Hope everyone on the East Coast of the US is safe after Irene. Rest assured I was listening to music while the winds howled outside. First off I want to recommend the next creepy installment of music from the Midnight Syndicate. It is not rock by any means, but Carnival Arcane is symphonic movie soundtrack goodness.
Counting Crows: August and Everything After-Live at Town Hall
Adam Duritz and company serve up a live selection of their music for their adoring fans. The only difference between the CD and the DVD is the interviews with Duritz and Charles Gillingham included on the DVD. Not surprisingly the stand out tracks on here are hits like “Mr Jones,” “Round Here,” and “Rain King”. It also reminds us that Duritz is grating when listened to for a period of time more than one or two songs. “Mr Jones” is a great drunken karaoke sing-along, one has to admit.
This CD/DVD also demonstrates how truly overrated this whine-a-minute band was in its day. I confess to owning their hit album August and Everything After, but egads does this music not age well. While not as bad as some of the whiny female singer/songwriters of the decade, this is pretty grim stuff. This live outing was recorded in 2007 at Town Hall in New York City, while they tried to remind people of why they were liked at one time.
As you might imagine from the title of this release, their entire hit debut is performed here. Whenever you think the pop-rock of the 2000s was bad, check some of the “best” of the 1990s and you would realize how much the better the ’00s are for music.
Rainbow: Live in Germany 1976
As one might expect with the recent demise of the much beloved Ronnie James Dio, the various bands he was associated with are re-releasing material by the boatload. The nice thing about Dio is that he rarely if ever was associated with anything that would be considered bad. His body of work was consistent in its quality, and is always a pleasure to hear it remastered. Anyone who owns this probably only has it on vinyl so this is useful release. The two-CD release, which mimics a two vinyl record set of yore, contains eight tracks from the Dio, Blackmore, Cozy Powell, Jimmy Bain and Tony Carey lineup. This group only recorded one studio album in the form of “Rising”.
One thought that comes out of listening to this great live recording is how different it is from the more “famous” Rainbow that developed after this line-up fizzled. This version of Rainbow was a heavy rock band with talented musicians. Each one of the songs here in an extended version “jam” which can be a bit tiring for some. Their version of Deep Purple’s “Mistreated” is quite the contrast to the Coverdale/Hughes fronted original.
If you are a Rainbow fan–especially a fan of the pre-mainstream version–then this live collection is something you might want to pick up. It’s a pleasure to listen to, and reminds fans of just what a talent Rainbow were back in their early days.
David Coverdale: White Snake and Northwinds
That is no typo–the record which gave David Coverdale the name for his high successful band started as separate words. Not only was the music much mellower and low-key than anything the band whipped up; this was Coverdale feeling his way musically after leaving the relative safety of Deep Purple (after it imploded after Come Taste the Band). Most Coverdale completists, of which I admit to being one, already have these releases. To make this more interesting there are two bonus tracks on both releases. None of them are alternate versions of songs on the CD already, which is a nice change for such rehashes.
Micky Moody, who would end up being a fixture in Whitesnake until their mid-80s “re-invention,” was on hand from the beginning. Former bandmate Roger Glover produced the two CDs that were recorded in Germany. These two releases show Coverdale developing as a creative type as well as a vocalist. It is clear that Coverdale was loving being his own boss as he let his pipes do the talking.
Unlike a lot of music from the 1970s, this stuff ages quite well. Newbies to the releases just have to remember this is blues-rock, not the full swagger of his later hard-rocking future.
Michael Voss and Mark Sweeney have been in a bunch of bands in their time. Somewhere along the line they decided it might be fun to do a metal album; this is what resulted. Now instead of just relying on their combined talents, they drafted in a whole mess of vocalists. They ranged from Jeff Scott Soto and Paul Shortino to Ripper Owens and Tony “The Cat Martin” of Black Sabbath fame, for a total of twelve, just over a one third of all the guests on hand. Add to that all the guitarists and bassists along for the ride and the studio must have gotten quite crowded.
Overall this is pretty decent power metal of the American variety. There is a tint of Iced Earth about it, while a more European power metal feel creeps in on occasion..Despite the plethora on talent on hand, there is a clear direction to the songs on here and the songwriting is quite good. Huge catchy choruses and galloping guitars are par for the course. This is most notable on “The Crow,” which will surely be a live favorite. Voss and Sweeney did not make the mistake of making an album that lacks focus and comes across as a bunch of musos larking about in the studio. “Let Me Die” is quite interesting in a Braveheart sort of way; the spoken word part is amusing.
It will be interesting to see if this band manages another release. One thing is for sure–it’s great to see the guys behind this effort didn’t waste the talent they had to hand.
Loreweaver: Imperviae Auditiones
The first thing you can note about this band is that they have a great name. So often non-English speaking bands come up with awful names that might have worked in their language, but not in English. The second thing about this Italian group that is quite helpful is that their lead singer, Barbara Rubin, actually sings in unaccented English. There is no snicker-inducing distraction to be found. Considering this band produces a progressive brand of heavy rock, this is probably a good thing. This is their debut album and it’s quite a good start in such a crowded and competitive genre. While it’s branded as progressive metal, there are even touches of bands like Marillion at their heaviest, and broodiest.
What probably helps the band quite a bit is the fact they have a female singer instead of a male one. Dream Theater comparisons become less obvious as a result. They clearly are a talented bunch who have honed their craft before subjecting it on the world. There is no sense of first album jitters. The songwriting is up to par and this is not a glorified epic musician workout.
The album is a good first effort from a progressive band that needs watching. Well done to SG records for giving this bunch a shot.
While not as numerous as the musicians on the Wolfpakk album, this band has ten members. It’s a gang effort of epic proportions, and the album has a bit of a theme going on. It involves the supernatural and murders, so fairly standard fare for a metal band. There are no less than five vocalists (two females and three males) on here, making sure they can cater to all the parts. Needless to say, as a vocalist myself, a vocal-heavy album is always good fun. There are a couple of Pain of Salvation members on here (one current, one former) as well as musicians for all sorts of heavier bands. They even manage a decent power ballad in the form of “Gemini Syndrom.”
While it’s a concept album, the songs can stand alone enough to be enjoyed on their own. While this might be a rather epic effort on behalf of the band, it never gets weighed down by being too po-faced or obsessed with itself. This is merely a damn good progressive metal album that happens to have a theme running through it. This is more towards the power metal edge of progressive metal, rather than the symphonic end that is occupied by Opeth and Therion. There is enough catchiness here that the tracks will surely go down well on the festival circuit if the band cares to take it on the road.
More important, to me at least, is that this album can be enjoyed at any time. Unlike many progressive albums, metal or otherwise, one doesn’t have to be in the proper mood toappreciate it. This is an excellent first effort that leaves this writer looking forward to their next release.
Stay safe and rocking out there as you ponder the next hurricane in the east Atlantic ocean.