Mark Chaussee

REVIEW: Fight – “Christmas Ride” (1994 single)

1db1835968cbc23429860145ff5 (1)FIGHT“Christmas Ride” (1994 single, 2009 free download reissue)

Some people think Halford III: Winter Songs was Rob’s first Christmas release.  Truth be told, I don’t even own Winter Songs.  Christmas music is barely just above tolerable for me.  The completist in me wants to own everything; the music lover in me doesn’t really care for Christmas tunes, metal or otherwise.  Besides, in 2009 Rob’s website was offering a limited time free download of “Christmas Ride”, a song Rob recorded in 1994 with Fight!  20 years ago!  Unreal.

Don’t let the jingle bells throw you.  That soon turns into revving engines, and a chugging Fight riff not too dissimilar from the stuff they did on War of Words.  This was, however, probably recorded during the Small Deadly Space sessions, because Mark Chaussee is credited on guitar, even though Russ Parrish appears on the cover.

Either way, it’s purely metal.  Rob is screaming in his upper register for all but the choruses, for which he howls.  There’s absolutely nothing Christmas-y about the music (which is fine) but I just can’t get into the chorus of “Christmas ride!”  The lyrics are funny enough.  Fight have paid tribute to Santa this time: “The fat man’s coming and he knows no fear, He’s a big red rebel with some mean reindeer.”  There’s even a reference to breakin’ the law: “Cruising ’round town breaking every law, He’ll come back next year to crank it up some more.”

I’m assuming Rob is referring to the crime of break & enter.  He may also be breaking various aviation laws, but I don’t know how that works.  I’ve never read about any charges being pressed, or warrants being issued, so I’m assuming that these minor infringements have been overlooked because of all the gift giving and so on.

But OK, it’s an alright song.  Nothing special, though it does quote the “Nailed to the Gun” riff at one moment.  It was released as a promo-only fanclub release in 1994, which I have never laid eyes upon.  The free download offer was a legal way for me to get the tune.  It also came with “Rob Halford’s Holiday Greeting” (11 seconds)! “Hey everybody, this is Rob Halford from Fight, wishing you all a crazy heavy metal Christmas and an insane, wild manic New Year!”  There I spoiled it for you.

Would love a physical copy of this, for the collection.  This is for fans only.  Grandma will not dig it if you play this at your Christmas dinner this year.

3/5 stars

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REVIEW: Fight – A Small Deadly Space (1995)

Part 3 of a miniseries on Rob Halford’s solo career!  Missed the last part, Mutations?  Click here!

FIGHT – A Small Deadly Space (1995 Epic)

Russ Parrish was out, and in came youngster Mark Chaussee.   This change negated one thing I loved about Fight, which was the interplay between two different guitar players.  Chausee and Tilse are too similar in tone, and so the followup album A Small Deadly Space renders me deaf if I try to listen to it in one sitting.  The mix on this album bothers me, it has so much bottom end, but then not enough on top to balance it.  I don’t like the vocal effects that reduce the power of Rob’s voice.   Halford doesn’t scream much on A Small Deadly Space.

The songs are powerful enough, and this time Rob is writing with his bandmates.  The opener “I Am Alive” is slow and massive, unlike anything on War of Words.  “Mouthpiece” is different yet again, with a slippery riff and an accelerated pace.  “Blowout in the Radio Room” is actually psychedelic metal.  Halford sings about how music gets him high, and goes for a tripping druggy sonic assault.  The guitar solos are straight out of the Hendrixian Book of Knowledge, it’s just great.  “Never Again” is one of the few moments of Halford screams, and it’s like an injection of adrenaline!  This is a Priest-quality album track.

SMALL DEADLY_0003I still think of CDs in terms of being albums, of having a “side one” and a “side two”, and to me this sounds like a natural break between two album sides.  I like side one, but side two wears on me.   The title track has a wicked wicked cool sounding guitar solo, but it’s just one lick that repeats four times.  Typical 90’s simplicity.  Then there’s “Gretna Greene”.  The lyrical matter is that of abuse, but unfortunately this very important subject is relegated to the back seat by the title of the song.  Yes, it’s an O.J. Simpson trial reference.  That wouldn’t matter so much if the music stood up, but this song is pretty boring.  They stay that way until “Human Crate”, which is slower but a really cool song with powerful vocals.  The album ends with a ballad, “In A World of My Own Making”.  For the first two minutes it’s just a piano, and Rob.  It’s a side of Halford rarely heard.  Then the band comes in, and it becomes a slant on “Beyond the Realms of Death”.  Except…with flat sounding drums and brittle guitars.

But that’s not all, there’s also the super hard to find secret bonus track, “Psycho Suicide”.  It’s noisy and tuneless, but it sure is heavy, and I kinda like it.

So, I think I’ve been clear that I’m not a fan of the mix of this CD.  A Small Deadly Space was remixed as part of the 2008 Into the Pit box set.  As I get along in this series of reviews, I’ll revisit that box set and see if this album makes a new impression on me.

For now?

2.8/5 stars

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