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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+

Album Review: AC/DC - Black Ice (2008)

It's a real shame what has happened as of late with AC/DC.  Drummer Phil Rudd was ejected from the band for running afoul of the law, Malcolm Young was forced to resign due to dementia, Cliff Williams has made the decision to retire and Brian Johnson has left due to hearing loss.  And of course, Axl Rose has subsequently taken over vocal duties.  For me, the band is as good as dead.  I love Guns N Roses, and of course Axl Rose, don't get me wrong, but the best vocalist for AC/DC is by far Brian Johnson, no questions asked.  It is either him or nobody.  If Phil and Brian get back on board at some point, my interest in the band will most likely be rekindled.  But only time will tell I guess.  But anyway, back to the review.  I have just finished listening to 2008's Black Ice album.  And it is better than what I could have hoped for.  Yes AC/DC still sound the same after all these years - but that's a good thing, in my opinion.  Reinventing themselves simply wouldn't work.  Despite widespread criticism of their perceived musical sameness, I couldn't see them shifting musically toward a Cliff Richard inspired style of softness, nor could I imagine them wanting to sound more like Metallica.  They sound good just the way they are, and Brian's scream sounds just as amusing and enchanting as I thought it did when I was eight years old.  "Rock N Roll Train" is probably the best known song of the album, and of course, it sounds great, although I am also somewhat partial to the Live At River Plate version as well.  "Big Jack" is probably my favorite song here, and "Anything Goes" is probably the least AC/DC sounding song since "Let Me Put My Love Into You."  But I still love it anyway.  A great effort, lads.  A-

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Album Review: Fleetwood Mac - Fleetwood Mac (1975)

Rumours is without a doubt Fleetwood Mac's greatest album.  But it certainly wasn't the first great album from them.  Their self-titled album from 1975 is yet more proof that over-reliance on 'greatest hits' and 'best of' compilations is always going to be a bad thing.  For a while now I've been pointing out that there is more to a studio album than its greatest hits, i.e. the songs everybody knows, courtesy of the radio stations.  I'm glad I invested in a copy of this album for this very reason.  The album is full of radio playlist staples, but there's the overlooked tracks that are dire need of some attention as well.  "Blue Letter" is a song I've been waiting for for so long now.  And "Sugar Daddy" isn't too bad a ditty either.  "Warm Ways" and "Crystal" are a little too sluggish for my personal preference, and that latter has too much of a Bread vibe too it.  But there's plenty of hits of course - good hits, I should add - to make this album essential buying.  Or streaming, whatever your preference is.  "Rhiannon", "Say You Love Me" and "Over My Head", amongst others, all remind me that the tenner I invested in this record was money well spent.  Stick this album on your next playlist.  A-

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Album Review: Tom Petty - Full Moon Fever (1989)

I love it when I get an album that is so easy to listen to.  Something that holds my attention and doesn't dick around too much, something that gets to the point.  And Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty does an excellent job in this regard.  There is only one song on this album that I would skip, and that is "Alright for Now."  Not my cup of tea, but otherwise I would say that the album represents the very best of Tom Petty.  I can't help but feel that this album is a sort of spiritual successor to Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1.  Fair enough I suppose, given that Jeff Lynne, George Harrison and even Roy Orbison (not forgetting Jim Keltner, aka Buster Sidebury) all aided in this album's production in varying capacities.  Some of his biggest hits are here too, "Free Fallin'", "I Won't Back Down" and "Running Down a Dream" will no doubt jog the memories of those familiar with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.  And good songs they are, of course.  But "Yer So Bad", "Love is a Long Road" and "Zombie Zoo" are all pretty good.  Damn good, as a matter of fact.  Don't settle for the Spotify version, go out and buy a physical copy instead.  You won't regret it.  A