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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Album Review: Def Leppard - Pyromania (1983)

I loved Hysteria by Def Leppard.  Absolutely loved it.  An album full of A grade singles, a few more great numbers and not a filler in sight. I own a copy on CD, and it's the precious.  A few years back, the original album was pulled from Spotify and was subsequently replaced with re-recordings, which were admittedly "OK", but I was insistent on the original.  Now that the original is back up, I have since updated the review with the Spotify player link embedded into it (just for your information).  Anyway, onto the album I'm reviewing right now, which is Pyromania, their previous effort, and not too bad an effort I must say, although I still consider it to be notably inferior to Hysteria.  My favorite on the album, "Photograph" could easily be mistaken for a song from Hysteria. It's a great song, the greatest on the album. Pyromania struggles to hold my attention the way Hysteria does, although that certainly doesn't mean that it's a bad album. Quite the contrary, it is very good indeed.  "Stagefright", "Die Hard the Hunter" and "Comin' Under Fire" are the other tracks to look out for if you're asking for any recommendations from yours truly.  Otherwise, it's certainly worth picking up if you're just getting into Def Leppard. A nice album, and a definite pickup for hard rock collectors.  B+


Saturday, June 15, 2019

Album Review: Dire Straits - Love Over Gold (1982)

I always loved the song "Industrial Disease" by Dire Straits - borderline cheesy, with a melodic sound that sounded almost like a hybrid cross between the Traveling Wilburys and Racey. Simple, no frills pop rock, it was.  And for many years, it was my only exposure to the album that I am reviewing here, Love Over Gold.  The funny thing is, it is in fact the Achilles heel of the entire record.  I really should have listened to this album decades ago, when I was first getting into Dire Straits.  Hiding under a rock is one of the worse things you can do - ignorance isn't bliss, and this album is bloody brilliant.  It's bedtime as I write this, but bugger it, staying up was well worth it.  There are only a handful of songs on the album - five, in fact, but this is simply due to the length of the songs.  "Telegraph Road" is over fourteen minutes of brilliance long, and "It Never Rains" is bang on eight. "Industrial Disease" is the shortest at a more attention-span friendly 5:48.  I'm absolutely loving "Private Investigations" and "Love Over Gold" as well. In wrapping up this shortish review, let me just say that I for one am so glad I decided to give this a listen when I did.  And now it's your turn. Give it a whirl, I hope you won't be disappointed.  Because I sure as hell wasn't.  A


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Album Review: Lady Gaga - Born This Way (2011)

Yes, I'm writing a review for a contemporary album from a contemporary artist.  And a very favorable one at that.  Many of you who have read my reviews will probably be looking out the window expecting to see the odd airborne pig or two.  And that would be understandable - I'm not a huge fan of contemporary music - for the most part, it's been shit since at least 1998.  There have been some exemptions to this - The Darkness, The White Stripes, Franz Ferdinand and Gnarls Barkley, to name a few artists who emerged since then and whom I thought were just the bee's knees.  I must say though, I am especially fond of Lady Gaga's output - in an era of music that seemingly caters primarily to tone deaf teenagers, Lady Gaga comes across as an artist who puts everything into her work and in the process has actually made what in the traditional sense could be called 'music.'  Her beginnings weren't rooted in made-for-TV pop idol auditions - that rubbish is only good for watching big-headed tryhards make fools of themselves on national television - Gaga feels like an actual artist.  Right now, I'm reviewing Born This Way, which was released in 2011, and damn, is it a good album.  It really is a quality record - not overdone, not pretentious, not stuffed with fillers - all negative attributes that even my beloved eighties selections could not be completely absolved of.  I love the synth work on this album - and I love my synthesizers - again, being an eighties kid, my ears could start bleeding with the likes of Van Halen's "I'll Wait", but they feel so tempered and so much more appropriate here. And the singles here - all good, and if you add "Heavy Metal Lover", "Electric Chapel", and "Government Hooker", you really can't go wrong.  This is an excellent album by any standard.  You absolutely must listen to it, even if you're a stickler for the classics, like me.  A


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Album Review: Guns N' Roses - Appetite for Destruction (1987)

It's high time I did a GNR album review.  And here it is, going back to the very beginning, and with what is considered by most people to be their best album ever - Appetite for Destruction.  As I write this, it has been a while since I've listened to GNR, and it's about damn time I started listening to them again.  It's funny, I was completely indifferent to Guns N' Roses music as a kid, but then again, I was indifferent to all forms of hard rock and heavy metal at that time.  But like most heavy metal and hard rock music, things have changed drastically.  Heavy metal is the best thing to happen to music as far as I'm concerned, and Guns N' Roses easily has one of the best vocalists in the music business in Axl Rose.  When I was first getting into GNR I stuck to the Greatest Hits album - all their best work is on there, obviously - but then I went out and bought Use Your Illusion I.  Having enjoyed the album a lot, I then decided to invest in their lauded debut record, Appetite for Destruction. Not as good as what I was expecting, particularly from what is regarded as being one of the best records ever made, but it certainly wasn't shite, either.  Nonetheless, the songwriting is solid, Axl's voice is as brilliant as it will ever be and there's plenty of choice cuts to indulge yourself with.  "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City" "Nightrain", "Sweet Child O' Mine" - the singles you all know and love, are all ace, and you can't go wrong with "Mr. Brownstone", "It's So Easy" and "My Michelle", either.  My verdict - a very good album, and one you should own if you are nuts for GNR.  A-


Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Album Review: Judas Priest - Defenders of the Faith (1984)

Judas Priest feel like an underappreciated band at times, and yet their presence and influence is well known.  The mainstream media never paid a huge amount of attention to the band - perhaps even less than most other metal bands - but their status as a staple of the heavy metal genre is nonetheless solid. The most publicity they received at the height of their career was perhaps their most unfortunate, as they, along with numerous other bands and artists, were caught up in the PMRC investigation of the mid-eighties, with one of the songs on the album being reviewed here,"Eat Me Alive" from Defenders of the Faith, being accused of supposedly promoting oral sex.  Of course, the band survived the scrutiny and if anything probably gained free promotion from it.  And despite the moral panic, the band are doing fine, and so are their fans. "Eat Me Alive" is a great song, no matter what Tipper Gore thinks of it, and so is "Rock Hard Ride Free", "Jawbreaker" and "Freewheel Burning."  If I were you, I'd probably get ready to have your finger (or mouse pointer) on the skip forward button for the likes of "Love Bites", "Heavy Duty" and "Defenders of the Faith." Not the album's finest moments, but hey, no album is perfect, right?  All up, a very respectable album.  Every budding Judas Priest fanatic should definitely own this album.  Everyone else?  Check it out at your own leisure.  B+


Saturday, June 1, 2019

Album Review: Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons - Who Loves You (1975)

Think of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and people will tell you that he's the bloke who sang "December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)."  And they're right.  Along with his band The Four Seasons, of course.  There is also "Who Loves You" and the lesser known "Silver Star" that all together make up the trio of seventies hits that catapulted the band into superstardom.  Of course, there were the hits before these three - "Walk Like a Man", "Sherry" and "Big Girls Don't Cry" might sound familiar to many people, but they didn't leave their mark on the music world in quite the same way "December, 1963" did.  Nightclubs and radio stations to this day still crank it up on a fairly regular basis. That, and the less impressive, if not sacrilegious remix.   Incidentally, the three big seventies hits I mentioned earlier all come from the same album, Who Loves You, which of course shares its name with their second biggest hit. So, what do I think of the album?  Surprisingly, not bad.  Not bad, at all.  "Silver Star" was something I didn't expect to hear from the band, with the emphatic use of the acoustic guitar, and "Emily's (Salle De Dance)" was a refreshing way to end the album as well.  "Slip Away" was a bit on the boring side, to be quite honest - tedious, drawn out and liable to leave you inattentive, which was in stark contrast to the rest of the record, which is actually not bad at all.  I was admittedly expecting more numbers like "Slip Away", but all up the album proved to be surprisingly good.  B+


Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Album Review: Anthrax - State of Euphoria (1988)

For metal thrashing goodness there are four bands that you can really count on - Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Slayer.  Hell, they're the staple of the genre.  I've thrashed Metallica to death, Megadeth every now and then, I've somehow gone off Slayer, and Anthrax I play on the odd occasion nowadays.  I really should be cranking them up more often, as they've got some great material - Spreading the Disease is my personal favorite, and you can't go wrong with Among the Living, either.  It turns out that State of Euphoria is pretty damn good too.  Not quite as good as the other aforementioned two albums, but it still commands a good deal of respect.  Well, at least it commands my respect anyway.  The very first Anthrax album I bought was The Collection, and there are a number of songs from that compilation here - "Out of Sight, Out of Mind", "Make me Laugh", "Anti-Social" and "Misery Loves Company" - almost half the album, which always says something about the album when a good portion of the track list makes it to the compilation records.  "Be All, End All", "Who Cares Wins" are pretty damn good as well, and the record concludes on a high note with "Finale." A highly respectable album, indeed.  Now, go out and get it!  A-


Saturday, May 25, 2019

Album Review: Bryan Ferry - Boys & Girls (1985)

Not all great songs come from great albums - the band Journey is perhaps one of the better examples of this.  Their best album is by far their Greatest Hits album from 1988, simply because it contains ALL of their best songs, and I do mean ALL. Their studio albums were nothing to rave about, they had the singles and that's all they had to go on.  If it weren't for the (great) singles the albums would be nothing.  Some great, great songs come from very average albums, and "Slave to Love" by Bryan Ferry is a good example of this.  It is one of those songs I would consider to be "perfect", a lavishly constructed love ballad completely devoid of the sloppy, pretentious proclivities endemic to many a love song.  It is art, through and through. But the album it comes from, Boys & Girls, is 45 percent great singles (OK, one of the songs is admittedly a prelude) and 55 percent filler material.  Not rubbish, but not great either.  I may some day come to appreciate "Stone Woman", but if I do listen to this album, it is of course, for the likes of "Slave to Love" and "Windswept."  It's certainly not one of my favorite Ferry albums, even if it does contain some of my favorite Ferry solo recordings. I was a bit disappointed after first listening to this album many years ago, and I'm still at best lukewarm about it.  Stay for "Slave to Love", "Don't Stop the Dance", "Windswept" and its prelude, "Wasteland."  That being said, don't let this album stop you from checking out his other material, both from his solo career and with Roxy Music, because there is many a great song, and indeed many a great album, for your listening pleasure.  B


Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Album Review: Icehouse - Primitive Man (1982)

Having previously reviewed Icehouse's debut album, Icehouse (or Flowers, depending on how you look at it) I found it to be an excellent album, with many a surprise and some great hits to boot.  It was a confusing album regarding the title - the band was initially called Flowers, with the album called Icehouse.  Iva Davies subsequently renamed the band Icehouse, so there's a bit of confusion here I suppose as to whether to call the album Flowers or Icehouse.  I myself tend to stick to the first one.  It's being a while since I wrote that review, and I feel the time is right to review another.  Primitive Man from 1982 is itself surprisingly good, and having "Great Southern Land" on it always make the visit worthwhile even if it turns out to be the only good song on the album.  Of course, it's not.  I've always liked "Uniform", "Hey Little Girl" and the instrumental, "Glam", but the very Bowiesque "Mysterious Thing" and the respectable "Break These Chains" certainly need a good listening to as well.  "Street Cafe" is a bit on the dull side and it won't hurt to give it a miss. Otherwise, this is a very respectable album, with of course, a great opening track in "Great Southern Land."  Very good indeed.  A-


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Album Review: Bon Jovi - Slippery When Wet (1986)

Some of my earliest memories of hard rock music involve the band Bon Jovi.  Back in the eighties, I never liked hard rock music - in fact, I loathed it, and by extension, I didn't think much of Bon Jovi's songs either. But like all rock music, it was a classic case of 'my, how the tables have turned.'  I never liked rock music on the whole until about 1998, when my favorite radio station, which played pop music from the eighties until the then present nineties, decided to switch to a purely contemporary playlist.  I found two problems with that - firstly, the late nineties was for me, a time when music started to suck big time, and secondly, I still wanted to hear my eighties songs, the stuff that I grew up with all those years ago. But that change in format turned out to be a mixed blessing as it forced me to embrace a style of music that I was hesitant to embrace for many years, and it was a change I will never regret, one that in turn changed me forever. I decided to switch to a classic rock station, and from there my repertoire of music that I liked increased exponentially.  I soon became a big fan of classic rock, and from there my taste quickly expanded to include harder styles of rock music (there were some exceptions to this rule - I loved AC/DC since The Razors Edge, probably because my silly sense of humor was enthralled by Brian Johnson's voice). Soon, what I used to hate, I quickly came to love. Bon Jovi is a good example of this dichotomy between the tastes of the old-but-young me and me from 1998 onward, and the album I am reviewing here, Slippery When Wet, contains two of their biggest hits, "You Give Love a Bad Name" and "Livin' On a Prayer."  In fact, these two songs were the reason I bought the album in the first place.  I've decided to go over the album in full this time, and I have to say it isn't surprisingly bad.  Not shit hot, mind you.  There are some respectable songs to be found here, aside from the aforementioned classics and the likes of "Wanted Dead or Alive", which is another well-known Bon Jovi staple.  Listening to "Let it Rock", "Raise Your Hands", "Without Love" and "I'd Die For You", and I'm beginning to understand why this album is considered by many to be their best. Do you, or perhaps will you, consider it to be their best?  There's only one way to find out.  A good album to say the least.  A-


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Album Review: Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963)

The Bob Dylan of today is a very different thing to the Bob Dylan who started out as a young aspiring folkie in the early sixties.  This is of course, when he was still using an acoustic guitar exclusively - no electric guitar or any other of this electrified, amplified witchcraft, as many folk puritans will tell you to this very day.  And with the very early Bob Dylan albums, it's quickly evident to hear that he's still in that very formative phase - his proficiency with the guitar hasn't quite fully developed - but his songwriting knack was just as mature and formed as it is today. The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is easily my favorite of the early Dylan albums, the best of the pre-electric era records.  Some of his best known songs are found here - songs that helped to put on the map, such as "Blowin' in the Wind" "Girl From the North Country" and "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" are songs that even people who have a basic familiarity with Bob Dylan should know about, and if they don't know about them then they don't know jack.  I particularly love the wide variation in tempo between tracks here - "Blowin' In The Wind" is taking its time, whereas "Bob Dylan's Blues" and "I Shall be Free" like to move through time with a rushed, yet tempered sense of pace.  If I were to recommend a Bob Dylan to listen to, I would first, of course, have to specify a particular decade, or era.  But if I were asked to recommend something from the early Dylan catalog, I would most certainly recommend this gem. Again, this album is the best of the early Dylan. But on the whole, it is also one of his all-time best.  A great album all around.  A


Saturday, May 11, 2019

Album Review: Rodney Rude - LIVE - Rats Arse Tour (1995)

Think of comedians with a predilection for profanity and Billy Connolly is probably the most likely candidate to come to mind.  His prowess with the F word has enthralled and amused audiences around the world for decades, whilst simultaneously installing himself as some sort of a paragon among comedians for his combination of storytelling and politically correct humor in which no subject matter is spared from ridicule and criticism.  And whilst he may very well be one of the most beloved comics in history, there is invariably an element of society, a puritanical fringe who is diametrically opposed to profane humor in any way, shape or form, dedicated to making their objections to his choice of comedy vocation well known.  And of course, it gets them nowhere.  Closer to home, I've long found myself indulging in the anti-PC, foul-mattered dirty humor of Australian comedian and musician Kevin Bloody Wilson, who himself has carved out a rather sizable niche audience dedicated to his profanity-laced, country-themed ditties, bringing into his fold of fans and admirers the likes of famous faces such as Elton John and Prince Charles.  And from Kevin Bloody Wilson I eventually found myself becoming a fan of another Australian 'blue' comedian, Rodney Rude. Often mistaken for one another, their approach to peddling schoolyard smut to the masses differs markedly.  Kevin Bloody Wilson stuck to singing dirty ballads, whereas Rodney Rude stuck to a unique brand of stand-up comedy in which taboo jokes were fired out one by one with impeccable comedy timing and with no regards for moral constraints.  Like Kevin Bloody Wilson, Rodney Rude was all about foul language, dirty jokes, and politically incorrect subject matter.  The second album that I bought of his, LIVE - Rats Arse Tour, is one of the finest recordings he has to offer.  Taking the piss out of everyone from Michael Jackson to Ray Charles to Rolf Harris, nobody is given lenient treatment from Rodney. I listen to albums like this as a form of respite from an ever-increasing politically correct world where offending someone is near on effortless.  I am forever thankful albums like this exist to offset the turgid thin-skinned BS we are expected to accept in ever-increasing amounts, in a world where laughing at ourselves or using humor to negotiate taboo subject matter is nowadays the greatest crime of them all.  A+


Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Album Review: Megadeth - Rust In Peace (1990)

Megadeth is a band that I haven't been actively listening to for a long time now, and I have a good number of their albums in my collection.  Up until recently, I stopped listening to metal regularly like I used to, and every now and then I would play one of my many metal albums, savoring the moment and once again reminding myself of what makes me love the genre so much.  Thrash and speed metal are sub-genres that I'm the most familiar with, and Megadeth is easily one of the great thrash bands out there - in fact they make up part of what is called the Big Four - Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax and Slayer.  I love their debut album in particular, in fact it's my favorite Megadeth album, and this album here, Rust In Peace, would be the second-in-command of my favorites hierarchy.  Some people may try and argue over Dave Mustaine's vocal style, but one immutable fact is that he is a superb thrash guitarist.  Having not listened to this album in quite some time, I'm once again basking in fast-paced, thrash goodness Megadeth style, and with songs like "Hangar 18" "Poison Was the Cure" "Take No Prisoners" and "Rust in Peace", the memories of this great record are so, so good.  And some songs just get even better.  A very good album indeed. A-


Saturday, May 4, 2019

Album Review: Rod Stewart - Every Beat of My Heart (1986)

The eighties for the most part certainly weren't kind to Rod Stewart.  The phenomenon that was his career in the 1970s, as marked by hits such as "Maggie May", "You Wear It Well" and the like seemed to evaporate as he tried to reinvent himself for the new wave era, which met with limited success.  Yes, he was still pushing out hits, but nothing of course that was of the same quality of his seventies material.  Camouflage was an awful album in nearly every aspect, the only thing saving it were songs like "Some Guys Have All The Luck", which, despite being the biggest and best song on the album, was still rubbish, cheesy even, which took at best a deep-rooted nostalgia for the era that would make you bring out the album on the very rare occasion.  Foolish Behaviour wasn't much better, either.  I still play one track on the album, "She Won't Dance With Me", because to my surprise it was actually a good song.  I am, however, somewhat fond of Tonight I'm Yours.  But I'm surprised that the album that I'm currently reviewing, Every Beat of My Heart from 1986, is curiously better than what everybody else has been saying.  Of course, some of songs lean a bit too far toward the cheesy side, but still, they're much better than the disaster that was Camouflage.  Several songs on this album are good - "Another Heartache", "Ten Days of Rain", "Red Hot in Black", "Every Beat of My Heart" and "Love Touch" have been getting visited on more occasions than what I perhaps should be admitting to.  But I'm not trying to ply any trade based on my credibility as a music nut - yeah, I like it.  Who really cares.  Now, shut up!  B+


Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Album Review: The Darkness - Permission to Land (2003)

Any rock act since the turn of the millennium that dared to don leopard-skin tights and sing in a falsetto so high windows would shatter would under ordinary circumstances be advised to sell tomatoes, bags of gravel and pointy rocks at their shows in lieu of merchandise.  That shit went out in 1991 - well, that's what some people might've told you.  "Glam is dead", they said. "Give it up."  But nae.  One band decided to go one further and blend the stylings of bands such as AC/DC, Def Leppard and Queen together and mix it with the fashion sense of some obscure eighties hair metal band to come up with the most bold and audacious thing since Bob Dylan gave his folkie audience the ass and went electric.  And like Dylan, the Darkness found significant success in the gamble.  What could've easily have been mistaken for some silly comedy act (had we not known better) turned into a polished, fun, clap-your-hands-in-the-air set of surprisingly good singalong jingles that'd make you feel good about life more than a line of coke could ever hope to achieve.  Permission to Land could have been an even bigger flop than Johnny Holmes' flaccid pork sword, but to all our surprise, it was a hit.  And here's why - from "Black Shuck", "I Believe in a Thing Called Love" to "Givin' Up", its unabashed silliness and Pythonesque proclivities for overdoing things doesn't fly in the face of its otherwise serious attempt at being a legit rock album.  Which is a good thing too, because it is a seriously good album at that.  This album wasn't really "Growing on Me", because I took to it like a duck to water the very first time I heard it, which was a while ago now.  Noice.  A-


Monday, April 29, 2019

Album Review: Elton John - Made in England (1995)

My initial reaction to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was at best lukewarm. Sure, there were the hits like "Bennie and the Jets" and "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" that always got played, but the rest of the album I felt was tepid and often lackluster. That was the first time I heard the album, which was a while ago now.  Second time 'round was a different story altogether. Once I started to dig songs such as "The Ballad of Danny Bailey (1904-1935)" and "All The Girls Love Alice", I soon began to consume the rest of the record with ever-increasing fervor.  It's rare for me to take to an album the second time around - Avalon by Roxy Music is perhaps my best example, and incidentally, an excellent example of falling for an album the second time around that is evidently shared by many critics. Now that I'm reviewing Elton John's 1995 album Made in England, an album I've owned since 1997, I once again am finding myself in a similar predicament, with some slight differences.  I initially bought the album solely because of three songs - "Believe", "Made in England" and "Blessed" - all great songs, and of course, they were the ones you heard on the radio, and therefore the reason I purchased the album in the first place.  I had given the album a full play though a long time ago and at the time didn't think too much of it on the whole, bar the aforementioned trio of radio hits.  But now, I'm finding the album to be much more palatable, and often pleasant. "Cold" and "Pain" are remarkably good, and "Belfast" is still somewhat on the "Meh" side. "Man" isn't too bad, either.  Still, it ain't no Avalon or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.  But I'm still glad that I decided to pay it another visit. Not bad, not bad at all. B+


Friday, April 19, 2019

Album Review: Electric Light Orchestra - Balance of Power (1986)

Come the 1980s many bands and artists were quickly cashing in on the new electronic, synthesized sound. Some pulled it off quite well, some pulled it off poorly, others got mixed results.  Electric Light Orchestra, a band whom we all know was no stranger to synthesizers, decided for their 1986 album Balance of Power to ditch the string section altogether and jump aboard the new wave bandwagon. The results are - well, depending on who you ask - oscillating between awful and mixed.  I myself tend to gravitate toward the latter. If there's anything that I would criticize the most about this album is the sporadic cheesiness and below par songwriting and less about the actual choice of equipment used. "Heaven Only Knows" the album's opening track, is musically very average but rather poor lyrically speaking. In contrast the second song "So Serious" improves markedly, and is perhaps what I might even term a "proto-Wilbury" premonition of sorts. This newfound momentum, however, is soon lost as song number three, "Getting to the Point" finds itself slipping back down into cheesy status.  "Calling America" is the only song here that would find itself appearing on the ELO greatest hits compilation records, and for good reason - it is by far the best song on the album.  In concluding this critique, would I recommend newbies listen to this record? Absolutely not.  Stick to A New World Record, Eldorado, Out of the Blue or even Discovery, but for most fans this is predominantly a collection filler.  My love of the eighties and subsequent tolerance for even its more cheesier moments spare this album from a far more harsh criticism. Meh, it could be worse.  B


Thursday, January 31, 2019

Album Review: John Clarke - Fred Dagg Anthology (1998)

It's easy to say nowadays that New Zealand comedy isn't funny.  Granted, our comedic output is these days perhaps less than optimal, but that isn't to say we had our share of comedic greats.  The late, great Billy T James, for instance, left an indelible mark in the memories of all New Zealanders old enough to remember who he was, and 27 years after his untimely passing, remains a favorite icon, notable for his wisecracks, impressions and of course, that laugh of his.  Another Kiwi legend, John Clarke, who eventually carved out a lucrative career over the ditch, began his comedy career locally, with his stereotypical farmer alter-ego, Fred Dagg.  Dagg was for me, not just wonderfully funny, but represented what I think in many ways the modern Kiwi bloke should aspire to be.  The vernacular, the mannerisms, the image - everything about him has been lost through the passage of time to external influences, particularly the Americanization of the traditionally Anglo-Celtic New Zealand culture.  And in many ways, that's a tremendous shame.  Political correctness has likewise made his comedy a little less palatable to modern audiences, unfortunately.  The album I'm reviewing here, Fred Dagg Anthology, captures brilliantly everything about Kiwi culture, devoid of the influence of the Hollywood media machines.   And it's a shame that we've relegated large aspects of it to the past, and yet speak of Dagg as the Kiwi cultural icon he was.  We need to absorb ourselves more in the life and times of Frederick Dagg, and the more, the better. A


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Album Review: Johnny Cash - John R. Cash (1974)

I won't lie when I say I love the music of Johnny Cash.  He's one of my favorite all-time artists, up there with, but not limited to, Bob Dylan and Chris Rea.  He's made some really great songs of his own, and of course, he's done some outstanding cover versions of other people's songs.  Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind" comes to mind here.  And he has also done some impressive versions of traditional songs, such as "My Old Kentucky Home", which is the opening track of this album, and it's by far the best song here.  In fact, the only other song I would bother playing with any degree of regularity would be "Reason to Believe." Whilst not bad as such, the rest of the album comes across as somewhat mild and lackluster.  I won't be falling asleep any time soon, but then again, I won't be dancing across the room, either.  I have heard much better Johnny Cash records than this one.  But I can also expect to hear much worse albums as well.  Meh, it's OK, I suppose.  B


Monday, October 1, 2018

Album Review: Kevin Bloody Wilson - Kev's Krissmas, Vol. 2 (2018)

I very rarely review comedy albums, with the last review being a Robin Williams stand-up album.  However, having been a fan of Kevin Bloody Wilson for nearly 22 years, I had to check out what is his second Christmas-themed album.  And it's a beauty.  It's easily his best album in many, many years, since Kalgoorlie Love Songs, which, for me,was his last great album.  Not that the albums in between were bad, mind you.  On the contrary.  They were all good.  But Kalgoorlie Love Songs was where it was last at for me, Kev-wise.  I still listen to the likes of "Hello John" to save me from having to swear 24/7.  And on this album, the cussing is still plentiful and profound.  "Deck The Halls" is an indelible f***fest, and "Oh Cum By The Face-full" pushes the boundaries of "decency", with pedophilia from a priest's perspective being the theme of the song.  People will complain about this song, more than most KBW songs, of course, but like Kev says, D.I.L.L.I.G.A.F.  "Dingle Berries" adds a scatological element to the album, in keeping with the finest of KBW recording traditions.  And should you wish to induce a heart attack in the most uptight of wowsers, I think this album should do the trick quite nicely.  Bloody brilliant!  A