Archive for the ‘Print Articles’ Category


By Chris Shapiro
February 2016

A musician, like any writer, painter or performer, is a contributor to the culture in which he or she lives but few musicians become the coalescent voice of their culture. Glenn Frey was one such musician. His musical essence subconsciously became interwoven into the culture of his time through the songs he wrote and sang as an Eagle.

Frey’s position in the Eagles is undoubtedly cornerstone. He and co-founder Don Henley shared lead vocal duties as well as songwriting credits. Frey also mastered the guitar, performing classic solos on songs such as, “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “Already Gone,” played keyboards and created the memorizing harmonies the Eagles were known for with his backup vocals.

Frey provided this world with his love and commitment to the best music he could create.   In doing so, he related to the commonality in us all. He became the romantic with, “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” the hopeless romantic in, “Lying Eyes,” the faded cowboy in search of a second chance in, “Tequila Sunrise” and the rebel in, “Outlaw Man.”

One listen to “Take it Easy” and you can’t help but feel the down to earth tone of Frey’s voice.   He feels like a longtime friend who happens to be speaking to you through your radio instead of in-person. He’s there encouraging and cheering us on with his victory song, “Already Gone.”

Frey resonates a degree of trustworthiness much like a dependable ol’ 55 Chevy. When faced with an emotion brought about from one of life’s grab-bags, there’s a song of Frey’s to provide the needed ambience.   Down the highway of life his is the familiar voice on the radio. His songs walk with us, struggle with us, love with us and ultimately endure with us.

A candle can only burn so long as it has wax to feed the flame. A song can’t pass from the top 40 charts and live through the generations unless it has a substance to sustain it. The Eagles knew this and Frey made sure they delivered it.

Frey and the Eagles didn’t achieve the status quo of the musical landscape of the 1970’s. They redefined it. They acquired top-ten singles spanning from their 1972 debut album to 1979’s The Long Run hitting Billboard’s Holy Grail number one position five times.

But it’s not the chart successes, tens of millions of records sold, or even the 6 Grammy Awards that made the Eagles America’s band.   It was the content of their songs and the content grew out of their exposure to and consumption of American culture.

The Eagles could be thought of as a mirror held up into the face of American culture allowing it to self-reflect. They saw what was working and what wasn’t and reflected it unabashed and untainted directly back to the source. In doing so, they provided a reference point for society.

The Eagles evaluated culture fairly and thoroughly from a shared perspective. They could be extremely pinpointed and refined on specific aspects within the culture such as in, “King of California” or they could tackle the landscape as a whole as evident in, “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane.”

Frey and Henley’s approach to songwriting set them apart from their competition. Even their love songs, such as the classic, “Best of My Love,” were serious and adult themed as they focused on the relationship between a man and a woman rather than lust filled lyrics focused on sex.

As songwriters, Frey and the Eagles were true and serious in their reflections and messages delivered in their songs.   The majority of pop songs both past and present are juvenile in their lyrics as they are meant to appeal to a wide audience. Yet, when you get down to it, Frey and the Eagles were adults and of an intellectual caliber that blew other musicians and bands of the time right off the charts.

From the Eagles, there wasn’t so much a feeling of trying to be role models or leaders as it was they were trying to be honest with themselves and their fans. You hear about that honesty in Frey’s golden classic, “New Kid in Town.”

Frey and Henley were the cornerstones of the band but they didn’t create the sound or the songs of the Eagles single handedly. After all, it was a band with very talented members, who are pillars within the music industry in their own right. The Eagles even collaborated with the talented songwriters J.D. Souther and Jack Tempchin.  The songs created says something of the men responsible for them.

An Eagle has sadly fallen. Yet, not all is lost.   The Phoenix first had to fall from the sky before it could rise from the ashes and return to flight. It’s now time for Frey’s music to inspire the next generation of singers and songwriters to take flight.

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Shapiro

 

Chris Shapiro
September 2014

The first note of “Rock and Roll Band” electrifies that part of your brain that made you a Boston fan in the first place. Hearing it live is like hearing it for the first time even though you’ve pressed play so many times you can hear the guitars in your sleep.

Hearing Boston’s music live and feeling its power as it echoes out into the summer evening charges the atoms in your being. It’s as though Scotty has beamed you aboard the U. S. S. Enterprise only there’s been a reassignment and you’re onboard the Boston spaceship.

It’s a journey like no other. (more…)


ShapiroChris Shapiro
March 2014

From the first chords of “Heaven on Earth,” it is immediately recognizable that this song comes from a Boston album.

It’s not because of the amazing vocal harmonies, the freight train powered guitar riffs, lyrically moving songs or the atmospheric soaring guitar solos.  Sure, those are the components of the songs on the album but that’s not what makes Life, Love & Hope a Boston album.

You see, what makes a Boston album a Boston album is very much what makes a Mercedes-Benz a Mercedes Benz.

When a person purchases a Mercedes-Benz E Class, S Class or any model for that matter, they’re not just buying a steering wheel, seats, the metal frame or the engine but they are buying the entire package.  A package sealed with the star emblem on the hood that lets it be known to the world the vehicle meets the standard of Mercedes. 

With the star on the hood, that seal, a client is not just buying a car, they’re buying innovation dating back to 1886.  They’re buying into the leading auto manufacturer of performance and safety.  They are getting over 80,000 patented inventions with their purchase.  They’re buying a level of quality in a class of its own. 

So is the same when you purchase a Boston album.  You’re not buying a corporate rock album conceived and packaged by men in business suits who care more about the bottom line than the track listing. (I should note that I don’t know if Tom Scholz wears suits while recording his albums but you get my drift). (more…)


By Chris Shapiro
October 2012

Susanna Hoffs’s latest solo album, Someday, is a cheerful, organically created master-piece that exhibits music in its truest form.

Susanna Hoffs
Photo credit: Rebecca Wilson

Someday is the best showcase of Hoffs’s peaceful vocals since 1988’s “Eternal Flame.”  Coupled with vivid lyrics, her vocals paint images so clearly the listener could get up and walk around in the worlds created.

There is no heavy usage of sound effects or computer post-production work in the creation of Someday.  Here musicians gathered and played as one group to create the magic that is music.

On the advice of her produced, Mitchell Froom, Hoffs recorded Someday in the spirit of 1960’s recording with the entire band playing together in the studio in an attempt to create music that was in the moment.

There’s a synergy in the songs as a result.  Hoffs and her fellow musicians were able to create music that was living verse produced.   Music is a spiritual expression that takes on a life of its own when musicians are willing to pour their spirit into their work. (more…)


By Chris Shapiro / September 2012
I’ve done interviews with rock stars before.  Air Supply, George Thorogood, Lita Ford and Curly Smith of Boston are just a few of the artists I’ve had the opportunity of interviewing.  While each interview was exhilarating for me, being a diehard fan of classic rock, they were conducted in a mutual meeting place.  They were done in a press room, side of the stage, or over the phone.  Yet, when I interviewed Eddie Money on Labor Day at Conneaut Lake, the interview experience expanded into a new realm of major importance.

Rock legend Eddie Money

The window of opportunity for my interview fell between 7:15pm and 7:30pm.  Money had a meet and greet at 7:30pm and would take the stage at 8:00pm.

At 7:00pm, I tried calling the promoter, Eddie Panuntti, to see if the interview was still a go.  His phone was off.  I tried again at 7:15pm.  Pannutti answered and told me he would call back in five minutes.  Sure enough in five minutes my phone rang and I was told to meet Pannutti backstage next to the tour bus.

“He’s getting ready,” Pannutti told me.  We talked a few moments about the summer and other concerts.  He then disappeared into the bus to check on the status of things.  He reappeared seconds later waving me toward the bus.

“This him?” Lee Beverly, Money’s bass player, asked as I approached. Pannutti nodded and Lee extended his hand.

“I’m Lee,” he introduced himself.

I shook his hand and introduced myself.  I didn’t look back as the bus door closed behind me but I could sense the feeling that I had just broken through a barrier. When my feet arrived at that top step, I knew I had left the fan world behind and entered into the world of Rock ‘n Roll. (more…)


By Chris Shapiro:

As I sit in my dorm room the night before beginning my senior year of college, I find myself reflecting upon my freshman year.  Many things have changed.  People have come and gone in my life like water running over boulders in a stream.  Yet, the one thing, the one constant in my life has been the music in my life.

When I began my freshman year, I packed four albums: Van Halen’s 5150, Huey Lewis and the News Greatest Hits, Bob Seger’s Greatest Hits  and Boston’s Third Stage.

Photo Credit: Bob Summers Photography

Boston was the first band I identified with.  It was about the 8th or 9th grade when my mother brought home their debut album.  If I could go back and count all the times I’ve played the songs on that album, I would have a multi-platinum record myself.

I didn’t know it at the time, but Boston was shaping me into who I am today.  It sparked the love I have for music.  How I act, live my life and even how I view the world, comes from the influences I receive from music and the artists behind the music.  For me, it was, and always will be, Boston that planted my feet in the world of music.

Now, I could go on and list all the achievements and milestones that Boston carved in the music industry but those are just facts.  They don’t tell you the “who” behind Boston or, more importantly, the “what” that Boston stands for.  Here, I’m going to make an in-depth study of what Boston truly is.

When we look at the “who” behind Boston, it’s Tom Scholz.  Master Musician.  Genius.  Engineer.  Basketball Player.  Guitarist.  Inventor.  All these describe the man who is the backbone of Boston.

How many rock stars earned their degree at MIT? How many song writers have penned timeless hits that are just as popular as they were thirty years ago?  How many musicians will be willing to spend six years creating a single album making sure every sound is engineered perfectly?  There’s only one name that fits the bill: Tom Scholz. (more…)


By Chris Shapiro
July 2012

Geoff Downes original member of The Buggles and Asia. Photo by Patzi Earnshaw. Used with permission

Rock history is filled with men and women who have pioneered their way by original means.  Geoff Downes is a man to whom several chapters in the history of Rock ‘n Roll must be dedicated to.  He had the first music video ever played on Music Television, was the keyboardist for the influential rock band Yes and an original member of one of the most successful superstar bands of the 1980’s, Asia.  Even today, history is still in the making for Downes with chapters waiting to be written.

On the road this year with both Yes and Asia, Downes says he enjoys playing older Yes songs that he didn’t have a chance to play when he was in the band in the early 80s.

“I’m playing with both, two really, quite different bands, even though, you know, two members are common to each band.  I think that Yes is a very different kind of music and I’m really enjoying playing some of the old Yes songs that I didn’t play when I was in the band thirty years ago because their very challenging and I didn’t realize, you know when you study them in more depth, what a great piece of music they are,” Downes said. (more…)