Thursday, May 29, 2014

House Of 1000 Corpses - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Let me start by explaining the layout of this album. There are twenty-five tracks with only ten being music. Some of the songs are a bit of an introduction to the next track, others are just great little soundbites from the movie.

The ten songs that make up the album are a great little mix of tracks. Everything from the title track, that had been previously available on Sinister Urge, along with 3 filler tracks that are still pretty damn good, an original that I love, and a cover, performed by the movie's writer and director, Rob Zombie, to Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue from the Ramones, to I Wanna Be Loved By You performed by Helen Kane. Sure the album is mainly Rob Zombie music, but when the budget is tight, and trying to get the movie out in theaters is already complex enough, you have to make life easy for yourself somewhere.

The album opens with Howdy Folks, which is a commercial, and the perfect way to open this album. It sets up everything perfectly, including the album and movie's title track House of 1000 Corpses. I love this song. It's one of my all time favourite Rob Zombie songs, and is in my personal top 100 can't live without list. This song is everything I love about Shock Rock, and because it's Zombie you know it's big, thick, heavy and you can totally groove to it.

Saddle Up the Mule is just a small humourous clip that leads into Everybody Scream (Theme from Dr. Wolfenstein's Creature Double Feature Show), which is a good and fun track, but really feels like a left over from a recording session. It's the type of song you expect Rob to release as a soundtrack filler. A fun and enjoyable track, but filler all the same.

Stuck in the Mud is a really long soundscape from the movie. It's all vibe and ambience, and runs direct into the next talking track Holy Miss Moley, which is the lamest so far.

The next song Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass? performed by Buck Owens. It's a nice little ditty, with a nice overall double entendre, but other than in a mix I have no need for this song. But once again if you've seen the movie, you know why this song works.

The next song comes right away, but still opens with a little talking, as you expect from a Zombie tune. Run, Rabbit, Run, is another Rob Zombie filler track. However, let me be very clear, I will take a Zombie filler over pretty much any other filler for one major reason. It's still got so much groove and sexiness to it that you can't help but to wiggle your tush, and bop your head. Rob is the entire reason why Metalheads should know how to move their body.

Into the Pit is yet another excerpt soundscape, and it does the same thing the last soundscape did, and puts you in horror mode. You could call it the movies score all most.

Something for You Men is a talking clip that sets up the next song perfectly. I Wanna Be Loved by You performed by Helen Kane, which is one of those songs that would most likely be lost on most of today's generation, and a good chunk of my own. However, I am glad it's on this soundtrack. It's cute, fun, and let's face it, a total reminder of Betty Boop, which I'm more than fine with.

It's interesting hearing Pussy Liquor open with a talking bit that's part of the song and not on the album. The other version I have of this song, doesn't have that. Now while the lyrical content of the song may be offensive to around half the English speaking population, I think Rob Zombie did a stellar job with this song. This is yet another song that I just would hate having to live without. It's just so much fun and so damn enjoyable. I love every part of this song's soundbites, the deep groove of the music, the way the piano drives the entire overall sound and feel of the song, eventhough it barely does anything, and to be honest the lyrics are fucking great as far as I'm concerned "Give me a 'B', Give me a 'A', /Give me a 'B', Give me a 'Y', / Whats that spell, Whats that spell, / Whats that spell, baby / Earl had a baby, Baby was her name / He knew she was crazy, Tiny was the same. / Down behind the shed slaughterin' the hog / Slice along the belly, feed her to the dog. / 1,2,3 Who should I kill? / Every motherfucker running up the hill. / 1,2,3 What should I do? / Get fucked up and fuck up a'you / Pussy Liquor / Make me sicker / Pussy Liquor / Do it quicker / Yeah we liked to get fucked up, (fucked up) / Yeah i like to get fucked up too / Yeah I bet you do / Yeah we liked to get fucked up, (fucked up) / Yeah i like to get fucked up too / Yeah I bet you do / Dane had a baby Otis was his name / white as a ghost, totally insane. / Otis loves the girls young and clean / drowning in a bucket of gasoline. / 1,2,3 Who should I kill / every motherfucker runnin' up the hill. / 1,2,3 What should I do, / get fucked up and fuck up a'you / Pussy Liquor / Make me sicker / Pussy Liquor / Do it quicker / Yeah we liked to get fucked up, (fucked up) / Yeah I like to get fucked up too / Yeah I bet you do / Yeah we liked to get fucked up, (fucked up) / Yeah I like to get fucked up too / Yeah I bet you do / Don't you know something / He won't tell / Gone all night / Send them to a hell / Burnin' in the house / Spirits are alive / A tongue lashing mama / Help 'em to survive / 1,2,3 Who should I kill? / Every motherfucker running up the hill / 1,2,3 What should I do? / Get fucked up and fuck up a'you / Pussy Liquor / Make me sicker / Pussy Liquor / Do it quicker".

Scarecrow Attack is movie scoring for sure this time. There are really no movie noises in this one at all, and could be moved around between any movie in it's genre, because it just works that well.

My Baby Boy is the lead in more or less for the next song, which I've covered before. Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue review can originally be found in my review of the Ramones self titled debut album. "I like bits and pieces of Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue. I don't care for the song over all, and I don't understand why so many people like it so much. It's just a really odd song to me." That still pretty much covers it. However, I do get why Rob included it in the movie. It's the right kind of song for this kind of movie. It's raw, abraisive, and in your face.

Investigation and the Smokehouse is another piece of scoring, that sounds like it could be an in between track on a Rob Zombie album. That leads into Bigger the Cushion which is a nice bit of crude humour. Which then leads into I Remember You performed by Slim Whitman. While all these old time songs make sense on this soundtrack, especially if you've seen the movie, it makes me think that Zombie actually is a fan of all this old country sounding stuff.

Then we get Drive Out the Rabbit, which is Rob's wife Sheri Moon Zombie, a voice all fans of Rob should know well, terrifying a woman with a quick story, to set the mood the next movie score piece, Mary's Escape. Then you'd think that the next movie excerpt you hear is connected to this track, because of the way it all flows, but in fact it's the opening to Little Piggy, which is the next Rob Zombie song on the album. This is Rob Zombie doing what Alice Cooper used to do back in the early seventies. Which would be taking that deep, creepy, slinky, and a little slimey style and sound that comes from Jazz, and applying it to Rock. I could easily picture this song on the School's out album.

Ain't the Only Thing Tasty and Dr. Satan are nothing more than time killers leading into one hell of a killer cover. Brick House 2003 performed by Rob Zombie, featuring Lionel Richie and Trina. It's not hard picturing Rob doing this song, and it's not hard to say that Zombie does it up right. Seriously it's a funky, groovy track to start with, and then you give it to Rob so he can make it heavy, and of course it's going to work. I can even enjoy the rap section peformed by Trina because it works that well with the song, and really makes it that much sexier, and this song is all about being sexy. Also from what I gather Mr. Richie never sang on the original Commodores version.

To the House finishes off the album album with another movie score/soundscape track. It works as a closer.

By the time everything is said and done I'm very happy with this album. I never would have picked it up at full price when it first came out, but the second hand copy I picked up for low, low price, in a discount bin, was more than worth it. Actually I would have been willing to pick this album up for anywhere up to fifteen bucks new. It's a great conbination of songs, scores and talking bites, for the average fan, and perfect for Rob Zombie fans, that can handle some other stuff that they normally wouldn't listen to. It's also really good in a mix.

7/10 - content

7/10 - production

9/10 - personal bias

Monday, May 19, 2014

Steve Vai - Alien Love Secrets

Alien Love Secrets was the very first Steve Via album I bought. I picked it up because of a song called Bad Horsie that I heard on the radio one time only, which is complete bullshit, and decided if I ever found the album I would pick it up. This was long before the internet was a household tool, trying to research songs and albums back then was pretty much pointless. I only count my blessings the DJ said the name of the musician and the song title.

Now the first time I ever heard of the song Bad Horsie was while looking at a guitar mag, and seeing the transcripts. I was listening to Drew, Matt and Varg, the three musicians I was working with at the time go on and on about the ghost notes and the crazy insane playing, and so forth and so on. All of it well deserved, but I will never forget the first time I heard this song. It's this big bad heavy ass wall of riffage that has amazing fills and solos and nothing like I expected after personally looking at the music, with my brief understanding at the time. I mean this song is one of the best instrumental pieces I have heard to this day, and not just because it's heavy, but because this song is truly a wild mustang out on the plains, or a bucking bronco, or what ever image it is you can conjure up of a wild beast doing it's thing. The donkey sound clip at the end of the song adds good humour.

That's followed up by Juice, a great little boogie woogie number that should get the toe tapping and if you can swing dance, or some variation off this song is totally usable. I'd love to see a couple in Olympic Pairs figure skating pull this one out, because it would look totally awesome on the ice. If grandma can over look the instruments playing the music, and truly hear the music she would enjoy this one too.

Die To Live takes the album into a mellower direction. While the skill and styling are there, I find this song a little basic sounding, and a bit cliche. I find this one song probably the least inspired on the album, and it always feels like it's dragging on. It's just shy of four minutes and feels more like five maybe even six.

I don't care for The Boy From Seattle, but it really is a good song. It's well played and totally enjoyable, but there's something about the sound of it, I'm leaning hard on the guitar tone, that puts me off. However, as a percussion guy I do enjoy that side of this song. It's not your typical drumming, it's more of a worldly sound. Deen Castronovo reminds me a lot of some Terry Bozzio I've been listening to lately. I actually had to double check the liner notes to see who was playing on this track.

So Beyonce and Jay-Z put their kid on a song and everyone goes stupid. While in 1995 Steve Vai's son Julian was crushing the Z-Rock air waves with Ya-Yo Gakk. Seriously, I couldn't get over how much this song was on the radio back in 1995, I remember Drew and I shaking our heads doing a whole "what the fuck?" thing. However, this is an awesome exercise in repiclating sounds on a guitar. Julian lays down this killer set of lines, that border on gibberish, and Steve mimics them on his guitar, and really it's awesome, and the song has a great vibe to it.

Kill The Guy With The Ball is just a crazy Acid Jazz, Acid Rock, whole lotta wild loud and brash music. Some may argue not music so much as noise. I would say those people are old, ignorant, or need to check themselves, before they wreck themselves. And yes I know how that sounds. I wouldn't call this track a masterpiece, but it's a damn fine example of musicianship. However, it helps if you are into the style, it's not for everyone. The song actually has two parts and the second is called The God Eaters, but if you aren't paying attention you won't know when it kicks in, because that's the way the song flows.

Tender Surrender is a slower track, but it's the most epic. This is the one song on the album where the music takes you on a full journey and doesn't just give you photographic glimpse. It really is a good and solid way to close out the album.

This is really an EP, but it's a really good one. I love throwing Alien Love Secrets in the cd player on a regular basis. Meaning at least once a year for a couple months. It's just one of those albums that offers so much, for so many different moods and occasions.

8/10 - content

7/10 - production

10/10 - personal bias

Monday, May 12, 2014

Alice Cooper - Easy Action

When I sought to put together the complete official Alice Cooper discography the absolutely hardest albums to buy were Pretties For You and Easy Action. The first and second full length album released by the band, and this is when they were signed with Zappa.

Over the years I've stumbled across variations of the Toronto '69 show, that features a fair amount of the songs found on Pretties For You. It's an early band with an early sound. Easy Action on the other hand is an album that I think got lost, because of the change in the bands location. It needs to be said that you are not a serious Alice fan if you do not have one favourite song from this album. Lyrically this album is pure poetry. Musically, it's a band finding themselves.

I must say that as I have gotten older I have fallen more in love with this album. I will throw this in the CD player more often than Billion Dollar Babies just because of the vibe. There's also something about the sound that gets me going. It's raw, but clear, and when it needs to be pretty it's pretty, and when it needs to be nasty, it's nasty. David Briggs, who also lends piano to one track, did a great job with this 1970 album.

The album opens with Mr. & Misdemeanor, and a track that explains why David Bowie and Alice Cooper ever get compared. This song has some swagger, and a whole lot of bad boy guitar. This is a sound Bowie would perfect later, but Alice was using it early on.

Next up is Shoe Salesman and to me this is very Bob Dylan, lyrically. "I know a shoe salesman / He's an acquaintance of mine / One day he showed me some / Marks on his arm in a line / I did not know what to say / "Do you think those freckles will stay?" /I need a Popsicle / Do you want lemon or lime? / I've got a special today / If you've got the time / Winking, she poked me in the side / "Well, we could go for a ride" / I did not know what to say / "Do you think those freckles will stay?" / Well, you think that she will see / I don't think she will see / Yeah". Maybe a little more Yardbirds influenced, when you factor in the music. You might even want to argue Simon and Garfunkel. Either way it works really well, and make the song very enjoyable.

Still No Air follows that up and is more jagged, and what you would expect from Alice Cooper based on the previous album. The song is dark, and wild, and brutal, and crashing, and not for your casual listener. But what I find interesting is that you hear the influence of a song that would later play a huge roll in making the School's Out album amazing, Sharks Vs. Jet's. Cleary the band were fans of West Side Story, or the most dark and violent part of it.

Below Your Means showcases part of the influence that Pink Floyd had on Alice Cooper during their time spent together. I should specify Sid Barrette era Pink Floyd. But this is a song where you get to hear how great the musicians really are. Dennis Dunaway is one of my top five bassists for a reason. More bass players should know his name and study his work, because he does it all, and it's so clear and present. Neil Smith being in my top five drummers for a reason, and the wild ass stuff he does on this track has clearly been an influence on me over the years. He's quite the Jazz drummer. Then there's Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton's guitar work, which is totally exploritory. My only complaint about this song is the weird fade out that finishes with an at volume cheese ball "bom, bom" sound. Makes no sense.

The second side of the album kicks off Return Of the Spiders. I love the way Dunaway and Smith lock in on this track and Michael and Glen create this awesome effect that just drives the whole train barrelling down the tracks vibe of this song. Also with the speed that the rhythm section was going at, it's impressive that the song is 4:25. Seriously, this is some break neck speed stuff.

Laughing At Me is just a little over half the time of the last song, but because of it's pace it feels almost the same length. However, this track has some great guitar work.

Refrigerator Heaven is all about the art of Cryogenic Freezing. "I'm freezing I'm freezing I'm icicle blue so low low cool / Cyber neurotic technicians imbue so low low cool /I've been admitted to refrigerator heaven until they discover a cure for cancer I'm low / Refrigerator heaven so low refrigerator heaven / I'm ice packed I'm hand stashed I'm waiting for you I'm older and younger preserved in a tomb / I've been admitted to refrigerator heaven I feel like I told you on my heart / I won't get back 'till the sun sets down on the moon / Won't get back 'till the sun sets down on the moon". The nice part about this song is how it shows the band working so much with Alice's vocals, and the lyrics, instead of just playing for themselves.

My favourite song on the album is sung by guitarist Michael Bruce, it's a piano based track, that's slower and might be confused as a ballad. "Beautiful flyaway somewhere like holy days wonder what brought me down to earth / Haven't I always been here let's have another nibble later I think I'll disappear into the bishop's hall / And take a look at what we offer DDT poisoning me changing my relativity what's it going to be / Da da da da d da later I think I'll disappear into another room and take a look inside the till / Lovely days human ways journeys that take us to the end aah / Haven't we always been here sharing one love and one fear / Some day you'll know that life is really really all about you / So come and look inside you'll be surprised to find / Later I think I'll disappear into another womb and take a look inside the mens' room / Haven't I given you everything that I could give where do you live aah". That all being said this is a well constructed song that would have been much better live from time to time, were it not for the fact that Alice has pretty much nothing to do with this track.

The song that completes the album, and brings it to a close is a song that I knew much better as I've Written Home To Mother, and AC Instrumental, both of them also having different titles and variations. It was recorded and split into two different tracks from the Toronto '69 show. The real name for it is Lay Down and Die, Goodbye, and it is so much better on this album then it was in those recordings. It's a song you need to see live, or hear produced. You can hear just the live recording, that doesn't do the instrumental part any justice. Also this song is not for everyone. This is yet another early Floyd influenced song, that goes way out there. Some recreational drug use may be needed to fully get emersed into this song properly, or you need to be very open minded. Like Acid Jazz Progressive Fusion open minded. Eventually it turns into what most people would call a song, and not just a lot of musical instrument based noise, and the album concludes with sad and somber lyrics. "Well I've written home to mother the ink ran from my tear / I said momma momma please tell me why you brought me here".

This album is not for everyone, but some of the tracks are really note worthy and the whole album shows the band as much more than a novelty act. This was before Alice Cooper was a monster, and was more of a group of transgendered musicians (Alice Cooper was originally the band, not the artist), that sparkled more than Ziggy Stardust. Seriously you have to see the picture of the band on the back of the album. Poor Glen Buxton looks so put out, with an expression on his face of a dog locked in a kennel. Not that the rest of the guys look impressed, but Glen really looks bummed. The front cover isn't much better, and in fact never base an album on it's cover. Other than the solid shade of red that borders the album, the rest caused me to shy away from it for years. The content far exceeds the cover.

6/10 - content

8/10 - production

8/10 - personal bias

Monday, May 5, 2014

Metallica - Through The Never

Have you seen Through The Never? "If not, you're a mother fucker.", to quote James Hetfield from Live Shit: Binge And Purge. Granted he was talking about the first album, Kill 'Em All, but I think it applies here too. If you live in a city or town that played the movie and you didn't make the time to go see it, since it wasn't just a one night event like Led Zepplin's Celebration Day, then you aren't a real fan, or you really screwed yourself out of something amazing. I'm sure it will be great on the home tv screen, but it will not be the same.

So, this review is for the live concert that went with the movie. I didn't really need to buy this live album. There's only one song on it I don't have live already, and most of the others I have at least one other live version, and in some cases a few more. I downloaded a lot of live content from the Metallica website. However, I will be the first one to admit that I picked up this album for one song and one song only, Orion. The very last track on the album, that if what the movies shows is true the band played in an empty area, and the sound is beyond amazing.

I will say that there are three complaints I have about this album that I want to get out right away. Nothing Else Matters is on it, and fuck that shit. Hit The Lights is the only song from Kill 'Em All, Cyanide is the only song from Death Magnetic, and there's nothing from Load. The last of my gripes is the only cover is The Ecstacy Of Gold, and guess what? It's the original tape version that starts every concert, and not the band playing it. Which means, no Am I Evil, Breadfan, Last Caress, So What (this one is understandable somewhat in this case), Whiskey In The Jar, so forth and so on. The first two songs listed there are Metallica standards even, and when I saw them on the Load tour they opened with So What. Not to mention half of the concept of this concert was taken from the Load tour. The tour for an album that's not represented at all in the set list. Okay, ranting done, until I hit Nothing Else Matters.

The concert starts off with The Ecstasy of Gold, as already mentioned. This is great and helps represent the opening to any Metallica show, and since both the show and set list represent Metallica over the years, it only seems fair to start this disc in the traditional way. Another nice part, is on this disc it is a separate track so you can easily skip it. Unlike on past live albums.

Then we move into Creeping Death, this song isn't the same without Jason Newstead singing the background vocals. It's one of those songs I really think they should retire from playing live. It's not that they don't do it well, it's just that they used to do it better. Also if you've heard Metallica perform this song live, then you already know every word, including little adlibs that will be in this song.

To me it seems like they rush For Whom the Bell Tolls. It's clearly a bit faster, but the over all vibe seems like they really just kind of want to be over and done with the song. This live rendition doesn't have any of the power, force or majesty of past renditions.

Then it's instantly into Fuel. I'm not sure entirely what they were thinking with the set list order at this point. It almost seems like they said "Hey, we need to jam all these songs in in the beginning, so we can focus on the later tracks. My main reason for thinking this is the fact that this song yet again feels rushed.

Maybe it's nervous energy, maybe it because of all the elements that were being put in for the movie segments of the film, I can only guess. But the start of the show really does have a forced and rushed along vibe.

Ride the Lightning seems really odd when you just listen to it on the CD, during the show a mic cuts out, and various other things go on that affects James vocals. Aside from that I do really enjoy this live version. This is also the first song that sounds like the band honestly wants to play it.

Next it's on to One. Have you heard this song live before? I'm pretty sure you have, and I'm pretty sure it sounded like this version. I must say that this is one song I've grown very tired of hearing live. It's not that it's a bad song, it's just that there are other songs they could be doing instead.

After that it's on to The Memory Remains, which is great live. My favourite part about this song live is the audience participation. Everyone claims to hate this song, but the crowd always knows how to sing it perfectly and carry it on well after the song is finished.

After that it's on to Wherever I May Roam. While this is one of the songs on the Black Album that I don't mind it's another song that I would rather see switched out for a different track. However, if you are going to do a live show that's going to be turned into a film, I guess this one isn't bad to throw in. However, it's never been the same since S&M.

Metallica, one of the few bands out there that can release a double live album and have it only contain 16 tracks, and none of the songs are extended jams, or anything like that. I bring this up because by the time the first disc is done, I'm sitting there going "Fuck! I've got another hour and change to listen to still." That can be taken as both a good and bad thing.

I love that Cyanide is on here. This is a great song, and it's a ton of fun live. You can just hear the energy coming off this one. I really love the vibe of this song the whole way around, and you can tell that the crowd is totally digging it as well.

...And Justice for All, a song that is on this album purely for the theatrics of it, and that's totally cool with me. Also since this song doesn't get played live all that often it's a very welcomed addition to this set list. Even if I'm not the biggest fan of the song. The only complaint I really have about this song is how they use a tape to play the intro of the song. Then it's on to Master of Puppets. Which is the full version, not that crappy one with the mid section cut out. This song is the only live album repeat offender that I don't have an issue with on this album.

Have you ever heard Battery live? Well this sounds pretty much the same as that version you heard. As long as it was an official release.

Okay I lied. Nothing Else Matters is extended by a guitar solo, and it's a real tease because of the way it sounds. I almost expect Metallica to bust into Paint It Black, then I get Nothing Else Matters. Have I ever mentioned that I really just don't care for this song. It has some balls on this version, but it's still pretty much a Power Ballad.

I'm not a fan of Enter Sandman, but it was one of the best parts about seeing them live on the Load tour. It was totally awesome, and while you don't get to see what happens, you can hear it. Basically the stage sort of explodes. Other than that it's Enter Sandman performed live, like it always is musically.

Then it's off to Hit the Lights for the encore. The only song from Kill 'Em All, and it works for me, and it's a good rendition and perfect to close the show. But, since it's the only song off that album I really would have preferred a different track. Seek & Destroy comes to mind.

The album finishes off with the whole reason I bought this album, Orion. When you see the movie it's just the band playing live to an empty arena. If that is in fact how this song was recorded, Metallica should record their next album like that. Not only is the sound crystal clear, but the band just sounds so together and in sync. As for the song itself, it's a little slowed down, just a little, and has a thicker and tighter groove than you usually hear from this song. This is the song on this album you really want to hear and play over and over.

I know I bitch a lot about this album, because the set list is just so basic and totally predictable. I'm also very pissed off that not a single song from Load made the album. King Nothing or Outlaw Torn would have been fine with me, or Wasting My Hate if I was calling the shots. Fuck, I would have given anything for Metallica to have replaced Nothing Else Matters for Mama Said. But, this was a soundtrack for a live concert movie event. If you watch Through The Never it all works, and if you don't own any other live album, this isn't bad either. However, if you own Live Shit: Binge And Purge, S&M, the Some Kind Of Monster maxi single, or any of the singles that feature live tracks, you really don't need this album. Unless you want a great version of Orion.

And just as a last thought. What was in the fucking bag?

7/10 - content

8/10 - production

6/10 - personal bias