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Alice Cooper – From the Inside [Review]

alice cooper_from the inside

Alice Cooper – From the Inside
1978, Warner Bros. Records
Buy the album at Amazon.com

1. “From the Inside”
2. “Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills”
3. “The Quiet Room”
4. “Nurse Rozetta”
6. “Millie and Billie”
7. “Serious”
8. “How You Gonna See Me Now”
9. “For Veronica’s Sake”
10. “Jackknife Johnny”
11. “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)”

Producer: David Foster

Though longtime producer Bob Ezrin and guitarist Steve Hunter are not involved in this album, Alice was able to retain the services of guitarist & songwriting partner Dick Wagner in addition to enlisting the aid of Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and a young Steve Lukather. Frequent Elton John collaborator Bernie Taupin co-wrote all lyrics with Alice. It’s no secret that this album was inspired by Alice’s time spent in the hospital while trying to become sober and that makes songs like “The Quiet Room” all the more haunting and the open and honest “How You Gonna See Me Now” all the more tender.

The previous album, Lace and Whiskey, was a bit out there for Alice, but I think From the Inside brings him a step closer to Alice Cooper Goes to Hell, at least. Still, some songs here are a sign of the times. “From the Inside” is a funky disco rock number while “How You Gonna See Me Now” is a soft rock ballad that fits right alongside “You and Me”. “Millie and Billie” is a typical late-1970s easy listening duet between Alice Cooper and a female singer.

There’s a fair number of rockers this time around though: “Nurse Rozetta” (possibly one of the sleaziest and most sexually-charged songs Alice has ever recorded), “Wish I Were Born in Beverly Hills”, “Serious” and “For Veronica’s Sake”. The album ends on a mellow note with the ballad “Jackknife Johnny” and epically produced “Inmates (We’re All Crazy)”, which has a weird dreamy vibe to it that would’ve made it perfect for a musical or Lace and Whiskey.

“How You Gonna See Me Now” and “The Quiet Room” are two of my favorite Alice songs and there’s another of other enjoyable tracks here. That makes From the Inside a minor classic in my eyes.

Highlights: “From the Inside”, “The Quiet Room”, “Nurse Rozetta”, “Serious”, “How You Gonna See Me Now”

www.alicecooper.com
www.facebook.com/AliceCooper

Rick Springfield – Songs for the End of the World [Review]

Rick Springfield – Songs for the End of the World
(2012, Universal Music Enterprises)

1. Wide Awake
2. Our Ship’s Sinking
3. I Hate Myself
4. You & Me
5. Gabriel
6. A Sign of Life
7. My Last Heartbeat
8. Joshua
9. Love Screws Me Up
10. I Found You
11. Depravity
12. One Way Street

Musicians:
Rick Springfield – Lead Vocals, Guitar
George Bernhardt – Guitar
Tim Pierce – Guitar
Dan Strain – Guitar
Matt Bissonette – Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Rodger Carter -Drums
George Nastos – Guitar
Richard Page – Vocals
John Waite – Vocals

Producer: Rick Springfield & Matt Bissonette

One of the biggest surprises of the year for me has been Songs for the End of the World. Sure, I know a handful of Rick Springfield’s hit and while I’ve never had a problem with them, I never felt truly compelled to seek out any of his albums. Well, I was aware this album was coming out but still wasn’t too interested in checking it out. Then I came across some extremely high praise for this album online and decided that I needed to see what the big deal was. My conclusion? This is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.

Now, I’m not someone who has followed Rick Springfield throughout his career so perhaps his fanbase already knew what to expect from Rick but for anyone who remembers him for “Jessie’s Girl’ and being an ’80s heartthrob on a soap opera, there is nothing retro or ’80s about this album. Springfield has crafted a near perfect masterpiece of modern rock/pop with Songs for the End of the World. If this album had been released by an artist half (or a third) his age, we’d probably have some big radio hits to talk about here. Sadly, that’s not how the music business works these days but at 63 years old, Rick’s voice is fantastic, the lyrics are excellent, the production is amazingly well done and the songs themselves dig their way into your brain and decide to make themselves at home.

If Rick’s back catalog is even half as good as this album, I’ve really really been missing out. I’ve seen a number of critics online stating this is easily his best album since returning to recording music in 1999 and some sites are even going as far to say it’s one of his best albums PERIOD.

The first four tracks are outstanding: “Wide Awake” is a great opener, “Our Ship’s Sinking” and “I Hate Myself” are fantastic anthems that should go over HUGE with a live crowd and “You & Me” is the type of pop/rock ballad that should be all over radio.

“My Last Heartbeat”, “Depravity”, “I Found You” all have a very modern, dark heavier edge to them. “I Found You” especially. A band of twenty-somethings should wish they could write this good. “Love Screws Me Up” is yet another classic anthem that is sure to go down great in a live setting.

“One Way Street” and “A Sign of Life” are good songs but they are the only songs that song a bit less modern but not in a “oh, that sounds like an ’80s song” kind of way. Maybe “timeless” is the correct word? The only two tracks that fall flat with me are the ballads “Joshua” and “Gabriel”. I just can’t get into ’em.

If you’re a fan of melodic rock, you really have to pick this album up. I’m converted based off this album alone.

Highlights: “Wide Awake”, “Our Ship’s Sinking”, “I Hate Myself”, “You & Me”, “My Last Heartbeat”, “Love Screws Me Up”, “I Found You”, “Depravity”

http://www.rickspringfield.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Official.Rick.Springfield

Buy the album at Amazon.com

Jack Blades – Rock ‘N Roll Ride (Album Review)

Jack Blades – Rock ‘N Roll Ride
(2012, Frontiers Records)

1. Back In The Game … 4:21
2. Rock ‘N Roll Ride … 4:18
3. Hardest Word To Say … 4:37
4. Anything For You … 4:06
5. Love Life … 4:28
6. West Hollywood … 4:11
7. Born For This … 4:32
8. Don’t Give Up … 3:08
9. Say You Will … 4:26
10. Rise And Shine … 3:43
11. Hey Now … 4:39

Musicians:
Jack Blades – Lead/Backing Vocals, Bass, Guitar
Joel Hoekstra – Guitar
Will Evankovich – Guitar, Mandolin, Sitar, Backing Vocals
Kelly Keagy – Drums
Brian Tichy – Drums
Eric Levy – Keyboards
Christian Matthew Cullen – Keyboards

After enjoying Night Ranger’s Somewhere In California so much, I figured it was a pretty safe bet I would enjoy Jack Blades’ latest solo effort Rock ‘N Roll Ride. I wasn’t wrong and Jack didn’t let me down! The album rocks a bit harder than Night Ranger, isn’t quite as polished or keyboard-heavy as Night Ranger can but Rock ‘N Roll Ride still fits under the same melodic hard rock category.

Much like Somewhere In California, this is great album to listen to during the summer. The whole album brings to mind to the beach, blue skies, bright sun shining down, road trips, friends and pure fun. “Love Life” and “Born For This” say it all. Great positive inspirational anthems that are perfect to enjoy under the warm sun.

“West Hollywood” is a song that I almost swore was a cover, it sounded so familiar, until I read in the press kit that it was inspired by The Beatles and was co-written with Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander. There’s that same vibe familiarity with “Don’t Give Up”. That tune reminds me of Tom Petty. “Anything For You” also reminds me of The Beatles.

The ballad “Hardest Word To Say” is another fave but it sounds like something you’d hear on country radio these days (since country has basically become rock/pop). I can imagine Rascal Flatts doing this song. Maybe Jack should pursue a solo career as a country music artist? I’m serious, I would push that to country radio and see what happens. Back to the high energy stuff, “Back In The Game” and “Rock ‘N Roll Ride” are the hardest rocking numbers of the bunch and a good way to kick off the album. “Say You Will” is another fired up rocker.

Blades has developed a reputation as a great songwriter in the industry. He’s written and collaborated successfully with many artists and I’m glad he’s taken the time to develop songs for himself this time. Rock ‘N Roll Ride should be picked up by Night Ranger fans (after all, four-fifths of the band play on the album!) and any fan of melodic hard rock. Fun, uplifting rock album.

Highlights: “Rock ‘N Roll Ride”, “Hard Word To Say”, “Love Life”, “Born For This”, “Don’t Give Up”, “Say You Will”

http://www.jackblades.net/
http://www.facebook.com/JackBlades

Buy the album at Amazon.com

FOO FIGHTERS – There Is Nothing Left to Lose

Foo Fighters – There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999, RCA Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Stacked Actors” … 4:17
2. “Breakout” … 3:21
3. “Learn to Fly” … 3:58
4. “Gimme Stitches” … 3:42
5. “Generator” … 3:48
6. “Aurora” … 5:50
7. “Live-In Skin” … 3:53
8. “Next Year” … 4:37
9. “Headwires” … 4:38
10. “Ain’t It the Life” … 4:17
11. “M.I.A.” … 4:03

Band:
Dave Grohl – Vocals, Guitar, Drums
Nate Mendel – Bass
Taylor Hawkins – Drums

Produced by: Adam Kasper & Foo Fighters

Though the alternative scene has never been my preferred genre, Foo Fighters are one of the bands that stands far above the rest. This was my first Foo Fighter album (though I was familiar with their singles from their two previous albums) and probably my favorite.

The first half of the album rocks the hardest, the second half for the most part slows down and gets a little too melancholy for me.

Highlights: “Stacked Actors”, “Breakout”, “Learn to Fly”, “Gimme Stitches”, “Generator”, “Headwires”

www.foofighters.com
www.myspace.com/foofighters

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