Week of Flaming Turds

REVIEW: Yngwie J. Malmsteen – Inspiration (2 CD reissue)

FLAMING TURDS

“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING.  Thanks Sarca!

What better way to end the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS than with a covers album?!  Thanks for joining us this week for some very questionable music!

Scan_20160317YNGWIE MALMSTEEN – Inspiration (1998, 2000 Spitfire 2 CD reissue)

“Woah!” said I upon spying this album for the first time, back in 1998 at the big HMV on Yonge St.  “Yngwie did a covers album!  Scorpions, Rainbow, Rush, lots of Purple…I’m in!”  For some reason, I thought that updated versions of some of my favourite songs redone by Yngwie Malmsteen would be something I’d want to hear all the time.  Eagle Rock did a reissue of Inspiration a couple years later with some bonus tracks out of the Yngwie archives, so when that one came in used at the Record Store, I swapped up for it.

Now, you might think that with such vocal luminaries as Jeff Scott Soto, Joe Lynn Turner, and Mark Boals, it would be hard to miss.  You would be wrong.  It’s impressive that all three guys served as lead vocalist for Yngwie in the early years, and returned for the covers album.  Beyond that, this album is still a turd.  Right from the orange-skinned Yngwie turd cover art, to the ghastly version of “Manic Depression” that Yngwie sings himself, this album is dreadful.  Just a real haul to try and listen to in one sitting.

Yngwie insists on producing all his music, and he has managed to make Jeff Scott Soto sound dull, sterile and boring.  No mean feat.  “Carry On Wayward Son” (Kansas) is an excuse for Malmsteen to over-shred, but Soto is not given a chance to do anything.  Even though Yngwie’s version of the song is actually shorter, it sounds way longer.  A simply atrocious “Pictures of Home” is given to Joe Lynn Turner to sing; kind of obvious since he was actually in Deep Purple for a few minutes.  How did they get drums to sound this bad?  The Blackmore obsession continues with “Gates of Babylon” (Rainbow) and even more Purple:  “Mistreated”, “Demon’s Eye”, and “Child in Time”.  Yes, that makes half of this covers album a Ritchie Blackmore covers album.  “Gates of Babylon” is pretty good, Soto finally unleashed, but then Yngwie shits all over it with a guitar solo that is way louder than the lead vocals!

Gates of Babylon

Gates of Babylon

The best things about these remakes could be the keyboard of Jens Johansson: not trying to copy Jon Lord in any way, but certainly a fun player to listen to if you’re into the neo-classical.  Unfortunately even he can’t save some of these tracks.  “Child in Time” is truly awful, simply not worth listening to.  Why waste eight minutes on this when you can play the original?  On the brighter side, a heavy version of “In the Dead of Night” by the progressive rock supergroup, U.K. is pretty good.  It’s a song you may recognize (I knew it from somewhere), but perhaps the reason I dig Yngwie’s version is that the original isn’t ingrained in my mind.    Mark Boals sings it, and his voice is strong and ripping!

Then we have the bonus CD.  (The Japanese version of the CD has a bonus track, Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic”, but I don’t care.)  The best track on this disc is the song “Voodoo” from Yngwie’s album Magnum Opus.  Mike Vescera was the singer, and I always liked his era in Malmsteen.  It’s a heavy original tune with buckets of drama.

The balance of the bonus CD is a mixture of early Yngwie rarities and interviews…mixed together.  Meaning you don’t get actual full songs.  You get bits of songs and then Yngwie talking about the album and the music that inspired him, including Paganini.  I really hate when songs are chopped up like this.  The interview is not riveting but is good.  Childhood musical memories, early bands, and influences are notable topics.  Yngwie’s preoccupation with his own playing is fascinating.  He calls it an “obsession” and it’s clear from his work that he plays only to please himself.  And that’s just dandy.

Inspiration as a whole is overplayed, sonically sterile, and comes across as completely uninspired.  When Yngwie overplays on his own originals, that’s OK.  That’s the way the songs were written.  When you go nuts soloing all over “Sails of Charon” (Scorpions), all the listener really wants is to hear the sultry, original tones of Uli Jon Roth.  Inspiration is still a chore to finish, and it’s now going back on the shelf for a very long time.

1/5 stars

 

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REVIEW: W.A.S.P. – K.F.D. (1997, domestic and Japanese versions)

FLAMING TURDS

“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING.  Thanks Sarca!

We continue with the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS!  We’re looking at a collection of malodorous music.  Strike a match, you’ll need it for these stinkers!  This one smells like something went bad in that fridge….

W.A.S.P. – Kill.Fuck.Die (1997 Castle, 1997 Victor Japanese import)

W.A.S.P. sure started to suck in the 1990’s. 1995’s Still Not Black Enough was alright: It got the job done in putting new W.A.S.P. music on the shelves, though it was hard to find in stores.  Then Marilyn Manson came along, the new king of shock rock, and Blackie Lawless said “Hey!  I did that first!  I need to take back my throne.”  Caking on the makeup, he reconnected with erstwhile lead guitarist Chris Holmes.  Rather than playing to their collective strengths, the pair instead wrote and recorded an album of industrial rock that came off as a desperate attempt to be relevant.   The oh-so edgy album title Kill.Fuck.Die. had to be abbreviated to K.F.D.  The album packaging was clever in concept but crap in delivery.  A blurry picture of a fridge opens to reveal another blurry picture body parts and meat.  On the inside, yet another blurry picture of a pig carcass.  Go, 90’s!

Because this writer is a fucking OCD idiot, he owns both the domestic and Japanese versions of K.F.D.  This means I have all the different bonus tracks.  You get to read a one-stop review including all the tracks.  Good for you!

“K.F.D” sounds as if the band were playing in a shoe box full of stuffing.  W.A.S.P. are muffled, robbing them of the guitar excitement we’re used to.  Blackie’s voice is distant because…90’s.  As usual Stet Howland’s drumming is way too busy.  Fortunately the song has hooks, but who wants to run around singing “Kill!  Fuck!  Die!”?  Not this guy.  Sorry Blackie, but even as an angry young man I thought this was lame.

Skip the boring and monotonous “Take the Addiction”.  Do the same for “My Tortured Eyes”, a slow distorted drag of a song.  These tunes are necessary listening only for diehard Blackie fans who need to buy everything he burps and farts.  There are a couple good songs next, though the titles are pretty doltish:  “Killahead” and “Kill Your Pretty Face”.   The first is fast metal, but of course still with this annoying “industrial” production.  (I use the quotation marks because it’s really not industrial music per se…there are no interesting samples or loops to keep things moving.)  The second is a slow burn, that drags for a while before we finally get to the chorus, which is a good one at least.  Good enough to consider it a decent song.  “Fetus” is a waste of time, just a minute of screaming and noise.  It blends into “Little Death”, just noise trying to sound like Trent Reznor.  Wisely, the Japanese edited these two off, and included their own bonus track “Tokyo’s On Fire” in this spot.  Maybe “Little Death” could have been a good song if it wasn’t compressed and distorted into nonsense.  Thankfully they stuck to a rock production with “Tokyo’s On Fire”.  That does make it sound odd sitting in the middle of the album.  Suddenly, the music sounds alive, not strangled!  “Tokyo’s On Fire” sounds like W.A.S.P., not Marilyn-Trent Lawless!

Scan_20160226 (4)

Another dumb title, “U”, masks an OK song.  The lyrics are pretty are pretty half-baked.  “U fuckin’ suck!” sings Blackie.  No wonder they didn’t include a lyric sheet in this baby.  Anger is a great emotion to express in rock music.  Get it out!  But “Kill yourself for me,” doesn’t cut it for lyrics.  Shock without purpose.  A molotov cocktail without a revolution.  It’s just shrapnel, nothing more.  “Wicked Love” is better, thankfully, with a good chorus and melody, but again the compressed guitars just underwhelm.  It would have been nice if Blackie had let the guitars sound like, you know, guitars.  The album closes out on “The Horror” which is way too long, and takes forever to go anywhere.  A good solid five minutes could have been trimmed from this coma-inducer.  It ends powerfully, but it’s basically just a reprise of “K.F.D.”.  So, if you consider “K.F.D.” and “The Horror” to be one song in two parts, and do the same for “Fetus” and “Little Death”, then…holy shit, Blackie only came up with nine new songs for this album, including the Japanese bonus track!

The aforementioned domestic CD packaging has two significant flaws.  One is that the cardboard fridge is hinged on a perforation, which usually tears after opening it too many times.   The other is that it is unfortunately not worth opening.  Keep the fridge closed, fans.

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Queensryche – Tribe (2003)

FLAMING TURDS

“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING.  Thanks Sarca!

We continue with the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS!  We’re looking at a collection of malodorous music.  Strike a match, you’ll need it for these stinkers!  Today, please welcome to the stage, Mr. Geoff Tate.

Scan_20160228QUEENSRŸCHE – Tribe (2003 Sanctuary)

Queensryche fans have had a lot to deal with over the last 20 years.  Uneven albums, lineup changes, framed by occasional flashes of brilliance were the norm up until recently.  The most significant obstacle was the 1997 departure of Chris DeGarmo, their chief songwriter and beloved guitarist.  Overall burnout caused by band turmoil led DeGarmo to retire from music altogether and follow his dream of becoming a pilot.  Later statements from the band (during their legal battle with former singer Geoff Tate) claimed outright that he left because of “Geoff Tate’s personal demeanor” with the guitarist.  In his absence, Tate took over the role of primary songwriter and began leading the band.  Their first post-DeGarmo album was 1999’s Q2k, a pretty heavy record that was largely dismissed by fans for being a departure from style and quality.  DeGarmo’s replacement guitarist Kelly Gray was let go shortly after the Live Evolution album.  Struggling to come up with material for another album, Queensryche called Chris DeGarmo up on the telephone.  The guitarist softened his stance and readied himself to make a full return to the band.  He wrote, played guitar in the studio and even took part in photo shoots.  Fans hoped for something special that would live up to the Queensryche legacy from this reunion.  It was not to last.  The same old strains returned between DeGarmo and Tate, and it was over before it started.

Fandom felt the wind taken out of its sails, and eyebrows were raised at the sudden second departure.  The released album Tribe featured five co-writes from Chris DeGarmo, and one from new Queensryche guitarist Mike Stone (ex-Peter Criss), who was hired shortly after.  Both Stone and DeGarmo receive credit as special guests.  Upon listening, best hopes for the album were dashed.  Tribe‘s 10 songs come off as half-baked outtakes from a better album that was  never made.  Some of the blame must go to the production, a flat and dry sounding affair.  However that cannot explain the dull songs.  It’s not all bad — “Open Your Eyes” features a damn fine, exotic sounding riff, probably contributed by DeGarmo.  They just couldn’t construct a memorable song around it, and Tate couldn’t seem to get his singing into gear.

The sole Mike Stone co-write, “Losing Myself” is a programmed mess of samples without a song.  The chorus sounds like an outtake from the dreary Hear in the Now Frontier album.  Same with the acoustic “Falling Behind”, which is too bad because it’s one of the songs on which you can hear Chris DeGarmo’s playing.  In fact, Tribe in general might be considered Hear in the Now Part II, so similar are they.

The only real quality musical moment happens on the DeGarmo co-write “Desert Dance”.  Exotic and heavy but with an actual song built out of it, “Desert Dance” gets you moving.  Drummer Scott Rockenfield throws a lot of percussion tricks into it, emphasizing the exotic (this is true of the album in general).  Tate actually sounds alive on this, becoming the cheerleader of the album.  “Desert Dance” was the only song that had me reaching for the volume knob to turn it up.  One other decent track is “Rhythm of Hope”, a co-write with Eddie Jackson and Scott Rockenfield that sounds like it was an effort to be the second “Silent Lucidity”.  Unfortunately that moment has passed.

It’s worth noting that the only member to have a songwriting credit on every song in Geoff Tate.  I place the blame for Tribe‘s lack of life at his feet.  The album is only 41 minutes, but it is a long 41 minutes.  Difficult to finish, hard to like and easy to forget, Tribe remains a chore today.

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Bon Jovi – Burning Bridges (2015)

FLAMING TURDS

“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING.  Thanks Sarca!

It’s the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS!  This week we will be looking at a collection of malodorous music.  Strike a match, you’ll need it for these stinkers!  

For a “drunk review” of this same album by Aaron over at the KMA, click here!

BURNING BRIDGESBON JOVI – Burning Bridges (2015 Mercury)

Like the gambler, I lay my cards on the table:  Richie Sambora was a critical component of Bon Jovi, perhaps as important as their leader.  That’s the way we see it here at LeBrain HQ.  A Bon Jovi without Sambora is a far less interesting animal.  Still, we do have a responsibility to listen to their first post-Richie album, Burning Bridges, with open ears and report back with accuracy.  So let us begin.

Burning Bridges is a set of unreleased and new songs, and also their last record with Mercury.  By calling it a gift to the fans and not considering it a “real” album, the pressure was off.  Producer/co-writer John Shanks handles guitar duties with Jon Bon Jovi on acoustic.  Billy Falcon also co-wrote a number of tracks, and there’s even one lone Richie co-write.

Things begin slowly on “A Teardrop to the Sea” but there is a dark edge to it that is appealing and reminiscent of the underrated These Days album.  I question the wisdom of opening an album wish such a slow number but it does make a strong first impression.  It is sparsely arranged yet powerful, and with or without Richie it sounds like Bon Jovi.  All it needs is one of his bluesy, soulful solos…alas.  Shanks does his best to imitate the axeman. “We Don’t Run”, the single, starts off well but then it descends into another glossy, overproduced digital mess with another imitation Richie solo. Potential wasted.

Sambora co-wrote “Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning” but it’s just paint-by-numbers Pop Jovi. You can predict the hooks coming, although you gotta give credit to the talent of Tico Torres for throwing in some cool drum beats. Pop Jovi strums the acoustics again on “We All Fall Down”, a ballad completely interchangeable with similar ones on any Bon Jovi album over the last decade. Ditto, “Blind Love”. It’s like Kleenex: You pull one out, and an identical tissue takes its place!  Pop Jovi continues balladeering on “Who Would You Die For”.  It does have a dark and low key These Days kind of vibe, but the slick production and programming are completely unnecessary.  I’d give the song a C though rather than a D or lower, because it’s dramatic enough, crap production aside.

Unplugged “Fingerprints” is horrid, flaccid and flatulent for its entire six minute length.  Lyrically, at this point I’m convinced that Jon is just writing down the first things that come to his mind.  “I gave you my fingerprints, guilty or innocent,” he sings with false passion.  More woah-oh-oh singing commences on the nauseatingly contrived “Life is Beautiful”, clearly a leftover from Bon Jovi’s new country period (Lost Highway).  The crapslide continues with “I’m Your Man”, upbeat at least but without a spine.  Finally we have “Burning Bridges”, the song Jon wrote about leaving Mercury, and it’s actually the best song on the album!  Yes, it’s country, but it sounds more or less like a jam, without the annoying production.  The lyrics are pretty hilarious and are by far the most interesting ones on the album.  It’s pretty obvious what it’s about so if you want a taste of the music industry from Jon’s perspective, give it a listen:

“After 30 years of loyalty,
They let you dig the grave,
Now maybe you could learn to sing,
Or even strum along, I’ll give you half the publishing,
You’re why I wrote this song.”

Ooft!  Elsewhere he invites them to play this song in hell!  A bitter end indeed.

Burning Bridges is an unnecessary album to own.  It’s bookended by two decent songs, with the last being the only one that I would consider for a mix tape.  The “real”  new Bon Jovi album, This House is Not for Sale, comes out this spring.  Perhaps with new guitarist Phil X (formerly of Triumph) in the mix, some chemistry will finally return.

1/5 stars

 

1. “A Teardrop to the Sea”
2. “We Don’t Run”
3. “Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning”
4. “We All Fall Down”
5. “Blind Love”
6. “Who Would You Die For”
7. “Fingerprints”
8. “Life Is Beautiful”
9. “I’m Your Man”
10. “Burning Bridges”

#473: Party For Two

FLAMING TURDS

“Flaming Turds” artwork courtesy of SARCA at CAUGHT ME GAMING.  Thanks Sarca!

Welcome to the WEEK OF FLAMING TURDS!  This week we will be looking at a collection of malodorous music.  Strike a match, you’ll need it for these stinkers!  Let us begin with a story from Getting More Tale.

 

GETTING MORE TALE #473: Party For Two

I found this old diary entry. Sometimes you don’t need any commentary. So here you go!

Date: 2006/10/05
Title: GOD DAMMIT

Fuck, me. I am listening to Shania Twain.

“Party For Two” with Mark McGrath.

FUCK, ME. I am listening to Shania Twain AND Mark McGrath.

What the fuck has happened to me?

Jesus Christ. I can’t fucking believe this. I used to make fun of my buddy T-Rev who started listening to Shania Twain because his girlfriend liked them. In my case it’s not my girlfriend. She hates Shania Twain. It’s the fucking am radio at work. God damn them to hell and then may Satan skullfuck them until they bleed red scales out of the ears.

I better go put on a Testament or Anthrax CD or something. FAST.

OK fine, I’ll add some commentary.  One of the bosses at work dated Shania Twain when she was a teenager named Eilleen.  It’s true.  As far as I’m concerned, her music still stinks!