Rebel with a Cause

Dimebag lives on in these new recordings

Sitting in a hotel bar, Vinnie Paul Abbott is stunned that not a single TV is tuned to the hockey game. His boys, the Dallas Stars, are taking an ass-whuppin' at the hands of the Avalanche -- or so Big Vin tells me -- and he'd like to see it. I have no use for hockey, but he's a die-hard fan. And since he's Vinnie-fucking-Paul from Pantera and Damageplan, for chrissakes -- one of the most powerful and revered timekeepers of the past two decades -- I have little doubt that if he really wanted to watch the game, he could make a few phone calls and within minutes be seated in the owner's box.

But Vinnie is gracious to a fault. In fact, he doesn't even ask the bartender to change the channel. He didn't come here to talk about hockey. He's here on a Tuesday night to drum up some interest in Rebel Meets Rebel, a collaboration between legendary country outlaw David Allan Coe and three of the Cowboys From Hell: Abbott, his late brother, Dimebag Darrell, who was brutally murdered on stage a year and a half ago, and Rex Brown. Aside from some Damageplan demos recorded before Dime's death, these are among his last recordings.

Vinnie believes in this project. So much so that he formed his own label -- Big Vin Records -- and secured a distribution deal with Fontana. Now he's getting out there and spreading the word on his own dime. But while the personal appearances are a nice touch, the record speaks for itself: It's Coe fronting a kick-ass metal band.

Vinnie-fucking-Paul from Pantera
Vinnie-fucking-Paul from Pantera
Neil Young
Neil Young

"It was a total trip, because none of us knew what to expect when we first got together," Vinnie explains. "It wasn't even really a project at first. It was just kind of an idea. Dime went out and met the dude, hung around after the show, waited 20 to 30 minutes in line to get an autograph from him. And then when he got up there, David looked at him and goes, 'Man, look at you with this curly hair, this fucking goatee and all these tattoos -- you gotta be somebody, man.' And Dime goes, 'Yeah, well, I play in this little band from Texas called Pantera, here's one of our DVDs, check it out,' you know. Dude got back in his bus later that night and put in the DVD and then just flipped out. He goes, 'Man, here's this dude that waited 30 minutes in line to get an autograph from me, and he's playing to 20,000 people in Japan on this video. I gotta call this dude back.'

"So he calls Dime back up," Vinnie continues, "and says, 'First of all, I want to apologize for not knowing who you were,' and all this. He goes, 'Dude, I watched the DVD. I loved it. You guys are the outlaws of heavy metal as I've been to country music my whole life.' And then further along down the conversation, next thing you know, they're talking about 'We ought to hook up and write some songs together.' "

The next time Coe came through Dallas, just a short while later, he looked up the brothers Abbott. He parked his bus in front of Dime's house and got drunk -- "like we should've in the first place," notes Vinnie -- with the Cowboys From Hell. Later that night, they ended up in the studio -- the same one where the last two Pantera albums and the Damageplan release were recorded -- and commenced jammin'. Understandably, the Cowboys were intimidated by Coe's iconic status.

"He just said, 'Y'all do what you do,' " Vinnie recalls. "So me and Dime and Rex just kicked in like we always did and started slamming away, and we kept asking, 'What do you think, David?' And he's like, 'That's cool, man. Just keep rocking. I'm just writing some words over here.' " -- Dave Herrera

The Abattoir

Let's draft Neil Young. Sure, he's a 60-year-old brain-damaged Canadian who made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for "Heart of Gold." But let's ship him off to Fallujah with an M-16 anyway, because he's hurting America.

See, Young just released a new protest CD, Living with War, with a single, "Let's Impeach the President." And soon the dazed Bay Area hippie will launch a 29-stop national "Freedom of Speech '06" tour with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Charging upward of $250 per seat, he'll preach his clichťd ten-song stinker of a new record to a grinning choir of thousands. His goals? Exchanging ideas, getting the word out, power to the people and unification. Yeah, right.

No sane person believes music has much of an effect on politics, except for a few mush-brained burnouts and their contemporary wannabes.

Musicians such as hardcore icons Sick of It All say singing about politics makes them feel good but doesn't change anything. Ska heroes the Slackers believe entertainment comes first. Band promoters, roadies -- hey, even Neil Young fans don't buy the political song and dance.

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