Archive for August, 2010

The buying never stops! Here’s a list of albums I picked up throughout August…..

Online

Cain’s Alibi – s/t (1996) – $25: I featured this CD in my Wanted column back in July 2009 and one of the band members, Paul Miller, was nice enough to leave a comment on the post. I ended up contacting Paul and he was kind enough to offer me a sealed original copy of the CD for $25 with shipping. That was a great deal! I’ve seen this CD go for over $100 many times since it became out of print years ago and Paul was cool enough to sell me one of his very few extra copies for what is basically an import price. Special thanks to Paul Miller for helping me add this to my collection.

Skullfist – Heavier Than Metal (2010) – $15: I have read a few reviews on HEAVIER THAN METAL and Skullfist sent me a press release email so I figured I would check the band out on their MySpace. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t give the music a ton of listens at the Skullfist MySpace page, I had it on in the background while I was doing something else and I just decided to buy the CD because they were a band I hadn’t heard of before. I paid $15 for a 5 song E.P. and it took about three weeks to get here from Canada.

Ebay
(price includes shipping)

Uncle Sam – Heaven Or Hollywood (1987) – $16: This album from Rochester, NY’s Uncle Sam is usually best known for it’s album cover. If you think the cover to the left is good, then you will like the original where the panties are gone and you see it all! I bought the CD, hence the censored cover art…..the vinyl has the original picture. Both formats of this album are rare and hard to find and I have been on the lookout for both for a number of years. I got this CD on the cheap because the auction ended during work hours for most people and I was able to snipe it in the last 30 seconds. I won this on my birthday, so Happy Birthday to me! The quest for the original vinyl continues.

Bangalore Choir – On Target (1992) -$10: I am one of those collector’s that always picks up those obscure, one-off albums by those obscure, one-off bands from the ’80s/early ’90s on major labels. For some reason Bangalore Choir has eluded capture for years. I used to see this album all the time at some of the old mom & pop record stores I used to hit in the late ’90s/early 2000′s but those places closed and with them went the used copies of ON TARGET. I have been watching Ebay for months since the announcement of this album getting a reissue but I never thought I would find it this cheap! Normally this is a $25+ CD!

Tokyo Blade – s/t (1983/1997 reissue) – $20: I have been collecting German reissue label High Vaultage’s releases since they debuted in 1997 but they are becoming harder and harder to find as the years go by. I also collect NWOBHM bands and Tokyo Blade is one of those bands that I like and am trying to complete their discography. This reissue came out in 1997 and includes the original album plus five bonus tracks that were originally on the MIDNIGHT RENDEZVOUS E.P. (1984). I found this album and won it at a decent price because the seller misspelled Tokyo as “Toyko”.

Eclipse – The Truth And A Little More (2001) – $8: I’ve known about Sweden’s Eclipse since this album debuted in 2001 and I saw it in the import section of my favorite record store. I never got around to buying the CD until I saw this album go for over $100 on another Ebay auction a few months ago. Turns out this CD is out of print and hard to find now so I started searching. Don’t the bidding war and skyrocket prices fool you, this album can be found on Ebay dirt cheap, I got mine for $5 plus $3 shipping and I was the only bidder!

Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982/2010 Deluxe Edition reissue) – $20: Deluxe Editions from Universal Music are things we have to come to expect in the age of reissues, remasters and cheating the consumer. If you already own the original releases, you are buying these for the expanded packaging and bonus tracks, it’s the fans that don’t own the original record that make out better. I’m a huge fan of Dio-era Sabbath so these Deluxe editions were interesting to me for the sole fact that one of the editions included a bonus disc of the LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH CD that was released in very limited quantities from Rhino Records in 2007. I didn’t order a LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH in 2007 and it’s sold out and hard to find at an affordable price. So why did I buy this LIVE EVIL deluxe edition when LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH isn’t included? Well, I thought it was! The seller listed that a copy of LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH would be included so I jumped on it. Maybe there was a 3rd disc? Maybe this guy is crazy and giving away the rare Rhino CD with LIVE EVIL? I got a CDR copy and it turns out that it’s actually on the MOB RULES Deluxe edition…..at least this is the original LIVE EVIL and not the chopped one I have from Castle Records in 1996.

Predator – Easy Prey (1985) – $10: This is the lone vinyl album that I bought this month, not that I have been buying up a ton of vinyl but I do like picking some up when the album never had a CD release. I have had this Predator album on cassette for years and it’s finally dead, I use it now as an “auto reverse changer” for my car tape deck so I can put my iPod cassette adaptor in. And just look at the album artwork…..classic! Sealed, mint, no cut holes…..worth the $10 and that’s with shipping included.

Stores

Buckcherry – All Night Long (2010) – $10: I’ve been a Buckcherry fan since I first read about them in 1997 in a Rock mag…..now it’s 14 years, 5 studio records and a live album later and I still love this band. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into BLACK BUTTERFLY (2008) until late 2009 so I’m hoping I latch onto ALL NIGHT LONG right away. I was going to pop the extra couple of bucks for the limited edition that includes a second disc of acoustic tracks titled RECKLESS SONS but it was priced the same as the regular edition. Saved $5 at Best Buy.

Black Label Society – Order Of The Black (2010) – $9: There was no doubt that the new Black Label Society record was going to be one of the most anticipated of the year. Just the controversy over his dismissal from Ozzy’s band is enough fuel to fire up the fans to buy this record. I would have bought it anyway, BLS albums are always high quality, high powered Heavy Metal. I also had to have the new BLS because Ozzfest was a week away in Mansfield (review coming soon) and I wanted to hear some new songs live…..unfortunately, the rain caused a full cancellation of the second stage and Black Label’s performance! Sale price couldn’t be beat and I saved $7 off the $16 regular price!

Jorn – Dio (2010) – $18: Whatever I saved buying the new Black Label Society got spent on the Dio tribute album from Jorn Lande! I had a digital promo from the label but I wanted my own REAL copy so I saw it and bought it. There’s no getting around the regular price on some Frontiers Records releases because they are technically European imports and it was a comparable price compared to buying online and paying the extra money on shipping. Click the link for the review.

The next four acquisitions were bought using a $40 gift card that I received for my birthday…..basically they were free so I will give you the prices I would have paid. I had a free $40 and I spent the exact amount including the sales tax!

Axel Rudi Pell – The Crest (2010) – $12: Axel Rudi Pell is one of those artists that always puts out great music but flies under the radar of many fans. It’s hard to believe that this is Pell’s 14th studio album as a solo artist. Add that to live albums and ballad collections, etc. and your talking 21 albums in 21 years! That’s a solid career and I’m not even getting into his time with Steeler…..the man is just consistent and one hell of a guitar player. Add Johnny Gioeli (ex-Hardline)back on the mic and Mike Terrana on drums and you’ve got a solid band. Saved $4.

Lillian Axe – Deep Red Shadows (2010) – $10: I’ve been listening to Lillian Axe since the first album in 1988 but I just haven’t gotten into the last two studio albums – WATERS RISING (2007) and SAD DAY ON PLANET EARTH (2009). For some reason I bought them the day they were released and they just sat in the pile waiting to be spun. I’ve listened to them but definitely not enough. This time around I’m planning on giving this album some regular play. I totally forgot that Lillian Axe had released a new album, I only noticed it when I made it a point to go through the New Release rack a second time…..I always hit the New Release rack first and grab all the new releases for that week  right away. This album came out at the beginning of August and it was still there! Saved $4 off the regular price.

Tarot – Gravity Of Light (2010) – $10: I didn’t plan on buying the new album from Finland’s Tarot until I caught a random song on a podcast a couple of weeks ago. I ended up writing the band name down and forgetting all about them. When I was flipping through the CD racks I happened to remember it and I couldn’t find it. I ended up finding it still in the New Release rack, where it had been since it’s July release! Further research shows this is their 8th studio album so if I like it I’m going to have to go back and check out the rest of the discography. For a new band (to me) I figured that I would take a chance while the CD was onsale rather than pay the full price later, I ending up saving $6.

Gene Simmons Family Jewels (The Complete Season 2) (2007) – $6: Aside from the first few episodes, I have never been a big Family Jewels fan. Maybe it’s because I don’t get the chance to watch primetime TV…..maybe it’s because I know that the show is staged…..maybe it’s because I don’t want to see one of my Rock heroes make a fool out of himself! It wasn’t until this past season that I watched the show religiously on the DVR and it really wasn’t that bad. I decided to start grabbing the previous seasons on DVD so when I saw this sealed for a meager $6 I snagged it. The steal of the month! Saved $14 assuming the regular price is $20.

Total = $161

Total (year) = $1206

Average price (per item) = $10.31

Total CDs (year) = 106

Total DVDs (year) = 3

Total Box Sets (year) = 6

Total LPs (year) = 2

Jorn – Dio (2010, Frontiers Records)

  1. Song For Ronnie James
  2. Invisible
  3. Shame On The Night
  4. Push
  5. Stand Up And Shout
  6. Don’t Talk To Strangers
  7. Lord Of The Last Day
  8. Night People
  9. Sacred Heart
  10. Sunset Superman
  11. Lonely Is The Word/Letters From Earth
  12. Kill The King
  13. Straight Through the Heart (live)
  14. Song For Ronnie James (video)

Band Lineup:
Jorn Lande – Vocals
Tor Erik Myhre – Guitars
Jgor Gianola – Guitars
Tore St Moren – Guitars
Nic Angileri – Bass
Willy Bendiksen – Drums & Percussion
Tommy Hansen – Keyboards

Producer: Tommy Hansen

Country: Norway

Total Time = 66:17

Jorn Lande
Jorn Lande MySpace page
Frontiers Records
Ronnie James Dio 

Nothing was more shocking for me than the announcement on May 16, 2010 that Ronnie James Dio, one of my all-time Heavy Metal heroes, had passed away after fighting a valiant effort against stomach cancer. I grew up listening to Dio’s music with Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Dio so the news really hit home s it reverberated around the globe. At 67 years old, one of the greatest Rock singers of all-time was gone.

About a week later came a press release from Frontiers Records announcing the new album from Jorn Lande titled DIO. It was a little shocking to see a press release of this kind so quickly after RJD’s death and it looked like a very convenient marketing ploy to capitalize on his death. Fans worldwide started to voice their criticism on message boards and forums towards Jorn Lande and Frontiers Records for what seemed like an obvious cash-in but that turned out to not be the case. Jorn Lande has always been very vocal in his admiration of and influence from Ronnie James Dio and this tribute album was started back in the Spring of 2009 with the full cooperation and blessing of Ronnie James & Wendy Dio and Niji Entertainment. Even though it was a planned release to pay tribute to his hero, Jorn took a lot of heat for announcing DIO because it was just too soon after Ronnie’s death.

DIO is a 13 song collection of one new song, ‘Song For Ronnie James’, and twelve Dio classics taken from his work in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band. What makes this tribute record stand out is the song selection. Most tribute records feature the most obvious and famous songs in order to sell product but Jorn Lande went the extra mile in my opinion by picking out some deep tracks. Some obvious song choices would have been ‘Holy Diver’, ‘The Last In Line’, ‘Heaven & Hell’ and maybe ‘Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll’ but they aren’t here! Instead we get some deep tracks like ‘Lord Of The Last Day’ from MAGICA (2000), ‘Push’ from KILLING THE DRAGON (2002), ‘Night People’ off DREAM EVIL (1987) and a medley ‘Lonely Is The Word/Letters From Earth’ from Black Sabbath’s HEAVEN & HELL (1980) and DEHUMANIZER (1992) albums. Five of the songs come from Dio’s first album, HOLY DIVER (1983) and two come from DREAM EVIL but I was surprised that Jorn picked nothing from THE LAST IN LINE (1984).  I was also expecting at least two each from Ronnie’s days in both Rainbow and Black Sabbath but it’s great to have the focus on Dio’s solo career because it’s just as legendary as his previous works. The performances are mostly a straight rendition of the original tracks so the entire album is completely familiar…..the only difference is really Jorn’s voice, which is in top form as always. The lone original, ‘Song For Ronnie James’, is OK…..basically an average song when compared to Jorn’s original material. Most of the lyrics are song and/or album titles and it’s meant to be a tribute to the master. I can’t really fault it but it’s not really my favorite either.

Bottom Line:
Everyone knows that I can’t stand cover songs included on new albums of original material but I like tribute albums…..strange isn’t it? Aside from the questionable timing of the press release and album release, DIO is a solid tribute album with a decent song selection and excellent performances. Ronnie James Dio always insisted on high quality and Jorn Lande has learned well from his master because this is a highly listenable record and a cool overview of the legend’s career. ‘Song For Ronnie James’ isn’t the greatest original song but it’s listenable so it gets a pass. If you’re a fan of Ronnie James Dio or Jorn Lande then it’s an album worth checking out.

Favorite Songs:
The deeper tracks are the best ones. The Black Sabbath medley of ‘Lonely Is The Word/Letter From Earth’ is excellent as is the Rainbow cover ‘Kill The King’. If I had to pick the best four covers of Dio originals, I’d go with ‘Push’, ‘Sunset Superman’, ‘Sacred Heart’ and ‘Night People’…..the deep tracks!

I went to Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut for the second time in a week Thursday night to see my favorite band in concert…..KISS. This was my second show on “The Hottest Show On Earth” Tour, I saw the show in Mansfield, MA two weeks before, and the third in the last year promoting the band’s latest album SONIC BOOM (2009). Overall, this was the 18th time seeing KISS in concert dating back all the way to 1987! This time around I went to the show with a few friends, got a great meal again at Mohegan Sun and saw another awesome show.

Just like the Mansfield concert, KISS had two regular opening bands, The Academy Is and The Envy, and a band that won the Guitar Center contest for that show (that is actually from the Boston are and not Connecticut like I thought!), Tester. Just like the Mansfield concert, we opted not to go in for the opening bands and take our time at dinner. Showtime was 6:30pm and KISS doesn’t hit the stage until at least 8:45pm so there were 2+ hours to kill. After dinner and a walk around the casino, we headed in the arena and straight to the merchandise stand. With no kids this time around, I figured I could get myself another tour shirt but it turned out there were no XXL t-shirts at any of the booths…..I found out that the order for the show didn’t arrive. I wasn’t going to go empty-handed so instead of $45 for a shirt (XXL is $5 more!), I went with the $70 zip hoodie! Why not give Paul & Gene more of my money? I’ve been doing it since I was a kid! We actually got to our seats in time to see the last two songs of The Academy Is, we heard an original and a cover of The Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’. Good thing they covered The Sweet because the original I heard wasn’t impressive! We were in the arena a good hour before KISS took the stage and I was a little worried that the arena wasn’t filling up, there were a lot of empty seats. What I didn’t know was that KISS was being inducted into the Mohegan Sun Walk of Fame OUTSIDE the arena and the band made an appearance in the mall area! It figures I would miss something cool like that! By the time KISS took the stage it looked to me like most of the seats were filled…..Mohegan holds about 10,000 people for events but, with the big stage and the back not being sold, I estimate there were around 8000 people in attendance. On to the show…..

KISS setlist:

Modern Day Delilah
Cold Gin
Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll
Firehouse (with Gene Simmons breathing fire)
Say Yeah
Deuce
Crazy Crazy Nights
Calling Dr. Love
Shock Me (Tommy Thayer lead vocal)
(Guitar & Drum solo from Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer)
I’m An Animal
100,000 Years
(Bass solo, blood-spitting and flying from Gene Simmons)
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
(Guitar intro/solo from Paul Stanley featuring ‘Whole Lotta Love’)
Black Diamond (Eric Singer lead vocal)
Detroit Rock City

Encore:
Beth (Eric Singer lead vocal)
(Donation check presentation for supporting our troops followed by the Pledge of Allegiance)
Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made For Loving You (with Paul flying stunt)
God Gave Rock ‘N Roll To You II
Rock And Roll All Nite

The show at Mohegan was the exact same show as the one in Mansfield and primarily the same show they are doing across North America. There were a couple of things of note: Paul Stanley’s voice was a little raspier compared to the Mansfield show and I thought the solo section by Eric & Tommy was a little less exciting than at Mansfield. I’ve noticed that the rest of the band have handled most, if not all, the backing vocals at the last couple of concerts I’ve seen, maybe that’s a way to conserve some of Paul’s voice? I think Paul is trying too hard with some of the higher shrieks he attempts during his between song raps with the crowd and that could be doing more damage than good. The again, Paul is getting closer to 60 yrs old! Also, I always like an arena show better than an amphitheater show but the crowd at Mohegan Sun wasn’t as loud or wild compared to the outdoor crowd at the Comcast Center. There was also another check presentation on stage to the Wounded Warriors Foundation showing the updated total of $184,743 donated. Outside of those few differences, the show was exactly the same. It was another good performance by the band, and even though I’m in favor of the original four members, I think this lineup with Eric Singer & Tommy Thayer is a solid performing band. Both guys did a great job playing and their vocals were really good for ‘Shock Me’, ‘Black Diamond’ and ‘Beth’. The band performed ‘Beth’ again acoustically with Eric on vocals and I was really impressed again. Gene Simmons also really put on a solid performance, I thought his vocals were really great and he had a ton of energy. With Paul’s voice faltering a bit, it’s good to hear Gene sound so good…..back in 2003 and 2004 it was Paul who was stronger and gene who was weaker.

Like I said before, the concert was great, I don’t ever get sick of seeing KISS perform! I thought the three songs from SONIC BOOM came off well live again and hearing ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ a second time this tour was awesome. I’m a KISS diehard so the entire setlist was great but there were some KISS klassics that were highlights again: ‘Lick It Up’, ‘Shout It Out Loud’, ‘Detroit Rock City’, ‘Black Diamond’, ‘Cold Gin, ‘Firehouse’ and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’. It was nice to see another solid performance from the band because this is was the last New England area show on this tour and it could be another couple of years before they come around again, maybe with a new record?

Tuesday night I finally had the opportunity to see one of my favorite bands for the first time…..after 27 years, I finally got to see Night Ranger in concert! I have been a Night Ranger fan since the band’s debut album, DAWN PATROL, was released in 1982 and I caught the first video for ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’. Once the band released their second album, MIDNIGHT MADNESS (1983), I was hooked! I grew up with FM radio and MTV and the three singles from that album were everywhere: ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’, ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ and ‘Sister Christian’. Add in albums like 7 Wishes (1985) and BIG LIFE (1987) and Night Ranger rocked me through the ’80s…..but I never saw them in concert. Times change and when the ’90s came, I lost touch of Night Ranger until I got back into fanzines, and got connected to the Internet in the Fall of 1998, that’s when I became tuned into their new albums NEVERLAND (1997) and SEVEN (1998) but I still missed opportunities to see the band live. As it turns out, Night Ranger visits Mohegan Sun every year and I have never gone! If it wasn’t for my friend giving me the heads up, and a well timed week’s vacation, I might have missed out again!

Night Ranger setlist:

This Boy Needs To Rock (w/part of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’)
Sing Me Away
You’re Gonna Hear From Me
Rumours In The Air
Coming Of Age (Damn Yankees cover)
Crazy Train (Ozzy Osbourne cover)
The Secret Of My Success

(A quick jam of partial songs from each member’s first concert)
The Doors – ‘Roadhouse Blues’ (Kelly Keagy)
Led Zeppelin – ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’ (Brad Gillis)
Iron Maiden – ‘The Trooper’ (Joel Hoekstra)
Van Halen – ‘Jump’ (Christian Cullen)
Jimi Hendrix – ‘Purple Haze’ (Jack Blades)

Sentimental Street (w/keyboard solo intro)
Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight
High Enough (Damn Yankess cover)
Four In The Morning
When You Close Your Eyes
Don’t Tell Me You Love Me

Encore:
Sister Christian
(You Can Still) Rock In America

This was another free show at the Wolf Den in the middle of the Mohegan Sun Casino, that meant standing in line for few hours if we wanted to actually get inside because capacity is 400. The Wolf Den is more of a lounge than an arena with it’s tables and bar but many people do get up at the front of the stage on the floor. My friend and I got a late start to the casino but we had plenty of time for a great dinner and we got in line with about an hour until showtime. One thing I knew from the Ace Frehley concert in March was, if the Wolf Den was full, people would be standing outside the arena in the open views from the slot machines. We were in line about 15 minutes when I saw an usher start to talk to people at the front…..turns out the Den was full and we were all on standby! That was my cue to take up residence on the outside railing of the arena with full view of the stage. If it wasn’t for the waist high log barrier, we would have been about 10-12 rows back, stage right corner!

The show was great! Night Ranger played a set full of hit singles like ‘Sing Me Away’, ‘Four In The Morning’. ‘Sentimental Street’ and ‘When You Close Your Eyes’ and they threw in a deep track from 7 WISHES, ‘This Boy Needs To Rock’, and a song from their last album HOLE IN THE SUN (1998), ‘You’re Gonna Hear From Me’. All the Night Ranger songs got a ton of applause, it’s amazing to remember just how many hits and radio singles these guys got back in the day, but the two songs that got a HUGE round of cheers were the two Damn Yankees songs: ‘Coming Of Age’ & ‘High Enough’. Going into the show I hadn’t checked the setlist online so I had no idea they played some Damn Yankees. I’m not surprised they pulled those two out, they were big hits for Jack Blades in the early ’90s and they fit perfectly in the Night Ranger set. The band was tight, played great and looked to be having a great time on stage.

The band included a few surprises by doing a few partial covers and a full performance of Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train’. Opening song ‘This Boy Needs To Rock’ had a quick partial performance of Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and introduced their cover of ‘Crazy Train’ by reminding everyone that Brad Gillis replaced the late Randy Rhoads on tour and played on the live album SPEAK OF THE DEVIL (1982)…..hearing Gillis’ version of ‘Crazy Train’ was flawless and the band did a solid job. Midway through the set, the band started talking about their first concerts and they went to each member and played a partial cover from each band. This took a few minutes, and I would have preferred another Night Ranger song, but the band were enjoying themselves and the crowd gave good applause for the quick pieces of ‘Roadhouse Blues’, ‘Rock ‘n’Roll’, ‘The Trooper’, ‘Jump’ and ‘Purple Haze’. Normally I would go on about my dislike of covers but Night Ranger only put in partial performances, and the ‘Crazy Train’ cover was really good, so I didn’t mind like I usually do. The encore was perfect…..the band’s biggest hit, ‘Sister Christian’, and their anthem, ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’…..a great way to end the show!

You couldn’t ask for more, the band played all their hits (although ‘Goodbye’ was missing!) and their more popular album tracks. I thought it was great to include the two Damn Yankees hits and I was psyched to hear a song from the band’s most recent album. I would have easily traded ‘Crazy Train’ and the mid-set covers jam for ‘Goodbye’ or a couple of songs from either NEVERLAND (1997) or SEVEN (1998) but they weren’t as intrusive live as they would be on a new studio album. Fifteen songs and a covers jam packed into a solid 90 minute performance with a good crowd, can’t beat that! All in all, a great concert…..and it was FREE! Too bad I had to wait 27 years to finally see Night Ranger live…..that won’t happen again!

Bret Michaels – Custom Built (2010, Poor Boy Records)

  1. Riding Against the Wind
  2. Lie To Me
  3. Nothing To Lose (featuring Miley Cyrus)
  4. Wasted Time
  5. What I Got
  6. Every Rose Has It’s Thorn (Country version)*
  7. Go That Far (Club Mix)**
  8. Driven (Rock Mix)
  9. Open Road
  10. Rock’n My Country
  11. Nothing To Lose (Bret only demo)
  12. I’d Die For You

*(featuring Brad Arnold of 3 Doors Down, Chris Cagle, Mark Wills)
**(by Jason Miller of Godhead)

Full album credits located at http://www.bretmichaels.com/2010/music_files/custombuilt.html

Producers: Bret Michaels & Pete Evick

Total Time = 42:45

Bret Michaels
Bret Michaels MySpace page

Here we go again! This is Round #2 of Bret Michaels’ reality television career and recording career combining to produce a new album!

Back in 2008, hot on the heels of the successful VH-1 reality series Rock Of Love, Bret Michaels released a “new” album titled ROCK MY WORLD. Unfortunately, ROCK MY WORLD wasn’t a new album but rather a collection of three new songs and nine previously released tracks from previous solo records. The album was advertised as a brand new album and it actually was, the problem was that the casual fan and buying public didn’t actually know that most of the songs were released three or five years previous. I was lucky to get an advance copy so I didn’t have to spend my hard earned cash but what about all the people who did? What about the diehard fans who already had Bret’s previous solo albums SONGS OF LIFE (2003) and FREEDOM OF SOUND (2005)? Now it’s two years later and Bret is about to debut a new VH-1 reality show, Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It, in the Fall and we get a new album, CUSTOM BUILT. Again we are told this is a brand new album but is it? Is it a new set of songs or is this album “custom built” like ROCK MY WORLD? The bad news is that Bret has followed the previous formula and released another CD just like ROCK MY WORLD but this time around we get four new songs, a cover song and only seven previously released songs but three of those previously released songs are actually different mixes! Get all that? Four new songs!

Let’s run down the tracklisting:

  • ‘Riding Against The Wind’ — This is the new theme song to Bret Michaels: Life As I Know It. Overall, it’s not a bad tune, it’s an upbeat Rock song that has a touch of the lighter side of Poison.
  • ‘Lie To Me’ — Another pretty good Rock song that is very gritty sounding and retains the trademark Poison sexual theme. I really like the guitar tone here, it makes the song heavier than it really is.
  • ‘Nothing To Lose’ — This is the much hyped duet with Disney Channel’s Miley Cyrus, better known as Hannah Montana. I went into this song with a ton of dread but it’s actually one of the best songs on the album! Cyrus’ contribution is basically background vocals and harmonies on this Country sounding ballad and, even though her singing is a little distracting, she actually adds something to the song. Bret does Country well, you can hear it in his Poison ballads from years past, so I don’t mind this song at all. I actually like it a lot!
  • ‘Wasted Time’ — Second ballad in a row and another trademark Bret Michaels ballad that sounds like Poison but with that Country tinge. I think it’s safe to say that Bret can write great ballads and both new ballads on CUSTOM BUILT outshine the two new Rock songs.

OK, those are the the new songs and so far the album is pretty good but let’s continue…..

  • ‘What I Got’ — A cover of the Sublime song from their 1996 self-titled third album. I actually like this song, at least I like the Sublime original, because it’s catchy. Bret’s version is a bit more Rocker than the Alternative/Ska/Pop mainstream hit. It’s a cover though and I could forgive it if the rest of the album was original material.
  • ‘Every Rose Has It’s Thorn’ (Country version) — It’s the Poison hit Country-fried…..which actually isn’t too far from the original. What’s most important here is that it was previously released on FREEDOM OF SOUND (2005)
  • ‘Go That Far’ (Club mix) — This is the Rock Of Love theme that was the lead song from ROCK MY WORLD…..the difference here is that this is a dance club mix. It’s terrible. I’ve only made it through the song once and I barely made it. Use the skip button for this one.
  • ‘Driven’ (Rock mix) – Originally released on FREEDOM OF SOUND (2005) and re-released on ROCK MY WORLD (2008) but this is the “Rock mix”…..unnecessary. The original is good though.
  • ‘Open Road’ — Great mid-tempo Country song from Bret but it’s already been released on FREEDOM OF SOUND (2005)…..if I ever get my hands on this album, ‘Open Road’ will be one of the top songs.
  • ‘Rock’n My Country’ — Another FREEDOM OF SOUND track. If Bret likes FREEDOM OF SOUND so much, why not keep it in print and get us to buy it? For the interested…..an uptempo Country Rock hybrid.
  • ‘Nothing To Lose’ (Bret demo) — This is the same exact song as before but without Miley Cyrus, still a solid song though. Why not make this a bonus track at the end and give us a legit original?
  • ‘I’d Die For You’ — Bret really reaches deep down to re-release a song from his debut solo album, A LETTER FROM DEATH ROW (1998). I have that album, I bought into the hype of Bret’s solo debut, movie debut and directorial debut…..oh yeah, there’s a film of the same name starring Bret and this is the soundtrack.

Bottom Line:
Tale of the Tape = 4 new songs, a cover tune, an alternate version of one of the originals, 4 songs from FREEDOM OF SOUND and 1 song from A LETTER FROM DEATH ROW. Can anyone say rip-off #2?

“Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.”

That’s exactly what Bret Michaels had done two albums in a row: let’s take a few new originals and re-release a lot of songs from previous albums. This time around Bret sees fit to shake it up and give us a cover and a couple different mixes of previous tunes. This was obviously carbon copy of ROCK MY WORLD, an album to promote a reality TV series catering to the casual fan and Poison diehards who need everything. How do people get away with this? This time around, I paid the hard-earned cash only to be duped…..imagine my disappointment finding out I paid for only four new songs out of twelve. Even the booklet is bad…..there is no booklet! If it wasn’t for a really awful album by another band in 2008, ROCK MY WORLD would have been my Worst Album of 2008…..so far CUSTOM BUILT is the leading candidate for 2010. Even the four good originals can’t hide my disappointment!

Favorite Songs:
I really like the first four brand new songs. The best of the four are the two ballads: ‘Nothing To Lose’ (with or without Miley Cyrus) and ‘Wasted Time’.

I went to see my favorite band, KISS, in concert Saturday night at the Comcast Center…..this made the 17th time I have seen the band live. What made this concert special was that my wife, my two daughters, my two best friends and my best friend’s son were there to tailgate in the parking lot and enjoy the show. Everyone had a good time in the parking lot, especially my daughters, take a look at a few pictures from our tailgate…..we stopped a few fans that dressed up for some pictures.

The opening bands were The Academy Is and The Envy but there was also a third opener from Boston called Switchblade Suicide that won a Guitar Center contest to open the show. We didn’t bother going in for the openers so the kids wouldn’t get too tired, plus we had no idea who any of these bands were. Normally I am in the arena for all the bands but I’m going to see KISS again on 8/19 at Mohegan Sun so I will see some of them at that show. We got in, got all the tour shirts and got to the seats.

KISS setlist:

Modern Day Delilah
Cold Gin
Let Me Go Rock ‘n’ Roll
Firehouse  (with Gene Simmons breathing fire)
Say Yeah
Deuce
Crazy Crazy Nights
Calling Dr. Love
Shock Me  (Tommy Thayer lead vocal)
(Guitar & Drum solo from Tommy Thayer & Eric Singer)
I’m An Animal
100,000 Years
(Bass solo, blood-spitting and flying from Gene Simmons)
I Love It Loud
Love Gun
(Guitar intro/solo from Paul Stanley featuring ‘Whole Lotta Love’)
Black Diamond (Eric Singer lead vocal)
Detroit Rock City

Encore:
Beth (Eric Singer lead vocal)
(Donation check presentation for supporting our troops followed by the Pledge of Allegiance)
Lick It Up
Shout It Out Loud
I Was Made For Loving You (with Paul flying stunt)
God Gave Rock ‘N Roll To You II
Rock And Roll All Nite

We were about 30 rows from the stage, great seats. My oldest daughter was pumped up because she is now a Rock concert veteran having seen KISS in Boston last October and Twisted Sister last November. My wife hadn’t seen KISS since 2004 when they toured with Poison but the night belonged to my youngest daughter going to her first Rock concert. There was no one more excited than her to see KISS but when the first concussion bomb/firework went off, she was done. That was enough for here…..one song and out! My wife anticipated this so she took her to the grass lawn but by the end of ‘Cold Gin’ they were on their way to the car for a rest. I was a little disappointed because there were younger kids there but you never know how children will react to anything. Unfortunately, they missed a great show (my wife insisted my oldest daughter and I stay) but my youngest daughter was satisfied, she had seen KISS come out on stage and play a song. My wife was lucky because she heard the entire show from the parking lot because we were parked close to the arena. Aside from my daughter’s reaction, all went smooth for the show. My oldest daughter and I had a blast. My best friend and his son were two sections to my right and my other best friend bought his ticket that morning and was in the 9th row! We were six rows behind the soundboard and the mini-stage that Paul Stanley flies to during ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, dead center, so we had awesome seats. As far as the arena went, you could see that the lawn seats and grass lawn were spotty but it looked like the seating under the pavilion was packed, I estimate that they played to about 9000 fans, maybe 10,000…..not a sellout but a solid crowd.

The last tour was the ALIVE 35 Tour but this was THE HOTTEST SHOW ON EARTH Tour so the setlist was changed a little: the band played 21 songs total and only 11 were in the previous tour’s setlist. There were three new songs from their latest record SONIC BOOM (‘Modern Day Delilah’, ‘Say Yeah’ & ‘I’m An Animal’) and they dusted off ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’, ‘Shock Me’ and an acoustic version of ‘Beth’ with both Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer handling the lead vocals very well. I was at the CRAZY NIGHTS show in Providence, RI way back on 12/12/1987 so it was a real treat to hear ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’ after 22+ years and it’s also my daughter’s favorite KISS song so you know how she reacted. The band sounded great and I’m not just saying that because I’m a KISS diehard, I really thought that this lineup with Eric and Tommy put on a solid show musically and visually. I’m a KISS fan that prefers the makeup stay on Ace Frehley and Peter Criss but Tommy and Eric do a solid job, especially on the vocals! I thought that adding ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Beth’ (both Ace & Peter’s signature songs) were a huge mistake and sacrilegious but both members did a good job living up to the standard both Ace and Peter have set. Also, I thought that Eric did a solid job in singing ‘Black Diamond’ and the joint guitar/drum solo was one of the better ones I have heard in all my years of going to see KISS. Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley were right on the money as far as their performances and I thought that they were definitely better and more energized than when I saw them last October. At the ALIVE 35 Boston show, Paul’s voice sounded strained and hoarse but this time around he sounded a lot better. There were a few rough spots on the higher notes but the guy has been one of the better, and underrated, Rock singers for about 36 years…..I hope I move and sound that good when I am 58 years old!

There were a ton of highlights in the set…..I thought the three new songs were great live and it was good to hear people around us singing along. Paul Stanley was able to give the album a funny plug before ‘Say Yeah’ as “being available at Wal-Mart”. There were a lot of KISS klassics like ‘Firehouse’, ‘Deuce’ and ‘Black Diamond’ but the highlight of the show for my daughter and I (aside from ‘Crazy Crazy Nights’) was the triple attack of ‘Lick It Up’, ‘Shout It Out Loud’ and ‘I Was Made For Loving You’. There is something uniquely satisfying about your daughter singing every word louder than you! If my youngest daughter had made it through the show there is no doubt in my mind that the whole family would have sung along together because these are the tunes they know by heart. As I mentioned before, we were 6 rows from the mini-stage that Paul Stanley flies to so when he came out for ‘I Was Made For Loving You’, both my daughter and I got an up close performance…..my wife would have loved that too. You also can’t have a KISS concert without their signature song and ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’ brought the house down with all the confetti, fireworks, lights and special effects…..a truly visual experience! I had a blast, my daughter had a blast and, when we got to the car, we found out that my wife and youngest daughter had fun too. All in all, it was a great night for the family.

Here is some footage I found on Youtube to give you an idea of what the show was like.

Vince Neil – Tattoos & Tequila (2010, Eleven Seven Music)

  1. Tattoos And Tequila *
  2. He’s A Whore
  3. AC/DC
  4. Nobody’s Fault
  5. Another Bad Day *
  6. No Feelings
  7. Long Cool Woman
  8. Another Piece Of Meat
  9. Who’ll Stop The Rain
  10. Viva Las Vegas
  11. Bitch Is Back

(* new studio track)

Band Lineup:
Vince Neil – Vocals
Dana Strum – Bass
Jeff Blando – Guitars & Background Vocals
Zoltan Chaney – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Brad Gillis – guitar solo (8)
Marti Frederiksen – bass, drums, keyboards, percussion and background vocals (1,5)
Will Evankovich – acoustic guitar (9)
Anthony Focx – drums (5)
Christian Matthew Cullen – keyboards (11)
Jack Blades – background vocals
Mollie Solow – background vocals (4,8,11)

Executive Producer: Vince Neil
Producers: Jack Blades & Marti Frederiksen

Total Time = 38:27

Vince Neil
Vince Neil MySpace page
Motley Crue
Eleven Seven Music

Just in time for Motley Crue’s co-headlining summer run at Ozzfest 2010, frontman Vince Neil has released his third solo album. Huh?

When I heard that Vince was putting out a new album I was pretty excited because I am a fan of his two solo albums post-Crue, EXPOSED (1993) and CARVED IN STONE (1995). I’m also a big Motley Crue fan and I figured that a new Vince solo record would sound similar to a new Crue album. Vince may not be the best singer in Rock but his voice is so distinctive that you can’t help but identify the vocals with Motley Crue. So here I am waiting for more information on this new album and I find out that only 2 out of 11 songs are originals! (Those buying the European pressing get a 12th track, a cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers’.) Only two new songs? I could see if Vince was releasing some unreleased material, or a greatest hits collection and then added the two new songs but this is basically a covers album. That screams laziness to me especially when Vince didn’t even co-write anything on the two new songs. Why bother releasing an album then?

So here’s how the new album runs: new song, Cheap Trick cover, The Sweet cover, Aerosmith cover, new song, Sex Pistols cover, The Hollies cover, Scorpions cover, Creedence Clearwater Revival cover, Elvis cover, and an Elton John cover. Impressive…..right?

The two new songs are pretty good and they sound very much like Motley Crue. The title song, written by song guru Marti Frederiksen is pretty good, it catchy chorus with a modern sounding arrangement mixed with that Motley sleaze. If you could find an autobiographical song for Vince, this would be it…..actually, this album is supposed to be the soundtrack to an upcoming book Vince is writing on his life. Kind of like Nikki Sixx’s Sixx AM band and THE HEROIN DIARIES book and album. The second new track is ‘Another Bad Day’, a song co-written by Nikki Sixx, Tracii Guns, James Michael (Sixx AM) and Grammy award winning songwriter Kevin Kadish. I’m not sure about the original writing session for the song but James Michael helped write on Motley Crue’s NEW TATTOO (2000) and SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES (2008) and also on Nikki’s side project Brides Of Destruction. Tracii Guns was a member of the Brides and Kevin Kadish helped write on that project as well. So it’s safe to say that Nikki had this song in the can between 2000 and 2008. ‘Another Bad Day’ is a melodic mid-tempo ballad and it’s actually pretty good, basically a Motley Crue style track.

 As far as the covers go, there are some that aren’t that bad and they are pretty much straightforward performances. I like his cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Nobody’s Fault’, the Scorpions’ ‘Another Piece Of Meat’, CCR’s ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ and The Hollies’ ‘Long Cool Woman’. The other cover songs are OK at best with the cover of Elvis’ ‘Viva Las Vegas’ being the worst, maybe we could add the Sex Pistols’ ‘No Feelings’ in there too. What Vince has going for him here is excellent production from Frederiksen and Night Ranger mainman Jack Blades and a superb band that includes Slaughter members Dana Strum & Jeff Blando and drummer Zoltan Chaney who has been rumored to hold the drum stool in the Crue everytime Tommy Lee decides it’s time to leave again. The band sounds perfect, Strum and Blando are seasoned veterans and Chaney has a huge drum sound…..even Vince sounds in decent voice.

Bottom Line:
If you’ve been a reader of this site for the last 4+ years, then you know my opinions regarding cover songs so it’s almost expected that I am going to crucify this album but I am going to try and be kind. I like the two new songs that are basically Motley leftovers and I like half the covers, not just because of song choice but also performance. I’m still disappointed though. When you advertise a “new album” and you hype it up, let it be a true new album. Releasing nine or ten covers with two new tracks that you had no hand in writing screams laziness to me. It’s not like Vince is the main songwriting force behind the Crue but he can write and has contributed in the past, at least contribute something! This album gives off the same empty feeling that all those late ’90s tribute albums with all-star lineups did, something Vince did a few times. You’ve got a good backing band, good producers and a label headed by your Crue bandmate, why not put some effort in and throw in more originals? If this were an album of ten originals and two covers then I would rate this higher but it isn’t and I can’t. I bought this for the curiosity and completist factors but it was $10 wasted. This is a trend that is happening way too much in today’s Rock world.

Favorite Songs:
I like the two new tracks ‘Tattoos & Tequila’ and ‘Another Bad Day’. As for the covers, give me the Scorpions, The Hollies and CCR as the best of the bunch.

Dark Age – Acedia (2010, AFM Records)

  1. Kingdom Nevercome
  2. Devote Yourself To Nothing
  3. Neon Gardens
  4. Snake Of June
  5. Zeitgeist (Ghost In A Machine)
  6. 10 Steps To Nausea
  7. Halo Meridian
  8. Underneath These Burdens
  9. All The Unfulfilled
  10. Babylon Riots
  11. Myself Heretic

Band Lineup:
Eike Freese – Vocals & Guitars
Jörn Schubert – Guitars
Alex Henke – Bass
André Schumann – Drums
Martin Reichert – Keyboards

Producer: Eike Freese

Country: Germany

Total Time = 44:03

Dark Age
Dark Age MySpace page
AFM Records

Dark Age is a Melodic Death Metal band from Germany that I never heard of until ACEDIA dropped into my inbox. I thought they were a new band but Dark Age has been around since 1996 releasing 3 demos, 6 studio albums, and E.P. and a live DVD…..that’s not a bad career so far. ACEDIA is album number six, their first for AFM Records, and was released in November 2009 everywhere but North America. I received my North American copy at the beginning of the 2010 so I am counting it as a 2010 album…..whatever the back of the CD says!

Melodic Death Metal in it’s most basic form is a combination of the crushing thrash and guttural vocals with melodic rhythms of more traditional forms of Heavy Metal. As with any genre, over the course of time there are going to be added elements, embellishments and enhancements to the overall sound and that can include orchestration, keyboards, clean vocals and acoustics. In my quest for exploring more extreme forms of Metal this year, Melodic Death Metal makes the transition for Heavy Metal and Hard Rock to Death & Black Metal a little easier. I’ve been listening to some Melodic Death Metal bands all along and didn’t realize they fit that genre…..Amon Amarth, In Flames, At The Gates, Dark Tranquility. (We can debate the merits of each genre and where each band fits but that is always a matter of opinion.) What I can say about other Melodic Death Metal bands with my growing exposure is that I personally prefer their more aggressive songs and the harsher vocals…..and that is where I am conflicted by Dark Age and ACEDIA.

Overall ACEDIA has more of a modern Rock, Nu-Metal and Alternative Metal (Alt-Metal) sound to it than traditional Death Metal. There are a few songs where the music is heavy, thrashing in some spots, and the vocals are growling harsh but the overall balance of the album is clean vocals, electronica, keyboards and rhythms & riffs I heard 10-11 years ago when the Alt-Metal and Nu-Metal scenes exploded to FM radio. I have listened to this album over and over again and all I hear are the similarities to Linkin Park, Blink 182, Drowning Pool and the like. If you like that kind of music then this album by Dark Age will satisfy but if you want more Death in your Metal then I would look elsewhere. It’s almost as if each song has a promising riff and some solid growls but then it turns to an atmospheric sound with that whining drone of Linkin Park. I was actually waiting for the raps to show up in the middle of a few songs especially in the songs where their are no harsh vocals and the music is more akin to aggressive dance rock (if there is such a thing). This is music tailor made for today’s brain dead radio playlists and even then it sounds like something I heard on Ozzfest in the late ’90s/early 2000s. On the good side, the production is excellent, the album sounds good but it still isn’t my kind of music.

Bottom Line:
Definitely not an album for me! Maybe Dark Age has a harder and heavier side on previous albums but I doubt that I will be checking them out anytime soon…..and that’s what sucks about an album like ACEDIA, it can turn you off from checking out some previously good albums. I was never a fan of the Alt-Metal, Nu-Metal and modern Rock scenes so the overall sound this album has just turns me right off. I gave this album way too many spins because I felt like I was missing something but that feeling wore off mid-album because then I felt like I was wasting my time, I can’t find anything I like here except for maybe a few guitar parts and a few vocal lines. When you get down to it, all the songs sound the same! AFM Records has promoted Dark Age as a Melodic Death Metal band but I just don’t hear it, maybe in some parts of some songs…..I just feel like I have been a victim of false advertising. For me, one of the worst albums of the year so far.

Favorite Songs:
(none)

So this whole “month of purchases” has really turned out to be about 6 weeks worth…..that’s what happens when you don’t keep up with posting! Buy, buy, buy…..that seems to be my motto lately, I just wish I had more time to listen! So here is what is left from the last few weeks…..

Newbury Comics

Black Majesty – In Your Honour (2010) – $14: A little pricey for a new release on sale but I like this Australian Power Metal band so I would have picked this up at some point. Regular price was $17 so I saved $3. I was able to pick up the European digipak on Limb Music, that meant I got the two bonus tracks: ‘Two Hearts’ and ‘Silent Company (acoustic)’. Taking a look at my collection, it seems that I have picked up all but one of Black Majesty’s releases, the first album SANDS OF TIME (2003)…..now I’m on to filling the hole in the collection!

In This Moment – A Star-Crossed Wasteland (2010) – $10: I have heard a few songs from In This Moment and I have read a ton of reviews on all their albums so they have been on my list for a while to try out. This is their newest album and I figured the $10 sale price was a good chance to take. I don’t know what it is about this band that has had me so intrigued over the last year, maybe it’s singer Maria Brink? I picked up the regular version, I see there is a deluxe edition with 2 bonus tracks and a bonus DVD and I’m sure that will be pricey. Regular price on the standard version is $16 so I saved $6.

In This Moment – The Dream (Ultra Violet Edition) (2008) – $10 used: When I get it in my head that I want to check out a band, I usually do my research. I have been watching this used copy of THE DREAM for a couple of months and it has been sitting right in front a brand new copy of the same edition priced at $18. When I picked up A STAR-CROSSED WASTELAND, I decided that it was time to pick up this album at the lower price. Who knows how long it will stay there $8 cheaper! With my luck it won’t be there next time around so I grabbed it and saved the $8. Turns out there are 5 versions of this CD: the regular release, the Japanese pressing, the U.K. pressing, the limited edition with a bonus audio CD and this Ultra Violet Edition. The difference is that this set includes the regular album plus a bonus disc that includes 5 bonus tracks culled from the U.K. & Japanese pressing alongwith a musiv video and live performances. Well worth the $10!

Hell Yeah – Stampede (Deluxe Edition) (2010) – $15: Even though I’m a Pantera fan, I’ve never gotten around to picking up any of the members’ solo projects. That includes Down, Superjoint Ritual, Damageplan and Hell Yeah. I’m not sure why I never bothered but I figured why not pick up this new record while it was on sale? I ended up springing for the deluxe edition with the bonus live DVD because the sale price difference with the standard version was only a couple of bucks. Why not pay $2 more and get a bonus DVD? Regular price on this deluxe version was $20 so I saved $5.

Hell Yeah – s/t (2007) – $6 used: Same situation as with In This Moment: I decided I wanted to try out a band that’s new to me and I couldn’t pass up getting an older album at a great price. When I grabbed STAMPEDE in the New Release rack, I noticed there were no standard versions left so I went over to the Hell Yeah section in the Metal section to compare. That’s when I saw this used copy of the debut for $6 filed in with 3 regular priced CDs at $15 each. There was no way I was passing up a great bargain! Saved $9.

Ebay
(price includes shipping)

Cannibal Corpse – The Wretched Spawn/Worm Infested box set (2004) – $10 used: In my quest to broaden my Metal horizons this year, I decided I would check out more extreme Metal bands and Cannibal Corpse made the list. I was watching another CD by this seller and I notced no one had bid on this Cannibal Corpse set that included THE WRETCHED SPAWN album and the WORM INFESTED E.P. (2003). It was still at the starting bid of $4.99 so I put in a bid for the hell of it…..I won at $6, cut the shipping charge in half and it was $10. THE WRETCHED SPAWN has a bonus DVD included and it all comes in a black slipcase.

Jester – Tales From The Boogieman (1997) – $14 used: I have been hot on the trail of the original pressings of both Jester albums and I finally got one. About a year ago, I was able to pick up the 2 CD re-release of TALES FROM THE BOOGIEMAN and Jester’s second record DIGITALIA but that didn’t satisfy the collector in me. Opening bid was $4.99 and I won it for $10, cut the shipping in half with the Cannibal Corpse set and it was $14. Definitely a little pricey but I had to have it…..for some reason I am hooked on a few CDs from fanzine advertisements past and I’m out on the search!

Band Website

Snew – Snew You (2008) and We Do What We Want (2010) – $23: I’ve been hearing a lot about Snew since the beginning of the year but I never bothered to check them out, I figured they were kind of a joke band or something. After reading a lot of reviews, I decided to give Snew a try so I went to their official website and they were having a CD special – both albums for $17! I’m a sucker for a deal so I snatched both CDs up quick. Unfortunately the shipping was a little high at $6 but what can you do? I would have ordered the new album eventually but the package sale sealed the deal…..I even got a free sticker, LOL!

Concert

Sister Sin – Switchblade Serenades (2008) – $10: I went to the Michael Schenker concert last Tuesday and Sister Sin was the opening band, a complete surprise! I have had Sister Sin on the radar for a while but I never could get what I thought was their debut album, SWITCHBLADE SERENADES, at my local record store. It was there when it first came out 2 years ago but I haven’t seen a copy in about 18 months. After the show, I ended up meeting the band at their merchandise table and I noticed they were offering a CD/T-shirt package for $20…..that’s a deal! I already have their latest album, TRUE SOUNDS OF THE UNDERGROUND (2010), so I picked up this missing album plus a cool tour shirt. Unfortunately the only shirts they had were XL and I’m a 2XL guy so the tour shirt went to my 12 yr. old daughter.

Total = $112

Total (year) = $1045

Average price (per item) = $10.25

Total CDs (year) = 93

Total DVDs (year) =2

Total Box Sets (year) = 6

Total LPs (year) = 1

Dokken – Greatest Hits (2010, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Music)

  1. Just Got Lucky
  2. Breaking The Chains
  3. Into The Fire
  4. The Hunter
  5. In My Dreams
  6. It’s Not Love
  7. Alone Again
  8. Dream Warriors
  9. Unchain The Night
  10. Tooth And Nail
  11. Almost Over (new song)
  12. Magic Man (new Song)

Band Lineup:
Don Dokken – Vocals
‘Wild’ Mick Brown – Drums
Jon Levin – Guitars
Sean McNabb – Bass

Country: USA

Total Time = 53:39

Dokken 
Dokken MySpace page
Cleopatra Records

What we have here is a new Dokken greatest hits package with two brand new studio tracks. If that wasn’t enough to get you to run down to the record store (or iTunes), the ten classic songs, the greatest hits, are re-recorded by the current lineup! This is the trend lately for many bands getting offers for commercials, etc., you need you’re classic songs but you may not actually own the rights. If you use the original, your royalty rate goes down. If you re-record it, the royalty rate is better (KISS did it in 2008 and used songs for their Dr. Pepper campaign). Maybe it’s just to get a “fresh sound” of the current lineup doing the classic songs and putting the material on store shelves. If that’s the case then you can find plenty of other Hard Rock & Metal bands who have done it but…..are you tampering with a musical legacy? I’m always up for a reinterpretation of classic songs from a band because I’m curious as to what they come up with and, if I’ve seen the band in concert, if their current sound/lineup is featured prominently. I’ve been a Dokken fan since 1983 so I’ve been there straight from the beginning and I basically grew up with the songs so I know them by heart.

The ten re-recorded hits are basically performed staying true to the original version but with a bit more live feel to them, a more aggressive sound…..spending years on the road touring does that. Mick Brown is still a wildman on drums and teaming with Rock veteran Sean McNabb makes for a formidable rhythm section. Guitarist Jon Levin, who has been in the band since 2004 and recorded two studio albums, shines again! Not only does Levin faithfully reproduce George Lynch’s parts but he adds his own modern flair to each song. Most of the songs musically sound the same, or at least very close, but the defining component is Don Dokken’s voice…..or lack there of. Don Dokken is 30 years into his singing career and, after years of recording, touring and partying, the 57 year old singer doesn’t have the same set of pipes he once had. Then again, who does? A few years ago, I saw Dokken live with the Scorpions and you could just tell that Don’s voice was giving way. Then you could hear the more down-tuned lower register on the new albums rather than the higher melodic style from the ’80s and ’90s. I’m not saying Don does a bad job or that his singing is awful, it’s just that you can tell that he doesn’t have the golden voice of his youth anymore. Maybe that has something to do with the background vocals? One of the biggest pieces to the Dokken sound was former bassist Jeff Pilson’s superb backing vocals. Take a listen to the original songs and compare them to the new versions, the big lush harmonies are not there and I think Don’s lead vocal suffers from it.

The two new tracks are the major reason why I bought this CD. ‘Almost Over’ is a really good rocker written down to Don’s current vocal level but it reminds me of early Dokken circa 1983. The song sounds a bit dated but modernly aggressive with Levin’s Lynch-influenced axework, even Don’s vocal sounds very good. I could easily hear this song on either one of the last two Dokken studio records. The second new song, ‘Magic Man’, is faster and heavier and deals with the topics of drugs and addictions, maybe some self-introspection here? ‘Magic Man’ is another really good song that reminds me of early Dokken (probably due to Levin’s guitar work) but has that updated sound. Listen closely to Mick Brown’s drumming here because it’s basically a showcase on how to get it done after 30 years!

Bottom Line:
What can I say here? This is a re-recorded greatest hits with two new songs and I prefer the originals to these new versions. I like the idea, I bought into it but I would much rather have had a full new album with a couple re-recorded songs as bonus tracks. If I have the choice to hear the Dokken hits, then I am going to stick with the excellent VERY BEST OF DOKKEN (1999) compilation. To be honest, these aren’t the worst remakes I’ve ever heard but there is definitely a difference to my ears and I prefer the originals. The make or break here is the two new songs and I think they are both really good. In fact, if Dokken releases a new record with songs like this, they are going to have a great album on their hands. If I were Dokken, I’d keep going with the new material and leave the classics as they are. If you’re looking to spend the money, this is a CD for diehard Dokken fans…..as you can see, I’m a diehard. I would go for the 1999 best of CD for a great overview of the hits.

Favorite Songs:
‘Almost Over’, ‘Magic Man’