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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Album Review: David Bowie - Let's Dance (1983)

Picked this album up for a mere six bucks today, and being a fan of David Bowie it felt almost obligatory to do so.  There's a few big name songs on this album - "Modern Love", "China Girl" "Let's Dance", albeit the original "long" versions.  I can understand why they appeared on both radio and the hits albums in shorter form - it's not because they were necessarily too long, but because the shorter versions were a far superior mix and thus sounded better from start to finish.  Thanks to my music hoarding proclivities, I am nonetheless pleased that they are here.  Of course, I'll mostly stick to The Singles Collection versions for my fix, with the originals getting a spin every now and then should I happen to be in the mood.  And the original, and frankly awful version of "Cat People" is here too - stick to the "new and improved" version if you can.  And I might just admit too that "Criminal World" and "Shake It" might just last a few listening sessions.  All up, not too bad an album I guess.  B

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Album Review: Billy Joel - An Innocent Man (1983)

I've loved some of  Billy Joel's music since the mid-late 1980s, when I was relatively wee.  I even saw him in the only concert I've ever been to (it's a long story) - his Face to Face tour of 1998, along with Elton John.  I loved it - I remembering thinking about how it sounded like a hard rock concert, both sound wise and in terms of the raw energy being put on display by Billy.  Of course, since then I've owned all three of his Greatest Hits albums.  But now I've branched out into his album catalog.  An Innocent Man in particular stands out as it contains my favorite Billy Joel songs - "Uptown Girl" and "The Longest Time."  They were the very first songs I had heard from him, and they are still among the first songs I usually play when I listen to his Greatest Hits I & II compilation.  It also features "An Innocent Man" and "Leave A Tender Moment Alone", but the track I've been doing my best to wear out is "Christie Lee."  A great song.  Otherwise, there's not too much here to float my boat.  Nonetheless, check it out anyway.  Not a bad album.  B+

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Album Review: Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1973)

Yet another album for which I had to listen to multiple times in order to appreciate it, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road from Elton John is one of the best-selling albums in the world for good reasons.  And whilst its growth on me isn't quite as pervasive as the likes of Roxy Music's Avalon, it nonetheless shows that it's more than the sum of its radio hits.  Yes, there's of course "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "Candle In The Wind", "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" and my personal all time favorite, "Bennie And The Jets", but any of his "best of" compilations will supply those if that's all you want to know about.  Frankly, I'm much more interested in the likes of "Funeral For A Friend/Love Lies Bleeding", "Your Sister Can't Twist (But She Can Rock & Roll)", "All The Girls Love Alice", and especially "The Ballad Of Danny Bailey (1909-34)" - it's the most Eltonesque ditty I've heard to date, and I can't stop playing it.  It's about time I reviewed this album, and I'm better for having listened to it in the first place.  A very good record indeed - 30 million plus album sales say it all really.  A-

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Album Review: Iron Maiden - Powerslave (1984)

I always loved The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden, and I always thought no other album by the band could possibly ever top it, or at best, get close to it.  But that was until I heard Powerslave.  Long missing from my Iron Maiden collection, I recently (and finally!) got around to buying it, and in the process, filled a gap that desperately needed to be filled.  And no, it isn't as good as The Number of the Beast, but it's pretty damn close.  And like The Number of the Beast, it's easy to listen to from start to finish.  There aren't any real fillers on this album, and of course that's never a bad thing.  A couple of the band's biggest hits are on here - "Aces High", "2 Minutes to Midnight" are the two opening tracks.  There's also a brilliant instrumental track here too - "Losfer Words (Big 'Orra)", and the album concludes on a strong note with the 13 minute long "Rime of the Ancient Mariner."  In the end, this album for me at least proved a timely reminder for why I love heavy metal music so much.  Of course, I've said that a million times on this blog.  But this time, the feeling is all mine.  Bloody marvelous.  A

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+