Friday, August 31, 2012

Ted Nuget - Out Of Control

One of the greatest parts about the early 1990's was the release of the CD boxset. The very first one I remember was the Led Zeppelin box set, which was even advertised on television. After that followed various other ones by other artists. Aerosmith had released two in less than five years even.

This review is about the 1993 boxset Out Of Control, by Ted Nugent. This is the only boxset I've ever owned that only has two albums. Most have three or more. But, two discs are all you need to cover The Nuge's career from start until 1993. This is one of those packages I highly suggest if you can find it, and love Detroit Rock.

Out Of Control opens with Baby Please Don't Go, as covered by The Amboy Dukes. This is a classic song that I've heard covered by countless bands, and I've even made sure to learn the simple rhythm section in case I should ever need it. I don't care either way about this cover. It's solid, but Ted's guitar work isn't all that impressive. He wasn't Double Live Gonzo yet. If I had to pick a cover of this song to listen to, I'll go with the AC/DC version.

My favourite Amboy Dukes' song is Journey To The Center Of Your Mind. This is my third favourite Ted Nugent song over all. This is when you start seeing Deadly Tedly coming into being as the guitarist we all know. On top of that, this song sounds very 60's hippy trippy, which is odd in one way. Since Nugent is against drug use. It's the chorus that makes this song for me. "Come along if you care / Come along if you dare / Take a ride to the land inside of your mind / Beyond the seas of thought / Beyond the realm of what / Across the streams of hopes and dreams / Where things are really not."

I find it funny that in the day of Digital music that a song is left being mono. You Talk Sunshine I Breathe Fire is specifically listed as being mono, right on the CD. I don't understand why they would do something so silly, except for being lazy and not wanting to take the time to re-produce the song. Personally I think this was a bad call, and this track suffers for it. Also the fact that it sounds pretty much like most of the other Amboy Dukes stuff.

There is a cover of the classic Gloria on this collection. It's okay, and if you like the original you may enjoy this one too. This is the first track on this disc to be listed as previously unreleased. The set lists this as being an Amboy Dukes song, Ted Nugent disputed this on his radio station 102.7 WWBR, with his ego claiming this was not done by the Amboy Dukes. I guess he wanted all the credit like normal.

I think Ted is a fantastic guitarist, and he has written some amazing songs, but I really think he should be loaded on a bus with Gene Simmons and Eddie Van Halen, then sent plummeting off a cliff. Just so we won't have to hear about their overly inflated egos anymore.

Call Of The Wild is the first song on here to be a Ted Nugent song, eventhough it's still the Amboy Dukes. The music is no longer sounding like a 60's California hangover, and instead like a Midwest Rock band. This is a good tune, and I'm all for cranking it. It's a bit of a filler, but only as a box set track. As an album track, it's great.

Number four on my list of top five Ted Nugent songs is The Great White Buffalo. You want to talk about Steve Vai, Joe Satchriani, Jimi Hendrix, Eddie Van Halen, or any other high speed guitarist you can go right ahead. I've seen this man play this song live and his hands are lightning fast. He isn't just working the strings. During the playing of this song he is also constantly switching back and forth between pick-ups, augmenting the dials and he never loses a single beat. He also sings at the same time. This song is just wild. Oh yeah, there's also a great message in the song. "Well,it happened long time ago, / In the new magic land. / The Indian and the buffalo, / They existed hand in hand.... / The Indian needed food, / He needed skins for a roof. / But he only took what they needed,baby. / Millions of buffalo were the proof. / Yeah,its all right. / But then came the white man, / With his thick and empty head. / He couldnt see past the billfold, / He wanted all the buffalo dead. / It was sad...It was sad. / Oh yeah...yes indeed."

This marks the end of the Amboy Dukes and the start of solo Ted Nugent.

Every band has that one song that I can never figure out why it's so popular. For Ted Nugent the song is Stranglehold. It's a good solid song. I won't deny that, but it's a little boring from a Ted Nugent point of view. It's a bit too much in the way of guitar wanking to be enjoyable. It's like Ted opted to go all Pink Floyd, without understanding what being all Pink Floyd is all about.

Stormtroopin' is a pretty decent song. It reminds me of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal in many ways. I can hear a lot of Diamond Head and even some early Def Leppard. But just to clarify, I mean that I can see how many N.W.O.B.H.M. bands took their sound from this song.

After that is Hey Baby. It has a great swing to it and the guitar lines are pretty kickin'. This is one of those songs that you have heard and never knew that it was Ted Nugent. Over all it's not a song that I care for, but I see why many like it. This one sounds very Motown influenced.

If you like high octane blues riffing Motor City Madhouse is the song for you. Lyrically it's a pretty typical song, but it's at least honest. "Woh, those fortified motor cars, / High energy, and it’s all ours / Ha ha ha ha ha / Dig this / Woh, such a heavy place for the boys and girls, / It’s the murder capital of the world / Yeow! / Well, Detroit city, she’s the place to be, / Mad dog town gonna set you free / I say. " This is such a typical Nuge song, but it's a really good typical Nuge song.

Free-For-All is one of those songs I just love to crank. That opening riff is just wickedly contagious and groovy. Mixed with Ted Nugents vocal performance which was very Rap like, in the same way as Steven Tyler, this song is just exciting. I also enjoy these lyrics. "Never before have I turned on you / You looked too good to me / Your beady eyes, they can cut me in two / And I just can't let you be / It's a free-for-all and I heard it said / You can bet your life / Stakes are high and so am I / It's in the air toni-i-ight / I see you there with your cheshire grin / I got my eyes on you / Shake your tailfeathers in my face / And there's no tellin' what I'll do / Well looky here, you sweet young thing / The magic's in my hands / When in doubt I whip it out / I got me a rock 'n' roll band / It's a free-for-all".

I don't care for Dog Eat Dog. I don't even know what to really make of this one. I mean it's okay, but nothing special. It's very N.W.O.B.H.M., and very typical of that style as well. If you are into the earlier, more rock oriented stuff from that time period, you may enjoy this one more than I do.

If you want to hear some great guitar please listen to Turn It Up. If you want to listen to music that sounds very high speed 1950's Rock N' Roll turns heavy 70's Rock, then returns back the the previous format, you may want to listen to this song as well. If you're like me, you can just skip this one.

Street Rats is a previously unreleased version. The notes say that it's an alternate version with Derek St. Holmes. I'm not familiar with the original version, so I don't know what the real difference is. I can say that this sounds like a well produced demo, so it may just be a take with Derek singing instead of Ted.

That makes me think of something I didn't think to mention before. Most of the songs that are performed during the post Amboy Dukes days, that are on this first disc have Derek St. Holmes as the vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Some songs feature Ted singing, but not as many as you may think.

The second previously unreleased song from the first disc is Magic Party. I see why it was never released. What I don't understand is why it was recorded. It sounds like it may have been recorded for one of those 70's shows like The Great Space Coaster. This may have even been recorded for that specific purpose.

Hammerdown sounds like it could be Iron Maiden or Judas Priest without even trying. Well, if you ignore the vocalist. I mean you could easily confuse this song as being very N.W.O.B.H.M. The only thing is it causes a big problem that many of those albums suffer from as well. The production sucks.

Okay, it's not fair to say the production sucks. The problem is that these songs weren't digitally remastered from the original recordings. Instead they were just copied over directly from the master tapes and so it sounds flat, unless you crank it up. The only way to get around that is to find the original songs on vinyl.

The second disc opens with Cat Scratch Fever. This is tied with Stranglehold for best known Ted Nugent song. The only difference is I really dig this one. First off, I love when Ted sings. No offense to Derek, but all my favourite songs are Ted songs, except for Journey To The Center Of The Mind. This is song five in my top five.

I have a few problems with Ted Nugent. The first is he is a gun toting, ignorant, egotistical, jackass. The second is he has a only three types of lyrics. Hunting animals, which are some of the best, hunting beaver, or skinning and eating beaver. Which is why I find Wang Dang Sweet Poontang just ridiculous. I can't give it any type of real attention, and that's the same way I've felt as long as I've owned this collection.

Live It Up is pretty cool. It's one of the better produced songs so far. It seems that by 1977 they were finally figuring out how to record Ted properly. It's amazing how much the sound quality changes on the second disc.

Homebound is a fucking awesome instrumental. I mean this thing is totally worth cranking right the fuck up. This is Rock N' Fucking Roll played in style. It's everything that Ted stands for as partiotic American rolled up into a musically kickin' song,, that doesn't have a bunch of bullshit "We love America crap." Anyone can feel great about their country while listening to this one, as long as you are out in the wild.

Out Of Control is kind of typical Nuge. There's nothing different or unique about this one, so if you like Ted you should like this.

After that comes a block of four live tracks. Two are previously unreleased and two are from Double Live Gonzo.

The first previously unreleased live song is Oh Carol. It's very Chuck Berry. After that comes the two tracks from Double Live Gonzo, Just What The Doctor Ordered and Yank Me Crank Me. The first song is originally from Ted's first album. I don't mind it, but it's not a favoutire of mine. The second was an exclusive new track played live at the show. It sounds a lot like Dog Eat Dog. I will say that the production kills this track. If it had sounded better, I may have enjoyed the song more. It has a great Blues sound to it.

Walking Tall is the other previously unreleased live track. It's introduced as being a new song for the album, but it never made it to an album. I don't mind this one, it's okay, but I would have liked to have heard a better version of it. I will say that there is some crazy stuff going on with the guitar on this one that is worth checking out.

Need You Bad is totally forgetable. It's a background song that you hear, but don't really pay attention to. Luckily Weekend Warriors follows that up, and is totally enjoyable. At this point it's back to studio tracks, and production that should have been done better. This song sounds like they were trying to recapture the Amboy Dukes sound instead of continuing down the awesome path started on the Cat Scratch Fever album.

At this point I really start to tune out on the songs. It took until 1979, but even Ted started playing with a sound that was a bit New Wave, much like everyone else started doing to try and stay relevant. All I can do is shake my head and wonder why. Not a single one of them ever got it right.

I have the same opinion about Sate Of Shock, and if it wasn't for Wango Tango being impossible to ignore I would just suggest hitting the skip button until you hit the last song. However, Wango Tango is fun in a Frank Zappa kind of way. In fact saying that this song is Ted Nugent meets Frank Zappa would be a great description for this song. Also you want to talk about Rapping? Holy crap does Ted get crazy with it, and his twisted lyrics. "I got salivate late, salivate late, salivate late / I got the droolin', droolin', get all wet, salivate, salivate / Got salivate, salivate, salivate, salivate, heh heh heh / Yeah you look so good baby, I like it, I like it, I like it / You know what I been talkin' about honey / It's a nice dance, we gotta a nice dance goin' here / Now what you gotta do, I'll tell you what you gotta do / You got to pretend your face is a Maserati / It's a Maserati / It's a Maserati / It's a gettin' hotty / It's a Maserati, Maserati, Maserati / It's a fast one too man, that thing's turbocharged / You feel like a little fuel injection honey? / I'll tell ya about it, I'll tell you about it / I gotta get that hood scoop off, shine and shine and buff / I'll check out the hood scoop / I gotta buff it up, buff it up, buff it up, buff it up, buff it up," and that's a litte piece from the middle of the biggest on running sentence ever.

If you've heard one Ted Nugent song you've heard Scream Dream. To be honest it sounds like he ripped of Stranglehold to do this one.

Terminus Eldorado is one fo those songs that Ted just should not have done. It's like he heard ZZ Top start doing this weird Blues, Disco, New Wave sound and wanted in on it. The thing is he didn't do it as good. Instead it sounds like a Blondie song.

The second last song on the album is a live track called Jailbait. This is a pretty decent tune. I don't care for the production, and the lyrical content is completely asenine, but it's some of the more enjoyable music from this period. This was recorded originally for the Intensities in 10 Cities live album.

I feel I should mention the gap between 1980's Scream Dream album and the 1986 album Little Miss Dangerous. I can only imagine that those songs must have really sucked if they didn't make it on here.

The last song on the album is the title track from Little Miss Dangerous. This is also in the top five of my favourite Nugent songs. This song just blows my mind every time I hear it. It has me dreaming of lace and leather, and in this day and edge it has me fantasising of a Gothic beauty. "In the midnight hour / about the stroke of twelve / She'll be steppin' out / she's gonna raise some Hell / And it's her move / she's holding that wild card / Gotta make her move / she'll make your life so hard / High hell sneakers / head to toe in lace / Such a dangerous body / with a little girl's face." Musically this song just has me busting a nut. The bass line is hypnotic, the drums are mesmerizingly steady, and the guitar is so Tedly.

If you've been paying attention you'll notice that I've only mentioned four of my Six top Ted Nugent songs. The list goes like this; Little Miss Dangerous at number two, Journey To The Center Of the Mind at number three, Great White Buffalo at number four, and Cat Scratch Fever at number five. The very first song on that list is not on this collection for reasons that are beyond me, because the song had been recorded just never "officially" released, at that point. Fred Bear, is by far the best of all the Nugent songs as far as I'm concerned.

If this collection had contained that one extra song instead of the last couple of tracks I didn't care for this review would end with a higher score than it does. The biggest problem with this colleciton is the fact that no real care was put into putting it together. So, the production is completely ass over half the time, and unless you really crank it up, the sound also is very cold.

There is another Nugent two disc collection that was released in 2002 called The Ultimate Ted Nugent. Most of the tracks are the same, with a few exceptions, and if I knew that the sound quality was better I would almost suggest it over this one. The only thing is that it doesn't have any Amboy Dukes, and it doesn't have Fred Bear either. That's the only reason I would still lean towards this one instead. The one thing I will stress about this collection is that it is great when it is mixed in with a bunch of other CDs. I find I enjoy these songs more when listened to separately, as opposed to listening to the entire collection straight through, over even just one disc.

7/10 - content

5/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Thursday, August 30, 2012

AC/DC - The Razor's Edge

I believe I've mentioned before that AC/DC's The Razor's Edge was the first AC/DC CD I ever owned. It was also one of the first five CD's I ever owned. The version I'll be reviewing here is the 2003 digitally remastered copy. My son has my old copy.

Let me start by saying that the twelve dollar upgrade was worth it. Holy crap the sound is explosive. I mean the dynamics are just through the roof. They make your heart pound in your chest. These songs sound a million times more lively than the original CD does. So, you can already see where I'm going with the production rating.

If you didn't own a copy of this album for some weird reason, I know I made a few tape copies for friends, let me explain how much of a success this album was. It wasn't Back In Black good, but it was this balls to the wall Hard Rock turns Heavy Metal album that created a whole new generation of AC/DC fans. I was one of them. I've explained that I had cassettes of earlier albums prior to owning this CD, but it was this CD that really appealed to me at the time. Highway To Hell is and always will be my favourite album, but at the time I swore by this album.

Thunderstruck which opens the album was the guitar riff of guitar riffs, to my entire grade eight class. At least the cool ones. We all knew one guy that learned to play it, and he was a guitar god as far as I was concerned at the time.

On this remaster you can hear so much more than ever before. Strap on a set of really good headphones, and just listen to the ambience. This effect can also be achieved by cranking the stereo up. I mean really cranking it on some P.A. speakers. But, I thought I'd post the responsible option first. However, based on the sound in my living room, option two is really good too. AC/DC sounds best on an old school stereo system that's built to blow the roof off the house.

After that comes Fire Your Guns. Take all the good things I said above, and strap them on to a song that I don't care for, and that has no ambience, and that covers the this one well. However, I still feel a need to chant "Fire Your Guns", it's just so catchy.

I remember how much I loved Moneytalks when it came out. This was my song, that I sang in front of the mirror, imagining the money falling from the sky. This was the only song where I wanted to be Brian Johnson instead of Angus Young. Later I would discover I prefered being Chris Slade (This album's drummer, and the drummer on Live as well). As I got older I started caring for this song less and less, but that's just due to the commercial sound.

This album had some great singles. Thunderstruck and Moneytalks are good examples, but it was the album tracks that made this album. The album's title track is the best song on the album. It wasn't a hit, and I loved that it was on the live album, but it's this version that makes me drool. The remastered version has that amazing ambience, which makes it sound like the band is performing in the middle of a city square during the dead of night, on top of the already heavily present gangland mentality. The Razor's Edge has gone from being bad ass, to being Darth Vader.

This album also contains my favourite Christmas song, that's not a parody of a classic rock song. Mistress For Christmas captures that awesome "special sweet little something next to the fireplace while the snow falls outside" vibe without even trying. (That's my quote, not lyrics, just so there's no confusion.) It's the perfect Christmas song for Guys. I also acknowledge the male chauvanistic pig quality and all I have to say is "You need to get laid well!"

Rock Your Little Heart is a fun song, but an AC/DC album filler. I mean hell, I wanna rock my little heart everytime I hear the chorus, but that doesn't make it a great song, just a fun one. If this song had come out before all the other songs about rockin' that AC/DC released over the years, this might have been one of those classics instead.

The key to the remastered album is the ambience of many of the songs. For example, I was never a big fan of Are You Ready. It was a hit single, but I thought it was the over played, over rated single. On this re-release it sounds so much cooler. I mean it's no longer a skipper and has become a cranker. There's just this great echo/reverb/overdub sound on some of these songs that has just been made to sound explosive with the remastering. It's very much like discovering a whole new album.

Got You By The Balls is another song that became fantastic with the remaster. I always liked the song to some degree, most of which was very silly and juvenile, but now I enjoy it so much more. This is probably one of the heaviest blues songs I've ever heard. The lyrical content is also very bluesy too. "Hey mister businessman / Head of the company / Are you looking for a lady / One who likes to please? / Hey mister businessman / This one likes to tease / With a special service / In French quantities / But she won't sacrifice / What you want tonight / She won't come across / Unless there's money in her hand / And she's calling all the shots / She got you by the balls (repeat multiple times) / Hey mister businessman / High society / She can play the school girl / And spank you all you please / But she won't sacrifice / What you want tonight / She won't come across / Unless there's money in her hand / She don't go overtime / She got you by the balls (repeat multiple times) / (Kiss your balls goodbye) / Hang it left, hang it right, / Got you by the balls / Got your shorts, got your curlies / Got you - by the balls / She got you by the balls (repeat multiple times until end)".

The same content is carried on in Shot Of Love, which is so catchy sounding, but not a song I'm overly fond of.

I keep forgetting that Let's Make It is even on this album. When I hear it, I enjoy it, but it's just one of those AC/DC songs I never think about. Which leads me to saying that this album has some of the most enjoyable fillers I have ever heard. Bruce Fairburn did a fantastic job with the original production on this album. He took a bunch of songs that are so A-typically AC/DC and made them all stand up and shout. At least while the CD player is going. As I said I forget some songs even exsist outside of the moment.

Goodbye And Good Riddance To Bad Luck is one of the few AC/DC songs that I only like for the lyrics. "Getting (bombed | bummed) out on booze / Got nothing to lose / Run out of money / Disposable blues / Sleazy hotels / Like living in hell / The girls on the hustle / With nothing to sell / Want something for nothing / It's always the same / Keep pushing and shoving / And I'm down on the game / Always in trouble / Forever detained / Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye / And good riddance to bad luck / Well spread out the news / There's a free man loose / Back out of jail / And chasing some flooze / Bad luck has changed / Broken the chains / Lay down a claim / For monetary gains / Wonder what's coming / Out for the take / Freedom for loving / And lust for the taste / Eyes are wide open / Wild to the game / Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye / And good riddance to bad luck / Goodbye and good riddance to bad luck ". Musically I have very little use for the song, althought the solo is kickin'.

The album ends with If You Dare. This song is just pure testosterone. It's like TNT (the AC/DC song) gave birth to a bastard Punk that really wants to get his bad boy on. This is just bad assery at it's simple best.

I love this album more now than I did for a long time. I can still feel a lot of the young teenager in me rockin' his little heart out, while the adult in me sits back and goes, "This is some good shit."

The bottom line is, if you don't have this album you should, and you should make it the 2003 remastered version. If there are newer better remastered albums I don't know about them yet, so I can and will only suggest this version of the original CD version, or the cassette.

8/10 - content

10/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Diamond Head - Lightning To the Nations

I got into Diamond Head for one simple reason. Metallica was into Diamond Head. Half of the Lightning To The Nations album can be found in the official Metallica catalogue. If you include the unofficial catalogue there are only two songs on this album Metallica hasn't covered. I think that's pretty impressive, and speaks mountains about this album.

Also known as The White Album, Lightning To the Nations was the record that shot Diamond Head to the front of the pack in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, at least in 1980 when this album dropped. Produced by Reg Fellows and featuring the line up of Sean Harris, vocals, Brian Tatler, guitar, Colin Kimberley, bass, and Duncan Scott, drums, this album will blow your mind.

I bought this album in the summer of 1996, and I was treated to some fantastic music. It was the first time I ever heard the album's title track. It's like a cross between Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. There's that typical fast paced speed riffing of NWOBHM, but it still has sections that are allowed to breathe and take form on their own without it sounding forced, like bands of 70's Heavy Metal understood.

Just so we are clear, I don't like The Prince. I don't like Metallica's version. I don't like Diamond Head's version. I just don't care for the song. I don't have a good reason, and that will just have to be good enough for you, because I don't have anything better. I think this song is weaker than the next one, and the next one is either about vampires or oral sex, depending on the day of the week you ask certain members of the band.

"Over and under, do you go down to the sea / Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah / Sweet and timely caress, dear babe fulfillin' me / I can feel her heart, it is beating down inside / Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah / Tasty, tasty, tasty, tasty / Into her valley, all her charms taste of love / Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah / Fragrance of my dreams, yeah go down, take my love / Oh yeah, yeah / Taste my bitter wine, cos there's something boiling up inside / Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah / Tasty, tasty, tasty, tasty / / Make me go..... / Shoot me / Faster, faster / Love, sucking my love / Oh Lord, sucking my love / Oh Lord, sucking my love". These are the words that make up Sucking My Love, the only song Metallica has covered from Diamond Head, but never officially released. I can understand why, but at the same time I think it's a great song musically. At least it's better than The Prince. It has a great guitar riff, the bass is doing what bass is supposed to do, and the vocals are full of echo for dramatic effect. There's also a bunch of improved moans in those lyrics as well, which help set the tone for this song even better. Also the wind chimes add that magical touch this song needs as well.

After that it's on to the most popular Diamond Head song. Am I Evil? You know it, as it is performed by Metallica, or at least you should. It was on the CD release of Kill 'Em All until 1995 or '96. It's all played live at almost every Metallica show as well. In fact most common people would argue this is more a Metallica song than a Diamond Head song. Those people are morons and shouldn't be allowed to speak. If they have ever listened to this original version, they would hear that Metallica did a really good job of covering a spectacular song. However, this version is better.

The weakest song on this album is Sweet And Innocent. This would have been a good song if it had been released by Def Leppard, might have even earned them a couple more platinum records. But, on this album it's substandard and a bit of a let down. The nice part is that it's the second shortest song on the album, so you aren't stuck listening to it for long, although it does feel like it runs long.

It's Electric is a good song, but the production on the intro sucks ass. It sounds like they didn't quite cue the tape right and the first half second is spliced in wrong. I will say that the Metallica cover is much better than this version, but I think it's because this song needs to sound thicker than the production this album has to offer.

The album finishes off with Helpless. I think that this should have been the lead off track instead. It doesn't have the sound of a finishing song. This is another track where I think the thin production hurts the song a bit. For the time it was fantastic, and the music is phenominal, but it could have sounded better, and would have today.

This is one of those albums that I am not only happy I picked up, but I consider myself better off for giving myself this educational experience. There is so much that can be taken from this album, including how to write bad "Oh, baby" lyrics with success.

I will say that in the decade and a half that has followed since I picked up this album I have yet to pick up another Diamond Head record. Partially because I've never heard anything about any other album, and partially because I've never come across another one. If I were to find another album, I would pick it up based on how much I enjoyed this one.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet

It was 1986 and Bon Jovi released the greatest album they would ever make. Produced by the ledgendary Bruce Fairbairn, and full of great musicianship and catchy lyrics.

This was the very first "Gorwn up" cassette I ever owned. I recieved it for my birthday the year it came out. I've spent much time listening to, and debating the significance of this album. I have come to two conclusions over the years. It was meant to give Glam/Hair Rock of the 80's some form of a real credential. It was also meant to make this music female friendly.

The album opens with Let It Rock. This is a great album opening. The big, dramatic, keyboard opening that just lights up your auditory system. It lets you know that you will have to Rock, and you'll have to enjoy it. Even if you don't want to. It's just one of those songs.

The next two songs are Bon Jovi's greatest hits. You Give Love A Bad Name and Livin' On A Prayer are the two most recognizable songs this band has ever released. Over the years I've come to accept the first one as a staple in the 80's lexicon of Arena Rock. The second song I've come to consider as one of the most over rated songs of all time.

The only thing Livin' On A Prayer has going for it is the use of the talk box with the guitar. I have no use for this song and will skip it everytime. I think it's totally overrated and is nothing more than your basic run of the mill New Jersey Midwest Rock dressed up to look fancy. Lyrically I can understand the plight of two young adults in love and struggling to make it, but this really isn't any better than listening to any of those songs that are really boring and are meant for girls.

I'll never forget the first time I heard Social Disease. I didn't get the joke at the beginning, but I understood every word that was being said. This song has all the subtlety of Gene Simmons on Viagra and Ecstasy. The music is just as beautifully dirty as the lyrical content, and Richie Sambora's guitar work is so infectiously cliche it gets right into your being. This sounds just like every other song released by a band worth anything in this period of time. At least when it comes to the subject of sex. Just to clarify that statement I mean that this sounds like, Guns N' Roses or Aerosmith, not Skid Row or Poison.

My absolute favourite Bon Jovi song is Wanted Dead Or Alive. This is one of those songs that I would hate to have to live without. First it has such a cowboy sound to it. Not Country music cowboy, but a real man riding the earth cowboy. Except that you can replace the horse with a motorcycle instead. This song belongs right next to Alice Cooper's Desperado as far as I'm concerned. This is one of those classic road songs that I'm sure will live on forever in one way or another.

That was the end of side one of my cassette. A lot of the time I would just hit rewind and start from the begining again. The second side had some good tunes, but only one of them ever really captured and held my attention.

Raise You Hands has a great guitar opening, and I love the way the keyboards make those certain sharp phase cuts into the mix. The rhythm is fantastically solid, and if this wasn't Bon Jovi it could be believed that this may have been a Metal band. I know what I say sounds like a blasphamy to the Metalheads, but they need to stop lying to themselves. Also it only applies to this song, and it's furious paced Arena Rock. This is one of those songs where you have to show Richie a little love.

I personally have no use for the next four songs, which finish off the album. If I were to burn a copy of this CD, or dub a tape, for a friend, I'd swap out the last four songs with much better tracks from other albums.

"I saw a man down on lonely street / A broken man who looked like me / And no one knows the pain that he's been living / He lost his love and still hasn't forgiven / He said: I've been through some changes / But one thing always stays the same / Without love, there's nothing without love / Nothing else can get through the night / Nothing else feels right without love". This is the second verse and chorus to Without Love. This is so typically 80's Power Ballad. If you close your eyes you can picture the high school dances and the big hair, and there is nothing romantic about that.

I'd Die For You is trying to be all tough and bad boy, but all deep like Pony Boy in The Outsiders. Instead there's this keyboard in the background that makes it sound like a Michael Jackson song, and about as tough as Beat It. In fact that might be the perfect comparison for this song. After a few repeat listenings I would like Bon Jovi to die for me, but I don't have a vagina so I don't think that will happen.

Seriously what's with the three love songs in a row? I understand that I'd Die For You is not a slow song, but it's still a love song. It's all for the girls and their wet romance fantasies. But, by the time that Never Say Goodbye reaches the first chorus I remember why I mock Bon Jovi so much. Jon is personally one of the biggest pansy asses to ever be allowed to reach platinum record status. The worst part is that I can't even blame Desmond Child for any part of this piece of shit either. This was all Jon and Richie.

The album ends with Wild In The Streets. I don't know what to say about this one. Pretty much take everything I said about Livin' On A Prayer, make it a sped of Rock tune, and that covers it all.

Basically, if you take an earlier Bruce Springsteen album, or John Cougar Melloncamp, and add a distinctively 80's sound to it, think Footloose (the original), you get the idea behind most of this album. Well, make it also geared a little more towards women too.

Musically, I do respect this album. Lyrically, I would like to see Jon Bon Jovi get ass raped by Desmond Child while they are forced to listen to just the vocal and keyboard tracks over and over again. But, the chicks enjoy the album and that's all that matters right?

Bottom line is, listen to the first six tracks only, and at the most.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Monday, August 27, 2012

Metallica - Ride The Lightning

As I've mentioned in a previous review, Live Shit: Binge And Purge was the first Metallica anything I ever owned. I recieved it for my birthday, which is quickly followed by Christmas and gift cirtificates for music stores. So, that was quickly followed by the Black Album and ...And Justice For All. None of these albums have ever been favourites of mine. However my first favourite Metallica album was Ride The Lightning. It's changed since, but let me take you back to when it was my fave still.

The album opens with this beautiful accoustic piece, that is just amazing. I mean it sounds brilliantly classical. Then these riffs slam you into a wall like The Hulk in a full out rage. All of this is being done with the blinding speed of Thrash Metal, but it sounds too well thought out and produced to be a song of that genre. Listen to Kirk work in the solo, it's not all high speed spreading. He busts out that pretty classical stuff instead to create this amazing counter point sound.

After that it's on to Ride The Lightning. "Guilty as charged / But damn it, it ain't right / There's someone else controlling me / Death in the air / Strapped in the electric chair / This can't be happening to me / Who made you God to say?, / I'll take your life from you / Flash before my eyes / Now it's time to die / Burning in my brain / I can feel the pain / Wait for the sign / To flick the switch of death / It's the beginning of the end / Sweat, chilling cold / As I watch death unfold / Consciousness my only friend / My fingers grip with fear / What am I doing here? / Flash before my eyes / Now it's time to die / Burning in my brain / I can feel the pain / Someone help me / Oh please, God help me / They're trying to take it all away / I don't want to die". Then the solo kicks in, and it's all just electrifying. The thing with the Ride The Lightning album is that I can't say I like one song more than another to any extent. I can say that there is a song that I don't care for, but that's personal opinion only, not a reflection of the music. Musically this album is pure elation.

The third track on the album opens up with a thundering church bell ringing. It's clearly For Whom The Bell Tolls. If there is one song off this album that was going to be called my favourite it would be this one. Cliff Burton's bass playing is just astounding. I know it's nothing super crazy, but he knew it didn't have to be. The guitar work in both the opening and closing of the song is fantastic. The fact that the lyrics are dramtically profound, with only a total of thirty six lines being sung, and only six of those are chorus. Then personally as a drummer I like to play Lars' parts.

Fade To Black is the song on the album I care for the least. Long story short, the band had their instruments stolen, and James wrote these lyrics. Now, we're all depressed and suicidal after listening to them and it's all because Metallica had their instruments stolen. I understand the pain. If I was James I would have felt the same way, and wrote the same stuff about it. He's a great poet full of angst and despair, which I respect but don't want to hear. My life is depressing enough, without needing extra help bringing me down. Oh, and since the music matches the content so perfectly, I can't even just ignore the lyrics and listen to the music. It is also very depressive.

I am so thankful for the pick me up of Trapped Under Ice. Now I guess I should say that the lyrical content on this entire album is pretty much about dying, and in horrific ways. "Crystallized as I lay here and rest / Eyes of glass stare directly at death / From deep sleep I have broken away / No one knows, no one hears what I say". Doesn't sound very fun to me, but the high speed, heart racing pace of this song gets me pumped, and feeling lively.

If this album has any song that I would consider skipping it would be Escape. It's the only song from this album I don't go out of my way to listen to. If I upload the entire album on to my Mp3 player I'll generally skip this song, unless I'm riding my bike at a good clip.

I consider myself very lucky to have seen Metallica live twice, the Load and Reload tour. Say what you will, but getting to see Creeping Death performed live during the Load tour was fantastic. I actually prefer the newer live versions to the studio version because James just sounds too young for this song. In fact this song just sounds too young the whole way around. The production doesn't have the thunder, the dark ambience of the creep, or the true fear factor.

That makes it sound like I don't like Creeping Death, but that's not true at all. This is a fantastic song, and one of the most briliantly written and arranged songs on this album. I also love the content and how something as simple as The Ten Commandments (okay I know it wasn't simple) would inspire a song so worshipped by millions of people around the world.

The album ends with one hell of an instrumental. The Call Of Ktulu is just shy of nine minutes of pure orgasmic instrumentation. This is a song that is so well put together that it caught the eye of the music world, and made them stand up and show respect. This song can easily be put on the same level as Rush's YYZ, Pink Floyd's One Of These Days, or Iron Maiden's Transylvania. Those songs can't be used to describe this one ethier. The only thing any of those songs have in common with The Call Of Ktulu is that they are all amazingly written and produced instrumentals.

I find this album amazing. The production borders on stellar. The writing and arrangments are top notch. The weakest parts in the album come from Lars' acceptable, but very typical drumming and Cliff's bass not having the luxury of today's technology. Which leads to his awesome sound sometimes being a bit lost in the mix.

This is the Metallica album I would suggest to a new fan before any other. This is the best place to start, from a band that has such a diverse selection of music to offer.

9/10 - content

9/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Friday, August 24, 2012

Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Deluxe Edition)

This is the album that started it all for me, when it comes to Heavy Metal. While I will be the first one to say that I think Black Sabbath was the first Metal band, and that Paranoid was the first metal album, I will say that this album was well ahead of it's time.

There's this little genre of Rock known as Acid Rock, that most people don't really know about. By today's standards it would be swallowed up by Progressive Rock based on the style of playing and drug culture inspired lyrical content. However, Acid Rock was actually more like Heavy Metal's twisted brother. If you took Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, The Doors and Black Sabbath, and mixed them all together you still wouldn't have the right sound, but you would be close.

Let me start with the album's title track, since that's the only song anyone ever knows from Iron Butterfly. This song is a gateway drug. It will lead to a road full of drum solos, fuzzed out guitar, and heavy bass. It will also give you a different respect for the slurring of lyrics. The original studio version run 17:10. I happen to have a special release that contains two bonus alternate versions of the song. One is live and runs 18:51, and the other is the radio single, because most people just don't have the capacity to listen to the full song on the radio. That and no radio station has the balls to play the full version. But I'll come back to those two songs later.

The time length has always been one of the biggest features of this song, but that's due to people that think it's too long. The truth is that this song is an epic journey that's more than just a drum solo. There's a lot going on in this song musically. The little church organ has a beautiful sound, the bass is off the wall with everything that's going on, and the guitar is doing stuff that was completely wild, and beastly sounding.

This is such a perfect song, that it made the movie Man Hunter (later remade using the book title Red Dragon) a lot more exciting than it was. It also made Freddy's Dead into my favourite Nightmare On Elm Street movie. If that isn't enough, it was also the song to crank and piss of the neighbours.

I should also mention that on the original vinyl release of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, the title track took up the entire second side of the vinyl. The first side is where you can see how heavy this band really was, and it's not just about one song.

The album opens with Most Anything You Want. This is a very typical hippy song. This is all flowers and beads, and sweet little butterfly kisses and all that other crap. But there's this amazingly clear bass, that's laying down the whole basis for the song. Then on the left side you have the fuzzed out guitar sounding all pretty, but still very in your face. The right side has the organ doing the same thing. Then the the vocals, drums and bass are all pretty much centered. This is the format for pretty much the entire album and it works perfect.

"Girl I just know I love ya now... / Flowers and beads are one thing, / But having a girl is something. / That's if you got a girl who loves you, / And thinks the whole wide world of you. / Flowers and beads are one thing, / But having you girl that's something. / That's 'cause I know you love me only, / And that you'll never leave my hear lonely. / Girl, he just knows he loves you now. / You're all I talk about and ev'rything I say and, / Girl, I just know I love you now. / Girl, I love ya, I love you and need you in my lifetime. / Girl, I just know I love you, / Don't you think my love is true? / Girl, I just know I want you, / Don't you think my love is true?" This is the song Flowers and Beads, and yes it is as hippy sugar dripping sweet as the lyrics suggest. It's this album's ballad, or soft song. I can deal with, and handle that.

My Mirage is this fantastical song. Musically it has a slower beat, but only because this is a phantasm of a song. It's that ghost floating above your bed, that you can't stop looking at, but at the same time are totally freaked out by. It's clear by this point in the album that this band knows how to use and exploit ambience. Also Jim Hilton is a brilliant producer. This album is just magical with it's production. I mean everything is clear, and distinctively audiable.

Termination starts of all nice and happy, and really kind of keeps taking you on the nice little journey through the meadow, and valley and to the woods of lollipops and candy canes, at least musically. "Fly blue sky, voices keep calling, / Bidding me welcome. Why maiden land, / Luring me closer, forbiden land. / And as I'm Standing closer, / Those natives step beyond. / Release the mortal patterns, / My mind I post beyond. / Spinning in circles, / Miracles happen, / As lower life life shows me in to my doom, / Spirit will striken, / The end will come soon. / This is termination, / The outcome of your life." All of a sudden the song takes on a whole different meaning and it's kind of scary how they work the pretty and the deathly together in such a way. This is also the only song on the album not written exclusively by Doug Ingle (vocals and keyboards). Erik Brann (guitars and vocals) and Lee Dorman (bass and vocals) are the two that wrote this one.

The heaviest song of 1968 is Are You Happy. For starters the drums are thunderous at the start of the song. If they had been recorded using today abilities, they could be used to level buildings. Most Metal drummers aren't worth a shit when you hear what Ron Bushy can do. He is also quoted as saying that he hated when Doug Ingle would want to open a set with this song live. I can totally understand that. Then there's the guitar, bass and organ on this song that are all just as equally heavy. You want to talk about Metal? This song is Metal.

That brings us back to side two, and the album's title track. I've already covered the amazing classic album version. So, now I'll quickly sum up the two other versions.

The live cut of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is about a minute and half longer, and it's only a little noticable. I would like to say that I like the bass sound better on the live track, and that the drum solo followed by a jam is totally interesting to listen to. However, I'd still take the original studio track over this one.

The radio single is 2:54, and does this song no justice. Basically it's the first minute and a half, and the last minute and a half melded together. It's almost exclusively just the lyrical parts, with none of the kick ass instrumentaion. All I have to say when it comes to this album is buy it, and then crank it up, because this album magically transcends time. Just sadly not the limitations of the recording abilities of the time, but there's nothing that can be done about that.

8/10 - content

9/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Faculty Music From The Dimension Motion Picture

I've mentioned before that once upon a time I was really into buying soundtracks. One of the cooler soundtracks I picked up during those days was The Faculty Music From The Dimension Motion Picture. The movie was okay, with an interesting concept, but the music was what caught my eye.

The album opens with a cover of Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2) performed by Class Of '99 which was a group made up of Layne Staley, Tom Morello, Stephen Perkins, Martyn Le Noble and Matt Serletic. This song is not better than the original, and I don't know anyone that would claim differently. However, this rendition is really enjoyable. It's loyal to the original, but it has it's own unique signature that represents the artists performing the song.

The next song is The Kids Aren't Alright by the Offspring. This is one of the few songs I will admit to liking by The Offspring. It's a good, serious, well played song, that has some meaning. It's nothing overly crazy or special, but it's enjoyable all the same. This track was lifted from the Americana album, released the same year as this soundtrack, 1998.

After that is something that should become a total ripper for me. I'm Eighteen being performed by Creed. Is it Alice? Hell no! But it is a good cover, and it's played really well. It's a bit tame in a sense, but it's tame in the same way the original was. I personally think this may be one of Creed's best songs. I say that half jokingly, and half totally honest.

I'm not sure who D Generation is, where they came from, or what happened to them. They contributed a song called Helpless to this album, and it's okay for something that sounds like a cross between Coffee shop rock, Pop wannabe Punk, and Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13. I don't mind it when it's playing, but I don't go out of my way to listen to it either.

After that it's on to another Alice Cooper cover, and you can see why I was interested in this album. School's Out is being performed by Soul Asylum, and I have to say that they also did a fair version of the song. It's not great, and it doesn't blow my mind, but it is well done. So, I must give props where props are due.

When it comes to Garbage I have a love hate relationship. I love Shirley Manson's voice, and the way she kind of purs when she sings, but without sounding stupid and cat like. On the other hand I often find the music overly slow and sleep inducing. The song Medication is from Version 2.0, which also was released the same year as the soundtrack.

By the time I get to Haunting Me by Stabbing Westward it's pretty clear that this album is made up of a who's who of mid to late 90's Rock and Alternative Rock, and this is more of a promo for other albums, than it is a soundtrack. Since this song is also from an album released the same year as the soundtrack. Based on my limited liking, or caring about Stabbing Westward, this song sounds pretty typical of the band. But I couldn't tell one of their songs from another based on how little I cared for them back in the day.

Maybe Someday follows that up. On a quick search I don't find much about the group Flick, who perform the song. This leads me to believe that this is the best the band ever got, and it's easy to see why. It sounds like the Garage Pop band of a family member somehow associated with the movie or soundtrack.

Resuscitation is one of my favourite Sheryl Crow songs, and it's one of the few songs on this collection that I can't find on any other album. This is one of those songs that's the reason I buy soundtracks. You never know if you are going to find one of those hidden gems, and I do consider this song one of those.

Neve is a one hit wonder and that one hit came from this soundtrack, and their first album. It's Over Now, was released the same year on the soundtrack as the album it also came from. I don't know why or how it became a hit. It's such A-typical crap from that time period.

Shawn Mullins is an American singer-songwriter that normally plays folk rock, instrumental rock and adult alternative. He had one real hit, and a whole slew of albums that I have never heard of prior to doing research on his name five seconds ago. He performs a cover of David Bowie's Changes. He does it really well. It's not the original, but it's really well done. It has a slightly different vibe, but other than that it's a well done cover.

I hate that I have to write down the review for the following song, because of who the band is. There are just some things that a person should never have to admit to, but these reviews are about giving my honest opinion.

Originally a B-side for Oasis' D'You Know What I Mean?, Stay Clean is one of the songs I enjoy the most on this album. It's fun, bouncy, has a great vibe, and leaves me feeling really good at the end of the song. I can't believe these are the same assholes that I loathe, that did Champaign Super Nova and Wonderwall. But this is why I buy soundtracks. Sometimes you find stuff that really surprises you.

The album finishes with Another Brick In The Wall, by Class Of '99. This sounds like a pretty bitching jam on the classic riff that makes up all the Bricks In The Wall. It's nothing complicated and works very much like it were being done as a score to a movie. Oh, wait a minute...

I find this soundtrack floating into my CD player once a year or so, especially when I'm on a soundtrack kick. I wish they made more sountracks like this now a days. I mean they still might be, but I'm not finding them. I think it was around this time that these type of soundtracks were starting to disappear in favour of every movie being filled with the exact same ten songs for the next five years.

This is one of those CDs that I suggest buying if you find it somewhere. It still surprises me to this day. Like everytime I learn that it's an Oasis song that I don't mind, in the second last track.

My major complaint is too many album tracks are on here. I don't mind when it's b-sides or unused album tracks, which often happens with soundtracks, but album cuts leave me feeling a little ripped off.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Primus - Rhinoplasty

I will never claim to be a Primus fan, that would be an insult to their fans. I will say that Les Claypool is one of the greatest bassists alive. The only living bassist I hold above him is Geddy Lee, and anyone that tries to say differently is a moron. No one outplays Geddy. But I also love the fact that Primus is the modern Frank Zappa in many ways.

The Rhinoplasty album is actually a cover album, that I originally picked up for just one song. What I didn't notice at the time was I actually picked up the Japanese Import that had bonus tracks. I thought it was just clever packaging. After all, it's Primus. The reason I picked it up for only one song was due to the fact I only knew one of the songs.

Cover albums are a great way to discover older artists.

The first song on the album is Scissor Man, by New Wave band XTC. This is a really fun and bouncy song. It's meant to have fun while listening to it. If you know Primus at all, you know that musically it's going to have a very solid and wicked performance. To this day I still have never bothered to listen to the original. I don't want to tarnish the chuckles I get everytime I hear this song, because I generally don't like New Wave.

The Family And The Fishing Net is a Peter Gabriel tune. This song comes from the same album as Shock the Monkey, and I think that Primus does a good cover. My only complaint would be the bass is pushed too far forward, and it drowns out some of the other parts in the song.

Silly Putty is an instrumental. It's a song originally done by American Jazz bassist Stanley Clarke. It's easy to see, or better yet hear, where Les got some of his influence. This song is just wild musically to the point that the records being scratched by DJ Disc can be overlooked.

Now one wouldn't generally think of going from Jazz to Country, but Primus does it with Amos Moses. Originally written and recorded by Jerry Reed in 1970, this version is totally kickin'. Sure it still has that country twang, but it's some really wicked twang. I don't know if I would put this on my Mp3 player for bike riding, but it would go on a mix tape for cross country driving.

It's on to another instrumental, but this time it's from The Police originally. Behind My Camel is a good song, with an awesome soundtrack like ambience. This might have something to do with the fact that Andy Summers ended up becoming a movie score writer and producer after leaving The Police.

The sixth song on the album is a cover and rework of a Primus song. Too Many Puppies was the first song that Les Claypool ever wrote for Primus, or so the story goes. This is your typical Primus song in the sense that it's totally out there musically, and lyrically the words aren't always as simple as they seem.

The official Rhinoplasty E.P., which is what it is, ends with the song I bought the album for. The Thing That Should Not Be is one of the most heavy, thick, and beastly Metallica songs ever written. The Primus cover is done spot on, pretty much, but it will clearly never be the original. I remember even reading once about how hard this was for Les to record, because of playing the bass parts, and then having to do the vocals on top of that, at the same time. We are talking about trying to play like Cliff Burton while howling like a younger James Hetfield. Not an easy task for anyone, but when Les Claypool says how hard that is, you have to listen because he knows what he is talking about.

The Japanese import has two bonus tracks. Tommy The Cat and Bob's Party Time Lounge, recorded live at the Henry J. Kaiser Auditorium, New Years Eve 1997-98. I'm not a fan of either song on here, and I don't know the originals enough to say one way or the other either. Both songs are really well done, they just don't strike my fancy. I'm very hit and miss with my Funk Metal.

There is one more song buried on this CD and if you know the magic word you can hear it, and see the awesome claymation video. The CD is an enhanced CD, which was really big just before the turn of the millenium. Basically a lot of bands were throwing extras on compact discs for computer use. Sadly, the programming is so outdated now, that my computer can't run it without a load of problems. So I suggest you go youtube Primus, The Devil Went Down To Georgia. It pisses me off that I don't have just a normal copy of the song, because it's done so well.

All in all this is a really cool album. It's a hidden gem for those who are really listening, and enjoy the type of music that Primus loves to serve up.

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pantera - Official Live: 101 Proof

I don't know where to start with this album. For starters I'm not that big of a Pantera Fan. They have done some songs I love, and they really make me want to bang my head. However, I was never angry enough for Pantera.

I own four Pantera albums, and two of them came from subscriptions to mail order CD companies. Official Live: 101 Proof came from my days with Columbia House. I'm pretty sure it was one of my freebies, because I never would have normally bought this album.

This album covers the years of 1990 to 1997, or from Cowboy From Hell to Great Southern Trend Kill. Both of those albums I also own, but I don't own either two that fall in between. I don't own Vulgar Display Of Power, because not many songs really jumped out at me. I never bothered with Far Beyond Driven, because it was way to overplayed by everyone I know.

Like I said, I'm not much of a Pantera fan. And, if you were wondering, the fourth CD I own is a greatest hits collection, which is my favourite album I own from them.

Official Live: 101 Proof opens with New Level, and I'm skipping to the next song already. See one of my biggest problems with Pantera is I don't care for Phil Anselmo's vocals most of the time. He's your typical Metal vocalist that spends more time screaming and yelling into the microphone than he does singing, and that's a bit of a shame. When Phil sings he sounds really good. When he screams he sound so boringly typical. That's also a good way to describe this song.

After that is Walk. This one is from the last album, which is Vulgar Display, but I like this one a lot more. Walk is one of those songs that sounds bad ass, and demands your attention. The only problem I have with this song is how over played it got. The live version is totally kick ass, and is where this album should have started.

It's on to the Far Beyond Driven album for the next live track. Becoming sounds pretty much like a continuation of Walk to the untrained ear. Especially when you aren't giving the lyrics the attention that they need.

There are some Pantera songs that leave me feeling conflicted, and 5 Minutes Alone is one of them. Parts of this song are totally bitching, and have some great riffs. Other parts are boring as shit guitar filler. If the boring parts had been replaced with something more substanial it would have made this song so much better.

One thing I have to say is that Phil works the crowd non stop and really get's them pumped up. Sadly the flip side to go with that is I would be bored shitless at a Pantera concert.

Sandblasted Skin is one of the reasons I'd be so fucking bored. At this point all the songs are already starting to sound the same. Dimebag Darrell plays a riff filled with little augments and artificial harmonics, while Vinnie Paul plays the exact same double bass driven drums, the bass get's lost in the mix and Phil keeps screaming. I've seen Death Metal bands live and they all sounded like this to some degree and after two songs I start tuning out.

Another thing I feel I should mention is that every time I hear Phil open his mouth I just want to smack it shut. Nothing like listening to an ego spouting loud mouth go on and on about how the "Experts say heavy music is dead." Phil please shut up and just scream into the microphone. You don't sound like such a dipshit.

The reason I mention his little dipshit rant is that it leads into, and is meant as introduction to the next song. Suicide Note Pt. 2 is the shittier, overly noisy craptastic hit single that will only ever be heard in your car. I don't know why they used this one instead of Pt. 1. Although slower, the first part shows the band as much more talented musicians than this one does.

War Nerve is another one of those songs that is really good, but has too much useless filler crap in it. I will say that this is one of the more progressive songs from Pantera, but it's loaded with all of Dimebag's typical guitar tricks. It it wasn't for the riff during the verses this might be a much better song.

Song eight marks the end of the first half of the album, and I really wish it was done already. Strength Beyond Strength is just a lot of screaming with basic music thrown over top for flavour. I have no use for this song, and it's the worst one on the album at this point. Thankfully I know that the album will finally start getting better shortly.

A medley of Domination and Hallow make up track nine. This first thing I have to say about this song is that it's about time we finally get to start hearing Dimebag play. He's a great guitarist and can play with the best of them, but most of the time what you hear, at least on this album, is repetitive basic guitar. Not to say that it isn't complicated, or talented, but it all sounds pretty stock for him. This live track marks the beginning of them playing more differentiated music.

This Love follows that up, and continues showing how good this band can really be. It's a slower song, at least to start, but it's rich and full. Then the chorus kicks in, and somewhere in the crowd some asshole just got his teeth kicked in. I say this in jest, because I don't know if that ever actually happened during the recording of this album.

I'm Broken is one of those songs I respect, but don't bother with most of the time. If Far Beyond Driven was their most overplayed album, I'm Broken is their most overplayed song. ZRock played this song to death. I remember there was a point where I was hearing it a minimum of once an hour.

Now when they announce the last song of the night is I'm Broken I should be happy, because the album is supposed to be done. That's what happens after the last song of the night right? Sure, except for the encores. Lucky for me, two out of the three encores are two out of my five favourite Pantera songs. Nothing like having to wait until the end of the night/CD to hear the songs you actually want to hear.

The first song is Cowboy From Hell. This is the only song from Pantera that is a must for me. This was the song that originally attracted me to Pantera and the album of the same title that it comes from was the only Pantera album I owned for years. I enjoy this live version, and I even like the little touch of Cat Scratch Fever Dimebag slips in there.

After that it's on to Cemetary Gates. This is the only other Pantera song that really gets me off, but in a different way. I like that it's not all fast, screamy, and full of guitar noise. It's a well written song, that is worthy of very high praise. I could do without the extra minute of talking at the end of the track.

The live part of the album finishes with Hostile. This is basically them finishing the way they started. Yelling, screaming, a bunch of fast uninspired riffs, and a whole lot of anger being spouted out. All in all not a very impressive ending to a live show.

I have little to no use for this album. The bass is totally buried in the mix, and is constantly hidden in the guitar mix. The drums are so bloody boring I can see why Dave Mustain didn't want to bring Vinnie into Megadeth, only Dimebag way back in the eighties. I've been pretty clear about how I feel about Phil's constant yelling. The only type of saving grace to this album is the limited amount of skill we get from Dimebag. Unfortunately almost all of it sounds the same on here.

Even once the two new studio tracks kick in I'm not impressed. Where You Come From starts off with some potential, but quickly devolves into another very typical Pantera song. One thing I was never able to understand about Dimebag is why he didn't allow his riffs to breathe a little more. It's almost like if he stopped playing he would lose his own tempo. The solo on the song is kind of cool, and I like the breakdown in the mid section, but that's about it.

The album finally ends with the song I Can't Hide. This is some high speed Punk-like thrashing out. I do like this one musically, but only to a small degree. The coolest part about this song is the fact that you can clearly hear Rex on his bass for the first time on this entire album. Although I can't figure out why the song feels like four minutes or more, when it's barely over two.

All in all I just really did not enjoy this album. If this had been the first album I picked up from Pantera it most definately would have been the last. One of this biggest problems with this album is the live production. It's not impressive in any way what so ever, and I find it actually very damaging to the integrity of this band's music. Even if I don't care for much of it.

4/10 - content

3/10 - production

3/10 - personal bias

Monday, August 20, 2012

Lou Reed & Metallica - Lulu

I am about to embark on one of the hardest reviews I have ever had to write. Not because Lulu is Metallica's worst album ever released, but because it's just not that simple.

Let me start by quoting the site "Lulu is a musical collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica."

"It is inspired by German expressionist writer Frank Wedekind’s play Earth Spirit and Pandora’s Box, which tells the story of a young abused dancer’s life and relationships, and are now collectively known as the Lulu plays. Since their publication in the early 1900s, the plays have been the inspiration for a silent film (Pandora’s Box, 1929), an opera, and countless other creative endeavors. The plays challenged the sexual and moral standards of their day and have remained highly controversial. Originally the lyrics and musical landscape for Lulu were sketched out by Lou for a theatrical production in Berlin. After Lou performed with Metallica at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concerts in New York in 2009 they all knew they wanted to make more music together. The Lulu project began in May 2011 at HQ studios in Northern California, with Lou’s lyrics as the starting point."

This was the first thing I ever read about the album, and it was before I owned a copy. Between that and the two names on this album, I knew from the beginning this was not going to be typical in any way. What I didn't expect was two albums worth of Lou's constant old man rambling. Then when I heard the first single The View, and I use the term single loosely, I knew that every Metallica fan would be thinking about finally burning their entire collections in stupidity and disgust.

This album all of a sudden wiped everyones memory of how much they thought St. Anger, Load and Reload sucked.

It opens with Brandenburg Gate. Aside from word choices, this is a pretty standard song about someone bored with life. "I would cut my legs and tits off / When I think of Boris Karloff and Kinski / In the dark of the moon / It made me dream of Nosferatu / Trapped on the isle of Doctor Moreau / Oh wouldn’t it be lovely / I was thinking Peter Lorre / When things got pretty gory as I / Crossed to the Brandenburg Gate." The lyrical choices would have been shocking twenty years ago or more, but now a days they are pretty tame.

The thing is this album is a concept album and the lyrics tell the entire story as long as you pay attention to what is going on. Which is why most people couldn't understand James Hetfield's constantly singing "I am the table" in The View. First off Lou Reed should not have been the one to sing on here, at least not as much as he did. It really makes me not want to listen to what is being said. His voice was always pretty shit sounding, which was part of the appeal once upon a time, but on here it's a distraction. He was the wrong story teller, or he shouldn't have been the only one.

Before I get into anymore songs I should explain that musically this album falls into three or four different catagories. The first is musical experimentation, which is cool to listen to once in a while. The second is left over clips from Death Magnetic that didn't fit into any other song. The last catagory is split between jamming and freeflowing with spoken words. Sometimes it's pretty cool, and other times it's completely shit. It's like listening to Metallica sounding like the most strung out on heroine version of a Velvet Underground cover band.

Pumping Blood is one of the songs on this album I actually enjoy. Lou's voice is tolerable within the context of the music. Lyrically I get few laughs, but not out of mockery, out of a really dark humour. "Blood spurting from me / "Oh Jack, Jack I beseech:" / "Jack, I beseech you, I beseech:" / In the end it was an ordinary heart". I find myself often quoting this while laughing in a twisted way. It's just one of those songs.

Mistress Dread is shit. I wish there was a strap of blood that I could use to gag Lou on this one. This is also one of those songs that sounds like a Death Magnetic riff left over. Not even left over, just stock riffing abuse. Lyrically it could have been a lot better if someone else had been singing it, because the content is decent.

"You can’t put a butterfly in a jar / If the effort’s too high no matter who you are / You can’t catch the moon, or the sun or the stars / It doesn’t matter who you are / Iced honey / Now me I’ve tried a million tricks / To make life cold and make it stick / Not running heat that flames then out / But the proud piece of ice that always floats / Iced honey". This is probably the only song on this double album set that I will ever be interested in hearing Metallica perform live. However, James has to sing the entire song. This is a really good rock song, with some fantastic lyrics. However, I will admit to constantly mocking Iced Honey. There is one line that goes "See if the ice will melt for you", which I swear they ripped off the way it's sung from Cookie Monster. Sing that line using the melody for C Is For Cookie, and start being afraid that the next Garage album may contain Sesame Street covers. Or, be really excited if you are weird like me.

The last track on the first disc is Cheat On Me. Musically it sounds like Metallica are channelling Led Zeppelin and The Doors in a jam. This song sounds very much like it was recorded live off the studio floor and they never looked back, but in a cool way. It's eleven minutes and twenty-six seconds of pure free flow, with some spoken word for story, and background vocals for emphasis.

Now the idea of listening to this as a double disc set is very daunting. It's not easy on the brain, ears, or attention span. Even though the first disc only runs about fourty minutes it feel a lot longer. Cheat On Me for example feels like it's close to twenty minute instead of half that time.

The total running length of this double album concept record is equal to that of Pink Floyd's The Wall. However, when you listen to it, it sounds twice as long. There are a few of us that would have sworn this album ran a lot longer.

When I look and see there is only four tracks on the second disc I start to feel some relief, but then I look at the length of some of the tracks and go into a bit of a panic.

Let me be very clear. DO NOT listen to both albums back to back unless you are a real artsy type, with the ability to overlook long drawn out songs. Take in mind that this is coming from a guy that loves Jethro Tull's Thick As A Brick, Rush's 2112, and Iron Butterfly's In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. And, just to be clear I mean the full length songs, not just the albums that share the same names. And, if you don't know two of those songs take up one whole side of a vinyl each, and one is an album long song.

The four tracks look like this; Frustration 8:34, Little Dog 8:02, Dragon 11:10, and Junior Dad 19:29. However, they feel like at least twice the length, and that's being generous.

The first track, had some real potential. Frustraion has two major strikes against it. Lou Reeds vocals, and a mid section that sounds like unintentional disjointed crap that Lou thought should be used because it's art. The lyrics are hit and miss for me. Part of me really likes the concept and word choices, but part of me hates the word choices and delivery. This is another one that often get's mocked, but not in a good way. The line "Spermless like a girl" is just odd and a bit silly no matter how you want to rationalize it, and let me tell you I have defended the concept eventhough I hate the wording.

Little Dog is one of those songs that once again has me on the fence. This one basically sounds like a poetry/spoken word performance, with a little music added for flavour. "If you got the money you can go to the top / The female dog don’t care what you got / As long as you can raise that / Little doggie face to a cold hearted pussy / You could have a taste". I know it's a bit vulgar, but really, that's the point, and it's effective. The Instrumentation on this one makes me think of accoustic Nick Cave of sorts. Actually I'd love to hear Nick Cave do a cover of this song, I may like it better.

You would think that after fourty years, almost fifty, Lou Reed would be tired with singing about heroin, or clearly obvious references. Dragon proves that anyone thinking that would be wrong. Of all the songs that Lulu contains, this is the one I like the least. trying to even get through it while writing the review brings me some mental anguish. There really is no saving grace to this song. Even the music I find boring, in a St. Anger kind of way.

The album ends with Junior Dad. Now imagine taking Nothing Else Matters, Mama Said, Low Man's Lyric, and the first two Unforgivens, mix them up into one twenty minute long song, with less lyrics than any other song on this album, and you get Junior Dad. This is long, incredibly slow, and will induce episodes of narcolepsy.

At the end of it all, I'll boil it down as simply as I can. Read the lyrics in the liner book, at least four or five times, just so you can at least half ass figure out what is going on. Then listen to the album. Then take the album, put it back on the shelf, and don't listen to it again for a while. After a significant amount of time has passed and you have forgotten how fucked up the album really is, give it a second try. You may not like it any better, but you might have a bit more of an appreciation for it. Unless you are a die hard Metallica fan. In which case this album will always suck for you.

If you need it summed up even easier, this is an artsy shmartsy album, for the pretentiously ridiculous.

Also just as an after thought, I feel I should mention that this album sounds like it was produced and recorded using the Garage Days revisited studio, or possibly my basement. I'm not entirely sure.

5/10 - content

5/10 - production

3/10 - personal bias

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rush - Different Stages

In 1997 and '98 I spent a lot of time and money building up my CD collection through searching and questing through discount bins, used stores, and even the odd deal with friends. Out of all the CD's I bought during that time period I believe that Rush's Different Stages, and Metallica's Reload and Garage Inc are the only CDs that still get regular play in my CD player. The interesting part about that comparison is that there are three discs from each band mentioned.

Rush's Different Stages contains three compact discs, and each one is loaded, that span three decades. The first two discs were recorded during the tours for Counterparts (1994) and Test For Echo(1997). The third disc was recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, England, in 1978.

This is the single greatest collection of Rush songs I have ever personally seen put together. If you know Rush well enough to know they have different periods of music, you'll understand when I say that there is little of the 80's on this album, and I am thankful.

Most of the songs that make up this collection come from Test For Echo, Counterparts, Roll The Bones, Moving Pictures, and anything released before 1978. This is three man Canadian power trio at their best.

The first disc starts off with Dreamline. I don't mind this song, and it's a great way to start the show, album, collection. It's solid, not overly crazy, and get's a good pace going. This is one of those songs that I find is more for the common fan, and less for the Prog fan.

Limelight follows that perfectly. This is one of those songs that I'm good with, but I can equally let it go. However, it's a great standard from the band. I'm not overly fond of the sound of the performance here, but I think that's just because of the song itself. I've always thought it sounded a bit pulled back.

Given a choice between Test For Echo and Counterparts I'll normally pick songs from Counterparts first. Driven is one of the reasons why. I'm not overly fond of the more accoustic, stripped down, subtle approach to a lot of the songs on that album. It's a fantastic album, but released in time when accoustic was way too popular.

I wasn't a huge fan of the Roll the Bones album. It was very commercial in many ways. I don't have issues with the Rapping, and various other experiments, but over all it's the one album from the 90's I have the least amount of interest in. Bravado is one of the songs that keep me on the fence, and yet makes me very happy to have this live collection. I like the song as it plays on the CD player, but not on my Mp3 player.

Animate is one of the songs from Counterparts that I thought was given more credit than it deserved. However, it's a fantastic song. I love Alex Lifeson's spaced out guitar, and in the live mix it sounds very cosmic. This is one of those songs that reminds me how overlooked Alex is as a guitarist.

I've already mentioned that 80's Rush was not that great, from my point of view. Show Don't Tell, from Presto, is one of the better examples of what they did right in that decade. I love the big chords, the jumping bass, and the snappy drums. I won't buy the original version, but this live one is fantastic, and totally worth the constant listening.

One of my favourite parts about Rush is how much goes over people's heads when it comes to their lyrics. The Trees is one of those songs that I constantly hear mocked, because "I just don't get a song about trees." I hear that all the time, from people that have never bothered to look at the lyrics. It's a great way of hiding human right's issues in a song.

Musically The Trees is one of my favourite songs as well. Neil Peart is doing his normal crazy super drummer skills, using everything from woodblock sounds to his basic, "I have eight limbs and I'll use all of them on this song." They truly capture the beauty of nature's music in this song.

From there it's on to my favourite song from Counterparts, Nobody's Hero. Let me start by saying that I don't care that this is basically a ballad. This song is about what it means to really be a hero, in a world that forgot what being a hero really means. I also love the music. There is such a rich fullness, and wonderful textured layering, that i can't help but love this song. I do like the studio version better than this live version, though.

There are two, maybe three songs, that I find everyone knows from Rush. The first one is Tom Sawyer and the other is Closer To The Heart. The third one is Roll The Bones, but we aren't there yet.

Closer To the Heart is the original, Zippo in the air, crowd sing along song. Then it takes off into a beautiful guitar solo that just soars, before being brought back in for more serious lyrical content. This is Rush's Imagine for lack of a better description.

I will say that I like this version of Closer To The Heart better than the original, because of the way that the band jams around on the song. It takes the normal fun song, and then jumps it up a couple more notches.

There is no secret that 2112 is one of my favourite songs. It's longer than most songs people are willing to play live, or are able to. Normally when Rush plays this song live you get the first two parts, Overture and Temple of Syrinx. I remember when they went out on tour advertising that it would be the first time in 20 years they played the song in it's entirety. I also remember being very sad that I wasn't able to go see them do it live with my dad. After all he's the one that got me digging on Rush so much.

Well, on this live album they included the full version. That's twenty-one minutes of 2112 live, and it comes rocking out of my speakers like space cannons trying to obliterate the sun. I don't think it's as good as the original, however to hear them pull off the entire song live is spectacular. I can't stress how much I wish I could have seen this live.

I should also point out that they did make some slight alterations to the original song. For example the section known as Discovery sounds a little less like Alex tuning the guitar, and a little more like him discovering how to sneak a cool little solo in.

The second disc opens with the title track from the Test for Echo album. I've liked this song since I first bought the album, when it was first released. As much as they are true to the original, this version is still not as good. I know that it's purely a live production issue too. It's the drum sound that let's me down on this one. It doesn't come thundering through as awesomely as the studio version does.

After that is Analog Kid. Which is one of those Rush songs I've never been a big fan of. It's an okay song, and this live version does it great justice, but it's just not a song for me. I find it too 80's for my liking. I could do without all that synthesizer stuff.

The live version of Freewill on here is fantastic. I love Alex's playing on this song, but more to the point I love the warble that this live version has. It makes it sound like an older recording, eventhough it's a live performance. Then there's the breakdown like jam around the three and a half minute marker that I find a bit orgasmic.

There are two parts about the live version of Roll The Bones. The first is that they leave the rapping skeleton in the song. I don't care what others say, I like it and it fits the song. The second part is that when those parts are played in a live set the band moves off stage, because they are just playing the tape. Other than that, I like this song the same live or studio. It's all the same to me.

As much as I was happy with Rush's return to making great Rock music, and stepping away from the 80's Prog Pop, with the release of the Roll The Bones album, it was Stick It Out from Counterparts that returned all my faith in the power trio. This was the Rush my dad always talked about, and I was getting to experience for myself for the first time. My dad grew up in a time when All The Worlds A Stage and Exit Stage Left allowed him to enjoy his favourite Rush songs in a live setting. Different Stages allowed me to do the same with songs like Stick It Out, which were part of my formative teenage Rush years. Which basically means that I really love this version of the song, and what it gives to me, to hear it.

After that it's back to Test For Echo for Resist, "a song inspired by the great people of Scottland." Geddy tells the audience. I'm not huge on this song to start with, but I don't mind this live version. I actually prefer later live recordings of this song better, but this one will do the trick for those that want it.

After that it's back to Counterparts again, but this time for the wickedly cool, and excessively smooth instrumental Leave That Thing Alone. The only complaint I have about this song is that at points it seems to run a bit long. That's not a fault of this live version, just the song. My favourite part about this song is how seemlessly it flows into Neil Peart's drum solo.

I have never been lucky enough to see Rush live. They are one of the few bands left that leave me feeling incomplete because of it. How can a drummer that has never seen Neil Peart be a complete drummer?

I feel this way especially after hearing The Rhythm Method. It's the drum solo on this live album. This completely gets me throwing my fist in the air. The beauty of a Peart drum solo is that it's more than some chimp pounding away on the skins for five minutes. This is an octopus rocking out one hell of a sexual orgasm through his procussion. I would also like to mention that this solo is why I think he's the only drummer allowed to use any electric drums.

After that is Natural Science, which is a spectacular song. The arrangemnts, instrumentation, and over all vibe is just very uplifting. Most of the time when this song is on I listen like it's the worlds coolest background music. I'm not a huge fan of this song, but I do enjoy it.

The second disc finishes with three of Rush's most popular songs, and that's really funny considering one is an instrumental.

First up is Spirit Of the Radio. If you grew up in Canada you know this song. If you grew up anywhere else, you should still know this song. If you don't know this song go look it up on the internet, and don't come back until you get some type of education on mandatory Rock. I will say that Geddy's voice doesn't sound as good in this live production as the studio. I think this comes from that weird phase guys start going through as they age, when they stop being able to hit high notes properly. Bruce Dickinson is the only person I know that can still hit most of the notes he could when he was younger.

After that follows the best air drumming song ever. It's also the most popular song Rush has ever released. Tom Sawyer is this bands legacy, from the commercial side of things. If you have no clue what song I'm talking about, and don't air drum during the break around the 2:30 marker you are not even worthy of reading this article. This may be the most overplayed Rush song ever released, but I can still listen to it with the same enthusiam I had when I first heard it as a wee little one.

The double disc live section ends with YYZ. This is my favourite of all the Rush instrumentals, like many other fans. However, how can you not love this song. It's bouncy, rockin', groovin', and full of so much love. If you don't know, YYZ is the code for Pearson Internation Airport in Toronto, and this song sounds like the chaos of that airport.

The third disc in the set is from 1978. Recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon, during the Hemispheres tour. This disc encompasses a collection of songs that are fantastic, and many of the tracks have not been available live before. Not to mention that the sound quality is phenominal, especially for '78. Even Neil Peart's drum set sounds spot on in the mix.

The first song on the disc is Bastille Day. This is a great song, although not one that I really listen to. It's just not a subject that I care for all that much, except for watching beheadings. But that comes from my love of the guillotine.

After that is By-Tor & the Snow Dog. This was the epic song from the Fly By Night album, and I've listened to that album more than any other Rush album, with the exception of 2112. I use to love when my dad would pop this cassette on in the car, and then we'd just sit back and chill while the music took us away. This song I hold as tight and close to my heart as I do because of my dad, it was just one of those things we shared together.

As an adult, I think this song is totally ass kickin'. It's a total cranker. I mean the bass is Geddy on the bass, the drums are totally Neil doing what Neil does best, and the guitar work is some of Alex's most flashy. It's just wicked. My only complaint about the live version on Different Stages is that it was cut down to about half the time. It doesn't take away from By-Tor & The Snow Dog, but it doesn't add anything either.

What I find the most interesting about them cutting down the one epic is the fact that they included two other epic length songs as well. Xanadu, which is the next track, is the only one that didn't get significantly shortened. Actually the running time on it is a little longer. Originally it was a smidge over eleven minutes, the live version runs twelve and a half. Most of this extra time is ambient sound (Neil's wind chimes) while they are gearing up to go into the song. Other than that, this is just as good as the original.

Farewell To Kings is one of those songs I'm only familiar with because of this album. I like this song because it sounds like four other Rush songs all wrapped up into one. I hear The Trees, bits of 2112, and other elements that make up the Fly By Night Album and the yet to be released Moving Pictures. On the whole, I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this song. It's really good, but to a degree I find it choppy and a little stock. I should mention that it sounds like Rush stock which means it's more complicated and well put together than the best that some bands have to offer.

Something For Nothing is one of those songs I like, but don't really go out of my way to listen to. I don't really have to though, it's the last track from 2112. All I have to do is listen to the end of my favourite album. I will say the the sound quality on this live version has the guitar sounding a bit gurgly at points. This song is one of the only ones that you can clearly make out the limitations of analog recording.

After that it's on to the next chopped down epic. Cygnus X-1 normally runs about eighteen minutes. The version on here only runs about ten and a half minutes. This is one of those songs that has inspired me in many ways, but on the whole I'm not overly crazy for. I understand why they cut it down for this live version, but I still wouldn't have minded a version a little closer to the original.

At this perfect point the band decides to ramp the concert back up with Anthem. The pace was really starting to seem to drag a bit, but then this sped up version of an already quick paced song brings everything back to life. This is one of those songs that's very complicated in the sense that it makes your head want to bang, but at the same time the song sounds so nice that it would seem rude to bang to it.

Then it's on to one of the very few Rush songs that get performed live that doesn't include Peart as the lyricist. Working Man from the self titled first album is one of the greatest Rock songs Rush ever recorded. This is a basic, straight forward, working class stiff song. This song is something that anyone, male or female, can connect with and understand as long as you have worked. The live version is great. It's nothing over the top or crazy, like other live versions have been. This one is just a great live Rock song.

After that is Fly By Night and In The Mood. I don't understand why, or how, these two songs ended up always being slapped together in the first decade they were performed live. It's not like they even appeared on the same album together. The first track is from the album of the same name, the second track is from the first album, and is the only other song to not credit Peart for the lyrics.

I will also say that I love Fly By Night, and I've had to take a lot of ribbing from my friends over it. But I have never cared for In The Mood. This song is way too Kiss for me, which would also explain why Kiss were such big fans of Rush in the early days.

Cinderella Man finshes of the set on the third disc. This is another one of those songs I don't really know that well. I will admit that Farewell To Kings is one of those albums that never really got me off. It may be the only one from the 70's that I wasn't overly fond of. I also don't know if this really was the best selection to end the album with, but that's just me. I'm sure someone else would say that it was the perfect ending.

After listening to all three discs I have to say that the second one is my favourite, and the third one is the one I listen to the least. I do love the fact that not a single song repeats and that the sound quality is great pretty much the whole way through.

The part I love the most about this collection of live songs is the considerable lack of music from 1981-1991. I wasn't a fan of those years, and I'm happy that this is more of a live Rock collection and less of an 80's pop collection. I would suggest Different Stages to anyone that wants to get to know Rush better and discover more of their music. If you are looking for a good live collection this is also the live Rush album you want.

8/10 - content

8/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias