Songwriting Magazine – A Songwriter’s Treasure

Songwriting-Magazine-Summer-2016

There have been precious few magazines devoted to the craft of songwriting for as long as I can remember. Lots of music magazines, yeah, but not great songwriting magazines. I can remember way back when I first started writing songs, the best I could find was a magazine called Song Hits that published lyrics to popular songs. Not a bad study for songwriters, but I could get lyrics by listening to the records. Besides, they didn’t discuss writing the lyrics, they just reprinted them. That was all there was, though. As the years went by, guitar players, bass players, drummers, and keyboard players all got great magazines devoted to those instruments, but the songwriter was always forgotten.

No more, folks. I’ve been subscribing to Songwriting Magazine for a while now. I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who writes songs, regardless of your skill level or where you are in your career as a songwriter. This is our magazine, and it doesn’t get better. Songwriting Magazine gets it right. They understand what goes on inside our heads.

Every issue of this magazine is packed with articles that promote the craft of songwriting. There are interviews with songwriters, articles that focus on the musicians who perform the songs, articles about songwriting craft (lyrics and music), articles on music theory, articles detailing the business side of songwriting, music reviews, and reviews of all the latest and greatest tools for songwriters. It’s all here. Anything a songwriter might need or be interested in reading about is in the pages of Songwriting  Magazine.

It doesn’t matter what kind of songs you write. Songwriting Magazine is for all songwriters. They understand the craft. They understand what it takes to write songs. That’s why the magazine covers such a broad spectrum of material. It’s not all about craft and technique (although, I’m happy to say, there’s plenty of that between the covers). It’s also about the thought process and the passion that goes into writing songs. The magazine addresses songwriting with respect.

The writing in, and composition of, each issue is of the highest quality. There simply isn’t another magazine out there that meets the needs of the songwriter like Songwriting Magazine. If you write songs, you need a subscription. It’s one of the best gifts you’ll give your songwriting.

I’m passionate about writing songs. I wouldn’t waste space or time talking about a magazine on the subject if I didn’t believe in it. If you live and breathe songwriting, Songwriting Magazine will live and breathe it with you.

Songwriting Magazine is available in print or for iPad, Android, and Kindle devices. Whatever your preference, you’ll be able to enjoy all the great stuff this Songwriting Magazine has to offer to songwriters everywhere.

Visit Songwriting Magazine and get your subscription now.

Ten Dynamite Debut Album Follow Ups

I recently did a post called Ten Dynamite Debut Albums. This is the follow up to that post, which takes a look at the follow up albums to those debut albums. Follow me?

Kiss Hotter than Hell

Hotter than Hell (Kiss) – Not happy with the sonic integrity of the first album, Kiss wanted to follow up with something darker and heavier. The result was Hotter than Hell. I don’t think they were happy with the results of this one either, but I think it turned out pretty damn good. I might even prefer it over the first. It doesn’t have as many concert staples as the first album, but there are some great tunes here. Got to Choose, Parasite, Let Me Go, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Comin’ Home, and the title track are all great songs. Peter Criss does a killer vocal on Mainline and Ace does an amazing solo on Strange Ways (with another cool Peter Criss vocal). There’s also an underrated Gene Simmons song called All the Way. While this album may not be considered as “classic” as the first, it certainly holds its own.

Boston Don't Look Back

Don’t Look Back (Boston) – Following the perfection of the first Boston album was no doubt a difficult proposition. Don’t Look Back does a decent job, but it never quite reaches the same level of excellence. There are some great songs here. The title track, of course, was a pretty big ht, and a good song, and A Man I’ll Never Be, Party, and Feelin’ Satisfied are all good songs too. Not a bad album, but not as awesome as the first one.

Van Halen II

Van Halen II (Van Halen) – I like this album at least as much as I like the first one. Not sure if I’m in the minority or not. Dance the Night Away is just a fun song. It’s my favorite from the album, and one of my favorite Van Halen songs all around. Somebody Get Me a Doctor, Bottoms Up!, D.O.A., Beautiful Girls, and their cover of You’re No Good are great tracks too.

Gun n Roses Lies

G N’ R Lies ( Guns N’ Roses) – Let’s face it, Guns N’ Roses never matched the power and beauty of Appetite for Destruction. Never. Their second album, G N’ R Lies, is not a bad album by any means, but it wan’t quite the follow up it should’ve been. Patience (great power ballad) and Used to Love Her (tongue in cheek funny) are the best songs on the album. There’s also a much different version of You’re Crazy (originally recorded on the first album) and a couple of songs from Axl Rose’s previous bands. The album does include the full EP Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide. too, which is a plus. While it wasn’t a great follow up, it does stand as a pretty cool album on its own.

Cinderella Long Cold Winter

Long, Cold Winter (Cinderella) – Despite the fact that this album has some of my favorite Cinderella songs on it (Gypsy Road, Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone), and Coming Home), I don’t think it’s as good as the first album. The band really hit their stride with the third album, Heartbreak Station. Still, three of my favorite songs, plus a couple other decent tracks, make this an admirable follow up to Night Songs.

Tesla the Great Radio Controversey

The Great Radio Controversy (Tesla) –  I thought this was a good album. I still do. It had a few hits, Hang Tough, Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out), Love Song, and The Way It Is among them, but the album didn’t make my ears smoke like Mechanical Resonance did. It was considered by many to be a worthy follow up, though, and it’s definitely got some killer stuff on it. Tesla is a great band that never really disappoints.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Second Helping

Second Helping (Lynyrd Skynyrd) – Like I said, the legacy left behind by Lynyrd Skynyrd after that plane crash was created in the first five albums. Second Helping opens up with Sweet Home Alabama. How could you go wrong? Don’t Ask Me No Questions, Workin’ for MCA, The Ballad of Curtis Loew, The Needle and the Spoon, and Call Me the Breeze are some of the fine southern delicacies offered on Second Helping.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers You're Gonna Get It

You’re Gonna Get It (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) – The second album by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers continued the tradition of the sound that would define the band. While the album is pretty good (I’d never turn it off), I don’t think it comes near being as cool as the first album. There are two excellent Tom Petty classics here, I Need to Know and Listen to Her Heart, but the rest of the songs just don’t measure up. That’s not to say they’re bad. Magnolia, Baby’s a Rock ‘n’ Roller, and Too Much Ain’t Enough are pretty good too. Overall, not a bad album for Tom Petty fans, but not a great album like the first one is.

Ozzy Osbourne Diary of a Madman

Diary of a Madman (Ozzy Osbourne) – Ozzy’s second album was a killer follow up to his first, and in my opinion, an even better album. Over the Mountain, Flying High Again, and You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll are my three favorite Ozzy songs. Believer, Tonight (one of the original power ballads), and the title track are classic Ozzy, and along with the remaining songs, help make this a successful follow up.

Matchbox Twenty Mad Season

Mad Season (Matchbox Twenty) – Following up an album as phenomenal as Yourself or Someone Like You had to be a challenge, but  Matchbox Twenty did it. Mad Season is full of some of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Again, Rob Thomas is just a master songwriter. He knows how to reach down and touch your soul. If You’re Gone (such an intense song), Last Beautiful Girl, Bent (a powerful song), Rest Stop, and Bed of Lies are some of the great songs on this album. There’s never been a Rob Thomas or Matchbox Twenty song I didn’t like.

Ten Dynamite Debut Albums

I’m not saying these are the best debut albums ever, although I think a few of them certainly qualify. There are too many great debut albums to make such a claim, therefore, any list of “best” first albums would be subjective. The albums here are excellent albums, not only for their own merit, but for their place in music history. I could make a few more lists like this one and not have trouble coming up with albums to fill them.

KISS

Kiss (Kiss) – The first Kiss album is amazing. One look at the track list and you’ll see nothing but songs the band has played in concert from day one. Most of them are still played live today. The album is a virtual “best of,” and it’s only their first. Kiss isn’t happy with the production, but the songs stand the test of time. Cold Gin, Strutter, Nothin’ to Lose, Black Diamond, Firehouse, and Deuce are just some of the classics on this album.

BostonBoston

Boston (Boston) – You’d be hard pressed to find a slicker, or more iconic, debut album than the self-titled first album by Boston. Eddie Kramer, the legendary producer, was faced with the decision of producing Kiss Alive or the first Boston album. He struggled with the decision, but after listening to the demo for the first Boston album, he basically said it was great as is and there was nothing he could add to it. Tom Scholz, Boston’s leader, is known for his pristine production, and it shows here. Almost the entire album has been in classic rock radio heavy rotation since it came out. Long Time, Peace of Mind, More than a Feeling, Rock & Roll Band, Let Me Take You Home Tonight, and Smokin’ set the bar.

Van Halen

Van Halen (Van Halen) – Any guitarist understands this album. Eddie Van Halen came on the scene and lit a fire. Gene Simmons (Kiss) heard the songs and produced a demo. Songs from the album are still staples of classic rock radio. Runnin with the Devil, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Jamie’s Cryin’, a cover of the Kinks’ You Really Got Me, and the groundbreaking guitar solo Eruption are all on this first album. Solid an still kick ass.

Guns n Roses Appetitie for Destruction

Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses) – I bought this album because I was going to see Ace Frehley and Y&T in concert. Guns N’ Roses was supposed to be the opener for them. I wanted to hear the record before I went. I was blown away by the album, but the Guns N’ Roses never showed. Faster Pussycat did instead, and I loved them too (another great debut album). Appetite for Destruction, however, stuck. Great album. Listening to it, I thought they were the next classic rock band that would last forever, and they could have been, but you all know the story. Still, songs like Welcome to the Jungle, Sweet Child o’ Mine, Paradise City, Mr, Brownstone, Nightrain, and It’s So Easy make a lasting impression.

Cinderella Night Songs

Night Songs (Cinderella) – Something about the mix of this album didn’t sit right when I first heard it (I think it’s been fixed since), but the songs knocked me out. Tom Keifer, Cinderella’s songwriter and front man, has since become one of my favorite songwriters. He’s brilliant. Shake Me, Night Songs, Somebody Save Me, Nobody’s Fool, Nothin’ for Nothin’, Push, Push, and Back Home Again are just some of the great tracks here. Jon Bon Jovi recognized the talent of Cinderella right away and pushed for them to get a deal. Cinderella have only recorded four studio albums and two live albums (as well as some compilations), but those few albums are gems.

Tesla Mechanical Resonance

Mechanical Resonance (Tesla) – This album, in my opinion, tends to get overlooked as a fantastic debut album. It’s a bombastic production with ear-splitting sound. Seriously, I feel like my ears smoke when I listen to it. Modern Day Cowboy and Little Suzi were the huge hits, but lots of the songs got massive airplay and are well known. Tracks like Gettin’ Better, We’re No Good Together, Cover Queen, Love Me, and EZ Come EZ Go make Tesla’s first album one of the best first albums I’ve ever heard. Listen to it and you’ll hear what I mean.

Lynyrd Skynyrd Pronounced

Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd  (Lynyrd Skynyrd) – It’s amazing when you realize the hits this band had were all recorded on their first five albums, one of which was released after the plane crash that killed most of the band members, including singer Ronnie Van Zant. This first record reads like a greatest hits package. I Ain’t the One, Tuesday’s Gone, Gimme Three Steps, and Simple Man open up the album, and if that isn’t enough, the closing number is Freebird, with a couple cool tracks rounding it out in between. One of the undisputed classics rock, both the band and the album.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers) – I’ve always loved this album. It’s a kick ass platter full of the types of iconic songs Tom Petty would produce throughout his career. Not only are Breakdown, American Girl, and Strangered in the Night from this album, there’s the UK hit Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll and the uptempo Rockin’ Around (With You). Initially the album was only successful in the UK, but the American record-buying public eventually figured out this was a fine first effort indeed.

Ozzy Osbourne Blizzard of Ozz

Blizzard of Ozz (Ozzy Osbourne) – While I prefer the follow-up album Diary of a Madman, there’s no denying the importance of Blizzard of Oz, not only to Ozzy’s career, but as a standard for all metal albums that followed in the 80s. Featuring a young guitarist (Randy Rhoads) who set new standards for metal guitarists before he was killed in a freak plane accident, and songs like I don’t Know, Crazy Train, Goodbye to Romance, Suicide Solution, and Mr. Crowley, Ozzy’s debut solo effort made a mark. After years singing in Black Sabbath and the release of a powerful first solo album, it can be reasonably argued that Ozzy is the father of modern metal. Blizzard of Oz is a point in his favor.

Matchbox 20 Yourself or Someone Like You

Yourself or Someone Like You (Matchbox Twenty) – Yeah, I know this album sort of stands out from the others in the list. It’s a much later album, and more of an indie/alternative rock thing than a classic rock or metal thing. It doesn’t matter. Rob Thomas is one of the finest songwriters around, and this debut Matchbox Twenty album proves it. The songs on this record have great hooks and melodies, and the lyrics and stories are filled with love, anger, laughter, and tears. Genuine, heartfelt, human stuff. Real World, Long Day, 3 A.M., Push, Back 2 Good, Girl Like That, and the haunting ballad Hang are just some of the masterpieces on Yourself or Someone Like You. This is truly one of the best albums ever.

Check out my follow up post to this one that looks at the follow up albums to these debut albums. It’s called Ten Dynamite Debut Album Follow Ups. Confused yet?

Shut up and Give Me the Mic

DeeSnider_ShutUpAndGiveMeTheMic

You think you know Dee Snider. Admit it. You think you know all about Twisted Sister too. You really don’t. Not unless you’ve read Dee Snider’s autobiography Shut up and Give Me the Mic. I’ve read, baby, so I do know. and honestly, the story is one I’ve been wanting to hear since I first discovered Twisted Sister.

I’ve always liked Dee. I was never a Dee Snider fanatic, or a fanatical Twisted Sister fan, but I did like them enough to buy all of their releases, not once, but on every new medium that became available (records, cassettes, CDs). Chalk that up to my obsessive need to own all my favorite music in the “latest” format, not as a fanatical reaction to Twisted Sister.

The point is, I listened to Twisted Sister, and I’ve always been impressed with the band, and in particular, Dee Snider. I know Twisted Sister is a band, but to me, wrong or right, Dee is Twisted Sister. Try to imagine the band without him. It’s not happening.

I recently bought Dee Snider’s autobiography Shut up and Give Me the Mic. Could there be a better title for an autobiography by Dee Snider? I doubt it. Now, it’s always been clear to me that Dee is an intelligent individual. If you witnessed the PMRC senate hearings, as I did, you already knew this. That said, I knew the book would be readable. What I didn’t expect was the blazing honesty that oozes from the pages. I expected Dee to be what you expect Dee to be, a self-centered front man who believes he is the final word on everything that is anything. Guess what? You get some of that. You also get a lot more. That’s why I say the book is everything you expect from Dee Snider and some you don’t.

Dee tells you at the start of the book that he took control of Twisted Sister and that he would take credit for the successes, but he would also claim any failures. He does that with grace and dignity. Even when the blame can be placed elsewhere, Dee accepts his share of the blame for not being more aware. Also, while he doesn’t have a problem pointing out the shortcomings of others, he has no problem pointing out his own shortcomings. You’re not going to read a glossed over story. It’s all here, balls to the wall.

What I love most about this book is that it’s equally interesting to fans of the band and to songwriters and musicians. As a songwriter and musician myself, I was thrilled to get some insight into Dee Snider’s writing process and hear about the recording process of the Twisted Sister albums. If you aren’t into that stuff and just want to know about the comings and goings of Dee Snider and the band, you get all that too. It’s a well rounded read that answers all the questions you might have, and answers them beautifully, about Dee and Twisted Sister.

For me, one of those questions has always been, “Dee, why the hell do you hate the Love is for Suckers album?” I bought that album when it came out and jammed it constantly. I loved it. I still love it. It’s on regular rotation on my iPod. Listen to Hot Love and tell me why that fucking thing wasn’t a huge hit. I’d always heard rumors that Dee hated the album. Not true. Yeah, it was supposed to be a solo album, so that pissed him off a bit, but as far as I can tell (and I’ve gotten a tweet backing this up), Dee stands by the album.

Dee Snider is a hero of free speech (again, I refer you to the senate hearings involving the PMRC, which you can find on Youtube). He has written some great metal anthems, fronted a band that, like it or not, is an iconic part of music history, and has led a life both blessed and cursed. In the end, he chooses to celebrate the blessed part. His songs, and his personal attitude, promote strength and positive self-esteem.

There is a lesson to be learned from Dee Snider. That lesson is simple. Be proud of who you are and stand up for what you believe in. By doing so, you can never fucking fail, even when you stumble and fall. You only lose when you refuse to get up again. Dee Snider, love ya, man. Thanks for the music, and thanks for a book that lays it on the line.

Dee Snider Shut Up

Grab a copy of Shut up and Give Me the Mic. You won’t be disappointed.

Dee Snider on Twitter: @deesnider

Dee Snider on Facebook

Now shut up and give Dee the mic.

Under the Night Sky with the Silvio Gazquez Project

Silvio Gazquez Project Night Sky

Silvio Gázquez: Electric, Nylon String and Synth Guitar – Keyboards
Damián Righi: Bass
Tulio Gázquez: Drums
William Catena: Sax
Carlo Peluso: Piano/Keyboard Solos
David Catena: Percussion Programming

Silvio Gazquex is a guitar player and songwriter from Lincoln, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since 2008, he’s been working as a full-time guitar consultant for the U.S based company called Guitarcontrol.com. Silvio has won several Youtube contests, and in 2008, he was also a two times guitar idol finalist, attending the final in London, UK. In January, Silvio attended Namm 2012 as endorser of SPEAR guitars. Night Sky is his first album, released in July of 2015.

Night Sky is an instrumental smooth jazz album that features ten absolutely stunning tracks written by Silvio. From the luxurious and laid back opening of the title track to the funky groove of Spring Day, right on to the intense, driving force of Sunset, Silvio takes you on a musical journey straight from his heart to your ears. There seems to be a loose theme running through the songs and a cohesiveness that makes it a pure joy to listen to. If you’re a fan of smooth, really hip jazz instrumentals, or if you just like to hear some really great guitar playing, Night Sky is an album you’ll dig. Check out Night Sky in its entirety and if you enjoy it, support the artist by buying the album.

I had the opportunity to interview Silvio as well. Here’s that interview:

Silvio 1

Carl Hose: I’ve been listening to your album Night Sky. Great stuff. You Are My Life, Spring Day, In My Dreams, and  The Promise are some of my favorites. Sunset is pretty bad ass. Reminds me a little of Mahogany Rush at times. The album is a fusion, jazzy kind of thing. How do you describe your style?

Silvio Gázquez: Thanks, Carl. I´d say its a mixture of different styles. I think that the most prominent style in the album is smooth jazz, but there´s some elements of jazz, fusion, hard rock, and world music too.

Carl: There seems to be a theme, or concept, on Night Sky. Was that intentional?

Silvio: I think that the music is more than just notes. Some music reflects images and feelings. Those feelings and images could change depending on who is listening, though. In my case, some songs remind me of a night sky. Definitely it’s an album to hear at night. Some songs have a summer mood also. But again, this is pretty subjective. I dont think it was intentional. I guess smooth jazz style has a night feel and atmosphere.

Carl: What are your earliest musical memories and who are some of the bands and performers that have had the biggest impact on you as a musician?

Silvio: I used to be an Yngwie Malmsteen fan. It was pretty crazy for someone  who was just starting to play to listen to Yngwie´s playing. I didn’t understand how someone could play like that. I was in awe. In those times, Youtube didn’t exist, so you had to use your ears, haha! Later, I got a VHS of his first instructional video and it was even more crazy. It was pretty advanced for me anyway.

In those times, I also was fan of a lot of bands, such as Pantera, Kiss, Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Iron Maiden, to name a few. A bit later, I started to listen to a lot of instrumental music. Vinnie Moore, Satriani, Steve Vai, etc, then I got into Greg Howe, Richie Kotzen, Brett Garsed, and a lot of more fusion guys. Also smooth jazz stuff like The Rippingtons, Russ Freeman, etc.

Carl: What is your set up for recording versus live? You endorse Spear guitars. What other guitars do you play and what amps do you prefer?

Silvio: I used to play with just an amp, a Laney L100SC, for both recording and live. But one day I started to use multi effects and changed everything. I know that there´s nothing better than the tone of a valve amp, but they are pretty expensive and for recording, you have to have the right acoustic room, mics, space, etc, which I don´t have. So now I´m using a Boss GT8 for both things and its decent, and way more handy to play live. I don’t even use an amp, I go straight to the mixer. Same for recording, I go from the multi FX to the soundcard. In fact, the guitars in “Night Sky” were recorded that way.

Regarding the guitars, I have my Fender Custom HH Spalted Maple and Spear Tomcat GT, which I endorse. I also have an old Yamaha GTX, which was my first electric guitar. Also a classical “Antonio Lorca” and an Asbitt, which is like a cheap copy of a Godin Multiac.

Carl: You’re a guitarist who puts a lot of focus on songwriting. Do you consider yourself more a guitar player or a songwriter, or do you even make a distinction?

Silvio: I think I´m in the middle. I used to practice a lot, but after a lot of years of that I realized that the most important thing is the music. In Youtube, I see a lot of amazing players, unbelievable chops, and improvising skills, but that´s all they do, jamming and jamming. But what about the music? I like to listen to the music first, the player comes in second place.

Carl: How much importance do you put on studying theory as opposed to just picking up the guitar and playing and developing your ear?

Silvio: I think that it’s really important to learn some theory, at least the basic stuff. It depends of what are your goals. If you want to play songs in a campfire you won´t need much theory, but if you want to play jazz, of course, you will need to have a great music theory background.

Carl: How often do you write? What are your methods? Do you write in a particular place, put it down on paper first, or just record it as you go and develop it?

Silvio: I´m not the kind of musician who is always writing stuff. Sometimes I don’t write in months or years. I just don’t plan it. I can´t say, “Ok, now I´m going to sit down and write a song.” It doesn’t work like that to me. The inspiration comes when you never expect it.

My methods are not always the same. Sometimes I get a little idea and I record it on my PC and then I start to develop it. Other times, I work on the idea for days or months until I have enough material before recording it.

Carl: How do you feel about the state of, not only the music industry, but all of the artistic industries today? It’s particularly disturbing to me that a lot of people think paying for an artist’s work is something they shouldn’t have to do these days.

Silvio: I think it has its pros and cons. The good thing is that anyone with a PC can release a decent album and let the world know about it. The bad side is that nobody is buying music. Everyone´s downloading music, movies, etc, for free. Even the big bands are not selling. That´s why they have to keep touring, to survive. I hope this changes in a near future!

Carl: What five albums changed your life?

Silvio: The albums I´m going to name are some of those that had some impact in my life and they are in order chronologically:

  1. Guns & Roses – Use your Illusion 1 & 2
  2. Yngwie Malmsteen – Rising Force
  3. Dream Theater – Images & Words
  4. Vinnie Moore – The maze
  5. Brett Garsed – Big Sky

Carl: I’m sort of a foodie, so I have to ask this question. You’re from Argentina. What is the one dish from Argentina that everybody has to try?

Silvio: For anyone who is visiting Argentina, the special dish that everybody has to try is “Asado.” It´s similar to a barbecue but not the same cooking techniques and meat cuts.

Carl: Thanks for talking with me, Silvio.

Silvio: Thanks for this interview and your interest in my album!

Silvio 2

Personal Facebook: Silvio Gazquez
Artist Facebook: Silvio Gazquez

Favorite David Lee Roth-Era Van Halen

When I first heard Sammy Hagar was joining Van Halen, I wasn’t happy. I revolted. I said no way in hell will I ever support such a thing. I felt that way for a couple of reasons. First, I love Sammy Hagar. I didn’t want him to be part of a band. I wanted solo Sammy. Second, I couldn’t imagine Van Halen without Diamond Dave up front. I went to see David Lee Roth on his solo tour for the Eat ‘Em and Smile album (which I also bought), but it took me a bit longer to get on board with Sammy and Van Halen. When I finally did, I realized how good they were together. It doesn’t detract one bit from how awesome Eat ‘Em and Smile is, though. I still listen to it today. With Steve Vai on guitar, Billy Sheehan on bass, Gregg Bissonette on drums, and David’s sparkling personality, it couldn’t really lose. I’ve always said it could have been the next Van Halen album if Dave had stayed in the band, and it would have been a fine effort.

But let’s talk about the albums Dave actually did with Van Halen. Which one is your favorite? I know Dave had a reunion with Van Halen, so for the record, I’m only talking about the first six Van Halen albums. Those are Van Halen, Van Halen II, Woman and Children First, Fair Warning, Diver Down, and 1984.

The order of my favorites:

Van Halen
Van Halen II
1984
Women and Children First
Fair Warning
Diver Down

Van_Halen_album
The first album, Van Halen, is a classic and just exploded on the scene with fresh intensity. It has to come first. With the foundation tunes Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love, Runnin’ with the Devil, and the cover of You Really Got Me, not to mention Jamie’s Cryin’ and the groundbreaking Eruption, this album is first by default. There’s times I believe I like the second and third albums just as good as the first, but in the end, the first is the best.

Van_Halen_-_Van_Halen_II
Van Halen II
has Dance the Night Away, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, and D.O.A. Need I say more? Those are great tunes. The rest of the album holds its own, so this is a catchy kick ass entry in the Van Halen repertoire.

1984 van halen
1984
 just barely nudges out Women and Children First for the number three slot on my list of favorites, but songs like Jump, Hot for Teacher, I’ll Wait, and Panama are hard to beat. I know the keyboards threw some fans off, but I like them, and the songs are top notch, so yeah, this one takes the number three slot for me.

Van_Halen_-_Women_and_Children_First
Women and Children First
features the driving force of And the Cradle Will Rock as well as Everybody Wants Some, Take Your Whiskey Home, and Could This Be Magic? Just a bunch of catchy tunes that sound really good to my ear. The perfect foil for Dave’s crazy chatter and Eddie’s blistering licks and riffs. It’s also my favorite of the Van Halen album covers.

Van_Halen_-_Fair_Warning
Fair Warning
is my sister’s favorite Van Halen album. In all fairness, there are times I really get the urge to listen to it. There weren’t any real hits on the album, but songs like Mean Street, So This Is Love?, and Sinner’s Swing do have a certain charm. Not one of their most commercially successful, though, and kudos to my sister for not following the crowd.

van halen diver down
Diver Down
 just feels like a lazy record to me. Yeah, the covers of Oh, Pretty Woman and Dancing in the Street are cool, and Where Have All the Good Times Gone? wasn’t bad, but none of these are enough to support an otherwise lackluster album. I mean, it’s mostly covers, and only six albums into their career, Van Halen should’ve been putting out more killer originals, not playing the stuff they played in the clubs.

That’s it for me.Comment and let me know the order of your favorites for these six classic Roth-era albums.

Nugent Nuggets from the 80s

Ted NugentFrom his blistering solo debut “Ted Nugent,” through albums like “Free for All” and “Cat Scratch Fever,” not to mention “Weekend Warriors,” “State of Shock,” and the bombastic “Double Live Gonzo,” Ted Nugent ruled the 70s. He not only ruled the 70s, he chewed that shit up and spit it out. By the time he entered the 80s, Nugent was a solid rock ‘n’ roll legend with a loud guitar and a louder mouth, depending on who you ask.

The 80s saw a little different approach in Nugent’s musical output. I’m not saying he toned it down or anything. Oh, hell no. That’s never going to happen. He did, however, do a little experimenting with the Nugentry we came to love in the 70s. For one, he started playing Paul Reed Smith guitars. He never put away his Gibson Byrdlands, of course, but he introduced those sleek Paul Reed Smith guitars nonetheless. He also fooled around with some keyboards. No wimpy keyboard, mind you. These were keyboard sounds worthy of a Nugent album. Translated, that means bad ass keyboards.

Nugent also played a role in an episode of “Miami Vice,” wrote two songs for the show, and co-wrote with Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, demonstrating he was capable of hanging out with the popular kids in school.

Ted Nugent Scream Dream
Scream Dream (1980) This is the odd one out because it feels more at home with the albums Ted was doing in the 70s. “Wango Tango,” “Hard as Nails,” “Spit It Out,” “Don’t Cry (I’ll Be back Before You Know It Baby),” and the title track are just a sampling of the gems found here. “Wango Tango” is probably Ted’s battle cry.

Ted Nugent Nugent
Nugent (1982) This is, unfortunately, a largely forgotten Ted Nugent album. There really were not hits on it, and the album came and went in what seemed like the blink of an eye. Only the hardcore Nugent fans talk about it. It’s full of great songs. “No, No, No,” “Habitual Offender, “Fightin’ Words,” the sprawling ass kicker “Tailgunner,” and the call to kick terrorist ass (relevant now more than ever), “Bound and Gagged,” are all killer tracks. In fact, this is one of my favorite Nugent records. Not a bad song here.

Ted Nugent Penetrator
Penetrator (1984) This is where the keyboard experiments began. Also, Brian Howe, a great singer who went on to do some killer albums with Bad Company, sang did some really good stuff on this album. Nugent’s songs started getting a little more melodic on the previous album. On this one, melody neat little ballad called “Take Me Homereally came to the forefront, both lyrically and in the guitar playing. There were also a lot of outside writers here, which may account for some of that. The Adams/Vallance penned “(Where Do You) Draw the Line is one example. Other  examples include “Knockin’ at Your Door” and “Tied up in Love.” “Thunder Thighs,” “Lean, Mean R&R Machine,” and “No Man’s Land are more along the lines of the Nugentry you expect. There’s also a neat little uptempo ballad called “Take Me Home” that finishes the album off nicely.

Ted Nugent Little Miss Dangerous
Little Miss Dangerous (1986) The keyboard got a little heavier here (in a good ass-kicking sort of way) and Ted started squeezing out some harmonics that gave me chills. This is the album that has the two “Miami Vice” songs,” “Angry Young Man” and the title track,  on it. Both are blistering pieces of rock ‘n’ roll madness. “High Heels in Motion,” “Savage Dancer,” “When Your Body Talks,” “Take Me Away,” and “Painkiller” are some of the other gems on this album. Hell, he even covered a Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune called “Little Red Book.” This might be a Nugent lost classic, kids. It’s that good.

If_You_Can't_Lick_'Em...Lick_'Em Ted Nugent
If You Can’t Lick ‘Em . . . Lick ‘Em (1988) This jewel finishes off the 80s, and the title (also one of the song titles) pretty much says it all. “The Harder They Come, the Harder I Get,” “Skintight,” “Separate the Men from the Boys, Please,” and the ballad “Spread Your Wings” are some of the stand-out tracks. This is the album that features the co-write with Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, a song called “That’s the Story of Love,” which is a killer track with a lot of hit single potential.