Posts Tagged ‘MSG’

Here we go…..another late post…..another late update on my continuing quest for new additions to my collection…..

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PlanetHelix.com

Metal On Ice
Helix – A Heavy Mental Xmas (2008)
Helix – All I Want For Christmas…is the Leafs to Win The Cup! (7″ vinyl) - $35 bundle

Ebay

W.A.S.P. – Inside The Electric Circus (1986) – $8 used
W.A.S.P. – Live…In The Raw (1987) – $11 used
W.A.S.P. – The Crimson Idol (1989) – $8 used
Rhett Forrester – Gone With The Wind (1984/2001 reissue) – $9 used

Sammy Hagar & Friends (2013) – $7.25
King Kobra – II (2013) – $7.25
Coney Hatch – Four (2013) – $7.25
Little River Band – Cuts Like A Diamond (2013) – $7.25
Nightwish – Oceanborn (1998) – $10 used
MSG – Nightmare: The Acoustic MSG (1992) – $10 used
Great White – s/t (1984) – $5.50 used vinyl
Great White – Out Of The Night E.P. (1983) – $5.50 used vinyl

Amazon

Kill Devil Hill – Revolution Rise (2013) – $12
Tyr – Valkyrja (2013) – $10
Benedictum – Obey (2013) – $15
KISS – Best of Vol. 3 (The Millenium Collection) (2006) – $7

Newbury Comics

MSG – Bridge The Gap (Ltd. Ed.) (2014) – $24
Scorpions – MTV Unplugged: Live In Athens (CD/DVD) (2014) – $12
Iced Earth – Plagues Of Babylon (Dlx. Ed.) (2014) – $16
Nashville Pussy – Up The Dosage (Ltd. Ed.) (2014) – $16
Michael Monroe – Horns & Halos (2013) – $14
Lita Ford – The Bitch Is Back…Live (2013) – $0
Dream Theater – s/t (2013) – $14
Phil Anselmo & The Illegals – Walk Through Exits Only (2013) – $10 used
Trouble – Distortion Field (2013) – $0 used
Circle II Circle – All That Remains E.P. (2005) – $4 used
Andersen/Laine/Readman – Three (2006) – $4 used
Sinner – There Will Be Execution (2003) – $0 used
Royal Hunt – A Life To Die For (2013) – $18
Helker – Somewhere In The Circle (2013) – $10 used
Firewind – Few Against Many (2012) – $0 used

I started off the year with a major bang by scoring a lot of older releases and many 2013 releases that I received digital promos for from the labels. One of my resolutions for 2014 was to acquire more older catalog releases…..albums that have been missing from my collection for a long time.

My first purchase was from PlanetHelix.com, the official website of Brian Vollmer and Helix. The had a holiday bundle that included the Metal On Ice album, the Helix holiday CD and a bonus 7 inch vinyl single of the new Helix holiday song for a cool $35. I bought the deluxe package with the Helix t-shirt and baseball cap for $75.

Ebay was awesome for great buys early this year! I scored original Capitol Records pressing of the three W.A.S.P. albums that are missing from my collection. I’ve always had the entire W.A.S.P. discography be it on cassette back in the ’80s, the original pressing CDs and then the reissues with bonus tracks in the late ’90s. I sold my original pressings of all the W.A.S.P. albums about ten years ago when my wife and I were strapped for cash when our second daughter was born, and I sold them for decent bucks, but I’ve regretted it ever since. It’s been an on again/off again search for these original pressings but I finally decided to acquire them all once I found a seller that had them all up at once. Same thing happened with the Sammy Hagar, King Kobra, Coney Hatch and Little River Band CDs, these were all one lot at a great price from a reputable seller. I had all the digital promos but I wanted the first three albums in my collection, would have passed on the Little River Band if it was alone but it was a great price for the 4 CD lot. The other CDs I grabbed of Ebay were ones I stumbled on when I was searching some of my favorite sellers but my favorites were the two Great White vinyls I won for $5.50 each…..both original pressing in near mint condition.

I had to kill an Amazon gift card that I received for a Xmas present so I picked up some 2013 releases: Kill Devil Hill, Tyr and Benedictum. All were cheaper than actually buying them from the record store and, to round out my gift card, I added the KISS – Millenium Collection 3 compilation for completist purposes.

I did actually go to the record store three times to start the year! I stopped by the North Attleboro, MA Newbury Comics to pick up the new Michael Schenker Group album and I dropped $24 on the limited edition digibook with the bonus track featuring Don Dokken on vocals. I know that’s a lot of money but Michael Schenker is one of those artists that I will spend the extra money on. Luckily, I caught the sale because regular price on that bad boy was $30! While I was in store I added the new Scorpions MTV Unplugged CD/DVD and the new Iced Earth to the MSG album, both were on sale and I saved $5 and $8 respectively. The Scorpions release was cheaper on sale than on Amazon and it’s the CD/DVD version, same with the new Iced Earth which was also a CD/DVD combo.

My second trip out to the stores was to catch a Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale on all CDs. I made it up to the the big Newbury Comics in Norwood, MA (nice vinyl section there!) and scored mostly 2013 releases that I never bothered to pick up. I’ve been a Nashville Pussy fan since their first record so I needed Up The Dosage and I saved $3 buying the deluxe edition (2 bonus tracks) for $16 on sale. I paired it with Michael Monroe’s latest (also on sale for $14, saving $3) to get the Lita Ford live album free (also on sale for $14, regular $17). I paired the latest Dream Theater (also on sale for $14 from $17) with a used copy of the Phil Anselmo CD ($10 used instead of $16 regular) to get the latest Trouble album free $10 used instead of $16 regular). My last bundle was a few older releases that were all $4 used: Circle II Circle + Andersen/Laine/Readman = Sinner for free.

On the way home from Norwood, I hit the North Attleboro store to buy the latest Royal Hunt – A Life To Die For for a high priced $18 regular price, paired with a used $10 copy of the latest Helker album to get Firewind’s Few Against Many free. I already bought the Firewind album once and I uploaded it into my iTunes but I realized that the used copy I bought mid-year in a record store was NOT the jewel case version I thought it was. Upon further review, it was a ripped in half digipak version stuffed into a jewel case and priced as used. Needless to say, that won’t do for my collection, no damaged CDs allowed! When I found this copy used for $8, it was a an easy buy with Royal Hunt and Helker.

Totals

Total (Jan) = $344

Total (year) = $344

Average Price (per item) = $10.12

Total CDs (year) = 31

Total LPs (year) = 3

 

 

Continuing my late updates…..here’s September’s small hunt…..

Axe Witch – Hooked On High Heels (1985/2005 reissue) – $15.53
Michael Schenker Group – Rock Will Never Die (1984/2009 deluxe edition) – $12.80

A very small update for September as I only bought two CDs this month. There’s plenty of new releases that came out that I wanted to pick up but money gets a little tight sometimes and adding to my collection is a luxury. I did grab two CDs, one on Ebay and one on Amazon, both for great prices. First CD was the Axe Witch album on Ebay for just over $15. I like to collect certain record labels and one that is highly collectible is High Vaultage/Metal For Muthas. The label and imprint is long gone and the CDs are out of print so Ebay is the only way to acquire them. I’ve been watching various High Vaultage reissues from The Rods, Tank, Railway and Axe Witch for years and they are available for around $25…..I just don’t want to pay that much for them! When I find a low price, I go for it and winning this for $15.53 is an awesome price. The second CD I bought was another 2009 deluxe edition for the Michael Schenker Group by buying the live album Rock Will Never Die. My CD/DVD external drive died so I had to buy a new one and the best price was on Amazon. I was getting this no matter what so I decided to throw in a CD as well and knock one off the Amazon wish list. $12.80 is an awesome price for this CD because it ranges from $15 to $25 depending on the website or auction.

Total = $28.33

Total (year) = $1809.83

Average Price (per item) = $10.97

Total CDs (year) = 147

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 4

Total LPs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) =8

Another quick update on my purchases…..let’s close out the summer with August’s update…..in November!

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UFO – On Air at the BBC 1974-1985 box set (2013) – $24
Uriah Heep – Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble (1970/2003 deluxe edition) – $10
Uriah Heep – Salisbury (1971/2003 deluxe edition) – $11
Deep Purple – Who Do We Think We Are (1973/2000 reissue) – $12
Michael Schenker Group – MSG (1981/2009 deluxe edition) – $14.50
Michael Schenker Group – Assault Attack (1982/2009 deluxe edition) – $12.50
Michael Schenker Group – Built To Destroy (1983/2009 deluxe edition) – $8
Halford – Live In London (2012) – $8

Warrior – Ancient Future (1998) – $18
Warrior – The Code Of Life (2001) – $11.50
KK Wilde – Rock ‘n’ Roll (1991) – $11.50
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Play My Game (2009) – $9

I split this set of purchases up because I didn’t leave the house to go to the record store, I bought from Amazon and Ebay only. My birthday is in August and I’m a lot older now so presents aren’t important…..OK, yes they are! I can always count on my mom to drop my a card with $100 in it even at my ripe old age of 41 so I always thankfully take that $100 to the record store. This time around it was Amazon so I could get some albums that I would NEVER find in the record store. I bought a lot of deluxe editions of albums I needed to complete my collections. I bought the three MSG CDs to complete my deluxe series, the Deep Purple deluxe edition to keep that series going and I splurged on the first two Uriah Heep albums in deluxe form as well. The UFO box set is a 5 CD/1 DVD set of live recordings that I really wanted and refused to pay the $40 record store price and the Halford live album was a “thrown in” to keep the Halford collection growing, clear an item off my Amazon wish list and make it an even $100.

The second set of purchases were Ebay wins. I’ve been trying to complete my Warrior collection after reading an old Metal magazine I found in a box and it had an ad for Ancient Future inside. I did some research and it seems like that album and The Code Of Life are now hard to find in their original pressings from 1998 and 2001 respectively. I had been watching auctions for both original pressings float above $35 on Ebay so I decided to get into a bidding war on both when I saw a couple copies at low starting prices. I won both albums for a total of $32 (includes shipping) but it was a fight! I also scored an original pressing of the rare KK Wilde album Rock ‘n’ Roll for only $11.50. This album has gone down in price over the years, I’ve seen it go over $100 since I joined Ebay in 1999, so waiting years for a cheaper copy was well worth it. My last purchase was a new sealed copy of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens solo album that I already own but as a promo copy from the record label with no booklet and artwork, just a CD. I wanted an official copy and I found it for $9 total (includes shipping).

Total = $152.50

Total (year) = $1781.50

Average Price (per item) = $10.93

Total CDs (year) = 145

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 4

Total LPs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) =8

April was another big month of finds in the record store and online…..here’s what I got in April…..

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Sevendust – Black Out The Sun (2013) – $10
Kvelertak – Meir (2013) – $10

First trip of the month was a quick one to my usual record store just to pick up the latest Sevendust and Kvelertak CDs. Nothing really exciting or exotic about this purchase but I got two new albums for $10 each and saved $6 on each one compared to the regular price.

Michael Schenker Group – Temple Of Rock Live In Europe (2CD) (2013) – $13
Michael Schenker Group – Temple Of Rock Live In Europe (DVD) (2013) – $13
Queen – Hungarian Rhapsody (2CD/BluRay) (2013) – $26
Royal Hunt – 20th Anniversary Special Edition (3CD/DVD) (2013) – $14.30

The second trip of the month was for the Newbury Comics 35th Anniversary sale where everything was 35% off. This was where I was going to make some long overdue expensive purchases! I didn’t have a lot of time though so I went to my usual location close to the house and I picked up the latest Michael Schenker live album and DVD ($13 each, saved $7 each) the Queen – Hungarian Rhapsody (2CD/BluRay) ($26, saved $14) and the Royal Hunt 20th Anniversary (3CD/DVD) ($14.30, saved $7.70). I’ve had my eye on these for a while and I knew the sale was coming so I put all of them together on one shelf in the Music DVD/BluRay section and walked in, grabbed them, paid quick and went home.

Dio – Magica (picture disc) (2013) – $22
Skid Row – United World Rebellion Chapter 1 (2013) – $6
Kobra & The Lotus – s/t (2013) – $13
Ghost B.C. – Infestissumam (Deluxe Edition) (2013) – $12
Warbeast – Destroy (2013) – $12

Into Eternity – The Scattering Of Ashes (2006) – $4 used
Rainbow – Down To Earth (1979/1997 reissue) – $8 used
Iced Earth – Live In Ancient Kourion (2CD/DVD) – $17

RECORD STORE DAY!

I never miss Record Store Day and there was a line again this year at the Newbury Comics North Attleboro store. I’m not a big vinyl collector, just select Heavy Metal vinyl, so I only had my eye on one thing…..the Dio Magica picture disc. So, while everyone was going for these limited edition vinyl releases for RSD, I went over to the CDs and got what I needed. Saved $17 on all the new releases by getting them on sale plus I scored an Into Eternity CD I needed for $4 used and the 1999 remaster of Rainbow’s Down To Earth from 1979 (Graham Bonnet on vocals) for $8 used. I browsed around for a bit while the fury of the vinyl frenzy died down, then I walked over and plucked my Dio pic disc from the bin for $22. A little expensive but a limited edition numered copy.

Whitesnake – Made In Japan (2CD/DVD) (2013) – $15
Cauldron – Tomorrow’s Lost (2013) – $14
Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes (2013) – $10
George Lynch – Legacy E.P. (2012) – $6

Last trip of the month to the record store to grab the new Whitesnake (2CD/DVD), Tom Keifer and Cauldron albums on sale, saving $13 total off the regular sticker price and adding in a George Lynch E.P. for $6 new. Quick, easy and home with new treasures.

Blue Murder – s/t (1989) – $5 used
Faster Pussycat – s/t (1987) – $5 used
Faster Pussycat – Whipped! (1992) – $5 used
HARD – Time Is Waiting For No One (2010) – $10 used

Signal – Loud & Clear (1989) – $10 used
Tygers Of Pan Tang – Ambush (2012) – $9 used

Ebay was a good place in April because I picked up some harder than usual to find CDs. I got the Blue Murder and both Faster Pussycats from the same seller so I saved on shipping as well as price! Everything mint and cheap…..goodbye to those old cassettes! The HARD album replaces a digital promo the label sent me back in 2010, a little pricey but there was $3 shipping added to the $7 winning bid. The same seller sold me the Signal album as well so the shipping was free on that because I bought the HARD disc. I’ve been trying to track down an original copy of Loud & Clear for years but there’s always a bidding war upping the price. There have been a few reissues along the way as well but this copy was original and mint condition so I didn’t mind paying the extra money for it. Last Ebay find was the last Tygers of Pan Tang album, Ambush, from 2012. $9 used instead of $20 import price? A great deal!

Cheap Trick – The Complete Epic Albums Collection Box Set (2012), Live At Budokan (30th Anniversary Box Set) (2008) – $100

I registered at Pop Market.com years ago and there are good deals from time to time. I’ve been eyeing the Cheap Trick box sets for a long time and I was actually watching both on separate auctions on Ebay but this offer of both together for $100 plus free shipping was a great deal. I pulled the trigger immeadiately.

Y&T – Earthshaker (1981), Mean Streak (1983), In Rock We Trust (1984), Down For The Count (1985) (all Japanese imports) – $75

My last deal was for four Japanese imports of Y&T albums that I didn’t have. I was watching these for $25 each (that’s $22 + $3 shipping each disc) on Ebay but I waited because there were no bidders and the listings were flooded with the same CDs. Once the auctions for all four ended, I privately contacted the seller and politely requested a non-Ebay private sale at a lower price. $75 plus free shipping was my offer and the seller took it. I saved $25 off the initial Ebay listings and I can live with that, especially for mint Japanese imports with all the inserts inside!

Total = $444.30

Total (year) = $822.80

Average Price (per item) = $11.75

Total CDs (year) = 61

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 3

Total LPs (year) = 1

Total Box Sets (year) =5

February turned out to be a bit of a slow month but I was able to catch a good sale mid-month and I grabbed a couple CDs of Ebay…..no matter how slow it is, there are always bargains to be found!

Newbury Comics, Best Buy & Ebay

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Hammerfall – Gates Of Dalhalla (2CD/DVD) (2013) – $25
Holy Grail – Ride The Void (2013) – $12
Pink Cream 69 – Ceremonial (2013) – $18
Helloween – Straight Out Of Hell (2013 Deluxe Edition) – $17
CrashDiet – Savage Playground (2013) – $0

Dio – Stand Up & Shout (The Anthology) (2003) – $16 used
Christian Mistress – Possession (2012) – $14
Rival Sons – Pressure And Time (Deluxe Edition) (2011) – $0
Circle II Circle – Seasons Will Fall (2013) – $12
T&N – Slave To The Empire (2012) – $10
Rammstein – Sehnsucht (1997) – $0
Lordi – The Monster Show (2005) – $6 used
Lordi – Get Heavy (2002/2008 reissue) – $5 used
Lordi – Deadache (2008) – $0
Buckcherry – Confessions (2013) – $7
Michael Schenker Group – Michael Schenker Group (1980/2009 reissue) – $12
W.A.S.P. – The Headless Children (1989) – $6.50 used
Y&T – Contagious (1987) – $6.50 used

There wasn’t really much action in February, the holiday releases are over and bands are looking to mid-year for new albums so they can promote on tour in the Spring and Summer months. There were a few good new releases that came out and I hit the Newbury Comics in North Attleboro on 2/7 for the new Hammerfall live package and the latest album from Holy Grail. I’ve been a Hammerfall fan since they started in 1997 so I’ll buy every new release they have right away and Gates Of Dalhalla was no exception especially when it’s on sale! This is a cool live double CD with the show also on DVD in one package on sale for $25 (regular $30). I like getting these type of releases where its a package with both the audio and video, nothing is worse than a band releasing each format separately and charging MORE for the CD version (are you reading Iron Maiden?). I also picked up the new Holy Grail album on sale for $3 off the regular $15.

The second trip a week later found me banging on the door of the Newbury Comics Warwick location at 10am. Why? Buy 2, Get 1 Free on all new and used CDs! I will always take advantage of a sale like that so I was first in the door and immeadiately started snapping up some new releases I passed by so far this year. Unfortunately, the store is smart and they take any sale stickers off older new releases (does that sound right?) to make us pay the regular price but I’m slick and scouted the store out the day before. I immeadiately grabbed the new Pink Cream 69, Helloween and CrashDiet albums because they were all high priced. $18 and $17 are high prices for CDs but they are imports and I got the CrashDiet for free when it was also $17 regular price…..that ends up working out to just under $12 per CD. I picked up the Dio anthology used to complete the collection even though I have all the songs already on the proper albums and I was able to pair it with the latest Christian Mistress album and the freebie being the latest Rival Sons album, Pressure And Time, a deluxe edition that was priced for $12. After I bought the new Circle II Circle and the latest from the ex-Dokken members in T&N (Tooth & Nail), I added the only album I know from Rammstein for free instead of dropping the $10 on the used sticker. I also decided to pick up the rest of the Lordi albums to fill out my collection and I got Deadache for free ($4 used).

My last trip on the hunt for the month was to my local Best Buy to use up a $5 off coupon that was about to expire. There’s not much music in Best Buy anymore so it came down to buying the new Buckcherry album and saving the $5 off the $12 regular price. The good thing is that I love Buckcherry so this wasn’t a desperation purchase, I’ve been a fan of the band BEFORE the first album got released and BEFORE everyone got on the ‘Crazy Bitch’ single years later.

Of course, no month would be complete without a couple of Ebay purchases. I ended up scoring the 2009 reissue of the first Michael Schenker Group record with a ton of bonus material for a “better than Amazon” price of $12 (includes shipping). I also picked up original pressings of W.A.S.P. – The Headless Children and Y&T - Contagious for $6.50 each (that’s with shipping included!). The Y&T album was one of those CDs I just kept putting off for a great price but the W.A.S.P. album was a search that had to be fulfilled because I sold all my original pressings of the first six W.A.S.P. albums years ago when the remasters came out. The remasters sound horrible when you compare them to the original (something I didn’t really do back 10 years ago) so I’m on the search for all of them, the problem is that the original pressings are hard to find now.

Total = $167

Total (year) = $378.50

Average Price (per item) = $9.46

Total CDs (year) = 37

Total Box Sets (year) = 3

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here at Heavy Metal Addiction…..a real long time! Sorry to all my loyal readers but I just haven’t had the time or the inspiration to write about anything Hard Rock or Heavy Metal but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been buying my fair share of music! Seeing that we are at the end of the year, I figured it was about time I posted something and why not be a full update of everything I’ve bought since August? Enjoy and please leave some comments…..

(WARNING — This is going to be a long post!)

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August update

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Rainbow – Difficult To Cure (1981/1999 remaster) – $8
Fozzy – Sin & Bones (2012) - $13
Loudness – Eye To Dawn (2012) – $13
In This Moment – Blood (2012) – $10
Jackyl – Best In Show (2012 Best Buy Deluxe Edition) – $10
MSG – The Michael Schenker Story Live (1997/2001 re-release) – $0
Loverboy – Rock N Roll Revival (2012) – $0
Baroness – Red Album (2007) – $0
House Of Lords – Sahara (1990) – $0
Marshall Law – Power Games (1992) – $0
Headcat – Walk The Walk…Talk The Talk (2011) – $0
Exciter – Unveiling The Wicked (1986) – $0
Enuff Z’nuff – Welcome To Blue Island (2003) – $0
Zyklon – Aeon (2003) – $0
Ozzy Osbourne – Black Rain (Tour Edition) (2007) - $0
707 – The Bridge (2004) – $0
707 – Anthology (2009) – $0
Starz – Brightest Starz (2000) – $0
Petra – Still Means War (2002) – $0
Rob Zombie – The Sinister Urge (2001) – $0
Sentenced – The Cold White Light (2002) – $0
Frameshift – An Absence Of Empathy (2005) – $0
KISS – Destroyer Resurrected (2012) – $13
Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run (1975) – $0
Helix – Breaking Loose (1979) – $26.50 used
Mass – Voices In The Night (1989) – $9 used
Tokyo Blade – Camp 334 E.P. (2012) – $3 (iTunes download)

Where to begin? Obviously August was a good month! One thing that happens evey August is that my birthday rolls around and I get a lot of gift cards to Newbury Comics, my favorite record store, so that will account for all the CDs with zeros for amounts. Let’s analyze these purchases…..

I bought the new albums by Fozzy, Loudness, In This Moment, and KISS on the day of release and on sale…..I had to have the new Destroyer Resurrected the moment the doors to Newbury Comics opened because my KISS collection isn’t complete without the latest new album! The Bruce Springsteen disc was a gift from my best friend’s son who loves Springsteen and is trying to turn me on to his music. I like myself some Bruce, mostly the stuff I hear on classic rock radio, but this is the album I would pick to start getting into The Boss if I were buying it myself. The Helix and Mass CDs were auctions I won on ebay from the same seller, both are original pressings and the Helix album is especially rare and it’s been on my radar for a long time. The last album listed is a digital only E.P. by NWOBHM legends Tokyo Blade that I got from iTunes. I have NEVER bought anything from iTunes because I believe in physical media but there are no plans to release this on any other format so I had to bite the bullet and spend the $3. On to the freebies…..

Birthday = gift cards. I decided to head up to a different Newbury Comics, this time Norwood, MA, to see if there were any bargains to be had. Now this is the BIG Newbury Comics so they have excellent selection when I make the 45 minute trip a few times a year and right off the bat I found a used copy of Baroness – Red Album (2007) for what would have been $10 ($14 for the regular priced one that was there. Among the other highlights from this shopping trip, the Michael Schenker Group live double disc rerelease that would have been $14, the new Loverboy album that would have been $13 on sale ($20 regular price!), and a tour edition copy of Ozzy’s Black Rain used that has all the bonus material for all the different versions of the original album for a mere $6 used price. Of course I padded the collection with used CDs that ranged in price from $2 to $8 but they were all free for me.

September update

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Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last of a Dyin’ Breed (2012 Deluxe Edition) – $10
Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance 30th Anniversary Edition (2012) – $14
The Darkness – Hot Cakes (2012) – $16
Cloudscape – New Era (2012) – $15
ZZ Top – La Futura (2012) – $0
Steve Harris – British Lion (2012) – $13
Bullet – Full Pull (2012) – $13
Dokken – Broken Bones (2012) – $0

As September hits we have back to school for the kids, house preperations for winter, the beginning of football season and fantasy football and starting to think of the holidays…..that means money is at a premium and CDs have to wait. I was able to pick up some new releases in my two trips to the record store in September and I caught a great sale at the end of the month – Buy 2 get 1 Free on all regular and sale priced CDs.

On my 1st trip of the month, I had to have the deluxe edition of the new Lynyrd Skynyrd CD to get the 4 bonus tracks and was lucky to grab the last sale priced copy they had for $10 which saved me $7. Take a listen to the Skynyrd records with Johnny Van Zant on vocals, they are all excellent and rival the classic 70s era of Skynyrd with his late brother Ronnie fronting the band. Of course the legend of Skynyrd back in the day overshadows everything newer but the quality is definitely there. The other major purchase was the 30th Anniversary Edition of the classic Screaming For Vengeance from Metal legends Judas Priest. I love all the bonuses on these special anniversary releases and it makes it worth it to re-buy the album, this time around the big deal was the included DVD of Priest’s performance at the US Festival in 1983 but the live tracks and the bonus studio track ‘Prisoner Of Your Eyes’ add to the value. You can’t beat $14 for a CD/DVD combo and I still saved $3 buying it on sale.

The 2nd trip of the month was towards the end but that’s where I caught the special sale and picked up a bunch of new releases I was waiting on. My strategy is to always group the CDs by price from high to low so when I get to the register I get some of the higher priced CDs free. I had been waiting on Hot Cakes from The Darkness and missed the sale price so I had to pay the full $16 regular price and the new Cloudscape was the same deal at $15 regular price but I put them together with the new ZZ Top to get that one free and saved $14 right off the bat! The $14 was the sale price for ZZ Top but regular price was $17 so I really saved $17 in the long run. My second grouping was the new Steve Harris solo album ($13 sale/$17 regular) + the new Bullet ($13 sale/$17 regular) with the new Dokken ($12 sale/$18 regular) for free and saved more money. You have to love those Frontiers Records albums that are $17+ regular price, I would have choked if I had to pay that much for the new Dokken! At least I got it on a double sale!

October update

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KISS – Monster (2012) – $12
KISS – Monster (2012) – $15 (Wal-Mart exclusive limted edition zine-pak)
Arch Enemy – Stigmata (1998) – $4 used
Allen-Lande – The Revenge (2007) – $8 used
Dream Evil – Evilized (2003) – $8 used
Rob Rock – Garden Of Chaos (2007) – $8 used
Motorhead – March Or Die (1992) – $4 used
Cloudscape – Crimson Skies (2006) – $4 used
Kotipelto – Serenity (2007) – $4 used
Dragonforce – The Power Within (2012) – $13
Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2 (2 CD/DVD/Blu) (2012) - $18
Ten – Heresy And Creed (2012) – $12
Sister Sin – Now And Forever (2012) – $12
Night Ranger – 24 Strings & A Drummer (CD/DVD) (2012) - $10
The Sword – Apocryphon (2012 Deluxe Edition) – $12
Praying Mantis – Time Tells No Lies (1980/2011 remaster) – $13.50 (Ebay)

September was a slow CD buying month but October’s prospects improved and there were a few new releases that were must haves. Starting the month of right was the new KISS album…..Monster. I was out front banging on the door fo the record store so I could get this album as soon as the store opened, got it on sale for $12 and saved $4 off the regular price. Of course, KISS is my favorite band and they can’t do anything simple so I ran over to Wal-Mart right after to buy the limited edition zinepak exclusive to Wal-Mart.

My second CD hunt was at the Newbury Comics in Warwick, RI (about 20 mins from home) when the family and I were out for the day and they allowed me to go and search. Actually, they dropped me off and went to the Target down the road! Nothing is better when you walk into a record store and you start to find a lot of cheap CDs that you’ve been looking for…..obviously, I hit the store after someone dumped part of their collection because I’d never seen these CDs at this location before. Right away I found a copy of the latest Dragonforce record, The Power Within (2012), still on sale for $13 while the other two copies with it were regular price at $19. Then I started through the Metal section in alphabetical order and I found the Allen-Lande, Cloudscape and Dream Evil all used and immeadiately crossed them off my want list. I only had $60 in disposable CD income so I had to make wise purchases and I already had $33 worth of discs in my hand so I had to ignore some more higher priced used gems but I did make my way over to a sale table towards the front of the store. Score! Arch Enemy for $4 used, Motorhead for $4 used and Kotipelto for $4 used and Rob Rock for $8 used…..the Motorhead – March Or Die was a missing album in my collection and both the Kotipelto and Rob Rock CDs replaced very plain promotional CDs I received from the record label years earlier. I spent $53 on this trip so i was pretty psyched to come under budget just a little.

The last trip of the month also included an Ebay auction I actually won while I was in the record store! New releases everywhere during the last week of the month: the new Motorhead, Ten, Sister Sin, Night Ranger and The Sword were all high priority buys and the Ebay auction was the Praying Mantis reissue from Rock Candy Records. I saved $35 off the regular prices of the new releases by buying them on sale the day of release with the biggest savings coming from the Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2 release at $12 off. I also saved $6 on the Ten CD and $8 on the Night Ranger (both imports from Frontiers Records), $3 on the new Sister Sin and another $6 on the limited edition of the new CD from The Sword.

November update

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Mob Rules – Cannibal Nation (2012) – $14
Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension (Deluxe Edition) (2012) – $20
Kamelot – Silverthorn (Deluxe Edition) (2012) – $0
Geoff Tate – Kings & Thieves (2012) – $13
Twisted Sister – A Twisted Xmas Live In Las Vegas (2012) – $0
Butcher Babies – Butcher Babies E.P. (2012) – $5 (from Butcher Babies merchandise website)

Another slow month with the holidays looming…..I only made one trip to the record store but I made it count when they had a “Buy 2 get 1 Free” sale on all CDs. Of course they ring the CDs from highest to lowest so I paid for the limited edition version of the new Aerosmith record and the new One Direction limited edition new album (I have a daughter that loves that boy band!) for $20 each and I got the new Kamelot – Silverthorn limited edition for free. I forget what the regular price on the One Direction CD was but that wouldn’t count here but the regular on the Aerosmith was a crazy $29 and the new Kamelot was on sale for $18 but the regular price would have been $22. My second bundle at this sale was the new Mob Rules album for $14 and the new Geoff Tate solo album for $13, both on sale, and I got the new Twisted Sister live Xmas album from Las Vegas for free. The Twisted Sister CD was on sale for $12 with a regular price of $16 and both the Mob Rules and Geoff tate albums had a regular price of $18. The last purchase I made was the debut E.P. from the Butcher Babies for $5. I had been hearing a lot about the band on various podcasts and I finally decided to pick up the E.P. towards the end of the month.

December update

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King Kobra – Ready To Strike (1985) – $8
King Kobra – Thrill Of A Lifetime (1986) – $8
U.D.O. – Live In Sofia (2CD/DVD) (2012) – $14
Bloodbound – In The Name Of Metal (2012) – $14
Municipal Waste – Massive Aggressive (2009) - $10 used
Ring Of Fire – The Oracle (2001) - $10 used
Tankard – Beast Of Bourbon (2004) – $0 used
Avian – Ashes And Madness (2009) - $10 used
Overkill – Feel The Fire (1985) – $9 used
Doro – Classic Diamonds (2004) – $0 used
Iced Earth – The Crucible Of Man (Something Wicked Pt.2) (2008) – $8 used
Municipal Waste – Hazardous Mutations (2005) – $8 used
Tristania – Midwinter Tears (CD/DVD) (2005) – $0 used
Grave Digger – 25 To Live (2CD) (2005) – $7 used
Grave Digger – Rheingold (2003) – $7 used
Gwar – Live From Mt. Fuji (2005) – $0 used
Scorpions – Taken By Force (1977) – $6 used
Overlorde – Return Of The Snow Giant (2004) – $6 used
Tristania – Ashes (2005) – $0 used
Straight Line Stitch – When Skies Wash Ashore (2008) – $6 used
Fates Warning – Inside Out (1994) – $4 used
Tristania – World Of Glass (2001) – $0 used

With the Christmas holiday looming, there was no extra money for CD shopping during December but that’s OK because the end of the year is always the slowest time for new releases. I knew there was a shopping spree coming at the end of the year because of all the gift cards I get to Newbury Comics for holiday gifts. This year was no exception, I netted $135 in gift cards so I held out as long as I could after Christmas (3 days!) and I was able to catch a year end used CD sale, Buy 2 Used CDs and Get 1 Free! The strategy for gift cards and a great sale was to get as much music as possible and to get some of those used CDs that I’d been passing over in my travels and, seeing that everything was basically free and nothing coming out of pocket, I spent a long time combing every rack in the Warwick, RI Newbury Comics. I put up all the prices above, including the sale freebies, so you could get an idea of what I would have spent.

I couldn’t pass on the King Kobra CDs because both were recent reissues in album style cardboard sleeves and brand new sealed at awesome cheap prices…..turns out they should have been $17.99 instead of $7.99 but that’s OK with me! I also couldn’t pass up the latest U.D.O. 2CD/DVD live release, Live In Sofia (2012), or the latest release from Bloodbound…..both were still on sale and they weren’t at my normal closer location. Both of these were $18 regular price so I saved $4 on each theoretically. So those are the new CDs, on to the used!

I put everything up by price because that’s how the store separates them and denotes the free ones. I like the fact that they give you a free CD closest to the price of the ones you buy so the Tankard CD should have been $10 used but it was free because the Municipal Waste and Ring Of Fire CDs were the same price. Obviously, I picked up a lot of back catalog from Municipal Waste, Grave Digger and Tristania with the biggest bargains being the two Municipal Waste and two Grave Digger CDs because you never see these albums used and, if you do, they are $12+ used because of the demand for Municipal Waste and Grave Digger is usually imports. Of the $0 CDs, the Tankard shuld have been $10, Tristania and Doro were $8 each, Gwar and another Tristania were $6 each and the last Tristania was $4 used. The final total on this hunt was $135 all paid with gift cards so I paid nothing out of pocket and I saved an additional $42 on the free used CDs!

Final 2012 Totals

Total (year) = $1804

Average Price (per item) = $7.71

Total CDs (year) = 227

Total DVDs (year) = 5

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

Total iTunes Downloads (year) = 1

Just a quick analysis…..

Compared to 2011, I bought 85 more items (227 this year and 142 last year) and I spent $659 more than I did the previous year. My DVD total is low because a lot of bands/labels are packaging DVDs or Blu-Rays with live CDs now and I count those as CD packages. Also, 2012 was the first time I bought a Blu-Ray and paid for an iTunes download. I’m not sure what 2013 will hold for CD hunting but I’m hoping that I find more gems, fill a lot of holes in my collection, acquire more and spend less.

Let the hunt continue!

It’s been a little while since I posted anything here at Heavy Metal Addiction but nothing gets the writing juices flowing like a good concert! I had my ticket in advance for Michael Schenker’s return to the New England area this past Thursday night, this time promoting his new album TEMPLE OF ROCK (2011) and featuring another former frontman, Robin McAuley. I caught MSG on the last tour in 2010 at Showcase Live to promote MSG’s 30th anniversary and the last two albums featuring original frontman Gary Barden and it was excellent, I expected the same this time around. Michael’s latest album, TEMPLE OF ROCK, is a great album and ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ is my favorite song on the album and features Robin McAuley. I saw the classic early ’80s Gary Barden led MSG last year, now I get to see the McAuley Schenker Group (the late ’80s/early ’90s lineup) live! What’s next? Will Michael bring Graham Bonnet out next? Wishful thinking…..

I arrived at the club about an hour before the 8pm start time, picked up my ticket at the box office, grabbed a real nice shirt for $30 and went inside. Another great crowd for another great show, capacity is about 1000 people so I guesstimate that there was at least 500, maybe more. No opening band this time around which was good news because everyone I spoke with wanted a nice long set from the band…..considering that the tickets were only $25 each, I expected a spectacular show. I got as close to Michael’s side of the stage as I could and ended up about 4 feet away from the master and between him and McAuley the entire show.

Michael Schenker Group setlist:

Into The Arena
Armed And Ready
Love Drive
Another Piece Of Meat
Lover’s Sinfony
Save Yourself
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Rock My Nights Away
Shoot Shoot
Love To Love
Too Hot To Handle
Let It Roll
Natural Thing
Lights Out

Encore:
On And On
Rock Bottom

2nd Encore:
Doctor Doctor

Honestly, that was like going to see UFO! Almost the second half of the set was classic Schenker-era UFO and the crowd was EXTREMELY receptive to hearing almost all of the STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT record. There’s no denying Michael’s guitar genius when he’s effortlessly soloing through ‘Rock Botton’, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Lights Out’ but the UFO highlight for me was ‘Love To Love’ with Robin giving a powerful performance of one of the most underrated and underappreciated ballads of all-time! While I’m on the subject of Mr. McAuley, let me just say that the man is a spectacular performer with great vocal range and energy, he looked genuinely happy to be on stage with Michael (and vice versa for the guitar maestro!) and he just looks like a rock star. Seriously, has Robin aged at all? The guy looked awesome for a 59 yr.old rocker. As for the rest of the band…..Wayne Findlay is Michael’s jack-of-all-trades on stage performing that Paul Raymond role perfectly, Elliot “Dean” Rubinson (CEO of Dean Guitars) proved to be a great addition on bass and Pete Holmes (from Black ‘N Blue) hit the drums like a madman…..you can’t ask for more if you’re a guitar legend.

Back to the set…..the show kicked off with Michael’s showcase ‘Into The Arena’ and promptly went into crowd favorite ‘Armed and Ready’. If that wasn’t enough to get the crowd pumped immeadiately, the band kicked the show into high gear with back to back Scorpions songs ‘Love Drive’ and ‘Another Piece Of Meat’. The applause alone for those two songs was so great that you would have thought that Klaus Meine and Rudolf Schenker had joined the band on stage! A great moment of the night to see Michael soloing away on those two classics and Robin really nailed each song…..vocally I can hear some similarities to Klaus Meine. My favorite part of the set was the next two songs: ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ and ‘Save Yourself’. Now I realize that the setlist was full of classic Schenker tunes but hearing ‘Lover’s Sinfony’ (my favorite song off the new album) and ‘Save Yourself’ (the title cut from the 1989 record) were awesome! I never got to see the McAuley Schenker Group back in the day and SAVE YOURSELF is an underrated album from the late ’80s, actually the whole McAuley-Schenker era is completely underrated. It was cool to have Robin acknowledge many of us fans up front who sang all the words to ‘Save Yourself’ but I did notice a couple of looks towards a couple of us singing every word to ‘Lover’s Sinfony’…..honestly, that would be the highlight of the set if MSG played more recent material from the last 15 years. It was great to hear ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, ‘Rock My Nights Away’ and ‘On and On’ from early MSG albums but I have to admit that I was a little disappointed that more MSG songs weren’t done. Of course that means you would have to cut a UFO or Scorpions song for proper MSG but it was good to hear the band run through Michael’s career and ending the second half of the show with almost all UFO classics. The band played close to two hours and the fans all had a blast, the band could have easily played a few more songs and the club would have exploded! Hopefully Michael and the band will come back again soon to the Showcase Live, judging by the crowd’s response I have no doubt they will.

Here’s a few videos I found on Youtube from the Foxboro show on 3/8/12…..

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! More and more new albums come out from a wide variety of bands and 2011 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 2011 albums submitted to Heavy Metal Addiction than in 2010! 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 is on par with what I had for 2010. Unfortunately, I’ve let the website go a little in the last couple of years so, while I’ve been listening to almost everything, I just haven’t posted about it.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 25 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 2011. Just like previous years, an album that was released in 2010 internationally, but was released in the U.S. in 2011, qualified as a 2011 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 25 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 2011″ post during next year’s awards week. Just like last year, I will be splitting the Top 25 into three posts so it’s easier to read. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 25 Albums of 2011:

25. Nelson – Lightning Strikes Twice (2011)
24. Michael Monroe – Sensory Overdrive (2011)
23. U.D.O. – Rev-Raptor (2011)
22. Riot – Immortal Soul (2011)
21. Tokyo Blade – Thousand Men Strong (2011)

Starting at the bottom of the countdown is the new Nelson album that surprised me with it’s huge melodic hooks and vocals, former Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe’s latest solo album that I bought late in the year but ended up enjoying a lot and the steadiness of U.D.O.’s Traditional Metal REV-RAPTOR. I still can’t figure out what a “rev-raptor” is aside from the machine on the cover but there you go. Two huge surprises were from Riot and Tokyo Blade! Riot scored #22 with a solid record from the THUNDERSTEEL-era lineup (a record I was looking forward to big time!) but the band had to endure the loss of Riot founder/guitarist Mark Reale…..at least he left a lasting legacy with this last album. The big surprise was NWOBHM legends Tokyo Blade, who came out of nowhere with THOUSAND MEN STRONG, one of the biggest comebacks of 2011! I’ve been a Tokyo Blade fan for a long time but I really didn’t expect much when I heard the band was releasing a new album but I was completely surprised and excited, sounds like old school NWOBHM with a modern touch.

20. Stratovarius – Elysium (2011)
19. Journey – Eclipse (2011)
18. Iced Earth – Dystopia (2011)
17. Royal Hunt – Show Me How To Live (2011)
16. Arch Enemy – Khaos Legions (2011)

I came late to the Stratovarius party even though I’ve acquired a few albums over the years, ELYSIUM was another epic Power Metal record. Journey’s ECLIPSE was a leader for the Top 5 this year but, as other bands released new records, and I kept comparing this album to 2008′s REVELATION, ECLIPSE fell a little. It’s still a solid AOR album Arnel Pineda still shines as the new Steve Perry but it wasn’t as good as REVELATION. Iced Earth made another vocalist change adding Stu Block from Into Eternity but they released one hell of an album with DYSTOPIA…..another late year purchase that might have gone higher with more time. Same for Royal Hunt but their reunion with D.C. Cooper is just what I needed to add their new Progressive/Power Metal album into the Top 25. I know a lot of fans of the more extreme side of Metal look at Arch Enemy as somewhat of a commercial band, especially with Angela Gossow front and center, but they are still kind of new to me. As I open myself up to more extreme bands, a band like Arch Enemy is a good starting point. I’m more of a Traditional/Power Metal fan and a AOR/Hard Rock fan but KHAOS LEGIONS sounded great to my ears and I had to rate it higher than some of my favorite bands (Iced Earth, Royal Hunt, Riot).

15. Anvil – Juggernaut Of Justice (2011)
14. Scheepers – Scheepers (2011)
13. Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
12. Chickenfoot – III (2011)
11. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming (2011)

Gotta give some love to Anvil because THIS IS THIRTEEN (2007) was a great comeback album (even though they never left!) even without the movie and they had four busy years to release a follow-up. JUGGERNAUT OF JUSTICE continued where THIS IS THIRTEEN left off and exceeded all my expectations…..great to see the band still getting success even with the movie hoopla dying out, hard work pays off! Ralf Scheepers didn’t stray too far from the more commercial side of Primal Fear’s last few albums but his first solo album was just as good as those. What can you say about Dream Theater? They always release one great record after another and, yes, Mike Portnoy is a huge loss on drums but Mike Mangini does a great job! Another big surprise in 2011 was the new Chickenfoot album, III, because I didn’t really feel the debut album. Not to say I didn’t like the first Chickenfoot record but the songs weren’t as catchy, as memorable. On III, the songs instantly stuck too me and the harmonies were awesome between Mike Anthony and Sammy, they can take the “supergroup” label off and just be a band now. Talk about a comeback! Sebastian Bach came back and kicked his former band in the teeth with this new solo album, KICKING & SCREAMING.  Baz sounds as great as he ever did and his band is blazing! I always get disappointed with Baz because I always think he should be doing more music than interviews, or reality shows, or VH-1 related things but he really came back strong with this record.

10. Warrant – Rockaholic (2011)
9. Saxon – Call To Arms (2011)
8. Night Ranger – Somewhere In California (2011)
7. Motorhead – The World Is Yours (2011)
6. Black Country Communion – 2 (2011)

Despite original singer Jani Lane passing away, Warrant recruited former Lynch Mob singer Robert Mason (who replaced Black ‘N Blue singer Jamie St. James) and released a wicked Hard Rock record with ROCKAHOLIC. The first two songs, ‘Sex Ain’t Love’ and ‘Innocence Gone’, are two of the best Hard Rock songs of the year! Saxon is one of my Top 5 favorite bands of all time and they released another great album with CALL TO ARMS. I was a little worried when I read they were stripping back their current sound for something more like the early ’80s because they have released a string of great Traditional/Power Metal albums since 1997′s UNLEASH THE BEAST…..the good news is that the old NWOBHM guard still maintained their excellent track record of the last 15 years! I’ve been a Night Ranger fan since the early ’80s and I thought they easily made the best Melodic Rock record of 2011 after one spin of the new album, once I heard this album, the  Journey and Nelson records started to pale in comparison. Like Saxon, Motorhead is a favorite band and a staple when it comes to my year end countdowns. You know what you’re going to get from Motorhead before they album is released but you know it’s going to rip your face off and punch you in the gut! Lemmy, Mikkey and Phil just keep making great album after great album every other year…..see you in 2013 Motorhead! Coming is at #6, and just missing the Top 5 by a hair, is the sophomore album by Black Country Communion (the other supergroup in the countdown). Just hearing Glenn Hughes sing ’70s styled Hard Rock is enough to catapult any band or album into year end lists but the songs are so good and the performances so perfect that I knew this was going to be a top album of 2011 after the first spin. Hard working band too, this album came out a year after the debut, they released a live record and DVD and have toured constantly…..that’s old school work ethic and it pays off.

5. Whitesnake – Forevermore (2011)
4. Mr. Big – What If… (2011)
3. Anthrax – Worship Music (2011)
2. Michael Schenker – Temple Of Rock (2011)

Making the Top 5 is no easy task when hundreds, if not thousands, of new albums get released each year but these four albums had the #1 spot on my countdown and really put me to task to pick the best album of 2011. Whitesnake started the year off with the album to beat, FOREVERMORE being a continuation of GOOD TO BE BAD but just a shade behind that awesome 2008 album. Maybe it’s because FOREVERMORE didn’t have 11 years of waiting and then hit you between the eyes but the new album did keep David Coverdale and the band at the top again. This year’s countdown has a lot of Hard Rock comebacks with Baz and Warrant turning in solid albums but Mr. Big really made the superior Hard Rock album of 2011 and then toured the album hard with more than just a few making the live set. I expected nothing from a new Mr. Big album but WHAT IF…. was a great album from a band reuniting and not just going out for the quick nostalgia buck. I’ll tell you what, they were definitely one of the best concerts I saw this past year too! Mr. Bog would have had the top album of 2011, and the best comeback of 2011, if Anthrax decided not to release WORSHIP MUSIC! Are you kidding me? WORSHIP MUSIC is an album that should be my top record of 2011 because it’s so good, so thrashy, so hard and so melodic all rolled into one. The band is tight as usual, no problems there, but the wild card in all of this was whether the band reuniting with Joey Belladonna would make a difference. No offense to the John Bush-era of Anthrax but Belladonna is just a better fit! Joey sounds as good as he ever has, the band sounds as brutal as ever and there isn’t a throwaway song on the album. A lot of year end countdown’s have Anthrax at the top of the list and, in a year of comebacks, they have the best one but the band got trumped by one of my favorite guitarists of all-time…..Michael Schenker! The #2 album of 2011, and a serious contender for the #1 spot right to the end, was Schenker’s new TEMPLE OF ROCK solo album. Is it the Michael Schenker Group? Is it him by himself, hence a solo album? TEMPLE OF ROCK follows the lead of 2006′s TALES OF ROCK ‘N ROLL where Michael and his regular backing band teamed up with another new vocalist for the half of the new album and then did a few songs each with a different singer from Michael’s career. This time around it’s new singer Michael Voss for 10 of the 12 new songs with Robin McAuley and Doogie White each singing one…..I kind of expected Gary Barden to fit in here somewhere considering he’s done Michael’s last two albums but he’s not here. Voss sounds great, the guitar is pure Schenker mastery and the songs are all well written with big memorable hooks and solos. Best song on the album is the McAuley led ‘Lover’s Sinfony’, which I got to see live when the band came through town, with a close second being ‘Miss Claustraphobia’ performed by Michael Voss. Michael Schenker had some rough years since the mid-’90s but the guy is such a talented musician, so prolific on guitar, that the music is a reflection of the man’s genius. Definitely a tough task to beat out anyone in the Top 5, especially Anthrax, but Schenker and company came out of nowhere and blew me away.

Up until the last minute, up until I had written this post this far, I finally made the decision to place the next album as the best album of 2011…..the top album of 2011 is…..

(drum roll please…..)

#1

Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare (2011)

This was a hard one to call with the Top 5 albums being so good and Anthrax and Michael Schenker being in a virtual three-way tie with Alice Cooper right up until the end. Actually, I didn’t make up my mind until I gave each album a spin one last time before I wrote this up. In the end…..Alice is the winner!

WELCOME 2 MY NIGHTMARE is not a sequel to the iconic WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE (1975) but a continuation of Alice’s nightmares…..that’s exactly how this album won. Alice and producer Bob Ezrin weren’t trying to best one of the greatest Rock albums of all-time, they were trying to continue the tale and putting a current spin on what Alice would be dreaming about 37 years later! Turns out Alice’s nightmares just get worse! Every song on the album is well written with the usual Alice Cooper trademark humor and horror mix, the production is perfect and the performances are flawless. There are more than a few guest stars, including the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band and notable names like Vince Gill and Ke$ha, and they all move into the dreamworld effortlessly. I was especially impressed with the reunion of the original Alice Cooper band members because it just shows how much impact the original band had and how much creativity they still have because they are all great musicians. Now Alice Cooper is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and now Alice has a #1 album at Heavy Metal Addiction…..what could be better?

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.

Michael Schenker Group – The 30th Anniversary Concert: Live In Tokyo (2010, Inakustik)

  1. Welcome Howl intro
  2. Feels Like A Good Thing
  3. Cry For The Nations
  4. Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
  5. Armed And Ready
  6. Victim Of Illusion
  7. Are You Ready To Rock
  8. I Want You
  9. A Night To Remember
  10. Into The Arena
  11. Lost Horizons
  12. Rock My Nights Away
  13. On And On
  14. Attack Of The Mad Axeman
  15. Ride On My Way
  16. Rock Bottom
  17. Dance Lady Gipsy
  18. Doctor, Doctor

DVD Bonus Material: The L.A. Rehearsal and Backstage Impressions

Band Lineup:
Michael Schenker – Lead Guitar
Gary Barden – Vocals
Wayne Findlay – Guitars, Keyboards & Backing Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Simon Phillips – Drums

Producers & Directors: Kiyoshi Iwasawa, Kota Akutsu, Shin Yamamoto

Country: USA & Germany

Total Time (DVD) = 1:39:54 (concert) & approx 25 minutes (bonus material)
Total Time (2 CDs) = 1:39:54

Michael Schenker
Inakustik Music

On June 13, 2010, the Michael Schenker Group performed a concert at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan as part of the Japanese tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of the band and the first MSG lineup. You could call this a reunion of sorts with Michael joining forces again with original vocalist Gary Barden and drummer Simon Phillips, who played the drums on the first MSG album. Also along for the ride is long time Schenker guitarist/keyboardist Wayne Findlay and former Whitesmake/Black Sabbath/Vow Wow bassist Neil Murray. Japan has always been a country in love with their guitar heroes and Michael is certainly fits that bill, I have been a fan of his career for years spanning his time with the Scorpions, UFO, MSG and solo. I caught this tour with a different lineup back in July and it was one of the best shows I’ve seen this year and the first time I saw MSG live but the lineup was different for the U.S. tour. What we have here with the 30th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT: LIVE IN TOKYO is two separate releases: a DVD and a 2 CD live album.

DVD:
The DVD version of the 30th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT captures the all-star MSG lineup in full force at the Nakano Sun Plaza in Tokyo, Japan in front of a sold out crowd. There’s the full 18 song concert shot with multiple cameras and a bonus section that includes part of the tour rehearsal in Los Angeles with band interviews and a behind the scenes backstage look at the Tokyo show. As far as the setlist goes, it’s basically the same as the one I saw in Foxboro, MA except that the running order is different and there are thwo additional songs: ‘Feels Like A Good Thing’ and ‘Victim Of Illusion’. There are plenty of classic MSG tracks and the band focuses on the first two MSG albums with a combined ten songs including ‘Cry For The Nations’, ‘Armed And Ready’, ‘On And On’ and ‘Let Sleeping Dogs Lie’, as well as, ‘Rock My Nights Away’ from the Barden led BUILT TO DESTROY (1983). Also thrown in the mix are two UFO classics, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and ‘Rock Bottom’, and four new songs, ‘I Want You’, ‘A Night To Remember’, ‘Ride On My Way’ and ‘Dance Lady Gipsy’. I really enjoyed watching the DVD as each musician is an expert at their intruments but the real treat here is watching Michael play from right up close. When I went to see the concert in Foxboro, it took a while for me to get myself positioned in front of Michael because that’s what everyone wants to do! The DVD allowed me to sit and watch one of the greatest guitarists play with ease and grace and truly enjoying himself. The performances are top notch and the set highlights for me are all the MSG classics but the new songs really fit right in. I saw ‘I Want You’, ‘A Night To Remember’ and ‘Ride On My Way’ (from 2008′s IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY) live in Foxboro so I knew they were going to be great watching this DVD but the added bonus is getting ‘Dance Lady Gipsy’ from the Schenker Barden Acoustic Project – GIPSY LADY (2009). What you are buying this DVD for is the concert but there is a 25 minute bonus section that is pretty cool too. The first part is rehearsal footage from 1/9/10 in Los Angeles mixed with interviews with all the band members. The best interviews are with Michael,as he recounts his career with all his bands, and Simon Phillips, who provides a little more insight into his involvement on the debut MSG record. The second part of the bonus material is behind the scenes backstage footage of mostly soundcheck and the backstage are but there is also some cool footage of Michael interacting with fans after the show. As far as bonuses go, this is pretty basic stuff but cool nonetheless.

CD:
As far as the CD goes, it’s a 2 CD set that is a carbon copy of the DVD…..the setlist is identical as is the booklet but there are no bonuses on the CD version. I like having the live album for my stereo, car and iPod because it’s all about the music and there is plenty of classic songs on this live album.

Bottom Line:
A solid release here both on DVD and CD and a definite tour souvenir for me. I’ve followed Michael Schenker throughout his career but I’ve only seen him live once, on this tour almost two months after this DVD was shot. Seeing MSG live was one of my all-time favorite concerts so this DVD and CD has a special place in my musical history and, when I listen to the CD, I see the show I saw. It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since the first MSG album debuted but 1980 was a long time ago for sure. It’s great to see and hear all these classic tracks from the first two MSG albums live and it’s great to hear some of the newer songs fit in seemlessly. Definitely well worth your time checking out if your an MSG fan, a great concert.

It’s been a few months since I caught a live concert but it was definitely worth the wait because, after years of waiting, I finally got to see the Michael Schenker Group in concert! Michael Schenker has been one of my favorite guitarists for years but I always seem to come up short when he comes close to the New England area. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to see him in New York on the last couple of tours but something always came up to stop me from going…..this time around I wasn’t going to miss the show, billed as the MSG 30th Anniversary World Tour. The Showcase Live is about 15 mins from my house so I bought a ticket as soon as the show was announced. The venue is located in the Patriot Place complex that surrounds Gillette Stadium (home of the New England Patriots). I have never been in the Showcase Live but I have heard it was a cool place for a show.

I got to the arena around 7:30pm (showtime was 8pm) and it was nice to see plenty of people hanging around outside with a wide range of MSG and UFO tour shirts. Once I bought my tour shirt ($25 is more than reasonable!) and went in I was a bit shocked to see a real large crowd that got bigger as the night went on! Foxboro, MA is about 20 minutes from Providence, RI, about an hour from Boston, MA  and Hartford, CT so it is an ideal venue smack in the heart of New England. I talked to a lot of people and it turns out that people came from a lot of other states like Maine, New Hamphire, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania…..this was a serious event! The opening band was a newer act from Sweden, Sister Sin. As I would find out later, Sister Sin has been around since 2003 but they got worldwide exposure with the release of their second full-length album SWITCHBLADE SERENADES in 2008. The band opened pretty much on time and ran through a 7 song/30 minute set that was full of energy and plenty of Metal that reminded me of a combination of early Motley Crue with a NWOBHM influence. I was impressed with the performance and it was nice to meet up with the band after the concert at their merchandise table.

Michael Schenker Group setlist:

Armed And Ready
Cry For The Nations
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Ready To Rock
I Want You
A Night To Remember
Carmine Appice drum solo
Into The Arena
Lost Horizons
Rock My Nights Away
On And On
Lights Out
Attack Of The Mad Axeman

Encore:
Ride On My Way
Rock Bottom

2nd Encore:
Doctor Doctor

Are you kidding me?! What a setlist! I knew that the band was going to concentrate of the first couple of albums with Gary Barden but I had forgotten just how powerful these songs are…..they have more impact now that I have heard them live. It was great to finally hear classics like ‘Armed And Ready’, ‘On And On’ and ‘Attack Of The Mad Axeman’ in concert but I was also glad to hear the band play a few newer songs from IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY (2008) like ‘A Night To Remember’ and ‘I Want You’. I thought the newer songs fit right in with the classics and I heard more than a few fans singing right along word for word. It was good to hear the classic Schenker/Barden team on stage and Carmine Appice added a thunderous drum sound to the performance. You could tell that the band were having a good time playing both the old and the new and there was a real good energy coming from the stage. Unfortunately, there was a bit of trouble with the sound because there were times that Gary was completely lost in the mix, couldn’t hear him at all near the bar area, but things got a little better as the show moved on. Of course, the highlights were the classics and the crowd got louder for the UFO songs, especially as Gary Barden introduced “a song that is Michael’s legacy”…..’Lights Out’. I had secured a good spot for Sister Sin in the bar area near the soundboard, a perfect view, but I needed to get closer to see Michael. As the show progressed, I was able to make it up front to Michael’s side of the stage so I could see the man work his magic up close. Truly amazing! I was able to make it up to Michael’s side by ‘Lights Out’ and I was blown away. Same thing for ‘Rock Bottom’ during the first encore, watching Michael play that classic solo was one of the best live moments I’ve seen in 25 years of attending concerts. I honestly thought the night was over but the band returned for one last song, ‘Doctor Doctor’ and that brought the place down! A truly classic show from the arena, to the setlist, to the performance! Definitely worth the wait.

Here’s a video from the show that I found on Youtube of the set opener ‘Armed And Ready’:

Please visit the official Michael Schenker website for more tour dates and information.

Vacation, vacation, vacation!

It feels so good to walk out of work, especially after a hard holiday week, and know you don’t have to go back on the job for a full week. I started my week off today with some Metal music to relax the mind and body while I enjoyed some really great weather here in Rhode Island.

Michael Schenker – Thank You (1993): I started the first day of vacation as soon as I got home from work at 1am this morning with a little acoustic Michael Schenker. Nothing relaxes me more than grabbing a cold iced tea, sitting in front of the stereo, turning the lights down and listening to one of the greatest Rock guitarists do his thing. THANK YOU used to help my youngest daughter take her nap when she was a baby and it helped me get relaxed enough to go to bed BEFORE 3am and get a great sleep.

Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) (2009): I started the actual day with the dog and a 2.5 mile walk with the soundtrack being the new Primal Fear album. I really liked their last album so this new one has a lot to live up to according to my ears. This was the 3rd time I’ve played 16.6 and I’ll need a few more spins before I pass judgement but I’ll say this: Primal Fear rarely disappoints me.

Starz – s/t (1976): I’ve had this thing for Starz for the past couple of days because I heard ‘Detroit Girls’ on a local classic rock station and they NEVER play Starz. I prefer the band’s second record, VIOLATION, but the debut is just as solid. This CD is the Ryko reissue from 2005 with 4 demos tacked on as bonus tracks.

Iron Fire – To The Grave (2009): This is the album that just will not die! I bought this album back when it came out earlier in the year and I have kept it in a weekly rotation every since. Iron Fire are Power Metal so it’s a genre I really like but it’s Iron Fire…..there are other bands releasing albums and I haven’t given this the proper time. I keep putting it on then forgetting about it for another new album so I decided that I would lie back with the headphones and give this a critical listen.

U.D.O. – Infected E.P. (2009): Just got this in the mail last week so I tore off the cellophane and gave this a spin…..a nice teaser for the upcoming album.

U.D.O. – Mastercutor (2007): You can never have enough U.D.O. or Accept so I pulled out MASTERCUTOR and now I am seriously pumped for DOMINATOR (2009) in August…..this time I’m going to buy the album right away instead of waiting to buy it like I did with this one.

Savannah – s/t (1998): So I decided to listen to Savannah’s debut because it was at the top of the pile on my desk and because I was so pleased that I got a great deal on a Japanese copy and cleared something off the WANTED list. So I finish with the CD and I go to put it in the CD case and what do I see? A U.S. version of the album! Now I have no idea when I got the U.S. pressing, I checked all of the CD Scavenger Hunts since January and I started to check Paypal to see when this mix up occurred…..nothing. So I have both versions now…..I really need to finish my list.

Michael Schenker – Thank You 4 (2003): I decided to end my day the same way I started it with some acoustic Michael Schenker. THANK YOU 4 is another album that helped my youngest daughter take her naps when she was a baby and it worked on me too. As I type this, I’m getting sleepy and the album is drawing to a close…..good night!