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Various Artists – Live and Heavy [Review]

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Various Artists – Live and Heavy
1981, NEMS Records

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”

Stryper – The Covering

Stryper – The Covering (2011, Big3 Records)

1. “Set Me Free” … 3:45
2. “Blackout” … 3:58
3. “Heaven and Hell” … 6:11
4. “Lights Out” … 3:44
5. “Carry On Wayward Son” … 5:16
6. “Highway Star” … 5:45
7. “Shout It Out Loud” … 3:15
8. “Over the Mountain” … 4:21
9. “The Trooper” … 3:53
10. “Breaking the Law” … 3:02
11. “On Fire” … 3:08
12. “Immigrant Song”  … 2:18
13. “God” … 4:55

Band:
Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Oz Fox – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Timothy Gaines – Bass, Backing Vocals
Robert Sweet – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Charles Foley – Keyboards, Organ, Piano

Producer: Michael Sweet

And Stryper continues their trend for having AWFUL album covers. =P

Luckily, the album art is not a good indicator of the music itself because this is seriously one great album of covers! When I first heard it was going to be a cover album, I kind of rolled my eyes. That’s usually a sign that a band is slowing down and/or giving up on new material but then they started releasing all these samples and they sounded amazing. I guess the band has caught some flack from their Christian fanbase for having the gall to cover secular music and evil bands such as Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and KISS but whatever. Get over yourselves! Christian acts don’t need to be singing about God & Jesus in every single song. Just because you want to cover Van Halen and Scorpions it doesn’t mean you’ve turned your back on the Lord.

Anyway, what a great line-up of bands to cover! In order, they are: Sweet, Scorpions, Black Sabbath, UFO, Kansas, Deep Purple, KISS, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. The only original song of the bunch is “God” which is a fantastic hard rocker that just doesn’t let up and gives me hope that maybe the band will put out an entirely new and original album later this year.

It was Murder By Pride that pulled me onto the Stryper bandwagon. That was a very good album. Sometimes a veteran act seems to be going through the motions even when they release new material but that wasn’t the case then and even though the band is covering songs here, they still sound energetic and on fire. “God” gives me hope that maybe the band will put out an entirely new and original album later this year because they are on a roll.

The band stays pretty faithful to the source material only making slight alterations here and there but these are some killer covers. “Blackout” and “Lights Out” are pure fire and it’s interesting to hear Michael Sweet vocals on these songs. I think he’s got a unique singing style and it’s interesting hearing him find some middle ground between his own style and the styles in which these songs were originally sung.

One of the better cover albums I’ve heard. Essential pickup for 2011.

Highlights: “Set Me Free”, “Blackout”, “Lights Out”, “Shout It Out Loud”, “On Fire”, “God”

http://www.stryper.com/
http://www.facebook.com/Stryper

Buy ‘The Covering’ at Amazon.com

UFO – The Essential UFO

UFO – The Essential UFO (1992, EMI/Chrysalis Records)

1. “Doctor Doctor” … 4:07
2. “Rock Bottom” … 6:30
3. “Out In The Street” … 5:10
4. “Mother Mary” … 3:45
5. “Natural Thing” … 4:00
6. “I’m A Loser” … 3:48
7. “Only You Can Rock Me” … 4:05
8. “Lookin’ Out For No. 1” … 4:32
9. “Cherry” … 3:32
10. “Born To Lose” … 3:33
11. “Too Hot To Handle” … 3:37
12. “Lights Out” … 4:31
13. “Love To Love” … 7:36
14. “This Kids (live)” … 4:50
15. “Let It Roll (live)” … 4:51
16. “Shoot Shoot (live)” … 4:05

Band:
Phil Mogg – Vocals
Michael Schenker – Guitar
Paul Raymond – Guitar, Keyboard
Pete Way – Bass
Andy Parker – Drums
Danny Peyronel – Keyboard

I bought this album only a few years ago for two reasons: UFO came highly recommended by a co-worker and for the Scorpions connection with Michael Schenker.

Being a “best of” compilation, the album is very good, but for whatever reason, it never inspired me to go pick up any of their other releases.

Highlights: “Doctor Doctor”, “Rock Bottom”, “I’m A Loser”, “Lookin’ Out For No. 1”, “Cherry”, “Born to Lose”, “Too Hot to Handle”, “Lights Out”

TESLA – Real to Reel

Tesla – Real to Reel (2007, Tesla Electric Company Recordings/Rykodisc Records)

1. “Space Truckin'” [Deep Purple] … 4:48
2. “Walk Away” [The James Gang] … 4:20
3. “Hand Me Down World” [The Guess Who] … 3:44
4. “Bad Reputation” [Thin Lizzy] … 4:40
5. “Thank You” [Led Zeppelin] … 4:47
6. “I’ve Got A Feeling” [The Beatles] … 4:26
7. “Day Of the Eagle” [Robin Trower] … 5:01
8. “Ball Of Confusion” [The Temptations] … 4:25
9. “Rock Bottom” [UFO] … 8:45
10. “Stealin’ ” [Uriah Heep] … 4:02
11. “Bell Bottom Blues” [Derek and the Dominos] … 4:58
12. “Honky Tonk Women” [The Rolling Stones] … 3:26
13. “Dear Mr. Fantasy” [Traffic] … 6:37

Band:
Jeff Keith – Lead Vocals
Frank Hannon – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Dave Rude – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brian Wheat – Bass, Piano, Backing Vocals
Troy Luccketta – Drums

Produced by: Tom Zutaut

This was one of the soundtracks to the summer of ’07 for me. A lot of decent stuff came out that spring and summer and this was one of the albums I listened to. Honestly, though, it’s a good release, I don’t think it’s anyting special.

These are covers of primarily 1960s/1970s blues rock (though a Temptations cover manages to sneak in) and therein lies the problem — I’m not a fan of those decades. I’m certainly not a fan of the 60s at all, though the 70s did start to kick things up a notch in that decade’s later years. Out of all the bands who are being covered, there are only four I have a passing interest in: Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, and UFO. Even then, I wouldn’t really call myself a “fan” of those bands. I’ve committed rock blasphemy, I know.

So this album isn’t a home run (cover albums usually aren’t) but there are a few songs that held my interest. “Space Truckin'” is a great cover of the Deep Purple classic and Tesla does an amazing version of UFO’s “Rock Bottom”.

The packaging for this album includs a spot for you to place to the CD of Real to Reel, Volume 2, which was initially only available by buying tickets to one of their summer concerts. It was later released commercially.

Highlights: “Space Truckin””, “Bad Reputation”, “Ball of Confusion”, “Rock Bottom”, “Bell Bottom Blues”

www.teslatheband.com
www.myspace.com/teslatheband

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

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