Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Review: Gamma Ray, "Land of the Free II"

It’s a tried and true formula. You’ve put out a couple of records that were slightly different in style and perhaps not as good as earlier records, a few fans grumbled. You want to make it clear you’re returning to your old style, so you name your new record after one that's widely considered by fans to be your best album and add a number to it. It’s also a pet peeve of mine because it’s an obvious ploy that will get people’s attention and the records never live up to the one they’re named after.

The same can be said of “Land of the Free II,” however, the gap here is much smaller than between, say, Queensryche’s “Operation: Mindcrime” records. Gamma Ray does indeed return to the happier, faster brand of power metal that they made their name playing, and while it probably won’t equal the first in most people’s minds, it’s not a bad record by any means.

The announcement that the band is going back to basics is made with the quick blast of the opening track, “Into the Storm,” which features the Gamma Ray trademark big melodies and hooks. Second track, “From the Ashes,” finds them in a galloping bit of Iron Maiden worship, which works really, really well right up to the chorus, which takes a left turn into generic power metal. Maiden is a recurring heavy influence throughout the album, as they have been throughout Gamma Ray's career, popping up again on songs like "When the World."

Fans of Gamma Ray’s classic sound should be most pleased with “To Mother Earth” and “When the World” which have all the speed, blazing riffs and soaring chorus vocals you expect from the band. As for me, I prefer the slightly heavier and darker tunes like “Rain.” That said, one of the strongest tunes here is also one of the bounciest and happiest, “Empress.” The song has an infectious, upbeat opening and a great chorus melody. Surprisingly, the epic number here, “Insurrection,” is solid, too. I always groan a little when I see a power metal song clocking in at 11-plus minutes because they tend to drone on. But with this tune, Gamma Ray makes it interesting.

Though overall perhaps a bit more restrained and toned down than the first installment of “Land of the Free,” this record is that rare album with a number behind it that really does signal a return to better times. Vocalist Kai Hansen still has the great pipes, and he and Henjo Richter deliver great riffs that range from memorable traditional metal to fast, precision power metal.

Fans of Gamma Ray should not be disappointed.

Get "Land of the Free II."

Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: Rob Rock, "Garden of Chaos"

I remember being very impressed with Rob Rock’s last solo record, "Holy Hell." The Roy Z-produced effort captured the same vibe as Bruce Dickinson’s solo works without, of course, sounding like a Dickinson knock off. There’s still a bit of that sound on "Garden of Chaos," but I’m finding it much harder to get into this record.

The album seems to be a concept record of sorts, beginning in the Garden of Eden with the title track and following through modern days (though not all of the songs seem to play into the religion theme.) The record opens with the title track, which, while enjoyable, sounds just a little too generic to me. I’ve heard it all before. The second track, “Satan’s Playground,” is a step up. It’s one of the strongest here, playing like a "No Rest for the Wicked"-era Ozzy tune with Queensryche-style vocals. Joining it on the short list of memorable tunes here are “Spirit in the Sky,” which features some nice riffing and one of the more memorable melodies on the record and “This Time is the Last Time,” which despite being a very 1980s-ish song, is not a bad one. Also, “Metal Breed” displays a nice blending of the Maiden and Priest sounds, which are perfect for the “metal rules” subject matter, but like all such songs, the lyrics are pretty hokey.

Then there are a few songs that are memorable for the wrong reasons. The requisite ballad “Unconditional” is the weakest link on the record, and the attempt at an epic, “Ode to Alexander,” also falls flat. A couple of the songs – “Millennial Reign” and “Ride the Wind” – remind me of Stryper, though I will give “Ride the Wind” points for its opening riff.

The biggest problem for me with this record, is that there is so little about it that’s memorable – for good or bad reasons. Songs like the title track, “Savior’s Call,” “Only a Matter of Time” all kind of blend together. There’s nothing I can really say is bad about this record. The guitar work is solid, and Rock’s soaring vocals are great. While it’s in my CD player, I enjoy it well enough. When I take it out, though, there’s nothing that keeps playing over and over in my head.

Devoted fans of Rock’s previous work and those looking for a quick trip back to the 1980s style of melodic metal will probably find much to like here. Others may just want to take a quick stroll through this "Garden" and move on.

Get "Garden of Chaos."

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Review: Shooter Jennings, "The Wolf"

You have to like a guy like Shooter Jennings. Based solely on his name, he could probably be a country hitmaker if he'd play by Nasvhille's rules, but instead he chooses to do his own thing, avoiding the generic, over-produced crap you hear on country radio these days.

On his first two records, "Put the O Back in Country" and "Electric Rodeo," Jennings mixed his dad's brand of outlaw country with his own rock 'n' roll background for an interesting mix of songs that ranged from about as traditional as country gets to hard rock numbers. He brings the same formula to this record, but for some reason it doesn't work quite as well.

For one thing, the songs here seem much safer. There's not much edge either lyrically or musically to most of the songs, and too often it sounds like he's trying to recreate Waylon's sound, particularly on numbers like "Old Friend" and "Concrete Cowboys."

He does offer up some rocking moments. The opener "This Ol' Wheel" finds him rapping over a fiddle line in a Kid Rock-like piece. The funky "Higher" is the closest he comes to his previous two records here and another bright spot for the fans of his more rocking side. But there's not a song here that will connect like the dark and grooving "Bad Magick" from "Electric Rodeo" or the Southern rocker "Steady at the Wheel" from "Put the O Back in Country."

There's also a bit too much borrowing on some of the songs -- from his dad as well as others. For example, on "Tangled Up Roses," I just can't get past the fact that I want to sing The Who's "Baba O'Riley" when those big notes hit on the chorus.

That's not to say that there aren't good songs here. There are some really strong straight country songs like the low-down "Last Time I Let You Down," the double entendre of "Time Management 101" and the record's soulful title track. He also turns in an excellent cover of Dire Straits' "Walk of Life," and one of the strongest tracks on the album, "Slow Train," features a guest appearance by, of all people, The Oak Ridge Boys. Their tight harmony on the chorus really makes the song.

In the end, "The Wolf" is a solid offering for Jennings, though it doesn't come close to his previous two records. It seems designed to appeal more to the country side of his fan base or perhaps to open himself up to a wider country audience (something he's tried to avoid in the past). I, for one, miss the rowdier rock side of his music, and I hope he brings it back on the next record.

Get "The Wolf."

Friday, January 11, 2008

Review: Helloween, "Gambling with the Devil"

It’s always nice to be surprised. I’ve only followed Helloween’s career sporadically since the 1980s, and have never really found anything in their catalog that impressed me as much as the first two "Keeper" records. I didn’t expect to find it here, but they had me from the first true song on the record.

As with most intros, you can skip “Crack the Riddle,” but you can’t ignore “Kill It,” a snarling beast of a song that’s possibly one of the meanest and heaviest tunes Helloween has ever recorded. It hooks you with the soaring power metal bridge, then pummels you with the pounding chorus. Andi Deris’ vocals are probably at their best on this tune, and on the record as a whole. He moves through sounds that range from classic power metal to 1970s progressive to the aggressive “Kill it, kill it, kill it” screams on the chorus, to an almost black metal rasp coming out of the interlude. Unfortunately, no other song on the record quite lives up to “Kill It,” and for the next few songs, you’ll miss that aggression.

“The Saints” starts out well, but somewhere along the way morphs into that same power metal tune you’ve heard four billion times before. “As Long as I Fall” just reeks a little too much of 1980s power pop. But hang in there, because there’s some good stuff coming a little later, mainly in the form of a three-song cycle mid-record that serves as a mini-concept album.

It opens with the prog-power assault of “The Bells of the 7 Hells” which has the most irressistible hook to be found on the record. It’s a match for any soaring power metal tune in the band’s history. The second song, “Fallen to Pieces,” is softer with a slightly more mainstream bent, but it’s still a strong piece. With its electronic undertones, it really sounds like what they were going for and didn’t quite get on “As Long as I Fall.” The trilogy closes with one of the best guitar riffs on the record from Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner in the sliding main riff of “I.M.E.”

The final three songs on the record are hit and miss. “Can Do It” offers a really strange mix of showtune and 1980s power pop that just doesn’t quite work. “Dreambound” delivers a solid power/traditional metal number that while, not as engaging as “Kill It” or “The Bells of the 7 Hells,” is still entertaining, and “Heaven Tells No Lies” offers up an enjoyable shot at an epic, storytelling tune.

In the end, "Gambling With the Devil" doesn’t quite live up to the promise that “Kill It” makes, and on some of the tracks, I’m left wishing for that more aggressive sound. But it’s still a solid effort and the best record that Helloween has done in a long time. If you’ve liked Helloween in the past, but not lately, definitely give this one a shot.

Hear a sample of "Kill It."

Hear a sample of "The Bells of the 7 Hells."

Get "Gambling with the Devil."

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Review: Rise to Addiction, "A New Shade of Black for the Soul"

The Mausoleum debut of U.K. band Rise to Addiction, produced by Andy Sneap, has all the hallmarks of a band on the edge of great success. It has guitar riffs that are heavy enough to get the attention of metalheads and hooks that are big enough to stick in the head of mainstream rock fans. It’s a combustible combination that could find them on a radio station near you soon.

The opening of "A New Shade of Black" for the Soul suggests that this is going to be a catchy, mainstream brand of metal. The memorable “Cold Season,” which opens the record, would certainly be on the heavier end of the radio spectrum, but not at all out of place there. The following song, “Moth to a Flame,” cranks down the amps a little with an even more mainstream friendly chorus. Then, the band starts to offer up a little more meat for the metal fans.

The bouncing riff of “Falling as One,” and particularly the vocal delivery of Leigh Oates, reminds me a bit of the Anacrusis tune “Release.” The song has some progressive overtones on the chorus and some nice energetic riffing. Other songs on the record put me in mind of a cross between "Cuatro" or "Drift"-era Flotsam and Jetsam and "Badmotorfinger"-era Soundgarden, and that’s not a bad combination at all as far as I’m concerned. “One Sweet Minute” in particular opens with a plodding bass line and a vocal delivery that’s reminiscent of Soundgarden’s better work. “This Ride,” on the other hand, would have fit right in on either of the aforementioned F&J records, but brings in some of the Soundgarden sound on the chorus. The progressive sounds come out even more toward the end of the record with the laid-back bluesy jam of “Fessonia” and album closer “The Hive.”

Oates’ vocals are incredibly solid throughout the record, the guitar work of John Slater and Steve Wray is solid and bass player Joel Graham’s licks are dark and ever-present, but the real strength of A New Shade of Black for the Soul is in the songwriting. Nearly every song on the record is memorable in some way, whether it be the Zakk Wylde influenced riffing of the opening “Everlasting Wave” or the undeniable chorus hook of “To a God Unknown.” The band offers up great grooves, memorable choruses and an appeal that cuts across a variety of different genres from progressive to thrash to mainstream rock.

If you’re a fan of catchy, melodic metal with solid riffs, great vocals and big hooks, this is a release worthy of your attention. Go get it, ASAP.

Get "A New Shade of Black for the Soul."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Random rant: The old guy wants back in

So my morning was spoiled by the information that Matt Barlow is back in Iced Earth and Tim Owens is out. I know I'm a few weeks behind on this, but I've been out of the loop due to the holidays. Apparently Barlow decided that he wanted to do some music projects again, and Jon Schaffer, apparently tired of hearing from a certain segment of fans who preferred Barlow, jumped on the chance to get him back.

Which brings me to the point -- sometimes the old guy isn't always better. In this case, I like Barlow and he made some great records with Iced Earth, but Owens owns him vocally. The last two records have had the best vocals of any Iced Earth effort and the remake of the "Something Wicked" trilogy smoked the original.

It's always been a pet peeve of mine when a band has someone better than an old member, then cans them because the old member wants to come back. Anthrax, I believe, ruined the best thing they ever had by reuniting with a guy they already knew was a flake -- Joey Belladonna -- and alienating their best singer, Jon Bush. At the time, they'd just put out one of the best records of their career, "We've Come for You All," an album that rivaled their best output of the pervious lineup, "Among the Living." I've talked with Al Pitrelli several times and have a great respect and appreciation for him, but I still think it was shitty, after he left to join Megadeth, that Savatage canned Jack Frost and rehired him when that incarnation of Megadeth ended. In that case, the band's been dormant since it happened, but it still isn't right.

In this case, Barlow will continue to pursue his law enforcement career (the reason he left Iced Earth to begin with), which Schaffer tells us will make Iced Earth's activities more limited. Great. We lose a great singer to get the old guy back, which also means the band will be touring less and fewer fans will be able to see them live and probably also means less studio output as well. There's a real win-win situation for fans, huh?

I wish I had heard the news prior to releasing my top 10 list for 2007, as it would have likely pushed "Framing Armageddon" a little farther down the list. It's landing at No. 3 was largely due to my anticipation of the second half and what the work as a whole would sound like. That anticipation has been seriously dampened by this turn of events, and I'd probably put the record no higher than 6 or 7 at this point. A two-part story with a different singer on each part? Or maybe Schaffer will re-record "Framing Armageddon" with Barlow, as he's wont to do. That would be a way to offer another delay for the second half, wouldn't it?

I know this shouldn't piss me off this much, but I love this band, and I really love the way they've sounded with Owens. I'm sure Barlow will do just fine like he did before, but I think the next record will suffer for it, at least in my opinion. No matter how good it is, I won't be able to help but think what it might have sounded like.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Best of '07: 1. Down, "Over the Under"

I'll admit it took me a little longer to come around to New Orleans supergroup Down's latest record than it did for their first two. Initially, I missed those big hooks from their second record (the ones that some fans thought were a little too commercial.) Then, there was the mix on this record, which at times is as muddy as the bottom of the southern Louisiana bayous the music crawled out of. After a week or so of listening, though, I couldn't help but like it.

At its best "Over the Under" delivers exactly what fans have come to expect since the band's 1995 debut "NOLA" - a very organic record that's part stoner rock, part doom and heavy as hell. The sound here is equal parts Southern-fried groove, ominous Black Sabbath slab riffs and psychedelic Jimi Hendrix fuzz. Blues influence crops up throughout the record in the grooves and lead guitar licks, and you'll even hear a touch of country twang on the song "Never Try" - where Phil Anselmo paraphrases Yoda in the lyrics with his "Never try, never try/ you either do it or don't waste your time."

The heart of this record, as with the first two Down offerings, are the monster riffs and head-bobbing grooves of guitarists Pepper Keenan and Kirk Windstein layered over the solid rhythm section of Rex Brown and Jimmy Bower. Anselmo brings a world-weary, often agonized delivery that reflects the darkness of much of the subject matter. His lyrics are very personal on this record, if on occasion a bit incoherent - take, for example, the line "Partake no tangible out in tomorrow" from "On March the Saints." Huh?

Despite the occasional head-scratcher line, though, the album delivers lyrically perhaps a little more than the previous two records. There's a more real and gritty feeling to Anselmo's approach to the lyrics, and truth rings through, particularly on the song"Mourn," which seems to address his feelings at being blocked from former bandmate "Dimebag" Darrell Abbot's funeral due to a feud with the guitarist and his brother Vinnie Paul. "Hotel room of doom/ I can't find a clue/ confusion, broken hearted woe/ sheets and pillows soaked/ telephone seems broken/ I'm calling crucified/ blacklisted, no reply..."

It's also a record that tracks both the misery and resilience of the city of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Most notably "On March the Saints" and "Beneath the Tides," two of the stronger offerings on the record.

There are misses here and there on the record. The "Planet Caravan"-sounding "His Majesty the Desert," which serves as more of an intro to "Pillamyd" than an actual song just doesn't quite capture the same atmosphere of the Sabbath classic, despite some spacey guitar work. And "Pillamyd" itself, despite being the fastest track on the record, sounds kind of out of place among the other work here. Still, the bouncing, undeniable grooves of songs like "The Path" and "N.O.D." more than make up for the few misses.

Despite my initial misgivings, after a few weeks of listens, I can say Over the Under easily ranks as one of, if not the best record of the year, and it also ranks as Down's most honest and frank offering to date. Perhaps with the upheaval and challenges of the band's previous years in the past, we'll start to see more frequent offerings from the band. I, for one, would welcome it.

Hear a clip of "On March the Saints."

Hear a clip of "Mourn."

Read my review of Down "II."

Get "Over the Under."

Second opinion: It was really a toss-up between this record and the new Soilwork for the top of my list. Both are great, and both have been alternating in my CD player basically since they came out. In the end, the Southern-fried grooves, loyalty to my home state and "On March the Saints" won out.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Best of '07: 2. Soilwork, "Sworn to a Great Divide"

Soilwork’s last two albums, “Figure Number Five” and “Stabbing the Drama,” haven’t been big hits with a lot of fans. I’ll admit off the top that I enjoyed both records and both made my end of year lists when they were released. That said, this record blows both of them away.

“Sworn to a Great Divide” sounds like the record that Soilwork has been working toward since introducing some of the more melodic elements on “Predator’s Portrait.” Here, they offer up a nice balance of the two. The heavy parts are as heavy as they should be, notably the tune “The Pittsburgh Syndrome,” which recalls some of their pre-“Predator” efforts. The melodic bits and clean-sung choruses are some of the best and most memorable they’ve ever recorded.

As with all Soilwork releases, the musicianship here is great, and vocalist Bjorn “Speed” Strid really gets to stretch himself and show his versatility. From the screams and snarls of “The Pittsburgh Syndrome,” the title track and “Silent Bullet” to the undeniably catchy clean choruses of songs like “20 More Miles.”

While it still sounds like Soilwork, it’s more melodic territory than the band has ever tread before. The traces of their melodic death past are there, but there are songs here with no trace of that as well, like the bonus track “Martyr,” which brings in more progressive and traditional metal elements, with a great verse delivery from Strid.

And that’s the real power of this record – the memorable moments, and they’re not always those chorus hooks. There’s the opening verse of “Breeding Thorns” where the music cuts out to the background and Strid packs all the necessary brutality into the screamed first line, “You have not seen the last of me/ I’m breeding thorns.” There are the memorable opening riffs of “Exile” and “Your Beloved Scapegoat.” Perhaps my favorite moment, though is the aforementioned chorus of “20 More Miles,” which I haven’t been able to get out of my head since the first time I heard it.

To be honest, I don’t think Soilwork has ever made a remotely bad record, but with its perfect balance of heaviness and melody, “Sworn to a Great Divide” has to rank among their best.

Get "Sworn to a Great Divide."

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Best of '07: 3. Iced Earth, "Framing Armageddon"

Albums with expectations are always interesting, and this one has plenty. First, fans have been waiting for it since 1998 when the original trilogy of songs appeared on "Something Wicked This Way Comes," regarded by many as the band’s best record. The expectations were boosted over the summer when the band released the first single “Ten Thousand Strong,” packaged with a stripped down, heavier re-recording of the original trilogy. So does this project meet expectations? I’m going to reserve judgment on that for the time being.

I’ll admit that my initial reaction to "Framing Armageddon" was a slight disappointment. It doesn’t have those big stand-alone songs that a record like "Something Wicked This Way Comes" or "The Glorious Burden" had. Sure, “Ten Thousand Strong,” “Order of the Rose” and some of the other songs can stand on their own, but this record is a different kind of beast. It took a few listens through for me to come around. This isn’t a record that can be carved into bite-sized pieces for mass consumption. It’s one that, to really appreciate, you have to listen to from beginning to end. Even the weaker moments on the record, like “Infiltrate and Assimilate,” add to the work as a whole.

"Framing Armageddon" is a rock opera in the truest sense of the phrase, meaning not only that it tells a musical story, but also that the sound of the work is, well, operatic. Many of the vocal harmonies and melodies on the song choruses owe more to musical theater than to Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. It’s particularly true on songs like “When Stars Collide (Born is He)” and “A Charge to Keep,” with their choir-like choruses. The album covers a lot of ground from tribal percussion to plodding hard rock riffs to the 1970s-style organ on “The Domino Decree.”

Though there are moments that don’t sound like Iced Earth, the basic feel of the band is there in the galloping riffing of songs like “Ten Thousand Strong.” As with most things that Jon Schaffer does, there’s a great attention to detail and a show of respect for fans that have followed them. There are some nice Egyptian/middle eastern themes that run throughout the record, and fans will pick up on quite a few links to the past. Most appropriate are the melodic elements that recall songs from "Something Wicked," particularly in the instrumental “Cataclysm.”

I continue to be impressed by the way that Tim Owens’ voice meshes with the music, and as much as I like the older records, I really think this is what the band was always meant to sound like. Here, Owens gets to stretch his vocals and be a little more expressive, from angry snarls to soaring, exultant high notes. Though the Halford-like screams are still there, on this record he finally manages to break away from his image as a clone of the legendary singer he replaced in Judas Priest and emerge as a dynamic vocalist in his own right.

In these days of disposable single-song downloads, it’s always refreshing when a band releases a record that demands to be taken as a whole. "Framing Armageddon" certainly does that. If you take the pieces apart, you lose the thread that makes the whole a great album. It’s easily one of the best releases of the year. So why am I reserving judgment? Because I haven’t heard the work as a whole yet. I look forward to hearing the second half, so that I can experience the story as it was meant to be heard.

Second opinion: This record was a mild disappointment in that I expected it to be my favorite record of the year and to blow everything else released this year away. Obviously, it did neither of those things, but it's still a solid record. I'm anxious to get the second half in hand so I can hear the work as a whole.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Best of '07: 4. Lillian Axe, "Waters Rising"

I grew up in Lillian Axe's Louisiana stomping grounds, checking them out regularly at local clubs once I was old enough to get in (and, truth be told, a few times before). So, even though it's been a lot of years since they've released a new record, and even more since they've really been relevant, I still have a soft spot for the band. They were always great live, and still are. I last saw them about four years ago, and there was just as much energy in the room when they launched into the opening riff of "Misery Loves Company" as there was when I was an 18-year-old in the front row in 1990.

I've waited a while on this record. When I interviewed guitarist Steve Blaze in 2003, they were working on it. Later that week, when I saw them live, they played two impressive songs from it, "Waters Rising" and "Become a Monster." I expected to have the new record in hand by the end of the year. Instead, it took four, but for the Lillian Axe fans that are left, it will be worth the wait.

Though the title track has been written since at least 2003, it's a little more meaningful these days in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, as many people in their backyard know what its like to see their lives "slip right through the cracks as I watch it wash away." It makes what was probably already the strongest number on the album from a musical standpoint even more poignant.

In truth, not much has changed with Lillian Axe over the years. The songs are a bit darker, a bit more serious here than songs like "Misery" or "My Number" from their first couple of albums. This one falls somewhere between the sound of Love and War and the heavier, more progressive Psychoschizophrenia, arguably the band's strongest effort. While you can still look for the catchy hooks like the aggressive chorus of "Waters Rising" and the bouncing "Become a Monster," there are also more numbers here like "Antarctica" that go for an epic, story-telling feel.

The biggest change that fans will note is the absence of long-time vocalist Ron Taylor. Taking over the vocal duties on this record is newcomer Derrick LeFevre, who admittedly sounds more than a little like Taylor, but fans who have been with the band since the early days will still likely miss the voice of Lillian Axe. That said, LeFevre does an admirable job on this record, and I have no doubt that he can do justice to the older material live. The focus, of course, has always been on the fretwork of Blaze, and that's as good here as its ever been, as evidenced on the instrumental closer "5" which finds him plying those trademark lightning licks.

As on Psychoschizophrenia, Blaze and co. attempt to stretch their boundaries without breaking from the sound that fans know and love. You'll find little flourishes like the almost reggae-ish opening of "Quarantine" and the cello sounds that begin "Fields of Yesterday." The very dark turns on this record, including "The 2nd of May" and "Deep in the Black," will rank among the band's best work. "The 2nd of May" features a mocking, fairy-tale like lilt in the melody that still manages to be sinister, and "Deep in the Black" is probably the grittiest tune the band has ever done, very brooding but with some nice classical undertones in the heavier parts.

There are of course, a few ballads here, which are hit and miss. "I Have to Die, Goodbye," doesn't quite reach the sense of hopelessness it should, but "Fields of Yesterday" has some interesting melodic elements that raise it above the average ballad. Semi-ballads like "Until the End of the World" are very reminiscent of numbers like "World Stopped Turning" from the band's early years and may take you back a bit.

In all, fans of the band should be pleased with this new, more grown-up version of Lillian Axe. While I don't mind waiting for a quality record like this one, here's hoping we don't have to wait another eight years for a new studio album.

Get "Waters Rising."
Second opinion: This is a great comeback record from a favorite of my misspent youth. Some of the songs that I didn't care for the first time through, like "I Have to Die, Goodbye," have grown on me the more I listen to it. Great record.