Album Review: Kiss – Monster (2012 180g LP)

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I wanted to do a Halloween album review. Decisions, decisions. Makeup (check). Monster (check). Songs about Hell and The Devil (check). This album was a no brainer. I bought it a while back for a steal and had kept it sealed until tonight. Tonight just seemed to be the right time.

Hell Or Hallelujah – The first thing I hear is some very Phil Collen like guitar work. Early on this could have been off of High N Dry. Then there are some weird drum sounds. To me it sounds like Eric Singer was told by the record execs he had a deadline to record the drums, and he could only borrow a Hello Kitty drum set.

Wall Of Sound – Not exactly Phil Spector, but I’m  sure the Kiss crew have done some wrecking in their day. The song itself is pretty wicked and the guitar work here is ace. The drumming is wayyy better than the previous song. Goodbye Kitty as it were.

Freak – Very early 80’s Kiss sounds. This one could have slid nicely on Lick It Up or even possibly Creatures Of The Night. In other words, it’s pretty damn awesome.

Back To The Stone Age – It sounds very Kiss does Danko Jones. Both bands love sex, drugs and rock n roll, so why not.

Shout Mercy – The guitar work has a bit of an Offspring edge, with some added Zeppelinesque, the vocals are amazing, the drums pound and the bass booms. What more could we ask for?

Long Way Down – More Zeppelin like instrumentation mold this song, but Tommy Thayer adds just enough of his own spices to set this one apart. One of the better Kiss guitar efforts in my humble opinion. Although Gene and Eric should be given props here too. One of the stronger efforts on this album. Really good.

I wanted to listen to that side again, but the little mafks will be here soon bugging me for candy, so I have to flip it over while pretending I am a wayward son and carry on.

Eat Your Heart Out – The vocal harmonies here come across as a Barbershop Quartet audition for American Idol. Really bad. The song itself improves with the instrumentation. It turns into a pretty decent rocker, but it does drag on a little long. That beginning though. Losing the stupid beginning and trimming the length a bit would have done wonders

The Devil Is Me – This song is very late 80’s-90’s era Ozzy. Almost Mr. Tinkertrain like. Mixing Kiss and Ozzyisms can only result in a wicked song.

Outta This World – Mixing early 80’s Kiss with the uniqueness of Tommy Thayer vocals. A great mix in other words.

All For The Love Of Rock & Roll – More like all for the love of “New” Country. This one does not resonate with me at all. Sorry Eric but you sound like you should wash off the makeup and put on a pair of shitkickers and a ten gallon hat. Very early 90’s country rock. Henry Lee Summer at best. Billy Ray Cyrus at worst. You’re achy breakin’ my heart with this one.

Take Me Down Below – I can only assume that this song is about going down below the deck of a ship. Thankfully there is no mention of scrubbing the poop deck.

Last Chance – Just the mention of the words original sin reminds me of INXS. Michael Hutchence was truly a larger than life character. Sorry. I went of on a tangent there. Ok. Kiss. Yeah. This really is a great song. Even as my fleeting thoughts distracted me, my ears were soaking in all of the goodness.

If you like the early 80’s era Kiss and feel that sound would blend well with a little Zeppelin, a bit of Ozzy,  some early Def Lep and some down ‘n’ dirty Danko Jones. This album is pretty damn fine. I’m sure I will step on some Kiss fan toes here. On one side, I like it even without all of the original band members. On the other side, I’m criticizing parts of it even though many felt it was a perfect album. It wasn’t perfect, but was mostly really good. Maybe with Kiss you just have to go with your gut and let the chips fall where they may.

Happy Halloween everyone.

8.25/10

 

Album Review: The Hu – Gereg (2019 LP)

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I heard an interesting conversation recently. “What band is playing tonight?” a passerby asked the bouncer. “The Hu” he responded. “WHATTTT??? THE WHO!!!!! NO WAY” she exclaimed. “Not that Who. It’s spelled H-U.”

The Hu isn’t trying to fool classic rock fans by having a similar name to the great British band. The band name is a Mongolian root word for human being. Everything about this band reeks of tradition. If not from the 1960’s classic rock roots then perhaps the 1260’s Mongol Empire. Traditional Mongolian instruments such as Morin Khuur (horsehead fiddle), Tovshuur (Mongolian guitar), Tumur Khuur (jaw harp) are mixed with guttural throat singing to form the majority of the music. The band however throws in more modern instruments such as bass and drums to kick it up a notch. They call their music “Hunnu Rock(s)” (Hopefully they stay as far away as they can from Vince Neil).

I am borrowing the following track by track guide(in quotes) for this album from an article in Louder. My comments follow the quotes.

The Gereg – “The Gereg was the first diplomatic passport introduced to the world, by our ancestors. In the 13th century a person who had the Gereg could travel through many countries without any harm and restrictions. We named our album The Gereg so that we can travel to every country in the world freely and share our music with everyone. Our album is our passport to the world.” The pounding drums that begin this one off let you know this will not be another traditional music album. Right away the vocals remind me of Du Hast by Rammstein. The German language can sometimes be perceived by English speaking folks as sounding angry or aggressive even when it is not meant to be that way. That theme continues  throughout much of this album. I don’t understand a word of what they’re saying, but I love it. Thankfully the band was allowed to obtain a Gereg and share their music with us.

Wolf Totem – “We believe that everyone has a warrior in them. Through Wolf Totem we wanted to wake up those inner warrior in each of us so that you can face your fears and overcome them. This song is about facing and accepting the adversaries and coming out as a winner.” The mix of traditional fiddle sounds, the unique guitar tone, the booming bass and pounding drums mix with gutteral noises and driving chants to make an absolute killer of a song. So good!!!!

The Great Chinggis Khan – “We wanted to tell the world our side of the story. He brought to the world so many good things such as postal service, diplomatic passport, international trading and etc. It was filmed at Burkhan Khalduun, the birthplace of Chinggis Khaan, in February of this year in minus 30°C degree weather. The cinematic video shares the story of Chinggis Khaan as he is portrayed in Mongolian culture as an inventor and a founding father of the country rather than the worldly view of him as a warrior and conqueror.” The vocals on this one have an almost angry, forboding tone that do seem to actually be more warrior like than postal service like though.

The Legend of Mother Swan – “This is a tale of the power of a mother’s love for their offspring. In Mongolian culture we deeply respect our mothers because they are the reason we’re here on earth. This song tells a story how a mother swan protects and saves her babies by sacrificing her own life. We felt like this message should be shared with everyone in this modern world.” The vocal harmonies are beautiful and the pounding drums pound.

Shoog Shoog – “Shoog shoog is the calling of the Tengri [Mongol gods], when the shamans connect to ancestral spirits. This song is praising our sacred landmarks and offering our fate and bounty to the hands of the Tengri. With the upbeat tempo we’d like to inspire our listeners to get energised.” This one begins off with a chant not unlike if you substitute the “oi” in TNT with “shoog”.  Any song that reminds me of AC/DC is ace in my book. The vocal sort of morph off into an almost Rob Halford like sound. AC/DC, Judas Priest with a little Rammstein.  Sign me up. I can only imagine that the Tengri would be very pleased with this wonderful sounding song.

The Same – “The lyrics of the song came from a poem written by Tsogt Taij, which was carved on a rock known as “Tsogtyn Khadnii Bichig” (Rock Inscription of Tsogt The Prince) in 1624. The message of the song is that the truth is the same everywhere. You could be the king in heaven or a king on earth but your judgement on good and evil is still the same.” Sabbath-like scary howling wind noises begin this one off. The jaw harp sounds (which originated from the lower class) would place this song in the popular Mongolian hillbilly heavy metal genre that is thrown about all too often these days.

Yuve Yuve Yu – “This song is about respecting our elders and protecting nature. We are asking our generation: ‘why are we like this?’. We travelled over five thousand kilometres in 14 days to Western Mongolia off roads to make the music video. There were times we were freezing on top of a high mountains or sweating in the desert. We wanted to show the world the beautiful nature of Mongolia.” Tapping my feet while chanting “yuve yuve yu…” over and over. A really fun song.

Shireg Shireg – “This is a farewell song for the warriors from their parents. Back in the days when Mongol warriors went to war, their parents would share their wisdom with them and wish for a safe return. When you listen to the song, you’ll hear in the distance the sound of a horse trotting, as the soldiers used to leave their homes for war with their horses. This particular song contains the message about a warrior with a Gereg who travels the world and delivers the words of the Great Khaan to all.” I hope the parents of these incredible lads inspired them to write this song. The use of wood winds set this song apart.

The Song Of Women – “In our culture, respecting women is one of the most important things. They should be respected and loved everywhere in the world. Every woman is beautiful in her own way. We wanted to praise the women through this song and encourage them to be free and to pursue their dreams.” Wonderful words indeed. This is a mellow album closer that inspires both in sound and meaning.

These guys seem like really cool dudes. Someday I would love to sit around a fire listening to them play some tunes, eating sea-buckthorns, drinking Arkhi out of some old wineskin and wondering how we’ll be able to snap a good photo of that snow leopard from the album cover(and beautiful 4th side etching). For now though I can put this album on numerous times while perhaps doing some research on Mongolia. On a side note, Howie Weinberg did an amazing job mastering this album. This pressing sounds beautiful. The production and sound quality are wonderful. Really well done for a band from wayyyy out in left field. If you like Rammstein, AC/DC, Rob Halford and tradition, you will love this album. If you don’t, you will love this album.

9.9/10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review : The Cars – Greatest Hits Volume 2

After hearing the sad news that Ric Ocasek had passed away I wanted to do an album review as a tribute. The only thing is how to properly convey his music. I figured an album by The Cars would be the best since being the leader of that band was how most people remembered him. The self titled album would have been an incredible one to review since it is practically a greatest hits comp from cover to cover. Heartbeat City would have been a great one as well since most people love it. I however am not a fan of Drive, and felt this album was a just a little too soft for my liking. In 1985 The Cars released a single vinyl comp called Greatest Hits. It had 12 songs and I loved 10 of them. This was a great comp but to me it left off probably a dozen or more songs that could have been included. Therefore I am pretending that the band released this comp, mostly because I hope some of you check out their back catalogue.

You’re All I Got Tonight – I can’t imagine having the nuts to tell this to a woman. Awesome song but I bet a few dummies got a smack down back in the day.

Bye Bye Love – The simple guitar riffs, wonderful keys, vocal mixing of dead pan lyrics and cool harmonies make for one wicked tune.

Moving In Stereo – Easily my favourite song by the band. It just drips cool and the visual of Phoebe Cates getting out of the pool in Fast Times At Ridgemont High just seals the deal. Doesn`t anyone knock indeed (The song is also used in Stranger Things Season 3, but this pool scene just isn`t the same).

All Mixed Up – The guitar work is brilliant, the keys are sublime and the vocal harmonies are amazing.

It`s All I Can Do – The keys have an Emerson, Lake & Palmer feel to it. Sort of a New Wave version of Lucky Man.

Candy O – This song from the album of the same title (which Alberto Vargas came out of retirement to draw the album cover) may have been named for Candy Moore who was the model that inspired the album art. I am not sure, but I know it rocks.

The Dangerous Type – It has sort of Tom Petty meets Talking Heads feel to it.

Down Boys – Panorama may have been The Cars least appreciated albums, but this song and the next sound pretty  good to me.

Running To You – Like the band itself, this song is impossible to tie into one musical genre. Some garage rock, some rockabilly, some new wave, some hard rock guitar.

Cruiser – The guitar  tone has a Kiss feel to it. The band really knew how to shake it up.

Maybe Baby – The wicked drumming and guitar work may just have been the hardest stuff the band put out.

Hello Again – The keys in this one are very much like early Bon Jovi. I just wish I had used this on my answering machine back in the day.

Too bad the band never saw fit to release this album. I would have bought it for sure. RIP Rik. You will be missed.

10/10

 

Album Review: Eddie Money – Life For The Taking (1978 LP)

We got the sad news yesterday that Eddie Money had passed away from cancer. FYC. I figured the best way to honour his memory would be to review an album. While his self titled 1st album and his 1986 come-back album Can’t Hold Back would be the 2 he was most remembered for, I chose to review a lesser known outing. This album features the same musicians that did most of the work on the self titled 1st release. Garry Mallaber and Lonnie Turner (the drummer and bassist from The Steve Miller Band), Randy Nichols (played on Summertime Girls by Y & T among many others) on keys, and relative newcomer Jimmy Lyon on guitar.

Life For The Taking – Right off the bat the listener realizes this isn’t a power pop song that Eddie was best known for. This was a late 70’s hard rocker that feels more like Bad Company than pop hit machine. The musicianship on this one soars, especially the wicked guitar work.

Can’t keep a Good Man Down – This blaster could easily have been on a Whitesnake or Bad Company song. If you fellow rockers thought Two Tickets To Paradise and Take Me Home Tonight were all that Eddie had to give, you need to go back and listen to this one.

Nightmare – This has a 70’s Southern Rock feel that could have helped resurrect the career of Skynyrd or The Allman Brothers careers had they wrote it.

Gimme Some Water – I was always taught that gimme, gimme never gets. That expression is wrong because this listener got a  wicked song jammed into his ear holes. It has a story behind it that involves a young lad about to be hung for shooting another. The theme is not unlike a Johnny Cash or Kenny Rogers song. One of those songs that you can see the character inside your head as you listen. Very cool.

Rock And Roll The Place – The best part about this upbeat rocker is the amazing guitar work.

That is one stellar side of music. If this keeps up it may even push this album into a perfect score. I flip the album over and get ready for side 2.

Maybe I’m A Fool – As the needle drops my first thoughts are “WHAT IN THE ACTUAL F?” My guess is the record label wanted to try and cash in on the disco craze that was still huge in 1978. This has elements of disco, r&b, jazzy horns and a whole lot of selling out to the man. So much for a perfect score.

Love The Way You Love Me – Billy Joel was also huge in 1978, so the record execs probably figured they could cash in on a Billy Joel-ish song. It’s actually a pretty good song, but the songs on side A are more my style. Kudos to the guitar and piano work here. Billy would have had a hit on his hands with this one, not that he needed it.

Maureen – Horns, hand clapping and harmonica dominate this one. If you have a weird obsession for the letter H, this might be the song for you. I, however do not, and this isn’t really the song for me. I can only imagine Foreigner used this song as a basis for their song Luanne, although the Foreigner song is much better in my eyes.

Nobody – The horns on this one are more my style. A slower, bluesy track. Sort of in the same vein as a Blues Brothers number. This song brings side B back up a few notches. The vocal harmonies are pretty cool, as is the sax solo. The guitar work was more subtle on this one, but still really good.

Call On Me – A really great song. I have a huge issue with the lyrics though. “I’ve had women yes I have. I’ve had ladies, and I’ve had, had little girls with nails like lace. Had nails just like digging in, digging in. And somehow feeling good….” I had to lift the needle and play that part again because I thought I misheard it. Nope. Anyway, the guitar work here is absolutely sublime. Jimmy’s tone is so wonderful that it makes up for the lyrics that for some reason seemed ok 40 some years ago.

I suggest if you are a fan of Southern Rock, Billy Joel, Whitesnake and especially Paul Rodgers that you give this album a shot. You won’t be disappointed, and it may give you a different perspective on Eddie Money. I know it did for me. R.I.P Eddie. You will be missed.

8.25/10

 

 

 

 

Lee Iacocca Top 5

I just heard the sad news that Lee Iacocca passed away. If you’re not a car nut then you may not know who Lee is. The most famous things he did was bring the world the Ford Mustang and later saved Chrysler Corporation from bankruptcy by making the K Car (in all of it’s many forms), the minivan, and by buying Jeep. He was a great visionary and will be missed.

5

4

3

2

1

75th Anniversary of D-Day

Today marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day. In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944 the largest seaborne invasion in history began. Nearly 5000 landing craft carrying over 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel and landed in Normandy France. Allied casualties were over 10,000 men compared to 1,000 axis men. I am not a war monger, but I do have a great deal of respect and gratitude for the men that fought in this battle. I can’t imagine what it was like to step off a landing craft and straight into hell on earth. The reason we have the freedom to write/read blogs today is in part because of the men that fought for democracy.

Leon Redbone(R.I.P) Top 5

I just found out that Leon Redbone died today. He was a very enigmatic man who was usually seen with a Panama hat and dark shades. He was often aloof and never gave his real age or any background information. A humorous statement on his website claimed he was 127 years old. He didn’t really have many hits, but he had a cult following that included a number of other performers. He had a Canadian connection since he moved to Toronto in the 1960’s and played the nightclubs.

 

5 Frosty The Snowman (with Dr. John)

4 Diddy Wa Diddy

3 Ain’t Misbehaving

2 Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)

1 Seduced

Last but not least a video with Leon, Bryan Cranston, Ed McMahon and Alf.

R.I.P. Leon.