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]

Noise-some Notes – A Fortnight in Listening 10th December 2012

My posting routine is all skew-whiff thanks to Christmas so I’m going to cram two weeks’ worth of listening into this post. Happily there was a lot of repeat listening over the two weeks so it shouldn’t be too long! Another Noise-some Notes will follow on the 31st December to bring me bang up to date. So in 2013, my weekly listening notes will be hot off the press!

Ghost – Opus Eponymous It seems like this debut album has been out for ages now. At a recent gig Ghost performed a new track, Secular Haze, after appointing a new Satanic Pope, Papa Emeritus II, to lead the band. Their new album Infestissumam is due in Spring 2013.

Candlemass – Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus I gave this a whirl after ordering the Doomology Box Set. Epicus, Doomicus, Metallicus (surely the greatest album title ever!) is a great debut and the album that got me into the band. While I initially preferred original vocalist Johan Längqvist, I’ve since come to favour the voice of his successor, Messiah Marcolin. Happily, the Doomology set features both so I can continue to umm and ahh over this important matter.

Pentagram – First Daze Here and First Daze Here Too Doom of an even older vintage than Candlemass! Excellent bluesy Heavy Rock and the vocals from wild-eyed frontman Bobby Liebling have an exciting hint of Rod Evans about them! The liner notes are interesting too not least because they recount the band’s many failed attempts to get signed (featuring walk on parts from Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley).

Blue Öyster Cult – Spectres Superb and overlooked album from the mighty BÖC. Every Record Tells a Story did a couple of great posts about them recently which inspired me to revisit this one. You can check the posts out here and here!

Cheap Trick – Cheap Trick (1977) and Sex, America, Cheap Trick (Disc 4) Cheap Trick is one of the greatest debut albums ever, an incredible combination of sweet, melodic, blistering and twisted. I also gave the fourth disc of their excellent Box Set a whirl. It’s a great overview of their mid-late 80s career where they placed less emphasis on the blistering twistedness!

Heart – Bad Animals Mmmm… the Wilson sisters. Yum.

Richard Thompson – I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight and Mock Tudor An artist I love more every year and 2012 was no exception. A Christmas gift of live tickets to see RT in Edinburgh should help maintain this trajectory. Thank you EVAOverload!

Cathedral – The Serpent’s Gold More Doom! I’ve got most of Cathedral’s albums but this compilation has a great vibe to it and was really well put together so I still go back to it for a blast of bowel-quakingly heavy groove. And the bonus disc (The Serpent’s Treasures) has rarities!

KISS – Hot in the Shade Or H.I.T.S. (I wonder if that was on purpose…). This was the first new album to be released during my tenure as a fan and was hugely anticipated. It didn’t disappoint – I love everything about it to this day.

SONG OF THE FORTNIGHT Hold on to your bowels! It’s Cathedral.

[Cathedral – Autumn Twilight]

Single of the Week – Christmas Special!

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?

I love Christmas music and I really wanted to buy a Christmas single for this week’s Single of the Week.

I ended up trawling through four shop’s single sections and only managed to find one in the last shop I visited (Glasgow’s Record Fayre). I was hoping for maybe some Slade. Maybe Chris De Burgh’s awesome Spaceman Came Travelling or Greg Lake’s I Believe In Father Christmas… I ended up with something far more Metal. This classic from the Dark Master himself.

I’ll use this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

Cliff's Mistetoe and Wine and... oh look! There's Santa Stanley!
Cliff’s Mistetoe and Wine and… oh look! There’s Santa Stanley!

Amount spent on purchase: £1

Amount spent in total so far: £491

Christmas Came Early!

I always treat myself to a Box Set at Christmas (last year’s was Magnum’s The Gathering). A few weeks ago, the German label High Roller emailed me to announce they were doing a great pre-Xmas offer on the 7LP edition of Candlemass’ Doomology Box Set. Waves of molten serendipity washed over me!

The package turned up on Christmas Eve. It’s not every day you get to open a delivery like this and, as you can see from the photo below, it is a thing of wonder!

Ooohhh... nice package!
Ooohhh… nice package!

But the chaps at High Roller had packed an extra Christmas surprise for the HMOverlord…

I almost wish I’d filmed this for one of those “unboxing” videos. After I removed the Doomology set from the well-packed box I noticed that the bubblewrap packing had four extra CDs laid flat out in it. Knowing that the label often pack deliveries with empty vinyl sleeves to tempt you, I assumed they had just done a similar thing with some CD cases. Then I noticed they were shrinkwrapped… High Roller had sent me some gratis CDs out of the goodness of their massive hearts!

Free CDs!
Free CDs!

So in addition to the Candlemass set, I now have two CDs I know nothing about, a Tokyo Blade CD (I’ve heard of them at least… but that’s about it) and an Urchin CD! Yes, the band that featured a pre-Iron Maiden Adrian Smith on guitar and vocals. I already have this album on vinyl but I’m especially pleased to have it on CD now too. Especially since it didn’t cost me anything!

Not a bad haul for £40. I’m sure you’ll agree! Many thanks and Merry Christmas to the wonderful folk at High Roller.

Amount spent on purchase: £40

Amount spent in total so far: £490

Paradise Lost – Draconian Times MMXI (2DVD/CD)

A lovely set. Quite Christmassy looking... apart from the fetid skull.
A lovely set. Quite Christmassy looking! Apart from the skulls…

Been a while since I’ve watched any Music DVDs!

The 2011 reissue of Paradise Lost’s essential Draconian Times album prompted the band to play the album live in its entirety. This live DVD/CD box set documents the London stop on the tour.

Paradise Lost are usually a forward-looking band so it was a surprise to find them doing this kind of retro tour. On the basis of the show captured here, it worked out well. Draconian Times is quite a long album and I’ve always thought their recent set-lists have been a bit light on material from it. This opinion is clearly shared by the audience, whose obvious enthusiasm for this material seems to lift the band. PL play passionately throughout. Compared to their other DVD releases this concert has more oomph and more of a sense of occasion. It’s the best show I’ve seen them do and certainly the best DVD they’ve put out to date.

It took me a while to finally buy this because I felt I had enough live PL and I’m not normally a big fan of these “album” shows but it was much more enjoyable than I expected it to be. As well as the excellent gig, it’s got an extra DVD of fascinatingly drab behind the scenes footage and there are some interviews and promo videos too. The CD has the whole Draconian Times album played live with three non-Draconian songs added. Combined with lovely packaging and a booklet stuffed with contemporary reviews and articles this set is a must for fans of northern gloom!


Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 3rd December 2012

Marillion – Seasons End I thought this would be nice wintery fare but I just couldn’t get into it at all. Abandoned after Berlin, which is one of the better tracks. I really like this album but I just don’t seem to be in a Marillion mood much lately. Something a bit more fetid was required…

Vallenfyre – A Fragile King Paradise Lost guitarist/songwriter Greg Mackintosh formed this unexpected Death Metal side-project after his father passed away in 2009. The loss caused him to think back to his early band efforts (his Dad was a big supporter of his endeavours) and his Extreme Metal roots. Joined by friends and fellow members of Paradise Lost and My Dying Bride, A Fragile King is a surprisingly venomous and crusty blast of old-school Death Metal. The kind you didn’t think anyone made any more!

Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge This was the first Van Hagar album I got into and still my favourite. Judgement Day is especially potent if you listen to it before heading to work or the pub.

Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas – Not 4 Sale Along with Van Halen’s F.U.C.K. this album is a winter perennial. Word of warning: don’t listen to this one while walking home in heavy snowfall. A spring in your step and ice underfoot don’t mix (trust me: I ended up on my arse in the snow at Glasgow’s Bridge Street underground).

The Misfits – Box Set (Collection I) Everytime someone wears Misfits merchandise without actually having listened to their music… a kitten dies. This makes Danzig sad.

Queen – A Kind of Magic This is a game of two halves. The keyboard driven pop and George Michael-isms of Side A give way to the righteous glory of the Highlander tunes on Side B. My internal monologue sounds a lot like Princes of the Universe.

Manowar – Into Glory Ride Leather! Spikes! And chains… Manowar pound the concept of “the difficult second album” into the dirt with mighty hammers. Galloping trad Metal meets epic Doom on this Crom-approved classic.

Rollins Band – The Only Way to Know for Sure Thanks to Aaron for recommending this one. The best live album I’ve heard in a long time. Did you know that Henry Rollins has gasoline for breakfast and napalm for lunch which makes him hotter and hotter and hotter and hotter and hotter? I like porridge for that.

Aerosmith – Pandora’s Box This purchase was looonnngggg overdue. I’m glad I held out though because it’s just been reissued in a nice DVD sized book-style case. Much better than the jewel case version that was previously available – and it has a bigger book! I was starting to feel I had worn out 70s Aerosmith a tad but this has relit the flame. That makes it worth its weight in gold.

SONG OF THE WEEK: I can’t describe a song as sounding like my internal monologue without at least letting you hear it! Enjoy this special insight into my inner-workings…

[Queen – Princes of the Universe]

… and classic rock too!