Queen – ‘The Miracle’ (1989) – Album Review (The Studio Album Series)

After the Magic Tour ended in 1986, which was supporting the album ‘A Kind of Magic’, the band took a break. Not much happened in 1987 and the band went its longest time between albums. They finally did start recording a new album in January 1988 and it took a whole year before they were finally finished in January 1989. The band was going through a lot during this time period. Brian May was going through a very tumultuous marital problems that actually put him in to depression. And to make matters worse, Freddie had been diagnosed with HIV and suffering through the effects of that illness. At the time, there had been speculation of Freddie’s illness but at the time, it wasn’t confirmed publicly although the band was well aware of the diagnosis.

The album was finished and was finally released on May 22, 1989 and titled ‘The Miracle’ which sounds like that is exactly what it was to get the album finished. At one time, the album title was going to be ‘The Invisible Men’ but was changed suddenly at the last minute. I think the final title fits what was going on in their lives. Thankfully, we got another album from the band. The album went to #1 in several countries, including the UK, but only hit #24 in the US. It was certified Platinum in the UK, but I don’t believe has ever been certified Gold or anything in the US. For me, it was a day one purchase so I know they sold at least one copy in the US.

The band did something different with this album as well. All the songs were credited to the band ‘Queen’ and not to each individual member that actually wrote the song. The band was being more collaborative and felt this was the right thing to do. Now, however, we know who actually wrote each song but I liked the fact at this point in their career, they felt that crediting it to each member was the right thing to do. The album cover with the faces morphed together as one is in line with the collaborative feeling.

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Judas Priest – ‘Priest…Live!’ (1987) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

It was time for Priest to release another live album. After the success of the band’s 1986 album ‘Turbo’ and the very successful tour called ‘Fuel for Life Tour’, the band was still riding high. It was decided to capture this new era of Priest with a live album. The album takes songs from two of the band’s shows on the tour. The first was from my hometown of Atlanta, Ga from the show on June 15, 1986 at the Omni. Back then I would’ve been 17 years old and about to start my Senior Year in High School which means I was in to the whole glam rock scene with the likes of Poison and Ratt and those bands. I wasn’t listening to Priest so completely missed that show…now I look on it sadly because what a show it would’ve been. The second show they took songs from was from the Dallas, TX show on June 27, 1986 at Reunion Arena. And from the sounds of this album, both shows were spectacular.

What I find really cool about this release is they did the same thing Kiss did with Alive! and Alive II. They did not repeat any tracks on the albums. Yep, all the songs on Priest…Live! were from the era after ‘Unleashed in the East’ so you get an entirely new set of songs. As a fan, I completely appreciate and love that fact. Then you can throw on both albums and play them back to back and get a killer show with no repeats. Good job guys.

The track listing is great with over 15 tracks covering the 5 albums. You get 5 from ‘Turbo’ which makes sense since that is the album they were touring at the time. You get 4 from ‘Defenders of the Faith’, 2 from ‘Screaming for Vengeance’, only 1 from ‘Point of Entry’ and 3 from ‘British Steel’. The version I have has 3 bonus tracks which is 1 from ‘Defenders of the Faith’, 1 from ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ and ‘Hell Bent for Leather’ which would technically be the only repeat, but since this is a bonus track and not on the original album it doesn’t count.

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Queen – ‘A Kind of Magic’ (1986) – Album Review (The Studio Album Series)

During 1985, Queen performed at the Live Aid on July 13th in the UK at Wembley Stadium. Their performance is legendary and actually helped catapult the band back in to the limelight. The Live Aid performance was one of the biggest scenes for the film, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, in 2018. Still high from the performance, in September 1985, Freddie called the band together to write songs and work was begun on the band’s 12th studio album, ‘A Kind of Magic’.

The band continued recording until April of 1986 and in that time, they were also working on songs for the upcoming Sci-fi cult classic, ‘Highlander’, starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. The album that would become basically an unofficial soundtrack to the movie as no official soundtrack was ever released. A lot of the songs on the album were from the movie and the rest were other songs the band was working on at the time. The album is noted for also being the first album the band had ever recorded in digital and not analog. It was one of the few CDs I had at the time that was truly ‘DDD’ which was on the back of the CD case. ‘DDD’ basically it was recorded, mixed and mastered all in digital and it was one of the best sounding CDs I owned at the time.

The album was released on June 2, 1986 and in the UK, the album went straight to #1 and sold over 600,000 copies making it 2X platinum. In the U.S., it only went to #46 and barely made Gold selling around 500,000 copies…yes, the U.S. requires sells of over 1,000,000 to be platinum. The U.K., not as strict. For me, this album was my first real dive in to Queen. It was the first Queen album I bought and it would start a fandom that has lasted for 35 years. With that, I think it is time to get in to the music.

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You Pick It! – Which Album To Review in August?

You, my reader, are going to pick an album for me to review each month.  It is really simple…first, I will give you 5 albums to choose from and second, you will tell me which one of those you would like to see reviewed on the site.  See…simple!

There are a few simple rules I have put in to place in my selections.  They are…

  • One has to be a new release (within the last month)
  • One has to be one I have never heard before (new releases don’t count for this one)
  • One has to be from a genre I don’t normally listen to at all or very often
  • And the last two are choices from my collection that I haven’t reviewed before

What are the 5 albums you ask?  Funny you should ask because I have those right here…

  New Release – The Wallflowers – ‘Exit Wounds’

  Never Heard Before – The Sex Pistols – ‘Never Mind the Bollocks’

  Not My Normal Genre – Wu Tang Clan – ‘Enter the Wu Tang (36 Chambers)’

  From My Collection – Black Sabbath – ‘Paranoid’

  From My Collection – Twisted Sister – ‘Under the Blade’

Let me know which one you would like to see and sometime in August, I will post a review of the album that gets the most votes. You have one week to decide and from there I will start listening to the album and do a review.

Thanks for participating!!

Kiss – “Off the Soundboard: Tokyo 2001” (2021) – Album Review ( The Kiss Review Series)

After over a year of reviewing everything Kiss and pretty much everything in my collection, we are finally to very last Kiss record in the collection…I am sure it won’t be the last as they will release more over the years to come and I will add them to the series. For now, this is it though. Kiss has finally realized they can make money on these Kiss Bootlegs that are out in the wild by finally releasing their own Bootleg Series called “Off the Soundboard”. First up for them is the show from Tokyo 2001 which is a short era of the band that has little to no representation anywhere else. It was with the line up of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, of course, but also features Eric Singer on drums and Ace Frehley on lead guitar. This line-up was only around a very short time right after the first Farewell Tour that was really a farewell to Peter. And it is this line-up that is the major selling point which is why they highlighted it on the front cover.

The album came out last month on June 11, 2021 and it is great to go out on the Review Series with a new release, but do note, I would’ve bought it no matter what. The packaging is really fantastic and yet very simple. Kiss brilliantly gave the set a look like it was really a bootleg. It looks like cheap cardboard box with everything just stamped on to the box. It looks cheap and yet it is that cheapness that is the brilliance. The vinyl are on a white label that looks like the info was also stamped and typed on to it which gives it even more of a bootleg feel. If it is going to be an official bootleg, make it look like one and they did. I hope this is the beginning of a lot of great shows that are out there in the bootleg world and yet we will get a cleaned up mix with some great sound and this one is a perfect start.

The show for this release was on March 13, 2001 at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan. This was actually part of the Farewell Tour and really close to the end. As I mentioned earlier, by the time this show was done, Peter was gone and Eric Singer was brought in. This set list is impressive. It contains 21 songs and includes all the solos, the great Paul Stanley banter and all mistakes which is exactly what you want from a bootleg. The show is over 2 hours long and does cover 3 LPs. Kiss didn’t skimp on this release in the least.

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Judas Priest – ‘Turbo’ (1986) – Album Review (The Complete Albums Collection Series)

After the ‘Defenders of Faith’ Tour, the band took it easy for a little while. They didn’t jump right back in to the studio. There was no tour planned in 1985, but did do one live show that year. Of course that was to play at Live Aid on July 13th, 1985. They played in Philadelphia at around 11am in the morning. Rob said that was a good time to play because it meant he could spend the rest of the day just drinking. Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, K.K. Downing, Ian Hill and Dave Holland rocked the world that day and then went back to record an album.

By this time they had already started recording their follow-up album. They started recording in June 1985 down in Nassau, Bahamas at the Compass Pointe Studio. It was a beautiful place to record, but it was also a bad time for Rob Halford whose drinking and drugs were getting out of hand. Rob also got hepatitis during the recording of the album and was sick from that for a little while. Then around Christmas 1985, Rob finally checked in to rehab to get clean and he actually succeeded. He made it look easy which of course we know it never really is. Now with Rob clean, they finally finished the album around February 1986 which they finished up at the Record Plant in Los Angeles.

The original concept of the album was to be a double album called ‘Twin Turbos’. The record company did not agree with that concept and ended up taking the more commercial songs and putting together a single album simply called, ‘Turbo’. The band also changed up their sound to match a little more of what the glam rock scene was doing at the time. The band got a little lighter sound, no where near as heavy, and they introduced guitar synthesizers in to the mix. So for some fans, this was sacrilege. The band was abandoning who they were as a heavy metal band to fit mainstream. Right or Wrong, the band still had success with the album as after its release on April 14, 1986, the album quickly went Gold and eventually went Platinum about a year later. The album reached #17 on the US Charts and only #33 on the UK Charts.

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You Picked It! – Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘One Hot Minute’ – Album Review

Alright…You Picked It! And this one was really, really close. It was back and forth between Red Hot Chili Peppers and Styx for most of the time and then Bruce made a run at it, but the winner pulled away at the end and was Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘One Hot Minute’ which is one in my collection. The votes were as follows:

  1. Red Hot Chili Peppers – ‘One Hot Minute’ – 7 votes
  2. Styx – ‘Paradise Theater – 5 votes
  3. Bruce Springsteen – ‘Born to Run – 5 votes
  4. Robert Johnson – ‘King of the Delta Blues Singers – 2 votes
  5. Maroon 5 – ‘Jordi’ – 1 Vote

Thanks to all for participating. The August choices will be up on Saturday!

RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – ‘ONE HOT MINUTE’

I only have three Red Hot Chili Peppers albums in my collection. One’s a greatest hits and the other two I didn’t actually buy as were given to me when a neighbor was giving away his collection. And the thing is, I like the Chili Peppers so I am not sure why I don’t have more in the collection. I think it was a little from burnout on them, but regardless, I am a fan and so I was excited that this album was chosen because it is an unusual album in the band’s catalog. Unusual in that is the first album with lead guitarist John Frusciante and the only album to feature his replacement Dave Navarro from Jane’s Addiction (and Ink Master).

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Kiss – ‘Kissworld: The Best of Kiss’ (2017) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

I know what you are thinking.  Why do we need another Kiss Greatest Hits compilation?  Honestly, we really don’t.  We have tons already and there is nothing new on here that the real fan doesn’t already have.  So Why?  Well, easy.  Kiss was touring their End of the Road tour and they wanted product out there that the casual fan or new fan that they get from all the press can run out and grab.  Simple!

But is this something worth getting?  As a casual fan…Maybe, but maybe not as well as there are better compilations out there.  As the Hard Core Fan….Well, I did buy it if that tells you anything.  I had to buy it because I didn’t have it in my ever growing collection.  Plus, it is so pretty.  Yes, pretty.  I bought the Special Edition double LP with Yellow/Red Splatter vinyl.

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The packaging is a gatefold with the Group photo on the front and the track listing on the back such as below…

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Billy Idol – “Eyes Without A Face” – 12″ Picture Disc (Bonus Edition)- (The Billy Idol Series)

When I am out digging through rows and rows of vinyl, I love it when I can find things I don’t have that are little out of the ordinary. For me I love to find 12″ Picture Discs as they are usually beautiful and this one was no exception. While at a record show here in Charlotte, I came across this Billy Idol Picture Disc which was released in the U.S. back in 1984. The packing was strictly a clear plastic covering with a little white sticker in the upper right hand corner. That is exactly what I found except my little white sticker was now a more faded tan to yellowish colored sticker as it has faded a little with time. Even the clear plastic covering was starting to tint a little as well.

Musically, the single has only three songs and they are “Eyes Without a Face”, “Blue Highway” and “(Do Not Stand in the Shadows”. All are album cuts and not special remixes or anything like that. So the only reason to own this is because it is pretty and it is. But if you are looking for only rare mixes or demos, this isn’t for you. This is for the completist in you that has to have everything. Let’s go through the songs a little then.

THIS SIDE: (Picture is up top)

“Eyes Without A Face” is one of my favorite Idol songs.  The hand clap, the groove, the slow ballady feel all worked gloriously against a darker feel from the lyrics.  The song builds up in tempo and you get a fantastic little riff from Stevens and then some beautiful backing vocals by Billy’s girlfriend, at the time, Perri Lister.  She is singing in french “Les yeux sans visage”  which means eyes with a face.  The phrase was also the title of a movie directed by Georges Franju which was the inspiration for the song.

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Queen – ‘The Works’ (1984) – Album Review (The Studio Album Series)

For 1983, the band decided they weren’t playing any live shows and they took a little break. Roger Taylor released his second solo album called ‘Strange Frontier’ and Brian May released an E.P. titled ‘Star Fleet Project’ and in that project was some little known guitarist by the name of Eddie Van Halen…maybe you’ve heard of him. Freddie even worked on his solo album ‘Mr. Bad Guy’, but his didn’t get released until a couple years later. John did whatever he wanted as I don’t know if he worked on a project. And in August of that year, they started working on their 11th Studio album, ‘The Works’. The band recorded at the Record Plant in L.A. and Musicland studio in Munich. It was a global affair.

The band still held on to the electro-pop stylings of ‘Jazz’, but did bring back some of the rock sound they are known for and thank the Heavens for that. But I don’t think it was enough to save this album. As you will see, the songs are good…but they aren’t great. For me, Queen seemed like a lost ship at sea and no one could read the stars to help them find their way and you would think with an astrophysicist on board, that would help, but nope. The band finished up the album around January 1984 and then released the album on February 24, 1984 to little success. It did go to #2 in the UK, but only #23 in the US which was disappointing for them.

First up is “Radio Ga Ga” which was written by Roger Taylor and he thought it would work great on his solo. The band heard and thought this could be a hit and suddenly it became a Queen song. Roger’s inspiration came from his son and hearing him say “Radio Ca Ca”. He took that and turned it in to a commentary on how TV and Music Videos were changing the way we listened to music and the radio. Radio was becoming less important, but he wanted to wax poetic about its greatness. The song actually makes reference to a couple of major radio events such as Winston Churchill’s “This is their finest hour” speech to the House of Commons in 1940 and to Orson Welles’ radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” in 1938.

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