Albums I Missed in 2008

There are so many 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. 2008 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 2008, the reason is simple: I was lazy! As many of you collectors know, if you acquire a lot of albums then they tend to pile up, my pile kept growing! The more the pile grows, the more albums that get pushed to the bottom. The following list of albums are CDs that were in a pile on my desk waiting to be listened to but I never got around to giving them a proper spin until the new year. Some of these records might have cracked my Top 30 Albums of 2008 or at least extended it to a Top 20 or 25.

1977 – Rock ‘N Roll (2008): The missing KISS album! 1977 is a tribute/original band that draws their major influences from…..KISS! The songs all sound like vintage KISS circa the mid-1970s but there is a touch of originality with good songwriting and a fresh performance. As I wrote in the album review: “The real KISS hasn’t done anything new since 1998’s PSYCHO CIRCUS so I’m calling this album the next best thing, it just sounds like KISS!” I received this CD straight from the band in late December 2008 and I started listening in January.

Brother Firetribe – Heart Full Of Fire (2008): I have been wanting to check out Brother Firetribe since 2006 when their debut record, FALSE METAL, was getting great reviews across the Internet. I actually bought the album when it came out in June 2008 but it got lost in the pile on my desk. Aside from a quick initial listen, I didn’t even give this album a second thought until this January. That was a big mistake because Brother Firetribe’s AOR/Melodic Rock is top notch with songs full of hooks and melody.

Buckcherry – Black Butterfly (2008): I have been a Buckcherry since I received a promo copy of their debut album back in early 1999, that debut album is still one of my favorites. I bought TIME BOMB (2001) and 15 (2006) when they were released, the latter before ‘Sorry’ and ‘Crazy Bitch’ became hit singles. BLACK BUTTERFLY was a day of release purchase (September 2008) too but I couldn’t get pass the novelty song ‘Too Drunk’. I’m all for a gimmick but I felt Buckcherry was always a solid Hard Rock band so they didn’t need to resort to a song like ‘Too Drunk’ to get people interested. You already had ‘Lit Up’, ‘Porno Star’ and ‘Crazy Bitch’ from previous albums so I thought it was too formulaic. I should have paid attention because I listened to the album a lot in 2009 and the album was even better after I saw the band open for KISS.

Extreme – Saudades de Rock (2008): Always been a big Extreme fan dating back to their self-titled debut back in 1989 so I was looking forward to a new album when it was announced in 2006 after the band’s reunion tour. I bought this back at the end of August 2008 and I still hadn’t taken the shrinkwrap off the CD through October! I gave it a quick listen, liked the updated sound and put the album in my growing pile. I actually forgot I had the CD until I started digging around making my “Best of” and “Worst of” lists last December. I should have kept this album out because it’s really good, no surprise it made a lot of “best of” lists last year.

Grand Magus – Iron Will (2008): talk about missing an album! I blew it with Grand Magus’ IRON WILL record! I read great reviews from June 2008 through December 2008 but I never got around to picking up the album. Then I saw IRON WILL on most of the year end lists online and in print…..I knew I missed it. I picked up IRON WILL back in early February at the local record store and have enjoyed it all year long.

Yngwie Malmsteen – Perpetual Flame (2008): I’ve been buying Yngwie albums since Yngwie was in Steeler so I’ve been a fan for a long time. The problem is I hadn’t been excited about an Yngwie album in over a decade, the last one I looked forward to and really enjoyed was FACING THE ANIMAL (1997). Then I read that Yngwie had enlisted Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens for lead vocal duties…..now it was a whole different ball game! Ripper is a great singer and he has given life to the likes of Judas Priest and Iced Earth when their distinctive singers left the band. The best thing about this album, aside from Ripper on the mic, was that Yngwie played within the songs and not totally over the top. And there were actual songs with good lyrics and melody, not just guitar noodling. Had it since it came out in October 2008 but it remained in the pile until early 2009.

Rose Tattoo – Blood Brothers (Special Tour Edition) (2008): Of all the albums I missed out on in 2008, this was my favorite! BLOOD BROTHERS was originally released in 2007 but I received a promo copy of the special edition in the summer of 2008. Same tracklisting as the original release but with different artwork, packaging and a bonus live DVD of the band’s appearance at Wacken 2006. Always compared to their fellow Aussie countrymen AC/DC, Rose Tattoo has maintained their classic barroom boogie Rock style through the years…..this easily beats out AC/DC’s BLACK ICE on sheer power and force. Is it possible for another band to do AC/DC better than AC/DC? Rose Tattoo are a band not too many people know but they are top notch, BLOOD BROTHERS would have easily cracked my Top 15 in 2008 and ranked higher than BLACK ICE.

Talon – Fallen Angels (2008): I had the Talon debut from 2002 and loved it. When I read about a new Talon album to be released in early 2008, I wrote it down and forgot about it. When all the year end lists came out last December, I made sure to put this at the top of my Want List. I never got around to buying FALLEN ANGELS until the end of November when I went on an Ebay shopping spree and got it for a really great price. I’m not sure why I kept procrastinating on picking this album up because it’s an excellent melodic Hard Rock album that would have easily been all over my daily playlists had I bought it when it originally came out in 2008.

Tesla – Forever More (2008): I saw Tesla open for Def Leppard on 10/12/1987 on the HYSTERIA tour in Providence, RI…..I was 15 years old. Tesla was the hot new band with the hot new single ‘Modern Day Cowboy’ that they opened with. From then on I was a Tesla fan. I didn’t buy FOREVER MORE until a week after it came out in October 2008 and I didn’t even play it, aside from the initial spin, until early 2009. Like the Extreme & Yngwie CDs, it got lost in the growing pile! I couldn’t help but notice this album ranking near the top of many “best of” lists last year so I knew I missed out on a good record.

Venom – Hell (2008): Not a lot of people like Venom…..not a lot of people really know anything about Venom! I grew up with the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) so venom has been burned into my brain sonce 1982! I had no idea that Venom was releasing a new album in 2008 and I read all the Metal news daily so I was surprised to find this as a new release the same day in October 2008 that I bought the Tesla and Yngwie CDs. This had actually come out earlier in August but I completely missed it! A lot of people may not like the crazed and distorted sound Venom prides themselves on but I thought it was a real heavy record.

1977 – Rock ‘N Roll (2008)

1977-rock-n-roll-2008

1977 – Rock ‘N Roll (2008, Play It Again Records, LLC)

  1. Ladies Come First
  2. Love Me Blind
  3. Rock ‘N Roll
  4. Blast Off
  5. Straight To The Heart
  6. Love At first Kiss
  7. Back In The Groove
  8. Gladiator
  9. She Wants It All
  10. Do Ya Know What I Want?

Producers: 1977 & Alexander Coin

Total Time = 33:33

Country: United States

1977 official website
1977 MySpace page
1977 – Rock ‘N Roll available from CD Baby

1977 is a KISS influenced band that takes their love of all things KISS into a whole new dimension. At first glance, I thought this was going to be a tribute album but 1977 have thrown me a curveball, it’s an album of original material that sounds very much like KISS did in 1977.

One look at the LOVE GUN cover art (the people are blacked out) and you can see that the band has made sure every detail is in order from the lettering to the custom logos. Instead of Rock Steady Productions, it’s Stock Ready Productions and instead of Casablanca Records, it’s Play It Again Records both with almost exact logos. Instead of Aucoin Management LLC, it’s Acoin Management LLC…..well, you get the idea! These guys have done a great job putting in the small details of the packaging. Even the CD has special details: it looks like a mini-record complete with a Casablanca Records style label and actual grooves that make it feel like vinyl! Very cool!

As for the music…..it’s all original songs that sound almost like the original KISS at the height of their ’70s Rock ‘n Roll success. The band plays in the same way they original band did: the guitarist has Ace Frehley’s tone down better then Tommy Thayer and the bassist has that thumpy simple bass groove that Gene seemed to use on every song. The vocals sound very close to the original band, especially on the Ace tunes, and the harmonies between the Gene & Paul guys are dead on. The songs are constructed with bits and pieces of different songs from the KISS Katalog with totally different lyrics, maybe a phrase or two come from the original tracks. Listen to ‘Ladies Come First’ and you can hear ‘Love Her All I Can’. Listen to ‘Gladiator’ and you can pick out ‘God Of Thunder’. Try ‘She Wants It All’ and you hear ‘Do You Love Me’. The band takes all the parts of the classic songs, mixes them up and come up with something that sounds very KISS but also unique. It almost sounds like a “lost” KISS album or a bunch of unreleased B-sides. Another fun detail 1977 threw in was the “crackles” and “pops” in between each song that sound just like the old vinyl LPs did back in the day. I had ROCK AND ROLL OVER and all four solo albums on vinyl and I remember all those little “pops” from the needle.

Bottom Line:
So is it a tribute album or original material? It’s both! The songs are familiar like vintage KISS but they have their own musical structure and unique lyrics full of simplicity and innuendo. The real KISS hasn’t done anything new since 1998’s PSYCHO CIRCUS so I’m calling this album the next best thing, it just sounds like KISS! If you’re a KISS diehard, you’ll love it. If you are a casual fan, you might not be able to tell the difference. I hope the guys in 1977 do another album because I’d love to hear them interpret some other years in KISStory because ROCK ‘N ROLL is a really good album.