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Whitesnake – Live in ’84: Back to the Bone [Review]

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Whitesnake – Live in ’84: Back to the Bone
2014, Frontiers Records

Snakeskin Boots: The Best of the Bootlegs
1. Gambler
2. Guilty of Love
3. Love Ain’t No Stranger
4. Slow An’ Easy
5. Walking in the Shadow of the Blues
6. Ready An’ Willing
7. Guitar Solo
8. Crying in the Rain
9. Soldier of Fortune
Super-Rock Japan ’84
10. Love Ain’t No Stranger
11. Ready An’ Willing
12. Slow An’ Easy
Jon Lord’s Final Whitesnake Performance (Medley)
13. Gambler / Guilty of Love / Love Ain’t No Stranger / Ready An’ Willing

Band:
David Coverdale – Vocals
John Sykes – Guitar
Mel Galley – Guitar (Track #13)
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Jon Lord – Keyboards (Track #13)

Additional Musicians:
Richard Bailey – Keyboards (Tracks #1-12)

Producer: David Coverdale & Michael McIntyre

OH MY GOD. This is the fourth live Whitesnake album in three years. ENOUGH. I love this band, but ENOUGH. Just put out the new studio album already! Truth be told, Live in ’84 was released as a DVD/CD combo package but all I have to go buy is the digital version of the CD. The DVD features more performances than the audio version.

I’m not really sure what’s going on with this release anyway. Did we really need two live versions of “Guilty of Love”, “Slow an’ Easy”and “Gambler” along with THREE live versions of “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and “Ready an’ Willing”? I don’t get it. And there’s not much information about these tracks or this album in general other than they are bootlegs from 1984 that have been cleaned up by David Coverdale & Michael McIntyre.

From what I’ve pieced together by researching online, tracks 1-9 are random bootlegs (presumably the best) that Coverdale was able to track down from various dates of Whitesnake’s 1984 Slide It In world tour. Tracks 10-12 are from August of 1984 at a festival called Super-Rock, which was held in Japan. Bon Jovi, Scorpions, The Michael Schenker Group and Anvil also played at the festival. Tracks 1-12 feature the band as the four-piece of Coverdale, Sykes, Murray and Powell. Guitarist Mel Galley had broken his arm and sat out the rest of the tour while Jon Lord had already left the band. Richard Bailey toured with the band as keyboardist and played off-stage.

Finally, there’s track 13, which is a medley that features Jon Lord’s final performance in the band before rejoining Deep Purple.

This live version of “Crying in the Rain” is particularly notable. Despite the professional bootleg quality, it’s a much stronger sounding song than the studio version. Look, all of the music here is good. Live Whitesnake is always good. I just question their rapid-fire delivery of live albums and the repeating of songs on this DVD/CD. Seems like something more appropriate for a box set. Had the track list varied, I’d look more favorably upon Live in ’84. This is a decent album but I recommend it only to die-hards.

Highlights: “Guilty of Love”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Slow An’ Easy”, “Crying in the Rain”

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Underrated: Five Whitesnake Songs

With Whitesnake’s last two live albums getting released so closely together (read my reviews here and here), I’ve had the band on my mind a bit lately. I got to thinking about some of my favorite Whitesnake songs that never achieved the commercial status or set-list staying power of classics like “Here I Go Again”, “Still of the Night”, “Is This Love”, “Slide It In”, “Don’t Break My Heart Again”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Slow an’ Easy”, “Slip of the Tongue”, “Fool For Your Loving”, “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” or “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”.

In no particular order, here’s five Whitesnake songs that I think are pretty swell, yet underrated by the world at large:

Spit It Out
Album: Slide It In (1984)

Spit it out and slide it in! In general, I feel like the Slide It In album is underrated. I say this even though the album was the band’s first taste of success in the U.S. (over 2 million copies sold!) and “Slow an’ Easy”, “Love Ain’t No Stranger” and “Slide It In” are in the set-list rotation to this day fairly regularly. Still, the album seems forgotten whenever Whitesnake is discussed. People like to either focus on the 1987 self-titled mega-hit album or on how much of a polished dud the follow-up (Slip of the Tongue) was.

Okay, there’s probably a very good reason that “Spit It Out” is ignored by fans and the band alike in this day and age. It’s Whitesnake at their hair metal best/worst (depending on your point of view) and it’s a song about, well… it’s pretty easy to figure out. The lyrics are immature, sexist, raunchy, cheesy and done in poor taste. But, it’s still a fun song.

Restless Heart
Album: Restless Heart (1997)

Although the Restless Heart album was intended to be a solo album for David Coverdale, the label intervened and insisted that the Whitesnake name be used. It’s really not that big of a deal because Coverdale is Whitesnake (plus, Adrian Vandenberg played on this album). Also, this album has never been released in the U.S. so it’s no wonder it hasn’t received much recognition! The song “Restless Heart” is my favorite from the album and I think it would be great if the ‘snakes dusted this one off for a live setting.

Dancing Girls
Album: Saints & Sinners (1982)

If only the band was able to break in the United States sooner… maybe this one could’ve become a strip club anthem right alongside “Girls, Girls, Girls”, “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, “Cherry Pie” and “Hot for Teacher”!

Love Hunter
Album: Lovehunter (1979)

To be fair, this one turned up on the band’s first live album. But that was in their earlier days and as the band went on their quest for commercial success, I think this song  (along with most of their early material) fell by the wayside. “Love Hunter” is yet another song I can imagine going down quite well in a live setting in this day and age and with the current line-up of the band.

If You Want Me
Album: Live: In the Shadow of the Blues (2006)

This song is not so old and I had a tough time deciding between this song and “Ready to Rock” from the this album. I think “If You Want Me” best represents the band’s past and present and definitely shows where the band was heading later on with the Good to Be Bad and Forevermore albums. The song was one of four new studio songs added included on the second disc of the band’s third live album. Live: In the Shadows of the Blues is a great live album that came in a bit under the radar itself as it was the first Whitesnake release (not counting the usual money-grubbing compilations put out by the label) in about 8 years.

The reason I’m including “If You Want Me” on this list is because, to my knowledge, the band never played live. Or if they did, it must not have been for a very long time. I think this song, “Ready to Rock” and “Dog” are tracks that are very worthy of being performed live. The band uses Good to Be Bad and Forevermore material so much in their set-list, these songs would fit right in.

Whitesnake – Made In Britain / The World Record [Review]

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Whitesnake – Made In Britain / The World Record
2013, Frontiers Records

Disc 1: Made In Britain
1. Best Years
2. Give Me All Your Love Tonight
3. Love Ain’t No Stranger
4. Is This Love
5. Steal Your Heart Away
6. Forevermore
7. Love Will Set You Free
8. My Evil Ways
9. Fare Thee Well
10. Ain’t No Love In the Heart of the City
11. Fool for Your Loving
12. Here I Go Again
13. Still of the Night

Disc 2: The World Record
1. Bad Boys
2. Slide It In
3. Lay Down Your Love
4. Pistols at Dawn
5. Snake Dance
6. Can You Heart the Wind Blow
7. Fare Thee Well
8. One of These Days
9. The Badger
10. Deeper the Love
11. Soldier of Fortune
12. Burn / Stormbringer

Band:
David Coverdale – Lead Vocals
Doug Aldrich – Guitar
Reb Beach – Guitar
Michael Devin – Bass
Brian Tichy – Drums
Michael Ruedy – Keyboads

Produced by Michael McIntyre, Doug Aldrich and David Coverdale

Whitesnake returns with another double live album! Hmm… seems like I’ve done a similar review before. Oh, yeah. I did: here, here, and here! So this is the second live album that Whitesnake has released in a matter of months. Made In Japan kind of came about as an official release by accident but Made In Britain/The World Record was actually a planned release. Like Made In Japan it too documents the band’s Forevermore tour from 2011. The difference being that album featured performances from Japan and these recordings were done in England (the Made In Britain portion) and internationally (The World Record portion… Get it? It’s a world record.).

This another one of those album titles I’m confused about. The band’s official website lists it as Made In Britain and acknowledges it is a two-disc album. Frontiers Records’ website lists it as Made In Britain – The World Record. Most other music sites refer to it as Made In Britain/The World Record. And the album art above is the only one that’s floating around and you can obviously see it is plainly called Made In Britain.

What can I say that I didn’t already say during my Made In Japan review? Whitesnake is still going strong, putting out great records and great live shows and great live albums. It’s amazing how good the Forevermore material sounds alongside the classics. This is the band’s sixth live album (four of them released in the last 7 years alone!) and while you may not need this album, it stands are as a great representation of the Forevermore era. I would recommend it over Made In Japan.

Highlights: “Steal Your Heart Away”, “Forevermore”, “Love Will Set You Free”, “My Evil Ways”, “Fare Thee Well”, “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”, “Lay Down Your Love”, “One of These Days”

http://www.whitesnake.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Whitesnake.official

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Whitesnake – Made In Japan [Review]

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Whitesnake – Made In Japan
2013, Frontiers Records

Disc 1:
1. 
Best Years
2. Give Me All Your Love Tonight
3. Love Ain’t No Stranger
4. Is This Love
5. Steal Your Heart Away
6. Forevermore
7. Six String Showdown
8. Love Will Set You Free
9. Drum Solo
10. Fool For Your Loving
11. Here I Go Again
12. Still of the Night

Disc 2:
1. Love Will Set You Free
2. Steal Your Heart Away
3. Fare Thee Well [Acoustic Version]
4. One of These Days [Acoustic Version]
5. Lay Down Your Love
6. Evil Ways
7. Good To Be Bad [Acoustic Version]
8. Tell Me How [Acoustic Version]

Band:
David Coverdale – Vocals
Doug Aldrich – Guitar
Reb Beach – Guitar
Michael Devin – Bass
Brian Tichy – Drums
Brian Ruedy – Keyboards

Produced by: Michael McIntyre, David Coverdale & Doug Aldrich

Made In Japan is Whitesnake’s fifth live album. Now, you may say to yourself, “Didn’t they just release a live album a few years ago?” They did. The album you’re thinking of is Live at Donington 1990 but that was an archive release. A “blast from the past”, if you will. Made In Japan is much more current having been recorded in October 2011 at the Loud Park Festival in Saitama City, Japan.

The entire recording was originally meant to be aired only on TV in Japan but Coverdale, Doug Aldrich and Frontiers Records liked what they heard & saw so much, that they decided the show deserved a worldwide CD/DVD/Blu-ray release. You can buy this show in various formats but I’ll be referring to the 2 CD portion only for this review and not the DVD or Blu-ray footage.

Luckily, Coverdale has never been content to live in the past. Sure, it took him a long time to revive Whitesnake, but now that he has, the band has delivered two of their best studio albums to date (Good to Be Bad and Forevermore) in the last few years. So it’s no surprise that Disc 1 (the actual Loud Park performance) pulls a combined four tracks from those two albums. The remaining tracks on Disc 1 are the typical ’80s hits but it’s great that Coverdale does’t tour strictly with a “greatest hits” set list.

The modern Whitesnake songs are so good and sound so much more powerful than anything of old. And I really have to give credit to Doug Aldrich for helping to restore the band to greatness. Actually, the entire band is amazing and really made the mighty ‘snake powerful and muscular again (make your own jokes, please).

Disc 2 is a very good collection of songs the band played during various sound checks while on tour in Japan.

You really can’t go wrong with Whitesnake (live or in the studio), especially when it comes to this era of the band.

http://www.whitesnake.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Whitesnake.official

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes [Review]

Tom Keifer - The Way Life Goes

Tom Keifer – The Way Life Goes
2013, Merovee Records

1. “Solid Ground”
2. “A Different Light”
3. “It’s Not Enough”
4. “Cold Day In Hell”
5. “Thick And Thin”
6. “Ask Me Yesterday”
7. “Fools Paradise”
8. “The Flower Song”
9. “Mood Elevator”
10. “Welcome To My Mind”
11. “You Showed Me”
12. “Ain’t That A Bitch”
13. “The Way Life Goes”
14. “Babylon”

Musicians:
Tom Keifer – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Keyboard, Slide Guitar, Backing Vocals
Michael Rhodes – Bass
Greg Morrow – Drums, Percussion
Tony Harrell – Piano, B3, Wurlitzer, Clavinet

Producer: Tom Keifer, Savannah Keifer and Chuck Turner

The Way Life Goes is the first effort from Cinderella front-man Tom Keifer that has been in progress for the past 10 years or more (slowed down by Tom voice problems and occasional touring with Cinderella). Truthfully, you can’t really tell that this album is a collection of songs written & recorded over the last 10 years because Tom doesn’t play to trends with any of these songs. The album is a mix of what you’d expect from Tom Keifer: ballads, blues, country and rock. Even if there’s not as many uptempo or hard rockers as you would get with Cinderella, this album is not too far off from that band. If you told me this was the follow-up to 1994’s Still Climbing, I’d believe you and I’d be completely okay with that.

Tom’s voice is so recognizable, it’s really to imagine that these aren’t Cinderella songs. “The Flower Song” is my favorite ballad from the album and it sounds like something off of Heartbreak Station.”Solid Ground” is the hardest rocking song here (and great opener) where we get to hear Tom wail again and this could’ve easily found a place on Long Cold Winter. “It’s Not Enough” and “Cold Day in Hell” are also fantastic rockers. “Mood Elevator” is yet another rocker and there’s an appearance by another Cinderella member — guitarist Jeff LaBar lends a hand.

Meanwhile, “Ain’t That a Bitch” has a Tom Petty vibe and “The Way Life Goes” seems to have some ’80s Aerosmith moments with the sax and “Welcome to My Mind” is the darkest and most modern sounding song on the album. There’s also a few other songs on here that could probably make it to country radio with the right marketing. “Ask Me Yesterday” is the strongest example of this.

There is only one miscalculation on the record and that’s “A Different Light”. Looking at other reviews, I seem to be the only person that isn’t totally sold on this one. I just don’t care for the falsetto style that Tom is using here throughout the song or the poppy production of the song itself. That said, much like the rest of the album, this song has become stuck in my head at various points after listening to this album. It’s not a terrible song but it’s the weakest of the bunch and was kind of a head-scratcher for me when I first heard it.

Ultimately, I highly recommend this album to fans of Cinderella but keep in mind that The Way Life Goes is not a hard rock album through-and-through or a hair-metal throwback. The bluesy/country elements of Cinderella are here, but this is simply a rock album with a lot of soul.

Highlights: “Solid Ground”, “It’s Not Enough”, “Cold Day In Hell”, “Ask Me Yesterday”, “Fools Paradise”, “The Flower Song”, “Ain’t That a Bitch”, “Babylon”

www.tomkeifer.com
www.facebook.com/tomkeiferofficial

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Aerosmith – Music from Another Dimension! [Review]

Aerosmith – Music From Another Dimension!
(2012, Columbia Records)

1. “LUV XXX”
2. “Oh Yeah”
3. “Beautiful”
4. “Tell Me”
5. “Out Go the Lights”
6. “Legendary Child”
7. “What Could Have Been Love”
8. “Street Jesus”
9. “Can’t Stop Loving You”
10. “Lover Alot”
11. “We All Fall Down”
12. “Freedom Fighter”
13. “Closer”
14. “Something”
15. “Another Last Goodbye”
Bonus Tracks:
16. “Up On the Mountain”
17. “Oasis in the Night”
18. “Sunny Side of Love”

Band:
Steven Tyler – Lead vocals, Harmonica, Piano, Drums, Mandolin
Joe Perry – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Brad Whitford – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tom Hamilton – Bass, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Joey Kramer – Drums, Backing Vocals

Producer: Jack Douglas, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Marti Frederiksen

Music From Another Dimension! is a good “comeback” album but a bit misleading if you were paying attention to the press leading up to its release. The band said they were going back to their ’70s blues-hard rock roots with this release and that’s true. On some of the songs. There’s still a lot here that can be compared to their last two original studio releases: 1997’s Nine Lives and 2001’s Just Push Play. Regardless, the album sounds like Aerosmith. It’s just a matter of which era.

And yes, I do liken Music From Another Dimension! to a comeback album (even if it seems like the band never went away… at least in terms of news). It’s been 11 years since their last original studio album and the band has broken up/nearly broken up/threatened replacing Tyler/battled so many addictions in that amount of time this really was a case of “Do they still have the magic after all of that?”

A few songs are actually an amalgamation of… well, everything. “Out Got The Lights” sounds like a culmination of the band’s various eras. It’s no surprise. Aerosmith really does seem to be embracing their entire history on this release despite the lip service to longtime fans. Jack Douglas is back producing (well, co-producing), which is good but other frequent Aerosmith collaborators are here as well. Diane Warren (offering up a ballad, of course), Desmond Child, Jim Vallance and Marti Frederiksen all contribute to varying degrees. This is slightly disappointing because I’m pretty sure at one point either Steven or Joe said the album was going to be a stripped down affair ala KISS and there would be no outside collaborations. To be fair, 7 of the 15 tracks were written exclusively by members of the band (and they tend to be the better songs!).

Let’s go over a few tracks. “Legendary Child” was the album’s lead single and I loved this one as soon as I heard it. It has that old school Aerosmith swagger but doesn’t sound retro at all even though the lyrics are a nod to their past. “Street Jesus” is completely old-school Aerosmith. Written by Steven, Joe and Brad. This is great hard rockin’ Aerosmith. One of the best pure hard rock tunes they’ve written in a looooong time, sure to please old Aerosmith fans. “Lover Alot” is another fun rocker that I would already put up there as a classic Aerosmith song. “What Could Have Been Love” is a decent but typical Aerosmith ballad. It sound likes what you’d expect from them. I like it but it doesn’t compare to previous ballads the band has done. I’m actually surprised they released that as a single and didn’t run with Diane Warren’s “We All Fall Down” or the Carrie Underwood duet “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”. “Beautiful” is the most modern sounding rock song on the album. Could’ve been on Just Push Play. I like it but it’ll probably not become a favorite with the Aerosmith faithful. I would’ve run with this as a single or tried to get it onto a soundtrack.

Joe Perry of course gets a few tracks to shine on vocals. “Freedom Fighter” sounds like Neil Young and features Johnny Depp on backing vocals. “Something” is a slow-moving bluesy number that would’ve fit right at home on Honkin’ On Bobo. Perry also shared vocals with Tyler on “Oh Yeah” and takes lead on the bonus track “Oasis in the Night”.

I have a few minor complaints. The opener “LUV XXX” gives you the idea that this is going to be another Just Push Play or Nine Lives. It isn’t terrible but I certainly wouldn’t have started the album off with it. Luckily, the next track “Oh Yeah” offers up a much more typical Aerosmith style song. My other complaint: there’s too many ballads! “Tell Me”, “What Could’ve Been Love”, “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You”, “We All Fall Down”, “Closer”, “Another Last Goodbye”… Geez! There’s nothing wrong with these songs. There’s just too many of them! This is a rock band, right? Some of these songs should’ve been saved as bonus tracks for the various special editions. This is just too much to process. None of these ballads really get a chance to shine because two tracks later, here comes another one.

There are a total of 5 bonus tracks. Have fun buying all the editions to collect them all. At least you can buy the deluxe edition and get “Up on the Mountain”, “Oasis in the Night” and “Sunny Side of Love” on Disc 2. The remaining two bonus tracks are cover songs (The Temptations’ “Shakey Ground” and Mose Allison’s “I’m Not Talkin'”) and you’ll have to track down a Japanese edition to own both of those. Or settle for a Walmart edition where you can get “Shakey Ground” (which features ex-Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay). Luckily, all three bonus tracks from the deluxe edition are good.

I definitely think Aerosmith has succeeded and validated themselves. I think I would take Music From Another Dimension! over Nine Lives and Just Push Play any day. The band has done a great job bringing together the last 40 years of their music onto one album. It’s not what I was expecting. I was expecting a very old-school ’70s sounding album but let’s face it, Aerosmith is a mainstream brand and that’s not going to change now. Regardless, this is very good album and I’m happy to see despite all the band’s troubles that they could still come together and put out great music like this.

Highlights: “Beautiful”, “Out Go The Lights”, “Legendary Child”, “What Could Have Been Love”, “Street Jesus”, “Lover Alot”, “We All Fall Down”, “Freedom Fighter”, “Another Last Goodbye”, “Up On the Mountain”, “Oasis in the Night”, “Sunny Side of Love”

http://www.aerosmith.com/
http://www.facebook.com/aerosmith

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Great White – Elation (Album Review)

Great White – Elation
2012, Frontiers Records

1. (I’ve Got) Something For You … 4:31
2. Feelin’ So Much Better … 5:04
3. Love Train … 4:46
4. Heart Of A Man … 4:37
5. Hard To Say Goodbye … 5:19
6. Resolution … 5:18
7. Shotgun Willie’s … 5:07
8. Promise Land … 5:59
9. Lowdown … 5:56
10. Just For Tonight … 4:44
11. Love Is Enough … 6:05
12. Complicated … 4:16

Band:
Terry Ilous – Vocals
Mark Kendall – Guitar
Michael Lardie – Guitar, Keyboards
Scott Snyder – Bass
Audie Desbrow – Drums

Producer: Michael Lardie

There is one ingredient that’s missing from this album and it’s a very noticeable ingredient. Jack Russell, one of my favorite rock vocalists, is no longer a member of Great White. Well, he’s not a member of this particular version at least. Long story short, Russell now has a band called “Jack Russell’s Great White” while Great White has acquired the services of XYZ singer Terry Ilous.

It’s another L.A. Guns situation. We’ve got two bands using the same name, playing the same songs to the same niche audience and taking shots at each other in the press. Hopefully this won’t go on for too long because unlike the L.A. Guns situation, lawyers are involved and it would be nice for Russell and Great White to put this ugly incident behind them.

As far as I’m concerned this band that has just released Elation is the real Great White. I’d love and would prefer Jack back in the band, I have nothing against Russell, I’m actually looking forward to any new music his new group can put out but this is the deal real just like I think the Phil Lewis version of L.A. Guns is the only legit version of LAG. Time will tell which band is superior but I’ll be judging that based on new material only.

So, yeah, Russell is out, Ilous is in and the difference is quite noticeable. That’s nothing against Ilous though. Terry is a great singer and has done a fine job no matter what band he’s in. XYZ has some great tunes but I will admit it’s hard to accept Great White without hearing Jack Russell. There are times when he’s doing his best to sound like Russell but on other songs he comes across like Jeff Keith from Tesla. Ilous is good on Elation, he’s just no Jack Russell.

As for the music itself… It sounds like Great White to me. I know there were some complaints about Rising (which I liked a lot) being too laid back but I don’t think there should be too many complaints about Elation being soft. I felt Back to the Rhythm had some subtle modern moments but Elation gets back to basics with the band’s signature bluesy hard rock Led Zep-influenced sound. Yeah, there are some laid back moments, some slow burners, but that’s always been the Great White way. It’s not like they are playing acoustic rock.

In comparison to the last two albums, I place Elation slightly below Back to the Rhythm and on par with Rising, but this is coming from a guy who enjoyed both of those albums and doesn’t think Great White has ever released a bad record.

Sure, if Russell sang on this album it would’ve given Elation more impact but I think any Great White fan that truly listens to this album with an open mind will find it to be an enjoyable effort. Russell is so identifiable as the voice of Great White, I know having another singer in the band is a tough pill to swallow. This is not a classic, killer release but it is very good and it proves to me that the band is capable enough serve the Great White legacy well even without Jack Russell.

Highlights: “Feelin’ So Much Better”, “Love Train”, “Heart of A Man”, “Shotgun Willie’s”, “Promise Land”, “Love Is Enough”

http://www.greatwhiterocks.com
http://www.facebook.com/GreatWhiteOfficial

Buy the album at Amazon.com

The Metal Excess Awards: 2011 Edition

Last year I said 2010 was a better year for music than 2009 was. I went on to wonder how 2011 could even begin to top it. Well, guess what… 2011 did indeed top 2010! I’m looking back at my Top 25 list for 2010 and while those albums are all still good, this year’s Top 25 list is much stronger top to bottom.

2011 was a great year that saw classic rock/metal acts like Whitesnake, Warrant, Riot, Alice Cooper, Journey, Black N’ Blue and King Kobra deliver some of the best albums of their career while younger acts like Steel Panther, Reckless Love, Savage Messiah, Evile (who missed the list by this much) and Black Veil Brides have shown that they are more than capable of carrying rock & metal into the future.

Top 25 Albums of 2011

1. Whitesnake – Forevermore
2. Sixx:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt
3. Riot – Immortal Soul
4. Warrant – Rockaholic
5. Alice Cooper – Welcome 2 My Nightmare
6. Steel Panther – Balls Out
7. Megadeth – Thirteen
8. Anthrax – Worship Music
9. Sebastian Bach – Kicking & Screaming
10. Reckless Love – Animal Attraction
11. Edguy – Age of the Joker
12. Hurtsmile – s/t
13. Journey – Eclipse
14. Chickenfoot – III
15. Mike Tramp & The Rock ‘N’ Roll Circuz – Stand Your Ground
16. Black Country Communion – 2
17. The Poodles – Performocracy
18. House of Lords – Big Money
19. King Kobra – s/t
20. Saliva – Under Your Skin
21. Foo Fighters – Wasting Light
22. Black N’ Blue – Hell Yeah!
22. Savage Messiah – Plague of Conscience
24. George Lynch – Kill All Control
25. Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Best E.P./Single
In light of a few non-album singles being released this year, I’ve decided to make this a hybrid category.

1. Sixx:A.M. – 7
2. Black Veil Brides – Rebels
3. Who Cares – Out of My Mind / Holy Water
4. Wildstreet – II …Faster …Louder!
5. The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P.

Best Compilation/Cover/Live/Reissue Albums
Kind of a catch-all category this year. Instead of listing each category individually, I decided to lump them all into one list and rank them that way.

1. Black Sabbath – Born Again [Deluxe Edition]
2. Stryper – The Covering
3. Vains of Jenna – Reverse Tripped
4. Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990
5. Slash featuring Myles Kennedy – Live: Made In Stoke 24/7/11
6. Hell – Human Remains
7. Scorpions – Comeblack
8. Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More
9. Eric Carr – Unfinished Business
10. Black Sabbath – Dehumanizer [Deluxe Edition]

Want to read more about the year in music? Check out some of the fine sites & blogs listed below! And be sure to keep checking back for more Year-End posts here at Metal Excess!

All Metal Resource — http://allmetalresource.com/

Bring Back Glam — http://bringbackglam.squarespace.com/

The Crash Pad of Ray Van Horn, Jr. – http://www.rayvanhornjr2.blogspot.com/

Hair Metal Mansion — http://hairbangersradio.ning.com/

Hard Rock Hideout — http://hardrockhideout.com/

Hard Rock Nights — http://hardrocknights.com

Heavy Metal Addiction — http://heavymetaladdiction.com/

Heavy Metal Time Machine — http://metalmark.blogspot.com/

Imagine Echoes — http://www.imagineechoes.com/

Layla’s Classic Rock — http://laylasclassicrock.blogspot.com/

Metal Odyssey — http://metalodyssey.wordpress.com/

The Ripple Effect — http://www.ripplemusic.blogspot.com/

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Don’t Explain

Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Don’t Explain (2011, J&R Adventures)

1. Sinner’s Prayer … 4:27
2. Chocolate Jesus … 2:39
3. Your Heart Is as Black as Night … 5:00
4. For My Friends… 4:11
5. Don’t Explain … 4:34
6. I’d Rather Go Blind … 8:06
7. Something’s Got a Hold on Me … 6:05
8. I’ll Take Care of You … 5:13
9. Well, Well … 3:42
10. Ain’t No Way … 6:47

Musicians:
Beth Hart – Vocals, Piano
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar, Vocals
Blondie Chaplin – Guitar
Carmine Rojas – Bass
Anton Fig – Drums, Percussion
Arlan Scheirbaum – Keyboards

Producer: Kevin Shirley

Joey Bones has had quite a busy year! In 2011, not only did he released the excellent Dust Bowl solo album but there was also a second helping from super-group Black Country Communion with 2 and now he’s partnered up with Beth Hart for a collection of blues, soul and jazz covers.

Though there are a number of uptempo moments like “Chocolate Jesus”, “For My Friends” and “Well, Well”, it’s the slower numbers and tender moments that I found myself enjoying most. “Your Heart Is As Black As The Night”, “Don’t Explain”, “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “I’ll Take Care of You” are fantastic soulful and sultry jazz numbers with Beth Hart putting in a great performance on these songs. I know of Beth Hart but I’m not familiar with any of her work but it’s easy to say from this album alone that she’s a great vocalist who can handle either bluesy rockers or soulful ballads.

Then, of course, there’s Joe Bonamassa who is proving himself to be one of the greatest guitarists of his generation whether he’s playing blues or straight up hard rock. There’s a lot of great solos and emotional lead work on this disc.

An album such as this is not something I would normally try but with the October 2011 issue of Classic Rock giving it a good review (and knowing I enjoyed Joe’s Dust Bowl and BCC works), I decided to give it a shot. A collection of blues, soul and jazz is something I’d have to really be in the mood to listen to but on a cold, dreary Autumn afternoon, it fit my mood and I found myself enjoying it a lot.

Don’t Explain may not be the album of the year for me and outside of my usual brain-dead listening circle of rock & metal but I found it to be a good listen and fans of both Joe & Beth should check it out.

Highlights: “Your Heart Is as Black as Night”, “Don’t Explain”, “I’d Rather Go Blind”, “I’ll Take Care of You”, “Ain’t No Way”

http://hartandbonamassa.com
http://www.facebook.com/officialbethhart
http://www.facebook.com/JoeBonamassa

Amazon.com

Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl

Joe Bonamassa – Dust Bowl (2011, J&R Adventures)

1. “Slow Train” … 6:49
2. “Dust Bowl “… 4:33
3. “Tennessee Plates” … 4:18
4. “The Meaning of the Blues” … 5:44
5. “Black Lung Heartache” … 4:14
6. “You Better Watch Yourself” … 3:30
7. “The Last Matador of Bayonne” … 5:23
8. “Heartbreaker” … 5:49
9. “No Love on the Street” … 6:32
10. “The Whale That Swallowed Jonah” … 4:46
11. “Sweet Rowena” … 4:34
12. “Prisoner” … 6:48

Musicians:
Joe Bonamassa – Vocals, Guitar, Slide Guitar
Glenn Hughes – Vocals (“Heartbreaker”)
Beth Hart – Vocals (“No Love On The Street”)
John Hiatt – Vocals (“Tennessee Plates”)
Vince Gill – Guitar (“Tennessee Plates”, “Sweet Rowena”), Vocals (“Sweet Rowena”)
Blondie Chaplin – Guitar
Carmine Rojas, Michael Rhodes – Bass
Anton Fig, Chad Cromwell – Drums
Rick Melick – Organ, Synthesizer
Steve Nathan – Organ, Piano

Producer: Kevin Shirley

I have been curious about the “new” blues scene for quite some time. UK’s Classic Rock magazine often does features on new and old blues musicians so it got me interested and I figured I might as well start with the scene’s current modern marvel Joey Bones (or JoBo, if you prefer).

While I don’t know how this compares to Bonamassa’s previous efforts, Dust Bowl is all that a current blues-guitarist’s album should sound like. While it’s fairly standard for blues artists to cover old blues songs (only half the album features original material), I think I would get very bored if this album was just a repeat of songs from decades and decades ago. Luckily, Joe isn’t content to merely dig up the past.

Fans of Stevie Ray Vaughan will enjoy this album a lot as that is who I am reminded on songs like “Slow Train” and “You Better Watch Yourself”. Still, Joe’s own style shines through with “Dust Bowl” (my favorite track and the most accessible), the ballad “The Last Matador of Bayonne” (which sounds like it could’ve been on one of Black Country Communion’s albums), the excellent “Black Lung Heartache” (which start off sounding like bluegrass then turns into hard rock) and “The Whale That Swallowed Jonah”. Another high point on the album is “The Meaning of the Blues”. A lot of passion behind that song and it is the epitome of a great blues song, IMO.

Despite Joe being known primarily as a blues rock guitarist, country/folk music and classic rock have their places on this album. John Hiatt’s “Tennessee Plates”, Vince Gill’s “Sweet Rowena” and Free’s “Heartbreaker” are all covered. Hiatt and Gill both pitch in on their respective songs while “The Voice of Rock” Glenn Hughes lends his voice to “Heartbreaker” and again this is a song that could’ve ended up in BCC. Heck, Joe even covers Tim Curry’s “No Love On The Street” with Beth Hart lending vocals. I never even knew Cardinal Richelieu had an album… much less three! I always thought his musical experiences were tied only to the theater and Rocky Horror Picture Show.

In the liner notes (where he comes across as very likable, down-to-earth and funny), Bonamassa states this is his best album yet. Hey, aren’t the latest releases always the “best yet”? While he kinda has to say that and I’m still a novice when it comes to Joe, he may be right. This is a very good collection of original material and some choice covers. I’d love for his next album to feature and even higher percentage of original numbers with maybe just one or two covers thrown in.

Blues rockers will really enjoy this one and it makes me wanna pick up Joe’s earlier albums.

Highlights: “Slow Train”, “Dust Bowl”, “The Meaning of the Blues”, “Black Lung Heartache”, “No Love On The Street”

http://www.facebook.com/JoeBonamassa
http://www.jbonamassa.com

Buy ‘Dust Bowl’ from Amazon.com!

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