The Top 25 Albums of 2011

I think I say the same things every year when I write the introduction to my Best of the Year list…..this year was one of the greatest years for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal! More and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2011 was no exception, this was the biggest year for Heavy Metal Addiction as far as promotional review copies go. Usually, I physically buy all my new albums but this year I partnered with more labels, more promotional people and more bands and I received more albums for review than any other year. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up and I came nowhere close to listening to all of them properly. Looking at the piles on my desk, the boxes next to it and the separate iTunes folder I reserve for promo downloads, it’s easy to estimate that I have more new 2011 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than in 2010! Add in all the new releases I bought on my weekly trips to the record stores, and my daily online searches, and it’s fair to estimate that the total number of new releases is on par with what I had for 2010. Unfortunately, I’ve let the website go a little in the last couple of years so, while I’ve been listening to almost everything, I just haven’t posted about it.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 25 was the same criteria I’ve used for the last few years: the album had to be a studio album (not a live record, best of, or covers collection) AND the album had to be released in 2011. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2010 internationally, but was released in the U.S. in 2011, qualified as a 2011 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 25 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I could have continued with a Top 40 list but I got so far behind listening and writing so there are definitely albums I haven’t heard yet or didn’t give proper time to. We’re talking a couple hundred albums though so anything that got missed might end up in an expanded “Albums I Missed in 2011″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 25 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 25 Albums of 2011:

25. Nelson – Lightning Strikes Twice (2011)
24. Michael Monroe – Sensory Overdrive (2011)
23. U.D.O. – Rev-Raptor (2011)
22. Riot – Immortal Soul (2011)
21. Tokyo Blade – Thousand Men Strong (2011)

Starting at the bottom of the countdown is the new Nelson album that surprised me with it’s huge melodic hooks and vocals, former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe’s latest solo album that I bought late in the year but ended up enjoying a lot and the steadiness of U.D.O.’s Traditional Metal REV-RAPTOR. I still can’t figure out what a “rev-raptor” is aside from the machine on the cover but there you go. Two huge surprises were from Riot and Tokyo Blade! Riot scored #22 with a solid record from the THUNDERSTEEL-era lineup (a record I was looking forward to big time!) but the band had to endure the loss of Riot founder/guitarist Mark Reale…..at least he left a lasting legacy with this last album. The big surprise was NWOBHM legends Tokyo Blade, who came out of nowhere with THOUSAND MEN STRONG, one of the biggest comebacks of 2011! I’ve been a Tokyo Blade fan for a long time but I really didn’t expect much when I heard the band was releasing a new album but I was completely surprised and excited, sounds like old school NWOBHM with a modern touch.

20. Stratovarius – Elysium (2011)
19. Journey – Eclipse (2011)
18. Iced Earth – Dystopia (2011)
17. Royal Hunt – Show Me How To Live (2011)
16. Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions (2011)

I came late to the Stratovarius party even though I’ve acquired a few albums over the years, ELYSIUM was another epic Power Metal record. Journey’s ECLIPSE was a leader for the Top 5 this year but, as other bands released new records, and I kept comparing this album to 2008′s REVELATION, ECLIPSE fell a little. It’s still a solid AOR album Arnel Pineda still shines as the new Steve Perry but it wasn’t as good as REVELATION. Iced Earth made another vocalist change adding Stu Block from Into Eternity but they released one hell of an album with DYSTOPIA…..another late year purchase that might have gone higher with more time. Same for Royal Hunt but their reunion with D.C. Cooper is just what I needed to add their new Progressive/Power Metal album into the Top 25. I know a lot of fans of the more extreme side of Metal look at Arch Enemy as somewhat of a commercial band, especially with Angela Gossow front and center, but they are still kind of new to me. As I open myself up to more extreme bands, a band like Arch Enemy is a good starting point. I’m more of a Traditional/Power Metal fan and a AOR/Hard Rock fan but KHAOS LEGIONS sounded great to my ears and I had to rate it higher than some of my favorite bands (Iced Earth, Royal Hunt, Riot).

15. Anvil – Juggernaut Of Justice (2011)
14. Scheepers – Scheepers (2011)
13. Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
12. Chickenfoot – III (2011)
11. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming (2011)

Gotta give some love to Anvil because THIS IS THIRTEEN (2007) was a great comeback album (even though they never left!) even without the movie and they had four busy years to release a follow-up. JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE continued where THIS IS THIRTEEN left off and exceeded all my expectations…..great to see the band still getting success even with the movie hoopla dying out, hard work pays off! Ralf Scheepers didn’t stray too far from the more commercial side of Primal Fear’s last few albums but his first solo album was just as good as those. What can you say about Dream Theater? They always release one great record after another and, yes, Mike Portnoy is a huge loss on drums but Mike Mangini does a great job! Another big surprise in 2011 was the new Chickenfoot album, III, because I didn’t really feel the debut album. Not to say I didn’t like the first Chickenfoot record but the songs weren’t as catchy, as memorable. On III, the songs instantly stuck too me and the harmonies were awesome between Mike Anthony and Sammy, they can take the “supergroup” label off and just be a band now. Talk about a comeback! Sebastian Bach came back and kicked his former band in the teeth with this new solo album, KICKING & SCREAMING.  Baz sounds as great as he ever did and his band is blazing! I always get disappointed with Baz because I always think he should be doing more music than interviews, or reality shows, or VH-1 related things but he really came back strong with this record.

10. Warrant – Rockaholic (2011)
9. Saxon – Call To Arms (2011)
8. Night Ranger – Somewhere In California (2011)
7. Motorhead – The World Is Yours (2011)
6. Black Country Communion – 2 (2011)

Despite original singer Jani Lane passing away, Warrant recruited former Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason (who replaced Black ‘N Blue singer Jamie St. James) and released a wicked Hard Rock record with ROCKAHOLIC. The first two songs, ‘Sex Ain’t Love’ and ‘Innocence Gone’, are two of the best Hard Rock songs of the year! Saxon is one of my Top 5 favorite bands of all time and they released another great album with CALL TO ARMS. I was a little worried when I read they were stripping back their current sound for something more like the early ’80s because they have released a string of great Traditional/Power Metal albums since 1997′s UNLEASH THE BEAST…..the good news is that the old NWOBHM guard still maintained their excellent track record of the last 15 years! I’ve been a Night Ranger fan since the early ’80s and I thought they easily made the best Melodic Rock record of 2011 after one spin of the new album, once I heard this album, the  Journey and Nelson records started to pale in comparison. Like Saxon, Motorhead is a favorite band and a staple when it comes to my year end countdowns. You know what you’re going to get from Motorhead before they album is released but you know it’s going to rip your face off and punch you in the gut! Lemmy, Mikkey and Phil just keep making great album after great album every other year…..see you in 2013 Motorhead! Coming is at #6, and just missing the Top 5 by a hair, is the sophomore album by Black Country Communion (the other supergroup in the countdown). Just hearing Glenn Hughes sing ’70s styled Hard Rock is enough to catapult any band or album into year end lists but the songs are so good and the performances so perfect that I knew this was going to be a top album of 2011 after the first spin. Hard working band too, this album came out a year after the debut, they released a live record and DVD and have toured constantly…..that’s old school work ethic and it pays off.

5. Whitesnake – Forevermore (2011)
4. Mr. Big – What If… (2011)
3. Anthrax – Worship Music (2011)
2. Michael Schenker – Temple Of Rock (2011)

Making the Top 5 is no easy task when hundreds, if not thousands, of new albums get released each year but these four albums had the #1 spot on my countdown and really put me to task to pick the best album of 2011. Whitesnake started the year off with the album to beat, FOREVERMORE being a continuation of GOOD TO BE BAD but just a shade behind that awesome 2008 album. Maybe it’s because FOREVERMORE didn’t have 11 years of waiting and then hit you between the eyes but the new album did keep David Coverdale and the band at the top again. This year’s countdown has a lot of Hard Rock comebacks with Baz and Warrant turning in solid albums but Mr. Big really made the superior Hard Rock album of 2011 and then toured the album hard with more than just a few making the live set. I expected nothing from a new Mr. Big album but WHAT IF…. was a great album from a band reuniting and not just going out for the quick nostalgia buck. I’ll tell you what, they were definitely one of the best concerts I saw this past year too! Mr. Bog would have had the top album of 2011, and the best comeback of 2011, if Anthrax decided not to release WORSHIP MUSIC! Are you kidding me? WORSHIP MUSIC is an album that should be my top record of 2011 because it’s so good, so thrashy, so hard and so melodic all rolled into one. The band is tight as usual, no problems there, but the wild card in all of this was whether the band reuniting with Joey Belladonna would make a difference. No offense to the John Bush-era of Anthrax but Belladonna is just a better fit! Joey sounds as good as he ever has, the band sounds as brutal as ever and there isn’t a throwaway song on the album. A lot of year end countdown’s have Anthrax at the top of the list and, in a year of comebacks, they have the best one but the band got trumped by one of my favorite guitarists of all-time…..Michael Schenker! The #2 album of 2011, and a serious contender for the #1 spot right to the end, was Schenker’s new TEMPLE OF ROCK solo album. Is it the Michael Schenker Group? Is it him by himself, hence a solo album? TEMPLE OF ROCK follows the lead of 2006′s TALES OF ROCK ‘N ROLL where Michael and his regular backing band teamed up with another new vocalist for the half of the new album and then did a few songs each with a different singer from Michael’s career. This time around it’s new singer Michael Voss for 10 of the 12 new songs with Robin McAuley and Doogie White each singing one…..I kind of expected Gary Barden to fit in here somewhere considering he’s done Michael’s last two albums but he’s not here. Voss sounds great, the guitar is pure Schenker mastery and the songs are all well written with big memorable hooks and solos. Best song on the album is the McAuley led ‘Lover’s Sinfony’, which I got to see live when the band came through town, with a close second being ‘Miss Claustraphobia’ performed by Michael Voss. Michael Schenker had some rough years since the mid-’90s but the guy is such a talented musician, so prolific on guitar, that the music is a reflection of the man’s genius. Definitely a tough task to beat out anyone in the Top 5, especially Anthrax, but Schenker and company came out of nowhere and blew me away.

Up until the last minute, up until I had written this post this far, I finally made the decision to place the next album as the best album of 2011…..the top album of 2011 is…..

(drum roll please…..)

#1

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

This was a hard one to call with the Top 5 albums being so good and Anthrax and Michael Schenker being in a virtual three-way tie with Alice Cooper right up until the end. Actually, I didn’t make up my mind until I gave each album a spin one last time before I wrote this up. In the end…..Alice is the winner!

WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE is not a sequel to the iconic WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE (1975) but a continuation of Alice’s nightmares…..that’s exactly how this album won. Alice and producer Bob Ezrin weren’t trying to best one of the greatest Rock albums of all-time, they were trying to continue the tale and putting a current spin on what Alice would be dreaming about 37 years later! Turns out Alice’s nightmares just get worse! Every song on the album is well written with the usual Alice Cooper trademark humor and horror mix, the production is perfect and the performances are flawless. There are more than a few guest stars, including the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band and notable names like Vince Gill and Ke$ha, and they all move into the dreamworld effortlessly. I was especially impressed with the reunion of the original Alice Cooper band members because it just shows how much impact the original band had and how much creativity they still have because they are all great musicians. Now Alice Cooper is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and now Alice has a #1 album at Heavy Metal Addiction…..what could be better?

The 2 Worst Albums of 2011

Here we go again! 2011 was another great year for new albums…..bands from all different genres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal released good albums this year and I was on the frontlines buying them up as they were released. Of course there were some bad albums too. I bought more new releases, and had more new albums submitted for review, in 2011 so there were bound to be some bad ones in the pile. In previous years, I’ve received a lot of email about my decision to call this list the “Worst” albums of the year, some people have thought that it is too negative. My feeling is that no matter if the album is a major disappointment because you were looking forward to it so much, or the album is just plain awful from the packaging, to the production, to the performance, then it qualifies under the heading of “Worst”. Of all the albums I picked up some releases were just plain bad, some were huge disappointments, some I just couldn’t stand, the problem is that I didn’t listen to everything I bought or had submitted for review. This year was probably my worst year posting album reviews on the site, as well as, my worst year catching up on all the listening I needed to do. As a result of my inconsitency, I decided to cut the list down from the normal Top 5 to a Top 2. Don’t worry! The two albums that made this list are truly the worst I heard this past year and I can’t really recommend them to anyone…..so here is my list of The 2 Worst Albums of 2011:

#1

Metallica & Lou Reed – LuLu (2011): This collaboration between Metallica and Lou Reed definitely raised eyebrows when it was announced and I have to admit that, even though I had some interest in it, I knew that this album was going to blow! Can any true Metallica fan really say that this was a good idea? Especially after the excellent DEATH MAGNETIC (2008)? The music is Metallica but it sounds like a constant drone when you add in Lou Reed’s spoken word poetry that is so immersed in late ’60s hippie culture. It’s two different forms of music that completely clash. I understand poetry…..I’ve read many different poets’ works and I even used to write some myself so I understand it’s an expression and, believe me, Reed expresses himself. But does it makes sense? Does it go with the Heavy Metal score that Metallica produces? My interest was solely to find out if this was going to be the train wreck I thought it would be and I was right. Forget ST. ANGER (2003), LULU is the worst album Metallica has ever put their name to! I’m going to get emails that tell me that this isn’t a Metallica album or a Lou Reed album but a collaborative project…..if that’s the case, come up with a better name than “Lou Reed & Metallica”, using their respective names leads both fanbases down the primrose path. The music is fine but it gets killed by Reed’s semi-coherent spoken word babble. I made it through one listen and it was hard to do, I mean it’s really bad! Thank god I bought this used and cheap! Absolutely the worst album of 2011!

#2

Queensryche – Dedicated To Chaos (2011): Queensryche should be thanking Metallica and Lou Reed for releasing such a turd this year because DEDICATED TO CHAOS was the clear cut winner of the Worst Album award until LULU. Let me start out by saying that I was really looking forward to a new Queensryche album because I was under the impression that the band was going to continue moving forward with the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal direction they went with on AMERICAN SOLDIER (2009). I thought that AMERICAN SOLDIER was a great comeback for a band that had been floundering with their sound and direction for years, that album was so good that any Queensryche fan would be excited for a new record. I even ran out and bought the deluxe version so I could have the extra three bonus tracks! Unfortunately, Queensryche disappoints again! The album starts off well with the late ’90s sound of ‘Get Started’ but that’s where the good times end. The songs slow down, get grungy, industrial, even Nu-Metal in some spots. I knew there was a problem when I heard the word “YouTube” in the lyrics for ‘Hot Spot Junkie’. Lead singer, and band leader, Geoff Tate has made no bones about his dislike of the Progressive Metal, or Heavy Metal, label that gets attached to the band. Geoff tries his best to steer Queensryche away from the Metal genre (listen to 2003′s TRIBE) any chance he gets. At least the music is listenable even if the lyrics are just bad, as is the “slave to technology” theme that fills the album. I’m not digging all the effects used for dramatic license to enhance the songs. In the grand scheme of things I guess DEDICATED TO CHAOS isn’t awful like LULU, it’s more of a major disappointment and an obvious setback to a great band. It’s not unlistenable like LULU in the fact that it blows but in the fact that it sounds nothing like classic Queensryche.

The Top 5 DVDs of 2011

2011 was a pretty good year for music DVDs and I made sure I picked up my fair share. Actually, this turned out to be one of my better years for DVDs, I bought straight up DVD release but I also picked up a few special CD/DVD releases that turned up in The Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2011. Bands and labels are continuing to raise the bar by putting a lot of content into these DVDs so that the fans get a lot of value for their hard earned dollar and most of them are very well done. I wanted to list pure DVDs here but I’m realizing that some of these special package releases technically qualify for this category because, well, they include a DVD! I think that I’ll have to revisit my criteria for 2012 and there may be some overlap between the best DVD list and the best miscellaneous list. Here is my list of  The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2011:

#1

Lemmy (49% Motherfucker. 51% Son of a Bitch) (2011): This documentary on Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister was released in early 2011 (even though the date says 2010!) and it was the clear winner upon first view! You’re not going to find a bigger icon of Heavy Metal than Lemmy and you’re not going to find another band that hasn’t compromised themselves or their sound over a 36 year career like Motorhead. Well, there’s also AC/DC! For those who don’t own this DVD, you may have caught the edited version on VH-1 Classic…..that just doesn’t cut it for me! The uncut documentary if two hours long but the bonus footage on the second DVD adds over three more hours! That’s over fiver hours of interviews, concert footage, current and archival footage, backstage action and basically Lemmy’s every day existence. It’s great to get a glimpse of a rock star’s life and watching this document of Lemmy’s lifestyle is eye-opening. It’s not all mansions, money and sex…..it’s hard work, hard drinking, candid conversation and a unique way of living. I could go on and on but those who love Metal know that Lemmy is just as much an icon, just as much a founding father of Heavy Metal, as Ozzy, Iommi, Dio, Halford and Blackmore are. Looking into his life and career in five hours probably doesn’t uncover the surface. One of my favorite parts of the DVD is in the beginning when you get a look at Lemmy (with his son) in his L.A. apartment…..talk about being a prime candidate for the TV show Hoarders! Easily this was the best DVD of 2011 and one of the best of the last few years, highly recommended.

#2

Deep Purple – Phoenix Rising (2011): Had there not been a five hour DVD on Lemmy, PHOENIX RISING would have been my top DVD of 2011. This DVD set is a special edition DVD/CD covering the Mark IV lineup of Deep Purple that included Jon Lord, Ian Paice, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes and Tommy Bolin performing live in Japan in December 1975 and an documentary on the band titled ‘Gettin’ Tighter’. Also included is a bonus interview from December ’75 in Jakarta with Glenn Hughes & Jon Lord, an electronic press kit for the COME TASTE THE BAND record and two awesome booklets full of vintage pictures, articles and a great history. Add the audio CD that includes rare live tracks from the Mark IV lineup on tour in Japan and Long Beach, California and you’ve got a serious package for Purple fans. When you think of Deep Purple, you really don’t think past the classic lineup of Blackmore/Paice/Lord/Gillan/Glover (Mark II) or the Mark III lineup that included Coverdale and Hughes replacing Ian Gillan and Roger Glover…..there really isn’t much out there documenting the Mark IV lineup but this DVD package makes up for it. Deep Purple is one of the most consistent bands of all-time despite various (many!) lineup changes.

#3

AC/DC – Live At River Plate (2011): AC/DC is another band that just churns out consistently good material all the time, this time around it’s the excellent LIVE AT RIVER PLATE concert DVD. The DVD was shot in Buenos Aires, Argentina in December 2009 on the Black Ice World Tour and features the full 19 song setlist that was featured throughout the tour, including the concert I attended in Foxboro, MA on the U.S. run. Obviously this is like a tour souvenir for me but if you attended this tour then you know that the band was at their best and the show was excellent. It’s a big stage production that looks great on my 52″ HDTV and the 32 camera HD production makes it like you’re actually there. Aside from the concert is the bonus documentary and the show opening animation that started each concert. Of all the DVDs I bought this year, LIVE AT RIVER PLATE is the best pure concert DVD.

#4

Iced Earth – Festivals Of The Wicked (2011): It was really tough to put this new Iced Earth live DVD at #4 because I really thought it was a great tour document for 2007 & 2008 for FRAMING ARMAGEDDON (2007) and THE CRUCIBLE OF MAN (SOMETHING WICKED Part 2) (2008). I’ve been a fan of Iced Earth since the early ’90s  and this double DVD set packs in 5 hours of Iced Earth with three full concerts featuring both Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens and Matt Barlow on lead vocals. Ripper performs on the Wacken Open Air Festival 2007 and Barlow at Rock Hard 2008 and Metal Camp Slovenia 2008, my favorite is the Wacken show because I’ve warmed up to the Ripper fronted Iced Earth more as the years have passed. Don’t get me wrong, the Matt Barlow eras of the band are the classic periods and sound but I love seeing Ripper perform. Add in the 60 minute documentary on the 2008 tour to start the first DVD with the bonus material videos and slideshows that end the second DVD and you’ve got a solid package. Up above, I stated that LIVE AT RIVER PLATE was the best pure concert DVD of 2011 but FESTIVALS OF THE WICKED comes close because of the three full shows. I probably should have made this a tie between AC/DC and Iced Earth but my attendance at the AC/DC show put them ahead of Iced Earth.

#5

Twisted Sister – Double Live: North Stage 1982 & New York Steel 2001 (2011): Twisted Sister is one of those bands that, as the years go by, I come to appreciate more and more. I’ve bought a few of the reissues, bought the Xmas record and DVD and I even saw the band live a few years ago but there really isn’t much future for live shows or a studio album. The one thing Twisted Sister does well is release DVDs of archival concert footage and this time around one of the most important concerts in the band’s career is featured – New York Steel 2001 - a concert for the New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund, a fund set up for the families of rescue personnel involved in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. That concert is the main reason to buy this DVD, not only is it a benefit show for a serious cause but it documents the band’s reunion after a 13 year breakup. For me, the North Stage show from the band’s 1982 club days is a bonus compared to the importance of the NY Steel 2001 concert but it’s also a great live document of the band just before they started recording their bebut album UNDER THE BLADE. Add in the fresh interviews from the band commenting on both shows and you have a solid DVD.

The Best Miscellaneaous Releases of 2011

Not every album released is a new studio album…..but it sure seems like they are! Every year there are a ton of live albums, greatest hits packages, reissues, remasters, box sets, special edition and limited edition releases that flood the marketplace. Sometimes there are multiple versions of these releases depending on which part of the world they are released in!

The one important criteria I have each year for the best and worst albums lists is that the albums have to be new studio albums…..or at least promoted as new studio albums. The problem is that some of these live records and greatest hits packages are quality releases and there’s nothing like getting a really good reissue of some long out of print album you’ve been searching years for. That’s why this year I’m creating this new list to recognize some of the quality non-studio, non-original releases that have found their way into my collection. There were a lot of different releases that I picked up that weren’t studio albums so I’m only going to list my ten favorites. So here are my Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2011…..

Bitch – Be My Slave/Damnation Alley E.P. (2011 remaster): I had no idea that this Bitch album was getting the remaster treatment from Metal Blade and I was completely surprised when i saw this in the new release rack back in August. Not only do you get the remastered BE MY SLAVE record from 1983 but also the DAMNATION ALLEY E.P. from 1982 along with a bonus track, ‘Let’s Go’. You can still find the original CDs online but what makes this remaster a top pick is the bonus DVD that runs over 2 hours long! The DVD includes a live performance at the Keep It True XIV Festival in Germany back in April 2011 and a classic performance from L.A. from the early ’80s and a couple of music videos. The DVD alone would have been a solid purchase but it adds so much more to the remaster.

Black Sabbath – Born Again (2011 Deluxe Edition) & Dehumanizer (2011 Deluxe Edition): I’m a huge Black Sabbath fan, especially of the post-Ozzy eras of the band! So far, I’ve collected most of these deluxe editions from the Dio years and the Tony Martin led THE ETERNAL IDOL (1989) but I was waiting for both BORN AGAIN and DEHUMANIZER to get the deluxe treatment. Both editions offer two bonus tracks each, live tracks from each tour and solid packaging but the best detail on these reissues is the sound. BORN AGAIN always had that thick muddy sound to it and this remaster sounds better than my original CD and the DEHUMANIZER CD sounds just as good. Definitely a couple of highlights added to my collection this year, now I’m looking forward to the rest of the Tony Martin era getting the deluxe treatment!

Eric Carr – Unfinished Business (2011): Being a KISS fan, and an Eric Carr fan, I had to list this CD. I ended up getting an advance copy of this new Eric Carr album and I’m honored to have it in my collection. During his tenure, Eric was the most outgoing member of KISS when it came to meeting with the fans…..he loved his fans and the fans loved him. It’s been 20 years since Eric’s passing and his family, specifically his sister Loretta, has compiled this collection of rare recordings that include unreleased songs, live tracks, remixes and interview clips. There are obvious KISS links in most of the songs and I really like hearing was Eric’s audition tape for KISS back in 1980 when he sang ‘Shandi’…..now that’s a rarity! I also think the packaging is top notch: a glossy digipak with plenty of liner notes for each track.

Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More (2011): Hard to believe this is Def Leppard’s first live album but MIRRORBALL captures the band extremely well with a great overall sound. The songs are taken from the last few tours and it’s basically the same hits pack we’ve seen live since 2007 but the sound on all those hits is awesome. Lots of value here being a Wal-Mart release: 2 bonus live tracks, 3 new studio songs and a 45 minute DVD that includes a behind the scenes look at the last tour in 2008/2009, live tracks and music videos. I also like the old school, thick jewel case! Definitely a solid pickup and a solid live album…..it makes you wonder what took the Leps so long to release one.

Doro – 25 years In Rock…..And Still Going Strong (2011): Finally, a proper U.S. release of this 2 DVD & CD set celebrating Doro’s 25th anniversary in Metal. This collection was originally released back in September 2010 around the world but U.S. distribution took a little longer…..surprising considering Nuclear Blast has a U.S. branch. This package includes the 3 hour 25th anniversary concert in Germany with tons of guest stars on the first DVD, a documentary and tons of extra live performances on the second DVD, and a live disc with highlights from the anniversary concert. I spent about $20 on this release and, even though some of the performances are 3 years old, it was definitely worth it. Doro has packed a ton of material in here for a great price, my only complaint being that the live disc isn’t the complete anniversary show…..I would have easily paid the extra money to get the full show on audio.

Grave Digger – The Clans Are Still Marching (Live At Wacken 2010) (2011): It’s always great to see a band and label get it right and release a special package of a live DVD with the bonus live CD. Napalm Records and Grave Digger released THE CLANS ARE STILL MARCHING in both the CD and DVD formats but each version gave you the bonus of the other format. If you bought the DVD styled case, you received the bonus audio CD of the full show and, if you bought the CD version then you got the bonus DVD. Seems a little odd to release the show that way but you get the full experience of the band’s 2010 Wacken show either way. There’s bonus footage on the DVD and the package I bought was the CD hardbook version.

Twisted Sister – Under The Blade (Special Edition CD/DVD) (2011): Twisted Sister’s back catalogue got the reissue treatment in 2011 but this special edition of UNDER THE BLADE stands out as the best. First is the original Secret Records mix of the album with bonus tracks coming from the 1982 RUFF CUTTS E.P. Remember, there are two versions of UNDER THE BLADE: the original record from 1982 and the remixed album from 1985 on Atlantic Records (with an alternate album cover). That’s enough right there to make a solid reissue but there’s a bonus DVD included of the band’s appearance at the 1983 Reading Festival along with bonus interviews. Twisted Sister has been releasing a lot of archival material lately but getting the original version of UNDER THE BLADE out there was a must, as was getting RUFF CUTTS into circulation.

UFO – The Chrysalis Years (1973-1979) (2011): This is one of my favorite releases of the year and it’s not just because I’m a HUGE UFO fan but because this is a perfect collection to introduce a new fan to classic UFO. I was lucky to receive an advance copy of this 5 CD set and I was able to get a lot of time comparing it to other remasters that I own. This set includes UFO’s first five albums with Chrysalis Records (PHENOMENON, FORCE IT, NO HEAVY PETTING, LIGHTS OUT & OBSESSION), as well as, the classic live record STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT. Each album is remastered and sequenced in order of release with non-album singles, B-sides, bonus tracks and previously unreleased live performances all mixed in the timeline properly. Basically, you’re getting the classic Michael Schenker era UFO in all it’s glory complete with an extensive booklet that includes a new 2011 interview with lead singer/founder Phil Mogg and extensive song credits. I could have used some extra pictures and proper photos of each individual album’s cover art but that’s a small complaint. This collection is retailing for around $20-$25 depending where you buy your music so it’s a heck of a buy and a great way to get started into a great band, I hope there’s another collection like this with the rest of the UFO catalog.

Whitesnake – Live At Donington 1990 (Special edition 2CD/DVD) (2011): Another solid live package from a classic band that’s had a major resurgence in the last few years. Whitesnake is as relevant as ever by releasing two awesome studio albums in the last few years and having some great anniversary reissues of the band’s best selling albums from the ’80s but this new live set is something fans like myself want to have. 1990 was probably Whitesnake’s peak of success and this Donington perofrmance on the Slip Of The Tongue tour is a great way to re-live some of the glory days. The package includes the full live show on DVD and CDs (a huge plus for me!) and it’s got great glossy digipak packaging with plenty of pictures and great disc artwork. I love live releases like this! Both formats, full shows and a lot of care put into the package.

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Albums I Missed in 2010

It never fails…..every year goes by and there are always a ton of albums I end up missing. There are so many new albums released every year that it’s almost impossible to keep up. Usually I spend the first two months of the new year acquiring all the albums I didn’t buy the previous year before all the new releases start to flood the market. 2010 was no exception as I missed more than a few notable Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums. The following is a list of albums I missed in 2010 that I picked up in 2011…..some of the albums I just didn’t buy until 2011, some I bought but never got around to listening to and some I just forgot about! As many of you collectors know, if you acquire a lot of albums, they tend to pile up, and my pile kept growing! The more the pile grows, the more albums get pushed to the bottom of the pile. With all the submissions coming in and all the albums out there to buy, things can get lost in the shuffle quick. The following list of albums are CDs that were either in a pile on my desk waiting to be listened to but I never had the opportunity to listen to or albums I picked up at some point in 2011.

Airbourne – No Guts, No Glory (Special Edition) (2010): I was a huge supporter of Airbourne when Runnin’ Wild came out in 2007 and I thought they were a breath of fresh air playing simple barroom boogie Hard Rock like their countrymen AC/DC. Airbourne impressed and I looked forward to a follow-up. When NO GUTS, NO GLORY was released I had every intention of buying it but then I found out there were multiple versions: the regular 13 song CD, the Japanese pressing with 4 bonus tracks, this special edition with 5 bonus tracks and another pressing that included the 18 song special edition and a bonus live DVD. Overwhelmed with the choices, and the various prices, I waited until I found the special edition with all the bonus tracks (no DVD) at a decent price. By the time I ordered it on Ebay and it was delivered it was already July, close to 5 months after it’s release, and my pile of 2010 albums was already large.

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony (2010) and Angel Of Babylon (2010): Just like the Airbourne album, I had to shop around to get these two albums. Both of these new Avantasia records were released in Europe before the U.S. so I had the choice of buying each CD separately as an import, buy the special edition that had both albums in digipaks with an expanded booklet for a lower price or wait for the inevitable U.S. release. I opted for the special edition on Ebay and spent about the same money I would have if I’d waited for the U.S. releases. WICKED and ANGEL are parts 2 and 3 of The Wicked Trilogy (part 1 is 2007′s THE SCARECROW, my favorite album of 2008) and I wanted to hear these so bad but by the time I bought these in May 2010 and they got into the pile, they ended up getting lost in the shuffle. These two albums are so good I have no reservations that they would have made my 2010 Year End Awards had I gotten around to listen to them.

Dream Evil – In The Night (2010): I’ve been a fan of Dream Evil since DRAGONSLAYER (2002) so this new record was on my radar when it was announced in early 2010. Here’s another case of my collector’s disease running wild because I wouldn’t settle for the regular CD version in the record store, I needed the limited edition digibook with the two bonus tracks and patch. That meant searching online, ordering on ebay, waiting for it to arrive and slotting it in my “neatly” ordered pile on my desk. I did get to listen to the album here and there but I didn’t give it enough proper spins to actually come to any conclusion about it’s merits. Of course, I took the time to give it a fair listen this year but too late to qualify for any of 2010′s awards.

Helloween – 7 Sinners (2010): Talk about missing a major album! I’ve listened to 7 SINNERS this past year and I’m kicking myself for not giving it proper time in 2010 because this would have easily made my 2010 Year End Awards! The problem here was that I was lucky enough to receive a promotional copy from the record label/PR people but that’s a completely separate pile. With all the CDs coming in from bands, labels and PR firms, not to mention the daily emails with promotional downloads…..I got overwhelmed by the sheer volume of music at my fingertips. Helloween has always been one of my favorite bands, and I have really enjoyed their last few albums, but they got lost in the shuffle of promos and it was definitely my loss last year.

Holy Grail – Crisis In Utopia (2010): I picked this up at the beginning of the year when I was burning all of my Xmas gift cards but this ended up getting lost in the shuffle with all the 2011 releases coming out early and often. I did spin this for awhile this past year and it’s a really good Power Metal record from another solid new band…..the lineage here is that Holy Grail is an off-shoot of White Wizzard (one of my favorite new bands) s0 this was going to get more interest albeit late interest. I’m not sure if this would have made any of my year end lists but it was definitely a solid album and I’m looking forward to hearing more from Holy Grail in the future.

Issa – Sign Of Angels (2010): I ended up accidently deleting the digital promo I received from Frontiers Records after one spin but that was enough to put Issa on the want list. I ended up waiting to buy SIGN OF ANGELS because of the high import price at the local record shop, buying online would have cost more with shipping. Plus I had the digital promo but once it deleted, I had to have it. Really solid Hard Rock with a Pop sensibility, the songs are melodic and catchy and Issa has a great voice with looks to match! Compared to other bands on this list, this album is almost a little out of place but it was a really good break from the harder side of Metal. Actually, if this album was released 20 years ago, it would have easily charted and sold…..definitely an album I should have explored more when it first came out.

Lillian Axe – Deep Red Shadows (2010): I have no idea what my problem is with new albums from Lillian Axe but I buy them and I never get around to them! The same thing happened with the last two Lillian Axe releases…..I buy them immeadiately, give them an initial play and they get put in the pile only to be lost for months. DEEP RED SHADOWS was another casualty of the ever growing pile of CDs on my desk and I actually feel kind of bad about it because I’ve listened to more classic Lillian Axe than I have the new stuff and the new stuff is really great! There’s another new album coming in 2012 and I swear that this time I’m not going to make this band a pile casualty.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Relentless (2010): RELENTLESS is the second Yngwie album in a row that was released late in the year and ended up getting no airplay until the new year. Is there a reason why Yngwie has to do this to me? The same thing happened when PERPETUAL FLAME came out late in 2008 and I totally missed it! RELENTLESS is the second album in a row where Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens offers his talented pipes to Yngwie’s guitar arsenal and it’s another great match, one I hope Yngwie keeps for more new records. I was able to listen to this over the course of this year and it’s one of the better Malmsteen albums of recent years, definitely a record that would have made some noise on my 2010 lists.

Y&T – Facemelter (2010): Another pile casualty! I picked up FACEMELTER a few weeks after it came out because the prices online were too steep for this Frontiers release and my local record store didn’t have it stoced. I found it in stock at another store about an hour from my home and I decided I couldn’t pass it up when i found it. I gave the album one listen and piled it. I have to get a lot more spins in because Y&T is scheduled to play a show in Rhode Island in early March 2012 and I want to know some of the new tunes to go along with all those Y&T classics!

CD Scavenger Hunt (December update) — The Final Hunt of 2011

2011 is almost over and it’s been a good year for buying music. There have been so many new albums, so many reissues and so many discovered treasures that it’s been hard to keep up! Actually, I didn’t keep up…..I have literally hundreds of albums on my desk and in boxes next to it that I either bought or were sent in by bands, add in all the digital promos that were emailed in and it was another HUGE year! There is just no possible way that I can listen to every album that crosses my desk but I do make a point to give every CD I buy a listen. I’ve bought a lot this year but not nearly s much as I have in previous years. I still made purchases through online stores, band websites, Ebay, private sales and…..my favorite…..the record stores but the amount of digital and physical promos that have been submitted made up the difference and made my want list even longer. Even though I’m lucky to receive these promos, I still like to have the physical product, especially of the bands I love so I had a lot to add to my want list. Remember, record stores are a dying breed and more and more are closing every year, especially the mom & pop stores that care about the music and the customer…..go out and support them!

December is always my slowest month of the year because the holidays are right around the corner and the hard earned cash has to be spent on more important things…..like presents and holiday dinners and, well, more presents! This is also the time of year when not much comes out because most of the new albums have already been released and it’s time for labels and stores to focus on greatest hits packages. The problem is that there are ALWAYS great sales this time of year and I was able to catch a really great one this time.

So here it is, the final update of 2011…..make sure you check out my final totals and analysis at the bottom…..

Newbury Comics

I’m a regular at Newbury Comics but I’m a rabid regular when there’s a can’t miss sale! The weekend of December 9 thru December 11 was a massive sale — Buy 1 Used CD, Get 1 For $1 (Limit 5). Now I’m not passing up the chance to pad my collection with a lot of catalog releases and older titles with that kind of sale so I made the trip to my two regular Newbury Comics locations (North Attleboro, MA and Warwick, RI) over the weekend to grab as many used CDs as I could. North Attleboro was first on my list for Friday because it’s less than 10 minutes from my house, Warwick was a special trip 20 minutes away with the family so I could use them to help make purchases…..remember, limit 5 per customer! When a sale like this happens, the usual protocol is you get the lower priced CDs as the $1 ones, not this time! This time around the store gave you the CD closest to the price of the used CD you bought for $1 (example: $7.99 used CD & a $7.99 used CD for $1). That saves even more money! There were also a few new releases I grabbed as well but I will list those at the end, first is the used treasures…..

Bang Camaro – s/t (2007) – $6 used: The whole Bang Camaro concept fascinates me, any band with a dozen or so singers will do that! Add that Bang Camaro is a New England band (based out of Boston) and I want to add it to the collection because they’re a local band. I’ve been watching this CD for a while, just like I did with the band’s second album, because the price was way too high. A sale like this is clearance time for the record store so there were two copies in the racks but one was $1 higher than this one. Taking a look online, this debut CD usually sells for around $10 at most retail/auction sites so I saved $4.

Bon Jovi – Lost Highway (2007) – $1 used: I’m not the biggest Bon Jovi fan anymore but I was back in the day from the debut album through NEW JERSEY but I do like some of their singles. Never bothered to buy this when it came out because I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money to be ultimately disappointed (see THE CIRCLE) but I will buy it for $1! I like the title track and ‘One Step Closer’ but this was more of a bargain deal for the completist in me. This CD was marked as used but it’s really new and sealed, the reason why it was in the used bin was because the case is broken in multiple spots and there were plenty of new copies for $15 each. The used price on this CD was $4 so I saved $3 with the sale…..ultimately saving $14 compared to the regular price.

Lou Reed & Metallica – LuLu (2011) – $10 used: I know, I know…..I should have known this album would suck but DEATH MAGNETIC gave me hope for Metallica and just how bad could the album be? I’m not going to go into a review here but I was still intrigued. Again, chalk this up to being a completist and wanting to keep the Metallica collection complete. There was no way I was going to buy this brand new especially at the $18 regular price or the $15 sale price…..$10 I can live with if I’m getting a comparably priced CD for $1. I took the chance and bought this for the $10 and saved $8 off the regular price.

Rainbow – On Stage (1977) – $1 used: Here’s a great deal because the regular price for ON STAGE is $10 and the used price was $9…..paying $1 to fill a hole in the Rainbow collection works for me! This version of ON STAGE is actually the 1997 remaster and not the original pressing but that doesn’t matter because it’s Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio live…..on stage! Buying this paired with Loutallica makes up for the wasted money on LULU because I saved a total of $9 off the regular price and I’m a huge Dio and Rainbow fan.

The Elves – And Before Elf…..There Were Elves (2011) – $8 used: I was pretty psyched to find this in the used section because this was just released by Niji Entertainment (Wendy Dio’s company) in November. I have the debut Elf record but this is Ronnie James Dio’s work before that album so it’s definitely an interesting release for me because I’m such a big Dio fan. I was going to buy this brand new anyway because the sale price of $10 was still in effect on the new copies that were in stock but I’ll take the used bargain any day! Regular price for this CD is $15, sale price was $10, so I saved $7 buying it used.

The Doors – s/t (40th Anniversary Edition) (1967/2007) – $1 used: It’s almost sacreligious to say that I never picked up The Doors’ debut album. One of the reasons why I never bought it is because the majority of the album’s tracks are on the box set and the greatest hits double disc I own already. The album has been on the want list but I’ve just never got around to it. This 40th Anniversary edition is your basic remaster with three bonus tracks: two versions of ‘Moonlight Drive’ (which eventually appeared on the second album STRANGE DAYS in 1967) and the original vocal recording of ‘Indian Summer’ (eventually released on MORRISON HOTEL in 1970). Regular price is $15, used price was $8 so I saved $7 pairing this with The Elves.

Glenn Hughes – Feel (1995) – $8 used: I love Glenn Hughes, he’s one of the best singers ever (dubbed “The Voice of Rock”) and his work with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Black Country Communion and his solo career is excellent. I’ve been watching FEEL for two years at the North Attleboro location and I’ve always passed it up because there were always two used copies at the same price and they have never been moved or bought. There have been lots of used CD sales in that two year span but the two copies of FEEL were always filed in the Rock section under Misc. ‘H’. That was until this sale! When I was trolling the used racks, I saw this CD…..it’s been moved! I went to the usual ‘H’ section and the other used copy wan’t there! That means I had to buy for fear that I’d never get another chance at it. I’ve never seen another copy of FEEL in any record store ever so this $8 purchase was mandatory. Turns out this copy is a Japanese import on the Zero label and the Japanese lyric sheet is included, just not the OBI strip. I checked online and the average for a Japanese import of FEEL goes for an average of $20 so I saved $8 buying it used.

System Of A Down – s/t (1998) – $1 used: I saw System Of A Down on Ozzfest 1998 on the 2nd stage and I instantly liked the band because their sound and look was so different….I went out the next day and bought this album. This was before the band broke big here in the U.S. and no one really new them. Fast forward a few years and SOAD is one of the top Metal bands (getting lumped into the Nu-Metal category) and my wife was pregnant and I was laid off for almost 4 months…..I started to sell off some CDs that I could live without to make some extra cash and I sold this CD for around $10 to a friend. I always wanted to pick this CD back up but I never got around to it because there was never a used copy available. This is the original pressing and there were a few copies for $10 each brand new but this used copy was only $6…..paired with Glenn Hughes, I saved $5.

Spinal Tap – This Is Spinal Tap soundtrack (1984) – $6 used: I love the cover of this album because it’s “none more black”. This is the original pressing of the soundtrack to the Spinal Tap movie, not the remaster, and the black album cover is the edited album cover for SMELL THE GLOVE, the album Spinal Tap was releasing and touring in the movie. Anyway, all the big hits are here and I always wanted to get the original pressing with the original mix. Can’t beat $6 used especially when my research shows a new copy of either the original or reissue pressing goes for $10…..saved $4.

Deep Purple – The Battle Rages On… (1993) – $1 used: Chalk this purchase up to me getting a solid portion of my collection on my Collectorz.com Music Collector software and having it on my cell phone. For years I’ve passed up multiple used copies of the Deep Purple CD because I thought I owned it, when I was inputting the ‘D’ section of my collection, I thought I misplaced it! Turns out I never owned it! Saw this disc in the used bin, checked the collection on my phone, and snatched it up right away. I haven’t seen a regular priced copy of THE BATTLE RAGES ON in at least 15 years so I checked online and the usual price is around $10. The used price was $6 and pairing it with Spinal Tap saved me $9 off the possible regular price.

Tattoo Rodeo – Rode Hard, Put Away Wet (1991) – $4 used: When you are a bargain hunter like myself, you pick up CDs by bands that you only know by name recognition. I remember the name Tattoo Rodeo but I’ve never heard the music or really followed up on what the band was about. I grabbed this album at it’s cheap $4 price and was happy to have it. Upon further research after the purchase, it turns out that this is a band made up of former White Sister members playing a Southern Hard Rock style. $4 isn’t a bad price to pay for a 1991 album that’s more than likely an ’80s Hard Rock album (let’s face it, that ’80s sound went as far as 1994 in some cases!). Some Ebay research shows that you can get this on average of $10 so I think I saved $6.

The Darkness – One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back (2005) – $1 used: I was a big fan of The Darkness when the debuted in 2003 with PERMISSION TO LAND but I never got around to buying this album…..until now. I’ve been watching this $4 used copy of ONE WAY TICKET TO HELL…AND BACK for months, maybe even years, and the excuse has always been that “it’s always there”. When the CD isn’t there, another pops up within a couple of weeks…..maybe it’s the same CD? Either way, I figured it was time to drop the money down, especially with this sale and the reuniting of The Darkness for a new album and tour. Regular price for this CD is around $10 but pairing this with Tattoo Rodeo made the price go from $4used to $1 used. Can’t beat saving around $9.

Alice Cooper – The Alice Cooper Show (1977) – $5 used: There are too many holes in the Alice Cooper collection so I’m on a mission to buy all the missing albums as soon as possible. Good news on this sale, there were a couple Alice CDs in the used bins that I didn’t own, this live album being one of them. Thank god for the Collectorz.com Music Collector software because I was able to check my collection on my phone and see what was in the Alice collection at home (I’m still in the middle of the ‘D’ section). This was an easy purchase and at $5 used t was a great bargain. There was a copy of this CD in the regular Alice Cooper section for $10 so I easily saved $5 buying used.

Lullacry – Crucify My Heart (2003) – $1 used: Here’s another band that I remembered the name of but never got around to buying. Actually, the difference this time is that I’ve heard a few songs. I compare Lullacry’s female-fronted Gothic Metal to The Gathering, Epica and After Forever so it’s a style that I like so it’s a good purchase rather than a risk. CRUCIFY MY HEART the third Lullacry album but the first to feature Tanja Lainio on lead vocals. This CD goes for around $10 in most place so the $4 used price was good to begin with but pairing this CD with Alice Cooper made the final price $1. I easily saved $9 on a band I’ve been wanting to try out for a few years and I can get an idea of  what they are about before I drop a sale price on the new album that’s coming in early 2012.

Giant – III (2001) – $10 used: This CD equals the Metallica – LuLu CD as the highest I paid this month for a used CD. Why so much for Giant’s third studio album (fourth overall if you count the live record)? Not sure. This album is 11 years old and Giant wasn’t that popular back in the day. Sure, they had a hit with the ballad ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ but that was back in 1989…..there hasn’t been much on the Giant front in the 20+ years since (4 studio albums & 2 live for a career) but Giant still remain a favorite in Melodic Rock circles. I’ve never seen III in a record store since 2001, I checked online and it still gets $15 in most places so I considered buying it. Other factors: recognized the band name, own other Giant albums, it’s on Frontiers Records (one of the best labels out there!) and it was shiny and practically brand new. One note after getting this disc home, turns ou it’s a promo copy that says “promotional, not for re-sale”. I pulled the trigger and saved around $5 but that allowed me to pair another high priced used CD to it…..

Angel – s/t (1975) – $1 used: Treasure of the month! This is an original pressing of Angel’s debut album and it is hard to find. I’ve only seen one other copy that was an original pressing and that was at least 15 years ago and it was a lot of money then. Angel is one of those ’70s Hard Rock bands that everyone forgets (like Starz) because they shared a label and management with a bigger ’70s Hard rock band…..KISS! But the Angel sound, the albums, the stage show…..it’s all good stuff! There have been a couple of Japanese reissues but not any in the U.S., even those Japanese reissues and the original Japanese pressings of ALL Angel albums go for big dollars on Ebay. This was the first album I found in the used bin and it was getting bought no matter what at $9 used but pairing it with the Giant album made it a $1 used CD. I did some research online and previous data on the original pressings (both U.S. and Japanese) from the last decade show that this CD can go as high as $100+ but, with the subsequent Japanese reissues, the price drops to normal import retail of around $25 (without shipping). The problem is that there aren’t that many copies out there on the market for sale. I’m going to put a $15 regular price on this and count it as a $14 savings.

Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper Goes To Hell (1976) – $4 used: This is the second Alice Cooper album I found in the used bins and the second hole filled in the Alice collection. This was slotted right with THE ALICE COOPER SHOW so when I checked my collection on my phone, I knew that I definitely didn’t already own it. The only concern here is that I noticed that some Alice albums have been re-released as part of a “budget series” and they have a slightly altered front cover. I took this used CD over to the regular Alice Cooper section and compared it to the re-release, I checked the catalog # online also, and this turned out to be an original CD pressing. Original pressings of this record run about $9 online (the re-release in the store was $8) so I figure  saved $5 overall and filled a much needed hole on the Alice Cooper want list.

D.A.D. – Riskin’ It All (1992) – $1 used: I remember D.A.D. (Disneyland After Dark) from back in the day because of the single ‘Sleeping My Day Away’ from their fourth album, NO FUEL LEFT FOR PILGRIMS (1989). I don’t have any other D.A.D. albums (again, checking the collection on my phone!) so it was a nice pickup to go along with Alice, especially for only $1. I would have even paid the original used price of $4. This was also a name recognition thing because I remember the big controversy when the band got some success from ‘Sleeping My Day Away’ and the Disney corporation came calling on the band to change their name. If you ever find a CD, cassette or vinyl copy of D.A.D.’s first four albums with the original Disneyland After Dark band name, buy it immeadiately because it’s a collector’s item. This CD averages $8 online so I saved $7. one last cool note about this CD purchase, there’s a price tag on the actual jewel case from some mom & pop record store (can’t make out the name) from February 1999 and the price was $7.95.

Bon Jovi – Have A Nice Day (2005) – $4 used: I must be getting sympathetic in my old age because I have not had the patience for any Bon Jovi album since CRUSH (2000). That album was solid and the concert was good…..until the encore of covers and I soured on Bon Jovi quick. The last Bon Jovi album I bought before the latest album, THE CIRCLE (2009), was released was 2002′s BOUNCE…..I’ve bought nothing in between. There are some catchy tunes that I’ve heard on the radio, on the music that’s played at work and at the concert I saw on The Circle Tour and that made me pick this up……that and the low $4 used price! I like the title track and ‘Who Says You Can’t Go Home’ so maybe I’ll give this a spin and there will be other songs I’ll like. Regular price still hovers around $14 in store so I saved $10 and filled a hole in the Bon Jovi collection.

Ted Nugent – Spirit Of The Wild (1995) – $1 used: I’ve been a fan of Terrible Ted since I saw him open for Aerosmith on the Done With Mirrors tour in 1986 and realized the same guy singing ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ was the same guy from the ‘Little Miss Dangerous’ video and the Miami Vice episode! Something about the way Ted started his set by jumping over the drums, rolling on the floor and screaming into the mic (blowing out my eardrums!) will always be my first live concert memory and it was awesome! The weird thing is that save for a couple recent studio albums and a generic greatest hits collection, I don’t own much Ted…..oops, forgot LITTLE MISS DANGEROUS (1986), I own that too. There are some massive holes that need to be filled in the Ted collection so this is the first, and not the last Nuge disc, I bought this month with this sale. SPIRIT OF THE WILD usually runs around $10 if you find it new so I saved $9 pairing it with Bon Jovi.

Queen – Hot Space (1981) – $10 used: It’s about damn time! I’ve been searching and searching for HOT SPACE for years and I finally found a copy of the 1991 reissue series with the bonus track that completes the Quuen collection. When Queen announced they were re-releasing all the Queen albums again starting in late 2010, I knew someone somewhere would part with this CD to get the fresher version. I could have easily bought the new reissue of HOT SPACE but I decided that I wasn’t going to buy the entire new set of reissues and I didn’t want to “break the set”. It was a matter of time, a waiting game that’s lasted a while since I first posted a WANTED feature on HOT SPACE. Now the Queen studio collection is complete and I need to grab a couple live albums to make the entire Queen collection complete! The new HOT SPACE runs around $18 and there were a few copies to be had, this 1991 pressing goes for around $10 on Ebay if it becomes available. Going with the Ebay price, I broke even but I was able to get another much needed album by pairing it up…..

Motorhead – Motorizer (2008) - $1 used: Finally, another album I’ve been wanting to buy and fill a hole in a band’s collection. Technically, I already own MOTORIZER, the record label (SPV) sent me a promo copy back in 2008 so i could review the album. I like getting promos to review and I got this album a couple months before it was released so I never picked up when it came out because I new the music already and it was uploaded to my iPod. It’s always bothered me that I never had the actual release with the booklet and artwork, all I owned was a cardboard sleeve and the promo disc. This sale changed that! For $1, I was able to pick up a practically new copy for my collection at a great used price. Now that promo copy becomes a conversation piece and/or a collector’s item. Regular price for this CD is $15 everywhere, used price was $10, so I saved $14 pairing it with Queen.

Ted Nugent – Free-For-All (1976) – $8 used: This is technically a used CD because it’s labelled that way but it’s technically a brand new CD because it was still in the original shrinkwrap, the problem was a really broken jewel case and a few copies of this album at the regular $12 price. This is the remastered version from 1999 that contains three bonus tracks. I’m not a fanatic about original pressings but I do like to acquire them and make note of them in this column, buying a remastered Ted record at a good price is fine with me, especially since the original pressing CDs are hard to come by. Another hole filled in the classic Nuge collection (and there’s a couple more coming!) at a great price…..saved $4.

Motorhead – 1916 (1991) – $1 used: Another hole filled in the Motorhead collection! I haven’t seen a copy of 1916 in a long time and this album didn’t get the deluxe reissue treatment like the previous studio albums did. I had this on the radar not only because it was a glaring omission in the collection but because the young metalhead son of my best friend came to the house specifically to get the song ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S.’ and I didn’t have the studio version! I felt like an incomplete collector and bad Metal mentor! The quest was on, took a month, found it nice and used during a great sale. The regular price on this varies but it’s usually $10 on Ebay, the used price was $7 but it was really $1 by pairing it with the Motor City Madman…..saved $9 off regular price.

Ted Nugent – Great Gonzos! The Best Of Ted Nugent (1981) – $6 used: This gonzo greatest hits package was orginally released in 1981 but the copy I found in the used bin was the 1999 remaster three bonus tracks, one being a brand new studio recording, ‘Give Me Just A Little’. What’s exciting about this studio bonus track is that it’s co-written by Ted’s Damn Yankees bandmates Jack Blades (Night Ranger) & Tommy Shaw (Styx) along with Neal Schon (Journey). In 1999, there was talk of a Damn Yankees reunion and album but it never got off the ground, maybe this is one of those songs? I knew that there was a new copy of GREAT GONZOS in the regular Ted Nugent section so I took this over and the same 1999 remaster at regular price was $13. Buying used saved me $7 and filled another hole in the Ted collection.

Ted Nugent – Cat Scratch Fever (1977) – $1 used: Add another CD into the Ted Nugent collection! This time it’s the classic CAT SCRATCH FEVER record and it’s another from the 1999 remaster series. This is the classic Nugent album, the one everyone knows because of the classic title track but I’ve heard the album before and it’s solid all around. There are two bonus tracks on this pressing: live versions of the title track and one of my favorites, ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’. Again, I checked this used copy alongside it’s regular priced counterpart and there was a significant savings. Regular price was $13 and the used price was $6, I’m already saving more than half buying used…..pairing this with GREAT GONZOS! made it $1 used for a $12 savings.

Ted Nugent – Weekend Warriors (1978) – $4 used: I told you I didn’t have many Ted albums in my collection! WEEKEND WARRIORS is another much needed album in the Ted Nugent collection that I bought on a great sale. This time around, this is the original pressing and NOT a 1999 remaster. I’m actually kind of disappointed that it wasn’t a remaster because all the other Ted CDs I bought were, I’m a sucker for bonus tracks and now I wonder if there are good ones on this album’s remaster. Anyway, WEEKEND WARRIORS usually sells for around $9 on Ebay whether it’s the original or reissue so buying it used saved me $5 off the regular price.

 

Now there really should be a $1 used CD attached to WEEKEND WARRIORS but I had a problem with three other CDs I picked up during this sale. I bought Ted Nugent - Craveman (2002), The Quireboys – This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll (2001) and Giant – Last Of The Runaways (1989) all for cheap dollars…..problem was that I owned them already. This is why I need to continue adding CDs to my Collectorz software, so this doesn’t happen again. I returned all three to the store almost immeadiately and I received my $6 back. The Ted Nugent and Quireboys CDs were linked together and the Giant CD would have gone with WEEKEND WARRIORS.

Now on to the new CDs…..

Mass – New Birth (Anniversary Edition) (1985/2011) – $13: I’ve been big into Mass since they released their last album, SEA OF BLACK (2010), and since I saw them open for Mr. Big last summer. Mass is a great local band (from Massachusetts) and they’ve been around since the early ’80s. NEW BIRTH originally came out in 1985 and it was re-released by Retrospect Records a few years ago. This time around NEW BIRTH gets the re-release treatment for it’s 25th anniversary on Retroactive Records, a label specializing in Chrisitan Metal with two other Mass re-releases to their credit. I’m riding high on Mass right now and I’m looking to fill up that part of my collection so I figured I’d start with this album, especially when I saw it was listed on the Newbury Comics weekly e-newsletter. I also knew I had to get there on time the Tuesday of release because there would only be a couple of copies in stock. To my surprise there were at least 10 copies available (remember, Mass is a local act) so I was able to secure this CD at a decent regular price.

Rock Goddess – Hell Hath No Fury (1984/2008 reissue) – $6: This is a score! Back in 1984, I used to cut pctures out of Hit Parader and Circus magazines and plaster them all over my bedroom walls and I used to have this picture of Rock Goddess (along with a picture of Girlschool) hanging next to a poster of Vince Neil. I never did pickup this album back in the day but I did manage to acquire it on cassette in the late ’90s when I bought a huge box of cassettes at a local mom & pop record shop for a bulk price. I’ve never seen a HELL HATH NO FURY CD in person but I do know there have been various reissues on Ebay, some of which I’m sure were bootlegs. I decided that $6 regular price wasn’t bad for a recent reissue on a label I knew….Rennaissance Records.

Scorpions – Comeblack (2011) – $15: I’ve been dying to know what this album sounds like for the last couple of months. Reviews have been hit or miss and the concept also seems hit or miss: 7 re-recorded songs and 6 covers. I’m not big on cover songs but I wouldn’t mind hearing what the Scorpions’ interpretation of their big ’80s hits would sound like in 2011. The Scorpions have been a big band in my Metal life and they are currently coming to the end of their career, at this point I’m soaking up as much Scorpions as I can! COMEBLACK (bad title!) was released everywhere except the U.S. in the Fall of 2011 so I’ve been debating this purchase for a while. I finally decided to snag it when I noticed one copy left out of the five that I’d seen for weeks. Of course, about a month after I buy it at $15, COMEBLACK gets a proper U.S. release and a nifty sale price of $10!

Autograph – The Anthology (2011) – $16: This was an expensive purchase for a band that never really made it back in the ’80s save for a couple of songs — ‘Turn Up The Radio’ and ‘Blondes In Black Cars’. I love Autograph though and I have all their albums and I enjoy them. When I saw the title of this CD, I figured that this was going to be a greatest hits style package from all four of the band’s studio albums and I didn’t need another compilation of tracks I already had! I did some research and it seems that this is a double disc release of demos, b-sides and unreleased songs…..the problem is that Autograph already had that with 1997′s MISSING PIECES and 2003′s MORE MISSING PIECES, which was the original MISSING PIECES with 7 more demo/unreleased tracks. I already own MISSING PIECES, and MORE MISSING PIECES is rare and hard to find, so I figured I’d pick this up if there was “missing pieces” to the Autograph catalog. My research shows that Disc 1 is the MORE MISSING PIECES release but with two different songs replacing two from the original 2003 release. The second disc is 12 tracks that were unreleased from the sessions for the band’s 4th album BUZZ (2003) and beyond. THE ANTHOLOGY is a pretty good archival release so I figured that I’d snag it while I could because there was only one copy up for grabs and Deadline Music is a label that doesn’t always print a bunch of copies of their releases and they go out of print quickly.

Halford – Live At Saitama Super Arena (2011) – $10: I already picked up the live DVD a few weeks prior but the actual live CD was delayed. Not sure why but it was definitely an inconvenience. Maybe it’s more of a business thing to get extra money? All I know is that there have been a lot of live CD & DVD packages coming out the last few years for around $20 and it’s just easier to get it all in one set rather than have to buy it separately. A small complaint I guess because this is the same setlist as the DVD just in audio form. I’m a huge Rob Halford fan whether it’s with Judas Priest or solo so i was buying this anyway but I just prefer to have it as a set with both formats together. For some reason, this is bothering me way more than it should! At least I got  a decent sale price and saved $4 off the $14 regular price.

Riot – Immortal Soul (2011) – $12: I’ve been looking forward to hearing IMMORTAL SOUL ever since Mark Reale announced that the classic THUNDERSTEEL era lineup would be touring and recording. I’ve been a huge Riot fan since the late ’90s when i re-discovered the band through the re-releases of FIRE DOWN UNDER (1981) and RESTLESS BREED (1982) on the High Vaultage label from GERMANY. Since then I’ve collected all the Riot albums I can with only a couple ommission and I’ve blasted the music as loud as I can! The last few Riot studio albums since the late ’90s have been solid Metal records so I expect nothing less from IMMORTAL SOUL. Good to see about a half dozen copies in the new release rack for sale AND good to see another metalhead buying a copy at the same time I was! Regular price is a whopping $17 but the sale price was $12 on the day of release so I saved $5.

Royal Hunt – Show Me How To Live (2011) – $13: Another band I discovered in the late ’90s, Royal Hunt has become one of my favorite bands of the last 15 years. Unfortunately, by the time I discovered them in late 1997/early 1998, their singer D.C. Cooper had left the band to pursue a solo career. D.C. Cooper’s vocals are awesome, he was in the running for the vacant Judas Priest gig back in the mid-’90s, and I always thought that there ws something missing from subsequent Royal Hunt albums. Don’t get me wrong, John West and Mark Boals were great replacements but I just dig D.C. Cooper. Well now he’s back in the band and this is the first studio album back and it has proper distribution through Frontiers Records. I still haven’t picked up the band’s last record, X (2010), and there are a few holes in the Royal Hunt collection so I’m hoping that SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE is really good and gets me on a serious Royal Hunt kick. Regular price is another big $17 but most Frontiers releases are that price because they are imports…..the $13 sale price helped save me $4.

White Wizzard – Flying Tigers (2011) – $10: An easy purchase here because White Wizzard have become one of my favorite new Traditional Heavy Metal bands of the last few years due to their old school, NWOBHM style. I didn’t even know that White Wizzard had a new record coming out until I noticed it in the e-newsletter sale section, that just goes to show that I haven’t been paying much attention to all things Metal for the last year or so! Regular price for this CD is $16, a little high for an Earache Records release because they have normal U.S. distribution, but the sale price was $10 the day of release so I ended up saving $6.

 

Final Stats for 2011

Total (December) = $212

Total (year) = $1145

Average Price (per item) = $8.06

Total Savings (December) = $214

Total Savings (year) = $1050

Total CDs (year) = 134

Total DVDs (year) = 7

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

Just a quick analysis…..

I bought 36 fewer items compared with 2010 (142 to 168) and I also spent a lot less compared to 2010 ($1145 to $1820). This year was the first year I decided to track an estimation of how much I saved buying used and on sale and I was able to save almost as much money as I spent with a difference between the two of $95.

Heavy Metal Addiction 2011 Awards Week

2011 is almost over so that means it’s time for my year end awards! It’s been another awesome year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal with so many releases on CD, DVD, Vinyl and Digital formats, not just new studio albums but also live records, reissues and special edition releases. I have had more albums submitted for review this year from bands, labels and PR agents as digital promos have taken over as the easiest way to get the word out as quickly as possible and I have done my part as a consumer and purchased plenty of new and old albums & DVDs from record stores, Ebay, online vendors and direct from bands and labels. The only problem has been finding the time to do through everything!

With all this music it’s been every hard to keep up so this has been the worst year for posting but I have made a serious push in November and December to listen to as many CDs, and watch as many DVDs, as possible to prepare for my year end lists. I said the same thing at the end of 2010 but 2011 was in fact the worst year for posting at Heavy Metal Addiction. I’m not sure if it was a time thing, or maybe Internet burnout, or possibly just catching up on sleep but I just never got around to posting much. My personal schedule with family, friends and work can be hectic at times and 2011 was a hectic year so there were months without a lot of posts…..actually, the total number of posts BEFORE the year end lists is under 50! From hundreds of posts in 5 years to less than 50 this year! Obviously sitting in front of a computer writing wasn’t something that interested me this year. I did listen to a lot of albums this year but I stayed mainly with albums in my collection even though I have piles on my desk, and in boxes right next it, chock full of CDs and DVDs released in 2011, as well as, albums I missed in 2010. I bought a ton of new releases as they came out and I’ve spent some time listening to them, I just didn’t get around to writing about them.

I haven’t completely abandoned this website as I plan to continue it because there’s a lot to write about and I will try and catch up on as many 2011 reviews as I can in early 2012. I have been re-listening to as many 2011 albums that I can since November so I can post my best and worst of 2011 lists, I will post those picks along with my top 5 DVD picks, albums I missed in 2010 that could have made my best of 2010 list, the last CD Scavenger Hunt of 2011 and the Top Miscellaneous Releases of 2011 that will include any live albums, greatest hits packages, reissues, etc. that were released and need to be mentioned. I’ve got my sights set on 2012 and I expect and even bigger year in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal as I keep checking out new releases and catching up on things I missed from 2011!

Here is the schedule for the 2011 Awards Week:

Saturday 12/24The Final CD Scavenger Hunt of 2011

Sunday 12/25Albums I Missed in 2010

Monday 12/26The Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2011

Tuesday 12/27The Top 5 DVDs of 2011

Wednesday 12/28The 2 Worst Albums of 2011

Thursday 12/29The Top 25 Albums of 2011

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For the last few years, a bunch of us bloggers/writers out there have linked our year end lists together and 2011 continues the tradition. The best thing about these lists is that there is always room for debate and there are always many albums some of us may have missed during the year. Please check out the websites below for more best of/worst of 2011 lists by some excellent writers with a serious passion for music. Some of the websites published their lists earlier in the month, some later and some as a month long daily post so check out the websites’ December 2011 archives for everyone’s picks. There may also be some lists that extend into January 2012 so bookmark these excellent websites and check them out daily for superb Hard Rock and Heavy Metal coverage.

All Metal Resourcehttp://allmetalresource.com/ 

Bring Back Glamhttp://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansionhttp://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideouthttp://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nightshttp://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addictionhttp://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machinehttp://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoeshttp://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rockhttp://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Excesshttp://metalexcess.com/

Metal Odysseyhttp://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effecthttp://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/