Tag Archives: covers

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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V/A-This Is Your Life-A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio

 

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Very rarely are “tribute” albums a good thing. Either they are modern artist playing classic rock songs because the label thinks it’s a good idea, KISS My ASS or Zeppelin-Encomion. Or you get gimmick-y crap like Country Does Metal. Ugh. Lastly, there’s what I call the Cleopatra effect. A label uses a group of older artists to do classic rock tributes. The label Cleopatra had an assembly line of 80’s rockers doing songs of 70’s acts. It became comical to see Jizzy Pearl of Love/Hate or Joe Lynn Turner on every release from Cleopatra. Very rarely do you get a tribute album of well known acts doing songs in the same genre of an iconic artist.
Lo and behold, here comes This Is Your Life-A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio. They did a great job of collecting metal artists for this record and the songs they covered range throughout his career. As an added bonus most of these songs are new recordings. With this kind of an album I think it’s best to go track by track.
Starting us off is “Neon Nights” by Anthrax. They do a nice and faithful version of the song. It’s a perfect album opener. If you heard last year’s Anthems you know they can do great covers. Following that is is Tenacious D’s “The Last In Line”. It has a nice acoustic opening but once it kicks in… the only way to go is down…… I love these guys but doing an electric metal song doesn’t work. Plus Jack Black does not have the pipes for this song. We are then greeted with Adrenaline Mob’s “The Mob Rules”. This was done on their covers EP a while back and I was not a fan of it then and still feel the same. Most of Stone Sour tries their hand at “Rainbow In The Dark”. They are joined by guitarist Satchel of Steel Panther fame aka Russ Parish from Paul Gilbert’s band and Fight. Doing such a well known song can be tricky but they put their spin on it. It’s a little heavier and just a tad faster. What is interesting is Corey Taylor’s vocal choice. His delivery is very restrained thereby letting the guitar riff to shine. At first it’s surprising because you expect him to go big but this works a lot better.
Young ones Halestorm try on “Straight Through The Heart”. The band proudly wears it influences on its’ sleeves and have done a couple of covers EP’s already. I know I’m supposed to like them but something about them doesn’t click. Lizzy Hale has a killer voice and on the second half of the song she steps it up a notch and it’s is killer. However the band is very blah and the guitar playing is bar band level. I know her brother is the drummer but she needs to be with some players.
The first track released was “Starstruck” with Biff Byford of Saxon singing with Motorhead. Just typing that sentence is a metalhead’s wet dream. Listening to it is even better. Biff’s gravel works great with Motorhead’s dirty delivery. It’s just so simple and so great. Another legacy act is next with the Scorpions doing “The Temple of the King”. The Rainbow track fits right in the Scorpions wheelhouse. The mid pace song is perfect for Klaus Meine’s vocals. It sounds like it should have been on their MTV Unplugged album. The Metal Queen herself, Doro gives us “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” and it is as glorious as you would think. When Ronnie passed they did a couple of tribute shows and she sang this song. It was done awhile back but chances are most people haven’t heard it. Another already available track is “Holy Diver” by Killswitch Engage. Done when Howard Jones was still the singer, it’s still a pretty cool cover and even better video.
Glenn Hughes takes the lead alongside Dio veterans Simon Wright, Rudy Sarzo, and Craig Goldy on “Catch The Rainbow”. Since this is very ballad-like it reminds me of some of the Black Sabbath stuff Glenn did. I like that he chose a song that he could do use his blues voice but it doesn’t really work. Next is one of my favorite songs Ronnie sang.”I” ,from the Black Sabbath-the Dio Years, is better than anything on that gawd awful 13 record. Former Lynch Mob singer Oni Logan is joined by Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, and Brian Tichy, Musically its good but Oni cannot match the defiance that was so evident on the original.
One of the tracks I was really looking forward to was “Man On The Silver Mountain” with Rob Halford on vocals. When Dio dropped out of Sabbath when they were going to open for Ozzy’s retirement shows, Rob stepped in. He did a terrific version of “Children Of The Sea” so my expectations were high. Unfortunately time has caught up with the Metal God and his voice is flat and very uninspiring.
The mighty Metallica do a medley on “Ronnie Rising”. It’s made up of “A Light In the Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King”. It’s tremendous. Any long time fan will know that they love to do covers and it shows here. Especially on “Stargazer/Kill The King” sections.
The album ends with Dio himself singing the title track. It’s just him and a piano and it’s phenomenal. A little heard track and it shows what a powerhouse he was.
There are some other songs depending on what version you buy. The digital download has “Buried Alive” by Jasta. I like it since we get to hear Jamey actually sing and this track works for him. The Japanese version has Stryper’s “Heaven and Hell” which was available on their covers LP from a couple years back. It’s good but they changed some lyrics and that kind of bugged me. Dio Disciples crank out “Stand Up and Shout”. I don’t have that version but it’s either Oni Logan or Ripper Owens singing so it should be good.
As with any tribute there are some hit or misses. As a whole This Is Your Life is a fitting tribute for Ronnie and with all the proceeds going to the Stand Up and Shout cancer fund that was set up after his passing it’s even more fitting.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space

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Herman Rarebell & Friends-Acoustic Fever

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I guess it’s fitting that Herman Rarebell, the ex-drummer of The Scorpions, would do something so Scorpions. What I mean is that band has the tendency to release lots of unnecessary material. Others might say milking the cash cow. There are probably more live/best of albums from the Scorpions than there is original albums. That being said, Herman did give an interesting twist in releasing Acoustic Fever. The album is13-tracks of songs he co-wrote done acoustically and features a different singer on each song.

 

At first glance this does have Deadline Presents written allover it. There is Jack Russel, Don Dokken, and, Paul Shortino singing and they were staples of those awful “tribute” records. However, since Herman wrote these songs there is a strong attachment evident and he does a real nice job in converting the songs to acoustic. Accompanying him are guitarist Robby Lochner and Dario Seixas both of Great White. The Jack Russell version, as he takes the helm on “Don’t Make No Promises” from Animal Magnetism. It’s a good interpretation, retains feel of the original but nothing earth shattering. The title track from that album is done by Michael Nagy. Seemingly a local California guy Herman knows. It gets a flamenco makeover and comes out quite nice.

 

Some of the other highlights are “Loving You Sunday Morning” with Michael Voss of MSG. It’s like if Sheryl Crow did the version and I mean that in a good way. Someone apparently pulled John “Naughty Naughty” Parr out of his cave and his version of “Passion Rules The Game” is perfect for a soundtrack to St. Elmo’s Fire 2. He does a nice job in making the song fit his style and making it his.

 

The real standout of the album is “Is There Anybody There” with Alex Ligertwood of Santana fame singing. There is some orchestral accompaniment but his voice and Lochner’s guitar makes you forget about the original. Just a tremendous mix of power and lament.

 

As unnecessary as Acoustic Fever may have seemed, Herman Rarebell did a great job in making this album enjoyable. A lot of energy was done in remaking these tracks and it delivered. The problem is that while it is quite good at times it just makes me want to go dig out my Scorpions albums and listen to the originals.

 

I guess he wins either way.

 

 

Final Rating, I would be happy paying…

 

 

$14.99-Regular priced CD

 

$9.99-get it from iTunes or Amazon

 

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

 

$1.00-finding it at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

 

$0-Not worth the drive space

 

 

 

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Tracii Guns League of Gentlemen-The First Album

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It’s a shame.

It’s just a shame that so many people will not give this a listen because Tracii Guns name is forefront. I think longtime fans are tired of all the bullshit from his on again off again relationship with L.A. Guns and his formation of a second L.A. Guns, that they will not even bother.

It truly is a shame because Tracii Guns’ League of Gentlemen The First Album is one of the best releases of the year.

Seriously, I’m not joking.

You have to give Tracii a lot of credit. He could have formed another band and put out rehashed 80’s hard rock.

Instead he formed a group, a league if you will, of guys that wanted to pay homage to 70’s rock. The First Album is chockful of retro inspired goodness. Front and center in all of this is singer Scott Foster. His voice is very versatile as it can go from bluesy to straight rock and then powerful when needed. The band released a video for “The Sound” which is kind of a misleading indicator for what the rest of the album is. It’s slow and moody a little long but it does show that The League Of Gentlemen are going to be something different. Album opener “Everything, Everything” and “The Witch”really show off the band and their intent. And I do mean band because the organ playing is very crucial to the sound as is the rhythm. I don’t know where Tracii found bassist Craig McCloskey but thank God he did. His playing allows Tracii to venture out more and remind people what a great guitar player he is. From Stones-ish bluesy slide on “Painted Lady” to some absolute acoustic ripping on on the cover of Badfingers’ “Without You”. Scott Foster kills it on this song. Jumping ranges and feelings, it’s terrific. There is also a cover of “One” from Three Dog Night. When it started I wasn’t real enthusiastic but the band gives it a nice reworking especially drummer Doni Gray’s cymbals.

Some people may harp that there is a lot of Zepplin influence here, there is, but it’s not like Kingdom Come or someone else where they’re aping them. This is more of an homage to them and other 70’s British and American rock bands. It’s funny because Rival Sons are doing the same thing and they are critical darlings, and deservedly so. The shame is that so many people will not give this a chance because Tracii’s name is on it so they are automatically going to think it’s going to be L.A. Guns Mach 12. Unfortunate, because The First Album should be getting all kinds of praise from Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. But because of the off stage idiocy attached to Tracii’s name it will be ignored.

Their loss. Tracii Guns League Of Gentlemen is one of the best albums of the year.

Seriously, I’m not joking.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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Adrenaline Mob-Coverta

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Since I just reviewed Anthrax’s cover album Anthems, I guess it makes sense to do the same for Adrenaline Mob’s collection of covers Coverta. While I was not a fan of their debut album Omerta, maybe someone else’s songs will help change my mind.

It kicks off with “Hive Wire” originally done by the criminally underrated Badlands. It’s a pretty faithful cover but while Russell Allen may be a good vocalist, he pales in comparison to Ray Gillen. All this version does is make me want to go listen to Badlands some more. There is a really rocking version of The Doors “Break On Through”. The band does a nice job in using a funky bass instead of an organ. Adrenaline Mob made this there own song. The same was accomplished with Van Halen’s “Romeo’s Delight. Heavied it up, sped it up, and added a touch from Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” while rounding it out with a pinch of “Top Jimmy”. Speaking of Zepplin, there is a version of “Lemon Song”. While it is a rather basic cover of the song, it really shows off how good of musicians the band is, so it’s acceptable. Sort of finishing it out is “Barracuda” by Heart. This is basically a note for note re-recording and sounds exactly as you think it would. The best thing I can say about it, is that it is the only track that does not have the same crappy guitar tone that permeates throughout the album.

I say “sort of finishes” because there are 3 Ronnie James Dio song’s on here. Granted they cover different bands he sang with, it still seems odd. We have “Stand Up and Shout” from his solo days, “Kill The King” from Rainbow and “Mob Rules” from his Black Sabbath days. All of them are as expected covers and seem more fitting for playing as an encore than expecting someone to play for them. I really wish they would have chose just one of his songs, especially if it was one we haven’t heard countless times.

After this I guess it’s safe to say I am not a fan of Adrenaline Mob. Be it original or cover tunes, I don’t care. Coverta, is a bland collection of songs we have heard before done in exactly the way we thought they would be.

Ughh.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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Stryper-The Covering

Every time I see a band release one of these all covers albums, I cringe. For the most part they all reek of cash grabs or contract fulfillment. Usually they are without any hint of originality or fun, which is sad because the songs should reflect that music that got them excited as kids. Sadly, The Covering, the collection from Stryper is just like the ones I mentioned. I was curious to see which songs the band chose since everyone knows Stryper for being a Christian hard rock group. Most of the songs they picked are typical of what a group of guys growing up in the early 80’s would have listened to. There are the Scorpions, Black Sabbath, KISS, Ozzy, Maiden, Judas Priest and Van Halen songs present. About the only “surprise” is the opener, a cover of Sweet’s “Set Me Free”. While the band does a nice job in retaining the spirit of the original here, it cannot be said of the others. It all starts to sound like background noise at your local bar with a well produced cover act on stage.

What is most disappointing about The Covering is the song selection. Too many of them were obvious choices or did not fit the bands ability. So I will do something a little different and go track by track and review and offer my suggestion for what they should have done.

Set Me Free”, by The Sweet. I liked this one as it was a little different and also not the obvious song to pick from that bands catalog.

Blackout”, by The Scorpions. Not a bad cover but not a good one either. With Michael Sweet’s high range, one of the Scorps’ slower songs like “Still In Love With You” may have been better. I know that it is a hit but “Blackout” is one of that bands biggest songs as well.

Heaven and Hell”, by Black Sabbath. Great choice of a Dio era Sabbath song and no complaints about this one.

Lights Out”, by UFO. Such a great song and Stryper does it justice. My only other choice for them would have been “Love To Love”.

Carry On My Wayward Son”, by Kansas. This radio rock staple just comes across as so cover band. When I hear this I imagine drunk 50 year-old’s swaying in front of the stage and singing every other line as the struggle with consciousness. I think “Play the Game Tonight” would have been a lot more enjoyable.

Highway Star”, by Deep Purple. This was a bad idea. Robert’s voice sounds way too clean for this and Oz Fox cannot play Blackmore. I may have gone with “Comin Home” or another song that had Coverdale on vocals.

Shout It Out Loud”, by KISS. Not one of KISS’ best songs but we all have KISS songs that we love that we probably shouldn’t. The inherent obstacle with choosing a KISS song is that almost all of them are about sex and that does not jive with Stryper’s belief. So you have to go with a Paul song, especially since his vocals would work for Stryper. “Tomorrow” or maybe “100,000 years”

Over the Mountain”, by Ozzy. This is just plain atrocious. Micheal’s vocals do not work and the guitar playing is horrendous. I would have stayed away from Ozzy because his stuff is so iconic and his vocals do not easily match up with Michael’s range. “Rock N Roll Rebel” would have been the best choice just on song title alone.

The Trooper”, by Iron Maiden. As bad as you think the Ozzy track is, this is ten times worse. Just a really, really bad idea. It reeks of cover band at your corner sports bar so much that you actually feel bad. If anything they should have chosen one of Maiden’s poppier tracks to better ft them. “Can I Play with Madness” would have been so much better of a choice.

Breaking the Law” by Judas Priest. Again sports bar cover band here as well. Just very very blah and with these choices of heavier bands it sounds like the band is in over there head. They seem a pace behind and it does not work. “Love Bites” or “Hot Rockin” if someone would have asked me.

On Fire” by Van Halen. I do applaud the choice on this one. Not an obvious one but once again, the original vocals do not translate well to Stryper. God made only one Diamond Dave and we should all respect that. You figure that of all the bands, Stryper would know that. I really wish the band would have showed a little self deprecation and done “Runnin With The Devil” the high range would fit and the band would have gotten major points for it.

Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin. Covering Zeppelin is a very tricky endeavor. They are such an iconic band and their stuff is so well known that any deviation is almost heresy. So this is a almost no-win situation and they did a good job here.

The album finishes up with the lone original track, “God”. I will let you guess what the subject matter is but sonically it is definitely classic Stryper

After the disc finishes playing I do not know how many people will be anxiously waiting to replay it. Only a handle full of the covers are decent and while the new song is good, it is not that good. With The Covering, Stryper showed everyone the bands that caused them to start playing. While I think every band has makes up this kind of list, this one should have been left in the jam room.

 

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