Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Funkadelic - Maggot Brain

I just bought this album, for the first time. I've heard some Funk over the years, and I like it. The thing is I never got around to buying any. I finally just said screw it and picked up an album to discover for myself.

Without doing any research, I went out and grabbed Funkadelic's Maggot Brain. Why, you may ask. Well, let me tell you. I could not remember the name of Funkadelic's other related band Parliament at the time, and how can you go wrong with an album called Maggot Brain.

I then sit down and throw the album on for the first time, and my mind gets blown. How did I not know about this album? It's awesome. I mean this is some mind blowing discovery. There's a sense of exploration, a groove to help you get your boogie on, and guitar work that will make you stand up and take notice.

The album opens up with the title track, Maggot Brain.The first thing that caught my eye with 10:18 of instrumental beauty was how much the main melody sounded like an instrumental piece my buddy Matt and I wrote together well over a decade ago. I can also asure you that neither of us had listened to this album at that point. But it doesn't stop there, because I could see Matt busting out the solo that's over top of the melody as well. It's one of those universal constants as far as music goes I guess. A part of the main nerve some might think.

Then somewhere in the middle of the song it slowly starts to morph into little different, and quiet creatures, before coming back and turning into that roaring guitar beast yet again. This is some of the best exploritory music I've heard in a while. It figures it had to be hidden on an album released years before my birth, and out of my knowledge for over twenty years of my own musical listening.

It doesn't matter what song follows the album's title track, it's going to seem totally lame in comparison. That is the only reason I don't overly care for Can You Get To That. While this is a fun little track, it's also a cheap pop song, that's meant to be a little radio friendly, and help get the band some easy play. Over all it's a bit of a stock Motown like song. It sounds like something you might hear from The Jackson 5, or The Four Seasons, or maybe even Marvin Gaye if he was having a take it easy kind of day.

If you wanna get your groove on then you need Hit It And Quit It. This track picks the album right back up, but this time it's the organ that get's all the kick ass soloing, and that's perfectly okay with me. I love a great organ sound, especially when someone knows how to play it. Then it finishes with a bitchin' solo at the end as well. Yeah that's right, I said bitchin' solo.

You And Your Folks, Me And My Folks has a great back and forth, duet sort of thing. Maybe it would be better described as a great lead vocalist and background vocalist vocal repartee. I've cut out all the "Yeah, yeah, Yeah" repeating parts, because they pretty much go through out the song. "If you and your folks love me and my folks like / Me and my folks love you and your folks / If there ever was folks / That ever ever was poor / If you and your thing dig me and my thing / Like me and my thing dig you and your thing / And we all got a thing / Yeah, and it's a very good thing / Ha! But if in our fears, we don't learn to trust each other / And if in our tears, we don't learn to share with your brother / You know that hate is gonna keep on multiplying / And you know that man is gonna keep right on dying / Yeah / Yeah, yeah / The rich got a big piece of this and that / The poor got a big piece of roaches and rats / Can you get to that / Tell me where it's at / Yeah! / Hey! / You want peace / I want peace / They want peace / And the kids need peace / There won't be no peace / The rich got a big piece of this and that / The poor got a big piece of roaches and rats / Can you get to that / Tell me where it's at / If you and your folks loved me and my folks / Like me and my folks love you and your folks / If there ever was folks / That ever ever was poor / If you and your thing dig me and my thing / Like me and my thing dig you and your thing / Then we all got a thing / And it's a very good thing". Then there some more yeahs and the song finishes out. It's very enjoyable to listen to.

Super Stupid, is once again an example of guitar genius. Total Mind blowing awesomeness. I think today guitarists should really pick up this if they want to hear and learn great Hard Rock, or Heavy Metal guitar. It's like Hendrix, meets Van Halen, meets Nugent, but even better still.

Back In Our Minds is a goofy kind of song, with it's odd instrumentation, and weird overall tone. It works in that experimental sort of way, but overall not a song I would go out of my way to listen to.

The original album ends with Wars Of Armageddon, which is 9:43 of sound scape and awesome music. This is one bad ass Funk jam, with a wicked solo blazing through the center. This song it just complete insanity with wild craziness. It's a thought provoking pleasure, that explodes in the end.

With the song Whole Lot Of BS it's easy to see why this is a bonus track on here, and wasn't released on an album. It's okay, but not anything of significance.

You can hear a real Motown Inspiration on I Miss My Baby. I could see many people loving it. It's not my thing. Too much of a typical sappy song. I get it, but I don't feel a need to hear it.

Maggot Brain (Alt Mix) is the same Maggot Brain as before except that the original album mix had the entire band turned down in the mix, so all you mainly heard was this kick ass guitar. Now you hear the rest of the band, and it really doesn't add anything. In some cases I find the other instruments a bit distracting and it's easy to see why George Clinton pulled them down in the mix for the album.

There are two ways to look at this album. One includes the bonus tracks, and the other does not. I choose to look at this album as the seven original tracks, and ignore the three bonus tracks. They are cool for the hardcore fans, and I will admit I do like being able to hear the two different versions of Maggot Brain for comparison, and may even try some audio experiments of my own on the two tracks for further in depth exploration in the future, but in the meantime it's the original album that we care about here. My scoring is based on that, and that alone. If I were to include the bonus tracks it would hurt the content score a bit.

9/10 - content

8/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Friday, April 26, 2013

John 5 - God Told Me To

Steve Vai has always been my go to guy for best of the wild guitarists. The guitarists that release solo CDs, not so they can sing, but so their guitar can. Well, I think Steve has been replaced now. John 5 has blown my mind something fierce.

I picked up God Told Me To, because I had a choice between two CDs and neither of which contained the only track I knew from him, which is Black Widow of La Porte. So, this album was a bit of a gamble and it paid off so hard.

One of the biggest reasons I'm switching from team Vai to team 5 is because of the diversity. Steve Vai pretty much has two modes to most of his songs. They are either slow and have a Jazz like feel to them, or are all bad ass with shredding. Of course I'm generalizing a bit, but compared to what I hear on this album, it's a fair way to describe it. The variety of John 5's music is fantastic. He let's you hear all of his influences, and there are a lot.

Let me explain it this way. The man does a cover of Micheal Jackson's Beat It, doesn't have a single note sung, and blows the song out of the water while sticking faithfully to the original music, and that's the lamest song on the entire album. An album that contains some kick ass cowboy riffing, and full metal shredding.

I can not stress enough how much this album needs to be in any serious music lovers collection, but I will try. I'm telling you that you must have this album, and you will not be sorry that you bought it.

Welcome To Violence is the only song on this entire album that has any form of vocals on it, and it's pretty much just a woman's voice (at least it sounds female). She's saying/telling/softly cooing "Play it again. Play it again my Johnny." It's a great way to open an album, but I think it's probably one of the weaker tracks on the album. It's so typically Metal.

This is followed up by one hell of a surprise. Beat It done completely instrumental, with John 5's guitar handling both the vocals and the guitar lines.

I know that John 5 shows his Country/Southern side of Asland Bump, where he delivers an accoustic performance that would have the hard old school country fans tapping their foot right along with any intelligent Metalhead that knows music.

Killafornia is epic sounding and wickedly awesome. This is like a giant movie score, and a very sweet treat to the ears. The Castle sees John back on the accoustic. This time he's delivering such a blistering performance that your mind should be blown. But this song is a lot more than just an accoustic shred, it's a multi faceted, intricately woven, tapestry of pure audio pleasure.

The Hill Of The Seven Jackals is pretty much a basic Metal shred song. This is like listening to a Steve Vai or Joe Satriani track from the early to mid nineties, but a tad bit more modern Metal sounding. It's probably the most stock song on the album, and it still is pure guitarist masterbation. I mean this is the height of Metal ecstacy. Let me put it this way. If the first track and this track are the worst this album has to offer then you will get a hell of a lot more than your money's worth out of this album.

Noche Acosador is another shining example of John 5's accoustic prowess. This Spanish influenced number not only has the notes dancing in your ears with pure delight, but it gives you the amazing chance to hear one of Metal's best modern guitarists busting out a song that you can dance to with such passion that it would make Antonio Bandereas in Desperado seem like a stumbling amateur.

Then it's back to real Heavy Metal for The Lust Killer. This is big, deep, thunderous Metal, with full shredding guitar harmonizing over top. It's not just shredding for the sake of shredding either. This guitar sings a story the likes of which could only be conveyed by Wagner writing the Gates of Hell opening. That's not the story I take from the instrumentation, it's just an idea of the essence of the sound.

The Lie You Live is pretty, and beautiful, and moving, and everything you'd want to hear in a song where emotion is clearly everything. Does that make this a slow, and soft song, devoid of any great technique? Oh, hell no. The tapping being done on this track is through the roof. Some might mistake it for Buckethead even. At least the untrained listener might. Some might mistake it for keyboards as well, but instead it's pure guitar skill you are hearing there.

Creepy Crawler finishes off the album completely differently than you would expect from a song with it's title. You would believe that it's about a gross disgusting spider and would be all scary sounding in the music. Now instead picture a spider carefully and peacefully designing it's web in some old barn loft with rays of sunshine cutting through the gaps in the wood to light it perfectly. That's what I hear in this song. Nature creating delicate beauty with fine fibers, woven with precision artistry.

This is my first John 5 album, but it will not be my last. I have a feeling I'm going to become a huge fan of this guitarist, and not just because he's played on some awesome Marylin Manson and Rob Zombie songs, but because his own material is so incredible on it's own.

9/10 - content

8/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Rob Zombie - Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor

Do you like Rob Zombie? Do you like a blend of boot stomping Heavy Metal, and labido pumping Rock N' Roll? Then you should like Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor, because this is a Rob Zombie album through and through.

This album contains numerous tracks that fit into one of the two catagories. The songs are either Metal or Rock, and either way are all heavy.

The thing about Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor is that it's a little more back to the basics. The last couple of albums had general themes to the instrumentation. Educated Horses, for example, was a pure Hard Rock album, that was like listening to a band out of the seventies with modern production. Hellbilly Deluxe II, on the other hand, had a heavy Surf Rock edge to it. I find that if I were to compare this to another Zombie album, the first one that would come to mind would be Sinister Urge.

If I were to have picked the opening track for this album it wouldn't have been Teenage Nosferatu Pussy. This is a very typical sounding Rob Zombie song. Hell, it's a pretty standard White Zombie song. Still good, still rockin', but just a little stock for this Horror master.

Dead City Radio And The New Gods Of Supertown was the single that Mr. Zombie decided to release on the internet. At first listen I was like this is pretty decent. It's a great Modern Rock song. After repeat listenings, this song just makes me want to rock that much more. Personally I would have started the album with this one. This song is going to be a new live hit and standard that the crowds will be listening to for years.

One thing I've gotten used to over the years is how Rob slowly phased out his industrial sounds, with the exception of the voice samplesl. But it's right front and centre at the beginning of Revelation Revolution. I'm not going to bitch about it either. It works as a lead in to this song, which is not an industrial song.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I'm a sucker for sitar, or sitar sounding guitar work, which means I instantly fell in love with Theme For The Rat Vendor. A nice short little instrumental piece that's awesome.

Once you wrap your mind around Ging Gang Gong De Do Gong De Laga Raga as a song title, you can get into the song that this is. Which is a kick ass heavy rock song that's clearly influenced by hits from the sixties that weren't afraid to use incoherent words or mono-syllable strings to convey emotion and rhythmic strings of their own.

Rock And Roll (In A Black Hole) is funky and fun, lyrically there really isn't much to this song, but that's the point. ' "(Glorious creatures of our future, to be induced by genetic manipulation) / A number one said he wins fight / A number two said "It's a Saturday night" / A number three said "Come look at the whore" / A number four said "Please, give me some more" / You gotta, gotta open your mind, girl / You gotta, gotta open your mind, girl / You gotta, gotta open your mind, girl / You gotta, gotta open your mind, girl / A number five said he Captain Kirk / A number six said "I want to hurt you, jerk" / A number seven said "I'm Peeping Tom" / A number eight said "Let's drop the bomb" / (You may think you're normal, but you are all product of mutation. / You may think you're normal, but you are all product of mutation.) / We're all dancing in a black hole / When all we wanna do is rock and roll / We're all dancing in a black hole / When all we wanna do is rock and roll / We're all dancing in a black hole / When all we wanna do is rock and roll / We're all dancing in a black hole / When all we wanna do is rock and roll / A number one said "Let's get this right" / A number two said "You're outta sight" / A number three said "Go wipe down the door" / A number four said "Hey, this is war" / You gotta, gotta open your mind, girl / You gotta, gotta open your mind, girl / You gotta, gotta open your mind, girl / You gotta, gotta open your mind, girl / A number five said he Captain Kirk / A number six said "I gotta get to work" / A number seven said "Go fuck the prom" / A number eight said "Hey, cherry bomb" '. Then it just repeats the chorus a couple of more time.

Behold, The Pretty Filthy Creatures! is a pretty typical Zombie song. Really awesome to listen to all the same.

I'm not sure how I feel about White Trash Freaks, but mainly because I'm not sure if this song is celebrating or condemning the white trash behaviour. The music makes it sound like a celebration, but the lyrics are more like a condemnation of those with a lesser etiquette.

I'm going to be honest with you. The first time I listened to this CD it was only eleven in the morning at the latest. I was bopping my head with the heavy tunes, but really I was just waiting. When I saw that Rob Zombie was doing We're An American Band on this album I was so psyched. I love the original, and Zombie does awesome covers. When the song starts up I'm like, "Cool intro." Then the song gets going and somewhere between eleven and noon, my head was banging, my fist was pumping, and my insides were screaming, "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Thank you Rob.

Lucifer Rining is total White Zombie Thunderkiss '65 to me. Does this song actually sound like that? Well sort of. It's an okay song, but probably the one I care the least for on this album. It's the one stock like song on the album I don't have a use for.

The Girl Who Loved The Monsters is pure Heavy Metal. It's big, bad, and scary as hell to those that can't cope with the monters.

Trade In Your Guns For A Coffin is really a good way to close the album. This is a party song that will have the ladies shaking their booties in house parties, Go-Go dancing in Goth bars, and flailing their hair in classic full metal windmills during a concert. This is just a great happy feeling closer. Different compared to most Rob Zombie albums and that's cool with me.

Like I said this is a Rob Zombie album, and there are some tracks on here that will be on my CD player for years, as part of my own make shift greatest hits, and other tracks that I consider album fillers, just because they are the same old Rob Zombie tracks. Still awesome, but typical for him.

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

David Bowie - The Next Day

This is the first Bowie album I have bought in years. Not because of dislike for anything that Bowie was releasing, but because life happened and forced me to be more selective about what I bought. This is also the first album released after the seventies, that isn't a best of package, that I've bought. There are a few albums from the nineties that peaked my interest I wouldn't mind checking out, but I figured since this was brand new I'd grab it.

I am really glad that I did. It's like taking the best parts of all of David Bowie's phases and mixing them into one great album. An album that is totally worth buying.

The song The Next Day kicks of the album with a bounce in the musical step, and a little extra boogie for good measure. The title track is a prime example of what makes Bowie so enjoyable, after forty- some-odd years. While the tone can be compared to other earlier albums by this artistic mastermind, it's still it's own piece of audio dessert for the mind.

After that comes Dirty Boys which is a cool contrast to the lead off song. This one has a different sound all together. The music is slinky, a little creepy, and has a much darker edge. I really love the vibe set by the guitar, but it's the sax that really drives this song home.

The Stars (Are Out Tonight) is a positive and uplifting number. I know that lyrically it could be conceived as a somewhat sadder song, and I would allow for those arguments. "Stars are never sleeping / Dead ones and the living / We live closer to the earth / Never to the heavens / The stars are never far away / Stars are out tonight / They watch us from behind their shades / Brigitte, Jack and Kate and Brad / From behind their tinted window stretch / Gleaming like blackened sunshine / Stars are never sleeping / Dead ones and the living / Waiting for the first move / Satyrs and their child wives / Waiting for the last move / Soaking up our primitive world / Stars are never sleeping / Dead ones and the living / Their jealousy's spilling down / The stars must stick together / We will never be rid of these stars / But I hope they live forever / And they know just what we do / That we toss and turn at night / They're waiting to make their moves / But the stars are out tonight / Here they are upon the stairs / Sexless and unaroused / They are the stars, they're dying for you / But I hope they live forever / They burn you with their radiant smiles / Trap you with their beautiful eyes / They're broke and shamed or drunk or scared / But I hope they live forever / Their jealousy's spilling down / The stars must stick together / We will never be rid of these stars / But I hope they live forever / And they know just what we do / That we toss and turn at night / They're waiting to make their moves on us / The stars are out tonight / The stars are out tonight / The stars are out tonight " It's just one of those songs that's well written that way.

Love Is Lost is one of those songs that reminds me that it's important to let the music flow and just envelop the song. It's more than just lyrics. Which I find happens too much now a days. The worst part is that many of the lyrics now a days are just the same dribble over and over, without the music to back it up. This song has both the music and the lyrics. "It's the darkest hour, you're 22 / The voice of youth, the hour of dread / It's the darkest hour, and your voice is new / Love is lost, and lost is love / Your country's new, your friends are new / Your house, and even your eyes are new / Your maid is new, and your accent, too / But your fear is as old as the world / Say goodbye to the thrills of life / When love was good, when love was bad / Wave goodbye to the life without pain / Say hello, your beautiful girl / Say hello to the greater men / Tell them your secrets they're like the grave / Oh what you have done, oh what you have done / Love is lost, lost is love / You know so much, it's making me cry / You refuse to talk, but you think like mad / You've cut out your zone and the things have fold / Oh what have you done, oh what have you done / Oh what have you done, oh what have you done".

Where Are We Now? was the first track I heard from this CD. I saw the video in my facebook feed and instantly fell in love. There's just such a sweet and beautifully romantic feel, that only Bowie can deliver. I mean this is one of those songs that will be on my Mp3 player, so I can close my eyes and imagine slow dancing with a certain Editor much like I do with Life On Mars?

Valentine's Day doesn't sound like one might expect, with a title like that. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this song. Musically, it's a bit typical of the more token Bowie classics. This song is more about the lyrics, and the story that Bowie is telling about the person Valentine.

Every album has to have that one song that only the hardest of hardcore fans would defend. If You Can See Me is completely insane, true experimental madness, full of artistic expression, that gets annoying as hell after a bit. This is one of those songs I'd skip if near the remote or CD player itself, but I'm willing to bet one of the four people in my house will like it. One thing you notice by I'd Rather Be High is that none of the songs sound the same. I mean sure the production gives a similar vibe to the upbeat songs, but if you are paying attention to the music, it is constantly unique. I love that Bowie didn't just release some stock album, but that he took the time to actually release a new album with new material.

That being said I find Boss Of Me a bit stockish at this point in the album, but still really interesting. It's the production tone I mentioned in the last paragraph that I'm talking about here. Musically, it's different from the rest of the album, but it contains a structure and formula mixed with the sound that makes it blend a bit. On the other hand it could just be that I think it's stock sounding, because compared to many of the other tracks this one doesn't contain the same flair or spark of interest.

So next up, I read the title Dancing out In Space, and boy that was not what I expected. I was thinking maybe something a little more cosmic sounding. Let's be honest I was envisioning Space Oddity or something along those lines. Instead I get a basic little Rock number that's fun and enjoyable. Sadly, nothing overly interesting though.

How Does The Grass Grow is really interesting. It sort of reminds me of The Muppet Show, but at the same time I can see Bowie up in a big lofty attic, banging this one out with the ghosts of his past. Banging is a good word to when you listen to the way everything is played, eventhough it's played well. Then there's the change over, and all of a sudden it's almost a whole new song. Let me put it this way, this song may have been from the mysterious Labrynth II. (Just so we are clear that's a not a real thing to my knowledge.)

(You Will) Set The World On Fire is one of those songs that reminds you that if Bowie wants to get loud and heavy he can. I mean he let's the instrument just rip it out and give it hard, while pulling the thunder back in the chorus, it's explosive and beautiful. I totally love this song, not as much as the previous track on the whole, but just as much in a different style context. If I were currently playing in a band, doing the local bar scene, I'd be adding this to the set list post haste.

You Feel So Lonely You Could Die slows down the album drastically. I'm not overly fond of this track. It's okay, but a bit basic. I think the biggest problem this song suffers from is coming right after such a kickin' track as the last couple of songs. Heat closes the official album. This song has a natural ambience that makes it sound like a couple of other tracks from this album, but in a good way. It makes it a fantastic finish to the album. Not through being a great musical masterpiece, but by a song that sort of sums up the album for the closing.

Being the person that I am, given the choice between an album with or without bonus tracks, I opted for the copy with the bonus tracks. I'm glad I did, but I see why these songs didn't make the official album.

I don't pay much attention to So She. It's a bit Beatles, and that's totally cool, but it doesn't really grab me.

Plan has me taking some notice, mainly because it's an instrumental piece. It's not an over the top orchestrated piece, just a simple song that would make for a great break between songs. A music scape to set the mood.

I'll Take You There is the last of the bonus tracks, and it's a great upbeat close to the entire album. As fun as this song is, it would have sounded too repetitive on the official album. It's sort of like The Next Day and (You Will) Set The World On Fire mixed up into one. If it were not a bonus track and part of the official album I'd possibly rate the album a little lower. As it goes with this album, I am impressed. I find it interesting the approach taken by David Bowie and Tony Visconti in the production. The sound reminds me of early to mid eighties Bowie, but musically this album is far superior to anything being released back then. The music is a very important part of this album, and that should not be taken lightly.

If you like David Bowie you need to own this album. If you like good, well written, and brilliantly arranged music, then you should also get this album.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Ramones - We're Outta Here

We're Outta Here was the very first Ramones album I bought. It was actually a special box set containing one CD and VHS about the very last Ramones concert. The disc is the concert itself. It's thirty-two live tracks of Ramones history jammed into one big final fairwell. Recorded at The Palace in Los Angeles, California on August 6, 1996, this was their 2,263rd and final concert.

I had a friend by the name of Varg, I may have mentioned him before, that had over played a couple of albums so badly that it turned me off the Ramones for a while. Then when I stumbled across this set at Dr. Disc a few years later, I figured why not. I picked it up and discovered this band starting from their ending.

There are two things that I want to mention right from the start. To start, these songs come at you at a blistering pace. Normally I am able to write a paragraph for each song, while the song is on. That is almost impossible with this album. By the time I start discussing The K.K.K. Took My Baby Away, it's already Rockaway Beach and I'm wondering where the last three songs went.

The second thing I want you to know is that I'm going to kind of clump songs together. That's how it feels for me, when I listen to this album. Some songs honestly pop out of a pack, while others just kind of blend into the mix. For example the album's opening track Durango 95 turns into Teenage Lobotomy at such a blazing speed that you'd think it was just a longer version of the same song. The fact that the first song is an instrumental probably helps with that.

What I'm really trying to stress is that these songs are fast, I mean real fast, blistering fast, and delivered with the rapid fire side sweeping barrage of a machine gun in All Quiet On The Western Front. And now I've already gone through Psycho Therapy, and didn't even notice.

Then it's on to Blitzkrieg Bop, and I'm a little shocked this is so early in the set. I will say that this song feels rushed. Like they can't wait to get it over.

The first time there's any real address of the crowd is in Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio, and it really isn't much. That's one thing I really notice on this album over the years. There's isn't much crowd interaction. You can't hear any singing, the band doesn't say much, it's almost like they recorded this entire album to an empty venue. I mean I really would have thought you would hear people on the choruses of this song.

Now I'm not sure if Joey was already starting to suffer the ill effects of his cancer, but I notice that he falters a bit vocally for the first time on I Believe in Miracles. It could have also been he was trying to hit notes that you need to warm up a little more for first.

Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment is another song where I wonder why you can't hear the crowd, but then during the 20 second drum into Rock 'n' Roll High School you can clearly hear them shouting. I guess it's a Punk thing. Or trying to show that you don't have to be a fancy drummer to be in a famous band.

Then the drum beat actually changes for the first time in a couple of songs, for I Wanna Be Sedated. This begins my favourite block of tracks on the CD. All of them are just great, fun times. I mean you want to sing along with all of them. Bop up and down, letting all that energy out, and how can you not love the theme song to the 1960's cartoon for Spider-Man?

Then Joey actually talks to the crowd, in a way to introduce the next song. "Heyyyyy! A funny thing happened on the way to Simi Valley today. Is that how you say it? The KKK took my baby away." I'll bet you can guess what they break into next.

It's while listening to The KKK Took My Baby Away (sorry if you hadn't figured it out yet) that I noticed why I like this section so much. It's the change in the dynamics of the songs. Well, at least the drum pattern changes.

I absolutely love I Just Wanna Have Something to Do. It's one of the Ramones darkest sounding songs. There's just something sexy and sinister about this one. Then it's pretty much a total blur of songs that I either don't have any real love for, or I'm not a fan of. Commando belongs to the first catagory and Sheena Is a Punk Rocker and Rockaway Beach belong in the second. Even these live versions do nothing to improve my opinion of the classics. Not to say they aren't great songs. They are just great songs for someone else.

Pet Sematary Is one of the few times when there is any real contact between the band and the audience. Which is to basically introduce one of my favourite Ramones songs. I love hearing the crowd sing along on the choruses as well.

The block of tracks that make up my favourite section of the album ends here.

The Crusher follows that up and and it's an interesting track, that flows right into Love Kills which features Dee Dee Ramone former Ramones bassist, and you would have thought the crowd would have gone nuts for this, but I don't hear it.

Then it's on to Do You Wanna Dance? In which I'm not entirely sureif it's actually Joey Ramone calling Dee Dee back out for a scrap, but that's sort of how it sounds to me.

Then it's on to Somebody Put Something in My Drink, which I only know from this album, and has me thinking that I need to go find the studio version. I'm really kind of digging on it, my only complaint is that it moves so perfectly into I Don't Want You that I barely notice the switch. Even in the dark sounding undertones. However there is a clear change in sound when we hit Wart Hog. To be honest this is one of those Punk songs I can't stand. It's pretty much noise. Also once I get to Cretin Hop I'm a little bored of the now constant feeling drum pattern. Especially considering how clear it is in the mix.

I'd have to go and double check the story for the song R.A.M.O.N.E.S. which was writen by Motorhead and is played live here featuring Lemmy of Motörhead. It's a fun song, and pretty much bridges the gap from the last cluster of songs and the next track, Today Your Love, Tomorrow The World. The latter is used to create a clear change of feel and tempo, when the band kicks into one of my favourites, Pinhead. This is really a fun song, which I love.

Then there is a clear break and it allows for Tim Armstrong and Lars Frederiksen of Rancid to come out for the next three tracks which are, 53rd & 3rd, Listen to My Heart, and We're A Happy Family. It's been a while since I've had this disc in, and I'm just noticing 53rd & 3rd is on here for the first time. Actually that's probably not true, but it feels like it. I barely notice Listen To My Heart except as a song playing the background and then it's on to We're A Happy Family, which is one of those songs that's a little goofy, and yet depending on you hear it, maybe even a little Rap-ish in vocal delivery.

Then there's another break while another change up happens and the break into Chinese Rock which features Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden. I've always enjoyed this song since I first picked up this disc, and once again find myself thinking I need to find a studio copy of this track and check it out.

Then it's on to Beat On The Brat, which is a decent enough song. It's just not one of my favourites.

Anyway You Want It, featuring Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam fame, finishes off the show and the final page of Ramones history. It's a great and solid finish.

The beauty of this disc is that it really gives the vibe of a real Ramones concert. It doesn't sound like a last show, and there's none of that silly nastalgia feel. It's just one last fast and furious Ramones concert.

To this day I'm still glad I picked up this disc. While I do bitch about some of the more overly Punk sounding songs, I love the Rock tracks that much more. This was a great personal introduction to this band for me. It allowed me to see where I would like to branch off in my explorations of this great American Punk band.

My biggest problem with this album is the production. The drums are too loud in the mix. It's like they are right out front. Most of the sections where you can hear the crowd, it sounds like they were just thrown in there, and the bass and guitar sound muffeled together almost like they were put on the same track.

My best description for the sound of the album is that they recorded it by mic'ing the stage at the monitors. Actually that's the perfect way to describe listening to it. It's like you are front row, right up against the security baracade, dead center. If it weren't for that slightly uniqueness to it, I'd probably knock the production down more.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Kiss - Alive III

I'm not sure what my first Kiss album was, but it may have been Alive III. I know it came out around the time I started really buying CDs, and that I did get this album not too long after it first came out. I can't remember if I bought it, or if it was a gift though. I do know that I don't listen to this one often, but it's a decent live album.

It opens with Creatures Of The Night, which is one of those songs I know, but to this day I still don't really know. It is a great start to this album though.

After that they move right on into Deuce, which is Deuce. If you've heard this song once you've heard it a million times. It doesn't matter if it's live or not.

Then it's on to I Just Wanna. This is the first song on this live collection that comes from Revenge, which is the tour where all these songs were recorded. This is one of those songs that's fun, and totally enjoyable, with a whole bunch of silliness hidden underneath. This is modern day Kiss (modern in 1993), making music that sounds like it could have been recorded in their prime. I will say the Bruce Kulicks solo is pretty damn good too.

After that comes Unholy, which is also from the same album as the last song originally. The version found on this live album isn't as good as the original, but it's not bad.

One problem I find with this Alive III is that the vocals are too far forward in the mix, especially compared to the rest of the music. For example on Unholy Bruce delivers this really cool solo, but instead of being out in the open shredding it up, the sound seems to be slightly buried in the mix, so it's pretty much level with the drums. The only thing buried any lower in the mix is the bass.

Now I know when bands play live they tend to speed up their songs, but when it comes to Heaven's On Fire it almost sounds like they are trying to rush it. It sounds like it's getting the "Let's play it, and get it over with" treatement. Which is kind of odd since it runs just over four minutes.

Watchin' You is one of those songs that has two sides to it. The first is pretty rough and bad ass in the best possible ways. The other is a little Pop-ish and gimmicky. It's pretty much one of those songs that's perfect for throwing into a live set, but I do have to say that the mix on the audience would have you believe that most of the time they aren't overly impressed.

Domino is one of those songs I love from Revenge. It may be one of my favourite Kiss songs altogether. I'm glad to hear that the audience feels the same way on this track, but I do find this live version kind of pale in comparison to the original.

I think the biggest problem with this album is the production, but that's normal with Kiss and their live albums. This is a band that is known for doctoring live albums, and making them sound better than they actually are. It's really a bit of a shame.

Next up is I Was Made For Lovin' You. I'm not a fan of this song for the most part, but I do think that the live version included on here is pretty decent. I think part of that comes from the fact that they took the disco edge out of the song. It still has a hook and groove, but it doesn't have so much of that intentional dance rhythm. Actually I find this version of the song almost has an epic like feel to it, which isn't bad for a song that was alledgedly recorded during sound check.

I Still Love You is the longest song in the live set at 6:04. I have come to the conclusion that I'm a bit of a fan of this song. Paul Stanley's performance is top notch and it's listening to him sing songs like this, that made it so easy for me to accept him as The Phantom Of The Opera, when I first heard about it. Also the solo is pretty damn good too.

Rock And Roll All Nite, chances are you know this song, and I'm willing to bet that your children's children will rock out to this song too at some point. I personally didn't really need another live version of this song, but I guess it sort of needed to be on here. Also, it does sound a little different compared to the original live version, or the studio version. The most interesting part about this version of the song is how bass heavy it sounds.

That's followed by Lick It Up, which I've never been a fan of. I find this song pretty basic and stock for Kiss. Which means it's a rather basic song in the grand scheme of Rock.

I never knew Forever prior to this album. I still wish I didn't. It's a very standard power ballad that makes Beth sound like an arena rocker.

I Love It Loud is one of those songs that was written to be played live. Though a bit typical, I do find it enjoyable. However, much like Rock And Roll All Nite, I think Gene Simmons should be sued any time he plays this song live, for false advertising.

There are some Kiss songs I love, and some Kiss songs that is sort of worship. Detroit Rock City is one of the latter. The only songs on this album I like as much as this one are Domino and the next track. But this one still wins out. I love listening to Gene rip it out on the bass on this one, and the solo is never dissapointing, especially when they go to twinning guitars. It sounds sweet.

God Gave Rock 'N' Roll To You II has been a favourite of mine since I first heard it in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey. I know this isn't really a Kiss song, but the way they've done it makes it theirs. I really do love this song, and this live version is pretty damn good too. I mean they do it real magical justice. This is where the album should have ended. It would have been the perfect closer, and would have had me rating this album higher than I'm going to now.

I find that the Star Spangled Banner being played at the end of this album wrecks it for me. For starters I've never been a fan of the song, and I've yet to hear a version that I like. It's pretty much everyone trying to be Jimi Hendrix as far as I'm concerned. I would have prefered if they had opened the show with it instead.

There are multiple things I really like about this album. The first is that it's the only Kiss Alive album to feature Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick. Another is that this includes some great tracks from the post original band eras, and includes songs from all eras. I will say that I do still prefer the first Alive to this one, and one of these days I'm going to pick up Alive II finally. Then I'll finally be able to compare them all. I don't count the symphony album. That's a little different.

I think that if you like Kiss you should own this album. If you don't like Kiss then why are you even reading this?

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Metallica - Unplugged

Metallica would never do a MTV Unplugged album. That would be too cliche, since they wouldn't have been the first to do it. Instead loyal fans with too much time and extra money have to look for bootleg compilations, because that's just cooler. Okay, it kind of is.

This Unplugged album is not a band sanctioned release, but when I put it in the computer my Windsows Media Player displays a track list. So, it is a recognized album.

The album opens with Lowman's Lyric. I'm the only person I know that actually likes this song. The sound on this recording is bootleg for sure. It's awesome to hear, and I really wish I would have been there to hear this live. I also like the way James jokes around at the end of the song, about playing accoustic.

Then they kick in to a blazing version of Helpless. I mean they really go to town, with some accoustic boogie woogie. I really don't care for Tuesday's Gone. It doesn't matter which Metallica version it is, or even if it's the original Lynyrd Skynyrd version. Also there are some limitations in the original recording of the song, that create an extra fuzz and buzz at points. On the bright side Jerry Cantrel solos on the song quite nicely.

I love Poor Twisted Me, and this accoustic version is totally bad ass. The way it's played is just totally what you'd really want to hear from Metallica while they jam accoustic.

You hear about Metallica Unplugged and there are two songs that I know you, that you know, that we know two songs that will be on here for sure. Fade To Black is the first of those two songs. I'm not a fan of the song. It's a decent song, just not for me is all. I will say that I love the different ways that Kirk busts out on the guitar with this one. This song is worth listening to just for the guitar work, it's fantastic.

I actually got to see Metallica perform The Four Horsemen live and accoustic during the tour for Reload. I thought it was totally bitchin' and bad ass back then, and still do while listening to this version. This is like some real dark pits of hell Country song. It really feels like the horsemen are chasing after you. I would love to hear a studio version of the accoustic rendition.

The second song in that discussion we were having above about songs we know will be on here is next. And it's Nothing Else Matters. Like you could have an accoustic set without this song. Not a favourite of mine, but it makes sense. At least it does the first time. I will admit that the solo is worth a good listen.

Last Caress is really fun when played accoustic. I love this rendition, and when I heard it live as well. It's a really great jam song.

The first eight tracks were recorded live at the Bridge Benefit, Mountain View, California, on the 19th October 1997. The next track was recorded for Virgin FM, London Studios, November 1997. It's another version of Nothing Else Matters. Why they wouldn't have spaced it out better I don't know, but it would have been nice. The sound on this version sounds somewhat mixed and produced, while the previous version had sounded more like a live get together jam. Kirk's solo is also better on the first version of this song.

Mama Said is yet another song I like, that many Metallica fans do not. This was done for Later Show, in London, November of 1997.

After that the album switches over to plugged in live recordings. The first up is a favourite of mine, Wasting My Hate. I was lucky enough to get to hear this song live during the Load tour. The down side is this version, also recorded for Later Show, isn't as good as it had sounded when I heard it live.

The last two tracks were recorded live at Alexander Palace, London, 14th of November, 1996. Those songs are Last Caress and So What. These are pretty typical live renditions of these songs. The sound quality leaves something to be desired, but it's a bootleg so what do you expect.

This album is for the hardcore fans. It has some good merit, and allows the listener to enjoy some interesting new renditions of classic songs.

6/10 - content

5/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Monday, April 15, 2013

Pink Floyd - Pulse

My mom picked up Pink Floyd's Pulse for me for my seventeenth birthday. At least I think it was that one. Either way it was in 1995 and she bought me both the double CD set with the fancy box and blinking light. As well as the matching VHS release. The battery needs to be replaced in my box and I haven't had a working VHS player for a few years. It was a pretty good call on her behalf, fuelled by how much I had been watching The Wall at that time. That was the year I discovered it.

This album exposed me to a lot of Floyd song's I had never known before first putting this album on. When I look back on it, I totally under valued this album over the years. If you had asked me ten years ago about this album, I would have told you it was okay, but now a days I have a stronger opinion of it. I do believe that this is one of those albums that's wasted on youth and was meant for a more mature audience.

Which would explain why when I was a teen every guy I knew in their thirties pretty much raved about this album.

The concert opens with Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Over the years this has become one of my favourite songs from this band. I love the majesty of the opening guitar solo, mixed with the subtle beauty of the keyboards. David Gilmour and Richard Wright slowly build to a musical brilliance really cause this song to do what it says and "Just shine". I guess I should mention that this is not the full length version, but it's pretty damn close.

Since many people believe with good reason that Shine On You Crazy Diamond is about former Pink Floyd vocalist Syd Barrett, it's only fitting that they play one of his songs next. Astronomy Domine from The Piper at The Gates Of Dawn is the second song into the concert, and it's wicked cool. It's totally like being pulled back to 1967 when it was first released.

The Pulse album was actually recordings taken during the tour from The Division Bell, which was the last studio album released by the band. So it only makes sense that a few songs from that album would be on here. The first is What Do You Want From Me. While I do enjoy this song, and think it's well done, you can really tell that it's post 1980's Pink Floyd in the sound of the song itself. That's not a bad thing, it's just not my thing.

Learn To Fly originally comes from Momentary Lapse Of Reason. Pretty much everthing I said about the last track applies to this one as well.

The second song to be played live from the Division Bell is Keep Talking. I've covered how I feel about these late era songs. They are good, but just not my thing so much. They sound dated, to a time I personally wouldn't want to sound dated to.

Of all the songs to be played live from the album, that inspired the tour, that inspired this album, Coming Back To Life is the one I like the least. Actually of all the songs from this live collection, this is the one I would skip first. It might be the only one that I would actually go out of my way to skip.

After that is Hey You. This is one of those songs from The Wall that I never understood why it was so popular. I mean it's not bad, but at this point in the concert I find it slows down the set too much. I will say that the live interpretation is really passion filled and impressive in that manner.

By the time I get to A Great Day For Freedom, I'm getting a little bored of Division Bell songs. They're okay, but for the most part I'm starting to find them a little repetitive sounding.

One of the biggest problems with this tour is the fact that the band had to stay away from using too many Roger Water's songs. Which means they had to mainly pull from A Division Bell And Momentary Lapse Of Reason. For the first disc, I find this a bit of a put off. Gilmour wrote great music, but the problem is most of the songs from that time period all sound the same. By the time I get to Sorrow, I remember why I don't really listen to this album very often. As much as I like the second disc, I'm not such a big fan of the first one.

Basically, I would describe most of the songs that make up the middle section of this disc as one really long concept song, that sounds like a lot of Gilmour getting himself off on the guitar. Which could be considered really cool if you are into that kind of thing.

High Hopes finishes off the songs from the post Waters period. I think I may like this one the best of those songs, but still I find it a little long feeling, and that it drags it's ass a little. The nice part about this song is that it does have a different vibe and feel compared to the other songs from the two albums I've been mentioning.

The first disc then ends with Pink Floyd's most popular song, Another Brick In The Wall (Part Two). This is a much needed pick me up after the last eight songs. I would have liked to have been able to hear more of the audience on this track, but aside from that, it's a cool live version.

Disc two starts with the band playing the entire The Dark Side Of The Moon. You have the cool heartbeating intro of Speak To Me, which flows right into Breath. Now the part I love the most about this, is the last time Pink Floyd officially toured was documented on this double disc set, but the fact that Dark Side was played in it's entirety is just so sweet.

When it breaks into On The Run you can just feel the static in the air as the audience waits for what's coming next. The music just builds up such feverish anticipation, and then there's the explosion. I have to say that the sound is so crystal clear I'd almost think it wasn't actually a live recording.

Then it's on to Time. As a kid and a young teen I was never a fan of this song. I found the intro a little long and over done. When I hit sixteen or so, I really started to develop an appreciation for the song. But it wasn't until I was in my twenties that I really fell in love with it. In fact as I listen to it now, I discover a new love for this version of the song. It's not as good as the studio track, mainly because the vocals sound a little rough, but the solo is top notch.

I love the airy cinematic feel of The Great Gig In The Sky, and I love the live female vocals. Totally mind blowing, if you ever get to see the live video performance for this album. This is one of those songs that you just have to let the music take you away. Close your eyes, and let your mind dream through the sky, or space, or whatever fantasies you dare to imagine soaring through.

Money, which is up next, is kind of the opposite of what I say about Time. I loved this song more as a kid and young teen then I did by the time I was in my twenties. Now a days I just love grooving on the song. I will also say that this version is lacking compared to the studio version, but the saxaphones sound top notch.

My one wish when it comes to Pink Floyd is that they'd loosen up a bit in the solos. Gilmours solos sound almost note for note from the studio recordings, and the various other instruments do the same thing as well. I will say that I do love the jamming that they do do during the midddle section of Money, it's a cool little addition. I really would have liked to have heard more of this, but even so it still sounds a bit over practiced. It's sexy sounding all the same.

I've always found that Us And Them slowed down the Dark Side album. This is one of those songs that Andria would call sleepy time music. In this case I would have to agree as well. This is one of those songs that's really awesome when it get's going, but first you have to get there without nodding off. This is honestly my least favourite song on the second disc.

Any Colour You Like, is sweet instrumental. I love it, and how it leads into Brain Damage. Both of these tracks are just really enjoyable to listen to. They take you on a journey that's both exciting and exhilarating. They lead you to a big wide open field on top of the world, where you can be free. Granted in this case, being free means leaving behind a bit of your sanity.

Then it finishes of with Eclipse and the band saying good night. They let it drag out, and that's all cool for live album effect, not so great for individual track usage.

Then they come back to encore with Wish You Were Here. Which is nice, all be it a slower way to start closing off the night. It's a great song, and listening to the audience join in is beautiful. Gilmour clearly also knocks it out of the park with the guitar parts as well.

Then to follow that up with Comfortably Numb seems a bit silly to me. While both songs are amazing, there are a little slow to play back to back I think. It makes a ten minute or so block of music sound closer to twenty. However, due to the phenominal solo all is forgiven.

Now I do believe that if you are going to end the night, you must end it on a high note, and Pink Floyd does. There's a whole lot of teasing with the Gilmour's guitar and some echo before he finally kicks it in on full swing and breaks into Run Like Hell. Actuallys at first it sounds more like Another Brick In The Wall (Part One), but then it totally moves into Run Like Hell. This is one of the songs from The Wall that I've always loved, but I don't care for the vocal delivery in this version. It's not bad, but it doesn't have the right sound to it either.

I love the slight extending of Run Like Hell, which powers up and becomes a monsterous thunder to close out the night. It's like the perfect textbook concert ending. It is a great closing to a great show.

My personal bias is really the only thing that holds this album back in my opinion. If I were a large Pink Floyd fan I may be more inclined to rate this album closer to a perfect ten, but to me it's a very strong eight with change.

8/10 - content

9/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Danzig - Thrall-Demonsweatlive

I'm not sure what to call this album. Thrall-Demonsweatlive contains three listed studio tracks, and four live tracks. I guess it's a modern EP, but I'd be more inclined to call it a maxi single just because of the amount of time the music actually takes. It is over thirty minutes.

According to aritcles found on the internet, the studio tracks were tracked live and then completed by the band in a single day. Part of me says you can tell. The other part says, who gives a shit and don't knock a man for trying to do something that most bands, especially now a days, wouldn't have the balls to do.

The first song in the set of three studio tracks is It's Coming Down, it's okay but a bit typical of Danzig at that time and easy to overlook. It's not a bad song. Just not a song that I don't pay much attention to.

I feel kind of the same about The Violet Fire. It's a little more catchy and enjoyable, but it seems a little basic. I think part of the problem may even be the production. It's sounds a little more demo-ish and less completed studio.

The last studio track is Trouble, and this is the first track on the album I really dig. It's pretty much a standard Blues riff wrapped in Glenn Danzig's trademark demon lyrics, but it works for me. It's very Jim Morrison sounding to me. Like one of those lost tracks from The Doors. I guess it should also be mentioned that this isn't a Danzig song either, it's actually a cover of an Elvis Presley song.

Snakes Of Christ is the first live track. While I'm not a huge fan of this song, I do find it totally kickin' and love this recording of it. The passion, the technique, the rawness mixed with an audience that wants to participate makes for a great track.

After that it's pretty much straight into Am I Demon. Another great high intesity track, that I find blistering on this live section of the album.

Sistinas follows that up, slowing down the live set just a little, but I've always found this song rather pretty so I don't mind. I mean this is a really classic sounding song and enjoyable on a multitude of levels.

The official album then finishes up with a live version of Mother. This is bad ass, and even cooler is listening to my son quietly sing the "Mother!" while playing video games. Actually, he seems to know most of the words. Thank you Guitar Hero. As for this live version, it's Mother live. So it's hard, heavy and quicker than normal. I would have liked the recording of this to have been of better qaulity, but for a huge smaller band this 1992 live recording isn't bad. Not everyone had Metallica's budget.

After that it's on to 85 tracks of nothing that lead up to Mother '93, a remix that six minutes and sixty-six second later on track 93. While I do enjoy hidden tracks. All the blank tracks suck when my CD player is running on random. As for the song itself. Well it's actually the version you know best, as it's the one the music video was made from. Which means crank it up and rock it out.

All in all this isn't a bad album. It's not an album I would suggest to just anybody, but if you really like Danzig or happen to find Thrall-Demonsweatlive used for five bucks or so, then sure, why not pick it up.

Also I'm not being cute with the rating. The content is good, just not great. The production passes, but it's nothing to write about, and I personally am just okay with this album.

6/10 - content

6/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Friday, April 12, 2013

Kiss - MTV Unplugged

The album opens with Comin' Home. This is not a song I'm all that familiar with, and I can understand why. While the guitar work sounds pretty damn kick ass, over all I'm not all that impressed with it.

I have to say that an accoustic version of Plaster Caster was not expected, but totally appreciated. I know this is one of those songs that women's rights activists bitch about, but I love it. It's got some great low end, the guitars are fun and energetic, and on this version Bruce Kulick really rips it up.

Goin' Blind is a perfect addition to this accoustic set. It sounds like it should be here, and it's very beautiful. Which is a contrast to the next track Do You Love Me. Not a song you'd expect to hear on here, and it probably could have been left out. After that is Domino. This is one of those songs that's meant for fun, and you can't take too serious. That being said I love to perform this for karaoke purposes. I think the accoustic performance on here is fantastic, and that Bruce Kulick's solo is kick ass.

Sure Know Something is pretty damn sexy sounding on here. This is one of the few songs I only know from this album. I have never really felt a need to pick up the Dynasty album for myself.

By the time you get to track seven, A World Without Heroes, you can clearly tell there's more than just a bit of a country flair to this album. Sure it's accoustic, and that will lend to a bit of that sound, but when you also factor in Bruce's lead style, with the rhythm section, it's more than clear. I will say that Gene's vocals are really good on this track.

I have always dug the song Rock Bottom and the accoustic treatment done on here is really cool, especially the intro. Once you get into the body of the song, it's still impressive, and yet another cool solo. Nothing fancy, but very well suited.

I'm not a fan of See You Tonight. It's okay if you like Bubble Gum Pop Rock, but it doesn't do much for me.

I do love Paul Stanley's vocal delivery on I Still Love You, it's what has always made the song for me. As for the version on here, it's a pretty natural fit. Also the solo is totally sexy. Actually, everything about this version is sexy.

The last song on the album to feature Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Eric Singer, and Bruce Kulick exclusively is Everytime I Look At You. After that we get into what would become the reunion era of Kiss. It's a sad good bye of sorts. I do like the strings on it, but it's such a typical accoustic kind of song to finish with.

First we are treated to 2,000 Man with Ace Frehley on vocals, when the guests start coming out. This is a Rolling Stones cover, and I don't mind the version on this album. It's fun, and enjoyable. Also Peter Criss makes his first appearance on this song as well.

Some little factoids to point out at this point, are that this show is the only time that Criss, Frehley, Simmons, Stanley, Kulick and Singer appear on stage together at the same time in Kisstory. As well as the only time that the original line-up performed publicly without their trademark make-up on.

Now, knowing that Criss is there, and that this is an accoustic album, it's only obvious that Beth is going to get played. This version of the song is killer. It's just the band, all three guitarists, and the bassist playing this song, and they do it well. No extra strings, or piano, or any other fluff, just the boys in the band.

Nothin' To Lose has two unique features to it. The first is that the two lead vocals are performed by both drummers, Criss and Singer, also this is the only time that Singer is featured as a lead vocalist on a Kiss album. Other than that, I don't find anything overly special about this song.

The album closes with powerful version of Rock And Roll All Nite. This has all the original members except for Stanley on lead vocals, and a great double drum thundering. However, it is Rock And Roll All Nite, so if you've heard it once you heard it a million times, even if one of those times is accoustic.

While I'm not overly huge on much of this album, I think that it was the right album for Kiss to do at the time and I'm glad they did. The few tracks I really like on here, I really like, and the others are at least enjoyable. This is a unique piece of Kiss history, and probably one of the last albums before they turned back into caricatures of themselves.

If you are a Kiss fan and don't have this album, you should maybe look at checking it out for yourself. If you are into accoustic albums, you may want to check this out as well, because it is decent. However, if you don't like Kiss then you should stay away from this album, because it is a Kiss album.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Monday, April 8, 2013

Black Sabbath - Reunion

I remember when Black Sabbath Reunion came out. I don't think I picked it up on release day, but it was probably close to. I remember talking to Mike at Dr. Disc and him saying that it was a basic Sabbath album, and nothing really special. To some degree I think he had a point. When I listen to it now it doesn't hold the same awe and wonder it had held when I first picked it up. Especially the two songs that were new at the time. One of them I still enjoy but not the same as I once had.

There are two problems with this album I find. The first is that all the live songs could be considered standard fare from Black Sabbath. With the exception of Dirty Women I knew every song on the live set, and while some songs are great to hear, others are not.

Please don't get the wrong idea. This is an awesome live recording of the original Black Sabbath line up. It's the best one I have ever heard.

The second problem with this album is that it sounds too much like Ozzy was trying too much to run the show like he did when solo, and while that's cool sometimes, it's not always needed. The way he tries to lead the crowd during instrumental parts I sometimes find insulting. But I'll get more into that when needed later.

The album opens with War Pigs. This is the perfect warm up song for any band doing a live set. You get the crowd engaged, the band can loosen up with ease. Then you "rock out". You open up some insane playing and rip it up.

After that it's on to Behind The Wall Of Sleep which is some serious Blues dripping Metal. If I had to guess Ozzy had this one put early in the set, because it wasn't really his and he didn't really want to do it in the first place.

I also think this is why N.I.B. is so early in the set. I mean maybe it's just me, but isn't this one of the greatest Black Sabbath songs? Geezer Butler rips it up on the bass, Tony Iommi lets loose on the guitar, and Bill Ward keeps them all together. Ozzy even uses this track to introduce the band, and is then joined on stage by a member of the audience at that point. Something that is great when captured on a live recording. Sadly, I don't think that that man will remember, he sounded like he was under the spirits.

Next up is one of my personal favourites, Fairies Wear Boots. I'm surprised that they played it during the show, do to political correctness and all that bullshit. On the other hand this is Black Sabbath and they will play what they please.

I have no clue why Ozzy felt the need to keep chanting "Heavy!" during Electric Funeral. However, to hear the band play this one is awesome. Bill Ward, despite suffering a heart attack not long before the show, really kicks it out big time on this song.

By the time you get to Sweet Leaf, you'll notice I have a reoccurring issue with the live show and it's Ozzy's over use of the mic. I know that there's not a lot for him to do during the solos or instrumentals, but there is no need to constantly work the crowd.

By the time I get to Spiral Architect I notice that the vocals sound like they are too far forward in the mix. I notice this happens when the stereo's volume is low with this album. It may have something to do with the effect Iommi uses on his guitar, I don't know exactly. All I know is Ozzy is too loud in the mix.

Things sound much better for Into The Void. I personally don't mind this song, but it's not a song that would be on my need to hear list.

Anyone that has half a brain knows what Snowblind is about, unless they are a little young. That being said, we don't need Ozzy rubbing our noses in the cocaine. I find he feels the need to say the word much more than it had appearred on the original album.

All the bad mouthing Ozzy aside, the first disc on the album is a great start to the concert. I do enjoy putting it on, sitting back, and imagining that I am there. The sound really lends to that vibe, and it's great.

The second disc kicks off with Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, which works perfectly for me. I love this song, and this version isn't bad either.

It's really cool to here Iommi bust out Orchid before launching into Lord Of This World, but there was no need for Ozzy's thanking him for the solo. It almost sounds like Ozzy is cutting him off to me. Other than that it's a live version of a classic track.

I had never heard Dirty Women, prior to picking up this album, so I had no basis for comparison. However, based just on this version I don't care for the song.

Ozzy explains the story of the name Black Sabbath to open the song of the same name. I do enjoy this version of the song, but I have heard better versions that are better.

Iron Man begins the way you would expect it to. Ozzy works the crowd into a frenzy while Bill Ward works the bass drum. Then Iommi launches into the guitar parts and it takes off. The song is on it's way. This is the song we all know so well, done well live. But it's nothing special.

Children Of The Grave is my favourite Black Sabbath song. I would have love to have heard the Embryo intro live, but one awesome solo intro per album I guess. I love listening to Iommi go at this song. This version does it real justice.

One of the best parts about this album is you get 16 live tracks which average close to six minutes in length each, and you barely notice it. Even cooler is that the live set finishes with the shortest track, coming in at 4:28, and it's Paranoid, so you know a good chunk of that time is pandering to the crowd. They use this song to it's fullest extent to close down the show, and it's great to hear. This may be one of the cooler live versions I've heard of this song.

The concert itself is really awesome to crank up and listen to. It's nice to hear that captured piece of music history. Especially since it seems clear that the original line-up will never be recorded live again. As for the two "new at the time" Black Sabbath songs, well it's hard to say.

Psycho Man is a bit stock for Black Sabbath. In fact it sounds a bit more like an Ozzy song than a Sabbath tune. This song wouldn't be on any of my best of lists, but it's a decent offering from a great band. I think it's the guitar work that really makes this song.

Selling My Soul is all about the guitar work. Which sort of explains my issue with the two studio albums the whole way around. Black Sabbath songs always use to sound like band created gems, that were molded by a well formed unit. Even if that wasn't the case, that's at least how it sounded. That's not what happens on these songs. Instead they sound like Ozzy, The Guitarist, and the rest of the band. In other words it sounds like solo work from two great egos. It's understandable why Bill Ward had some issues going in to this new album that will be finally be coming out some time in the near future.

If you love Black Sabbath, as well as live albums, this is a must. If you are just a Sabbath fan, you may still want this album. If you are in to live albums, this album isn't anything special or unique. It sounds pretty note for note to the originals.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Friday, April 5, 2013

Metallica - Some Kind Of Monster

For my regular readers, I would like to say that this kicks off what I am calling Spring: Alive. For the next six weeks or so, all the reviews are going to mainly be live albums. There will be a few exceptions and the first one is the Some Kind Of Monster CD. This was a special promotional disc for the documentary of the same name.

I'm not sure what this album would really be called, format wise. There's eight tracks and it runs long enough to be considered a full album, but at the same time it's pretty much a Maxi Single. The album version of Some Kind Of Monster kicks off the album, while the edited version finishes the album. The middle six tracks are all live cuts.

I'm going to get into the live tracks first. They were recorded on "June 11, 2003, in Paris, France, during one of three club shows performed on the hottest day in French History." This is according to the liner notes. The songs were recorded and mixed by Mike Gillies. I don't care for his work. The bass is lost in too much of the mix, the drums are too far forward, and the only thing that sounds right is James' vocals. That is from a mix point of view.

The songs themselves are The Four Horsemen, Damage, Inc., Leper Messiah, Motorbreath, Ride The Lightning, and Hit The Lights. Classic songs done live with then new bassist Rob Trujillo.

Two of those songs are in my top ten of Metallica tracks. Sadly, I find that The Four Horsemen, and Leper Messiah fall short, and it's purely because of how everything sounds. The best way to describe the sound is that James' vocals were run straight into the mixer, so was the snare, hi-hat, and a couple of cymbals, while the guitars and bass were recorded with some distance from the band's amps. I remember making recordings that sounded like this on my buddy Matt's Fostex four track cassette recorder, but Matt mixed everything so it wasn't in the back of the mix. Actually when I think about how this comes across I would say that the closest thing I ever did to creating that type of live sound was park a video camera about ten feet away from the front of a stage and hit record.

As for tracks one and eight, well I don't mind the song Some Kind Of Monster. I will say that I like the full length version of the song better that the edited one. Also if I had to guess the direction Bob Rock took on the St. Anger album, I think is what loosely inspired the mix on the live tracks on this album. Not to say that Bob did a bad job. To me it's more that the drums are too far forward in the mix, especially the snare. I don't mind that he turned the actual snare off. I dislike it's placement in the mix. Over all I do enjoy the song when it comes on.

If the sound on the live tracks had been better, this album would have been better. Motorbreath and Hit The Lights were never songs that I was overly big on. Damage, Inc. and Ride The Lightning are very welcomed editions to the album since they don't get played live all that often.

I should mention that you can hear all instruments clearly, for the most part. The bass is a little burried, but it's not too bad when you consider the original source material. Which is to say that the bass and the guitars run pretty close together.

If you are like me and really like listening to live tracks, then maybe you should get this album. If you are also a Metallica fan, it wouldn't hurt either. However, this CD is meant only for that type of person. I would say that it's really a bargain bin grab for the most part.

8/10 - content

4/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Monday, April 1, 2013

Mindy McCready - Ten Thousand Angels

I don't know Mindy McCready, except as a musician that the Editor owned a couple of CD's from. I'm not much of a fan of Country.

However, while trying to figure out what reviews I wanted to do next, I sorted out a collection of discs, that Drew burned for me to check out, or lent me, as well as one or two that were Andria's. She sometimes buys girly albums, because that's what girls do. But she's also the one that bought Iron Maiden's Dance Of Death in this house, so you better recognize.

Either way I figure I would throw in a Mindy McCready, and the 1996 release Ten Thousand Angels was the one out of two selections I picked.

The album opens with the title track. Musically this is pretty typical of Girl Pop Country. Lyrically, it's a girl asking for the strength to stand up and say no to her demons. If you are into that semi-inspirational kind of Country this is a good song for you. Otherwise this one does little for me.

Now it get's really funny, when my computer stops wanting to play the CD, and it can't get past the first song without skipping itself into submission. Which means I have to put it on the main stereo to finsish this review. D'oh.

Which brings us to the song that made her famous to the party girls. I'm sure this song is probably back in full string in the right bar. Guys Do It All The Time, is very typical musically. Nothing too special. Lyrically it's pretty much a call to equality. It's a Country girl insisting she has the right to act just as badly as a guy. "Got in this morning at 4 AM / Your as mad as you can be / Well I was drinking and talking / And you know how that goes / Time just slipped away from me / By the time I knew what time it was / It was to late to call home / Stop carrying on and acting like a child / I wasn't doing anything wrong / Guys do it all the time / And you expect us to understand / When the shoe's on the other foot / You know that's when it hits the fan / Get over it honey life's a two way street / Or you won't be a man of mine / So I had some beers with the girls last night / Guys do it all the time / I know I left my clothes all over the place / And I took your twenty bucks / No I didn't get the front yard cut / Cause I had to wash my truck / Will you bring me a cold one baby / Turn on the TV / We'll talk about this later / There's a ballgame I wanna see / Guys do it all the time / And you expect us to understand / When the shoe's on the other foot / You know that's when it hits the fan / Get over it honey life's a two way street / Or you won't be a man of mine / So I had some beers with the girls last night / Guys do it all the time / You look like you just took / A long look in the mirror / Tell me baby if things don't look / A whole lot clearer, ooh / Get over it honey life's a two way street / Or you won't be a man of mine / So I had some beers with the girls last night / Guys do it all the time / Yeah guys do it / Yeah guys do it / All the time, all the time / Yeah guys do it / Yeah guys do it / All the time" I'm sure every guy in the bar loves when this song comes on.

All That I Am actually catches my attention for a few seconds. There's this cool slinky kind of sound, when the song is at it's quietest, but then it turns into a basic song, that fits right in on this album. I would have rathered it stayed more with how it starteted. Would have made a track worth listening to.

See the problem I have with this album, is that it's directed toward a very specific market. Take the next song for example. Maybe He'll Notice Her Now is totally geared towards a female's fantasy. I don't know a guy that would sit there and even notice this song. Except for it being a pretty girl song. It's also got a duet kind of feel to it, for extra effect.

I'm feeling a bit like I'm growing a vagina as I get to A Girl's Gotta Do (What A Girl's Gotta Do). It's another barn stomping dance number, that'll have all the girls dancing, and acting a bit naughty.

Okay, we're back to a mellower number with Have A Nice Day, and this seems to be the longest song on the album. This would be Mindy McCready's version of an epic song. I do like the lap steel work, it adds a cool dynamic. It's a bit basic, but this is music about the vocalist, not the instrumentation.

The problem I have with this album, is how cookie cutter these songs sound. Mindy has made it clear to me that she has two modes. The first is love lorne. The second is party girl, which she tells you outright in It Ain't A Party. This song actually has a small bit of musical jamming in it that's cool to hear. It doesn't last long, and that's a shame, but it's good while it's there.

So, now it's back to another atypical slow track. Without Love is just another love song. This is cat nip for girls. I get that. This song is ooey, gooey love dripping out of every seam. But, I'd seriously like to return my ovaries and have my balls put back in please.

Tell Me Something I Don't Know is yet another love song. Whatever. If you pay attention to the lap steel it's not bad.

Breakin' It sounds a little Hawaiin, a little Spanish, a lot love lorne, and really a decent album closer.

To me the biggest problem with this album is the lack of instrumental expression. Yes, on some tracks the lap steel is cool, or maybe some really kickin' harmonic playing, but not enough to get me all serious.

I will say that this is pretty much the perfect Country Girl Pop album, turned out buy the corporate machine. Mindy McCready has a decent enough voice, that's it. She sings, and does it well, and someone else does the rest. This is a successful product for mass consumption.

According to this album it took my penis away for no more than 35:33. That's a bright side that the Editor pointed out to me.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias