Sunday, August 6, 2017

Accept- The Rise of Chaos album review

 Accept - The Rise of Chaos
Accept
The Rise of Chaos
Rating: *** 1/2

When Accept reunited with former TT Quick lead singer Mark Tornillo in 2009, many fans didn’t think it would work. Without original singer Udo Dirkscheider, it seemed as if this reunion was pointless.  Accept made those people eat those words in 2010 with the release of Blood of the Nations, the band’s first album with Tornillo. Much to the surprise of many people, Blood of the Nations was a great album and Tornillo was accepted as the band’s lead singer. The band were able to follow this up with 2012’s Stalingrad and 2014’s Blind Rage- both of which received fairly positive reviews as well. The band’s latest album, The Rise of Chaos, is their fourth album with Tornillo. As much as it pains me to say this, The Rise of Chaos is just okay. Don’t get me wrong: the music on here is another brutal onslaught heavy tunes delivered by the German metal band.  Still, it feels like it’s missing something that the three previous albums had. While the weakest of the four Tornillo albums, The Rise of Chaos still manages to have some decent tunes.

While not up to par with the previous openers, “Die by the Sword” is still a decent tune: it has a killer guitar riff and the lyrics are relevant to today- as they question what has become of humanity.  The title track continues the apocalyptic theme (with the focus now on survival) while the hard hitting “No Regrets” features some impressive drumming from Christopher Williams. As far as the weaker songs go, there are two in particular that stick out. The first of them is “Koolaid,” a song that (sadly) isn’t about the flavored drink mix but instead a biographical song about Jim Jones and the 1978 Jonestown massacre. While the story fits with the album’s theme, it’s hard to take seriously when you hear the chorus of “Don’t drink the Koolaid.”  The second clunker is “Analog Man,” an anthem for the generation who can’t buy into today’s technology. The lyrics are extremely cringe-worthy, with Tornillo sings such lyrics as “My cell phone is smart than me” and “Don’t need no Wi-Fi/Just want my Hi-Fi.” The last few songs, however, balance the album out. “Worlds Colliding” is pleasantly melodic while “Carry the Weight” just might be my favorite song from the album lyrically. “Don’t carry the weight of world on your shoulders” warns Tornillo, as he sings about the world as it stands today- with mentions of global warming, bombings and earthquakes.

Overall, The Rise of Chaos is a very average album from Accept. If this review is too short for any reason, it’s because I don’t think there’s anything here to review. It isn’t a bad album but then again, it isn’t a classic. It’s just another album from Accept and that’s all. It’s worth at a listen at least. Personally, I don’t see myself coming back to this album all that much. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Alice Cooper- Paranormal album review

 Alice Cooper - Paranormal
Alice Cooper
Paranormal
Rating: *** 1/2


This review was originally posted on Pop Culture Beast on July 30th, 2017. 

It’s been a while since Alice Cooper has released no frills, non-conceptual hard rock album. Alice’s last two projects, 2015’s Hollywood Vampires and 2011’s Welcome 2 My Nightmare, were both albums with a concept or a theme- with the former being an all star covers album and the latter being a sequel to Alice’s 1975 solo debut. Alice’s latest album, Paranormal, sees the shock rock icon going back to basics. While it isn’t a perfect album, Paranormal still features some kick ass rock music.

            There are twelve new studio tracks on Paranormal. Some of the songs on here are infused with 1970s classic rock. This can be found on songs such as the organ-heavy “Fireball” and the glam rock hooks of “Private Public Breakdown.” The album’s lead single, “Paranoiac Personality,” is also worth noting- as it’s a sinister sounding rock tune with a killer plodding bass line. While Alice is known for writing some down-right scary tunes, the man’s sense of humor must also be acknowledged. Over the years, Alice has written some funny songs. The bluesy “Fallen in Love” can now be added to that list, as Alice exclaims “I’ve fallen in love and I can’t get up!”

            Paranormal isn’t without its weaknesses. While long-time producer Bob Ezrin was at the helm for this album, the production here isn’t the best- which is to be expected with modern day audio mastering. There’s also this religious overtone/theme on a few songs, some of which I think are the weakest tracks on here. This includes the Southern rock influenced “Dynamite Road” and the jazzy “Holy Water.” Still, the album closes out nicely with three new songs featuring the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band. The band shows off their chops on the guitar heavy rocker “Rats” and the anthem-driven “You And All of Your Friends.” Strangely enough, my favorite of these songs is the R&B/doo-wop inspired “Genuine American Girl.” Not only is it my favorite of the songs featuring the original band but it’s also my favorite song on the album. This is yet another funny song from Alice, as he describes himself in all of his feminine glory. “I’m only 30 out of 50 shades of grey” sings Alice. “What do you say?”

            For what it is, Paranormal is a decent album. It might not be one of his most consistent albums but you have to give Alice credit for trying to go back to basics. The album also comes with six live bonus tracks recorded last year in Columbus, Ohio. Speaking of touring, Alice will be on the road in support of the album. Alice has also stated that he will begin work next year on an all originals second album with the Hollywood Vampires super group.  For time being, fans can listen to Paranormal.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Alice Cooper's "Welcome to My Nightmare" DVD set for release in September

Alice Cooper's 1976 concert film Welcome to My Nightmare will be re-released on DVD on September 8. Not only will this new DVD release feature the movie but it will also feature the 1975 ABC TV Special Alice Cooper: The Nightmare- which is seeing its debut release on DVD. 

Released in 1975 after the split of the original Alice Cooper band, Welcome to My Nightmare served as Alice's first album as a solo artist. The album, produced by Bob Ezrin, revolves around the concept of the nightmares of a boy named Steven- a character that would later go on to appear on some of Alice's other albums. The album was a hit when released in 1975, featuring classics such as the title track, "The Black Widow" and "Only Women Bleed." The success of the album lead to the 1975 TV special and the 1976 concert film. 

Alice Cooper: The Nightmare first aired on April 25, 1975 on ABC. The special plays out as a visual representation of the album, as Alice goes from one musical number to another. Legendary actor Vincent Price is also in the special, as he was also featured as a guest on the album- giving the narration leading into "The Black Widow." The special was last released in 1983 on VHS and Betamax. Prior to the upcoming DVD release, the special had been widely bootlegged amongst fans. 

The 1976 concert film was shot during Alice's tour in support of the album- with the shows coming from performances at the Wembley Arena on September 11-12, 1975. The movie was a failure at the box office but found a second life as a midnight movie years later. Unlike The Nightmare, the concert film was released on DVD back in 2002 but that release has since then gone out of print. 

The tracking lists for both releases are as follows: 

Welcome to My Nightmare (1976 concert film)
1. The Awakening
2. Welcome to My Nightmare
3. Years Ago
4. No More Mr. Nice Guy
5. I'm Eighteen
6. Some Folks
7. Cold Ethyl 
8. Only Women Bleed
9. Billion Dollar Babies
10. Devil's Food
11. The Black Widow
12. Steven
13. Escape 
14. School's Out
15. Department of Youth

Run time: 84 minutes

Alice Cooper: The Nightmare (1975 TV special)
1. Welcome to My Nightmare
2. Devil's Food
3. Some Folks
4. Only Women Bleed
5. Cold Ethyl
6. The Black Widow
7. Years Ago
8. Department of Youth 
9. Years Ago (Reprise)
10. Steven
11. The Awakening
12. Ballad of Dwight Fry
13. Escape
14. The Awakening (Reprise)

Run time: 66 minutes

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Anita Pallenberg dead at 73

Anita Pallenberg
January 25, 1944 - June 13, 2017


Italian-German actress/model Anita Pallenberg, former partner to Brian Jones and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, died today. At this moment in time, the cause of death is unknown. Pallenberg was 73.  

Born in Rome in 1944, Pallenberg started her career as a model at 16 after being expelled from school. During this time, she lived in Rome, Germany and New York. It was during her time in New York City at she was seen with the people from Andy Warhol's Factory. In her life, Pallenberg appeared in some dozen films. Her best known movies including the 1968 Roger Vadim sci-fi flick Barbarella and the 1970  Donald Cammell-Nicols Roeg mind-bending crime drama Performance. The former starred Jane Fonda while the latter was Mick Jagger's acting debut. Over the years, both of these movies became cult favorites.    

In the music world, Pallenberg is perhaps best known for her association with the Rolling Stones. She first met the band in 1965 when they were touring in Munich while Pallenberg was on a modelling assignment. Around that time, Pallenberg started a relationship with guitarist Brian Jones. The couple were together until 1967 when Jones was said to have been violent towards Pallenberg while on vacation in Morocco. Soon after her split with Jones, Pallenberg started a relationship with guitarist Keith Richards. From 1967 to 1979, Richards and Pallenberg were together. Though they never married, Pallenberg gave birth to three of Richards' children: Marlon (born 1969), Dandelion Angela (born 1972, who goes by her middle name) and Tara Jo Jo Gunne- who died ten weeks after his birth. Tara's death is said to have been from either SIDS or pneumonia. Even after their split, Richards and Pallenberg were still close. Richards would later marry model Patti Hansen, who he has been married to since 1983.

After her relationship with Richards ended, Pallenberg struggled with drug and alcohol addiction. She stopped drinking in 1987 (with the exception of a relapse in 2004 after a second hip surgery) and was able to stay sober from drugs around 2000.  Prior to her death, Pallenberg was suffering from Hepatitis C. Despite her health struggles, Pallenberg was able to appear a few more movies in the late 2000s. 

Pallenberg is survived by two children (Marlon and Angela) and five grandchildren. 

It's sad to hear of Ms. Pallenberg's death. Performance is one of my favorite movies, which she's fairly good in. I can't say I've seen any of her other movies but it's just sad to hear that someone in the Stones camp has died. 

Rest in peace, Anita. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Beatles- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 2 CD Anniversary Edition review

 The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
The Beatles
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band 2 CD Anniversary Edition
Original album rating: *****
Remix rating: a low ****
Sessions disc rating: ****


It might be hard to believe but it has been 50 years since the Beatles released their iconic 1967 masterpiece, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. With an album this historically significant, this anniversary is one that’s worth celebrating. To celebrate, a massive reissue of the 1967 album has been released on a wide variety of formats. Of the many variations out there, the 2 CD version is probably the one to get- not only for its price but for its content.

            The first disc is a new remix of the album completed by Giles Martin, son of the late George Martin. The last time the Beatles album were reissued and remastered was in 2009- which was a pretty big deal as the albums hadn’t been touched since 1987 when they were first released on CD. Instead, Giles Martin has presented us with a remix of the album- which can be best described as a cross between the stereo and mono mixes of the album. Most Beatles fans will probably know that back in the day, the Beatles and George Martin put more effort and work into the mono mixes of their albums- given that mono records were still the norm at that point. This changed for the bands last two albums- Abbey Road and Let It Be- which were both mixed in stereo. Before then, the stereo mixes were done by other people. Today, those stereo mixes are still the ones that are sold in stores as the main albums. With that, a lot of listeners are missing out on what the music sounds like in mono.

            On a first listen, the remix just sounds okay. I’ve noticed that the vocals are more upfront in this remix- kind of like what was done with Let It Be with Let It Be…Naked in 2003. However, this isn’t necessarily a stripped down version of Sgt. Pepper as you can still clearly hear the instruments. There’s more emphasis put on the bass and drums on almost every song too. The one song that sounds drastically different from the 2009 remaster is “She’s Leaving Home,” which takes after the mono version and is played at a faster speed. When comparing the remix with the 2009 remaster in Audacity, the remix is much louder- but not too loud. Switching back and forth to the two tracks, it sounded as if the audio had been transferred to 3D when listening to the remix. So on a second listen; I can say I enjoyed the remix a little more. I’ve been able to pick up on little things here and there that I never noticed before on the album, which is cool. While it wasn’t necessary, the remix is still nice to have.

            The second disc consists entirely of outtakes from the album’s sessions. Of the two discs, I find myself liking the second disc more: it has an outtake for each of the 13 songs and they are sequenced in the same order as the original album. Whereas the remix sounds slightly different, this is a really cool alternate version of Sgt. Pepper in outtake form. A few outtakes from the Pepper sessions have been released before on the Anthology 2 set. For this second disc, a good portion of it has not been officially released before. This alternate version of Sgt. Pepper reminds me of what Rhino Records did with the T. Rex albums a couple of years ago, in that they’d give you the original album on the first disc and an alternate version on the second disc. With an album like Sgt. Pepper, I’ve listened to the original album oh so many times. So this second disc is more fun for me, personally. The second disc also comes with new mixes for “Strawberry Field Forever” and “Penny Lane,” which are also accompanied by an outtake or two each.


            If you’re a long time Beatles fan and can’t decide on which version of this reissue to get, I’d say go for this two disc version: you get a little bit of everything. As per usual with these big reissues, there is a bigger set available for diehard fans. The super deluxe edition of Sgt. Pepper comes with six discs- four CDs, a DVD and a Blu-Ray- along with a 144 page picture book and reprints of posters. This sells for a little over $100. I typically don’t buy box sets devoted to just one album so the two disc version does it for me. You don’t get the DVD or Blu-Ray but you do get the remix and a disc of sessions, along with a colorful booklet full of insightful liner notes- all for a little under $20. No matter what version you choose to purchase, a splendid time is guaranteed for all.   

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell dead at 52

Chris Cornell 
(born Christopher John Boyle)
July 20, 1964 - May 17, 2017


Singer/songwriter Chris Cornell, lead singer for Soundgarden and Audioslave, died last night in Detroit, Michigan. According to his representative, Cornell died after performing a concert with Soundgarden. At this time, the cause of death is unknown. Cornell was 52. 

Cornell was born in Seattle, Washington. One of six children in his family, Cornell became interested in music after listening to the Beatles for a period of two years. Struggling with anxiety, rock music was an escape for Cornell. After dropping out of high school, Cornell took a few odd jobs before deciding to become a musician. Prior to forming Soundgarden, Cornell had been in the Shemps. It was in the Shemps that Cornell met bassist Hiro Yamamonto and guitarist Kim Thayil. In 1984, the trio had formed Soundgarden- although it wasn't until 1988 when the band released their debut album Ultramega OK. The band were at their peak when the line-up of Cornell, Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron came together around 1990 after Shepherd joined. This line-up would release two best-selling albums, Badmotorfinger in 1992 and Superunknown in 1994. Along with Nirvana and Alice in Chains, Soundgarden became one of the many successful grunge rock bands to come out of Seattle. Some of the band's best known songs include "Rusty Cage," "Outshined," "Spoonman" and "Black Hole Sun."  

Soundgarden broke up in 1997 but Cornell would quickly resurfaced in the supergroup Audioslave with Rage Against the Machine members Tom Morello, Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk.  From 2002 to 2006, the band would release three albums. In 2006, Cornell scored a solo hit single with "You Know My Name"- the theme tune to the 2006 James Bond movie Casino Royale. Cornell reunited with Soundgarden in 2010, which resulted in the band releasing a new studio album King Animal in 2012.  

In his life, Cornell was married twice. His first wife was Soundgarden manager Susan Silver. With Silver, Cornell had a daughter- Lillian (born 2000). The couple divorced in 2004. Cornell's second wife (and now widow) was publicist Vicky Karayiannis. With her, Cornell had another two children- Toni (born 2004) and Christopher (born 2005). 

It's a bummer to wake up and learn of Mr. Cornell's death. He was a great singer and he was fairly young. This is a surprise. Still, the guy left behind a whole catalog of music during his time here. 

RIP, Mr. Cornell.

Update (2:52 EDT): Wayne County Medical in Michigan have released a statement to the press- officially ruling Chris Cornell's death as a suicide-by-hanging. A full autopsy, however, has not been completed yet.

More details on Cornell's death have been revealed, with sources ranging from the Detroit Free Press to police statements. After his performance with Soundgarden Wednesday night, Cornell was checked in at the MGM Grand Casino in downtown Detroit. Sometime at midnight, a friend of Cornell's family had discovered Cornell his hotel bathroom. A 911 call was received over at the Detroit Police Department on soon after on Thursday morning, according to director Michael Woody. By the time units arrived, the officers were greeted by the family friend, after which the officers entered the hotel room and saw Cornell laying in the bathroom. Cornell was unresponsive and pronounced dead. It has been also been reported that when Cornell was discovered, he was found with a band around his neck. Other reports have said that at the end of Soundgarden's concert, Cornell sang part of "In My Time of Dying," a song best known by Led Zeppelin from their 1975 album Physical Graffiti. Cornell had inserted the song into the last song the band performed- "Slaves and Bulldozers."  

  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Metallica Electrifies Philadelphia- Concert Review (May 12, 2017)

Metallica
Live in Philadelphia at the Lincoln Financial Field
May 12, 2017
(picture here taken in 2008, via this link

After a long eight years, Metallica returned to Philadelphia on May 12, 2017 for a concert at the Lincoln Financial Field. The iconic metal band are currently on tour in support of their latest album, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct. With a nearly full arena, Metallica gave their fans a concert full of classics, new tracks and pyrotechnics.

            Metallica are currently touring with Volbeat and Avenged Sevenfold. However, Avenged Sevenfold did not play last night- as the band opted out since member Synyster Gates had to take a plane home as his wife had gone into labor earlier than expected. With this, Volbeat were the only opening act. Personally, I didn’t see too much of their set. Unlike most concerts, I was lucky enough to have the VIP experience- the Whiplash experience to be exact. Along with getting free things such as a shirt and poster, there were impressive mini-museums devoted to the band’s history and their 2013 concert film Through the Never. I mostly checked out the history exhibit- the Memory Remains. Most of the exhibit was contained in these stage equipment-looking display pieces, all of them with pullout drawers- which would have items inside of them behind glass. Each drawer was labeled and devoted to something different. Some of the items in these drawers included pictures, set lists, old school flyers, backstage passes, touring itineraries and items from each of the members’ personal collections. There were also standard display cases, showing more pictures and even a few gold and platinum records. It’s really impressive that the band have been able to preserve their history over the years.

            A little after 9 pm, the lights went down and the audience went crazy. Even on a drizzly, chilly spring evening, Metallica fans were ready for a two hour onslaught of heavy metal music. After a video intro taken from The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, the screens lit up with images of the artwork for Hardwired. The band hit the stage and charged into the album’s title track. Right off the bat, the band were in fine form. Even though a new song, the audience was still singing along- especially with the song’s chorus: “We’re so fucked/Shit out of luck/Hardwired to self destruct!” After playing “Atlas, Rise,” frontman James Hetfield spoke to the crowd- setting the tone for the night.  

“We don’t give a shit what you’ve done in your life.” Hetfield said. “We don’t care what you’re wearing right now. We don’t care what color you are. What religion you believe in or political shit. We don’t need any of that shit. You are here tonight as the Metallica family, alright? All are welcome. We’re all here to celebrate live music and life. Are you with us?!”

             The audience heartily replied in the form of cheers and shouts. With that out of the way, the band continued the concert- firing on all cylinders. The set list for the show consisted of fan favorites from the first five Metallica albums- along with some songs from the aforementioned Hardwired. In total, the band played five songs from the album. With the new songs, the band presented them with full force and aggression. During “Now That We’re Dead,” four over-sized hand drums were wheeled out- which each of the band members proceeded to pound on in unison. For “Moth into Flame,” the pyrotechnics came out- including a flame that slithered back n forth from the middle of the main stage.

“We’re gonna make sure this microphone is working” Hetfield said jokingly prior to playing the song, in reference to the band’s technical difficulty-riddled performance of the song with singer Lady Gaga at the Grammy’s earlier this year.

            While the new songs were nice to hear, the fans went wild when the classics were played. The band played five songs from their 1991 self titled album (aka The Black Album), which was a huge success when released back in the day. Some fans felt the band had sold out when The Black Album came out, as the band were making radio friendly music. Judging by the reactions from the audience that night, I think it’s safe to say that this crowd treasures those songs. Fans were singing along to the melodic “The Unforgiven” while gentlemen cuddled with their sweethearts during “Nothing Else Matters.” Audience participation came in the form of “For Whom The Bell Tolls,” “Master of Puppets” and “Creeping Death” while songs such as “Motorbreath” and “Seek and Destroy” had some fans moshing.

On the big screens during each song, there were some wonderful visuals to go with each of them. For the newer songs, footage from the music videos were used. For their first three albums, Metallica didn’t make music videos. For these songs, they were presented with animated sequences- all of which were impressive. For the army-themed “One,” fireworks and explosions went off- recreating the atmosphere from the studio track. Guitarist Kirk Hammet and bassist Robert Trujillo each got to shine with their solos. Surprisingly, Trujillo started playing “Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth)”- the bass solo played by Metallica’s beloved bassist- the late Cliff Burton- on the band’s debut Kill ‘Em All. As Trujillo played, the big screen showed archival video footage of Burton- which got a huge reaction from the fans, some even shouting “Cliff!” I thought this was a beautiful tribute to their late friend and it’s touching to see the band still paying tribute to him now three decades after his untimely death.

The band performed three songs for the encore: “Battery,” “Nothing Else Matters” and ending it with what might be the band’s most popular song- “Enter Sandman.” As the band wrapped up “Enter Sandman,” a series of fireworks and explosions went off to close out the concert for good. After Hetfield spoke to the crowd, each of the members got the chance to speak. Drummer Lars Ulrich probably best summed up what most people were probably thinking.

“Eight long years. Am I the only one here who thinks that maybe Metallica should show up in Philadelphia a little more than eight fucking years?!” Ulrich asked to a huge reaction of approval from the audience. “Metallica loves you Philly. We will see you very soon!”

            Even more than 30 years into their career, Metallica still knows how to put on a damn good show. If Metallica comes to a town near you, go and see them when you can.

            If you’re reading this and you have seen Metallica during this tour, go and check out their website www.livemetallica.com. There, you can go and purchase an audio recording of the concert you attended on various digital formats or on CD.  

Set list
1.      Hardwired
2.      Atlas, Rise
3.      For Whom the Bell Tolls
4.      Creeping Death
5.      The Unforgiven
6.      Now That We’re Dead
7.      Moth into Flame
8.      Wherever I May Roam
9.      Halo on Fire
10.  Kirk and Robert solos (“I Disappear” and “Anesthesia” included)
11.  Motorbreath
12.  Sad but True
13.  One
14.  Master of Puppets
15.  Fade to Black
16.  Seek and Destroy

Encore
17.  Battery
18.  Nothing Else Matters
19.  Enter Sandman


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Alice Cooper to release "Paranormal" in July

Shock rocker Alice Cooper has announced that will be released a new studio album later this year. The album, Paranormal, will be Cooper's  27th studio album released (with his first seven albums being by the original band). Paranormal will be the first Alice Cooper album since 2011's Welcome 2 My Nightmare and his first album since the 2015 covers project with the Hollywood Vampires- a band Cooper formed with Aerosmith's Joe Perry and actor Johnny Depp.

Paranormal is already boasting quite the roster when it comes to special guests. In an interview with radio show host Eddie Trunk, Cooper revealed that ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons and U2 drummer Larry Mullen Jr will appear on the album. Along with this, the surviving members of the original Alice Cooper band (Dennis Dunaway, Michael Bruce and Neal Smith) have written and played on three of the album's tracks. Cooper has also announce he plans to tour in support of the album this year. Cooper is even planning another Hollywood Vampires album with all original material- which they will start recording in 2018 as Johnny Depp is busy making five movies this year.

I'm excited to hear another album from Alice. However, I must've misread something last year: I was under the impression that he was recording a new album with the Alice Cooper band. I guess the person who wrote the article must've misunderstood something. Despite this, I'm still pumped.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper to be reissued for its 50th



After weeks and weeks of speculation, it's official: the Beatles' 1967 masterpiece Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band will be reissued in various forms- in celebration of the iconic album's 50th anniversary. Rumors had spread about there being a re-release of the album earlier this year, with reports claiming that the new reissue will add the singles "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" to the album. A video of the reissue campaign was leaked early yesterday but the content on the set has now been revealed.

The album will be released in these various formats...

-a standard one disc edition with the original album remastered.

-a deluxe two disc edition, featuring the original album remaster and a bonus disc of unreleased session recordings for the album.

-a super deluxe edition with six discs- 4 CDs, 1 DVD and 1 Blu-ray disc. This has everything the deluxe edition has along with another disc of session recordings and the mono mix. The DVD and Blu-ray will feature a new 5.1 surround sound audio mix of the album completed by Giles Martin (son of the late Sir George Martin), along with "Strawberry Field Forever" and "Penny Lane." Also included on the DVD and Blu-ray are promotional videos and an unreleased documentary. The set also comes with a 144 page book and several poster reproductions.

Digital and vinyl LP versions of the standard and deluxe editions will be released as well.

The Sgt. Pepper reissues are set for release on May 26.


The content featured on is as follows- with notes on which tracks were officially released before

Disc One (the original album, remastered)
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help from My Friends
3. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing a Hole
6. She's Leaving Home
7. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I'm Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning, Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life

Disc Two (sessions/outtakes)
1. Strawberry Fields Forever- Take 1 (originally on Anthology 2)
2. Strawberry Fields Forever- Take 4
3. Strawberry Fields Forever- Take 7 (originally on Anthology 2, though with an edit piece)
4. Strawberry Fields Forever- Take 26
5. Strawberry Fields Forever- Stereo/Giles Martin Mix
6. When I'm Sixty-Four- Take 2
7. Penny Lane- Take 6
8. Penny Lane- Vocal Overdubs and Speech
9. Penny Lane- Stereo/Giles Martin Mix
10. A Day In The Life- Take 1 (originally on Anthology 2)
11. A Day In The Life- Take 2 (originally on Anthology 2)
12. A Day In The Life- Orchestra Overdub (originally on Anthology 2)
13. A Day In The Life- Hummed Last Chord
14. A Day In The Life- The Last Chord
15. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band- Take 1
16. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band- Take 9
17. Good Morning, Good Morning- Take 1
18. Good Morning, Good Morning- Take 8 (originally on Anthology 2)

Disc Three (sessions/outtakes)
1. Fixing a Hole- Take 1
2. Fixing a Hole- Speech and Take 3
3. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!- Speech + Take 1(originally on Anthology 2), Take 4 & Speech
4. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!- Take 7 (originally on Anthology 2)
5. Lovely Rita- Speech and Take 9
6. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds- Take 1 and Speech
7. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds- Speech
8. Getting Better- Take 1
9. Getting Better- Take 12
10. Within You Without You- Take 1
11. Within You Without You- George Coaching the Musicians
12. She's Leaving Home- Take 1
13. She's Leaving Home- Take 6
14. With a Little Help From My Friends- Take 1
15. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)- Speech and Take 8

Disc Four (Mono)
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help from My Friends
3. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing a Hole
6. She's Leaving Home
7. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I'm Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning, Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life
14. Strawberry Field Forever
15. Penny Lane
16. A Day In The Life- First Mono Mix
17. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds- Original Mono Mix
18. She's Leaving Home- First Mono Mix
19. Penny Lane- Capitol Records Mono Mix

Disc Five and Six (DVD and Blu-ray disc, w/ surround audio mixes and bonus videos)
1. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
2. With A Little Help from My Friends
3. Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
4. Getting Better
5. Fixing a Hole
6. She's Leaving Home
7. Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
8. Within You Without You
9. When I'm Sixty-Four
10. Lovely Rita
11. Good Morning, Good Morning
12. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
13. A Day In The Life
14. Strawberry Field Forever
15. Penny Lane
+
The Making of Sgt. Pepper- a 1992 documentary
A Day In The Life (promo video)
Strawberry Field Forever (promo video)
Penny Lane (promo video)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Steel Panther- Lower the Bar album review

 Steel Panther - Lower the Bar
Steel Panther
Lower the Bar
Rating: *** 1/2

Over the past year or so, I’ve been questioning myself as to why I like Steel Panther. There are some people that don’t like them and for valid reasons: their songs are juvenile, explicit and revolve around the same theme. How can people find this funny?  While I can see where these people are coming from, I still like the band. While they can be overly explicit, the band is doing something different: they’re a throwback to 1980s glam metal and they’re having a laugh about it. They’re just a fun band. Their latest effort, Lower the Bar, is their fourth album- following up 2014’s All You Can Eat. Compared to their last three albums, Lower the Bar isn’t as consistent. However, it still manages to be a solid album from the band.

            The album opens with the balls out rocker “Goin’ in the Backdoor.” Right off the bat, the band are in fine form- especially guitarist Satchel. It’s a really cooking tune with surprisingly solid lyrics: “Back doors never got a welcome mat” sings frontman Michael Starr. “But that never stops me cause I’m a gutter rat.” “Anything Goes,” the lead single off the album, is a pretty good tune. The song is another glam metal throwback- complete with dual lead guitar riffs. Lyrically, the song is about kinky sex- whether that involves sending a Go Pro “up your own butt hole” or banging “a hung midget in Niagara Falls.” Steel Panther continue to deliver the goods on “Poontang Boomerang” and “Wrong Side of the Tracks.” The former has a catchy chorus filled with great glam metal hooks while the latter has more impressive guitar from Satchel. The 1980s throwbacks also come in the form the melodic acoustic power ballad “That’s When You Came In.”

            The second half of the album, as much as I hate to say it, is just okay. They’re not terrible but compared to the first five tracks, these songs aren’t as strong. “Wasted Too Much Time” doesn’t offer anything new lyrically nor does “Walk of Shame.” However, the songs are pretty good musically- with the former having some nice melodic harmonies and the latter being a surprisingly bluesy tune. I do enjoy “I Got What You Want,” which is yet another glam metal throwback- complete with sensational melodic harmonies and a killer bass line from the band’s flamboyant bassist Lexxi Foxx. The album closes out with a cover of the Cheap Trick tune “She’s Tight.” While it’s not too different from the original, it’s a fun cover.


            Despite its downsides, Lower the Bar is still a decent album from Steel Panther. I’ve noticed that with this album, the songs weren’t as overly explicit as on All You Can Eat and some of the previous albums- so I’ll give credit for that. If you enjoyed the first three Steel Panther albums, you should enjoy this new batch of tunes. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Paul McCartney- Flowers in the Dirt reissue album review

 Paul McCartney - Flowers in the Dirt
Paul McCartney
Flowers in the Dirt
Rating (original album): *** 1/2 to 3.75
Bonus disc rating: ***

After a year long delay, the next entry the Paul McCartney Archive Collection has finally been released. For the tenth entry in the series, MPL have reissued McCartney’s 1989 album Flowers in the Dirt. Like the albums before it, the album has been newly remastered and features a second disc of bonus tracks.

            Released in 1989, Flowers in the Dirt was considered by many to be a little bit of a comeback for McCartney. Looking at his output in the 1980s, the critics hadn’t been easy on the former Beatle: while McCartney did release the 1982 George Martin produced Tug of War, the albums that followed it were met with mixed to negative reviews. McCartney even made a movie, Give My Regards to Broadstreet, which tanked at the box office in 1984. For what it is, Flowers in the Dirt is pretty solid album. It has a good batch of tunes that McCartney sadly doesn’t play in his shows anymore.

The album opens with the energetic “My Brave Face.” It’s a catchy pop tune and is my favorite song from the album. From there on out, the album is pretty diverse. Personally, I find myself preferring the first half of the album. For the first side, you have ballads in the form of “Distractions” and “Put It There.” The former features great vocal work from McCartney while the latter has beautiful orchestration from none other than George Martin. McCartney leaves time for guest appearances on this album. McCartney collaborated with singer Elvis Costello on this album, as Costello co-wrote four of the album’s tracks. Costello appears as the second vocalist on heartbroken slow rocker “You Want Her Too.” Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour guests on “We Got Married.” Gilmour really shines on (no pun intended) the track during the rocking second part of the song.  The second side is where I feel the album starts to decline a little. It starts off with the wonderful “Figure of Eight” and the catchy “This One” but the songs that follow it (“Don’t Be Careless Love,” “That Day is Done” and “How Many People”) are okay at best. However, the album closes with the Beach Boys-esque “Motor of Love.” While the last song on the CD version is “Ou Est Le Soleil,” “Motor of Love” sounds more like a closing songs: with the wonderful vocal harmonies and six minute running time, you get the sense of the closure.

In terms of the remastering, the powers that be have done it again. My previous copy of Flowers in the Dirt is a scratched up CD-R that I burned from a family friend’s original CD. For the few songs I was able to salvage, the main difference I can see and hear in Audicity is that it’s a lot louder- but not too loud. It doesn’t sound dramatically different but for what it is, this sounds really good.

The bonus disc for Flowers in the Dirt consists of nine demo tracks, clocking in at around 30 minutes. When it comes to bootleg albums, Flowers in the Dirt has had a number of them. The ones offered on the two-disc version are good, with a few of the songs being new to me. However, I don’t see myself wanting to come back to these demos. As always, there’s a super deluxe version of the album released with even more songs and a DVD. 

            Overall, I enjoyed this revisit of Flowers in the Dirt. It’s a good album and I think the remaster sound great. Sadly unlike the other albums in the archive collection, there is no insert on which album will be the next one released. This is disappointing as I’ve always looked forward to seeing those. Could this be the last album reissued for the archive collection? I doubt it: there are still a few albums that I think deserve a reissue- specifically Red Rose Speedway and Back to the Egg. While Flowers in the Dirt isn’t album I go back to often, I might have to come back to it a little more often now.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Quiet Riot to release Road Rage on April 21 [UPDATED: Album release postponed]

Hard rock band, Quiet Riot, will be releasing a brand new studio album. The album, Road Rage, will be the band's first album since 2014's 10. However, this will be the band's first full length studio album since 2006's Rehab- as 10 consisted of six new studio tracks with singer Jizzy Pearl and four live tracks with the late Kevin DuBrow. With Pearl leaving the band at the end of last year, this new album will feature former Adler's Appetite singer Seann Nicols. This reunited version of Quiet Riot formed in 2010, almost three years after the tragic death of original singer Kevin DuBrow. With the blessing of DuBrow's mother, drummer Frankie Banali reformed the band with the other surviving members of the band's last line up: guitarist Alex Grossi (who joined in 2004) and bassist Chuck Wright (who has been in and out of the band since 1982). The band has been through four lead singer since 2010: Mark Huff (2010-2011), Scott Vokoun (2012-2013), Jizzy Pearl (2013-2016) and now Seann Nicols. Road Rage is set to be released on April 21 on Frontiers Music Srl, with a tour to follow this summer.

The tracking list is as follows...

1. Nothing But Trouble
2. Let It Go
3. Snake Charmer
4. Hey Lil' Sister
5. I Don't Need You Anymore
6. Sledge Hammer
7. Never You Mind
8. Empty Rooms
9. Dirty Money
10. The Seeker
11. Road Rage

UPDATE (4/4/2017): Sometime towards the end of February, it was announced that Quiet Riot had hired a new lead singer in the form of James Durbin. Durbin is perhaps best known for being a finalist on the tenth season of American Idol in 2011. Durbin, who has been open about his struggles with Asperger's Syndrome and Tourette's, was a fan favorite during his season. While Durbin didn't win his season, Durbin was signed to a record label and has released a few albums since his time on Idol. According to sources, Frankie Banali was wanting Durbin to join the band for the longest time. However, Durbin was unavailable until now. After only a few months in the band, singer Seann Nicols is no long in Quiet Riot and is now the singer for Bobby Blotzer's version of Ratt.

With Durbin in the band, the release of Road Rage has been postponed so that the band can go back in the studio and re-record the songs with Durbin. Durbin has already received high praise from many people, including Dr. Terry DuBrow- younger brother of the late original QR frontman Kevin DuBrow. 


Monday, February 6, 2017

Black Star Riders- Heavy Fire album review

 Black Star Riders - Heavy Fire
Black Star Riders
Heavy Fire
Rating: ****


Hard rock band Black Star Riders are back with their third studio album. The album, Heavy Fire, is the follow up to 2015’s The Killer Instinct. The band, who are fronted by Ricky Warwick, are a spin off band of the reunited Thin Lizzy. While guitarist Scott Gorham is the only member who played in the band’s first run with the late Phil Lynott, the other members are well versed in Lizzy songs. All through last year in 2016, Warwick and Gorham toured under the Lizzy name celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Jailbreak album- as well as honoring their leader Phil Lynott 30 years after his death. With the Thin Lizzy shows completed, the focus is now on Heavy Fire. After listening to the album a couple of times, it’s safe to say this is yet another great album from Black Star Riders.

            The album kicks off with the chugging sways of the title track. The band are in fine form, firing on all cylinders by the chorus. Warwick gives an impressive vocal performance as he is able to phrase the wordy lyrics- a gift that the late Phil Lynott had. If it could be compared to another song- think of fast phrasing from Lynott in the Lizzy classic “It’s Only Money.” The album’s lead single, “When The Night Comes In,” is different from the previous lead singles. While it sounds like the traditional Lizzy song with sweet guitar harmonies, the song utilizes in female backup singers during the chorus and bridge- giving the song a soulful feel. With The Killer Instinct, the band maintained the Thin Lizzy sound but it also sounded like they were trying to make a sound for themselves. With Heavy Fire, the songs lean more towards the Lizzy sound. Examples include “Who Rides The Tiger” and “Testify or Say Goodbye.” The former is a tough hard-hitting rocker while the latter is wonderfully melodic as Gorham and Damon Johnson work that dual lead guitar sound. Many of the songs here stay true to what Lynott loved to write about such as war (“True Blue Kid”), hopeless romantics (“Dancing With the Wrong Girl”) or both (“Cold War Love”). While Warwick, Gorham and Johnson get to showcase their talents the most, bassist Robbie Crane and drummer Jimmy DeGrasso still get to shine. DeGrasso drums his heart out on “Dancing With The Wrong Girl” while Crane plays the prowling bass line on “Thinking About You Could Get Me Killed.” All five members get to shine one last time on the album’s energetic closer “Letting Go of Me.”

            Heavy Fire is simply another hard rocking album from Black Star Riders. When put against All Hell Breaks Loose and The Killer Instinct, you can’t really compare them by much: these three albums have all been consistent from beginning to end. If you’re new to the band but loved Thin Lizzy back in the day, I’d say pick up this album and their other two. If they’ve got a fourth album in them, I say bring it on.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

John Wetton dead at 67

John Kenneth Wetton
June 12, 1949  - January 31, 2017


John Wetton, bassist for King Crimson and many other bands, passed away this morning in his sleep after a long battle with colon cancer. Wetton was 67 years old. 

In his early career, Wetton was in several different bands. Some of his early bands included Mogul Thrash, Renaissance and Family. Shortly after his brief stay in Family, Wetton joined prog rockers King Crimson as their bassist and lead singer. While still successful at the time, the three albums that followed the band's iconic debut album received lukewarm responses. With Wetton, King Crimson released a trio of well received albums- Larks' Tongue In Aspic (1973), Starless and Bible Black (1974) and Red (1974). Wenton was with the band until guitarist and founding member Robert Fripp announced the split in 1974 (the band would reunite years later but Wetton didn't rejoin). 

After the split of King Crimson, Wetton joined Uriah Heep in 1975- replacing bassist Gary Thain. Wetton would record two albums with the band- Return to Fantasy (1975) and High and Mighty (1976)- before leaving in 1977.  From 1977 to 1981, Wetton was in the short-lived supergroup UK and briefly joined Wishbone Ash for their 1981 album Number the Brave. Wetton also started a solo career- his debut being 1980's Caught in the Crossfire. It wasn't until 1981 when Wetton found himself working with Yes guitarist Steve Howe, ELP drummer Carl Palmer and Buggles/Yes keyboardist Geoff Downes. This new band would become the supergroup Asia- who achieved commercial success with the release of their self-titled debut, which featured the hit single "Heat of the Moment." Asia would split in 1986 but reunited on/off over the years since 1989. In 2007, Wetton's health started to decline due to a heart condition- which Wetton attributed to his battle with alcoholism. In May 2015, Wetton underwent surgery to have a cancerous growth removed. Earlier this month, Wetton announced he would not be taking part in Asia's 2017 tour with Journey, with current Yes bassist Billy Sherwood filling in for him. 

Wetton is survived by his wife Lisa, his son Dylan, his brother Robert and his mother Peggy. 


It's sad to hear about Mr. Wetton's passing. He was an immensely talented bassist and it's amazing to look at his long list of credits. The man left us with some great music.

May he rest in peace. 




Saturday, January 28, 2017

Geoff Nicholls dead at 68

Geoffrey James Nicholls
February 28, 1948 - January 28, 2017

Former Black Sabbath keyboardist Geoff Nicholls died this morning after a long battle with lung cancer. Nicholls was 68 years old. According to Blabbermouth, Nicholls' cancer was said to be in remission but Nicholls had succumbed to the side effects of the chemotherapy. 

Nicholls joined Black Sabbath in 1979. At that point in time, the band had hired former Rainbow singer Ronnie James Dio to replace original singer Ozzy Osbourne. Nicholls' first album with the band was 1980's Heaven and Hell. Throughout his time in the band, Nicholls was often credited as an unofficial member- as he didn't appear in promotional band pictures. However by the mid 1980s, Nicholls was in pictures with the band. Whether he was an unofficial member or not, Nicholls was in Black Sabbath for many years from 1979 to 2004. Prior to joining Sabbath, Nicholls played keyboards for heavy metal band Quartz from 1974 to 1979. 

Tributes have been posted by the social media pages for the members of Black Sabbath. 

Tony Iommi: I'm so saddened to hear the loss of one of my dearest and closest friends Geoff Nicholls. He's been suffering for a while now with lung cancer and he lost his battle this morning. Geoff and I have always been very close and he has been a real true friend to me and support me all the way for nearly 40 years. I will miss him dearly and he will live in my heart until we meet again. Rest in Peace my dead friend. 

Geezer Butler: Very sad to hear of old friend and Sabbath keyboard player Geoff Nicholls' passing. RIP Geoff. 

Ozzy Osbourne: Geoff Nicholls was a great friend of mine for a long time. He will be greatly missed. I'm very saddened at the news. 

Tony Martin (Sabbath singer 1987-91 and 1993-95): Saddened to hear of the passing of Geoff Nicholls...keyboard player and friend from Sabbath...Safe journey mate. 




Sunday, January 22, 2017

Overend Watts dead at 69

Peter "Overend" Watts
May 13, 1947 - January 22, 2017

Pete "Overend" Watts, bassist and co-founding member of glam rockers Mott the Hoople, died today. According to the Mott Road Crew Live Facebook page, Watts died in his sleep after a long battle with throat cancer. Watt was 69. 

Watts was attending Ross Grammar School when he started learning to play guitar. By 1965, he started playing bass and found himself in a band called the Buddies with guitarist Mick Ralphs. The band would go through several changes before finally becoming Mott the Hoople in 1969. The band's original line-up consisted of Watts, Ralphs, singer/songwriter Ian Hunter, drummer Dale "Buffin" Griffin and keyboardist Verden Allen. Mentored by Guy Stevens, Mott the Hoople struggled early in their career. While the band had its fan base, the band couldn't nab a hit single. The band considered calling it a day in 1972 until singer David Bowie came to the rescue. Bowie told the band not to break up, offering to produce their fifth album. That album, All The Young Dudes, saved the band's career thanks in part to the album's title track- which was written by Bowie. 

With their success, Mott the Hoople went on the achieve success with hit singles such as  "All the Way from Memphis," "Roll Away the Stone" and "The Golden Age of Rock N Roll." The band stopped using the Mott the Hoople name after Hunter left in 1974. The remaining members would continue on as Mott for two albums and then as British Lions before breaking up in 1980. Watts and Griffin were the only two members from the original line-up that stuck through the band's entire run from 1969 to 1980. After the band's split, Watts continued to work in music. During the 1980s, Watts would produce albums for bands such as Hanoi Rocks. Mott the Hoople would reunite in 2009 and 2013 for a short run of shows. Watts' death comes a year after the death of Dale Griffin, who died in January 2016 after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. 

Ian Hunter posted on Facebook and social media- paying tribute to Watts, saying...

"Oh dear. My extremely eccentric, lovely mate- Peter Overend Watts- has left the building. Devastated."

RIP Overend.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

George Harrison's solo albums to be reissued on vinyl

UMe have announced that the solo albums released by former Beatle George Harrison will be reissued on vinyl on February 24th- just in time for what would've been Harrison's 74th birthday. The albums will be reissued in a lavishly packaged box set- containing 18 vinyl records. All of the albums have been newly remastered and will all be on heavyweight 180 gram vinyl. Each album will be faithful to the original releases, complete with inserts and posters.

The albums included in the box set are:

Wonderwall Music (1968)
Electronic Sound (1969)
All Things Must Pass (1970- 3 LPs)
Living in the Material World (1973)
Dark Horse (1974)
Extra Texture- Read All About It (1975)
Thirty Three and 1/3 (1976)
George Harrison (1979)
Somewhere in England (1981)
Gone Troppo (1982)
Cloud Nine (1987)
Live in Japan (1992- 2 LPs)
Brainwashed (2002)

There is also two picture discs included in the box set for the Cloud Nine singles "When We Was Fab" and "I Got My Mind Set On You."

The albums in the box set will also receive individual releases, with the exception of the All Things Must Pass reissue- which will be sold individually for a limited time.

Along with this box set, Harrison's 1980 autobiography I Me Mine will be re-released with new pages added- picking up where the 1980 book left off. Included in the new book will be lyrics to 141 songs and unpublished pictures.

You can pre-order the box set on Amazon for $466.98. Click here to pre-order it, or any of the individual albums.