rob zombie

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – A Fistful of Alice (1999, Japanese edition with bonus tracks)

Scan_20160418 (2)ALICE COOPER – A Fistful of Alice (1999 Guardian records, Japanese edition with bonus tracks)

A Fistful of Alice was released at a time when the sometimes maligned The Alice Cooper Show was the only official live Cooper album.  As only the second live Alice record, Fistful didn’t receive the attention it deserved.  That’s especially too bad, considering it had cool guests including Slash, Rob Zombie, and Sammy Hagar.   There are lots of Alice Cooper live recordings to get today, but in ’99 that wasn’t quite the case.  Fistful, recorded at Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina, came a full five years after Cooper’s last studio album, The Last Temptation, ending the long drought.   The single new song, “Is Anyone Home?” was a pleasant acoustic rock keeper, but the main feature was the live stuff.

There are lots of versions of this album, but only the Japanese has the full 17 song track list.  It took me 15 years to finally track one down at a decent price.   The Japanese edition is worth the effort just for “Clones (We’re All)”, a song that was rarely played for a lot of Cooper’s career.  It’s from near the start of Alice’s 80’s art-punk persona, but its robotic synth-pop was catchy enough for the Smashing Pumpkins to cover it.  The other two bonus tracks are “Bed of Nails” from Trash, and the classic “No More Mr. Nice Guy”.  One that wasn’t on the domestic edition, but was on the UK version is “Under My Wheels”.  Cooper’s band at this time featured Reb Beach (Winger/Whitesnake) on guitar, and damn does he shred on “Under My Wheels”!  The rest of the lineup consisted of Jimmy DeGrasso (Megadeth/Black Star Riders) on drums, guitarist Ryan Roxie (Slash), bassist Todd Jensen (David Lee Roth) and Beach’s old Winger bandmate Paul Taylor on keyboards.  This was Taylor’s second stint with Cooper.  His first stint in the mid-80’s eventually launched the band Winger, since Kip Winger was in the Cooper band at the time.

Besides “Clones”, other pleasant surprises in the set include “Desperado” (“a song I wrote for Jim Morrison a long time ago”),  “Teenage Lament ’74” (dedicated to the glitter and glam rockers) and “I Never Cry”.  “Welcome to My Nightmare” is preceded by an excerpt from the chilling classic “Steven”.  Familiar concert perennials include “Feed My Frankenstein” with Rob Zombie, “Only Women Bleed” with Slash, and “Elected” featuring both.  Slash also plays on the newer tune “Lost in America”, fitting right in there naturally.  It’s quite a decent track list, and Cooper’s band is as professional as any other lineup.  The sonics are great, and Fistful is a nice full recording without a lot of crowd noise.  The Cabo Wabo is probably a great stage for capturing a live recording.

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Finally, Alice self-produced the new song “Is Anyone Home?”, featuring a different set of musicians.  Unexpectedly pop sounding and even featuring a Beatles-like string section, “Is Anyone Home?” was very unlike most of Alice’s stuff.  Take acoustic rock a-la popular 90’s acts like Fastball or the Goo Goo Dolls, crank it up a notch, and add Alice Cooper’s unmistakable voice.  It’s a good track to throw on as a bonus for a live album.  It did not indicate at all where Cooper was going musically, which would prove to be the industro-metal of Brutal Planet.  “Is Anyone Home?” then is an interesting sideline from the main trajectory, but worth having.

A Fistful of Alice was an important album in some ways.  At the time, many fans wondered if Alice had quietly retired.   He hadn’t.  He was playing a lot of golf, but he was also touring regularly.  I saw him play a similar set in Kitchener Ontario in 1997, with the lineup including Reb Beach.  Like on Fistful, he played a few songs from his most recent album even though he technically wasn’t supporting it, and I liked that.  Pick up A Fistful of Alice for a good single-disc summary of the Alice Cooper live experience, and a pretty decent new tune too.

4/5 stars

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CONCERT REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, In This Moment 1/21/08

Review written January 22, 2008.  Dedicated to Peter M. Cavan!

OZZY OSBOURNE/ROB ZOMBIE/IN THIS MOMENT live at the ACC, Toronto Ontario, 01/21/08, on the Black Rain tour

OZZYWhen you pay $100 a ticket you’d better get a hell of a show, no pun intended. While Rob Zombie rose to the occasion and put on the show of a lifetime, Ozzy Osbourne stumbled, carried only by his seasoned band and the love of a metal craving audience.

First up were newcomers In This Moment, who played a short 4 song set to a half filled house. Singer Maria Brink managed to get the crowd going even though most of them didn’t know there was a third band on the bill. Coming out in her trademark blue dress, and screaming her lungs out, I could not believe the power in this woman’s voice. The whole band was hampered by horrible sound which unfortunately rendered her screaming and singing unintelligible. However, at one point she let loose and screamed for a good 30 seconds straight…how she does this is beyond me, I sure can’t! In This Moment played their hit “Beautiful Tragedy” second-to-last and then revved up the audience to see Rob Zombie.

This was Zombie’s last night of the tour, and his crew played pranks on In This Moment through most of their set, however it was dead serious once Zombie hit the stage. Hidden by curtains, the audience could not see Zombie’s amazing stage set until the lights came up. And that was not to happen before we were treated to a surprise: Rob Zombie’s Grindhouse trailer “Werewolf Women Of The S.S.” starring Nicholas Cage as…FU MANCHU! (Zombie is considering making a full movie based on this trailer.)

Then the lights came up, dancing girls on either side of a giant devil head, and band roaring. The head cracked open and an adrenalized Rob Zombie emerged to “American Witch”! What an entrance.

John 5 was at the top of his game on guitar, playing with his teeth, behind his back, throwing his instrument all over the stage. For his guitar solo he even played a snippet of “Oh Canada”, but more on that shortly.

Zombie played all the hits with tons of syncopated pyro behind him, so much that you could feel it from the nosebleeds. “Dragula”, “Living Dead Girl”, “Thunderkiss ’65” and of course “More Human Than Human” were all played expertly, Zombie himself all over the stage at all times. He had ample video footage behind him, showing original film footage from House Of 1000 Corpes, The Devil’s Rejects, his own animation, and classic horror films such as Nosferatu.

Zombie’s crowning moment was during John 5’s guitar solo, at which point he grabbed two flashlights and headed into the crowd, all backed by John 5’s incredible shredding. I mean, come on folks…this is the guitar player that David Lee Roth chose to stand where Eddie Van Halen, Steve Vai, Steve Hunter and Jason Becker have stood.

The only thing wrong the whole Rob Zombie show is that there was so much going on at once, with the video screens, dancing girls, drumming robots, props, lights, and pyro, that you can’t see it all at once. I would like to see Rob Zombie twice or three times…difficult now that his tour is over!

A short break ensued, and then we were treated to some video footage courtesy of the Ozzman. It was a humourous medley of popular film and TV footage from the last year, all recut to star Ozzy himself! Imagine Ozzy in: The Queen. Or Ozzy under Azamat’s ass in Borat! It was good stuff, but unfortunately it underlined that the once and future singer of Black Sabbath has now become something of a joke himself.

Ozzy and his band (Zakk Wylde on guitar, Mike Bordin on drums, Blasko on bass, and Adam Wakeman on keys) then blasted through his first single from the new Black Rain CD, “I Don’t Wanna Stop”. A great opener, unfortunately hard to appreciate with Zakk Wylde’s guitar sounding so harsh in the ACC. Ozzy played most of the classics with very few surprises: “Bark At The Moon”, “Suicide Solution”, “Crazy Train”, “I Don’t Know”, “Mr. Crowley”, “Road To Nowhere” and “Not Going Away” from the new CD.

Ozzy’s problem, both as a solo artist and with Black Sabbath, is his unwillingness to change his setlists. While I’m sure everybody there would have died and gone to heaven if Ozzy played a song like “You Can’t Kill Rock And Roll” or “Diary Of A Madman”, his setlist was based almost entirely around his Blizzard of Ozz and No More Tears CDs. Too predictable, Ozzman. His other problem is his lack of range. His voice cracked many times, and the band lowered the key for him the old songs.

A few disappointing choices: Ozzy did not play “No More Tears”, but instead treated us to the overrated “I Don’t Wanna Change The World”. And for an encore, yes, of course…”Mama I’m Coming Home”. Shame about that, as there are so many better songs to play. “Mama” sure did get the cigarette lighters out [see picture below].

Zakk Wylde did a ridiculous 10 minute guitar solo, which sounded mostly like razorblades coming at your ears. He too played with his teeth, but it was only when he quoted Randy Rhoads’ classic “Suicide Solution” live solo that sparks flew.

As a last song, of course, Ozzy played “Paranoid”. He had to. He couldn’t show up and not play any Sabbath material, although “Iron Man” and “War Pigs” didn’t make his short set. Shame, considering that he reminded the audience that Toronto is where he recorded Never Say Die.

In the end, we all got tired of Ozzy’s endless “I can’t fucking hear you” and “Go extra extra extra crazy!” When Ozzy shouted “I still can’t fucking hear you” for the 100th time, people started responding, “Because you’re fucking deaf”!

There was no question that Ozzy came, saw, and conquered because of his excellent band and the love that the crowd had for him, but it was also obvious that this was Rob Zombie’s show, and there was nothing Ozzy could have done to change that, aside from bringing Randy Rhoads back from the dead.

In This Moment – 3/5 stars
Rob Zombie – 5/5 stars
Ozzy Osbourne – 3.5/5 stars

ozzy

 

DVD REVIEW: The Devil’s Rejects (2005)

Welcome back to the Week of Rockin’ Movies.  Each movie we take a look at this week will have a significant connection to rock music.  If you missed Monday’s installment, click below.

MONDAY:  House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

THE DEVIL’S REJECTS (2005 Lionsgate)

Directed by Rob Zombie

As stated yesterday, I’m generally not a horror movie guy.  I grew up on all the classics (good or bad) in the 80’s, but I thought I just outgrew the genre. Then I saw Rob Zombie’s House Of 1000 Corpses, and its sequel The Devil’s Rejects.

Picking up several months after the end of Corpses, the cops are closing in on the murderous Firefly family. The house is surrounded, and a surprisingly cool gun battle ensues.  It is only the first of many surprises in this cool conclusion. It may be a sequel, but its stark realistic texture is completely different from the bizarre original film. Set mostly outdoors in the deep south, the titular Rejects are soon on the run. But not all of them.

Mama Firefly (recast from Karen Black to Leslie Easterbrook) has been arrested.  Rufus is dead, and the giant Tiny has escaped. Hitting the road, Baby & Otis meet up with Captain Spaulding, who is revealed to be Baby’s daddy!  The three are on the run from a cop out to even a personal score. Like something out of a Sergio Leone film, music and scenery complement each other to take you on a trip that will shock and disgust.  There are no heroes, only victims and killers.  This is not for everyone.

There are buckets full of blood, lots of parts removed from the body to which they were originally attached, and lots of deeds beyond evil. I must stress again: This is not for everyone. The images contained herein will disturb. You may question why they even need to exist.  I suppose Rob Zombie would be the guy to ask, I don’t know.  All I know is, sometimes I can go for a good horror movie, and The Devil’s Rejects scratches the itch.

Much like the original, there is humour to break up the carnage.  Cranked up a tad, Captain Spaulding portrayed by Sid Haig always has a foul line to elicit a reluctant chuckle.   I enjoyed that, but I also enjoyed the sudden change of gears that is the epic ending.  Going out in a blaze of glory, I will never hear Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” again without seeing the three faces of the Devil’s Rejects.

As seen here, I own this movie with House of 1000 Corpses in a great DVD 3-pack.  The disc has plenty of special features on its own, including a tribute to the late actor Matthew McGrory (Tiny).  Also look for a cool deleted scene with Rosario Dawson and Dr. Satan that ties the two films together.  Included on the bonus third disc is a feature called 30 Days in Hell, which is the making of The Devil’s Rejects.  I enjoyed seeing Zombie work on the finer details; for example finding a specific T-shirt (Cheap Trick) for Brian Posehn’s roadie character.

4/5 stars, and 1 blood-splattered face.

Sid Haig as Johnny Lee Johns
Bill Moseley as Otis Driftwood
Sheri Moon Zombie as Vera-Ellen Firefly
William Forsythe as Sheriff John Quincey Wydell
Ken Foree as Charlie Altamont
Matthew McGrory as Tiny Firefly
Leslie Easterbrook as Gloria Firefly
Danny Trejo as Rondo
Diamond Dallas Page as Billy Ray Snapper
Brian Posehn as Jimmy
Tom Towles as George Wydell
Tyler Mane as Rufus “RJ” Firefly Jr

DVD REVIEW: House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Hey! Welcome to another week-long series at mikeladano.com!  This time, the theme is Rockin’ Movies.  Each movie we take a look at this week will have a significant connection to rock music.  Enjoy!

HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2003 Universal)

Directed by Rob Zombie

I’m generally not a horror movie guy, although I grew up on all the cheesy classics in the 1980’s. I thought I just outgrew the genre. Then my buddy Thuss implored me to see Rob Zombie’s House Of 1,000 Corpses.

Anchored by Zombie’s uncommon visual stylings and eclectic tastes, this House is rocking, don’t bother knocking. The setup:  An ill-fated foursome of young men and ladies are travelling cross country. They stop for gas and chicken at Captain Spaulding’s “Museum of Monsters & Madmen” (as played by the near-legendary Sid Haig). Spaulding is the best character written by Rob Zombie, both hilariously funny and mildly disturbing at the same time. Well, he’s a creepy clown. If you have a clown phobia, Spaulding’s the creepiest I’ve ever seen, but I can’t help but laugh every time he opens his sizable mouth.

Spaulding tips the kids (Rainn Wilson is the only “name” here) off to the creepy legend of “Dr. Satan”.  They then decide it’s a good idea to go hunting for Dr. Satan’s hanging tree in the middle of the night. In the rain. It is then that they meet the beautifully disordered Baby Firefly (Sherri Moon Zombie)…and get a flat tire. Things only go downhill for the young ones from there, as I’m sure you can imagine. Baby invites our young travelers to her family’s farm, where her brother can surely fix their flat tire.

Special mention must go to out to Bill Mosely who is terrifyingly unstable as the most amoral member of the Firefly family, Otis B. Driftwood. He only gets more interesting as a character in the sequel, The Devil’s Rejects…but that is another review.

Some horror purists can’t get into Zombie’s style. Indeed, he has a unique vision as any fan of his will know. If you like oddly proportioned monsters and robots, just go see him in concert. Zombie also likes to populate his films with 70’s southern stereotypes. Indeed, one would argue that the movie has no actual characters, just character types. That’s the kind of horror movie that I remember growing up with, and I believe his films pay homage to that very well. He also had a practical reason for setting his movies in the 1970’s.  No cellphones.  No-one to call for help.  No GPS. No way to call AAA and get a tire changed.  Isolation.

House of 1,000 Corpses is a visually disturbing film, and that’s one reason I can’t stop watching it. Other horror films are simply cheese-fests. Not this one. There are gallons of blood, body parts, and a couple monsters too, but all presented in a surreal nightmare setting that might have you avoiding country roads at night. Zombie went in a completely different direction in the next movie, so House of 1000 Corpses remains the “weird” chapter in this series.

Will there be justice on the Fireflys? Tune in tomorrow for my review of The Devil’s Rejects.

4/5 stars and 2 severed hands.

Sid Haig as Captain Spaulding
Bill Moseley as Otis B. Driftwood
Sheri Moon Zombie as Baby Firefly
Karen Black as Mother Firefly
Rainn Wilson as Bill Hudley
Tom Towles as Lieutenant George Wydell
Matthew McGrory as Tiny Firefly
Robert Mukes as Rufus “RJ” Firefly Jr
Dennis Fimple as Grampa Hugo Firefly

REVIEW: David Lee Roth – DLR Band (1998)

DLR BAND_0001

DAVID LEE ROTH / DLR BAND: DLR Band (1998 wawazat!!)

In 1998, David Lee Roth was angry. He’d been conned by Van Halen into appearing on the MTV awards with them to promote their new greatest hits, and implying that Dave was back. Dave was not back. Van Halen released the derided Van Halen III with Gary Cherone earlier in ’98, while Dave sat back waiting to unleash the DLR Band.

The DLR Band consisted of Dave himself on vocals, John 5 (yes, the John 5) and Terry Kilgore on guitar, and Ray Luzier on drums. Of course, today John 5 is well known for his work with Marilyn Manson and Rob Zombie, and Ray Luzier is in Korn. Terry Kilgore had been working with Dave since 1994’s Your Filthy Little Mouth. Cover art was simple, a picture of Bettie Page over an American flag and no real indication that this was David Lee Roth. A lot of stores didn’t know either, and filed it under “DLR Band” instead of Roth, guaranteeing lack of sales.

So this was one smokin’ band, and with John 5 on board, a hot guitarist to rival the flaming fingers of St. Eddie. John 5 sounds to me like a cross between Van Halen, Steve Stevens and Tom Morello. For the bluesier sounds on the album, Terry Kilgore’s strat aptly filled the gaps. And that basically sums up the album. It goes from bluesier grooves such as “Lose The Dress (Keep The Shoes)” to space-age fast-paced VH shuffles like “Slam Dunk!” Additional guitar and writing is supplied by Mike Hartman.

IMG_00001056Dave’s not as poetic on the lyrics this time, with “Counter-Blast” being particularly bad. I can’t think of one good song about the internet, and this is no exception. “I’m gonna fax you into the atom age”? “Your page or mine”? Sorry Dave. Stick with what you know. Hot cars, girls, a drink and some philosophy of life.

Highlights for me are many. On the faster, space-age side are “Slam Dunk!”, “Relentless”, and the aforementioned “Counter-Blast” which is great musically. On the groovier, sleezier side are “Wa Wa Zat!!”, “Weekend With The Babysitter”, and “Lose The Dress (Keep The Shoes)”. The album ends with “Black Sand”, an atmospheric sunset-stained journey. But really, there are no lowlights on this album of strong rock songs. No ballads.

The sound of the album is crisp and tight, recorded in just 10 days like the Van Halen albums of old. No gloss, no flourishes, no flashy production except in John 5’s guitars. Where this album differs most from Van Halen classics is Dave’s voice. On the old albums, Dave could hide his voice’s weaknesses behind Mike and Ed’s backing vocals. Here, Dave’s voice is naked, sometimes flat, sometimes sharp, sometimes wheezing.

Having said that, I still recommend DLR band to fans of Roth who love that attitude and hot guitar. However, if you’re expecting the man to sing like he’s 25 again, best to stick to the old albums.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Two – Voyeurs (1998)

Part 4 in a miniseries on Rob Halford’s solo career!  Missed the last part?  Click here for Fight – A Small Deadly Space.

TWO – Voyeurs (1998 Nothing)

Fight was kaput.  Rob had a new band, a photo of whom appeared in Metal Edge magazine.  The band was called Halford, and although that would change, Rob used his surname for another band later on.  I remember a weird looking blonde dude wearing a silver skin tight suit of some kind (more on him later), and I thought, “Well, OK then.  This is going to be different.”  Soon after the Metal Edge photo, the name had changed from Halford, to Two.

I had a buddy, Nathan, who was really into Nine Inch Nails.  This Halford project was on his radar as well, due to Rob’s collaboration with Trent Reznor.  At the time, Rob Halford insisted that the resulting album, an industrial/rock hybrid, was the sound he was going for all along when he quit Priest in ’92 and formed Fight.

I don’t believe that, but they did come close on the Mutations EP. I think Fight was exactly what he wanted to do at that time. When the second Fight album fizzled I think Rob questioned his musical direction, hooked up with Trent, and did this experimental record.

Two (stylized as 2wo) were experimental by Halford’s standards, but not by industrial music standards in general. Voyeurs has all the expected bells and whistles, including but not limited to:  distorted vocals, the word “pig” in a song title, thumpy bass, ticky-ticky sounds, bloops, bleeps, and other stuff that sounds like broken machinery.

What does make this album special is that the band was “Two”, not “One”…meaning there is a second guy involved here, and what a talent he was. That guy was guitar player John 5. This was his breakthrough release. After this he hooked up with David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, et al. John 5’s involvement means there is some wicked guitar work here, including “I Am A Pig” which features a solo that sounds like a mashup of Morello and Satriani.

Highlight songs include “I Am A Pig” (Reznor sure loves his pig imagery), “Stutter Kiss”, “Hey Sha La La”, “Water’s Leaking”, and the epic closer “Bed of Rust”.  “Bed of Rust” could have made a pretty cool Fight track.  I would say in fact that there are no throwaway songs here.  All of them have something worthwhile to offer.  Just don’t think too much about the lyrics.  Halford’s delivery is understated and, at times, whispery. No screams. At Reznor’s suggestion,  instead Rob explored other aspects of his voice.

Other notable names:  Bob Marlette plays bass and produces.  Dave “Rave” Ogilvie does some production work.  Trent Reznor “executive produced”.  I always wondered what that means.  I picture it meaning that Trent gives the project either a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” when the real work is done.

JOAQIN

Of course many Priest fans didn’t get it, although a chunk of the Reznor fans (who at the time would buy anything on Nothing records) accepted and enjoyed the album for what it is.  I think if this was a release by a more popular band, like say Nine Inch Nails or KMFDM, it could have spawned two or three singles.

Japan had a bonus track called “In My Head” which is absolutely impossible to find, so good luck. I’ve never heard it.

3.5/5 stars

Postscript:

It was during this period, promoting the Two album, that Rob Halford came out.  People joked for a good number of years that Rob’s sexuality was the worst kept secret in rock.  That can’t negate the courage that it took for Rob to come out in a musical genre that isn’t always kind to anyone who’s “different” (hello, Blabbermouth!).

“I think it’s difficult for everybody, you know, in making the decision to come forward and be who you are, based on peer pressure, especially if you’re a teenager,” Halford said. “That’s where a lot of the anxiety begins, and so maybe people like myself and others that do step in front of a camera and let the world know, maybe it’s of some help, where there’s an individual that’s been successful, that’s been able to achieve dreams and visions and goals in life and not let the issue of sexuality be something to hold them back, so I think it’s an important thing.”

More:

LGTBICONS:  Rob Halford – Angel of Retribution

MTV News – Rob Halford Discusses Sexuality Publicly For The First Time

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – “Keepin’ Halloween Alive” (2009 single)

ALICE COOPER – “Keepin’ Halloween Alive” (2009 iTunes exclusive single)

In 2009, Alice took the cool step of releasing a special Halloween single.    It was a cool rock song called “Keepin’ Halloween Alive” (baby 3-6-5!) .  It was a basic four piece rock song, completely unlike the previous album, Along Came A Spider.  I wasn’t big on that album, and I’ve never been into any of Alice’s late period alterna-industrial-post grunge albums very much.  I was much more into Dirty Diamonds.  “Keepin’ Halloween Alive” is more polished and produced than that, with keyboards and overdubs, but at least it’s back to the rock sounds that I prefer.

The song was written by Cooper and Piggy D. from Rob Zombie’s band.  The B-side was a “Cooperoke” (instrumental) version.  It’s cool, nice to have as a bonus, but otherwise not terribly interesting.

“Keepin’ Halloween Alive”, was only available on iTunes (blech), with a very very limited release as a 7″ single.   The iTunes download did come with a pdf file and a “digital booklet”, whoop de do I guess.    Nice artwork, Zombie-esque, with lyrics and humour.  I just don’t know who sits at their computer going through a “digital booklet” the way you sit on your coach leafing through the real thing.

3/5 stars