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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Album Review: Van Halen - A Different Kind of Truth (2012)

Out with bassist Michael Anthony, in with Eddie's son. Sammy having gone several years beforehand, in comes David Lee Roth, the larger than life, energetic frontman of the early Van Halen years. Speaking of both Sammy Hagar and Roth, much affection was always retained for the latter. Even in Hagar's shining moments, fans still yearned for the day that their knight in tights would once more take the mic back, iron out them VH wings and once more unleash upon the world the band that took rock and roll to an entirely new level. And their dreams came true with a reformation in 2006. Now, in 2012, they have a brand new album out. And it is a pearler. A Different Kind of Truth sounds nothing like the Youtube snippets and extracts. No sir. This is classic Van Halen, the way the fans wanted it, and what the fans got. Sure, some of the choruses are slight let downs at worst, and the album cover may bear a strong resemblance to the Commodores' 1975 album, Movin' On. But who really cares for nitpicking? Bugger the perfectionists, this album is a phenomenal start to the new year. And where do I start on the songs? "Tattoo", "She's the Woman", "China Town", "Bullethead." Oh, to hell with it, listen to the whole damn album. My verdict: the awe factor of this record is such, if you lose interest in sex completely, you'll know why. A

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Album Review: Skid Row - Skid Row (1989)

Debut albums are often very good albums. In fact, they are often the best albums. To cite a few examples, look at Toni Child's Union, Megadeth's Killing is My Business...And Business is Good!, Van Halen's Van Halen, Cyndi Lauper's She's So Unusual, and some might argue, Phil Collin's solo debut Face Value. You often will find that much of an artist's creativity and ability is expended on the first album, with the rest often being contractual obligation fillers with little purchasing appeal other than as a collector's item.

In some ways, the same could be said for glam/heavy metallers Skid Row and their self titled debut. Best known for hits such as "18 and Life" and "I Remember You", the album signified the tail end of the 1980s glam metal sound that would eventually be supplanted in terms of popularity and mainstream appeal by grunge rock. Outdated it may have quickly become, it still managed to cement a legendary status both in the history of the genre and in the band's discography. And when you listen to the album, it is imperative that you don't forget about "Midnight/ Tornado", and "Rattlesnake Shake." Combined with the former, you get a great package for the money you fork out. Starting off on the right foot never sounded so good. A-

Album Review: Van Halen - Van Halen (1978)

Over the years, much has been said about Eddie Van Halen's proficiency with the ax. Some say he is the reincarnation of Hendrix, some say he's better than Hendrix, some say he's the best thing since Hendrix, and some invariably say he's nowhere near as good as Hendrix. Whatever position one holds, there is a common point for agreement - Eddie Van Halen is an innovator. And like Jimi, many a teenager idolized him and wanted to follow in his footsteps. And I was one of those teenagers. Take the debut album from Van Halen, the self-titled, Van Halen, or Van Halen I as it sometimes referred to as. It introduced young boys to two things - the need to make a fool of yourself as you twirl your arm around and around playing air guitar, with the windows wide open for the neighbors to see, and premature arthritis. The legendary guitar solo "Eruption" had the same inspiring influence on young minds as professional wrestling; the difference being that Eruption didn't kill or maim its imitators. Nor did it attract lawsuits like Ozzy Osbourne's "Suicide Solution" supposedly did.
But air guitar solos aside, the rest of the album shows that it isn't just a record filled with songs wannabe guitar heroes can show off to. "Running With the Devil", the Kinks' classic "You Really Got Me", and the random and quirky "Ice Cream Man" make this the quintessential rock/pop metal album. My personal favorite, the very metallic, "I'm the One." A

Album Review: Red Hot Chili Peppers - One Hot Minute (1995)

The distinct, funk influenced sound of the Chilis has always been popular amongst Generation Xer's and alternative rock aficionados - the songs are well crafted, the lyrics are typically no nonsense and the band image is bold, distinct and out there as per usual. Small wonder, then, that the 1995 album, One Hot Minute, comes across as being a charismatic package that delivers the sound most Chili fans expect to hear from them. None of that radical "Metallica going Hard Rock with the Load album" kind of treachery, just that bass-driven Chili funk that'll rock your socks off when they're not dangling from your wedding vegetables. This album, and the Chilis in general, help define what was good about music in the 1990s. From "My Friends" to "Aeroplane", to the boisterous "Coffee Shop", One Hot Minute really is hot - even hotter than Dave's Tobasco Sauce. Oh, and don't forget about "Pea." A-