CD Scavenger Hunt (October update)

I always have a handwritten list of new releases on my desk that gets added to on a daily basis so I can get my shopping list ready for the record stores. Unfortunately, I didn’t see many new releases coming in the beginning of October so I didn’t plan on making many trips to CD hunt. October is another usually slow month for me for buying CDs because of the impending and dreaded filling of the oil tank and my two daughters’ birthday celebrations taking up a good chunk of disposable income! Like I said though, I didn’t have much on my list and I make sure I check every bit of news for release dates of albums I will need. I’m always up for a bargain or two and I found a few decent used CDs mixed in with some new releases…..

Newbury Comics

Sabu – Between The Light (1998) – $4 used: First trip of the month wasn’t for me, it was for my oldest daughter who needed some new Skullcandy earbuds for her iPod Touch. While she looked around, I hit the markdown bin and this CD by Paul Sabu is the first one I found. You may remember Paul Sabu because he’s a huge producer/composer/songwriter in the AOR/Melodic Rock arena and has worked with bands like Alice Cooper, Heart, David Bowie, Shania Twan, Little Caesar, Malice and a ton more but he also managed to carve out a nine album solo career since 1984. BETWEEN THE LIGHT happens to be album #6 in Sabu’s solo career and I’ve never seen a copy in a record store before. On Ebay I’ve seen this album go anywhere between $5 and $15 at auction but it’s nothing I would go out of my way to bid on. For $4 used I grabbed it! Nice and cheap and in perfect condition…..assuming the regular price to be what a normal CD would go for ($15), I saved $11.

Saigon Kick – Devil In The Details (1995) – $3 used: If you were alive and kicking in 1992 then you who Saigon Kick is because Rock stations couldn’t get enough of their hit ballad ‘Love Is On The Way’ from THE LIZARD (1992). Never heard another song though, right? Exactly! Another casualty of the hair band and power ballad craze. The thing is that Saigon Kick had a debut record in 1991, a bunch of good Rock songs and four more studio releases to round out the ’90s…..but all they’re remembered for is the one hit ballad. I seem to always stumble upon a Saigon Kick album in a used bin but it’s usually either THE LIZARD or WATER (1993), when I saw this CD for $3 used I grabbed it right away because I knew I didn’t own it and it was a great bargain. Assuming a regular price of $15, I saved $12, but the interesting thing is that it seems I have the import version and not the U.S. release on CMC International. The label here is Seagull Int’l/Pony Canyon and the band cover shot is different artwork than the U.S. pressing. I know Pony Canyon is a Japanese label but this isn’t a Japanese import…..a great bargain and an alternate version that includes two bonus tracks.

Valient Thorr – Legend Of The World (2006) – $4 used: A band I’ve read about in various Rock magazines (specifically Classic Rock) over the last few years so I instantly recognized that at least this was a Metal CD. Outside of that, I know nothing about Valient Thorr. Buying a CD from a band you don’t know anything about can be very tricky and it’s an art that most record stores rats like myself perfected in the ’80s by using cool album artwork as a guide…..that doesn’t apply here either! You can’t beat the bargain so spending only $4 on a used CD by a band you don’t know anything about is low risk. Assuming regular price would be the normal $15, I saved $11 with another bargain bin find. After I got home with this disc, I checked some of my sampler bonus CDs I’ve gotten in issues of Classic Rock and there are two or three Valient Thorr tracks on them to also check out!

Mercyful Fate – Melissa (1983) – $9 used: Hard to believe that MELISSA is one of those albums that is missing from my collection but the debut from Mercyful Fate has eluded me for a few years now. You can get it on Ebay at anytime but I haven’t bothered because the price always seems too much, I’ve been keeping an eye on the used bins, and the regular priced sections, to see if this one shows up at a decent price. I have most of the Fate catalog with the exception of maybe a couple releases but I never could get MELISSA. This version is the 1997 reissue on Roadrunner which you would think you could find everywhere because it used to be everywhere, the only versions I see are these 2 on 1 CD collection from Roadrunner and I don’t like those, I prefer each individual disc. I found this CD in the regular Rock section rather than the Metal section and, if you compare it to the $16 regular price for one of those 2 on 1 discs, I saved $7 with this find.

Ian Gillan, Tony Iommi & Friends – Who Cares (2011) – $8: It’s very rare that I buy a CD single, and paying $8 for one is even rarer, but I needed this one because it marks the first recorded collaboration between Black Sabbath founder/guitarist Tony Iommi and former Sabbath/current Deep Purple singer Ian Gillan. If you’ve read this blog a while then you know I’m a huge Sabbath fan, especially post-Ozzy, so when I heard that Iommi and Gillan were working together on a project that was for charity, I had to hear what the old BORN AGAIN lineup was up to. The “friends” on this album are Jason Newsted (bass), Nicko McBrain (drums), Linde Lindstrom (guitars), and Jon Lord (keyboards) and the only play on ‘Who Cares’, the second song, ‘Holy Water’, has other musicians. This is a two song single but it’s an enhanced CD that includes the video for the title track and a 27 minute documentary on the making of Who Cares.

Charred Walls Of The Damned – Cold Winds On Timeless Days – $10: I never really gave the debut by Charred Walls Of The Damned enough time when it came out but it was a great record and I’m hoping for the same on COLD WINDS ON TIMELESS DAYS. Richard Christy’s project has Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens back again on vocals and Steve DiGiorgio on bass so it’s kind of like an Iced Earth alum band in a way…..say what you want about Ripper Owens singing on everyone’s albums (Yngwie Malmsteen, Iced Earth, and a bunch of guest spots), the guy is a great singer and not the Rob Halford clone everyone thinks he is. Charred Walls Of The Damned got instant credibilty with Owens and DiGiorgio on board but the quality of songs on the debut made this more than a bunch of names. Buying this new record means I will revisit the debut first and give both records extra playing time. Regular price is $14 but I got this on sale the day of release for $10 so I saved $4.

Halford – Live At Saitama Super Arena DVD (2011) – $7: I had no idea this was even coming out but when I saw a new Halford DVD on the Newbury Comics mailing list I immeadiately went to the Halford website to see what this release was about. A 15 song live set in Japan on the last tour in October 2010 promoting MADE OF METAL (2010) that adds two bonus videos…..there isn’t really anything else to this release which is why the price was so low. Checking out the Halford website, it seems the live CD will be released November 21 & 22 worldwide. I’m glad that Rob Halford is releasing this on DVD and CD (Blu-ray is out now too!) but I’m a little disappointed that this wasn’t released as a CD/DVD package. Granted, $7 for a concert DVD is awesome, even the $12 regular price was great, but having the audio CD and the DVD together in a nice package for a $15 sale price/$20 regular would be more my thing. Not complaining at saving $5 off the regular price for this DVD, I just wish I didn’t have to wait on the CD.

Iced Earth – Dystopia (2011) – $10: When I heard that Iced Earth had a new record coming out I was psyched because the last two albums have been really good. I’ve been a long time Iced Earth fan, since the mid-90s, and I recently went back and listened to all the older albums with Matt Barlow on vocals…..excellent stuff! The problem with Iced Earth over the last 9 years has been the constant changes in the lead vocal slot. New vocalist, and Into Eternity frontman, Stu Block is the band’s fifth lead singer in the band’s 20 year career but the real upheaval is that critically acclaimed, and fan favorite, singer Matt Barlow has left the band for a second time! For me, a new Iced Earth record is a must have no matter who’s on the mic and I made it to the store the day of release to get the limited edition digipak that includes 3 bonus tracks, a fold-out poster and a sticker. There was no regular version available that I could find but the sale price was only $10, saving me $7 off the $17 regular price.

Running Wild – The Final Jolly Roger (Live At W.O.A. 2009) (2011) – $12: Rock ‘n’ Ralf announced the end of Running Wild a couple of years ago and the band’s last performance at Wacken Open Air 2009 was recorded for the live CD and DVD. Of course, Ralf has decided to bring Running Wild back for a new album in 2012…..the originators of Pirate Metal are back again! THE FINAL JOLLY ROGER comes in 3 formats: the double live disc (this is the one I have!), the DVD, and the limited edition 2 CD/DVD set with both together. Of course, there was only one copy of the live album in the store and I had the staff look up the availability of the DVD and the 3 disc edition…..nothing. I figured that I was going to miss out on the live album if I didn’t grab it right away so I snagged it for the $12 sale price, saving $8 off the $20 regular price. Now the search is on for the DVD…..I wish that these collections were only released in the one all encompassing format. I would have easily paid $20-$25 for the 3 disc set.

Jag Panzer – The Scourge Of Light (2011) – $12: Here’s an album that I didn’t buy over the spring when it came out and the sale price came and went pretty quickly. Taking a look at my collection, I’ve picked up most Jag Panzer releases since the band came back in the late ’90s but I haven’t picked up the last two studio albums MECHANIZED WARFARE (2001) and CASTING THE STONES (2004). I think that’s one of the reasons why I passed on this CD initially…..I just haven’t bothered to keep up with the band and their presence over the last decade has been spotty. I was picking through the Metal section and I noticed that the store had 4 copies of THE SCOURGE OF LIGHT but there was only one with a sale tag on it! Regular price on the other 3 copies was $16 so I immeadiately grabbed this disc to save the $4 but the most important aspect is that this new album as ignited a new spark for Jag Panzer and I’ve been revisiting the other albums I own and I’m on the search for the missing ones.

Lillian Axe – Psychoschizophrenia (1993) – $6 used: I’ve had a lot of luck lately in the bargain bins so I went over and gave them another thorough check. I’ve pretty much grabbed all the quality Hard Rock & Metal over the last couple of months but there’s always that person that sells back CDs for store credit and enhances my collection at the same time! As soon as I saw PSYCHSCHIZOPHRENIA, I grabbed it because I knew that I needed two Lillian Axe records in the middle of their discography to complete my collection but I couldn’t remember which ones. I decided to tke the $6 risk and buy it knowing I had a 1 in 3 chance of filling another hole in my collection. When I got home, it turned out that the two records I needed were 1992′s POETIC JUSTICE and this one. My research shows that this CD goes for around $15 on Ebay so I saved $9 by bargain bin diving!

Total = $85

Total (year) = $887

Average Price (per item) = $8.61

Total Savings (month) = $78

Total Savings (year) = $813

Total CDs (year) = 96

Total DVDs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011, Universal Music)

  1. I Am Made Of You
  2. Caffeine
  3. The Nightmare Returns
  4. A Runaway Train
  5. Last Man On Earth
  6. The Congregation
  7. I’ll Bite Your Face Off
  8. Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever
  9. Ghouls Gone Wild
  10. Something To Remember Me By
  11. When Hell Comes Home
  12. What Baby Wants
  13. I Gotta Get Outta Here
  14. The Underture
  15. Under The Bed*
  16. Poison (Live At Download Festival 2011)*

(* bonus tracks for Classic Rock Magazine limited edition fan pack)

Starring:
Alice Cooper – Lead Vocals & Harmonica

Musicians:
Tommy Henriksen – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals, Programming
Michael Bruce – Guitars, keyboards, backing vocals on “A Runaway Train”, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” & “When Hell Comes Home”
Dennis Dunaway – Bass, backing vocals on “A Runaway Train”, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” & “When Hell Comes Home”
Neal Smith – Drums, percussion, backing vocals on “A Runaway Train”, “I’ll Bite Your Face Off” & “When Hell Comes Home”
Steve Hunter – guitars on “Something To Remember Me By”, “When Hell Comes Home” & “What Baby Wants”
Keith Nelson – Guitars & backing vocals on “Caffeine”
Dick Wagner – Lead guitar on “The Underture”
Tommy Denander – Guitars on “I Am Made of You”
Vince Gill – Lead guitar on “A Runaway Train” & “Gotta Get Outta Here”
Ke$ha – Guest vocals on “What Baby Wants”
Rob Zombie – Backing vocals on “The Congregation”
John 5 – Guitar on “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever”
Chuck Garric – Bass
Piggy D – Bass on “Last Man On Earth”
David Spreng – Drums on “Last Man On Earth”
Kip Winger – Backing vocals on “Ghouls Gone Wild” & “The Congregation”
Patterson Hood – Guitar on “Gotta Get Outta Here”
Jimmy DeGrasso – Drums on “I Gotta Get Outta Here”
Pat Buchanan – Guitars
Vicki Hampton – Backing vocals
Wendy Moten – Backing vocals
Scott Williamson – Drums
Jimmie Lee Sloas – Bass

Producer: Bob Ezrin

Country: USA

Total Time (including bonus tracks) = 1:02:21

Alice Cooper
Nights With Alice Cooper Radio Show
Sick Things UK

It’s been 36 years since Alice Cooper went solo and released what is possibly his most successful album, the classic and iconic WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE (1975). In that time, Alice has released 17 other studio albums and each one incorporates the horror themes, tongue-in-cheek humor and all out craziness that has become the trademark of his music and image…..but they all owe their conception to the Nightmare. Alice has been on a roll for the last decade releasing albums that have that old school, classic ’70s Alice Cooper Band sound with THE EYES OF ALICE COOPER (2003) and DIRTY DIAMONDS (2005), and the horror film/serial killer epic ALONG CAME A SPIDER (2008), so what does he do? He enlists famed producer (and unofficial sixth member of the Alice Cooper Band) Bob Ezrin, his former bandmates (Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith, Michael Bruce, Dick Wagner & Steve Hunter), and a varied list of guest musicians (Rob Zombie, Ke$ha, Vince Gill & more) to create an album that many people are calling a sequel but, in Alice’s world, it’s a continuation…..WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE (2011). 

After close to four decades after Alice’s original nightmare, his new nightmare is a bit updated but it also gives a nod to the first one. The opening song ‘I Am Made Of You’ starts with a chilling piano that recalls Alice’s classic track ‘Steven’ (the main character and inspiration for the original Nightmare). It’s a very basic song and builds as it moves forward to a bigger sound but with that piano under it all keeping it creepy. Alice puts in a solid vocal and uses some studio effects on parts of his vocal (some may confuse it with Auto-Tune) to add to that creepiness. The guitars and orchestration are added fora grand effect and the song takes on this preview quality of what’s to come. The opening guitar to ‘Caffeine’ sets the manic tone that reflects Alice’s fear of falling asleep…..he’ll do whatever it takes to stay awake so the Nightmare doesn’t begin. “Caffeine, caffeine, amphetamine, a little speed is all I need….“, I think that says it all, he has to stay awake at any cost and you can feel the panic. Alice can’t hold out forever and ‘The Nightmare Returns’ is just that…..Alice starts to fall asleep and it’s almost like he’s singing a creepy lullaby over that chilling piano. For a quick 1:15, the song sets the tone…..Alice is asleep and the Nightmare begins…..

‘A Runaway Train’ is Alice’s reunion with his old Alice Cooper Band bandmates Bruce, Dunaway & Smith along with guitar work from Steve Hunter and a mean guitar solo from country superstar Vince Gill. Alice finds himself stuck on this runaway train heading toward his nightmare at full speed and he’s waiting for the eventual crash. If you listen to the lyrics, Alice is talking to the other passengers on this train to nightmares and he realizes that his fame and fortune will get him nowhere because everyone is equal on this train…..the Nightmare is coming and nothing can stop it and he can’t wake. The song itself sounds like a classic country barnyard hoedown mixed with straight ’70s Hard Rock that eventually ends with the crash. ‘The Last Man On Earth’ has that vaudeville sound mixed with jazz, almost like a marching band…..I could see Alice walking down some deserted street with a ghostly band behind him singing this song at the top of his lungs! Basically, this is Alice immersed in the dream but he’s alone and he realizes he can do whatever he wants…..but is that a good thing? He can’t tell because he knows he’s in his own nightmare. Continuing to ‘The Congregation’, this is classic Beatles if I ever heard it and Rob Zombie is Alice’s guide through the dream. Back on the 1975 record, Vincent Price did the spoken word narrations and now Alice’s good friend Mr. Zombie takes over and he fits in perfectly. I heard someone on a radio show recently say that this song sounded like Cheap Trick but they were Beatles influenced also so it all comes down to the originators and Alice showing off what influenced his musical direction. Alice shows another influence, this time The Rolling Stones (who I prefer to The Beatles), with another reunion song with his old bandmates titled ‘I’ll Bite Your Face Off’. The guitar is pure Keith Richards, the tempo is classic Wyman/Watts and you could almost hear Mick singing the song but the lyrics are so not the Stones. Even the piano break in the middle of the song sounds Stonsey, a bit of Ian Stewart (the sixth member of the Stones) from Bob Ezrin (the sixth member of Alice Cooper). Obviously, Alice has met a girl in his dream and she may look nice but she has a dark side.

From The Beatles and The Stones we move into disco…..disco? ‘Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever’ is one of my favorite songs on the album, it has a touch of Rap mixed with a disco dance beat but it moves to straight out Metal towards the end. John 5 guests on guitar on this track and he’s one of the best modern guitarists on the scene. The concept here is that Disco is the antithesis of everything Alice stands for and he can’t make the music, or the people, stop. No matter how many he kills, more show up and keep going, so it turns into a bloodbath…..”Bodies here, bodies there, piles of bodies everywhere…..“. Another favorite of mine is the surf rock sound of ‘Ghouls Gone Wild’…..I love that word play on the title “ghouls” replacing “girls” from that highly successful babefest video series Girls Gone Wild. In Alice’s nightmare, the chicks are there dancing on the beach but they’re all dead and he falls for one of course! It sounds like a B-movie horror film concept and I can only describe it as a “zombie beach a go-go” with that Beach Boys sound from the early ’60s. Great guitar work here from Tommy Henriksen and Steve Hunter, they capture that ’60s surf vibe perfectly, and the background vocals ( especially the oooh-aaahs) from Mark Volman (The Turtles), Ezrin and Kip Winger add that extra detail. Comparing both the original NIGHTMARE and NIGHTMARE 2, you need the seminal ballad. On the first album, it was the classic ‘Only Women Bleed’, a song that became one of Alice’s biggest hits…..on the new record, it’s ‘Something To Remember Me By’. It’s got that same sound, that same style vocal from Alice that was so unexpected 36 years ago, it sounds sweet but you realize Alice is singing to this ghoul from the beach party! Classic Alice! One of the things I like to do with these kind of concept albums is follow along with the lyric sheet and, as I write this review, I’m referring to it to follow the storyline because this nightmare is really a story.

Alice’s nightmare continues to themes of domestic violence in ‘When Hell Comes Home’…..kind of like ‘Only Women Bleed’ from the first NIGHTMARE. ‘When Hell Comes Home’ is creepier, more sinister and definitely one of the heavier songs on the album. This part of the dream/story is from a child’s perspective (a young Alice maybe?) about how his Daddy comes home drunk and likes to take his aggressions on the family…..of course Alice turns the tables on Daddy in the end! The are a ton of guest stars on this album and one of the most talked about is pop diva Ke$ha and her performance on ‘What Baby Wants’. I’ll be honest, upon hearing the news of her involvement I was not a happy metalhead because I felt Alice was pandering to get extra fans from the musically uneducated masses. I know all about Ke$ha because I have two daughters and a wife that love Pop and Dance music and I have no tolerance for it. Does anyone expect anything great from an Alice/Ke$ha pairing? I didn’t but I was proven wrong because ‘What Baby Wants’ is a pretty good catchy tune and Ke$ha sounds more Rock than she does Pop. I thought the concept that she is the Devil in Alice’s dream was kind of funny because I such preconceptions of the duet but it works disguising the Devil as a young good-looking woman, she wants his soul and….”what baby wants, baby gets!”. Another classic track is “I Gotta Get Outta Here’ where Alice basically realizes he has to wake up because this nightmare is out of control but he doesn’t realize that he’s already dead! The choir section and Alice’s lines to them at the end is classic. Now that the Nightmare is over for Alice, we receive ‘The Underture’, the grand instrumental finale that uses instrumentation from songs on both NIGHTMARE records to end it all and forever link the two albums.

Now if you’re a big Alice fan like myself then you like to collect everything Alice records and the Classic Rock Magazine special issue for WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE is a really cool deal. I have the original release CD but I also dropped the import price for the special magazine that includes the album with two bonus tracks, poster, Alice make-up, an Alice mask, a School’s Out pin and an issue of Classic rock specially devoted to Alice Cooper. I seem to be buying these up lately, I have this one, the Whitesnake one and I just ordered the Motorhead issue…..they are great collector’s pieces! The bonus tracks include a studio song titled ‘Under The Bed’ and a live version of Alice’s huge hit ‘Poison’ from the 2011 Download Festival. ‘Under The Bed’ is a solid song that is another slow creepy sounding song with that Ezrin piano that gives that scary feel…..it’s all about Alice not wanting to fall asleep because he knows that he’ll have a nightmare and that there are things under the bed that will torment him. It’s a good song and it would probably fit either before or after ‘Caffeine’ in the album sequence. The live ‘Poison’ from Download is a solid performance and, being a veteran of many an Alice concert, the song is a highlight every show. If you were a teen like me in 1989 when TRASH came out, then you know all about the song, the comeback, and the success so the man has to play it and it always fits the theatrical part of his show. It’s a solid recording and performance and I’m hoping that it gets properly released as a live album and DVD and the fact that two more live songs appear on the Canadian deluxe pressing of the album (‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ & ‘The Black Widow’) means that it’s a possibility. Just another quick collector’s note outside the proper album, there are a bunch of different album versions with bonus tracks: the Classic Rock  Magazine fan pack and the Canadian deluxe pressing I mentioned, there’s a deluxe digipak and Japanese pressing that include the other two live tracks but replaces ‘Under The Bed’ with the studio song ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’, the vinyl that has the studio track ‘Flatline’ instead of ‘Under The Bed’ and the iTunes bonus song ‘A Bad Situation’. I haven’t heard any of these other bonus tracks so I can’t review them…..but I will be seeking them out.

Bottom Line:
It’s hard to top one of the most iconic albums in Hard Rock & Heavy Metal but Alice Cooper and his cast of musicians and collaborators have come extremely close. I grew up listening to classic Alice albums and WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE (1975) is so good, so famous, so groundbreaking that topping it is next to impossible and I think Alice knows that so why not just continue the Nightmare? That’s exactly what this record does: it continues to dive into the demented world that is Alice’s dreams only that this time around there is no escape! The entire concept of the album serves as the perfect bridge between to eras of Alice’s career but the latest NIGHTMARE can easily stand alone as it’s own entity, if there never was an original NIGHTMARE album, then this new record would stand alone just as strong. I like the fact that Alice is able to keep his current music fresh and exciting but always giving that nod towards his classic ’70s sound. The music, lyrics and production on the album are top shelf but that’s to be expected when you pair up Alice Cooper with Bob Ezrin and the host of guests that either write or perform on the album. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best Alice record of the new millenium era (2000 to present) and there is some stiff competition for that title with the last three albums (mentioned above) and BRUTAL PLANET (2000) and DRAGONTOWN (2001). WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE is definitely one of the top releases of 2011 for me and I can easily say that it’s currently battling at the top of my list for the #1 album of 2011.

Favorite Songs:
When you have a concept album with such great songs it can be hard to pick out a few songs as favorites because the songs really blend into each other to tell the story. I’ll be honest, I can’t find a bad song on this album and I really do like them all but, if I have to choose four stand-out tracks they would be ‘Caffeine’, ‘Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever, ‘Ghouls Gone Wild’ and ‘When Hell Comes Home’. The songs all either have the Alice humor, the horror or the freakiness that are all his trademarks. I’m also going to give a quick mention here to the Ke$ha collaboration on ‘What Baby Wants’…..way better than I expected.