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Most Disappointing Albums of 2009

Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot

I’m surprised this album is showing up on so many “best of 2009” lists because upon its release, I didn’t see a lot of glowing reviews. In some ways, this album is exactly what I expected — a competent yet lifeless release. Not that anyone believed him, but Sammy did the band no favors by claiming Chickenfoot was creating music as good as or better than Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. Perhaps he was referring to Van Halen III. Because, yeah, I’ll give him that — this album is better than Van Halen III. These guys are are professionals and rock legends and I think its great the album has gone gold, but it just didn’t gel for me. I didn’t hear any magic or chemistry. I’m thinking maybe Satriani is the problem and that the band needed someone who had a more loose, rock ‘n’ roll style.

Bon Jovi – The Circle

Okay, so I guess I shouldn’t have been disappointed because the last two Bon Jovi albums have been really lame, but I always hold out hope for these guys considering they’ve one of my favorite bands of all time. The fact that Jon was touting The Circle as a “big rock record” and a return to form really got my hopes up. In one interview, he even likened the album to the band’s ’80s stuff. Um, okay, Jon, what are you listening to because you definitely weren’t spinning New Jersey or Slippery When Wet when trying to get inspired for The Circle. You’ve lost it, man. You can’t write a catchy hard rock stadium anthem to save your life, can you? Richie’s lost it too and I’m starting to think so has Desmond Child.

Tim Ripper Owens – Play My Game

I debated whether to consider this “disappointing” or not but what the heck — it isn’t bad, but it isn’t what I hoped for either. Considering the talent involved, this should’ve been much better and in the long run, there just weren’t many memorable songs (trying to sound too modern) and I don’t think Owens’ voice was properly utilized.

The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off

The Last Vegas is a shining example of the future of rock ‘n’ roll being strong but this release was just plain lazy with six of the eleven songs released just one year prior on the band’s self-released album. The songs are good and I can understand the band wanting to show off some of their best self-released work once getting signed to a label but did they really need to eat up half the album to do that?

Heaven and Hell – The Devil You Know

How could this be? The Devil You Know landed at #9 on my Top 10 of 2009 list! Yes, but given that this is the same band that released Heaven and Hell, Mob Rules and Dehumanizer as Black Sabbath, I couldn’t help but think this album was way too slow and not heavy enough. It’s a respectable effort but doesn’t come close to previous works.

TIM RIPPER OWENS – Play My Game

Tim Ripper Owens – Play My Game (2009, SPV/Steamhammer Records)

1. “Starting Over” … 3:33
2. “Believe” … 4:35
3. “The Cover Up” … 4:30
4. “Pick Yourself Up” … 4:32
5. “It Is Me” … 2:53
6. “No Good Goodbyes” … 3:35
7. “The World Is Blind” … 4:50
8. “To Live Again” … 6:00
9. “The Light” … 4:36
10. “Play My Game” … 4:43
11. “Death Race” … 3:29
12. “The Shadows Are Alive” … 5:35

Band:
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Bob Kulick, Bruce Kulick, Carlos Cavazo, Chris Caffery, Doug Aldrich, Michael Wilton, Jeff Loomis, Steve Stevens – Guitar
Marco Mendoza, Billy Sheehan, Dave Ellefson, Rudy Sarzo, James Lomenzo, Tony Franklin – Bass
Simon Wright, Vinny Appice, Ray Luzier, Bobby Jarzombek – Drums

Produced by: Tim “Ripper” Owens, Bob Kulick, Brett Chassen

This is the debut solo album from ex-Judas Priest/ex-Iced Earth/current Yngwie Malmsteen vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens and it’s a grower. On my initial casual listens, I wasn’t too impressed with it, but the more I listen to it, the more I’m liking it. It’s not an essential 2009 release, but it’s good and I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of Ripper.

Unfortunately, the sales on the album haven’t been too well. Not that I expected this album to get anywhere near Billboard’s top 100, but I figured it would sell a bit more than the reported 827 copies it sold in the first week of release. Ouch. Oh well, be proud, Ripper! You delivered a solid album. Hopefully, this will lead to even more down the line because I never understood why, after Priest, Ripper didn’t immediately fly solo. The closest he’s come to that is forming the band Beyond Fear, but I think just using his own name would’ve been more marketable (though apparently that’s not true anymore…).

I haven’t followed Owens’ career post-Priest, but to me, quite a number of these songs (“Starting Over” and “Believe” for example) sound like what he may have sung while keeping the seat warm for Rob Halford. “Play My Game” is my favorite track and it’s a pretty good tune to workout to.

Highlights: “Starting Over”, “Believe”, “Pick Yourself Up”, “It Is Me”, “No Good Goodbyes”, “To Live Again”, “Play My Game”

www.timripperowens.com
www.myspace.com/timripperowens

Recent purchases

Man, I’ve been on a roll lately with buying music. And I’m not talkin’ iTunes. Nossir! I’m talking about that silver shiny disc that comes in a square plastic case with a little booklet that contains lyrics and artwork and band pics.

I don’t know, I just don’t get the rush of “HEY! NEW MUSIC!” when I think of downloading an album (even if they are usually a few bucks cheaper on iTunes) as compared to going out and finding a physical copy. I’m only 27, you’d think I would be embracing the iTunes era like all the other teens and 20 somethings, but I’m not.

Granted, I mostly have to use the internet to do my CD shopping anyway because Best Buy, Walmart, Target and FYE aren’t really cutting it when it comes to the music *I* want to hear…

Here’s what I’ve ordered in the last few days:

Thin Lizzy – Bad Reputation
Thin Lizzy – Jailbreak
Mercyful Fate – Melissa/In the Beginning
Saxon – Into the Labyrinth
The Last Vegas – Whatever Gets You Off
Tim “Ripper” Owens – Play My Game
Charm City Devils – Let’s Rock-N-Roll
Freakshow – s/t
Wildstreet – s/t

I should be getting the Lizzy & MF albums by Friday or Saturday and the rest should appear by the end of next week. Obviously, reviews will be coming once I feel I’ve gotten a good enough handle on the albums and man, is that list of “albums to review” still gigantic! I’ve got plenty of material even if I don’t receive/buy any new albums for the rest of the year.

JUDAS PRIEST – Demolition

Judas Priest – Demolition (2001, Atlantic Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Machine Man” … 5:35
2. “One on One” … 6:44
3. “Hell Is Home” … 6:18
4. “Jekyll and Hyde” … 3:19
5. “Close to You” … 4:28
6. “Devil Digger” … 4:45
7. “Bloodsuckers” … 6:18
8. “In Between” … 5:41
9. “Feed on Me” … 5:28
10. “Subterfuge” … 5:12
11. “Lost and Found” … 4:57
12. “Cyberface” … 6:45
13. “Metal Messiah” … 5:14

Band:
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Vocals
K.K. Downing – Guitar
Glenn Tipton – Guitar
Ian Hill – Bass
Scott Travis – Drums

Produced by: Glenn Tipton

I was pretty excited about this release as I had been snatching up Judas Priest’s back catalog and they were quickly becoming one of my favorite bands. Even the absence of Rob Halford (the second album without his vocals) could not deter my enthusiasm. This was also my first “new” Priest CD.

I tried to get into it this album, I really did! I wanted both Halford’s solo band AND Judas Priest to be successful bands with great albums, but Priest just wasn’t up to it here. The album sounds very modern, and very metal, but not very Priest-like. Though I certainly respect’em for pushing forward and going for a heavier, more current sound.

I can’t knock it and say Demolition is “bad”, it’s just kinda there, kinda bland, but it does feature a few bright spots. No offense to Ripper, but I’m happy Rob is back in the group.

Highlights: “Hell Is Home”, “Close to You”, “In Between”

www.judaspriest.com
www.myspace.com/judaspriest

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