Jon Fratelli – ‘Bright Night Flowers’ – Album Review

The voice of The Fratellis is back with his second solo album, ‘Bright Night Flowers’. If you are looking for that Fratellis fun, upbeat sound, that is not here.  What you get is the unique Jon Fratelli sound with a slowed down tempo and a hauntingly beautiful album.

For those melancholy evenings, this is the perfect album.  You get 9 songs played in a way that if the lights are down low and you are alone, it is the companion you were looking for.  It will take you, wraps its arms around you and wallow in your sadness…in a good way.

Filled with songs themed around love and heartbreak, this album is actually a breath of fresh air in Jon’s songwriting and such a wonderful change of pace from The Fratellis.  When a lead singer steps away from his band, this is how it is done.

Magical songs such as “Serenade in Vain”, the piano led “After a While” and the slightly country-tinged “Evangeline”, take you on a musical journey that you never want to leave.  I would score the album a 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars.  The album is endearing and is easily an early favorite in my Top Albums of 2019.

#200WordChallenge

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Def Leppard – The Albums Ranked Worst to First

If you read my site, you know Def Leppard is one of my all-time favorite bands, if not the #1 band on my list.  And for that, this list was extremely hard for me to do, yet easy as well.  I will already go ahead and say it, there is not a horrible album in this bunch only some I like more than others and yet a few that are absolute no-brainers as the top choices.  And yes, I am biased.

Speaking of top choices, my Top 5 is my Top 5 because each album is completely different.  The band completely changed up the sound and style on each of these albums and when the band does that, for me they hit it out of the park.

From the very beginning in 1980 with their debut and all the way up to today, the band has been mainstay in my musical journey.  In 2019, they will be inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and all I can say is it is about damn time!!!  They received the highest public vote so I am not the only one that things these guys from England are pretty darn great.

So, let’s get to it.  Here is my favorite Def Leppard albums from the worst one to the very best.  I hope you enjoy it.

WORST – SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE (2008)

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American Authors – ‘Seasons’ – Album Review

American Authors is one of those bands I had heard about due to their hit “Best Day of My Life” from 2013, but I had never wanted to take a deeper dive.  It is not because they weren’t any good band, it is just not my type of music.  It is too pop and generic and nothing really interested me.  Well, with the release of their third album, ‘Seasons’, that has now changed.

The reason for that change is simple, they have two songs on the album by a couple of my favorite singers right now, Billy Raffoul and Bear Rinehart (Needtobreathe).  You see, those two put out a song…I will listen and American Authors only reap the benefits…or do they…we will have to see.

I don’t know much about the band, so I will get straight into the music.  American Authors are really good at writing, happy type, uplifting songs and the opening track, “Stay Around”, is just that.  It is an uptempo and fun song that sounds exactly like an Imagine Dragon song with that drum beat and the lyrical phrasing.  Good song, but come on if you are going to copy any one why the hell would you copy Imagine Dragons?

The next song is one of the best on the album called “Say Amen”.  It features new singer Billy Raffoul and is probably why I am biased about loving this song.  It is a darker song for American Authors and I like this darker edge to the band.  Bill’s Jeff Buckley style vocals work well with singer Zac Barnett who I think changes his vocals to be a little more in Billy’s style which is great because Billy’s vocals have a lot of texture and character.

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Billy Idol – ‘Billy Idol’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

Billy Idol was loving his time in New York and it showed in his writing as the album seemed to be inspired by what he was doing in the city.  After the mild success of his 1981 E.P., Don’t Stop, he and the band went to work on the debut album simply titled ‘Billy Idol’.  It is his album and he is the main focal point so why not call it ‘Billy Idol’.

Released in 1982, Billy was discovering who he was as an artist and what it was like to now be the main focal point.  His meeting of Steve Stevens seemed to be a match made in Heaven…well rock & roll heaven anyway.  Steven even contributed a couple writing credits on this release.  The two together would become one of the great teams in music.  You have McCartney & Lennon, Elton John & Bernie Taupin and now you have Idol & Stevens…okay, that is stretching it too far, but you know what I mean.

When the album was originally released in 1982, the album cover looked like this…

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I don’t have this cover, yet, but I will find it one day and get a hold of it.  I don’t like this one as much as the alternate cover I have.  It is a little too feminine compared to the toughness of the one I have with the black leather jacket (not that there is anything wrong with that).  The new cover fits the attitude and the snarl so much better.

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Def Leppard – ‘Live at the Top’ (Bootleg) – Album Review

I have been looking for Def Leppard bootlegs since I got back in to collecting. I have found Kiss, Whitesnake, GNR, but hadn’t found a Leppard one until now.  The first thing that caught my attention was that cover.  Love it.  So bright, so detailed, just beautiful.  A lot of work went into that cover and I find that odd for a bootleg since most I find just slap a picture of the band on the cover that isn’t even from that era of the recording.

Well, they did that hear as well as the back cover is a picture of Joe Elliott from around 1987…which is when this was released.  The problem is that the recordings are not from that year.

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When was it recorded?  I am so glad you asked.

A1 to B1 recorded at the BBC’s Paris Theatre, London, England, 22nd August 1979.
B2 to B6 recorded at the Reading Festival, Reading, England, 24th August 1980.

“On Through the Night’ came out in March 1980, so the first side of this was recorded prior to that album coming out which all these songs are on.  Their first EP had come out in January 1979 which “Overture” and “Rocks Off” were from that one only at the time as they would be released on the debut as well.

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Airbourne – Diamond Cuts Box Set – Album Review

This Australian heavy metal band is a full on rock band that is loud, obnoxious and freaking awesome.  If you like AC/DC, well here is the second coming of the band.  Where Greta Van Fleet get blasted for sounding like Zeppelin, no one seems to care that these guys sound like AC/DC.  Hell, they are doing AC/DC better than AC/DC right now.

If you don’t know about the band, know that Lemmy (Motorhead) was a huge fan of the band and even showed up in one of their music videos from their debut album.  That was enough for me to give this band a try and and I am so glad I did.  After Lemmy’s passing, the band paid tribute to Lemmy in their song “It’s All For Rock & Roll” and even had the airplane lighting rig Motorhead used on tour in the video.  It was pretty cool to see.

After the band’s fourth album, ‘Breakin’ Outta Hell’, they decided to put together a collection of B-Sides together for an album and released it as a Box Set that included their first 3 albums.  I received the Vinyl Edition as a Christmas gift from my girls and to top if off, the bought “Breakin’ Outta Hell’ on vinyl as well.  My Airbourne Vinyl collection was complete.

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Switchfoot – ‘Native Tongue’ – Album Review

I have followed Switchfoot since around 2003 with their fourth album ‘The Beautiful Letdown’ and now some 16 years later they bring us their eleventh studio album, ‘Native Tongue’ and yes, I am still a fan.  The new album brings us more of the same and yet travels down a new road as well.

The album has a familiar Switchfoot sound that is at times pure rock, at times pure spiritual and at times au natural almost Earthy feel to it.  They try so many different musical styles, including a little EDM, but they were able to keep it cohesive.  That is in part to what seems to be a theme throughout and that is “Love”.  Whether it is God’s love, human love and love on some different level, I don’t know, but the songs all seem to be connected.

The opening track, “Let it Happen” has this spiritual feel with a little bit of rock thrown in and the message to it about letting love just happen as well as letting life just happen.  The rock comes in full force with “Native Tongue”.  The heavy tribal drums and bass sound kick this up a notch and was a great choice as the first single.  And then you get the church feel of “All You Need” and with that chorus I can picture a worship team singing it out loud during service.

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Billy Idol – ‘Don’t Stop E.P.’ – Album Review (The Billy Idol Series)

After the demise of Generation X and Gen X, Billy would follow Bill Aucoin, his manager and Kiss’ former manager, to New York City to start a solo career.  When Billy signed on with Gen X as their manager, he quickly learned that the star of this band was not the band, but its lead singer, Billy Idol.

When Billy got to New York, he met a lot of interesting people and really loved the club scene…and of course, the drug scene was something he enjoyed as well.  If you read his book, “Dancing With Myself you can find out all about it so I won’t spoil the details here.

Billy was introduced to a guitarists at this time that would become just as big a part of Billy’s solo career as he was.  He met Steve Stevens.  There is no Billy Idol sound without Steve and his guitar playing is what makes Idol’s solo songs that much better.

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With Steve Stevens in tow along with Phil Feit on bass and Gregg Gerson on drums, the band set out to record Billy’s first solo album.  As a teaser and build up to his career, it was decided an E.P. would be put out, I guess to whet everyone’s whistle and draw up buzz on the singer.  ‘Don’t Stop’ was the result.  It was more of a dance album than the former punk sound Billy had and you could see the magic being developed on what would become an amazing run of albums in the 80’s.

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Michael Bolton – A Symphony of Hits – Album Review

I will give props to Michael Bolton for actually re-recording the songs with a symphony orchestra and not just phoning it in, but I don’t see the need for basically another greatest hits package of songs from 30 years ago that feels tired and boring and left me missing the days of this Michael Bolton…

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#OneSentenceReview

Thanks to SuperDekes for the idea…go check out his #OneSentenceReview of Canadian Rockers Max Webster: Live Magnetic Air (1979).

Rival Sons – ‘Feral Roots’ – Album Review

Rival Sons are now on their sixth studio album and we are just shy of 10 years since the debut album and I hate to admit that I had only been a casual fan throughout.  That has since changed with the release of ‘Feral Roots’.  There is no need to be casual as a deep dive is needed to explore all the textures they have delivered over the years.

Why the change of heart?  Well, easily it is this album.  But before we get into the good of this album, we have to explore the bad.  What is bad about this album?  Well, not a damn thing!

From the opening fuzzy guitar riffs of “Do Your Worst”, Rival Sons come out swinging with a pure rock & roll album.  It is bluesy, it is heavy, it is retro, it is fan’freaking’tastic.  This is what Rock & Roll music should sound like.

What is the best part of this album?  Well, it is the drumming of Mike Miley.  Not since Kiss’ Creatures of the Night album have the drums sounded so great and been such an integral part of the sound of an album.  His NRA approved, machine gun barrage of drumming to open “Back in the Woods” had me screaming as I was driving down the road at 6am in the morning heading to work.

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