CD Scavenger Hunt (February update)

February is about to end, and I’m not heading out on the hunt until the coming Tuesday (March 1st), so I figured I’d get this update out on time for a change! It was a pretty slow month for new releases at the record store but not online…..I may have to start ordering a little more at some of the online shops to get all those releases you just can’t get in-store anymore.

Newbury Comics

Motorhead – The World Is Yours (2011) – $10: A complete no-brainer here because any self-respecting Heavy Metal fan should be buying every new Motorhead album…..I’ve been a fan since the early ’80s so you know I was at the record store early for this one! I bought the CD for $9.99 on sale the day of release and I got the limited edition with the bonus DVD of part of the band’s performance at the 2006 Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. This album was well-stocked but I didn’t see a single disc version at all and I’m not sure if there is a single disc. You know what you’re getting when you buy a Motorhead album, they’re like AC/DC in the regard that they do the same thing each time with no eye towards current trends. It’s all just kick ass Metal! Regular price for the limited edition was $17 so I saved $7 but you can’t blame someone for paying full price…..this is Motorhead after all!

Crowbar – Sever The Wicked Hand (2011) – $10: I picked up the new Crowbar as an afterthought, I figured I’d just try the band out. I’ve seen a few Crowbar videos on MTV2′s Headbangers Ball, and I got into the two Kingdom Of Sorrow albums, so checking out Crowbar was a natural progression. I don’t own any Crowbar albums and, aside from those few videos, I’d never heard a Crowbar song. Basically, I was walking around the record store and finding nothing of real importance or significance to add to my Motorhead purchase so I grabbed the Crowbar CD (it was displayed next to Motorhead) and went to the register. I don’t think I’ve ever left a record store with a single CD and I sure wasn’t about to start now! Regular price on the CD was $16 so I saved $7 with the $9.99 sale price…..not a large sum to risk on a band you have no experience with.

Lemmy – 49% Motherfucker/51% Son Of A Bitch DVD (2011) – $18: The main focus of my second trip to the local record shop was the new Lemmy documentary DVD…..how can you beat two weeks straight of Motorhead related new releases? I had seen the documentary on VH-1 Classic so I set the DVR to record it but I never bothered to watch it knowing that it would be severely edited…..at least they’re playing it! This is a 2 DVD set with the original documentary clocking in at about 2 hours on disc one and a bonus DVD with over three hours of extra material. That’s the stuff I want to see because you know that there’s got to be ton of interesting footage of Lemmy and Motorhead doing what they do. and a ton of behind the scenes/making of stuff as well. Lemmy is well into his his mid-60s and the guy is still making records, playing full tours and kicking ass! Original price on the DVD was $25 so I saved $7.

Mr. Big – What If… (2011) – $14: This was the second reason why I ventured out for a second hunt at Newbury Comics. Say what you want about Mr. Big but they always rocked even if they’re best known for their syrupy ballad ‘To Be With You’ from way back in 1991. If you remember, they had a hit off their first album with ‘Addicted To That Rush’ but they got lumped into the big hair and sappy love song bands and there’s so much more to them. I had originally thought that WHAT IF… was going to be released a week earlier (that’s what I was looking for the trip before) so I snatched up one of the three copies of the limited edition I saw in the new release section. You get a choice of the single disc for $11 or the limited edition with the bonus track ‘Unforgiven’ and a bonus DVD with two videos and the making of the record for $3 more. Seems logical to me! This album is an import on Frontiers Records so the regular price was a little higher on this version at $18 but I still saved $4.

Stryper – The Covering (2011) - $10: I support the bands I grew up with and Stryper is no exception. I started with SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND (1985) and kept buying all their studio albums over the years. I was hoping for a brand new studio album because their last one was awesome but I knew exactly what I was getting into with THE COVERING. It’s an album of covers with one new song…..and I detest covers records when new material could be put out.For some reason, I always get sucked into these cover albums, and the tribute albums too. I figured that the sale price wasn’t a lot to risk and maybe there would be some decent versions of the songs…..it’s not a bad album, just one I probably won’t spin again. I guess I wasted $10? Well, at least I saved $5 off the regular price! The band is coming to town in late March but this new CD doesn’t get my blood pumping to buy a ticket…..yet.

Hurtsmile -s/t (2011) – $10: I’ve been an Extreme fan from the beginning and I was a big supporter of Gary Cherone in Van Halen so I was on the lookout for this new project from Gary while Extreme takes a break. The Extreme reunion of the last few years has been excellent, especially their last record SAUDADES DE ROCK (2008), but Gary’s last project, Tribe Of Judah, sucked royally! Tribe of Judah was way to experimental and that’s the problem with Gary solo: you never know what you’re going to get. Even the album with Van Halen was experimental but that was more Eddie Van Halen than Gary. Hurtsmile could either be an Extreme-like project or an extreme project. Gary isn’t above experimenting and trying different syles but that Tribe of Judah record was so bad it still hurts! This one’s a risk like Stryper but I’m high on Extreme right now so I think it will be worth it. Regular price was $15 so I saved $5.

Nelson – Lightning Strikes Twice (2011) – $17: Another risky purchase, especially at the full regular price! I admit it, I own AFTER THE RAIN (1990) and I liked it back in the day…..there was no way to escape it! I haven’t bought another Nelson record since and I’ve had ample opportunities to add some of their follow-ups at cheap used prices. Call it backlash but I just couldn’t stomach Nelson after they were all over MTV with their squeaky clean image. So why am I buying their latest album? Not sure but I was walking around the store and the album cover caught my eye. Frontiers Records was having a great release day with ’80s artists with Nelson, Mr. Big and Gary Cherone’s Hurtsmile and they were all well-stocked. If I’m going to take a chance on Stryper doing covers and Cherone possibly releasing a wreck of a record then I can definitely plnk the money down for 12 original tunes by the talented Nelson brothers. And that’s the thing, these guys are talented musicians, they just got lumped in with the rest back in the day and they paid for their quick rise to the top. I’m as interested in this as I am the new Mr. Big…..looking forward to it.

Cauldron – Burning Fortune (2011) – $7: I had to counter the ’80s bands’ new releases with some solid new school Traditional Metal and the new record from Cauldron fit the bill. When I read about a band, I write the name down for future reference and I’d done that with Cauldron a couple years ago when I read a review on their first album, CHAINED TO THE NITE (2009). I never picked that album up but I kept the name on my wish list so I could pick it up at some point. I like what these guys have to offer: basic heavy Metal like I grew up with and they’re a three piece, if they sound like their Canadian counterparts Anvil or Annihilator then I’ll be happy. How can you pass up a new album for $6.99 on sale? I can’t ! I would have grabbed this based on the old school album artwork anyway so it’s cool to check out this band on the cheap price. Regular price was $12.99 so I saved $6.

Total = $96

Total (year) = $163

Average Price (per item) = $8.58

Total Savings (month) = $41

Total Savings (year) = $195

Total CDs (year) = 18

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 0

Requiem Aeternam – Destiny-Man (2010)

Requiem Aeternam – Destiny-Man (2010, ICorp)

  1. Exordium
  2. Destiny-Man
  3. Requiem Aeternam
  4. Freewill
  5. Existence
  6. Vying
  7. Purposiveness
  8. Ser
  9. Perserverance
  10. Epitaph

Musicians:
José Romero Sum – Vocals, Guitars, Bass & Keyboards
Fabián Redondo – Drums

Producers: Requiem Aeternam

Country: Originally from Uruguay, now based in the U.S.

Total Time = 50:05

Requiem Aeternam
Requiem Aeternam MySpace page
Philosophical Metal

Requiem Aeternam is a Progressive Black/Death Metal band that formed in Uruguay in 1995. The band has released two albums, ETERNALLY DYING (1998) and PHILOSPHER (2004), while enduring various personnel changes over the years with only José Romero Sum as an original member. For DESTINY-MAN, Sum and drummer Fabián Redondo were the songwriters and performers…..an extremely hard but rewarding task when you hear the wall of intricate sound the album contains. Requiem Aeternam defines their music as “Philosophical Metal”, a genre “which entails not only philosophical lyrics, but also music that gets intertwined with philosophical thinking, music that has existential meaning, and not simple imitation of already-known patterns of composition.” Each song on DESTINY-MAN is inspired by Classical composers who many may not think of as philosophers but the band thinks of as deep thinkers of music. Just reading the press release gives you a sense that the album is diverse and unique.

I went into this album with a hint of trepidation because I’m not the biggest fan of Black/Death Metal. One of my goals in the last year was to expose myself to more extreme forms of Metal and that has helped in my enjoyment and appreciation of DESTINY-MAN. The opening acoustic intro, ‘Exordium’, has a beautiful sound that moves right into the Yngwie-styled guitar intro to the title track. Despite the blastbeat drums and guttural vocals, the guitar intro is what captured my interest and made me listen closely for the music underneath. Same thing with ‘Requiem Aeternam’, the opening guitar opened me up to the rest of the song and, dare I say, the music is more Traditional Metal/NWOBHM inspired through much of the album until the vocals kick in. Throughout the balance of the record, a frantic and disjointed style begins to emerge but all within the concept of blending the extreme with Classical and with Progressive. My own personal tastes are suited to the Classical influence mixed with the Progressive Metal and I get a little lost with the brutal aspects. ‘Freewill’ is a solid song and I like the blend of styles but I find the extreme vocals distracting, I did like the clean vocals and thought they fit the song a little better. The instrumentation on ‘Existence’ is really well done and the guitar sound is really clean, very Iron Maiden in some parts to my ears. Another standout song I liked was ‘Ser’…..again, solid guitar work and I like the clean vocals. The guitar has that Maiden quality to it at times and the lack of blastbeat drums are a welcome sound, there seems to be more of groove here rather than trying to smash two different forms together to construct a song.

Bottom Line:
DESTINY-MAN is an ambitious album that blends the extreme to the fine form of Classical and the Metal of Progressive and I think, on the whole, Requiem Aeternam accomplished their goal of defining a new genre of Philosophical Metal because the music does make you focus and think. I’m not as well studied in Black & Death Metal as others may be but I do know my Traditional and Progressive Metal and those are the parts of the album that I enjoy most. Most of the best Metal is based on Classical music, I can hear the Rainbow & Yngwie Malmsteen influence, and I can definitely hear the Progressive styles of Iron Maiden & Dream Theater, I just find the vocals and the drums distracting. That’s not to say they aren’t well done, it’s just that I’m not used to them. Overall, I found a lot of interesting music on DESTINY-MAN and I had to go back and give the album a few spins to really absorb what the band is trying accomplish. That’s the whole point, isn’t it? Metal to make you think? I enjoyed this album more than I thought I would and I’ve gone back a few times to see if I missed anything, I’m just not sure if my doubts are based on my inexperience with harsher Metal.

Favorite Songs:
‘Freewill’ & ‘Ser’

WANTED: Royal Hunt – X (2010)

WANTED

Royal Hunt – X (2010)

I discovered Royal Hunt in 1998 and they have been a favorite of mine ever since. I remember picking up a copy of the Metal Dreams fanzine and there was an article on the band that stirred my interest…..then I started to notice all their albums well-stocked in the “import” section at my local record store. I didn’t really pick up on the band until I discovered that you could listen to music online with your dial-up AOL connection! Yes, those were the internet dark ages for me, dial-up in 1998! Anyway, over the next year, I devoured anything I could on Royal Hunt and I picked up all of their albums through to 1999′s FEAR. As my favorite record shop started to decline in sales and inventory (and eventually closed around 2002), acquiring Royal Hunt albums became a little harder and buying online became the best alternative.

The band’s latest album, X, was announced back in late 2009 and was released in Japan on Marquee/Avalon in January 2010. Unfortunately, Japanese import prices can total upwards of $30+ (including shipping) so I passed with the hope that a U.S. release would happen soon after. I noticed that there weren’t many Japanese copies of X floating around at the time and it seemed like the album was one of those small pressings that record companies sometimes do if there’s a contract issue. Sure enough, Royal Hunt had just extended their Japanese contract for this one album. A release date for Europe was announced for June 2010 on Scarlet Records but I really never heard much on Royal Hunt over the summer. There were copies available online but the price with shipping still totalled over $20+ and I was holding out for a copy of two to land at my local record store. Newbury Comics never stocked it so I passed buy it.

Recently, my Royal Hunt radar has gone back up because the band reunited with former lead singer D.C. Cooper to tour Japan for a run of dates. I’m not sure how this affects Mark Boals status in the band but it affects my status in acquiring X. Of all the 2010 albums I missed last year, this album is on my high priority list.

Stryper – The Covering (2011)

Stryper – The Covering (2011, Big3 Records)

  1. Set Me Free
  2. Blackout
  3. Heaven And Hell
  4. Lights Out
  5. Carry On Wayward Son
  6. Highway Star
  7. Shout It Out Loud
  8. Over The Mountain
  9. The Trooper
  10. Breaking The Law
  11. On Fire
  12. Immigrant Song
  13. God

Band Lineup:
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Oz Fox – Guitars & Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums
Timothy Gaines – Bass & Vocals
Charles Foley – Keyboards/Piano/Organ

Executive Producer: Bill Edwards
Producer: Michael Sweet

Country: USA

Total Time = 53:30

Stryper
Stryper MySpace page
Big3 Records

When a band from the ’80s releases a new album, I always get excited. I lived and died with these bands as a kid growing up and I still do to this day. I love hearing what these veteran bands have to offer 20 to 25+ years after their ’80s heyday. When I read that Stryper was releasing a new album in early 2011 I marked the release date on my calendar right away because I was a big Stryper fan back in the day. I started out with SOLDIERS UNDER COMMAND (1985), picked up the 1986 re-release of THE YELLOW & BLACK ATTACK (originally released in 1984) and went forward. I’ve supported the band ever since and picked up every album as they were released. Recently, the band has been very active with three new releases since 2005 and touring consistently in that time. With a new tour date at the end of March added to my local area, and the announcement of THE COVERING, I admit that I got a little psyched about Stryper…..until I found out the new album was an album of cover songs.

If you’ve read this website over the last five years then you know that nothing irritates me more than cover songs taking the place on a studio album where original songs could be AND records that are billed as “new albums” but are really covers and nothing new except new versions of old songs. I’ll give Stryper credit, they were up front about doing a covers album, and the performances are good. If you take a look at the song selection you’ll notice a lot of safe and well known Rock songs included from the likes of the Scorpions, KISS, Deep Purple, Ozzy, Iron Maiden and even Led Zeppelin. I have no problem with the performances because the band sounds in fine form and the songs are all done basically as the originals. I also like a few of the songs the band selected among the safe ones: UFO’s ‘Lights Out’, The Sweet’s ‘Set Me Free’, Kansas’ ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and Van Halen’s ‘On Fire’. The other songs are done well but how many times have we all heard the original or a cover of ‘Breaking The Law’, ‘Over The Mountain’ and ‘Shout It Out Loud’? Maybe a few more deep tracks by some of these bands would have been a better choice. The last song on THE COVERING is the new Stryper song aptly titled ‘God’. If there was ever a song title that you would think Stryper would have already used it would be ‘God’! The new original is an uptempo Hard Rock song that easily fits into the typical Stryper fare and could have easily been a part of the last Styper record, MURDER BY PRIDE (2009). What impresses me most is Michael Sweet’s voice…..this guy hasn’t lost a step since the mid-’80s! He can still hit all the highs and sing with a lot of power and melody. The band is always going to sound very good because Robert Sweet, Oz Fox and Timothy Gaines were always a tight unit but the usual measuring stick on a band’s sound is usually how the singer is…..if you want classic Stryper, they sound like classic Stryper and I bet they pull it off well live.

Bottom Line:
I was looking forward to a new Stryper album because their last one, MURDER BY PRIDE, was so good. Unfortunately, I’m disappointed to have a new album of covers with only one new song bu this is the trend lately to get a quick product on the shelves before a tour. A veteran band like Stryper can easily go through the more popular Rock songs with ease and put out an album like this but I would rather have all new material. Like I said, the performances are well done and there are a few different songs in the tracklist that you don’t hear that often but I’m still disappointed, I’d rather gat an album of original tunes. The main highlight for me is the new song ‘God’, the best cover for me is probably ‘On Fire’ because you don’t really hear that covered much. I would recommend this for the Stryper diehard and collector completist but not for a general fan looking to discover Stryper or add some new Stryper to their collections.

Favorite Songs:
‘God’ is the best song for me because it’s a good solid original. Best covers are ‘On Fire’, ‘Carry On Wayward Son’ and ‘Lights Out’

WANTED: Thunder – Behind Closed Doors (1995)

WANTED

Thunder – Behind Closed Doors (1995)

One of the projects I’ve started is to get my collection organized and in proper order for 2011…..there are going to be a lot of purchases again this year so I need to make sure everything is in it’s place. This project has forced me to take a look at bands and CDs that I haven’t listened to in a long time and make a new Want List to fill in some of the gaps in my collection. Thunder was a band back in the day that I started listening to with their debut album BACKSTREET SYMPHONY (1990) and their radio hit ‘Dirty Love’. Last week, a friend and I were on the phone and we started talking about Thunder’s discography and I was sure I had their first five albums…..turns out I’m missing one, this one!

I can tell you when and where I’ve bought every album in my collection, sometimes even the price, and my Thunder albums are no exception. I bought BACKSTREET SYMPHONY on cassette back in 1990 and replaced it with the CD about a year later, LAUGHING ON JUDGEMENT DAY (1992) I bought two years later at a local record store right after it came out. Fast forward about seven years and I bought THE THRILL OF IT ALL (1996) and GIVING THE GAME AWAY (1999) on the same day, at the same record store, for the same used import price! I’ve also collected a greatest hits collection from Japan and the U.S. reissue of BACKSTREET SYMPHONY from 1991 with the different cover art and the Japanese deluxe pressing of LAUGHING. I just assumed that I had picked up BEHIND CLOSED DOORS and, when I went to grab it to check the release date for my friend, it wasn’t there! I can’t have a gap between Thunder’s second and fourth albums, it breaks up the collection!

I’ve noticed reasonable prices on the original CD pressing from 1995 and on the 2010 double disc remaster with the extra CD of rarities, demos and live tracks. I’d be satisfied with the original pressing because I want to hear the original sound, sometimes a remaster sounds very different. If I can pick both up on the cheap, I’ll grab them.

CD Scavenger Hunt (January update) – The first hunt of 2011!

Better late than never! I realize it’s the middle of February and I’m a couple of weeks late but the hunt is always going!

Taking a quick look back at last year…..I bought 178 different music items totalling $1820, that’s only about $35 a week and I’ve been known to spend a LOT more than that. I’m a little more budget concious now and I’ve come to the realization that I can’t buy everything so this year’s purchases are going to be a little more thought out and a little more of the less expensive side. I may equal or surpass last year’s dollar amount but I want to add more items to my collection. What’s the old saying? “Less is more”? Not in my collecting world…..MORE is more! Xmas came and Santa brought me $100 dollars in Newbury Comics gift cards so I was armed and ready when I walked into the Warwick, RI location…..

One thing to check out…..I’m adding Total Savings per trip and for the year into the stats at the end of the hunt so you can compare what I would have paid had I paid regular prices.

Newbury Comics

Black Sabbath – Mob Rules (2010 Deluxe Edition) – $35 (free with gift card): The top album on my Want List was the deluxe edition of Sabbath’s Mob Rules for one reason and one reason only…..the bonus CD of the Rhino Handmade release of LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH ODEON. Back in May 2007, Rhino Records’ custom division released the limited edition numbered CD of LIVE AT HAMMERSMITH ODEON for a meager $20 and the 5000 copies sold out immeadiately. There was a pre-order but I never bought in because money was tight at the time. I’ve been kicking myself ever since because that custom CD became a hot collector’s item not only for the music but for the exclusivity of having 1 of 5000 copies. In the years since, this has been one of the hottest bootlegged CDs on the secondary market. I was going to pick up all the Dio-era Sabbath deluxe editions anyway but once I heard what the extra disc was, I had to have it! Unfortunately, the Newbury Comics closer to my house in North Attleboro stocked only one copy and it sold right away. I kept my eye out and, when I saw it in the Warwick location, it was a done deal! There are also two bonus tracks that accompany the album proper: a live version of ‘Die Young’ and the original version of ‘The Mob Rules’ from the Heavy Metal movie soundtrack. Saved $35.

Black Sabbath – Seventh Star (2010 Deluxe Edition) – $35 (free with gift card): I was going to pick up the HEAVEN & HELL Deluxe Edition but there were two copies of it at the store while there was only one copy of the SEVENTH STAR Deluxe Edition. My paranoia that I would miss out on SEVENTH STAR forced my hand! I am a huge fan of all post-Ozzy eras of Black Sabbath and I bought this album back in 1986 when it first came out on cassette. Actually, I almost went to the concert at the Providence Civic Center that tour but my parents wouldn’t let me go, concerts were a new thing for me and them back in 1985/1986. Anyway, the extras here are a remixed version of ‘No Stranger To Love’ on the album CD and the bonus disc is a live recording with Ray Gillen at Hammersmith Odeon 6/2/1986. For the sake of history, the Providence, RI gig was 3/25/1986 and was the next to last show with SEVENTH STAR vocalist Glenn Hughes fronting the band. Saved $35.

The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks (1964-1971) (2002 remaster) - $30 (free with gift card): When I started to get into music in the early ’80s, The Rolling Stones were billed as “the ultimate Rock ‘n’ Roll band” and they were always on local FM radio. I grew up listening to the radio and I grew up listening to the band’s songs. When I started heading out to record stores, I wanted a Rolling Stones greatest hits cassette…..enter HOT ROCKS. I bought my cassette copy at the old Good Vibrations chain and I remember it was so expensive (probably around $15) because it was considered a double album…..I still have the cassette today. I had $30 left in gift cards and I wanted something special and that’s when I thought of HOT ROCKS. The price has doubled for the remastered single CD compared to my cassette from back in the day but I figured I would never spend the $30 on my own so I decided that it was now or never and I burned the last gift card. Saved $30.

Holy Grail – Crisis In Utopia (2010) - $12: Holy Grail is a spin-off band from one of my favorite new bands White Wizzard. I’m not really sure who left to form what band but now I know that there are two solid U.S. Power metal bands out there! I had read a lot of reviews on Holy Grail in Decibel and Revolver magazines, as well as, online so I kept the band and album in mind but I had totally forgotten as I was burning all my gift cards. As I was walking to the checkout counter with my three albums, I saw CRISIS IN UTOPIA sitting in a display so I snatched it up right away. I figured that I wasn’t paying for the three other deluxe CDs so I could spend some of my own money and buy this album. Good thing I grabbed the CD on display because a quick look in the Metal section under ‘H’ and I found another copy at the regular $15.99 price! I’ll take a sale CD anyday! Saved $4.

Electric Wizard – Black Masses (2011) – $10: One of the hardest things about being an obsessive collector is that you want to hear and buy everything but everything is not always available. I had Electric Wizard’s latest, BLACK MASSES, on my list all year long but I wasn’t about to pay the high import prices. I don’t own any Electric Wizard albums but, after reading so many great reviews, I decided to start with the new album. Unfortunately, there was no U.S. release date set! So I waited and then the 2010 year end best of lists started coming out online and in print. Gues what album always seemed to be at or near the top? A couple weeks after my gift card shopping trip, I decided to drop in quickly to the local Newbury Comics closer to home and there’s BLACK MASSES in the new release section for a cool $10…..about $15 less than the import price + shipping! A no-brainer to pick up…..saved $4 off the regular price. Just a note here…..this is the North American release and it’s dated 2011 on the CD even though it was released everywhere else in 2010.

Bret Michaels – Songs Of Life (2003) – $4 used: If you’re going to pop in the local record store quick and immeadiately find an album you want on the new release rack in front of the entrance, then it’s your duty as a collector to make sure that there are no other treasures hiding in plain sight. I took a quick lap through the entire store and guess what album I find staring at my from the Poison section? I know I’ve crucified Bret the last few years for releasing “new” albums that are really repackage deals of his previous solo work but I’ve made it a personal mission to acquire all the Bret solo albums that were released in the mid-2000s on his own label, Poor Boy Records. Slowly but surely, I started to find all the Bret albums but SONGS OF LIFE had eluded me at a fair price, it was going for $25+ on Ebay! I saw the CD and grabbed it right away, then I saw the $4 price tag…..that’s a huge deal! I estimate that this originally went for $15 when it was released so I saved about $11.

W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (1985) – $7 used: This was a great find for very personal reasons. About 8 years ago, when my wife and I were expecting our second child, money was a little tight. My wife wasn’t working and my work schedule wasn’t flexible enough for me to get a second job. I turned to my CD collecting hobby for additional income. I started selling used CDs that I found in the record stores on ebay and I started to make a couple extra bucks. When we needed even more extra cash, I turned to my own collection for CDs to sell. One of my big sales was all the original pressings of every W.A.S.P. album from the first to THE CRIMSON IDOL (1992)…..6 CDs and I netted $100! That was a huge help back then and I justified it not only by the situation but by the fact that I had bought the W.A.S.P. remasters back in 1999. Years later, I’m unhappy with the sound on the remasters and I’ve been searching for the original pressings again. W.A.S.P. has always been one of my favorite bands and I was there from before the debut album so these records are special, THE LAST COMMAND being my favorite. An obvious purchase and a great find at what I estimate as half off regular price. Saved $8.

Hardcore Superstar – No Regrets (2003) – $4 used: I found this CD in a bargain bin and I recognized the name but I wasn’t sure what kind of music they played. I remembered seeing reviews on one of the websites I frequent but I had never heard one song from Hardcore Superstar. Thank god for smartphones! First, I checked my collection to see if I already owned it (I’ve seen more than a few copies at a low used price). Second, I got online and looked the band up. Once I found the reviews at some of my favorite websites, I decided to take the $4 risk. Third, I checked Ebay to see what the CD was going for because there was a second copy of NO REGRETS at the same price. It wasn’t selling at auction so I figured I’d leave it for someone else to discover. I’m going to use this as a jumping off point to check out the band because it’s their fourth out of eight albums and, if I like their brand of Sleaze Rock, I will try and get the rest as cheap as possible. I estimate the regular price at $15 when researching online and taking into account Newbury Comics’ prices, so I saved $11.

Damageplan – New Found Power (2004) – $3 used: I found this in the same bargain bin that I found the Hardcore Superstar disc in and I used my smartphone again to make sure I didn’t have it in my collection. I have always been a Pantera fan, maybe not as big as others, but I have all their records in my collection, including the independent ones before COWBOYS FROM HELL. I never bothered to collect all the spin-off bands until I bought both HellYeah albums last year. I had every intention of checking out Damageplan after the untimely death of Dimebag Darrell but I just never got around to it. In fact, I’ve passed on more than a few used copies over the years but none at this price. To make sure I was getting the best deal (and how could $3 not be a great deal!), I went over to the ‘D’ section and noticed that regular price on this disc was $15.99 and the other used price was $7.99. I saved $13 off the regular price.

Rhapsody Of Fire – The Cold Embrace Of Fear E.P. (2010) – $7: As I was picking up the W.A.S.P., Hardcore Superstar and Damageplan CDs on my third trip of the year to the record store, I noticed this new release by Rhapsody Of Fire in the new release rack. I wasn’t really sure what this release was, and Rhapsody does have a pattern of releasing E.P.s and multi-track CD singles between albums, so I got online with my phone for quick research…..my Android phone is my new best tool while on the hunt! Turns out this E.P. was released in Europe in October 2010 and it’s one 35 minute song broken into seven acts. I’m skeptical about these type of releases because what does a 35 minute song sound like? And am I going to get bored? I have almost every Rhapsody release so the completist in me had to have it and, at $7, it wasn’t too much to risk. Saved $3 off regular price.

Online

King Lizard – Viva La Decadence (2010) – $20: I happened to find out about King Lizard through a podcast I listen to and I liked the song so much that I went to their website to buy the album. Of course, I was too late because they were sold out of the first pressing with the uncensored artwork! I didn’t want to wait for a second pressing to become available so I emailed the band direct and inquired on the availability. The band responded and I bought the LAST copy they had with the uncensored artwork AND they autographed it for me! Not a bad deal at all! Sometimes all you have to do is ask and you definitely shall receive, as long as you have a genuine interest and still pay for the item! Thanks to King Lizard for hooking me up so watch for an album review here soon. More info on the band can be found at their official website: http://www.kinglizard.co.uk/

Total = $67

Total (year) = $67 

Average Price (per item) = $6.09

Total Savings (month) = $154

Total Savings (year) = $154

Total CDs (year) = 11

Total DVDs (year) = 0

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 0

Steve Lukather – All’s Well That Ends Well (2011)

Steve Lukather – All’s Well That Ends Well (2011, Mascot Records)

  1. Darkness In My World
  2. On My Way Home
  3. Can’t Look Back
  4. Don’t Say It’s Over
  5. Flash In The Pan
  6. Watching The World
  7. You’ll Remember
  8. Brody’s
  9. Tumescent

Musicians:
Steve Lukather – all guitars, lead & bg vocals
CJ Vanston – keyboards, atmospheres
Steve Weingart – keyboards and atmospheres
Carlitos Del Puerto – bass
Eric Valentine – drums
Lenny Castro – percussion
Joseph Williams, Phil Collen (3) (4), CJ Vanston (3) – background voacals
Trev Lukather – power guitar (4)
Tina Lukather – background vocals (1)
Fee Waybill – background vocals (5) (7)
Bernard Fowler – background vocals (1)
Jory Steinberg – background vocals ((1) (2) (8)

Producers: Steve Lukather, CJ Vanston, Steve MacMillan

Country: USA

Total Time = 47:23

Steve Lukather
Mascot Records

For those of you who don’t know who Steve Lukather is, let me refresh your memory. Remember the late ’70s/early ’80s AOR/Rock band Toto? You know the singles: ‘Africa’, ‘Hold The Line’, ‘Rosanna’? Steve Lukather is the founding guitarist of Toto and has been playing guitar professionally since the young age of 19. Aside from his best known work in Toto, Lukather has gone on to enjoy popular and critical success by doing session work with some of the biggest names in music: Michael Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Don Henley and Olivia Newton-John. Add a solo career that has now totalled six records since 1989 and it’s easy to say that Steve is one of the hardest working, and most respected, guitarists in the business.

ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL is Steve’s sixth solo album and it offers a wide range of musical styles along with some very personal and unique songwriting with a flawless production. The songs on this album range from ambient soft Rock, AOR, Jazz, Blues, Rock, Ambient and Pop all packed with one instantly recognizable constant…..Steve’s superb guitar work. The lyrics over the entire record have a very personal feel to them making each song memorable not only for it’s musicality but also it’s personal insight. There are a lot of darker lyrics, more of a sad and reflective nature rather then the usual Heavy Metal fare we are used to here, but there is also some that are upbeat as well. Great artists create some of their best work when the channel their emotion and life experiences into their work, it makes the music more genuine in my opinion. I’m not sure what’s going on in Steve’s life but some of the songs like ‘Darkness In My World’,  ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’ and ‘Watching The World’ really bleed a personal reflective tone.

The opening track, ‘Darkness In My World’, is an ambient rock song with very personal lyrics that sets the tone for the entire album…..this is going to be an emotional journey. The song opens kind of soft but it moves into a more mid-tempo groove with a solid guitar base. The one thing I noticed/remembered right away was how good Steve’s singing voice is! With all his accomplishments as a guitarist, it’s easy to forget that he has a pretty good soulful sound to his singing. I went back and quickly checked a couple of my older Toto albums, KINGDOM OF DESIRE (1992) and TAMBU (1995), and Steve is front and center at the mic. His voice has a touch of Toto vocalist Bobby Kimball to it but I think it’s a little raspier on this album. Moving to the second song, ‘On My Way Home’, I immeadiately thought of Steely Dan and I’m not far off. The song has that Jazz/Blues beat to it with the catchy melodies that make it instantly memorable…..it’s so Steely Dan influenced to me that it sounds like Steve just took over for Donald Fagen on the vocals! This is one of my favorite songs on the album. Another favorite is the more rocking ‘Can’t Hold Back’, a song that starts out mellow with the opening vocal, moves into a funky groove but picks up tempo with the bridge and chorus as the guitar really kicks in. The guitar solo is one of the best, very clean tone and sound.

The personal side of the album is completely evident with the emotional ballad ‘Don’t Say It’s Over’…..listen to the song and pay close attention to the lyrics, that’s songwriting at it’s purest. Steve breaks things up a little with the harder rock of ‘Flash In The Pan’, a song that basically speaks out on the state of the music industry and the age of instant celebrity. I found myself laughing out loud at a few lines of the song as he takes a few shots at the expense of Britney, Paris and all the other tabloid superstars. Great song, another standout on an album full of standouts. ‘Watching The World’ pulls the listener back into that reflective/emotional mood but is another solid soft ballad while ‘You’ll Remember’ follows ‘On My Way Home’ with the Steely Dan influence. It’s got to be the piano/keyboard arrangement that really gives both songs that Steely vibe and I love it. ‘You’ll Remember’ has hit single written all over it and I wouldn’t be surprised if this made one of the Billboard charts, maybe the “classic rock/adult contemporary/jazz/blues” chart? Really, this is another catchy song with a great funky guitar and bass line and an awesome solo break with a perfect tone. I could honestly listen to this song over and over. ‘Brody’s’ is a slow blues rocker that kind of mirrors ‘Flash In The Pan’ with it’s look at current day trends by namechecking Facebook, “a war we can’t win” and “Tiger Woods’ ho”. You get the idea. Ending the record is the instrumental ‘Tumescent’…..Steve and the band cutting loose in a ’70s Rock style with plenty of fine guitar.

Bottom Line:
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL isn’t really the usual fare at Heavy Metal Addiction because, well, it’s not Metal! One thing I’ve always tried to do with this website is reflect my personal tastes and, even though I headbang with the best of them, my musical roots can be traced back to the late ’70s and early ’80s with AOR/Rock bands like Toto. Some of the best music, and most talented musicians, came from this style of music…..and some of my favorite songs as well. Listen to Toto’s ‘Hold The Line’ and tell me that’s not Hard Rock! I like all kinds of Rock ‘n’Roll be it hard Rock & heavy Metal, AOR, Classic Rock, Soft & Pop Rock…..I even like some Pop music from time to time! Rock musicians have a wide range of influences and some of the best albums are the ones that bring these together to create something special. I don’t own any of Steve Lukather’s other solo albums but, if they are as good as this one, I’d be crazy not to search them out. The blend of musical styles and the personal/emotional lyrics create an album that not only pleases the ears but also pleases the mind, it’s great to hear quality music with heartfelt songwriting because it takes the listener on the emotional ride with the artist. Musically, the album kind of reminds me a little of Neal Schon’s instrumental album ELECTRIC WORLD (1997) because it gets me in a different mindset. For me, ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL is a great way to start off a new year, it’s the first new album of 2011 that I’ve heard and I think it’s going to be one of this year’s best. If you’re looking for a change of pace from your Metal but still want solid musicianship and Rock, check this record out. Steve Lukather is a highly successful singer, songwriter and guitarist with plenty of gold and platinum albums, along with five Grammy awards, that prove how great his career has been. For me, I’ve just enjoyed the music he’s made…..and he’s always made great music.

Favorite Songs:
This is a tough one because I really can’t find a bad song on the album but, if I have to be put on the spot, then I would choose the Steely Dan influenced ‘On My Way Home’ & ‘You’ll Remember’, the fun ‘Flash In The Pan’ and the album opener ‘Darkness In My World’.

(Note — This album is my ALBUM OF THE MONTH for January 2011 but, due to a website relaunch, I’m posting the review now in the middle of February.)

State of the Blog update & Five Year Blog-versary

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve posted…..since New Year’s Eve in fact! Obviously, I’ve taken a little time off from the site but that’s why this post is going up in order to keep you all informed.

First, I want to mention that Heavy Metal Addiction celebrated it’s 5 year anniversary on January 3rd. Normally I post something on the anniversary day but I just let it pass without doing anything. It’s been a great 5 years and it’s hard to believe that I kept this thig going that long. Originally, the site was created to talk about my growing collection but the site grew as the years went on. I went from discussing albums I bought at the record store to really covering a diverse collection of Hard Rock & Heavy Metal, all made possible by the connections I’ve made in the industry. Not a day doesn’t go by where a package comes in the mail with CDs, or my email account is bursting with press releases and digital albums, for review. I would like to thank all the artists and bands, the labels and all the promotional people who have contacted me and submitted these items for review, without these dedicated people I wouldn’t hear half the albums I have over the last 5 years and I would be missing out on a lot of great music. I would also like to thank the fans and readers of the site, thanks for stopping by (even when there’s nothing new!) and leaving comments. I appreciate all the feedback you’ve emailed me and, hopefully, you’ll enjoy what I have in store for 2011.

That brings me to Part 2 of this post…..the State of the Blog update!

Like I mentioned, I’ve taken some time away from working on HMA for no other reason than I got bored with it. Actually, I’ve been on a steady decline with new posts since the middle of 2009 and 2010 was a very erratic year. I started January 2010 with a good number of new posts, and I had a plan for February, but I just couldn’t get motivated to get behind the computer and write. Some months I was able to get in 15+ posts and others were in the single digits, September & October 2010 only had 6 posts combined! My lack of posting doesn’t mean that I wasn’t listening, I actually listened to more music in 2010 than I did in previous years, especially new music! 2010 was another banner year for Hard Rock & Heavy Metal with so many new releases by so many different bands that it was very hard to keep up! Right now the piles on my desk are still over flowing with albums that were sent in and albums I bought at the record store…..and that’s just the 2010 releases, forget all the 2009 releases that I never got around to and the ones I caught up buying as the year went along. Then take a look at my computer…..there are so many digital files and links that I downloaded from bands, labels and PR firms that I just couldn’t keep up, I haven’t even listened to half of them! So I didn’t work as much as I have in the past, call it laziness, call it boredom but the real reason was that I felt like I was rushing through albums just to get the review posted online. I’m a fan of this kind of music and I have to take my time listening to each album in order to enjoy myself. Doesn’t matter if the album is great or it sucks…..I want to hear it! At times, I felt that I rushed the listening process to meet a self-imposed deadline (Album of the Month) or because every other site had already posted a review. That’s not how I started, and that’s not how I want HMA to be, so I have taken the last few weeks to decide what to do.

That brings me to Part 3…..what’s coming for 2011?

I’ve taken the first 7 weeks of 2011 off from the site to decide what I’m going to do. I’ve thought about leaving a farewell message up and calling it quits and I’ve thought about continuing…..I’ve decided to continue. I’m going to try and kickstart HMA back to it’s 2008 high point and see if I can get a lot more done. Basically, everything will stay the same: albums will be reviewed, I will update everyone on what I buy and I will review the concerts I attend. I’m going to post a few more press releases (something I got away from last year) and I’m going to add book reviews as well. The CD Scavenger Hunts will be a monthly feature and I’m also going to spotlight my collection…..that being the original basis of the site! Another thing that I want to bring back is the Feature Week, where I focus on one band or one topic for an entire week. I haven’t done a Feature Week in a couple of years but doing the 2010 Year End Awards reminded me how much I enjoyed focusing on one specific topic for a week. I’ve done weeks in the past on Judas Priest, Graham Bonnet, AC/DC and the Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath and I’ve really enjoyed focusing on some of the lesser known albums some of the bands have released. Album reviews are the main focus of the website so the Album of the Month feature will stay the same and I’m toying with the idea of an Album of the Week if I can get back on track writing. One thing I can assure you is that I will be posting more reviews of older albums, not just long lost gems but some of the more popular Hard Rock and heavy Metal albums to see if they’ve stood the test of time. The whole point of 2011 will be to get this site back on track and hopefully my dedication and my interest won’t begin to wane as we go forward. The last idea I’m throwing around is a podcast. I barely listen to the radio anymore unless it’s sportstalk but I have discovered the world of podcasts! I subscribe to about 6 or 7 now and they have inspried me with the idea of creating a radio show for Heavy metal Addiction. I’m not really sure if this idea will pan out, I have to research it some more, but it sounds like something that could enhance what I write about. It would be nice to play some of the songs from albums I review, maybe focus on some of the up and coming bands out there, and just have another forum to voice my opinion and go a little more free form or stream of conciousness.

So there you have it, that’s the update for now. I’ll be looking to catch up as soon as I can with both Albums of the Month for January 2011 & February 2011, as well as, the CD Scavenger Hunts for both months. I’ve cleaned up the collection and filed the CDs, the piles on my desk are a little neater and I’m getting a little more organized…..let’s see if I can get this back on track!

Here’s to year #6 and a great 2011! Cheers!

— Steve