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The Mad Dog Blog

GSTV’s Mad Dog Blogger rounds up the latest in new books, albums and films

 

As the onset of Springtime wakens woodland creatures from their winter slumber and promises longer days and balmy evenings, the receding frost uncovers gems old and new in the forest and the Mad Dog pitter patters in wide-eyed wonder amongst the…….WHOA, sorry – been listening to too much Jethro Tull recently. Won’t happen again.

 

My television is bruised purple and my DVD player is still shaking like a shitting dog. Yep, just watched Metallica’s new DVD “Through The Never”. Filmed in an “in the round” stage setting, the live concert footage is cunningly interspersed with scenes from a young backstage runners’ nighttime adventure through a post-apocalyptic cityscape and is, as you’d expect, bludgeoning, brutal and utterly brilliant – right down to the surprising and very creative concert climax during Enter Sandman…nice one guys – you certainly fooled me. I’ll let the Editor decide whether to include that clip below. Personally, I think you should buy the DVD and enjoy the whole smorgasbord instead of grazing on bits and pieces like we all do in this new world of social media soundbites. If you treat it like porn and fast forward to the end, you’ll miss the crucial storyline and how the viewer gets to the climax of the show. Metallica administer a merciless, metal ear-spanking which will bring tears to your eyes and blood to your shoulders – great stuff.

 

 

As an antidote, treat yourself to a rather entertaining read – “Americana – The Kinks, The Road and The Perfect Riff” by Ray Davies of The…er….Kinks. Davies opines on his frustrations and clear affection for the changing America he witnessed from the initial “British Invasion” days of the 1960s, through each decade up to and including the noughties. Waxing lyrical (literally and figuratively), Davies is clearly a road-worn sofa which has creativity busting from its seams and to his credit, has carved out an impressive career in music, theatre and now literature. That said, he is also egocentric in the extreme – in that “I’m-suffering-for-my-art-why-won’t-the-world-listen-to-me” kind of way – which at a certain point in the book led me to yell “will someone shoot this guy !”. And lo and behold, they did – no, seriously, someone did shoot Ray Davies in a New Orleans street-mugging gone wrong. Enter life, death and mortality into the poetic meanderings of Ray Davies – arguably Britain’s Bob Dylan or rock music’s Byron. Roget’s Thesaurus has killed popular use of the word “nice” which is a perfect word to describe this book – it’s a nice read and highly recommended.

 

 

And on the subject of books, here’s a great one-two combination – but read them in order – first off “Exile On Main Street – A Season in Hell with The Rolling Stones“. Author Robert Greenfield was actually in residence with the Stones when they re-located to Villefranche on the French Riviera (just a few miles away and one of the favorite haunts of yours truly) in tax exile from the UK during the summer of 1971. His account of those heady, excessive and tempestuous months is first rate – if you lick the pages, you get a contact high. It’s staggering that they achieved anything at all during their stay in “la belle France”, let alone something as good as the Exile album – and truth be told, they nearly didn’t as the album only came together after several months of spaced-out debauchery and just before numerous brushes with the local gendarmerie, car wrecks and pending prosecutions suggested this would be a good time to leave France and go tour the US.

 

 

Which is where the second book kicks in – “S.T.P – A Journey Through America With The Rolling Stones“….pure mayhem as the Stones Touring Party make Motley Crüe look like errant school boys.

 

But I digress – Americana is also the genre for the best new find of 2014 (so far)….the li’l ole UK’s superbly-named Rosco Levee and the Southern Slide. Second album “Get It While You Can” is a perfect fusion of the best of American country rock, blues, southern rock and even gospel but delivered by a Stones/Free respectin’ five piece. Excellent song-writing, exemplary and soulful playing – this album has no filler tracks…..like broccoli for the ears – so, so good for you. Dip your toe in either “Back to the Banks” or “Some Angels Fall”…..

 

 

Finally, in the “Welcome Back” column, hearty Happy Returns to the Flying Dutchman himself, Adrian Vandenberg. Remember him, the blonde six-stringer in Whitesnake in the mid/late 90s ? Well, he’s been off “doing art” since his last record in 1998 but is back with a bang with Vandenberg’s Moonkings self-titled album. And it’s like he’s never been away ! Catchy hooks, rollicking riffs and a reminder that the classic rock standard four piece of drums, bass, guitar and voice is like a sore dick….you just can’t beat it ! “Good Thing” sounds like something Van Hagar would have been proud of had the girls in that band not gotten all twisty and pre-menstrual. “Line of Fire” channels The Cult whilst album opener “Lust and Lies” huffs and puffs and will blow your house down if you play it loud enough.

 

 

Don’t give up rockin’, don’t mime in front of the world’s biggest TV audience even if The Man tells you to, don’t piss and moan about being inducted into the Hall of Fame and don’t wash your darks with your whites. Those of you who rock will know what I’m talking about.

 

Mad Dog.

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