Thursday, August 31, 2006

The first day?

Okay, I broke down and pre-ordered the new Iron Maiden. I transferred jobs earlier this year to be closer to home, but I am further away from the record store which means less visits. I used to go there after work maybe once every two weeks. Now I get there maybe once every two months. As I did my pre-order, I thought back to the late 80's and early 90's when I used to go the record store the day an album came out. Now I don't do that very much at all. The last album I bought the day it came out was Iron Maiden's Dance of death. So that was almost three years ago. Do you buy albums the day they come out or just when you happen to get to the store? Or do you pre-order more albums now?

Hanoi Rocks-Back to mystery city, 1983

Oftentimes this band gets labeled as "glam" and that is correct as far as they had a glam look. The problem is that we tend to think that glam means 80's glam as in Poison and Motley Crue. Hanoi Rocks started before either of those bands, but they have a definite early 70's glam sound. Which means they have somewhat like the New York Dolls, Sweet, Alice Cooper and a few others. That's not all of their sound though because there is definitely an early punk rock sound to some of Hanoi Rocks' music as well. They are not completely removed from bands like the Damned and the Clash as guitarist Andy McCoy and bassist SamYaffa both played in punk bands in the late 1970's. So we have a band that combined 70's glam with early punk rock and to top it lead singer Michael Monroe also played the saxophone and so that gets thrown in the mix as well. "Back to mystery city" might be one of the band's least accessible albums, but it's also quite possibly their best. I think that the band sounds very excited throughout this entire album. Yes, the opening "Strange boys play weird openings" is, uh ..weird, but they told you that it would be. Once "Malibu beach nightmare"kicks in then the real ride begins. Hanoi Rocks excelled at making offbeat rhythms sound good. It's like they mix chaotic styles with occasional pop melodies and yet somehow it works. Even the ballad "Until I get you" is different from most ballads with Monroe sounding more frantic then sappy. They are probably not for everybody has I have met people who love commercial hard rock, but hate Hanoi Rocks because they are expecting these guys to be smooth hard rock and they are not. Guns and Roses, Faster Pussycat and other bands claim to have been influenced by Hanoi Rocks. Truthfully, I loved these guys back around 89-92, but had gotten away from them over the years. I got this one used on CD earlier this year and it's just as good as I remember it being. Now I need to get some of the others on CD as well.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

CD Questions

Here are some questions about your CD collection.

1)Do you have your CD collection organized alphabetically, by musical genre or some other method? Or are they not organized at all?

2)If it's alphabetically then what artist is at the beginning and which artist is at the end?

3)If you get a crack on the CD case then do you replace or do you just live with it?

4)Okay, you may have to get up for this one. Go to your CD collection, close your eyes and grab one. What is it?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Heavy Metal Memory: The demotape

Remember back when bands actually did demotapes as in on actual cassettes? If you do then you may be dating yourself. For a long time that's how bands shopped their music around and got their name out while they were trying to get signed. Now bands uses their sites or My Space or things like that to spread their name. I guess some bands might have the tracks for you to download and they can get cd's made for a cheap cost if they just have a few songs to shop around. Anyway I was never a collector of demotapes, but I bought a few here and there between say 1988 and 1992. A lot of magazines like Rip and others would plug a band and list where you could send to get their demo tape and how much it cost. I was cheap so I never paid more than four dollars for a demo tape. I heard several demos from a commercial hard rock band called Defcon from Chicago. I was sure they would get signed because they had the sound that was big at the time. They never got signed then and they broke up. However Retrospect records signed them recently and stuck all of their demos on one cd. I heard another demo from a band that I thought would be good because they had gotten a lot of hype. However I thought their demo was a mess of styles with no real direction. The band was Biohazard and of course you know that they did indeed get signed, but they didn't get a whole lot better at least not to my ears. Then there was another band who claimed to be influenced by Rush and Voivod. The band was Thought Industry and I thought their demo showed promise, but it was a little off the wall and the production was fuzzy. They got signed about three years later to Metal Blade. Their music was still off the wall, strange progressive metal, but they were tighter once they had been signed. Demos were a great way to get your music heard and I shared demos I liked with my friends so they could hear them to. I didn't follow that whole Metallica/Napster mess several years ago. Yet my first thoughts were back to when Metallica were one of the first bands to really benefit from tape trading as their No sleep till leather demo got re-recorded and passed around the country and to other countries by fans. So the band benefited greatly from this process and to me Napster operated on similar lines which it made it seem strange to me that Ulrich was upset over it. I will leave you with a humorous demo story. I saw Corrosion of conformity play in a tiny club in 1992. They had two local bands opening for them and the first band was good. The second band was called Gridlock and they were horrible. It was like they took the worst of generic speed metal and New York hardcore and combined them into a truly awful mess. They even did a rap song during their set and it was as bad as you could imagine it would be as the singer even put on a Panama Jack hat just for the song. Anyway at the end of their set they were tossing demotapes to the audience. They threw one to where me and my friends were and all of us just stepped aside and let it land on the floor because none of us wanted it. It just got stomped on as people moved through to get to the bathrooms before Corrosion's set. Not all demos were good, but it was a great tool for spreading your sound around.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The beginning of a story

I decided to attempt to write a short story about a metal band just for my own and because I have actually had the idea for a few years. I may post parts of it here and there if a decided to keep with it. It might end up playing like a bad heavy metal soap opera. My hope is that it plays out more as a story about living in a small area and being into music and also about the difference between music as an interest and music as a business. Keep in mind this is rough and my descriptions tend to dry as dirt some times. Anyway here is the very opening of they story, the bulk of the story will be taking place about ten years after this part. So let me know what you think and please be honest because I want it to be decent.

"Little Pond"

I have always felt that inspiration isn’t something that you look for, but rather something that finds you. Real inspiration shouldn’t only find you, but it should overcome and possess you. That’s what happened one Saturday morning when I was 10 and we were at the record store. My mom was looking for a John Denver album or something to send to my cousin for her birthday and while she was looking I turned my head to look around and was drawn to this album cover. I am not sure if it was the colors or the picture, but it pulled me to it. I was used to seeing album covers of people just standing there, covers that looked just like photographs in scrapbooks, kind of boring I guess. This album cover wasn’t boring, there was something very vibrant about it. It was Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the holy and grabbed the album and I didn’t just look at it, I studied it. Of course I couldn’t study it for long because mom would have a fit if she saw me looking at it. I knew then that I wanted to hear this album, but my parents weren’t about to buy it for me though. They weren’t too big on rock music. It wasn’t any moral reason, it was more that they thought music was just entertainment and not a very important form of entertainment so they certainly weren’t going to be shelling out their money for some record just because I liked the cover. So I left the store that day without saying anything about the album, but I tucked away the name and the image of the album in my mind for a later date. The cover was like a bait and I was caught because I wanted to know what that album sounded like and somehow I had to find a way to hear it.

Here, borrow my time machine

Okay you get to go back to the 1980's to see any one concert that you want to. What is it?

I will choose the 1988 Monsters of rock at Donington. The line-up was this:
Guns ands Roses
David Lee Roth
Iron Maiden

Miss Crazy, 2005

Pretend you have been handed a promo picture of a new band. There are four guys and one girl in the band and only one of the guys has long hair. All five members are dressed in black, they are also all wearing white mime make-up on their faces plus they have their eyebrows outlined in black and they are wearing black lipstick. What would you think this band would sound like? Maybe some gothic kind of stuff or something like that would be my guess. San Francisco's Miss Crazy actually sound a lot like early Cinderella as singer sounds quite a bit like Tom Keifer. They also have some 80's AC/DC and some early Def Leppard tossed in there as well."No compromise" kicks off the album in great form with a bit of dark edge and some tough vocals thrown in. I wish the whole could have been as good as the opener and when you get a good opener it raises the expectations a bit. The album is good, but it's been a bit of a grower on me. I went back and forth on this one because I think it's good, but there are times when I felt that they should and could be better. The singer is very good, the band is way better than average and the production is extremely tight. My biggest problem is there are number of songs that are just decent, but not all that memorable. Tracks like "Scream" and "Shut eyes" hint at the band's potential to go beyond their influences and put their own ideas in as well. The ballad "You're blue" at first reminded me of Cinderella's "Nobody's fool" but after a few listens I could hear a moodiness that was present and the ability to squeeze a lot out of some simple notes. It sparks like these that make me think that this might have the potential to move beyond being just an 80's retro band and do more. After I began writing this review on Sunday morning, I checked around and found that the band has been playing shows in California over the summer. They have also changed their make-up a little and they look a little more relaxed and a little less grim. The band apparently did not play any shows before releasing this album, but all of the members are musicians who had played around in other projects. They have also had some line-up changes as both guitarists who played on the album are gone. They have a new lead guitarist and the singer has taken on playing rhythm guitar. I hope they keep working with what they have started and expand on what they may be capable of doing. Here is their Myspace page if you want to check them out. I was having trouble getting all the images to come up, but I have been having computer problems all day.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Ten things I think (or thought) about metal in 1986

1)I think that 5150 is not really a Van Halen album no matter what the album cover says.
2)I think that Ratt's stock was sinking because they were not taking chances even though they were still doing good albums.
3)Back then I thought that Metallica would put out many more albums just as good as Master of Puppets (I was wrong).
4)I think that Judas Priest's Turbo was a complete misfire despite being a commercial success.
5)I think that Ozzy Osbourne and permed hair didn't mix.
6)I think that King Diamond and his band never got their due as musicians due to the satanic image that he was associated with.
7)I think that Alice Cooper going metal was a good thing for him, fans and the metal scene.
8)I think that Slayer didn't fully understand the impact that Reign in blood would have on the metal scene.
9)I think that Iron Maiden's Somewhere in time was a bit of a gamble, but it paid off.
10)I think that a lot of people must have been tone deaf to have bought that Stryper album or perhaps the yellow and black outfits hypnotized people into buying the album.

What's coming up?

This week I hope to have the following.

Hanoi Rocks-Back to Mystery City

Another set of easy questions
Something about the end of Summer

A heavy metal memory

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Bands that only I seem to like

It may sound strange, but are there any bands that you like a lot, but no one that you know is real into them? Maybe you have played them for others thinking they would like the band as much as you, but they didn't. Ultimately you may wonder why you get this band and others don't. I have a few bands that I feel that way about.

Lizzy Borden-I like these guys a lot except for their Visual lies album. Yet nobody seemed to think they were better than just being okay. I always felt they were a good mix between LA hard rock and more standard metal.

Hanoi Rocks-They were big in Japan, the UK and I like them, but that might be it. They are very different and I liked them the moment I heard them, but most people I played them for were not as thrilled as I was about them.

Dark Angel-I always these guys were just a little shy of being the level of Slayer. Yet most other people around me may have like d them, but didn't think they were all that special.

Armored Saint-I am beginning to see now that more people like them than what I thought. However, when I was in high school and college I raved about them and played them all the time, but it just seemed to be me.

So how about you?


Yesterday I mentioned my movie idea. I may consider writing it as a short story just to see if I can do it. Perhaps if it's okay then I may post some of it here, but I'll see if I can come up with something although it may be down the road.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Make a movie

Let's say you get to write and direct a movie that has to have something to do with rock music. Doesn't have to be metal, but it does have to be rock related. It can be fictional, it can be a documentary, it could be a biography of a musician or band or whatever kind of film you want to make. So what would it be about?

My idea is probably one that only I would want to see. I would make a film about a hard rock band in a small city in the midwest around 1983-84. They get to where they are as big as they can be where they are at and realize if they want to get a record deal then they will have to move. So they contemplate leaving where they grew up and their families to go to LA and take a stab at trying to make it there. It would be serious, but have comedy mixed in. It would probably be called "Little Pond" since "Big Fish" has already been taken.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What are the chances?

I have tried to avoid talking about Axl Rose for most of the summer, but I am still wondering about the "album". Axl and his band have toured Europe and even though there have been several "incidents", they pretty much made it through alright. He says there will be more tour dates in the U.S. coming soon. Yet there is still no release date set for Chinese Democracy. So are the chances of this album being released any better know than they were earlier in the year? Or do you think he just did a tour to keep his name in the news and has no intention of ever releasing an album?

Venom-Black Metal, 1982

I normally don't commit to reviewing too many albums without having a good idea what I thought of it beforehand. However, I had not listened to this album in years and wanted to review it. Venom were about my favorite band around 87-88 and I listened to them almost daily. I only have Black Metal on vinyl so I gave it a listen. I am stubborn at times and hate to admit when I am wrong, but Venom just have not aged too well. The playing is sloppy at times and the songs seem to go on longer than they really are due to the fact that there is not always enough going on. I think this is due to lack of talent as a song like "Buried Alive" starts out strong with a very basic, but solid heavy churning but it goes on too long revealing the cracks in the band's playing abilities. I really don't think these guys knew a whole lot about playing their instruments for several albums and by the time they learned to play their music was old. However, there are moments when the music hits with speed and heaviness that were not being done by anyone else at the time except maybe Motorhead and Raven. I think Venom's heavy distortion added an element of heaviness that only they had at this point. I also still like Cronos' vocals overall. Not a lot of range, but a lot of confidence and he doesn't hold back at all. The title track, Countess Bathory and Don't burn the witch still hold pretty well because they keep it simple enough and just go straight ahead. A lot of the other tracks just didn't hold up well enough or not as well as I had hoped. They have some real energy at times, but it's not enough to sustain every track. Venom were an early influence on bands like Metallica, Slayer, Hellhammer (Celtic Frost) and Bathory. Yet bands like Slayer and Metallica quickly passed these guys up because they had the ability and the desire to progress. Venom came out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) and I think they have earned a spot as a major influence at one point. They may have been as important of an influence as say Saxon or Raven, but I don't think that their albums have aged as well as either of those bands. Hard to admit all of that, but it's true. Venom were one of two bands that I loved at one point, but have not heard in years. So I wanted to check and see if they still held up and if I still liked them as much. I didn't but next week I will take a listen to the other band I wanted to check on. That band is Hanoi Rocks who are way on the other end of the musical spectrum from Venom. So next week I will see how they hold up some 15 years after I was really big on them.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Battle of the bands

It's simple, it's fun and it's going on now. It's battle of the bands. I list two bands and you say which you prefer and why. So today it's:

Pantera vs. Slayer

I'll go with Slayer here. I give Pantera credit for being proud to be a metal band in the face of grunge. They also helped keep metal alive in the mainstream during the dark period known as the 1990's. Yet I think they were a little overrated and a bit too basic for me at times. Slayer were really good from 83-88 and hot and cold after that. Yet metal just wouldn't have been the same without them.

Who do you like?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Current playlist

Lately I have been listening to:

The Sword-Age of winters
Judas Priest-Screaming for vengeance and British Steel
Motorhead-Another perfect day, Orgasmatron and Rock and roll
Vyper-Prepared to strike
King Kobra-Ready to strike
Gamma Ray-Majestic

What are you listening to?

Since it is almost the end of the summer, is there one album that you have been listening to more than any other during the summer?

For me it's probably been the Sword's Age of winters, Accept's Metal Heart and Iron Maiden's The number of the beast.

It came from the pages of Hit Parader

This month I dug into the May, 1985 issue of Hit Parader magazine.There is an ad for something called the "Giant evil hand". I am not sure if it is foam or rubber, but it gives the devil horn salute. It also kind of looks like a monster hand as it has pointed fingernails and wrinkly skin. I guess the concept of the hand is just like those foam hands you used to buy at sporting events to show that your team is number one. Only with this I guess that you are saying "My band is number 666!". The ad also says that hands are fluorescent so they can be seen at concerts. Would the person that wore this to a Dio or Iron Maiden concert also have one of those beer hats on only it would have a big pentagram on the helmet part? What would security think of these foam hands? They may let you bring them in for some reason, but I don't know. Or you may be standing there with your foam hand up in the air and the lead singer of the band tells people to hold their lighters up in the air (back in the days when this could be done) and poof your foam hand goes up in smoke as someone gets their lighter too close. Although a big plus is you could cover the hand with duck tape with the sticky side facing out then you would have a handy dandy guitar pick-catcher as the devil hand would allow you to reach up a little further than those without foam hands. Although you may not want to get tape near someone's big hair. I guess this idea did not catch on because I never saw a giant evil hand at a concert. Also this was the only time I ever saw this ad. I wonder why? Oh, well sometimes ads as good as the articles in magazines.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Alice Cooper-Billion Dollar Babies, 1973

Normal people might write songs about cars, women, drinking and such. On this album Alice, Michael Bruce and a few other contributors wrote about tooth decay, loving the dead and all kinds of deviants. Yet somehow it's funny rather than disturbing. I think that's where the genius of this band really comes into play. I like Alice, but the real prime of his career was those five albums from "Love it to death" through "Muscle of love". The original band could play some crazy, raw arrangements and it worked somehow. Then they would pick crazy topics to write about and go with it whether it made sense or not. Sometimes you go "what were they thinking when they wrote this?". Yet you are smiling when you ask this because they are entertaining. The music world had plenty of good, normal bands so they needed an Alice Cooper to kind of balance things out a little. Another good thing about this line-up is the number of different sounds they have on their songs. This album is a good example of that as they really mix up the styles of music. Something like "No more Mr. Nice Guy" is a bit more straight forward in it's approach. Then you have songs like "Hello Hooray" and "Unfinished Sweet" that are bit more unconventional in their approach. This is a strong album and generally it flows very well. Despite their differences, all of the songs work on various levels. I think the band really playing with confidence by this point and it showed. One thing I was glad for was that the band never became too polished between 1971 and 1974. They became stronger with what they were doing, but they managed to maintain that off the wall sound that was a big part of their appeal. The music world would have been a very dull place without Alice Cooper and albums like this one. My favorite songs here are the title track, No more Mr. Nice guy, Elected, Generation Landslide and Sick Things. Oh and you have to love the album cover.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

What's coming up?

Well, my salute to the 80's is over, but I am already contemplating doing a 70's week early next year. It would include reviews of 70's hard rock artists plus maybe something on movies, TV and Saturday morning cartoons.

This week I hope to have these topics out.

Alice Cooper-Billion Dollar Babies
Venom-Black Metal

-Battle of the bands
-It came from the pages of Hit Parader (I actually know I will be writing about ahead of time for once)
-something about bands that only I seem to like

***Here is a question for you. Twisted Sister did an album called "Still Hungry" not that long ago and it was them re-recording the entire "Stay Hungry" album. I have not heard it so I can't comment on it, but other bands have done this at least for a few songs. My question has to do with the basic concept of re-recording your own material years later. Do you think that this is worth doing or is it pointless and bands are just doing it because they want to record, but they don't want to write anything new? Or does it depend on who the band is as to whether it's worthwhile or not?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Double dose of Van Halen

To me Van Halen means that band with David Lee Roth. No disrespect to Sammy Hagar or Gerry Cherone, but to me the Van Halen that did those six albums between 1978 and 1984 died when Roth left in 1985. The albums done after that by the band calling themselves Van Halen had a different sound and a completely different feel to them. Here are reviews of my two favorite Van Halen albums.

Fair Warning, 1981
In an interview done in late 1984 Eddie called this his least favorite album. I like Eddie, but I just don't agree and I think it's their best album. Overall it's perhaps a bit darker and moodier than there other albums. One thing I love about all of the six albums with Dave is the band's ability to really control a song. By that I mean they control the pace and it seems very natural when they throw in odd pace changes or Dave starts doing some talking in the middle of the song. Not a lot bands attempt this and not many can pull it off, but I think this band had this natural flow to their music. Fair Warning kicks off with "Mean Street" which has some nice thick riffs and immediately lets you know that this not going to be all the typical Van Halen party music. "Dirty Movies" comes up next and it's a really interesting song. "Sinners Swing" is fast for Van Halen and they handle it very well. Then "Hear it about it later" is slightly more typical for them, but Dave really stands out here with his vocals. Eddie plays a simple, but highly effective riff as "Unchained" comes storming on. "Push comes to shove" is probably the song that has grown on me the most over the years. Next up "So this is love?" which is also a little more typical, but a very strong song. The instrumental "Sunday afternoon in the park" is next and it's very odd, but somehow intriguing. It leads into "One foot out the door" which is fast and plows along. No slackers at all on this album and of course it's very brief as all of the early Van Halen albums were. This became my favorite album after I heard it just a few times and it still gets a lot of spins.

Probably everyone else's favorite Van Halen album, but my second favorite. Diver Down was good, but a slight letdown with the number of cover songs and instrumentals. It felt more like an album of leftovers and outtakes. Yet this album managed to not only bring back the old Van Halen spirit, but to leave most other hard rock bands in their dust. More keyboards than before with "Jump" and "I'll Wait", but it's done right as the keys blend in rather than taking over. The other two singles "Panama" and "Hot for Teacher" both roar on in different styles, but both are equally memorable. It seems like the last two tacks "Girl gone bad" and "House of pain" get overlooked. They shouldn't because both are solid are fairly heavy. Both are a little raw for these guys which is part of the appeal. "Top Jimmy" has a bit of the typical fun feel this band perfected, but it's still fresh. "Drop dead legs" and "Panama" are probably my favorites here. "Drop dead legs" is a prime example of Van Halen controlling the song. It's medium-slow in tempo and catchy yet far from typical. This album is still just so good and these guys seemed so tight and they seemed to be having fun. Unfortunately what often happens is a band can't have two superegos in one band so one has to leave and one did. Still if it had to end then this was a high note to end on.

God, I still love Van Halen with Dave and it's still hard to believe it had to end. I still keep hoping that a live DVD from the 1984 tour will come put, but I am not holding my breath.

So ends the "Eight days of the 80's". I hope you have enjoyed it. In September my theme week will be "Rock movies week" and that will likely be in the second or third week of September.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Top movies of the 1980's

I think movies have generally been good in almost every decade. It's just been a matter of what type of films are big during that decade. The 80's saw more big budget action films and big budget science fiction films although there were still plenty of bottom of the barrel budget films as well. Comedies were fairly broad, but there was definitely an increase in the number of comedies both with and for teenagers. Horror movies had been big before, but there were some bigger budget horror movies coming out, but lots of small budget ones as well. The "slasher" film also became more predominant during the decade. They were around in the 70's, but really emerged in the 1980's although they would be dying down some before the decade was over.
The type of movies I like don't tend to win many awards unless it's like for special effects or something like that. I tend to like comedy, horror, sci-fi, fantasy and action so those are the ones I made lists for.
I didn't feel that I could make one list because it just didn't seem fair to have comedies and action movies competing against each other. So I have a top five comedy films and top five horror. I decided to take action, adventure, science fiction and fantasy throw them in one category because some of the films overlap as a film like "Raiders of the lost ark" is essentially an action film, but it has some science fiction elements in it's conclusion. "Aliens" has more action than most straight action movies, yet it's mainly a sci-fi movie. So this category will be labeled action film and be a top ten. I hope that's not too confusing, but that's what worked best for me.

5)Fast Times at Ridgemont high- A teen comedy that was actually funny and had at least somewhat likeable characters.
4)National Lampoon's Vacation-Back when Chevy Chase was actually funny. I watch this at least once every summer and it's still solid.
3)UHF -Bombed at the theater, but it's hilarious. Just good, stupid humor with Weird Al leading the way. I have seen this one at least 25 times.
2)Caddyshack - A few week points, but the four big names here make the film. Ted Knight and Rodney Dangerfield are hilarious.
1)Airplane-Completely crazy, fast paced spoof of disaster flicks. Always makes me laugh.

5)Tie-American werewolf in London and Fright Night
American werewolf puts in some comedy, but it works. the special effects and the settings are the big plus here.
Fright Night-Slightly dated, but a good cast make this modern day (1985) vampire film stand out.
4)The Howling-A werewolf film that was finally done right. A solid cast and a great atmosphere help this film.
3)The Thing-A remake that's not all that much like the original (which is also very good). It has more horror elements in it and really plays up the paranoia angle.
2)Nightmare on Elm Street-Most of the other films in this series struggled, but this film worked. Some real scares and they play up the legend of Freddy more than Freddy himself.
1)Evil Dead 2-Yes, it's a horror comedy and it's horrific and funny at the same time which is not easy to do. This to me is the point where Bruce Campbell moved up to being the great B star that he has become. Demons, an ancient evil book, a psycho dead girlfriend and possessed hand make this a great one.

10)Conan the barbarian-Had to include one fantasy film and this edges out Clash of the titans and Beastmaster.
9)Escape from New York-Okay, the effects are way dates by now yet the steady action makes it hold up pretty well.
8)Rocky 3- Forget those Rambo movies, I wanted to see Stallone go against Mr. T.
7)The Empire Strikes back- Probably my favorite Star Wars film. The plot and the settings make it worthwhile.
6)Star Trek 2 -I am a big Star Trek fan, but the movies were hit or miss. This one hit with some great spaceship fights and lots of explosions.
5)Batman-We knew Nicholson would be good, Michael Keaton was surprisingly good particularly while under the mask. Great sets as well.
4)Predator-Schwarzenegger in one of his best films. Lots of action , great pace and one the best final confrontations of any action film.
3)Die Hard-Bruce Willis played a bit of an everyman as copy taking on terrorists in a building. Simple concept that plays out in spectacular form. Alan Rickman was very good as well.
2)Aliens-Some of the battles with the aliens are just crazy with some amazing sound effects, sets and lighting. Weaver is fantastic as the sour hero trying to last against the aliens. It's a shame the last segments of the series struggled.
1)Raiders of the lost ark-Yes, the special effects at the end are sketchy after 25 years, but so what? Harrison Ford is great, the stunts are unreal at times, the settings still look great and the plot works. I think this film changed the face of action films and heroes for some time to come.

Best film that didn't fit into any of the above categories
Back to the future-Sort of a sci-fi comedy, but not a true comedy and not enough action to be a true action film. Still a great film and it still holds up well.

So what movies did you like from the 1980's?

***On Saturday the "Eight day of the 80's" will conclude with a double dose of Van Halen as I review both Fair Warning and 1984.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Hard rock and metal in 1984

Hard rock and heavy metal were huge in the 80's and I believe the best year of the decade for this music was 1984. Why was this the best year? Was it because all of the planets were aligned in a certain way? maybe not, but so much happened during the year as there were so many good releases, so many good debuts came out and the metal scene looked very promising that year. The New Wave of British heavy metal was dying down, but the LA scene was heating up, a new kind of metal called speed metal was also gearing up with bands emerging from different countries and more major labels were noticing the possibilities of metal and more bands were signed. So who had debut lp's in 1984? How about these bands-Ratt, Queensryche, WASP, Black -n- Blue, Keel, Trouble, Fates Warning, Pretty Maids, Saint Vitus, Anthrax, Grave Digger, Metal Church, Helstar, Celtic Frost, Running Wild, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, Kick Axe, Armored Saint, Voivod and Grim Reaper. A pretty impressive list I would say and I am sure that I forgot someone. Outside of some good debuts, what else happened that year? There were also releases from Van Halen, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Scorpions, Metallica, Whitesnake, Dio, Mercyful Fate, Dokken, Twisted Sister and Accept. That's a good a list of bands to all have releases in the same year, but what may be more impressive is that the albums these bands released in 1984 are all either my favorite or second favorite albums released in those band's respective careers. Not to mention that several of the bands I listed as having debuts also fall in this last category for me as well. So it that it for 1984? Well, there was also the album that I consider to be the best hard rock/metal reunion album of all time and that is Deep Purple's Perfect Strangers. Motorhead also released a double best of called No Remorse and it also featured a few new tracks done by their brand new tow guitarist line-up. So is that it then? Well, how about very good to great ep's from Slayer, Lizzy Borden, Destruction, Sodom and one from AC/DC called '74 Jailbreak that featured five songs with Bon Scott singing and it the songs had only previously been released on Australian albums. Anything else? Well, let's see Saxon released Crusader which was their last really good album for some time. Raven released a live album called Live at the Inferno which is a great live album and Raven's last really good effort for some time. Lita Ford released Dancin' on the edge which I consider to be her last good album. If I can consider Rush as hard rock then Grace under pressure was a really good album and it would be the band's last really good album until Counterparts in 1993.
So is that it then? Well, then that might be most of it and I think that's more than enough to show how great of a year that 1984 was for hard rock and metal.

***On Friday "Eight days of the 80's" continues with my favorite movies of the decade.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Top ten TV shows of the 1980's

I watched way too much TV in the 1980's. I lived out in the country and didn't have a car for some time so it was one of the few things there was to do to do. I didn't have cable in the 80's, still don't actually. I also didn't buy a VCR until 1990 believe it or not. So I had to take what the networks dished out in the 1980's. Or did I? The 80's saw a few changes in TV as the big three networks didn't control everything. In looking at my top ten you may notice that I included two syndicated shows and one show off the fledging Fox network that popped up in early 1987. I think the 60's, 70's and 80's all had great shows, but all were different to some extent. A lot of comedies in the 80's began to have more jokes about sex and include topics that were not discussed on TV in the 70's. Also action shows in the 80's seem to have more humor in them which appealed to me. To me it made the characters seem less stiff although they could go too far with the comedy in action shows. I am not a drama fan so maybe you loved Dallas, Dynasty or St. Elsewhere, but that wasn't my thing. Also the return of anthology series starting in the mid-1980's saw more horror and science fiction on TV. When Twilight Zone the movie hit theaters in 1983 it started TV people thinking. Shortly thereafter Tales from the darkside, Amazing stories, Freddy's Nightmares and new versions of the Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock presents emerged on TV. Other horror series on TV included Friday the 13th the TV series and the shortlived Fox show Werewolf. I think there was a wider variety of styles of show in the 1980's overall and that was fine by me. I spent way too much time in front of the tube, but that happens and I was glad it was as good as it was then. Being able to get the old shows on DVD now is great, but having to wait for a show back then made it more of an event. School may have been boring but you could look forward to seeing Cheers on Thursday or the Dukes of Hazzard on Friday night. It was a big deal back then and I still get escited about watching most of these shows. So here are my top ten shows of the decade.

10) Tales from the darkside-A little uneven as all anthology shows tend to be. Yet enough good stories and I was glad to see a horror based TV show.

9)Magnum PI-I almost took this one off of the list due to the "Magnum death dream" that occurred at the end of the second to last season. However it was good for most of it's run. Selleck played a more down to earth hero and that helped.

8)WKRP in Cincinnati-This show ended too early. It stayed strong all the way through it's run. The fact that it was sort of music related helped as well.

7)Star Trek-The next generation-Finally an intelligent science fiction show that wasn't afraid to have strong plots. They had big shoes to fill and they lived up to it.

6)Married with children-Spent more time in the 90's, but I think the show's real prime was 87-91 which puts most of it's best moments in the 80's. Comedies were getting a bit stale by the late 80's and this show was certainly needed.

5)Night Court-They went through some early cast changes before finding the right fit, but they made it work. Oftentimes walked the line between typical comedy and an odd comedy yet it somehow worked.

4)A-team-Okay, the plots are poor and the acting is what it is, but boy was this fun. This show established itself right from the start. If you liked action shows then you were watching this in the mid-80's. I pity the fool that's going to try and argue this choice!

3)Newhart-Every decade needs an off the wall oddball comedy and this was probably the best one of the decade. Like Night Court they had some early cast changes and had to figure out the direction, but once they did it just took off. Needs to be released on DVD.

2)Dukes of Hazzard-Cars, fights and Daisy. What more could you ask for? The plots were not always the best, but it was big time fun. If you were a boy during the early 80's then you looked forward to Friday nights so you could see this show.

1)Cheers-Strong writing and good stars means a lot, but a strong supporting cast is really important and this show had it. Easily the best show of the decade and it still holds up well. They even managed to survive losing Shelley Long after the 86-87 season and I wasn't sure they could make it past that, but they did.

So there are my picks. Maybe you thought that "Charles in charge" ruled the decade or that "Small Wonder" was criminally underrated. So what shows did you like from the decade?

***On Thursday "Eight days of the 80's" continues with something about hard rock and metal in the year 1984.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Judas Priest-Defenders of the faith, 1984

Judas Priest have gone through a lot of different sounds in their long career. Most worked and a few didn't or at least as far as my ears are concerned. The 80's started out promising for these guys as British Steel was a solid slab of heavy riffs and memorable lyrics. Then Point of entry came in 1981 and many fans saw it as being experimental to some point and generally it got mixed reviews, but I would say it's decent yet maybe a half step back from British Steel. Then came Screaming for vengeance in 1982 and I consider it to be their best album as it shredded and established the band as one of the best metal acts around. So expectations were fairly high for the next release and it didn't disappoint. Although this is my second favorite Priest album, I would have to say that it may be Rob Halford's best vocal performance of his career. The fast vocal part on "Freewheel Burning" and the opening vocals on "Jawbreaker" are enough to make any fan get excited about this album. If Screaming for vengeance shreds then this album pounds. Everything is a bit more deliberate and planned out, but the impact is just as solid. The Sentinel still gives me chills and Rock hard, ride free still makes me bang my head so I know that this has some power in it 20+ years after it's release. This album still holds up to me as I listened to it probably three times over the last month and liked it a lot still. It still sounds true to me like the band knew what they were doing and they were content (for the time) with what they were doing. I don't think every band can say that and it comes across in the music if you are just going through the motions. My only real complaint about this album is that most of the great songs are towards the beginning giving it a feeling like it's losing a little bit of steam down the stretch. This one still remains a must listen for all metal fans due the overwhelming vocals and the band's ability to really build up and carry out strong songs.

***"Eight days of the 80's" continues on Wednesday with my top ten favorite TV shows of the decade.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Top ten arcade games of the 1980's

My father loved bowling and I was glad for that fact. Not because I liked bowling, but it meant that every Friday night between 1982 and 1985 he would go bowling and I would go with him. The bowling alley was in a shopping center that had all of my needs. They had a Sound Waves record store, a Hallmark bookstore with a great comic book selection and an arcade. The arcade was called Blazing Flippers because it was opened in the mid 70's when pinball machines were still king. My father would give me a few dollars and I was off for the evening. On a Friday night in the early to mid 1980's the arcade was packed and I was overwhelmed by all the games. I loved the bright screens and all of the sounds of the games. After about a year of going, I got wise and realized that instead of playing a bunch of different games that if I focused on just a few then I would get better and get to play longer. That's what I did and my quarters lasted longer. In 1985 my father switched shifts and he couldn't bowl anymore because of his shift so my trips to the arcade ended. Around 85-86 arcade games were becoming a little less popular than in the early 80's and I believe Blazing Flippers went out of business around 88 or 89. I probably should have been spending my time doing better things, but I enjoyed it then and I think that I needed to get out and do something because I did not get many chances to do that.
Here are my top ten favorite arcade games of the 1980's. It's arcade only so no home games like River Raid or Pitfall. Also they have to have been made in the 1980's so that eliminates games like Asteroids and Galaxian because they were made in 1979 even though you may remember having played them in the early 1980's. So here they are and feel free to add your favorites in the comments.

10)Defender-A cool left to right shooting game with a lot of bright colors and nice explosions.

9)Pole Position 2- I am picking the sequel over the original because you got to choose from different race tracks. The sit-down version was better than the stand-up version.

8)Xevious-Shooting game only you are looking down at the ship and you get to shoot blast and drop bombs. The sound effects and music were a big plus here.

7)Dragon's Lair- In 1983 everyone thought this was the future of video games. It looked great and that's why it's a top ten. However it didn't require as much skill as some other games.

6)Robotron 2084- Odd game where you are a robot who tries to save people while all kinds of crazy creatures try to run into you. I love the frantic pace of this game.

5)Pac Man-Maybe two years after it came out it was old, but it deserves a top five slot just for the impact it made. This game was huge and it's popularity caused a lot of companies to start making video games.

4)Star Wars the arcade game-In 1983 this was considered 3-d gaming at it's best. It was a lot of line drawings, but it was challenging and it looked really cool for the time.

3)Galaga-Space Invaders inspired Galaxian and this was the sequel to Galaxian. I think this is the best of the those kind of games. Being able to have your ship captured and then get it back and have a duel shooter was a big plus for me.

2)Joust-You fly on an ostrich while trying to pick up eggs, land on top of other jousters while avoiding a big buzzard and the pit down below. Strange concept, but a challenging and fun game.

1)Donkey Kong-Having characters that have personalities can be a big draw and I think that both Mario and the title character had personalities. I found it to be fun and enjoyable and never really grew tired of it.

If you like or did like arcade games then check this site out.
It lists arcade games and you look up games by title and see pictures of ones that you may remember and read information about them. The sad part though was that I looked up some games that I remember as having good graphics and now they look like drawings done by first graders.

***On Tuesday I will be reviewing Judas Priest's Defenders of the faith as Eight days of the 80's continues.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Motley Crue-Shout at the devil, 1983

In the early 1980's the New Wave of British Heavy Metal really dominated the time between say 1980-1982, but by 1983 a few American bands were emerging as well. The LA scene was heating up and record executives were taking notice. Motley Crue had already released their debut "Too fast for love" and they made somewhat of an impact and they got to tour with Kiss. By 1983 the Crue were getting a darker image to some extent and this seemed to help in getting interest. Their 1983 album "Shout at the devil" would see them make the move from promising to being towards the top of the pack. This album shot the band up the ladder fast, but I believe it along with Quiet Riot's Metal Health were important in showing that there was indeed a big scene in LA. The Crue created controversy due to the title of the album as religious groups and parents across the country thought they were serving the devil. After all guys put on face paint, eyeliner and lots of hairspray when they set out to do the bidding of the dark lord. Ultimately this angle probably drew in a lot of teen fans and made a lot of money for the Crue. I remember supporters of the band trying to explain the title as "they are shouting at the devil not with him". My reaction was "who cares about the title as long as the music is good and it was. This album is a bit more polished than the debut, but still it moves straight ahead and keeps your interest. Other than Tommy Lee, I don't think these guys were great players. Yet Nikki Sixx had times of being a good song writer. I think they made ample use of what abilities they had on their first two albums. I remember listening to "Shout at the devil" a lot after it came out and I enjoyed it. At the time they weren't as slick as Ratt, they were perhaps heavier than Twisted Sister and they seemed to have the potential to do more. Time would eventually show that this probably was the peak for Motley Crue. After 1983 the floodgates opened from LA as more bands like WASP, Ratt and many others would be given major label deals. Also hard rock bands and musicians from across the country were relocating to LA to try and make it big.

***On Monday I will have my top ten favorite arcade games of the 1980's as Eight days of the '80's continues.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The 1980's

Probably most people think that the decade they grew up during was the best. There are actually a lot of things that I like about the 60's, 70's and 80's. I probably like all three about the same, but I was a teenager in the 1980's so I really got into music and movies during that decade. I remember being in fourth grade when January 1st, 1980 was approaching and it just seemed so weird for the 1970's to be ending because I was born in 1970 and that decade was all I had known at that point. Yet the 80's came and I got into music, movies, video games and continued watching TV shows and reading comic books. Music of the 80's was very exciting to me overall. Everything seemed so bright, loud, exciting and fun. Some people who younger look back at musicians of the 80's and may say they were tacky or cheesy, but music should be exciting and there is nothing wrong with being larger than life if that's what you are looking for. I started listening to rock and pop in the early 80's and eventually got into metal and hard rock closer to the mid 80's. So it was almost like the rise of metal was running parallel with my teen years and I of course figured it would just get better and better. I of course had very little grasp on what the music business was like so I was naive and probably still am to some extent. Yet I enjoyed the music immensely while it was at it's peak.

This is the first day of "Eight days of the 80's". Tomorrow I think I will have up my review of Motley Crue's Shout at the devil.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Solo act

I was watching some of Bruce Dickinson's Anthology DVD the other day. I remember buying "Tattooed Millionaire" when it came out and I gave it away after a few listens because I didn't like it. I think that I heard "Balls to Picasso" once when it came out and it was okay. Most of the music on the DVD was alright, but not as good as I had hoped. I know his later albums got better reviews, but I have not heard them. Rob Halford was another one where I couldn't get into his post Priest stuff. Fight were okay and the Halford stuff was better, but none of it was as good as I had hoped and nowhere near as good as Priest's Painkiller. I think it's hard for a singer of an established band to leave and do something that's just as good as the previous band's work. There are some who have done it or come close. When Ozzy left Sabbath very few people thought he would do much. He did two great albums right off the bat and some decent ones later on. Although he was just about always surrounded by good musicians and he had a lot of help. Ronnie James Dio had success with Rainbow and Black Sabbath, but left and formed his own band because he wanted to call the shots. The 80's was a good decade for Dio and the 90's were a little rough on him. When Mercyful Fate broke up King Diamond changed the music and his voice a little and had some real success in the late 80's. David Lee Roth had a supergroup for a limited time and some real success for his first two releases. In the cases of Dio and King Diamond, they both started with at least a couple of people in their band that they had played with before so that probably helped. I guess it can be so hard for someone going solo because there is likely be a set of expectations placed on them by fans of their prior band. You probably don't want a singer to completely change their style. At the same time it's pointless to do something like sound just like your prior band like Vince Neil did on his "Exposed" album. Then people wonder "why leave if you're going to do the same exact thing?". Most of the people I mentioned above eventually went back with their previous band for at least a while as well. I guess a lot of musicians like to be in charge, but ultimately they do what they have to in order to make a living.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Blog plugs

Theo over at metal-mixtape is running another contest. You have to look at a picture of a musician and guess who it is. The contest runs until August the 14th so go over there and have a look.

I also wanted to mention that my friend Ray is writing at his blog again. He interviews a lot of musicians and writes for a number of magazines so check his blog out.

Hair Metal or maybe not

I have never been accused of talking about the most meaningful of topics here on my blog and this one will probably continue that tradition. The term "hair metal" is not a term that was used when these bands were around in the 80's and early 90's. I don't even remember when I first heard the term. I would guess it was in the late 90's when bands like Poison, Ratt, Cinderella and the like started doing summer tours. Now it's commonplace to use this term. I use it here because I know that people know what it means however I am not sure that I truly like or agree with the term. Do I disagree with the term just because I do not have hair? No, it's more because I think that it often gives a negative connotation, it doesn't truly define the bands it's referring to and it's a very broad category. Yes, guys trying to look like women and poofing their up while wearing spandex does make it hard for people to take them serious. Other sub-genre terms in metal like speed or thrash are fitting because they refer to the sound. Other labels like doom, black and death metal refer to the lyrics. So do hair metal bands sing about their hair? Well, no so why use that label then? Now sites devoted to the music and fans may break it down and use categories like sleaze rock that would refer to bands that sing about sex and such, but the term hair metal is used way more. When I said that the term hair metal is used for a broad category I mean that it seems like hair metal is used to refer to someone like Poison who were referred to as glam back in the 80's and it could also be used to refer to someone like Cinderella who played blues based hard rock and it could be used to describe someone like Firehouse who are more just hard rock. Then again maybe I would be complicating matters by doing away with the term hair metal because I would be adding more categories. I don't actually want to do away with the term "hair metal", I won't be protesting it and I will continue to use it here. I just wanted to state my opinion for what it's worth.

So what do you think on the matter?

***In case you missed this, there was a somewhat related topic the other day about defining what is heavy metal over at:

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Eight days of the 80's

I had originally planned on doing 80's week next week, but there are so many things I would like to do for it that I have decided to start it on Saturday and call it "Eight days of the 80's". I am going to do:

-four albums reviews
-top ten 1980's movies list
-top ten 1980's TV shows
-top ten 1980's arcade games
-something about metal in 1984 because it was such a great year
-something about life in the 80's

That actually makes nine which means I will have to double up somewhere along the line. There are a few non-music topics in there, but these were also interests I had in the 80's. So that will start this Saturday.

Sweet Cheater-Eatin' ain't cheatin', 2006

So this is an old band with a new CD of songs that sound old. Are you lost yet? It seems that Boston's Sweet Cheater broke up around 1991, but then they recently reformed and they recorded this album and it was released earlier this year. I am not sure what they did in between those years, but judging from the album title I would say that it's a good bet that none of them became English teachers. I first bought this back in the spring along with a number of other discs. Because I had so much to listen to, I was skipping through songs and if it didn't catch my attention right away then it got sat aside and I moved on. That's what I did with this disc, it didn't strike me as being special at first so I put it aside. About a month or so later I was looking for something to listen to so I grabbed this and listened to it on my way to work. It was at this point that I noticed that the singer sounded a lot like Steve Whiteman from Kix on one song and the next song he would sound like Stephen Pearcy of Ratt. I also noticed that this album sounded like it could have been done in 1989. Some of you will think that is bad thing because it means they are stuck in the past and some of you may think that it is a good thing because it is stuck in the past. I am in the second category because it grew on me with each listen and I think it's a good strong hard rock album. There are a number of bands still making albums that sound like 80's-early 90's hard rock. Still this one stood out to me because they are able to handle pace changes well and they have different tempo songs and all are equally good. Another big plus is that a number of other bands I have heard recently start off a song well yet there is not enough in the middle to sustain the whole song, but these guys keep the songs solid all the way through. Singer Mike Chappel is also big plus as his voice is strong, but has just enough of an edge that he doesn't sound too sappy. The only real downside was that there are times where the production is a little fuzzy. When the drums start to get going the sound isn't quite as clear as it should be. My favorite tracks were All fired up, One love, Money's Tough and Subway Train. It took me a second listen to really get into, but by about the third track I began to realize that they were in a slightly higher league then a lot of the other new hair metal stuff I have heard recently. It's not breaking any new ground for sure, but if you like good hard rock from say 88-91 then they have captured that sound and I know that I will be listening to it for some time to come.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Song questions

I seem to talk about whole albums a lot when asking questions of what everyone likes. So today here are three short questions about individual songs.

1)Name three hard rock/metal songs that you could listen to over and over.

2)Name three hard rock/metal songs that you think are perfect.

3)Name three hard rock/metal songs that you would recommend to someone who is not very familiar with hard rock and metal.

Monday, August 07, 2006


There are some pictures of my kids and my ugly mug over at my wife's blog if you want to see them.

Celtic Frost-Monotheist, 2006

These guys were truly heavy and quite honestly verging on greatness between 1984 and 1987. Then in 1988 they released Cold Lake which was a stab at making a quick buck and it failed. The band lost a lot of fans, but they returned three years later with Vanity/Nemesis which was a good album. However the damage was done and metal had changed so they broke up not too long after that. Here in recent years the rumors were going on that singer/guitarist Tom G. Warrior and bass player Martin Ain were putting the band back together and working on new material. Now it's out, the first new studio album in 15 years. Cold Lake was a long time ago so all is forgiven and the slate is wiped clean. So what do we have on this new offering? First, this was tough to get through. Not tough because of any real shortcomings, but mainly tough because it's a complicated album that required several listens for me to determine what I really thought of it. I wanted to be fair and I think that I have worked it out. It's very good, but not quite great or at least I don't think so yet. Celtic Frost developed very quickly back in the 80's and I think they became leaders very fast. Other than the mistake of Cold Lake, these guys were leaders rather than followers. This album is generally slower than much of their earlier material, but perhaps heavier than most of it. Twenty years ago there weren't the kind of sub genre labels that there are now. I listened to Celtic Frost back then and they were largely labeled as speed metal or just plain metal by those that thought they were not fast enough to be speed metal. However they were a large influence on bands that are now labeled black and doom metal even though those two genres are very different from each other. This new album is largely doom metal which means it's slow and very heavy. The first three tracks on this album have some seriously sick and twisted riffs that are heavy enough that you feel it in your spine and I do consider that to be a good thing. The next few tracks throw in more odd vocal parts and different effects and it just didn't totally work for me. It did grow on me some, but not as effective as the first few tracks. The rest of the songs are generally very good with a few great ones mixed in. The strength of the album is how they are capable of getting a lot out of just a few notes. Most doom bands think of heaviness and pace while Celtic Frost seem to be thinking of those things, but they are also thinking of tones. At their best on this album they don't just follow the pace, but they control and twist it. Unfortunately there are times on this album when it's slow without a whole lot going on and that's where I get lost. It's certainly not boring, but I feel like they could have done more at times. I do have to give credit to the band for being very ambitious with this album. Many bands doing reunion or comeback albums fail because they either try to exactly what they did in their prime or they try to do a style that is popular today just because it's popular. Monotheist has a definite sound of the Celtic Frost of old, but they made a great effort to move forward as well. It didn't work 100%, but it's a hell of a try and there is enough here for me to say that not only are they back, but they move towards the front of the class. This is a not an album for everyone, but if you like your metal very heavy and sort of slow then it's worth the time and effort it will take to get into this one.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Protesting for KISS

The complete story is here from CNN.

It's about a group of 200 people who showed up outside the Rock and roll hall of fame to protest because they think Kiss should be in the hall of fame. Well, that's great that the band has such loyal fans, but I think the Rock and roll hall of fame is a joke. Rock music isn't about awards, honors and some display in a museum. To me having a hall of fame for rock music makes it seem very stale and it shouldn't be that way. Rock music at it's best is a very vibrant, living art form and to me the hall is just a money making scheme. If you want to honor a rock band then you play their music and you spread the word to others. That's how their legacy lives on, not through getting an induction ceremony and having people have to pay to see a plaque or whatever.

Year end project

When I started this blog last June I knew that there were two things I wanted to do. One was write a 20 year old album review each month where I examine an album and see if it has held up over time or not. I have been doing those for over a year now. The other thing was that I would figure out my top albums for the year that was twenty years ago. My idea was to treat it as a project and narrow albums down and really compare them. I did this last year and I am ready to do it again for this year. Here is how it works, in August (now) I pick between 20 and 25 hard rock and metal albums from 1986 that I think have a chance of making my top ten. Then between August and November I listen to each one of them all the way through and I start narrowing down albums and then I start ranking them. Then I do a countdown of the top ten starting on December 1st with the album I have ranked at number ten. Then I reveal one each day and I countdown to my favorite album of 1986 which will be posted on December 10th. Then I have a few other awards to hand out. The best and worst album covers will be on December 11th. Then on December 12th I award the "Golden turd award" for 1986. This is an album that is both bad and also a disappointment based on either the band having a prior reputation of being good or the fact that the album got a lot of hype, but failed to live up to it. These awards were a lot of fun for me to do last year because it gave me a chance to re-examine my views on albums. My top ten for 1985 looked a lot different last year then I thought it would. I gave very thorough listenings to these albums and I listened to several right after each other to really hear which was better. So this is the project that I am starting on now and I will announce it again around the end of November and then the awards begin on December 1st. If you have any desire to see how this worked last year then check out the archives for December of 2005.

I was curious and was wondering if anyone else keeps a top ten list of albums, TV shows, movies or anything like that? Whether it's on paper or just in your mind. I used to make top ten lists all the time when I was in school.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


No, not those things that you used to take outside and beat the chalk dust out of to clean them. I am not even referring to the mid-90's film where Arnold Schwarzenegger blew up half a city while trying to "secretly" protect witness Vanessa Williams. Instead I offering you a chance to erase a bad album off of a band's record. So let's say you have this eraser and you can do away with one album by any band of your choice. So if one of your favorite bands had a great career except for one release then now would be your chance to make their career spotless. So if you could remove one album and the memory of it from existence then what would it be?

What's coming up?

This coming week I hope to have reviews on:

Celtic Frost-Monotheist
Sweet Cheater-Eatin' ain't cheatin'

These two albums actually have quite a bit in common. Now they are from very different styles as Celtic Frost are somewhere between black and doom metal while Sweet Cheater would be labeled as hair metal.
However they have these things in common.
-Both albums came out this year.
-Both bands originally broke up in the early 90's.
-It took me several listens to each to figure out what I really thought about them.

Other topics I hope to have out this week are:
-Something about the label "hair metal".
-Some more questions with a theme of involving individual songs.
-Details about my end of year project, which I am actually starting on this month.

***Then the following week will be 80's week so I am already working out the ideas on what I will be doing for that.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Motorhead-Orgasmatron, 1986

Background- I have argued this point with a friend who did not agree with me. However, I still feel that Motorhead were at a crossroads when this album came out. It had been over three years since their last studio lp and "Another perfect day" didn't exactly tear it up when released in 1983. A lot had happened in the world of metal between spring of 1983 and summer of 1986. A lot of heavier and faster bands were getting noticed. Motorhead had already earned a place as a major metal influence and they would have maintained a following in the UK for sure and likely in Europe. Yet, I think in 1986 that if this album fell flat that here in North America that Motorhead could have gone the way of bands like Venom, Saxon and Raven who had showed potential in the early 80's but failed to follow up and now they were being left behind. In 1986 there were teenage metal fans (like myself) who loved Metallica, Anthrax and Slayer, but didn't know of Motorhead's influence on those bands.

First Impression-I first bought this in fall of 1986. It was the first Motorhead album I ever heard and it instantly sucked me in. I remember taking a long walk listening to the tape on my walkman and just soaking it in. Let's toss on cd (yes, I have upgraded this since 1986) and see how it pans out.


Deaf Forever-The opening track comes on at a medium-slow pace, but it has a good solid drum beat and you can feel your head nodding to the beat right away. It's about a battle, but it takes on the form of an anthem and it works quite well.

Nothing up my sleeve-This one races on and is lead by a great raw guitar sound. Lemmy sounds very relaxed and natural on this one.

Ain't my crime- This is a really great song, but you know what it sounds a little too much like the previous song. I always wished they had switched this song with Doctor Rock or Built for speed and then it wouldn't be as obvious that these two songs were similar. I used to have this album on tape and it felt like all the fast songs were on side one and all the slow ones were on side two.

Claw-A very direct sound for Motorhead. It's really solid without being polished. It has a nice thick, chunky sound to it as opposed to the two previous tracks that were fast, but not necessarily heavy. I think it works very well. Do you know what your claw is for?

Mean Machine-This track flies on at a break neck pace and never looks back. A little different for Motorhead in some ways. I like it, but I am not sure that they are totally comfortable with this sound.

Built for speed-Out of all of the tracks on this album, this may be the one that sounds the most like earlier Motorhead. Yet it's really just a very decent song and doesn't stand out too well. There is a good solo and some sharp drumming in it though.

Ridin' with the driver-A pounding drum beat kicks off and this one just goes. Everything clicks here and it's my favorite track on the album and one of my favorite Motorhead songs of all time.

Doctor Rock-Even by mid-80's standards, this is a cheesy title. Yet they pull it off because they go at it with the normal no flinching, no excuses kind of style they had perfected. Not overwhelming, but severely tight.

Orgasmatron- If you sit and really listen to this song it will bring up all kinds of images and none of them are pretty. That's what the song is about and it effectively paints an image. This was certainly not a typical a Motorhead song at this time. Yet it became a staple for the new Motorhead. It spoke volumes about what this band could be and could do.

Verdict/Final Word-I won't mince words, I am a huge Motorhead fan and this is my favorite album of theirs. So I may be biased, but I definitely believe it's every bit as good as when I heard it 20 years ago. The reason I believe that is because Motorhead rarely suscribed to following trends. They played solid heavy, guitar driven rock and it just doesn't sound that dated. For Motorhead this album was a success and they were back on the map. They were off onto their second decade of making music and now they into fourth decade of putting out solid metal.

***The 20 year old album review for September will be David Lee Roth's Eat 'em and smile.

Blog plug and cool project

T-bone over at wgaf is currently doing a countdown of his top 100 favorite metal songs. He is doing one song per day and he just started a few days ago. A pretty interesting project so go have a look.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thinking ahead

I must admit that I didn't think a lot about this blog while I was on vacation except during my runs in the morning. My knees are creaky and I run with the grace of a cow pulling it's feet out of the mud, but I have been running for over 17 years and I think a lot while I run. I mainly think about music and football. On my runs while I was on vacation I thought ahead about possible new ideas for what to write about on my blog and the Broncos' chances for the 2006 season. I said last week that when 2007 rolls around that I would do away with "Battle of the bands" and "It came form the pages of Hit Parader" so that I could try two new ideas. I have decided to do one called "Who where they?" where once a month I will profile an obscure or semi-obscure hard rock or metal band that was around some time between say the late 70's and the early 90's. The other idea will be called "Heavy Metal Jukebox" and once a month I throw out three song choices and you say which song you prefer and why. There will be some link between the three songs like same sub-genre of metal, all by the same artist or all from the same year. I am also considering having a contest like Theo at Metal-Mixtape recently did. I think that was a great idea because it's fun. The only problem is I don't have any great prizes. What I do have are some doubles of heavy metal buttons so that might be the prize. Might be cheesy to some of you I don't know, but a free prize is a free prize. So I am thinking of doing a contest some time soon and it will probably be something where you have do matching. That way all the answers are in front of you and you just have to put them together. Let me know what you think of these ideas and let me know if there is anything else you would like to see here.

I'm back

I have returned from my trip. Thanks to the three guest posters for giving their time to write posts for my blog. One of the great things about music is getting to hear the opinions of others. No two people get the same thing out of music and oftentimes we learn so much about music just from sharing and listening to the opinions of others. Also thanks to my friend Bob for going into the machine and posting for me while I was away. I packed up my black AC/DC and Iron Maiden shirts then piled all the strollers, diaper bags and other equipment we need to keep up with a baby and a toddler into the Metalmobile and we were off on our trip. This is the first vacation we have had since we have had kids. I tell you we had more stuff for a two day trip now then my wife and I had for our last trip when it was just two of us going away for a week. We went to the Strasburg Railroad , the Choo Choo Barn , Bird in hand farmers market (make jokes about the name if you must) and the Rockvale Square outlets . Metalgirl is a big train fan so that's why went where we did and she loved riding the train at the Strasburg railroad. We are considering going back in say mid to late September for a few days to do some things we didn't get to do this time. My wife was telling me about a motel near Strasburg where the rooms are old train cars that have been converted into rooms. So when you stay there you get your own train car to stay in. I am interested in that for sure and my daughter would probably love it. If you have any desire to write as a guest blogger then just leave me a comment saying so. Like I said I may go away for a few days next month and may need someone to write then.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Steve's Post

The third guest post is from Steve over at heavy metal addiction .

My KISSstory
By Steven Angulo

I have been a KISS fan since late 1977. At the time, I was 5 years old. I remember shopping with Mom at a local department store and seeing the most amazing thing ever.....a KISS record. It was Rock'n Roll Over, KISS' fifth studio album, released in 1976. The fact that there was actual music on the record didn't matter to me, what mattered was the album cover. I looked at the other records around it but none looked anything like this one: the bright colors, the faces, the logo, the fire and comets, it all looked so cool. I don't think I actually knew what "cool" was back then but I did know that I had to have that record. I begged Mom to buy it but I didn't get it. I got the cassette! And so the journey began, 29 years of loyal fandom.My old KISS cassette sat proudly in a drawer while I found new ways to defeat Darth Vader and the Empire with my Star Wars action figures. I always had the radio on while I played Star Wars. I was given a small cassette player/radio for some important occasion and I kept it on constantly. When you're given a gift as a child, you play with it, no matter what it is. I had been listening to the radio for a year or so but I never had the desire to actually buy music. Then the day came when a DJ mentioned that KISS was coming to the Providence Civic Center. I immeadiately ran to Mom and told her the good news, we could go see KISS!Didn't happen. Mom wasn't about to take her 10 year old son to a KISS concert. She did take me to the record store and I got to spend my own money on another KISS cassette, Creatures Of The Night. Another mysterious, and cartoonish, album cover. It was dark, it was dangerous, and Mom didn't like it. I finally knew what "cool" was.I started listening to Rock and Heavy Metal. I got into Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Van Halen, AC/DC, Scorpions and the like but KISS was my favorite band. All the kids at school started going to the record store to buy albums, Hit Parader and Circus and I was no exception. Cassettes were brought to school: AC/DC, Ozzy, Motley Crue, Van Halen. All these bands were the cornerstone of a Catholic school education. I brought my KISS cassettes in and got laughed at. KISS was a joke, they were has beens, there were "better" bands to listen to. No matter how hard I tried no one ever wanted to hear KISS. I defended my heroes as best I could but I couldn't convince anyone to enlist in the KISS Army.Around that time, cable TV came to Pawtucket, and with it, MTV. I still remember that fateful night when KISS unmasked themselves, I couldn't believe that they would take off their makeup and destroy the band. It was over, no more KISS. I didn't understand that the makeup had nothing to do with the guys actually playing their instruments. I didn't realize that this was a gimmick to save the mighty KISS from becoming has beens like my friends said. I didn't know that KISS released Lick It Up.I look back on the non-makeup years of KISS fondly. It was a time of discovery and a time of rebellion. I bought Animalize, Asylum, and Crazy Nights the day they came out and explored the band's earlier albums. I read every article I could on KISS. I bought every button and pin at the flea market. I wore my Animalize t-shirt (white shirt with black 3/4 sleeves and an Animalize iron-on) with pride under my school uniform. If a makeup picture was printed in a Rock magazine, I bought it. The history of KISS, or KISStory, was something sacred and holy. I clamored for everything KISS.I got into fights over who was better, KISS or Motley Crue. Seems Motley Crue fans were everywhere in my school and I hated it. I took great pride that the Crue opened for KISS on tour. Their popularity was eclipsing the KISS legend. I called Dial MTV everyday to vote for 'Tears Are Falling' and I extremely arrogant the day that it knocked the Crue's 'Home Sweet Home' video from the top spot. It lasted one day but KISS had triumphed! I was the lone KISS fan fighting against what everyone else liked. KISS was my band and I was loyal. I took that loyalty to high school, to college, and into adulthood.The KISS Unplugged concert was the event that brought Paul, Ace, Peter, and Gene back together. By this time, 1995, I was 23 and I had subscribed to every KISS newsletter and fanzine I could find. I had seen KISS live twice, in 1987 for Crazy Nights and 1992 for Revenge. I dreamed that I would one day see KISS in makeup but it seemed impossible. When the band appeared at the 1996 Grammy Awards and a tour was announced, I had to have tickets. I stood in line for hours with my friends but we got shut out for both Boston shows.....the dream was over. We got lucky though, my friend's father had a business connection that was able to get us 4 tickets in prime seating.Tuesday, July 30, 1996 - The Fleetcenter - Boston, MAThis is the day and place that my dream finally came true.....I was finally going to see the original KISS on stage, in makeup. The PA played The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' and the curtain dropped. The house lights turned off."All right Boston. You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world........KISS!"The curtain dropped and the band launched into 'Deuce'. The rest is a blur. I was in a state of euphoria and hysteria. I was screaming at the top of my lungs while tears ran down my face. By the 4th or 5th song (I think it was 'Watchin' You') my voice went but I continued to sing. Everything I had read, everything I had believed in had come true in a two-hour set. By the end of the show, I was spent. There were no emotions left and no voice to speak with.I would go to 3 more shows on that tour but they didn't match the excitement of that first night in Boston. The Reunion Tour was a complete success, the spectacle had sold-out arenas worldwide. The band that was King of the mid to late 1970s had re-conquered the world and I was a tiny part of it. I sit here today, the band a shadow of it's Reunion glory, and I still support them. I have seen KISS in concert 9 times since the end of the Reunion Tour. I have bought all the latest releases and even some of the merchandise. What I have bought the most is the dream, or maybe is it the memories? Either way, I sit here today, at 34 years old, and proudly state....."Yes, I am a KISS fan!"

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Volkher's post

The second guest post is from Volkher who writes Living with music.

Here it is:"Thin Lizzy: A Live Band!I hope you're not going to throw any tomatoes at me, but Heavy Metal and Hard Rock are only one genre I regularly listen to. On top of that, my in-depth experience in the field is somewhat limited and spans the period 1976-1982 (plus a few years, give or take). Of course, I also have all the old AC/DC, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin plus a ton of other discs, but my main listening and live-experience period for this type of music, aside from theregular bouts I have experienced since then, was end 70s/beginning 80s.No matter how many discs I have, and they certainly run into the hundreds,there is one band that I always felt connected to in a special way: ThinLizzy. In a nutshell, I never missed a Thin Lizzy gig and once friends literally had to carry me to one, raging fever and all. Never missed one,ever.To me, Thin Lizzy was always the epitome of a working class working band, if you know what I mean. They didn't pull off any of the usual live eye candy crap (besides a traffic light on stage to announce the beginning of the concert, the odd pyrotechnical flash in the pan, plus maybe Lynott's silver bass guitar pick-guard he liked to redirect the brightest stage lights with), they usually came dressed like you and me, they got on stage and just rocked the house - always, even when Phil Lynott was strung out on whatever he was snorting, shooting up or guzzling down. They came on and put on a tight show for hundreds or thousands of devoted fans that even forgave them"Dear Miss Lonely Hearts", a catchy but utterly trivial tune.My problem with the band is and was simple: No matter how good the tunes were or how riveting the production was, their studio albums just didn't do it for me because they just didn't convey that sheer live power and atmosphere that these guys, in varying line-ups, could generate within seconds of walking on stage. Once Phil's bass strings started punching you straight in the gut, you just knew that Thin Lizzy was there to give you full value for your money, plus plenty more, and I don't think anybody ever went home dissatisfied. I know I never did.Case in point: "Don't Believe a Word" or "Suicide", both of which made every Thin Lizzy concert complete for me, just bore me to death in their studio versions. They're great songs and all, but live they were such powerhouses of tunes that just blew the roof off any concert venue. Thin Lizzy's music just needed that Phil Lynott input of trying to get the crowd to go wild andsing along, it needed those guitar trade-offs of the various lead guitar teams the band incorporated, and, last but not least, it needed that deafening punch and the class-A drumming of Brian Downey to shake your bones.Thin Lizzy's music needed that deep-down in your gut feeling of anticipation, the warm beer before the concert, the cheap wine we guzzled down hours before we even took off for the gig, the listening to their live album and bootlegs for an entire day before going to the concert, and, mostof all, it demanded that you went and saw the band with your best buddies.Hell, even for their appearence at "Rockpalast", whenever that was broadcastall over Europe, we all got together at a friend's house, lived it up until the live transmission started and danced around the living room, belting out each tune and doing that stupid headbanging bit.Way back then, Thin Lizzy was our band. We were in the know, we knew about every breath they had taken the previous years, we bet bottles of cheap wineon their possible set lists, we broke out the Whiskey and mass-producedice-cubes in anticipation of that one night we could get down and boogie ...and we nursed headaches for days after each appearance.It was a grand time, and Thin Lizzy was at the heart of it. Still today I think that they were perhaps the best Europe had to offer, and they were oneof the most honest bands around.So, if you want to know what Thin Lizzy was really all about, get "Live andDangerous" (one of the best live albums, bar none, with Robertson and Gorhamnear perfection) or the second "Live" album which had great music ... and anabominable mix. Unfortunately, we still all have to wait for a really goodlive DVD because so far, what's been put out just doesn't do the bandjustice, and I'm still hoping for a really decent remaster of their albums,but in the end, it doesn't really matter. I've been known to "watch" their"Rockpalast" DVD (Germany, Lorelei, August 1981) with eyes closed, and there was that feeling again ...Here's to Thin Lizzy, one of the greatest live bands of all time and to Phil Lynott, Europe's most honest (and self-destructive) rock musician.Cheers!"Volkher