The 5 Worst Albums of 2008

2008 was another banner year for new albums, bands from all different genres of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal released good albums this year and I was on the frontlines buying them up as they came out. There were definitely some bad ones too and I picked up a few of them over the course of the year also. Some releases were just plain bad, some were huge disappointments, some I just couldn’t stand…..so here is my list of The 5 Worst Albums of 2008:

#1

engelabsolutedesignEngel – Absolute Design

An easy choice for 2008’s worst album. This was supposed to be a combination of Industrial and Melodic Death Metal and all that came out of it was a Nu-Metal sound. Once I heard the trendy down-tuned guitars, the synth and the samples I knew I wouldn’t like it. Think Ozzfest bands like Linkin Park, Papa Roach & Korn minus the raps…..plain awful!

#2

bretmichaelsrockmyworldBret Michaels – Rock My World

This is not a “real” new album. Of the 12 tracks, only three were brand new songs, the rest came from previous Bret solo records. So why does it get inclusion here if it’s not a “real” album? That’s how it was advertised to the fans: a brand new album of new material! I’ll go officially on record saying that I like Poison, and I like Bret Michaels as a frontman, but to fleece the fans with false advertising can’t be forgiven. At least Gene Simmons tells us that he’s fleecing us! Musically, I can only take so much sad sack ‘Something To Believe In’ and ‘Unskinny Bop’ rehashing. If Bret went straight up Country he would be more credible.

#3

Don Dokken - Solitary (2008)Don Dokken – Solitary

The last time Don Dokken released a solo album we got the very good UP FROM THE ASHES (1990). On the eve of a new album by his main band, Dokken, Don decided to release this new solo record at his live solo shows and through his personal website. When you see the name Don Dokken on a CD, you know to expect melodic Hard Rock, this time around a nine song acoustic album that follows the “lost love” and “personal pain” themes. In all honesty, it’s a decent acoustic album. I placed it here for the sheer disappointment with the entire project, definitely not Don Dokken’s best work.

#4

Asia - Phoenix (2008)Asia – Phoenix

The Asia of the early ’80s had big hits with ‘Heat Of The Moment’, ‘Don’t Cry’ and ‘Only Time Will Tell’ because of their uptempo melodic hooks that made each song infectious. The opening track ‘Never Enough’ follows the same path but the band must have thought that was enough because every other song is either a ballad, mid-tempo, or a lengthy progressive number. The musicianship is great but there is no guitar…..well, it’s there somewhere. What could have been a huge Melodic Rock record ended up being a bore.

#5

queen_the_cosmos_rocks_album_coverQueen + Paul Rodgers – The Cosmos Rocks 

This is the first Queen album WITHOUT Freddie Mercury (R.I.P.). That should say it all. I understand that musicians need to play live and stay creative but sometimes releasing an album of new material isn’t the way to go. I saw the Queen + Paul Rodgers tour, it was phenomenal! Rodgers did his best to interpret and celebrate the Queen catalog and it worked…..live. The music on THE COSMOS ROCKS sounds forced, as if Roger Taylor and Brian May tried too hard to create the Queen sound. Or maybe they don’t know any better! An album that shouldn’t have been released, leave the Queen legacy alone. The only winner here was John Deacon.

Don Dokken – Solitary (2008)

Don Dokken – Solitary (2008, Dokken Enterprises, Inc.)

  1. In The Meadow
  2. I’ll Never Forget
  3. Where The Grass Is Green
  4. Ship Of Fools
  5. You Are Everything
  6. Venice
  7. Sarah
  8. The Tragedy
  9. Someday

Musicians:
Don Dokken – Vocals
Guitars: Michael Thompson, Steve Ornest, Wyn Davis
Bass: Tony Franklin, Michael Thompson, Wyn Davis
Drums: Frank Lentz, Gary Ferguson, Vinnie Colaiuta
Piano: John Schreiner, John Keane
Synth: John Schreiner, John Keane, Wyn Davis
Background Vocals: Kelly Keeling (on ‘Where The Grass Is Green’)

Produced by: Don Dokken & Wyn Davis

Total Time = 40:31

Don Dokken official website
Don Dokken MySpace page
Dokken official website
Dokken MySpace page

Don Dokken has been in the business for a long time, mostly fronting the Hard Rock band that bears his last name…..Dokken. After four gold and platinum albums with the band, Dokken broke up and Don decided to release his first solo record UP FROM THE ASHES (1990). The music on UP FROM THE ASHES was very similar to the Dokken Hard Rock sound and is considered by many fans to be the “lost” Dokken record. A few years later, the band would reunite and record two albums, DYSFUNCTIONAL (1995) & SHADOWLIFE (1997).  The SHADOWLIFE album was a low-key alternative sound and was mostly written by Don and is widely considered to be material that was to be used on a new solo album by Don.

Don Dokken has had a nice run with his main band in the last decade, Dokken has released 3 studio albums and is on the eve of their newest record, LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN, being released within a month. So why is Don releasing his second solo album now? Once you hear it, you’ll understand why.

SOLITARY is a very low-key, un-Dokken like album. It’s an acoustic album of mostly ballads that Don has written aside from his work on the latest Dokken album. The songs are personal and introspective as Don tells his tales of love, loss, peace and triumph without the aid of pounding drums and blazing guitars. The album as a whole has a mellow vibe with influences from the quieter moments of Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Eagles, and a little of The Doors. The voice is unmistakable but the vocals are low-key, slow and mid-paced, very calm. You can hear the piano, acoustic guitars, and percussion all blend into one and it all fits nicely. Very calm, very soothing and melodic, almost New Age sometimes. It also reminds me of the quieter songs from Great White as they usually have a bare bones acoustic thing going on with every album. I could go though all of the songs and describe them but I would be saying the same thing for each one: “acoustic, Don sings, mellow vibe, personal story”. Not that the songs are bad or anything, they all just have the same direction and vibe that is different from the traditional Dokken sound.

Bottom Line:
This is a record that Don Dokken made for Don Dokken not for fans of the band Dokken. If you want to hear the signature Hard Rock sound that made Dokken famous, then you want to check out LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN in about a month. If you want to hear something different, something mellow, then this is something to check out. It’s cool to hear a guy like Don Dokken branch out and do something different outside his main band. It’s a good acoustic record that’s outside his normal output. If you’re looking for Hard Rock or Heavy Metal, it’s not here. I knew that this CD was going to be different so my suggestion to anyone looking to pick this up is to know this is not the usual Dokken. Favorite songs here: ‘Ship Of Fools’, ‘You Are Everything’, ‘Venice’.

(Don Dokken is selling copies of SOLITARY at all of his acoustic solo shows and through his website. It’s NOT available through the Dokken website and I’m not sure if it will be sold at the merchandise stands when the band hits the road this summer.)

 

Current Playlist

I’ve been concentrating on a few albums I’d like to do reviews on soon but I had to put on some Motley Crue to get in the mood for the press conference.

Motley Crue – Too Fast For Love (1982): Had to gear up for the big Motley Crue press conference with my favorite Crue record.

Wicked Stick – Ill Inspired (2007): Getting this ready for review.

Lana Lane – Red Planet Boulevard (2007): I never get sick of Lana Lane albums and this one is excellent so far. Another up for review this week.

Don Dokken – Solitary (2008): I’m trying to get through this one but it’s hard to take in. It needs many focused listens because it’s a departure from the typical Dokken sound. Review up this week.

Dokken – Shadowlife (1997): This album and SOLITARY, Don’s new solo disc, are very similar. I’m trying to compare both because I liked parts of SHADOWLIFE.

StarofAsh – The Thread (2008): Heidi Solberg Tveitanm, aka Ihriel from Peccatum, has released another ambient Metal solo record full of orchestration and experimentation. Reminds me of The Gathering – Nighttime Birds (1999) with no vocals.

Pharoah – Be Gone (2008): I’m enjoying this one a lot and I should have this review up end of next week in time for the U.S. release.

Zero Hour – Dark Deceiver (2008): Gave this one a quick spin this morning so it’s too early to comment. Album release date is 4/29/08.

 

Current Playlist

CDs, CDs, CDs…..I’m going to have to post new pictures of my collection because there are piles everywhere. I’m listening to lots of promos from labels and bands in a major push to catch up. Problem is I keep buying CDs! Here’s what’s spinning on the stereo lately…..

Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007): I always liked Anvil. They may be looked at as Spinal Tap now but they have been a consistent Metal band for over two decades. This is the limited edition pressed by the band themselves as they are without a label at the moment. Only 1000 were pressed.

Benedictum – Uncreation (2006): I wanted to check this band out for a couple of years and I grab this record about two weeks before they released their new album, SEASONS OF TRAGEDY. Solid Metal!

Benedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy (2008): Only gave it the initial spin but I like it. I’ll be playing this a lot this week.

Helloween – Gambling With The Devil (2007): I had to put this down for a while because I was getting Weenie overload! It made the Top 15 Albums of 2007 (#12) but I haven’t reviewed it yet.

Don Dokken – Solitary (2008): Another CD I bought and only gave one spin. I want to get a review out on this in the next week or so.

Dokken – The Very Best Of (1999): I always liked me some Dokken and I’ve been a fan since the beginning. This is the best Dokken compilation out there, and there are many! Favorite track has to be ‘Burning Like A Flame’ right now.

Pharoah – Be Gone (2008): Promo of the upcoming 3rd album. It’s out in Europe at the end of the month on Cruz Del Sur.

W.A.S.P – Dominator (2007): Just popped the shrinkwrap on my Russian pressing (Argh!) of the latest W.A.S.P. record. I haven’t actually spun this one but it’s in the queue. I hope it’s better than the NEON GOD albums…..

Bullet – No Mercy (1983/1997 reissue): Another one I have in the queue but I’ve been after it for a long time. This is the High Vaultage reissue with two bonus demos added to the album.

The Sword – Gods Of The Earth (2008): Just picked this up this past Tuesday and I am listening to it right now!

Michael Schenker – Thank You (1993): Michael Schenker is one of my all-time favorite guitarists and this is the first installment if his THANK YOU albums. Instrumental acoustic guitar that just sounds awesome. Michael may have his problems but he is full of talent. This is one of those albums I listen to when I really need to calm down and relax…..I hate to say it but it puts me to sleep! It’s a good album and yes I have listened to the whole record without falling asleep!

CD Scavenger Hunt – Catching up edition

It’s been over a month since I posted an update on what I’ve picked up for music. I’m happy to say that I’ve been picking up some solid used gems and some great new releases between the record shops, Ebay, and band websites. Of course, I’m adding new discs quicker than I can listen and I have more on the way!

Band Websites

Don Dokken - Solitary (2008)Don Dokken – Solitary (2008) – $25: I’m not going to lie, I’m a big time Dokken fan and I also like Don’s solo album UP FROM THE ASHES (1990). I read a quick note online that Don was selling his new solo record exclusively on tour and at his website…..for a limited time. The download was $10 so I figured the actual disc would be around $15. I was wrong! $20 plus $5 shipping all through Don’s website & Paypal.

Ebay

Wasp - Dominator (2007)W.A.S.P. – Dominator (2007) – $11: I finally picked this album up after much debate. I’ve been listening to W.A.S.P. since the debut back in ’84 but the last two albums (Neon God Pts. 1 & 2) didn’t really excite me. Actually, I thought they were horrible. The price was right on the auction and the $11 I spent includes the shipping charge. The problem? It’s a Russian pressing. I’ll make it quick on Russian pressings: they are official releases for sale in that area only, they are usually sold cheaper due to the country’s economics and many Ebay dealers buy up the Russian pressings and sell them for double profit on Ebay. The Russian subsidiary was listed in the auction but I didn’t realize it until the auction ended. Everything looks good and the CD sounds fine but I would prefer to stay away from these pressings as they are bootlegged often and easily.

Akira Kajiyama & Joe Lynn Turner - Fire Without Flame (2006)Akira Kajiyama & Joe Lynn Turner – Fire Without Flame (2006) – $7: Joe Lynn Turner always gets involved in excellent projects and taking over the vocals for a collaboration with Japanese guitarist Akira Kajiyama was a no brainer. They had worked with each other previously on many JLT solo projects. This was rated really high on many Best of 2006 lists and it’s Joe Lynn Turner, one of the best Rock singers ever. The price was a true bargain at $7 from the same seller that I got the W.A.S.P. CD from, problem is it was another Russian pressing. Same situation as the other auction, buyer beware, but the CD seems perfectly fine.

Sunstorm - s/t (2006)Sunstorm (featuring Joe Lynn Turner) – s/t (2006) – $11: One of the top Melodic Rock albums of 2006 featuring “Mr. Smooth” himself on lead vocals, Joe Lynn Turner. I’m in a JLT zone right now because I can’t get enough of his last solo record, SECOND HAND LIFE (2007), and Rainbow. This album has been on my Want List for a couple years and I finally found a copy at a decent price. The problem? Another Russian pressing. Again, my fault because the subsidiary label was listed in the auction…..but it was hard to find.

Lillian Axe - Fields Of Yesterday (1999)Lillian Axe – Fields Of Yesterday (1999) – $8.50: I picked this up because I needed to finish off my Lillian Axe collection. This is the original 1999 pressing, it has been reissued recently by the same label, Z Records, with a couple of bonus tracks. I went for the original release because I read that the reissue is also remastered, I wanted to hear it like I should have in ’99. The price was also half what I could find the reissue for.

Heavy Load - Death Or Glory (1982)Heavy Load – Death Or Glory (1982) – $17.75: This is one of those rarities I had to have. Heavy Load is from Sweden and plays an early ’80s style of Power Metal that is very good. The vinyl usually goes for big money and the CDs are hard to come by. I happened to get this Japanese pressing from a seller in the U.S. and I was the only bidder! The last time I saw a Heavy Load disc was back around ’98 in a record store import section for $30.

Night Sun - Mournin’ (1972)Night Sun – Mournin’ (1972) – $33.75: This is a rare piece of early ’70s forgotten Metal. I’ve been getting into a lot of early to mid ’70s obscure Metal and Night Sun has been on my list for a long time. This is the lost CD and I still haven’t found it. Hopefully it will turn up at some point but I’ve checked the house, garage, cars and trash…..nothing.

Record Convention

Star Star - The Love Drag Years (1992)Star Star – The Love Drag Years (1992) – $6: I went to my firs record/music convention last month and I was hoping to pick up some obscure Metal. Unfortunately there wasn’t much to choose from but I did find this Sleaze/Glam/Punk album by Star Star. Brand new sealed for $9, I offered $5, compromised at $6.

Newbury Comics

Airtime - Liberty Manifesto (2008)Airtime – Liberty Manifesto (2007) – $18: Rik Emmett decided to Rock out once again and has released this new project with Mike Shotton (Von Groove). Unfortunately, the Triumph reunion details have kept this release under the radar but I heard the previews and it’s solid Melodic Hard Rock. Paid a little bit more at the store than online but I wanted it right away.

Nightwish - Dark Passion Play (2007)Nightwish – Dark Passion Play (2007) – $15: Nightwish have always been one of those bands that I always wanted to check out but I never really gave them the time. I dig female fronted bands like Tristania, Lacuna Coil, Lana Lane, The Gathering, Benedictum and Epica so I figured that I should try some Nightwish now that they have a new singer. I re-listened to WISHMASTER (2000) the other day and I remembered why I keep wanting to dive deeper into the band’s discography.

Lou Gramm - Ready Or Not (1987)Lou Gramm – Ready Or Not (1987) – $5 used: I dig me some Foreigner and I like AOR so this Lou Gramm solo album was a nice find for five bucks. The single ‘Midnight Blue’ is worth the fiver alone! I hadn’t seen this album in a long time and, all of a sudden, there were about 6 copies in the used bin. If you can get by the lighter fare from latter day Foreigner, then you can appreciate Lou Gramm solo.

Raging Slab - s/t (1989)Raging Slab – s/t (1989) – $6 used: I saw this collecting dust in the used bin and I wasn’t sure I had it. I remember having the cassette way back when but I wasn’t sure if I had replaced it on CD. Called the wife from the record store and had her check upstairs in the music room. Nope, not there! I hadn’t heard ‘Don’t Dog Me’ in a long time and I like Southern Hard Rock. Kind of the same situation as Lou Gramm: old disc, good price, good single.

Fair Warning - Live And More (1998)Fair Warning – Live And More (1998) – $7 used: I got into Fair Warning in 2000 when they released FOUR but I haven’t really paid much attention since. FOUR is a good Melodic Rock album but it’s a little lite, maybe that’s why I haven’t explored more Fair Warning albums. This one was cheap for a 2 disc set and I figured it was a good way to check out some of the back catalog.

Scorpions - Animal Magnetism (1980)Scorpions – Animal Magnetism (1980) – $7 used: Finally! After waiting and waiting, I finally found ANIMAL MAGNETISM at a price I was willing to pay. $7 isn’t bad at all for a classic record and an original pressing. This also takes another off my WANTED list. The only problem with this album is that I’ll have to skip ‘The Zoo’ even though it’s a classic tune, it just gets overplayed so much!

Quiet Riot - The Randy Rhoads Years (1993)Quiet Riot – The Randy Rhoads Years (1993) – $6 used: I already have QUIET RIOT I (1977) and QUIET RIOT II (1978) so I’ve got the pre-METAL HEALTH era covered. This album has a few unreleased tracks and some remastered songs from the first two albums so it’s essential to completing the band’s discography. This is the only missing piece to my QR puzzle and I got it for a really great price.

Epica - The Divine Conspiracy (2007)Epica – The Divine Conspiracy (2007) – $7 used: Like I mentioned before, I like female fronted bands like Lacuna Coil, Lana Lane, and Nightwish so picking up Epica’s latest album for a mere seven bucks was an easy purchase. I was actually going to pick this up brand new for $15 but I happened to notice that the used Metal section being re-stocked at the same time…..and there was the used copy! Someone had just traded it in!

U.D.O. - Mastercutor (2007)U.D.O. – Mastercutor (2007) – $7 used: I’ve always been a huge Accept/U.D.O. fan and I have almost every release by both bands, there’s a couple that have eluded me. Anyway, I wanted the European limited edition with the two extra songs but I never found it. The limited edition is on Ebay for $25 but I’ve been putting it off. I couldn’t pass up the U.S. release at such a great price and I finally get to enjoy an album that has been out almost a year.

Fight - K5 The War Of Words DemosFight K5 – The War Of Words Demos – $14: I’ve been putting this CD off for a while, mostly because I had missed the initial sale price of $9.99 when it first came out. I kept my eye on this disc over the last few weeks and it actually came down in price from $16.99! I figured I wouldn’t find it for less and I was sick of waiting. The original Fight release was brilliant, any doubts I had about Rob Halford continuing Metal life after leaving Judas Priest were erased.

Tarja - My Winter Storm (2008)Tarja – My Winter Storm (CD + DVD) (2008) – $15: I’m not sure why I wanted this album so badly but I did. Same thing with the latest Nightwish, I think it was just time to give in and try this music out. I’d read a lot of reviews and they were all very good, I heard some online samples and liked what I heard so the decision to buy was made. A couple of weeks before the U.S. release, I saw this album at the store as an import for $30…..I passed. When it was released officially in the States, I compared the European import to the U.S. version: there was no difference at all. Both were an oversized digipak, both has the CD and DVD, both had the same tracklisting. Not sure what was so special about the Euro version 2 weeks prior but I was glad to get this at a more reasonable price.