I bloody love Black Sabbath

Yeah, I’d like to be able to say something profound or mind altering, something that would help heal the sick, help the poor and win the war on terror, but sometimes all you can do is express your love for a band. (Actually, that’s something I do frequently, but that’s beside the point) I recently re-purchased their first album and listening to it again reminded of just how damn good this band is. (Yes, I consider it the first metal album – Purple and Zeppelin come close, but none are more black than Sabbath) It’s hard for me to imagine how much of an impact that thing must have made when it first appeared all those years ago. I first heard it many years back (On vinyl no less!) and it scared the heck out of me. I thought myself familiar with all things metallic (Being young and ignorant), but that thing genuinely unnerved me, in a way I’d not felt since I saw Who Framed Roger Rabbit.*

I could talk for hours about the guitar work of Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler (Bass) and Bill Ward (Drums) are one of the greatest rhythm sections ever to take the stage and there’s Ozzy. By all rights, a voice like that should work, especially not not compared to the metal singers to follow him. For someone who helped birth a genre, he sure doesn’t sound like those who came after. It’s a voice like no other, thin and kinda whiny, nothing like the leather lunged screamers like Rob Halford or Bruce Dickinson or the more guttural technique of Tom Araya or Chuck Billy.

I’m not a musician, so I can’t discuss musical technique or theory. Yeah, Iommi strings his guitars differently after his accident (That cost him several fingertips on his fret hand) but I’m stuffed if I can work out how it makes his playing different. I don’t know how to explain what they do, but what I do know is this: IT’S FUCKING AWESOME. I’m sure you’ve heard Iron Man thanks to it’s inclusion in the MCU,but there’s more, far more to them. There’s the rumble of bass that opens Children of the Grave, the 7 minutes of DOOM that is War Pigs, the solo in Wheels of Confusion or the opening of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, a guitar riff that can LEVEL CITIES. Don’t believe me? Listen and BE PROVED WRONG. Just reinforce your house first.

I didn’t see them when they toured on the 13 album a couple of years back, lack of funds and the public slanging match between Osbourne and Ward put me off. I did however get to see the lineup led by Ronnie James Dio (Who joined after Osbourne was fired) in 2007 and it was one of the greatest nights of my life, even with the idiot a few rows over who spent the whole show screaming for Paranoid. You’re up in the nose bleeds of the Entertainment Center – do you really think the band are going to hear you? The best part was when someone finally explained the band would only play Dio era material and he started yelling for Holy Diver. *sigh*

I guess my final words (For know) are this. Ignore the mud slinging and public wars of words, the reality TV show and every word that Sharon Osbourne ever says. Just listen to the music. It’s more than worth your time and the damage to your hearing.

*It’s been at least 25 years and I still refuse to watch that film again. I am unashamed of that fact.

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MAXIMUM ROCK AND SOUL

The BellRays / Dallas Frasca / Band from Texas

Sunday August 9, 2015, Newtown Social Club

There’s more than a few ways you could describe the BellRays. The first that comes to mind is Tina Turner fronting the MC5, but kids these days have no idea who I’m talking about. Hmmm. Beyonce fronting… what’s a cool garage rock band the kids enjoy? Do they still exist?

A more appropriate term would be criminally under-recognised. They’ve been wowing audiences with their blend of rock and soul for over 20 years and really deserve more. It’s paradoxical – this is a band that clearly should be playing to larger audiences, but that would rob them of the intimacy of smaller venues. As wonderful as it can be to see stadium gigs, there’s nothing to match being 3 feet away from the band. Some of the greatest musical experiences of my life have been in beer soaked hovels – the Datsun’s epic 15 minute blast through Freeze Sucker at the Metro or Radio Birdman blowing the roof off the Gaelic Club by opening with Do the Pop come to mind. But I digress…

The BellRays are rock and roll, in the most elemental sense. They’re the sort of band that should be huge, that make me want to stand on street corners handing out albums like a deranged preacher. Obviously, they aren’t going to be to everyone’s tastes and I accept that, but I’m not going to call those people tone deaf idiots. No, I will not be insulting them at all, mainly because I’m sure my parents are on that list. (I was raised on Slim Dusty and Johnny Cash, which may be why Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast made such an impact on my life)

It’s a revival meeting feel to the show, with the tiny venue only amplifying things. True, sound issues plague the set (Though some of those could be down to the earplugs I was wearing), along with the occasional blackout of the stage lights, but they push past it. Drummer Stefan Litrownik has a magnificent knack for glam rock stick twirling, while Bob Vennum (Guitar) and Justin Andres (Bass) do their thing with magnificent skill, albeit leaving the front rows having to dodge guitar headstocks being swung out near them.

And then there’s the singer. Lisa Kekaula is a massively afroed FORCE OF NATURE, whether marching into the crowd 3 songs to ask, nay DEMAND whether the audience are ready for the show, laying down on stage when we aren’t loud enough, exhorting us to believe that this is our second Saturday night or telling us they’re about to play a quieter number so the front rows shouldn’t use this as an opportunity to start talking, as she can FUCKING HEAR YOU. That sort of thing may sound corny now, but when you’re 3 feet away from it, you OBEY. Besides, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the audience match the band’s levels of energy?

We got most of the Black Lightning album and a smattering of older songs, the highlights being the title track and Everybody Get Up, and a storming mid set cover of Whole Lotta Love, which if you didn’t get caught up in, well, you might be dead. (Have you checked your pulse recently?) We ended with an encore of Revolution Get Down and a thundering Blues for Godzilla, with some thank you’s and a warning that if the merch stand closes early as it did last show, there’ll be blood. All that followed was the trip home, which featured an interesting conversation with a guy who’d had to leave halfway through (Owing to his mate getting fucked up and needing help). Normally I only meet those people on trains…

The BellRays. They have the songs. They have the talent. Now can the rest of the world please discover them?

PS: Many apologies to the support bands who I missed. In my defense, I was ill enough I probably shouldn’t have gone to the show in the first place. Based on the merch sales, they seemed to go over quite well.

“They drew first blood, not me.”

(A Nerf War scenario loosely inspired by Carl Purcell. Blame him for this)

A lone PATRIOTIC AMERICAN, who just wants to be left alone, has been pushed beyond his limits by a bunch of REDNECK COPS (Including a young Horatio *sunglasses* Caine) and escaped into the woods. The police are now searching for him in increasing numbers.All he wants is to be left alone, but they kept pushing. NOTHING IS OVER.Because YOU JUST DON’T TURN IT OFF!
OUR HERO starts at one end of the map, equipped only with a LARGE AND MANLY KNIFE, a total lack of sleeves and an occasionally understandable accent. The REDNECK COPS start at the corners of the other side and carry a series of Nerf blasters and ammunition. OUR HERO has to escape, the COPS have to take him down. What they don’t know is, he’s about to give them A WAR THEY WON’T BELIEVE!
rambo_-first-blood-part-ii-screenshot
OUR HERO’S job is to evade or incapacitate the COPS, making to the exit point on the other side of the map. He can take 5 hits from Nerf darts before being taken out, representing his natural AMERICAN SUPERIORITY. He can heal those only with a suitably ABSURD GESTURE, such as pretending to heat a knife to cauterize a wound, but with an especially loud and painful sounding yell. That should take at least 30 seconds in preparation and at least 10 seconds of shouting. The COPS can take 2 hits each and can assist each other in healing (Pretending to wrap bandages around each others wounds etc), which takes 30 seconds.
OUR HERO can also prepare traps (pool noodle punji sticks,hidden bubble wrap representing pit traps etc) from supplies left around the map. To extend the scenario, the COPS can respawn back in their deployment zone while there’s an arms cache left somewhere on the map for OUR HERO to loot (Representing the local gun store). NOTE: You can’t shoot the gun store owner. Just saying.

Should OUR HERO escape, he is ready to embark on a series of increasingly silly and over the top sequels, culminating in him helping create a terrorist group (Awkward…). The COPS are doomed to a future in police procedural TV shows and internet memes.