Friday, April 29, 2011

DUFF MCKAGAN'S LOADED -CD- THE TAKING

Duff McKagan is still hard to discuss or see without thinking Gun 'N' Roses although it has been many moons since his last days in the world of Axl. Forever linked to that historic chapter in rock Duff is also a member of Velvet Revolver. However Duff has his own band too. Duff McKagan's Loaded and their latest release, "The Taking" can stand up on its own.

"The Taking" is twelve hard rocking tunes that as a collective work separates itself from Duff's previous work in GNR and VR. It is not similar in sound to those bands nor am I claiming it is better. What I am saying is that there is now another band that Duff McKagan will be remembered for.

"The Taking" was produced by Terry Date who has worked with countless artists including Metal Church, Soundgarden, Pantera, Dream Theater, Ozzy and White Zombie to name just a few. Terry's wide range of work definitely helped mold this album which is a combination of hard rock, metal and punk. Sometimes all at once.

"Lords Of Abaddon" kicks things off with hard rock sound and punk rock vocals. Definitely a great lead off track as it is a killer song and makes you want to keep the disc playing. If that song doesn't grab you completely " Executioner's Song" will finish the job and in my opinion the most rocking tune on the whole disc. "Dead Skin" takes us back down punk rock road while "We Win" is an anthem reminiscent of the arena rock bands of the 80s.

This album is loaded with sing along choruses, some great guitar riffs and very strong vocals by Mr. McKagan. This of course lends itself to the question on why he keeps winding up in bands with temperamental singers when he is a pretty good one in his own right. An interesting note here is that Duff does not play bass on this CD, he plays rhythm guitar and is lead vocalist on all tracks.

"Cocaine" seems to be getting a lot of buzz as the song on this Cd that reminds everyone of Guns 'N' Roses. I can't help but imagine that it is more from trying to make a comparison to Duff's past then it actually being so. "Cocaine" is probably the most radio friendly song on here but I don't expect to hear a lot of Loaded on radio outside of the Boneyard (SiriusXM) and Eddie Trunk's Friday Night Rocks. That's unfortunate because this album is loaded with great music.

Another track, "Your Name" will have you banging your head while "We Win" is another tap your feet along track which was also used by MLB this past October during its coverage of the World Series. You get a strong effort from Duff and his band here and with it's high energy in your face style you won't be disappointed when you pick it up.

"The Taking" was released on April 19.

FULL TRACK LISTING:

01. Lords Of Abbadon
02. Executioners Song
03. Dead Skin
04. We Win
05. Easier Lying
06. She’s An Anchor
07. Indian Summer
08. Wrecking Ball
09. King Of The World
10. Cocaine
11. Your Name
12. Follow Me To Hell
*Some versions also have an alternate acoustic version of "Cocaine"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

FOO FIGHTERS -DOCUMENTARY- BACK AND FORTH

Let's be honest. If a current band approves of and participates in the filming of a documentary of itself the main goal is publicity and in this case an extended promo clip for their latest album release, "Wasting Light". Because of that slant long time fans of the band may be disappointed that there is no significant new knowledge to be gained about the band in this film. Something you'd probably expect in a documentary. Sure there may be a tiny snippet or two of some very minor things you didn't know but there are no earth shattering revelations to be had.

The film does cover the entire sixteen years of the band and is a great way to get acquainted with the Foo's timeline if you haven't been there from the beginning. The film's opening credits run alongside a montage of home movies and old photos of the band from when they were kids and clips representing the era of their youth. Then it cuts to close-up of Dave Grohl talking to an off screen interviewer. This is how all the interview scenes with current and former members of the band are conducted and interwoven into the film. Standard documentary style.

The beginning summarizes Grohl's relationship with the late great Kurt Cobain and his influence on his song writing. They of course then get into Nirvana and the release of Nevermind. This sadly culminates with Kurt's suicide and its impact on Dave and what he went through. You can still see the pain in Dave's face when he discusses losing his friend. A rough subject to start any film but necessary and important to the story.  James Moll's documentary is then able to tell the story of fighting Foo and gets extra kudos for including all members past and present to express their thoughts on the band.

This is not a huge budget production. A no frills look at one of the more successful and interesting music acts of the better part of the last two decades. Not the production you would expect but it was the right way to do it in my opinion based on the content and ultimate intention of highlighting the Foo Fighter's latest release, "Wasting Light".

All the events that led to the forming of the original lineup is here as well as documentation of all the lineup changes that have happened. The film nicely sums up the bands catalog of releases then zeroes in on their forthcoming (now out) seventh studio album. Highlights include Dave Grohl's own home movies of the recording of "Wasting Light" in his garage, the interaction that happens when friends and family of the band come in and out of the recording sessions and of course the snippets of concert and studio footage throughout the life of the band.

I felt the documentary ran a little too long at 1 hour and 42 minutes even though it did have a good flow to it. Die hard Foo fans will probably tell me it was too short. I enjoy the band a lot and will see them every time they play the NY metro area but to be fair this was a long commercial for "Wasting Light".



Thursday, April 14, 2011

MR. BIG -CD- WHAT IF...

I remember that day back in 1989 when I couldn't wait to throw in a new CD from Billy Sheehan's new band, Mr. Big. That self-titled debut roared out of the gate with "Addicted To That Rush" and addicted to this band I was. Mr. Big is a foursome of some of the finest musicians in the world. Eric Martin on vocals, Billy Sheehan on bass, Paul Gilbert on guitar and Pat Torpey on drums. (In 1999 guitar virtuoso Richie Kotzen replaces Gilbert on guitar who departed in 1997). Although they are tremendous musicians with a penchant for hard rock and have recorded some rockin' tunes they are most widely known for their breakout hit and ballad, "To Be With You". Including their debut they released six studio albums from 1989-2001. They also released eight live albums. All their live albums targeted the Japanese audience. Unlike here in the US where their success was fleeting with the singles "To Be With You"(1991) and "Wild World"(1993) Mr. Big were bonafide superstars in Japan and are still revered as rock star heroes. The band has also released four compilations or best of collections.

The original lineup reformed in 2009 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their self titled debut with a tour of Japan. It's success lead to the band recording their first album of new material since Actual Size(2001). The result of those recordings is the twelve track (11 + "bonus track") offering titled "What If...".

The first track, "Undertow", also the first single off the album, easily could have been on those first three masterpieces of hard rock, pop & glam metal (Mr. Big, Lean into it, Bump Ahead). Strong vocals, a chorus accompanied by that familiar sound and a killer solo. Yes indeed, you are listening to a Mr. Big record. Followed up by "American Beauty" a pure rock you to the bone tune that will have your fist in the air and banging your head.

Not every song on this record is a gem but I wouldn't call any of them clunkers either. It is without question a solid collection of tracks that any Mr. Big fan will enjoy and easily slip into their rotation of the bands previous works. People who find Mr. Big for the first time with this album will get an honest flavor of the band and will certainly want to get a hold of the earlier stuff.

"All The Way Up" is the one true ballad on the album. Eric Martin has proven in the past that he can handle the hard and heavy in your face rock song then turn around and nail the soft pull at your heart strings ballad. His performance here is no exception. Although "As Far As I Can See" is without question the song that Eric's vocal talents shine the most.

Let us not forget the bassist in this band. Mr. Sheehan shines through on "Around The World" but this entire album has a killer rythm section throughout thanks to Sheehan and Torpey. It's hard not to appreciate how well these great musicians compliment each other in all their work.

Paul Gilbert's fantastic throughout the record but is certainly the high point of "Unforgiven" the aforementioned bonus track.

This is a solid record but a terrific band that has a lot left in the tank. They kicked off a world tour in support of this record on April 2nd. If you get a chance go see this band live. They're tremendous in person.

WHAT IF... Complete Track Listing

1. Undertow
2. American Beauty
3. Stranger In My Life
4. Nobody Left To Blame
5. Still Ain't Enough For Me
6. Once Upon A Time
7. As Far As I Can See
8. All The Way Up
9. I Won't Get In My Way
10. Around The World
11. I Get The Feeling
12. Unforgiven (Bonus Track)

SOUNDGARDEN -CD- LIVE ON I-5

Soundgarden's "Live On I-5 was recorded during the band's 1996 U.S. tour. The tracks are from various stops on the tour. Well five stops on the tour. It is the first official live release for the band.  This collection of live tracks was supposed to be completed and released the following year but that derailed when Soundgarden broke up in April 1997. Their reunion last year obviously helped these recording finally get assembled and released for our enjoyment.

The 17 tracks that comprise "Live On I-5" capture Soundgarden at the height of their success and their most powerful performances. You would never guess from the tightness of the band playing together on these performances that a break-up was on the horizon. Another signal of their mastery at the time is the seamlessness these recordings from various venues come across as one individual concert. I often find that live albums with each song recorded in a different city doesn't have any continuity to it and is obviously a collection of different recordings. This collection not only defies that but is a testament to the consistency of Soundgarden night in and night out at the time.

In addition to all the Soundgarden classics Chris Cornell performs a riveting solo rendition of "Black Hole Sun" and the band does two killer covers. The Stooges "Search & Destroy" and the Beatles "Helter Skelter". Although the latter has been covered to death by countless others Soundgarden does do it justice and it definitely goes with this set list.

This is going to be a well received album by the Soundgarden faithful. The casual fan may be put off by the difference some of the classic Soundgarden tunes have live with extended jams or accentuated parts but some of the finest musicians to ever come out of the grunge era. New fans should be sure to get to know the studio recordings first. "Badmotorfinger" and "Superunknown" would be a good place for someone just being introduced to the band to start.

LIVE ON I-5 Complete Track Listing:

1 Spoonman (DelMar)
2 SearchingWithMyGoodEyeClosed (DelMar)
3 LetMeDrown (DelMar)
4 HeadDown (Seattle)
5 Outshined (DelMar)
6 RustyCage (Vancouver)
7 BurdenInMyHand (Salem)
8 HelterSkelter (DelMar)
9 BootCamp (DelMar)
10 NothingToSay (Seattle)
11 SlavesAndBulldozers (Oakland)
12 Dusty (Oakland)
13 FellOnBlackDays (Oakland)
14 SearchAndDestroy (Seattle)
15 TyCobb (DelMar)
16 BlackHoleSun (Seattle)
17 JesusChristPose (Oakland)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

GREAT WHITE -CD- ABSOLUTE HITS

I am a fan of Great White. They're not one of my all time greatest bands but they have a nice sound and a handful of killer tunes. Their latest release, "Absolute Hits" is a greatest hits collection. That in itself is not a terrible thing although I have always found that greatest hit collections were just a lazy way to release a new album/CD for profit without any effort because those songs have already been released. That said I have a number of greatest hit collections in my collection of albums so I guess it's a method that works. My big problem here is that this is the 11th, that's right, the 11th greatest hits collection released from the band. For comparison they have also released 11 studio albums. So does 11 studio albums and 11 greatest hits albums compute? This does not count the seven live albums they have released which realistically is another seven greatest hits albums.

Anyhow, as I said I am a fan of Great White. Mark Kendall's guitar work is one of the many great underrated guitar players. Jack Russell has a distinct sound to his voice and his collaboration with Kendall is the foundation of this band's greatest work. Sadly this moderately successful band is better known for its association with the tragic "Station Nightclub Fire" then for their music. An association that will forever haunt them and all those connected to that dark event in history. 

If you are a huge fan of Great White or that lunatic fan of the genre who needs every CD by every band like myself you'll probably buy this, like I did, but you won't find anything new on it. It is probably the best of the eleven greatest hits collections. It is a collection of their most notable songs and has all their biggest and best tracks.

New fans to Great White will get the best snapshot of the band from this collection more so than any of the others. It is also a great CD to give someone you want to turn on to the band.

Great White has some US tour dates listed for Spring and Summer including the M3 Rock Festival in Maryland. Get out there and see some live music.

The complete track listing of "Absolute Hits"
1. Call It Rock & Roll
2. Once Bitten Twice Shy
3. Mista Bone
4. Save Your Love
5. House Of Broken Love
6. Stick It
7. Old Rose Motel
8. Rock Me
9. All Over Now
10. She Only
11. Lady Red Light
12. Desert Moon
13. Face The Day
14. The Angel Song
15. Big Goodbye

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

FOO FIGHTERS -CD- WASTING LIGHT

In 1993 if you were watching Nirvana perform, turned to your buddy and said, "Dave Grohl is going to form a new band after all this and make a killer pop music record" you would've either laughed out loud or poured your beer over his head. Far from the dark and haunting lyrics and monster sound of Nirvana, the Foo Fighters latest masterpiece, "Wasting Light" is clearly and distinctly a pop music record. Not that there is anything wrong with pop music but for those Grohl fans who enjoy a harder sound and were not always sure if his current band is a rock band or a pop band, "Wasting Light" does not confuse as it is a catchy, energetic, sing along pop music record. A pretty good one at that. It still has some powerful riffs and thunderous beats but they are more parts of songs rather than the direction of a song.
"Wasting Light" was produced by Nirvana's "Nevermind" producer. Grohl has gone out of his way to say that this CD was recorded in his garage to put an emphasis on going back to basics. Although I'm guessing that Dave Grohl's garage these days is not as basic as his garage may have been 20+ years ago. Strangely it has also been emphasized that "Wasting Light" was recorded only on analog tape without using the digital recording methods of today. To each their own but if that is going to be the emphasis I don't want to see a "SPECIAL DIGITAL EDITION" down the road. You did or you didn't.

"Bridge Burning" an arena rock anthem style song kicks the CD off nicely followed by the debut single, "Rope", which has a nice hook and is a great representative of what this CD brings to the table. That is followed by similar type tracks "Dear Rosemary" and "White Limo". Then there is "Arlandria" and "These Days". The latter being a more subdued track and if following the arena rock script of the 80s would be the second single off the CD. "Back & Forth" and the more melodic "A Matter of Time". The big arena rock sound on "Miss the Misery". Then you have "I Should Have Known" in which former Nirvana band mate Krist Novoselic plays bass. The final track, "Walk" rounds out a nice set of new material.

Anthems, sing-a-long choruses and big hooks. They're all here.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

FASTWAY -CD 1983-RETRO PICK

There were a lot of awesome hard rock and metal albums released in 1983. Def Leppard's Pyromania, Triumph's Never Surrender, Quiet Riot's Metal Health, Saxon's Power & the Glory, Piece of Mind by Iron Maiden, Another Perfect Day by Motorhead, You Can't Stop Rock and Roll by Twisted Sister, Kill 'em All by Metallica, Flick of the Switch by AC/DC and Dio's Holy Diver just to name a few.

In April 1983 there was also another album released by an outfit called Fastway. It was their debut which was self titled. It may have only sold a fraction of units that many of the above mentioned classics but this is without hesitation a great album.

Fastway was a British metal bad formed by former Motorhead guitarist "Fast" Eddie Clarke and former UFO bassist Pete Way. They combined the Fast from Eddie and the Way from Pete and called themselves Fastway. Neither were happy in their bands and left to create a new band together. It should be noted that both Motorhead and UFO released albums in 1983 also. Pete and Eddie recruited former Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley and unknown vocalist Dave King to fill out the band's lineup. Pete Way then learned he would not be let out of his deal with Chrysalis records and could not continue with Fastway. Session musician Mick Feat replaced him for the recording of this self-titled debut. Although it is Feat playing bass it is still Way who is credited on the record.

"Easy Livin'" & "Feel Me, Touch Me (Do Anything you Want)"are fist-waving upbeat anthem rockers. Catchy tunes that stay with you. "You Get Me Runnin" is another catchy sing along song with the usual hard rock overtones of the day. There is no doubt that Dave King was influenced in his style by Robert Plant but he is not a clone as he  showcases his own style and permeates a passion and mood equal to each song's lyrics. The quintessential gem of this collection is "Say What You Will" with blistering vocals and killer fret work from Mr. Clarke.

Definitely something you should check out if you missed out on in 1983 or worth checking out again if you did. These tunes hold up today as well as they did back then. It's available from Amazon.com and other outlets. Full track listing from Amazon below.

1. Easy Living
2. Feel Me, Touch Me (Do Anything You Want)
3. All I Need Is Your Love
4. Another Day
5. Heft!
6. We Become One
7. Give It All You Got
8. Say What You Will
9. You Got Me Runnin'
10. Give It Some Action
11. Far Far from Home




Monday, April 4, 2011

WHITE SNAKE -CD- FOREVERMORE

In 1987 Whitesnake released their self-titled blockbuster. That record brought David Coverdale's band it's greatest success and fame and is a classic that still holds up today more than two decades later. Their follow-up, 1989's Slip of the Tongue garnered some commercial success but was not even close to the blockbuster of it's predecessor. Since then we've seen only two Whitesnake discs with new material. It has taken 24 years but the best record since 1987 and as rockin' as that 1987 classic is here.

Forevermore contains 13 new tracks plus 3 additional tracks that are just different versions of three out of the 13 new tracks.

Love him or hate him David Coverdale sounds as good on this record as he did in the 80s. He is of course at his swaggering front man best on the power ballad and his performance on the title track, Forevermore, is no exception. At 59 David is as vocally strong as ever.

You are not going to find any groundbreaking music here. That's okay because we are not looking for Whitesnake to stray from the formula that helped us fall in love with them a generation ago. You'll find a comforting sense of that old sound in these new but familiar sounding songs. There is a good balance of the bluesier Whitesnake and the rocking Whitesnake here and long time fans will be happy.

Hard for me not to love the bluesy-hard rock opener, "Steal Your Heart Away", might be my favorite so far. That is followed by "All Out Of Luck" and "Love Will Set You Free" which has a true classic rock feel to it. Next tracks are "Easier Said Than Done" which will remind you of "Is This Love" or "The Deeper The Love" or both. "Tell Me How", "I Need You (Shine A Light)" which is a true melodic, tap your feet and sing-a-long song. The remaining tunes are "One Of These Days", "Love & Treat Me Right, "Dogs In The Street", for me the weakest tune on the record, "Fare Thee Well", "Whipping Boy Blues", "My Evil Ways" and the aforementioned title track.

In addition the three bonus tracks are an alternative mix of "Love Will Set You Free", An acoustic version of "Forevermore" and another version of "My Evil Ways" subtitled "My Evil Drum Mix".

Not to be lost, the quality of these songs are made possible thanks to the strong lineup of talent DC has surrounded himself with this time out. Michael Devin on bass and Brian Tichy on drums are a formidable rythm section. Combine that with the twin axe attack of Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach and Timothy Drury on keybopards and you have a collection of great musicians who I can't wait to see on tour this May.

Forevermore also comes in a special box set edition which, among other things, has a vinyl version of the record, the CD version, a DVD, poster and sticker. There is also a digipack available with the CD and DVD.