Legendary for his groundbreaking collaborations with Alice Cooper, for whom he was musical director, lead guitarist and co-writer of the icon's biggest hits, Dick Wagner's songs and lead guitar have been featured on more than 150 renowned albums for legendary artists including Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Kiss, Lou Reed, Peter Gabriel, Guns N' Roses, Tina Turner, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, and dozens more. Wagner's songwriting and guitar performances have garnered 14 Platinum records, 16 Gold Records, 5 Silver Records and numerous BMI Songwriter Awards.
Full Meltdown features 15 lost and newly discovered songs recorded by Wagner between 1979 and 1995 -- a journey of pure Rock and Roll songs and dazzling guitar virtuosity. Whether it be rock, blues, country, jazz or spiritual, Wagner's songs continue to detail the essence of life; his guitar work continues to inspire guitarists world wide and his productions recall the era of great songs with great melodies and universally accessible lyrics.
The opening song on FULL MELTDOWN is a lyrical, power-chordal stadium rock song that gets you pumped up to flow with the rest of the CD’s song lineup. From the sublime opening organ riff, backed with the heavy backbeat of the drums, you are ready to rock, with your heart already in high gear. When Wagner’s guitar enters, you are taken away to the land of rock love and history, where you fully understand what “Still Hungry” really means. It’s a song about sex and devotion, interspersed with a great guitar solo that is reminiscent of the fiddle solos of the Cajun fiddler Doug Kershaw. From “Still Hungry” on through “Feel it all Over,” the final song on this CD, you are rocked on a journey from Detroit, Cleveland, New York and across the world; towel dried at the end by the sirens of soul accompanied by some of the finest musicians in Rock’n’Roll.
Dick Wagner Reviews:
" Dick Wagner has had an amazing career as the guitar player for Lou Reed and Alice Cooper. In addition he has recorded classic songs with Kiss and Aerosmith and written songs for artists as diverse as Meat Loaf and Air Supply. Wagner’s discography is a Who’s Who of 70’s rock music."
~ Classic Rock Revisited
"When your recording session needed some monster guitar solos, you called Wagner and Hunter first. Period. Just ask Kiss. Or better yet, ask Aerosmith."
~ Vintage Guitar
"Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner were as potent a duo as Keith Richards and Mick Taylor, and the four make-up the “Golden Era” of both The Rolling Stones and Lou Reed, that period when the recordings were beyond magical."
~ Book: A Study of Lou Reed’s Berlin and Rock & Roll Animal Albums by Joe Viglione, 2009
"In many ways, the alliance between Hunter & Wagner.... is as significant and as memorable in the lexicon of Rock 'n Roll Greatness as that of Duane Allman & Eric Clapton trading dueling solos on the Layla album. Indeed, the introduction to Reed 's glitter-anthem Sweet Jane on Rock & Roll Animal found the pair exchanging eloquent instrumental phrasing with a seamless & soaring passion that one is hard-pressed to compare."
~ Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner - Two Legendary Guitarists Reunite by Robert E. Martin
"This is a record to be played loud. Like a Formula One car, it doesn't really begin to perform until it's pushed close to the limit.... Powered up on a strong system loud enough to make enemies a quarter-mile away, Rock n Roll Animal -- recorded live at Lou Reed's Academy of Music concert December 21st, 1973 -- is, well, very fine."
~ Rolling Stone, Timothy Ferris
“At its best, Reed's live music brings the Velvets into the arena in a clean redefinition of heavy, thrilling without threatening to stupefy.... The made-in-Detroit guitars of Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner mesh naturally with the unnatural rhythms, and Reed shouts with no sacrifice of wit. .... This is a live album with a reason for living. A- “
~ Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
"The 1975 release of Alice's solo debut, Welcome To My Nightmare... blazed new trails and also revisited classic Cooper-styled songs....., yielding a monster hit in the (Cooper-Wagner) ballad Only Woman Bleed, (which) opened the door for power ballads by contemporaries like Ozzie and a slew of eighties' hair bands. To replace the muscular sound of his long-standing band, Cooper recruited Lou Reed's rock & roll animals, guitarists Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter, who stacked up fiery riffs like so much sawmill fodder throughout the songs on Welcome To My Nightmare."
~ Alt.Culture.Guide - http://www.thatdevilmusic.com/ACG/ Rev. Keith A. Gordon(Rev. Keith A. Gordon)
"The soaring guitars of Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner, swirling organ of Ray Colcord and thundering rhythm section of Peter Walsh and Pentti Glan, created high-voltage rock.... Reed and this band were a decade ahead of their time, blazing a path that many rock artists were soon to follow. The live album from this tour, Rock & Roll Animal, remains one of the most influential guitar albums in rock history. "
~ Lou Reed Empire Theatre Liverpool, England 09/28/1973
Musician and Songwriter Credits:
Still Hungry (Dick Wagner, Alan Hewitt)
Vocals: Dick Wagner, Guitars: Dick Wagner, Drums: Jack White, Bass: Matt Bissonnette, Keyboards, B3: Fred Mandel.
Recorded at Trax Studio, Los Angeles, CA, 1991.
Blue Collar Babies (Dick Wagner, Mark Williamson), Modern Times (Dick Wagner), Motor City Showdown (Dick Wagner), Feel It All Over (Dick Wagner)
Vocals: Dick Wagner, Lead Guitar: Dick Wagner, Drums: Greg Schroeder, Bass: Jay Henshall, Piano: Norman Jolly, Keyboards: Mark Williamson, Rhythm Guitar: Jeff Morley, Chuck McKenna. Recorded at Long View Farm, North Brookfield,
Insatiable Girl (Dick Wagner, Dennis Morgan)
Vocals: Dick Wagner, Guitars: Dick Wagner, Drums: Jack White, Bass: Ian Gardiner, Keyboards: Fred Mandel.
Recorded at Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, CA, 1991.
I’d Take the Bullet (Dick Wagner)
Vocals: Dick Wagner, Guitars: Dick Wagner, Drums: John Sands, Keyboards: Dave Branch, Bass: Brad Hallen. Recorded at
Soundside, Lawrence, MA, 1991.
Another Twist of the Knife (Dick Wagner, John Wetton), Ecstasy (Dick Wagner)
Vocals: Dick Wagner, Guitars: Dick Wagner, Drums: Gregg Bissonette, Bass: Matt Bissonette, Keyboards: Fred Mandel.
Recorded at Music Grinder, Los Angeles, CA, 1991.
Stagger Lee (Lloyd Price, Harold Logan)
Vocals: Dick Wagner, Lead Guitar: Dick Wagner, Drums: Greg Schroeder, Bass: Dick Wagner, Piano: Norman Jolly,
Keyboards: Mark Williamson, Rhythm Guitar: Jeff Morley, Chuck McKenna. Recorded at Long View Farm, 1979.
She Said (Dick Wagner)
Vocals and all instruments: Dick Wagner. Recorded at Platinum Studios, Los Angeles, CA, 1988.
These Days (Dick Wagner)
Vocal and piano: Dick Wagner. Recorded at Long View Farm, 1979.
I Might As Well Be on Mars (Dick Wagner, Alice Cooper, Desmond Child)
Vocals and all instruments: Dick Wagner. Recorded Fenton Woods Studio, Fenton, MI and Disc, Ltd., Eastpointe, MI, 1995.
Steal the Thunder (Dick Wagner, Dennis Morgan)
Lead Vocal: Dick Wagner, Guitars: Dick Wagner, Drums: Gregg Bissonette, Bass: Matt Bissonette, Keyboards: Fred
Mandel. Recorded at Music Grinder, 1991.
Darkest Hour (Dick Wagner)
Vocals and all instruments: Dick Wagner. Recorded at Fenton Woods Studio, 1995.
Produced by Dick Wagner
Executive Producers: Susan Michelson, Alex Cyrell, Gil Markle
Stereo re-mix by Gil Markle, 2009, for Desert Dreams Productions, LLC and studiowner.com
A Note From Dick Wagner:
My first recording session was playing guitar for an obscure group on the Tamla Label, the forerunner to Motown, recorded at the Hitsville Studio on Grand River Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan. That session led to a trip to NYC with my friend and writing partner, Stan Spindler, to record three songs written by Stan and me. These very early (1965/66) recordings have been lost to the ages, although the actual recording sessions set me off in the direction of becoming a serious writer and guitarist.
I have always loved the process of making up something out of thin air, translating the result onto tape and imagining the end result from start to finish. I have collaborated with many gifted people along the way, such as Dr. Gil Markle, former owner and resident genius at the Long View Farm recording studio in North Brookfield, Massachusetts. Six of these fifteen tracks were conceived and recorded at Long View Farm in 1979 and re-discovered just recently, providing the impetus to this compilation of recordings that I am titling “Full Meltdown,” a journey of pure Rock and Roll songs and guitar playing. It’s like I needed to pay homage to my life in the business of creating Rock and Roll; so while my arm re-constitutes itself and I am able once again to light up the atmosphere with my trusty 1968 Les Paul, I offer up “Full Meltdown” as the essence of who and what I am and have been these last fifty years.
If balls out rock music with melodic and lyrical songs are your cup of tea, then “Full Meltdown” should go down easily and
leave a pleasant afterglow.
A letter of thanks to all my friends who made Full Meltdown happen:
This collection of rock songs and rock performances is very much a part of my still beating heart. I get all pumped up just
listening to what were some very exciting days in my life. I’d like to recognize and thank each of the following musician friends and loyal friends associated in this little endeavor of love. You players were then, and remain today, brilliant creative souls and deserve the real credit for bringing my songs to life in a way that makes the recordings viable still today. At various times and in various studios:
Bette Sussman, Norman Jolly, Don Hartman, Freddie Mandel, Jack White, Gregg Bissonette, Matt Bissonette, Scott McPherson, Dennis Morgan, Alan Hewitt, John Wetton, Jesse Henderson, Vivian Rae, Alice Cooper, Desmond Child, Charlie McKenzie, Mark Parenteau, Doug Brucks, Susan McNamara, Ian Gardiner, Georgia Middleman, Marshall Block, Don Richard, Al Lane, Robert Wagner, Michael Wagner, Jeff Longwell, John Sands, Susan Michelson, Gil Markle, Mark Williamson, Greg Schroeder, Jay Henshall, Jeff Morley, Chuck McKenna, Dave Branch, Brad Hallen, Lizzie Ichton, the staff at Long View Farm where this recording project started, and the Boston band “Meltdown,” from which I have derived the title of this compilation. I am surely forgetting someone in this list and for that I apologize.
This endeavor, spearheaded by the passionately relentless efforts of Suzy Michelson in conjunction with the pure
generosity of Dr. Gil Markle, has brought forth this collection of majestic classic rock, and saved me from relegating all this music to a shelf at the back of my studio closet. Thank you all for your generous contributions to “Full Meltdown.”