Friday, 29 March 2013

Black Sabbath 13

So Black Sabbath, the band who sort of invented, heavy metal are back with a new album and the classic line up - well apart from Bill Ward who felt insulted by the contract he was offered by the bands' management. He's been replaced for this new platter by Rage Against the Machine's Brad Wilk. Still we have Ozzy (Yep, Sharon's allowed him out to play), Tony Iommi (currently receiving treatment for cancer of the blood) and Geezer Butler.

In the producer chair we have the great Rick Rubin, the man who did such a great job with Johnny Cash for the American Recordings series, and reports are that he's taken Sabbath back to the sound of their first few studio albums. He's also rejected several of the songs the band brought in and toned Ozzy down to a manageable level.

The album is called 13 and is out this coming June - definitely one to look forward to then.

Below I've embedded a You Tube video of the band talking about the new album.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Classic Albums - The Number of the Beast

Back in the day you could have been  forgiven for thinking that Iron Maiden were finished -  On the face of it they seemed like being just another short lived band. They'd had some success with their previous two albums, but nothing spectacular.

The time may have been right to build on this - It certainly didn't seem like the time to change personnel and yet that's just what they did when they replaced their vocalist Paul Di'Anno with Bruce Dickenson.

However this would turn out to be a good move and no offence to Paul Di'Anno but he really wasn't suited for the direction the band were to take from now on.

 Di'Anno was superb for the first two Maiden albums which sound punkish in nature, but now Maiden were turning into a new wave metal band and Brucie was a much better choice. As good as  Di'Anno was it is difficult to think of anyone but Brucie screaming out, '6 6 6...the number of the beast.' In fact I think Di'Anno's vocals were more versatile than Brucie's but Brucie rocks solid.

The Number of the Beast (1982) really kicks butt and is my third fave Maiden album next to Powerslave and Piece of Mind.

"I simply didn't think [former vocalist Paul Di'Anno] was capable of handling lead vocals on some of the quite complicated directions I knew Steve wanted to explore... when Bruce joined, it opened up the possibilities for the new album tremendously." Producer, Martin Birch

The album kicks off with Invaders and immediately we are in take no prisoners hard rocking mode. As an album opener the song does its job well but it probably one of the weakest tracks on the album - though, that's no complaint since the rest of the album is just so strong. Children of the Dammed comes next and this song is an all time classic and after hearing this track  you realize that Brucie is THE Maiden vocalist. Then we have The Prisoner which starts off with a sound snippet from the cult TV series of the same name before giving us a lyric inspired by the TV series. Bruce even takes on the persona of Number 6 to deliver the song and its bloody brilliant. Then we have some smut with 22 Acacia Avenue, a song about a prostitute who gives really good value for money. The main character seems to be Charlotte the Harlot who was also featured in a song on the previous Maiden album.

Now back in the day those four songs would have been side one of the platter - and WOW, what a first side! There's not a bad song there and when the weakest track is something as awesome as Invaders then we know we're firing on all cylinders.

To my mind The Number of the Beast marks the stage where Maiden went from being a rock act to a drama act. And by the I mean that every song is a mini play and instead of elaborate sets and actors the story is delivered with blistering instruments and vocals. Images as clear as a really cool High Definition Screen, like that one in PC World that I've been lusting after, dance in rhythm across the mental landscape. Their stage shows mirror this sense of high theater and as a live act they are quite an experience. I've seen them twice so I should know.

First track on the old side 2  (or the fifth song on the CD) Number of the Beast finds Brucie in the mould of Lon Chaney Jnr's Wolfman as the lyric conjours up a Godless landscape populated with devil worshipers. Then we're out West, the Old West to be specific for Run to the Hills, a pulsating song about genocide being carried out on the Red Indians of the Old West, Wow - what a song, what a lyric. Then we are off to the East End of London, Guv for a trip through streets ruled by gangsters and the original album ended with Hallowed by Thy Name, in which the lyric is delivered as though by a condemned man waiting for his final minutes to countdown before meeting the hangman.This is Iron Maiden MKII and from this band we would not get songs of teenage angst or odes to forbidden love but instead each and every song from here on in was constructed like a novel - a beginning,middle and end with incredible guitar work and driving drums punctuating the story.The Number of the Beast still stands today as a great album and one of the best metal LP's ever made.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Hot Rockers

Granny says when you've had Keef Richards, only Lemmy will do.

Isn't he a dreamboat!

He sets my falsies all a'chattering!

Granny Smith and the Deadly Frogs available now

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Classic Albums: Dog of Two Head - Status Quo

Status Quo have had a rough deal over the years - well, critically at least since selling millions of albums is a pretty rewarding. The thing with Quo is that somewhere around their Rocking All Over the World album, they seemed to lose their edge and although there were some triumphs in later years they generally stuck to the same chugga chugga twelve bar blues style which turned them into one of the biggest rock bands in the world but ultimately imprisoned them  into repeating themselves over and over, and again and again and again.

Dog of Two Head - This 1971 album is my particular favorite from the band and is perhaps their most effective as a heavy blues band, the follow up, Piledriver may have been the big break through, but it is on Dog of Two Head that they deliver their most inventive and compelling set.

Opening track, Umleitung is a driving blues beat in which the waspish vocals entwine with the back-beat  There's some great guitar work on this one from Rossi and Parfitt with Alan Lancaster (the composer of the song) holding it all together with a thumping bass line. The song goes on for seven and a half minutes and it doesn't seem a second too long. This is followed by a 51 second snippet of a song called Nanana, a ballad which crops up several times, though only once in its entirety. Then we have Something Going on in My Head, which is another number penned by Alan Lancaster, and employs a blues rock feel and is one of the most infectious tracks on the album. It's certainly got plenty of hooks. Ending the first side is Mean Girl which  is a portentous of the hard rocking, heads down, boogie style Status Quo would come to make their own.

Back in the day, when we flipped the record or cassette, we would have been greeted to another snippet from that acoustic ditty, Nanana, getting a minutes worth this time, before Gerdundula gives us another blues shuffle. The track is about two German groupies the band knew,  Gerd and Ulla. Then we have another blues rocker, this time using the chugga chugga rhythm the band were so skilled at producing - the track Railroad, uses a rock and roll cliche in its story of being stranded at a railroad after a lover has left - in rock and roll you're either waiting for a train to return your baby (Mystery Train) or pissed off because the train's taken her (One After  909). There's a wonderfully plaintive harmonica in the middle eight and the song rocks . This is followed by another Alan Lancaster penned tune, Someone'e Learning - the lyric examines the situation in Ireland during the period and the political troubles of the time. And then we have the full version of acoustic ballad, Nananna to complete the platter.

The current CD version contains  five bonus tracks and among these are a great BBC session of Good Thinking and Railroad, as well an alternative mix of Mean Girl.

Dog of Two Head may not have made Quo superstars, it was their following album, Piledriver that did that, but to my mind Dog of Two Head is a much better album and is certainly more musically adventurous.