scream

REVIEW: Scream – No More Censorship (1988)

SCREAM – No More Censorship (1988 RAS Records)

Hey Grohl fans! Think Dave can do no wrong?  Not the case at all — just listen to his lacklustre debut, 1988’s No More Censorship by Scream!  Here is one of those albums that you buy “just for the collection”, but not to listen to on a regular basis.

Scream were a punk band out of Washington DC, with some history behind them.  Grohl made his debut on their fourth album, featuring Peter Stahl (vocals), Franz Stahl (future Foo Fighters guitarist), Robert Lee Davidson (guitar) and Skeeter Thompson (bass).  Amusingly Dave is miscredited as “David Stahl” on the first song.

The songs aren’t bad so to speak, just dull as a cinder block.  They check a lot of the boxes — hard rocking, rebellious lyrics, punchy guitars, but not a lot of hooks.  Scream has several riffs in want of a song.  The riff on “No Escape” is one that vintage Aerosmith would given a nut to write.  The guys could certainly play, and there’s more than enough energy to spare.  But there’s something missing, and it’s the songs that are the problem.  On some tracks, they were just doing basic garage punk.  On others they seemed to be striving to be more than they were.  They stretch outside the box on tracks like “Run to the Sun”.  But 10 minutes later, you can’t remember anything about the song.

The best tune, and the one that best showcases what Dave could do on the drums, is “Fucked Without a Kiss”, a speedy blast regarding incarceration.  Otherwise the album struggles to spark a fire.

In 2017, this album was remixed and reissued on Record Store Day exclusive green vinyl with a different track list.  Maybe the remix made it a better listen?

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Scream (2011 tour edition)

OZZY OSBOURNE – Scream (2011 tour edition)

If you liked Ozzy’s previous album, the quite good Black Rain, then I think you might like Scream even better. As everybody knew, it was Ozzy’s first new studio album of original material without Zakk Wylde since he joined the band. (Jerry Cantrell did play on the perfectly awful covers album Under Cover.) Many wanted to know, “Is Gus G any good?”

Yup.

Ozzy’s never had a bad guitar player, and Gus G is a speed demon. I don’t know alot about the guy, but he seems to emulate Zakk with those “Wylde” bends, yet he also has this fast neo-classical vibe. If you hear that Ozzy live EP that came around the same time (iTunes Festival 2010) you will find that he really nails a Zakk-like vibe on the old Ozzy stuff. On the Sabbath classics, he does justice to Iommi’s chunky riffs. And he’s fast…really fast. In other words, he is kind of the best of all worlds. I’m not saying he’s better than Zakk, because personality goes a long way.  I’m just telling you what I hear.

SCREAM_0002Songwise, Ozzy wrote the album again with Canadian producer Kevin Churko, with some co-writes by Adam Wakeman. Churko also played drums even though Tommy Clufetos was credited. I really like Scream, and I can’t say there’s anything weak on it.  I’ve had a chance to live with it for a few years and I still enjoy it.  Maybe a couple filler tracks here and there, but nothing I hated. Most of the rhythms are chunky and staggered, gated like some nu-metal band but still well within the realm of Oz. The excellent “Soul Sucker” and “Diggin’ Me Down” in particular emphasize this modern sound.  I happen to like both songs a lot.

Yet there are surprises on here. I wouldn’t call them “ballads” per se, but “Time” and “Life Won’t Wait” change the pace. “Time” re-emphasizes Ozzy’s old love of the Beach Boys with its lush “ooh, ooh” backing vocals. “Life Won’t Wait” is a softer, bass-driven mid-tempo rocker with an amazing chorus as only Ozzy can deliver. The bass line really reminds me of another song, “Take a Picture” by Filter.

The rest of the album is heavy, maybe Ozzy’s heaviest. At times it reminded me of Zombie, at others, Sabbath. In general though it is identifiably Ozzy. “Let Me Hear You Scream,” the lead single, is a fast heavy Ozzy rocker designed for firing up the concert crowd. While Scream does not worm its way into your noggin the way Blizzard of Ozz did, it’s still a pretty good record. Ozzy seems very proud of it, and rightly so.

Lyrically, Ozzy’s in familiar territory. His lyrics to me are always underrated (whether he writes them or not). On Scream, he has tracks for his beloved audience as always: “Let Me Hear You Scream” and the touching outro “I Love You All”. On others he’s talking about religion. “Diggin’ Me Down” asks the question, how long must we wait for Jesus Christ to come back? “Crucify” seems to be about crooked preachers again, or perhaps just those who prey upon the desperate.

SCREAM_0004This being Ozzy, a “tour edition” was released not too long after I bought the original. In fact, I bought Scream as a digital download just to get the bonus track “One More Time”, a heart-racing rocker with a great tempo. I also bought this album on Japanese import to get the “Jump The Moon” (not really exceptional) bonus track. Hindsight is always 20/20, and I should have learned from the past album, Black Rain. It too had bonus tracks for different markets, and it too was reissued with all bonus tracks intact on some kind of tour edition.  So Ozzy’s done it again, with this “tour edition” designed to promote his American tour. You can tell by the missing black flag, now replaced with an American banner. Ozzy has also stuck on a “new” song called “Hand of the Enemy” which to me wasn’t as good as the rest of the material on the album. Besides that, there are four live tracks: “Let Me Hear You Scream”, “Bark At The Moon”, “No More Tears” and the Sabbath classic “Fairies Wear Boots”.  This is the second released live version of “Let me Hear You Scream”, though this is the first version available on a physical release.   All four live tracks are great, with Ozzy’s newest band playing competently with their own flavour. Best of the live tracks is “Fairies Wear Boots”, on which Gus G perfectly captures the guitar riff. Plus it’s a song that Ozzy plays less frequently, so that’s a bonus.

I also bought this album on double vinyl. The vinyl edition omits the live songs, but includes an exclusive single edit of “Life Won’t Wait”. So in total, I ended up with Scream four times!  (I gave the Japanese import to my friend Peter.)

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – iTunes Festival London 2010 / “How?” (iTunes exclusives)

Today, T-Rev, Wes and I are attending The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale in Mississauga, Ontario. Wish us luck in our musical quests! For today, an Ozzy rarities review.

OZZY OZBOURNE – iTunes Festival 2010 (iTunes exclusive EP)

Jesus Murphy!  How much live product does Ozzy need?  Remember back in the 80’s when he used to moan and moan about record companies who wanted to release live stuff with his hits and Sabbath tunes?  Well, for a guy who complained about it, he sure didn’t break the cycle.

This is Ozzy’s third live EP (after Live E.P. and Just Say Ozzy).  For those keeping score, Ozzy also has four full length or double live albums, a live bonus disc to the Diary of a Madman album, and several live bonus tracks.  But who’s keeping track?  I guess it’s kind of cool that this EP was released three days after it was recorded on July 3, 2010…if you were there…or even knew it was happening…I guess.

Anyway this live EP was cool at least because it was the first live product available with Ozzy’s new guitar wizard Gus G.  The band was rounded out by Blasko (bass), Tommy Clufetos (drums) and Adam Wakeman (keys).  Hmm, didn’t two of those guys also play on the last Black Sabbath tour?

It’s entertaining enough, but any Ozzy live product in the last 20 years has felt like “just another live album” to me.  Even with the new lineup on this one, I can’t feel too excited.  At least I got one song that I didn’t have any live versions of:  the new “Let Me Hear You Scream”.  Oh, wait, hold on — another live version was on the Scream tour edition that was released a few months later!  Jesus!  This iTunes version sound like it has loads of taped backing vocals.  Too bad.

“Mr. Crowley” is next, a fine version, nothing wrong with it, after all these years nothing can compete with the version on Randy Rhoads Tribute.  Gus G plays the solo pretty much perfectly, but something’s missing.  Maybe it’s that the song is tuned down for Ozzy’s voice.  Ozzy reminds us that he wants to see “some fuckin’ hands”.  Another Blizzard of Ozz track follows, “I Don’t Know”.  Gus G gets to do some more original shredding here, as he puts his own spin on an Ozzy classic.  This guy will be a guitarist to watch, as he grows.

“Suicide Solution” is the third of three tracks from Blizzard.  I think it’s a shame that Ozzy keeps playing the oldies while leaving more recent songs behind him.  On this EP, only “Let Me Hear You Scream” is newer than 1991.  I for one would probably poop if I got to hear something like “Perry Mason” or “Trap Door”.  At least Gus G breaks the world landspeed record with his solo.

One song I never liked, ever, is “I Don’t Want to Change the World” from No More Tears.  This is the fifth version I own now.  It’s just…I dunno…I hate the chorus.  It’s too pop for Ozzy.  It’s like Bon Ozzy, or something.  Ozz Jovi.

My favourite track is last:  “War Pigs”.  Even though “War Pigs” is on pretty much every Ozzy live album ever made, this version is one of the most fun!  I just love when Ozzy tells the audience this:

“Clap your fuckin’ hands, come on you fuckin’ assholes!”

That is just hilarious!  I always laugh.  When I put this song on mix discs, I always label it “War Pigs (‘You fuckin’ assholes’ version)”.

OZZY OZBOURNE – “How?” (2010 iTunes single)

The last thing I want to talk about is Ozzy’s studio version of John Lennon’s “How?”.  This is also an iTunes exclusive, released in October 2010, shortly after the EP.  It was released on what would have been Lennon’s 70th birthday, with the proceeds going to Amnesty International.

Causes and good intentions aside, I think this version is just as crappy as anything on Ozzy’s dreadful Under Cover CD.  This is just…dull, boring, and not good.  I don’t know who played on it or produced it because there are no credits.  (Physical product!  This is why I care!)

iTunes Festival London 2010:  2.5/5 stars

“How?”:  1/5 stars

REVIEW: Tony Martin – Scream (2005, Japanese edition with bonus track)

TONY MARTIN – Scream (2005 Marquee Inc., Japanese edition with bonus track)

Some of you might not know the name Tony Martin.  Yet you should — he spent more time fronting Black Sabbath than anyone except Ozzy Osbourne.  He sang on five studio albums and one live.  His powerful voice, which was constantly compared to Dio’s, was behind such singles as “Headless Cross” and “The Shining”.

Scream is only Tony’s second solo album, but it’s bloody fantastic.  This fits the bill for people who miss where Black Sabbath were going before Martin departed for the first time in 1991, to make room for Dio’s return.  The riffs are there, and on a couple you’d swear Iommi wrote them.  This is intentional — Martin collaborated with ex-Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls (1980-1995) and included music and performances by late Sabbath drummer Cozy Powell.

There are many standout tracks on Scream.  The opener, “Raising Hell”, is a speedy Sabbath-esque number similar to “Eye Witness” from Cross Purposes.  Not coincidentally, this is the track with Nicholls and Powell, a demo for the album that would have followed Tyr.  It’s a standout if you like that period of Sabbath.  Which I do.

Fuck yeah!  I LOVE that period of Sabbath! 

There are blazing guitar solos, organ solos and hell, even a bloody violin solo, and it sounds downright wicked.  Martin himself played it, as he did most instruments on this album.  The rest were handled by his son, Joe Harford!  I’m guessing it was Harford who plays the tasty slide guitar solos too.  I loves me some slide guitar in my metal!  You don’t hear it enough in metal.

Best song:  “I’m Gonna Live Forever”, an anthem that I would say makes the album worth buying on its own. 

Another standout:  “Wherever You Go”, somewhat Zeppelin-esque circa III, but also reminiscient of a Sabbath track like “Odin’s Court”.  Indeed, you will definitely hear Zeppelin creeping in during “Field of Lies”…

Worst songs:  Sadly, I can’t say as I much liked the rap metal song, the Japanese-exlusive “Unbearable”.  It’s basically about how getting no respect is making his life unbearable.  It’s heavy and angry, has some good guitars, and sounds pretty genuine.  I guess it can’t be easy being the 8th (I think) lead vocalist in Black Sabbath.  I also dislike “The Kids Of Today (Don’t Understand the Blues)”.  Basically about what the title says.  It has a synth riff in the verses that is kind of at odds with the title, but maybe that’s the point.

Aside from the two songs that didn’t click with me, Scream comes off as an honest, classy traditional metal album.  It strikes me as a bold attempt to carry the Sabbath flag, during a period when Black Sabbath were not recording.  (Sabbath later got back together with Dio under the name Heaven & Hell, and made one final crushing studio album.)  The songs stand up on their own, with powerful, memorable riffs.  The vocal melodies and indeed the vocal performances are Martin at his best.  This is just a straight great metal album, for those who like it the way they used to make it.

Kids of today.  They just don’t understand!

4.5/5 stars