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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Album Review: Peter Gabriel - So (1986)

I've been a bit slack on the music reviews as of late, but once I discovered that Peter Gabriel's discography was now available on Spotify, I quickly jumped at the chance to listen to an album I've heard so much about and have so badly wanted to hear for myself - So.  Well I certainly wasn't disappointed in the slightest bit.  The synth work on this album, as one would expect from a reputable 1980s record, is excellent, as is the drumming.  And I can only think of three songs that I would consider to be at the very least, good.  "Mercy Street", "We Do What We're Told" and "This is the Picture" are the weakest links (although not "bad" at all) in what is otherwise a stellar record.  From "Red Rain" to "In Your Eyes" this is album that has the 80s sound written all over it, which in turn sends me all gooey (anybody who has read my blog for long enough knows full well my penchant for music of that era).  "Big Time" and "Sledgehammer" are here too for your reference.  But not that you'll be listening to them that often - they're great, but there's greater things on offer on this album.  I'm very glad and grateful Peter Gabriel decided to release his back catalog on Spotify.  And like all great albums of prominence I'm even more glad I decided to go ahead and listen to this album.  Oh, and Kate Bush appears on this album too.  Fact.  Now to buy the damn thing.  A

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Album Review: Michael Jackson - Dangerous (1991)

I was big on the music of Michael Jackson since the mid-late 1980s, when I was very young.  In fact, "big" is probably the wrong word to use - "fanatic" is perhaps more appropriate, and it's a label you could've used to describe a great number of people back in those days.  I mean, Michael Jackson was HUGE.  And even when he was seemingly put on the back burner, not forgetting of course, the molestation scandals that dragged him back into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, he was still pretty damn big.  The scandals made a mockery of his public image, and he was of course the butt of numerous jokes for many years.  But it took his death for the world to snap out of it and really appreciate the unparalleled musical genius that he was, and that his loss was a significant one, not just for popular music or popular culture, but perhaps also for the history of humankind.  But even when his popularity was supposedly waning, he still had the magic.  Dangerous was released when it seemed his career had reached an impasse, and it was still as brilliant as his previous works.  There's plenty of great songs on this album, fillers are well and truly far and few between here, and that's what I like.  Much of the raw emotion and passion from the previous album is on here, "Jam", "Give In To Me" and "She Drives Me Wild" all resonate with that energy that made his stage presence so powerful and so enamoring.  Of course there was the "softer" side of Jackson - "Heal The World" comes to mind here, and even though it's a song I wouldn't play on the daily, I still find myself going back to it once in a blue moon, albeit, perhaps, merely for the sake of reflection and reminiscence. Everybody will know doubt know about "Remember the Time" and "Black or White" too, but I care little for them.  There's the rest of the album to be savored.  A

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-