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The Breakdown: Circus Devils (Robert Pollard), Heaven & Hell, Liars, Queensryche

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First priorities this week aren't really about music, for once. No, this week the priority is getting the hell out of Phoenix in exchange for a weekend of zoo, sea life, and the beach in Phoenicians' second home, San Diego. Regardless, there is no doubt that at least a couple of the following discs will be accompanying my I-Pod on the trip:

Circus Devils – Sgt. Disco: Yeah, it's yet another Robert Pollard project – 32 more weird, rough little snippets of songs. Normally I'd say that people who like his former band, Guided By Voices, or his solo material, might as well go ahead and pick this up, but Circus Devils is more unusual than his typical GBV-style affairs, and Sgt. Disco won't be much different. This is more like psycho-prog for short-attention spans, and that's really the best and only way I can describe it. It's not for everybody, that's for sure.

Heaven & Hell – Live at Radio City Music Hall (CD and DVD): I think it's pretty cool that the band opted to not carry the Black Sabbath moniker for their tour in support of the material they recorded as Black Sabbath in the early 80s, then again in the early 90s, and once again this year for The Dio Years Sabbath compilation. The CDs are what you'd expect – the 15 tracks from the show – and the DVD adds about 35 minutes of extras in the form of a short overview of Radio City Music Hall, a short featuring the fans waiting in line for the show, another about the band itself, and a 20-minute documentary about the tour itself.

Liars: After 2006's bizarre Drum's Not Dead, it was anyone's guess where this band would go. Apparently, they decided to take on relatively straight-ahead pop/rock, but filter it through their own weirdness. I'm anxiously optimistic that this is as charmingly weird as the previous album, but other than that, it's probably best to go in with absolutely no expectations – there's really no telling what this thing will be like until it's in our ears.

Queensryche – Sign of the Times: A best-of is really nothing to get excited about; they already have one of those, and this one even looks very similar in design. Basically, this sums up the band's career from first album The Warning through Hear in the Now Frontier along with one track from Mindcrime II. There's a "deluxe edition," of course, to tempt fans into a purchase, and it includes a a few demos from vocalist Geoff Tate's early band, Myth, a few more early, unreleased Queensryche demos, and the completely unnecessary inclusion of a number of the bonus tracks culled from the remastered reissues from a few years back. Seriously, fans don't need these as they've already got them! The one big temptation here for fans is "Justified," a "new" track that features former guitarist/songwriter Chris DeGarmo. It's being trumpeted as a new collaboration, but it really is reportedly just a mostly-finished track that, I'm guessing here, is from the Tribe sessions. I like Tribe a lot, and I know I'm one of the few, but I'm not sure that's enough to drive me to pick this up. Maybe if the package is real pretty or something.

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About Tom Johnson

  • http://www.grayflannelsuit.net Chris

    Iommi and co. are only calling the band Heaven and Hell because of a prior agreement with Ozzy. They’d be using the Sabbath name if they could.

  • http://www.lookoutforhope.com Tom Johnson

    It doesn’t really matter, but that’s not what I had read – they chose to go out with this name so as not to step on the toes of what they consider a functioning band, nor confuse ticket buyers expecting an Ozzy-fronted band.

  • Brett

    Iommi owns the name ‘Black Sabbath’ and has for years, well before the reunion shows in ’97, so they could’ve gone out under that name if they’d wanted to. This way they didn’t have to do ‘Paranoid’ or ‘Iron Man’ for the millionth time – they got to do music they hadn’t done in ages, and some songs that they’d never played live before.I saw them on this tour and it was great to hear some rarities and NEW MUSIC by Sabbath, which we may never get from the Ozzy-fronted line-up.