Debut Solo Albums From Singers Of Great Bands

Each morning the birthday section of the local newspaper prints the names of the famous people who were born on that particular day, and there is almost always a prominent musician listed among them. In some cases the editor finds it necessary to mention the band name, as the musician probably is not known to many people who might know the group.

Yesterday the paper listed Steve Vai, an esteemed but not widely recognized guitarist. For some reason none of the bands Vai worked with accompanied his name, even though that information might have helped music fans more clearly identify him.

His most famous collaboration cane through rock legend Frank Zappa, but Vai worked with many noteworthy artists during the decades that followed. My first introduction to Vai came through David Lee Roth, after I purchased the former Van Halen singer’s first solo album Eat ’em and Smile.

Steve Vai had a huge role in that album, but it still ended up with a lukewarm reception. Most fans of Van Halen, like myself, were disappointed by Roth’s first solo effort.

He was not the first singer of a great band to release a debut solo album that failed to live up to expectations, and here are ten others.

Mr. Bad Guy by Freddie Mercury

Queen’s front man took a disco approach to his first release without his three mates, so fans of vintage discs like A Night At The Opera and Sheer Heart Attack were bound to be a little disappointed. The album does have some tracks that have aged well, such as “Man Made Paradise” and “Living On My Own.”

Self-Titled by Ian Hunter

After the final two delightful Mott the Hoople records, Hunter did manage to score a hit by himself with “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” Few of the other songs here, however, meet the standards his band had established.

The Night Fly by Donald Fagen

“New Frontier” was a huge hit and most of the songs have endured, yet as a whole this collection pales to the discography of Steely Dan.

Beatitude by Ric Ocasek

It sounds like something his band The Cars might have done, only it clings too closely to a new wave sound that was already fading.

I Can’t Stand Still by Don Henley

People who liked both the rock and the country phases of the Eagles probably felt some regret when the singing drummer filled his first disc with mostly unremarkable pop tunes like “Dirty Laundry.”

Self-Titled by Eric Carmen

Carmen played power pop like “Go All the Way” with the Raspberries, only to do a complete one eighty all by himself on songs such as “Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.”

Schemer Dreamer by Steve Walsh

The energetic stage leader of Kansas broke out on his own to release an album with just seven songs, one of which was a cover of Elvis Presly’s “That’s All Right.”

Daltrey by Roger Daltrey

Busy with starring in the rock opera Tommy and singing most of the songs for the Who, Daltrey probably had limited time to spend on this solo release.

Pictures At Eleven by Robert Plant

He would enjoy much success as a solo artist later on, but this initial release kind of went over like a lead zeppelin.

Face Value by Phil Collins

“In the Air” was a huge hit, but the record veered too much from the work Collins did with Genesis in the early years.

How Copying Your Favorite Guitarist Harms Your Guitar Playing

Copying your favorite guitar players does not necessarily make you a better guitarist. Some great guitar players use inferior techniques even when they are proven to be inefficient.

Question: “Tom Hess, so why should I play any differently than my favorite guitarist? If it works for him, it must work for me… right?”

While some guitarists are able to play well using inefficient technique, this doesn’t mean you should do the same. Copying inefficient playing habits from them harms your guitar playing and keeps you from reaching your musical goals as fast as possible.

Here are a few things guitarists do that harm your guitar playing when you copy them:

Wrapping Your Thumb Around Neck While Playing

A lot of popular guitar players keep their thumb wrapped around the back of the neck while they are playing. Copying this prevents you from being able to play scales, arpeggios or licks that require stretching to play frets that are far apart. This also puts a lot of unnecessary strain on your fretting hand/wrist. Instead of wrapping your thumb around the neck, keep it around the middle of the back of the neck.

Wearing Your Guitar Very Low

It is popular among guitarists to wear their guitar low while standing. Playing guitar very low while standing makes it more difficult to play accurately. This occurs because you are unable to keep your thumb below the top of the neck. It forces you to bend your wrist, neck and back in ways that can lead to injury over time. By simply raising your guitar, you make it easier to reach notes and play accurately with less stress on your body.

This approach can also be practiced while sitting down. Simply sit with your guitar strap on to get used to how it feels. This way, when you play standing up it is easy to do because you are already used to the feeling of where the guitar sits around your shoulders.

Exclusively Using Alternate Picking

Some great guitar players exclusively use alternate picking in their music. Copying this prevents you from playing fast and clean by wasting tons of movement. Learning how to use directional picking saves a ton of movement in your picking motion and makes playing fast and clean feel effortless. Directional picking uses either alternate picking or sweep picking to reach the next note in the shortest possible path.

Eleven Hit Songs Made Into Movies

Bohemian Rhapsody is the title of the upcoming Queen biopic, named after the band’s most well-known song. Other films about music artists have used their most popular song for the title, such as Mamma Mia about Abba and “I Walk the Line” about Johnny Cash. Famous songs have also been used for titles of movie concerts by certain groups, such as Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains the Same and The Last Waltz by the Band.

In most cases when the two productions have the same title, the film has very little to do with the song. For example, the film American Pie has no relation to the Don McLean song, nor does Pretty Woman bear any resemblance to the hit by Roy Orbison.

Occasionally, hit songs have born such good story lines that they film makers have actually transformed the lyrics into a movie. Here are eleven examples of songs that were later made into films.

Convoy by C.W. McCall

Kris Kristofferson was chosen as the star of this picture about a gang of truckers who use their CB radios to form a mighty coalition against corrupt practices of highway policemen.

The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia by Vicki Lawrence

The Peach State is the obvious setting for this tale of murder, romance, and police malpractice, based on the song that reached number one a few years prior.

Harper Valley P.T.A. by Jeannie C. Riley

Barbara Eden stars as the sexy blond mother who gets fed up with the hypocrites in her small town, just like the main character in the famous song from the Sixties.

Ode To Billie Joe by Bobbi Gentry

Of course the Tallahatchi Bridge would be included in the film, for it served as part of the chorus in the song about a secret affair and its mysterious aftermath.

Coal Miner’s Daughter by Loretta Lynn

Since the tune was autobiographical, it made perfect sense to assign it as well to the Sissy Spacek movie about the country legend ‘s life.

The Gambler by Kenny Rogers

The made for TV movie, starring the singer himself, did not have anywhere near the success as the number one record.

Hurricane by Bob Dylan

Ruben Carter suffered from false imprisonment for murder, an injustice that Bob Dylan made into the biggest hit from the Desire album. Three decades later, the story of the heavy weight champ was made into an unforgettable film.

Tom Dooley by the Kingston Trio

Murder serves as the backdrop for this folk classic, which quite naturally fit into a Hollywood Western.

Pretty Boy Floyd by Woody Guthrie

He was a gangster whom Woody painted as a Robin Hood in the song, which twenty years later was developed into a script.

Copa Cabana by Barry Manilow

Rico and Tony get into a fatal fight over Lola the dancer in both the song and the film, the former of which has been far more enduring than the latter.

Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie

Everyone’s favorite Thanksgiving song is nearly as long as (but much funnier than)/the movie itself, which appeared a few years later with Arlo himself as the star.

Songs That Mention Politicians In Their Titles

Few of us want to hear politicians, and not many want to even hear about one. Occasionally, however, hearing the name of a governing official is actually joyful, because the reference comes in a song.

Here are fourteen of those, all mentioning a politician or government leader.

Harry Truman by Chicago

President number 33 succeeded Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but his biggest honor may be having one of America’s most successful bands pay musical homage to him.

Here’s To the State of Richard Nixon by Phil Ochs

John Lennon was not the only popular songwriter on the alleged enemies list of the only President to resign while in office, for the anti-war singer Ochs made Nixon unhappy with ditties like this one.

Abraham, Martin and John by Dion

Many years had passed since his “Runaround Sue” and “The Wanderer” dominated rock radio, so this track about a trio of civic leaders served as somewhat of a comeback for Dion.

Eisenhower Blues by Elvis Costello

T-Bone Burnett worked with Costello on King of America, the folksy acoustic record from which this retro track spawned.

Lyndon Johnson Told The Nation by Tom Paxton

What the President actually said to the nation was less important than the fact that it was so cleverly satirized in this track from one of Bob Dylan’s folk peers.

Little Hitler by Nick Lowe

Germany’s notorious leader is used as a symbol in this track from Rock and Roll Jesus, which later inspired friend Elvis Costello to record “Two Little Hitlers” for his Armed Forces album.

Joe McCarthy’s Ghost by the Minutemen

Senator McCarthy is still remembered as the politician who led to the blacklisting of any prominent person rumored to have leanings toward the left of the political spectrum during the Red Scare.

Say Ho by Scott Miller and the Commonwealth

Born in Tennessee, which is where Miller hails from, San Houston went West to help Texas achieve prominence.

Churchill’s Speech by Iron Maiden

That Great Britain’s Prime Minister would appear in a song should not be surprising, except that he is mentioned in one by an American hard rock band.

Mandela Day by Simple Minds

The revered President of South Africa can be found in a lot of songs from the Eighties and Nineties, but the New Wave band is the most famous to put him in the title.

Che Guevara Tee Shirt by Richard Shindell

Part of the New Folk movement along with John Gorka, Shindell could write poignantly about personal topics as well as political.

White Bones of Allende by Tom Paxton

Back in the Sixties earlier had skewered LBJ, but a decade later Paxton praised a Latin American leader.

The Ballad of Spiro Agnew by John Denver

Most of Denver’s politics were confined to environmental issues, but he did call out the Vice President of Nixon on this classic tune.

Poor Napoleon by Elvis Costello

An Englishman showing sympathy for a French emperor probably would not have happened a hundred years before, but this case appeared in 1986 on Costello’s Blood and Chocolate album.

The Effect of Digital Technology in the Music Industry

Nowadays, teenagers are living constantly surrounded by technology even if the younger generation may not see it, technology has had an impact on the world as a whole. The widespread use of digital technology in the music industry has allowed consumers to reproduce digital versions of copyrighted song inexpensively with the help of many software and websites.

The growth of downloads and exchange of music are held responsible for the decrease of music sales since the end of the 90s. Information and communication technologies, and especially the internet, changed the logic of consumption and the process of producing music.

One of the biggest challenges for the music industry was to deal with the invention of the MP3 file. This file came into life between 1996 and 1999 and since then, piracy became more and more important. The MP3 file enables people to save files on computers and share music with anyone in the world.

Asides this, YouTube which is the third most visited website in the world behind Google and Facebook houses 100 hours of video every minute. One of the major fact to keep in mind is that YouTube is paying artists and music labels. We also have other channels like Vevo.

On April 28, 2003, Apple released the iTunes store. The iTunes store which has more than 500 million users in 119 countries has more than 25 billion songs. Nowadays, artists make most of their money by touring and selling music on iTunes.

Even though digital technology have had bad effects on the music industry, new devices appeared and helped the music industry. These days, the industry is stimulated, thanks to the competition created by Spotify or even SoundCloud which enables to display music and protect copyrights for free or at a very low price.

Entertainment has been a popular tool for over a decade ago with popular musicians at the centre stage with names like 50 Cent born ‘Curtis James Jackson, The Notorious B. I. G born Christopher George Latore Wallace, D. M. C born Darryl Mc Daniels, 2Pac born Tupac Shakur, LL Cool J born James Todd Smith and a host of other prominent foreign musicians who have really proved to the world at large what music entails.

They inspire young and upcoming artists on the rudiment of music and on the need to see music as not just a career but as something to relieve the body from stress and to liven the soul. The entertainment industry the captured the mind of the populace by promoting arts and culture and then lifestyle.

Celine Dion

Prominent among whom is Celine Dion, a Canadian Singer who was born on 30th March 1968 into a large family from Charlemagne, Quebec. She first gained international recognition in the 1980s by winning both the 1982 Yamaha world popular song festival and the 1988 Eurovision song contest where she represented Switzerland. She released several English albums along with additional French albums.

Micheal Jackson

Also, we have the American singer Micheal Joseph Jackson, a song writer, dancer, who was one of the most popular entertainers in the world and was the best selling music artist during the year of his death. He was born in August 29, 1958.

Nowadays with the influx of several artists and with modernization, entertainment have taken a new dimension with more of the cinema, open shows, mall entertainment, amusement parks where notable musicians thrills large audience to delectable fun. It has become more of competition these days with all artists trying to live up to expectation in order to capture large audience compared to that of the olden days where competition is at its lowest as artists inspires and instills more of moral in the mind of the audience

In conclusion, the digital technology has impacted greatly on the music industry and given the enormous contribution to the industry, we can deduce amidst its disadvantages that the digital technology has made music reachable to the people at the grassroots at little or no cost thus making them have access to music at any day and at any time.

Nine Music Artists Named After Attire

Always a painful undertaking, my bi-yearly trip to pay my insurance bill did have a pleasant consequence today. A conversation with my agent about music, prompted by the tee shirt I was wearing, eased the fact that almost three thousand dollars would be deducted from my already meager savings.

Since he recognized the Elvis Costello album cover on my chest, the agent told me he liked most of the early records like My Aim Is True, Armed Forces and Get Happy. He then explained that he once played drums in an Elvis Costello cover band, and he in particular loved to play “Watching the Detectives.”

That long extinct band lasted just a few months, he said, and as far as he knew there were no other such groups around. When I got home I made an unsuccessful internet search for that band, which he had identified as The Red Shoes after one of Costello’s most famous characteristics.

That name made me think of other groups who referred to themselves as articles of clothing or accesories. Here are the nine I came up wth.

Plain White T’s

The pop quintet hit it big with “Hey There Delilah” and they have been releasing power pop records like Big Bad World ever since.

The Jo Boxers

“Just Got Lucky” has endured as their most recognizable songs, many of which sparkle with that New Wave sheen from the Eighties.

Hollywod Argyles

Singles like the one about a cave man named Alley Oop made a star of this guy whose name is associated with socks.

Los Straightjackets

These guys were the dominant instrumental guitar band of the Nineties, cranking out albums blending metal, rockabilly and jazz.


Denim would seem a more likely pants material to inspire a band name, but this acid jazz quartet went with an even heavier material.

The Cardigans

Nina Persson fronted this Swedish band who had consistent chart success in the late Nineties, topped by “Lovefool.”

The Psychedelic Furs

PETA might not be big fans of these “Pretty In Pink” musicians if their name did indeed refer to clothing or something to be worn.

Golden Earring

“Radar Love” made the Top Ten” but the Dutch rockers had to wait another twenty years to reach that mark again, when they scored with “The Twilight Zone.”

Boots Randolph

Saxophone was relatively unknown in country music before Randolph showed Nashville that brass could enhance honky tonk tunes.

Music Gear Shopping – Understand It Better Before the Purchase

Are you planning to buy a music gear for your music loving friend? Does your studio need a brand new music gear for better sound and practising? Go through this article to know more about different music gears and tips to buy the best.

There are different types of music gear ranges that benefit your studio and practices. Portable keyboards are available in the market, which can be used wherever you want to play them. They have inbuilt speakers so there won’t be a need for any extra instrument to hear them. Some portable keyboards are both speaker attached and computer connectable as well.

Another useful gear is the drum mics. There are drum mic kits, which contain more than one microphone with accessories like clips, cases, etc. They are more affordable than buying single ones. These mics can also be used for different instruments. Both condenser and dynamic type microphones are available in the market that can be used for live performances and studio recordings respectively.

Electronic drums are most beneficial for drummers, who want to privately enjoy the sound. They have headphone attachments so that you can enjoy your own creation without the embarrassment of others hearing them. They are quieter than the acoustic drums, which makes every situation a perfect time to enjoy your own drumming without disturbing others.

With the amazing electronic drum of yours, a drum monitor or drum amplifier is the best gear you can ever have. It is also advisable to use an alternative to these amplifiers due to their versatility. Products like keyboard amplifiers, powered PA speakers are the most common alternatives used. However, it is not advisable to use a guitar amplifier or bass amplifier, as it does not reproduce the exact sound produced by a drum. It is more appropriate to find a portable and less weight amplifier so that you can carry them around.

When all of your instruments are ready to play, then you need a recorder. There are digital multitrack recorders available in the market that help you to record the music tracks. The desktop digital multitrack recorder has all the facilities like recording mixing and reproduction of your music all built in them. Portable or handheld multitrack recorders are convenient as they can be carried easily in your bag or even in your pocket.

While selecting a multitrack recorder we should check how many tracks it can record simultaneously and also the number of tracks it can mix. If the manufacturer lists the track recorder as 8 tracks, then the maximum number of tracks it can mix is 8. Handheld ones can be used in outdoor recordings, rehearsals, live performances, etc.

Another gadget you need for recording is a good audio interface. Single and double channel interfaces can be used for indoor recordings as the vocal and instruments can be recorded separately and mixed. Even 4 channel and more types are available in the market for better productions.

Things to Consider When Buying Your First Guitar

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and learn the guitar! Congratulations! Perhaps an early daunting prospect in this venture is actually purchasing your very first guitar. It’s easy to be a little unnerved by the high price tag carried by even seemingly “middle-of-the-road” types of instruments. Many newcomers to the guitar are not quite reassured they will have the perseverance to stick with the instrument and justify the initial sticker shock of their first guitar. I have had many beginner guitar students come through my studio for guitar lessons in Surrey and Langley, and I thought I would share a few bits of advice for those looking to purchase their first instrument.

First things first, we have to ensure that the instrument we purchase is playable. Guitar is a very mechanically challenging instrument, especially when we are getting our start, so we want to make sure the instrument is not going to ‘fight’ us as we train our fingers to create music. Being at one with your instrument is such a liberating feeling, and becomes very difficult to unlock if we are playing an instrument that is not comfortable to play. It’s for this reason, that I generally don’t advocate going extremely cheap on your first guitar. It may be tempting, for example, to purchase an acoustic guitar for $50 from a department store, but this will not aid our learning process.

I would suggest that a beginner avoid purchasing a used instrument, unless they have a very experienced player who can accompany them to check over the guitar before purchasing. There are a lot of finer details that we want to ensure are in check when purchasing a used guitar – they are quite temperamental instruments – and these details are going to be very difficult to spot for someone new to the instrument. If cost is prohibitive or you/your child are not 100% sure guitar is going to be for you, I highly recommend renting your instrument. For example, Long & McQuade ( ) has some great monthly rates for very nice instruments available.

Try to shoot for an instrument that is visually appealing to you. It’s likely that there is an artist that inspired you or your child to learn guitar. Wouldn’t it be fun to play an instrument that resembled the guitar that this artist plays? Think of you/your child’s favorite rock, acoustic, blues, or jazz guitarist. Yes, established artists play high-end instruments, but chances are there is an entry level option with an equivalent visual aesthetic crafted for someone just like you! A perfect example would be the Squier ‘strat’ or Fender Stratocaster style guitar. A common beginner package is a complete kit containing an electric guitar, small amplifier, and accessories usually for only a couple hundred dollars! Brands such as Yamaha have great entry-level models of Acoustic guitars as well.

These are my main thoughts for beginners looking to purchase their first guitar, or purchasing their child’s first guitar. If we’re able to purchase or rent a guitar that is playable, in great physical condition, affordable, and one that we can get excited to play, we are already on the fast track to success on learning this great instrument!

Seven Best Songs Of Seven Minutes Plus

“Hey you, don’t make it bad” was unnecessary advice for aspiring musicians, but record companies also once insisted, “Don’t make it longer than three minutes.” If it exceeded much beyond that length, a song had no chance of becoming a hit.

Fortunately, The Beatles shattered that theory exactly fifty years ago, when they scored a huge hit with a song that ran twice that long. “Hey Jude” had a running time of over seven minutes, yet it still managed to reach number one and stay there for a record eight weeks.

In the fifty years since Paul McCartney wrote that long chart topper, many songs running well over that traditional three minute mark have become big hits. In fact, one that ran longer than eight minutes even hit number one a few years after “Hey Jude.”

Not only does “American Pie” by Don McLean have the longest running time ever for a number one hit, but it contains a record number 980 words in its lyrics. That total is more than three times than that found in “Hey Jude.”

Here are seven of the other best tunes that play longer than that now fifty year old classic by The Beatles.

Cowgirl In the Sand by Neil Young

Checking in at over ten minutes, this track from Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere is highlighted by several guitar jams.

Stairway To Heaven by Led Zeppelin

Even though this standard from Led Zeppelin IV never made it to number one, it has become more well-known than either “American Pie” or “Hey Jude.”

Desolation Row by Bob Dylan

Robert Zimmerman always had a lot to say through his songwriting, and he uses over eleven minutes to make his point on this closer from Highway 61 Revisited.

I Just Sit There by Sonny Bono

His only solo album opens with this fourteen minute track, which criticizes everyone from politicians to movie stars to The Beatles.

Danse With Me George by Ambrosia

Chopin and his romance with author George Sand was the inspiration for this criminally underrated epic from the group’s second album, Somewhere I’ve Never Travelled.

Us And Them by Pink Floyd

Anyone looking for the dark side of the moon could wait for it while listening to this psychedelic single, which runs nearly eight minutes.

Deacon Blues by Steely Dan

When Donald Fagin says “Sue me if I play too long” in the last verse, he falsely assumes that someone would find this Aja hit’s length unacceptable. Most fans wish it went on even longer.

An Examination of Carbon Fiber Bows

All stringed instrument players know the importance of a good bow. But how do carbonfiber bows stand up to Pernambuco, Brazilwood, fiberglass and composites?

The history of fine violins, violin making – and violas and cellos for that matter – is rich with craftsmanship applied to all-natural materials, varying types of wood, horsehair and natural varnish to be specific. So it may seem almost heretical to talk about manmade materials such as carbon fiber for use in fine music.

Chalk it up to human ingenuity that, sometimes, what is manufactured from minerals and other resources can serve an artistic purpose. This is not to say that carbonfiber bows are perfect substitutes for wood bows – they are not – but for several reasons the manmade material is embraced by serious musicians, either as their primary bow or as a backup for certain kinds of playing.

Ask around at your preferred violin shop – they may well have clientele who use wood and carbon fiber, depending on the occasion. Even the most traditional violin maker will stock these carbon fiber bows in their shops.

Here are the advantages carbonfiber bows have over their wood (Pernambuco, Brazilwood) and other synthetic material (fiberglass or composites) counterparts:

Sound – Serious musicians almost universally prefer the Pernambuco bow for a richer and more nuanced timbre or resonance. But some will keep a carbonfiber bow for outdoor playing, or for playing within a large orchestra; they save their wood bow for chamber music where the violin, cello or viola voice is more pronounced.

Sturdy yet lightweight – As a manmade material also used in sports (e.g., carbon fiber tennis racquets), it should be obvious that carbon fiber bows can stand up to rigorous handling (e.g., travel). They are also considered strong at the tip and some prefer it altogether for playing.

Resilient to humidity and humidity changes – Organic materials such as wood will expand and contract, depending on the relative humidity of where it is. This is a problem for musicians who might travel from arid Los Angeles to perform in humid Washington, DC, or from climate-controlled rehearsals to outdoor events on sultry summer nights. A wood bow would expand with humidity, requiring adjustment of string tension – but a carbon fiber bow would be unchanged.

Reasonable cost – Expect to pay about $300 for a carbon fiber bow, give or take. The price is largely stable because it doesn’t depend on rare wood availability.

Sustainable – Both Pernambuco and Brazilwood come from Brazil, but deforestation there has severely cut the supply of the former and had the effect of driving the price up. Brazilwood is a term for a range of woods and as such they are in greater supply. Purchasing a carbon fiber bow could be considered an act of preservation of the Pernambuco tree (note: the Brazilian government is working to save the species).

Not to be confused with fiberglass and composites – These are the lowest cost types of bows, encouraged for beginner students or more casual players.

Factors affecting the choice and preference for a bow type include the instrument itself and the musician. Darkness and lightness of sound, speed of play, weight and balance all factor in. The best advice is to try both wood and carbonfiber bows to get a sense of the differences and similarities.