Archive for December, 2019

Well, I mean…he’s right.

December 26, 2019

From Blabbermouth.net, a few days ago…

QUEENSRŸCHE’s TODD LA TORRE On Replacing GEOFF TATE: ‘We Couldn’t Have Asked For A Better Outcome’

…”I think, by and large, we’ve really kind of won over the majority of the QUEENSRŸCHE fanbase. I wasn’t just a one-album guy, so I think it really helps to solidify the lineup and the fact we’re still doing very good business. People are really interested to hear the new material live also, which is a great thing. I think it’s been a great success.”

Well, then.

Frankly, I’m of two minds regarding QR at this point. The music’s good and worth repeated listens, but it just seems different now that Scott Rockenfield’s not around and is likely not coming back. (Todd was the one playing the drums on the new album, The Verdict. Scott apparently has been taking time off since his wife had a baby back in 2017 and has been incommunicado with the band since.) And I was fine with both Chris and Geoff being gone, but now with Scott gone…I just don’t know. I like the previous two albums a lot better, and I am curious to see how The Verdict would have sounded had Scott participated in its creation.

That being said…

It might sound egotistical of Todd to say what he said, but given the ways things could have gone, I think he’s right. Had he not come along, we would have gotten a 25th-anniversary re-recording of Operation: Mindcrime that would have fallen far short of the original (see: Geoff Tate’s ca. 2011 voice and possibly Kelly Gray on guitar), and God only knows what would have followed. I’m just one guy, but given the choice, I would take what we got instead of what we could have gotten, even with as much as it’s changed in the last 4 years.

“Fly, fighting fair, it’s the code of the air….”

December 20, 2019

(Knight’s Cross mention added, per Borepatch in comments, who had a great post on this a few years ago.) 

76 years ago today, on December 20, 1943, an act of uncommon valor — a textbook demonstration of the warrior code — occurred in the skies over World War II Germany.

On that day, the 379th Bomb Group flying B-17s out of RAF Kimbolton went on a bomb run targeting a Focke-Wulf fighter aircraft plant just outside of Bremen. One of the pilots was Second Lieutenant Charles Brown, flying a B-17 christened “Ye Olde Pub.”  Brown’s B-17 was initially positioned toward the edges of the aircraft formation, but he was moved up to the front after several bombers had to turn back for mechanical issues. Shortly before the run, Brown’s plane sustained severe damage from flak and German fighters and fell toward the rear of and away from the formation. (Brown actually lost consciousness for a short period of time and almost crashed the plane before he recovered.) The stricken aircraft was spotted by several people on the ground, including Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Franz Stigler, who took off and caught up with Brown and his crew in short order. At that point, Stigler had shot down 22 B-17s in the war; just one more would have earned him a Knight’s Cross, Germany’s highest military award at the time.

But once Stigler caught up with Brown and his crew in his Bf-109, he was struck by the fact that they weren’t firing back at him or trying to evade him. He flew closer to the plane and saw the gravely injured crew through the gaping holes in the airframe, and Brown giving everything he had trying to keep the plane in the air. Stigler said later that with the condition of the plane and the crew, shooting at Brown’s plane would have been like shooting at a man in a parachute, and that he thought of what one of his former commanding officers told him: “If I ever see or hear of you shooting at a man in a parachute, I will shoot you myself….You follow the rules of war for you, not for your enemy. You fight by the rules to keep your humanity.”

Stigler tried but failed to get Brown’s attention and get him to land in Sweden; nevertheless, he escorted Brown out of German airspace past the fearsome, formidable defenses of the Atlantic Wall to the North Sea, saluted, and turned back for home. Brown and his crew made it back to base, where they were debriefed; their commanding officer said something to the effect of, “Yeah, you don’t say a word about this to anyone.” Stigler, for his part, told no one, least of all his commanding officers; he would likely have been executed for such an act. It was probably nothing less than divine providence that none of the Atlantic Wall gunners figured out what Stigler was doing, for if they had, they would almost certainly have shot him down.

Fast forward a little more than four decades. From Wikipedia:

“In 1986, the retired Lt. Col. Brown was asked to speak at a combat pilot reunion event called a ‘Gathering of the Eagles’ at the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Someone asked him if he had any memorable missions during World War II; he thought for a minute and recalled the story of Stigler’s escort and salute. Afterwards, Brown decided he should try to find the unknown German pilot.  

“After four years of searching vainly for US Army Air Forces, U.S. Air Force and West German Air Force records that might shed some light on who the other pilot was, Brown had come up with little. He then wrote a letter to a combat pilot association newsletter. A few months later he received a letter from Stigler, who was now living in Canada. ‘I was the one,’ it said. When they spoke on the phone, Stigler described his plane, the escort and salute, confirming everything that Brown needed to hear to know he was the German fighter pilot involved in the incident.”

Stigler and Brown finally met in person in 1990 and became best friends for the rest of their lives; they died within a few months of each other in 2008. 

A book about the encounter, Adam Makos’ A Higher Call, was published in 2012, and it is an excellent book, one I absolutely cannot recommend highly enough. Sabaton bassist Pär Sundström, as the band was researching & writing songs for their 2014 album Heroes, was made aware of the story, and he and singer Joakim Broden wrote this song about that incident.

It all came full circle sometime after the album came out, when the band was contacted by Franz Stigler’s daughter.

“Hey guys. My son is a big fan of your band.”

Stigler’s grandson actually got to meet the band not long after.

“No Bullets Fly” was my most-played song on Spotify this year. Rather fitting, I suppose, as the Adam Makos book (at least so far) has been my favorite book that I have read this year. 

Monday music musings, 18.11.19

December 2, 2019

Not really too much I can say about the recent CMA Awards. They mirror the decline of mainstream country still. But I will say this:

Maren Morris winning Album of the Year was not any kind of win for Texas or Red Dirt music. Way too many people who ought to know better give her a pass because of her being from here. And they defend her by saying, “red dirt didn’t give her a chance, do you blame her for going to Nashville?” Well, no, but none of that makes the music suck any less. I will say that I thought the Highwomen album was surprisingly good and would be happy to see it win next year.

Watch it not even be nominated though.

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Recently on Reddit, some random made the argument that Johnny Cash was better than George Strait, and they cited the number of songs Cash had that crossed over to the pop chart. Which, frankly, I don’t understand in the least, because the number of crossover songs or albums for any artist in any genre is essentially not really worth that much when it comes to assessing said artist’s greatness because crossover success for any particular work isn’t worth that much when assessing said work’s greatness.

To use an example from another genre, Metallica crossed over like nobody’s business with the self-titled Black Album and the singles from it. We probably won’t see anything like that ever again. But was it the best thing they ever did? Nope. Was it among the best metal albums ever made? Not really. It was a fine hard rock album, one I will gladly admit to liking, but I could name a ton of metal albums from my iTunes library alone that were better (including all the albums Metallica recorded before that), from Black Sabbath’s Paranoid right on up to Sabaton’s The Art of War.

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Speaking of Sabaton…good Lord. I had heard of them some time ago and knew what they did, but it just didn’t appeal to me at first for some reason. I think it was Joakim Broden’s gruff vocals. But then I heard “Fields of Verdun” on one of my Spotify mixes last summer…

…and it…just…clicked. In a really, REALLY big way. They are now one of my absolute favorite bands.