Sunday, November 30, 2014

Conversation with Toddzilla - Ep165

One of our favorite past guests and friend of the show returns this week for a more personal reason.

Todd Austin (aka Toddzilla) returns to the Decibel Geek Podcast this week and boy is he packing some great stories. If you don't remember, Toddzilla was Aaron and Chris' guest for Episode 113 - Roth-Era Van Halen Discussion. In that discussion, the guys picked favorite tunes from Eddie and co. but Toddzilla's stories were so memorable and entertaining, they elicited a lot of listeners asking for him to return.

In this conversation, Todd shares some of stories of his long career in and around the music industry. Entertaining tales involving Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Billy Gibbons, Ace Frehley, Vinnie Vincent, and Gene Simmons highlight just a portion of the talk.

Other subjects touched upon include the growth of the Nashville rock music scene, a strange encounter with Johnny Cash, and details of a documentary in-production covering Toddzilla's life.

Geeks of the Week:
Todd Cunningham, Matt Ashcraft, Howard Tate, Warren Money, Chris Karam, Kal Hinz, Derik Novak, Justin Ace Sixx, Dan Miles, Mike Blount, Shane Hebert, Matt Syverson, Scott Olinger, Brent Walter, Brian Knapp, Chad Pollock, MusicMagsAndWax, Hoops, Adam Cox, Raw Magazine, Hot Metal Magazine, Loudmouth Column, Faces Rocks Magazine, Viking Girl, Pep Pep, Jack Broad, Joel DeLorge, Snark at the Moon Billy Hardaway, Nick Rose, Robert, Collins, Singer International.

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Free Ride.....Can I Get My Money Back? (A Review of Cruizzen's Free Ride Album)

I didn't know that Brian Johnson had a side project from AC/DC!  What? That's not Brian Johnson?  You're pulling my leg, surely I know Brian Johnson's voice when I hear it!  Well according to all accounts and press releases it's definitely not Brian Johnson.  From Bavaria come Cruizzen, a "bad ass", hard drivin' rock band, the beginnings of which first started in 2000.  By 2006 there had been several membership and role changes within the band but they were able to issue a debut CD, Hellrocker (Light Rocker).  "After six crazy years, many gigs parties, festivals, song writing sessions, studio visits and a totally crazy video shoot" in 2012 Cruizzen and members Captain H. Forster (guitar) and Alexander Mayer (vocals) decided to wrap things up.  Pure Steel Records reached out to the band a year later with the proposal to produce a new album.  With Mike Hennig (producer & guitar), Rene Baumann (drums) and Markus Kerscher (bass) joining Forster and Mayer, Cruizzen was reborn and Free Ride is the result.  The album becomes available worldwide on December 5, 2014.

Free Ride contains thirteen selections and we begin with "Soundmaker".  Starting out with a nice catchy little riff, the Brian Johnson clone vocals of Alexander Mayer kick in.  "Rock and Roll Generator" is up next and Mayer shows another side to his vocal, toning down the AC/DC comparisons, but only for a second.  Track #3, "Crazy Dayzz", serves as the longest with a running time of a second over five minutes and has also been awarded the video treatment.  "Straight Down Dirt" exhibits a more heavy metal tone to the music and "Heaven Can Wait" features a more recognizable chorus, but the song seems to drone on.  My interest is beginning to wane and "Touch of Evil"'s plodding pace does little to bring me back.  The album's title track, "Free Ride", is one of the better contained here, but again gets lost in the shuffle.  Fighting to maintain my attention, I managed to get through "Trouble" and "It's Over".  Both simply melded into the background in all three of my listens to Free Ride. "It's Over" was appropriate for me as I could not get past this point and shut it off every time without hearing the remaining four tracks of "Lipstick On My Pillow", "Sparkplugs Blowing", "Love Is A Sweet Torment" and "Time".

Bottom line and this is just my opinion mind you:  It's hard to get around the AC/DC comparisons with Free Ride.  Aside from that they are obviously competent musicians and I mean no disrespect but it all just blends together not distinguishable enough between tracks after awhile.  The tracks do fare better mixed into a playlist rather than a complete barrage of them all packed together, but for me this album was a bit of a sleeper.

The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)

(Cruizzen Website) (Cruizzen Facebook)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bloodbound Serve a Hefty Chunk of Swedish Power Metal For Dinner

Discovering Bloodbound as a part of my searching/learning process for the bands listed at what was to be my first venture across the ocean for Sweden Rock Festival in 2013, I liked their power metal
Bloodbound - photo taken from AFM Records press kit
sound. In becoming an ever bigger fan of that category of metal/rock I quickly collected their catalog consisting of 2005's Nosferatu, 2007's The Book of the Dead, 2009's Tabula Rasa, 2011's Unholy Cross and 2012's In the Name of Metal.  Bloodbound began life in 2004 with Fedrik Bergh (keyboards) and Tomas Olsson (guitar) being the original creators.  The band started out with Urban Breed handling the vocal duties, but for the second release he was succeeded by Michael Bormann.  Breed returned to the fold for Tabula Rasa until he was replaced with Patrik Johansson for Unholy Cross and forward.  The rest of the band on Stormborn alongside Bergh, Olsson and Johansson are: Anders Broman (bass), Henrik Olsson (guitar) and Pelle Akerlind (drums).

Stormborn begins with a 1:43 intro, "Bloodtale", that I suppose is intended to be creepy or devilish, but serves to me as not much more than a waste of time.  "Satanic Panic" turns things around and rips out of the gates running rampant with piercingly tight vocals, riffs, thrash style pace and a huge chorus.  "Iron Throne" is a little high pitched and screechy at times for my particular likes but it has been chosen as the lead single/video, included below.  "Nightmares From the Grave" is more like my expectations from Bloodbound with a chanting chorus and a children's choir segment.  The title track "Stormborn" is a stomping power metal anthem beginning ominously with the clap of thunder and rain falling, to choir vocals, to the pounding beat driving the track forward.  "We Raise the Dead" begins with a charging riff, powering forward into the thumping track for one of the best of the compilation and probably my top pick.  Anthemic "Made of Steel" had my air drumming off to the races and is exactly what the title would suggest, hard driving, first pumping, chanting metal, perhaps this will be my top pick instead.  "Blood of My Blood" keeps things moving in the same vein as Stormborn just seems to get better and better as it moves forward.  A truly epic track with "When the Kingdom Will Fall" appears next and "Seven Hells" is a thundering delight.  Stormborn wraps up with the ripping "When All Lights Fail" to bring the album to a nice close on a high note.
An excellent entry into the year's album race, Bloodbound's Stormborn is a solid bet for all power metal fans.  Johansson's soaring, piercing vocals and Bergh's keyboards add to the orchestral and Gothic feel of the record backed up by lyrical themes of pirates, dragons and more.  This shall be loaded onto the MP3 player immediately!

BUY: Bloodbound - Stormborn

The Meister

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(Bloodbound Facebook)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Some Things I Don't Hate For Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving means different things to different people.  For some it’s turkey, family and football.  Not necessarily in that order.  To some it means storming the doors of a Wal Mart in search of that brag worthy deal.  And for some it means being forced to work at a retail store and deal with the worst humans America has to offer.  Amidst all of this is the idea that whether we shop, cook or sit on a couch, the overlying theme is we should all use this time of year to reflect on what we are thankful for.  But as the things I loved are tossed aside in favor of technological trends I find it easier to reflect on things I’m unthankful for.  I’m unthankful that just living my life meant hearing that dreadful Taylor Swift Shake It Off song about 100 times (so far.)  I’m unthankful Nickelback has a new record out.  Was that really necessary?  And boy am I unthankful for Beyonce.  Just stop.  Ugg.   
But in the spirit of the holiday I will take off my Scrooge tinted glasses and give you a festive blog filled with things that don’t make me homicidal.  I give you...
Things I didn’t Hate About 2014.    


I didn’t hate the return of Jake E Lee with Red Dragon Cartel.  My most played new release of the year hands down.  Of course I hated him canceling his Minnesota date.  I was really looking forward to it.  Speaking with John Vrocker, the promoter who booked them into Pickle Park, he said it was somewhat of a logistical decision made a couple days before the show based on the length of the drive for the show following their only Minnesota date.  Love the record Jake.  Glad your back playing rock.  But isn’t touring basically one long drive? 


I didn't hate Paul Stanley’s autobiography.  Although he sure comes off angry for a guy who got all he ever wanted.  I would rank it second, behind Peter’s, of all the KISS autobiography’s in the entertaining read department.  More believable I suppose.

I didn’t hate KISS finally getting inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  I hated all the drama that unnecessarily came with it.  While I do think Gene and Paul owed it to the fans to suck it up and play a couple songs with the original band I mostly blame the HOF.  Not for excluding anyone who was in the band after the original four.  I blame them for not doing this when KISS was first eligible.  KISS in 1999 consisted of the original four members.  Had they done it then, like they should’ve, it would've been a proper way to celebrate my favorite band.    Still I liked the humility in Gene's speech.  I liked how you could tell how much it meant to Peter.  And I liked how Paul reminded the powers that be they are all douche bags who can suck it.  And he should’ve never spoke of it again.  By carrying on like he did he looks like a whiny little baby.

Don Jamieson with a
very, very nice shirt.
I didn't hate seeing Don Jamieson when he performed at the New Hope Cinema Grill last March.  He was quite funny and his show was my first official review of any sort.  Meeting him after the show was cool.  He came off exactly as he seems on That Metal Show.  Nice guy.
I didn’t hate that George Thorogood didn’t release any new music this year.  Thanks for that George. 
I didn't hate American Dog's latest release Neanderthal.  In fact I love it.  I was pretty late to the party on this band.  Another reason I should do anything Rob Kern from FOON (From Out Of Nowhere podcast) tells me to.  Without Rob there would be no #Stargrilling.  And a world without #Stargrilling is no place to be.
I didn't hate Ace Fernley’s latest solo album Space Invader.  While not great you have to consider he’s in his 60’s and sounds like he’s having fun. 
Wes Scantlin Upright
I didn’t hate seeing the Puddle Of Mudd singer barely make it through a set.  My only complaint would be if you’re gonna be a train wreck, why not go all in?  Despite his clear aversion to the gravity in the room, he and the band sounded alright.  But if you aren’t gonna be at your best, is it too much to ask you be at your worst?  
I don't hate that FatCat Radio continues to fill my computer speakers with real hard rock on a 24/7 spin.  With terrestrial radio pretty much where good music dies it's nice there is a place for those who take substance serious. 
Marq Torien.  Bullet Boys at Pickle Park
Surprisingly I didn’t hate the Bullet Boys when they came to Minnesota (another John Vrocker production) this summer.  Much like Puddle Of Mudd, I went almost rooting for a train wreck but what I got was a kick ass rock show.  The band has been lead singer Marq Torien and whoever he could convince to play for a six pack of beer for over a decade so I didn’t expect a real show.  I was wrong.  It’s amazing how much good music was packed in those first two albums and the band I saw delivered.
I didn’t hate that Slipknot released their first new music since the passing of Paul Gray in 2010.  In typical Slipknot fashion it took me a few listens to really get into it but I have become quite fond of it. 

I didn’t hate the latest Foo Fighters release.  I didn’t love it as much as I was hoping but I didn’t hate it.  Maybe this was something Dave needed to do but I think for the next record he just needs to sit down and write a rock record. 
I have plans Aug 22 2015


In another shocker.  I didn’t hate standing in line for 2.5 hours for Foo Fighters tickets.  I took me back to simpler time where fans got first crack at tickets and scalpers worked out of parking lots on the day of the show.  With scalping legalized more places, the internet making that irrelevant anyway and promoters working with aftermarket resellers at an increased rate, I’d like to see more of this.  The people who want the ticket should at least have an opportunity to buy them first.   

Yours truly and Tommy from
Three Sides of the Coin
I didn’t hate Know Name Records doing a listening party for the red headed step child that is KISS Music from the Elder.  Even if it was done to pay off a bet it was cool with the record on constant play, prizes drawn and a star studded affair which saw Tommy from Three Sides of the Coin as well as Bakko from Jesus Chrysler (talk about an ego on that guy) in attendance.  DannyBeck, the man responsible for the event, won’t admit it but deep down he has a deep affinity for this classic KISS album. 
I didn’t hate being brought into the Decibel Geek family.  I look forward to the next year and my first contributions to KISSmas in July.  So to Chris, Aaron and everyone else at Decibel Geek thanks for having me.   
Happy Thanksgiving.  Now get off my lawn.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Bizarro Covers vol5 - Ep164

It's been over a year since we've gone to bizarro world and this week we finally go back.

Aaron and Chris return to a strange place this week as they present volume 5 of their Bizarro Covers series. This week they're spinning more great hard rock and metal versions of songs that are anything but. Tracks from rock/metal artists such as Enuff Z'nuff, Charm City Devils, Exodus, Machine Head and more performing tracks originally done by non-rock artists such as The Police, Seal, Paul Simon, and Irene Cara. We're back in bizarro world and what a long strange trip it's been....

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Charm City Devils
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L.A. Guns
Andy Taylor
Machine Head
Edge of Forever

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Last Monday I witnessed a phenomenon,14,000 people were miraculously cured of a life long bout of Monday blues.  A miserable, cold and rain sodden crowd, descended on the 3Arena, determined to have their spirits lifted.  At nine bells, miracle worker Slash arrived on stage, top hat perfectly placed and trademark Gibson guitar slung low.  Opener, You're a Lie, from 2012's Apocalyptic Love, got this old bus depot shaking,  before Guns 'n' Roses classic Nightrain, sends the crowd into pure delirium. Slashs' right hand man, Myles Kennedy, immediately got the crowd on side with some slick interaction.

After a stonking version of Halo, new song Avalon, gets it's live premiere, and is appreciated as much as the classics.  Being the opening night of the European tour, new album World on Fire gets a good airing.  Slash could be accused of using the Irish crowd as guinea pigs to test drive his new material, but this is a knowledgeable audience and they know their Slash.  Each new song is warmly welcomed, like a new member of the family.

Stone Blind, while not one of my favourite tracks, definitely works better in the flesh. Brent Fitz drum intro on You Could Be Mine, takes us back to the Use Your Illusion days.  It's hard to believe this song is 23 years old, but Kennedy and The Conspirators barnstorming performance gives it a brand new coat of paint.  After Shots FiredKennedy gives his pipes a well deserved break.  Bassist Todd Kerns takes centre stage brilliantly.  Firstly on Doctor Alibi, a song originally recorded with Lemmy from Motorhead and then on another G 'n' R gem, You're Crazy.  This guy clearly relishes being a leader, his arrogant, in your face, delivery brought the house down.
After a robust treble of Wicked Stone30 Years to Life and the exquisite doom laden, Beneath the Savage Sun, you sensed the crowd were itching for a classic.  If you don't like long guitar solos, the chances are you made a dash to the bar during the iconic Rocket Queen.  Slash clocked up a near 14 minute solo, probably a little top heavy, but hey, this is his show.  The amazing Bent to Fly had the Slash faithful in raptures,before album title track World on Fire,brings the pace back up to a searing level.  The great man then slings on a double neck, and introduces Anastasia.  The haunting acoustic beginning slowly ascends to that memorable riff, Kennedy struts the stage with a contented grin.  It might be my imagination, but he seems more at ease in this set up than in Alter Bridge.

Then suddenly we're back in 1987, Mr Hudson boards a raised platform, and the prominent chords of Sweet Child O' Mine ring out around the arena.  The crowd swayed their hands in unison, couples embraced, an overwhelming nostalgic feeling gripped the Dublin faithful.  Velvet Revolver fans weren't forgotten about, as couples let go to raise their fists to the menacing, creepy, but excellent, Slither.  Then for the motherfucker of all encores, the ground floor of the arena turned into a mass mosh pit, as Paradise City gives the crowd another nostalgic belt of pure classic rock.

I have never seen so many smart phones and designer eye wear flying through the air.  The songs manic finish featured two exploding confetti guns which only added to the madness.  A memorable way to finish a memorable evening.  Overall, a gripping, emotional and utterly mind blowing evening, with a man clearly on top form at the moment.  Backing band The Conspirators compliment him perfectly.

And what of Myles Kennedy, well the highest compliment I could probably pay him is that if the classic Guns 'n' Roses line up of Appetite for Destruction were to reform, minus the services of Mr Axl, then he would more than fill his boots.  Bar controversy, he wins on every level, especially vocally, where there is no contest.

Oh, and his timekeeping is impeccable.  Great night.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Albion Born: A Review of Ten's Albion CD

When I made the decision to trek from Toronto, Canada over to Nottingham, UK for Firefest: The Final Fling in October of this year I knew a good portion of the bands on the roster for the three day event.  Some I knew quite well, some I had been waiting all my life to see live, some I had no idea of and some I was only on the fringes with knowing a few tracks.  Ten was one of those fringe bands.  I knew "of" them more than I knew the music.  I searched out and purchased a compilation release to try and familiarize myself with the material prior to the event.  Quite a few of the songs from The Essential Collection that I had purchased became regulars in my listening rotation.  I purchased two more full releases and again the same result for some of those tracks.  I was well on my way, quickly becoming a Ten fan.

Ten on stage at Firefest 2014 - photo by Shawn Irwin
Ten was born out of what was originally intended to be the third solo effort for British singer Gary Hughes.  Hughes, who had written a whopping 28 songs, joined together with guitarist Vinny Burns (Dare/Ultravox/Asia/FM) and the band evolved from there.  The debut, X, dropped in 1996 to rave reviews and sales and by the end of that year, the songs already written, the sophomore effort, The Name of the Rose landed.  Ten have had some differences in membership over the resulting years, the one constant always being Gary Hughes, but have issued a total of eleven albums including the aforementioned as well as the forthcoming Albion.  For Albion the band sees bassist Steve Mckenna, drummer Max Yates, keyboardist Darrel Treece-Birch and guitarists Dann Rosingana, Steve Grocott and John Halliwell alongside Gary Hughes' vocals.  And yes you did read that correctly, there are three guitarists!  Perhaps a bit overkill and I always smile at my stupid little joke of maybe they're trying to get their membership up to the band's name.

The Thursday night in Nottingham, the night before the concert festivities were to begin, there was an exclusive CD listening party for the first to sign up.  Ten's forthcoming album Albion was on the bill after In Faith's Debut release (In Faith CD Review).  Albion contains ten tracks all decent in length and some awesome cover art from Gaetano Di Falco depicting a medieval style, scantily clad woman holding a sword as fires rage in the background.  We begin with the lead single from the album "Alone in the Dark Tonight"'s charging guitar riff.  This track was rather magical during the Firefest performance as vocalist Gary Hughes requested that as many people film it as possible in their attempt at a Guinness Record for the most camera angles, I really have to remember to get mine posted on the Ten Facebook page!  From there the grinding yet melodic "Battlefield" is a showcase for Hughes.  "It's Alive" is an upbeat rocker while the medieval lyrical subjects of "Albion Born" assist in making it nothing short of spectacular.  The
7 of Ten @ the listening party - photo by Shawn Irwin
 keyboard beginnings of "Sometimes Love Takes the Long Way Home" unfold as the track ramps up.  "A Smuggler's Tale" is probably my top of the heap cut, an epic sounding composition with a great chorus.  The longest selection appears next in "Die For Me" at almost seven and a half minutes that pass by like nothing.  "It Ends This Day" has an infectious groove and chorus while the partially Italian language spoken "Gioco D'Amore" seem to drone on a little bit to me and serves as my least favorite on Albion.  The sound of a pumping heartbeat and tinkling of a piano start of "Wild Horses" explodes for the chorus and ends the record on an extremely high note.

Here's just one of the many fan filmed "Alone In the Dark Tonight" videos from Firefest Nottingham October 2014.  Watch for The Meister's videos from Ten and other Firefest performers coming soon to Decibel Geek's YouTube Channel
From knowing "of" them to album purchasing to concert cheering to joining the Ten Army fan page, I guess you could say I've become a full fledged Ten fan.  Now it's your turn and Albion is a great place to start!

BUY: Ten - Albion

The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)


(Ten Website) (Ten Facebook)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

These Austrians Shout For Heavy Metal

These Austrians from the city of Vorarlberg started out in the 80's and issued a three track, cult followed EP, No War in 1987 as well as some demo recordings.  They were not heard from again.  Re-grouping in 2009 they released No War & More, a compilation album featuring the No War  EP and some bonus tracks via Pure Steel Records.  2011 saw them issue their first full length in Mortician and now they have returned with Shout For Heavy Metal.  Originals Patrik Lercher (bass) and Thomas Metzler (guitar) have joined with new recruits Daniel Kahn (vocals) and Alex "Black Cat" (drums) for this latest outing.  I guess you could say it took Mortician a long time to get going, but it seems they're not about to lose momentum now and thank God for that!

The album art for Shout For Heavy Metal seems to conjure up Iron Maiden images and the record starts off with a sort of Iron Maiden vibe in the title track, "Shout For Heavy Metal".  As the song begins to kick in and your head starts banging the vocals seem a bit of a contrast, not fitting very well.  That feeling quickly left me as the song went on and I became accustomed to Daniel Kahn's growly tones.  The track is a pure fist pumping, hard driving metal anthem at it's finest.  The rampaging opening riffs of "Eagle Spy" carry this helping of old school metal bound to incite some air drumming.  Iron Maiden is not the only influence on Mortician as "Promised Land" contains elements reminding me of other greats such as Saxon and Accept, but again the vocals seem a little mismatched at times during the verses.  The shortest song, "Rock Power" at just over three minutes weighs in next having a decided Saxon vibe to it while "The Devil You Know" screams Judas Priest to me.  Mortician have all the influences of the bands tattooed on my arm!  The "Satan" chanting in "Black Eyes" is a little odd but "Inner Self" has a ridiculously, awesomely catchy chorus and had my head banging while air drumming with
pencils sitting at my computer desk writing this.  "Hate" starts off slow and acoustic before filling out almost like a bomb drops in a plodding composition, my least favorite in every
listen.  "Wrong Way" brings us back again, another ripping anthem and strong closer for the record.

The promo photo included in the press kit only pictures three of the men and for crying out loud, do you think you could have put the cell phone down during the photo shoot???

The more I delve into and play Shout For Heavy Metal, the more Kahn's vocals settle in with me.  He seems to wear several hats and displays just as many vocal styles, usually more than one during each track. From the growly/gravelly to strong and clear to high pitched, sometimes seeming almost like there's shared vocal duties with another member.  Is it Priest/Maiden/Accept/Saxon?  No, but it is chock full of 80's style power riffs and does their obvious influences proud.  I'll be shouting for heavy metal today as I search out 2011's Mortician for purchase!

The Meister

(The Meister on Facebook) (Meister on Twitter)


(Mortician Website) (Mortician Facebook)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

KISS Love Gun Deluxe Edition

The definition of insanity:  Giving Gene Simmons money and expecting something different.

Say what you want about us KISS fans.  We have spending power and we like to buy KISS shit.  And shit is largely what they've given us for some time now.  The last two studio records sound like Asylum rejects.  The KISS Kruise is just an annual ritual of them lowering expectations while raising prices.  And when they manage to do something awesome like reissuing all the albums on vinyl in a road case they ask Vinnie Vincent what he thinks they should charge.

The point being when they do something cool they still find a way to underwhelm.  The KISSology DVD sets were well done packages of what KISS fans have wanted for years.  Complete with unique Easter eggs and content that merited the cost.  But of course they edited the Tom Snyder interview to make Gene look less douche-y and Ace less awesome.  And for each release there was the bonus discs.  A different bonus disc per retailer.  Meaning if you wanted them all you had to buy it 3 times.  

Lets talk about this Love Gun Deluxe edition.  Not counting the many used vinyl copies I've purchased, this will be the sixth time I bought this album.  I know.  Fool me once.  Shame on you.  Fool me six or more times... Look, I know to an outsider it looks like punching yourself in the face.  True KISS fans will understand.  But I'm not sure I get the timing.  Why Love Gun?  Why now?  Are there more coming?  Are they gonna cost 28 bucks?  Putting those questions aside what does 28 bucks get ya?

Well, for starters, the song Love Gun is on here four times.  One is of Paul Stanley explaining to a 1970's tape recorder how to play it.  He sounds like he was getting ready to do the Ambien challenge when he suddenly remembered he had to do this.  I can't imagine why was this ever recorded?  Then the demo of a previously unreleased Gene song called Reputation.  KISS demos of songs released and unreleased have been available via bootlegs of some form for decades so all an official KISS release has to offer is the best possible fidelity of a given track.  Including this track on this "Deluxe" edition is particularly offensive as they already released it a few months back on their double disc retrospective KISS 40.  Did they think we forgot?  This song eventually morphed into True Confessions and appeared on Gene's 78' solo album.  

I Know Who You Are is another song that would appear on his solo record in reworked fashion ala Lving In Sin.  In both cases it's cool to hear how these songs transformed into their end result.  The only other unreleased song is called Much Too Soon.  Another Gene track.  It's clear this has no business on a KISS album but I think, in the 70's especially, Gene had such a unique approach to writing.  This song is a little weird but for a fan it's a lot of fun to hear.  More please.  There are also demo's for Hooligan, Plaster Caster and an instrumental demo of Tomorrow and Tonight for the karaoke fans out there.  

The interview of Gene from 1977 is interesting to listen to as Gene hadn't quite developed his arsenal of bumper sticker ethos he spews in every interview nowadays.  Which leaves us with the "live" tracks.  The vocals were redone recently.  Like a few days ago recently.  They pulled this crap with the just in time for a tour release You Wanted The Best in 1996 which featured some "Lost" tracks from the Alive! recording.  Gene.  Paul.  We can tell.    This is unnecessary and frankly embarrassing.

At least it comes with a booklet chock full of cool pictures from the time with the self serving bio that accompanies releases like these.  And who do they get to write the liner notes?  Joe Elliot.  A man who never had a kind word to say about KISS prior to joining them on tour this year.  Whether it's Garth Brooks or Lady Gaga this is just another reminder how much KISS wants us to know that famous people like them.  The original album came with a paper gun.  This comes with a magnet of that gun.  Which is probably the coolest thing about this.  Is that enough?

This is KISS.  This is charging 1000 bucks for a meet and greet and saying "no pictures."  This is charging 40 bucks for Carnival of Souls on vinyl with a cover that was scanned from a CD copy.  This is promising all sorts of goodies with ALIVE III and then giving none of it.  This is playing the same 15 songs for a decade.  This is a box set with almost no unique content.  This is dumping Melvins from KISS My Ass for flavor of the month Dinosaur Jr.  This is the Rock n Roll HOF with no performance.  This is pretending Carr Jam wasn't a song on an Ace Frehley record called Breakout.  This... is KISS. 

The really sad thing is I know, as much as I just complained, I will buy the next underwhelming "new" release.  I'm my own worst enemy.  I am a completionist.  And there are a lot of me.  And KISS knows it.  They will continue to tease with snippets and charge premium price for a product you already own.  They will never intentionally make a performance unique and they will always try to control the story.  But here's the thing.  Why do they think they can only get our money if what they offer is underwhelming?  Why does their business model seem to be "If it's cool we won't make money."?  They put together this "Deluxe Edition" as if it were for the audience of the Super Bowl.     

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to how these are being handled.  There seems no effort to make it truly special.  And does it really need to cost so much?  Why not do a package like this for all of the records, one at a time and in order of release?  Starting with a proper release of Wicked Lester.  Aren't you old enough to not be embarrassed anymore.  You do know we've all heard it.

So I am offering my services, FREE OF CHARGE, (You like that don't ya Genie baby) to oversee all future Deluxe reissues of this wonderful back catalog.  I will need final say in all bonus material and there will be no re-recording of anything.  Demos and live performances shall be presented with existing warts.  It will be cool and you will make money.     

So Gene.  Paul.  You got a lot of my money.  Your gonna get more.  You can do better than 4 versions of Love Gun can't ya?  Search your feelings you know it to be true.  Anyway, let me know when you want me to start working on that Wicked Lester release as the fans and I are waiting. 



Meister Loves "Girls of the 80's": A Crazy Lixx Album Review

Lovers of 80's glam/sleaze in the veins of Motley Crue, Guns N' Roses and KISS can rejoice in the Swedish outfit Crazy Lixx.  The band hails from Malmo, Sweden and came to be around 2002 when they wished to bring 80's hard rock back to the music scene.  The 2007 debut album, Loud Minority, was issued via a local Swedish label until Frontiers records snatched them up for 2010's New Religion, 2012's Riot Avenue and now 2014's Crazy Lixx.  Interestingly, the band's logo seems to be a little different for each of these album covers.  Crazy Lixx, comprised of original co-founder and vocalist Danny Rexon, guitarists Andy Zata and Edd Liam, bassist Jens Sjoholm and drummer Joel Cirera, have delivered an awesome collection of 80's vein hard glam rock with this self titled release.

The album kicks off with the first single, also given the video treatment, "Hell Raising Women".  The opening riffs tell you basically all you need to know, just get off your seat and get your fist in the air!  "Sound of the Loud Minority" is the next selection and is just a little behind the opener in it's infection.  "Outlaw" charges out of the gates and features a sing along chorus, but "Girls of the 80's" is nothing short of phenomenal.  The track reminds me of exactly what got me into this music in days of my youth and I feel like calling up friends on the rotary dial phone and telling them to bring over a blank cassette.  Things slow down just a little in "I Missed the Mark" and the misleadingly titled "All Looks, No Hooks" is anything but free of hooks.  A statement that has been made many times by many bands rings clear again here in the upbeat rager "Ain't No Rest in Rock N' Roll".  "Call to Action" gets lost in the shuffle a little, but "Heroes Are Forever", a re-working of the song off of Loud Minority, jumps right out at you.  "Psycho City" has a chorus of gang vocals that's ridiculously familiar, but I can't quite place it and things finish up with "Wrecking Ball Crew".
Crazy Lixx tends to peter out a little during the latter half of the record, but nonetheless this is a strong glam/sleaze effort straight out of the 80's......gotta go now and hit play all over again!

BUY: Crazy Lixx - Crazy Lixx

The Meister

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rated X Album Review


It used to be artists, with few exceptions, were identified primarily for one specific band. Rarely, if ever, did they stray from that band. Occasionally, artists, for any number of reasons, would step outside to do a solo record or come together with other established musicians outside the bands for which they were known. These groups were often called supergroups due to each of the members’ high level of individual accomplishment. Today, the musical landscape has changed dramatically in this regard. It’s not uncommon for artists to be involved in two or more projects or bands at the same time. Many of these projects come and go so quickly that they never even do a live date together. No sooner does the album drop than some of the members are off to promoting the next project. This is not only a quantity issue. Quality suffers as well. These albums are commonly feel rushed and limited production-wise by tight budgets. They result is often a few gems lost within a whole lot of mediocre. Among all this confusion and dilution, there is occasionally a band that comes a long that is a reminder of an earlier time, a time when supergroup meant something. Rated X is one of those bands.

The idea for Rated X was born with Frontiers Records President, Serefino Perugino, who approached Joe Lynn Turner (Rainbow, Deep Purple, Yngwie Malmsteen) about creating a group of A-list musicians to create a top notch hard rock record. Frontiers label-mate Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Ozzy Osbourne, Blue Murder, King Kobra) was the first to come aboard, followed by fretless bassist extraordinaire, Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder, Kenny Wayne Shepherd). Turner and the reunited classic Blue Murder rhythm section, was rounded out by Joe Lynn Turner's guitarist and KISS collaborator, Karl Cochran. KISS fans know Cochran as the guy who co-wrote Into the Void with Ace Frehley for the Psycho Circus album and also served as Ace's touring bassist for a time. The sound of Rated X can be best described as what you'd get if Joe Lynn Turner were to have joined Blue Murder. Catchy melodies, huge choruses, pounding drums and killer guitar riffs. There's also plenty of opportunity for Tony Franklin to lay down plenty of tasty fretless bass melodies. Use of keyboards and more complex instrumental sections, at times, give the songs a classic Deep Purple/Rainbow feel.

Rated X track listing:

"Get Back My Crown": Strong opener. Great riff. Classic Turner sound with very Deep Purple/Rainbow keyboard solo. A tip of he hat to the great Jon Lord. Cochran shines right out of the gate.

"This Is Who I Am": One of two songs released with the pre-order. The chorus makes this song. Dare you to not be singing along before it's over. The rhythm sections, particularly Appice, drives this one.

"Fire And Ice": Franking shines on this one, The fretless bass takes the lead on the intro. Another classic Joe Lynn Turner chorus. Hook for days. Cool Zeppelin-like interlude leading to the guitar solo.

"I Don’t Cry No More": Turner's Malmsteen meets Rainbow. The solo section stands out on this one. The keyboard and guitar trade licks before kicking into a harmony solo.

"Lhasa": 7 minutes long and Blue Murder all the way. Could have been called Valley of the Kings Part II". At least it would appear intentional as "Valley of the Kings" is referenced in the first line of the song. The interlude section which features Franklin and Appice is the highlight on this one.

"Devil In Disguise": This track is just okay. Not a terrible song, but average relative to the high bar set by the rest of the record. To me nothing really stands out above the rest here. Maybe it will grow on me over time.

"You Are The Music": If there's a weak point on the record, this is it. I have high expectations for a Joe Lynn Turner ballad and this one just falls short. Musically, it's not all that bad, but lyrically it's lost on me.

"Peace Of Mind": The record starts to get back on track after somewhat lackluster offerings in tracks 6 and 7. Definitely better than "Devil In Disguise" and a hint of things to come. This track features a cool bass solo.

"Maybe Tonight": Strong mid-tempo rocker. Turner's melodic AOR rock side is on full display on this one, especially the chorus. Closest to a Turner solo track as anything on the record. Nice use of piano on the intro.

"On The Way To Paradise": Straight ahead  rocker. Great track. Main riff and extended solo/bridge section reminds of Turner's Rainbow days. Cochran drives this one.

"Our Love Is Not Over": Finally! The classic Joe Lynn Turner ballad I was hoping for with track 7. Worth the wait. Cochran channels his inner Gary Moore on this one. Get that lighter out.

"Stranger In Us All": The second song released early with the pre-order. Strong finish to the record. Franklin's fretless shines again in the solo section. Another reminder of what a monster Tony Franklin is.

For those unaware, Karl Cochran suffered a serious stroke in April, 2014. He beat the odds and is now facing a long road to recovery. Please help support Karl by checking out this record and, if you dig it, please purchase up a copy. Its available on CD and digitally from Amazon and iTunes.

Below is the video for "This is Who I Am"

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