Archive for Rock

The Majesty of Rock

Posted in Music, Rock with tags , on October 22, 2008 by pieman70

I noticed recently that AC/DC’s Back in Black is joint second best selling album in the world, joint with the Bodyguard soundtrack and beaten by Thriller. In the same band of over 40 million copies sold are Saturday Night Fever, The Best of the Eagles and The Dark side of the moon By Pink Floyd.

And you know what, while in the over 30million there are some of the newer pop acts, Shania Twain and Backstreet boys, we have to go pretty far down to get more of the big pop acts. I predict that more of the classic rock albums such as U2’s The Joshua Tree, Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell, Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Guns’n’Roses appetite for destruction will continue to climb where their pop companions will stay. Why is this. Because of those albums (And aside from the Joshua Tree) I bought all of those years after release. You see while Backstreet boy’s Millennium gained 30million sales in the years around its release, in nearly 30 years time will people still be buying it? Saturday Night Fever perhaps, the bodyguard soundtrack, a possibility, but if me and my contemporaries are anything to go by, and the kids I see around, people will be buying copies of Back in Black, Led Zeppelin’s IV and The White album by the Beatles for decades to come.

This is of course the lasting power of really good Rock, and the interest of the fans, that they pass their enthusiasm on. Interestingly enough my wife was sorting through our Mutual CD collection and she commented on the Number of Iron maiden Albums I owned. I replied that I had them all, and that in around 3 decades of recording they have produced a large volume of material. My wife is a huge Take That fan, but aside from them producing fewer albums, she has never really liked an artist to try and get all their stuff. Rockers are a different breed though, and the music is of a quality that in years to come I hope my kids will buy their own copies, or download, or mentally plug in to AC/DC’s Back in Black.

Long Live Rock and Roll.

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For those about to ROCK!

Posted in Games, Music, Rock with tags , , on March 3, 2008 by pieman70

There are several things that can make me buy a game, but there are 2 which can be almost guaranteed.

1. Unlockable content, I’m a real sucker for repeating the same tasks to see extra gubbins.
2. Zany peripherals, If I’d had a gamecube, I’d have bought Donkey Konga, a Saturn, Samba del amigo or whatever it was called. In fact I still yearn after a singstar set despite the game being pretty duff if not mixed with other people and copious amounts of booze.

One series that scratched both of these was Guitar hero. I mean not only is it a fun rhythm based game but it has unlockable content (Characters, tracks etc) and an absurd controller, plus the rock music I so dearly love.

I counted the original as my last extravagant purchase before responsible co-habiting life, and really enjoyed it.

There was some criticism from people that Guitar Hero was a bit sad, and that players of it should buy a guitar and learn for real. For gods sake, I’m playing a game. I know I can’t get up in front of a crowd and play Texas flood unless I have my comedy plastic guitar and a PS2. The amount of hostility from your common or garden bedroom guitar player was really surprising, what had guitar hero done to deserve such wrath? Did they think that people would just play guitar hero instead of taking up the guitar? is it one prop too many for air guitar? Are all these games ok but rock, particularly with a guitar shaped peripheral, is sacred?

I love rock like I love pies, and to me this was a great idea. Rockers could play a fun game, kind of air guitar with a score attached, while gamers would be introduced to a world of rock. Ok covers in GH1 but still I imagined gamers walking away thinking “I’d like to hear some Judas Priest” or “Man Boston are excellent” and indeed there were stories of players taking up the guitar. Still, the hate was confusing.

Guitar Hero 2 really just fixed the few problems in 1, adding co-op 2 player with one on bass and the encore system while still keeping the game’s rock themed humour made this so far the pinnacle of the series. Sadly disaster struck. Harmonix and Acclaim had a falling out. Harmonix went on to team up with MTV to produce Rock Band (More on that later) while Acclaim got Harmonix’s cooperation on Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s and hired Neversoft to do Guitar Hero III.

Rocks the 80s was good, exactly what I wanted, just more tracks with the guitar hero II engine, a few graphical tweaks but to be honest I was quite happy with just more songs, about the only issue was that, with reduced extended content the game was still sold initially at full retail. It just wasn’t value for money. Shame as I would have been quite happy with many expansions based around the GH2 engine (Its not like you’re coding much new) at around the £15 price point, and would have picked them up as, lets face it, having the controller I tend to want to use it so I’m a bit of a captive audience. Just started GHIII and I’m a Little put off. Its clear they wanted to make it more “Next Gen” or wanted some separation from Harmonix, perhaps Neversoft wanted their own stamp, but the look and feel of the game just doesn’t work as well. Still it has some killer tracks.

There was, however, competition this time around. Rock Band. This was a bold move by Harmonix and MTV, for starters it would have all songs by the real artist as opposed to Guitar Hero’s “Made famous by” majority. Also a full set (around $200 in the US) included 2 guitars, with 6 extra buttons for special sections, a mic for singing and a drum kit. The idea is that you and 3 friends can get together and play as a band, or you can play each part individually (a nice touch since the bass tracks in GHII were only available in 2 player co-op) Sadly my inner killjoy points out that in total I’ve played 2 player guitar hero 3 times. How often could I actually get 3 others to play rock band. Rock band also has an uphill struggle. See, quite a few people have guitar Hero SGs (The guitar peripheral) and while Rock Band may be the better game, we’ll most likely go for the one which we can buy at the cheaper solus price.

SO, what do I want from each company. For both, keep releasing on the PS2, you’ve got a userbase there who most likely now own 4 games for their controller, none of us are going to buy a PS3 to own a 5th. Although by all means release a PS3 version alongside your Wii and 360 ones. Also consider allowing other companies to make guitar based games using the SG or rock band guitars (Preferably compatible with both) having other dance games didn’t hurt Dance Dance revolution nor did other singing games dent singstar, so compatibility throughout.

Rock band – Open the game up to 3rd party controllers, give me a guarantee that my Guitar hero SG will work with rock band and I’ll probably buy it for more songs to play. hell I may even buy your mic as I hear with a stand you can sing and play guitar (If you are able to concentrate like that, apparently its not easy) preferably I could attach any PC voice Chat mic and I’d probably buy one of those and also use it for voice chat on my PC. Regardless if my two SGS were compatible I’d definitely buy Rock band when it becomes available.

Guitar Hero – More tracks in expansions. Similarly open up the SG so anyone can code a guitar game, allow compatibility with Rock band guitars as well and just give us a raft of extra tracks in expansions around the £15 point.

Keep this up and I’ll keep rockin.