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Music Reviews: Toto, The Company Band, Pelican, Mr Big, Black Cobra

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Its been another interesting week of music and DVDs. The diversity keeps happening which I rather enjoy.

DVD review

Toto: Falling in Between Live

I was worried this DVD might have fallen into the self-indulgent variety. Thankfully, all the band members solos are tight and interesting, keeping you from desperately hitting the forward button. All the hits are played with all the pomp and glory that Toto can muster, with the crowd singing along in full voice. This is truly a celebration of Toto and their uber-talent. Its amazing to watch these guys, who are not young, dish it out with the best of them.

This is one of those DVDs that makes you want to be there. The extras feature the band being interviewed. Not that much extra, but with the music as good as it is, few will care.

Recorded in Paris this is just what Toto fans are looking for. If you are a Toto fan then this is essential and if you love incredibly well played hard rock then you can’t go wrong with this lot. It’s like a master class in writing catchy pop rock that still retains some balls (at least live). My admiration of Toto has always been a bit of guilty pleasure, but when a band is this bloody good what is there not to like. It’s not hard to realize why these guys are so well respected. On this Blu-ray you get to see the band in all its glory which is a real treat.

CD reviews

The Company Band: s/t

A supergroup of sorts with members of Fu Manchu, Clutch, Fireball Ministry and CKY comprising the lineup. For once with this sort of affair, its quite a good offering and a great slab of hard rock. The band it most sounds like is probably Clutch, which is not a bad thing. It’s a bunch of guys with the chops doing what they do best with a bunch of buddies. It exudes class and people having a damn good time doing what they love.

With songs like the stomping opener “Zombie Barricades” you just know its going to be an enjoyable ride. British listeners will be amused by the track “All’ Well in Milton Keynes.” It’s a good song so there is no need to be “in” on the joke. Other highlights include “Love Means Never Having To Say You’re Ugly” and the rest of the tracks on here. Its a great driving hard rock album done full stop.

If you can’t get enough of Clutch and Monster Magnet then this release might be something to check out. You really won’t regret it one bit.

Pelican: What We All Come to Need

You could argue that this band is a bit of an anomaly, since they don’t have any vocals on their music. They play heavy metal, but don’t bother with some ponce prattling about in front of them, or having to worry about coming up with lyrics for the music they write. To a band like this all that freedom is empowering, and they take their music whereever the hell they want to. Most instrumental albums have the quality of muzak, no matter what type of music they are playing. This band manage to make their music hugely enjoyable and entertaining.

There are no highlights on this album per se — like a Steve Morse band album, it is all a highlight. There is no noodling on showing off, just some great instrumental music, and some hugely enjoyable metal. Why this band is not used on more soundtracks is beyond me. If you don’t know what all the fuss is about this band, then give this release a try. Its a great heavy rock album. You won’t even miss the vocals.

Mr Big: Back to Budokan

Mr. Big were always bigger in Japan than anywhere else in the world, and remain so still. In the U.S., they have faded into history, and considered by many a “hair band,” despite the fact there is more talent in one member of this lot than there is in the complete lineups of most hair bands. The group disbanded after grunge hit and went their own merry ways. Paul Gilbert, guitar maestro, did a bunch of well received solo albums (both instrumental and including vocals), and lead singer Eric Martin also toured and released albums. They finally ended up burying their frustrations with each other and got back together to tour. This is a two-CD set of their appearance at the famous venue recorded early this year.

Its obvious from this release why they were considered a bit of a musicians band. Whether its Billy Sheehan playing lead guitar on his bass or Paul Gilbert nailing an amazing solo, this is quite a treat. Yes, of course, they play all their hits including “To Be with You,” the huge song that spent 15 weeks on the charts in 1991. They also play their heavier tracks including “Addicted to that Rush” and the great hit for David Lee Roth (whom Sheehan toured with) “Shy Boy.” There is no doubting either the talent in this band or the fact that their return is welcome. This is a damn good live album, something I very rarely say.

Black Cobra: Chronomega

This lot do heavy metal right and manage to combine a heavy modern sound with a sufficient hat-tip to their metal predecessors. These guys play metal the way it should be done with oodles of class and passion. This is uber-heaviness done quite properly and in the best way possible. Its good of the Southern Lord label to find this band and give em’ a deal. Its even better that the mighty Pelican is taking them on tour with them. The exposure will give this band help to take it to the next level.

Formed in 2002 with ex-Cavity man Jason Landrian and Acid King man Rafa Martinez, this duo is a rather unusual one for metal, as well as for touring purposes. Its not surprising they did such a good job at impressing people at SWSX. You should make an effort to seek this release out and check the band out live when you can. If you need to know the genre, its an amalgam of sludge, doom, and stoner with a taste of proper heavy metal.

Not as quirky as most of Southern Lord’s releases, but a great discovery nonetheless. This lot are surely a band to watch.

Alright that is your varied lot for this week. Make sure to check my blog under the link to this post for some of the stuff that didn’t make the cut but is noteworthy just the same. Rock hard, rock live, and stay safe this week.

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About Marty Dodge

  • http://blogcritics.org Clarence Yu

    I am waiting for a copy of Back to Budokan. It’s about time Mr. Big got back together and I hope this album really sounds good.