Thursday, June 27, 2013

Frank Zappa - The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life

When one has to buy a Frank Zappa album, and one has only few choice cds from said artist already, it's really hard to figure out what to go with as the next purchase. It's totally blind picking. So when it came to picking up Zappa album number four, I opted for a live album from the later part of the Zappa catalogue.

I'll be totally honest, it was the album's title that drew me in. The Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life, how does one say no to that, especially when it comes to Zappa. Then there were the songs that I knew that make up this double disc CD. Some Frank Zappa classics like Cosmik Debris and Zombu Woof, and then covers of Purple Haze, Ring Of Fire, Sunshine Of Your Love, and Stairway To Heaven.

This album gives a glimpse into what a Zappa concert would have been like, and that allows me to see why some people loved his live shows, while others stayed away. The musical genius isn't for everyone. Hell, I would say he is more for the experimental minority. The covers I mentioned are the band's own takes on those songs. The way the album is designed to simulate a live concert is fantastic, and the performances themselves range from flat out ridiculousness, to musical excellence.

However, this album did serve the purpose I was looking for when I picked it up. It allowed me to see what Frank Zappa is like when they do a cover, and not just one or two songs, or specific genres, but a bit of a variety, done various ways. You also get the vibe for a Zappa live show. I mean a true feeling. Then finally, and most importantly, it gives me a sense of where to go with my next purchase. Although purchase number five ended up coming so shortly after, that the only bearing this album had on it was the number from the catalogue. (The next album I bought was number two, where as this is fifty-five.)

In the liner notes Frank Zappa insists that this album was recorded live, from various shows recorded in Europe and the American East Coast between February and June of 1988. The musicians that make up the best band you've never heard are Frank Zappa (lead guitar, computer-synth, vocal), Ike Willis (rhythm guitar, synth, vocal), Mike Keneally (rhythm guitar, synth, vocal), Bobby Martin (keyboards, vocal), Ed Mann (vibes, marimba, electronic percussion), Walt Fowler (trumpet, flugel horn, synth), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Paul Carman (alto sax, soprano sax, baritone sax), Albert Wing (tenor sax), Kurt McGettrick (baritone sax, bass sax, contrabass clarinet), Scott Thunes (electric bass, mini-moog), and Chad Wackerman (drums, electronic percussion).

The double disc album opens with Heavy Duty Judy, which was a completely new song to me. Musically it opens the album with a sound that almost seems inspired by Sesame Street. Which is pretty cool. It also sets the tone of this album perfectly. It's a little silly, a bit strange, very fun, and musically inspiring. This song in an instrumental originally from Shut Up And Play Your Guitar.

Granted this isn't entirely an instrumental. They use this track to introduce the next song which is Ring Of Fire. Yes this is a cover of the Johnny Cash classic, but no it's not like the original. They do it in a Reggae style. It's Jamaican Country music. I find part of it humourous in a good way, and I also find it a bit insulting, because it comes off a bit jackassy courtesy of Zappa's adlib commentary.

After that comes Cosmic Debris which I know from my old copy of Apostrophe/Overnight Sensation. While I haven't had a copy to listen to in the better part of a decade, I recognized the track right away and yet know it's not the same as the original. I'm not so big on this track.

Find Her Finer follows that up, and I like the switch up compared to the last couple of tracks. While it has a lot of typical Zappa elements to the song, it also has a very sexy groove. It's slinky and stretchy like a pair of colourful spandex on a 1980's fitness nut.

When we get to Who Need The Peace Corps? I'm a bit let down. It's a pretty basic cheese ball Zappa tune with very litte redeeming musical value. This goes seemlessly into a short rendition of I Left My Heart In San Francisco which is nothing to write home about.

However the abrupt change into Zombie Woof is much needed and respected. This is a kick ass funk kind of track. While it has some of the playful elements I have come to expect from this band, it also has the really fun and funky sounds, and rhythms, and textures that make Zappa's music sexy. Then there's also the solo which is really sweet and would have been killer to see live.

This is then followed up by a cover of Bolero, which I recognize from somewhere, I want to say some movie that takes place in Paris, or at least France somewhere. Maybe It's even somewhere else in Europe, I'm not entirely sure. All I know is that this cover is decent, and totally enjoyable. It's a bit sad to say that some of the best parts of this album are when the band breaks into full fledge instrumental ecstacy.

I should point out that at this point we are into the heavily Jazz inspired section of the show. Actually it's pretty mind blowing when Zoot Allures gets going for two different reasons. The first is that this is a very intense song musically. The second is I'm pretty sure Steve Vai lifted part of this from Zappa later. I wish I could think of what song it is, but I think it may have been from Fire Garden. Then again it could just be that Zappa recycled parts of this song in later tracks. With Frank anything is poosible.

You can tell Mr. Green Genes is from a different show just by the way the track is cut. It's such a quick and abrupt cut that it's like they didn't even try to make it flow. Maybe there was no way to do it right, or maybe it was a time issue. As for the song it self. Well, I'll let the lyrics do the talking for me. "Eat your greens / Don't forget your beans & celery / Don't forget to bring / Your fake I.D. / Eat a bunch of these / MAGNIFICIENT / With sauerkraut / MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM / Sauerkraut! / Eat a grape, a fig / A crumpete too ... / You'll pump 'em right through / Doo-wee-ooo / Eat your shoes / Don't forget the strings / And sox / Even eat the box / Your bought 'em in / You can eat the truck / That brought 'em in / Garbage truck / MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMouldy / Garbage truck / Eat the truck & driver / And his gloves / NUTRITIOUSNESS / DELICIOUSNESS / WORTHLESSNESS". I can assure you that the music is nowhere near as odd, or silly, but it is inpiringly different.

After that is turns all bad ass for Florentine Pogen, until it gets a bit odd, and then slips into a dark and sensual track of Jazz experimantalism. This is one of those live tracks that inspires me to check out the original to see if I'll enjoy it more, because something just seems to be missing on this one. For the most part this song breaks down into a kick ass instrumental.

Then it cuts straight into Andy. Which contains some very typical Zappa musical stylings, mixed with some Disco, a little Chicago Blues/Jazz mixture, and a lot more typical Zappa stylings. So much so that I don't even notice when it switched to Inca Roads.

Inca Roads starts off kinda boring because it's almost cliche in it's Frank Zappa sound and style, but once the track get's going it turns into one of those Zappa songs you are happy to know. I hate to say it, but this is one of those tracks that are for the musically pretentious, and even then I don't think it's meant for most of them to enjoy it. At times it's almost as if you are not supposed to like this song much at all. Then at other times it's like this song is meant to make your mind explode in a version of musical colour.

Sofa #1 finishes off the first disc. This track sounds like a show closer. Almost like the music played at the end of Saturday Night Live. That's not the best description for the song, but it's the best one I have.

The second disc opens with a cover of Purple Haze. While you will recognize this song, it's not the same as the original. For starters, Zappa doesn't do anything like you'd expect. Then when you move past that simple notion, you get to the fact that the instrumentation on this song borders between eighties synth pop (think Devo) and a Mexican Caberet Show. Hendrix did not expect this, when he did this song originally. But what's even odder is the cover of Sunshine Of Your Love, which follows so seemlessly that you don't even notice that they stopped playing Purple Haze. It's almost like Frank and crew were trying to make some type of point. Now if you can get past the weird rawness to the two songs performances you may actually enjoy the performances. Just remember to expect different.

Let's Move to Cleveland Is a really good instrumental track. While it bares some simularities to other instrumentals found on the album, it is still it's own unique beast. In fact it may be my favourite instrumental on this album.

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling is a very short cover that I don't feel is long enough to be called much more than a ditty at 0:46. However, it's meant as a bit of a break especially with the seemless flow in the Godfather Part II Theme.

Then it's on to A Few Moments with Brother A. West. This is more of a performance piece. A bit of show for the audience. It's interesting to listen to, especially given that it was recorded over twenty years ago and it sounds like it may have been recorded in the last ten. It really is a fun listen though.

The Torture Never Stops, Pt. 1 is a return to some Frank Zappa original music. Not just talking, or playing for instruments only. I'm talking a full blown song full of lyrics, various time and tempo changes, complex playing, and some really messed up other vocals. This song is just all over the place with styles even. It's like a hodge podge of three or four different tracks. Which is why it flows into the theme from Bonanza which you can easily miss, if it wasn't slightly announced. What an interesting performance as well.

Then it's onto Lonesome Cowboy Burt. Which is pretty much a cheap shot at country boys in the big city, mixed with mocking the idea that masterbation is a sin.

Then it's on to The Torture Never Stops, Pt. 2 which gets into the extended play catagory at 10:47, which is double Pt. 1 almost. And for the most part Frank Zappa is playing the hell out of his guitar. I mean he makes it sing like it's no one elses business.

More Trouble Every Day is a track that dates back to the very first Mothers Of Invension album, however this is the Swaggart Version. It's not like you'd expect if you know the original well.

Penguin In Bondage which is also a Swaggart Version, is one of the few tracks on this album that really caught my attention. This song is listed as being from the Roxy & Elsewhere album, which was a live album too. This is one of the more Rock songs on this album. I mean Zappa always resembles Rock in his way, but this is like some New England styled Rock for a good chunk. With a mix of Big Band and Rock stylings this song is just a pure enjoyment.

After that it gets into what I can only best describe as Experimental Acid Jazz. The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue is the last original Zappa track on this album. Actually, that's not a fair statement. This is the last Mother's Of Invention track on this album. You want to talk about a really fucked up way to go out. I mean this is some pure experimentalism bullshit. You have to really be into really weird and wild Jazz to get into this song. This is like abstract art for the ears, that's meant to blow your brain.

The double disc set concludes with a cover of Led Zeppelin's Stairway To Heaven. There's a deinite Southern Islands kind of feel to this one. Think of the styling Dy'er Mak'er then apply it to Stairway, while keeping the orginal music, but changing the instrumentation. As well as adding some digital sampling. I know the medium to hard core Zeppelin fans may have some issues with this one. I know I was a little put off at first by the cover. But before I was even done the first listen I had developed one hell of a respect for this song. Imagine Zappa doing his own guitar riffs on top of an already musically phenominal song. But, because the rest of the band performs much of the original guitar work it allows Frank to really open up and let it fly. I mean he is throwing out some amazing fills and mini solos the entire song. Then instead of the guitar doing the solo, like one would expect, the horn section gives it. I mean they really give it, and the lead guitar comes back in to lay down the gentle riffs before the song gets heavy. I should mention that when I say heavy I mean Zappa heavy, which is a little different than most people's heavy. It's a great way to close the album, I think.

I would never suggest this album to just the casual music listener. They wouldn't get it, like it, or appreciate it. I wouldn't suggest this album to the basic Zappa listener. They wouldn't get all of it, like some of it, but they might appreciate it. I might suggest it a Zappa fan, as it is a Frank experience, though not what I might call a strong one. I would suggest this album to heavier Frank Zappa fans though, because you have to own it all, and this one is worth the money if you are a true fan.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

4 Non Blondes - Bigger, Better, Faster, More!

The story of this album opens with my daughter. One day she's playing a song on the computer that I recognize as What's Up, which was the only song I have ever actually associated with 4 Non Blondes. However, the song was not the original. It was some techno pop cover bullshit. Well it might not have been that bad, but it wasn't good.

I quickly corrected Ashlee's error in music listening by pointing her to the original, which she promptly proclaimed was so much better. Then one day while in the music store I came across a used copy of Bigger, Better, Faster, More! for a resonable used CD price and picked it up for the kid. It has been in the household CD player ever since. Which is about two or three months now.

I will also say that I'm a bit upset that I never picked this album up when it first came out in 1992. I'm not sure why I didn't, most likely because it wasn't heavy enough for me at the time. However, I get to enjoy it for as long as my little girl still lives at home and that will have to do for now.

The album opens with Train which is a blistering fast accoustic number, full of speed, swagger, and some bitchin' harmonica playing. I seriously could not think of a better way to open an album. I mean this is full out, wild ride on a the train running out of Hell.

It's a bit of a style change for the next song Superfly, which is very funky. It's not soulful funky like one might might find from Parliment or Funkadelic, but it's still got a groove with some slap and tickle on the bass, that sound all kinds of fun.

If I know What's Up?, and my daughter knows What's Up? then the way I see it, you should know What's Up? too. Now, I enjoy listening to this song, but to be honest I've become rather partial to when I jam this one out with my little Ashlerz. It's great listening to her sing the lyrics, while I help out on the chorus from time to time. "25 years of my life and still / Trying to get up that great big hill of hope / For a destination. / I realized quickly when I knew I should / That the world was made for this / Brotherhood of man / For whatever that means / And so I cry sometimes when I'm lying in bed / Just to get it all out, what's in my head / And I, I'm feeling a little peculiar / And so I wake in the morning and I step / Outside and I take deep breath / And I get real high / And I scream to the top of my lungs / What's goin' on? / And I say hey-yeah-yeah-yeah, hey yea yea / I say hey! what's goin' on / And I say hey-yeah-yea-eah, hey yea yea / I say hey! what's goin' on / Oooh, oo! ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo / Oo-ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo / Oooh! ooo-aah-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo / Oo-ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo Whats up? / And I try, oh my God do I try / I try all the time / In this institution / And I pray, oh my God do I pray / I pray every single day / For revolution / And so I cry sometimes when I'm lying in bed / Just to get it all out what's in my head / And I, I'm feeling a little peculiar / And so I wake in the morning and I step / Outside and I take deep breath / And I get real high / And I scream to the top of my lungs / What's goin' on / And I say hey-yeah-yea-eah, hey yea yea / I say hey! what's goin' on / And I say hey-yeah-yea-eah, hey yea yea / I say hey! what's goin' on / And I say hey-yeah-yea-eah, hey yea yea / I say hey! what's goin' on / And I say hey-yeah-yea-eah, hey yea yea / I say hey! what's goin' on / Oooh, oo! ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo / Oo-ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo-ahh-haa / 25 years of my life and still / I'm trying to get up that great big hill of hope / For a destination / Oo-ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoooo". What makes it even more fun is watching Mr. Rock N' Roll Rosbon, and the Guitarist Of Doom Drewcifir get in on the jamming. What can I say it's a fun song, and I'm glad it helped bring me and my kid closer, and isn't that what good music is supposed to do.

Pleasantly Blue is a fun little number that will have you tappin' your toe to some Country Blues inspired Rock. This is a bit Honky Tonk, a bit dirty Blues. Also the guitar solo is pretty damn decent.

I love Morphine & Chocolate and I can't give you a good reason. Well that's not true. I like that the song sounds a bit pretty, like a bunch of Mid West girls making some fun music, but then there's that biting dark edge being brought in. I mean this song is slinky, and musically it teases, but you know that's all you are getting. This song will never get you off, because it's not supposed to. It's just meant to tease the hell out of you. One the other hand it does sound a bit like a female climax when you take the song as a whole.

Spaceman and more mellower sounding Rock seems to be a pretty common theme. David Bowie had his, Biff Naked has hers and 4 Non Blondes has their's, which I think ranks up there with the other two. More so with Biff's and less with Bowie's, but then again no one is Bowie.

Old Mr. Heffer reminds me very much of Guns N' Roses Nice Boys from the Lies album, which was a cover from Rose Tattoo. It's a great tune, but clearly not very original sounding.

I find Calling All the People a bit like generic Red Hot Chili Peppers. It's not bad, but I'm not overly impressed. There is a bit of a cool break down around the middle to end of the song, and an okay solo that adds some flair, but for the most part, not overly impressed.

Here is yet another shining example of my kid not knowing the original version, but a cover instead. However, the cover by Pink of Dear Mr. President is very well done. Then again it should be since some of Pink's best known songs were written by Linda Perry, who also wrote most of the songs on this album, as well as a multitude of other hits songs you know. As for this version of the song. Well, it's your standard protest kind of song. I enjoy it, but recognize that not everyone would.

Drifting is a very basic accoustic song, but it feels and sounds so very powerful coming out of the speakers. It's just captivating and enticing. A real strong song, without having to be overly strong.

No Place Like Home also runs in the funky vein you find on much of this album, and artistically it's really cool, but it's not for eveyone. Some people will really dig this track, and others not so much. If given a choice between this or the last track I would have ended the album with Drifting instead.

When it comes down to it this is a mighty fine album, as long as you are into what is going on. This album is not for everyone, and unless you can enjoy a gentler funkier sound I would just stay clear. If you have an open mind you should give the album a whirl, the first half is enticing, while the second is a mix of homage, artistic sensiblity and some filler.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Doors - The Doors

When it comes to The Doors' self titled debut album, I have long and what feels like an old story about it. I recieved my first copy of this album on cassette. My uncle gave it to me. I had listened to it a few times, but never really got into it. One of my buddy's totally dug on it though, so I gave him the tape. It's wrong for music not to get played.

Years later, while filling up my subscription to one of the music clubs I decided to pick up a copy of the CD and give it a try again. I'll be honest with you. I do really appreciate and enjoy this album, and I totally respect it's place in the great pantheon of Rock, but it's not an album I feel a need to listen to very often.

I love The Doors, it's just that I've discovered over the years that I'm picky choosey about my songs, and my mood can often effect my views on some songs.

The album opens with Break On Through (To The Other Side). Now, while I have to respect the song, I have heard it played so many times that I just really don't want to hear it anymore. But talk about the perfect opening track to an album. It has a great build up, it's real bouncey and it's just an over all good song. I've just heard it too many times, and the song would have been considered old when I first heard it.

Soul Kitchen probably wouldn't be considered Rock if it came out now. At least not based on the opening. This would be Alternative, or Grunge. But because of the way the band worked together, the producer kept the feedback down, and the soul was kept in the song, this groovy track get's to be sub-catagorized as sixties West Coast Rock. You can feel L.A. all over this song. The Crystal Ship is one of those songs that I've never overly paid attention to. It's a fantastic song, and is filled with amazing artistry the whole way through. It's just one of those songs that I've never been drawn into.

I love when a song is sexy, when the music is groovy and dances all on it's own. I don't even need to pay attention to the lyrics on a song that's truly sexy, and that happens with Twentieth Century Fox. Although to be honest I do sing along with this one as well. How can I resist with these lyrics. "Well, she's fashionably lean / And she's fashionably late / She'll never rank a scene / She'll never break a date / But she's no drag / Just watch the way she walks / She's a twentieth century fox / She's a twentieth century fox / No tears, no fears / No ruined years, no clocks / She's a twentieth century fox, oh yeah / She's the queen of cool / And she's the lady who waits / Since her mind left school / It never hesitates / She won't waste time / On elementary talk / 'Cause she's a twentieth century fox / She's a twentieth century fox / Got the world locked up / Inside a plastic box / She's a twentieth century fox, oh yeah / Twentieth century fox, oh yeah / Twentieth century fox / She's a twentieth century fox".

I have an intimate personal working knowledge of Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar), and with that being said, it's a fun song to sing, and it's a great little Polka for those having a good time, but it's not a song I feel a need to listen to often.

We all know Light My Fire, and if you don't you have been robbed in your life time of experiencing a song that has been so over played that I personally would never miss not hearing it again. However, if it's your first time hearing this song you are actually missing out on something. Ray ManZarek's keyboad work on this track is fantastic. Also, it's a catchy tune.

I love when The Doors get that RoadHouse Blues kind of Rock going on, and they totally do that with Back Door Man. This cover track of a Willie Dixon classic is just amazing. It's raw, edgy and totally enjoyable.

I Look At You is one of those songs that to this day I know it to hear it. I can sing along, bop my head and enjoy, but can never remember the name of the track. This is one of those songs that'sjust a good, fun and playful album filler. But it's exactly what I think good album filler should be.

End Of The Night is one of those songs I have to be in a mood for. When I am in the right frame of mind this song can be one of the greatest songs ever written. Sweeping me away on waves of mystical dreaming. If I'm not in the right mood, the song feels forever long and leaves me waiting for the next track to start.

Take It As It Comes is a combination of the last two tracks. It's a really good album filler, but I find myself wanting the song to end sooner than it does. For some reason it really seems to drag on for a fast paced, upbeat number.

Then the album ends with The End. It's a bit cliche for sure, but hey why the fuck not. Especially since this song was so brazen, twisted and barrier smashing at the time. We all know that Jim Morrison is a poet. How much of a poet is debateable amongst many, but that's neither here nor there. I'm stating as a fact he was a poet. This song is one of his greatest epic poems. His words are chosen, precise and hauntingly disturbing. "This is the end / Beautiful friend / This is the end / My only friend, the end / Of our elaborate plans, the end / Of everything that stands, the end / No safety or surprise, the end / I'll never look into your eyes...again / Can you picture what will be / So limitless and free / Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand / In a...desperate land / Lost in a Roman...wilderness of pain / And all the children are insane / All the children are insane / Waiting for the summer rain, yeah / There's danger on the edge of town / Ride the King's highway, baby /Weird scenes inside the gold mine / Ride the highway west, baby / Ride the snake, ride the snake / To the lake, the ancient lake, baby / The snake is long, seven miles / Ride the snake...he's old, and his skin is cold / The west is the best / The west is the best / Get here, and we'll do the rest / The blue bus is callin' us / The blue bus is callin' us / Driver, where you taken' us / The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on / He took a face from the ancient gallery / And he walked on down the hall / He went into the room where his sister lived, and...then he / Paid a visit to his brother, and then he / He walked on down the hall, and / And he came to a door...and he looked inside / Father, yes son, I want to kill you / Mother...I want to...fuck you / C'mon baby, take a chance with us / C'mon baby, take a chance with us / C'mon baby, take a chance with us / And meet me at the back of the blue bus / Doin' a blue rock / On a blue bus / Doin' a blue rock / C'mon, yeah / Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill / This is the end / Beautiful friend / This is the end / My only friend, the end / It hurts to set you free / But you'll never follow me / The end of laughter and soft lies / The end of nights we tried to die / This is the end". However it's Manzarek's Keyboards, and Robby Krieger's Guitar work that really pulls off this track. The textures, sounds, and drifting notations just dance upon the ears and mind in a way that you want to last forever, until it starts to feel like it is. This song is understandably not for everyone, but it totally works for me.

You may have noticed that I never really talk about John Densmore on this album, and there's a reason for this. He's a very good drummer, in the sense that he does what a drummer is supposed to do, he holds the tempo, and give the song a beat. This is twice as important in a band that doesn't have a bassist. However, with the exception of the last song where he acts as more of a percussionist, most of the time he's only a pretty basic drummer. At least as far as this album goes.

When this album finishes it leaves me feeling more satisfied now than it did when I was younger. I think it's because I spend more time actually listening to it now, where as before I would just throw it on. This is an album that you have to listen to.

Just as one last note, Paul A. Rothchild gave this album an amazing sound. You could say that it was this man that was responsible for The Doors' sound the whole way around, since he had produced almost every album after this one. He understood the band, and he knew how to translate their essence into a recording. He did a fantastic job with it.

8/10 - content

9/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Ramones - Adios Amigos

If you are one of my regular readers, you'll know about the four pack of Ramones CDs I picked up. This is the review for the last album in that pack and the last studio album from the leather clad Punk band. But Adios Amigos sends the Ramones off in the right way. While C.J. is the bassist and secondary vocalist, Dee Dee is still the writer of many of the songs. Many having appeared on Dee Dee's solo albums.

I Don't Want to Grow Up is a Tom Waits cover that kicks off the album. Kathleen Brennan is also credited as a writer. This is 2:46 of the Ramones doing that classic Ramones kind of song. It's fast, enjoyable, very singable, and not really Punk except for the fact that it's fast.

I find it funny listening to C.J. singing a Dee Dee tune, but that happens often and in the case of Makin Monsters For My Friends. I love a good Dee Dee penned song. This one is decent, but not quite good. Some of the lyrics make sense but are cheese. "Everybody said so man you could see it on T.V. / They stood there ashamed with nowhere to go / Nobody wants them now the kids are alright / Every day is a holiday and pushin' people around / I'm making monsters for my friends / I'm making monsters for my friends / Someone caught one I could see so myself / I had to call 254 so they wouldn't blame me / We wanted to know how much trouble there was / When we asked our daddy he said it's just because / I'm making monsters for my friends / I'm making monsters for my friends / I don't wanna open a can of worms and / I don't want any Spagetti-Os / And I could always tell when / someone is holding a grudge / I'm making monsters for my friends / I'm making monsters for my / friends / I'm making monsters for my friends / I'm making monsters for my friends ".

It's Not For Me To Know is a dark ballad of sorts. It's one of those ones that I love from Dee Dee. My only problem with this song is the production. It sounds like everyone was recorded separate and poorly at that. It's like they didn't even try to balance the mix.

The Crusher is not a song that I care for. It's the type of punk I have no use for. I find it surprising it was from Dee Dee Ramone's Rap album, it sounds like a lot of Punk I remember hearing in the mid to late nineties. Which I was never a fan of.

Life's a Gas is the first song on the album written by Joey Ramone and you can tell. The lyrics are much more compact, and the song sounds very much like a sped up version of a 1950's Rock band performing at a High School dance. Think Back To The Future.

Take The Pain Away is another Dee Dee track and it's the first one on the album I'm totally okay with. The sound is good, the lyrics are decent, the music is what I like from this band, and it's got a real serious kind of edge to it.

I Love You was originally written by Johnny Thunders. I don't care for this version of the song.

Cretin Family is the second last Dee Dee Ramone track. As a song I think it's interesting and I totally see what they were going for with it. I just don't care for it. It's not right on a Ramones album.

Have A Nice Day is a Marky Ramone song. I'm not sure if this is the only song he penned, but wow nothing like waiting to the last album. Lyrically, it's not bad. Musically, it's pretty basic.

Scattergun is a C.J. Ramone tune. Since this album was released in 1995 I feel I can blame C.J. Ramone personally for some of those horrible Corporate Pop Punk wannabe Emo rockers, like Blink 182. Seriously they all ripped off the basic principle of this song.

Got A Lot to Say is another C.J. Ramone tune. It's got some humour to it, and that's about it.

She Talks To Rainbows could be considered the last song written by Joey Ramone for a Ramones album, and it is so sexy. Seriously this song is amazingly perfect. It's like listening to the band performing in a park at night, under those orange lights, around some kind of tunnel or walled in area. It's just so damn cool.

Born to Die in Berlin is the last Dee Dee Ramone track to appear on a Ramones album, and it's the last track on the album. Dee Dee even appears on the track while singing in German and recorded by phone. The song even clocks in at a solid 3:31 which is rather long for the Ramones. It's worth the listen too.

At the end of the listen I'm not a fan of this album on a song by song basis. She Talks To Rainbows is the only song I would listen to, and probably will listen to on any type of regular basis. However, I can see hard core Ramones fans listening to many of the songs. There's even a few that I might go check out the Dee Dee Ramone version of the songs. You can tell the band was done with the way this album sounds.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Type O Negative - The Least Worst Of

It was odd to see that I've been doing these reviews for over a year now, and yet hadn't written a single Type O Negative review. I've listened to a lot of it in the last year, and made sure to get a regular fix, but not a single review written. So now I give you Type O Negative's The Least Worst Of, and it's great place to start.

If you've never picked up a Type O album this is a great place to start, and if you already have a couple of this Goth band's albums, it's still worth picking this one up. There are previously unreleased tracks which are worth having, alternate versions that are interesting, and edits of longer tracks, that are more radio and listener friendly. In fact there is only one song that appears in the same form as the original album release.

I feel a need to mention that this band has some of the greatest song names. Take the opening title for example. The Misinterpretation of Silence and Its Disastrous Consequences (Wombs and Tombs mix) is 0:39 of silence used to open the album. It's even listed as a remix which would make it different from the original version, which can be found on Slow Deep and Hard. You ask why would they open an album like this, because it's funny. There's a certain humour about the band.

As I've already mentioned and I'll mention many more times, many of these songs are previously unreleased edits, Everyone I Love Is Dead is no exception. I don't listen to World Coming Down all that often, so I couldn't exactly tell you what the difference is. However, this is a great example of Peter Steele's dark and brooding persona. This song is a shining example of everything that is a-typically Goth.

The song that got me into Type O Negative is Black No.1 (Little Miss Scare-All). I had never heard anything like it before and it totally turned me on. I'm not so fond of this way too short version. At 4:34 is pales in comparison to the original epic. They cut whole movements out of this one, that just make the song magical. I would highly suggest the full length version on Bloody Kisses over this one. I'm also not happy about this being a radio friendly edit. I lived for the quiet little "fucking the dead" line. I know, I'm a twisted little sick thing.

It's Never Enough starts up as a brutal funeral durge but then quickly shifts into a full fledge bad ass Rock track, right down to the mix of rapid fire riffing and big open airy chords. This is a track that didn't make it onto the World Coming Down album, and that's a shame for that album, but great for this one. This is one of those songs that has everything you want to hear from this band.

Love You to Death is a little more somberly Goth than I like. Also of all the songs to come from October Rust, this wouldn't have been one of my choices.

My very first introduction to Type O Negative was a cover of the song Black Sabbath which originally appeared on the Black Sabbath tribute Nativity in Black, which I've reviewed in the past. This version featured is Black Sabbath (From the Satanic Perspective) which has Peter Steele performing his own lyrics, which are from the perspective of Lucifer. "Who is she that kneels - so respectfully before me / A virgin of snow white - purity / Do not fear - my fortunate one / Let us consummate our igneous union / Ave ave satanas / Ave ave satanas / Ave ave satanas / Ave ave satanas / I am the shadow - with the eyes, eyes of fire / I will fulfill your every - hellish desire / Come sit on this throne - here beside me and be mine / And we'll watch the flames get higher and higher and higher and / higher... / Ave ave satanas / Ave ave satanas / Ave ave satanas Ave ave satanas / This is just the start dear friends / For i have come to claim revenge / My victims turning, running scared / You people better go and beware / Your weak god can not help you now / Come, we will play in the fire / Worship the sun / Worship no one / Worship the sun / Worship no one / Worship the sun / Worship no one". I like what he did here, and how the song almost becomes it's completely own song, instead of being a cover.

Christian Woman is yet another track that gets the hack and slash treatement. While there are some parts of the original I can understand cutting out, there are others that made no sense. This 4:25 version gives you the idea of what the song is about, but it doesn't give you what this song really is. This version sounds like a nice and polished version meant for the masses, instead of the spiritual sexual awakening that is the original track.

12 Black Rainbows was a b-side to the European single for Everything Dies. While I don't ever find myself wanting to listen to this song, I enjoy every second of it while it's on. This is one of those songs that just kind of sucks you in and keeps you locked in.

That's followed up by My Girlfriend's Girlfriend. How can you not love a song with the following lyrics. "Say "ah" / Say "ah". / It's no secret we're close / As sweaty velcro, / Like latex, fur and feathers / Stuck together / Now. / In their '62 'vette / Sharing one cigarette, / In a black light trance then / Go go dance / Then. / Go go trance / Then. / They keep me warm on cold nights / We must be quite a sight, / In our meat triangle / All tangled. / Wow. / My girlfriend's girlfriend / She looks like you, / My girlfriend's girlfriend / She's my girl too. / Her and me an her and she and me / An uncrowded couple / are we three? / Hey we don't care what people say, / When walking hand in hand down Kings Highway / Two for one today. / My girlfriend's girlfriend / She looks like you / My girlfriend's girlfriend / She's my girl too / My girlfriend's girlfriend / She looks like you / My girlfriend's girlfriend / She's my girl..." The fact that this is the Cheese Organ Mix, doesn't really make a difference. I do notice a difference and like the original better, but it's not that big of a deal.

Hey Pete (Pete's Ego Trip Version) is a cover of Hey Joe, as most people know as a Jimi Hendrix tune. Originally this song was only available as a track on The Origin of the Feces. Where it's presented as a live track, and only a snipit. Like the band decided to bust out a small jam during a live set. I was so happy when this full length version was made available. Kenny Hickey's guitar playing is mesmerising.

Everything Dies opens up really big and heavy with a huge chant of "Who likes vitamins? / I like vitamins!" then progresses into a somber standard from the band. It was because of songs like this that I tend to not listen to World Coming Down very often.

Cinnamon Girl (Depressed Mode Mix) is another time when I do notice the difference between this version and the original found on October Rust. The original is better. As for the Neil Young cover, this version doesn't do the original justice, but the October Rust version does. It's not the same song, but it's an honest cover.

Some songs are angry, and some songs are raging inferno's of hate filled brutality. Unsuccessfully Coping with the Natural Beauty of Infidelity has the distinct priviledge of being in the latter catagory, and having a wickedly cool title that actually forces you to think. Then there's also the 12:29 of non stop profanity that would make a trucker blush. Having your woman cheat on you can really mess with your head. I played this song live once with my close friend Drew as part of our music comedy group, and we were seconds away from causing an out break of estrogen rage. This song is not for everyone, but I love it. The arrangements, and the changes, and the passion, and the pain, and the pure raw honest emotion are just amazing. I feel it should be mentioned that this is the only track on this album that is in it's original release state. There are no edits, remixes or changes.

The album finishes with The Stay Out of My Dreams. This is a delightful little tongue in cheek number about how twisted some people's fantasies can get. At 8:15, this song is the perfect way to finish of the album, especially since it's also a previously unreleased studio recording, from the recording sessions of World Coming Down.

While this album isn't for everyone, It is a solid listen with some really great tracks, and is a solid buy for fans that have all the original studio albums, which is really important. My biggest complaint about this album is the way that Black No. 1 and Christian Woman were cut down from their original length, but I guess that had to be done to allow one of the previously unreleased tracks some space.

8/10 - content

8/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Alice Cooper -Classicks

If you read my review for Alice Cooper Super Hits, you might recognize some of what you read in this article. Some of the tracks are the same.

The Classicks album is half Epic era greatest hits and half live album, taken from the Trashes The World concert. I picked this one up as one of my freebies through either Columbia House or BMG, and it was mainly for the live tracks. I had no need for the studio tracks.

The album opens with Poison. This is the biggest song on this album, and needs to be included for that reason, but I would personally have left it out. I've never been a big fan of the song.

Next is Hey Stoopid, which I love. It's a great song that's just a really a fun listen, right down to Ozzy Osborne's cheap cameo background vocals. This song is dated with it's sound, but I don't care. I think this entire album is underrated, and was messed up through mismanagement. It could have been much bigger.

After that comes Feed My Frankenstein, which is a bit of a joke song to me. It's great during various live performances I've seen, but as it's own studio track I'm not overly impressed. I blame most of it on the lyrical content. "Well, I ain't evil, I'm just good lookin' / Start a little fire, and baby start cookin' / I'm a hungry man / But I don't want pizza / I'll blow down your house / And then I'm gonna eat ya / Bring you to a simmer / Right on time / Run my greasy fingers / Up your greasy spine / Feed my Frankenstein / Meet my libido / He's a psycho / Feed my Frankenstein / Hungry for love / And it's feeding time / You don't want to talk / So baby shut up / And let me drink the wine from your fur tea cup / Velcro candy, sticky sweet / Make my tattoos melt in the heat / Well, I ain't no veggie / Like my flesh on the bone / Alive and lickin' on your ice cream cone / Feed my Frankenstein / Meet my libido / He's a psycho / Feed my Frankenstein / Hungry for love / And it's feeding time".

I feel that Love's A Loaded Gun is just a basic, boring, filler track. This may be the worst song on the Hey Stoopid album. It's a ballad, that shouldn't be a ballad, and if they had included Hell's Living Without You, which is a much better ballad, they could have switched this track out for Wind-Up Toy or Hurricane Years, even Dirty Dreams. All of which would have been better options than this track.

Stolen Prayer is supposed to be like the softer side of Alice. I don't like it. This is yet another song I never would have included. Like seriously why would this one be included but Bad Place Alone is left out? It just doesn't seem right.

I can't say I'm a fan of House Of Fire, but if there had to be one song from the Trash album that would have to be a guilty pleasure it would be this one. I remember hearing it while roller skating at Wheels roller rink when this album first came out. I have to admit that it even has a decent solo.

After that is Lost In America, which is another song that I feel as good about as I do with the opening track. Both are great representations of what Alice was doing at the time, and I understand why some people like them, but they aren't for me.

It a real shame that It's Me and Lost In America are the two tracks that represent The Last Temptation. Of the two I think It's Me is the better. There's more skill and finesse in the playing. While it comes off sounding over produced, it's still a decent track. Probably would have been better if it was done by Aerosmith or Bon Jovi.

When it comes to the live tracks they opted to include all the greatest hits that you want to hear, at least ones that I don't. I'll be honest these tracks are good, but they don't do the songs justice or how Alice really sounds live.

Under My Wheels opens up the live tracks. I can say from personal experience that this is a great opening live track, but the production on this recording doesn't do the song justice. It sounds a bit muddied and Alice is too far ahead in the mix. It's also interesting that it's presented as an opener here, when it's actually a closer for the concert.

After that comes Billion Dollar Babies, which has got to be one of the hardest songs to perform live. Firstly, the vocal timing is rather intense in presentation. Then there's the drumming, which isn't bad, but it's not Neil Smith's original classic. I can live without a live version of I'm Eighteen, or I should say, yet another live version. The first two live tracks, aren't always played live, so it's nice to get live versions, but I'm Eighteen is alway played live. Sometimes the different solos or mid sections can make the song worth while, but in this case I'm not impressed. Also the Coop's vocals aren't the best I've heard from him.

No More Mr. Nice Guy is always fun live, and this is a decent enough version. The band does a really good job playing it.

That then flows seemlessly into Only Women Bleed. Skip it. If you feel a need to listen to the song, then pick it up in the mid section. It's pretty damn good.

Then the live tracks finish up with School's Out. Have you heard this song before? Okay well then enough said.

Now because this album was a free album it wasn't a complete lost cause, and if I had to buy it, I wouldn't want to pay much, but it would be worth picking up for Fire. This is a cover to the Jimi Hendrix classic, which Alice delivers beautifully. I have to say that I would love to see Alice do this one live, but I'll settle for this studio track.

If the studio tracks that made up the first half of the album had been different this would have been a better collection. If you are looking for a best of package with a different vibe to it this one isn't bad. I don't think Id pay more than five bucks for it used, but still a decent listen.

6/10 - content

7/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias