Gene Simmons Family Jewels premieres tonight on A&E

Tonight (Monday 8/7) at 10pm Eastern on A&E

Gene Simmons’ new TV show is on tonight. Normally, I don’t get into this type of thing when it comes to Gene unless it’s KISS related. I didn’t watch Rock School and I generally stay away from Gene appearing on talk shows, etc. I did watch the Biography A&E did around the time Gene was promoting his solo album, Asshole. I thought it was good but, usually, if it’s not band or music related, I’m not interested.

This one has my attention though. Maybe it’s Shannon Tweed, the queen of late night Cinemax and my formative years. Maybe it’s an insight into his family dynamic, his personal life. I’m not sure really but I am taping it with the DVR and I’ll watch it after work tomorrow morning. There are 2 episodes from 10pm – 11pm, I noticed that it’s episode 1 and 3. (I hate it when they do that, go in order!) I’ll have thoughts at some point tomorrow or Wednesday.

Riot – Army Of One (2006)

Riot - Army Of One

Riot – Army Of One (2006, Toshiba-EMI)

  1. Army Of One
  2. Knockin’ At My Door
  3. Blinded
  4. One More Alibi
  5. It All Falls Down
  6. Helpin’ Hand
  7. The Mystic
  8. Still Alive
  9. Alive In THe City
  10. Shine
  11. Stained Mirror
  12. Darker Side Of Light
  13. Road Racin’ (Recorded live at Club Citta, Kawasaki, Japan, 1998)

Total Time – 73:04

Band Lineup:
Mark Reale – Lead Guitar & Acoustic Guitar
Mike DiMeo – Vocals
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Pete Perez – Bass
Frank Gilchriest – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Bruno Ravel (Danger Danger, Westworld) – Keyboards
Tony Harnell (Westworld, ex-TNT) – Backing Vocals
Andy Aledort – Second guitar solo on ‘Alive In The City’

Riot official website
Johnny’s Back – The unofficial Riot website

Riot is one of the most under-rated bands to come out of the late ’70s/early ’80s Rock scene in New York. Riot has been plagued with bad management deals, no label support, personnel changes, and deaths. Aside from these terrible circumstances, founding guitarist Mark Reale has steered Riot to success in Japan (where they are still considered a U.S. legend), Europe, and regional success in the U.S. (San Antonio, TX and New York). Riot’s first four albums are considered classics and essential for fans of U.S. Hard Rock/Heavy Metal:

  • Rock City (1977)
  • Narita (1979)
  • Fire Down Under (1981)
  • Restless Breed (1982)

On to the new album…..

The title track opener leaves me cold: all speed, no feeling. A track like this just bores me because sounds a mess. It doesn’t make me feel good about the rest of the album, an opener should grab hold of the listener. Army Of One was probably picked as the opener because it’s the title track and the Japanese just love that speed metal. Knockin’ At My Door, Blinded, and One More Alibi all gear to the classic late 70s/early 80s Riot sound, a bit of swagger is added to the pounding double bass drums. Sometimes it’s all about attitude…..

It All Falls Down is another speedy tune full of the double bass drum attack and machine gun riffs. I like it, it has an edge. Helpin’ Hand is the ballad, not bad but doesn’t grab hold. The Mystic is another speed wankfest and Still Alive is mid-paced but sounds like I’ve heard it all before. Shine mixes mid-paced melodic with the speed chugging drums. Stained Mirror is a nice instrumental showing off Reale’s talents, he’s one of those great U.S. guitar players that no one remembers.

My two favorites are Alive In The City and Darker Side Of Light. I just get that old school vibe from both. I really enjoy the melodic side rather than the speed so these two fit the bill. I could hear this with material from Fire Down Under-era or Restless Breed-era Riot. A live version of Road Racin’ rounds it all out, it’s tacked on as a bonus track for the Japanese market.

Basically, it’s U.S. Heavy Metal/Power Metal…..something Japanese fans gobble up like candy. One song the band is racing along a speedy Power Metal highway and the next is more classic Melodic Hard Rock/Metal with some speed but more groove and attitude. When the band blends the speed with more melodic elements, the song and album just get better. For me, I prefer the classic melodic style rather than the speed. Army Of One is an album that’s a nice blend of the two styles, it’s a good album. I like it a lot more than the previous offering, Through The Storm (2002).

This album was dedicated to original Riot singer, Guy Speranza, who died of cancer in November 2004. (R.I.P.)

How do you discover new music?

This is how I do it…. 

Browsing - Growing up, I would browse every section in the record stores. I would look at album covers/sleeves, sample music, soak in music history by looking at complete discographies. Many times, I bought an album because of the album art or the “buzz” the band was generating. This could take a couple of hours but I was able to make a decision by LEARNING about the bands. With the decline of “Mom & Pop” record stores, and shelf space at a minimum for new bands in chain stores, gone are the days of simply browsing for hours. There really isn’t much to browse through anymore. Most Rock/Metal bands have their current album or a greatest hits package available. Gone are the days having every album to choose from right there in front of you. I browse but I seek out more online than ever before. I’ll check what’s available at Sentinel Steel, The End Records, Retrospect Records, Impulse Music, and NEH Records.

Reviews - I read a lot of reviews from various sources, especially if I’m unfamiliar with the band. I’m in the market for Celtic Frost’s latest album, Monothiest, so I have read a major cross section of reviews from print to online, positive and negative. Granted, these reviews are someone else’s opinion so it all depends on the trust you put in the reviewer/source. I have about 5 or 6 good sources for album reviews.

Sound Samples – Crucial. If I’m going to spend $15 on a CD from a band I’m unfamiliar with, then I want to hear a bit. Official band websites and/or MySpace pages are great sources for samples. Some of the labels and online stores provide samples as well. I downloaded iTunes but I’ve barely used it, I heard it’s great for song samples. I’m also looking into Rhapsody to get some previews as well. Old classic Metal albums are hard to find but places like Vibrations Of Doom help a lot. I don’t download a track and burn it to CD, I just listen.

Online Radio – Regular FM Radio is almost dead due to corporate takeovers, generic playlists, and boring programming. Online Radio seems to be the place to get a more personal view of what’s out there. Some good places: VonGoober Radio, Old School Metal Show, Brave Radio, Hard Radio and Hard Rockin’ 80s are great sites to listen to. I haven’t figured out podcasts yet and satellite radio just seems like too much hassle.

Anyone else have some good suggestions?