Another week, another bunch of stuff to review. This time we have a mixture of forms and genres.
The Doobie Brothers: Live at the Greek Theatre 1982
This was the final show for the venerable multi-ethnic rock band of the 1970s. Like many of these “farewell” gigs, it wouldn’t last for all the people in the band; some recently released a new album. Before I start, sadly Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, a member of the Doobies in the 1970s and now a civilian advisor to the Pentagon, does not appear on these discs. What will probably surprise many of you is how many of these tracks you remember from the days of classic rock radio. 20 songs is pretty good for value as well (four are “bonus” tracks”).
Michael McDonald, who went on to soft rock stardom later in the decade, is on the CD performing some of the songs he was famous for singing in the band. This is a great summer top-down driving music. “Listen to the Music” (which is the opener and closer song) and songs like “Takin’ it to the Streets” define the word timeless. I defy you not to sing along, whether or not you are old enough to remember these the first time or not. There is a DVD of the gig, which combines the music with live interviews of the major members of the band including McDonald. It also includes a bonus song on the CD: “No Stoppin’ Us Now”.
Not heavy rock by any means, but that is not to say this isn’t quality catchy stuff delivered by a great band.
Bad Company: Live at Wembley
If you are a fan of this band then there is pretty much no logical reason why you wouldn’t want to pick this up or its DVD equivalent. The DVD adds the inevitable “band interviews” as an extra to the music, as well as one more track “Burning Sky.” Fifteen (or Sixteen) tracks of the Bad Co.’s goodness featuring all the original members who are still alive. The lads have buried the hatchet over the Bad Co. without Paul Rodgers, who toured after he left. Interesting they have Howard Lesse of Heart fame and Lynn Sorenson (playing bass in place of the late Boz Burrell) to fill out the line-up. The churlish might say its about time that Rodgers was back fronting Bad Co. instead of that bizarre combination of him and a couple members of Queen
This release clearly shows a band firing on all cylinders. It’s tight as you would expect from this bunch of professionals. From the opening note to the final curtain, its just musical excellence. It features Bad Company’s greatest hits played by the guys who made it happen. They even went to the trouble to make the disc look like an ole’ LP record. Its hard to fault anything about this release. It has all those qualities that make a great live CD. It makes you wish you were there. Bad Co. at their very best–what is there not to like?
The Trews: Hope & Ruin
The Trews are one of those Canadian bands that sound Canadian. Just look at the name—”trews.” What are those? To most people the name sounds daft, but there are just some bands that you know are Canuck. Rush, Triumph and Anvil all have that Canuck twist to the heavy rock and metal sound. Well The Trews do a similar thing with hard pop rock. There is just this weird vibe like on the song “One by One” about the day after a bad gig on the road. Hey how many other people get to rhyme the word stereo with “Ontario” so it sounds genuine? That sort of thing continues all over the CD. It’s a bit mellower than their past efforts, but still quality stuff.
This is the band’s fourth album, and it has all the qualities that make this band so good. Whether or not it’s going to be the album that breaks America remains to be seen. Having heard all their output, they don’t release turkeys. They are currently touring the US, so Americans near their dates can check out in a live setting.
If you like damn fine hard rock then check out these guys. They aren’t LA or New Yawk, but they still deliver some fine tunes. It’s good summer music for your driving pleasure.
Anvil: Juggernaut of Justice
Anvil was always one of those “cult” metal bands that people talked about in hushed tones with fellow metal geeks. The group is a bit like some of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands that influenced many, but are not as widely known as they should be. Anvil are another bunch of Canucks who somehow managed to combine the vibe of NWOBHM bands like Angelwitch with the West Coast metal vibe that was happening in the 80s. They are a missing link of metal. Like Rush and Triumph, they are a trio–what is it with Canadians and power trios anyway?
Then there was that movie Anvil: The Story of Anvil, which became the reality pairing with Spinal Tap. Metal fans of all sorts saw some of their heroes praising the bunch of nutty Canadian metallers they had never heard of. That was 2008, and now the band are back to take advantage of their newfound fame. So is this a cash-in and unworthy of the hype? That would be a resounding no, you can be assured. This a great traditional metal release with cracking tunes from the title track through the end. And who ain’t gonna love “When Hell Breaks Loose”?
Recorded at Dave Grohl’s home studio and produced by Bob Marlette of Ozzy & Alice production fame, this release has been done properly. They may have been around for 33 years, but they have rarely sounded fresher. Guess their European festival touring has given them the kick they need. If you want traditional metal done properly by guys who were actually there at its birth, then look no further.
Well, on that heavy note, it’s time for me to sign off. Take care and stay rocking.