Posts Tagged ‘Ace Frehley’

February may have been slow but I certainly made up for it in March with some great new releases, some used bargains and more than a few deals on Ebay and Amazon. Get ready, this is a long update!

Newbury Comics

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Krokus – Dirty Dynamite (2013) – $13
Hatriot – Heroes Of Origin (2013) – $9 used
Halcyon Way – Building The Towers (2010) – $6 used
Jeff Scott Soto – Live At Firefest V 2008 (2CD) (2010) – $6 used
Mass – ’84 Unchained (1985/2010 reissue) – $4 used
DC4 – Electric Ministry (2011) – $4 used
Psycho Motel – Welcome To The World (Japanese import) – $2 used

Flotsam & Jetsam – Cuatro (1992) – $3 used
Firewind – Allegiance (2006) – $6 used
Skid Row – Revolutions Per Minute (2006) – $7 used
Witch Mountain – Cauldron Of The Wild (2012) – $9 used
Anthrax – Anthems E.P. (2013) – $7
Adrenaline Mob – Coverta E.P. (2013) – $7
Clutch – Earth Rocker (2013) – $10
Lordi – To Beast Or Not To Beast (2013) – $13
Orden Ogan – To The End (2012) – $14
Rival Sons – Head Down (2012) – $14

Sinergy – To Hell And Back (2002) – $4 used
Ram Jam – Golden Classics (1996) – $4 used
Delain – April Rain (2009) – $6 used
Lost Horizon – A Flame To The Ground Beneath (2003) – $6 used
7th Heaven – Silver (2CD) (2003) – $6 used
Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Dreams Of Fireflies E.P. (2013) – $7
Firewind – Few Against Many (2012) – $8 used

TNT – Tell No Tales (1987) – $10
DeAllen – Deceptions Of Reality (2002) – $6 used
Trivium – The Crusade (2006) – $6 used
Evergrey – Solitude, Dominance, Tragedy (1999) – $4 used
Evergrey – A Night To Remember Live 2004 (2005) – $4 used
Saxon – Sacrifice (Limited Edition) (2013) – $12
Stryper – Second Coming (2013) – $12

Enforcer – Death By Fire (2013) – $13
Sebastian Bach – Abachalypse Now (2CD/DVD) – $16
Iron Maiden – Maiden England ’88 (2CD) (2013) – $20

Iron Maiden – Maiden England ’88 (DVD) (2013) – $15

Like I said…..this is going to be a long update!

The first trip to Newbury Comics in Warwick, RI was your basic run of the mill shopping trip, I was heading there to buy the new Krokus record, Dirty Dynamite. The cool thing about this trip was when I walked into the store, I noticed a new section labelled USED NEW ARRIVALS. I got the Krokus disc and went over to the new bin and found some great deals, the first of which was the new Hatriot album for $9 used. I went back over to the METAL section later and found a brand new copy of the Hatriot CD in the rack for $17, so I saved almost half! Other great buys from the new section: Halcyon Way, Jeff Scott Soto, Mass, DC4 and Psycho Motel. The Psycho Motel was an awesome find for $2 used because it was a Japanese import complete with all inserts and the OBI strip. I had just put the Psycho Motel records on my want list because I never really got into Adrian Smith’s work outside of Iron Maiden and then I find one extremely cheap…..not a bad deal!

My second CD hunt of March was a return to the scene of the previous week’s crime, I had to go back to the Newbury Comics in Warwick because of the great deals in that USED NEW ARRIVALS bin. Unfortunately, that bin had no new Metal in it and it was basically everything I already owned so I had to head over to the Metal section and see if any bargains came in during the week. Sure enough I found used copies of Flotsam & Jetsam’s Cuatro and Firewind’s Allegiance right away but the real gems were the Skid Row and Witch Mountain albums especially since they were both added to my want list within the last couple of weeks. The Skid Row CD was the only one I needed to complete their spot in my collection and I hadn’t seen a copy in the local stores in years but this one was actually sealed but marked used…..even better! I read about Witch Mountain online and sampled some of their songs so I put them on the want list too but I’ve held off because the regular price was between $15 – $17 depending on the store. I found this copy on the hunt for $9 used and saved around $6 compared to the one new copy that was also there. I also picked up some new albums as well from Anthrax, Adrenaline Mob, Clutch, Lordi, Orden Ogan and Rival Sons…..all on sale.

My third and fourth trip out on the hunt were on the same Sunday in March when my family and I headed to the closest Ikea store about an hour away for a bookcase. In the back of my mind, I know that there was a Newbury Comics near the entrance to the Ikea about a quarter mile away so, after the trip to Ikea, I was able to get to the Avon, MA Newbury Comics store and look for treasures. Now Newbury Comics is an independent record store chain in the Massachusetts/Rhode Island area that I’ve shopped at for the last 18 years, they are the closest thing we can get to “mom & pop” record stores in this area. Unfortunately, the Avon Newbury Comics sucks…..no selection at all. You can usually tell how a store is when you walk in and see their inventory size…..when the t-shirts, toys, comics and other paraphernalia has more floor space then the CDs & DVDs, you know you’re in trouble. I found used CDs from Sinergy, Ram Jam, Delain, Lost Horizon, 7th Heaven, and Firewind all for decent prices so there was a few things there but the gem of this rare visit was the latest Trans-Siberian Orchestra E.P. that I blew off when it first came out and I haven’t seen it since.

After the Avon store visit, it was time to head for home but I knew that if I went a certain route, I would drive by the Newbury Comics Norwood, MA store (basically the biggest one they have). I wasn’t going to leave without buying something but I found a few used bargains from TNT, DeAllen, Trivium, and Evergrey but I also decided to buy the latest from Stryper and Saxon (Sacrifice limited 2 disc edition) for $12 each.

The last trip of the month was back to the Warwick location for the new Enforcer, Sebastian Bach and Iron Maiden releases, all of which were new and on sale. Here’s my one complaint: Why do some bands decide to put out live releases with the CDs & DVDs packaged together and some who separately release each format? And a second complaint: Why are double CD live albums more expensive than double DVD live videos? The case for my arguement is Sebastian Bach vs. Iron Maiden. Sebastian Bach’s Abachalypse Now was released around the same time as Maiden England ’88 and it was a very similar package, a 2 CD/DVD package vs. Maiden’s separate 2 CD release and 2 DVD release. Now it’s probably a label thing but why can’t it be packaged together? $16 for Sebastian Bach and $35 for both Iron Maiden releases. It’s more than double for the complete Iron Maiden package! Then you add that the Maiden double CD is $5 more on sale than the Maiden double DVD! It’s just one of those things that bother me but I still spend the money anyway.

Best Buy, Amazon, Ebay and Bandcamp

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KISS – Monster (Exclusive Best Buy edition with 3D cover) (2012) – $12

Saxon – Saxon, Wheels Of Steel, Strong Arm Of The Law, Denim And Leather, Power And The Glory, Crusader, Rock The Nations (2009 remasters with bonus material)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Live (2006 remaster)
Triumph – Live At Sweden Rock (CD/DVD) (2012)
Steel Panther – British Invasion DVD (2013)

(Total Amazon order = $119)

Helix – Back For Another Taste (1990) – $12 used
Killer Dwarfs – Dirty Weapons (1990) – $9 used
Loudness – Lightning Strikes (1986) – $10 used
Return Of The Comet (A Tribute To Ace Frehley) (1997) – $15 used
Corsair – s/t (2013) – $9

Dreamer – Turn It Up (2011) – $10

So we start off the miscellaneous purchases with another version of KISS – Monster, this time from Best Buy with the 3D cover and supposed bonus track. Unfortuately, there is no bonus track on this edition, all the Best Buy CDs are just like the normal version. Bonus tracks were included on the iTunes download of the full album and the Japanese release. I have the regular CD and the Wal-Mart version in the special tour magazine so why not have all the versions? All I need now is the vinyl LP, the picture disc and the Japanese import!

I decided that I wanted to complete my Saxon remasters collection from 2009 and get all those bonus tracks so I put aside a few dollars from my tax refund and I picked up the 7 studio albums I needed to get it done. I also picked up The Eagle Has Landed Live 2006 remaster because they never re-did it in 2009. I also decided to get a couple of items off my Amazon wish list with the Triumph live release and the Steel Panther live DVD. The total came to $119 (less than $12 each item) and the Triumph and Steel Panther releases were priced significantly lower than the advertised sale prices that Newbury Comics had!

Ebay was another great way I picked up some older albums from Helix, Killer Dwarfs and Loudness but the two gems this month were the Ace Frehley tribute album and the latest album from Corsair. I read good things about the Corsair album so I decided to give it a try but I kept passing it over at the record shops because the regular price was $14. When I saw a brand new sealed copy going for $9 plus free shipping, I placed the bid and won the auction. The Return Of The Comet tribute album is one I’ve been searching for since 1997. Unfortunately, I didn’t pick this up when it first came out in 1997 during the KISS reunion hype and I’m not sure why I didn’t pull the trigger, I was devouring anything KISS at that time! I remember seeing it at an old mom & pop store back then but I passed probably figuring I could get it anytime and no one really cared about an Ace Frehley tribute CD. The the label, Shock Records, went under and the CD went out of print and that’s when I had to have it! I’ve been watching Ebay for years but have been unwilling to pay the $40 to $100 I’ve seen it end for. I started watching a certain auction for this CD back in January and it was going for $75 Buy It Now. I watched as the seller relisted the CD four times and lowered the price four times until the disc was $50. That’s when I stepped up and put in a “best offer” of $30…..the seller countered with $47. I waited again for the auction to end and the seller relisted the same CD again but back up to $75! I offered $30 again and was countered $65. Auction ends, no buyers, relist $70. Offer $30 again, auction ends, relist $70 again! finally I just shot the seller a nice email through Ebay saying that he was obviously not selling the item and I had been watching for almost two months and I was willing to buy it for $30 plus $5 shipping. I made the case that the CD wasn’t that rare (you can get it at KISS expos) and that it was way overpriced but I was willing to pay half. Basically the response was a “drop dead” sort of reply. About a couple of days later, a different seller listed a used copy of the same CD with free shipping for $15. It was a 5 day auction, I bid $30 and won it for the listed $15. After I paid via Paypal and secured the deal, I then emailed the first seller direct with a link to the completed auction…..needless to say, that first seller ended up relisting for the umpteenth time but this time at $35…..there are still no buyers! The last purchase was through Bandcamp.com for a local Rhode Island band Dreamer and their latest CD, Turn It Up. I always like to support local music, especially good local Rock music.

Total = $489

Total (year) = $867.50

Average Price (per item) = $9.43

Total CDs (year) = 87

Total BluRays or DVDs (year) = 2

Total Box Sets (year) = 3

KISS – Ace Frehley solo album (1978, Casablanca Records)

  1. Rip It Out
  2. Speedin’ Back To My Baby
  3. Snow Blind
  4. Ozone
  5. What’s On Your Mind?
  6. New York Groove
  7. I’m In Need Of Love
  8. Wiped Out
  9. Fractured Mirror

Musicians:
Ace Frehley – Lead & Background Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar Synthesizer, Bass
Anton Fig – Drums & Percussion
Will Lee – Bass on tracks 4, 7, 8
Carl Tallarico – Drums on track 9
David Lasley & Susan Collins & co. – Background Vocals on tracks 2, 5, 6
Larry Kelly – Background Vocals on track 1
Bill ‘Bear’ Scheniman – Bell on track 9
Bobby McAdams – Power Mouth on track 6

Producers: Eddie Kramer & Ace Frehley

Country: USA

Total Time = 36:38

Ace Frehley
Ace Frehley MySpace page
KISS
KISSFAQ

Ace Frehley has always been my favorite member of KISS. From the time I was a young kid in 1977 when I discovered KISS, straight through to present day, Ace Frehley has always been one of my guitar heroes and one of the reasons KISS is my favorite band. He had that outer world persona, the cool silver, black and blue makeup with matching costume, that made him look more like a superhero than the rest. The focus was always on Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley in magazines and interviews so I always waited for an article featuring Ace but there weren’t as many and this gave Ace an extra aura of mystery to me. Back in the early ’80s when I started to really get into music, I started to look at KISS as more than a superhero, comic, cartoon entity and that of an actual band. I started to collect their albums on cassette, paying close attention to every small detail I could find in newspapers, magazines and record stores about each record. By the time KISS released CREATURES OF THE NIGHT (1982), I had almost every KISS album on cassette except the solo albums and THE ELDER (1981)…..these albums had become scarce due to their cut-out/delete bin status. First on my list…..Ace Frehley.

I remember exactly where & when I bought my Ace Frehley solo album cassette – Good Vibrations in Seekonk, Massachusetts for $7.98 sometime in the Fall of 1982. Every weekend my mom would go to the Seekonk to do food shopping at the area’s first mega-grocery store, Heartland, and it was always packed. This turned into a 2 hour odyssey every weekend so I would go to the Good Vibrations in the same plaza and look at ALL the vinyl, tapes and magazines and that’s how I got my Metal education. Back then I had a want list and all the missing KISS album were at the top…..but on cassette! That store had tons of vinyl (this was before CDs took over) and they had copies of all four solo albums but I needed the cassette and it wasn’t in the “K” section of the cassettes…..until I asked the guy at the counter and he found it under “F” for Frehley! That is something that gets discussed regularly, especially by KISS fans, is it a KISS record or a solo album? Technically it’s a solo record but unified by the band name KISS so I always file my solo albums in my KISS discography. Enough of my collecting rules, on to the album!

As many a young kid my age did back in the day, you listened to the first couple of songs on each side first because you knew they were probably the best songs. Then you hit <<Rewind>> and listened to those first couple of songs again and again until they were etched into your mind. If you knew which songs were the hits, the single, then you could get to the rest of the tape later. I knew from KISS articles in magazines that ‘New York Groove’ was played on the DYNASTY tour so I re-wound Side 2 and listened to that song first…..a lot of the time I would let the tape run into ‘I’m In Need Of Love’. Same thing with Side 1, ‘Rip It Out’ was the official single and I played that over and over, letting the tape run so I knew ‘Speedin’ Back to My Baby’ as well. These four songs were the entire basis for me listening to this album and it wasn’t until months after I bought, maybe even a couple of years actually, until I started to listen to the album as a whole. ‘Rip It Out’ and ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’ sounded like typical KISS songs sung by Ace so I really got into them quick but ‘Snow Blind’ and ‘Ozone’ were songs that I couldn’t get into right away. Both songs seemed weird to me back then and, when I was told by some older metalheads in my neighborhood that the songs were about drugs, I didn’t like them. Remember “Say No To Drugs”? Once I started listening to them I started to like both songs because they were different, spacey, kind of out there just like Ace was. Now these two tracks are  couple of my favorites on the record. Last song on Side 1 is ‘What’s On Your Mind?’ and it is definitely a lost Ace classic that has a really catchy melody and chorus…..it’s one of those songs that gets you singing along right away and it could have easily fit on LOVE GUN (1977) or even DYNASTY (1979) a year later. I think this is one of Ace’s best vocal performances on the album.

Side 2 opens with the DYNASTY tour performed ‘New York Groove’, a song written by Russ Ballard and previously recorded by a British Glam band, Hello, in 1975. Now I didn’t know that this was a cover song back when I bought the album and I have never heard Hello’s version so my long standing rules against cover songs doesn’t apply. I knew this was a song KISS played live, it was the only hit single from any of the solo albums (#13 on the Billboard charts in 1978) and it was a catchy song that instantly stuck in my brain. ‘I’m In Need Of Love’ is a spacey kind of song, similar to ‘Snow Blind’ and ‘Ozone’ with different guitar techniques and sounds. I’ve always liked the song, it has this mid-tempo pace that borders a ballad at some points but the song picks up at the guitar solo…..one of my favorites on the record. The title is a pure KISS type of song title so that was another reason I gravitated to it. Back in the day I didn’t care much for ‘Wiped Out’ or ‘Fractured Mirror’, I always thought that the opening surf-styled guitar riff was corny and I never really cared about instrumentals. Today I’m a huge fan of ‘Fractured Mirror’ but ‘Wiped Out’ is probably my least favorite song on the album. ‘Fractured Mirror’ had turned into one of Ace’s signature moments and he uses it to this day as an intro when he hits the concert stage., I still find ‘Wiped Out’ a little corny but the song takes on that spacey kind of feel like ‘Ozone’ or ‘Snow Blind’.

Bottom Line:
For me, the best solo album is the Ace Frehley solo album, not just because he has always been my favorite member of KISS but because the album is an extension of what Ace had done up to that point in KISS. The songs sound like Ace sung KISS songs but there is a lot of experimentation, a lot of freedom with sound and guitar effects, that could never fit onto a proper KISS album. I like every song on the album, even ‘Wiped Out’, and you can tell that Ace put all his creativity into making the record, I also think that his vocals on this record were more confident and better than anything he had sung with KISS at that point in time. From a personal historical standpoint, this was the album that made me seek out the other three solo albums, in the hopes that they would be just as good, and started me following both Ace’s and Peter Criss’ solo careers. I own the original cassette I had from back in the day and that is an original Casablanca Records pressing, not a Polygram Records reissue…..I also have the first pressing on CD through Polygram and the 1997 remaster. I would like to track down an original pressing vinyl LP with the poster but those go for big bucks online or at conventions.

Favorite Songs:
I like every song on the album but if I had to pick four songs then they would be: ‘Rip It Out’, ‘What’s On Your Mind?’, ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’ & ‘I’m In Need Of Love’

Nothing is better than a concert by one of your favorite bands…..and it’s even better when it’s FREE! I went to the Mohegan Sun Casino Friday night to catch Ace Frehley live in concert at the Wolf Den. For those of you who haven’t been, the Wolf Den is an intimate club that sits right in the heart of the casino surrounded by the sounds of slot machines and gaming tables. The Wolf Den holds about 400 people and it usually brings in some of the better known Hard Rock acts. Earlier in the month, Kix played there and Helix is coming in April! A lot of tribute acts get on that stage and play for the casino patrons as well.

Being a KISS fan, I knew that an Ace Frehley solo show would bring tons of New England KISS fans to the casino so my friend and I got there for 3:30 in the afternoon (showtime was 8pm), had a nice meal at one of the buffets, and got in line around 5pm. As predicted, the KISS Army came out in force. We counted and we were within the first 50 people but the line stretched to over the 400 capacity. The cool thing about the Wolf Den is that it is primarily open so you can see the show from the casino floor, there were people three deep around the arena and many fans took over slot machines close by to take in the show. We had a great table inside, very close to the stage with a perfect view, so I didn’t run down to the front when Ace and the band came on. Ace was joined by Scot Coogan (drums/vocals) and Anthony Esposito (bass/vocals), who both played on his new record, ANOMALY, as well as, new guitarist Todd Youth.

Ace Frehley setlist:

Intro – Fractured Mirror
Rocket Ride
Parasite
Snow Blind
Sister
Pain In The Neck
Into The Void
Speedin’ Back To My Baby
Rock Soldiers
Love Her All I Can
Talk To Me
2000 Man
Strange Ways
New York Groove
Rip It Out
Hard Times
Shock Me
Ace guitar solo (w/smoking guitar)
Let Me Know outro
Shout It Out Loud

Encore:
Deuce
Love Gun
Cold Gin

This was a great concert…..a KISS diehard’s dream! Ace and his band came out and put on an energetic show full of Ace solo and KISS classics. Not surprisingly, Ace and the band focused on most KISS material that featured Ace either as lead singer or primary songwriter. It was extremely cool to hear deep tracks like ‘Rocket Ride’, ‘Strange Ways’, ‘Hard Times’ and ‘Talk To Me’, songs that were rarely played live by KISS during their ’70s heyday. Ace also pulled out 4 songs from his 1978 KISS solo record (‘New York Groove’, ‘Rip It Out’, ‘Speedin’ Back To My Baby’, ‘Snow Blind’) and 2 brand new songs off ANOMALY (‘Sister’ & ‘Pain In The Neck’) but one of the most gratifying songs of the set for me was ‘Rock Soldiers’ from the first Frehley’s Comet album…..to this day, Frehley’s Comet is one of my all-time favorite bands. The ’78 solo album songs were great also, the Ace album was my favorite by the four members and it was so cool to finally hear ‘Rip It Out’ and ‘Snow Blind’ live. I thought ‘Sister’ came out great live and Ace announced that this was the first performance of ‘Pain In The Neck’ ever so we got a little extra KISStory at the show. The audience was mostly KISS fans so all the KISS classics got huge ovations, as did the entire set. ‘Parasite’, ‘Shock Me’ and ‘Shout It Out Loud’ were all great but the encore really brought the house down with cool versions of ‘Deuce’, ‘Love Gun’ and ‘Cold Gin’. Ace also managed to get in a great guitar solo complete with his signature smoking guitar and then he was joined by the band to complete the ‘Let Me Know’ outro solo with the signature KISS moves…..something that got the crowd really going! What a show! Ace and the band played 20 songs in an hour and 45 minutes, including an extended guitar solo and the opening into tape of ‘Fractured Mirror’ from the ’78 solo record…..so it was really 22 songs worth of time! You can’t ask for much more! It was a great show at a great venue for a great price…..FREE!

Definitely catch Ace on tour if you can…..check out Ace Frehley.com for tour dates.

We finally made it to the Top 10!

Something you may have noticed by now is that some of my favorite bands are missing from the countdown so far…..guess where they are?

2009 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I am still very lucky to have many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review, to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU! Without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases and discovered some new bands. I have totalled up the CDs and there were 125 albums up for this year’s honors!

The only criteria I followed for my Top 40 was that 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 2009. In the beginning of the year I decided that an album that was released in 2008, but was released in 2009 for the U.S., qualified as a 2009 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 40 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 more than doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into three posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here is part 3, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1 – #10):

#10

Wolf – Ravenous (2009): I completely missed 2006′s BLACK FLAME so I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this latest album from Wolf. Needless to say, I was blown away and I immeadiately knew that this was going to be one of the best albums of the year. Wolf has this classic retro Metal sound with major influences from Iron Maiden, Helloween and Judas Priest so I ate this up immeadiately! The songs are all excellent and the twin lead guitars really make this album what it is, especially at the solos. I have been singing along, headbanging and playing air guitar to RAVENOUS since March and it definitely set the bar high to get into this year’s Top 10.

#9

Cheap Trick – The Latest (2009): THE LATEST album from Cheap Trick turned out to be the biggest comeback of the year from a band that never really went away! Cheap Trick has always been one of the most underrated Classic Rock bands coming out of the mid-’70s/early ’80s and I always make the huge mistake about waiting to buy their new records until a few weeks after they are released. This year was no different and I waited until I caught part of their opening performance on Def Leppard’s summer tour before I picked it up. The odds were against the band when they basically started the album off with a Slade cover (‘When The Lights Are Out’) but it turned out to be one of the best songs of the year for me! Cheap Trick has always been a band with excellent musicianship and songwriting skills and THE LATEST is just another example of how great this band is. If I could describe this album in one word: Beautiful. After I gave this album a full listen, I played it again to make sure my ears didn’t deceive me…..I knew immeadiately that this was one of the best records of the year.

#8

Sunstorm – House Of Dreams (2009): The Joe Lynn Turner factor! There is no doubt in my mind that JLT could sing me the menu at a McDonald’s and I would absolutely worship it! This is the best AOR/Melodic Rock album of the year without a shred of doubt…..it’s like it came straight from 1985. Now a lot of people are going to say that the album sounds too retro, too ’80s, too keyboard friendly but that is exactly what it’s supposed to be. Add in some awesome songwriter like Jim Peterik and Desmond Child lending a hand and you’ve got AOR gold, I swear if this record came out 25 years ago then it would have been a Top 10, multi-platinum album. The sound is Joe Lynn Turner meets Survivor meets Journey meets Pride Of Lions…..just plain old feel food melodic music that has great overall songwriting and musicianship (the guitars and keyboards complimenting each other perfectly) to go along with one of the greatest singing voices in all of Rock.

#7

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009): One of my most highly anticipated albums of 2009, Heaven & Hell (or Black Sabbath if you want) did not disappoint with their first true full-length album since 1992′s DEHUMANIZER. As many of you know, my favorite incarnation of Black Sabbath is the Ronnie James Dio era and it’s safe to say that Black Sabbath as a whole is one of my favorite bands of all-time. When I gave THE DEVIL YOU KNOW it’s inaugural couple of listens I was a little disappointed by the lack of fast and furious Metal songs like previous classic ‘Neon Knights’ and ‘The Mob Rules’ but I kept listening and it turned out that this is one heavy Doom record with a few well-placed fast numbers (‘Double The Pain’, ‘Eating The Cannibals’) to break the heaviness up a bit. Tony Iommi continues to write the best Metal riffs and Dio continues to sing better than vocalists half, even two-thirds, his age! The rhythm section of Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice are still as high-powered and brutal as ever and hearing them in concert proved to be a thunderous experience. Say what you want about this album not being HEAVEN & HELL (1980) or MOB RULES (1981), THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is definitely a great Black Sabbath Heaven & Hell album that can easily sit alongside those classics.

#6

UFO – The Visitor (2009): Another one of my favorite bands…..one of Top 5 in fact! There is now way I could have a Best of 2009 countdown without putting in THE VISITOR because it was easily in the running for my favorite record of the year since I got it. You have to give UFO credit, they have been doing it longer than most of their peers (40 years and counting!) and they consistently put out solid records. Since the band reunited in 1995 with the classic lineup, there have been many lineup changes but the mainstay is founder and singer Phil Mogg who puts in a brilliant performance vocally and as a songwriter…..no one writes or turns a clever phrase quite like Phil. The lineup still isn’t stable with founding bassist Pete Way out again due to health reasons and founding drummer Andy Parker coming back again to replace Jason Bonham when he left for Foreigner. Vinnie Moore proves that hes is more than capable of handling the guitar duties and holding back the Michael Schenker legend while Paul Raymond continues to be an integral part of the UFO sound on keybords, guitars and harmonies. Not a bad song on the album and well worth checking out.

#5

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): I received the promo for INTO THE LABYRINTH in December 2008 and I reviewed it mid-January…..I almost declared this the album of the year right there! Saxon has been one of the most consistent bands from the early days of the NWOBHM movement and, since 1997, have released some great albums that combine pure Power Metal with that classic NWOBHM style. Take the first two songs from the album, ‘Battalions Of Steel’ and ‘Live To Rock’: the first is Traditional/Power Metal and the latter is pure NWOBHM as if it was 1981. What Saxon is doing is what I keep emphasizing throughout this year’s countdown…..they are expanding/enhancing their trademark sound. You have to evolve and Saxon is showing a lot of the younger Metal bands out there just how to do it. Any other year and this would be my favorite album but there was stiff competition this year and a Top 5 showing is not bad at all.

#4

Johnny Lima – Livin’ Out Loud (2009): I had been reading all about Johnny Lima and this album for a couple of months before i actually broke down and ordered it from Johnny’s website. First, let me give Johnny a ton of credit for emailing me within 10 minutes of my order and personally thanking me and then sending the CD out same day including an autograph. Then he emails me a couple days later to make sure the album arrived! Keeping a connection with the fans is what it’s about and Johnny Lima gained an instant fan. And the music is good too! After spinning this once I knew this would be the best Glam/Hard Rock album of the year. If you like Poison, Def Leppard, early Bon Jovi, Dokken, Ratt, Cinderella and Motley Crue then you are definitely going to find a song on LIVIN’ OUT LOUD that could easily fit into any of the bands’ catalog. That’s not to say that the album is a carbon copy of what these big bands have done in the past rather it’s a statement that revisiting and reinterpreting the classic ’80s Hard Rock style is OK. That’s something that these bigger bands are afraid to do! Every song is catchy with a ton of hooks, big harmonies and great guitar…..this is the kind of record that is so infectious that you can’t help but sing along and have a great time. This was a major contender for the top spot for 2009.

#3

Sacred Oath – s/t (2009): Early in the year I started to read more and more about Sacred Oath and their forthcoming new album being an iTunes exclusive…..I don’t download, I buy CDs, so I didn’t pay much attention to the press releases. Then I read that the band was releasing the album on CD on their own label so I emailed the band for the release date. I received a promo copy in late May/early June and was completely blown away! Like I said in the review, if you took Metallica, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Judas Priest, Armored Saint, Diamond Head and Metal Church and rolled them all into one, you would get Sacred Oath. The band takes influences from all the great bands and blends them together for an American Metal feast that goes from Heavy Metal to Power Metal to Progressive Metal and then the NWOBHM. It’s a huge sound to live up to and the album does just that. Searing riffs, pounding rhythm section and soaring vocals added to great songwriting…..it’s a wonder why the band broke up 20 years ago, I’d bet they would have been huge. Well, they are huge this year because this was my #1 album hands down until the next two in the countdown showed up. This record is still in my weekly playlist, I don’t see it leaving anytime soon, and ‘High And Mighty’ is one of my favorite songs of the year.

#2

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): Ace Frehley has always been my favorite member of KISS and, with KISS being my favorite band, anything a current of former member of KISS does is a big deal. The last time Ace released a solo album was TROUBLE WALKIN’ in 1989…..20 years later ANOMALY has finally arrived! I have followed Ace’s career in and out of KISS since I was a little kid and he has talked about a new record since the early ’90s but nothing has ever come of it. Then there was the KISS reunion that lasted 6+ years and Ace started talking about a new solo record after he left the band in 2002 but nothing was released again. The only time I believed that Ace was releasing anything was when the album cover was released in June…..but would an actual record come out? September 15, 2009…..I was outside Best Buy before the store opened to get my hands on ANOMALY. One listen was all it took to hear that Ace Frehley had made a huge comeback with his solo career, ANOMALY is a well-written Hard Rock album and Ace sounds as focused as ever. Of all the albums he’s released as a solo artist or in Frehley’s Comet, ANOMALY ranks just below his KISS solo album. ‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, ‘Pain In The Neck’ and even the cover of Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’ are all solid Hard Rock songs that are catchy and full of that signature Ace guitar tone. The surprises here are the acoutically driven ballads like ‘Change The World’ & ‘A Little Below The Angels’ that show Ace’s diversity. This whole album is top notch from the music, to the album cover Ace designed to the special digipak packaging that tuens into a pyramid. I gave this album a ton of listening time and I still haven’t taken it out of my daily rotation! When I started to make this year end best of list I installed ANOMALY near the top because I enjoyed it so much. The bottom line on this list is that I enjoy the album and, between the excellent songs and my KISS worship, Ace Frehley has gained the #2 spot for 2009.

One album to go everyone! The #1 album is next but before I get to it let me say again how great this year was for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal…..my Best of 2009 list, along with the other websites’ lists, will attest to that. I’ve listened to more new releases this year than any other year that I can remember and this year’s list was a hard one to make, there were so many really good albums that got left out of the countdown so maybe next year I will expand again to a Top 50. Let’s move on though to my pick for the Top Album of 2009…..

#1

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009)

So what album did you all expect? Of course my top album for 2009 is the new KISS record! I’m a KISS diehard after all! Seriously though, of all the 2009 albums I listened to this year, SONIC BOOM was the one I wanted the most, listened to the most, and enjoyed the most. Any year that your favorite band releases a new album is a good year but I had no hopes that KISS would actually follow through with releasing an album of all new material. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have been saying that they weren’t interested in releasing a new album for the last 7 years and I had no reason to doubt their conviction. Who knows why they did now? Maybe Paul Stanley liked working on his solo album a couple years ago? Maybe the Wal-Mart deal was in place ahead of time? Maybe they were just bored? Who cares! The bottom line is that KISS has released an album that is their very best since REVENGE (1992) and it completely blows away the reunion album PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998). I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from SONIC BOOM because most KISS albums are half good songs and half filler. If the band was dead set against releasing a new record, why should they release a quality one? First thing the band did right was give Paul Stanley full control in the studio…..he’s the one that guided the band from 1983 to 1992 and his track record as a producer, performer and songwriter are proof enough. Ever notice that all the singles in the ’80s were Paul’s songs? After Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley is my favorite and I have always told people the he is the talent in KISS. The second thing the band did right was actually write. Paul & Gene actually wrote songs, and performed them, together for the first time in a long time in addition to what they brought in individually. The songs are high quality, catchy and there is an element of true ’70s KISS mixed with the KISS of today. Third thing the band did correctly was to involve Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer in the writing and in the singing to make it a true band effort. Nothing beats a band unit, compare SONIC BOOM and the sham that is PSYCHO CIRCUS and the winner is clear. I bought this album at my local Wal-Mart on October 6 (day of release) and I have played it everyday, many times more than once. I have been a diehard KISS fan since 1978, I’ve lived and died with this band and I am actually proud of them for releasing such a great record. I haven’t felt this good about KISS’ future since REVENGE and the 1996/1997 Reunion Tour…..SONIC BOOM is my favorite album of 2009!

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Please check out The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11-#25) and The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26-#40) for the rest of this year’s countdown.

ace-frehley-anomaly-2009

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009, Bronx Born Records)

  1. Foxy & Free
  2. Outer Space
  3. Pain In The Neck
  4. Fox On The Run
  5. Genghis Khan
  6. Too Many Faces
  7. Change The World
  8. Space Bear
  9. A Little Below The Angels
  10. Sister
  11. It’s A Great Life
  12. Fractured Quantum

Musicians:
Ace Frehley – Vocals, Lead & Rhythm Guitars
Anton Fig – Drums
Anthony Esposito – Bass
Derrek Hawkins – Rhythm Guitar (track 2)
Scot Coogan – Background Vocals (track 3)
Marti Frederiksen – Bass, Keyboards, Hammond Organ, Drums, Percussion, Strings & Background Vocals (tracks 4, 9 & 12)
Brian Tichy – Drums  (tracks 4 & 10)
Pearl Aday – Background Vocals (track 5)
Karl Kimmel – Background Vocals (track 5)
Jay Messina – Tracking (tracks 1, 3, 5, 6,7,8,11)
Rich Tozzoli – Overdubs (tracks 1,3,5,6,7,8,10, 11)
Alex Salzman – Tracking & Overdubs (tracks 2, 5, 9, 12)

Producers: Ace Frehley, Frank Munoz, & Marti Frederiksen (track 4)

Country: USA

Total Time = 54:46

Ace Frehley
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It’s been 20 long years since we had a new Ace Frehley album, October of 1989 was when TROUBLE WALKIN’ hit record store racks and KISS fans like myself bought their copy. Ace Frehley had been my favorite member of KISS for years so anytime Ace was in the spotlight after his departure from KISS I paid full attention. I was a big fan of Frehley’s Comet and I tracked Ace the best I could from Rock mags, KISS newsletters and, of course, KISS conventions. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 20 years since the last new Ace record but now we finally have ANOMALY! So what was the delay? Sobriety…..Ace has been sober now for three years. KISS…..the Reunion extended into a 6+ year odyssey that included 3 world tours and an album. Doesn’t matter now, it’s 2009 and Ace is back again!

Keep in mind that Ace Frehley has a very distinctive guitar tone and singing voice so a lot of the songs might sound the same in some parts and they are going to definitely sound very KISS-like. Ace is part of a big Hard Rock legacy with KISS so the sound will be familiar. ANOMALY starts off with the modern sounding ‘Foxy & Free’ that is chock full of thick Ace riffs and a heavy solo…..I’m impressed already. Sometimes you can tell how good an album will be by the first song and Ace rips right into the album with ‘Foxy & Free’, it’s got a solid groove that definitely could fit on KISS latest album. Moving into ‘Outer Space’, the album’s resident “spaceman persona” song, is another trip into familiar KISS territory a la ‘Rocket Ride’ & ‘Into the Void’. Definitely a good swirling guitar trackwith solid lyrics that pair up with the Space Ace’s image, the chorus had me singing right along. Third big guitar track in a row with ‘Pain In The Neck’ (written about his former bandmates perhaps?) and it has that smooth groove that Ace always pulls out with ease as well as a solid solo. ‘Pain In The Neck’ sounds a little dated but in a good way, the song could easily fit into any of his Frehley’s Comet/Ace Frehley records from the ’80s.

Ace is no stranger to doing a cover tune, his version of The Move/E.L.O.’s ‘Do Ya’ is very good and got some radio and MTV exposure back in ’89 and he also put his own version of KISS’ ‘Hide Your Heart’ to vinyl the same year. Considering that I like Ace’s versions of those two songs better, I had high hopes for The Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’. Not many people remember Sweet so it’s good to hear Ace pay some homage to a real classic Glam Rock act. Normally I can’t stand covers but this really is a good one and fits Ace’s personality to a tee. ‘Genghis Khan’ is mostly an instrumental that showcases Ace’s six-string prowess, but it has a few vocal lines. The song has this varied, trippy, loose groove to it that just sounds like a cool jam with a few words thrown in where the chorus might be. I’m not sure there’s any meaning to the lyrics, they’re more of an afterthought I think than an actual part of the song. Maybe Ace didn’t want to confuse people with more than one instrumental? You know an Ace album is going to have a ‘Fractured’ on it so maybe the lyrics were thrown onto ‘Genghis Khan’ to separate them? Either way it’s a solid instrumental and Ace’s playing is superb, the guy is a talented guitarist and that gets overlooked because he played some very basic guitar during KISS’ ’70s career. ‘Too Many Faces’ is another rocker that seems autobiographical, maybe talking about Ace’s battle with substance abuse. There’s some solid layered guitar here but the song sounds similar to ‘Pain In The Neck’ in some spots.

ANOMALY slows down a little with the ballad ‘Change the World’, a song that’s very melodic and acoustically driven. There’s definitely a Beatles influence here and it definitely sounds like Ace has taken a new outlook on life with his newfound sobriety. Listen to the solo, there’s a lot of emotion wrapped in there and it has a great tone. Another long instrumental comes in ‘Space Bear’…..I’m not sure we needed another one with ‘Genghis Khan’ before it and ‘Fractured Quantum’ on it’s way. ‘Space Bear’ is definitely heavier than ‘Genghis Khan’, it’s more deliberate in it’s heavy Hard Rock sound, and it sounds like it could have fit in on earlier Ace efforts, but it also sounds like an unfinished song idea. Another autobiographical ballad about Ace’s battle with his addictions follows in ‘A Little Below The Angels’…..the mellower version of ‘Rock Soldiers’? Melodic sincere lyrics over a simple acoustic guitar and then the band kicks in with a classic rock sounding rhythm and organ. There are some cool guitar fills mixed right in and the song features Ace’s daughter Monique on background vocals as part of the choir. The song has a grand feel to it and it fits in well with Ace’s current life. Heavy Rock is back again with ‘Sister’, a very thick guitar track with a rolling main riff and driving drums. This is straightforward power chords and basic rhythm with a great guitar solo mixed in, I’ll bet this is put in the live set because it’s real heavy and loud.

‘It’s A Great Life’ fits in again with Ace’s new found sober attitude lyrically. It’s a melodic acoustic driven song that sounds a little funky Pop Rock thing in some spots, it’s a decent song but not nearly as great as the other songs on the album. Would it be an Ace Frehley album without a ‘Fractured’ insturmental? The fourth installment is ‘Fractured Quantum’ and it is definitely a highlight of the album, the best instrumental of the album! Technically, that is the end of the proper album but those of you who bought ANOMALY on iTunes get a bonus track…..’The Return Of Space Bear’. I’ve only heard the 30 second sample iTunes gives you but, from what I’ve read online, it’s the ‘Space Bear’ instrumental with some effects and vocal lines re-done from the infamous Tom Snyder interview with KISS in 1980. I can’t really say whether the track is good or not but I think the fact that you can only get the track as part of the FULL album download and not as a single track stinks! If the song were available on the vinyl version, I’d pick it up…..maybe a Japanese pressing on CD will have it as a bonus track?

Bottom Line:
A great comeback for Ace Frehley! His new lease on life with his sobriety has certainly brought out his creativity and ANOMALY is definitely a solid album. The album is mainly electric guitar driven rockers mixed with a couple acoustic ballads that show off Ace’s melodic side, it’s definitely a solid mix with enough emotion and introspection lyrically. For me the best songs are the hard rockers (‘Sister’, ‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, etc.) but the slower acoustical ballads (‘Change The World’, ‘A Little Below The Angels’) show that Ace can branch out and do more melodic pieces. I even like the cover of ‘Fox On The Run’! The only drawback to the album is that there are three instrumentals, four if you get it from iTunes! ‘Space Bear’ seems to be the odd one out. Overall ANOMALY is a great album and I’ve been enjoying it since it came out mid-September. Just like the new KISS album, I wanted to give ANOMALY a lot of listening time not only to enjoy it but so my critical side wouldn’t be influenced by my diehard KISS fandom. I’ve been looking forward to a new Ace Frehley album for 20 years…..it’s finally here and I’m happy!

Favorite Songs:
‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, ‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Sister’, ‘Change The World’, ‘Genghis Khan’

Today starts my last vacation week of 2009. I always take the same vacation weeks every year and it’s that time again…..Halloween week! My family has the graveyard in front of the house and the kids are getting their costumes together and I have zombies to build for the graveyard. So what do I do? Sleep all day and watch football! I had a double shift at work again so I was able to get the iPod fired up and listen to a couple albums…..

Heaven & Hell – Live From Radio City Music Hall (2007): I’ve been on a big post-Ozzy Black Sabbath kick again so I put this Heaven & Hell live record on so I could hear the current Sabbath lineup do what I’ve seen them do four times in concert since the band adopted the Heaven & Hell name. This is becoming one of my favorite live albums.

Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982): I played this album just so I could compare Sabbath then to Sabbath now. This is still one of my favorite live albums and a classic everyone should have in their collection.

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009): I had to get my daily listen to the new KISS album. It really is a solid record and a great studio comeback for the band.

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): Just like the new KISS album, I had to get my daily listen to the latest Ace Frehley record. Just like the new KISS album, ANOMALY is a solid record and a great comeback for Ace 20 years after his last solo effort.

Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008): I wanted to give this a fresh listen because I feel like I didn’t give this enough time last year even though it made my Top 30 for 2008.

W.A.S.P. – The Last Command (1985): This is my favorite W.A.S.P. album and one of those albums that were so important to me when I was growing up and discovering different Metal bands. Great songs all around but I forgot just how good ‘Wild Child’, ‘Fistful Of Diamonds’ and ‘Cries In The Night’ are. The whole album is a classic but I get sick of ‘Blind In Texas’ so I usually skip over it.

Day off Saturday…..here’s what was burning up the stereo and the iPod today…..

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009): I can’t get enough of the new KISS record! I wanted to live with it a couple of weeks before I reviewed it because I didn’t want the fanboy in me to overpower the truth. After repeated listens, it’s a solid record…..better than PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998).

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): This one gets lumped in with the new KISS because Ace is part of the KISS extended family. I wanted to give this a ton of play before I reviewed it, also so I could compare it to the SONIC BOOM. Great comeback for Ace!

Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2009 reissue): I’ve had the album since late 2007 or early 2008 when I ordered it through the band’s website…..I loved it then and I love it now. I picked up the reissue for the bonus track, the never recorded, ‘Thumb Hang’. See the movie, buy the record.

Firehouse – s/t (1990): I saw the video for ‘Don’t Treat Me Bad’ on VH-1 Classic and I pulled the CD out for a fresh listen. I used to love this album back in the day! I remember no one else really got into the band until all the chicks heard ‘Love Of A Lifetime’…..everyone ended up buying it. The good news is that it’s track #11 so you can hit the <skip> button and finish the record. Check out the video, this is the first version, there’s another with a woman throwing all of Bill Leverty’s stuff out a window.

Ozzy Osbourne – Down To Earth (2001): I pulled this album out because my best friend is an Ozzy freak and we were discussing the merits of Ozzy’s last four solo albums. Obviously NO MORE TEARS (1991) and OZZMOSIS (1995) are great records, and I thought BLACK RAIN (2007) sucked, but this album is forgotten. I remember seeing the tour stop in Worcester, MA and the show wasn’t Ozzy’s best…..after a few listens, neither is the album. I like it better than BLACK RAIN.

Bon Jovi – 7800° Fahrenheit (1985): OK, I realize Bon Jovi isn’t as Metal, or even Hard Rock, as some of the other bands I usually listen to but 7800° FAHRENHEIT is a solid record. This is before Bon Jovi broke the bank so I like this & the debut a lot better. Everyone forgets ‘In And Out Of Love’ and ‘Tokyo Road’, two great songs the band should play live.

David Lee Roth – A Little Ain’t Enough (1991): I am huge Diamond Dave fan and I have bought every Diamond Dave solo album when it’s come out so I picked this up back in 1991 and I still love it today. The title track is just pure Dave. Too bad he fell out of the limelight quickly after this album, he was a great performer. He still has 3 more solo albums after this though but his was his last good one.

Thunder – Backstreet Symphony (1990): Thunder were one of those bands that came out just as my senior year in high school was ending and we all jumped on the bandwagon at the parking lot parties. ‘Dirty Love’ got a ton of airplay back in the day on local radio and on MTV, there were 2 versions of the video. I always listen to mid-90s Thunder when I got back into the band but it’s cool to re-live the debut.

It’s been a long time since I updated what I’ve picked up at the local shops and online so here’s a list of what I’ve bought in the last couple of months…..

Ebay

UFO – No Place To Run (1980/2009 reissue), The Wild, The Willing & The Innocent (1981/2009 reissue), Mechanix (1982/2009 reissue), Making Contact (1983/2009 reissue), Misdemeanor (1985/2009 reissue) – $50: OK, that’s a lot of albums! I already own all the UFO album except for MISDEMEANOR and I had been searching for the 2000 Japanese pressing to complete my set…..it goes for $50+ on Ebay. Same thing with MAKING CONTACT, I own a Japanese copy but not the 2000 import with the bonus tracks. So what is so special about these new reissues? The first thing is that they are remastered, that doesn’t really affect me. The second is the bonus tracks from the 2000 reissues plus more bonus tracks added in. Third, these new reissues are cheaper and easier to get! I ended up buying MISDEMEANOR from one seller and the other four from another. I wasn’t planning on buying so many of these reissues but I ended up getting a good deal from the second seller on CD price and shipping. I ended spending $50 total for 5 CDs, that includes the shipping charges.

CD Inzane

Want to try a good online store? Visit CD Inzane, I use them all the time and they always have what I want at a slightly better price than a couple other stores I use. They also have things in stock, some places advertise titles before the have it in stock and then you have to wait until they get it in. Here’s my last order, $101 total with free shipping…..

U.D.O. - Dominator (2009)U.D.O. – Dominator (2009) – $25: This was my most expensive purchase but I couldn’t wait for the U.S. release. I ended up spending an extra $10 for the European edition with the bonus track ‘Pleasure In The Darkroom’ and the video for ‘Black & White’. Usually Udo Dirkschneider is good about releasing the album bonus tracks on a pre-release E.P. but this time around it didn’t happen. I’m a big U.D.O. fan so I didn’t mind spending the extra money, I already knew what the album sounded like because I was lucky enough to get a digital promo copy from AFM Records, you can read the review here.

cage-science-of-annihilation-2009Cage – Science Of Annihilation (2009) – $11: I have been waiting to pick up the latest Cage album for a while now. Just like the U.D.O. album, I was lucky to receive a digital promo download of the album so I could review it. The problem was that the download didn’t go through and I was left with nothing to review. I was going to pick this up anyway, download or not, because Cage is an excellent U.S. Power Metal band and all of their albums are great.

Jorn Lande - Spirit Black (2009)Jorn Lande – Spirit Black (2009) – $14: The new Jorn Lande album has been on my list for a while but I just never got around to picking it up. I saw one copy at the local record store and they haven’t restocked it since. CD Inzane had a great price for the European import digipak with the bonus track ‘The Sun Goes Down’ so I decided not to wait any longer. I’m not sure if the U.S. version has the bonus track but I know that I paid at least two or three dollars less than I would have in the record store.

FarCryHighGearFarCry – High Gear (2009) – $11: I’m not sure where I heard about FarCry first but all of a sudden most of the websites I frequent were raving about the band and this debut album. Usually solid melodic Hard Rock like this comes from Europe but FarCry is an all American band and they sound similar to bands like Danger Danger, Bon Jovi, Tyketto and Firehouse. So far, one of the best new bands I’ve heard this year!

outloud-cdOutloud – We’ll Rock You To Hell And Back Again! (2009) – $16: Another new band that I’ve had on my list to check out. Outloud has been getting a ton of great reviews and it’s another ’80s styled melodic Hard Rock album Frontiers Records is well known for. I had been watching Ebay and other online vendors but I saved close to $4 + shipping by ordering it through CD Inzane. So far it’s a great record…..you have to love the album cover, it reminds me of some old obscure ’80s record.

Bitchfire2009Bitchfire – s/t (2009) – $10: All I know about Bitchfire is that lead singer Sharyn Peach had been a singer on the Boston, MA rock scene for a number of years. I was researching local bands and I somehow landed on Bitchfire, found a few reviews and decided to give the band a shot. This is an independent release from the band so I was able to track it down at a decent price. I haven’t given it a spin yet but I’m hopeful.

UZI - MadhouseUZI – Madhouse (2009) – $13: UZI is one of those obscure late ’80s/early ’90s Hard Rock bands that came out just when the overblown L.A. scene was starting to unravel. MADHOUSE is a reissue of 10 long lost songs from UZI’s recording sessions close to 20 years ago. I like hearing obscure bands from back in the day and I read a lot of positive reviews so I ordered this one too. I was a sucker for the band name and the album cover, I might have given this a shot if I had found it in the record stores.

Record Stores

Megadeth endgameMegadeth – Endgame (2009) – $12: One of the most highly anticipated albums of the year! I ran out the day ENDGAME was released and pick it up at the great sale price but I still haven’t unwrapped it! That’s the thing with me and Megadeth…..I buy all the band’s albums but I end up getting around to them weeks/months later. I did the same thing with UNITED ABOMINATIONS and felt like an idiot after I finally gave it a listen.

ace-frehley-anomaly-2009Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009) – $10: Of course I ran out to Best Buy the day ANOMALY came out, I’ve been waiting 6 or 7 years for Ace to finally release this album after so much talk about it when he left KISS again. It’s been 20 years since Ace released TROUBLE WALKIN’ (1989), and his contributions to KISS – PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998) were limited, so it’s cool to hear Ace take flight with an all new record. Pretty cool artwork and packaging on top of a great album.

KISS - Sonic Boom (2009)KISS – Sonic Boom (2009) – $12: If I ran out the day of release for the new Ace Frehley album then you better believe this KISS diehard was at Wal-Mart at 9am after I dropped my kids at school! The first all new KISS studio album in 11 years, Paul Stanley in full control, and a bonus CD and DVD for $12…..that’s a deal! I already have the greatest hits bonus CD because I bought the Japanese import last year. The DVD is a nice preview of the tour but the real reason to buy this is the new songs…..so far I’m really enjoying it.

anvil-this-is-thirteen-2007Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007/2009 reissue) – $10: I’ve had this album since late 2007 when I bought it directly from the Anvil website. Two years later, the band is re-releasing the album on VH-1 Classic Records due to all the hype and success of the documentary ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL. Why not capitalize on the success and get the latest album distributed to a wider audience? The reissue gets a bonus track, the previously unreleased ‘Thumb Hang’.

3inches_doom3 Inches Of Blood – Here Waits Thy Doom (2009) – $10: 3 Inches Of Blood has become one of my favorite new Metal bands so I’m always on top of their new records. This was another highly anticipated release for me but I haven’t given this a spin yet! I’m not really sure what my problem is, I bought it right away and it’s made it’s way into the famous “pile”. I’m going to have to pull this out and listen this week.

SUNSTORM - house of dreamsSunstorm – House Of Dreams (2009) – $16: The smoothest singer in all of Rock is back with another Sunstorm project…..I will buy anything Joe Lynn Turner sings on. I had the first Sunstorm album when it first came out and it was excellent AOR/melodic Hard Rock so I was expecting much of the same from this new record. Nothing is better than a JLT record, his last solo album was one of my top albums of 2007.

Trouble - Simple Mind ConditionTrouble – Simple Mind Condition (2009) – $15: What did this take, a decade to finally get released? Trouble was one of those bands back in the day that I always thought would be HUGE! Great records like THE SKULL, PSALM 9, and MANIC FRUSTRATION. This album has had so many delays and so the U.S. release date was pushed back so many times. It’s been out in Europe since 2007 but the prices were high and the availability limited. It’s out now and time to enjoy some Trouble.

white-wizzard-high-speed-gtoWhite Wizzard – High Speed GTO (2009) – $9: Another new band that I really don’t know much about except that they are from Los Angeles and they play old school Heavy Metal. I like the band name, the logo and the cover art of the album…..it all screams NWOBHM or early U.S. Metal. It’s a 7 song disc so it’s more of an E.P. that a full length album, the band has another 7 song E.P. from 2008 titled WHITE WIZZARD that I am seeking out.

death - scream bloody goreDeath – Scream Bloody Gore (1987) – $10: My quest for trying out more extremem forms of Metal brought me to Death’s classic debut album, SCREAM BLOODY GORE. I’m determined to try out as many classic and newer Black & Death Metal bands as I can so I decided to go with what is regarded as one of the first proper Death metal albums. I’ve listened to it a few times and it’s really good, I can’t believe that I never got into Death during all these years.

Immortal - All Shall FallImmortal – All Shall Fall (2009) – $10: I’ve read a ton online about how reat Immortal was but I’ve never bothered to listen to a song. Again, I’m not the biggest Black Metal fan but I want to at least check out some of these bands so I know if I’m missing something. I had no idea that Immortal had a new album coming out so I picked it up to check out what they had to offer. Usually I like to buy the first album and work my way up but I couldn’t remember the name of their debut. Spending $10 to try something new is OK in my book.

The Story Of Anvil movie picAnvil – The Story Of Anvil DVD (2009) – $20: I have been waiting for this documentary to come out on DVD all year. Europe and Japan have had it for a few months but now VH-1 Classic Records is properly releasing the movie on DVD with extras. I already saw the movie back in May but I will still give this a full review soon, I can’t wait to watch it again. Good for Anvil, they deserve all their success!

I may have let the blog go downhill a little but I have definitely been listening to a lot of music…..a lot of new releases that I’ve picked up recently. This has been another great year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal! Here’s a sample of what I’ve been spinning…..

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009): Of course I’m listening to the new KISS record! Nothing is better than your favorite band releasing a new album and this is 11 years in the making. I have to admit that I didn’t really get into SONIC BOOM after the first couple of spins but I’ve given it a lot of time and I’m starting to really enjoy it.

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): Of course I’m listening to the new Ace album! So far I like it a lot better then KISS’ SONIC BOOM, he beat them to the punch by releasing his new album first. Ace always had the talent, he just lacked the focus, ANOMALY proves that.

Queensryche – American Soldier (2009): I have this annoying habit of picking up albums when they are released and not listening to them, this is the case of the new Queensryche record. I’ve had it, it’s been sitting on my desk, it’s was still wrapped in the cellophane. I ended up putting it in and was impressed with the overall concept and performance. I wasn’t digging the idea of another Queensryche concept album but I’m really enjoying it.

Immortal – All Shall Fall (2009): I wanted to start getting into more extreme styles of Metal so I started picking up different Death & Black Metal bands up over the last few weeks. I’ve given this only a couple of spins and I’m not really sure what to make of it. Black Metal isn’t my first genre of choice but I’m keeping my mind, and ears, open.

Johnny Lima – Livin’ Out Loud (2009): I’ve been listening to this a lot over the last few weeks. It’s really good melodic hard Rock that leans toward Def Leppard, Poison, Dokken and Bon Jovi…..one of my favorite albums this year.

Lita Ford – Wicked Wonderland (2009): The Queen Of Metal’s big comeback! I’ve given it two spins and I’m not overly impressed. Could be a grower so I’ll give it some more time.

Spinal Tap – Back From The Dead (2009): Love the movie, love the soundtrack, love BREAK LIKE THE WIND (1992). I’m not sure if Tap’s brand of comic Metal is what we need in 2009 but it’s a cool break from the ultra-serious way the scene usually is. I could have gone for a straight up new record but I’ll take the re-done classics as a bonus.

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009): I still can’t get enough of this album, one of my favorites of the year. I still wish there were more faster songs though.

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): One of my top albums since it came out back in January. Saxon is one of those bands that I can never get enough of and INTO THE LABYRINTH satisfies both the old school NWOBHM fan in me as well as the Power Metal fan in me. This will definitely be in the running for this year’s best.

Ted Poley – Greatestits (2009): Search for the cover and you’ll understand the spelling! 2 CDs, 23 songs, all spanning Ted Poley’s career after Danger Danger. There are some excellent songs here and now I’m making a list of all the Poley projects I don’t have and need to buy.

Ace Frehley announced through his official website that the release date for his new album, ANOMALY, will be September 15, 2009. Check out the ANOMALY commercial…..

ANOMALY tracklisting: ‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, ‘Pain In The Neck’, ‘Fox On The Run’, ‘Genghis Khan’, ‘Too Many Faces’, ‘Change The World’, ‘Space Bear’, ‘A Little Below The Angels’, ‘Sister’, ‘It’s A Great Life’, ‘Fractured Quantum’, ‘The Return Of Space Bear’ (Dedicated to Tom Snyder, iTunes Exclusive album only track).

Original KISS lead guitarist Ace Frehley has a new solo album, ANOMALY, coming out sometime in early 2009. The tracklisting isn’t set quite yet but Ace is putting the finishing touches to the album so I’m sure an announcement will be coming soon. Below is the new artwork for ANOMALY and updates can be found at Ace’s brand new website: Ace Frehley.com

ace-frehley-anomaly-2009