CD Scavenger Hunt – May update

In keeping with the tradition of not posting the Hunts at the end of the proper months, here is another big update, this time for this past May…..

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Fozzy – Happenstance (2002) – $4 used
High Noon – No Turning Back (2009) – $6 used
Lance King – A Moment In Chiros (2011) – $6 used
Heaven’s Edge – s/t (1990) – $12 used
Rush – Moving Pictures (1980) – $2.50
Rush – Signals (1982) – $2.50
Deep Purple – Now What?! (2013, Deluxe Edition) – $16
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Mind Control (2013) – $12
Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – Blood Lust (2012) – $15
Queensryche – Frequency Unknown (2013) – $10
Stratovarius – Nemesis (2013) – $10
Avantasia – The Mystery Of Time (2013) – $10
Amaranthe – The Nexus (2013) – $10
Free Fall – Power & Volume (2013) – $10
Ugly Kid Joe – Stairway To Hell E.P. (2012) – $6

Poison – Sexyback (promo CD single) (2007) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Black Earth (1996) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Burning Bridges (1999) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Wages Of Sin (2001) – $7 used
Arch Enemy – Dead Eyes See No Future E.P. (2004) – $7 used
Shok Paris – Go For The Throat (1984) – $7 used
Shok Paris – Steel & Starlight (1987) – $11 used
Shok Paris – Concrete Killers (1989) – $11 used
Trixter – New Audio Machine (2012) – $12
Waysted – Save Your Prayers (1986/2013 reissue) – $10
Jorn – Symphonic (2013) – $11
Torch – Electrikiss (1985) – $14 used
Airbourne – Black Dog Barking (Special Edition) (2013) – $22.50
Armored Saint – March Of The Saint (1984) – $9.25 used
Armored Saint – Delirious Nomad (1985) – $9.25 used

May was a really good month but I kind of stayed away from the record stores and did more online. I’m torn right now because technology is providing me a means to compare prices on Amazon and Ebay while I’m in the record store and I’m making decisions based on price. I’ve always been a record store rat and I always will be but, I buy and devour so much music yearly, that I need to save as much money as possible. I support local record stores but it’s hard to when Amazon offers the same CD cheaper than the record store sale prices and no sales tax. No shipping for me because I’m an Amazon Prime member and the membership has already paid for itself. Let’s move on to the treasures I found…..

My first outing of the month was a quiet one. I hadn’t planned to go to Newbury Comics but I was driving through Warwick, RI and decided to stop in. I picked up the Fozzy, High Noon, Lance King and Heaven’s Edge CDs all in the used bin for some really great prices. The Lance King CD replaces the promo digital download that Lance’s label, Nightmare Records, sent me to review but the gem was the original pressing of the self-titled Heaven’s Edge album. It’s a highly bootlegged CD and there have been some shoddy reissues so I was cool spending $12 for a used CD. I checked Ebay while I was in the store and original pressings were listed for $25+ so I feel like I got a bargain. After the record shop, I went across the street to Best Buy so I could burn a $5 off coupon that was expiring the next day. Best Buy doesn’t have much of a selection and they aren’t big on organization so it can be a crap shoot finding a gem. I knew what I wanted…..Rush! I’ve been filling the holes in my Rush CD collection with Best Buy purchases because they are all $5 each so I grabbed Moving Pictures (1980) and Signals (1982). Take that $5 coupon off the $10 total and I got both for $2.50! My last trip out before I went online shopping was to my usual Newbury Comics location in North Attleboro, MA to grab the new Deep Purple album special edition. I wanted the CD/DVD edition so I paid a little extra than the regular CD. While I was there the store was playing the new Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats record, Mind Control, so I added that in on sale and caved in to buy their 2012 release Blood Lust also.

Now we get to the dilemma…..online vs. record stores. I had been watching a few new releases at the record stores and passed on them because I either thought the sale price was too high or I was skeptical about the material therein. The releases in question were the new albums from Geoff Tate’s version of Queensryche, Stratovarius, Avantasia, Amaranthe and Free Fall.  The Queensryche record has gotten terrible reviews so I was holding out for a used copy and I was actually shopping for the new Stratovarius online for the special ecition with three bonus tracks and those two were well stocked at the sale price. Also, I wasn’t in the mood for another concept record so I passed on Avantasia on sale and I really wanted to try out Amaranthe and Free Fall but those CDs were available at regular price. I finally caved in towards the end of the month and checked the prices on Ebay and Amazon and decided that the best value was to order through Amazon. I got all five CDs for $10 each ($50 total) with free shipping (I have Prime) and no sales tax, had I bought in the record store, with sale prices, the total would have been $68. So I actually saved $18 for the same exact items on Amazon vs. my favorite Newbury Comics…..that’s 1 or 2 CDs! If the Queensryche, Stratovarius and Avantasia albums were bought in store at their respective regular prices ($17 each regular price) then my total in store would have jumped to $80. And those figures in store don’t include state sales tax! The savings is obvious and I guess that’s why record stores are having a hard time competing. As a bonus for saving all that money, I also ordered a hard copy of the Ugly Kid Joe E.P. that I bought digitally back in 2012. The actual CD was $6 so it wasn’t a large add on.

Ebay was extremely lucrative in May. There were a few CDs I paid a little extra for and there were some good bargains. I had to have Poison’s cover of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Sexyback’ but I didn’t want the entire Poison’d covers album so I found the CD single for a cheap $4 + $3 shipping. As soon as that CD was taken off the want list, I focused on Shok Paris. I found a copy of Go For The Throat from a seller who was also selling a four CD lot of Arch Enemy CDs I needed so I went for both auctions and won for a grand total of $35. So I’m averaging $7 per CD on Ebay but the rest of the month was higher. I finished the Shok Paris discography (Steel & Starlight and Concrete Killers) for $11 each, grabbed the latest Trixter record from 2012 for a cheap $12 (replacing the promo download I was sent), the Waysted – Save Your Prayers 2013 reissue from Cherry Red Records and Jorn Lande’s Symphonic album for $11. I grabbed a CD copy of Torch – Electrikiss even though I already own the vinyl…..I’ve never seen a CD version so I grabbed it for $11 + $3 shipping and it’s in mint condition. The CD says Metal Blade for a label and I checked all Metal Blade releases through 2002 (through the anniversary box set) and didn’t see it listed. I think it was a Metal Blade Europe release and it’s a real silver pressed, factory made CD…..I’m still researching it. I had to have the new Airbourne album but I wanted the 2 disc special edition so that cost me a total of $22.50 and the seller who sold me the Arch Enemy lot had both Armored Saint CDs listed in one lot so I grabbed that for $18.50.

Total = $284

Total (year) = $1106.80

Average Price (per item) = $11.07

Total CDs (year) = 91

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 3

Total LPs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) =5

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 – update 5/30/10

I was doing so well this month posting albums reviews and catching up on my listening…..then Ronnie James Dio passed away and I’ve been a little “off”. Not sure what the deal is but when RJD passed away, I didn’t really feel like listening to music all that much. I still bought things though so I figure today is a good day to update what I’ve acquired…..

Ebay
(prices include shipping)

Casanova – s/t (1990/2010 reissue) – $14: I’ve had my eye on this reissue since Divebomb Records sent me the press release. I was hoping to get an advance copy but it never came so I started trolling online shops and Ebay. Found this sealed copy starting at 1 cent but it quickly moved over $10. One of the key selling points was the free shipping, the other was that the seller was actually an online store I order from often. Good reissue here…..the original 1990 debut casanova album and 5 bonus tracks. Saved $6 with free shipping and decent price.

Masterplan – Time To Be King (2010) – $23: I paid a little extra for this with BUY IT NOW but the shipping was free and it was the same seller as the Casanova CD. The selling point here was the limited edition European digipak pressing and the bonus track ‘Kisses From You’. I had to have this album because Masterplan with Jorn Lande on vocals is a superb band and this CD is in the running for 2010 Album of the Year easily. Saved $0 (I actually spent a little extra!).

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony & Angel Of Babylon box set (2010) – $23: The last installment of CD Scavenger Hunt was the “Buyer Be Aware” edition and I recalled a couple of quick purchases that I didn’t properly think through. I bought THE WICKED SYMPHONY but didn’t want to wait for ANGEL OF BABYLON so I returned it when i saw this limited edition box set for a $20 BUY IT NOW. The seller basically bought it, uploaded it to iTunes and put it on Ebay. This was a steal for me because I have seen this box set going for $50+ at online shops…..you get the limited edition slipcase and booklet, both album in digipak and codes for downloadable content. This was basically a used copy and when I got it in the mail, the packaging was shoddy so the slipcase got bent. The CDs and booklet are mint so I can live with a couple creases to the slipcase…..even though my OCD kicks in everytime I see it! Saved $30 compared with online retailers and free shipping.

Newbury Comics

Iced Earth – Box Of the Wicked (2010) – $28: I have been a big Iced Earth fan since THE DARK SAGA (1996) and I try to collect all the singles and albums to keep the collection up to date. I didn’t really get into the post-Matt Barlow era starting with FRAMING ARMAGEDDON (2007) and I neglected buying a couple of the singles. When I saw this box announced, I wanted it! It includes both FRAMING ARMAGEDDON and THE CRUCIBLE OF MAN (2008), the OVERTURE OF THE WICKED single (4 songs) and the I WALK AMONG YOU single (3 songs). The bonus CD has 4 tracks with Matt Barlow on vocals, 3 live and a re-recorded version of ‘A Charge To Keep’. So I knock out both singles, replace the promo copy of CRUCIBLE and get a bonus CD. I’m sure there are more bonuses inside but I haven’t opened it yet, I think there’s a poster or something. Regular price was $40 so I saved $12 on sale.

Extreme – Take Us Alive: Boston 2009 (2010) – $14 CD and $15 DVD: Extreme has always been one of my bands and always a local favorite here in rhode Island. I was trying to attend this show last summer but some things came up and I couldn’t make it. Now I get to find out what I missed! I bought both the CD and the DVD so I had the full documentation. They are identical performances but the DVD has four extra videoclips. Compared to online stores, the sale prices at Newbury Comics were really good. Regular price for the CD was $18 and the DVD was $20 so I saved a total of $9 for both.

Triumph – Greatest Hits Remixed (CD/DVD set) (2010) – $12: Can’t beat a 14 song greatest hits CD with a 14 video DVD that includes the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame induction. That’s a lot of music for $12! I don’t have much Triumph in my collection, something I need to fix quickly, so this greatest hits compilation is a good starting point. The other thing is that the guys in Triumph are always up to date on current technology and Gil Moore and Mike Levine own their own studio so you know the quality here is top of the line! Regular price was $16, saved $4.

Exodus – Exhibit B: The Human Condition (2010) – $10: I love old Exodus but I haven’t really kept up with the band since Rob Dukes took over the vocals in 2005. I always mean to pick up a few of those albums but I just never seem to get around it but I saw the sale price on the new album and I figured it was about time I gave Exodus another shot. The extra good news is that I can pick up the albums I’m missing used for around $7-$8 each. Regular price was $16, saved $6.

Stephen Pearcy – Under My Skin (2008) – $7 used: I’m a big Ratt fan but I haven’t really gone out of my way to pick up all of Stephen Pearcy’s solo work. I have all the Ratt and Arcade albums, I have Vertex and Vicious Delite but I have neglected the actual solo albums…..another problem I need to fix in the collection! UNDER MY SKIN was Pearcy’s last solo record before the Ratt reunion and it was a cheap $7 for a used copy so this was a no-brainer, I saved at least $8 compared to a regular priced CD.

Eddie Ojeda – Axes 2 Axes (2006) – $4: I love a great bargain and that’s exactly what I got with this Eddie Ojeda solo record. Ojeda released this album hot on the heels of Twisted Sister’s success with A TWISTED CHRISTMAS (2006) but I never bothered to grab it because the reviews I read were all bad. There has been a sealed copy of this album at the record store for months at the $16 regular price, somehow this used copy landed right in front of it last week. Saved $12.

Mail

Tempest – Hard Night (1996) – $15: I did an Ebay Madness post that featured this CD way back in mid-October 2007. Back almost three years ago, this CD went for $185.50 on Ebay and it was one of the highest priced indies that I had never even heard about. Who was Tempest? What year was the album recorded? Where are they from? What is the music like? At the beginning of the year, Alan Hicks (Tempest guitarist) got in touch with me about the post and we got to talking about the band and CD. Alan was nice enough to offer me an extra sealed copy of this album for what the band used to charge at shows…..$15. Compared to the $185, Alan saved me $170! I just want to take the time here to thank Alan for the CD and point out his current band Alice Sweet Alice, who have an album that can be downloaded at their website. Thanks again Alan!

Total = $145

Total (year) = $685

Average price (per item) = $10.07

Total CDs (year) = 63

Total DVDs (year) = 2

Total Box Sets (year) = 2

Total LPs (year) = 1

CD Scavenger Hunt – “Buyer Be Aware” edition

You didn’t misread the title, this is going to be the “Buyer Be Aware” edition, not “buyer beware”. What I am going to update you all on is my pure, single-minded boneheadedness when it came to CD shopping this past Tuesday at the local record store. I was not thinking when I bought my two CDs, I was enamored by the sale price and the single copies of each, and I bought the wrong versions. I need to be more AWARE when I am making purchases!

Judas Priest – British Steel (30th Anniversary Edition) (2010) – $14: My main reason for going to the record store was to pick up the new BRITISH STEEL reissue at a good sale price. When I got to the store, there was only one copy left so I snatched it up right away. What I picked up was the two disc version…..the remastered CD and the live DVD with bonus interview. I knew that initital press releases stated that this release was a three CD set that included the remaster album, the DVD and an audio CD of the DVD performance. That’s the version I wanted but I figured that plans changed at the label and they released the album without the live CD. I even asked at the people at the counter and I was told that was the only version released, so I bought it. Then I went home and double checked everything. A friend of mine in Germany has the 3 disc version so I did more research and it turns out that the super deluxe set with the live disc comes out May 25th!

Avantasia – The Wicked Symphony (2010) – $10: One my favorite albums, and my 2008 Album of the Year, is Avanatasia’s THE SCARECROW. Actually, I love all the Avantasia albums so when I read that Avantasia was releasing two new records this year, I was buying them as soon as they came out. I held off on buying this CD on previous trips to the record store because the second record, and part two of the concept, ANGEL OF BABYLON hadn’t been released in the U.S. yet. Not really wanting half of the new metal opera, I waited. I went online and found the super deluxe edition box set of both CDs but it was way too pricey so when I went back to the store for the Priest reissue, I grabbed the lone copy of THE WICKED SYMPHONY. One copy and $6 off regular price? A no-brainer of a purchase and I figured that I could get ANGEL OF BABYLON at the same sale price in mid-June when it’s released in the U.S. Of course, then I went home and found an email alert from Ebay with a newly listed deluxe box set at an extremely cheap price ($20). I pulled the trigger with BUY IT NOW (I will list that purchase in the next update when I have it in my hands).

So now I have the wrong versions of two CDs, actually just one wrong version because I won’t need the Avantasia CD if I have the deluxe box set. My plan? Lucky for me I am completely anal when it comes to CD shopping and I keep all my receipts until the end of the year (I do this with everything!) so I am taking back both discs and returning them. They are intact, I never unwrapped them, so I have a credit coming my way of $24 + tax. The only way I don’t return the Avantasia CD is if the box set on it’s way is a Baltic/Russian pressing. Even though Baltic/Russian pressings are legit for that region and well made, they can be bought cheaper and sold higher for maximum profits by sellers in a black market sort of way. Ebay is full of Russian pressings and not many sellers let you know. I’m not sure if it’s a black market type of thing but most collectors frown upon these pressings even though they are licensed for that part of the world. I have asked the seller if it’s a Russian pressing and I haven’t received an answer yet but I couldn’t pass up the $20 BUY IT NOW because someone else surely would have grabbed it.

Another update is coming…..

CD Scavenger Hunt – 4/7/09

Another week, another trip to the record store. I mixed it up this week and went to the Newbury Comics in Warwirck, RI (about 25 mins from home) because I hadn’t been there in months. I had spent the better part of Monday and Tuesday curled up on the couch suffering from spring time allergies so my wife decided the only way to break the cycle was to get me out of the house. We ate a quick dinner, piled the kids in the car, and headed down I-95 to Warwick.

Now if you’re a true Rhode Islander then you know that if something isn’t within a 10 minute radius from home, it’s not worth going out. I used to go to the Warwick Newbury Comics twice a week for years but, when they opened the North Attleboro store (10 mins from home!), I stopped going. What’s been killing me about the North Attleboro location is the lack of selection. Don’t get me wrong, they stock more Hard Rock and Metal than your average big box retailer but there is still a lack of variety. Previous hunts have seen me get shut out of some newer releases because only 1 or 2 copies were ordered so I figured that checking out the Warwick location would turn up a couple of gems. It did…..

My wife was kind enough to drop my oldest daughter and me off while she took our youngest to do the errands she needed to do, we had a full hour to scrounge used bins and go through all the regular priced CDs for bargains. I must say, the selection is much better in Warwick as I found all the new releases I missed out on like the new Ian Gillan CD and the limited edition Saga – LIVE IN MUNICH 2 CD/2 DVD set. I started at “A” and worked my way around the racks while my daughter grabbed a Motorhead t-shirt that she begged me to buy (and I did!). Nothing like a 10 yr. old begging for a Motorhead shirt…..reminds me of me when I was 10! I took a look around and found the new Ian Gillan album for $10 and the Saga limited edition for $25 so I grabbed those and a couple of other bargains right away.

My strategy has remained the same for years: grab all the CDs you want, get all the bargains, and then sit down in a corner of the store and decide which ones you want the most. This serves me well because there’s nothing worse than seeing an album, passing on it, and then coming back 15 minutes later to find someone bought it! Sometimes I have to decide between 20 CDs and bring it down to a better financial number. Anyway, here’s what I bought this week…..

avantasia_-_the_metal_operaAvantasia – The Metal Opera (2001) – $10: Seems weird that for a guy who had Avantasia – The Scarecrow as his #1 album of 2008 to NOT have the first two Avantasia albums. I picked up Part 1 of THE METAL OPERA in the regular CDs with an old sale sticker on it for $9.99, all the other copies were $14.99! I wasn’t passing up the bargain and this was high on my want list. I put the Ian Gillan disc back, there were 3 copies and I figured it would be there next week.

avantasia-the-metal-opera-part-iiAvantasia – The Metal Opera (Part II) (2002) – $8 used: If your going to buy Part 1, shouldn’t you also buy Part 2? There were plenty of copies in the regular CD rack for $14.99 each so I grabbed one figuring I got lucky with the sale price on Part 1. When I got to the used section, I was surprised to find 3 copies of Part 2 all for $7.99. I grabbed one of the used copies, checked the CD for scratches, and put the regular CD back in it’s rightful place.

scorpions-live-at-wacken-2006-dvdScorpions – Live At Wacken Open Air 2006 DVD (2007) – $25: Take a look at that price…..there’s 26 tracks on the DVD so it came out to $1 per song after tax! I’ve only seen one copy of this DVD in the last two years and I passed on it because of the high price tag. I noticed that the price tag’s date was last Tuesday so I figured that either an astute store clerk decided they needed to stock it or it was ordered for a customer and they never picked it up. I wasn’t taking any chances, I grabbed it and put the Saga set back!

I also grabbed a CD and a couple LPs off Ebay…..

tygers-of-pan-tang-animal-instinctTygers Of Pan Tang – Animal Instinct (2008) – $18: Opening bid on this CD was $9.99 and it was for the Japanese pressing with the 3 bonus tracks. The bonus tracks are from the BACK & BEYOND E.P. (2007) that the band released through their website. There has been a copy of the European version for months at the local shop but I wanted the extra tracks because the E.P. is out of print. The 3 songs are re-recorded versions of ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Man’, ‘Take It’ and ‘Hellbound’ from 1980-1981, the other 2 songs from the E.P. are part of the proper ANIMAL INSTINCT record, ‘Bury the Hatchet’ and ‘Live For The Day’. I won the CD for $10 and the shipping from Japan was $8 registered. This takes ANIMAL INSTINCT off the WANTED! list.

savage-grace-master-of-disguiseSavage Grace – Master Of Disguise (1985) – $16: I grabbed this LP for $12.50 + $3.50 shipping. I bought it last weekend and it arrived today, a nice near mint copy of the sleeve and a mint vinyl. I’m not really sure how I got this album so cheap because copies have been flying off Ebay lately at $30+ for VG/VG+. This takes MASTER OF DISGUISE off the WANTED list.

armed-force-heavy-artilleryArmed Force – Heavy Artillery (1986) – $22: Armed Forces is the same band that released LET THERE BE METAL (1984) but under the name Armed Forces. I picked up LET THERE BE METAL already so I figured I’d get the other album by the band too. Same seller as the Savage Grace LP but I won it for $18.50. Again, another near mint sleeve and a perfect vinyl.

CD Scavenger Hunt – Last Week’s purchases

The buying spree continued last week both in-store and on Ebay with some very good bargains and sale prices. I ended up visiting one of the local Circuit City stores that are going out of business and CDs were 40% off but selection was very slim, I ended up supplementing that visit with a stop at Newbury Comics for some new releases……

Circuit City

Black Tide - Light From Above (2008)Black Tide – Light From Above (2008) – $6: I already have this CD but it’s a CDR promo I received for review purposes (I have a digital copy also) so I really wanted the original CD. I really enjoyed the album and it made my Top 30 Albums of 2008 at #29 but I never got around to actually buying it. There were at least 20 copies of this album in the Circuit City racks for $10 but the 40% off really made the sale. The cool thing was that the guy standing next to me in the CD section saw me pick this up and he grabbed one too, he mentioned that he had it on his list to buy also. I ended up recommending a couple other albums to him and I ended up seeing him again later at Newbury Comics!

blackstonecherryfolkloreBlack Stone Cherry – Folklore And Superstition (2008) – $7.80: I never got around to picking up Black Stone Cherry’s sophomore effort despite all the great reviews I read throughout 2008. I really enjoyed the debut but I always found something else to buy when I had this CD in hand. This was another one of the bargains at 40% off that was regularly priced at $13. There were a lot of copies left in the racks so if anyone is in the North Attleboro, MA area, go get one!

Newbury Comics

3-inches-of-blood-battlecry3 Inches Of Blood – Battlecry Under A Winter Sun (2009 reissue) – $9.99: I have become a really big 3 Inches Of Blood fan in the last couple of years and I have spent that time searching for this CD. Unfortunately, the original version on Minion Music is long out of print and the band cut a deal with Sonic Unyon and Caroline Distribution to get their debut re-released in North America. To make the new edition a little special, the band included 4 bonus tracks that were previously unavailable outside Europe. Well worth the sale price and another Cd off the Want List!

avantasia-lost-in-space-part-1-and-2Avantasia – Lost In Space Parts 1 & 2 (2009 reissue) – $11.88: Avantasia has become one of my favorite concept projects and I have been trying to track down both LOST IN SPACE E.P.s at decent prices. The problem has been that most of the prices are extremely high because they were European only releases, even Ebay has been high priced. I had no idea this was coming out and I was psyched when I saw this CD stocked next to 3 Inches Of Blood in the “New Release” section. Avantasia/Edguy mainman Tobias Sammet dropped in a bonus track for this release with an extended version of ‘Lost In Space’.

grave-digger-pray-epGrave Digger – Pray E.P. (2009) – $7: I got shut out two weeks ago when I specifically went to the store to pick this up, there are a few metalheads out there like me that actually show up BEFORE the doors open on a Tuesday. I was a little late that week so I waited for a re-stock and I was able to get the only copy they had last week AND the sale price from the initial release date. It drives me insane when bands release an E.P. before a new album release because there is usually only one exclusive track to the E.P., PRAY has 3 non-album tracks and an extended version of ‘Pray’…..not too bad for 7 bucks.

ted-nugent-cravemanTed Nugent – Craveman (2002) – $4 used: I love the Motor City Madman and I think I’ve seen him more times in concert than any other band except for KISS and maybe Aerosmith. Of course, everytime I’ve seen him it’s been as an opening act for both bands so I think the total is up to 7 or 8. I never picked up CRAVEMAN when it came out and it’s been on the Want List for a long time. There are always those albums that you mena to buy, never do, and then when you want them you need to spend as little as possible. I’ve seen this over the years but always around $15 brand new, finding this used for 4 bucks is a steal!

38-special-rockin-into-the-night.38 Special – Rockin’ Into The Night (1979) – $4 used: I like me some Southern Rock and .38 Special has been a favorite of mine since I heard ‘Hold On Loosely’ (from WILD-EYED SOUTHERN BOYS) back in 1981. I don’t know what it is about .38 Special but I always make sure I look at their section for a couple of the missing albums I need. Never heard any of the tracks except the hit title track but I know the overall .38 Special sound and I’m sure it follows the triple guitar/dual drum kit, country-fried Classic Rock that they are well known for.

Ebay (prices include shipping)

WASP - Dying For The World (2002)W.A.S.P. – Dying For The World (2002) – $5.35: This has been on the WANTED! list for a long time and I have had opportunities to grab this CD but the price was always too high. I don’t know what it is really but I have this thing where if a CD is a few years old then I expect to buy it at a used or discounted price. A lot of people have emailed me to tell me that this album is really good but I think DYING FOR THE WORLD just had a bad slot in between HELLDORADO (1999) and the two NEON GOD albums (2004). The weird thing is I picked up UNHOLY TERROR (2001) and loved it so I think I just could have been in an non-W.A.S.P. phase. This completes my W.A.S.P. collection…..

torch-self-titledTorch – s/t (1983) – $22.50: This one got a little expensive because I got into a bidding war in the last hour. The good news is that the average ending price at auction hovered around $20-$30 in the last couple of months so I really paid a decent price. I remember a few years ago I was trying to grab this one on Ebay and I wouldn’t go over $15 for it and I left it on my Want List. I already have the Torch E.P. (1982) on CD and the only release that eludes me from completing this Swedish Metal band’s discography is their 1984 release ELECTRIKISS.

gammaray_theawesomeGamma Ray - Hell Yeah! The Awesome Foursome – Live In Montreal (2008) – $8: I already had the 2 DVD set so getting the companion double live CD just keeps the gamma ray collection up to date. I really had no intention of even buying this CD but I noticed that my favorite Ebay seller had this up for auction, brand new and starting at $5. I high bid to $10 but no one even challenged my bid and I ended up winning for $5. A 2 CD set for $5? Bargain city!

armed-forces-let-there-be-metalArmed Forces – Let There Be Metal (1984) – $9: I just posted this album in my WANTED column yesterday and I decided to blow the last $10 in my Paypal account on it. It was either this album or ELECTRIKISS and LET THERE BE METAL was the cheaper decision at $5 BUY IT NOW for a near mint vinyl. Another deciding factor was that the seller of this album answered all my questions right away whereas the seller of ELECTRIKISS has ignored my question for about two weeks. I figure that the Torch record will be there next time…..I can finally say that I actually own this album after 25 years of procrastination!

The Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15)

2008 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 buy a lot of music but the failing economy took it’s toll on my music budget. I was very lucky to have caught the attention of 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.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. The ranking of the Top 30 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 doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into two posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15):

#1

Avantasia - The Scarecrow (2008)Avantasia – The Scarecrow

Tobias Sammet (Edguy) has the magic touch this year and his new concept album THE SCARECROW takes the top spot as Album Of The Year. The album is similar to the first two Avantasia albums, METAL OPERA 1 & 2, in that it is full of guest stars (Alice Cooper, Jorn Lande, Rudolf Schenker, Michael Kiske, Eric Singer, and more) performing  this combination of epic Power Metal blended with hard Rock, Classic Rock, Classical and Folk. That’s a lot to take in at once! Every song is very melodic and I found myself easily singing along after a couple of spins. A good album is one that leaves a lasting impression and THE SCARECROW has been part of my weekly playlist since it’s release in January.

#2

Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)Ayreon – 01011001

A close second! Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Ayreon project is similar to Avantasia with all of the guest stars performing and the epic nature of the music. The difference is that Ayreon’s music is longer, more epic and follows a storyline that started on previous albums. (For a good explanation of the plot, read this album’s Wikipedia page.) This album is almost 2 hours of Progressive Rock & Metal, Power Metal, and Symphonic Metal that is both melodic and heavy…..there is a lot to take in! Even the packaging is complex! There are layers of sound in each song that you sometimes here something different the next time you here it. 01011001 is a little less accessible than THE SCARECROW due to it’s length (2 CDs) and heavy concept but it was a very close second. So close in fact that I almost called a tie!

#3

whitesnakegood_to_be_badWhitesnake – Good To Be Bad

It took 11 years but we finally got a new Whitesnake record and it is a great comeback for David Coverdale. Most of the album retains the Blues Rock that was the basis of the early Whitesnake album while leaning on that big ’80s sound. The songs are full of hooks and great guitar work (Doug Aldrich & Reb Beach) along with that thick Coverdale voice. I had seen the band tour with the Scorpions a couple of years earlier and they were awesome in concert. I knew a new record would have a great sound. It was also good to see this album get a ton of promotion, especially on U.S. television, I didn’t expect to see constant commercials on different channels advertising the CD. In a year full of comebacks (AC/DC, Guns N Roses, Journey), I have to give Whitesnake the best comeback of the year!

#4

Judas Priest - Nostradamus (2008)Judas Priest – Nostradamus

Let the debate begin! Of all the big releases this year from big time bands, no album had more debate then Judas Priest’s double concept album NOSTRADAMUS. I’ve heard all the arguements from “it’s not straight forward Judas Priest” to “it’s too long” to “the concept sucks” to “Iron Maiden could have done it better”…..I think a lot of fans were down on the project due to purely nostalgic reasons. We aren’t going to get the BRITISH STEEL era Judas Priest because they have evolved as musicians and this concept album is what they wanted to do. I’ll admit that Priest isn’t known for their albums being complete epics, they’re more straight forward in their approach, but that doesn’t mean that NOSTRADAMUS is devoid of what makes Priest great. Half the album is instrumental intros that kind of make the album drawn out but the songs do have the Metal that Priest is known for. Rob Halford’s voice sounds better than it has in years and he puts in perhaps the performance of his career. The music is really good if you listen without prejudice and I don’t want to get into that synth guitar arguement because KK Downing & Glenn Tipton have been using them all along. Give NOSTRADAMUS a spin without hoping for 1980 Judas Priest and you will find a great album. This album was tough to get through due to the length (close to 2 hours) but repeated listens have pushed this album from a grower to #4.

#5

Royal Hunt - Collision Course - Paradox II Royal Hunt – Collision Course: Paradox II

This has to be the year of the concept album because the latest offering from Royal Hunt is the 4th concept album in the Top 5! Let’s not even get into the conceptual aspect, the music alone is melodic Power/Progressive Metal with solid musicianship and  great vocal performance from new singer Mark Boals. The last few Royal Hunt albums have been disappointing but COLLISION COURSE proves that the band is still a force. I was surprised at how melodic this album really is because some of the band’s previous efforts were held down by too much keyboard noodling, I think adding Mark Boals to the band adds a fresh influence and creativity.

#6

cover_globaldramaCloudscape – Global Drama

Like the entire Top 5, GLOBAL DRAMA has remained part of my weekly playlist since it’s release. I’ve had the album since late July and I just keep playing it…..that’s the sign of a good record! Cloudscape is a Progressive Metal band but they are very melodic (like Royal Hunt) while retaining their heaviness. The first couple of spins made me think of Kamelot, Balance Of Power and Symphony X…..that’s a good group to be in. Cloudscape was on my list to check out and now they are one of the best newer bands I’ve heard in a long time, I’m currently on the hunt for the band’s previous albums.

#7

msg-in-the-midst-of-beauty-2008Michael Schenker Group – In The Midst Of Beauty

When guitar legend Michael Schenker puts his head down and stays focused, he makes truly great records. There is no denying his talent on guitar but his career has been plagued with different challenges and the subsequent results aren’t always the best musically. IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY is an almost full reunion of the original MSG: Gary Barden is back on the mic, Don Airey on keys, Simon Phillips on drums and Neil Murray handling bass instead of Mo Foster. That’s as solid a lineup as you’re going to get and I think the strong supporting cast influenced Michael because he created some of the best music of his career, it’s as if you can hear Michael’s happiness in his playing. The album is melodic and heavy with a ton of riffs for the guitar enthusiast but the music is enhanced by that cool Hammond organ Airey commands giving the album a late ’70s/early ’80s sound, almost like classic UFO. If Whitesnake was my comeback of the year then Michael Schenker is a close second.

#8

Journey Revelation (2008) Journey – Revelation

If there ever was a band that described AOR/Melodic Rock then Journey is that band. The last couple of years have been trying for the band with all the rotation at the lead singer slot (Steve Augeri, Jeff Scott Soto) but the band grabbed a virtual unknown, Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, and made an album that is pure classic Journey. Melodic Rock at it’s finest, Journey’s new songs are full of harmonies, good melodies, soaring vocals and really good guitar. Let me add they are also well written and produced too. The band new that another new lead singer would be a gamble but Pineda puts on a great performance that is on par with Steve Perry’s legacy. There was also great value here with a second disc of re-recorded greatest hits and a bonus live DVD…..you can’t beat that for $15! All year long I have been saying that if the music industry wasn’t so screwed up then Journey would have a multi-platinum hit album with REVELATION.

#9

Def Leppard - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (2008)Def Leppard – Songs From the Sparkle Lounge

I know it’s not fashionable to like Def Leppard because they have “sold out” and downplayed their NWOBHM and Hard Rock roots over the years but they do make very good records. SPARKLE LOUNGE is one of those albums that just has that mix of catchy ’80s Hard Rock and current modern Rock that mainstream radio lives for. The music is full of hooks and melody and the songs are all well done except for one repetitive dud (‘C’mon C’mon’). The Leps know how to make a catchy record and this one had me hooked in and singing along. I like the trademark big sound combined with the ’70s influences and modern updates. Def Leppard takes a lot of criticism but they make good music.

#10

moonspell-night-eternal-2008Moonspell – Night Eternal

I wasn’t expecting much from a new Moonspell album but I was completely surprised by NIGHT ETERNAL and it’s variety of sound. Moonspell plays a blend of Black, Death, Gothic and Power Metals all rolled into one with grand orchestration and both clean and harsh vocals. Get all that? The album is dark and heavy but it’s also very melodic and there are some beautiful orchestrations that enhance the overall sound. As I started re-listening to my 2008 CDs to make this Top 30, NIGHT ETERNAL kept creeping closer and closer to the Top 10. I had the promo for a long time but I ended up buying a proper copy at the local shop for around $13 and the value was really good: a bonus track ‘Age Of Mothers’ and a two alternate versions of ‘Scorpion Flower’ along with a bonus DVD of live Wacken 2007 performances. This kind of music isn’t my usual first choice but I expanded my horizons this year and I rediscovered Moonspell.

#11

benedictum-seasons-of-tragedyBenedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy

I’ve had SEASONS OF TRAGEDY since it’s U.S. release in March and it is one of the best Traditional Metal albums of the year. A lot of Metal fans might be thrown off by having a female frontwoman but I can tell you that Veronica Freeman kicks a whole lot of ass on the mic! Her vocals are extremely powerful to go along with the fast pummelling music that’s behind her. This is Benedictum’s second album and they steer clear of the sophomore jinx with an album heavy on Power Metal and Thrash that I can only describe as an aural assault. One of the best new U.S. Metal bands out there.

#12

Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider (2008)Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider

Another concept album making the Top 30? Of course! Especially if it’s an Alice Cooper album! I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan, always have been, and this is one of the best albums he’s released in the last few years. ALONG CAME A SPIDER has a perfect character for Alice to play (a serial killer named Spider) and he adds his own blend of shock, horror and humor to the performance. The one thing that Alice has done successfully with his last few albums is to revisit some of the classic ’70s sounds that made him the king of Shock Rock and he incorporates this sound with enough modern tendencies to make it sound fresh. the concept might not be all that original but Alice plays it perfectly and the songs are all very good with top production.

#13

uriah-heep-wake-the-sleeper-2008Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper

I’ll bet a lot of you are scratching your heads. If you don’t know who Uriah Heep is then you are missing out, the band has been around for close to 40 years and their sound is similar to Deep Purple but with a bit more Progressive Rock. WAKE THE SLEEPER is the first Heep album in a decade and I wasn’t really expecting much but these elder statesman have roared back with a heavy melodic album. Mick Box still plays a mean guitar and Phil Lanzon adds his Hammond organ in to fill out the sound but the performance of the album goes to long time singer Bernie Shaw who puts in one of the best vocal performances of the year.

#14

shannon-angel-in-disguiseShannon – Angel In Disguise

ANGEL IN DISGUISE turned out to be one of the surprises of 2008. I had the album in my growing pile for a couple of months before I got to it and I wasted all that listening time because the record is top flight melodic Metal. Usually, there are a couple of duds in the tracklisting but each song is well done and has plenty of melodic hooks and Euro-Metal power to satisfy a wide range of Metal fans. It’s always a great year when you discover new bands, Shannon will be a band I watch closely in 2009.

#15

testament-the-formation-of-damnation-2008Testament – The Formation Of Damnation

2008 was the year of the concept album and the year of the comeback and Testament came back in a big way with this pounding Thrash assault. This is the album that we all wish Metallica had in them, it’s an in your face old school Thrash attack by a band that I consider one of the best in the genre but sometimes overlooked. This album is one heavy record that easily blows away a lot of modern Thrash out in the last couple of years.

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Please check out the Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16-#30) for the other half of my Top 30 list.

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In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2008:

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hair Metal Mansion

Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
Metal Excess

The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages

Vacation Playlist – 8/31 thru 9/7

I’m back from a quick vacation! I didn’t realize that I had to use some vacation days up quick or I would lose them so i took a quick unscheduled vacation from work. I love being in a union! I decided that I was going to also take the week to get away from my dependence on the Internet and television and just concentrate on listening to music and reading a good book or two. I won’t lie and say I cut both totally out but I did limit my time to an hour for each every day. Sometimes I just need to tune out!

Some other things I did last week involved birthdays, my youngest daughter turned 5 and my mom turned 59 the same day, so there was a birthday barbecue. The return of regular season NFL Football came last Thursday with the reigning champion New York Giants facing the Washington Redskins. As many long time readers know, I’m a New England Patriots season ticket holder so I had the opening regular season game today (I am not discussing Tom Brady’s injury at this time), so I tried out a few new recipes on the grill for the pre-game tailgate in the parking lot. Add my 4 hour fantasy football draft Saturday morning and you can see that I may have been on vacation but I still had a lot going on!

I spent a lot of time with new albums and live albums this past week. I have to catch up on reviews and I want to do a “live album week” at the end of the month so I pulled out a few candidates for those reviews.

Metal Church – This Present Wasteland (2008)
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (2008)
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008)
Cloudscape – Global Drama (2008)
Maiden Heaven: A Kerrang! Tribute To Iron Maiden (2008)
Venom – Hell (2008)
Motorhead – Motorizer (2008)
Ayreon – 01011001 (2008)
Royal Hunt – Collision Course – Paradox II (2008)
Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008)
Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008)

These are the new albums that I have been rgiving serious rotation to the last couple of weeks. I’ve never really taken Avantasia and Judas Priest out of my weekly playlist, same goes for the new Ayreon but I’ve given it just a little more focus because there is so much to hear. The new albums from Royal Hunt, Motorhead, Cloudscape and Alice Cooper are all very good and I haven’t stopped enjoying them. I just picked up the new Venom recently (along with something else I know I’m forgetting, watch for an update on my purchases soon) and it’s…..well, Venom! Venom and Motorhead are so much alike in that they do the same thing over and over. Most of my listening went to advances of the new Iced Earth and Metal Church that I’ve had a few weeks now…..I’m preparing the Iced Earth review for this week, Metal Church next week.

KISS – Alive! (1975)
KISS – Alive II (1977)
Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985)
Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985)
UFO – Strangers In The Night (1979)
UFO – Werewolves Of London: Live In Wolverhampton 1998 (1999)
Royal Hunt – Live In Japan 1996 (1996)
Michael Schenker Group – Live Unforgiven World Tour (1999)
Black Sabbath – Live Evil (1982)
Black Sabbath – Reunion (1998)
Queen – Live At Wembley ’86 (1992)
Queen – On Fire: Live At The Bowl ’82 (2004)
Judas Priest – Priest In The East (1979)
Judas Priest – Priest…..Live! (1987)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed (1982)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.2 (1998)
Saxon – The Eagle Has Landed Pt.3 (2006)
Krokus – Alive & Screamin’ (1986)
Jeff Scott Soto – Live At The Gods (2003)

That’s a pretty good list of live albums! Some of these albums were instrumental in my discovering studio albums from the bands, some were important in my understanding of different eras of the bands, but all of them had a profound influence on me. The first two KISS ALIVE albums are cornerstones of my love for Heavy Metal and KISS but I would also have to put LIVE AFTER DEATH and WORLD WIDE LIVE right there with them because they were cassettes I played to death back when I was kid. I should probably add the Krokus and Judas Priest live records to that list too.

I did a lot of comparisons: PRIEST IN THE EAST vs. PRIEST…..LIVE!, LIVE EVIL vs. REUNION, all 3 Saxon live albums. Some are no brainers so I expect everyone to comment how bad PRIEST…..LIVE! & REUNION are to two all-time classic live albums. Some of these albums like the UFO records, the Royal Hunt, MSG and Jeff Scott Soto have become favorites over the years and you can’t dispute Queen’s legacy in the live arena. My plan for the “live album week” is to pick 7 out of this list, or maybe pick 6 and throw in a surprise, for reviews and memories.

Vacation is over! Back to work…..

Well, vacation is over and I’m heading back to work this afternoon. How depressing!

It was a nice quiet 7 days off from work with the family. We went to the shore a couple of times and did a few other things but the main thing was that I got to relax. I did some things around the house and spent time with the kids without being exhausted but the thing I did for myself was catch up on some music.

Here’s a few albums I listened to on vacation, I didn’t keep a list but I pulled out a ton from my collection:

The Who – Tommy (1969): A legendary band, a legendary album. I happened to hear a block of three TOMMY songs on one of the classic rock radio stations so I pulled this out for a few spins.

Billy Joel – The Stranger (1977/2008 deluxe reissue): More Classic Rock! I picked this up last Tuesday when it came out (more on that when I post a Hunt!) and I have been listening ever since. My wife and I went to the Billy Joel concert on July 3rd so I’m still on a bit of a Billy Joel kick.

Judas Priest – Nostradamus (2008): The album that will not go away! I keep listening and finding something new but it’s still a long listen at close to 2 hours over two CDs. I’m trying to get ready for a review but there is so much music, and Priest is my second favorite band, that I want to give the album a lot of time.

Motley Crue – Saints Of Los Angeles (2008): One of the biggest releases of the year and I’m definitely still listening. There’s plenty of good songs here but I’ve had to hit the “skip” button on a few songs.

Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008): So far, my album of the year. Tobias Sammet has really created a masterpiece project with Avantasia, something that was supposed to be a side project that’s now as big as his main band, Edguy. Best song is the Alice Cooper sung ‘The Toy Master’.

Rogue Male – First Visit (1985) and Animal Man (1986): Both of these are reissues from Metal Mind Productions and I have been giving both CDs some serious time. I haven’t heard FIRST VISIT in about 20 years! Reviews coming…..

TKO – Let It Roll (1979) and In Your Face (1984): These two albums are officially reissued CDs from Tribunal Records with tons of bonus tracks. Another time travel back to my early days because I haven’t heard IN YOUR FACE in over 20 years too! I always meant to pick up the vinyl on Ebay but Tribunal has done a solid job with the reissues. Look for reviews soon…..

Temujin – 1000 Tears (2008): The band was nice enough to pass a copy along for review and I have to admit, I was surprised by the excellent music. I had never heard of Temujin but I know them now! The music is like MANDYLION-era and NIGHTTIME BIRDS-era The Gathering with a little Lacuna Coil in there.

Infernophonic – Spark It Up (2007): Another solid Hard Rock band i missed out on in 2007. Solid album, review soon.

Benedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy (2008): It’s a really good album but I think their frist record, UNCREATION (2006), is better. I’m still enjoying it though.

Gene Simmons – Asshole (2004): I was picking through my KISS related albums and I decided that this deserved it’s annual spin to see if it’s as bad as I remembered. Unfortunately, this is just a bad album with maybe one or two songs I like. This ties with Peter Criss – One For All (2007) as the worst KISS related album ever.

Paul Stanley – Live To Win (2006): I had to pull this out to compare it to Gene’s album…..light years better! I haven’t given this a spin in a while but it’s obvious who the true creative force is behind KISS.

Griffen – Linked In Eternity (2008): Just reviewed this one and I thought it was great. Only a 5 song demo but professionally done and very cool to listen to.

There were so many more albums that I pulled from my collection that I hadn’t heard fro a long time. I started to pull out different albums from Ratt, Dokken, Scorpions, Alice Cooper, Megadeth, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, UFO, ZZ Top, and Bruce Dickinson solo. I listened to a few live albums as well from KISS, Maiden, Priest, UFO, Sabbath, Royal Hunt, Motley Crue, Scorpions, Triumph because I want to do a “live album week” in the next couple of months.

It was a great week of music!

Current Playlist

The CDs are piling up but I’ve been under the weather with allergies and the flu so Music hasn’t been the priority. I have listened to a few CDs lately, mostly stuff that has been in rotation for a few weeks…..

Tank – The Filth Hounds Of Hades: Dogs Of War (1981-2002) box set (2007): This has been an exciting box set for me. I’m a huge New Wave Of British Heavy Metal fan and I only had a few Tank albums to my collection. All six Tank studio records are here, plus two live albums, and a live DVD. This has been taking up much time because I want to review it…..eventually!

After Forever – s/t (2007): I’m still enjoying this album even after close to three months. I enjoy the epic/symphonic/gothic Metal with the clean female vocals and death style male growls. I’m going to have to track down the rest of the band’s catalog.

Night Sun – Mournin’ (1972): I’d better spin this after all the hassle I had with it — hadit, lost it, searched for it, gave up, and then got it in the mail so I never had it to begin with. The mind plays tricks! I will eventually write this one up too.

Iron Maiden – (all Bruce era albums): Just ordered my Maiden tickets for June at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA so I am really on a Maiden kick. Last month, I was spinning a lot of D’ianno & Blaze Bayley albums to mix it up but it’s all about Bruce now. The focus has been on NUMBER OF THE BEAST thru FEAR OF THE DARK but I have also revisited all the current albums too. Up the Irons!

Helix – The Power Of Rock And Roll (2007): I missed this album in 2007 but I bought it at the beginning of 2008. Straight up Hard Rock that would easily have made my Top 15 of 2007 if I bought it in 2007. If I expanded to a Top 20 or 25, this would be in there.

Sebastian Bach – Angel Down (2007): This CD made the 5 Worst Albums of 2007 and I wanted to go back and give a fresh listen. I’m still not digging the down-tuned production and growling vocals but I have found more to like than I did originally. I stand by my ranking though, it’s still a major disappointment.

Journey – Arrival (2000): This was Journey’s comeback record with Steve Augeri (ex-Tall Stories) at the mic and Deen Castronovo (ex-Wild Dogs) on drums. Probably one of the most underrated records of 2000, this is a perfect slab of AOR and sits nicely with all the classic Steve Perry era albums. I saw the tour that summer…..excellent.

Black Tide – Light From Above (2008): Put these guys in with Airbourne and Endeverafter as true leaders of the next wave of good Hard Rock & Metal. I admit that I was surprised at how good this record was coming from a brand new band. Review this week!

Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008): Tobias Sammet really puts together solid albums for Edguy and Avantasia is a solid side project that has taken a life of it’s own three albums in. There’s a lot to listen to hear but the Alice Cooper track is my favorite so far.

The Bangkok Five – We Love What Kills Us (2008): I got sent a promo CDR of this forthcoming album and I listened to it all day yesterday so I could write a review. It’s only five songs, so it’s more like an E.P. instead of a full-length LP. I listened over and over again but my initial reaction to it hasn’t been good. Not my style but kids that enjoy current popular Rock trends might like it.

CD Scavenger Hunt – Two week update

I may have disappeared from writing but definitely not from BUYING! I’ve had to hit the stores and Ebay to pick up some mandatory new releases and I won a CD that I needed to add to my collection. This is two weeks worth of hitting the stores, it’s a small list but definitely big on quality!

Brainstorm - Downburst (2008)Brainstorm – Downburst (2008) – $10: Good thing comes to those who wait! I tried to pick this up the day of release two weeks ago but the local shop only stocked one copy. I didn’t understand this because it’s a Metal Blade release and they are usually well-stocked. I still got the sale price because there were two price tags and I asked for the lower one. Saved $5!

Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)Ayreon – 01011001 (2008) – $18: When Arjen Anthony Lucassen puts together an Ayreon project, it’s usually one of the best releases of the year. I got into Ayreon late but I’ve started to go back and collect all the back catalogue, it’s hard to find all the limited editions with the bonuses. This album had 3 versions: the regular 2 CD version, the limited edition 2 CD & DVD in a small box, and the deluxe edition with the 2 CDs, DVD, and expanded booklet in a special case. I opted for the limited edition at $18 so I could have the special DVD. I would have paid for the deluxe edition but the extra $12 was all for packaging. I know this will compete for Album of the Year on many lists.

Avantasia - The Scarecrow (2008)Avantasia – The Scarecrow (2008) – $10: Edguy’s Tobias Sammet really has a great side project in Avantasia. Another concept project chock full of guests, kind of like Ayreon, I’ve been lookin forward to this release for a while. What I find interesting is that there were over ten copies of this stocked at the local shop. Either Avantasia is a huge seller in Rhode Island or the person doing the ordering is a huge fan! Actually, the guy running the Metal section is a big fan and I was able to listen to most of the album while browsing.

Iron Maiden - Live After Death DVD (2008)Iron Maiden – Live After Death DVD (2008) – $14: This is an absolute must fave DVD! I have been waiting for this to be released for years, I had a copy of the VHS a friend made me but that died years ago. Disc 1 is the original concert. Disc 2 has the History of Maiden Pt.2, the documentary Behind the Iron Curtain, Rock In Rio ’85, and a 15 minute ‘Ello Texas. Maiden really knows how to put together a DVD package because this is way over five hours of classic footage. This DVD will be hard to take from the #1 spot of my Top DVDs of 2008 in December. I think I’ve watched it four times already!

Dio - Intermission (1986)Dio – Intermission (1986) – $15: Picked this up from a great seller on Ebay that I’ve dealt with many times. This is a Japanese pressing of Intermission and is in mint condition. There are more than a few copies on Ebay but they have prices in the $20+ range for the regular release, I got a deal of the Japanese import. The CD was $10 and the shipping $5, very affordable from Japan. This purchase takes Intermission off the WANTED list.