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Old 03-28-2012, 07:02 AM   #1081 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
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Hot dogs? Jumping frogs? No room for a worm in your songs though, is there, Mister McAloon? Course, never known a worm to jump, but still, could happen, could happen. Well, probably not. Anyway, despite the shocking bias against invertebrates, it's still a great song from Prefab Sprout, with “The king of rock and roll”. Completely.
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:27 PM   #1082 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
Sure I know Stevie's solo stuff really well and without a doubt her solo album Bella Donna is her best work, the song "Edge of Seventeen" is a classic cut, the only other album in her discography that approaches the quality of this album is Trouble in Shangri-La.
I'd agree with that, though I think there are tracks on "The wild heart" that make the album better than it actually is. But yeah, it's hard to beat the sheer class of "Bella donna" --- duets with Don Henley AND Tom Petty?
Quote:
Up is a complex art rock album and is indeed a cold and inacessible bit of work, but I found its one of those albums that gives over to repeated listens to really enjoy the quality of the album, thats my experience of it anyway.
This is exactly what I found DIDN'T happen for me. I listened to it about four times, over a period of time, and I STILL couldn't get into it. Cold, inaccessible, yes indeed. Intensely unlikeable, as far as I'm concerned. Boo, Peter! Boo! And Boo to "New blood", too!
Page 9
Quote:
Elo-
Quote:
I have a love hate relationship with ELO and often tell people I don't really like them, when in fact I actually do! Out of the Blue is a classic 1970s double and the band's crowning achievement and a better album than the previous A New World Record. Out of the Blue is probably the band's best album from their golden period along with Eldorado. It took Jeff Lynne several attempts before he was able to transform his love of the Beatles, over to a symphonic rock environment ELO style, Out of the Blue is that album. FTW my fav ELO album has to be Time, with its heavy synth approach its the swansong of ELO, but sadly its a forgotten gem.
Yes, "Time" is a classic, as is "Secret messages", but come on: ALL ELO albums are great! Well, I'm a little dubious about "On the third day", but even that has its good tracks...
Quote:
Boston- I adore Third Stage and I actually bought it when it actually came out (showing my age here) When I first put it on and heard Brad Delp singing "Amanda" I was hooked, its an album I still love today and one of the finest AOR albums of the 1980s.
Loved the debut, wasn't mad about "Don't look back", loved "Third stage", especially considering how long we had to wait. Was that wait worth it or what? RIP Brad, you'll always be missed.
Quote:
Ric Ocasek- I see you didn't do a review for Fireball Zone? This is a very good album and one of his rockier outputs, its got a lot of good material and "Mister Meaner" has to be one of the best songs that he has ever written, if you don't know it I'm sure you'll really like it.
Yeah, I had to make a decision: with seven albums to choose from and only four going to be featured, and having heard nothing of his solo stuff before other than "Beatitude" and "This side of Paradise", I just went in terms of doing the first and second albums, then fifth, then seventh or whatever, jsut to get an overall flavour of his work. I knew I might risk missing out a great album/reviewing a bad one, but that's the chance you take. I must give that a spin some time then.
Quote:
You mentioned earlier that you thought Ric Ocasek was guilty of ripping off his old melodies, well Quick Change World is one of the worst cases of plagiarism that I know off, its the worst album he has ever written and the whole thing sounds like some shoddy cut and paste job of earlier material, its an embassing album.
Yeah, wasn't that a decision forced on him by the record label, who refused to release "Negative theater" but instead put out this bastardised version, this amalgam, this Frankenstein's monster?
Quote:
Next time more of Ric Ocasek or part 2 of the NWOBHM and definitely page 10.
Cool! Always interested to hear what you have to say!
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Old 03-28-2012, 12:36 PM   #1083 (permalink)
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Buenos noches from a lonely room --- Dwight Yoakam --- 1988 (Reprise)


I may have mentioned at some point, I used to work in radio. Oh, it was nothing major, just a local community radio station that I worked with for a few years. Probably had a handful of listeners, most of whom more than likely didn't listen regularly, just tuned in from time to time. My show was at one time sandwiched between an Irish traditional music programme and the sports show: I recall once --- true story! --- arriving with my records (no CDs or MP3s in those days, kids!) at the station and the guys running the trad show had a real live band in, and they were, well, playing live in the studio. So while they did what they did I had to climb past keyboards, drums and people seated with fiddles and so on, into my chair behind the desk to get ready for my show! Ah, showbusiness! Can't beat it!

Why do I mention this? Well, the point is (what is the point? Oh yes!) that most of us who were seriously interested in music --- usually the older guys: I would have been around mid-twenties at the time --- and weren't just doing this for the “thrill” or prestige of being a DJ --- sorry, presenter! We weren't allowed to call ourselves Djs; gave the wrong impression --- often spoke about it and swapped experiences, albums, recommendations, much as people on Music Banter do. It was one of the guys there, “Boppin'” Billy (I kid you not!) who got me into Springsteen, when he played “Dancing in the dark”, after which I ran out --- not literally --- and bought “Born in the USA”, and the rest is history, soon to be related when they turn my life story into a movie. I'm forever grateful to him for that.

But another guy mentioned to me that he knew I “like my country flavoured with a bit of rock”, or it could have been the other way around. Either way, he suggested I might enjoy the music of one Dwight Yoakam (oh, that's what this meandering diatribe is about! I see!) and lent me the album “Guitars, Cadillacs, etc., etc.” which I really liked, and thereafter bought it myself (second hand, of course!) along with two others of his. This is his third, and was in fact the first album on which he notched up two number one singles on the country music charts.

I find it a little more mature than the two previous albums, the aforementioned “Guitars” and “Hillbilly deluxe”, which followed it. It's one on which he renews his partnership with Maria McKee, who sang with him on the debut, although here she does backing vocals rather than duet with him, and one on which he also gets to sing with his longtime hero, Buck Owens.

It's not Steve Earle, it's not rewriting the country or rock genre, and to be fair there's nothing terribly new here, but for what he does Dwight does it well. The album opens on “I got you”, a typical country blues bopper in which Dwight bemoans his problems and his mounting bills: ”Got a letter from the folks over at Bell/ Just to let me know for my next phone call/ I could walk outside and yell”, but as long as he has his girl he's okay. Nice bit of guitar and a great line in bass, Dwight's voice that typical Texas drawl but somehow not annoying or whiny as country singers can often be. It's a nice uptempo opener with the sort of blind optimism that sometimes can be endemic to country songs, and it's followed by “One more name”, a ballad with some lovely mournful fiddle and a nice shot of pedal steel (what would a country song be without the old pedal steel?), lightened by some smooth mandolin courtesy of Scott Joss.

Dwight writes most of his material himself, and on this album he writes seven of the eleven tracks, and “What I don't know” rocks along nicely, another of his compositions with more than a nod back to John Fogerty. More great fiddle and a light sense of menace in the lyric: ”What I don't know/ Might not hurt me/ But if I find out/ You've been cheatin'/ What I don't know/ Might get you killed.” Kudos to Don Reed, whose fiddle playing really keeps the country air in even the rockiest of tracks. The first cover version is up next, Johnny Cash's “Home of the blues” given a decent outing, with some pretty damn fine guitar from longtime compatriot and producer Pete Anderson, then the title track is another slow bluesy ballad, another Yoakam original, which recalls the best of the more acoustic Springsteen, like “Nebraska” and “The ghost of Tom Joad”. Great accordion accompaniment by Flaco Jiminez gives the song a very Mexican feeling, and with the title, that's probably the intention. Reed is there again with his versatile fiddle, while Taras Prodaniuk keeps a steady bass rhythm, the heartbeat of the song.

Another cover next, with a rabble-rousin' version of J.D. Miller's “I hear you knockin'”, Skip Edwards' honky-tonk piano conjuring up visions of a redneck bar deep in the south of the south, where they say things like “Hey you! Let's fight!” the response to which is “Them's fightin' words!” Okay, so I ripped that off from the Simpsons, but hell, it's funny ain't it? The fiddle holds court again, and you can't just help but tap your foot to this one. An original tune, things slow right down for “I sang Dixie”, the sad tale of the singer coming upon a man down on his luck, drunk and dying in the street. As no-one else will even stop to help the guy, the narrator sings “Dixie” to comfort the stranger as he dies. Very much a fiddle-led piece into which Dwight intersperses the original song “Dixie”, this was a number one hit for Yoakam in the country music charts. As I said at the beginning, more a mature album than his previous two.

Everything kicks right back up then for “The streets of Bakersfield”, with accordion duties being taken for this track by Francisco “Pancho” Zavaleta, and Dwight duetting with his hero, Buck Owens, who also popularised the song altough he did not write it. It's a fast, uptempo bopper, a short song but really leaves an impression when it's over. It was another number one for Dwight. We're back with his original compositions then for “Floyd County”, a mid-paced rocker with some really nice mandolin and guitar, and of course fiddle from Don Reed. Dwight reunites with Maria McKee (whom the uninitiated will only know from the single “Show me Heaven”, but whose debut self-titled album is a total, ignored classic), with whom he duetted on the debut, though on “Send me the pillow” he takes the main vocal and she's more a backing singer really. Nice piano line and some sultry fiddle, then we close on “Hold on to God”, the last original number on the album. It's an uptempo country, almost gospel rocker, which adds an extra layer to the album and finishes it in some style.

Like I say, no-one's going to be converted to country music by listening to Dwight Yoakam, but you can listen to him as a rocker and not feel embarrassed (if you normally do, when listening to country music): he doesn't exude the usual image many country stars do. Yes, he wears the cowboy hat, but then, what self-respecting country rocker would not? But he writes his own material, pays homage to his peers and has up to now eleven albums. This is not the best of them, but it's a pretty darn fine place to start appreciating the man and his music.

TRACKLISTING

1. I got you
2. One more name
3. What I don't know
4. Home of the blues
5. Buenos noches from a lonely room (She wore red dresses)
6. I hear you knockin'
7. I sang Dixie
8. Streets of Bakersfield
9. Floyd County
10. Send me the pillow
11. Hold on to God
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:19 PM   #1084 (permalink)
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When you're young you do stupid things. Well, in fairness when you're old you do stupid things too, but at least you know they're stupid. Back in the mists of my long-forgotten youth, when you had to step lively to avoid being crushed by a tyrannosaur while still keeping a sharp lookout for people on penny-farthing bicycles, I heard “Samba pa ti”, by Santana. Now, no-one will deny it's a beautiful piece of music, a real classic and shows off Carlos' smooth command of the guitar like no other. So I went out and bought the album it was on, “Abraxas”. Not a bad move: it also has the other Santana classic from that era, one of their most famous and biggest hits, “Black magic woman”. So it was a fair bet I'd like it, yes? Well no, not really. I found Santana's brand of jazz and rock fusion married to salsa and other latin American styles to be very much not to my taste. I knew Santana were respected though, and even then I didn't want to look like a dork for not having given it a chance, so I did listen to the album a few times, but never really got it.

So perhaps I just left it at that? Might have been the intelligent thing to do, might have been the coward's way out. Well, in the end I decided I'd give them another shot, and went for “Caravanserai”. Why? Well, a few reasons. It had a cool cover, very mysterious and eastern. Plus I had been reading at the time a lot of sword-and-sorcery/fantasy novels --- the likes of Moorcock, Leiber and Burroughs --- and the idea of a caravanserai appealed to me: the mystery, the danger, the unknown. Looking down at the titles I thought they looked interesting, though in fairness I had already maxxed out my experience of Santana, having bought the album that had on it the only two hits of theirs I knew.

Caravanserai --- Santana --- 1972 (Columbia)


“Caravanserai”, as it turned out, was something of a left turn in direction for Carlos and the guys. First, they went almost completely instrumental. NOT a good thing to try and get into when you're 16 or 17! Also, the style was changing, concentrating more on the arty, experimental side of jazz, and going for more intricate, complicated musical compositions. The first three albums could at least be said to have had a core of rock, but “Caravanserai” dumped that and filtered out all the heavy elements that had characterised Santana's music up to then, leaving the album more an artist's expression than a fan's record. Not surprisingly, it was about here that Santana's commercial appeal began to wane. Add to that the fact that Neal Schon was already thinking about forming a band called Journey, something he would quit the next year to do, and you can forgive him perhaps for not having his head totally in this album, but it does take from it.

None of which I knew when I bought the album, this being long before Wikipedia, Google, itunes or YouTube (yes, there was a time when none of these services were available to us poor record buyers, and we had to make our own decisions, based on recommendations, hearsay, musical knowledge or just dumb luck) existed, and I had no way to know what the album was like. I was therefore a little impatient when the first two songs had come and gone and there was no singing. Now, I wasn't an idiot, even then. Well, let's qualify that: I was an idiot, as all sixteen year olds are. But even then I knew some albums were instrumental, and I even enjoyed some, being a fan of Vangelis, Tomita and Mike Oldfield. But I was unaware that this album was mostly instrumental, and more, it was not the sort of instrumental I liked! Jean-Michel Jarre's “Oxygene”. Vangelis' “To the unknown man”. Oldfield's “Tubular bells”. These were the kind of instrumentals I enjoyed. Electronic, atmospheric, ethereal, what would today be called (and probably is) ambient.

But the instrumental jazz on this album left me absolutely cold. I have never been a fan of jazz music, still do not like it, and to have to listen to a whole album of it, well it was just a little too much to take. I think I found one track I liked and included it on a compilation tape (ask yer dad!) but other than that the album was carefully repacked and left on my shelf to gather dust, until one day when I was desperate for money (as 16-18 year olds almost always are) and sold it with some others to some second-hand record shop, getting nothing like what I had paid for it. I was not sad to see it go, and to be honest, if I'd had to pay someone to take it... well, not quite, but we definitely parted company on frosty terms.

It's been over thirty years since I've listened to that album, so now here I am, back in the Last Chance Saloon to give it one more go. Has time and age made me wiser, more perceptive, more tolerant? I've learned over the intervening years that just because I don't like a particular musical style, genre or band it doesn't mean they're no good. I've opened my musical ears and broadened my musical horizons by listening to artistes I would never have entertained when I was younger. And I've gained a far greater appreciation of the music that is out there, that there is in reality no really bad music, just bad bands or people who think of money first and quality a very distant second. But those who play music because they love it, because it is their life, have to be admired because they are dedicating themselves to the one true happiness in their lives, and trying to make the lives of others richer by passing this on. Surely that has to be applauded?

But maybe I haven't changed enough to appreciate, understand or accept this album. I still don't like jazz, but maybe I remember “Caravanserai” too harshly. Maybe it's not so bad. Maybe it's not so jazz. Maybe I just didn't like it because it failed to live up to my idea of what should be there on the record, maybe I was just disappointed and felt let down, that I had spent my hard-earned money on an album I ended up disliking, and wished I had bought something else instead. Maybe I blamed Santana, for making an album I didn't like, instead of realising that just because I didn't like it, did not necessarily make it a bad album.

Or maybe I'll still hate it. There's only one way to find out.

It opens with the sounds of crickets, which goes on for about forty seconds until it's joined by a wailing saxophone which sounds more like a ship's horn really, then conga drums slowly build in as the suitably hippy-titled “Eternal caravan of reincarnation” begins to get going. Problem as I see it though, even now, is that we're already halfway through the piece and there hasn't really been any appreciable melody, although Santana's guitar is beginning to slide its way in. This is really more like an introduction, an overture to the album, and as such it's pretty much over before it begins, taking us into “Waves within”, a shorter piece. To give Santana their due, there are few if any epic instrumentals, as each track here comes in around the 3-4 minute mark, only the closer hitting the higher figures.

Carried on a thick organ line and at last some proper guitar, this is at least a bit more cohesive, and you can hear the theme beginning to be created. That said, the opener did set the scene, evoking images of desert sands, nights under the stars, caravans of wagons pulled by camels slowly wending their way across the dunes under the blazing unforgiving sun. “Waves within”, however, for want of a better phrase, rocks out much better, most of this being down to Carlos' energetic guitar work, though Michael Shrieves' drums and Jason Mingo Lewis' bongos do also add a lot to the atmosphere, as does Gregg Rolie's organ work.

“Look up (to see what's coming down)” ups the ante even more, Rolie's powerful organ carrying the melody alongside Carlos' squealing guitar lines, a young Neal Schon helping out with some guitar licks of his own. The percussion gets fairly frenzied here, helped along by the organ, the whole tune verging a little into progressive rock territory at times. It fades out on a nice smooth organ with rolling drums, and we're into “Just in time to see the sun”, where Santana's guitar takes on a harder edge and we hear vocals for the first time on the album, which I think are those of Gregg Rolie, as it seems Santana himself only sings on the sixth track.

It's the shortest track on the album, barely two and a half minutes, then deep organ, guitar that would one day be reflected in the work of the likes of Gilmour and Clapton, more congas and bongos usher in “Song of the wind”, which conversely is one of the longer tracks on the album, at around six minutes. There are echoes of the guitar melody from “Samba pa ti” in there, with some lovely, expressive organ from Rolie counterpointing the guitar licks, but the song is essentially a showcase for the talents of the man, and Santana does not disappoint, putting his guitar through its paces in a display of some serious fretwork. No wonder he's so respected, and is such an influence, even now. It's interesting how quickly the six minutes go in: nothing seems strained or overextended, and then we have another vocal track.

“All the love of the universe” is another long track, just shading the eight minute mark, and opens on hard guitar with a rocky edge, some feedback effects, tricky percussion and even blues guitar riffs before settling down into a nice guitar and bass groove before the vocals come in and it then bops along nicely in a sort of latin/jazz beat with prog rock overtones. The jazz fusion experimentation does run a little out of hand on this one though, and I can begin to see where my sixteen-year old self started shaking his head and wondering why he had bought this album. Even now, thirty-three years later, I have to admit I find this boring. It's just uninspiring, something of an ordeal to listen to, and it's only at the four minute mark.

Some nice guitar coming up though, which serves to liven up the piece, and in all honesty it's the first one that's put me back in the shoes of a musically-naive teenager; prior to this, I had been thinking why didn't I like this when I was younger, but now I know. It takes a lot of discipline and effort to listen through this track, despite the super organ solo unleashed by Rolie at around the five minute mark, and as this song basically closed what would have been side one of the original vinyl album, I find myself wondering will side two redeem itself?

I do remember hating “Future primitive”, but let's listen again with the experience of thirty-some years and see if it sounds any better to my ears now. A heavy, spacey synth line opens the piece, humming along with added piano effects, some strummed guitar lines, very like something out of an old seventies science-fiiction movie, until percussion ambles in in the form of bongos, congas and timbales, hitting the whole thing upside the head with a real salsa makeover, though the droning synth remains in the background. It's sort of fading now though, overridden by the heavy, almost joyous percussion that tries to drown out its monotonous, dour dirge.

The piece is almost completely percussion now, as you might expect from a song written by two drummers. In ways, it's like a drum solo but very structured, not just the wild abandon of a drummer “going off on one”. Then, having introduced itself to the melody slowly, it fades out quickly, leaving the droning synth to carry us into “Stone flower”, upbeat organ joining as the drums come back in, bass popping up as if it's just been waiting to be asked to join the party, some sort of chant going on low in the background, then Santana's guitar snaps in, taking the tune. And now vocals begin, almost taking me by surprise. I must admit, although I believed the reverse would be the case, I'm finding that the music creates such a soundscape on its own on this album that vocals almost detract from it, breaking the spell, as it were. This is, at any rate, the last vocalised track.

Opening on a nice solid piano line, “La fuente del ritmo” very quickly gives itself over to fast percussion, mostly bongos, congas and timbales, and the guitar then directs the melody against this backbeat, the drums flying along while the guitar doesn't try to match them for speed, but does keep pace with them musically. Some energetic organ joins in, but it's really only background as Santana takes over the tune, wringing every note he can out of his guitar. Great solo on the electric piano then from Tom Coster, quite mesmerising as the guitar bows and takes a break while Coster and Rolie rack out the melody, even they bowing out and allowing the frenetic percussion to bring the song to its fadeout.

And so we close on the longest track on the album. Nine minutes long, “Every step of the way” is a multi-instrumental epic, opening on sharp guitar and organ, slightly restrained (for once!) percussion, but this, like the last one, is drummer-penned, so expect some big input from the percussion later on. For now, heavy organ alternates with snarling guitar as the song enters its third minute, then the percussion assault begins, as Santana winds up the guitar and lets fly, the bongos and congas rattling along behind him, Rolie's organ doing its best to keep up. Santana also use an orchestra on this track, for the first time, and the effect is really quite stunning, as the strings and brass and woodwinds all join to really flesh out what was already a pretty powerful piece of music.

Santana really goes crazy on the guitar here, giving it all he's got, while the orchestra sedately fills in the gaps, like an old butler picking up after his untidy but brilliant master. By the time we reach the seventh minute, Carlos is out on his own, the drums rushing along to try and catch him, but the man has by now left Earth and is inhabiting some strange, inner place to which only he has the passport. Almost an epiphany to hear what this legendary master of the guitar can do when he wishes to. The orchestra comes back in as the song nears its end and Carlos rejoins us mere mortals on this planet, and the whole thing slowly and sublimely fades away into the distance as the album comes to a close.

I can understand why as a sixteen year old I hated --- well, was disappointed with --- this album. It's the old adage, isn't it, that things improve with age. But that's not to say the album improves; no, it's me that had to age to, not improve, but to better appreciate this record. Now, I'm not saying I love it, but I can very much more “get” it. You have to listen to the nuances of the playing, the way the songs are structured, the tightness of the whole band as a unit, the imagery they create without (mostly) the use of words, lyrics or any vocalisation. That takes skill, dedication and real talent.

The sixteen year old me just wanted to hear good songs. He was too young, too inexperienced, too naïve and too impatient to realise that he was hearing good songs: great songs even. He just needed to open his ears. Well, mine are open now and I can say that this is a fine album. I don't know that I'll listen to it that often after this, but I can say without fear of contradiction that, had I still got it in my vinyl collection, I would definitely think twice now about selling it.

TRACKLISTING

1. Eternal caravan of reincarnation
2. Waves within
3. Look up (to see what's coming down)
4. Just in time to see the sun
5. Song of the wind
6. All the love of the universe
7. Future primitive
8. Stone flower
9. La fuente del ritmo
10. Every step of the way
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:25 PM   #1085 (permalink)
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Old 03-28-2012, 07:27 PM   #1086 (permalink)
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Ah, ye can't beat the old classics, can ye? Here's Gallagher and Lyle, with “Heart on my sleeve”.
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Old 03-29-2012, 12:17 PM   #1087 (permalink)
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Trinity --- Eden's Curse --- 2011 (AFM)


Well, talk about a cosmopolitan band! No, I don't mean they all read mags on how to satisfy your man in bed, idiot! Lead singer and I guess namesake for the band, Michael Eden, is a native of the US of A, while his bandmates Thorsten Kohne (guitar) is from Germany and Alessando Del Vecchio is, from --- anyone? --- yeah, Italy. The two other members of Eden's Curse come from the UK, so that's four nationalities in one band. Interesting. This is their third album, their debut self-titled having been released in 2007. Eden's Curse base themselves in the UK, and are best described as a mix of melodic metal and heavy AOR.

The album kicks off with an instrumental opener, “Trinitas sanctus”. Now, I don't know latin, but I think even I can hazard a decent guess that that translates to “holy trinity”, but it's weird, with spoken vocal lines that seem like they're taken out of some movie or something, someone closing a door, walking upstairs, then a powerful choral vocal and synth, with an aria that seems ripped right out of Arena's “Opera fanatica”, though maybe that was not originally theirs. It's short, only a minute and a half long, but seems totally pointless. Unlike Axxis' “Paradise in flames (intro)” which opens the album of the same name, it's not an overture, it's not an introduction; in fact, if anything, it sounds closest to those rather annoying intermezzos you find on some Kamleot albums. Very confusing.

However, your confusion is quickly forgotten as the title track blasts its way out of the speakers, with tight hooks, catchy melody, powerful AOR-style guitar and banks of keyboards as the song rocks along with perhaps odd lyrical content: ”Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost/ Which is the one you fear the most?” I guess on first listen you might think, hey-ho, another christian metal band, but I don't think that's the case. I don't think Eden's Curse are trying to convert, just using unusual themes in their songs. In any event, it's a powerful opener and certainly gets your attention, with a great guitar solo from Kohne and clear, punchy vocals from Michael Eden, great, well-timed backing vocals too, and then we head into “Saints of tomorrow” (yes, I know, but I'm fairly sure they're not God Squad material), with a short flurry on keys before the guitars take the song in, and then some solid piano backs more excellent close-harmony vocals in another radio-friendly metal song that just has you punching the air and singing the chorus ”We are, we are/ The saints of tomorrow!”

The keys under the control of Allesandro Del Vecchio really carry this song, and I'm gratified to see that Eden's Curse are another band who follow the school of thought that says why play more than one instrument? Just be exceptional on what you're best at. And they are. The solid rhythm section of Pete Newdeck on drums and Paul Logue on bass really do form the backbone of the songs, while Kohne looks after all guitar duties with consummate ease, leaving his keyboard playing bandmate to excel in his chosen instrument. Over it all strides, like some general surveying his troops before the battle, the controlled and disciplined vocals of Michael Eden. Everyone here knows their job, and carries it out to the very best of their ability, leaving no weak links.

The religious imagery continues in “No holy man”, a rock cruncher that stomps and pounds along, kicking up dust as it goes. Great keyboard lines, superb vocal harmonies --- which seem to be one of the main hallmarks of this band --- and carefully timed guitar riffs fashion this song into a real classic. In fact, that seems to be one of the main strengths of Eden's Curse, their almost telepathic sense of timing, each member intuitively aware of exactly when to come in, and when to hold off, in any one song, so that no-one crosses over or grates against anyone else. To demonstrate that understanding, there's some fine interplay here between Kohne and Del Vecchio, and it works perfectly.

But what do metal bands do best, better often than even pop bands? Yep, there's a ballad on the way, denoted by some seriously symphonic keyboard work from our man from Italy, joined by lovely acoustic guitar and then piano, as “Guardian angel” gets under way, Eden proving that though he has without doubt a powerful set of lungs, he is just as capable of reining that voice in and reeling off a tender love song with the finesse and heart of Bon Jovi, Gary Hughes or the late Brad Delp. As ever though, it's the incredible vocal harmonies that really add the extra layer of warmth to this song, fashioning it into something destined for stadiums and rock arenas across the world, should Eden's Curse make the big break that, on the basis of their third album, they deserve.

Powerful, emotional guitar solo from Kohne, a little reminiscent perhaps of Poison's “Every rose has its thorn”, though not in any way copied from it, but it's Del Vecchio's soulful keys and piano that really create the theme on which this song rides along. Should have been a classic. Back to rockin' rollin' and riffin' then with “Can't fool the devil”, some great organ from Signor Del Vecchio powering the track along, Eden's vocal raw and unbridled on a real headbanger, evoking the likes of Axxis, Balance of Power and the great Dio, then “Rivers of destiny” opens on deep, humming synth as the guitar comes up slowly, then Del Vecchio switches to organ and then piano as the song gets going, with snatches of Journey and Bon Jovi in its makeup.

Although respected metal website Encyclopaedia Metallum has Eden's Curse listed as melodic heavy metal, I'm not so sure. For me, they're more in the AOR side of things (and I mean that as a compliment), with the likes of Millenium, Balance of Power and Night Ranger. They are heavy, yes, but I find their melodic elements far outweigh their heaviness, as it were, putting them more in the style of a heavier Bon Jovi or Europe really. But there's no doubt they're one hell of a band, and I wonder why I haven't heard of them before? No, I don't: there are tons of bands out there whom I'm sure are great and I have yet to hear, but you would still think with quality like this they would have at least troubled the charts by now.

Big, heavy guitar opening with accompanying organ riffs to get us into “Dare to be different”, which hops along at a great pace, some lovely keyboard melodies throughout the song, a sumptuous guitar solo from Thorsten Kohne, more flawless vocal harmonies, then we're into “Children of the tide”, with piano, acoustic guitar and flute sounds on the keys which makes this sound like it may be another ballad? Aching vocal from Michael Eden, joined again by those by-now-familiar harmonies, minimal percussion, humming synth... hold on, what's this? Sharp, heavy guitar riffs and the drums come pounding in as the song looks to be taking a left turn...

Yeah, now it's more a cruncher than a ballad. Driven on the dynamic guitar work of Kohne, it's certainly taken off, though I have to admit I could live without the child's voice right at the end. Still, it's a small complaint, and on we go into “Black widow”, a fast rocker with heavy prog overtones and a lot more metal leanings than anything else on the album so far. There's a lot of eastern influences brought to bear on this track too, and you can definitely see the impression Dio have made on these guys, Eden even sounding a little like the great man on this song. Scorching guitar solo propels it along, while the keys keep up a very Night Rangeresque melody behind Kohne's flying fingers on the frets.

Keeping the eastern influences, “Jerusalem sleeps” is another rock cruncher with what sounds like sitar, but is probably made on Del Vecchio's keyboard, and at six and a half minutes it's the longest track on the album. Four minutes in it kicks into second gear, Pete Newdeck's drums firing off a real salvo to take the song to the next level, while Kohne joins in with a precision burst of guitar fire, then it slips back into its previous groove, the perfect vocal harmonies taking the song to its shattering conclusion.

The album ends on a cover, and considering the obvious influence Dio have had on Eden's Curse, it's not that surprising that they choose to cover one of RJD's standards to round off an excellent album. Taken from an album I don't completely rate, it's nevertheless one of the better tracks on “Sacred heart”, and they put in a spirited and fervent rendition of “Rock'n'roll children”. Of course, there's no way anyone will ever sing Dio better than Dio, but it's a very impressive attempt, although I would have preferred one of their own songs to close the album.

Another important find, “Trinity” gives the lie to this myth about downloading music. I would never have known about, or bought, this album except for the fact that I happened to download some guy's metal collection, and within in was this album. Even then, I have listened to little of that collection, and it just so happens I decided on this one to review, hoping it would be good. It wasn't. It was great. But I would never have known about it if it wasn't for those bane of the record label execs, torrents. Now I'm going to buy all their albums, so how can that be seen as exploitation or freeloading? Really, torrents can be a great way to get into new music you wouldn't otherwise have known about, and Eden's Curse are the proof of that theory.

Well, whether you torrent, purchase or borrow a copy of this album, make sure you listen to it, as I firmly believe that bands like Eden's Curse are the future of hard rock and melodic rock. If you ignore my advice here, and fail to hop on this locomotive now, don't be surprised when it hammers through your town and you curse your luck for not having a ticket. All aboard!

TRACKLISTING

1. Trinitas sanctus (intro)
2. Trinity
3. Saints of tomorrow
4. No holy man
5. Guardian angel
6. Can't fool the devil
7. Rivers of destiny
8. Dare to be different
9. Children of the tide
10. Black widow
11. Jerusalem sleeps
12. Rock'n'roll children
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:02 AM   #1088 (permalink)
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Old 03-30-2012, 04:05 AM   #1089 (permalink)
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The worm fancies a bit of a dance --- okay, he doesn't have legs but he can nod his head and wriggle his body, can't he? Perhaps something with a latin American flair? Why not! Here's the Brothers Johnson...
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Old 03-30-2012, 05:23 PM   #1090 (permalink)
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