Thursday, October 24, 2013

Green Day - Bullet In A Bible

If you asked me how I would describe Green Day the best description I could give you is Bubble Gum Punk. It's like taking everything that the Ramones tried doing and then doing it all fucked up and wrong. I remember when Green Day Came out, and I couldn't stand them. Firstly I was listening to the likes of Metallica, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, and various other Hard Rock/Metal bands at the time, and these guys were cheap amateur Punk. They didn't even have the rawness of the Sex Pistols, the passion of The Misfits, or the honesty of the Ramones. The only Punk bands I've ever been into. I understand and respect groups like Black Flag and other groups that were Punk because they were just being themselves, it wasn't about image.

Flash foward a decade or more after my introduction to these guys and they are now back in front of the music scene and they are rocking it Emo style. The days of the Punk Rock are done and now it's all about a new form of teenage angst. However, it's still just Bubble Gum Punk, but now wearing mascara and trying to say something. I'm fine with that. I wasn't big on American Idiot, but that's just me. Then they release Bullet In A Bible, which is a live album that documents one of the two biggest shows that Green Day have performed in their career, up to that point. Playing to over 130,000 people at the Milton Keynes National Bowl in the United Kingdom. While that should impress me, it really doesn't.

The album opens with American Idiot, a live track that clocks in at 4:32. I thought Green Day was supposed to be a Punk band. I know this is what the media have been telling me for years. But here I am listening to a song that's long, has a cheap guitar solo, and one riff that runs pretty much the entire thing. I mean what the hell. The riff is a bit catchy, though.

Then we move on to Jesus of Suburbia. This song clocks in at 9:23, and this has nothing to do with it being live. I know that the original version is the same damn length, or close to it. That's epic-ish for many normal Rock bands, for a Punk band this is a magnum opus. I do find this song interesting as I listen to it now. The change ups actually make the band sound somewhat musically inclined.

Then it's on to Holiday. Of all the songs I was forced to listen to from American Idiot, this is the one I minded the least. This is just a live sounding version of that song, and it's nothing overly impressive.

Are We the Waiting, is the first song on the live album that clocks in under three minutes. I can understand why so many teens of the time identified with this song. I also understand why this song has been forgotten over the years.

St. Jimmy is some classic Punk styling. In the most basic generic definition of the word.

I have a slight affection for Longview because I like the bass riff, as simple as it is, it a great jam kind of thing that he's got going on, but I will have some fun and karaoke this one from time to time.

If you aren't paying attention it's real easy to overlook Hitchin' a Ride. It just sounds like another classic standard riff being popped out by this band.

I have no clue how much time my friends and I spent mocking Brain Stew. While I listen to this I remember why. In my passage of time I've grown slightly nostalgic about Basket Case. It's sick and wrong to feel this way, but all the same it's at least making the song enjoyable.

From a live perspective King for a Day / Shout is a great live medley. This being Shout written and originally performed by The Isley Brothers, not the one by the British band. It's Green Day working the crowd in a really good way that works with what they like to do.

Then it's on to the one song that makes me hate this band. Wake Me Up When September Ends, was one of the most over played radio ballads I've heard since the eighties. Really this is just like all those power ballads by Poison, or White Lion.

Then it's on to Minority. It's a much better live track than it was as a studio track, you get the true vibe of what the song is supposed to be.

Boulevard of Broken Dreams isn't a bad track in retrospect. It relies entirely on the guitar's tremelo effect.

Talk about ending the show with the most over played song ever by this band. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) sadly is going to be one of those songs that people remember for a very long time, and it's all for the wrong reasons. Mainly how over played it was that it just got forced into the mainstream culture like a pig on a spit. But it's the perfect way to end the show.

I would never own this album. I clearly don't care for Green Day and my prejudice is showing. On the other hand I feel that I am at least half fair about how overly simplified this band is, while dragging it out way too long at times.

However, to be fair as a live album it works, and if I were into Green Day I would feel a need to own this album, because it would be worth it. I don't score the production well, but that's mainly because this is a very basic live recording I find.

7/10 - content

6/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias

Monday, October 21, 2013

AC/DC - BallBreaker

AC/DC's Ballbreaker is one of those albums I love because of warm fuzzy memories, not so much because it was a great album. To be honest, this album is pretty much a teenage wet dream with a few other songs thrown in for texture. I realize that the band is known for releasing the same album over and over again, and to the casual listener that's true, but when it comes to this album it gets a bit generic.

Once I get to my favourite song on the album, you'll question what was said above. However, that doesn't happen for quite a while.

The album opens with Hard As A Rock, which lyrically is juvenile at best, and I don't care, but musically has a great build up and musical presence. Right away the musical production grabs me. It's simple, but effective. Everything sounds clear and the bass really fills out the low end giving a very full sound.

Cover You In Oil is basically soft core porn, with a very basic AC/DC boogie woogie back beat. "I like to slip into something good / I see a young girl in the neighborhood / The way she move, I must confess / I like to run my hands up and down her legs / The way she dress, she look so fine / I'll make her wet, gonna make her mine / She like it hard, she don't like it slow / All right honey, come on lets go / Baby, feel what you want, it's the way she move / Baby, feel what you need, so come on let's go / Cover you in oil / Let me cover you in oil / I wanna cover you in oil / Let me cover you in oil / Yeah / Pull on the zip, she give good lip service / It's nothing for the show, I just pay to see her go / She make you hot, you spray your lot / So come on in honey, we're headin' to the top / The way she push, she don't give a dime / Abuse your life, gonna make you satisfied / She's kinda rough, she give it tough / Come on honey and strut your stuff / Baby feel what you want, it's the way she move / Baby, feel what you need, come on let's go / Cover you in oil / Cover you in oil / I wanna cover you in oil / Let me cover you in oil / Let's go / Ooooh yeah / Yeeeeeeeah / Feel what you want / It's the way she move / Feel what you need / So come on let's go - yeah / Cover you in oil / Cover you in oil / Let me cover you in oil / I wanna cover you in oil / I wanna cover you in oil / Cover you in oil / Cover you in oil / Cover you in oil / Cover you / In oil".

I enjoy the dark vibe and feel to The Furor, it has a great S&M overtone to it, or maybe you could look at it more as D&S in some dark Rock club. This is some really good Rock, though. In the grand scheme of Hard Rock it may be deemed as forgettable, but it's still enjoyable when it's on.

Boogie Man is great as a live track, but on the album it's a bit of a cliche. Enjoyable, but such a typical song from the boys from down under.

I totally forgot The Honey Roll was on this album.

Burnin' Alive is a really good album track. If this song had appeared on Back In Black, or Highway To Hell, For Those About To Rock or even High Voltage it would have been a fantastic filler track. On this album it's still a fantastic filler track, but it's fantastic filler on an album that could be mainly considered decent filler.

Hail Caesar is honestly the first song on the album that I would have considered a full fledged single worthy song. It wouldn't have been a top ten song, but it would have been a solid top fifty, maybe a top twenty. It would be a weaker best of track, if you went for total band coverage, but only because of the greats it would be going up against.

Musically, Love Bomb isn't bad. Lyrically, I don't want to really get into it. I think this song really suffers from that content.

Caught With Your Pants Down is a decent enough album filler. The lyrical content gives you a good clue about what's going on with this song, but it's not as raunchy as other tracks can be. This is more like a taunting kind of track. Like the guys in the locker room are making fun of the guy caught cheating on his wife.

Whiskley On The Rocks is honestly a really decent AC/DC drinking tune. This is another song that could easily be switched into another album from this band and it would work just as well as, or if not better than, the song you are subbing this for. Based on switching it for another drinking tune of course.

Now I like when an album ends on a high note, and as far as I'm concerned this album does. It saved the best for last. The most naughty, dirty minded, Hard Rock, ball bustin' and callin' it a good time track finishes off this album with flying clolours. "Breakin' balls, Bangin' walls / Work hard and tough, and I want some rough / Unpack my bags, and take a drag / When bang on nine, and [I'm] dead on time / Open up the door / And lay upon the floor / She open her overcoat / Livin' out her dreams / Rippin' off my jeans / You are a Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker / Engine roll, and time to go / A razorback, a hog attack / [I'm] Buildin' steam, [for] whippin' cream / She likes a fat, smokin' stack / Hangin' off her legs / She threw me on the bed / Her hand went for my throat / As I began to choke / She said, Honey shoot your load [Honey shoot your load] / You are a Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker / Yeah / Wreckin' ball, let it roll / You are a Ballbreaker / Buildin' steam, for whippin' cream / You are a Ballbreaker / Hangin' off her legs / She threw me on the bed / Her hand went for my throat / As I began to choke / Honey shoot your load / You are a Ballbreaker / You are a Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker / Ballbreaker". I'm sure my love for this song says a lot about my character, but when you mix in the music, the solo's not anything to write about, but the rest of the instrumentation is punchy, heavy, thick, and full. This is my You Shook Me All Night Long, except for darker and dirtier.

If this album contained only Hard As A Rock, The Furor, Boogie Man, Hail Caesar, Whiskey On The Rocks, and Ballbreaker, I would rate it higher than I feel it deserves now. However, there's only two tracks on this album I ever go out of my way to listen to at all and those are the last two tracks. To me the biggest draw to this album is the production. I would have loved to have heard the band re-record some of the Bon Scott era tracks during the studio time, just to get that sound on classic tunes. It would have sounded like the perfect modern adaptation.

6/10 - content

8/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Birth Of Surf

I have a thing for Surf music. Most of it comes from an early love of The Beach Boys, that could be described as slightly obsessional at the time. However, over the years I supressed that love due to bowing under the pressure of my peers. Finally I broke down one day and picked this album and decided to let surf fill my heart and mind. I'm very happy that I did too.

One of my favourite parts about the album is the fact that the album is completely instrumental. It's great to hear all the clear and distinct lead guitar work, and early soloing. Almost every song is done by a different artist, and every track has a clear connection to the beach, and it's mystical surf. I should cover the artists/musicians that make up this album, but I really would rather focus on just the music. If you want to know about the artists you should pick up the album, and read the large booklet inside.

Ramrod opens up the album setting the tone for things to come. This is the type of track that should get you moving and shaking and if it doesn't there's something wrong with you. Sure it sounds dated production wise, but that doesn't change how much boogie there is in this one.

Crossfire follows that up. This is a track you should instantly recognise if you have watched any movies featuring sixites music, or if you are a Quinton Terintino fan. The track brings fast, furious and with some full and pure musical pleasure, all in under two and a half minutes.

Bulldog sounds a bit too much like Beach Blanket Party With The Bingo Mama's, or something like that. This is one of those tracks that I feel doesn't do Surf music the justice it's due.

Moon Dawg is totally wicked cool. I mean this song takes you somewhere, and it's fantastic. This is the type of moving music that make this type of Rock so appealing to me.

Lullaby Of The Leaves I feel defines the true sadness of surfers in places where Autum exists. It illicits emotions like good music should and conjures images of leaves gently falling on the ocean while hot rods pull away into the cool air.

Mr. Moto is enjoyable, but I feel it's just decent filler, or an unintentional lead into the much more musically interesting Jack the Ripper. This one really sounds like some wave shredding, but like the surfer is stalking the waves before taking them down.

Latin'ia is wicked sweet with some reverb that is killer for effect, especially for it's time. This one has me thinking of moon light dancing on the gentle night water ripples, and that special woman wearing a sheer light material dress.

Bustin' Surfboards is another classic that has been in a Terintino flick. This song is just some good honest fun.

El Toro is another track that doesn't do much for me. I know this one from a few different places, but I've never been very big on it.

Miserlou is a song that I do agree could be classified as the true birth of Metal. It's fast, furious, blisteringly in your face, and totally rapid fire mayhem. It's pure musical genious wrapped up with a horn section that lets you know you are going to like being slapped around by this track.

Pipeline is a great go between for the last track and the next track.

There is one instrumental Surf song that everyone should know and that's Wipeout. If you don't know this one your parents have done something wrong in your upbringing. I love this song. I know many people that don't and many that mock, but they don't know shit about shit and can piss off.

Surf Rider is the longest song on the album coming in at 3:19, while some tracks don't even crack two minutes. This is another track that's pretty well known. This is a great tune and totally enjoyable. Another track I know that Quinton fans would know well. I also love how much of a journey this song just naturally take you on.

Latin Soul sounds a little too militant for me. It's like "The Man" is trying to crash the big luau.

Jezebel is a little basic with it's sound only in the sense that it contains a little of everything, and it works as a great blend.

Baja kind of blends into the mix in a way that with the last sound just seems like an on running generic track. Earthquake has a little more passion and vibe to it. This is a track that does stand out, but it's not one that I find personally appealing.

Beaver Patrol is one of those songs that sounds like it clearly inspired the Ramones instrumentally. At least from my point of view. However, on this album it just sort of blends in.

Squad Car is back to more of the music telling a story and less of the sound Surf for the sake of sound Surf. It's a little too slap stick comical sounding to me, but it's great all the same.

I'm not sure what to say about Fiberglass Jungle, other than it kind of disappears into the mix. This goes with the next track Gypsy Surfer as well, and carries on with Let There Be Surf. But Let There Be Surf is another song that you may remember hearing in various movies over the years. It's very beach associated.

Next up is El Gato which is another track I know I know but I'm not sure where from. This is one of those tracks that I could do without. It's Surf for the sake of being Surf.

Penetration is yet another one that I know I know. I really dig this one, though. To be honest this one is all kinds of surfing sexuality.

Surf Creature finishes of the album. This track was a total discovery and I'm so glad I did. This track is totally mystic and sweet. I love the way it flows and feels and the inner call that it brings. This is the story of the Creature that protects the surfers rest at night.

I was so happy I picked up this album. It was a guilty pleasure I decided to indulge in and have taken a whole new frame of mind away from it. It's like returning to my early roots of musical influence.

For it's time the production on a lot of these tracks is really killer. I would personally love to record covers that at the bare minimum is directly inspired by some of these songs, if not exact replications. Just to be able to have access to the range of tracks that they didn't. The remastering on these tracks is decent, but you can only take the original recording so far.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Alice Cooper - Billion Dollar Babies

There are some albums you listen to over and over, and some albums that just naturally get ingrained in your head without even trying. If you catch me on a good day when the wind is blowing right down through Mexico, oh, ohh, ohh, I can sing this album note for note. Not just word for word, and I'll even include some of those hidden moments you can only catch with head phones.

Is this Alice Cooper's best album? I don't think so. If you've read some of the past reviews in regards to albums by my heroes, the group that inspired me to want to be a musician and a performer, you should know what I consider Alice Cooper's crowning achievement. This album, however, is an album that any serious music listener should own.

There are some flaws to this album, and I want to point those out right at the start, just so we can get it out of the way. The first is that this album is missing the musical depth of it's predecessor, School's Out. This album, for the most part, is a straight ahead Rock album. There are a few exceptions, because every Alice album must have a few. When that follows an album with some really smokin' Jazz inspired riffs, it's a bit of a let down for the musical snob in me. However, it's time to get into the album, which covers my only other problem.

"Hello! Hooray! Let the show begin / I've been ready / Hello! Hooray! Let the lights grow dim / I've been ready / Ready as this audience that's coming here to dream / Loving every second, every moment, every scream / I've been waiting so long to sing my song / I've been waiting so long for this thing to come / Yeah - I've been thinking so long I was the only one / Roll out! Roll out your American dream and its rescuits / I've been ready / Roll out! Roll out your circus freaks and hula hoops / I've been ready / Ready as this audience that's coming here to dream / Loving every second, every movement, every scream / I've been waiting so long to sing my song / I've been waiting so long for this thing to come / Yeah - I've been thinking so long I was the only one / I can stand here strong and thin / I can laugh when this thing begins / God, I feel so strong / I feel so strong / I'm so strong / I feel so strong / So strong / God, I feel so strong / I'm so strong". Really, can you think of a better way lyrically to kick off an album. I will admit this is an Alice song I could do without (my last complaint), but it is an amazing opener. Even live it gets you up on your feet and pumped up. I guess I should also mention this is a cover, the original was done by Rolf Kempf. This may be part of the reason this isn't one of my favourites.

Next up on the album is Raped And Freezin'. Musically this song is bit on the light hearted side, while the lyrical theme is actually quite serious and a bit frightning, as well as ahead of it's time. The production, though, really has you believing that Alice is running for his safety in a gender bender well before it's time. "Finally got a ride, some old broad down from Santa Fe. / She was a real go-getter. / She drawled so sweetly, "I think, child, that things'll get better." / We pulled off the highway, night black as a widow. / "Yes, I read the Bible," she said, "I wanna know of you." / Hey, I think I've got a live one, / Hey, I think I've got a live one, Yeah, Yeah, / I think I've got a live one. / Felt like I was hit by a diesel or a greyhound bus. / She was no baby-sitter. / "Get up, sugar, never thought you'd be a quitter." / I opened the back door, she was greedy. / I ran through the desert, she was chasin'. / No time to get dressed, so I was naked, stranded in Chihuahua. / Hey, I think I've got a live one, / Hey, I think I've got a live one, / Hey, hey, I think I've got a live one, / Alone, raped and freezin', / Alone cold and sneezin', / Alone down in Mexico, / Alone."

Elected proves that sometimes it's okay for a band to rip off their own music. On the first Alice Cooper album, Pretties For You, there is a song called Reflected. It was a very wicked and cool track all on it's own. However, the band opted to pull the core riff from that song and re-use it to create a whole new song, that generations can easily enjoy. You don't even have to be American, like one might think, based on the lyrics.

By musical trade I'm a Drummer first, vocalist second and bassist third. Billion Dollar Babies is one of those landmark songs that belongs in that first group. The drum riff in this song may be one of the greatest, and toughest Rock beats to play. I don't try to do it often, as it's a pain in the ass, but from time to time I give it a go and shake my head and remember why Neil Smith is one of the most under rated drummers in the industry.

For many people a trip to the dentist is a horrifying ordeal. Unfinished Sweet not only captures the nightmare of that experience, but I also find it adds a fun bounce trip to it as well. There's this really fun springy, spronging kind of noise, that almost sounds like someone twanging on an elastic band. I actually like to think of this song as poetry in motion. "Candy everywhere, got chocolate in my hair / Aching to get me / Stickly sweet suckers in the Halloween air / Aching to get me / Saint Vitus dance on my morals tonight / Aching to get me / Aching to get me, get me oh... / Take it to the doc, I guess he ought to know / La, la, la, da / Which ones can stay, which one gotta go / He looks in my mouth and then he starts to gloat / He says me teeth are O.K. / But my gums got to go / Oh oh... / I come off the gas but I'm still seeing spies / Aching to get me / I can see them all through a glassy pair of eyes / Aching to get me / De Sade's gonna live in my mouth tonight / La, da, da, da, da / And the rotten tooth fairy is satisfied / La, da, da, da, da / Aching to get me, get me oh..."

Now if you are a basic run of the mill listener, and it's vinyl that you are using as the medium for your audio worship you'll most likely throw on side one and then call it a day. However, as a hardcore Alice Cooper fan I go straight to side two. That's where the real good stuff is. The real art, skill and talent of The Master.

I love No More Mr. Nice Guy. This is the ultimate losin' it and getting even kind of song. This is bad ass bad boy Rock at it's wildest. Lyrically I can relate to this one, like only the weird kids in the school can. "I used to be such a sweet, sweet thing / Until they, got a hold of me / I opened doors for little old ladies / I helped the blind to see / I got no friends 'cause they read the papers / They can't be seen, with me, and I'm getting real shot down / And I'm, feeling mean / No more Mister Nice Guy / No more Mister Cle-he-he-hean / No more Mister Nice Guy / They say he's sick, he's obsce-he-he-hean / I got no friends 'cause they read the papers / They can't be seen, with me, and I'm getting real shot down / And I'm, I'm getting mean / No more Mister Nice Guy / No more Mister Cle-he-he-hean / No more Mister Nice Guy / They say he's sick, he's obsce-he-he-hean / My dog bit me on leg today / My cat clawed my eye / My mom's been thrown out of social circle / My dad's had to hide / I went to church incognito / When everybody rose, the Reverend Smithy / He recognized me and / Punched me in the nose, / He said,No more Mister Nice Guy / No more Mister Cle-he-he-hean / No more Mister Nice Guy / They said, your sick, your obsce-he-he-hean / No more Mister Nice Guy / No more Mister Cle-he-he-hean / No more Mister Nice Guy / They said, your sick, your obsce-he-he-he-he,-he-he-he-he, / -he-he-he-he-hean".

Next up is Generation Landslide. The original version. While I'm not a huge fan of the song I do love singing the lyrics, especially during the "La da da da daa" part. It's one of those songs that's just a great slap in the face to all those annoying money hungry nut jobs that have no clue that there is a bubble that can and will pop.

The very first Alice Cooper song I could ever sing and play musically at the same time was Sick Things. To this day I'm still pretty solid at handling the bass and the vocals at the same time, and if I had another two arms would try and do the drums at the same time. This isn't a complex song, and to the casual listener it sounds like Alice just being creepy. However, this is one of those songs that I truly believe was meant to be played live and to freak the audience out.

Mary Ann, is a great dynamic shift that has a real bite of humour to it. "Mary-Ann, I'm really crazy about you, deed I am / I just can't live without you, Mary-Ann / Mary-Ann / Mary-Ann / My life was built around you / Stars and sand, your eyes were pools of laughter, Mary-Ann / I thought you were my man". This song is also the perfect way to break up two very dark and ominous songs.

The album then ends with one of my favourite songs. I Love the Dead is one of the greatest tributes to one of the most depraved sexual taboos, Necrophelia. It's not even tongue in cheek like other tracks with the same subject matter, this one slaps you right in the face with one of the happiest chorus' I've ever heard. I mean you can hear the ear to ear loving smile with every repeat of the line "I love the dead". The verses on the other hand are creepy as fuck. "I love the dead before they're cold / Their bluing flesh for me to hold / Cadaver eyes upon me see nothing / I love the dead before they rise / No farewells, no goodbyes / I never even knew your now-rotting face / While friends and lovers mourn your silly grave / I have other uses for you, darling!", then there's the repeating "I love the dead" which is sung around eighteen times. Then it's back to the creep show. "I love the dead before they're cold / Their bluing flesh for me to hold / Cadaver eyes upon me see... nothing!" Then the album ends.

By the time this album ends everytime I put it on I feel used and empty, at least when I'm home by myself. I don't just listen to this album, I perform along. Seriously, this is an album you should own. Ney, must own, or else you can't be considered a true fan of music. You see I had to get past all the gushing about the obvious BS before I could get into the best part about this album.

Michael Bruce delivers top notch guitar work on this album, and if Glen Buxton hadn't been in such a state because of substance abuse the guitar parts might have had more punch. However, instead the ledgendary producer opted to pull the guitars back a bit in the mix on many songs for vibe and ambience, which was genious. Especially when you add in the extra guitar efforts of Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter.

I know I mentioned Neil Smith's drumming on Billion Dollar Babies, but that's not the only track where he shines. His rhythmic, yet far from standard, approach is what helps bring so much of this album to life. This album is one of the reasons that man is one of my favourite drummers of all time.

Then to round out the musicians is Dennis Dunnaway. The only reason Dunnaway is not my favourite bassist of all time is because of Geddy Lee and Cliff Burton. This is also a bassist that understood the bassist drummer dynamic so well that he would boast that he didn't need to hold down the low end, because Smith did it well enough. Instead Dennis works the entire bass and keeps the rhythm very tight and full.

Bob Ezrin is the name I will use to finish off talking about the album. The man is a production genious and if ever there was a time I was able to record an album he is the man I would want. The album is full of texture, vibe, passion, mood, mood, and yet still more mood. Every song comes across as surealist audio painting and it is a hundred percent because of this Canadian Producer. Just listen to the last track with headphones on and you will quickly understand what I'm talking about.

Now please, just go buy the album and enjoy.

9/10 - content

10/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Iron Buttery - Scorching Beauty

My dad introduced me to Iron Butterfly, and of course the album he used as my introduction was In-A-Godda-Da-Vida, which is a great album. It has so many warm fuzzy memories for me. Then I later found Heavy on my own. An album which I find so much more enjoyable and heavier, which is funny since is was the bands first album. So, when I picked up Scorching Beauty I should have known that even more of the heavy would have been stripped out.

Scorching Beauty isn't a bad album, but it does suffer from a few problems. The first is that the only actual original member of the band at this point is drummer Ron Bushy, and none of his drumming sounds as inspired as it had on the band's first two albums. After that is the fact that keyboardist Doug Ingles isn't on this album and you can't help but notice the difference that makes. Finally, there is also the fact that this album sounds like it could have been recorded by any Hippy West Coast band, instead of one of the heaviest bands to ever come out of the U.S. Seriously, if Heavy and In-A-Godda-Da-Vida had been released in the 1990's it would have made anything Metallica released sound like kids music. That's not the case with this album, though.

This album sounds more like Jefferson Airplane if they had started in the seventies instead of the sixties, and didn't have any female vocals. Promissing to some I'm sure, but not inspired at all. Well, that might not be totally fair. There is real thought behind some of the tracks, and if I'm wrong I'm mistaking cheap gimmickery for musical thought, planning and production.

The album opens with 1975 Overture which sounds like the bunny rabbits and unicorns are marching off to war against raccoons and pandas. Their weapons will be rainbows and non-allergenic flowers. Really this song sets a bad tone for the album, and really sounds like it should be at the end of the album instead.

Up next is Hard Miseree sounds like it could be right out of the Grandfunk Railroad catalog. The bass rumbles, the drums drive, and the guitar lays down some sharp chorded riffs. My only complaint about this track is how far forward the vocals are in the mix. Everything else sounds slightly compressed, including the keyboards, which have a pretty cool solo that should have been exploited better.

High on a Mountain Top is a complete waste of album space. This track features a vocal change up for the worst. I have no clue what they were thinking with this song, but it wasn't about releasing quality material. I mean this one is seriously a steaming pile, that can only be best described as a left over from Ringo Star's worst album post Beatles. Also, please keep in mind Ringo had nothing to do with this song.

Am I Down is the first song that reminds me of the Iron Butterfly that I know, but mellower and more relaxed than you would have found on the album from the previous decade. It's like listening to Are You Happy or Possession, but with slide guitar and a slightly Pop-ish vocal presentation. Still a decent enough tune all the same.

By the time the first half of the album has completed I'm kind of doing a big WTF!? Am I Down is the only song so far I'm really digging on, and the rest of the album doesn't sound anything like Iron Butterfly. It's almost a giant slap to the face to the fans. It makes me very happy I became a fan at a later time.

People of the World kicks off the second half of the album. At this point it's like a full flight on wild ride that's a mix between Jefferson Airplane and Nazareth. I'm not talking about the good Rock stuff either. It's more like the cheap album filler stuff, that's meant for an easy radio grab.

By the time I reach Searchin' Circles I'm shaking my head and wondering what the fuck is up with the heavy tremelo on the vocals. They have a great effect on this specific song, but because of the over use I'm a bit annoyed. My only complaint with this song is that the organ is a little too funeral like. Not in a cool gloom way either. More in the really quiet and boring let's not disturb anyone sort of way.

Pearly Gates reminds me of Jethro Tull, and good Tull at that. This song actually may be the one song on this album that I find impressive. This is the direction I see this band going in after In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Once again the vocals are way too far forward in the mix, but other than that it's a good solid tune.

I don't mind Lonely Hearts. It's a decent enough song, but most definitely out of time. It reminds me of 1950's Rock (think Jerry Lee Lewis), mixed with a late sixties Garage Rock sound, and some intense rocking out found in seventies Prog.

The album ends with Before You Go. Which doesn't do much for me. It's like one of those really slow and drawn out Eagles tunes, if it was produced to sort of sound like The Beatles. Musically the song does get really good around the mid section and turns into a great jam. This instrumental section may be one of the best parts of this album.

It's easy to see why this album ended up being a commercial flop. It never should have been released under the Iron Butterfly name. From my point of view it isn't a Butterfly album, and it's pretty much a few guys sponging off the name. In fact the perfect way to describe this album would be expensive demo. I think what hurt this album the most was production, and song selection. I will have to find the other album that was released the same year as this one and find out if that is where all the good music went.

5/10 - content

4/10 - production

7/10 - personal bias