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Give The Man His Props – Gary Richrath

gary_richrath

I wanted to start a new series of articles on some guys who I believe are some of the finest musicians who seem to not receive the praise and adulation that they deserve. I’m naming this series “Give The Man His Props’, I hope you will come to enjoy my perspective and maybe even agree with me about some of the artists I am profiling. The first artist I want to take a look at is one of the most underrated guitarists of all time, Gary Richrath of REO Speedwagon.

When most people think of Speedwagon, they think of the power ballads like “Keep On Loving You”, “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” and many of the other soft rock favorites that are a staple of the Kevin Cronin era of the band. However, things were not always this way. REO started out as a rocking band with a bluesy, hard rock sound and the man that anchored that sound was Richrath. His solid riffs and virtuoso talent made the band musicially exciting for listeners, but the band struggled to find the right voice to lead the group as three lead singers came through the band. Cronin would return for good in 76 to cement his place as the band’s lead singer.

The band spent the 70’s as one of rock’s best kept secrets, and they made their name on the road delivering every night in concert (as 1977’s double album “Live: You Get What You Play For” displays). The band made a significant dent in the chart’s with 78’s “You Can Tune A Piano, but you Can’t Tuna Fish”, with hits such as “Roll With The Changes” and “Time For Me To Fly”.

After the lackluster results of “Nine Lives”, the band would break through to superstardom with the release of 1980’s “Hi Infidelity”. Although the album would go on to sell over 10 million copies and would include the Number One song “Keep On Loving You” and a Top 5 Smash in Richrath’s “Take It On The Run”, some saw the massive success as the band selling out and leaving their rock roots.

Although the band’s follow up album “Good Trouble” was  a Top 10 charting album, peaking at 7, it wasn’t as good as the previous. 1984’s “Wheels Are Turning” brought more success and another Number One song, “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore”. As Cronin continued to lead the band down the commercial path, Richrath continued to find himself unhappy in the band. 1987’s “Life As We Know It” would be his final recording with the band, as his relationship with Cronin deteriorated and he left the band. The man whose guitar work was such an integral part of the band was no longer the driving force. Richrath would be replaced in May of 1989 by former Ted Nugent sideman, Dave Amato, who has stayed with the band ever since.

Richrath would continue his career with a solo band, the self titled Richrath. They would release one album, 1992’s “Only The Strong Survive”. Unfortunately, Gary didn’t find success as soloist. Although he stayed active in music, Gary would never patch things up with Cronin enough for them to continue to work together as bandmates. In 2013, Richrath reunited with his former band at a benefit concert for a one off reunion, playing “Riding The Storm Out”.

Years of alcohol and substance abuse took a toll of Richrath, culminating in his passing in 2015. Although he never truly got the chance to reunite with the band that he carried for so many years, Gary will always be the guitar voice of REO. And no disrespect to Dave Amato, who has done an admirable job carrying on, but Richrath’s genius is what made REO special. If you’ve never really listened to REO before, I challenge you to check out their albums and take a listen.

Below are some of my recommendations for what I think is some of Gary’s finest playing. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and Let’s Give Some Prop’s to Gary Richrath!

RIP Gary.

Riding The Storm Out-Riding The Storm Out

Golden Country – Live:You Get What You Play For

Take It On The Run – Hi Infidelity

I Do’ Wanna Know-Wheels Are Turning

That Ain’t Love – Life As We Know It

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Concert Review: Ted Nugent at Freedom Hill Ampitheater in Sterling Heights, MI August 26, 2015

On Friday August 26th, The Motor City Madman returned home to turn Sterling Height’s Freedom Hill Ampitheater into his Madhouse! Ted Nugent‘s Detroit stop on his Sonic Baptizm tour was one of the most anticipated shows of the summer, as Detroiters couldn’t wait to hang out with Uncle Ted. Another legendary Detroit band, Brownsville Station, served as the open act and rocked the house as well. As expected, Nugent delivered a rockin set of his greatest hits and other fan favorites from a career spanning over five decades.

14079484_1048932175182947_2234898946579949952_nThe Nugent band is a rocking power trio, comprised of Nugent, longtime bass player/voclaist Greg Smith and a new addition in Detroit native, drummer Jason Hartless. The band delivered a fiery set, full of fan favorites like “Gonzo”, “Yank Me, Crank Me”, “Snakeskin Cowboys” and “Fred Bear“, as well as the classics such as “Stranglehold”,”Cat Scratch Fever”, “Free For All”, and “Motor City Madhouse”.

Even at the age of 67, Nugent is still one of the most iconic and ferocious guitar players on the planet; attacking each song with tenacity and virtuosity. Smith and Hartless provided a stellar rhythm section that laid down a great groove throughout the night. Friday night’s performance definitely satisfied longtime Nugent fans who filled Freedom Hill to capacity.

In a world thats full of unpredictability, Nugent continues to provide his signature guitar wizardry to his fans all over the country. If you get the chance to go, don’t miss Uncle Ted and company on this fantastic tour!

Here’s Ted and the band rocking out on “Motor City Madhouse

CD Review: “Greetings From Bunezuela!” by Bun E. Carlos

For nearly 40 years, Bun E. Carlos was the drummer for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees, Cheap Trick. Known for his trademark swing and swagger, Carlos and his bandmates became one of the top bands of the late 1970’s and thanks to their dedicated fan base, surviving through the years as many of their contemporaries faded away. Though Bun E. hasn’t toured with Cheap Trick since 2010, he has been staying active, regularly playing in various bands with friends in and around his hometown of Rockford, Illinois. When CT’s HOF induction was announced, Carlos began working on a solo project with some of his friends. The result, “Greetings From Bunezuela!”, is a fantastic collection of covers and a couple new ones thrown in for good measure.

81Dc22Ww4UL._SL1500_The cd kicks off with “Do Something Real”, with Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices on vocals. Pollard actually recorded this song in 1999, but this cover breathes new life into the song, giving it extra punch. Next we go back to 1967 with a cover of “Armenia City In The Sky” by The Who, which features John Stirratt of Wilco on vocals. I love the heaviness of this song combined with the swing Bun puts on this song. One of Carlos’ Tinted Windows bandmates, Taylor Hanson, and his brothers Isaac and Zac join Bun E. with a cover of Paul Revere & The Raiders classic, “Him Or Me”. There’s a great groove on this song, and the Hanson brothers do a great job on the vocals.

Next up is I Love You No More,  featuring Alex Dezen. Bun tackles an old Rolling Stones tune, “Tell Me“, with Alejandro Escovedo on vocals. This is one of my favorite cuts on the cd, Escovedo’s vocals have a “Bowie-ish” quality to them that gives the song a different kind of vibe. Soul Asylum frontman Dave Pirner joins Bun next for his cover of Bob Dylan’s, “It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry“. Where Dylan’s original cut was slower and bluesy, Bun and the boys have sped up the tempo a hair and have made it swing, great cut.  Pirner does a great job on vocals. Original Cheap Trick lead vocalist, Randy “Xeno” Hogan,  takes the lead on a cover of an Iris Dement song, “Let The Mystery Be”. 

Robert Pollard returns to cover a Bee Gees tune, Idea, which sounds fantastic. Nicholas Tremulius, a Chicago singer-songwriter, joins Bun for a cover of a gem from 1967, “Les Cactus“. This song straight up rocks, despite that the song is in French! Rick Rizzo of Eleventh Dream Day takes over the vocals for a cover of “I Can Only Give You Everything“, by Van Morrison & Them. Alejandro Escovedo returns to lend his vocals to a song he wrote, “Slow Down“, which really does slow the pace down. Xeno returns as well to sing “Count On Me‘. The album comes to a close with Alex Dezen returning to sing a new song of his, entitled “I Don’t Mind”.

It’s always hard to judge how good an album like this is going to be when every track has a different singer, but I really enjoyed this album.  Greetings From Bunezuela sounds like a good time, Bun E. surely must have had a blast recording this project because its reflected in every performance. Not only does Carlos sound fantastic, but he breathes new life into many of these older songs, introducing them to a new generation of fans. There’s also no doubt in my mind that Cheap Trick fans will love this cd when they hear it. This is one of my favorite albums I’ve heard this year, I give it 5 stars!

Be sure to pick up a copy of this record, you’ll be glad you did!

Review copy provided. 

 

Prog Out with Rush – Xanadu

When I think of the greatest bands of all time, my mind drifts to the Great White North to the boys from Toronto, Rush. In my opinion, no other prog rock band loomed larger in the late 70’s and early 80’s than the Triumvirate of Geddy Lee on vocals/bass guitar/keyboards/, guitarist Alex Lifeson, and “the Professor”, Neil Peart on drums. 1981 captured the band at the peak of their creative power with their classic, Moving Pictures. Exit…Stage Left was a live album and video documenting the band on tour at this period. Exit was truly the album that started by obsession with these guys and the track that settled it all for me was the cut of Xanadu.

Originally recorded on 1977’s A Farewell to Kings, it is Rush at their proggiest and one of their finest songs. The ESL performance is so amazing that I cannot help but listen to it all the way through, every time. Geddy, Alex, and Neil are absolutely amazing and on top of their game and if you want a picture of what these guys were capable of at the height of their popularity, this supplies all you need to see. I was so excited to hear the guys play this again on the R40 Tour last summer and it was just as amazing to hear it again some 35 years later.

Enjoy!

 

Recommended Listening – “Armenia City In The Sky” by Bun E. Carlos featuring John Stirratt

81Dc22Ww4UL._SL1500_My favorite track of the week is a cut off an upcoming solo project from legendary drummer, Bun E. Carlos. The Cheap Trick stickman is releasing a new solo recording, Greetings From Bunezuela on June 24th. Carlos previously released the albums first single, “Do Something Real”, featuring Robert Pollard on vocals. On Monday, we got Carlos also released his cover of The Who’s “Armenia City In The Sky”, featuring Wilco bassist/singer John Stirratt on vocals. Its a highly energetic track that pays tribute to the original cut but also has a great groove and vibe of its own.

You can preorder “Greetings From Bunezuela” now on iTunes and Amazon. Click here to follow Bun E. on his Official Facebook page.

Hey Everyone!

So, I decided to start a new blog, writing about the music that I love both past and present. I’m looking forward to sharing my opinions with you all. Hope you enjoy it!

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