Album Review: Public Enemy – He Got Game OST (1998 CD)

By 1998 Public Enemy was a bit of an afterthought. Their last album, 1994’s Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age left many critics and listeners feeling P.E. was out of touch old guys criticizing the ultra popular gangsta rap. Their label, Def Jam had been pushing them to the back shelf for years and He Got Game was their last Def Jam output. Def Jam’s loss as far as I’m concerned.

Resurrection – Chuck D kicks ass on this one. He is back to his late 80’s era and with wicked clock movements from Flavor Flav and some guest vocals by Master Killa from Wu-Tang this one starts the album off with a bang.

He Got Game – The background riff to the title song is lifted from one of the best songs from the 1960’s, For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield. Not only did they borrow the riff, they convinced an aging Stephen Stills to sing along on this one. The wonderful gospel voices of the Shabach Community Choir of Long Island help elevate this song to the heavens.

Unstoppable – This one starts off with guest KRS-One and is finished off by another wicked Chuck D performance. “Unstoppable. Public Enemy on a disc….You don’t wanna take the risk. Unstoppable…”

Shake Your Booty – A fun little ditty featuring Flavor Flav and female R&B group 4KaST. “Flavor Flav shake yo’ booty. Get rich, do your dance, it’s your duty..”

Is Your God A Dog – This tribute to the fallen rappers Tupac Sakur and Notorious B.I.G. slams the police and corporations that take advantage of young black men and pit them against each other to sell records.

House Of The Rising Son – The song starts off and continues with an interpolation of the keys from Won’t Get Fooled by The Who. It’s subtle though and fits in nicely. It’s overpowered by booming drums and snarling Chuck D and Professor Griff vocals.

Revelations 33 1/3 Revolutions – This one features guests LuQuantum Leap, Supernatural, Minnesota and some cool 60’s era Black Panther like vocals by Serenity. Any song that references a turntable speed is ok by me.

Game Face – Some James Bond theme background with some sweet Chuck D vocals and some Smoothe Da Hustler rapping added in for good measure.

Politics Of The Sneaker Pimps – The song starts off with a quote from Richard Williams. “Venus is the best thing to happen to the sport since the tennis shoe.” I was listening to this album in my car just before the most recent lockdown. I had just left the theatre after watching Will Smith portraying Richard Williams in the movie King Richard. Great movie. It was freaky since this song came on just as I started the car. “They’ll make me do things on the court to amaze ya. Heard they make ’em for a Buck 8 in Asia..”

What You Need Is Jesus – Not a spiritual song per se. Jesus the name of the main character in the movie so this song references him. However it does have a gospel feel with some sweet guitar licks, some scratch dj and Chuck D awesomeness.

Super Agent – Not a spy reference. This one is about the sports agents representing young black athletes. Comparing the agents to slave owners and the NBA Draft to auctions that sold slaves. Pretty heavy stuff but the song gets it’s message across with some awesome sounds.

Go Cat Go – David Bowie’s Tin Machine guitarist Reeves Gabrels adds some rock flavour to this one. The Emax, scratches and programming are cool but Flav and Chuck D are the stars here.

Sudden Death (Interlude) – Professor Griff does a good job on the vocals here, along with his cohort Kerwin Young. A decent song to end the song off. Maybe just a shade lower than the rest of the songs on the album though.

Now I just need to watch the movie. It has to be good if Denzel Washington is in it, Right?

9/10

Album Review: Ted Nugent – Free-For-All (1976 Canadian LP)

We all heard the awful news this week that Meatloaf had died. Supposedly he felt that even though he had asthma, he didn’t want to be vaccinated or wear a mask. I don’t want to make this post a political rant so even though I disagree with Meatloaf’s stance and pretty much everything Ted Nugent says or does, I will say they both make great music.

During the recording for this album Derek St. Holmes had recorded vocals for 3 of the songs but disagreed in the direction of the recording. He walked out and left the band holding the bag. Producer Tom Werman suggested Meatloaf to be his replacement. Meatloaf was most famously known at that point as a musical theater actor with chops. Many felt his style was not suited for this album, however Ted knew Meatloaf from his earlier days of opening for The Amboy Dukes shows with his band Stoney & Meatloaf. Meatloaf was only given 2 days (with no musical accompaniment or arrangement) and $1000 to record the vocals for 5 of the songs. This tight schedule suited him fine since he was already 2 years into the recording of his soon to be released debut album Bat Out Of Hell. You will soon find out if Meatloaf was up to the task.

Free-For-All – This is the only song on the album sung by Ted Nugent. It’s a pretty sweet tune in an Aerosmith vein. This combination of 3 vocalists on the album gives listeners an amazing mix of greatness.

Dog Eat Dog – The mix of amazing guitars, thumping bass, pounding drums, banshee screaming and cool Derek St. Holmes vocals propel the status of this song up with the top shelf liquor.

Writing On The Wall – The first Meatloaf song is a wicked tune that would easily have fit onto Bat Out Of Hell, except with better guitar work, and a harder edged rockin’ slab o’ Meatloaf.

Turn It Up – I will do that in tribute to Meatloaf

Street Rats – The 2nd Meatloaf song has some Stranglehold-like drumming and Meatloaf playing a more straight edged rocker than his theatrical background would suggest.

Together – A bit softer, but with wicked guitar wails and just simply amazing vocal prowess from our man Meatloaf. A really great song that could run note for note with any of the Bat Out Of Hell songs.

Light My Way – Derek St. Holmes returns for the last time on this album and does a great job in this faster paced rocker that has an early Rod Stewart meets Aerosmith feel.

Hammerdown – Meatloaf reads the title and mashes the throttle right to the floor on this one.

I Love You So I Told You A Lie – Kind of like me telling my wife I didn’t buy any new music. Or by telling you that Meatloaf doesn’t completely rule.

R.I.P. Meatloaf. Your music will be missed.

9.5/10

Album Review: Budgie – Never Turn Your Back On A Friend (1973, 2014 180gr repress)

This week we heard the sad news that Burke Shelley, the bassist/vocalist of Budgie had passed away. Ever since I got a bunch of signed Budgie vinyl albums from my local record store (Encore Records in Kitchener, Ontario) I had planned on reviewing a Budgie album. I’ve mentioned Budgie before in this blog when I reviewed the Metallica Garage Inc. but I’ve never reviewed a Budgie album before. Well now it is finally time to rectify that.

Breadfan – Many of you know this song from the Metallica cover, but you would be missing a ton if you never check out the original. Burke does his best teenage Geddy Lee impression, Tony Bourge shreds like his life depends on it and Ray Phillips pounds the shit out of what looks like a kids beginner drum set, while looking like a young Brank Bjork.

Baby Please Don’t Go – If Big Joe Williams had huffed in a healthy dose of helium and was backed by a wicked 70’s hard rock band that had been transported back to 1935, this would be the result.

You Know I’ll Always Love You – You Know we’ll always love you Burke. R.I.P.

You’re The Greatest Thing Since Powdered Milk – These guys were probably a hoot to hang around with. They always had to have at least one song title that made you either laugh or think wtf. The drum work here is ace. The midsection of this song is wicked to hear the sweet instrumentation of a band that is at the top of their game. The vocal section sung by Tony Bourge is a sweet addition as well. A nice, deeper contrast to Burke’s high pitched wail.

In The Grip Of A Tyre Fitter’s Hand – It has a sort of Faces meets early 70’s hard rock/metal feel to it. The best Britain had to offer at the time, even if they couldn’t spell tire 😉 .

Riding My Nightmare – This acoustic song fits perfectly into the 70’s. If A Foot In Coldwater and some of the Jackson 5 had done a duet, this might have been the result. Weird but great.

Parents – This is a one epic album closer. A heavy, proggy song that has not only squawking seagulls but wicked musicianship. It’s real long, and I like it (cue Aaron).

Thanks for the wicked tunes Burke Shelley. You will be missed.

9.9/10