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Old 12-18-2013, 11:04 AM   #31 (permalink)
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You may live. RIP Dio.


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Ronnie had the perfect voice for metal, loud and aggressive while still clear and strong, and able to croon when he had to. He's a great loss to the metal community, and to rock in general, but at least we have this meisterwerk to remember him by.

One of my favorite things about Dio as a frontman are his lyrics. Whether or not he was a poet he just came across as a wise father-figure type giving advice gathered over a lifetime's worth of experience to his child (i.e. his fans). And if you listen to interviews that's just how he comes across in real life too. Just an intelligent, well-spoken, class act with a good head on his shoulders who can't be replaced. I'd kill to have met and talked to him.
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Old 12-18-2013, 02:36 PM   #32 (permalink)
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Holy Diver best album of the bunch so far.
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Old 12-18-2013, 08:27 PM   #33 (permalink)
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And following on from "Holy diver", could we leave out


Rising --- Rainbow --- 1976

You can say what you like about later incarnations of Rainbow, but for me the golden, classic era of Ritchie Blackmore's spinoff band from Deep Purple was always under the helmship of RJD. And of those albums he made with them (three in all) this is his crowning glory.

That is all.

Oh, you want more, do you? Well consider this: how can an album that has only six tracks --- six! --- be so chock-full of goodness? Not a bad track on this, and it starts off powerfully with a superb and mesmerising keyboard solo from Tony Carey before Dio's voice punches in as "Tarot woman" gets going, and from there on it's just gold all the way. The piece de resistance is, basically, the second side, the last two tracks making up really one story, with the Kashmir-esque (I know I know!) "Stargazer" leading into the breakneck closer, "A light in the black", on which Rainbow show other bands how you present the final flourish and finish with a serious bang!

Then of course there's that legendary, iconic sleeve. Could anything be more representative of heavy metal than a massive fist punching up out of the clouds and grabbing a rainbow? Well maybe, but it's one hell of an image and almost on a par with Floyd's prism I feel. What I love about it too is that the first time you see the image it takes a moment, having drank in the splendour of the rainbow-clutchng fist, before you notice there's a little guy --- a knight I think --- down there in the shadows in the bottom left hand corner, and he's almost like "WTF is THAT???!" Awesomeness on a scale of one to ten? About a million.

Again, like Dio themselves I find Rainbow slid a lot after "Long live rock and roll", and reached close to their creative peak here on this album. Others may contest that, but come on! "Difficult to cure"? "Down to earth"? "Bent out of shape"? Gimme a break!

The quintessential Rainbow album: you don't argue with a mountain-sized fist!

TRACKLISTING

1. Tarot woman
2. Run with the wolf
3. Starstruck
4. Do you close your eyes?
5. Stargazer
6. A light in the black
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Old 12-20-2013, 03:29 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Infected --- The The --- 1986

Sure, there was a time when it was cool to like The The, but this album really affected (rather than infected!) me, and I went on to buy the rest of their catalogue and follow them through to what has been, so far, sadly the end of their career. And when I say they, I of course mean Matt Johnson, who is and was the beating, screaming, bleeding heart of the band: composer, instrumentalist, poet, wordsmith, frontman and prophet.

There's nothing I don't like on this album. From the screaming guitars, babbling synths and electronic drum machines of the title track and opener to the urban apocalypse of the closer, every single track demands your attention. In some ways it's a story, the tale of innocence lost and hope destroyed, with references to war (Vietnam I think), love in its dirtiest and most raw animal sense, urban decay and profiteering, and any other vice you wish to name. Above all strides the familiar dark figure of the devil --- "Come on down, the devil's in town!" from "Angels of deception", "One day I asked the angels for inspiration but the devil bought me a drink and he's been buyin' them ever since!" from "The mercy beat" --- but even that is a cartoonish figure, as Johnson points to the real evil lying in the heart of man.

It's a disturbing, often unsettling ride if you look past the electro-dance beats and the walls of synth and gaze deeply into the lyrics, which allow you in turn to look into Johnson's soul, and it is not a nice place to be. Johnson tells it like it is, with no attempt at sugar coating and no apology for the rawness of his lyrics --- "She was lying on the bed with her lips parted squealing like a stuck pig" --- he calls 'em as he sees 'em, and I guess we're lucky he's not God, cos otherwise he'd just condemn the whole damn lot of us to eternal fire and damnation.

A stunning album, definitely the peak of The The/Matt Johnson's creativity, an album that never lets up for a second and leaves you feeling like you've been dragged through Hell on a dirty, bloodstained train crewed by the damned across rail tracks made of the bones of sinners and saints alike, the latter of whom mistakenly thought there was another place they were going. Johnson's deaths-head grin as he growls and stokes the fire in the engine tells us otherwise.

TRACKLISTING

1. Infected
2. Out of the blue into the fire
3. Heartland
4. Angels of deception
5. Sweet bird of truth
6. Slow train to dawn
7. Twilight of a champion
8. The mercy beat
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Old 12-20-2013, 04:20 PM   #35 (permalink)
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Boston --- Boston --- 1976

Is it really necessary for me to write about why I love this album? Apart from of course the superhit "More than a feeling", there's the epic "Foreplay/Long time", which satisfies both prog sensibilities with its rambling organ intro and AOR rockers with the second part, soaring guitar and a pounding beat, and then you have tracks like the (literally) "Smokin'", the almost-ballad-but-not "Hitch a ride", the punchy uptempo "Rock and roll band" and the stomping "Peace of mind". The powerful roar, often scream of the late, lamented Brad Delp rises triumphantly over everything and of course Tom Scholz keeps a firm control over everything else, some might say too firm as time went on.

Boston may have become something of a caricature of themselves in recent years (have you heard "Corporate America"?) but in '76 they could do no wrong. Then they released their second album to resounding yawns and took another eight years to release their third, that point then marking the pattern where they would release an album every, you guessed it, eight years! Hard to keep the interest going over such long gaps, Tom my man! How many people would say, in the interim between 1978 and 1986, "Boston? Haven't they broken up?" They might as well have.

But this was and is a classic album, an example of when Scholz got it just right. "Third stage" almost made it too but possibly due to making fans wait too long, or maybe due to having two tracks which were basically the same song under different names, it didn't shake the world of rock as it should have.

If you don't have this in your collection you should be suitably ashamed. Rectify this error at once. Thank you.

TRACKLISTING

1. More than a feeling
2. Peace of mind
3. Foreplay/Long time
4. Rock and roll band
5. Smokin'
6. Hitch a ride
7. Something about you
8. Let me take you home tonight
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Old 12-20-2013, 04:44 PM   #36 (permalink)
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Famous last words --- Supertramp --- 1982

Not the last Supertamp album but still appropriately named, as it marked the end of a decade-long partnership between Roger Hodgson and Rick Davies, founder members of Supertramp, with the departure of the former to pursue his own solo career. The album has many boppy tracks, and follows in many ways the formula laid down in albums like "Breakfast in America", "Crisis? What crisis?" and "Even in the quietest moments", a trilogy of albums that saw the London boys secure a string of hit singles, though "Breakfast" was their big commercial breakthrough. However behind the uptempo surface happiness of the songs here you can see and hear sadness, longing and regret, and perhaps a few little recriminations from the man who was staying.

One of Supertramp's most consistent albums, it's a tragedy in a way that just as they were hitting their stride they lost Hodgson, their leading light and most recognisable voice, very much the heart of the band. Their followup in 1985 was dull and boring in comparison, and really they've struggled to regain the sense of fun and the carefree attitude Hodgson brought to the band. Songs like "It's raining again", "My kind of woman" and the reflective "C'est le bon" sit alongside harder, more bitter fare such as "Waiting so long" and the utterly heartbreaking "Don't leave me now" to create one of Supertramp's finest albums, and a fitting tribute to the man who had given over ten years of his life to the band.

I of course read probably far more into the lyrics than is there, particularly the last two tracks, but really in ways Rick Davies says it all in "Put on your old brown shoes" when he sings "You know you paid your dues, did all you could: time to move on, no more to say."

A parting of old friends or a bitter accusation of betrayal? Whichever, it's one hell of an album and I love everything on it.

TRACKLISTING

1. Crazy
2. Put on your old brown shoes
3. It's raining again
4. Bonnie
5. Know who you are
6. My kind of lady
7. C'est le bon
8. Waiting so long
9. Don't leave me now
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Old 12-20-2013, 06:29 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Eve --- The Alan Parsons Project --- 1979

This one was a little hard for me, as I'm a huge APP fan and it's difficult to choose a favourite album --- Gaudi, Ammonia Avenue, Eye in the sky, Pyramid, all could have had a chance. But when I look at the totality of the albums and what I don't like about any of the above, there's very little I can say I don't like about Eve, and it flows so well it's almost, but not quite, a concept album.

Their fourth album, it shows the Project just about coming to a zenith, although their big breakthrough would not be for three more years with "Eye in the sky", its instrumental leadin "Sirius", used for some sports over there in the Land of the Free, I believe. On a general theme of women and their influences on men, typified by songs like "You lie down with dogs" and "I'd rather be a man", it features the usual lineup of various vocalists, though is perhaps unique in that one of the tracks is sung by Clare Torry, who the prog-minded among you will recognise as the name and voice behind those amazing vocalise in "The Great Gig in the Sky".

I'm not going to say every track is gold. There's one I'm not crazy about, and interestingly enough it's the abovementioned one where Torry takes vocal duties. I just find "Don't hold back" a little pedestrian and generic, filler compared to tracks like "You lie down with dogs", "Damned if I do" and "Winding me up". And then there's the hallmark of the APP, superb instrumentals, the first of which, "Lucifer", opens the album in fine style. The closer is another Parsons trademark, the soft rock ballad, but listen to "If I could change your mind" and tell me you're not moved.

I've always found the different vocalists used on Parsons' albums a clever touch, as he seems to get just the right man (or, occasionally as here, woman) for the job: compare David Paton's snarl on "I'd rather be a man" with Chris Rainbow's softer, more melodic and relaxed tone on "Winding me up", or even Lesley Duncan's gentle yet slightly bitter take on the closer. Each vocalist brings their own magic to each particular song, and together they become very much more than the sum of their parts.

Alan Parsons went solo in 1993, ditching the Project name and yet retaining or inviting back many of the bandmembers, though Eric Woolfson, his collaborator for fifteen years and co-founder of the band, split from his partner and pursued his own career, sadly passing away in 2009. But together Woolfson and Parsons created some excellent albums, and for me this is the pick of the bunch.

TRACKLISTING

1. Lucifer
2. You lie down with dogs
3. I'd rather be a man
4. Winding me up
5. You won't be there
6. Damned if I do
7. Don't hold back
8. Secret garden
9. If I could change your mind
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:29 AM   #38 (permalink)
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I never realised you were such a Rainbow fan, anyway what do you think of the Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner albums?

Can't fault the Boston debut being in here but as for your Supertramp selection, you'd really put this as your favourite album by them?
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Old 12-27-2013, 06:33 PM   #39 (permalink)
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I never realised you were such a Rainbow fan, anyway what do you think of the Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner albums?

Can't fault the Boston debut being in here but as for your Supertramp selection, you'd really put this as your favourite album by them?
Rainbow, as I say, really only interested me up to "Long live rock and roll". I was and am a Dio nut. I didn't like GB's voice (too screamy) and JLT was kind of meh to me, though I know he's a good singer. Just didn't think he suited Rainbow's style as I had grown to know it.

And yes, without any question: I love FLW to bits. I also love CWC?, BiA, CotC and of course Paris, EitQM and STNC (what an unfortunate acronym!) but the final album with Roger just totally takes it for me, every time. Completely and utterly faultless.

Happy Christmas by the way! You're nominated for one or two awards on Sunday, so watch the Update Thread!
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Old 01-01-2014, 06:20 AM   #40 (permalink)
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Kick --- INXS --- 1987

Another of those albums I bought but never bothered with the rest of thier discography. There's something about "Kick"; it highlights INXS at the absolute top pf their game, when the world was at their feet and they could do no wrong. Despite having been together since 1980 and this being their sixth album, it was only with the previous one, "Listen like thieves", that they became even widely known to the world at large, but on "Kick" they blew the market apart.

With no less than four hit singles, including the gorgeous "Never tear us apart", INXS can't put a foot wrong here. From the opener "Guns in the sky" with its sparse percussion and rapid-fire vocal to the manic closer "Tiny daggers", with its keyboard riff reminiscent of Stewart's "Tonight I'm yours", it's a joy throughout and one of those albums I play every single track on. The singles are of course great but it's in tracks like "Calling all nations", the clever "Mediate" (where every line is a word ending in -ate) and the bombastic title track itself where this album really shines.

It also seems that after this, though they would have more hit singles, the band were beginning to fade as a force. So often it's the way: you struggle for years, have a massive hit album and become a star and then can't follow that up. INXS never did, and with the sad death of Micheal Hutchence, I suppose they never will now. But it remains a testimony to the very best these sons of Australia could do.

Kick? It does, and in a very good way.

TRACKLISTING

1. Guns in the sky
2. New sensation
3. Devil inside
4. Need you tonight
5. Mediate
6. The loved one
7. Wild life
8. Never tear us apart
9. Mystify
10. Kick
11. Calling all nations
12. Tiny daggers
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