Monthly Archives: January 2015

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

use_your_illusion_pro_by_martinezivan24-d5wemdw

 

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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