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#334: Tyler and LeBrain episode one – “Nickelback” (VIDEO)

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RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#334: Tyler and LeBrain – episode one – “Nickelback”

Please welcome fellow Sausagefester, Dave FM listener, and lover of leather-clad blues-infested classic rock and roll:  Tyler.  We’ve decided to team up for musical commentary on a few different topics.  Today’s subject:

Nickelback.

Hope you enjoy, and comment here for discussion.

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REVIEW: Twisted Sister – Live At Wacken CD/DVD

For the consideration of the Heavy Metal OverloRd.


WACKEN_0002TWISTED SISTER – Live At Wacken   The Reunion (2005 Eagle Rock)

Here’s a rare find: A CD/DVD combo pack where the CD is equally worth the price of purchase as the DVD. This package contains an 11 song live album as well as a great DVD concert/documentary. Twisted Sister certainly have risen in the esteem of rock fans since the 80’s. Sister’s resilience has won them over, not to mention their heaviness which was lost on the 80’s crowd.

I will say that I was disappointed when I first bought it in 2005.  It was issued as a dual-disc.  Remember those?  I’ll get into the dual-disc crap at the end of this review.  I later bought a far superior CD/DVD set, and that’s the version that I recommend over the dual-disc.  Regardless of which version you have, at least both have nice big booklets with loads of pictures and some liner notes too.

The DVD is peppered with documentary footage and interviews with all five Twisted members. The documentary covers the entire history of the band, and sheds light on their acrimonious breakup and triumphant reunion. I found Mark Mendoza’s segments particularly interesting as he had the most problems with Dee, and in fact was not on board when TS first reunited in 1990’s. The live program is, of course, great.  It’s well shot, and sounds good.

WACKEN_0003The CD is nice as it’s not just a soundtrack to the DVD, but a standalone live album on its own with 11 tracks total, spanning the early years plus six songs from Wacken. I enjoy this one quite a bit on its own as a live album.  From 1980, “Bad Boys of Rock ‘n’ Roll” through to the rare “You Know I Cry” are all replete with loud n’ dodgy sound.  Then from ’82, “You Can’t Stop Rock ‘n; Roll”.  The Marquee, London:  Yes, that would be earlier than the Live at the Marquee album, recorded in ’83.  The fidelity here is improved, although the band’s on-stage fury goes on unabated.

Finally, six 2003 recordings from Wacken.  It’s not the entire show obviously, which seems a bit of a shame.  Goodies here include personal favourites “I Am (I’m Me)”, “Like a Knife in the Back” and “The Fire Still Burns”.  That last one’s interesting because it’s not really a great track on its album, Come Out and Play.  It’s heavier and better live.  Best of all, Dee’s voice is still in excellent shape.  Everybody ages; that’s to be expected, but I don’t think Twisted Sister have lost a thing with age.

Now, let’s talk about this dual-disc.

This is by far the worst dual-disc I’ve ever tried to play. It certainly looks cool (see gallery below). The DVD side has the TS “bone” logo emblazoned directly on the playing surface. I’ve never seen graphics on the playing surface of a disc before, and it looks awesome. This side plays on all my DVD players, no problem. The CD side will not play correctly on any of my CD players, although it plays fine on my blu-ray player. The CD doesn’t conform to the Red Book standards, which is to say it’s slightly thicker than the CDs that many CD players are designed to accommodate.   It all depends on the tolerances built into the players.  Dual-discs are delicate in the first place, and they should never be played in a front-loading car deck or it could get destroyed along with your deck. In the long run, in order to enjoy the CD on a CD player, I had to buy the damn thing again, this time on the CD/DVD set.

So, great video side, great live album, cool looking disc and package. Dual-disc technology…not so great. Buy accordingly.

5/5 stars (for the CD/DVD combo set)

More TWISTED SISTER at mikeladano.com:

TWISTED SISTER – Live at the Marquee (2011 Rhino limited edition)
TWISTED SISTER – Love Is For Suckers (1987 Atlantic, Spitfire reissue)
TWISTED SISTER – Stay Hungry (25th Anniversary Edition)
TWISTED SISTER – Under The Blade (1985 remix)
TWISTED SISTER – “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (1984 Atlantic single)

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Down To The Bone (1995)

Bought at an HMV store in Guelph Ontario, spring 1996.

DTTB_0001QUIET RIOT – Down To The Bone (1995 Kamikaze)

After the fairly impressive Terrified in 1993, I had my hopes up for Down to the Bone. I shouldn’t have. Even though this album represents the reunion of the seasoned QRIII lineup (Kevin DuBrow, Carlos Cavazo, Frankie Banali, Chuck Wright), this is one of the worst albums that Quiet Riot have ever released, and that’s saying something.

The songs on Down to the Bone fall into two categories: filler, and covers. The album is bogged down by boring production and mixing. Cavazo’s guitar tone is harsh, and makes the overly long album difficult to listen to in one sitting.  The snare drum sound is obtrusive and not very good.  Down to the Bone has a cold sounding mix, dry and irritating. This isn’t helped by the filler music contained herein. “Dig” for example contains a pathetic excuse for a chorus, making you wonder how anybody could have thought this was a good song. It’s a shame because Cavazo’s solo is melodic and cool, but it’s a great guitar solo is not enough to save the song.  There are moments here and there, melodies and riffs that are memorable, but no actual songs that you’d say, “Yeah, that’s a good song.” Only the cover of The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” made my Quiet Riot road tape.

Down to the Bone overstays its welcome at almost 70 yawn-inducing minutes.  I have very rarely played this album. The last time I can distinctly remember listening to the whole thing — until now — was over a decade years ago.  Go ahead and ask me how any of the songs (besides the cover) go.  I won’t be able to tell you.

0.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Gene Simmons – Speaking In Tongues (CD)

GENE SIMMONS – Speaking in Tongues (2004 Sanctuary – spoken word)

How I came to own this turd of a CD:  I got this one used, from my old store’s web order service.  It was like $9, free shipping if you spend $30, or whatever.  So I picked a couple discs and added this one to my cart.  Imagine my surprise when it arrived and I took the CD out of the case — somebody had written, in big black magic marker, “MARILLION SUCKS”, on the artwork under the clear CD tray!  This was clearly an intended for me, my love of Marillion being well on record.  I don’t know who wrote it on there, nobody would own up to defacing the Simmons CD!  I brought it back to my buddy Joe who was a little surprised himself.  It took a few months, but they finally got in a replacement copy later on.

Thing is, that first copy I got, I was so flabbergasted about the defaced artwork that I returned it before even playing it.  If I had played it…I probably wouldn’t have replaced it with the same item.  I think I would have picked something else.

This.  Sucks!

There’s a reason Gene Simmons isn’t a standup comedian or a motivational speaker. It’s because he’s not very good. As a speaker, he’s a great bass player. Put it that way.

Recorded at two engagements and consisting of Simmons’ well-known philosophy of life, this is beyond tedious. If you want to hear Gene plug his merchandise, or tell you never to get married or trust a woman with your money, then go for it. Vulgar, unfunny, and dull, this is time you won’t get back. Another thing you won’t enjoy is that the CD is formatted with just one track, so it’s impossible to skip around.  So even if there were the odd funny bit that he goes on about, I couldn’t skip to it in the car.  Useless!

Besides, it’s just an audio of the DVD version — so while it sounds like there are visuals to go with what you’re hearing, there aren’t.  Useless!

No stars, crappy careless release, for the Kiss fans who have to have everything (like Big Idiot Me) and nobody else. Take Gene’s own advice, and save your money.

0/5 stars

The final kicker — in 2011, Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed got (GASP) married!

SPEAKING IN SIMMONS_0003

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – QRIII (1986)

For Aaron’s KMA review of this CD, click here!

QUIET RIOT – QRIII (1986 CBS)

A short while ago, longtime LeBrain reader Deke and Jon from E-tainment Reviews brought up QRIII as a contender for Worst Quiet Riot of All Time.  Digging into the discussion, I mentioned 1995’s Down to the Bone as another possible contender.  Jon also mitigated QRIII by reminding us of the teriffic single “The Wild and the Young”; the only reason to own it.  So the jury is technically still out….

QRIII  certainly sucks.  I knew that I could do one of two things for its review:  Take a shit on the album cover and post a picture of that as the review, or lambaste it verbally and harshly.  Unable to decide between the two approaches, I instead decided on a first for mikeladano.com:  the very first Choose Your Own Review!(™)  Choose A) The Short One, or B) The Long One!

REVIEW A: The Short One

QRSHIIIT

REVIEW B:  The Verbose One

QRIII (actually Quiet Riot’s fifth album) did nothing to revitalize their career. DuBrow was fired shortly after, leaving no original members. Quiet Riot soldiered on for one more album and tour anyway (with Paul Shortino on the creatively titled album but redeeming QR), before breaking up.  In ’93 they finally reunited with Dubrow intact, on the decently heavy Terrified CD.

QRIII, released in 1986, was a sign of desperation closing in.  Rudy Sarzo was out, and in was Chuck Wright. The band had flatlined commercially, so what did they do? They copied everybody else’s formula for success. That means they incorporated an overabundance of keyboards, buried the guitar way down in the mix, sampled everything, recorded sappy and faceless ballads, glossed it all up, and basically snuffed out any spark that this band once had. I felt that they also copied Kiss somewhat in image, with bouffant hairdos and sequined gowns that looked like hand-me-downs from Paul Stanley’s Asylum wardrobe. DuBrow’s new wig didn’t help things.

There is the one song that rises above the stinky, putrid toxic morass that is QRIII. “The Wild and the Young”, despite its reliance on samples, is actually a really strong hard rock rebellion.  On this track, the studio techno-wizardry did its trick.  The song is irresistible, and remains a personal favourite.  The drums kill it, and the gang vocal chorus is catchy as hell.  The song was accompanied by a creative video, so I was suckered into buying the tape.   If I had only known there was just one good song, I wouldn’t have spent my hard earned allowance on QRIII.  More to the point, if I had known just how bad the rest of the album actually was, I would have steered way clear.  Everything is choked down in a mechanical slop of keys and samples.   These songs are so nauseating, so tepid, so embarrassing, that I really can’t say it with enough vigor.

The lyrics:  mostly pathetic nonsense.  “The Pump”:

Well let’s pump pump pump pump,
Strike it rich what you’re dreamin’ of,
Let’s pump pump pump pump,
We’re gonna hunt for gold, Gonna dig for love.

Then, throw in a Plant-esque moan of “Push, push, push, oh! oh! oh!.”  Serious.

Lastly there are the sadly misguided attempts at a “soulful” direction, which crash and burn gloriously. I’m sure in the studio, producer Spencer Proffer assured Quiet Riot that he was producing a hit album.  This would get them on radio and MTV, he might have guaranteed.  Meanwhile, the real situation was more like, “Let’s throw anything and everything to the wall and see what sticks, because this band’s asses are on the line this time.”  But it was the band who wrote this slop with Proffer, so they bear equal responsibility for the calamity.  I’m sure there were so many drugs in the air that “The Pump” actually seemed clever at the time.

QRIII will be remembered not as the album that knocked Quiet Riot down, (that honor goes to Condition Critical) but as the album that flat-out buried them. They would never be a serious commercial property again.

Do you enjoy the crash and burn of an astonishing train wreck? QRIII is for you.

0.5/5 stars

QRIII_0003

REVIEW: Paul Stanley – Live To Win (2006)

PAUL STANLEY – Live To Win (2006 Universal)

This album is significant to me for one reason only:  It was the first CD bought for me by my lovely wife, Mrs. LeBrain.  She knew I liked Kiss and she knew I didn’t have this album.  It was a total surprise!  It was also a total disappointment.

Paul’s 1978 solo album is a milestone for me, it’s one of those albums I can put on any time, any where, anyhow, and I always love it. When Paul wrote (quoted in the “Kiss: Behind The Mask” book) “Let’s just say it needs a sequel right about now,” I was so excited. Yet I forgot, the word “sequel” has many different connotations.

LIVE TO WIN_0002Unfortunately, Live To Win is a sequel in the sense that it’s inferior to the original in every way. The production is plastic, modern synthetic, and boring. The songwriting is good in parts, but there are three ballads here. Paul’s first solo album had nine songs and one ballad. Here, there are ten songs and three ballads. You can work out the math on your own. The playing is bland and generic. John5 plays guitar a bit, and he’s always great, and Bruce Kulick plays bass (why bass?) on a few songs. Everybody else is just a studio cat, guys who are paid big bucks to make people like Avril sound good.  Good players, but there’s no personality on this album.  Not like when Bob Kulick ripped Paul’s first solo album to shreds.

There are two good songs.  They are “Wake Up Screaming” and “Where Angels Dare”. “Wake Up Screaming” starts off with some terrible drum machines. (Yes, not a misprint. There is far too much ProTools and programming on Live To Win.) It’s generic sounding, until Paul’s melody and vocal elevates the song to a whole different level. Still, it’s not aggressive enough for a song called “Wake Up Screaming”. Raw production would have turned this into a classic.  The other good song is “Where Angels Dare”.  It’s another great song with Paul’s riff, vocal, and melody taking it where it should be. A highlight.

“Live To Win” is also decent, it has a good chorus, but the riff and verses are boring. “Bulletproof” sounds like a Hot in the Shade outtake.  “Lift” should have been on Carnival Of Souls, it has that grungy sound. The rest of the album is just plain boring, especially the ballads. Among the ballads there’s nothing here that can hold a candle to the dynamics of “Hold Me, Touch Me” even though they are every bit as schlocky.

Paul, I’m disappointed. For a guy who had the idea to go back to basics and record the Kiss album Sonic Boom on analog tape, this just doesn’t even sound like it came from the same person. Maybe if your first solo album wasn’t so good, so classic, then I wouldn’t have expected so much. Yet, Paul, you are a rock god. There’s no denying it even to non-fans. You are an icon, and you are responsible for a dozen or more of the best songs in rock history. There’s no denying it! For you to put this out, I can only conclude you were out of touch with your fans and rock in general. Or, worse, you were trying desperately for a hit.

Disappointing. But still better than Asshole by Gene Simmons.

2/5 stars.  One for each good song.

More KISS at mikeladano.com:

Complete KISS reviews + Complete ACE FREHLEY reviews 

PETER CRISSCriss EP review + GENE SIMMONSAsshole review

Record Store Tales Part 3:  My First KISS + Part 8:  You Wanted the Best +
Part 77:  Psycho-Circus Part 151:  24kt KISS…cheap at twice the price +
Part 152:  Carnival of Lost Souls Part 173:  Gene Simmons’ Asylum Demos 
Part 179: Phantom of the Opera Part 241:  Halloween, KISS style!

Also available: iTunes exclusive live soundtrack to Paul’s One Live KISS DVD.

ONE LIVE KISS

REVIEW: New Kids on the Block – Greatest Hits

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK – Greatest Hits (2008)

With their triumphant return to the stage recently, it is only appropriate that today we revisit the 2008 Greatest Hits package by the ultimate boy band, New Kids on the Block.

This album, simply titled Greatest Hits, is a collection of the best of the best by the original Fab Five.  Aside from the four bonus tracks, which we’ll talk about later, the album is chock full of smash hits waiting to be remembered.  Starting with their trademark song “Step By Step”, it never lets up til the end.  This is a breathtaking collection of songwriting prowess and vocal excellence.  Truly, manager Maurice Starr had a talent for discovering stars.

This album is, in fact, a reissue of a 1999 edition, which only had 14 tracks.  The new version has 18.  It also omits a C + C Music Factory remix, and subs in “My Favourite Girl” instead, sung by Jordan Knight and Danny Wood, which is a better tune.  There are a few other changes as well, but chances are, this album will do fine for you.  If you really badly want to listen to their Christmas song all the time, it’s only on the 1999 edition).  It has been taken off this release.  Instead, you will get the hit single “Games”.  This is presented in the much tougher “Kids Get Hard” remix.

You will already know the massive hits, “The Right Stuff”, “Cover Girl”, “Tonight”, “Hangin’ Tough”, and “Please Don’t Go Girl”.  Most impressive is Jordan Knight’s lead vocal turn on the epic ballad, “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)”.  Impressive pipes.  Truly one of the great underrated vocalists of the 90’s.  As a bit of a bonus, you’ll also get a song from 1994’s Face The Music LP, which suffered from lacklustre sales.  This track shows the Kids (then known as NKOTB) taking a more modern turn, while sacrificing none of their sweet harmonies.

There are four bonus cuts on this disc.  One is a “Mega Mix” that will work ideally for parties and dances.  There are two songs from solo albums (Jordan’s and Joey’s), and Donnie’s sentimental duet with Seiko, “The Right Combination”.

Best of all, you even get a full size poster!  This is perfect for wall or ceiling.

5/5 stars