Decibel Geek Podcast

When KISS decided to drop their trademark makeup in 1983, many fans from the band's 1970's glory years were perplexed when they saw a diminutive figure sitting next to Gene Simmons and loudly questioned, "Where's Ace?!" 

For the general music-buying public, the once Hottest Band in the Land had become a niche curiosity with dwindling popularity. Ever-changing lineups and forays into different genres had watered down the band and turned off many in their core audience. It stand to reason that many of KISS' old school fans weren't aware that Frehley himself had grown disenchanted with the group's direction and left the previous year.

With KISS' unmasking in 1983, many fans started wondering what happened to their favorite Spaceman and what his musical plans would be for the future. Our guest this week was instrumental in what happened next.

John Regan is commonly known amongst KISS fans as the bassist for Frehley's Comet but his resume tells a much bigger story. John was nice enough to talk to Chris & Aaron this week about his 30+ year career in the music industry, working with artists such as Ace Frehley, the Rolling Stones, and Peter Frampton

We start in 1980 with Regan's first meeting with Ace Frehley while collaborating on mutual friend "Crazy" Joe Renda's Variable Speed Band album that featured the quirky Frehley-penned single 'Eugene.' Regan shares how Renda and North Lake Sound Studios in White Plains, NY would continue to be crucial in the advancement of his musical career.

In this long-form discussion Regan shares how he first started working with Peter Frampton in 1982 and the marathon 3 day cram-session to learn Frampton's entire live set. This would mark the beginning of a friendship and musical bond that would bring the two together numerous times over the next three decades.

1985-86 would see Regan working with legendary artists such as David Bowie and Mick Jagger. In this discussion you'll hear his recollections of recording with the two for their 1985 duet of 'Dancin' in the Street' as well as his memories of working with the Rolling Stones during the sessions for the Dirty Work album. 

A bit of recording and touring in 1984 with Frehley would lay the foundation that Regan would return to in 1987 as Megaforce Records picked up Frehley's Comet and backed the new lineup featuring Frehley, Regan, drummer Anton Fig, and gutiarist/vocalist Tod Howarth. John shares his memories of the recording process for the album and the difficulties that came up after Fig was given the full-time job as the drummer for David Letterman's band. 

Regan shares his memories of working with Jamie Oldaker as the legendary drummer took over the drum stool in the Comet. Some Comet fans throughout the years have expressed resentment that Oldaker didn't "fit" the Frehley sound and, in this discussion, you'll hear Regan's reaction to that criticism.

Also in this long-form talk, Regan shares his thoughts on Eddie Trunk and his place in helping get Ace Frehley back into the public consciousness. "I don't think Ace would have got signed if it weren't for Eddie being the real force behind it."  Regan shares how Trunk was adamant about Frehley's potential and swayed Megaforce president Jon Zazula to give the former KISS axe-man a shot. He also shares, later in the interview, how he heard that Trunk has been telling Frehley that a Comet reunion would not be a good idea.

Regan also tells us his opinion of Second Sighting and how he thinks the Live +4 album that was shoehorned in between it and the debut may have sabotaged the band's potential growth. John also notes that the absence of Eddie Kramer behind the board may have hindered the album's sound but how there are also some shining moments as well.

1989 saw Frehley release Trouble Walkin'. With Kramer back behind the board and Richie Scarlet replacing Tod Howarth on guitar, the album had a grittier feel than the earlier Comet material and also did not bear the Comet tag. Regan explains why Howarth may have left the group and what went into the decision to not bill this lineup as Frehley's Comet.

We also ask Regan his opinion of claims made by Gordon Gebert in his KISS & Tell book that involve Regan producing Frehley-related live & greatest hits packages as a method for recouping money owed to him by Ace. 

Other topics touched on in this hour plus interview include Regan's work with artists such as Michael Monroe and David Lee Roth. We also ask John some listener questions that were sent in. 

There's a lot to get to in this discussion and we barely scratched the surface. John was a great sport and we really appreciate him appearing on the show. We hope you enjoy this talk.

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Crazy Joe & the Variable Speed Band

Peter Frampton


Ace Frehley

David Bowie

Mick Jagger 

Rolling Stones

Michael Monroe

David Lee Roth

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Direct download: Episode_82_-_John_Regan.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 12:37am EDT

No stories are more entertaining and thought provoking than war stories. The rock and roll equivalent to this is road stories. Our guest this week is a treasure trove of experience in the annals of rock history; especially KISSTORY as former KISS guitar tech Tom Harper joins us for a discussion that is a great look behind the scenes that most music lovers never get to see.

Tom is most commonly known among KISS fans as a guitar tech (Paul Stanley’s on the Dynasty tour) that was tasked with playing the bass track on the track Shandi from 1980’s Unmasked album. Before we get into what took place to lead Tom into replacing Gene Simmons on this poppy number, we go back to his roots.

Our discussion starts in Connecticut in the early 1960’s and Tom’s indoctrination into the world of rock and roll as he witnesses the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan show. The tv appearance that launched a million wannabe rock stars nabbed Tom hook line and sinker as he quickly joined a band that already had 40 original songs and was playing talent shows and local bars at an age where he should have not been allowed admission.

Tom shares stories of playing seedy clubs on the wrong side of New Haven, CT and witnessing bar brawls and stabbings while performing sets.

In this discussion, Harper also remembers seeing legendary performers such as Cream and Jimi Hendrix as they made their way through Connecticut on their ascent to the top of the charts as well as the image of seeing Hendrix light his guitar on fire first-hand.

In 1969 Tom’s musical interests shifted as he became seduced by the technical prog-rock sounds of YES and their dynamic bassist Chris Squire.

The early 70’s saw Harper join a hard-rock act named BUX and he shares his experiences of recording an album for Capitol Records with promise and seeing that promise dashed when their manager meets an untimely demise. This situation leaves Harper without a band or a job in the middle of New York City.

Through connections and a timely ad in the Village Voice, Harper winds up as an employee of SIR Rehearsal Studios in NYC. It would be through this job that his path would cross with the Hottest Band in the Land.

Soon after beginning work for SIR, Tom finds out that producer Eddie Kramer is enlisting the company to provide various Marshall studio heads for the Ace Frehley 1978 KISS solo album. Harper shares his recollection of how he ingratiated himself into KISS circles by providing top-notch maintenance for Kramer and Frehley during the recording process.

In this discussion, you’ll hear how Harper became friendly with KISS’ road crew and landed the job of being Paul Stanley’s guitar technician. You’ll hear about an awkward first meeting with the Starchild at the KISS Dynasty album cover shoot that made it clear that Harper would have to be on his toes while working for Stanley.

Tom also shares his memories of then-KISS road manager Fritz Postlethwaite and his chainsaw named Arthur that he would use to bring order in hotels on the road.

The KISS Dynasty tour of 1979 was a virtual city-on-wheels and in this discussion Harper shares how the pre-tour preparations and rehearsals had the crew on the brink of exhaustion. He also shares some interesting stories about some ill-fated laser effects that sounded great on paper but turned out to be a nightmare to execute.

The tour rolled through America with 8 trucks and a flying rig for Gene Simmons that was state-of-the-art. Harper shares memories of the massive size of the show as well as some problems that happened along the way as ticket sales did not live up to expectations for the tour.

Before we get to the Shandi discussion, we take a couple of interesting detours as Tom shares with us his memories of being the musical director for the Peter Criss Out of Control tour that wound up being cancelled due to poor album sales. A planned appearance on a famous late-night show was cancelled and the revelation takes us completely by surprise. Interesting stories about the Catman.

We also discuss Tom’s time working with Judas Priest; of whom he became friendly with as the opening band for KISS’ Dynasty tour. Great road stories of working with Priest over the years ensue and we ponder the question of just how Rob Halford could pull off 5 shows in a row with no rest for his voice on 1982’s Screaming for Vengeance tour.

We also briefly discuss Eric Carr’s KISS audition and Tom’s memories of the Carr as a drummer and as a person.

We finish things off with the Shandi discussion in which Tom tells us how he wound up playing on the track, his thoughts on KISS’ creative process, the poppy sound of the Unmasked album, and the professionalism of Vini Poncia. It’s a great story and one we’re thrilled to share with you.

As a special treat to our listeners, we outro the show with the basic track of Shandi as Tom recorded it that day in 1980. This version of the track features a guide vocal from Paul and a basic production and comes from Tom’s personal collection. We hope you enjoy this different sounding version of Shandi.

Tom Harper recently released an EP entitled Vintage UK. This 4 song EP features tracks that heavily inspired Tom in his musical journey from British Invasion artists of 1967-68 and is available at the links below. Clips from these songs were played throughout the episode. If you enjoyed it and want to hear more, pick it up!

Purchase on iTunes

Purchase on CDBaby

Website for Vintage UK

Direct download: Episode_81_-_Tom_Harper_-_A_Road_War.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 11:30pm EDT

Last week's look at the first half of 1979 showed quite a bit of variety inside the genre known as rock. The second half of the year would continue that trend. Some of rock's heavy hitters released albums in the second half of 1979. Some bands stayed the course and continued to churn out music that fit their sound and style while others attempted to capitalize on the radio success of disco and new wave.

Radio stations jumped all over the disco craze in 1979, relentlessly pushing more pop-oriented songs to the top of the charts while rock and metal continued to commercially take a back seat. But the general public was ready for change as we evidenced in July when Disco Demolition Night at Chicago's Comiskey Park quickly went from light-hearted promotion to all-out riot due to the overwhelming turnout of disco-hating music fans ready to destroy albums by the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, and many others.

We take a look at the list of big singles of 1979, talk about Disco Demolition and play musical choices from big albums released by AC/DC and a very different-sounding version of Rainbow.

August of 1979 saw Led Zeppelin performing their final British shows (until 2007) in a 2 night stand in front of nearly 400,000 people. We head into our first break with a clip from the divisive and experimental sounding In Through the Out Door album.

We head into September with the news that U2 heads into a local studio to begin their first recordings and Chris shares a funny story about an awkward fan interaction with Bono at a concert. 

Good rock and roll was coming from Canada in 1979 with bands like Helix & Trooper releasing albums. Aaron's choice of a track from Trooper involves using math to size up a girl's looks. Trust us, it'll make sense when you hear it.

Also included in our discussion of September is Judas Priest's Unleashed in the East album, Cheap Trick using more orchestration on their Dream Police album, and the Eagles releasing another massive album that flew off record store shelves.

October brought yet another release from Lemmy and co. as Motorhead brought forth the Bomber album. And they wouldn't be done as is mentioned later in the show. Also included from October is a bluesy selection from Whitesnake's Lovehunter album and a quick discussion about the arousing album cover.

Before we get into November of 1979 Aaron reads off a list of the top television shows of the year and helps cement the theory that there really wasn't as much competition as their is now for viewers. That said, the unintentional cheesiness of some of the shows lends a charm to the nostalgia.

November saw the release of The Soundhouse Tapes by an upstart band out of the UK known as Iron Maiden. This would mark only the beginning of a career that has spanned nearly 35 years.

Also in November, Pink Floyd's concept album The Wall hits the scene and provides the soundtrack to a new generation of jilted teens.

November also saw the release of Night in the Ruts by a very divided Aerosmith. Only featuring a partial contribution from guitarist Joe Perry, the album still manages to have a sizable selection of good material. We spin a track off this surprising album.

December of 1979 started with tragedy as 11 people were killed in a stamped at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum while trying to enter a Who concert. The band was not notified until after the show.

In December, The Clash released their smash album London Calling. Featuring a hybrid of rock, punk, reggae, and ska music London Calling spoke to an entire generation of young kids and has reverberated for decades since. Check out a great article about the album HERE.

We close things out with a relatively obscure band with a well-known guitarist. Electric Sun released Earthquake in December of 1979 and featured the guitar wizardry of former Scorpions member Uli Jon Roth. While Electric Sun didn't exactly set the world on fire, Roth's guitar work would go on to help inspire many 80's shredders such as Yngwie Malmsteen. This track that we go out on is a fitting way to leave 1979 and enter a bold new decade for music.

For articles about some great albums from 1979 that you probably haven't heard, check out BJ Kahuna's pieces HERE and HERE

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Led Zeppelin


Judas Priest

Cheap Trick

The Eagles



Iron Maiden

Pink Floyd

ZZ Top 


The Clash

Electric Sun

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Direct download: Episode_80_-_1979_Year_in_Review_Par.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10am EDT

We're back this week to discuss the first half of a very transitional year in music history. 1979 was a true crossroads for rock music fans; with the genre splitting into multiple sub-genres and another genre that ruled the world becoming passe.

The "Year of the Child" kicked off with the Music for UNICEF concert featuring pop tarts such as ABBA, Donna Summer & the Bee Gees performing sets on January 9th. Any chance Chris & Aaron decided to spotlight any of those artists this week? If you said yes, welcome new listener.

We cover January with a track by alt-rocker Joe Jackson that would go on to become one of the more well-known tracks from thrashers Anthrax. Also included for the first month of the year are clips from the debut album by Accept & a track from UFO that will leave you with palpitations.

February saw the passing of Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious due to a heroin overdose the day after being released from prison. We listen to a clip of Sid of vocals for the Pistols from their Great Rock & Roll Swindle album. Also featured in February are tracks from Scorpions' Lovedrive album as well as a very Cheap Trick-like track from Angel's Sinful album.

We return from the first break a news clip from the Three Mile Island nuclear power disaster that took place in March of 1979 set to the soundtrack of Van Halen's D.O.A. from their II album. Representing the third month of the year is a track from Motorhead's Overkill album that is more no-frills greatness from Lemmy and co.

Spring of 1979 shows upbeat picks of song clips from Thin Lizzy's Black Rose album, Journey's Evolution, and New England's Paul Stanley-produced self-titled debut. Quite a month for melodic rock and roll.

We head into May with KISS' sharpest left-turn to date with the release of the much poppier Dynasty album. Featuring the disco hit 'I Was Made for Lovin' You,' we spin a track from Gene Simmons that ponders the question on every narcissist's mind. Also included from May of '79 are overlooked tracks from Riot's Narita album & Ted Nugent's State of Shock.

Since this is just part 1 of our 1979 Year in Review, we finish off the first half of the year in June with three very unique tracks. Paul McCartney will most likely be remembered for his gentle ballads and melodic numbers. But, the choice of track from his Back to the Egg album will give you a much edgier impression of Macca. Also included from June of 1979 is a track from the pre-KISS Bruce Kulick/Michael Bolton project known as Blackjack and a show closer that's definitely not obscure but still rocks plenty enough to get us amped up for part 2 next week. We hope you dig the music and, if you do........

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Joe Jackson

Generation X




Van Halen



Thin Lizzy

New England



Ted Nugent

Paul McCartney & Wings


The Knack

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Direct download: Episode_79_-_1979_Year_in_Review_Par.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 11:33pm EDT

Here at the Decibel Geek podcast we like to make a point to keep the show at around an hour. There's no mysterious reason for this. We don't want to overload you in one episode and an hour seems to be a good median length of enjoyment.

With that said, it can be a challenge for us in picking songs for an episode and a number of fantastic songs get purposely left on the drawing board due to their length. So, this week, we proudly give you The EPIC Episode!

This week's show features all songs that are 6 minutes and longer in length from a nice variety of artists running the gamut from the roots of NWOBHM to mid-80's thrash to a controversial guitar legend that speaks best through his guitar.

We start things off with our Geek of the Week. This week it's Tim James who left us an awesome voicemail on our hotline all the way from Australia! You can be eligible for Geek of the Week by joining the Facebook fan page or calling the voicemail hotline at (540) DBGeek-1.

Mother Love Bone's what-might-have-been legend seems to grow more as the years move on and Chris' choice of the mashup of 'Chloe Dancer/Crown of Thorns' from their 1989 Shine EP is a prime example of the emotional relevence of the late Andrew Wood.

For a fantastic view into Andrew's story, check out our friends at Legendary Rock Interviews' chat with his brother Kevin of the band Malkfunkshun. Good insight into a very troubled soul.

Aaron's first song choice clocks in at over 7 minutes long and comes from the Grammy-nominated album Persistence of Time. Anthrax's 'Keep it in the Family' is a an 80's tour-de-force of thrash metal from a band most deserving of their spot in The Big 4.

Anthrax has new material out in 2013 with the release of their new Anthems EP featuring covers of some great classic rock tunes. Look for a full review here on the site in the near future.

Returning from the first break is Chris' choice of a song that legendary rock writer Martin Popoff listed at #17 on his Top 500 Heavy Metal Songs of All Time.

'Victim of Changes' from Judas Priest's sophomore Sad Wings of Destiny album features some of Rob Halfords most impressive vocals and truly fits the 'Epic' theme of this week.

With all of the change taking place in the early 90's as grunge began to swallow up the hair-metal genre, a group of crazies from Texas released their Cowboys from Hell album; signifying the arrival of groove-metal to the national scene. Pantera's 'Cemetary Gates' is, essentially, a pissed-off power ballad.

With a wide vocal range, vocalist Phil Anselmo spars with guitarist Dimebag Darrell towards the end of the song. This is the longest song in Pantera's catalog and Darrell's solo is considered an iconic piece of lead playing.

If there's one band that knows a lot about epic songs, it's Rush. Although 2112 is certainly near the top of the heap when it comes to epic songs, Chris decides to give a spin to something more recent with his pick of 'Seven Cities of Gold' from 2012's Clockwork Angels album.

Clocking in and over 7 minutes, the track features a thick guitar/bass mix, strong vocals from Geddy Lee, and the inevitable amazing drumming from Neil Peart. This song is helping to get Chris prepped for his upcoming experience seeing Rush in Nashville on May 1st.

Closing out the show a pick that is person to Aaron Camaro. His choice of 'Fred Bear' from Ted Nugent's 1995 Spirit of the Wild album brings back memories of growing up in the northern woods of Wisconsin.

While Ted Nugent is a very polarizing person when it comes to politics, this track proves that it's hard to argue with the amazing musicianship that he's churned out for over 40 years in the music industry.

We really enjoyed getting the chance to share some longer, "epic", songs with you this week and hope that you found something new to enjoy. If you did.....

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Mother Love Bone


Judas Priest



Ted Nugent

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Direct Download

Direct download: Episode_78_-_The_EPIC_Episode.mp3
Category:Podcast -- posted at: 10:53pm EDT