Friday, December 28, 2012

The Pretty Reckless - Light Me Up

Some days I worry about the future of Rock and then a band comes along and puts my mind at rest. This happens once every couple of years, and it would seem that this year the honours go to The Pretty Reckless.

I have to thank my daughter Ashlee for introducing me to the bastardization, and bad ass modification of Cindi Lou Who. Taylor Momsen, the actress that became sort of famous after playing the classic character in the Jim Carey acted version of The Grinch That Stole Christmas, is the primary vocalist of this band. She'd done her home work, and knows Rock. I've only listened to this album a few times, but it impressed me quickly.

The rest of the band is made up of Ben Phillips, Mark Damon, and Jamie Perkins. This album also features other performers, but the most important is Kato Khandwala, who co-wrote and played guitar on every track, as well as produced the album.

The album opens up with My Medicine, which is a great opening track. It stomps, romps, and breathes really hard. This song is one of those tracks that reminds you that girls can in fact sing big, bad, hard edged Rock. I'm going to refer to many female singers as a comparison as I go along, but make sure to keep in mind that this band is just as important as the vocalist.

When I read the title Since You're Gone, I cringe and panic that I'm already getting a ballad. Then the song starts and I'm never going to worry again. First off the bass is wickedly well played. It just thunders the entire song and drives it all. It's wicked cool. The guitars do what Rock guitars are supposed to do, they play these almost fill like riffs, and the vocalist commands your attention.

Make Me Wanna Die has a very Goth like edge that's pretty bad ass. In fact this song is so interestingly well done I don't have the foggiest idea on who to compare it to. Which scores some major points with me.

Light Me Up is the first song on the album that sounds a little different. Up until this point most tracks sound "Bif Naked rocking out" inspired, but this one sounds Sheryl Crow. A bit like My Favourite Mistake, but I enjoy this one more. The music is more dynamic and full. There's a flavour to it that's just so much more real than you often hear in music these days.

You can tell that you've gotten into the middle of the album. It's not like these tracks are fillers. They are the more experimental tracks. Experiemental meaning that they have a different vibe and feel from the core of the album.

The song Zombie for example is pretty pounding and yet trippy. I find it a little heavy on the double bass drum, but other than that, it has a minor pschedelic vibe to the background guitars. I find the foreground music to be a bit grinding, and overdone. This is the only song that I don't care for the production.

Alright every Rock album has to have that one song that I bitch about being a pussy song and blah, blah, blah, and Just Tonight is this album's. It starts off sounding all Avril Lavigne, and then switches to one of those Post Grunge Power Ballads. Actually I think this song would sound more at home on a Pink album, and that isn't meant as dig at the song. I dig Pink enough to have the right respect for her. I just don't care for the style of the song.

The album picks back up with Miss Nothing. This is a fast paced number that reminds me of Hole circa Celebrity Skin. Except this song has a heavy ass rhythm section, that has me thinking of Taylor Momsen stomping around on stage in a pair of Doc Martins that are covered in a layer of Courtney Love's blood, spit and teeth. Okay, that may be an over exaggeration, but I think Taylor could kick the shit out of Courtney on her best day.

Then all of a sudden the band is channeling Motorhead. There's this big crazy thundering at that beginning, that turns into lyrical content that would have Lemmy rockin out. "Hey there, Father / I don't wanna bother you / But I've got a sin to confess / I'm just 16 if you know what I mean / Do you mind if I take off my dress? / Don't know where to start / Let me get to the good parts / Might wanna cross up your legs / I've got envy, I've got greed, anything that you need / And I'm not above having to beg / There was this boy who tore my heart in two / I had to lay him eight feet underground / All I need is someone to save me / Cause I am goin' down / And what I need is someone to save me / Cause I am goin' down, all the way down / Well, hey there, Father / There is just one other thing / I have a simple request / I hear you know God could you give him a nod in my direction / I would be in your debt / Perhaps there is something that we could work out / I noticed your breathing is starting to change / We could go in the back behind all these stacks of bibles / And get out of this cage / There was this boy who tore my heart in two / I had to lay him eight feet underground / All I need is someone to save me / Cause I am goin' down / And what I need is someone to save me / Cause God, I'm goin' down, all the way down / I didn't wanna do it, Father / But I caught him with another woman in the bed I made him / So I put him in a grave / And now there's no one left around to get me off / When I want it to drag / The next day on the television they identified him / By the circumsicion that I made and now I'm on the run / But wait, why did I have to go and kill him / When he was the best I'd ever had / All I need is someone to save me / Cause I am goin' down / And what I need is something to save me / Cause God, I'm goin' down, all the way down / I'm goin' down / All the way down". I mean this song is bad ass Rock. This is one of those songs that will be on my CD player, and if I were playing in a band I'd want to cover. I'd put it after the actual ending Overkill, just for extra effect.

My first reaction to Nothing Left To Lose was, "Shit, she went Avril." I think was mainly because of the track it follows. However, that didn't last long. For starters the song is too well put together musically. It's not just some girl singing over a strummed accoustic guitar, and it's not that school girl, broken hearted, song. This one is much more raw. It reminds me of David Bowie, and lyrically conjures images that are simular to Rock And Roll Suicide.

The song You, which is next, is even softer than the last track and reminds me of Sheryl Crow in the years I wasn't paying attention to her, but could respect and understand what she was doing.

Factory Girl sounds exactly like a song by that title should sound. This is another track that's going on my Mp3 player as well. Once again reminding me that Rock is still alive. This band knows how to play, and they know how to write a good song. This song has more balls than anything Motley Crue has done since Dr. Feelgood, and is twice the naughty lyrical content of Girls, Girls, Girls. This song is like Aerosmith playing with Black Sabbath's heaviness, and if it was Steven Tyler singing this one it would have a totally different meaning especially with this chorus. "Wait a minute girl, can you show me to the party? / I said wait a minute girl, can you show me to the party? / Please let me in through the backdoor / Just let me in through the backdoor, baby / Just let me in through the backdoor, just let me in / Wait a minute girl, can you show me to the party?" Now think of that played to the musical idea of Paranoid, and you might get a bit of an idea.

Out of the eleven tracks on this album, I would have to say that there's only two that I don't really care for, maybe three. Which is pretty typical for an album. What isn't typical is that there are at least four tracks that I really dig and can foresee being on my mp3 player for quite a while.

My biggest complaint about this album is that eventually my daughter will go and put it in her collection, and then I won't get to hear some of these songs on the home stereo system as much. This is a really well done album, and I would suggest checking it out. Especially if you like Seventies Classic Rock.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Friday, December 21, 2012

Aerosmith - Toys In The Attic

Every great Rock band has that album that's pretty much a perfect ten. I've covered one or two of them already in past reviews. Well, I feel safe in also calling Toys In The Attic a perfect ten as well, and the only reason I would want to trash on it is due to how commercially successful this album was. However, when you release an amazing Rock album it's going to sell well.

I should mention that some of the individual song reviews were previously published, at least in part, in my review of Pandora's Box (10/05/12).

Let's start with the albums title track, which kicks off the album. This has always been one of my favourite Aerosmith songs. It is everything that kick ass Rock should be. It's fast, aggressive, poetic, and reaking of all kinds of attitude. Not to mention the boogie and drive. It's just fantastic.

Uncle Salty is slick, grimey, and very thought provoking for a song released in 1975. These first two verses are pretty bone cuttingly honest for the time. "Uncle Salty told me stories of a lonely / baby with a lonely kind of life to lead / my mammy was lusted, Daddy he was busted / they left her to be trusted till the orphan bleeds / but when she cried at night, no one came / and when she cried at night, went insane / Uncle Salty told me when she was just a baby / that she'd get by and maybe someday she'd see / but soon she found her mother's love for all the others / the pushers and the shovers was the life to lead / but when she cried at night, no one came / and when she cried at night, went insane".

Adam's Apple has this great swagger and groove that's totally sexy, and raw, and pure in an honest musician sort of way. The music in this song just makes me want to get my groove on. It's so much fun. I also consider this one of the weakest songs on the album, which says something about the album itself.

At this point we move on to Aerosmith's most popular songs, Walk This Way. Chances are you know it, and if you don't go Youtube it. Then hang your head in shame, and pray to God for forgiveness. If you want more on the subject, this is what I've preveriously written. "Walk This Way was the very first radio friendly rap song. Not the the Run DMC version either. I'm talking about the original Steven Tyler highspeed, rhyming, and sliding, totally rap like poetry, that is spewed out over one of the most recognizable riffs of all time."

Big Ten Inch is one of those songs, that has one of those lines, that alway get's people up in arms. There's a a line that goes, "'Cept (except) on my big ten inch" and everyone hears "Suck on my big ten inch". Tyler has always claimed that he says the first version of the line, and the second is just people's dirty minds.

Next is Sweet Emotion. The only Aerosmith song almost as popular as Walk This Way. The funny part about this song is that it became more popular as a single release for the Pandora's Box box set, than it was in it's original release.

When it comes to No More No More I can't make up my mind. Part of me likes the song. Especially when it goes into the "Baby I'm a screamer / Bound to a wife in marriage / Baby, I'm a dreamer / Found my horse and carriage", or the various variations of that line. I love the change up that happens, and the sweet honesty you can hear coming from Steven's voice. However, at points I find the song a bit basic, and kind of flat for Aerosmith.

Round and Round is excellently written and arranged. It has that feel you get from the more musically developed epic songs that Aerosmith use to make. This isn't anywhere near as good as songs like Kings And Queens or Seasons Of Wither, but it's still a decent song.

I really like the prettiness of You See Me Crying, but I don't care for the fact it's a slow ballad approach. This is what would later become the format of almost every radio hit they released in the 90's. This was Crazy, Amazing, Cryin', twenty years early. Which makes me very biased against this song.

The reality is that even the songs I don't care for, or just don't turn my crank, are still really good songs. This is one of the great Rock albums. A must have in any collection.

10/10 - content

10/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Misfits - Collection II

I don't remember how I bought The Misfits Collection II, I want to say it was used from Dr. Disc, but I'm not totally sure. I know where I had bought Collection I, and another disc I have since passed on to someone else. All I do remember is playing the hell out of this album afterward.

This album contains twenty tracks, with an average song length of two minutes. However, it's the wickedest forty or so minutes I have ever experienced with a Punk album.

The album opens with We Are 138. This is a fast and furious track. Lyrically it's rather simple, but it works. It basically sounds like a solid band riffing their little hearts out. A few extra props for being inspired by George Lucas' THX 1138. Attitude is your basic Punk track. The title, plus the genre, pretty much describes it all.

Cough/Cool has a wicked musical sound that typically wasn't found in Punk, in fact there's more of a New Wave feel. Not silly New Wave, but more of the Blondie cool New Wave. If it were not for the limited recording and production due to the time and costs, this could have been a real wild song.

There's a reason Metallica covered Last Caress, and that's because it's Metal. If this song had a lead in, a solo, and an outro, plus the production was cleaned up, it would so be a proper Heavy Metal track. Like something off Kill 'Em All.

The cool thing about Return Of The Fly, is the fact that Glen Danzig opted to focus on the second movie instead of the original. Musically this one is also really cool, especially the backing vocals.

Children In Heat reminds me of exactly why I love The Misfits. They are just like the Ramones, in the fact that their music is just real loud and brash 1950's Rock. They are not sloppy, underskilled musicians. It's a tight band that knows what they are doing, and have taken the time to get it right.

Rat Fink is one of my favourite tracks on this album. I love the simple style that can only be described as Cheerleading.

Horror Hotel is a decent enough track. It has all the cool traits I've mentioned above that make The Misfits so awesome. It's just not one of the tracks I'm totally into.

The next two tracks are my favourite Misfits songs, Halloween and Halloween II. "Bonfires burning bright / Pumpkin faces in the night / I remember halloween / Dead cats hanging from poles / Little dead are out in groves / I remember halloween / Brown leafed vertigo / Where skeletal life is known / I remember halloween / This day anything goes / Burning bodies hanging from poles / I remember halloween / Halloween, halloween, halloween, halloween / Candy apples and razor blades / Little dead are soon in graves / I remember halloween / This day anything goes / Burning bodies hanging from poles / I remember / Halloween, halloween, halloween, halloween / Halloween, halloween, halloween, halloween" and all of this done over a killer music track.

Which then flows into a song using a very simular music track, but instead it sounds like an incantation. "Formulae ueteres exorsismorum et excommunicationum / Strigas et fictos lupos credere / Daemon pellem lupinam / In trunco quodam cauae / Arboris occultandum / Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween / Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween / Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween / Metamorphoses lycanthropie / Possunt inquam / Metamorphoses lycanthropie / Possunt inquam / Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween / Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Halloween". These two songs are just so Metal, Goth, and Dark; they are what I love in my music.

Hate Breeders is the longest track on the album at 2:46. It's a good track, but it doesn't tickle my fancy.

That is followed by Braineaters, which we use to sing at the bus stop. Just for fun. "Oi Oi Oi / Brains for dinner / Brains for lunch / Brains for breakfast / Brains for brunch / Brains at every single meal / Why can't we have some guts / Oi Oi Oi / Brains are all we ever get / In this rotten fuckin' place, Oi Oi / Brains are all we ever get / Why can't we have a change of pace / Brains for dinner / Brains for lunch / Brains for breakfast / Brains for brunch / Brains at every single meal / Why can't we have some guts, Oi Oi / Why can't we have some guts, Oi Oi / Why can't we have some fuckin' rotten guts / Oi Oi Oi Oi / Oi Oi Oi Oi". Aside from the fucks, it's a great chanting ditty, and can easily be done acapella.

Nike-A-Go-Go is cool, just not one of the tracks I'm into.

Devil's Whorehouse is okay for a Punk song, but pretty much filler for my personal taste, and Mephisto Waltz isn't much better. We Bite is pretty basic too. To be honest, After Braineaters, I normally tune out on this album for the most part. Queen Wasp, Demonomania and Hellhound are all the same as the other tracks in this paragraph.

The album does finish on a good note for me. Bloodfeast is awesome, and the production value's limitations cause an awesome effect that makes this track chilling.

I think this album would have been better if it had been recorded with better equipment. I think that the tracks I don't care for are mainly because of production, but not entirely. But, I also think this album should be part of any serious Rock fans collection. If for no other reason than the first twelve tracks.

7/10 - content

4/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Damn Yankees - Damn Yankees

Here's a brief history of the band Damn Yankees, and how they work in theory, kind of work in practice, and more or less can pull off an album. But that all depends on taste, and perspective. You start with Tommy Shaw covering rhythm and lead guitars, lead and backing vocals, plus he wrote some of my favourite Styx songs. Then there's Jack Blades doing bass guitar, lead and backing vocals and coming from Night Ranger, and please feel free to start mocking, because I do. This is followed by Ted Nugent covering lead and rhythm guitars, plus backing and lead vocals. Also, since it's Ted Nugent that should pretty much cover it. His Ego has more than covered the rest. Then you finish with Michael Cartellone, with drums, percussion, and backing vocals. Prior to Damn Yankees he was pretty much unknown.

Sounds like a decent enough mix to me, and for the most part it's a pretty good Supergroup, as long as you like early 90's Hard Rock. Production is a problem for this album, and makes it sound very dated. I can say that it's Ron Nevison that is responsible for most complaints I would have. When I look at some of the albums he's done, most notably Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, I can tell he has a finger print style. Then when you mix that with the Night Ranger influence it sort of messes things up.

I'm also not fond of the complete lack of bass on many songs. It would seem Jack can't sing and play at the same time. That's okay though, because the lyrics for the most part are pretty typical. They are either about getting chicks, wanting chicks, or being Rock bad boys that have all the chicks.

The first track on the album, Coming Of Age is a good song. I don't like it as much now as I did when I first bought this album. It has pretty much no bass, and the drums sound thin, but the guitar work is decent, and the vocals are well done. It's a total single for that time in music history.

Bad Reputation is much better. It has the proper vibe musically for a song with it's title, and it's kick ass listening to Ted and Tommy really play back and forth with each other. I could do without the over produced chorus sections. This song is the musicians (and that means everyone except for Jack) to get to show what they can do, and it's good.

The guitarists are the only good thing about Runaway, unless you are into Rock of this era, and style. Ted and Tommy work well together. I would have liked to have heard the two of them put out some albums together, instead of Blades and Shaw.

Unless you like early 90's accoustic ballads, before Grunge made them cool, with a small string section mixed in, you should skip High Enough.

The best cuts on this album are the album tracks. Damn Yankees is another brutal track, and I mean that in a good way. It's a bit partiotic sounding, but what do you expect from Deadly Teddly, and that's the only bad thing to say. Other than that it's pretty much a whole bunch of guitar masterbation and some verse peppered in for texture. This includes one from Ted in which if most people don't know how he sings, might think he was trying to seem cool and rap.

Just because a song is accoustic and slow, doesn't mean it's some pussy ballad. "I was a loner crusin' with the wind / I wasn't lookin' when you pulled me in / I had to leave you like I always did / You knew damn well I'd come again / Now I'm falling where I've never been / My resistance is wearing thin / Somewhere in the distance / like a long lost friend / Whoa oh oh oh, yeah-- / Lord, here I come again / Come again".

Then it get's all Rock and bad ass, while still rocking the accoustic. "Yeah / Been so long since I've seen you girl / Swear I've been around the world / Every room is an empty space / In the darkness I see your face / Whoa Whoa Whoa / Whoa Whoa Whoa / Whoa Whoa Whoa / When I finally get my hands on you / Tell you what I'm gonna do / Lay you down, strip you bare / Make love to you till the morning comes around / I wasn't lookin' when you pulled me in / Whoa oh oh oh / Yeah-- / Lord, here I come again / Come again / Come again / I said Lord [yell]".

At this point the guitars kick in, and Ted as well as Tommy open it up and go full tilt, blowing this track wide open. Then it comes back to the heavy rockin' with the electric/accoustic mix, awesomely well done. Then it finishes as it started, but with some extra string for texture. They weren't needed.

Mystified is wicked cool. This has all kinds of guitar, and I have no clue who's doing what, all I know is that Tommy and Ted make me drool. This is some Blues, and it's played like the Blues is meant to be played. However, the production makes it sound cheap. This track reminds me a bit of Rag Doll from Aerosmith, but with two much better guitarists. Sorry Joe.

You know how it sounds when Ted Nugent opens up with a riff, and you instantly want to throw your hand in the air and bang your head? Now picture that with vocals that sound like Billy Idol, right up until the chorus (which is shit), and that covers this song. If it weren't for the choruses this song would be so much better, instead it comes off as cheap tacky. It's one of those Republican Robots chant U!S!A! and have nothing of any actual substance to say. However, this one at least has some cool guitars.

Tell Me How You Want It is one of those tracks that would have been a Night Ranger radio single, and it would have even been pretty decent, but just not my thing. However, this is one of those tracks my buddy Pat would probably totally be into. Actually he'd dig the entire album I think.

My favourite track on this album has always been Piledriver. It's pretty much the band going nuts, riffing about and letting their Rock go wild. This is that crazy stuff your parents warned you about.

To me the weakest part of this album is the production (the sound is crystal clear and the mix is balanced well for the most part) and Jack Blades' performance contributions. Michael Cartellone handles the drums and percussion in a pretty standard approach, but I've had the luxury of seeing him perform live with Ted outside of Damn Yankees, and I know it's just an album thing. Tommy and Ted are awesome and I just can't gush enough about them. I would suggest this album to anyone into late Eighties early Nineties Rock, but stay clear if that's not your thing. There's a bit too much hair on most of these tracks.

7/10 - content

5/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Friday, December 14, 2012

Trans-Siberian Orchestra - Christmas Eve And Other Stories

As far as I'm concerned the only CD one needs for Christmas is Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Eve And Other Stories. This album is Metal, Christmas style. If you know nothing of TSO, the first thing I have to tell you is that they know how to play classical styled music properly. They take these great classic Christmas tracks and make them grandiose, but still very faithful. However, they sometimes change the lyrics to tell different stories depending on the song.

An Angel Came Down starts off the album, and wow is it pretty, sweet and gentle. A great lead in for a Christmas album. But to be honest when it comes to this album I want the intrumental stuff. That's where I get my musical wood.

Ask and you shall recieve.

The second track is a medley of O Come All Ye Faithful/O Holy Night, and it comes blasting out with all of Santa's guitar might, because you know that red nosed money grubber swings an axe, and it's probably an SG.

A Star To Follow is a really cool exercise in Classical styling, right down to the boys Choir and mini church organ. It's nice and festive, even when the beat kicks in and it gets all fun and joyous.

Then it's back to the instrumentals for the next few tracks. The first of which is First Snow, which is very upbeat and totally rocks out, almost to the point where you can easily forget this is supposed to be a festive number. Which to a small degree is bad, considering the point of the album.

I love the Nutcracker. You love the Nutcracker. We all love the Nutcracker, and The Silent Nutcracker clearly loves the Nutcracker. The accoustic version presented here isn't only faithful, but it's absolutely gorgeous. Especially with Silent Night mixed in for sweet flavour.

But don't worry it gets all bad ass on the next track. A Mad Russian's Christmas is just that. It starts off all nice and mellow, before picking up speed and strength and turning completely balls to the wall heavy. It's one of those tracks that should have you banging your Santa touque wearing head, and throwing your evil eye into the air.

The Prince Of Peace is really nice, but it's one of those Christmas songs that I would typically skip, because it's a bit typical. While listening to it, you so can picture this performance being done in some big Baptist Church down south on Christmas Eve.

I bought this album originally for one song, and one song only. I was looking for Carol Of The Bells done totally Metal for years, but could never find it. The reason was that the band gave it a different name, Christmas Eve/Sarajevo 12/24. This is the biggest, most bad ass Christmas song ever recorded. It thunders, rumbles, and makes Christmas a beautiful thing for me. My only complaint is the song is too short.

Good King Joy follows that up, and it's back to the more typical Christmas music. I mean it's still heavy, but the singing's back and it's all Christmas snow falling pretty. However, it breaks down into this really cool jam sounding section around the halfway marker, that's all groovy and cool. Think Bing Crosby crooning some Blues out freestyle, while Eric Clapton lets loose. Sadly those aren't the musicians performing on this track, but it helps get the point across. It's a pretty cool arrangemnt based on a song as simple as Joy To The World.

Ornament is really pretty in a very typically Christmas style, which is to say that it makes me feel suicidal and excessively depressed. This is why I typically hate Christmas music. It always sounds so sad, eventhough it's supposed to be celebrating the birth of a saviour. You'd think that would be more of a reason to be all warm and happy and a lot more uplifting than most of the music showcases.

The only Christmas song on this album to retain the original title is The First Noel. This is an instrumental accoustic version, and doesn't last long before moving on to Old City Bar. This is one of those depressing sounding tracks, but lyrically very modern. "In an old city bar / That is never too far / From the places that gather / The dreams that have been / In the safety of night / With its old neon light / It beckons to strangers / And they always come in / And the snow it was falling / The neon was calling / The music was low / And the night / Christmas Eve / And here was the danger / That even with strangers / Inside of this night / It's easier to believe / Then the door opened wide / And a child came inside / That no one in the bar / Had seen there before / And he asked did we know / That outside in the snow / That someone was lost / Standing outside our door / Then the bartender gazed / Through the smoke and the haze / Through the window and ice / To a corner streetlight / Where standing alone / By a broken pay phone / Was a girl the child said / Could no longer get home / And the snow it was falling / The neon was calling / The bartender turned / And said, not that I care / But how would you know this? / The child said I've noticed / If one could be home / They'd be all ready there / Then the bartender came out from behind the bar / And in all of his life he was never that far / And he did something else that he thought no one saw / When he took all the cash from the register draw / Then he followed the child to the girl cross the street / And we watched from the bar as they started to speak / Then he called for a cab and he said J.F.K. / Put the girl in the cab and the cab drove away / And we saw in his hand / That the cash was all gone / From the light that she had wished upon / If you want to arrange it / This world you can change it / If we could somehow make this / Christmas thing last / By helping a neighbor / Or even a stranger / And to know who needs help / You need only just ask / Then he looked for the child / But the child wasn't there / Just the wind and the snow / Waltzing dreams through the air / So he walked back inside / Somehow different I think / For the rest of the night / No one paid for a drink / And the cynics will say / That some neighborhood kid / Wandered in on some bums / In the world where they hid / But they weren't there / So they couldn't see / By an old neon star / On that night, Christmas Eve / When the snow it was falling / The neon was calling / And in case you should wonder / In case you should care / Why we're on our own / Never went home / On that night of all nights / We were already there".

Every time I hear Promises To Keep I picture the Whos of Whoville Christmas morning right before the Grinch returns their stuff. Andria says it reminds her of the church scene from the first Home Alone movie. Either way it has that wonderful boy choir Christmas effect.

This Christmas Day has a very modern Christmas style, but with some real balls. This one busts it out just right, but without going over the top.

An Angel Returned is basically a reprise of the first track. Which is cool and nice, and works for the purpose of this CD.

The album finishes with two "post script" songs. The first is O Holy Night, which is performed the way that the song should be done. It's pretty, delicate, and gentle. A faithful rendition.

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is done with a bit of an accoustic Latin flair, but still very faithful to the classic so many of us know. It's a nice little closer. As far as Christmas albums go, this is the one to get, if you are only going to get one.

8/10 - content

8/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Merry Axemas, Volume 2 - More Guitars For Christmas

I picked up both Axemas' at the same time, those many Christmas' ago when I still lived at home, but was really hating the season. Christmas and I don't get along, and I'm just counting down the years until I won't clebrate it anymore. However, I still believe in Christmas music, wishing someone a Merry Christmas, and I also believe in keeping the Christ in Christmas. Go watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special and educate yourself.

Okay on to the CD. This disc is not as good as the last one. A lot of that comes from the song selections on this album. The last album had the majority of the really cool Christmans songs. It also has more guitarists that I listen to on my own, with the exception of two. One's in the middle of the album, and one's at the end.

Steve Lukather, best known for Toto, kicks off this collection with The Christmas Song. It's nice, but a little too Smooth Jazz sounding for me.

Neal Schon's O Come, O Come Emmanuel is interesting. You can hear a lot of the Journey in his work still.

Steve Stevens' is a session guitarist that's performed with Billy Idol, Michael Jackson, and Vince Neil, and does a pretty cool version of Do You Hear What I Hear. I even enjoy the way he Rocks it out at the halfway marker. It's a bit typical, but if it works, why not.

Sleigh Ride is presented to us by bassist Stu Hamm, the extreme guitarist's bassist. His version is very classic, right down to the organ. But his entire bass delivery as the core of the song is sweet. You can almost picture him playing this in front of the fire place with the family in a Christmas Jam.

Trevor Rabin of Yes performs O Come All Ye Faithful, which I find a bit silly. Just not my thing.

Zakk Wylde performs a killer accoustic version of White Christmas. There are no gimmicks to this song. It's sounds like it would be perfectly at home on a Black Label Society accoustic album.

John Sykes brings us a Hair Metal vibed version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, but not some cheesy big haired version. This one is more talented and skilled.

I'm not fond of O Little Town Of Bethlehem. I find it's too far from the original. It sounds more like a jam out, and less like a celebration of the Christmas classic.

Now, the story as to how I originally bought the two Merry Axemas CDs comes from Al Di Meola's version of Carol Of The Bells. I had caught a snippet of this killer Metal verion of this song on TV, and promptly went looking for it in stores. I asked some guy working at Music World if he could tell me who it was, and he pointed me to these two CDs. Needless to say, this was not the cool metal version. Instead it was a decent accoustic version. This is the problem with staff in most major retail music stores. They have no clue about the music. They are just a bunch of posers trying to look cool. If I had gone to a real music store, like Dr. Disc they would have pointed me to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which I found a couple of years later.

The album ends with Ted Nugent performing Deck the Halls in his typical Nuge fashion, but I will admit that the track sounds a bit stock and typical.

This album isn't as good as the first one, but it's still worth picking up for the break from the same boring standards.

6/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

AC\DC - Highway To Hell

There are very few albums that I will say shaped my life, but AC\DC's Highway To Hell is one.

The very first time I heard this entire album was after I "borrowed" my uncle Matt's cassette the summer going into grade eight. This album just blew my mind. End of story. This album is pure musical delight for me. It is THEE AC/DC album.

When they did the digitally remastered re-releases in 2003 I made sure to pick up certain albums, and clearly this was one of them. My son was promptly given my old CD copy, and so the right of passage came to be. For him they are third behind Iron Maiden and Rammstein. (Fuck yeah! I did something right.) For me there they're tied for fourth with G'N'R, but behind Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath and Metallica. They are one of those bands that I have to take Ryan to go see, but sadly neither of us will ever get to see Bon Scott perform these greats nowdays.

Instead we'll just have to share this album, and what an album it is.

Let me start with discussing the remastering. The production now has much fuller sound, not the thin deadness of the original CD release, which is awesome. But it doesn't have the warmth of vinyl, and it doesn't matter. The sound is amazing, it's so rich and full.

We all know and love the album's title track, and if you don't may God bitch slap you with an SG. This song is everything that Rock N' Roll is about. Now, rock on! Girls Got Rhythm is pure AC/DC sexual musicfunkation. It's thick, heavy, has some major boogie, and shakes that nice round bottom with a whole lot of excitement. I'm sure this song has played in many teenage boys fantasies.

Now it's on to more serious music. Big thundering chords, a couple short drum fills, and then it's on to some top notch rapid fire riffing. Walk All Over You has the speed, and the balls, but it has something much more important. It has guitars that know how to breath. They menace you with long controlled breaths, and then Angus comes flying out like the little guitar scrapper that he is. Then when you look at the lyrics that make up the second verse through the end of the song you get such thoughts running through you mind. "Reflections on the bedroom wall / And there you thought you'd see it all / We're rising, falling like the sea / You're looking so good under me / I'm gonna walk all over you / I'm gonna walk all over you / Do anything you want me to do to you / I'm gonna walk all over you...Ill walk all over / (Roaming roaming stayin' alive / So gimme the stage, I'm gonna steal the show / Leave off the LACE and turn off the light / Tonight is gonna be the night / I'm gonna walk all over you / I'm gonna walk all over you / Do anything you want me to / I'm gonna walk all over / You ow. / I'm gonna walk all over you". I know the feminists and uptight housewives of North America will pitch a bitch, but they can kiss my ass, because they need a good walk over too.

Touch Too Much is clearly still all sex, but this time it's all about the woman controlling the man. That's why the last song is so hot, because when a woman asks for it, and I mean that literally, it's so naughty. But when the woman has the touch too much, it will drive you insane. This song also just has so much groove to it. This album is so sexual, and it has nothing to do with the teenage boy porn fantasy lyrics, which are awesome, but everything to do with the music.

Beating Around The Bush is Bon Scott calling the ladies out. But forget that. The Blues riffing of Angus and Malcom Young, mixed with the fills, and soloing, are so bad ass. Sure it's simplicity, but who the fuck cares? It sounds awesome. It feels awesome. It makes you wanna get up and boogie, and that's enough. Now go bang your head.

Did you know that sound you hear coming up through the middle of Shot Down In Flames is in fact bassist Cliff Williams? Sorry, felt the need to be a bit of a smart ass there. The poor man gets a bit of a bad rap, for being a basic bassist, but his job is just to hold down the rhythm and he's cool with that. However, it's great to hear it so well in the mix here. You could always hear it, but now you can clearly hear it. As for the lyrics, well the title covers it.

The weakest song on this album is Get It Hot, it's the only track I would call a filler, but don't you dare skip it. Grab your woman, and get it hot. If need be fire off a couple knuckle rockets and look at girly pics. This song will still do the trick for you. Sorry I'm picturing a sceen starring Jason Biggs' character in American Pie, if it took place in 1978.

If You Want Blood (You've Got It) is bad ass. "It's criminal / there ought to be a law / criminal / there ought to be a whole lot more / you get a nothin' for nothin' / tell me who can you trust / we got what ya want / and you got the lust / If you want blood (YOU GOT IT) / If you want blood (YOU GOT IT) / BLOOD on the streets / BLOOD on the rocks/ BLOOD in the gutter, EVERY LAST DROP, YOU WANT BLOOD / you got it / yes you have / It's animal / livin' in a human zoo / animal / the shit that they toss to you / feelin' like a Christian / locked in a cage / thrown to the lions / on a seconds rage / If you want blood (YOU GOT IT) / If you want blood (YOU GOT IT) / BLOOD on the streets / BLOOD on the rocks/ BLOOD in the gutter, EVERY LAST DROP, YOU WANT BLOOD / you got it / O Positive / Blood on the rocks / Blood on the streets / Blood in the sky / Blood on the sheets / If you want blood / you got it / Want you to bleed for me." Then it just repeats the "If you want blood, you got it", until the end of the song. Plus there's the music which sounds like a bar room brawl in the works, all on it's own.

The album finishes with the one AC/DC song I couldn't live without, Night Prowler. Let me start with the sharp breath at the start of the song, followed by the slithering solo, with the creepy chords and slow rhythm, and that's before the song even gets rolling. "Somewhere a clock strikes midnight / And there's a full moon in the sky / You hear a dog bark in the distance / You hear someone's baby cry / A rat runs down the alley / And a chill runs down your spine / Someone walks across your grave / And you wish the sun would shine / No one's gonna warn you / And no one's gonna yell 'Attack' / And you don't feel the steel / Till it's hanging out your back". That is poetry. "I'm your Night Prowler, asleep in the day / I'm your Night Prowler, get out of my way / Look out for the Night Prowler, watch you tonight / I'm the Night Prowler, when you turn out the light ..." And that is bad ass Rock N' Roll. Then it's all "Too scared to turn your light out / 'Cos there's something on your mind / Was that a noise outside your window? / What's that shadow on the blind? / As you lie there naked / Like a body in a tomb / Suspended animation / As I slip into your room". And if you aren't horney yet, you don't have an ounce of Rock in you.

That's followed up by another chorus and then a very slow violent and seductive solo and oh how the sex drips from the knife like blood, before it's on to "I'm your Night Prowler, break down your door / I'm your Night Prowler, crawling 'cross your floor / I'm your Night Prowler, make a mess of you, yes I will / Night Prowler, and I am telling this to you / There ain't nothing you can do". This doesn't include all of Bon's adlibs.

Then the album ends in the most beautiful way I can think. And as the hopeless Rock romantic, I always picture Bon taking a bow and uttering the perfect good bye. "Shazbot Nanu Nanu". Maybe it's just because I loved Mork & Mindy so much. This album is just pure recorded naughtiness. Many would call it dirty, and filthy, and sinful, and wrong. But those people are on their own highway to hell.

Also, just so it's mentioned. Phil Rudd was the drummer on this album.

9/10 - content

10/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Monday, December 10, 2012

Led Zeppelin - Celebration Day

This review is for one of the coolest experiences I've had with music, and my friends.

When I heard about the Zeppelin reunion I creamed myself and wanted to see it so badly. I hoped that they would do a full tour, and all that other bullshit. Sadly that didn't happen. Instead they did one show, and they did it right. They recorded video and audio, using all of today's technologies to their advantage, and then released it for everyone to enjoy the majesty of a little Led for the head.

The first release was the concert on the big screen. Andria and I made damn sure to go see it in theaters on the first night. Windsor had two showings, but we only went to the first one, and I'm glad we did.

Now I just celebrated my thirty-fourth birthday, and if you do the math you'll figure out there is no way I ever would have been able to see Led Zeppelin in their day. The best I've ever been able to experience was the Led Zeppelin DVD. Which was really good, but still not the same. I also owned a copy of The Song Remains The Same, but even the band was never fond of that video. However, this concert is a completely different story.

Let me start by saying that three separate people either did, or were going to buy me, this two CD, one Blu Ray and one DVD set for my birthday. Andria had picked it up. My heterosexual life mate (Thank you for that one Kevin Smith!) Drew, also picked it up. Then my partner in crime Robson also had it in his hands, but figured that Andria probably got it, and opted to get me drunk instead. I think that was a very smart move.

Well Drew was the one who gave it to me first, because we partied the weekend before my birthday, and Andria was waiting for my birthday. So she had to return the copy she picked up, and buy me a really bitchin' Rush shirt instead. I love my hand selected family.

Now I'm going to start by covering the negative parts to this two disc audio oragasm. Black Dog and Rock And Roll are the only two songs on Celebration Day that I don't care for. Both for the exact same reason. They sounded too tight, too praticed, too rehearsed. If they had been looser they would have been better. Basically what I'm saying is those songs should never feel forced, and they did. I will also point out that the first three songs on the album are Good Times Bad Times, Ramble On and Black Dog. They had some issues with feedback one these songs during the actual performance, so when you are listening you can really hear how they've been pulled back in the mix. The reason I say this is because when In My Time Of Dying kicks in the room almost starts to shake and rumble, and it is so amazing.

As for the music, well it's fucking awesome. Good Times was the perfect way to start the concert. Absolutely brilliant! I love Ramble On, on various levels and this performance doesn't tarnish any of them. It's always good to get the commercial crap out of the way early on, although I do like Black Dog on the original studio album. Not so much on here. My Uncle Bill helped set me right when it came to Zeppelin when I was young.

In My Time Of Dying is 11:11 of live orgasmic energy flowing through the airwaves. I just can't get over how amazing the band sounds doing this song.

I guess I should also mention that it's Jason Bonham on drums. Son of the ledgendary drummer John Bonham, which sadly God didn't want to let come back for this one show, so we got the next best thing. Not only did he do it well, but he nailed it out of the park. It was awesome not only watching him play, but also listening to him sing. Which I'll get to in a bit.

I've always been a fan of the song For Your Life. It's just great, and although Robert Plant doesn't perform it exactly the same as on the album, which is great, it's even better that there's finally a live version of this song. What's even better than that is that it's totally rockin' and done so well.

When they fire up Trampled Underfoot it's total rock out mode. I don't get up and dance, "I'm a drummer, I don't dance," but I sit in my chair and boogie my little ass off. Actually, when I'm in the mood I'll dance my goofy little tushy off. Also, John Paul Jones owns this song. His keyboards are killer, and it's easy to over look Jimmy Page's totally mind blowing solo. Hell, writing this song's review is damn hard because it's taking everything I've got not to bang my head full blast.

How do you follow up such amazing heart pounding musical enjoyment. With Nobody's Fault But Mine of course. And all I have to say is wow. Plant doesn't try to hit the stupid crazy ass high note, and that's good. However, the way they do it you don't notice anyway. It's still totally righteous. The first disc finishes with No Quarter. I have a mixed history with this song. As a teen I didn't care for it much. In my twenties I started to really enjoy it. Most of my dislike for this song actually came from The Song Remains The Same. I never liked the performance. This version is a completely different story. Oh! My! God! It's musical Nirvana, not to be mixed up with the overrated, and under talented band from Seattle. It sounds just so beautiful, especially when you get into the musical interlude. This song proves the existence of magic as far as I'm concerned. Not to mention God. People can say what they want about the whole contract with the Devil bs that's been thrown around over the years, nothing this good could come from Hell.

Since I've Been Loving You opens the second disc. This is Blues as Blues should be played. Sure it's a bit practiced, and very closely done to the original, but impressive all the same. However, this song may not be for everyone. It's soulfully slow, and passionately tender, and feels beyond epic in length.

As Robert Plant says on the video, but is cut from the CDs, "There are some song we had to play live," and Dazed And Confused is the beast that he was talking about. This song is killer, and this live rendition is fantastic. I know some people won't be impressed with the bow part, part screw 'em.

After that it's on to Stairway To Heaven. Is this as good as the studio version? Nope. I'm not even going to try and sell you that crap. However, it's still really bitchin'.

I'm a bit surprised that they did The Song Remains The Same. Not that it's a bad song, it's just a bit of a surprise to me. It's pretty good, but it's much better to watch than to just listen to.

Misty Mountain Hop is fucking awesome! It's so bouncy and upbeat and Jason Bonham kills it as the second vocalist. This is just such an excellent rendition. It's a jolly afternoon hop. Hell, I could picture Julie Andrews circa The Sound Of Music bouncing around to this one on her Mp3 player.

So there's only three tracks left, and you know at this point what all three are going to be. You just don't know the order. The first one is the epic beast Kashmir. It's not as heavy as I thought it would have been, but it is fantastic. There's just this incredible sound, and it's so clear. The mix on this entire album is really decent. At some points it's a bit sketchy, but no real big deal. However, by this point the sound is pretty much perfect.

That is then followed up by Whole Lotta Love, which they do much closer to the original studio version than I've heard in other live recordings. That was always a major bitch for me. I don't mind what they change in the instrumental, experimental, exploritory, let's jam the fuck out of this bitch section, that's awesome and I love that, but keep the root of the song the same. Thankfully that is what they did. However, in the other section mentioned above it's totally awesome, and includes some bitchin' theremin work from Jimmy Page.

That means that the album ends on a bit of a down note for me. Rock And Roll is the last song, and like I said at the begining of this review, it's only a down note begins it sounds too practiced and refined. It's too polished sounding, and not loose enough. It's like they were trying too hard to make it sound just right. Other than that, it sounds fantastic.

This is a great Led Zeppelin collection. I could carry on about it, and I have to my friends a ton already. So just go pick it up already, but spend the extra cash and get the full set. It's so worth it.

9/10 - content

8/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Rob Zombie - Educated Horses

I've never been able to make up my mind on what my Favourite Rob Zombie album is. I know I like Rob Zombie much better than White Zombie, and I know I will take flack for that. White Zombie was cool and they had their place, but the real talent didn't start to show until Rob went solo.

I will say that the album Educated Horses instantly became my favourite within a couple of listenings, however he has released material since this album that I love just as much, or maybe more. Like I said, I can't make up my mind.

The album opens with Sawdust In The Blood which is a great, dark, haunting, and very ominous sounding kind of track. It's like those opening moments in a movie when the men are trying to hunker down for the night, because when they come rushing out of the trenches in the morning, it will most likely be the last time.

American Witch follows that up, which is cool, but I think this is one of the weakest songs on the album. It's very typically Rob Zombie, and actually sounds a bit like a hang over from the White Zombie days.

I love Foxy Foxy. It's dark, sexy, and has a great rhythm. "He who gets slapped and he who gets saved, / He who brutalizes the timeless stage. / He is the mongrel, he wants it all, / He lives for relics, hang on the wall. / Don't you wanna ride it? / Educated Horses / Don't you wanna ride it? / Educated Horses / Foxy, Foxy, what's it gonna be? / Foxy, Foxy, what's it gonna be? / Foxy, Foxy, what's it gonna be? / Foxy, Foxy, what's it gonna be? / She who looks back, and she looks away, / She internalizes the motion wave. / She is the butcher, / She wants the air, / She hides the scars under her hair. / Don't you wanna ride it? / Educated Horses / Don't you wanna ride it? / Educated Horses / Foxy, Foxy, what's it gonna be? / Foxy, Foxy, what's it gonna be? / Foxy, Foxy, what's it gonna be? / Foxy, Foxy, what's it gonna be?" It just repeats the pre chorus and chorus after that. This song is why Rob Zombie is the man. Because this song is so Metal, but so danceable at the same time, and without that stupid remixing bullshit.

There's a great Eastern feel to 17 Year Locust, and then it goes all heavy and slick, and creepy and slimy, and all kinds of fun. This is especially fun when you consider that the song is pretty much about cicada, which are the insects that make that crazy high pitched buzz you hear from trees in the summer.

The Scorpion Sleeps rocks. This song has a great boogie woogie and a rockin' chorus, that beckons you to sing along. "Can you see it? / If you feel it, / The Scorpion Sleeps right in my hand, / A poison dealer, / An evil wheeler, / How can I make you understand?" This is one of my favourite songs on the album. It's just way too much fun.

After that it's another really wicked instrumental piece called 100 Ways, which I pretty much view as a lead in to Let It All Bleed Out. Now, if you want to talk about good old fashioned Rock villiany, this is the song to bring up. This song is pretty much what The Doors would have sounded like if they had come out in the new millenium.

The longest song on this album is only 4:23 which to me seems short by most of my standards, but this song has that epic length feel. I don't mean in some type of silliness that runs on for too long. I mean it more in the sense that it really takes you on a journey that seems to last forever but in a good way. This is that beautiful dark western like story. There's such a vibe to this song that you'd almost think it was recorded in a shack out in the middle of no where, at night, with only the moon to guide them.

Ride is a decent enough track to listen to, but not much to write about. It's a pretty standard track for him.

The Devil's Rejects is much like Death Of It All. There's this great underlying Western like feel with a great Goth Folk Rock sound that just resonates with such rich audio beauty.

The album finishes with The Lords Of Salem. This song is evil bad assness to the umpteenth degree of Black Sabbath (the song). It's the rumbling evil coming up from the ground to bring terror upon the weak and pathetic. This is how a great Metal song should sound to me.

8/10 - content

8/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Monday, December 3, 2012

Bob Rivers & Twisted Radio - I Am Santa Claus

For quite a few years there was a debate that I was always on the losing end of, purely because I was out numbered by a bunch of Christmas music purist snobs. Namely some of my closest friends, and The Editor. However, Bob Rivers started coming out with songs I could stand, and that make me jolly. And isn't that what Christmas is supposed to be about? Happy merriment, and joyous days.

The album opens with There's Another Santa Claus, which is Here Comes Santa Claus, except mocking all the Santa's you see everywhere ringing their bells for charity, or sitting in the mall, ect. It's a great lead into the album.

From that it's on to a parody of Walking In A Winter Wonderland called Walkin 'Round In Women's Underwear, which is great and absolutely hilarious. I love the fact that they take Christmas songs and turn them into "normal" songs, and I use that term lightly.

The only thing better than taking a Christmas song and turning it into a great parody, is by taking a great Classic Rock song and making it one of the most bitching Christmas songs of all time. The track I Am Santa Claus uses Black Sabbath's Iron Man, and makes Santa bad ass. "I am Santa Claus / Ho ho ho ho ho / Flying Through the snow / Can you hear him ho ho ho / He's so full of cheer / Only has to work one day a year / Children in their beds / Visions of sugar plums fill their heads / So many kids out there / Santa must be a billionare / Red suit, boots of black / Big sack of toys hanging off his back / How much does he weigh / How do the reindeer pull his sleigh / Nobody sees him / As he travels the world / Leaving his presents / For the good boys and girls / Ho ho ho ho ho / Sees every move you make / Better be good for goodness sake / Leave him cookies and beer / He'll be back to your house first next year / I am Santa Claus / Ho ho ho ho ho". I love this song. I even love it more than the original Iron Man.

The next two tracks run into each other. The first is Manger 6 which is a take on the older commercials for a chain called Motel 6 or something like that, from a way gone era. It's the pefect set up to O Little Town Of Bethlehem, which is the lyrics to the classic Christmas carol, mixed to the music of House Of the Rising Sun from The Animals. My only complaint is the song is too short, otherwise it's simple genius.

I Came Upon A Roadkill Deer is a 50's crooner rendition of I Came Upon A Midnight Clear. The lyrics are cute and have a couple good chuckles, but this is not a favourite of mine by any stretch.

Then it's on to Teddy The Red-Nosed Senator, which is easy to figure out which song they are parodying. Now that Ted Kennedy has passed along, part of me finds the song a bit out of taste, but it's still really funny, if you know of his binging legends.

Grahbe Yahbalz is a bit of a cleverly written title for Deck the Halls, and lyrically mocks Michael Jackson's crotch grabbing. Much like the track before I find the taste a bit changed now, but still a really well written track.

A Letter To Santa is supposed to be The Godfather's letter to Santa, done in the Brando voice. It's a great little track, that you just need to listen to for yourself.

Jingle Hells Bells, which is probably conjuring ideas of Highway To Hell mixed with Jingle Bells, but don't panic that is not the case, is next. It's My Favourite Things from The Sound Of The Music, which as Andria points out is arguable as a Christmas song to start with, mixed with Highway To Hell. It's so well done, and the first time I heard this song I thought it was the perfect 80's Glam Metal Christmas song. "Ho Ho Ho / Ho Ho Ho / Like Guns N Roses with Axel Rose spittin' / Ozzie's black eyes and the bats that he's bitten / Big Marshall stacks and a broken E-string / These are a few of my favorite things / Ho Ho Ho / Penthouse apartments and twelve in a hot tub / Drinking Jack Daniels while getting a backrub / Little gold chains pinned to brass nipple rings / These are a few of my favorite things / We like bar fights / We like nose rings / We like eating snails / We always indulge in our favorite things / No wonder our skin's so pale / Girls in black leather with tight little tushes / Tattoos on big bosoms of prickly rose bushes / Silver stretch limos that come when I ring / These are a few of my favorite things / We like bar fights / We like nose rings / We like eating snails / We always indulge in our favorite things / No wonder our skin's / Jingle hell's bells / Ho Ho Ho".

The Kids follows that up. It's a great little filler track that will warm the heart, and I mean that seriously, but it's one of the tracks I skip the most.

There are a lot of sketch pieces on this album, which is great when you are into comedy albums of that nature. Which is why The Magical Kingdom Of Claus is a great take on when Dorothy goes to visit the great and powerful Oz. It's done very well, right down to the background music. Then they bust into If I They Only Had A Train, which has lyrical content explaining why Santa's Workshop closed down.

The "What's It To Ya" Chorus, I believe is basically a take on the New York Christmas Spirit. Which is pretty much a bunch of stupid loud mother morons spouting off a bunch of "What's it to ya" to the tune of Hallelujah (the Christmas song). This track is a filler that I don't think twice about skipping.

Didn't I Get This Last Year has lyrics exploring those crappy ass gifts you get every year, set to the music of Do You Hear What I Hear. It's pretty decent.

The Under Tree World Of Jacques Cousteau, can only be understood if you know any of Jacques Cousteau's under sea documentaries. The production on this track is top notch, and it's written with some well crafted wit.

The album finishes with O Christmas Tree, and there's nothing funny about this one, until you hear the guy in the back ground pull out and fire up a chain saw, at which point it's played like an instrument in the song. This isn't a funny haha kind of piece. It's more like a smile and slightly chuckle kind of track.

As much as I like this CD I do find it a bit boring, and would have liked to have heard more music. Luckily that's why there are more than one of these CDs, because those Classic Rock Parodies are wicked cool.

6/10 - content

8/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Friday, November 30, 2012

Welcome To the Nightmare - An All Star Salute To Alice Cooper

If you saw an Alice Cooper tribute album with names like Slash, Dave Mustaine, Bruce Dickinson, Dee Snyder, Zakk Wylde, and Ronnie Jame Dio, you'd do the same thing I did and pick up the album. Then you'll have a similar experience to what I went through, which is a mix between disappointment and pleasant surprise.

There are two versions of this CD that I've owned over the years. The original release, which only contained eleven tracks, and I found to be a bit a of a let down. Then there's the special deluxe edition, which is what I'm calling it, that contains fourteen songs, cooler packaging, and is much better.

Welcome To My Nightmare kicks off the album, with Ronnie Jame Dio handling the vocals, which is really cool. But, not as cool as you'd hope. It's like he opted to play it mellow instead of doing his normal Dio wildness. Musically I find the song sounds kind of rushed, and not in a cool sped up tempo kind of way. It's more like a "Let's get this done and over with." However, the song itself is done well and is enjoyable.

When this tribute was originally released it was all individual artists getting together on various tracks, and you can tell most of them were recorded separately. When the new edition came out, the three added tracks were performed by actual bands. The first one to appear on the album is Iced Earth, which perform my favourite Alice track, Dead Babies. If they had fucked this up, I would have hunted them down and fucked them up. That's not the case though. Iced Earth performed the classic, as it was meant to be performed. The only problem with this cover is that it's not Alice. So, I tip my hat to these guys.

Dave Mustaine, Marty Friedman, Eric Singer, and Bob Daisley all got together to do School's Out, which means it should be totally bitchin'. After all we're talking about half of Megadeth, which did an awesome job of covering No More Mr. Nice Guy in the past. Then there's one of Alice's official drummers, and one of Ozzy's bassists. It all sounds great on paper, but something went wrong with the song. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad cover, but I really expected more. I was expecting it to sound a bit more metal, and less like a knock off. Basically it's just another Scholl's Out cover by another group of guys.

When this album was originally released there were only two tracks that really stood out. The first one was Black Widow, which is performed by Bruce Dickinson (which also performs the Vincent Price speech), Adrian Smith, Tommy Aldridge and Derek Sherinian. They don't only do this song well, but they hit it out of the park. Let's start with Metal's best living vocalist, and also one of Metal's most overlooked guitarists. Tommy is a keyboardist, that's played with everyone, including Alice, and Tommy is a drummer that has also played with everyone. Between the four of them, they perfect this song.

Now the next track is a bit of a weird spot for me. I'm not a fan of the Trash album, and there's only a couple of songs on the album that I full out like, Bed Of Nails is not one of them. I'm also not a fan of Black/Death Metal, which means that Children Of Bodom do nothing for me. Now take that song, mix it with that band, and you get a really cool take on that song. Say what? Seriously, I can't complain about this cover, except for the two complaints already listed. Well, that's not entirely true. After the 3:30 marker the song gets a bit silly for me.

The second track I was impressed with on the original release of this album was Go To Hell. Basically Zakk Wylde and Dee Snyder hit this one out of the park, but it's Frankie Banali's percussion that helped make this song. It's one of the biggest parts of this song, and the Quiet Riot drummer got it spot on. The production on this track is another thing that helps make it awesome. This song was done just so well, that not a fault can be found, and I've tried. This track, along with Black Widow, are good enough reasons to pick up the original release, but this track alone is what's worth the price of admission.

The very first Alice Cooper album I owned, that was mine and only mine, was Raise Your Fist And Yell. That album had me falling in love with a song called Roses On White Lace when I was nine years old. That is a song that I still worship to this day. It is Metal, to the fullest meaning of Metal. When I saw that it was included on this updated release I had to get it. Eventhough I was probably setting myself up to go on a killing spree. If Icarus Witch (The performing group) had fucked this one up, they all would have been dead. I would have had every last fucker executed and hung out on display for the world to see. Thankfully for all involved, that wasn't the case. Not only did they get the song right, they did it exceptionally well. This song flies out of the speakers like an angel of death, just like the original, and that is fucking awesome. This song could have easily been fucked up, but instead they got it right, put their own touches on it, and made it amazing. Icarus Witch I salute you.

From this point on, it's one surprising fuck up after another, with the exception of one track.

When I saw that Mick Mars and Vince Neil were performing Cold Ethyl I was totally excited. However, they fucked up my second favourite Alice Cooper song, and that's not cool. I mean, it's an okay cover, and not a bad enough let down to bring up homicidal urges, but it really falls flat. The flair, excitement and passion of the original just isn't found here. When Alice performed this song, it was easy to believe he was into necrophelia, where as Vince sounds like he's just singing a song. Shame on you vince.

Def Leppard performing Alice Cooper actually sounds pretty good on paper, but when Joe Elliot and Phil Collen take on Under My Wheels they fail to make it their own. It's a well done cover, and the fact that they made damn sure to put the sax in is exceptional, but it wasn't as lively as I had expected. Once again, it sounds more like it's being sung, and not performed. You don't sing Alice. You perform Alice. That's one of the biggest make or breaks on this album.

Duff McKagen can't sing, but he can perform, and that is why his version of Elected is cool. He, along with Billy Duffy, Matt Sorum and Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) rock this one out, in a bad ass Punk attitude. Thus they captured the song right. This song is exactly what I'm talking about when I say perform. They work the mics, work the instruments, and give it one hundred percent. You believe these guys want to be elected.

Roger Daltrey and Slash performing No More Mr. Nice Guy should have been much better than it was. This was the only track from this album that got any radio play that I know of, and this is why the album didn't do better commercially. But to be fair I'm blaming it all on the production of this song. You can tell it was all recorded separately, and it really hurts a track that should have been much better. What makes it even worse is the fact that Mike Inez and Carmine Appice were also on this track. But, the only people really standing out are Roger and Slash, and Roger was the one that got all the production attention.

The only nice thing I'm going to say about the version of Billion Dollar Babies on this album is that it was done well, especially the drums. Vinnie Colaiuta got them pretty much right, which is very impressive. As for the rest of the song, it's okay, but Phil Lewis did a shit job on the vocals. The biggest turn off to this song is those vocals.

You can skip the last two tracks. Eighteen falls flat on it's face, and I always suggest skipping Only Women Bleed.

Eighteen was turned into an 80's Glam Metal track, which isn't cool. I just wasn't impressed with this version. I would suggest checking out the Creed version of this song instead, and that says something.

I have no clue why the fuck they finished off this album with Only Women Bleed, I'm hoping it was so people would get to it. It's just a crappy song to start with, as far as I'm concerned, and this version only makes it worse.

Five out of the fourteen songs on this album are worth owning, Dead Babies, Black Widow, Go To Hell, Roses On White Lace and Elected. After that it's all about personal preferences, and tastes. I would suggest that buyer beware on this album, but if you are going to pick it up, make sure you get the version with fourteen tracks, because if it has less, it is less of an album.

6/10 - content

6/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Metallic Attack - The Ultimate Tribute

Bob Kulick has helped produce a lot of tribute albums, and I own a few of them. Metallic Attack: The Ultimate Tribute pays homage to Metallica, and it's about as good as every other one he's done. Which is to say, that it's okay, but nothing really special. The album relies more on names for selling power, and less on the the actual tribute to the band. However, there are parts to this album that are really kick ass.

The first thing I must admit about this album, is that I over paid for it. I bought it in the hype of the names of the performers, and I paid at least twenty bucks for an album that should have only been ten. The problem is when you see the names of some of your favourite musicians, and they are performing some kick ass songs, you just can't help yourself. This has been the most expensive of those albums, because there have been a few of these instances.

There are two things I find that usually wreck these tributes that Bob Kulick is involved with. The first is that it's too many musicians that just come in and lay tracks down. There isn't that proper coherence you get from a band. Then there's also the bands that don't actually put the effort in that they should. This album suffers from both of those problems, but this album suffers from something else as well. These guys are trying to cover Metallica, and not the cheap easy stuff either. This album is kind of like it was made by hardcore fans.

Now, there is only one band in the world that can take a Metallica track and do it better, and that band kicks of this album. Motorhead leads of this album with Whiplash, and that was the worst mistake on this album. It was all down hill after this. Lemmy is the baddest mother to play four strings of thunder. His voice is so bad ass that James Hetfield still isn't even close to being in the same league on his own song. This is also the Motorhead line-up of Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee, which is a bitchin' combo. This really should have been the last track on the album. This is a track you must own, and I don't care how you get it. It is so worth having.

I like when you see those funny little things on albums, like Flotsam & Jetsam performing Damage Inc. If you don't understand the humour of this one, let me explain. Jason Newstead, Metallica's most under-utalized bassist, left Flotsam & Jetsam to go to Metallica. Also, if you are wondering why I say "under-utalized", well that's simple. Bob Rock has more writing credits than he does, and Jason deserved better than that. He's damn good at what he does. This song, has neither Jason on bass, nor the production it deserves. It sounds as if Metallica had recorded it during Kill 'Em All, but not that cool.

Enter Sandman is allowed to be on here, because they played with it a little, so I'm not being subjected to the same commercial bullshit we all already know and loathe. This is a thrown together ensemble of Prong's Tommy Victor, Extreme's Nuno Bettencourt, Armored Saint's Joey Vera and Judas Priest's Scott Travis, but they actually pull it off. It's still very much Enter Sandman, but they give it a different vibe, it's a bit more ominous and spooky. I actually kind of dig it. Death Angel performs Trapped Under Ice, and it's not bad. They pretty much nail the song down perfectly, but the production is shitty, and I don't care for the vocalist. He's not bad. He's just not my thing.

The next track has me saying things that should never be said. I don't mind this version of Nothing Else Matters, and I think it's better than the original. Let me start by listing off the members of the band. Gregg Bissonette is the drummer. He's played with Steve Vai and David Lee Roth. No biggy. Then there's bassist Tony Franklin and he's played with Roy Harper, and The Firm. Still not much going on there. And on this song that's fine. Now we move on to Bob Kulick and he's worked with Meat Loaf and W.A.S.P., and helped produce this album. He's the rhythm guitarist. Then there's his brother, and the more well known Kulick. Bruce Kulick from Kiss and Grand Funk Railroad fame, handles the lead guitar. The two guitarists turn this song into a monster Arena Power Ballad the likes of Metallica never would have dreamed. Then it's all topped off with Joe Lynn Turner performing the vocals. He's been a vocalist for Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen and Deep Purple, because he has the giant high Rock God kind of voice. So when you mix it all together, and throw in some 80's Hair Metal production you get a song, as it should have been done originally. A song Hetfield should have just handed off, to someone else, because it wasn't right for him.

Motorbreath is done by an interesting mix of Metal musicians. Page Hamilton of Helmet, Scott Ian of Anthrax, Blasko of Rob Zombie, and Ryan Yerdon who's listed as being from Gavin Rossdale, and I only found an instance of his being in Puddle Of Mudd. He's also listed as being on the previous track, but I think that was an error. As for the song itself, it's okay. Not bad, but not Metallica.

I'm impressed that Holier Than Thou was on here. However, it's more one name that caught my eye. Eric Singer is the drummer. This is the only drummer I both love and hate. I love him because he's Alice Cooper's best drummer after Neil Smith. I hate him because every time I've seen Alice live, Eric's been on tour with Kiss instead. It makes me want to bitch slap him. However, he easily proves how over rated Lars is as a drummer. You can hear that he's not even breaking a sweat. Other than that, this is pretty much a cranked up Black Metal version of a track that sounds like everyone was recorded separately. Still not bad, though.

Master Of Puppets, has an interesting mix of musicians. Whitfield Crane of Ugly Kid Joe, Rocky George from Suicidal Tendencies (this is after Rob went to Metallica), Randy Castillo drummer for Ozzy Osbourne. Also, Ozzy's bassist at the time (2004) Mike Inez is on this track. But, he may be better known from Alice In Chains. I will say that I was impressed by this cover, and I like that they sound like they were all together working on this track, and not just sessioned out, which I'm sure is still what happened.

Impresseviely Eye Of The Beholder is on here too. Not exactly on my list of songs I would expect other bands to cover. As for how it sounds. Well picture Megadeth circa Cryptic Writings covering this song, and it sounds pretty much just like that. Which is really cool on one hand, and "meh" on the other.

Dark Angel closes the album with their version of Creeping Death, which is faithfully covered by a band that sounds like their name would suggest. It's basically a Death Metalish growling style with early 80's styled production. If you can find this CD for ten dollars or less, pick it up. It's worth that. Anymore than that, you better really like the Motorhead cover of Whiplash.

6/10 - content

6/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Monday, November 26, 2012

Merry Axemas

So it's the jolliest, most miserably suicidal, commercial time of the year, and all you want to do is get your Rock on. But, you're surrounded by a bunch of old school facsists, and it looks like the suffering will only get worse. My answer for you is Merry Axemas. It's eleven tracks of guitar happy Christmas jamming, that even my born again conservative mother was able to enjoy. Before I introduced her TSO, but that's another story.

The first track on the album is a rockin' rendition of Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer, provided courtesy of Kenny Wayne Shepherd. It's exactly what Rudolph should be, fun, playful, energetic, and a delight to behold. Also the jamming/solo in the middle is really cool, if you're into guitar.

Eric Johnson's The First Nowell follows that up, and it's fantastic. It's spiritually faithful to the original. Sure it's guitar masterbation, but you can clearly tell that it's the song that it is. A song I normally don't care for, but this version makes it all cool.

I love the song Amazing Grace. It's a beautiful, timeless classic. End of mother fuckin' story. So when I read that Jeff Beck is performing it on this album you know that I'm already wet in my pants. He uses a Hawaiin sounding guitar mixed with an Ahhh chorus, which was actually sung, so you know it's going to be pretty. The Brian Setzer Orchestra performs Jingle Bells and it sounds exactly as you would imagine, which is perfectly fantastic.

We get Silent Night/Holy Night Jam from Joe Satriani, which is very faithful and authentic to the original. That's great for the people that need it. I like when the Jam part breaks out. The music stays within the flavour of the original song, and even has a Middle Eastern vibe relevant to what one may have heard in Bethlehem. Other than that, this is six minutes of major guitar masterbation surrounded by a minute and twenty of boring Christmas religious standard.

Steve Morse is one of those guys you really only know if you are a guitar guy. He's a guitaist's guitarist as it were. His version of Joy To The World is very well done and interpreted, which is cool, but on the whole I'm just not a fan of the song. Christmas Time Is Here follows that. I'm not sure why Steve Vai opted to take a Jazz lounge approach to the song, but it works in it's way. If I'm not in the right mood I often consider this a weak performance, given the name attached. However, when I'm in the right frame of mind I see it for the song that it really is. As I'm writing this, I'm in the right mood.

I love the fact that Joe Perry contributed Blue Christmas to this album. I love that is sounds so faithful to the original. I love that there's a "modern" song on here. This is a great track, and the best part is, like the rest of this album, there's no real vocals. This song has a chorus of males doing the Ahhhs, but that's it. I also love that those points only make up the first two minutes. The second half of the song is a great upbeat danceable number that would have had Elvis shaking his hips. Thank you Joe Perry!

One of my favourite jokes about this album, and there have been made many made over the years, is that The Little Drummer Boy is on here. If you need that explained to you, please go ask someone else, I'd just want to smack the stupid out of you. Now, once you've stopped laughing, you can understand the humour, if you know anything about Alex Lifeson. His performance of this song is top notch, and I am so glad he's included on here.

Ritchie Sambora is one of those guitarists that I will agree is under rated. The man understands how to make a guitar sing. His version of Cantique De Noel (O' Holy Night) is fantastic, beautiful, and makes me think of how Christmas Eve mass should have sounded.

I will admit that I don't know Hotei, except by read reputation. However, his version of Happy Xmas (War Is Over) is awesome. I love that there is no real singing, and that he is very faithful to the original, while still letting the guitar do it's thing, and sounding uber pretty the entire time. It's almost enough to make you forget how many times you have heard this song, on those commercials for the starving children.

If you want Christmas music that's actually enjoyable for everyone, but especially your bad ass rockin' self, I suggest you get this album. If you are tired of the same boring versions of these songs, that just make you want to pull the trigger on the gun next to your head, put on this album instead. This album was meant to be played in every house, but you can still enjoy it yourself.

The biggest thing to remember is that this is a serious album, by serious musicians.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nazareth - The Anthology

Nazareth is one of those bands that also came from my dad, but not until I was in my teens. Sure I knew Hair of the dog before that, but that's it.

The album opens with Razamanaz which is a great tune. Very upbeat, with a kicking get down and boogie kind of feel. This also helps set up the sound you can expect to hear for most of the first disc, and a good chunk of the second.

After that comes Bad Bad Boy, and by this point you start wondering who the hell this AC/DC rip off bad is. However, that's not the case since the first four songs on this collection, which includes my favourite Nazareth song, come from their first album Razamanaz which was released in 1973. As for the song Bad Bad Boy itself, it's a really good, and fun track.

Broken Down Angel is a sweet song lyrically, while musically having a nice solid Rock groove and vibe. It's not a soft ballad, like the title may suggest. It's not a heavy song either. The best way to describe this song would be 1950's Rock.

My absolutely favourite Nazareth song is Woke Up This Morning. First off, I am a sucker for Blues styled slide guitar. When you add a bitchin' guitar riff to that it become all kinds of fun. Then there are the lyrics, which I understand too well. "Woke up this morning / My dog was dead / Someone disliked him / And shot him through the head / I woke up this morning / And my cat had died / I'm gonna miss her / Sat down and cried / Came home this evening / My hog was gone / The people here don't like me / I think I'll soon move on / And now somethin's happened / That would make a saint frown / I turned my back and / My house burned down / Woke up this morning / My dog was dead / Someone disliked him / And shot him through the head / I woke up this morning / And my cat had died / Don't you know I'm / gonna miss her / Sat down and cried". I've never had these exact experiences, but I've had my fair share of these kind of wake ups.

Now, I must say that my only Nazareth album for a good fifteen years was Greatest Hits released in 1975. It's a good collection, but it didn't have seven of the tracks included just on the first disc of this set. The first of those I came across is Go Down Fighting. This is a pretty basic Rock track, but it's fun and full of pep and vigor.

I've never been very big on Turn On Your Receiver. It's an okay song, but it's bit dated to me. I will say that it does have a cool Surf Rock sound to it, though. Which is really interesting for a band from Scotland.

Teenage Nervous Breakdown is the first song to appear on this collection that was penned by someone not in the band. Which is a shame, because this song has a great boogie vibe to it, and although the lyrics are a bit simple, I find them totally enjoyable. "Well, some contend that this rocknroll / Is bad for the body, bad for the soul / Bad for the heart, bad for the mind / Bad for the deaf and bad for the blind / It makes some men crazy and then they talk like fools / It makes some men crazy and then they start to drool / Unscrupulous operators could confuse / Could exploit and deceive / The conditional reflex theories / Change the probabilities, I said its a / Crass and raucous crackass place / With a pavlov on the human race / Its a terrible illness, a terrible case / And usually permanent when it takes place / Its a teenage nervous breakdown / Its a teenage nervous breakdown / Its a teenage nervous breakdown."

I never noticed until I checked the liner notes for the song above that This Flight Tonight, not only isn't a Nazareth song, but it was written by Folk hero Joni Mitchell. Which is pretty cool. Although I'm willing to bet ten to one that her version doesn't have music that sounds as cool as this one does.

Sunshine is very Folk influenced, and you'd almost think that this was the song written by Joni Mitchell. I don't mind this track, but it's not one of those ones that I would listen to on my own. But, I don't feel a need to skip it either. It's a ballad, but a decent one that can be respected.

Shanghai's In Shanghai is one of those songs that's pretty damn good, eventhough the lyrics are a bit odd in a very fun way. "Standing on a corner in downtown L.A. / Waiting for the man to come along / She comes up to me and says "too bad, too sad" / You know that he's been dead and gone. / L.A. lady, kinda shady / She picked him up and took him home / I woke up groggy my sight was smoggy / And I knew that it had been blown / Early in the morning sitting in a hotel / Moscow's looking fine through the wine / Spaced out I crashed out / When the K.G.B. came on the line. / It's a cold one, bein' sent down / It's gotta be fifty below / Mama here's a postcard to let you know / I'm in a saltmine and looking for coal / Shanghai'd in Shanghai / Stood on in Tuscon / Ripped off and kicked right out the bed / Flyin' across the desert from Texas to Tuscon / But we're headed for a southern star / The captain says it's fine in Havana / This dude behind me needs a cigar. / He's a big one, he's got a big gun / I guess we better go along / Mister we've got a gig in Arizona / Second billing to the Rolling Stones / Shanghai'd in Shanghai / Stood on in Tuscon / Ripped off and kicked right out the bed / Shanghai'd in Shanghai / Laid low in 'Frisco / Done in and left behind for dead". I enjoy this song much more now than I ever did when I was a kid.

Which brings us to the most popular Nazareth song of all time, and if you think I'm talking about Love Hurts, please go walk out into traffic right now and have a city bus knock some sense into you. Hair Of The Dog is the song. It's not my favourite song from this band, I've already covered that, but it is one of the greatest Rock songs of all time. I'm a bit saddened I only ever got to play part of it live once with my buddy Matt. It was a great little impromtu jam on the song, but there's just something about singing "Now you're messing with a / Now you're messing with a sonofabitch".

Which brings us to Love Hurts, and I will sum up with, "Stupid. Fucking. Ballad." The only real bright side is that the band didn't actually write this one. They also didn't write My White Bicycle which follows that. I don't mind this track, but it's a little too Queen sounding, which is fine when it's Queen, not so cool when it's anyone else. But, don't go thinking this is a bad song, it's just not my thing.

Musically I'm not very big on Holy Roller. However, it's the lyrics behind this song that are totally awesome. "Holy roller, lookin' down / Where you think you know / All the answers / Arrogance and pride....are sin / Better look to your, own chances / Holy roller can you save your own soul / Can you save your own soul / Holy roller". That's only the first verse and chorus, but it's enough to show how much people of the Christian faith have a major tendancy to be complete hypocrits.

Telegram was brand new to me when I picked up this collection on the weekend that just passed (Nov. 16/2012), and I'm already in love with it. This song has punch, bite, and a whole lot of heart and soul. This is one of those songs that just sounds so fucking bad ass. Also, for a track from 1976 it's odd that it contains sampling, but it totally works. This is also the longest song on the album clocking in at 7:49. However, when it hits just before the six minute marker it turns into almost a completely different song. Which has a great fun chanting chorus kind of feel.

The band goes a little Disco vibed with the track Expect No Mercy, and if Disco had been this bad ass I would be more inclined to support it. Think AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap, but with a Disco back beat shuffle. It's really kickin'. After that we go Rockabilly with the same Disco back beat shuffle as the last track. However, this is not one of their's originally, so it makes sense that it has that Country vibe, without the Blues vibe found in the band's original material.

Place In Your Heart is also not their's, and if I were putting this collection together I would have left this one out. It's okay, but not my thing.

No Mean City finishes off the first disc, and the only thing I have to say is that this band should have included a lot less covers. This song is really good, and has that great big bad attitude. I mean these guys really sound like Bon Scott era AC/DC right down to the vocalist, but Nazareth came first. However, you can also hear a lot of that killer ZZ Top like Blues. Then there's the fact that this song runs 6:31 and is evil and sadistic sounding most of the way through. This song is the dark alley at night.

Now I've mentioned AC\DC a lot when talking about this band, but don't go thinking that all the songs sound the same. Just Get Into It kicks off the second disc and it reminds me of The Yardbirds, but only because it has me thinking of Aerosmith's Train Kept A Rollin', but I felt the need to credit the right group. I really don't pay attention to the lyrics all that much, but this is a crusin' tune and the words don't matter.

May The Sunshine is a pretty groovy (as in a hippy saying it) tune. There's this great uplifting folky chorus that just keeps repeating, but in a good way. Then there's this bitchin' electric guitar adding some killer flair and punctuation to the song. I find it an awesomely spiritual experience while listening to this one. Whatever You Want Babe is not a Nazareth penned song, but I really like it. There's a great vibe and feel that bounces the whole way along. It's fantastic.

Holiday is one of those songs that you just have to listen to for yourself. It's one of those songs that's pretty much about trying to get away from being a rock star. But it's decent, within it's cheese.

I don't care for Heart's Grown Cold. It's a little too down home sounding for me. There is some really cool guitar in the song, but over all it dosen't work for me. At this point I sould mention I don't care for the second disc as much as the first one. There are too many slower tracks on the second disc and that's what it makes it all do. So, I suggest skipping the last song and Moonlight Eyes. It's a snooze fest.

There's only one live track on this collection and it's a cover. The song opens up real nice and slow. There's such a beautiful tone and vibe that just sets my heart a flutter. Then the song breaks down into the cool reggae-esque riffing, and once the music kicks in you finally realize this is a cover of the Clapton classic. I'm a huge fan of the original. I think it's one of the greatest songs of all time. This cover goes in a completely different direction, but yet stays within the borders of the original music.

Now for some reason the band started using electric drums in the studio in 1981, which is where Little Part Of You came from. If it wasn't for these stupid drums, or the very early 80's Pop/Rock production I may have found this song more enjoyable. It has me thinking Rick Springfield.

You can skip Dream On. It's boring and not a cover, and while you are at it you might as well keep going past Where Are You Now as well. Unless you are into Scandinavian Power Pop sounding bands.

Now it's time for a cover of The Rolling Stones Ruby Tuesday. The electric drums killed this one, and the production didn't help either. If you can overlook those, then it's an okay cover.

This Month's Messiah suffers from electric drums on a track that could have been really good. This one sounds like No Mean City from the first disc, but with those souless drums. I would love to hear a version of this song done with only real instruments, none of that digital shit. Maybe a little better production as well. Once again a classic song is covered into a Power Pop song. However, I don't mind the way Piece Of My Heart was done. It still has those dumb electric drums, which sucks, and the production isn't overly cool either, but the vocals are done in a cool way.

You'd think by 1989 the band would have busted up, or imploded under the stress of releasing too much of this digital tripe, but that's not the case at all. Instead they just kept pushing on releasing shitty power ballads like Winner On The Night. It doesn't get much better with Every Time It Rains, except that the accoustic guitar sounds nice. Drums still suck.

The last four tracks on the second disc help save this album. Thinkin' Man's Nightmare is from the same album as the last track, which is 1991's No Jive. But unlike the last track, I'll listen to this one and not mind so much. It's a little more like the bad ass stuff from the previous disc.

I have no clue why they were still using that fucking digital drum crap in 1994, but for some reason they were. Also if I've been calling the drums digital all this time and I find out they aren't I'm sorry, but they seriously sound like electric crap. They screw up really kicking songs like Steamroller. This is another song where the drums prevent it from being awesome.

I'm not sure if the 1998 track When The Lights Come Down have electric drums, but they sound a little more natural. Which I'm very thankful for, because this is a pretty damn good track. The production is still kind of shit, but if you can over look that, it's pretty damn good.

The album ends with Goin' Loco, which was released originally in 2008. This song ends the collection right. This song is modern era bad assery. I'm still not found of the production, but it's the best sounding song on the second disc after Whatever You Want Babe. But forget all the stuff I've been bitching about for a while now. This song has Blues, Funk, Rock, and a whole lot of attitude and I'm glad they opted to end it this way, because it helps preserve the legacy of what they once did. Also this would make a bitchin' cover.

Now, I know I spent a lot of time running down the second disc, which is not exactly great, but it's not horrible. However, I enjoy both discs mixed into my CD player, but I'd have no issue just putting in the first disc. Either way, the eight dollars I dropped on these two discs, brand new from a certain major music store chain, was totally worth it.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias