Canada's Rip-Roaring Monster Truck Packs Tons of Furiosity

Photos courtesy of SKH Media
Monster Truckers: Steve Kiely, Brandon Bliss, Jeremy Widerman, and Jon Harvey

For this article, this wasn't supposed to be how Rocks Off interviewed Jeremy Widerman, guitarist/singer for the heavy, heavy Canadian classic rock-inspired band Monster Truck.

Widerman was supposed to call from Germany, where the band was wrapping up some European dates before heading to the U.S. and open gigs for Alter Bridge and then Alice in Chains. But when the agreed-upon time came and went, we received a text from their U.S.-based publicist vaguely mentioning that the band "had been pulled over by the cops in Germany and were still dealing with it."

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Paul Stanley's New Book Looks Like the Most Reliable KISStory to Date

Photo by Neil Zlozower/Courtesy of HarperOne
KISS in their '70s prime
Face the Music: A Life Exposed
By Paul Stanley
HarperOne, 480 pp., $28.99

With the publication of this glitter-, greasepaint- and leather-slathered tome, all four original members of KISS have now penned their autobiographies.

Not surprisingly, as one astute Web site pointed out recently by comparing the quartet - their memories and opinions of the same shared incidents don't always coincide. Or even come close to similarity.

Lead singer/rhythm guitarist Paul Stanley, aka "The Starchild," always seemed like the most level-headed member of the group. Now he has written the best memoir of the four with the most insightful -- and probably accurate -- reading of KISStory.

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A Real Fan's Top 10 KISS Albums

Photo by Groovehouse
KISS at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, September 2010
Marking their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next Thursday, Rolling Stone has put KISS on the cover (for the first time ever!) and also made a list of the 10 best KISS albums. Sadly, this is something that magazine's Richard Thompson fanatics are just not qualified to do, so ignore their list and go with this one instead:

10. Unmasked (1980)
While not your traditional KISS sound, Unmasked is still a really good power-pop album. All the songs could have been great AM tracks if AM were still going strong into the '80s.

Standouts: "Is That You?" "Talk To Me," "She's So European"

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Dirty Dancing's Eric Carmen: "I Wanted to Find Where the Magic Was"

Photo by Bob Gruen/Courtesy of Sony Legacy
Eric Carmen fronting the Raspberries in 1973

Very few articles about Eric Carmen (including, sadly, this one) do not include the term "power pop" somewhere to describe the music he's made with the Raspberries and in his lengthy solo career. But according to the singer/guitarist, if you gotta have a musical label, you could do much worse.

"'Power pop' was the term Pete Townshend created to describe the music of the Who," Carmen says today. "The Beatles played power pop. It comes from 'popular,' and nobody sits down to write unpopular music. It was never a dirty word to me.

"But once 1970 rolled around, the people who made that kind of music just weren't taken seriously," he continues. "The Raspberries, I mean, who loved us? 16-year-old girls and rock critics. It just wasn't cool for an 18-year-old guy to like the same band that his sister did."

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The Allman Brothers Band's Still-Unfolding Saga Ain't Got But One Way Out

Ultimate Classic Rock/Polydor Records
The Allman Brothers Band outside the Fillmore East in 1971. From left to right: Dickey Betts, Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Jaimoe Johanson, Berry Oakley, and Butch Trucks
One Way Out: The Inside History of the Allman Brothers Band
By Alan Paul
St. Martin's Press, 464 pp., $29.99

Make no mistake. While only two of the six original members of the Allman Brothers Band were actual biological siblings, the fraternal ties of Duane Allman, Gregg Allman, Dickey Betts, Berry Oakley, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johanson, went deep. Real deep.

Through their music, their joys, their tragedies, and enough infighting, drugs, boozing, breakups and reunions, and creative differences to do in most lesser bands, the Allmans have somehow kept going. Incredibly, for a group that lost its admitted leader and soul -- Duane -- in a motorcycle accident three albums into their career and then Oakley, almost a year later in nearly the same spot and also on a bike.

Paul is a music journalist and longtime friend of the band, and conducted more than 60 interviews with current and former bandmembers, musical friends, roadies, ex-wives and girlfriends, promoters and other writers. He had the Allmans' authorization, but lets everyone get his or her say (and sometimes contradict each other) in this oral history.

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Visionary Old Man Neil Young's New Trick: Pono

Rolling Stone once described Neil Young in its "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time" issue as a "restless experimenter... who transform[s] the most obvious music into something revelatory."

Admittedly, I don't know much of Neil Young's musical catalog, and there's something about that high-pitched voice...but wait, before you all start throwing tomatoes, lyrically he transforms obvious ideas into songs that can feel revelatory. I've also noticed that he uses his money and fame beyond the music world as an inventor, often tackling ideas such as electric cars and the battle with music piracy.

He was behind the creation of a luxury-series hybrid electric car powered by biomass, and most recently has been putting his clout behind Pono, the digital-to-analog music service he's set to introduce this week at SXSW in Austin.

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Bob Dylan's Star-Studded "Halftime Show" Gets Deluxe Treatment

Bob Gruen/Columbia Legacy
Check out the star power at the concert finale! Why so morose, Sinead?

"Thanks Bob! Thanks for having Bob Fest!" Neil Young enthuses at one point during his set at the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Concert.

And though methinks that the October 1992 show at Madison Square Garden paying tribute to the Bard of Hibbing was due more to the planning of Columbia Records than the honoree himself, the megastar-studded event found a wide swath of performers covering Dylan's deep songbook.

It was capped off by a solo and collaborative set from the man himself, and now available again in a 2CD/2DVD-Blu-Ray Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration -- Deluxe Edition (Columbia/Legacy). As VH-1's Bill Flanagan offers in the liner notes, what "could have been a last waltz instead turned out to be rock and roll's greatest halftime show."

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10 Awesome Hair-Band Videos You Probably Forgot

Sorry, but we refuse to start spamming the Rocks Off Twitter account with gnarly photos of our '80s mullets and half-shirts. No one needs to see that.

So instead, we're going to take things old-school in another way -- spamming your eyeballs with some of the sweetest hair-band videos known to man. You're going to like it, because everyone likes a little Ratt every now and then. Whip out the hairspray and bandannas, folks -- happy Throwback Thursday!

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The Pixies at Bayou Music Center, 2/27/2014

Photos by Jim Bricker
The Pixies, Best Coast
Bayou Music Center
February 27, 2014

Thursday night at Bayou Music Center, The Pixies came out swinging. After a quick wave to the audience, it was head-first into "Bone Machine" and "Wave of Mutilation" and other fast, noisy songs that get the blood moving. It was such a roaring beginning that it seemed to take the crowd by surprise; you could feel that nervous energy that happens when a large group of people are waiting for someone to make the first move that leads to mosh pit.

It was an unexpected beginning from a band that formed almost 30 years ago and whose members' average age hovers around 49 at the present. Or maybe it was exactly the type of Pixies opening you hope for. Expectations are a funny thing.

Whereever you fall on the expectation spectrum, it was an impressive way to kick off a show.

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Don't Know Who Michael Bloomfield Was? You Totally Should.

Bob Calo/Columbia Records
Michael Bloomfield, Nov. 1968, at the studio of Norman Rockwell. The famous painter did the cover of a record that Bloomfield released with Al Kooper.
"He was the greatest guitar player I ever heard" -- Bob Dylan
"[He] is music on two legs" -- Eric Clapton
"You could put [him] with James Brown, and he'd be a motherfucker." -- Miles Davis

Wow. What other unknown axe-slinger could garner such praise from such music heavyweights? But this is only a sampling of comments of admiration and wonder for the guy once ranked No. 42 on Rolling Stone's list of Top 100 guitarists. It's the pride of Chicago, the guy who Muddy Waters considered a son, the Jew of the Blues...Michael Bloomfield!


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