Friday, March 31, 2006

Last call for lunchtime

Okay, for the last day of the month I decided to toss out one last version of the lunchtime game. There are either two or three musicians to choose from and you pick the one that you would most want to have lunch with. The living are as they are today and the deceased are as they a few months prior to their deaths. The first four match-ups are more challenging because they are people who are generally associated with the same band.

1)Izzy Stradlin or Duff McKagan
2)Brian Johnson or Malcolm Young
3)Mick Mars or Tommy Lee
4)Kirk Hammett or Jason Newsted
5)Scott Ian or Tom Araya
6)Alex Lifeson or Joe Perry
7)Eric Carr or Phil Lynott
8)Alex Van Halen or Nicko Mcbrain
9)Geezer Butler of John Paul Jones

**Virtuoso triple threat** Joe Satriani or Yngwie Malmsteen or Steve Vai

**Inept triple threat** Peter Chriss or Bobby Dall or Steven Adler

**You name it lunch date** Pick any hard rock or metal musician to have lunch with, but it has to be someone who has not already been named in any of the three rounds of the game.

My answers:
1)Izzy, he was way underrated and Duff seems a little dim.
2) Malcolm because he is a good rhythm guitarist and he doesn't sing like a cat getting stepped on.
3) Tommy Lee is talented, but I don't think I could stand him so I'll take old Mick.
4) I always thought Kirk seems like a puppet for James and Lars. Newsted never got his due so I'll take him.
5) Scott Ian. He may not shut up, but he probably has more funny stories. 6) Alex Lifeson because he is a phenomenal player.
7) Tough one, but Phil Lynott.
8) Both great drummers, but I'll say Nicko. He seems like he would be cool and I have heard Alex is a butt.
9) Two of my favorite bass players of all time, but I have to go with Geezer.

VTT- Steve Vai, no contest.
ITT- I guess Steven Adler because he seems to have some good stories.
YNI-Rudy Schenker of the Scorps

So who do you pick?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sacred Reich-Independent, 1993

Sacred Reich had gotten some attention on their album American Way which came out in 1990. Yet the metal scene had changed between 90 and 93 as metal was falling out of favor and some bands were changing their style in hopes of maintaining an audience. Arizona based speed metal band Sacred Reich opted for a very little compromise approach and so their third album Independent was actually fairly heavy and straight forward. It took about ten seconds of the opening title track for me to know that this band was not going to bow down, tone it down or give in to the changing sounds that were going on in early 93. Other speed metal bands like Megadeth and Flotsam and Jetsam were indeed toning it down or trying different styles. Sacred Reich's debut Ignorance was pure speed metal and the American Way was much more contained, yet this album manages to be coherant yet powerful. The band seem to have much more of a sense of control on this album as they are far better at manipulating their sound here than on their previous albums. If it had come out in 1991 then it may have elevated the band to another level, but as it was it's a very good album that got overlooked. Standout tracks include the title track, Free, Pressure and Open book.

From the pages of Hit Parader

I have in front of me the April, 1987 issue of Hit Parader so let's see what's inside here. There's an interview with Blackie Lawless, an Iron maiden centerfold and an article on Metallica with a picture of their new bass player only he is listed as Jason "Nusted". It must stink being the new guy. Oh, here is the Pick Hit section of the magazine. Pick Hit was a column they did where they featured an up and coming band. It's a one page write-up with a single black and white shot of the band and it's located towards the back of the magazine. This issues Pick Hit just happens to have been a band called Guns and Roses and it's complete with a picture of the band standing in the rubble of some demolished building. The caption below the photo reads "Part Motley Crue, part Hanoi Rocks, but all rock and roll". They weren't just 75% rock and roll not even 90%, but all rock and roll. In the article a description of the band reads "an amalgam of screaming blues and thumping rock that's guaranteed to set the trash and thrash crowd afire". I just hope someone was standing by with a bucket of water to put out that trash and thrash crowd when they caught fire. They go on to talk about how the band are different from the usual spandex and make-up bands that were coming out of LA at the time and I think that was true and it would become even more obvious once Appetite for destruction came out. The article mentions their Live like a suicide ep and the fact that they are now on Geffen and have an lp coming out soon. I am sure very few people if any knew exactly how much of an impact that Appetite would have once it came out. Towards the end of the article it is stated "The rock fans of America better be prepared, because Guns n' Roses are no slick prepackaged combination." That was true at that time because it wasn't until 1991 and the Illusion albums that G-n-R became that way.

I will close the magazine for now and next month I will find something else in an old Hit Parader to write about.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hit Parader inspiration

I used to read Hit Parader back in the 80's a lot. It was a metal magazine, but everything was kind of fluff for the most part. I have a stack of these from the 80's and I was thinking that from time to time I may open one and write something that is inspired by one of their articles or interviews. I may call it "From the pages of Hit Parader" and do it maybe once a month. Some of their articles were alright and others make you think they should have added another letter onto the beginning of the name of the magazine.

Accept-Balls to the wall, 1984

By the time this album came out Accept were a veteran band. Yet although they were fairly well known in Europe, they were not that big in the states. Beavis and Butthead once said something like "Accept should take on Krokus in a battle of the bands that suck". I may not defend Krokus on that one, but I will stand up and proclaim that Accept had some solid releases and this might be the best of the bunch. Accept's earlier albums showed a more 70's hard rock sound, but something happen in the early 80's. My belief is someone is that the band or someone connected to the band heard Judas Priest around 81 and said "Hey, that's what this band should be doing". So the band changed their image and sound to fit in more with the growing metal scene. Most of the songs are medium paced but fairly heavy, maybe almost on the heaviness level of Dio. Udo Dirkschneider's voice is hard for some people to take due to being a bit guttural. Yet is has sure grown me over the years and I think his vocals actually really add to the overall sound. The band's female manager wrote the band's lyrics which now helps explain some of the lyrics in the title track and London Leatherboys. However it wasn't known at the time that she had written the lyrics and there were rumors that the band was gay. The band achieved some success with this album and and Metal Heart in 1985, but they never quite made it big and Russian Roulette struggled in 86 and then Udo left the band. Balls to the wall still sounds sharp today. A few songs go on a little too long and there are places where the guitar should have been turned up a bit, but overall a good piece of 80's metal. My favorite songs are Lovechild, Losing more then you ever had, Fight it back and Losers and winners. Although Losers and winners has some of the most unusual lyrics you will ever hear in an 80's metal song.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Work and kids

Next week my wife's maternity leave ends and she goes back to work. This means that when I am not at work that I will be watching the kids because my wife will be at work. This will be the first time that I have watched both of them for any length of time. I am used to Metalgirl, but now I have to keep a watch on her and keep an eye on baby Metalboy at the same time. I am sure that I will get used to it, but I may have to cut down on my posts or at least the length of them. I have some simple topics coming up as well including another Battle of the bands, a 20 year album review and another round of the lunchtime game. Meanwhile if you are feeling brave then you can read more about my kids on my wife's blog Wishywashy wonderland, there's a link over there to the right.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Vote for a review

Okay, I am once again giving you the chance to vote what 20 year old album you want me to review. I will review the album with the most votes in June. Here are the choices.

Megadeth-Peace sells, but who's buying

Metal Church-The dark

Slayer-Reign in blood

So put in a comment to let me know which one you want me to review. The voting will be open until April 8th.
My 20 year old album review in April will be Queensryche's Rage for order.
My 20 year old review in May will be Iron Maiden's Somewhere in time.

Dream Theater-Octavarium, 2005

I happened to be in the record store the week this album came out and I considered getting it but passed out of fear of being disappointed. It wasn't until the last week of 2005 that I bought a used copy of it and decided to give it a try. The thing was that when I first bought it, I couldn't make it through the whole album and I had so may other new CD's to listen to that I just moved on to something else. A few weeks ago I vowed I that would listen to this whole album and try to figure out if I liked it or not. I started listening to it and tracks 1-3 just came across as the band being a shell of their former selves. I know that may not be completely fair, but that is exactly how it sounds to me. Not a more mature effort, not a progression in musical style but a shell of their former selves. However, this is Dream Theater and they were great at what time so being a little less then that still makes them pretty good. Track four is 'I walk beside you' comes on and it's the first song on the album that really connects for me. It's slow, but really beautiful and just flows very well. Then Panic Attack rolls on and it's a heavier track and Dream Theater always pull one or two of those on the album. It kept my attention well enough, but they didn't quite open on this track like I thought they would. In looking at the case I realized the last two tracks were going to account for a combined 34 minute, that's a whole Roth era Van Halen album. This is a band that has pulled off epic songs before yet they've also lumbered through some as well. I think the last two songs are good, but not spectacular and the title track is just a bit long for what's really being done within the confines of the track. Maybe it will grow on me with repeated listenings, but I wasn't the kind of epic I was hoping for.
Ultimately it's a good album, but far from great. The talent is there and there are a few moments where they almost verge on being great. Yet it's a little cold and sterile and that is a problem I have had with every album they have done since Change of seasons. And although it might be their best album since the Change of seasons, it's still a long ways from their peak between 92-95. Much of this album tries to be melodic, but really lacks enough hooks to make it interesting. The sad part for me is that the band has not had a great album in over ten years and at this point in their career I doubt it's forthcoming. Dream Theater were one of the few metal bands who were really doing something exciting in the early to mid 90's, but unfortunately their peak ended earlier then I thought it would and since then they have always been a notch below that peak.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The death of metal

I have mentioned on previous occasions a few things that I think caused the fall of metal in the early 90's, but now I have finally decided it was well time to give this sad subject it's own entry. What we mainly know is that hard rock was fairly big throughout most of the 70's, but there was a brief decline in the late 70's. Yet by 1980 hard rock/heavy metal was on the rise. I think Van Halen brought the guitar hero back into prominence and the New Wave of British heavy metal was in full swing. On top of that bands like AC/DC, Rush, Judas Priest, Ozzy and Black Sabbath were either coming into their own or reinventing themselves. From there it took off and flourished throughout the 80's and even 1990 and 1991 were looking promising. Then most people believe that grunge bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains pushed metal out as they first came into style between late 91 and into 1992. By late 92 and into 93, metal bands were being dropped left and right by major labels. So what happened? Was it as simple as the emergence of grunge being a musical enlightenment to a bunch of young people? I think that scratches the surface, but the reasons goes a little deeper. Metal had a good long run and fans should be glad it lasted as long as it did because there was a time around 1988 when established bands like Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and AC/DC were seeing a drop in album sales and ticket sales. Yet bands like Metallica, G-n-R and Queensryche had albums and tours that helped keep metal going for a few more years. I think ultimately the death of metal came down to these two things and they all were happening between 89-91.

1)Mainstream metal became a bit too safe and predictable. Mainstream metal in say 84-86 at least initially had a rougher, edgier feel to it yet by 89-90 it was feeling, looking and sounding a bit stale.

2)Major labels were signing every band with long hair. Every label wanted the next G-n-R or the next Metallica or the next Poison. Unfortunately the majority of the labels didn't know what to do with these bands. They flooded the market with releases and these bands had their ads all over the metal magazines. However many of the bands looked the same and sounded the same and either had no personality of their own or weren't given the chance to show their personality. A lot of bands just got lost in the mix. Some good bands got lost in the flood and there were a lot of subpar bands ending up on major labels just because the labels thought they should sign a metal band.

So by 1991 metal was ready to be knocked off it's perch and it was. It was a sad day, but looking back it was probably predictable. At least metal had a good long run and it's more popular now then it was a decade ago so who knows, maybe it will make a comeback.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What's coming up?

I will strive to have that Dream Theater - Octavarium review out later today or Sunday. Other that I have a few things in mind for the upcoming week. I may write about an unpleasant thing that happened to me at a concert once. It wasn't that bad though. I will also have reviews for the following:
Accept- Balls to the wall
Sacred Reich- Independent
Next Saturday
I get to write as the guest reviewer on Ben Heller's wonderful blog 'My daily review'. I know what I am going to review, but I am not sure if I am allowed to reveal it ahead of time or not. So you will just have to check out Ben's blog next Saturday if you are interested.
And I may write a few other items this week on my blog, but I am not totally sure what they will be about.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Cover songs

Cover songs in hard rock and metal have been around a long time. Zeppelin did some old blues songs and Deep Purple had a hit with a cover on Neil Diamond's Kentucky Woman. Yet it wasn't until say the mid-late 1980's that cover songs really began to be a common practice. My thoughts on cover songs are simple and that is that if you feel the need to do a cover song then you better put some of your own sound into it or else what's the point? I remember hearing the Less than zero soundtrack years ago. I thought that Poison doing Rock and roll all nite by Kiss would be a good choice for them. However it was actually very boring because they put very little of themselves into it and it wasn't even as competent as when Kiss recorded it. They sounded fairly uncomfortable and a bit like a music student trying to struggle through some song they have been assigned to do. I was skeptical when I first heard Slayer were doing In-a-gadda-da-vida just because of the difference in style. Yet Slayer trimmed it down immensely and threw their best Reign in blood style sound into it and boom there was one of my favorite cover songs of all time. Under all the speed metal shell, it was still Iron Butterfly's song yet Slayer put their own sound into it and it sounded great.
I think there is a bit more to it than just adding your own sound, but that is important. You have to have the musical skills to cover certain bands. If you are going to cover Iron Maiden or Rush then you better have the skills to do it because it will show right away if a band are in over their heads. Metallica have done piles of cover songs, but I think ultimately they have done about half good and half bad. They did manage to turn me onto Budgie with their covers of Crash in brain surgery and Bredfan. Yet when I heard the originals, I realized that the Metallica's versions were just alright.
I can't fairly give a list of favorite and least cover songs because I have probably only heard a small portion of cover songs done by metal bands. I will say offhand that I think the band that has done the best cover songs of any hard rock/metal band is WASP. Typicaly they have done covers of mid 60's to early 70's rock and hard rock bands. I am guessing this would fit in with music that Blackie Lawless listened to while he was a teenager. They have covered Paint it black by the Stones, Locamotive Breath by Jethro Tull, Mississippi Queen by Mountain and I don't need no doctor by Humble Pie plus a few others. All of the covers I have heard are faithful enough to the originals yet the band easily puts their own sound into the song as well.

Are there any covers done by hard rock or metal bands that you really like or really hate?


My guess is that bootleg recordings have been a problem ever since someone realized there was money to be made from them. It used to be that a bootleg album just meant a live recording. Now with the help of technology there are bootlegs of studio recording as well. In metal circles these are normally recordings that were only released on lp or cassette and never officially released on cd. So someone has one of these copies and then they copy it onto a disc. They copy the cover art and try to sell it on ebay or somewhere listing it as a"rare import". I have seen these listed on many occasions for recordings that I know were never officially released on cd. New Renaissance records released a lot of metal albums in the mid to late 80's. They have released a few of them on cd, but a number of their releases have been bootlegged and frequently show up on ebay. New Renaissance even has a section on their hompage about the problem. If you are interested then you can go to their homepage and go to the section about bootlegs. It just lists albums of theirs that have bootlegged and how to recognize a bootlegged version.
Last year Gene Simmons accompanied FBI agents on a raid at a Kiss convention to catch a specific bootlegger that Mr. Simmons was looking for. Several dealers were taken out in handcuffs. I read an interview last year with Ronnie James Dio and the interview took place right after a show and a meet and greet. The interviewer made note that Ronnie signed several bootleg cd's without saying anything. Dio acknowledged that he knew they were bootlegs, but didn't had a problem with it. He felt his fans buy what he releases and didn't have a problem with them getting live bootlegs from other sources. He said he had a friend who had a huge collection of live Dio bootlegs and he didn't have a problem with it. So different artists have different opinions on this matter.
Yes, it is illegal. I don't like the people who are copying studio albums and getting high money for it. They are lying to the customers and I have seen some of these go for $50-$60 a piece on ebay and I know they are bootlegs. However I have less of a problem with live bootlegs. No one is lying about what this is. If you see a live recording that you have never heard of then you know what it is. I am probably rationalizing this just so I don't fell guilty about my opinion, but that's how I feel.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Your opinions

Here is a list of ten fairly painless questions.

1-Favorite decade for music (that's music as in all music not just hard rock/metal)
2-Hard rock/metal musician you respect the most
3-Hard rock/metal musician you respect the least
4-First album you ever bought or someone bought for you
5-First album you ever heard that you thought was great
6-The most underated hard rock/metal band of all time
7-The most overated hard rock/metal band of all time
8-Favorite hard rock/metal album of all time
9-Favorite hard rock/metal album cover of all time
10-Do you think metal will make a comeback during the next five years?

My answers:
1-Believe it or not, the 1970's. I think music was a little more pure to an extent and pop music was generally better than some other decades.
2-Lemmy first and then Steve Harris a close second.
3-Axl, his band survived the grunge movement yet he couldn't get past himself.
4-AC/DC-For those about to rock
5-Probably Def Leppard's Pyromania
6-Either Armored Saint or Overkill
8-Tie between Iron Maiden's The number of the beast and Black Sabbath's Sabbath, bloody sabbath
9-I am not totally sure, but it probably has an Iron Maiden logo on it.
10-Yes, but not nearly as big as it was in the 80's.


I read about this a few weeks ago, but just now decided to write about it. Monster Magnet's frontman Dave Wyndorf was hospitalized back on February 27th due to an overdose. The band's manager released a brief statement shortly after that date. There were no specifics as to his condition or what the substance was. The band had finished recording most of the material for their upcoming release which had tentatively been slated for a summer release. Monster Magnet were going to embark on a European tour starting the first week of March. I am not a big fan of this band because I think they are just okay. There was something that troubled me over this piece of news. Sweden's Witchcraft were set to open the European tour for Monster Magnet. Witchcraft's 2005 release Firewood was one of the best albums I heard last year and this tour was going to be a huge opportunity for them. Now the tour had to be cancelled due to Wyndorf's overdose. Witchcraft have managed to get on the bill for a festival next month, but so far that's the only date they have managed to pick up for the spring. That bothers me because I think Witchcraft deserve some attention and now their big plans have been scrapped. I do hope Wyndorf has a speedy recovery, but I also hope that he wises up and straightens out his addiction problems. It's not just him that is suffering from this incident as this undoubtedly effects his band, the band's European fans, his management, the venues they were scheduled to play and the support acts.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Difficult to write

I have a few items drafted for my blog right now and one of them is the most difficult thing I have tried to write in the nine months I have been at this blog. It is my review of Dream Theater's Octavarium, the same review I originally hoped to finish two weeks ago. I have written and scrapped most of the review at least three times. Why? Because every time I start to write about Octavarium, I end up shooting off onto rant about why it is that since 1997 that Dream Theater have been unable to put out an album that rivals Images and Words or Awake. Is that point true? Yes, I am sure it is. Is it relevant to a review of their latest album? I think it is worth mentioning, but it should be towards the end and brief rather then the main point of the review. Is it fair to keep judging this band by the albums they did between 92 and 95? As a fan I would say yes to an extent. I accept their desire to experiment and change, but I don't think that is completely what they have done over the last four albums. More on that in my review. I vow that I will finish the review on this album by Saturday of this week. I will have it done even if it looks like a patch-work, Dr. Frankenstein creation made from bits and pieces of failed past attempts. Hopefully it will be a little better than that.

What are you looking forward to?

I don't mean the coming of spring or the start of baseball season, but rather is there an album set or possibly set for release in 2006 that you are looking forward to? Hard rock or metal would be preferred, but you can pick an album from a different style if you are really looking forward to it. Let's see Queensryche are set to release Mindcrime 2 in a few weeks, Celtic Frost have a long awaited album due out in May, Voivod are set to release an album soon, Black Label Society will have their first album on their new label, possibly G-n-R's Chinese Democracy will be released (hehehe) and Metallica could have an album out late this year (or early 2007). Or maybe there is another album I have not mentioned that you are looking forward to.

As for me, I am kind of looking forward to Trouble's reunion album and maybe I am the only one, but I am hoping it will be good. Mastodon are entering the studio to record their major label debut, but I am not sure if that will be out this year or not. If it is then I am looking forward to that as well.

What are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Sword-Age of winters,2006

This is the debut from the Sword who are a band from Austin, Texas. They seem to be getting a great deal of hype from certain circles about this album, but I will touch on that towards the end of this review. This band is getting a lot of comparisons to a number of different bands and some are correct and some are off base.Ultimately no comparisons are totally accurate because this band does have some of their own sound mixed in with some other influences. There are slow heavy, plodding riffs that remind me of Black Sabbath and Sleep and there are some faster songs towards the end that don't remind me of any band in particular, but they seem partially reminiscent of say some late 80's speed metal. They have a very tight sound and are in the pace changes seem very calculated. I think the parts of this album that are like Sabbath are more influenced by Sabbath rather than sounding directly like the band. I think the Sword may have more in common with Sleep than Black Sabbath. Sleep had a Sabbath influence in their music, but they were slower at times and little less traditional in their pace and the vocals were more purposely uneven. The Sword do fit that mold on a few songs. However, I think the Sword are different from Sleep in that they have a much fuller, sharper sound. Only some reviews have tagged the Sword as stoner rock, but that is only partially correct. Although they have some slower early 70's influenced riffs here and there, they still lack the ultra fuzzed out sound or psychedelic sounds that are characteristic of many bands that get the stoner label slapped on their music. Unlike some other bands that are playing this style of music today, I can certainly say that the Sword manage to maintain my interest and not be overlong which is a fault with some bands that play in this style. The album has certainly grown on me with repeated listenings and it's probably the album I have listened to the most over the last two weeks.

I promised a few weeks ago to talk some about lyrics in my reviews. So the lyrics here are fantasy style lyrics that may draw influences from one or more of the following:

A)Ronnie James Dio

B)Playing Dungeons and Dragons

c)Watching way too many crappy early 80's fantasy movies like Beastmaster and the Sword and the sorcerer.

It's a very good, enjoyable album overall and a promising start for this young band. The only thing that is curious to me is that they seem to be getting a lot of notice from indie rock circles and very little notice in metal and stoner rock circles. Maybe I am completely off base on this, but that was what I noticed when I looked for reviews on the album before I bought it and one reviewer made note of this as well. So enlighten me if you know anything about it. Oh, my copy was $9.99 new which was a great bargain.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lunchtime round two

Okay, by semi-popular demand here is another round of Lunchtime. There are two (or three in the bonuses) metal people and you just pick which one you would rather have lunch with. The living are as they are today and the deceased are as they were a few months before their death. There are ten match-ups plus two bonus triple threats which means there are three choices and you choose one of them.

1)Ace Frehley or Ted Nugent
2)Stephen Pearcy or Dee Snider
3)Angus Young or Paul Stanley
4)Tony Iommi or Ritchie Blackmore
5)Steve Harris or Glenn Tipton
6)Cliff Burton or Diamond Darrell
7)Sebastian Bach or Bret Michaels
8)Lita Ford or Joan Jett
9)Geddy Lee or Steven Tyler
10)Eddie Van Halen or Jimmy Page

***Bonus triple threat
Slash or CC Deville or Nikki Sixx
***Extra Bonus triple threat
Sammy Hagar or David Coverdale or Joe Elliot

My choices are:
1)Ace. I might pick the Nuge if he promised not to talk about politics, but I don't see that happening.
2)Dee. He went to court to defend metal lyrics while Stephen Pearcy went to court to try and get the rights to the name Ratt.
3)Angus. It actually is a tough choice, but I am more a fan of his band.
4)Iommi. Both were known as being not the friendliest sorts at times and Tony did set his bass player on fire once, but I think he has mellowed since then.
5)Harris. He is my favorite bass player and next to Lemmy probably the person in metal that I respect the most.
6)Cliff. He died before he hit his peak. Then again he didn't have to be a part of the black album.
7)Sebastian. Both sound like alright guys, but I have always thought Bach had more attitude and was more of a fan of the music.
8)Joan Jett. I think I would get sick seeing Lita Ford.
9)Geddy. I like Aerosmith, but I love Rush. He is also another bass idol of mine.
10)Eddie. Tough choice and I am sure he looks rough with what he has been through, but hey it's Eddie.

Slash. I think CC would get us into trouble and Motley Crue's stories are already known.

David Coverdale. Not a huge Whitesnake fan, but I liked Slide it in and the albums he did with Deep Purple.

So who do you pick?

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Playlist and What's coming up?

Currently I am listening to:
Led Zeppelin-Houses of the holy
The Sword-Age of winters
Acid King-Busse Woods
The Rolling Stones-Beggers Banquet
Fu Manchu-California Crossing
Dream Theater-Octavarium
Judas Priest-British Steel
Ghouls night out-The mourning after

What are you listening to?

What's coming up?

This week I will finally have my review for Dream Theater's Octavarium out. It is about halfway done at this point. I will also have a review of the Sword's Age of winters. Tomorrow there will be another round of the Lunchtime game with a new set of metal musicians to choose from. Other than that I am not completely sure what else I will write about this week although I do have a few ideas bouncing around.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Led Zeppelin-The song remains the same

To wrap up drummer week I wanted to talk about the drumming of the person I had ranked as number three and that would be John Bonham. I picked the opening track off of my favorite Zeppelin album because it's a song that shows Bonham's ability to be the backbone of a song that really flows. The song remains the same is a very busy tune even by Zeppelin standards. Bonham's drums are in the background because you really hear Page's licks first, but then your ear quickly moves on to register Jones' steady basslines and Bonham's drums. The drums on this song have a very unique sound I think as they are soft to a point yet very distinct which helps give the song a kind of dreamy feel without losing it's edge. The song is busy and really moves forward yet Bonham is quick in setting the pace and leading the way. I think that a huge strength of Zeppelin was that the three musicians could play some very unique sounds that easily blended together and that cannot be said for every band. I don't think that it is any coincidence that the drummers I had ranked 1-4 all played with great bass players. Being a great drummer helps, but being part of a great rhythm section is what really helps the band. Bonham and Jones worked great together even if they didn't get the attention that Page and Plant did. That will conclude drummer week.


Has anyone else heard of this yet? I didn't watch Rock Star when they did the INXS thing, but now they have a new one coming and the band is Tommy Lee, Jason Newsted and Gilby Clarke. It's supposed to start this summer. Tommy Lee is no surprise because he has done reality shows before and Gilby Clarke doesn't exactly have a lot of big plans lined up I am sure. I guess Newsted is the most surprising choice here. He left superhuge Metallica to go play for relatively obscure progressive Canadian metal band Voivod yet now he is on a reality show? We will see how it pans out.

Friday, March 17, 2006


I was inspired by seeing a similar topic on someone's else's blog the other day, but I forget whose. Anyway I thought I would do the same thing only with hard rock/metal people. I list two metal people and you pick who you would rather have lunch with. For the living people, they would be as they are today. For the deceased they would be as they were a few months before they died.

1)Alice Cooper or Ozzy
2)Jimi Hendrix or Randy Rhoads
3)Don Dokken or Blackie Lawless
4)Vince Neil or Axl Rose
5)Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford
6)Bon Scott or John Bonham
7)Robert Plant or Ronnie James Dio
8)Gene Simmons or Lars Ulrich
9)James Hetfield or Dave Mustaine
10)Lemmy or David Lee Roth

My answers
1-Alice, a really funny guy.
2-Hendrix, I am sure he would be very interesting.
3-Blackie, they both wear wigs, but Blackie would have cooler stories.
4-Axl, the only thing he ever killed was his own career.
5-Rob Halford, the best metal singer of all time.
6-Bon Scott as long as I didn't have to pay for his drinks.
7- Dio, it's a close one but I have always liked him a lot.
8-Gene, both have done things I have not liked. However, Gene probably has some funny stories.
9-Mustaine, I think he has more personality tham Hetfield.
10-Lemmy, I am sure Diamond Dave would be great, but Lemmy is a metal god.

What are your choices?

The importance of drums in metal

Okay, so I lied and John Bonham will be on Saturday and this will be the topic today. The reason is I have yet to listen to a Zeppelin song and I really need time to listen to a song like three times and it may be a few hours before I get to that. I think that sometimes drummers in metal and hard rock bands get this reputation of being wild players who just live for drawn out solos. I think that's just a reputation that came from the excess of arena shows in the late 70's through the late 80's. I think the importance of the drums varies depending on the style of the band, but it's a rhythm instrument along with the bass so it lays down the backing beat for the rest of the music. I think sometimes certain metal drummers don't get the recognition they really deserve in rock circles. I mean guys who are hard rock, but classic rock like Peart and Bonham get recognition and Tommy Lee being in a band with great commercial success gets recognition. Yet someone like Nicko Mcbrain or Charlie Benante have been with their bands for 20 plus years playing their asses off and really influencing young drummers yet they have not completely gotten their due. Then again maybe it's the influence they have provided for younger drummers that will be their real legacy.

I am stepping off the soapbox now. I did have one more question I wanted to toss out there today. I think it's easier to hear a poor or substandard guitarist on a recording then it is a drummer is their anyone you think is a poor or overrated drummer in hard rock or metal?

To me Peter Chriss comes to mind. Not that he is bad, but just kind of okay during songs and very mediocre during solos.

I guarantee that I will have a write-up on John Bonham out Saturday.

Happy St. Patrick's day!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Black Sabbath-Jack the stripper/Fairies wear boots

Continuing on with drummer week I wanted to look at the drummer I had as number two on my list. Bill Ward was sometimes in the shadows somewhere behind Ozzy's nasal vocals and Tony Iommi's seemingly endless supply of heavy riffs. Ward was part of one of the absolute best rhythm sections of all time with Geezer Butler. Butler probably even gets more recognition at times than Ward, but I think both were stellar together and as individual players as well. One of the strengths of Sabbath as a group was this kind of organized chaos where they would have these kind of off beat pace changes that just happened and normally it would start with the guitar and the other two instruments would just follow suit. This was cool because it had a very spontaneous feel to it because there were brief pauses at times that almost made it sound like some guys just jamming. Yet if you listen closely you can here that everything was very planned out, but they didn't feel the need to have everything be so tight so still had this kind of off kilter feel to it. My selection to look at is Jack the stripper/Fairies wear boots off of the Paranoid album. I selected it because it's one of my favorites and because Bill Ward's playing here shows his mastery of the instrument. The opening instrumental part sees some nice smooth drum rolls here and there and a real nice resonance to the cymbols that is actually something you hear a lot in Ward's playing on the first say six Sabbath albums. Right before we go into the main riff of Faeries you will hear just a faint pause in Ward's drumming. It is slight, but it's very deliberate and it's this kind of attention to detail that I think made him so important to the band. You hear the hesitations in Ward's playing and I think that really shows his control and a ear for what would help control the rhythm without disturbing the overall flow of the song. This song has a few pace changes and it's normally a matter of the guitar just suddenly cuts and the drums and bass follow without hesitaion and it just sounds so automatic, but I don't think for a minute that it was as easy as it sounds. I think the true testement to Ward's playing is just that he was so outstanding and very on track without being overbearing yet he never gets swallowed up in all that's going on either. Just a magnificent player all the way around.

Tommorrow I will conclude my look at drummers with a look at the playing of John Bonham. I am not sure what song I will select yet. Then Saturday drummer week will conclude with something about the importance of drums in hard rock and metal.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Rush-The Spirit of radio

Continuing with drummer week, I wanted to take a song and look at what the drummer was doing. I am not a drummer so it will be very general rather than technical. Since I ranked Neil Peart as number one, I thought I should select a Rush song first so I selected The Spirit of radio which is the opening track off of Rush's 1980 album Permanent Waves. At first I considered picking a solo off of one of the live albums and although those are great, I think it's Peart's ability to shine while still laying down the backbone of a song that is his true strength. The spirit of radio could probably serve as a highlight for any of the three musicians in this band, but in concentrating on Peart you really hear what makes him great. If Rush are mentioned as a progressive rock band then it's normally as a light progressive band or as a major influence for progressive bands who sprung up later. However this song has a lot of pace changes for a song that is under five minutes. Neil Peart manages to change beats many times throughout the song as he lays down the beats for the various changes done by the other instruments, but what I truly love about what he is playing here is how subtle his changes are. A number of drummers would have to emphasize a pace change with a marked or more pronounced beat, but Peart does these changes with ease and therefore it sounds seamless. Perhaps it's the fact that he is able to make these transitions sound fluid that sometimes we forget how great he really is and that's because he makes it sound like it's easy even though it's not. I listened to this song three times in my car today. That would be twice to get an idea of what he was playing and one more time just because I realized how good he really was on this song.
Tomorrow I will pick a Black Sabbath song and try to concentrate on Bill Ward's drumming.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Top 15 hard rock/metal drummers

Here are my top 15 hard rock/metal drummers in a countdown to number one.

15)Mickey Dee-Motorhead,King Diamond
Just a solid, energetic drummer with both of these bands.
14)Lars Ulrich-Metallica
He has said done some things that I have not liked, but still an enthusiastic player.
13)Mike Portnoy-Dream Theater
He can keep up with some offbeat changes that Dream Theater have thrown out there over the years.
12) Phil Taylor-Motorhead
One of the first drummers to really play consistently fast and heavy.
11)Phil Rudd-AC/DC
Some may question this choice, but listen again to the albums he plays on. The beats may be simple at times, but he is solid and very important to their sound.
10)Clive Burr-Iron Maiden
Only three albums with Maiden, but he played on my two favorites (Killers,TNOTB).
9)Alex Van Halen-Van Halen
Perhaps overshadowed by his brother and Diamond Dave at one time. He had a very distinctive sound that really added to their music.
8)Tommy Lee -Motley Crue
Just all kinds of crazy energy going through this guy.
7)Ian Paice-Deep Purple
Very underrated drummer who not only kept up with Ritchie Blackmore and John Lord, but perhaps kept them on their toes.
6)Charlie Benante-Anthrax
The second best speed metal drummer of all time and one of those few guys with a real distinctive style.
5)Dave Lombardo-Slayer
His playing is like thunder, unbelievable lord of the double bass drum.
4)Nicko Mcbrain-Iron Maiden
Managed to step in for another great drummer without missing a beat (get it, drummer....beat). Very consistent player who always seems enthused and pumped.
3)John Bonham-Led Zeppelin
He was always terrific on everything and Zeppelin played some very different kinds of songs throughout their career.
2)Bill Ward- Black Sabbath
He gets overlooked sometimes. He was really playing some heavy beats and at times some real quirky beats that managed to fit in. I remember watching the Never say die video from 79 and he had hair everywhere, a huge beard and these really thick drumsticks. He looked like a viking beating the drumbeat on a slave galley.
1)Neil Peart-Rush
Rush went through numerous sound changes over the years, but Peart was always incredible. He seemed to get better with age and never stopped reaching to create different sounds. Some times drum solos can be dull and repetitive, but his solos on their live albums and videos were always intriguing and unbelievable at times.

Feel free to add your list or just a few favorites.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Drummer week

I was going to do this topic next week, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted to do it now. So even though the week has started, it will still be drum week. I will officially kick it off with my list of the top 15 hard rock/metal drummers on Tuesday. Then I will pick three songs, each by a different artist with a great drummer and analyze just the drums. I will do one of these for three days which will get me through Friday and on Saturday I will have something about the importance of drums in metal. If you have any other ideas concerning drum week the let me know.

Heavy metal and you: A book review

Heavy Metal and you
by Christopher Krovatin

This book came out last summer, I read it in August, but just now got around to writing about it. The author is a college student and he was 20 when the book came out. The story is about a high school student named Sam who is a metal fan and he also dreams of having a girlfriend. He starts dating a girl who is in the preppie crowd (is that still a group in high school?). Despite being a metal fan, Sam's regular group of friends are not metal friends and most of them are in more popular cliques. The bond between Sam and his friends seems to be that they like to drink and get high. After Sam and this girl start dating, they run into the problem of them being from different groups and they can't quite adjust to each other's friends. Ultimately Sam touches on the idea of being a misfit and the misfit and the popular girl can't go out because they are from two different worlds and they break up. Yes, it sounds a bad episode of a show on Fox, however the only reason I read and am reviewing it is that the main character is a metal fan. It's obvious that the author is a metal fan and he supplies a lot of information on his favorite bands as he makes his own interests be the interest of the main character Sam. Chris Krovatin's favorite band is Slayer and many of the bands that his character likes are death and speed metal bands. The bottom line is that ultimately I found the story to be a very typical teen angst story combined with a teen romance and neither part really totally worked despite starting out with some promise. I have read young adult books like this before and the story is fairly average for the genre, but not terribly creative and the characters aren't all that likeable. Having said that, I do think the author's strong points are his enthusiasm and his descriptions. I could really picture the city and the concert he described because he painted vivid pictures and didn't have to use a lot of words to do so. His enthusiasm for the music he loves also came through, but unfortunately that was only background information because the story is about individuals and relationships rather than music. Overall it's not as good as I had hoped, but being as it is the author's first novel and considering his age I would say it shows some potential. Perhaps Mr. Krovatin can come up with a story that plays to his strengths and hopefully he can bring forth his love of music in a story that better suits him.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

What's coming up

Today we had a small get together with some family and friends for Metalgirl's 2nd birthday. It was fun and she seemed to enjoy it. She is growing up fast. This coming week I hope to have reviews for Dream Theaters' Octavarium and the Sword's Age of winters. I will probably also have a topic on cover songs and maybe something about relating music to different seasons. I am thinking about making the following week be drummer week. Drummer week would probably consist of a list of my top 10 or maybe even 15 hard rock/metal drummers. Perhaps then maybe I will look at Rush, Zeppelin, Maiden or Sabbath songs and just talk about the drums and what's going on there. Then maybe something about the importance of drums in hard rock and metal. I don't know if drummer week sounds too interesting to everyone, but I may give it a go the week after this week and see what happens.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

What could have been

This is just a brief topic about some stories that I have read over the years. These are stories about people who auditioned for bands and didn't get the job but went on to make a name with another band.

One that I had always heard was that in the early 80's Kevin Dubrow was trying out bass players for Quiet Riot. One of the guys that Dubrow turned down went on to form his own band. The bass player was Nikki Sixx. Dubrow would later say that Nikki had a lot of energy, but not quite enough experience. Can you imagine if Nikki Sixx had gotten the job and not formed Motley Crue?

When Deep Purple were getting started they were originally going by Roundabout. They were looking for a singer and before landing Rod Evans, they tried out a number of guys who didn't work. One of the people they turned down was a fellow named Rod Stewart. Purple's original bass player Nick Simper described Stewart as "pretty awful" during his audition. Can you imagine Deep Purple with Rod Stewart?

When Poison moved from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to LA their guitarist was Matt Smith. Smith left not too long after the move. The band auditioned guitarists and selected CC Deville. One of the guitarists they turned down was Saul Hudson, you may know him better as Slash. Can you imagine Slash in Poison?

Do you know of any other stories like these?

Sounds like Sabbath

My title is a statement that seems have become more prevalent in reviews over recent years. It's perhaps becoming a bit like saying 'it tastes like chicken' in that it's used just to have reference point and because everyone knows Black Sabbath. I admit that I probably drop names a bit more than I should, but I have always used other bands in reference to describing a band's sound. Then again this statement is also largely used because Black Sabbath were one of the first bands to really define the metal sound and they are perhaps the single most influential metal band of all time. You don't hear a lot of reviewers today saying "these guys sound like Helix" or "these guys sound like Krokus". The fact that young bands are still popping up playing riffs that show the influence of this band is a testament to their legacy. I think even music fans that aren't necessarily fans of metal tend to at least have respect for Sabbath. This is also even more surprising when you take into account that their real prime was just really the albums from their debut through Sabotage which is a total of six. The other two Ozzy albums were weak and even though the albums with Dio are very good, it's just a very different style. I know that I used this statement in my reviews and may continue if it apply, but I will try to elaborate on what I mean instead of just using like a catch phrase. They have been one of my top three favorite bands since I was a teenager.

Friday, March 10, 2006

What about the lyrics?

If you have been able to make it through any of my reviews then you may have noticed that I tend to analyze the music and vocals, but seldom make mention of the lyrics. It's not totally intentional, it's just more a matter that I tend to focus more on the music and vocals when I listen to an album. I have always been that way because for the most part lyrics have always been very secondary to me. That may make me shallow in some people's opinions, but I don't think so. Probably the majority of people listen to a cd and the lyrics, vocals and music all mean the same or maybe it varies for different artists. I tend to get rhythms stuck in mind rather than lyrics. I occasionally wake up with rhythms in my head and once I even tried to write down a description of the beat and figure it out later. Only it didn't translate well by the time I got around to trying to figure it out. In future reviews, I will try to spend more time at least mentioning lyrics because this will help my reviews to be more well rounded and cause me to spend more time focusing on lyrics and their importance.

Acid King 3, 2005

The world of stoner rock and doom metal is not just a sub genre, but a different world unto itself at times. It's not always a world that everyone will want to visit because it can be an acquired taste and fortunately I have acquired a liking for this style of music. There are plenty of bands who know how to bring the big heavy slow riffs, but I think the real key is controlling the riffs and doing something different with them instead of just having them sit there. San Francisco's Acid King are a three piece that have existed for thirteen years. Even though I have not heard all of their material, I have heard enough to know that they have really progressed and that this album is the best recording I have heard from them. Like other similar bands they create a huge, heavy riff that I imagine as a wall because it stays there and is very much in the forefront of the music. What Acid King do differently is that instead of all of the instruments being the part of one wall, that the guitar creates the wall and then behind the wall the drums stay active and sometimes the bass lines come in and out of the foreground. While all of this is going on, the haunting vocals of Lori S. ride with the music rather than above or behind it like a number of other bands playing this style of music. I think the greatest strength of this band is that they have found a way to be incredibly heavy, but maintain a groove at the same time and I do not think for a moment that this is an easy task to accomplish.
Acid King are more like a stoner band than a doom band because they really have more of a fuzzy, muted psychedelic sound. However they are very structured and the songs are tight overall as far as this style of music goes. You can feel your head bobbing with the music because it just comes naturally once you lower your guard and just let this album overtake you. It's probably not for everyone and it may not be something that could listen to all the time. On 3 Acid King have taken their influences from the 70's and blended them with what they have been doing for over a decade. I think now they are really not only coming into their own, but rising above a lot of other bands that are in the same vein.

In other news Dream Theater defeated Queensryche in the battle of the bands. There will be another battle of the bands next month. I finally bought some cd's that have come out in 2006. I got the Sword's Age of winters and Pentagram's First daze here too. Well, the Pentagram thing isn't actually new material as it's all from 70's but this 2 cd collection was just released this month. I have only gotten to hear a song or two off of each so maybe I will review them here once I get to listen to the whole thing.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Battle of the bands

I was going to wait until next week for this, but I decided to throw it out there now since there have been more people posting. Not quite as high profile bands as last month, but this month is a match-up between two of the top progressive metal bands of all time. This month it's:

Dream Theater vs. Queensryche

Both are considered progressive metal, but on different ends of the spectrum as Queensryche are more melodic and Dream Theater a bit more technical. I will probably be on the losing side again, but I definitely pick Dream Theater. They had three great albums between 92-95 and their debut and the albums that have come out over the last ten years have ranged from good to very good. Queensryche's best album is far and away Operation Mindcrime and it's very good, but not great. Most of their other albums range from fair to really good (the debut ep and the Warning). I think Dream Theater were one of the best metal bands of the 90's and they are certainly some of the most skilled metal musicians of the last 20 years.

So who do you pick and why?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Top ten heavy metal upgrades

The thing with upgrades is that it's not just about the talent of a player, but also about the end result being better, which means the album. A good example is when Poison brought in Ritchie Kotzen to replace CC Deville. So bringing in a virtuoso guy like Kotzen for a lightweight like CC should have been an upgrade, but Native Tounge was a bit of a dull album and good solos didn't save it. So an upgrade is not only about having talent in the band, but knowing how to apply it. Mainly drummers and singers here, there is one guitarist, one bass player and one keyboard player.

10)Andi Deris for Michael Kiske, Helloween, 1993
I liked Helloween with Kiske, but I think they had done as much as they could with him by this point. Deris brought a new dimension to the band and they have continued to grow over the last 13 years..

9)Eric Carr for Peter Chriss, KISS,1980
Not a popular move among some Kiss enthusiasts. However the truth is that Peter Chris was not that good of a drummer and I sincerely believe that. Eric Carr was a very good drummer and the difference was immediate even if his make-up wasn't all that great.

8)Nick Menza for Chuck Behler, Megadeth,1989
I remember seeing Megadeth open for Judas Priest in 1990 and from my seat I could see behind stage as Nick Menza was running in place and running in circles for ten minutes straight before they hit the stage. That's the kind of energy and enthusiasm he brought to this band.

7)Jimmy Bain(bass), Tony Carey(keyboards) and Cozy Powell(drums) in for Craig Gruber, Mickey Lee Soul and Gary Driscoll, Rainbow, 1976
I am allowing myself to pick a change involving multiple members because I believe all three were huge upgrades over their predecessors. The first Rainbow album was okay, but Rising and Live on stage were amazing and it was as much due to these three guys as it was to the big names Dio and Blackmore.

6)Matt Sorum for Steven Adler, Guns and Roses, 1990
G-n-R were on the verge of being huge and they knew it. This wasn't playing on the strip anymore so having an amateur drummer with major substance problems wasn't going to cut it. They brought in a pro and the difference showed. Besides they had enough problems with a singer who couldn't start shows on time so at least they cut their problems down to one.

5)Ian Gillan for Rod Evans, Deep Purple, 1969
Rod Evans was a very good singer both with Purple and with Captain Beyond. However, I think Gillan had a more unique voice and he just fit in well with the direction the band was taking.

4)Adrian Smith for Dennis Stratton, Iron Maiden, 1980
This change created the best heavy metal guitar duo of all time as Smith came in and just made magic with Dave Murray.

3)Joey Belladonna for Neil Turbin, Anthrax, 1985
The right decision at the right time rocketed Anthrax to the top of the scene. Turbin sounded like a dozen other guys playing the scene while Belladonna was one of a kind.

2)Neil Peart for John Rutsey, Rush, 1974
Neil Peart in for anyone would be an upgrade. Just an incredible drummer and a great writer. Where would Rush have been without him?

1)Bruce Dickinson for Paul Dianno, Iron Maiden, 1981
Don't get me wrong, I really liked Paul Dianno and he did a lot for this band in the early stages. The Smith change was the first step and this was the last step towards setting this band up to be the best heavy metal band of the 1980's and one of if not the best of all time. Dianno was about attitude, but Dickinson gave them the range that allowed them to do so much more musically.

So there are the upgrades to go along with the downgrades from yesterday.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Top ten heavy metal downgrades

So what kind of downgrade an I talking about? I tried to pick the top ten line-up changes where I feel the band got a replacement who was not as good as the predecessor. In some cases it's not that the replacement was bad, but that the player they are replacing was just that good. Now so you don't think I am all negative, I am working on a top ten upgrade list and that will also be out this week. So here are the top ten downgrades, the band it happened in, the year and my reasons for picking them.

10)Brian Robertson for "Fast" Eddie Clark, Motorhead, 1982
Brian Robertson had played in Thin Lizzy and was a decent guitarist, but Fast Eddie is a huge influence on early speed metal and a real underrated player.

9)Blaze Bayley for Bruce Dickinson, Iron Maiden,1994
Somebody had to step in and Maiden had the guts to bring in someone of a different style, but Bruce was just such a huge part of Maiden's success. The bands watered down music during the Bayley era didn't help matters.

8)Ripper Owens for Rob Halford, Judas Priest,1996
Priest went the opposite direction of Maiden in that they went for a guy they thought sounded like Halford. Sorry, but there is only one Rob Halford. Priest's rotten musical directions and Ripper's inability to find his own personality only made the situation worse. Some shoes are just too big to fill.

7)Paul Bostaph for Dave Lombardo, Slayer, 1994
Paul Bostaph is actually better than average speed metal drummer. However, Lombardo is the God of speed metal drumming. He brought the thunder, he destroyed and he couldn't be replaced.

6)Tommy Bolan for Ritchie Blackmore, Deep Purple, 1975
This is mainly a matter of I don't consider it Deep Purple without the great Ritchie Blackmore. It doesn't matter if the replacement was the late Tommy Bolan or Steve Morse, it just didn't work.

5)Brad Gillis for Randy Rhoads, Ozzy Osbourne, 1982
Let me put it this way, Randy Rhoads was the best guitarist to ever play in Ozzy's solo band and Brad Gillis went on to be the second best guitarist in Night Ranger.

4)Sammy Hagar for David Lee Roth, Van Halen, 1985
Anyone who reads my blog much had to have known this would make the list. Sammy may actually have a better voice, but stage presence is just as if not more important than vocals. Diamond Dave in Van Halen was one of the best frontmen of all time.

3)Randy Castillo for Tommy Lee, Motley Crue, 1999
Randy Castillo was competent with Ozzy, but this move didn't work. Tommy Lee is certainly not the sharpest tack in the world, but he is an amazing talent with enthusiasm that is almost impossible to match.

2)Graham Bonnet for Ronnie James Dio, Rainbow, 1979
Graham Bonnet was an okay singer while Ronnie James Dio is one the greatest vocalists in heavy metal. After making this vocal change, Ritchie Blackmore also took the band away from a metal sound and they became much more commercial.

1)Brian Johnson for Bon Scott, AC/DC,1980
The situation that caused this change was sad. However, Bon Scott was not just a good singer, but a good frontman and a good writer. When he died, much of the personality of this band died with him. Johnson has a voice that grates on my nerves at times and his stage presence was just okay. Angus Young had to become the major focus of this band once Scott died.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Where is everyone and what's coming up?

Some great bloggers seem to be taking breaks as Ben Heller, Pixie and T-bone all seem to be on breaks from their respective blogs. Maybe everyone is getting their taxes done or perhaps it's just a busy time of year. Anyway I am still trying to find time and come up with topics so I can keep plugging along. Only about another three months and I will have been doing my blog for a year, doesn't seem like it has been that long. I don't have anything spectacular coming up, but I do have more reviews that I hope to get to. So hopefully coming up over the next week and a half will be:

Dream Theater-Octavarium review
Acid King- 3 review
The top ten band line-up upgrades
The top ten band line-up downgrades
Another battle of the bands

Also some time soon I hope to have my first book review which will be on a Young Adult novel that I read back in August called 'Heavy metal and you' by a young author named Chris Krovatin.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Poison-Look what the cat dragged in

My twenty year old album review for March is the result of a vote that was held not too long ago so you voted for me to review this. Unless of course you voted for Ratt's Dancing Undercover then you voted for a cd that lost although it was a close vote. In late May I will probably hold a vote for what my July review will be. Back to Poison, these guys started in central Pennsylvania, but realized they needed to go to a bigger place if they wanted to make it so they packed up their gear and headed out to LA in 1984. The LA scene was booming at this time and numerous former club bands like Motley Crue, Ratt and WASP had gotten major label deals and were out touring the nation. Poison played the clubs and eventually got signed. I think there were some delays with this release of their debut, but it came out and it was a hit. They toured opening for David Lee Roth and they opened the Texas Jam that year which was headlined by Aerosmith and Boston.

Initial reaction-I avoided hearing this album for a few months just because I figured they would be lame, but by the fall I decided to give it a try. I thought it was decent because it was fun and enjoyable enough. It wasn't breaking down any walls, but it was good for a listen if you were in the mood for some bubblegum.

1. Cry Tough- A little more serious tone that I would expect as the opener from a glam band. However I think it works as Bret Michaels vocals come across very strong.
2. I Want Action- Sort of an anthem type song. It's light, but has a good even flow to it. The music is very basic, but the vocals are memorable enough.
3. I Won't Forget You-A simple ballad that although not outstanding is not sickening either. Alright for a change pace, but really just an okay song. It might overstay it's welcome just a little.
4. Play Dirty- This song sounds like the band trying to show they are sort of tough. Which would have to a be a difficult thing to do for men wearing piles of make-up. It's decent but not far from outstanding. One of a number of songs here where you remember the vocals, but not the music.
5. Look What The Cat Dragged In-The title track comes on and it is both fun and a solid basic rock song as well. It brings the album back on track by showing that the band still has some life in them and they seem very much into this song.
6. Talk Dirty To Me- A bit of a one-two punch here as they follow up the good title track with their big hit. Not just a hit but a somewhat rockin hit. Yes, it's about as complicated as 'Louie, Louie', but so what, it's fun and smooth.
7. Want Some, Need Some-A bit of a filler as it's probably the least memorable track so far. Not bad, but it just feels like a track that was added to get the total up to ten tracks.
8. Blame It On You-Another filler track and even Bret Michaels doesn't seem to excited about this song.
9. #1 Bad Boy-The bookend to Play Dirty as it's not track where the band is trying to act tough. Not quite as good as Play Dirty, but it's alright.
10. Let Me Go To The Show- This is a basic track, but faster than the rest of the album. I like it because it's basic and fun and that's where Poison tend to have their most success. Tracks like this one, the title track and Talk dirty to me just go without trying to do too much and they work.

Verdict/final word-I am very much of the opinion that Poison had let's say a lot of extra hands helping this album. That's not a judgment, but an observation based on what I think the skills of these individuals were. Having said that, I still think this is a fun album that stands the test of time reasonably well. It's not groundbreaking, but I think a fun hard rock album was needed at the time. There were a number of bands that took themselves too seriously. Poison were a little like Kiss in the 70's in that they were not the greatest musicians, but they made rock music that was fun and enjoyable and that goes along. When I listened to this album this time around, there were times when it reminded me of Motley Crue's Theater of pain. Although I would say Poison's album stands the test of time better than Theater of pain just because Poison didn't try to do too much or take it too seriously. I think this album did have a big and immediate impact on other glam bands. Poison are candy rock, but they could be good candy rock and there is nothing wrong with that.

The 20 year old album review for April will be Queensryche's Rage for order. The 20 year old album review for May will be Iron Maiden's Somewhere in time and it will probably be part of Iron Maiden week as I will attempt my first theme week dedicated to individual band.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cinderella and Poison tour

Summer is less than three months away and Summer means one thing. That's right, hasbeen hair metal bands go on tour together and hope a bunch of 30-40 year olds spend their money to come and see these old guys play their hits from the mid 80's and early 90's. It has been announced that Cinderella and Poison will be doing a tour together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut albums. I am sure there will be one or two other bands tacked on as openers. Both bands have been fairly active doing the summer tour thing since I believe 1999. Then during the rest of the year various members go work on other projects. I actually like Cinderella quite a bit, but more for 'Long cold winter' and 'Heartbreak station' than for 'Night Songs'. Poison were okay, but they seemed like they would get weaker with each release. I am in the middle of working on my review for 'Look what the cat dragged in' so hopefully I will have that out soon. This might turn out to be one of the better hasbeen tours of the summer because Cinderella have a reputation of being a good live band and at least both bands have most of their original members. I am sure this is just the first of several hasbeen tours to be announced for the summer of 2006.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

New Blog

I talked my wife into writing a blog so there is a link over on the right to her blog. It's Wishy Washy Wonderland and I think it will mainly be about dealing with our kids.

Fireball Ministry-Their rock is not our rock, 2005

This album was released back in the fall, but I just got it maybe a month and a half ago. Fireball Ministry are an LA based band that sometimes get pegged as a stoner rock band which I think is only partly accurate. There are touches of early 70's rock here and that's mainly a little Sabbath influence. The new album also shows some more classic metal stylings that recall bands like Judas Priest and Accept for starters. The new album is perhaps more accessible than the last album 'The second great awakening'. However that doesn't mean that's it's toned down, but the band has instead tightened up their sound a bit and it's bit more straight forward. I could see this being an album that a lot of people would really like if they would give it the chance. The music is simple, but effective and the vocals are clear and strong. They aren't playing anything new, but I feel their greatest strength is that I truly believe that they enjoy what they are doing and it comes across in their sound. I believe that they are playing what they want to play and there are no put-ons or posing and that's important and not as common as it should be. I know they opened some in the fall for CKY and some east coast dates for Clutch, but maybe they will go out for one more leg of the tour. Not quite a must have, but it's refreshing to hear a band that still believes in playing no nonsense metal. I truly think they are more concerned with playing what they want then they are about selling albums and says a lot about the kind of band that they are.