Tag Archives: Scorpions

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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General Surgery-Live An Ever Flying Limb

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There is an old saying, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s true then General Surgery are flattering the pants off of Carcass. It is the grindcore equivalent of what early Krokus or Dirty Looks did to AC/DC. And like those two, who cares because it is awesome. The reason why General Surgery should get praise instead of scorn, is that Like An Ever Flying Limb comes from a place of reverence and worship. Not born out of laziness or a desire to succeed off of someone else.
Like most of there releases Like An Ever Flying Limb is an EP, in fact the running time for the 5-song platter is shorter than a quarter of NFL gametime. Even less is you took out the spoken medical intro dialogue. But again, you don’t care. You’re just happy to get your Caracss fix. Just the opening notes of the album opener/title track will have you moshing in place. That feeling is retained all throughout.
The unsung beauty of this album is it showcases how truly awesome EP’s are. Music wise they get in and get out and every one wins. If they’re good, they leave the listener wanting more. If they’re bad, it was so short it’s not that noticeable. Plus it allows bands that may only have a handful of songs to get them out and not wait around til they have a full LP worth. Or God forbid they do the lazy thing and add on re-recorded versions, live songs, or covers.
Otherwise known as pulling a Scorpions.

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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Arch Enemy-Khaos Legions

 

Arch Enemy has had an interesting career. The death metal band was formed out of the ashes of the legendary Carcass. Arch Enemy quickly found success. Then after 3 well received albums they changed singers. Not only did they switch singers, they hired an unknown female singer to do the unthinkable. Angela Gassow was to sing in the guttural style that had not been done by a woman. She did and the band achieved a new level of success. However, many original fans thought the band sold out original singer Johan Liva and that Gassow was nothing more than a gimmick to appeal to the, then burgeoning, Hot Topic crowd. Arch Enemy did not help themselves any when the next couple of albums were very blah. They lost the aggression and power that were their hallmarks and replaced them with songs that seem more focused on “anthems”. Songs became streamlined and lost their appeal once the were heard the first time.

Khaos Legions is a good step towards reclaiming the laurels of the past. Legions is much more aggressive than more recent releases. It is helped by the improvement of Angela’s vocals. While she did have a nice growl on previous albums, on Legions she has a lot more power and a sinister vibe to them. There is more of a “shredded throat” sound. They should help shed some of the “sellout” feelings that many of her detractors may have had.

The first single from the album “Yesterday Is Dead and Gone” serves as the perfect entree on Khaos Legions. While not that original it is very inviting and seeps into the listener and allows the rest of the album to follow. Plus its features one of the crazier guitar sounds out there. Michael Amott gets his guitar to sound like a computerized baby bird gargling. Arch Enemy has one of the better guitar duos in metal. The Amott brothers do not disappoint this time out. Lots of nice riffs and some real tasty dual harmonies especially on “Vengeance Is Mine”. The band also has 4 instrumentals on here. While they may be short they do give a different feel to the album. The last one “Snow Bound” is an acoustic track that closes Khaos Legions out. However one of the albums highlights comes right before it. Arch Enemy is not afraid to do a cover, and this time they chose a doozy, the classic Scorpions song “The Zoo”. This legendary song is given an animalistic treatment and is faster, rawer, and more brutal than the original but still retaining the identity of the original track.

The whipping boy of any good metal album has always been religion and Khaos Legions is no exception. There seems to be more of a concertinaed effort with 5 songs having that theme. While some might think it is pandering it seems to fit with Angela’s new style.

You have to give Arch Enemy some credit. It must be tough for a band to change that far in the game. While this is not along the levels of what Celtic Frost did, Arch Enemy seems to have tweaked their sound and released in Khaos Legions an album that puts them back on the map.

 

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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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Vince Neil-Tattoos & Tequila

There is nothing more insulting than an artist trying to cash in. This is evident with the release of Tattoos & Tequila from Vince Neil. Of course do not confuse this with his soon to be released autobiography or his new club. I think it is called cross marketing or something.
He has hordes of cash that he bang porn starts on nightly and yet has to reduce himself to the same level as a “tribute” CD that kept Deadline records alive for way too long. Think about it, this is the same thing that Mark Slaughter and Marq Tourquin have to do. Add in the fact that two members of Slaughter are the backing band, guitarist Jeff Blando and bassist Dana Strum, and this has disaster written all over it,
Shockingly, it is not. Vince did a nice job in choosing songs that he obviously loved when he was a kid.  The admiration comes through loud and clear and it adds a layer of fun to it, Naturally there is the requisite Aerosmith track, “Nobody’s Fault”. This is done as the straight ahead rocker that it is but if you have heard the Testament version this really pales in comparison. After that he does a nice job of choosing the obvious band but doing the surprising song. Vince covers the Scorpions on “Another Piece of Meat”. Really superb choice of cover and it fits his style real well. His version of “ACDC” from The Sweet is a nice homage to a very underrated band. You could say the same thing for “He’s A Whore” by Cheap Trick.
There are some curious choices at the end the album. “Who’ll Stop the Rain’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival. To his credit, Vince’s version has more of a country feel to it so he at least tried something different with it. Lastly, there is “Viva Las Vegas”. I know Vince has a huge affinity for Vegas so a tribute should be in order. However, taking such an iconic song and re-working it like he has just comes off as real hokey.
The two original tracks “Tattoos & Tequila” and “Another Bad Day” are decent. The title track is a typical sexually charged song that pole dancers will be using for years. “Another Bad  Day” was written by Nikki Sixx and was originally supposed to be released on Motley Crue’s “New Tattoo” CD. This song is more of a mid-paced melancholy song that echoes what they did when they reunited years ago.
Credit needs to be given to producer Jack Blades, The Night Ranger singer/bassist does a great job in having the band not fall into the habit of sounding like the original or Crue.
All in all, Vince has done a nice job with this disc and if you get it at Best Buy for $8 like I did or iTunes for $10 then you should be happy. Anything more than that and only the hard cores will be happy.

www.vinceneil.net

www.myspace.com/vinceneil

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