Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 7th January 2013

Candlemass – Candlemass and Live at Buckley Tivoli The Candlemass Doomology Box Set includes many demos that were recorded for their excellent eponymous album and I wanted to refresh my memory about the final album before listening to them. I also stuck on another of their live recordings from the Doomology set. Quite rough quality: Messiah’s vocals are too high in the mix, leaving him open to EvaOverload’s jibes about him sounding like a wedding singer. Tsk.

Manilla Road – Crystal Logic Hugely under-rated US Metal. This is blissfully good. I’ll definitely be buying more of these guys’ stuff before 2013 is through. Er… budget permitting!

Carcass – Swansong This is one of the more fascinating albums to come out of Extreme Metal’s brush with the mainstream in the 1990s. It can get a bit samey at points but it’s a great melding of brutality and Classic Rock. As the title suggests the band split up once it was released but, like everyone else these days, they have reunited and are releasing a new album this year.

Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph One of my top picks from 2012 although I’ve not actually done a Best-Of 2012 post… so you’re going to have to just guess what the other ones were!

The Darkness – Hot Cakes This was another 2012 top pick! So you know two of them now, you can stop complaining. This might be joint-top actually, along with the Van Halen album. Arrghhh, that’s three! Oh bugger it, the other two were Gojira and Manowar with a special mention for St. Vitus. Happy now?

Be-Bop Deluxe – Axe Victim I bought the excellent Futurist Manifesto Box Set last January and decided to give it an anniversary listen. This, their first album, is excellent. The real star of the show is Bill Nelson’s fantastically colourful guitar playing. I’m really looking forward to working through their albums again.

David Coverdale – Last Note of Freedom (Original and Re-Mix) I’ve already said quite enough about this sultry winner from Cov the Gov. Read about it here… and here.

Pentagram – First Daze Here Too Yep. Them again.

Saxon – Innocence is No Excuse Can’t work out if the girl on the album cover is eating that apple or just wiping her face with it. This is the first time I’ve listened to this one and I’m pretty impressed. The grit of their earlier albums has been polished away but it’s still heavy in an early 80s Priest/Def Leppard way and the songwriting is sharp. If the good ship Saxon wobbled with Crusader then this album definitely sets it back on an even keel. The subsequent departure of the talismanic Steve “Dobby” Dawson would spring the first major leak.

SONG OF THE WEEK Really hard to choose this week. I’m going to go with Pentagram’s Wheel of Fortune. This one opens with a beast of a riff. Hope you like it!

[Pentagram – Wheel of Fortune]

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How Tempting! – January 2013

Welcome to the first month of the HMO Challenge 2013! I’m attempting to half my previous year’s spending on music based on last year’s spending, so I’m giving myself £50 to play with this month. I don’t know how much other people spend per month on music but, for me, that’s a tight budget.

January is a tough month. There’s usually good stuff showing up in sales: online and in the shops. All the magazines and websites are also full of tempting best-of lists. On the other hand, new releases tend to be thin on the ground and Christmas usually leaves me with enough new music to amuse myself for a while.

I have, as always, a very long wishlist. Here are the things that are tempting me most this month:

Pentagram - RelentlessPentagram Relentless and Day of Reckoning I’ve been listening to the First Daze compilations heavily for the last few weeks so these guys have to be a strong consideration. I could probably pick up both of these, their first two albums, for £10-£15 through the Amazon Marketplace.

Cirith Ungol - Frost and FireCirith Ungol – Frost and Fire, King of the Dead and One Foot in Hell Early Metal Blade band with awesome album covers taken from Michael Moorcock books. If I order from the US I can get these for £3-£4 a piece so these are strong contenders. No idea what this band sounds like but Fenriz of Darkthrone rates them and that’s good enough for me!

Metallica 598 EPMetallica – $5.98 EP Garage Days Re-Revisited I’ve wanted this on vinyl for a while. Shouldn’t set me back more than a tenner on Discogs. I do have it on the Garage Inc. CD so maybe I can hold off on this. For a while, at least.

Enslaved - EldEnslaved – Eld and Below the Lights (Vinyl Reissues) I spotted some really appealing vinyl reissues of some Enslaved albums at the Earache shop. They are about £14 a pop which isn’t bad for new vinyl, but would still put a sizeable dent in my budget.

The Cult - Pure CultThe Cult – Pure Cult Not having any of The Cult in my collection seems like a major gap and Aaron at WhatOwnsMe reckons this is a great place to start with them. I imagine I could get this pretty cheap. A fiver in my local FOPP maybe?

Girlschool - The Bronze YearsGirlschool – The Bronze Years The most tempting “new” release of January 2013. Especially considering my current NWOBHM kick. This compiles the first four albums the band recorded for the Bronze label. I’d mainly be buying this to add CDs to existing vinyl copies so this could probably wait.

In addition to these wishlist items I’ll be keeping an eye out for any deluxe editions that happen to show up in the sales (deluxe editions can often be found pretty cheap at my local FOPP). I’m especially interested in the Dio series and buying some of the Thin Lizzy and Queen ones that I’m still missing. But the price would have to be right.

So, as you can see, limiting my spending to £50 is going to force me into making some painful decisions! I’ll do my best. I think concentrating on second-hand shops and the sales are maybe the best way to go this month. Let me know what you think. Anything here I must buy or must avoid? What’s on your wishlist for January?

Stay tuned. At the end of the month I’ll be posting a Buying Round-Up of the month’s purchases. We’ll see how I get on…

Single of the Week: David Coverdale – The Last Note of Freedom (12″ Single)

I’m delving into the world of the single! I’ll buy a 7”, 12” or CD single every week and post my findings here. Who knows what musical discoveries will be made?

Drive through the smoke, Cole!
Drive through the smoke, Cole!

At the risk of triggering a sense of Déjà vu in returning readers, this week’s Single of the Week is… David Coverdale’s Last Note of Freedom! A song so good I bought it twice.

Back in November I found the 7” single of this track and after posting about it, I had a conversation with LeBrain (probably the longest discussion anyone has had about this track, ever!) where we uncovered many facts about this excellent song. This week I’ve picked up the 12” version for £1.50 at Record Fayre.

The appeal of the 12” is that it’s the original version of the track that was produced by Trevor Horn. The 7” single featured a sparser remix by some guy called Chris Lord-Alge. Although the sleeve of the 7” credits Chris with the remix, this same version of Last Note of Freedom appears on a compilation called Whitesnake Gold where the remix is credited to Tom Lord-Alge. It turns out the Lord-Alges have founded something of a production dynasty! There’s a Chris, Tom and the lesser-spotted Jeff.  No doubt, this vexing question of who really remixed this song still causes drama in the Lord-Alge household. I imagine their mother is always having to separate them.

The B-Side on both versions is Hans Zimmer’s Car Building (only worthwhile for its reprised guitar part from the A-Side). The 12” has the bonus of Terry Reid’s so-so cover of The Spencer Davis Group’s Gimmie Some Lovin’. Terry Reid was famously offered a spot in Jimmy Page’s New Yardbirds but was busy, suggesting Robert Plant for the spot instead. You know how that worked out.

As far as the mixes go, I think both are great. Trevor Horn’s is more dramatic with an extended intro and outro, ethnic backing vocals, more strings and more guitar overdubs. The 7” remix is stripped down and moodier. I think the remix version would be more at home on the Whitesnake albums of the period. Mixes aside though, it’s a superb song and it’s great to have both versions.

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 31st Dec 2012

More in-my-ears action for the week that commenced with Hogmanay!

Candlemass – Live Jönköping (1st LP of the Doomology Box) This is amazing. The very first Candlemass gig from 1987! The sound quality is quite rough as you would expect.  It’s an odd one because, although it’s their first show, they had already released two of the greatest albums of all-time (Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus and Nightfall)! So… not your average debut gig.

Pentagram – First Daze Here Too These guys are becoming a Noise-some Notes mainstay! Great cover of Under My Thumb on this one. I’ve been enjoying these compilations a lot which means I now want more ‘Ram! But I have my pesky budget to think of…

Jethro Tull – Too Old To Rock and Roll, Too Young To Die LeBrain reviewed this recently so I had to give it a listen. I love Tull but, of their 70s stuff, I’ve always overlooked this one. I really enjoyed it. It was like having a new Tull album! Lots of great acoustic stuff.  Although it’s a bit short on “classics” it’s a strong album. I’ll be going back to this one.

Tygers of Pan Tang – Spellbound Or, as vocalist John Deverill might say: Spell-bah-woond. This is a great NWOBHM album and features an early appearance from superb axe-wrangler John Sykes. John Deverill’s vocals are a bit of an odd fit here though, too AOR for this type of record… despite his excellent diction.

Whitesnake – Give Me More Time (7” single) My first attempt at ripping some vinyl to mp3 and a crashingly stupid track to try it with! Cov the Gov sings so loud at the end of the tune you have to listen to the whole song to see if you got your levels right. I got there… 4 attempts later.

Praying Mantis – The Soundhouse Tapes Part 2 (12” single) Last week’s Single of the Week! And a very good one too.

Urchin – High Roller Another collection of Adrian Smith’s pre-Maiden band. Urchin were far too laid-back to fit into the nascent British Heavy Metal scene of the late 70s but there’s plenty of great ideas and playing here and it’s one of my favourite things I picked up in 2012.

Saxon – Denim and Leather, Power and the Glory and Crusader More Saxon! I just couldn’t get enough of these guys while I was on my hols over Xmas and New Year. What did you do on your holiday, HMO? Listened to SAXON! In my pants! Denim and Leather and Power and the Glory continue the band’s great run of genius songwriting but Crusader ushers in the difficult years. The title track is a fantastic epic and I enjoyed the album a lot while I was pulling down my tree! But, despite many great moments, there are hints of the American fixation that would start to heavily test the patience of the faithful. Crusader is a great album if you can overlook the dire portents.

SONG OF THE WEEK: WHO DARES BATTLE THE SARACEN? Saxon’s Crusader. That’s who.

[Saxon – Crusader]

HMO Challenge 2013!

James takes, and fails, the HMO Shopping Challenge.
James takes, and fails, the HMO Shopping Challenge.

It’s a New Year and a new Heavy Metal Overlord (not, like, an actual new Heavy Metal Overlord… I’ve not been usurped or anything) and I’m going to start 2013 with a challenge!

One of my goals when I started HMO was to be more particular about the music I buy. To an extent, this has been fairly successful! 2012 was a great year in my ears. I spent slightly less money than usual and concentrated my spending on the purchases that excited me the most!

But there’s always room for improvement. In 2012 I kept track of EVERY album I bought and how much I was spending. In light of this information, I’ve decided to revamp my How Tempting posts, my Buying Round-Ups and set myself a goal.

Based on 2012’s spending I’m going to be setting myself a monthly budget. It will be, at the most, 50% of what I spent that month in 2012 – less if the previous year’s spending was totally off the hook!

I’ll kick off each month with a How Tempting post. I’ll disclose my monthly budget and evaluate the merits of any music that’s tempting me at that point. At the end of the month a Buying Round-Up will announce my purchases and disclose my spending. As usual, there will be running totals a-go-go.

I’d love you all to chip in. Let me know what you think I should be buying, let me know if there is anything out there I might have missed and let me know if the stuff I’ve bought sucks. And please let me know if you have set yourself any music-related challenges for 2013. We’re in this together!

HMO Challenge Rules:

  • The monthly total will include: all CDs, vinyl, downloads and box sets I buy.
  • However, only singles that cost me more than £2 will be included. The Single of the Week series continues!
  • Music DVDs, but not any other DVDs, will be included.
  • No book purchases will be included, even if they are music-related.
  • Until an album purchase is disclosed, it will not appear in my Noise-some Notes. To regular readers, these posts may seem shorter than usual.

Single of the Week: Praying Mantis – The Soundhouse Tapes Part 2 (12” Single)

Praying Mantis - The Soundhouse Tapes Part 2I’m delving into the world of the single! I’ll buy a 7”, 12” or CD single every week and post my findings here. Who knows what musical discoveries will be made?

I went on my very first record shopping jaunt of 2013 and turned up this little beauty for 99p at the excellent Record Fayre in the Trongate, Glasgow (which has the bonus of a shop Labrador! Much clapping and wagging ensued).

This is the second of three Praying Mantis singles released around the time of the band’s debut album Time Tells No Lies. If, like me, you bought Rock Candy’s reissue of Time Tells No Lies then you’ll know that it features all the songs (A and B-Sides) from the first and third of those three singles either as part of the album proper (Cheated) or as bonus tracks (everything else). So this 12” completes my collection of Time Tells No Lies-era Praying Mantis and is a great NWOBHM collectible!

The Soundhouse Tapes Part 2 B SideThe A-Side of The Soundhouse Tapes 2 is the excellent Captured City which is easily one of the band’s greatest tunes: a great title, catchy chorus and ladles of Thin Lizzy worship. The B-Side has two tracks, The Ripper and Johnny Cool. The Ripper starts off with some great riffs but feels a bit limp. Johnny Cool is better but the guitar work is still the star of the show and makes both tracks worthwhile. Excitingly, both these tracks also seem pretty hard to find anywhere else. An essential addition to my burgeoning NWOBHM collection.

I wonder where they got the idea for the title from…

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

The last Noise-some Notes of 2012!

Urchin – Get Up and Get Out One of my surprise Christmas Eve freebies from the High Roller label. These excellent pre-Maiden Adrian Smith recordings are very rough around the edges but reek pleasingly of UFO, Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent and pubs.

Pentagram – First Daze Here: A Vintage Collection The Devil may have the best tunes but, unfortunately for Doom-pioneers Pentagram, he didn’t run any record companies (this is pre-Simon Cowell we’re talking about here). Luckily, the ‘Ram didn’t take “no” for an answer, ploughing on for over 10 years prior to releasing their first full-length. And when the aforesaid no’s are coming from Sandy Pearlman, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons that makes the ‘Ram some plucky motherfuckers!

Rod Stewart – Storyteller (Disc 1) Rod’s early career was another story of perseverance and false starts. Trying to launch your musical career with paedo-Blues anthem Good Morning Little Schoolgirl wasn’t a great idea, was it? Not to mention adorning your debut solo-album with a picture of what could only be described as… a paedo. It’s at times like these you need a good manager to say “enough with the paedos already!”

Various Artists – New Wave of British Heavy Metal ’79 Revisited Classic compilation put together by Lars Ulrich and Geoff Barton. I wanted this (vinyl version) for years and it’s been one of my favourite purchases of the year! Especially worthwhile for the early version of Def Leppard’s Getcha Rocks Off with Frank Noon on Drums.

Saxon – Saxon, Wheels of Steel, Strong Arm of the Law and The Eagle Has Landed There are far, far worse ways to end a year of listening than filling your head with the Heavy Metal Thunder that is Saxon. The opening trio of albums was an absolutely formidable way to start a career. Blunt-instrument savagery combined with impeccable melodic sense. There are more indispensable Metal classics on these albums than you can shake a stick at. Their later failure was way more to do with bad decision making than any lack of talent. These guys had that to spare and it’s readily apparent on these early albums.

SONG OF THE WEEK: It’s got to be Saxon. Happy New Year everyone!

[Saxon – Heavy Metal Thunder]

… and classic rock too!