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Monday, September 28, 2009

Album Review : Van Halen - Van Halen II (1979)

Van Halen's debut album was regarded by many as one of the greatest 'lightweight' metal albums ever released, and showcased Eddie Van Halen's talent with the electric ax as an example for future guitar legends to follow. Many a jaw dropped in sheer awe when rock music fantatics first heard his "Eruption" solo, and likewise, many balls dropped when guitar legend hopefuls first heard him shredding that guitar like a cat on catnip trying to tear the living room carpet a new one. Here was a band that made hyperactive, no frills and no 'questions asked' music that dared to try things that, had most bands being asked to do, would've have replied, "We're outta here, man." Take "Ice Cream Man', for example. What the hell does this have to do with heavy metal and hard rock?" you might ask. Well, absolutely nothing. But it demonstrates why Van Halen seems to get away with a lot of things. Their entire discography has seen three lead singers, they've put songs like "Happy Trails" on their albums, and their original (and again present) lead singer has allegedly been diagnosed with ADHD. Surely all this makes for one of the most interesting rock bands in history. And it does. It most certainly does. Van Halen sounds just as good regardless of whoever is behind the mike, be it David Lee Roth, Sammy Hagar, or even Gary Cherone.

Now, looking at Van Halen II, their second effort, the musical prowess of the original album seems absent or watered down, but despite lacking what made their first a success, it is in no way a bad album. They have made better, no doubt about that, but there are worse alternatives. Like Fair Warning, or sodomizing yourself with barbed wire dipped in iodine. Songs like, "You're No Good", "D.O.A", and "Dance the Night Away", are the ones to listen to. Sure, they sound like diluted cuts from their debut album, but even though they lack the same luster of Van Halen, they would still warrant a stabbing were you to give them the fast forward treatment. And if you like faster-than-light acoustic riffs, "Spanish Fly" is right up your alley. My verdict - you should own this album if you like Van Halen. B+

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dave's Top Ten List of the Worst Songs He's Ever Heard (To Date)

Writing review after review has been getting a little on the dull side for me lately, so I've decided to break with tradition and knock up a list of the top ten songs I hate. I hate plenty of songs, but these ones are what I would play if I were in charge of running Hell. So without further ado, ladies, gentlemen and hermaphrodites, here they are...

1. Lean on Me - Club Nouveau
This strangulated cacophony straight from Lucifer's choir is testament to the fact that friendship and brotherly love truly are the most disgusting concepts ever thought of, that peace is for pansies, war is for the reality inclined, and that Ayn Rand had a valid point to make when she proposed her views on the merits of egoism, selfishness, and the dog eat dog mentality of capitalism.

2. Stand by Me - Ben E. King

Almost as bad as number one, this song was once covered by John Lennon. The legendary Beatle decided to cover this song not because it had some philosophical and moral significance, but because even the greatest musos and artists need to be taken down a peg now and then. And although his version is the best I've heard, even he should've thought twice about recording it in the first place. Thankfully, though, the entire Beatles catalog makes up for this.

3. Fernando - ABBA

Bjorn and Benny are the greatest pop composers in history, but even they fall short of being labeled perfect. This song holds the not-so-prestigious honor of being the only track on ABBA Gold that made me reach for the forward button because I found the song to be scary. For the ABBA Gold compilation it should have been replaced with "Honey, Honey" or "Super Trouper."

4. We Like to Party - The Vengaboys

Small children love this song, in the same way a serial pedophile loves small children, but that doesn't mean that adults should. A vile song that nowadays only gets played to torture victims. The music sounds like it was written for children, and that's the worst part of it.

5. All I Really Want To Do - Bob Dylan

Shudder. 'Nuff said.

6. Brown Girl in the Ring - Boney M.

"Rasputin" was great, "Ma Baker" is a classic, "Painter Man" is fantastic, "Belfast" isn't bad, but this song is just plain awful. This will clear a packed disco in the same way "Painter Man" will fill it.

7. The 52nd Street Bridge Song (Feeling Groovy)

Listen to this for more than 30 seconds and you'll soon be far from groovy; in fact, you'll be looking for a bridge over troubled water in which to lay yourself down. This is like watching children's TV on crack.

8. Don't Worry - Bobby McFerrin

Hard to believe this song is about trying to make you feel better, but when it comes to practical applications, nothing could be further from the truth. And it can be pretty darn annoying as well. To sum things up in a nutshell - Zzzz.

9. Moondance - Van Morrison

Yuck.

10. Cold As Ice - Foreigner

For years I struggled to get the first two lines out of my head, and now that I have I can still say it is a crappy song. Dull as a bare-bones Toyota Corolla, and as good for your ears as cleaning them out with a screwdriver. Stick to "Midnight Blue" or "Urgent" and you should be fine.




Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Album Review: The White Stripes - Elephant (2003)

The Ramones were made famous because of it, AC/DC gets away with it, and now, in the 21st Century, we have, once again, another act that makes musical simplicity sound cool. So simple, in fact, they only consist of only two members - a former husband and wife duo with a red, black and white color scheme as their image. They are known as The White Stripes, and as far as contemporary music goes they are the best thing since the invention of the zipper fly for the well hung. To me, this album is comparable to a Toyota Altezza (aka Lexus IS200) - it has the potential to be lethargically boring in all it's appeal, yet it has a mystical aura so profound, even the bed-ridden soldier from Johnny Got his Gun (or Metallica's "One" video) could appreciate it. Jack White is a modern day Bob Dylan; he can write a song with thought provoking lyrics and deliver the package with a catchy tune to boot, and this is particularly evident in songs like "Seven Nation Army", "Black Math", and "The Hardest Button to Button." "It's True That We Love One Another" is a pointless, yet fun 'sing-a-long' with an interpersonal twist, whilst their cover of "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" is well done but slow and slightly uninspiring. My verdict - buy this album, or be forever condemned as a nitwit. A