That time I asked Jimmy Barnes about his boozer reputation, and why he left Cold Chisel

By Steve Newton When I went to Australia for my little sister's wedding in 1986 I managed to see two wicked Aussie bands--Midnight Oil and the Angels (aka Angel City)--play killer shows in Melbourne-area clubs. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see Cold Chisel play a killer show in a Melbourne-area pub because they'd already broken … Continue reading That time I asked Jimmy Barnes about his boozer reputation, and why he left Cold Chisel

That time I asked Billy Gibbons what the glue was that kept ZZ Top together for so long

By Steve Newton Being a teenaged devotee of guitar-driven boogie in the seventies put me directly in line with what was required to be a hardcore ZZ Top fan. I have vivid memories of the band, like that time I walked into the Chilliwack Second Hand Store and found a near-mint copy of the Tres … Continue reading That time I asked Billy Gibbons what the glue was that kept ZZ Top together for so long

Album review: The Jeff Healey Band, See the Light (1988)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 21, 1988 By Steve Newton Local blues-rock fans who've been thrilled by the wild guitar histrionics of Jeff Healey during his many Vancouver club dates are gonna love this album. It's chock full of the scorching, red-hot licks that the 22-year-old Torontonian is famous for, and his inspired … Continue reading Album review: The Jeff Healey Band, See the Light (1988)

Album review: ZZ Top, Afterburner (1985)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 8, 1985 By Steve Newton The "l'il ole band from Texas" have done it again. They've come up with another album's worth of unstoppable boogie -blues, and you can bet the coin they'll make off this one will keep them in Jack Daniels and real estate for many years … Continue reading Album review: ZZ Top, Afterburner (1985)

Album review: Steve Morse, The Introduction (1984)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 2, 1984 By Steve Newton My choice for best instrumental rock album of the year--so far--has got to be this new release by former Dixie Dregs guitarist Steve Morse. With accompaniment from bassist Jerry Peck and drummer Rod Morgenstein, Morse unleashes some of the tastiest riffs imaginable, melding technical genius and spontaneous feel within … Continue reading Album review: Steve Morse, The Introduction (1984)

Album review: ZZ Top, Mescalero (2003)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 13, 2003 By Steve Newton It’s hard to believe that the same three guys who gave the world Tres Hombres are content to dump 16 tracks of crap on unsuspecting fans who might think the “Lil Old Band from Texas” still has a reason to be around. Guitarist … Continue reading Album review: ZZ Top, Mescalero (2003)

Album review: Bernard Allison, Storms of Life (2002)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 17, 2002 By Steve Newton So I was upstairs at A&B Sound on Seymour recently, searching for the new DVD release of that fab vampire flick Near Dark—which is so new they didn’t have it yet—when a rowdy slide-guitar tune caught my attention. One of the store’s … Continue reading Album review: Bernard Allison, Storms of Life (2002)

Album review: ZZ Top, Rhythmeen (1996)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 31, 1996 By Steve Newton I’m having lots of ’70s flashbacks lately, but they’re not being caused by ancient run-ins with tiny squares of coloured paper. There’s a woman in the Straight editorial office researching the paper’s history, scanning every issue published since 1967, and right now … Continue reading Album review: ZZ Top, Rhythmeen (1996)

Album review: ZZ Top, Antenna (1994)

  ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 17, 1994 By Steve Newton Twenty years or so ago, I impulsively laid down $2.50 for a used copy of ZZ Top’s Tres Hombres LP, which sounded like hard-rock heaven on my $175 Phillips stereo system. Back then I viewed ZZ Top as a great new heavy-metal … Continue reading Album review: ZZ Top, Antenna (1994)

Album review: ZZ Top, Recycler (1990)

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, NOV. 29, 1990 By Steve Newton Playing the rock critic game can be tough, especially when you have to give the thumbs-down to bands that you’ve loved ever since you were a kid. The recent AC/DC album wasn’t up to snuff, and now another band I used to kill … Continue reading Album review: ZZ Top, Recycler (1990)

Wide Mouth Mason’s Shaun Verreault says work your butt off live, then get good management

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MAY 29, 1997 By Steve Newton When it came time to record his band’s major-label debut last year, Wide Mouth Mason singer-guitarist Shaun Verreault took the old adage “Go west, young man” to heart. With bassist Earl Pereira and drummer Safwan Javed in tow, Verreault left the flatlands of … Continue reading Wide Mouth Mason’s Shaun Verreault says work your butt off live, then get good management

Riff Kills Man proves that Martin Popoff knows his shit when it comes to metal

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, MARCH 17, 1994 By Steve Newton Heavy-metal and hard-rock fans are a fanatical bunch. They thrive on raunchy guitar solos, thundering drums, and howling vocals. They live for feedback. They despise earplugs. And when it comes to their favourite kind of music, they always know who rules. So does … Continue reading Riff Kills Man proves that Martin Popoff knows his shit when it comes to metal

That time Malcolm Young told me that if AC/DC started looking a little “cabaret” they wouldn’t be around much longer

By Steve Newton When I interviewed some of the guys from AC/DC back in '83, on the eve of the Flick of the Switch tour, I asked them which groups they liked listening to in their spare time. Both Brian Johnson and Malcolm Young mentioned ZZ Top. "I just like their attitude and all ya … Continue reading That time Malcolm Young told me that if AC/DC started looking a little “cabaret” they wouldn’t be around much longer

Jimmy Barnes goes solo with Canadian connection after Cold Chisel hits its peak

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 6, 1986 By Steve Newton What do you get when you combine the guitarist from Streetheart, the bassist from Headpins, the keyboardist from Sharp Edges, the drummer from the Bryan Adams band, and the lead singer from Cold Chisel? Well, with a little time, you get a pretty … Continue reading Jimmy Barnes goes solo with Canadian connection after Cold Chisel hits its peak

ZZ Top goes heavy on the ’70s with Chrome, Smoke & BBQ box

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 18, 2003 By Steve Newton In 1987, blues-rockers ZZ Top released a three-disc compilation of their early work titled The ZZ Top Sixpack, which included such stellar mid-’70s albums as Tres Hombres, Fandango, and Tejas. If you own that collection, you’ve already acquired most of the trio’s best … Continue reading ZZ Top goes heavy on the ’70s with Chrome, Smoke & BBQ box

Billy Gibbons gets ornery in Vancouver on ZZ Top’s Afterburner Tour

mila geran photo ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, DEC. 20, 1985 By Steve Newton Shortly before his death, somebody asked Jimi Hendrix if he knew of any up-and-coming guitarists to watch out for. One of the players Hendrix mentioned was Billy Gibbons. Sixteen years later, Gibbons is living up to Jimi's expectations. At the … Continue reading Billy Gibbons gets ornery in Vancouver on ZZ Top’s Afterburner Tour

ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons tells me “them low-down blues ain’t bad”

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, SEPT. 1994 By Steve Newton When famous rock guitarists reminisce about their first instruments, the talk tends toward dirt-cheap acoustics with heavy strings set so high off the fretboard that it hurts just to look at them. Not with Billy Gibbons, though. The incomparable guitarman for ZZ Top got … Continue reading ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons tells me “them low-down blues ain’t bad”

ZZ Top snoozes through its Rhythmeen tour stop in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JUNE 5, 1997 Strolling over the Georgia Viaduct en route to GM Place last Sunday (June 1), I gazed down at the arena’s parking lot to see what kind of fancy tour buses ZZ Top is travelling in these days. I expected to see an outline of Texas on … Continue reading ZZ Top snoozes through its Rhythmeen tour stop in Vancouver

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!

ZZ Top’s Vancouver fans wimp out while the band delivers the goods

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 4, 1990 ZZ Top has always been one of the coolest bands in the land. Those wacky beards, those nifty suits, those fuzzy guitars—not to mention those barnstormin’ boogie tunes that make you wanna rock ’n’ roll all night and party every day. But after last Tuesday’s (October … Continue reading ZZ Top’s Vancouver fans wimp out while the band delivers the goods

Jeff Healey’s amazing legacy captured on three-disc package

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, DEC. 3, 2008 By Steve Newton At eight months old Jeff Healey lost his eyesight to a rare form of cancer, but he would overcome that monumental setback to achieve critical acclaim and international stardom. The Toronto blues-rocker died way too soon—just last March at the age of 41—but he left … Continue reading Jeff Healey’s amazing legacy captured on three-disc package

ZZ Top’s current setlist includes nods to Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters

Jimi with Billy's old band, the Moving Sidewalks. Elizabeth Avedon photo. Guitar legend Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top e-mailed me a few days ago and--among other things--replied to a question put forth by Nanaimo blues-rocker David Gogo, who wanted to know what Gibbons thought Jimi Hendrix would be up to if he was still around. … Continue reading ZZ Top’s current setlist includes nods to Jimi Hendrix and Muddy Waters

My first ever e-mail interview, because it’s Billy freakin’ Gibbons, that’s why!

I've done hundreds of interviews with famous rockers since I started writing for the Georgia Straight back in 1982, most of them over the phone--in advance of a Vancouver tour date--some of them in person. It's always been the policy at the Straight to turn down offers of e-mail interviews--where you send in questions and … Continue reading My first ever e-mail interview, because it’s Billy freakin’ Gibbons, that’s why!

ZZ Top box set will include original mixes of three early albums

ORIGINALLY POSTED ON STRAIGHT.COM, MAY 1, 2013 By Steve Newton Remember how ZZ Top's Tejas album sounded back in '76 when you tossed it on your Yamaha turntable, cranked up the Kenwood amp, and blasted it through those Pioneer speakers? Well, I sure do. It sounded wicked! Especially when it got to "Pam Am Highway Blues". Fellow … Continue reading ZZ Top box set will include original mixes of three early albums

Anybody got a question for ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons?

One of my all-time fave bands from the '70s, ZZ Top, is playing Vancouver on March 22. Their albums made my personal Top 30 charts in 1971, '72, '73, '75, '76, and '79. Sadly, they didn't release any LPs in '70, '74, '77, and '78, not that the seventies had room for even one more shitkicker … Continue reading Anybody got a question for ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons?

ZZ Top’s been rockin’ with the same dudes for nigh on 45 years

ZZ Top is the only major rock band from the '70s that still exists in the exact same form as on its first album, and for that you've got to give the bearded wonders credit. Rush would be up for similar acclaim were it not for John Rutsey playing on their debut album before Neil … Continue reading ZZ Top’s been rockin’ with the same dudes for nigh on 45 years

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