Well it’s almost the beginning of December and the duck from Thanksgiving is all but a memory. So time to dive in a smorgasbord of music being put out for your holiday pleasure.
Before the saga of Michael Hutchence pinching Bob “The LiveAid Saint” Geldoff’s wife and buggering off to Australia, Inxs were known for their music. Now reduced to the end of a bizarre sex joke having died in a bit of autoerotism on the back of a door, Hutchence was once seen as the quintessential thrusting rock front-man. A successor to Jagger if he ever bothered to retire. The gig on this DVD was recorded a mere five months before Hutchence accidentally topped himself.
This is 105 minutes of Inxs in full flow and doing what they did best. This is a greatest hit set of course with all their big 80s hits including “Elegantly Wasted”, “New Sensation” and “Need You Tonight”. And ironically considering what Paula Yates did not longer after his death, they end with the track “Suicide Blonde”. This is very much a DVD for those who liked the band in their 80s heyday when it was hard to escape them on MTV. They were very good at pumping out the pop hits.
Inxs still peddle their wares with new singer J D Fortune, but they will always be remembered for their music. If you are a fan treat yourself and remember what the band were far more than the ponce at the front.
Velvet Revolver: Live in Houston
Another band with one seriously messed up frontman made up of former members of a band with another seriously mental lead singer. This live DVD shows Velvet Revolver at their peak following their hit debut album “Contraband”. It was on this tour they proved to the world they were just not a studio-concocted super-group. They had the live goods in droves. And there was the fun of seeing whether or not Scott Weiland would implode.
Interspaced between the live tracks, covering both the first album and tracks from their collected pasts, are some odd interludes with a black-capped woman. Between both of those we get to hear some rather good interviews with members of the band on how they came together. What is most interesting is the snippets of their process of finding a singer for the band. Weiland for his part makes it clear that the band saved his life and helped him “get clean”. Considering all of them were recovering addicts of some sort or other, he was in good company.
Not exactly the hugest package in the world, but good fun just the same. A good reminder of what a great band Velvet Revolver were at their peak. A must for the VR, Slash or Weiland fan and a good slab of arena rock for those who like that sort of thing.
Transatlantic: Whirld Tour 2010
Billed as “An Evening with Transatlantic,” this saw the prog supergroup doing a three-hour-plus show for their adoring fans. If you needed to know how adoring their fans are then check out the documentary included in this set. It shows aficionados flying from all over the world to one of their UK gigs, from as far away as Brazil. Not surprisingly this is a testosterone-heavy audience. Transatlantic ain’t exactly Motley Crue or Def Leppard. What they are is musicians at the top of their game who enjoy this exploration of the prog outside their main gigs.
This DVD is anything but a bad value for money. You get two DVDs with a total of over 300 minutes of music and documentary film. (There is a version with 2DVDs & 3 CDs). This is an entire evening of progressive music viewing pleasure. There are actually only seven tracks in the entire set, six if you don’t include the bonus cover of “The Return of the Giant Hogweed,” which features Genesis, for it was that band who did it originally, guitarist Stave Hackett.
The band now, with a member of Pain of Salvation along as an extra keyboardist, put on an impressive spectacle of clever heavy rock. This is not exactly a visual treat by any means but that is not what you expect from this sort of band. You would be hard pressed to find a better prog DVD this year. It’s a feast for the ears and a fascinating insight into this supergroup. Perfect for the post-holiday feast food coma. Let the prog goodness wash over you and enjoy.
Monster Magnet: Mastermind
Call it stoner biker metal, or heavy psychedelic it doesn’t really matter. Dave Wyndorf and his merry chums have churned out a great slab of heavy rock. This is the best thing they have done in years, possibly even since the 90s. It’s a band that is firing on all cylinders and remembering why the hell they do this in the first place. Far from being something bland since Wyndorf has gotten clean, as sometimes happens with this sort of band, the machine is cleaned up producing some great music.
Tracks like “100 Million Miles” with its great low-end bass intro are sure highlights of this release. And there is the recognizably catchy “Gods & Punks” that harkens back to the good ole days of this band. Could fit nicely on the band’s Powertrip album. The title track will no doubt prove to be a live favourite for the band’s fans. Monster Magnet live are something to behold and not to be missed.
There is even a fairly mellow trippy track in the form of “Time Machine”. If you ever liked this bunch then its time to seek out this release. It’s a great return to form for a great heavy rock band from the 90s.
Katra: Out of the Ashes
Fit Scandinavian woman on the cover, gothic metal backing her up with lots of symphonic touches is not exactly an uncommon combination these days. So often they sound like one of the two big names, either Within Temptation or Nightwish (new or old). Occasionally you get something that is a tad different or at least good enough to rise above the morass. This is one such release. It has that special factor that makes you wake up and listen. What of course makes a huge difference is that the band’s namesake Katra Solopuro actually has the pipes to pull it off. The fact the band are tight and have an album plus a few tours under their belts helps quite a bit.
Swirling melodies and symphonic touches make this stuff catchy as stink. There is something genuinely enjoyable about this release and it holds up to repeated listens. So often these releases begin to wear as you realise there is little in the way of songs and its mostly fluff destined for an imaginary soundtrack.
If you are into female-led goth metal then this is worth your time.
Virgin Steele: The Black Light Bacchanalia
From the opening strains of “By the Hammer of Zeus” you know you are in for a treat. The phrase “by the hammer of Zeus and the wrecking ball of fire” sticks in your head like an acupuncture needle. This is a clever power metal done very well. The drumming seems to be designed to drum the lyrics into your head so you can not forget them. If Homer had this band as his backing no one would ever forget the word to the Iliad.
This is not your normal Dragonforce gumby metal; it’s intellectual power metal in the epic sense. They even tackle the tale of Orpheus’ quest to bring his wife back from the underworld on “The Orpheus Taboo”. Myth is plundered for its best power metal sources for this release. This is symphonic power metal at its more glorious and pretentious. Then again Virgin Steele really do have the chops to pull it off without sounding naff. Nothing is over-sung or over-played, everything is just right.
This is probably not for everyone, but if you get it, there is something quite special to behold. Virgin Steele can truly embrace the term “thinking man’s power metal”. Never has so much been learned while head-banging.
Well on that classically influenced myth-filled note its time to wrap this column up. Stay safe and rocking this next week.