Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985)

Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985, Mercury)

  1. Countdown
  2. Coming Home
  3. Blackout
  4. Bad Boys Running Wild
  5. Loving You Sunday Morning
  6. Make It Real
  7. Big City Nights
  8. Coast To Coast
  9. Holiday
  10. Still Loving You
  11. Rock You Like A Hurricane
  12. Can’t Live Without You
  13. Another Piece Of Meat
  14. The Zoo
  15. No One Like You
  16. Dynamite
  17. Can’t Get Enough (Part l)
  18. Six String Sting
  19. Can’t Get Enough (Part ll)

Total Time = 1:17:27

Scorpions official website

WORLD WIDE LIVE is another favorite live album from my early teenage years that I still listen to regularly. I had discovered the Scorpions at the time like I did with most bands: through magazines and record store trips. I knew about the Scorpions but I never heard a single song until I saw the video for ‘No One Like You’ on MTV. I remember that video being in regular rotation and it wasn’t uncommon to see it at some point every hour. I picked up BLACKOUT but I really didn’t get into the band until they released LOVE AT FIRST STING in 1984 and became a huge commercial success. The Scorpions were everywhere: MTV, radio, magazines, and on tour. They rode a massive wave of success on the sing;es ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’, ‘Still Loving You’ and ‘Big City Nights’ but I liked the whole album and I started to put all the Scorpions’ albums at the top of my want list. I remember reading about a new Scorpions live album in Circus Magazine so I was definitely getting it.

I remember how I got WORLD WIDE LIVE very vividly. I was always a collector. I liked baseball cards, Star Wars toys and comics but, once I got hooked, Rock music became my passion. My father recognized my almost overnight change from a kid playing with toys to a kid listening to Heavy Metal and wearing studded wristbands! My father decided he was going to get involved in my new hobby by actually taking an interest into what I was buying, reading and listening. He was concerned like parents were at the time because all he really knew was what he heard on the news: how Rock/Metal music pushed kids into a world of sex, drugs, violence and danger. In order to try and understand what I was into, he thumbed through my Rock mags and made sure he understood exactly what tapes I bought. Shortly after WORLD WIDE LIVE’s release, I asked my father if he could pick it up for me on the way home from work. My father worked in the Boston area about a little over an hour’s commute so I knew that he wouldn’t want to take me to the record store so I convinced him to stop at the Good Vibrations in Foxboro, about halfway between work and home, and pick it up for me. Surprisingly, he agreed. My father came home and gave me my brand new cassette: Scorpions – TOKYO TAPES (1978)!

Now my father tried but he didn’t really get it. Each band was faceless and each album was the same, as long as I still got straight A’s in school and didn’t turn into a deliquent, he was happy. His effort to understand and keep an eye on what I was listening too was genuine but a little above his head. Turns out he stopped at the Good Vibrations, asked the clerk for a Scorpions concert album, and the showed him two different ones. He forgot the title so he bought the one that looked the safest…..TOKYO TAPES. Of course, I knew the difference right away and I told him that I wanted to exchange it at my usual Good Vibrations near home over the weekend. I ended up going to return the tape that weekend but I just ended up buying the WORLD WIDE LIVE cassette and keeping the TOKYO TAPES instead. My father found out I didn’t exchange the one he bought so he gave me the ten bucks I spent on WORLD WIDE LIVE and I ended up with two albums for free!

I was big into BLACKOUT and LOVE AT FIRST STING so hearing live versions of ‘Bad Boys Running Wild’, ‘Can’t Live Without You’ and ‘Dynamite’ alongside the popular singles ‘Rock You Like A Hurricane’ and ‘No One Like You’ was very cool. What was even better was that there were other songs that I had never heard and they kicked major ass! ‘Another Piece Of Meat’, ‘The Zoo’, ‘Loving You Sunday Morning’ and ‘Make It Real’ were awesome and I started to add all the Scorpions’ albums to my growing want list. My favorites on this album are the live versions of ‘Big City Nights’, ‘Can’t Live Without You’ and ‘No One Like You’ but the best part of the album was when Klaus Meine would talk to the audience…..the band was German and I knew there was a language difference but with the accents and the different phrasing, Klaus came off a bit comical while pumping up the crowd. It was because of WORLD WIDE LIVE that I became a huge Scorpions fan and I started buying up all their albums.

I had the cassette, which I wore out and it snapped, so I upgraded to CD. the problem was that the initial U.S. pressing on CD dropped ‘Another Piece Of Meat’, ‘Can’t Get Enough (Pt.1)’, ‘Six String Sting’ and ‘Can’t Get Enough (Pt.2)’ to fit it on one disc. I couldn’t listen to it without those songs so I went out and bought a new cassette. Somewhere in the late ’90s, Mercury Records started reissuing the Scorpions’ catalog and the CD reissue of WORLD WIDE LIVE ended up having all the songs and the original artwork so I picked it up on sale for $8.99.

Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985)

Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985, EMI)

  1. Intro: Churchill’s Speech
  2. Aces High
  3. 2 Minutes To Midnight
  4. The Trooper
  5. Revelations
  6. Flight Of Icarus
  7. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner
  8. Powerslave
  9. The Number Of The Beast
  10. Hallowed Be Thy Name
  11. Iron Maiden
  12. Run To The Hills
  13. Running Free
  14. Wrathchild
  15. 22 Acacia Avenue
  16. Children Of The Damned
  17. Die With Your Boots On
  18. Phantom Of The Opera

Total Time = 1:42:03

Iron Maiden official website

Iron Maiden has been one of my favorite bands since the early ’80s. I got seriously into Iron Maiden around the release of NUMBER OF THE BEAST in 1982 but I had known about the band from all the magazines and fanzines I used to buy. I used to hear a little Maiden over some of the local record stores’ stereo systems when I would scour the racks for hours. I came of age with the Bruce Dickinson era of the band but I went back and bought both Paul Di’anno records (IRON MAIDEN & KILLERS) before Maiden released POWERSLAVE in ’84. Going into that blockbuster album, I had everything on cassette that the band had released including the MAIDEN JAPAN E.P. (1981) and my personal favorite PIECE OF MIND (1983). After KISS and Judas Priest, there was Iron Maiden!

I followed the band’s exploits on the World Slavery Tour through magazines like Circus, Hit Parader, and Metal Forces and definitely watching MTV. Iron Maiden was everywhere, you couldn’t escape seeing the band’s logo or their mascot Eddie on denim jackets or on the walls of your friend’s bedrooms. When I read in Circus that the band was putting together a double live album to chronicle the World Slavery Tour, I knew I had to have it. Of course money became an issue because the album, LIVE AFTER DEATH, was released with a price tag that went between $12 and $15 depending on the shop and the sale prices. With Metal exploding all over the radio and MTV, there were so many bands to buy albums from in ’85 so I had to spend my allowance and lunch money wisely. I remember being in my local Good Vibrations record store the weekend after LIVE AFTER DEATH came out trying to justify buying a single cassette for close to $15 when I could buy two other albums on tape by different bands. I could have even bought two more KISS albums to complete my collection! I ended up passing on it…..

I was in 7th grade at the time and one of best friends brought his older brother’s cassette into school so we could all have a listen at the end of the day. I remember a whole bunch of us in the schoolyard after school huddled around my friend’s boombox listening to Side 1 in the middle of October. It was cold but well worth it because I knew what my purchase was going to be at the record store on the coming weekend. I ended up walking over to my friend’s house so we could listen to Side 2 and get homework done, that’s where my friend’s older brother was waiting and kicked my friend’s ass for “borrowing” his new tape without asking. After my friend took a beating, we ended up listening to the whole album because his brother also bought the vinyl and we listened to it on the big stereo he had. I still remember marvelling over the artwork and how cool it looked as a record. That weekend I bought my LIVE AFTER DEATH tape and put the LP on my Xmas wish list (I never got the vinyl for Xmas!).

This is Iron Maiden at what many consider their peak with five solid albums and a record breaking worldwide tour to their credit, making LIVE AFTER DEATH one of the best, if not THE best, live album ever. To this day, 23 years later, I still can’t find a weak song on the album. Every single track is powerful and grandly performed. I was huge into PIECE OF MIND and POWERSLAVE when this live album was released so my favorite tracks were ‘Aces High’, ’2 Minutes To Midnight’, ‘Powerslave’, ‘Flight Of Icarus’, ‘Revelations’ and ‘The Trooper’. These were the popular singles so I liked them all immeadiately. Playing the album over and over, I really started to enjoy the live version of ‘Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ better than the studio version and the Di’anno era songs like ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Wrathchild’ and ‘Running Free’ just came off more energetic and powerful with Bruce at the mic. After a couple of decades, I find myself enjoying the last 5 songs of the album (Side 4 of the vinyl) the most, especially ’22 Acacia Avenue’ and ‘Die With Your Boots On’.

I have had a few versions of this album over the years: the original cassette, the first CD issue that didn’t include the Side 4 songs, the Castle Records reissue from 1995 with the bonus disc, and finally the Raw Power reissue from 1998 that ended up including the missing Side 4 songs. The Castle reissue from ’95 was the most disappointing because I figured the bonus disc would contain the missing Side 4 songs but it ended up being only three tracks that were all B-sides from the singles: ‘Losfer Words (Big ‘Orra)’ live at Hammersmith Odeon, ‘Sanctuary’ live at Long Beach Arena and ‘Murders in the Rue Morgue’ live at Hammersmith Odeon. Today I own the three CD versions and the DVD that came out earlier this year, I sold my cassette a long time ago.

KISS – Alive II (1977)

KISS – Alive II (1977, Casablanca)

  1. Detroit Rock City
  2. King Of The Nighttime World
  3. Ladies’ Room
  4. Makin’ Love
  5. Love Gun
  6. Calling Dr. Love
  7. Christine Sixteen
  8. Shock Me
  9. Hard Luck Woman
  10. Tomorrow And Tonight
  11. I Stole Your Love
  12. Beth
  13. God Of Thunder
  14. I Want You
  15. Shout It Out Loud
  16. All American Man (studio track)
  17. Rockin’ In the USA (studio track)
  18. Larger Than Life (studio track)
  19. Rocket Ride (studio track)
  20. Any Way You Want It (studio track)

Total Time = 1:11:26

KISS official website
KISS FAQ

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that my all-time favorite live album is ALIVE II, I think I’ve told the tale about my early induction into the KISS Army many times. I enlisted in 1977, at age 5, with ROCK AND ROLL OVER after pestering my mother in a local department store but I really didn’t start listening to the album, or Rock music, for a few more years. I just knew I had to have that album. Around 1980/1981, I started to get seriously into music through my weekend trips to the record stores…..that’s where I saw ALIVE II.

Back in the day, I saved my allowance and lunch money to buy music. I bought cassettes (tapes) 99% of the time because they cost somewhere between $6.99 and $8.99 depending on the shop. If I saved my lunch money for the week, and my allowance for doing household chores, I could easily put $15 to $20 together! That’s two tapes and a magazine or a poster! My real education came from scouring through racks and racks of vinyl. Records were still the medium of choice for most people and stores dedicated much of their floorspace to vinyl. Vinyl was also where the selection was, you could find almost every album from each band in the record racks. Everytime I walked into a record store I always went to the KISS section first and studied each album. I knew the artwork, songs, band members, etc. and I always made sure that I filed each album chronologically just so other shoppers could see everything in the proper order. I did the same thing in the cassette section of the store…..I’m sure the store clerks thought I was crazy! For me this was extremely normal because this was how I decided to buy my KISS albums! I had to have them all in order so I could make a proper choice.

I bought ALIVE II in 1982. At the time, I had four KISS studio albums on cassette: ROCK AND ROLL OVER, KISS, DESTROYER and LOVE GUN…..bought in that exact order! ALIVE II had the songs I was familiar with from DESTROYER, ROCK AND ROLL OVER and LOVE GUN so it was the obvious choice when faced with the ALIVE! (1975) vs. ALIVE II debate. This was a double album (2 LPs or 2 cassettes) so the price was higher than a single — $13.99! I remember it like it was yesterday…..I would sit staring at the 2 tapes packaged together with that yellow price tag with the double price. I could buy two different KISS albums for the same price, I could buy two tapes of any band for the same price, this was one album. Obviously, I knew that there were two albums worth of songs on there but, in my mind, they all added up into one album. After weeks of procrastinating, I finally caved in and bought it.

I played ALIVE II over and over thrilling to hear KISS in concert on my stereo. This was my only chance to hear what the original KISS was like live because both Ace Frehley and Peter Criss were out of the band in ’82, even though Ace was pictured on that year’s new album CREATURES OF THE NIGHT. The great thing about ALIVE II was that each studio album was represented equally by 5 songs, that gave a solid variety for me because I owned those three albums. For my money, it couldn’t get any better than hearing the band open with ‘Detroit Rock City’ and careening into ‘King Of The Nighttime World’ with Ace’s lead. Then getting two songs from ROCK AND ROLL OVER with ‘Ladies’ Room’ and ‘Makin’ Love’ was my personal highlight because they came from my favorite album. Side 1 ended with ‘Love Gun’ and I would just hit rewind and listen to it again before moving on to Side 2. Back when I was a kid, I liked all the live songs but today I’m a little more selective. The album is still the best but I could do without ‘Calling Dr. Love’ (Side 2), ‘Tomorrow And Tonight’ (Side 2) and ‘Beth’ (Side 3). I never liked ‘Tomorrow And Tonight’ even on LOVE GUN, ‘Beth’ is just overplayed nowadays when you hear KISS on the radio, and I absolutely can’t stand ‘Calling Dr. Love’ live anymore. I used to think the song was cool but now I skip it when I listen to an album it’s on and I take a break during the song when I see the band perform in concert. Best songs on the live sides to me are ‘I Stole Your Love’ and ‘Shout It Out Loud’, then all of Side 1!

I played Sides 1, 2 and 3 of the cassettes daily but I virtually ignored Side 4, the studio tracks. As I became a more seasoned KISS fan, I revisited the 4th side and I like most of the studio songs. ‘All American Man’ is a typical Paul Stanley rocker and my second favorite original on this album. ‘Rockin’ In The USA’ is one of those Gene Simmons throwaways that reminds my of ‘Kissin’ Time’ from the debut album, it’s a gimmick track. The second Gene song is ‘Larger Than Life’ and it’s another typical Gene sex innuendo song and it’s only marginally better than ‘Rockin’ In The USA’. Ace Frehley’s ‘Rocket Ride’ is the jewel of the five studio songs and I still wish that it could have been on the LOVE GUN album, it would have made the album so much better. ‘Any Way You Want It’ is a cover song originally done by The Dave Clark Five and it reminded me too much of the terrible ‘Tomorrow And Tonight’ on the live part and was a partner to the cover tune that ended the LOVE GUN album: ‘Then She Kissed Me’. ‘Any Way You Want It’ is a waste and totally unnecessary, I skip it to this day.

Back when I was a kid, I didn’t know much about the history of the album. Thanks to KISS konventions, KISS fanzines/books, and the Internet, I know all the stories about which tracks were seriously overdubbed and who did or did not play on the studio side. Today it’s all well documented but I prefer to remember the thrill of hearing my favorite band in concert with fresh ears. I played that album so much that I’m surprised I didn’t wear the tapes out. I still have those cassettes today and I have a few other formats as well: I own the original pressing gatefold vinyl with all the inserts, I have the original CD issue, and the 1997 remastered reissue CD. I used to have a copy of the Japanese paper sleeve remastered reissue from around 1997 or 1998 but I ended up selling that on Ebay for double what I paid for it.

Live Album Week

After taking most of September off from the site, and from the Internet all together, I decided to get myself into gear and end September with something I’ve been planning for awhile…..Live Album Week!

All the Live Album reviews are after this post.

This week is dedicated to some of the most influential live albums that I have listened to over the years. Most of these are my all-time favorite live albums but, most importantly, each album helped me discover more about each band.  Each live album review will be similar to my normal reviews but with a little more emphasis on the memories that each one possesses.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

Sunday: KISS – Alive II (1977)

Monday: Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985)

Tuesday: Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985)

Wednesday: Krokus – Alive & Screamin’ (1986)

Thursday: Royal Hunt – Live 1996 (1996)

Friday: UFO – Strangers In The Night (1979)

Saturday: Judas Priest – Priest…..Live! (1987)

Press Release: New Saxon single, ‘Live To Rock’, and new album, Into The Labyrinth, announced with tracklisting, release dates and tour schedule

From Saxon:

All Saxon fans have a lot of things to look forward to in the coming months: to start off with, the British metal legend will release their new download single ‘Live To Rock’, followed by the arrival at the stores of their current studio album INTO THE LABYRINTH, as well as major tours to support both releases. So a hot autumn is about to start in a few days’ time!

Saxon’s new single ‘Live To Rock’ (pictured) will be available as an internet download from October 17th, 2008, and Saxon will present their new track live for the first time during the tour which will take Biff Byford & Co., alongside MOTÖRHEAD and DANKO JONES through England and Germany in November/December 2008. Their new studio album, Into The Labyrinth, will be out on January 12th, 2009 (Germany: January 9th, US: January 13th). February 2009 will see the band embark on another major world tour, only one month after the album release.

Into The Labyrinth was recorded at the Twilight Hall in Krefeld, Germany, under the direction of Charlie Bauerfeind. Saxon recorded 13 new songs at Blind Guardian’s studio, starting with their monumental opener, ‘Battalions Of Steel’, through ‘Demon Sweeney Todd’ and ‘Valley Of The Kings’, which both cover historic events, to the final slide guitar blues track, ‘Coming Home’ (fans are already familiar with the electric version of this track from Saxon’s Killing Ground album). Saxon are currently still working on an additional 14th track, which will be available exclusively as a download on iTunes from the release date. “The new material was written in England and at my house in France,” Byford explains. “Stylistically, I would describe the album as an even balance between Lionheart and The Inner Sanctum, a mix of powerful, in-your-face rock songs and pure heavy metal tracks. We’re very happy with the production and proud of Into The Labyrinth.”

Tracks: ‘Battalions Of Steel’, ‘Live To Rock’, ‘Demon Sweeney Todd’, ‘The Letter’, ‘Valley Of The Kings’, ‘Slow Lane Blues’, ‘Crime Of Passion’, ‘Premonition in D Minor’, ‘Voice’, ‘Protect Yourselves’, ‘Hellcat’, ‘Come Rock Of Ages (The Circle Is Complete)’, ‘Coming Home’ (Bottleneck Version).

Saxon’s tour schedule is currently as follows:

October
4 – Bilbao, Spain at tba
5 – Zaragoza, Spain at tba

November
1 – Holmfirth, UK – The Picturedrome
3 – Wolverhampton, UK – Civic Hall *
4 – Ipswich, UK – Ipswich Regent *
6 – Brighton, UK – Brighton Dome *
7 – Newcastle, UK – Academy *
8 – Sheffield, UK – Academy *
10 – Glasgow, UK – Academy *
11 – Leicester, UK – De Montfort Hall *
12 – Southhampton, UK – Guildhall *
14 – Manchester, UK – Apollo *
15 – Cardiff, UK – University *
17 – Cambridge, UK – Corn Exchange *
18 – Bristol, UK – Colston Hall *
19 – Exeter, UK – University *
21 – Norwich, UK – UEA *
22 – London, UK – Hammersmith Apollo *
28 – Düsseldorf, Germany – Philipshalle *
30 – Bremen, Germany – Pier 2 *

December
2 – Offenbach, Germany – Stadthalle *
3 – Bamberg, Germany – Jako Arena *
5 – Dresden, Germany – Messehalle *
6 – Stuttgart, Germany – Schleyerhalle *
7 – Munich, Germany – Zenith *

* with MOTÖRHEAD and DANKO JONES

Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Pt.2) (2008)

Iced Earth – The Crucible Of man (Something Wicked Pt.2) (2008, SPV)

  1. In Sacred Flames
  2. Behold The Wicked Child
  3. Minions Of The Watch
  4. The Revealing
  5. A Gift Or A Curse
  6. Crown Of The Fallen
  7. The Dimension Gauntlet
  8. I Walk Alone
  9. Harbinger Of Fate
  10. Crucify The King
  11. Sacrificial Kingdoms
  12. Something Wicked (Part 3)
  13. Divide And Devour
  14. Come What May
  15. Epilogue

Band Lineup:
Matt Barlow – Vocals
Jon Schaffer – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Troy Steele – Guitars
Brent Smedley – Drums
Freddie Vidales – Bass

Total Time = 59:15

Iced Earth official website
Iced Earth MySpace page
SPV USA
SPV Germany

I have had such a hard time being an Iced Earth fan for the last decade. The material that founder/guitarist Jon Schaffer has been a bit lackluster since 1998′s opus SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t get into the HORROR SHOW album in 2001 even though I did like the monster concept. I thought TRIBUTE TO THE GODS was a decent record of covers but an unnecessary stop-gap in between studio albums. Then we got a new record, and a new singer, with the Civil War themed/Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens sung THE GLORIOUS BURDEN (2004). I thought that was a terrible album so, when Schaffer announced plans for a continuation of the SOMETHING WICKED concept in 2007 with FRAMING ARMAGEDDON, I was skeptical. FRAMING ARMAGEDDON was another collaboration with Tim Owens and it turned out to be a solid album, an album that sounded like it was made a decade earlier but with a different singer. Part two of the SOMETHING WICKED concept is the new album, THE CRUCIBLE OF MAN, that marks the return of vocalist Matt Barlow to the band…..something many fans have been waiting for. I’m sure many fans will debate the album’s merits as they pertain to Matt Barlow’s vocal style compared to Tim Owens’ style, Barlow is the classic Iced Earth singer and his leaving the band in 2002 to pursue a career in law enforcement was stunning. It’s obvious that the sound of Iced Earth has a lot to do with Barlow, the band’s best albums have been recorded with him at the mic, but there also seems to be a creative chemistry that Schaffer and Barlow have that has been missing the last few years. Not taking anything away from Tim Owens, he did a good job, but Barlow is the natural fit.

The sound of the album is typical Iced Earth, who have been described at times as being the American version of Iron Maiden. I’m not sure I would put Iced Earth close to Maiden’s legendary status but the influences are definitely there. Most of the album is full blown Power Metal full of powerful guitars, galloping rhythms and bombastic choruses but there is also orchestration and choir vocals that add another layer to the band’s sound. Honestly, the band isn’t really breaking any new ground with their sound. You could go back and listen to SOMETHING WICKED from ’98 and there really wouldn’t be much of a difference between both albums, they are both done well. The main difference for the rejuvenation of the band is the return of Matt Barlow, his deep voice just suits the band so well, not taking anything away from Ripper Owens who also has an amazing voice.

‘In Sacred Flames’ is an instrumental intro, complete with male & female choir vocals and strings, that builds music until the opening riff of ‘Behold The Wicked Child’, the song that signals Barlow’s triumphant return to the fold. hearing that opening guitar and Matt’s vocals soaring, I knew right away that this would be a special album. I also like the female vocals and choir accompaniment that are included to give the song an epic feel. This is a concept album so every song continues along a certain pattern and style and sometimes into each other: ‘Minions Of The Watch’ flows right into ‘The Revealing’ and both are fast Power Metal marches that are signature Iced Earth. The band slows things down a little with ‘A Gift Or A Curse’ but it is still heavy as it builds up, Barlow’s deep style is perfect for the ebb and flow between the slower passages and the faster ones. This is the type of song that I really enjoy because it gives the band another dimension, some diversity from straight up Power Metal.

It’s toward the middle of the record that I start to get the feeling that I’ve heard it all before. ‘Crown Of The Fallen’ and ‘The Dimension Gauntlet’ sound like continuations of previous songs rather than individual songs. ‘I Walk Alone’ is the first single (as heard on the I WALK AMONG YOU E.P.) and it’s a solid song that gives a solid overview of the album as a whole: plenty of guitars, multi-tracked vocals, Matt Barlow’s delivery. Same goes for the slowed down ‘Harbinger of Fate’, it’s basically the same formula except at a slower pace. Nine songs have passed with six to go and everything is getting predictable, all the songs are starting to sound the same. ‘Crucify The King’ and ‘Sacrificial Kingdoms’ sound like combinations of the previous tracks and they aren’t that good. ‘Something Wicked (Pt.3)’ is mid-paced and follows the same formula while ‘Divide And Devour’ gets faster and more aggressive. Of the last six songs, it’s the best one due to it’s heaviness and there really isn’t much orchestration, etc. until mid-way through the solo section. At over 7 minutes, ‘Come What May’ is the album’s longest song and I’m pretty much done by the time it’s over because there really isn’t anything new. ‘Epilogue’ is the closing instrumental.

Bottom Line:
I really wanted this album to be great and it is if you want a complete retro package of songs that sound close to the songs from 1998. Maybe that’s the whole point? Maybe the pressure from the fans (and it’s been there for years) to bring Matt Barlow back and return to the older sound made Schaffer and company get too retro? Listening to this daily for close to 2 months now I find myself really liking the record one day and getting bored with it the next. Some days I find it expertly done and better than FRAMING ARMAGEDDON and other days I think it’s not as good. I’m on the fence I guess so I’ll call this a “grower”, it’s going to take more spins to get through the second half of the album when it all starts to sound the same. It’s definitely a solid album through the first nine songs and better overall than THE GLORIOUS BURDEN and HORROR SHOW. What I’d like to see is the Schaffer/Barlow team get into something other than concept albums, maybe NOT doing one is a good idea?

Favorite Songs: ‘Behold The Wicked Child’, ‘Minions Of The Watch’, ‘The Revealing’, ‘A Gift Or A Curse’, ‘I Walk Alone’, ‘Divide And Devour’

Press Release: Rush – Snakes & Arrows Live DVD release date, artwork, and tracklisting

Zoë Vision/Anthem Entertainment is pleased to announce the release of the Snakes & Arrows Live DVD on November 25th from the legendary rock trio RUSH. This 3 disc DVD set, also available as a Blu-ray Disc, follows their Zoë Vision DVD releases Rush-R30 (2005) and Rush In Rio (2003).

The Snakes & Arrows Live DVD (full track listing below) was filmed with 21 High Definition cameras in 16×9 widescreen format, over two nights in October 2007 at the Netherlands’ Ahoy Rotterdam arena during the renowned rock trio’s lengthy world tour. Additional SD footage was filmed in Atlanta this past July. The five month trek supporting Rush’s 2007 studio release, Snakes & Arrows, which includes the Grammy® Award-nominated track, ‘Malignant Narcissism’, topped Pollstar’s Top 100 2007 Tours list at #12.

While previous DVD releases showcase different sides of the band , this DVD offers fans a rare and close up look at the prodigious musicianship for which the band is renown. Cameras follow bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart, closely, capturing not only their playing, note for note, but also the intimacy they share on stage. The diverse track list includes many new songs from Snakes & Arrows as well as old favorites like ‘Tom Sawyer’ and ‘Freewill’ plus an explosive rendition of ‘Between the Wheels’. Among the hidden gems and numerous special tour moments included as extras is the fan coveted ‘What’s That Smell’ vignette and outakes, a skit used to intro the second set, which capitalizes on the still emerging comedic talents of both Alex and Geddy who excel (and revel) in their roles as wild characters. Featuring collector’s quality packaging and a choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound or PCM Stereo for a superior audio experience, the DVD was mixed by frequent collaborator Richard Chycki (AEROSMITH, MICK JAGGER). Total running time is 221 minutes.

Snakes & Arrows made a triumphant debut on the Billboard 200 upon its release May 2007, entering the chart in the #3 spot. The album’s popular success marked Rush’s highest chart debut since 1993, as well as the group’s eleventh top ten album in the U.S. Snakes & Arrows also debuted at #3 in the band’s native Canada and at #13 in the UK – the band’s highest British chart ranking in 16 years. In addition, the album premiered in the top ten in Sweden and Finland, and in the top twenty in Norway, the Netherlands, and Japan.

Since releasing their self-titled debut album in 1974, Rush has been universally regarded as one of the most inventive and
compelling groups in rock, famed for virtuoso musicianship. Celebrated, critically acclaimed and respected worldwide, Rush is the most successful Canadian rock band of all time and they remain one of the biggest grossing arena rock bands ever. Their extraordinary body of work – which includes such acclaimed works as 1976′s 2112, 1981′s Moving Pictures, 1996′s Test for Echo, and 2002′s Vapor Trails – has achieved worldwide sales exceeding 35 million units.

Tracklisting:

Disc 1 – ‘Limelight’, ‘Digital Man’, ‘Entre Nous’, ‘Mission’, ‘Freewill’, ‘The Main Monkey Business’, ‘The Larger Bowl’, ‘Secret Touch’, ‘Circumstances’, ‘Between The Wheels’, ‘Dreamline’.

Extras: What’s That Smell (DVD Content), 2007 Tour Outtakes, What’s That Smell Outtakes, ‘Far Cry’ (Alternate cut featuring rear screen footage), ‘The Way The Wind Blows’ (Alternate cut featuring rear screen footage),’Red Sector A’ from the R30 Tour.

Disc 2 – ‘Far Cry’, ‘Workin’ Them Angels’, ‘Armor And Sword’, ‘Spindrift’, ‘The Way The Wind Blows’, ‘Subdivisions’, ‘Natural Science’, ‘Witch Hunt’, ‘Malignant Narcissism – De Slagwerker’, ‘Hope’, ‘Distant Early Warning’, ‘The Spirit Of Radio’, ‘Tom Sawyer’. Encore: ‘One Little Victory’, ‘A Passage To Bangkok’, ‘YYZ’.

Disc 3 – Oh, Atlanta – The Authorized Bootlegs: ‘Ghost Of A Chance’, ‘Red Barchetta’, ‘The Trees’, ’2112/The Temples Of Syrinx’.

Kerrang! – Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden (2008)

Kerrang! – Maiden Heaven: A Tribute To Iron Maiden

  1. Prowler (Black Tide)
  2. Remember Tomorrow (Metallica)
  3. Flash Of The Blade (Avenged Sevenfold)
  4. 2 Minutes To Midnight (Glamour Of The Kill)
  5. The Trooper (Coheed And Cambria)
  6. Waysted Years (Devildriver)
  7. Run To The Hills (Sign)
  8. To Tame A Land (Dream Theater)
  9. Caught Somewhere In Time (Madina Lake)
  10. Wrathchild (Gallows)
  11. Fear Of The Dark (Fightstar)
  12. Hallowed Be Thy Name (Machine Head)
  13. Iron Maiden (Trivium)
  14. Running Free (Year Long Disaster)
  15. Brave New World (Ghostlines)

Total Time = 1:14:02

Kerrang!
Iron Maiden

I have explained my disdain for cover songs many times in the almost three years I have had this website but I’ll do it again so all the new readers understand my position. It’s not that I don’t want to hear a band’s interpretation of a classic song, I just don’t think that a cover song should be included on a proper album in place of original material. It could be the greatest rendition of the greatest song ever but, if it takes the place of an original song on a studio album, it bothers me. Now that this is clear, I have to admit that I have a soft spot for tribute albums and I own a lot of them! Makes no sense does it? I agree.

MAIDEN HEAVEN was released as a bonus CD to the July 16, 2008 issue (#1219) of Kerrang!, the legendary Rock magazine from the U.K. Now I haven’t read an issue of Kerrang! in years, and the price for an imported copy is around $10 here in the U.S., but for some reason this tribute album intrigued me. I wasn’t sure I would be able to score a copy at my local Barnes & Noble bookstore (the only one that stocks the weekly Rock mag) so I went online and ordered it from the Kerrang! webstore. Exactly a month later, it arrived! I thumbed through the magazine and realized why I stopped reading it years ago but the CD is pretty good.

Starting things off are newcomers Black Tide with their version of ‘Prowler’ that is spot on to the original and legends Metallica who also stay true to the original on ‘Remember Tomorrow’. It’s always good to hear the Paul Di’Anno era of the band, an era that sometimes gets overlooked. Both bands start the album on major high notes with solid performances. Fast forward to the POWERSLAVE era for the next two tracks, Avenged Sevenfold (who I can’t stand BTW) do a decent job with my personal favorite from that Maiden record ‘Flash Of The Blade’ while Glamour Of The Kill perform ’2 Minutes To Midnight’. The vocals just kill this classic song, there is no aggression to the singing and the singer whines through the chorus. Musically, it’s good but the singing ruins it for me. I have the same problem listening to Coheed And Cambria’s version of ‘The Trooper’, the vocals kill it. Much like Glamour Of The Kill’s Davey Death, I can’t get by the whiney style that Claudio Sanchez brings to the table on this song. I’ll be honest, having never heard Coheed And Cambria before this song, I thought it was a woman singing! The backing tracks are dead to rights so I am impressed by the band getting the music down.

Devildriver is the band that features former Coal Chamber frontman Dez Fafara and they take on ‘Wasted Years’. While I’m not a fan of Devildriver and the screaming vocals, I’ll give the band credit for mimicking the guitar parts very well. ‘Run To The Hills’ is absolutely butchered by Iceland’s Sign with a danceable version of this galloping classic. At least it sounds like you could dance to it, the arrangement is awful and I have a hard time getting through it a second time for this review. By this time, I’m ready for something good. After 5 newer bands, Progressive Metal legends Dream Theater make things better with ‘To Tame A Land’, a song not often heard but definitely a welcome surprise! My favorite album from Maiden is PIECE OF MIND so right away I’m psyched and I know that Dream Theater can put together a seriously good version of the song because they have done full Maiden albums live in concert.

Like Avenged Sevenfold, Devildriver, and Fightstar, Madina Lake is one of those newer bands that Kerrang! drools over. Maybe it’s just me but this down-tuned, programmed, hardcore and Nine Inch Nails cloning is not my cup of tea and ‘Caught Somewhere In Time’ suffers for it. Same goes for Gallows and there rendition of ‘Wrathchild’, I’m not digging the Punk/Hardcore/Garage performance but I give the band credit for taking a Di’Anno song (from KILLERS). Even though Fightstar is another of these hybrid Hardcore bands I kind of like their version of ‘Fear Of The Dark’. I’m a little surprised by this because ‘Fear Of The Dark’ is in my Top 3 Iron Maiden songs of all-time and I was prepared to hate it but it’s turned out to be the surprise of the album for me. It’s kept to the original as much as possible but there are some guitar flourishes that stray a little. ‘Hallowed Be Thy Name’ from Machine Head is pretty good also and stays true to the original. 

I never get tired of the Di’Anno era of Iron Maiden, both IRON MAIDEN and KILLERS are superb records and they get overlooked all too often. Trivium is a band I haven’t gotten into yet but the buzz from their last album, 2006′s THE CRUSADE, has them poised for greatness. That remains to be seen and heard but the band does handle Iron Maiden’s signature song very well. It’s mostly spot on musically with aggressive growling and clean vocals and a few added guitar enhancements added in. It seems that Iron Maiden’s debut has stood the test of time because Los Angeles hard rockers Year Long Disaster do a great job with the punk filled ‘Running Free’. ‘Running Free’ is the song I hear in my head when I think of Paul Di’Anno and the band stays true to the original, I’m not sure you could stray from it anyway because it’s such a straight forward Rock song. If you want something totally different then Ghostlines’ version of ‘Brave New World’ will do the trick. Ghostlines describes their sound as acoustic/electronica/alternative and that’s what their interpretation of ‘Brave New World’ is. I didn’t like it on first listen because it’s so different but, after giving it a few spins, it’s grown on me.

Bottom Line:
Overall…..MAIDEN HEAVEN is a decent tribute album, especially when it’s free from a magazine! There are enough classic Iron Maiden tracks representing all eras and most are done very well from older and newer bands alike. I would have preferred a few more deep tracks to some of the more obvious classics but that’s not too big of a deal. I also would have preferred a couple more older bands like Metallica, Dream Theater, and Machine Head but I understand that the trendy new blood is what Kerrang! focuses on these days. I already like Black Tide but the performances by Trivium and Fightstar were good enough for me to get a little interested about their original music.

Favorite Songs:
For my money, the best tracks are the ones that stay true to the original versions like the Black Tide, Dream Theater & Metallica songs but a couple of different interpretations did impress, like ‘Brave New World’ from Year Long Disaster. I also really enjoyed Fightstar’s ‘Fear Of The Dark’ and Trivium’s ‘Iron Maiden’.

New Release Tuesday: Buckcherry – Black Butterfly & All That Remains – Overcome

Today was a big day as I had to run out and drop the $12.88 for the new Buckcherry album, BLACK BUTTERFLY. The cool thing was that I got another free pint glass from Newbury Comics, my local record store. I’ve been into Buckcherry since the debut in ’99 so this was a “must have” for me.

Of course that’s not all I bought! The new All That Remains album, OVERCOME, also came out today.

The sale price was $12.88 but I’m part of the Newbury Comics mailing list and the special coupon got me the CD for a cool $9.99! I just got into All That Remains late last year and they are very intense, plus they are from Massachusetts (right in my backyard!) so its good to support local area bands.

Total Cost = $23 (with a free pint glass!)

WANTED: Loudness – Metal Mad (2008)

WANTED

Loudness – Metal Mad (2008)

I’ve always had a soft spot for Japan’s Loudness ever since they released THUNDER IN THE EAST in 1985. Back then I was still learning a lot about Metal and a band from Japan just sounded so exotic, I acquired both THUNDER IN THE EAST and the follow-up LIGHTNING STRIKES (1986) on cassette and I became a Loudness fan.

Fast forward to February of this year and the announcement of Loudness’ new album, METAL MAD. The album was released in Japan on February 20 and it’s a relatively easy album to find through various Japanese import stores and Amazon but the price ranges from $25 to $35 USD depending on the exchange rate and the store. That’s not including shipping & handling! I was hoping the band would secure a U.S. distribution deal for METAL MAD but it hasn’t happened yet. I can’t really afford the CD at those prices and then add shipping so, even though I want it, I will have to wait! I’ll bet it’s a solid album…..for now I’ll have to enjoy what the band has posted at the Loudness MySpace page.

Teaser – No Big Deal (2008 demo)

Teaser – No Big Deal (2008 demo)

  1. Tease Her
  2. Make Up Your Mind
  3. Guilty Of Love

Band Lineup:
Josef Banovitz – Guitar
Mike – Lead guitar
Vinnie Lee – Bass guitar
Dave – Drums
cAndy – Vocals

Total Time = 17:28

Teaser MySpace page

Swedish melodic rockers Teaser have been on the scene since 2006 and released this 3 song demo, NO BIG DEAL, back in May. The bio on the band’s MySpace page cites influences from Journey, Def Leppard, Talisman, Hardline and other ’80s Melodic Hard Rock bands and the proof is in the music. All three songs fit easily into this style with plenty of melody and hooks to keep fans entertained but I hear some other bands in Teaser’s music. I can definitely hear some Scorpions, Whitesnake, and even some Extreme in their sound…..bands that feature strong songs, vocals, and guitarwork.

The opening track ‘Tease Her’ has that sleazy Whitesnake vibe to it where the song slowly builds up to a powerful chorus but retains a melodic sensibility that reminds me of Extreme. Lead singer cAndy has this interesting cross between Jeff Scott Soto, Gary Cherone, and David Coverdale going for him and the guitars are very good with a solid solo section. ‘Make Up Your Mind’ has a harder guitar sound, that sounds like the rockier side of Journey with a touch of mid-80s Scorpions and more Jeff Scott Soto. The guitars are what lead this song along to heavier ground until the infectious melodic chorus and the Scorpions influence is evident with both guitarists providing rhythm and lead in the same way Matthias Jabs and Rudolf Schenker have done throughout the Scorpions’ glory years. Last song, ‘Guilty Of Love’, starts out with a slow beginning and builds into an uptempo ’80s-tinged Hard Rock number with a simplified straight forward approach. This song doesn’t grab my attention right away, maybe around the chorus. Of the three songs, ‘Guilty Of Love’ sounds like it needs a bit more work to it.

Bottom Line:
A lot of new Scandi bands are exploring the seedier and sleazier side of ’80s styled Hard Rock, many of them follow the footsteps of Faster Pussycat, Guns ‘N Roses, and Pretty Boy Floyd. It’s nice to hear a band like Teaser embrace a more melodic style with some fine guitarwork and harmonies. NO BIG DEAL is a demo so I’m positive that with a little extra work in the studio these tracks will jump right out of the speakers. Definitely a new band to keep an eye on!

Favorite song:
There’s only 3 songs here so I’m going to pick just one: ‘Make Up Your Mind’. I like the harder edged guitar with the solid melodies and harmonies, it sounds like what good Rock was like back when I first started out in the early ’80s.