My frustration with learning guitar

I never picked up a guitar until a couple of months ago. I bought a nice Takamine acoustic and my father-in-law, who is a very good guitar player, taught me some chords. When he’s there, I can do them. When I practice alone, I have major trouble. My father-in-law and I work different schedules so we get to sit down and play maybe once a week.

So I practice when I can, that means when my kids aren’t around. Sometimes I get an hour in, sometimes two, every day…..I’m trying. I really want to play and I want to learn but it’s just not coming. I pick things up very easily, I learn and retain quickly. but learning to play guitar has been a struggle, I can’t get my fingers positioned properly. I admit to being a little intimidated as well.

I’m sure someone out there plays a mean guitar…..any tips for a beginner?

KISS Fragrance

KISS Fragrance

KISS Fragrance for men and women……..why?

Here’s the official news from KISSonline:

Over the next few weeks KISSONLINE will bring you new KISS Fragrance product photos and info on various promotions that will celebrate the release of the KISS Fragrance line! Pictured here are the women’s and men’s KISS fragrance bottles. The countdown begins! Only 20 days left until KISS Fragrances are rockin’ the following retailers: BELK, BOSCOVS, DILLARDS, GOTTCHALKS, PARISIANS, ULTA and VIRGIN MEGA STORES (Selective Sizes). Visit each store for different promotional events and public appearances by GENE SIMMONS!

Again I ask………why? Will this actually sell? Is it necessary? Shouldn’t the priority be a new album, getting Ace back, or maybe some vintage KISS audio or video?

If it wasn’t for Paul’s new album dropping soon, I’d be really pissed!

New Release Tuesday – 8/22/06

Some major new releases have come out between last Tuesday (8/15) and today and I’ve been forced to hold off buying them for fear someone already bought them for my birthday.

Never happened, no CDs this year…..but plenty of gift cards to Newbury Comics (local shop)!

Armed with a gift card and some loose cash, I packed the kids in the car and headed of to the shop to buy 2 things: the new Iron Maiden single and Mastodon – Leviathan.

Did I get them? No…..they only got 1 copy of the Maiden single and they were out of Mastodon.

Two notable releases of the last week were still on sale:

  • Slayer – Christ Illusion – $12
  • Lamb Of God – Sacrament – $10

…..but I passed and I’m still kicking myself. Here’s what I snagged:

  1. The SwordAge Of Winters ($13): I’ve read glowing reviews in print and online so I took the plunge.
  2. .38 SpecialTour De Force ($4 used): Needed this to complete the .38 Special collection. Used to have a dubbed copy back in the day.
  3. Alice CooperKiller, Love It To Death, and School’s Out ($8 each): Filling major holes in the Alice collection…..8 bucks for new sealed discs ain’t bad.
  4. Rainbow Live In Munich 1977 DVD ($12)

I almost pulled the trigger on the four Motorhead remasters I still need and that special edition Queen – A Night At The Opera keeps calling my name. The Sword has been on the list to buy since I read their review in Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the most anticipated purchase that was also released today:

Madden 07 (for Playstation 2) ($50) – Football is year round for me but the season always officially starts for me when I fire up the new Madden. My kids usually get me the new version for my birthday but, this year, it came out a week late (my birthday was the 16th).

Where Are You? Vinnie Vincent

I just got through watching the video for ‘Love Kills’ by the Vinnie Vincent Invasion on VH-1 Classic, that is a damn good song!

I am one of those KISS fans that appreciate Vinnie Vincent. I take a lot of crap for that because many KISS fans believe the propaganda from Mr. Simmons and Mr. Stanley that Vinnie was a greedy egomaniac. While the truth will never truly be told about what went on behind the scenes in KISS with him on lead guitar, I maintain that Vinnie Vincent was vital to KISS’ resurgence in the early ’80s.

The guy can write good songs, bottom line. Take a look at the credits for Creatures Of The Night and Lick It Up, Vinnie co-wrote on some of the best songs on each album. Vinnie also shreds with the best of them. I don’t prefer the “frenzied finger attack” that shredders use but Vinnie Vincent was able to play ballsy and simple as much as he played over-the-top. The guy comes up with some truly unique leads and solos. Take a listen to the first Vinnie Vincent Invasion album to see what I mean. The follow-up, All Systems Go, is even better, one of the most underrated albums from the late ’80s.

So where is he? Where is Vinnie Vincent?

I have no idea, he has been out of the spotlight since 1989. Vinnie did show up briefly when he sued Gene and Paul for unpaid KISS royalties and he was also in the news when his wife was reported missing and, unfortunately, found murdered. On a more positive note, Vinnie did co-write a few songs with Gene Simmons on KISS’ 1992 comeback album, Revenge. (NOTE: If Vinnie is such a band pariah, why did Gene & Paul bring the guy in to write for a new KISS album, one that showcased a stronger and harder KISS).

If anyone has any further info, I’d appreciate it. In the meantime, head to the Pyromessiah website and check it out.

Beyond Fear (featuring Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens) – s/t (2006)

Beyond Fear

Beyond Fear – s/t (2006, SPV)

  1. Scream Machine
  2. And… You Will Die
  3. Save Me
  4. The Human Race
  5. Coming At You
  6. Dreams Come True
  7. Telling Lies
  8. I Don’t Need This
  9. Words Of Wisdom
  10. My Last Words
  11. Your Time Has Come
  12. The Faith

Total Time – 47:21

Band Lineup:
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – vocals
Dennis Hayes – Bass
Dwayne Bihary – Rhythm Guitar
Eric Elkins – Drums
John Comprix – Rhythm & Lead Guitar

Tim Owens’ official website

Tim Owens is a premier Metal vocalist. I have all of his albums to date from Winters Bane to Judas Priest to Iced Earth to now. The man’s voice is excellent on record and I’ve witnessed him live fronting the mighty Judas Priest, superb performances every time. At times, Owens is a dead ringer for Priest mainman Rob Halford but then there are the performances when Owens sheds his Halford stylings and crosses them with his own blend of aggression and power. He can sing, bottom line.

Beyond Fear is The Ripper’s best work to date. Take Winters Bane out of the equation and he has been saddled with mediocre songwriting (see Demolition, The Glorious Burden) and the unfortunate task of following premier frontmen (Rob Halford, Matt Barlow). Beyond Fear is Owens’ band, not someone else’s, for once he is not in someone’s shadow. All songs are wriitten by Tim Owens, half in collaboration with guitarist John Comprix. Each song is heavy and well-written, better than anything on Demolition or The Glorious Burden. The band pummels you track by track with basic in-your-face Heavy Metal. It’s straight forward and it works, proving that good bands don’t need to be over dramatic and epic to compete in today’s Metal market.

Favorite tracks on this disc: Scream Machine, Save Me, Dreams Come True

Seriously, every song on this debut is very good. I’ve lived with this album since early May when it was released, I’ve listened to it almost every day and I haven’t grown tired of it. I admit to being skeptical because of the last couple of albums that Tim sang on: the writing was bad and he wasn’t truly part of the process. With his hands firmly entrenched in this new project, Tim Owens has brought some thing fresh to the current Metal scene while retaining a classic feel. I can’t wait for album #2.

My annual Alice Cooper show is coming!

Almost every year, Alice Cooper tours the U.S. When he comes to New England (RI, MA, or CT) he either plays the Orpheum Theatre in Boston, MA or he plays at Foxwoods Casino in CT. The catch is that he comes at Halloween.

I have had the pleasure of seeing Alice 5 times, 3 shows on Halloween night. Alice puts on an awesome show but he adds that extra punch to his Halloween performances. Foxwoods just announced Alice on Halloween…..I’ll be there!

More info on Paul Stanley – Live To Win and possible tour

From Bravewords:

According to, New Door Records/Universal Musical Enterprises have announced the October 24th release of Live To Win, the solo release from iconic KISS frontman PAUL STANLEY. has issued the following update:

Stripping all the legendary bombast away, what becomes starkly clear is that besides rocking relentlessly, the power of human emotion and conviction on Live To Win can rattle not only the walls, but also touch the heart and soul of the listener. “What I wanted to do on this album was sing about my life because my life is not that different than anybody else’s,” he continues. “The truth is, what we all deal with in life is pretty similar. You change the names and the story’s the same.”

“This album is purely a labor of love,” says Stanley. “It is a labor of passion, and something where I was concerned with turning out the album I heard in my head, without regard for having glitz and star power from other sources. It was purely about making the album I wanted to make.” While the heartfelt ‘Loving You Without You Now’ was written without any outside collaboration, the remainder of the album reunites him with former KISS songwriting partners Desmond Child (AEROSMITH, LEEANN RIMES) and Holly Knight (TINA TURNER, PAT BENATAR), and introduces new collaborators including Andreas Carlsson (BON JOVI, BRITNEY SPEARS), John 5 (ROB ZOMBIE, MARILYN MANSON) and Marti Frederiksen (Aerosmith, Faith Hill). Seven of the ten tracks were co-written with Child and/or Carlsson, with Stanley and Child joined by John 5 on ‘Where Angels Dare’ and Frederiksen on ‘Lift’, and Knight teaming with the frontman on ‘It’s Not Me’.

Live to Win is self-produced by Stanley, who provides lead vocals, guitar and percussion alongside a studio core of guitarist Corky James (AVRIL LAVIGNE, THE MATRIX), drummer Victor Indrizzo (BECK, MACY GRAY) and keyboardist Harry Sommerdahl (CARRIE UNDERWOOD, LINDSAY LOHAN). Also performing on the album are former KISS bandmate BRUCE KULICK and guitarist John 5.

“I’ve always believed that when you give somebody an album, it should be like a fresh newspaper, where you get ink on your fingers and it’s today’s news,” says Stanley, who wrote and co-wrote the ten tracks on Live to Win specifically for the new release. “For me, this album is where I’m at now — This is where things are in my life, and my perspective on my music.

Stanley is planning a North American club tour to coincide with the release of the album.

As reported by, the tracklisting for Live To Win is as follows:

‘Live To Win’ (Paul Stanley/Desmond Child/Andreas Carlsson) – 3:07
‘Lift’ (Paul Stanley/Desmond Child/Marti Frederiksen) – 4:01
‘Wake Up Screaming’ (Paul Stanley/Desmond Child/Andreas Carlsson) – 3:00
‘Everytime I See You Around’ (Paul Stanley/Pete Masitti) – 3:28
‘Bulletproof’ (Paul Stanley/Andreas Carlsson) – 3:01
‘All About You’ (Paul Stanley/Andreas Carlsson/Desmond Child) – 3:16
‘Second To None’ (Paul Stanley/Andreas Carlsson) – 3:35
‘It’s Not Me’ (Paul Stanley/Holly Knight/Charlie Midnight) – 3:19
‘Loving You Without You Now’ (Paul Stanley) – 3:16
‘Where Angels Dare’ (Paul Stanley/Desmond Child/John 5) – 3:22


From Bravewords: report that GENE SIMMONS called into the Dawn Patrol morning show on 102.7 WEBN in Cincinnati last Friday morning to discuss Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels, the KISS Coffeehouse, his new book, the Indy Racing League, and the upcoming KISS six-hour DVD box set. Gene mentioned the six hour KISS DVD box set will feature footage from as far back as 1972.

As a diehard KISS fan, this is great news. I am not a collector like some KISS fans, there are some out there that have traded, and acquired, rare vintage KISS footage for years. For the diehard who is not into trading, an official DVD collection of vintage footage is a must have.

KISS have recorded thousands of shows over the years on audio and video. Why haven’t offically released CDs and DVDs of these concerts? Diehard fans would eat it up, especially if they were to do a limited number and then stop pressing. 

In the last couple of years, Gene Simmons has stopped vendors at KISS conventions from selling bootleg audio and video. He has the name “KISSVision” trademarked and I have read stories that he owns an actual pressing plant. If he does in fact own a pressing plant, then Gene is able to do everything in house and make a ton of moolah for himself and Paul aside from touring.

Maybe this is something he is trying to coordinate, maybe it is something he will explore when the band does finally pack it in. Gene and Paul are sitting on a wealth of footage, they should start releasing it if they aren’t going to create something new.

— Steve 

Taking a step back… listen

I don’t drink, smoke, get high or gamble. Sounds like a boring life to some people. But everyone has a vice, everyone has that one thing that they absolutely have to do to maintain a happy life. My vice is collecting music.

I’ve been a Rock/Metal fan since I got my first KISS cassette when I was 5. A few years later, at about 9, I started collecting music. I started with cassettes, and a few vinyl, and moved on to CDs. Right now, my collection stands at around 2500 CDs. I’m not really even sure if that’s correct, it may be more. Everything I had on other formats, I’ve been able to replace with CDs. Collecting is the one thing I do but it becomes obsessive.

I probably spend around $40 a week on music. I used to blow $50-$75 (or more) before my wife and I had kids. I’m lucky to have a job that pays well so I can afford to buy CDs after the family, home, and bills are taken care of. I try to spend that money wisely, squeezing every penny to get as many CDs as possible. I still get a thrill when I buy a new album by one of my favorite bands, or when I uncover that elusive album in a bargain bin in the back of a hole-in-the-wall record store. I get the rush when I’m watching a CD on Ebay and I place my bid with 10 seconds to go…..sniping the CD from the high bidder who thought they were the lucky winner (yeah, I’m THAT guy!).

I unwrap each one, check for imperfections if it’s used, and list it on my cataloging software (Collectorz). I then re-order the growing pile of discs at my desk so the new albums don’t get lost in the shuffle. They end up getting lost anyway because I then prioritize the next ones I acquire and so on.

I do research. I look up bands online and make want lists. I try and complete full discographies so I can listen one right after the other and dive into a band. I like to hear the band progress, or regress, with each release. I like to hear the differences from the first album that debuted in the early ’80s to the latest offering. I do this with bands I missed back in the day, I do it now for newer bands. I read band histories/biographies, check out their websites and CD availability.

Ebay is always open so I can gauge the market. I belong to many collector’s groups, mailing lists, and message boards. I suck up as much information I can. I discuss, review, and analyze bands/albums.

After all this, what is the one thing I sometimes forget to do? I forget to listen to the music! Actually, I listen to music most of the day. Overnight at work, I get to listen to at least 6 hours of CDs from my collection. When I get home in the AM, I listen to some sportstalk radio and then I listen to CDs until my everyone comes home from either school or work.

So how do I forget to listen? I think it’s more a factor of paying closer attention to what’s playing. When I was a kid, I sat in front of the stereo glued to every word, every solo. There were no video games to distract me (the stereo and TV were in separate rooms), no Internet to surf, no work to do or car to drive. All I had to do was listen.

Wednesday is my birthday and I will turn 34. I already know that I am getting MANY gift cards to the independent CD chain in my area, Newbury Comics. I will probably come away with a few hundred dollars in gift cards to blow, which I usually do a few days later in one major shopping spree. This adds to my collection but also adds to the pile, and that adds to the ever increasing sense that I’m not listening close enough. I’m buying for quantity, for the sake of collecting. It’s a vicious cycle.

So I have resolved to stop and listen, to take more time with each band and album. Maybe cut down a little of the buying? Maybe I won’t buy that extra album when I already have 6 in my hand! I’ll give that CD one extra spin to decide whether it’s one I’ll return again or one I’ll file away and probably never play it again.

I started this past weekend: I gave the new Sammy Hagar, Riot, MSG and Metal Church more attentive listens. I’ve found some good in albums I thought were average or bad (Metal Church) and I’ve found more good in albums I thought were excellent from the first listen (MSG). I’ve decided that the new Sammy Hagar is a disappointment and the Riot I’m still going through.

Does anyone else go though all this? Or have those thousands of silver discs altered my reality?

Press Release: Krokus – Hellraiser (new album due on AFM Records)

From the official Krokus website:

Krokus will rock the world with Hellraiser! Fall will be hot in 2006: the world can look forward to the new, long-awaited Krokus-album Hellraiser, which will satisfy with a great varity of excellent rock, blues and groove songs in the band’s typical vein.

Release dates are as follows:

Switzerland and Germany: September 15th
Rest of Europe: September 18th (rest of Europe: Austria, BeNeLux, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slowenia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey

Australia: September 18th
Israel: September 18th
Russia (including Baltic Territories): October 23rd

South America: October 23rd
North America: October 24th

Asia (includes Japan, Korea, China and Thailand): October 24th

Krokus just signed a new worldwide deal with AFM Records (Germany) so they may actually get some support in the U.S.

Krokus is one of my favorite under-rated bands so i will have this on Sept. 15th, there’s no way I can wait 6 extra weeks for the U.S. release.

—– Steve