Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The concert choir story

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I was reminded of this story after I mentioned AC/DC's TNT last week on the heavy metal jukebox. When I was in middle school every year around Christmas the concert choir from the high school would come and put on a Christmas program. I think we were just glad to get out of regular classes for a while. This story happened when I was in sixth grade which would have put it in December of 1981. Anyway the choir does their program, everyone claps and the choir make their way off the stage. My class is sitting way up on the side bleachers so I know it will be a while until we get out. I look up on the stage and all of the choir are off the stage leaving just the drummer and bass player who are still with their instruments. Then a member of the choir comes on stage and appears like he's taking a microphone stand apart. Instead the drummer and bass player start playing this simple beat and doing opening chant from AC/DC's TNT. Then the guy with the microphone gets out about this much...

"See me ride out of the sunset
On your color TV screen
Out for all that I can get
If you know what I mean"

Then the choir director has sprinted up to the stage and grabbed the microphone from him. A bunch of us were cheering although it doesn't take much to amuse a bunch of sixth graders. I wasn't yet that big into metal. If I listened to anything it was just whatever came on the radio, but I did know what song this was. Every once in while I think back to that story and wonder-

1)How much trouble did those guys get into for doing that?
2)Did they remain AC/DC fans for a long time?
3)Did any of them ever play in a band?

I guess I hope that this was some sign of how much they liked music and that they kept their love of music. However it just may have been a foolish stunt by some kids who just didn't have anything else to do. Anyway just thought I'd share this one with you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Tigertailz-Beserk, 1990

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Perhaps another one of those bands that only I enjoy, but I am certainly fond of this band. A glam band from Wales that all too often gets compared to Poison. Okay, they sound a little like Poison, but they are much heavier and far better musicians overall. It's a shame all glam wasn't done this way. It's big, lively and most of all very fun. Vocalist Kim Hooker isn't quite as good or unique as original vocalist Steevi Jaimz, but the music is better here than on their debut. I think they find a good balance between melodic and frantic at times. They know to go at it, but they know how to write some very catchy tunes as well. They are easily head and shoulders above about 90% of the glam and hard rock coming out around the same time. Maybe where they were from kept them from developing the over processed sound that too many American bands suffered from around the same time. Still it's certainly a kicker and worth a listen. I am not real big into the ballad "Heaven", but the rest is quite good. My favorites are "Sick Sex", "Action City", "I can fight dirty too", "Love overload" and "Squeeze it dry". I would recommend it for fans of Poison, Faster Pussycat, Motley Crue and Ratt. This was re-released back in late 2005 and goes for around $10. Oh and that is singer Kim Hooker on the cover in a touched up photo.

Monday, February 26, 2007

March Metal Madness

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Get ready for March Metal Madness. What is it? Well, join the four Knights of the Rock Table: Heavy Metal Time Machine,Hard Rock Hideout , Heavy Metal Addiction, and Pulses, Verses and other Flotsam for four huge 20th anniversary reviews. That’s right, each Monday in March each of these four bloggers will be reviewing the same 1987 release on their respective blogs. Only the album choices have been discussed so our opinions on these albums may be very different. So check in each week in March to see our take on some releases that are cornerstones of most good Hard Rock and Metal collections.

Here are the dates and albums we will be reviewing.

First week-Whitesnake-s/t on Monday, March 5th
Second week-Dio-Dream Evil on Monday, March 12th
Third week-Testament-The Legacy on Monday, March 19th
Fourth week-Kiss-Crazy nights on Monday, March 26

So that means every Monday in March you can go to one of these blogs read the review and then go visit the other three blogs to read their reviews on the same album. Hope you will join us and hope you enjoy it. Let the madness begin!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Judge the album cover

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This week's album cover is Future World, a 1987 release by Pretty Maids. So do you like the cover, think it's just okay or you don't like it?

Saturday, February 24, 2007

What's coming up?

Well, that's it for 1970's week. Hope you enjoyed it. Coming up this week are these topics-

-Judge the album cover on Sunday
-Details for March Metal Madness on Monday
-Tigertailz-Beserk review
-The concert choir story
-Some questions for you

I always do one "twenty year old album review" per month and will do this in March, but this week I am also going to be doing a special forty year old album review. Yes, that's right a forty year old album that is hugely influential of hard rock and metal. Of course it's "Are you experienced?" by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. I will write it in the same format as my twenty year old albums. Which means it will have a track by track breakdown and an examination of how it has aged. So I am really excited about this one for sure.

Have a great week!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Van Halen-s/t, 1978

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
One of the things that is commonly attached to this album is the notion that it was important in saving rock music. That might very well be true to some extent. By the start of 1978, disco, new wave and punk were all cutting into a piece of the pie that had largely been ruled by hard rock between say 1970-1975. Also some of the big bands of the earlier part of the decade were changing as Deep Purple were gone and Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were not the bands that they once were. Acts like Rush, Ted Nugent, Judas Priest and AC/DC were still going strong, but there was room for more. The opening track here is of course "Running with the devil" and it's a good example of Roth-era Van Halen. You have the easy little sound of Michael Anthony's bass and an even guitar coming in, but then you have some good Diamond Dave howls, some big Alex Van Halen drum beats and a ripping solo from Eddie. Van Halen in their prime were largely mixes of the simple and the extreme and that was part of their charm and appeal for me. Then the album rips into the guitar instrumental "Eruption" and only two tracks in and Eddie is already establishing himself as the next real guitar hero. Their cover of "You really got me" sees the band sounding way more experienced than a band doing their debut should sound. Eddie always blew off the main riff for "'Ain't talkin' 'bout love" as being kind of a joke, but this is a great song for all involved. "I'm the one" closes side one and it's a good track for showing the band's ability to bring a real groove to their music. Flip it over to side two and "Jamie's cryin" starts it off and we a good earful of how effective this band can make their vocals sound. "Atomic Punk" is a wild song with an edgy riff and a good amount of energy. "Feel your love night" is at times a little forgotten, but again it has some of what became the trademark vocals that this band was once so good at doing. "Little Dreamer" although decent might be the only track here that's not quite as interesting to me as the rest of the album. "Ice cream man" is all about Diamond Dave and boy does he carry and sell it. The album finishes up with a big ripper called on "On fire" with all the members laying like crazy. What a debut for these guys as they threw it all out there and it wasn't over yet as they were going to be at the top of their game for another six years. It has certainly not lost anything over the years as it still shines today as a fine example of guitar based hard rock. I didn't hear this until like 1984 and was stunned then. I can only imagine that people who first heard in 1978 had to have someone pick their jaws up off of the floor.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

It's coming.....

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Full details coming next week on what this is.

Heavy Metal Jukebox-1970's edition

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting It's time to play the Heavy Metal Jukebox. It's simple, I list three songs and you say which one you like the most. This time it's all songs from the 1970's by artists whose names begin with the letter "A". Here are your choices.


Aerosmith-Back in the saddle.

Alice Cooper-No more Mr. Nice Guy

***So which one do you prefer?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Blog plug

A great new hard rock/metal blog has just started up. It's Rock of ages so go check it out.

KISS-Rock and roll over, 1976

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Probably one of the first bands you think of when the 1970's is mentioned. And why not? They had a big stage show, the make-up, the costumes and the whole image that went with it. Yet it's the music that matters and KISS had that as well or at least at one time they did. Maybe it's silly to say that an album made in the middle of their hay day was overlooked, but I think this album is at least a little bit overlooked at times. Released just months after Destroyer and before Lovegun, Rock and roll over has perhaps less known songs than those two albums which is why it may be overlooked. However the tracks that here are largely solid and the album as a whole is as good of an example of KISS in their prime as any other release. Let's face it, no one in the original line-up was that great of a musician and the lyrics were pure cheese. Yet they sold it and sold it well because they tried hard and didn't pretend to be anything other than entertaining. Changing singers was also a big plus at times as it helped them to do different styles of songs and pull them off. Here are a few of the tracks that stand out to me. "I want you" is a real direct rocker with a good intro. "Love 'em and leave 'em" has a big thick sound and chugs along nicely. "Baby Driver" is fairly energetic with lots of squealing guitars and a good control of the pace. "Hard luck woman" is easily better than "Beth" from Destroyer and it seems much more suited to the style of the band. Of course "Makin' Love" is a giant in your face rocker. "Mr. Speed" might be the only song on the album that's a little under par. It's not bad when I hear it, but once the album end I can't ever quite remember how it went. Anyway this is a good slab of rock music from KISS. I also commend Eddie Kramer for the production job that manages to capture a sound that has enough of an edge on it. Certainly one of the top KISS albums I reach for.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sweet-Desolation Boulevard, 1974

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This is the American version of this release so it actually contains half of the UK release of the same name plus half of the Sweet fanny Adams album. Sweet had different sounds through their career, but I think their strongest was between 73-76. Even here it is a blend of different sounds rolled together. There is smooth harmonizing and catchy choruses all over the place, but there are also odd pace changes and some strained vocals that also work. The tracks "Ballroom blitz" and "Fox on the run" are the two hits here and you have probably heard the various cover versions of them as well. Yet it's really some of other tracks on the album where the band lay down what should be their legacy. "Set me free" is so awesome even now as it just flies through, but still manages to be smooth as silk. The "6-teens" is so powerful because it puts so much weight on the vocals and lyrics and they carry the load easily. The album is often called glam, but it's really a mixture of styles. You can here some 60's British pop, some early 70's bubblegum pop, hard rock and then some odd stuff through in just to make it interesting. I think too many people remember this band for their hits and don't delve further into their back catalog. I know Motley Crue and Def Leppard liked these guys a lot and I guarantee the Ramones heard Sweet because you can hear the influence. As with all of the albums I am reviewing this week I listened to this on vinyl. I picked up my copy back in 1992 at a yard sale for like a dollar and I was floored by it. I am still finding things about this album to enjoy.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Hard rock and heavy metal in the 1970's

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The roots of hard rock/metal probably started really taking shape around the mid to late 1960's. Such as acts as Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Blue Cheer started forming the foundation of this style of music. So actually the 1970's would be the first decade in which this style existed during the entire decade. It was not just interesting, but also a very exciting time heavy music. So much was being created and worked out and much of it was fairly new and original. This is my favorite decade for hard rock and heavy metal. The 1980's had a lot of bands and more genres, but there is just something fresher and at times a bit more pure about a lot of heavy music from the 1970's. You had bands that used gimmicks, but I think the record labels didn't have as tight of a leash on bands back then. Most bands that fizzled then did so because they wore themselves out rather solely being pushed out by changing fads. Although I think hard rock was in some danger towards the end of the decade, but bands like Van Halen, AC/DC and Judas Priest pulled it out and then the 1980's took over.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I decided to make a list of 25 hard rock/metal albums from the 1970's that I think give a good overview of the decade. My only rules for myself were no live albums and I could only use and artist once.

3-Alice Cooper-Love it to death
4-Black Sabbath-Volume 4
5-Blue Oyster Cult-Agents of fortune
7-Budgie-Never turn your back on a friend
8-Deep Purple-Machine Head
9-Judas Priest-Sad wings of destiny
10-KISS-Dressed to kill
11-Led Zeppelin-Houses of the holy
14-Nazareth-Hair of the dog
15-New York Dolls-s/t
16-Queen-A night at the opera
20-Sweet-Desolation Boulevard
21-Ted Nugent-Cat scratch fever
22-Thin Lizzy-Bad Reputation
23-UFO-Strangers in the night
24-Uriah Heep-Demons and wizards
25-Van Halen-s/t

Hope this helps to kick off 1970's week.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, February 18, 2007

New Fu Review

I have a review of Fu Manchu's "We must obey" up over at Will and Ben's record room.

Judge the album cover

It's a special judge the album cover this week. Special because because this week is "1970's week" so both covers are from that decade and special because there are two covers to judge this week. So here is cover A which is Bandolier by Budgie.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here is cover B which is Fly by night by Rush
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

So what do you think of each one?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What's coming up?

My son has chosen this past week to start walking and he has been going all over the place. Actually he has been doing it in spurts. Anyway this coming week will be 1970's week here at my blog. So here are the topics for this special week.

-A 1970's version of Judge the album cover with two album covers to judge this time.
-A 1970's version of the Heavy Metal Jukebox
-Hard rock and heavy metal in the 1970's

Plus the following album reviews:

-Sweet-Desolation Boulevard
-KISS-Rock and roll over
-Van Halen-s/t

So pull out those bell bottoms, tight t-shirts and get ready for this special week.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Dokken-Tooth and nail, 1984

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Dokken's 1983 debut Breaking the chains showed some flashes of the band's potential yet it was overall just okay. However something must have clicked over the next year because their sophomore album is something else. The album kicks off with the instrumental "Without warning" with it's strained chords and slow build-up. Then the band launches into the title track with it's steady, thumping beat plus the wailing guitar solo and clear vocals. Next it's on to the melodic "Just got lucky" only melodic can be and is a good thing here. It's catchy and memorable without being overdone. "Heartless Heart" is a fairly simple song that cuts straight to the chase and keeps the flow of the album going. The opening riff of "Don't close your eyes" is one of George Lynch's best and this might be my favorite track on the album. Every detail of this song is sharp and precise. "When heaven comes down" starts with a nice thick riff and it's just a nice head bobbin' kind of song. The next track is "Into the fire" and despite the number of times I have heard it I still think it's very good. A perfect example of this band's ability to control the pace and put a lot into a song without overdoing it. This album is good example of how a band should mix up the styles of songs as we go back to another basic song. "Bullets to spare" is a mid-paced track with strong vocals and a solid rhythm. Ballad isn't always a dirty word in the world of hard rock and "Alone again" is a good example of that. A ballad that manages to convey emotion and show strength yet avoid being sappy or dull. The final track "Turn on the action" flies on and tears it up. My scorecard says ten good tracks with no fillers. This is just an excellent example of how 1980's hard rock could be if all of the band members were talented and they knew how to play together. Easily the finest moments for all involved.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Plugging blogs

Here are some music blogs to check out. First up is a new blog from Fred Charles who comments regularly here. His new blog is 16-tons of doom which focuses on doom metal and stoner rock. Next is Bring back glam which centers on glam and hard rock. So go take a look.


Here is a simple game for you. I list three bands and for each one you tell me what you think is the most overrated song by that band and then list the most underrated song by that band. The bands are:


Black Sabbath


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Off from work today

My work was called off today due to the ice storm we are getting. So I did what anyone who is off from work does. That's right, I put football helmets on my daughter and here stuffed animals and then I took their picture.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Okay, maybe it just obsessive football fans who can't get over the season being finished that would do this. I do that think my daughter is beginning to understand that her crazy father's love for metal, football, Star Trek and other things though.

What killed off hard rock in the early 1990's?

Now keep in mind that I am merely a fan so my thoughts here are just speculation. My purpose is not to point fingers, but rather to get a handle on what happened to cause the fall of hard rock and metal in the early 1990's. Metal and hard rock went on existing in the underground in the 1990's. However there was a huge shift and many bands lost their record deals and many broke up because of this shift. I think a number of people believe that hard rock and metal was killed off by grunge and that is a huge factor, but I don't think that it was the only reason. I also don't believe that when Nirvana's Nevermind was released that bam! metal was gone. It was far more gradual than that as bands like Nirvana, Alice in chains, Soundgarden and others had been building a following for a few years. It's also not like all hard rock and metal were killed off. Metallica and Guns and Roses were still enjoying success in 1992 and 1993. Def Lepard, Kiss and Aerosmith had successful albums during those years as well. Plus Pantera were really breaking out around this time. Yet the long run that hard rock and metal had through the 1980's was mainly derailed starting around late 1991 and by early 1993 it had changed quite a bit. I will cut to the chase and say that I think that the three main factors that killed off a lot of hard rock in the early 1990's were:
A)The already discussed rise of grunge bands like Soundgarden.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

B)Major labels signing many bands like Tyketto, but not having any idea of what to do with them.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

C)Labels pushing bands like Warrant who had little staying power.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

So I have discussed point A so on to point B and it's a biggie. I think around 1986 that labels really began to see the commercial power of hard rock and metal bands as acts like Van Halen, Ozzy and Bon Jovi had huge success and began to see real mainstream appeal. Plus acts like Metallica, Megadeth and Slayer showed that there was money to be made from heavier bands as well. So in 1987 we see more major labels signing more bands from these genres. That's fine and this was a good year for metal. However between about 1988 and 1991 I think the floodgates opened and a number of labels started signing any band with long hair and Marshall stacks. I think many labels signed bands with hopes of them being the next G-n-R or Poison, but didn't stop to think how they would market these bands. I am no expert on the inner workings of the music industry. However I can do simple math and I know that if there are say six big hard rock bands doing tours then that means the number of opening slots are limited. So if you have 20 young bands with albums due out then not all of them will get a major opening so what kind of tour do they do? Also let's say that in 1987 a young band had their video played three weeks in a row on the Headbanger's Ball. Yet by 1990 there are three times as many bands doing videos then how many times do you think a young band's video is going to be shown? The same goes for radio and magazines is only so much space there as well. Have you heard of Wild Horses, Law and order or Noisy Mama? Maybe not, but all were on major labels between 88-91. What about Powermad, Meliah Rage or Violence? These were all speed metal bands who were on major labels during that same time period. Just a few of the many bands who were signed but got lost in the shuffle. I have heard too many stories of bands being signed during this time period yet they didn't get help finding a tour or they didn't much of a push from the label and they failed after just one album.

Point C is that I think that labels began to push hard rock bands that were more fluff like Poison, Warrant and Trixter. Every one of these bands seemed to be required to do a power ballad or two. Back in say 84-85, there were hard rock bands like Motley Crue, Ratt and Dokken who sold albums yet they weren't just fluff. I think by say 1990 a lot of popular hard rock bands were becoming like flavors of the week. They appealed to teenagers at the time, but their music wasn't strong enough that all of these kids were going to stick with these bands for a long time. I think that the record labels had more of a hand in designing bands to be a certain way between say 88-91. The hard rock bands of that time were becoming more like pop bands and losing that rebellious edge that metal once had. So when stuff like Nirvana, Alice in chains and Soundgarden popped up many young people saw those bands as having more of an edge and being more outside the mainstream. Although they would quickly become the mainstream just as metal and hard rock bands had before them had.
That's my opinion for what it's worth. Feel free to add your own thoughts.

***Happy Valentine's Day as well!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Force of evil-Black Empire, 2005

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
I actually first heard this some time ago, but just got around to writing about it. This was the second release from a band where 4/5 of the line-up had all played with either Mercyful Fate or King Diamond. Guitarists Michael Denner and Hank Sherman were both original members in Mercyful Fate and Denner played on King Diamond's first two releases. Bass Player Hal Patino played with King Diamond from 1988-1990 and drummer Bjarne T. Holm played with Mercyful Fate from 1996-1999. Singer Martin Steene formerly played with Iron Fire and is the only band member with no ties to a King Diamond project. All five members are from Denmark. So with such links you may expect it to sound somewhat like those two bands and inevitably they will be compared to those two bands. I would say that there are moments where it has touches of both Mercyful Fate and King Diamond. This album is very much entrenched in a traditional style of metal with solid guitars and occasional bursts of mild speed. I have always felt that Denner and Sherman were one of the best guitar duos of all time and they still play exceptionally well. The rhythm section is solid and help give the music a solid foundation. Martin Sheene has a range and uses it and overall I like his voice, but it may not be for everyone. The biggest plus is how much experience really does mean. Everyone here has played for some time and it shows. However this album feels like the band is running out of steam when they get a little over half way through the album. The first half is very strong and memorable. The second half is slightly dull at times and sometimes it feels a little hollow like they could be doing more. Apparently they are still together so hopefully they will be a little tighter should they do another release. It is a decent effort though for the most part. With the talent involved here it's certainly worth a listen.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Be back on Tuesday

I have a review of Surrender's "Better later than never" up over at Will and Ben's record room. I will be back here tomorrow with another regular post.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Judge the album cover

Today's offering is Y and T's 1983 album Mean Streak.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
So do you like it, don't like it or think it's just alright?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

What's coming up?

We had our taxes done today and it wasn't too painful. I am making it through football withdraw okay now that the season is over. I almost made a post this week about Ray Guy not getting into the Hall of fame again, but I refrained from doing so. Oh and Valentine's Day is coming up. Here are the topics that I hope to have out this week:

-Judge the album cover on Sunday
-Dokken-Tooth and nail review
-Force of evil-Black Empire review
-What caused the fall of hard rock in the early 90's?
-Over/under (not a skit from the movie "Airplane", but rather some questions for you)

Hope you have a good week!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Jimmy Page and Robert Plant-No Quarter, 1994

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Sure, every Zeppelin fan wanted to see some kind of project happen. Unfortunately no John Paul Jones involved here, but we did get Plant and Page together. However it's acoustic and it's live so would this approach work. I remember being both excited and apprehensive about this one. Excited because of who was involved, but apprehensive because of what it might mean if this album was flat. Honestly I was a bit worried about Page more than Plant just because I certainly preferred Plant's solo albums to the Firm, Page's Outrider album and the Coverdale/Page project. Live acoustic albums are difficult to pull off because there is no room for mistakes. Plant and Page not only pulled it off, but they created some different, interesting version of Zeppelin classics plus a couple of new tracks. Of course they have the advantage of having a large entourage of talented musicians backing them up. Yet the two principle players shine all through the album as well. With Plant sounding very vibrant and he hits most of the notes pretty well for being around twenty years after most of these tracks were first recorded. Page comes across strong as well with playing that is both sharp and fluid. There are many elements of middle-eastern music thrown in here and there. This results in giving the old tracks a new flavor. I remember this being an album that fans of different music enjoyed. By 1994 grunge and alternative had taken over, but there were still hard rock fans around. I remember discussing this album with people who were fans of different styles of music but they all enjoyed this album. My favorite tracks include Thank you, No Quarter, City don't cry, The Battle of Evermore, Four Sticks and Kashmir.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Music for a roadtrip

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Okay, let's say that tomorrow you have to go for an eight hour drive. You have to go alone and most of it will be on the interstates. The thing is you can only take four cd's with you. They can be any kind of music that you want, but you can't take any greatest hits. What four do you take?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Current playlist

Lately I have been listening to these:

Jag Wire-Made in Heaven
Surrender-Better later than never (AOR, but I love this disc)
Motorhead-Kiss of death
Fu Manchu-We must obey
Testament-Practice what you preach (It had been a while since I heard this)
Force of evil-Black Empire
Malice-License to kill

***What are you listening to?

Metal Church-A light in the dark, 2006

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This veteran band is now down to just one original member as drummer Kirk Arrington is no longer in the band. So guitarist Kurdt Vanderhoof is the lone original member although he was absent from the band in the late 80's and early 90's. Now I have not heard their last album "The Weight of the world" although I have heard nothing, but positive things said about it. So this is the second album with most of this line-up of the band. The only new member is drummer Jeff Plate who has played with Savatage, TSO and Chris Caffery's solo projects. He is a very good fit for this band. I am not sure what to expect and it actually took me about four plays to really get a handle on my thoughts concerning this album. Maybe it's best to get the bad out of the way first and there are maybe three real problems. The biggest problem is that Ronny Monroe is seriously lacking any kind of vocal depth. I mean he can handle the mid-range parts, but when it gets past that he just has nothing to give. Sometimes he is just plain off as it sounds like they have written in parts that he cannot hit. This also bother me because The next complaint is that there are times when the band don't quite put enough changes in the songs to keep them going. This sometimes caused me to feel a bit bored like 3/4 through a song. The last negative is that the production is inconsistent. It's good enough at times and then muddy and hollow at others. There are too many times where a good chunk of music sounds more subdued than it should just because of the production. Okay, there are some positive points. First up is that it definitely an attempt at being a very solid metal album. It's also very apparent that Kurdt Vanderhoof and former Malice guitarist Jay Reynolds work well together and they have come up with some crunchy riffs at times. The rhythm section is also doing their job. Ultimately it's just an alright album overall. I think the solutions are that the guitarists are going to have to shoulder more of the load or they need a new singer. I don't like to be so blunt, but there were too many moments here where I was reaching for the fast forward button because of the vocals. To be fair I will eventually track down "The Weight of the world" and give it a try.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


There is a picture over at my wife's blog of me giving my kids a laundry basket ride. Unfortunatly you have to put up with the site of my bald head.

Who were they?-Vyper

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
These guys were from the hotspot of 1980's metal. That's right, they were from Kansas City, Missouri. Wait, you say it was LA that was the hotspot of 1980's metal and not Kansas City. Oh, maybe that partially explains why these guys didn't make it. This was a slightly tough one to pin down because there are some conflicting stories on these guys. However, here is what I know of them as far as I could pin down. They formed around 1983 and signed to Greenworld records in 1984. That same year they released an lp called "Prepared to strike". The band line-up was Christy Black (vocals, and despite the name, a male), Jacky Foxx (guitar), Robbie Saint (guitar), Rik Brock (bass) and Michael Scott (drums). So uh, yeah not a real name in the bunch.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Their label did not help them get a tour, but they did get some press and I even remember hearing them played once on the radio. In 1985 they changed their image a little and released a four song ep called "Afraid of the dark".
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
This ep had one track from the first album, one track called Daddy's Girl that was originally banned from the first album and two new tracks. Okay, here is where it gets messy. At some point not too long after this Greenworld records went under taking with it the rights to the band's album. Apparently this tied up the band's future and made it hard for them to get another record deal so labels passed on them. The band had apparently not been getting along either and there was a split as singer Black left and took the band's manager with him. Now he then formed a band and he called it (surprise, surprise) ...Vyper. Meanwhile the remaining four members hired another singer and also continued on as Vyper. Each band only lasted about a year before breaking up. So long before Ratt and LA Guns these guys were confusing people by having different versions of the same band. One big rumor that popped up over the years was that the master tapes of their albums were burned in a fire. However their former tour manager did an interview recently where he said that is not true. Somehow the rights to these albums went to Enigma records after Greenworld went under. Now Enigma went under in the early 90's so I don't know what happened to the rights then. Retrospect records was selling this on cd back in 2005, but it was pulled months after it was out. I don't know if they sold out or if there were other rights issues. Christy Black popped up in a band called Billy the kid in the late 1990's, but never got beyond doing a demo. Drummer Scott later played in Ballistic and recorded with Prizoner.
So that's the history lesson on these guys. My first impression is that they sound like two other bands that are just a little less obscure and those bands are Icon and London. To compare Vyper's sound to more known bands then I would say maybe they sound like early Dokken, but not so melodic crossed with early Queensryche, but not so complicated. Prepared to strike has some really good songs and some that are just alright. I think more than anything that these guys had some real potential. They had a singer with a good strong metal voice, the guitarists could play and they had an overall solid sound. I think the writing needed a little boost though as they were a bit repetitive and cliche at times. Now the two new songs on the ep showed a marked improvement in their writing. Those two songs had quicker pace changes and the band was sounding sharp. So in a way it's a shame they never did more because they seemed to be moving in the right direction. So that's who Vyper were.

***Next month's "Who were they?" will be on the unjustly overlooked Zoetrope from Chicago.

Monday, February 05, 2007


No real post here today, but I have a post up about album delays over at
Will and Ben's Record Room. You may have noticed that I gave in and switched my blog over to the new blogger format. Hope that it doesn't cause any problems for anyone. I will be back on Tuesday with a real topic.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Judge the album cover

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Here is one straight from the 1980's. It's the cover of Dio's 1985 release Sacred Heart. It's a bit of a departure as the previous two albums had featured a mascot called Murray, but he is absent from this one. So do you like it, don't like it or think it's just okay? Feel free to state the reason for your opinion.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

What's coming up?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Here's a picture my wife took on Friday of it snowing outside of our house today. It snowed just a little overall. I had a chance to get out and do a run while it was snowing because that's always a challenge. Then I took Metalgirl out for a walk so she could see the snow. Let's see, the Super Bowl is coming up on Sunday. Being an AFC guy I will root for the Colts.
Here is what I hope to have posted this week.

-Judge the album cover (on Sunday) and it will be the first one that I have done from the 1980's.
-Metal Church-A light in the dark review
-Jimmy Page/Robert Plant-No Quarter review
-Who were they?-Vyper

-One other topic, probably a top ten list or a list of questions for you guys.

So have a great week. Listen to some metal and watch the Super Bowl.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ace Frehley-Frehley's Comet, 1987

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Background- After about two years of rumors and runarounds former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley was finally set to release his first post-KISS solo album. Frehley's Comet came out on Megaforce and Atlantic records. It certainly got a big push as this cover was on ads in all the metal magazines.

1.Rock Soldiers-Opener begins with a simple drum beat followed by a basic guitar riff. This one largely relies on the vocals. Ace proudly proclaims his new found (and unfortunately short lived) sobriety. Very catchy song though and a nice way to start things off.
2. Breakout-I think that's the Flintstone's sound effect at the beginning. Well, it comes on with a nice big thick sound. Kind of reminds me a little of KISS around Lovegun. I love where they are just peeling off guitar licks and drum rolls.
3.Into the night-This is medium paced song that works out very nicely. Just solid and straight up rock. Another memorable song.
4. Something Moved-Plenty of squealing guitars all over the place here. It's a good change of pace at this point and very energetic.
5. We Got Your Rock-It's a big, simple anthem and despite some corny as hell lyrics it's pretty good.
6. Love Me Right-Very tight knit track that just flows extremely well.
7. Calling To You-Just a strong rock track with some fantastic melodies.
8. Dolls-Okay, yes, I am probably the only person that likes this song. Silly? Perhaps, but that's part of the charm of this album is that it never pretends to take itself too seriously. Somehow this remind me of something that Alice Cooper might have done in the mid-1970's.
9. Stranger In A Strange Land-This is medium paced, but for me tends to be not very memorable. Not bad, but just kind of bland. It's never really clicked for me.
10. Fractured Too-We get an instrumental that's a sequel of sorts. I like it and I think it's a little different than Ace's typical style. Good way to close the album.

Verdict/ Final Word-A very simple album in some ways that doesn't break a lot of ground. However, it's memorable, fun, well executed and in my book it only has one average song while the rest are good to great. I think Ace came back with a truly solid release that still clicks on all cylinders even now. Will it make the top ten for the year? I am not sure, but it certainly deserves some consideration. Probably one of the best hard rock albums of 1987 for sure.

***Next month's twenty year old album review will be Dio's Dream Evil.

Thursday, February 01, 2007


Simple game here, I list three different bands and for each one you list what you think is the most overrated song by that band and then the most underrated song by that same band. Here are the bands.


Black Sabbath


Montrose, 1973

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Guitarist Ronnie Montrose has done a number of albums over the years, but this is the one that everyone should really know him for. Montrose had already played with Van Morrison and Edgar Winter before forming his own band. He brought in Bill Church (Bass), Denny Carmassi (Drums) and a young singer named Sammy Hagar to fill out the line-up. The band just takes off and plows straight forward. They don't exactly sound like anyone, but in some ways I think of them in the same ways that I think of Thin Lizzy. In that they are no frills, solid hard rock and they are a bit like the missing links between early 70's stuff like Sabbath, Zeppelin and Purple and the late 70's stuff like Van Halen. This is just solid, very pure hard rock and holds up very well even today. Tracks like "Rock the nation", "Space Station #5" and "Bad Motor Scooter" are all prime examples of just how good these guys were at this point. This album is a must listen for any hard rock/metal fan. It must also be noted then that this is maybe one of the best debuts of the 70's. Unlike many other debuts, these guys were tight from the get go.This is oftentimes looked at as an important hard rock album as well as an important album for guitarists. I agree with that take because Ronnie Montrose has a style that is somewhat unique at the time as his playing very sharp and distinct. Ted Templeman of Van Halen fame does the production and it's a marvelous job too. Sammy Hagar would return to do another Montrose album called "Paper Money" in 1974 before leaving the band. Montrose the band would do a few more album in the mid 70's before Montrose the guitarist went on to do various other projects. However none of his albums has garnered the reputation of this one and rightfully so. I first heard this album back around 1986. It seemed like when Sammy Hagar joined Van Halen that his back catalog got more of a push. Anyways, it's just as exciting to me now as it was then and I still listen to it fairly often. It's also probably my favorite album that Sammy Hagar has sang on.