Dick Wagner | Full Meltdown

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Full Meltdown

by Dick Wagner

"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." ~ Dick Wagner
Genre: Rock: Classic Rock
Release Date: 

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1. Still Hungry
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2. Blue Collar Babies
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3. Insatiable Girl
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4. I'd Take the Bullet
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5. Another Twist of the Knife
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6. Stagger Lee
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7. Ecstasy
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8. She Said
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9. These Days
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10. Modern Times
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11. I Might As Well Be On Mars
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12. Steal the Thunder
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13. Darkest Hour
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14. Motor City Showdown
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15. Feel It All Over
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
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,
MA, 1979.

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.
Dick Wagner

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.”
Dick Wagner


Reviews


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Ryan Sparks

All That Glitters Is Indeed Gold
Dedicated classic rock aficionado's who have done their homework by poring over album credits know who Dick Wagner is, and that over the course of his forty plus years in the business the Detroit native has either written songs for, and or performed on well over a hundred and fifty albums for such high profile artists as Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Meatloaf and Kiss to name just a few. While he continues to recover from the effects of a near fatal heart attack suffered back in 2007 Dick decided to comb through his archives and as a result he's come up with a stellar collection of fifteen songs he's christened Full Meltdown.

In the words of the man himself "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". Now I 'm not necessarily sure I can improve on something as eloquently put as that but I'll try. These tracks were basically culled from a handful of different sessions recorded in 1979, 1988, 1991 and 1995. Whether he's choosing to rock out on the ballsy "Steal The Thunder", putting together a couple of melodic sing along anthems with "Another Twist Of The Knife" and "Insatiable Girl" or serving up a veritable trifecta of tender ballads with "I'd Take The Bullet", "She Said" or the solo piano performance on "These Days" it all comes together brilliantly.

It's certainly no secret that Dick is one hell of a guitar player, and his trademark chops and infectious sounding melodies are all over this record, but some fans might be surprised by just how strong his vocals are here as well. Songs like "Motor City Showdown" "Feel It All Over", "Modern Times" and "I Might As Well Be On Mars" all have such a distinct theatrical element to them it's like he decided to roll the vocal stylings of Alice Cooper, Meatloaf and Todd Rundgren all into one and what you get on the other side is a fabulous amalgamation of all three.

One thing about Full Meltdown that I still have trouble understanding is why it took this long for him to release this excellent and varied collection of songs, because there literally isn't one bum track to be found anywhere on this album. Who knows he might have even found himself with the odd hit or two on his hands had some of these songs appeared within the time frame in which they were recorded. That being said, in the wake of recent events we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that it's just a real blessing that we are even able to enjoy these songs at all. Better late than never indeed! Here's hoping Dick will be well enough to get back in the saddle again soon. Until that time Full Meltdown should be more than enough to tide you over. Crank it up and enjoy!

Ryan Sparks - Sea of Tranquility

Bleedstreet

More Great Music from the Maestro Himself
Like millions of others I have been inspired by Dick's playing since his early days with Alice Cooper. Awesome, soaring, melodic and soulfull playing have been his mainstay and FULL MELTDOWN is yet another feather in Mr Wagner's cap.
The days of real guitar playing are alive and well on this cd. Songs like MOTER CITY SHOWDOWN and STAGGER LEE are a guitar players dream. DARKEST HOUR, I'd TAKE A BULLET FOR YOU and I MIGHT AS WELL BE ON MARS (Written by Dick for Coopers Hey Stoopid album) are textbook examples for aspiring songwriters on how a great ballad is put together. ANOTHER TWIST OF THE KNIFE and STEAL THE THUNDER prove that rock and roll is far from dead. Lets not forget that Dick is also a great singer in his own rite and he delivers the goods on this record. FULL MELTDOWN will give the listener a insight as to why Dick has received so many Gold and Platinum albums and awards over the years. Another masterpiece from the Maestro himself.....Dick Wagner

D.K. Shore

What A Find!
I came by Dick Wagner's Full Meltdown quite by accident; it was a gift. Though music was my first language, I was never fluent in this kind of hard. Imagine my surprise that I fell in love with this man's music.
What surprised me with each song anew was the diversity of Wagner's sound, though his masterful and howling guitar hallmark each one. I find it hard to believe that each work and unique sound comes from the same musician. The songs are a compilation and remastering of Wagner's music over the years and with several collaborations (1979, 1988, 1991, 1995). This is a deep album; there's real lyrical beauty that's always juxtaposed to his haunting guitar. These are the kinds of songs over which a woman falls in love with a man - heart wrenching and soulful yearning with a bluesy quality . . . and that howling guitar! One of my favorites was She Said, a song in which Wagner did all the instrumentation. It starts as deceivingly cheery melody in which a lover asks for permission to go. Another I loved was These Days, a beautiful and soulfully sad rendering of that need to catch a glimpse of a lost love one more time. Wagner does vocals and instruments. There are so many songs I loved. I Might As Well Be on Mars was another beautiful song. Wagner and his guitar make harmony to this song of lost love. And his version of Stagger Lee was surprisingly fresh.
After a bit of research, I found out that Dick Wagner is a music legend, not only a hard rock guitar playing icon - a real guitar hero, but the recipient of 14 platinum albums, musical director and lead guitarist for Alice Cooper, and a many times awarded songwriter.
I hope his legions of fans forgive my naivete, but better late than never.

Lorelei Loveridge

This collection of songs rips one right back to the energy of youth...
All one has to do is borrow words from the man himself - Dick Wagner as songwriter, singer, and killer axe player has 'some kind of magic touch'. This collection of songs rips one right back to the energy of youth, the fire of the eighties, and the innocence of driving down a fast highway with friends, carefree, wired, windows open, not giving a damn. It's a good antidote for those in their 'darkest hour', for these songs are personal. Emotions are expressed and stories are told in a languishing, rushing, pulsing long breath. No need to hold. Just let go. The guitar playing, singing, and every other aspect of musicianship and production are performance art at its finest. I am a fan of Dick Wagner and this collection. Yes, I am.

Harkening back to a memory when I was living in Saudi Arabia (not too long ago) and languishing with the army boys by the Red Sea: this album would have been perfect right there in the changer with AC/DC and Led Zeppelin for those early mornings and all night seaside camp-outs when the waves rolled in. Beautiful, ambient music. Thank you for sharing these songs.

Lorelei Loveridge
President-Artist, Orderly Bazaar Records & Publishing
http://www.orderlybazaar.com

Vee Rae

Wagner Rocks
If Full Meltdown won't light your fire then your wood is wet. The #4 song, I'd Take The Bullet, is what every woman wants to hear from her man.

Johan

Kick-ass old school rock n' roll!
I admit it, I'm a sucker for old school guitar solos and heavy riffs. And this album, by one of my all time favorite Dick Wagner, has it all! His music speaks to me in a way I never thought would be possible, and his guitar skills are undoubtly beyond this world. In this album you find 15 great songs, all from the beautiful 'I'll take the bullet' to the heavy 'Steal the thunder'. What more is there to say? This album is a must have for all old school rock lovers. Buy it!

Matthew Brooks

A Fresh Ear
I've bumped into Dick Wagner more times than I can count during my musical gestation in the 70's and 80's. Whether it was wearing out the grooves of the (then) new Kiss “Destroyer” album, sitting in a darkened room with friends listening to Lou Reed as black lights fluoresced over posters by the likes of Peter Max, Rick Griffin, Keelan, and others, or pounding out carefully learned licks and chord changes from Alice Cooper's “Welcome to My Nightmare” and “Billion Dollar Babies” in any one the myriad cover bands I was a part of, he was omnipresent. So why did I title this "A fresh Ear"?

Because unlike the army of relentless self-promoters that surrounded him, each vying to take the largest piece of the spotlight, Dick was a true musician, looking to see what he could add to the lexicon that is the music of the last half century, rather than what he could take from it.

The resultant lack of hype, rather than diminishing him, diminished me, and many others like me who would have benefited by having him as an influence as we grew and learned our musical chops.

A case that illustrates this point is the album "Destroyer" by Kiss. We heard the album, but never really listened to it, after all, Ace Frehley was not a guitar player whose licks inspired us to wear out the play and rewind button on our cassette decks trying to work out the leads and changes. In fact, I have a vivid recollection of the outcry that happened when Ace was featured on the cover of Guitar Player Magazine. Thus, some really sizzling guitar tracks snuck under the radar.

BTW, I recommend a serious re-listen to "Destroyer" (I did) and if I have to tell you which tracks were done by Dick, then you should think about a hearing test. After I revisited that album, I realized how embarrassing it was, as a guitar player, to have missed them. But as in many other such instances, he was there, hiding in plain sight.

So, when a fresh copy of Dick Wagner’s “Full Meltdown” landed on my desk I didn't respond with: "Wow, awesome. Lost tracks by Dick Wagner!" as I should have, but instead, I stared at it like a musically clueless idiot.

I have since begun making up for lost time, going from gem to gem through the discography at Dick's excellent website http://www.wagnermusic.com, and I suggest you do the same. It will save you from an embarrassing public mea culpa like this one that only serves to prove to the world what they probably already suspected, namely that you might be better off choosing a career outside of music.

A great place to start is with “Full Meltdown”. It is one of those rare albums that, unless you cheat and read the liner notes first, is absolutely impossible to pin down regarding date. Dick has that rare combination of gifts which enable him to be simultaneously ahead of his time, true to his roots, and validly current, no matter what time-frame the word “current” happens to reference.

Not just a guitar player, Dick has an incredible voice that shines equally well in everything from intensely evocative laments such as "I Might As Well Be On Mars" and "She Said" to gritty hard rock numbers like "Motor City Showdown" and "Feel it All Over". And, despite an incredible range, he doesn't feel the need to remind us of it by running up and down 5 octaves in every phrase. Instead, he lets the song dictate how it needs to be sung.

As if being an incredibly gifted singer and guitarist weren't enough, Dick is also a consummate master of verbal visuality. As a songwriter myself, it was an element I focused on immediately upon hearing this album. It is one thing to be able to write lyrics laden with neo-Shakespearian poeticism that leaves most of your listeners going "huh?" It is quite another to be able to write "Johnny Lunchbucket" Rock ‘n’ Roll that compels the listener to climb up to a higher level. Dick has a lyrical knack for doing this in just the right measure. Never alienating his audience, never visiting on them a sense of inferiority, but gently urging them to climb just a little bit and meet him on a higher plane. Consider: "Running wild in the summer heat, waiting for the night to fill the sky" The first part of that lyric is pure "good time" Rock ‘n’ Roll, the latter part is pure poetry. Succinct, overflowing with imagery, yet completely unpretentious. It has none of the awkwardness of self-awareness that riddles cerebral rock, yet it refuses to cave in to the lowest common denominator AC/DC style formula.

As one would expect of any project involving Gil Markle, the original owner of the legendary Long View Farm Recording Studio, “Full Meltdown” has the master’s Midas touch. The low end is fat and punchy with enough beef to rattle plates off the kitchen table, while the mids, which in the hands of lesser talents, usually either charge riotously out of the gate like the bulls in Pamplona or are indiscriminately squashed in a fit of over-cautious zeal, run straight and true like a high strung thoroughbred with a triple-crown jockey at the helm. Setting it all off like the sauces of a 5-star diamond award chef, the high end sizzles and sparkles with that special kind of air and clarity that will never come from an effect box.

However… although the stellar job Gil did recently in re-mastering all of these iconic tracks in his studio in Tobago would be enough to recommend it to even the most discriminating audiophile, “Full Meltdown” still has yet to play its trump card. Many of these songs were originally recorded by Dick Wagner and Gil Markle 30 years ago at Long View Farm. As such, they boast an elusive dimensionality that only comes from creative genius coupled with warm rooms and special spaces. It’s pure alchemy -- a tantalizing snapshot of two influential figures in modern music at the height of their creative powers.

To play this album only once is like pouring a Chateau Margaux '61 into a shot glass and downing it with salt and lemon like an end-of-the-night Tequila shot. That’s not the way I drink exotic French wine, or the way I listen to “Full Meltdown”. Each listen gleans me a new favorite song. Something I missed in the last listening -- a flavor I failed to notice. Like a fine wine, this album ages well. More rewarding still with each new play.
Truly a record to be savored, which is a rare thing in a world enamored with fast food and instant gratification. Enjoy.