In My Eyes: Gillan – The Glory Years DVD

Since the Noise-some Notes cover all the details of the week in my ears, this series of posts will start covering the week in my eyes!

Gillan’s The Glory Years is, I believe, the only officially released DVD from the early 80s incarnation of the band. The main attraction here is the live set from Oxford Polytechnic in 1981. This was originally filmed for a UK TV show called Rock Goes to College and it’s a blistering set. This band was a powerful live unit and, for me, this is Ian Gillan’s peak as a performer and vocalist.

The band comes across as an exceptionally talented bunch of bizarre misfits. The frontline of Bernie Tormé with his Sci-Fi Pirate look, John McCoy with his demented half-hairdo and the urbane Colin Towns are balanced out by Ian, in straightforward, archetypal Rocker mode with his mane, denim and red jeans. This is live show is essential stuff for Gillan fans. The bonus footage is mainly mimed performances from Top of the Pops and other similar shows. Ian seems to have a bit of a hoot doing these but I doubt I’d return to them much.

The two volumes of live recordings that formed RPM’s The BBC Tapes (Volume 1: Dead of Night and Volume 2: Unchain Your Brain) are some of my absolute favourite live recordings, and while this doesn’t quite reach those giddy heights it’s great to actually see the band in action. I’ve picked On the Rocks here as it seems to move the most air! It also has some hilariously intense McCoy headbanging and sums up the whole vibe of the concert nicely. Enjoy!


Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 15th October 2012

KISS – Monster This album’s been a nice surprise and it’s a shoo-in for the year’s best list here at HMO Mission Control. Maybe not quite number one… but it’s up there anyway. There’s been a lot of competition this year. The track Long Way Down is certainly a candidate for song of the year, at least. I’d like to hear the band explore that style more.

Samson – Head On A bit of classic NWOBHM for you. This was the first Samson album to feature “Bruce Bruce” on vocals who later adopted the ridiculous moniker “Bruce Dickinson” when he went on to join Iron Maiden. This is a really fun album, hints of KISS and Gillan at points and it has some hilarious lyrics. Manwatcher and Take it Like a Man being particularly suspect!

Jethro Tull – Crest of a Knave The greatest Heavy Metal album of 1989? The Grammys thought so and awarded it the gong for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Performance over Metallica’s …And Justice For All. Now, just to clarify, I really like Metallica but I never understood why everyone got so annoyed about this. While the decision was clearly ill-considered, Tull didn’t ask for the award and the pelters they received were unfair. While Crest wasn’t their best album by any means, neither was Justice Metallica’s best and it had no bass! The fact that Tull didn’t even bother turning up to the event makes them instantly more “Metal” than Metallica anyway.. At least it prompted Tull to put out their genius Billboard ad (below) and Metallica had the good humour to label future pressings of Justice with a sticker reading “Grammy award LOSERS”.

Gillan – Double Trouble (Studio Side) The half studio, half live album from Ian Gillan and band. A band which had only just acquired future Iron Maiden guitarist and stage-diver Janick Gers. I’ve never really paid enough attention to this period of Gillan and it turns out this is a storming album. Gers always seems more in his element as a lone guitarist and Gillan is in incredible voice here. It’s a more consistent and direct effort than previous Gillan albums but it does miss a bit of the gonzo chaos of the previous line-up with Bernie Tormé on guitar.

The Darkness – Hot Cakes Another contender for the HMO Album of the Year gong along with Monster, A Different Kind of Truth and… er… Crest of a Knave!

Manowar – Sign of the Hammer A stupendous blast of HM supremacy! Made all the more remarkable by the fact that is was recorded so quickly. Manowar realised, while recording their third album Hail to England for Music for Nations, that they were going to leave the label so they used the time and budget to sneakily record two albums! Brains and brawn! Hail would be given to Music for Nations and the band were able to shop around for a new label with an album already in the can. Happily, both the outgoing and incoming labels were gifted stone-cold Metal classics and saw that they were good.

Various Artists – Monsters of Rock The first compilation I’ve actually listened to since starting this blog. It also turns out I’m the proud owner of an album Mike Ladano didn’t know about! Haha. Anyhoo, you can read about it and look at it here.

Monsters of Rock!

“Plus Ozzy, Bon Jovi, ZZ Top and More”! Nice of them to give a shout-out to NWOBHM legends, More, who appeared in ’81!

There’s a wee Oxfam charity shop near me that does a good line in second-hand music magazines for 50p. It’s always worth a rummage. The other weekend I was especially pleased to find this beauty! Future Publishing’s one-off Monsters of Rock special. I didn’t know about this issue so I was well chuffed to pick it for small change!

It covers all the legendary Monsters of Rock festivals that took place at Castle Donington between 1980 and 1996. It also covers the attempted revival in 2006 (at Milton Keynes) and some of the other Monsters of Rock shows that have taken place elsewhere (the big Moscow one, the 1988 US Tour etc…). It’s full of reviews, recollections, photos and nostalgia for the golden age of the Rock festival. Just 6 or 7 of that year’s hottest bands clashing on a single stage could bring the best and worst out of them and there have been many careers made and broken at the event. It makes for fascinating reading.

Unfortunately, I only ever made it to one (the KISS headliner in ’96 by which point they had been adding more bands and an extra stage) but the festival always seemed to be recorded for broadcast on UK radio and TV so I was usually able to enjoy the festival, even when I wasn’t there. Many of the recordings made for broadcast have since been released as albums or used as bonus tracks. AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Dio, Anthrax, Whitesnake and more have all released albums and/or videos of their performances.

And talking of official releases… I’ve thrown in the LP of the Monsters of Rock compilation released by Polydor to celebrate the first Donington festival in 1980. This gets a full-page feature in the mag so I thought I’d include my copy here. It’s got two epic Rainbow performances, Stargazer and All Night Long, which are slightly marred by Graham Bonnet’s gruff warble but worth hearing for Ritchie Blackmore’s awesome playing (check out the nifty blues coda in All Night Long). The Scorpions tracks are great but could have done with being a bit beefier and Touch’s melodic AOR is out of place in such heavy company. Riot and Saxon steal the album with their gritty, bloodthirsty performances. The biggest let-down of the album is the absence of anything from Judas Priest’s set from the day. But still, this is a great listen and a fun item from the HMO vault!

[Riot – Road Racin‘ Live at Monsters of Rock 1980]

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 8th October 2012

What has the HMOverlord been listening to this week?

Robert Calvert – Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters Brilliant concept album from Hawkwind vocalist/lyricist Robert Calvert. The story centres on the Luftwaffe’s purchase of dodgy Lockheed Starfighters from the US. These were subsequently nicknamed “Widowmakers” due to their poor safety record. It’s an odd topic for a Rock album… Python-esque sketches and zee crazy German accents mingle with powerful, spacey Rock featuring Lemmy, Dave Brock, Brian Eno and Arthur Brown and more!

KISS – Monster I didn’t find Sonic Boom very enduring so I’d been trying not to get my hopes up for this. I’m happy to report that this is a vast improvement. Looking back to their formative years and influences (Zep, The Who, Slade, Hendrix etc…) has helped KISS come up with a very fresh and forward-looking album. The Thayer/Singer line-up finally has a sound it can call its own.

Genesis – The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Nursery Cryme Lamb is my favourite Genesis album and one that keeps on giving. It’s much tighter and more economical than the previous Gabriel-era albums. There is a moment in Fly on the Windshield that is not just one of the most thrilling moments in the history of music but also in the history of… humans.

Nursery Cryme is an earlier album of theirs that I enjoy but only The Musical Box, Return of the Giant Hogweed and The Fountain of Salmacis stick out for me. The rest always seems to go in one ear and out the other. Those three tracks are more than sufficient to invite further listens though.

Manowar – Hell on Wheels Enjoyable but frustrating live debut from the Metal Kings. Wimps and posers, leave the blog!

Kansas – Kansas The band’s debut is not as good as later albums like Leftoverture or Point of Know Return but this is good stuff anyway. Proof that the US could do Prog too! With Fiddles! Gaun’ yersel.

Celtic Frost – Monotheist The Frosties comeback album is a staggering achievement. An absolute black pit of a record that you just sink into until the gorgeous orchestral finale puts the lights back on and you emerge, blinking and in disbelief. Love it.

Mastodon – Leviathan and The Hunter Still a lot of Moby-Dick chat going on at HMO Mission Control lately so what better reason to stick on Mastodon’s modern Metal classic? And while I was at it I gave their last album The Hunter a spin too. I’m still feeling that one out but I’ve enjoyed it so far… doesn’t seem as good or as bad as people are making it out to be. But it’s early days and Mastodon albums always take a few listens.

Gerry Rafferty – City to City A bit of a mellow one for a Saturday night. I bought this for Baker Street but every time I put this on I like another track from it. Eventually I’ll like the whole album! Gerry is a major figure in Scottish music and there was a cool BBC documentary on him a while back, Right Down the Line, that is well worth a watch.

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 1st October 2012

Aerosmith – Aerosmith I really enjoy Aerosmith’s debut despite Steven Tyler’s odd James Brown impersonation. Quite a few classics on here: Dream On, Mama Kin and Walking the Dog but I especially love the intro riff of Make It that kicks the whole thing off.

Manowar – Gods of War Live The third of Manowar’s live releases. I’ve already reviewed their first, Hell on Wheels, as part of my post-1985 live albums series and I’ll be getting round to this one in due course. So I won’t give anything away just now.

Black Flag – The First Four Years Enjoyed this so much I bought it twice! Well, I had bought the vinyl and then fancied listening to it on the move so I got a download for £3 too. It’s good to have something fiery to listen to on the bus in case you have a shite day at work!

Rollins Band – The Only Way to Know For Sure Another recent purchase and gave this a ton of listens this week. I had it on good authority that this was going to be a good listen but I’m still genuinely surprised by how good this is. It’ll get a fuller review up at some point but all I can say is that this album caused bopping to happen. Actual bopping.

Glenn Hughes – Addiction The Voice of Rock has come in from the commercial cold in recent years but, at the risk of being a contrary bugger, I’ve found myself losing interest. This one is from back in the mid-90s when I was still on board! It took a few listens to get into but is continually rewarding. Dark, down-tuned Rock with real soul and atmosphere. I always liked JJ Marsh on guitar. What happened to that guy?

Genesis – Selling England by the Pound I’m always spellbound by the opening track on this, Dancing with the Moonlit Knight, the song that got me into the band. It’s got a cool mythical feel and an excellent early example of two-handed tapping from 1973. The Cinema Show is also essential Genesis. This is a superb album but it’s let down by I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe), which gets old quick, and The Battle of Epping Forest, which is fairly impenetrable.

Iron Maiden – The Trooper/Flight of Icarus Another two-single compilation from the First Ten Years box. Features an excellent cover of Montrose’s I’ve Got the Fire and a cover of Jethro Tull’s Cross-Eyed Mary, which is a bit of a howler but, in fairness, not actually as bad as I had remembered.

Fleetwood Mac – Tango in the Night I always manage to squeeze some 80s pop into my weekly listening, don’t I? This one’s a patchy affair from the AOR behemoths. I really enjoyed all the singles from this era but, sadly, only a few other tracks here are worth your time.

Hawklords – 25 Years On Maybe a bit of an obscure one, this. In the late 70s Hawkwind disbanded but the main players reappeared as Hawklords for this one excellent album. Eccentric vocalist/lyricist Robert Calvert is on particularly good form here. PSI Power is fantastic, probably my favourite Hawkwind-related song (unless you include Motorhead in that category in which case it’s Dancing on Your Grave), Freefall is gorgeous and Flying Doctors is about a cabinet key. Presumably the key to a cabinet with drugs in it.

Live After Live After Death: Manowar – Hell on Wheels

I’ve been wondering what happened to the live album and if Iron Maiden’s Live After Death is the last truly classic one. I’m going to be looking into some post-1985 live releases to see if there are any overlooked belters out there.

“Ladies and Gentlemen. From the United States of America… all hail… Manowar.”

Being a Manowar fan brings with it both agony and ecstasy. Ever since their debut Battle Hymns in 1982, the New Yorkers have pounded out albums where epic, awe-inspiring classics have been accompanied by unwelcome bass solos and monologues. So the question that always has to be asked of any new Manowar release is: does the filler outweigh the killer?

Arguably, the band’s golden-era ended with 1992’s Triumph of Steel (one of my Top 10 albums of the 1990s) so the release of their first live record, Hell on Wheels, in 1997 seemed a bit belated but also had a tantalising wealth of material to draw from.

The album kicks off in thrilling style. Orson Welles heralding the band’s arrival on stage for their signature tune, Manowar. The album does a fine job of capturing Manowar’s punishingly loud live sound, vocalist Eric Adams fighting to be heard amongst the din. Unfortunately, the momentum created by the strong opening is damaged by the ill-conceived grouping of a guitar solo, piano interlude and the ballad, Courage, which creates the feel of a last dance too early in the album’s running time. Blood of my Enemies and Hail and Kill close off the first disc and should be the album’s centrepieces but their effect is neutered by the poor pacing.

Thankfully the second CD is slightly more even. Once again it opens well and although Joey DeMaio’s bass solo Black Arrows is well played and varied, it’s too long and Fighting the World struggles to restore the excitement levels. The back end of the album is over-weighted with newer material from 1996’s disappointing Louder Than Hell but the songs are more convincing live than in the studio and the final stages of Hell on Wheels are great fun, culminating in the moving Battle Hymn.

Ultimately, what should have been the definitive statement of Manowar at their absolute best is hobbled by the inconsistencies that often dog their studio output. You can press “skip” or stick the kettle on and this is a great live album, but victory is barely snatched from the jaws of defeat and I expect more from the Kings of Metal. Thankfully, Manowar had now developed a taste for the live album. There would be more… and they would be better.


Live After Live After Death – Introduction

W.A.S.P. – Live in the Raw

Sammy and the Wabo’s – Live Hallelujah

Dissection – Live Rebirth

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 24th September 2012

Isengard – Høstmørke The only album proper from the Fenriz side project that I mentioned last week. More of the same as the Vandreren demo really and sounds as much like a demo as that did! Maybe even more so. This was a great escapist listen on the Monday bus to work.

INXS – Listen Like Thieves and Kick I’ve been a fan of these albums since the 80s but I’ve found myself really reconnecting with them in the last couple of years. It’s tight, funky Pop but when I was a young ‘un this stuff made perfect sense alongside the rockier fare of the day like Whitesnake and Def Leppard.

Rush – Vapor Trails I’ve not listened to this one for ages. I never minded the production of this as much as some people seemed to. Listening to it this time it strikes me as a tad overlong but every time I started to drift off they hit me with a belter like Secret Touch. I’d definitely rate this above Snakes and Arrows but I think the new one, Clockwork Angels, has trumped it. There’s been talk about remixing/remastering Vapor Trails too which I’d be keen to hear.

Dissection – Live Rebirth Gave this a listen while writing my previous post about it. A great introduction for fans of traditional Metal that want to dip their toes into more extreme territory.

The Misfits – Collection I Also known as the first disc in their awesome Box Set. This is just front to back great fun. Direct, catchy as hell and songs like Astro Zombies even manage to be strangely touching!

Iron Maiden – The Soundhouse Tapes Mike Ladano has been expertly reviewing the Iron Maiden catalogue recently and you should definitely check out his excellent reviews. Although the albums concerned are basically hard-wired into my consciousness, while reading his posts I realised that I hadn’t listened to The Soundhouse Tapes or their many B-Sides for ages. I got totally caught up in The Soundhouse Tapes even though it was, understandably, naïve and rough around the edges. Pretty much the NWOBHM in a nutshell! Loved it.

Iron Maiden – Running Free/Sanctuary It was fun to go back to the singles again too. I’ve got these from the First Ten Years Box Set which I’m lucky enough to own (sadly sans lid). The highlight of this one is the enjoyable but atypical Burning Ambition. I love that washy vibrato effect that NWOBHM bands were so fond of.

Iron Maiden – Women in Uniform/Twilight Zone Never liked either Women… or Twilight Zone that much but releasing non-album singles was pretty old-school, even in the 80s, and good value for money for the fans. The B-Sides are excellent and include the naff but fun Invasion (almost inventing Bad News single-handedly with its lyric “robbing and pillaging, raping and looting the la-a-and”. Kind of poetical political isn’t it?) and an excellent live version of Phantom of the Opera.

Iron Maiden – Purgatory/Maiden Japan Had forgotten how amazing the song Purgatory actually is. Can’t escape the feeling that Maiden picked an odd bunch of songs to promote the Killers album though. Maiden Japan is shit-hot with an awesome version of the under-rated Innocent Exile.

Ghost – Opus Eponymous This was totally mis-sold as a Mercyful Fate/Angel Witch style affair when it was released when anyone with half an ear can tell they’re pillaging Blue Oyster Cult for all they’re worth. Still, one of the best debuts of recent years and I’m intrigued to see how they are going to follow this up.

Pink Floyd – The Wall I could never get into this band when I was younger. They appealed too much to all the layabout stoners I knew and I was too busy listening to Ted Nugent going gonzo at Hammersmith! Glad I’ve found my way round to Floyd now though because there’s lots of amazing, dramatic stuff here. I’ll wager Pink Floyd never played three headline shows in a row though! Wimps.

… and classic rock too!