Ten Best Bands Named After Water Creatures

When it comes time for bands to adopt name, many of them have found inspiration from nature’s various creatures, be they insects like a beetle or primates such as monkeys. A few groups have even chosen extinct animals, so that music fans are familiar with the T. Rex of classic rock and the modern alt band Dinosaur Jr.

Seldom, however, have musicians decided to name themselves after creatures that dwell in the water. Therefore we have in the Rock Hall of Fame no groups named Octopus or Dolphin or The Squids, although there have been some popular bands who found inspiration from beings in the sea.

Here are ten of those groups.

The Turtles

They gained notoriety for turning Bob Dylan songs like “It Ain’t Me Babe” and “My Back Pages” into hits, but their most enduring classic is no doubt the love anthem “Happy Together.”

The Eels

Mark Oliver Everett has been the brain behind this alternative group since its onset in the late Nineties, and he is still making intelligent records like 2007’s Blinking Lights or 2010’s Tomorrow Morning or The Deconstruction released just last month.

Hootie & the Blowfish

Almost ubiquitous in 1986 because of Cracked Rear View, Darius Rucker and his mates never came close to matching the success of that debut. Rucker has in recent years become quite popular in the country genre.

Catfish and the Bottle Men

Sounding like an alloy of the Strokes and the Killers, this quartet enjoyed immediate success with an album titled The Ride.

The Sharks

Andy Fraser, bass player for Paul Rogers and Free, formed this group which split after just two records.


These guys hit their peak in the Nineties before disbanding just prior to the turn of the century.

Great White

After turning Ian Hunter’s “Once Bitten Twice Shy” into a Top Ten smash, this hard rock ensemble set off on a lengthy career.

The Stingrays

Travel back to the late Seventies and early Eighties, and you are sure to hear this group mentioned among the top acts considered the British New Wave.

Chocolate Starfish

The best Australian rock group in the Nineties, this alt rock outfit became known primarily for its ear-catching cover version of Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”

Hot Tuna

Probably the oldest member of this list, its original lineup was so popular it once appeared in an episode of the sitcom F. Troop.

How Does Music Affect Your Body and Mind?

Music is not just a set of sounds and rhythms. Its influence on the brain is much deeper than any other human experience. Keep on reading to know all truly enigmatic powers of music.

Music helps preterm babies

Preterm babies appear to experience less pain and feed more when listening to music, a recent study suggests. Experts led by Dr. Manoj Kumar of the University of Alberta, Canada, analyzed nine clinical trials and found that music had a beneficial effect on lessening pain for preterm babies undergoing painful procedures such as heel prick blood tests. It also appeared to benefit full-term babies during operations.

Premature infants have to stay longer under medical supervision to gain weight and get stronger. To accelerate this process, many hospitals fall back on calm, pleasant music. Canadian scientists discovered that music reduces pain sensitivity and improves the sucking reflex in such babies, contributing to the weight gain. Music is also a good way to get newborns off to sleep.

Music helps to recover from brain injuries

Many people experienced cerebral damage have speech and movement-related problems. As an alternative and effective treatment, doctors often recommend such patients to listen to good music to stimulate the parts of the brain responsible for these two functions. When people with neurological disorders caused by a stroke or Parkinson’s disease hear a musical beat, it helps them to regain a symmetrical walk and sense of equilibrium.

Music staves off the loss of hearing

Surely, music will not cure deafness but it really can prevent the loss of hearing. There was an experiment involving 163 people where 74 were musicians.

Participants were asked to pass some listening tests. Musicians heard the sounds better than non-musicians, and this difference gets more evident with aging. This means that a 70-year-old musician hears better than a 50-year-old non-musician, even in a noisy environment.

Music heals a broken heart

No, it is not about a cast-off love, but about a heart attack. The matter is music can help people recovering from a heart seizure or cardiac surgery by reducing blood pressure, slowing down the heartbeat rate, and relieving anxiety. Listening to the quality music evokes positive emotions, improves circulation, and expands blood vessels, thus, promoting quick rehabilitation of the whole cardiovascular system.

Use the power of upbeat songs you associate with positive memories, preferably from your more distant past when you felt safe, on top of your game, and happy. Avoid songs that even remotely pull you into the emotions of your breakup. Train your brain out of its funk by listening often and with intent.

So, friends, listen to first-class music and be healthy, physically and mentally alike!

Why You Need Ear Training Skills To Become A Great Guitarist

It is a struggle to become a great guitar player when you don’t have ear training skills. However, it’s probably not for the same reasons you might think…

Most guitar players believe that ear training only refers to identifying notes, chords or scales… but it’s much more than that! Developing a good ear as a guitar player also means being able to hear your mistakes while playing at fast speeds. This helps you fix mistakes that occur ONLY at fast speeds (not at slow speeds) in order to help you improve your technique. A guitarist with a good ear is able to hear mistakes of sloppy playing, identify what notes are sloppy and WHY they are sloppy.

Use the following ear training exercise to improve your ability to hear mistakes in your playing:

Step One – Choose a phrase, lick or riff that is no longer than 10 notes that you’d like to improve.

Step Two – Determine the speed at which mistakes appear while playing the item you chose in the previous step. Use a metronome to get the exact tempo.

Step Three – Reduce the tempo by 5-8 beats per minute and play through the item for one minute without stopping. While you do this, focus your attention on one specific note. Pay close attention to listen for any mistakes or imperfections in that note.

Step Four – Think critically about what is causing any mistakes for the note you were focusing on in the previous step. Play through the item again while making any necessary adjustments to fix the mistake(s) that made the note sound sloppy.

Step Five – Play through the practice item for one minute without stopping while focusing on a different note. Use this as a way to identify the subtle mistakes you make that you might not notice while playing normally.

Repeat this process as many times as needed until you have cleaned up every note for the practice item you chose. Then set the metronome up to the speed where the mistakes originally appeared and do this exercise again. The more you repeat this exercise, the stronger your ear becomes for identifying mistakes in your playing.

Practice using this creative approach consistently and watch as your guitar playing gets cleaner and cleaner every session. Do this for several weeks or months and your guitar playing goes to a whole new level where it becomes easy to play fast.

British Film Studios

In the 1930s and ’40s there were many studios turning out films to satisfy the hunger for the movies. Sadly, many have gone and the sites used for other purposes, such as housing estates. Elstree was the home to a number of Studios. They included the Gate Studios, now long gone. Still there, are what was the Associated British Picture Corporation Studios, now just known as Elstree Studios. Many big films have been produced there, including Star Wars. A lot of TV material is now shot there. Also standing across the road from Elstree Studios is the old ATV Studios, which years before had been the Rock Studios, run by American Joe Rock. These are now used by the BBC for programmes such as Eastenders and Casualty. There was a large MGM Studio at nearby Boehamwood, where many great British pictures were shot. Margaret Rutherford in the Miss Marple films were photographed there. This was known as MGM British Studios.

At Ealing in West London there is still the Studio that is famous for many George Formby, Gracie Fields films, as well as the famous forties and fifties comedies, such as The Lavender Hill Mob and some serious dramas, including It Never Rains on Sunday and The Cruel Sea. Many of the comedies were shot by the late Douglas Slocombe OBE. The Studios were taken over by the BBC in 1956. Ealing productions were then made at MGM for around two years, still bearing the Ealing name, before Ealing was wound up. One of the Ealing films made at MGM was The Man in the Sky, starring British actor Jack Hawkins. Ealing Studios was sold by the BBC and is still used for productions as well as film training. Bray Studios was home to the famous Hammer Films, many of them being in the horror genre and starring the late British actor Peter Cushing. At one point they were owned by the Samuelson group. They were well known for equipment hire. Denham Studios which operated from 1936-1952 was founded by Alexander Korda. The Studio was demolished in 1981. There is still Pinewood and Shepperton turning out excellent material. Pinewood is home to the James Bond movies and all the Carry On films were shot there. There was a small Studio called Nettlefold in Walton Upon Thames, turning out low budget material, including television productions such as Robin Hood, starring the late British actor Richard Greene.

At Merton Park they filmed the Edgar Lustgarten Scotland Yard films and the Edgar Wallace shorts. A bust of Edgar Wallace would move around in the Mist, during the opening credits. This was shot using a gramophone turntable. There was Beaconsfield Studios that became the National Film School, and Riverside Studios. There was also Lime Grove Studios in Shepherds Bush, west London. This had been the Gaumont British Studios, where Alfred Hitchcock shot some of The Thirty Nine Steps. Later it was taken over by the BBC. Some Studios have been completely demolished. These include MGM, which is now a housing estate and Lime Grove.

Rock Stars Start With Cold Calling

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve watched two remarkable films: A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bohemian Rhapsody about Freddie Mercury and Queen.

There’s always a lot to learn about success from rock stars. The most successful ones put in a huge amount of time and hard work to get to the top.

In a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Lady Gaga spoke about her early days:

“I knew I had something to say and I knew I wanted to say it. I was dragging my keyboard around everywhere in New York City and banging on everyone’s door. I was doing everything I could; I was really working it and I really believed in myself.”

In Freddie Mercury’s case, he joined a band called Smile as their lead singer and started writing songs. He changed the band’s name to Queen and convinced them to sell their van to produce their first record. And that record led to their first US tour.

Both Lady Gaga and Freddy Mercury had an unwavering belief in their talents and the energy to keep on pushing until they achieved their dreams.

They didn’t care about rejection. Lady Gaga knocked on doors. Freddy Mercury cancelled Queen’s record contract with EMI because they wouldn’t make Bohemian Rhapsody a single. It went on to become one of the most successful rock songs of all time.

They had guts, a singular vision, and real perseverance in difficult circumstances.

How about you?

Are you 100% committed to the success of your business?

Are you willing to endure difficult challenges, disinterest in your offerings, even rejection?

Do you believe in yourself and the difference you can make in the world?

Will you do what it takes to get your message in front of anyone who will listen?

Being a rock star doesn’t just mean being a great performer.

It means knocking on doors, standing up for what you believe in, taking risks, making mistakes, looking foolish, and never giving up.

As a self-employed professional, it means being authentic, giving real value, producing solid results for your clients, and loving what you do.

It doesn’t mean finding the so-called “killer marketing strategy” that’s over the top with hype, gimmicks, and empty promises.

No, it means finding your true message that both resonate with your ideal clients and that empowers you to take action.

And only you can find and deliver that message.

That’s what rock stars do.

Lady Gaga and Freddy Mercury did it. Why not you?

Cheers, Robert

Bassist John Deacon Is An Overlooked Component In The Success Of Queen

When the long anticipated Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody finally makes it to screens across the country, most viewers will be focused on the performance of Rami Malik in his role as Freddie Mercury. As the lead vocalist and front man, the charismatic Mercury was naturally the face of the band.

Fans of that unique electric guitar that enhances most of Queen ‘s songs will no doubt be paying close attention to the performance of Gwylim Lee, who in the film will be portraying Brian May.

People who appreciate the group’s percussion, especially on hits like “You’re My Best Friend” and “We Will Rock You,” might focus more of their attention on Ben Hardy as drummer Roger Tay!or.

Probably the least examined role will be that filled by actor Joseph Mazzello, who will appear as bass player John Deacon. Even though he was the composer of several of Queen’s biggest hits, Deacon has always been the least recognized among the glam rock quartet.

While the other three members have all been contributing songs since the band’s self-titled debut record, it was not until the Sheer Heart Attack album that Deacon offered his own composition.

“Misfire” may not rank as high as “Killer Queen” or “Flick of the Wrist” on that album, but it did portend that Deacon had a knack for coming up with a pop hook.

In fact, on the next album A Night At the Opera, Deacon was responsible for showing off a sweet side of the band that had hitherto been absent. His “You’re My Best Friend” serves as a tender complement to the wrath of tracks such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Death On Two Legs”, helping Queen draw more mainstream listeners.

His sole track on album four, A Day At the Races, provided an acoustic love ballad simply titled “You and I.” That acoustic approach was greatly enhanced on Deacon’s pieces for the next record, News of the World.

On no other Queen song is the acoustic guitar as elegant as it is on “Who Needs You”, a song whose bitter lyrics are placed on a beautiful musical background. The only song on the album that comes close to being as good is “Spread Your Wings”, which is Deacon’s second offering for News of the World.

He also have two songs to the follow up called Jazz, one a pop rock dirty and the other a love ballad with the title “In Only Seven Days.” Neither became a huge hit, but Deacon would soon pen the song that helped Queen become a standard at sporting events all across America.

The bass line has become one of the most recognizable musical introductions in the history of rock, as people from three generations can easily identify “Another One Bites the Dust” by just a few notes into it. That huge hit send the album The Game to the top of the charts, also aided by another Deacon song that became a minor single called “Need Your Loving Tonight.”

Deacon continued to pen hits for the quartet, his “I Want To Break Free” becoming the highlight of a record called The Works. That title could have provided insight to the personality of its writer, who never seemed to relish the attention that comes with being in a famous rock band.

His voice is seldom heard on a Queen song, and he passed on numerous opportunities to do reunions after Mercury passed away. May and Taylor did a tour with vocalist Paul Rodgers, but Deacon politely declined to join them.

Nor did he take part in the making of the upcoming biopic, allowing Taylor and May to preside over its progress. It appears that once Freddie Mercury died, Deacon did indeed break free of any tie the band held on him.

IT WAS A VERY GOOD YEAR – 12 Months When Rock Music Reached Its Peak

Career peaks for Led Zeppelin, Marvin Gaye, The Who, Joni Mitchell and Rod Stewart – in 1971 popular music reached its high water mark.

On a recent flight to Alicante from the UK I read a magazine article making the case for 1966 being the high water mark for popular music. The evidence looked watertight – Revolver, Pet Sounds, Blonde on Blonde, Fifth Dimension, each one a landmark album and released the same year as outstanding offerings from The Kinks, The Who, the Rolling Stones (and that was just in London), with ground-breaking music also being made in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

During the plane journey I began making a mental list of what I consider the greatest albums ever made: What’s Goin’ On, Born To Run, Blue, Plastic Ono Band, Blood On The Tracks, Who’s Next, Rubber Soul, London Calling, Tapestry, and in doing so realised how many were made in 1971. So without further here is the case for that year being the ‘annus mirabilis’ of rock music.

At first glance 1971 is a strange year for rock. The Beatles had split, there was no new material from Bob Dylan and constant personnel changes had blown The Beach Boys and The Byrds off course. But with What’s Goin’ On, Marvin Gaye gave Motown its finest hour. More social comment than sweet soul, the songs focused on inner city deprivation, brotherhood and the mess being made of the environment – marvellous Marvin proving you could have a message and make great dance music at the same time. Tapestry (Carole King) and Blue (Joni Mitchell) are albums of incredible maturity and insight into human emotions, while Every Picture Tells A Story is Rod Stewart at his most charming, funny and poignant. The title track is a wonderful mixture of eloquence and ramshackle rock with the killer second side (Maggie May, Mandolin Wind, (I Know) I’m Losing You and Reason To Believe) a match for any side of an album ever recorded.

1971 also brought Sticky Fingers, an album of such swagger and attitude it could only have been recorded by the Rolling Stones, the best recorded rock band on the planet weighed in with the sonic masterpiece that is Led Zeppelin IV, while on Muswell Hilbillies, King Kink Ray Davies presents sketches of London that 40 years before Graham Greene would have been proud of.

But the final word in this momentous year goes to the Rolling Stone magazine Record Guide which states Who’s Next by The Who ‘may well be the finest rock record ever made.’ If you agree with that statement (as I do) there is little else to add. As Del Trotter once said: ‘I don’t care what they say, you can’t whack The Who.’

By the time we landed in Alicante my mind was made up, 1971 was the golden year. But waiting to show my passport I thought of 1969 – and of Abbey Road, Tommy, Crosby Stills & Nash, Let It Bleed, Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Band, Dusty in Memphis, Led Zeppelin II…

Seven Singing Siblings Who Were Never In Bands Together

Music history is rife with siblings who perform together, even if at some point they have a falling out of two along the way. Fortunately, most of the family acts have avoided publicized inner turmoil, such as the brother-sister tandem of the Carpenters, the brothers in Van Halen, and the Taylor brethren of Duran Duran.

There are also a trio of brothers, the Finns, in the Eighties New Wave Band Split Enz, who has hits like “One Step Ahead” and “I Got You.” Making hits around that same time were the sisters of Heart, Ann and Nancy Wilson.

Still in all, any musicians who aspire to form a band with Sis or Bub might want to take cautilon, for there are a number of family groups that have nearly torn each other apart physically or in litigation. The Beach Boys with the Wilson brothers could be the most famous example, along with the highly publicized fights between the Davies siblings in the Kinks or the long standing rivalry of Liam and Noah Gallagher of Oasis.

If such familial spats scare you from taking the stage with someone who shares your parents, you can a!ways opt for a separate career from him. Here are seven examples of musical siblings who have not performed in a band together.

Jim Seals and Dan Seals

Each one has a singing partner, the younger (nicknamed England) with John Ford Coley and the older with Dash Croft.

Andy Gibb and the Bee Gees

Barry, Robin and Maurice had been around for a decade before peaking with Saturday Night Fever, and their little brother hit number one around the same time with “Thicker Than Water.”

Crystal Gale and Loretta Lynn

Coal Miner’s Daughter made big sis a big star, but Crystal topped the charts with “Half the Way.”

Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon

They shared a father who was the genius behind The Beatles, so it is no surprise that the two sons have had diverse recording careers.

Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright

Loudon, their folk-singing father, wrote tunes about both of these offspring before each pursued careers in a variety of musical genre.

Shaun Cassidy and David Cassidy

In his role as Keith in The Partridge Family David sang many hits before little brother made his enduring cover version of “Da Do Ron Ron.”

Johnny Van Zandt and Ronny Van Zandt

Lynyrd Sknyrd lost Ronny in a plane crash, only several years later to employ Johnny in the role of lead singer.

Happy Fiftieth Birthday To The Biff Rose Album Children Of Light, A Forgotten Treasure

Math equations can sometimes be used to describe certain musical performers, and the formula actually helps to identify their particular sound. Pointing out the combinations of more familiar recording artists is the next best thing to getting to hear the unknown artist with your own ears.

With that in mind, take Randy Newman and connect him to Tom Paxton. Then add Loudon Wainwright with Phil Ochs, and your solution would sound something like Biff Rose.

Not much has been heard of the piano playing folk songwriter Biff Rose since he received some acclaim in the late Sixties, after the release of his first album Children of Light. That record, quite influential in spite of unremarkable chart success, hit the store shelves in 1968.

David Bowie was one of the biggest stars to pay tribute to him, as he quoted Biff Rose in one the early albums. The Bowie song “Fill Your Heart”, just one of the many gems on the Hunky Dory album, is a cover version of a tune composed by Rose.

Rose had gone to Hollywood as a writer for comedian George Carlin in the Sixties, deciding soon after to become a recording artist. That decision brought about the debut album Children of Light, now fifty years old.

It is a smorgasbord of musical styles, blending ragtime with Vaudeville while also incorporating folk and classical. Lyrically, however, is where the album really stands out.

Most of the themes are left-leaning, as might be expected from a man who was en,edged in the hippie culture of the West Coast in the Late Sixties. The titles themselves indicate as much, especially “Communist Sympathizer” and “Colorblind Blues.”

On the latter, which was recorded live at the Troubadour in Hollywood, Rose exhibits his characteristic wit.

“Black power, blue power, green power, purple, thanks a lot. At the end of the rainbow there is pot,” he quips. “And I hear it’s gold.”

He parodies capitalism in “American Waltz”, on which Rose’s deft ragtime piano is backed by marching drums.

“The spirit of giving through selling and buying,” he says of the Christmas holiday in the United States. “Cars shaped like bullets with people inside.”

His humor is also apparent on “Ballad of Cliches” and “Ain’t No New Day”, but he proves just as gifted when it comes to serious tunes. “Son in Moon” offers a pointed reflection about man’s abuse of the earth, and “To Baby” serves as a love ode to someone special.

The highlight, however, is the title track, which contains some of Rose’s best piano playing as well as his most memorable lyrics.

“The man who’s afraid will have all kinds of answers, law and order, law and order, we need more law and order,” Rose snarls, perhaps as a stab at the political leaders at the time.

In April of 1969 Rose performed that song on The Smothers Brothers, appearing in the same episode as Ike and Tina Turner. A few months later on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand he sang “Spaced Out” and “I’ve Got You Covered”, the two tracks that are combined to close out the album.

Next came a memorable appearance on the Hugh Hefner weekly variety show, Playboy After Dark. Rose performed the title track before giving way to a future superstar, a twenty year old girl named Linda Rondstadt.

Not much was heard from Rose in the late Seventies, when he nearly disappeared from the music business. In 2018, though, folks hungry for nostalgia should celebrate his debut album’s fiftieth anniversary by digging out this treasure of eleven songs.

Local Storm Recalls Ten Songs With Lightning In Their Titles

When the storm hit the other night, I was fortunate enough to have my mp3 player handy. The sound through my ear phones became drowned out several times, most notably when a huge tree down the street got hit by lightning.

After settling my nerves, I thought of how ironic it would be if a song about lightning appeared on my mp3 player. Even though no such tune came on, I did think of ten possibilities.

Excluding three songs called “Lightning Strikes” by Lou Christie, Aerosmith and the Clash, here are the ten titles that all contain the word lightning.

Traveling in the Lightning by Warren Zevon

Among a bunch of folk tracks that feature the young artist on just acoustic guitar, the rock characteristics of this tune certainly make it stand out on the Wanted Dead Or Alive album.

Thunder and Lightning by Chi Coltrane

Her powerful vocal helped this hit storm into the Top Twenty back in 1974.

Lightning Bar Blues by Arlo Guthrie

Many who bought the Hobo’s Lullaby album because of “The City of New Orleans” had to be pleasantly surprised to hear Woody’s boy on this cover of the Hoyt Axton classic.

Greased Lightning by John Travolta

“You’re the One That I Want” and “Summer Nights” were much bigger hits, but this track might be the highlight of the soundtrack to the Grease musical that ruled the late Seventies.

White Lightning by George Jones

The aptly nicknamed Old Possum admitted to knowing a lot about the subject of this song, which is more fast-paced than some of his earlier hits like “The Grand Tour” and “The Closing of the Door.”

Flash Lightning by Tom Verlaine

After his excellent band Television split this front man did several solo works, and this single is fairly representative of that output.

Ride the Lightning by Metallica

This example provides one of the few times in which lightning and metal actually make a good match.

Lightning’s Girl by Nancy Sinatra

Frank’s girl covered this hit between the two popular records she made with folk singer Lee Hazelwood.

Lightning Storm by Flogging Molly

Heavy accents over old Anglo instruments and electric guitars characterize the band’s sound, which is well represented by this tune.

Lightning in the Sky by Santana

Black magic and evil ways were already popular subjects for the band, so a storm fits snugly right into their vast discography.