Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tom Petty - American Boy

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are one of those very few artists that appeal to all ages and people from all backgrounds who like music.  Everyone has at least one Petty record their collection.  The venerable Rock and Roll Hall of Famers hit the road this summer for their Highway Companions tour.

The Band
Though Petty gets the lion’s share of the credit, the Heartbreakers are not a backup band mind you, but a collaborative ensemble.  They have been playing together since 1975 and have understandably become a well-oiled machine not only in the studio, but especially on stage.  Recently though, Petty’s solo efforts have garnered the most attention, with ‘Full Moon Fever’ and ‘Wildflowers’ both going triple platinum.

The Songs
One of Petty’s most beloved tunes, ‘American Girl,’ was never released has a single, but has remained a rock radio staple since the mid 70s.  In fact many early Heartbreakers’ songs like ‘Don’t Do Me Like That,’ ‘Here Comes My Girl,’ and ‘Refugee,’ didn’t receive much attention until long after the release of “Damn the Torpedoes”.  The band enjoyed much success throughout the 80's with hits like ‘Don’t Come Around Here No More,’ 'You Got Lucky,’ and ‘Jammin Me’ (co-written with Bob Dylan).

Busy Guy
In addition to touring with the Heartbreakers, Petty is putting the finishing touches on his third solo album with collaborator and former fellow Traveling Wilbury Jeff Lynne.  He also has a recurring character on the animated Fox show ‘King of the Hill’ and has his own radio show on XM Satellite radio called ‘Tom Petty’s Buried Treasure’.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Def Leppard/Journey - 80’s arena heroes unite

Bust out the stonewashed jeans and grab your lighter, Def Leppard and Journey are teaming up and bringing their slick, overproduced brand of arena rock to a town near you.  Both bands have been rockin' since the 70’s and though they have had a few lineup changes over the years, their ability to entertain the masses with infectious pop hooks has remained a constant.

The Bands
Born in Sheffield, England in 1977, the Lep has seen its share of tragedy with one
member succumbing to the perils of alcohol and another losing his arm in a car accident.
Yet they persevered, creating an accessible brand of pop-metal and selling millions of records
in the 80s and 90s.  Journey, on the other hand, is a shadow of its former self.  In fact, in this writer's opinion, they shouldn’t even be allowed to use the name anymore. Vocalist and chief songwriter Steve Perry is no longer a Journey-man.  His voice was perhaps the defining instrument in the band, but he left in the late nineties to rest up and pursue other interests.  This new guy, Steve Augeri may be able to hit those high notes, but he’s no ‘city boy, born and raised in South Detroit.'

The Songs
It’s safe to say, during any given week in the 1980’s, either a Def Leppard rocker or a
Journey tune was firmly entrenched on the top ten pop chart.  The lads from Britain first
hit it big with ‘Photograph’ and ‘Rock of Ages,' bolstered by constant airplay on then
fledgling network MTV.  They followed it up with ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me,' ‘Animal,’
and ‘Hysteria.'  Journey’s success with power ballads like ‘Don’t Stop Believin',’ ‘Open
Arms,’ and ‘Faithfully’ forced similar bands of the day to search for that radio-friendly
formula.  Soon every group on the charts had at least one slow guitar weeper in their

Quite an ‘05
Steve Perry was adopted by the Chicago White Sox during their playoff run, he even
joined the team at their victory parade in downtown Chicago to sing his defining song
'Don’t Stop Believin’.  Earlier that year Journey earned a star on Hollywood’s Walk of
Fame.  Def Leppard toured with Canada’s answer to Journey, Bryan Adams.