The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1-#10)

We finally made it to the Top 10!

Something you may have noticed by now is that some of my favorite bands are missing from the countdown so far…..guess where they are?

2009 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 am still very lucky to have 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 and discovered some new bands. I have totalled up the CDs and there were 125 albums up for this year’s honors!

The only criteria I followed for my Top 40 was that 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 2009. In the beginning of the year I decided that an album that was released in 2008, but was released in 2009 for the U.S., qualified as a 2009 album…..basically I went by the date on the back of the CD! There are plenty of albums that got late U.S. releases and there may be a few in this countdown. 

The ranking of the Top 40 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom Line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I more than doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into three posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here is part 3, my Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#1 – #10):

#10

Wolf – Ravenous (2009): I completely missed 2006′s BLACK FLAME so I really didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this latest album from Wolf. Needless to say, I was blown away and I immeadiately knew that this was going to be one of the best albums of the year. Wolf has this classic retro Metal sound with major influences from Iron Maiden, Helloween and Judas Priest so I ate this up immeadiately! The songs are all excellent and the twin lead guitars really make this album what it is, especially at the solos. I have been singing along, headbanging and playing air guitar to RAVENOUS since March and it definitely set the bar high to get into this year’s Top 10.

#9

Cheap Trick – The Latest (2009): THE LATEST album from Cheap Trick turned out to be the biggest comeback of the year from a band that never really went away! Cheap Trick has always been one of the most underrated Classic Rock bands coming out of the mid-’70s/early ’80s and I always make the huge mistake about waiting to buy their new records until a few weeks after they are released. This year was no different and I waited until I caught part of their opening performance on Def Leppard’s summer tour before I picked it up. The odds were against the band when they basically started the album off with a Slade cover (‘When The Lights Are Out’) but it turned out to be one of the best songs of the year for me! Cheap Trick has always been a band with excellent musicianship and songwriting skills and THE LATEST is just another example of how great this band is. If I could describe this album in one word: Beautiful. After I gave this album a full listen, I played it again to make sure my ears didn’t deceive me…..I knew immeadiately that this was one of the best records of the year.

#8

Sunstorm – House Of Dreams (2009): The Joe Lynn Turner factor! There is no doubt in my mind that JLT could sing me the menu at a McDonald’s and I would absolutely worship it! This is the best AOR/Melodic Rock album of the year without a shred of doubt…..it’s like it came straight from 1985. Now a lot of people are going to say that the album sounds too retro, too ’80s, too keyboard friendly but that is exactly what it’s supposed to be. Add in some awesome songwriter like Jim Peterik and Desmond Child lending a hand and you’ve got AOR gold, I swear if this record came out 25 years ago then it would have been a Top 10, multi-platinum album. The sound is Joe Lynn Turner meets Survivor meets Journey meets Pride Of Lions…..just plain old feel food melodic music that has great overall songwriting and musicianship (the guitars and keyboards complimenting each other perfectly) to go along with one of the greatest singing voices in all of Rock.

#7

Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009): One of my most highly anticipated albums of 2009, Heaven & Hell (or Black Sabbath if you want) did not disappoint with their first true full-length album since 1992′s DEHUMANIZER. As many of you know, my favorite incarnation of Black Sabbath is the Ronnie James Dio era and it’s safe to say that Black Sabbath as a whole is one of my favorite bands of all-time. When I gave THE DEVIL YOU KNOW it’s inaugural couple of listens I was a little disappointed by the lack of fast and furious Metal songs like previous classic ‘Neon Knights’ and ‘The Mob Rules’ but I kept listening and it turned out that this is one heavy Doom record with a few well-placed fast numbers (‘Double The Pain’, ‘Eating The Cannibals’) to break the heaviness up a bit. Tony Iommi continues to write the best Metal riffs and Dio continues to sing better than vocalists half, even two-thirds, his age! The rhythm section of Geezer Butler and Vinny Appice are still as high-powered and brutal as ever and hearing them in concert proved to be a thunderous experience. Say what you want about this album not being HEAVEN & HELL (1980) or MOB RULES (1981), THE DEVIL YOU KNOW is definitely a great Black Sabbath Heaven & Hell album that can easily sit alongside those classics.

#6

UFO – The Visitor (2009): Another one of my favorite bands…..one of Top 5 in fact! There is now way I could have a Best of 2009 countdown without putting in THE VISITOR because it was easily in the running for my favorite record of the year since I got it. You have to give UFO credit, they have been doing it longer than most of their peers (40 years and counting!) and they consistently put out solid records. Since the band reunited in 1995 with the classic lineup, there have been many lineup changes but the mainstay is founder and singer Phil Mogg who puts in a brilliant performance vocally and as a songwriter…..no one writes or turns a clever phrase quite like Phil. The lineup still isn’t stable with founding bassist Pete Way out again due to health reasons and founding drummer Andy Parker coming back again to replace Jason Bonham when he left for Foreigner. Vinnie Moore proves that hes is more than capable of handling the guitar duties and holding back the Michael Schenker legend while Paul Raymond continues to be an integral part of the UFO sound on keybords, guitars and harmonies. Not a bad song on the album and well worth checking out.

#5

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): I received the promo for INTO THE LABYRINTH in December 2008 and I reviewed it mid-January…..I almost declared this the album of the year right there! Saxon has been one of the most consistent bands from the early days of the NWOBHM movement and, since 1997, have released some great albums that combine pure Power Metal with that classic NWOBHM style. Take the first two songs from the album, ‘Battalions Of Steel’ and ‘Live To Rock’: the first is Traditional/Power Metal and the latter is pure NWOBHM as if it was 1981. What Saxon is doing is what I keep emphasizing throughout this year’s countdown…..they are expanding/enhancing their trademark sound. You have to evolve and Saxon is showing a lot of the younger Metal bands out there just how to do it. Any other year and this would be my favorite album but there was stiff competition this year and a Top 5 showing is not bad at all.

#4

Johnny Lima – Livin’ Out Loud (2009): I had been reading all about Johnny Lima and this album for a couple of months before i actually broke down and ordered it from Johnny’s website. First, let me give Johnny a ton of credit for emailing me within 10 minutes of my order and personally thanking me and then sending the CD out same day including an autograph. Then he emails me a couple days later to make sure the album arrived! Keeping a connection with the fans is what it’s about and Johnny Lima gained an instant fan. And the music is good too! After spinning this once I knew this would be the best Glam/Hard Rock album of the year. If you like Poison, Def Leppard, early Bon Jovi, Dokken, Ratt, Cinderella and Motley Crue then you are definitely going to find a song on LIVIN’ OUT LOUD that could easily fit into any of the bands’ catalog. That’s not to say that the album is a carbon copy of what these big bands have done in the past rather it’s a statement that revisiting and reinterpreting the classic ’80s Hard Rock style is OK. That’s something that these bigger bands are afraid to do! Every song is catchy with a ton of hooks, big harmonies and great guitar…..this is the kind of record that is so infectious that you can’t help but sing along and have a great time. This was a major contender for the top spot for 2009.

#3

Sacred Oath – s/t (2009): Early in the year I started to read more and more about Sacred Oath and their forthcoming new album being an iTunes exclusive…..I don’t download, I buy CDs, so I didn’t pay much attention to the press releases. Then I read that the band was releasing the album on CD on their own label so I emailed the band for the release date. I received a promo copy in late May/early June and was completely blown away! Like I said in the review, if you took Metallica, Iron Maiden, Queensryche, Judas Priest, Armored Saint, Diamond Head and Metal Church and rolled them all into one, you would get Sacred Oath. The band takes influences from all the great bands and blends them together for an American Metal feast that goes from Heavy Metal to Power Metal to Progressive Metal and then the NWOBHM. It’s a huge sound to live up to and the album does just that. Searing riffs, pounding rhythm section and soaring vocals added to great songwriting…..it’s a wonder why the band broke up 20 years ago, I’d bet they would have been huge. Well, they are huge this year because this was my #1 album hands down until the next two in the countdown showed up. This record is still in my weekly playlist, I don’t see it leaving anytime soon, and ‘High And Mighty’ is one of my favorite songs of the year.

#2

Ace Frehley – Anomaly (2009): Ace Frehley has always been my favorite member of KISS and, with KISS being my favorite band, anything a current of former member of KISS does is a big deal. The last time Ace released a solo album was TROUBLE WALKIN’ in 1989…..20 years later ANOMALY has finally arrived! I have followed Ace’s career in and out of KISS since I was a little kid and he has talked about a new record since the early ’90s but nothing has ever come of it. Then there was the KISS reunion that lasted 6+ years and Ace started talking about a new solo record after he left the band in 2002 but nothing was released again. The only time I believed that Ace was releasing anything was when the album cover was released in June…..but would an actual record come out? September 15, 2009…..I was outside Best Buy before the store opened to get my hands on ANOMALY. One listen was all it took to hear that Ace Frehley had made a huge comeback with his solo career, ANOMALY is a well-written Hard Rock album and Ace sounds as focused as ever. Of all the albums he’s released as a solo artist or in Frehley’s Comet, ANOMALY ranks just below his KISS solo album. ‘Foxy & Free’, ‘Outer Space’, ‘Pain In The Neck’ and even the cover of Sweet’s ‘Fox On The Run’ are all solid Hard Rock songs that are catchy and full of that signature Ace guitar tone. The surprises here are the acoutically driven ballads like ‘Change The World’ & ‘A Little Below The Angels’ that show Ace’s diversity. This whole album is top notch from the music, to the album cover Ace designed to the special digipak packaging that tuens into a pyramid. I gave this album a ton of listening time and I still haven’t taken it out of my daily rotation! When I started to make this year end best of list I installed ANOMALY near the top because I enjoyed it so much. The bottom line on this list is that I enjoy the album and, between the excellent songs and my KISS worship, Ace Frehley has gained the #2 spot for 2009.

One album to go everyone! The #1 album is next but before I get to it let me say again how great this year was for Hard Rock and Heavy Metal…..my Best of 2009 list, along with the other websites’ lists, will attest to that. I’ve listened to more new releases this year than any other year that I can remember and this year’s list was a hard one to make, there were so many really good albums that got left out of the countdown so maybe next year I will expand again to a Top 50. Let’s move on though to my pick for the Top Album of 2009…..

#1

KISS – Sonic Boom (2009)

So what album did you all expect? Of course my top album for 2009 is the new KISS record! I’m a KISS diehard after all! Seriously though, of all the 2009 albums I listened to this year, SONIC BOOM was the one I wanted the most, listened to the most, and enjoyed the most. Any year that your favorite band releases a new album is a good year but I had no hopes that KISS would actually follow through with releasing an album of all new material. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have been saying that they weren’t interested in releasing a new album for the last 7 years and I had no reason to doubt their conviction. Who knows why they did now? Maybe Paul Stanley liked working on his solo album a couple years ago? Maybe the Wal-Mart deal was in place ahead of time? Maybe they were just bored? Who cares! The bottom line is that KISS has released an album that is their very best since REVENGE (1992) and it completely blows away the reunion album PSYCHO CIRCUS (1998). I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from SONIC BOOM because most KISS albums are half good songs and half filler. If the band was dead set against releasing a new record, why should they release a quality one? First thing the band did right was give Paul Stanley full control in the studio…..he’s the one that guided the band from 1983 to 1992 and his track record as a producer, performer and songwriter are proof enough. Ever notice that all the singles in the ’80s were Paul’s songs? After Ace Frehley, Paul Stanley is my favorite and I have always told people the he is the talent in KISS. The second thing the band did right was actually write. Paul & Gene actually wrote songs, and performed them, together for the first time in a long time in addition to what they brought in individually. The songs are high quality, catchy and there is an element of true ’70s KISS mixed with the KISS of today. Third thing the band did correctly was to involve Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer in the writing and in the singing to make it a true band effort. Nothing beats a band unit, compare SONIC BOOM and the sham that is PSYCHO CIRCUS and the winner is clear. I bought this album at my local Wal-Mart on October 6 (day of release) and I have played it everyday, many times more than once. I have been a diehard KISS fan since 1978, I’ve lived and died with this band and I am actually proud of them for releasing such a great record. I haven’t felt this good about KISS’ future since REVENGE and the 1996/1997 Reunion Tour…..SONIC BOOM is my favorite album of 2009!

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Please check out The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#11-#25) and The Top 40 Albums of 2009 (#26-#40) for the rest of this year’s countdown.

Wolf – Ravenous (2009)

wolf-ravenous

Wolf – Ravenous (2009, Century Media)

  1. Speed On
  2. Curse You Salem
  3. Voodoo
  4. Hail Caesar
  5. Ravenous
  6. Mr. Twisted
  7. Love At First Bite
  8. Secrets We Keep
  9. Whisky Psycho Hellions
  10. Hiding In Shadows
  11. Blood Angel

wolf 2009

Band Lineup:
Niklas Stålvind - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Johannes Axeman – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Anders Modd – Bass
Richard Holmgren – Drums

Producer: Roy Z

Country: Sweden

Total Time = 47:51

Wolf
Wolf MySpace page
Century Media Records

Wolf has been around for close to 15 years and releasing albums since 1999. Their style is unashamedly old school showing devotion to the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween, Ozzy and pretty much anything fitting the classic ’80s Metal sound. It’s no surprise that the band’s latest album, RAVENOUS, follows the same successful formula and seems like it came out of time warp and landed in 2009.

Opening track ‘Speed On’ starts off with a speedy opening guitar that sounds like something from Maiden or Helloween and absolutely competes with today’s Power Metal peers like Hammerfall and Primal Fear. The key is the power of the twin guitars, right away you can hear all the Maidenisms between Niklas Stålvind and Johannes Axeman that remind of the classic Maiden duo of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith. Same thing goes for ‘Curse You Salem’, you listen to that guitar attack and it sounds just like Iron Maiden, if you switched in Bruce Dickinson at the mic, you would swear it was a long lost ’80s track from the NWOBHM pioneers. That doesn’t mean that the music is completely copycat or ripped off, the band is largely influenced from the classic metal period of the ’80s and they bring that forward in their playing. I find it refreshing actually…..there isn’t any growling or unintelligible singing and the drums don’t sound like a bunch of tin cans being tapped repeatedly, it sounds like good solid Metal. ‘Voodoo’ starts off with a simple riff and vocal intro that kicks into an evil groove that almost sounds like early L.A. Hard Rock like Motley Crue or W.A.S.P. but with a little more edge. The dual guitar melodies are there again and the trade-off solos are really great. This is definitely one of my favorites from the album.

More speedy Classic Metal/Power Metal comes with ‘Hail Caesar’, a song that has enough riffs to satisfy but the repetitive chorus is distracting, and ‘Ravenous’, that sounds like something out of the Hammerfall playbook with it’s big gang choruses and crashing drums. The middle solo in ‘Ravenous’ reminds me again of both Maiden and Priest guitar duos and it’s right at this moment that I think I’ve figured out that Niklas Stålvind’s vocals sound like a combination of Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Harnell (TNT) and Joacim Cans (Hammerfall)…..a weird combination but he does have that high vocal going. Another couple of favorites off the album are ‘Mr. Twisted’ and ‘Love At First Bite’. ‘Mr. Twisted’ has that Helloween influence to it but in more of a dark way kind of like the songs on Helloween’s 2000 album THE DARK RIDE while ‘Love At First Bite’ sounds like something Accept would have released back in the early days. Both songs have that European/German Metal influence and they sound full and powerful with big guitars. If there was a song on the album that I didn’t really get into it would be ‘Secrets We Keep’ because it pretty much sounds like the rest of the album and there really isn’t anything that really stands out for me except maybe the harmonized guitars for the solo.

‘Whisky Psycho Hellions’ brings back that dangerous/evil sound to the music as the song creeps along at a good pace and the vocals really add to the mood. The classic sounding guitars kick in for the chorus and solo giving it that dated ’80s feel but the drawback is the chorus itself with the shouting gang vocals that make it all sound distorted. I like the Doom laden opening to ‘Hiding In Shadows’ that kicks into a monster galloping riff that makes the song a driving force. It’s almost like a raw but powerful combination of classic ’80s L.A. Metal from the early Metal Blade roster mixed with Judas Priest. ‘Blood Angel’ opens with a subdued guitar intro that reminds me of an Ozzy ballad but the guitar quickly moves into the main riff that sounds more Hard Rock than Metal. The song has groove and bounces along with it’s simple riff and drum pattern while Stålvind lays down more of a Hard Rock vocal…..it all sounds like Accept or revved up Crue, maybe Ratt on steroids.

Bottom Line:
I got into Wolf late, somewhere around 2004 when they released EVIL STAR, but they have become one of those bands that I think are one of the most underrated in Metal. The band has a style that some say is dated but, in this current world of Metal, it’s actually refreshing. Classic Metal is what built all the other subgenres we have today and Wolf takes that influence and creates balls to the wall Metal. The Iron Maiden and Judas Priest influence is there in spades because of the dual guitars and the song structure but it’s hard to fault the band for following such a successful formula. RAVENOUS was released back in mid-February and it hasn’t left the regular rotation on my stereo or iPod. If you’re a fan of early ’80s Metal, Maiden, Priest, Helloween or Accept then RAVENOUS is definitely worth checking out. I own 4 out of 5 Wolf albums (missing 2006′s THE BLACK FLAME) and none have disappointed me yet.

Favorite Songs:
‘Speed On’, ‘Voodoo’, ‘Mr. Twisted’, ‘Love At First Bite’, ‘Hiding In Shadows’, ‘Blood Angel’

Current Playlist

I haven’t been posting but I have been listening…..here’s what’s been assaulting my ears the last couple of days…..

Primal Fear – 16.6 (Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead) (2009): I picked this up in the last couple of weeks but I didn’t get around to listening to it until this past weekend. There is some classic Primal Fear on 16.6 but there is also some more melodic songs like on the band’s last album, NEW RELIGION (2007). I definitely need some more spins with this.

Wolf – Ravenous (2009): This CD hasn’t left the stereo yet and it’s getting a daily spin or two. One of the best albums of the year.

Def Leppard – On Through The Night (1980): Great debut from a band that rocked big time when they were hungry for success…..and the Leps haven’t been hungry in a long time! The concert is Tuesday night so I’m reliving some old glories!

Def Leppard – High ‘N Dry (1981): I had this record BEFORE the reissue in 1984 when PYROMANIA was hitting the top of the charts. To this day, one of my favorite Def Lep songs is ‘Let It Go’ and I’m hoping to hear live again, last time was back in 2006.

Poison – Greatest Hits (1996): I like a taste of Poison now and then but not enough to get me to listen a lot. I already know the setlist the band is playing on tour…..all the predictable hits that are on this compilation. If I could have one song off this album it would be ‘So Tell Me Why’ from the studio tracks on SWALLOW THIS LIVE (1991).

Judas Priest – British Steel (1980): The show with Whitesnake is next week so I figured I’d give this a spin seeing they are playing the whole thing live. Looking forward to hearing the band tear up ‘Rapid Fire’ and ‘Grinder’.

Current Playlist

Now that I’ve seen the Anvil movie and read the book, I feel rejuvenated! Nothing like seeing/hearing an inspirational story about Heavy Metal to get you out of a rut and back on track. There have also been some really good albums that I’ve rediscovered by adding them into my iPod so it’s been all about the music and getting myself into a Metal frame of mind. Here’s what I’ve been spinning…..

Anvil – Anthology (1999): I have a lot of holes in my Anvil collection but I’m taking care of that as we speak. This anthology cane out on Metal Blade Records back in ’99 and has 18 songs that come from everything from the debut HARD ‘N HEAVY (1981) to SPEED OF SOUND (1998). It’s a nice overview of Anvil’s career to that point.

Anvil – This Is Thirteen (2007): Watch the new Anvil movie and you’ll get an inside look at the recording of this album. I never really took this album out of my playing rotation for the last year and a half…..if the CD is sitting next to the stereo then it’s in the “Now Playing” pile. When I actually file it away in the cases, then it’s out of normal rotation. What a great album, a serious comeback from a band that’s never really gone away.

Wolf – Ravenous (2009): I really wasn’t expecting much from Wolf but that just goes to show you that I’m an idiot! I never picked up 2006′s THE BLACK FLAME even though 2004′s EVIL STAR was an awesome record. I ended up grabbing this CD a week after it came out as an afterthought because it was still on sale. This is probably going to be in my list of top albums of 2009! Review coming soon…..

MSG – Gipsy Lady: The Schenker Barden Acoustic Project (2009): Always a big fan of MSG and Michael’s solo work, especially his acoustic THANK YOU series which are some of the best work he’s ever released. Now that the Schenker/Barden team is here for a while, they are exploring the acoustic realm together. It’s a little different with vocals but they are a solid team. Review this week…..

UFO – The Visitor (2009): One of my favorite releases of 2009 and June 2009′s album of the month. Review this week…..

Aerosmith – Nine Lives (1998): Everyone remembers this album as the one with ‘Pink’ on it but I picked this up over a decade ago the day it came out. It had been 4 years since GET A GRIP (1993) and I bought the album just because it was a new Aerosmith record. Every song on the album is great and I remember thinking that this was going to be the Aerosmith album that would closely resemble the ’70s but not be as commercially successful. They had a few singles but when ‘Pink’ hit the radio then NINE LIVES skyrocketed! I skip ‘Pink’ when I play the CD. Two quick details: I have the original pressing with the original cover art and I saw the tour on New Year’s Eve that year…..what a party!

KISS – Crazy Nights (1987): I know this album by heart and KISS is my favorite band but I wouldn’t have listened to it 10 times in the last week if my daughter wasn’t playing it constantly!

Rhapsody – Legendary Tales (1997): I got into Rhapsody (now Rhaposdy Of Fire) back in 1998 and I heard a newer song on an internet radio show last week so I figured I would give the band a fresh listen from the beginning and start to search out some of the holes in my Rhapsody collection.

The Gathering – Mandylion (1995): With the band’s new album (THE WEST POLE) coming out Tuesday, I figured I would revisit the album that got me into the band. If I buy the new album it will be the first Gathering record I’ve picked up since 2000′s IF THEN ELSE.

CD Scavenger Hunt – updated purchases

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

Ebay

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

NEH Records

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

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

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

CD Baby

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

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

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

 

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

Newbury Comics

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

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

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

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