Rob Zombie never does anything half-assed especially when it comes to his song titles and album titles. ‘The Lunar Injection Kool Aid Eclipse Conspiracy’ is a perfect example of this. The album is Rob’s seventh studio album as a solo artist and might be his opus, his masterpiece, his piece de resistance. The most badass album he has ever made and the fans might agree as it is his first album to reach #1 on the Billboard Top Album Sales Chart after its release on March 12, 2021. I think it is definitely his strongest and most accessible because his past albums usually have some strange shit, but this takes the strangest stuff and packages in a way that has more hooks, more melodies and more of everything that is great about him including more John 5 who is one of my favorite guitarist.
But before we get in to the music, let’s talk about this packaging of the album as it is nothing short of amazing. The back cover is hand-drawn space monster’s in the vein of Planet of the Apes I guess. And check out the names of the songs, nothing simple and straight forward here. The album is also a gatefold with what my one of the coolest pictures of Rob just relaxing with his arms behind his head and probably saying, “Yeah, I’m a cool mother-f’er”…okay he probably would have said the full word.
After the release of Cheap Trick’s second album, ‘In Color’, the band was getting quite a bit of recognition in Japan. So, a week after third album, ‘Heaven Tonight”, was released, the band did a quick tour in April of 1978 and they didn’t waste any time playing those songs. The band’s reception was nothing short of amazing. It was Beatlemania 2.0 as the Japanese fans went…well…fanatical. While in Japan, they decided to record the shows at Nippon Budokan in Tokyo and release the album in Japan only.
Here is a little fact for you, the recordings done at Nippon Budokan really sucked and the recording is actually the show in Osaka, but don’t tell anyone. Okay, don’t know if that is a fact, but I did read that somewhere so we will continue that statement here as it is cool if it is true. Regardless of where it was recorded, the show is amazing and the release in Japan on October 8, 1978 saw tremendous success, so much so that 30,000 copies of it were sold as imports to the US which prompted the label to finally release it in the US in February 1979 under the name ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’. The album would go on to be one of the biggest selling albums in the band’s career selling over 3 million copies and go to #4 on the Billboard Charts. Rolling Stones said it was one of the 500 greatest albums of all time in 2003 where it ranked at #426.
The album also introduced us to 2 new songs that had not been released yet and one of those, “Need Your Love” would wind up on their next album ‘Dream Police’. The other song, “Lookout”, was a leftover from their debut and would end up being released as a bonus track on later editions of the album starting in 1998. Due to the popularity of Budokan, the ‘Dream Police’ released date got pushed back as they were still having hit singles from this album. Not a bad problem to have actually.
After a very long tour in support of their album, “Get Your Wings”, the band was tight and playing better than ever. They were ready to jump back in the studio and bring producer Jack Douglas back with them. This time around though would be different. Their first two albums used up all the songs they had been playing for years. Aerosmith now had to write a whole album from scratch. As a result, they would create an album that was spawned from a new level of confidence with the band and a more polished understanding of how to write songs. The album they created, ‘Toys in the Attic’, would take the band to a whole new level of stardom. The album would go on to sell more than 8 million copies and be one of their most commercially successful albums of all time.
‘Toys in the Attic’ was released on April 8, 1975 and was recorded at the Record Plant in New York City from January to March of that year. It would go as high as #11 on the Billboard Charts and deliver not one, but two Top 40 hits with one going all the way to #10 as well. The success of this album also saw the band’s first two albums get a renewed interest and so they would re-release the single “Dream On” in from the debut seeing it go to #6 on the charts. Yes, ‘Toys in the Attic’, finally saw Aerosmith get what they had been working so hard for over the years. Fame, Fortune and Drugs…lots and lots of drugs.
The band was still the same old song and dance of members with Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Tom Hamilton, Brad Whitford and Joey Kramer. Everyone had at least one writing credit on the album except for Joey. Tyler had them on all of the songs except for the cover song they do. The band was on fire, but so were things behind the scenes, especially with the band members wives who didn’t all get along and would be a driving force behind a lot of the band’s battles and problems over the years…well that and drugs…did I mention drugs? These boys could not get enough of the stuff. That would soon become a problem, but not so much now.
The band finally started to catch on to the world with the release of their third album, “Heaven Tonight”. The album was released on April 24, 1978 and what is interesting is four days later they were touring Japan and played at a little arena called Nippon Budokan and we will get to that story in the next review. First, we need to talk this album. The band’s third album, which in some circles is considered the best, but it is way too early to make that call. This one though does bring the best of the first two albums in to focus. It has some of the first albums raw sound and then it takes some of the power pop sounds of the second and makes a pretty damn fine combination. The album did well as it charted at #48 on the Billboard Charts and going Gold a year later. By 1995, it has since been certified Platinum.
There are also two big firsts on this album. The first is they finally had a single chart with “Surrender” as it went to #62 on the Billboard Hot 100. The other first is more of a recording history fact in that this is the first recording to ever feature a 12-String Bass…yep…that is a right…12 strings. Not the wimpy-ass 4 string bass, nope four strings are for pussies. Only bad ass bass players play a 12 String bass!! Okay, I have no idea if that is true, but it sounds good…to me at least.
This is also the second album in a row to feature only Robin Zander and Tom Petersson on the cover similar to ‘In Color’. Based on the cover, it looks like a standard background, but when you flip it over you see Rick Nielsen and Bun E. Carlos standing in bathroom. Yes, great place for a group photo. As a result, the record company wanted to call the album ‘American Standard’ as that is a very popular brand of plumbing supplies. Thankfully, that was nixed and they went with the ‘Heaven Tonight’ title.
Max the Axe has made an appearance on our site before with the stellar album ‘Status Electric’. They are back but this time around we only get a 3 song E.P. which is fine. I will take what I can get. I want to thank Mike Ladano for making sure I received a copy as he knows I enjoyed the last one.
Max the Axe are a Canadian band out of Kitchener, Ontario (yeah, I don’t know where that is either). It is made up of the following members…
Mike “Max” Koutis – guitar
Eric Litwiller – vocals
Dave Haslam – drums
Mike “Mitch” Mitchell on bass
You probably know Eric Litwiller if you watch The LeBrain Train as he is Uncle Meat. I have been on the show with him and he is a great guy so it is cool to say I know someone in the band. Before we get in the album, what did I say about the last album? I think it was this…“The songs are filled with some gritty, distorted guitars and the lyrics at times have a slight comedic flare which makes me think that this band is the bastard child of Black Sabbath and Barenaked Ladies.” This time around, we get something totally different. I feel a little more rawness and punk attitude at times and at others a bunch of drunks having a good time…more on that later.
After the stellar performance of the prior album ‘Redeemer of Souls’ thanks in large part of the addition of Richie Faulkner, the band started work on the next album in 2016. However, it took a long time to finally get to the studios in March of 2017 and the band would go until June to finish the recording. The album then sat for months on months and finally get released on March 9, 2018 where it went on to sell around 49,000 copies in the first week putting it at #5 and their highest chart position. Yeah, 49,000 is a far cry from their heydays, but 49,000 in 2018 for any band is a decent week of sales…oh how things have changed.
But sometimes things to don’t change as the band brought back former producer Tom Allom in to the mix to co-produce the album with Andy Sneap. It had been since 1988’s ‘Ram It Down” as the last time they worked with Allom, so 30 years. That is a long gap. Andy would have such an impact with the band, he would actually go on tour with the band as guitarist. The reason for that was due to some sad news from the camp. The great Glenn Tipton was retiring from touring due to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease. The illness was getting to be too much to play some of the more challenging parts in songs. That doesn’t mean he didn’t pop up on stage every now and again when he felt good enough to play because he did. Glenn is still a member of the band and will still help creatively and in recording. Touring is just too much and too unpredictable on how he’ll feel.
One of the really cool things about this album is the cover art. I remember seeing this and thinking, Damn! That is a cool cover. The next thing I know, there was a filter or something because people started replacing their cover picture on Facebook with their name in Judas Priest Firepower font. It was cool. I didn’t do it though as I was probably too lazy as it seemed like to much work and I didn’t want to be a follower, as I am a leader…no, who am I kidding, it was the laziness part!!
After the debut album being a dud and all the touring, the band wasted no time going in to the studio for their second album, ‘Get Your Wing’. This time around at the boards was famed producer Jack Douglas who was introduced to the band by the one and only Bob Ezrin, who the label wanted to produce the album. Jack worked out well and would go on to have a long relationship with the band and deliver some of their best albums.
The band had extensive preproduction work and extensive rehearsals, the band entered the studio The Record Plant in New York City on December 17, 1973 and by January 14, 1974, they were done. The album would come out on March 15, 1974 and would go only to #74 on the Billboard Charts. All 3 singles flopped and not one of them charted. If they thought the first album was a dud, this one didn’t fare any better. But don’t feel bad, once the band broke, this album has since sold over 3 million copies and is certified Triple Platinum. It all worked out in the end.
But what makes this album successful on its own is that the band found their voice. They found their sound and they would find rock stardom. Bandmates Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Brad Whitford, Tom Hamilton and Joey Kramer found themselves and were set to take over the world…okay, that is a little dramatic, but you know what I mean.
The band took a long, long, long break after 2008’s ‘Nostradamus’ which was not received all that well, despite the fact I really enjoyed that one. In 2011, there were rumblings of new album the band had been working on and they said they were going to take their time with it and let me tell you, they did just that. The album didn’t come out until July 8th, 2014 more than 3 years later. And a lot happened in those three years.
The biggest thing that happened was the departure of one of its founding members and the jelly to the jam of the guitar duo. K.K. Downing departed the band in 2011 and it sounded like it was over creative differences with the band. This was a major blow to the band, though probably not as big as losing your lead singer…sorry, easier to replace a guitarist than a singer (except if your Eddie Van Halen maybe). The band found a replacement in the wonderful guitar playing of Richie Faulkner and from what I can tell has been very well received by the fans. Richie immediately has made an impact as he was heavily involved in the song writing for this album.
It takes time to get a new member acclimated to things, so the band spent the next 3 years completing the album and having Richie get familiar with the other members of Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton, Ian Hill and Scott Travis. Upon its release, the album saw them hit their highest peak on the charts in the U.S., going to #6 on giving them first Top 10 album. Now, it only sold a little over 100,000 copies but this is 2014 and streaming was taking over as well as digital sales so actual album sales are not what they used to be. Still a respectable showing, but it is a respectable album. Let us find out.
Like a lot of musicians during the pandemic, Billy Idol kept himself busy recording his first new music in 7 years with ‘The Roadside’ E.P. Sadly, it is only four songs, but as a fan I will take what I can get. One of my favorite albums of Billy’s was his last album ‘Kings & Queens of the Underground’ so I have been waiting to see where he goes next and now we know. And I am excited as I can add a new post to the fantastic Billy Idol Series we did here on the site. I don’t know if this series will ever come to an end and I sure hope it doesn’t as I love having new Billy Idol music to hear.
The album was produced by producer Butch Walker (He’s worked with Matt Nathanson who I love) and Billy had his partner-in-crime, Steve Stevens, at his side to help him co-write and create new music. The three together were able to craft a great little nugget of music that will hopefully be the first of many from Billy in the future. The most recent thing we’ve had prior to this was a song Billy did with Miley Cyrus called “Night Crawling” which was fantastic. You know, that makes me think I need to review that song for the series as well. I will get on that.
I have a copy of the E.P. that should be arriving today, but I couldn’t wait to review it so I went ahead and did that thanks to streaming. My version that is in the mail is the standard black edition with one big difference. Mine will be autographed by the man himself! Yep, Billy Idol autographed my copy just for me…plus anyone else’s copy that ordered one.
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 – Candlebox – ‘Wolves’
Never Heard Before – MC5 – ‘Kick Out the Jams’
Not My Normal Genre – Issac Hayes – ‘Hot Buttered Soul’
From My Collection – Guns ‘N Roses – ‘Chinese Democracy’
From My Collection – Mother’s Finest – ‘Another Mother Further’
Let me know which one you would like to see and sometime in October, 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.