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Old 10-11-2012, 04:39 PM   #1541 (permalink)
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Yeah that was my impression too. For something billed as "David Gilmour with the Orb", or whatever way they put it, I didn't see him establishing himself as a force within the music, stamping his own identity on it. I'm not saying it could have been any guitarist --- Gilmour has of course his own unique and inimitable style --- but as you say, not the creamfest you would expect, and usually get, with anything that has his name attached. Quite tame, in the end.

I'm not sure about delving into the Orb, at the moment thanks, though their music is interesting; I've just so much else to get through, I wouldn't want you to go making a comp that would then sit on my hard drive for months/years without getting listened to: would seem ungrateful. And yet at the same time I wouldn't want to feel under an obligation to listen to it either, as that might dull the music experience I could have otherwise.

Thanks for the offer though, and always good to see you posting in here!
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Old 10-13-2012, 01:30 PM   #1542 (permalink)
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It is of course no secret that I'm a huge fan of Iron Maiden, but apart from their excellent music and the fact that they bore the standard for metal throughout the eighties and further, they have had some pretty incredible album covers. This is natually down to the artistry of Derek Riggs, who was with them for their first eight albums and created some iconic artwork, including of course the sleeve for “The number of the Beast”, “Killers” and “Powerslave”, but what's perhaps interesting about the cover we're going to feature here is that it was not the work of Mr. Riggs. In fact, it was the first (but not the last) Iron Maiden album to feature a design by Melvyn Grant, whom the guys had turned to in their efforts to “upgrade Eddie for the 90s ... take him from the sort of comic-book horror creature and turn him into something a bit more straightforward so that he became even more threatening .” (from Wikipedia)

And by golly it worked! I mean, Eddie is scary on the covers of all the previous albums, not least of which is “Killers”, where he stands with a bloody axe in his hand and a maniacal grin on his skeletal face, but even so, he does look like a cartoon, a caricature. It's hard to be scared of him (though I was, when I was younger and before I was introduced to Maiden's music), but the creature Grant came up with for the sleeve of this album looks all the more menacing because in many ways he looks more real. And if it's real, or could be real, it's always more terrifying.

No. 7: “Fear of the dark” by Iron Maiden

Unlike many other album covers I've looked at in this section, there is, to be fair, not a whole lot going on here, but that's okay because your eye is drawn right away to Eddie, and it's hard to look away, as there really isn't anything else to see. So you end up staring at him, even if it does make you shiver a little. Well, let's be honest: nobody is really afraid of an album cover, are they? It's just a picture on cardboard. But as a depiction of something from our darkest nightmares, it certainly works.

Taking a closer look, it's not just Eddie perched in a tree, waiting for some unsuspecting passerby to, well, pass by. No, he's actually part of the tree. He's growing out of it. Or is he? You could also postulate that he's being taken into the tree, that it's sucking him into itself and making him part of it. Or even that he is the tree, an extension of it. Whichever way you look at it though, it's a scary picture. How many times have you passed through, or contemplated passing through a dark wood, forest, park, and despite thinking yourself hard there's always been a tiny little quivering voice inside your head that whispers that THERE'S SOMETHING IN THE TREES! Okay, that's not a whisper, but you know what I mean.

We are, genetically, predisposed to feel uneasy in the dark. Some people fear it, some have a phobia about it. It's natural: back in our caveman days, night was when the wild animals prowled with impunity, or our warlike neighbours might use the cover of darkness to attack us. In the dark, we can't see as well as we can in the light, so we're at a disadvantage; things that we could clearly make out in the light don't seem the same. A tree could be an attacker, a rock could be a small animal, the moonlight glinting on grass could be blood. Sounds, too, take on a much more sinister tone at night, or in the dark. Creaks, groans, the wind sighing, animals calling across the fields, voices ... all seem somehow heightened and given new meaning, and our imagination begins to work overtime. Unable to see what things are, our brain can't unequiviocally tell us that they're not what we think or fear them to be, and so we begin to see things that aren't there.

The figure of Eddie perched in, growing out of or whatever, lying in wait in the tree while behind him the full moon casts its pale light upon his ghastly form, is something that speaks to an image buried deep in all our subconciousnesses: the thing hiding under the bed, or in the bushes, or just beyond the range of our vision. The cry in the night, the creaking step, the sound that could be breathing. The horrible, unimaginable and inexplicable terrors that wait in the shadows, outside the strong, high walls of reason and rationality, waiting for a chance, a crack, a fissure in the brick through which they can pour screaming through. All of these things conjure up vistas of fear and panic, and when we go into an area that is dark and seems to harbour danger, our imagination pencils in that danger for us, even if we bravely try to ignore the image.

But Eddie is here, real and ready to drop down and rend whoever walks by. He's some sort of horrible corruption of a dryad, the tree-spirits and nymphs of Greek legend who lived in the forests and made their home in the trees. They were benevolent; Eddie is not. His long, nasty claws are like extensions of the sharper branches of the tree he's hiding in or part of, his wild, unruly hair is like its leaves, his razor teeth are ready to rip and tear, and his eyes are afire with the very light of Hell itself.

Looking at the album cover, there's a very real reason to be afraid of the dark!
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Old 10-14-2012, 08:52 AM   #1543 (permalink)
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Back in ye olden days --- I'm talking really far back, like, before even I was born! Yeah, that far, smartass! --- there were few sights as terror-laden at sea than the plague ship. An outbreak of disease rampant on board and most of the crew likely dead from it, the ship would be avoided like, well, the plague. It could be cholera, typhoid, yellow fever or any of the hundreds of diseases around at the time, many of which (but not all) we can now easily treat, but which back then, around the early nineteeth century we're talking, were lethal and like most diseases of that nature highly contagious, and with usually a quite high mortality rate.

Ships carrying a plague had to stay at sea, flying a special flag that identified them as such so that no-one would come to their rescue and unwittingly contract the disease, thereafter departing and spreading it wherever they went. Not so much quarantine as a death sentence, but back then there was little they could do.

But one thing remained constant about a plague ship: it was to be avoided. If you had to run your ship aground to get away from it, you'd do it. If you had to dive overboard rather than make contact, abandon ship and take your chances in the sea, it was infinitely preferable to joining the crew of what would basically be the walking dead.

And so we come to the idea for this section. There are, occasionally, albums that cross my desk (who does he think he is? “Cross my desk” indeed! Think he's some sort of high-powered executive in a record label? Quiet, you!) that have no merit at all. I try to see the good, if possible, in anything I review, but once in a while I get an album in which I can see nothing interesting, say nothing positive, that just basically sucks. And when those albums --- rare, thankfully, as they are --- come into my possession I will be sticking them here, so as to warn people off listening to them.

Of course, everything is subjective, and what I hate others may love, or at least see some good in. That's taken as read. But within the sphere of my musical experience I usually know if something is going to be worth a second listen, at some point, and if someone may enjoy it where I have not. Certainly though, I can't account for everybody's taste, so as ever if anyone takes offence to any album reviewed in here, believing it shouldn't be, then I'm sorry but I'm going only on my own tastes. I will always try to dig out the positive in any album I review, but occasionally I find this a fruitless quest, and when that happens, the flag is raised and the Plague Ship will set sail.

Dead river --- 19 ADD --- 2009 (Self-released)



Here's how 19 ADD describe themselves on their website: ”19ADD is a Instrumental Progressive Metal Trio that is endlessly, sometimes miraculously clever in blending their influences into a cohesive state of schizophrenia. Effortlessly blending the genres of Technical Metal, Jazz, & Ambient, the Colorado-based group has produced one of the most energetic and unpredictable debuts of 2010, Dead River .” Uh, no.

First off, their album was released in August 2009, so how it can be one the best debuts of 2010 is beyond me. But well apart from that, I found the album to be boring, overblown, super-pretentious and extremely annoying. Now of course, some of you will probably leap to their defence with phrases like “WTF? You just don't get it man!” and so forth, and sure, you're entitled to your opinion, but so am I. Always one to give a band --- particularly a band that describes itself as “progressive”--- a chance, I listened to it but became increasingly frustrated by their attempts to be avant-garde, which really came across to me as just being smug and overconfident in their ability, trying to be oh-so-clever and, in my opinion, failing miserably.

Even looking at the track titles you can see pretention: you'd think they were French or Italian or something, with the titles all seemingly in a foreign language --- “Umari”. “Carnivalium”. “Siddhapur”. --- but they're American. Now that doesn't of course preclude them from using foreign-language tracks on their album, but virtually every track here has some weird title, and added to the overblown description above and the (frankly baseless and unsupported) claim about their debut, it leads me to believe that 19 ADD should possibly be called 19 ASS, as they clearly have their heads up there.

So let's go through it track by track, shall we, and see if I'm over, or understating my impression here. Opener “Siddhapur” is what becomes typical of 19 ADD: just under one minute of, well, nothing really. Electronic sounds, effects and what sounds like a cat, then we're into the first “musical” track, “Diadem”, which to be fair isn't too bad. Guitar mostly with some decent drumming, but generally going nowhere for nearly four minutes, then “Spoim” (where do they get these words from?) is, well, pretty much a continuation of the previous track, with hard guitar, cracking drums and no real idea of where the tune is going, as far as I can see.

Thankfully, “Patan” is only forty seconds long (wish the others were too!) and is just a pile of sound samples put together alongside a piano melody of the simplest kind, then “First world paine” breaks out the guitars again, and while I can't fault the playing it seems to be so confused, too expressionist, too experimental and with no direction or point at all. Also, as I mentioned 19 ADD seem to shy away from normal English words to title their tracks; although “Diadem” is a real word, and there are one or two others, here they can't say “First world pain”: they have to add an extra “e”, presumably to make it look mysterious or intellectual, both points on which they fail. They do the same on the next one. I just don't see the point, unless they really are that pretentious that they think it matters.

Maybe I'm just not cut out for “experimental post-metal”, as Progarchives.com describes their music, but I've heard bands do this much, much better. And So I Watch You From Afar have it down pat, and Ki's mates, Pg. Lost also do it well, but here it just seems to be all over the place, almost like listening to a very extended jam session, and any moment you expect them to kick into the real music. It almost happens on “Sailing blinde”, when they rack off a decent jazz style metal melody with some nice introspective guitar, but then it changes halfway through and I just get confused. More sound samples that just seem to bear no relationship to the music, and then we're into a confused mess of sound and well, just noise really as the song tumbles towards its conclusion.

The only thing I can say about “Slomosexual” is that at least it's a funny title! The longest track on the album (gods preserve us!), it runs for a staggering eight and a half minutes, and is pure torture to me. Guitars whine, growl, pound and savage all through the track, but nothing comes together, as I've begun to realise is the major problem with this band. Lots of ideas, some good, but shockingly badly executed, almost as if they think people will listen to anything. Perhaps they're the ultimate poseur band: if they get famous (stranger things have happened, though not many: that horse becoming pope, for one) then everyone will listen to them and pretend they like them, when in fact all that's here is, to be brutally honest, pretentious bull**** masquerading as proper music.

I mean, a whole minute of this is just one held chord and a noise that sounds like a machine, a helicopter, a fan, something just running. Then it stops completely, and an admittedly better guitar melody take over, which is in fact probably the most musical thing on the album, but by now there's only about a minute and a half to go to the end. At least “Umari” is only fifty-six seconds long, and it's more stupid sounds and effects, then “Tendre Crotch Playe” is another hard guitar piece, sounds a least a little rocky and with something of an idea in there somewhere, “Danta” is just over a minute of sound samples, mostly one half of a telephone conversation underneath a synth babble; extremely annoying, and “Carnivalium” is mostly a jazz/funk piece with again ideas all over the place but no real cohesion. I'd have to say something this band are sorely lacking is discipline. If they could put their ideas together better perhaps they might come up with something decent, but as it is it's just fire off riffs, pound the drums and mash it all together with no concern about how it will all sound.

It sounds, generally, terrible.

More industrial noises in “Jamhuri”, another short little less-than-a-minute track, then the second-longest track, just a few seconds over five minutes, is “Saudade”, but it's a retreading of everything that's gone before, bar the samples and noises: I really would find it hard to separate one of these tracks from the others and identify one. More pointless noises, effects and ambient samples in “Khapan” and we finally (and in my case, gratefully) end on “Bikharni”, with what sounds like sitar, more samples, voices, effects, and the last minute is basically just a roaring synth effect and some notes thrown in.

Man, am I glad that's over! Sure, some of you will think this is “ground-breaking”, or maybe “innovative” or perhaps just “****ing cool!” but I don't. It's not my kind of music but even then, I'm prepared to accept when it isn't, but is still recognisably good. I can't see any good in this album at all. It just angers and frustrates me when I play it, and once I've completed this review I'll be hitting the “delete” key on its folder and getting rid of it forever, just in case I accidentally include it in any future playlist. I don't want to hear it. Not ever again. The, to me, lack of not musicianship, but thought and structure in this album is made even worse by the grandiose claims the band make on their website, and since that quote is not attributed to anyone I have to assume these are their own words. And self-praise is, after all, no praise.

19 ADD have a new album released last year. I'm thinking carefully as to whether I give them another chance and see if they can get any more cohesive and actually write something I can listen to, or not. I do find myself wondering if the ADD in their name is to be taken literally, as they really don't seem to be able to concentrate on one idea for long. On their website, should you want it, you can download their albums for “whatever price you want to pay”. Personally, even free would be too much a price for me: they'd have to pay me to download this.

No, if this particular plague ship is spotted anywhere near my home port, I'll be replying with a salvo of cannon: let them take their diseased excuse for music somewhere else!

TRACKLISTING

1. Siddhapur
2. Diadem
3. Spoim
4. Patan
5. First world paine
6. Sailing blinde
7. Slomosexual
8. Umari
9. Tendre crotch playe
10. Danta
11. Carnivalium
12. Jamhuri
13. Saudade
14. Khapan
15. Bikari
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Old 10-16-2012, 12:54 PM   #1544 (permalink)
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They're back! Who, I hear you ask excitedly? Guns N Roses? Sigur Ros? Joe Schmoe and His Amazing Telegraphic Counter Symphony? Er, no.

Men Without Hats.
Who?
Men Without Hats. You know...
Oh yes, that “Safety dance” thing.

Yeah. Mention this band and that's the first, indeed only thing that leaps to everyone's mind, mine included. Not that anyone can be blamed: “The safety dance” was their biggest, and in fact only hit way back in 1983, which hit the spot all over the world and became one of those odd one-hit-wonders that everyone loves, then totally loses interest in any followup. In fact, they had another small hit single in 1987, but “Pop goes the world”, though it hit the top twenty in the USA, did nothing over this side of the water, so they're still remembered here, if at all, for “The safety dance”.

But who are they, these gentlemen who dare to venture out into the weather without adequate headgear? I don't know, but I know someone who does, and this is what I've found out about them. They're from Canada (betcha didn't know that! I didn't...) and whether you can believe it or not they've had six albums prior to this, and, wait for this, FIVE compilation albums! For a band who have only been around since the early 80s and only had the one real hit single, that's not bad: many bands who've been household names for twice that have only half as many greatest hits packages. Of course, most of these are very similar and two of them, the first two, released a year apart, are exactly the same, track for track! See my “Pet Hates” feature for a rant on this.

Men Without Hats are basically the brainchild of singer Ivan Doroschuk, who remains today the only original member of the band. After their initial success with their debut “Rhythm of youth”, which spawned the hit single, MWH's fortunes took a dive and it seemed a clear case of becoming too popular too soon. Though they released another four albums none did well, and in 1991 Ivan disbanded the group. They reformed in 2010, though really it was and is just Ivan with session men. This then is the band that recorded and released what has become their seventh album.

Love in the age of war --- Men Without Hats --- 2012 (Cobraside)


So who cares about this album? Probably, to be fair, no-one. I doubt you could stop anyone on the street who would know any MWH song other than the obvious, and fewer yet who would have, or admit to having, any of their albums. But for the novelty factor alone, the fact that they're back, and the fact that “The safety dance” has a small special little place in my heart, I felt I had to buy this and review it, just to see if it's any good. After all, expectations are low, and as an Aston Villa fan, I know all about that! What have we to lose? Let's dive in. Oh, and leave your hat at the door please. It won't be required.

It's like stepping back in time to the eighties as “Devil come round” gets the album started, with thumpy drum machines and sprightly synthesisers, a real bopper and it seems Doroschuk's voice hasn't suffered in the interim. I'd say it's still recognisable, but there's really only that one song to compare it to, and to be honest, it sounds a little lighter to me than it was on the single. Good opener though, quite rocky in its way though definitely synth-driven. Even moreso is the very new romantic “Head above water”, which kicks up the tempo considerably, and “Everybody knows” keeps the basic speed up with another synth-heavy tune with some nice brassy effects.

Nice female backing vocals, but my only gripe would be that so far it all sounds pretty much the same: fast, uptempo dancy synthpop, and “This war”, which for some reason I had expected to be different, well, isn't and just keeps the basic idea running. It's hard to pick out a real standout; there are good tracks but nothing that really shakes me by the throat and says “Look at me!” It's not wallpaper music, but it's an album I doubt I'd be going out of my way to listen to again, and I don't see it smashing the charts any time soon. There's a sense of almost seventies disco to “Your beautiful heart”, which does take the tempo down slightly, but it's kicked right back up again with more squealing synths with “Live and learn”, with a definite feel of OMD, Flock of Seagulls and many other eighties new wave/synthpop bands.

Finally things slow down and there's an almost blues ballad in “Close to the sun”, though it's still synths that rule here, with some nice echoey handclap-style drums and a fifties-style melody, quite simple and pure. “Love's epiphany”, however, fires everything back up to ten again before the title track sort of straddles the divide and provides a decent closer to an album which, while it's not exactly going to start a revolution or shift many of the older albums, may make one or two people look a little more closely into the music of this interesting synthpop band.

Personally, it's not my kind of music and I feel this will be the only time I'll listen to the album. I liked “The safety dance”, but then, didn't everyone? Getting those who are not already fans to listen to this album may prove difficult in today's musical environment, but for those who take the plunge and like this sort of music, they're likely to be pleasantly surprised. Personally, I think I'll keep my hat on thanks.

TRACKLISTING

1. Devil come round
2. Head above water
3. Everybody knows
4. The girl with the silicon eyes
5. This war (intro)
6. This war
7. Your beautiful heart
8. Live and learn
9. Close to the sun
10. Love's epiphany
11. Love in the age of war
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Old 10-17-2012, 02:57 PM   #1545 (permalink)
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Well-written reviews on forums stand out like water coolers on Mars and I noticed yours when I first signed here. Here are some observations, for what they are worth, after reading the first six pages or so. If you want a moderator to wipe these, I won't be offended.

1. Night Owl - Anyone who takes the time to review a Gerry Rafferty album, especially the follow-up to City to City instead of the famous record itself, must be worth their salt.
2. Shadow Gallery - A strong alternative to Dream Theater (or should I say stronger when considering Vanden Plas?).
3. A-ha - Another interesting choice. In the mid to late eighties, they were the band that young girls were obsessing over. I heard members of XTC enthusing about the band, when they were reviewing the Living Daylights single, on a radio show, and I nver saw A-ha in the same way again. I bought a secondhand version of the Stay On These Roads album, produced by Alan Tarney, and loved Out of Blue Comes Green. I think Shapes That Go Together (1994) is a great single too.
4. Gary Hughes - I first heard Hughes and Ten on the title track from Spellbound, which included on a free compilation CD attached to a magazine. I would never have heard them otherwise, but was immediately impressed even if they sounded a bit like 1987-era Coverdale.
5. Rainbow Rising. Great album - enough said.
6. Oceanic - I bought this secondhand recently. Used CDs can represent good buys, as this one probably hadn't been played. I'll have to give it another listen.
7. Savatage - I saw them on the Raw Power/ Noisy Mothers TV show in the early nineties and was impressed. I obtained their most highly rated album, Streets - A Rock Opera (1991), but was underwhelmed. Somewhere, I am going wrong with this band.
8. Fish - I can recommend the Internal Exile album, for Credo.
9. The Penny's beginning to drop: shops in Dublin, The Adventures, Divine Comedy and Thin Lizzy. You're Irish aren't you? You can't keep it from me. I always thought Broken Land was a great record. Hoslips, who are from the republic, are one of my favourite groups and among the first I saw live.
10. Fugazi - The analysis of the album cover art is a GREAT idea. I hope you don't mind me copying that idea at some future stage. Re Billboard magazine, Fish was a rock music fan and admitted to recording Alan Freeman's Saturday Rock Show on BBC Radio One (which is why he did not object to Marillion boots). There may be no more to this than he read Billboard magazine as a fan.
11. The early frustration at your lack of comments I can empathise with, but a lot of people read without contributing. I know a person that reliably claims never to comment on reviews, although they read them all the time.
12. Interesting that you analysed the lyrics to Fact and Fiction, when I did not try for the record club post. Maybe familiarity brings knowledge of lyrics.

Last edited by Big Ears; 10-18-2012 at 01:54 PM. Reason: Got Internal Exile album and Credo track muddled.
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:31 PM   #1546 (permalink)
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Hi there BE and welcome to my journal! Thanks so much for posting: it really means a lot. Here are my, er, comments on your comments, as it were... don't know why you thought I might want them wiped, nothing wrong with a single one, and all very well thought out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Ears View Post
Well-written reviews on forums stand out like water coolers on Mars and I noticed yours when I first signed here. Here are some observations, for what they are worth, after reading the first six pages or so. If you want a moderator to wipe these, I won't be offended.

1. Night Owl - Anyone who takes the time to review a Gerry Rafferty album, especially the follow-up to City to City instead of the famous record itself, must be worth their salt.
I've always been a big Gerry fan, though I'd be lying if I said my interest predated "Baker Street". I heard that and just had to have more. Think I got "Night owl" second hand, but I love that album. It's not perfect, but for a Gerry record it comes pretty damn close. Another great one from him is "North and south", and although I don't totally rate it, "Sleepwalking" has some decent tracks on it, especially the opener and closer. You'll find a review of "Snakes and ladders" a LONG way into my journal, if you get that far, and a tribute to him, too, on the anniversary of his death. What a sad loss to music.
Quote:
2. Shadow Gallery - A strong alternative to Dream Theater (or should I say stronger when considering Vanden Plas?).
The first time I heard SG I was just completely wiped off the face of the Earth. It was "Room V" and I loved it. Got all their albums and, aside from their somewhat shaky debut, love them all. One of my favourite bands in that subgenre, along with Threshold.
Quote:
3. A-ha - Another interesting choice. In the mid to late eighties, they were the band that young girls were obsessing over. I heard members of XTC enthusing about the band, when they were reviewing the Living Daylights single, on a radio show, and I nver saw A-ha in the same way again. I bought a secondhand version of the Stay On These Roads album, produced by Alan Tarney, and loved Out of Blue Comes Green. I think Shapes That Go Together (1994) is a great single too.
I used to take great pleasure laughing at my sister's infatuation with Morton Harkett, till I started REALLY listening to their albums. I think I got "Scoundrel days" second hand and cheap and was just amazed by how brilliant it was. I got their next one, "Stay on these roads", but didn't think it was as good. I more or less stopped then, but had a recent resurgence in interest in a-ha and got all their albums. They're not all perfect, but many of them are so much better than generally people give them credit for. I do an in-depth profile on them later in the journal too.
(Have to say, I've never heard of that single: it's not from an album, is it? I don't recognise the title..)
Quote:
4. Gary Hughes - I first heard Hughes and Ten on the title track from Spellbound, which included on a free compilation CD attached to a magazine. I would never have heard them otherwise, but was immediately impressed even if they sounded a bit like 1987-era Coverdale.
Like many of the bands I got into, Ten came about from a recommendation from a then-grey-area-illegal album download website who would provide "if you liked that you may also be interested in these" service, and Ten's album "Far beyond this world" was there. I downloaded, listened, loved it and Ten became another of my favourite bands that, sadly, few people even know of. I wasn't that impressed with their latest though, as you'll see later on...
As for Gary, I loved "Once and future king" (as you surely read) but other albums of his have been VERY hit-and-miss. I wouldn't mind hearing some new material though. The guy can certainly write one hell of a ballad.
Quote:
5. Rainbow Rising. Great album - enough said.
Indeed. Total classic.
Quote:
6. Oceanic - I bought this secondhand recently. Used CDs can represent good buys, as this one probably hadn't been played. I'll have to give it another listen.
You definitely should listen to this; it's perfect to relax to.
Quote:
7. Savatage - I saw them on the Raw Power/ Noisy Mothers TV show in the early nineties and was impressed. I obtained their most highly rated album, Streets - A Rock Opera (1991), but was underwhelmed. Somewhere, I am going wrong with this band.
Yeah, the jury's kind of still out on them. Other than the one reviewed I haven't heard much else by them, though I'm impressed by TSO, who have a new album due out soon.
Quote:
8. Fish - I can recommend the Credo album.
This is one I'm not familiar with. I thought I had all Fish's stuff?
Quote:
9. The Penny's beginning to drop: shops in Dublin, The Adventures, Divine Comedy and Thin Lizzy. You're Irish aren't you? You can't keep it from me. I always thought Broken Land was a great record. Hoslips, who are from the republic, are one of my favourite groups and among the first I saw live.
Yes, I am indeed Irish. Born in, and lived in Dublin all my life.
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10. Fugazi - The analysis of the album cover art is a GREAT idea. I hope you don't mind me copying that idea at some future stage.
Sure. We'll work out some sort of partnership deal...
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11. The early frustration at your lack of comments I can empathise with, but a lot of people read without contributing. I know a person that reliably claims never to comment on reviews, although they read them all the time.
This I came to understand. It was annoying at first, thinking I'm doing all this work but is anyone reading? Comment, damn you all! Then one day I happened to glance at the "views" count and saw that people obviously WERE reading, just not commenting. Now I don't worry; I know people read what I write. If I get comments that's a bonus now, but I at least know I'm not wasting my time. Plus my journal has been praised in other sections of the forum, so I'm definitely not preaching to an empty church!
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12. Interesting that you analysed the lyrics to Fact and Fiction, when I did not try for the record club post. Maybe familiarity brings knowledge of lyrics.
Yeah I often do that. I like to know what a song means, the ideas behind it, and especially if it's a prog rock one. They're the most interesting of all. I started a section called "More than words" which looks at the meanings of certain songs, and another favourite of mine, Tom Waits, has his own section of something similar, called "The Word according to Waits."

Again, thanks for taking the time to comment, and it's great to see your own journal doing so well. It'll certainly be mentioned in this week's update thread!

TH
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Old 10-18-2012, 05:54 PM   #1547 (permalink)
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No sleep till Hammersmith --- Motorhead --- 1981 (Bronze)


Ah, Motorhead! The darlings of the club circuit, the people in whose company to be seen, the ones you want to be seen on the golf course with... er, yeah. Motorhead have always had a certain endearing charm, but they do polarise opinion. To those who don't know their music, they're simply loud and nasty, uncouth and rough. To those who have experienced their output though, they're loud and nasty, uncouth and ... um.

Look, Motorhead are never ever going to be fashionable, nor would they want to be. In many ways, they're the epitome of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, even though they precede it by a few years. They also have pedigree, and impressive pedigree at that. Lemmy was previously with space rockers Hawkwind, and, er, that's it. Well, okay, so they don't have that much pedigree. Still, nobody cares. They do what they do and eff any who tries to stop them, or put them down. I recall a cartoon years and years ago in Kerrang! when Brian Robertson joined them, briefly replacing “Fast” Eddie Clarke. It showed Brian reeling off a tuneful solo (depicted by a flow of notes from his guitar) with Taylor remarking with a disdainful grin to Lemmy, “'ere, 'e a bit melodic, inn'e?” Sort of sums up Motorhead really.

No-one would ever use the words restrained, gentle, ballad or my favourite, introspective, in hearing distance of these guys. They play loud and they play fast. When they're not playing loud and fast, they play loud and fast. But to be fair, occasionally they will play loud and fast. They make most metal bands seem tame by comparison. Now I'm no huge fan of them --- I like, as I've mentioned in the episodes of “The Meat Grinder” (TM) that I've run so far, to be able to make out what's being sung and played. In Taylor's words, someone who's a bit melodic --- but I do think they're enormous fun and a real British, and indeed Heavy Metal, institution. And there's no grey areas with them. Let's face it: no-one's going to pretend they're a blues band, or a heavy rock band. Metal is in their blood, and they embrace it, always.

Most people like me, who have heard only the odd Motorhead album, would naturally gravitate towards reviewing their most famous, which yielded the only hit they ever had commercially and which is the only song anyone not familiar with them, or even metal, will know or will at least have heard of. But I personally found “Ace of spades” uninspiring. I didn't really know why until this one came along, and then it clicked: for me, and possibly for a lot of people, Motorhead are not a studio band. Somewhat like someone mentioned about Kiss, you pay to hear them live. It's on stage that they deliver, and listening to their studio albums generally tends to leave me cold.

But out there when Lemmy's treadin' the boards and the Bomber is droning overhead, tens of thousands of metalheads screaming and punching the air and headbanging: that's when Motorhead are a force to be reckoned with, and in many ways they're almost unapproachable when they turn it on. Almost literally. I recall when Ireland has its one and only metal festival, back in the mid-eighties, and Motorhead were on the bill. I had to move away from the stage, up a hill to where the band could barely be seen, and my ears were still bleeding! Not only that, I still couldn't discern anything but noise. But that didn't matter. It was loud, it was dirty and it was fun.

Which is, I think, why their first live album shot to number one when released, and why it's still held in such high regard. Yes, the popularity of “Ace of spades” and the burgeoning NWOBHM helped, but at its heart, this is an album that shows a band who go on stage and give it their all, and to hell with anyone who has a problem with it. You don't so much listen to Motorhead as experience them, and this is one hell of an experience.

It starts, rather predictably, with the big hit, the one everyone knows, and to be fair “Ace of spades” sounds great live, thrashing along as you would expect, Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor bashing away at the drumkit like his muppet alter-ego on speed, Lemmy's voice loud and proud over the crowd (how's that for a triple rhyme?), while Eddie Clarke shows us in no uncertain terms why he appends “Fast” to his name. Next up is “Stay clean”, which has a lot of Steppenwolf's “Born to be wild” about it, with a fine solo from Mister Clarke. It is in fact just a smidge slower than “Ace of spades”, though not too much: Motorhead have never really done slow. It's also short; Motorhead don't do long either. No epics for them!

“Metropolis” has an almost (almost!) progressive guitar intro, then pounds away into another, again somewhat slower cruncher, Motorhead's view of the future facing us and Eddie making that guitar do things it was surely never intended to do! Lemmy announces that “The Hammer” is dedicated to “little Philbert” (!) and we're back rocking at full speed. Lemmy has always managed to straddle that fine line between a gravelly but distinct voice, and death growls, but of what I've heard from him, I've always been able to understand (mostly) what he sings, and would put him in a separate class of his own really. There's menace and yet humour in his voice, almost as if he's just up there to have a ****ing good time, and if youze guys want to come along for the ride that's fine, if not then **** off!

“Iron horse/Born to lose” is then dedicated to “all the angels in here”, presumably the bikers, and is of course a heavy, powerful ode to those who stride the steel stallion, as the boys show the other metal bands how it's done. A bluesy little solo from Clarke just adds the final touch, even if it does get a tiny bit confused and wanders off near the end! A real blues boogie then for “No class” then Phil takes centre stage for the breakneck (snapneck?) “Overkill”, which I've always thought has an awful lot of “Ace of spades” in it, very similar in melody. Yeah, I said melody: what of it? As Lemmy says in the lyric here: shut up! It's pretty long: in fact, it's only one single second short of being the longest track, with a great jam in the middle that takes up pretty much the last minute and a half of the song, and showcases Motorhead at their best.

I'm not sure, but Motorhead may be the only band ever to acknowledge their roadies in song --- I am wrong, of course: didn't Jackson Browne do that in “The load out”? --- and here their tribute to their hardworking grunts who set them up and make sure everything's working, and then break it all down after the show for it to be moved to the next gig roars out like a prayer and a battlecry: “(We are) The Road Crew” has since become a staple of their show and a favourite with fans the world over. Opening with a Led Zep style riff it quickly takes off on Clarke's frenzied guitar and Taylor's pounding drumming with Lemmy bellowing his throat out.

Let's be perfectly honest here: reviewing the individual songs on “No sleep till Hammersmith” doesn't really work, because Motorhead are not really about diversity or originality, which is not to say their music is poor, but it does suffer from something of a sameness, at least for someone who isn't familiar with much of their recorded output. But that's not really important, as tracks like “Capricorn” --- which Lemmy inexplicably introduces as “a slow one”, when it's nothing of the sort! --- and the crowd-pleaser “Bomber” fly by in a blur of riffs, thuds and feedback accompanied by a gruff growl and roar of approval from the audience. The important thing is the atmosphere created by the band and the fans together, so that a big arena (it's Newcastle, not Hammersmith, despite the title) seems almost like someone's front room, or at least a big back garden, and an unaccountable sense of intimacy pervades the concert.

Although my own only live experience with Motorhead was, as already mentioned, something of an endurance test, I think that can probably be put down mostly to crappy sound equipment onstage, as most of the other bands sounded pretty poor too. From the sounds of what's going on here though, I would have loved to have seen them perform live in a proper venue, because at its heart it sounds fun. The songs are all eaten up by the audience, many of whom probably only knew “Ace of spades”, but again it didn't matter. Everyone was there to have a good time, and by the sounds of it a good time was had by all, band included.

The album closes on Motorhead's title song, and everyone surely goes home happy. There are no pretensions on this album, and none in the band. They know they're loud, dirty, uncouth and completely unfashionable, and hell but they like it that way. Unapologetically heavy metal, unreservedly louder than most wars, and rockers to the core, you'd go a long way to find a band who are more fun live than Motorhead. You should have this album in your collection: it's even listed in the book “1001 albums you must hear before you die.” Now that's a recommendation!

TRACKLISTING

1. Ace of spades
2. Stay clean
3. Metropolis
4. The Hammer
5. Iron horse/Born to lose
6. No class
7. Overkill
8. (We are) The Road Crew
9. Capricorn
10. Bomber
11. Motorhead
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Old 10-19-2012, 02:53 AM   #1548 (permalink)
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More ramblings after reading up to page 12 or so:

13. Alan Parsons - I wasn't aware of Alan Parsons' work without the Project, although I know Eric Woolfson made his own albums. You are right to focus on Ian Bairnson, who, like Nicky Hopkins, is a musician who does not always get the credit he deserves. On the subject of friendly fire, I know a person who was a soldier in the middle-east and he said they feared FF more than the Taliban!
14. Fleetwood Mac - I liked Fleetwood Mac with Rick Vito and Billy Burnette. They were very good live and included well-known Peter Green material in their set. They are nothing if not adaptable, because even the album without Christine Perfect is pretty good, although Stevie Nicks said she would not make another Fleetwood Mac album without her. Christine Perfect's work with Chicken Shack is worth a listen (a good example is I'd Rather Go Blind).
15. Mostly Autumn - I played Passengers a lot when it was released. Again, I got a free copy with a magazine. I almost suggested the new album for the record club.
16. Pink Floyd - I am a Pink Floyd fan and a fan of the band without Roger Waters. There are those of us who do not think they missed him at all. On the other hand, Rick Wright was essential to the sound of Pink Floyd and probaby Dave Gilmour's solo work. I love The Division Bell and if you do too, listen to Gimour's Live in Gdansk with Rick Wright. Rick's Wet Dream album is surprisingly good, even though it hit the bargain bins almost immediately after release. I'll stop now, because I could go on and on about Rick's treatment at the hands of Roger Waters.
17. Billy Joel - Agree that the Stranger is him at his best.
18. ELO - Journalists claimed that Discovery was disco-very or very disco, but it's not as bad as they implied. I have got Out of the Blue, but I am a really a fan of the late Move and early ELO. California Man and 10538 Overture were among my first ever records.
19. Boston - Third Stage was the last proper Boston album. Their first was close to perfect, so it was difficult to follow, but Don't Look Back rewards persistence. Brad Delp has a glorious voice and, in my opinion, is the best American rock singer.
20. Trollheart's Handy Guide to Twentieth Century Music Technology - Another great idea and epic in its ambition!
21. Judy Tzuke - I like the Secret Agent album (1998), which contains Bully, but I have not been able to track it down.
22. Molly Hatchet - Great album. The current version of the band is disappointing.
23. Fairyland - The name reminds me of Pink Fairies and Pretty Maids. They were good too.
24. Phil Lynott - His last band, Grand Slam, were underrated for some reason. There were no limits to what he could have acheived had he lived.
25. Y&T - The Black Tiger title-track has one of the all time great intros.
26. Millenium - You said you were a spelling Nazi. Me too, unless I'm making the error of course - and then it's down to mis-typing!

Previously, I got muddled with the track Credo from the album Internal Exile. Shapes That Go Together by A-ha was not on an album, but appeared on a couple of later compilations. It was released around the same time as Pink Floyd's Keep Talking from The Division Bell.

Last edited by Big Ears; 10-19-2012 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 10-19-2012, 09:48 AM   #1549 (permalink)
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I can't get over your tribute section to Gary Moore.........it's unbelievable! It goes on for pages. So after being exhausted trolling through it (excuse the pun) I should be recommencing your journal again around page 100 where the tribute has ended.
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If you can't deal with the fact that there are 6+ billion people in the world and none of them think exactly the same that's not my problem. Just deal with it yourself or make actual conversation. This isn't a court and I'm not some poet or prophet that needs everything I say to be analytically critiqued.
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Old 10-19-2012, 10:52 AM   #1550 (permalink)
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Thanks man, these are the sort of comments I love to hear! Even if they're neagative, they give me an idea whether I'm doing something right or wrong. Okay, these sections are a year old, but it's still great to hear them, and if you continue as US began doing this too, then I should have a pretty decent view of how my journal is seen by two eminently respected posters. It's appreciated, and I think it's only fair I comment, again, on your comments below.

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Originally Posted by Big Ears View Post
More ramblings after reading up to page 12 or so:

13. Alan Parsons - I wasn't aware of Alan Parsons' work without the Project, although I know Eric Woolfson made his own albums. You are right to focus on Ian Bairnson, who, like Nicky Hopkins, is a musician who does not always get the credit he deserves. On the subject of friendly fire, I know a person who was a soldier in the middle-east and he said they feared FF more than the Taliban!
Alan Parsons' first two solo albums are legendary: "Try anything once" is just amazing and I think you're looking at the review for "On air" there, so you'll see I love that too. Unfortunately, I found "The time machine" to be a big disappointment, with the exception of one track maybe, and his new one, "A valid path", I have not yet listened to although I have it. The APP album released by Woolfson under the title "The Alan Parsons Project that never was", containing unreleased and rejected material, is, to use an Americanism I hate, awesome. I miss that guy. He was as instrumental to the success and quality of the APP as was Alan himself.
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14. Fleetwood Mac - I liked Fleetwood Mac with Rick Vito and Billy Burnette. They were very good live and included well-known Peter Green material in their set. They are nothing if not adaptable, because even the album without Christine Perfect is pretty good, although Stevie Nicks said she would not make another Fleetwood Mac album without her. Christine Perfect's work with Chicken Shack is worth a listen ( a good sexample is I'd Rather Go Blind).
Yes! Finally, someone who doesn't lambast Mac without Buckingham. I thought "Behind the mask" was a solid album, but everyone else I've spoken to seems to hate it, for some reason. I also have heard the Legendary Christine Perfect album (had it on vinyl at one stage, may still do: must look) and I've heard her version of "I'd rather go blind". It is great.
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15. Mostly Autumn - I played Passengers a lot when it was released. Again, I got a free copy with a magazine. I almost suggested the new album for the record club.
Maybe for the next one around. I love MA, have all their stuff and just couldn't get enough of them once I discovered their music. In fact, for about six months, maybe longer, they were ALL I listened to. At all. I had to literally force myself to stop listening to their music exclusively. I have the new one but have not yet listened to it. Come to think of it, I have yet to give "Go well diamond heart" a spin. Check list. Move up list. Done.
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16. Pink Floyd - I am a Pink Floyd fan and a fan of the band without Roger Waters. There are those of us who do not think they missed him at all. On the other hand, Rick Wright was essential to the sound of Pink Floyd and probaby Dave Gilmour's solo work. I love The Division Bell and if you do too, listen to Gimour's Live in Gdansk with Rick Wright. Rick's Wet Dream album is surprisingly good, even though it hit the bargain bins almost immediately after release. I'll stop now, because I could go on and on about Rick's treatment at the hands of Roger Waters.
I never get that. Why do people divide themselves into camps of "before and after so-and-so left"? It's the same thing with Marillion. I was no fan of Floyd with Syd, but I loved everything from about "Animals" on, and when Roger left, not only did I continue to listen to Floyd, I bought his solo CDs, which were all great --- except "Ca ira". That blows. Talk about self-indulgent tripe.
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17. Billy Joel - Agree that the Stranger is him at his best.
My favourite of his albums by a long way.
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18. ELO - Journalists claimed that Discovery was disco-very or very disco, but it's not as bad as they implied. I have got Out of the Blue, but I am a really a fan of the late Move and early ELO. California Man and 10538 Overture were among my first ever records.
I think it was Richard Tandy who actually said that, and when you listen to it in that context, yeah it is quite disco. But I still love it. One of my first ever albums. I also love the older stuff, back to about "On the third day", though if I had to pick a favourite it would probably be "El Dorado" or "Out of the blue", hard to choose between those two.
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19. Boston - Third Stage was the last proper Boston album. Their first was close to perfect, so it was difficult to follow, but Don't Look Back rewards persistence. Brad Delp has a glorious voice and, in my opinion, is the best American rock singer.
Boston would never, and will never, equal the debut, but "Third stage" was certainly better than "Don't look back". I wasn't too impressed with their albums after that though: there's a mini-review of "Corporate America" in my "Bitesize" journal, if you're interested. Oh, and sadly that should of course be Brad Delp WAS the best American rock singer, which I would certainly agree with.
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20. Trollheart's Handy Guide to Twentieth Century Music Technology - Another great idea and epic in its ambition!
Ha ha! Thanks! Just thought, I'm nearing 50 and some of this tech I talk about in my journal might be confusing the younger readers --- a tape? What's a tape? So I thought why not?
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21. Judy Tzuke - I like the Secret Agent album (1998), which contains Bully, but I have not been able to track it down.
I'm PM it to ya! Glad to meet another Judie fan!
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22. Molly Hatchet - Great album. The current version of the band is disappointing.
This is kind of the only MH album I know, so can't comment there. Love that southern rock though!
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23. Fairyland - The name reminds me of Pink Fairies and Pretty Maids. They were good too.
Yeah, can you believe a metal band took that name?
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24. Phil Lynott - His last band, Grand Slam, were underrated for some reason. There were no limits to what he could have acheived had he lived.
Sadly missed, both with Lizzy and solo.
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25. Y&T - The Black Tiger title-track has one of the all time great intros.
I prefer "Forever", of course, but then that title track opener you're referring to is "From the moon", isn't it? Which is basically the intro to "Forever". So we're all happy!
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26. Millenium - You said you were a spelling Nazi. Me too, unless I'm making the error of course - and then it's down to mis-typing!
I try not to misspell, even looking up words if I'm unsure. But I certainly would not use a spell checker!
Quote:
Previously, I got muddled with the track Credo from the album Internal Exile. Shapes That Go Together by A-ha was not on an album, but appeared on a couple of later compilations. It was released around the same time as Pink Floyd's Keep Talking from The Division Bell.
Ah, "Internal exile"! Excellent album, I of course have it. Must be nearly time for a new one, no?

Again, thanks for the comments. Keep reading, and keep em coming. It's great to hear your views.
TH
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