japanese import

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Road Rage (2017 Japanese version)

QUIET RIOT – Road Rage (2017 Frontiers Japanese version)

We’ve always been honest but truthful Quiet Riot fans here at LeBrain HQ.  We’ve been banging our heads for almost 35 years now, and they included some ups and some downs.  The death of Kevin DuBrow was heartbreaking.  Some of our Quiet Riot reviews haven’t been the most popular, but we have always maintained an open mind.  Frankie Banali’s resurrected Quiet Riot with no original members left a bad taste in the mouth, especially after management attempted to re-write the band’s history on WikipediaPages were edited to indicate that the Metal Health album was Quiet Riot’s debut, seemingly in order to qualify Banali as an original member.  Ugly and undignified; but music talks and bullshit walks.  Quiet Riot’s first post-DuBrow always was 2014’s 10, with Love/Hate singer Jizzy Pearl taking over as the band’s sixth lead singer.  It wasn’t that good and it’s conceivable that the band know it.  No physical edition was ever released, and you can’t even buy a download anymore.

So, it’s delightful to be able to say that the new 2017 Quiet Riot album called Road Rage is…not bad at all!  Actually quite good!

It’s even been rocky since 10.  Jizzy Pearl left amicably, to be replaced by ex-Steven Adler singer Seann Nichols.  They recorded a new album, even released one full song online…and then suddenly Nichols was out!  American Idol alumnus James Durbin was hired in short order, and re-wrote and re-recorded the entire album.

Skeptics, be silent.  Our fair and balanced take on Quiet Riot in the past should speak volumes for the review you are about to read.  It would be far easier to mock Quiet Riot for their choice of a TV show contestant as a frontman, but it would be grossly inaccurate.

Durbin’s youthful enthusiasm will either win you over, or leave you complaining that he’s “not enough like DuBrow” and it “doesn’t sound like Quiet Riot”.  Here’s the truth — that’s good.  We’ve endured one soundalike singer after another.  Durbin has a fresh spin, and there’s little question the guy is just pleased as hell to be fronting this band!  he gives it all on “Can’t Get Enough”, a new uptempo Quiet Riot party tune.  Co-writer Neil Citron must have written the riff with a classic Quiet Riot vibe in mind.

Then it’s down weird street a little bit with the Indian-flavoured intro to “Get Away”.  It takes a moment, but once you realize “Hey, this isn’t the same old Quiet Riot”, you will be able to realize that “Get Away” is a damn good song.  It’s actually quite melodic rock, but with a Zeppelin groove.  Then it’s the pro-weed “Roll This Joint”, which has a seriously decent Zep vibe too.  The lyrics are pretty cheesey (“I’m with Cheech and Chong and Willie and Marley!”) but you gotta cut Durbin some slack.  He’s young and it’ll connect with some of that crowd.

The thing is, you just can’t dislike Durbin.  He wins you over, especially on the lead single “Freak Flag”.  This is the most Quiet Riot sounding track of the disc, but with Durbin it’s no carbon copy.  “Freak Flag” kicks ass and you can imagine it working great live.  Same with “Wasted”.  That chorus (“Take a shot!”) grows fast.  Even the ballad “The Road” doesn’t suck.  Through the 11 tracks, it’s clear who the star on this album is.  The new frontman rose to the challenge.  In the back, Frankie Banali’s providing the Quiet Riot backbeat; the linkage between past and present.  Guitarist Alex Grossi also turns in a worthy performance, and Chuck Wright (bass) has a co-write on the slippy-slidey “Still Wild”.  Despite the circumstances in the making of the album, Quiet Riot sound more focused than they have in decades.

Frankie’s revival of Quiet Riot has been going seven years straight, through five singers before getting James Durbin on board.  Only the singer has changed; Grossi and Wright have stood by through thick and thin.  No matter what, Quiet Riot will continue.  Fans should be advise that the first album with Durbin has turned out great, and let’s hope this is a long-term lineup.  He’s got the necessary range to sing vintage DuBrow, but in his own voice.  And that voice is growing quite compelling.  Not every song is killer, but the majority of the album gets the job done.  Enough to justify putting your money down.

The Japanese version of Road Rage has an exclusive bonus track.  It is an acoustic version of “Make A Way”, one of the heavy album tracks.  This isn’t a crappy remix, but an entirely new recording of the song in acoustic arrangement.  It’s different enough that it actually seems like a new song.  Bonus track:  win!*  

As Durbin sings, “Take a shot!”  Give Road Rage a road test.  Just don’t “Knock ‘Em Down”, or you will have to “Get Away”.  The quality of this album in terms of sound and songs gives the new Quiet Riot a level of credibility they didn’t have before.  Easily their best album since 1993’s Terrified or even before.  Let your “Freak Flag” fly, James Durbin!

3.75/5 stars

*  Former singer Seann Nichols made a comment in an interview that implied the version of Road Rage with his vocals was released in Japan; this is unfortunately not the case.  If you have any Seann Nichols versions of the Road Rage songs, please contact us here.  We are dying to review them in contrast to the final album!

 

 

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REVIEW: Stryper – Fallen (2016 Japanese import)

STRYPER – Fallen (2016 Frontiers, Marquee Japanese import)

As far as this writer is concerned, Stryper are the reunion kings.  Their 80s output featured fantastic singles like “Calling to You” and “Free”, but many of the albums were uneven and not as rocking as you knew they wanted to be.  Since their heavy-as-hell (pun intended) comeback album Reborn (2005), Stryper have been off the leash.  It seems they gave up trying to fit in to any specific mold and are just trying to be true to themselves through their music.  2016’s incredible Fallen could be the pinnacle of the reunion era.

Unabashedly Christian, the opening track “Yahweh” happens to be one of the most potently epic slices of rock I’ve heard.  A choir sings “Yahweh, Yahweh…” while lead wailer Michael Sweet spits out of his words as few singers in metal can do.  His range is still remarkable and he has lost none of his lung capacity.  There are Maiden-esque riffs, latter-day Metallica grooves, and some seriously epic solo work by Sweet and guitarist Oz Fox.  And that’s all in just the first 6:21 of the album.  It’s strange to say, but you could compare “Yahweh” to similar epic tracks by Ghost.

“Yahweh” may be the most impressive track on a very good metal album, but it’s certainly not the only one.  The cool descending riff that accompanies “Fallen” bites into your flesh, while Sweet’s chorus lifts the ceiling.  There is also material that sounds like old school Stryper, such as “King of Kings”, “Big Screen Lies” and “Pride”.  These songs boast big and classic sounding choruses and riffs.  Stryper even snuck in a Black Sabbath cover (not their first) of “After Forever”.  The words fit Stryper like a leather studded glove:

Perhaps you’ll think before you say that God is dead and gone,
Open your eyes, just realize that He is the one,
The only one who can save you now from all this sin and hate,
Or will you still jeer at all you hear? Yes, I think it’s too late.

A lot of people forget how Christian that particular Sabbath lyric is!  Very amusing how much flack metal took from the church in the 80s, all the while “After Forever” dated back to Master of Reality in 1971!  Granted, I’m certain that most Catholics wouldn’t appreciate the line “Would you like to see the pope on the end of a rope, do you think he’s a fool?”

Whether you are a believer (it’s not a requirement) or just a worshipper at the altar of St. Halen, Stryper serves up plenty of hot metal on Fallen.  The modern grooves of “Heaven” and “Let There Be Light” are two that should appeal to many, and long time fans of Stryper will go bananas for the emphasis on melodies and choruses.  And Stryper didn’t forget their ballad fans, either.  “All Over Again” is a typical bombastic Stryper ballad, but not with the extra saccharine they used to utilize in the 80s.  And if that is too bombastic for you, check out the acoustic version included as a Japanese exclusive bonus track.  I think I prefer the bare acoustic version, but I’m also getting tired of getting acoustic versions as my Japanese bonus tracks.  It seems the go-to bonus track lately has been the acoustic version.

Rest assured, Stryper have not Fallen.  Quite the opposite. They continue to soar on mighty wings of metal.

5/5 stars

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Deep Purple – To the Rising Sun…in Tokyo (2 CD/1 DVD + Japanese bonus tracks)

The Deep Purple Project is a massive, ongoing series of in-depth reviews.  This is the last for now as we take a break, but Purple will return.  

DEEP PURPLE – To the Rising Sun…in Tokyo (2015 Edel 2 CD/1DVD set, Japanese CD with 2 bonus tracks)

Purple live releases have been in strong supply lately.  Last year, Purple released a matching set of double live albums, each with a complete DVD of the show in one package.  The first set, In Wacken, was reviewed yesterday.  Today, we look at In Tokyo.  In order to “get it all”, I added the Japanese 2 CD set with bonus tracks to my collection.  The bonus tracks are on the CD portion of the package.  As we did yesterday, we’ll get the bonus material out of the way first.

The two Japanese extras are instrumental versions of “Hell to Pay” and “Apres Vous”, newer songs from Now What?!  I am happy to report that these instrumentals are not live.  Since both songs are complete and live on the album proper, I was pleased to find these two are instrumental mixes of the studio cuts.  This makes sense, since the instrumental “Hell to Pay” is used as the main menu backing music on the live DVD.  As with any instrumental mix, it is interesting to pay attention to the musical interplay.  Since it’s Deep Purple we’re speaking about, it’s that much more enjoyable.

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Moving on to the live part of the set, the recorded intro of Holst’s “Mars: Bringer of War” has the Budokan crowd in Tokyo excited for the return of Deep Purple.  The band bravely opened with “Apres Vous”, the new cut from Now What?!  It works surprisingly well by setting a mood.  Ian Gillan keeps it from getting too serious by wearing one of those tuxedo-printed shirts.  I want one of those.

Gillan’s hoarse on “Into the Fire”, but overall he’s stronger than he was in Wacken.  The added grit makes the song tougher and closer to the 1969 original.  Also from way back then is “Hard Lovin’ Man”, a pairing that always works well.  Don Airey takes an extended Hammond solo, and the song gallops in a way that set the basis for Iron Maiden’s career.  Thrills and chills abound, but Morse is smiling so much that you know we’re all in for a good time.  What a contrast with the moody and unpredictable Ritchie Blackmore!  This breathtaking assault of a song absolutely needs to be played live.  It’s no surprise that they need to lay back with something slower after that.  “Strange Kind of Woman” does the trick with that unforgettable groove.  Morse pulls off a jazzy solo that just kills.  This is a far better version than the one in Wacken.  Speaking of women and strangeness, it’s odd that “Woman From Tokyo” wasn’t played this time.

“That was the end of the jazz part of the show,” says Ian.  Back to new songs, “Vincent Price” is rolled out next.  Brought to life on the stage, “Vincent Price” is heavier and chunky.  The spooky keyboards are intact and Gillan injects the song with extra terror.  Steve Morse is on a roll now, and it’s time for his solo.  It’s chopped up a bit compared to how they played it earlier in the year.  “Contact Lost” is still first, but this time that goes into “Uncommon Man”.  I love watching Steve Morse playing volume swells with his pinky on the knob, while hammering out a complex melody.  There are plenty of hand close-ups here.  Copy if you can!  (I can’t.)  When “Uncommon Man” begins, Ian Gillan whispers in Steve’s ear.  I like to think he just said, “That was incredible.”

“Uncommon Man” is powerful live, by the way.  Steve goes again with his playful “The Well-Dressed Guitar”.  The dexterity here is quite unbelievable, but you knew that already.  Once again I’m grateful for plenty of hand close-ups.  I have no prayer of being able to play this but I love to watch and see how it’s done, and just marvel.  During a break in the keyboard part, Don Airey claps and dances along; quite amusing!

The Fireball oldie “The Mule” is always welcome out of the mothballs.  A drum workout, Ian Paice is given a chance to show that time has not lessened his abilities one iota.  It’s a busy drum song, and quickly descends into a mad solo.  At one point, the lights go out and Ian plays with glowing sticks, Sheila E style.  He gets to slow down a little on the Jon Lord tribute “Above and Beyond”.  Jon’s image behind them on the big screens of the Budokan, you can sense the emotion of the moment.  His successor Don Airey plays a Hammond tribute to Jon, before the band return to the sound of “Lazy”.  It’s just a seamless blur of one incredible piece of music after another.

“Hell to Pay” continues to prove its worth as a stage-ready, fun rocker.  You can tell that the formalities are over now, because Gillan has changed out of his tuxedo print shirt!  Don Airey dominates on the Hammond.  He gets a spotlight solo next, a chance to do his own thing.  Like his solo in Wacken, this includes a snippet of “Mr. Crowley”, a song that Don played on way back in 1980, and the ensuing Ozzy Osbourne tours.  His solo runs the gamut from tender piano, to classical passages, to spacey synth.  He quotes the melody of “Woman From Tokyo” which the crowd clearly appreciated.

It’s all business from here.  “Perfect Strangers”, as usual the only song from the 80’s, is as timeless as always.  Back to Machine Head for “Space Truckin'”, Roger Glover seems to be having a great time rocking it for the crowd in Japan.  Gillan’s sounding a bit knackered, but he’s still going for it.  No retreat, no surrender.  The classic riff, “Smoke on the Water” explodes in the Budokan, as we draw close to the end.  You can tell they still have fun playing this song, loose and never the same twice.  Two encores are still to be had:  the medley of “Green Onions”/”Hush”, and “Black Night”.  “Hush” is given a neat slinky jam section, because they’re Deep Purple and why the hell not?  After a brief Glover bass jam, “Black Night” commences as the final song of the night.  Gillan’s sounding tired, but that’s rock and roll.  They’re finally done, Roger lingering to make sure he’s thrown out every last pick.  That too is rock and roll.

These two sets were time consuming but very entertaining.  I think they are both worth having, but if you are not the Purple diehard that needs as much as you can consume, be aware that these are men in their late 60’s.  They are not spring chickens, so don’t expect To the Rising Sun…in Tokyo to be the equal of Made in Japan.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Royal Blood – Royal Blood (2014 Japanese version)

ROYAL BLOOD – Royal Blood (2014 Warner Music Japan, three bonus tracks)

Bass and drum duos are all the rage, but it’s all about the songs.  You can do a lot with just those two instruments as it turns out.  Royal Blood’s palette of sound is also of the bass and drum duo persuasion, and they have the songs too.  Their 32 minute (43 minute on the Japanese with bonus tracks) debut album has enough good tunes that you won’t notice there are only two guys playing.  The tunes are all short, tight and to the point.

Mike Kerr (bass, vocals) and Ben Thacker (drums) have been praised by luminaries such as Jimmy Page for this fine debut album.  When someone like Jimmy Page excitedly declares he’s a fan, I don’t care who you are — you gotta check them out.  Royal Blood composed a series of tightly arranged riffy songs, with some serious heft.    Riffs such as the one on “Come on Over” sound nothing at all like bass.  Kerr squeals high notes out of his bass like it’s nothing, all while pouring it all into his singing simultaneously. The dude possesses the pipes necessary to infect his songs full of angst.

Check out the tense “Figure it Out”, their best single so far. Thacker keeps himself busy on the drums, working with the song not against it. Everything these guy do serves the song. “Figure it Out” had to be one of the best rock singles of 2014, expertly crafted for maximum rigidity and plutonium hooks. Every song delivers sturdy riffs, understated vocal melodies, and plenty of taut rock action.

The songs are on such a level that only a few stand out above the others. “Figure it Out” is the obvious one, but a few others impress as highlights. “Little Monster” (also a single) isn’t forgettable, and “Ten Tonne Skeleton” immediately reminded me of Them Crooked Vultures. “Loose Change” shakes things up by going slightly funky with some electronic drum effects. These guys don’t waste their time farting around. They slam you with the riffage, bang bang bang, and they’re done. Of course with a band of this configuration, the songs are composed with plenty of space between the instruments, and that adds to the heft of it all.

When the CD ends after “Better Strangers” we are treated to three Japanese bonus tracks. “Hole” is from the first Royal Blood EP Out of the Black. Its slow Soundgarden-Nirvana grunge is notably less crisp sounding than the album at large, but holy cow — this is heavy shit! Right out of 1992. “You Want Me” was lifted from the single for “Come on Over”. This is upbeat hard rocking fun. The final track “Love and Leave it Alone” is from the “Figure it Out” single, and it may be one of the best songs here. It’s interesting that the bonus tracks offer more variety than the album itself, which is a good enough reason to own them. Each of these tracks is different and deliciously good.

Get some Royal Blood in ya.

4/5 stars

REVIEWS: Leatherwolf – New World Asylum & World Asylum (Japanese import)

Epic Review Time!  Here’s a two-fer for you!

LEATHERWOLF – World Asylum (2006 King Record Co. Japan)

Leatherwolf were one of my favourite bands in the late 80’s. They had a unique sound, a potent mix of traditional metal, glam rock, and thrash elements. In addition they sported the Triple Axe Attack: 3 lead guitar players, and before Iron Maiden did it.  When they reformed in 1999 and released the live album Wide Open, I was excited for some new music. Then, lead singer/guitarist Mike Olivieri quit, and the band hooked up with Jeff Martin (ex-Racer X, Badlands) on lead vocals. With him they did an excellent 3 song demo: “Behind The Gun”, “Burned”, and “Disconnect”, plus one instrumental called “Tension”. (Track them down!)

Then for whatever reason Martin was out and Wade Black (Crimson Glory) was in. I’m sorry, Glory fans, I’m just not that into Black. His voice is fine, particularly on the three  more melodic songs that they originally did with Martin (Note:  “Burned” has been re-named “The Grail”). I’m just not feeling it.  On some of the other songs, he’s verging on nu-metal territory too much for my taste, like on the downbeat “Institutions”.  And for some reason his voice grates on me after the length of a full album.  Maybe I find it a bit too shrill.

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World Asylum album is heavy, the heaviest thing Leatherwolf have ever done. The guitar solos are highlights, but the riffs are just not as memorable as the old days.  The drumming by Dean Roberts is fast, precise and hit the spot.  The keyboards of old are gone.  I found the first five songs to be excellent, but after that the album tends to slide. At times, those metal guitar harmonies are back. At others, there’s nothing to grab me.  Lyrically the “asylum” theme runs through the record, but I wouldn’t call it a concept album or even that interesting.

This Japanese edition has one bonus track, which is the great “Tools of Discipline”, originally heard on the old Wide Open live album.  (It also comes with stickers!)  Gotta say I prefer Olivieri’s vocals better than Wade Black’s.  I prefer Jeff Martin’s vocals to Wade Black’s as well.  Sorry guys.  If it all came down to the singer, Black doesn’t do it for me.  But in a weird twist, Michael Olivieri returned the following year, and he re-recorded all the vocals. That album was issued as New World Asylum (without the bonus track). The original singer is usually best suited to the job, but more on that in the next review below.

2.5/5 stars


LEATHERWOLF – New World Asylum (2007 Leatherwolf Music)

So Michael Olivieri, the original Leatherwolf singer came back on board to stay this time.  So did guitarist Carey Howe, replacing Eric Halpern.  This restored 4/5 of the classic Leatherwolf lineup.  It made sense to have them re-record their parts on their latest album and re-release it.  No sense promoting a lineup that doesn’t exist anymore, right?  I think it was the right move for another reason.  I’m just not that into Wade Black, the singer on the original World Asylum. He verges on nu-metal teritory too much for my taste. I’ve never liked nu-metal; I appreciate the talent that goes into writing and performing nu-metal, but it’s not music I enjoy listening to, largely due to the vocals. I like traditional metal vocals, in general.

With the new lead vocals, World Asylum was retitled New World Asylum, and released with differently coloured cover art. This is my version of choice, metal fans! Maybe it’s familiarity, but Olivieri’s voice just sounds right.  The character of Leatherwolf feels like it’s in his voice.  I prefer his version of every single track. The melody and recognizable character are there, and he throws in a couple of those old-school screams. The end result is not necessarily a better batch of songs, just a more enjoyable listen.

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Strongest tracks here include “King of the Ward”, a slamming song with a teasing chorus.  Strange how I didn’t like it on the Wade Black version.  I think “Behind the Gun” is probably the best tune here.  Having heard it with three different singers, I have to say this version is champion.  “I Am the Law” and the groovy “Dr. Wicked (Rx O.D.)” are also pretty cool.  But again, I didn’t like “Dr. Wicked” on the Wade version.  It all comes down to the vocals.

The original album’s bonus track, “Tools Of Discipline”, was not re-recorded here, I guess because there is a live version available with Olivieri singing on Wide Open.

My recommendation: Leatherwolf fans, pick this up rather than World Asylum, unless you’re a die hard. Casual fans and the curious, go with New World Asylum as it’s just a better listen.

3.5/5 stars

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NEW ARRIVALS! KISS 40 & Extreme’s Saudades de Rock Japanese imports!

Bonus tracks:

  • KISS 40 – “Hell Or Hallelujah” – Live in Japan 2013 (Previously unreleased)
  • Saudades de Rock – “Mr. Bates” – 1986 Demo (Previously unreleased)

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REVIEW: Queensryche – Promised Land (Japanese import)

QUEENSRYCHE – Promised Land (1994 EMI, Japanese import)

I’m sure the pressure was on to top Empire, so what did Queensryche do? They retreated to an isolated but luxurious cabin on an island, and wrote & recorded an introspective atmospheric masterpiece of a record.  Far from record companies and hangers-on, the band focused on the art. By their own admission, the isolation (plus smoking pot and drinking wine) were catalysts for this great album.

I spoke to bassist Eddie Jackson about 13 years ago regarding this album, and I told him I thought it had a lot in common with Rage For Order. He didn’t see it at first, but both albums feature loads of sound effects and atmospherics. Neither album is a true concept album, but both have recurring themes and ideas that run the course of the CD. Promised Land is a deeply personal CD, mostly slower-paced, and one that must be listened to with headphones on.

Drummer Scott Rockenfield came up with the opening piece, “9:28 a.m.”, which is a collage of tones and sounds, ending with some shattering chimes and a baby’s birth. This melds into the first song, “I Am I”, not a typical Queensryche rocker by any stretch but certainly one of the most brilliant things they’ve ever composed. Tate’s lyrics begin the introspective theme of the album, backed by odd percussion instruments, voices, sitar, cello (by guitarist Chris DeGarmo) and droning power chords. There is so much going on beneath the surface of this song; that is why I say that headphones are required.

A skipping CD sound leads straight into the next song, the heavy and dark “Damaged”. “Damaged” is about psychological damage, the effect that bad relationships and experiences have on the self. At various times, Tate’s voice doubles and triples and quadruples, seemingly indicating multiple personalities, or perhaps voices in head. At one point it sounds like his voice has short circuited. Eddie Jackson told me that effect was a total accident in the studio that they couldn’t duplicate.

DeGarmo’s “Out Of Mind” follows, an acoustic piece regarding mental illness. It is a nice quiet composition with spare drumming and a beautiful DeGarmo guitar solo. This break in the pace continues with the next acoustic song, “Bridge”. DeGarmo’s shattered relationship with his father is the theme here. He has hinted before at issues with his father, (“Are you my father? The one that was promised?” from “Screaming In Digital”) but here we get more of the story. His father wishes to mend bridges, but DeGarmo tells him, “You never built it, dad.” A sad tale, and an odd choice for a single, but a single it was.

Side one ended with the powerful epic title track which is nearly 9 minutes long. Anchored by Eddie Jackson’s rumbling bass and Geoff Tate’s atmospheric sax, this is a mindblowing song. The lyrics deal with the fact that as youths, we are told that the world is our oyster, and a promised land is waiting for us. But it doesn’t pan out that way for everybody. There are many voices and sound effects in the background of this song, and Tate’s vocal is wracked with feeling. You can hear that this is taking place in a bar (“Drinks for all my friends!) Again, use headphones!

RYCHE FULLYou hear a person leaving the bar, walking across a gravel lot. This melds into industrial city sounds. Soon the next track has begun, “Disconnected” (writted as “Dis con nec ted” in the lyric sheet). Tate’s vocal is spoken, to great effect. When he speaks in a staggered manner (“I must…release…my…rage…”) it is so understated; yet another mindblowing moment. Again, this song is anchored by Eddie Jackson’s deep bass lines, underscoring.  Due to the odd staggered vocal, this song will not be for everybody. On the surface, it sort of resembles “Della Brown” from Empire. This song seems to be about feeling disconnected from the world around us, despite the technology that supposedly brings us together.

“Lady Jane” follows, revisting the mental illness theme. This is a dramatic piano-based song; the piano is played by Chris DeGarmo. The next track is the most straightforward song on the album, “My Global Mind”. A rocker with few frills, this is perhaps the most Empire-sounding of all the tracks. The plaintive “One More Time” comes next, with some amazing melodies and a fairly standard song structure.

All this leads into one epic final song, “Someone Else?” which is simply piano and voice. The lyrics, as with all of Promised Land, are incredible and Tate’s vocal is among the best he’s ever sung. Looking back, the person he is seems to have been someone else all along. This look back ends the album, which of course started with the birth sequence. Very nice bookends.

LASTThe Japanese got bonus tracks (of course), one of which is “Real World” from the Last Action Hero soundtrack. Strings are the main feature here, by the late Michael Kamen. The arrangement is a little too saccharine for me, but that’s Kamen for you. Then we also have the “full band” version of “Someone Else?” which adds an entire verse, but loses the piano arrangement that made the song special in the first place.

The remastered edition of Promised Land (which I don’t have and don’t need) has two additional live tracks, which were “Damaged” and “Real World” recorded in ’94. There were, of course, lots more live tracks available on singles at the time, but for those you will have to track down the actual singles. Some of them, such as “Dirty Lil’ Secret” which was issued with the Empire remaster, for whatever reason.  And of course there was the ultimate rarity, an acoustic song called “Two Mile High” which was recorded specifically for the Queensryche’s Promised Land video game.  This too is not included on the remastered CD, leaving the song frustratingly unavailable today.

On a final note, when I saw ‘Ryche live in Toronto on the final date of the Promised Land tour, they played the entire album live (albeit not in order), a good 10-15 years before doing so was in vogue. That’s how strong this album is, and that’s how good this band is.

Headphones are a must. Multiple listens are a must. Queensryche have never been deeper or more trippy. A masterpiece.

5/5 stars

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Gallery of CD singles below!

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Permanent Vacation (1987)

AEROSMITH – Permanent Vacation (1987 Geffen, Japanese import)

Ahh, the much-ballyhooed Permanent Vacation! Granted, it was a step up from previous two studio albums (Done With Mirrors and Rock in a Hard Place) but it’s nothing compared to Toys or even Draw The Line. This is the birth or the new pop Aerosmith, the Aerosmith guided by David Geffen and John Kalodner. This is the new Jim Vallance and Bruce Fairbairn Aerosmith. On the whole, it’s not bad and it sure was a big hit in the late 80’s. But let’s be fair — if Aerosmith had come out with Rocks in 1987, would it have gotten airplay? Of course not – Rocks was far removed from what was happening in 1987. This was Aerosmith in survival mode, employing outside writers, the biggest producers, and going for broke. If we’d known back then that Aerosmith would never be able to return to their old school ass-kicking rock and roll (aside from the awesome Pump of course), I think we would have been a lot less excited.

“Heart’s Done Time”, the opener, ain’t bad. In fact it’s one of the best tunes, Joey’s traps reminding us that this was still Aerosmith.  The song has some rock to it, while remaining accessible. The next track, “Magic Touch” is more of the same:  strong chorus, fairly hard rocking guitars and drums. I prefer both songs to the well-known hits. Then it’s “Rag Doll”. Damn, I’m so sick of that song. I never liked it even when it was new. I think it’s filler.  I’m glad for them that it was a huge hit, but I never felt the need to put it on a mix tape.

This is followed by some filler, “Simoriah”, one of the many tunes on this album that were never played live (Joe Perry’s big beef with the album is that half of it wasn’t played live). “Dude (Looks Like a Lady)” is probably the most overplayed singles of Aero-history. I know it’s a huge hit, but come on…the Aero of old never would have written this. However it’s the kind of Aerosmith song that people today know, therefore, people want to have it. Shame it’s not “Coney Island Whitefish Boy”….

“St. John” – more filler! “Hangman’s Jury” is good though, a nice bluesy swampy acoustic number.  This is the kind of thing from Aerosmith’s roots and it comes off as the most sincere.  This is followed by “Girl Keeps Coming Apart”, a song which, aside from some killer playing by the boys in the backline, is skip-worthy. The song keeps falling apart! Up next is the last of the singles, “Angel”, a song which I actually like a lot. I like the lush production; I love the choruses, the verses, and the guitar solo. I think this song is still pretty excellent.

The title track is next, a catchy number with no outside writers, and co-written by Brad Whitford. This is proof that Aerosmith are at their best when they are just five guys writing and playing together. There’s some embellishment with jungle noises and tropical sounds, but the song is a winner. Another winner is the Beatles cover “I’m Down”, but I don’t know why they needed to pad an already long album with a cover. Still, totally listenable. The final track is a lame instrumental called “The Movie”. Honestly, most Aerosmith instrumentals are boring. They’re just not that kind of band. This ends the album on a decidedly dull note.

I give the band credit for sobering up, and working hard on this album. Fairbairn (rest in peace) was known as a bit of a taskmaster, he made his bands work hard, and I’m sure Kalodner did too. I think that they were so intent on a charting hit that they lost sight of the roots of Aerosmith. Songs like “No Surprize” or “Nobody’s Fault” sound like a completely different group of guys than the band on Permanent Vacation. As a result, I rarely play this album today. After all, when I can’t turn on the radio without hearing “Dude” and “Rag Doll”, why would I want to?

3/5 stars

More AEROSMITH at mikeladano.com:

AEROSMITH – Draw The Line (1977, Columbia)
AEROSMITH – ”Dude (Looks Like A Lady)” (1987 Geffen 12″ single)
AEROSMITH – Get A Grip (1993 “cow hide” cover)
AEROSMITH – Music From Another Dimension! (Deluxe Edition)
Record Store Tales Part 95:  Aerodouche Dandy

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Power House (1977 Japanese import)

PH FRONT CD

DEEP PURPLE – Power House (1977  Warner Bros, Japanese import)

I have always loved listening to the Power House album, featuring the classic Deep Purple Mk II era. After Purple broke up in ’76, the market was inundated with compilations and live albums. This one, and others like Last Concert in Japan, and When We Rock We Rock… were snapped up by fans who wanted more Purple. All of these albums have been rendered redundant by superior, current Deep Purple remasters.  If you’re the kind of fan who collects all of those 70’s posthumous Hendrix albums, then you’ll dig Power House, a brief but enjoyable romp through less familiar Purple. You’ll even get the original liner notes by Simon Robinson.

Power House consisted of 6 then-unreleased tracks. Here’s your complete track list:

1. “Painted Horse”.  This is an outtake from the Who Do We Think We Are sessions in July 1972.  This is the track that Blackmore “didn’t like”.  He hated what Gillan did with the vocal, and demanded it be changed.  Gillan refused, and the result was a great, unique Deep Purple rocker that remained unreleased until after the band was defunct.

2. “Hush”
3. “Wring That Neck”
4. “Child In Time”
From the Concerto for Group and Orchestra program in September 1969.  The original hit LP release of the Concerto had just the three movements of that piece.  Deep Purple played a standard three song set before the Concerto, and here it was released on Power House.  These three versions remain among my favourite performances of these songs.  “Child In Time” had yet to be recorded on album, and Jon Lord’s melodies are experimental and in development.  Very cool.  It’s “Hush” that really smokes, a definitive version of this cover.  Gillan made it his own right there.

Today the Concerto is available remixed on two discs, with the full piece, the Deep Purple set, and the Royal Philharmonic’s rendition of Malcolm Arnold’s “Symphony No. 6”, which was also performed that night.

5. “Black Night”.  Another nearly definitive version in my books!  This is a B-side, recorded at the Made in Japan dates in August 1972.  This is widely available today on various extended versions of the Japan shows, the Singles A’s and B’s, 24 Carat Purple, and many others.

6. “Cry Free”.  Outtake from the Deep Purple In Rock sessions in January 1970.  It is incredible how fertile the band were in the early 1970’s.  As if In Rock wasn’t amazing enough, this kind of song doesn’t even make the album?  Amazing that Deep Purple’s outtakes were so impressive.  That they could throw this away speaks volumes of their confidence at the time.

Regardless of Power House being superseded in recent years by better packages, I still enjoy this album, in this sequence.

4/5 stars

GALLERY: Three More Great Finds

This time, I was in a store that a buddy of mine runs, the same location that Uncle Meat used to work in.   My buddy wasn’t in (sick) but one of my old trainees was working  I trained him towards the end of my run as a Record Store Dude.  I was pleased to see that he was as nice as ever, and had grown an awesome big bushy beard.

I found two treasures, and took a gamble on one vinyl purchase.  Here’s the details:

1.  GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Family Jewels Season 1, with bonus CD

For $9.99, this was a decent find.  It’s missing the outer case, which I can live without.  I bought this for the bonus CD.  This is apparently an Amazon.com (not .ca) exclusive, currently selling for $13 plus shipping.  So I paid an acceptable amount.  The CD contains two songs:  “Rain Keeps Falling” (sounds like a Crazy Nights outtake) and “You’re My Reason For Living” (sounds much more recent).  These are from the “forthcoming” Gene Simmons box set called Monster.  (I’m guessing he won’t be using that title now.)  Considering that Amazon.com advertises the Gene Simmons Monster box set as coming in 2007, I thought it might be nice to have these two songs.

2. THE ROLLING STONES – “Doom and Gloom” 10″ single

This one was…I dunno…I like the song, “Doom and Gloom”, and I won’t be buying that Stones box set any time in the near future, so this seemed like a good way to get it.   What troubles me is this is a remix by somebody named Jeff Bhasker.  So I have no idea if this will be any good.  We’ll see.  Apparently it’s one track, with the second side etched with a Stones logo.  I haven’t cracked the seal yet.  At $18.99, this one was probably overpriced.  But I’m a sucker for gimmicky vinyl, so, whatever.

3. ERIC MARTIN – Pure (Japanese Import)

Eric Martin is, of course, the lead throat from Mr. Big, a band that is basically big only in Japan.  This solo EP collects new acoustic versions of his solo tracks and Mr . Big hits.  It even includes stuff written in his pre Mr. Big days, from his Sucker For A Pretty Face album.

I paid $8.99, which was way underpriced for this.  A European import version goes for about $7 on Discogs, but the much rarer Japanese you’ll be lucky to find for under $40.  They didn’t have the disc cataloged in their system as Japanese so I’m thinking they didn’t notice.  I did though!  The Japanese writing on the back was the dead giveaway, even though the obi strip is missing.

Another funny thing:  Somebody put a sticker over the cover statue’s nipple!  A pasty, so to speak.  (Sticker removed for this gallery; it’s only a statue after all.)

So; another enjoyable shopping experience.  Some treasures found.  Good tunes, good times.  Look for reviews one day on LeBrain’s Blog.

For ethical reasons, I don’t identify the place I used to work, considering the nature of the Record Store Tales.  However if I did a Store Report Card as I have done for other record stores, I would rank this particular location:

3.75/5 stars

Doom and Gloom