Sunday, November 9, 2014

Weekend Music Roundup

Welcome to a Throwback Week here at the Roundup. While next week promises reviews of plenty of new albums, this time around is the complete opposite. As I started to compile the albums that I'd been listening to during the week, a theme started to emerge and I went with. This is a collection of Hard Rock and Punk recordings from the past, many of which had been on my wishlist for quite a long time. It features some solo records from rock legends after leaving their bands, a few records by bands in their prime, and a spattering of UK punk bands that who never seem to get enough attention. It was a fun week of discovery, visiting places familiar yet new. Hopefully it will spark a similar urge within all of you. There's lots of old music out there, I suggest listening to it. Enjoy.

Rob Zombie - Hellbilly Deluxe: For the last half dozen years or so, I've been a pretty ardent fan of the Hollywood Devil Man's work, and finally got around to seeking out his 1998 solo debut. Released basically at the same time White Zombie disbanded, this album ushers Rob's transition into horror movie music. One of the things I love about his albums is the way each song is like a sketch of some horror film character. This album is a perfect example of that, usually casting himself as the monster in each song. As always, it's pure metal and straight up rocks. "Meet the Creeper," "Demoniod Phenomenon," "Superbeast," and "Dragula" are standout tracks.

The Damned - Damned Damned Damned: Among the first wave of punk bands out of London, this was one of the most explosive. Their 1977 debut opens with a burst of energy found in the punk classic "Neat Neat Neat." What sets them apart from the Sex Pistols for example is their adherence to blues rock guitar elements that come through at moments when the music isn't sped up to a blistering speed. To be honest, I can't believe it's taken this long for me to get on board with this album. Though I've known of the band, and many of these songs for years, it was yet another of those seminal albums of the era that had eluded me. This is a punk classic and one that ages very well. "I Feel Alright," "1 of the 2," and "Fan Club" are other tracks worthy of mention.

Mötley Crüe - Wild in the Night: Out this past month is this never before released live broadcast from 1982, during the L.A. glam band's tour for their amazing debut album. This recording captures the energy of a band that was just beginning to enter their peak. The Sunset Strip scene was built on live shows, and it's nice to hear them perform their early material when it was fresh, and to hear the emergence of "Shout At the Devil," performed here for the first time and already it's fantastic. Also included is the early club favorite "Running Wild in the Night," which never managed to make it onto an album. The set closing rendition of "Live Wire" is pretty spectacular. All around a solid record, even with some recording quality issues.
KISS - Love Gun: Released in 1977 at the height of their popularity, the glam rock band's sixth album is one of their classics. A deluxe edition has recently been released, which prompted me to finally acquire the original in all it's glory. This is really the last great KISS record. Their demise begins shortly after, but for this album, the band is as its peak. Everything is clicking on here and Ace Frehley shines brighter than he had on any previous releases. There are some misses, of course. The band frequently took the lazy road in their songwriting. "Shock Me" is a perfect example of this. But when they were good, they were really good. "I Stole Your Love," "Got Love For Sale," Hooligan," and the title track are all wonderful rock songs.

Generation X - Generation X: Before he was an '80s icon, Billy Idol was the face of pop punk in the late '70s as the front man for this UK band. Their self-titled debut from 1978 is very influential in bringing punk to the mainstream. That's not to say that it's any less punk, but Generation X understood how to bring a catchy element to the angst. The Clash would later follow along, bringing a more mainstream style to their music. Interestingly enough, Billy Idol doesn't feel like the featured element on this, which is surprising considering that throughout his solo career he was so magnetic. But the bass and guitar really stand out on this record. It's a solid record all the way through, but "One Hundred Punks," "Listen," and "Ready Steady Go" are real standouts.

Penetration - Moving Targets: The last UK punk band on this week's Roundup is the Durham band led by Pauline Murray. Legend has it that at the age of 18 she attended a Sex Pistols show and immediately formed this band with friends. One of the interesting things about this record is that you can hear the coming New Wave sound emerging in songs like "Life's a Gamble." There's definitely the possibility that while they were inspired by the Pistols, the Pistols mastermind Malcolm MacLaren was watching them when he decided to form Bow Wow Wow. Definitely an under appreciated album and one that still sounds quite interesting today. "Nostalgia," "Lovers of Outrage," "Silent Community," and the fantastic cover of "Free Money" are my favorites.

Ozzy Osbourne - Diary of a Madman: After being expelled from Black Sabbath at the end of the '70s, the Oz Man began on his coke fueled solo career in the '80s. After a successful debut in the Fall of 1980, he released this, his second album, the following year. Despite the silliness of the album art, this rock album falls somewhere between hard rock and metal. My problem with this, and most of Ozzy's solo records, is that they feel somewhat watered down and far too heavy on the treble over bass, even in the newly issued remastering. Also like his other albums, this contains a few dynamite songs that are surrounded by much weaker ones. "Believer," "Over the Mountain," and "S.A.T.O." are the real shining moments, along with the title track.

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