Change of Address: Krokus

Rating: 50%

Change_cover.jpgIn 1986, during the rise of Glam and Hair Metal, Krokus released their ninth record. I think that Krokus was more or less trying to jump on the band wagon of the Pop music disguising it as Glam Rock. I don’t think this experiment worked at all.

Musically, this album has it moments, but it’s rather shapeless and can be a tad bit bland. There is no drive to it. Words can not describe the opening Pop sounding drum intro to the entire album with song number one. After the band comes in, it’s almost as if I was listening to the soundtrack of “Top Gun.” So, Krokus fans beware, this album is a Pop Rock mixed with Glam Rock album from start to finish. Lot’s of keyboards effects and ballads.

The musicianship for being what the music is, is good. I will admit that. Marc Storace’s vocals are good. The riffs are a bit weak, but the guitars of Fernando von Arb and Mark Kohler is OK. The rest of the rhythm section consisting of bassist Tommy Keiser and drummer Jeff Klaven provides the necessary tempo and melody to make this album work. 

Track listing:

Side one

“Now (All Through the Night)” – 4:23
“Hot Shot City” – 3:48
“School’s Out” (Alice Cooper) – 3:16
“Let This Love Begin” – 5:02
“Burning Up the Night”  – 3:46

Side two

“Say Goodbye” – 5:18
“World on Fire” – 6:12
“Hard Luck Hero” – 4:12
“Long Way from Home” – 5:06

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Rock Or Bust: AC/DC

Rating: 80%

Rock_or_Bust.jpgIn 2014, AC/DC releases their shortest and most likely their last studio album, “Rock Or Bust.” This album is also the first without guitarist Malcolm Young, who was unable to record due to his ill health (R.I.P. 2017). In fact, the tour that would support this album also lost two more members, vocalist Brian Johnson due to hearing loss and drummer Phil Rudd who flew off the deep end with drugs and putting out a hit on his wife. During the tour, bassist Cliff Williams came out and stated he would retire when the tour was over. So, this album and tour was doomed from the beginning in some ways. Which is a damn shame!!!

Now, when I first heard this album, I hated it. The sound to me was bland and the music was dull. After listening to it recently, I really noticed several good points. I thought to myself and said “it’s not that bad after all.” So, let me break this down.

The album itself, musically is rich and Bluesy. It’s all about Rock n’ Roll here. It’s got some very beefy chorus lines on most of the songs. It has a very clean and polished overall sound to it. It’s almost as this is not an AC/DC record at all. The tempos are much faster and that power drive that was lacking from “Black Ice” is back. The entire album is very well thought out.  The song structures on the guitar side is more complex, which makes the rhythm very interesting. The leads are great. The other rhythm section such as the drums are among the best I’ve heard on an AC/DC album released in the 2000’s. Another thing I noticed is the bass. We have some very good bass lines here.

The musicianship is very good. Although, Brian Johnson’s vocals are pretty worn out, he does give a nice delivery and stays in his current range. The guitar work of Angus Young and his nephew Stevie Young is good. That might be why the music is a lot different.  Drummer Phil Rudd and bassist Cliff Williams, both provide some outstanding rhythm sections. It’s very strong.

Track listing:

1. “Rock or Bust” 3:03
2. “Play Ball” 2:47
3. “Rock the Blues Away” 3:24
4. “Miss Adventure” 2:57
5. “Dogs of War” 3:35
6. “Got Some Rock & Roll Thunder” 3:22
7. “Hard Times” 2:44
8. “Baptism by Fire” 3:30
9. “Rock the House” 2:42
10. “Sweet Candy” 3:09
11. “Emission Control” 3:41

Black Ice: AC/DC

Black_ice_redRating: 70%

So, after an eight year hiatus, AC/DC returned with their fifteenth record “Black Ice” released in 2008. I was really looking forward to this album’s release. The first play through, I found it hard to swallow. For the second time, I was listening to an AC/DC record that I didn’t really care for. The first was “Fly on the Wall” released in 1985. So why was it a letdown?

I felt musically, this album could have been a bit more exciting than what it is. It’s got several good songs that have a wonderful tempo, sound, rhythm, and melody. But it’s missing that power drive. In some cases, I find myself fast forwarding to the next song. Then, it feels as if the next song is still the same pervious song. So, to me, this album is heavy with filler.

The good points to this album are the opening two tracks “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train” and “Skies on Fire.” After that, the album takes a nose dive until tracks 9 and 10. It’s like tracks 3 through 8 just lack that drive AC/DC is known for. It’s almost boring. Track 10 is totally different than any other AC/DC song. There’s no lead, but Angus is playing slide. So, out of 15 tracks, I really like four of them. It’s almost as if these songs were the tracks left out of the previous two records.

The musicianship is excellent. It’s the original band that recorded “Black In Black, but then again, it would be the last album to feature that line up. You have Angus Young on lead guitar as well as slide guitar on “Stormy May Day.” You got Malcolm Young on guitar, Brian Johnson on vocals, bassist Cliff Williams, and drummer Phil Rudd. There’s some nice riffs and leads, but it’s just not enough for me. Brian’s vocals seem strained and old, but for the most part, he’s in a decent range.  They still have a lot of creativity, but like other bands that have been around for over 40 years, they seem to get into a rut and stay in that comfy zone. Maybe that’s what AC/DC is doing here?

Track listing:

  1. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Train” 4:21
  2. “Skies on Fire” 3:34
  3. “Big Jack” 3:57
  4. “Anything Goes” 3:22
  5. “War Machine” 3:09
  6. “Smash ‘n’ Grab” 4:06
  7. “Spoilin’ for a Fight” 3:17
  8. “Wheels” 3:28
  9. “Decibel” 3:34
  10. “Stormy May Day” 3:10
  11. “She Likes Rock ‘n’ Roll” 3:53
  12. “Money Made” 4:15
  13. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Dream” 4:41
  14. “Rocking All the Way” 3:22
  15. “Black Ice” 3:25

See You In Hell: Grim Reaper

Rating: 90%

GrimreaperseeyouinhellIn 1983, riding the New Wave of British Heavy Metal tide was the band called Grim Reaper with their debut release. Nowadays, not many people remember these guys unless their a die hard fan of Heavy Metal. When growing up, I had two of their albums on cassette and today, i have their greatest hits on CD. So, when I saw this gem at the record for $16.00, I had to buy it.

Grim Reaper is made of vocalist Steve Grimmett, guitarist Nick Bowcott, bassist Dave Wanklin, and drummer Lee Harris. The musicianship is extremely good. It’s got some very strong vocal work. Steve can really hit those high notes with his pipes. Nick on guitars throws out some great riffs and leads. The opening track is proof of that. The rhythm section is also very good. The band is full of harmony and melody which is really good. 

Musically, there’s plenty of fast paced tempos, original and rich melodies. This album is proof that 1980’s Heavy Metal was a great time and place to live, even though today, not too many people may have even heard of Grim Reaper or remember who they were.

Track listing:

Side one
“See You in Hell” – 4:18
“Dead on Arrival” – 4:34
“Liar” – 2:49
“Wrath of the Ripper” – 3:14

Side two
“Now or Never” – 2:53
“Run for Your Life” – 3:42
“The Show Must Go On” – 7:26
“All Hell Let Loose” – 4:25

Better Than the Rest: George Thorogood and the Destroyers

Rating: 85%

BetterThantheRestThis album was recorded in 1974, but was later released in 1979 as the third album once Thorogood had become better known. It was released in 1986 as “Nadine” which I had on CD.

George Thorogood sounds very raw vocally on this album. That may be due to the fact that this recording was when he was younger. His guitar playing is electrifying. The rhythm section consisting of bassist Michael Levine (whom the album is dedicate to), and drummer Jeff Simon really showcase some very nice melodies.

Although, none of the songs are written by Thorogood, he does have a way of making these songs his. Because of that, the only negative thing I have to say is the album is unoriginal. With that being said, all of the positive things I can say is that the album is raw, tuneful, and melodious. Vocally, it’s very raspy and raw. George has a very distinctive voice. 

All and all, when I found this in the record shop for $6.00, I have to by to it. This album was the last studio album I need for my vinyl collection aside from “Live”.

Track listing:

“In the Night Time” (Michael Henderson, Sylvester Rivers) – 3:08
“I’m Ready” (Willie Dixon) – 2:46
“Goodbye Baby” (Joe Josea, Jules Taub, Sam Ling) – 3:08
“Howlin for My Darling” (Dixon, Howlin’ Wolf) – 3:24
“My Weakness” (Vetter Smith, Wilson) – 2:26
“Nadine” (Chuck Berry) – 4:03
“My Way” (Eddie Cochran, Jerry Capehart) – 1:56
“You’re Gonna Miss Me” (Eddie Jones) – 2:14
“Worried About My Baby” (Wolf) – 3:29
“Huckle Up Baby” (Bernard Besman, John Lee Hooker) – 2:24

Roscoe’s Gang: Eric Ambel

Rating: 95%

eric.jpgIn 1988, Eric Ambel released his first solo record. For those who never heard of his music, think back to 1981 with Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.” He was the guitarist on that album. He has also worked with Steve Earle in recent years. For me, I happened to stumble across this cassette shortly after it’s release.

I was blown away by the quality of the music. Eric proves that he can play Rock n’ Roll, Country, and Blues. He has a decent enough voice to carry a tune, and also proves to be a great lead guitarist. His voice is distinctive and some may be turned off by it. The entire rhythm section with bassist Lou “Alou” Whitney, drummer Ron “Wrongo” Gremp, and guitarist Donnie “D.C.” Thompson really produce some great tempos and melodies. Also pianist Joe “Planet” Terry proves that his keys are on fire when needed.

Musically, this is close to a Neil Young style guitar mixed with Georgia Satellites Band blended with Steve Earle. That’s why it’s hard to classify this into a single genre of music.  One minute, the sound can be heavy and Bluesy and the next minute it can be soft and sound along the lines of Country or Rockabilly. It’s very creative, sharp, full, and rich. The song writing is the same way. It’s very powerful. I love full backing vocals.

Track listing:

If You Gotta Go, Go Now 2:59
Total Destruction To Your Mind 4:27
The Girl That I Ain’t Got 0:50
Forever Came Today 3:25
30 Days In The Workhouse 3:08
Power Lounger Theme 3:24
Don’t Wanna Be Your Friend 4:02
I Waited For You 3:01
Next To The Last Waltz 1:57
Loose Talk 3:56
You Must Have Me Confused 4:10
Vampire Blues 2:28

Stiff Upper Lip: AC/DC

Rating: 85%

Stiff_Upper_LipAC/DC released “Stiff Upper Lip” in 2000 as their thirteenth record in the U.S. Musically, this album is a continuation of their previous album “Ballbreaker.” But this album is slightly better with regards to song and sound quality.

Musically, this album is very Blusey with soul but with a tad bit more of the Hard Rock. The tempos are again, much slower loosing that powerful raw edge AC/DC is known for. However, the music itself is original, rich, and full. It has plenty of complex riffs and great solos. There is a lot of great guitar work on this album that I thought was missing from the previous album. One thing you’ll notice is the stronger drumming and bass lines. Also, the guitars are more melodic. There’s a lot of harmony too. The rhythm section by drummer Phil Rudd, bassist Cliff Williams, and rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young is stronger than ever.  Add in the leading elements of vocalist Brian Johnson and the lead guitar of Angus Young and you have what AC/DC has been all about since it’s creation. A band that can play great Rock n’ Roll music.

Track listing:

1. “Stiff Upper Lip” 3:34
2. “Meltdown” 3:41
3. “House of Jazz” 3:56
4. “Hold Me Back” 3:59
5. “Safe in New York City” 3:59
6. “Can’t Stand Still” 3:41
7. “Can’t Stop Rock ‘n’ Roll” 4:02
8. “Satellite Blues” 3:46
9. “Damned” 3:52
10. “Come and Get It” 4:02
11. “All Screwed Up” 4:36
12. “Give It Up” 3:54