Special Sub-Topic: Ace Alex: Great Musicians Called Alex
|Alex Harvey fronted a Scottish act whose debut album was "Framed", followed by "Next!". They had a top ten single in the UK with a cover of Tom Jones' "Delilah" in 1975. What adjective did the band use to describe themselves? "The ___________ Alex Harvey Band". Fill in the gap. |
Sensational. Pigeonholing The Sensational Alex Harvey band as a glam band does them little justice since they incorporated rock, cabaret, blues and jazz in their repertoire.
Their larger-than-life leader Alex Harvey was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1935. After sharpening his teeth in skiffle bands in the 1950s, he toured at home and abroad (not just jaunts to England) playing jazz and blues in Alex Harvey's Big Soul Band.
His big break came through his involvement in the London stage musical "Hair" in the late 1960s where he honed his dramatic talents, something he used in The Sensational Alex Harvey Band to great effect.
He formed The Sensational Alex Harvey Band in 1972 and although they remained an underground treasure in the US, in Europe they carved out a decent career through the 1970s and are remembered fondly.
Alex died in 1982 aged just 48 of heart failure.
|Alex Chilton's first brush with fame came when he was vocalist for The Box Tops, who had a huge international hit in 1967. What is the name of the song, which opened with the line "Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane"? |
The Letter. Alex Chilton's career peaked commercially at the tender age of 16 with the Box Tops hit "The Letter", and although it's a great track, considering Chilton's brilliant discography it's somewhat unfair that his legacy rests on such an early effort. The Box Tops had other hits, but after four years together they disbanded.
A year later Chilton formed Big Star with Chris Bell and the first incarnation lasted until 1974 and yielded three albums, of which only two were released at the time. The first album had the rather ambitious title "#1 Record", an overconfidence that might be seen as a curse by the superstitious as it sold poorly, as did its follow-up "Radio City". Lack of public interest led the record label to give up on the act and not even release the third album known as "Third/Sister Lovers". The band split, the trio of releases were relaunched a few years later, but to little fanfare.
It wasn't until the 1980s that renewed interest in the band began to gather moss, mostly through musicians dropping the name in interviews, and their albums finally found an audience. Unfortunately, it was too late for Chris Bell who had died in a car accident years earlier.
Chilton died in 2010 aged 59 years old. Following the break-up of Big Star he'd had a fascinating solo career, done some production, collaborated on a myriad of projects, and reformed Big Star.
|This drumming Alex was born in The Netherlands in 1953. He and his family moved to California in 1962 where he formed a hard rock band with his guitar-wielding brother Edward in 1972. By 1974, the band had adopted the brothers' surname as the moniker. What is that surname and band name?|
Van Halen. Alexander Arthur Van Halen was born in The Netherlands in 1953, but his family relocated to California when he was still a youth.
He and his guitar-wizard brother Eddie formed Van Halen in 1974, and their breathtaking eponymous debut hit the shelves in 1978. It was a hit, and stands as one of the most influential hard rock albums of all time, ushering in cheeky, showy heavy rock/metal with well-crafted songwriting and a crisp, sharp sound that has been much-copied but rarely equalled.
Follow-up opus "Van Halen II" carried on in much the same vein and the act swiftly rose to super-stardom. By "1984" there was trouble in the ranks, leading to extravagant front-man David Lee Roth's departure, but the band have carried on and managed to ride the coming and going of fads that deemed them outdated.
Van Helsing is the surname of the fictional vampire hunter in Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula".
Van Eyck is a Dutch surname. The most famous Van Eycks were a family of painters, the best known being Jan van Eyck.
Vandenberg is another Dutch surname. Guitarist Adrian Vandenberg had a band called Vandenberg.
|Alexis Clair Snouffer (aka Alex St Clair) was a school friend of both Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart. He played on the Captain's debut album, released in 1967. The album contained "Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do", "Electricity", "Yellow Brick Road" and "Abba Zaba". What's the name of the album?|
Safe As Milk. A proto-Magic Band featuring our Alex (born Alexis Clair Snouffe) existed before Captain Beefheart (then still known as Don Vliet) joined, although Vliet had already taken control of the reins by the time of the debut album and changed the line-up. Part of the change was shifting Alex from drums to guitar.
Rather like Picasso, Beefheart and the Magic Band had quite distinct periods and everybody should have his/her favourite. "Safe As Milk" falls clearly into the blues period, although there are clear hints of the weirdness that was to come, and I doubt blues purists place it high on their lists of must-hear albums. It hardly set the world aflame on its release, but did send ripples across the pond and caught the attention of some quite influential folk, John Lennon being just one of its instant fans.
Our Alex was also on the follow-up, "Strictly Personal"(1968), which has had an odd life due to fallings out over effects allegedly added at a later date. In fact, various versions of the songs recorded for the second album project have popped up all over the place, making it a bit tricky to document. St. Clair left the Magic band shortly after its release and never recorded with the Captain again.
Our Alex died in 2006.
The wrong choices all came out the same year as "Safe As Milk". "Are You Experienced" was The Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut, "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" is by Pink Floyd, and " A Whole New Thing" is by Sly and the Family Stone.
|Alex Turner is best known as singer/guitarist in Sheffield band Arctic Monkeys, but in 2007 he started another project with members of Simian Mobile Disco and The Rascals to run alongside Arctic Monkeys. What name did they choose for this new act?|
The Last Shadow Puppets. The Last Shadow Puppets debut album, "The Age of the Understatement" came out in 2008 and was a huge success, both commercially and critically, as you would expect for a super-group featuring late-2000s-man-of-the-moment Alex Turner.
Nevertheless, it's a brilliant bit of work, and has Turner proving his lyrical insight goes beyond a mere humourous critique of British culture.
The Rascals' singer Miles Kane is equally impressive, and the pair's shared love of artists such as Scott Walker, and covers (released as singles) of Billy Fury and Bowie songs gets them into a mood rarely heard in their "full-time" bands.
|Alex Skolnick joined thrash band Testament when they were still called Legacy. After a name change, Testament released their debut in 1987 and it became an instant classic amongst thrash metal fans. What is the debut album called? |
The Legacy. Oft-overlooked, Testament were at one point challenging the big cheeses of thrash metal but fell foul to line-up changes and missed out on the big time, yet lost underground kudos by appearing to hanker after it. Taken at face value however, they have produced some top-notch metal albums.
Alex Skolnick joined Testament when they were still called Legacy and brought with him some serious guitar skills, having been taught by Joe Satriani. By the first album the line-up was fairly stable and featured new recruit Chuck Billy on vocals, whose huge stature was matched by a massive voice. It was an instant hit amongst thrash fans hungry for the latest sounds, and the band managed to get on a European tour supporting Anthrax, a band who'd made their name supporting Metallica just a year earlier.
The band went from strength to strength over the next few years, but fell on fallow ground in the early 1990s when grunge ruled the roost. Our Alex left, hoping to explore more melodic avenues (he'd always been a jazz fanatic), but the band trudged on.
By 2001 Alex was back in the fold, managing to juggle a variety of projects simultaneously.
|Alex Gifford is famed as half of Propellerheads, an English electronic band who had a hit single in 1997 with "History Repeating". It featured a powerful performance from a Welsh singer known for her James Bond theme songs "Goldfinger", "Diamonds Are Forever" and "Moonraker". Who was the Propellerheads' special guest? |
Shirley Bassey. In the late 1990s Propellerheads were about as hip as hip can get and even folk who don't usually listen to electronic music seemed to get it. They managed to blend a cool movie soundtrack sound with big fat beats, and jazzy swing.
Early on in their career (1997) they were remixing James Bond theme tunes, and then provided Bond film "Tomorrow Never Dies" with a track too. The circle was complete when they got to work with Dame Shirley Bassey on "History Repeating".
Sheena Easton provided the theme tune to "For Your Eyes Only" (1981). Sheena is Scottish, not Welsh.
Nancy Sinatra did the theme for "You Only Live Twice" (1967). She's not Welsh either.
Charlotte Church is Welsh, in fact both Dame Bassey and Charlotte are from the capital city, Cardiff.
|Alexander Hacke has been a long-serving member of German industrial/avant-garde band Einstürzende Neubauten, joining in 1980 when he was just fifteen years old. What the heck does Einstürzende Neubauten mean in English anyway?|
Collapsing new buildings. Our Alex joined Einstürzende Neubauten when he was just 15, quite incredible considering the intellectual gravitas of the band's raison d'etre. Intellectual genius or typical teenage lad let loose with a pneumatic drill? Whatever the answer, he ended up in a band at the cutting edge of music, way ahead of their time and destined to be on the tip of the tongue of the trendiest of music fans for decades.
First album "Kollaps" (1981) is not easy listening and rather raw even by Einstürzende Neubauten's standards. It didn't get much easier on "Zeichnungen des Patienten O. T./ Drawings of Patient O.T.", but by "Halber Mensch/ Half Man" in 1985 the band had become (moderately) accessible, a move that endeared them to fans who were desperate to support their efforts but couldn't bear to listen to apparently ad hoc screaming over recordings made at building sites.
The band have since won the hearts of many a serious music fan, and have maintained their reputation as the kings of cool through incidents such as being thrown off a U2 tour, leaving record labels to go it alone, and getting founding member Blixa Bargeld to give up his day-job with Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds to concentrate on the serious business of art.
|In 1998, Blur's bassist Alex James joined comedian Keith Allen in novelty act Fat Les to record the "hooligan's anthem", "Vindaloo", as a single. It reached number two in the UK chart, beaten by "Three Lions '98". For what occasion was the song recorded? |
1998 Football World Cup (in France). Fat Les was put together by actor/comedian Keith Allen, artist Damien Hirst, and Alex James especially for the 1998 Football World Cup, and the song "Vindaloo" caught on quickly amongst football fans, despite being an unofficial anthem. In fact, it was much more popular than the official anthem, "(How Does It Feel to Be) On Top of the World?" by England United, which everybody ignored.
For the 2000 UEFA European Football Championship Fat Les came up with a version of Sir Hubert Parry's "Jerusalem" (words taken from a William Blake poem).
For the 2012 London Olympics the band name changed to Fit Les and featured Rowetta Satchell of Happy Mondays fame blasting her lungs out.
|Alex Lifeson is guitarist in Canadian three-piece hard rock band Rush. What did Rush say goodbye to on their fifth studio album? "A Farewell To ________"? Fill in the gap.|
Kings. "A Farewell to Kings", Rush's fifth album, came out in 1977 and couldn't have been more at odds with the punk explosion if it had tried with two songs clocking in at over ten minutes long, but still managed to capture the imagination of the record buying public and did very nicely for the lads. It has since become one of the band's most popular albums, appealing to both hardcore fans and fly by nights. Even some punks liked it, albeit behind closed doors.
Alexandar Zivojinovich, aka Alex Lifeson, is a founding father of the legendary Canadian band Rush and the band's sound is deeply indepted to him, as is progressive hard rock as a genre. He can play just about anything stringed and more, and has done so over the band's prolific career. He's also managed to fit in other stuff including flying planes and opening a restaurant.
Alex Lifeson has won numerous awards for his inventive playing and often appears on lists of greatest guitar players of all time. Quite right too.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction