Unplugged

Steve Earle - Ghosts Of West Virginia (2020)

On 5 April, 2010, in Raleigh County, West Virginia, leaking methane from a coal seam in one of Massey Energy’s mines, known as Upper Big Branch, caused a huge fire and then exploded, killing 29 miners. The company were found to have consistently breached safety procedures and the boss, Don Blankenship, was jailed as a result.  Some...

Bloomfield, Kooper, Stills - Super Session (1968)

Al Kooper had jammed with Moby Grape in early 1968 and it had been especially productive, so he decided to do more like the jazz musicians and rent a studio for a couple of days and record an album based on jams. But who were the best musicians Kooper knew? Basically he knew them all, as up to that moment he had played with Dylan, the Who, had been...

Steve Morse

3 minutes 50 seconds into a live performance of When a Blind Man Cries, following a marvelous Steve Morse solo, Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan walks across to Morse, smiles to himself, and gently puts an arm on his shoulder – because no words are necessary to show his admiration and affection for what the guitarist has just produced. Gillan...

Roger Waters - The Wall Live In Berlin (1990)

On 21 July, 1990, Roger Waters and numerous special guests gave a performance of The Wall in Berlin to commemorate the fall of the Wall eight months earlier. Here Guitars Exchange selects some highlights of that day, based exclusively on YouTube clips, to celebrate the 30th anniversary. First, however, it is worth noting some key background...

Allen Collins

Allen Collins' story is one of the saddest in rock & roll, of course the story of his band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, is not a bed of roses either. We have already talked about two of his companions here, Gary Rossington and Steve Gaines, of the first we said that he was surrounded by a strange smell of death and the second perished, along with his...

Neil Young - Homegrown (2020)

In 1975 Neil Young held a party for some friends, members of Crazy Horse and The Band among others, and played them two albums, the one he had just recorded, Homegrown, which dealt with issues from the separation from his wife, actress Carrie Snodgrass, among soft country rock aromas; and Tonight's The Night, the dark and powerful album he had...

New York Dolls - New York Dolls (1973)

The New York Dolls' first album is often considered a direct antecedent to punk, but this is pure rock & roll, a direct heir to Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley, an adrenaline rush that reminds us that the best thing about this music is its simplicity and ferocity. The New York Dolls were something like the Rolling Stones crossed with...

John Petrucci

Progressive rock was the outgrowth of psychedelic rock from the mid to late 60s, it was more of an instrumental and compositional approach to rock music developed in the studio rather than onstage, and toyed with the new technologies to discover or invent a whole new world of sounds. The genre revolves around fusing many styles like folk, jazz,...

Rose City Band - Summerlong (2020)

Grateful Dead will be the first two words that come to mind when you listen to the first bars of Only Lonely, and it is a feeling that won't leave you during a good part of Summerlong, an album in which Americana and psychedelia shake hands like in the best moments of Jerry Garcia´s band. It could therefore be said that they are a bit lacking in...

Foo Fighters - Foo Fighters (1995)

When Kurt Cobain took his life in April 1994 and the incredible success that Nirvana had achieved came to an abrupt halt, the last thing that anyone could imagine was that within a relatively short time the drummer Dave Grohl would be standing in front of a packed stadium, as the leader of another band, with a Gibson DG-335 electric guitar in his...

American Aquarium - Lamentations (2020)

BJ Barham, American Aquarium's founder, named the band's latest album Lamentations (1 May 2020; New West Records) in reference to personal sorrows, the book of the Bible and the death of the American Dream. The themes of his songs, which have often been compared with Bruce Springsteen, deal with retrospective regret in its myriad forms...

Larkin Poe - Self Made Man (2020)

The dramatic fall in physical album and single sales in recent years has represented a huge challenge for musicians on how to just get by and survive. Many have turned to selling merchandise and trying to capitalize on live shows, which unfortunately have also been practically wiped out during the global Covid-19 lockdown. But every cloud has a...

Hillel Slovak

There is a scene in Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography Scar Tissue in which a recovering addict persuades him to go and visit the grave of his deceased band mate Hillel Slovak at Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Hollywood Hills, California. Following Slovak's death from a heroin overdose on 25 June 1988 Kiedis had fled to...

Bob Dylan - Rough And Rowdy Ways (2020)

Rough and Rowdy Ways (June 19, 2020; Columbia Records) is Bob Dylan’s  39th studio album, his first album of original songs since Tempest eight years ago, and counts among his best.   Dylan is now 79 years old and, perhaps inevitably, for some years has been writing songs that reflect on his own mortality, but with...

The White Stripes - De Stijl (2000)

White Stripes’ focus was clearly blues played by a wild electric garage band. They deconstruct Led Zeppelin and Hendrix riffs to their most skeletal minimums and their sound might even be described as something like ‘Led Zeppelin for Stooges fans’. Delta blues electrified by a storm of distortion was 'cool' again, as were the Stripes looks,...

Alanis Morrissette - Jagged Little Pill (1995)

If one of the main challenges in music is to connect with your audience, then Alanis Morissette’s personal stories on Jagged Little Pill (13 June 1995; Maverick) must count as a huge success. Because this previously little-known Canadian artist, in search of a record contract and living at her parent’s house, suddenly struck gold with her...

Dion - Blues With Friends (2020)

Dion, now 80, has just released Blues With Friends (5 June 2020; on Joe Bonamassa’s label KTBA). And it is good to know that the man who: had his first hit as a teenager; led the Belmonts; experienced heroin addiction, rejection and religion; and has played rock, doo-wop, R&B and straight blues; is still here and making great music, Fender...

Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication (1999)

What a beautiful moment it must have been for the skeletal ex-Chili Peppers’ guitarist, John Frusciante, weighing just 85 pounds (38.5 kilos) following years of heroin abuse, but just clean after three months in rehab, to have bassist Flea turn up at his door and invite him to rejoin the band. And what a way to return this gift from the group by...

Dave Navarro

Dave Navarro and Jane's Addiction were the curious link between the Los Angeles 'hair metal' scene and the 'alternative nation', the term Perry Farrell would use to call the whole 'underground' and indie scene that would explode with Nirvana, but which had its particular prologue in Ritual de lo Habitual. Navarro is the curious case of a guitarist...