Saturday, March 31, 2007

What's coming up?

It's been a fine week weather wise around here. I planted some flower bulbs during the week and am planning on enlarging a flower bed soon. I picked up Black Stone Cherry the other day and won a few albums on eBay this week. Tomorrow is April's Fool day, but don't expect any tricks from me. I have enough trouble just doing the normal things, let alone trying to fool someone. Here are the topics I hope to have out this week.

-Guns and Roses: Appetite for destruction 20 year old album review
-Vains of Jenna: Lit up/Let down review

-Judge the album cover on Sunday
-Heavy Metal Jukebox
-Vote for a review
-One other topic yet to be determined

Have a great week!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Judas Priest-Hell bent for leather, 1978

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My favorite Priest album is Screaming for vengeance, however when pressed for what my second favorite is I would have to really think about it. Defenders of the faith is a prime consideration, but the later songs are a little weaker. British Steel has some great songs, but a few fillers as well. Painkiller is explosive at times, yet a little repetitive as well. So for Priest's second best album I may actually turn to the 1970's and consider either Sad wings of destiny or this album. It was almost the end of the decade and along with Motorhead plus a few others Priest were maybe unwittingly carrying on the torch passed on by declining metal acts like Black Sabbath. Both Hell bent for leather and the previous album Stained Class see the band really progressing and coming into their own. This is an album that always felt short to me, but not in a bad way. None of the songs overstay their welcome yet many of them quickly make an impact. There are some heavy hitters like "Delivering the goods", the title track, "Killing Machine" and a big monster called "Running wild". On these tracks the guitars are blazing, Halford is in fine form and one can see why some people think drummer Les Binks may have been the best drummer to sit behind the kit for Priest. Their are anthems like the single "Rock forever" and the a few years ahead of it's time "Take on the world". I think with songs like this, these guys were laying down the foundation for the metal anthems that would be popular to some extent for much of the 1980's. "Burnin' up" is a little dated in it's approach, but it's also a bit unique as it is certainly different from most of the rest of the album. Their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Green Manalishi (with the two pronged crown)" is solid and Priest don't get enough credit for doing good covers. They knew how to be respectful yet add their own sound. "Evil Fantasies" is maybe the one song here that I think is merely decent. There are good riffs and tight vocals, yet it's difficult to get past the high cheese factor on this song. That leaves the two vocal gems in "Evening Star" and "Before the dawn". "Evening star" is more accessible overall and Halford's vocals are simply amazing as he weaves and builds the song up. "Before the dawn" is bit more odd in it's approach, but no less spectacular. At the start it's perhaps very removed from the other metal workings on the album. The music is very much in the forefront and Halford's vocals start soft and slowly he brings that up over the music and it all just works so well. There is also a brief, but stunning guitar solo in that track. This is just a truly fantastic album and one of several examples of the huge contribution Priest made to metal.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Current Playlist

Lately I have been listening to:
Dee Snider-Never let the bastards wear you down
Iron Maiden-Killers and A matter of life and death
Judas Priest-Hell bent for leather
Sleep-Sleep's holy mountain
Britny Fox-Bite down hard
Black Stone Cherry
Acid King-Busse Woods

**What are you listening to?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Lesser of two evils

Here is the debut of a new segment that will pit albums by two bands I was never too thrilled about against one another. The match-up is Britny Fox's debut
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Danger Danger's debut

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I will compare these two based on vocals, guitars, rhythm section, production and originality (one combined category) and the last category is who rocks more. I listened to both albums back to back twice and here are my results.

"Dizzy" Dean Davidson of Britny Fox has two voices. One sounds like Brian Johnson of AC/DC with strep throat and the other is fairly even. Ted Poley of Danger Danger isn't particularly original. Yet he has some range and above all else he is consistent.
Round one to Danger Danger

The guitarists might be the most known members of each of these bands. Michael Kelly Smith of Britny Fox got a little notice because he was in an early version of Cinderella. Andy Timmons of Danger Danger later kind of got a reputation of being a guitar virtuoso of sorts. Okay, Timmons is obviously a better technical player as his solos are better. However they are merely good and overall his playing is a bit cold and lacks any emotion. Smith doesn't play stunning solos, but he hits some nice rhythms here and there. More than anything he has some groove to his playing and some sense of excitement at times.
Round two to Britny Fox

Rhythm section
This means Britny Fox's bass player Billy Childs and drummer Johnny Dee are up against bass player Bruno Ravel and drummer Steve West from Danger Danger. Both drummers are basic, but adequate. However it boils down to the fact that I don't hear the bass on Britny Fox's album, but I hear it on Danger Danger. This probably has something to do with the fact that Ravel and West were the main song writers for their band.
Round three to Danger Danger

The production is generally decent on both discs. I don't hear the bass enough on Britny Fox and and the keyboards are a little too prominent at times on Danger Danger. As far as originality, let's see a band called Danger Danger has songs called "Bang Bang" and "Naughty Naughty". Besides that, they come across sounding at times like a mix between Bon Jovi and Survivor. Although they are steady to some extent, there were not too many original sparks from them. Britny Fox at times sound like second rate AC/DC (and I mean 1980's AC/DC). However at other times (Long way to love, Gudbuy to Jane, In America) they kind of come into their own as they sound excited and confident.
Round four to Britny Fox

Who rocks more
The most important round perhaps. Danger Danger were far more AOR than I remember and there is good AOR, but I think they play it safe for most of this album. Britny Fox stumbled at times (Girlschool), but they hit the mark several times too. Easy decision on this round.
Round five to Britny Fox

Ding, ding, ding
We have a winner!
Britny Fox wins the first Lesser of two evils.
This was actually fun to do. Going into it I really thought the winner would be Danger Danger because I remembered hating Dizzy Dean Davidson's voice years ago. However I really listened to them and found there was more to them than I once thought. I have six more match-ups for this feature lined up. However I would like to get a few more to carry it through the year. Feel free to suggest anyone you think deserves to be in one of these contests. I am looking for somewhat known hard rock or metal bands that were around between the early 1980's to the early 1990's. Be back with another one of these next month.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fill in the blanks

Remember those tests in school that had you fill in the blanks? Well, the good news with the ones I am asking is that there is no right answer. So here you go, fill in the blanks.

1)The best singer for Van Halen was__________________.
2)The last really good album Metallica did was____________________.
3)The most overrated hard rock/heavy metal band of all time is____________________.
4)The most underrated hard rock/heavy metal band of all time is___________________.
5)Guns and Roses will release Chinese Democracy when_________________________.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

KISS-Crazy Nights, 1987

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This is one of those KISS albums that both hardcore and casual fans seem to disagree on. It was the late 1980's and KISS had been at it for almost 15 years. A lot of hard rock bands that were popular in the 1970's had to make "adjustments" to keep up with the hard rock/metal trends of the 1980's. Some of the bands were Aerosmith, AC/DC, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and of course KISS. From the moment they took off the make-up on MTV in 1983 KISS seemed comfortable with the changing metal scene. Yet a few years later it was starting to feel a bit like they were just churning out an album just so they could tour. I am going to do this review with a song by song breakdown so here it is.

1. Crazy Crazy Nights-The music is a little thin, but it's fun song and the chorus is instantly stuck in my head. Yet how come the album title has one crazy, the song title has two and the chorus actually has three?
2. I'll Fight Hell To Hold You-Not bad because it rocks a little, but kind of clunky. Feels like they don't quite have a handle on the pace of the song.
3. Bang Bang You-It's pretty stale cheese I am afraid. Not all that fun or entertaining. Bruce's solo is kind of good though.
4. No, No, No-The guitar stuff at the beginning is cool, but the rest of the song is quite messy. It's just kind of repetitive and you can probably stop it after a minute because you will get the idea of the whole song at that point.
5. Hell Or High Water-Pretty decent song with a simple, but effective riff. This track actually shows some energy and that's a plus at this point.
6. My Way-The keyboards are way to much and take any edge off this song. Just let Paul sing because his vocals would have carried this song without the overuse of keyboards.
7. When Your Walls Come Down-Not a bad rock song at all. There's actually a decent groove to it and they really seem in control.
8. Reason To Live-Did Foreigner lose a song because KISS seem to have have found it. Just a bit of a snoozer I am afraid
9. Good Girl Gone Bad-It's alright, but just one of those faceless KISS songs. You won't remember it an hour after the album ends.
10. Turn On The Night-Kind of weak and bouncy, but I like the vocals.
11. Thief In The Night-I like the main riff and the heaviness as this album could have used more of that. It's a decent song, but overstays it's welcome just a little. Not anything you have not heard before from KISS.

Overall it feels like Paul had more of a hand in the writing than normal as it's a little more commercial at times. Also there is just too much keyboards here. Keyboards can be used well if they are used to compliment the music. The keyboards here seem to obscure the music and even the vocals at times. These guys were going just fine without keyboards before so why change? The band had a solid foundation and Paul's voice was just as good as it was a decade earlier so somethings didn't need to be changed. Ultimately this is just an okay album for me. There are some good songs, some weak ones and some so-so tracks. Not one of the best moments for these guys, but not one of the absolute worst either.
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***So this is the last week for March Metal Madness which means this same album has been reviewed over at Hard rock hideout, Heavy metal addiction,Pulses, verses and other flotsam. So go check them out. These last four Mondays have been fun doing this. Thanks to the other three bloggers for participating. Also a special thanks to Rob at Hard rock hideout for designing and sharing the March Metal Madness logo that we have all been using these past few weeks.

Judge the album cover

This week it's the Killer Dwarfs' 1986 album Stand Tall.
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So do you like the cover, hate it or think it's just alright?

Saturday, March 24, 2007

What's coming up?

The first day of spring came and passed so hopefully the weather get better. I am starting to get excited about the upcoming Rush album that's just a few weeks away. That's it for Supergroup week, hope you enjoyed it. Tomorrow will bring another Judge the album cover. Then Monday will be the finale of March Metal Madness as we review Crazy Nights by KISS. Also I have a new feature to unveil this week. There are a number of bands from the late 1980's to the late 1990's that I wasn't big on. So I am going to pull some out and match two against each other in a head to head competition to see which one is better or not as bad. It will be called "The lesser of two evils" and the premier segment will match up Britny Fox's debut versus Danger Danger's debut. The object is not to make fun of the bands although I will give it to them when they deserve it. The object is more that I think most bands have something to offer, it's just that sometimes you have to look for it. So I will have that up this week. The other topics I hope to have out are:

-Judas Priest-Hell bent for leather review
-Current playlist
-Some fill in the blanks for you

Have a good week!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Blue Murder-s/t, 1989

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A little while after getting let go from Whitesnake guitarist John Sykes (also formerly of Tygers of Pan Tang and Thin Lizzy) hooked up with drummer Carmine Appice and bass player Tony Franklin. Franklin had played with the Firm and Appice had been around the block having played with Ozzy, Ted Nugent, King Kobra, Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Humble Pie. They formed Blue Murder and were signed to Geffen. Sykes, an experienced back-up singer took on lead vocal duties here and he does a decent job. The apple didn't fall far from the tree as there is a good dose of Whitesnake present on this album. Maybe some Dio thrown in there as well at times. Yet there is more as well as the music sometimes has an almost dreamy quality that works. It sounds like each member is really going at it without going overboard. I love the thick, rich production as it certainly sounds like there are more than three guys playing here. I think they mix it up with different paced songs and some variations in style. The album peaked at number 68 on the Billboard charts which is a decent for a debut. Yet they really should have been bigger. I think perhaps it was maybe two years past when it could have been huge. By 1989 the sappy power ballads and thinner commercial hard rock were growing in popularity. Stuff like Blue Murder almost had at least part of a foundation in 1970's hard rock wasn't what people wanted in the late 1980's. However this album holds very well today and that can't be said for everything else that came out in 1989. So this was a Supergoup that actually lived up to their hype.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Supergroups that never quite made it

Strange title, right? Yet there are a few examples of potential supergroups thta never quite happened.

-When Fast Eddie Clarke left Motorhead in 1982 he first joined up with former UFO bass player Pete Way. The two decided to call their band Fastway as a joining of their names. However, Way got an offer to go play bass for Ozzy so he jumped ship. Fast Eddie decided to keep the band name and the band essentially became his and went on for a decade.

-After leaving Slayer in the early '90's drummer Dave Lombardo first hooked up with former Overkill guitarist Bobby Gustafson. They formed a band called I4NI then the name Grip was tossed around. Apparently there were some control differences and a problem with the band members living far away from each other. So Gustafson pulled out and Lombardo went on to form Grip Inc.

-Former Dio guitarist Rowan Robertson and former Lynch Mob singer Oni Logan formed a band called Violets Demise around 91-92. I believe Wendy Dio was backing them at some point and they were signed to a label (Atlantic, I think). They recorded an album, but it was shelved because grunge was on the rise and the label was concerned the two key members were not big enough names for it to sell.

**So do you know of any would be Supergroups that never quite happened?

Desperado-Ace, 2006

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This is maybe an odd choice for Supergroup week because this album was shelved for a long time, but nonetheless I think this was a Supergroup and one that's worth noting. Desperado was former Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider, former Iron Maiden drummer Clive Burr, former Gillan and Ozzy guitarist Bernie Torme and previously unknown bass player Marc Russell. They were signed to Elektra and recorded an album around late 1989 to early 1990. The album was slated for a spring 1990 release, but the date passed and the label choose not to release the album. Bootleg copies made the rounds during the 1990's. However now it's officially been released and we can finally check it out. The album has a western theme present in many of the songs here as well as the band name. I wondered if this was Dee's idea since all of his kids have western type names? Anyway the music is generally medium paced hard rock not far removed from what was going on in 1990, but not completely like anyone I can put my finger on either. Dee Snider is the biggest name and he is in good form. I have been a Twisted Sister fan since 1984 so I like his distinctive vocals. He is strong here and actually shows more range than I thought he had in him. I think it has to do with having a better band behind him here than in Twisted Sister. Clive Burr and Marc Russell make a solid rhythm section. Although Snider and Burr were the selling points for me it's likely Bernie Torme who is the real star of this album. With his subtle yet fluid style he lays down the backdrop for these songs. Also in 1990 most new acts were copying someone and I am not sure that Torme falls into that trap. He has his own style and is very comfortable with it. He is also a strong song writer and he actually had his own band in the 1970's and again in the 1980's. My only real complaint might be that the best songs are toward the beginning so it does give the album a little bit of an uneven feel. I certainly would have bought this had it been released in 1990 and I would played it quite a bit. So I don't know why this wasn't released because this style of music was still big. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that it had been a while since anyone in the band had done a big album. Probably we will never know for sure the reason why it was shelved. Dee Snider has redone some of these songs with later projects. However if you have read any interviews done with Dee Snider in the last say ten years then you know how highly he thought of this material. I don't blame him because it's a good album.

**Supergroup will wrap up with a review of Blue Murder's debut and one other short topic if I can get to it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Damn Yankees, 1990

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Released back in early 1990 this band was comprised of Jack Blades (Night Ranger), Tommy Shaw (Styx), Ted Nugent (his own band) and previously unknown Michael Cartelone. This was a big production, slick hard rock album with lots of sing along type choruses and it came out at the right time because it hit and found an audience. It's heavier than Night Ranger and Styx, but lighter than most of the Nuge's prime stuff. That last line might explain why it took me a while to take to it. I was never big on Night Ranger and I thought Styx were okay, but I loved the Nuge's music from say 75-80. However, if you love the Nuge then you don't get a whole lot his craziness and his killer guitar playing. He had to fit into being a team member I guess. I heard this album this once or twice in 1990 and just bought it maybe five years ago on CD when I found it in the bargain bin. The production values are very high and it's well organized, but predictable. It's easily far better than a lot of other hard rock coming out at the time. The guitars are good overall, but a little restrained. The vocals are a big plus as both lead and backing are strong. It dates itself as being from 1990 yet there is no doubt that Jack Blades has a strong voice and sounds good throughout the album. I think that I enjoy more than I did in 1990, but it still a bit generic and I just wished they took more chances and rocked a little more at times. I will probably reach for it on occasion, but not all that often.

**Tomorrow Supergroup week continues with a review of Desperado's Ace.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Heavy Metal Jukebox

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It's time to play a Supergroup version of the Heavy Metal Jukebox. I list three choices and you pick the song you like the best. Here they are.

Damn Yankees-Coming of age
David Lee Roth-Yankee Rose
The Firm-Radioactive

**So which one do you choose?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Testament-The legacy, 1987

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There once was a San Francisco based band named The Legacy that was on the rise in the mid-1980's, then a lot of things happened at once. Their singer Steve "Zetro" Souza had the chance to go sing for Exodus who were on a label and preparing for their second album. So Souza left and the band brought in Chuck Billy. They also changed their name to Testament and maybe most importantly, they got signed. Not just signed, but signed to a major in Atlantic records. So expectations were high and the band got a good push as ads for their album were in all of the metal magazines in 1987. Their video for "Over the wall" also got shown regularly on the Headbanger's Ball. That's probably when I first heard them and I picked up the tape shortly after that. I was big into speed metal in 1987 and always looking out for new bands. I loved this album and still do. Testament had a very straight ahead approach as some of the songs have very little build-up and they just plunge straight into the meat of the song. Yet they were also very good at doing seamless pace changes. Guitarists Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson just shred and tracks like "The Haunting" and "First strike is deadly" show how much these guys can do. The rhythm section of drummer Louie Clemente and bass player Greg Christian are solid as well. Clemente especially is all over the place laying down non-stop beats and giving the music much of it's heaviness. Chuck Billy has a distinct voice and he manages to sing fast yet stay both coherent and powerful in his approach. Testament were heavier and faster than a lot of the speed metal bands signed to major labels at the time. They also knew how to keep things interesting by mixing it up at just the right moment. This album also benefited from a solid production job. Unfortunately they kind of ended up being a second tier speed metal band along with Overkill, Metal Church, Exodus, Kreator and Nuclear Assault. All of these bands got close but never quite made it to the popularity level of Slayer, Anthrax and Megadeth. Doesn't matter though because at their best (like this album) they could shred and their debut still stands strong and it's one of the best speed metal debuts of all time. My only complaint about this album is a minor one and not something you would notice unless you hear some of their other albums. I think a number of the tracks here were written while Steve Souza was still in the band. I think at times on this album that Chuck Billy tried to sing in a style that was different from his natural voice. On later albums you can hear that he clearly has more of a range, but you don't as much of that here at times. Small complaint though because it's a strong effort and probably in the top ten metal albums of 1987.
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Don't forget this is March metal madness. So now you can go read reviews of this same album over at Hard rock hideout, Heavy metal addiction and Pulses, verses and flotsam.

**Next week March metal madness wraps up when we do KISS- Crazy Nights.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Judge the album cover

It's supergroup week here at my blog and even though Asia are more AOR than hard rock I am going to throw out two of their covers for judging.

First is the self-titled debut from 1982.

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Next is Alpha from 1983.
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So what do you think of them? Do you like them, don't or are they just alright?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

What's coming up?

It snowed here today even though it's mid-March and the temperature was in the 70's earlier this week. Anyway the third week of the month is normally theme week and this week it will be "Supergroup week". Except March Metal Madness is still in full swing so this Monday we will be reviewing Testament's The Legacy. Every other day of the week will be devoted to Supergroup week though. Here is what else I hope to have out.

-A supergroup version of Judge the album cover on Sunday
-A supergroup Heavy Metal Jukebox

Reviews of:
-Blue Murder-s/t
-Damn Yankees-s/t

and one other Supergroup topic.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day and enjoy the weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Saxon-Wheels of steel, 1980

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The New Wave of British Heavy Metal or NWOBHM for anyone not familiar with it, was an outpouring of metal bands from England that started around 79-80 and stayed fairly strong until about 83-84. Iron Maiden and Def Leppard came out of it and became huge world wide. Others like Raven and Venom have some success for a short time. Still others like Witchfinder General and Tank developed cult followings years later. Saxon maybe fell somewhere between the first two categories. They initially got a lot of notice in the early 1980's but never quite made it that big in the states. Changes in sound and line-up changes also made them seem inconsistent in the 80's. Yet there was a time from about 1979-1984 when they were pretty solid (and actually they have been good in recent years as well). My favorite Saxon album is "Wheels of steel" from 1980 and it's also the first album I heard by them. It's a cut and dry, straight ahead slab of metal that may have been more influential that it's normally credited for. If I had to describe the album in one word it would "pure". Pure as in it's solid metal without a lot of fluff, baggage or much to district from the overall sound of the album. "Motorcycle Man" kicks of the album and plunges ahead with a lot of power for the time. "Stand up and be counted" is more medium paced, but nonetheless solid and a real kicker. Then comes "747 (Strangers in the night)" which is one of the best Saxon songs of all time. Just an incredible track that gets me every time. The rest of the album is just more guitar driven metal and every track is at a high level. Saxon were truly one of the best bands to emerge from the NWOBHM movement.

Thursday, March 15, 2007


It's time to play over/under once again. It's simple I list two bands and for each band you say what you think is the most overrated song by that band and then their most underrated song. So the bands this time are:



**So what do you think are the most overrated and underrated tracks by these artists?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Who were they? Zoetrope

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Pronounced "e-trope" as their record sleeves stated. This band formed in Chicago in 1977 which means they may have actually been one of the earliest speed metal bands around. They had Barry Stern on drums and vocals, Ken Black and Kevin Michael on guitars and Calvin Humphrey on bass. They released a seven inch single called "The right way"in 1980 and I have never heard this and know nothing about what kind of style it was. The next thing they did was a demo in 1983 called Metal Log volume 1 and it was followed by a second demo called Metal Log volume 2 in 1985. The band then signed to Combat records and they released their debut "Amnesty" in 1985. Some time after the tour for the debut Ken Black was out of the band, but no reason was ever stated.He was replaced by Louis Svitek on guitar and the band released "A life of crime" in 1987. Just a few months after this Svitek left to join Billy Milano's M.O.D. (Method of destruction). It's a little unclear as to if the rest of the members disbanded then or a little later. Yet when Barry Stern became drummer for Trouble it was clear that Zoetrope was done, as least for the time. In 1993 Kevin Michael revived the band but he was the only original member as he hired four other guys to fill out the group. The album was called "Mind over splatter" and I have never heard it, but most sources say it was different from the other two albums. They apparently broke up for good shortly after that. Louie Svitek later played with Mindfunk and Ministry. I was sad to learn that Barry Stern died on April 1st, 2005 at age 45 due to complications from a then recent surgery. He had been active in music up until the time of his death.
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Okay there are the straight specifics or as I much as I could find on them, now here's the scoop on their music. I loved this band back in the 80's and still do. They are usually lumped in as speed metal and that's essentially correct, but they were different. I think the band had both metal and punk rock influences. I also think they were like speed metal with a groove to it. It was pounding at times, but hook oriented at times too. Barry Stern also sang with very clear vocals as opposed to the growling style of vocals sometimes used in thrash. I think this band could appeal to a wider audience than other speed metal bands due to the vocals and their varied styles. With song titles like "Mercenary", "Member in a gang", "NASA" and "Company Man" you could tell that their lyrics were more about political and social issues. The band was very different from other speed metal bands of the day for several reasons. These include their influences, lyrics, musical style in some ways, an African-American bass player, a drummer who was the singer and they even gave their music a label. They called it "hardcore street metal" and although I am not totally sure what it means, it sure sounds kind of cool. I highly recommend this band. Their first two Cd's are hard to come by, but the albums pop up from time to time on eBay.

**Next month I will spotlight NWOBHM band Jaguar.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The year so far

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We will soon be 1/4 of the way through 2007. So far I have heard two albums released this year. Sad, I know but judging from the title of my blog you may have reasoned that I buy more older cds than new ones. I am still hopeful about the new Megadeth and excited about the new Rush. Have you heard many new cd's yest this year? If so what have you heard and did you like it?

Happy Birthday, Metalgirl!

Three years ago my wife and I went to the hospital in the early hours of the morning because she had gone into labor. It was a very cold and windy day and it was the baby's due date. About twelve hours after we arrived at the hospital my daughter was born. We did not find out ahead of time the gender of the baby so we were both surprised and thrilled that it was a girl. I have learned a lot and have much to a learn as a parent, but it has been a great experience so far. Both my wife and I are off from work today to celebrate Metalgirl's 3rd birthday.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dio-Dream Evil, 1987

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I remember going to the record store in the summer of 1987 and I had enough money to buy only one cassette. I saw a stack of the recently released Dio's Dream Evil sitting there and considered it, but ultimately went with Running Wild's Under Jolly Roger instead. Yet as I was paying for it I asked the clerk if the new Dio was any good. She laughed and said "Yes, but it was strange that lots of people had been asking about the new Dio, but then bought something else". Not long after that I saw the videos for "I could have been a dreamer" and "All the fools sailed away". I was a little less than impressed by these songs and still avoided the album. It probably wasn't until early 1988 that I met someone who actually owned it. When I heard I was surprised because the two video songs were not representative of the whole album. Guitarist Craig Goldie had replaced Vivian Campbell back in 1986. He had actually played on part of the Sacred Heart tour and recorded the track "Time to burn" for the Intermission ep in '86. One thing I always liked about Dio (the person) is that I think he has let his guitarist put some of their own style into the songs. Craig Goldie certainly gets to do that here and the result is one of Dio's more energetic albums. Let's face it, Ronnie's vocals are always on so how good a Dio album is depends on how good the music is. Fortunately most of the music here is almost as good as the vocals. The title track, "Sunset Superman"and "Naked in the rain" are all strong tracks somewhat similar to material from the Holy Diver and The last in line albums. I think "Naked in the rain", "Faces in the window", "When a woman cries" and the superb "Overlove" are all even better. Those last four are very enthusiastic and help this album to be better than the slightly stale "Sacred Heart" that was released in 1985. I have come to terms with "I could have been a dreamer" because now I think it's decent but a step back from the other tracks I listed above. However, I really can't take "All the fools sailed away" as it is very dull and at seven plus minutes is just hard to take. Overall I think that this is the third best album of Dio solo career behind "Holy Diver" and "The last in line". Yet I think this was the beginning of a slide in popularity for Dio. Last week we reviewed Whitesnake's self titled album and it's album whose popularity was largely made by releasing the right singles. Dio's Dream Evil might be a good example of an album that was hurt by it's singles. Neither "I could have been a dreamer" of "All the fools sailed away" rock and I don't think either one drew people in. I also think 1987 was a time when commercial hard rock and speed metal were both increasing in popularity. These were like the polar ends of metal and bands in the middle like Dio who were big just two or three years earlier were seeing fans follow younger bands. In the U.S. "The Last in line" charted at position 24 in 1984, "Sacred Heart" charted at position 29 and "Dream Evil" charted at position 43. So it was a significant drop in popularity. Still it's a really fine album that stands up pretty well and I enjoy listening to it today.

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***Now remember it's March Metal Madness so go check out the reviews of this album over at Hard rock hideout , Heavy metal addiction and Pulses, verses and other flotsam. Join us next week as we take on Testament's debut "The Legacy".

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Judge the album cover

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Horror and fantasy have often appeared on metal album covers. Here is the cover of Cirith Ungol's 1984 release "King of the dead". So do you like it, not like it or think that it's just okay?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

What's coming up?

Peter Pan came out on DVD this week. I only know this because I have a young daughter so I have had to see it several times this week. I was never too big on this movie because when I was little I wanted to be a pirate. So I don't like how they portray the pirates in the film. That's probably just me though. Back to my blog and this coming week I hope to have out:

-Judge the album cover (Sunday)
-A review of Dio's Dream Evil as part of March Metal Madness on Monday
-A birthday wish on Tuesday

and also I hope to have out...

-A review of Saxon's Wheels of steel
-Another round of Over/Under
-Who were they? Zoetrope

Have a nice week.

Friday, March 09, 2007

"WOW!" albums

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We all have albums that we like, but I think everyone has some albums that I would think of as "WOW!" albums. What I am thinking of are albums that may be great, original or you might just hear them at the right moment. Yet for whatever reason these are albums that just have a huge impact on you when you first hear them. I remember hearing Iron Maiden's "The number of the beast" for the first time when I was like 14 and it just blew me away. The music was and is so incredible and it really impressed me and drew me in. There are a lot of albums that I would say are good or great, but not a lot that have had that kind of impact on me. Don't laugh, but for me Twisted Sister's "Stay Hungry" was a WOW album at the time I first heard it. In 1984 I was listening to the radio a lot and knew their two big singles, but hearing the entire album just struck me. It's not one of my favorite albums of all time and I don't like it as much as I once did, but it was important to me at the time and I still remember that feeling of awe. The whole energy and the importance of every song just struck a nerve at that point. When I was first getting into speed metal I would say that Metallica's Master of puppets, Slayer's reign in blood and Anthrax's Spreading the disease had a similar effect on me and actually all three of those albums still do. I didn't get into Led Zeppelin or Rush until I was 19, but I remember hearing Rush's 2112 and Led Zeppelin's Houses of the holy for the first time. This was around the same time and I heard both on a walkman after buying them. It just seemed so amazing to me to really hear the depth of their music and what I had been missing for years. Those two albums in some ways changed how I listened to music because they got me to try to listen more deeply and not just to what's on the surface. There are many more albums like this for me, but I will stop for now. Anyway I will quit rambling and just ask....

**What albums have been "WOW!" albums for you?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Current playlist

This week I have been listening to:
Dio-Dream Evil
Dark Angel-Darkness Descends
Motorhead-Kiss of death

KISS-Creatures of the night
Zoetrope-A life of crime

**What are you listening to?

Dark Angel-Darkness descends, 1986

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When you think of the LA scene in the 1980's you probably normally think of bands like Motley Crue, Ratt and Poison. However there were quite a few speed metal bands coming out of that city at the same time. Slayer and Megadeth you know about, but there was also Agent Steel, Hirax, Cryptic Slaughter, Evildead, Viking and Dark Angel. Dark Angel's debut "We have arrived" came out on a tiny label in 1985 and it was decent, but certainly rough. The band did change drummers after that as the recruited former Slayer roadie Gene Hoglan (later of Testament, Death and others) plus they landed a deal with Combat records. I listened to a lot of speed metal between say 1985 and 1993. Yet when I go back I find that a lot of bands I once loved just were not that heavy although they may have been fast. Fortunately Dark Angel do maintain that heaviness and they found a good balance between speed and heaviness. This is a fairly intense album as far as mid-80's thrash goes. At first it reminds me some of Slayer with elements of both "Reign in blood" and "Hell Awaits" yet they go beyond that and added their own ideas as well. Some of the songs are fairly long for thrash at the time and they manage to control the pace while bringing giant walls of sound at times. Dark Angel were fairly strong writers and they knew how to build a song up and that wasn't a common thing for thrash then as many bands just went for the smash ahead for three minutes approach. Still the biggest strength is the heaviness and they manage to maintain that throughout the seven songs here and keep it interesting. I think they were one of the better speed metal bands of the times for sure. I wore out my cassette of this back in high school, but I'm glad to have it on CD now.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Heavy Metal Jukebox

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It's the first full week of the month which means it's time for the Heavy Metal Jukebox. I list three songs and you pick which one you prefer. Today it's a journey back to the year 1983 so here are your choices.

Dio-Rainbow in the dark
Motley Crue-Looks that kill
Ozzy-Bark at the moon

**So which song do you choose?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007


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I was contemplating doing Supergroups as my theme week later this month, but I decided to do this post first and maybe get some ideas. Now I decided to look up the term over at Wikipedia and you can check out their entire entry here if you want to. So essentially the term "Supergroup" popped up in the 1960's. It is used to describe a group composed of individuals who have already achieved fame with other groups. Many of the groups that received this label were more rock or pop like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Blind Faith or Emerson, Lake and Palmer. In the 1980's when hard rock and metal rose in popularity it was inevitable that supergroups would form in these genres as well. To me there are two problems with this label. One is that the bands although they may be comprised of people who have done something in the past don't always deliver. Then again maybe the "super" part just refers to the members past and not to what their current product will be. My other problem is that this term has become both a catch phrase and a marketing tool. Along with legendary and classic, it seems that maybe the term supergroup is used a little too generously at times. That's another story though I guess. What I really want to do for Supergroup week is review a few albums by so-called hard rock or metal supergroups and determine if the result warrants them being called a supergroup. Right now I am considering doing the first Damn Yankees album, Blue Murder's debut and maybe David Lee Roth's Skyscraper. Eat 'em and smile might be the more appropriate choice, but I reviewed that last year as a twenty year old album review.

So my questions for you are...

What do you think of the label "Supergroup"?
Are there any "Supergroups"that I didn't mention that you may like me to review for Supergroups week?

Monday, March 05, 2007

Blog plug

I love to see new music related blogs. Here is one that is well organized and looks to be updated very regularly. It's Mama's Fallen Angels and it seems largely to be dedicated to 1980's early 90's bands. So go take a look!

Whitesnake-s/t, 1987

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In 1984 Whitesnake released "Slide it in" and it was a change in style. The band became more hard rock and they also got noticed. Fans were excited about a follow-up, but it was delayed some until the self titled release finally emerged in 1987. This is a strange one in a way because here was a band that had been around for about decade yet many people who took to this album thought they were a new band. Then again the style here is very different from the early albums as way. There is no denying that this is a good representation of a big production 80's hard rock album. The sound is very sharp production wise and you can just tell that this music was very much intended to be played in a big arena. I have always thought that David Coverdale is a very strong singer and he doesn't disappoint here. John Sykes has been sorely overlooked at times because his playing here is tight and strong on the small details. He is also a good back-up singer. Add in a solid rhythm section of former Jefferson Starship and Journey drummer Aynsley Dunbar and longtime Whitesnake bass player Neil Murray and you have a good start. Now I have to admit that I was not real fond of this album back when it was released. I loved "Slide it in", but had kind of given up waiting on the follow-up and also I was very into speed metal at the time. However time has been kind to this album and I have gotten over the many times I had to hear the hits off this song. It's holds up well and they did good job of mixing up the pace for the most part. Although I would have liked to have seen maybe one or two more rockers on it for good measure. Even though I have come to terms with the tracks that were once played to death on the radio, it's really some of the other songs that stand out to me now. Like the opener "Crying in the rain" and it's larger than life sound and spot on vocals. Then there is "Bad boys" which despite the ultra-cheese lyrics is still a catchy tune with a good opening riff and a killer solo from Sykes. "Children of the night" has an opening riff that is actually heavy enough to remind me of Dio and a big drum beat that keeps it going. However my favorite track on this album is "Straight for the heart" with it's streaming melody and a sound that's a bit of a blend of late 70's and 80's hard rock. My only real complaint about this album might be that I might have switched the last two tracks. "Don't turn away" although a decent song gets kind of lost at the end of the album. It's the ballad you don't know and it follows two of the heavier songs on the album. I think "Straight for the heart" might have been a better closer. That's a small complaint though. It's good album that has held up nicely. It was also the breakthrough for this band as it would eventually hit #2 on the Billboard charts. Unfortunately Coverdale cleaned house and the main line-up that recorded the album were replaced when video and touring time came around.

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**Remember this is March Metal Madness which means three other bloggers are reviewing this same album today. So if you have not already done so, go ahead and hop over to Hardrock hideout, Heavy metal addiction and Pulses, verses and other flotsam to read their Whitesnake reviews.

***The madness continues next Monday as all four of us will be reviewing Dio's Dream Evil.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Judge the album cover

Originally I was only going to show one cover, but I decided to show two because they are very similar. Both done around the same time, both depict bands on big vehicles, both are LA bands and actually both were originally released by Enigma records. So first here is Stryper's 1985 album Soldiers under command.

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Next is Lizzy Borden's 1986 release Menace to society.

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Do you like either album cover or both, dislike them or just think they are okay?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What's coming up?

Finally the ice has just about melted here after being on the ground for the last two weeks. So the weather has reminded me of Metallica's "Trapped under ice" off of Ride the lightning. Hopefully Spring will be here soon. I did pick up Runaway Train on DVD for $5.50 at Wal-mart last night and I am looking forward to watching it because I have not seen it in some time. Anyways, here 's what I hope to have out this week.

-On Sunday I will have another Judge the album cover.
-Then on Monday we will kick off March Metal Madness with reviews of Whitesnake's self-titled album from 1987.

-Dark Angel-Darkness Descends review
-Another Heavy Metal Jukebox segment
and probably one other topic.

Have a good week and hope the weather is nice where you are at!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Jimi Hendrix Expierience-Are you experienced?, 1967

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Backround-Jimi Hendrix was a self taught guitarist who spent the early and mid-60's as a back-up player for various blues based bands. Then he was "discovered", signed, paired up with a Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell and his debut was set to be released. Can this album really be forty years old? I guess it is so I am going to give it a spin and see how it holds up.

1. Purple Haze-It begins with a basic riff, but things pick up quickly. It's a good example of the band's ability to control the pace.

2. Manic Depression-Comes on with a very thick, chugging guitar sound. I love the drum sound and it flows beautifully

3. Hey Joe-This is a cover song and it's a very slow tempo with song sharp guitar and thick vocals. It's a good change of pace at this point.

4. Love Or Confusion-A mid-tempo song with a great solo. The transition from the jam back into the main riff is also worth noting.

5. May This Be Love-A really relaxed track for the band. A fairly even sound, but it works because it's so different.

6. I Don't Live Today-A very energetic track with the rhythm section really standing out. It's busy, but not overdone.

7. The Wind Cries Mary- I think this is Hendrix's best vocal performance on this album and maybe the best written song here. It manages to be tight yet it really takes hold of you as well.

8. Fire-This song has a real groove to it and it sounds very natural which is important.

9. Third Stone From The Sun-The longest track on the album. The music just kind of floating at times, but it has a real groove to it.

10. Foxey Lady-Alright, this song is hard for me to take due to hearing it way too much. That scene with Garth in Wayne's World didn't help it any. To be fair the music is thick and has some good chops to it. I just have trouble swallowing the lyrics.

11. Are You Experienced?-It has an odd riff and layed back vocals. I like it because it doesn't feel the need to do too much yet you will remember it.

Verdict/Final Word- The debut of the Jimi Hendrix Experience is surprisingly solid for a debut. It's also surprisingly diverse for the time as far as merging different musical styles. Not just merging, but doing a fairly seamless job of it as well. Hendrix wasn't just creating hard rock guitar, he was conquering it. Not only that, but he made it sound and look easy. Hendrix was without a doubt the best guitarist of all time. It's not just because he could rip off solos, although that helps. He knew when to use speed and when to use different tones. He also when not to use as in he didn't feel that he always had to do a solo just for the sake of doing it. That's a trap that too many so called "guitar heroes" fall into. Hendrix was like the guy who knew he could do it all, but he didn't have to prove himself at every opportunity because when the time came it would be there. "Axis: Bold as love" is probably my favorite Hendrix album, but "Are you experienced?" was one of the most important albums of it's time and still is relevant to music today. It's a shame his life and his music career were cut short. Yet he did more in a short time then most musicians do in longer careers. Just an amazing album and it certainly deserves to be called a classic.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Current playlist and a question

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Lately I have been listening to:
Lots of Rush
Lots of KISS
Lots of Tigertailz
Judas Priest-Painkiller
Kublai Khan-Annihilation
Cry Wolf- Crunch

****Here's a question for you. Let's say you get to unload a cd you were not happy with. Let's say you have the chance to return any one cd and get back exactly what you paid for it. It has to have been something you bought new not used and it has to have been purchased in the last two years. Do you have a cd you would return?