Posts Tagged ‘Royal Hunt’

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

 

 

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

2012 is over so that means it’s time for my year end awards! It’s been another awesome year for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal with so many releases on CD, DVD, Vinyl and Digital formats, not just new studio albums but also live records, reissues and special edition releases. I have had more albums submitted for review this year from bands, labels and PR agents as digital promos have taken over as the easiest way to get the word out as quickly as possible and I have done my part as a consumer and purchased plenty of new and old albums & DVDs from record stores, Ebay, online vendors and direct from bands and labels. The only problem has been finding the time to do through everything!

With all this music it’s been every hard to keep up so this has been the worst year for posting but I have made a serious push in November and December to listen to as many CDs, and watch as many DVDs, as possible to prepare for my year end lists. I said the same thing at the end of 2010 & 2011 but 2012 was in fact the worst year for posting at Heavy Metal Addiction…..I only managed to post 19 times! I couldn’t even break 20 posts on a blog I started 7 years ago as an extension of my hobby! Pathetic! Obviously sitting in front of a computer writing wasn’t something that interested me again this year.

I did listen to a lot of albums this year but I stayed mainly with albums in my collection even though I have piles on my desk, and in boxes right next it, chock full of CDs and DVDs released in 2011 and 2012. I bought a ton of new releases as they came out and I’ve spent some time listening to them, I just didn’t get around to writing about them. I haven’t completely abandoned this website as I plan to continue it because there’s a lot to write about and I will try and catch up on as many reviews as I can but the reality is that there’s no way to “catch up”. I think it’s best to try and concentrate on 2013 and add in what I can from previous years.

I have been re-listening to as many 2012 albums that I can since November so I can post my year end awards. Usually I break this up into a week’s worth of posts but I decided to take advantage of a couple new WordPress features and do it all as one big article. I’m pairing down my lists a bit to give you the absolute cream of the crop in each category and I’ve also decided to re-define a couple categories. This year the Best DVD category will include DVDs that came with CD releases, because that seems to be the current trend,  and the Worst Album category will get a name change to Most Disappointing Album so I can try and maintain some positive spin…..but if an album makes it into this category, then I thought it sucked! Last is the Miscellaneous Release category, that stays the same but there could be some crossover between this and the Best DVD category with all the multiple CD and DVD or Blu-Ray combo releases coming out. I tried to limit the crossovers but the best package is going to get on both lists.

That’s all I’ve got for changes so I hope you enjoy the 2012 awards, please leave comments and give me your thoughts on what was the best & worst of the past year. I’ve got my sights set on 2013 and I expect and even bigger year in Hard Rock and Heavy Metal as I keep checking out new releases and catching up on things I missed from the last couple of years.

The Top 15 Albums of 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth
  2. UFO – Seven Deadly
  3. 3 Inches Of Blood – Long Live Heavy Metal
  4. KISS – Monster
  5. Accept – Stalingrad
  6. Nightwish – Imaginaerum
  7. The Darkness – Hot Cakes
  8. Kamelot – Silverthorn
  9. Gojira – L’Enfant Sauvage
  10. Testament – Dark Roots Of Earth
  11. Rush – Clockwork Angels
  12. Lynyrd Skynyrd – Last Of A Dyin’ Breed
  13. Lita Ford – Living Like A Runaway
  14. L.A. Guns – Hollywood Forever
  15. Lamb Of God – Resolution

There were a ton a great albums in 2012 but only one album can earn the top honor of being the best of the year and that is reserved for A Different Kind Of Truth from the “reunited” Van Halen. By reuniting with David Lee Roth a few years ago, the only thing the Van Halen brothers had to do was release a new album with Diamond Dave on lead vocals. Let’s call it like it truly is: this isn’t a TRUE Van Halen reunion because Michael Anthony is out of the band and replaced by Eddie’s son Wolfgang. The good news is that A Different Kind Of Truth is a great album! Forget the fact that Eddie and Alex went through the Van Halen tape vault for ideas because EVERY band does it…..hasn’t the father of Heavy Metal, Tony Iommi, stated often that he has tapes of riffs for miles? Every band looks for ideas and revisits demos and music they created years before, it’s the updating that counts. This album has that unmistakable classic Diamond Dave/Van Halen sound circa the late ’70s and early ’80s and, even though he’s a bit older, Dave does a great job on the mic. The first single, ‘Tattoo’, wasn’t the best song on the album and might have been better suited to a follow-up single but everything after is classic Van Halen. ‘She’s The Woman’ is a re-worked demo from the ’70s that is clearly the best song on the album for me and it definitely fits that 1984 album era well. ‘China Town’, ‘Blood And Fire’, ‘Stay Frosty’, ‘Big River’…..all new Van Halen classics that sit right up against anything in their back catalog. A Different Kind Of Truth is the true follow-up to 1984, unfortunately 28 years after the fact, and it’s my top album of 2012.

Taking a look at the rest of the Top 5…..UFO released Seven Deadly and earned the 2nd spot with another excellent album of bluesy Hard Rock. UFO has done much wrong since they came back in 1995 and I can’t find a weak track on the album. Phil Mogg’s lyrics are modern poetry and there is no slack in the guitar department because Vinnie Moore has more than a few albums under his belt with the band. Hard to pick a favorite track here but ‘The Last Stone Rider’ is my favorite this week! Had Van Halen not released their new record, UFO would easily be #1. The third best goes to 3 Inches of Blood with Long Live Heavy Metal, probably the best pure and traditional Heavy Metal record of the year. Take one listen to the opener ‘Metal Woman’ or the Judas Priest influenced ‘Leather Lord’ and that’s a great example of not only this record but the band’s career. Of all the Metal albums I heard this year, 3 Inches of Blood got the most rotation on my stereo and iPod. My favorite band KISS comes up a bit short of the top spot but still maintains the #4 album with Monster. When it comes to KISS, I’m extremely critical because they are my favorite band and they have barely released anything since new in 15 years. We got Sonic Boom in 2009 and it took the top spot that year and Monster is just as good but I had a harder time getting into it like I did with Sonic Boom. Maybe it was the anticipation of the previous album, or the travelling circus atmosphere that KISS creates with everything they do, but after repeated listens the album is just as good if not better. Anyone worrying about Dave, Eddie and Alex recycling should give Gene Simmons grief too because it’s obvious he does it but his songs are the better ones on the album. Paul Stanley has great moments too but I worried about his vocal issues going in and Gene hasn’t lost a step vocally. a lot of good songs here: ‘Wall Of Sound’, ‘Back To The Stone Age’, ‘Shout Mercy’ and ‘Eat Your Heart Out’…..here’s hoping they give us another one! Rounding out the Top 5 is Accept’s Stalingrad, the second record to feature new vocalist Mark Tornillo (formerly of TT Quick). The last Accept album with Mark debuting on vocals, Blood Of The Nations, was a superb record and Stalingrad is a great follow-up and it might be more powerful. I think Accept shares the same fate as KISS here, the anticipation for the first new album was so high on my part that a second release suffers just a little. Don’t get me wrong, ‘Hung, Drawn and Quartered’, the title track, and ‘Shadow Soldiers’ are awesome tunes but can anyone explain the meaning behind ‘Flash To Bang Time’?

Rounding out the Top 15…..Nightwish’s Imaginaerum was very close to the Top 5 but came up short because they first 5 albums were so good. I expected nothing from The Darkness but I bought Hot Cakes when it came out and I loved it immeadiately, same thing with Silverthorn from Kamelot despite the change at singer. Gojira was a surprise of the year because I’d never bought an album from them before and L’Enfant Sauvage kicked major ass, so did the new Testament album at #10 and the new Lamb of God at #15, giving the more extreme side of Metal a presence. Rush picked up #11 with Clockwork Angels but I expected a great album so their was no surprise there but Lynyrd Skynyrd surprised with their latest album proving that good music always prevails despite the genre, time or legacy. Lita Ford had a great comeback with Living Like A Runaway, a very introspective Hard Rock record, especially after the debacle of Wicked Wonderland and L.A. Guns proved that they still write great songs and that usually the lead singer’s version of the band will always out do the founding guitarist’s version because the singing voice is the most identifiable thing to most fans.

The 5 Most Disappointing Albums of 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension
  2. Steve Harris – British Lion
  3. Geoff Tate – Kings & Thieves
  4. Slash – Apocalyptic Love
  5. Great White – Elation

Usually I call this “the worst albums” of whatever year it is but I wanted to keep a positive spin on this category because who am I to say an album sucks? I have no musical talent, I don’t write songs or play an instrument. I could change it back next year if a bunch of albums do indeed suck but, for 2012, these are the most disappointing records of the year. I heard the first two singles from the new Aerosmith album and I was hooked right away, especially with ‘Lover A Lot’, but the bulk of Music From Another Dimension sounded formulaic and forced. Too many outside writers, too many ballads, too many predictable songs. Do we need another Diane Warren ballad? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it and the ballad is what gave the band ultra-success from the Pump record straight through Nine Lives. I was really looking forward to a reunited Aerosmith and a bunch of rocking songs but there’s too much filler. Take a page from KISS…..lock the band in the studio and do it mostly yourself.

There was a lot of surprise when it was announced Iron Maiden’s founding bass player, Steve harris, was releasing a solo album that he had been working on for a long time. With Maiden’s hectic schedule, who knew? Apparently Steve did and he enlisted musicians from a band he had been producing called British Lions, to create the British Lion record. It’s supposed to be a throwback album to the days of classic Thin Lizzy and UFO that had a big impact on a young Harris but, aside from the hard Rock style, I didn’t hear much of the influences. Let’s call it like it is: anything Steve Harris does outside of Iron Maiden will always be compared to Iron Maiden. There’s a different style to the music on this album compared to Maiden but I expected the same excellent quality from Steve. The songwriting seems too pedestrian, too simplistic……then again, we are used to epic lyrics on Maiden albums. The band can play well but Steve seems pushed back purposely in the mix (probably due to the Hard Rock style) and the singer has no range…..then again, we are spoiled with Bruce Dickinson in Iron Maiden. There’s no helping the comparisons to Iron Maiden but the quality of the material just lacks on this solo album from Steve Harris.

Rounding out the Top 5 here…..Geoff Tate’s new solo album comes on the heels of his split with the Queensryche camp, who are no strangers to this category! In the back of my mind, I knew this wouldn’t be good but I had hope but Kings And Thieves was just plain boring. Same thing with Apocalyptic Love from Slash. Slash is an iconic guitarist and hopes were high for this album with lead singer Miles Kennedy (Alter Bridge) but it was just boring. remember that Izzy Stradlin and Axl Rose were the creative forces in Guns ‘N Roses, not to say Slash didn’t contribute, but anything he does will always come back to Guns…..and even then, Guns only had two albums of classic material with Appetite For Destruction and if you cherry pick off the Use Your Illusion albums. Last album in this category is Elation from Great White, featuring former XYZ singer Terry Ilous on vocals replacing the fired Jack Russell. I’ve read a lot of mixed reviews on this album but, for me personally, it comes down to the voice and Jack Russell’s fits the bluesy Hard Rock of Great White’s music better than Terry Ilous. It’s by no means a bad album and, considering the vocalist change, it a solid effort. I just couldn’t get into it and I expected a bit more after the last two records, Back To The Rhythm and Rising.

The Top 5 DVDs of 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. Scorpions – Live In 3D: Get Your Sting & Blackout
  2. Iron Maiden – En Vivo!
  3. Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009
  4. Queen – Days Of Our Lives
  5. Ozzy Osbourne – Speak Of The Devil: Live At Irvine Meadows ’82

This year I decided to included DVDs and/or Blu-rays that came with CD releases or box sets because this seems to be the way bands and labels are adding something extra for fans. My favorite DVD of the year is also the first Blu-ray release I ever bought…..Scorpions – Live In 3D: get Your Sting & Blackout. An excellently produced concert film with plenty of extras, this got the top spot because I saw this tour live over the summer and that put Live In 3D over the top. The Scorpions needed that emotional attachment because iron Maiden delivered another excellent DVD in a long line of excellent DVDs with En Vivo! Does Iron Maiden ever do anything wrong went it comes to video releases? Plenty of awesome concert footage from Santiago, Chile and plenty of documentary film as well the only thing I could complain about is to package the DVD or Blu-ray with the double CD live album for a special package (that’s the next category). The new Saxon DVD is solid and part of the Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009 release, the DVD incorporates the band’s best performances from the Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany for 2004, 2007 and 2009…..that’s 31 songs! and some behind the scenes footage and you’ve got a Saxon fan’s dream DVD, only bettered by the super limited edition box set of this release that included separate DVDs of the full concerts. Had I been able to get one of those, Saxon would own the top spot easily. Rounding out the Top 5 is the Queen documentary, Days of Our Lives, finally getting a proper DVD release and the famous often duplicted, VHS only Ozzy Osbourne concert Speak Of The Devil: Live At Irvine Meadows ’82.

The Top 10 Miscellaneous Releases of 2012

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009
  2. UFO – The Chrysalis Years (1980 – 1986)
  3. Motorhead – The World Is Ours Vol.2: Anyplace Crazy As Anywhere Else
  4. Motorhead – The world Is Ours Vol.1: Everywhere Further Than Everywhere Else
  5. U.D.O. – Celebrator
  6. Judas Priest – Screaming For Vengeance (30th Anniversary Edition)
  7. KISS – Destroyer Resurrected
  8. U.D.O. – Live In Sofia
  9. Dio – The Very Beast Of Dio Vol.2
  10. Quiet Riot – Live At The US Festival ’83

I never like to put these kind of releases into my top albums category because I like to reserve that for albums of new material but there are always other great new releases aside from new studio albums and 2012 was no exception.

The #1 spot goes to the 2CD/DVD release from Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder Live: Eagles Over Wacken 2009 because that was my favorite release with the DVD of the best of the band’s last 3 appearances at Wacken Open Air and the double audio CD from Glascow on the Call To Arms Tour in 2011. My only regret is not knowing about the preorder for the limited edition that came with extra DVDs and CDs but it was also a couple hundred bucks. The second slot goes to the second volume of the UFO back catalog on Chrysalis Records from 1980 thru 1986. You get 5 CDs that include the 5 post Michael Schenker albums (No Place To Run, The Wild, The Willing And The Innocent, Mechanix, Making Contact, & Misdemeanor) all with bonus tracks, plus a full BBC In Concert from February 1980 and the live tracks from the Headstone compilation from Hammersmith 1983. I was lucky to have the label send me a copy but to get all this at retail for around $50 is a steal! I already have all the UFO albums on Japanese import with bonus tracks but this is another great compilation for a great band.

The #3 and #4 spots belong to Motorhead with The World is Ours Vols 1 & 2. I couldn’t decide which was better so I put the second volume first because it was fresher in the memory. Both sets have 2CD live sets and a live DVD in great packaging just like the Saxon set. Their label UDR is really putting out great stuff! U.D.O. also gets 2 slots in this Top 10 with the Celebrator two disc compilation of rare tracks and the Live In Sofia 2CD/DVD set. I put Live In Sofia at #8 but it’s a solid live package, AFM Records doing what UDR is doing and, for $14 on sale, it was a no brainer. The Celebrator album is really great because it collects all those hard to find Japanese bonus tracks remixed, some previously unreleased songs and a few songs from various tribute albums. I could have done with out the remix treatment and had the originals but I’m sure that was done to get thru legal label red tape. Its a great compilation of 25 songs on two discs with a great full color booklet. I put the Judas Priest Screaming For Vengeance 30th Anniversary Edition in at #6 more for the DVD from the US Festival ’83 than anything else, same with Quiet Riot at #10…..now that makes three bands that have released live DVDs of their US Festival performances (Triumph did it a few years ago). KISS released Destroyer Resurrected and it made #7, basically it was a 36 year celebration release restoring all the original artwork and having producer Bob Ezrin remix the album. It’s a nice novelty to have especially for the original guitar solo on ‘Sweet Pain’ as a bonus track but I will admit that my KISS fanaticism pushed this higher. Last to mention is The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 covering the best of the Dio band’s work from the ’90s up until Ronnie’s death, the track here to have is ‘Electra’ the first completed song from what would have been from the Magica II album that the band was working on when Ronnie James Dio passed away.

3 Releases I Missed In 2011

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  1. Royal Hunt – Future Coming From The Past DVD
  2. Benedictum – Dominion
  3. Skeletonwitch – Forever Abomination

Just a quick note on a couple releases I missed out on in 2011…..the Royal Hunt DVD is a formal worldwide release of the Japan only video release of Live 1996 and, even though it’s all over Youtube, it’s a welcome addition to my collection. Benedictum keeps churning out great albums and their third, Dominion, is awesome as is Forever Abomination from Skeltonwitch, a band I finally got around to checking out in 2012.

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?

2011 is almost over and it’s been a good year for buying music. There have been so many new albums, so many reissues and so many discovered treasures that it’s been hard to keep up! Actually, I didn’t keep up…..I have literally hundreds of albums on my desk and in boxes next to it that I either bought or were sent in by bands, add in all the digital promos that were emailed in and it was another HUGE year! There is just no possible way that I can listen to every album that crosses my desk but I do make a point to give every CD I buy a listen. I’ve bought a lot this year but not nearly s much as I have in previous years. I still made purchases through online stores, band websites, Ebay, private sales and…..my favorite…..the record stores but the amount of digital and physical promos that have been submitted made up the difference and made my want list even longer. Even though I’m lucky to receive these promos, I still like to have the physical product, especially of the bands I love so I had a lot to add to my want list. Remember, record stores are a dying breed and more and more are closing every year, especially the mom & pop stores that care about the music and the customer…..go out and support them!

December is always my slowest month of the year because the holidays are right around the corner and the hard earned cash has to be spent on more important things…..like presents and holiday dinners and, well, more presents! This is also the time of year when not much comes out because most of the new albums have already been released and it’s time for labels and stores to focus on greatest hits packages. The problem is that there are ALWAYS great sales this time of year and I was able to catch a really great one this time.

So here it is, the final update of 2011…..make sure you check out my final totals and analysis at the bottom…..

Newbury Comics

I’m a regular at Newbury Comics but I’m a rabid regular when there’s a can’t miss sale! The weekend of December 9 thru December 11 was a massive sale — Buy 1 Used CD, Get 1 For $1 (Limit 5). Now I’m not passing up the chance to pad my collection with a lot of catalog releases and older titles with that kind of sale so I made the trip to my two regular Newbury Comics locations (North Attleboro, MA and Warwick, RI) over the weekend to grab as many used CDs as I could. North Attleboro was first on my list for Friday because it’s less than 10 minutes from my house, Warwick was a special trip 20 minutes away with the family so I could use them to help make purchases…..remember, limit 5 per customer! When a sale like this happens, the usual protocol is you get the lower priced CDs as the $1 ones, not this time! This time around the store gave you the CD closest to the price of the used CD you bought for $1 (example: $7.99 used CD & a $7.99 used CD for $1). That saves even more money! There were also a few new releases I grabbed as well but I will list those at the end, first is the used treasures…..

Bang Camaro – s/t (2007) – $6 used: The whole Bang Camaro concept fascinates me, any band with a dozen or so singers will do that! Add that Bang Camaro is a New England band (based out of Boston) and I want to add it to the collection because they’re a local band. I’ve been watching this CD for a while, just like I did with the band’s second album, because the price was way too high. A sale like this is clearance time for the record store so there were two copies in the racks but one was $1 higher than this one. Taking a look online, this debut CD usually sells for around $10 at most retail/auction sites so I saved $4.

Bon Jovi – Lost Highway (2007) – $1 used: I’m not the biggest Bon Jovi fan anymore but I was back in the day from the debut album through NEW JERSEY but I do like some of their singles. Never bothered to buy this when it came out because I just couldn’t bring myself to spend the money to be ultimately disappointed (see THE CIRCLE) but I will buy it for $1! I like the title track and ‘One Step Closer’ but this was more of a bargain deal for the completist in me. This CD was marked as used but it’s really new and sealed, the reason why it was in the used bin was because the case is broken in multiple spots and there were plenty of new copies for $15 each. The used price on this CD was $4 so I saved $3 with the sale…..ultimately saving $14 compared to the regular price.

Lou Reed & Metallica – LuLu (2011) – $10 used: I know, I know…..I should have known this album would suck but DEATH MAGNETIC gave me hope for Metallica and just how bad could the album be? I’m not going to go into a review here but I was still intrigued. Again, chalk this up to being a completist and wanting to keep the Metallica collection complete. There was no way I was going to buy this brand new especially at the $18 regular price or the $15 sale price…..$10 I can live with if I’m getting a comparably priced CD for $1. I took the chance and bought this for the $10 and saved $8 off the regular price.

Rainbow – On Stage (1977) – $1 used: Here’s a great deal because the regular price for ON STAGE is $10 and the used price was $9…..paying $1 to fill a hole in the Rainbow collection works for me! This version of ON STAGE is actually the 1997 remaster and not the original pressing but that doesn’t matter because it’s Ritchie Blackmore and Ronnie James Dio live…..on stage! Buying this paired with Loutallica makes up for the wasted money on LULU because I saved a total of $9 off the regular price and I’m a huge Dio and Rainbow fan.

The Elves – And Before Elf…..There Were Elves (2011) – $8 used: I was pretty psyched to find this in the used section because this was just released by Niji Entertainment (Wendy Dio’s company) in November. I have the debut Elf record but this is Ronnie James Dio’s work before that album so it’s definitely an interesting release for me because I’m such a big Dio fan. I was going to buy this brand new anyway because the sale price of $10 was still in effect on the new copies that were in stock but I’ll take the used bargain any day! Regular price for this CD is $15, sale price was $10, so I saved $7 buying it used.

The Doors – s/t (40th Anniversary Edition) (1967/2007) – $1 used: It’s almost sacreligious to say that I never picked up The Doors’ debut album. One of the reasons why I never bought it is because the majority of the album’s tracks are on the box set and the greatest hits double disc I own already. The album has been on the want list but I’ve just never got around to it. This 40th Anniversary edition is your basic remaster with three bonus tracks: two versions of ‘Moonlight Drive’ (which eventually appeared on the second album STRANGE DAYS in 1967) and the original vocal recording of ‘Indian Summer’ (eventually released on MORRISON HOTEL in 1970). Regular price is $15, used price was $8 so I saved $7 pairing this with The Elves.

Glenn Hughes – Feel (1995) – $8 used: I love Glenn Hughes, he’s one of the best singers ever (dubbed “The Voice of Rock”) and his work with Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Black Country Communion and his solo career is excellent. I’ve been watching FEEL for two years at the North Attleboro location and I’ve always passed it up because there were always two used copies at the same price and they have never been moved or bought. There have been lots of used CD sales in that two year span but the two copies of FEEL were always filed in the Rock section under Misc. ‘H’. That was until this sale! When I was trolling the used racks, I saw this CD…..it’s been moved! I went to the usual ‘H’ section and the other used copy wan’t there! That means I had to buy for fear that I’d never get another chance at it. I’ve never seen another copy of FEEL in any record store ever so this $8 purchase was mandatory. Turns out this copy is a Japanese import on the Zero label and the Japanese lyric sheet is included, just not the OBI strip. I checked online and the average for a Japanese import of FEEL goes for an average of $20 so I saved $8 buying it used.

System Of A Down – s/t (1998) – $1 used: I saw System Of A Down on Ozzfest 1998 on the 2nd stage and I instantly liked the band because their sound and look was so different….I went out the next day and bought this album. This was before the band broke big here in the U.S. and no one really new them. Fast forward a few years and SOAD is one of the top Metal bands (getting lumped into the Nu-Metal category) and my wife was pregnant and I was laid off for almost 4 months…..I started to sell off some CDs that I could live without to make some extra cash and I sold this CD for around $10 to a friend. I always wanted to pick this CD back up but I never got around to it because there was never a used copy available. This is the original pressing and there were a few copies for $10 each brand new but this used copy was only $6…..paired with Glenn Hughes, I saved $5.

Spinal Tap – This Is Spinal Tap soundtrack (1984) – $6 used: I love the cover of this album because it’s “none more black”. This is the original pressing of the soundtrack to the Spinal Tap movie, not the remaster, and the black album cover is the edited album cover for SMELL THE GLOVE, the album Spinal Tap was releasing and touring in the movie. Anyway, all the big hits are here and I always wanted to get the original pressing with the original mix. Can’t beat $6 used especially when my research shows a new copy of either the original or reissue pressing goes for $10…..saved $4.

Deep Purple – The Battle Rages On… (1993) – $1 used: Chalk this purchase up to me getting a solid portion of my collection on my Collectorz.com Music Collector software and having it on my cell phone. For years I’ve passed up multiple used copies of the Deep Purple CD because I thought I owned it, when I was inputting the ‘D’ section of my collection, I thought I misplaced it! Turns out I never owned it! Saw this disc in the used bin, checked the collection on my phone, and snatched it up right away. I haven’t seen a regular priced copy of THE BATTLE RAGES ON in at least 15 years so I checked online and the usual price is around $10. The used price was $6 and pairing it with Spinal Tap saved me $9 off the possible regular price.

Tattoo Rodeo – Rode Hard, Put Away Wet (1991) – $4 used: When you are a bargain hunter like myself, you pick up CDs by bands that you only know by name recognition. I remember the name Tattoo Rodeo but I’ve never heard the music or really followed up on what the band was about. I grabbed this album at it’s cheap $4 price and was happy to have it. Upon further research after the purchase, it turns out that this is a band made up of former White Sister members playing a Southern Hard Rock style. $4 isn’t a bad price to pay for a 1991 album that’s more than likely an ’80s Hard Rock album (let’s face it, that ’80s sound went as far as 1994 in some cases!). Some Ebay research shows that you can get this on average of $10 so I think I saved $6.

The Darkness – One Way Ticket To Hell…And Back (2005) – $1 used: I was a big fan of The Darkness when the debuted in 2003 with PERMISSION TO LAND but I never got around to buying this album…..until now. I’ve been watching this $4 used copy of ONE WAY TICKET TO HELL…AND BACK for months, maybe even years, and the excuse has always been that “it’s always there”. When the CD isn’t there, another pops up within a couple of weeks…..maybe it’s the same CD? Either way, I figured it was time to drop the money down, especially with this sale and the reuniting of The Darkness for a new album and tour. Regular price for this CD is around $10 but pairing this with Tattoo Rodeo made the price go from $4used to $1 used. Can’t beat saving around $9.

Alice Cooper – The Alice Cooper Show (1977) – $5 used: There are too many holes in the Alice Cooper collection so I’m on a mission to buy all the missing albums as soon as possible. Good news on this sale, there were a couple Alice CDs in the used bins that I didn’t own, this live album being one of them. Thank god for the Collectorz.com Music Collector software because I was able to check my collection on my phone and see what was in the Alice collection at home (I’m still in the middle of the ‘D’ section). This was an easy purchase and at $5 used t was a great bargain. There was a copy of this CD in the regular Alice Cooper section for $10 so I easily saved $5 buying used.

Lullacry – Crucify My Heart (2003) – $1 used: Here’s another band that I remembered the name of but never got around to buying. Actually, the difference this time is that I’ve heard a few songs. I compare Lullacry’s female-fronted Gothic Metal to The Gathering, Epica and After Forever so it’s a style that I like so it’s a good purchase rather than a risk. CRUCIFY MY HEART the third Lullacry album but the first to feature Tanja Lainio on lead vocals. This CD goes for around $10 in most place so the $4 used price was good to begin with but pairing this CD with Alice Cooper made the final price $1. I easily saved $9 on a band I’ve been wanting to try out for a few years and I can get an idea of  what they are about before I drop a sale price on the new album that’s coming in early 2012.

Giant – III (2001) – $10 used: This CD equals the Metallica – LuLu CD as the highest I paid this month for a used CD. Why so much for Giant’s third studio album (fourth overall if you count the live record)? Not sure. This album is 11 years old and Giant wasn’t that popular back in the day. Sure, they had a hit with the ballad ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ but that was back in 1989…..there hasn’t been much on the Giant front in the 20+ years since (4 studio albums & 2 live for a career) but Giant still remain a favorite in Melodic Rock circles. I’ve never seen III in a record store since 2001, I checked online and it still gets $15 in most places so I considered buying it. Other factors: recognized the band name, own other Giant albums, it’s on Frontiers Records (one of the best labels out there!) and it was shiny and practically brand new. One note after getting this disc home, turns ou it’s a promo copy that says “promotional, not for re-sale”. I pulled the trigger and saved around $5 but that allowed me to pair another high priced used CD to it…..

Angel – s/t (1975) – $1 used: Treasure of the month! This is an original pressing of Angel’s debut album and it is hard to find. I’ve only seen one other copy that was an original pressing and that was at least 15 years ago and it was a lot of money then. Angel is one of those ’70s Hard Rock bands that everyone forgets (like Starz) because they shared a label and management with a bigger ’70s Hard rock band…..KISS! But the Angel sound, the albums, the stage show…..it’s all good stuff! There have been a couple of Japanese reissues but not any in the U.S., even those Japanese reissues and the original Japanese pressings of ALL Angel albums go for big dollars on Ebay. This was the first album I found in the used bin and it was getting bought no matter what at $9 used but pairing it with the Giant album made it a $1 used CD. I did some research online and previous data on the original pressings (both U.S. and Japanese) from the last decade show that this CD can go as high as $100+ but, with the subsequent Japanese reissues, the price drops to normal import retail of around $25 (without shipping). The problem is that there aren’t that many copies out there on the market for sale. I’m going to put a $15 regular price on this and count it as a $14 savings.

Alice Cooper – Alice Cooper Goes To Hell (1976) – $4 used: This is the second Alice Cooper album I found in the used bins and the second hole filled in the Alice collection. This was slotted right with THE ALICE COOPER SHOW so when I checked my collection on my phone, I knew that I definitely didn’t already own it. The only concern here is that I noticed that some Alice albums have been re-released as part of a “budget series” and they have a slightly altered front cover. I took this used CD over to the regular Alice Cooper section and compared it to the re-release, I checked the catalog # online also, and this turned out to be an original CD pressing. Original pressings of this record run about $9 online (the re-release in the store was $8) so I figure  saved $5 overall and filled a much needed hole on the Alice Cooper want list.

D.A.D. – Riskin’ It All (1992) – $1 used: I remember D.A.D. (Disneyland After Dark) from back in the day because of the single ‘Sleeping My Day Away’ from their fourth album, NO FUEL LEFT FOR PILGRIMS (1989). I don’t have any other D.A.D. albums (again, checking the collection on my phone!) so it was a nice pickup to go along with Alice, especially for only $1. I would have even paid the original used price of $4. This was also a name recognition thing because I remember the big controversy when the band got some success from ‘Sleeping My Day Away’ and the Disney corporation came calling on the band to change their name. If you ever find a CD, cassette or vinyl copy of D.A.D.’s first four albums with the original Disneyland After Dark band name, buy it immeadiately because it’s a collector’s item. This CD averages $8 online so I saved $7. one last cool note about this CD purchase, there’s a price tag on the actual jewel case from some mom & pop record store (can’t make out the name) from February 1999 and the price was $7.95.

Bon Jovi – Have A Nice Day (2005) – $4 used: I must be getting sympathetic in my old age because I have not had the patience for any Bon Jovi album since CRUSH (2000). That album was solid and the concert was good…..until the encore of covers and I soured on Bon Jovi quick. The last Bon Jovi album I bought before the latest album, THE CIRCLE (2009), was released was 2002′s BOUNCE…..I’ve bought nothing in between. There are some catchy tunes that I’ve heard on the radio, on the music that’s played at work and at the concert I saw on The Circle Tour and that made me pick this up……that and the low $4 used price! I like the title track and ‘Who Says You Can’t Go Home’ so maybe I’ll give this a spin and there will be other songs I’ll like. Regular price still hovers around $14 in store so I saved $10 and filled a hole in the Bon Jovi collection.

Ted Nugent – Spirit Of The Wild (1995) – $1 used: I’ve been a fan of Terrible Ted since I saw him open for Aerosmith on the Done With Mirrors tour in 1986 and realized the same guy singing ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ was the same guy from the ‘Little Miss Dangerous’ video and the Miami Vice episode! Something about the way Ted started his set by jumping over the drums, rolling on the floor and screaming into the mic (blowing out my eardrums!) will always be my first live concert memory and it was awesome! The weird thing is that save for a couple recent studio albums and a generic greatest hits collection, I don’t own much Ted…..oops, forgot LITTLE MISS DANGEROUS (1986), I own that too. There are some massive holes that need to be filled in the Ted collection so this is the first, and not the last Nuge disc, I bought this month with this sale. SPIRIT OF THE WILD usually runs around $10 if you find it new so I saved $9 pairing it with Bon Jovi.

Queen – Hot Space (1981) – $10 used: It’s about damn time! I’ve been searching and searching for HOT SPACE for years and I finally found a copy of the 1991 reissue series with the bonus track that completes the Quuen collection. When Queen announced they were re-releasing all the Queen albums again starting in late 2010, I knew someone somewhere would part with this CD to get the fresher version. I could have easily bought the new reissue of HOT SPACE but I decided that I wasn’t going to buy the entire new set of reissues and I didn’t want to “break the set”. It was a matter of time, a waiting game that’s lasted a while since I first posted a WANTED feature on HOT SPACE. Now the Queen studio collection is complete and I need to grab a couple live albums to make the entire Queen collection complete! The new HOT SPACE runs around $18 and there were a few copies to be had, this 1991 pressing goes for around $10 on Ebay if it becomes available. Going with the Ebay price, I broke even but I was able to get another much needed album by pairing it up…..

Motorhead – Motorizer (2008) - $1 used: Finally, another album I’ve been wanting to buy and fill a hole in a band’s collection. Technically, I already own MOTORIZER, the record label (SPV) sent me a promo copy back in 2008 so i could review the album. I like getting promos to review and I got this album a couple months before it was released so I never picked up when it came out because I new the music already and it was uploaded to my iPod. It’s always bothered me that I never had the actual release with the booklet and artwork, all I owned was a cardboard sleeve and the promo disc. This sale changed that! For $1, I was able to pick up a practically new copy for my collection at a great used price. Now that promo copy becomes a conversation piece and/or a collector’s item. Regular price for this CD is $15 everywhere, used price was $10, so I saved $14 pairing it with Queen.

Ted Nugent – Free-For-All (1976) – $8 used: This is technically a used CD because it’s labelled that way but it’s technically a brand new CD because it was still in the original shrinkwrap, the problem was a really broken jewel case and a few copies of this album at the regular $12 price. This is the remastered version from 1999 that contains three bonus tracks. I’m not a fanatic about original pressings but I do like to acquire them and make note of them in this column, buying a remastered Ted record at a good price is fine with me, especially since the original pressing CDs are hard to come by. Another hole filled in the classic Nuge collection (and there’s a couple more coming!) at a great price…..saved $4.

Motorhead – 1916 (1991) – $1 used: Another hole filled in the Motorhead collection! I haven’t seen a copy of 1916 in a long time and this album didn’t get the deluxe reissue treatment like the previous studio albums did. I had this on the radar not only because it was a glaring omission in the collection but because the young metalhead son of my best friend came to the house specifically to get the song ‘R.A.M.O.N.E.S.’ and I didn’t have the studio version! I felt like an incomplete collector and bad Metal mentor! The quest was on, took a month, found it nice and used during a great sale. The regular price on this varies but it’s usually $10 on Ebay, the used price was $7 but it was really $1 by pairing it with the Motor City Madman…..saved $9 off regular price.

Ted Nugent – Great Gonzos! The Best Of Ted Nugent (1981) – $6 used: This gonzo greatest hits package was orginally released in 1981 but the copy I found in the used bin was the 1999 remaster three bonus tracks, one being a brand new studio recording, ‘Give Me Just A Little’. What’s exciting about this studio bonus track is that it’s co-written by Ted’s Damn Yankees bandmates Jack Blades (Night Ranger) & Tommy Shaw (Styx) along with Neal Schon (Journey). In 1999, there was talk of a Damn Yankees reunion and album but it never got off the ground, maybe this is one of those songs? I knew that there was a new copy of GREAT GONZOS in the regular Ted Nugent section so I took this over and the same 1999 remaster at regular price was $13. Buying used saved me $7 and filled another hole in the Ted collection.

Ted Nugent – Cat Scratch Fever (1977) – $1 used: Add another CD into the Ted Nugent collection! This time it’s the classic CAT SCRATCH FEVER record and it’s another from the 1999 remaster series. This is the classic Nugent album, the one everyone knows because of the classic title track but I’ve heard the album before and it’s solid all around. There are two bonus tracks on this pressing: live versions of the title track and one of my favorites, ‘Wang Dang Sweet Poontang’. Again, I checked this used copy alongside it’s regular priced counterpart and there was a significant savings. Regular price was $13 and the used price was $6, I’m already saving more than half buying used…..pairing this with GREAT GONZOS! made it $1 used for a $12 savings.

Ted Nugent – Weekend Warriors (1978) – $4 used: I told you I didn’t have many Ted albums in my collection! WEEKEND WARRIORS is another much needed album in the Ted Nugent collection that I bought on a great sale. This time around, this is the original pressing and NOT a 1999 remaster. I’m actually kind of disappointed that it wasn’t a remaster because all the other Ted CDs I bought were, I’m a sucker for bonus tracks and now I wonder if there are good ones on this album’s remaster. Anyway, WEEKEND WARRIORS usually sells for around $9 on Ebay whether it’s the original or reissue so buying it used saved me $5 off the regular price.

 

Now there really should be a $1 used CD attached to WEEKEND WARRIORS but I had a problem with three other CDs I picked up during this sale. I bought Ted Nugent - Craveman (2002), The Quireboys – This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll (2001) and Giant – Last Of The Runaways (1989) all for cheap dollars…..problem was that I owned them already. This is why I need to continue adding CDs to my Collectorz software, so this doesn’t happen again. I returned all three to the store almost immeadiately and I received my $6 back. The Ted Nugent and Quireboys CDs were linked together and the Giant CD would have gone with WEEKEND WARRIORS.

Now on to the new CDs…..

Mass – New Birth (Anniversary Edition) (1985/2011) – $13: I’ve been big into Mass since they released their last album, SEA OF BLACK (2010), and since I saw them open for Mr. Big last summer. Mass is a great local band (from Massachusetts) and they’ve been around since the early ’80s. NEW BIRTH originally came out in 1985 and it was re-released by Retrospect Records a few years ago. This time around NEW BIRTH gets the re-release treatment for it’s 25th anniversary on Retroactive Records, a label specializing in Chrisitan Metal with two other Mass re-releases to their credit. I’m riding high on Mass right now and I’m looking to fill up that part of my collection so I figured I’d start with this album, especially when I saw it was listed on the Newbury Comics weekly e-newsletter. I also knew I had to get there on time the Tuesday of release because there would only be a couple of copies in stock. To my surprise there were at least 10 copies available (remember, Mass is a local act) so I was able to secure this CD at a decent regular price.

Rock Goddess – Hell Hath No Fury (1984/2008 reissue) – $6: This is a score! Back in 1984, I used to cut pctures out of Hit Parader and Circus magazines and plaster them all over my bedroom walls and I used to have this picture of Rock Goddess (along with a picture of Girlschool) hanging next to a poster of Vince Neil. I never did pickup this album back in the day but I did manage to acquire it on cassette in the late ’90s when I bought a huge box of cassettes at a local mom & pop record shop for a bulk price. I’ve never seen a HELL HATH NO FURY CD in person but I do know there have been various reissues on Ebay, some of which I’m sure were bootlegs. I decided that $6 regular price wasn’t bad for a recent reissue on a label I knew….Rennaissance Records.

Scorpions – Comeblack (2011) – $15: I’ve been dying to know what this album sounds like for the last couple of months. Reviews have been hit or miss and the concept also seems hit or miss: 7 re-recorded songs and 6 covers. I’m not big on cover songs but I wouldn’t mind hearing what the Scorpions’ interpretation of their big ’80s hits would sound like in 2011. The Scorpions have been a big band in my Metal life and they are currently coming to the end of their career, at this point I’m soaking up as much Scorpions as I can! COMEBLACK (bad title!) was released everywhere except the U.S. in the Fall of 2011 so I’ve been debating this purchase for a while. I finally decided to snag it when I noticed one copy left out of the five that I’d seen for weeks. Of course, about a month after I buy it at $15, COMEBLACK gets a proper U.S. release and a nifty sale price of $10!

Autograph – The Anthology (2011) – $16: This was an expensive purchase for a band that never really made it back in the ’80s save for a couple of songs — ‘Turn Up The Radio’ and ‘Blondes In Black Cars’. I love Autograph though and I have all their albums and I enjoy them. When I saw the title of this CD, I figured that this was going to be a greatest hits style package from all four of the band’s studio albums and I didn’t need another compilation of tracks I already had! I did some research and it seems that this is a double disc release of demos, b-sides and unreleased songs…..the problem is that Autograph already had that with 1997′s MISSING PIECES and 2003′s MORE MISSING PIECES, which was the original MISSING PIECES with 7 more demo/unreleased tracks. I already own MISSING PIECES, and MORE MISSING PIECES is rare and hard to find, so I figured I’d pick this up if there was “missing pieces” to the Autograph catalog. My research shows that Disc 1 is the MORE MISSING PIECES release but with two different songs replacing two from the original 2003 release. The second disc is 12 tracks that were unreleased from the sessions for the band’s 4th album BUZZ (2003) and beyond. THE ANTHOLOGY is a pretty good archival release so I figured that I’d snag it while I could because there was only one copy up for grabs and Deadline Music is a label that doesn’t always print a bunch of copies of their releases and they go out of print quickly.

Halford – Live At Saitama Super Arena (2011) – $10: I already picked up the live DVD a few weeks prior but the actual live CD was delayed. Not sure why but it was definitely an inconvenience. Maybe it’s more of a business thing to get extra money? All I know is that there have been a lot of live CD & DVD packages coming out the last few years for around $20 and it’s just easier to get it all in one set rather than have to buy it separately. A small complaint I guess because this is the same setlist as the DVD just in audio form. I’m a huge Rob Halford fan whether it’s with Judas Priest or solo so i was buying this anyway but I just prefer to have it as a set with both formats together. For some reason, this is bothering me way more than it should! At least I got  a decent sale price and saved $4 off the $14 regular price.

Riot – Immortal Soul (2011) – $12: I’ve been looking forward to hearing IMMORTAL SOUL ever since Mark Reale announced that the classic THUNDERSTEEL era lineup would be touring and recording. I’ve been a huge Riot fan since the late ’90s when i re-discovered the band through the re-releases of FIRE DOWN UNDER (1981) and RESTLESS BREED (1982) on the High Vaultage label from GERMANY. Since then I’ve collected all the Riot albums I can with only a couple ommission and I’ve blasted the music as loud as I can! The last few Riot studio albums since the late ’90s have been solid Metal records so I expect nothing less from IMMORTAL SOUL. Good to see about a half dozen copies in the new release rack for sale AND good to see another metalhead buying a copy at the same time I was! Regular price is a whopping $17 but the sale price was $12 on the day of release so I saved $5.

Royal Hunt – Show Me How To Live (2011) – $13: Another band I discovered in the late ’90s, Royal Hunt has become one of my favorite bands of the last 15 years. Unfortunately, by the time I discovered them in late 1997/early 1998, their singer D.C. Cooper had left the band to pursue a solo career. D.C. Cooper’s vocals are awesome, he was in the running for the vacant Judas Priest gig back in the mid-’90s, and I always thought that there ws something missing from subsequent Royal Hunt albums. Don’t get me wrong, John West and Mark Boals were great replacements but I just dig D.C. Cooper. Well now he’s back in the band and this is the first studio album back and it has proper distribution through Frontiers Records. I still haven’t picked up the band’s last record, X (2010), and there are a few holes in the Royal Hunt collection so I’m hoping that SHOW ME HOW TO LIVE is really good and gets me on a serious Royal Hunt kick. Regular price is another big $17 but most Frontiers releases are that price because they are imports…..the $13 sale price helped save me $4.

White Wizzard – Flying Tigers (2011) – $10: An easy purchase here because White Wizzard have become one of my favorite new Traditional Heavy Metal bands of the last few years due to their old school, NWOBHM style. I didn’t even know that White Wizzard had a new record coming out until I noticed it in the e-newsletter sale section, that just goes to show that I haven’t been paying much attention to all things Metal for the last year or so! Regular price for this CD is $16, a little high for an Earache Records release because they have normal U.S. distribution, but the sale price was $10 the day of release so I ended up saving $6.

 

Final Stats for 2011

Total (December) = $212

Total (year) = $1145

Average Price (per item) = $8.06

Total Savings (December) = $214

Total Savings (year) = $1050

Total CDs (year) = 134

Total DVDs (year) = 7

Total Box Sets (year) = 0

Total LPs (year) = 1

Just a quick analysis…..

I bought 36 fewer items compared with 2010 (142 to 168) and I also spent a lot less compared to 2010 ($1145 to $1820). This year was the first year I decided to track an estimation of how much I saved buying used and on sale and I was able to save almost as much money as I spent with a difference between the two of $95.

WANTED

Royal Hunt – X (2010)

I discovered Royal Hunt in 1998 and they have been a favorite of mine ever since. I remember picking up a copy of the Metal Dreams fanzine and there was an article on the band that stirred my interest…..then I started to notice all their albums well-stocked in the “import” section at my local record store. I didn’t really pick up on the band until I discovered that you could listen to music online with your dial-up AOL connection! Yes, those were the internet dark ages for me, dial-up in 1998! Anyway, over the next year, I devoured anything I could on Royal Hunt and I picked up all of their albums through to 1999′s FEAR. As my favorite record shop started to decline in sales and inventory (and eventually closed around 2002), acquiring Royal Hunt albums became a little harder and buying online became the best alternative.

The band’s latest album, X, was announced back in late 2009 and was released in Japan on Marquee/Avalon in January 2010. Unfortunately, Japanese import prices can total upwards of $30+ (including shipping) so I passed with the hope that a U.S. release would happen soon after. I noticed that there weren’t many Japanese copies of X floating around at the time and it seemed like the album was one of those small pressings that record companies sometimes do if there’s a contract issue. Sure enough, Royal Hunt had just extended their Japanese contract for this one album. A release date for Europe was announced for June 2010 on Scarlet Records but I really never heard much on Royal Hunt over the summer. There were copies available online but the price with shipping still totalled over $20+ and I was holding out for a copy of two to land at my local record store. Newbury Comics never stocked it so I passed buy it.

Recently, my Royal Hunt radar has gone back up because the band reunited with former lead singer D.C. Cooper to tour Japan for a run of dates. I’m not sure how this affects Mark Boals status in the band but it affects my status in acquiring X. Of all the 2010 albums I missed last year, this album is on my high priority list.

From Bravewords.com:

ROYAL HUNT have revealed the artwork and tracklisting for their upcoming new album, entitled X, which is due out this year.

The album will include the following songs:

‘Episode X (Arrival)’
‘End Of The Line’
‘King For A Day’
‘The Well’
‘Army Of Slaves’
‘Shadowman’
‘Back To Square One’
‘Blood Red Stars’
‘The Last Leaf’
‘Falling Down’
‘Episode X (Departure)’

More information at http://www.royalhunt.com/

2008 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I buy a lot of music but the failing economy took it’s toll on my music budget. I was very lucky to have caught the attention of many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review (to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU), without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. The ranking of the Top 30 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into two posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15):

#1

Avantasia - The Scarecrow (2008)Avantasia – The Scarecrow

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

#2

Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)Ayreon – 01011001

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

#3

whitesnakegood_to_be_badWhitesnake – Good To Be Bad

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

#4

Judas Priest - Nostradamus (2008)Judas Priest – Nostradamus

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

#5

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

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

#6

cover_globaldramaCloudscape – Global Drama

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

#7

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

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

#8

Journey Revelation (2008) Journey – Revelation

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

#9

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

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

#10

moonspell-night-eternal-2008Moonspell – Night Eternal

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

#11

benedictum-seasons-of-tragedyBenedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy

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

#12

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

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

#13

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

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

#14

shannon-angel-in-disguiseShannon – Angel In Disguise

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

#15

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

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

——————————————————————————————–

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

——————————————————————————————–

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

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hair Metal Mansion

Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
Metal Excess

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

Rock Of Ages

Royal Hunt - Collision Course - Paradox II

Royal Hunt – Collision Course: Paradox II (2008, Magna Carta)

  1. Principles Of Paradox
  2. The First Rock
  3. Exit Wound
  4. Divide And Reign
  5. High Noon At The Battlefield
  6. The Clan
  7. Blood In Blood Out
  8. Tears Of The Sun
  9. Hostile Breed
  10. Chaos A.C.

Band Lineup:
André Andersen – Keyboards & Guitars
Mark Boals – Lead Vocals
Marcuss Jidell – Guitars & Cello
Allan Sorensen – Drums & Percussion
Per Schelander – Bass

Additional Musicians:
Ian Parry, Doogie White, Kenny Lubcke, Henrik Brockmann, Marta McTurk, Soma Allpass, Michelle Raitzin – additional vocals
Patricia Skovgaard – Violin
Soma Allpass – Cello
Erik Rosenqvist – Woodwinds & Accordian

Producer: André Andersen

Total Time = 51:40

Royal Hunt official website
Royal Hunt MySpace page
Magna Carta

Royal Hunt has been around a long time (since 1993) but they have had the unfortunate luck of being a victim of their own success. After changing vocalists in 1995 (Henrik Brockmann out, D.C. Cooper in), the band created their two landmark albums with 1995′s MOVING TARGET and 1997′s PARADOX. Those two excellent melodic Prog/Power records propelled the band to international success and set the creative bar extremely high. Tensions within the band led to another change at the mic (Cooper out, John West in) but it seemed that the band had reached it’s creative peak. Albums like THE MISSION (2001), EYEWITNESS (2003) and PAPER BLOOD (2005) were good but it seemed as if the band had lost some of their fire.

This time around Royal Hunt is a totally different band as only mastermind & keyboard wizard André Andersen is left from the classic lineup and another change at the singer position brings former Yngwie Malmsteen/Ring Of Fire vocalist Mark Boals to the table. COLLISION COURSE: PARADOX II is the sequel to the landmark PARADOX, it’s hard enough to follow-up a band’s best album and continue a specific concept 11 years later, add another lead singer and it could all be a recipe for disaster. Fortunately the personnel changes have renewed Royal Hunt’s creative juices because COLLISION COURSE is the album fans have been waiting for over the last decade.

Just like it’s counterpart, COLLISION COURSE is a concept album based on how society views religion, specifically the idea of God. The twist is the differing beliefs and the clash between Western religions (Catholicism/Christianity) and Eastern religions (Islam). I wonder where they got this idea? The different philosophies of both religions and the struggle to coexist provides the “collision course”, a serious topic that is playing out in our world society at this very moment. The album is classic Royal Hunt: swirling keyboards, solid guitar work, a solid rhythm section and an astounding vocal performance. Add big sounding harmonies and orchestration with good songwriting and COLLISION COURSE becomes an album on par with it’s predecessor.

‘Principles Of Paradox’ opens the album as an instrumental but it does have a very melodic vocal from Mark Boals that only last about a minute. The other four minutes of the song showcase the different instrumentations and time changes that Royal Hunt have been applauded for in the past. The song moves directly into the guitar heavy ‘The First Rock’, a song that features a powerful and melodic Boals. After hearing Boals belt this song out it’s obvious that he is a natural fit with the band and can easily match both D.C. Cooper’s and John West’s range. The music never stops as ‘The First Rock’ seemlessly flows right into the melodic ‘Exit Wound’. This song reminds me of the really big sound that Royal Hunt captured in the mid-’90s with D.C. Cooper: the keyboards and guitars work in perfect harmony while the main vocals and backing tracks elevate the sound to new heights. Royal Hunt has always had excellent background vocals and there is no question that the various guest vocalists like Doogie White, Ian Parry, and original Royal Hunt frontman Henrik Brockmann add to the overall performance.

One thing I noticed is that the music never stops between each song, they all continue into each other, so the album is actually one big song with ten distinct parts. This can be a problem for sometimes but the music easily flows and retains it’s uniqueness. ‘Divide & Conquer’ is another lengthy jaunt driven by Per Schandler’s (House Of Shakira) bass, Allan Sorensen’s double-bass drumming and Boals’ high screams that moves into one of the album’s best track, ‘High Noon At The Battlefield’. ‘High Noon’ starts off with an acoustic guitar/piano intro with a very subtle vocal that brings the overall pace of the music to mid-tempo/ballad range and includes a spoken word speech that highlights the division racism places within religion. It’s a nice diversion from the constant Prog/Power musical embellishments that are in the uptempo songs, it shows a different side of the band. Moving into ‘The Clan’, the racism theme continues but the song is faster like ‘The First Rock’ and ‘Exit Wound’. The one thing I noticed right away is that the music is almost identical to ‘Wasted Time’ from 1994′s CLOWN IN THE MIRROR. It’s not a cover but a reinterpretation of the music as both songs are very catchy and melodic but with different lyrics and some slightly different musical passages. I had to put both songs on to compare and I could easily sing ‘Wasted Time’ over ‘The Clan’ in some parts. It’s interesting…..

Some Middle Eastern rhythms are prominent in the darker ‘Blood In Blood Out’ and a female vocal starts off the keyboard heavy ‘Tears Of The Sun’, another song that sounds like older Royal Hunt (I’ve tried to find a song similar but I haven’t found it…yet!). ‘Tears Of The Sun’ sounds like typical Royal Hunt musically but Boals delivers another album highlight with his soaring vocals hitting all the high notes. I think the reason I think this song sounds so familiar is the interplay between the male and female vocals, I always thought that this was a key to the band’s classic sound especially during the D.C. Cooper years. The pace slows down again as ‘Hostile Breed’ begins but it slowly builds with the emphasis on Andersen’s keys adding the Middle Eastern flavor again. The guitar solo is a little too clean here but still good and the drums begin to quicken around this time also. The pace changes throughout but some striking parts of the song are the operatic female vocals and the gang vocals that sing “Jihad” during the chorus. ‘Hostile Breed’ flows seemlessly into the keyboard heavy ‘Chaos A.D.’, a song that is more of an ending piece to the whole concept of the album, and incorporates part of the opening ‘Principles Of Power’.

Bottom Line:
Royal Hunt has survived another round of personnel changes and the band lineup is as strong as I’ve ever heard. Adding Mark Boals as the lead singer is a smart move, he is a very underrated singer and fits the dramatic Royal Hunt style. The band has continued the concept of the first PARADOX album from eleven years ago and built a solid sequel that is much better than their last three studio albums (ask Queensryche how hard that is to do!). There are a couple of average songs but the overall album ties it all together in one solid package. One of the best albums I’ve heard all year!

Favorite Songs: ‘The First Rock’, ‘Exit Wound’, ‘High Noon At The Battlefield’, ‘The Clan’

Royal Hunt – Live 1996 (1996, SPV)

CD 1

  1. Flight
  2. 1348
  3. Wasted Time
  4. Stay Down
  5. On The Run
  6. Stranded
  7. Keyboard solo
  8. Martial Arts
  9. Far Away
  10. Last Goodbye
  11. Land Of Broken Hearts
  12. Makin’ A Mess

CD 2

  1. Clown In The Mirror
  2. Guitar solo
  3. Step By Step
  4. Drum & Bass solos
  5. Running Wild
  6. Epilogue
  7. Age Gone Wild
  8. 10 To Life
  9. Legion Of The Damned
  10. Kingdom Dark
  11. Time

Total Time = 1:57:31

Royal Hunt official website

In the late ’90s, I used to shop at a record store 20 minutes from my home called 2 Guys Music. This shop was a small hole-in-the-wall store in a local shopping plaza that catered to fans of Rock, Classic Rock and Heavy Metal. They had a well-stocked CD section, large used CD section (“Buy 3 Get 1 Free”), and the Import section. I spent hours in that store twice week: new release Tuesday and Saturday mornings when all the CDs traded in for cash Friday night were on the racks! The guys behind the counter used to play all the newer bands on the stereo that I had never heard before, especially albums from the Import section, and that’s how I discovered Royal Hunt.

It was 1999 and I was buying up Metal CDs like crazy and the Import section at 2 Guys took a lot of my attention and money. All the new European and Japanese imports were usually there and higher in price but that didn’t stop me from taking a chance on a couple of Royal Hunt albums. I grabbed LIVE 1996 for $17.99, not bad for a double disc set, and MOVING TARGET (1995), the first album to feature lead vocalist D.C. Cooper. When I got to the car, I meant to put MOVING TARGET in the CD player but I ended up putting in the first CD of LIVE 1996 in by mistake. The cool thing is that by listening to LIVE 1996 first I ended up getting a sampling of Royal Hunt’s entire discography (3 albums & an E.P.) with 7 songs coming from the band’s first album LAND OF BROKEN HEARTS (1992), 6 songs from CLOWN IN THE MIRROR (1993), and 7 songs from MOVING TARGET.  LIVE 1996 was recorded on the band’s tour of Japan in the first week of June 1996. Royal Hunt was extremely popular in Japan at the time and winning many national awards for Album Of The Year for MOVING TARGET.

Royal Hunt is a Progressive Metal band kind of like Dream Theater but more melodic. The songwriting and musicianship is very strong and D.C. Cooper’s vocal range is amazing (he was up for the Judas Priest vocal slot to replace Rob Halford)! Over the course of two discs, Royal Hunt gives off a blistering performance of almost 3 full albums of material and they include 3 solo sections so they rest of the band can have center stage. The stars of the album is D.C. Cooper and his female backup singers, they just really make you stand up and take notice of the powerful vocals and lyrics. As far as individual songs, there are 20 songs here and they are all done extrememly well but some of my favorites are: ‘Land Of Broken Hearts’, ’1348′, ‘Far Away’ (the band’s Japanese #1 single), ‘Step By Step’ and ‘Age Gone Wild’. I can honestly say that aside from the 3 solo sections and the instrumental ‘Martial Arts’, the entire live album is solid.

After buying LIVE 1996 and listening to it non-stop, it took me only a couple of weeks to update my Royal Hunt collection. I picked up the first two albums, 1997′s PARADOX (which came as a box set with a bonus CD of the album performed live called CLOSING THE CHAPTER), and D.C. Cooper’s 1999 solo album. What I didn’t know was that Royal Hunt’s original singer, Henrik Brockmann, is featured on the first two albums and that D.C. Cooper had left Royal Hunt sometime in 1998. I’ve listened to the first two albums with Brockmann on vocals and I prefer the live versions from the LIVE 1996 performance with D.C. Cooper…..Cooper has more range than Brockmann and can easily hit the higher registers. It also sounds like the band had tightened and evolved their sound with Cooper by the live album, making the older material much stronger. I listen to this album a lot to this day because the music is so melodic even with all the soloing and keyboard heavy songs.

After taking most of September off from the site, and from the Internet all together, I decided to get myself into gear and end September with something I’ve been planning for awhile…..Live Album Week!

All the Live Album reviews are after this post.

This week is dedicated to some of the most influential live albums that I have listened to over the years. Most of these are my all-time favorite live albums but, most importantly, each album helped me discover more about each band.  Each live album review will be similar to my normal reviews but with a little more emphasis on the memories that each one possesses.

Here’s this week’s lineup:

Sunday: KISS – Alive II (1977)

Monday: Iron Maiden – Live After Death (1985)

Tuesday: Scorpions – World Wide Live (1985)

Wednesday: Krokus – Alive & Screamin’ (1986)

Thursday: Royal Hunt – Live 1996 (1996)

Friday: UFO – Strangers In The Night (1979)

Saturday: Judas Priest – Priest…..Live! (1987)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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