Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Shooter Jennings, Marilyn Manson, Travis Tritt, Manowar, G'n'R

A couple of Jennings, a shock rocker, a hard rock classic and metal's loincloth-clad kings ...

Shooter Jennings, “This Ol’ Wheel.” From the album The Wolf (2007). The Wolf is, in my opinion, the weakest of Shooter’s records, but this rocking song was one of the highlights. Shooter delivers the verse in a rapid-fire, almost rap style, and it’s just a really catchy, fun song.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Review: Jackson Taylor and the Sinners, "Crazy Again"

For some reason, Jackson Taylor seems to fly under the radar on the underground country scene.

You don’t hear as much about him, but he’s released a solid string of hell-raising, good-timing, rowdy country albums. His latest, Crazy Again, continues that line.

The Texan’s sound mixes equal parts of the late-1970s outlaw country sound, the red-dirt alternative country scene and crunchy ZZ Top-style blues rock with an occasional dash of punk attitude or even more modern country sounds.

Though he does, every now and then, take a swim in the deeper end of the pool, it’s not really Taylor’s style. He’s more the guy that you hire when you’re ready to get the party cranked up around the pool. For that job, he’s the perfect person.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Still Spinning: Scatterbrain, "Here Comes Trouble"

What do thrash, Cheech and Chong, Mozart and some of the greatest riffs in hard rock history have in common?

This sadly forgotten gem of an album.

Scatterbrain arose from the ashes of singer Tommy Christ and guitarist Glen Cummings’ previous outfit Ludichrist with a more thrash feel and a bigger focus on humor. Yes, Here Comes Trouble is something of a novelty album, but the comedy is delivered over some pretty solid chops throughout.

If anyone remembers a song from this record, it’s likely the single and video “Don’t Call Me Dude,” a goofy but hilarious tune about a guy who snaps when his girlfriend leaves him for a burly lifeguard on the beach. The song goes through several movements, and the video follows, with the band mimicking various eras of rock ‘n’ roll from doo-wop to 1980s glam. It’s all a lot of fun, but like most of the rest of the album, the underpinnings of the song are very solid thrash licks.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: W.A.S.P., Lamb of God, BLS, Tim Owens, Pantera

All metal, all the time this week, though a couple of songs are on the softer side...

W.A.S.P., “I Don’t Need No Doctor.” From the album Inside the Electric Circus (1986). This was one of the weakest releases in the W.A.S.P. catalog, and unlike their other 1980s albums, I very rarely give it a listen these days. This is one of the better songs from it, though.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: Philip Anselmo and the Illegals, "Walk Through Exits Only"

Phil Anselmo is angry. And he’s going to scream at you until you get it. That’s the general gist of his first solo album Walk Through Exits Only.

The record opens with a nearly two-minute intro track, “Music Media is My Whore,” which is dissonant, choppy and uncomfortable as he announces his intent to make a type of music that’s never been made before. I’m not quite sure that he achieves that lofty goal, but the eight tracks on this record are certainly different.

There are portions of the album that are like a hard slap in the face or a baseball bat pummeling you over the head. They’re ugly, gnarly and beastly. But nearly every time, those passages are balanced by others where you find yourself bobbing your head and locking into the groove, the way you would with a Pantera or Down record.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Judas Priest, Faster Pussycat, Jani Lane, Sabbath, Metallica

A pretty rocking set this week, some heavy, some glitzy, but all rocking ...

Judas Priest, “Devil’s Child.” From the album Screaming for Vengeance (1982). On an album where Judas Priest went more metallic, “Devil’s Child” is kind of a throwback to the classic hard rock of their previous records. It’s got a great 1970s feel with some early AC/DC overtones to it – a nice complement to the rest of the record.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Something Borrowed: "I Gotsta Get Paid," ZZ Top/DJ DMD

Leave it to ZZ Top to take a regional rap hit and turn it into a smoking blues rock celebration of cool.

When working on last year's La Futura album, the bearded boys from Texas found inspiration from an unlikely source, a gangsta rap tune from Houston-based artist DJ DMD. The original, titled "25 Lighters," focused on hustling drugs and smuggling crack inside emptied out disposable lighters, which were easier to transport and pass. Of course, the ZZ version bears little resemblance to the original.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Ozzy, Travis Shredd, Uncle Nuge, Benedictum, Down

A little flash, a little heavy and a little fun this week ...

Ozzy Osbourne, “Lightning Strikes.” From the album The Ultimate Sin (1986). I maintain that The Ultimate Sin is one of Ozzy’s most underrated records. As this song and the accompanying video prove, it’s a record very much of its time with all the glitz, glitter and sparkles of the mid to late 1980s, and yes, Ozzy looked ridiculous in those get-ups. But the record contains some really good songs for the style. If I’m being honest, I like it better than Bark at the Moon.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Something Borrowed: "Snowblind," Black Label Society/Black Sabbath

It's rare that an artist creates a cover that transforms and transcends the original, but I think that's the case with Zakk Wylde's version of Sabbath's "Snowblind."

Wylde, who spent longer than any other guitarist as Ozzy Osbourne's main axe slinger, taking over on 1988's No Rest for the Wicked before being quietly pushed out before 2010's Scream, has always shown nothing but respect to his former boss and the almighty Black Sabbath. "Snowblind" is one of several Sabbath songs that he's recorded over the years, and he always does it with great reverence.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Saturday Shuffle: Aerosmith, Poison, Kiss, Iced Earth, Savatage

It's a pretty rocking week for the shuffle, though a couple may be questionable ...

Aerosmith, “Jaded.” From the album Just Push Play (2001). Though I initially liked this record out of sheer fanboyish unwillingness to admit that it sucked, I now realize what a mess it is. This is really one of the best songs on the record, and that’s saying something.

Poison, “Bastard Son of a Thousand Blues.” From the album Native Tongue (1993). I guess if you have to hit a Poison tune, this isn’t the worst album to choose. With the short-lived and disastrous tenure of guitarist Ritchie Kotzen, Poison took a more rootsy, blues-influenced approach to their music. That’s not to say there isn’t still plenty of the 1980s glam sound here. Bret Michaels, after all, who might have the defining voice of glitzy 1980s glam rock, is still singing, but I kind of like this record and the follow-up with Blues Saraceno, too. Oh, and the song features Lynyrd Skynyrd's Billy Powell on piano.

Kiss, “Domino.” From the album Revenge (1992). One of those huge Gene Simmons numbers that made this record so good. It’s nasty, it’s grooving, it’s what Simmons does best, and in turn what Kiss does best.

Iced Earth, “Electric Funeral.” From the album The Melancholy EP (1999). This is a pretty straight forward cover of the Black Sabbath classic with a little more involved arrangement. Matt Barlow’s dramatic vocals, though, just don’t have the same sinister ring as Ozzy’s originals.

Savatage, “She’s in Love.” From the album Gutter Ballet (1989). A love song, of sorts, from Savatage. It’s got that trademark, knife-edge Criss Oliva guitar sound and Jon Oliva’s unmistakable rasp. It might be one of the weaker moments on Gutter Ballet, but it’s still better than the best tune by most other metal bands. And finding a video of a rare live performance doesn't hurt, either.