Many times, the raised fist (or variations of) is the only weapon we motorcyclists have in the battle for road space, especially when cage-dwellers absent-mindedly spray their windshields as you drive past or flick cigarette butts out the window so they land in your crotch. Funny how all these years since Easy Rider debuted, a lot of people still hate everything about bikers or are just plain ignorant.
So when someone exhibits rude or even life-threatening behavior, raising the arm (preferably non-throttle) is an instinctive reaction. It’s a lot like rock ’n’ roll music, which many also find to be socially unacceptable in these days of political correctness and moral high-handedness. Every now and then, what’s wrong with thumbing your nose at society? Sure, riding motorcycles and wearing black may not exactly be living dangerously to us, but add in riding and playing loud music and then you have what some think should qualify as criminal behavior. Even if you’re well past the big five-oh, it still feels good to be a rebel. Some of us may be getting older and greyer, but as our riding skills can attest, we ain’t dead yet…
During the ’80s Def Leppard was the epitome of arena-rock bands—challenged only by Journey. Albums like Pyromania and Hysteria were platinum sellers and few bands could match the popularity of the group (excluding of course Ozzy). Now Def Leppard has decided to follow the route of so many DIY bands and jump to a smaller, more focused indie label. Leaving the comfort (and bank account) of a major label, the group has released Mirrorball with distribution through, of all places, Jimmy Buffett’s Mailboat Records. Lest you think the band has reverted to wearing Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops, I can attest that this really is a Def Leppard album. There’s not one song about boats in the whole set. Maybe “album” is the wrong word, because it’s actually a three-disc set: two CDs of live material with three new songs, and a bonus DVD of behind-the-scenes footage from the Sparkle Lounge Tour. But you’re gonna have to ride over to Sam’s Club or Wal Mart to get it because they have it exclusively, at least for now.
The band sounds just as potent and still consists of the original members from the 1992 lineup: Joe Elliott (vocals), Phil Collen (guitar), Vivian Campbell (guitar), Rick Savage (bass guitar), and Rick Allen (drums). The group has also unveiled a new website (defleppard.com) where one can discover that Lady GaGa reveals she was heavily influenced by Def Leppard. There’s even a new single, “Undefeated,” but it’s not from the Sarah Palin movie of the same name (this is getting confusing). There are big choruses, big guitars, and the same high octane Def Leppard sound. That’s pretty much all you need to know.
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George Thorogood & The Destroyers
Finally after 16 studio albums, George Thorogood and the Destroyers have made the one album we’ve all been waiting for—an all-out blues extravaganza featuring some of the greatest blues classics ever recorded for Chicago’s Chess Records. The album title is taken from the Chess Records’ address, which was also used by the Rolling Stones as a title for one of their early instrumental jams, a version of which appears on this album. Along with a couple of originals, the album features the songs of Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy (who also plays on the album), and others.
That George was heavily influenced by the Chess sound is well known and many of his albums have been heavily seasoned with influences from the Chess stable, especially Bo Diddley. Early on, George and the band spent plenty of time on the road playing with some of these legendary bluesmen, so these guys learned from the best and threw away the rest. They are the real deal. When George whips out his axe, it’s authentic, homegrown, and true, and he can trade licks with the best of ’em. Listening to George and the band rip through Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful,” Willie Dixon’s “Seventh Son,” or Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Help Me,” is like walking into a club 40 years ago on Saturday night on the south side of Chicago. It’s a party, and a good time is guaranteed for all. Charlie Musselwhite even guests on the rip roarin’ title track and on a smokin’ version of Little Walter’s “My Babe.” Sweet. Let’s hope for a volume two!