell (Captain America movies) was born in 1982 and professional wrestling’s Charlotte Flair (daughter of the iconic Ric Flair) was born in 1986.

/,,,/ ROCK ON “MI PRINCESSA” \,,,\

{Author’s Note:  Also, born in 1967, was late country star Troy Gentry (4/5/1967 – 9/8/2017)…}

# CDLXXXII…Rock Spotlight, Vol. XI…”Bringer of Pain”, Battle Beast (02-17-2018)…

In this latest installment of the Spotlight, I would like to bring to your attention the latest album by the Finnish metal sextet known as Battle Beast.  If you’ve never heard of them (which is no surprise to me, as a lot of you don’t listen to the same music), please allow me to elaborate on why this band (if you listen to groups like fellow countrymen Nightwish {who they toured on the release of their first album, “Steel”, in 2011} and Sonata Arctica {the band I met a few years ago}) should be on your radar.

Singer Noona Louhimo, guitarists Juuso Soinio and Joona Bjorkroth, bassist Eero Siplia (also backing vocalist), keyboardist Janne Bjorkroth (brother of guitarist) and drummer Pyry Vikki have been on the Finnish metal scene since 2010 (although they are listed as active from 2008, making this their TENTH year in the business), ripping up the Finnish metal charts due to their similarity to the above mentioned groups and their undying love of the industry.  They have only released four studio albums to date (“Steel” in 2011, “Battle Beast” in 2013 and “Unholy Savior” in 2015, which peaked in Finland at Number One) and, with this latest release also peaking at Number One (in Finland), they should be on your list.

This latest release from them, a thirteen-track, in-your-face romp through “oddness” (no offense meant; not too many people have great taste) starts with a track called “Straight to the Heart”, which features Noona Louhimo’s amazing voice just grabbing hold of you and not letting go, and continues with tracks like “Bringer of Pain” (awesome title track), “King for a Day”, “Familiar Hell”, “Lost in Wars” (nice track with former Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen) and the ballad-like “Far From Heaven” {which really shows Noona’s wonderful voice}.

Among my favorites on this album are the seventh track, a wonderfully upbeat song called “Bastard Son of Odin”, the eighth song, the anthem-like “We Will Fight”, and the final cut (bonus track called “Rock Trash”), which is also a play on the industry’s nuances of performing this type of music.  Overall, this is a four-star (my rating system, which usually means nothing to you LOL) masterpiece that would really be missed on today’s society, if I hadn’t reviewed it here.

The other reason that this album is being reviewed now is due to the fact that I will be (on April 20th of this year) seeing them for the first time…as I have tickets to a meet-and-greet with Delain and Kamelot in New York.  As I hadn’t heard of the band before buying the tickets (due to the fact that no American radio {other than Pandora.com}) plays great music like this, I had to do my “due diligence” for the music community and let you all know about them!

As always, my adoring readers, I will try to keep you informed of more of this great music as time goes on…for now, boycott the pop and rap music making your ears bleed (check out other avenues at your disposal!!!) and…

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

 

# CDLXXXI…In Memory of a Science Fiction Icon…

Since today is the birthday of one of the most iconic presences in the “Star Trek” universe, I will just leave the following excerpt (as it covers a couple more people than the other post for this date) right here…

# xxvii…The First Lady of “Star Trek”…

Today, February 23, would have been the birthdate of the late Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (1932-2008), whose presence in the “Star Trek” universe is unmatched, as she has portrayed two characters on multiple platforms of the science fiction franchise.  She was also, as her hyphenated name implies, the wife of creator Gene Roddenberry.  As a fan myself, I considered her worthy of being your celebrity birthday connection, as she was a very talented actress, as well.

She was also, oddly enough in case you didn’t know, the voice of all the computers on the “Star Trek” series, making her a truly unique character actress.  She is also being immortalized with her husband, as I just found out, in an upcoming space launch in 2018 *, as parts of their ashes will be in specially-made “capsules” and left in space.

Also celebrating on this short list are; actor/director Peter Fonda (1940), late guitarist/singer Johnny Winter (1944-2014), former football great Ed “Too Tall” Jones (1951), late Minnesota Timberwolves’ coach Flip Saunders (1955-2015) and rookie ‘Wolves phenom Andrew Wiggins (1995), Queensryche guitarist Michael Wilton (1962) and comedian Aziz Ansari was born in 1983.

Thanks for listening to this science fiction prone post…

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

(* denotes that the book shows “2016”…it has been updated on Wikipedia to “2018”…)

# CDLXXX…For My Eldest’s 26th…

The picture above is the personalized Zippo that I had ordered in honor of my daughter Mena’s 26th birthday, which (in case you just crawled out from under the rock) is today, February 4th, 2018.  Although it may not seem like the ideal gift for someone who doesn’t smoke anything, please allow me to elaborate; firstly, the other side of the lighter (pictured here) is brandished with a stylish outlay of her birth sign, Aquarius…

Secondly, she was actually the one who asked for only the lighter itself; when it came time to click the “pay” button, it actually gave me the option of the lines for personalization (which I took full advantage of, as you can see…)

I try my best to do what I can for both of my daughters, when it comes to things of the monetary kind…I’m not rich by any means so anything that I can do to make them happy fills my heart with an immense pride that not too many people would understand!  This gift to my daughter seemed the very least that I could give her to, given my lack of an overabundant financial status, but it’s a gift that I know will last forever…just like my love and pride for her on this, her special day!

As I do every year, I now present most of her birthday twins (which she is always in amazement over, and some of the names should speak for themselves)…late aviation legend Charles Lindburgh (1900-1974), late civil rights activist Rosa Parks (1913-2005), late “Diff’rent Strokes” patriarch Conrad Bain (1923-2013), late comedian/actor David Brenner (1936-2014) and movie producer George A. Romero (“Night of the Living Dead”, etc.) was born in 1940.

Continuing this laundry list are; former U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle (1947), rock-n-roll icon Alice Cooper (who we’ve both seen live) was born in 1948, actor Michael Beck (best known as “Swan” in the 70’s cult classic, “The Warriors”) joined the planet in 1949, New York Giants’ legend Lawrence Taylor (1959) and country legend Clint Black, who (in an odd coincidence) shares being born in the same hospital that I was born in {Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, NJ} joined us in 1962.

Finishing her twins’ list are; boxing legend Oscar de la Hoya (1973), singer Natalie Imbruglia (1975), rapper Cam’ron (1976), singer Gavin DeGraw (1977), wrestling sensation Chris Sabin (1982) and former Olympic medalist Carly Patterson was born in 1988.

To my daughter, I wish you nothing but the best that your 26th year has to offer.  Know that, for all the happiness that you’ve given me in your twenty-six years on this planet, the personalized Zippo was one of the very least things I could give you to make you happy!

/,,,/ ROCK ON MENA \,,,\

 

 

# CDLXXIX…”History from my teenage years, literally…”

The above title is from the book, ROCK ON DUDEZ, directly…as today rings familiar memories on a “post” with only a few birthdays but historic events that resonate personally from my years before my adulthood…

# xiv…History from my teenage years, literally…

It has come to my attention that this date, January 28th, will go down in history not for its celebrities so much…it will be known for two historic events that have happened in my lifetime.  The first, which happened in 1985, with a music project called USA for Africa, where the hit single, “We Are the World”, which was conceived by a conglomeration of music superstars like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Steve Perry, Ray Charles and the like, raised money for support of the impoverished nation of Ethiopia.

The second happened the following year, in 1986, when the US space shuttle Challenger exploded after liftoff.  It was an event that I had witnessed in the school library at Dickinson High School in Jersey City and clearly remember being stunned by it.  In a related twist to my personal life, one of the astronauts killed was teacher Christa McAuliff, who shares the name of one of the grammar schools attended by my youngest daughter.

Now, in addition to knowing some historic events, I present the list of “twins” for you…actor Alan Alda (‘M*A*S*H’) was born in 1936, 70’s supermodel Barbi Benton (1950), NHL Executive Vice President Colin Campbell (1953), singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan (1968), TV personality Mo Rocca (1969) and former TNA personality Shark Boy (1975).

Finishing this list are; former boy band star Joey Fatone (from *NSYNC) was born in 1977 , current WWE superstar Sheamus (1978), former Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter (1980), actor Elijah Wood (1981) and “Smallville”s version of Lightning Lad, actor Calum Worthy, was born in 1991.

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\

# CDLXXVIII…”Skeletor”‘s Milestone…

To all of my fans out there expecting an excerpt (as this date hasn’t been covered), I would like to disappoint you with an original post for those celebrating today, January 1, as their birthday.  It just so happens, this year, to be the eightieth birthday of iconic New Jersey actor Frank Langella (1938).  For those of you not familiar with him, he’s played many roles in his 40-plus year career, from the above-mentioned He-Man villain (in the campy 1987 movie, “Masters of the Universe”…which he considers, according to Wikipedia, “one of his favorite roles”) to Perry White in 2006’s “Superman Returns”.

He’s also appeared in countless television shows and a bunch of Broadway plays in his career (which started in 1970) and more than deserves this spot…contrary to my book’s entry, which only includes him as a sidebar, on this (his 80th birthday), he deserves all the kudos that come with this once-in-a-lifetime moment…many happy more to you, Mr. Langella…

Also celebrating on this first date of the year are/were; actor Don Novello (“Father Guido Sarducci” on the old Saturday Night Live skits) (1943), “Mouth of the South” wrestling manager Jimmy Hart (1944), former New Jersey governor Jim Corzine (1947), actress Dedee Pfeiffer (1964), late Kansas City Chiefs’ linebacker Derrick Thomas (1967-2000), actor Verne Troyer (“Austin Powers”) (1969), former wrestling “valet” Kimberly Page (1970), veteran NHL star Bobby Holik (1971) and Judas Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner was born in 1980.

As this is the first post of the year 2018, I can only hope that this year (my soon-to-be sixth on this blog) will be more productive, as I was down about 200 views from 2016 (it usually helps if I post, which I took a break from, for some time)…but, as always, I continue to persevere, as the writing is something that I’ve come to enjoy and I hope you all enjoy, too!

/,,,/ ROCK ON DUDEZ \,,,\