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The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years [Album Review]

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The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2011, Capitol Records
Originally Released: 1988, Capitol Records
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1. “Under My Wheels” – Alice Cooper w/ Guns N’ Roses
2. “Bathroom Wall” – Faster Pussycat
3. “Cradle to the Grave” – Motörhead
4. “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” – Armored Saint
5. “Born to Be Wild” – Lizzy Borden
6. “In My Darkest Hour” – Megadeth
7. “Prophecy” – Queensrÿche
8. “The Brave” – Metal Church
9. “Foaming at the Mouth” – Rigor Mortis
10. “Colleen” – Seduce

Any metal-head worth their weight in steel is well aware of this documentary that was released in 1988. It’s a truly fascinating look at life as rocker in the 1980s. For better or worse, warts and all, it absolutely captures a time and a vibe & scene that can never truly be replicated no matter how “retro” a band may act.

As it stands, the soundtrack to The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is a solid compilation. Sure, bands like Seduce and Rigor Mortis didn’t stand the test of time but when it comes to the ’80s metal scene, you can’t really argue against the inclusion of bands like Motorhead, Lizzy Borden, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Guns N’ Roses, Metal Church or even Faster Pussycat. It was all metal one way or another.

The documentary itself was actually what turned me on to Megadeth as they performed “In My Darkest Hour” in the film and it certainly made an impression on me.

The lack of Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Poison, KISS or W.A.S.P. is a bit odd given how their stature and appearances in the documentary but the soundtrack isn’t meant to be all encompassing. If it was, we’d be putting up with having to listen to the likes of London, Tuff and Odin, too. A few tracks either start or end with audio clips from the film.

We could argue for hours over who truly deserves to be included on a compilation of ’80s metal but this soundtrack is just a taste of what that era had to offer and is meant to tie in most closely with bands featured in the documentary. Keep that in mind and what you’ve got is a good collection of ’80s rock & metal that will fit right in with your retro denim vest.

Highlights: “Under My Wheels”, “Bathroom Wall”, “Born to Be Wild”, “In My Darkest Hour”, “Prophecy”

Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life [Review]

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 Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life
2014, Rhino Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. Neon Knights – Anthrax
2. The Last In Line – Tenacious D
3. The Mob Rules – Adrenaline Mob
4. Rainbow In The Dark – Corey Taylor, Roy Mayorga, Satchel, Christian Martucci, Jason Christopher
5. Straight Through The Heart – Halestorm
6. Starstruck – Motörhead with Biff Byford
7. The Temple Of The King – Scorpions
8. Egypt (The Chains Are On) – Doro
9. Holy Diver – Killswitch Engage
10. Catch The Rainbow – Glenn Hughes, Simon Wright, Craig Goldy, Rudy Sarzo, Scott Warren
11. I – Oni Logan, Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, Brian Tichy
12. Man On The Silver Mountain – Rob Halford, Vinny Appice, Doug Aldrich, Jeff Pilson, Scott Warren
13. Ronnie Rising Medley (A Light In The Black / Tarot Woman / Stargazer / Kill The King) – Metallica
14. This Is Your Life – Dio
Bonus Track:
15. Buried Alive – Jasta

Well, there certainly hasn’t been an absence of Dio-related releases since Ronnie’s passing. In the 4 years that Ronnie has been gone there have been two compilations, two live releases (a third is due shortly) and at least three tribute albums by my count. Ronnie James Dio: This Is Your Life is the third tribute album that I am aware of. The first two tributes were Jorn’s Dio (which Wendy Dio gave her blessing for) and Joey DeMaio’s Magic (which Wendy did not approve of), though I’m sure there’s probably more out there.

As far as star power and  talent goes, you won’t find a better Dio tribute: Anthrax, Halestorm, Metallica, Scorpions, Rob Halford, Motorhead, Biff Byford, Vinny Appice, Doro, Doug Aldrich… the list goes on and on.

Most these songs are played fairly straight and faithfully but it’s still interesting to hear Dio covered by other well-known artists and the songs cover his years in Rainbow, Black Sabbath and the Dio band. The majority of these tracks range from good to excellent. Even Tenacious D (who I normally can’t stand) do a decent job.

There are a few tracks I do have an issue with though. For one, Killswitch Engage’s “Holy Diver”. I don’t like metalcore and never needed to hear a metalcore version complete with unnecessary pinch harmonics that would make Zakk Wylde proud. I give them credit for trying to make the song their own, but it doesn’t make it a good cover.

Then there’s the cover of Black Sabbath’s “I”. There’s a good line-up of musicians on the track and Oni Logan is a good singer but he lacks the power to really put that song over the top like Dio did. He doesn’t sound bad, but I don’t think he’s the right fit for a song like this, if that makes any sense.

Then there’s “Man on the Silver Mountain”. Again, great musicians here. It’s Rob Halford backed by a collection of former Dio band members. Doug Aldrich’s presence is felt throughout the song and while he was in Dio before he joined Whitesnake, the song is given a slight makeover and comes across like a modern Whitesnake song. Halford sounds fine, but again, he doesn’t have the proper voice to be covering songs sung by Ronnie James Dio. Or songs sung by Ronnie James Dio that have been given a Whitesnake makeover. I’m liking this take on the song musically, I just think Halford’s vocals are out of place.

Glenn Hughes turns in a fantastic soulful performance on “Catch the Rainbow”. He is also backed by a collection of former Dio players. Motorhead & Biff Byford do a great job on “Starstruck” and I initially thought that was the Glenn Hughes track when I first heard it. “The Temple of the King” by Scorpions is wonderful as well. It’s a faithful cover of the original but it’s very cool to hear Klaus Meine on vocals.

The track that is garnering the most attention, obviously, is the Metallica track. I’m glad they are on this project because there’s no doubt they have brought eyes to this album that might not have given it a look otherwise. They do a good job covering four of Rainbow’s best songs.

The physical CD closes the album with the ballad “This Is Your Life” which is pulled from Dio’s 1996 album Angry Machines. The song is given extra weight considering the circumstances. Jasta’s “Buried Alive” is a digital album exclusive bonus track and is actually pretty good. Once again, Japan gets more material than North America because Stryper’s cover of “Heaven and Hell” and the Dio Disciples’ take on “Stand Up and Shout” appear on pressings over there. Seriously, what’s up with Japan always getting bonus tracks that never see the light of the day in the United States? I’ve never heard anyone actually address why that happens so often!

A few minor quibbles, but this isn’t a better Dio tribute album out and there probably never will be. Must have for Dio fans!

Highlights: “Rainbow In the Dark”, “Straight Through the Heart”, “Starstruck”, “The Temple of the King”, “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”, “Catch the Rainbow”, “Ronnie Rising Medley”, “This Is Your Life”

Motorhead – The World Is Yours

Motorhead – The World Is Yours [Bonus DVD] (2011, UDR/Motorhead Music)

1. “Born to Lose” … 4:01
2. “I Know How to Die” … 3:19
3. “Get Back In Line” … 3:35
4. “Devils In My Head” … 4:21
5. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music” … 4:25
6. “Waiting For The Snake” … 3:41
7. “Brotherhood Of Man” … 5:15
8. “Outlaw” … 3:30
9. “I Know What You Need” … 2:58
10. “Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye” … 4:04

Bonus DVD: Live at Wacken 2006
1. “Doctor Rock”
2. “Love Me Like A Reptile”
3. “Killers”
4. “In The Name Of Tragedy”
5. “Dancing On Your Grave”
6. “Fast And Loose”

Band:
Lemmy Kilmister – Vocals, Bass
Philip Campbell – Guitar
Mikkey Dee – Drums

Producer: Cameron Webb

While I enjoyed Motorizer at the time of its release, in hindsight I don’t think the album is anything great. So when The World Is Yours was announced, it wasn’t something I was incredibly excited for but I still planned on picking it up. There’s been a lot of buzz regarding this album with many sources saying this is Motorhead’s time to shine. While I’m not quite sure I agree that the world belongs to Motorhead at this moment, this is certainly a fine album to release with so many eyes upon the band and Lemmy thanks to the Lemmy documentary. In some editions, there is a bonus DVD featuring six songs from the band’s performance at Wacken in 2006.

This album has definitely grabbed me more than Motorizer did. There just seems to be more energy this time around even though the album is still the same ol’ mix of heavy metal, punk and rock ‘n’ roll that the band has been putting out for decades. The album opens with the roaring “Born To Lose”, a perfectly titled Motorhead song if there ever was one. Other highlights are “Get Back In Line”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music” and “Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye” all of which display some ol’ fashioned blues-based rock ‘n’ roll. My favorite song out of the bunch is the sinister and powerful sounding “Brotherhood Of Man” which reminds me of Metallica in a way.

What can I say? If Motorhead has never worked for you before, they probably won’t now but 65 years into his life Lemmy is still putting out great rock ‘n’ roll and I can’t imagine Motorhead being disappointed with The World Is Yours! He’s a true icon in the music business.

Highlights: “Born To Lose”, “Get Back In Line”, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”, “Waiting For The Snake”, “Brotherhood Of Man”, “Bye Bye Bitch Bye Bye”

http://www.imotorhead.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Motorhead/8079594657

Buy ‘The World Is Yours’ at Amazon.com

SLASH – Slash

Slash (2010, EMI Label Services/Dik Hayd Records)

1. “Ghost” … 3:34
2. “Crucify the Dead” … 4:04
3. “Beautiful Dangerous” … 4:35
4. “Back from Cali” … 3:35
5. “Promise” … 4:41
6. “By the Sword” … 4:50
7. “Gotten” … 5:05
8. “Doctor Alibi” … 3:07
9. “Watch This Dave” … 3:46
10. “I Hold On” … 4:10
11. “Nothing to Say” … 5:27
12. “Starlight” … 5:35
13. “Saint is a Sinner Too” … 3:28
14. “We’re All Gonna Die” … 4:30

Musicians:
Slash – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass (Track 9)
Lemmy Kilmister – Vocals, Bass (Track 8 )
Chris Chaney – Bass (Tracks 1-8, 10-14)
Dave Grohl – Drums (Track 9)
Josh Freese – Drums (Tracks 1-8, 10, 11, 13, 14)
Leonard Castro – Percussion (Tracks 1, 3-7, 10, 14)
Izzy Stradlin – Guitar (Track 1)
Eric Valentine – Piano, Keyboards
Ian Astbury – Vocals (Track 1)
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals (Track 2)
Fergie – Vocals (Track 3)
Myles Kennedy – Vocals (Tracks 4 & 12)
Chris Cornell – Vocals (Track 5)
Andrew Stockdale – Vocals (Track 6)
Adam Levine – Vocals (Track 7)
Kid Rock – Vocals (Track 10)
M. Shadows – Vocals (Track 11)
Rocco DeLuca – Vocals (Track 12)
Iggy Pop – Vocals (Track 13)

Producer: Eric Valentine

Well, it’s finally here: “Slash & Friends” (the original working title for this project). The few reviews I’ve read are mixed. Some “fans” were crying out that it sucked and Slash had sold-out before it was even released and now that it has been released typically those same “fans” are still saying it sucks and Slash is a sell out. Then you have Classic Rock magazine, who has claimed it’s the first great rock album of the decade. This might sound like mighty fine praise to some but given that the album was released in April 2010 the statement seems less impressive and sounds more like hyperbole to help promote an album they have a vested interest in (the album was a free UK-exclusive gift with a special Slash-themed issue of Classic Rock).

For my money ($7.99 + free shipping from BestBuy.com!), this is indeed a great album and I don’t really get the “sell out” criticisms. Why is he a sell out? Because a GIRL sings on this album? Fergie has a great voice for rock ‘n’ roll and she proves it on “Beautiful Dangerous”. If anything, I can see maybe cries of selling out coming from Maroon 5’s Adam Levine singing “Gotten”. It’s a decent song but if I didn’t know better, I’d say it was a Maroon 5 song. Not much rock to it at all other than the solo. Then again, Slash has always flirted with pop stars. He’s a guy that doesn’t like to pigeon hole himself and goes to play with whoever wherever he thinks he’ll have fun. Nothing wrong with that. He’s not a sellout, he’s just not close-minded.

For the most part, it seems like every song was written with that song’s particular singer in mind. I know Slash already had ideas for songs before enlisting the troops but I’m also sure the songs were tailored to suit the vocalists. “Ghost” sounds like The Cult, “Crucify the Dead” sounds like the best Ozzy song in the last decade at least, “Promise” sounds like something Chris Cornell would have done in Audioslave, “Nothing to Say” could have been on Avenged Sevenfold’s last album and so on and so on. In a way, this is somewhat disappointing for those that were looking forward to a bluesier guitar hero effort or for something similar to Guns N’ Roses from Slash. There is NOTHING here that brings to mind anything GNR has done. I’m okay with that but maybe some backlash stems from people wanting Slash to have delivered something more akin to the original GNR since Axl has moved the hired Guns into heavier more industrial terrain.

Slash claims this is a rock album and for the most part he’s right but songs like “Gotten” and “Saint is a Sinner Too” are pure pop that I can’t imagine Slash would be playing without the chosen vocalists. I was worried myself when I saw the guest list for this album. The participants just seem so over the place I thought it would all be a big mess. Definitely not the case and there’s a surprisingly low amount of filler with the two Myles Kennedy songs “Back from Cali” and “Starlight” being the only ones that really fall short with me. Kennedy is from the band Alter Bridge and he’s the only singer that has two songs and I’m sure it’s because he’s the singer for Slash’s touring band while promoting this album.

Everything else is decent at the very least while “Nothing to Say” featuring Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows and the album’s lead “By the Sword” featuring Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale are my favorites. “By the Sword” has a cool Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd classic hard rock sound to it.

Despite Slash’s insistence that this is a rock album, there’s a bit of genre jumping and he dips his feet (fret?) into the pop realm but it’s only done so in order to fit the singers. Even though this is a self-titled affair, Slash really isn’t the star here. There’s some good solos on this disc but this album isn’t built around them. It’s all about the songs as a whole and Slash (and friends) has delivered a very satisfying release that is much better than anything he did the first time he went “solo” with Slash’s Snakepit.

I do have two disappointments though: Dave Grohl drums on the album but does not sing (he apparently has a thing against singing on other peoples’ albums) and the U.S. version of this album does not feature “Baby Can’t Drive” featuring Alice Cooper and The Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger. It’s a pretty cool song so what gives ?!

Highlights: “Ghost”, “Crucify the Dead”, “Beautiful Dangerous”, “By the Sword”, “Watch This Dave”, “Nothing to Say”

http://www.slashonline.com/
http://www.myspace.com/slash

Buy it at Amazon.com
Buy it at CD Universe

FASTWAY – Trick or Treat

Fastway – Trick or Treat (1986, Columbia/CBS Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Trick or Treat” … 2:47
2. “After Midnight” … 3:39
3. “Don’t Stop the Fight” … 4:21
4. “Stand Up” … 4:04
5. “Tear Down the Walls” … 2:07
6. “Get Tough” … 3:30
7. “Hold On To The Night” … 3:22
8. “Heft” … 5:20
9. “If You Could See” … 4:36

Band:
Dave King – Vocals
‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke – Guitar
Shane Carroll – Guitar
Paul Reid – Bass
Alan Connor – Drums

Produced by: ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke

This is the fourth release from Fastway and it also doubles as the original motion picture soundtrack to the movie ‘Trick or Treat’. I finally picked up this album in 2007 after longing for it ever since I watched the movie a few years back. Trick or Treat (the movie) is pretty fun 80s rock & roll horror stuff and features cameos by future bumbling, mumbling reality TV dad Ozzy Osbourne and future big-talking, face-lifting reality TV dad Gene Simmons. Is Marc Price next in line for a reality show based on his family life? What would they call it? Marc Price Is Right? Hey, if the Coreys, Scott Baio, and Danny Bonaduce got shows…

Oh yeah, the music. Anyway, as mentioned, besides being a soundtrack this is also a semi-full release by the 80s hard rock “supergroup” Fastway (featuring guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke from Motorhead and bassist Pete Way from UFO… Get it?). All Music Guide only rates this album at 1 1/2 stars (out of 5)! This I cannot agree with. This album is EASILY at least TWO FREAKIN’ STARS.

True, I wouldn’t say this album is a classic. But it does have that classic 80s hard rock/metal sound. Is that good or bad? To me, that’s good. I actually haven’t listened to a whoe lot other Fastway songs, but they kind remind me of Kix, especially Dave King’s vocals.

My only complaint is that I believe there are a few songs from the movie that aren’t on the soundtrack (Maybe they aren’t Fastway songs..?), one of which is an awesome track from a scene where Marc is in his room listening to music. I can’t confirm it though because I’m too lazy to go look for my copy on DVD.

“Heft’ and ‘If You Could See” were released on previous Fastway albums. Still, this CD (and the movie) can be found for pretty cheap, usually around $5-8, both are definitely worth a look and listen.

Highlights: “Trick Or Treat”, “After Midnight”, “Don’t Stop the Fight”, “Stand Up”, “Tear Down the Walls”, “If You Could See”

www.myspace.com/fastwaymusic

MOTORHEAD – Motorizer

Motorhead – Motorizer (2008, Steamhammer Records/SPV Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Runaround Man” … 2:57
2. “(Teach You How To) Sing the Blues” … 3:03
3. “When the Eagle Screams” … 3:44
4. “Rock Out” … 2:08
5. “One Short Life” … 4:05
6. “Buried Alive” … 3:12
7. “English Rose” … 3:37
8. “Back on the Chain” … 3:24
9. “Heroes” … 4:59
10. “Time is Right” … 3:14
11. “The Thousand Names of God” … 4:33

Band:
Lemmy Kilmister – Vocals, Bass
Phil Campbell – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Mikkey Dee – Drums

Produced by: Cameron Webb

Ah! My first Motorhead purchase! And it’s a good one. This is a band I’ve been meaning to get into for awhile and I’m enjoying this album. I’ve seen differing opinions on it though. Some says it’s great, some say it sucks, but most are saying it “more of the same” (but meaning it in a positive way).

Before I knew this was coming out, I actually was thinking about getting their last album, Kiss of Death and will probably do so, then jump back to the early stuff.

So, I can’t say how this ranks compared to other Motorhead albums, but this is good heavy metal and I’ve been listening to it nonstop lately and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it make my Best of ’08 list.

Highlights: “Runaraound Man”, “(Teach You How To) Sing the Blues”, “When the Eagle Screams”, “One Short Life”, “Heroes”, “Time is Right”, “The Thousand Names of God”

www.imotorhead.com
www.myspace.com/motorhead

YOUTH GONE WILD: Heavy Metal Hits of the 80’s, Volume 1

YOUTH GONE WILD: HEAVY METAL HITS OF THE 80’S, VOLUME 1 (1996, Rhino Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Rock You Like a Hurricane” – Scorpions (4:12)
2. “Talk Dirty to Me” – Poison (3:45)
3. “The Last in Line” – Dio (5:47)
4. “Lay It Down” – Ratt (3:27)
5. “Never Enough” – L.A. Guns (4:14)
6. “Parental Guidance” – Judas Priest (3:26)
7. “Blind in Texas” – W.A.S.P. (4:22)
8. “Ace of Spades” – Motorhead (2:49)
9. “Balls to the Wall” – Accept (5:43)
10. “Street of Dreams” – Rainbow (4:28)
11. “Screaming in the Night” – Krokus (6:40)
12. “Summertime Girls [Studio Version]” – Y&T (3:28)
13. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” -Twisted Sister (3:40)
14. “Cum on Feel the Noize” – Quiet Riot (4:50)

Rhino was ahead of the curve by a few years when they started releasing 80s metal compilations as the hair metal renaissance really didn’t start picking up until around ’98 and ’99 with the arrival of sites like Metal Sludge, VH1 Behind the Music specials on bands like Poison & Def Leppard, and the countless hair band reunion and summer tours that sprung up.  The first three volumes of this series were all released on the same day and there was a fourth volume released in ’98 (don’t worry, I’ll be getting to all of them).

Of all the YGW releases, this is the most star-studded, with Krokus and Y&T being the only lesser-known bands (but any fan of the genre knows who those bands are). There are some glaring omissions from the whole series (Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Guns N Roses, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, etc.), but I’ll just assume they probably couldn’t afford to license any of those songs because with the exception of Cinderella, most of those acts remained big names even as the 90s rolled on.

Every song here is a classic with the exception of Priest’s “Parental Guidance”, which enters the Cheese Zone somewhat. There’s so many better Priest songs they could’ve chosen to represent them outside of the standard Priest “classics” (I’m assuming they were trying to avoid the obvious inclusions like “You Got Another Thing Comin'” and “Breaking the Law”).

This is the best volume of the series and probably one of the better 80s metal compilations you’re going to find as virtually every band is represented by their signature song. Even if you already own the albums these songs originally appeared on, this compilation makes for a great “mix” CD to go cruising around with.

Highlights: The whole freakin’ album. Even the weakest song (“Parental Guidance”) has some charm to it, as long as you take it in the context of “it was the 80s”. Bonafide classic tracks here.

Lowlights: None. A near perfect compilation.

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