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Old 05-31-2013, 07:00 PM   #1821 (permalink)
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Thanks man, I enjoy your journal too. You've really got something there.

Oh, and thanks for taking the time to check out my quiz: if any stumped you and you need to know, PM me.
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Old 05-31-2013, 07:05 PM   #1822 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
Thanks man, I enjoy your journal too. You've really got something there.

Oh, and thanks for taking the time to check out my quiz: if any stumped you and you need to know, PM me.
k thanks, man!
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:35 AM   #1823 (permalink)
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Thanks man! I appreciate your input. SD has always been my alltime favourite a-ha album, though it sort of seesaws between that and Analogue. Still, I've been listened to Scoundrel longer than Analogue so perhaps have managed to capture the nuances of it more in my mind. I believe if this had been the debut a-ha album one of two things would have happened: they would have been more accepted as a "serious" band and gone on to be really super-famous or, conversely, the pop fans would have frowned at the more mature tracks and relegated them to the status of one-hit wonders... oh, wait...

Honestly, though, I do wonder what would have happened had Scoundrel Days been the first the world heard of a-ha? With or without ToM, would they have been as successful, less, or more? Of course we'll never know now, but I love that album to death.
Some good points there, but I think when a band is a "pop band" commercial success is very high on the list and the soppy tracks like "Take On Me" etc are a necessary part of the band, but of course anybody that just knows the band for these songs will just think of the band as another Wham, Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet and not the rich, mature or brooding band that could be heard on the rest of their albums, or even the more American influenced rock sounds of the fourth and fifth albums. I was never a fan of Analogue but will probably give it another listen soon.
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Old 06-04-2013, 08:20 AM   #1824 (permalink)
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Face the music --- Electric Light Orchestra --- 1975 (Jet)


Some time ago I featured the cover of this album in my section "The Secret Life of the Album Cover", but now I'd like to delve into the music behind that cover. I was always a huge ELO fan, even long before I got my first record player (turntable to you, sonny!) and naturally once I did purchase that coveted item --- even if it was powered by valves and got so hot it had to be switched off after every record, allowed cool down before being used again! --- the albums of ELO were the first I bought. "Discovery", "A new world record" and of course "Out of the blue" were the first ones I got, then for my birthday I was presented with a three-album box set which was comprised of "El Dorado", "On the third day" and this one, three albums in chronological order. While I loved "El Dorado" (and still do) and was pretty meh about "On the third day", this album initially scared me, believe it or not, from the title track. What an idiot! But to hear more and understand why it had that effect on me, read on.

This was the first album to gain substantial sales for the band, giving them their first platinum album, though it failed to chart. It did however yield a future classic in the single "Evil woman", and was the first of their albums to feature new boys Kelly Groucutt on bass and Melvyn Gale on cello; they would remain with ELO up to 1983 in Groucutt's case and 1979 in Gale's. This album was also one of the only ones to feature a different lead vocal to that of Jeff Lynne, on "Poker", where Groucutt took the mike. "Face the music" would pave the way for future chart successes "A new world record", "Discovery" and "Out of the blue", which throughout the later part of the seventies would give them their biggest hit singles and their first number one album.

So why was I so scared of it? Well, not scared really but uneasy. I've always been averse to horror movies, the more psychological the horror the worse it affects me, and the opener on this album, "Fire on high", is created with that idea in mind; essentially I believe it's meant to conjure up images of Hell. It starts with wailing voices, spooky piano and then ghostly violin, with a backward-masked track saying what I thought at the time was "Damn you! Damn you!" What it actually says is "Music is reversible. Time is not. Turn back. Turn back." But with the moaning and the weird sound of a backwards voice it comes across as pretty frightening. Well, it did to me. The whole thing then sounds like the soundtrack to a horror movie, with wails, screams, the sound of echoing footsteps, whips, an angelic choir ... sensory overload for me. Add to this the devilish violins and cellos and it just all sounds like something out of Dante. Until that is the guitar comes in alongside soft strings and Ben Bevan's pounding drums, and a melody of sorts finally gets going, the "scary sounds" fading out in the background.

A Spanish guitar then gets going as the thing takes off in a sort of flamenco style, the melody clearly established now, and the second half of the piece, all instrumental, is much more recognisable as music. Celestial strings merge with soaring electric guitar and thumping percussion and it slows down on the back of gentle falling guitar with choral voices raised, then it all ends in a big finish on that Spanish guitar and violins. After such an ambitious piece --- and quite brave to start the album off with that --- "Waterfall" is much more accessible. A slow, soft ballad with lovely guitar and strong strings section whereafter we first hear the voice of Jeff Lynne backed by Richard Tandy's solo piano, until the heavy percussion cuts in and the song takes off, one of ELO's many lovely ballads. It showcases the undeniable vocal talents of Lynne, who would of course go on to be identified as the voice of ELO on such hits as "Mister Blue Sky", "Don't bring me down" and "Last train to London". It also highlights his spectacular songwriting ability --- every song here is written and composed by him, and to write two tracks as poles apart as "Fire on high" and "Waterfall" is no mean feat.

Eight tracks may seem like very poor value for money, but as I explained before, this was the age of vinyl, and most artistes would only be able to fit four tracks per side onto their albums; if more were required you'd be looking at a double, as in the case of the later "Out of the blue". The big hit is up next, and "Evil woman" is a real mid-paced rocker with some great piano, and in fact was ELO's first hit on both sides of the Atlantic, hitting the top ten on both the US and the UK. As a song, it tends to rely more on guitar and piano than later songs which would utilise the whole string section of the orchestra, as it were, though the violins and cellos are in there. It's also the first song on the album to feature female backing vocals, perhaps odd given the title? "Nightrider" starts off with a solo violin piece and Lynne singing the vocal, a little bass then Bev Bevan's drums thunder in and the rest of the band comes in on the back of that for the chorus. It's a powerful, driving song, with some lovely orchestral passages and great drumming from Bevan.

As I mentioned, the only song on the album to feature vocals other than those of Jeff Lynne is "Poker", a song about, well, poker, with a great snarling guitar intro and it's the closest to hard rock on the album, almost recalling the later Meat Loaf's "Dead ringer for love" in places. With a fast-flowing keyboard from Tandy and indeed a rapid-fire vocal delivery from Kelly Groucutt it's a little different to the ELO I had come to know and love, and took a little getting used to but now it's a favourite of mine. A slow piece in the middle only accentuates and throws into sharp relief the returning almost-metal guitar that takes the song to its conclusion. Hey! ELO could rock, ya know? A big orchestral intro then, in contrast, to "Strange magic", but it fades out and is replaced by a high-pitched guitar, the song another ballad, with Lynne back on vocals, and this time Richard Tandy on guitar.

For me, the low point of the album, if it has one, comes with "Down home town", which is basically a country jamboree with a weird vocal opening and then violins and heavy drumming with folky guitar taking the melody almost like a banjo. They even throw in a Dixieland line! It's interesting I guess but it was always a track I skipped when playing the album, and moved on to the closer, the beautiful, lazy "One summer dream", with its soft cello opening and wistful vocal from Lynne, then joined by chingling guitar and measured drumming with a kind of echoing effect running through it. It's another fine example of just how excellent a ballad Lynne could write, and it just sort of slides along like a river winding its way down a mountain, or a gentle breeze sailing over the land (both of which descriptions are I think in the lyric, so don't bother telling me). A soft backing vocal merges with some gentle violin and the last three minutes or so of the song are pretty much instrumental, with the exception of the singing of the title mostly, in a kind of fading echo as it winds towards its conclusion. Superb ending to an album which, while not at the top of my ELO list, is certainly one of their better ones.

TRACKLISTING

1. Fire on high
2. Waterfall
3. Evil woman
4. Nightrider
5. Poker
6. Strange magic
7. Down home town
8. One summer dream

If you put a gun to my head and threatened me to come up with my top three ELO albums they would almost certainly be "Out of the blue", "El Dorado" and one other, though I don't know which. "Time"? "Secret messages"? "A new world record"? Okay, okay! I'm thinking! It's not easy to concentrate with that thing in my face! Point is, I easily know my two favourite album from this band but the rest are generally all pretty much as good as one another, with the exception perhaps of "On the third day" and "Balance of power". But "Face the music", though it wouldn't come as I say high in that list, would be in the top ten certainly. An album with maybe one weak track is not to be sniffed at , and we are talking mid seventies here. At any rate, it was the one that more or less broke ELO, or led to them breaking commercially. The next one, "A new world record", would start a sequence of albums that would all hit the top ten on both sides of the water, and establish the Electric Light Orchestra as a household name and a constant presence in the charts.

I'm just glad I can finally listen to "Fire on high" without getting the heebie-jeebies any more!
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Old 06-11-2013, 07:34 AM   #1825 (permalink)
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Evenin' all. For those of you wot 'ave been wonderin' where we 'ave been for the last eighteen months, and who 'ave perhaps been thinkin' that we were on some sort of long 'oliday, paid for at the taxpayers' expense, I can now hexclusively reveal that nothin' could be further from the truth. Since early March 2012 we 'ave been hengaged in a long and patient 'unt for one of the most 'einous, dangerous criminals ever to set foot in the recording studio. It 'as not been easy and many good men 'ave tried and failed, but the Law is a tireless pursuer, as many of our hadversaries have come to realise, and like blood'ounds we kept up the chase, followed our leads and spoke to many hinformants over the course of the last year, (for which I would like to thank the generous outpouring of hassistance from the public) and finally, in the early hours of a cold Friday last May, actin' on a tip-off from a member of the public we ran 'im to ground.


Our trail 'ad finally borne fruit and we surrounded a disused ware'ouse from which the truly terrible strains of his teenybop music could be 'eard waftin' across the 'arbour and chokin' the cold crisp night air. Bird did not sing, the very wind did not blow and it seemed to us as we closed in on 'im that even the stars themselves hid from this awful cacophony. My colleagues and I --- twelve in all --- were relatively safe though. We 'ad earlier been happroached by a fine hupstanding member of the public who 'as 'elped us out before, known only to us as the Batlord, and 'e 'ad agreed that this one would be tough. "A poseur is just a poseur", spake he wisely, "but a poseur of this magnitude, with his back to the wall: you just don't know what he might do." And so we took, with the Batlord's 'elp, certain precautions.

Supplied each with an hipod crammed full of the most brutal, savage and loud death metal we hadvanced, and it seemed to work. On sight of us, Bieber turned towards the soundbooth, jammin' on 'is pink fluffy 'eadphones and turnin' the volume on the studio's PA system up full. We reeled at the 'orrible noise, the awful generic tones, the soft syllables, the crooning voice, the sugar-sweet harmonies -- ooh, it were awful! I tell you, I've been subjected to many 'orrible things in my thirty years on the Force, but this whinin' noise very nearly broke me! Luckily we 'ad the deadening sounds o' 'eavy metal to fall back upon so we were protected from the worst of it.

Oh, an' 'ere I must fulfil a promise I made to the Batlord, in return for 'is 'elp: Excuse me.

'EAVY METAL RULES! GLORY TO THE BRAVE! TRUE METAL WILL NEVER DIE! DEATH TO POSEURS! MORBID ANGEL FOOKING ROOOOOLLLLLLLL!!!!!!

Sorry about that: obviously we here at the Met do not wish death to any poseurs. If they wants to listen to crap music, that is their privilege. But as I said, that was the deal we struck with 'is Batship. And now, let me return to the story.

We moved in for the kill. 'e seemed amazed that 'is singin' was 'avin' little or no heffect on us, though truth be told me own ears was bleedin'. Whether that were from 'im or the 'eavy metal I'm not sure, but I know they were ringin'. We cut off 'is escape but to our surprise 'e began to scale the walls o' the studio via various 'and'olds --- like a bleedin' monkey 'e were, pardon my French, and as we tried our best to shut out the sickly strains of digital piano and autotune comin' from the studio at full belt 'e shook 'is fist in defiance at us an' screamed in an 'igh-pitched voice "Ye'll never take me alive coppers, eh?"

Then Sergeant Quaver 'ad a brainwave. 'e rushed into the now-empty studio, fearlessly bravin' the 'orrible pop music wot rushed at 'im like a tidal wave. I saw 'im stop for a moment as if pushed back, but an instant later 'e gathered 'is resolve an' fought 'is way through until 'e was at the mixin' desk, where he used 'is trusty truncheon to smash the machinery, thus silencin' the backin' track forever. We all breathed a sigh o' relief, while Bieber raged and screamed like a much smaller, skinner version of that there King Kong in the old movie, beatin' wot 'e laughingly calls 'is chest and squealin' like a stuck pig at the destruction o' his music. But Quaver was not finished. 'e ripped off the hipod from his neck, located the audio jack from the studio's PA and jammed it into the line-in on his player. A second later the thunderous strains o' High on Fire I believe it was, crashed across the studio like an hasteroid hittin' the earth. Windows blew out immediately, spraying the harea like confetti. The walls shook. Machinery exploded in a tangle of metal. The ground rumbled and began to split beneath our feet as 'eavy metal really did rock the 'ouse!

Already 'avin' been haccustomed to such levels of decibelery, we were relatively safe but Bieber, who had never heard anythin' louder than the screams o' his girly fans onstage fairly shook with the noise. He stood, stock-still for a moment, then clapped 'is 'ands to 'is ears, but it were already too late. Small cracks began to appear all over 'is face, an' continued on down 'is body. In a moment they 'ad widened an' spread so that in less than a minute 'is 'ole body were covered in tiny lines which were gettin' bigger as we watched in 'orror. Then, with a roar and a scream such as I wish never to 'ave to 'ear again in my life 'is entire body split right down the middle, but rather than blood an' brains an' the usual stuff you hexpect to see come out from a body, thick green goo began to leak out, running down the sides of the shattered body an' collectin' on the floor at our feet. As we watched in amazement this growing pile suddenly coalesced, gathered together an' rose up, shakin' a green fist at us! An 'orrible, alien voice croaked

"You fools! You think there is only one Justin Bieber? My people and I have travelled across four galaxies to make this planet ours! You think we will let the likes of you stand in our way? You can kill me, but know this: for every stupid teenage girl who buys the latest boyband records there is one of my kind, and you will never be able to defeat us all! Never!" Some'ow, it seemed to lean in closer as it whispered in a voice like a thousand venomous snakes

"I will let you into a little secret, humans. Do you know what Justin Bieber's next album is to be?" It paused for a moment, as if to savour the next words.

"Justin Bieber pays tribute to ... Justin Bieber! AH HA HA HA HAH HAHHH!"

Its laughter were truly terrible, though the news just as bad. Could such a thing really 'appen? Would the idiotic fanbase fall for it? Would they buy it? Like a snake eatin' its own tail, was this 'einous felon about to create the worst possible album in the 'istory of 'umanity?

Perhaps there were more of this creature, many more, but I were determined this one would not leave this studio alive. I gave a curt, meaningful nod to Quaver and he spun the selector wheel on the hipod. As the warehouse shook even 'arder, and the walls began to collapse, he ran for 'is life as the strains of Morbid Angel punched across the air and it seemed indeed to be burnin'. With a final, despairin' wail, a scream of pure 'atred an' anger, the thing wot 'ad been Justin Bieber shook like jelly and we all ran for the exits. We were barely clear of them, flingin' ourselves to the ground when it hexploded, and the whole thing went up like a green mushroom cloud.

When we finally raised our 'eads there was nothin' left but a 'uge smokin' crater where the disgustin' thing's evil studio 'ad been. We are now faced with the prospect that this is only the tip o' the iceberg, and the 'unt may only 'ave begun. O' course, the huge slimy green monster may 'ave been lyin', an' maybe 'e was all there was. An' yet, there was somethin' of the ring of truth in its words. I know it'll be a while before I sleep soundly, anyway. But I would ask you all now to be extra-vigilant. If you see anyone resemblin' or soundin' even like the late Justin Bieber, do NOT happroach the creature! We 'ave already hascertained that 'e is dangerous an' unpredictable. Contact us on 1800-USQUEAL or 1800-SCAM, or else let your local law henforcement hoffice know an' they will get in touch with us.

You may rest easy, citizens, for no matter 'ow many Justin Biebers there are in this world, they can't havoid justice forever, and one way or anhother we will get them. One by one, we will scour this menace from our green and pleasant land till the streets are safe to walk for law habidin' citizens like yourselves.

Remember: vigilance is the watchword. Together we're stronger, and together we will prevail.
Night all.
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Old 06-14-2013, 07:08 PM   #1826 (permalink)
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In a conversation with the mighty Batlord (TM) recently, I realised that I had not finished this series, and way back last year gave a tantalising idea of the bands I would focus on in part four of my look at the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. I did say not to expect an update any time soon, but hey, that was back in July of last year! So here we are, almost a year later, and I'm finally getting around to it. Well, better late than never!

As I mentioned at the end of part three, one of the bands I'll be concentrating on in this episode is a band most or many of you may not even have heard of, a small band who nevertheless gave the world a serious guitar superstar, a little outfit from Northern Ireland who, over the course of over thirty years, have split up twice and released the grand total of three albums. But even at that, they are seen as being one of the big influences on and movers in the NWOBHM. They're called


Formed in Belfast in 1979, Sweet Savage was founded by Ray Haller on bass and vocals, Trev Fleming on guitar, David Bates on drums and Vivian Campbell on guitar. Yeah, that one. A rising star in the world of heavy metal, it wasn't long before Campbell's talents were noticed and he outgrew the band, leaving to join Dio where his signature guitar sound would become one of the trademarks of Ronnie's new outfit. Later of course he would join Def Leppard and Whitesnake, but he left Sweet Savage before they had managed to release their first album, so although he was a pivotal figure in all the bands he later played in, his contribution to his mother band was really two singles, though the B-side of one of those singles would later catapult Sweet Savage back into the limelight when Metallica covered it.

Disappointed with their failure to break through into the big time like bands such as Saxon and Maiden and Motorhead, despite playing the huge Slane Festival alongside Thin Lizzy and U2 in 1981, Sweet Savage disbanded in 1982 and a few months later Campbell headed off to make his own future in heavy metal. In 1984 the guys tried again, resurrecting the band but with a mostly new lineup. Campbell was gone of course and so was Trev Fleming, and they brought in a dedicated vocalist, Robert Casserly, while the twin guitar attack was streamlined to one, Ian Wilson being given the tough job of stepping into not only Vivian Campbell's shoes, but those of Fleming as well.

The guys released two more singles, neither again gaining much in the way of commercial interest, and stuck together until 1989, when again disillusioned they split. However in 1991, two years after their second breakup, metal giants Metallica recorded a cover of "Killing time", which had been the B-side of their first single. Such exposure led to an awakening of interest in the Belfast lads, and Sweet Savage reformed again in 1996, this time to record a proper album, the first of three. Fleming returned on guitar and was joined by Simon McBride. Under this lineup they released their first album, with Haller back on vocals as well as taking bass duties.

Killing time --- Sweet Savage -- 1996 (Neat)


Perhaps referencing the amount of wasted time between their formation in 1979 and this, or maybe namechecking the track that had brought renewed interest in them as a band, this album contains many of the songs released on single and various EPs, though oddly not their first two singles, at least not the A-sides: it does obviously include the B-side of "Take no prisoners", their debut single, and the track that essentially brought them back from the dead.

There's a wild, crazy guitar and drums that sound like someone hitting tin cans in a gymnasium to get us under way with the title track, and to be honest the vocal is very muddy and the production is terrible. The guitar work here doesn't seem as good as Vivian Campbell's on the original, but then, you wouldn't expect it to be would you? There's a fresh sense of youth though about the song, and you can easily see these guys recording it and dreaming of the big time; decent start. A hard slower grinder then for "Vengeance", one of the two longest tracks on the album at just under four and a half minutes. Vocals still hard to make out though. Good guitar work from Fleming and McBride; kind of a faster Sabbath feel about this. "Welcome to the real world" rocks along with real energy and passion, the tempo going up several notches, although it fades out a little suddenly, bringing in the other track that ties for the position of longest, and "Thunder" is another big, heavy, marching grinder with a sense of doom and also a little progressive metal about it.

We're off an headbanging again then with "Eye of the storm", one of the songs that appeared on their 1980 session on Tommy Vance's radio show, and later as a single put out in 2005. "Parody of wisdom" slows it all down again with another grinder, and some slick bass work with a nice hook in the chorus of the song, while the oddly-named "D.U.D" kicks the tempo back up again and then everything fires off at ten for "Prospector of greed", another track from that Tommy Vance session. Now, this could very well be the ballad, as it starts off quite laidback and relaxed, and indeed "Why?" seems to show the other side of Sweet Savage (more of the sweet and less of the savage? Okay! Okay!) and it's a nice change from the heads-down metal and grinders, good though they are. Sort of acoustic feel to the guitars here, and though I feel that some keyboards or piano might have added to the sound of the song, it's a nice ballad, and probably the first time you can really get to hear the vocalist properly. Again though the song fades out really unexpectedly; is this bad production or bad writing?

Anyway, a big boogie rocker is up next with "The raid", a song originally recorded in 1981, with "Reach out" keeping the tempo high and we close on "Ground zero", a good fast rocker to bring the album to a powerful and energetic finish.

TRACKLISTING

1. Killing time
2. Vengeance
3. Welcome to the real world
4. Thunder
5. Eye of the storm
6. Parody of wisdom
7. D.U.D
8. Prospector of greed
9. Why?
10. The raid
11. Reach out
12. Ground Zero

Two years later and Fleming was gone, and Sweet Savage released their second album, which again failed to do much. This was the late nineties after all, and metal was not enjoying the exposure and popularity it had a decade earlier. Also other, new forms of metal were springing up, with the likes of viking and doom metal as well as the tail-end of the grunge phenomenon leaving these three guys from Belfast looking --- and, it has to be said, sounding --- like something of a relic from the past. Whereas bands like Maiden, Saxon and Dio changed with the mood of the time, Sweet Savage, something like Mama's Boys and a few other bands from the NWOBHM who never quite made it or faded away quickly after the initial burst of enthusiasm in the early eighties, seemed unable to adapt. This made their second album sound rather like their first, and that was not a good thing.

Rune --- Sweet Savage --- 1998 (Neat)


Perhaps they were confusing their audience with the title of the album. While bands like Rainbow, Dio, Maiden and Hawkwind all flirted with the essentially prog rock idea of fantasy, sword-and-sorcery and mythology, Sweet Savage used a fantasy-sounding title for their album but there's little evidence of any fantasy lyrics or themes within the music. The opening track starts with some feedback and then rocks out in something of a similar style to Dio's "Stand up and shout", but again the vocals are very muddy and the production is, well, dire. It would be cruel to say that "Ditch" was a presentiment of where the album, and the band at the time, were headed, but the snarled "All I wanna say/ Is fuck you!" certainly doesn't help if the fans think it's being aimed at them, which I don't think it is. There's also something missing in the guitar work now that Simon McBride is shouldering the entire responsibility himself. That's not to say he's not a great guitarist, and he unleashes some great solos here. But think of Maiden or Scorpions with only one guitarist: there'd definitely be something missing.

Second track, "Life's a game", has a very lively bassline driving it, almost like a fast synth at times, but I can't stop wondering if Ray Haller is just that bad a singer, or if the production really is that bad, as it's really hard to make out not quite his voice, but any real personality or emotion in his singing. "Trust" has a nice sliding boogie guitar groove, and the interestingly-titled "I am nothing (you are less)" at least sounds like it has a nice idea going, but there's something derivative about the main melody: at least Haller puts some dark emotion into the vocal, growling out the title like a depressed punk rocker. "Who am I?" has again a cool bassline, and it rocks along nicely, but I have to say that in general this album has all the professional feel of a bad demo tape. There's little consideration given to how the songs end, meld together, or fade, and it's all just a little, well, cack-handed. That said, McBride hands out the guitar licks and delivers many a fine solo, but there's just nothing that terribly special here, and in a genre like heavy metal you need to be able to stand out if you want to survive.

The only song really that might possibly reflect the fantasy theme of the title of the album, "Shangri-La" is a rather disappointingly generic rock song with it has to be said some pretty awful lyrics. There's some bluesy touches to "Survive" and that influence continues on into "Communication", mixing in some "Master of reality" era Black Sabbath riffs. Nice rolling drum intro with attendant screaming guitar takes us into "Why me?" which makes up in energy what it lacks in subtlety, ends suddenly as most of the tracks here do, and ushers in the closing track. "Walk on by" is not a cover of the old Dionne Warwick song, surprise surprise, and it confirms that there are no ballads, indeed no slow songs at all on this album. As a closer it's okay but rather like the rest of the album, sorry to say, nothing special, nothing that stands out and nothing I'm likely to remember or want to play again once this review is finished.

TRACKLISTING


1. Ditch
2. Life's a game
3. Trust
4. I am nothing (you are less)
5. Who am I?
6. Shangri-La
7. Survive
8. Communication
9. Why me?
10. Walk on by

It's no terrible shock that after this very sub-standard album Sweet Savage again failed to garner any interest in their music and again split up. When they eventually reformed ten years later, David Bates had left and been replaced on the drumstool by Jules Watson. The band then played festivals in Germany to almost incredible acclaim, given how little of their recorded output had been available. Galvanised by this, the band toured with Metallica, Saxon and Iron Maiden, the last being a replacement support for Heaven and Hell, who had to pull out due to the tragic death of Ronnie James Dio. Sweet Savage would suffer their own tragedy though, as in 2010 Trev Fleming, who had returned to play with the band, passed away. No details are available as to the cause of his death, though it is said to have been related to a condition he was already suffering from.

With, again, renewed interest in the band they were joined by new drummer Steve McCloskey and released their third album in 2011. Originally expected to be titled "Warbird", this is in fact the opening track but the album name was changed, perhaps to reflect the second rebirth of the band, perhaps to honour their fallen comrade. Speaking of former members, founder member Vivian Campbell guests on their cover of Lizzy's famous "Whiskey in the jar" on the album. Also included are older songs that appeared on singles or EPs prior to this.

Regeneration --- Sweet Savage --- 2011 (Grind That Axe)


The first thing I notice --- and it would have to be, over ten years later! --- is a quantum leap in production and holy mother of divine! I can hear Ray Haller singing! So were the two other albums down to bad production then? Either that, or in the intervening decade he's learned how to sing. "Warbird", which kicks off the album and was originally supposed to be its title track (yes, you said already...) , is a good hard rocker with a sort of mid-paced tempo, but picks up near the end and goes head-down into the breakneck "Powder monkey", with a truly stupendous guitar intro, somewhat reminsicent of Survivor's big hit, "Eye of the tiger", and staccato, machine-gun drumming. Good to hear most of the original band back together. Not so sure about Trev Fleming: he's given credit here on guitar but the album was released a year after his untimely death. Perhaps he recorded some/all of the tracks prior to his death, though Wiki says he hadn't been with the band since 2010. Then again, given that this album was supposed to have been released in 2009, I guess you'd have to assume it had been ready since then, so maybe he was involved.

At any rate, the other guitarist is the returning Ian Wilson, and with new drummer Marty McCloskey the band certainly sound energised, revitalised and, indeed, regenerated. There's no title track, per se, but the next one up is "Regenerator", and that's as close as you're likely to get really. It opens with a sort of echoing shout like a chant or call to arms, then slowly the music comes up and it has a very eighties metal sound about it with a touch of grunge in there too, a great guitar solo from one or other of the guys and a real crowd-participation "Hai! Hai! Hai!" in the chorus. "No guts no glory" reminds me of nothing more than mid-eighties Tank, hammering along with a real sense of purpose, while "Saviour (I am not)" has a hard bitter edge to it and rocks the house. "Do or die" is like a mixture of Maiden and Metallica, a big mid-paced grinder with real menace in the guitar attack.

"Money" is not a cover of Floyd's classic, but another tough headbanger with a real snarled vocal from Haller --- now that I can hear him, he's a decent singer. I wouldn't give him any awards and he'll never stand toe-to-toe with the greats, but he's more than adequate to the task here. Nice soft guitar intro to "Razor's edge", but it doesn't last and we're into a riproarin' boogie rocker that just makes you want to bob your head and tap your feet. Nice sort of restrained guitar allows Haller his head, and I'd certainly class it as the best track so far. The well-signposted return of Vivian Campbell is up next, as he guests on guitar as the boys tackle Lizzy's standard "Whiskey in the jar", and you can definitely hear the difference. Decent version, but no-one's ever going to come close to Phil and the lads for me; even the original traditional song is pale and lifeless by comparison.

Of the four tracks left on the album, three are old songs that were either released as singles or on EPs. I'm not sure how I feel about this. For a band who have had, basically, ten years to record new material (well okay, three: they only officially got back together in 2008) I feel they could have had more new tracks on the album. If you count three old ones plus the cover, all you get here is nine new tracks. I suppose that's no major deal, I just would have liked to have seen more new stuff, given we hadn't heard from them since 1998. That said, "Eye of the storm" is a great rocker and "Queen's vengeance" a harder, tougher grinder almost in the Dio mould, with a great Maidenesque guitar outro, then "Achilles", the only one of the closing quartet not to be an already recorded song, has over a minute of fast instrumental intro before the vocal comes in. It rattles along really nicely, again a sense of Metallica in it, and the album closes on "The raid", with a nice boogie rhythm and a bassline that puts me in mind of Simple Minds' "Waterfront". Oddly enough, this was not only on their debut album but was also the closer on that album.

TRACKLISTING

1. Warbird
2. Powder monkey
3. No guts, no glory
4. Saviour (I am not)
5. Do or die
6. Money
7. Razor's edge
8. Whiskey in the jar
9. Eye of the storm
10. Queen's vengeance
11. Achilles
12. The raid

"Regeneration" is a massive improvement on the previous two albums, not only the material but also the production and the direction, but even so you would have to wonder if Sweet Savage have left it too long to try to make a final bid for the top? You can only get so far on the back of Metallica's recommedations, and though they've had a lot of exposure recently due to big support slots, I would question whether they will ever be the headlining act, or are they condemned, assuming they stay together, to always be the bridesmaid and never the bride, so to speak?

Either way, they are regarded as an important part of the overall phenomenon that was the NWOBHM, and if they can make their mark thirty years after that wave has flattened out and receded away, then fair play to them. I just personally think there are bands out there who are a lot better and have more going for them, but I do wish Sweet Savage all the best, and hopefully they'll make the luck of the Irish work for them.
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Old 06-19-2013, 12:48 PM   #1827 (permalink)
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Rock music has traditionally been a male preserve for a long time, heavy metal moreso, and the idea of an all-girl heavy metal band was, well, just not really credible back when the NWOBHM broke upon the music scene of Britain, but that didn't stop these four ladies, who had already started a band called Painted Lady in the late seventies, later breaking up and reforming under the name Girlschool. With a combination of catchy punk/metal songs, a sexy image and what they call these days a USP (Unique Selling Point), Girlschool would attract the boys to their gigs by virtue of the skintight leather they wore and the girls due to their early demonstration of "girl power", before the Spice Girls were even born. They quickly latched on to fellow metallers Motorhead, forming a fast friendship with Lemmy and the boys, and even performed together on a rather successful single, part of an EP they recorded.

Riding the wave both of the NWOBHM itself and the "novelty factor" of a girl band, (remember Alan Partridge's chauvinistic comment: "A girl drummer! Close your eyes, could be a man!"?) Girlschool achieved great exposure, touring alongside emerging acts like Maiden, Saxon, Uriah Heep, Black Sabbath and of course Motorhead, and their earthy brand of just-as-good-as-the-boys rock and roll went down really well. As Gerry Bron, head of Bronze records noted in 1980, none of them were particularly good-looking, but then, they weren't necessarily trading on how pretty they were, more the sex appeal linked to the noise and power of heavy metal fever that was at the time gripping the nation. They certainly worked hard though, and with a final stable lineup that consisted of Kim McAuliffe and Kelly Johnson on guitars, Denise Dufort on drums and Enid Williams on bass, and the lion's share (or should that be the lioness's share?) of the vocals, Girlschool released their first of ten studio albums in 1980.

Demolition --- Girlschool --- 1980 (Bronze)


Opening with a long air-raid siren sound, the album kicks off with essentially the title track, "Demolition boys", and you can hear right away the similarities to Motorhead, though Girlschool are not as fast or loud as the masters of heavy metal noise. It's quite tuneful actually, with good heavy guitars from McAuliffe and Johnson, and a decent vocal from McAuliffe on one of the three tracks she sings on, a voice that kind of reminds me of Kim Wilde at her height. The track powers along nicely and ends with the sound of metal and pipes and things falling, and the girls laughing. Then we're into "Not for sale", a mid-paced rocker with somehow a more mid-eighties sound about it, Williams taking over the vocal duties, while "Race with the devil", their first real hit is a cover of a sixties song by Gun, Adrian Gurvitz's band before hitting it big with the Baker Gurvitz Army. It's a real boogie rocker with some great squealing guitar and a tap-along bassline.

Plenty of boogie too in "Take it all away", reminding me of a much heavier Bob Seger, some great vocal harmonies and a really enjoyable guitar solo before Kim takes vocals again for "Nothing to lose", and really there's not a lot to choose between the two girls, they're both good vocalists and I couldn't say who I prefer. The song is a good fast rocker with some really hooky parts, great guitar solo and then the one vocal contribution from Kelly Johnson is on "Breakdown", which to be fair is not a great track. Her vocal is okay but the other two are far better I feel. We're back with Enid then for the rest of the album bar the closer, and it really shows on "Midnight ride", where the vocal quality just takes a real upswing again, although in fairness the track is not much to write home about. "Emergency" gets things moving again, with chiming guitars, thrumming bass, decent hooks, real rocky track, kind of setting a marker down for their other popular song "Yeah right".

"Baby doll" sounds like it's either recorded live or made to sound as if it has been, and it's driven on some almost hypnotic bass from Williams, some fine guitar from Johnson and McAuliffe painting their own strokes across the canvas, then we close on McAuliffe's last vocal performance as "Deadline" brings the curtain down with a good hard rocker and to be fair, a very decent vocal.

TRACKLISTING

1. Demolition boys
2. Not for sale
3. Race with the devil
4. Take it all away
5. Nothing to lose
6. Breakdown
7. Midnight ride
8. Emergency
9. Baby doll
10. Deadline

So, an all-girl metal band? The press were interested, although mostly it has to be said for the novelty factor: "What's it like working in an arena dominated by men?" "Do boys AND girls come to your shows?" "Any boyfriends?" and such scintillating questions dogged the girls after the release of ther first album, but although this was no doubt tiresome the attention certainly helped raise their profiles, as did plum support gigs with big bands in their own sphere. The relationship with Motorhead culminated in the recording of the EP "Saint Valentine's Day massacre", from which another big hit, the track "Please don't touch", performed under the name Headgirl, would secure them a slot on BBC's premier music showcase, "Top of the Pops" and a number five single in the UK.

But it was time for the girls to record a followup to their debut, and it would turn out to be their most successful album, with a very iconic, risque cover that, if nothing else, would guarantee attention from males who might be casually browsing the record bins. This album would see a great vocal presence for Kelly Johnson, who would sing on four of the eleven tracks, Kim McAuliffe only singing on one, but the bulk of vocal work would still fall to Enid Williams.

Hit and Run --- Girlschool --- 1982 (Bronze)


Whereas the debut album began with the sound of a siren, this followup opens with perhaps a sound more closely tied to metal, the firing up of a motorcycle engine as the appropriately-titled "Come on let's go!" revs up and starts this album as powerfully as the previous, again with a sense of Motorhead in the music. It's Kelly who takes the vocal on this, and she has improved since the debut in my opinion, though again there are great backing vocals all over the album. Great guitar solo from her, perhaps one of the hardest Girlschool have yet done. It's a song that must have been a great opener to gigs and a real crowd-pleaser, and it's followed by "The hunter", which though other bands and artistes have had songs titled the same, is a Girlschool original, again sung by Kelly. It's somewhat slower and less rocky but a good song; not sure her vocals are as good on this though. Song's a little pedestrian; not quite boring but a little meh.

Things kick back up then on a "One-two-three-four!" as Enid comes back in on her first vocal on the album for "(I'm your) victim", which if I'm honest sounds like a metal version of the Bangles, and I mean that as a compliment. Williams is definitely emerging as the more competent vocalist in the band for me, so no surprise she again takes the larger share of the tracks here. Another great screeching solo and the song has a lot of youthful power and energy, and is a lot faster than either of the first two, while "Kick it down" keeps up the tempo with the only vocal performance by Kim McAuliffe (who still sounds like Kim Wilde to me!); good job from her. Great kicking percussion from Denise Dufort too, who once stood in for Phil "Philthy Animal" Taylor of Motorhead, and impressed everyone, even Lemmy!

"Following the crowd" sees a return to the mike for Williams, but it's a relatively sub-par song. Then we get the cover of ZZ Top's "Tush", again with Enid on vocals and she just struts and swaggers through this, doing Messrs. Gibbons, Hill and Beard proud. One of my favourite Girlschool tracks, even if it's not an original. It's the title track up next, and oddly enough this was the single that made an appearance on TOTP for them, scraping almost into the top thirty. It's a bit fifties rock if I'm honest, bit Go-Gos or Runaways, and really not the sort of thing I would expect from these four hard-rockin' ladies. Quite bland, almost AOR in ways, and I suppose now I can see why it made a little dent on the charts. I would have preferred "Yeah right!" or "Come on let's go!" but it wasn't to be. They were both released, but did nothing. Bloody charts. Anyway, it's not the worst ever track, but certainly a low point on the album for me. It also doesn't help that it's our girl Kelly back on vocals. Following it is "Watch your step", which at least has Enid shoulder Kelly out of the way and take her rightful place at the microphone. It's got a fast punchy drumbeat and grinding, Fast Eddie-like guitar, and yeah, we're back on track now!

Great blasting guitar solo from Kelly, doing what she does best, and Denise pounding hell out of those drums, with a cool little funky bassline thrown in halfway by Enid: yeah, this is what metal is all about! **** the charts, who needs them? Slowing things down then with a tough grinder in "Back to start", and one of the honkiest basslines I really have ever heard: sounds like some sort of synth or trumpet! Super cool! Oh, and it's not a ballad, in case you were wondering. It's okay but if it wasn't for that mad bass the song wouldn't be that remarkable. Then it's fun all the way as the girls rock out against parents and authority figures everywhere on "Yeah right", with the chorus shouted in a real sarcastic way by the band. Love this song, it's just so rebellious and yet so cute. Cute? Yeah, that's what I said. I love this. The imitation of the mother warning the girls about all the things they should not do (as if they're going to listen!) is hilarious in a Monty Python kind of way. Hopefully Kelly won't ruin the ending of this album now, because she's back on vocals one more time for the closer, "Future flash".

Meh, I won't say she ruins it but to be fair it's not a great track, and to be totally fair that's not down to her. It's just a pretty substandard closer to what is generally a pretty solid album throughout. I do like her whispered middle eighth and the weird little alien noises, and the guitar solo as ever I have nothing but praise for. Perhaps "Yeah right!" would have been a better one to end the album on though.

TRACKLISTING

1. Come on let's go
2. The hunter
3. (I'm your) victim
4. Kick it down
5. Following the crowd
6. Tush
7. Hit and run
8. Watch your step
9. Back to start
10. Yeah right
11. Future flash

This album was pretty much Girlschool's pinnacle, and like many bands popular in the NWOBHM they became less and less relevant as the wave crashed and broke, and heavy metal either settled along the lines of bigger bands like Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Saxon and Motorhead, or was pushed to the background as new fads took its place. A year after releasing "Hit and run", Enid Williams quit the band, and so Girlschool lost not only their bassist but their best singer. She was replaced by Gil Weston, who had made her name playing bass with the Killjoys, and the new lineup recorded Girlschool's third album, "Screaming blue murder".

Over their career the girls recorded ten studio albums, so it'll be no surprise to anyone that I won't be reviewing them all. However, the third album was not well received and generally considered a weaker offering than "Hit and run", in my opinion due to the loss of Williams, who I always saw as the band's main lynchpin. Following this it was Kelly Johnson who flirted with the idea of leaving, but was persuaded to remiain for the release of their fourth album, on the back of which they consciously and deliberately tried to break into the lucrative American market. They tailored their sound more towards the US, with more AOR songs and a sort of glam metal sound, and even changed their own image to try to pander more to American audiences, who weren't really interested in seeing four leather-clad British girls with attitudes singing about motorbikes and boys. Pah! What do they know?

Play dirty --- Girlschool --- 1983 (Bronze)


You can see right away, before you even hear a note, that the whole look has changed. Gone are the tight leather pants (awww!), the youthful/brash look, the don't-give-a-damn style. In its place is a more sophisticated, mature image of four ladies who might not be out of place on the sleeve of the latest Heart album. They're dressed differently, their hair is immaculately coiffed, and they have those smouldering come-to-bed eyes that often looked out at you from eighties album covers by female artistes. Not so much "Yeah right!" as "Mm-hmm... right....." This was also the first Girlschool album cover on which you could really see the girls, the previous one having them cralwing all over a wire fence but the light not good enough to see them properly, while the prior one to that was a drawing and the debut didn't even feature them on the cover. For the first time the girls' feminine side was being brought out on one of their album covers. But what about the music?

Okay, well though no keyboards are credited, that sounds like one at the beginning, and the sound is very clearly more AOR-oriented, with a long intro to the opener, "Going under", though it is underscored then by hard guitar and thumping drums. This soon drops away though and we can hear Kelly sing in a very American way, with vocal harmonies more suited to a Styx or REO album than a Motorhead one. In fact, there's little evidence of the hard-edged metal they had played on the last two at least (haven't heard the third) albums, and though it's s decent start it's very obviously a move away from overt metal to try to play to the gallery and sell records in the US of A. Perhaps the lyric spoke more of the girls' discomfort with this new direction than anything, as Kelly croons "Help me! I think I'm going under!"

"High and dry" is worse, with a melody pulled from The Kinks' "Hello I love you" and shot through with a blast of Billy Idol, Kelly again on vocals and her guitar quite restrained in comparison. More close-harmony vocals try to relegate the other girls to the status of backing singers, but they still have the musical ability to make this song work despite its banality. I know that guitar riff too. They then plunder Def Leppard's "Photograph" for the title track, and with Enid gone it falls to Kim McAuliffe to take most of the vocal duties. Still, at least it's heavier than the first two tracks. And things just don't look like they're going to get any better really as we move on into their cover of T-Rex's "20th century boy", which is fine of course but you can't use it as a yardstick to judge the album as it's not an original. A bit of Marc is always good though!

"Burning in the heat" opens with a definite church organ, very Bachesque, then explodes into an almost heavy ELO song, and the AOR jsut keeps coming. This band is hardly recognisable from the one we met on "Hit and run" and their debut. Talk about changing your sound to break into the American market! It's Kelly Johnson back on vocals for the very last time, and she does an okay job, but Kim has taken the crown from the departed Enid Williams, and though she was always second best in my opinion, she's a better singer than Kelly any day. So we're with Kim then for the rest of the album, and "Surrender" starts off well but soon discards its heavy opening for more radio-friendly AOR tropes: I don't know who's playing them but there are definitely keyboards on this album, and they're pretty heavy on this song. Nice bit of piano too. Not, all in all, the worst Girlschool song I have ever heard, but a long way from the best, or even the top ten.

The pretty abysmally-titled "Rock me shock me" again utilises the Leppard guitar riff, and I must say I'm getting a little tired of the lack of variation on this album. I know they were aiming at a "softer" market, but even so: these girls appear to have, um, lost their balls, so to speak! Now Kim is emulating the great Suzi Quatro, but not doing too great a job at it. "Running for cover" does what it can to up the tempo and kick some life into the album, but it's a losing battle. For an album produced by Slade alumni Noddy Holder and Jim Lea, "Play dirty" is lacking any of the fire, passion or just plain good-humoured anger that characterised that band's albums, and falls far from realising the promise of its title. I think the album should have been renamed "Play safe"!

But we've only one more track left before we can forget about this sanitised, homogenised version of Girlschool and see if they returned to their former glory in later years. It's got the weirdest title of all the tracks, at least the subtitle. "Breakout (Knob in the media)" is a decent hard rocker with a good spurt of speed on it, almost a nod back to their earlier material, with no keyboards that I can hear. I think it's dedicated to those music magazine hacks who would visit a show, make up their own mind after one or two songs and then run back to thier offices to write a damning review, which surely must have happened to the girls on occasion. Given their desire to break the US this might seem an unnecessarily angry or even bitter track, but I suppose at least it proves that, right at the end of a pretty sedate album Girlschool rediscovered the fire and passion that had characterised their first albums. Bit late, though.

TRACKLISTING

1. Going under
2. High and dry
3. Play dirty
4. 20th century boy
5. Breaking all the rules
6. Burning in the heat
7. Surrender
8. Rock me shock me
9. Running for cover
10. Breakout (Knob in the media)

Following the tour to promote "Play dirty", which had not done as well as they had hoped despite --- or perhaps because of --- the change in musical direction, and which had succeeded in alienating their hardcore fans back in the UK, resulting in a very poor chart showing for the album, Kelly Johnson quit the group. On top of that, their label went almost bust, and they were taken on by Mercury, who forced them in an even more AOR direction, with keyboard-driven songs replacing their snarling trademark guitars on their fourth album, "Running wild". Although they found replacements for Kelly in two separate band members, one a singer and one a guitarist, Girlschool's image was tarnished and they were sliding down the incline towards AOR obscurity and banality.
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Old 06-20-2013, 07:15 AM   #1828 (permalink)
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After a pretty disastrous tour of the US with very little interest in their new album, Girlschool lost new member Jackie Bodimead, who had taken over vocal duties and also introduced keyboards as a regular part of the band's new sound. With her departure and on the back of the poor album sales (despite the fact that they themselves were responsible for not promoting "Running wild") Mercury dropped Girlschool, who then made the decision, bad in retrospect, to team up with glam rock idol and later convicted paedophile Gary Glitter on a cover of "Leader of the gang"! Oops! Still, they were rescued by Motorhead, who got them signed to their own label, and they released an album called "Nightmare at Maple Cross" in 1986. The girls had reverted to a four-piece, with Kim again taking the vocals, and also back to their hard rock sound and away from the glam and fluff of their last two albums. Their attempt to break the US market by changing their image, style and their music had ended in abject failure, and AOR was an acronym they never wanted to hear again!

Their last attempt for the eighties was the album "Take a bite", released in 1988, but it did badly again and GWR, Motorhead's label, dropped them from its register. Also they did themselves no favours by hitting the road with Glitter, although of course they couldn't know and it's easy to be wise after the event. Nevertheless, when the dust had settled and in the wake of the accusations, trial and imprisonment of the ex-star in the late nineties through to the early twenty-first century, this choice to ally themselves to Glitter must have kept the girls awake at night. It certainly didn't help their later legacy. In 1990 Enid Williams returned to the band, and two years later they released the first album on their own label, self-titled to perhaps assure their fans that their abortive flirtation with AOR and the American soft rock sound was over.

The album however was received poorly, and the next year Kelly Johnson returned, but left before the recording of their next album, which would in fact not surface until 2004. "Believe" was actually given great reviews, and it's the last album I'm going to look at here, though it wasn't their last to date. Mind you, it should be noted that between 1992 and 2004 the girls weren't exactly sitting around on their leather-clad behinds: they released a live album, contributed to a celebration of the NWOBHM era with the Tygers and Saxon, put out an anniversary album and replaced Kelly Johnson with Jackie Chambers. They also, needless to say, toured with every band they could and in every territory they could reach.

Believe --- Girlschool --- 2004 (Communique)



"Come on up" opens with a heavy but more glam rock style, a softer vocal approach though the guitars are more in evidence than the recent keyboards. Driven on a nice bassline from Enid Williams and featuring her on vocals again, it's a clean, almost sparse song, different from the usual we've come to expect from them, and to be honest, "Let's get hard", despite its risque title, doesn't improve things much, even with Kim on vocals. Just missing something, I feel: almost like they're trying too hard, and yet not trying. If that makes any kind of sense. "Crazy" at least changes things around, starting with a gentle, almost post-rock guitar and moving slowly along on Enid's sublime bass allied to Denise Dufort's gentle percussion. It breaks out into a harder, almost old-school chorus with some tough guitar, and still not a keyboard in sight. I'd have to say, although it's early in the album, this is far and away my favourite, and restores my faith in this band. The other tracks are going to have to be something special to even hold a candle to this monumental anthem!

Fast rocker then for "We all love (to rock 'n' roll)"; great rolling drumbeat, but again it smacks of being something the girls think they should be writing rather than something they just wrote: it's too contrived, too generic and way, way too cliched. They even namecheck their old buddies Motorhead and run off a quick riff from "Ace of spades". Pass. Trying too hard again. "Secret" has a nice bitter nasty vibe about it, as the singer declares "My tongue is tied/ If I'm wined and dined", the intimation being that if you want your secret kept you had better make it worth my while! Kim's voice really suits this track, and "new" girl Jackie rips off a finely-crafted solo, then "A new beginning" rocks along with purpose and a nice message, though by now it's coming a little late perhaps.

Swaggering along with a real "look-at-me" rhythm, "C'mon" is decent enough, good chanted chorus harking back to the days of "Hit and run", and "Never say never" keeps that impression going with another good rocker with a powerful chorus and some grinding guitar work from Jackie Chambers. But "You say" is again more a constructed song than a true one, something they feel they should include on the album, while "Feel good" is okay I suppose, but all through this album, with the exception of "Crazy" I feel the girls are desperately trying to recreate the success they had with and the feel they had on their first two albums, not realising that those days are long gone. Their forays into AOR and basic desertion of their fans has taken all that away, and it's not something they'll ever get back, no matter how much they try to force it.

And so it goes. Which is not to say that there aren't decent tracks. "Hold on tight" is good fun, has a nice growling guitar and a good hook, while "Yes means yes" is a faster track but verging more back towards the AOR idea they're supposed to be pulling away from, though it is enjoyable. The album then closes on the gritty "We all have to choose", which could maybe be seen as a description of Girlschool's journey from metal to AOR and back through hard rock to mostly metal again. Good vocal harmonies, and again it's got AOR elements with a mixture of metal and straightahead rock going through it. Not a bad closer, though it ends really abruptly, which is a little unsettling.

TRACKLISTING


1. Come on up
2. Let's get hard
3. Crazy
4. We all love (to rock 'n' roll)
5. Secret
6. New beginning
7. C'mon
8. Never say never
9. You say
10. Feel good
11. Hold on tight
12. Yes means yes
13. We all have to choose

Having battled spinal cancer for several years, Kelly finally succumbed and passed away in 2007. This quite obviously and naturally hit her bandmates hard, and they played a tribute gig to her, the proceeds from which went to cancer research, as well as remembering her on their, so far, final album, 2008's appropriately-titled "Legacy". As of the time of writing, the remaining members of Girlschool are still recording, gigging and of course playing, over thirty years later, making them the oldest female rock band in history.

Like many bands before them, Girlschool began as a barebones, rough-and-ready metal band with simple songs and a simple message, just wanting to rock out and have fun, and prove they were as good at it as their male counterparts, who dominated the entire sphere of hard rock and heavy metal at the time. They foolishly listened to the cheque-book and cigar who assured them they would "break the States" if they could just change their music to fit that less raw market, and consequently not only failed to win over the Americans but lost many of their hardcore fans in the process (remember Praying Mantis, from the very first part of this series?). Luckily, they worked hard to get those fans back and mostly succeeded, but Girlschool, though always popular, never managed to make the big break forward to international stardom, and though they remained an important part of the NWOBHM scene, they will pretty much forever be known, unfortunately and perhaps unfairly, as both Motorhead's mates and the main all-female heavy metal band of that era.

Maybe that's not so bad a legacy, come to think of it.
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:20 PM   #1829 (permalink)
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I'm interested in seeing what you think of Bon Jovi's "What About Now." May I send it to you.
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:17 AM   #1830 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Powerstars View Post
I'm interested in seeing what you think of Bon Jovi's "What About Now." May I send it to you.
As a dyed-in-the-wool Bon Jovi fanatic I bought it when it came out. Just haven't had a chance to listen to it yet. So much to get through. Will try to make time over the next few weeks; perhaps I'll post it in my Micro-Reviews thread...
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