It is that time of the week again and as per normal, it is quite an interesting musical adventure.
Alice Cooper: Welcome to My Nightmare II
There are times in this gig that reviews are tough to write. This is one of those, it is of course easy when a release is a steaming pile or something special. What is tough is when most of it just leaves you unmoved. This is one such disc. I have listened to this disc quite a few times and for the most part is just doesn’t do anything for me. I say this as someone who likes the ole’ Coop’s music both old and new. The music sounds far more like the music from his first big time in the charts. This is far more rock (and in some cases roll) than it is metal. This is dark poppy rock music that would not have been out of the place in the ’70s.
There are some amusing ditties on here, as you would expect from
Alice, but nothing that really rivals anything on its original namesake. I can’t even figure out whether the opening track “I am made of You” is brilliant or balderdash. It is, of course, very possible that I am taking this way to seriously and missing the point of the CD. I mean the pseudo-rap of “Disco Bloodbath Boogie Fever” is just freaking awful, but that might be deliberate.
Another problem with the disc is that it’s 14 tracks, which is quite a few too many. “Last Man on Earth” and “Ghouls Gone Wild” have grown on me, the latter is a great song that should be a hit at Halloween. There seems to be the missing “catchy” element that is so common in the best of Alice’s tracks. The ballad “Something to Remember” seems quite out of place mid-CD and should have been left to last. It just ruins the vibe of the disc and is just not very good. “What Baby Wants” has the same vibe as his hit “Poison”, but with a modern Glee-esque duet touch.
Overall, this disc strikes as trying too hard to be hip. Not a bad album, but not the usual quality and consistency we expect from Alice.
LA Guns: Acoustic Gipsy Live
This is a live album from Tracii Guns’ version of the band. There is, of course, a Phil Lewis, LA Guns’ most well known singer, version of the group treading the boards as well. Tracii Guns’ LA Guns are fronted by Jizzi Pearl of Love/Hate fame. This was recorded in Feb of this year at The Hotel Cafe in LA. This is the first new release for Steve Vai’s label. It features many past members of the band including Muddy Stardust, Doni Grey and Danny Nordahl. This line-up didn’t remain together for long after that gig. Remembering who plays in this version of LA Guns could keep you up at night it’s so complicated. Which version of the band you prefer is all down to whose voice you prefer. Me, I prefer Phil Lewis on vocals as he has got better pipes than Jizzy, especially in this sort of setting.
That said this has decent versions of the LA Guns hits as well as a passable covers. Jizzy does an acceptable job on vocals for their cover of the Nazareth moanfest “Love Hurts”. You can debate whether glam metal tracks such as “Sex Action” and Rip and Tear” actually work acoustically. This was an enjoyable unplugged release that works great on a long drive. And you got to love hearing “Electic Gipsy” acoustically.
Decent acoustic release, if nothing that great, from a band that is a shadow of its former self.
Paul Rodgers & Friends: Live at Montreux 1994
There is a DVD and CD of this event released at the same time. The glory of the CD, of course, if that it’s far more portable and useful. Yesterday I had a drive just about the length of the CD and boy was it more fun thanks to this release. Nothing like windows down, sunroof open on an early autumn night listening to the wonderful vocals of Paul Rodgers. This is a mixture of classic blues tracks as well as Bad Company and Free tunes. He and his buddies deliver a stonking set of the quality you would expect from Paul Rodgers. Along for the ride are such friends as Steve Lukather of Toto, Jason Bonham on the drums (Bonham brought along his former Bonham bandmates Ian Hatton & John Smithson), Brian May, Neal Schon and a couple of blues masters to give it cred. It was Montreux after all.
Both the DVD and the CD deliver the quality music that you would expect from this bunch. While it’s not the dozens of camera angle events of live DVDs these days, it’s still a damn good showing. If you like Rodgers then there is no reason why either would not be a good buy. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Rodgers solo with Queen, Bad Company, Free or The Firm, this guy delivers the goods and is one of the few consistently brilliant vocalists and frontmen of this or any age.
Brainstorm: On the Spur of the Moment
First thing that strikes me about this band is the fact their lead singer sounds like the original singer from Lillian Axe Ron Taylor. This is quite good power metal that has the all the right elements. Because of the slightly different vocal style it adds to some element of a unique sound. Opening track, at first sounds, a bit like the theme song from M.A.S.H. the TV show. Unlike their past releases the band seem to have got a handle on song-writing and there is more variety. This is clearly a band that have realized the competition in the genre is pretty tough so they have upped their game. Funny enough some of the use of audio clips in tracks reminds me of the modern version of the afore-mentioned Lillian Axe.
This is power metal that is at its most accessible and that will be a problem for some. It’s a very polished sound and the songs have a catchy quality about them. Despite being German they haven’t gone the Helloween/Gamma Ray/Iron Maiden galloping metal route and instead have gone for something a bit more hard rock than over the top metal. “In the Blink of an Eye” is a catchy track that sticks with you.
Not exactly ground-breaking but a competent and enjoyable release for sure.
Besides having a name that reminds me of some aunt or other, this bunch are from Brazil. One thing that is for sure is their fascination for all things Dream Theater. Even the lead singer has a serious James LeBrie style about him. And by no means do I mean this as a bad thing. There are far worse alike voices I could think of than LeBrie’s. This is solid melodic power metal with some tinges of progressive noodling. There is not even a small hint of where this band hail from, nothing tribal nor obviously Brazilian about this release. Edu Falashi is also Angra’s frontman, having replaced their former frontman who went solo. To honest I prefer this release to Angra’s last one.
This is a great release from a solid and competent band. As with many such discs there is nothing especially mind-blowing on here, but if you like your power metal there is nothing to turn you off. Fortunately this reviewer can listen to this level of quality melodic metal until the cows come home. When it’s done well, as it is here, there is something quite special about it. If you like Dream Theater at their least turgid and over-blown then you will love this band.
Riverside: Memories in my Head
I normally don’t review EPs. However, when it’s longer than many full length records back in the day one really has to do so. This band is obviously obsessed with Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and wanted to record a companion piece of sorts. The first track has that album’s vibe down in droves. The band is from Poland so the accented vocals give it a feeling of Opeth as well which is not a bad thing either. This is deep introspective progressive rock. The band mostly do progressive metal in their normal release, but there is not much of hint of that on here.
This is seriously chilled music that is great with a glass of wine and a cigar. Rather than penetrating your ears, it washes over you in some aural wave. It is the antithesis of the raise your fist in the air metal. This is for being introspective and pensive, but man is it good. I have never heard of this band before, but I have to say this is a great release that deserves the ear of the discerning prog listener.
Stay safe and rocking this next week, and hope something here meets with your fancy.