AC/DC

REVIEW: AC/DC – Power Up (2020 Light Box edition)

AC/DC – Power Up (2020 Sony “Light Box”)

FAQ:

  1. No, Malcolm Young doesn’t play on it.
  2. No, Axl Rose is also not on the album.
  3. Yes, it is as good as you’ve heard.

41 minutes is all it takes to rock the world.  We needed AC/DC in 2020, and we got it.  This isn’t the first time AC/DC have put guitars on magnetic tape without Malcolm.  That era began with 2014’s Rock Or Bust, but this album is better.  The riffs are Malcolm’s, and nephew Stevie Young performs them admirably as he always has.  As for Brian Johnson, he sounds as if time stopped back in 1995.

“Realize” is catchier than the average AC/DC, with a few guitar overdubs to sweeten it up.  “Rejection” is similarly fun, despite its title.  Good tunes.  Not immortal classics in the making, just good album cuts as AC/DC have done for decades.  Even the first single “Shot in the Dark” doesn’t sound like the kind of AC/DC tune that radio will be pounding out in 10 years, even though they sure are playing the crap out of it today.  Good songs all, but comparison to the back catalogue is a doomed endeavour.

The one tune that does sound like a future staple is “Through the Mists of Time”, a title that seems more like Zep than Acca Dacca.  Focused on melody and spare guitar picking, it’s a bit softer than what most people expect.  The “Ahh-ah” backing vocals sell it.  This is probably the song you’ll remember years from now.

Moving on down the tracklist, we have a few songs with potential to grow.  “Kick You When You’re Down” has some cool pickin’ rhythm.  Also cool is “Witch’s Spell”, another title that doesn’t seem like AC/DC at first.  It’s among the most memorable tunes thanks to a stuttery guitars and a fun chorus.  The mood changes on “Demon Fire”, an excellent song similar in style to “Safe in New York City” from 20 years ago.  It’s got that fast 4/4 beat, coupled with a low Brian Johnson growl (at first).

After “Demon Fire”, we’re in for a series of workmanlike AC/DC tracks without a lot of distinction.  There’s “Bad Reputation” (mid-tempo), “No Man’s Land” (slow and menacing), “Systems Down” (mid-tempo), “Money Shot” (mid-tempo with bite), and “Code Red” (slinky).  Power Up, like any AC/DC album since about Flick of the Switch, gets the job done.  The only true classic is “Through the Mists of Time”, but there is plenty of strong material headlined by “Demon Fire”, “Shot in the Dark”, “Realize”, “Witch’s Spell” and “Money Shot”.  It’s still early of course, and in three months you might have some clear favourites.  This album has room to grow.

Now, the $60 “Light Box” is…disappointing.  It’s a box, made of cardboard, with a sound chip that plays exactly 17 seconds of “Shot in the Dark” through a little speaker in the top, while flashing.  (I call it a “Seizure Box”!)  It stays lit for a few more seconds, and then stops.  You can push the button as many times as you like, because it comes with a handy-dandy USB charging cable.  (I bet you needed another one of those!)  So that’s all it does.  Inside is the standard CD digipack wedged between two sturdy foam slats.  On the left hand side with the button and charging port, a cardboard strip is attached to prevent the button from being pushed in the stores.  Removing this piece, which you need to do to recharge the box, is difficult and I tore mine.  I glued it back, but you can still see it.  $60 box, ripped just like that.  Bummer.

AC/DC sound like AC/DC the most when Phil Rudd is in the band.  With Phil, Brian Johnson and Cliff Williams all back for one more round, authenticity is not an issue.  This is an album that deserves multiple listens.  You’ll have your own favourites too.

3.75/5 stars

 

 

New Release Friday Live Stream

The LeBrain Train – 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano
Episode 32

We were supposed to talk about the upcoming big releases in music last week — and then King Edward died.  Devastating.  We needed to talk about Eddie.  But now, we’ll talk some AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Sloan and more!  The angle is based on something Deke said (and others have echoed) a few weeks ago:  something along the lines of “2020 needs new AC/DC”.  And it does.  We deserve it.

This week’s panel will include John from 2loud2oldmusic, the expert on all things New Release-wise.  He will be joined by AC/DC scholar Kevin / Buried On Mars, who will bring the perspective of the diehard, deep cut kind of fan.  I’ll probably just stand by and drink coffee!

For those who show up early, there will be the customary unboxing, this one courtesy of CDJapan!

7:00 PM E.S.T.  Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain


New artwork!

The new LeBrain Train artwork was made by Weeping Willow Creations.  If you don’t like it, blame me, not her!  She took the image I had in my head and made it digital.  All aboard the LeBrain Train — thank you Weeping Willow Creations!

 

REVIEW: AC/DC – “Shot in the Dark” (2020)

AC/DC – “Shot in the Dark” (2020 Sony single)

Be honest with me.  Until recently, did you really expect a new AC/DC album in 2020?  The notoriously private band were spotted at a studio in Vancouver a while ago, but aside from that it’s been total radio silence.

Until now.  Power Up!

Brian “Beano” Johnson found himself the recipient of brand new, high-tech in-ear monitors enabling him to sing live once again.  Phil Rudd put his past behind him.  This was enough to get Cliff Williams back on board.  Angus Young had been sorting through dozens of riffs written by Malcolm.  With nephew Stevie Young still in the fold to play those riffs, AC/DC were a band once more.

2020’s Power Up (or PWRϟUP) will be the first AC/DC album since the death of both George and Malcolm Young.

“Shot in the Dark” is the first single, available now on iTunes when you pre-order the album.  “Shot in the dark, beats a walk in the park.”  I highly doubt that it was a walk in the park, but the thing about AC/DC is that they make everything better.  (This week’s episode of the LeBrain Train was supposed to be about AC/DC bringing us exactly what we needed in 2020.  It has obviously been postponed so we can talk about Eddie Van Halen instead.)  If Black Sabbath’s “Rock and Roll Doctor” was a real person, there is little question that they would have prescribed us some AC/DC in 2020.  We needed this.  Like an Aspirin when your head is achin’, we needed a “Shot” of AC/DC.  Something bright and shiny to look forward to.

What AC/DC do, only they can do right.  There’s nothing even remotely unique about “Shot in the Dark”.  It’s AC/DC.  It is what it is and does what it does, and it’s pretty simple.  All you need is a beat, a catchy guitar lick, and a belting singer.  “Shot in the Dark” has all that.  The things that do jump out this time are Angus’ solo — slidey goodness — and the sheer joie de vivre of it all.  Brian is sounding great.  Some have noted that AC/DC sounds more like the genuine article when Phil Rudd is on drums.  His thrift and pocket groove are peanut butter and jelly.

Rating a new AC/DC song is kind of pointless.  They always come out with something good, albeit familiar, for a first single.  1990’s “Thunderstruck” was an exception.   It’s been this way since 1995’s “Hard As a Rock”.  AC/DC drop a new single, and it’s always the same.  Good and familiar.  Same thing here.  Ratings are meaningless so we’ll call it a perfect score just because we should all be happy as fuck that AC/DC are back.

5/5 stars

Highway to Lists: Live Streaming AC/DC Deep Cuts

A huge thanks to Kevin/Buried On Mars for this week’s theme:  AC/DC Deep Cuts!

Your hosts with lists this week were:

Over the course of five lists, you will definitely find some tracks to check out for the first time, or just for a fresh listen.  The discussion was brisk and entertaining as hell.  You might even see cameos from Boba Fett and Thunder Bay’s own T-Bone Erickson.  What songs did we pick?  Was Aaron disqualified?  You’ll have to watch to find out.

In addition to the AC/DC lists, we tackled a few other topics.  Check the video times below to skip to the following:

  • An Amazon parcel & special Sven Gali swag unboxing – 0:09:30
  • Some praise for Max the Axe and Eric Litwiller –  0:26:00
  • The AC/DC lists0:30:50
  • For the after-party, general music and current events discussion – 1:55:25

Thanks for tuning in everybody.

 

Friday Rock N Roll Train – Live Streaming AC/DC Lists from Mars!

This week’s episode comes to you from BURIED ON MARS!   I’ve been wanting to involve him on the live show for a few months and now the time has come.  His topic:  AC/DC deep cuts.  Back in June we did a Nigel Tufnel Top Ten AC/DC albums co-hosted by Superdekes.  That was one of our best shows, but now we go deep!  No hits, just AC/DC; songs that we love that you’re not going to hear on the radio.

Your hosts with lists tonight will include:

We hope you will be on board tonight for the “Rock and Roll Train” known as AC/DC!

Friday September 18.  7:00 PM E.S.T.  Facebook:  Michael Ladano or Facebook:  MikeLeBrain.  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.


You may have noticed I have finally picked a name for this show.  I hope I picked the right one.  Tonight will be the inaugural (even though I’ve been doing this six months) episode of THE LeBRAIN TRAIN: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano.

Thank you to old pal (26 years) and author Aaron Lebold for contributing new graphics for the show.  I really appreciate it!  This was my favourite of the two he made.  I have more artwork coming along.  I’m very grateful for your help Aaron!  Maybe you can come on the show and discuss your new book Genocide.

So that’s the name…The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano.  Or, just The LeBrain Train.  Jen came up with the LeBrain Train, and rock journalist Mitch Lafon suggested the 2000 Words or More part.  Thanks to everyone who dropped a suggestion!  I liked them all except for James Kalyn’s — “The Lebrain Eats A Worm And A Stick YouTube Hour”!

See you tonight!  Rock N Roll Train!

1980: In Depth Stream with Mike and Deke!

Thanks to Rob Daniels for this episode’s title!  This week Deke and I took a trip back to 1980 to discuss some 40 year old albums, in a little more depth than usual.  We each chose three to reminisce on.  There are dozens of critical albums we could have picked from that year, so we each chose three that we important to us on a personal level.

The stories flow like beer, and the laughter can be heard from one side of Ontario to the other.  Join us as Mike mocks the Leafs and Deke praises Buried On Mars.  (There is a good story about Mars’ site and one of the most important albums from 1980.)

Points of interest:

To start with some unboxings, go to 0:02:55 of the stream

The 1980 retrospective starts at 0:09:45 in the stream.

Attention:  Geoff Stephen!!  0:14:00.

For the Back In Black shenanigans skip to 1:28:20.

There’s some audio lag on the latter part of the video; sorry about that.  I hope you enjoy this chat as much as we did!

For Those About to Stream, Deke & LeBrain Salute You – Friday Live Show

The Technical Issue gods were merciful last night, and they connected Deke in Thunder Bay with LeBrain Summer HQ in Southern Ontario with only minor issues!  In the episode we call “Seek the Deke”, we counted down the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten AC/DC albums of all time.  Featured lists were submitted by:

A total of seven lists — the most I’ve done on these shows.  And of course I messed it up at least twice!  You might think that with so many lists and so few AC/DC albums, it might be a boring show.  It’s not.  When you include different versions of albums and a few off the beaten track, it was quite an enjoyable show with great comments.

By request of Deke I’ve left in the pre-stream portion of the show because I spilled ginger ale on my nose.

To skip straight to the AC/DC lists, go to 0:16:30 of the stream.

For the ginger ale, start at 0:13:45 of the stream.

Sorry the top of my head is cut off.  I can’t see myself properly on the Facebook app.  Enjoy the stream!

 

#831: Gone Shootin’ (The Lighter Side Of…)

A prequel to #655:  Guns, Guns, Guns

 

GETTING MORE TALE #831: Gone Shootin’ (The Lighter Side Of…)

Have you ever discharged a firearm in your own back yard, in a suburban setting?  My dad has!

We were different from other families on the street.  I didn’t see any guns in their basements.  We had them though, rifles that were locked up in my dad’s gun rack.  Ammunition safely hidden in another room.  We looked forward to the winter, when we’d bring them to the cottage and fire then off over Lake Huron.  The hot shell casings would eject and bury themselves in the snow, only to be found the following summer in the sand beneath.  Then Dad and I would hammer them into our “sitting log”, little mementos of our winter fun.  I secretly hoped the shell casings would freak out the average beach goer.

My dad had a breach-loaded Martini-Henry rifle that saw action in the Zulu wars of the late 19th century.  That thing could kick.  It would take your shoulder off if not careful.  My dad later acquired the missing bayonet for it.  Holding it was like holding history in your hands.  Lives were lost to its muzzle.  Once added to my dad’s collection, apple juice tins were its only victims.

Those were the good times.  I do remember one bad time!

I would have been about 10 or 11 years old.  I had a pet guinea pig that I named Fred.  We weren’t allowed to have many pets when we were kids.  My dad didn’t like a mess.  But I got Fred, and he lived in a cage in our little basement.  That is, until he got sick and stopped eating.

When it was clear that Fred was a goner, my dad did what had to be done, even though I was crying.  He took his rifle and the guinea pig into the back yard.  I watched from the kitchen window as he raised his gun and aimed towards the ground.

You could hear the crack of the rifle, and the echo of the boom in the air.  Fred was buried in the back yard.

I wonder what would happen if you discharged a rifle in your back yard today?  Back then (1983), nothing!

A few years later (1986), we had a couple weeks in September that were plagued by prank doorbell-ringers.  A hobby I would take up myself the following year.  (See:  Getting More Tale #548: Bad Boys.)  “Nicky Nicky Nine Door” was the name of the game, but my dad wasn’t amused when it happened to us.  It was almost nightly.

After a few weeks of this my dad decided to end the pranks in his own special way.  He had a starting pistol – a non-firing gun that looked and sounded like it was discharging live ammunition.  It could only shoot blanks, but the crack of the fire and smoke from the barrel sure were convincing.  So one night when the doorbell rang, my dad ran upstairs to get the starting pistol.  He then bolted out the front door, firing the gun in every direction.

Let me tell you, we were never pranked again.

Guns aren’t all bad.  You can use them to scare bad kids and put your own pets to sleep!  Although I certainly wouldn’t advise it in this day and age.

 

#830: 1992

1992

I’ve never been much of a winter guy.  I get that from my dad.  The winter of ’92 was long with a number of serious snow days.  I had just learned how to drive and it was certainly a challenge.  Details are not important.  You don’t need an accounting of times my little Plymouth Sundance got stuck or struggled to make it home from school.  All you really need to know was what was in my tape deck.

I was still digesting a lot of the music that I received for Christmas at the end of ’91.  The live Poison and Queensryche sets got a lot of car play once I dubbed them onto cassette.  At this point my attention to detail was becoming overwhelming.  I painstakingly faded in and faded out the sides of the live albums onto cassette.  This had to be done manually as you were recording.  If I missed the cue I’d do it over again until I got it right to my satisfaction.  I should have known there was something wrong with me!

We had one serious snow day that year, and although class wasn’t cancelled I stayed home.  My school friend Rob V made a tape for me of David Lee Roth live in Toronto on the Eat ‘Em and Smile tour.  I know that I played that tape on that day because the memory is so clear.  It was a great concert.  Roth and Steve Vai had a fun interplay, where Steve imitated Roth’s vocal intonations with his guitar.  Vai followed his voice as Roth told the crowd, “Toronto kicks ass, because the girls are soooo fiiiine!”

Time flies, and 1992 didn’t take long to kick into gear with new releases.

I had just discovered Queen.  Suddenly here comes this new movie Wayne’s World which made Queen a worldwide phenomenon for a second time.  More important to me though was the fact that the soundtrack CD included the first new Black Sabbath track with Ronnie James Dio in a decade:  “Time Machine”!  My buddy Peter didn’t care — he was strictly an Ozzy Sabbath fan.  No Dio!  (And certainly no Tony Martin!)  But I was excited.  I wanted to get that soundtrack as soon as possible.

There was a new music store that had just opened at the mall about six months prior.  The very first tape I would ever buy there was the debut album by Mr. Bungle in late ’91.   It would be the very Record Store that I would later dedicate years of my life to…but not yet.  When it opened, I recall my sister and I being glad that there was finally a music store at the mall again, but disappointed in the prices.  $14.99 for a tape was a lot of cash.  CDs were unfortunately out of our price range.  New cassette releases like Wayne’s World were cheaper at $10.99, so I went to the mall before class one morning to get a copy.  And this is a funny memory as you’ll see.

When I worked at the store, the boss would give me shit if he thought I was talking to someone too much.  I think he would have preferred good old fashioned silent labour, but I don’t know that.  He also drilled into us to pay attention to every customer and don’t ignore anybody.  So it’s quite ironic that he lost a sale that day by ignoring me and talking it up with some hot girl visiting him!

I was standing there in front of his new release rack looking for Wayne’s World.  I knew it was out, but didn’t see it anywhere.  I checked his soundtracks and it was missing in action.   I wanted to ask him if he had it, but he was chatting it up with this girl.  Eventually I caught his attention, but only because as I stood there waiting, I thought he did ask me a question.  So I said, “Pardon me?”  But he wasn’t actually talking to me, he was still talking to the girl.  Once he noticed me, he informed me that Wayne’s World was sold out but he could hold a copy for me as soon as the next shipment arrived.  I was ticked off so I said no thanks, and picked it up at the Zellers store down the hall instead.

Wayne’s World in the deck, I happily rocked to Queen, Sabbath, Cinderella, and hell even Gary Wright.  Peter and I saw the movie one Saturday night at a theater in Guelph, and liked it so much that we went back to see it again the following afternoon.  I saw Wayne’s World four times that winter!

I got my fill of Queen with the recent Classic Queen CD, released later that March.  I got the CD for a good price at the local Costco!  This enabled me to get a good chunk of Queen hits all at once in glorious CD quality.

The next big release to hit my car deck was a big one.  A really big one.  An album five years in the making through triumph and tragedy.

On March 31 I went back to the Record Store on my way to class, and the new release I was waiting for had arrived.  I left gripping Adrenalize in my hands.  An album I had been waiting for since highschool and even had actual dreams about!  It was finally real.  Into the tape deck it went as I drove to school.  Less riffy…more reliant on vocal melody…not bad?  I’ll let them have it though.  After what they’ve been through?  Yeah, I’ll cut them some slack.

Two weeks later, I was digesting another massive chunk of music.

I didn’t get Pandora’s Box in 1991 when it was released.  There was so much going on.  But my parents bought it for me as an Easter gift in April ’92.  That Easter I was “Back in the Saddle” with three CDs of Aerosmith!

It was a bittersweet gift.  Traditionally the family spent Easter at the cottage.  I have lots of happy memories of playing GI Joe in the fresh Easter afternoons up there.  This time I had to study for final exams and stayed home with my gift.  I must have played that box set two times through while studying that weekend.

Exams were over by the end of April and suddenly…it was summer holidays.  In April!  It was…incredible!  I stubbornly refused to get a summer job.  I have to say I don’t regret that.  I had savings from my previous job at the grocery store and I was getting Chrysler dividends cheques (yeah, baby).  Between that, Christmas & birthday gifts, I got most of the music I wanted.  And I got to spend that summer just enjoying it all.  It felt really good after such a long and frankly lonely winter.

Pandora’s Box tided me over.  After all, it was a lot to absorb having heard very little “old” Aerosmith up til that point.  My favourite track was “Sharpshooter” by Whitford – St. Holmes.  I liked that they included a sampling of solo material by various members.  These were new worlds to discover, but what about the next big release?  Who would be the one to spend my valuable savings on?

Iron Maiden were back on May 11 after a very short absence with Fear of the Dark, their second of the Janick Gers era.  But I needed to save my money, and wait one more week for something even more important to me.  It was Revenge time.

Speaking of triumph and tragedy, it was time for some overdue spoils for Kiss.  Having lost drummer Eric Carr to cancer in late ’91, Kiss deserved to catch a break.  Fortunately Revenge turned out to be a far better album than the previous few.  I recall getting over a really bad cold, and my lungs were still congested on that spring day.  The outdoor air felt amazing.  I walked over to the mall on release day and bought my CD copy at the Record Store.  I probably ran all the way home to play it, lungs be damned.

To say I was happy was an understatement.  In 1992 you had to come out with something strong or you would sink.  It was a more vicious musical world than just a year ago.  Fortunately Kiss did not wimp out and came out with an album just heavy enough, without following trends.  It would be my favourite album of the year, though a few strong contenders were still lined up.

My birthday was coming and I would have to wait a little while to get some more essential tunes.  Fear of the Dark was on the list.  So was Faith No More’s Angel Dust, which was a must.  And, of course, rock’s ultimate royalty returned in 1992.  A band that rock history cannot ignore, though it arguably should.  A band that defined the term “odorous”.  A band with a colourful and tragic backstory.  A band making its long feared return with its first album since 1984’s Smell the Glove.  And with their new album Break Like the Wind, they proudly proclaimed, yes indeed, this is Spinal Tap.

Once again, quite a bit of music to absorb.  I had been anticipating the Iron Maiden.  I heard the first single “Be Quick or Be Dead” on Q107 late one night, and didn’t think much of it at first.  I was concerned that Bruce Dickinson’s voice was becoming more growly and less melodic.  The album helped assuage these concerns with a number of melodic numbers including “Wasting Love”, “Afraid to Shoot Strangers” and “Fear of the Dark”.  But the album was infected with lots of filler.  “Weekend Warrior”, “Fear is the Key”, “Chains of Misery”…lots of songs that were just not memorable.  Fear of the Dark sounded better than its predecessor but could you say it was better than Seventh SonSomewhere in Time Powerslave?  No.

Though it was murky and dense, the Faith No More album blew me away.  The M.E.A.T Magazine review by Drew Masters gave it 2/5 M’s.  I gave it 5/5.  I wanted something heavy and weird from Faith No More.  I got what I wanted.  Peter was a big Faith No More fan too, but I don’t think he dug Angel Dust as much as I did.  We both appreciated the comedic aspects but I really got into the samples, nuances and rhythms.  It was, and is, a masterpiece.  I believe I can say that I was of that opinion from the very beginning.

And Spinal Tap, dear Spinal Tap.  The Majesties of Rock took a little longer for me to fully understand.  And no wonder, for Spinal Tap are playing musical 4-dimensional chess inside your ear canals.  I simply had to accept that several years had passed since Spinal Tap last recorded, and they had grown in their own stunted way.  I’ve always thought that the title track was sincerely brilliant.  But I never liked that Nigel Tufnel had so few lead vocals.  I have long appreciated bands that had multiple lead singers.  While this time even bassist Derek Smalls stepped up to the microphone, it was David St. Hubbins who sang lead on 11 of the 14 tracks.  Now, this is certainly not to criticise the enviable lead pipes of St. Hubbins, but merely to state that there wasn’t enough Nigel.  Having said that, Nigel did branch out by employing a new guitar playing technique — doubling his solos with vocals, like Gillan used to do with Blackmore.  He also got to unleash his new amps that went up to infinity, which debuted live at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert in April.

Like all things, summer eventually came to an end and it was back to school once again.  That fall and into Christmas I got some of the last new releases that were on my radar.  I missed Black Sabbath when Dehumanizer came out in June.  That one took a long time to really like.  While the production was incredibly crisp, the songs didn’t seem up to snuff to me.  At least at first.  In time, it became a personal favourite album.

That Christmas came the new Bon Jovi album Keep the Faith, Queen’s new Greatest Hits, and of course AC/DC Live.  It was also the Christmas that I first realized there was something wrong inside my head, and I realized it because of those albums.  It was partly the obsessive-compulsive disorder, but also a massive hangup about being ignored.  I wanted the AC/DC double Live, but was given the single.  I wanted Keep the Faith and Queen on CD but got cassette.  As I grew older and learned more about myself, I realized that I became very upset if I felt like someone was not listening to me or understanding me.  Nobody seemed to get why I wanted specific versions (because of my OCD actually), and I couldn’t explain it, so that set me off even further.  I became extremely grumpy that Christmas over these gifts, and it was ugly.  I isolated myself to stew in my own negativity.  It’s not something I’m proud of, and you can call me a spoiled brat if you want to (you wouldn’t be wrong).  At least I’ve worked at trying to figure out my defects.

It’s not like any of it mattered in the long term.  I have re-bought all of those albums twice since, each!

1992 went out much like it came in, cold and snowy.  Canadian winters are hard.  Some people have the DNA for it, but I don’t.  I’m half Italian.  I wasn’t designed for snowy, damp winters.  That’s why music is so important to me in the winter months.  Music can be a completely indoor activity and I had a continually fresh supply.  1992 was a big year for heavy metal even though the grunge revolution had already started.  Of course, things were not to stay as they are.  Iron Maiden and Faith No More were about to hit some major speedbumps, and Black Sabbath had already split in two by the end of the year!  1992 was the last time we could pretend heavy metal was still in good health.    Hard rock was about to endure further challenges and hardships.  At least we had ’92.

 

#821: The Lost Chapters – “Top Ten Bad Albums by Great Artists” (2004)

GETTING MORE TALE #821: The Lost Chapters
“Top Ten Bad Albums by Great Artists” (2004)

 

I found this previously unpublished entry in my old Record Store Journal. Not sure how I missed it during Record Store Tales! This came via a challenge from Dan Slessor of Kerrang! magazine. Have a read. A few of these albums would still make my lists today.


Date: 2004/10/03 

Dan asked me to throw together a top 100 crappy albums list, but I just couldn’t do it. Instead he asked for a top 10 bad albums by great artists. I threw one together in about 10 minutes. So while this is not my DEFINITIVE list, it is a fun read.

1. AC/DC – Blow Up Your Video
OK, this is understandable. Malcolm Young was so ill he didn’t do the tour for this record. Angus even suffered exhaustion on this tour. It was just a boring, bluesy, slow AC/DC record with only a couple notable singles. Slow AC/DC just doesn’t cut it, does it?  [Still disappointing, but not an all-time worst today.]

2. Motley Crue – New Tattoo
Even worse than Generation Swine, New Tattoo proved that it was Tommy Lee in fact who made the Motley Crue sound, NOT Vince Neil. Without Tommy, the band produced a piece of less-than-mediocre, soundalike crap. Randy Castillo (RIP) could not save this band, nor could Samantha Maloney. Weak songs, weak production, weak drum and guitar sounds.  [Would still make my list in 2020.]

 3. Black Sabbath – Forbidden
The final Sabbath studio album was recorded in a few weeks, and sounds like it was written in those weeks too. Ernie C (a guitar player from Body Count) produced it like a demo, and brought in Ice T to rap. I’m serious. [Would still make my list in 2020.]

4. KISS – Hot In The Shade
It was Gene & Paul aiming for the goal posts again, and featured a harder rock sound and three great singles. What it also featured were 12 bad songs, and demo-like production. No wonder! Most of the album WAS a demo. [Would still make my list in 2020.]

5. Jimmy Page – Outrider
WOW. Maybe it’s not so bad on the surface, but coming from the greatest rock songwriter ever, this is just sub, sub, SUB standard. Robert Plant lent a hand, for all the good it did.  [Been too long since I’ve listened.]

6. Vince Neil – Carved In Stone
“Rock n’ roll hip-hop record”. That’s all you need to know. [Not significant enough to make my list today.]

7. Guns N’ Roses – The Spaghetti Incident?
A covers album is a tricky deal to start with, and Guns at least picked 12 interesting covers. A 13th “hidden” Charles Manson tune marred the whole thing, as did the lacklustre performance and production. Really, only one song has any spark, and it’s actually a solo track by Duff! [A covers album would not make my list today.]

8. Deep Purple – Abandon
Maybe it’s unfair to include it in this list, but I was colossally disappointed when it came out. The previous record Purpendicular was so good, it felt like 1970 again. Abandon felt like a tired band who had given up trying to write good songs. Nothing could be further from the truth of course, but the results still left me underwhelmed. [Would not make the list today.  I’ve warmed to it since 2004.]

9. Geoff Tate – Geoff Tate
When a singer from a God-like band puts out a solo album, it had better shine. Geoff Tate of Queensryche instead chose to do a dancey, new-agey synth album which completely alienated his fans and may in fact prove to be the nail in his career coffin. [Still pretty awful but not really significant enough to make my list anymore.]

10. Halford – Resurrection
I’m gonna catch hell for this one. I stand by it, however. The lyrics are worse than juvenile (Priest’s are only mildly juvenile) and the songwriting and production are so generic. Thanks a lot, Bob Marlette! You proceeded to wreck so many albums…let’s not forget Alice Cooper’s Brutal Album Planet [Still cheesy but not bad.]


Wanna know this list in 2020?  That’s another story for another day!