henry rollins

REVIEW: Iommi – Iommi (2000)

“Like many projects featuring multiple singers, the album called Iommi is a mixed bag but with more gems than turds.”

 

IOMMI – Iommi (2000 Virgin)

Iommi is the first released solo album by Tony Iommi, but actually the third recorded.  The first was 1986’s Seventh Star, released as “Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi”, with Glenn Hughes on vocals.  10 years later, Tony recorded another album with Hughes often referred to as “Eighth Star“, which was released in 2004 (after the drums by Dave Holland were re-recorded by Jimmy Copley) as The 1996 DEP Sessions.  Then finally in 2000, Tony took a page from the successful Santana formula book and did an album with various lead singers called Iommi.

Like many projects featuring multiple singers and assorted musicians, the album called Iommi is a mixed bag, but with more gems than turds.  The guitarist picked an interesting assortment of vocalists, mostly artists big in the 90s.  It’s telling that Tony’s good buddy Glenn Hughes isn’t one of them (though Hughes returned on 2006’s Fused).  Clearly commercial interests were most important when it came to selecting the singers and songs.

The inimitable Henry Rollins gets the enviable opening slot with “Laughing Man (In the Devil Mask)”.  Rollins sounds best with a heavy riff behind him, and this one is pure grunge.  Producer-de-jour Bob Marlette co-wrote almost every song, and there’s little doubt that this is how Iommi acquired its “modern” edge.  Rollins creates a swirl chaotic rock around him, but the riff alone would have sunk without Hank.  Iommi seldom writes such atonal, monotonous guitar parts as “Laughing Man (In the Devil Mask)”.

Skin (Skunk Anansie) is surely one hell of an underrated singer, and her track “Meat” howls.  Iommi’s solos and riffs sound much more like what comes naturally from him.  Then, it’s the unfortunate sound of 90s drum loops and samples.  It’s Dave Grohl’s tune “Goodbye Lament”.  Because as soon as one thinks of Iommi or Grohl, we think of drum loops, am I right?  Fortunately Grohl has ex-Sabbath bassist Lawrence Cottle and Queen maestro Brian May on his track.  He plays the drums when they finally do kick in.  Three of those four guys played on Headless Cross!  The drum loops suck and date the song to a certain period in time, but fortunately Grohl knows how to write good melodies so it’s not a total bust.

Phil Anselmo (Pantera) takes the very Sabbathy “Time is Mine”.  That riff sounds like it may have been later used on an actual Black Sabbath record.  The track simmers with fury, then Phil lets it rip loose.  The only way to make Sabbath heavier than Sabbath is to include a singer like Anselmo.  Drumming is Seattle legend Matt Cameron.

The expressive Serj Tankian (System of a Down) lets his pipes have their way with “Patterns”, amidst more of those annoying samples.  It absolutely sounds more System than Sabbath, which is fine since both are heavier than fuck.

The one guy that pulls off a truly Black Sabbath-sounding song is the guy you’d least expect:  Billy Corgan.  Yet his “Black Oblivion” comes closest to the spirit of classic Black Sabbath, in terms of length and epic riffage.  Billy plays bass and guitar on the track as well — what a phenomenal bassist!  (The drummer, Kenny Aronoff, knew Corgan from the 1998 Smashing Pumpkins tour on which he played, and then Aronoff went on to play on two more Iommi solo discs.)

The Cult’s Ian Astbury makes Iommi sound like — who else? — The Cult!  Brian May returns for some guitar (with Cottle and Cameron on bass and drums).  The Cult rarely employ such monolithic riffs, but the chorus is pure Cult.

“Flame On!  I used to bleed like a suicide mother,
Flame On!  And now I breath in this dirty black summer,
Flame On!  I bought the truth in the mouth of my brother,
Flame On!  I used to bleed like a suicide motherfucker.”

Shame about the damn loops, like something discarded from Chinese Democracy.  They also infect “Just Say No to Love” featuring the late Peter Steele of Type O Negative.  Like Astbury, he makes Iommi sound like his band, which already sounded a bit like a Black Sabbath parody.

The biggest disappointment on the album is second to last.  “Who’s Fooling Who” is a virtual Black Sabbath reunion, with Ozzy Osbourne and Bill Ward returning to the fold.  On bass is Lawrence Cottle, making it 100% Sabbath alumni, 3/4 original.  And it’s easily the most boring song on the album.  The best thing about it is Bill Ward, the first drummer who didn’t sound like a session guy.  A muffled Ozzy phones in his part, but Bill puts some effort into composing the percussion.  The best part is the instrumental burnout.

And then, a surprising finish:  Billy Idol, with a monstrous “Into the Night”.  Idol should consider doing heavy riffy metal like this more often — he’s good at it.  Though he effectively snarls his way through the slow riff, his punky side comes out when things get fast.  The contrast between riffs and tempos is half the fun.

With Iommi freshly consumed and digested anew, it’s obvious that good portion of what you heard was purposefully geared towards the nu-metal Ozzfest crowd.  The selection of musicians was clearly slanted post-80s, but it’s the loops and samples that really blow.  The blame must be laid on producer Bob Marlette, especially considering some of the loops sounded exactly like another band he produced:  Rob Halford’s Two.  The whole thing sounds like a “product”, though at least with some pretty incredible riffs behind it.

3/5 stars

 

Blu-ray REVIEW: Classic Albums – Black Sabbath – Paranoid

More BLACK SABBATH at mikeladano.com:

SABBATH DELUXE EDITIONS:  Black Sabbath Paranoid Master of Reality Heaven and Hell Mob Rules Born Again Seventh Star The Eternal Idol Dehumanizer

Other SABBATH reviews:  13 (new album) Headless Cross Forbidden Bootleg CD: Forbidden Rough Mix  Concert review: Forbidden tour July 22 1995 Kitchener Ontario HEAVEN & HELL: Neon Nights: 30 Years of Heaven & Hell – Live in Europe  BILL WARD: Ward One: Along The Way BILL WARD: “Straws” / “The Dark Half Hour” singles

CLASSIC PARANOID_0001CLASSIC ALBUMS:  Paranoid – BLACK SABBATH (2010 Eagle Vision Blu-ray)

Those familiar with Black Sabbath know that Tony and Geezer don’t necessarily make the best interviewees. Their answers are often monotone, bland, and only vaguely remembered. Maybe somebody gave them some coffee before this video.  Geezer in particular seems more animated, but they both appear actually alive! Bill Ward is Bill Ward, of course.  Ozzy can barely get his voice above a croaking whisper. None of that matters though, because this Blu-ray disc is not about the present, it’s about the distant past, 40+ years distant in fact: the landmark metal album of metal albums, Paranoid.

Everybody reading this knows Paranoid from front to back (I hope so, anyway) and has probably bought it more than once. If you don’t know Paranoid, get the album!  Go!  Listen to it, come back, and finish reading this review later.

Like all Classic Albums discs, this deconstructs classic tunes to the individual layers.  You are invited to hear the basic tracks for songs such as “Iron Man”, “Fairies Wear Boots”, “Planet Caravan”, “Black Sabbath”, and more. Engineer Tom Allom (perhaps best known for his production work with Judas Priest) is your tour guide. Stripped of vocals and guitar, you can hear the rhythm section clearly.  Hearing Bill and Geezer playing together without adornment is a revelation. If anyone comes out looking very underrated in the Sabbath saga, it is Bill Ward and Geezer Butler, who are psychically locked-in and loose.

Meanwhile, in new footage from the here and now, Iommi demonstrates some of the most famous riffs and solos in Sabbath history.  Meanwhile Ozzy explains how he wrote melodies. This story is unfolded within the context of the late 60’s and early 70’s, and what Sabbath stood for in those tumultuous times.

Bonus features are generous, like all Classic Albums discs. About 45 minutes of additional footage is available, discussing songs and topics that didn’t make the cut of the main Blu-ray feature itself. None of it is filler, all of it is worth watching and probably would have made a completely un-boring extended feature anyway, had it been left in.

My only complaint is the resolution of this disc is only 1080i. Minor complaint at that.

As a companion piece, I highly recommend getting Paranoid in its 3 disc expanded edition. The reason being is, on this Blu-ray you will hear demo versions of songs with alternate lyrics. If you want all of these demos complete and uncut, you have to get the 3 disc version of Paranoid which includes them all (as well as the album’s original Quad mix).

Oh, and one last thing:  Henry Rollins.

4/5 stars

Part 128: VIDEO BLOG – Mike & Aaron Go To Toronto! (now with Store Report Card!)

Join Mike and Aaron as they hunt for rare albums!

REPORT CARD

Sonic Boom, 782 Bathurst St – 5/5 stars

BMV, 471 Bloor Street West – 3.5/5 stars (Mike) 4/5 stars (Aaron)

Rotate This, 801 Queen St. W – 3/5 stars  (no rating from Aaron)

Pauper’s Pub,  539 Bloor Street West – 3.5/5 stars

Paradise Bound, 270 August Ave – 4/5 stars * note I got the name wrong in the video

Moonbean, 30 Saint Andrew Street – 5/5 stars

Sonic Boom Kensington, 201 Augusta Ave – 4.5/5 stars

HMV, 333 Yonge Street – 1.5/5 stars

Sunrise, 220 Yonge Street, 1.5/5 stars (no rating from Aaron)

 

See what Aaron bought by clicking here!

FINAL NOTE:  I procured a the Japanese import from eBay a week later, October 27, for $41, free shipping.

MOVIE REVIEW: God Bless Ozzy Osbourne

God Bless Ozzy Osbourne(blu-ray, 2011, 135 minutes)

The best metal documentaries are the ones with genuine emotion in them (Anvil, for example), and God Bless Ozzy Osbourne is loaded with all sorts of emotion.  Produced by the man’s son, Jack*, this blu-ray runs the gamut of emotions.  From hilarious stories with Tommy Lee to some genuine anger and pain from Oz’s family, this movie goes deeper into the man himself, than the music.

The movie starts with Birmingham, and Black Sabbath.  Some of the classic footage from 1970  is incredible.  Ozzy was one of the most loved frontmen of the decade for a reason, and these clips show why.  They also reveal a young fiery Black Sabbath, playing tight fast versions of classic songs, Bill Ward hammering away on his kit like he is trying to destroy it.

After Sabbath, things become less about the music and more about the family man and the wild man.  You know those stories — the Alamo, the bat, the dove, the gross-out contests.  What’s new here is the raw emotion.  Rudy Sarzo recounts a particularly powerful moment the day that Randy Rhoads is killed.  New and old interview footage with Ozzy reveals deep wounds.

The Jake E. Lee years are pretty much completely skipped except for Ozz critiquing a few old videos from the 1980’s.  Zakk is barely mentioned at all.  In fact, another late Ozzy member, Randy Castillo, appears in many clips and is never even named.  And I’m sure it comes as no surprise that Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake do not appear at all.

From there we go to more downs, booze, pills, assault, pain, The Osbournes, more pain, and Ozzy’s eventual sobriety, 5 years straight when filmed.  Through it all, Ozzy remains one thing consistently: the clown.

Ozzy is constantly saying and doing things to keep people in stitches.  There’s a certain innocence in it.  Ozzy never seems to really mean to hurt anyone.  He’s just trying to entertain, whether to distract from his own insecurities or just because he was born to entertain, I can’t say.  Probably both.

Athough the movie isn’t overblown with big name cameos, you will hear from artists such as Henry Rollins, Tommy Lee, and Black Sabbath.

Bonus features:

  • Q & A with Ozzy and Jack
  • Deleted scenes
  • Tribeca film festival

4/5 stars.  More about the solo music would have been great.

*I want to briefly mention Jack’s struggle with multiple sclerosis, revealed this past Monday.  Being friends with a person who has MS, I sympathize with the Osbourne family and Jack, but I also know that this is an illness that can be fought!  There are many ways to be a part of the fight, but here’s a pretty cool one that might win you a bike.

http://www.freedomridetoendms.com/