autographs

REVIEW: Brent Doerner’s Decibel (2006)

BRENT DOERNER’S DECIBEL – Bd=I0log(P₁/P₂)=dB (2006)

The Doctor, Brent Doerner, departed Helix in 1989.  His presence was missed by long time fans.  Although he rejoined in the 90s, it was only briefly.  Through the decade, he maintained his chops and took up country music in the clubs.  This added new dimensions to his playing when he inevitably returned to rock.  After spending a decade and a half as a “guitarpenter”, Brent decided he wanted to get back into music and make a statement on his own.  “I was bound and determined, come hell or high water, to make an album,” he said.  With a new band called Decibel consisting of Shane Schedler on lead guitar, the late Ralph “Chick” Schumilas on guitar, and Dan Laurin on drums, Brent did just that.  “If you don’t write good songs, it ain’t gonna fly baby,” says Brent.  Fortunately, the guys had a bunch of them.

The band lineup included three guitar players, two of them soloists.  On this disc, the triple axe attack is joined by future Helix guitarist Kaleb Duck on a couple tracks.

Opener “The Sum of 2 People” begins with a lethal riff and a slow, determined groove.  It then detours into a psychedelic, watery sound with Doener’s clever lyric contrasting love with math.  “X and y are the fractions, multiplied by nine!  Our love exceeds the math of the sum of two people.”  Good song, excellent set of words from the Doctor, showing off his underappreciated lyrical talents.  The track itself is quite varied, with a variety of connected parts and a classic sounding guitar solo.

Brent plays bass on most of the album, but Mike Benedictine guests on the wickedly choppy “A Body For You”.  “I’d hide a body for you, baby!” goes the chorus, but the riff is the real killer.  This is a challenging song, but check out the cool dual guitar bit in the middle.  Very vintage Helix.

The highlight track is third in line:  the pure boogie of “Takin the Color Right Outta Da Blooze”.  This is an upbeat, slide-laden track made for shaking asses.  Had there been a single, this is the clear choice.  It has the taste of twang, and unforgettable hooks.  It’s pure joy set to music.  “We’re getting bull-ridin’-ready!” sings the good doctor.  This is just a song about letting loose, and it’s the perfect accompaniment to doing just that.  Awesome track.

Another killer track, “On Bended Knee” has a vibe similar to early 80s Kim Mitchell – think songs like “Miss Demeanor”.  Simply excellent mid-tempo sentimental rock.  There’s something slightly majestic about the chorus guitar hook.

Drummer brother Brian Doerner guests on “Fire in the Bedroom”, a suitably upbeat rocker.  Giddy up, says Brent.  Solid advice.  The excellent solo features some of that twang but this otherwise pure rock and roll smoke.  Just fun.  Brian on drums adds a different flavour; a little more sophisticated rhythm and brainy fills.

If you like bands with multiple lead vocalists, then you will be pleased to note that guitarist Shane Schedler takes the microphone on “Never Turn Yer Back”.  He has a higher tone to his voice, and he throws in a soulful twist.  The song itself has an early Van Halen kind of vibe.  Mike Benedictine is back on bass, but that’s not him on the impressively dexterous intro!  “I play that, says Brent.  “I play the intro and the exit on that.  That’s from me being a guitar player; it sounded cool on bass.”  He’s right!  Another album highlight.

“Breathe My Name” has a cool kick to it, and an unorthodox groove.  A lot of the tunes on this album are smarter than you’d think.  They’re not meat and potatoes rock.  They have different rhythms throughout, changing and shifting and then suddenly sounding like another genre.  “Breathe My Name” largely rocks, but not in a brick-headed way.

There are no ballads on this album, but “Stainless Steel Emotion” is the most laid back of the songs, and really emphasises a southern twang.  Again, the riff recalls early Kim Mitchell, which might be why it sounds so classic.  “Got up late, felt not so great, with alcohol blues.  She just laughed, turned on the gas and waited for the boom!”  A funny, quirky song about love gone sour.  You can’t particularly compare “Stainless Steel Emotion” to any single band.  Brent likes writing unique songs, and this one has the right fit to be second last on an album.

Hilliard Walter, who would later join the band on bass and vocals, sings lead on the unique “Dancing Frogs (The Zamboni Song)”.  The powerhouse soul-blues vocalist kicks the song up about eighteen notches with class and sass.  The vibe of the song evokes the classic image of the dancing frog from the Warner Brothers cartoon One Froggy Evening.  “You can just picture the dancing frog with the top hat and the cane,” Doerner explains.  Why “The Zamboni Song”?  Because Hills Walter drove one!  “We’ve got the best damn Zamboni operator/driver/singer/lead vocalist in the country, man!”  There’s an old automobile “ooga” horn in there too, as a final original touch.  Do Zambonis have horns?

It must be stated:  Brent Doerner did not create an “immediate” sounding album on his debut.  He didn’t set out to make simple music.  The songs have twists in them, but also great hooks that will get you in time.  You notice by second listen, the hooks have started to set in.  The running order could probably be improved by opening with something catchier like “A Body For You” instead of the menacing “The Sum of 2 People”, but your experience may vary.  If only the album had big-budget production.  Some of the songs could have had potential.

Must-haves:  “Takin the Color Right Outta Da Blooze”, “A Body For You”, “On Bended Knee”, “Never Turn Yer Back”, “Stainless Steel Emotion” and “The Zamboni Song”.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Jacob Moon – Under A Setting Sun (2022)

JACOB MOON – Under A Setting Sun (2022)

I’ve only helped crowdfund two things in my life.  I’m happy to say I picked a winning horse in both cases, the second being Jacob Moon’s new CD called Under A Setting Sun.

Although Moon is certainly a stunningly good musician, and his voice could be described as “angelic”, it’s his songwriting that really sets him apart.  Each song on the EP has a different flavour.  That being the case, they all share a certain light, an uplifting feeling that just makes you feel better after a listen.

The opening track “Live A Little” feels like a morning sunrise, with gently picked acoustics ringing clear, and a hint of slide shining from the shadows.  “Today we’re going to leave all those cares behind, and live a little” sings Moon, asking us to look at the stars above.  The message here is simple but necessary.  A brilliant song with a bright glow that will sound great in just about any setting.  It’ll go great on the porch this summer.

The familiar crunch of an electric guitar is joined by the moan of organ on “Tennessee”, a brilliant slow ride.  It has a vaguely southern feel especially when the slide guitar joins in.  “And the road has got the best of me, I thought I could be free yeah, like the winds in Tennessee,” sings Jacob as a soulful backing chorus joins in.  This one will sound great in the car on a country drive, guaranteed.

A unique acoustic song called “Miles To Go” has a gentle, breezy vibe.  A terrific song; you could imagine Jon Bon Jovi clenching his fists in jealousy that he didn’t write it.  It sounds in the pocket of mid-90s Bon Jovi when they weren’t afraid of getting a little more laid back on These Days.  The track sounds more lush as it goes, building to a nice resolution at the end.

If you’ve got the guts to call a tune the “Song That Won’t Leave You Alone”, it had better be catchy!  It’s actually about the creative process, but the title demands an actual song that won’t leave you alone.  The lyrics are fascinating but the chorus is really fantastic.  Great guitar work on this one as well, an absolute gem of a song.

“A Little More Time” is a quiet ballad, but backed with a strong drum beat.  The chorus is perfect.  Once again, a certain Mr. Jovi might be gnashing his teeth that he didn’t come up with this one, but that’s just pure speculation.  He couldn’t sing it like Moon does anyway.

The title track ends the album with a string-coated song that brings the vibe of the album full circle.  If “Live A Little” sounded like morning, then “Under A Setting Sun” brings the day to a close.  Whether that’s intentional or not, that’s one interpretation if you like.  Regardless, “Under A Setting Sun” wears an understated strength on its sleeve, based on the rhythm of the acoustic guitar.  The strings raise it to the clouds, dreamy and powerful.

2022 has been a year for strong releases already.  Add the name Jacob Moon to your list of must-hears.

5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Coney Hatch – Live at the El Mocambo (2021 limited edition)

CONEY HATCH – Live at the El Mocambo (2021 limited numbered & autographed edition)

It only took four decades, but like a fine Chardonnay, time made it just parfait.  Coney Hatch’s first live album, recorded back in October 2020 at the legendary El Mocambo is, in a word:  perfect.

First, let’s define “perfect”.  “Perfect” doesn’t mean “exactly like the studio versions”.  Not when we’re talking about live albums.  It means there’s an exciting vibe, great songs, top-notch performances, and a band that sounds like they’re out for blood.  Coney sound as if there was no pressure — but they delivered their best anyway.

Four albums, 15 tracks, over an hour of tunes.  Live at the El Mocambo represents the entire career of Coney Hatch, including all your favourites like “Stand Up”, “Devil’s Deck”, “Monkey Bars”, and “Hey Operator”.  A couple great tunes from Coney Hatch Four (like “Marseilles”) prove that the Hatch lost nothing when they reunited a few years back.  While everyone will have their own highlights, “Wrong Side of Town” absolutely smokes.  The album is paced perfectly with more contemplative tunes like “She’s Gone” balanced out by bangers like “Boys Club”.  Lots of songs about “girls gone bad”, according to Carl.

Andy Curran discusses Live at the El Mocambo

The on-stage banter by Andy Curran and Carl Dixon is warm and humorous.  It’s clear that they appreciate where they are in their careers now, fortunate to have this amazing second run.  In the back, drummer Dave “Thumper” Ketchum gives us an idea of how he earned that nickname.  But let’s not forget the newest member, guitarist Sean Kelly, who proves why he is one of the most in-demand players you’re likely to hear these days.  His ripping licks on this record are hair raising.

Another strength is that these guys have lost nothing in terms of vocal abilities.  It’s all there.  How Carl hits the notes he does, is actually unknown to modern science.  Andy Curran has just as much expression as ever, the ying the Carl’s yang.  When the band sing together on a big chorus, it’s arena-ready.

The first 100 copies came signed by all four members, and with a Coney Hatch can cooler!  If that’s not an invitation to get your buzz on with this great album, I don’t know what is.  It’s done in true bootleg style:  plain white cover, with logo stamped on the front, and plain white labels on the records.  The track listing is on a separate insert.   The non-limited version is available for you to purchase so get on that right now!

5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Jim Crean – The Book of Cryptids Volume II (2020)

JIM CREAN – The Book of Cryptids Volume II (2020 Dark Night Records)

Jim Crean, hard rock singer extraordinaire from Buffalo, New York, has issued another covers album called The Book of Cryptids Volume II.  Many will shy away at the thought of a covers album, but Crean always picks interesting covers off the beaten track.  The Book of Cryptids Volume II works because A) these are not songs you typically hear covered, and B) Jim kicks ass on them all.

It’s a varied album.  “Medusa” by Anthrax opens heavily and melodically.  You might wonder how a hard rock singer like Crean tackles Anthrax.  Without difficulty!  Jim has a bit more rasp, but where Joey Belladonna gets aggressive, Jim pays more attention to the notes.  It’s a fine trade-off.  Second in line is the seldom-covered Aerosmith classic “Kings and Queens”, which is right up Jim’s alley.  Sounds like a banjo is thrown in for texture during the verses.  For an even deeper cut, check out the flawless version of Def Leppard’s “Mirror Mirror”.  It ticks all the boxes from dual guitars to throbbing bass.  Old raspy Def Leppard is well suited to Jim, who wrenches some panache from the chorus.  An ace performance.

Gowan’s “A Criminal Mind” is definitely an unexpected cover.  The only band known for covering it is Styx — featuring Lawrence Gowan.  Jim Crean could be the only other singer to dare tackle it?  This song might be a bit of a sacred cow in some quarters, but Jim does an admirable job of it.  Not vastly different, but with its own unique vocal colours.

Keeping with a synthy 80s plot twist, “Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)” is the old Mike + the Mechanics hit.  Cool guitar solo on this track that stays pretty true to the original.  Then “Cry For Freedom”, the White Lion slow burner from 1989, is another surprise.  Crean has covered White Lion before, but “Cry For Freedom” is a special song.  Not a ballad yet not a rocker, it leans heavily on the beat and the vocal.  Then it has a guitar burn-up near the end, and this one sounds exactly like Vito Bratta.

A keyboardy piano ballad called “Love Is” (Vanessa Williams) …well, let’s just say it takes balls of steel to put it on the same album as an Anthrax song.  Fortunately Jim makes it cool, but not as cool as the earlier “Criminal Mind”.  But then it’s a whole different ball park:  Mother Love Bone, and “Star Dog Champion”.  Again, a song that might be considered sacred in some quarters.  Jim’s voice is well suited to it, and this “Champion” is fully enjoyable.

We begin to draw to a close on the Scorpions early dark ballad, “When the Smoke is Going Down”.  It’s another song that Crean is capable of bending to his will.  Brilliant vocal on this one, especially considering that Klaus Meine has to be a top-five metal singer.  Coming down from that climax, the final denoument is surprisingly authentic to the original:  the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”.  This is one of those mountainous peaks that only fools dare to climb.  Yet Crean’s winning streak continues unabated.  The sonics are so close to the Stones, and everything sounds completely natural.  How the hell do you replicate Charlie Watts’ drums on “Gimme Shelter”?  Dunno, but it sounds really good!

All this said, you’re still skeptical, right?  Covering “A Criminal Mind” and “Gimme Shelter”?  A healthy dose of skepticism is warranted when reading a glowing review of a covers album.  To me, covers are worth listening to when you enjoy the spin that another artist puts on the song.  In this case it’s Jim’s voice, a classic hard rock voice that I like a lot.  So I’m cool with hearing “A Criminal Mind”, because I like the way Jim sings.

Consider this.  We’re 10 months into a worldwide pandemic and gigs have dried up.  Some artists, like Jim Crean, are recording and releasing music, and we should be supporting that.  He gives you good value for the money.  This copy came signed, with a custom Jim Crean guitar pick and signed photo.  Not to mention some quality covers of great songs off the beaten track.  The Book of Cryptids Volume II comes with cool artwork of various cryptozoological specimens including a kraken, Bigfoot, some sirens and an alien.  You can buy this package direct from the artist, so you know the money goes to the right people.  Check it out — guaranteed a few of these tracks will put a smile on your face.

4/5 stars

Just Listening to…Storm Force – Age of Fear (2020)

The first great album of 2020 is upon us.  Brighton Rock guitarist extraordinaire Greg Fraser has returned to the recording studio and emerged with Storm Force, a hot new band born out of the roots of the 80s.

I am hesitant to do a full-on “review” of Storm Force just yet.  Why?  It’s simple really.  Some albums sound as if purposesly concocted for certain environments.  I sense that Storm Force is going to sound bloody perfect this summer in the car with the windows down.  In fact, I cannot wait to do it that way.  I think this album demands it.  Just like certain hard rock classics of the past just sound better on a warm afternoon on the highway.

Though the band has no weak links, it’s important to single out the strength of vocalist Patrick Gagliardi.  (Check out Superdekes’ interview with Patrick by clicking here.)   His power and range is reminiscent of singers such as Jack Russell and Axl Rose.  There’s grit, soul and there are vocal acrobatics aplenty.  Whether he’s singing a ballad or screaming a road-burner, Patrick is on point!

It cannot go unsaid that Greg Fraser has pulled some killer riffs out of the bag.  These are classic hard rock riffs, and would have been at home on any Brighton Rock record from 1987-1991.  Not to mention his lead work is still fantastic.  Frase has a recognizable style and you can hear it on Age of Fear.

You won’t find a weak track inside, and they run the entire range that a hard rock album should.  Closer “Ringside” is burning hot metal, but “Marshall Law” has a vibe akin to Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”.  For a commercial “rock single”, check out “Because of You” which pushes all the buttons.  “Different Roads” features piano like a classic Aeroballad from 1987.  Hard to pick a favourite among these great tunes.

Full review to come summer 2020.  Check out the official Storm Force Facebook to get the CD (signed or unsigned).

#791 GUEST SHOT – The True Story of Thuss’s Vince Neil “Dragon Guitar” (by Thuss)

I get a lot of hits from people hoping to buy my stuff.  This one popped up recently in my search terms:

“vince neil dragon guitar for sale”

Several years ago, the Vince Neil “dragon guitar” by Washburn was on sale so I picked one up.  So did my buddy Thuss — except he did sell his.  This is his story of how it (eventually) went down.


 

GETTING MORE TALE #791:  The True Story of Thuss’s Vince Neil “Dragon Guitar”

BY THUSS

Lebrain and I had matching guitars for a while, that we both bought at the now defunct Future Shop.   They were on clearance and we got them for a really good price ($70 plus tax, originally $300 each, limited to 2500 pieces).  They were Washburn dragon guitars which were “autographed” by Vince Neil.  The only real autograph in the package was Vince Neil’s actual signature on the certificate of authenticity.  After a couple years I decided to sell mine as I never really played it anymore and had moved onto different hobbies.  

So I did what everyone else did, and put it up on Kijiji.  I wasn’t in a hurry to sell it so I put it up for more than double what I paid for it.  I had a few bites, but nothing serious until one guy from Toronto wanted it.  He was desperate for it!  But there was only one problem:  he didn’t drive.  First he came to me with an offer of triple what I paid for it if I delivered it to his house.  As I said I wasn’t in a hurry to sell it, so I answered no. 

I didn’t hear from him for a week or so.  Then he emailed back, and asked if I would meet him at the bus station downtown for what I was asking for it.  Again I said no, because I hate driving downtown and I didn’t want to pay for parking just to make a sale.

Again a week passed, and he emailed me back.  He said “OK”.  He’d take about six buses and meet me at my house and he will give me what I’m asking for it.  I said sure, and not surprisingly he never showed up. 

At this point I had another offer from a dad wanting to buy it for his son.  His offer was below what I was asking, but still well above what I paid for it.  I accepted, and when they came to pick it up, the son was so happy to have a guitar.  He was really excited to start playing, so I’m glad I sold it to someone who would appreciate it.  

I thought this was the end of the story but come a month later, the original guy emailed me and said one of his friends was going to drive out to my house so he could pick it up.  “Sorry,” I told him, “but I sold it to someone else.”

Guitar-guy immediately emailed me back, and he was pissed!  He told me he said he wanted it, and was going to pick it up, so why did I sell it to someone else?  I said it was almost two months since he first contacted me and I moved on and sold it to someone else.  Finally that got rid of him and I never heard from him again.  You meet some “interesting” people on Kijiji.  At least I didn’t tell him LeBrain had one too!

#769.5: Paranormal Mail

As birthday celebrations creep into the following week, gifts continue to arrive!

Aaron of KMA fame is known far and wide for his generosity and creativity in finding the perfect gifts.  He was worried about this one.  Sending a digipack CD in a bubble mailer doesn’t always guarantee safe arrival.  He threw some plastic wrap around it as an extra layer of protection from the elements.  His precautions did the trick and now I am the happy owner of a signed copy of Alice Cooper’s Paranormal!

A great album, Paranormal is a fully-loaded deluxe double CD with a smoking live disc.  And now I have a signed copy to top it off.  Aaron and I briefly discussed what the hell would make someone trade in a signed Alice CD?  I didn’t have anything signed by Alice, until now.  This is a first for my collection.  Whatever the circumstances, I’m glad to be the benefactor.

Thanks Aaron — you know my “Paranoiac Personality” very well!

REVIEW: Helix – Icon (2018)

HAPPY CANADA DAY from LeBrain and Superdekes! HELIX double feature!

HELIX – Icon (2018 Universal vinyl)

New Helix vinyl?  Yes please.

The Icon series of compilations used to be a budget CD line that you could pick up for $5 or under.  Now, you can even get ’em on vinyl.  Buy ’em direct from Helix mainman Brian Vollmer and he’ll sign it for you.  This copy is signed by all five current Helix members, including a pre-injury Fritz Hinz.

As far as Helix compilations go, you can’t do much with just 11 tracks.  Even so, Icon has some surprises and plenty of pleasers.  There’s also enough difference from 2016’s compilation Rock It Science to justify it.  Opening with the one-two punch of “Rock You” and “Heavy Metal Love”, Helix top loaded this thing with their best known songs.  Perfect for the newcomer, or just a great party.

From there it’s “The Dirty Dog”, a long time Helix concert favourite.  This is followed in quick succession by some great singles:  “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”, “Wild in the Streets” and the dark ballad “Deep Cuts the Knife”.  All three songs are considered to be Helix classics.  “Deep Cuts the Knife”, written by guitarist Paul Hackman, is a particularly powerful ballad.  The entire first side is from the Capitol Records years, featuring the best known Helix lineup:  Vollmer, Hinz, Hackman, Brent Doerner and Daryl Gray.

Side two has a different flavour.  Only the hit “The Kids are All Shakin'” originates in the 1980s.  This top Helix pop rock track is followed by the Helix of the 90s and today.  “Good to the Last Drop” is another ballad, but much brighter than “Deep Cuts the Knife”.  This is the original album mix, with minimal keyboards.  Then it’s “Runnin’ Wild in the 21st Century”, kicking your teeth in at lightspeed.  The last two songs feature some help from guitarist extraordinaire Sean Kelly.  A razor sharp “Even Jesus Wasn’t Loved in His Home Town” comes from 2014’s excellent Bastard of the Blues.  The aggressive rocker is based on the fact that Helix can’t even their new songs played on the radio in their home town of Kitchener, Ontario.  Finally, the 2016 single “Gene Simmons Says (Rock Is Dead)” tells the demon where it’s at!  Maybe Helix don’t get radio play in Canada but rock ain’t dead — not if Vollmer and Co. have anything to say about it!

When it comes to Helix compilations, they are so numerous that you can really take your pick.  If you really care about the band, then just buy ’em direct from Vollmer at Planet Helix.  There are loads to choose from, but only this one was ever made on vinyl.  Or, you can just go CD!  Either way, support the boys if you’re gonna buy some Helix.

4/5 stars

#742: Returning the Rock

GETTING MORE TALE #742: Returning the Rock

There’s a recurring theme in fiction that I like a lot. It’s the idea that you have to return an object back to its origin point.  The One Ring had to be returned to the fires of Mordor where it was made.  Or the recovery of Luke’s lightsaber and its journey back to Skywalker.  Roger’s golden turd returning to his anus in order to destroy it.

Countless years ago, Iron Tom Sharpe gave me a tremendous gift.  You’ve seen it here before; the giant Iron Maiden “Holy Smoke” poster signed by all five members.  It was mounted and hung here in LeBrain HQ for over a decade.  Tom just didn’t have room for it anymore.  He gave me a bunch of his posters, but that was the crown jewel.

Now the times have changed and I’m the one who doesn’t have room.  This week, I removed at least 20 full bags of possessions from my place and we’re still going strong with lots to go.  Tom sent me a message.  “What’s with losing your possessions, are you going Buddhist?”  Hah!  No man, it’s just physics.  You can only store so much stuff in a condo.  “Do you still have that old Maiden poster?” he asked.  I thought about it, and then it hit me.  I knew what I had to do.

I had to return the Maiden poster to its originator.  Tom picked it up, and it is back where it should be.  I like to think of it as I was storing it for him the last 15 years.  I like the poetry of that.

Well, I’d better get back at it.  This place isn’t going to clean itself!

REVIEW: Helix – Long Way to Heaven (1985)

HELIX – Long Way to Heaven (1985 Capitol Records)

Helix’s fifth album was an important one.  They were following the “big hit” album (Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge) and there were expectations.  The band collected another batch of original material and hit the studio with producer Tom Treumuth again.

1985’s Long Way to Heaven is the second album with the “classic” Helix lineup:  Brian Vollmer, Brent “the Doctor” Doerner, Paul Hackman, Greg “Fritz” Hinz and Daryl Gray.  All but drummer Fritz contributed songs, with Vollmer, Hackman and Doerner leading the pack.

The two singles were the opening tracks.  “The Kids Are All Shakin’” is a catchy for American radio play.  It has always been a damn fine song.

Down in New York City,
All the way to L.A.,
Boys and girls are gonna shake it,
Yeah, each and every day.

There’s also a reference to a fan letter from Poland that was a big deal to the band at the time.  “Kids Are All Shakin’” is a great rock and roll celebration, but the single version with additional keyboards is better.

The other single was the hit acoustic/electric ballad “Deep Cuts the Knife” written by Hackman and Bob Halligan, Jr.  To this day it remains one of, if not the very best ballad Helix have done.  It has atmosphere and bite, and a killer vocal performance by Brian Vollmer.

There are good tracks after the first two, but nothing quite as memorable.  “Ride the Rocket” (Vollmer/Halligan) is fun but silly.  I’m sure you can guess what kind of rocket Brian is singing about when he says “Reach in the pocket”.  Other decent songs include the title track, which has a great chorus melody, and the heavy-as-fuck “House on Fire”.  There’s also another ballad called “Without You (Jasmine’s Song)” that is worthy of praise.

There is nothing wrong with any of the other tunes, and some have some pretty cool moments.  “Don’t Touch the Merchandise” has a nifty a cappella section that proves what great vocalists the band are.  It’s just that none of the other songs really have a lot of staying power in the brain.

Long Way to Heaven was one of those follow-ups that was good enough, but always remain in the shadow of the more successful predecessors.

3.25/5 stars