[Crate Digging]GAMMA-1

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GAMMA is one of those overlooked albums that people tell me I should listen to. When guitarist Ronnie Montrose is involved it’s hard to resist. The imaginatively titled 1 ,shows him taking a more AOR slant. He was joined by a couple ex-members of Montrose in bassist Alan Fitzgerald and Alan Alcivar on keys. More prominently is his new vocalist Davey Pattison. It takes you about 2 songs to realize that Davey is a big fan of Paul Rodgers. I mean Kingdom Come/Robert Plant kind of big fan. To be fair, if you’re going to sound like someone, make it someone real good.

The album fluctuates between the best Bad Company song they never recorded to some ripping guitar playing to something an AOR guy told them was a good idea. However, as a whole it is a really good album. Oddly the “hit” song is “I’m Alive” which seems to be Ronnie’s version of Santana’s “I’m Winning”. Horribly misguided attempt at radio made worse because it’s the second track. “Thunder and Lightning” is the album opener and it’s one of those “Bad Co.” songs. Album closer “Fight To The Finish” is another one of those and might be the album highlight. Just look at the title and you know what it will sound like.

What will keep this on you turntable longer than normal, is Ronnie’s guitar playing. Side 2 opens with “Solar Heat” where he is absolutely wailing. It nicely segues into “Ready For Action”. His playing is exceptional all through the album. It’s a great mix of flash and feeling.

The copy I bought is in very nice shape and I paid $9 for it.

I really really under paid

I really under paid

Paid about right

I over paid

I should have lit my money on fire

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The REAL Top 10 Hair Metal Bands aka screw you Loudwire

 

I love music lists.

I know they are mainly designed just to infuriate readers who will then hopefully share the link and generate clicks. Still, I love them. Especially when they are horribly wrong. One of the recent ones that fit this criteria is from Loudwire. The just released the 10 Best Hair Metal Bands. I expected this to be off since everyone that works at Loudwire probably weren’t born when this genre was at the top

So in another excuse to take someone else’s idea and write something about, here is the actual 10 Best Hair Metal Bands.

Let’s get one thing out of the way, I loathe the moniker “hair metal”. It was a term thought up by music writers that had come into power with the grunge/alt rock wave. It was their not so clever way to diminish and invalidate the genre that they didn’t like. In all genre’s of music there were great bands and then the waves after of horrible imitators.

Also, let’s loosely define what “hair metal” is. For me I say it is hard rock with a commercial sensibility. A buddy came up with the term “hard pop” and I think that’s fair. There has to be either a dreamboat of a lead singer or a shred meister on guitar. Lyrics should have a bit of a blue streak to them. Power ballads are not a must but extremely encouraged.

Anyway, here is the list from Loudwire.

10. Dokken
9. Whitesnake
8. Cinderella
7. Poison
6. Ratt
5. Skid Row
4. W.A.S.P.
3. Twisted Sister
2. Def Leppard
1. Mötley Crüe

The list as a whole is not bad but there are a couple big mistakes. Two of them should not be on it. W.A.S.P. is not a hair metal band. They were more shock rock and traditional metal, even though they did dip their toes in the hair metal pond with the excellent power ballad “Forever Free”.

The other band that shouldn’t be on the list is Twisted Sister. Being honest, they are a glorified one hit wonder. While Stay Hungry is an excellent album the rest of their output is “eh”. Not to undercut the impact of Stay Hungry, more specifically the videos. However, one good album does not warrant being on this list.

If you listen to the Hair Nation channel on Sirius XM you will hear several acts that are not Hair Metal. Tesla is just a straight up rock band. Queensryche are a metal band that just had a big power ballad. Scorpions were extremely popular in the 70’s beforehand.

The other band I am removing is Poison. While they were an extremely popular act. One that you could argue are the poster boys for the genre, they just aren’t as good as the others.

10-Def Leppard-There is no denying how awesome their first 4 LP’s are. I listened to High N Dry the other day and it is still a mother trucker. So good. The reason I have them this low is because how they have distanced themselves from the genre and fanbase that loved them. In hindsight, it may have been a smart move since they are still playing big shows. However, I’d argue that it is because they were one of the biggest acts of that time.

9-White Lion-Pretty boy lead singer

Shredding guitar god

Huge power ballad √

While they did have three keys to this genre, they were also a really good band. 4 solid albums is nothing to sneeze at. As a whole they hold up better than one would think. Plus, I love their cover of Radar Love. Lastly, the fact that after the band broke up, guitarist Vito Bratta just said “fuck it!!” and left the music industry is bad ass.

8-Warrant-There are several bands that were severely harmed by their biggest hit. Extreme and Saigon Kick were so different than the songs they became known for. While “Cherry Pie” was a big hit and a popular video, it became an anchor for the band. It’s a shame because they were so much more. I remember driving and listening to Z-Rock, anyone remember that? I heard this heavy yet catchy song that blew my mind. When the DJ said it was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Warrant I was dumbfounded. Previously, they were just a band that was there but that song changed my mind. Then they released the acoustic version of “I Saw Red” and was all in. But the “Cherry Pie” video with all it’s over the top cliché was the perfect touchstone for naysayers. Unfortunate because the band never got a fair chance withtheir follow-up Dog Eat Dog an oustanding album. Even their “grunge” album Ultraphobic is good. Plus, the two albums they have recorded with new singer Robert Mason hold their own with the catalog.

7-Cinderella-This is another band that is wrongfully pigeon-holed. When you look at the cover of their first album, they are totally glammed out. Because of that I think they are thought of as a Poison clone when they are clearly not. The sound is a lot heavier than one thinks. Tom Keifer’s voice is one of the more unique ones plus being a fantastic songwriter too. Cinderella really made a leap from Night Songs to Long Cold Winter. Heartbreak Station was a slip though. Keifer’s throat problems have hurt the band more than once tour-wise hindering their growth. Every time they seemed poise to have a comeback and do something big it ended up not happening. Plus, they made the most awesome commercial for a chili dog stand..

6-Dokken-It’s funny researching all these bands, it seems like 4 albums in and it goes off the rails. Same with Dokken but I get why they broke up, Don is kind of an ass and George is no saint himself. The band has an interesting backstory in that Don essentially joined George’s band yet somehow they ended up using Don’s last name. In between all the ego clashes and silliness, they released some essential albums. Great mix of a commercial sound with a heaviness to it. Plus Lynch was a monster player. Even their comeback album Dysfunctional is good. It was originally released in Japan simply titled Dokken. It sold so well that Elektra in the States picked it up, added some songs and remixed it. Get the original Japanese version as it sounds more like classic Dokken while the US version tries to make them sound alternative. It still sold over 300k copies which is amazing at that time. Since then been a lot of misses and drama. The Erase the Slate album with Reb Beach on guitar is severely overlooked. I think most of the criticism of the band nowadays is because of the band fighting than the music. Shame.

5-RATT-It has always amazed me how overlooked RATT are. I don’t know if it’s because they were one of the first bands to break through but they have a fantastic catalog. The 5 studio albums have at least 2 hits per. That doesn’t even include their EP with “You Think You’re Tough” arguably their best song. They never had the big power ballad that others did but I kind of respect them for not forcing one. Warren DeMartini was the requisite guitar hero and he’s still held on high regard. Bonus points for their comeback album Infestation being so good it holds its own. The legal fighting over who holds the band name has not helped the bands profile though.

4-Whitesnake-Now some may wonder how I can include Whitesnake here when I left off the Scorpions since both bands were active in the 70’s. One, it’s my list. Two, Whitesnake was basically a blues band until John Sykes joined the band and guitar driven, stripper anthems emerged. I have always said if there is a Stripping Hall Of Fame, Whitesnake should be in there. The amount of dollar bills that went flying because songs from the ’87 album came on is innumerable. The album before it, Slide It In is often overlooked and is the blueprint for ‘87. While the videos of Tawne Kittaen and multiple Jaguars looks silly, the songs still hold up after all these years. The lyrics are dripping with sexual innuendo that became passe, listening to them now they just seem fun. A deep dive is the import album Starker in Tokyo, an acoustic album with just Dave and Adrian Vandenberg. The last two releases Good To Be Bad and Forevermore should not be overlooked.

3-Skid Row-Rolling Stone magazine once declared Sebastian Bach as the last genetically engineered front man. While it has been decades since they wrote that I still thinks it holds true. He was like David Lee Roth with an anger streak. He’s tall and good looking with unbelievable pipes and he knows it. They had the huge power ballad but they were able to not be defined by it. Amazingly they got heavier as they went along. Seeing the video for “Slave To The Grind” after being bombarded by “ I Will Remember You” the previous year was like seeing a color TV the first time. You have to remember on this album they took Pantera out as their opener. After that came Subhuman Race, released in 1995 and is one of the greatest albums that most people never heard. I understand some will say I have them too high since they ostensibly had only 3 albums and most only heard of two.

They need to revisit the catalog.

2-Motley Crüe– It’s tempting to put this band at number one just because of their autobiography The Dirt. Seriously, that book is a degenerate bible. And I mean that in a good way. Nonetheless, the band’s music is pretty legendary. They ended on Dr. Feelgood, their biggest album which is highly unusual. Motley seemed to go up a rung on every album while changing their look and style. Even weirder they changed the logo every album too. No one has ever done that. They sounded so raw on Too Fast For Love that it’s almost punk. It’s a shame Elektra cleaned it up the mix, that’s why you should try to find the original copy on Leathur Records . I don’t know if it’s a demerit but for me their best album is Motley Crue the one without Vince Neil. John Corabi added so much as a singer and lyricist it’s a shame we didn’t get to hear more. Still there are hits after hits on the Neil ones. Look at the setlist for the retirement shows and there are at least a half dozen songs they could’ve added. I know I should take off points for their obvious “going through the motions” retirement tour. Tommy’s drum kit messing up on the last show was an unfortunate yet fitting coda for them.

1-Winger-OK. I know people are calling me names after seeing I have Winger at number 1. I don’t care. I think they are the best band of this genre. Forget about the videos of Kip dancing around and concentrate on the music. Incredibly well crafted hard rock. They were the perfect package. The band are all incredibly competent musicians. Kip studied classical music before playing with Alice Cooper where he met guitarist/keyboardist Paul Taylor. Reb Beach had been a sought after session guitarist and drummer Rod Morgenstein played with the Dixie Dregs. Plus they had the songs. Their MTV popularity was what killed them when Beavis and Butthead came in to popularity. A real shame because they had just released Pull, a truly great album. If given a chance I think people would see the growth they always accused the band of not being capable of. Winger broke up but got back together for IV. After that was Karma and lastly Better Days Comin‘. The band has figured out a schedule to work around everyone’s solo stuff and get back together and make great music. That freedom allows the band to relax and just be themselves. They don’t seem to run from their history like others. Time has passed and on and the line “She’s Only Seventeen” gets changed to “She’s Only 43” at shows nowadays. It’s perfectly pays homage to the song while acknowledging that everyone has gotten older. Older but still having fun.

So there its is. I doubt many, if any, will agree with my list. That’s fine. If you haven’t listened to any of the albums I used to justify a bands rating. I urge you to give it a spin and see if I changes your mind.

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[Crate Digging] Max Havoc-S/T

 

There’s that saying that never go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.

I’d like to offer a spin on that. Never go to a record show after you’ve watched a music documentary.

That’s how I plunked down too much money for the debut album of Max Havoc. “Who the hell is Max Havoc?” you may ask. Just like you I had never heard of them until I saw Inside L.A. Metal. It is an anthology series on the early days of the Sunset Strip before the boom era of the mid to late 80’s. It’s a fun watch, plus it has lots of great pics and footage of bands I have never heard of. One of those bands was Max Havoc. They played all the well known clubs and had an association with Bill Ward of Black Sabbath. Apparently Max Havoc was supposed to be Ward’s new band. The guys that are here are fantastic. This came out in 1983, well before the glam dominant sound that would  soon follow. This still has a 70’s influence to it. It’s kicks of with “I’m the Show” a party rocker but with a lot more power behind it. In doing research on Max Havoc I saw one reviewer say they’re a mix of Van Halen and Saxon. Given the time, that’s a pretty solid comparison. My favorite track is “Bound for Hell”. Has a little bit of swagger to it and the band shows their love for Zeppelin half way through.

I have had this record spinning non-stop for a solid week . Just a fantastic listen and am dumbfounded as to why they never made it. My guess is by the time the boom hit they were considered old hat. This was released on Triple Platinum Records and the only release by that label. It doesn’t take a genius to deduce that this was the bands label. The only negative I have about this album is the cover.

It’s awful.

Really awful.

Seriously, it’s atrocious.

Besides the disgustingly bad art, the band’s name isn’t on the cover. Who’s brilliant idea was that? Plus it makes them look like a NWOBHM band, and they’re not. These guys are rockers.

So it’s obvious I like it, the question is how much did I pay for it. Like i said at the start, I was in the susceptible headspace when purchasing it. Nonetheless, I laid down a whopping $30 for the Max Havoc LP.

I really really under paid

I really under paid

Paid about right

I over paid

I should have lit my money on fire

 

It’s in really nice condition but I admittedly paid too much. Not that I’m upset about buying it, but this is a $20 record.

 

[Crate Digging] Little Steven-Voice of America

Let’s get something straight from the start. My buying Voice Of America has nothing to do with Bruce Springsteen.

I hate Bruce Springsteen.

I loathe Bruce Springsteen.

I would not date someone if she liked Bruce Springsteen.

The main reason I bought this album is because Jean Beauvoir is on it. Every Kiss fanatic knows that name plus he was in the Plasmatics. Helluva a career if you ask me. I was a little surprised to see that Jean did not write any songs on this, especially when you hear how AOR this album is.

Both sides Track 1’s would fit perfectly in an montage during an 80’s movie , which is the proper definition of AOR. “Voice of America” is very bouncy but “Los Desparecidos” has a bit of a sinister streak to it. It is also one of the songs you could easily hear Bruce doing. Interesting side note is that this album came out a month before Born in The USA came out.

Sadly, those are the best parts. This was recorded around the time Steven was doing his Sun City stuff so it is very political. Worse, it comes across as really corny. “Solidarity” is a bad Ska song about polish labor leader Lech Walesa.

Seriously? Who wants to rock out to that?

“Justice”, “I Am A Patriot”, “Checkpoint Charlie” are more political songs that are so heavy-handed even the most rabid students at Berkeley would tell him to tone it down.

Voice Of America could have been a really good album if Steven would have toned down the politics. Some artists can do that and some can’t. He is in the later camp. Also, he really missed the boat by not utilizing Jean Beauvoir who would go on to write songs that would have fit nicely here.

I do suppose that a Bruce fan might give this a higher grade than me.

I paid $2 for this:

I really really under paid

I really under paid

Paid about right 

Over paid

Should have lit my money on fire

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[Crate Digging] Clover – Love On The Wire

I only knew about this band because of Huey Lewis. If anyone has the biography on Phil Lynott titled The Rocker, you know what a good guy Huey is. Since I’m a huge Thin Lizzy fan, Huey is aces in my book. Clover was a California country rock band that released a couple records that did nothing, so naturally they made their way to England. LOVE ON  THE WIRE was released in 1976 and it is a weird hodge podge of songs.  There are hints of their country rock roots but it’s a mess. Not to mention the gawd awful cover of “Travelin’ Man”. Odd thing is that Huey is listed as lead vocalist but he is seemingly not used in that role. Made worse because Alex Call,who you hear every song, is not very good. “Hearts Under Fire” is the one song they trade off on and is the highlight.

Most interesting aspect of this album is what came of everyone after it. LOVE ON THE WIRE is produced by a very young Robert “Mutt” Lange.  He did alright for himself.  Guitarist John Mcfee, keyboardist Sean Hopper, and bassist Ciambotti were the backing band on Elvis Costello ‘ s debut album. Then there’s Huey.  Clover opened for Thin Lizzy and they took a liking to him so much you hear his harmonica playing on the classic LIVE AND DANGEROUS. When I listened to this as a kid, I didn’t realize the “bluesy” Huey Lewis that Phil gave a shout out to, was the same guy singing “This is It” on MTV.

In closing, LOVE ON THE WIRE is definitely not a sum of its parts. When you really examine all who’s involved it’s amazing that it’s as bad as it is.

I paid $2 for this and that is the right price.

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Adrenaline Mob-Dearly Departed

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If you look at my past reviews you can see I am not the biggest fan of Adrenaline Mob. In fact I think the band may have taken on their namesake and put a hit out me. So it must seem odd that once again I am tackling their newest. Call it self flagellation or more likely that it’s February and there is not a lot out. Dearly Departed is a mini-LP mostly made up of covers or acoustic numbers. They did this right after their debut album and I like this idea. Alice In Chains did it and I think it’s a nice way of staying in the public eye without milking the cow.

Let’s address the covers first. Dearly Departed kicks off with Pat Travers’ “Snorting Whiskey”. This is a blazing cover and it had me rethinking my attitude towards the band by the time it hit the chorus. It is a balls out rockin’ version of this 70’s classic and you can hear the band enjoying themselves. Especially guitarist Mike Orlando who sounds like a mixture of an Allman brother and an 80’s shredder on here. Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” also gets the treatment and it is a good one. The feeling is like this is a fun practice room song that they just decided to record. I applaud the guys for choosing some not too obvious songs. However, just because it is a surprising choice does not mean it is a good one. Case in point is their version of “Devil Went Down To Georgia”. It sounds exactly as you would imagine and it’s not nearly as clever as it needed to be. The last cover on here is a “Black Sabbath Medley”. It is about as original sounding as that title. One highlight is drummer AJ Pero channeling his inner Animal and going bat shit insane on it. There needs to be a moratorium on bands covering Sabbath, Metallica, and Slayer. Just don’t do it. You will always be compared to the original and in doing so will always be lacking.

Along with the covers, the other draw is the three acoustic interpretations on here. Each one of them being very good. Russell Allen really gets a chance to show off his voice on them. “Crystal Clear” and “Angel Sky” have full band accompaniment on them but the acoustic vibe is still there and the stripped down quality is delicious. As good as those versions are, “All On The Line” is legendary. With just Russell and Mike alone with a guitar the emotion really comes through. Really beautiful and powerful.

Dearly Departed is rounded out with a radio edit of the title track. Taking off that extra minute really streamlined the song and makes modern rock keeper. “Gets You Through The Night” is an unreleased track from Men Of Honor. It is a little peppier and reminds me of Saliva or Nickelback and I’m not saying that in a good way. It proves the adage that if the song was any good it would have been on the album.

I guess Dearly Departed has opened my eyes to Adrenaline Mob. I really like how the band is able to mix modern hard rock with classic rock sensibilities. Hopefully it will continue on their next release. My one small complaint is I think Dearly Departed should be a bit cheaper. It’s only $1 less than a regular album so I dropped it down one because of that.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-buy it as a used CD

$1.00-streaming it on Spotify

$0-Not worth the drive space

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Sweet & Lynch-Only To Rise

download

 

Geez, another project album?

Really?

This one features Michael Sweet of Stryper fame on vocals joined by the magical fingers of guitarist George Lynch. Somehow these two men who have been creating music for most of their lives came up with the name Sweet & Lynch.

Ugh.

That “moniker” does not reek of creative genius for the prospective buyer. Band name aside, the prospect of these two guys working together is intriguing. The last Stryper album was good as was Michael’s subsequent solo offering. The same can be said of George’s latest output. The two Lynch Mob EP’s were terrific and his other project band, KXM, was on many people’s Top 10 lists. Also have to mention that the band is rounded out with the rhythm section of James Lomenzo and Brian Tichy. Two very capable veterans that have played together and with a variety of acts,

One of the main reasons this intrigued me so much was to hear Michael Sweet away from Stryper’s safety net. I was never really a big fan of them. The religious stuff was a bit too heavy handed plus the outfits were just silly. The prospect of him being able to shun those restraints is very appealing.

Sweet & Lynch sound exactly as you might think, a more melodic sounding Lynch Mob. At times it does sound a bit more Stryper-ish. That is heard right from the get go on “The Wish”. It gets a bit slinkier on “Dying Rose” with it’s Lynch Mob sound but Michael’s voice gives it that something extra. His high pitched vocals return on “Recover”. With George’s playing it really hearkens back to the glory days. Now the track that George shows off the most on is “Divine”. The guitar sound is so nasty sounding it’s almost pornographic. Only To Rise ends with the title track, probably my favorite song on the album. Brian Tichy’s double bass drumming really amps it up and makes it one of the heaviest tracks any of the guys has done.

With the pedigree of these two you expect a power ballad. Naturally there are a couple with “Love Stay” being the best. The rhythm section really help and takes a song that could have been very generic into something a lot more interesting. “Me Without You” is a nice one as well, though it seem to echo Dokken’s “Alone Again”.

Purely accidental I’m sure.

Sadly there are a couple of misses here. “Stretch in Numbers” sounds like they never knew which way to take the song. The keyboard is so out front you wonder if George just forgot to play on it. Then there’s “Hero Zero” which has some of the silliest lyrics I’ve heard in a long time. The hero is a zero, he’s just a highwayman. That’s bad. So bad that it ruins what could of been a good song.

It’s a shame that the new release shelf has been flooded with so many of these projects. I think fans may have soured on the gimmick-ness of these “dream projects” and in turn they overlook the ones that are actually good. Sweet & Lynch is one of those good ones with Only To Rise delivering on it’s promise of mixing together Stryper and Dokken into a audibly tasty treat. If you are a fan of either of those bands I recommend Sweet & Lynch wholeheartedly.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-buy it as a used CD

$1.00-streaming it on Spotify

$0-Not worth the drive space

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Rated X-Rated X

RATEDX

The other project featuring an Appice in it is Rated X. This group has Carmine Appice on the drumstool. He has been in so many bands that it’s probably easier to name who he hasn’t been in. He is best know for Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, and King Kobra. The singer for Rated X is Joe Lynn Turner who fronted Rainbow during the MTV days. Rounding out the quartet is Tony Franklin the fretless bass maestro from Blue Murder and The Firm and guitarist Karl Cochran.

There are a lot similarities between Rated X and the other Appice project WAMI. Both singers have sung with Yngwie and Rainbow. Both bassist have played with Carmine in Blue Murder. And oddly, the least know of each group is the guitar player. However the big difference is that Cochran and Joe Lynn Turner have been playing together for awhile. Unfortunately Karl suffered a stroke midway through recording so Nikolo Kotzev of Brazen Abbot filled in for him.

Rated X offers up some classic sounding hard rock that sounds fittingly like a cross between Rainbow and Blue Murder. What makes this group standout from the others is that the familiarity between the members gives it more of a band feel and less of a studio one. The album kicks off with “Get Back My Crown” and “This Is Who I Am” and seems like a fitting declaration for a group of guys trying to reclaim their spot in the game. The keys on it really adds to the Rainbow feel. They’re also evident on “Fire & Ice” with it’s big chorus and bigger organ. (Don’t laugh, I’m talking about the musical instrument.)

The Blue Murder pedigree shines through on several tracks too. Some of it comes from Tony Franklin’s signature fretless bass sound. “Lhasa” has the same big epic song feel to it as “Valley Of The Kings”. Then there just some straight up rockers in “Devil In Disguise” and “Piece Of Mind” where Rated X is making there own statement.

To be fair there are a coupe of stinkers. “You Are The Music” reeks of “we need a ballad here” thinking. “Maybe Tonight” is a bland soft rocker. It almost seems that if they slow down it falls apart but they do a great job on “Our Love Is Over”. It’s a nice ballad that really shows off Karl’s playing. There is also an acoustic version that is just Joe Lynn and a piano and it is beautiful. It’s amazing to hear his voice still sounding that good.

What makes Rated X so much better than all the other project bands is that they seem to want to be a band. The extensive demoing and work they did before recording is evident. The cohesiveness comes through the speakers and the band has made an album worthy of their collective legacies.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-but it as a used CD

$1.00-streaming it on Spotify

$0-Not worth the drive space

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WAMI-Kill The King

WAMI
All-star projects seem to be the rage in the rock/metal world these days. It seems like a new one comes out every other week. Usually they are put together to do an album and then everyone goes their separate ways. I guess the record company pays these guys enough for a couple weeks work and the label makes a couple bucks and just maybe, someone can catch lightning in a bottle. Interestingly, there are two new ones that feature each of the Appice brothers on them.
The not so imaginatively named WAMI, made up of singer Doogie White, drummer Vinny Appice, bassist Marco Mendoza, and guitarist Iggy Gwadera. White Appice Mendoza Iggy=WAMI, get it? Yeah, exactly. You may know Doogie from singing for Yngwie and Rainbow. Marco Mendoza was in Blue Murder and Whitesnake. Vinny Appice has spent time in Black Sabbath, Dio, and Kill Devil Hill. Izzy is an unknown Polish guitarist that Marco saw and was so impressed he wanted to work with him. The other guys followed and we get Kill The King.
Kill The King is made up of 11 classic sounding hard rock tracks. Since 3 of the 4 guys are veteran players, execution will not be a problem. Doogie White sounds like a mix between Dio and Biff Byford of Saxon and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s ends up sounding derivative. Maybe if he showed a bit more flair and power, it would have soundes better. It’s the same with Iggy’s guitar playing. It’s not bad it’s just not that engaging. I don’t know if it’s his lack of experience or maybe being intimidated by who he was playing with. Either way, he comes across as very unimaginative.
It’s a shame because there are some good bones here. “Young Blood” and “Heart of Steel” are a couple of nice rockers. “Exodus (The Red Sea Crossing)” is an attempt at doing a big epic song. The rest, while not bad are just kind of there. After listening to it a couple times, it comes across as unreleased Rainbow tracks.
The big drawback to these projects is that they’re not bands. One guy has most of the material, they maybe rehearse together, record it, and everyone goes there own way. If WAMI could have had a couple of months together to demo this and then record it, I think Kill The King would be a vastly different record. Alas, it is what it is.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-but it as a used CD
$1.00-streaming it on Spotify
$0-Not worth the drive space

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The perfect Guns N’ Roses-Use Your Illusion album

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The holiday is a desert for new releases and ironically, wrong usage, I actually have free time to write. So instead of doing a title I really have no interest in I will once again steal an idea from a podcast. Dig Me Out is a terrific podcast that focuses on lesser known releases of the 90’s. While they mainly stick to alternative, hard rock and metal occasionally sneaks in. Recently they celebrated their 200th episode and to commensurate the big achievement the episode was dedicated to Guns N Roses Use Your Illusion I & II. It was a fascinating episode with lots of info and ideas. One of my favorite tidbits was that “November Rain” was originally a 20+ minute song that had to be trimmed down.

During the course of conversation they addressed the elephant in room, should this have been 2 albums released simultaneously? One suggestion was to release several EP’s that collected similar songs together. Epic songs, bluesy songs, etc. In theory that sounds good but I think they knew that the band was on borrowed time with all the drug problems the various members had. Plus, who knew what the music climate would be by the time EP #4 came out. In truth the music world of 1991 when this was released and in 3 years later 1994 were totally different. You could have released one and then another 12-18 months later but you if #2 sells way less than #1 the media will go bananas. Plus this was the time when record releases were a big deal. Fans would line up and pack stores for midnight releases. A couple years later with grunge killing the rock star and the internet changing the industry, big releases were not the same.

The spark for this article was them mentioning about cherry picking the two albums and creating the ultimate Use Your Illusion. This idea really intrigued me with a combined 29 songs between the two, only counting “Don’t Cry” once, and deciding on what 10 songs would make the best album is a fun idea.

So the following are my 10 songs plus the order they should be on the album. I think that can be an overlooked aspect to a release and it is VERY evident on the two Use Your Illusions. I is alright but having “The Garden” followed by “The Garden of Eden” is just lazy. It gives the impression that the two tracks are tied together. II is just a mess. “Civil War” is a great song but not an opener. All the fast energetic songs are in the middle and the big single “You could Be Mine” is track 12.

12!!

With all that said, let’s kick this pig.

Scott’s Ultimate Use Your Illusion

Track 1-”You Could Be Mine”-This is the perfect album opener. Upbeat, already popular from the Terminator 2 soundtrack, listeners will be on board from the jump.

Track 2-”Garden of Eden”-Want to keep up the tempo from the 1st track. Plus it sounds like it could come from Appetite.

Track 3-”Civil War”-after those two rockers, this serves as a bridge from what they were to what they want to be.

Track 4-”Live and Let Die”-This is such a good cover that I don’t want to bury it on the back of the album. Plus the bombast of it leads perfectly into…

Track 5-”November Rain”-The opening piano note is a perfect segue from Track 4. The midway point is perfect this song.

Track 6-”The Garden”-It follows “November Rain” on I and I think it works. Coming off the grandiose-ness of the previous track you need to something different but not vanilla. The soft/heavy flux of this track and the Alice Cooper guest vocals work perfectly. I know the Dig Me Out guys didn’t like this song but I really do.

Track 7-”Dust N’ Bones”-One of the few songs where Izzy sang. Great song showing the bands roots.

Track 8-”Estranged”-The other big epic song. If I only hear this song once every 6 months, it’s my favorite off these albums. Slash’s guitar sound is just nasty and that simple 4 note riff is killer. I do wish that they had a big name producer on this album that would’ve cut about 90 seconds out of the middle and this song would be legendary. I think you have to have it far enough away from “November Rain “ to give listeners a chance to recover.

Track 9-”Pretty Tied Up”– I like the jangliness of the song and after “Estranged” you need some normalcy. Plus it leads right into…

Track 10-”You Ain’t The First”– I love the acoustic sound of this, very Stones/Aerosmith plus it echoes the Lies EP. I think this is the perfect ending,

I realize I left off “Don’t Cry”and the reason why is you already have 2 “kind of” ballads on here. I could cheat and say that it is a Japanese Bonus track along with “So Fine”. Nowadays, people do not remember how big a deal it was getting UK or Japan import of a release just for the bonus tracks. Plus, after seeing Shannon Hoon on the video and hearing that he sang on it I was excited to hear Blind Melon. Then when I actually heard it, it made me wish that God did not give us ears. Horrible.

I am pretty solid on the song choices I made, the only argument would be on the order but my reasoning for tempo and feel will stay.

One of the other favorite tracks mentioned on the podcast was “Coma”. The track is alright but with 2 other long songs that I think are better, this album is better served without it. “Bad Obsession” was the one song that was a tough cut. Honestly I had that in the Track 7 slot and then heard “Dust N’ Bones” again and made the switch. With the success and notoriety of “November Rain”, “Estranged”, and “Civil War”, I think people overlook how many good rock songs are on here.

Along with making up two new words, I believe I laid out solid reasons of what I think would make the best single disc version of Use Your Illusion. Am I right on or way off base?

Just let me know.

 

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