lenny kravitz

RE-REVIEW: KISS My Ass – Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994)

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 45

 My Ass – Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994 Polygram)

When reports surfaced that Kiss were in the studio working on a song with country star Garth Brooks, some assumed this was to be a bonus track for the forthcoming Kiss Alive III.  Little did we realize that Kiss were actually working on their own tribute album.

In the early 1990s, tribute albums were all the rage.  Common Thread: the Songs of the EaglesStone Free: a Tribute to Jimi HendrixOut of the Blue and Borrowed Tunes:  tributes to Neil Young.  There were many more, and Kiss were not on the trailing edge of this trend.  They beat Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to the market.

Kiss My Ass was the clever title, but it was not the first.  1990’s Hard to Believe: A Kiss Covers Compilation featured soon-to-be-famous bands like Melvins and Nirvana.  The ever-enterprising Kiss decided to corner the market with their own official tribute to themselves.

To toot their own horn, Kiss included a list of not only the musicians who appeared on Kiss My Ass, but even the ones that didn’t.  Nirvana is on the list.  According to the Melvins though, the truth is that they only dropped Kurt’s name as a guest on their track, because Gene didn’t seem too interested otherwise.  Nine Inch Nails were going to do “Love Gun”.  Both Ugly Kid Joe and Megadeth wanted to tackle “Detroit Rock City”.  It’s hard to imagine what songs Run D.M.C. and Bell Biv Devoe were supposed to record, or Tears for Fears for that matter.  Take this list with a grain of salt!

Kiss My Ass (or A** if you bought it from Walmart) is a weird album.  It’s scattershot and not immediately likeable.  It collected 11 (12 if you include the bonus track) covers by a diverse assortment of 90s artists.  The cover art sucks and lacks the Kiss logo and Ace’s real makeup (which Kiss did not have the rights to in 1994).  The only cool gimmick the cover had was the background flag was unique to the country of release.  A Kiss album with a Canadian flag is neat to own.

The album hits the ground running with some 70s cred, as Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder do “Deuce”.  Lenny funks it up while Stevie brings the harmonica.  This is an example of a simply terrific cover.  The artists put their own spin on it, changing its style but not its drive.

“Hard Luck Woman” was already up Garth Brooks’ alley.  His version doesn’t stray from the Kiss original, and even features Kiss (uncredited) as his backing band!  That makes it an official Kiss recording, just with a guest singer of sorts.  Arguably the biggest country singer of all time, and a closet Kiss fan.  The Garth Brooks track threw a lot of people for a loop, though it’s an easy song to digest.

Kiss only participated in two songs:  the Garth track, and Anthrax’s “She”.  Anthrax insisted that Paul and Gene produce it, and they did a great job of it.  Anthrax are brilliant at doing covers anyway.  John Bush-era Anthrax was truly something special, and “She” slams hard.  Heavy Kiss songs made heavier are such a delight.

The Gin Blossoms turned in a very mainstream, very mid-90s version of “Christine Sixteen”.  It kicks about as hard as the original, but something about it is very tame.  After all, singer Robin Wilson is not Gene Simmons (which is probably a good thing), and guitarist Scotty Johnson is not Ace Frehley.  Far worse through is Toad the Wet Sprocket’s soggy “Rock and Roll all Nite”, a buzzkilling country fart.  “Calling Dr. Love” by Shandi’s Addiction (a collection of assorted big names) is also a hard pill to swallow.  This quartet consists of (are you ready for it?):  Maynard James Keenan – lead vocals.  Tom Morello & Brad Wilk – guitar and drums.  Billy Gould – bass.  So, it’s Rage Against the Machine with the singer from Tool and a bass rumble right out of Faith No More.  And the track is just as schizophrenic as you’d expect.  It’s both brilliant and annoying as fuck.

J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. used his unique vision on “Goin’ Blind”, turning Gene’s murky song into something even darker.  Then bright shimmers of a string section break through the clouds, shadowing everything dramatically.  It’s a brilliant track.  Much like Kravitz, J. Mascis took the song and changed the style but not direction.  You could say the same for Extreme who do a brilliant spin on “Strutter”.  Though by 1994 Extreme were well over in the public eye, they continued to push their own boundaries.  “Strutter” became something slower and funkier, with Nuno Bettencourt slipping all over the fretboard and Gary Cherone pouring it all on.  This is primo Punchline-era Extreme (Paul Geary still on drums).  And listen for a segue into “Shout it Out Loud”!

The Lemonheads chose “Plaster Caster” from Love Gun, a sloppy garage rock version, and score a passing grade.  It’s an admirable effort, but they are quickly overshadowed by their fellow Bostonians, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.  The Bosstones had the balls to open their track with a phone message from Gene Simmons advising them to pick another song.  “Dicky, about Detroit Rock City…”  Ugly Kid Joe had dibs.  Any other song would be fine…and then WHAM!  The opening chords to “Detroit Rock City”.  Gene was gracious enough to appear in the video.  Their disciplined ska-punk horn ensemble lays waste to the town.  Dicky Barrett’s gravelly throat is like a sniper taking out anyone left standing.  The Bosstones win the whole CD, hands down.  There is little doubt that Dicky Barrett would have shaken unfortunate Kiss fans unfamiliar with the Bosstones.  Today it’s clear that they stole the show with their mighty, mighty cover.

The closest match to the Bosstones in terms of excellence, is a polar opposite.  It’s Yoshiki (from X-Japan) and his orchestra version of “Black Diamond”.  This is performed instrumentally with piano in the starring role.  In this form, “Black Diamond” would make a brilliant movie theme.  Yoshiki closes the album in style, unless you choose to go further and get the LP.  Proceed with caution.

The vinyl bonus track by Die Ärzte is the only non-makeup Kiss track included: “Unholy”. This is a garbage version (in German no less) that you don’t need to spend your money finding. It’s only interesting when it briefly transitions into “I Was Made For Loving You”.  Want a good version of “Unholy”? Check out the 2013 tribute A World With Heroes.

By 1994, Kiss needed a boost.  Grunge was omnipresent and Kiss looked silly and outdated, even with their beards and scruffier appearance.  Kiss My Ass was clearly a transparent attempt to try and latch onto some fans of the newer breed.  Maybe some Lenny Kravitz fans would like it.   If a few Garth Brooks followers bought a copy too, then bonus!  But Garth Brooks fans didn’t buy the album, turned off by the cover art and tracklist.  Likewise, fans of Lenny Kravitz, Tool and Rage Against the Machine didn’t run out en-masse either.

Fortunately Kiss had plenty of cards left in their deck.  There was a Kiss My Ass spinoff video, a tour, and a coffee table book all in the works.  This seemed to distract from the oft-rumoured next Kiss studio album.  More next time.

Today’s rating:

3.75/5 stars

 

Original mikeladano.com review:  2012/08/13

 

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REVIEW: Duff McKagan – Believe In Me (1993)

scan_20170213DUFF McKAGAN – Believe In Me (1993 Geffen)

In 1993 Duff McKagan was not clean yet, at least not for good.  It would take a critical medical emergency for him to get close enough to death and stop drinking.  The cover of Believe in Me, a skeletal Duff bathing in a martini glass, reflects the last of the old Duff.  It was his solo debut, following Izzy but before Slash.  Guns’ own Spaghetti Incident? hit the shelves two months later, as the end of the original band creeped on the horizon.

Fans were probably experiencing a bit of Guns overload.  Two albums, two live concert video tapes, loads of touring and music videos…Guns were everywhere from 1991-1993 and then it was the dawn of Guns solo albums.

Duff’s solo debut was a grab bag of different styles:  punk, rock, funk, jazz and ballads.  It was also loaded with rock star guest shots:  Lenny Kravitz and Sebastian Bach sang one song a piece.  Dave Sabo and Rob Affuso from Skid Row joined Baz on the album while Slash laid down a couple trademark dirty guitar solos.  Jeff Beck dropped by, and just about every Guns member except Axl himself contributed.

Despite Duff’s ambition, the best tracks tend to be the rockers.  Opener “Believe in Me” was a very Guns-like single:  short, sweet, catchy and with a Slash guitar solo to hit it home.  “I Love You” isn’t a ballad despite the title, in fact it’s a rocker and perhaps the best tune on the album. “Just Not There” also rides the GN’R train, normally bound for hitsville.  Sebastian Bach’s “Trouble” is plenty of fun, and Lenny Kravitz gets angry on “The Majority”.  These songs would have made a fine basis for a Guns album, but Axl wasn’t looking for songs that sounded like Guns N’ Roses.

An angry “(Fucked Up) Beyond Belief” (a song birthed from GN’R rehearsals) is noisy punk-rap, while “Fuck You” itself is basically a rock rap song featuring a guy named Doc.  “Punk Rock Song” is exactly what it claims to be, but isn’t particularly memorable.  The biggest mis-step is the muted trumpet jazz number, “Lonely Tonight”.  At least Duff was trying something different, but his vocals and lyrics leave a lot to be desired.

During the period that Guns N’ Roses were inactive or just working behind closed doors, a lot of these solo albums really represented an alternate universe.  “What if the original members didn’t leave and instead recorded a new album?”  It’s possible these songs or songs like them could have been on that hypothetical album.  Instead, Believe in Me was a launch pad for plenty of Duff projects and albums:  Neurotic Outsides, 10 Minute Warning, Loaded, Velvet Revolver and many more.  Duff has proven that clean and sober, he can be one hell of a prolific songwriter.  Believe in Me is a good introduction to the many stylings of Duff McKagan.

3/5 stars

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#539: Been a long time since I been to Frankenmuth

GETTING MORE TALE #539: Been a long time since I been to Frankenmuth

Frankenmuth Michigan is a small Bavarian hamlet/tourist trap not too far from the Canada border.  Some people love going; I seem to be one of the only dissenting voices.  My best friend Peter introduced us to the Frankenmuth tradition.  His family would typically go once a year, staying at the Bavarian Inn.  The big draws to the town are two.  One is the big “family style” chicken dinner at Zehnder’s, where the food just keeps coming.  The other attraction is Bronner’s, an all-year-round Christmas store.  Some in my family seemed absolutely thrilled to be buying our Christmas ornaments in April.

Frankenmuth seemed a long way to go for some chicken and Christmas ornaments.  However, it’s not too far for a shopping excursion focused on music, so that’s what I turned it into for me.  In the three years I went to Frankenmuth, I found plenty of goodies, and accumulated some entertaining memories.

frankenmuth

My first year was 1992.  I had just finished writing all my final exams for my first year classes at Laurier.  The Freddie Mercury Tribute concert had just aired.  I taped the whole thing, and then recorded it to cassette (three 100 minute tapes).  I tossed that into the Walkman, and joined the family for our first US road trip together.

The Mercury concert was special.  Queen shared the stage with some luminaries as David Bowie (RIP), George Michael (RIP), Mick Ronson (RIP), and many more.  Vivian Campbell played live with Def Leppard for the first time.  Tony Iommi and James Hetfield shared the stage with Queen on “Stone Cold Crazy”.  Guns N’ Roses were there, and Axl got to sing with new friend Elton John.  The excitement in the air was genuine.  There was talk afterwards of someone charismatic, like George Michael or Gary Cherone joining Queen permanently so they could continue.

Our first road stop was a McDonalds in a small town just outside of Flint.  The washroom stunk of piss so badly that my dad couldn’t even use it. Great first impression, Michigan!

When we got to the Bavarian Inn, I had the chance to watch MTV for the first time at length.  After all I’d heard about it, I was disappointed to see it was not nearly as good as Canada’s MuchMusic.  The American coverage of the Mercury concert (which was re-running all weekend) was truncated compared to what we saw in Canada.  MuchMusic had Erica Ehm and others on site at Wembley interviewing the stars and covering behind-the-scenes, while the US coverage cut away to other things.  The food at the Bavarian Inn was incredible, including what I remember to be the best omelette I’ve ever tasted.

I can’t say that I cared for the family style chicken dinner.  “Family style” isn’t my thing (where everybody has the same dinner, all served together on big platters).  If I’m eating out, I will rarely order chicken.  Seemed like a big waste of a night out, to go and eat somewhere that serves chicken dinner just like you get at home.  But I didn’t make these decisions, I just complained about them!

On the way home, we stopped at a Target store in Port Huron.  My first Target store; I had never even heard of them before.  This is where I made my first US music purchases.  In stock was the cassette single for “Let’s Get Rocked” by Def Leppard.  This featured the bonus track “Only After Dark”, a Mick Ronson track, who had just played at the Mercury concert!  The other item I picked up was Slaughter’s new The Wild Life CD, which had a different cover than the ones I’d seen in Canada.  It still appears to be the rarest version today.

The 1993 trip was even better, because this time Peter came with us.  In 1993, Peter was the man with the plan.  He was looking for something.  Something very specific, that as of yet was not released in Canada.  He had read about this new comedy tape called The Jerky Boys, and he was determined to find a copy.  And find a copy he did.

We found The Jerky Boys at a record store just on the outskirts of Frankenmuth.  At the same store, I picked five tapes that I couldn’t get back home:  Savatage’s first albums Sirens (1983), The Dungeons are Calling (1985), Power of the Night (1986) and the brand new Edge of Thorns (1993).  There was also Richie Kotzen’s third album, Electric Joy.  These fine records meant that the summer of 1993 was filled with sounds both heavy and complex.  The Kotzen album was a whole level beyond was I was used to listening to.  As for Savatage, they heavied up my tastes at a time when I was craving faster/heavier/louder.

I spent a lot of time absorbing each of these albums, but it was The Jerky Boys that dominated the car tape deck on that Frankenmuth trip.  Peter and I listened to the entire thing through.  Tarbash the Egyptian Magician, Sol Rosenberg and his glasses (he can’t see goddammit), and the whole gang had us laughing so hard, my sides actually hurt.  When the tape was done, we put it on repeat and played it again.  I’m not sure if my mom and dad enjoyed the Jerky Boys as much as I did.  I started calling people “sizzlechest” and responding to questions with “listen jerky, I don’t need to talk to you.”

What a summer.

This Frankenmuth trip was also my Karaoke debut.  I chose “The Immigrant Song”.  And I fucking killed it, in my opinion!  Like Axl Rose gyrating on meth, I owned that stage.  The heels of my cowboy boots stomped the boards, keeping their own beat.  I asked my entire family to leave the room, but I lost my place in the song when I caught them spying around a corner.

On we sweep, with threshing oar, our only goal will be the western shore.

That was a fantastic trip.  Mission accomplished, with both the music shopping and the Jerky Boys acquisition.  On my third and final year going to Frankenmuth, Peter really upped his game.  Once again, the goal was to acquire something that we could not get in Canada.

Instead of travelling in one car, we did a convoy with two.  Peter and I needed transportation of our own to run the missions we were planning.

As much as MTV did not impress me on my first US trip, our goal this time was dependant on MTV.

“Let’s rent a VCR and tape some episodes of Beavis and Butthead!”  We didn’t get the show in Canada.

That is exactly what we did.  We drove over to the local video store, and rented a VCR.  You might think renting a VCR in a foreign country might be difficult, but it wasn’t.  We hooked it up to the hotel TV (much easier than doing something like this today — more on that in a future instalment of Getting More Tale also involving Peter).  Tuning up MTV, we watched some music before Beavis and Butthead was scheduled.

This time, MTV really pissed me off.  They gleefully ran the embarrassing 1994 Motley Crue interview that the band infamously walked out of.  But the band didn’t do themselves any favours in that interview. MTV baited them a bit with the questions, but they didn’t have to attack Vince Neil in their answers. “No one cares anyway,” said Nikki Sixx when asked about his former frontman. Pushed further, they were asked to comment on Vince’s recent jet-ski accident that put him in hospital with broken ribs. Laughing, Mick Mars asked “What happened to the coral reef?” Sixx answered, “Hey, when 300 pounds of blubber lands on a coral reef, there’s gonna be some dust flying around.”

The question that killed the interview was about “women, hairspray and fire.” MTV ran the segment complete with Nikki mocking the question, while showing images of women, hairspray and fire from their music videos. Stick in a fork in that lineup; it was done.  No matter how good that 1994 Motley Crue album was (and is), that interview polished off the attempted comeback in one stroke.

We recorded a couple episodes of Beavis and Butthead and called it a night.  The next day we did some music and comic book shopping.  US exclusive once more:  Quiet Riot’s reunion album Terrified found and liberated.  I didn’t even know they had come out with anything new.  A cassette single for “Heaven Help” by Lenny Kravitz also found its way home with me. I scored an oversized Black Sabbath comic (Rock-It Comics) and Transformers: Generation 2 #1 with the silver foil fold out cover.

With another successful trip in the books, we packed our bags and checked out.  The last mission to run was returning the VCR to the video store.  There was only one snag.  We were primed and ready to head home early…and the video store opened at noon.  We had to kill some hours driving around, but when that store opened we got the hell out of dodge.  Not the greatest return trip ever, but at least we had Lenny Kravitz.

I stopped going to Frankenmuth after that trip, although Peter and his family returned yearly for some chicken and Christmas ornaments.  My family too.  My mom tells me of a memorable trip that ended in the hospital!   Four years ago my mother, father and sister made a trip where they did the usual; Frankenmuth chicken and the Christmas store. They also ate a lot of junk food; pizza, hot dogs, French fries and candy. On the way home they stopped along the 401 for more French fries. That night my mother ended up in the hospital with a gall bladder attack. It was serious enough that she had it removed two weeks later.  Thank goodness they were home when it happened as they never bothered with extra insurance for a short trip to the US.

As years went on, I ran into people all the time who had gone to Frankenmuth for a vacation.  Inevitably, they will always talk about three things:  the Bavarian Inn, the chicken dinners, and the Christmas store.  None of them seem to have any stories about cool comic books, or finding rare tapes and CDs in Frankenmuth.  Very few of them have done Karaoke, and none have performed “The Immigrant Song” at the Bavarian Inn.  Nobody rented a VCR to record Beavis and Butthead, and then have to wait hours for the store to open to return said VCR.   Nobody even discovered the Jerky Boys on their Michigan trips.

I guess that means that Peter and I are the only ones who did Frankenmuth right.

#356: Cassingles

Aaron at the KMA and I have coordinated posts today about cassette singles!  If you can’t get enough, click here for his!  Geoff at the 1001 has also thrown his hat into the ring, and you can see his cassettes here!

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale #356: Cassingles

Cassingle (noun): “cassette single”, a musical single release, usually consisting of two songs, on the cassette format.

A couple years ago, my parents found in their basement something I had lost and presumed would never see again: an old shoebox full of my old cassette singles!  This was especially valuable to me, because a couple of those cassettes have exclusive tracks on them that have never been released on any other format.  Helix’s “Good to the Last Drop” is one such single.  Van Halen’s “Right Now” is another.

The shoebox also contained my prized cassette copy of the Sonic Temple Collection by The Cult.  Buy cassette one (“Fire Woman”) and you can send away for the box.  Buy cassette two (“Edie”) and you get three Cult cards.  Buy cassette three (“Sweet Soul Sister”), and you can send away for a Sonic Temple pin.  (Which I still have, just not handy for a picture.)

There are some tapes that I know I’m missing.  They include three by Warrant:  “Cherry Pie”, “I Saw Red”, and the horrid “We Will Rock You”, which I probably sold at garage sales when I temporarily disowned Warrant in the 1990’s!  I could also swear that I owned Extreme’s “More Than Words”, but I don’t know what happened to that one.  I’m not worried about it since the B-side remix track is being reissued on the deluxe edition of the Pornograffitti album.  Maybe I gave it to Crazy Thunder Bay Girl!

Check out what remains of my cassingle collection below.

REVIEW: Lenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My Way (deluxe & vinyl editions)

It’s Epic Review Time!  The fourth review from Mike and Aaron Go to Toronto…Again!  Yet another score from Sonic Boom!  I bought this one new, for $24.99.  Warning:  image heavy!

LENNY KRAVITZ – Are You Gonna Go My Way (2013 Virgin deluxe edition, 1993 vinyl edition)

IMG_20141021_205756Man, I love this record.  This was the last legitimately great Lenny Kravitz album.  I’m pleased that with a fresh 2013 remastering job, it still sounds vital and raw.  Back in those days, Lenny was recording on vintage equipment all but exclusively.  In the included interview track, Kravitz discusses the collection that he and drummer Henry Hirsch had acquired, including gear that dated back to the 1940’s and 50’s.  The upkeep of said equipment is a nightmare, he states, as you can imagine.  The results that it yielded, especially on Are You Gonna Go My Way, justify the antique gear and maintenance costs.

I first got this sucker on (clear vinyl) LP back in ’94, which came with a stellar 8-song bonus CD.  I didn’t even have a good way of playing vinyl back then.  My turntable was pretty crap, so I never actually played the LP.  I got Are You Gonna Go My Way on CD a bit later, used, when I started working at the Record Store.  Now I can discard that old CD, because this deluxe renders it obsolete.  (But not the vinyl; more on that in a bit.)

Hopefully everyone knows the energetic title track, a massive smash hit single.  The simple repeating guitar riff is nothing but classic.  The track itself is basic blues-based classic rock, albeit with the tempo maxed out.  This track convinced that Lenny was ready, willing and able to be a rock hero, filling the shoes of his forebears such as Zeppelin and Hendrix.  Yet it was actually the second single, the organ-based ballad “Believe”, that shows what Lenny is truly capable of.  I consider this his best song, bar none.  The 2001 influenced video was so cool, but the delicate song stands on its own.  Its ending is epic in quality.

The other singles on the album included the frighteningly good soul-rock song “Is There Any Love In Your Heart.”  The guitar riff is pure rock, the falsetto vocal pure soul.  The song is deceptively angry.  Though Lenny does not sound enraged, the lyric is pretty clear:

“Babe you say I’m the only one, 
But you’re fucking all my friends,
Baby all that you care about,
Is Gucci and Mercedes Benz, 
You’re just the kind that’s up on all the latest trends.”

The last single from Are You Gonna Go My Way was the gentle love song, “Heaven Help”.  The amazing acoustic track was softer than I generally liked, but it’s hard not to.  It spawned a five-track CD single (or EP?), which we’ll get to shortly.

KRAVITZ ARE YOU GONNA GO_0006Singles aside, the album is loaded with incredible deep cuts.  One of the best is the emotional “Sister”, which really knocks you out by the end.  “Sugar” boats some cool, funky retro horns.  “Eleutheria” is reggae; I can’t think of a better way to describe it.  It’s also a standout, and probably could have been a single in its own right.  “My Love” is psychedelic, while “Just Be A Woman” is simply lovely.  There is plenty of variety on Are You Gonna Go My Way, without sounding fragmented.  It still sounds completely unified.

There’s only one tune I still don’t like, which is “Black Girl”.  It’s one of the softer numbers, but I just don’t find it catchy at all.  But it’s the only one.

KRAVITZ ARE YOU GONNA GO_0004The deluxe edition is jam packed with value.  Disc one boasts seven bonus tracks, all of astounding quality for B-sides.  These tracks had been previously issued on the aforementioned “Heaven Help” single and vinyl edition, so I am well familiar with each.  The upbeat “Ascension” should have been a hit.  “All My Life” is as strong as any of the album cuts.  “Brother” is the funkiest thing here, and maybe should have been included for that reason.  “Someone Like You” is a cool, 60’s-style droning rock song, a bit more upbeat than “My Love”.  “For the First Time” is a quiet slow dance, so for that reason, I can see why it was excluded.  On an album, it could kill momentum.  On a dance floor, it would result in many babies being conceived later in the evening.

Without a doubt, the most hilarious moment is the song “B-Side Blues”, a dirty spontaneous sounding song with spiteful lyrics.  In the words, Lenny complains that he’s been working hard, and only has six days off.  Yet the record company wants new songs!  This is what Lenny presumably gave them.  “Take this song and shove it up your ass,” croons Lenny.  Fortunately there’s enough Zeppelin-y blues here to keep the party going.  “Top 40, yeah!”

The second CD has some great hotel room acoustic recordings.  Sounds like cassette to me!  “Believe” is one I had previously, on the vinyl edition.  The rest are new to me, but every bit as raw and plaintive as the acoustic “Believe”.  Then there are some fantastic unfinished songs and demos.  I could not believe the quality of his throw-aways.  I don’t know if these tunes surfaced later on or not, but they certainly should.  “Work Like the Devil” has elements that sound like “Are You Gonna Go My Way”, but it’s definitely not the same song.  It only has about half the lyrics in place, but damn.  If it was on the album, it would have been a highlight.  Most of these demos are loud rock jams.  “Getting Out” though is a pure funk jam, sounding similar to Zeppelin’s “The Crunge”.  The best of these songs is the instrumental “Blood/Papa (A Long and Sad Goodbye)” which, once you get past the name is a 10 minute slow jam.  In my opinion, this one doesn’t need to be finished.  I think it’s perfect as-is.

KRAVITZ ARE YOU GONNA GO_0005

The last three songs are rough demos of songs written for the album Vanessa Paradis, which Lenny wrote and produced.  These are a bit soft for my tastes.  They are very unlike the rest of the material on this deluxe edition.  I know that “Lonely Rainbows” was on the album, but I don’t know if the other two were used under different names.

Finally, I want to mention two songs that I know of that are missing from this deluxe.  From the vinyl’s bonus CD is a live version of “Sister”.  This take is absolutely epic and it sends shivers up and down my spine at the end.  Just an incredible, raw live performance.  I assume somebody made a decision that live stuff wasn’t going to be on the deluxe.  That means you’re also missing the live medley of “Freedom Train/Always On the Run” from the “Heaven Help” single.  Too bad.  I think most fans would rather have those than the BBC interview.  The interview is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s also 15 minutes long.

I wholeheartedly recommend this deluxe edition of Are You Gonna Go My Way to anybody who wants to check out Lenny Kravitz on the harder side of rock.  You will not be disappointed with either the album, or the deluxe.  In the meantime, I suggest die-hard collectors find the vinyl too, just for that astounding live version of “Sister”.

4.5/5 stars

WTF Search Terms: Musical Inquiries edition

Welcome back to WTF Search Terms.  These are real search terms that somehow led people to mikeladano.com.  Today, I thought I’d answer some people’s musical questions.

Click here for the last WTF Search Terms XV: Fan Favorites – Thussy Edition.

WTF Search Terms XVI:  Musical Inquiries edition

1. why is lenny kravitz last two cds a disappointment

Lenny Kravitz has sucked since cutting off his dreads.  Scientists call it “Samson Syndrome”.

2. whats the dirt on richie kotzen screwing bandmates wifes

Great question.  Kotzen was actually screwing Rikki Rockett’s girlfriend/fiance while on tour with Poison.  Kotzen later married her after being terminated by Poison.

3. glenn tipton can’t play anymore

Incorrect.

4. iron maiden lyrics “what information do you need”

“We want…information…information…information!” – The Prisoner

5. does blackie lawless ever talk to anyone? 2013

Blackie Lawless has taken a vow of silence and now speaks through a computer like Stephen Hawking.

6. i wonder book list of names in the rock roll band kiss used to be in ks benny gene simmons paul stanley ace frehley peter criss and vinnie vincent

I wonder what this person is actually asking.

7. quite riot mr roboto

No.  It’s QUIET Riot, and Mr. Roboto was by Styx.

8. did malcomb mcdowell sing in a rock band?

No.  But there’s this musical:

9. back street boys with guitar

Next.

10. lebrians bb pin

I am not posting my BlackBerry pin, thanks.

SAM_2571

Be sure to check back soon for more WTFs!

Part 208: Flashback 1995

RECORD STORE TALES Part 208:  Flashback 1995

November/December 1995 was freakin’ busy.  We sold a lot of discs that Christmas.  What we didn’t do was listen to a lot of discs!  No; our boss really, really liked Don Henley and TLC.  He played them ad-nauseum.  Like on repeat three times in a row.  I’m not kidding about that.  I distinctly remember the repeat.  Here are the Top Three Discs I Had to Listen to Until My Ears Bled, December 1995.

3. Boney M – Christmas Album

2. Don Henley – Actual Miles

1. TLC – CrazySexyCool

Trevor on the other hand was introducing me to Oasis and managed to get a few cool discs into rotation:

3. The Beatles – Anthology Vol. 1 (usually just disc 2)

2. Foo Fighters – Foo Fighters 

1. Oasis – (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

We were also working with this new guy, Donnie, and we let him pick Dance Mix ’95 a few times.  Unfortunately, the Big Shiny Tunes series hadn’t begun yet.

I didn’t get to pick as many discs as the others — the boss didn’t like my picks.  When I did, I chose the new Def Leppard – Vault (Greatest Hits 1980-1995).

Looking back, there were also a few albums that I found utterly disappointing that season.  They included:

3. AC/DC – Ballbreaker

2. Lenny Kravitz – Circus

1. Savatage – Dead Winter Dead

All three were albums that I was solidly looking forward to, but largely disappointed me.  I never did buy Circus.  I own the other two, but only because I’m a completest (and I got AC/DC for $3).

Finally there were three albums that really got me through that season.  I had just been dumped by my first serious girlfriend and I was really angry about it.  Away from work (my boss didn’t want these ones played in the store) these three albums totally spoke to me that Christmas:

3. Alice in Chains – Alice in Chains

2. Ozzy Osbourne – Ozzmosis

1. Iron Maiden – The X Factor

Let me tell you something people:  I still fuckin’ hate TLC.  I’ll never go chasin’ waterfalls, ever again.

Next time on Record Store Tales…

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Get A Grip (1993 “cow hide” cover)

Let the arrows fly!

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AEROSMITH – Get A Grip (1993 “cow hide” cover)

As an Aero-accolyte, I thought Pump was a great album. All killer no filler, just like they made in the early to mid 1970’s. Permanent Vacation, while laden with huge hits, also had a lot of filler. I think Get A Grip falls somewhere between those two albums. It’s heavier than Vacation, but suffers from filler syndrome.

Witness: “Gotta Love It”. “Shut Up And Dance”. “Boogie Man”. Crap, crap, and crap!

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I think Get A Grip has some of the best Aerosmith tunage of the past 20 years though: “Eat The Rich” is absolutely brilliant. “Fever” as well, musically and lyrically: “The high you be gettin’ from the crack don’t last, I’d rather be OD’ing on the crack of her ass.” That is the Steven Tyler I love! I could do without two of the ballads: “Cryin'” (which maybe is more of a blues?), and “Crazy” I could do without. Even if I liked those two songs, they’ve been so overplayed. “Amazing” on the other hand is string-laden Aero-brilliance, a worthy successor to tracks like “Angel” or even dare-I-say-it, “Dream On”. I also enjoyed “Line Up”, with Lenny Kravitz’ cameo. “Come on, Joe!”

The crown jewel of this album is the lengthy “Living On The Edge”. What a great song, and adventurous too. It wasn’t commercial but became a massive hit. Maybe the last time Aerosmith did a really adventurous single that really wasn’t very single-like.

I think production-wise, this album didn’t shine like Pump did.  Fairbairn produced both and Get A Grip was considered by the band to have a better sound, but I don’t know. I think Pump rocks harder and cleaner.  On the plus side, Get A Grip has good separation between Joe Perry and Brad Whitford, so you can really hear them playing and meshing. Same with Tom Hamilton’s rolling bass, you can pick it out and listen to the notes rather than just the groove. And, of course, Joey — Joey Kramer is one of the most underrated drummers in rock. His thrift is Bonham-esque and his groove is legendary.

I hate the standard album cover, it’s dated and stupid. It was even stupid in 1993, let alone now. Much better is the “cowhide” cover. There are no bonus tracks on that version, but it looks cool sitting in my collection (right next to my faux-leather edition of Pump).

There were numerous notable B-sides and other tracks available elsewhere, now all very easy to get on assorted Geffen compilations. Noteworthy, and worth tracking down, are “Deuces Are Wild”, and the two bonus tracks from the “Living on the Edge” single (“Don’t Stop” and “Can’t Stop Messin'”). There was also a good song called “Head First” that was an early attempt at digital distribution and song downloading!

3.5/5 stars. I wish it were better, but I think it’s too long and loaded with filler. I think it could have been 10 songs, like the Aero-classics of old.

 

REVIEW: KISS My A** (1994)

Part 32 of my series of Kiss reviews, leading up to the release of Monster!

VARIOUS – Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (Official tribute album, 1994)

Kiss My Ass (you just knew they’d use that title eventually) was released in several formats:  LP, CD, and a cool almost unrelated DVD too.  I’ll talk about it all.

In the 90’s if there wasn’t a tribute album for your band, you didn’t matter. But Kiss had one out before Zeppelin and Sabbath. Kiss put it together themselves, which isn’t a bad thing — Black Sabbath and Robert Plant participated in their own tribute albums, too. Kiss My Ass or A** (available with and without profanity) is an enjoyable, diverse listen from start to finish, leaning heavily on stars from the 90’s, but also reaching back in time to a handful of earlier legends.

Up first is a great, very different version of “Deuce” by Lenny Kravitz and Stevie Wonder. Stevie plays some seriously honkin’ harmonica on the track.  It’s completely unlike the original but if you like Lenny Kravitz (which I do), it’s awesome.

The Garth Brooks track is probably the most interesting on the album. Not because it’s Garth — Garth could probably do “Hard Luck Woman” in his sleep, it’s right up his alley and the world knows what a huge Kiss fan he is. It’s his backing band, who appear here uncredited. You may have heard of them. A little band called Kiss.  Kiss even performed the song live with Brooks on late night TV.

Anthrax (with John Bush on vocals), who are also diehard Kiss fans and have done many Kiss covers over the years, simply pummel “She” to a pulp, and once again it’s great. Incidentally, produced by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons.

By now you’ve heard three diverse tracks by three completely different bands, so you’ll be excused if you find the ride a little bumpy now.

The Gin Blossoms played it very straight on “Christine Sixteen”, but Toad The Wet Sprocket really shook it up on “Rock And Roll All Nite”. You have to admire their urge to experiment with the most famous of all Kiss tunes, but really, who spiked their water with Valium? I snooze through this one every time.  It sucks.

“Calling Dr. Love” is performed by supergroup Shandi’s Addiction: Tom and Brad from Rage Against The Machine, Billy Gould from Faith No More on funky bass, all topped by the unique vocals of Maynard James Keenan. How much more 90’s can you get? None, none more 90’s. I can’t say this track is a winner but it sure is different. You’re forced to keep listening out of sheer curiosity.  It sounds like a mash of all three bands which is pretty unimaginable.

Dinosaur Jr. turn up one of the best performances on the disc with a dour, lush “Goin’ Blind”. This mournful version is true to the spirit of the muddy original, and J. Mascis just nails it. Heh…Dinosaur Jr! Yeah, it must have been 1994.

At this point, I’m realizing that Kiss My Ass is just as much a tribute to the bands of the mid-90’s as it is to Kiss!

Extreme turned in a slowed down but groovy version of “Strutter”, complete with Nuno’s own sweet harmony vocals. Great track by a great, underrated band.

I could do without The Lemonheads’ version of “Plaster Caster”, but it is very faithful to the original song. Once again, kids today will ask “Who are the Lemonheads?”

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones really had balls to open “Detroit Rock City” the way they did. It opens with a phone call from Gene Simmons explaining that they could not perform “Detroit”, as Ugly Kid Joe and Megadeth were already fighting over who was going to do the song. Gene advises them to pick another song, right before that bone-crushing opening riff kicks in. And this is truly a great version, if you dig the Bosstones’ unique style of vocalizing.  Ironically neither Megadeth nor Ugly Kid Joe made the cut for this album.  Nor did Nine Inch Nails, who recorded “Love Gun” (still unreleased).

The final track on the domestic CD is a beautiful orchestral version of “Black Diamond” by someone called Yoshiki (X Japan). This is a great instrumental, and the ideal way to end an album such as this. The album, diverse all the way through, ends on a very different note from that which it began!

Import and LP versions have a bonus track, “Unholy” by some German industrial band. I haven’t heard it because I never opened my LP, but for those interested, it is the only non-makeup song included on the album.

I mentioned a DVD release.  It’s badass.  It’s basically a third DVD, along the lines of Exposed and X-Treme Close Up.  It’s loaded with vintage clips and has some interviews with Paul, Gene, Bruce, and Eric.  They briefly show Anthrax in the studio cutting their Kiss cover, as well as Gin Blossoms.  There’s even a preview of the cover artwork for the forthcoming Kiss album to be called Head

Lastly, I even have a rare, rare, really really rare promo Kiss My A** On the Radio CD.  I have no idea what this sucker is worth today.  It is the only audio release of some of the best live tunes from the Kiss My Ass DVD, seven of them, along with tons of Gene and Paul talking.

4/5 stars all around.

The track lists can be found within the photo gallery below: