MOVIE REVIEW: Mystique – Standing on the Firing Line (Guest video review by Uncle Meat)

Thanks to Marco D’Auria for the use of three exclusive movie clips in this review.

REVIEW: Def Leppard – Viva! Hysteria – Live at the Joint, Las Vegas (Part 2 – CD 2 & bonus features)

Part Forty-Three of the Def Leppard Review Series

DEF LEPPARD – Viva! Hysteria – Live at the Joint, Las Vegas (Part 2 – CD 2 & bonus features) (2013 Bludgeon Riffola)

When Def Leppard rocked Vegas, they rocked it with far more than just a faithful live reproduction of the Hysteria album.  They also “opened” for themselves as “Ded Flatbird”, and treated the diehards to a set of 15 deep cuts and lesser hits.  For many, this is in fact the superior part of the show.  Indeed, Leppard really pulled some surprises out of the bag, finally satisfying a number of fans who perennially complained, “Why don’t they play ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’?”  With a wink and a smile, they did.  They performed two completely different sets as Ded Flatbird, on March 29 and March 30 2013.

Beginning with the March 29 set, the unlisted intro is a bit of “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, which is not present on the CD, only the DVD.  Then it’s onto the first shocker of the night, and probably the biggest:  non-album B-side “Good Morning Freedom”, from the single “Hello America“.  Straight-ahead riff rock.  It sounds surprisingly at home with the current version of Leppard.  Phil rips a solo and Rick Allen can’t wipe the smile off his face.  For the occasion of opening for himself, Phil Collen wears a shirt.  (Appropriate for an “opening act”, the backdrop is a simple union jack flag, hiding the big screens that would come out for the main set.)

As soon as “Good Morning Freedom” has struck its final chord, and standing in front of a stack of EVH amps, Phil rips into the delicious “Wasted” single.  This song from the first album is the one fans have been begging for, for years.  Joe’s voice is lower and rougher, and perhaps even more effective.  The song is still lethal!  That riff could be the most devastating one in their entire catalogue.

From Pyromania, “Stagefright” is another welcome inclusion.  Joe struggles with the challenging screamin’ vocals but he does the job.  He doesn’t cheat the notes.  This is the Leppard that fans have been wanting to see live all this time.  Then another shock:  from High ‘n’ Dry it’s “Mirror Mirror”!  Joe introduces Ded Flatbird as the best Def Leppard cover band in the world, and he must be right.  The tackle this, one of early Leppard’s sharpest and most melodically riffy songs, with ease.

Joe claims his name is “Booty Ruben” as they kick into the Sweet cover “Action”.  There are several official live versions out there.  This is one of ’em.  Not a song necessary for anyone to need another live version of, but once again Rick Allen can’t seem to stop smiling.  Back to the oldies, it’s another surprise with the early single “Rock Brigade”.  Perhaps by adopting the alternate identity of Booty Ruben (who swears Joe Elliott is a nice guy!), Joe is able to sing these old lyrics from a lifetime ago without feeling too silly.  He sounds awesome on the On Through the Night material.  Their music hadn’t got really screamy yet and Joe rocks it with ease.

Another surprise comes next, albeit a more recent one.  From their last album, Mirror Ball, is the rarely played “Undefeated”.  Though not one of their most outstanding songs, even the generic “Undefeated” deserves to be heard live at least once.  This is to date the only live version you can buy.  “Promises” from Euphoria is the last song of this set, and it sounds really great live with rich backing vocals.

The March 30 Ded Flatbird set brings us another set of delight.  After “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, they go right into “On Through the Night” from High ‘n’ Dry.  A bit “Achilles Last Stand”, isn’t it?  Screamin’ Joe manages well.

The surprising “Slang” from 1996 introduces modern beats.  It sounds good live, if a bit under-energetic.  Sounds like it’s just a little shy of full concert electricity.  But that’s OK.  If energy is what you need, then Leppard come at you with both barrels for the remainder of the set:  it’s all of side one of High ‘n’ Dry, in sequence.  “That ain’t good enough?” asks Joe/Booty.  No, no, it’s plenty good, this is what we have been asking for all this time!

“Let It Go” powers the show forward.  Amazing how close they nail it considering the Def Leppard of today has two different guitar players than the band of 1981.  Yet “Let It Go” is the triumph you want it to be.  “Another Hit and Run” is pure smoke.  Full speed ahead, Screamin’ Joe givin’ it all he’s got, and Viv and Phil ripping the solos while Rick and Rick keep blasting it forward.  “High ‘n’ Dry (Saturday Night)” brings the tempo down but the temperature up.  What a riff, and what a fist pumper.

The closing pair of “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” and “Switch 625” are a thrilling way to end this set.  Like a true guitar duo, Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen walk together to the ramp protruding from the front of the stage, and play “Switch 625” united.  It’s beautiful.  Not to be left out, Ricks Allen and Savage then get a bass/drum outro together.

The DVD has a few more extras to discuss.  There’s a brief and somewhat pointless photo gallery, to the tune of “Animal” live.  None of the photos are on screen long enough to really study.  A better bonus is the “Acoustic Medley”, which is on the DVD but not on CD, except in Japan where it was included as the bonus track.  We’ll discuss this awesome bonus next time.

Viva! Hysteria is an excellent package from top to bottom.  The band were fearless, playing material that they have shied away from for years.  Two CDs, one DVD, and a total of 30 tracks.  Leppard worked hard to get these songs into shape live, and Joe in particular had a lot of challenging material to sing.  They pulled it off, with flying colours, proving that Def Leppard are just as good as they ever were.

5/5 stars

Previous:  

  1. The Early Years Disc One – On Through the Night 
  2. The Early Years Disc Two – High N’ Dry
  3. The Early Years Disc Three – When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Live at the New Theater Oxford – 1980
  4. The Early Years Disc Four – Too Many Jitterbugs – EP, singles & unreleased
  5. The Early Years Disc 5 – Raw – Early BBC Recordings 
  6. The Early Years 79-81 (Summary)
  7. Pyromania
  8. Pyromania Live – L.A. Forum, 11 September 1983
  9. Hysteria
  10. Soundtrack From the Video Historia – Record Store Tales
  11. In The Round In Your Face DVD
  12. “Let’s Get Rocked” – The Wait for Adrenalize – Record Store Tales
  13. Adrenalize
  14. Live at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
  15. Retro-Active
  16. Visualize
  17. Vault: Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits / Limited Edition Live CD
  18. Video Archive
  19. “Slang” CD single
  20. Slang
  21. I Got A Bad Feeling About This: Euphoria – Record Store Tales
  22. Euphoria
  23. Rarities 2
  24. Rarities 3
  25. Rarities 4
  26. Cybernauts – Live
  27. Cybernauts – The Further Adventures of the Cybernauts (bonus disc)
  28. X
  29. Best Of (UK)
  30. Rock Of Ages: The Definitive Collection
  31. Yeah!
  32. Yeah! Bonus CD With Backstage Interviews
  33. Yeah…Nah!  (Record Store Tales)
  34. Songs From the Sparkle Lounge
  35. “C’Mon C’Mon” (picture disc)
  36. Taylor Swift & Def Leppard – CMT Crossroads (DVD)
  37. B.Sides
  38. Yeah! II
  39. Yeah! Live
  40. Mirror Ball: Live & More (Japan bonus track)
  41. iTunes Re-recordings
  42. Viva! Hysteria (CD 1 & DVD)

Next:

44. Viva! Hysteria (Japanese bonus track)
45. Slang (2014 Deluxe bonus tracks)
46. “Helen Wheels” (from The Art of McCartney)
47. Def Leppard (Deluxe and Japanese versions)

“Sabotage” Live on Letterman by the Beastie Boys on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Everybody loved “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys right from the moment it was released.  Eschewing some of the trappings of their more recent albums, the Beasties picked up some guitars and drum sticks and rapped over rock and roll.  With Ad-Rock on guitar and lead vocals, MCA on bass, and Mike D on drums, the band proved they could pull it off live on Letterman in 1994.

Ill Communication was one of the Beastie’s most successful albums thanks to “Sabotage”, entering the charts at #1.  The track was used in an episode of Futurama, two Star Trek movies, and a Weird Al cover on American Dad.

Live on Letterman, filled out with record scratching and organ breaks, “Sabotage” really comes to life.  The Beastie Boys always had a confident swagger, and they managed to maintain that vibe even when playing live as a band on national television.  This version of “Sabotage” kicks!

Gallery: Mullet Magnets

We just got a new fridge and Jen is making me get rid of my mullet fridge magnets.  Which mullet did you have?

I think mine was closest to the Kentucky Waterfall.

 

REVIEW: Rush – “Caravan” / “BU2B” (2010 CD single)

RUSH – “Caravan” / “BU2B” (2010 CD Anthem single)

“Parts one and two of Clockwork Angels, a work in progress”.

That’s pretty monumental.  Rush were releasing two key tracks from their forthcoming studio album, a full concept album this time, well in advance.  Two years in advance.  Notably, this was a full concept album start to finish.  In the 70s, Rush were more known for half concept, half non-conceptual records.  The bands that Rush inspired like Queensryche and Dream Theater had done full concepts.  Now the original masters were taking a shot.

On the final album, “Caravan” is track one and “BU2B” is track two.  On this single the order is swapped.  “BU2B” (“Brought Up to Believe”) opens, although its intro changes on the album version.  “BU2B” absolutely slams.  “I was brought up to believe that the universe has a plan…”  Perhaps it opens this single because it sums up the overall album concept.  In a fictional world run precisely by a “Watchmaker”, a rebellious protagonist feels pulled in a direction different from that assigned to his life.  Questioning his reality, he embarks on his own adventures despite his mandated mundane role in society.  Musically, after the metallic riff has done its business, Neil Peart takes the spotlight a moment as the song shifts.  Geddy lays down the heavy bottom end while Alex strikes hither and yon with lightning-like licks.  Clearly a classic in the making.

“Caravan”, the final album opener, sounds pretty much the same as the record.  It establishes the setting, “in a world lit only by fire…”  The riff is a major feature, a deliberate, descending rock monster that feels just right in the guts.  The lyrics paint a picture of a steampunk world, half explored, with alchemy and ancient knowledge.

Clockwork Angels wound up as one of the greatest final albums by any band anywhere any time.  This single is a nice add-on, a reminder of the long careful gestation period that created a masterpiece.

4.5/5 stars

#1014: Integrity

RECORD STORE TALES #1014: Integrity

Although I keep complaining about views being down, therefore ad revenues also being down, I have turned down an advertising opportunity for this site.  Normally this would not be anything to write an article about, but something about it didn’t feel right from the start.  Sharing my experience with readers might offer some interesting insight.

I have done paid “advertorials” in the past.  Most notably, I received an offer from someone representing Guns N’ Roses to post a “review roundup” by a guest author.  No problem.  We agreed on a price and I was sent a well-written article with links.  I posted it and the client was happy.  I posted it as a guest editorial, since I didn’t write it.  No issue from the Guns camp.  Everyone was happy.  (I had another advertorial offer from Kiss but I was on hiatus at that time.)

I frequently get offers to run ads for online casinos and other things that have nothing to do with music.  I have always turned them down.  This site is supposed to be about music, but it’s so schizophrenic topic-wise that I don’t want to make it worse by running articles about online gambling.  Easy to say no to those, regardless of the money involved.

This week I received another offer from a search engine optimization company based out of India.  The email was from a “Digital Marketing Executive”.

“I just landed on your blog fanpage ‘MikeLeBrain’ and was wondering if you’re accepting guest posts on your blog,” he asked.

I’m not sure what “blog fanpage” he was asking about, but I responded yes, I am accepting music-related guest posts.  I let him know my rate in US dollars and he responded in the positive.  He said the article will be well written, and according to my “blog theme”.  But there were some conditions that we didn’t have with the Kiss or Guns N’ Roses offer.  Some that bothered me included:

2) Links should be Dofollow – 1 Client link, 1 internal link, and 2 High authority links.

I don’t know what those terms mean and I didn’t get any clarification.

3) The post must be on the homepage for some time and it should be accessible from the home page (via a relevant category).

As readers know, I post daily.  Not every article I post is going to be accessible from the home page forever.  Generally people use the search function to find a relevant review.  This condition made me uncomfortable.

Now here’s the kicker.

4) Article should not be marked as a sponsored post, paid post, guest post, etc.

That was a dealbreaker.  Guns N’ Roses was clearly a guest post.  They had no issues with that.  If I didn’t write it, it’s automatically a guest post.  That’s what guest post means.

I then responded that I had to decline their offer.  The guest post issue was the problem.  I explained that I had to mark a guest post as such.  I’m not going to have someone else write words and then claim that they’re mine.  No way.  Absolutely no way.

I believe I made the right decision.  The executive ignored my declining email, and continued on.

“We will send you all the details before sending the articles like topic, anchor text and client link for approval.  After the article is written we will send to you for review.  We do not want our post to be marked with any kind of disclosure.  You can publish the article under your writer name, or our writer name.”

For the second time, I declined.  It did not feel right.

“As I said before, I have passed on this.  Not the right fit.  Sorry,” I responded.

Here’s what really sticks in my craw:  “You can publish the article under your writer name.”

No way.  Absolutely no way.  I’m not putting your words down as if they were mine.  No.  Way.

Sure, he added “or our writer name” but to not post it as a guest post?  Just strange.  Nothing about this felt right regardless of the money.  I know I made the right decision, even if I’m losing out on money.  My integrity is worth more than that.

 

#1013: “Joey” – The Joey Tempest Conspiracy, 7 Years Later

RECORD STORE TALES #1013: “Joey” – The Joey Tempest Conspiracy, 7 Years Later

I think with the distance of seven years, we can finally put the Joey Tempest Conspiracy Theory to bed.  “What conspiracy,” you ask?  It all started in March of 2015 when a writer friend of mine, Tommy Morais, contributed an excellent review of the Europe album, War of Kings.  He rated it 4/5 stars, and said “I praise Europe for giving us a true great hard rock record in 2015”.  You’d think there was nothing controversial about Tommy’s review, but on June 13 of that year…everything changed.

A reader going by the name “Carrieanne” dropped a massive, monolithic comment one morning, explaining that Joey Tempest was no longer in fact Joey Tempest.  He had been replaced by a doppleganger.  A satanic one at that.  According to Carrieanne, “since the middle of 1989, the real Joey Tempest is not in this band, and Joey was truly the only one who has made this group huge with his talents, awesomeness and uniqueness!! And since 26 years, there’s such a horrible imposter and liar in this ‘group’, that’s not the real Joey Tempest!!”

“The real Joey Tempest had to leave the group because of this horrible liar!! It’s so obvious and so clear to see that it’s just someone different (unless you’re blind and deaf, like bunch of ignorants [sic]).”  On and on it goes, a massive diatribe praising Joey, attacking the fans who enabled the replacement’s acceptance, and of course, religious weirdness.  “You are worshipping the devil!!!” said Carrieanne.    But all is not lost.  The real Joey, one day, will come back.  There’s a really messianic angle to this whole comment.  Carrieanne ties the lyrics to “Danger on the Track” and “The Final Countdown” to a prophecy of this great replacement, like biblical verse.

“Are you on drugs?” asked Jompa Wilmenius, of E-Tainment News.  Reader Derek commented, “I can see you made the mistake of spilling meth into your coffee this morning champ.”

You can’t help but see similarities to conspiracy theories today.  I’m reminded of Romana Didulo, a woman who claims to be the “Queen of Canada”.  Canada already has a monarch and his name is Charles III, but I digress.  Tens of thousands of followers legitimately believe Didulo to be the legitimate Queen of Canada, as she tours the country in a beat up RV and feeds her followers tins of sardines.  And just like with Queen Romana, acolytes of the weird soon emerged to talk about Joey Tempest.  Things got even weirder.

Admittedly, this next part is kind of my fault.  With co-writer 1537, we cooked up a parody review of War of Kings, playing up the whole replacement angle.  For example, we wrote:  “Just look at the songs here!  ‘Children of the Night’.  The real Joey would never have written a song about ‘children of the night’,  ‘California 405’ is the highway that O.J. Simpson was chased down – a definite clue that there was something more going on here than meets the eye!  Why would Europe specifically reference that notorious highway unless they were implying some sort of wrongdoing behind the scenes?”

We guffawed and high-fived and hoped Carrieanne would drop another bizarre comment.  That is not exactly what happened.

While everyone else seemed to get the joke, someone named Doreen, who typed completely in capslock, said:  “I know Joey Tempest, and can I assure you that this is completely and utterly ludicrous.

We laughed some more, as one person clearly did not get the joke.  We thought it was pretty obvious.  With lines such as “Joey would NEVER let his hair go flat like that, wake up people,” I really did think it was an obvious joke post.

We mocked Doreen a bit, but then shortly after, a new player entered the field.  Miranda, claiming to be Joey’s wife, also did not get the joke.  “Must post fast since I’m sure the guys in white coats [are] coming for ya,” she said.  Miranda claimed to have Joey Tempest’s birth certificate, marriage certificate, childrens’ birth certificates, and a DNA report.  (I’m not sure what good a DNA report will do us.)

I followed Miranda to her YouTube channel, where she goes by the name “TheMirandaTempest”.  On this page, she has poorly dubbed her vocals onto classic Europe ballads, to create fake “duets” with her “husband” Joey.  Joey’s wife, incidentally, was also publicly known to be Lisa Worthington, not somebody named Miranda.  So now, we had two different delusions.  We had Carrieanne who said Joey Tempest was replaced by a satanic doppleganger in some bizarre conspiracy.  Now we also had Miranda, who was posing as Joey’s wife online.  And things would get even weirder still.

We know now that there was at least one Facebook page posing as Joey Tempest at that time.  Imposters, of the online variety, were of actual concern.  You can see why as we go on.

As Miranda’s comment was thoroughly mocked by readers, others came to her defence.  Doreen claimed again she knew the real Joey Tempest, but I think the person she knew was probably that fake Joey on Facebook.  Once she realized that several commenters were trying to explain the joke to her, she became angry.  She did not find it funny.  Neither did Joey Tempest, or his wife, she claimed.

Ironically, I had heard from Jompa Wilmenius that the real John Levén of Europe did find it funny.

Soon, Doreen’s partner Billy Low entered the fray.

“Joakim Larsson [Joey’s real name] and his wife are personal friends of mine. They are also personal friends of my partner. We ask him to do cover versions of songs for us, which he does. We also met him recently. A fake? Plastic surgery? Don’t make me laugh! Are you one of those who is going to write a book about this, hoping to make money? If so, forget that idea. Anyone with even a shred of common sense would know that what you are claiming is pure fabrication. If l wasn’t so furious about this, l can assure you that l would laugh my head off!”

They met him recently.  They. Met. Him. Recently.  Whooboy.  His wife Miranda…”You read what Joey’s wife has said on here,” said Billy Low.  The person claiming to be his wife, who is not his wife, because his wife was Lisa Worthington, you mean.

It’s really easy to understand how the Queen of Canada has followers when you see stuff like this.  She’s told her followers not to pay their bills, as Canada is illegitimate.  She is the Queen, and she says don’t pay your bills.  So these Canadians — homeowners! — are having their electricity turned off.  This is happening as we speak.  And they believe in their Queen even harder.

The very active comments section rolled on, with one comparing the situation to Matthew Trippe who claimed to be Nikki Sixx at one point.

I later received a threat on Facebook from Billy Low, because I misgendered him as a woman.  I didn’t know.  I just assumed it was a group of Joey fangirls.  When he said Doreen was his “partner” that didn’t clear it up.  The best part about this is that it drew out someone actually claiming to be Joey Tempest.  Posted Joey:  “The ‘real’ Joey Tempest is alive and well and still the same person,but even Rockstars have their secrets!!!!!!!!

From the comments’ IP addresses, I learned the following.  Billy and Doreen didn’t even live on the same continent as Miranda, so I’m not sure how they are close personal friends.  Carrieann was in Poland, and had the same IP address as another commenter “Someone X”.  It was all so very strange.

Strange, yet in the context of what we see in the world today, pretty tame stuff.  Nobody’s losing their house because they think Joey was replaced by a satanic lookalike, or because they pose as Joey’s wife online.  As least, we hope they don’t.

Billy Low accused me of making the story up to write a book and make money.  While that was certainly untrue, I admittedly did milk the posts for hits as much as I could.  They were very popular!  One or more of the Joey Tempest posts tended to stay in the top 10 for hits, for a long time.  I won’t apologize for that.  Entertaining the masses can be a thankless job.  I probably earned enough in advertizing dollars from the Joey posts to buy a few coffees.  Sue me, Billy!

REVIEW: KISS – Off the Soundboard – Des Moines 11.29.1977 (2022)

Off the Soundboard – Des Moines November 29 1977 (2022 Universal)

We are now at the fourth Off the Soundboard series release from Kiss, and this is the most hyped yet.  It’s the second original lineup release in the series, but the first from the classic era.  This time we travel back with Ace, Peter, Gene and Paul to the Alive II tour.  Arguably the pinnacle before things began to slowly crumble, this Alive II show is unsurprisingly loaded with Kiss firepower.  However, with only one CD, it’s the shortest in the series so far.  It does appear to include everything they played that night.

Opening with the brand new “I Stole Your Love”, Kiss truly were on fire.  Playing fast, tight and enthused, this is the Kiss of legend, the Kiss we have heard stories of!  Unaltered Kiss live in their prime!  The sound is, as expected, bootleggy, but pretty solid considering it’s 45 years old.  Paul’s vocals are so good they can bring a tear to your eye, remembering the Starchild when he was bulletproof.

“King of the Night Time World”, still second in the set, benefits from Peter Criss’ trademark pitter-patter.  Ace is a bit shrill at the beginning, but it’s 1977 technology.  Star Wars was brand new and the Space Ace was in his element.  He always harmonized well with Paul, which he does on “King”.  Paul then invites the girls to meet ’em in the “Ladies Room”, which means it’s Gene’s turn to sing.  Gene messed up some lyrics:  “You say you like to play, well, yes you play with me anyway.”  Or something like that.  Sounds like his bassline is also off.  Doesn’t matter, in fact that makes it even more cool.  A snapshot of a moment in time.  It’s all more of less buried in the glorious noise they call live rock and roll.  The crowd certainly didn’t care.

Paul tells them that Kiss had a good feelin’ about comin’ back to Iowa.  Temperature’s rising, so they gotta call out the “Firehouse”!  A lot faster than album and more like Kiss Alive!, this version of “Firehouse” is incendiary for all its energy and flaws.  The only misfire is Paul’s intro to “Love Gun” itself.  He’s certainly done better.  “When it comes to shootin’, we ain’t gonna miss!”  You just did, Paul!  Fortunately the song is just as kicking as ever, with Paul absolutely roaring.  This is the Kiss I remember growing up with.  Unstoppable energy.  The power remains high on “Let Me Go, Rock ‘N Roll”.  In a quaint blast from the past, Paul wants to see some lights in the crowd, some matches!  This is a song that always sounds best with Ace Frehley on lead guitar, and those who love the Spaceman will appreciate his fearless fretwork and signature technique all over it.

A chunky “Makin’ Love” is a set highlight, all riff and bass with Paul audibly jumping around haphazardly.  Peter is awesome on this.  “Christine Sixteen” is a bit clunky and awkward, as is Paul’s intro.  The less said the better.  “Christine Sixteen” falls into place on the chorus.  Their vocals here are an excellent example of Kiss’ ability to actually sing.  Then the moment you have been waiting for:  Paul says they got a surprise, and Ace Frehley’s gonna do “Shock Me”.  This version of “Shock Me” is up there with the better ones and of course Ace gets his big solo at the end.  It’s not just the Alive II solo, it’s a different beast and by the middle, Ace gets his Les Paul roaring.

The gentle intro of “I Want You” is just a feint, we all know that the song absolutely slams.  Ace’s guitar stings on the verses, and he gets to take an extra solo at the end just before Paul goes into his “I waaaa-aaa-aaaant!” tease with the crowd.  Then he queries whether everybody’s ready to take their medicine?  It’s time to call out “Dr. Love” and Gene is loving it.  “Shout It Out Loud” follows, at a fast tempo similar to its Alive II rendition.  The vocals are better though; you can really hear Peter Criss in the back.  His drumwork is manic too.  Great rendition of “Shout It Out Loud” and one of the best on CD.

Gene’s bass solo precedes “God of Thunder”.  It’s noise; just bass through a digital processor. Skippable noise.  “God of Thunder” itself is much better, containing a Gene/Peter groove that doesn’t always fall right into the pocket like this one does.  Then the Catman gets his drum solo, which is better and longer than the Alive II rendition.  (Gene’s vocals are also better, way more aggressive.)

“Rock and Roll all Nite” is the last song of the main set, the rock and roll national anthem according to Paul.  Like many of the songs, it’s faster too.  Very cool to hear both Ace and Peter on backing vocals quite clearly.  The Spaceman’s solo is sloppy stuttery greatness, and it’s hard not to enjoy this song that we already have live in dozens of incarnations.

Onto the encores:  “Detroit”, of course “Beth”, and the finale “Black Diamond”.  “Detroit” opens with a mistake and Kiss quickly recover, driving the thing into oncoming traffic with a reckless devil-may-care attitude.  By this point in the show, Kiss are playing on adrenaline and missing some of the parts.  Which is half the thrill.  As for “Beth”:  it’s “Beth”.  No more no less, though there is a lot of tape noise.  Peter’s vocals are so-so.  He struggles when he has to be tender, but he blasts on “Black Diamond”, which oddly opens with full band introductions which you rarely hear at a Kiss concert.  Paul gets a spotlight moment to play around with the “Black Diamond” intro on guitar before he starts singing.  Pound for pound, this is one of the best versions of “Black Diamond” by the original lineup out there.  From the vocals to the Ace soloing, to the explosive outro, this is one of the best renditions hands down.

Now that the vaults have been opened and we’re getting classic shows from the original lineup, the sky’s the limit what could come next.  This is the best one so far.  Let’s hope for an Eric Carr show soon.

4.5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Def Leppard – Viva! Hysteria – Live at the Joint, Las Vegas (Part 1 – DVD & CD 1)

Part Forty-Two of the Def Leppard Review Series

DEF LEPPARD – Viva! Hysteria – Live at the Joint, Las Vegas (Part 1 – DVD & CD 1) (2013 Bludgeon Riffola)

In the long history of Def Leppard, one of the greatest things they did was go to Vegas and play all of Hysteria live in sequence.  Joe Elliott worked hard on getting his voice in shape to sing those old songs from 25 years before.  Hysteria was an album where every track was meant to be a potential single.  It’s really the most logical of any record, short of a concept album, to play live in sequence.

This review focuses on Disc 1, the Hysteria set.  The next review will cover Disc 2 and the “Ded Flatbird” set of rare tracks.

You already know Hysteria (or at least you better since we have reviewed it here three separate times).  You know every song is great (with the possible exception of “Excitable”) and you know how important this album was, and still is.  In the opening DVD intro, Joe stresses the importance of writing great songs.*  Hopefully you know every one by heart and can hear the differences.  Viva la difference!

Shirtless Phil Collen opens on a rising platform, playing the opening signature to “Women”.  The DVD looks fantastic, sharp and with great angles.  Rick Allen’s Hysteria kick drum lights up when he hits it.  And check out Joe’s cool Hysteria-striped mic stand.  The recording is also excellent with lots of separation between the guitars.  Dig Rick Allen’s union jack headphones, and check out Joe nailing that first scream before the solo.

“Rocket” has some impressive backing vocals.  The backdrop changes to a wall of TV sets, like the old music video.  The guitars slightly deviate from the album blueprint but only just.  Onto “Animal”, a reliable toe-tapper.  The pace changes with the first ballad “Love Bites” but it’s a natural place to slow it down.  Phil takes some different roads with his guitar parts, adding some new flavours.  The camera lets us see all of Rick Savage’s pedal work too, normally hidden by the stage monitors.  Vivian Campbell does a wonderful job of the classic Steve Clark guitar solo.

 

“Sugar” goes next, always a bit goofy live (if not in the studio).  It’s still an undeniable anthem and the smiles in the audience tell the story.  The backing vocals can be dicey but they are solid as a rock here, with Viv and Shirtless Phil doing the heavy lifting.  Viv takes the spotlight for the “Armageddon It” intro and we’re already halfway through.  There are times in the solo when the Irish axeman just bursts into grins at the Vegas experience.

At this point the lights go out, and old video footage from In the Round: In Your Face goes up on the screens.  It’s a Steve Clark moment, as “Gods of War” was one of his signature songs.  Steve’s unique intro plays before the band comes back live.  It’s almost seamless, as if Clark was there for a brief moment.  Joe Elliott really delivers on this song.

“Don’t Shoot Shotgun” is surprisingly fun, with live vocals instead of the layered and sequenced album counterparts.  Now that we’re on side two of Hysteria, Viv has shed his jacket and changed his colour palette from blue to red.  It must be said, the Irishman does an impeccable job of paying tribute to Steve Clark’s solos.

On the demanding “Run Riot”, Joe does the best he can with his voice at his age, but this is the first point of the show where it’s really noticeable.  Though he’s hitting the notes, the depth of grit and power can’t be matched.  And that’s fine.  That’s not a criticism, just an observation for the purposes of this review.

“Hysteria” is the centerpiece.  Majestic; magical, mysteria!  This version is as good as any other live version.  They always do it well.  But “Excitable” might the surprise.  Is it better live, stripped of the samples and loopiness?  It may well be.  It’s certainly harder.  Screamin’ Joe absolutely nails every high on this one.

Hard to believe we’re already there, but it’s the Hysteria album closer, “Love and Affection”.  Always one of those deep cuts that should have been a commercial single, “Love and Affection” rules.  Vocally, it too is very demanding and so the album version cannot quite be matched.  Close, though!  Very close.

Joe Elliott does not get enough credit.  As a singer, a songwriter, and just awesome human.  He does not get enough credit.

Encore?  Of course!  “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph”; two essential songs from Pyromania.  They need to be there.  So there they are.  For deeper cuts, we’ll have to wait until Disc 2, the “Ded Flatbird” set (which is Def Leppard opening for themselves with a set of rarities).  As for the Viva! Hysteria portion of the package, it’s a completely satisfying disc.

As an unlisted extra, the end credits are to the tune of the 2013 re-recording of “Hysteria”.  A physical release, albeit DVD and not CD.

5/5 stars

 

* Some of this footage is recycled from the Visualize DVD, including Steve Clark interview material.

 

 

 

5/5 stars

Previous:  

  1. The Early Years Disc One – On Through the Night 
  2. The Early Years Disc Two – High N’ Dry
  3. The Early Years Disc Three – When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Live at the New Theater Oxford – 1980
  4. The Early Years Disc Four – Too Many Jitterbugs – EP, singles & unreleased
  5. The Early Years Disc 5 – Raw – Early BBC Recordings 
  6. The Early Years 79-81 (Summary)
  7. Pyromania
  8. Pyromania Live – L.A. Forum, 11 September 1983
  9. Hysteria
  10. Soundtrack From the Video Historia – Record Store Tales
  11. In The Round In Your Face DVD
  12. “Let’s Get Rocked” – The Wait for Adrenalize – Record Store Tales
  13. Adrenalize
  14. Live at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
  15. Retro-Active
  16. Visualize
  17. Vault: Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits / Limited Edition Live CD
  18. Video Archive
  19. “Slang” CD single
  20. Slang
  21. I Got A Bad Feeling About This: Euphoria – Record Store Tales
  22. Euphoria
  23. Rarities 2
  24. Rarities 3
  25. Rarities 4
  26. Cybernauts – Live
  27. Cybernauts – The Further Adventures of the Cybernauts (bonus disc)
  28. X
  29. Best Of (UK)
  30. Rock Of Ages: The Definitive Collection
  31. Yeah!
  32. Yeah! Bonus CD With Backstage Interviews
  33. Yeah…Nah!  (Record Store Tales)
  34. Songs From the Sparkle Lounge
  35. “C’Mon C’Mon” (picture disc)
  36. Taylor Swift & Def Leppard – CMT Crossroads (DVD)
  37. B.Sides
  38. Yeah! II
  39. Yeah! Live
  40. Mirror Ball: Live & More (Japan bonus track)
  41. iTunes Re-recordings

Next:

43. Viva! Hysteria (CD 2 and DVD extras)
44. Slang (2014 Deluxe bonus tracks)
45. “Helen Wheels” (from The Art of McCartney)
46. Def Leppard (Deluxe and Japanese versions)

Sunday Screening: Trainwreckords – Generation Swine (Todd in the Shadows)

Todd in the Shadows has finally tackled one of the 1990s greatest turds: Motley Crue’s Generation Swine.  Though “hair metal” isn’t his genre, Todd gets most of the facts right and touches on many of the factors that made this album such a trainwreck.  He uses interviews with Nikki Sixx, John Corabi and others to illustrate the history, and also throws in some clips from Pam & Tommy.  Simply stated, Motley were lost at sea with a much-hyped Vince Neil reunion that never lived up to expectations.  In fact Motley purposely veered away from expectations.  The biggest problem was that they had no idea where they were going.

Enjoy!