Update September 23, 2017
Various artists: Chuck Berry -5 stars
Can you imagine what the world of
rock’n’roll would have been like without the late, great Chuck Berry?
The famous rock pioneer from St. Louis,
Missouri passed away earlier this year but left behind him a plethora of
material that not only defined an era but also cemented a legacy for
aspiring rock bands to follow. Just about every band there has ever been
has at some stage torn through a Chuck Berry song, and some were even kind
enough to record them for posterity.
Today, Mott the Dog has a little fun
putting together his imaginary all-time best tribute album to the ‘father of
rock’n’roll’, featuring bands both past and present.
“Johnny B. Goode” is probably Chuck
Berry’s most well known song, named as the seventh greatest rock’n’roll
number ever by Rolling Stone magazine and reaching number eight in
the American charts. Berry was in fact so prolific at the time this song
was released as a single that he was able to put “Around and Around” on the
Many Bands have almost turned “Johnny
B. Goode” into their anthem, including Johnny Winter, and George Thorogood.
Even the Beatles had it in their live set. Judas Priest laid down a heavy
metal version but the cover that for me fires on seven cylinders is Jimi
Hendrix’s wild run through it. Hendrix literally makes the guitar scream in
the solos, taking the whole song at 100-mph. So, going with the one band
–one song theory for a tribute album, Jimi gets “Johnny B. Goode”.
The B-side “Around and Around” was
recorded by many people too, but for us, hearing Fin Muir of Waysted sing it
in his Scottish accent takes the cup.
The Yardbirds’ live show opener was a
rendition of “Too Much Monkey Business” and their cover is wild, and gets
even wilder as Eric Clapton lets rip in the solo.
One of the bands that relied very
heavily on Chuck Berry songs were the Rolling Stones, before Jagger and
Richards started writing their own classics. Their first hit single “Come
On” was a Berry penned number, but their live version of “Little Queenie
from Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out” is pure Jagger, flaunting himself to the audience.
“Roll over Beethoven” was a wonderful
warning to the older generation and has been brandished by many bands,
including an incredibly heavy version by Mountain. But the Electric Light
Orchestra’s cover on their second album is a joy to listen to.
Ten Years After were great admirers of
Chuck Berry and their version of “Sweet Little Sixteen”, recorded as the
band encored at the Isle of Wight Festival on the album “Watt”, showed why
many people called Alvin Lee the fastest guitarist on the planet.
The Fab Four from Liverpool would also
get on the album for their version of “Rock’n’Roll Music” from the “Beatles
for Sale” album, which John Lennon sings himself hoarse on.
The Faces do a very good romp through
“Memphis”, which was always a live favorite for the band and audience, and
cheating a little, Rod Stewart would also get on for his version of “Sweet
Little Rock’n’Roller”, which opened up his album “Smiler.”
George Thorogood would not be able to
go on stage without playing several Chuck Berry songs and his live version
of “No Particular Place To Go” is a standout.
“Maybelline” suited the boogie
merchants Foghat wonderfully well, and talking of boogie merchants, every
Status Quo gig since the early seventies has finished with “Bye Bye Johnny.”
Joan Jett and the Black Hearts did a
wonderful burning version of “Tulane”, not forgetting of course that Chuck
Berry was the man who made duck walking whilst ripping out a solo famous -
almost as important as the song.
Chuck Berry, who died March 18 this
year, certainly lived a very full life for 90 years, what a shame that his
only number one record was the wretched “My Ding-a-Ling”, and he didn’t even
Mott the Dog’s picks:
Too Much Monkey Business (The
Around and Around (Waysted)
Tulane (Joan Jett and the Black
Memphis (The Faces)
Little Queenie (The Rolling
Rock’n’Roll Music (The Beatles)
No Particular Place To Go
(George Thorogood and the Destroyers)
Johnny B. Goode (Jimi Hendrix)
Sweet Little Rock’n’Roller (Rod
Roll Over Beethoven (Electric
Sweet Little Sixteen (Ten Years
Bye Bye Johnny (Status Quo)
Note: You’ll have to download
the individual cover versions of each of these songs on your iPod if you
want to see if you agree with the Dog’s selection. Any alternative
suggestions can be talked over with the Dog at Jameson’s Irish Pub, Nova
Park, Soi AR, North Pattaya.
Update September 16, 2017
Molly Hatchet: ‘Justice’ - 3 stars
Molly Hatchet were formed in
Jacksonville, Florida in 1971 by Dave Hlubek and slowly rose to fame over
the years, playing their own variation of Southern Rock with a triple lead
guitar roster that earned them comparisons with Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Things progressed nicely for the band
as they went through the process of recording their first three albums;
“Molly Hatchet” (1978), “Flirtin’ with Disaster” (1979) and “Beatin’ the
Odds” (1980). “Flirtin’ with Disaster” was their most successful album,
reaching number nineteen on the American billboard charts and on the
strength of those first three releases the band were able to tour the world
to sold out shows.
Molly Hatchet in 2010. (Photo by
Sadly, since then, it has been a slow,
ever-decreasing circle of diminishing returns for Molly Hatchet, with the
band often foregoing their Southern Rock roots to play more mainstream Hard
Rock. Original founder and lead guitarist Dave Hlubek departed in 1987,
leaving the others to carry on, but in 1990, at a show in Ohio, Molly
Hatchet (as a band) announced from the stage that it would be their last
Perhaps it would have been better to
have left with their legacy still intact, but in 1991 a new version of Molly
Hatchet was revived for touring purposes with no original members. Bobby
Ingram, who had joined in 1987 as a replacement for Dave Hlubek had gone to
court to acquire the rights to the Molly Hatchet name.
They would not record another album for
five years and throughout the Nineties there were no original members of
Molly Hatchet in the band. Several albums were recorded later however; a
couple of studio offerings and copious amounts of live albums and greatest
hits were released to keep the flag flying.
Since the band’s formation Molly
Hatchet have gone through 17 members in the line-up, some of them being in
the band twice, and an additional ten touring members have pitched in when
the guys were a bit short. In 2005 Dave Hlubek was invited to rejoin his
own band and accepted the offer, although on that year’s Molly Hatchet
album, “Rainbow Warriors”, his photo does not appear on the cover, nor does
he get any songwriting credit. Bobby Ingram appeared to still have his hand
firmly on the tiller.
Five years later in 2010 we were
presented with this week’s reviewed album, “Justice”. To be fair it’s not
that bad, opening with a trio of rockers with all the things you expect from
Southern Rock - good thumping tunes with gruff vocals and screaming
guitars. “Flying On The Wings of Angels” is a beautifully haunting ballad
about losing a child and raises goosebumps, whilst the last three songs
really go for the throat and are full blown rockers in the traditional
Southern Rock style. Overall though the album is a bit like a mirror of
Molly Hatchet in the Nineties: no original members and no original ideas!
Molly Hatchet lineup on “Justice”:
Bobby Ingram - guitar
Dave Hlubek - guitar
John Galvin - keyboards
Phil McCormack - vocals
Tim Lindsey - bass guitar
Shawn Beamer - drums
Been to Heaven, Been to Hell
Safe in My Skin
I’m Gonna Live Till I Die
Fly On The Wings of Angels (Somers
As Heaven is Forever
Tomorrow and Forever
In The Darkness of the Night
Note: Written by Hells Bells and
Mott the Dog. Mott The Dog and his cronies can often be found in Jameson’s
Irish Pub in front of Nova Park on Soi AR, supping a light ale.
Mott the Hoople: ‘Mott’ - 5 stars
Hoople in 1974.
“Mott’ was Mott the Hoople’s seminal
album, released just after they had cut the safety belt from David Bowie’s
writing and arranging. The year was 1973 and it was to be a year of success
and upheaval for the band.
Opening with “All The Way From
Memphis”, this is a rock ‘n’ roll chronicle of the fraught and fragmented
journey to Memphis that culminated in Mott the Hoople’s triumphant end of
tour gig and their subsequent assault on Elvis Presley’s Gracelands mansion.
(For more details of this please read Ian Hunter’s “Diary of a Rock ‘N’ Roll
star”). When this dog first heard the opening line of “Memphis” …”Forgot
my six string razor and hit the sky”... it taught him a whole new way to
Next up is “Whizz Kid”, with Ian
Hunter’s reflections on a certain persistent groupie, a lovely slab of Glam
The pivotal song on ‘Mott’ is “Hymn For
The Dudes”, with Ian Hunter directing his lyrics at his young and
enthusiastic audience, whilst warning his contemporaries about the pedestal
they were setting themselves upon:
“Correct your heads, for there’s a
new song rising
High above the waves
Go write your time, go sing it on
Go tell the world, but you go brave
You ain’t the nazz….
You’re just a buzz….
Some kinda temporary…..”
Eleven months after the release of “All
The Young Dudes”, which was written by David Bowie, Mott the Hoople
unleashed “Honaloochie Boogie”. This was a smash hit and a perfect piece of
writing that was to establish Ian Hunter’s pop credentials.
Hunter showed that he was capable of
astonishing flashes of percipience and with “Violence” he brilliantly
foretold the underground mood and coming of the Punk generation. This song
culminates with some insane violin and a fight scene in a blazing fadeout.
“Drivin’ Sister”, with its hard,
raunchy riffs and lyrics due to Mott the Hoople’s fascination with fast
cars, was the perfect opener for their live set at the time.
“The Ballad of Mott the Hoople”
referred to the time when the band temporarily split in disillusionment,
before their triumphant return after linking up with David Bowie.
“I’m A Cadillac / El Camino Dolo Roso”
is Mick Ralph’s final contribution to Mott the Hoople as a songwriter. It
is a wonderful piece of music that comes in two pieces, with Ralph revealing
some of the wonderful guitar playing he was capable of and which he would go
on to show in Bad Company in the coming months after leaving Mott.
The album concludes with “I Wish I Was
Your Mother”, which is a heavily Dylan-flavoured piece addressing the matter
of strong jealousy. It remains, along with “All The Way from Memphis” as a
permanent fixture in the Ian Hunter set-list to this day and it brings the
album to a fitting close.
With the release of this fine offering
Mott the Hoople were to become one of the biggest bands in the world.
“Mott” went top 10 in the U.K. and top 40 in the U.S. Notably, however, it
was voted ‘Album of the Year’ in U.S. magazines Rolling Stone and
True fact: Surprisingly, this album and
band were not named after Mott the Dog but Wilard Manus’s excellent novel
“Mott the Hoople”.
Mott the Hoople on this album:
Ian Hunter – vocals/piano/guitar
Mick Ralphs – guitar/organ/vocals
Overend Walls - bass
Buffin - drums
Andy Mackay - saxophone
Paul Buckmaster - electric cello
Graham Preskitt - manic violin
The Lovely Thunderthighs - backing
All The Way From Memphis
Hymn For The Dudes
Ballad of Mott the Hoople
I’m a Cadillac/ El Camino Dolo Roso
I Wish I Was Your Mother
Note: Written by Mott the Dog
and Hells Bells. Mott and his cronies can often be found discussing their
favorite rock ’n’ roll topics in Jameson’s Pub, Nova Park Hotel Soi AR,
Black Star Riders: ‘Heavy Fire’ - 5 stars
Let’s be clear from the
start, this is not an offering by a Thin Lizzy tribute act, this is a 100%
Black Star Riders album.
Having just completed a
successful headline tour of Europe last month, their set list included
eighteen songs over two hours with seven from this latest album, six from
“All Hell Broke Loose” and four from “The Killer Instinct”, plus one harking
back to Thin Lizzy days, “The Boys are Back in Town” played in mid-set, but
that after all is a classic and almost everybody plays it.
of the Black Star Riders. (Photo/ Harpic Bryant/Breezeridge Photography)
After the release of
their debut album “All Hell Breaks Loose” in May of 2013, followed by “The
Killer Instinct” in February 2015, the band have now really hit their stride
with this, their third opus, “Heavy Fire”, produced by the man of the hour
Black Star Riders are
basically an American band with four seasoned, professional top notch rock
‘n’ rollers in Damon Johnson and Scott Gorham on lead guitar, Robbie Crane
on bass guitar, Jimmy DeGrasso (now replaced by Chad Szeliga) on drums and
Irishman Ricky Warwick on occasional guitar and vocals. Yes, Scott Gorham
was previously one of the lead guitarists in Thin Lizzy, but then Ricky
Warwick was the main man in The Almighty and nobody seems to hold that
If you like Heavy Rock
(not Heavy Metal, there is definitely a difference there) with a hard
hitting bouncy beat, screaming twin lead guitars, a romping bass, hard
hitting drums, witty lyrics about fast cars, love and lust and alcohol
fueled nights, all sung in an Irish brogue with short, sharp snappy songs,
this is the album for you.
As soon as the opening
title track, “Heavy Fire”, belts out of your speakers you know you are in
for a genuine rock ’n’ roll treat. The pace never lets up, giving you one
up-tempo rocker after another. When you put this album on in the car, make
sure to watch your speedometer as it just encourages you to go faster and
Highlights are a
plenty: “Ticket to Rise” is so catchy it should be a single for radio play
with its Beatles refrain, oh no, not more comparisons (it’s even got a
Rolling Stone’s type female backing vocal ending); the epic acoustic closing
ballad “Fade” finishes with a showboating guitar solo, and the all out rock
of “Who Rides the Tiger” leaves you in no doubt as to what sort of music
this band likes to play. Then, who cannot associate with a song called
“Dancing with the Wrong Girl”?
Sticking to this
formula will make 2017 the best year yet for the band. Thin Lizzy and
especially Phil Lynott will never be forgotten, but the Black Star Riders
can make their own giant footsteps from now on.
Lineup on the album:
Ricky Warwick – guitar
and lead vocals
Scott Gorham- guitar
Damon Johnson- guitar
Robbie Crane – bass
Jimmy Degrasso- drums
When The Night Comes
Dancing with the
Who Rides The Tiger
Cold War Love
Testify Or Say
Thinking about you
get me killed
True Blue Kid
Ticket to Rise
Letting Go Of Me
Written by Hells Bells and Mott the Dog. Mott the Dog and cronies are often
to be found supping a few ales amongst frivolous conversation in Jameson’s
Bar Nova Park Hotel, Soi AR, North Pattaya.