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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Album Review: Metallica - Kill 'Em All (1983)

I should've written a review for this album a long, long time ago.  Along with the "black" album, this album not only introduced me to Metallica, but it really got me into heavy metal music in a big way.  All the ingredients were there - that guitar tone, that hallmark thrash tempo, the denim and leather.  I was a changed person after I'd finished playing this album - "Whiplash" and "Metal Militia" remain two of my favorite Metallica songs.  This and Megadeth's debut album Killing Is My Business...And Business Is Good! rank high among my favorite debut heavy metal albums.  "The Four Horsemen" shares its origins with the song "The Mechanix", which would end up on the previously mentioned Megadeth record, although from my perspective at least it's better than the Megadeth variant.  "Hit the Lights", "Phantom Lord", "Jump in the Fire" - add those three to the aforementioned tracks (as well as a few others of course) and you've got thrash metal gold.  A-


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Album Review: Toto - Toto IV (1982)

One of the better known session muso super groups out there, and named after a fictional canine character of L. Frank Baum authorship, you might know Toto for their best known hit, "Africa."  Of course it wasn't their only hit - "Hold The Line", "Georgy Porgy" and "Rosanna", among a number of others, also lay claim to be the more successful end products of the collaborative efforts of Paich, Pocaro & Co.  Toto IV is home to three of these hits - "Africa", "Rosanna" and "I Won't Hold You Back."  Good songs all of them, but the rest of the album isn't quite filler material either.  "It's A Feeling", "Make Believe" and "Waiting For Your Love" aren't bad, but still, none of them can hold a candle to "Africa."  You won't be missing anything essential by not listening to this record, but nonetheless I recommend you check it out anyway if you liked Toto's aforementioned hits.  Definitely give it a spin.  A-


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Album Review: The Cars - Heartbeat City (1984)

I picked this album out expecting an album of great songs and well, I was sort of right.  All the great songs here could be found on any of their greatest hits compilations - other than that, there were only two or three "good" songs - "Stranger Eyes", "Heartbeat City" and "I Refuse."  "It's Not The Night" is okay.  I've always liked The Cars' music - I have had for a long time now one of their greatest hits compilations in my CD collection, and it is invaluable.  I would be mad to NOT own a copy - they put out some brilliant songs, including "Drive", "Magic", "Why Can't I Have You" and "You Might Think", all of which can be found here.  Not too bad an album, but I was expecting a little bit better.  B+


Monday, October 23, 2017

Album Review: David Bowie - The Next Day (2013)

The last album I reviewed from David Bowie was Reality from 2003.  I thought it was a great album - at a time where many of his contemporaries would have well and truly slipped in terms of the quality of their musical output, Bowie was still at the top of his game.  The same applies to the album I'm reviewing here, The Next Day, which was released ten years after Reality.  Bowie made no bones about his artistic proclivities - and The Next Day is no exception to this.  It is a Bowie album through and through.  I must say though, that I'm not as fond of this album as I am of Reality, but it certainly sounds better than what I had initially expected, and I am nonetheless glad I took the time to review it.  I've found two memorable songs on this album - "Where Are We Now?" and "Valentine's Day", and I might find myself playing "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" from time to time.  It's definitely worth checking out regardless of whether you are a Bowie fan or not.  Boy, I wish this man was still here with us.  A genius through and through.  And not a bad album, either.  B+


Monday, October 2, 2017

Album Review: Prince and the Revolution - Purple Rain (1984)

I finally got around to reviewing this album - it's been on my Spotify saved list for some time now. And despite its status as a classic album and featuring some of Prince's greatest hits, the album has a few problems for me.  Some of the songs clash with my more conservative proclivities, in particular, "Darling Nikki" - I'm not quite sure what to make of it, strange yes, awful, not really.  Others, such as "Take Me With U" isn't bad, but it doesn't make me jump for joy either - that's the titular "Purple Rain's" job, and it does a sterling job too, because it is one of the best songs I have ever heard,  period.  "I Would Die 4 U" is another great Prince track, and you simply cannot say no to "When Doves Cry" - although I do prefer the shorter version.  The title track, "Let's Go Crazy" ain't too bad either.  I can see "The Beautiful One" growing on me, and "Computer Blue" is worth listening to, although like "Take Me With U" it's not too exciting either.  But despite my disappointment at this album not being as good as I would like to have hoped, there is obviously some consolation to be taken away from listening to it.  And of course, I'm very sad that the legendary Prince is no longer with us.  B+


Monday, September 25, 2017

Album Review: Johnny Cash - The Mystery of Life (1991)

Johnny Cash was a legend, no matter which particular era you subscribe to.  Younger people will likely be more familiar with the Rick Rubin-era recordings, thanks to his epic cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt."  But I've always maintained that in order to understand, and indeed appreciate Johnny Cash, you must have heard him at each chronological point in his career.  The Mystery Of Life is one of his more unappreciated and underrated albums, at least in my opinion anyway - Cash always had a way at adapting to new styles and new times, even during his American Recordings tenure, when it was clear that his voice wasn't what it used to be.  His covers and re-recordings were almost always spot on too - as exemplified here by the favorite "Hey Porter" and the Dylan-penned "Wanted Man."  The best versions too, in my opinion.  "Beans For Breakfast" "The Hobo Song" "The Greatest Cowboy of Them All" are awesome as well, as is the title track "The Mystery of Life."  I'm so glad this album is on Spotify.  Check it out, I say.  A-


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Album Review: The Highwaymen - Highwayman 2 (1990)

The Highwaymen.  Another fine supergroup that you ought to be listening to.  Some of outlaw country's greats are all here - Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. And together they made some great songs too, such as their best known "Highwaymen."  I'm listening to (and reviewing, of course) their second album, Highwaymen 2 from 1990.  Not a bad album at all - a bit better than their more critically receptive debut album as far as I'm concerned.  I was hoping it would be perhaps a wee bit better, but nonetheless I'm not going to complain.  I've always loved Johnny Cash, and he shines on this album, as do Willie and Waylon, both of whom wrote some great songs as well.  I must admit I'm not so familiar with Kris Kristofferson, however, aside from Cash's exemplary version of "Sunday Morning Coming Down", which quickly became a staple of every reputable Johnny Cash hits album.  Two songs stand out for me here - "Silver Stallion" and "American Remains."  The rest is OK, and are certainly worth exploring.  But they have nothing on the aforementioned two.  Not too shabby at all.  B+