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Monday, August 21, 2017

Album Review: The Highwaymen - Highwayman 2 (1990)

The Highwaymen.  Another fine supergroup that you ought to be listening to.  Some of outlaw country's greats are all here - Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. And together they made some great songs too, such as their best known "Highwaymen."  I'm listening to (and reviewing, of course) their second album, Highwaymen 2 from 1990.  Not a bad album at all - a bit better than their more critically receptive debut album as far as I'm concerned.  I was hoping it would be perhaps a wee bit better, but nonetheless I'm not going to complain.  I've always loved Johnny Cash, and he shines on this album, as do Willie and Waylon, both of whom wrote some great songs as well.  I must admit I'm not so familiar with Kris Kristofferson, however, aside from Cash's exemplary version of "Sunday Morning Coming Down", which quickly became a staple of every reputable Johnny Cash hits album.  Two songs stand out for me here - "Silver Stallion" and "American Remains."  The rest is OK, and are certainly worth exploring.  But they have nothing on the aforementioned two.  Not too shabby at all.  B+

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Album Review: Judas Priest - Painkiller (1990)

Grew to like British Steel.  Loved Screaming for Vengeance from the beginning.  And I eventually learned to appreciate (a lot) Ram it Down too - even its fatal mistake, a cover version of Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode."  Painkiller from 1990 has some kick ass tracks on it as well - it's fast, furious, metallic, angry, and vengeful.  Which is everything a good speed metal record ought to be.  And Rob Halford's voice never fails to mesmerize - and mesmerize it damn well should, as it is easily one of the best in the heavy metal business.  Along with Screaming with Vengeance, Painkiller is a stereotype of the heavy metal sound, something you'd expect non metal fans to think of when they think of heavy metal music (and usually, quite unfortunately, despise).  Of course, it's a good stereotype.  There's some big hits on this album - if you've owned a best of compilation album (such as The Essential Judas Priest), you'll instantly know "Painkiller", "Hell Patrol", "Night Crawler" and "A Touch of Evil."  And they're the best songs on this album of course.  "Leather Rebel" and "Metal Meltdown" will get some love too on the next few play throughs - the rest will get the play button treatment every now and then as well.  All up, a sterling effort by one of metal's giants.  Love it.  A-

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Album Review: J.J. Cale - Naturally (1972)

Listening to this album brings me to Bob Dylan by way of two separate chronological references - The opening track, the brilliant "Call Me The Breeze" hails back in some ways (albeit more polished) to several Bringing It All Back Home numbers - perhaps in particular, "Subterranean Homesick Blues" and "Outlaw Blues" (with a dash of Clapton's "Lay Down Sally" in there for good measure, of course).  Likewise, the rest of the album reminds me of Dylan's more contemporary offerings, especially with regards to his voice.  And how is the album?  Well, it's not a bad album, but for the most part it isn't my cup of tea either.  "Call Me The Breeze" might have me dancing like an epileptic sparrow with one leg and a busted wing that's perching on an electric fence, and "After Midnight" is a classic that belongs on any respectable classic rock play list.  "Clyde" appeals to my need for tempo, but only enough to be played on a few occasions.  The rest of the album, whilst not rubbish in any sense, just doesn't have the momentum to keep me focused.  "Crazy Mama" is certainly worth listening to, although I probably won't be listening to it that often.  All in all, it's not a bad album, but aside for the tracks mentioned earlier, it's unlikely to get much love from me in the long run.  B