Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "Wicked World," from Black Sabbath (1970)


Now we jump back to the North American version of Sabbath’s first album to pick up “Wicked World,” a song that didn’t appear on the European version, and to be honest, it’s one of the weaker tracks on the album.

The song starts with a jumping and jiving riff from Iommi that paired with Bill Ward’s drums has an almost jazzy feel. After a brief little jam session, it drops into the main riff of the song, which is OK at first, but gets a little old as the song goes on. Ozzy’s vocal delivery is also a little flat and tired for the most part.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Saturday Night Special: Bang Tango, "Wrap My Wings"


I’m working on a couple of ideas to try to breathe a little life back into this site. I started with the Sunday Sabbath feature, and now a series I call Saturday Night Special.

If you’ve been coming to the site for a little while, you’re probably familiar with the Saturday Shuffle that I used to do. That kind of ran its course, and though it got good traffic, was a pain to put together with my work and family schedules. So instead, I’m going to try a one-song approach, where I focus on a tune that I heard at some point in the week that maybe I haven’t heard for a while or that just struck me in some different way. We’ll kick things off with my favorite song from an ‘80s band that I consider underrated.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "N.I.B." from Black Sabbath (1970)


Thumping bass solo from Geezer Butler? Check.

Mega-fucking riff from Tony Iommi? Check.

Sinister lyrics about the devil? Check.

Must be time for “N.I.B.”

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review: Metallica, "Hardwired"

So, I’ve given this new track from Metallica almost 24 hours and quite a few listens to settle before I sat down to write this – because my initial reaction to the song was not good at all, and I didn’t want to go with a knee-jerk. I wanted to try to give it a fair hearing and a chance to grow on me. A day later, my reaction is better, but still a little “meh.”

To be honest, there have been times in Metallica’s career that I would have rejoiced to hear a song like “Hardwired.” Had it arrived in 1998, I would have been jumping up and down and celebrating. Since the 1990s meltdown of the band, though, fans have seen a new evolution. Beginning with the rough and raw St. Anger in 2003 (more thoughts on that to come in my Metal Meltdowns series) to a really good outing in 2008’s Death Magnetic, despite its aural challenges.

What I hoped for was a continued evolution on that path. Eight years later, I hoped that they had honed and perfected that sound. I’d hoped that if St. Anger was the Kill ‘Em All of this version of the band, then the new album would be the Master of Puppets. Yes, I realize that expectation was way, way too high, but given the quality of music that other classic thrash bands are putting out there this year, I didn’t think it was beyond the realm of possibility.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "Behind the Wall of Sleep," from Black Sabbath (1970)


So here’s where things start to get a little sticky with this series, depending on which version of the album you have. The original European version has the third track as “Behind the Wall of Sleep.” The North American version that I grew up with jams this song and “N.I.B.” together as “Wasp/Behind the Wall of Sleep/Bassically/N.I.B.” I’m going with the European (at least for the next two tracks), because it makes way more sense.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "The Wizard," from Black Sabbath (1970)


If you’ve spent any time over at my book blog, you’ll know that I’m a complete fantasy geek, so it should come as no surprise that “The Wizard” is one of my favorite Sabbath tunes.

While the eponymous “Black Sabbath” announced the arrival of a new genre, “The Wizard” opens with a wistful harmonica that speaks to the band's blues roots. Of course, as Tony Iommi’s big, brooding guitar riffs come into play, the tone changes from wistful to angry. The combination of the guitar and harmonica riffs, though, are simply infectious, and when they combine there’s a certain sense of joy among the heaviness.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Review: Steven Tyler, "We're All Somebody from Somewhere"

I said that I wasn’t going to even listen to this album after hearing the first couple of songs, but I’m such an Aerosmith fanboy that I unfortunately just couldn’t resist. The band provides the soundtrack to some of my best memories and no matter how bad their stuff gets or how far off the reservation frontman Steven Tyler goes, I’ll always hold out hope.

That said, We’re All Somebody From Somewhere is exactly as bad as I thought it was going to be. About the best that can be said of the pop country tunes here is that they’re bad latter-day Aerosmith ballads with some traditional country instrumentation.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sunday Sabbath: "Black Sabbath," from Black Sabbath (1970)


Welcome to the start of a new series taking a track-by-track look at the masters of heavy metal, Black Sabbath.

It’s only fitting that the series start with the eponymous track off their eponymous debut album, which for me, is the genesis of the genre of music that I dearly love.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Metal Meltdowns: Quiet Riot, "QR III"

In 1983, Quiet Riot’s Metal Health announced the arrival of metal as a viable commercial music form when the title track and their cover of Slade’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” both made waves in the Top 40. The band, however, was unable to capitalize on that success. Their next album, 1984’s party-hardy Condition Critical failed to make the same impact, despite the band throwing in another Slade cover “Mama, Weer All Crazy Now.”

By 1986, Quiet Riot’s fortunes were definitely on the wane. Bassist Rudy Sarzo had left, to be replaced by Chuck Wright (Giuffria, Ted Nugent, House of Lords), and for QR III the band took a far more pop-oriented approach to the music than the previous two records.

Let’s start with the good, and that’s the lead single “The Wild and the Young.” On an album of sub-par material, this tune shines. It’s a fantastic hard-rock anthem with one of those hooks that burrows into your head and gets stuck there. Sure, it’s a bit more polished than their previous work, but it’s still instantly recognizable as Quiet Riot, and I would argue that it’s one of their best songs.