cozy powell

REVIEW: Rainbow – Live in Munich 1977 (vinyl)

Thanks for joining me this week for my Deep Purple Project. I admit that this review is a bit of a cop-out. I got dreadfully sick with the flu a week ago and was not able to finish any more Purple reviews for this week. I pulled an old one out of the hopper instead. This is close to Purple,  — the Man in Black himself, and Blackmore’s Rainbow. This review is for music writer Victim of the Fury!

RAINBOW – Live in Munich 1977 (2013 Eagle Rock 180 gram 2 LP set)

Something about listening to classic rock with that rich, warm sound of pristine vinyl played on nice big speakers for the first time…is there anything better?  Dropping the needle on side A, let us begin the ritual of properly listening to a double live album.

This 180 gram was a birthday gift from my sis, knowing my love of all things Ronnie James Dio. Not to be confused with the double CD Live in Germany 1976, this freshly mastered concert was recorded in 1977 for German television.  Dio was one hell of a powerhouse, especially in 1977.  Live in Munich contains what must stand as one of the best Dio performances caught on tape.  This was caught just before the album release for Love Live Rock ‘n’  Roll.  “Kill the King” was a storming opening and the live recording is all but flawless.  If Rainbow could be faulted for anything at this point in their brief life, perhaps they played too many long jams on stage.  “Mistreated”, the Deep Purple concert favourite, is the first of these.  As usual for the Man in Black, Ritchie Blackmore himself, the song is almost 12 minutes in length when stretched out live.

Lets not get into comparing Ronnie James Dio to David Coverdale. There’s no point to that.  As with Black Sabbath, you either like Ronnie’s interpretation or you don’t.  Regardless is it drummer Cozy Powell who detours most noticeable from the Deep Purple original, doing a busier blast than Ian Paice did.  As for Blackmore, his solo spans the entire spectrum delightfully.  He fluffs it for a moment, only to immediately take control and keep going.  This is a brilliant version of a song we have heard many times.  Ritchie then takes center stage for a delicate workout to “Greensleeves”, before blasting into the Rainbow barnstormer.  Once again, this is probably the best live version on tape.

IMG_20151108_111910Flipping the record to side B, we are treated to Ritchie seemingly tuning his guitar…melodically…working his way into a lengthy “Catch the Rainbow” including classical interludes.  There’s more than a little “Little Wing” within “Catch the Rainbow”, which Ritchie plays into.  Bassist Bob Daisley sings the angelic backing vocals, proving why he has been such an integral member to so many bands over the years.  In fact this would have to be one of the strongest Rainbow lineups, period.  Keyboardist David Stone rounded out the quintet, and he is kept busy on “Catch the Rainbow”.  The brand new song “Love Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” is next, and a few people in the crowd indicate they may already know the song!  It is presented more Deep Purple in style (hints of “Black Night”), perhaps a bit more laid back with nice flashes of organ here and there.

The second LP has to shuffle the track order out of necessity.  “Still I’m Sad” is 25 minutes, so it must occupy all of side C, even though it was played after “Man on the Silver Mountain” in concert.  There is something about a side of vinyl that contains one monolithic slab of music in only one track.  It feels like a challenge, a solo-laden endurance challenge.  Once it starts rolling, it becomes one of the most intense versions of the song yet recorded by Rainbow.  Then it goes all over the place as pretty much every member has moments to shine.  It’s way too much and it’s way over the top and taxing even to the staunching rock fans.  It was 1977 and this is the way it went down!

Settling in for the final slab o’rock, side D is also daunting with two tracks of 15 minutes apiece. Purple’s “Lazy” is teased out, as part of “Man on the Silver Mountain”. Lots of soloing and noodling abound, and the big weakness with this period of Rainbow is that they thought we needed this much of it. The segue into “Starstruck” is way more fun. More solos and a frantic “Do You Close Your Eyes” ends the concert. Stone’s keyboard solo is cheesy fun, but overall this is another great over the top performance from Rainbow. You can hear a guitar destroyed at the end of it all.

Double lives are best experienced on vinyl, and pristine 180 gram records fit the bill perfectly. If you’re going to go double live for Rainbow, do it with Live in Munich.

4/5 stars

A
1. “Kill the King”
2. “Mistreated”
3. “Sixteenth Century Greensleeves”

B
1. “Catch the Rainbow”
2. “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll”

C
1. “Still I’m Sad”

D
1. “Man on the Silver Mountain”
2. “Do You Close Your Eyes”

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REVIEW: Whitesnake – Greatest Hits (1994)

WSWHITESNAKE – Greatest Hits (1994 Geffen)

I don’t own this CD.  Never have, actually.  I gave it enough in-store play (only while working alone!) that I have no problem reviewing it. This Greatest Hits CD dates back to 1994, the year I first started working at the Record Store. As such, it was the first ever official Whitesnake Greatest Hits CD, the first of many. The band had been broken up for about four years at that point. Even by 1994 standards, it was only an OK release. It did contain some rare tracks, but was limited to Whitesnake’s 1984-1989 Geffen output only. For budget-priced collections, I would recommend the cheaper 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection because it still has all the hit singles from that period at a lower price. For fans who need more, the much better Whitesnake Gold or Silver Anniversary Collection make a more complete picture with more rarities and deep album cuts. These of course weren’t available in 1994.  Today music buyers have a lot more to choose from.

One inclusion that some listeners may not enjoy about Greatest Hits is the version of “Here I Go Again” chosen. This is not the well-known album version that most people have heard. This is the “single remix” with different guitar solos (by guest Dan Huff) and more keyboards. Some radio stations do play it from time to time, but I think most casual buyers would listen to this and say, “I don’t like it as much”.  And nor do I, but it is a rarity.

Otherwise, this album (like 20th Century Masters) contains every hit single from the period, and nothing from the blues-based records before. It does feature some other cool rarities: the B-side “Sweet Lady Luck” featuring Steve Vai, “Looking For Love”, and “You’re Gonna Break My Heart Again”. However, with the many compilations and remasters released since 1994, these songs are no longer hard to find. “Sweet Lady Luck” was even released on a Steve Vai boxed set!

Rounding out this selection of hits and rare tracks are deeper album cuts.  These are include the glossy Kashmir-esque “Judgement Day”, “Crying in the Rain ’87”, “Slow Poke Music” and the wicked “Slide It In”.  They help balance out the ballad-y hits that Whitesnake were adept at writing.

Interestingly, when this album was released, David Coverdale assembled a new, shortlived Whitesnake and toured for it. That version of Whitesnake included former members Rudy Sarzo and Adrian Vandenberg, both of the 1987-1990 version of the band. It also included drummer Denny Carmassi (Coverdale-Page) and guitarist Warren DeMartini (Ratt). Shame that no live recordings from this version of the band have never been released. The band disolved for several year again after this, only to reform in 1997 with a new lineup including Carmassi and Vandenberg.

This album is only mildly better than 20th Century Masters, but is inferior to the more recent, more comprehensive compilations I have mentioned. Buy at a sensible price point.

2/5 stars
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REVIEW: Whitesnake – Live in ’84 – Back to the Bone (DVD/CD)

It’s Purple Week at mikeladano.com!  It’s all Deep Purple and Deep Purple alumni, all week.  This is Part 4…and once again we’re going Epic Review Time.  It’s Deep Purple Mk III’s lead throat, David Coverdale & Whitesnake!  This is almost a new release; it’s about four months old.

Part 1:  Shades of Deep Purple
Part 2:  The Book of Taliesyn
Part 3:  Perfect Strangers

WHITESNAKE – Live in ’84 – Back to the Bone (2014 Frontiers Deluxe edition DVD/CD)

David Coverdale has been pretty good to the fans, in terms of giving them live archival releases from the periods they care about.  In addition to cranking out studio and live releases with the current Whitesnake lineup, David has issued deluxe editions of certain albums along with the long awaited 3 disc set Live at Donnington 1990. Now it’s the 30th anniversary of the Slide It In album, so David has issued a live retrospective set from that period too.  A CD and DVD set documenting the John Sykes years is almost a guaranteed slam dunk in itself, but how does it stack up when we break it down?  Let us take a look at the DVD and CD portions in detail.

Super-Rock Japan ’84

The main program of the release is on the DVD, and the main focus of the DVD is Super-Rock Japan ’84.  It is an 11 song set taken from Japanese television.  This is the legendary four-piece lineup: David Coverdale, John Sykes, Cozy Powell, and Neil Murray.  There is no doubt that even though the band had been trimmed down, they sounded powerful.  I just really hate when an interview is inserted right between the first and second song.  There’s no reason to ever interrupt a song on a live video, but editors do it all the time!  It’s interesting seeing Whitesnake in a single-guitar lineup, but there is obviously a backstage keyboard player (Richard Bailey).  The chops of John Sykes are such a welcome addition to the Whitesnake sound.  He has a “chug” that few other guitar players have.  Cozy Powell is as on-point as ever, but David Coverdale’s young lungs are remarkable.  At peak power, David prowls the stage and humps the microphone in complete control.

The highlight of this portion of the set is “Crying in the Rain”, almost but not quite like it would be performed on Whitesnake 1987.  I also enjoyed Sykes’ guitar solo.  Sykes makes some of the best guitar faces in rock, and he resembles a young David St. Hubbins with his shaggy mane.  “Soldier of Fortune” (an abridged version) was a pleasant surprise.  On the other hand, Cozy’s looong overblown drum solo would be more appropriate to his time in E.L.P. (Emerson Lake & Powell).  David must have been taking care of business backstage.

The video quality here is very good for an 80’s television broadcast.  Sound quality, also good.  David states in the liner notes that they weren’t able to find the master audio tapes, so this hasn’t been touched up too much.  I’m satisfied; in 1984 we didn’t have 1080p TVs in widescreen.

Only three songs from this were included on the CD: “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, “Ready An’ Willing”, and “Slow An’ Easy”.  That’s too bad.  I would have paid a little more to get a 3 disc version with a full CD of this show.  Just sayin’.

BACK TO THE BONE_0003

Jon Lord’s Final Whitesnake Performance

The passing of Jon Lord has been the biggest loss in rock, in recent memory.  This truly is a treasure.  From Swedish television and shot with multiple cameras, this looks even better than the Japan footage.  Shame it’s only four songs.  To have Jon there raises the bar several notches.  It’s a five-piece lineup, although the cameras spend so little time on Jon that you’d wonder if the keyboardist is offstage again!  (Jon’s wearing a white shirt in a black-topped band; he should be easy to spot but he’s not.)  “Gambler” goes directly into “Guilty of Love”, and it’s so strange to hear it with only one guitar.  With guys like Sykes and Powell in the band, they are very active on stage and the energy is plentiful.  “Love Ain’t No Stranger” is so much better with Jon than without.  You cannot understate how much difference that big bad Hammon organ makes.  Then David tells the audience that they are “Ready An’ Willing” for some sweet satisfaction!  From this brief four song set, I can at least conclude that Swedish television in the 80’s was better than Canadian television.  Strangely, on the CD, it is included as one solid 16 minute track with no breaks.

Slide It In Slide Show

This is actually a cooler feature than you might think.  These contain some snippets of writing demos for Slide It In.  In some, David’s talking to someone, and there’s a single guitar.  In others there is a full band, but the lyrics are not there yet.  You can hear some of the classic riffs taking shape.  The rest of the audio has vintage interviews with David and live music.  Unfortunately at times the “slideshow” portion of this turns into little more than a lyric video, defeating the purpose of having a photo slideshow.  The real treasure here is a live version of the B-side, “Need Your Love So Bad”, with just David and Jon.  I am disappointed that it is not on the CD.  Something that rare really should be.

BACK TO THE BONE_0002

Snakeskin Boots: The Best of the Bootlegs 

The main feature on the CD consists of bootleg and soundboard tapes.  I love bootleg recordings, and who can fault a band for beating the bootleggers and releasing the tapes officially?  Tapes were cleaned up as much as possible to make them listenable (David suggests the car as a good setting).  These songs were sort of arranged in the order of a live concert, so it still begins with “Gambler” and “Guilty of Love” like all the other sections.  “Gambler” sounds pretty good, only slightly muffled but with a hard pulse.  Sykes’ solo on “Guilty of Love” sends electric chills up the spine.  It’s great to hear the band so young and ferocious!

Cheeky David tells the crowd that the Slide It In album title does not refer to a banana!  “Love Ain’t No Stranger” is always a pleasure to hear, especially sung by a young David, and Sykes is shreddin’.  Then another cheeky intro: “I’d like to give you a toast.  If it’s in deep, and if it’s in long, and if it’s in hard…it’s indecent!”  That has to mean “Slow An’ Easy” is up next.  I will never tire of this excellent song.  “Walking in the Shadow of the Blues” is a nice surprise, but “Ready An’ Willing” is overplayed.

Sykes is given a couple minutes on his own to introduce “Crying in the Rain” with some bluesy soloing.  As great as this song is, this long version makes it clear why Whitesnake is a two guitar band.  They sound very bare when John again takes a long solo in the middle, and Neil Murray is left to fill the space.  David always wanted two guitar players, while John would have preferred not to share the spotlight.  “Soldier of Fortune” closes this portion of the CD, a nice version of the old Deep Purple classic.

The rest of the CD is dedicated to the three tunes from Super-Rock Japan that they chose to include, and the four songs from Jon Lord’s final Whitesnake show.  If you have a look at the tracklist you’ll notice that this means there’s a lot of repeat.

In closing

None of Coverdale’s archival releases or deluxe editions have been perfect.  Live in ’84 – Back to the Bone is probably the best of them yet.

4/5 stars

BACK TO THE BONE_0006

REVIEW: Rainbow – Finyl Vinyl (2 CD edition)

RAINBOW – Finyl Vinyl (1986, 2 CD Rainbow Remasters edition)

Finyl Vinyl was the third Rainbow album I bought, right after Rising and Straight Between the Eyes. The year was ’96, and the place was Dr. Disc.  I bought it on vinyl initially, because the original CD edition omitted two tracks for space limits (a major flaw with double albums issued in the early CD age). However what I did not know until recently was that the vinyl also omitted a song: “Street Of Dreams” which was only available on cassette!

This complete 2 CD remaster contains all the songs from all the versions.  For sheer portability reasons, it made sense for me to own this.  I have filed my vinyl copy away, and I now rely entirely on this new Universal CD version.

I love Finyl Vinyl and even though it was issued posthumously and consists mostly of unreleased live songs, I think it’s one of the most enjoyable Rainbow albums to listen to. It contains music from all three of the original Rainbow eras: Dio, Bonnett, and Turner. It leans most heavily on the Joe Lynn Turner era, with only a couple songs from the Ronnie James Dio era. Graham Bonnett also appears on two songs, and there is an instrumental B-side from his Down To Earth era as well. It is worth noting that the B-sides contained herein have been issued on other albums since.

Finyl Vinyl contains a lot of my favourites, and in great versions too: “I Surrender” and “Miss Mistreated” sound great live. Pop rock goodness, made classy as only Blackmore/Turner can do it.  “Jealous Lover” is a standout midtempo burner from the Joe Lynn era.  Blackmore’s picking is resplendent.  Unfortunately the two Dio-era songs don’t have the fidelity of the later Turner recordings, but you can’t have a Rainbow collection without representing Ronnie James.  That is done via unreleased 1978 live versions of “Man on the Silver Mountain” and “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll”.

My only complaint: The photos inside are too damn small and blurry. One of my favourite things about the vinyl release was that there were pictures of almost every incarnation of Rainbow, but here you can barely tell who’s who. Too small, too blurry like a bad scan; the booklet should have been expanded. Also, the credits still contain some errors that were never corrected from the original vinyl issue (see Wikipedia).

Still, great music, and finylly (ha ha) complete!

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Rainbow – Rising (2011 Deluxe Edition)

“There’s no sun in the shadow of the wizard, See how he glides, Why he’s lighter than air”

RAINBOW RISING_0001RAINBOW – Rising (2011 deluxe edition)

I believe I’m well on record for being a connoisseur of deluxe editions.  I love to collect all the extra music, check out the liner notes, and feast on unreleased tracks.  The problem with Rainbow Rising is that no extra unreleased songs or demos survived. So, what you’ll get is three different and complete versions of Rainbow Rising, plus a tour rehearsal version of the quintessential Rainbow song, “Stargazer”. If you don’t want to hear the whole album three times in a row, plus a fourth version of “Stargazer”, then don’t buy this disc. Just stick with the regular CD.

The three versions of the album inside include a previously unreleased rough mix. This one is especially interesting because a lot of these song versions run slightly longer than the original album versions. Therefore, you will hear some valuable performance stuff that you haven’t heard before. The other two versions of the album include the “LA Mix” and “New York Mix”. The liner notes don’t go into detail here, but the original LP and CD versions of Rising had different mixes, and now they’re both here in one place. The differences are subtle, but those intimate with the album will recognize slightly different keyboard, vocal, and guitar parts. Previous to this, I had only owned the original CD edition, which was the “LA Mix”. Later CD editions had the “New York Mix” which I haven’t heard until now.RAINBOW RISING_0006

Lastly there is a tour rehearsal version of “Stargazer” from Pirate Sound, where Deep Purple rehearsed Come Taste the Band. It is surprisingly lo-fi considering where it was recorded. It sounds like somebody taped it on a hand held cassette deck. Not very listenable unfortunately, and kind of baffling why something this lo-fi would have been included at all. You can barely hear Dio at all at some points.  Still, there was room for it and why waste plastic, right?

This album itself is probably Rainbow’s best. That’s just my opinion. The renowned Martin Popoff ranked Down to Earth higher, but he did rank Rising highest of the Dio-era. I think five of these six songs are incredible. The only one I’m not especially fond of is “Do You Close Your Eyes”, which I just find doesn’t fit the overall darker direction of the album.  It would have sounded better on Blackmore’s Rainbow.  “Tarot Woman”, the album opener, is one of the most incredible songs Dio’s ever done. It’s absolutely a highlight of his storied career.  Cozy’s drum pounding is monumental throughout. “Light In The Black” is just furious jamming throughout. Incredible playing. And of course “Stargazer” is purely epic. The lyrics are cool and the keyboards just take the whole thing to another level. If I could only play one Rainbow song for the rest of my life, it would be “Stargazer”.

RAINBOW RISING_0004

The liner notes don’t the mention any sources or history about the three different mixes at all, and I don’t really know anything about it. There is, however, a great interview with keyboardist Tony Carey, supplemented by an old one with Cozy Powell. The packaging, including cover art from Ken Kelly (Kiss Destroyer), looks amazing in digipack form.

While normally Rainbow Rising would be a 5 star winner, hands down, I left this deluxe edition feeling slightly disappointed. It is what it is, but I think I would have preferred some different bonus material. Maybe some live stuff. If no outtakes or extra songs exist in the vaults, there’s only so much you can include I guess.

5/5 stars for Rising

4/5 stars for Deluxe Edition

REVIEW: Black Sabbath – The Sabbath Stones (1996)

Bought at HMV, Stone Road Mall, Guelph ON, on import for $29.99 in 1996.

BLACK SABBATH – The Sabbath Stones (1996 IRS)

The Sabbath Stones, a record-company cash-grab, is a greatest hits compilation of Sabbath’s Tony Martin years (mostly) plus a smattering of bonus tracks. While it is not perfect, and so many great songs were omitted, it is still a really great listen from start to finish. Tony Martin is probably the most derided of all Sabbath vocalists. Having seen Sabbath live on their final tour with Martin (also including Cozy Powell and Neil Murray) I can say that I quite enjoyed that incarnation of Sabbath. Also, in 1996 when this was released, albums such as Headless Cross and The Eternal Idol were very hard to find on CD.  With that in mind, read my track-by-track breakdown.

1. “Headless Cross” — This compilation is the IRS years (that’s the record label, not the government agency) and thus starts with their first IRS album, Headless Cross. The title track is one of those underground classics. The groove here is monstrous (thanks, Cozy)  and the notes Martin hits in the chorus are superhuman. This track, back in 1989, was Sabbath getting back to a truly heavy evil sound. Shame that the keyboards (on all tracks by Geoff Nicholls) are mixed so high!

2. “When Death Calls” — One of my favourites from Headless. Beginning with fretless bass (by temp bassist Lawrence Cottle) and haunting vocals, you’d almost think this was a ballad. By the end, it’s breakneck, with Tony Martin singing these evil lyrics about how “your tongue will blister” when Satan says you’re to die! The guest guitar solo by Brian May will sear your soul.

3. “Devil and Daughter” — A third great track from Headless, an album loaded with great tracks. This is an uptempo one all the way through!

4. “The Sabbath Stones” — From 1990’s underrated Tyr album. I quite liked Tyr. “The Sabbath Stones” is a fast one, wicked, but muddy in sound as was all of Tyr. Once again, Martin hits inhuman high notes by the end.

5-7. “The Battle Of Tyr/Odin’s Court/Valhalla” — These three tracks are actually all bits of one long piece, on Viking mythology. Sabbath at the time were trying to get away from the “Satanic thing”, and Vikings were still evil enough to sing about. Some fans didn’t like that turn of events but I think Sabbath were well ahead of their time. “The Battle Of Tyr” is a keyboard-y bit, just an intro to get you in the mood. “Odin’s Court” is acoustic, with Iommi picking a simple melody while Martin sings about “leading us on, to the land of eternity, riding the cold cold winds of Valhalla”. That takes us into the main meat of the trilogy, the “Valhalla” portion. One of the most powerful of all Martin-era tracks, with great keyboard accents and a memorable Iommi riff, this was my favourite track off Tyr.  (It’s either this one, or “Jerusalem”.)

8. “TV Crimes” — A brief departure from the Tony Martin years. In 1992, he was out and Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice were back in. The album was called Dehumanizer and even though it did not sell well, a hardcore following now consider it among the very best Sabbath albums of all time, and possibly one of the best things Dio’s ever done. Why it was underrepresented here with just one song is beyond me. There should have been at least three Dehumanizer tracks on this CD (I would have nixed “Devil and Daughter” and “The Sabbath Stones” in favour of two more with Dio singing.) Anyway, “TV Crimes” (the single) is here, and while not one of the best songs from Dehumanizer, it and “Time Machine” were the two most well-known.

9. “Virtual Death” — Tony Martin is back, with Rainbow’s Bobby Rondinelli and Geezer Butler too!  That would not last long, as Geezer soon fled back to Ozzy’s solo band to record the Ozzmosis CD. “Virtual Death” is hardly one of the better songs from the Cross Purposes album, a decent record if a bit soft. Having said that, the soft tracks were really quite good and “Virtual Death” was just a grunge song.  Black Sabbath influenced that whole scene, but they ended up copying Alice In Chains’ trademark vocal style on “Virtual Death”.  That double tracked vocal melody could have come right off Dirt.

10. “Evil Eye” — Another puzzling Cross Purposes selection.  I can’t think of a reason to include it.  There was once a legend that “Evil Eye” was co-written by Eddie Van Halen, who went uncredited.  The same rumour suggested that Van Halen either performed the guitar solo or wrote the solo for Iommi to play.  Joe Seigler of black-sabbth.com has busted this rumour as false.   My two tracks from this album would have been “I Witness” (fast one) and “Cross Of Thorns” (slow one).

11. “Kiss Of Death” — Finally we arrive at the end of the Martin years with the dreadful Forbidden album. It’s sad because it wasn’t the end that Tony Martin deserved. The album just got out of hand and next thing you know, Ozzy was back. This track was at least one of the strongest ones. A killer, slow closer with some unbelievable Cozy Powell drum fills, if it had been recorded right it would have just slammed you in the face.

12. “Guilty As Hell” — Another Forbidden track, and one of the weakest. “Can’t Get Close Enough” should have been subbed in. Just filler.

13. “Loser Gets It All”TREASURE!  The Japanese Forbidden bonus track, finally available domestically! (Please note, the Cross Purposes Japanese bonus track “What’s The Use” is still unreleased outside Japan, dangit.) This song, a shorty just over 2 minutes, is actually stronger than all the other Forbidden stuff. Good riff, good keyboards, not bad sounding. Shame it was buried on a Japanese release.  Why?  Who knows.  Maybe Tony Martin does.  Tony, drop me a line.  I’d love to talk.

And that finishes the final IRS album, and the final one for Martin. He’d been replaced once before by Dio, and now finally by the once and future Ozzy, and it’s all over for him.  Since then he’s taken a back seat to his more famous predecessors, although he released the strongly reviewed (by me) Scream solo album in 2005.  He also did a number of albums with guitarist Dario Mollo, two of which I own but have to revisit.

There are three “bonus tracks”, songs that were included under license, from the period before the IRS years.  The inclusion of these songs really make the album a fun listen.

14. “Disturbing The Priest” — My favourite incarnation of Sabbath was 1983’s Gillan/Iommi/Butler/Ward and this is my favourite song from Born Again. It’s so evil you’ll feel like you need to confess your sins after listening! I have no idea how Gillan managed such demonic screams. Brilliant selection!

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15. “Heart Like A Wheel” — I’m actually quite fond of the Glenn Hughes fronted album, Seventh Star, but this song has no place on this album. Granted Sabbath played it live on the ’86 tour with Ray Gillen subbing in for Hughes, but it’s too slow and bluesy. The title track or “In For The Kill” should have been subbed in.

16. “The Shining” — Tony Martin triumphantly ends the album with his first single with Black Sabbath.  “The Shining” has a vintage Iommi riff, and more ungodly high notes. There are early demos of this song from before Tony joined the band, with other singers, as Iommi had this riff a long time before.  A 1984 demo entitled “No Way Out” was recorded with Ian Gillan’s short-lived replacement singer, David “Donut” Donato.  Then it was re-written and re-sung by Ray Gilllen, and this version was recently released on the Eternal Idol deluxe edition. Tony Martin’s version then is the third incarnation of the song that I have, and it’s a triumphant one.  I love the way this album was bookended with Tony Martin songs.

That’s the CD: 80 MINUTES LONG! You just can’t argue with cramming that much music onto one disc. And yes, you can get 80 minutes onto a CD, and this album is the proof.

While I have argued against the inclusion of some songs, by and large this is a well-made compilation, for a record company cash-grab. Considering the Martin years have been buried, I think it is well worth owning. I listened to it all the time.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Forbidden Rough Mix (bootleg)

BLACK SABBATH – Forbidden Rough Mix (bootleg CD)

Black Sabbath’s Forbidden album has a unique place in the Sabbath canon.  It is almost universally condemned by casual and hard core Sabbath fans alike.  I am one of the many who did not like Forbidden, and you can read about why right here.  It was also the final studio album released under the Black Sabbath name, until now.

Forbidden should have been great.  It had the uber-talented Tyr lineup of Tony Iommi, Tony Martin, Cozy Powell, and Neil Murray.  Even with all that muscle, it came out as the weakest Sabbath album ever, probably hindered by Ernie C’s limp production.  I was eager to get my hands on the “rough mix” of Forbidden, which supposedly sounded a lot better.

This CD, simply titled Forbidden Rough Mix is dubbed from a cassette.  That said, it sounds a lot better than any cassette I’ve ever dubbed.  It’s bootleg quality, and I’m fine with that.  The only unfortunate thing is that it is all instrumental versions.  You can hear some of Tony Martin’s vocal bleeding through from somewhere, but it’s not mixed in.  Maybe he was singing scratch vocals in the studio for the band to play along with.  I know that Forbidden was a time of upheaval in the band, with Martin not knowing if he was in or out at any given time.  Ice T was coming in to lay down his own vocal tracks, and nobody would tell Tony if this was for the whole album, one song, part of one song, or what the deal was.

Anyway, if you were hoping for better sounding versions of the Forbidden songs, then this might be as close as you get.  Even though it’s the same album, this version sounds somehow faster and heavier.  It’s some kind of audio illusion, because the drums are unfettered, and you can hear the cool bass runs.  Neil Murray’s bass is much more interesting than it comes across on the original album.   Everything sounds more Sabbathy.   There’s some stunning guitar work buried in there.  This could have been a great album.

Even though it’s just instrumental, the title track “Forbidden” is so much better than the album version.  I can listen to Cozy’s drums!  There’s a lot more keyboards, as performed by Geoff Nicholls in this mix.  Even “The Illusion of Power”, one of the worst songs on the original album, is a cool, traditional sounding Black Sabbath death march on this CD.  Throw an eerie sounding Ozzy lead vocal on top of this instrumental track, and you could have had something appropriate for the Volume 4 album.

‘Tis a shame.  A bloody shame.  There’s been a rumour floating around for years that Tony Iommi is trying to get this album re-released in deluxe edition format.  If that’s the case, great but I’m not counting on it.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Whitesnake – Slide It In (1984 UK, US edition, 25th Anniversary edition)

 

WHITESNAKE – Slide It In (EMI, UK, US mixes, 25th Anniversary Edition)

Slide It In is a great album.  I’m very partial to Come An’ Get It, but perhaps Slide It In truly is their best.  The production (on the US mix) is absolutely perfect, with Cozy’s drums sounding like drums should sound!  Big and loud with lots of emphasis on those rat-tat-tat-tat drum fills of his that I love so much.  I personally love 9 of its 10 tracks, only “Gambler” being not my cup of tea.  Strangely, the new CD edition opens with “Gambler”.  I remember my original cassette opened with the title track!

I was very disappointed with the 25th Anniversary edition of Slide It In. It seems hastily thrown together with not much thought given to collectors nor to continuity.  2 tracks are missing from the UK version of Slide It In! (“Love Ain’t No Stranger” – a single, no less – and “Hungry For Love”).  They also talk about the UK mix of B-side “Need Your Love So Bad”, but don’t include it.   Instead, they give you the version from the “Is This Love” single, from 1987, which has no place on this reissue.  Why isn’t it on the deluxe of Whitesnake 1987?  I don’t know!

Fortunately, the esteemed Heavy Metal OverloRd purchased “Need Your Love So Bad” on an original 7″ single with picture sleeve, so you can read all about that missing track on his excellent site.  (He even bought me a copy, which is on its way!)

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The missing tracks kind of pissed me off.  I had hoped to acquire, in one purchase both classic mixes of the album.  Instead, I still hunted for and bought the UK version of Slide It In for two freakin’ missing songs. And then to top it off, a live acoustic version of “Love Ain’t No Stranger” from 1997 was included on the deluxe, taking up space that could have been used on missing songs from the period.  This unrelated live version is already available on the live album Starkers In Tokyo.

Anyway, Slide It In.  What a great album.  Jon Lord, Cozy Powell, you just can’t go wrong!  My buddy Rob Vuckovich said, “The final album showcasing Coverdale as a singer…not a screamer.  Remember when he went solo after breaking up with Purple?  I believe he said something to the effect that he did not want to scream his balls off…strange…listen to him from 1987 and onwards.”

Certainly, Slide It In contains some of Coverdale’s most passionate, powerful vocalizing.  Just listen to the amazing not-ballad “Love Ain’t No Stranger”.  I know, technically, audible breathing is not considered professional singing.  But Coverdale uses it as part of his expression.

The title track is just an incredible rock song with hints of blues, catchy and powerful, if a tad dirty!  “Slow An’ Easy” is the album’s six minute centerpiece.  That slide guitar riff…oh man!  So perfect.  Just perfect.  All this is punctuated by Cozy’s tastefully perfect drum fills.  This was the album that turned me onto Cozy as a drummer.  He immediately became a favourite, largely thanks to “Slow An’ Easy”.

As mentioned, “Love Ain’t No Stranger” is another incredible song, a not-ballad with a soaring chorus and mellow,impassioned verses.  This is certainly one of the best songs David has written, and he’s written plenty of them.  But it’s the only slow moment on Slide It In.  This album kicks.

“Spit It Out” (oh, dirty David!), “Give Me More Time”, and “Guilty of Love” are other standouts.  I really like “Guilty of Love”, a fast paced fun rocker, with a riff to kill.  Just listen to Cozy’s drums! And let’s not forget the classic “Standing In the Shadow”, a song that David later re-recorded in 1987 for the 12″ single “Is This Love”.  As with most remakes, the original is superior.

The version of Slide It In that I grew up with and loved most of my life was the remix, the US version.  The 25th Anniversary deluxe edition contains this version, and the 8 tracks from the original UK mix.

What’s the difference then?  Slide It In was released in the UK with the Whitesnake lineup of David Coverdale and his cohorts Jon Lord (keys), the aforementioned Cozy Powell, Colin Hodgkinson on bass, and guitarists Mel Galley and Mickey Moody.  They recorded and released the original version of Slide It In, which came out sounding a little flatter, to my ears.  Within a short while Mickey Moody had left the band and been replaced by the more flashy and modern John Sykes, from Thin Lizzy.  Hodgkinson was fired and replaced by Neil Murray, who was already a Whitesnake veteran from a previous tenure.  Jon Lord went off to rejoin Deep Purple, so Bill Cuomo added more keyboards   With Sykes and Murray, much of Slide It In was re-recorded, adding more guitar solos.  The album was remixed and released as such in the US to tremendous success.The addition of Sykes’ trademark squeals and a fresh mix made a good but “just another Whitesnake album” into a great and important one, at least for this genre and this band.

I prefer the harder edged US version, but they both have their merits.  Different solos can be found on the two versions, and fans of 1970’s Whitesnake may prefer the UK mix.   Regardless, from that unstoppable slide guitar on “Slow An’ Easy” to the awesome blue-rock-balladry of “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, this is a great album.  Even the quiet, soulful B-side “Need Your Love So Bad” is album quality.  It just wouldn’t have fit on a record this rockin’.

The DVD is fine, all the music videos and a few live tracks from the era are included. However, once again…a live version of “Love Ain’t No Stranger”, this one from one of the ‘Snake tours in the 2000’s, and also the Starkers version. Why? I don’t know.

Why not just release a simple 2 CD set with both versions of the album remastered? I don’t know.

The remastering is good otherwise, the liner notes are great, revealing the inner tensions and goings-on with Whitesnake of the time.

Slide It In – standard US version:  4.5/5 stars

Slide It In – 25th Anniversary Edition: 2/5 stars for leaving off two original UK tracks in favour of later content

Slide It In – standard UK version:  3.75/5 stars – the US remix really kicks the songs in the pants!

REVIEW: Black Sabbath – The Eternal Idol (deluxe edition)

I’m addicted to buying these deluxe editions.  I think this is the last of my Black Sabbath deluxes. Check out more of my Sabbath deluxe reviews by clicking here!

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BLACK SABBATH – The Eternal Idol (2010 deluxe edition)

The years of chaos were seemingly coming to an end as Black Sabbath stabilized into a solid core of Tony Iommi, Geoff Nicholls, and new lead singer Tony Martin. The drum and bass positions would continue to swirl for another year, right up until the Headless Cross tour. Getting to this point was not without struggle, and this new Deluxe Edition illustrates this beautifully.

I’m going to sidestep the issue of “Does The Eternal Idol really deserve the Deluxe Edition treatment?” and just be glad it’s out. There are, after all, two B-sides here that were ridiculously expensive to acquire on 12″ vinyl. Those songs, “Some Kind of Woman” and the original version of “Black Moon” (which would later be re-recorded on Headless Cross) finally complete the Eternal Idol picture. And they’re not bad songs either, particularly “Black Moon”. “Strange Kind of Woman” I haven’t wrapped my head around yet. It’s this uptempo boogie rocker, and aside from “Blue Suede Shoes” I don’t think I’ve ever heard Black Sabbath boogie before. But it’s not bad, Tony’s playing is awesome, but maybe…ill advised is the term I’m looking for?

The bonus disc is the entire album’s original recording with former vocalist Ray Gillen (their seventh singer) before he was replaced by Martin (their eigth). This had been mostly available on a very common bootleg called The Ray Gillen Years, but missing a couple tracks. Now, the entire album as recorded by Gillen can be heard, and in much better sound quality.  Gillen was a very different type of singer, bluesier, very Coverdale-esque.  He later reappeared with his Sabbath-mate Eric Singer in Jake E. Lee’s Badlands.

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I can still remember keeping up with the Sabbath story via their music videos on MuchMusic. I was surprised when I saw that the “new” singer, the bearded Glenn Hughes, had been replaced by the much cooler looking Tony Martin. Skeptical, I watched the video for the first and only single “The Shining”. Lo and behold, the song was awesome! The riff (which goes back to an old unreleased Sabbath song from 1984 called “No Way Out”, featuring a lineup of Iommi, Geezer Butler, Bill Ward and David “Donut” Donato) was powerful and epic.  As good as any riffs Sabbath had done with Ronnie James Dio. The new chorus shimmers with intensity. This new singer rocked! Unfortunately, Martin would spend his entire career with a “mini-Dio” or “Dio-clone” tag. The similarities are that Martin has a similar range and equal amount of power, but not the grit, and a different character. Fortunately for him, Martin would stick around for 5 albums, but never shook the “replacement singer” tag.

Aside from “The Shining”, I find The Eternal Album to lack lustre. “Glory Ride” is the only other song that was single-worthy, a great romp that reminds me heavily of “Strange Wings” by Savatage (a song that featured Ray Gillen on backing vocals, coincidentally!) The rest of the songs…well, they ain’t bad, I guess. They’re just unremarkable, which is not good for a band that has seldom been anything but.  “Born To Lose” is fast and furious, as is “Lost Forever”. “Scarlet Pimpernel” is one of those atmospheric Sab instrumentals that they were known for in the early days, and its inclusion was very wise. However, the songs so tend to meld into one another, with only “The Shining” and “Glory Ride” making my personal Sabbath road tapes.

I mentioned the creation of this album was chaotic. Aside from the replacement of the lead singer position mid-album, there were also two drummers: Eric Singer departed to be replaced by ex-Sabbath drummer Bev Bevan! But by the tour, Bevan would be replaced by ex-The Clash drummer (Dr.) Terry Chimes. Dave (brother of Dan) Spitz partially recorded the bass to be replaced by ex-Rainbow and Ozzy bassist Bob Daisley. Daisley was gone before the video for “The Shining” was filmed, to be replaced by a mystery man who nobody bothered to catch the name of. You can see him in the video. The story goes, they needed a bassist for the video and pulled this guy off the street. For the tour, Jo Burt filled the bassist slot. Neither Chimes nor Burt would stick around to the next album, Headless Cross.

Did you get all that?

The Eternal Idol was a crucial step towards solidifying Black Sabbath once again, after the chaos of the previous years, but it would be the next album, Headless Cross, that was a resounding return. A much more solid album, Headless featured the new nucleus of the two Tonys and the legendary Cozy Powell on drums. Session bassist Lawrence Cottle (a great fretless player) was replaced for the while by Cozy’s longtime rhythm partner, Neil Murray. That lineup of Powell, Murray, Iommi and Martin (always with Geoff Nicholls on keys) would prove to be one of the most stable in the band’s history and the one that I saw when I first saw Sabbath live in 1995 on the Forbidden tour.

Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. My point was to show that this album was really not the “comeback” that it could have been, but merely a step towards rebuilding Black Sabbath. You have to admire Tony Iommi for not giving up. The Eternal Idol is not for those fans who just like Ozzy, or just like Dio. Eternal Idol is for the metal maven who wants to know every chapter in the band’s history. Otherwise, I can’t recommend it, except for the two songs “The Shining” and “Glory Ride”. Purchase accordingly.

3/5 stars

GUEST SHOT: 30 Albums that Uncle Meat Thinks You Should Visit (Or Re-Visit) Part 2

Missed part 1? Click here.

Here’s part 2 of 3 – 30 albums essential to Meat’s being, that should be essential to yours, too!  So, without anymore preamble, I’ll leave you with Uncle Meat, as he discusses 10 more albums, in alphabetical order by title, that you need to visit (or re-visit).

 

HIGH TENSION WIRES  –  STEVE MORSE (1989)

Simply put, Steve Morse is my favorite musician of all time.  I have had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Morse a total of 6 times when you combine The Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple and The Steve Morse Band.  Unlike the releases of some of his contemporaries, High Tension Wires is not your typical shredder album.  Oh it shreds alright, but Steve Morse is much more than a trickster.  There are beautiful compositions, unforgettable solos and some just plain ol’ rocking too.  Included is the link to a live version of a track perfectly named “Tumeni Notes”.  For more examples of the greatness of Steve Morse, introduce some Dixie Dregs into your collection.  You can thank me later.

 

HOT HOUSE  –  BRUCE HORNSBY (1995)

When Bruce Hornsby said goodbye to The Range, he immediately said hello with Harbor Lights, a heavily jazz-infused turn that completely changed the music world’s perception of him.  Hot House sees Hornsby taking that one step further.  The album’s cover speaks a thousand words.  It is a painting of an imagined band session between Bluegrass legend Bill Munroe and Jazz legend Charlie Parker. Nuff’ said there.  This recording contains many musical giants including Pat Metheny, Jerry Garcia, Bela Fleck and Chaka Khan.   Hot House is very addictive.  I know most of the words off by heart on this record.  Hopefully someday you will too.

JEFF BECK GROUP  –  JEFF BECK GROUP (1972)

This album definitely falls under the underappreciated category.  Sometimes known as  The Orange Album, Beck’s playing has never been better on this collection of original compositions and covers.  I would call this more of a Soul album than anything.  The incredible vocals of Bobby Tench seem to highlight this record at times, as you will see on the live performance of “Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You” I have included for this entry.   Also worth noting, this album is one of the first recordings of the late Cozy Powell’s career.  The guitar work alone on “Definitely, Maybe” is enough reason itself to seek this record out.  Perhaps a rock n’ roll legend’s best work.

JOHN PRINE  –  JOHN PRINE (1971)

I actually discovered the music of John Prine while working at the same record store chain that Mr. Ladano speaks of in this blog.  There is no one quite like John Prine.  Some artists write great songs.  Some artists write great lyrics.  Only a select few truly do both this well.  There is no doubt that John Prine’s self-titled album contains some of the best lyrics ever written.  “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes.  Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose?”  That is just brilliant shit.  “You may see me tonight with an Illegal Smile.  It don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while”.  I have said this many times and I am still saying it now.  John Prine is THE best lyric writer …. Ever.  Fuck Bob Dylan.  Yeah, I said it.

 

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON  –  KRIS KRISTOFFERSON (1970)

For the sake of alphabetical order by album, this Kristofferson follows the John Prine album on this list.  Really it should be the other way around.  While I stand by my earlier praise of Prine lyrics, I would certainly listen to the argument that there wouldn’t be a John Prine without Kris Kristofferson.  The songs on this album show a huge diversity and a sense of patience that just makes him so cool.  “Best Of All Possible Worlds” is just insanely-good storytelling and “Me and Bobby McGee” became a mega-smash for Janis Joplin.  Of all the great concerts I have seen, watching Kris Kristofferson and a guitar for two hours in 2006 will always be one of the best concerts I will ever see.  The true greats just need to show up.

LEGALIZE IT  –  PETER TOSH (1976)

After being a key member of Bob Marley & The Wailers for years, Peter Tosh embarked on a solo career.   On his first solo release, Legalize It, I personally believe Tosh recorded the greatest Reggae album of all time.  Fuck Bob Marley.  Yeah, I said it. (Wait why am I so hostile? Ha.)  Remember that one of Marley’s biggest hits “Get Up Stand Up” was co-written with Peter Tosh.  I love this album from beginning to end, and the album’s cover remains a visual anthem for Marijuana activists everywhere.  Sadly, Peter Tosh was taken from us when he was shot in the head during a home robbery.  Rastafarian music at its finest.

LITTLE EARTHQUAKES  –  TORI AMOS (1992)

There is only one way to put it.  During the spring of 1994 I became a literal disciple of Tori Amos.  By the end of 1996 I had seen her live 7 times.  Several of them in 2nd or 3rd row center seats, since this was back when you could actually wait all night for tickets and be rewarded for it.  This album spoke to me in a way no other album has, or really could.  Frustration with women, with Christianity and with life, I didn’t want to hear about hope in the horizon.  I obviously needed to experience the frustration of someone who understood.  I still have a red-head obsession because of Tori.  This is in my ten favorite albums of all time and always will be.  Little Earthquakes is full of intense and pretty compositions. The humor of “Happy Phantom” contrasts the pain of “Me and a Gun”.  And the included track here is “Precious Things”, which sees Tori Amos exposing herself as the angry and sexual piano player she truly is. Myra Ellen Amos is quite simply a beast.

 

MELISSA  –  MERCYFUL FATE (1983)

Mercyful Fate’s first two albums are among the best Metal albums of all time.  When you realize that this album came out a full year before Kill ‘Em All did you can start to see just how important this band truly were.  Mercyful Fate are the High Priestesses of underappreciation.  Yes King Diamond looks kinda ridiculous. And yes their lyrics are nothing short of evil incarnate.  Lines such as “Drinking the blood of a new born child” and “I’ll be the first to watch your funeral, and I’ll be the last to leave” sometimes are  so over the top that I guess it is understandable how an album this good could be ignored.  If Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden had a baby, and that baby grew up listening to nothing but Black Sabbath, the end result would have to look and sound something like Mercyful Fate.  It’s no coincidence that the best thing Metallica has recorded since …And Justice For All is their medley-cover simply-titled “Mercyful Fate”.  One of the greatest Metal albums of all time hands down.  Click on the YouTube link and hear the start of “Curse of the Pharaohs”.  If you don’t immediately recognize “2 Minutes to Midnight” you are lying to yourself.

 

NEVER, NEVERLAND  –  ANNIHILATOR (1990)

After Annihilator’s first album, Alice in Hell, it was time for a new lead singer.  Out was the awful singing of the ridiculously-named Randy Rampage, and in was ex-Omen singer Coburn Pharr.  The second album of this Ottawa, Ontario band was a vast improvement  over the first album in every way.   Without question the guitar playing of Jeff Waters alone makes this an absolute must-have recording for fans of thrash guitar or just guitar in general.  If you can think of a better Metal album to  come out of Canada then I would love to hear it.  If you have never heard this album, and you consider yourself a “Metal guy” then you are missing out huge.  I am having a hard time trying to pick a song to post here for listening purposes.  That is how truly great this record is from beginning to end.

 

OPUS EPONYMOUS  –  GHOST (2011)

I know, I cannot believe it either.   Only the second of twenty (so far) albums to be released after 1999 that appear on this list.  This album by Swedish band Ghost is nothing but special.  Before I heard this album I was told that it sounded like a cross between thrash metal and Blue Oyster Cult.  As it turned out that description really was right on the money.  Melodic background vocals nestled in between heavy riffing.  I have to say that this album is my favorite Metal album in probably the last twenty years.  The PERFECT blend of melody and heaviness.  This is the only album that since I have got my iPod, every time I switch the music on it I leave this whole album on there.  Every minute of this album is pure genius and I am super-stoked for their upcoming 2nd album titled Infestissumam that will be released this spring.  Hail Satan!!!!

 

That’s it for now, stay tuned for part 3, coming soon…