Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Picture-Diamond Dreamer + Picture 1 (2014 CD Re-Issue)

Tribunal Records/Divebomb Records

With 2013 having been such a banner year for re-releases (can you say Nitro and Mox Nix my friends?) one would have to wonder just how 2014 could possibly hope to stack up. With this recently released double album* (1982's "Diamond Dreamer" and 1980's "Picture 1") from Divebomb Records, which (incidentally) is a division of North Carolina-based Tribunal Records (an independent label which has been going strong since 1999!) the answer would seem to be "Just Fine, Thank You Very Much"! Combining Dutch heavy metal band Picture's first and third full-length albums onto one re-mastered CD, with a nice glossy booklet filled with pictures, a bio and lyrics serving as the icing on the cake, this re-release is nothing less than a thing of beauty for fans and collectors alike! Now, this isn't the first time that Picture's "Diamond Dreamer" has been re-released on CD. In 2001 it was re-released with the band's forth full-length release, 1983's "Eternal Dark". That said, this is the first time that these two classics (along with 1981's "Heavy Metal Ears" and 1983's "Eternal Dark") are seeing a North American release and in such grand fashion to boot! Kudos to Tribunal Records/Divebomb Records for that! Now, seeing as I first discovered Picture some 13 years or so back (thanks in no small part to a former co-worker of mine/long-standing friend Tim) I'll all too familiar with both "Diamond Dreamer" and "Picture 1". For my money though they have never sounded as good, or for that matter as clean and as clear, as they do on this one collection! Of course my copies were not originals as these releases have been out of print now for something like 15 years! As the CD starts off with "Diamond Dreamer" album I think that is where I will start things off. By that point in their career Picture had enlisted a new lead vocalist in Israeli-born Sammy Avigal. In hindsight Sammy, known in Picture at the time as "Shmoulik" Avigal, would go on to have quite the career playing with, amongst others, Dutch bands Horizon and Hammerhead as well as briefly fronting The Rods and being involved with the Jack Starr project/one-off, Guardians of the Flame. On the excellent "Diamond Dreamer" we find that Avigal, who shared a love for the band Rainbow with Picture guitarist/keyboardist Jan Bechtum, ends up sounding a lot like a certain Ronnie James Dio while the band (rounded out on both of these albums by bassist Rinus Vrugdenhil and drummer Laurens "Bakkie" Bakker) channels the spirit of bands like Judas Priest and UFO as well as some of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene with a dash or two of Saxon! Speaking of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene, "Picture 1", which featured Ronald van Prooijen handling lead vocals, very easily could have been mistaken for a N.W.O.B.H.M. product, but not in the way most people would automatically think! On their first album the very talented Picture play a simple (and yet legitimately effective!) blend of heavy rock and seventies hard rock that is, besides being a bit bluesy in places, down to earth and remarkably charming! On the N.W.O.B.H.M. side of things there are more then a few songs on "Picture 1" that could have easily fit in well (side by side) with the likes of Sledgehammer, Toad the Wet Sprocket, E.F. Band, Nutz and Praying Mantis on the the first "Metal For Muthas" compilation! Additionally fans of  N.W.O.B.H.M. acts like White Spirit, Chevy, Stampede, Trespass and Weapon would probably get a kick out of  a lot of the material on "Picture 1" as would anyone who enjoyed Hammerhead's collection, "Will To Survive"! Of the two release "Diamond Dreamer" has the better production although, seeing as they have both been touched up here for these re-released sets, that's really not much of an issue. As far as which one would I consider to be the better album? That's a real toss up as they both offer different and distinctive sides of Picture while they also showcase a Dutch heavy metal act that had the ability to not only roll with the changes but effectively adapt with whatever curve-ball was thrown their way. It's probably a cop-out, but I enjoy both of these releases equally on their own terms as they both have plenty to offer! And, even if I have had the pleasure of listening to these two releases over the years, time and time again in many states of mind, when they are presented in this format (with the nice booklet and improved sound) it's almost as if we are talking about a brand new version of Picture! These are definitely fitting re-release for this classic Dutch band! Both sets of releases can be purchased at the link below. Hopefully I'll get around to covering the "Eternal Dark"/"Heavy Metal Ears" set by the weekend. At $15.00 a piece** they are quite reasonable especially considering the fact that (as of the last time I checked mind you) previous CD re-releases of Picture's first four full-length albums are going for well over $100 a piece ! While I wouldn't say that these albums are not worth such change (as these are every bit the classic albums we're talking about here friends!) I would say that $15.00 per CD set (plus shipping of course!) is more then reasonable! Whether you are looking to replace your older, worn-out copies of these albums or you are new to the band this two-album set, along with the other (soon-to-be reviewed) one, is a must pick-up!

 * The CD artwork pictured above is simply used to demonstrate that both albums are on the one set. On both CD sets you can use whichever piece of album artwork you prefer (in this case it could be "Picture 1" or "Diamond Dreamer") by simply flipping around the booklet!

**If you buy both sets there is a reduced shipping option for international orders. Also, while supplies last (as there are only 100 99 of these things on hand!), if you buy both sets at the same time you can get a free Picture logo magnet! As this is a limited time offer (or until they are all gone!) it would probably be a wise idea to act fast folks!

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