Do you like to Rock? I sure do, and you know who else likes to Rock? Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. I love that band, but did you know that Joe brings The Rock with another band as well? That group is called Down ‘n’ Outz, and they are responsible for this week’s anthemic Video Clip, “This Is How We Roll. A little background: Elliott formed Down ‘n’ Outz in 2009 as a Mott the Hoople cover band of sorts, and he is joined by members of The Quireboys — including Paul Guerin, Guy Griffin, Keith Weir and Phil Martini. If you suspect that these guys rock hard enough to a crack skull, your suspicions would be correct
“This Is How We Roll” is an animated lyric video that follows the band’s tour bus down the highway enroute to a gig. Lyric videos are not generally my thing, but when you’re feelin’ it, who gives a shit? This song is like oxygen in a vacuum, and will remind you of the days when you used to stay home on Saturday nights to watch the original Headbangers Ball on MTV. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Watch out for the David Bowie Bobblehead on the bus’ dashboard, plus a couple additional nods to the Thin White Duke, because Joe is a fan! “This Is How We Roll” is from the title track from the band’s third studio album, which is out now on UMe. Enjoy!
Timing is everything. While being an openly gay singer or actor is absolutely no big deal at all today, it wasn’t that long ago that a gay entertainer stayed in the closet for the sake of his or her career. Rock fans who were around in the late 1970s may recall that Elton John went from being indisputably the Biggest Rock Star in the World to a virtual non-entity once he came out of the closet. His career eventually rebounded, but it took years. Even Freddie Mercury, the most famous flamboyantly gay musician in modern rock history didn’t officially come out of the closet until the day before he died. Because in the macho Rock Arena of that era, it may have been okay for the glam rockers to wear make-up and dress in drag, or for Bowie and Jagger to spin rumors about shagging each other, but to actually admit to being gay and to live the out lifestyle was career suicide. It just wasn’t done.
It is a fact that those artists who break ground rarely get to reap the rewards of their efforts. In many ways, the unique and deeply engaging new documentary, Jobriath A.D. is a heartbreaking cautionary tale about a genuinely talented and groundbreaking entertainer who woefully misjudged the commercial climate. Directed by Kieran Turner, Jobriath A.D. is the little known, true story of the short life and career of Jobriath Boone, the first openly gay Rock Star to be signed to a major label. We attended a screening of the film last Friday as part of 2012 New Fest, New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Film Festival, at the very comfy Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center. The screening was sponsored by SAGE.
Jobriath Salisbury (real: name Bruce Campbell; Salisbury being his mother’s maiden name) got his professional break in the mid-1960s, playing the part of Woof in the Los Angeles production of Hair. He eventually relocated to New York City, recorded one album with the band Pidgeon, earned a cache of artistic credibility, and embarked on a solo career. Jobriath teamed up with a Svengali-like manager, Jerry Brandt, who fancied himself a reinvention of Col. Tom Parker to Jobriath’s Elvis Presley, and the hype machine kicked into high gear as Jobriath’s advance marketing campaign saw the artist’s semi-nude likeness plastered across a massive billboard in Times Square and on the sides of buses from New York and LA to London.
Jobriath was actively marketed as a “True Fairy” – an openly gay American counterpart to David Bowie. By the time Jobriath’s debut for Elektra records dropped, everyone knew who he was, but no one was interested in buying his music. The in-your-face gay image had turned off straight audiences and genuinely frightened gay would-be fans as well. The backlash was absolutely brutal. Although Elektra allowed Jobriath to record a sophomore album, neither of his records sold or charted. Despite mostly positive critical reviews and highly praised live performances, Jobriath was dropped from Elektra and quickly slipped into obscurity. After working as a piano playing lounge singer and sometime prostitute, Jobriath died of AIDS in August of 1983 at age 36.
As an astoundingly gifted musician, singer, composer and actor, it seems obvious that Jobriath was ideally suited for success on the Broadway stage. But Jobriath wanted to be a Rock Star, and he paid the ultimate price for a tragic miscalculation of just what the record-buying public was, and wasn’t, ready for. While the filmmaker doesn’t editorialize or point any fingers, an easy conclusion to draw is that Jerry Brandt’s megalomania helped to steer Jobriath off course, and eventually to ruin his life. I wonder how Brandt sleeps at night, to be honest.
As sad as Jobriath’s story ultimately is, Jobriath A.D. is a beautiful and inspirational film. Kieran Turner – who took on this project as a labor of love – was able to locate high quality archival photos of the artist’s life, from childhood, and footage of Jobriath performing on stage in Hair, recording in the studio and performing on TV’s The Midnight Specialto a clearly perplexed audience. The action also maintains a compelling forward trajectory through many interviews with Jobriath’s half-brother Willie Fogle, his personal friends such as actress Ann Magnuson and actor Dennis Christopher, and professional associates such as Rock Journalist Jim Farber, Studio Legend Eddie Kramer and music industry insiders like Jim Fouratt and Dick Christian (who, notably, cut his teeth in the music business as a member of the entourage and crew for the original Alice Cooper Band). Jobriath’s enduring musical legacy is also elucidated by artists such as Marc Almond, Joey Arias, Jayne County, Def Leppard’s Joe Elliott and Jake Shears of The Scissor Sisters, who all count him among their primary influences.
Jobriath A.D. is a flawlessly constructed documentary, and it’s obvious that director Kieran Turner was 100% emotionally invested in the final product. I cannot recommend this film highly enough. For more information and to find screenings in your area visit Jobriath The Movie Dot Com. Jobriath’s music is available on iTunes.
On This Date, January 8th, in 1991: Def Leppard guitarist Steve Clark was found dead at his Chelsea flat by his girlfriend, after a night of heavy drinking and prescription drug consumption. He was 30 years old. An autopsy revealed the cause of death as an overdose of codeine combined with Valium, morphine and alcohol. In 2007, Clark was ranked No.11 on Classic Rock Magazine’s 100 Wildest Guitar Heroes. What a waste. RIP, Steve.
On This Date, December 2nd, in 1982: Def Leppard filmed the music video for “Photograph” in Battersea, London. This marked the video debut of guitarist Phil Collen, (formerly of Girl) who replaced Pete Willis in the band.
Former Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook was born on this day, July 20th, in 1956. Paul currently plays in the band Manraze with guitarist Phil Collen from Def Leppard and bassist Simon Laffy from Girl (Phil’s old glam band). Their new CD, punkfunkrootsrock will be released on August 2, 2011. Happy Birthday, Paul!
Jerry Garcia, guitarist and songwriter for the Grateful Dead and undeniably one of contemporary rock music’s most enduring pop culture icons, was born on this day, August 1st, in 1942.
Today is also a day to remember the late Tommy Bolin, guitarist for the James Gang and Deep Purple, who died of a heroin overdose at the very young age of just 25, and who was born on this day in 1951.
Last but not least, Happy Birthday to Joe Elliot of Def Leppard who was born in 1959. Def Leppard can still kick any band’s ass live.
Initially, I was very resistant to the idea of Kentucky-based, Southern Rock Revivalists, Black Stone Cherry for two sharply pointed reasons. One being that unless a “Southern Rock” band is going to improve on Molly Hatchet’s “Flirting With Disaster” or Greg Allman’s “I’m No Angel,” why even bother? The other being that 99% of modern hard rock sounds like ass. But Black Stone Cherry come on like Soundgarden-meets-The Allman Brothers. My god, what a much needed gasp of fresh air in the vacuum! Not to mention, but you can see I am about to, their drummer, John Fred Young (check out the guy on the far left with that crazy mane of dark curly hair) is what we used to call in my day a stone solid fox. And having a little eye candy in the band never hurts.
#9. Little Answers, Earlymay
Remember back when music that passed for adult contemporary rock actually had balls? Neither do I. But if I were programming the Adult Contemporary format at radio today I’d scrap the Kelly Clarkson and Michael Bolton and flood it with songs by amazing bands like The Verve Pipe and Earlymay. Little Answers comes highly recommended if you like U2 but wish Bono would just get over himself already.
#8. Richard Butler
I wasn’t much of a fan of LoveSpitLove, former Psychedelic Furs frontman Richard Butler’s first post-Furs outting. But on Butler’s sublime debut solo excursion, he won me over with moody, soporific songs that sound like they were written by a less acid-damaged version of Julian Cope rather than a guy who was once married to notorious groupie Bebe Buell for about fifteen minutes. Downside: Abysmal cover art that makes him look like he has the plague, or something worse.
#7. All Blown Up, The Blank Stares
The Blank Stares are a band from San Francisco who contacted me through Myspace and asked if they could send me their CD. Now, I don’t want all you independent, undiscovered, unsigned, un-good bands out there to get any ideas, but if your shit sounds like The Beatles, feel free to look me up.
#6. Hot One
A Power-Quarter based in NYC that also features rock chick bass legend Emm Gryner, Hot One “observes the tradition of rock and roll as a medium for social protest, a la the Clash, Public Enemy, Psychic TV, Woody Guthrie, Minor Threat, the MC5.” I took that statement off their Myspace page. I love Hot One’s sexy glam rock/power pop amalgam (favorite cut, “Sexy Soldier”), but I also dig that they throw in a little George Bush hating on the side.
\ #5. Tunnel Vision Brilliance, Scott Reeder
Is there a serious metal head alive who doesn’t/didn’t worship Kyuss? Because if there is I want to know who they are so I beat their faces in. Former Kyuss bassist Scott Reeder is a fucking genius for making the best Pink Floyd album since Wish You Were Here. Heavy Mettle indeed.
#4. Elf Titled, The Advantage
Six Words: “Nintendo Game Theme Song Cover Band.” Nothing more needs to be said. This CD is brilliant from start to finish. And I’ve never played Nintendo in my life.
#3. Electric Satisfaction, Crash Kelly
Canadian Rockers Crash Kelly excell at producing stellar Modern Glam Trash for people like me who go out of their way to live in the past.
#2. Yeah!, Def Leppard
Seriously, how can you possibly go wrong if you’re already Def Leppard — who are, without a doubt, a genius band — and you decide to make an album of covers that includes Badfinger’s “No Matter What” and Mott The Hoople’s “Golden Age of Rock & Roll”? How can you go wrong, I ask yez?
#1. Never Hear The End of It, Sloan
I have to thank n=my buddy Frank Griggs for sending me this Sloan album on the fly when he was doing their publicity last fall, because otherwise I never would have heard the BEST ALBUM OF 2006! No amount of clever compound adjectives can fully describe how awesome this CD is. Those tasteless dicks over at Rolling Stone only gave Never Hear The End Of It three-out-of-five stars, but here’s their review:
“For more than a decade, Sloan have been big in their native Canada without even reaching Guided by Voices-level fame stateside. With thirty, count-’em, thirty songs (several of which bleed together and clock in under two minutes), their eighth studio album is a power-pop record that flows like the Minutemen’s Double Nickels on the Dime — but with glam rock and acoustic balladry in the mix.”
So just go out and buy it already.
These are some genius discs that didn’t quite make into the Top Ten, mostly because I could only fit ten selections into a list of ten. Logistics, you know.
1. Benevento Russo Duo, Play, Pause, Stop
2. Dirty Royals, Obsessed America EP
3. David Gilmour, On An Island
4. Ambulance, New English EP
5. Gosling, Here Is…
6. Hellacopters, Rock & Roll is Dead
7. American Hearthbreak
8. Barrett Martin, Earthspeaker
9. Wired All Wrong, Break Out The Battle Tapes
10. (Guilty Pleasure) Taylor Hicks
Don’t even start with me on this one. I may be a self-confessed huge fan of American Idol, but nobody was more surprised than me when I fell in love with former spazz Taylor Hick’s fake Elvis swagger and his “Takin’ It To The Streets” mock-soul funk. This album is probably the best piece of commercial “product” that the big corporate machine has crapped out since I even listened to mainstream pop radio. And thank god someone got him to dye his hair.
“Every five years or so, Joe [Elliott] would say, ‘We need to do a covers album!’” explains Def Leppard drummer, Rick Allen. “Finally we just recorded it and told everybody after the fact. We made this album to really give people an idea of where we came from musically and what inspired us growing up.” The album in question is Yeah, Def Leppard’s brilliant collection of ‘70s rock classics that includes such hidden gems as David Bowie’s “Drive in Saturday,” Badfinger’s “No Matter What” and “Street Life” by Roxy Music. “The idea was to choose songs that inspired us prior to being signed to a record deal,” Rick continues, “but we didn’t want to pick anything that was too obvious, such as Stones or Beatles songs. Interestingly enough, we all came up with similar song lists!”
Allen confesses that playing the drum parts on these songs gave him pause to consider certain aspects of drumming that have become something of a lost art. “These days, I think a lot of people work out songs using drum machines, and that’s sometimes reflected in the simplicity of the songs,” says the drummer. “Back then there was no such thing as a drum machine. Once you play a song live that’s when you figure out what the song really means and wants to be. It’s nice playing the new songs, but some of the old favorites – let’s face it – are the soundtracks to people’s lives. As soon as that [recognition] occurs, the songs really do take on their own personality, every night.” Catch Rick on tour with Def Leppard supporting Yeah through the end of 2006.
Metal Edge: As you become more comfortable with and adaptable to your physical situation (Note: Rick lost his left arm in a car accident twenty years ago), how does your set-up change?
Rick Allen: Over the years we’ve simplified things; with fewer moving parts fewer things can go wrong. Just the other day somebody asked the question, ‘How long did it take you to relearn?’ Basically, I think that the human spirit is the strongest thing I know. If you can tap into that, then what happens is that your brain rewires itself. I saw things change without me even really trying. I was able to do more things with my right hand than I’d ever done in the past, and what I can’t play cleanly with my right hand I’ll substitute for beats with my left foot. My left leg got more dexterous as time went on as well.
Metal Edge: Are you playing on all pads or are there acoustic drums in your set-up?
Rick Allen: Right now I’m using an acoustic kick and snare, and three pads. Everything that I used to play with my left arm I now play with my left foot using foot pedals on the floor. That set-up changes when I’m back at home, and in the studio I’ll probably be using more acoustic drums.
Metal Edge: When you guys play “Rocket” it really sounds like you’re doing a bass drum shuffle. How are you getting that sound?
Rick Allen: What I do for that is I use a four beat loop that I play on the up beat. A nice thing about the electronics is I can take elements from the record and actually use them in a way that fits in with how I want the song to sound live.
Metal Edge: When I saw Def Leppard recently, I especially loved the intro to “Rock On,” which starts with Rick Savage doing a bass solo and then you come in and the two of you just lock. What’s your dynamic with Sav like?
Rick Allen: I did an interview recently all about Sav’s and my relationship. I think that intuition really comes into play with that, where we anticipate what the other will do. At a certain point you don’t literally need to communicate that in a normal way. I know he’s going to do exactly what’s expected of him. It’s nice because I can relax and I rely on his timing sometimes, where if something is a little challenging he’ll be right there with me.
Metal Edge: Do you meet many disabled drummers who say they’ve been inspired by your story?
Rick Allen: Not just drummers but musicians in general. Yesterday, for instance, I was at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. One guy there was talking about how he’d loved playing guitar before he’d lost one of his limbs. I told him ways our guitar player Phil [Collen] had explained to me that people could play [guitar] without using both hands. It’s been interesting to share that, but it’s a two way street. I’m so inspired by people I meet, to the point where I realize it’s not about me giving somebody a wonderful experience and blah blah blah. It’s about my recovery and my development as well. I figure that I’m in a great position to make a difference if I can.”
This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.
I think David Bowie started it all in 1973 with Pin Ups, an album on which he performs some of his favorite songs by mid ’60s British groups. Since then, the name-act-pays-tribute-to-its-influences album has been done well by Duran Duran (Thank You) and less well by A Prefect Circle (eMOTIVe). But now I think Def Leppard has recorded possibly the best and most exciting album of covers ever with Yeah!, which was released last Tuesday. The most amazing thing about this record is not only how it makes painfully obvious how much most modern bands completely suck, but also how vibrant and authentic Def Leppard’s versions of these songs sound. I had no idea that Joe Elliott was such a vocal chameleon. I can, with no trace of irony, say that Yeah! is my favorite album of the year so far.
The track listing for YEAH! is as follows:
“20th Century Boy” (T. Rex, 1973)
“Rock On” (David Essex, 1973)
“Hanging On The Telephone” (originally recorded by The Nerves in 1977, and Blondie in 1978)
“Waterloo Sunset” (The Kinks, 1967)
“Hell Raiser” (Sweet, 1973: Listen to the opening guitar riff and tell me Nikki Sixx didn’t conveniently “borrow” that for “Kick Start My Heart”)
“10538 Overture” ( Electric Light Orchestra, 1972)
“Street Life” (Roxy Music, 1973: My favorite Roxy Music song ever)
“Drive-In Saturday” (David Bowie, 1973)
“Little Bit Of Love” (Free, 1972)
“The Golden Age Of Rock & Roll” (Mott the Hoople, 1974)
“No Matter What” (Badfinger, 1970)
“He’s Gonna Step On You Again” (originally recorded by John Kongos in 1971 but probably better known by the Happy Mondays’ version, “Step On,” released in 1990)
“Don’t Believe A Word (Thin Lizzy, 1976)
“Stay With Me” (Faces, 1971)
Regardless of how you feel about Def Leppard — who have been one of my favorite bands forever — if you love and miss the glory days of ’70s rock, Yeah! is absolutely essential listening. Great job guys!