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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Album Review: Judas Priest - Painkiller (1990)

Grew to like British Steel.  Loved Screaming for Vengeance from the beginning.  And I eventually learned to appreciate (a lot) Ram it Down too - even its fatal mistake, a cover version of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."  Painkiller from 1990 has some kick ass tracks on it as well - it's fast, furious, metallic, angry, and vengeful.  Which is everything a good speed metal record ought to be.  And Rob Halford's voice never fails to mesmerize - and mesmerize it damn well should, as it is easily one of the best in the heavy metal business.  Along with Screaming with Vengeance, Painkiller is a stereotype of the heavy metal sound, something you'd expect non metal fans to think of when they think of heavy metal music (and usually, quite unfortunately, despise).  Of course, it's a good stereotype.  There's some big hits on this album - if you've owned a best of compilation album (such as The Essential Judas Priest), you'll instantly know "Painkiller", "Hell Patrol", "Night Crawler" and "A Touch of Evil."  And they're the best songs on this album of course.  "Leather Rebel" and "Metal Meltdown" will get some love too on the next few play throughs - the rest will get the play button treatment every now and then as well.  All up, a sterling effort by one of metal's giants.  Love it.  A-


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Album Review: J.J. Cale - Naturally (1972)

Listening to this album brings me to Bob Dylan by way of two separate chronological references - The opening track, the brilliant "Call Me The Breeze" hails back in some ways (albeit more polished) to several Bringing It All Back Home numbers - perhaps in particular, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Outlaw Blues" (with a dash of Clapton's "Lay Down Sally" in there for good measure, of course).  Likewise, the rest of the album reminds me of Dylan's more contemporary offerings, especially with regards to his voice.  And how is the album?  Well, it's not a bad album, but for the most part it isn't my cup of tea either.  "Call Me The Breeze" might have me dancing like an epileptic sparrow with one leg and a busted wing that's perching on an electric fence, and "After Midnight" is a classic that belongs on any respectable classic rock play list.  "Clyde" appeals to my need for tempo, but only enough to be played on a few occasions.  The rest of the album, whilst not rubbish in any sense, just doesn't have the momentum to keep me focused.  "Crazy Mama" is certainly worth listening to, although I probably won't be listening to it that often.  All in all, it's not a bad album, but aside for the tracks mentioned earlier, it's unlikely to get much love from me in the long run.  B


Thursday, July 20, 2017

Album Review: Chris Rea - On The Beach (1986)

I bought the album that I'm presently reviewing for two reasons; 1) it was cheap ($7.99 to be exact), and 2) it was the only Chris Rea studio album they had on sale.  But for the eight bucks I paid for this album it is fair to say I got something worth ten times that.  It was very much what I was hoping the album might be, and in the process of listening to the album I couldn't help but get excited by my semi-unexpected discovery.  I'd heard all of his greatest hits before - "Let's Dance", "Josephine", "Ace of Hearts" and of course, "On the Beach."  Both "On the Beach" and "Let's Dance" are of historic relevance to me - I remember listening to them, and enjoying them, of course, back in the late 1980s when I was just a wee lad.  I must say however, I do think that the New Light Through Old Windows version of "On the Beach" is vastly superior to the original studio one as found on here.  But I'm not interested in this one anyway - there are some really superb tracks to listen to here.  "Giverny", "It's All Gone", "Freeway" and "Bless Them All" are all my favorites.  I'm very, very glad I picked this album up when I did.  A

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Album Review: Dire Straits - Making Movies (1980)

I've always joked that, instead of playing the same old tired, poorly selected local music over the dole department phone system, they should play Dire Straits instead.  Specifically, of course, "Money for Nothing."  And I would still dearly love to see someone actually fulfill my wish.  Even more, I would love to see people's ensuing reactions.  But there's a fat chance of that happening, unfortunately.  But as consolation for my disappointment that such a fantasy is somewhat unlikely to be realized, I nonetheless revel in my surprise and pleasure in listening to Making Movies from 1980.  I liked Brothers in Arms a lot less than I perhaps should, given some of their biggest hits are on that album, and then some.  But in listening to this album I was expecting something a bit more lethargic and less polished than the aforementioned magnum opus.  Of course I knew "Tunnel of Love", "Romeo and Juliet", "Solid Rock" and "Skateaway."  Good songs, all of them.  But I unexpectedly found myself in favor of "Expresso Love", refreshing and yet simultaneously consistent with the previous tracks, the aforementioned trio.  It took round two for me to click with "Hand in hand", but I wouldn't be fooled by the tepid opening to "Les Boys."  It reminds me, and perhaps it should serve as a reminder to everyone else, to not judge a song by the first few moments.  And "Solid Rock" is a reminder to both myself and others that Mark Knopfler, in spite of his critics, knows a good rock 'n roll ditty better than many of his peers.  A-


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Album Review: Motley Crue - Girls, Girls, Girls (1987)

Most of my fondest memories of listening to Motley Crue involve me being maggoted on cola and bourbon with a bit of kava on the side.  That was around 12 years ago.  And they were very fond memories indeed - well, what from what I actually remember anyway.  Motley Crue was the soundtrack to a time when I (for the most part) could give a fat rat's freckle about life in general.  Of course, I was tuned in to their Greatest Hits compilation.  But here I'm writing about their 1987 album Girls, Girls, Girls.  Not too bad an album either.  I've been familiar with the title track for a long, long time now, although I couldn't put a finger on the exact number of years I've known about it.  Nonetheless I've come to see it as being representative of the quintessential Motley Crue sound that I loved when I was fitshaced, and of course, also loved when I was sober.  The opening track, "Wild Side" is the best song here, followed by the power ballad "You're All I Need" and the real reason I invested in the album in the first place, "Dancing On Glass."  "All In The Name Of..." is also pretty damn good as well.  Not too bad an album at all, I must say.  B+


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Album Review: Rod Stewart - Vagabond Heart (1991)

Rod's done it again!  Yet another great record from Rod the Mod, full of hits, and then some.  Released at a time when many artists of his generation would've have begun to falter, this album is more than just a comeback album, it is one of the best comeback albums out there.  Well, at least that's what I think anyway.  And as soon as I finished the album, I instantly declared to myself that this album was one of the best I've heard from that particular year, alongside Metallica by Metallica and Nevermind by Nirvana.  You'll recognize the brilliant "Rhythm of my Heart", "Broken Arrow", "It Takes Two", "The Motown Song", and "Have I Told You Lately", but my first love here is "Go Out Dancing" - it feels as if I've been looking for that melody for years - and my second is "Rebel Heart", which in itself is a good solid hard rock number, which some of you will know, is right up my alley.  "When a Man's in Love" is also worth a spin now and then too.  Yep, this album is one of the best 90s albums out there, no matter what others might tell you.  People will hark back to the Every Picture Tells a Story and Never a Dull Moment era and tell you that was when he was at his peak, and they may be right.  But you certainly shouldn't discount his later works, as I found out with Tonight I'm Yours, and of course, this album.  Here's my advice - go out and get it!  A


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Album Review: Iron Maiden - The Number of the Beast (1982)

Master of Puppets by Metallica - love it.  Screaming for Vengeance by Judas Priest - love it.  Sabbath Bloody Sabbath by Black Sabbath - love it.  Spreading the Disease by Anthrax - love it.  Ace of Spades by Motorhead - love it.  The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden - love it as well.  These are just some of my favorite heavy metal albums.  And they're all classics.  I haven't listened to Iron Maiden in a long time now, and I recently made the decision to give The Number of the Beast another spin, followed of course, by an overdue review.  I completely forgot just how brilliant this album really is.  No fillers.  No bullshit.  The very best of Iron Maiden is at play here.  This album alone will reinvigorate one's lust for life.  It. Is.  Sooooo goood!  In fact, there is only one bad thing about this album - the pseudo-Vincent Price intro to the title track is not loud enough.  That is it.  And it is easily overlooked anyway.  "Children of the Damned" "Hallowed be thy Name" "Run to the Hills" and the title track are the best of the best if you really need to know.  "Invaders" is pretty awesome too.  But then again, so is the remaining three tracks I haven't mentioned.  If you haven't heard this album, I would highly recommend that you do so, irrespective of whether you usually listen to heavy metal or not.  Bloody magic is all I can say.  A+