Posts Tagged ‘Keel’

I think I say the same things every year when I write the introduction to my Best of the Year list…..this year was one of the greatest years for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal! Every year it seems like more and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2010 was no exception, this was the biggest year for Heavy Metal Addiction as far as promotional review copies go. Usually, I physically buy all my new albums but this year I partnered with more labels, more promotional people and more bands and I received more albums for review than any other year. Honestly, I couldn’t keep up and I came nowhere close to listening to all of them properly. Looking at the piles on my desk, the boxes next to it and the separate iTunes folder I reserve for promo downloads, it’s easy to estimate that I have more new 2010 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than the last two years combined! Add in all the new releases I bought on my weekly trips to the record stores, and my daily online searches, and it’s fair to estimate that the total number of new releases from 2010 that I have right now at my desk is over 200.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was the same criteria I’ve used for the last few years: the album had to be a studio album (not a live record, best of, or covers collection) AND the album had to be released in 2010. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2009 overseas, but was released in 2010 for the U.S., qualified as a 2010 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I could have continued with a Top 40 list but I got so far behind listening and writing so there are definitely albums I haven’t heard yet or didn’t give proper time to. We’re talking a couple hundred albums though so anything that got missed might end up in an expanded “Albums I Missed in 2010″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 30 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here is Part 3, the Top 30 Albums of 2010 (#1 – #10):

#10

Mass – Sea Of Black (2010): The new Mass album was a complete surprise for me because I honestly really didn’t expect much. Maybe it’s because I didn’t get into Mass too much back in the ’80s, which is surprising because the band is from Massachusetts and that’s basically my backyard here in Rhode Island! I remember hearing a song called ‘Do You Love Me’ on the radio and I’ve seen the the albums on vinyl and cassette in old record stores but I never really got into the band. SEA OF BLACK is basically my formal introduction to the band it’s a great Melodic Rock/Melodic Metal album that has a serious ’80s retro sound. Opening track ‘Falling From Grace’ starts the album off right with a high powered Metal guitar crunch but with a great melodies and harmonies…..and that’s a perfect way to describe the album! Mass has re-released most of their back catalogue on Retrospect Records and they are also available on their website so now I will be filling the holes in my collection! http://www.massrocks.com/

#9

Keel – Streets Of Rock & Roll (2010): Keel was one of those bands from the ’80s that I got into because of the Gene Simmons connection but, as time went on, I forgot about the KISS connection because the band itself was really great. It’s been 21 years since the band released a true studio album so getting a reunion record as good as STREETS OF ROCK & ROLL is a major comeback. I liked the fact that the album sounds like classic ’80s Keel but with a grittier and deeper sound. Ron Keel’s voice sounds as good as it ever has, the band is as tight as it’s ever been and the quality of the songwriting is really great. A lot of times you get a reunion where the band is just going through the motions, and I thought that was going to be the case with Keel because of the 25th Anniversary of THE RIGHT TO ROCK, but the band stepped to the plate and made a Hard Rock album that could easily sit alongside the rest of their discography. http://keelnation.com/

#8

Krokus – Hoodoo (2010): 2010 was a year that a lot of bands who hadn’t been around in a while got back together and made a comeback album. Krokus has never really gone away because they’ve been releasing albums all along, the problem is that it’s never really been a true reunion, only just a member or two with a supporting cast. 2010 is the 30th anniversary since METAL RENDEZ-VOUS (1980), the band’s worldwide breakthrough album. Krokus had released three albums in the ’70s but the Metal really started in 1980. Back in the day, I was the only rocker I knew that new about Krokus so they were always like “my” band so I was looking forward to HOODOO a lot. HOODOO marks the reunion of the classic Krokus lineup from the ’80s and the band goes back to doing what they do best…..boogie woogie Hard Rock like AC/DC. That’s where Krokus sometimes gets a bad rep because AC/DC were the originators and it’s hard to imagine a band from Switzerland doing the same thing! It doesn’t matter if it’s a similar style, it’s good music that’s catchy and melodic all the while having great riffs that stick in your head.  HOODOO came out in April or early May but the single ‘Hoodoo Woman’ was released ahead of the album’s release, I still can’t get that chorus out of my head! A solid comeback, I hope this lineup does another album. http://krokusonline.seven49.net/Web/

#7

Masterplan – Time To Be King (2010): This is the third album in the row on this year’s countdown that’s a reunion and/or a comeback for a major band. The big selling point with Masterplan in 2010 is that Jorn Lande is back in the vocalist spot for the first time since 2005. The first two Masterplan albums were awesome but things happen sometimes and Jorn left in 2005 to be replace by ex-Riot singer Mike DiMeo for MKII (2006). This is another Power Metal/Progressive Metal album that really took hold of me as soon as I heard it. Maybe it’s because Jorn’s voice is so unique and he’s one of the top Metal singers around but all the songs are well-written, the musicianship is flawless and even the packaging is cool as a gold-embossed digipak. Just a quick mention here, drummer Mike Terrana is one of the most underrated drummers in Metal and he puts in an awesome performance on TIME TO BE KING. Definitely the best Power Metal album of the year and getting Jorn back in the band puts Masterplan right at the top of the heap again. http://www.master-plan.net/

#6

Crazy Lixx – New Religion (2010): Sweden’s Crazy Lixx have been on the scene for a few years now releasing single until their 2007 studio album LOUD MINORITY. When I heard that the band was releasing their second album in late March/early April, I really didn’t pay much attention to it because I really haven’t jumped on the Swedish Glam/Sleaze/Hard Rock scene that has really started to make waves around the world. I had an advance of the album and I gave it a quick listen and I was blown away! Here’s a band from Sweden that’s relatively unknown and they do ’80s Hard Rock better than some of the bands of that era! NEW RELIGION is one of the best Hard Rock albums to come out this year and I still haven’t taken it out of my weekly playlist. Big hooks and harmonies, guitar solos, and good time party Rock. I really enjoyed the Wig Wam’s NON STOP ROCK ‘N ROLL that also came out this year but NEW RELIGION takes it to a higher level and easily outshines that record. Definitely an album that travels back in time to the fun and excess of the ’80s and sounds fresh here in the 2000s. http://www.crazylixx.com/

#5

Black Country Communion – s/t (2010): Wow! Where did this album come from? Where did this band come from? Supergroups come and go and usually disappoint but, when you put Glenn Hughes on vocals & bass, Joe Bonamassa on guitars, Jason Bonham on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards, that’s a lineup of awesome musicians. But does it work? That’s the main thing and I was pretty skeptical, so much so that I blew off buying this CD for a couple of months and I didn’t pick it up until November. I put this in and I haven’t taken it out of my weekly rotation, Black Country Communion is a band that has a Classic Rock sound based on a combination of the Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll. It sounds like old school ’70s Rock that really sounds fresh today. Glenn Hughes is an amazing singer and Joe Bonamassa is a truly fantastic guitarist with a great feel, if you don’t know anything about these two musicians then you should Google them immeadiately and listen to some of their previous works. I almost put this in the #1 slot on this year’s countdown but, as I started re-listening to a lot of the albums from earlier in the year, I had to put four others ahead because of their impact. Black Country Communion is a band and album everyone should  check out. http://www.bccommunion.com/

#4

Scorpions – Sting In The Tail (2010): As soon as the Scorpions announced the release of STING IN THE TAIL, they also announced that this will be their last studio album and that the band is retiring. Sad news indeed to hear from a Hard Rock band that has been around for nearly 40 years but, if this is how they are going to go out, then STING IN THE TAIL is the way to do it! I was a huge fan of the updated sound the band created on their last studio album, HUMANITY HOUR 1 (2007), that I made it the Best Album of 2007 so I was looking for a continuation of that direction. This new record is really a continuation of the classic Scorpions Hard Rock sound from the BLACKOUT (1982) and LOVE AT FIRST STING (1984) eras. At first, I felt like this was a big step back for the band because they had done such a great job on HUMANITY but, after constant listens, this album grew on me and it’s become one of my favorites of the year. I got into the Scorpions with BLACKOUT and LOVE AT FIRST STING so this new album really brought me back in time and made me go back over the entire Scorpions discography…..they are one of the most consistent bands in the scene. Think about it, aside from EYE II EYE (1999), when was the last time you heard that a Scorpions album sucked? This may not be the best Scorpions album compared to the classics they have but it’s a great Hard Rock album and one I enjoyed a lot this year. http://www.the-scorpions.com/english/

#3

Accept – Blood Of The Nations (2010): In a year full of reunions and comebacks, Accept was really one of those bands that could have either hit it big or crashed and burned. One listen to BLOOD OF THE NATIONS and it’s easy to hear that they easily hit it big! A classic Accept lineup reunited headed by lead guitarist Wolf Hoffmann but the distinct Accept vocalist, Udo Dirkschneider, refused to take part. That meant the band needed a singer and the biggest question mark would be former T.T. Quick frontman Mark Tornillo. The band wrote an album of killer Heavy Metal songs, put in a ton of great riffs and then Mark put in a brilliant performance on vocals. Not every band can replace such a unique singer like Udo, Accept tried that back in 1989, but Accept really hit with Mark. I can’t say enough about how Mark sounds like Udo but really puts his own stamp on the songs and takes everything to another level. I’m not sure that BLOOD OF THE NATIONS would have the same impact if Udo did re-join the band. Here’s hoping the band continues making new records because they have set the bar high, one of the best comeback albums of the year! http://www.acceptworldwide.com/

#2

Iron Maiden – The Final Frontier (2010): Iron Maiden is no stranger to my year end countdowns because they always release such high quality albums and DVDs that it’s hard not to automatically install them at #1. So 30 years have gone by since the band’s self-titled debut and it’s been four years since the band’s last album A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH (2006), so how did Maiden do? Well, I called this the album of the year in my review and it came so damn close! Say what you want about Metallica but I would argue that Iron Maiden is the biggest Heavy Metal band in the world and they make better albums then Metallica could ever hope to make. There is a tradition, a pedigree, a reputation that Iron Maiden has and they always rise to the task and create albums that just blow every other album away. THE FINAL FRONTIER gets better with every listen with some much to hear in every song. I know a lot of old school and/or casual fans prefer to hear the quick ‘Run To The Hills’ style Iron Maiden but the band is at their best when they write new material that has a Progressive edge to it. THE FINAL FRONTIER is a 76 minute album that reflects both styles and I haven’t stopped listening to it. A lot of that has to do with being a fan for 28 years and Maiden being in my Top 5 favorite bands of all-time but the album is high quality crafted Metal. Iron Maiden are legends and innovators and everyone else should follow their lead. http://www.ironmaiden.com/

One album to go everyone! The #1 album is next but before I get to it let me say again how great this year was for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal…..my Best of 2010 list, along with the other websites’ lists, will attest to that. I’ve listened to more new releases this year than any other year that I can remember and this year’s list was a hard one to make, there were so many really good albums, so many comebacks and reunions that it became one of the hardest lists to make in the site’s 5 year history. I really had a tough time with this list because I kept going back and forth between the new Iron Maiden record and this next album…..so here is my #1 Album of 2010…..

#1

Ratt – Infestation (2010)

2010 was definitely the year of the Ratt! I never thought that after eleven years since the last reunion and album that Ratt would ever get back together with founding vocalist Stephen Pearcy since there was so much bad blood and legal issues but the band put that stuff aside and set out to make INFESTATION. I’ve been a Ratt fan since OUT OF THE CELLAR (1984) and they have always been one of my favorite ’80s Hard Rock bands. I was psyched to see them on the 1999 Poison reunion tour and I thought they blew Poison away so I was hoping for a full tour after this album was released. Unfortunately, it seems like the band have gone their separate ways again and the future is in doubt for a follow-up album. INFESTATION is the classic Ratt sound: sleazy old school Hard Rock. Right from the opening rocker ‘Eat Me Up Alive’ to the classic ’80s style single ‘Best Of Me’ to the swagger of ‘Look Out Below’, Ratt has really pulled out all the stops writing some really solid songs. The founding trio of Pearcy, drummer Bobby Blotzer and guitarist Warren DeMartini are all on board, as is long time bassist Robbie Crane, but the addition of former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo really stabilizes the band’s sound in a way that hasn’t been heard since the glory days when the late Robbin Crosby traded licks with DeMartini. I bought this album the day it was released in April and it still gets plenty of playing time in my weekly rotation and if I had to name a song of the year, it would easily be ‘Best Of Me’, that song alone brings the band right back to the classic Ratt style of the ’80. Of all the albums I heard this year, INFESTATION is the one I enjoyed the most. Great album, great comeback…..too bad it’s probably over already! http://www.therattpack.com/

Not every album released is a new studio album…..but it sure seems like they are! Every year there are a ton of live albums, greatest hits packages, reissues, remasters, box sets, special edition and limited edition releases that flood the marketplace. Sometimes there are multiple versions of these releases depending on which part of the world they are released in!

The one important criteria I have each year for the best and worst albums lists is that the albums have to be new studio albums…..or at least promoted as new studio albums. The problem is that some of these live records and greatest hits packages are quality releases and there’s nothing like getting a really good reissue of some long out of print album you’ve been searching years for. That’s why this year I’m creating this new list to recognize some of the quality non-studio, non-original releases that have found their way into my collection. There were a lot of different releases that I picked up that weren’t studio albums so I’m only going to list my ten favorites. So here are my Best Miscellaneous Releases of 2010…..

Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol Deluxe Edition (1987/2010): Black Sabbath is one of my favorite bands and the Tony Martin era of the band is one of the most underrated eras of any band. It’s no secret that I prefer the Dio era and the Martin era to the Ozzy era (I like the Ozzy era too!) so I’ve been collecting these Sabbath deluxe editions all along. The original release of THE ETERNAL IDOL was in 1987 and was the last album under Sabbath’s Warner Bros. contract but did you know that Tony Martin wasn’t the original vocalist that recorded the album? Sabbath fans know that Ray Gillen, who replaced Glenn Hughes on THE SEVENTH STAR tour and would go on to front Badlands, did the original sessions. When Gillen left Black Sabbath, Tony Martin was brought in to re-cut the vocals and properly join the band. The original album is remastered and it sounds great but the gems here are the two B-Side singles ‘Black Moon’ and ‘Some Kind Of Woman’. Disc Two is the collectible for fans who don’t trade bootlegs: the Ray Gillen sessions! These sessions have been widely available in traders’ circles but I could never acquire a copy…..now I don’t have to!

Dio – At Donington, UK: Live 1983 & 1987 (2010): As a huge Dio fan, Ronnie’s death in May really affected me, the thought of my heavy metal heroes passing away was unbelievable because the music and the bands have meant so much to me for the last 28 years. With no new music coming from the Dio camp, unless there’s some unreleased material, it’s good to see that Ronnie’s wife and manager, Wendy Dio, is releasing archival material like this live set. Both shows have been cleaned up and sound great, you can hear the awesome power in Ronnie’s voice and both lineups are extremely tight. Both the 1983 and the 1987 sets are awesome but I keep reaching for the second disc for the DREAM EVIL setlist with tracks like ‘Dream Evil’, ‘Naked In The Rain’ and ‘All The Fools Sailed Away’ among the other Dio anthems and the Black Sabbath and Rainbow classics. Disc 1, the HOLY DIVER set, is no slouch either and might be most fans’ favorite of the two but I like the deeper tracks on Disc 2. A great live CD set that truly honors one of the greatest singers in Metal history.

Judas Priest – British Steel (30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) (2010): Judas Priest have been my second favorite band since 1982 and BRITISH STEEL (1980) has been a big reason why. This 30th anniversary set was hard to come by because I wanted the three disc version rather than the two disc and it was definitely worth the search. The remastered album is already in my collection because it’s the same as the 2001 remaster but the reason to buy this is the live CD and DVD recorded in Florida on the 30th Anniversary tour. I saw the show in Mansfield 10 days before this show so the performance is like a tour souvenir for me. There are a lot of deluxe edition and limited edition reissues of older albums flooding the marketplace now and it’s good to see that some of them have the quality bonus material that this package does. My only complaint is that the label put out two versions: this one and a 2 disc without the live CD, it makes things confusing for the fans and harder to find what you want.

Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010): Has it really been 25 years since THE RIGHT TO ROCK came out? 1985 doesn’t seem that far away! The Keel reunion and new album was one of the reasons why THE RIGHT TO ROCK got a proper reissue on Frontiers Records. I’m putting this album in this list because I’ve had this album on both vinyl and cassette but a CD version is very hard to find. There may have been a Japanese CD edition back in 1985 but I have no information and the Metal Mayhem reissue from 2000 seemed a little basic, a little “bare bones”, even though it was officially endorsed by Ron Keel himself. The remastering sounds great and it’s cool to get a couple of bonus tracks but I would have like a little more in the way of extras. The selling point for me was getting a definitive official CD reissue to add to my collection.

Jorn – Dio (2010): This album wasn’t without some controversy with it’s release coming quickly after Ronnie James Dio’s passing but this album was already made and ready for release when Dio passed so it was just a matter of bad timing. I’m not a fan of cover songs but I can do a tribute or covers album…..odd, isn’t it? The selling point here was the original song and video ‘Song For Ronnie James’ that was to be Jorn’s special tribute to the man who influenced him as a singer. Then the balance of the album would be Jorn and band covering different Dio songs. What made this one of the better non-studio releases was the tracklisting, Jorn went through the Dio catalogue and picked out a lot of songs that don’t normally make it into Dio’s “greatest hits”. Songs like ‘Invisible’, ‘Sunset Superman’, ‘Push’, and ‘Shame On The Night’ were all good to hear as part of the tribute instead of the usual fare like ‘The Last In Line’ and ‘Holy Diver’.

MainEEaxe – Shout It Out (1984/2010 reissue) & Going for Gold (1985/2010 reissue): One of the things I like to collect is bands and albums from the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and these two MainEEaxe albums have been on my radar for a long time. These two reissues are great because they have all the criteria needed: bonus tracks, extensive liner notes and credits and pictures. A lot of care on the part of Cherry Red Records/Lemon Recordings went into these packages because everything is here including album and single artworks. What makes these reissues worth it is that all the bonus tracks are songs from MainEEaxe’s hard to find singles and E.P.s…..if you do the research, every song the band recorded is on these two reissues in proper order and the singles and E.P.s are noted in the credits. When you’re talking hard to find records from the mid-80s, it’s good to get everything together on CD, I wish every reissue could be done so well.

Savage Grace – The Dominatress/Master Of Disguise reissue (2010) & After The Fall From Grace/Ride Into the Night reissue (2010): As if the two MainEEaxe reissues weren’t enough, Limb Music takes reissuing to another level with these two sets from Savage Grace. I have had the album cover for MASTER OF DISGUISE in my mind for years from when I was a record store junkie as a kid, and I just recently got around to buying it on vinyl, but I wanted proper CD versions of all the band’s albums to preserve my pristine LPs. You can tell Limb went above and beyond with these reissues by adding in all the songs from Savage Grace’s hard to find demos and the RIDE INTO THE NIGHT E.P. (1987). That alone is the selling point aside from a proper CD pressing but then there are lyrics to all the songs, pictures, extensive liner notes and band history. One of the things I was looking for on these reissues was to see if the original album artwork would be retained because it’s a bit X-rated for our time 25 years later and it is. Image this album artwork on store shelves today!

Triumph – Greatest Hits Remixed (2010): Normally a greatest hits collection wouldn’t get my juices flowing but Triumph always puts out great releases when they have full control. Back in 1989, a greatest hits package titled CLASSICS was released by MCA Records but, by then, Triumph was basically over as far as the classic lineup went and CLASSICS was a quick cash in as the band’s contract ended. There hasn’t been a Triumph compilation since but, now that the band has the rights to their music catalogue, they have created their own. This is a two disc set including a DVD of 14 music videos and the Canadian Hall Of Fame induction ceremony, that’s the selling point because it’s a great package for the price. The music CD sounds great and you can tell that the band took good care in remixing the songs for the best sound. The only problem I have is that some of the songs, when compared to the originals, sound different. I’m not one for redoing the original to the point where you can pick out obvious differences and I picked up on this when I sat down and compared these remixes to the originals…..yes, I did compare the two! Aside from that small complaint, it’s great to get so much music for so little money. I paid $12 for two discs (14 songs & 14 videos), similar packages released this year were much more expensive and didn’t have that much content.

Keel – Streets Of Rock & Roll (2010, Frontiers Records)

  1. Streets Of Rock & Roll
  2. Hit The Ground Running
  3. Come Hell Or High Water
  4. Push & Pull
  5. Does Anybody Believe
  6. No More Lonely Nights
  7. The Devil May Care (But I Don’t)
  8. Lookin’ For A Good Time
  9. Gimme That
  10. Hold Steady
  11. Live
  12. Brothers In Blood

Band Lineup:
Ron Keel – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Marc Ferrari – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Bryan Jay – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Geno Arce – Bass & Vocals
Dwain Miller – Drums & Vocals

Producers: Pat Regan with Paul Shortino (Lead vocal tracks only)

Country: USA

Total Time = 50:18

Keel
Keel MySpace page
Ron Keel
Frontiers Records

It’s been a long time since we have had a new Keel record, 12 years have passed since the band’s brief reunion in 1998 for the VI: BACK IN ACTION album. That album was just a bunch of unreleased material, outtakes and demos that the band got together to finish off and release…..not what I call a full reunion. You have to go all the way back to 1989 to the LARGER THAN LIVE album to find new studio material and that was 21 years ago. You would think that the reunion trend started around the KISS reunion in 1996 would have brought a Keel reunion, everyone else got back together! The good news is that the band is together now to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of THE RIGHT TO ROCK album and Keel has given us diehard fans a brand new studio album.

So what does Keel 2010 have to offer? A whole helluva lot actually! First off, almost the entire band is back together, the only member not participating is original bassist Kenny Chaisson, replaced by Geno Arce who has played consistently with Ron Keel in Iron Horse. You’ve got the double guitar attack of Brian Jay and Marc Ferrari back together in top form and drummer Dwain Miller back on the skins. Of course, the man himself, Ron Keel is back on the mic (it would be hard to replace the guy that the band is named after!) and he sounds better than ever. That’s no surprise because Ron has been busy with his own career post-Keel with bands like Fair Game, Iron Horse and his solo career which has taken him into the Country Music world as Ronnie Lee Keel. As far as the new album goes, the band has said that they would create an album that didn’t stray too far from their ’80s Hard Rock roots and retain all the classic Keel elements…..that’s the formula that helped them sell over 2 million records over their career.

Opening the album is the title track and it’s a clear sign that Keel is following the big sound that they had back in the ’80s, ‘Streets Of Rock & Roll’ is a melodic Hard Rock song with a catchy chorus and big background harmonies. Add the guitar solos in and this throwback starts the record off in style. ‘Hit The Ground Runnin’ has more of a Metal guitar sound from Ferrari and Jay, the main riff almost has a slower Judas Priest quality to it but the song as a whole is another melodic Hard Rock affair with another set of lush harmonies around the chorus. Another hard rocker comes with ‘Come Hell Or High Water’ with fast paced drums and solid riffs but the title and chorus have that “Gene Simmons leftover” feel to it. The chorus sounds like a Gene sung KISS track from the ’80s and the thing that saves the song from being Gene throwaway is the excellent guitar work, that is what gives the track it’s attitude and drive.

Moving back into the ’80s style is the AOR/Melodic Rock of ‘Push & Pull’, my favorite of the album. Very catchy song, great melodic riff with a solid hook, if a band like Bon Jovi recorded something like this nowadays it would be a big hit. Keel have a good first single here with ‘Push & Pull’, I hope they release it. Every album needs a ballad and Keel doesn’t disappoint with the beautiful ‘Does Anybody Believe’, a track that will be a concert fave because it’s made for the crowd’s lighters…..or maybe cell phones now that we’re in the 2000s! The song has an acoustic base but the guitars come in and really add some power to it while Ron Keel lays down a solid vocal. This is another favorite for me, a nod to power ballads of 20-25 years ago for sure. The band races back with more solid Hard Rock songs with the uptempo ‘No More Lonely Nights’ and ‘The Devil May Care (But I Don’t)’. ‘No More Lonely Nights’ has some serious guitar work that slices right threw the speakers and the song builds right into the powerful harmonized chorus, Ron really kills it vocally as this is one of his best performances. ‘The Devil May Care’ has an AC/DC sound to it on the guitar tones and main riff with Ron choosing to go a little higher in his delivery, that just shows the guy’s singing voice has only gotten stronger and more versatile as the years have gone by.

‘Lookin’ For A Good Time’ is your typical party rocker but it’s a little subdued and has a little resemblance to the title track. The bite comes back with the gritty guitar groove of ‘Gimme That’, a song that has Whitesnake written all over it. It’s very ‘Still Of The Night’ with it’s start and stop shythm but I’d say this song is a little more stripped down than the Whitesnake song, not as glossy. ‘Hold Steady’ is just that…..steady it’s a good solid track that fills the album in nicely with another melodic rocker. Another standout ’80s arena rocker is ‘Live’ and it’s another favorite of mine. Another melodic anthem with plenty of guitars, harmonies and even some cowbell! You put this on Bon Jovi’s last record and you have a hit, maybe Jon & Ritchie should get Ron Keel to write a few tunes for them? ‘Live’ has “hit single” written all over it! Unfotunately every album must have a last song and ‘Brothers in Blood’ ends this album with a power Hard Rock style. What amazes me on this song, and the album in general, is how easily Ron can move his singing voice from style to style. On ‘Brothers In Blood’, he goes from melodic, to the higher notes, to a grittier/deeper sound and he really puts in a memorable performance. That’s how the entire album is vocally and on the guitar.

Bottom Line:
I have every album Keel has released and it’s easy to say that STREETS OF ROCK & ROLL fits in with classic albums like THE RIGHT TO ROCK (1985), THE FINAL FRONTIER (1986) or KEEL (1987). This album is diverse, powerful and melodic all in one. The songwriting is top notch and the vocals and guitars are Hard Rock perfection while the rhythm section is solid. This a true band performance that fires on all cylinders. A lot of times you get these ’80s bands reuniting and they say they want to record a great album so their reunion is not a nostalgia trip, Keel has gone a step further and crafted an album so good that it’s like they’ve never been away. This is definitely one of the top releases of the year and, if you’re a fan of Keel or ’80s Hard Rock, you should definitely pick up this CD.

Favorite Songs:
I like every song on the album, there really isn’t a weak link of filler track. if I had to pick just five songs they would be ‘Streets Of Rock & Roll’, ‘Push & Pull’, ‘Does Anybody Believe’, ‘No More Lonely Nights’ and ‘Live’.

Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010, Frontiers Records)

  1. The Right To Rock
  2. Back To The City
  3. Let’s Spend The Night Together
  4. Easier Said Than Done
  5. So Many Girls, So Little Time
  6. Electric Love
  7. Speed Demon
  8. Get Down
  9. You’re The Victim
  10. Easier Said Than Done (Remix version)*
  11. The Right To Rock (Reunion version)*

(* Bonus tracks)

Band Lineup:
Ron Keel - Lead Vocals & Guitar
Bryan Jay – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Marc Ferrari – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Kenny Chaisson – Bass & Vocals
Dwain Miller – Drums & Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Steve Riley – Additional Drums & Vocals on the original record
Geno Acre – Bass & Vocals on ‘The Right To Rock (Reunion version)’

Producer: Gene Simmons

Country: USA

Total Time = 40:39

Keel
Keel MySpace page
Ron Keel
Frontiers Records

Hot on the heels of a Keel reunion, complete with a new studio album titled STREETS OF ROCK & ROLL, Frontiers Records has seen fit to reissue Keel’s second album THE RIGHT TO ROCK. The original release was way back in 1985 on A&M Records/Gold Mountain Records and produced by KISS bassist Gene Simmons. The Gene Simmons connection was the main reason why I bothered to check out Keel because I figured if such an important rock star from my favorite band was producing, then it had to be good. Then I saw ‘The Right To Rock’ video on MTV and found Keel’s first album, LAY DOWN THE LAW (1984), and I was definitely hooked. As a young headbanger, Keel was one of those new bands that I pushed on my friends but no one really got into…..years later I’m still a Keel fan. This reissue is pretty much the same music as on the original album but with two bonus tracks: ‘Easier Said Than Done (Remix)’ and ‘The Right To Rock (Reunion Version)’. The remix of ‘Easier Said Than Done’ was previously released on the 2000 reissue of the album on Metal Mayhem Records and the new version of ‘The Right To Rock’ was recorded with the current Keel lineup that includes new bassist Geno Acre.

Back in the day, Keel rocked hard! ‘The Right To Rock’ was definitely a true Hard Rock anthem and ‘Back To The City’ had some blistering guitar…..for a band out of Los Angeles, these were heavy songs. Right away you could hear the power in Ron Keel’s vocals and the overall energy of the band. That energy is immeadiately destroyed by the band’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ classic ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’…..was this Gene’s idea? I remember hating this cover back in the day and fast forwarding my cassette everytime! You had the catchy hook of the Gene Simmons penned ‘Easier Said Than Done’ that should have been a hit single and the obvious KISS influence of ‘So Many Girls, So Little Time’. Not taking anything away from Keel with using Gene’s guiding hand, he can write and produce, and they do a good job on what sounds like an ANIMALIZE B-side. I give Ron Keel credit for doing his best Gene impressions vocally, especially on ‘So Many Girls, ‘So Little Time’. ‘Electric Love’ is a little more commercial like ‘Easier Said Than Done’ but the crunch is in the vocal, ‘Speed Demon’ is hard and fast with a NWOBHM feel to it, and ‘Get Down’ (the third song written by Mr. $immons) has that lumbering CREATURES OF THE NIGHT era sound with thick guitars and loud pounding drums. Read the lyrics to ‘Get Down’ and tell me that’s not pure Gene with some classic phrases…..another KISS-sounding track circa 1982-1984. ‘You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)’ is a pummelling track that starts off with a quick drum solo intro and then chugs along with lightning power that rivals NWOBHM legends Saxon and puts Keel in a heavier class than their peers out of L.A. (Quiet Riot, Ratt, Motley Crue, etc.).

The bonus tracks are good but not spectacular. The remix of ‘Easier Said Than Done’ I already knew because I bought the Metal Mayhem reissue when it was released…..it’s a little different but not as good as the original. The new version of the title track is pretty good, obviously more modern seeing that the band has aged 25 years, and a little more gritty and raw. It doesn’t have the power and energy of the original but it’s cool to hear the band’s interpretation over two decades later and get a feel of how they sound now. Then there’s the packaging: the cover art is altered slightly to add the “25th Anniversary Edition” title at the bottom and the booklet includes all the original credits, the new credits, song lyrics and an essay by Eddie Trunk. A new promo picture of the current lineup is added in and a smaller promo pictire circa 1985 is added to the song credits page. The back of the album has the band picture from the original album.

Bottom Line:
As far as the music goes, THE RIGHT TO ROCK is still a solid album 25 years later. What impresses me now after all this time was how heavy Keel was in the early days…..’Speed Demon’, ‘Back To The City’ and ‘You’re The Victim (I’m the Crime) are pure Heavy Metal. I know Keel gets lumped in with all the other L.A./Sunset Strip bands that dominated FM Radio and MTV but they were definitely a Metal force…..maybe the Gene Simmons connection takes away from that too? As far as the reissue goes, it’s a good package that’s done very well. I wouldn’t have minded seeing some more vintage pictures of the band included and maybe some long lost demos or unreleased songs, that would have made this extra special. At least there were two bonus tracks to give this reissue a couple of extras. I like this reissue better than the Metal Mayhem version for the extended booklet with lyrics but, for comparison’s sake, the Metal Mayhem version is also an official reissue because Ron Keel himself endorsed it at the time and wrote a quick essay in the liner notes.

Favorite Songs:
On the original album I like every song except the cover of ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’. The highlights are ‘The Right To Rock’, ‘Back To The City’, ‘Easier Said Than Done’, ‘Speed Demon’ and ‘You’re The Victim (I’m The Crime)’. Of the two bonus tracks, I like the updated 2010 version of ‘The Right To Rock’ better.

I got my taxes done in early February so the annual refund windfall my family receives is always a welcome event to start the new year. I’ve spent a lot of money in the last 30 days between paying down debt, buying new furniture, a big T.V. and a long-awaited Playstation 3. I spent a little bit of money on music but not a lot, I’ve just been keeping up with some of the newer releases and a few that I missed in 2009. So here’s what I picked up in the last month or so…..

Foreigner – Can’t Slow Down (2009) – $12: This was one of the albums that I missed in 2009 that I had heard so many good things about but never got around to setting foot in a Wal-Mart because I hate it so much. If I have to go into a Wal-Mart for any reason then it means that either my wife has brought me in or whatever I need is only available there. The last time I was in Wal-Mart was when I bought another exclusive, KISS – SONIC BOOM (2009). I should have just bought this new Foreigner album then but I didn’t for some strange reason. Same deal as other Wal-Mart exclusives: a 3 disc set including the new record, a CD of re-recorded hits and a live concert DVD. Great value, bad retail environment.

Overkill – Ironbound (2010) – $10: I hadn’t set foot in the record store in a couple of weeks so I went in specifically to get the new Overkill after I went to the Wal-Mart to buy the Foreigner album. I can’t remember the last time I missed an Overkill record and I wasn’t going to miss this one especially with a great release day sale price! How can you beat saving $6 off the regular price by picking the album up the day of release, or at least the week of release?

Icarus Witch – Draw Down The Moon (2010) – $9: Of course going to the record store means that you’re probably going to buy more than one CD and I started going through the Metal section. I completely forgot that the new Icarus Witch album had come out and I was shocked by the low sale price. If you’ve followed this blog for a while then you know that Icarus Witch is one of my favorite new bands of the last 4 to 5 years so this was an easy purchase.

Heavenly – Carpe Diem (2010) – $15: Can you guess by the album cover what type of Metal this is? If you guessed Power Metal…..you’re correct. CARPE DIEM was released on AFM Records everywhere but North America in the Fall of 2009 and I’ve had the digital promo from the label since then. I just can’t embrace downloading as a form of ownership yet (a topic for another time!), I’m an old school collector and I still like the CD, cassette, vinyl, or DVD in my hands. Like I said, AFM Records sent me the digital promo and the album is really good so I put this on my want list to physically own. The problem is that all the online stores I shop at, including Ebay, offered the European import from 2009 for $20+ and then a shipping charge on top of that! I wasn’t about to pay $25+ for a CD when I could wait patiently for a U.S. release. Same label, same packaging, same music but at least $10 cheaper by waiting.

Keel – Streets Of Rock ‘n’ Roll (2010) – $13: Same situation as Heavenly: I received the digital promo from the label, it’s a great album, put it on the want list because I want to own the physical product. I always wondered why Keel never got back together during the reunion boom of the last 15 years but it was definitely worth the wait because this new record is solid. Sale price was unadvertised and there was only one copy at the store so I snatched it up and saved a few bucks off the regular price and the online price at my online shops.

Keel – The Right To Rock (25th Anniversary Edition) (2010 reissue) – $13: It’s hard to believe that 25 years has gone by since this album came out. I have been a Keel fan since 1984 when they released their debut LAY DOWN THE LAW and I bought THE RIGHT TO ROCK on cassette when it came out back in the day. In the late ’90s when I got the Internet, I started to fill holes in my collection and there were a few Keel albums I needed to get on CD. I picked up a used copy of the 2000 reissue CD on the Metal Mayhem label but there has been some debate over the years if that was an official release or a bootleg (I always considered it an official release). Same situation as the new Keel album: I received a digital promo from the label and put it on the want list even though I already owned it…..I got a little excited over the reunion, the new record and the bonus track – ‘The Right To Rock (Reunion version)’.

Manowar – Hell On Earth V DVD – $30: I have been waiting for the latest installment of HELL ON EARTH to hit my local record store ever since Manowar’s website announced the release for all territories due in late November 2009. Unfortunately, North America was skipped! It’s been available through the Manowar website, online stores and Ebay ever since but for $40 – $50 + shipping depending on where you look. I was going to buy it directly from the band but it was $40 + shipping and I thought that was too much for a 2 DVD set. I caught the Newbury Comics weekly email on Monday and saw this was a new release with a $30 sale price so I figured I better get down there first thing Tuesday morning in case there was only a couple of copies. Manowar may have released some subpar albums in the last 10 years but their DVDs are awesome…..they rival both Iron Maiden and KISS for the top spot in Heavy Metal DVD releases. The only problem I had was that I got home and found out I’m missing HELL ON EARTH (Part IV) from 2007! Guess what just made the want list?

I spent a few bucks online at Ebay and a couple of shops also…..here’s the online take…..

Lynzee – Lost In America (2009) – FREE: That’s right…..a free CD! I entered a contest over at the Hair Metal Mansion and Andrew picked my name to win one of the three Lynzee releases he was giving away. Not a bad deal! This album is released through the excellent reissue label Retrospect Records and it’s a compilation of songs from Lynzee’s first two demos, some unreleased material and four new tracks re-done from the original masters way back in the day. If it’s free then it’s for me! It’s a cool way to discover a new band.

Dream Evil – In The Night (2010) – $15: I could have bought this one in the record store but it was the regular jewel case version and not the limited edition with the 2 bonus tracks, extended artwork and patch. Which one do you think I wanted? I checked all the online stores and the limited edition was going for $22+ so I started watching Ebay. I found a seller I’ve done business with in the past and he/she had 5 sealed copies with a BUY IT NOW price of $15…..one click of the mouse and it was mine!

Uncle Slam – Say Uncle (2010 reissue) – $15: The original pressing and the Japanese import always go for big bucks on Ebay and I have had this on my want list for a long time. When I got the press release from Tribunal/Divebomb Records about the reissue, I made a mental note to watch the street date closely. Of course, then I forgot all about it. The label had a special sale that ran for a limited time where you could get this reissue for $12 + $3 shipping, saving at least $5 off the regular price. I received a reminder email that the sale was ending soon and, with an hour to spare, I ordered my CD.

Krokus – Pay It In Metal (1978) – $10: I’m a big Krokus fan and I have always kept the first few Krokus albums on my Ebay watch list. I’ve had the opportunity before to buy PAY IT IN METAL but I’ve always passed because there was always something else to buy. This is actually a vinyl LP, in mint condition, and I won it at auction for $5. Add $5 for shipping and you get the total paid. PAY IT IN METAL is the third Krokus record and it is the same exact album as PAINKILLER (1978)…..the only difference is that the artwork and album title were changed for different countries. There are supposed to be five different covers for this record but I have only seen three: the PAINKILLER album, this U.S. version of PAY IT IN METAL and the German version of PAY IT IN METAL that has the peeled banana of coins. See the Krokus website for more details.

Knightmare – Unholy (2008) – $5: Another Ebay purchase at a great price! I’m not sure how I stumbled upon Australia’s Knightmare but I did and I did some research. UNHOLY is a 5 track E.P. that was limited to 500 copies worldwide and it is now out of print…..that means I had to have one! I found this one on Ebay for $1 and I waited until the last minute of the auction to make a bid…..add the $4 shipping and I got a great bargain on a rare CD.

Total = $142

Total (year) = $179

Total CDs (year) = 20

Total DVDs (year) = 1

Total LPs (year) = 1

A lot of you may be wondering where the heck I’ve been for the last month or so…..well, I’m still here! Sorry for the lack of posts but I got a few new “toys” with my tax refund (new furniture, a 52″ LCD HD TV, and a Playstation 3) and I’ve been spending most of my time away from the computer. I’m still listening to Metal, that never stops, so here’s what I’ve been listening to in the last couple of days…..

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009): This is an obvious must to keep playing because KISS is my favorite band, SONIC BOOM is clearly the best KISS record since REVENGE (1992) and it keeps getting better everytime I listen to it.

Bruce Kulick – BK3 (2010): Another KISS-related release! Bruce Kulick has always been one of the most underrated guitarists but he has always been one of my favorites because he lent stability and versatility to KISS during his tenure. I like the different sounds on this album: a little KISS, some Union, some alternative, some Hard Rock, some Melodic Rock. It’s a pretty good record and I will be reviewing it soon (I should have done this in the beginning of February!).

Brainstorm – Memorial Roots (2010): I’m still listening to January’s album of the month and I will be reviewing it soon. I definitely like this album better than their last, DOWNBURST (2008).

Keel – The Right To Rock (1985/2010 reissue): I was a big Keel fan back in the day based solely on my ability to draw both Keel logos (the band changed logos after their 1984 debut album LAY DOWN THE LAW). I did get into the music and I bought both the first three Keel records when they came out. Re-listening to this record was great because I hadn’t heard it in a long time…..’The Right To Rock’, ‘Easier Said Than Done’ and ‘Electric Love’ are still cool songs 25 years later! One thing I will say, Keel’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ is still awful!

Keel – Streets Of Rock ‘n’ Roll (2010): I never thought there would be a new Keel album but I’m psyched the band came back and released new material, it’s been a long time coming. The band sounds great and the songs are strong…..so far it’s one of the best records of the year for me.

Gamma Ray – To The Metal! (2010): Just got the new Gamma Ray disc from the label, it comes out in 2 weeks. I’ve been looking forward to this album since it was announced and I was surprised to find it in my mailbox. I’ve given it only one spin but I heard some pretty good songs right away.

Hammerfall – (all albums): Guess who I’m going to see in concert Saturday night? That’s right! Hammerfall is coming to the Worcester Palladium and I am making the 45 minute drive to finally see them live. I’ve been listening to all their studio albums in preparation for the show, my favorites are still the first two: GLORY TO THE BRAVE (1997) and LEGACY OF KINGS (1998).

I bought some good CDs in the last couple of weeks, mostly from Ebay and my weekly stop at the local shop. I bought a couple of albums this week that haven’t arrived yet: I pre-ordered the 2 disc limited edition of Whitesnake – Good To Be Bad through Amazon.com (see the link in the sidebar) and I won an auction for Y&T – Musically Incorrect (1996). Neither has arrived yet so I will list them in future editions. So here’s what I added to the collection recently…..

Keel – Lay Down the Law (1984) – $12.99: Keel’s first album was never officially released on CD but it has been widely bootlegged over the years. Finally, Ron Keel and Mike Varney of Shrapnel Records got together and put this album on CD. It’s a full-color digipak but no booklet and I’m not sure if it’s remastered. Either way, this is official issue and I can finally forget about digitizing my vinyl copy.

Lana Lane – Red Planet Boulevard (2007) – $14.99: I’m a big Lana Lane fan and I passed on this when it came out back in the Fall. I wasn’t happy that her previous album, GEMINI (2006), was an album of covers so I was reluctant to buy this one right away. So, in my quest to acquire albums from 2007 I missed, I picked this one up. It was also the last copy at the record store so I didn’t want to get shut out and have to order online, pay for shipping, etc.

The Sword – Gods Of The Earth (2008) – $9.99: Had to buy this the day it was released, especially at such a good sale price! I wasn’t too high on The Sword’s debut album, AGE OF WINTERS (2006), but it was still good. I did my research before hand and read a lot of reviews so I bought the hype and made the purchase. Not disappointed at all, it’s a solid Doom Metal album (read my review) and looks to be one of the best records of 2008.

Kamelot – Ghost Opera: The Second Coming (2008) – $10.88: Kamelot released Ghost Opera in 2007 and it was excellent, it made my Top 15 Albums of 2007. So now it’s 2008 and the band has re-released the album with the added title of “The Second Coming” and added videos to the main disc. A second CD is included wiith 10 live tracks from Belgrade and four bonus studio tracks. For the price I paid, that is totally worth it. Do all these bonus feature put this album in my Top Albums of 2008?

Bullet – No Mercy (1983) – $10.54: I have been after this CD for 10 years! I’ve had the opportunity many times but I have never pulled the trigger until now. This slice of German Metal was released on CD by the now defunct High Vaultage label in 1997 and included two demos as bonus tracks. I have been collecting High Vaultage releases for a number of years but they are starting to become had to find. I love the album cover! Picked this up on Ebay, price includes shipping.

Trixie – s/t (2003) – $25.25: This one I had to splurge on because I haven’t seen it go for less than $30 now that it’s out of print. This was released on Metal Mayhem in 2003 and it got rave reviews. I had a few opportunities to pick this up but I passed for other releases. Of course when I finally get around to buying it, it’s out of print! Another Ebay auction won, price includes shipping.

Tall Stories – s/t (1991) – $9.65: I’ve been in a Journey mood recently, especially the version with Steve Augeri at the mic. I thought that Journey record, ARRIVAL, was great so I’ve been playing it a lot along with the GREATEST HITS record. I figured I’d go back and listen to the Tall Stories album because I wanted to compare but it’s not there. I double checked my want list and it was there…..cross another one off the list. Ebay auction #3 of the week, price includes the envelope and stamps!

Roxy Blue – Want Some? (1992) – $8: I swear I had this album but it’s on my Want List and not in my collection. I really need to make a master list of my collection because this is happening a lot! Found this at a decent price and I was the only bidder. Usually this goes for $15+ on Ebay but it was only $8 with shipping. Another classic album cover!