Thursday, May 31, 2007

Judge the album cover

Lightning stikes, not once...

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not twice...

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...but three times!

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At the top is Great White's Shot in the dark from 1986. Next is Venom's Calm before the storm from 1987. Last is Fastway's Waiting for the roar from 1986.

However are any of the covers any good?

What do you think?

***If you like album covers then make sure to check out the other blog I write for which is Whole lotta album covers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Questions for you

1-Name one album or CD you bought where you think you got a bargain.

2-Name one album or CD where you think you paid too much for what it was.

3-Recommend one CD you like a lot that you don't think many people have heard (can be old or new).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Who were they? Antix

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These guys were a bit of a mystery to me for years and still sort of are as information on them is sketchy in some areas. In late 1984 I bought my first Hit Parader and there in the back was an ad for an album by Antix called "Get up, get happy" and I always wondered who they were. Antix were from LA and formed in 1982 when bass player BJ Norris and Ian Evans left a band called Pax and joined with singer Greg Clewley and guitarist Jace White who had been in aband called Jailbait. Antix signed with Great White manager Jeff Gordon shortly after that. In 1984 the band had managed to secure a deal to do an ep on Gordon's McDon records, but have it marketed by Enigma records. On top of that they got Don Dokken and Jeff Pilson to produce it. Apparently Dokken were recording "Tooth and nail" during the day and Don and Pilson would work with Antix in the evening. Antix's ep came out in late 1984. A few months later their song "Daze gone by" appeared on Hit Parader's cassette only compilation "The wild bunch" along with such bands as Slayer, Lizzy Borden, Megadeth and Grim Reaper to name a few. It gets a little murky from that point on. Apparently in 1986 the band announced that guitarist Jaye Paul and guitarist/keyboard player Jesse R. Curtis had joined the band. Which likely means Jace White was out of the band at this point. Then in 1987 a 12 inch single "I'll take your love" came out. However the band had changed logos, record labels, their look (they became more glam) and most of the band line-up. Drummer Ian Evans was the only member left from the 1984 ep and the band now contained five members instead of four. Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo guests on one song on this single. I know nothing of the band following that so presumably they disbanded not long after that. The only member that did much afterwards is original singer Greg Clewley. At some point shortly after being out of Antix he began going by Greg Darling and later Gregory Darling. He played piano and did backing vocals on Faster Pussycat's debut in 1987. After that he formed a band called Darling Cruel that released an album on Polygram. My best guess is the music here was far more pop oriented. Later Darling sang back-up with Julian Lennon and he has released a number of solo album over the last say ten years. On his biography Darling admits to having played on the Sunset strip scene, but never mentions Antix by name. That's the history and it was difficult to find out that much.

Here's the lowdown on their sound and this took a while too. The problem with the "Get up, get happy" ep is that it lacks an edge and a direction. It's almost like polite hard rock which means whimpy. I always liked "Daze gone by", but out of the other songs I would say two are fair and two are very hard to take. Greg Chewley's vocals are the best thing here. It's hard to believe these guys played in the Sunset strip scene. They sound like some band the administration at a high school would hire to play at an assembly because they sound "safe". The "I'll take your love" single has a very different sound. It's obvious that second singer Mic Brandon liked Motley Crue because he tries to sound like Vince Neil to some extent. The music here sounds like a mix between Motley Crue and Poison. It's decent, but nothing special.

"Get up, get happy" was released on CD in 2005 by Retrospect record. You can also find a used copy on vinyl at almost any given time on ebay. Not a real special band, but the thing for me was it took a long time just to piece together this much of their story. It was a while before I realized Greg Clewley was Greg Darling and it was just last month that I managed to nab the 1987 single on eBay after several failed attempts. For a band who played where they did for at least five years and had some connections, there isn't that much information out there about them.

Here is a hilarious review I found on their ep.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Grim Reaper-See you in hell, 1984

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Grim Reaper formed in 1981, but it took several years before they finally signed with tiny Ebony records. Although part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, their debut came out around the tail end of the movement. I remember buying this on cassette at a department store in the summer of 1985. I played it quite a bit, but hid the case because my parents would have freaked at the album title. Musically it's very mid tempo for the most part and not too far removed from other NWOBHM bands. This album is slightly underproduced and I think that might actually work to their advantage. This gives it a bit of a raw feel to it that sounds right for this kind of music. Guitarist Nick Bowcott was often toted as a guitar hero and his solos are generally strong, but some of his rhythms are a little repetitive. Singer Steve Grimmett has a distinctive voice and it's not one that everyone loves. I think his vocals are better here than on the band's other two albums. He has a tendency to over sing at times and that's a slight drawback.My favorite tracks are the title track, "Wrath of the ripper", "Now or never" and "All let loose". The only track I wasn't real into was "The show must go on" which sounded like a weak attempt to copy late 70's Judas Priest.

This album quickly caught the eye of RCA who signed the band and re-released this debut. I believe the track order is different on the two versions, but that the only difference. I hadn't heard this one in a while and enjoyed how straight forward it was and the overall slightly low key sound. I don't think they are as special now as I did twenty some years ago. I think there were a number of NWOBHM bands that sounded like this, but it's just that Grim Reaper got the major label deal and a good push here in the states. Still if you like fairly simple, solid mid 80's metal then it's a decent one to get.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

What's coming up?

This is going to wrap it up for Leftovers Week. My theme week in June around the third week of the month will be Reunion Album Week. This coming week I hope to have out the following.

-Judge the album cover
-Sea Hags review
-Grim Reaper-See you in hell review
-Who were they? Antix
-Some questions for you

I won't be posting Sunday, but will be back bright and early Monday. Enjoy the holiday weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Led Zeppelin-Coda, 1982

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Perhaps one of the most known leftovers album of all time. It's contains eight tracks and was released over two years after Jon Bonham's death. So let's see what we have here.

1-We're gonna groove-Recorded in early, 1970 at the Royal Albert Hall, but it later had some guitar overdubs added. It's a little clunky at times, but has a good feel to it after a couple of listens.

2-Poor Tom-Recorded in the spring of 1970.I have always liked this one a bit. Maybe it's a little light for Zeppelin at the time, but nonetheless it flows rather nicely at least to my ears.

3-I can't quit you baby-This one was recorded at a sound rehearsal in September of 1970. It's decent, but somehow it feels like it's lacking in emotion to some extent. That's probably chalked up to it just being a rehearsal.

4-Walter's Walk-This was recorded in 1972. It's decent enough as far as the music goes, but Robert Plant's vocals sound a little raw at times. Like perhaps it was rough draft and they quite worked it out.

5-Ozone baby-One of three tracks here recorded at the sessions for "In through the out door". I actually think this is pretty good. It's smooth and a little poppy, but for me it sounds like a decent blend of pop hooks and the band's earlier 70's sound.

6-Darlene-Also recorded the same time as track five. It's fair, but not very much like a Zeppelin to me. Then again neither are a lot of songs that made it on this album. Some nice rhythms overall, but far from outstanding.

7-Bonzo's Montreux-Recorded in late 1976 and it centers around Bonham's drums. I can certainly see where it maybe wouldn't have been the best fit on a studio album. Still it's the song on this album that I play the most. It deals more with odd tones rather than with speed and perhaps that's why I like it.

8-Wearing and tearing-Recorded the same time as tracks 5 and 6. Robert Plant sounds a little strained and maybe a little more like he did on his early solo albums. This track has a good groove to it and moves along nicely.

I think too often people moan and criticize this album because they have compared it to a Zeppelin studio album and I don't think that's fair. That's like comparing apples and oranges. This is an album of leftovers and it will not have a cohesive feel. It has some sparks and the bottom line is I am glad they released rather than not releasing it. There is nothing that involved here, but it's nice addition to the other Zeppelin albums.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pre-Electric Wizard:1989-1994, 2006

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This is a collection of demos that are actually from three different bands and were recorded between 1989 and 1994. All three featured Justine Oborn and each band was a step in his music career on the way to forming doom/stoner giants Electric Wizard. The three sets of demos are of various styles and quality. So I am going to break them down by band and then by song to give you an idea of what we have here.
The first four tracks are by Eternal and were recorded in 1993 for a demo.
1-Magickal Child-This one has a very 70's early metal/doom sound to it. Heavy and thick, but more hook oriented than Electric Wizard's early album would later be like.
2-Electric Funeral-Sabbath cover that does enough to be a little different, but stays fairly true to the original.
3-Lucifer's Children-Oh, did the Sabbath cover end? Doesn't sound like it as this is very early Sabbath sounding and they do a good job of keeping it interesting.
4-Chrono-naut(Phase 1-4)-This song is over 16 minutes long, but feels even longer due to the amount of pave changes. There are lots of styles, sounds and effects tossed into this one. Probably the most offbeat track by eternal and maybe the most interesting.
The next three tracks are by Thy Grief eternal and were recorded around 1991.
5-Swathed in black-Very slow and heavy and a little hard to take. Not bad just not a lot of direction.
6-On blackened wings-Even slower than the previous track and with death metal growling vocals. Sounds like someone took a 45 inch single of the Cookie Monster and played it on 33 1/3 speed on their turntable.
7-Outro-Short little piece that's not real creative, but mildly interesting for what it is.
This band was called Lord of putrefication (they must have been young) and was recorded in 1989.
8-Descent-Moderately heavy sludge that gets up to almost a mid-tempo pace. Rough, but it moves along well enough.
9-Wings over a black funeral-Has more of a speed/early death metal feel to it. Starts out well enough, but it's fairly repetitive.
10-At the cemetery gates-This is a fairly booming, but basic doom song. Definitely has a strong a metal sound yet they have problems keeping it terribly interesting for the whole time.
11-Dark Prayers-Like several of the songs by this band there is little deviation in the guitar tone. It gives their sound a very one dimensional feel at times.

Overall it's decent and interesting at times, but not really essential. Even though I am a big fan of Electric Wizard I just felt this album was a mild snack to appease me until their next album comes out. I kind of wish the track order was done in chronological order rather reverse chronological order. These bands progressed as they went along yet this album has you listening to it from most competent to least competent. The Eternal tracks were my favorite and despite the fact that it was just three years before Electric Wizard's debut the material was still different. Eternal were far more Sabbath sounding than Electric Wizard have ever been. Still I have listened to this album several times so far.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Heavy Metal Jukebox-B side edition

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Leftovers week continues with a special version of the Heavy Metal Jukebox. Some people just love singles and that's the main reason people would buy a 45 record is so they could hear that song. Yet if you flip it over you get a b-side and there is music there as well. So I went through my singles and found three b-side songs you would know. So here are your choices.

Black Sabbath-The Wizard

Judas Priest-Metal Gods

Van Halen-Ice cream man

In case you are wondering the Wizard is the b-side to Paranoid, Metal Gods the b-side to Breaking the law and Ice cream man was the b-side to Hot for teacher.

***So which b-side do you choose?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

B-sides from my collection

Leftovers week marches on with some b-sides. Okay, my idea was to find a few b-sides off of some of singles I own on vinyl and tell you about them. So I found the first five I could find that sounded interesting and here they are.

Ozzy Osbourne-"Forever"(live version) /b-side to "So tired" seven inch, 1984
This song is labeled as "Forever", but it's really "Journey to the center of eternity" from Bark at the moon. This is a live version recorded in late 1983 and it's quite good as it's faster, more raw and has less keyboards than the studio version.

Alice Cooper-"Fire"/ b-side to "Love's a loaded gun" and a live version of "Eighteen" is also on the b-side, twelve inch single, 1991
This is Alice covering Hendrix's Fire. It always catches me off guard when an established act who has done few covers decides to cover a very well-known song. It's a good version though.

Anthrax-"Bud E. Luvbomb and satan's lounge band"/b-side to "I am the law" and a live version of Madhouse is also on the b-side, seven inch single, 1987
This is a big joke and it's more skit than song. It's funny at first, but a bit rambling after a while. I guess Scott and Charlie thought it was funny and pushed to have it on the single.

AC/DC-"Guns for hire" (live version)/ b-side to "Who made who", seven inch, 1986
No information listed on when this was recorded, but it's a pretty ripping version of this underrated song. Always thought it was an odd choice because nobody much acknowledges this song, but this is a solid recording.

Iron Maiden-"Nodding donkey blues" and "Space station no.5"/b-side to "Be quick or be dead", twelve inch single, 1992
"Nodding donkey blues" is a bit of an odd slow, shuffling song that's about the same topic as AC/DC's Whole lotta Rosie, but far less subtle. The real gem here though is the cover of Montrose's "Space station no.5".

So there is what I found. There was a time when you never knew what you were going to get with b-sides. You might get a song off the album, a live track or you may get a cover song or some crazy stuff.

***Wednesday will be a special "B-side" version of the Heavy Metal Jukebox as"Leftovers week" goes on.

Monday, May 21, 2007


First their is a new post over at Whole lotta album covers so go have a look. Second, my wife is writing a new blog called Still south of the Mason Dixon so have a look at that too.

Dee Snider-Never let the bastards wear you down, 2000

Hey, it's "Leftovers week" and here's the next helping of the week.

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This is a different sort of rarities album. Most rarities album are a collection of older songs that didn't make the album. Well, here Dee Snider was given the chance by Koch records to go back re-record songs from his past projects that never made it to an album. So all the songs here (other than the cover) were written between about 1983 and 1990 yet they were all recorded at the same time in 2000. So here's the breakdown.

1-Hard core- Dee wrote this song about Lemmy of Motorhead and it was a consideration for Twisted Sister's "Love is for suckers". It's fast, heavy and the lyrics are fitting. The song allows Dee to really give a lot to his vocals as well.

2-Call my name- Originally written for Twisted Sister's "Stay Hungry" album and it shows. It's mid-tempo, but very up front. It's better than a couple of songs that made it onto that album. Again strong vocals here.

3-Our voice will be heard- Also written for Stay Hungry, but maybe has more in common with "You can't stop rock and roll" material. Good song, but not quite as good as the one above it.

4-Isn't it time- A song written for Dee's Desperado project. It takes a little while to get going, but it turns out well. However now that I have heard the Desperado album I can see how this song doesn't fit the overall style of that album.

5-Cry you a rainbow- Another track written for the Desperado album. It's a ridiculously sappy song that's extremely difficult to make it through. No wonder this didn't make it on the album.

6-The Wanderer- You think Dee would have learned his lesson about covering oldie rock songs. After all the cover of "Leader of the pack" was pretty much a coffin nail for Twisted Sister's career. Although not terrible, this version wasn't worth recording.

7-Uh huh huh- Dee said he wrote this to be like Led Zeppelin. Well, it doesn't sound like Zeppelin and it comes across like a big joke.

8-Desperado- Obviously written for the Desperado album. Extremely solid hard rock outing that could have been a single if it had been released around 89-90.

9-Sometimes you win-Also written for Desperado. Not nearly as awful as tracks 5-7, but not that good either. It's kind of lukewarm and out of character for Dee. Sounds like he's reaching for something and it's just not working.

10-Ride through the storm-Now this song actually was recorded for the Desperado album. I like the version on the Desperado album a little more than the one here, but this is good too.

Times were different for Dee when this was done in 2000. He was over a year away from the Twisted Sister reunion and six years away from finally seeing the Desperado album get released. So he may have thought Twisted Sister were a memory and that Desperado would never see the light of day. So you get six strong songs, one below average and three stinkers. Whether or not you want this probably depends on how much you like Dee Snider and how much you have to pay. I got it used for a few bucks and thought it was worth that as I have listened to the good songs numerous times recently.

***Leftovers Week continues on Tuesday. Likely I will spotlight some B-side material from some singles I own.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Black -n- Blue-Rarities, 2007

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It's "Leftovers week" here at my blog and here is the first offering.

This album just came out a few weeks ago and includes demos, live and previously unreleased material from this LA band. For all reviews this week I will go song by song to give you the best idea of what's on the albums. The first five tracks here are demos from 1983. I am unsure if these are the same versions that appeared on the "Demos remastered anthology" album or not because I have not heard that album.

1. Violent Kid-I always heard this one described as being a representation of a heavier sound the band had before being signed. It is heavy for them, but a little repetitious. The version of this song on "One night only-Live" from 1998 is a little better. Still decent though.
2. Sign in Blood-Another early track that never made it on an album. It's slightly heavier than much of their debut yet it's in the same style as well.
3. Wicked Bitch-Slightly different version of one the best songs from their debut.
4. Gold Heart-The sound quality is noticeably lower than the other tracks from 1983. It's an okay song, not really anything special.
5. Hold on to 18-Good song, but this version is almost the same as the lp version except for the sound quality.
6. Lickety Split-This one is from 1986 so I guess it was done during the sessions for "Nasty nasty". I like it a lot it has a real fun feel to it and it's fairly unique. It would have fit in fine on "Nasty nasty".
7. Serious Drag-This is the first of three songs recorded for the proposed "Hell Yeah"album in 2002 that never saw the light of day. It was billed as a reunion album, but Jamie St. James is the only original member listed in the credits here. Anyway this song is the best of the three.
8. So Long-The second track from 2002 is a bit more serious than their older material. It's pretty good, but not a lot in common with how the band sounded in the 80's.
9. Hell Yeah-It's an okay song, but just not a lot of fire or fun to it.
10. Autoblast [Live] and 11. I'm the King [Live] - These are great live versions of songs from the debut recorded at a show in Detroit in 1984. The only problem is they are the same versions that are on "Live in Detroit 1984" which I already have.

So overall it wasn't worth what I paid for it. Most of the best songs I already have or have better versions. If you have never heard this band before than I would suggest their self-titled debut or their third album "Nasty nasty". If you have all the studio albums and want more then I would recommend both the "Live in Detroit 1984" and "One night only-live" albums although they are little harder to come by. Really I would only recommend this album to completests and I would suggest waiting a bit and trying to find a used copy of it for a cheaper price. Still listening to this did cause me to pull out some of my other Black -n-Blue Cd's

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What's coming up?

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Okay, I was wrong. The new Megadeth is better than I expected and I am enjoying it quite a bit. Might get around to reviewing it here in a week or two.Next week is a theme week and it's going to be "Leftovers week". Does that mean I am serving up old pizza or day old pot roast? No, by leftovers I mean music such as demos, b-sides and previously unreleased material. Songs or versions of songs that for one reason or another didn't make it onto an album when they were first done. This week I will have these four reviews.

-Led Zeppelin-Coda: Perhaps one of the most well-known albums to feature previously unreleased material

-Pre-Electric Wizard:A collection of demos from various bands that Justine Osbourne had before forming Electric Wizard

-Black-n-Blue-Rarities: A mixture of demos, live and previously unreleased tracks.

-Dee Snider- Never let the bastards wear you down: A different kind of leftovers album that I will explain in more detail when I review it.

-One day this week I will reach into my twelve and seven inch singles and try to find some odd or somewhat unknown b-side material to spotlight.
-A special B-side Heavy Metal Jukebox. I will find songs that were B-sides of singles that I have and throw them into a Heavy Metal Jukebox. Don't worry they will be songs you will know.

Now I think it's always safe to assume that most albums of rarities and previously unreleased material are generally mixed bags. You get some gems and you get some songs where you instantly hear why they were not used. So I will try to make this week fun and I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Influences and copycats

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I remember when Kingdom Come's self-titled debut came out in 1988 and they started to get a pretty good push from Mtv, the metal magazines and the radio. Yet they were quickly branded as "Kingdom Clone" due to the fact that sounded a lot like Led Zeppelin. I think the band had trouble getting past that label and the little promise they had seemed to fade pretty quick. Rhinobucket released a very solid debut in 1990. Still it was so much like Bon Scott era AC/DC that this fact was mentioned in every review I remember. The band have done several albums since, but every mention of them always seems to include something like "AC/DC soundalikes" as a description.

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Malice were a band I think had some promise when they first emerged from Oregan back in the mid-1980's. They signed to Atlantic records and their 1985 debut "In the beginning" is solid, but firmly founded in an early 1980's Judas Priest sound. Their 1987 follow-up "License to kill" is the same sort of sound and although competent they didn't grow beyond the Judas Priest sound. They lost their record deal shortly after that.

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Every band has their influences and that's always been the nature of music. Some bands show their influences more than others. I think it's okay to have a strong influence on your debut. However if a band doesn't move beyond those influences or add more of themselves on the second album then they could be branded as a clone or a copycat. Once they get that brand it may be hard to come into their own. I think this happens more than I wish it did in hard rock and metal. I am sure it's not always easy to come with your own ideas, but bands should attempt to grow even if it's a struggle. Playing it safe and taking no risks doesn't help a band or a music scene to progress. Just some random thoughts I had on this idea.

**Feel free to share any thoughts you have on the topic.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Albums for a deserted island

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The first time I heard the question of "what albums would you take to a deserted island?" was back in the mid-1980's. It was on the weekly radio show the Metalshop. They used to have a segment where they would ask a musician what album they would take. I have done this on my blog once or twice, but it has been at least a year so I thought it was high time to do it again. One album is not enough so you get to choose five albums. The only rules are.......

1)Yes, it has to be hard rock or metal.
2)No greatest hits or best of albums.

***So what five albums do you take with you to a deserted island?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Judge the album cover

Here are two covers of the same album. It's Judas Priest's Point of entry so here is....
the U.S. version
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and the UK version
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**So do you like them or not and which do you prefer?

***Remember if you like album covers then go check out Whole lotta album covers .

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lesser of two evils

The Lesser of two evils for this month is between two LA based bands who started up in the mid 1980's. So we have .....

Keel-The right to rock
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Stryper-The Yellow and black attack

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So it's Keel's 1985 sophomore album versus Stryper's 1984 debut. One of these was better than I thought and one was very hard for me make it all the way through because of how bad it was. So here we go.

This category is a problem for both bands. Ron Keel can sing at times, but tries way too hard to overcompensate at other times. he puts in off pitch screams at odd moments that add nothing. He also has a deeper voice that sounds very put-on, a bit like a teenager in his room trying to sing like Gene Simmons. Michael Sweet can sing sort of, but my biggest problem with him is that he is just not a hard rock/metal singer. He just doesn't have enough behind his voice for it to work. On some of the sappy songs he just sounds like a 14 year old girl.
Point to Keel

The guitarists for Keel were Bryan Jay and Marc Ferrari and they have a few sparks, but largely everything is just very routine. Way too often there is just not much behind their rhythms. Oz Fox of Stryper has some moments where he routine as well, but more than half of the time he is solid enough and his solos are tight sharp. I was actually surprised by how heavy some of Fox's guitar parts were at times.
Point to Stryper

Rhythm section

Stryper bassist Tim Gaines is okay as is Kenny Chaisson of Keel. The real difference is in the drummers. Dwain Miller of Keel is very much in the background and barely noticeable. Stryper's Robert Sweet on the other hand mixes up some solid beats and has a big, thick sound to his playing.
Point to Stryper

The production of Keel's album is okay, but the production on Stryper is a bit murky. However, Keel have very little originality. I am still surprised that they got the push they did back then because there is very little special here. Stryper's slower songs struggle badly, but their more rock songs were sort of fresh for the time. It's a shame they didn't maintain more of that when they got more popular.
Point to Stryper

Who rocks more?
Stryper's sappy songs are ridiculously sappy. Still there are not that many of them and most of their rock songs are well arranged and I even listened to some of them twice. Stryper's rock songs (6 out of 8 tracks) were not boring and moved along fairly well. On the other hand I struggled mightily at times to make it through The right to rock. It was just surprisingly lame at times.
Point to Stryper

A bit of a blow-out as Stryper ran all over Keel to a tune of 4-1. They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words so the guys in Keel just got blown out by these guys.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Two Things

First I would like to wish my wife a Happy Birthday today. Second, go have a look over at the latest posts at Whole lotta album covers.

Mercyful Fate -Don't break the oath, 1984

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This was the second full length lp from this band. It was also be the last album of their first run. This brings back memories of getting home from high school, crashing on my bed and listening to this album from start to finish. King Diamond has always vocals that you either love or hate. Personally I love his vocals, particularly on this album. He became a little more scattered when he went solo. Normally whenever this band is mentioned, so much is made of the vocals and/or the lyrics. I think the music and the rest of the get or at least used to get left out at times and not get the credit they deserved. To me this is a metal album that carries a heavy load and carries it well. From the opener "A dangerous meeting" you know it's solid metal with a heavy barrage of guitars, thumping bass and steady drums.Yet we get King's crazy vocals and maybe more importantly is they way they approach their song structures. There are parts that are typical, but just when you think you have them pegged they mix it up in a major way. The music flies off into another direction, the vocals change abruptly or the music halts or just completely takes another turn. This actually happens all through the album and what's more amazing is it works every single time. It's just crazy how much music is really on this album when you think about the number of pace changes. To me this is one the most engaging real metal albums of it's decade. I think sometimes people have forgotten how many different sounds this band had and just how many different metal sub-genres they really influenced. The band also sounds like they are 100% charged all the time here and the energy level rarely falters. It would be amazing to have them live at this point in their career because they were certainly at the top of their game. Highly recommended listening for sure.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

What's coming up?

It's been an alright week. The weather has been great and things are overall fine. I listened to a lot of things this past week partly in preparation for my theme week this month which will start on the 20th. I will keep the theme a secret until then. Coming up I hope to have out these:

-Mercyful Fate-Don't break the oath review
-Who were they? Cardinal Sin
-Lesser of two evils: Keel vs. Stryper
-Some variation on the albums for a deserted island question
-Maybe one other short topic

Sometimes I find myself hard pressed to think up topics, but normally I am able to come up with something or other. I continue to find it hard to believe that these albums I listened to in high school are now almost or are over twenty years old. I really wasn't listening to much new music between say 1995 and 2000. I was still listening to same old stuff during that period and largely I still am. I don't consider myself close-minded though, I just feel like I know what I like to listen to and that's what I aim for. I'll step down off the soapbox for now.

**I won't be posting on Sunday because of the holiday. So I want to wish a Happy Mother's day to my mom, to my wife who is the mother of my kids and to all mothers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Alice Cooper-Raise your fist and yell, 1987

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Background-After almost a decade of exploring some very non-hard rock sounds, Alice Cooper put out Constrictor in 1986. It was more hard rock than he had been in years, but overall it was just okay. In 1987 he returned with this album. He had Kane Roberts on guitar, Kip Winger on bass and Ken Mary (TKO, Fifth Angel) on drums. Alice has changed many musical styles over his some forty year music career.

First impression-I first heard this the week it came out and really liked it. It was much more a metal album than Constrictor. The playing and vocals were solid and some of the topics were odd enough to be interesting. I played it a lot for a few years. Then in the early 90's I discovered his older material and drew away from this album a bit. I have warmed up to it more in recent years. Let's break it down and see how it stands up.


Freedom-Lots of swirling guitar riffs toward the beginning. Heavier than Alice has been in years at this point. An anthem about having rights and the vocals are very strong. You will be singing along after a few listens.

Lock me up-A little more of a medium pace than the opener and slightly lighter in tone. It's good, but not a huge standout. Lacks energy to some extent. I had trouble remembering this track after the album ended.

Give the radio back-Another mid-tempo track, but it works up some momentum. The solo is very strong and helps ignite it some. When I first heard the album I thought this might be a single, but "Freedom" was instead.

Step on you-This track gets back to the same energy level as "Freedom". Alice sounds really cranked up and that's a plus. There are some odd guitar parts as well and that helps set this one apart from the previous two tracks.

Not that kind of love-A very tight riffed song that plugs along at a slightly off beat pace. For some reason this on reminds me some of KISS from around the same time. Kind of silly, but it is different because it's not a rebellion type anthem like the four previous songs.

Prince of darkness-This song alternates between slow and medium as it tries to tell a story. The same name as the movie (a rather bad movie) that Alice had a small roll in. The song is good, but not one of the best so far.

Time to kill-From here on out we get into the real prime of the album. This song has strong riffs, excited vocals and just enough twists to make it interesting.

Chop, chop, chop-It's a song about a killer yet through the bulk of the time it makes things sound very casual. It's a good lively song though with a somewhat dark ending. Some people think these last three tracks represent a trilogy about a murderer and his bride. The end of this song does have a link to the next track and Gail seems to lead straight into the final track.

Gail-Sounds like music from a horror movie. It's quite strange, but captivating and somewhat short.

Roses on white lace-Huge opening riff and probably the heaviest song on the album. On about half the tracks on this album the band do a good job of mixing in some different paces and making it work. That's not typical of this kind of music and it only helps the overall feel of the album. Nice closer for the album.

Verdict/final word-Guitarist Kane Roberts was a big guy because he was a body builder at the time. He was a also a big part of what makes this Alice's best album after "Welcome to my nightmare". Kane has his own playing style and it was very sharp and fresh for the time. His playing is as a big a part of this album as Alice's vocals. Alice did dip his feet into the heavy metal arena as it was heating up. Some critics scolded him for jumping on the metal band wagon, but this is a solid metal album for the time. Slightly dated perhaps, but well played with some catchy hooks and just enough elements to make it unique. I think this album get overlooked at times compared to Trash and even Constrictor, but it's far better than either of those. I am glad that it holds up as well as it does.

***The twenty year album review for June will be Celtic Frost's Into the pandemonium.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Album cover posts

Check out the new posts over at this blog.

Cover albums

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With both Poison and Tesla set to release cover albums, I thought this topic might be relevant. Covering another band's material isn't anything new as plenty artists did this back forty years ago or more. However I think that during the 1970's and through much of the 80's there was a little less of it. You might have someone doing one or two covers on an album, but normally not a whole lot more than that. Van Halen did several cover songs on Diver Down and received some complaints about it because the album was short, but then it was almost half covers. I really think that when Metallica's $5.98 ep came out in the summer of 1987 that things changed. Here was a band certainly on the way up doing an album of covers. They said they wanted to record something between lp's because they figured it was a while until their next lp. They also covered bands that were more obscure to metal fans like Killing Joke and the Misfits. Most importantly it caught on for the most part. People accepted it. However the fact that Metallica were working on another lp right after this and it was out about 13 months after this ep. Still I think around this point more bands started doing more cover songs. Yet it wasn't until the 1990's that cover albums started to really explode. Now it seems like almost every other older hard rock/metal band has done a cover album. Some have been good...
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....while others have not been that great.

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Nowadays most bands will say something "we are paying tribute to our influences". I would actually rather they pay tribute to their fans by putting out some new matrtial. Cover albums feel a little like a cheat to me in some ways. It's a reason to tour without doing new material. There are some good covers, but there are some that just sound like the bands are going through the motions. Maybe that makes me sound like a spoiled fan, but that's the way I feel about it sometimes. As far as Tesla and Poison's new albums go I have little doubt that Tesla will do a good job and Poison will be lame. Yet I likely won't buy either one because I am just not that big on cover albums.

**What do you think of cover albums?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


It's time for over/under. I list two bands and for each one you tell me what you think most overrated song by that artist is and then the most underrated. Here are the bands.

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Alice Cooper
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***So what do you think?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Loud-n-Nasty-Teaser, teaser, 2004

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Sweden's Loud-n-Nasty are a three piece band that played very 80's sounding hard rock or hair metal as it would likely be categorized. Track one "Teaser" is a bit like mid-80's Ratt."Play Dirty" is medium paced and somewhat like a cross between Ratt and say "Shout at the devil" era Motley Crue."Annie" is a strong ballad that maybe part Ratt and part Twisted Sister. "Hungry" is back to the cross between Ratt and Motley Crue. "If You Wanna Rock" reminds me of WASP's "Scream until you like it" with a dash of Twisted Sister thrown in. "Love Child" might be a little like "Theater of pain" era Crue, but the bands has some of their own ideas as well. "After The War" is an easy flowing guitar instrumental. "Saturday Night" has a little of the Ratt meets Motley Crue sound, but the band brings a big junk of their own energy as well. "Hollywood Dream" is kind of layed back, but rough vocals and some catchy hooks carry it. "Kick 'n' Fight" has a very simple sound, but it's tight and sharp hooks in the right place make it work. "Help Me" is another slow track that begins like early Motley Crue, but the band make it their by tossing some solid pace changes and relying more on the music here. There are bands that sound like second rate copies of bigger bands and there are bands who are influenced by bigger bands. These guys are in the latter category as the bulk of the material is firmly entrenched in 80's hair metal. Yet they know how and where to put the hooks and they have some catchy chourses. Singer/guitarist Chris Loud has a voice similar to Stephen Pearcy and I like it lot because of the grit he throws in there. I have been playing this one a lot lately. Much like Sweet Cheater and Smash Alley these guys are like other bands, but have something going on for themselves as well. These guys did five albums between 1998 and 2004. Last year they had changed drummers and had Snowy Shaw (King Diamond, Mercyful Fate, Dream Evil) as their drummer (!). They supposedly had three new songs recorded and a single ready to be released in May of '06, but I don't think that has happened yet so I am not sure if they are still around or not.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Check out the new blog

No real post here today so head over to the new blog to check it out. I'll be back here on Tuesday with a review of Loud-n-Nasty's Teaser, Teaser.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

What's coming up and current playlist

The weather has been nice a lot of things are in bloom. That's cool because I can get my kids outside more and we all like that. Coming on Monday will be the first post at the new blog that I am part of. The information for that is in the post below this one. Also this week I hope to have out.....

-Alice Cooper-Raise your fist and yell review
-Loud-n-Nasty- Teaser,teaser review
-Another segment of Over/Under
-Something about cover albums

Lately I have been listening to:
-Lots of Rush
-Iron Maiden-Piece of mind
-Alice Cooper-Muscle of love
-Guns and Roses-Both Use your illusions
-Blind Date
-Artillery-Terror Squad
-Crimson Glory

***What are you listening to?

Friday, May 04, 2007

New blog information!

I am involved with a new blog that will be starting next week. It is Whole lotta album covers and the first real post will be up on Monday the 7th. It will be about all kinds of album covers. There are three of us involved with writing it. Ray writes for a number of magazines reviewing albums so he has seen a lot of covers. Bob has a huge album collection so he has seen a lot of album covers. I know that I have wasted a large chunk of my life staring at album covers. So it's high time we shared our love of album covers with others by blogging about them. I will put up another reminder on Monday when the blog begins and we hope you stop by and check it out.

Rush-Snakes and arrows

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Alright the new album came out on Tuesday and I snagged it at Wal-mart. I think that overall it's heavier at times than recent efforts and I do think they tried some new things here. The production values are as stellar as usual. Tracks like "Far Cry", "Armor and sword", "The main monkey business" and "We hold on" were are all very interesting. There seems to be some fire and creativity left in the band as these songs are evidence of that. They really seem to plunge ahead and go it at times. However the opposite end of the spectrum are tracks like "The larger bowl", "Spindrift" and "Faithless". While these songs are decent, it was like deja vu. The songs would start out fine and then it would feel like the songs could have just as easily have been on "Counterparts" or "Test for echo". Nothing wrong with those albums, but that was ten plus years ago. I am a huge Rush fan and have enjoyed the last few albums, but even I have to admit these albums are at best very good. Unfortunately it has been a long time since they have had a great album. Yes, a good Rush album is still better those people's efforts though. If you are a Rush fan then you will like it and I am sure it will end up on my top ten albums of the year list. However I fear Iron Maiden's 2006 album "A matter of life and death" has changed how I view new albums by older bands. I used to give bands some leeway and say "they're older and maybe it's not fair to compare this with their prime". However last year Iron Maiden's new album was exceptional and ground breaking. Yes, it's Maiden and they are on a different level, but as a fan I can and will have high standards. "Snakes and arrows" is played with a lot of skill and precision yet part of me wishes there was a little more spirit behind it at times.

**Make sure you go and check out Rob's review on this album over at Hard rock hideout.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Blog plug

Bob Vinyl has been writing again and his blog is Rock and roll and meandering nonsense. He even has a post about Rush today. So go check it out.

Rush-Permanent Waves, 1980

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My favorite Rush albums are Fly by night, 2112, Moving pictures and this one. If forced to choose an absolute favorite I would say it's which ever one these I heard last. So that would this one at this point. This was Rush's seventh studio album so they were becoming veterans at this point, but they were still growing and exploring their musical direction. The band was getting away from the science fiction epics that had defined them a few years earlier. Now they were becoming a bit more accesible, but no less interesting. Their sound had often been a wall of music at times, but by 1980 their sound was becoming very huge and extremely busy. There are times here where I feel like I am being led through a maze as the music cuts this way and that at unexpected turns yet it always leads me to a satisfying end. Still it has an undeniable smoothness to it, but I think it helps rather than holding the material back. "The spirit of radio" and "Freewill" both received a great deal of airplay. Both are well played musically, but definitely catchy and more accesible than some of their earlier material. I love the solo on "Freewill" as it's just crazy and all over the place. "Entre Nous" is similar in style to the two radio songs, a little more serious and reserved maybe. "Jacob Ladder" starts out at sort of a plodding pace, but picks up to a steady pace. Then it's a rather airy middle and then goes to a more upbeat, mid-tempo pace and it marches on to an end. Maybe a little more basic than other songs here, but no less interesting and slightly heavier. "Different strings" clocks in at under four minutes and is fairly slow and low key until around the three minute mark and then gets into some gritty jamming. The slower parts make me think of looking out the window on a rainy day. The solos for some reason remind me a little of early Alice Cooper. "Natural science" comes on last and it's over nine minutes and the band doesn't waste any time here either. It's crammed packed of pace changes, Geddy using his full vocal range, Peart hitting everything in reach and Alex squeezes like three tracks worth of guitar into this one song. This track simply charges on and never lets up. A fine way to end a great album. This album is still like a great ride that has never gotten old.

***Rush week will wrap up with a review of the new album on Friday.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New blog coming soon!

I am involved with a new blog that will be starting next week. I will share full details on Friday as to who is involved and what it will be about.

Heavy Metal Jukebox: Rush edition

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Okay, it's all Rush songs this time around. Here are the choices.

-Fly by night
-Closer to the heart
-The Spirit of radio

***Which do you choose?

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Rush-Caress of steel, 1975

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What is the first Rush album that comes to your mind? I doubt it was this one as it tends to be a little overlooked. This was their third album and it seems be in the shadows of 2112 and Farewell to kings which are perhaps more total packages in terms of style. "Caress of steel" followed "Fly by night" and that's probably the album that it is closest to in style. Yet it still manages to define itself as well. Like "Fly by night" and "2112" this album has an epic song(s) done in parts plus some other songs that are not part of the epic(s). The two most known tracks here are likely "Bastille Day" and "Lakeside Park" and looking back they might they least typical Rush songs on the album. The former is perhaps the most straight ahead rocker Rush did in the 70's and the later is tightly constructed, but lighter in tone than some of the band's other material from this time period. "I think I am going bald" seems to get the worst rap due to it's lyrics as some fans feel it's silly or below the normal Rush standards. To be fair I don't their lyrical style wasn't completely founded at this point so it was okay to have a song like this. The music is decent, but not quite anything that will stick with you for long. "The Necromancer" is a three-part, ten minute long track. This is at times a darker style for Rush and there are a lot of quick pace changes and there is a spoken word thing going on. It has a bit of a science fiction type feel to it and By-Tor (of "...and the snow dog" fame) is mentioned. Some Rush purists do not like this song. My feeling is it's odd, but interesting and it held my attention. Lastly is "The Fountain Of Lamnethis another multi-part song that actually is the whole second sife of this album (yes, I only have it on vinyl). Maybe at times it's somewhat like the "2112" epic. Still it's a tad more subtle and a little less distinct at times. Personally I like it a lot because it's done in a style that kept me guessing as to what was coming next. That's also because I have not heard this album in at least two years. Overall it might actually be a little underproduced compared to their other efforts of the decade, even the debut. Yet I like the production as it gives the album a slightly darker, less polished feel and maybe in the long run it was good to have an album that was a little different in that respect. The album as a whole is more disjointed than something like "Farewell to kings" or "Hemispheres", but they were still finding themselves and exploring what they could do. I like it a lot and remember back in the summer of 1989 when this and "Fly by night" spent a lot of time in my walkman. Not their best, but certainly worth giving a spin.

***Rush week presses on with a Rush version of the Heavy Metal Jukebox on Wednesday.