Sunday, July 23, 2017

Farewell Chester Bennington

With the untimely passing of their vocalist, will Linkin Park be able to maintain their previous worldwide success?

By: Ringo Bones 

With the untimely death of Linkin Park’s principal vocalist – Chester Bennington – of an apparent suicide back in July 20, 2017, many of their fans now wonder what direction will the band take or will the remaining members maintain their previous global success. But given the track record of the band’s propensity of overcoming challenges since the success of their Hybrid Theory major label debut album, it seems than Linkin Park could go on – more likely morphing into a very different band musically without Chester Bennington.
I’m probably not the only one wondering why Chester Bennington killed himself despite the success of Linking Park – i.e. successful enough to have founded the Music For Relief charity and being a recipient of the UN Global Leadership Award, not to mention a global success that include legions of headscarves-wearing Muslim teens from South-East Asia which used to be the domain of Metallica, Sepultura, Joe Satriani, Bon Jovi, Scorpions, Rammstein and this is probably all of 'em . It seems that Chester’s demons had become too intransigent for hi to deal alone. 

Being accused as a “manufactured boy band” during the runaway success of their Hybrid Theory album during the start of the 21st Century – probably because of the execs at Warner Bros doing their part to make the band a runaway financial success despite of the Napster debacle depriving every signed hard rock acts at the time earning their financial dues – Linkin Park responded by sticking to their true selves and touring – which only resulted in legions of fans both in the United States and the rest of the world and two Grammy Awards. All earned before the end of the George Dubya Bush Administration – which is no mean feat indeed given that all of them were still under 30 when they took on the challenge. 

While a significant portion of Linkin Park’s fans view Chester Bennington as the voice of a new generation of hard rock enthusiasts ridiculed by conservatives for harboring “White Liberal Guilt” during the George Dubya Bush administration’s Post 9/11 jingoism, there’s no question of the vocal interplay between the melodic hard rock oriented singing of Chester Bennington and the skillful Rap oriented delivery of Mike Shinoda is the very aspect that marks the uniqueness of Linkin Park. It’s just too bad that Chester Bennington was fated to pass away before his time given that the band has yet a lot of artistic exploring to do.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Ariana Grande Manchester Arena Concert Terror Attack: A New Low For Terrorism?

Even though radicalized religious extremist have targeted groups of children before – i.e. the Beslan School Siege back in 2004 – does the recent Ariana Grande Manchester concert attack represent a new low for such terror attacks? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The tragic May 22, 2017 suicide bombing of Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena concert by a 22-year-old British Muslim named Salman Abedi who detonated a shrapnel-laden improvised explosive device (IED) at the exit of the arena after the event. The brazen attack had resulted in the deaths of 23 adults and children, including Abedi and 116 were injured, some critically. At the latest stage of the ongoing investigation, Abedi was suspected of working within a terrorist network and 16 people so far were arrested in connection with the incident, two of which are released without charge. 

Even though Abedi has been under surveillance by the UK’s anti terror intelligence agencies since 2015 after he threatened a local imam for preaching against the so-called Islamic State, he managed to “flew under the radar” so to speak and managed not to raise red flags. Hours after the suicide bombing, initial investigations suggests that Abedi might be self-radicalized. A few days ago, critical evidence has been uncovered that Abedi could be part of a still unidentified terror network following the furor over vital forensic photos that were leaked to the New York Times that angered Home Secretary Amber Rudd that resulted in a temporary halt of intelligence sharing by the UK’s intelligence services and the US government. 

A tribute concert by Ariana Grande has already been scheduled later for the benefit of the victims and the families of the tragic Manchester Arena attack. And as a sign of resilience, concert events and a marathon scheduled after the Ariana Grande concert were allowed to proceed albeit under heightened security.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Farewell Chris Cornell….

As one of the musicians credited for making the “angst-ridden” Seattle Grunge into the musical mainstream during the early 1990s, will the music world be poorer with the untimely passing of Chris Cornell?

By: Ringo Bones 

Besides Kurt Cobain and the rest of Nirvana, it seems that Chris Cornell and his fellow musicians of Soundgarden were absolutely pivotal in thrusting the so-called “Seattle Grunge” into the musical mainstream during the early 1990s. Even though no self-respecting music lover associates the great city of Seattle, Washington with Jazz clarinetist Kenny G, the so-called Seattle Grunge movement of the early 1990s will forever be associated with Nirvana and Soundgarden, in which Chris Cornell has since become an indispensable frontman since they gained fame during the late 1980s with their Loud Love album. 

It was reported that Chris Cornell died of an apparent suicide according to his representative, Brian Bumbery announced to the press on May 17, 2017. Cornell was said to have been found dead in the bathroom of his room at the MGM Grand Detroit hotel after Cornell’s wife asked a family friend to check up on him. Detroit police spokesman Michael Woody told Associated Press that the death was being treated as a possible suicide. 

Cornell’s biggest mainstream hit was probably the soundtrack to the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royal titled You Know My Name which he wrote with Independence Day composer David Arnold. This was also the first Bond movie of actor Daniel Craig. Chris Cornell also earned kudos with the plane-watching community when in a Soundgarden video Burden in my Hand they used a Swedish Saab 35 Draken to flyby 4-minutes 4-seconds into the music video. Non-plane-watching enthusiasts often mistake the Swedish Saab 35 Draken flyby as a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The music world could be a lot sadder without him and his still untapped potential.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Farewell Chuck Berry

Passed away at 90, would popular music - as we know it – even exist without Chuck Berry? 

By: Ringo Bones 

March 18, 2017 would probably be remembered as the saddest day for Rock n’ Roll as one of the music’s founding fathers passed away aged 90. Born Charles Edward Anderson Berry, is better known to the music world as Chuck Berry was born in October 18, 1926 and became well known back in the 1950s as one of the pioneers of Rock n’ Roll music. Even though he is no longer the “undisputed king of Rock n’ Roll”, Chuck Berry, nevertheless managed to make early African American Blues, R&B and Rock n’ Roll music not only accessible to white European Americans but also to rock music enthusiasts from the rest of the world. Not only that, he also regularly been playing live and touring since the mid 1950s well into his 80s. 

Chuck Berry’s iconic hit Johnny B. Goode was introduced to a new generation of fans during the mid 1980s when accidental time-traveler Marty McFly (played by actor Michael J. Fox) played his own rendition of Johnny B. Goode in the movie Back to the Future. Another version of Johnny B. Goode by the heavy metal band Judas Priest also managed to introduce young 1980s era metal-heads to the musical genius of Chuck Berry. And both versions were probably instrumental in the induction of Chuck Berry into the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame back in 1986. Before he passed away, Chuck Berry was currently working on a new album after his previous one was released 35 years ago.      

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Bob Dylan: Most Unseemly Nobel Literature Laureate Ever?

Even though it is undeniable that Bob Dylan is one of the greatest songwriters in the great American songwriting tradition, but does this make the “old hippie” the most unseemly Nobel Literature laureate ever?

By: Ringo Bones 

When the news first broke out that Bob Dylan won the Nobel Literature Prize for 2016, many of my “audio-buddies” immediately quipped “who will the Nobel Committee award for next year’s Nobel Literature Prize – Tori Amos, Liz Phair?” Despite of the inextricably unprecedented move, the Nobel Committee did state their justification for awarding the 2016 Nobel Literature Prize to Bob Dylan – but is Bob Dylan, despite his great musical achievements since the 1960s, truly deserving of the Nobel Literature Prize? 

Bob Dylan’s place as one of the world’s greatest artistic figures was further elevated on Thursday, October 13, 2016 when Dylan was named the surprise winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. After the announcement, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, said it had “not been a difficult decision” and he hoped the Swedish Academy would not be criticized for its choice. 

On Bob Dylan’s 2016 Nobel Literature Prize win, Swedish Academy secretary Sara Danius advised those unfamiliar with the works of Dylan to start with the 1966 album Blonde on Blonde in which she said “I’s an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming, putting together refrains, and his pictorial way of thinking.” Though to me at least, Bob Dylan’s 1975 album The Basement Tapes is the one that faithfully captures Dylan as a singer songwriter. 

Whether or not Bob Dylan is truly deserving of the 2016 Nobel Literature Prize could be down to how the Swedish Academy interpreted Alfred Nobel’s original will governing the rules of awarding the Nobel Literature Prize. Originally interpreted as embracing not only writings in the field of belles-lettres (i.e. beautiful writing of artistic merit), but also of other works provided they possessed literary merit. Given this rather still-ambiguous clarification, Bob Dylan winning the 2016 Nobel Literature Prize could be justified – but should Tori Amos and Liz Phair or other great singer-songwriters should be in the running for the Nobel Literature Prize?