I have talked about Supergroups on my site before. Normally I think that it is a very misleading label. It's given to bands where at least some of the members have previously been in known bands. I think the term tends to raise expectations, but it doesn't mean the finished product is going to be much good. Most Supergroups tend to sound like good ideas on paper, but then the album comes out and you wonder what happened. The Supergroups in question todays are...
Damn Yankees-s/tContraband was a side project for all involved as they were all still in their main bands. Damn Yankees became a regular band for those involved at least for a few years. So both a little different right away in that aspect. Let's break these down.VocalsTommy Shaw and Jack Blades take on Richard Black. Black seems like the odd man out in Contraband as Shark Island were barely known at this point or really ever. However I liked their debut, but here he sounds like he is going through the motions on much of the material. It's not off, but very bland. Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades are smooth, but frequently very sugary in their approach. I guess that's a large of what appealed to some people about this band, but I found it to be mediocre. However the Damn Yankees guys had a sense of order and came across as enjoying what they were doing.Point to Damn YankeesGuitarsTed Nugent and Tommy Shaw for Damn Yankees going up against Michael Schenker and Tracii Guns for Contraband. First off, I normally like the Nuge a lot. However on this project he sounds very restrained. He and Shaw just stay below the surface only peeking up occasion with a few decent runs here and there. Schenker and Tracii Guns would be pick for guys who should have been the storng point of their band. However that was before I played this disc. Like everyone else in their project they just seem to be phoning it in. They hit the notes, but they lack any real passion or much of any spark whatsover. Point to Damn YankeesRhythm section
Bassist Jack Blades and drummer Michael Cartellone of Damn Yankees take on bass player Share Pederson and drummer Bobby Blotzer. If the possible strong players Contraband above couldn't do much then the weak links (the rhythm section) would seem less likely to shine. At least I am right on this call. The drums and bass are about as bland and run of the mill as it can get. Blades does enough sound like he is doing his job and Cartellone might even be a hair better than that.
Point to Damn Yankees
Contraband take on a number of cover songs and add very little to them. However the originals are even worse. Again it's not that they are out of tune, but rather they show the energy that most of us would give to a task like turning off a light switch. Damn Yankees combine AOR and hard rock that wasn't particularly new or all that inspired for 1990, but it was tight. Production on both is typical for early 90's hard rock as both have reasonbly decent sound, but virtually no edge whatsoever.
Point to Damn YankeesWho rocks more?Again if either band really rocked they wouldn't be here in the first place. Contraband try to tie up everything, but there just isn't much there to grab onto. There are no hooks and even less soul. Damn Yankees are fluffy, but they move around at least. Contraband was a real challenge to get through as I could feel it dulling my senses with each passing second. Damn Yankees wasn't a treat, but it certainly wasn' difficult to get through.Point to Damn YankeesA clean sweep for Damn Yankees. It's not that they were that good, but rather that Contraband were really that bad. According to Richard Black the band never met while recording. They only met for photo sessions. Plus Black is the only member who contributed to the writing. All of that shows up in the final sound. It just sounds a project that wasn't thought through very well.
Labels: Contraband, Damn Yankees, Lesser of two evils