covers

REVIEW: Def Leppard – Yeah! Live (CD Collection Volume 3)

Part Thirty-Nine of the Def Leppard Review Series

DEF LEPPARD – Yeah! Live (CD Collection Volume 3 Disc 6) (2021)

On the very last disc of the third volume of Def Leppard’s CD Collection box set series, we finally take some previously missing B-sides off the table and into your collection.  This is the shortest of the discs in this set, with only eight tracks.  However the rarity firepower is high.  They call it Yeah! Live, making it the third album in the ret-conned Yeah! covers series.

1. It’s almost inexcusable that “Elected” hasn’t popped on these box sets yet, being a 1987 live version with Steve Clark, released in 1992 on the “Heaven Is” CD single.  Its most logical release point was the fine 2006 deluxe edition of Hysteria, chronologically speaking, but it was not included on the otherwise comprehensive 7 disc 2017 Hysteria box set either.  For a while it seemed this B-side had slipped through the cracks, but here it is opening Yeah! Live.  It is the second time an Alice Cooper song has appeared in this box set, though this is obviously the earliest recording of them all.  Screamin’ Joe is in prime-time form and Steve Clark has been missed on this box set.

2. “Action”.  Completing the Target bonus tracks from the Yeah! release, its “Action” live.  Recorded somewhere on the 2005 tour, here it is, and it’s a stunningly good version.  Leppard at their heaviest, covering Sweet.  No problem.  Thanks for checking this box in the collection.

3. “No Matter What”.  The last of the Best Buy bonus tracks from the Yeah! album.  Same as above, recorded live somewhere unspecified on the 2005 tour.  The Leppard studio original was included on the main Yeah! track listing, but this is its first and only live release to date.  Nice solid pop rock, and a good version to boot.

4. “Rock On”.  Recorded live in 2006.  Not a bad version in fact, of a song that’s pretty “meh” usually.  They take it to a really Zeppelin-y “Levy Breaks” kind of place at the end.  It does not say “previously unreleased” on this track, but it also does not state where it was released before.  You can get different live versions on the Leppard releases The Lost SessionsAnd There Will Be A Next Time…, and Mirrorball Live.

5. “Travelling Band” with Brian May, live in 1983.  I’ll quote myself from my review of Pyromania Live from the deluxe edition of that album:  “The long friendship between Leppard and Queen began right here.  A cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Travelling Band’ is the earliest recording of Joe and May together, but certainly not the last!  This is not only a piece of history, but it’s a brilliant track!  Joe’s screaming voice is strangely well suited to an overblown CCR cover.  But hearing the guitar trio solo together, each with their own style, is the real icing on the cake.  May is so creamy!”

6. “Now I’m Here” with Brian May, live in 1992.  From the Freddie Mercury tribute concert, and previously released on the Adrenalize deluxe and the 1993 “Tonight” CD single.  A brilliant version of one of Queen’s hard rockers, and the Brian May solo is as thrilling as you’d expect.  One of the highlight performances at the Freddie Mercury concert.

7. “20th Century Boy” with Brian May, live in 2006 from the VH1 Rock Honors show.  Previously unreleased!  Automatically superior to Leppard’s studio version due to the wall of guitars caused by the presence of Dr. Brian May.  Awesome solo work.

8. “All The Young Dudes” with Ian Hunter, from Hunter’s rare Once Bitten Twice Shy album.  First ever release on a Def Leppard collection.  Joe’s favourite song and really thick sounding.  Too thick, perhaps.  Ian Hunter takes all the lead vocals with Leppard joining him on the backings.  Really cool to end this box set with Ian Hunter, and nice to finally get this song.  Scratch it off your wishlists.

Pretty good, if a bit weird, collection of all the live covers not included on previous discs in this series, and some unreleased stuff too.  It’s a bit odd to get stuff like “Elected” and “Travelling Band” that are better suited to earlier discs, but here they are and that’s what’s important.  That brings Vol 3 of the CD Collection to an end, and it’s nice to have closure for some of the single B-sides.

3.5/5 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!  (Recored 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

Next:

40. Mirror Ball – Live & More (Japanese import)
41. iTunes re-recordings
42. Viva Hysteria

REVIEW: Def Leppard – Yeah! II (CD Collection Volume 3)

Part Thirty-Eight of the Def Leppard Review Series

DEF LEPPARD – Yeah! II (CD Collection Volume 3 Disc 5) (2021)

This disc, exclusive to the box set, isn’t really a sequel to Yeah! as the title implies.  This CD instead collects all the Yeah! bonus tracks (aside from the live ones – they’ll be coming next week) and a few other covers from single B-sides.  19 tracks total, this is the collector’s dream disc for knocking a few rarities off the list.  There are also B-sides here going back to Adrenalize, so well overdue to appear in this series of box sets.  If you were wondering, “Hey, how come ‘Little Wing’ hasn’t popped up in this set yet even though it goes all the way back to 1992?”, now you know.

There is a lot of information here to digest, so buckle up!

1. “Only After Dark”, the original B-side mix (as opposed to Retro-Active remix) leads us off.  This Mick Ronson cover was the first Adrenalize B-side, from “Let’s Get Rocked” in 1992.  The remix added guitar overdubs by Vivian Campbell, but this one is all Phil Collen.  Great tune, and perfect for Leppard to cover.  Upbeat, cool riff, great playing by Phil and vocal performance by Joe Elliott.

2. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.  This and the next track are by The Acoustic Hippies From Hell, which was Def Leppard plus three Hothouse Flowers:  Fiachna Ó Braonáin, Liam Ó Maonlaí, and  Peter O’Toole.  Tin whistle, piano and mandolin are interesting accents for Def Leppard, but this is a brilliant cover, essentially live in the studio.  These Acoustic Hippies tracks originated from the 1992 “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” single.  Notably, this group also recorded the Leppard original “From The Inside”, so the sound is similar.  Brilliant if surprising.  Especially considering this song is so difficult to cover without wrecking completely.

3. “Little Wing”.  Also by the Acoustic Hippies From Hell, and also from the ’92 “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” single.  Quieter, darker, and slightly trippy.  The tin whistle here is really something and is the only solo instrument.

4. “Ziggy Stardust”.  This track is from the 1996 UK “Slang” single, and it is another acoustic performance.  It would not be a stretch to say it is one of Leppard’s finest covers.  I daresay nobody covers David Bowie better than superfan Joe Elliott.  An shimmery acoustic stunner.

5. “Under My Wheels”.  Very rare track from the 1999 “Goodbye” single.  Not the first time Leppard have covered Alice Cooper, but we won’t get to the first time until next time!  Very confusing, I know.  Good, if stock, cover.  Lots of bands have tackled “Under My Wheels” over the years, but the unexpected sax solo is a treat!

6. “Who Do You Love?”.  Also from the “Goodbye” single.  This Ian Hunter cover is a bit forgettable unfortunately.  It replicates the thump of the original but lacks the same sass (and harmonica).

7. “Rebel Rebel”.  Back to Bowie and another great version.  Another rarity, originating with the 2002 single for “Now”.  Electric Bowie this time, and performed near-perfect.

8. “Led Boots” from the 1996 “All I Want Is Everything” single, and not performed by Def Leppard.  It was recorded by Vivian Campbell as a solo artist for a Jeff Beck tribute album called Jeffology.  This one is way out in left field compared to the others, being a funky zig-zag of a song.  That’s Jay Schellen from Hurricane playing those funky drums, and John Alderette from Racer X on bass.  Very much in the vein of early, jammy Journey and a side of Vivian you never get to hear.

9. “‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers”.  Phil Collen’s solo Beck cover featuring the same rhythm section as Viv’s, with Billy Sherwood on Rhodes.  From the same 1996 CD single as well.  This song cries; it just weeps.  Again, a side of the guitarist that you never get to hear.  You’ve never heard Phil play so slow!  (Don’t worry, he burns it up later.)  Full of feel and one of the guitarist’s most memorable performances.

10. “Search and Destroy”.  Finally, onto the bonus tracks from different versions of the Yeah! album.  The Iggy & the Stooges cover “Search and Destroy” originated on the Walmart bonus CD.  It features Phil Collen on all instruments and lead vocals.  If it wasn’t for the expert solo work, you could call it fully-fledged punk.  Phil captures a snotty vocal vibe, and you gotta say it sounds authentic.

11. “How Does It Feel?”.  SERIOUS RARITY ALERT!  The only way to get this track was by iTunes download, and only with the initial release of Yeah!.  The song was discontinued thereafter and you were out of luck.  Therefore, this is a first time physical release!  The piano-based Slade cover features Joe on all instruments (piano and acoustic guitar).  It’s a beauty that sounds very different from the typical Slade sound.  Melodic as hell and Joe does a bang-up job.

12. “Roxanne”.  Another serious rarity, a previously unreleased Phil Collen demo of the Police classic.  Unsurprisingly, Phil has a Sting-like voice, so it sounds about right, though Phil sings it in an understated way.  It’s funky and Phil’s solo is perfect butter on top.

13. “Dear Friends”, a Queen cover by Rick Savage, is an album highlight.  Originally from the Walmart bonus CD, it features Sav on vocals and all instruments.  And holy shit, dear friends, did Rick ever go in left field!  Although it begins similar to the Queen original with soft layered vocals, it then goes in a Live Killers “We Will Rock You” hard rock direction!  Almost a punk rock speed to it.

14. “Winter Song”.  A seasonal sounding acoustic Lindisfarne cover from the Best Buy edition of Yeah!  (One of two Best Buy bonus tracks, with the second one appearing on Yeah! Live.)  Lindisfarne were a folk rock combo, and this version is performed as a duo by Joe and Sav.  A great addition to your favourite homebrew Christmas mix CD.

15. “American Girl”.  Fabulous Tom Petty cover from the Walmart bonus CD.  Performed by Joe and Viv, with Mark Danzeisen on drums.  Another disc highlight.  Joe and Viv captured everything you like about the song.  Its spunky upbeat vibe lasts all night.

16. “Heartbeat”.  Joe calls this cover the most “out there” of them all, but I think that honour has to go to “Dear Friends”.  “Heartbeat” was by Jobriath, the first openly gay artist signed to a major label record deal.  He only made two albums before fading into obscurity.  It’s a beautiful piano ballad performed by Joe.  You could originally get it on the Walmart bonus CD.

17. “Space Oddity”.  The final Bowie cover and fifth & final track from the Walmart bonus CD.  Joe on all instruments.  Lovely version but it’s hard to top the sheer vibe of the original, no matter how faithful.  At best you can say it’s a nice reproduction.  At worst, it’s unnecessary.  However it was recorded as a gift from Joe to his dad, so can you really blame anyone?  Not at all.

18. “When I’m Dead and Gone”.  Target was the last chain to get exclusive bonus tracks, and like Best Buy they got two.  And like Best Buy, one was live and therefore appears on Yeah! Live.  The other Target bonus track was “When I’m Dead and Gone” by McGuiness Flint.  It is another folk rock cover, done up nice acoustically by Joe and Phil.  An album highlight; so damn melodic, upbeat and catchy!  And then it detours into “Ooh La La” for a minute.  The perfect ending!

19. “Stay With Me”.  Closing Yeah! II just like it closed Yeah! is The Faces’ “Stay With Me”.  This is an earlier B-side version from the “Now” CD single (2002).  Phil Collen takes on the raspy Rod Stewart lead vocal (and probably had to gargle salt water for several days after).  The version from Yeah! sounds more full than this original, but you gotta have ’em all or it ain’t complete, is it?

So there you have Yeah II, a mixed bag of a compilation from all kinds of singles and assorted releases.  One more disc of covers to go before we’re done, but Yeah II is the best listen of the three.  Though long, it has the variety and fearlessness that sounds great on the speakers compared to the original Yeah!.

4/5 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!  (Recored 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

Next:

39. Yeah! Live
40. Mirror Ball – Live & More (Japanese import)
41. iTunes re-recordings

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Turning to Crime (2021 / bonus track)

DEEP PURPLE – Turning to Crime (2021 Edel / mailing list bonus track)

Deep Purple are more known as the kind of band that people cover, rather than a band known for doing covers.  Sure, “Hush” (Billy Joe Royal) was a hit.  “Kentucky Woman” (Neil Diamond) was almost a hit.  Their first three records are cover-heavy, but that was the 1960s.  Live covers, like “Lucille” (Little Richard) or “Green Onions” (Booker T. & the M.G.’s) were more of an in-concert thing.  Until the surprising inclusion of “Roadhouse Blues” (The Doors) on 2017’s InFinite.

Stir in another surprise: a worldwide pandemic!  You get one of the world’s greatest bands doing a covers album to keep from going stir-crazy!  Re-teaming with producer Bob Ezrin, the boys in Deep Purple decided to turn to crime and steal songs from other artists.  With twelve tracks plus one bonus, it’s 53 minutes of Deep Purple doing their thang all over the oldies.  How salacious!

The excellent packaging even tells you who did the original tunes if you didn’t already know.  Love’s “7 & 7 Is” has been covered numerous times by our beloved rock artists, including Alice Cooper (twice) and Rush.  Without comparing, the charm of Purple’s version is threefold: 1) Ian Gillan’s mannerisms on lead vocals, 2) Ian Paice’s pace, and 3) Don Airey’s quaint 80s backing keyboards.  Not to be outdone, Steve Morse turns in a solo that can only be described as brief but epic.

Sax and horns join the for “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu”, once covered by Aerosmith.  You so rarely get to hear Deep Purple gettin’ down with a horn section (although they once did a whole tour based on that concept).  It’s brilliant, and listen for a nod to “Smoke on the Water” in a musical Easter egg.  “Rockin’ Pneumonia” is reminiscent of “Purple People Eater” from Gillan/Glover.

Like a polar opposite, Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well” is built tough and heavy.  Morse plays the main blues riff on an acoustic, while Don Airey’s big Hammond roars behind.  This smoker will sound great if Purple play it live.  Meanwhile, 73 year old Ian Paice plays those drums like a berzerker.

Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels were an influence on early Purple.  Ritchie Blackmore confessed to appropriating their kind of beat for “Kentucky Woman”.  You can absolutely hear that here on “Jenny Take A Ride!”.  The two songs are connected via Purple’s playing.  There’s also a mid-track segue into one of Gillan’s big influences, Little Richard’s “Jenny Jenny”.

Bob Dylan isn’t an artist you think of in conjunction with Deep Purple.  “Watching the River Flow” has a beat you can get behind.  Ian Gillan’s actually the perfect singer to do Dylan, isn’t he?

The horns return on Ray Charles’ “Let the Good Times Roll”.  It sounds like “Deep Purple go Big Band”!  Which is not a bad thing.  Especially if you want a varied covers album.  Airey and Paicey really go for that jazz band vibe.  You can picture this one in a big smokey club somewhere in Chicago.

It’s Little Feat next with “Dixie Chicken”, a track we can assume came in via Steve Morse.  Airey and Morse are the stars here, but as a cover it’s a little nondescript.  The Yardbirds’ “Shapes of Things” is similarly like sonic colourlessness, though Roger Glover gets to shine a little.  They can’t all be highlights on this album.

Speaking of album highlights, this one will doubtless be divisive.  Some will think it’s too corny for Deep Purple, others will love the fact that it’s so different and Purple’s take is so original.  Lonnie Donegan’s version of “The Battle of New Orleans” is the main inspiration rather than Johnny Horton’s.  You can hear that in the beat.  But what might really surprise people about “The Battle of New Orleans” may be the singers.  For the first time, that’s Roger Glover up front.  Ian Gillan, Steve Morse and Bob Ezrin are also credited singers.  As for Purple’s arrangement, it’s jaunty and slightly progressive where the guitar is concerned.  It’s certainly not pure country though it does have plenty of twang and fiddle.  Crossover hit material?

The album has not necessarily peaked as there are still great tracks ahead.  “Lucifer” by the Bob Seger System is right up Purple’s alley.  Purple could easily put it in a concert setlist.  It’s jam-heavy and sounds right at home.  Another track in the same category is Cream’s “White Room”.  Keen-eared Purple aficionados will recall Purple opened for Cream on their first US tour.  Of course, only Ian Paice is still around from that tour, but he got to witness the original band play it every night.  It’s certainly odd hearing a band that is clearly Deep Purple playing such a recognizable Cream song, but damn they do it so well!  What’s amazing is these jams were recorded separately in home studios by family members.

The final track on CD and LP is “Caught in the Act”, a medley of famous songs that they Purple-ized.  Many of these, Purple have played live such as “Going Down” and “Green Onions”.  We’ll save some of the others as surprises.  They finish the medley with “Gimme Some Lovin'” by the Spencer Davis Group, and it’s a totally smashing way to finish an album that was some massively fun listening.

But it’s not really the last track if you signed up for Deep Purple’s Turning to Crime mailing list.  A specially numbered 13th track was emailed to those who subscribed.  “(I’m A) Roadrunner” by Junior Walker & the Allstars is another horn-laden Deep Purple soul jam.  Just drop it in the folder and it’s already pre-numbered as the last track on Turning to Crime.  Great sax solo!

What you won’t hear on Turning to Crime are any of Purple’s earlier classical influences, for those members are gone.  Nor will you get any Beatles whom Purple covered twice in the early days.

How many times will you end up reaching for a Deep Purple covers album to fill your speakers?  Hard to say, but know this — you will enjoy it every time you do.

3.75/5 stars

Sunday Screening: Jacob Moon – “Subdivisions”

Continuing with Friday’s theme of cover tunes, one of only a few that made multiple lists was Jacob Moon’s 2008 live rooftop rendition of Rush’s “Subdivions”.  A version that would earn the praise of Rush themselves.  You already heard Moon cover “Something For Nothing” on the 2112 boxed set.  Now hear and see the track that brought him to Rush’s attention in the first place:  “Subdivisions”!

 

Epic Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Cover Tunes Lists!

“I think it was safe to say that was by far my most favourite show.” – Chris T

Thank you Rob, Aaron, T-Bone, Harrison and Meat Man for tonight’s amazing panel.  The theme was Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Cover Tunes, brought to you by Meat.  Six lists, 66 songs, and very little overlap.  Having said that, there was one tune that made three lists, from an album that made four lists.  Watch the show to see what it was, or read Aaron’s notes below!

The lists commence at 0:20:30.

Incidentally, this show was record setting in terms of audience participation.  So many amazing picks and comments — most of them made in on screen, so check them out.

Once again your panel for this show was:

Ripping the Covers Off: Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Cover Tunes…tonight on the LeBrain Train

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 64 – Nigel Tufnel Top Ten Cover Tunes

This week’s theme comes from your very own Uncle Meat:  best cover tunes!  And because it’s the Nigel Tufnel Top Ten, that means we’ll each have lists of 11.

Your panel this week:

Expect a very, very special beer de-canning tonight.

As always, it’s best to tune in live so you can participate!  Subscribe to my YouTube and let’s push it to the 1000 mark!

Friday May 14, 7:00 PM E.S.T. on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE AND NOTES:

As an experiment, and because we have so many special guests lined up, I’ve decided to try doing Saturday shows every once in a while.  This will give more friends the chance to participate!

New additions:  Tim Durling from the far more popular Tim’s Vinyl Confessions is up on Satuday May 29, at 3:00 PM.  You may have seen Tim on The Contrarians — he has done two episodes now.  The subject will be best Album Cover Designers.  Aaron will be joining us for that one!

We also have a theme for the June 11 show.  Best “Blind Buys” — albums you bought without knowing any songs or much about the artists.  The panel that night will be Aaron, Sarah, Kevin and, all the way from Scotland, J aka Jim Dead!

All aboard!

REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – Still Not Black Enough (both versions)

STILL NOT BLACK ENOUGH_0001

W.A.S.P. – Still Not Black Enough (Castle, US and UK versions)

This one came up due to some discussion between myself and Jon Wilmenius who suggested that I not outright dismiss Still Not Black Enough.  I decided to give it a listen again, all the tracks from both versions, and listen with an open mind.  I haven’t listened to this album in years.  I went through a brief W.A.S.P. phase not long after quitting the store.  I bought Helldorado, Unholy Terror, and both Neon God CDs, which might not have been a good idea; doing so many at once.

Still Not Black Enough was a treat to revisit.  It’s top-loaded with some pretty great W.A.S.P. songs.  In fact the album rocks and rolls along quite excellently for four solid tracks in a row:  “Still Not Black Enough”, “Skinwalker”, “Black Forever” and the awesome “Scared To Death”.  I’ve never heard Blackie attempt anything like “Scared To Death” before.  Female backing vocals on a W.A.S.P. album?  It actually works, and brings this track to a much higher level.   Nothing wrong with the other three songs either — all are catchy, heavy W.A.S.P. songs with that Crimson Idol sound.

The album skids to a halt upon track 5, “Goodbye America”.  The unfortunate thing is that “Goodbye America” is a great W.A.S.P. song, kinda similar to “Chainsaw Charlie”, like a shorter twin brother.  Blackie chose to introduce it with a boring, spoken word political thing, which sucks all the air out of the room.  Cut the shit, Blackie.  You’re a rock star who drinks fake blood from a fake skull for a living.  Leave the politics to Bono on the left and Ted on the right.  Shit, even Ted doesn’t write his songs about it.

After a rousing cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love”, Blackie gets out the piano and does the first ballad of the album.  It’s essentially a reprise to “Hold Onto My Heart” from Crimson Idol.  It’s even called “Keep Holding On”.  Nice song, but no need to do it twice.  OK sure, “Keep Holding On” is a different slant, on a lot of different instruments, but it’s the same damn song.

“Rock And Roll To Death” is both old (previously released on 1993’s excellent First Blood…Last Cuts compilation) and too gimmicky.  It’s an old-timey rock and roll song a-la Chuck Berry played metal style.  I guess it’s supposed to sound like “old W.A.S.P.”, like “Blind In Texas”?  Regardless it’s out of place on Still Not Black Enough, and it was already on the last album, so to me, that means “delete”.

The original ten-track version of the CD placed a ballad here, after “Rock And Roll To Death”.  The acoustic-with-strings ballad “Breathe” was removed from the re-release, and I get why.  It’s similar once again to Crimson Idol songs like “The Idol” and “Hold On To My Heart”.  The actual sonic quality of the song is not good at all, it sounds like a demo.  The drums are obviously not real, they sound like a drum program.  The strings are obviously synth.  It sounds unfinished, compared to the rest of the album.


No matter which version of the CD you buy, track 9 is “I Can’t”.  It’s also acoustic, so again it’s good they removed “Breathe” from the CD, two acoustic songs in a row is too much for a W.A.S.P. album.  This one’s a little edgier, it’s not a ballad.  It’s more a cheesy bad-ass cowboy song with gratuitous “fucks”.  Thankfully it turns electric at the end.  Track ten, and original album closer, is “No Way Out Of Here” which sounds like any number of songs from Crimson Idol.  The similarities are more than superficial.  There are lyrical references to that album, and both albums were performed by the same band:  Frankie Banali and Bob Kulick.

The re-release of Still Not Black Enough has three bonus tracks.  (It also has “Skinwalker” which was track 2, but not on the original release of the CD.)  Track 11 is “One Tribe”, which is pretty different and pretty cool.  It’s a softer song, but it’s about the most original song on the album.  It has strong melodies, and a dramatic enough arrangement.  There’s also what sounds like an electric violin solo!  Lyrically, this sounds like redemption.

Then come the unnecessary covers:  “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Whole Lotta Rosie”.  Of the two, I would say “Tie Your Mother Down” works best.  It brings back the female backing vocals from “Scared To Death” and it’s fun!  “Whole Lotta Rosie” isn’t particularly notable.

I was surprised that I like Still Not Black Enough as much as I do.  I dismissed it outright years ago as an inferior clone of Crimson Idol.  It has moments like that, most definitely.   It’s also a pretty enjoyable listen, and now that I’ve dusted it off, I’ll spin it a couple more times.  Regardless of which version you get (track listings for both below), I think Still Not Black Enough is worth about:

3.5/5 stars