Kiss – ‘Destroyer’ (1976) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

With the success of ‘Alive!’, Kiss was saved and in turn, so was their record label Casablanca.  With that new success, the band signed a brand new contract with Casablanca after the band’s manager had threatened to walk.  This time though, Kiss was only given a two album deal which really isn’t a very long contract in those times and showed that maybe the label didn’t have much faith the band would have continued success.

While the band was touring the album ‘Alive!’, they started rehearsing for the new album.  Their success was able to land them a high-end producer in the likes of Bob Ezrin.  His success with Alice Cooper had garnered him some notoriety and was going to take Kiss in a whole new direction. Thankfully, the band was still in tact with Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Ace Frehley and Gene Simmons.

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Whitesnake – ‘The Rock Album’ – Album Review (The David Coverdale Series)

In the last few years, David Coverdale has been quite busy rehashing old material, but in a good way.  He has brought us deluxe box sets for albums such as ‘Slide It In’, ‘1987’, ‘Slip of the Tongue’ and even ‘Unzipped’ the all acoustic box set.  And next year in 2021, we will get ‘Restless Heart’.  But for now, he is rehashing old material yet again.

This time it is a series called ‘Red, White & Blue’ Trilogy.  The Rock Album (White) is up first and then we will get The Love Album (Red) in October and I believe The Blues Album (Blue, duh) in February 2021 (Tentative dates right now).  Each album is really a glorified greatest hits albums each with its own them and the titles give you those themes quite nicely.

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The big difference on these albums is more than just a remastering.  The songs have been tinkered with and given a little touch-up with some re-mixing and even a little touch-up on arrangements and other little surprises.  The songs aren’t completely re-imagined, thankfully it is no Bon Jovi “This Left Feels Right”.  The songs are still very much recognizable, just enhanced ever so slightly. Continue reading “Whitesnake – ‘The Rock Album’ – Album Review (The David Coverdale Series)”

Will Hoge – ‘Tiny Little Movies’ – Album Review

Will Hoge is now on at least a dozen albums and I was completely blown away by what I heard.  “Tiny Little Movies” is just what it says.  It is 11 songs that each one feels like its own tiny little movie.  He brings a little Americana music mixed with his Country and Rock & Roll roots and if you thought John Mellencamp painted a true picture of Middle America and its problems, Will adds more color and texture to that painting and brings it in to the 21st Century.  This isn’t Country though so don’t be concerned. Think more in terms of  Springsteen and Petty and you will have an idea where I place him.

Will’s ability to tell a story that can be bleak at times and uplifting at others is a shot in the arm and shows the power that can be found in music.  His lyrics are an honest interpretation of what is going in America and at times a giant slap in the face.  His genius lies in the words as well as the music and it is that gritty voice that draws you in and makes you care about what he has to say.

The album can rock out with songs such as my personal favorite “The Overthrow” which doesn’t speak too fondly of today’s leaders and Will takes on the slimiest of people in “Con Man Blues” filled with some dirty, blues guitar.  With “The Curse”, I’m taken back to his early days with albums like ‘Blackbird on a Lonely Wire’ with a little more catchy groove and chorus.  I mentioned Petty earlier, I feel his influence all over “That’s How You Lose Her”, it is splendid. Continue reading “Will Hoge – ‘Tiny Little Movies’ – Album Review”

Whitesnake – ‘Flesh & Blood’ – Album Review (The David Coverdale Series)

After The Purple Tour, the band would continue and finally record a new album full of all new original Whitesnake songs.  This would be the first album of new material since ‘Forevermore’ back in 2011.  This would also be the first album that Joel Hoekstra gets to actually perform and play songs that he actually helped write and record and not be a Deep Purple cover band.

Speaking of writing, David likes to write with his star guitarists.  This time though, David really has 2 star guitarists that are both very capable and talented writers.  David has 3 songs written with Reb Beach and 4 written with Joel.  And to get even better, he has 2 written with both of them.  And to go even one step further, they all co-produced the album along with Michael McIntyre.

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‘Flesh & Blood’ was supposed to come out in early 2018, but was delayed in to the Summer of 2018 due to an illness with David. This is actually the 2nd time an illness had delayed an album. If you remember this happened back for the 1987 album and John Sykes almost staged a coup and move on with out David.  Yeah, and that didn’t end well for John. Continue reading “Whitesnake – ‘Flesh & Blood’ – Album Review (The David Coverdale Series)”

Kiss – ‘Alive!’ (1975) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

With ‘Dressed to Kill’ out and sales only slightly better than ‘Hotter Than Hell’, the only thing the band really had going for them was their live shows.  Their record label was nearly bankrupt and Kiss was about to lose their record deal and it was about to all coming to a crashing halt. The band had yet to receive any royalties after their pittance of an advance and their manager, Bill Aucoin, along with the band were ready to sue and get out of the contract.

In a last ditch effort to save the label and the band, Neil thought a Live album was the way to go.  The Live shows is where people finally understood what Kiss was all about.  With Gene Simmons spitting blood and breathing fire, with Ace Frehley’s electrifying guitar solos, Paul Stanley’s charm in his dialogue to the crowd and Peter Criss’ drum riser and solo, Kiss was a Live band that needed to be heard LIVE!!  Plus, this was cheaper than an album, so they could afford to do this route.

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Alive!’ was recorded over four stops on the Dressed to Kill Tour.  You had May 16 at Cobo Arena in Detroit, Michigan, naturally; June 21 at Cleveland Music Hall in Cleveland, Ohio; July 20 at RKO Orpheum Theater in Davenport, Iowa; and July 23 at Wildwoods Convention Center in Wildwood, New Jersey.  With four shows recorded, they could piece together a perfect live album…well…maybe not!

Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Alive!’ (1975) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Kiss – ‘Dressed to Kill’ (1975) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

When the band completed ‘Hotter Than Hell’, they quickly went right back on tour.  That album only had the one single, “Let Me Go, Rock & Roll”, which quickly fell from the charts. That wasn’t the only thing that fell quickly, so did the album sales.  Their label, Casablanca, was hemorrhaging money with Kiss on Tour and the album doing poorly.  As a result, the band was yanked off tour to record a new album.

When they get in the studio, the producer for the record was no longer Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise as Casablanca had no money to pay anyone.  So the owner of the record label, Neil Bogart, stepped in and recorded the album.  Which isn’t really a problem as he has a ton of experience…in the pop and dance music world.  Not in Rock & Roll.  And it would be evident as the heavier sound of the band on the first two albums, was a little more pop sounding on this one.  Don’t fret, it still rocked out, but not as hard.

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Imagine you are in a band and you are now starting to write your third album in about a year’s time.  You have to be one heck of a writer to come up with that much music in such a short time.  Well, Kiss didn’t have the songs.  So, what did they do.  They pulled a couple songs from their Wicked Lester Days and re-worked them.  Now, only 8 more to go.  Paul wrote three of them, Gene got two, Ace got one and then Paul & Gene wrote one together and what a song it was.  More on that in a minute. Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Dressed to Kill’ (1975) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Whitesnake – ‘The Purple Tour (Live)’ – Album Review (The David Coverdale Series)

We are now to the final Live album I will be reviewing for the band.  Since their reunion back in 2003, Whitesnake has overloaded the general public with Live albums.  Seven to be exact!!  Now, those seven do cover several eras of the band, but still Seven!!  The Purple Tour Live album is the latest and it covers an era of the band I have yet reviewed for a live album…the Joel Hoekstra era.  Yes, I define my eras by the lead guitarists.  I know Reb is still one of those guitarists, but this is Joel’s first.

And interesting note, do you know who the longest running member of Whitesnake is aside from David, of course?  That is right, it is Reb Beach.  He has been with the band for 18 years.  Then Tommy Aldridge would be a close second although his years were not consistent years like Reb, he was in and out 3 times.  The current line-up is as follows:

  • David Coverdale – vocals
  • Reb Beach – guitar
  • Joel Hoestra – guitar
  • Tommy Aldridge – drums
  • Michelle Luppi – keyboards
  • Michael Devin – bass

And it is a pretty solid line-up.

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Kiss – ‘Hotter Than Hell’ (1974) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)

After the poor sales of the debut Kiss album and the fact that Casablanca was bleeding money on the tour, Neil Bogart wanted the band to get back in to the studio to record their next album.  While on Los Angeles for a show in August of 1974, Kiss started recording their follow-up.  The band’s line-up was unchanged and the producers were unchanged as Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise were behind the boards again.  And yes, they are to blame for the awful sonics on this record, especially the dull drum sound.

Let me tell you, the band was not thrilled with doing this album in L.A.  These guys are New York guys and this whole new environment was foreign to them and not home.  Put that along side the fact they have had zero time to write new songs, they weren’t being setup to succeed.  They plowed through and by October 22, 1974, the album was released and actually performed worse than the debut album which is no easy feat as that one did poorly.

Before we go in to the music, can we talk about that cover?  Of course we can, it’s my blog.  I remember seeing this cover as kid of maybe 7 or 8 and thinking how cool this was with all the Japanese writing (now not sure I really knew it was Japanese, but it was still cool).  The album concept was done to mimic the look of Japanese comics and if you notice that little character at the bottom…

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That character stands for the word “Chikara” and if you know that then you know that is the name of a greatest hits package by the band that was only released in Japan in 1988.  It is on my grail list to get a copy.  If you are interested, “Chikara” means power. And there were other Japanese lettering on the album cover. The lettering in the top right corner of the album actually means “the shout of hell” which isn’t the same as “hotter than hell”, but not sure if that was the intent or not. Continue reading “Kiss – ‘Hotter Than Hell’ (1974) – Album Review (The Kiss Review Series)”

Whitesnake – ‘The Purple Album’ – Album Review (The David Coverdale Series)

After too many live albums released, the band finally decided to do another album.  Before that could happen, they needed a replacement guitarist as Doug Aldrich left the band on May 9th of 2014 after more than 10 years with the band.  One of the longest stretches of any guitarist.  I believe he left to go play with The Dead Daisies and do his own thing.

A replacement now needed to be found and it was about 3-4 months later that Joel Hoekstra was tagged as the replacement guitarist.  Joel had been playing with Night Ranger previously and he figured this was a higher profit (I mean higher profile) band and he is not wrong about that.  Joel is fantastic and he has his own solo stuff as well as playing with Cher and TSO for their Christmas Tours.  The rest of the line-up is as follows:

  • David Coverdale – vocals
  • Reb Beach – guitar
  • Tommy Aldridge – drums
  • Michael Devin – bass
  • Joel Hoekstra – guitar

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Now that the band was fully staffed again, a new album was in the works.  This time around, thankfully not a live album, but it was only a covers album.  Not just any covers album, no that had been done a million times, this one focused on only one band.  Deep Purple!  David decided he wanted to record a Deep Purple collection of the best songs from his era of that famous band.  The funny thing about this is that David tried so hard to not mention or play anything from Purple while being Whitesnake from the eaerly 90’s and back.  You never heard a song by Purple in the setlist.  That changed in the late 90’s when a song or two would show up.  Now, David wanted to pay tribute and an homage to that wonderful time in his life.  Continue reading “Whitesnake – ‘The Purple Album’ – Album Review (The David Coverdale Series)”

Train – ‘California 37’ – Album Review

With working at home during the Covid-19 lockdowns, I have pulled out a lot of my vinyl and gave it a spin.  This was one I hadn’t listened to in a couple years and when I did, I remembered that this was the last great album Train had done.  At this point, Train was down to only 3 members, Pat Monahan, Jimmy Stafford and Scott Underwood.  My wife and I had met them a couple years earlier on the ‘Save Me, San Francisco’ Tour and they were super nice and they are kind of “our” band.  They were anyway, now it is the Pat Monahan show as he is the only original member left, but that is another story for another day.

What we loved about the band is really the songs.  Lyrically, Pat is a master at slipping in pop culture references in to the lyrics and the band can write some hooks and pretty damn catchy choruses.  It is wonderful, pop music.  And this album, the band outdid themselves with all of the above.  They did bring in some outside writers, but Pat was still the driving force behind them as they are usually very personal songs to him.  He spent three years writing the album while on tour for the previous items and they all reflect pieces of his life in some way or fashion.

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The album is called “California 37” which is a State Highway in Northern San Francisco which the band seems to call home.  The road was often used to get to gigs and they even broke down on it and what band hasn’t done that on the way to a gig.  The album has this light, California vibe to it and it makes you feel good as you listen.  From the opening track, “This’ll Be My Year” you know you are in for a treat. The song travels through his years in life and is a bio of his life and completely filled with Pop Culture references so you can put the year’s in to perspective.  It is brilliant.  It has the classic line…”I stopped believing, although Journey told me don’t”. Continue reading “Train – ‘California 37’ – Album Review”