How Paul McCartney Spread His Wings In the '70s

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Uncut Magazine
Wings at their peak - the mid '70s lineup: Jimmy McColluch (guitar), Joe English (drums), Linda McCartney (keyboards), Paul McCartney (vocals/bass), and Denny Laine (guitar/vocals)
Man on the Run: Paul McCartney in the 1970s
By Tom Doyle
Ballantine, 288 pp., $27

While mighty expanses of forests have sacrificed themselves to create all the pages written about Paul McCartney's time as a Beatle, the ensuing post-breakup decade has killed far fewer trees. The 1970s found McCartney both trying to both build on his musical reputation as a Fab and distance himself from the already-looming legend, as both the leader of the ever-shifting lineup of Wings and a solo artist.

Now author Tom Doyle has added a valuable entry into the Beatles Bookshelf with this effort. Fascinating because, as he says, two words summed up Paul in the '70s: struggle and escape. That's illustrated with the book's core sources: several lengthy firsthand interviews Doyle and subject have had over the years for various music publications, plus new talks with band members and associates and research.

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A Long-Overdue Trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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Photo courtesy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
Part of the original set from Pink Floyd's "The Wall" tour in 1979-80
While it's true that my Bucket List could be contained in a fairly small bucket, a big one got checked off recently when I was able to finally stroll into that big ass glass pyramid on the shore of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland: I had arrived at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Though it was established in 1983 and began inducting members shortly thereafter, the physical building did not open until 1995. The Museum's six levels host thousands of artifacts, interactive displays, video screens and jukeboxes, two theaters, and enough nooks and crannies to keep even the most casual music fan occupied for hours.

I was there for five, and could have easily spent five more. Or just move in there for a week or so. Though I think security might question a guy with a sleeping bag at the foot of Howlin' Wolf's guitar.


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The Who's "Other" Rock Opera Survives in Fine Form

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Ume
Roger Daltrey and Pete Towshend on the "Quadrophenia and More" tour.

The Who: Quadrophenia Live in London
Universal CD/DVD, various formats and prices

While it is not their most famous rock opera -- that would be the one with a certain deaf, dumb and blind boy, Pinball Wizard, Acid Queen and good ol' Uncle Ernie -- the Who's Quadrophenia is in many ways the superior work.

In an nutshell, the 1973 double LP told the story of Jimmy, a teen living in mid-'60s London, as he deals with his peers, parents, girlfriend, Mod lifestyle, the cusp of manhood, disillusionment, possible suicide and his future all while suffering from a form of schizophrenia. Composer Pete Townshend imbues Jimmy's condition with personality traits from all four members of the Who, thus the "quadrophenia" of the title.


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Kinks Bio Shows Davies Brothers Brawling to This Day

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telegraph.co.uk
Original Kinky Kinks: Ray Davies (vocals/guitar), Dave Davies (guitar), Mick Avory (drums) and Pete Quaife (bass).
God Save the Kinks: A Biography
By Rob Jovanovic
Quarto Publishing Group, 330 pp., $14.95

As battling brothers Ray and Dave Davies continue to go back and forth with each other -- and in the press -- with sometimes wholly different views on what if anything the Kinks will do to mark their 50th anniversary, this new bio offers a fresh and insightful look into the band's music and history.

Jovanovic. who has also written books on the Velvet Underground, Nirvana, Big Star, Kate Bush, and R.E.M., pens a brisk and often hilarious narrative. He utilizes both previously published material including the brothers own books, Ray's X-Ray and Dave's Kink, and the more than two dozen original interviews conducted with band members, business associates, fellow musicians, fans, and journalists.


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Rock Survivor Glenn Hughes: "The Kids Went Apeshit!"

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MSO PR
The heavy-hitting California Breed is Jason Bonham (drums), Glenn Hughes (vocals/bass), and Andrew Watt (guitar).
Legendary rocker Glenn Hughes is on the phone, ostensibly to talk about California Breed. It's the new band he has with drummer Jason Bonham and guitarist Andrew Watt and who have just released a loud, crunchy, self-titled debut CD. But before he gets to that his rapid-fire mouth has something he wants Rocks Off to know.

"Look, man, you need to know this off the bat. Houston, and the reaction the city has given to my music, is the reason I'm probably talking to you now!" he offers. "Talking to anyone from Houston brings back all the love, and I'll never forget it."

As Hughes tells it over the phone, as well as in his autobiography, his band Trapeze had finished a tour in 1970 opening for the Moody Blues. But nowhere did they get the frenzied reaction they did during their set as at the Sam Houston Coliseum.


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Glenn Hughes's California Breed Redefines the Power Trio

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MSO PR
California Breed: Jason Bonham (drums), Glenn Hughes (vocals/bass) and Andrew Watt (guitar)
It was the late summer of 2012, and hard rockers Black Country Communion had just released their third album. But the co-singer/bassist of the very successful group, the legendary Glenn Hughes, was pissed.

That's because the very future of the band featuring Hughes, co-singer/guitarist Joe Bonamassa, drummer Jason Bonham and keyboardist Derek Sherinian was in doubt. Hughes wanted to tour, but Bonamassa's thriving solo career limited their opportunities. The two traded barbs in the press and on Twitter, and a planned big concert was cancelled.

Cut to spring 2013, when Bonamassa announced his departure, officially ending the band.


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Queen + Adam Lambert Doesn't Add Up for Either Party

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Queen + Adam Lambert
Toyota Center
July 9, 2014

Put yourself in these two situations:

A. You're a member of a Hall of Fame-level band who wrote some of the most famous, popular songs in rock music. Your lead singer was perhaps the greatest of all time, but he's no longer with us. You can still play and, more importantly, you still want to play, but no matter what you do, the shadow of your fallen front man will always be there.

B. You're a singer with an amazing voice, good looks, and a charming personality. You should be a megastar, but you just haven't found the right songs yet. You have fans, but you need something to push you over the hump that separates pop act and legit star.

If you look at these two situations and think, "Well, why not put A and B together?", congratulations for picking the path of least resistance. The good news is that this solution will make both parties some serious money.

That's pretty much where the good news ends for Queen and Adam Lambert.


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Queen Minus Freddie Mercury? No Thank You

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funnyjunk.com
Friends have urged me unsuccessfully to attend tonight's Queen concert with them. As the band and guest singer Adam Lambert tour, I imagine this scene unfolding for others elsewhere. Some are excited to see Brian May, a we're-not-worthy, guitar-playing legend. Others are interested in Lambert, whose voice is matched, if not surpassed, by his panache, and how he'll interpret the band's array of insanely great songs.

These are strong arguments for, which makes the argument against seem so basic. For others like me, the defense for our disinterest boils down to this: no Freddie Mercury. As honest as it is, it sounds childish. I've said it out loud and can tell you it recalls a grade-school playground debate.

"How come you don't wanna come?!" they whine.

"Because Freddie Mercury won't be there! Duh!"


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Queen's Best Deep Cuts, Album by Album

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Photos by Neil Preston/Courtesy of Live Nation
Adam Lambert (left) and Brian May at opening night of Queen's 2014 tour in Chicago
Just about this time last year, I wound up reading the article "10 Classic Albums We Happen To Hate" right here on Rocks Off. Being a classic-rock enthusiast and having seen various lists like this before, I looked forward to what my now-colleagues would have to say about some legendary albums. I was rather impressed to see some artists that I despise on there, as most critics I've read would have never put U2 or Springsteen on a list of anything overrated.

Also appearing were albums by KISS, The Who and Queen -- three artists that I'm very fond of but am accustomed to seeing on lists such as this one due to many past criticisms; some true, some false. What I didn't expect was a comment in regards to Queen as a band that I've never forgotten: that they were the most overrated classic-rock act and that nobody gave a shit about any of their albums other than their greatest hits.

Well, not only could I form a posse of my friends to disagree with that statement, but also a posse of highly regarded artists such as Metallica, Nine Inch Nails, Elton John, Foo Fighters and David Bowie, among many others.


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Discover A Hard Day's Night All Over Again

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Photos courtesy of Janus Films/Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Note: this article was written by VMG film critic Stephanie Zacharek.

Let's get the obvious over with: The early days of the Beatles, as reflected in Richard Lester's ebullient shout of freedom A Hard Day's Night, were all about the optimism of the early 1960s, a thrilling and energizing time when young people, and even some older ones, truly believed that the future held great promise.

There. Now let's talk about joy, and about wistfulness, because one so often trails the other, and both are woven into the DNA of A Hard Day's Night. To read it as a movie that the future proved wrong -- a movie that's somehow "about" our collective, historic innocence, a set of hopes that were dashed by Vietnam or by Nixon's betrayal or by anything -- is to miss the glorious reality that A Hard Day's Night lives so fully in its particular present.


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