Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Scott Soto’

Another month behind as usual but here’s a large purchase update from June. I’m breaking it up just a little because the beginning of the month was boring but I caught a huge sale at the record store mid-month and Ebay was really good again…..

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Dio – Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 CD (2013) – $14
Black Star Riders – All Hell Breaks Loose (2013) – $12
Anvil – Hope In Hell (2013) – $9
Black Sabbath – 13 (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $15
Burning Rain – Obsession (2013) – $10
Dio – Finding The Sacred Heart: Live In Philly 1986 BluRay (2013) – $14
Megadeth – Supercollider (2013) – $12
Aerosmith – Pandora’s Box (1991) – $20 used

The beginning of the month wasn’t really exciting, just catching some new releases on sale. I picked up the new live Dio CD and the new Black Star Riders (aka Thin Lizzy) and I wanted the Dio BluRay but they only had Finding The Sacred Heart on DVD. Opened the Amazon app on my phone and started price comparisons while in the store! Found the Dio BluRay for $14 saving $2 in the process compared to the in store sale price. I started comparing the prices on the new Anvil ($4 difference), Black Sabbath ($2 difference), Burning Rain ($6 difference), Megadeth ($1 difference) so I placed an order right away. I saved $15 by checking my phone while in the record store! I know, buying online kills record shops, and I’m against killing record shops but how can I deny saving $15 online compared to the SALE prices in the store? And I also saved the sales tax! I ended up taking that $15 savings and applying it to a used original pressing of the Aerosmth Pandora’s Box set for $20 so the store still got my business.

W.E.T. – Rise Up (2013) – $18
Snakecharmer – s/t (2013) – $18
Gloryhammer – Tales From The Kingdom Of Fife (Deluxe Edition) – $0
Jorn – Traveller (2013) – $18
Timo Tolkki’s Avalon – The Land Of New Hope (2013) – $17
U.D.O. – Steelhammer (2013) – $0
Children Of Bodom – Halo Of Blood (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $16
Bon Jovi – What About Now (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $15 used
Rhapsody Of Fire – Live From Chaos To Eternity (2013) – $0
Anthrax – Among The Living (1987) – $8 used
Anthrax – I’m The Man (1987) – $8 used
Slayer – Christ Illusion (2006) – $0 used
Anthrax – Spreading The Disease (1985) – $6 used
Warrel Dane – Praises To The War Machine (2008) – $4 used
Mercyful Fate – Into The Unknown (1996) – $0 used

I’ve been debating the Amazon vs. record store thing for a while but you can never pass up a great sale at the record store. Newbury Comics had a “Buy 2 Get 1 Free” on all CDs mid-month so I decided to drive the 20 minutes to the Warwick, RI location with my daughter for some bargains. Is it wrong to teach my kid that you have to be first in line at the door before they open and you race for everything? That’s how it was back in the day. Of course, we were first but also the only ones there…..we got first dibs! Within 15 minutes the place was packed but I already grabbed a handbasket and had the major purchases inside. The goal was to get a lot of new releases from this year that I’ve passed on and I did an awesome job.

(Here’s a tip for all you record store rookies…..if you have the opportunity to go to the record store before a big sale like this, go immediately and put all the CDs you really want in one spot. That way you won’t miss out! I like to hide Metal CDs in the Classical section the day before. Who really shops the Classical section? How many times do you think the staff organizes the Classical section?)

Guilty as charged, I went the night before and hid 9 new releases. Did I think I was going to miss out? Maybe…..its happened before. And what if I was late getting there? Good thing I was in the area the day before! So the first 9 CDs were all high priced new releases NOT on sale (the staff usually pulls most sale stickers in advance). Some of these releases are imports (that means anything from Frontiers Records) so the new album from the Jeff Scott Soto led W.E.T. and the new Snakecharmer were $18 each but I saved $18 getting the limited edition Gloryhammer CD for free. Jorn Lande’s new album, Traveller, was expensive (AFM Records) at $18 and so was Timo Tolkki’s Avalon, The Land Of New Hope, at $17 but I scored the new U.D.O. album for free and saved $17. Saved $35 so far! I saved another $14 when I got the latest double disc live album from Rhapsody Of Fire for free when I paired it with the deluxe edition of Halo Of Blood from Children Of Bodom for $16 on sale and a $15 used copy of Bon Jovi’s What About Now (also deluxe). If you look at these CDs, the Rhapsody Of Fire was on sale for $14 but regular was $16 and both Children Of Bodom and Bon Jovi had regular prices of $22!

After I grabbed all the “hidden” CDs, I started on the used bins. I found three Anthrax albums I didn’t have on CD but have on cassette, an original pressing of Slayer’s Christ Illusion (recently reissued), and two cheap copies of Warrel Dane and Mercyful Fate. I saved $7 on the Slayer by pairing it with two Anthrax CDs, and I saved $4 on the Mercyful Fate. Total savings on free CDs this trip = $60.

Richie Sambora – Stranger In This Town (1991) – $5.50 used
Bruce Kulick – Audio Dog (2001) – $12.70
Cutty Sark – Die Tonite (1984) – $10 used vinyl
Cutty Sark – Heroes (1985) – $10 used vinyl
Rainbow – Finyl Vinyl (1983/1999 2CD reissue) – $13 used
KISS – Monster (International Tour Edition) – $16
Coney Hatch – s/t (1982) – $7 used vinyl
Coney Hatch – Outa Hand (1983) – $7 used vinyl
Coney Hatch – Friction (1985) – $7 used vinyl
Cheap Trick – Sex, America, Cheap Trick Box Set (1996) – $17.50 used

Can’t forget Ebay! I always watch Ebay daily because there have always been bargains since I joined in 1999. It’s not the same as it was back then but, if you search properly, the bargains are still there. I found the Richie Sambora solo album while watching a Bruce Kulick solo album from the same seller. I missed Bruce Kulick but got Richie Sambora and then had to go to another seller and pay slightly extra for Audio Dog. I picked up the two Cutty Sark vinyl LPs while searching for Die Tonite on CD at a decent price. After careful communication with the seller about the LPs condition, I pulled the trigger and paid a little extra for fast shipping. Finyl Vinyl fills the last hole in my Rainbow collection and it’s the complete two disc version and the international edition of KISS Monster was necessary for the bonus track ‘Right Here Right Now’ that was only previously available on iTunes. Add the digipak format and poster along with the bonus track to make it even more necessary for this KISS diehard. Technically, my international version is from Canada and this is the 4th version I own of this album (I also have the original release, the Wal-Mart zine pak and the Best Buy version with the 3D cover)…..all I need is a Japanese import or a German version with the alternate KISS logo! I bought more vinyl while researching Coney Hatch CDs and I got copies in really awesome condition but the real gem from Ebay this month was the Cheap Trick box set Sex, America, Cheap Trick. I’ve been immersing myself in all things Cheap Trick and I had to have this rarities box set but it’s out of print and high priced most of the time. I picked this up for $15 plus $2.50 shipping because the seller misspelled Cheap as “Cheep”. Another bargain through someone else’s mistake!

Total = $339.70

Total (year) = $1446.50

Average Price (per item) = $10.88

Total CDs (year) = 116

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 4

Total LPs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) =7

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NOTE:
Just to compare, here’s the mid-year totals from 2012…..

Total (year) = $1171

Average Price (per item) = $8.87

Total CDs (year) = 127

Total DVDs & Blu-Rays (year) = 5

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

Still catching up on posting my purchases…..here’s what I bought in April…..

Newbury Comics

Accept – Stalingrad (2012) – $10
Municipal Waste – Fatal Feast (Waste In Space) (2012) – $10
Jeff Scott Soto – Damage Control (Deluxe CD/DVD) (2012) – $20
Fastway – Eat Dog Eat (2012) – $15
Roulette – Lifeline (2011) – $4 used
Primal Rock Rebellion – Awaken Broken (2012) – $10
Into Eternity – Incurable Tragedy (2008) – $4 used

I made a few trips around the Rhode Island area to various Newbury Comics locations because I wasn’t banging on the door of the closest store on consecutive Tuesdays for new releases! My first trip to the North Attleboro, MA store netted me the new Accept, Municipal Waste and Jeff Scott Soto albums all at sale prices. The Jeff Scott Soto album is the limited edition with bonus tracks and bonus DVD so it’s still a pricey $20 but, when it’s an artist I enjoy, I will always pay the extra money. The second trip on the second Tuesday of April was where the problems started this month! I went to my usual Attleboro location for two new releases, Fastway and Adrian Smith’s new side project Primal Rock Rebellion, but I got there about an hour late and the two copies of Primal Rock Rebellion were sold! Not to be shut out, I had the store call the Warwick location to hold a copy for me. After I bought the new Fastway on sale, and added a dirt cheap used copy of Roulette’s LIFELINE (2001), I went the 25 minutes to Warwick, RI for the Primal Rock Rebellion album and added a cheap used copy of Into Eternity’s INCURABLE TRAGEDY (2008) to make the drive worth it.

Ronnie James Dio – The Elf Albums (1994) – $12 used
Shark Island – Gathering Of The Faithful (2006) – $1 used (was $10)
Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination (2011) – $10 used
Rush – Caress Of Steel (1975) – $1 used (was $9)
Skeletonwitch – Breathing The Fire (2009) – $8 used
Rush – Power Windows (1985) – $1 used (was $8)
Rush – s/t (1974) – $8 used
Elegy – Forbidden Fruit (2000) – $1 used (was $7)
Rush – Grace Under Pressure (1984) – $7 used
Ted Nugent & the Amboy Dukes – Loaded For Bear (The Best of) (1999) – $1 used (was $5)
From The Inside – Visions (2008) – $6 used
DeAllen – Twisted Inside (2000) – $1 used (was $6)
Arabia – 1001 Nights (2001) – $6 used
Black Robot – s/t (2009) – $1 used (was $4)
24K – Bulletproof (2001) – $4 used
Faith Circus – s/t (2006) – $1 used

The third trip of the month came just a few days later because there was a used CD sale, “Buy 1 get 1 for $1″, so I made sure I was outside the door of the Attleboro location early so I could grab some of those used albums I’ve been watching for a while. I use these sales to fill up some band collections quick and I had two bands in mind: Rush and Skeletonwitch. The problem on this sale was that the used CDs were a little thin compared to how many they usually have so there wasn’t a ton of Metal to chose from but I did get the Skeletonwitch records I was looking for and I was able to add four more Rush albums to fill those holes up but I also grabbed a couple of gems that I had been eye-balling with the Elf collection and the Shark Island reunion record. If you look at the prices, I listed the actual used prices for the $1 CDs and, after Rush – s/t & Rush – Grace Under Pressure, all the used CDs came from a special bargain bin the store’s had for years. What I like most about this type of sale is that the store takes the highest price CDs and pairs them all together for maximum savings instead of pairing the highest price with the lowest price, etc.

Dario Mollo & Tony Martin – The Third Cage (2012) – $18
The Sign – The Second Coming (2004) – $6 used

April was kind of a thin month for new releases so I started to search for for the new Mollo/Martin album because I never saw it in Attleboro or Warwick. I found it at the Providence Newbury Comics at the mall which is a dead zone for Metal and Hard Rock because it caters more to the Pop and Rap demographic of the area. I was a little surprised to actually find the CD at this location on a rare trip into the Providence Place Mall so I also bought The Sign’s second album at a nice used price while I was there.

Ebay (includes shipping)

King Kobra – s/t (2011) – $13
Black ‘N Blue – Hell Yeah! (2011) – $9

Just a little Ebay action this time around…..I found both the latest King Kobra and Black ‘N Blue albums for decent prices. I already had both as downloads from the label but I need the CDs for the collection. Both CDs were mint condition but the Black ‘N Blue CD was a pressing from Argentina. Nothing against pressings from other territories but I prefer the U.S., European or Japanese pressings because I’m worried about bootlegs. HELL YEAH! is from Argentina but the booklet shows that it was licensed from Frontiers Records for release so I felt a bit better about it. I wish the seller had noted the pressing in the auction but what can you do?

Amazon

Scorpions – Lovedrive (1979) – $7

My wife was buying a book so we needed something to else to get the free shipping on Amazon so I threw in a copy of LOVEDRIVE with the original cover. I already have LOVE DRIVE with the “scorpion” cover so it’s not like I was missing anything., it was a quick impulse buy.

Sentinel Steel

Sergeant – s/t (1984) – $15

Last but not least, I ordered this Sergeant reissue from Sentinel Steel mailorder because I noticed the price start to rise on Ebay. This limited edition reissue was released through Stormspell Records a few years ago but it’s sold out. The CD arrived and I found the booklet inside was damaged…..not good at all. I’m not going to return the CD because it’s too much hassle but I will keep my eys open for a copy on Ebay and sell the damaged one cheap at some point.

Total = $210

Total (year) = $868

Average Price (per item) = $8.35

Total CDs (year) = 99

Total DVDs (year) = 4

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

2010 wasn’t a bad year for music DVDs but I think it was very similar to 2009. In 2009, there weren’t that many notable DVDs released from the big name bands and a lot of bands used DVDs as special bonuses in first pressing of new releases. I also missed a few DVD releases in 2009 and that carried over to 2010 as well. The difference between the last few years, aside from Iron Maiden not releasing an awesome DVD this year, is that I made sure I picked up a few more DVDs. Actually, this turned out to be one of my better years for DVDs, I think I acquired about ten and all of them were very well done. Bands and labels are continuing to raise the bar by putting a lot of content into these DVDs so that the fans get a lot of value for their hard earned dollar. So here is my list of  The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2010:

#1

The Big 4 (Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth & Anthrax) - Live From Sofia, Bulgaria (2010): Technically this is a box set but the reason you’re buying the box set is to see the concert. It was obvious from the second I opened the package that this was going to be the DVD of the Year because the expectation of seeing all four Thrash heavyweights on one bill, and then on one stage together, was the whole point. As far as content goes, this was definitely the best DVD. You got full sets from each band, along with the ‘Am I Evil?’ jam during the Metallica set, and they were all great performances. There was also enough bonus footage of the backstage are and the ‘Am I Evil?’ rehearsals to make that a special add-on. Maybe the fact that I got the DVD in the box set has something to do with it because the box set did include the audio CDs, booklet and photo cards but the DVD can be purchased separately and, if I got that version, it would still be at the top spot.

#2

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live In Tokyo (2010): I’m putting Michael Schenker in the second spot because this was a tour souvenir for me after I caught the show in Foxboro, MA a few months later in July. Michael Schenker has been one of my favorite guitarists for a long time and the early MSG albums are still classics. When I caught the show in July, it was one of the best concerts I’d seen this year, if not all-time, Michael and the band put on a great show. This concert in Tokyo is basically the same show I saw in Foxboro with a little different running order, a couple extra songs and a different touring lineup. The concert is superb and it’s obvious that the magic between Schenker and original MSG singer Gary Barden is still there. Not a lot of extras here (some backstage footage and interviews) but the performance more than makes up for it with classic songs and great musicianship.

#3

Jeff Scott Soto – One Night In Madrid 2009 (2010): ONE NIGHT IN MADRID 2009 was released in Europe in late 2009 but got a proper U.S. release in early 2010 along with the two disc live album. Not only is Jeff Scott Soto one of the best Rock singers in the business, he is also extremely fan friendly when releasing CDs and DVDs. This DVD set includes the 21 song setlist from Sala Heineken in Madrid and and extensive bonus section that is longer than the main show! The Madrid show includes songs from all over Soto’s career and is a superb performance. The bonus section features eight music videos from Soto’s solo albums and second bonus section that includes behind the scenes tour footage and a tribute to Marcel Jacob, Soto’s bandmate in Talisman who passed away unexpectedly in 2009. The total running time for the single DVD is 4 hours & 5 mins but the concert itself is only 1 hour & 42 mins long…..that means there’s over 2 hours of bonus material. Now that’s really giving the fans something extra! This DVD would have easily made the #2 spot but the MSG performance was just a bit more special because I had seen it live. ONE NIGHT IN MADRID is a very close 3rd…..maybe if the live album was included in the package instead of a separate release it would have put it in 2nd.

#4

Halford – Live In Anaheim (2010): LIVE IN ANAHEIM is another one of those releases that got a separate DVD and a separate live CD release, it would have been nice to have the whole package together but that’s another issue. This DVD is two parts: Part 1 is a band documentary including four songs performed in Tokyo, Japan in February 2003 and Part 2 is the full 19 song concert in Anaheim from June 2003. This Halford footage is prior to Rob Halford reuniting with his Judas Priest bandmates so the Halford band was his only focus and, at the time, they were promoting and touring the band’s then latest record CRUCIBLE (2002). The band’s performances are tight, Rob is in fine form vocally and the Anaheim setlist is varied enough where there are twelve Judas Priest songs but seven songs coming from CRUCIBLE, RESURRECTION (2001) and some songs from Rob’s days in Fight. Personally, I would prefer more solo/Fight/Halford tunes than the Priest stuff because, well, it’s Halford but at least Rob and the band pull out some lost Priest nuggets like ‘Rapid Fire’, ‘Never Satisfied’ and ‘Riding On The Wind’.

#5

Heaven & Hell – Neon Nights: Live In Europe (2010): This Heaven & Hell live DVD captures the band live headlining the Thursday night opening day of the 2009 Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany. Obviously, with the death of Ronnie James Dio, NEON NIGHTS: LIVE IN EUROPE is the final recorded document of the Dio-era Black Sabbath/Heaven & Hell…..ten months later, Ronnie would pass away. This DVD is the basic Heaven & Hell concert in support of the band’s latest studio album THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (2009) and it’s basically the same set that I saw a month later in Boston. As far as extras go, just a couple of interview segments with each band member including Ronnie. I’m adding this DVD in ahead of a few others I have because the performance is superb and the impact of the music is great. If this is the way we remember Ronnie James Dio and his time in Sabbath, then this is the way to do it.

WANTED

W.E.T. – s/t (2009)

This is the album I really, really want! I have tried on 6 separate occasions to order this online through some of my favorite online record stores and they are sold out everytime! You’ve got three major players from three major Melodic Rock bands: Robert Sall (Work Of Art), Erik Marnensson (Eclipse) and Jeff Scott Soto (Talisman). How can this album not be one of the best of 2009? Every review I have read has praised it for being an excellent pice of work and I have noticed this on a ton of year end best of lists…..Melodicrock.com gave this album a perfect score of 100. I am looking to pick up the limited edition with the bonus DVD that contains 3 videos and an interview. I should have this by the end of next week because this is my top prioity.

 

2009 wasn’t the greatest year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal DVDs. Maybe there weren’t that many released this year? Maybe I just flat out missed them? One factor could be that a lot of bands are packaging bonus DVDs into their proper album releases as bonuses for fans. Slayer, Alestorm, Saxon and KISS were just a few of the bands that did this in 2009, maybe next year I should include these as part of this list criteria? I’m not really sure what the deal is because I didn’t buy nearly as many DVDs in 2009 as I have in the past couple of years. The good news is that bands are still taking great care when producing these DVDs by adding extra content, bonus footage and CDs of live performances to the overall packages and the overall prices have been extremely reasonable. Money has to be spent wisely and the following list of DVDs gave a lot of bang for my hard earned buck! Here’s my list of The Top 5 Music DVDs of 2009:

#1

Iron Maiden – Flight 666 (The Film) DVD (2009): No surprise here! Iron Maiden consistently puts out the best DVDs every single time and FLIGHT 666 was no exception. 2 DVDs packed with a 2 hour documentary a 100+ minute concert performance and a ton of extras…..other bands need to take notice, this is how you release a DVD! FLIGHT 666 gives Iron Maiden the top spot again in the Top 5 DVDs of the year, they were the winner in 2008 with their official release of LIVE AFTER DEATH. I wonder what 2010 will bring?

#2

Anvil – The Story Of Anvil DVD (2009): Just a quick note: the link is for the movie review I did in late May when I went to see it at a local theater. Production started in November 2005 and the film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2008. The band played select tour dates in 2008 with the movie as support and I missed the show in Worcester, MA…..the good news was the actual theatrical debut in the U.S. was February. I waited on the DVD until it finally arrived in early October and it is basically the same movie as the one I saw in the theaters with the added bonus section with unedited and bonus footage. This was almost a tie for the top spot because I had more of an emotional attachment to the Anvil film seeing that I had cassettes of FORGED IN FIRE and METAL ON METAL back in the day.

#3

Global Metal DVD (2009): I was witing on this documentary to be released for all of 2008 and it NEVER came out. If you have heard of Sam Dunn & Scot McFadyen then it’s from their first film METAL: A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY, the beginning chapter of the duos’ quest to find out how Metal is perceived, loved, enjoyed and revered by fans all over the world. GLOBAL METAL expands on A HEADBANGER’S JOURNEY and goes to different countries like India, Colombia, Japan and Brazil. It was great seeing the absolute dedication fans in different countries had, it reminded me of my days growing up as a kid and discovering Hard Rock & Heavy Metal…..I still have that same dedication. this set has 2 DVDs with the proper film on the first and all the outtakes and bonus content on the second. Any other year and GLOBAL METAL would easily take the top spot but it had to contend with FLIGHT 666…..coincidentally, Dunn & McFayden also filmed FLIGHT 666 and worked on GLOBAL METAL at the same time!

#4

Jeff Scott Soto – One Night In Madrid DVD (2009): This is a late addition that just made the cut, I just picked this DVD (and the 2 CD set) last week! I’ve been a Jeff Scott Soto fan since the Yngwie days in the early ’80s so I usually buy anything I can with his name attached to it. ONE NIGHT IN MADRID is a solid performance from Jeff’s just completed world tour and it includes a 21 song live show and a ton of bonuses including 8 music videos and bunch of outtakes. A ton of value for the price and a solid performance made this an instant favorite.

#5

Motley Crue – Cruefest 1 DVD (2009): I went with a sentimental choice for my #5 DVD, beating out the other 3 DVDs I had competing for the slot. I’ve been a Crue fan since TOO FAST FOR LOVE (1982) and I’ve seen a ton of Crue tours over the years but I skipped Cruefest 1 when it came to town because I didn’t like the lineup. I even passed on Cruefest 2 this past summer! So why does this get the #5 slot here? Because I like Motley Crue. I liked their last studio album SAINTS OF LOS ANGELES (2008) and I caught their show at Mohegan Sun Arena this past March so I was riding high on Motley Crue when I bought this DVD a couple weeks after the show. The Crue performances make the DVD, and the Buckcherry songs were good, but I could do without the live footage of Trapt, Sixx AM, and Papa Roach. A few bonuses were added in: a behind the scenes road documentary and 6 Crue videos.

True to form this year…..I have been taking my time posting my weekly hunts for new treasures to add to my collection. I haven’t updated my purchases since the end of November, and I haven’t set foot in a record store in about a month! There have been some great sales online lately through some of my favorite online shops, and I’ve been searching Ebay as usual for those rarities I crave, so here’s everything I picked up online in December…..

CD Inzane

For most of 2009, CD Inzane has been my only online Metal retailer. I have found the best prices, selection and shipping there consistently all year long…..up until the last 4 weeks. I started my final orders on Black Friday (11/27) and December’s Black Saturday (12/12 )when CD Inzane had their 30% off sales. Not one to miss a bargain, I placed a $100+ order on Black Friday that came to $70+ after the 30% off but I got shut out of all but 2 of my picks. I woke up late that morning and got my order in 4 hours into the 5 hour sale! On the Black Saturday sale I was up an hour BEFORE the sale began and had everything I wanted the previous sale in my cart, along with a few more new releases, and was ready to log in at 7am sharp with a $150+ order. Unfortunately, I only got one of my selections. Don’t ask me how I didn’t get what I wanted the second time around but I was more than a little disappointed…..hopefully I will catch a few breaks next year with these great sales!

Winger – Karma (2009) – $14.99: I wasn’t too high on the last Winger CD so I went into this purchase a bit wary. One of my good friends picked this album up and recommended it highly so I decided that I would buy it during the 30% off sale. My version is the European that has the bonus track ‘First Ending’ and the video extra on the making of the album. I’m not sure if my friend’s copy is the same, he bought it at a local big box store, but I paid the same price he did after the 30% off.

Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009) – $12.29: Helix is one of those bands from my formative Metal years that I still love to this day. Who am I kidding? I love ALL the bands from when I was growing up! In the last couple of years though I have been slowly picking up Helix’s back catalog and buying the new records straight from Planet Helix. The price was $15 at most online retailers, at the band’s website and even in the weekly ad from Newbury Comics so I added this to my order to save some cash!

Jeff Scott Soto – One Night In Madrid (2009) – $22.09 (3 disc value pack): The Winger & Helix CDs were part of the first order on Black Friday, this Jeff Scott Soto release was the only item I received from my order on the December Black Saturday sale. The regular prices for the double CD and the DVD separately was $20 but the package deal was $36…..already saving $4! Add the 30% off and this was a no-brainer of a purchase!

Ebay

Billy Idol – Happy Holidays (2006) – $22: I have this thing for buying up different holiday albums, especially from Rock bands, and the Billy Idol holiday album has been on the Want List for a couple years. I just wrote a WANTED post for this album a few weeks ago and I just couldn’t wait when I saw a BUY IT NOW for $19. I have been watching this album go well over $25-$35 over the last year or so so $19 + $3 shipping was a good deal to me!

Lord Grey – Lady Of The Lake (2002) – $35: I have been looking for this CD since 2002 when I saw it only once in my favorite record store (that is now long gone). I got into a local New England Melodic Rock band called Savannah in the late ’90s and I found out that Lord Grey was actually the band that pre-dated Savannah for three of the musicians. This album saw a release independently on Shire Records in 2002, I saw 2 copies one day in 2 Guys Music and passed. A week later…..both were gone! I paid a few extra dollares on this one but the last couple of copies at auction have gone well over $50.

Lion’s Share – Dark Hours (2009) – $11: The latest from Lion’s Share was one of the albums I tried ordering from CD Inzane and got shut out from. I decided to give Ebay a look and I found a new, but opened, digipak copy for $8 from a reliable seller that I have bought from in the past. The grand total came to $11 with shipping and I saved $2 more then I would have if I had received this with my CD Inzane order.

Jeff Scott Soto – Beautiful Mess (2009, Frontiers Records)

  1. 21st Century
  2. Cry Me A River
  3. Gin & Tonic Sky
  4. Hey
  5. Broken Man
  6. Mountain
  7. Our Song
  8. Eye
  9. Bring It Home
  10. Testify
  11. Wherever U Wanna Go
  12. Kick II
  13. Heart Starts Healing (bonus track)
  14. Take U Over With Me (bonus track)

Bonus DVD:

  1. 21st Century (video)
  2. Gin & Tonic Sky (video)
  3. Hey (video)
  4. Gin & Tonic Sky (Piano version) (video)
  5. What A Beautiful Mess (Promo video)

Musicians:
Jeff Scott Soto – Lead Vocals
Paulo Mendonca – Guitars, Bass, Drums, Keyboards, FX & Backing Vocals
Peter Strandberg – Drums
Karl Guner – Drums
Ben Carey – Guitars
Sammy Sims – Bass

Producers: Paulo Mendonca & Jeff Scott Soto

Total Time = 51:19

Country: USA

Jeff Scott Soto
Jeff Scott Soto MySpace page
Frontiers Records

If you’re a fan of Melodic Hard Rock, or early Yngwie Malmsteen, then Jeff Scott Soto should need no introduction. Since his debut on Yngwie’s 1984 RISING FORCE, Jeff Scott Soto has carved himself an excellent career fronting bands like Journey, Talisman, Takara and Axel Rudi Pell while maintaining his own personal solo career and tribute album collaborations. The hardest working singer in Hard Rock? Most likely! Definitely one of the most underrated vocalists out there, listen to any of his recorded projects and the vocals and writing are always top of the line. I have been following Soto since the first two Yngwie albums, over the years I picked up a few of his other projects’ albums, but it wasn’t until the late ’90s and the Internet age that I started to truly appreciate his talents.

Putting aside his Hard Rock and Heavy Metal notoriety, most fans wouldn’t know that some of the more direct musical influences on Jeff’s talents include Funk, R&B, Pop & Soul. No that would normally scare most Rock fans away but Jeff has been able to maintain a healthy balance of styles and has incorporated these different musical elements into his solo career.  One listen to BEAUTIFUL MESS and you realize this isn’t a regular Rock album…..it’s really not even a true Rock album, more a Pop and R&B album with a couple Rock songs mixed in. I read the reviews prior to this albums release and, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really think this would be something I would like, the whole R&B/Funk/Pop thing scaring me right off. I bought this back when it physically came out on CD (the album was released digitally in late 2008) back in February and I only started listening to it in November!

BEAUTIFUL MESS kicks off with a mid-paced, guitar driven Rock track ’21st Century’ that also includes some scratches, loops and a bit of a Funk vibe to it. Even though the song is more Rock there are definitely little details that signal a slightly different approach to Melodic Hard Rock. It’s a good song and regular JSS fans will like it’s melodic touch. ‘Cry Me A River’ is a slower ballad style song with a lot of Pop and Soul influences that definitely signals a whole new direction from your normal Rock style. Ballad #2 is the superb ‘Gin & Tonic Sky’, probably one of my favorite songs of 2009! This has mainstream chart success written all over it! It’s exactly the kind of ballad that Pop & Adult Contemporary audiences go for with a beautifully passionate vocal…..this is the true talent of Jeff Scott Soto. Following such a good song is a hard task and the acoustic based ‘Hey’ falls a little short with it’s very basic arrangement and instrumentation. It’s another great vocal from JSS, as are all the songs on BEAUTIFUL MESS, and the harmonies surrounding the chorus are top notch. Ballad #3 creeps in with ‘Broken Man’, acoustic guitars and solid harmonies, this could easily be a Southern Rock/Country song with some minor changes.

The album picks up a little bit with the mid-tempo, ’70s Rock/Funk hybrid titled ‘Mountain’. The song has some heavier guitar at the bridge and chorus but it’s mostly acoustic driven with plenty of funky keyboards and beats. Good song overall, has the fingers tapping and me singing along. ‘Our Song’ is pure Melodic Rock even though the drums sound too simple and dancebeat-ish during the verses. The song rocks up on the chorus and reminds me of some of Jeff’s work on his solo albums and with Talisman. ‘Eye’ is another mid-tempo Pop track that pulls out the Soul in Soto’s vocals and gets slightly heavier during the chorus but it’s not one of my favorites on the album, a bit too much of a departure from what I’m used to with Jeff Scott Soto. That said, ‘Bring It Home’ is a complete departure! ‘Bring It Home’ is pure R&B, there’s a slow danceable groove to it with some cool harmonies with backup singer Anna Maria La Spina…..the female harmony really compliments Jeff’s vocal style. How ‘Bring It Home’ isn’t on the radio is beyond me, it’s tailor made! Not my cup of tea but for some reason I like it. ‘Testify’ brings some well overdue Rock that reminds me of Jeff’s early solo work from LOVE PARADE (1995). Nice to hear a Rock song on BEAUTIFUL MESS, the lack of them makes them stand out more.

‘Wherever U Wanna Go’ starts off slow like a ballad but it starts to get heavier come the chorus but there are already enough songs on the album that follow a similar pattern. It’s a decent song but it sounds like the rest. Same thing with ‘Kick It’, it starts out slowly and builds as the song progresses to the chorus. It’s a mellow, acoustic driven Pop song that can easily be considered either a ballad or a mid-tempo track…..it sounds just like the rest of the tunes before it. If you picked up the actual physical CD from Frontiers Records then you get two bonus tracks: ‘Heart Starts Healing’ and ‘Take U Over With Me’. Both songs are melodic Pop Rock songs with ‘Heart Starts Healing’ leaning more toward Jeff’s uptempo style and ‘Take U Over With Me’ falling into that mid-tempo/ballad frame. Both songs are good with ‘Heart Starts Healing’ being the better of the two. Another bonus to the physical CD is the bonus DVD that includes four videos, including an excellent piano version of ‘Gin & Tonic Sky’, and a 20+ minute interview/making of documentary with Jeff.

Bottom Line:
I wasn’t sure what to make of BEAUTIFUL MESS when I read about it and I’m not really sure what to think about it now. I would say that I’m more a fan of the harder side of Jeff Scott Soto’s career but I definitely enjoy his more melodic solo albums as well. This new album is a departure from both and there are times where it’s hard to imagine that this is the same singer who belted out the Malmsteen classic ‘I’ll See The Light Tonight’! I find myself in a love/hate relationship with BEAUTIFUL MESS…..while I love the perfect vocals, harmonies and instrumentation, I could do without the samples, scratches and loops. While I like a good ballad or slow mid-tempo number, too many of them can make the album boring. While I like a mellow, groovy album to relax to, I prefer Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Rating this album good or bad would have to depend on my mood: good if I want to veg & relax, bad if I want to Rock out. I have to give Jeff Scott Soto credit, he does what he wants to do and he is an amazing talent. BEAUTIFUL MESS will open some fans up to a new direction and alienate some others.

Favorite Songs:
’21st Century’, ‘Gin & Tonic Sky’, ‘Broken Man’, ‘Our Song’, ‘Testify’

Here we go again! I’ve been buying a lot of CDs & DVDs so here’s what’s new……

Ebay

hammerfall-no-sacrifice-no-victory-2009Hammerfall – No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009) – $15: I’ve been a Hammerfall fan since GLORY TO THE BRAVE was released in 1997 so everytime they release a new album I have to have it right away. NO SACRIFICE, NO VICTORY has been out for a couple of weeks in Europe and Japan and I was holding out for a U.S. release but I couldn’t wait and I used BUY IT NOW to grab the European version. I bought this late last week and the U.S. release ended up being this past Tuesday…..the local shop had it on sale for $9.99…..figures!

NEH Records

great_white_-_rising_artworkGreat White – Rising (2009) – $17: Great White’s last album, BACK TO THE RHYTHM, was one of my Top Albums of 2007 and it was an awesome comeback. This is another album that came out everywhere else a week or two ago except for the U.S. (the U.S. release is sometime in April). RISING was at the top of my want list so I searched all over the Net for a decent price and NEH had the best one. I always like ordering from NEH because they are based in the U.S. and always have a solid selection and great shipping rates.

jeff-scott-soto-beautiful-messJeff Scott Soto – Beautiful Mess (2009) – $17: Had to have the new Jeff Scott Soto album as well and I had to wait a couple months. JSS went with an initial release campaign for a digital download of the complete album. I just can’t bring myself to download anything so I decided to wait until the actual CD was released. It took a couple of months but JSS released the album on CD and then it took me a couple of weeks to get around to ordering it. I’ve always been a JSS fan since his days with Yngwie Malmsteen but his solo works are more melodic and soulful rather than Metal. After seeing him successfully front Journey a couple of summers ago, I will always support anything he releases.

tall-stories-skyscraperTall Stories – Skyscraper (2009) – $17: Continuing the theme of former Journey frontmen releasing new albums, Steve Augeri got the unreleased Tall Stories album, SKYSCRAPER, out and in the hands of fans. SKYSCRAPER was worked on from 1993 to 1995 but the band dissolved and Augeri went on to Tyketto and then Journey. I had the first Tall Stories album when it came out back in 1991 and it’s solid Melodic ock and I expect that this new record is more of the same.

CD Baby

badmouth-debut-albumBadmouth – s/t (2008) – $10: I’ve had this album on my radar since it came out in September but I’ve never been able to find a decent price. I was going to order it from NEH Records with the rest of my order but the price was $18.99! I checked Ebay but there was nothing available so I moved over to Badmouth’s website and I saw that it was $10 buying direct from the band! Clicked the link…..went to CD Baby and it’s all done.

dirty-penny-take-it-sleazyDirty Penny – Take It Sleezy (2007) – $12: Now I just couldn’t order one CD from CD Baby so I went through my account’s wish list and one of the last CDs I put on there was Dirty Penny’s first disc. I never got around to picking this up a couple of years ago and I have read some great reviews online so this one was a no brainer. What made it even sweeter was that the price was the best I’ve seen. I’ve read that Dirty Penny is like a cross between Dokken and early Motley Crue, I love both those bands so I hope that’s true.

ravage-freedom-fighterRavage – Freedom Fighter (2008) – $7: I’ve been checking out a lot of local bands and Ravage is from my backyard (Massachusetts). I’ve been compiling a list of local New England bands and Ravage was on the list but I forgot all about them until I received an email from Metal Blade that they signed Ravage for their new record. A quick check and $7 later and this 6 song E.P. was on the order.

 

Not everything can be an online purchase because I’m a record store guy and I still like to go through all the racks. I went down to my local Newbury Comics to pick up a few new releases from last week and this week but I didn’t get to the store until Noon…..usually I’m there right when the doors open because there is only a limited amount of certain new releases…..

Newbury Comics

wolf-ravenousWolf – Ravenous (2009) – $12: This was first on the list because I knew there would only be 1 or 2 copies in the store. Nothing in the new release rack, nothing under “Wolf” so it was off to the front counter. Good news was that the Metal guy was working and he had the second (and last) copy of the CD behind the counter. Turns out they sold the first one as soon as they opened and they hadn’t had a chance to get the other copy on the front rack. From what the Metal guy told me, it’s an excellent album, he bought his own copy…..so they really had three!

mastodon-crack-the-skye-2009Mastodon – Crack The Skye (2009) – $10: CRACK THE SKYE has got to be one of the most anticipated Metal albums of the year especially after Mastodon’s previous album from 2006 BLOOD MOUNTAIN. That record was a grower for me but I started to come around and check out the rest of Mastodon’s albums and I’m really high on the band. I started receiving press releases on CRACK THE SKYE two months ago so I knew that there was a limited edition package with a bonus DVD but I went with the regular CD. I have to really love a band to spend an extra $5 for a a special edition with a DVD that’s just about making the record.

cruefest-2008Motley Crue – Crue Fest 1 DVD (2009) – $19: I wasn’t going to pick this DVD up because I knew there would be plenty of copies around but because the store didn’t have Saga – Live In Munich (2 CD/2 DVD) limited edition I decided to pick this one up as a consolation prize. I didn’t go to Crue Fest 1 last summer because I thought the lineup sucked aside from Motley Crue and Buckcherry and I really didn’t want a DVD with performances by Trapt, Sixx AM, and especially Papa Roach. the good news is that there is a full Crue perofrmance, a documentary about the tour, 6 Crue videos, and only a few tunes from the other four bands. I can live with that! I also just saw Motley Crue a couple weeks ago so I figured the performance had to be a good one on the DVD.

The quest continues because I was shut out of two items on my hunt: Rob Halford – Resurrection re-release and Saga – Live In Munich (2 CD/2 DVD) limited edition. The Halford reissue has four new tunes on it and was advertised a week ago for $13 but they were sold out. The Saga limited edition set is the last performance of the band with original singer Michael Sadler and was advertised this week for $25 while both the double CD and double DVD versions were both priced at $17 separately. If I’m going to buy the set then I might as well get both formats in one package for the lower price. I’ll be getting that one this weekend…..if they have it in stock!

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.

UPDATE -  12/6/07 – Arnel Pineda is the new Journey singer

UPDATE – 6/13/07Jeff Scott Soto is out of Journey 
————————————————————
From Melodicrock.com:

JOURNEY: STEVE AUGERI RETURNS HOME – JEFF SCOTT SOTO FLIES IN:
Steve Augeri
has stepped down as lead vocalist for Journey on their current tourand has returned home. This follows recent reports of vocal problems. His last show for this tour was in Raleigh, NC on Tuesday night.
During recent shows he has struggled with his voice and as I understand, he was aware before the show that this would be his last performance of this tour.
Although plagued with problems from the outset of the show, Steve handled himself with dignity and grace and has to be applauded for his contribution to the band and the manner in which he has handled himself.
Jeff Scott Soto, Neal Schon’s bandmate in Soul SirkUS has flown in to meet up with the rest of the band and will make his debut Friday night in Bristow, VA.
A statement has been prepared by Journey management:JOURNEY FORCED TO MAKE LEAD SINGER CHANGE ON NATIONWIDE TOURJeff Scott Soto to assume JOURNEY lead singer duties starting on July 7th in Bristow, VA due to Steve Augeri throat infection.
Due to a chronic throat infection, Journey’s lead singer, Steve Augeri, has been forced to leave the band’s current nationwide tour with Def Leppard. Jeff Scott Soto, who has previously performed with Journey guitarist Neal Schon, will assume the band’s lead singer duties starting with the July 7th show in Bristow, VA. Steve Augeri’s condition will be closely monitored by his physician to determine when he may be able to rejoin the tour.
According to Journey, “Steve’s been suffering with an acute throat condition since before we kicked off the tour with Def Leppard. We were hoping he’d be in well condition to handle the rigors of the road but unfortunately it appears to be a chronic condition requiring total voice rest. We all wish Steve a speedy recovery.”
For the latest tour dates, please visit www.journeymusic.com.”

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Steve Augeri sitting out this tour is another chapter in this band’s long history.
Augeri was recruited into the Journey ranks in 1998 after Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain decided they wanted to move forward with the band without signature member Steve Perry. Augeri had to work with a fanbase that was polarized by the idea of a Perry-less Journey. There were those that remained loyal to Perry, but Steve worked hard at winning fans over and did so with his natural charm and likeability.
Steve Augeri’s is today regarded as much for being the ‘good guy’ as he is for being the ‘new singer’ and he now has a passionate and loyal following of his own. He truly is a nice guy and someone that has made time for fans and worked hard at overcoming being known as ‘the guy that replaced Steve Perry.’
Augeri’s contribution to the band to date has forever been captured on the acclaimed, and quite superb, Arrival album and last year’s more diverse Generations release.
Steve and the band as a whole has had a grueling tour schedule to adhere to over the last few years. Steve has been suffering vocal problems since the outset of this current tour and no one can blame him or the band for this decision. A solution was needed sooner rather than later, especially with so many dates still to come.
Steve has had a documented history of throat problems and one can only hope that on this occasion he overcomes these issues and returns to full strength.
In the near future fans will be able to appreciate Steve at his very best when Tall Stories unveil their album of lost tracks from the early 1990s.
Congratulations to Jeff Scott Soto for being chosen to fill the prestigious role as vocalist for one of this genre’s most loved acts. Jeff is one of the hardest working singers on the planet. His work ethic and dedication to his live performance is unmatched. I should know…I toured with Jeff for 2 weeks in 2004 and was simply amazed at what went into every show. I have seen Jeff live 11 times now and haven’t seen a better performer on stage.
His energy is undying and his stage persona totally engaging. I know Journey fans will be saddened by Steve Augeri not completing this tour, but Jeff will continue the legacy with pride.
Most regular readers of this site will know of Jeff and his reputation. On a personal note, I’m thrilled for Jeff – he is one of the good guys.
Those that have followed him for as long as he has been in the business know what a hard working, sincere and honest guy he is. He is one to call it like he sees it and has earnt the respect of his peers and his fans alike.
His interaction with fans on the message boards here is further proof of his efforts to be accessible to fans whenever possible.
Those fans will be proclaiming that it is about time he was recognized for the talent that he is and I have no doubt that fanbase is about to get a whole lot bigger.

Obviously some will know Jeff from his work with Neal Schon in Soul SirkUS, but there is no doubt Jeff will adapt to what is required to sing the Journey classics.
Fans will be seeing a different show come Friday night. Jeff is one of the very finest rock vocalists out there, but he also has a soulful side and is greatly influenced by soul and funk as well and is a huge fan of Prince, the Motown sound and also Sam Cooke – a favourite of Steve Perry’s.
Jeff has been a long time fan of Journey’s, so much so that he has covered Edge Of The Blade and Send Her My Love on previous records. See below for some audio and video samples so you can get to know Jeff.

For those less familiar with the name Jeff Scott Soto, who is he and what’s his background?
He made his debut in 1984, fronting guitar hero Yngwie J Malmsteen’s band for 2 studio albums and a live release.
His main band through the years has been Talisman, a hard rock band featuring some of Sweden’s finest musicians. Talisman has just finished recording their 8th studio album, due for release later this year.
Another band Eyes were signed by a major label in 1990 and their debut album created quite a buzz before disbanding prematurely.
Jeff also recorded 3 albums with German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell – 3 albums that remain favourites among both Soto and Pell fans alike.

Jeff has recorded 3 solo albums – the latest of which is Lost In The Translation, which features a guest appearance from Neal Schon on the track Believe In Me.
Lost In The Translation is a hard rock album through and through. His diverse abilities are showcased on his other 2 solo albums – Prism is very much an AOR release, while his solo debut Love Parade is a mix of funk, soul, R&B and rock.

Jeff has appeared on several tribute albums including ones for Queen, Van Halen, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, The Sweet and Led Zeppelin.
Jeff has also had a long running association with the guys from Queen. Roger Taylor and Brian May have had Jeff up on stage with them on two different occasions and has also been the headline act at the UK Queen Convention twice, with his last appearance captured for a DVD release.
He also supplied some lead vocals for the movie RockStar. The Sammy Hagar written Stand Up being that movie’s best known song. Of course this is a 25 year career summarized in just a couple of paragraphs. Jeff’s website features an extensive bio and full discography for those curious to learn more.

The decision for Steve to return home was obviously one of the most difficult ever made by the band and management. Bringing in a replacement frontman at this juncture is a big move and I give huge credit to all involved for the decision they have made.
Jeff Scott Soto is a bold, but obvious choice. Jeff is one of the greatest frontmen I have ever seen. He will win over Journey fans and he will do a phenomenal job for this great rock band.

I am hoping this move by the band will now calm the message board wars that have been raging for the last month or so. There are no winners in fans fighting each other and while there will always be some that resent this or any band’s decisions, I for one hope that the decision taken this week will be seen as a positive step in getting the band back on track for the future.

Links and Downloads:

www.jeffscottsoto.com and www.journeymusic.com.