Buying Round-Up – 21st November 2012

Haven’t done one of these bad-boys for a while! And I’ve got quite a backlog of purchases so there will be more where this came from…

Because you can never have too many Iron Maiden albums. Unless one of them is Virtual XI.

Iron Maiden – Rock in Rio and Flight 666 OST (£14 Fopp Glasgow)

I’ve been meaning to get Rock in Rio for a while. I never liked the DVD much but I’d been hearing good things about the album. Fopp got a bunch of Maiden albums in for just £7 each so I finally bought it and picked up the Flight 666 soundtrack CD while I was at it. Both are excellent but the Rio discs are a genuine surprise. I don’t know how the people filming the show managed to suck the life out of what was such an obviously excellent performance. But they did!

I’m always a sucker for a bonus DVD… and big wooden cow things.

Mastodon – The Hunter(CD/DVD) and Live at the Aragon(CD/DVD) (£10 Amazon Marketplace)

I seem to have gone a wee bit cold on Mastodon lately but I was enjoying Leviathan a while back and decided to finally catch up on their more recent releases. Not bad prices for the CD/DVD editions but I’m still not quite in the mood for these. Their time will come I’m sure.

Not even in 3D or nuffin’

KISS – Monster (LP) (£14 HMV Glasgow)

The masters of merchandise could’ve put a bit more effort into this vinyl edition. Not including an inner sleeve with credits, photos or lyrics seems a bit lazy. Great album… I wish I’d just plumped for the CD though.

Must be one of those “Incredible Journey” things.

Blackfoot – Strikes, Tomcattin’ and Marauder (£10 Record Fayre Glasgow)

I’ve had these albums for ages on CD but the LPs have always been on my hit-list. Managed to get them all in a one-stop shop at Record Fayre and the nice chap gave me the three for a round tenner. Yee haw!

Bit perplexed by the unusual Isa cover… think it might be a Russian edition. Anyone?

Enslaved – Isa and Ruun (£14 Amazon Marketplace)

I’ve been on a real Black Metal kick lately. Must be the wintery prospect of the encroaching grim permafrost. It’s not the normal cover for Isa but I quite like it! Black

The English countryside. Remarkably free of grim permafrost.

Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph (£9 HMV Glasgow)

This excellent album is one of the surprises of 2012 and also the first album I bought as a result of a review in the excellent new UK magazine Iron Fist! Iron Fist is well worth picking up if you’re into the more extreme end of Metal, it’s really in-depth and has a great old-school fanzine feel to it.

Triple gatefold Prog odyssey!

Yes – Yessongs (£8 Discogs)

Breathtaking live album and what a lovely object! Missing the booklet but it’s in good shape, didn’t break the bank and the vinyl is clean. It sounds amazing and I’m totally delighted with it. YES!

 

Amount spent on purchases: £79

Amount spent in total so far: £427

Yessongs. Cosmic.

 

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Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 5th November 2012

Enslaved – Isa Enslaved’s albums always seem a bit impenetrable but every now and then they throw you a catchy bone like the insistent and classy Return to Yggdrasill. Immortal main man Abbath (master of the entertaining and useless instructional guitar video) also turns up to add his excellent croak to the opening track.

Judas Priest – Angel of Retribution I had an unexpected notion to listen to this and half-suspected I’d change my mind a few songs in. How wrong I was! This is a great album and brings together a lot of styles from throughout their career. The most pleasant surprise was how much I enjoyed Loch Ness. I’m not quite sure what a skirl is though… oh wait, apparently it’s the noise bagpipes make. Does Nessie play bagpipes?!

Winterfylleth – The Threnody of Triumph Probably the last new music I’ll buy now until 2013 (having written off Aerosmith’s latest) and a great album to end the year with. British Black Metal with a great pastoral folky feel running through it.

Metallica – Unnamed Feeling (EP) A bumper selection of live tracks circa St. Anger. Some great selections like Hit the Lights and Motorbreath and it’s enjoyable without being totally convincing.

Paradise Lost – Tragic Idol I’m still underwhelmed with this follow up to Faith Divides Us, Death Unites Us but this is growing on me with every listen. I think it might be time for a rethink in the PL camp though. Time for a bit of reinvention.

Van Halen – A Different Kind of Truth Brilliant comeback album from VH and Dave Lee Roth. A rare example of a modern Rock album not having the life produced out of it. A Different Kind of Truth crackles like it’s hot off the press, sounding like they just cranked it out and let it be. Comeback of the year.

David Lee Roth – The Best Enjoyed VH so much I fancied a bit of Roth solo. This compilation is a great place to start if you’re unfamiliar with Dave’s solo stuff. I listen to this when I’m on the move and have most of his albums on vinyl for when I’m at home. I especially rate Big Trouble. It’s one of the most remarkable songs I’ve ever heard and ‘“tonight we’re Rocketeers” said Mouse’!

Fleetwood Mac – Blues Collection Great collection of live Mac. Taken from the Boston recordings that keep surfacing in different releases. This version has my favourite selection and running order. Priest’s take on Mac’s Green Manalishi (with the Two-Pronged Crown) is great but doesn’t summon up even a fraction of the dread that their version does.

V/A – Metal for Muthas Legendary NWOBHM compilation featuring very early Iron Maiden recordings. There are a few other notable bands on here too, namely Angel Witch, Praying Mantis and Samson. It’s clear that Iron Maiden were a cut above the rest from an early stage even if their business acumen wasn’t as well developed. It’s hard to imagine the band, later in their career,  agreeing to appear on an album alongside Ethel the Frog and Toad the Wet Sprocket.

SONG OF THE WEEK I can’t describe a song as being “one of the most remarkable I’ve ever heard” and not make that Song of the Week so here is David Lee Roth’s Big Trouble from the excellent compilation The Best and also his classic debut solo record Eat ‘Em and Smile. It’s totally magical and I never get tired of hearing it.

[Dave Lee Roth – Big Trouble]

 

Single of the Week: The Black Crowes – One Mirror Too Many

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?

One Mirror Too Many CD Single

First up: the CD Single of One Mirror Too Many, a track from The Black Crowes Three Snakes and One Charm album. I’ve always liked that album and was excited to discover two hitherto unheard tracks – Pimper’s Paradise (a Bob Marley cover) and Somebody’s On Your Case (the sleeve credits don’t seem to know who wrote this). And all for the HMO-friendly price of just 50p. Can’t even get a Fry’s Orange Creme for that!

One of these songs is doing its own thing…

Pimper’s Paradise is great laid-back stuff and the perfect backdrop for Chris Robinson’s excellent voice. Unfortunately, Somebody’s On Your Case has been mis-labelled on the cover and is actually Mellow Down Easy which I already have as a bonus track on the Three Snakes album. A quick root around on the interweb reveals Somebody’s On Your Case to be a soulful Starsky and Hutch-style affair. Sounded great! Shame it’s not on this… Maybe if the CD compilers had actually known what song this actually was they could have found out who wrote it? But let us not be down-hearted. Onwards and upwards, tally-ho and all that good stuff.

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 29th October 2012

Alice Cooper – Killer One of the HMOverlord’s Top-20 albums of all-time and the best of the enviable run of amazing records that the classic line-up put out from Love it to Death to Billion Dollar Babies. Anyone reading this blog that hasn’t heard this album should remedy that forthwith.

Rod Stewart – Every Picture Tells a Story and Never a Dull Moment  Good old Rod’s got his book out so he’s been getting lots of press attention. He has also been greetin‘ at the fitba. I’ve seen a couple of articles imploring everyone to cast their minds back to the time when Rod was God. Any inquiry into Rod’s godliness should involve listening to these two 70s classics. Praise Rod!

Twisted Sister – Under the Blade (Secret Records version) I talked about this last week. This is the HMO-approved original mix of Twisted’s debut album.

Riot – Narita and Riot: Live Two brilliant albums from the US should’ve-beens. Narita is one of those Rock Candy reissues I like so much. Great guitar and songwriting and Guy Speranza’s vocals are fantastic. Listen to tracks like Kick Down the Walls and Road Racin’ and marvel at Riot’s lack of success. It’s a sad fact that sheer talent is just not enough. (Check this post out if you want to hear a splendid live performance of Road Racin’)

Sodom- Obsessed By Cruelty On the subject of talent… German Thrash/Black Metal giants Sodom happily operated in a sphere where talent wasn’t even necessary! They were offered a record deal with the words “you guys are so shit I have to sign you”. Pure, primitive savagery was the order of the day here and Sodom’s raw assault launched a trillion corpse-painted devotees. And rightly so.

Black Sabbath – Headless Cross Great album from the undervalued Tony Martin-era of the Sabs. I’ve had to rely on an mp3 copy of this. Hopefully this will get a well-deserved reissue soon or maybe I’ll be able to buy a reasonably priced copy on eBay when no-one’s looking. A vinyl copy is top of my wish-list.

Robert Plant – Fate of Nations One of my favourite albums of Plant’s career and that includes the Zep stuff. Although, I have to say, I do consider the last two songs optional. They’re not bad but I’m usually done by the time they roll round.

Manowar – Lord of Steel (Retail version) So good I bought it twice, having already bought the “Hammer Edition” that came out earlier in the year. I’m usually a bit stingy for this sort of behaviour but Manowar are special. The new mix is more grandiose sounding than the Hammer mix and has more studio bells and whistles. Both versions are very different and both are worth having. The extra song The Kingdom of Steel on the Retail edition is very welcome, being the kind of sweeping Manoballad that the Hammer version missed.

Bathory – Under the Sign of the Black Mark Like Sodom’s Obsessed By Cruelty, this is a seminal work of early Black Metal and a must-have for anyone interested in the genre. By the time the infamous Norwegian “Second Wave” started making headlines, Bathory had arguably already done it all.

The Dictators – Every Day is Saturday Excellent compilation of unreleased demos and radio spots from the NY band’s career. Many of the versions here are considered superior to those that would subsequently end up on their albums. I only have this and Go Girl Crazy so I can’t really comment on that but it is a great album. The esteemed Martin Popoff rates the band’s later albums and they can be got pretty cheaply over here so I should get round to buying them soon.

SONG OF THE WEEK I’ve chosen Black Sabbath’s Kill in the Spirit World. Probably not the best introduction to the Headless Cross album but… do you know that way when you’re walking around the shops listening to music and a song comes on that totally puts a spring in your step and makes you feel like you’re in an amazing movie about how amazing you are? This song made that happen.

[Black Sabbath – Kill in the Spirit World]

Noise-some Notes – A Week in Listening 22nd October 2012

Remixes seem to be a theme this week. It’s not intentional I promise!

Gillan – Double Trouble (Studio Side) Loving this intense and focused album. Let’s face it, if you’re going to open an album with a song called I’ll Rip Your Spine Out then it better be good. Interestingly, every time I hear the word “focused” in my head it’s Michael Schenker’s voice I hear saying it.

Whitesnake – Slide It In (US Remix) Hmm. I like the UK version of Slide It In and I like the US version. But which is better? There’s only one way to find out… FIGHT!!!

KISS – Monster Still enjoying this one. Having lived with it for a while, Take Me Down Below is a real grower (being the best song Slade never wrote). The only negatives here are the sub-Dictators chorus of Back to the Stone Age and the clunky “I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Independence” line in Freak. These are minor quibbles but… better out than in!

Twisted Sister – Under the Blade (80s Remix) Mike and Aaron’s record-shopping trip to Toronto turned up an LP of the remixed version of Twisted Sister’s debut album which got me wondering which version I actually have. Happily, it turned out I have both (having unwittingly downloaded the remix from Amazon). The remix tries to replicate the dumb, fun Glam Rock style that Twisted Sister hit paydirt with but I don’t feel the sound is a good fit for the songs whereas the original mix sounds gnarly and brutal like the underground Metal classic it is!

Manowar – The Lord of Steel (Hammer Edition) Manowar’s new album was released exclusively as part of a Metal Hammer fan-pack earlier in the year. It’s their best effort in years, a back-to-basics mix of classic Metal with a hint of Rock N’ Roll. Well, the album has since been subjected to further tinkering and remixing and now the “Retail Edition” has been unleashed on an unsuspecting world. I listened to the “Hammer Edition” this week so that it would be fresh in my mind when I got the new version. Stand and face The Lord of Steel! And clench your bum… the bass sound here is bowel-loosening!

Iron Maiden – Fear of the Dark LeBrain and KeepsMeAlive have both been doing great reviews of the Maiden catalogue from start to finish. I felt inspired to revisit this one as I realised I hadn’t listened to it for ages. There are a few songs in the second half that are better than I remember but, if I’m being honest, only the title-track would have earned a place on any of the Adrian Smith-era Maiden albums that came before and after.

Blackfoot – Strikes and Tomcattin’ Both of these are absolutely essential. Strikes is the band’s breakthrough album and features the classic Highway Song (every Southern Rock act needs a Freebird and this is Blackfoot’s). It’s a great late-night album of laid-back, bluesy Rock. With their next album, Tomcattin’, Blackfoot had Metallized their sound significantly and it’s far more hard-hitting. When you hear tracks like Warped, On the Run and Every Man Should Know (Queenie) it’s no surprise that this band won a strong following in the NWOBHM-obsessed UK of the early 80s.

SONG OF THE WEEK A new feature at HMO! I’m going to pick the stand-out track from the week and post it here for your delectation. This week it’s Blackfoot’s Warped. I loved going back to Tomcattin’ and this raucous opener is a standout song from an awesome album. Hope you like it… and keep an eye out for the Rock Candy reissues coming soon!

[Blackfoot – Warped]

Gillan – The Glory Years DVD (Review)

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!

HMO Rating: 3.5 out of 5

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.

… and classic rock too!