Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 56: Freddy Villano

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The American bassist Freddy Villano is best known for his stints with Quiet Riot (in a line-up with Kevin DuBrow, Frankie Banali and Carlos Cavazo) and Dee Snider’s Widowmaker. He now plays with The Rods. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson asked Freddy what five albums made him bang his head and join the brotherhood of metal.

Black Sabbath “Sabotage” (1975)

Black Sabbath “Heaven and Hell” (1980)

“I’ll discuss both of these simultaneously because they both feature Geezer Butler, unless you believe some of Craig Gruber’s bass parts/tracks remain on ‘Heaven and Hell’, and they both share a similar origin story in my life. When I was between 6th and 7th grade, my sister, who is five years older than me, dated a guy who knew I was into KISS. So, one day he came over with these two records (yes, vinyl-era!) for me to check out. Incidentally, I was a drummer at the time, and Peter Criss was my hero, but that was about to change. These two records made me want to be a bass player. It was that simple, really. I used to sit for hours on end, poring over the album cover details while listening to these records and I still feel the same about them today as I did then. I think they are two of Sabbath’s finest moments.”

Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast” (1982)

“My sister’s boyfriend strikes again! He asked my parents if he could take me to a concert, which would be my first. Iron Maiden at the now defunct North Stage Theater in Glen Cove on Long Island, New York. The Rods – who I now play with, coincidentally – were the opening act! My first-ever concert was Iron Maiden on ‘The Number of the Beast’ tour! I still can’t believe I saw Clive Burr live! There was something about the kinetic energy between him and Steve Harris that I don’t think Nicko McBrain was ever able to replicate, and so I’m going with this record over ‘Piece of Mind’ for that reason. Though ‘Piece of Mind’ has ‘Where Eagles Dare’, perhaps my favourite Maiden tune of all time.”

Rainbow “Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow” (1975)

“Absolute underrated and essential listening for any would-be rock bass player. Craig Gruber’s playing is simply outstanding and ranks among the titans of rock as demonstrated by this list. Just listen to how he is able to improvise on a motif and continually develop an idea as he does with the bass line during Blackmore’s solo in ‘Snake Charmer’. It’s the kind of playing to aspire to. Simply brilliant.”

Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin II” (1969)

“Since this list essentially turned into my ‘top five essential albums for rock bass’, no list would be complete without John Paul Jones. This album features JPJ’s iconic performances on ‘What Is and What Should Never Be’, ‘Ramble On’, ‘Bring It On Home’ and of course, his epic tour de force, ‘The Lemon Song’. ‘Nuff said, really.”

www.facebook.com/freddy.villano

www.facebook.com/officialrodspage

www.therods.com

Single review: The Lightbringer of Sweden “Free the Angels”

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Lars Eng is back with a new The Lightbringer of Sweden single. “Free the Angels” is European power metal at its best.

Heavy, fast, riff-happy and yet very melodic in a bombastic power-metal way. The Swedish guitarist and composer Lars Eng is back with a new The Lightbringer of Sweden single, “Free the Angels”. It follows the same path as the band’s debut album “Rise of the Beast” from 2020. On the debut album the dark forces were in focus and now it seems that the tables have turned and the good guys are fighting back on album number two. “Free the Angels” is the first single from the forthcoming second album. The German singer Herbie Langhans (Avantasia, Firewind, Radiant, Sonic Haven) is still behind the microphone. He is one of metal’s best current melodic metal vocalists in Europe and he is not holding anything back on this new track. But as great as Herbie’s vocals are, and the fab production and skilled musicians, it is Lars Eng’s songwriting that is the key ingredient in The Lightbringer of Sweden. Lars has studied his 1980s metal heroes, been inspired and used that to create his version of power metal. It is refreshing with a single that clocks in at 6:20. It is a statement of defiance. Screw the three-minute rule! This is a great track and it demands its six-plus minutes. In addition to Lars and Herbie, the band consists of Tobbe Jonsson (Angeline) on drums, Johan Bergqvist on bass and Carsten Stepanowicz (Radiant, Sonic Haven) on guitar. It is a terrific first taste of the next album. Bring it on!

The Lightbringer of Sweden’s new single “Free the Angels” will be out on 8th September.

www.thelightbringer.se

www.facebook.com/thelightbringermetal

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 55: Tommy Bolan

Tommy Bolan. Photo: Shawn Sand

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

The American guitarist Tommy Bolan is best known for his work with German heavy metal band Warlock and its fierce leader Doro Pesch. He has also been a member of the solo band of Richie Ramone, the former Ramones drummer. Warlock will release “Triumph and Agony Live” on 24th September. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson talked with Tommy to find out about the five albums that had an impact on him.

“That’s a tough one, to pick only five, as I listen to so many varieties of music and draw inspiration and feel from so many different types of styles and each one takes me to a different place depending on my mood and where I want to go. But here are five that definitely make the cut for me personally.”

KISS “Alive!” (1975)

“This album inspired me to be a performer and the songs are great. This got under my skin and made me want to get onstage. Listening to the song ‘Parasite’ and then as the band would kick in after the intro, was always a magic moment for me.”

AC/DC “Powerage” (1978)

“Great rockin’ album with powerful riffs and songs. I first heard this when I spent a summer at my aunt’s house in Kentucky, as a local kid played it all the time. When I got home my mom bought it for me for Christmas. The song ‘Riff Raff’ is a big favourite of mine.”

The Cars “The Cars” (1978)

“Excellent songwriting and structure and I used to play a lot of these songs in the bars in cover bands, as I was first learning to play guitar. Elliot Easton is an understated guitarist. He added a lot of colour in his fills and riffs to these songs and you can basically sing all of his solos.”

Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush “Live” (1978)

“My older brother bought this album home one day and it completely blew my mind and pushed my energy level through the roof. I was a Jimmy Page fan for blues and Blackmore fan for the exotic stuff – but Marino took that for me and put in a blender and hit puree. Listen to his version of ‘Johnny B Goode’ – the first note in his main solo of that song always makes the hair on my arms stand up. Pure energy.”

Judas Priest “Screaming for Vengeance” (1982)

“Amazing album – top to bottom. Basically, I wore the grooves out of this. This was pure metal for me and I used to play these songs in the bars, etc. Great energy and I still blow my car speakers out when ‘You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’’ comes on the radio “

www.facebook.com/tommybolanofficial

www.facebook.com/doropeschofficial

www.doromusic.de

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 54: John Gallagher

John Gallagher. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Raven vocalist and bassist John Gallagher founded the band together with his brother Mark Gallagher in Newcastle, England in 1974. 47 years later the band is still going strong. The band’s latest album, “Metal City”, was released in 2020. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with John to find out about the five albums that make him rock until he drops.

Slade “Slade Alive!” (1972)

“The first album I ever bought. Still mind blowing! The sheer power of this band is a marvel to behold. Jimmy Lea’s bass playing is just amazing and Noddy Holder has a voice that could level buildings. Combined with them being the first band me and my brother saw live, It was a case of ‘I wanna do THAT’.”

Deep Purple “Made in Japan” (1972)

“I heard this long before the studio albums, which are great, but this is on another level. Even as a kid I understood they were improvising, listening to each other and changing up their parts as if they were throwing a ball around to each other! I mean, compare the studio ‘Highway Star’ to this one. The live one is just brutal! Every one of them at the top of their game. The real deal.”

Montrose “Montrose” (1973)

“One of the UK music papers had a three-song flexi disc giveaway. The band was Montrose and it blew our bleeding heads off! In exactly the same way the Van Halen debut would five years later, with the same producer and engineer no less. Pure freakin’ energy. Every track a gem. We used to play ‘Space Station #5’ and ‘Make It Last’ for years back in the clubs. It’s in our DNA!”

Yes “Relayer” (1974)

“A unique band got ever more so on this album. Only three tracks but damn, It’s a masterpiece. Chris Squire’s playing and note choices on this defy belief and convention. As do the performances of Steve Howe, Alan White, Patrick Moraz and Jon Anderson. For such a technical band on the surface, it’s pure emotion all the way through and an album I can never tire of.”

Tori Amos “Boys for Pele” (1996)

“I’d heard a few songs of hers in passing and the comments of being a Kate Bush rip-off, totally wrong, but finally saw her performing ‘Hey Jupiter’ on ‘The Tonight Show’ and got it. Pure artistry. Pure raw emotion. Unstoppable bulletproof piano playing and that voice. And to think some of the songs like ‘Marianne’ were improvised right there on the spot, impossibly amazing. The whole thing is just daring and odd and wonderful rolled into one.”

www.facebook.com/ravenbandofficial

www.ravenlunatics.com

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 53: Dirk Verbeuren

Dirk Verbeuren of Megadeth backstage in Tokyo in 2017. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Megadeth drummer Dirk Verbeuren is currently touring North America with Dave Mustaine and the rest of the band on the “Metal Tour of the Year”. During his career, the Belgian-born and US-based multi-instrumentalist has played with acts such as Soilwork, Bent Sea, Cadaver, Tronos, Scarve, Naglfar, Aborted, Devin Townsend and many more. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson caught up with Dirk during the tour to find out what six (!) albums helped shape him as an artist.

“My list ended up being six albums because I couldn’t choose. Haha! Every adventurous metal fan growing up in the ’80s was naturally affected by the burgeoning thrash and death metal scenes. Instead of going for the infamous milestones that have influenced most of us, I’ve chosen to talk about some lesser-known albums which had a massive impact one me both as a listener and a musician, in hopes that you will give them a spin.”

Godflesh “Selfless” (1994)

“I first heard Godflesh on Earache’s legendary ‘Grindcrusher’ compilation. The duo’s uniquely dark and crushing soundscapes instantly pulled me in, and subsequently, ‘Streetcleaner’ was on heavy rotation on my bedroom stereo. While I’ve grown to love each and every Godflesh record, it’s their fourth album that hit me the hardest. Guitarist/vocalist Justin Broadrick has called ‘Selfless’ the band’s ‘rock’ album, and while it’s a little more melodic, true to form it’s also heavier than a ton of bricks. ‘Selfless’ paints a world where angst, melancholy and anger form a relentlessly entrancing union. No other album has moved me quite like this one. Every song is a standout track and 24-minute closer ‘Go Spread Your Wings’ is the perfect send off for a perfect record.”

Mr. Bungle “Disco Volante” (1995)

Most people mention Mr. Bungle’s debut album as their favourite. For me, ‘Disco Volante’ is their unbeatable masterpiece. It’s an obtuse, schizophrenic and noisy monster performed by a band of virtuosos. Not exactly the kind of record you grasp upon two or three listens, especially when it starts off with the freeform, anti-melodic ‘Everyone I Went to High School With Is Dead’. But the best albums are often those that challenge the listener, requiring patience and persistence. From the epic, multipart ‘The Bends’ to the cinematic ‘Desert Search for Techno Allah’ and the weirdly entrancing ‘Ma Meeshka Mow Skwoz’, the ‘Disco Volante’ wild rollercoaster ride is a musical UFO. Only a vocalist as masterful as Mike Patton could handle such insanity, and he does so brilliantly of course. My absolute favourite song on the record is ‘Carry Stress in the Jaw’, which marries jazz, death/thrash metal and noise in a way that has never been done before or since. Mandatory.”

Fredrik Thordendal’s Special Defects “Sol Niger Within” (1997)

“Speaking of alien, you are truly missing out if you have yet to be swallowed up by the black hole that is ‘Sol Niger Within’. A whirlwind of mind-bending rhythms, pitch-black atmospheres and some of the most poignant guitar – and sax! – leads known to humanity, this 45-minute interstellar plunge will tear your insides out while screaming straight into your brain – and you’ll love every second of it. If anyone still needs proof that Fredrik Thordendal is a mad genius, look no further. As for what monster drummer Morgan Ågren accomplishes here, I simply have no words. I can’t imagine ever getting tired of hearing this album. Turn off your thinking brain and explore the universe of ‘Sol Niger Within’.”

Thorns “Thorns” (2001)

“The influence of Snorre Ruch’s early demos on the Norwegian black metal scene is well documented. It took quite a few years for Snorre’s project Thorns to finally release a full-length album – and was it ever worth the wait! Thorns exists on a plain all of its own. Dissonant chords and relentless drumming courtesy of Hellhammer blend with industrial soundscapes evoking images of humanity escaping a dying Earth. Entrancing vocal performances by Satyr Wongraven (Satyricon) and Aldrahn (Dødheimsgard) complete this milestone. In my humble opinion, ‘Thorns’ is one of the most important black metal albums ever made.”

Rotten Sound “Murderworks” (2002)

“’Murderworks’ is 29 minutes of essential grindcore right up there with Scum, Horrified, World Downfall, Symphonies of Sickness and Inhale/Exhale. Rotten Sound have always been insanely intense, but they really fire on all cylinders here. Kai Hahto’s creative cymbal work and inventive blasting inspire me to this day. Just listen to 45-second blast fest ‘Void’ for proof. Very few records can beat the perfect sequencing of ‘Murderworks’; even when you don’t think it can, this album still gets more brutal. Anyone into extreme music needs to own this.”

Dodecahedron “Dodecahedron” (2012)

“In recent years, few bands have enthused me as much as Dutch quintet Dodecahedron. This band pushed black metal into uncharted territory with uniquely dissonant harmonies setting the foundation for complex yet flowing song structures. Their music is of a very high technical level. Drummer Jasper Barendregt blends blastbeats and polyrhythms with jazz influences in a tasteful and seemingly effortless matter, while the guitar work of Michel Nienhuis and Joris Bonis appears to break new ground at every turn. This is the kind of record that overwhelms you at first; but persistence pays off because its true genius unfolds as you start to wrap your brain around it. Dodecahedron unfortunately ceased to exist after the tragic death of vocalist Michiel Eikenaar in April 2019. Luckily the band gave us two masterful albums – this one and 2017’s ‘Kwintessens’ – which will forever be among my favourites. And their new endeavour Autarkh is certainly worth delving into as well.”

www.dirkverbeuren.com

www.facebook.com/dirkverbeurendrummer

www.megadeth.com

www.facebook.com/megadeth

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 52: Kitty Saric

Kitty Saric of Decadence Sweden. Photo: Caroline Kühne

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Kitty Saric, aka Metallic Kitty, fronts Swedish thrash metal band Decadence. The vocalist formed Decadence in Stockholm in 2003 together with guitarist Kenneth Lantz. Its most recent release was the fab “Six Tape” album in 2019. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson talked with Kitty about what five albums made her want to thrash like a maniac.

Metallica “…And Justice for All” (1988)

“Like many others, I was introduced to metal by Metallica. When I heard the song ‘Master of Puppets’ for the first time, I was blown away. As a matter of fact, it still blows me away. It was the song that made me start playing guitar and the rest is my band history. But, if I was to pick one Metallica album, I’d say ‘…And Justice for All’. For me, it has all the elements that I love about thrash and metal as a whole. The legendary ‘Damaged Justice Tour’ show in Seattle 1989 gets me an adrenalin rush ever since and I often pump myself up before our own shows with it. James Hetfield was in his prime and it keeps inspiring me to this day.”

Death “The Sound of Perseverance” (1998)

I thought that I would always stick to thrash because I could not see anything else that would give me that energy. But then came death into my life. For me, Chuck Schuldiner is the greatest. He keeps inspiring me over and over and is the reason for me entering the extreme vocal business. When I heard ‘The Sound of Perseverance’ for the first time, especially the song ‘Spirit Crusher’ and the first words ‘It comes from the depth of a place unknown to the keeper of dreams’, I knew where I was headed with music. The melodies mixed with vicious riffs is the ultimate combination for me.”

Testament “The Gathering” (1999)

“Thrash is closest to my heart and when I heard Chuck Billy’s brutal voice for the first time it fully caught my attention. I thought Metallica was it, but Testament had very much to offer and a whole new kind of energy. ‘The Gathering’ is the album that’s stuck in my mind since the early days and is still what pumps me up during my workouts every day. Testament is pure fire and they keep delivering album after album with that same burning energy. I also like how they are kind of underdogs and still fight their way up to the top. It’s truly inspiring especially for an Independent band like my own.”

Vader “Revelations” (2002)

“When I saw Vader live for the first time on their tour for ‘Revelations’, I was stunned. There is such a force in this band, it felt like the music passed through my body when they started blasting. Piotr Wiwczarek’s vocals were the most brutal I had ever heard, especially on the song ‘The Nomad’ and I’m very glad I got to experience Doc behind the drums before his passing shortly thereafter. This band is what made me dig deeper into death metal.”

Children of Bodom “Follow the Reaper” (2000)

“There’s something about amazing melodies in heavy music combined with an absolutely vicious vocalist and a god of a guitar player, that is Alexi Laiho. That’s why this band became special to me and made me want to discover melodic death metal. The album ‘Follow the Reaper’ was the start of it. Actually, the first song I heard was ‘Children of Decadence’ that I listened to over and over. It also contained the word that became my band’s name three years after.”

www.facebook.com/decadencesweden

www.decadence.se

www.facebook.com/kittysaric

www.youtube.com/user/themetallickitty

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 51: Kris Gustofson

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Kris Gustofson is the drummer for Bay Area thrash metal band Trauma. Trauma’s first era took place during the early 1980s when they released the splendid debut album “Scratch and Scream”. The band, which briefly featured future Metallica bassist Cliff Burton, reunited in 2013. Its current bassist is the former Testament member Greg Christian. Since the reunion, Trauma has released two albums, “Rapture and Wrath” and “As the World Dies”. Original singer Donny Hillier died in 2020 and the band is now regrouping and working on a new album. Kris Gustofson was also the drummer for St. Elmo’s Fire and is the son of jazz drummer Gus Gustofson. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Kris to find out about the five albums that changed his life.

Montrose “Montrose” (1973)

“I love this album. The way it was recorded and sounds. I would practice playing my drums to this record, songs like ‘Rock Candy’, ‘Bad Motor Scooter’, ‘Space Station #5’. The musicianship to this day is stellar! Sammy Hagar vocals, Ronnie Montrose guitars, Bill Church bass, Denny Carmassi drums. Ted Templeman produced this. I sat listening to this album over and over again. I believe I played it so much, I wore the LP out and went and got another. Songwriting is great. I really liked the drum intro to ‘Rock Candy’. I would try and get my drums to sound as close as possible to the record, which i couldn’t do, I was a kid and had no dollars. I also didn’t have the 26″ bass drum, 15″ rack tom and two big ol’ fatty floor toms to get that sound. That intro on ‘Rock Candy’ has become an iconic drum intro. Very simple, but the groove, sound and feel Denny did on that was brilliant. First time I heard this album I was floored. To hear another four-piece band that had a huge fat sound similar to Zeppelin was stunning. I still listen to this album once in a while even today. It reminds me of a different time when a band could go in and sound so raw and just nail it.”

Led Zeppelin “The Song Remains the Same” (1976)

“Talk about being kicked in the teeth! Went to the midnight movies with about 15 friends for two movies. The first movie was The Jimi Hendrix Experience, which I really love. The Zeppelin movie played next. What an eye-opening experience that was. I went and bought the double live album the next day. I’m not going to go into detail here. Anybody who has seen this movie and listened to what this band was capable of doing live knows. This band was incredible. I was hooked. Huge influence on me. Actually, all of their albums are a huge influence on me. I loved the way Bonham played, from the heart. I saved every dollar I could to get a set of big drums, 26″ kick drum, etc. I still have them to this day. I still listen to Zeppelin when taking road trips. I still get influenced by their music. Seems that i always find something new within the structure of the compositions that I hadn’t heard before. Each album a timeless masterpiece!”

Black Sabbath “Paranoid” (1970)

“OMG… For me, this was the gateway for what I wanted to do. From the first listen to ‘War Pigs’, ‘Iron Man’, ‘Hand of Doom’, ‘Fairies Wear Boots’. Simply blown away… The riffs, the time signature changes, tempo changes, everything. It was an ear bender. I can remember my mother asking me ‘What the hell are you listening to?’ since she listened to big band music – Count Basie, Sinatra – which I really got into as well since my father was a big band drummer. Sabbath was lethal, especially when played at a nice loud volume! All of Sabbath’s albums are great! Heavily inspired, influenced by this band. The Dio years were awesome as well. I loved ‘Heaven and Hell’, the sound of these records and ‘Paranoid’ were recorded masterfully. The riffage between Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler and then the thundering of Bill Ward or Vinnie Appice, could blow the roof off! Sheer raw power.”

Miles Davis “Bitches Brew” (1970)

“I started listening to Billy Cobham, Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones and many other jazz/fusion players. A very interesting album indeed. All improvised by some of the best of the best players. Knocked me out listening to this album and influenced me to think in different musical ways in my approach to music. I love this album! I recommend this album to anyone who wants to be a serious player. There is so much to learn here it is incredible. The album was done in three separate sessions which is really cool. I listen to this album still to get inspired when in a slump. The musicianship will never be duplicated. Outstanding body of work here!”

Jeff Beck “Blow by Blow” (1975)

“I remember when a friend spun this album for me for the first time and put on ‘Freeway Jam’. I thought, ‘This is so bad ass!’ I went and bought a copy the next day and began a full study of what this was about. Jeff Beck is one of the best. All songs on this album had a heavy influence on me as a player. I thought to myself that If I could play any of these songs with the groove and feel that this record had, I felt I was doing something right. Drummer Richard Bailey is simply brilliant on this album, his stick work and brush work on ‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers’ is superb. I am heavily influenced by this album as many other musicians were over the years were. This album made me really think about exploring different types of music. I highly recommend giving this one a listen. One of the all-time best! The musicians on this album are stellar! This one was a game changer for me as a musician.”

www.facebook.com/traumathrash

www.traumametal.com

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 50: Randy Black

Randy Black of Destruction on stage in Tokyo in 2018. Photo: Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Canadian-born and Germany-based drummer Randy Black is the anchor of the rhythm section in German thrash metal band Destruction. For many years, he was the drummer for German power metal band Primal Fear. He has also played with Canadian thrash metal band Annihilator (it was during his stint in that band he got the nickname “The Human Drum Machine” because of his technical precision) and been a live drummer for American heavy metal band W.A.S.P. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson caught up with Randy to find out what five albums shaped him.

The Who “Who’s Next” (1971)

“They were one of my first favourite rock bands. I loved the energy the band produced and the drummer Keith Moon was a big early inspiration! Every song on this album is great, no fillers!”

Rush “2112” (1976)

“First time listening to the album was on a turntable in the dark with headphones on. I’d never heard anything like it, the whole band, especially the drummer Neil Peart, blew me away!”

Rush “Moving Pictures” (1981)

“To me this album was their peak, every song is a master piece! It was shortly after it was released that I joined the Rush cover band Click that was considered to be one of the best cover bands in Canada at the time.”

Annihilator “King of the Kill” (1994)

“This was the first internationally released album I played drums on. It kickstarted my career as a heavy metal drummer! Funny footnote, I got the gig in Annihilator because the guys in the band at the time were fans of the Rush cover band I was in! To be very honest, when asked if I wanted to audition for the gig, I didn’t know who Annihilator was nor had I ever played that kind of music!”

Loreena McKennitt “The Book of Secrets” (1997)

“I first heard this album on the flight I took when relocating to Berlin, Germany in 1998. It was so different to anything I had been listening to and I loved it right away! I’ve since seen her three times live and one of those times ranks in the top five live shows I’ve ever seen!”

Randy Black – Artist Page | Facebook

www.facebook.com/destruction

www.destruction.de

Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 49: Zinny Zan

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

Swedish musician and vocalist Zinny Zan made a name for himself fronting glam rock and hard rock bands Easy Action, Shotgun Messiah and Zan Clan. He’s currently in the studio working on a new Zinny Zan album. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson checked in with Zinny to find out what five records made him turn on, tune in and rock out.

Deep Purple “Made in Japan” (1972)

“This album really gave me a kickstart into the life of music and as a musician. I was eight years old when this album came out and this was like a eureka moment to me. To hear these songs and in a live environment with the audience. It just made me vow to myself that I one day should be a professional musician! This album has great songs, tons of adrenaline and a musicianship almost unreal. Add the playfulness in songs like ‘Strange Kind of Woman’ and well there you got it! This album just shouted at me! I want to be a musician and play live and be great at my instrument. Some people think I got my screaming voice from Brian Johnson of AC/DC. Wrong! I first heard that screaming voice on this very album. Listen to Ian Gillan in ‘Strange Kind of Woman’ and you’ll understand.”

Sweet “Sweet Fanny Adams” (1974)

“I loved Sweet since their singles ‘Block Buster!’, ‘Hell Raiser’, ’The Ballroom Blitz’, etc. and now here it was, the first album since these singles. And what an album it is! The production on this album by Phil Wainman is unreal! The sound is amazing and the effects are sounds I then never heard before and, I must say, in many ways never heard after either. This album shows the band members’ own ability to write songs instead of the usual Chinn/Chapman songs they recorded before this album. I have to mention the great clothes and image plus the crazy great vocal parts from Brian, Steve and Andy. Only Queen could match that!”

Sex Pistols “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols” (1977)

“This album literally changed my life! I went from a glitter glam guy – like a The Sweet, David Bowie, Slade, KISS and Alice Cooper guy – to a punk rocker! The attitude, the adrenaline, the riffs, the way that Johnny Rotten seemed to spit out every word he was singing and the way the rest of the band seemed to hammer out every note out of their poor instruments was like nothing I ever heard before. This also convinced me that I didn’t need to be a virtuoso like Ian Gillan on vocals or Ian Paice on drums. I could actually start a band and play before being as magic as Deep Purple. And that was exactly what I did. People that are familiar with my bands and albums know they can see a common thread of glam, heavy rock and punk in everything I have done. This album was also very important to give rock a fresh bath and to start something new just like grunge was needed 13 years later to wash away people like myself and get something new onto the rock scene.”

The Clash “London Calling” (1979)

“This album is just fantastic! I love the album due to its lack of musical barriers! Here you have great rock songs, pop songs, reggae songs and everything in between and you can hear a band at its absolute peak and the joy they feel by playing is heard in every note and beat! It shows a punk band coming out with a wide-open mind and just willing to be inspired by everything they see along their tours around the world. Every song tells a story taken from their reality.”

Guns N’ Roses “Appetite for Destruction” (1987)

“Being a teenager in the 70s, I had the opportunity to hear all these great rock bands like Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and later the Sex Pistols. Then I became a recording artist myself and I thought that I had seen the heydays of rock’n’roll since then came bands like Duran Duran, Simple Minds and a lot of boring AOR bands, etc. But, hey, was I wrong! Once again, proof that you can’t kill rock’n’roll! This album is for real! It oozes attitude, frustration, anger and a lot of ‘fuck you’ and ‘get out of my way’ attitude! A perfect beast built on the swag of the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith and the fuck-you attitude of the Sex Pistols and others. I just loved when this album came out and it kicked some AOR rockers’ ass big time! GNR gave new blood in to rock’n’roll with this very album and the world once again got themselves some new rock’n’roll characters in Axl and Slash!”

“I have of course been swept away by music after 1987 and also by other kind of bands like for example Fleetwood Mac. But since we are now talking music that changed my life, I guess it’s natural that you as a young fresh and hungry kid who loves rock gets really swept away and can be inspired and formed a lot easier than as an adult.”

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Five Records That Changed My Life, Part 48: Micky Crystal

By Stefan Nilsson, Roppongi Rocks

British guitarist Micky Crystal has been the lead guitarist for NWOBHM veterans Tygers of Pan Tang and has also played with Marco Mendoza and Bumblefoot. Roppongi Rocks’ Stefan Nilsson asked Micky what five albums rocked his world.

Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, Paco de Lucia “Friday Night in San Francisco” (1981)

“I was introduced to this album by my dad when I was starting to take an interest in the guitar. I must have been about 13. I was stunned hearing this for the first time. I was hearing things that I didn’t think were possible on the guitar. I still listen to this album now and it still has the same impact as when I first heard it. You can hear the audience reaction throughout the record and there’s an aspect to it where you can hear that all three guitarists seem to be having lot of fun. Amazing and exciting album that I think all guitar players need to hear.”

Metallica “Master of Puppets” (1986)

“I bought this album on a total whim. It was my introduction to Metallica. I bought every album I could get hold of after hearing this but ‘Master of Puppets’ is my favourite Metallica album. I remember hearing the guitar harmony section in the track ‘Master of Puppets’ and thinking it was one of the most stunning things I’d heard. The opening acoustic guitars of ‘Battery’ through to the relentlessness of ‘Damage, Inc’. Front to back the album is a masterpiece in my opinion.”

Stevie Ray Vaughan “Texas Flood” (1983)

“Without a doubt my biggest guitar hero. I remember being floored by how much energy Stevie Ray played with. I bought ‘Texas Flood’ and studied that album front to back learning how to play that shuffle rhythm of ‘Pride and Joy’ through to learning jazz chords on tracks like ‘Lenny’ and of course the blues with tracks like ‘Texas Flood’. That album had such a huge impact on me as a player. Stevie played with such fire where every note meant something whether he was playing 1 or 100.”

Led Zeppelin “Led Zeppelin IV” (1971)

“When I first started playing the guitar, the blues was what interested me playing wise but I’d listened to a lot of rock and metal prior to playing. Led Zeppelin were that perfect mix of blues and rock. Tracks like ‘Black Dog’ had a huge impact on me. I used to jam on ‘Rock and Roll’ all of the time too. It might be cliché but I have to mention THAT solo… ‘Stairway to Heaven’ is one of my favourite guitar solos of all time. Every note is perfect.”

Mr. Big “Lean Into It” (1991)

“I first heard Mr. Big when I was about 16 or 17 and I loved how they fused incredible technique and chops with great songs. Every song on that album is amazing, I have a real soft spot for the track ‘Road to Ruin’. That vocal harmony intro and then bam straight into that Purple-ish groove, so cool! I have to mention “Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy (The Electric Drill Song)” too as that was one of the first tracks I heard by them and I spent so much time jamming on that song.”

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