1. Deep Purple – “Smoke on the Water”
2. Nazareth – “Razamanaz”
3. Motorhead – “White Line Fever”
4. Def Leppard – “Rocks Off”
5. Rainbow – “All Night Long”
6. Status Quo – “Roll Over Lay Down”
7. Whitesnake – “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”
8. UFO – “Lights Out in London”
9. Gillan – “Unchain Your Brain”
10. Black Sabbath – “Paranoid”
What a brutal album cover that totally screams “heavy metal”. I picked this one up on vinyl in great condition for only $1 at a local flea market annex shop called Fort Walton Beach Vintage Records. Live and Heavy is a compilation put out by the British label NEMS that, unsurprisingly, features live tracks by UK rock bands. Had this been released a year or two later, I’m sure it would’ve been full of NWOBHM bands but instead we get bands that are more closely associated with ’70s hard rock and heavy metal.
This compilation has a killer line-up: Gillan-era Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake, UFO (“Lights Out” is titled “Lights Out in London” on this release), Ozzy-era Black Sabbath, Motorhead… some of the very best heavy rock bands England has to offer. Even Def Leppard makes an appearance. Pretty good deal for such a new and young band (at the time) to get a track compiled with a number of other legendary bands.
Had this been a compilation of studio tracks, I probably would’ve passed. I’m not big on live album but for a collection of live cuts from these specific bands, I figured it was worth a buck.
The inner sleeve lists the various dates and venues these tracks were recorded. Always good to have that info. I was afraid this was going to be a super low-budget compilation that wouldn’t even bother.
This is a good pick-up for fans of hard rock from the 1970s and early 1980s.
Highlights: “Smoke on the Water”, “All Night Long”, “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”, “Lights Out in London”
Sweet & Lynch – Only to Rise
2015, Frontiers Records
Buy the album
1. The Wish
2. Dying Rose
3. Love Stays
4. Time Will Tell
5. Rescue Me
6. Me Without You
10. Strength in Numbers
12. Only to Rise
Michael Sweet – Vocals, Guitar
George Lynch – Guitar
James LoMenzo – Bass
Brian Tichy – Drums
Producer: Michael Sweet
Sweet & Lynch is supergroup in a long line of supergroups put together at the request of the Italy-based melodic rock label Frontiers Records. The difference this time is that I can actually pronounce the names and know who all of these guys are! Also, in contract to many of Frontier’s other all-star projects, Michael Sweet offered to take over as producer and he and George Lynch co-wrote all of the songs. Generally, for these label projects the album would use outside songwriters and producers.
Looking at the band roster I have to say that Sweet & Lynch is as strong of a rock supergroup as there has been in awhile. While Stryper’s Michael Sweet and Dokken/Lynch Mob’s George Lynch are obviously the focal point, the names of bassist James LoMenzo (White Lion / Megadeth / Black Label Society) and journeyman drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake) should be recognizable to more than a few hard rock fans.
As for the music, Sweet Lynch stays within the realm of what made them popular. I wouldn’t put this album on the level of the last few Stryper & Sweet solo albums, but fans of Stryper, Dokken and/or Lynch Mob, should find no trouble enjoying this melodic hard rockin’ album.
Highlights: “Love Stays”, “Time Will Tell”, “Me Without You”, “Recover”, “Only to Rise”
AC/DC – Rock or Bust
2014, Columbia Records
Buy the album
1. “Rock or Bust”
2. “Play Ball”
3. “Rock the Blues Away”
4. “Miss Adventure”
5. “Dogs of War”
6. “Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder”
7. “Hard Times”
8. “Baptism by Fire”
9. “Rock the House”
10. “Sweet Candy”
11. “Emission Control”
Brian Johnson – Lead Vocals
Angus Young – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Stevie Young – Guitar
Cliff Williams – Bass, Backing Vocals
Phil Rudd – Drums
Producer: Brendan O’Brien
Wow. Despite the major success of Black Ice, which proved the world that AC/DC was still commercial force to be reckoned with and just as popular as ever, the band has had some tough times lately. Firstly, it was announced in September 2014 that founding member & rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young had permanently left the band and retired from music as he is battling dementia in addition to recovering from lung and heart operations he’s had in recent times. It was initially reported in the spring that he was taking a break from the band, but in the fall it was made official that he has retired.
Despite this, the band decided to continue on. I really assumed that if one of the Young brothers ever had to leave the band for whatever reason, then the band would retire. I kind of admire Angus for wanting to continue on. Apparently, all of the songs for Rock or Bust were already written by Angus & Malcolm by the time it was first announced Malcolm was taking a break. I figured this would at least delay recording but their nephew Steve Young stepped in to play rhythm guitar on the album and he is now Malcolm’s official replacement. Steve is no stranger to the band; he filled in for Malcolm on tour in 1988 while Malcolm was dealing with alcohol issues.
But it if that wasn’t enough, just before the release of this album, longtime drummer Phil Rudd’s house was raided in November 2014 and he was charged with “attempting to procure a murder, threatening to kill, possession of methamphetamine and possession of cannabis”. The attempt to procure a murder charged was dropped but as of this writing he is still facing the other charges. It is not known at this time whether he is still a member of the band but recent band photos have not included Phil Rudd. Angus seems willing to give Phil a chance to deal with the charges but has stated someone will be drumming for them when they go on tour in the spring of 2015.
This is the first “new release” of a vinyl album I’ve ever bought. While I have a decent size CD collection, these days I mostly listen to music digitally. When I saw that this album wasn’t up on Spotify and that it was $10-13 for either the digital album or the CD, I figured I might as well pay another $10 for the vinyl/CD bundle. I ended up buying this at Barnes & Noble of all places. I think all vinyl releases should include a CD copy. So now I have a vinyl copy, a CD copy and a copy burned to my computer/iPod. The vinyl cover is 3D lenticular artwork and features the AC/DC logo breaking through. The packaging is well done. One sleeve for the CD and booklet featuring photos, one sleeve for the record. It all has an old school look to it. They even used the old Columbia Records logo.
So how does the music fare? Well, it’s AC/DC. If you like AC/DC, you’ll like this album. We already know they have a formula and they’re going to stick with it. I’ve spun Rock or Bust a number of times already (it’s easy to do when the album is only 34 minutes long) and I definitely like it. I don’t think it’s as good as Black Ice, but “Rock or Bust”, “Play Ball” and “Miss Adventure” are very good tunes with the first two definitely having that classic AC/DC feel to them. “Rock the Blues Away” is another good one that I can see going over well in concert. With further comparison to Black Ice, I think Brian Johnson’s voice actually sounds better on this album.
While the album may not go down as an all-time classic in the band’s catalog, it’s certainly a “good” album that beats out stuff like Stiff Upper Lip and the band’s output from ’83-’88. If Rock or Bust is to be the last album the band ever records in the studio (I’m assuming there will be a live album to chronicle the Rock or Bust world tour), then it’s a strong note to go out on.
And, hey, selling 500,000 copies and going gold in the U.S. within two months of being released is good note to go out on as well. Not bad for a rock band in their fifth decade, especially considering the state of the music industry.
Highlights: “Rock or Bust”, “Play Ball”, “Rock the Blues Away”, “Miss Adventure”
Motley Crue – All Bad Things [single]
2015, Eleven Seven Music
Buy the song
1. All Bad Things
Vince Neil – Vocals
Mick Mars – Guitar
Nikki Sixx – Bass
Tommy Lee – Drums
While I’ve never truly believed Motley Crue’s “final” tour is really the final tour (comments from band members have now stated they’ll still occasionally record or do live performances), I was hoping a new tour might bring about some new music. It’s been too long since the band released a follow-up album to Saints of Los Angeles. I think the idea for any future new Motley music is so to either attach the songs to soundtracks, EPs or release them as singles, but it’s been announced that some type of Motley Crue release is in the works that will include the band’s latest single and the one new track they are playing on their farewell tour, “All Bad Things”.
Whatever the project is, it’s being called “the ultimate collector’s album package” (by Motley’s press release). I’m guessing either another greatest hits collection or another box set. I’d rather get a whole new album.
To the music at hand, when snippets of this song first appeared online in the form of a teaser for the tour, I liked what I heard. Live recordings popping up on YouTube weren’t that great so I’ve been impatiently waiting for MONTHS for a proper release of this song.
Personally, I’m a big fan of the new music Motley Crue has made since 2005. It’s the perfect marriage of the Motley Crue sound and modern hard rock. I loved the few new tracks they did for Red, White & Crue, Saints of Los Angeles was good and I liked the band’s previous single, “Sex”. If you’re a fan of their newer stuff, you’ll like “All Bad Things”. It sounds like something that could’ve been on SOLA and it’s a step up from “Sex”. I would love to see both of those songs get a proper physical release so I’m hoping whatever album is in the pipeline, both of these songs will appear on it.
It’s Crue, it’s good, check it out.
Whitesnake – Live in ’84: Back to the Bone
2014, Frontiers Records
Snakeskin Boots: The Best of the Bootlegs
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
David Coverdale – Vocals
John Sykes – Guitar
Mel Galley – Guitar (Track #13)
Neil Murray – Bass
Cozy Powell – Drums
Jon Lord – Keyboards (Track #13)
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”
UltimateClassicRock.com recently published a list ranking Judas Priest’s studio albums from worst to best. Lists are always fun and good for debate. It got me to thinking about how I’d rank the band’s discography. It goes something like this…
17. Rocka Rolla – Yes, the band’s debut album is their worst, IMO. #SorryNotSorry That said, I don’t think it’s bad but I don’t think it’s very memorable. It’s really only notable because it was the band’s debut album; they were still finding themselves.
16. Jugulator – Most fans who can stand the Ripper era prefer this one, but I don’t.
15. Nostradamus – Said it before and I’ll say it again, this album is a bloated in every fashion possible. Trim it down to one disc and you’d have something decent, but as a double album it’s a bore and chore to sit through.
14. Point of Entry – An okay album with one excellent song (“Desert Plains”) that was nowhere near a follow-up worthy to British Steel.
13. Demolition – This is the Ripper-fronted album that has a greater number of songs that I enjoy. I have a soft spot for it because I bought when it was first released; it was my first “new” Priest album.
12. Turbo – A lot of people dislike this one but it’s a guilty pleasure to me and features a few great tracks.
11. Ram It Down – A harder-edged version of Turbo, it too falls under the category of being a guilty pleasure.
10. Angel of Retribution – Another album I have a soft spot for since it was Halford’s return to the group. I was very excited for this one. It was a good but not great reunion album.
9. Redeemer of Souls – Given that this album was only released a few months ago, it’s hard to truly determine where it stands in the Priest catalog. I feel like it is definitely a top 10 album for the band. It’s certainly the best album the band has made since 1990’s Painkiller.
8. Sad Wings of Destiny – While the band’s debut didn’t offer up much of interest, their sophomore effort saw the band heading down a heavy metal road that would eventually end with them being crowned as Metal Gods.
7. Defenders of the Faith – Released between the classic Screaming for Vengeance and the controversial Turbo, this one delivered a few classics in its own right.
6. Sin After Sin – The very first Priest album I ever bought.
5. Stained Class – This one is a near tie with the next album…
4. Hell Bent for Leather – …except this one wins out thanks to tracks like “Hell Bent for Leather”, “Before the Dawn” and “The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Prong Crown)”.
3. British Steel – I know there’s a strong case to be made for this being the band’s best releases, but there still some filler on this one.
2. Screaming for Vengeance – The band’s commercial breakthrough. I could go without ever hearing “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'” for the rest of my life, but I’ll never get tired of “Riding on the Wind”, “Bloodstone”, “(Take These) Chains”, “Electric Eye” or “Screaming for Vengeance”.
1. Painkiller – This one, thought well-reviewed, still does not get enough love as far as I’m concerned. It’s the heaviest, fastest album the band ever did. A lot of people point to this album as having simple comic book lyrics, but who cares? Every track is an atmospheric heavy metal classic. It’s just too bad it was released in 1990 just as heavy metal was starting to slip a bit in popularity.
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 1: Kings of the Night Time World (1972 – 1982)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 2: Hell or High Water (1983 – 1996)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 3: Roar of Greasepaint (1997 – 2006)
The KISS Album Focus, Volume 4: Never Enough (2006 – 2013)
by Julian Gill
For many years, the website KISSFAQ.com (not affiliated with or endorsed by the band KISS) was the source of a lot of great info on the band. What I found most entertaining and informative was the website’s “KISS Album Focus” series where the band’s recording history was broken down into detail. These considerably lengthy articles were all posted and available for free. Eventually, he Album Focus articles were pulled from the site and were slowly released in book format starting in 2002 (with updated editions being published at various points). As of this writing, the series covers the band beginnings all the way up to 2013.
In addition to KISS albums, these books also focus on what every band member was up to pre- & post-KISS. Various editions of albums and singles are discussed as well.
I’ve read a lot of KISS books over the years and these are some of the best. While this isn’t technically a biography of the band, it does cover every album the band has released (including compilations and live albums) and talks about events during and leading up those releases.
I started with Volume 2 because it covers my favorite era of the band. I think KISS’ run during the ’80s and early ’90s is much more interesting than the classic period. We’ve heard all the stories from the band’s 1970s heyday a million times. so my eyes and ears always perk up when I get to read about what went on post-originals/pre-reunion.
Next I purchased volumes three and four. Volume 3 was interesting because it focuses on the reunion and while I already knew that Psycho Circus wasn’t a true reunion album, I didn’t realize how much of a mess relations were in the band from the get-go. Volume 4 covers the shortest amount of time out of all the books and according has the least amount of pages. I was a bit disappointed with this one because I felt surely there’d be much more to say with the band kick-starting their creatives juices with the releases of Sonic Boom and Monster.
Finally, I picked up Volume 1. I almost bought the $5 Kindle version because the paperback was listed as being out of print and prices on copies of it skyrocketed up around $40. Just a few days earlier the paperback was in stock and had been listed at around $17 or so. I mulled over whether I wanted an e-book to complete the set but after doing that for a few weeks, Amazon got more paperback copies in, so everything turned out okay.
My biggest complaint about this series is that Julian Gill really could’ve used an editor (or a spell-check/grammar check program). Words are omitted, words are misspelled, entire paragraphs are repeated but worded differently… This happens throughout the entire series but seems to happen the most in Volume 1.
I wouldn’t recommend these books to a casual KISS fan that may only pick up a Gene Simmons book for a quick read, but all hardcore KISS fans should read and love this series. These are books I’ll be referring to and re-reading certain chapters for many more years to come!
Ace Frehley – Space Invader
2014, eOne Music
1. Space Invader
2. Gimme A Feelin’ [Radio Edit]
3. I Wanna Hold You
6. Immortal Pleasure
7. Inside the Vortex
8. What Every Girl Wants
9. Past the Milky Way
11. The Joker
Ace Frehley – Vocals, Guitar, Bass
Matt Starr – Drums
Chris Wyse – Bass
Producer: Ace Frehley
There was a sticker on the wrapper that said “Space Ace has out KISSed KISS. This may end up the best KISS album KISS never recorded.” Relax, dude.
Of course, Ace being Ace, you can’t help but pick out the classic KISS sound on a few of these tracks. It’s a part of who he is as a musician. That classic KISS sound couldn’t have existed without Ace playing lead. “Toys” and “Inside the Vortex” have that classic KISS vibe. And “Inside the Vortex” actually sounds like something that fits right alongside “Modern Day Delilah” and “I’m An Animal” from KISS’ Sonic Boom album. “What Every Girl Wants” isn’t a standout track but it has a KISS vibe as well.
It’s the first four tracks that I find to be the best. “Space Invader” is some of Ace’s best guitar work in decades. “Gimme A Feelin'” and “I Wanna Hold You” are kinda like amped up ’50s/’60s rock. Very catchy. Especially “I Wanna Hold You” (which is tied with “Space Invader” as my absolute favorite song from the album). “Change” reminds me of something we might’ve heard from Frehley’s Comet back in the late ’80s.
Maybe it requires further listening but “Restless” strikes me as a bit of filler and Ace’s cover of the Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” is most unwelcome. Not because of Ace’s performance but because the original song itself is terrible.
Ace closes the album with an instrumental called “Starship”, which is worthy successor to the “Fractured” series of instrumentals and done in the same vein. I would not be mad if any and all future Ace albums continued to feature “Fractured”-like instrumental. It would be nice to have a compilation of all of these instrumentals. I’m sure something like that will pop up on YouTube eventually if it isn’t already there. I would have to listen back to know for sure but off the top of my head the song “Immortal Pleasures” (which is not an instrumental) seems reminiscent of the “Fractured” instrumentals.
I don’t feel bad that Ace is not in KISS anymore. He signed his rights away to the character he created and left the band on at least two different occasions of his own freewill and I think he can be just as much of a flaky, egotistical trash-talker as Gene, Paul and Peter can be. I’m saying this to show that I’m not an Ace fanboy and while I thought Anomaly was good, I was only mildly interested in this CD as I figured Ace probably didn’t have enough in the tank to even match the quality of that album. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised to be wrong! This is a great album and blows Anomaly away. Space Invader easily trumps everything, except Ace’s first solo album way back in 1978.
Highlights: “Space Invader”, “Gimme A Feelin'”, “I Wanna Hold You”, “Change”, “Inside the Vortex”, “Past the Milky Way”, “Starship”
Dio – Live in London: Hammersmith Apollo 1993
2014, Eagle Rock Records
1. Stand Up And Shout
2. Strange Highways
3. Don’t Talk To Strangers
6. The Mob Rules
7. Children Of The Sea
8. Holy Diver
9. Heaven And Hell
10. Man On The Silver Mountain
11. Drum Solo
12. Heaven And Hell (reprise)
1. Jesus Mary & The Holy Ghost
2. Hollywood Black
3. The Last In Line
4. Rainbow In The Dark
5. We Rock
6. Here’s To You
Ronnie James Dio – Lead Vocals
Tracy G – Guitar
Jeff Pilsen – Bass, Backing Vocals
Vinny Appice – Drums
Scott Warren – Keyboards
Live in London was recorded on December 12, 1993 and is the Dio band’s third live release that’s been pulled from the archives since the passing of Ronnie James Dio in 2010. The set list isn’t all that dissimilar from what the Dio band has always played: a mix of their own material plus cuts from Ronnie’s run in Black Sabbath with the occasional Rainbow tune thrown in.
For this album, the band was touring for the release of Strange Highways and the set features no less than six songs from that album. It’s an album I own not but something I was ever too impressed with. The songs really don’t sound too different from the darker and angrier music Ronnie made with Black Sabbath on 1992’s Dehumanizer, just less memorable. In this live setting, I can appreciate the “Strange Highways” track much more. It wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Dehumanizer or even Heaven & Hell’s The Devil You Know.
This was also the era when the controversial Tracy G played guitar in the band. Honestly, I’m not sure why people say he wasn’t a good fit. He looked like your typical metal-head and is obviously a gifted guitarist. I think maybe he caught all of the negativity just because he was the guitarist for two albums (Strange Highways and its follow-up Angry Machines) that were musically and lyrically darker affairs from what Dio usually put out. All you have to do is check out his guitar solo on “Pain” and you’ll know this guy was worthy of following in the footsteps of
Here’s where I would put out that even in 1993, Ronnie James sounds just as powerful as ever, except you can say that for every year he was on the planet up until he started getting ill! The guy was truly the most gifted rock/metal vocalist of all time. Never lost a step no matter the year, no matter the song. Amazing to think he never had to warm-up either. Simply legendary.
If you’ve kept up with the last two Dio live releases, this isn’t essential listening but fans of Strange Highways will probably want to hear songs from that album performed live (or even buy the DVD or Blu-ray of this concert).
Highlights: “Stand Up and Shout”, “Strange Highways”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers”, “The Mob Rules”, “Heaven and Hell”, “Man on the Silver Mountain”, “The Last In Line”, “We Rock”, “Here’s to You”
Skid Row – Rise of the Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter Two
2014, Megaforce Records
Buy the album
1. We Are the Damned
2. Give It the Gun
3. Catch Your Fall
4. Damnation Army
5. Zero Day
6. Sheer Heart Attack
7. Rats in the Cellar
Johnny Solinger – Lead Vocals
Dave “Snake” Sabo – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scotti Hill – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rachel Bolan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rob Hammersmith – Drums
Skid Row is back with the second installment of their United World Rebellion series of EPs, which I think is meant to be a trilogy. Personally, I think this is a great way for bands to go about releasing music — a steady stream of EPs and then maybe do a double or triple disc compilation later down the line.
Not sure why it took these guys seven years before they released new music but a fire has certainly been lit under them. I never bothered with Thickskin or Revolutions Per Minute because both albums were reviewed by mostly everyone as being poor or mediocre, but the United World Rebellion series shows the band still has a snotty punky attitude and continues to show why they were one of the heaviest of the “hair bands” back in the early 1990s. “We are the Damned” is a true headbanger and the best track on the album. Though I enjoyed the first United World Rebellion, I was caught off guard by how good this track is.
The band wraps up the second chapter by superbly covering a few Queen and Aerosmith classics. If you’re looking for something the band to try to recreate the past with some glossy hair metal, you’re not going to find it on these recent EPs but what you will get is good solid heavy metal and hard rock. If this is the type of music the band continues to release, I don’t have any interest in ever seeing them reunited for a nostalgia run with Sebastian Bach (who I happen to like as a solo artist anyway).
Highlights: “We are the Damned”, “Catch Your Fall”, “Zero Day”, “Sheer Heart Attack”, “Rats in the Cellar”