With the news that a 20th anniversary reissue of Nirvana‘s In Utero is due on 23 September 2013, featuring over 70 “remastered, remixed, rare, unreleased, and live recordings”, we thought it was a good time to delve into the world of the grunge overlords and, in particular, Nirvana’s iconic frontman, Kurt Cobain. Despite still appearing on the t-shirts of many people who don’t actually own a Nirvana album, not everybody loves them.
Cobain is not really that divisive a character, but who better to ask for an opinion on a rock star than Gavin “I ♥ Ronnie Radke” Lloyd? Nobody – once you read this, you will agree – but if you are a fan of Gavin’s last article, this one might surprise you somewhat…
Being one of the most talked about songs, cover designs, hidden tracks and bridges in all of rock, Nirvana’s Nevermind is re-issued this week. The format to look out for is the Super Deluxe with the original Butch Vig mix of the entire album, the unheard ‘The Boombox rehearsals’ and much more. Jon Kerr answers the burning questions…
After explaining just why Paramore’s Hayley Williams is ace, the next installment of Hell’s Belles sees Emma Edmondson pondering the disappearance of one of the staples of a rock show’s backstage: the groupie.
Sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. It’s an age-old sought after dream more weathered and decrepid than Jordan’s shrinking silicone tits. Boys in bands crave it. Girls after the boys in bands follow it. But only some truly live it. And now it seems that those few are fast becoming even fewer.
Make no doubt about it – the calibre of true rockin’ and rollin’ gals, or band aids as they’re affectionately labelled in iconic groupie flick Almost Famous, are withering faster than your, or your boyfriend’s, cock might do when thinking of Margaret Thatcher in a thong. Just imagine.
So where have all the real groupies gone? The sixties had Pamela Des Barres and her pals. A self-confessed serial rock star shagger, who even babysat Frank Zappa’s sprogs, she made a career, and found fame, by riding some of the most famous penises in rock history.
Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page, Keith Moon and Jim Morrison all sampled her lower loins. Hell, Ms Des Barres released an album due to her loose legs and even documented her bed hopping ways in a best selling book. That’s big dividends for little work. She wasn’t the last though.
Watch an interview with Pamela Des Barres
The seventies meant punk. And punk is Siouxsie Sioux. Now a recording artist in her own, albeit terrible, right Sioux avidly followed the Sex Pistols before cleverly taking advantage of the media coverage surrounding them and their followers to launch her own band Siouxsie and The Banshees“. And she’s still making money solo style today.
1980 onwards saw the onset of poodle permed cock rockers adopting groupies who were already celebutards. Heather Locklear and Pamela Anderson are just a couple who found true, yet fleeting, love with someone in that Mötley Crüe. And the band’s non-famous groupies were hardcore with a capital H. Don’t know why? Just read The Dirt and you’ll see.
The nineties had Courtney Love. Who, although not fully-fledged band humper as she was already a working musician, dabbled with the Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan before settling on the late legend who became her husband – Kurt Cobain.
But these music loving laydees seem to have been one offs as we’re now left with a bargain bin selection of groupie girls in the noughties. Most of them seem to have rather well known rock star daddies – and that certainly doesn’t play by the (unwritten) groupie girl book. No fair laydees.
Watch a clip of some groupies talking about being groupies
Let’s look at the options. Probably most infamous of the bunch is that Croydon born fabric-wearing matchstick – Kate Moss. Counting Pete Doherty and The Kills’ Jamie Hince in her long-term relationship history Mossy is the most clichéd of all wannabe groupies, being a supermodel and all.
Other half-mast modern day band fuckers include Paris Hilton who is dating Good Charlotte’s Benji Madden, and last, but not least, that thorn in the British public’s side Peaches Geldof. The fruity-named teen recently made front-page not so jaw-dropping news by shotgun marrying the guitarist from little known schminde band Chester French. Go girl. But he’s not the first of the notches on her band boy bedpost by far.
One thing’s certain – these fakers don’t have anything on their predecessors, especially not the sixties originals. Battling to meet their heroes rather than born into it Pamela Des Barres and co make the Geldof crew seem like a bunch of chastity belted Mozart-loving virgins.
Bring back the originals say I. For although they didn’t have morals they had loads of fun losing them. Plus they have plenty better stories to tell than the champagne swilling groupie pretenders who bought their way into a life some crawled through the gutter to get. And that deserves some kind of warped respect. Right?
Widely regarded as the founding fathers of the death metal genre, Death’s classic album Symbolic was given a re-master and re-release. Joel McIver takes a look at exactly why they were, and still are, so very important.
The late musician and songwriter Chuck Schuldiner, who died in 2001 at the age of 33, is hardly a household name among fans of mainstream music. The figures of other prematurely-departed icons such as Kurt Cobain, Jeff Buckley, Jim Morrison and Elliott Smith loom much more prominently over most people’s musical landscapes.
But if extreme metal is your thing, Chuck stands tall among fallen heroes such as Cliff Burton and ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott as a man who pioneered, defined and then redefined some of the most powerful music ever made.
The catalogue of Schuldiner’s main band, Death, has been the subject of the occasional reissue over the years, most notably an entire reprint run in 1999 courtesy of Century Media and a brand-new version of one of their best albums, Symbolic, this month.
Reissues are often disappointingly barren, but the brushed-up Symbolic has been given the full treatment by its licensee, Roadrunner Records, adding bonus tracks, liner notes and new packaging to emphasise its importance in the death metal canon. Buy it – we recommend it highly.
The relevance of Symbolic today is more easily understood in the context of Death’s relatively brief history, and the near-vertical curve of evolution which Chuck and his band underwent in that time. In 1987, after recording a series of demos, Schuldiner recorded a debut album, Scream Bloody Gore, with drummer Chris Reifert (who went on to form the highly influential band Autopsy).
As its title implied, the songs were raw, graphic and violent: titles included ‘Zombie Ritual’, ‘Regurgitated Guts’ and ‘Sacrificial’, whose verse contained the establishment-unnerving reference to the ritual murder of a ‘sacrificial cunt’.
Watch the video to ‘Lack Of Comprehension’ by Death
However, this early flirtation with gore and slasher themes didn’t last, as Chuck evolved a more sophisticated lyrical and songwriting style, with the following year’s Leprosy a much more refined work.
Assisted by death metal producer extraordinaire Scott Burns, Schuldiner and band (a revolving cast of musicians) created an album which continued to address macabre subjects (‘Open Casket’) but also dealt with mature topics like euthanasia (on ‘Pull The Plug’, Chuck muses “I now behold a machine decides my fate”, with sad prescience).
1990’s Spiritual Healing changed all that, with Chuck’s first step into progressive metal. Helped out by the ubiquitous shredder James Murphy, the band crafted long, multilayered songs like ‘Defensive Personalities’ (which dealt with schizophrenia), ‘Genetic Reconstruction’ and ‘Living Monstrosity’ (both of which addressed with the idea of DNA manipulation).
Watch the video to ‘The Philosopher’ by Death
Spiritual Healing was the beginning of an experimental path which took Death to new heights of musicianship via 1991’s landmark Human, ’93’s Individual Thought Patterns, the aforementioned Symbolic in ’95 and a final statement in 1998’s The Sound Of Perseverance.
Of these, Symbolic is probably the most enduring, with its epic atmospherics and jazz, ambient and prog elements a huge influence on the current wave of progressive death metal spearheaded by Opeth and Meshuggah.
Although Chuck died from a brain tumour in his early thirties, depriving the metal and wider music scene of perhaps 30 more years of creative output, he left a considerable body of work – much of which is only now beginning to be appreciated.
If you haven’t explored Death’s music yet, the time to start is now. Chuck Schuldiner was truly one of a kind.
Symbolic by Death is out now on Roadrunner Records
If the mighty Foo Fighters were playing Wembley Stadium, Thrash Hits .com had to be there. Raziq Rauf reports from the biggest shows of this year and maybe even this century.
A decade ago I had a disagreement with a friend that Foo Fighters could ever be a bigger, better more successful band than Nirvana; one that more people would pay good money to go and see.
On Saturday night, 07 June 2008, Foo Fighters played what a roused, riled and emotional Dave Grohl said was “the greatest fucking night in [their] band’s lives”. Tens of thousands agreed that it was theirs as well.
The second of the international megastars’ appearances at 86,000-capacity Wembley Stadium saw an encore with a surprise appearance from some very, very special guests.
Jimmy Page and Jon Paul Jones, guitarist and bassist from the legendary Led Zeppelin came onstage to perform two songs with Grohl, who has a Led Zep tattoo, and drummer Taylor Hawkins. It was the first Led Zeppelin performance since their London O2 Arena show in December 2007.
Hawkins took to the microphone first to sing ‘Rock And Roll’ while Grohl drummed. The pair then switched places to perform ‘Ramble On’. However heavily it had been rumoured that this event would transpire, the crowd still reacted accordingly.
Watch the Foo Fighters perform ‘Rock And Roll’ with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones from Led Zeppelin
The band’s two-hour set included the band’s most famous singles as well as some lesser-known tracks, such as ‘Marigold’, the Grohl-penned B-side to Nirvana’s 1993 single ‘Heart-Shaped Box’. It was the only Nirvana-released song that Kurt Cobain had absolutely no part in writing.
Other set highlights included a magnificent acoustic version of ‘My Hero’ and fully-plugged in renditions of show opener ‘The Pretender’ and ‘Monkey Wrench’ as well as the last song of the night, ‘Best Of You’.
The fireworks that signaled the end of the evening were as much in the sky as they were in everyone’s hearts. Not every band can fill a stadium of this magnitude and make a success of it.
It turns out that I was completely wrong and owe that old friend a tenner. When the downside of that bet is seeing a fantastic Wembley Stadium headline show from one of the greatest rock bands of this and last generation, however, it’s not so bad.
‘Times Like These’
‘No Way Back’
‘Cheer Up Boys, Your Make Up Is Running’
‘Learn To Fly’
‘This Is A Call’
‘Long Road To Ruin’
‘Skin And Bones’
‘Cold Day In The Sun’
‘Let It Die’
‘All My Life’
‘Rock And Roll’
‘Best Of You’