A Dynamite Vineyards Red Hills Cabernet and the Scorpions Blackout
This is one of those pairings that was truly “way to literal” to be much of an intriguing success, but it’s also way to literal to go with much of anything else, so there you have it, Deep Purple meet Deep Purple.
The Lodi Californian Zinfandel is a truly tasty Zin and if I’m not mistaken, it is the first Zin that I’ve paired here on Vinyl Pairings. I guess this makes it fairly obvious that Zinfandels are not the first types of wine that I go for. Luckily, this one caught my eye for obvious reasons and I had to give it a shot and pair it up with one of the most classic rock and roll albums of all time.
Still to this day, I have to imagine, that anyone starting to learn how to play guitar is bound to start with a riff from this album. “Smoke on the Water” is still one of the first things anyone interested in rock guitar learns how to play. It’s pretty much the vowels and nouns of guitar chords.
For such obvious reasons we’ll keep this blog short and sweet. The Zin is divine and the Machine Head is sublime. It doesn’t get much better for anyone looking for a tasty Zinfandel and some classic heavy rock and roll.
Cheers Everyone! Until the next cork is popped. Hope to see you soon my friends!
A Tres Rios Añejo Tequilla & 1981’s “Too Fast For Love” by Mötley Crüe
Tonight’s pairing comes to you, in big part, thanks to Mr Vince Neil of Mötley Crüe. Vince has taken upon himself to go into the tequilla business! (as many rockers do these days) We decided it was time to give his Tres Rios a try while we blow the doors down with Mötley Crüe’s debut album Too Fast For Love. Crank! It! Up!
In November of 1981 when Too Fast For Love began to circulate in Los Angeles, no one had ever heard anything quite like it. Like em or not, the Crüe did define a generation and played a major part in birthing the LA metal seen that followed in the 1980’s. This is the album that started it all.
Too Fast For Love took the punk rock attitude of bands like the New York Dolls and gave it a glam metal sheen that was pure LA. They really could have easily called the band the “LA Dolls” at this point in my opinion.
It’s another one of those band debuts that just screams hunger. It’s a no holds barred, take no prisoners, leave no man standing, album of angst and aggression. Put it into a blender with the attitude of punk, add some big 80’s hair, a touch of leather, some lipstick and makeup, mix it all up and what you’ve got is pure Motley.
My opinion of this album when it first came out was that of “what tha?!”, it was like being blind sided with something so new that you weren’t even really sure how to categorize it. It was as much a punch in the face as Nirvana’s Nevermind was some ten years later. “Too Fast For Love” signaled the rise in popularity of the metal scene in LA just as Nirvana skyrocketed the Seattle scene onto everyone’s radar a decade later.
As for the Tequilla, this is a special limited run numbered bottle and I was lucky enough to find bottle number 094604-C from batch 2001. 100% Pure Agave Añejo Tequilla produced in Mexico. Let me just start by saying, it would be a sin to shoot this tequilla and an even bigger sin to mix it into any kind of mixed drink. This is a tequilla worthy of a slow sip and savor. Keep a little lime and salt on hand to compliment it, but to just throw it into the back of your mouth and swallow it without savoring it, well in my opinion you’d be missing out on the divine decadence that is the Tres Rios Añejo.
“Aged to perfection after eighteen months in charred wooden barrels, this Tequila displays a deep, intense caramel color that embodies its complexity. The unmistakable taste of sweet vanilla and smoke imparted by the ageing enhances the original fruit. The result of this exclusive technique is a complex taste, balance, and character that form a symphony for the taste buds.” – http://www.tequila.net/tequila-reviews/anejos/tres-rios-tequila-anejo.html
The 180 gram reissue pressing that I garnered for this pairing is much like many of the 180’s that are coming out these days, it may not have the same depth of some of the original pressings, but it’s far superior to my older thrashed copy from the 1980’s. Pretty much with any 180 gram reissue you get these days, while well worth having if you’re a serious fan of the album, they do typically lack something that the original pressings had. Maybe it’s generational, maybe it’s digital remastering, maybe both; nonetheless, any fan of this album that doesn’t have a copy on vinyl will do quite well with this reissue. The Crüe reissued all of their early catalog on 180 gram a few years ago and they’re not too hard to find but they are becoming a bit more and more scarce as the days go by. Such is one of the groovy things about vinyl. It is a finite resource.
Bringing together the music of Mötley Crüe and the tequilla creation Vince has imparted to us was a great time. Sipping tequilla and jamming to some Crüe is a fine way to get a party going indeed. Here’s to the Agave plant, here’s to the Crüe and here’s to you!
A 2009 Bodega Norton Malbec & 1981’s For Those About To Rock by AC/DC
A wine that starts with a little smack of graphite deserves a vinyl that also careens with a smack of metal and ends with the thunderous rock and roll of cannons, Angus Young’s guitar and the rest of the boys from down under that are AC/DC.
This Norton Malbec is a stout and hearty malbec grape with deep red color and hints of purple. Expressive on the nose with notes of ripe black fruits, violets, and tobacco. This wine has round and sweet tannins, ripe red fruit and figs followed by a long finish. “With a serious, generous opening of graphite, cassis and wild berry aromas, this Malbec is in good shape. It feels full, round and just right, with dark berry, spice and licorice flavors playing off one another. It’s sweet, ripe, dense and a touch woody on the finish.” 90 Points – Wine Enthusiast
As for the AC/DC, well we are all indeed about to rock. The vinyl pictured in this pairing is showing its age and certainly the amount of time it spent getting handled is apparent on the sleeve. A little worse for wear but the ragged shape of the cover only helps to compliment the blazing hard rock that was melted into these grooves. I can still remember the day this album came out. I rode my bicycle down the road to the Fred’s dollar store and bought it. I couldn’t wait to get back home in eager anticipation of the rock and roll that was within and once I did, the air guitar sessions began in earnest.
The AC/DC catalog is truly a testament to doing one thing and doing it really well. You will never hear a ballad from AC/DC, nor would you ever expect it. They are primal rock and roll, nothing less and nothing more.This album was the follow-up to the highly successful Back in Black (which we are sure to get around to pairing at some point, if not Dirty Deeds as well) but FTATR stands on its own as yet another masterpiece. The album became AC/DC’s first US No. 1 album and after its release the band embarked on its first arena tour of North America (late 1981 through early 1982). For the title track, large cannons were placed on stage, set to go off in accordance with the song on the album. Fire!
Well there you have it. A lovely hearty wine and a lovely heavy vinyl to get the weekend started off right. Here’s hoping you are indeed all about to rock!!
If so, we Salute You!!
We’re breaking out the classic metal tonight to pair with this super fine Pinot Noir from Castle Rock wineries. This particular Pinot is from Monterey County and it’s my understanding, now that I’ve done a bit of research, that there is another Pinot that they have released from Mendocino County that gets even higher marks than this one. That said, the Monterey County Pinot is in no way anything to turn your nose up at, although it does have a very sweet nose. Much sweeter than the flavor and palate of the wine. I could truly imagine this wine going quite well with an Italian family style feast or a hearty beef fillet.
Sad Wings of Destiny is the second album release by Judas Priest released in 1976. It’s a surprisingly blues infused album that has a crossover vibe with the operatic vocal stylings of Rob Halford and blues rock musical themes. There’s even a few songs that feature the piano predominantly. Not exactly what most people think of when you say Judas Priest.
When all these genre’s merge, what you have is a very diverse album compared to their later releases. I for one really appreciate the blues and classical influences of their early material. Long before the leather and studs, yes friends, Judas Priest, much like Black Sabbath, started as a blues band and for a period of time, these influences still had a strong presence in their music.
These lingering influences of the blues make for what is in my opinion some truly powerful music. Now, that’s not to say that their later music isn’t powerful. Quite the contrary, Judas Priest remains relevant even to this day as a powerhouse metal band still evolving and adapting with the times.
This particular edition of Sad Wings of Destiny is a brand new limited edition 180 gram gate fold reissue by Koch Records. It is an excellent pressing and has such a low noise floor that it truly allows you to crank this puppy up super loud and enjoy all of the stellar vinyl quality. One of the things that I love most about 180 gram reissues is the super low noise floor. When you break open one of these releases and place it on your turntable for the first time, in super clean form, the noise floor is superior to that of a compact disc. Truly not even in the same universe as an mp3 or streaming internet media. In short, it will spoil you fast!
Together these two products of stellar craftmanship provide for a premium rock and roll evening. So until next time, bottoms up everyone!
12 Year Old Hibiki Japanese Blended Whisky and a Japanese Import Edition of the Scorpions Tokyo Tapes
Delicious rays of whiskey gold from the eastern shores of Japan. While not the first locale that comes to mind when you think of great whiskey but let me just say; it truly should be. The legendary Hibiki represents true harmony. The enigma of perfection, the paragon of the art of whisky and the art of Japan’s artisans.
Hibiki, meaning resonance in Japanese, speaks to the soul and emotions of the most discerning whisky lover. Hibiki resonates from nature, and all the subtleties found from the twenty-four seasons of the old Japanese lunar calendar. Numerous types of pure single malt whiskies ageing in various types of casks, including Mizunara, a very rare Japanese oak, all combine to create a full orchestra of flavors and aromas.
I sampled the Hibiki neat, straight up to truly savor the craftsmanship that went into this blended art. I put on “Tokyo Tapes” as I usually do starting with side B of this 4 sided live behemoth of soulful classic metal. A song like “We’ll Burn the Sky” just kicks things off in the Scorpions spirit for me. I usually go back to side one before switching to the second vinyl. The only downside toi the Tokyo Tapes in my opinion is the rocibilly cover songs they threw into the live set. I mean I get the nostalgia but it’s the Scorpions man not Carl Perkins!
Uli Jon Roth’s early work in my opinion is probably best represented by this particular recording. I’m not as much a fan of the neo-classical, Yngwie like stylings he perfected after this era. I’m much more of a fan of this Hendrix esq bluesy era and I’ve got to admit, he’s one of the only guitarists that when I listen to his playing, I feel as though I can truly visualize exactly what he’s playing. Almost as if, I’ve played the parts myself. There’s not many guitarists that I relate to on this level. Essentially, this era of his playing is so much like what I aspire to do with the guitar and so similar to my own style that I can actually picture in my mind what and how he’s playing it. It’s a bit bizarre.
Anyway, enough of my Uli Jon Roth guitar visualizing. Back to the whiskey!
On the trivia side of things, any fan of the movie “Lost in Translation” may recognize the Hibiki as the whisky Bill Murray was hawking in the movie. As one of my favorite movies this only makes this whiskey that much hipper.
Upon taking my first sip of the 12-year-old Hibiki the first thing that came to mind was “Silk”. It’s truly a silky smooth vibe as this creation hits your palette and slides down the back of your throat. Then the kaleidoscope finish of flavors kick in. The woody hint of the barrels that reveal themselves slowly with a long finish that lasts for two or three minutes with clean and sweet notes predominant before a cool spiciness reminiscent of white pepper emerges towards the finish.
I actually own the original USA pressing of “Tokyo Tapes” but that copy is in such bad shape that I had to reinvest in another copy. I found this Japanese import gem using musicstack.com which is a great services for searching independent resellers of used vinyl and CD’s to find that special edition you might be looking for. I’ve ordered numerous times from various dealers and have had nothing but great experiences each time. This Japanese pressing of Tokyo Tapes is remastered and features a much cooler cover image, that of an embossed silver scorpion perched upon a rose. Way slicker than the American pressing that I grew up with. In terms of audio quality I have to lean towards the original pressing before the remaster. As with many reissue remasters, this one sounds a bit flatter and was probably digitized before it went back to the wax. So while this edition is truly a great looking package; I may need a third copy and just get a better conditioned US pressing to replace my old thrashed copy.
I truly can’t wait to try more of the Hibiki, this being the youngest aged whiskey they make, I can only imagine what the older vintages might reveal. Someday. Oh yes, someday soon my new Japanese friend Hibiki. we will meet again!
Resurrection Reserve California Merlot & Opeth’s – Heritage
The wine label for Resurrection was painted by Phil Galatas world champion wood-carver and artist who was inspired in his home state of Louisiana by hurricane Katrina. The reflection of the fleur-de-lis suggests the devastation from Katrina, while the top represents the re-birth and growth. The golden oak inside the fleur-de-lis represents the strength and endurance of the people of the gulf coast.
The album Heritage by Opeth represents a true departure from their normal metal fair and instead reflects a band with a serious amount of depth that has yet to be tapped.
In a review for Allmusic, Thom Jurek called Heritage the band’s most adventurous album, describing the songs as “drenched in instrumental interludes, knotty key and chord changes, shifting time signatures, clean vocals, and a keyboard-heavy instrumentation that includes Mellotrons, Rhodes pianos, and Hammond organs”.
Mixed by Stephen Wilson of Porcupine Tree, this album is considered by many to be part one in a trilogy of albums involving Wilson and Opeth guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt. This album being the first, Wilson’s album Grace for Drowning being the second (a phenomenal recording not to be missed) and the upcoming collaboration entitled Storm Corrosion which is now available for pre-order, being the third part of this trilogy of esoteric thought-provoking metal, jazz & rock. So far the trilogy is two for two in my book and I can’t wait to hear the third epic conclusion of this saga.
The double 180 gram gatefold vinyl truly focuses on rebirth and new beginnings as is also reflected in the label for the Resurrection Merlot. This album is haunting and enchanted, which in my opinion gives it a real New Orleans kind of vibe. A gothic legacy of progressive metal that strays into ancient realms with the addition of some truly spooky instrumental arrangements. If you want to focus in and look up one song that defines this album, have a listen to “Nepenthe” and you’ll have a true taste of what the vibe of this album is like. I’m just sorry I can’t link to what it sounds like on vinyl. Streaming youtube videos is hardly my choice for quality audio but for those unfamiliar with this band, it will at least help to give you a taste. Just remember, each and every track of this album provides a new layer of depth. It is an album to be appreciated as an album and not as individual songs cut up on a digital hard drive. If you’re not convinced by “Nepenthe”, another one to check out is “Famine” a song that truly reaches new metallic heights with its Jethro Tull like flute glissandos while lashing out like an early Black Sabbath locomotive.
There is always a deep embroidery of a family tree behind each and every one of us, yet the world around us continues to change and each of us continue to adapt to it. Heritage, while maybe a basis for all that we have come from in the past, also represents the potential and possibilities for what is in store for each of us down the road as well. What once was will be again. We are all but a branch of the same tree.
A smooth, rich, fruity, robust wine that is barrel aged with grapes from Sonoma County and paired with a robust and adventuresome album. I recommend them both!
Let us all drink to rebirth and continual growth!