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These Blues Go To Eleven

NigelTufnelElevenIt’s the eleventh day of the eleventh month and that means today must be one louder! Spinal Tap may have been a bottom-feeding metal myth but their dedication to loudness still rings in the ears of musicians in every genre of music. Heavy Metal and Blues have always has a special relationship. Pioneering hard rockers like Blue Cheer, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and others all had their feet planted deep in the fertile soil of the Mississippi Delta. Black Sabbath is widely regarded as the first Heavy Metal band and they grew out of a blues band called Earth. The Metal Gods Judas Priest also came together from blues bands. These musicians came from poverty stricken Birmingham in the UK and wallowed in misery much like the people of the American south. They mixed the blues with the clanging sounds they heard all around them in the local factories, sang about dark subjects, and gave birth to what is arguably the most popular and prolific genre of music in the world.

Most Hard Rock and Heavy Metal musicians left straight blues behind. Many, like Aerosmith and Whitesnake embraced the Blues idioms and deep currents of blues run underneath their blustery Rock. A band like Vader might make you question my whole premise but if you follow the influences back through time you find the Blues. in honor of 11/11 I have put together a playlist of 11 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal acts showing their Blues influence. These go to Eleven.

SpinalTaptheseGoToEleven

1. AC/DC – “Whole Lotta Rosie” They have always been a lot like Chuck Berry with a Marshall stack but here they modify a classic Chicago Blues call and response riff and rev it up to 11.

2. Motorhead – “Hoochie Coochie Man” Lemmy was born before Rock & Roll. He has shown his blues influence a number of times in Motorhead but this live track from 1983 captures a blistering performance from temporary hire Brian Robertson of Thin Lizzy fame.

3. Cinderella – “Long Cold Winter” Lumped in with the hair band pretty boys by the record labels, Cinderella was the one of the most blues influenced Hard Rock bands of the era. From whiskey soaked vocals and slide guitars to minor key Blues, they stood out out from the party pack nothin’ but a good time pop metal pabulum.

4. Aerosmith – “Reefer Head Woman” Aersosmith was shoulders-deep in turmoil when they recorded this track for a largely forgotten (by the band at least) album. They played through their pain in this classic ramshackle performance.

5. Whitesnake – “Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City” MTV Zep-clone hair band Whitesnake bears almost no resemblance to the band which rose from the ashes of Deep Purple. They started life as a terrific, hard working Bluesy rock band with Mick Moody and Bernie Marsden dueling with blues licks night after night.

6. Yngwie J. Malmsteen – “Red House” Yngwie is famously a fan of Ritchie Blackmore but he loves Hendrix too and has covered a few of Jimi’s classics. Here he rips it up live and even reins in his usual over the top tendencies (a little).

7.  Ted Nugent – “I Am A Predator” This tune comes from Intensities In Ten Cities (one of my favorite album titles ever). Our loin clothed madman flexed his Blues muscles often throughout his career but this one is from way back when he wasn’t too serious about much other than rampaging guitars and lovely groupies. Everybody sing along, ok?

8. Megadeth – “I Ain’t Superstitious” Thrash Metal titans take on Willie Dixon. The winner? You decide. I still think Howlin’ Wolf is the victor.

9. W.A.S.P. – “Promised Land” Yeah, Chuck Berry isn’t really Blues but he recorded for Chess and pretty much just played fast Blues songs. W.A.S.P. was no stranger to fast blues either, since one of their big hits – “Blind In Texas” – is basically a 12-bar in in overdrive. Here, Blackie Lawless channels Chuck Berry through Elvis in a fun romp from sea to shining sea.

10. Deep Purple – “Lazy” Deep Purple is known for its Classical influenced Hard Rock and extended jams but the Blues flowed through every incarnation of the band. Here the famous Mark II lineup brings Baroque Blues to the fore in a style that mixes Bach with Freddie King and the result has Tchaikovsky spreading the news.

11. Judas Priest – “The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)” The Metal Gods take on Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green classic. We close with this since it has one of the most influential Heavy Metal bands of all time tipping the hat to a sadly almost forgotten era of Fleetwood Mac’s history – an era of Blues. The takeaway here is how much it sounds like a Priest original. Was Peter Green the original Metal God?

Hump Day! Risque Tunes For Your Midweek Blues 3/11/15

Heyyy, how you doin'?
             Heyyy, how you doin’?

Today’s selections for Hump Day were inspired by an impromptu trip to the veterinarian this morning with one of our foster dogs. I was listening to the terrific new disc from Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King, called Fat Man’s Shine Parlor, and Bnois is a witty lyricist so I was thinking about blues lyrics, and howling dogs and it hit me! Dog references!

Men have been referred to as dogs since before the Blues began and it didn’t take long for horny guys to turn up in songs in the form of their other best friend, if you know what I mean. While there were previous examples, Big Mama Thornton‘s “Hound Dog” from 1952 was arguably the first widely popular song to focus on the dog reference. It was right there in front of you too, sniffing your back side and making you nervous in a mid-twentieth century repression kind of way. When Big Mama sang these lines you knew exactly what that dog was hungry for:

“You ain’t nothing but a hound dog
Been snoopin’ ’round my door
You can wag your tail
But I ain’t gonna feed you no more”

Ten years later, Rufus Thomas introduced us to something called “Walkin’ The Dog.” Rufus wasn’t merely talking a stroll with his favorite pooch. No, no, this was some kind of dance that with a sly wink and nod became something dirty. I’m pretty sure Ol’ Rufus would have put Baby in a corner and had the time of his life. If you don’t know how to do it, he will definitely show you how to walk the dog.

Since Smokin’ Joe Kubek and Bnois King were unwittingly involved in deciding today’s Hump Day topic, I had to see what they had in their catalog that fit. It turns out Bnois King may have been walking his dog a little too much. His woman is giving him the boot for snoopin’ around too many of the wrong doors and all over town too. She’s gonna set him free to roam and now he’s got the “K9 Blues.” 

Big Bill Morganfield would love you to take his dog for one more walk before you go baby. You know his dog loves you best. His dog is always happy to see you and loves the way you stroke it (I may have added that part). Johnny Winter is no stranger to Hump Day, but this time he says there will be “No More Doggin'” around with you. He’s gonna let you out baby, and don’t come back. Go hump the neighbor’s leg for a while.

Finally, this Hump Day, we have the band who introduced me to “Walkin’ The Dog” – Aerosmith. Yeah, it’s not exactly Blues, but the band, along with a host of others, got me interested in Blues all while singing along in a teenage hormone frenzy and proclaiming that “I’ll show you how to walk the dog!” I didn’t know a damned thing but it sure felt good to sing it. This is a recent version which shows the band still has the swagger and testosterone that fueled the version on their 1973 debut. Rockers doing blues isn’t always a bad thing.

Now, get those leashes and collars on and walk that dog! Happy Hump Day!

 

Big Mama Thornton Hound Dog

Rufus Thomas Walkin’ The Dog

Smokin’ Joe Kubek & Bnois King K9 Blues

Big Bill Morganfield My Doggy’s Got The Blues

Johnny Winter No More No Doggin’

 

Aerosmith Walkin’ The Dog