Friday April 30th…the end of another month. And this week, we actually have 30 new releases for you to look over. Hopefully something in this bunch will float your boat. My boat is rocking with a couple killer releases and then my boat feels a little country too with another. My choices are in Blue. Let me know which ones you are dying to hear and which ones I might have missed as I am sure there are some despite the large number here. Thanks for stopping by each week and for all the support. I hope you all have a great and rocking weekend!!
Royal Bloods – Typhoons – (Warner Bros): This album was supposed to come out last year and I have been waiting a long while for it to finally arrive. Their last album, the 2017 “How Did We Get So Dark?”, was smashing. If you like rock with a little blues, a little garage rock sound and just plain hard, then this is for you!!
Gojira – Fortitudes – (Roadrunner Records): If Royal Blood isn’t heavy enough for you then Gojira might more up your alley. This French metal band has the goods and delivers all the time. The last album was back in 2016 and was called “Magma” and it was a lava filled volcano of rock. This should be just as good or better…yes, expectations are high!!
On our journey through the band Kiss, we have taken detours for one side project from every member of the band. We are almost done with that part of the journey as we only have two members left we haven’t covered. The first of those is Gene Simmons. In 2004, in between all the band’s touring, Gene managed to put together an album for his first “true” solo album. I say it that way because his first solo album was part of the 4 Kiss solo albums each member did that was under the Kiss logo. This is his first proper one. If you remember his first, you will remember it was very diverse and had a ton of guest appearances on the album. Let me tell you, this album is in no way different. It is also all over the place style wise and contains more guest appearances than any album in the history of albums…okay, that is a bit much, but there are a lot of guests.
The album was released on June 8, 2004 and didn’t do that great only going to #86 on the Billboard Charts. There is both an unedited version of the album (and cover) and an edited version of the album (and cover). The cover picture for this post is the edited as I was worried the unedited one might get dinged on Facebook or Twitter for being too offensive. And as you can see by the picture below, you get an idea of what the unedited might be like. Now, before we move on, is anyone else wondering where that finger has been in the picture below or is it just me??? I am also waiting for any minute that Sir Mix A Lot will pop out and sing his signature song…again..is that just me???
I am very familiar with this album, but not for the reason you think. It wasn’t because I ran out and bought this. Nope. I actually just bought this album a few weeks ago, because I need it to complete the collection. My familiarity with it comes from Gene Simmons ‘The Vault” as almost every song is on that collection and is on it in demo form except for maybe one or two tracks. And sometimes they are on there numerous times at different stages of completion. I will be completely honest with you…I prefer ‘The Vault’ versions immensely more than this. Why? Because at least I knew “The Vault’ versions were demos, these are supposed to be finished products, but I’m sorry, they aren’t that good AT ALL!! With minor exceptions.
The album kicks off the album with what is probably the best song on the album. And I will go further and say it is one of my favorite Gene tracks. “Sweet & Dirty Love” is a beast of a track. It rocks out with the help of Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer on guitar and drums, respectively. It is what you want the Demon to do as a song and Gene hits some killer notes and has never sounded better. I like one of ‘The Vault’ versions better only because it is a little more raw and raunchy as this is very polished. But still, the best song on the album.
The second track is a cover which is a little early to have it the #2 song on the CD in my book. And it is a strange one as Gene is covering “Firestarter” by Prodigy. The guitar work on here is fantastic as that is handled by Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction fame. Gene sticks to the original version for the most part and the song is ver industrial with that metallic sound and I know people think this song is awful, but I think it is so bad it is now good. I actually don’t mind it because I do love the music in it and Gene is being Gene which I have to admit I like at times.
Then we get to the song “Weapons Of Mass Destruction” which is another heavy song, completely balls to the walls bombastic power. There is even a punk edge to it. It has Bruce and Eric back helping out and if you take out the stupid “E Pluribus Unum” quote in the lyrics, this would a 5 star song, but I will ding it down to a 4. Another great track and really the last of the really good ones. There are two demos on ‘The Vault’, one with Eric and Tommy Thayer that is a little slower and darker. The other lyrics were written and it was given to Ace to play after it wasn’t picked for ‘Psycho Circus which was the original intention. The Ace version is killer. After this the album goes to shit.
Next we get the song Gene wrote with Bob Dylan…yes, that Bob Dylan. It is a ballad and it is bloody awful. It is called “Waiting on the Morning Light” and I think Gene is trying to be Dylan and he isn’t the Bob Dylan type of writer and that is okay, we love him for him. It is just a bad attempt at trying too hard.
Then we get a synth song called “Beautiful” with Mark Addison helping on guitars and such and Nina Singh on percussion who wrote the song. It is another ballad that has a nice chorus and is a pretty good effort that just falls short of being a great ballad. That annoying synth sound doesn’t really help. The verses are a little rough vocally, but he makes up for it in the chorus. “The Vault” version is actually cleaner sounding and I like it better than this one.
We are now at the title track “Asshole” which is rocking track where Gene embraces the whole “asshole” personae. It is a rock anthem type song that makes you want to scream “asshole” right at Gene and helps make it a fun singalong. It is still not a great song, but it will pass. Now, the edited version is atrocious as it doesn’t bleep out asshole, it just turns the “ass” part in to what sounds like a goat…it is horrendous.
“Now That You’re Gone” is a song Gene wrote with Bob Kulick. You get his daughter Sophie on background vocals along with Zachary Grant and Jeff Diehl on keyboards. The bass is real strong on this one, it has a children’s choir type sound with Sophie and Zachary. It plods along going nowhere and is totally uninteresting and lifeless and that is putting it nicely. ‘The Vault’ has three versions of this song and none are really that great.
Then we get “Whatever Turns You On” was a demo received from a band Gene was working with and Gene took it from them but it has the co-write of Dave Williams so he didn’t steal it. If you are going to steal a song, steal something better. This sounds like a bunch of drunks hanging around and partying having a good time and thought it would be a good idea to record it, but they’d be wrong. It does have his lovely wife Shannon Tweed and her mom on the background vocals along with Dave. I think with some work, this song could’ve been turned in to something better than what is here. At least they sound like they are having more fun than the listener. This one is on ‘The Vault’ as well with about the same effect, maybe a little better.
“Dog” was written by Gene and Alex Chuaqui (or Bags as Gene had him change his name as Alex Chuaqui wasn’t a good enough rock name and too ethnic) On the song Gene howls like a dog and he speaks a very sexual and dirty Little Red Riding Hood verse that is as dirty as it gets. It is a mid-tempo song and is so close to being something good. It isn’t bad, but could’ve been more.
Then we get an unexpected surprise an unfinished Frank Zappa song called “Black Tongue” that Gene licensed from the estate and finished it up with the help fo the entire Zappa family as Dweezil, Ahmet, Moon and Gail are all on background vocals. Frank even has a speaking part that was left over from the original demo. The guitar work is sensational as you would expect because it is being handled by Richie Kotzen. Zappa’s guitar riffs are their, Richie does the solo and adds some flair. It sounds like a mixture of grunge with still a hint of that Zappa psychedelic vibe. I will admit I like this song.
Next we get “Carnival of Souls” which was written by Gene and Scott Van Zen and recorded back in 1993 or 1994 originally. It was passed over for both the ‘Carnival of Souls’ album and ‘Psycho Circus’. ‘The Vault’ has two versions of it and both are really good. One version is a little slower tempo and much darker which is always a good thing. This version is heavy, speedy and a rocking track. It isn’t half bad. I will keep this one especially since it is another with Richie Kotzen on guitar. Also, Nick Tweed Simmons does the background vocals so now the whole family was involved.
Then we get what might be the worst song on the album “If I Had A Gun” is a horrible topic and just a horrible pile of dung. It sounds like what comes out of an Asshole for sure so if that was the intent, then he struck gold. Not a great song for all the gun violence we have. It slows down and speeds up and goes back and forth but feels so disconnected and utter trash. Skip this one as fast as you can. I skipped ‘The Vault’ version to and wound up on My Worst of the Vault list.
Lastly, we get a similar ending as we got on his 1978 solo album. Almost a carbon copy of that Disney sounding song is this copycat “1,000 Dreams”. This one even has a country music flair to it. Please cue the vomit inducing noise now as that is what you want to do when you hear this. More garbage and the worst way to end this album. Good Riddance.
Sweet & Dirty Love – Keeper
Firestarter – Keeper
Weapons of Mass Destruction – Keeper
Waiting for the Morning Light – Delete
Beautiful – Keeper(1/2 Point)
Asshole – Keeper(1/2 Point)
Now That You’re Gone – Delete
Whatever Turns You On – Delete
Dog – Keeper(1/2 Point)
Black Tongue – Keeper
Carnival of Souls – Keeper
If I Had A Gun – Delete
1,000 Dreams – Delete
The Track Score is 6.5 out of 13 or 50% which is probably way to generous on my part. I have a soft spot for Gene, what can I say. However, I still think this album is horrible and not worth getting unless you are a diehard like me or a glutton for punishment. The songs are all over the place and there seems to be no direction and the album is definitely lacking good flow. Overall, the album only get s a 2.0 out of 5.0 Stars and that is probably too high of a score but that is what I am giving it. To me, ‘The Vault’ was worth what I paid for it, but this one, not so much.
Next Up: Kiss – Rock the Nation Live ! – DVD (2005)
Check out the rest of the series if you have time!!
April was a solid month of purchases and some great finds. I went digging at an antique mall and cleaned up, I found a few things on ebay and discogs I needed for something special and then I found a few things that were especially cool.
First up, we will go with the especially cool things. I am a big fan of the Train album ‘Drops of Jupiter’ for many reasons. One, it is a really great album! Two, my brother-in-law was the engineer on that album. So when the 20th Anniversary Edition popped up online, I had to grab as I don’t think it had ever been issued on vinyl prior which means I didn’t have it. It is a beauty…
The next was a Michael Sweet album. Stryper released an album years ago called ‘Reborn’ which was the band’s comeback album. The album was originally done as a Michael Sweet solo album, but it was decided to redo it for the band. Well, now we get the original Michael Sweet solo album the way it was intended. This one is called “Reborn Again” and is on a fiery red vinyl and is autographed (on the back) by Michael Sweet…SWEET!!!
I have been reading a lot lately and I was able to get this book on my Kindle for the super low price of nothing so I thought, what the hell. I really like Rudy Sarzo, I like Ozzy, I like Randy Rhoda’s so why not check this out. The book was written by former Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne bassist, Rudy Sarzo and he chronicles his short time in Ozzy’s touring band the Blizzard of Ozz. This time period is that same time period as when Randy Rhoda’s was in the band and Rudy wanted to capture those moments and felt the story needed to be told. I have to say, I think he is right and I thoroughly enjoyed walking through in great detail, the tours he played on.
The book starts off the day Randy went up in the plane and would crash and end his short time on this planet. The story then immediately jumps back in time to right before Rudy was brought in to Ozzy’s band. Rudy had been in Quiet Riot for a short time with Randy and the band got famous in Japan, but not in the U.S. The group had stalled and Randy went and joined Ozzy’s band and Rudy joined a band called Private Army with his friend Frankie Banali. In the meantime, Ozzy’s debut solo album was released in 1980 and right before the band was to go on tour in 1981, Ozzy fired the drummer and bass player. Randy was still in the band. Tommy Aldridge was quickly brought in, but the band needed a bass player. Randy called Rudy and Rudy would go to Don Arden’s house (Sharon Osbourne’s day and Jet Records President) to meet Ozzy and Sharon and audition. Well, needless to say, things worked out or this book wouldn’t have been written.
Rudy chronicles the entire journey through the tour for Blizzard of Ozz and the Tour for Diary of a Madman. It feels like he kept a lot of notes about what happened at each show, but also, he had help. At the end of the Blizzard Tour, Sharon gave him a scrapbook of every show including newspaper clippings of the reviews of the shows. What is funny is the fact that a ton of these reviews would list the original band which was not Rudy or Tommy which goes to show the writers knew nothing about the band and didn’t even bother going to the show.
As Queen prepared for their follow-up album to ‘A Day at the Races’, the musical landscape was changing in the UK. The Punk scene was starting to takeover so Queen decided to adapt to the times. No, they didn’t make a punk album, but what they did was drop the grandiose ideas of the previous albums and strip it all back to their rock roots and made it a little more raw. As a result, the band put out their most popular album they ever released.
It was released on October 28, 1977 and the band saw the album go to #4 in the UK and #3 in the US and the album went quickly to platinum status. In fact, the album has sold over 10,000,000 copies around the world marking it as their best selling studio album. With 3 official singles (4 if you count the B-side success of “We Will Rock You”), the band was ready to take over the world
The band was still in tact with Freddie Mercury, Brian May, John Deacon and Roger Taylor. However, Brian and Freddie didn’t write the majority of the songs as usual. John and Roger both contributed 2 songs each this time around instead of their usual 1 song (well not usual for John as he had only one credit prior to this album). The band worked more as a band this time around. As a result, we get an album that completely feels like a full band contribution and we get a beast of an album.
For My Sunday Song #245, we are going to discuss the song “What You Need” by INXS. The song was written by Andres Farriss and Michael Hutchence and the first single off their 1985 album ‘Listen Like Thieves’ (2nd single in the US). The song was the band’s first Top Ten hit in the States as it went all the way to #5. I think it was probably the first time I started to take notice of this band and the lead singer Michael Hutchence. I could tell there was something special about them and they proved me right as they would blow up on the next album.
“What You Need” was the last song recorded for the album. The were pretty much done with the album when the producer, Chris Thomas, didn’t feel there was a “HIT” on the album. The band had one more day left and they needed to come up with a hit. Talk about pressure, dang!! Well, as you already know, they succeeded above all expectations. Now don’t think they pulled rabbit out of the hat with the song. Andrew Farris had a demo laying around called “Funk Song No. 13” and Chris really liked the groove and they worked it in to this beauty of a song.
Lyrically, I’ve never really seen what they’ve said it meant. There aren’t a lot of lyrics, but they seem pretty straight forward. They are about Michael Hutchence saying all you need is him or it is about needing God in your life and only He can give you what you really need. Or, it can be about whatever you want it to be about. Completely up to you.
Happy Friday everyone! Spring is upon and us and things are heating up both in temperature and releases. We have some great stuff for you today, at least I hope you find some of it great. Lots of rock, lots of Indie and lots of country. I know I’m excited as I have 3 new albums I am eagerly waiting on and those are marked in Blue. Let me know what you are interested in hearing and what I may have missed on my list so everyone can know what is out there. Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend.
Reach – The Promise of a Life – (Icons Creating Evil Art): This three-piece band from Sweden is back with their third album. Their last album, ‘The Great Divine’, was my favorite album a few years ago so can’t wait for this one. The used to be a little melodic rock, but now they are far from it. They are way more alternative rock now in the vein of maybe The Muse or even Panic at times. We will see if I like the new direction, but I have a feeling I still will.
Kaleo – Surface Sounds – (Elektra Records): Are you ready for Icelandic Blues Rock…you heard me right. This band from Iceland are the real deal. This is their third album that was supposed to come out last year right around the time the pandemic hit and now we are finally getting it. They are a solid blues band and you will be in for a treat.
To celebrate the band’s 30th Anniversary, it was decided that another live album was needed. However, not just any live album. Kiss was going to perform a show with a full 60-piece orchestra. Now this was the early 2000’s and apparently playing with an orchestra was the new trending thing to do especially due to the success of Metallica’s own orchestra performance on S&M in 1999. So Kiss followed trends yet again with their own version. Now they could’ve phoned it in and just put the songs together and then tack on the orchestra in the studio like I have seen some bands do (hello Jorn), but they didn’t do that. Instead, they actually performed a full live show in front of an audience with an orchestra. Good on them for not doing it half-ass.
The band at the time really was just going to be Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. They really didn’t have a need for Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Instead they were going to use Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, but there was a problem. The contract with the promoter stated they had to have 3 “Original” members. Well, that changed things. Ace was definitely out, he was done. The band had to bring in Peter back to the fold so Eric was out and now Kiss was Gene, Paul, Peter and Tommy. Peter wouldn’t last much longer though.
Judas Priest wasted no time in jumping back in the studio after the Stained Class Tour. That album was released in February 1978 and ‘Killing Machine’ came out 8 months later on October 9, 1978. The band recorded the album between August/September of that year and they were a well-oiled machine at this point. The album would hit #128 on the US Charts and it would go Gold showing that a good metal album didn’t need to go high on the charts to still be successful. However, the album in the U.S. was different than the U.K.. In the U.S., they couldn’t use the name ‘Killing Machine’ as they had seen a rash of school shootings and thought that name was too aggressive for the U.S. market. The name was changed to ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ and they re-arranged the track listing.
Speaking of leather, Priest decided it was time for some changes, not in personnel, but in the style and substance. First is style. Rob had become a little obsessed with the whole leather and stud outfits as Rob and the band took to the change with no hesitation. The classic Priest look was now set. Then the change was substance. The band worked on making the songs more accessible and decided to shy away from the fantasy themes and make things more real, more what the U.S. audience would want to hear And I would say they succeeded as this is more a straight up metal album, all the songs are relatively short and although still have some dark themes, they are more radio-friendly might be a good way to say it. It was the start of some great things to come with the band.
Speaking of band, the line-up is unchanged yet again. It is still Rob Halford, K.K. Downing, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Les Binks. However, it would Les Binks’ last studio album with the band as by the time the next studio album rolls around, Priest needs a new drummer…AGAIN!! But for now, let’s have the music do the talking.
“Love Hurts” is a classic song by the band Nazareth. But did you know it is actually a cover? Nope, me neither. It is the most famous version of the song and the first time it was ever a hit single in the US. The song was actually written by Boudleaux Bryant and recorded by the Everly Brothers back in 1960. However it didn’t reach the charts and wasn’t a hit until Nazareth covered it in 1975 and included on their album ‘Hair of the Dog’. It reached #8 in the US and went Gold. Not too shabby.
The song is about a man who discovers that young love is so hot, but it burns out just as hot and fast. When the flame goes out it burns, it hurts and is painful. He is telling those that are so in love and all they are doing is talking about it that in the end love fades and you will get burned. It is a really sad song when you think about it. They kept pretty true to the original song only changing the one line “love is like a stove/it burns you when it’s hot” and changing it to be “love is like a flame/it burns you when it’s hot”. I have to admit, flame is way better than stove.