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XXX – Heaven, Hell or Hollywood?

XXX – Heaven, Hell or Hollywood? (2009, Perris Records)

1. “Hello!” … 3:41
2. “It’s Suicide” … 2:43
3. “We’re Gonna Rock” … 4:01
4. “Wall Of Fame” … 3:36
5. “I Want You To Want Me” … 3:53
6. “Singalongsong” … 3:41
7. “So Fuxxxing You” … 2:44
8. “Tomboy” … 4:02
9. “Miss Misery” … 3:37
10. “Heaven, Hell Or Hollywood?” … 3:41

Snowy Shaw – Drums, Vocals
X – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rob Nasty – Bass, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Snowy Shaw and X

Journeyman metal head Snowy Shaw (ex-King Diamond/Mercyful Fate/Dream Evil/Notre Dame…) is back again with another band, but this time, he’s tackling glam with a dash of the pop and punk that you would expect from that genre Quite a number of these songs give a Wildhearts vibe.

The songs are simple, easy to sing along to and in your face. That’s really all you need for good rock ‘n’ roll. Shaw does a decent job on vocals. I can hear traces of Axl Rose, Zakk Wylde, Alice Cooper and The 69 Eyes’ Jyrki 69.

Hopefully, Shaw’s interest will not wane as it seems to do with so many of his projects. This is a solid debut and I’d love to hear what XXX could do on their sophomore release.

Being a comic book fan, I like the theme of XXX being “The Superheroes of Sweden”. Album art was provided by Al Rio, who has worked for DC Comics and Marvel Comics.

Highlights: “Hello!”, “Wall of Fame”, “Tomboy”, “Miss Misery”, “Heaven, Hell Or Hollywood?”

GUNS N’ ROSES – The Spaghetti Incident?

Guns N’ Roses – The Spaghetti Incident? (1993, Geffen Records)

1. “Since I Don’t Have You” [The Skyliners] … 4:18
2. “New Rose” [The Damned] … 2:38
3. “Down on the Farm” [U.K. Subs] … 3:28
4. “Human Being” [New York Dolls] … 6:48
5. “Raw Power” [The Stooges] … 3:11
6. “Ain’t it Fun” [The Dead Boys] … 5:05
7. “Buick Makane/Big Dumb Sex” [T. Rex/Soundgarden] … 2:39
8. “Hair of the Dog” [Nazareth] … 3:54
9. “Attitude” [The Misfits] … 1:26
10. “Black Leather” [The Professionals] … 4:08
11. “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” [Johnny Thunders] … 3:35
12. “I Don’t Care About You” [Fear] … 2:17
13. “Look at Your Game, Girl” [Charles Manson] … 2:34

Axl Rose – Lead Vocals, Keyboard, Kazoo
Slash – Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitar, Drums
Gilby Clarke – Guitar
Matt Sorum – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Dizzy Reed – Piano, Keyboard, Backing Vocals, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Michael Monroe – Lead Vocals
Carlos Booy – Guitar
Mike Staggs – Guitar
Richard Duguay – Guitar
Mike Fasano – Percussion
Eddie Huletz, Stu Bailey, Eric Mills, Rikki Ratchman, Blake Stanton – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Guns N’ Roses, Mike Clink, Jim Mitchell

The last album that the so-called “real” Guns N’ Roses would ever record together was a album of covers and thus, in my opinion, a bit of a downer due to the odd collection of songs. It was meant as a placeholder (much like GN’R Lies) to keep the fans satisfied until the next original studio album arrived. Of course, that album, Chinese Democracy, arrived FIFTEEN YEARS later with only Axl & Dizzy making the trip.

There’s a strong punk influence on the album (I bet Duff was in heaven), but punk rock has never really been a favorite genre of mine. The real standout is the album’s opener, The Skyliners’ “Since I Don’t Have You”, which itself was kind of an odd choice for an cover album made up of mostly punk bands (and Charles Manson).

The parallels to GN’R Lies continue as Axl made sure to put another controversial track on the record (although it is unlisted on the album’s track listing) — “Look at Your Game, Girl”. It was written by Charles Manson. Supposedly, the rest of the band protested, but as usual, they folded to the demands of Axl who insisted this song be included. The only GNR members to perform on the track were Axl & Dizzy. Surprise surprise!

Anyway, this album is more of a curiosity than anything essential. Sad note for the old school GNR to end on.

Highlights: “Since I Don’t Have You”, “Ain’t It Fun”, “Hair of the Dog”, “Attitude”, “I Don’t Care About You”

BUTCH WALKER – Left of Self-Centered

Butch Walker – Left of Self-Centered (2002, Arista Records)

Track List:
1. “Rock Vocal Power” … 1:56
2. “My Way” … 4:00
3. “Suburbia” … 4:07
4. “Trouble” … 3:58
5. “Alicia Amnesia” … 3:42
6. “Sober” … 3:20
7. “Into the Black” … 3:38
8. “Get Down” … 4:03
9. “Far Away from Close” … 3:52
10. “Diary of a San Fernando Sexx Star” … 3:39
11. “If (Jeannie’s Song)” … 4:53
12. “Take Tomorrow (One Day at a Time)” … 4:30
13. — … 14:58
14. “Get Stupid with You”…  4:58

Butch Walker – Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Piano, Keyboard

Additional Musicians:
Nikki Sixx – Bass
Greg Lee – Bass
Kenny Cresswell – Drums, Backing Vocals
Mitch “Slug” McLee – Drums
Jim Ebert – Moog Synthesizer, Keyboard
Matt Mahaffey – Keyboard, Scratching
Chrystina Lloree – Backing Vocals
Peter Searcy – Cello
Harold Sellers – Congas

Produced by: Butch Walker, Jim Ebert, Matt Mahaffey

With a career only spanning three albums (though I’m forever holding out hope a we’ll get a reunion and a fourth release someday), Marvelous 3 became one of my favorite bands and produced one of my favorite albums with ReadySexGo. Marvelous 3 called it quits in 2001 and front man/songwriter Butch Walker surfaced in 2002 with this, his very first solo release.

It’s very much a continuation of what Marvelous 3 had been doing with the great blend of glam, punk, pop and hard rock. Nothing but giant hooks and huge choruses. If M3 had stuck around and followed ReadySexGo with a new album, I can’t imagine it sounding much different than this. Unfortunately, Left of Self-Centered would be the last in-your-face hard rock/pop release by Butch Walker, I guess he’d rather write & produce those types of songs for other artists (Avril Lavigne, Lit, Fall Out Boy, Katy Perry, Pink) than himself because his albums since have been a bit more emo, mellow and acoustic than I would like.

Butch certainly does have a way with words and  great sense of humor. I like how the lyrics flow together and the next line plays off the previous one. The lyrics are almost as enjoyable as the music itself.

“My Way” was the song during the opening credits of the awful Jason Lee/Tom Green movie ‘Stealing Harvard’, if I’m not mistaken.

“Get Stupid with You” is a “hidden” asTrack 14. Track 13 is nearly 15 minutes of silence.

Highlights: “My Way”, “Suburbia”, “Trouble”, “Alicia Amnesia”, “Sober”, “Into the Black”, “Get Down”, “If (Jeannie’s Song)”

BRIDES OF DESTRUCTION – Here Come the Brides

Brides of Destruction – Here Come the Brides (2004, Sanctuary Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Shut the F*ck Up” … 3:03
2. “I Don’t Care” … 3:21
3. “I Got a Gun” … 3:48
4. “2x Dead” … 5:38
5. “Brace Yourself” … 4:04
6. “Natural Born Killers” … 4:31
7. “Life” … 3:32
8. “Revolution” … 4:37
9. “Only Get So Far” … 5:07

London LeGrand – Lead Vocals
Tracii Guns – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Nikki Sixx – Bass, Backing Vocals
Scot Coogan – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
John Corabi – Rhythm Guitar
Kris Kohls – Drums

Produced by: Steve Bruno

Brides of Destruction were a “supergroup”, which was put together by Nikki Sixx (while Motley Crue took one of their many breaks) and L.A. Guns’ Tracii Gun. Ex-Motley Crue singer John Corabi was recruited to play guitar and nu-metal band Adema’s Kris Kohls was to be the drummer, but both were out of the band by the time of this album’s release.

I remember London LeGrand catching a lot of flack before the album was even released, with some of the more negative rock/metal sites saying he “sucked” and was a horrible singer. Just not hearing that here. The guy’s voice is fitting this music perfectly, which is a blend of 80s hard rock, punk, power pop, and modern hard rock. I love London’s performance on “I Got a Gun”.

The band never took off though, even though they did manage to get an appearance on The Tonight Show. They chose “Shut the F*ck Up” as their lead single, which was a mistake because it was heavily edited for radio and received very little play. The band even chose to play that song on The Tonight Show and it sounded horrible without them being able to utter that four-letter word.

I remember as soon as the album was released, Nikki was crowing about how much more material they had and that they would be releasing ANOTHER album in 2004, but it never happened. Eventually, Motley came calling again and Nikki ditched the band, though they soldiered on without him and released Runaway Brides in 2005.

This album shows a lot of promise though, I don’t think there’s any filler here and I’ve often wondered what the follow-up album would’ve sounded like if Nikki had remained fully involved.

“Only Get So Far” was originally written by Nikki with Faith Hill & Tim McGraw in mind, but that didn’t pan out. And if anyone still has complaints about London’s voice, they should check out that song as well.

Highlights: “Shut the F*ck Up”, “I Got A Gun”, “2x Dead”, “Brace Yourself”, “Life”, “Only Get So Far”

THE WILDHEARTS – Riff After Riff

The Wildhearts – Riff After Riff (2003, Gearhead Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Stormy in the North, Karma in the South” … 2:48
2. “Putting It On” … 4:20
3. “Looking for the One” … 3:48
4. “Lake of Piss” … 5:33
5. “Better Than Cable” … 3:17
6. “If I Decide” … 4:21
7. “Bang!” … 5:07
8. “Action Panzer” … 3:00
9. “The People That Life Forgot” … 3:45
10. “Move On” … 3:53
11. “O.C.D” … 4:58
12. “Return to Zero” … 4:05
13. “Let’s Go” … 3:58

Ginger – Lead Vocals, Guitar
C.J. – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Danny McCormack – Bass, Backing Vocals
Stidi – Drums

Produced by: Ginger, Simon Efemey, Gordon Raphael, Russ “Risky Russ” Russell

The Wildhearts were a band I had never heard of until the early-2000s when the then-relevant Metal Sludge site constantly gave them nothing but praise. I had heard “Vanilla Radio”, which apparently as a huge comeback hit for the band in their homeland of the UK and loved it. All Wildhearts albums were either out of print in the US or import, and thus I couldn’t bring myself to spend $30-40 on one CD, so I was ecstatic when I found out Riff After Riff was going to be a US release.

This album, a collection B-sides that were recorded around the same time of “Vanilla Radio”, was originally released in Japan in 2002 as an EP called Riff After Riff After Motherfucking Riff, but the US release has left off “Vanilla Radio” and has added on an extra six songs. As catchy as “Vanilla Radio” is, there isn’t anything that even comes close to that song here, IMO. Granted, these are B-sides, so you can’t expect too much, but there are a few tunes here worth checking out.

Curiously, Gut Records (a sister label to Gearhead Records) would release 21-track complete collection of The Wildhearts’ B-sides the year after this release with an album called Coupled With.

I love the cover though, great stuff that would’ve been a cool logo for legendary wrestler Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart!

Highlights: “Stormy in the North, Karma in the South”, “Putting It On”, “Looking for the One”, “Return to Zero”, “Let’s Go”

MURDERDOLLS – Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls

Murderdolls – Beyond the Valley of the Murderdolls (2002, Roadrunner Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Slit My Wrist” … 3:50
2. “Twist My Sister” … 2:06
3. “Dead in Hollywood” … 2:30
4. “Love at First Fright” … 3:07
5. “People Hate Me” … 4:49
6. “She Was a Teenage Zombie” … 3:02
7. “Die My Bride” … 3:14
8. “Graverobbing U.S.A” … 3:21
9. “197666” … 2:19
10. “Dawn of the Dead” … 3:43
11. “Let’s Go to War” … 3:23
12. “Dressed to Depress” … 2:13
13. “Kill Miss America” … 2:27
14. “B-Movie Scream Queen” … 3:49
15. “Motherfucker I Don’t Care” … 2:55

Wednesday 13 – Lead Vocals, Bass
Tripp Eisen – Guitar
Joey Jordison – Guitar, Bass, Drums, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Matt Sepanic & Joey Jordison

Take the Misfits, KISS, Alice Cooper and a bit of Rob Zombie and the Murderdolls are what you get: a horror punk outfit with a campy B-movie sense of humor and some glam influences. The band initially was a combination of members from Slipknot (Jordison), Static-X (Eisen) and Wednesday 13 who had previously sung for another horror punk band called Frankenstein Drag Queens From Planet 13. Eisen left not too long after recording and in came Eric Griffin (bass), Acey Slade (guitar) and Ben Graves (drums) to complete the band.

I think it was one of my friends up in Virginia who suggested this album to me, but I remember one of the local rock stations giving this album some hype as well thanks to the Slipknot connection. As I’ve stated before, punk isn’t a favorite of mine, but like the Misfits, this band pulls in enough humor & B-horror movie lyrics to hold my interest.

The music is good, but the real interesting part is the lyrics. The zombie classic Dawn of the Dead, Twisted Sister and even Dee Snider’s Strangeland horror film all get mentions.

The band was only active for two years before Jordison heard the call of Slipknot once more, though Jordison & Wednesday both claim the Murderdolls will walk the earth again some day.

Highlights: “Slit My Wrists”, “Twist My Sister”, “Love at First Fright”, “Die My Bride”, “Dawn of the Dead”, “B-Movie Scream Queen”

MISFITS – Famous Monsters

Misfits – Famous Monsters (1999, Roadrunner Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Kong at the Gates” … 1:22
2. “The Forbidden Zone” … 2:23
3. “Lost in Space” … 2:27
4. “Dust to Dust” … 2:43
5. “Crawling Eye” … 2:22
6. “Witch Hunt” … 1:31
7. “Scream!” … 2:33
8. “Saturday Night” … 3:28
9. “Pumpkin Head” … 2:16
10. “Scarecrow Man” … 3:10
11. “Die Monster Die” … 2:00
12. “Living Hell” … 2:54
13. “Descending Angel” … 3:46
14. “Them” … 2:43
15. “Fiend Club” … 2:52
16. “Hunting Humans” … 2:06
17. “Helena” … 3:20
18. “Kong Unleashed” … 0:47

Michale Graves – Vocals
Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein – Guitar
Jerry Only – Bass
Dr. Chud – Drums

Produced by: Daniel Rey & Misfits

Before the Misfits, I didn’t really care much about punk music (I guess I still really don’t, this band seems to be the exception). BUT… I was a huge wrestling fan and they became involved with WCW and a wrestler called Vampiro (who used their “Kong at the Gates” song as his entrance music). Couple that with the fact that a freshmen girl I had an art class with was a huge fan of punk & the Misfits… Well, destiny was calling out for me to get this recently released album.

It’s not too bad, not a favorite album of mine and while I’ve gone back and gotten some of their earlier works, I wouldn’t call the Misfits a favorite of mine, though I do think they have some really great songs here and there.

This album is quite a departure from the Glenn Danzig version of the band. Sure, the punk rock is definitely still there and so is the campiness of it all, but the danger and excitement is gone. In it’s place we get 50s doo wop & rockabilly meets punk rock, which works quite well on a song like “Saturday Night”, which is about as close as a ballad you’ll get from this band.

Props to the band for giving a nod to the great Pumpkin Head movie in, what else, “Pumpkin Head”.

Highlights: “Kong at the Gates”, “The Forbidden Zone”, “Dust to Dust”, “Saturday Night”, “Pumpkin Head”, “Helena”

IRON MAIDEN – Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden – Iron Maiden [Enhanced Edition] (1998, Sanctuary Records/Metal-Is Records)
Original Release: 1980, Capitol Records

Track Listing:
1. “Prowler” … 3:53
2. “Sanctuary” … 3:13
3. “Remember Tomorrow” … 5:28
4. “Running Free” … 3:16
5. “Phantom of the Opera” … 7:07
6. “Transylvania” [instrumental] … 4:06
7. “Strange World” … 5:42
8. “Charlotte the Harlot” … 4:12
9. “Iron Maiden” … 3:36

Paul Di’Anno – Lead Vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Dennis Stratton – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Harris – Bass, Backing Vocals
Clive Burr – Drums

Produced by: Will Malone

Years ago, I went nuts and snatched up *most* of Maiden’s albums, specifically the 1998 enhanced versions. Before Bruce Dickinson, there was Paul Di’Anno, who brings something totally different to the table than Bruce’s flying vocals do. Paul’s voice is rougher and gritty and it fits the heavy metal played here, which is more punk-influenced than the band’s later progressive sounds.

Bruce is THE Maiden singer, but Paul does a fine job and this is still a classic in Maiden’s catalog.

The enhanced version features some cool stuff once you pop it in your PC: music videos, album art, lyrics, tour dates for the specific album… All kinds of neat stuff.

Highlights: “Prowler”, “Remember Tomorrow”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Transylvania”, “Charlotte the Harlot”

MARVELOUS 3 – ReadySexGo

Marvelous 3 – ReadySexGo (2000, Elektra Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Little Head” … 3:19
2. “Grant Park” … 3:42
3. “Get Over” … 3:57
4. “Sugarbuzz” … 3:40
5. “Supernatural Blonde” … 3:11
6. “Radio Tokyo” … 5:14
7. “Cold as Hell” … 3:10
8. “Beautiful” … 4:04
9. “I’m Losing You” … 3:18
10. “This Time” … 3:13
11. “Better off Alone” … 2:46
12. “I Could Change” … 3:29
13. “Cigarette Lighter Love Song” … 5:06
14. [Credits] … 10:00

Butch Walker – Vocals, Guitar
Jayce Fincher – Bass
Doug Mitchell (aka – Mitch “Slug” McLee) – Drums

Produced by: Butch Walker

The third and final album from the awesome Marvelous 3 (all three members were former members of the hair band SouthGang). Despite having a hit in ’99, with “Freak of the Week”, I had never heard of the band until this album was about to come out and Metal Sludge was hyping it up and did an interview with Butch Walker. I picked it up and it instantly became one of my favorite albums and still is. Everything song is a great sing-along anthem and why this album didn’t go platinum 7x over and Marvelous 3 aren’t still together is a reflection on just how screwed up the music industry has been for the past decade (or more). Sadly, even with the solid buzz of their previous album, Hey! Album, ReadySexGo only managed to scrape the bottom of the Billboard 200 peaking at #196. >=(

The lyrics are absolutely great, very witty and funny. A great play on words throughout and Butch Walker wrote the whole album by himself, except for “Cigarette Lighter Love Song”, which he co-wrote with David Bowie. Every song is extremely catchy, perfect for radio, and a great blend of hard rock, hair/glam metal, pop, and punk pop.

Even though I believe (as does the band) that Elektra dropped the ball with this release, I think “Sugar Buzz” was a poor choice as a lead single. Even though it’s good, it’s actually the lesser of all the songs here. I do remember it receiving a bit of airplay on the local rock station though… for about a week. The band broke up less than a year after this album’s release.

At the end of “Radio Tokyo”, there’s a great phone message from Nikki Sixx to the band… “Fuck! Your fucking band is bad-ass. Call me! Fuck! I’m blown away, man. That second song knocked my dick in the dirt. Bye.” =D

Butch has gone on to be a successful producer/songwriter for other artists such as Avril Lavigne, Bowling for Soup, Pink, Lindsay Lohan, Simple Plan, Sevendust, The Donnas, Pete Yorn, The Academy Is…, American Hi-Fi, All-American Rejects, Fall Out Boy and SR-71. He also releases albums under his own name.

Highlights: “Grant Park”, “Get Over”, “Radio Tokyo”, “Cold As Hell”, “Beautiful”, “I’m Losing You”, “Better off Alone”, “Cigarette Lighter Love Song” (Inactive fan site, but the best I could find!)

DUFF MCKAGAN – Believe In Me

Duff McKagan – Believe In Me (1993, Geffen Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Believe in Me” … 3:23
2. “I Love You” … 4:14
3. “Man in the Meadow” … 4:50
4. “(Fucked up) Beyond Belief” … 3:29
5. “Could It Be You” … 3:08
6. “Just Not There” … 3:34
7. “Punk Rock Song” … 1:37
8. “The Majority” … 3:10
9. “10 Years” … 4:29
10. “Swamp Song” … 3:04
11. “Trouble” … 3:12
12. “Fuck You” … 3:24
13. “Lonely Tonite” … 3:03

Duff McKagan – Vocals, Background Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Synthesizer, Piano, Drums

Additional Musicians (*deep breath*):
Billy Nasty – Harmony Vocals
Bobbie Brown-Lane – Background Vocals on “Believe In Me”
Dizzy Reed – Background Vocals, Piano, Farfisa Organ
Doc – Vocals on “Fuck You”
Gilby Clarke – Background Vocals, Guitar on “10 Years”
Jeff Beck – Guitar on “Swamp Song” and “(Fucked Up) Beyond Belief”
Joie Mastrokolos – Background Vocals on “Swamp Song” and “Fuck You”
Lenny Kravitz – Vocals on “The Majority”
Matt Sorum – Drums on “(Fucked Up) Beyond Belief”
Rob Affuso – Drums on “Fuck You”
Sebastian Bach – Vocals on “Trouble”
Slam – Background Vocals on “Trouble”
Slash – Guitar on “Believe In Me” and “Just Not There”
Snake – Guitar on “Lonely Tonite” and “Trouble”
Suicide Horns – Horns on “Lonely Tonite”
Ted Andreadis – Organ, Clavinet
West Arkeen – Guitar on “Fuck You”, “Man in the Meadow” and “Swamp Song”

Produced by: Duff McKagan & Jim Mitchell

Whenever there was some GNR downtime, Duff would hop into whatever studio was available to write and record his own stuff. Believe In Me is the result of those spare time sessions and it’s a great album. I found it really cheap about 10 years ago in the used section of the ridiculousy overpriced Turtles Music (probably why that chain isn’t around anymore) and have cherished it ever since.

GNR turned in the weird The Spaghetti Incident? cover album in ’93, but Duff turned in something that same year that is pretty close to something of a Use Your Illusion III. Minus the epic and grandiose songs of Axl, this is pretty much a GNR sounding album circa early 90s. All the then-current Gunners performed on the album (except Axl, of course) and a few other high profile artists helped out as well like Jeff Beck, Lenny Kravitz, and Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach and Rob Affuso. Heck, even Jani Lane’s girl made a guest appearance!

Lenny Kravitz particuarly does a great job on “The Majority”. Just listen to his opening “YEEEEAAAH!!!!” and tell me that’s not awesome. Sebastian Bach brings it as well when he channels Axl on “Trouble”. I even like the rap-rock song “Fuck You” with rapper Doc “from the Mob”, whoever that is. But the rest is all Duff, bringing that his punk style of singing over GNR quality tunes.

A definite must for GNR fans as it doesn’t stray too far from that tree.

Highlights: “Believe in Me”, “(Fucked Up) Beyond Belief”, “Could It Be You”, “Just Not There”, “The Majority”, “Swamp Song”, “Trouble”, “Fuck You”, “Lonely Tonite”

Duff has no personal site or MySpace that I could find (looks like there’s a few dummy MySpace accounts though), so I recommend these sites to see what he’s up to these days in Velvet Revolver and his side project, Loaded:

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