That time I asked Michael Schenker which UFO album he was most impressed with himself

By Steve Newton In March of 1992 I did an interview with Michael Schenker, one of my favourite hard-rock guitarists of all time, whose work with Scorpions, UFO, and MSG totally blew me away. Especially the UFO stuff. When the Phenomenon album came out in 1974 I had just turned 17, and tunes like "Doctor … Continue reading That time I asked Michael Schenker which UFO album he was most impressed with himself

Iron Maiden was the world’s best metal band in Vancouver last night

all photos by Jeff Sutherland By Steve Newton Your first concert is a big deal--or that's what my nephew Jeff says, anyway. Thirty-five years ago I took him to his very first rock show, at the Pacific Coliseum. It was Iron Maiden on the Powerslave tour. He was 14. It ruled. Last night (Sept. 3) … Continue reading Iron Maiden was the world’s best metal band in Vancouver last night

The 70 greatest opening tracks of the ’70s

By Steve Newton Remember how you'd set the needle down on the opening track of a new rock album and the first tune would just blow you the funk away? Me too. "(Ain't Nothin' But a) House Party" (Bloodshot, J. Geils Band, 1973) "All the Way From Memphis" (Mott, Mott the Hoople, 1973) "Already Gone" … Continue reading The 70 greatest opening tracks of the ’70s

Album review: UFO, Making Contact (1983)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, APRIL 15, 1983 By Steve Newton While we're on the subject of riff-riddled hard rock, take into consideration the latest UFO release, Making Contact. The man who now holds Michael Schenker's old position on lead guitar, Paul Chapman, is no lightweight when it comes to intense blues bastardization. UFO … Continue reading Album review: UFO, Making Contact (1983)

That time Circus Magazine’s editorial department sent me a rejection letter :(

By Steve Newton Thirty-six years ago today somebody at Circus Magazine sent me a rejection letter. They could have at least signed it. Back in the seventies I devoured Circus. It was a total fanzine, but it really covered the bands I was interested in. On any given issue you'd see capitalized band names like MOTT, … Continue reading That time Circus Magazine’s editorial department sent me a rejection letter 🙁

Rock Hall boneheads once again choose Chic over Johnny Winter, Rory Gallagher, and Link Wray

By Steve Newton The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame apparently believes that Depeche Mode outrocks Johnny Winter, that Chic blows Rory Gallagher away, and that Joan Baez is more rock than Link Wray. Whatta buncha boneheads. Yep, Jann Wenner and his gaggle of dimwits at the Rock Hall have done it again, blindly ignoring three … Continue reading Rock Hall boneheads once again choose Chic over Johnny Winter, Rory Gallagher, and Link Wray

Newt’s Rock Hall inducts UFO, Robin Trower, Blue Oyster Cult, Mott the Hoople, and Ten Years After

By Steve Newton Tonight the much-maligned Rock and Roll Hall of Fame officially inducts Deep Purple, Cheap Trick, Steve Miller, Chicago, and, unbelievably, legendary rock 'n' rollers N.W.A. Now, this is better work than you commonly expect from the RRHOF, which, back in 2013, had the audacity to induct Cat Stevens instead of fellow nominee Link … Continue reading Newt’s Rock Hall inducts UFO, Robin Trower, Blue Oyster Cult, Mott the Hoople, and Ten Years After

Graveyard has nothing to do with death (metal)

By Steve Newton When your band is called Graveyard, it’s no surprise that you sometimes get pegged as yet another grinding death-metal act. According to Graveyard frontman Joakim Nilsson, it happens quite a bit. “Yeah, we hear that a lot,” says the 37-year-old singer-guitarist, on the line from his home outside Gothenburg, Sweden. “But I … Continue reading Graveyard has nothing to do with death (metal)

Scorpions alumni will infest Seattle, sting no one in Van

Old-school hard-rock freaks in Vancouver—the ones who remember when The Tokyo Tapes was released, anyway—might want to consider a couple of road trips to Washington State this winter. Two concerts featuring former members of the Scorpions are scheduled to take place in Seattle, but no local dates have been announced. Pity. First up is the XG Extreme Guitar … Continue reading Scorpions alumni will infest Seattle, sting no one in Van

The Faces-loving London Quireboys still like to have a tipple

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, AUG. 30, 2001 By Steve Newton When the London Quireboys blasted onto the music scene in 1990 with the swaggering boogie-blues hit “7 O’Clock”, originality wasn’t their stock-in-trade. They took their musical cues directly from Rod Stewart and the Faces, and even looked the part with their scarecrow hairdos … Continue reading The Faces-loving London Quireboys still like to have a tipple

Stateside guitar frenzy: Pat Travers, Jeff Beck, Slash, Jake E. Lee & Yngwie-fucking-Malmsteen!

For some reason a lotta old-school rock-guitar heroes don't play in Vancouver. They head on up for gigs in Washington State, but then turn around and cruise back down to keep on feeding those riff-starved Americans. Are the border guards at Canada Customs really that daunting? Take Pat Travers, for instance. He's half Canadian, but … Continue reading Stateside guitar frenzy: Pat Travers, Jeff Beck, Slash, Jake E. Lee & Yngwie-fucking-Malmsteen!

Quireboys pride themselves on “proper” rock ‘n’ roll

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 19, 1990 By Steve Newton There are some bands out there that are just made to play in bars—they have that certain something that demands you sip a frosty cold one while wallowing in their raucous boogie noise. The Beat Farmers are one of those, the Georgia Satellites … Continue reading Quireboys pride themselves on “proper” rock ‘n’ roll

The volume knob on the Heavy Metal Box goes past 11

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 5, 2007 By Steve Newton This is one of the coolest-looking box sets ever. It's designed to resemble the head of a Marshall amp, and even features a volume knob that goes all the way to 11. How appropriate that Spinal Tap's "Big Bottom" is featured among the four-disc package's … Continue reading The volume knob on the Heavy Metal Box goes past 11

UFO box set celebrates the hard-rock guitar genius of Michael Schenker

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, SEPT. 6, 2011 By Steve Newton When I wrote the first Ear of Newt blog I mentioned that one of my goals was to shine a light on the more underrated rock acts of the '70s, and UFO was one that I pointed to. It always bugs me that I never get … Continue reading UFO box set celebrates the hard-rock guitar genius of Michael Schenker

Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1979

Ah, 1979. According to my calculations, that was the last year of the '70s, which was the greatest decade for guitar-based rock music ever. I'd like to thank Fender, Gibson, Marshall, and everyone else who created the instruments of my enjoyment back then. A Million Vacations: Max Webster ("Paradise Skies", "A Million Vacations", "Let Go … Continue reading Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1979

Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1978

I'll always remember 1978 as the year I saw Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, when they were touring behind You're Gonna Get It. I'll also remember it for that time Thin Lizzy guitarist Scott Gorham took me backstage when the band opened for Styx at the Coliseum. Unfortunately, I'll … Continue reading Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1978

Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1977

Cheap Trick and David Bowie led the way in '77 with two albums each, and the blues was represented by Johnny Winter, Muddy Waters, and Roy Buchanan. Aja: Steely Dan ("Peg", "Deacon Blues", "Josie") American Stars n' Bars: Neil Young ("Hey Babe", "Will to Love", "Like a Hurricane") Bad Reputation: Thin Lizzy ("Opium Trail", "Bad Reputation", … Continue reading Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1977

Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1974

Last year I put together a list of my 30 fave albums from 1973, which was a particularly awesome year since it included the release of what I've always felt was the world's greatest rock album, the Who's Quadrophenia. Now that you've all had a good chance to go out and purchase each and every one … Continue reading Ear of Newt’s Top 30 Rock Albums of 1974

Old-school Sora is all about the classic rock

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 8, 2005 If Erol Sora had released his new album, Demented Honour, 30 years ago, he'd have been an instant superstar, touring the world, packing 20,000-seat arenas, and drowning in chicks, champagne, and caviar. At least that's the impression you get from the CD's boisterously catchy opener, "Guilty". The singer, … Continue reading Old-school Sora is all about the classic rock

Black Sabbath comes to town as Heaven and Hell

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MARCH 14, 2007 When Black Sabbath came to town last Sunday—calling itself Heaven and Hell, I guess, to make sure no one expected Ozzy Osbourne to dodder onto the stage—it was the quartet's first public performance in 14 years. More importantly, it was the group's first Vancouver show in a quarter-century. … Continue reading Black Sabbath comes to town as Heaven and Hell