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DVD/Music Reviews: Twisted Sister, Deep Purple, Various, Stream of Passion, & Draconian

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Welcome to another week’s trawl through what is on sale or about to be. It’s a pretty good selection this time with no turkeys to speak of.

DVD reviews

Twisted Sister: Double Live

As the name suggests, it’s a two-DVD set of a couple of live gigs from the band almost a decade apart. Each DVD includes interviews with the band as they reflect on the time of the live recording. The first one is their final “club” gig in New York in 1982 before heading off to the UK to record their debut. It was their biggest gig to date with what would become their “classic” line-up, and marked their transition to the big time. It was interesting to hear the guys explain how they were frustrated by not being signed and their Spinal Tap-esque quest for the right drummer.

The second DVD is the highlight of this collection however, not least for the interviews explaining the traumatic events that finally brought them back together after 13 years. The actual show, the “NY Steel” gig to aid the 9/11 heroes, was emotional for all the suffering New Yorkers. It was also traumatic for the band, as they had not played together or spoken with each other for a very long time. The video of their rehearsals for the gig show quite a bit of tension among band members.  While tracks and song clips from this gig have shown up on other TS releases in recent years, this DVD shows it in its best light. With the reunited Twisted Sister still going strong, especially on the festival scene, it’s good to reflect on what brought them back together.

Twisted Sister fans will eat it up, and it’s damn good live DVD set for all rock fans.

CD reviews

Various: American Blues

Subtitled “Putumayo Presents,” this collection comes from a record label mostly known for its world and roots music stable. Then again, when it comes to hard rock and metal, you don’t get any more “roots” than a good dose of the blues. There are none of the new breed players on here like Joe Bonamassa or others of his type, but well known hit-making bluesmen like Robert Cray make an appearance. There are cracking tracks here like Arthur Adams & B.B. King doing “Get Next to Me,” and Robert Cray and Albert Collins dishing up “She’s into Something.”

Of course no American blues compilation would be complete without a track from the mighty Taj Mahal. This is an excellent taster to the variety and range of American blues. It’s one of those great primers that newbies to the genre can pick up to get their feet wet. American Blues is a definite addition to your driving music collection, perfect for that long summer drive.

Deep Purple: Shades of Deep Purple, The Book of Taliesyn, Deep Purple

This is the late 1960s line-up of the great band that is so often forgotten. The identity of the singer on their first US hit “Hush” (top 5 no less) is one that stumps people at pub and music quizzes all the time. It was in fact Rod Evans that sang on that song, as he did on all these albums. These albums are very much late 60s music, barely hinting at the rock monster that they would turn into once they got Ian Gillan and Roger Glover on board for their 4th album. Just like Pink Floyd before they went huge sound and into pomp and prog overdrive, this is a 60s pop band. It just seems odd to hear Deep Purple covering songs like “Help” by the Beatles and Neil Diamond’s “Kentucky Woman.” That said, those who care about knowing about the full history of the band will like these CDs. Most people can settle for a few of these tracks on their Deep Purple compilation.

Hard rock fans will find much of this to be 60s pop psychedelic bollocks that doesn’t age well. There are some shades of progressive brilliance, but not that often. Those who own these releases on vinyl will love the extra tracks. There are the required TV appearances, B-sides and alternative versions to keep the fans happy. Of course, the tracks have been lovingly remastered to get the most out of them. Meaty liner notes are included in these releases to give you some insight into the time for the band. For the rest of us, it’s like most 60s music–you kind of had to be there man.

Stream of Passion: Darker Days

They have the word passion in their name, and they are fronted by a lovely female singer. However unlike many of the bog standard releases in this genre, this is actually rather good. Well it’s good enough so I put off reviewing it a few weeks to be able to listen to it some more, which is saying a lot. They are Dutch and Marcela Bovio is the songstress that weaves it all into its epic symphonic glory. Her voice, unlike some who try to keep up with similar bands, has the range to be able counter the heaviness that sometimes is behind her. Call it goth metal or symphonic metal, but rest assured nothing is done by halves by this lot. There is nothing the slightest bit raw about anything on here, its heavily produced soaring music that is meant to heard in the biggest way possible. Just to make sure its all tight, female backing singer for the live show is Diana Bovio, sister of Marcela. Just in case you thought they were incapable of heaviness check out “Collide”.

Heavier than say Within Temptation, especially these days, this band deliver the goods in buckets. Just when you thought the genre might be getting a tad stale something like this comes along to give it the kick up the arse it needs. It seems on their 4th album they have hit their stride. Recommended for fans of this type of music, its rarely gets any better than this.

Draconian: A Rose for the Apocalypse

As you might have gathered by the rather cheery name of the album, this is not exactly an album of sing-along songs. It’s doom-laden goth with a male and female singer at its helm. Well, it’s gloomy when they are not sounding like a slightly less electronic Portishead. This bunch certainly are not trying to get in on the Within Temptation frock metal trend; this is way too miserable and heavy to attract that crowd. And therein lies the conundrum. I don’t know what to think of this release; it’s not bad, by any means.  I found myself listening to it quite often. However, there is something that is missing from it that I could not quite put my finger on. I even didn’t listen to it for a week to try and figure out what was going on.

I think one of its biggest problems is that the songs, while well constructed, are instantly forgettable. There is talent in spades on this album, but it seems to be missing something. There was nothing on here that leapt out at me and grabbed me. There were no choruses that had me wanting to sing along, there was not big hook of a song on here. It’s just decent, well constructed doom goth metal with a male and female lead. You really want to love this album, but somehow can’t.

Well, that is your lot for the week. Have a safe and rocking time.

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