While bands like Twisted Sister and Whitesnake are celebrating the 25th anniversary of some of their hit releases this year, they aren’t the only bands with big anniversaries in 2009. Believe it or not, it has already been 20 years since the release of White Lion’s Big Game. “Big Game” turned the big 2-0 this month.
The songs on “Big Game” hardly need any introduction at all if you are classic hard rock fan. “Little Fighter”, “Cry for Freedom”, “Radar Love” and “Goin’ Home Tonight” have all been released as singles, and have been staples in White Lion’s live sets for years.
White Lion’s cover of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love” has probably gotten more radio air play than the rest of the songs on this disc since its release. While I still prefer the original song, I thought this was a pretty good cover.
Mike Tramp’s vocals on “Big Game” are very good, and Vito Bratta’s guitar work is absolutely incredible. Every time I listen to “Big Game” it makes me wish Bratta would rejoin White Lion, or another band and start playing live again. He is such a talented guitarist, it is a crying shame that we can’t hear him play these songs.
Although some may disagree, I thought there was at least one or two low points on “Big Game”. I didn’t care for the ballad, “Broken Home”. It just didn’t work for me. I tend to skip past this song. I am also not fond of “If My Mind Is Evil”. Bratta’s playing on this tune makes it listenable for me.
Even with a couple of clunkers, there are a bunch of really good songs on “Big Game”. “Dirty Woman” and “Let’s Get Crazy” could have easily been singles. Both of these are really fun tunes. “Baby Be Mine” is quite infectious as well.
Even though this album didn’t top the charts, it is still my second most favorite release from White Lion. (“Fight to Survive” is still my favorite). “Big Game” rocks harder than “Pride”, but not quite as hard as their debut. It is worth picking up, especially if you haven’t checked out White Lion before.
Rating: Out of 10
1. Goin’ Home Tonight
2. Dirty Woman
3. Little Fighter
4. Broken Home
5. Baby Be Mine
6. Living On The Edge
7. Let’s Get Crazy
8. Don’t Say It’s Over
9. If My Mind Is Evil
10. Radar Love
11. Cry For Freedom
White Lion is:
Mike Tramp – Vocals
Vito Bratta – Lead Guitar
James Lomenzo – Bass
Greg D’Angelo – Drums
In my opinion, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are the Yin and Yang of Aerosmith. The band can not succeed without both members. Joe Perry is one of the best rock guitarists of all time, and Steven Tyler is one of the best singers to grace hard rock music.
With that being said, the early eighties was a dark period for Aerosmith, and the band forged ahead without Joe Perry or Brad Whitford (although Whitford did play on “Lighting Strikes”). The rhythm section of Aerosmith was securely in tact for this album, as Joey Kramer and Tom Hamilton were still in the band. “Rock In A Hard Place” still has quite a bit of that Aerosmith groove, but this disc is far from the band’s best effort.
When it comes right down to it, the great thing about Aerosmith is their vast collection of great hard rock songs. When I dusted this disc off to give it another chance, I hoped to find a couple of classic Aerosmith tunes on this disc. After two or three plays, none of these song stick with me very much. It isn’t that they are band, they just aren’t very memorable. The best cuts are “Jailbait”, “Lightning Strikes”, and the title track “Rock and In A Hard Place (Cheshire Cat)”. While I like the music, even the best tunes don’t live up to Aerosmith’s past works.
“Rock In A Hard Place” isn’t the worst Aerosmith album, but in my opinion it is just an o.k. disc, and one for the Aerosmith diehard fans only.
2. Lightning Strikes
3. Bitch’s Brew
4. Bolivian Ragamuffin
5. Cry Me A River
6. Prelude To Joanie
7. Joanie’s Butterfly
8. Rock In A Hard Place
9. Jig Is Up
10. Push Comes To Shove
Steven Tyler – Vocals
Jimmy Crespo – Lead Guitar
Tom Hamilton – Bass
Joey Kramer – Drums
Rick Dufay – Guitar
Brad Whitford – Rhythm Guitar on Lightning Strikes
Paul Harris – Piano – Push Comes to Shove
John Turi – Sax – Rock In A Hard Place
Richard Struab – Violins on Joanie’s Butterfly
John Lievano – Guitar O.D. on Joanie’s Butterfly
Jack Douglas – Percussion
I started off the new year wanting to hear some Twisted Sister. After playing “Stay Hungry” for the umpteen millionth time, I broke out my reissued copy of Twisted Sister’s “Love is For Suckers” from 1987.
I remember this album getting a lot of bad reviews when it first came out, and I can understand why some Twisted Sister fans hated this disc. “Love is For Suckers” was supposed to be released as a Dee Snider solo album. Atlantic suggested this be out under the Twisted Sister moniker and as they say, the rest is history.
“Love is For Suckers” was not supposed to sound like a Twisted Sister album, and for the most part it doesn’t. This is more of a pop metal album, than the hard rock and metal sounds of previous Twisted Sister albums.
The first track “Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)” is the heaviest song on this disc, and the most Twisted Sister like. For the rest of the album, producer Beau Hill managed to make Twisted Sister sound like Winger with Dee Snider on vocals. With no surprise, Reb Beach does play guitar on this album, and Kip Winger sings back up vocals. The songs aren’t bad, but most of them just aren’t very memorable.
The best cuts on Love is For Suckers are “Wake Up” and “Me And The Boys”. The reissued copy of this CD has four bonus tracks: “Feel Appeal”, “Statutory Date”, “If That’s What You Want” and “I Will Win”. If you don’t have this CD, this is the version to pick up. The song “Statutory Date” is probably the best song out of the four bonus tracks. If you listen close enough, you can hear Kix frontman Steve Whiteman singing back up vocals on this song.
As a whole, I didn’t care for this poppy version of Twisted Sister. The band was best when playing their heavier edged material, and although I am a fan of hair/pop metal, this disc didn’t cut it for me. “Love is For Suckers” is a disc for hair metal fans and Twisted Sister completests only.
1. Wake Up (The Sleeping Giant)
2. Hot Love
3. Love Is For Suckers
4. I’m So Hot For You
6. Me And The Boys
7. One Bad Habit
8. I Want This Night (To Last Forever)
9. You Are All That I Need
10. Yeah Right!
13.If That’s What You Want*
14.I Will Win*
Twisted Sister is:
Dee Snider – lead vocals
Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda – lead guitar
Jay Jay French – rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Mark “The Animal” Mendoza – bass, backing vocals
A. J. Pero – drums, percussion
Reb Beach – guitars
Kip Winger – backing vocals
Jimmy Chalfant – backing vocals
Steve Whiteman – backing vocals
Beau Hill – keyboards, backing vocals
The New West Horns – horns
2008 marks the 30th anniversary of the Paul Stanley solo CD (God, that makes me feel old). Ok, if you want to get technical, Paul’s first solo CD didn’t come out until 1997, but the album was out in 1978.
For whatever reason, all four of the KISS solo discs (Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley, Peter Criss, and Paul Stanley) all have KISS on the cover, but it isn’t KISS performing on the discs at all, rather than one member of the band. I guess the KISS name, sells better than their individual names. Anyway, it is hard to listen to this CD, and not compare the songs to KISS, especially with Paul Stanley being the voice of KISS. There are some songs on this record that could have easily been leftover KISS tunes. There are also some songs here that feel like a departure away from the rocking tunes that made KISS famous.
The tunes that are almost KISS like are “Tonight You Belong To Me“, “Move On“, “It’s Alright“, “Love In Chains” ,and “Goodbye“. With no surprise, these are my favorites on this disc. I have always like Stanley’s vocals, and his voices soars on the majority of the tunes. Bob Kulick (older brother of former KISS guitarist, Bruce Kulick) provides some tasty guitar licks on this album.
This album had a minor hit with the ballad, “Hold Me, Touch Me“. It might be my personal taste, but this song sounds dated in 2008, and does not hold up well. This sticky sweet tune sounds like it has more in common with the Doobie Brothers than KISS. I am sure this was a tune used to get couples slow dancing in the local discotheques back in the late 70’s.
To Paul Stanley’s credit, he wrote the majority of the material on this album, with a little bit of help from Mikel Japp. The song writing is pretty good on this record. In my opinion, this release, and the Ace Frehley solo disc, are the best out of the four KISS solo releases from ’78.
If you are a KISS fan, chances are you probably own this. If you don’t, you ought to pick this up.
1. Tonight You Belong To Me
2. Move On
3. Ain’t Quite Right
4. Wouldn’t You Like To Know Me?
5. Take Me Away (Together As One)
6. It’s Alright
7. Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart)
8. Love In Chains
Musicians on this CD are:
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Background Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, E-bows, all guitars on “Hold Me, Touch Me”
Bob Kulick – Lead Guitar, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar
Richie Fontanta – Drums (“Move On”, Wouldn’t You Like to Know Me”, “Ain’t Quite Right”, “Tonight You Belong To Me”)
Craig Krampf – Drums (“It’s Alright”, “Hold Me,Touch Me”, “Love In Chains”, Goodbye”
Carmine Appice – Drums (“Take Me Away”)
Steve Buslowe – Bass Guitar
Eric Nelson – Bass Guitar
Doug (Gling) Katsaros – Piano
Steve Lacey – Electric Guitar
Pepe Castro, Maaria Vidal, Diana Grasselli, Miriam Naomi Valle – Background Vocals
Back in the day when MTV used to play music videos, one video and song that would not get out of my head was “Balls To The Wall” by Accept. This song and video was a staple on the Headbanger’s Ball on MTV, and was a favorite of mine.
I finally got around to replacing my cassette tape with the remastered CD of Accept’s 1984 metal classic, “Balls To the Wall”. The remastered version was released in 2001and as a bonus, a couple of extra live cuts that were recorded in Japan in 1985 were added to the CD.
“Balls To The Wall” may be the song that everyone knows on this disc, but it isn’t the only good song on this CD by any means.
“London Leatherboys” may not be an instant classic, and does sound a little dated in 2008, but I still like it. “Fight It Back” is the type of stadium anthem that will have you throwing your fists in the air, and banging your head instantly.
“Head Over Heels” has a distinct hair metal sound to it, but is pretty good. I think the live version on this disc is even better than the original. I love the guitar solos on this song.
“Losing More Than You’ve Ever Had” is a mid tempo rocker that sounds like it could have been on a Motley Crue album. The 80’s metal influence on Accept is pretty obvious on this song. Listen to the bass rhythm on this song. It is very Nikki Sixx like. As a whole it is a very cool tune.
“Love Child” is another fist pumping, head banger with more excellent guitar work by Frank and Hoffmann.
“Turn Me On” reminds me a lot of mid 80’s Judas Priest. This is a really cool rocking tune that should have gotten more airplay.
Udo Dirkschneider’s vocals are so abrasive on the anthem, “Losers and Winners” it almost sounds like he is going to shred his vocals chords. (Some may say this is how he always sounds.) Either way it works. This is a killer tune.
“Balls To The Wall” is another enjoyable album by Accept. It is their most successful album to date, but I don’t think it is their absolute best. The more I listen to “Balls to the Wall”, the more I think that the over all sound on this record falls somewhere between the Scorpions and Judas Priest. The song writing might be a little suspect on this disc, but Udo’s distinct vocals push it over the top. Most metal heads will like it, and ought to pick it up.
1. Balls To The Wall
2. London Leatherboys
3. Fight It Back
4. Head Over Heels
5. Losing More Than You’ve Ever Had
6. Love Child
7. Turn Me On
8. Losers and Winners
9. Guardian Of The Night
11. Head Over Heels (Live)
12. Love Child (Live)
Udo Dirkschneider – Vocals
Herman Frank – Guitars
Wolf Hoffmann – Guitars
Peter Baltes – Bass
Stefan Kaufmann – Drums
It is hard for me to think of Bruce Dickinson as that other guy, as big as Iron Maiden has become, but The Number of the Beast is the first album to feature ex-Samson front man, Bruce Dickinson as the lead singer of Iron Maiden.
The first couple of albums with Paul Di’Anno were good, but Bruce’s powerful voice elevated Iron Maiden’s sound into the stratosphere. The galloping style of guitar playing by Dave Murray and Adrian Smith was unlike anything other bands were doing at the time.
Not every song on the The Number of the Beast is an instant classic, but the three songs on this album that every hard rock fan should have in their play list are The Number of the Beast, Run To the Hills, and Hallowed Be Thy Name.
For this listener, this album is one that requires a few plays before you can gain a full appreciation for it. The musicianship on this record is amazing, but some of the songs take some time to grow on you. This isn’t my favorite Iron Maiden album, but it is a superb release, and most certainly a must own record for all metal fans.
For Iron Maiden, The Number of the Beast is a ground breaking disc, and one of the better albums to come out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. This is an absolute classic!
Rating:Out of 10
2. Children of the Damned
4. 22 Acacia Avenue
5. Number of the Beast
6. Run to the Hills
8. Total Eclipse
9. Hallowed Be Thy Name
Iron Maiden is:
Bruce Dickinson – Lead vocals
Dave Murray – Guitar
Adrian Smith – Guitar
Steve Harris – bass, keyboards, backing vocals
Clive Burr – drums, percussion
If you are a KISS fan of any kind, this CD needs no introduction, you probably own this on multiple formats. For those of you that don’t, keep reading!
KISS Alive may be the most successful live hard rock disc of all time. This Album has sold over 4 million copies since its initial release. Rolling Stone Magazine has this disc listed as one of their Top 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.
While I don’t agree with all of Rolling Stone’s choices, this is one that is a worthy selection.
Is KISS the greatest band of all time? Probably not. Is this the best live CD of all time? It is pretty damn close if it isn’t. The sound quality of this disc, is amazing, especially since it was recorded in ’75. I can listen to this 80 minute set repeatedly without getting bored.
This is truly a once in a lifetime live set, and I think the live energy of the KISS live performance is captured very well here.
If you are a hard rock fan, you owe it to yourself to pick up this excellent 2 disc set!
Rating: Out of 10
1. Watchin’ You
2. 100,000 Years
3. Black Diamond
4. Rock Bottom
5. Cold Gin
6. Rock And Roll All Nite
7. Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll
Holy Diver is the debut by DIO, which features Vivian Campbell on Guitar, Black Sabbath band mate, Vinny Appice on drums and Jimmy Bain on bass.
To this listener, Holy Diver will always be a timeless metal classic. Ronnie James Dio’s ultra powerful vocals alone, make this a disc for all metalheads to check out. Vivian Campbell’s playing on this record is nothing short of superb. His playing on Holy Diver is far beyond anything he has done with his current employer, Def Leppard.
Vinny Appice has always been a great metal drummer, and his heavy drum beats on this record are nothing short of perfect!
The songs Holy Diver and Rainbow in the Dark, are still two of the biggest rock anthems that Ronnie James Dio has ever sung.
Some other favorite cuts of mine off of this disc, are Stand Up and Shout and Don’t Talk to Strangers.
Ronnie James Dio has been, and forever will be one of my favorite metal singers. I have followed his career since the Elf days, and Holy Diver is still one of my favorite records by Ronnie and company.
If you don’t own this record….what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on this Classic Metal record!
Rating:Out of 10
1. Stand Up and Shout
2. Holy Diver
4. Caught in the Middle
5. Don’t Talk to Strangers
6. Straight Through the Heart
8. Rainbow in the Dark
9. Shame on the Night
I think it is safe to say that this is one of the biggest debut discs by any hard rock band, and is certainly one of the most influential records of all time.
As far as debut’s go, Van Halen has only been outsold by Guns N’ Roses‘, Appetite for Destruction. A Diamond Level in sales (10 Million Copies sold) is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing on this record, changed the face of rock music. Countless guitarists tried to replicate his style of playing over the years, and he continues to influence young guitarists today.
The dynamic front man, David Lee Roth was nothing like anyone else at the scene at the time, and he too has had plenty of imitators over the years.
This record is one that you can listen to from beginning to end. It rocks all the way through. Several of the cuts have been over played on rock radio. Four Singles were released from this record, Running With the Devil, (The Kinks‘ cover) You Really got Me, Ain’t Talkin’ Bout Love, and Jamie’s Cryin.
One of my all time favorite Van Halen tunes, is the John Brim cover, Ice Cream Man.
In 2003, Rolling Stone picked this record as one of the greatest rock records of all time. I may not accede with all of their picks, but this is one that I would certainly agree with.
If you don’t own this record, Do NOT pass go, do not collect $200.00. Get you tail to your local record store and pick this up.
Rating: Out of 10
1. Runnin’ With The Devil
3. You Really Got Me
4. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
5. I’m The One
6. Jamie’s Cryin’
7. Atomic Punk
8. Feel Your Love Tonight
9. Little Dreamer
10. Ice Cream Man
11. On Fire
On Through the Night is the mighty metal debut by Def Leppard. It blows my mind that so many newer Def Leppard fans are unaware of the band’s NWOBHM roots, and the excellent metal sound they used to possess. This record rocks hard, and does not sound overly dated in 2007.
On Through the Night is my favorite Def Leppard record. I will pick this one every time over Pyromania and Hysteria. On this record, the band was hungry, they had not achieved the massive success that they would years later. The songs have not been over played on the radio as have so many of the later discs. This is one of the reasons I still find this album so appealing.
Sadly, this record often goes overlooked today. Most fans start off of with Pyromania or Hysteria, and they are missing out on some great records by doing so.
The two axe attack of Pete Willis and Steve Clark, and the pre-accident drumming of Rick Allen gives this band an awesome heavy sound.
Rock Brigade and Hello America deliver the best one, two punch that any Def Leppard records could hope to deliver. Both are hard rocking tunes that truly deliver.
It Could Be You is a song that never achieve hit potential but it is a lost Def Leppard classic, that is still worth checking out.
To me, Wasted is still one of the biggest Def Leppard anthems of all time.
I find a lot of the other not so well songs such as When The Walls Came Tumbling Down, Rocks Off, and It Don’t Matter ultimately satisfying. The songs are more raw, and not overproduced as a lot of the stuff from the newer Def Lep releases.
On Through the Night is another classic metal disc that is available for less than $10.00 at most retailers today. It is much better than a lot of the newer stuff out there today, and is a disc that I still recommend picking up! If you don’t own this, you owe it to yourself to check out this lost Def Leppard classic!
1. Rock Brigade
2. Hello America
3. Sorrow Is A Woman
4. It Could Be You
6. When The Walls Came Tumbling Down
8. Rocks Off
9. It Don’t Matter
10. Answer To The Master
Before the Scorpions were Rocking You Like A Hurricane, they released this gem of a disc, back in 1982. Interestingly enough, Klaus Meine was undergoing surgery on his vocal chords at the time this album was written, and the original tracks were recorded with Don Dokken on vocals. Klaus Meine was able to recooperate in time to record the vocals for this disc, and the Dokken tapes never surfaced.
This Scorpions’ release has been one of my favorites for years. This disc hit # 10 on the Billboard chart, and spawned some of the Scorps’ biggest anthems, Blackout, Can’t Live Without You, No One Like You, and You Give Me All I Need. Blackout is also the Scorpions first platinum disc in the United States (over 1 million units sold).
Even the weaker tracks on this disc are solid. There are a few other great rockers worth mentioning, including the killer track, Dynamite, the excellent upbeat tune Arizona, and the moody rocker China White.
I can’t imagine a fan of 80’s hard rock picking this disc up and being disappointed. This is definitely one of the best Scorpions discs out there, and you can get this one for less than $10.00 today. Blackout is a disc still worth picking up in 2007. Don’t miss out on this classic disc!
Rating: Out of 10
2. Can’t Live Without You
3. No One Like You
4. You Give Me All I Need
8. China White
9. When The Smoke Is Going Down