Archive for Frank Formica

America’s Best Kept Secret: Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin Stones

Posted in Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 21, 2018 by 80smetalman

As most of you already know, I’ve come to America these past two weeks for not the happiest of reasons. However, in between my mother’s memorial service, the scattering of her ashes into the ocean and my getting stuck into cleaning her house, (she was a heavy smoker), there have been other more happier events like the wine tasting day my sister and her husband took me to. I also got to hook up with my old friend and true metal fan, Frank Formica, at a karaoke night. He even sang “Battle Hyms” by Manowar for me. So, it hasn’t been all gloom for me while I’ve been here, something I’ve been really grateful for.

Having some wine

On one of these more happier occasions, while at my sister and her husband’s house, they told me about this new lady blues guitarist whom they happened to see at some fair in New Jersey not long ago. The guitarists’ name was Hannah Wicklund and my brother in law, Mark Pickeral, who is a pretty good guitarist himself, was so blown away by this lady that he bought two of her albums. I believe this self titled one is her fourth album. But before I get into what a great album “Hannah Wicklund and the Steppin Stones” is, I have to say that when they showed me concert footage of Hannah, I was just as blown away. The album is excellent, it’s going to move into my top 15 for sure, but she is even more kick ass live. I hope that one day I have the opportunity of seeing her do so.

Hannah Wicklund has been called a combination of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. I can see the comparison here because she has the power vocals of Janis and she can play guitar like Jimi. When I listen to her blues based guitar rock, I am reminded of other greats in this genre like Rory Gallagher, Robin Trower, Pat Travers, Kenny Wayne Shepherd and even  Eric Clapton. Her guitar playing can hold its own with any of these mentioned but none of them come close to her in her vocal ability. My God, can she sing! What we have here is a great singer who can shred brilliantly. For me, what’s not there to like?

The hardest thing I find to do when listening to “Hannah Wicklund & the Steppin Stones” is to pick a favourite track. Every time I think I might have chosen, another comes along and vies for the title. This is down to the fact that there are ten great songs on the album. Her vocals come through straight away on the opener, “Bomb Through the Breeze” and her sheer power is stamped on “Ghost.” Then she changes up on “Looking Glass.” My vote, possibly, for best guitar solo comes on “On the Road.” Then just when you think you got her pegged, she surprises you with a near ballad like closer, “Shadow Boxes and Porcelain Faces.” But on every song, Hannah’s vocal and guitar skills shine through.

Track Listing:

  1. Bomb Through the Breeze
  2. Ghost
  3. Looking Glass
  4. Mama Said
  5. On the Road
  6. Crushin
  7. Strawberry Moon
  8. Too Close to You
  9. Meet You Again
  10. Shadow Boxes and Porcelain Faces

Hannah Wicklund

Hannah Wicklund- lead vocals, guitar

I can’t find his name anywhere- bass

Luke Mitchell- drums

Note: Luke is also Hannah’s brother who fronts his own band, The High Divers.

One song wasn’t enough to do Hannah justice here so that’s why you are getting three. Hopefully, you will find as I do that Hannah Wicklund kicks ass and she is destined for great things.

Next post, I’ll decided that when I get back to the UK next week.

To get Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://crreadac.cf/current/ebooks-free-download-rock-and-roll-children-fb2-by-michael-d-lefevre.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Metal Albums of 1983: Dokken- Breaking the Chains

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2017 by 80smetalman

dokken_-_breaking_the_chains

Before I get lynched for stating that the 1983, “Breaking the Chains” album was Dokken’s debut album, I will be the first to point out that this album was released in Europe two years earlier. I didn’t discover this fact until 1986 when I went over to the Continent. Therefore, like many Americans, I assumed that the 1983 effort was their debut. However, for parity, I will make it a point to listen to the earlier version and take notes on any differences.

Even when this album did come to my attention, I didn’t go out and buy it straight away. Reason being was that my friend and heavy metal officianado, Frank Formica, had seen them live supporting Aldo Nova and Blue Oyster Cult and fed back that he wasn’t impressed. He stated that it was like watching a puppet show in regards to how they moved on stage and that only about thirty people were getting into them. This meant that I gave “Breaking a Chains” a miss and didn’t actually listen to it until after their third album.

Now I would like to say that the debut album was a blinder of an album and I was a fool for not picking it up in 1983. I’m afraid I am cemented in the belief that their next two albums after were strides better. However, you have to start somewhere and “Breaking the Chains” was a good a springboard as any. There are some decent songs on here, my favourite being the title cut, which would still be a strong track if it had appeared on one of the later albums. Other stand out tracks for me are “Felony,” “Live to Rock, (Rock to Live),” “Nightrider” and “Stick to Your Guns.” In addition, “In the Middle” has been growing on me recently. But one thing I can say about most of the tracks here is that guitarist George Lynch is already showing his magic on the six string and this, like the later albums, would continue to improve with age.

Track Listing:

  1. Breaking the Chains
  2. In the Middle
  3. Felony
  4. I Can’t See You
  5. Live to Rock, (Rock to Live)
  6. Nightrider
  7. Seven Thunders
  8. Young Girls
  9. Stick to Your Guns
  10. Paris is Burning
Dokken

Dokken

I couldn't find a picture of the band with Juan Crocier in it so I've included a solo shot.

I couldn’t find a picture of the band with Juan Crocier in it so I’ve included a solo shot.

Don Dokken- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

George Lynch- lead guitar

Juan Crocier- bass, backing vocals

Wild Mick Brown- drums

As any metal historian worth his salt can tell you, Juan Crocier would leave the band and go to newer pastures. No prizes for guessing which band he would end up with. While I like the album, the lack of commercial success of “Breaking the Chains” had the band Elektra label considering dropping them. While history would go on to prove that the decision to give them another chance was the right one, we nearly lost them after one album and we would have been denied the better ones.

Next post: Heaven- Where Angels Fear to Tread

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribute to Frank Formica- A True Metal Fan

Posted in 1980s, Concerts, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2014 by 80smetalman

Hi everyone, it’s been awhile and let me just say that I am having a great time here in New Jersey. In the past ten days, I’ve eaten Cap’n Crunch for breakfast nearly every day and I think I’ve consumed enough Yuengling to make up for the eight years I’ve gone without it. Of course there’s the local cusine, I couldn’t go without at least eating one Philly cheese steak. When I return to the UK on Friday, I will be introducing the country, well Gloucestershire anyway, to the game of beer pong. But the best thing about my time in NJ is the chance to meet up with long time no see good friends.

Frank and Me

Frank and Me

The great thing about friends, as far as music goes, is that they are always introducing one another to new music and the latest offerings from artists they have in common. Back in the golden days of heavy metal, the 1980s, my metal friend Frank Formica was always discovering new metal and playing it for the rest of us. Frank  almost singlehandedly introduced me the thrash and enlightened me to the musical offerings of Metallica and Anthrax. On the flip side I introduced him to Kreator and The Killer Dwarfs and together we experienced the Stormtroopers of Death when we saw them live in New York. That concert will live in both our memories as the insaneist one we’ve ever been to and there were many others. Frank was clearly an inspriation behind my love for heavy metal back then.

Frank as Alice Cooper

Frank as Alice Cooper

Nowadays Frank runs a karaoke show called Veteran Cosmic Rocker named after a song from a Moody Blues album I visited earlier this year. In order to get gigs, it’s not total heavy metal although, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if it was. I went to his show last night at a bar called The Riverside, near Mays Landing, NJ. First, I never knew he could sing that well as he belted out a few classic Alice Cooper ditties in line with the Halloween theme. He also sang several Rolling Stones classics like “Sympathy for the Devil” and his girl friend helped get the party started by singing a few more mainstream tunes like the song by Pink which creates a pun here. The biggest surprise, however, was when Frank introduced his friend who had come all the way from England and that he was going to sing some heavy metal. He proceded to sing some Judas Priest, although I can’t for the life of me remember which one, “Detroit Rock City ” by KISS and to end the night on a good note, he sang “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Metallica. I felt very honoured that he sang those songs for me.

Frank in action

Frank in action

After a slow start, the night took off and overall things went pretty well. Since half of the clientelle was made up with members of the Tough Guys MC, there wasn’t going to be a mad rush to the microphone but several ladies made more than one trip up and entertained the crowd. Did I go up to the mike? You must be kidding, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket which is why I have always been more of an appreciator of music rather than a purvyeor.

The Riverside or for non- Americans, a typical American bar

The Riverside or for non- Americans, a typical American bar

Many factors have contributed to making me the metalhead I am today. One of the more major ones was my friend Frank Formica who opened my eyes to all sorts of heavy metal. If it hadn’t been for Frank, I would not have been able to write “Rock and Roll Children” and I suspect those who have read it have already figured out that I based the Frankie character in the story on Frank. I’m sure we all have friends who influenced us musically and for me, there was no one better than Frank.

Next post: Black Sabbath- The Mob Rules

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London