Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Danzig - Danzig

Dazig is one of those bands I didn't get into until their/his height of popularity was over. However, since most bands I listen to, and love started in the sixties, I guess that's par for the course for me.

Twist Of Cain opens the album, with raw power and a mix of different paced riffs. Unlike later albums you can clearly still hear The Misfits and Samhain year hanging around, especially on this track. However, with a time of 4:18 and a slower more Goth like edge, this song is not the Punk that Glenn Danzig used to help write and perform.

Twist Of Cain pretty much flows straight into Not Of This World. This flow is so fluid that most of the time if I'm not really paying attention to the tracks, but just have the tunes playing in the back ground, I think it's just one long and extended track.

This album contains a few Danzig tracks I love, but my favourite on this album is She Rides. It's slow, Bluesy, dark, and just so sexy sounding. This song was written for little Goth strippers, but is a warning to all those that would feast their eyes, and souls upon such a dark creature. "She rides / Let loose upon the world / She is the night / And my loneliness in bondage / She's black / And sin runds down her back / She rides / From the daylight in chains / She rides the night / She rides the night / She slides / Down inside your skin / In time / She will make you scream / She's death / In a ghoul white dress / She rides / In the night of your mind / She rides the night / She rides the night / Yea / She'll take you down / She'll take you / She'll take you around / She'll take you down / She'll take you / She'll take you around / She rides / Let loose upon the world / She is the night / And my loneliness n bondage / She's black / And sin runs down her back / She rides / From the daylight in chains / She rides the night / She rides the night / Ooh yea / She'll take you down / She'll take you / She'll take you around / She'll take you down / She'll take you / She'll take you around / She'll take you down / She'll take you / She'll take you around / She'll take you down / She'll take you / She'll take you / around". Although a bit repetative, which I don't mind, this song totally reminds me of The Doors.

By the time track four starts up, I'm reminded about how sexy I find Glenn Danzig's voice. The way he croons all over Soul On Fire, is just fantastic. If I were a woman, or homosexual, I would have it bad for Glenn, just based on his voice.

Am I Demon is one of the tracks on this album that I could go either way on. I find this a pretty typical Metal track. But it gives me the chance to point out that I don't care for the way Eerie Von's bass is pushed too far down into the low end, and is lost a bit in the mix with Chuck Biscuits' drums. You can hear the bass on this song like all the others, but it's more like a like a low end filler, and less like the actual instrument. However, this is a Rick Rubin produced album, and if you compare it to other albums he's done, that's kind of normal for him.

Next up is Danzig's most famous track. MOTHER!!! Because you can't simply write or say mother, it must be done with attitude and aggression. It has to be MOTHER!!! However, my favourite part about this song is listening to John Christ open up on the guitar and drive this bitch home.

Possession is a great album cut. It's yet another song that's the perfect blend of where they have come from, and where they would go. Some would say this is a bit of a filler, but those people aren't seeing all the influences that are wrapped up in this track. Once again, I hear a lot of The Doors, and even some Iron Butteryfly.

To me End Of Time is a bit of a filler, but only because it sounds like a little mix of everything that's on this album. I think if this song had been looser in feeling, because I find it way too ridged and tight, it may have been better. It's like someone was trying to force this song into something it wasn't. Rick Rubin is a fantatsic producer, but he does have a tendancy to cause this effect on at least one track per album that he works on.

The Hunter is the exact opposite. It feels like a well broken in leather jacket. It's form fitting, loose where it needs to be, and hard where it counts. This is one of those tracks that I really enjoy on this album.

One of my favourite things about Danzig, the band, is how they let the music breathe. Sure the drums tend to be pretty steady and continuous, but other than that, the guitar is allowed to just ring out, and Glenn takes his time with the vocals. It's not all about speed and quick delivery. Like I said I love how the man croons.

The album ends with Evil Thing. I don't think this was a good choice for an album closer, but then again there isn't a track on this album that I think would cap it off right. Evil Thing though, is a track that is a filler at the end of the album, and that's something I always dislike.

I don't think this is Danzig's best album, but I do think it was a great start to his solo career. Also while I do complain about Rubin's production on this album, I should mention that the over all sound is fantastic. The clarity of everything, except for the bass, is pretty much perfect. It's nice, crisp, and clear.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ozzy Osbourne - Prince of Darkness

Disc Two, Disc Three, Disc Four

I remember finding this at the discount department store I once worked at (not Wal-Mart, but just as disgraceful), and it was very reasonably priced. Happily, I picked it up. I read the inner book way back then and one of the passages that really caught my eye was in the first paragraph. Ozzy wasn't interested in making a box set that was made up of tracks that you can already get.

Instead he opted to release four discs of material that you can't get without searching in the discount bins for that one stray song, or are live versions, or alternate versions, or simply never released tracks. I think one or two tracks may be standard studio tracks as well, but you get the point. This collection was something the fans would want to buy, and not feel cheated.

Basically the collection is spilt into four discs. The first one is studio tracks, mixed with live tracks. Most of the live tracks had been on the tribute album, but that's okay. It's a great mix of early Ozzy. But all songs had been released prior to this in some way.

The second disc is more of the same, but contains more demo tracks, and a lot more live tracks.

The third album is made up of Ozzy Osbourne ft/ or ft/ Ozzy Osbourne. It's an interesting mix, using a variety of musicians, from various genres.

The last disc is a covers album, and what would eventually make up the cover album Under Cover.

I have mixed feelings about Ozzy, and Sharon, but that's okay. I know she plays him like a puppet, but he loves it, and since he can still do his thing, I'm fine with that. I think that if you put a pen in his hand and give him a guitarist to work off, he can still function as he needs. I think this collection is the perfect example of that. The album kicks off with a live version of I Don't Know. This is a blisteringly awesome song. It just doesn't do it from me, and it's purely because I was exposed to other guitarists before I was really exposed to Randy Rhoads and nothing more.

Mr. Crowley and Crazy Train make up the next two tracks, but I can really hear the remastering on Crazy Train. The difference between the two is that Crazy Train seems to all of a sudden have a heavy bottom end, and it really makes the song come back to life in a way my old copy of Blizzard never could.

I don't like Good-Bye To Romance. I do apologize to the Ozzy fans out there, but the only slow song I'm willing to overlook is Changes. Only the Black Sabbath studio version. It's the only time I've ever heard him sing a slow song and not sound like a pussy whipped bastard. However, this live version is pretty and nice and that's all cool for the people that dig this song.

That's followed up by a live version of Suicide Solution. I'll be honest; I'm pretty burnt out on most songs from the Blizzard Of Oz album, but this live track is killer. The remastering once again makes a huge difference. I also enjoy the soloing that was left in at the end of the song. It has me drooling like Homer Simpson with a pink sprinkled doughnut.

I love Randy Rhoads and the reason is Over The Mountain. Part of me is happy to be getting a remastered studio version, but I would have liked to have heard a top notch quality live version.

Flying High Again is the live version we always hear, when we hear a live version, and since I've never been a fan of You Can't Kill Rock And Roll I'm not going to get into that either. Diary Of A Madman is a whole different story. This is the Ozzy Material I love. It's creepy, scary, and sounds like a whole ensemble, not just a song with some lyrics sung out, while the guitarist plays with himself. In other words Ozzy's recipe for commercial success. Instead Diary takes us on a journey, that has a feel, and vibe, and you don't notice the guitarist playing with himself, because it sets the mood. All the other instruments that are used in certain sections help add to that feel. Did I mention that Randy Rhoads is killer on this song.

Bark At The Moon is Bark At The Moon, but this time it's live. Ooooo. Actually I wish the mix wasn't so shitty on this track, because you can't hear Jake E. Lee loud enough. It's a bit upsetting, since it is live.

I totally dig the next track Spiders. This collection is the first time I got to hear it, and I fell in love. The bass lays down this slinky, creepy, Jazz like rhythm, while the guitar throws off these really freaky riffs and fills. This song is very much a spider. It's a shame the record company b-sided this one on Ozzy. I think it would have done great on the radio. If I were to put together a collection of my favourite Ozzy tracks this would be on it.

Back to the top.

I find Rock 'N' Roll Rebel a bit cliché. It's a decent enough song, but it falls under Stock Ozzy. You're No Differen't finishes off the first disc. I wouldn't say that this is a shitty song, but there is just way too much synth being shoved down my throat. In the grand sheme of Ozzy this may be some of the worst.

A live version of Ultimate Sin kicks off the second disc. I'm not a fan of this song. Way too much keyboards, and it's for the sake of having keyboards. Jake E Lee's Guitar work is top notch and it sounds pretty killer, but that's the only saving grace to me. I'm glad that in later years Ozzy saw the error of his ways.

After that it's a live version of Never Know Why. I'm not sure why they had Ozzy include so many tracks from this period. It's not like any of these songs were ever successful, and with the exception of maybe Ultimate Sin no one claims to like these songs. I would rather have heard a medley of all of Jake's solos put together instead.

Thank God For The Bomb is the last of the live tracks, from the dark years of Ozzy's life post Randy Rhoads. This one has really shitty production, but I find it the most interesting of all the live tracks that open this collection.

Jake E.Lee is a really good guitarist and I can really respect his style, but when we get to the Zakk Wylde material I'm very happy. Zakk has great guitar sound that's so thick and heavy, and at the same time can still make piercing shreds.

Crazy Babies is the first track to feature Zakk and I'm so happy the keyboards are gone, because this guitar would eat them alive. I think one of the biggest mistakes Ozzy ever made was that he stopped looking for up and coming guitarists. This track shows he grabbed Wylde at just the right time.

Breakin' All The Rules is another track I had never heard prior to buying this collection, and I'm thankful that Ozzy included it. It's heavy, and wild, and erraticly disjointed in a way that suits Ozzy well. I like when Mr. Osbourne is suffering from controlled madness. It works well for him, and I think Zakk helped harness it just right. If Ozzy had stuck with his original plan, No More Tears would have been his last album. I remember the big retirement tour and I was happy about it. I like the live album that followed, and it was the perfect way to end a gret career. If Sabbath had gotten back together at that point, that would have been cool too, but sadly that wasn't the case.

I was never a fan of the song I Don't Want to Change The World, but I like that they included the demo version on here. The album version is more polished, and it sounds cool enough if you like the song. This demo version on the other hand allows you to see a little insight on how Ozzy and Zakk saw the song.

Imagine that the most touching song on the No More Tears album was written with the help of Lemmy Kilmeister. Mama, I'm Coming Home sounds great on this demo version. It almost sounds like it was recorded in a building with huge cathedral ceilings and sunlight pouring in every window. From a fan point of view I like this version better than the original.

I'm not a big fan of Dersire, it's one of those tracks that's killer, but it's not that special to me. Zakk sounds killer with his playing, and if you like Zakk you should love this song. Also this is a demo.

Ozzy opted to use the studio version of No More Tears. This song is in the top ten of all Ozzy Osbourne (not Black Sabbath) for sure, and probably the top five for many. This is one of those songs you should know and if you don't you have been robbed. Ozzy credits Mike Inez for this one, and says he'll be playing it as long as he tours. I'm glad to hear it, although it's the production of the studio version that makes this track for me.

I love when artists can't remember recording tracks. Won't Be Coming Home (S.I.N.), is a demo that has this trait for Ozzy. I think this is a great track and it's been on my Mp3 player quite a few times over the years.

Joe Holmes toured as Ozzy's guitarist for five years, and he was fantastic according to everyone that heard him live. Sadly the only recording Ozzy has of him is this live version of Perry Mason. I love the studio version of this song, and when I hear this version I get a little disappointed. The production sucks. To be more specific the mix sucks. Ozzy's vocals are pushed too far above everything else, and have an echo that doesn't blend with the instruments at all. The drums also sound out of place as well. It sounds more like an open air recording and less like a sound board recording, but it also sounds like it was recorded during rehearsal, not the actual show.

I've reveiwed the Ozzmosis album and made my thoughts clear about See You On The Others Side. I don't think much more kindly of this demo version, but I will say that I do think it's better than the studio album version. There's an awesome dreamy quality to this track that makes it feel more peaceful than the other. I also really like the sax work. I don't recall hearing it all that much in the other version. There's not a lot of it, but enough to add something worth while to the track. The only flaw in this demo version comes from the back up tracks. They sound odd and poorly produced, which makes sense for a demo. The coolest part about this track is it kind of has a Pink Floyd quality to it.

Walk On Water was a track recorded for Beavis And Butt-Head Do America, but it was done with Moby for that version. This is the demo version, and the one actually heard in the movie. It's cool, and I like the Middle Eastern motif to the music, but it's a little too Alternative sounding for me.

Gets Me Through is one of those songs that I really just have no use for. It's from an album that I didn't care for, and if it were not for the coolness of the guitar in this live version I'd be going on a tirade right now. The lyrics are the type that really depress me. I hate when artists start to pretty much just parody themselves in their music to appease the dumbest part of their fan base. If you want to look at it from another point of view you could say it's like bate to try and draw new fans to the old greats, but in that case just play the greats. Instead of giving us lines like, "I'm not the kind of person you think I am / I'm not the anti-christ or the iron man / I have a vision that I just can't control / I feel I've lost my spirit and sold my soul / Got no control / I try to entertain you the best I can / I wish I'd started walking before I ran / But I still love the feeling I get from you / I hope you'll never stop cause it gets me through yeah / It gets me through yeah".

Bang Bang (You're Dead) is a demo that contains lyrics to a song that had to be changed for mass release. It became Facing Hell on Down To Earth in the end, but on here you get to hear the original lyrics. I think the record company was full of morons, and were playing it too safe. On the other hand it's not like this would have gotten much radio play. It's okay, but not a song the radio would want to play.

I'm not a fan of Dreamer. It's a pretty ballad, and I won't knock Ozzy for creating his own Image. It's just not a song I listen to.

Back to the top.

I like the third disc. It's a great mix of songs, most of them being covers. At times it get's a little silly, and at other points it's pretty killer.

The first song on the disc is Iron Man, which is done with Therapy? I've covered this song before in the Nativity In Black tribute album. It's a fantastic track, and amazingly well done. A great update, that Ozzy can't remember recording.

Primus is one of the most musically talented bands. They are musician's musicians. Listening to them rip into N.I.B. while Ozzy throws down the vocals is even better. I've also covered this track before, in my review of Nativity In Black II.

Purple Haze was done as a favour for Doc McGee, and is the only track Ozzy was able to record with the late Bruce Fairburn. When you mix in Zakk Wylde on guitar, Geezer Butler on bass, and the late Randy Castillo on drums, you get one hell of a heavy ass track. I've heard Zakk play other Hendrix songs, and thought many were better done. I don't care for how the bass is kind of buried in the mix either, but other than that, not a bad track.

Unlike the first three songs, I have never heard the original version of Pictures Of Matchstick Men so I have no point of comparison. However, Ozzy backed by Type O Negative is totally fucking awesome. This song was recorded for Howard Stern's Private Parts soundtrack. I have that album, and this song is one of the reasons I picked it up. I don't think this is one of Ozzy's greatest songs, but it's cool enough that I wish that he and Type O had recorded an album together before Peter Steele's passing.

The next track has an interesting story behind it. Originally the female vocals for Shake You Head (Let's Go to Bed) were supposed to be done by Madonna. However, the Pop Princess thought she was too good to be on a track with Ozzy and refused, so they were replaced by Kim Basinger. That's the most interesting thing about this song. It sounds like a bunch of typical artistic eighties new wave. It's pretty bland, and Madonna may have blamed Ozzy, but I think it was really because she didn't want to touch this song.

Sometimes you do things just for the enjoyment of your children. That's how we get Ozzy and Miss Piggy performing Born To Be Wild. This song is fun. I mean it's just pure whimsical enjoyment. If you need a pick me up this will do it. If you are looking for something serious, please skip this track.

Nowhere To Run (Vapor trail), which Ozzy only talks about by admitting to biting the head of Kenny McCormick. This is one of the crazyiest tracks on the album. This is Ozzy with Crystal Method, DMX, Ol' Dirty Bastard (R.I.P.), and Fuzzbubble. First off, Ozzy actually delivers vocals that sound like he's rapping, and it's not bad, I'm not saying Ozzy should rap, but this attempt is acceptable. Then you get the fact that this is a Rap track, with a Techno-ish music track, that's just raw adrenaline. Not exactly my kind of track, but I let it play out when the disc is playing.

Psycho Man is one of two songs recorded for the Black Sabbath Reunion album. I was into the song real heavy when it first came out, and over time I find that I've become more and more ambivilant to the song. It's a stock track for the most part, enjoyable, but still pretty standard from Sabbath.

I'm not sure why Ozzy chose to leave Selling My Soul off this album and include For Heaven's Sake 2000. I don't mind the rap stylings in the track above, but on this one I think they are ass. Ozzy isn't rapping on this one either. It's more like Tony Iommi and his parts were just sampled.

There is something really odd about the fact that the one track on this collection to contain Ozzy Osbourne and Lemmy Kilmeister, Motorhead more specifically. It's the only song they have actually recorded together, eventhough they've written and toured together many times. However, this is a killer track. I remember listening to this track on my Mp3 player a hell of a lot when I first got this collection, and after listening to it for this review I think I'll put it back on again.

Therapy was recorded with Infectious Grooves. This is the first time in history Ozzy and Rob Trejillo play together. Infectious Grooves was across the hall in another studio room when No More Tears was being recorded, which is how this came about. I do enjoy the track, but it's not one that I would go out of my way to listen to.

Dweezil Zappa, Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, Warren DeMartini, Nuno Bettencourt and Tim Pierce all take turns (in the listed order) playing the guitar solos for Ozzy's cover of the Disco classic Stayin' Alive. This is the only one of two tracks on the disc to never have been released before. This was kind of a Dweezil Zappa pet project that turned out really cool. I suggest checking it out.

The album finishes with Dog, The Bounty Hunter. This is the theme for the show, which Dog personally asked Ozzy to write for him. It's okay for a TV theme song. This is the only other track that was never released prior to this disc.

Back to the top.

Disc four is the opposite of the previous one in the sense that only one track on this album had been released before this box set, and that was Changes done with his daughter Kelly. Other than that, this is a disc of brand new covers that Ozzy decided to rip out in the studio.

I know almost all of the songs on this album are pretty good, and I have to say that most of them are pretty damn enjoyable. The first track on the CD is 21st Century Schiziod Man, originally by King Crimson. Ozzy's version is only 3:53 and had a Heavy and controlled sound to it, but doesn't lose the erratic essence of King Crimson's Jazz flavoured original. My biggest complaint about this one is how it's been cut down musically.

I totally dig the rendition of Mississippi Queen on this album. This song has alway been a favourite of mine, and I will always think no one can do it better than Mountain originally did, but this version is still damn good. I think that it helps having the solo on this version being played by the same guitarist that did the original solo, Leslie West.

One of the very first David Bowie songs I fell in love with was All The Young Dudes. Specifically the version from the live album that corresponded with Ziggy Stardust. I have heard a few different versions of this song over the years and as far as I'm concerned none have done justice to Bowie or Mott The Hoople's versions. My biggest complaint about Ozzy's cover is that it sounds like his song Dreamer way too much in the tone and sound.

In My Life is a bit slow for me, and I've always thought that about The Beatles original too. However, I don't mind this cover too much. It's a nice tribute to the original. Jerry Cantrell does a really good job with the guitars on this song.

I guess I should mention that this specific disc was recorded with guitarist Jerry Cantrell, bassist Chris Wyse and drummer Mike Bordin. You should know Cantrell from Alice In Chains and Bordin from Faith No More. Wyse is currently the bassist for The Cult and Owl, but he's also played with Steve Vai, so that says alot about him. It's a really interesting mix for this album.

Fire was the only song on this album I surprisingly didn't know prior to hearing it on this album. I have since heard the original, and I've even got to hear Authur Brown (the original performer) do this one with Alice Cooper. I really like what Ozzy and the band did with this one. I'm a big fan of this cover.

There's an interesting spin put on For What It's Worth, and it's enough for me to be okay with the song. It's not the greatest cover I've ever heard of this song, but then again I've already written about the best cover I've heard of this song with Rush's Feedback album. But, it's still worth checking this one out.

I've taken a lot of abuse over the years from my buddy Pat about the G'N'R version of Sympathy For The Devil, and how he hates the sound of it. I can understand his issues, and luckily the Ozzy version didn't exsist back then. I'm not a fan of this one. It sounds like Alice In Chains trying to do a grunge interpretation of the song, and it's not so good.

Working Class Hero is once again another song where Ozzy nails it. I was a fan of the Lennon version for only a few years before this album came out, and in that time I also heard Marilyn Manson do a cover of this one in between, so I was scared when I originally put this track on. I'm very happy Ozzy did this one so well.

Good Times was recorded for Sharon, and when you hear the lyrics you understand why she bugged Ozzy to do it. Personally, I would have prefered if she hadn't. I'm not a fan of the song the whole way around.

Prince Of Darkness concludes with a cover of Black Sabbath's Changes, which is now a duet with his daughter Kelly Osbourne. What a horrible way to end a collection. I have no clue how this version ever became Ozzy's only number one hit, but it's really sad. I'm not going to say that this is a shitty version of the song, because it's not. However, it's just a poor choice to end this collection. It should have been slotted after Born To Be Wild with miss Piggy.

I was later a little pissed off that all the songs except for Changes ended up on an album called Under Cover, not long after this set came out, and had even more songs on it as well. For that I shame on you Ozzy.

To me this collection is worth picking up, if you find it for a reasonable price, or you are a middle level Ozzy fan, or higher. If you are a basic Ozzy fan I would probably stay clear and just go hunting for the original versions of all these songs. You can not use this collection like one might with a typical box set. This is not a super sized greatest hits package, it's live tracks, demo versions, and a bunch of covers. This is for the people that want the odd stuff.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Friday, January 25, 2013

Resevoir Dogs - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

There are three distinct memories that come to mind when I think about Resevoir Dogs. The first is how I kept falling asleep trying to stay up and watch this movie when it came out on TMN. It may have still been First Choice back then even. Either way, the movie was never on before midnight, and normally it was Saturday Nights while I was at my Dad's. Which meant that I would usually fall asleep by the time we get to Mr. Blonde's back story.

The second memory is a friend, George, having to act this one out during a came of cherades. By the time he finished his turn he was humorously laughing and pops up with, "Resevoir Dogs, great movie, lousy fucking title." This is after twenty seconds of acting out doggy style, and making hand motions to try and show a resevoir.

The third story involves me falling in love with a song during one of the sickest scenes I've ever seen in a movie. When you think of the mindset of Mr. Blonde during his big dance number, he is truly one sick fuck. However, right after I saw this movie for the first time the whole way through I got into my Uncle Greg's record collection and found a copy on a vinyl collection of Pop hits. It was magical. As for the sountrack itself, I love it. It's been a favourite, hidden gem, of mine since I picked it up. I know you can find it in bargain bins everywhere, and if you do you should pick it up. The mix of odd eccentric Pop tracks from the 70's song remakes, and a little country, plus sound bites from the movie are totally awesome.

A lot of the sound bites on this album are snippets from the radio DJ you can hear throughout the movie. It works perfectly in this mix, because it makes the album seem like more of an album, less of a soundtrack.

And Now Little Green Bag... gives a little historical insight into the song that follows, which is Little Green Bag. This is a song that I love. You can get down and boogie to this number and happily shake your money maker. I can picture my buddy Grayson "mowing the lawn" to this one.

Rock Flock Of Five is another radio exert, but this one has nothing to do with the next song, Hooked On A Feeling. Most people think of that dancing baby when they hear this song, but I knew it from this movie first. For the most part this song is fun and okay, but it's not a song I would listen to on my own for no reason.

I love Bohemiath. It's a great radio clip. I even throw it on my Mp3 player for fun from time to time.

That leads into I Gotcha, which is fun for camp value, and I will get down to this one at home when it comes on the CD player.

One of the couple time this album plays back to back music tracks is going from I Gotcha to Magic Carpet Ride. This is not the original by Steppenwolf. This version was done by Bedlam, and it's different from the original, but yet very faithful. Once the song kicks in it's totally Magic Carpet Ride, but it takes a bit to get there. This cover has an entended opening. For me this song has always been about the lyrics. It's a song I would want to cover myself just for that reason. "I like to dream, yes, yes / Right between the sound machine / On a cloud of sound I drift in the night / Any place it goes is right / Goes far, flies near / To the stars away from here / Well, you don't know what / We can find / Why don't you come with me little girl / On a magic carpet ride / Well, you don't know what / We can see / Why don't you tell your dreams to me / Fantasy will set you free / Close your eyes now / Look inside now / Let the sound / Take you away / Last night I hold Aladdin's lamp / So I wished that I could stay / Before the thing could answer me / Well, someone came and took the lamp away / I looked / Around / A lousy candle's all I found / Well, you don't know what / We can find / Why don't you come with me little girl / On a magic carpet ride / Well, you don't know what / We can see / Why don't you tell your dreams to me / Fantasy will set you free". I also understand the words are a bit repetitive, but the music makes up for that. I don't think this version is as good as the original, but it's close.

I think that the Madonna Speech is one of the best pieces or scripted dialogue, and Quinten Terentino's intense delivery is fantastic.

Fool For Love is one of those country songs that my grandma (mom's mom) would listen to, even my mom. Not because it's whiney girl country, but because it's softer, and yet still enjoyable. Lyrically, it's a bit of a downer. Musically, it's rather upbeat sounding.

Super Sounds is the perfect intro to Stuck In The Middle With You. I learned a ton about this song, just from hearing the intro. The song itself is great. Sure the famous movie scene I mentioned earlier in review is praticially why I like this song so much, but that's fine. The song on its own is fantastic and totally kick ass musically. The duo guitar soloing is really worth the listen as well.

Harvest Moon is another country track. I do like the song for what it is, but I'm just not big on the style as a whole.

Let's Get A Taco is another great bit of dialogue from the movie. It's Harvey Keitel explaining how to deal with resistence during a robbery.

Keep On Truckin' is just another radio clip. This leads to Coconut. I'll never forget the first time I heard this song, which was in this movie. I can't take it seriously, but at the same time it's still a really neat piece. It's almost a live musician Techno (or something like that) track. I really enjoy this number in the Bubble Gum Pop fun upbeat sense of the song. Outside of the relation to this movie I have little or no use for this song. It's not a track that ever makes the Mp3 player. The album finishes with the track Home Of Rock. "K-BI-LL-Y home of rock." A nice simple closing.

I like that this soundtrack includes a diverse assortment of music. If every track was like Little Green Bag or Harvest Moon, this album would be ass. However, having a couple tracks that represent a few varities of music is really cool.

The movie audio tracks are what helps really make the album for me. Let's Get A Taco and Madonna Speech have both spent time on my Mp3 player. Of all the tracks on this album Stuck In The Middle With You has gotten the most play.

This is an album for people that like albums. I would really love to get a copy of this soundtrack on vinyl, just to for the full artistic beauty of it.

My only bitch about this album is sound quality. Digital remastering would be better for the CD release.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Scorpions

I have the same complaint with this album as I do with every other 20th century Masters album. the production sounds flat. Even on songs that I know have much better sounding production. But I wanted a cheaper CD that gave me a decent run down of a great band. I'll eventually replace this one when the time is right, just based on production.

Prior to buying this album, the only CD I had from this amazing German band, was Crazy World. To this day I still love that album. I also had the luxury of getting to see Scorpions live in 1996 when they were touring with Alice Cooper. I didn't know half the set list, but it didn't matter. These guys were awesome. If I could get a good quality copy of the show on audio I'd be super happy. A lot of that set list can be found on this disc, but certain songs just sound better live.

This is a great introduction to commercial Scorpions if that is what you are looking for, and it was fine for me to use as a starting point. But that's all this album is.

The first thing this album does is get the band's biggest, most over played hit out of the way, right off the bat. Rock You Like A Hurricane is a great track, and it gets people riled up perfectly. As much as I might trash on this song, because it's really very tame for this band, it's a great energy builder. It helps set the mood for excitment.

No One Like You is a pretty decent track. I've got to be honest. Love songs should only be sung by German men. This isn't a full on power ballad, but it's pretty close, and Klaus Meine sounds much cooler doing it than any of those American Glam bands. Hell better than the the British ones too.

I fell in love with The Zoo when I saw Scorpions live. They had such a great back boogie to the song that it was great to watch all the women at the concert dancing around in their little seat area. The studio version of the song doesn't capture the same vibe and feel. Sure ladies can totally strut to this sexy, sexy track, but it's so much better live. This could easily go on my list of songs I want to cover.

I'm not a fan of Loving You Sunday Morning. I didn't know this song prior to this collection, and that was okay. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad song, and I can think of friends that I'm sure would dig it. It's just not my thing.

Another complaint I have about this album is the number of slower tracks they included. Still Loving You is an awesome song. I think it's absolutely beautiful, but this is the third love song at this point, and I'm getting annoyed.

Big City Nights is another song that is so much better live. The production is what kills it on this album for me. I'd love to hear a remaster, or better yet a good live version.

Once again it's time for another ballad, and now the songs are really starting to get ballady. Believe In Love has me banging my head off the wall asking why. It's just not cool to have this many love songs on one album. This is not a man's Scorpion album. This one was designed for women.

Rhythm Of Love has me on the fence. I like the song when it comes on the radio. It's not exactly a Scorpion's Top Ten contender, but I can tolerate it. However, on this collection I'm just happy that this love song isn't so fucking slow.

By the time we get to track nine, which is I Can't Explain, I pretty much want to hand this album to my daughter, because she'll enjoy it more than I do. It's perfect for girls that wanna rock out, and tolelrable for guys that want to rock out with chicks. This album is a great stripped album, but it would need better production. The last three tracks on this album are great tracks, even though they are either slow, big time ballad, or one hell of a naughty track.

First up is the really naughty Tease Me Please Me. Oh this song is musically perfect. The guitars actually sound like they are a woman's teasing fingers. The riffing is simple, and the chorus is as catchy as the STD's that come with women using this song to seduce men. Then there's the lyrics. "I've been around the world / I've known a lot of girls / Livin' and lovin' / It's hard to keep them all in line / I've seen a lot of sights / Many crazy nights / Cruisin' and boozin' / It's a wonder that I'm still alive / Never wasted any time / Never missed a beat / Total satisfaction / Always guaranteed / Tease me / Please me / No one needs to know / Tease me / Please me / Before I have to go". It's real Rock N' Roll on this one.

Next up is the slower and more classic Winds Of Change. This is the biggest song the Scorpions ever wrote as far as I'm concerned, and the charts around the world. Out of all the major markets, Canada, US and the UK were the only ones where the song didn't reach number one. It was ten, four and two, respectively. This was the song that captured the fall of the Berlin Wall, and brought hope to so many. " I follow the Moskva / Down to Gorky Park / Listening to the wind of change / An August summer night / Soldiers passing by / Listening to the wind of change / The world is closing in / Did you ever think / That we could be so close, like brothers / The future's in the air / I can feel it everywhere / Blowing with the wind of change / Take me to the magic of the moment / On a glory night / Where the children of tomorrow dream away / In the wind of change / Walking down the street / Distant memories / Are buried in the past forever / I follow the Moskva / Down to Gorky Park / Listening to the wind of change / Take me to the magic of the moment / On a glory night / Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams / With you and me / Take me to the magic of the moment / On a glory night / Where the children of tomorrow dream away / In the wind of change / The wind of change / Blows straight into the face of time / Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell / For peace of mind / Let your balalaika sing / What my guitar wants to say / Take me to the magic of the moment / On a glory night / Where the children of tomorrow share their dreams / With you and me / Take me to the magic of the moment / On a glory night / Where the children of tomorrow dream away / In the wind of change". It's just a really moving song.

The album ends with Send Me An Angel. I normally wouldn't bitch about this song. I love it on the Crazy World album. On this collection I'm just tired of the slow songs. However, I do normally love this song. The lyrical content is once again something that just totally draws me in. "The wise man said just walk this way / To the dawn of the light / The wind will blow into your face / As the years pass you by / Hear this voice from deep inside / It's the call of your heart / Close your eyes and your will find / The passage out of the dark / Here I am / Will you send me an angel / Here I am / In the land of the morning star / The wise man said just find your place / In the eye of the storm / Seek the roses along the way / Just beware of the thorns / Here I am / Will you send me an angel / Here I am / In the land of the morning star / The wise man said just raise your hand / And reach out for the spell / Find the door to the promised land / Just believe in yourself / Hear this voice from deep inside / It's the call of your heart / Close your eyes and your will find / The way out of the dark / Here I am / Will you send me an angel / Here I am / In the land of the morning star / Here I am / Will you send me an angel / Here I am / In the land of the morning star". I know people think this song is about worshipping Satan, but I think it's about needing an angel to help guide the subject of the song out of Satan land. Telling the person to close there eyes and just follow the Angel, ignoring everything in the world controlled by Satan. But that's just my view.

I've made it pretty cler how I feel about this album. It's just not an album for me, but others, mainly women, might really like this one.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

4/10 - personal bias

Monday, January 21, 2013

Kashmire - Symphonic Led Zeppelin

While I was in college I would take a lot of chances with the music I would buy. Sometimes I would find something fantastic, and other times I would end up wasting money. Then once in a while I would come across something that made me take notice and capture my attention in a mystical and unique way.

I love Led Zeppelin. I'm not a fan by "Real Fan" levels, but I do love them. When I ran across this album I couldn't help but want to explore the concept of a Zeppelin done with a symphony. The only draw back was it was a disk that I considered a risky gamble. Back in those days any CD over twenty dollars either had to be Alice Cooper, a double disc set, or really impressive. I hated over spending on crappy albums.

I'm happy to say that Kashmir ended up being totally worth the money. The songs sounded awesome, and I liked the altered arrangements, as well as the Middle Eastern flavour that's been sewn into the music. I also like the original, Zeppelin inspired pieces that lead in and end this album.

The album starts with Dawn At The Great Pyramid. There's some ambient music, mainly strings, mixed in with sound effects of voyagers walking with horses.

Then they arrive at Kashmir. This track just thunders like the original. For the most part it sounds directly transcribed, and a bit predictable. However, it sound like a true Classical piece. This could have been Wagner, Bach and any of the guys with much harder names to spell. There's a heavy flair that represents the geographical area of this song. I could so picture this being played live as part of an orchestra during a great Opera. Then around 6:30 the song takes a different twist. Everything gets quiet and slowly builds up in a great moment of awe.

I feel I should mention that I often load this album into my CD player and crank it for background music when I'm working on my fictional writing. It makes a great soundtrack.

The Battle Of Evermore opens with a babbling brook, as well as sounds that would accompany such a nature setting. The theme of music styling that represents Egypt or other surrounding countries is interesting when mixed with the music of this song. It has me thinking of Hobbits, Fairies and Wizards on Tatooine at night, in one of the space ports. But they are all partying outside. Frolicking about like Hobbits do.

You know what song it is right away when Stairway To Heaven starts up. I will listen to this version of the song over the original nine times out of ten if given the choice. It's magic. Just pure magic. It should have been used as part of the score for the Lord Of The Rings. It has everything; love, wonder, magic, strength and when you start to approach 5:40 you can feel the battle coming. Then by 6:20 they are off to war and it's a raging epic battle that ends in such epic loss, full of so much heart break. After that the new day dawns and the happy memories carry on.

The Ents are coming to Isengard in When The Levee Breaks, and they are pissed. I don't like the opening to Going To California. It sounds too typical. Like any other Classical piece you've heard. Once it's clearly on to the song we all know it's pretty decent. I'm not a fan, but then again I'm not a fan of Vivaldi's Spring either, which this reminds me of. This is probably my least favourite song on this album. It also runs on for way too long.

I've never been a big fan of the orignal Friends.This version is cool.

The last Led Zeppelin track on this album is All My Love. One of my favourites in the original form. This is still a great song, and would be pefect in a movie score. It's a little too much like that for me, though. But kudos on the song itself.

Kulu Valley (Ambient Remix) finishes off the album with a track that sounds like Pink Floyd experimenting with Trace music, or something like that. I know people that would hate this song. I know people that would smack me for calling it a song. I can respect it as musical poetry if that makes any sense.

This album is a mind blowing experience that I find repeatedly enjoyable. When I write I normally only select certain songs from this album to listen to. Friends is never included, and the same goes for Kulu Valley and Going To California. Kashmir, Stairway To Heaven and The Battle Of Evermore see the most action. When I put the CD on in my player, I just like to let the whole thing play out, but once in a while I will skip Friends. It slows the album down way too much sometimes.

8/10 - content

10/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Beatles - Let It Be... Naked

I don't own the original version of this album, so I can't do a point by point conparision between the two. I can say that I totally dig this release, and I like what I hear differently from the original releases that I do know.

I'm not even sure how to really get into this review, so I'm just going to dive straight into the songs, and we'll see where this goes.

The first thing you notice with Get Back, which kicks off the album, is the sound quality. You can tell this is all remastered, and it's been done so well you can feel the ambience of the room in which it was recorded. It's interesting how clean and clear each instrument and note is. You'd swear that this entire track was recorded in one take right off the floor for the demo.

Stripped back is the best word to describe this album. I remember making demo tapes that had sound like you hear on this album. That's not to knock this album's production. It's just that you can hear when a bunch of guys are working off each other and there's an open room vibe. It has the sound of a group of guys that just want to get together, make some music, and then move on to make more music.

Dig A Pony is one of the better examples of this. But in the case of Dig A Pony it was worth playing more than once.

I can't say the same thing about For You Blue. This is one of those fun off the floor screw around songs that's meant exclusively for the fans. Odd too considering it's a Harrison song, and I normally really fancy those.

I don't care for The Long And Winding Road. To me this sounds like the direction that Paul wanted to take, and eventually did, and very much not what Harrison was interested in. On the other hand, what do I know based on the last song.

I enjoy the fun and bouncy atmosphere of Two Of Us. You can hear they are indoors, but you'd almost think they had an old Southern American front porch built in the studio for them to play on.

I guess I should mention that I tend to be very finicky about my Beatles. I'm not a Fan, but I really do enjoy The Beatles. Which is why I know I don't care for some of the songs on here.

I do like I've Got A Feeling. It sounds strong and tight. It's like a magical jam was caught and preserved. I just find this song so damn cool, and it's been on my Mp3 player a few times over the years. I also find Paul's bass line to be very mesmerising.

One After 909 sounds too much like the bands early material for my liking. I find that this song helps cement the idea in my head that the stripped down, pulled back nature of Let It Be... Naked makes it sound very much like a British Blues album. Well, The Beatles version of one.

Don't Let Me Down has always sounded like an end of the night drunken slur between brothers from different mothers. If not drunken, possibly some trippy downers that make them sound pie eyed, but still slightly love lorne.

I Me Mine is wicked cool. I like when George is allowed to really play guitar. It's not like he's a guitar God, but he understands the instrument and what it can really do. He didn't view it as merely a tool to help keep the melody.

I simply don't care for Across The Universe. I find it annoying and it drives me up the wall. I have never heard a version I care for. I don't mind the lyrics so much, but mixed with the music I find it distasteful in an overly sweet way. I do like the weird noise I can hear in the background, but only with the headphones on. It's a nifty reverb related effect.

The album finishes with Let It Be. I love this song, I've always found it very strong and powerful. This stripped back version is no different. The only difference is it sounds like it was recorded in church on Saturday afternoon, as the ministry get's ready for the Saturday Night services. It's because of songs like this I believe in Heaven and Hell. It allows me to feel so much love, and to live without it would be hell.

This is a cool album, as a collector. I can say that the songs I don't care for, I either don't like when I hear them normally, or wouldn't like on the original album. I do however like the concept behind this reissue. I love the stripped back, and underproduced sound. I love that everything is clear, and distinct, plus well balanced. I love that it sounds like the room they were in. I love how it sounds like a group of musicians that just wanted to lay down some tracks together, and so they did.

7/10 - content

9/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Armageddon - The Album

There are some albums that you only buy because you get swept up in the hype and padamonium. I'm usually pretty good at avoiding those albums, but that's not the case with Armageddon. The soundtrack to the blockbuster movie starring Bruce Willis, and Steven Tyler's daughter was so over hyped that it's one of the few albums that both Andria and I owned when we moved in together. That's only saying something, because Andria didn't buy herself many albums prior to my influence on such manners.

Now, I have nothing against Liv Tyler, and I think she was decent in Lord Of The Rings and other movies I've seen her in, but she was mainly in this movie, so they could get Aerosmith songs for the soundtrack.

I don't remember the last time I listened to this CD of my own choice, and I can't even recall the last time Andria put it in the CD player, but I would say that it's been a few years and it's easy to see why. At least on my end.

The album opens with I Don't Want To Miss A Thing. A song one second short of being a five minute shitfest. I loathe Aerosmith for doing this song, and I hate how overplayed it was. It's a crappy over produced ballad, and nothing more. It's atypical dribble from a band capable of much better music.

There's a track on here by Journey, with Steve Auger performing the vocals. It's called Remember Me and it's totally forgetable. It's totally dated and sounds like a leftover from the band's popular days, that was recorded with modern technology. Well modern as of 1998. Also no need for this song to be 5:30. Way too long.

Next is Aerosmith track two of four on this soundtrack. While everyone was drooling all over the previously mentioned steaming turd, I was digging on What Kind Of Love Are You On. Listening to it now, I find it a bit silly. It's Aerosmith trying to catch that edge of Industrial that they can use with their own music. It's okay, but not something I would feel to listen to anymore in this day and age. That's followed by ZZ Top's La Grange. It's a great tune I've covered enough in other reviews. It's also the first track on here that I actually would want to listen to.

I've never been a fan of Bob Seger, with or without The Silver Bullet Band. I'm cool with Mid-West Rock, but not a fan generally. Roll Me Away doesn't help the cause in anyway.

I have no clue who Shawn Colvin is, or how When The Rainbow Comes ended up on this album, but I'm pretty sure oral sex was involved at a bare minimum.

Next is Aerosmith's Sweet Emotion. I've covered this one enough in past reviews. I have a love/hate relationship with Bon Jovi. Mister Big Time doesn't help the Jersey band's argument. This is one of those tracks that sounds wrong just based on how they were trying to make the band sound.

Aerosmith's cover of Come Together finishes up the tracks supplied by the Boston quintent. It's a great track, and I love it. If I didn't have it on other, better albums, It would be a saving grace to this one.

Patty Smyth's Wish I Were You isn't my kind of song, and it does nothing for this CD.

I know tons of people that are fans of Starseed by Canadian Alt rockers Our Lady Peace. Even I will say this is one of their better songs. I'm not a fan, but I can dig this tune.

Chantal Kreviazuk provides a sweet (as in sugary) cover of Leaving On A Jet Plane. It's a nice tune, and I won't knock it.

The theme from Armageddon is okay. It's pretty typical for one of these kinds of movies.

The album finishes with Animal Crackers. The vocals are performed by Steven Tyler and contain exerts from the movie spoken by Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler. This is pretty much a cheap ass promotion piece. It serves no real purpose to this album other than to ilicit cheap heartstring pulls.

All in all the album sucks. Don't buy it.

3/10 - content

7/10 - production

2/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

AC/DC - Who Made Who

When I first started buying CDs for myself AC/DC was one of the bands I was really into, and I bought every album I could get my hands on easily, and the cheaper the album the more likely I picked it up. Who Made Who was one of those albums, and if memory serves it was one of the first five CDs I owned from the band from down under.

This is a great introduction album, for anyone wanting to discover AC/DC. It mainly contains tracks from the Brian Johnson era of the band, but there is one from Bon Scott, and it's one of his best. There's also a few new tracks.

I was a bit stupid about this album and the movie that it was the soundtrack for, Maximum Overdrive. I was around thirteen or fourteen at the time and very excitable. I would head bang like a complete retard Butt-Head, and act like a typical Metal head spaz. I can admit my faults. Problem was music was my only outlet, but at the time that outlet involved only listening to music, and dreaming of playing it. This is not the remastered version since I've already indicated when I bought it. I will make sure that one day it is, because I really do love the mix that makes up this collection and would like to hear it with better quality.

The album starts with the title track. This song lyrically sums up the concept behind the movie Maximum Overdrive, in a round about sort of way. "Video games she play me / Face it on the level but it take you every time on a one on one / Feel it runnin' down your spine / Nothin' gonna save your one last dime / 'cause it own you / Through and through / The data bank know my number / Says I gotta pay / 'cause I made the grade last year / Feel it when I turn the screw / Kick you round the world / There ain't a thing that it can't do / Do to you, yeah / Who made who, who made you / Who made who / Ain't nobody told you / Who made who, who made you / If you made them and they made you / Who pick up the bill and who made who / Who made who / Who turned the screw / Yeah / Satellite send me picture / Get it in the eye / Take it to the wire / Spinnin' like a dynamo / Feel it goin' round and round / Runnin' outta chips / You got no line in an eight bit town / So don't look down, no". After that it just repeats variations of the line "Who made who". Musically this is an interesting track that is production based. There's always something missing from live versions of this song. However, I am a fan of this track. Which is also the first of three original tracks for this album.

Next up is the classic You Shook Me All Night Long, originally from Back In Black. If you don't know this song you should be ashamed of yourself. If there is a nudie bar that doesn't play this song at least once a night, they should be ashamed of themselves. If a night goes by when a bunch of women faux lesbians don't get it on to this song, the end of times will be upon us. This is one of those songs that just must exsist to help preserve the very fabric of reality.

D.T. is an instrumental track that I love. One of the high lights of my life was playing this song live with Matthew 'Doc' Kell and Andrew 'Drewcifir' Kell. It's like the perfect opening song, to pull in people's attention. The track itself is simple for the most part, but it's just so cool.

Sink The Pink comes from the Fly On the Wall album, which I thought was a good album. However, I'm not the biggest fan of this song. It's a bit stock for the band, and it always seemed a little filler to me.

After that comes Ride On. I consider this one of the best AC/DC songs of all time. This is the only song from the band that can be considered Holy or Gosple. I would love to have covered this song, but would have been scared shitless to commit sacralige. This is the closest AC/DC has ever come to doing a ballad, and it's just such a beautiful and simple Blues track. This song is passion.

Next up is Hells Bells, and this is another track that you should just know. I'm very happy that this is the only other track from Back In Black on here. I would have been cool with Rock And Roll Ain't noise Pollution as well, but just the two is great.

Shake Your Foundation is the second track from Fly On the Wall. This track is pretty straight ahead, but it has a great chorus to sing along to. It's a great filler for this album.

The last of the new tracks on this album is Chase the Ace. This is another track that's a great listen. Much like D.T. it's a bit of a jam around, that's an instrumental, and I think meant to be used as a sort of score for the movie, but great tracks all the same. Listening to the instrumentals on this album makes me wish that Angus and Malcom would have recorded and released a jam album. I think it would have been killer.

The last track on this album is For Those About To Rock (We Salute You). To me this song is pretty much a national anthem. I feel the people should stand up and salute during this song, right up until Brian Johnson makes his first sound, then one arm should rise in the air and the head should slowly bang. This was the perfect choice to finish this album.

If you have never owned an AC/DC album, this is a good place to start. It's a small taste of what great things this band has to offer. Chances are if you own any AC/DC you don't own half the tracks on this album, and it's still worth buying. If you are like me and own all the tracks that are originally available on other albums, this album is still worth getting. It's really a great listen. Just make sure you get the remastered version, so you get a better quality. I know I have the remaster for all the other previously available tracks.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Monday, January 14, 2013

20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Runaways

I'm a fan of the 20th Century Masters releases for the inexpensive albums, chalked full of classic songs. However, I hate that none of the tracks are remastered and in a lot of cases I find that the whole album tends to have a flattened sound.

That being said, I picked up one of The Runaways releases for my daughter for Christmas. Ashlee has had the movie for a couple years, which I have yet to watch for some odd reason, so I figured she finally should own a CD.

This 20th Century album is the first major exposure I've had to The Runaways aside from the track Cherry Bomb. It's a shame I didn't get into them earlier because they are really good, but what do you expect when you have Lita Ford and Joan Jett in the same band, which isn't to take away from those that aren't as well known. So, with the exception of rotating bassist, Cherie Currie, piano and vocals, as well as Sand West, drums and vocals, are two names you should also know.

Before I get into the songs themselves, there are a few things I feel I should cover from the get go. Almost, but not all songs, are at least written by Joan Jett. Eight out of twelve to be specific. The only other person to have close to as many writing credits is producer Kim Fowley. I'm not going to say that all these songs are stellar, but Joan is a fantastic writer.

Next I want to cover that Lita Ford is an underrated lead guitarist. I'm not saying that she's some killer, shred it like Steve Vai guitarist. She' not Tony Iommi or Angus Young either, but she deserves a nod of the head, because she can still play better than many guitarists in much more over rated bands.

Cherie Currie knows how to work the vocals in a way that makes it clear she's a real Rock vocalist, and not just some girl.

The drums on pretty much every track are steady, and are nothing special. Sandy West does exactly what a drummer needs to do and she does it well. She plays fills, but doesn't rely on it, and instead of going the fancy route opts to keep it simple. The album opens with Cherry Bomb which I've covered before. It's bad ass, full of attitude, and proof that girls can rock just as hard as guys can. The only thing that ever hurt this band was the fact they didn't have penises. Also it's nice to hear girls be just as naughty as the guys. "Hey street boy what's your style / Your dead end dreams don't make you smile / I'll give ya something to live for / Have ya, grab ya til your sore / Hello Daddy, hello Mom / I'm your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb / Hello world I'm your wild girl / I'm your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb". If only girls today had these type of balls.

After that comes the song Blackmail wich has a great bad girl attitude, and a wicked guitar line. This is a boogie woogie Blues kind of track that Lita Ford gets to rip into, like she should on a song like this. I would say this sounds like some classic Aerosmith in principle, but only if they decided to start sounding like early Motorhead.

Andria said she thought Secrets sounded a bit like Alice Cooper's No More Mister Nice Guy and I can hear it in there. It's not in the entire song, and it's not like they ripped off any riffs or anything, it just has a bit of that vibe, but I can hear other things in there too. Musically I think this song has a cool selection of diverse sounds, but over all it's not a track I'm overly fond of.

This album is devided into quarters. Every three tracks represents one of four albums. The first three come from The Runaways, released in May 1976. I'm not sure if I would pick up that album based on just the first three songs, but it may be worth it.

The next three tracks are from Queens Of Noise, released January 1977. The first song from the next three tracks is I Love Playin' With Fire, which is great. The music matches the content, and gerenal vibe of the song, and the lyrics are totally singable, especially the chorus. "I love playing with fire / And I don't wanna get burned / I love playing with fire / And I don't think I'll ever learn".

Born To Be Bad is one of those songs that's jagged, artisit and very raw. "Bodies without minds / I hear you're the one with the bleeding heart / Blue and bittersweet / You tear my dreams apart / Cause I was born to be bad / I'm not sad / And I'm glad I did it / Born to be bad / I'm not sad, why don't you all get with it / The damned don't cry / Cry out when they're betrayed / Bodies slam they scream / As the keynotes fade / Cause I was born to be bad / I'm not sad / And I'm glad I did it / Born to be bad / I'm not sad, why don't you all get with it / I called my mother from Hollywood the other day / And I said "Mom, I just called to tell ya I joined a rock and roll band / And I won't be coming home no more" / You know what she did? / She started crying and weeping and whimpering like all mothers do / She woke up my father and told him about it and he said / "There ain't a damn thing we can do, that's the way she is / Hey, you know she was just born to be bad" / I want you to bring me his ears / To satisfy my mad desires / And if he bites the dust / We'll just have to miss my fire / Cause I was born to be bad / I'm not sad / And I'm glad I did it / Born to be bad / I'm not sad, why don't you all get with it". Musically the song is either pretty and soft, like a good girl should be, or it's rough and tumble like someone born bad would be. I'm not sure if this song is for everyone, but it is pretty damn cool. I'm really fond of when Ford opens up with the solo. It sounds like she's channeling David Gilmour on Comfortably Numb, only a year before The Wall saw the light of day.

Take It Or Leave It is the weakest of the second quarter songs. It's a totally kickin' track, that bullets along with a ton of sexual tension that just gets your heart thumping. It's just that it's a bit atypical for this band. Once again Ford lays down a good solo as well. I don't care for how it's held back in the mix, but it's all good. I also like the double up on the two guitars at the very end.

Queens of Noise is the first track to cover the Live In Japan album, which was only released in Japan, Australia and Europe in 1977. The production sucks, and I would like to hunt down a studio version of this track to see if it's better. To be honest I think I would probably pick up the Queens Of Noise album, since I really dug the three songs before this. However, I have a feeling that this track whether live or not might leave me a bit on the blah side.

After that comes You Drive Me Wild, which is okay, but it's stock to me. A basic Rock track.

Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin is back to that cool boogie woogie I liked from Blackmail. I also like that Lita opens up on this live track a bit more than on the others. Of the three live tracks in the third quarter this would be the one I like best. I don't think I'd ever pick up the album these tracks come from, but this song gives me one more reason to get Queens Of Noise.

The last three tracks are the post Cherie Currie songs. The last quarter comes from the Waitin' For The Night album, which now has Joan Jett on vocals. You can tell a little, but not that much that the vocalist has changed. Jett's approach is a bit more straight foward punk, where as Cherie's had been more Rocker bad girl. If she was a guy I'd say bad boy.

Wasted is the first track and it's the music that I dig on this one. The vocals are okay, but on the whole the lyrics don't do anything for me. The music on the other hand is a huge saving grace that keeps this song from turning stock. I have the same opinion of Wait For Me.

The album finishes with Waitin' For The Night which is also the longest song on the album. It has that soft/hard, gentle/powerful style and format to it. It you took out all the soft parts this would be a pretty strong track, with some great music. Without doing that you get a song that's a decent closer on a collection. I find it a bit cheesy lyrically, but for the most part it's not a bad song.

There was one more album that this collection didn't cover and based on the last three songs on here I can predict why.

I would suggest this album as a starter if you are interested in that little taste of what The Runaways are about, and based on this album I would go looking further into this band for my own enjoyment. There are also other collections out there that may be better and worth more of a look than this collection offers.

6/10 - content

5/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Pretty Reckless - Hit Me Like A Man EP

I've already mentioned how my daughter Ashlee got me into the Pretty Reckless. I heard her play a couple of tracks on Youtube, and was impressed enough to go looking for some of their CDs for her, for Christmas. I came across three discs in my search. The first was the album Light Me Up, then there was two EPs. I opted for Hit Me Like A Man, since the title sounded so Hard Rock.

The album opens with a live version of Make Me Wanna Die. I can think of other tracks from Light Me Up I would rather have heard live, but this is really good. The energy is positive, the playing is good, and the vibe is rockin'. I can easily picture the place bopping up and down.

Then is the EP's title track. Musically it sounds pretty close to My Medicine from their full length album. But with a bit more swagger and back alley kick assery. Lyrically it's everything Good Hard Rock should be. I really would love to see this band on tour with Motorhead. "I am strong, love is evil / It's a version of perversion that is only for the lucky people / Take your time and do with me what you will / I won't mind, you know I'm ill, you know I'm ill / So hit me like a man and love me like a woman / Buried and sad, look me in the eyes, I want it / One will give you hell, one will give you heaven / Hit me like a man, love me like a woman / Love me like a woman / Love is strong, but I am evil / You are wrong, about me / Take your time, ah, play with me until / You can hear the children scream, like their stuck inside a dream / That you, ah, will / So hit me like a man, love me like a woman / Bury me alive, I can see it in your eyes, you want it / Some will give you pain, some will give you pleasure / Hit me like a man, love me like a woman / Love me like a woman / Don't you run away, run away from me, I will run away from you / Don't you run away, run away from me, I will run away from you / Hit me like a man, love me like a woman / From the devil deep inside, can't you see what I'm wanting? / Some will give you hell, some will give you heaven / So hit me like a man, love me like a woman / Love me like a woman / Love me like a woman / Love me like a woman, ow!" Also Taylor Momsen's vocal performance on this track is so kick ass. She's no Ann Wilson, but can blow most of the Pop tarts out of the water.

After only two listens I'm still on the fence about Under The Water. It reminds me a bit too much of Evenescence, but not as over produced and atypical sounding. This is one of those tracks that I think would sound better on a Pink album.

Since You're Gone (Live In London) let's me know that the band can perform just as well live as they can on the album. Once again, not one of the songs I would have wanted to hear live, but it works all the same for me.

The EP finishes with Cold Blooded. This is a mighty dark and dingy Blues track. It sounds like it just slithered out of a bar right before the next night's opening. I want to say imagine AC/DC's Night Prowler, mixed with Alice Cooper's Might As Well Be On Mars, with a little of ZZ Top's Blue Jean Blues, and then dueted.

I would have liked to have heard more new material and less live material, or at least live material that wasn't on the Light Me Up album. I should also mention that the band's other EP is a self titled album, that contains four of the better songs from the Light Me Up album.

This album is once again produced by Kato Khandwala, who also plays guitar on the studio tracks, and takes care of the programming for the live tracks. I guess that he pretty much is the band's unofficial fifth member. I will say that he does a really good job, and as time moves on his production gets better. The three studio tracks on this album sound better than the last album did. To the point of reminding me a lot of Alice Cooper's Hey Stoopid or Ozzy Osbourne's No More Tears.

Basically if it weren't for the live tracks this EP would have scored higher.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Monday, January 7, 2013

Metallica - Reload

When I attended St. Clair College of Arts and Technologies for Journalism in the late nineties I was able to experience the Metallica album boom. Load came out my last year of high school. Reload came out my first year of college. So you know I wrote a review for the album. It never saw print, but it did get a decent mark. I wish I still had a copy of the review just for comparison.

Now, I want to be very up front. Kill 'Em All and Reload are my two favourite Metallica albums. The only reason that Kill 'Em All comes first is due to it's release date. Otherwise a list of my top five albums would go: 1) Kill 'Em All, 1) Reload, 3) Master Of Puppets 3) Garage Inc. 5) LuLu.

Okay, I'm totally screwing with you on the LuLu front. I can't make up my mind about number five.

The album opens with Fuel, which is a full throttle track dedicated to the thrill of high speed hot rod action. You can hear the tires grabbing the pavement, and ripping up down the road. The white knuckle adrenaline junkie, is heard all over the music without the lyrics saying a word. Pretty much lyrically the song can be summed up with the end of the song. "Gimmie Fuel.... On I burn, on and on / Gimmie Fire.... On I burn, on and on / My Desire.... / Ohhh, On I Burn / Fuel is pumping engines / Burning hard, loose & clean / And I burn / Churning my direction / Quench my thirst with Gasoline / Gimme Fuel / Gimme Fire / Gimme that which I desire / Ooh / On I Burn!"

After that comes the Memory Remains, a song that I've had to defend more than once. The problem is that this song is not Metal, as most people think of Metal now, or did at the time of Reload's release. However, this song is Hard Rock, or what may be considered Classic Metal. Memory Remains is a song I could picture Led Zeppelin doing, or even Rainbow. I also love the Marian Faithful chanting parts in the song. I think they sound fantastic. It's even better live though, when the crowd performs that part.

Devil's Dance is one of my favourite tracks on the album. It's big, thick, heavy and oozing all kinds of darkness out of the speakers. "Yeah / I feel you too / Feel / Those things you do / In your eyes I see a fire that burns to free the you / That's wanting through / Deep inside you know, seeds I plant will grow / One day you will see / And dare to come down to me / Yeah, c'mon, c'mon, now take the chance / That's right / Let's dance / Snake / I am the snake / Tempting / That bite you take / Let me make your mind / Leave yourself behind / ...Be not afraid / I got what you need, hunger I will feed / One day you will see / And dare to come down to me / Yeah c'mon, c'mon, now take the chance / hahaa / Come dancccaa!" After that point the song moves into a slithering, snapping solo, that is pure temptation. After that the song just keeps spreading the flames of the beast. This is a Black Sabbathesque track. Once of those tracks that shows Metallica's roots well.

I'll never forget how much bullshit and trash talking I had to listen to when Unforgiven II came out. For starters there was the, "Why did they need to make a two?" Then there was the, "It sounds country" Plus a whole host of complaints and issues that I think are complete bullshit. I actually prefer this version to the original. I like the feel, texture, spirit, and musicianship to this track. It's much thicker and fuller sounding, and James sounds much more passionate. This song has a lot of heart.

I think at this point I should mention that I think the production on this album is amazing. It doesn't sound over produced, you can picture Metallica being able to perform almost all of the tracks live, as it sounds on the album, and most importantly everything sounds clear and balanced. Bob Rock is a fantastic producer, and this album is one of his master pieces as far as I'm concerned. What you hear with headphones, is the same as what you hear roaring out of the stereo speakers. It's the perfect Hard Rock album production.

Better Than You is the first track on the album that might be considered filler. It's a fantastic track that I constantly enjoy, but it's a bit typical, or "stock" as Lars might say. If you are more than just a casual listener you can hear the experimentation of styles and concepts that are buried in the music. Lyrically, the title covers it all.

I know people that would argue that Slither is also filler like, but I think those people are morons. This is one of those few tracks where you can hear and feel a vibe of The Doors. The first thing about this song I really like is that it starts off with the chorus, and then moves into the verse. There's a complete topsy turvey twisted and interetwining element to this track. It's like a cluster of snakes all moving within itself.

"Hit dirt, shake tree / Split sky, part sea / Strip smile, lose cool / Bleed the day and break the rule / Live to win, dare to fail / Eat the dirt and bite the nail / Then make me miss you / Then make me miss you / So wash your face away with dirt / It don't feel good until it hurts / So take this world and shake it / Come squeeze and suck the day / Come carpe diem baby / Draw lead, piss wine / Sink teeth, all mine / Stoke fire, break neck / Suffer through this, cheat on death / Hug the curve, lose the time / Tear the map and shoot the sign / Then make me miss you / ou yeah / Then make me miss you / So wash your face away with dirt / It don't feel good until it hurts / So take this world and shake it / Come squeeze and suck the day / Come carpe diem baby / Yeah suck it!!!" At this point Carpe Diem Baby goes from sounding like Bob Dylan rockin' out with Hulk like gamma rage, to Metallica getting all swaggery and almost teasingly taunting. Then it's back to more poetic verses. "Live to win, dare to fail / Eat dirt, bite the nail / Strip smile, lose cool / Bleed the day and break the rule / Hug the curve, loose the time / Tear the map and shoot the sign / Then make me miss you / Come on, come on / Then make me miss you / So wash your face away with dirt / It don't feel good until it hurts / So take this world and shake it / Come squeeze and suck the day / Come make me miss you / Come carpe diem baby." This is one of those songs that has such a Country/Blues undertone that it could never be considered real Metal. But it is some bad ass Hard Rock.

Bad Seed is 4:05 of riffing, grooving, and moving. You can almost hear James holding out his middle finger at Lars the whole time he's singing the song. I don't think that's what was going on, but you can easily picture it. The only turn off to this song is the background vocals, which sound a little too Grunge/Alternative for me, but they fit the song very well.

I find it amazing how of all the songs for Jason Newstead to have a writing credit on it's Where The Wild Things Are. That was my view at the time this album came out anyway. After hearing music Jason has done since leaving Metallica it makes total sense. This is by far the second most unique song on this album. This is one of those tracks that anyone that is only half ass listening would instantly dislike. It's textured, layered, and has a dynamic that doesn't corrispond to almost any other standard to which Metallica can be held. This is one of the reasons I totally dig the song.

When I think about Reload I think of it as an album of thirds. The first third is made up of the first four tracks, Fuel to Unfogiven II. These would be the radio tracks for the most part. These are the freindly tracks that everyone will probably listen to.

The middle third ends with Where The Wild Things Are. I consider that the filler/experiemntal section. I only think filler because of the songs not having any type of commercial appeal, or real fan following. No one says Bad Seed or Carpe Diem Baby are their favourite songs. On the other hand, no one trash talks them really either.

The last third of the album is made up of shredding bad assery. In fact if it weren't for one track, which I will get to, the last third could be considered the Metal third.

Prince Charming is one of those tracks that I love. It's a bit typical, and has a slightly dated style, but the guitar work is great to listen to. It's just all flair, style, and raw power. This is one of those tracks that uses an almost Joe Perry like techinique, when Kirk Hammett isn't shredding his heart out. It's one of my favourites when I let the album play out.

Low Man's Lyric, the most unique and artistic song on this album. I love this track and will defend it to the end. It's 7:37 of pure brutal honesty. Musically it's just so moving. Lyrically this track is a story, which is something that Metallica normally tends to shy from, and shouldn't. "My eyes seek reality / My fingers seek my veins / There's a dog at your back step / He must come in from the rain / I fall cause I let go / The let me low has right of way / So my eyes seek reality / And my fingers seek my veins / The trash fire is warm / But nowhere safe from the storm / And I can't bear to see / What I've let me be / So wicked and worn / So as I write to you / Of what is done and to do / Maybe you'll understand / And won't cry for this man / cause low man is due / Please forgive me / My eyes seek reality / My fingers feel for faith / Touch clean with a dirty hand / I touch the clean to the waste / The trash fire is warm / But nowhere safe from the storm / And I can't bear to see / What I've let me be / So wicked and worn / So as I write to you / Of what is done and to do / Maybe you'll understand / and won't cry for this man / cause low man is due / Please forgive me / Please forgive me / Please forgive me / So low the sky is all I see / All I want from you is forgive me / So you bring this poor dog in from the rain / Though he just wants right back out again / And I cry, to the alleyway / Confess all to the rain / But I lie, lie straight to the mirror / The one I've broken, to match my face / The trash fire is warm / But nowhere safe from the storm / And I can't bear to see / What I've let me be / So wicked and worn / So as I write to you / Of what is done and to do / Maybe you'll understand / And won't cry for this man / cause low man is due / Please forgive me / Please forgive me / So low the sky is all I see / All I want from you is forgive me / So you bring this poor dog in from the rain / Though he just wants right back out again / My eyes seek reality / My fingers seek my veins". I think it's the length of of time James spends rubbing our noses in the sick destitution of being the low man that turns most people off this track. That and the completely different musical style. I on the other hand welcome it.

Then it's on to a song that describes itself perfectly. Attitude is a song that Drew (my brother from another mother) and I should have, and could have written at the same time this album came out. It's raw anger and energy bouncing off the walls waiting to be unleashed. This is one of those tracks that you could picture being used in a million Hollywood shoot out scenes if Metallica let Hollywood have access to their music.

Everytime I hear Lars take a cheap shot at Fixxxer I want to punch him in the face. The problem is this is one of those tracks where he's little more than a metronome (which describes his drumming more than half the time), and it's slower than his factory prebuilt double bass drum at 140 tempo is use to. This is a song that builds, grows, and blossoms into an epic beast. Kirk's guitar work is fantastic and the instrumentation on this track is top notch. This is my favourite song on the album, and it's the perfect way to close it all off. I also find a lot of personal meaning within the lyrics, but those are a pale second to when the music starts to really take front stage around the four minute marker. Then when Kirk opens up his solo at the five minute marker leading into the heavy rhythm jam out around 5:30, before Kirk starts bouncing back and forth with James for almost a minute. Then the lyrics continue softly before the song explodes into a rage of musical expression. This is one of those types of songs I live for.

Between the excellent production, which I find spellbinding, the passion or the musicianship, and the emotional depth, pre therapy, of the lyrics this album grabs me in ways that I find escape many Metalheads, which is why I think so many people look down on this album. However, this album is everything I love from a classic Hard Rock album. This is an album that reminds me of Led Zeppelin's Physical Graffitti or Black Sabbath's Masters of Reality.

I would suggest this album to any serious collector of music.

9/10 - content

10/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Friday, January 4, 2013

Jefferson Airplane - The Best Of - Somebody To Love

I originally picked up this album just as a quick little gift for my daughter for the Christmas that just passed. One of those, "You should know the classics," kind of thing. She may read this article so I won't get into specifics about costs and what not. I will say that I feel I got my money's worth at least.

The album kicks off with Somebody To Love, which is one of the few Jefferson Airplane songs I clearly knew before listening to this album the first time. This is one of my favourite songs, and if you don't know this song you should go learn it.

The other song I knew is second on the track list. White Rabbit, is one of those songs that I've never done enough drugs while listening to it, to truly appreciate it. However, any song that involves Alice In Wonderland, even in it's limited degree, is cool with me.

I had no clue that Jefferson Airplane had a male vocalist, so when I first heard Come Up The Years and Today, I was totally confused. I was also a bit put off by the fact that one song seemed to flow into the other so effortlessly that I didn't notice the change. Both tracks are very much flower power, and have the Folk loving spirit.

This is followed up by a cover of The Kingston Trio's Let's Get Together. I don't like this one as much as other versions I've heard. I do like the trippy, softer than Iron Butterfly, but still creepily performed style.

I had no clue that Comin' Back To Me was Jefferson Airplane. I have loved this song for as long as I can remember. I don't have the faintest clue where I first heard it, or when, all I know is when this song first came on the stereo Christmas morning I pretty much messed my pants. The song is folk sounding, but it is so dark and ominous feeling. This is one of those songs I'm sure inspired Peter Steele of Type O Negative. "The summer had inhaled and held its breath too long / The winter looked the same, as if it never had gone / And through an open window where no curtain hung / I saw you, I saw you, comin' back to me / One begins to read between the pages of a look / The shape of sleepy music, and suddenly you're hooked / Through the rain upon the trees, that kisses on the run / I saw you, I saw you, comin' back to me / You can't stay and live my way / Scatter my love like leaves in the wind / You always say you won't go away / But I know what it always has been, it always has been / A transparent dream beneath an occasional sigh / Most of the time I just let it go by / Now I wish it hadn't begun / I saw you, yes I saw you, comin' back to me / Strolling the hills overlooking the shore / I realize I've been here before / The shadow in the mist could have been anyone / I saw you, I saw you, comin' back to me / Small things like reasons are put in a jar / Whatever happened to wishes wished on a star? / Was it just something that I made up for fun? / I saw you, I saw you, comin' back to me".

The House At Pooneil Corners is a bad trip. This song is meant to fuck you up, especially if you are already fucked. It's wild, crazy, and totally everything that the late Sixties Psychedelic movement was all about. Almost to the point I want to say there is something wrong with this song. The secret to this song is Acid. Either too much or too little, not sure which.

I'm not sure what to make of Young Girl Sunday Blues. I think what messes up this song the most for me is the sound quailty. Sadly none of this album has been digitally remastered. It pretty much sounds like they took the master tapes (if they even had those) and threw them on CD. It's a decent track, it just doesn't do much for me.

I like the classical sound of Lather. It sounds like a merry old tale of yore. Actually this track makes me think very heavily of Jethro Tull.

The album finishes with Third Week In The Chelsea, which is pretty much about the end of Jefferson Airplane as seen through the eyes of Jorma Kaukonen while staying at the famous Chelsea hotel in New York City.

The biggest problem I have with this album is the sound quality, it kills most of the production, and takes away from the overall sound. I wish it had been remastered. After that, it's a matter of not taking enough drugs to enjoy the album like it was meant to be.

Other than that, this is a decent enough album, if not entirely my thing.

7/10 - content

5/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Iron Maiden - Somewhere In Time

For Christmas this year I picked up a bunch of CDs for myself and my kids, some of which were on behalf of my Grandma (dad's mom). Which means my son can now say that his Great-Grandma bought him his first Iron Maiden album. He knows who actually picked it up, but it sounds cooler the other way.

Now when it comes to Christmas shopping, especially for music, I try not to buy the children albums I already own. I like them to have their own music. When they move out they can ask me to buy them albums I own and they miss, much like I'll have to do with some of theirs. This is why my son's first Iron Maiden album is Somewhere In Time.

I spent a lot of time debating over this album, or Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. The only reason this album won out, was due to my personal bias. Adrian Smith wrote three of the tracks on this album himself, including one of my all time favourites. He only co-wrote the same number of tracks on Seventh Son.

The album opens with the sort of title track, Caught Somewhere In Time. This is your pretty typical Maiden track. Steve Harris gallops, Dave Murray and Adrian Smith guitar duel, Nick McBrain plays at rapid pace, and Bruce Dickinson does that thing he does so well. The chorus, which is the song's title sung over and over, is rather catchy, and musically the song is completely solid. Also, only Iron Maiden can succesfully kick off an album with a song that clocks in at 7:26.

The second track on this album is one of my favourite Maiden songs. Wasted Years is one of Adrian Smith's babies, and it's so amazing. The opening guitar riff, which is smoking, is one hell of a lead in to a song, that is very Maiden, but without the Steve Harris effect. This is one of the songs that doesn't gallop, but instead just speeds/soars away. Then there's all the texturing and blazing fast repeat of the main riff, before they finally break into the solo. This song is pretty much a wet dream for me, as far as the music goes. Lyrically, it's your standard song about reflecting on the time passing by, but I like singing this one.

After that comes Sea Of Madness, which is pretty much the same continued orgasmic music as the last track, but not quite as good. This song sounds a little more typical of the time in which it was released. The extremely wicked guitar shredding and bass (still not galloping) ripping during most of the instrumental sections is top notch playing and excitement. The vocal parts aren't as musically exciting for the most part.

Heaven Can Wait is not a favourite of mine. I respect the hell out of the song, and I love it live, but in the grand scheme of things, it's not a Maiden song that I have to listen to. That being said I don't ever feel a need to skip it either.

The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner, is one of those songs that I wouldn't bother with if the CD wasn't in the player. Musically it's decent enough, but nothing special. This is one of those tracks that are more filler than anything else to me. Just for the record I don't think anyone could do a successful song about running. I think the snare drum should have been turned down a bit as well.

Next up is the last Smith song for the album. Stranger In A Strange Land is sexy sounding musically. It struts and demands attention. Lyrically I find it very intriguing. "Was many years ago that I left home and came this way / I was a young man, full of hopes and dreams / But now it seems to me that all is lost and nothing gained / Sometimes things ain't what they seem / No brave new world, no brave new world / No brave new world, no brave new world / Night and day I scan horizon, sea and sky / My spirit wanders endlessly / Until the day will dawn and friends from home discover why / Hear me calling, rescue me / Set me free, set me free / Lost in this place and leave no trace / Stranger in a strange land / Land of ice and snow / Trapped inside this prison / Lost and far from home / One hundred years have gone and men again they came that way / To find the answer to the mystery / They found his body lying where it fell on that day / Preserved in time for all to see / No brave new world, no brave new world / Lost in this place and leave no trace / What became of the man that started / All are gone and their souls departed / Left me here in this place / So all alone". After that it gets repetitive with the chorus and pre chorus. But that's not a complaint. There's some really great musical work in between, and it's a great listen. This is probably my third favourite song from this album. Cleary my favourite is Wasted Years, and the second one finishes off the album.

De Ja Vu is a really interesting musically. You can hear the sound experimentalism the band is going to use more on the next album, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son. Lyrically it's a pretty standard affair. Still, I have to give my props to this track. I find it impressive.

The album finishes with Alexander The Great, which is an 8:36 account of the ancient Macedon ruler. If you like Iron Maiden epic songs, than you should enjoy this one. I'm even able to overlook and enjoy the synth work on this song. I like the fact that this song takes me somewhere musically. In some cases it feels more like a soundtrack score than an actual piece of Heavy Metal music.

I actually find it interesting how much I dig this album now. When I first heard it in my teens, I found it a bit overly complex, for the sake of musical masterbation. Now a days I don't feel that way at all. I think a lot of my problem back in the day, was a bias against the Power Metal feel and vibe to the album. Where as now, I find it much better than Power Metal, and feel like I originally insulted the album lumping it in with the that particular genre.

My biggest complaint about this album is the volume level of the drums. I found the snare drum a bit too loud in most of the mix, and the drums sound to centred to me, while the rest of the instruments have a more expanded sound, which in some cases has the guitars sounding too distant, or quiet.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias