Tag Archives: kiss

[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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Top 5 Live Albums That Mean The Most Personally

Once again to get myself out of a writing drought I have stolen an idea for an article from a podcast. A recent episode of the Decibel Geek Podcast had Luc Carl the Ayatollah of Jack & Cola and a Sirius/XM host on their show. During this episode they listed their 5 most personal live albums. These are not the best live albums in their opinions but the ones that meant the most to them personally. It was an interesting episode and as one that liked making lists, sounded like a fun exercise.

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5)Dokken-One Night Live-There always has to be an odd choice, doesn’t there? I know people are thinking if you are going to chose a Dokken live album, why not Beast From The East? It is a great album after all. True but it came out when that genre was at it’s apex and I wasn’t that big a Dokken fan back then. Fast forward 8 years later and Seattle has wiped away Dokken and all of their contemporaries. After a couple years of the grunge scene, the morose flannel wearers had gotten boring and people remembered they liked blow jobs. While Japan did embrace grunge they never shunned bands like Dokken. So after a very good reunion album, get the Japanese version, they got the band to do an live acoustic one too. To be honest it is pseudo-acoustic as George in plugged in. One Night Live showed how great the band is and it is a nice snapshot of those guys enjoying the music they created with each other. They did a nice job of reworking their songs to fit acoustically. Plus it’s where we first heard their cover of “In The Beginning” and “Nowhere Man”. The reason this resonated with me so much as it was a life line in some dire music times. While I did enjoy a lot of the Seattle stuff , the Dokken reunion helped re-ignite my love for the cockrock of 80’s & 90’s Hard Rock.

Maiden
4)Iron Maiden-Live After Death-Iron Maiden is a gateway band and I mean that as a compliment. I think most rock fans around my age grew liking KISS and as we got older wanting something new, Iron Maiden filled that bill. The way their album covers attracted fans could not be overstated. They were a huge draw to the teenage metalhead. Then upon hearing them it was all over. The dueling guitars and Bruce Dickinson’s air raid vocals you were hooked. Maiden was a great pathway to the Metallica’s & Slayer’s we later discovered. Live After Death was the first live album that featured Bruce and the band was arguably at their peak. Even to this day it holds up. Plus, think how many American kids know the Churchill speech just from listening to this album.

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3)-Wings-Wings Over America-If you have cable you’ve probably seen the Wings concert “Rock Show” in the past couple of months. That is the more or less visual equivalent of the Wings Over America album. And if you’ve seen it you know how good the band was. When I was a kid my Dad was a huge Beatles fan and in turn I became one too. I took his copy of the White Album and traced a ball pen over the raised logo. He was not happy. So he had this album and in turn I had this album playing the 3 LP release incessantly. At first I was drawn to “Magneto & Titanium Man” because it was a song about comic book villains and I loved comics. But in true McCartney brilliance it was also a very catchy song. “Jet”,”Live and Let Die”, “Silly Love Songs” and the Beatles tracks still hold up to this day.

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2)-Thin Lizzy-Life Live-Much like my Dokken choice, you are wondering why I chose this Thin Lizzy album instead of the much ballyhooed Live & Dangerous. Well, I came to be a Thin Lizzy fan a bit late in the game. Late being, they had just broken up. I read a blurb in my copy of Hit Parader, remember those, about the band calling it quits and recording several of the farewell shows. Several months later I saw the finished product in my local Sound Warehouse. It is an absolute stunner. The playing on it is so goddamned good and Phil is Phil in all his glory. It is a great showing of the bands history but it really showcased the recently released Thunder & Lightning. Add on that you get to hear a young John Sykes showing what he is capable of. Around that time I had just started getting into Gary Moore and knew he was once a member of Thin Lizzy. He’s here too and all of them play together on the finale “Rocker” and Sykes blows everyone off the stage.
This is a big album for me as it started me down the road to Lizzy fandom. Been obsessed with them every since as well as Gary Moore and whatever John Sykes is doing. Hell, I even bought the 21 Guns album that Scott Gorham did. It’s strange reading the Lynott biography and seeing how people hate the sound because I love it.

Alive_2_cover
1)-KISS-Alive II-I don’t know if people nowadays understand just how huge KISS was back in the day. Being a teenager during this time, they were my biggest obsession. The first time I heard them was when my uncle gave me his copy of Originals. I still have that on my shelf. The first song I learned the words to was “Making Love” even tough I had no idea what making love meant. So by the time Alive II was released they were my band. When you opened the album’s gatefold the pics inside showing the band in all its glory is beyond spectacular. At that time the only other time you would’ve seen this was either at a show or in CREEM or Hit Parader. It was everything a fan could dream of. After dropping down the needle, what came through the speakers was bliss. 3 sides of the Hottest Band In The Land doing what they do best. Plus there was Side 4 that had new songs. WHAT?!?! New songs too ?!?! Out of the 5 tracks 3 of them are keepers. I think they played “All American Man” live a couple years ago. “Rocket Ride” is arguably one of the best Ace songs, top 5 at least.
Even though I haven’t listened to the live stuff in years, it’s still my favorite live album for how it sucked me into the KISS vortex.
So there is my list in all its’ confusing glory. Unlike some of the other lists I’ve done I am pretty confident these picks.
What are your Top 5 live albums?

PS

Here’s the link to the Decibel Geek Podcast episode

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Sharon Osbourne is miserable cunt that should go away

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Last week with the unveiling of the new iPhones, Apple also announced that they had given all customers free copies of a new and unannounced U2 album. Soon afterwards the internet shit their pants. Not because this was a free album by an iconic band. Nor was it because this is another volley in the changing of the music business landscape. No, the internet freaked out because this was another way to kick dirt on U2. Now I am not a U2 fan. I think I’ve owned one album from the group. But the backlash they received was mind boggling because U2 is not the first act to pull this. Jay Z did it with Samsung and his old lady Beyonce followed suit. Now they did get a little flack but not near the level Bono and boys have. One of those critics is the reason I am writing this. Music mogul, manager, and camera whore, Sharon Osbourne offered up her opinion.

“U2 you are business moguls not musicians anymore. No wonder you have to give your mediocre music away for free cause no one wants to buy it.”

Now anyone that knows who she is should find this statement laughable on many levels. She took her husband Ozzy Osbourne, and transformed him from a bat biting, Alamo pissing on, Devil worshiping Heavy Metal singer to a clumsy lovable Dad via reality TV makeover. With that makeover came a truck load of bobble heads, T-shrts, lunchboxes, and other kitschy crap that kept Hot Topic and Spencer Gifts in the black. None of this was done for the sake of music it was to expand his profile and business. It created new revenue streams because, let’s be honest, he hasn’t released a good album in about two decades. Sharon in her incredible foresight saw the changing record industry and broke him away from the metal genre turning him into a pop culture icon. She created Ozzfest as a touring festival so he could get the rub from the upcoming metal acts while at the same time positioning him as a musical deity when years before he could not fill most arenas. Then all the TV shows, don’t forget the variety show she had so her talent less kids could get more undeserved airtime. Again, she had turned him into a brand. Music was just a branch of a growing music business tree.
And kudos to her.
She learned just like The Beatles and Elvis and KISS did, make that money while you can. However, she went from being a shrewd business manager to an egomaniac cunt. From the show she made herself a star and it all went downhill. She has picked fights with almost 90% of the music business and never looked good doing it. From not giving Bob Daisley or Lee Kerslake proper credit. To stealing all writing credits from Jake E Lee for Bark At The Moon. To suing Tony Iommi for 50% of the rights to Black Sabbath. She did this to insure that all 4 original members would share equally from the name.

That is the definition of fuzzy math.

It then came as a surprise that leading up to the Sabbath reunion drummer Bill Ward said he was not participating because he was not getting a fair offer. Her lawsuit to get everyone 25% each quickly turned into Bill getting a reported 4%. As disgusting as that was, and it was, she made a business decision because she knew musically Ozzy doesn’t have it anymore.
So her remarks about the U2-Apple deal were puzzling. Yes, U2 are business moguls just as she is. They cut a great deal with Apple for this album plus I’m sure there is another deal to use U2 music in future ads for a certain amount of time. When they release the physical copies of the album in a couple months they’ll get more talk from this Apple deal. Again, get that money. Even more puzzling about her remarks is many bands of the Metal genre have done something similar. The Melvins, among others, have released free EP’s through a relationship with auto manufacturer Scion. Converse sneakers have offered similar arrangements.
I’m starting to think that the reason she is mad is because she wasn’t able to pull this off. For all of her work in making Ozzy bigger than the genre but to corporate America he is still the vile guy that killed a dove. So since she couldn’t make it happen she’s criticizing those that did. I still bet that in a couple years will see a deal with Ozzy and Burger King and she’ll sing a different tune.

Just like Ozzy’s it will probably suck.

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Ace Frehley-Space Invader

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In the lead up for release of his new album, Space Invader, Ace Frehley was saying he was going to out KISS, KISS. I got a chuckle out of it not because KISS’ latest release Monster was anything special. It was just that Ace does not have the best track record. From the Frehley’s Comets stuff up til Anomaly, there was some great songs but not a great album. Well Ace has broke that trend and really knocked it one out of the park with Space Invader.

Space Invader is 12 tracks of everything that is great about Ace Frehley. Hooky as hell hard rock with lots of his signature playing over it. From the jump there’s the title track, “Gimme A Feelin’”, “I Wanna Hold You”, three songs that Gene and Paul probably wish they did. “Gimme A Feelin’” might be one of Ace’s best songs ever. “Toys”,“Immoral Pleasures” and “Reckless” all seems to be Ace dealing with some of his past dalliances. I believe that he’s finally out of that dark tunnel so they all have a good feel to them.

The first track I heard from this album was a cover of Steve Miller’s “The Joker” and I was not too impressed. It has a more laid back feel to it than the original plus the guitar is distorted as hell. However, as I’ve listened to this album over an over, I have since changed my mind. Now I absolutely love it and that laid back feel I mentioned earlier is more like a drunken singalong at 3am vibe.

The only complaint one might have is that he misses having another voice in the band. “Change” is a real good song but with it’s slower and heavier tone, a Todd Howarth or Ritchie Scarlet who are actual singers could have taken it to another level.

Singing is not what Ace is known for it’s what he does with a guitar. And this is some of his best guitar playing in a long time. I don’t know if all this Hall Of Fame drama stirred something up inside him but he has the sound and attitude that made me love him when I was a kid. But at the same time showing a lot of growth, especially on the the instrumental album closer “Starship”. While it does harken back to the “Fractured Mirror” tracks, it’s a lot smarter and mature than anything else he’s done.

Don’t know what’s gotten in Ace Frehley but hopefully it finds it’s way over to his ex-bandmates. This is a return to form that people were hoping for. Space Invader might be the best KISS related album in over 20 years,

Ace is back and he told you so.

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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KISS in the 80’s aka Scott looks back fondly on his teenage years

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One of my favorite podcasts, ROCK AND OR ROLL SHOW, just did an episode on KISS in the 80’s. In that episode they went over each KISS album from that decade, talking about each album plus all the band happenings. At the end of the episode, the two hosts chose their Top 10 songs from that decade of KISS. Me being a sucker of music lists, got inspired and decided to do one of my own. Please listen to the podcast as it’s very well done and has oodles of KISS trivia.
I grew up with KISS, they are my band. The band that no matter what they do you still like them. Even when you don’t. I remember my Uncle Brian giving me his copy of The Originals and being entranced. I watched the dreadful KISS Meets the Phantom Of The Park and loved it. Still do today but on another level. The big turn for me was the release of Dynasty. When my Dad said he liked a couple songs I knew something was wrong. Then the 80’s hit and my favorite band was just another act. When I looked at the cover for Unmasked and the comic has someone saying “They Stink” on it, it was telling. Line-up changes and dwindling sales turned KISS from being the “biggest band in the world” to just another rock act. So I re-listened to the albums from Unmasked through Hot In The Shade. Ironically the biggest selling album of the decade was Smashes, Thrashes, & Hits, a compilation with 2 new tracks neither I wanted to remember.

cover_unmasked_large

The aforementioned Unmasked was released in 1980. It would be drummer Peter Criss’ last official album as he had one foot out the door. Like all of the 80’s albums, it is very hit or miss. The productions is way off. I don’t know if it’s because they just did the disco album or if producer Vini Poncia felt just like Peter.”Shandi” was the single and I bought the 45, it’s around here somewhere. In hindsight it is a very lackluster love song and I still have not met anyone named Shandi. Got to say I’m a little disappointed by that. My pre-teen mind did not understand but was still fascinated by some of the odd song titles, “Torpedo Girl” & “She’s So European”. That and the opening line of , cats drooling on the bar stool, from “Is That You” still makes me smile to this day. Although it took me years to realize he didn’t mean a feline when referencing cat. There are two songs from this album I still like. “Is That You” and “Tomorrow”. Both Paul songs with the second one being just a perfect pop rock gem.

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Next is the very odd Music From “The Elder”. This concept album was supposed to be the catalyst for a movie. Never happened and after listening you know why. Poor Eric Carr gets his big break in joining KISS and this is what happen. Also, over hyped and glorified one hit wonder Lou Reed did some writing with them insuring that this would be KISS” worst LP. I remember staying up late to watch them on the show Fridays. They did “World Without Heroes” a ballad where Gene literally sheds a tear and “The Oath”. The only song I really like is “I”. Very upbeat, uplifting rocker that is a motivational poster in audio. Plus having Paul and Gene both sings lead is pretty cool too.

kisscreatures
1982 ushered in another change for KISS. Guitarist Ace Frehley and his car lost a fight with a tree and he exits. Even though he is on the cover of Creatures Of The Night, he doesn’t play on it. Most of it is done by his replacement Vinnie Vincent who also co-wrote a bunch of songs. This album is a welcome return to the bands hard rock roots. “I Love It Loud” was all over MTV and “War Machine” became a staple of entrance themes for pro wrestlers. Watching Humongous use it coming to the ring back in the Mid-South days.

The standout track is the title track a full on metal song and one of the heaviest for the band.

kisslick
That was supposed to be a comeback album for KISS but it did not sell well. I guess The Elder put a stench on the band that could not be washed away so quickly. KISS ditched the makeup and released Lick It Up. The not too subtle named album was a big seller and had two big videos from it. The title track and “All Hell’s Breaking Loose”. Both featured a post-apocalyptic world that was in vogue back then.
Thank you The Road Warrior.
Lots of people, including the podcast, do not like “Breaking Loose” but I love it. Paul’s rap is so Paul that I don’t see how you could not like it. Plus it has an infectious guitar riff.

During this decade Gene started dabbling in other things and his songs really took a backseat. However, his sexual innuendo laden “Fits Like A Glove” I really like. Now it might be due to hearing this as I was going through puberty.

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1984 had the band replacing another member. Out went Vinnie Vincent and in came Mark St. John. Animalize is his only appearance as Reiter’s Syndrome forced him out of playing. “Heaven’s On Fire” was the hit but it was “too simple” for me. I did like “Thrills In The Night” but the album as a whole was kind of boring. They really missed having Vinnie Vincent as a writer. If KISS would have recorded some of the songs from his Invasion album…..

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The year of 1985 was same song, different day for KISS. Guitarist Mark St. John was out and Bruce Kulick was in. He had been touring in place of St. John but Asylum was his recording debut. The videos for this album are hideous. Bright colors, fringe, and volcanoes, just ewwww. Unfortunately those images are what people remember and not the songs. “Tears Are Falling” was the lead video and warning image. Nice song that featured curtains being ripped down which somehow became a staple in the 80’s.

Asylum was a showcase for Paul’s songwriting. The standout track for me was “Who Wants To Be Lonely?”. He just knows how to write a catchy love song.

Thankfully, with Gene dabbling in acting Paul made sure we did not go without a sex song. The working for the weekend anthem got turned on it’s literal back for “UH All Night”. The sex sells idea of the 80’s was on full display here. However I think this is where the “Paul Is Gay” rumors start. That captains hat paired with his open chest was a curious choice.

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Crazy Nights broke the revolving guitarist streak. The album reflected the band actually having a steady lineup. Still Simmons was off doing things so Kulick got more writing time. They even let him do some shredding on the lone good Gene track “No No No”. KISS also brought in Desmond Child and Dianne Warren. Yes that Dianne Warren, she of the Aerosmith ballad lame, I mean fame. The host of the podcast, BJ,  loved her track “Turn On the Night” but I found it too Bon Jovi with its keyboard popness.


The title track was interesting since the video had Gene and Paul putting the makeup back on. It was a pretty good song too even though the standing up for yourself lyrics had grown tired by then.


The other notable song is “Reason To Believe”. Paul and Desmond created a terrific ballad that is right in Paul’s wheelhouse. It fit in with the 80’s hard rock at the time but it was still KISS.

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Next up was the Smashes, Thrashes, & Hits compilation. For a greatest hits collection it was alright, it did touch on all their history. But it also had Eric Carr re-record “Beth” which he, and the fans, were not too fond of. Paul wrote both of the new tracks and they were as subtle as a pool party at the Hustler mansion. “(You Make Me) Rock Hard” and “Let’s Put The X in Sex” try way too hard and would have been better off left on the demo pile.

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The Eighties finished up with Hot In The Shade. Rolling Stone magazine made a list of Top 10 KISS records and they had this #10. To be fair there is some good stuff but is weighed down with 15 songs, about 5 too many. It has “Hide Your Heart”which former KISS guitarist Ace Frehley covered and was on his solo album that came out a week before KISS’. It is a Stanley/Child song that did not make it on Crazy Nights and was offered to other artists, but still. I do like KISS’ version a lot.

Paul’s love for ballads had him co-write a song with future white man of soul Michael Bolton on “Forever”. Another great ballad from Paul and it was a big hit for the band, even landing in the Top 10.

Interestingly, there are two Gene tracks that he co-wrote with future KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer. Neither are worth writing home about. Eric Carr finally got the chance to sing on “Little Caesar”. It has a nice chorus but the riff is kind of generic. Shame he didn’t get a chance to sing more.
So there was the overview on the 80’s KISS albums. After sorting through them, warts and all, here is my….

Top 10 KISS tracks of the 80’s
10)-Fits Like A Glove
9)-Uh! All Night
8)-Is That You?
7)-All Hell’s Breaking Loose
6)-Who Wants To Be Lonely
5)-War Machine
4)-Forever
3)-I
2)-Tomorrow
1)-Creatures Of The Night
I’ve switched these around several times in the past day. If you asked my next week I might have a different list.
What do you think?

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bbq

There must be something about the water in Finland. Between that country and its’ neighbor Sweden, they have had a renaissance of 80’s hard rock/glam. Even weirder is that a lot of it is rather good. So the newest addition to the Sunset Strip Wayback Party is Barbe-Q Barbies. They are an all-female quintet that is more Sass Jordan than Vixen. Just like their Finnish contemporaries, they seem to be very image conscience. Glancing at the album cover, lots of bare midriffs and lets just say they are all lookers. While that may be appealing in one way, it can make one very wary. We hard rock/metal fans have been deluged as of late with scantily clad female musicians that seem more interested in posing than playing. I guess I was spoiled growing up with Doro, Lita Ford, Girlschool, and Bitch. While they may have done an occasional provocative pose or two but you always knew they meant business. Nowadays, you have Huntress where there are more pics of her boobs hanging out than there are of them covered. The singer from In This Moment is good but it seems like she is Katy Perry half the time. Don’t get me started with Butcher Babies, two girls who perform topless to distract from their shitty music. The fact they are doing it is one thing but the fact that Revolver and Liquid Metal gives them any attention is another.

 

All that is a shame because it’s making it harder for Barbe-Q Barbies and others that are trying to be taken seriously.

 

Back story aside, how is Breaking All The Rules? Incredibly cliche titles aside, the band is good. The singer has a nice voice with some grit to it. Best comparison is to imagine if Gwen Stefani grew up 10 years earlier and listened to L.A. glam instead of ska. The rest of the band is capable but lacking. While the songs may be simple they are kind of catchy but there is something missing. It may be the producers fault because every song has the same tone. It really does a disservice because there is several real good songs. First single “STFU” is a great rocker with a little dance in it.

 

“One More (And I’ll Be Gone)” perfectly conveys the lyrical theme of drinking the break-up away. True to form there is a ballad, the maudlin titled “Gun In My Hand”. Here the singer cranks up a extra layer of grit and adds some nice emotion as well. The one glaring problem is she repeats the title almost 10 times per verse. Again, I think a better producer would have corrected this.

 

I think what Barbe-Q Barbies show on Breaking All The Rules is that there is a lot of potential here. The band seems to be in this for the music and if you look at their Facebook page they seem to tour regularly. Hopefully they’ll keep working hard and their label will get them a proper producer.

 

 

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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A look at Sirius/XM for the Metalheads

 

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Satellite radio has been around for awhile and I finally jumped on board a year ago. My job requires me to drive a lot so I am in my car a lot. I used Pandora and my iTunes a lot but there is just something about a radio station. I heard Sirius/XM when I was with an ex. Driving around in her car I got a good opportunity to hear what was offered. Sadly, that was the only positive experience I got from that horrible horrible woman. I loved how this product satisfied my musical tastes, all of them. However I just want to focus on the ones that service the heavier stuff. With the Clear Channel effect all over our terrestrial radio dial, satellite is something that metalheads should really look into. The channels I want to concentrate on are Channels 38 to 40, Ozzy’s Boneyard, Hair Nation, and Liquid Metal.

ozzyBoneyard, I refuse to use the Ozzy label because of the horrible woman that is Sharon Osbourne, is a really good classic hard rock/metal station. They do a real nice job of mixing stuff up so you are not hearing “Iron Man” every 30 minutes. Band selection is nice, besides the obvious, Sabbath, Priest, Maiden, you get Tank, and Diamond Head and a plethora of others. You will find yourself saying “I haven’t heard that in a while” a lot. No shows except for an hour hosted by Jim Norton and Ultimate Sinner where a listener gets to pick 5 songs. A nice little feature. They occasionally play some new music from veteran bands already on the play list. Music wise, it is a great listen that you will have no problem leaving on for hours straight.

The big drawback to me is the Ozzy affiliation. Granted I probably hate Sharon way more than anyone else. And that hatred has tarnished Ozzy’s music to me. I cannot even listen to his era of Black Sabbath anymore because of her but I can overlook that most of the time. What bugs me is that every promo for the station is Ozzy related. From him mumbling about some story from 1984 or hearing Sharon or one of their idiotic kids tell a story about him, it’s stomach churning. The ball washing gets worse when they have famous metal musicians talk about how great Ozzy is. It is really sickening and it is the main reason I change the channel.

hairNext on the dial, is Channel 39 Hair Nation. As the name suggests it has all the bands from 80’s and 90’s with big hair that were the lifeblood of Headbangers Ball. This was the station that really hooked me one getting Sirius/XM. I remember driving with the awful ex and on came Sleez Beez. C’mon where else are you going to hear Sleez Beez? When I first got the radio I remember hearing a D:A:D song and thinking this was the greatest purchase that I ever made. What I didn’t realize is that they would play that same song over and over again. I know I am in my car a lot but it is like bad FM radio overkill. Then I noticed that they did this a lot. Heard “Gimme Your Love” from McAuley Schenker Group and got that D:A:D happy feeling. Then I heard it again and again. The station has a pattern of pulling out a band and playing their hit. Then they play that song over and over and then put that band back on the shelf. Why they won’t play another song I have no idea. They will however play the fuck out of Bon Jovi. Someone there loves them some Bon Jovi because you will l hear a BJ song every 30 minutes and that is not a good thing. I seriously think that Bon Jovi has a deal with this channel similar to what Ozzy has with Boneyard. This station never plays new music even though many of the bands the play have released new material. They did however play the new Richie Sambora single, furthering my Bon Jovi conspiracy theory. Plus they do not have a listener show like the other two stations do. This went from being one of my favorites to being one that I hit and run on. Hair Nation is also the home to Eddie Trunk who has a show on Monday night. However he plays more stuff you hear on Boneyard but that vile cunt Sharon had him kicked off that channel because he dared to criticize Ozzy.

sirius_xm_liquid_metalLast but not least is Channel 40, Liquid Metal. They play all of the new metal bands plus lots of the originators. When I say Metal I mean METAL. Cannibal Corpse, Slipknot, High On Fire, real heavy stuff. They do a nice job of crossing the many genres of Metal. Thrash, death, stoner, black you name it. Liquid Metal also does a great job on featuring new bands and letting listeners know when an important album is coming out. Occasionally they play some bands that are better off on Octane, a channel for new Hard Rock, but that is being picky. They also have Listener Domination, their show lets a listener a chance to pick three songs and say why. One of my favorite things about the station is Bloody Roots a show hosted by renowned Metal author Ian Christie. He will have a different theme for each show and does a fantastic job of giving tidbits and back story plus lots of the stuff he plays you will not hear any other time.

I think the reason that Boneyard and Liquid Metal are run so well is that Jose Mangin seemingly is in charge of both. His voice is on promos for both channels and they both have a listener show. He is the afternoon host and some may remember him when MTV did a Headbangers Ball special. He is a nice enough guy that obviously loves Metal. However he kind of bugs me. Maybe because he is always UP or maybe it is that he still has a faux hawk and still wears Affliction shirts. Logic would dictate that he would be in charge of Hair Nation as well and if so he is doing a shitty job.

Earlier I mentioned Octane on Channel 37. They play modern hard rock a long the lines of In This Moment, Chevelle, and Sevendust. It’s not a bad station I listen occasionally but a lot of what they play I don’t care for.

Yes I do realize there is a huge “Kids these days” factor present.

While I have become disappointed in Hair Nation and the Ozzy ass kissing makes me want to puke on my passenger seat, but I cannot recommend getting Sirius/XM enough. It really satisfies my musical desires plus there is a bunch of other great stuff available. I love being able to go from Mastodon to Glen Miller to listening to an Astros game. I got the Onyx model and I am able to take that from my car to another car or inside. Terrific if you drive more than one vehicle plus you can listen to it on your smartphone or online from your computer.

Seriously go get it.

Now.

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KISS-Monster

kiss

I know the 13 year-old in me is shocked that I was not looking forward to a new album from childhood idols KISS. If Monster was anything like it’s post reunion predecessors, I just couldn’t take it. The band released “Hell Or Hallelujah” as an early single. This was supposed to announce to the doubtful, that the band is back to its’ rockin’ ways. To emphasize it they proudly exclaimed that there were no ballads. Which was curious since the bands biggest hits were ballads. Anyway, back to the first song. Many in the rock world loved how it sounded like old school KISS. And I wholeheartedly agree with them, “Hell Or Hallelujah” does sound like vintage KISS. Unfortunately, it’s because the song sounds “eerily” like “I Stole Your Love”. But since AC/DC and Slayer have been playing the same song for decades so why not KISS? It is a good song after all.

But that is just one song out of an album of 12. While the opener is a good track, my favorite may be the closer “Last Chance. This song truly echoes the classic KISS sound without aping it. “Freak” is another keeper that has some beef to it and would easily fit with Revenge era material. Just like all their other releases, lead vocals are split almost evenly between Stanley and Simmons with Ace and Peter given one each.

Oops, I meant Tommy and Eric.

It is a tad curious that the one song that Tommy sings lead on is “Outta This World”. You don’t think that it’s just a tad coincidental that the guy now wearing the Spaceman makeup writes a song title like that do you? In all fairness it is a good tune despite is “curious” song title. Now, the Eric song is blatant bait and switch on Peter Criss’ legacy. “All For The Love Of Rock N Roll” has a very bluesy soulful sound that was right in the Catman’s wheelhouse. Tacky and not good either.

I want to talk about these two members without delving too far into the makeup controversy. While I’m not a big fan of it, I’m not outraged. Eric is a monster drummer so if that what it takes to keep him in the band I’m cool. Tommy is another matter. He is a very serviceable guitarist but KISS shouldn’t have serviceable guitarists. Put it this way, after Bruce Kulick left KISS he made two terrific albums with Union. Prior to joining KISS Tommy Thayer was in Black N Blue a 3rd tier glam band whose only notoriety was that Gene was their manager and on his own label. Not comparable.

After all is said and done Monster is a very spotty album. Couple good songs and a couple that have you hit fast forward. It is a somewhat success in that it’s a step in the right direction. Compare it to Metallica and Death Magnetic. Not their best effort but gives hope that the band can get back to their past glory.

 

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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Black ‘N Blue-Hell Yeah

 

Black ‘N Blue is an interesting band. Interesting in that what they are best known for has nothing to do with their music. What they are best known for their connections to KISS. Black ‘N Blue was the first band signed by Gene Simmons and was his pet project. Sadly, the hype wore off and did not result in any memorable songs. When the band faded away, their legacy was now being known as the training ground for future Ace Frehley imitator/replacement guitarist Tommy Thayer. My big recollection of them was that their CD’s were never available in the States but had been in Japan. I remember seeing them available on eBay for $150 for the 3 of them.

You have to love collectors.

Like many of their peers, Black ‘N Blue reformed and have released several new albums including their latest offering Hell Yeah. Now I would like to say that Black ‘N Blue have followed RATT and Warrant in releasing a good album. However, my Mom always told me that it is not nice to lie. Hell Yeah is 15 songs of hard rock banality that proves why Black ‘N Blue are not known for their music.

The album starts out alright with “Monkey” a fine hard rocker and is soon followed by “Hail Hail”. A nice enough ode to rock n roll, a theme that is sorely lacking in today’s songs. Unfortunately, that is about it. The rest of the album is just filler, lots and lots of filler with nothing standing out. The musicianship is decent but nothing notable. Singer Jamie St. James has no real presence in the songs nor does his voice make up for that. It is a little of a misnomer to say that there are actually 15 songs when three of the tracks are jokes. One is about singer Jamie having beer and that shows you the level we are dealing with.

It’s rather fitting that the last song on the album is called “ I Smell a Rat” because this album stinks like a dead rat you would find in the basement. Hell Yeah is the perfect tombstone for a band that should have died the first time around. Fans would best served by saving their money and spending it on lost gem CD’s that were overlooked when the first came out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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