Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The dumpster story

Vinyl week continues with a real story from my past. In 1997 I was living in a dump of an apartment with a friend and his brother. This was an apartment where if you turned the stove on to cook, five minutes later twenty cockroaches would be running out from behind the stove to flee the heat. You couldn't put bagged food like chips or biscuit mix in the lower cabinets because mice would chew into it. It was a dump, but it was all we could afford at the time. My roommates weren't big on cleaning up so I always had to empty the trash. One day I was taking the trash to the dumpster and opened up the door and stood in shook at what I saw in the dumpster. The inside of the dumpster had piles of albums scattered across the bottom. This was a big dumpster and it must have been emptied not too long before because the albums looked to be the only thing in it even though it still had a very strong sour smell and lots of flies were still hanging around. The records were down too far for me to reach without getting in to the thing. On the top it was just things like Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, but I thought maybe down below that are some good ones. I didn't want to get into the thing so I went and got my broom and started reaching in and using the handle to push the albums around to see what was below the top layer. I rescued a copy of the Police's Synchronicity from the pile even though I already had a copy. Then I pulled out a couple of B-52's albums. I was getting the hang of pushing through the albums with the broom by this point and then I spotted some red lettering that I knew, it was the Iron Maiden logo. I pushed aside the albums covering it and pulled it over to me so I could get it out and I had copy of Maiden Japan. I had hit paydirt, a metal album for free, but maybe there were even more metal albums in there somewhere. I kept pushing aside albums hoping for something then finally at the bottom in the corner I uncovered a copy of Motorhead's Six songs live. This was an import recorded in 1980 and it went for about $12.00 new. It was even in a record bag. I tried repeatedly to pull it over to me with the broom, but it wasn't budging. I finally knew that I couldn't pull it over with the broom without risking damaging the album. Hell, it was Motorhead so I had to go in. I jumped into the dumpster and grabbed it and sorted through some other album with my hands then I had scurrying sounds from underneath the albums and decided to leave. I was happy with my free albums and I still have all of them. So I would even jump into a dumpster for free vinyl.

Next up will be the Vinyl Countdown 1970's edition.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Ten vinyl bargains

I am not a record collector in the sense that I don't know how much certain items I have are worth. However I used to buy a number of albums at record stores so I have an idea of how much items cost and how hard they were to find. These may not be the ten rarest items I own, but they are all ones that I like a lot and are at least a little rare as far as I know. Also all of these albums are also ones that I got cheap. Just the fact that they were all made in the 1980's or earlier makes them sort of rare at this point. I may not be able to remember what I ate for lunch yesterday, but I can tell you where I got each of my albums from.

10.Metallica-Creeping Death 12 inch single, 1984
Not super rare, but I got it new for maybe $6.00 back in 1986. Cool cover and it's on green vinyl.

9.Judas Priest- Sad Wings of Destiny picture disc, 1983
I picked this sucker up at a yard sale for $3.00 in 1992. Never saw it in any record stores.

8.Mercyful Fate- Black Masses/Black Funeral 12 inch single, 1983
I got this at a Mall record store for $4.99 new in 1988. Not hugely uncommon but it was a good find as a five year old import at the time and I am sure it's going for far more money now as well.

7.Holocross-s/t, 1988
Not an import, but this Pittsburgh based speed metal band released their only album on tiny New Renaissance records. I used to have it on cassette, but got this when I bought out most of my friend's record collection. They had a lot of energy and it still sounds as good today as it did back then. It has not been released on CD.

6.Black Sabbath-Live at last, no listed release date
This album was recorded in 1972 and was released by a tiny label from Holland, I believe. Normally you only saw this on cassette for cheap prices back then, but I saw it on vinyl for $5.00 new and snagged it. Some people frown on it because there are no overdubs or attempts to clean up the original recording, but that's part of the appeal to me. It's early Sabbath live and that's enough for me.

5.Twisted Sister-Under the blade picture disc, 1985
I got this at a record store that was going out of business in 1989 and it cost me $4.00 new. I have the Secret records version as well, but I have not seen this picture disc too often.

4.Medieval- Medieval Kills, 1987
Another album released on New Renaissance records. This Michigan band combined metal with almost a garage sound and it is fantastic. It's mid-tempo, but solid pounding metal and they had a fairly original sound. I picked this up used at a record store in 1988 for probably $3.00. If you ever see it then do yourself a favor and pick it up. It has not been released on CD.

3.AC/DC- High Voltage, Australian version 1975
I bought this used for $5.00 at a record store in 1987. A few of the songs have never been released in the states. Hearing songs I had never heard before with Bon Scott singing was well worth the price.

2.Ozzy- The Ultimate live Ozzy, 1986
I believe it was an American release, but not that easy to find. I got my copy for $2.00 at the same yard sale I bought the Sad wings of Destiny picture disc. Has pictures of Ozzy and Jake E. Lee with the girl from the Shot in the dark video.

1.Venom- Manitou 12" single, 1984
I have a pretty good Venom collection. This one I got used for $4.00 in 1988 and I think it goes for a pretty good price on ebay now. One of my favorite Venom songs as well and a cool cover.

There are a few of my prized vinyls. The next topic for vinyl week will be a true story involving a dumpster.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

What's so good about vinyl?

Around 1989-90 albums started to be phased out and less and less recordings were coming out on vinyl. I remember getting a lot of new albums cheap at the time from record stores and other sources. And through the early to mid 90's, new recordings on album all but disappeared. Since say the late 90's albums have come back to some extent. There is a small section of them at the record store I go to, many fetch high prices on eBay and there a number of bands who release their new recordings on vinyl. So there is still some love out there for the vinyl, but it is all just old geezers like me who were raised on them? I would tend to think so, but I am not for sure on that. So what is the appeal of albums?
The big thing about CD's when they emerged in the mid-80's was the sound quality. Supporters of the CD said they had a clearer sound, no pops and hisses plus they didn't scratch as easily as the albums. That is true, but albums have bigger covers and they can have gatefolds, colored vinyl and picture discs. That's just the things that happen before you put it on the turntable. Now if you hate any extra noise or just like to skip and pick through songs then albums probably annoy you. If the music is good then that's going to come through so some pops and static shouldn't effect it as long as you are focused on what matters the most and that's the music. There's just something very magical to me about holding that album delicately and placing it on the turntable and waiting for the music. I love CD's too, but it's almost like we have gotten spoiled because the whole process has become so easy. Maybe that just makes me a dinosaur, but I do still like albums. Well, this is just the first topic of the week, but stay tuned because there is much more coming during vinyl week. I think my next topic will be ten hard rock/metal albums that are sort of rare that I own and why I like them.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Laaz Rockit- Know your enemy

This LA band recently reformed after playing at a benefit concert not too long ago. I am not sure if they plan on recording anytime soon, but they have played a few shows. This is a review of their third album which came out in 1987. It was probably their most successful album and it marked a change in style for them. These guys released albums in 84 and 85 and although they had a few fast songs, they were much more a mid-paced metal band like Saxon or Armored Saint. They did open for Exciter and Motorhead in 85 so they saw the growing speed metal scene first hand. In 1987 they had signed to Enigma and decided make the change to being a speed metal band probably due to the fact that speed metal had become very hot in between 85 and 87. So they dropped their semi-flashy costumes started wearing t-shirts and jeans and they sped up their sound. They also added a mascot who appears on this cover and all of their following albums. Never heard his name, but he seems to be a mercenary with a skunk stripe in his hair. A lot of their songs seem to take on a war theme as well to go along with the band name and the mascot. Their music isn't completely removed from their previous two efforts, but they had enough chunky riffs to raise up to the level of speed metal. At times they take are very simple and repetitive as with Last Breath, Shot to hell and Shit's Ugly (no, I am not making this alst one up). However other songs like Most Dangerous Game and I'm Electric show the band's ability combine speed with some good paces changes thrown in as well. Laaz Rockit did gain more a little success after their shift to being a speed metal band, but they never made it to the level of say Overkill or Exodus let alone the big names like Anthrax and Slayer. This is an enjoyable album and maybe almost as good as I remember it back in 1987.

Vinyl week starts on Sunday!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Next week will be vinyl week

I have not had a theme for the week before unless you count my top ten countdown last month, but I will be doing one next week. It is going to be vinyl week, no this doesn't involve me sitting on an old couch that squeaks when I move on it, but rather vinyl as in albums, lp's, you know the round black discs that people used to listen to and some idiots would scratch up. I probably won't post every day next week, but all the posts I do make will be about this one topic in some way. I will be doing my monthly review of a 20 year old album at the end of next week. It will be Ozzy's the Ultimate Sin and I will listen to it on, you guessed it vinyl. I also plan on discussing the pros and cons of vinyl and the big event of the week will be two lists of recordings worth owning on vinyl. I will have one list for the 1970's and one for the 80's and they will be called the vinyl countdown. There may not be any record enthusiasts out there and you may think I am really a dinosaur for talking about this, but it will only be for one week. I may do other themes every once in a while as well. I am considering doing a movie week where I will just do reviews of heavy metal related movies for one week. We will see how it goes next week with vinyl week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

High on fire- Blessed black wings

This album came out a while ago, but they are still touring for it so I still consider it kind of current. Anyway this is the third outing from this California trio fronted by former Sleep guitarist Matt Pike. The first impression that they sound not unlike a cross between Motorhead and Slayer. The first several songs are fairly straight ahead and basic, but certainly heavy. Around the middle the album things slow down a bit more on the title track and To cross the bridge and we hear some of the heavy sludge that was the backbone of Matt Pike's former band Sleep. These guys are very heavy for sure, but my only complaint is that it is very basic. Yes, yes, I know that I love a number of bands that are basic. I just feel that after listening to this album could have easily been done in 1992 instead of 2004. My problem with that is that a lot of people of trumpeting these guys as being a great thing for heavy metal, but I think they are not breaking any new ground. I appreciate and recognize their energy, but I see them as merely good rather great. There are a few moments where they get beyond a basic formula like on the excellent instrumental Sons of Thunder which is just dripping with heavy 70's inspired riffs.For the most part they are not as complex as Sleep were before their break-up in the late 90's and I miss that. If you like your metal simple, heavy and to the point then you can't go wrong with this album. It also comes with a dvd with a few live tracks of the band playing in a small club which manages to capture the energy these guys bring.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Vote for a review

Here is your chance to get your say on what album I review. Once a month I review a twenty year old album so I need twelve albums to review. I have already done one for the year and I am pretty sure of eight others that I want to do which means I need three more. So I have decided that three times this year I would offer choices and you the reader get to vote for what 1986 album I will review. I will be reviewing Ozzy's the Ultimate Sin for February, but you will get to vote on what album I review in March. I will do one of these votes now, one in the summer and one in the fall and there will be a different theme each time. This time the theme will be hair metal so here are three 1986 albums to choose from.

Poison-Look what the cat dragged in

Ratt-Dancing Undercover

Stryper-To hell with the devil

So all you have to do is comment as to which of these albums you want me to review in March. I will figure some sort of a tiebreaker in the result of a tie vote. You have until February 15th to vote. So here's your chance, if you think I might write an interesting review on Poison or Ratt then you can pick one of those or you may say "That Metal Mark rubs me the wrong way so I want to stick it to him and force him to have to listen to Stryper!" then you can vote that way as well. So cast your vote now.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Heavy Metal fashion no-no's

Let loose the balloons and the confetti! Why? Because this is my 100th post. Well, not that big a deal, but I am surprised that I have managed to do that many. For the momentous occasion, I decided to list the 10 worst heavy metal fashions that I could think of. You may say that it doesn't matter how a band dresses and that it is the music that counts and you would be right. Yet I know that I have judged bands based on their appearance before so it can make a difference. So here are the top ten heavy metal fashion offenses, the culprits and the date or tour that the crime was committed.

10.Wearing brightly colored jock straps and cups over your pants- committed by Raven 1985-87
They were actually an established band before they started doing this, but they started wearing them about the time they got signed to a major label.
9.Wearing outfits covered in graffiti- Twisted Sister 1985
For the Come out and play tour Dee Snider wore an outfit that looked like it was covered in graffiti and the other guys wore new costumes as well. Their was planned for six months, but was cancelled after just three weeks of playing half empty arenas.
8. Wearing leather outfits with bright colored swirly patterns- Judas Priest 1986
Not the worst outfits around, but it makes my list because these guys were one of the founders of wearing basic black leather. Yet after being in the business for over ten years they came out on the Turbo tour wearing outfits that made them look like Circus performers.
7. Wearing suits of armor and chainmail- Armored Saint 1983-84
Normally just two members would wear suits of armor and have a battle at the start of the show. They also wore chainmail during early performances. Not the worst crime in the world,but these guys were such a great band that they did not need the gimmicks.
6.Wearing large bowties with polka dots- Quiet Riot 1979
I still remember the first time I saw the late Randy Rhoads wearing a blue vest and matching large bow tie that were both covered with white polka dots. No wonder those first two albums were only released in Japan.
5-Anything worn by Paul Stanley- Paul Stanley 1985-86
On the Asylum tour Paul Stanley wore a few really bad outfits. Such as the green and pink overcoat with matching gloves. There was also some lovely outfit that looked to be comprised of numerous ripped pink and purple t-shirts. Perhaps these outfits were worn to blind people so they wouldn't realize that Paul Stanley was no longer playing his guitar by this point.
4-Wearing baggy jacket and pant suits- Dokken 1985
I wasn't sure how to describe them, but I am referring to the outfits worn on the cover of Under lock and key. This was also right around the time that the band starting having trouble getting along. Coincidence? I would begin to resent someone if they made me wear one of those.
3-Wearing a loincloth and nothing else- Ted Nugent 1980-81
It couldn't be comfortable to wear and it's no joy to look at either.
2-Wearing chaps with no pants underneath- David Lee Roth 1986-88, Blackie Lawless of WASP 1984
Please, there are men in the audience. Have mercy upon their eyes.
1-Wearing outfits of yellow and black stripes- Stryper 1983-1988
At no time in the recorded history of man has it been cool to look like a giant bumble bee.

Now here is the other side of the coin.

Top five best dressed metal bands or artists
1. Motorhead - Black leather, denim and plain t-shirts have always been cool.
2. Iron Maiden - A bit more flashy than Motorhead, but still simple and cool.
3. Alice Cooper- Generally he has worn black leather and occasionally the white jacket with matching white top hat with blood splatters. The cane is cool as well.
4. Metallica (1983-87)- They went on stage in the same clothes they wore on the street. Cliff Burton wore bellbottoms in the 80's and a denim jacket in 80 degree weather. They also wore shirts of the bands they liked and didn't even matter if it was punk bands like the Misfits and GBH. I put the years down because they did slow down on wearing other bands shirts around 1988.
5. Ronnie James Dio- Always fairly simple and normally black with some other color thrown in. He has been in the game for a long time and has always relied on his talent more than an image, but he normally looked cool along the way. Even though he may have had to buy child sized outfits.

Now I am off to plan my next 100 posts.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Hollywood Rose- The roots of Guns and Roses

This was released back in 2004, but I just now got around to listening to it. It is five demo tracks done by Hollywood Rose back in 1984. This was the band that Guns and Roses would evolve from. At this time it was Axl, Izzy Stradlin and a second guitarist named Chris Weber. They hired a drummer named Johnny Kreis just to play on the demo and Stradlin and Weber shared the bass duties. First up is Killing Time and it's a bit heavier and faster than a lot of the songs on Appetite, but really shows a lot of fire. Axl's vocals are somewhat like the Axl we know, but you can tell that he hasn't quite figured out his style yet. Next is an early version of Anything Goes and it's much more raw and straight ahead than the version we all know, but their energy really shines through. Rocker is track three and it's probably the weakest song here. The music is good, but very basic and Axl vocals sound he is trying to imitate Rob Halford from say the early days of Judas Priest. Shadow of your love is next and it's my favorite of the five. Very energetic and Axl's vocals are really in your face. Wreckless Life shows a bit more variation in pace and the vocals are very strong here as well. So there are only five songs, but three different versions of each. The first five are the original 1984 demos and the quality is overall decent for a demo. The next five are the same songs only they are remixed by former G-n-R guitarist Gilby Clark and two of the songs feature guitar overdubs by Traci Guns. Traci replaced Chris Weber for a while in the band so it's kind of cool that he got to add to this remix. The next set of remixes are done by Cinderella drummer Fred Coury and they are the best quality versions of the three. These early demos show the spark the band had some three years before Appetite and quite honestly I like these songs better than the Live like a suicide material from 1986. No matter what you think of G-n-R I think they were always leaders rather than followers and I think these songs reflect that.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Metal in 1986

My wife got the movie Pretty in pink at Wal-mart for $4.88 the other day and we watched it yesterday. Now the thing that stood out for me was that everyone who was part of the in crowd dressed like Don Johnson and everyone who was a misfit dressed like they were in Culture Club. Now we know how Hollywood can really make a mess out of portraying teens, but I seem to remember 1986 being at least a little cooler than it was portrayed in this movie. In looking back, I think 1986 was a year where a lot of sub genres of metal came into the foreground. More traditional acts like Ozzy, Maiden and Priest had success in 1986, but hair bands like Poison and Cinderella emerged and bands on the other end of the spectrum like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer came out of the underground and started to get large followings. Overall it was a good year for metal as a lot of bands really saw some success. However this kind of success began to open the gates for what would eventually become a real flooding of the market where everyone with long hair and an amp was getting a record deal. Still I would say 83-87 was probably the real peak for metal and a lot of great albums came out. I think a lot of bands like Slayer and Poison surprised their record labels with the success they had that year because the expectations were not that high. By the late 80's I think there was more pressure to really succeed because the companies were determined to milk metal for all it was worth and some bands got pressured into making sound changes and some good bands were dumped rather quickly. Still I am just a fan and maybe I don't completely understand the music industry and it's probably a good thing that I don't because it would probably just make me madder. I would definitely say that metal was far different by the end of 86 than it was at the beginning of the year.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Current playlist

Here is an easy one for me to write, but I just wanted to share what I am currently listening to and there are descriptions for ones that you may not be familiar with. These are probably the ten albums I have been listening to the most over say the last two or three weeks.

Witchcraft- Firewood
Great early 70's metal style album.

Tigertailz-Original Sin
Lost demos by great glam band from Wales.

Deep Purple- Machine Head: Anniversary 2 cd set

Motorhead- Inferno
Maybe their best album since Bastards.

Iron Maiden- Killers
I may be in a small group of people who really just love this album.

Sheavy- Republic
Not sure if it's that great, but it has interested me enough to listen to it a lot. I may review this soon.

Razzle Dazzle- What the hell?
Italian glam band that sound kind of like early Motley Crue. Unfortunately their new album kind of blows.

Overkill- Horrorscope
My favorite Overkill album and one of the best albums of 1991.

Tigertailz- Bezerk
This 1990 album was re-issued in the fall. I don't like their second singer as much, but I like these guys a lot. Shades of Poison, Van Halen, Cheap Trick but they have heavier elements as well.

Star Star - Lovedrag Years
A real find for $2.99 from the bargain bin. This 1992 album sounds like Faster Pussycat meets Hanoi Rocks. Good stripped down glam metal.

What are you currently listening to?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sitting on the shelf

This doesn't seem to happen that often, but sometimes a band records an album and for some reason it doesn't get released and so it sits somewhere. Recently the Classic Metal Show played a Vinnie Vincent album called Guitars from Hell. Mr. Vincent of course played with Kiss in 82-83 and then had his own band the Vinnie Vincent Invasion which at one time featured Mark Slaughter and Dana Strum of Slaughter. Guitars from hell never got released because Vinnie couldn't find a label to sign him. If you ever heard the Vinnie Vincent Invasion then you can probably understand why no one would sign him again, but this is a good example of what I want to talk about. A far better band was Tora, Tora who were a bit like a cross between Tesla and late 80's Aerosmith. They did two albums on A&M records in 89 and 92. I read an interview with their bass player last year who said they did record a third album in 1994, but A&M decided not to release it so it sits on a shelf somewhere. There was a speed metal band from Boston called Executioner who did two albums in the late 80's and I liked these guys a lot. Their label went under shortly before they recorded a third album, but they recorded it in 1990 and shopped it around. They couldn't find a label to release it and they broke up. In 2001 the drummer decided to release it himself on cd so it did eventually see the light of day. There are a few record labels around now that are re-releasing more obscure metal albums, but also releasing demos of bands that never got signed or were not able to get their albums released. Does anyone else know of an album that is sitting on a shelf?

Monday, January 16, 2006

Life, sex and death: A memory

This was a concert experience that is burned into my brain and not for any good reasons. It was the summer of 1992 and I went with a friend to see George Lynch's band Lynch Mob at a club that no longer exists. The opening act was a band called Life, sex and death. I had just seen an ad for their album right before seeing them, but knew nothing about their sound. Metal was on the decline at this time and had been so for almost a year, but a lot of bands could still fill up clubs in certain areas and Baltimore always seemed to have had a big audience for glam and commercial metal. The club was pretty full and everyone was waiting for the opening band. A long haired guy wearing no shirt and what could only be described leather hot pants came on stage and we realized he must be the bands guitarist as he strapped the guitar on. You certainly wouldn't know he was the guitarist from his playing ability as he began to hit a few sour notes and bang the body of the guitar against the amp which also made even more unpleasant noises. Then a guy wearing a tattered suit and bent glasses climbed onto the speakers and sat there talking some gibberish into the mic. Apparently this band had a genius "gimmick" of having a lead singer who was supposedly a homeless person. Then the bass player and drummer came on stage although their talent was of about the same level as the guitarist. The music just ground on with simple bar chords being played in between bizarre off beat noise. The singer or at least the homeless guy with the mic. continued ranting guttural ramblings and moved around the stage hunched over and making a face like he smelled something rotten. My jaw was on the floor and what started out as what I thought was a bad joke got worse as these guys played this garbage for about 40 minutes. What's worse was some people cheered for them and it was early so being drunk probably wasn't the excuse for everyone. What's worse than that was after the show I found out that these guys were on Reprise records which is a part of Warner Brothers. The label that had signed Hendrix and Van Halen signed a band who couldn't play and pretended they had a homeless person as their front man. No wonder metal died at this time as major labels were singing jokers like this. I believe they only did the one album so that was good news. My belief is that some record executive at WB perceived these guys as being a band that would appeal to fans of metal and the growing alternative scene and signed them. The problem was they must not have actually listened to the band before signing them. There were a lot of inexplicable label signings between say 1988 and 1992. Labels signed bands just because they knew metal was big and thought they should have metal bands, but they didn't really consider how good the band was or how the band should be marketed. This resulted in trash like these guys being on a major and talented bands being left by the wayside because their labels didn't know how to promote them. The flooding of the metal market that happened at that time is a topic that I will probably bring up in greater length at another time.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

White Sister- S/T

No, I am not making this band name up. These guys did two albums in the mid-80's and generally got some good reviews. I saw the band name in a catalog called Metal Disc probably 20 years ago and wondered what they were like. I bought it recently for a decent price and gave it a listen. If an 80's band had a full time keyboard player then you could probably guess they would be kind of on the light side of hard rock and White Sister fall into that category. They have split vocal duties as the bass player and keyboard player each sing lead on five tracks. This album was done in 1984 and there is a big Journey influence with a lot of melodies and in your face keyboards. There are a number of nice guitar riffs as well from Rick Chaddock who would later form Tatoo Rodeo. The guitar parts tend to remind me of Dokken from say Under lock and key. My biggest problem with the album is that it's just not that memorbale. They are good musicians, but the writing is overall just very plain. The songs tend to wander a little bit instead of flowing. The album was produced by Greg Guiffria (Angel, House of Lords and Guiffria) and he is also credited with additional keyboards as if it needed additional keyboards. The keys are a bit too far in the foreground for my tastes, but keyboard player Garri Brandon is a better singer than bass player Dennis Chruchill. Brandon definitely has a rougher more rock sounding voice. Not as good as I had hoped, but decent enough. I am always thrilled to find out what some barely known 80's hard rock band sounded like. That's just me I guess, but I may have some more short reviews of obscure and not so obscure albums coming soon.

Friday, January 13, 2006

It's a boy!

Five minutes after I made my last post, my wife said " My water just broke." This was a real surprise as he was not due for another four weeks. We went to the hospital and Metalboy was born late Monday night. That is not his real name, but it will work for these purposes. He had some problems with vomiting and has had several tests and everything has come up normal and his problem seems to have subsided. So he and my wife will be coming home tomorrow. I have spent the last few days here at the house with Metalgirl who will soon be two. That is why I have not been posting. I will probably try to get back to posting some once things are back in order which should be soon.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Page!

Jimmy Page turns 62 today so Happy Birthday to him. If you ever read Hammer of the gods then you are probably amazed that he has lived to see this age. I wish him well and I plan on celebrating the event by listening to Houses of the Holy in it's entirety on my way to work today. It's also my father's birthday and the birthday of one of my friends so Happy Birthday to them as well.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

What will Metallica do?

Metallica were in the news recently as rumors were spreading that Rick Rubin would produce their next album. Lars Ulrich said that is not true and that Bob Rock is the only producer they are planning on using in the future. They are planning on releasing a new studio album in late 06/early 07. That's a long ways off, but not too early to speculate on what it will sound like. Let's face it, no matter your personal views are on St. Anger the response was overwhelmingly negative towards it. There are fans who like say the first three albums and didn't like And justice for all or the black album then there were fans who loved the black album and hated the Load albums. Yet St. Anger seemed to have received more criticism than other prominent metal/hard rock album in recent memory even though I know the band stands by it. So where do Metallica go next? It's hard to say because they haven't always followed the trends or been predictable. And justice for all was a huge succes, but then they went to much more stripped down sound for the black album. The black album was huge, but then they went for a heavier more rock album for load. Any ideas, speculations, hopes or concerns for the next Metallica album?

Departed in 2005

I meant to write this before the New Year, but that did not happen. I wanted to say a few words about some people who passed away in 2005, one from my life and two musicians.

I had a friend and co-worker who lost her two and a half year battle with cancer. She had a tough life, but she was one of the most upbeat people that I have ever met. She was always excited about life and friendly to everyone no matter what. She taught me to calm down some at work trying and to worry too far ahead. I saw her three weeks before she passed away and even then she was still hopeful that she could come back to work. She got to see her oldest son get married just hours before she passed away. She will be greatly missed.

David Wayne was the former singer of Metal Church and Reverend. He was in a bad car accident early last year and then died from complications relating to the accident on May 10th, 2005. He was 47 years old. I remember the first time I heard Metal Church's The dark in the fall of 1986. The first thing I noticed was Wayne's rough vocals and how they truly added to heavy sound of Metal Church. He left Metal Church and formed his own band Reverend for a while and later returned for a Metal Church reunion album. At the time of his accident he was working on writing new material for an album.

Barry Stern is probably not that familiar to that many people, but he was the drummer and singer for Chicago based speed metal band Zoetrope for two albums in mid-late 1980's. He achieved more fame when he joined fellow Chicago band Trouble as their drummer for two albums in the early 90's. These were probably Trouble's most popular albums. He later played with Debris Inc. and D-connect. Details of his death are a little sketchy, but apparently he died from complications during surgery on April 1st. I am a big fan of Zoetrope and I like Trouble as well. He was an energetic drummer with both bands and a solid singer with Zoetrope, he was playing in bands up until his death.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Stop the presses

I almost wrote on this when I first heard the news, but I didn't think it was that worthwhile. Now it's a New Year so I will write about it anyway. A few weeks ago it was announced that Traci Guns (of Brides of Destruction and formerly of LA Guns and Hollywood Rose) is joining Quiet Riot. He is supposed to be with the band for the recording of their next album and the tour that will support. Now if you have ever read any of these press releases then you now how they try to make it like it is the most important news of the year and this one was no exception. Of course the reality is that Quiet Riot's peak was about 83-84 and LA Guns peak was more recent but it was still like 88-90. So that is 15 years since Mr. Guns has been that relevant and over 20 years since anyone under 20 cared about Quiet Riot. Yes, Traci got some press when he formed Brides of Destruction with Nikki Sixx, but that was mainly for Nikki Sixx. We also saw that after Nikki Sixx left the Brides for the Crue reunion that Brides of Destruction's second album flopped. So it's really not too surprising that Traci Guns is joining Quiet Riot because at least they will sell more tickets than Brides of Destruction and LA Guns don't really need Traci back. In fact their last album got more press than the second Brides of Destruction even though both are light years from exactly tearing up the charts. If this news story had happened say 15 years ago then it would have been news of a sort. Now it's just bunch of 40 guys trying to squeeze bucks out of people who once liked them all those many years ago. That's why see Jizzy Pearl in Ratt, Jamie St James in Warrant, Tommy Thayer in Kiss, Jason Bonham in UFO and now Traci Guns in Quiet Riot. I don't really blame them for doing what they have to towards earning money in a music career yet it's a little sad in a way. It's a bit like seeing a former major league baseball player down in minors and knowing he will not get back to the majors if that makes any sense. I am sure it's not the last time we will see a line-up change like this either.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Van Halen - 5150

My first review of a 1986 album starts with the first Van Halen to feature Sammy Hagar. You probably know the background so I will keep it brief. After six albums and a huge amount of success, Diamond David Lee Roth and Van Halen called it quits in 1985. Sammy Hagar was hired as the new singer. Hagar had previously played with Neil Schon, Ronnie Montrose as well as playing solo. The new band quickly set about writing and recording a new album. Very little was said prior to it's release other than some hints that Eddie wanted to include more keyboards. It was highly anticipated and it came out early in 1986.

Initial reaction:
I must say that I am a huge fan of Roth era Van Halen so I was devastated by Diamond Dave being out of the band. No offense to Sammy Hagar, but I was skeptical about what the music would be like. Not because it was Hagar as much as the fact that it wasn't Dave. One of my friends rushed and bought it and I got to hear it shortly thereafter. My first reaction was that although not devastated, I just couldn't believe that the magic of old Van Halen was gone. It wasn't that 5150 was awful, but it was very bland commercial hard rock. That was my first re-action and it lasted for years. Around 1998 I bought it on album at a Goodwill store for fifty cents and I listened to it then and I liked it more. It was stronger than I remembered, but not even close to Diver Down which is far and away the weakest album with Dave. The last time listened to all of 5150 was maybe in 2002 so it has been a few years so now it's time to pull out the album and see what we have.

*Note- When I do my reviews of 20 year old albums I listen to the songs and I try to pretend that I have never heard them before. So in my reactions, I just describe what I hear while trying to refrain from any comparison to any work the artist has done before or after. I want to be objective, but I did have to make one slip about Alex Van Halen because it was something I noticed here for the first time and I needed to say it. I allow myself to do comparisons in all other parts of the review.

The songs
1.Good Enough
The album starts off with a very straight ahead rock song with sharp production. Sammy Hagar sounds like he is trying maybe a little too hard at times. Overall a solid song and not a bad way to begin an album.
2. Why Can't This Be Love
So already we are into a "very radio friendly" song as I believe the term was back then. The vocals are actually pretty strong and the music is even, but not overpowering.
3. Get Up
This one comes flying on fairly fast, but the vocals seem to be very much in front of the music. After it's over, I tend to have problems remembering much about how the music went.
4. Dreams
Lots of slow keyboards start this song off and they stick around as well. There is a very good solo here, maybe the best one so far.
5. Summer Nights
Starts with a lot of guitar squeals and it certainly helps pick up the pace a little from some of the previous songs. Then it settles into a nice, solid beat. More than half through we get some heavy rhythms help really keep this song alive. Overall this song is a little uneven in style, but that's good as it works here. Definitely the best song so far.
6. Best Of Both Worlds
This song has a very a strong beginning, but quickly the music becomes very subtle and the vocals are again above everything else. It's a very simple song and has some energy, but nothing special.
7. Love Walks In
Keyboards kick this one off and it quickly become very repetitive. The song tends to get a little tedious maybe just two minutes into it. This is probably the point where it begins to really feel like the band tried to do an album of half rock songs and half radio friendly material and then they tried to alternate between the two.
8. '5150'
This song comes on and right away it's just nothing special. It's just a song I won't remember after he album is over. The drum track sounds like the one from at least three previous songs and that's a shame because Alex is capable of so much more.
9. Inside
Eddie and his guitar seem to take a back seat here as we get a lot of big drums and a pumping bass line in the foreground. The chorus is very much the centerpiece of the song. It's not the best, but actually more interesting than half of the album because of this approach.

Final Word-Okay, so 5150 is better than I thought it was 1986, but perhaps not for the reasons I would have liked. It has strong production values and it flows well, but it doesn't exactly rock much and very little is left of the earlier Van Halen sound. It was almost a bit too sharp around the edges for me. I think this bothered me because this band had always been so much about the music, but now the music seemed so sharp and fluid yet it just lacked a lot of feeling and energy that was so much apart of the previous six albums. I knew these guys were in their 30's, but when this album came out they all of a sudden started to seem like older guys to me. With Dave it was always liked the band seemed like they were in the prime of their lives, but here songs like Summer nights and Love Walks in makes them sound like guys looking back on events and like they are past their prime. At least now I can accept the sound changes but I don't have to completely like them. I may pull this out every once in a while to play, but it is almost like a different band from the one with David Lee Roth.

Next month I will have another review of a 1986 album. I am not sure yet what it will be, but right now I am leaning towards Ozzy's The Ultimate Sin.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Blog name

I cannot believe that I have been doing this blog for over six months now because it has flown by. I wanted to share with you a little of the preparation in took in getting this blog going. The biggest thing was the name of the blog, what should it be called? Here are some of the ideas I toyed with and why I didn't use them.

The flying V and me- Sort of metal, but mainly only people named Schenker play the flying V so it is limiting.

The house of the hairless- That does describe me, but doesn't sound too metal-like.

Metal Mark's maniac metalrama- Doesn't flow all that well.

Go, blog, go- Cool name, but it has nothing to do with metal and probably like 100 other people thought of it already.

The good, the bad and Ugly Kid Joe- Getting warmer and includes a hard rock band. However they were more a 90's hard rock band and my blog is centered more around the 80's.

Disco Time Machine- Part of it sounded good, but the wrong kind of music.

Then lead to me finally deciding on the current name. Actually I am just kidding, I always knew it was going to be called the Heavy Metal Time Machine. My inspiration came from Overkill's cover of the Dead Boy's Sonic Reducer which mentions a time machine and I always wished that there was a device that could take me back when the metal I loved was still going strong. Now this blog allows me to write about it and the metal scene today is certainly far better than it was in the mid to late 90's.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year's sale

Every New Year's day Record and tape traders has a sale where you can by one used cd and get one used cd free. This is a local chain with stores in Maryland and Delaware and there is one real close to me. I have never went before because I didn't think it be worth squeezing in to get a few free cds. Yesterday my wife said that I should go and that she would take our daughter and go to the pet store in the same shopping center while I shopped. So with this urging I decided to go. It wasn't overwhelmingly crowded, but I guess recent Christmas shopping trips have made me a little more used to it. I had expected wall to wall cheapskates, but it wasn't awful and I got there just as they opened and I followed the line in. I found it funny watching different people and the way they shopped. You could see the very serious people they were the ones who grabbed baskets and had lists of what they were looking for and they didn't look even if they got bumped because they didn't want to be distracted from their mission. Then there were people who act like they had never been there before. There was a teenage boy who yelled across two aisles to his mother to say "Hey, Ma, do you like ZZ top?". Nothing like a frenzied cd sale to bring families closer together. I couldn't watch people too much as I had to concentrate on what I was getting. Having been there recently, I knew of several used cds and I got all of the ones I wanted plus I took chances on some that I have never heard. I said excuse me several time and some times people moved and other times they didn't and I had to push past. So it was a bit like shopping, exercise and a strategy game all in one. I got ten cds which means five I payed for and five for free. All hard rock and metal ranging from Hanoi Rocks to Motorhead. I have not had a chance to listen to any of them yet, but I may review some soon if any worthwhile. There is no way to ring in the New Year like bumping shoulders with others for the chance to root for metal CD's.