Saturday, 28 April 2018

Carmine Appice “Rockers” 1981 US Classic Rock debut solo Lp

Carmine Appice “Rockers” 1981 US Classic Rock
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The Vanilla Fudge/Cactus/Jeff Beck/Rod Stewart drummer made his solo debut with 1981’s Rockers . Back in ‘77 he recorded the much jazzier V8 , but that LP confused his label and went unreleased; now, both LPs come to CD for the first time! Carmine’s spin on Paint It Black joins Blue Cafe; Energy; Neptune; Be My Baby; Am I Losing You , and more on two low-priced CDs….~

Opening with the smart-riffing “Have You Heard” and the even smarter “Keep on Rolling,” the drummer for Jeff Beck, Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, and so many others created a driving and focused self-titled solo debut with the able assistance of mega-producer Richard Podolor. Both men get clever and creative; the instrumental of “Paint It Black” at some points leans toward “Aladdin Song,” the unreleased Rolling Stones tune that borrowed the “Paint It Black” riff, more so than the Stones’ 1966 number one classic. It’s more than an amusing take on a popular favorite – Carmine Appice’s version redesigns and gives new color to the Jagger/Richards composition. Similarly, “Be My Baby” gets mutated, but not as effectively. The backing vocals borrowed from Tommy James’ “Crimson & Clover” disturb what is otherwise a mainstream rock cover of a pop classic. In “Blue Cafe,” the big drum sound creates a foundation for the pop mantra with little touches of reggae. Where Corky Laing’s Making It on the Street album from four years earlier revealed a drummer being a minstrel, surprising those who knew that player by the hard rock he was associated with, Appice had dipped into enough other bags that this highly experimental rock record fit his pattern. It’s not that it was expected as much as it is a logical extension/performance by this journeyman. Appice calls his band here the Rockers, and guitarist Danny Johnson adds significant crunch to his co-write, “Sweet Senorita.” Whatever shortcomings the original material may have, the enthusiasm and spirit bring things up a notch; the session definitely sounds like it was fun. Where Laing’s album wins out as far as accessibility, both percussion masters do an admirable job of going solo. For those who wished Phil Collins stayed behind the skins, Carmine Appice by Carmine Appice and Making It on the Street by Corky Laing display creativity by men who like to beat on things and who didn’t get overexposed on the Top 40. Both records are refreshingly original. Come to think of it, “Am I Losing You” would have been a welcome addition to the radio in 1981. This album is a diversion from what rock listeners are used to hearing and is recommended….. by Joe Viglione….~

Well hey. He did co-wrote “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy”, and that ended up being one of Rod’s more massive hits. Why not do a solo album? 

Carmine co-wrote all tracks herein, and sings lead as well. There are a couple interesting co-writes: “Drum City Rocker” was co-written by an unknown named Vincent Cusano. Cusano would later change his name to Vinnie Vincent when he joined Kiss the following year. Another alumnus from the school of Gene & Paul, Ron Leejack (ex-Wicked Lester) “Am I Losing You”. 

The sound is pop rock with pounding drums, a sound I don’t mind too much. I’ve always been a fan of Carmine’s drumming, and his drum sound here is what I like. A big snare drum that sounds like a snare drum, lots of toms and a non-stop approach. 

The songs are not great, especially dreadful is a tribal keyboard-drenched “Paint It Black”. Perhaps inspired by Ian Paice, Carmine chose this Stones cover for a drum salvo. He plays it very tribal but…how many people have done covers of this song and buggered them up? Most. The minority do it well. 

Better is the ballad “Blue Cafe” with its mournful sounding vocal and keyboard lines. The rockers fare less well, with “Have You Heard” and “Keep On Rolling” both sounding pretty weak kneed for rock songs. The drumming’s great of course, the singing less so. Carmine barely holds it together at times. 

“Sweet Senorita” which closes side one is a Bon Jovi-esque rocker that might have been hit worthy in 1981. Really the weakest aspect of the album is the vocal. Carmine’s voice lacks character, sounding very much like Joe Pop Singer.  It’s too bad because “Sweet Senorita” boasts a great groove and fine guitar solo, along with memorable hooks. 

Side two opens with a drum salvo!…and then this lame vocal part kicks in, “Drum city, drum city…” Yes, it’s “Drum City Rocker”. Why couldn’t they have left it instrumental? It’s otherwise fine, with punchy drum fills and a great boogie!
“Hollywood Heartbeart”, much like the earlier song “Keep On Rolling” sounds like a Journey reject, without any of Steve Perry’s vocal grace. They sound like pale imitations. I had higher hopes for Phil Spector’s “Be My Baby”, being a personal favourite. Thankfully this is more suited to Carmine’s style and he doesn’t butcher it. The backing vocals are pretty sucky though. 
“Am I Losing You” is another strong ballad, a good song, a decent vocal from Carmine. I hate buying a rock album only to find that the best songs are the ballads, but in this case, that’s the way it is. Both ballads are good and have some feeling to them. 
“Drums Drums Drums” closes the album, and as you can guess, it’s a plethora of drums…with Carmine’s annoying vocals! “Drums drums drums…” he sings. This is followed by an awful “Heyyyyy, heyyy, heyyy–o!” section. 
Produced by Richard Polodor. It has this dry, dull sound kind like a Peter Criss solo album….Mikelandano….~

Carmine is a respectable drummer, but this project is a mess. The only thing that sounds together is Appice’s work on the skins - the rest of the band sounds disjointed: the guitar-work is all over the place (especially during the solos) and the vocals are workable, but take a back seat to the snappy, high-in-the-mix drums. The compositions also contain a lot of weird synth - horribly weird in the cover of Paint It Black where the keyboards replace the singing - that pops up unexpectedly and can at least get a laugh out of the listener, as in “Drum City Rocker” when some Star Wars-ian lasers suddenly attack. 
“DCR” is one of Appice’s showcase-tunes, sounding almost like an ode to Gene Krupa’s Drum Boogie - at least part of the title is sung the same, anyway. 
“Drums, Drums,…” is the closer (after the ballad “Am I Losing You”, which is partially missed as you’re still going “WTF?” after the cover of The Ronettes’ Be My Baby) and, strangely, the skin-pounding is annoyingly tame. No solos, no flash, no showing off. I could understand it if the project was under an actual band-header, but the expectations are higher when the drummer puts his name on the marquee. Expect more of a weak early-80’s hair-rock outing than, say, a harder Sandy Nelson…by…vonFrankenstein ….~

The first time I met Carmine Appice was back in 1978 at a drum clinic on Long Island. That was the day we taped the interview that appeared in the April 1978 issue of Modern Drummer. He spoke about a new album that he had in the works that would feature a “drum single” called “A Twist of the Wrist.” Well, as often happens with any new idea, Carmine had difficulty finding a record company that believed in his project as much as he believed in it, and that album was never released. It took Edison 9,999 experiments before he came up with the electric lightbulb. When asked if he had been discouraged by so many failures Edison replied. “I didn’t consider them failures. I just found out 9,999 ways how not to make a lightbulb.” Carmine continued with his experiments and a new album is scheduled for release in June 1981. 
Carmine and I spoke on the phone recently and discussed his new album. “I have a solo album coming out, probably in June,” he said. “It’s going to be a drum oriented album. The people that are playing on this album are also the nucleus of the new Rod Stewart band. Jay Davis is on bass. Danny Johnson is the guitar player. Duane Hitchings is not in the new Rod Stewart band, but he’s playing keyboards on my album. Duane played on Rod’s Blondes Have More Fun album. We’re doing it at this studio called American Recorders. The producer that I’m using is Richie Podoler. He produced all of Sandy Nelson’s drum hits. I wanted to do that kind of thing for the 80’s, with the most amazing drum sound to ever come out! The studio here is unreal. It’s 20 years old. The board and everything is all tubes. No transistors, so the “punch” of this place is unbelievable.” 

Historically, this is the same studio where Sandy Nelson recorded one of his biggest singles. “They did “Let There Be Drums” here, all of Three Dog Night’s hits, and Steppenwolf’s records,” Carmine said. “It’s a real history making studio. The sound of the place is unreal and it’s the first time they ever got a drummer like me in it who beats the heck out of the drums! The sound is just unbelievable. 

“I’m writing the material in conjunction with Danny Johnson, Duane Hitchings and two lyricists: Jim Diamond, a singer from Scotland and English singer Pete French. I wrote some of the lyrics, but I’m not really the world’s greatest lyricist. So, we all split the tasks of lyrics, arranging and writing the chords to the songs. It really worked! We’ve got some great songs; some real showcases for drumming. I’m trying to stay away from the sort of Billy Cobham-ish style of drumming that everyone’s doing on albums,” he explained. “I’ve just been trying to stay in the vein that I’ve always been noted for: Power Drums! I’m trying to add all the Krupa-ish stuff, that jungle tom-tom stuff except with a rock feel. Throughout the whole album there’s a lot of tom-tom work. I really love that sound.” 

Carmine is using his famous Ludwig set-up in the studio and he says, “This is by far, the best drum sound that I’m ever going to put out in my whole career. I’m using a combination of the way I get my drum sound, and the way Bill Cooper, the engineer, gets his drum sound. Because of the electronics of the studio, and the way it’s set up, we don’t lose any of the “punch” of the drums. It’s very hard to get that on record with drums these days because everything is so clinical sounding. You get electronic punch. You don’t get real punch, and it makes a big difference. 

“I’m probably going to dedicate the album to John Bonham,” Carmine added. “It’s the stuff that he and I have been doing for years, and now that he’s gone, I’d just like to dedicate it to him. I really dug him. We were good friends. He always treated me with a lot of respect. When he died, I was in England and all these interviewers kept asking me if I was joining Led Zeppelin! Because me and Bonzo were the only two guys that were alike. And it was terrible…those interviewers. It really was, Bonzo was a grand friend of mine, and I just want to dedicate the album to him. That triplet bass drum thing that he played in “Good Times, Bad Times”? I put it in specific portions of songs, ’cause I’ve been doing that since ’68, and John came out with the first album doing it. 

“Actually, the drum sound that we’re getting here is very similar to that first Zeppelin album sound. They recorded it at Olympic and it had the same tube setup. So, it’s the same kind of punch. No one else has really come up with that kind of sound since then.” 

In addition to his drumming, Carmine is also singing on the album. “I’m doing 7 vocal tracks. The old Brooklyn singing voice, singing some lead, all the harmonies, and most of the arranging. There’s a good back beat in a lot of it, but I’m trying to stay away from your normal everyday drum beat. I’m trying to be a little creative. There’s a thing we’re doing that’s very similar to Talking Heads. Instead of playing eighth notes on the hihat, I’ll play it on the rim of the tom-tom, just to give it a robot-like effect. Staying away from your stock boom-bop-boom bop sound. 

“I wrote a lot of the songs on the road. When I got back from Europe around December 20 we started getting together casually; playing the songs and putting them together. First we rehearsed with acoustic instruments to learn the songs and then we moved rehearsals to Duane’s house. He has an 8-track studio and we recorded the material using a drum machine. Then we went into the studio and rehearsed 2 or 3 songs a day for about 5 days. We didn’t play the songs more than twice. The day of the actual recording, we freshened up the songs while the engineer was getting a sound check. It stayed real spontaneous. I didn’t even get to play the songs until the rest of the band really knew them. When I played with them, rather than them using the drum machine, it made the songs, even fresher. It’s a good way to go about it. It keeps me fresh, and if you have fresh drums on a track it keeps that energy. It kicks the other guys in the ass. When the drummer gets bored … it’s all over! 

“We’ve had crazy people come by the studio. Henry Winkler dropped by with his son. Roger Taylor from Queen came by. Even the old drummer from Three Dog Night, Floyd Sneed. Alice Cooper has been hanging around because he’s going to do his next album here. So, there are good vibes. Right now we’re doing an experiment with one of the drum sounds, actually one of the drum singles. I’ve got a great title for it. It’s called “The Ballad of Drum City Surfer Girl!” You know how long I’ve been talking about these drum singles, right? The record companies didn’t want to listen to me. Now we’ve finally got Rod Stewart’s label doing it. His manager hit me up to do drum singles.’ 

“We’re experimenting now with a piece I first heard in The Gene Krupa Story. There’s a scene where Gene plays three different rhythms and the band answers him. So, I’m taking the three different rhythms and I’m doing that. I just had my brother Vinnie in here. He was playing the counter tom-tom parts. Now we’re putting in the actual drumset overdub so I can play the solo that goes over the whole section. It’s pretty crazy. We’re taking some time to really get into the detail work on the drum end of it. There’s really no formula,” Carmine explained. “You don’t know until you start experimenting what’s going to work and what isn’t going to work. 

“The time I first came here, I played with Richie Podoler who plays guitar. We jammed and wrote a song that I did on a show called Hollywood Heartbeat. That just came out of a jam. I’ve sort of written four or five drum singles with melodies and different concepts. I know it can happen again! That’s why I’m using Richie, because he’s the only guy that has a track record of doing drum singles. I don’t even know if they’re commercial enough to be actual drum singles. I think they might end up being real heavy-duty popular album cuts. Like “Stairway To Heaven.” That was never a hit single, but it was such a big song.” 

Carmine plans to perform with his band between Rod Stewart dates. “We’re going to release my album to coincide with the Rod Stewart tour which comes up in July. Then, if we play four nights at Madison Square Garden and have a day off, maybe I’ll do the day off at The Ritz with Danny, Jay, the band and a keyboard player. Danny’s got an album coming out too, so we’ll kill two birds with one stone. In between all that we’re going to be doing five tracks on a new Rod Stewart album. It’s a double LP. Three sides live and the fourth side will be the five new studio tracks with the new band. That’ll be out for the new tour as well.” 

“There’s talk of doing one of the songs on my album with Rod. I did over a song called “Be My Baby.” Rod heard it and just loved it. He said, ‘You know, it might be a good idea to include this in the show to give me a little break,’ And he’ll sing on the choruses.” 

There’ll be some use of electronic percussion on the album but not much. “I’m just going to use it as effects,” Carmine told me. “Remember what I was saying about playing eighth notes on the rim? I’m going to do things like that with it. Make it sound like a slide guitar at one point, or use it for a Star Wars kind of effect. I’m keeping this thing really ‘roots.’ Raw, kick-ass, the raunchiest, biggest jungle tom-tom sound that anyone ever heard! We’re getting into some really interesting stuff. Some of the best stuff I think I’ve ever done. And there’s ‘controlled’ playing. Instead of playing on the hi-hat to an uptempo rock and roll thing, I’ll be playing on the tom-tom. I mixed in some Police sort of rhythms with the heavier drum sound, though. No one has really gotten into that yet. This is what I’m trying to accomplish. Keep the old kick-ass Carmine sound like in the old Cactus days in combination with what I do with Rod, Vanilla Fudge and everything. 

“Richie Podoler did many Surf records and we’re adding a little bit of that flavor as well, in total contrast to my drums. I hope it’s a hit record. We have seven or eight tracks that are very strong vocally, and three drum things that I think will satisfy the drum market. I’m really happy with the way that everything’s been happening. We’re trying to keep everything at different tempos. 

“One of the things we’re going to do to promote this album is run drum battles all over the world. What I’m trying to do is bring back the old spirit of drums like Krupa had. The big band days and the drum battles! We ran a thing out here last year in conjunction with a radio station called K-West. It was called The K-West/Carmine Appice First Annual Mother’s Day Drum-Off. This year I’m going to be away for Mother’s Day but we’re going to run it on Memorial Day out at the beach. We’ll have fireworks at the end of the whole drum battle. It was a beautiful day last time. We’re going to go on as Carmine and the Rockers and play songs off the album and finish up with an amazing drum solo, which I’d better do or I’m in trouble, right? We’re going to dedicate that whole Memorial Day to John Bonham as well. 

“I’m determined to bring the drums up front, man. I really think the kids are ready. The kids today never heard stuff like this! We’re talking with Ludwig about maybe giving a drum set to the winner of the contest. There’s a battle of the bands in Daytona, Florida sponsored by Ludwig and I’m going to be the guest-star judge. Sometimes I wonder about myself!” he laughed. “People ask me, ‘Well, what do you do for fun?’ This is what I do for fun! You gotta keep that New York attitude. Once you lose that, man … you’re in trouble!”… Scott K. Fish….~

Rock drummer Carmine Appice has appeared in a variety of groups over the years, starting with Vanilla Fudge in 1966. That band made five charting albums between 1967 and 1969, the most successful of which was the gold-selling debut Vanilla Fudge. Appice and Vanilla Fudge bassist Tim Bogert then formed Cactus with guitarist Jim McCarty (not the Jim McCarty from the Yardbirds) and singer Rusty Day. While Appice and Bogert were in the lineup, Cactus charted with four albums between 1970 and 1972, most successfully the debut, Cactus. In 1973, Appice and Bogert teamed up with guitarist Jeff Beck to form Beck, Bogert & Appice, who scored a gold-selling album, Beck Bogert & Appice. Appice was a member of the supergroup KGB, who featured Ray Kennedy, Rick Grech, Mike Bloomfield, and Barry Goldberg, and made one charting album in 1976. He worked as Rod Stewart’s drummer in the '70s and '80s and co-wrote Stewart’s hits “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (number one, 1978) and “Young Turks” (number five, 1981). In 1989, he was part of the trio Blue Murder with John Sykes and Tony Franklin, who made one charting album. Always busy, Appice worked on albums with King Cobra, Travers & Appice, Cactus (Cactus V appeared in 2006) and with a reunited version of Vanilla Fudge, who re-formed in 2000. He also began his Guitar Zeus project, pairing a core band with many of the most dynamic guitarists in rock and metal. Guitar Zeus appeared in 1996, followed by Guitar Zeus, Vol. 2: Channel Mind Radio a year later in 1997. The best of these two releases were combined for 2009’s Carmine Appice’s Guitar Zeus: Conquering Heroes. 2011 saw the release of a new eponymous King Kobra LP, followed in 2013 by the like-minded King Kobra II. In 2016 Appice reunited with Pat Travers for the cheekily-titled Balls Album, which saw the dynamic duo tearing through a set of classic blues-rock numbers. ~ William Ruhlmann & Steve Leggett….~

Carmine Appice - Drums, Percussion, Lead Vocals 
Danny Johnson - Guitars 
Duane Hitchings - Keyboards 
Jay Davis - Bass 
The Rockers - Background Vocals

A1 Have You Heard 4:08 
A2 Keep On Rolling 4:24 
A3 Paint It Black 3:44 
A4 Blue Cafe 4:03 
A5 Sweet Senorita 3:40 
B1 Drum City Rockers (Ballad Of Drum City Surfer Girls) 3:20 
B2 Hollywood Heartbeat 3:58 
B3 Be My Baby 3:52 
B4 Am I Losing You 3:50 
B5 Drums, Drums, Drums 3:13 



Carmine Appice 

Carmine Appice (1981) 
Carmine Appice’s Guitar Zeus (1995) 
Carmine Appice’s Guitar Zeus 2: Channel Mind Radio (1997) 
Carmine Appice’s Guitar Zeus Japan (1999) 
Carmine Appice’s Guitar Zeus Korea (2002) 
V8 (2008) 
Carmine Appice’s Guitar Zeus: Conquering Heroes (double CD) (2009) 

Beck, Bogert & Appice 

Beck, Bogert & Appice (1973) 
Live in Japan (1973) 

Blue Murder 

Blue Murder (1989) 
Nothin’ But Trouble (1993) 


Cactus (1970) 
One Way…Or Another (1971) 
Restrictions (1971) 
'Ot 'N’ Sweaty (1972) 
Fully Unleashed: The Live Gigs (2004) 
Cactus V (2006) 
Fully Unleashed: The Live Gigs Vol. II (2007) 

Char, Bogert & Appice 

Live in Japan (1999) 

Derringer, Bogert & Appice 

Doin’ Business As… (2001) 


Party Tested (1983)[21] 
Jan Akkerman 

Tabernakel (1974)[22] 


KGB (1976) 
Motion (1976) 

King Kobra 

Ready to Strike (1985) 
Thrill of a Lifetime (1986) 
King Kobra III (1988) 
Hollywood Trash (2001) 
King Kobra (2011) 
King Kobra II (2013) 

Marty Friedman 

True Obsessions (1996) 
Michael Schenker 

Temple of Rock (2011) 

Mother’s Army 

Mothers Army (1993) 
Planet Earth (1997) 

Pappo’s Blues 

Caso Cerrado (1995) 

Paul Stanley 

Paul Stanley (1978) 


Pearl (1997) 
4 Infinity (1998) 

Pink Floyd

“Dogs of War” from A Momentary Lapse of Reason (1987)

Rated X 

Rated X (2014) 
Rod Stewart 

Foot Loose & Fancy Free (1977) 
Blondes Have More Fun (1978) 
Foolish Behaviour (1980) 
Tonight I’m Yours (1981) 

Sly Stone 

I’m Back! Family & Friends (credited only to “Sly Stone”) (2011)

Ted Nugent 

Nugent (1982) 

Travers & Appice (as duet with Pat Travers) 

It Takes A Lot of Balls (2004) 
Live at the House of Blues (2005) 
Bazooka (2006) 

Vanilla Fudge 

Vanilla Fudge (1967) 
The Beat Goes On (1968) 
Renaissance (1968) 
Near the Beginning (1969) 
Rock & Roll (1969) 
Mystery (1984) 
The Best of Vanilla Fudge Live (1991) 
2001/The Return/Then And Now (2001) 
The Real Deal – Vanilla Fudge Live (2003) 
Out Through The in Door (2007) 
Orchestral Fudge/When Two Worlds Collide (2008) 
Box of Fudge (2010) 
Spirit Of '67 (2015) 

Vargas, Bogert & Appice 

Javier Vargas, Tim Bogert, Carmine Appice: Featuring Paul Shortino (2011) 

With others 

Cozy Powell Tribute – Cozy Powell Forever (1998) 
Chris Catena – Discovery (2009) 
Moonstone Project – Time to Take a Stand/Hidden in Time (2006) 
Who Are You – An All-Star Tribute to the Who (2012) 
The Rod Experience – Rod Stewart Tribute Band, including original RS band members (2014) 
Pat Travers - The Balls (2016) 

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