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The Top 20 KISS songs of all-time!!! (as of now)

As the 4 people that read my “Best Of 2017” list can attest, I love making music lists. They’re fun. What’s even more fun is arguing about them afterwards. This was confirmed when Eddie Trunk once again did a Top 20 list. Last year he did a Top 20 Aerosmith songs. It was amazing listening to fans call in and express dismay over omissions. It was topped when Tom Morello and other musicians chimed in. hearing them revert to being a fan was very cool.

The success of the Aerosmith list ensured that another was to follow. Naturally, KISS was the choice. Anyone that has listened to Eddie knows that they are his favorite band even if they no longer talk to him. Like him, they are my favorite band too. I don’t go to the shows anymore and the last couple of albums have stunk. Still, the are my faves. When I hear their music I become the same 12 year old as when I first heard them. My uncle Brian introduced them to me when he gave me his copy of The Originals. I still have it to this day. Same as all their other albums I got growing up. Love Gun which I got as a birthday present right before I went on a road trip to Indiana. I was so obsessed I took it with me even though I had no way to play it. The four solo albums I bought from a record store that I would later work at. The Dynasty album that I remember my Dad saying was catchy and I knew something had changed. Not in a good way. Another birthday gift was Unmasked and was disappointed by the horrible cover but still loved what was inside. It was around then when I fell of the bandwagon but jumped back on for Asylum. Which I still have, in the shrink.

After listening to Eddie’s list and the fallout I had to make my own. If you have SiriusXM I implore you to listen to it and his explanations for each. You hear the kid in him and how each song has stuck with him. The next days show where John 5, Morello, Charlie Benante and others give their list is a must too.

The method I chose in making my list was to go album by album and chose “must haves” from each. Then I whittled it down to twenty. Remembered a couple songs, then whittled again. So here is my Top 20, as of now because it will change in about 3 hours.

20-DEUCE-Alive-you could go with the studio version but the live one has the iconic intro that we all know. Plus the live energy gives it a bit of a kick.

19-GOT TO CHOSE-Hotter Than Hell-This one of their best vocal songs. The way they have the big harmonic chorus and the Paul sings is fantastic. Love the “ooo who who’s”

18-WHO WANTS TO BE LONELY-Asylum-the neon videos aside, there was a lot to like about this album. This track was prime Paul pop. Hooky as all get out.

17-I STOLE YOR LOVE-ALIVE II-again, you could go with the studio version but this “Live” version sounds like its played a couple beats faster and rocks.

16-WATCHIN’ YOU-Hotter Than Hell-I always loved the way the song starts. Ace guitar, then bass joins, then the drums and now were off and running. Liked how Gene sings lead but Paul comes in for a line or two. That and there really isn’t a traditional solo more vamping the main riff than anything. Plus some killer cowbell.

15-IS THAT YOU?-Unmasked-this album is odd because it was at their lowpoint but has some killer tracks. It’s a simple riff but Paul’s attitude is off the charts and the opening two lines are catnip for me.

14-WAR MACHINE-Creatures of the Night-I have to wonder if I love this song so much is due to the song or because it was used as Humongous’ walk out music in Mid South. What, you have no idea what I’m talking about? Humongous was a wrestler who looked like the guy with the same name from Road Warrior.

See! The song is great too. Eric Carr’s drums are unreal on this album and on here it’s another level. If you look up powerhouse in the dictionary, this drum sound should be listed.

13-LOVE HER ALL I CAN-Dressed To Kill-since this album is in The Originals collection I listened to it endlessly. It has a bit of a funky feel to it and Gene and Paul trade vocals on it which is a treat.

12-MASTER & SLAVE-Carnival of Souls-I am dead certain that if you complied all the lists that came out of Eddie doing the show I am the only one that has this track on theirs. People say Carnival is KISS going grunge and poo poo it. While it’s obvious they were trying to fit in, lots of good stuff on there. Great bass line and could have easily fit in on Revenge. Big singalong chorus that drops out until big riffs come in. Love it.

11-DOMINO-Revenge-the aforementioned Revenge shows up. On his show Eddie mentioned how KISS thinks its holy trinity is Destroyer, Creatures, and Revenge. He thinks Revenge is not as good and I tend to agree. Very top heavy record. One of the best is Domino. Honestly, if you need a definition of a Gene song, this is it. Confidence, humor, hooks, and sex talk. Plus in the video Paul plays bass, how cool is that.

10-ALL HELL’S BREAKING LOOSE-Lick It Up-I mentioned Paul and attitude before and this song has it in spades. His rap is just amazing and awe inspiring. So fun. Nice guitar work from Vinnie lays a foundation for Paul to do his thang.

9-TOMORROW-Unmasked-another Unmasked song? Yep. If this song would have come out a couple years before or a couple after it would have been a huge hit. It sounds like a modernized version of a 50’s song that Paul grew up on. Simple, perfect.

8-ROCKET RIDE-Alive II-when I bought this I was so happy to get a live album plus 5 new songs. 5 new songs!! Apparently Ace channeled Gene and wrote a filthy song dripping with double entendre. The climbing riff fits perfectly with the rocket theme and showcases Ace’s humor.

7-CREATURES OF THE NIGHT-Creatures of the Night-coming after the shitshow that was The Elder, Creatures was a revelation. A true return to form and reminded everyone who KISS were. The drums were big and powerful and decades later are the example of what heavy drums should sound like. The little extra bits Vinnie would play in between lines are delectable.

6-I-Music From The Elder-What an atrocious album. What do you expect when a rock band tries to impress the critics and involve Lou Reed. Is there a more over hyped “artist than Lou Reed? Hes a glorified one-hit wonder that the only reason people know who he is comes from being in NYC and having famous friends. However the one bright spot is “I”. Motivational lyrics and gang choruses plus Paul and Gene trading vocals is a sure fire winner. It’s like someone turned the poster of the Just Hang In There cat into a song.

5-YOUNG & WASTED-Lick It Up-like Domino this is a textbook Gene song. Very aggressive feel to it. Once again a song where Paul and Gene trade vocals. Favorite part is at the end when Paul finishes a line Vinnie plays something crazy while Gene wails. It’s the most frantic and out of control the band ever got. So good.

4-LARGER THAN LIFE-Alive II-This is the quintessential Gene song. There is no innuendo here, this is laid out bare. And it’s awesome. Two great solo’s from Bob Kulick plus the drums are big. Very big, almost Bonham -like

 

3-BLACK DIAMOND-KISS-the only Peter song on here. You would think that his vocals wouldn’t work on a rocker like this but they do.

2-100,000 YEARSKISS-people are quick to dismiss Gene but he is a terrific bass player. This is a perfect showcase of his playing. I love the breakdown when it’s just the drums then everyone comes back in. One of my favorite Ace tracks, he is killing it here.

1-MAKIN’ LOVE-Rock Roll Over-in all honesty, this probably isn’t the best song. The main reason I have it #1 is that his is the first song I knew all the words too. As a young teen I was singing “Making Love” even though I had no idea what that actually meant. Honestly, you could wake me up in the middle of a deep sleep and I could sing the words. Nostalgia aside, I do love this song even though some of the lyrics do not age well.

So there it is, 1-20. as of now. I wrote the list, then typed it out. Then cut and pasted the order a couple more times. My choices really cover their career. While many concentrated on the early years, I could not ignore the non-makeup albums. So much good stuff. And I don’t care what anyone says Carnival of Souls is a fantastic album. I think it’s the best non-makeup one.

You can see that I left some obvious tracks off. No “Detroit Rock City” or “Rock And Roll All Night”. Granted there is some “Stairway To Heaven” effect here and not really wanting to hear them again. It’s not that I don’t like those songs it’s just that I’m not going to dial them up on Spotify. The ones you want to hear again and again should be how you determine the list.

So grab you phone, a par and paper and make your list.

You know you want to .

https://open.spotify.com/embed/user/greatscotttx/playlist/10SfmySHgOTS7MdpKtxrBx

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My Top 10 Albums of 2017 (even though it’s 2018)

I know what you’re thinking. Who the hell needs another end of the year Top 10 lists. Well to be fair, no one. But if everyone else gets the fun of making one so should I. Let’s be honest, these are fun. I love sitting and writing down all the great releases that came out. Crossing out and revising the list over and over again. The scanning other peoples list and cursing the fact that I forgot something. Then going back and redoing my list one more time.

I am a but more anal about making lists than others. There has to be rules. If its a Top 10, then there should only be 10 on the list. No two way tie for first or 5 honorable mentions.

Top 10 is 10.

Period.

End of story.

10-Europe-Walk The Earth

If you would have told me in 1985 when “The Final Countdown” was earworming its’ way into our brains. That I would be a huge fan of Europe, so much that I would pre-order their albums, I would have wondered what gave me brain damage. Yet, I am a huge fan and you should be too. I heard a interview with the drummer that when the band reformed they changed the way they wrote songs. Apparently, the old method was singer Joey Tempest writing everything and then bring it to the band. Now they get together to create. Thankfully those annoying keyboards have been replaced with powerful old school organs. Europe seems to have given in to their childhood and have channeled the bands they grew up on. Influences ranging from Rainbow and Deep Purple are evident. The title track would have been a monster hit back in the day. Honestly, it still could be if someone uses it in a sports highlight reel.

9-Godflesh-Post Self

It was so refreshing to hear some new Godflesh. I remember the first time I heard them. I was drinking at Emo’s, R.I.P., and Streetcleaner came on. It was a revelation. The heaviness and dissonance was so different that anything I had every heard. Godflesh was first of the industrial bands that soon flooded the scene. However,to me they were always different. Maybe it’s because they were on Earache and there was an extra level of heaviness. There was always level of noise in their sound that was amazingly inviting. Post Self gave me the same feeling. I’ve seen people say that it doesn’t have metal leanings but it sure does sound like it to me. Still brutal and awesome. Like an army of orcs rampaging over a field of keyboards.

8-Riverdogs-California

I’d venture to guess that most people have no idea who the Riverdogs are and why I would have them on my Top 10. Those people are seriously ignorant and deprived. At first glance people will assume that since Vivian Campbell, of Dio, Whitesnake, and Del Leppard fame, that it would be in that vein. Riverdogs are so much more. The key to the band is singer Rob Lamothe. His voice is magical. Emotional like a mutha fucka. First time I heard these guys was when they were doing a radio tour promoting their debut album in 1990. Vivian and Rob were on Z-Rock, R.I.P. again, and they played acoustic versions of the songs. It was amazing. Those two gave the songs such life and meaning that I was instantly hooked. Great thing about it was that it showed how good the songs were that they would work with just two guys with guitars. So I was ecstatic to see that California was coming out. Frontiers Records did something brilliant by having the band play acoustic versions of these new songs in advance of the release.

Describing their sound is tough. While it is definitely rock there are hints of soft rock, alternative, and alt-country mixed in with Jeff Buckley. It worked. “Welcome To The New Disaster” and “You’re Too Rock N Roll” drip with brilliance that make you wonder if you’re worthy. It’s the perfect record for driving with the top down and sun glaring down on you.

7-Tau Cross-Pillar Of Fire

I had never heard of Tau Cross until December. Sarah Kiteeringham from Banger TV was talking about them on her Album on the Year list. Naturally, she violated the rules and had about 10 different albums. Nonetheless, one of her choices was Tau Cross. When she said Away from Voivod was in the band, my ears pricked up. This is a really interesting band. It does have some of Voivod-ness on here, this is a bit more abrasive. Rob Miller, formerly of Amebix, plays bass and sings with a gravely tone that elevates this above the fray. He shows his range by smoothing it out some and injecting some bass and it gives the band a Killing Joke vibe. The title track showcases that with the added acoustic guitars and violins.

Only complaint is the album is a tad long. Sort of. The vinyl is 11 songs which I think is perfect. But the CD/MP3 version adds 3 songs. Not that they’re bad but as I’ve gotten older i’ve realized that Aerosmith’s Rocks has only 8 songs and that kind of tough to top. Get in, get out leave them wanting more.

6-Power Trip-Nightmare Logic

You remember what I just wrote about getting in and getting out? Well that is perfect exemplified on Nightmare Logic by Power Trip. This is 8 tracks and 32 minutes of Texas thrash that if these guys had access to a DeLorean and flux capacitor would tear it up at Ruthie’s Inn in 1987 San Fran. It is note perfect old school thrash but doesn’t sound dated. These guys wear their influences on their sleeves. Proudly. Heavy, nasty riffs with dive bombs that would make Slayer proud. Riley Gale’s vocals are very reminiscent of Kurt from D.R.I. but with more intensity. They aren’t afraid to tackle some big lyrical issues. From the dependence on OTC drugs to extreme right wing religious politics feel their wraith. Not a bad note on this.

5-L.A. Guns-The Missing Peace

It’s been a rough couple decades for L.A. Guns. After having some solid success in the 80’s and 90’s, they rapidly became a punchline. They went from being known as a solid act to having two versions of the same band touring around the country. Silly fighting through the media made it even worse. However, time heals all wounds and singer Phil Lewis and guitarist Tracii Guns kissed and made up. Thankfully so, because we got The Missing Peace.

THIS IS A MONSTER ALBUM!!

They did not miss a beat and it sounds like it was recorded by their 20-something selves not the 50 year olds they are now. They looked father time in his face and spit on him. High energy guitar rock that traverses time. Phil’s voice hasn’t aged at all and the British snarl he had in Girl is still present. Tracii is one of the most underrated guitarist of his generation. He can play with feel as well as power, plus writes terrific riffs. He also shows some humility by deferring to Michael Grant whose playing injects some adrenaline into the album. From opener “It’s All the Same To Me” to “Sticky Fingers” (not that Sticky Fingers) to “Baby Got Fever” the album transports you to a packed Gazzarri’s and you don’t care that you have half a can of hair spray on your head and you’re a dude. Rarely does a successful band make their best album 3 decades into the game.

4-Code Orange-Forever

I have a system for the way I listen to new albums I’ve never heard of. I’ll look up what’s coming out that Friday, then find it on Google Play Music and add it to a playlist called Decide. That’s how I came to hear Code Orange. I was not prepared.

HOLY SHIT, is this a brutal album.

They’re called a deathcore band but I don’t know how accurate that is. Mainly because I have no idea what deathcore is. These kids and their uber specific genres . Anyway. Code Orange is power personified. Not fast but HEAVY. Starting with the title track, it’s just simple quarter notes that are delivered with such force its unbelievable. They get schizophrenic with some hardcore stuff on “Kill the Creator” but the power is still there.

OK, I get what deathcore is now.

I think what’s impressive is they are not afraid to record a song like “Bleeding In The Blur”. They use clean vocals and the song is more Octane than Liquid Metal. Or something like “Spy” with is a hybrid stoner metal song with electronic elements. “Ugly” is more industrial/alternative than metal but fits right in with the other songs. Forever is actually a very diverse album and shows that Code Orange will do whatever they want.

Forever is a fantastic album that has put Code Orange on the map. I am really curious what they’ll do next, should be interesting.

3-Mutoid Man-War Moans

Someone on Metal Riot had the best description of Mutoid Man. They described them as the perfect blend of cockrock and mathcore. There is plenty of harmonies in their music balanced out with some insane technical playing. The songs are very catchy, fun and surprisingly smart. I don’t want to make it seem like they are tough to grasp like a Dragonforce or Dillinger Escape Plan. A song like “Kiss of Death” is a standard hard rock song but they put enough of a twist on it to make it their own. Imagine High on Fire guitars with a Josh Homme melody. Without assaulting a camera woman though.

“War Moans” and “Irons In The Fire” would be prototypical metal songs in anyone else’s hands. Here they are delivered crisply but with enough attitude making them Mutoid Man.

Look at the two bands that preceded them on the list. If they opened for L.A. Guns or Code Orange they would be received quite well. Honestly I think Mutoid Man would like both of the gigs too.

2-Integrity-Howling, For The Nightmare Shall Consume

I seem to have a love/hate relationship with SiriusXM. In theory it should be a godsend for music lovers. Unfortunately, what you end up finding out is that they have the same lazy programming as terrestrial radio. That’s why I end up listening to MLB Radio more than any of the music channels. The one time I was listening to Liquid Metal and they weren’t playing a Soulfly or Sepultura song. Honestly, you would think these were the biggest bands ever the way Jose rams them down everyone’s throat. Anyway, that’s where I heard the new Integrity. The song “Hymn for the Children of the lack Flame” came on and I was entranced. These brutally fast guitars came out of the speaker accompanied by some nasty shedding. Very reminiscent of early Slayer. Back when Kerry had hair. Then Dwid Hellion’s vocals came on. He’s got a big shouty growl that works so well on the metal tracks as well some of the more hardcore ones. Most of the songs are barely over 3 minutes long but I don’t think the human neck could sustain much more headbanging. Then the second half of the album and it changes. The songs get longer and the band starts stretching their wings.”7 Reece Mews” has Dwid channeling Tom Waits over bursts of stoner metal. Then on “Unholy Salvation of Sabbatai Levi”his voice sounds like its pleading or warning us over ominous droning guitars. Even though Integrity is Dwid and whomever he wants, he gives a lot of room to guitarist Domenic Romeo. Domenic shows lots of old school flash while maintaining a contemporary feel.

1-Wayward Sons-Ghosts Of Yet To Come

I realize this is the 3rd album from Frontiers Records on my list. What can I say, they had a good year. Like other titles, they released several songs ahead of the albums release. The first Wayward Sons track available was “Until The End”. I was hooked instantly. Just a quality hard rocker accompanied by some sharp pointed lyrics about dealing with less than honorable people.

They are the ones that try to hurt you

They are the ones that cause it all

They are the ones that have no virtue, at all

Toby Jepson’s words take what would be a good song to a great one by injecting some thought and wit into them. Some may know him from the band Little Angels. Some may know him from acting in Gladiator, Angela’s Ashes, Band of Brothers. Or from him producing Saxon, Chrome Molly and the Virginmarys. Either way, you need to know him for Wayward Sons. It’s a little dismissive to say this is just a hard rock band. While they are, the music is so good it’s almost insulting to lump them in with others. There is a definite English feel to the songs, ala Wildhearts, Therapy, Terrorvision. However, Wayward Sons songs seem to have an extra layer to them. The music is very simple, but Toby’s voice is truly an extra instrument. As the guitars are playing 4 chord rock . He’s singing in a style that adds another riff to the song while adding a harmony to it as well. “Crush” and “Give It Away” are audio heroin with the way it sucks you in and wraps it self around you.

Good rock songs are simple yet tough to write. Every track on here is a diamond. This is the bar band you want to see that is so good the lady you meet at the show ends up being your wife.

Two wrap it all up, Wayward Sons has been the definite #1 in all incarnations of this list. I will say that numbers 2 through 6 could be rearranged in any order and I would be fine with it. It was tough keeping Enslaved off the list but I thought Godflesh was a stronger album. Hopefully you’ve found some new music to listen to. So grab your phone and open Spotify or Beats or Google and get to searching.

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The REAL Top 10 Hair Metal Bands aka screw you Loudwire

 

I love music lists.

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

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

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

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

Anyway, here is the list from Loudwire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9-White Lion-Pretty boy lead singer

Shredding guitar god

Huge power ballad √

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They need to revisit the catalog.

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

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

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

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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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Black Bear-Rock From The Woods

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Back in the mid 90’s I worked at a local record store. When Seattle was in full swing there was this one customer always coming in to sell old CD’s to buy new releases. He had the proper grunge uniform of shaved head, goatee, and Doc’s. The CD’s he brought in were all the 80’s hard rock bands; Poison, Winger, Motley Crue, etc. Our store always required someone to show their ID. On his drivers license his picture was of him in full Cure’s Robert Smith attire. In other words he was just playing dress up or trend hopping. You saw it with bands too. They cut their hair and got “more serious” to fit in the Nirvana world. Now this was not an anomaly as bands have kept doing that. With the rise of 70’s rock/Southern rock influenced acts; Scorpion Child, Rival Sons and so forth. Guys that were dabbling in modern rock or whatever genre Octane is playing, are now buying bell bottoms and Orange amps.

And that brings us to Black Bear and their album Rock From The Woods. Judging from the band name and the cover, a walking bridge in the woods, I was expecting some Southern twinged rockin’. However, just like the guy selling CD’s we have some guys playing dress up. You can tell something is fishy from jump street. Album opener “We Are Black Bear” is just Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” except they just replace American band with Black Bear. This would be cute as the last track but since it’s the first, just silly. Unfortunately the aping of a classic rock band does not end there as they lift from The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” on “Uncle Vic”. Even rappers would think it was excessive.

That track is the epitome of what is wrong with the album. The guitarist seems to latch onto a cliché 70’s guitar lick and beat it to death. Besides the unoriginality, it is usually done very poorly. A simple 4 note fill sounds as if I was playing it. Then there is the vocalist. He just doesn’t have the swagger or soul to pull off this music. Most of the time he sounds like he is really struggling. I learned the band is from Milan so that cultural disconnect is a problem.

Now the odd part of Rock From The Woods is many of the songs are flat out modern rock. And surprisingly, their good too. “Time” is a really tremendous song. A mid-tempo slow builder that pulls you in as its plays. “Ghost of You” is a fist pumper that would easily slide in regular rotation on modern rock radio. Same with “Never Easy” a nice ballad that once you get past the horrible guitar fills in the first minute is rather good.

European bands playing distinctively American styles is nothing new. There seems to be a part of Finland that is forever 1987 Sunset Strip glam rock. Just like some of those bands, Black Bear may love the music they try to play but it doesn’t translate.

Pun intended.

Rock From The Woods seems a bit bi-polar with its’ conflicting styles. Yet when its’ good, its’ good. Hopefully Black Bear will decide on who they are.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon purchase

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on a MP3 sale

$1.00-finding 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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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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The Acacia Strain-Death Is The Only Mortal

 

I have heard a lot about The Acacia Strain for awhile and when the new album Death Is The Only Mortal came out Liquid Metal was all about it. I figured I should go and check it out and after listening to it I have come to one conclusion.

Man, I must be getting old.

That’s what this made me feel. Now I listen to a lot of metal, many sub genres, and from different era’s. However, after finishing this album I had the reacquiring thought of “Kids these days.”

I guess the best way to describe The Acacia Strain to anyone that has not heard them is that they are the perfect amalgam of what they heard growing up. Guttural vocals from the metalcore/death metal scene. Absence of guitar solos ala Korn. And what comes across as very pussy lyrics from all the alt-rock grunge bands they probably listened to when they were kids. Now I may be wrong on everything I just said, but The Acacia Strain sounds like a Frankenstein of unoriginality disguised as brilliant creativity. There is nothing that is surprising except for the many times they “sample” the trademark Gojira slides. “Brain Death sounds likes a Killswitch Engage song, just with cookie monster singing.

One really annoying aspect of this album is that they use this one guitar sound that sounds like an echoed downstroke. At first it is neat but after hearing it constantly it became annoying and distracting. “Victims of the Cave” uses it well and along with a very welcomed tempo change it is a bright spot. Unfortunately the next 3 songs mimic the same tempo and feel and that bright spot goes dark.

I know someone is going to read this and see how much I did not like this album but fawned over the new Europe and is going to say I’m old and out of touch. While I may be older than them, I still love a lot of the new bands out now. Witchcraft, Gypsyhawk, Gojira, and many others get regular rotation on my playlists. What sets those bands is they have something special about them.

With The Acacia Strain just because something is unique does not mean that it is good.

 

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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