Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ZZ Top - A Tribute From Friends

I picked this album up when I stumbled across it. A ZZ Top album featuring a bunch of newer and classic artists coming together to create a great tribute. This album was also executively produced by the band themselves and Carl Stubner. A search on the latter reveals nothing of interest. He's just a suit.

The album opens with The M.O.B. performing Sharp Dressed Man. You may be asking yourself, or you may not and I'm gonna tell ya anyways, who is this band? The members are Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Steven Tyler (Aerosmith), Jonny Lang (Jonn Lang), and John McVie (Fleetwood Mac). There's also a guy by the name of Brett Tuggle playing the Wurlitzer. This is a fantastic interpretation of this song. The instrumentation is done differently to create the same sound and song.

There is no question that this song is Sharp Dressed Man. Not for one second. However, Tyler's Vocals and Harmonica add a fantastic dynamic that isn't found in the original. It keeps it Blues, but a different type of Blues. What can I say about the others. You have Fleetwood Mac covering the rhythm section, so that's beyond solid and well played, and Jonny Lang was a Blues Guitar prodigy pretty much. This is the type of cover I love. Done their way, but done right.

When I saw that Filter was performing Gimme All Your Lovin' I was really excited to hear what they did with the song. I figured it would be different, but cool. I was let down. This is the weakest song on the album. I don't dislike the song, it's okay. I just expected so much more, and it seems so tame and mellow for Filter. If you've read my review for Rancho Texicano, you'll know that I think ZZ Top can easily be covered by any Blues, Country, or Rock band. That being said... Grace Potter & The Nocturnals are completely new to me, but based on the performance of their chosen song I'm going to say they are a Country/Blues band.

This band performs the classic and trademark song Tush. Now let me be very clear, not only did this rendition pay an impressive homage to ZZ Top, they took Tush and made it totally sexy from a Country girl's point of view. I can so picture Grace Potter cruisin' the strip looking for some tush. Probably standing up in the back of a pick up, while holding her cowboy hat on her head, and being all girl rowdy. This is just as fun as the original.

The next ZZ Top standard to get a slightly variated rendition is Legs. Within the first three notes of the song you instantly know it's Nickelback performing the song. You don't even have to read the song listing on the back. You don't have to do that to know what song it is either. This is the song that Nickelback was meant to do, and they do it well. But really, what do you expect, it's Nickelback doing Legs.

Now, just as much as Nickelback was the band that had to do Legs, Wolfmother had to do Cheap Sunglasses. My review for the original song read "...it's clear at this point that ZZ Top, were trying to mix something different in there. It still sounds like the Texas Blues band, but it's like they got into the Pink Floyd's catalogue or something. I don't want to say they were using acid, but I think they were using acid. Well, I think peyote is more likely. Does that mean this is bad? Hell no. I love Cheap Sunglasses. I'm sure you do too, because the song is just cool." If you know anything about Wolfmother you would know they are the new Pink Floyd. So you can see where I'm going with this.

So, this song musically sounds pretty much just like the original. The only problem anyone will have is the vocals. I personally like Andrew Stockdale's voice. It's cool and different from the rest. I also know people that hate how whiny it sounds too. That is the only hit or miss about this song. They were the perfect newer band to cover this specifc song.

Got Me Under Pressure is one of those songs that I love, but am not in love with. So, when Duff McKagan's Loaded decided to kind of Punk out the song I didn't get upset. Punk is not the right description either, but that's the best way to describe Duff's vocal delivery. Which will be hit and miss from person to person. Musically the song is delivered in a straight up rock approach. I like this rendition, it's not as good as the original, but how often is a cover.

I know Coheed and Cambria well enough to say they are the new Rush, and that is one hell of a compliment. I don't personally own any of their albums, but that's just due to my not buying one yet. However, they are good. A little crazy in the Progverse at times, but good all the same.

Now when I read they were doing Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers I just about shit myself. I could see Rush on a really weird day jamming this one out, and that's what I was expecting from this cover. Instead what I got was a complete surprise. Vocally it sounds like Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley trading back and forth, and I mean that as a huge compliment. Musically this is the classic ZZ Top song. I didn't notice anything except Texas Blues Rock, not an ounce of Prog. Which impressed me, based on the whole new depth I discovered to this band. In fact when Drew (a big Coheed and Cambria fan) and I threw this on for the first listen we didn't even relize it was them at first.

If that was a surprise, Mastadon's cover was a complete mindfuck. Let me start with Mastadon is not a clever name. That's what these guys sound like. They are a heavy metal mastadon, right down to the beastly vocals. Which brings me to I picked up ZZ Top - A Tribute From Friends at the exact same time I picked up ZZ Top - Rancho Texicano The Very Best Of ZZ Top, and I had never heard Just Got Paid before.

Because of those things, it took until the chorus before I turned to Drew and went, "This is the Mastadon cover!" I was in shock and awe, because I was exepecting Mastadon. Instead I got some band that sounded like they were a Texas Blues band. For the first time ever, this beast of a Metal band impressed me. I love this cover and think it's one of the best on the album.

I don't like the original version of Rough Boy. I like the Wyclef Jean version just about the same. Wyclef breaks out a slightly different flavour on the song while staying true to the original. Drew said he liked the cover better, and I can see why. I think the song sucks the whole way around, and look forward to one day maybe finding a version I do like. I'm not holding my breath though.

All I know about Daughtry is that the name of the band comes from the lead vocalist that was on American Idol. Normally that alone might cause me to dislike him. After listening to Waitin' For The Bus / Jesus Just Left Chicago I will apologize to him for having any type of presumptions about him. I don't know if I'm going to look into any of his music, but I might youtube a couple songs in the future, and see where that goes.

La Grange finishes off the album. This is listed as performed by Jamey Johnson, and if you read the liner notes you'll see a bunch of names, but specifically Billy F Gibbons. So, you can rest easy in knowing that this song was not screwed up. In fact I love that it sounds like this great extended jam on a fantastic song. This is the type of cover I would expect to have heard on a Blues album version, so it is perfect to me.

All in all I think this is a great album. The only let down was Filter's Gimme All Your Lovin', and I normally don't like Rough Boy so that was a lose lose no matter what. However, other songs impressed me so much that I have a new respect for the bands covering them that I never had before. If you like really like ZZ Top this is an album to check out. I am beyond happy with the fact I took the risk on it.

8/10 - content

9/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Monday, July 30, 2012

ZZ Top - Rancho Texicano The Very Best Of ZZ Top

Due to my age I didn't get to see many of the greats live. I've alway sworn I was born in the wrong decade. However, ZZ Top are one of the bands I have gotten to see and they were fantastic. Although I've never owned more than a greatest hits album from them, seeing them live heavily inspired me to go searching for more; one double album specifically.

The only ZZ Top album I owned for twenty years was simply ZZ Top Greatest Hits, which was released in 1992. I liked it, but it never inspired me to move on to any other albums. Especially when I was the only one of my friends for years that was into the three Texas Beards.

Then in 2004 the band released Rancho Texicano The Very Best Of ZZ Top. I wanted to pick it up right away, but since I already had half the songs, and didn't want to spend the money on a second half I didn't know at all, I always held back. CD addiction is expensive and you have to pick your fixes wisely, especially while starting a family.

I've always kept an eye out for the album and when I finally found a copy at a point when the cost met my wallet dictation I picked it up. I should have picked it up years before, because it makes my Greatest Hits CD look like some commercial designer drug for beginners. I've now given it to my daughter since I've found something more hardcore.

As of the point that I'm writing this review I've only had the CD in my collection for a month or so. I've only listened to the double disc collection a handful of times in it's entirety, mainly mixed with 23 other discs, and over half of if I've only heard for the first time.

Let me start with the fact I had no idea that ZZ Top were such a heavy blues band in the early days. I mean I had heard the influence in their music, but to actually hear songs like Brown Suger, Goin' Down To Mexico and Just Got Back From Baby's, which kick off this collection, is amazing. All three tracks are from the 1970 ZZ Top's First Album.

Now I think it goes without saying that Brown Sugar is another term for heroine, and this is a song about how friends help lead all Blues players to hit the needle. It starts off slow and drowsy, then kicks up into a mother fucker of a heavy blues song. Lots of chuggings and swooping from the guitar with a great backing rhythm. Goin' Down To Mexico is a faster paced escapist type song with a fast beat, while Just Got Back From Baby's is a slower, more groovy, kind of song. They are both superb examples of Texas Blues from both ends of the spectrum.

I'm not a fan of Francene, from the 1972 Rio Grande Mud album. Of the three songs represented this is the weakest in my opinion. Compared to Just Got Paid it's a soft fluffy song for that special someone.

Speaking of Just Got Paid, this has become one of my new favoutires. You want to talk about a song that has it all. There's this awesome guitar riff, major ass Blues soaked lyrics, and a passion to go out and get into trouble. It's everything a guy like me can ask for.

Bar-B-Q is the last track from Rio Grand Mud, and it's not bad. It's not a song that will ever make it to my Mp3 player or anything like that, but when in a CD mix, it's great.

It would seem that it took until 1973 Tres Hombres album came out until I started recognizing songs, but then again who doesn't know La Grange. Now from what I understand, in the various articles I've read over the years, this one came from a jam at some live venue. It just turned into this beautifully thick Texas Whorehouse of a song. I'm sure that as you read this some woman is stripping to it somewhere in the world.

After that it moves on to Waitin' For the Bus, which I always thought was called Have Mercy, based on the chorus. It's easy to understand, and holy shit you want to talk about some blues.

That's nothing though, because when it goes into Jesus Just Left Chicago I get all Blues drunk. I mean this is some heavy duty blue chugging and guitar swigging. It brings to mind AC/DC's Ride On, but more in your face.

Now, I guess it should be said that most of the time I don't feel a need to talk about lyrics. I've never been a big lyrics person, unless the song is about the lyrics. However, I try to include more about the lyrics because the general public like that. I mean after all it's the lyrics that appeal to all of us right. Those are what means something. Not the case for ZZ Top.

La Grange has words, but what are they? Jesus Just Left Chicago has the title of the song followed by "and is on his way to New Orleans." Then when you get to Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers, those are the only words I can remember. "Why?" You may ask. Because the music is just too awesome to really retain anything more than just the semblance of the story they are putting together. Especially in the early work.

Then when you hear them put together in a song that seems based on lyrics, like the next song Mexican Blackbird, you understand why lyrics don't matter so much. I'm still not sure if that song's supposed to be serious or not. There's just something about it that sounds like it's supposed to be jokeative.

"I been up, I been down. / Take my word, my way around. / I ain't askin' for much. / I said, Lord, take me downtown, / I'm just lookin' for some tush. / I been bad, I been good, / Dallas, Texas, Hollywood. / I ain't askin' for much. / I said, Lord, take me downtown, /I'm just lookin' for some tush. / Take me back way back home, / Not by myself, not alone. /I ain't askin' for much. / I said, Lord, take me downtown, / I'm just lookin' for some tush." Never have more honest words been spoken. This song also came from the same jam as La Grange. However, Mexican Blackbird, Tush and the next three songs all come from 1975's Fanfango!.

I also don't feel a need to say much about Tush because everyone should pretty much know the song. Even if it's not the ZZ Top version. The nice part about ZZ Top is the fact that this song could be played by a Rock, Country, Blues, or any band that's a variation of those. Their entire cataloge prior to 1979 is like that on here.

Thunderbird and Blue Jean Blues are no different from that either. Thunderbird is more upbeat, with a "live" studio approach that's appealing, but doesn't make the song stand out as much as Blue Jean Blues does.

A slow blues song, as the title does indicate, that is a soulful mourning of "The Pair" of jeans stolen by a woman. This is such a great standard blues song, even if the content seems lame to some people. But those people have never owned a pair of those jeans.

Heard It On The X is a great, fast passed, finger blister pumper, dedicated to a radio station, specifically "The X". Like I said lyrics are not incrediably important with ZZ Top. It's the music and the music is always solid.

It's Only Love sounds like it's one of those songs that's only on here so the album it comes from, 1976's Tejas, would be represented. This sounds pretty standard and this collection might benefit from it not being on here as far as I'm concerned. It sounds like a B-side jam that would be great for ZZ Top collectors.

Arrested for Driving While Blind is the same thing. A very typical blues kind of song. If I had to guess based on the two songs submitted here from Tejas, those sessions were pretty much the guys walking in with a collection of lyrics and then they just started hammering out some basic blues and jammed around it. Which might make this a great Blues Jam album, but not all jam albums are great.

It would seem that ZZ Top felt they needed a break after that album because it took until 1979 until they released another album. That's odd for a band from the 70's. Most bands back then wouldn't go more than two years at the extreme most without releasing an album.

Now I have no idea why ZZ Top would say, "Hey, let's do a song written by Issac Hayes." but they did, I Thank You, and it was fantastic. Some of the sound is a bit modern (for the time) because it sounds like there was some keyboard work. However, that could have been production.

From there it's on to Cheap Sunglasses and it's clear at this point that ZZ Top, were trying to mix something different in there. It still sounds like the Texas Blues band, but it's like they got into the Pink Floyd's Catalogue or something. I don't want to say they were using acid, but I think they were using acid. Well, I think peyote is more likely. Does that mean this is bad? Hell no. I love Cheap Sunglasses. I'm sure you do too, because the song is just cool.

I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide is still a more modernized ZZ Top song, but in a way that let's you know that they have control when they want it. To this day I can't get over how badass this song sounds, since it's totally shameless. "Well I was movin' down the road in my V-8 Ford, / I had a shine on my boots, I had my sideburns lowered. / With my New York brim and my gold tooth displayed, / Nobody give me trouble cause they know I got it made. / I'm bad, I'm nationwide. / Well I'm bad, bad, bad, bad, bad, I'm nationwide." How have no rappers stolen this yet?

The only song I didn't know on here from 1979's Deguello is A Fool For Your Stockings, which is pretty much what you expect. This sounds like something that could have come right out of Shaft or something like that. Totally blues, but with a more (would be) early 80's sounds. This is a song that's so honest, which good Blues always is, that it's a man that's dying because of how sexy she is in her stockings. Something today's kids don't seem to understand anymore. They only see it as a fetish.

That finsihes up the first disc and covers almost every song I never new from ZZ Top, except for a few. The second disc is the opposite. I know most of the songs, with only a couple I had never heard. One of those also ended up becoming a joke between those of us that read Stephen's Dark Tower series. But I'll get to that when I get to Afterburner.

However, I'm going to start with 1981's El Loco. I don't care for Tube Snake Boogie. Even as a juvenille pervert I found this song a little cheesy. The next song Pearl Necklace is lyrically the same, however musically it's much better. I will listen to Pearl Necklace without feeling the need to hit the skip button, because I'm a man and I like to give out pearl necklaces too. However, Tube Snake Boogie is a total skip it for me.

Now, I do remember 1983 with some clarity. I was still pretty young, but Eliminator exploded onto the radio with such force that it could not be ignored. There's a total New Wave ambience to the four monster hit songs that were spawned from this album, but they are four of the biggest songs ZZ Top have, after Tush and La Grange. Gimme All Your Lovin' kicks off the "You know, you know these songs" list. This is totally Rock & Roll, and a good simple type of rock. It's almost innocent, unless you actually are paying attention to the lyrics. "Gimme All Your Lovin' / And your hugs and Kisses too".

Find me one guy that grew up in the 80's that didn't get dressed at least once in their life to the next song, and I will point out someone that sadly passed before their time. Even if it was for that first date, when you were thirteen and had a face full of acne that only a mother could love, you got dressed to Sharp Dressed Man. It's like the song demands it.

Why did you get dressed to Sharp Dressed Man, because of the next song. Legs, has got to be the most commercial song ever recorded by ZZ Top. Nothing wrong with this one though, except for it might be the reason I like long legs. Damn media brainwashing. But I digress.

I personally own a couple of different bands performing this song, and each one does it slightly different. ZZ Top also do something different when performing this one live. They take out all the synth sounding crap. It's the only thing that hurts the song.

The last song from the Eliminator album is Got Me Under Pressure. This is just like every other song from this album, in the sense that if you get rid of the 80's New Wave ambience and sound, the songs would be so much better. I mean they are all great songs, some of the best, but the sound is so 80's in a bad drum machine way. How do I know these songs are better without that crap, because they don't use that crap live and it sounds better.

Now take everything I just bitched about, and multiple it by ten and then make it last for five songs. 1985's Afterburn has the sound of what was becoming so cliche in the 80's. I can only say so much how I hate the sounds of drum machines, or sampling. It make Sleeping Bag sound like a mash up between ZZ Top and Madonna or Cyndi Lauper. Just not right.

Stages is one of those 80's songs that are a total skip. I mean it's crap, that I just loathe. Which carries right on into Rough Boy, a song I think is the worst ZZ Top song I have ever heard.

That leads into the Dark Tower story I was discussing earlier. In the third book of the series, there's a reference to drums being played over the loud speakers in a town. One of the characters by the name of Eddie thinks about how they remind him of ZZ Top's Velcro Fly. I always thought this song was from an older album, I didn't realize it was from an album Stephen King probably picked up brand new and was listening to as he wrote that part.

What makes matters worse is that as I was the only ZZ Top fan of all my friends, that read The Dark Tower, so everyone kept asking me about the song and I had no clue. Of all the ZZ Top albums I had seen between various family members, I never saw this album. Also after hearing some of the contributions on hear I understand at least why.

As for the song itself, it sounds like it's right out of Escape From New York, or some other 80's Thiller/Post Apocalypse movie. Which is why it totally makes sense in the part of the Dark Tower that it is in.

The last song from Afterburner is Woke Up With Wood, which is just like every other song on here. That being said, Frank Beard should not be allowed to go near any type of electric drums ever again. I don't know who came up with that idea, but the producer was a moron, no matter how much this may have helped keep the three dirty old men popular.

When I hear an album title called Recycler it doesn't inspire much confidence. However, the two songs that came from the album, Doubleback and My Head's In Mississppi I really enjoy.

Doubleback is the song made famous by Back To The Future III, which I've taken a lot of grief for over the years. It doesn't help that's my favourite of the three movies as well.

Now this song is a bit stock, but compared to the last five songs I just listened to and wrote about this stock is very welcomed change. Very welcomed indeed. This is also another great one of those multi genre songs that ZZ Top do so well.

I had no clue My Head's In Mississippi was as new as it is. I would have guessed this song came out in 1990 as much as I would have thought it came out in 1983, or even 1979, if it weren't for those cursed electric sounding drums. If it weren't for that, this could have been a song from the early days, with ease. It's a really good tune.

The original material, and I'm using that term very loosely, that finishes the album is Viva Las Vegas, which was from the Greatest Hits album. I like this better than the Elvis version, but it's nothing special. I could also do without the studio over production on it as well. This shouldn't have been dance mixed in any way, even if it was on purpose. Another one that sounds much better when they perform it live.

The last three tracks are Cheap Sunglasses (Live), Legs (Dance Mix), Velcro Fly (12" Remix). The live track is cool, since I've heard it live and it's awesome. I could live without the Legs (Dance Mix). That was just not right. Then when it comes to Velcro Fly... well I know the song much better now, and it totally makes sense in that part of The Wastelands.

All in all this is a great collection, and it taught me that if I go out to buy any ZZ Top albums it will have to be from 1979 or earlier. In other words the first disc of this collection blew my mind. The second half is half the commercial crap that we all know, and only some love, and the other is half good solid, over produced music. I guess I should mention that there are four ZZ Top albums, released on RCA records, that were not included on here either. All of those were released after 1992, and clearly left out because of label conflicts.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Iron Maiden - Virtual XI

Iron Maiden has had three vocalists, that appear on studio albums. The first was Paul Di Anno, and he was a gruff rugged harsh vocalled front man, full of piss and vinegar. He was a major part of the reason I think some people might consider the first two Maiden albums a bit Punkish.

After that came Bruce Dickinson and we all know him, so there's no need to go into any great detail about his insanely talented voice and stage presence. However, after him was the very lost and sadly forgotten about Blaze Bayley. He is a good vocalist, he just wasn't Bruce. However, this album was something of a diamond in the rough.

The album opens with Futereal, which is not one of the songs I liked off this album. I don't understand why anyone thought this was single material. It's a basic run of the mill song with nothing that stands out about it. The nice part is it's the shortest song at only three minutes.

The second track on the album is The Angel And The Gambler, this was the big video single, and I thought it was a great choice. Except for the fact that this is the longest song on the album at 9:52. It is fantastic, if not a little repetative. However, what really strikes me about this song is the use of Keyboards. The liner notes credit a Michael Kenney for Keyboards on all tracks except for The Clansman, Angel And The Gambler, and Don't Look To The Eyes Of A Stranger. On those songs Steve Harris played them instead.

Lightning Strikes Twice sounds a bit like a left over from the Fear Of the Dark album. I can so picture Bruce doing the chorus instead, because it sounds like it was more for him.

Oddly enough my next choice for a single on this album would be the second longest song on the album. The Clansman is 9:06 and feels very much like Fear Of The Dark or Dance Of Death in that epic story kind of way. In fact Bruce Dickinson does perform this one live on the later Rock In Rio DVD and it's fantastic. However, Blaze knocks this one out of the park. This is one of the best vocal performances that he gives on the album. Basically if you have ever seen Braveheart, or you know anything about it, you'll get what this song is about.

Now at the halfway marker for this album, I want to point out that the average song is around six and a half minutes. Also if you just did the math you'll have figured out there are only 8 songs on this album. That's a good thing, because it cuts down on filler, and filler on this album would have been really bad. As it is some of the songs on here feel a lot longer than they really are.

When Two Worlds Collide falls under that catagory. It's just a bit over six minutes, but feels like eight or nine minutes of stock Maiden footage that has Blaze's vocals slapped on top. It's catchy in the choruses and other typically catchy parts. But let's be clear, this is a very cliche Iron Maiden song in music. Lyrically it's nothing special to right home about either. Also towards the end of the song I actually wish Bayley would shut up.

The Educated Fool is poetically good, but a bit bland lyrically. I won't bitch about that. However, I will bitch about this being another standard Maiden song. In someways it's below par. In no way is it above par. I really don't even know how to describe this song except for a soft exercise in musical poetry. Although I think I may be giving it too much credit.

Don't Look To the Eyes Of Strangers is another slower track on this album, and it follows the regular Iron Maiden pattern for Fear or the Dark or Dance Of Death. It starts off nice and slow, then get's quick, then slows down, and repeats over and over for 8:11. However, I do like this one because the instrumentation is a bit different than normal. There's a part of me that says this song was inspired by the Police's Don't Stand So Close To Me, at least in part.

The album finishes with Como Estais Amigos. "Como esta amigo / For the death of those we don't know / Shall we kneel and say a prayer / They will never know we care / Shall we keep the fires burning / Shall we keep the flames alight / Should we try to remember / What is wrong and what is right / No more tears, no more tears / If we live for a hundred years / Amigos no more tears / And if we do forget them / and the sacrifice they made / Will the wickedness and sadness / come to visit us again / Shall we dance the dance in sunlight / Shall we drink the wine of peace / Shall our tears be of joy / Shall we keep at bay the beast / No more tears, no more tears / If we live for a hundred years / Amigos no more tears, Oooohooooo, ohooooooo, ohoooooooo... / Inside the scream is silent / Inside it must remain / No victory and no vanquished / Only horror, only pain / No more tears, no more tears / If we live for a hundred years / Amigos no more tears / No more tears, no more tears / If we live for a hundred years / Amigos no more tears, Oooohooooo, ohooooooo, ohooooooooo..." It's almost like Bayley and Gers (the two song writers) knew this would be the last one for the vocalist. It's sort of like his big good-bye, and musically it plays out like that too. This is a very sweet and yet somberly mellow song. A fitting end to the album.

Part of me thinks it's a shame that Blaze Bayley's run was cut so short, because this album showed he and the band were really starting to get their new sound together. At the same time, I am so happy that Bruce and Adrian Smith went back to the band and much better albums were released.

6/10 - content

8/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Friday, July 27, 2012

George Thorogood & The Destroyers - Greatest Hits: 30 Years Of Rock

I love good old Rock & Roll Blues. Bands like AC/DC in the Bon Scott years, or early Brian Johnson, ZZ Top, Eric Clapton, or even some real early Aerosmith (if you want to stretch it a little). However, George Thorogood & The Destroyers scratch an itch that I can't describe. Sure it all sounds sort of the same, but that's because George and gang have a certain style. A style that means that you personally only need a greatest hits CD to be happy. Unless you really like simple blues.

While I was out browsing the music department of an electronics store that I don't want to give any free advertising to, I ran across George Thorogood & The Destroyers' Greatest Hits: 30 Years Of Rock for an acceptably cheap price. I've always wanted one of these best of packages from Thorogood, because I would never find the songs I wanted all together any other way. For starters Bad To The Bone, which I know is so cliche these days, but fuck you if you can't admit liking it, and Get A Haircut were released around a decade apart, so this was just what the doctor ordered.

The album opens with Madison Blues, which I had never heard before I picked up this album. I love how they take a dig at women and their shoes, it's great. Although I guess the real credit goes to Elmore James. "You babes talk about your madison shoes / We've got a thing we call the madison blues / We do the Madison blues / We do the Madison blues / We do the Madison blues, baby / Rock away your blues / Now I knew a gal her name is Lindsey-loo / She told me she loved me but I know it aint true / Put on your Madison shoes / Put on your Madison blues shoes / I've got the Madison blues / Now put on your Madison blues shoes". I know it's not lyrically complicated, but when it comes to good Blues the only thing complicated is the intense jams.

From there it's on to One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, which has become a favourite of mine over the years. This is such a real and true Blues song. It's got a story, the music breathes, and brings a smile to your face, eventhough it is so totally depressing. Sadly this song doesn't get enough radio play due to the 8:26 play time. Which is why I didn't discover it until probably some time in the mid 90's.

Move It On Over and Who Do You Love I remember always being on the radio. I was always indifferent to the first one, but the second was awesome. The first time I heard Who Do You Love I instantly fell in love. The vocals are honestly raw, the music is rough and hard, and the message is clear.

Both songs are also covers. The first is from Hank Williams, the second is from Bo Diddley. I think I may have to make Bo Diddley one of the next CDs I look into. Everyone knows Bad To The Bone, and I've already said what I have to say about it, so I'm going to just move on.

I Drink Alone is another song I instantly fell in love with. I don't know where to even begin with this song. "Every morning just before breakfast / I don't want no coffee or tea / Just me and good buddy Wiser / That's all I ever need / 'Cause I drink alone, yeah / With nobody else / Yeah, you know when I drink alone / I prefer to be by myself / The other night I laid sleeping / And I woke from a terrible dream / So I caught up my pal Jack Daniel's / And his partner Jimmy Beam / And we drank alone, yeah / With nobody else / Yeah, you know when I drink alone / I prefer to be by myself". Between these words, the nasty growl of the sax, and the back alley bruiser swagger of the rhythm section, this song is just bad ass.

At this point the songs I knew before buying this disc start becoming fewer, but a lot of that comes from the fact that many are covers. I never knew how much George Thorogood was a cover artist, but that's actually pretty normal for Blues men. Gear Jammer is new to me. It has a lot of sounds, and musical phrases that remind me of other songs, especially a couple tracks from the original Heavy Metal movie soundtrack, which is odd. It's a bit of a filler, but it should be clearly stated that a filler on this greatest hits package is a hundred times better than filler on an album.

Johnny Otis Show is responsible for the original Willie And The Hand Jive, which was also recorded by Eric Clapton as well. It would seem this was Thorogood's only Hot 100 hit, and I don't understand any of that. The song's good, but not that good. The music industry always puzzles me.

The Sky Is Crying (live) was from the 1986 album Live. It originally appeared on the sophomore album 1978 Move It On Over. This is originally an Elmore James song that is really good, and I really like the version on here, but I find the 8:02 run time a bit much from day to day. As I write this I'm not minding it so much, but when it randomly comes on my 25 disc CD player, I get a bit annoyed at how long and drawn out it seems.

Reelin' & Rockin' (live) is a cover of a Chuck Berry classic. This song was dirty for it's time back in the early 70's, but by todays standards it's just so mild. However, this is a great fun song, which I have come to understand the band liked using as a closer at the end of the night.

I love when musicians take good comedic shots at people. You Talk Too Much fits that bill. "You talk too much, you talk too much / I can't believe the things that you say everyday / If you keep on talking baby / You know you're bound to drive me away / Now you get on the telephone with your girlfriend / Your conversation baby ain't got no end / Yakety-yakety-yakety-yak all the time / You keep on talking baby drive me out of my mind / You talk too much / I can't believe the things that you say everyday / If you keep on talking baby / You know you're bound to drive me away", is the perfect description of so many women in the days before texting. Musically this a is a really sound song, and it's also an original. Which at this point I'm thankful for.

If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave) is the exact same idea, lyrics that make you smile and chuckle mixed with great solid music. "Don't give me no lectures / 'Bout stress and strife / So-ber-i-ety / Just ain't my way of life / You better change / Yes, I'm begging you please / 'cause if you don't start drinkin' / I'm gonna leave / Yeah, Budweiser, Budweiser, Miller Lite / Take a little nip baby it's alright / All a fellow wants is company / Come on baby have some fun with me". Now I know this song sounds like an alcoholic trying to gain some company, but fuck it. Sometimes you just need that uptight bitch to let go a bit. Sorry I know that sounds rude, but many of us guys have been there.

I had no clue until I read the liner notes five minutes ago that Get A Haircut wasn't a Thorogood original. While in Australia it would seem the band stumbled across this one, by complete chance. This is a song that in the liner note George states, "That song gets received as good or better than Bad To The Bone." Which I think is a totally fair assement of the song, because I actually like it better too. Did you know that Jerry Lee Lewis was still releasing music in 1979? Rockin' My Life Away (alternate take)was originally recorded by Jerry that year, and no one except for hardcore fans, like Thorogood, even know it exsists. It's a pretty good song, that I totally identify with.

American Made is a typical Midwest America kind of song. Easily mixable or interchangeable between artist like John Melloncamp, Steve Earle, or Bruce Springsteen. It's good old Americana, that I have no use for.

Who Do You Love? (Rothrock Remix) is a complete "Why the fuck is this even on here?" Just skip it. It's the last song and you don't need to listen.

When everything is said and done it would seem that George Thorogood & The Destroyers are one of the most successful cover bands of all time. Something that I never knew. But since a few of their originals outweigh almost all of the covers, I guess that's acceptable. Also, the fact that this is such a fantastic Blues album also helps.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nickelback - Here And Now

There are so many Rock bands out there that people either love or hate. This normally comes after a band has achieved global dominance and appeal. Names like Kiss, Metallica, Van Halen, Bon Jovi, and nowadays Nickelback are on that list too. I think that's something they can celebrate.

I personally like Nickelback because of the album tracks that barely ever hit the radio. Their albums can usually be split in two. The crap that girls like to hear and is totally radio friendly, then all of the cool stuff.

I personally think this bands biggest problem is they don't know if they want to be Kiss or Bon Jovi, Metallica or Def Leppard, AC/DC or Aerosmith, so they give us this weird hybrid that both sucks and rocks at the same time.

This Means War kicks off the album. It's a good heavy number, with a really thick, yet simple, rhythm end. This is the type of song I like from this Canadian quartet. It's one of those album tracks that totally blow my mind, because they never get the air play they deserve. Although I think this may have become a signle.

The next song is the reason why so many people look down on Nickelback. It's your standard drinking/party song. Also full of the chugging, heavy riffs that I like about them. This song would be their Have A Drink On Me (AC/DC for those that don't know). This is the type of song that is meant to be drank too. The short solo is also pretty decent too.

It's songs like When We Stand Together that people look at these guys and go "douche bags", but really this is a very upbeat message. "One more depending on a prayer / And we all look away / People pretending everywhere / It's just another day / There's bullets flying through the air / And they still carry on / We watch it happen over there / And then just turn it off / (chorus) / They tell us everything's alright / And we just go along / How can we fall asleep at night? / When something's clearly wrong / When we could feed a starving world / With what we throw away / But all we serve are empty words / That always taste the same / (chorus) / The right thing to guide us / Is right here, inside us / No one can divide us / When the light is nearly gone / But just like a heartbeat / The drumbeat carries on / And the drumbeat carries on / (Just like a heartbeat)". Not douchey, just trying to raise awareness of the basic things that so many take for granted.

Midnight Queen is your standard run of the mill Nickelback song about that woman you know is revving Chad's engine every night. And while I admit a chorus like, "She's gonna be my Midnight Queen. / Lock and load and I'm ready to go. / She's gonna lick my pistol clean. / She's got ahold of me and ain't letting go. / And I can't get enough of the things that she does, alright." Seems childish and silly, but you know that's exactly what you want. They do it with some heavy ass rock as well.

The same idea continues in Gotta Get Me Some, but it's done with a slower groove, that totally gets you going. I will garautee that some girl with daddy issues is stripping to this song as I write this, and if there isn't I want to know why not. I mean this is grade "A" dirty fun.

Every Nickelback album has to have at least one song for the girls, and the Pop Rock radio stations. Lullaby is that song and it sounds just like every other lame ass sissy ballad they have already done. So, ladies enjoy your shitty track that's clogging up a decent Rock album. On the other hand it gets the band pussy, so I guess they need to let their's show too. Sorry, I know that's rude, but I don't fucking care. I'm tired of these craptastic songs.

The next song has got to be the best example I have ever seen of rockstars ripping off rappers. Kiss it Goodbye has an awesome opening/post chorus riff that i swear was lifted from 2 In A Room's Wiggle It. I mean you can sing the Chorus from the rap song easily over the Nickelback riff. I'm sure it wasn't done on purpose, but it totally works, and sounds cool.

Trying Not To Love You is the exact same as Lullaby. Crap put on the album so girls keep buying them. I'd also like to point out that I say girls because women like the heavy stuff, and understand that's where it's really at. This continues into Holding On To Heaven, which is a little heavier, but still complete ass.

The one song on this album I think is just overkill on the sexual content is Everything I Wanna Do. It's really not a good song. It has a pretty kickin' solo section, but that doesn't redeem it. It's filler, that I'm sure someone that reads this will curse me out for bad mouthing.

The album finishes with Don't Ever Let It End. This is yet another girl friendly song, but I take it a little more as an honest confession for that special someone. Not in a stupid, "I don't ever want to be separated because our love is eternal" way. But more in a "I'm enjoying the time of my life, with my best friend that is finally seeing me the way I see her." I only like this song because it actually touches those special heart strings, that tells me Chad and I share very simular tastes in women.

All in all it's a good album, or as good as any of the other last few. There are signs of a little growth, but most of it is in production. I personally would like to see these guys drop the commercial shit and start working on some serious material. You can hear the potential that's there for it.

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slash Featuring Myles Kennedy And the Conspirators - Apocalyptic Love

I loved Slash's last self titled solo effort, especially the mix of different artists on it. I think sticking to using just Myles Kennedy on this album may have been a mistake.

Don't get me wrong, I think Kennedy is a fantastic vocalist. He can out perform Axel Rose on old G'N'R songs these days, but he doesn't get me going. I had about as much use for Alter Bridge as I did for Creed. Listening to him on here is like listening to Jeff Keith of Tesla or Eric Martin of Mr. Big. I'm not fond of either, but they are very talented. But, I think that has a lot to do with how I feel about this album.

The title track kicks off the album. It's a good old fashion Rock & Roll song sung by a vocalist the can hit high notes. It get's me rocking, but not paying any real attention. However, One Last Thrill grabs my attention right away, even if it's because it sounds like Myles Kennedy is going "yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah" like a chihuahua on crystal meth. Which isn't what is going on at all. However, both songs sound like leftovers from Velvet Revolver.

Standing In The Sun keeps up the tradition of well crafted rock songs that this album offers. The problem is that so far the songs have all sounds like typical stock material. I mean you can hear that Slash is in there, but is he really? Even the solo on this song seems like he wasn't trying, but just relying on his basic playing.

You're A Lie sounds like Slash is taking shots at Axel for the shots he took during Chinese Democracy. I have to say this is the first song that kind of really grabs my attention. It's a good middle tempo Rock song. However, I'm still not overly impressed.

No More Heroes is the first song on the album I truly like, but it sounds like a Tesla song that could have been on The Last Action Hero Soundtrack. "Took a shot in the dark / Though the aim was true / Still it missed the mark / As we wait for a hero we can't find / Now I know, now I realize / It's a hard line / Once you cross you're on your own / But I won't lie, I'm not satisfied / We can't wait much longer / When your heroes, turn to the enemy / And there's nothing left to hold / When your heroes, give only apologies / I won't deny it leaves me cold".

It would seem that it takes until the middle of the album before I really start to care at all, because Halo is really good too. But at this point I'm still kind of wondering where Slash is. The solo in the song sorta sounds like him, I mean the sound and tone is right, but just on the whole this album seems like it's more Myles and less Slash.

We Will Roam isn't doing much for me either. I have no clue what the hell went on during these sessions, but it doesn't get me off. I want to blame the producer Eric Valentine for being the cause of this stock footage mess of a Rock band struggling in the early 90's, but that's the same guy that did the first album. I think for the next album Slash needs to find a new producer, because this guy is being a "yes man". I mean the production sounds great, for a 90's album, but the songs are just so spiritless.

Anastasia is a breath of fresh air, in it's limited capacity. I mean Slash breaks out into some great Classical music shredding, and then quickly settles into some basic riffing. However, this is the first song on the album that I think Myles actually sounds really good along with the guitar guru, that's channeling one for the showboat guitarist. Good for him, even if it's been done before. I do like the fact that Slash actually opens up while playing this song, and let's it go for a while.

Now, I'm sure that at this point a couple of my friends are giving me the "WTF!?" since I've pretty much ripped on this entire album, but it would seem to me that Slash is cursed with releasing sub standard second albums. I mean Guns N' Roses' Lies, wasn't exactly something to write home about, although cooler than this one. Velvet Revolver's Libertad has grown on me a bit over the years, but it too pales compared to the album before it, Contraband. Did you know that there was a second Slash's Snake Pit album too? I bet you didn't. That one also keeps up the trend. The next song Not For Me isn't helping either. It's second album hangover crap.

I like the heavy on Bad Rain and this would be a decent tune if it was beig performed by Nickelback, but it's still not sounding like Slash in there. I mean it really sounds to me like Slash just really wasn't into making this album, and did it to keep Myles happy or something. He really should have went to work on the next Velvet Revolver album instead.

Hard & Fast opens in a way that old school classic rock fans might recognise from Steppen Wolf's Magic Carpet Ride. From there it moves into a nice classic boogie woogie that reminds me of songs like Moving To the City or Mama Kin. Which is to say that it sounds very Aerosmith, but it sounds stock Aerosmith.

I Never Cry from Alice Cooper is totally being channeled in Far And Away. My favourite of Alice's 70's ballads, so I'd rather hear Slash's homage to that instead of Only Women Bleed. I could do without both all together, though. At least once the song picks up it really sounds like Slash.

The Album finishes with Shots Fired. This is like a left over from Use Your Illusion, or maybe the original demo that became You Could Be Mine, either way it's good, but so fucking boringly typical.

This album really leaves me bummed out. Like I said in the beginning Myles Kennedy is a great vocalist, but I really don't care for him. He's too typically late 80's/early 90's Glam/ Hair Metal for me. I really would have rather Slash worked with a bunch of artists again, it brings out the better in him. This album just sounds dated in a stagnated kind of way.

5/10 - content

7/10 - production

5/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adele - 21

I love Soul. I love Rhythm and Blues. Not to be confused with that Whitney Huston/Toni Braxton, 80's/90's, became nothing but shit, R&B. Adele is put in Adult Contemporary or R&B, and both are fine, but not fair. She deserves better than both. She actually is a respectable musician and writer, not just an amazing set of pipes. Her second album is a classic Soul/Jazz/Rhythm and Blues/Motown album. This album has it all, including the status of now being an overplayed annoying piece of shit. However, before that happened this was a really good album, and will be again one day.

The album opens with Rolling In The Deep. I'm sure you've heard it. I still really like this song and one day may finish figuring out how to play it. It's just a really good song, packed full of major emotions.

I loved Rumour Has It the first time I heard it. Back when Rolling In The Deep was the only single for this album. Even Glee has already used this one. It's the fact that it's pretty much a rhythm secetion (mainly percussion) with fantastic use of layered vocals to set the rest of the song's melody. This is really classic Motown to me.

Turning Tables is sung beautifully. "Close enough to start a war / All that I have is on the floor / God only knows what we're fighting for / All that I say, you always say more / I can't keep up with your turning tables / Under your thumb I can't breathe / So, I won't let you close enough to hurt me / No, I won't rescue you to just desert me / I can't give you the heart you think you gave me / It's time to say goodbye to turning tables / To turning tables", are lyrics that show depth, but at the same time are very typical of a female to sing. That is one of my major complaints about this album. It's a little to whiney. I applaud anyone that takes a break-up and turns it into multiplatinum success, but an album full of it, is a bit much.

Don't You Remember has a bit of a Nashville sound. This could be played on Country radio just as easily as Adult Contemporary. I didn't mind it the first couple times I heard it, but after the tenth listening it became a skipper. Part of the problem is I'm not a heart broken young woman, and even when I've been heart broken I can't stand songs like this.

The only song on this album I still like as much as Rolling In The Deep is Set Fire To The Rain. Oddly this song hasn't been played to death for me yet, and I have people in my house learning this one on piano as well. However, I must give props where props are due, and here they are. This song first sounds different than most of the others, secondly is more like listening to her emotions explode than just crying into a pillow. I would personally have no issues doing a cover of this song, if I were to put together a Blues Rock album.

He Won't Go is pretty much a skip it for me. However, I know that lyrically this song appeals to so many women. "Will he... will he still remember me? / Will he still love me even when he's free? / Or will he go back to the place where he would choose the poison over me? / When we spoke yesterday, / He said to hold my breath and sit and wait / "I'll be home so soon, I won't be late" / He won't go / He can't do it on his own / If this ain't love, then what is? / He's willing to take the risk", personally I find it very typical.

Take It all is just more of the same still at this point.

My friend Drew has the belief that Adele is actually one of those fucked up stalker chicks. I tend to agree now. I mean she's always going on about "The Guy" taking all of her, without her being there, or she's "accidently" running into him, or she's paying way too much attention to the new life this guy is trying to start for himself. When you think about it, this woman is actually really sick in the head. I'm sure the reason no one knows who the guy that inspired this album is, because he has a restraining order to prevent anyone contacting him even in regards to her. This album is a practice in obsession, and we rewarded her with Grammy's and various other rewards.

I'll Be Waiting, while much more upbeat and enjoyable, is still more stalking. I mean look at these lyrics. "Hold me closer one more time, / Say that you love me in your last goodbye, / Please forgive me for my sins, / Yes, I swam dirty waters, / But you pushed me in, / I've seen your face under every sky, / Over every border and on every line, / You know my heart more than I do, / We were the greatest, me and you, / But we had time against us, / And miles between us, / The heavens cried, / I know I left you speechless, / But now the sky has cleared and it's blue, / And I see my future in you,".

This keeps going in One And Only. "You've been on my mind / I grow fonder every day, / Lose myself in time / Just thinking of your face / God only knows / Why it's taken me so long / To let my doubts go / You're the only one that I want / I don't know why I'm scared, I've been here before / Every feeling, every word, I've imagined it all, / You never know if you never try / To forgive your past and simply be mine". I mean there is a clear indication of mental instability here. This woman is just really luneybin obsessed.

I do like the arrangments on One And Only. Most of the songs on this album are well put together, and musically enjoyable. It's the lyrics that really start to become a problem after a while. Also the album is a bit of a downer.

The first time I listened to the CD I was impressed I knew two of the songs right off the bat. Rolling In The Deep, since it was the first single, and Love Song. I didn't know Adele's version, but I was really familiar with the original, by The Cure. This version is really good, although done in a lounge singer with organ kind of feel. Even the percussion sounds a bit like it could be from a fancy organ.

The album ends with a song I really liked. Now everytime I hear it I want to put my head through a wall. Someone Like You, use to be the great song that I only heard whenever my CD put it on. Then it became a song I heard everywhere, all the time. I mean it's stupid how overplayed this song got.

Then came the day Drew went, "Wow, she's a stalker." When did he say that? The first time he actually paid attention to these lyrics. "I heard that you're settled down / That you found a girl and you're married now. / I heard that your dreams came true. /Guess she gave you things I didn't give to you. / Old friend, why are you so shy? / Ain't like you to hold back or hide from the light. / I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited / But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it. / I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded / That for me it isn't over. / Never mind, I'll find someone like you / I wish nothing but the best for you too / Don't forget me, I beg / I remember you said, / "Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead, / Sometimes it lasts in love but sometimes it hurts instead, " / Yeah". This woman clearly needs to be committed. How much more evidence does a person need that this woman is dangerously imbalanced.

All in all, insanity tends to create good music. There's multiple Alice Cooper albums that help prove that point. However, obsessed stalker female crazy is really scary. I mean "boiled the bunny" scary. So, if you like crazy women and Soul this album may be for you. I personally am tired of hearing it.

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

5/10 - personal bias

Monday, July 23, 2012

Motorhead - Rock 'N' Roll

Right after I picked up the Motorhead's Overkill album I found Rock 'N' Roll at a discounted rate. I don't think I paid more than $10 and it was money well spent.

Do I say that because this is an excellent album. I don't think any album that contains the line "Bacon Torpedo" can ever be called an excellent album. However, this is a Rock N' Roll album.

The album opens with the title track which is your basic celebration of all great things Rock. If any band aside from Motorhead were to do this tune it would surely suck most heinously.

Eat The Rich is a great song. I'm not enitrely sure if it's about cannabilism or oral sex, with a line like "Bacon torpedo" it's hard to tell. Either way it feels great to take a bite.

The next track is very Motorhead, and yet not at the same time. Blackheart is sort of typical, but typical in Motorhead's trippy kind of way. The song really isn't trippy though.

Stone Deaf In The USA is a great travelling rock song. Up beat, with a good boogey and nice guitar work. It's swinging and swigging in that American like style.

Then there's an unlisted track performed by special guest, Micheal Palin of Monty Python. It's a nice little prayer Python fans may remember, but slightly altered for Motorhead's consideration. "So they may hopefully buy more trousers."

After that it's back to full speed with The Wolf. A standard affair from this band. It's blazing fast, has a ripping solo, and sounds like a hoard running toward your house to kill, rape and beat everyone inside, and it doesn't even have to be in that order.

Traitor follows that up. It's nothing special. It's one of those songs that does nothing for me on it's own, but it's cool mixed into the album.

Dogs is a bit of a weird one. I don't care for the verses too much, but when it moves to the pre-chorus and chourus I think the song takes off. I like the solo and the break in the middle of the song too.

I pretty much feel the exact same way about All For You, which is the track that follows Dogs. Although I don't care for this song as much.

The album finishes up with Boogeyman. I don't know what to make of this song. It's too fast to boogey to, but it has a boogy feel. The content is a bit freaky, but in a b-movie style. It's just sort of all over the place.

All in all this is an okay album. I like it better mixed into my CD player with other albums on random. When listening to it as a whole I find that it doesn't have the same qualities as other albums. It's almost like Rock 'N' Roll is an album of fillers.

6/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rammstein - Reise, Reise

This review begins with the fact that my father is first generation born in Canada, from a German family. I consider myself Canadian only, but my heritage naturally intrigued me when Rammstein came knocking with Du Haste in 1997.

I personally don't speak more than a few vulgar expressions, that I have no clue what they actually mean, in English. Which traslates to me understanding almost none of Rammstein's songs, without the use of the internet. One of the few exceptions to that rule, actually appears on the Reise, Reise album.

However, this album has more than just German, and English on it. There is also French and Russian. This is a World Metal album, with heavy industrial overtones. Oh yeah, there's a song I also refer to as "Mommy, why is that man hurting that guitar?" which is an accoustic number.

I'm not sure if this is my favourite Rammstein album to date. If it isn't number 1 on my list exclusively, it's tied for that position.

The album opens with Reise, Reise, which Google Translate says means Travel, Travel, but after searching online it's meant more as Journey, Journey. Like I said I don't understand most of the lyrics, and I have only ever looked at a small handful of translations over the years. But, that's what makes Rammstein so good. You don't have to get the words to derive a true sense of the song. It's like Opera that way. A comparison that often comes up when I'm talking about Rammstein.

Mein Teil follows that up. This song is just explosive. I always sing the song in my own English way yelling "This is my time!" because that is how it sounds. Upon further research I learned that the song is related to a modern German cannibal. Cool, yet wrong.

The longest song on the album is Dalai Lama. I figure this is about the leader of peace from the East, but I can only guess, because I don't want to check. I find the choruses chilling and creepy as my English brain is thinking they are singing "Come here, my Dear", but the translator gives me "Come here, stay here". Still spooky in a good way.

Keine Lust which it seems does not mean exactly what the brain translates. Tired, is what I get from the translate program, and it makes sense with the music. It's a quick song that I enjoy mixed in on the album, but not one I would listen to on it's own.

My favourite song on this album is, Mommy, why is that man hurting that guitar. Sorry, I mean Los. This is an accoustic number that just chugs along with the force of a freight train. I love the way the guitar sounds like it is locked in a death grip, while the strings are being back handed, instead of strummed. The language part isn't even worth getting into.

The most understable song on the album is Amerika, an ode to the destruction of the world at America's greedy corporate mentallity. I may be putting my own personal bias in there, but when the chorus is "We're all living in Amerika/Amerika ist wunderbar/We're all living in Amerika/ Amerika, Amerika" and the second time the chorus is used Till Linderman adds "This is not a love song, I don't speak my mother's tongue." It's pretty clear he's not happy with the U.S. This is also the only song on the album to contain English lyrics, and half of them are product placements.

Moskau is next up, and I would like to think that they are trashing as badly on the Moscowvites as they did on the Americans. However, when you realize that it's Russian lesbian duo t.A.T.u. doing the backups you're not as sure. It could be a song of praise. The sad accordian makes me think differently, though. Either way this song sounds very revolutionary.

Morgenstern is another song I love listening to while the album is playing. I don't put it on my Mp3 player unless I put the whole album on, and I tend to skip it, while on random.

Like most older albums, most of the filler type songs are put towards the back of this album. Luckily I don't believe this album has any real filler. Stein Um Stein may be the most likely to be considered filler, but that's just due to the language barrier I think. It is very dramatic, and get's a hell-of-lot of heavy going on. Also if this is the worst song for being a filler, this album may be the most fillerless album ever.

Ohne Dich I've come to learn was a track the band felt didn't fit the feel of the Mutter (2001) album. So, it was put onto this album instead. I understand why they pulled it. It was too much like the song Mutter. The ambience is a little more upbeat than Mutter was, but the overall feel is the exact same. Right down to the sense of deep soulful longing.

The album finishes with Amour. It's the only French word I notice in the song, the rest is German, but it is very clear that this is a very tender love song. Not something I would use to finish an album normally, but then again I don't write German Operas.

Let me be very clear, you do not have to understand the languages of this album to enjoy it. If you are one of those people that get's hung-up on lyrics, that's your loss. If you have the taste, sophistication, and intelligence to be able to enjoy rich, dramatic music, sung in different languages, you really should pick up this album. The only other album I would suggest from Rammstein as much as Reise, Reise is Liebe Ist Für Alle Da, which is even more Operatic than this one.

My only complaint about this album is that it may be their most commercial album. But, it would seem I really like German albums that sound commercial.

9/10 - content

10/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Thursday, July 19, 2012

State Of Shock - Guilty By Association

Between 2002 and 2004 I tried to get into a lot of the newer bands coming out. Some of them I liked, like Nickelback, Death From Above 1979, and even Puddle of Mudd to some extent. One of the bands I actually bought an album from was Canadian group State Of Shock.

My first introduction to them was the video for I Wish I Never Met You, followed by If I could. At that point I picked up their first CD Guilty By Association, just to see how good it really was.

The album opens with Sound Track Of Our Lives. It's pretty typical for the Post Grunge/ Nu Metal era rock. There's a lot of anger and frustration, but it's toned back in the chorus instead of getting even heavier. There's a lot of riff chugging and big open chords mixed around as well. However, I normally just skip this one, because I find it boring.

The next track, Whatchya Gonna Do, it pretty much the same as the last song in sound. I can hear a lot of Korn and Limp Bizkit influence in this song. If those two bands were hitting prozac. In other words, it sounds angry, but not that angry. This is also normally a skipper for me.

One thing I will mention early on, is that the average song runs around 3:20, but many seem to feel longer.

The first song I don't skip is the first song I ever heard from the band. I Wish I Never Met You is one of the best break-up songs ever, it ranks right up there with Puddle Of Mudd's She Hates Me. "I wonder why i even try / (so tired of the fight) / Whats the point when we know / You'll never change / We'll never see eye to eye / I wish i never met you / let me go / it is over / i wish i never met you / now you know / it is over." This is the one song on the album that just was not long enough.

There is nothing I hate more on an album than when a really good fast upbeat song is followed by the album's wussiest ballad. If I Could is the album's big love song. It's okay if you like ballads from the turn of the millenium, because every single one, no matter which band, all sound like they stole their template from Def Leppard's early 90's catalog.

The only thing worse than a band following up a really strong, fast, rockin' song with a ballad, is when they follow that ballad up with a really heavy and thick whinefest. Song I Scream is so very Alice In Chains. It drones, drags, and if it were not for the vocals it would be easy to picture this song on Jar of Flies or Dirt, or even Black Give Way To Blue.

This Is Why is just a continuation of the last song. It's a little more aggressive and contains a tad more yelling, and less droning.

Living Unaware should have been the big ballad single. It's a bit heavy, but not anywhere near as much of a silly "for the chicks" song as If I Could. This is actually a pretty serious song. It's a bit cliche, but the first verse, pre-chorus and chorus set it all up. "Does anyone care that life's unfair / Does anyone else have nightmares? / Cause i'm sick of living in despair / I'm sick of living so unaware / Maybe the world would be a better place / If the heavens would only take us away / Maybe the world would be a better place / If the heavens would only take us away / If time would only go away / (if time would) / We could all be the same / We could all erase our mistakes / (we could) / and never have to face / disgrace again."

I have little to no use for Sh*t Talker (the astrix is how it appears on the album). It's an okay entrance theme for a wrestler at best. In fact I would hope that was the only reason they even recorded this song.

From there we move back to another ballad, Breathe Again. It's another prime example of Post Grunge, that can be very skipable if I'm not in the mood.

The problem with all these bands that came from the Post Grunge era is that many of them have too many influences that I didn't care for back in the 90's. Which is why I went more Industrial and Goth, instead of Grunge, in those days.

So Many Times and So What help fill the end of the album. It's pretty much more of the same. Sure the songs differ, but not enough to keep me interested. In fact,I almost always skip these ones, because they were buried for a reason.

Before I move on to the last song I would just like to quickly recap that the only songs on this album I actually suggest for listening pleasure are Wish I Never Met You, Living Unaware and Rollin'.

Rollin' finishes off the album with one last balladesque song. However, this one is not so much whining about loss of love or any of that girly stuff. This one is more of Blues styled lyrics, "How do you tell someone / so close to you / your holding me back / from I'm meant to do / the more you grow apart / a piece of you knows / if you try to stop me,i'll break your heart (i'll break your heart) / i've seen the places others have gone / its time for me to move on / i've seen the places others have gone / its time for me to move on / Lifes A Rough Road If You Want To Roll With Me / If You Want To Roll With Me / Lifes A Rough Road If You Want To Roll With Me / If You Want To Take A Ride". Had it not been for this song finishing up the album, I would probably never listen beyond Breathe Again (track 9). However, I really like this song.

After listening to the album and having it for close to a decade I have less appreciation for it than I did when I first got it. That isn't to say that it doesn't still find it's way into my CD player from time to time, but it's more likely Wish I Never Met You, Living Unaware and Rollin' are just on my Mp3 player.

That's not to say that this is not a decent album, it's just not decent enough for me. Maybe if I hadn't been a very active listener of music in the 1990's this album would appeal to me more. However, that's not the case and instead it sounds like I'm listening to an album that I normally wouldn't have bothered with back in the day, because grunge was the anti-Metal.

6/10 - content

7/10 - production

5/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Steve Earle - Copperhed Road

When I was still early in my teens, my Uncle Greg gave me an old collection of tapes. One of those was a mixed tape that contained AC/DC, Nazareth, one or two other artists I can't recall at the moment, and Steve Earle.

I later came to understand that he is classified as a country artist, and I can see that. I had no clue based on the songs on the mixed tape. Now, not to say I think poorly of country music, even though I don't care for it, it's too simple of an explantion for this album.

There's Blues, Honky Tonk, Rock, Grass Roots, Folk and Country music all mixed into this album. It's like Jerry Lee Lewis' fire meets Elvis' swagger meets Mid West Rock musical sensibility.

The album opens with the title track. A great backroads rockabilly chaser, about runnin' moonshine, and the oppressively destructive nature it brings. It's like listening to Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, if they had the lyrical content of Johny Cash.

Snake Oil's a good little number too. Nothing special and a bit of a filler, but it's a great tune all the same.

Back To The Wall has a bit of groove and I can easily picture people at the country fair getting their dance moves on to this one. Even with it's rebelious nature. One of the songs on that mixed tape I mentioned earlier was The Devil's Right Hand. You're typical man and his gun kind of song, however I like it. It's a very Johnny Cash country type song, but it's good and catchy. Before I owned this album I would have described it as very John Mellancamp.

This is where the album gets a bit run of the mill country. Johnny Come Lately is your standard song played by those good ole' country boys. Not my cup of tea, but I'm sure others would enjoy it.

Even When I'm Blue is a bit fun and upbeat, but you could still slow dance to it. It's a bit romantic, and down home sweet.

I can't stress enough how much of a midwest type sound is on this album. Not even entirely mid west. I hear Seger, Mellancamp, Springsteen, and a little Bon Jovi even. You Belong To Me keeps up that sound as well. It's a bit biker sounding in ways too.

Waiting For You sounds like something out of an 80's John Hugh film. The end number, with the big hook up that freeze frames, then fades to black as the credits roll. It's not 80's pop shit, but more like Peter Gabriel meets Bob Dylan channeling Fine Young Cannibals. In fact it's very out of place on this album, but in a good way.

Once You Love is country crap. A big cow paddy stinking up an otherwise decent album. I have no use for this song at all, even when it tries to get all heavy and serious. I'm sure it's some girls pillow crying song.

The album finishes with Nothing But A Child. Christian Country telling the story of the Three Wise Men discovering that the new Prince of Men was nothng but a child. Once again it's a song that I'm sure many people would and do like, but it's not my cup of tea.

For the most part I could do without most of this album. I'd only be willing to put four, maybe five, songs on my Mp3 player. Out of those I'd probably skip three of them regularly. It's not that this is a bad album, it's just not my cup of tea.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

4/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Annihilator - Bag Of Tricks

Most of the time a Canadian Metal band comes out I kind of cringe. I was never a fan of Helix or Anvil or any of those other groups. Then I was introduced to Annihilator, but specifically the Bag of Tricks album. How the hell my first album from a band ends up being a collection of demos, live tracks, alternate mixes and various other studio tracks I will never know.

The album opens with Alison Hell (remastered version). This is the bands most popular song, according to the liner notes. That makes total sense to me since it's so well done. First it starts off all Iron Maiden like with a blend of classical galloping guitars and big open riffs, almost like a take from Number Of The Beast. From there it goes a bit accoustic before finally settling into go Metal chugging. The Vocals are a bit WASPish, like many of those early 80's shock rockers. I like the theatricallity of it, as well as the the idea of the haunting/stalking nightmarish story.

From there the album moves to the Phantasmagoria (demo version) which is your pretty basic bang your head Metal. This one reminds me of Anthrax, it has a New York/Brooklyn feel, which I only like every now and then. I don't mind it here. Now the only reason the song is listed as a demo is due to the fact it did end up on a later album, Never, Neverland, but this version features original vocalist Randy Rampage. This song was recorded at the same time as the next two songs.

The liner notes state that Back To The Crypt was written and recorded in 1989 as a preproduction demo along with Gallery, which follows after on this CD. The first song has a very AC/DC sounding rock feel, and then quickly devolves into that New York fury. I find that so funny since this is a band from Vancouver. The reason I won't call it Bay Area Thrash is due to it sounding so clean.

Gallery has a feel like Metallica 's Welcome Home (Sanitarium), if Sanitarium had been recorded for Megadeth's Hangar 18. Musically I think the song is great. The Vocals are ass.

It should also be mentioned, that it is mentioned, that the last two songs were later Frankenstien'd into the song Never, Neverland, from the album of the same name. Human Insecticide (live) does not sound like it's really live. It sounds like it was studio live. In other words a little Hall reverb was added on, with some light ambient crowd for effect. The song is pretty good with it's high speed, constant riffing. This is pretty basic Hard/Metal, but enjoyable, buried in a random mix somewhere.

Soemtimes when a band/member/producer feels a song needs to be tightened up they'll cut small sections out of a song. The Fun Palace (extended mix) has 30 seconds of instrumental re-added to it, because some people clearly just don't like extended musical awesomeness. I don't get why any cuts were made, other than they were worried metal midgets would tune out. Sorry if you know the difference between the two, and like the other version better. I must say that I really like the fact that lyrically Annihilator reads like Alice Cooper. "Panic your conscience lied / Trapped inside / Panic your ultimate nightmare / Welcome to the fun palace / Panic just try to scream / It's only a dream / Panic your ultimate nightmare / Welcome to the palace".

W.T.Y.D. (live) is one of two songs featuring Coburn Pharr giving a vocal performance of "Classic" Annihilator. This song was originally done by Randy Rampage for the Alice In Hell LP, and although this live track is much better than the previous live track had been, it's not as good as the original album cut. Basically the vocals are good, but not the same, the performance style isn't there. However, that doesn't mean this song isn't good. It's decent live Metal that get's the blood pumping.

Word Salad (live) Is the second song. This is a great song musically. I have always thought so. It's a bit standard with the constant eight (maybe sixteenth) noted high speed double bass drums. However, lyrically I think this song is a piece of shit, thanks to the chorus of "Word Salad, no ballad / Word Salad, no ballad".

That brings me to a killer cover of a great AC/DC song, Live Wire (live). It's very easy to hear the AC/DC influence on Jeff Waters (guitarist, principle memmber), and in this song we get to hear Annihilator pull off a cover so well done that I have it on my Mp3 more than I have ever had the original. Not to say it's better than the original, but this song is always better live than in the studio. Also vocalist Coburn Pharr sounds like a genius mix of Bon Scott and Brian Johnson doing this song.

One might think a song about chess would be boring, but Knight Jumps Queen (demo version) proves them wrong. I've scanned every bit of the lryics to see if this is even supposed to be like AC/DC's The Jack with a whole giant game inuendo theme, but that's not the case. It's pretty much a song about a game of chess, and it's really good. I actually listen to this song a lot. Knight Jumps Queen is different from the official release because it features Coburn Pharr on vocals, instead of Aaron Randall which was on the album version from Set The World On Fire.

Fantastic Things is from the same demo sessions as Knight Jumps Queen, and this song has bassist Wayne Darley singing instead. There was even a version of this song recorded for Set The World On Fire as well, but it ended up being cut. I think that was a good call because Annihilator should not sound like Tesla, and that's the best comparison here.

Annihilator has been through a lot of vocalists. Coburn Pharr was the second and had been around for the demo phase for Set The World On Fire, so a few of the tracks on here have him singing songs that fans would know better as Aaron Randall songs. The Bats In The Belfry (demo version) is a great song. If it hadn't been listed as a demo I wouldn't have thought it was. It sounds better produced than quite a few songs/albums that were on The Last Action Hero sountrack. In fact this song could have easily been on that album.

Evil Appetite is also from that recording session, and later became Don't Bother Me for the album. I love the boogie woogie feel to this one. This is very much an AC/DC like song, but the guitar leads and vocals sound very early 90's glam. I want to say Extreme or Tesla, maybe even a bit Jackylish (although that sounds insulting).

Gallery '86, Alison Hell '86, Phantasmagoria '86 are all demos recorded in 1986 in Jeff Water's basement on a Fostex four track recorder. That would be cassette tape recording for anyone that thinks digital home recording has alway been around. The sound on these songs is very demo and yet awesome, especially listening to Jeff performing the Death Metal vocals because Ottawa had a short supply of them at the time.

The one thing I find most interesting about this album is that Gallery appears on it twice, in two different demos, but never made it to a single album as it's own song. Just in bits and pieces.

All in all this is a great CD if you are a fan of Annihilator and you've got to have all those rare little goodies. I'm not that big of a fan. As of my writing this I only own one other album, and that's Alice In Hell. However, I love this album. It has some really great selections that even in their demo state are great songs. If you are looking to try something different, but yet not to different, I would suggest trying this one. You may be surprised, but on the other hand I have known people to not be overly fond of this album too.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Beatles - Yellow Submarine Songtrack

The movie Yellow Submarine was released in 1968, based on the music by The Beatles. In a time before music videos, the leaders of the British Invasion decided to make a giant music video full of new and old material.

I opted to make this songtrack (as it's called) the first review I did for The Beatles, because it was the first song I knew from the Fab Four.

I had a record that had a bunch of fun songs that were kind of for kids on it and Yellow Submarine was one. (Also it was the only Beatle song on it). That was long before I even knew that there was a movie for Yellow Submarine, or an album's worth of material to go with it.

The album's title track was one of the earliest songs I can remember from a very early age. I had a little record player that i knew how to use and at the age of 5 or 6, this song got overplayed. I still love the catchy Pop hooks, extra sound productions, and simple instrumentation. Also Ringo's vocals are always so happy and fun sounding.

I like Hey Bulldog. I have no logical reason. It may be the early fuzz guitar ripping it up in parts, or that gangland bad ass feel. All I know is I like this song, which was recorded specifically for the movie.

Eleanor Rigby is another song that I really like for reasons I can't explain. It's depressing as all hell, and is pretty much only a Beatles song because of the vocals. There are no instruments being played by the band, just a nice string section.

George Harrison is the reason I love the sitar, or at least the sound of it. Love You To's intro, and continued sitar use, mixed with eastern sounding percussion, makes for a totally out there song. It's mystical, whimsical, swerving, and a little hypnotic.

All Together Now, much like Yellow Submarine, is a child like song, in sound and performance. Content is all up to interpretation, in which I would say that maybe it's not so child friendly. Well, that depends on your views on drugs.

LSD - Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, enough said. We've all heard the stories. Actually, that's not even close.

This is one of my favourite songs from The Beatles. It's a journey, within an enigma, within a drug induced fantasy, that is meant to open your mind. If you ask others it's non-sensical gibberish, but those people have no imaginations. I can listen to this one over and over, sober or stoned and still arrive at the same place. The next song up is a little too close to the Pop period for me. Think for Yourself, is one of those songs that reminds my of why I like the Psychadelic era so much better.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and With A Little Help From My Friends, can not be considered separately. It's like a blasphemy.

These are two also on my list of favourite Beatles songs. I have always thought of Sgt. Pepper as being very early Metal sounding. I mean, that song just comes crashing down fast, hard and heavy. With A Little Help is a great comedown that leaves you feeling really good afterward. They are like sex, and the happy moment right before sleep all wrapped together in two nice neat songs, meant to be like one.

I'm pretty sure Marilyn Manson got his idea for Beatuiful People from Baby You're A Rich Man. I don't recall ever reading, or hearing it in an interview. However, I'm sure this was the original genesis. It's a fun bouncy number, but it does little for me other than thinking that it inspired Manson.

Only A Northern Song was recorded during the Sgt. Pepper album sessions, but held back from release. That may have been a good idea, since this is another goofy song. I personally like it in a mix, but while listening to just the album it doesn't do too much for me.

If there is any song that defines the true sentimental value of the Hippy generation it would be All You Need Is Love. The big orchestra-like build up that moves into a gentle harmony and melody, before building back up for the chorus. A chorus that everyone should sing with a smile on their face and a tear in their eye.

I love the idea behind When I'm Sixty Four. It's sweet and innocent, and so beautifully outdated to hear Paul sing, especially since he turns 70 this year (June 18, 2012). I don't think he has to worry about anything in the lyrics either. I've never really been a fan of the song.

Nowhere Man is another one of those Beatles Pop songs. The Lyrical content is kind of interesting and I like the minimalist guitar solo, but that's about it for this song and me.

The songtrack ends with It's All Too Much. I like this one. It's musically interesting, but without being stupidly complicated, or over the top on production. This is a song that sounds like it was allowed to evolve through it's own breathing. When it comes down to it, I like this album mixed up with others. It allows for a variety of sounds and styles. However, listening to just this album on it's own does very little for me. It's not Psychadelic enough to keep me going, and too Poppy to be taken seriously.

There's also an idea that floats around in the back of my head that says this was an excuse to throw b-sides and other tracks that didn't quite make it to albums in a mix for the fans to hungerly snap up. Especially when mixed with an animated movie, full of drug and sex references.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Friday, July 13, 2012

Iron Maiden - Live After Death

I've mentioned recently that Powerslave is one of those Iron Maiden albums that I didn't really care for, so you can safely expect that the live album that supports the studio effort wouldn't do much for me either. However, there is a reason that this live album is considered Maiden's best.

Let me start with explaining that I'm reviewing the original CD release of Live After Death. There have been two more versions released since, that let you put the whole concert together. The version I'm looking at only has a slim track list of twelve.

I should say that the production on this album is a lot better than the Maiden England show. The low end still isn't there like you'd find on a studio album, but the bass along with every other instrument is crystal clear.

Also instead of reviewing this in the standard way that I do, I'm going to look more at the tracklist itself. Let me start with all the Powerslave songs on the album.

Aces High starts the album, which is a great start. Then quickly moves into 2 Minutes To Midnight after that. That's also fine with me, because it gets a song I don't care for out of the way. Revelations gets sandwiched between two of my favourites, which makes it more enjoyable than normal.

There's also Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, which is a great story of "What not to do, if a bird shits on you." However, during the live set this is a good time to go get a beer. Unless you are a fan of the song, which is really good. It's just really in depth for a concert atmosphere, for non hardcore Maiden fans.

Then the last song form the Powerslave album is the title track, which is much more enjoyable live than on the studio album.

The Piece Of Mind album has two songs represented on this live collection. The first song is The Trooper and the second is Flight of Icarus. Aww geez, two fo my three favourite Iron Maiden songs. These are the two songs that Revelations sits between. They are fantastic live.

The Number Of The Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name and Run To The Hills are the representatives from The Number Of The Beast studio album. I'm not a huge fan of Hallowed, and I find it slows this album down too much, especially mixed with Rime on the same album. Number, is a great classic that has to be on here, and Run To The Hills is a top five Maiden song for me.

There are no songs from Killers on this album, for which I'm a bit thankful, but there are two from Iron Maiden. The title track and and my other top three song Running Free. You have to have the band's "song" at a live performance, that goes without saying. The show isn't over until you've at least heard Iron Maiden. Running Free on the other hand is the actual real closer. The version on this album is cut down almost ten minutes from the length one found on other editions. Cutting this one down doesn't change the pure energy used to end the night, it just doesn't let you hear how hard Maiden works at tiring out the crowd either.

With all the releases that have come out since the reformed band with Dickinson, Smith, Murray, Gers, Harris and McBrain, this album kind of loses something. However, for it's time it was a work of art.

8/10 - content

8/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Alice Cooper - DaDa

Now, if I were to say Alice Cooper released a dark album most people would respond with a very sarcastic remark. However, there is an album Alice released that was so dark, that to this day most people don't even know it exists. I mean an album so black that even the Master himself refers to it as his darkest.

There are two very important parts to this album. One is the amount of synthesized instruments. Specifically, according to the liner notes, "Most of this album was done using the C.M.I. Fairlight computer for the most part, the drums are not drums but computer programs embelished with some live drumming." Plus all of the keyboards as well.

The other part is that Alice was beyond a raging alcoholic at this point. According to various articles and interviews Alice was pretty much at the puking up blood phase of alcohol abuse. Which also explains why this album was so dark. It's pretty much a suicide note in many respects.

The album opens with a totally artistic spoken word piece, mixed with musical accompaniment. It's the title track to the album, and pretty much comes off as a therapy session. It sets the mood for such a disturbing album to come.

Enough's Enough is a song about a son dealing with his father's overbearing abuse, after his mother dies. "Enough's enough's enough's enough / When my mother died, she laid in bed and cried: / "I'm going to miss you, my brave little cowboy" / I saw my father smile (a smile he tried to hide) / He told me "Son, I've really got you now, boy" / Come on, little cowboy".

From there we move on to Former Lee Warmer, which is the story of the creepy brother locked up away from everyone else. The mad man kept away from the family. This is almost like a reverse from the normal insanity based Cooper songs. Instead of being the insane look out, it's trying to look in on the insane and figure them out.

I don't think that this album was meant to be a concept album of any type, however there is a natural flow through the first three songs that really gives the idea that it may be. This is like the Alice Cooper V.C. Andrews album. Flowers In The Attic is one that comes to mind.

The fourth song on the album is No Man's Land. A case of multiple personality disorder, mixed with a down and out life. "She had money all her life / She wasn't lookin' to become my wife / She said, "I hope you understand, / I just want a nightful of man, Sonny" / She didn't notice I was thin with a delicate chin / Nor the softness of my skin, nor the scent of my other personalities / She didn't see through my disguise - didn't see it in my eyes / She was in for a surprise when she discovered my emotional plurality / She said "Come and lay down on the floor with me / It's warmer here by the fire" / She didn't know that there was more of me / She'd have to learn to love all four of me". Which when mixed with the previous four songs, you get the idea that Alice himself may have really been dealing with some real identity issues.

There has to be one song on every Alice Cooper album I can't stand because it's just too fucked up for me. Dyslexia is filler lyrically, musically, and anally. I mean this song should never have been put on this album. It's not cute. It's not educational. It's not anything except for an annoying 80's synth pop of a sort. It's also the only song on the album that isn't brilliant.

Scarlet And Sheba is by far the best S&M song I have ever heard. No bad innuendos, not typical Metal stereotypes of whips and leather. This song is a true fetishist love song. "Scarlet wants to hold me, wearing just a red-veiled hat / Sheba's in the shadows waiting for her turn at bat / In the parlour where the lights are low / A vulture sister act, I watch their show / They're trying to kill me, want to pick my bones / Methodically, erotically". I'de put all the lyrics, but some would think I was printing Erotica.

Redneck Alice is one of the funniest characters I've ever heard performed. The song I Love America, is so cliche 80's redneck, right down to the mention to "I watch the A-Team every Tuesday night / I graduated, but I ain't too bright / I love Detroit 'cause I was born to fight / I love America". This is beautiful satyrical commentary on how Alice saw American life in 1983.

Alice has covered a lot of subjects over the years in his music, but Fresh Blood is the only time that he has been a Vampire. I'm not sure if this song, or the next one, is my favourite. But with lyrics like "Fresh blood, a sanguinary feast / Is all he's living for / And he craves it more and more / Old men, ladies of the night walking in the rain / If they walk alone are never seen again". How can you not get all Gothy in your incisors. Not to mention this song has some beautiful soul too. The backup vocals add so much as well.

The album ends with Pass The Gun Around. The chorus to the song pretty much just repeats the song title "Pass the gun around / Give everyone a shot... give everyone a shot, why don't you / Pass the gun around / Throw me in the local river, let me float away". The verses read as a complete checkout note. "Sonny wakes up in the morning feeling kinda sick / Needs a little Stoli Vadka, needs it really quick / Sees a little blood run from his eyes / Feels a little hotel paralyzed / (chorus) / I wake up watching cartoons... the television's on / There's a couple of party balloons and all my money's gone / She was just a reason to unwind / And actually the last thing I could find / (chorus) / Sonny wakes up in the morning, there's a stranger in his bed / Someone's pounding on the hotel door, he wishes he was dead / I've had so many blackout nights before / I don't think I can take this anymore". Never in all my life have I ever heard someone use a song to beg to be put out of their misery like this.

Like I said this album is dark, fromt he start of Daddy taking over after Mommy's death, right up until the point Alice finally says he's done and wants someone to put him down. That being said this is one of the five best Alice Cooper albums ever, as far as I'm concerned. If not for Dyslexia a perfect ten.

In fact this album is so good, that one of my friends, Drew, only owns this Alice Cooper album, or at least that was how it was for a long time. The only other one I can specifcally recall him having is Raise Your Fist And Yell.

9/10 - content

10/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias