Rat Race: Child’s Play

5276066_f496Rating: 90%

In 1990, Baltimore, Maryland’s own Child’s Play released their second album, but first major record “Rat Race.” There was such a great set musicians and musicianship. It featured Brian Jack on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, lead guitarist Nicky Kay, bassist Idzi, and drummer & vocalist John Allen. To me, Child’s Play is such an under rated band, it’s a shame that the Grunge era forced this band to be dropped from their label.

Musically, this band, although not a Glam or Hair Metal band to, got thrown in with the likes of that genre. The album begins with such a great tune that leads into the second song. They’re just all around great sounding Hard Rock songs. “My Bottle” has this very Bluest introduction that is followed by an awesome riff. Wind is not really a ballad, but some will call it that. It’s an acoustical piece. Drummer John Allen performs the lead vocals on the “Evicted” as well as “Rat Race.” “Rat Race” also has a bit of Punk influence which makes that song really sound good.

No song on here is the same and therefore, it’s well balanced and such a good listen. It has plenty of sharp leads and riffs to go along with the tempo and melody.

Track listing:

Good Ol’ Rock n’ Roll

Day After Night

My Bottle

Rat Race



Knock Me Out

Girl Like You

Bang Bang

Pay Your Dues

Damned If You Do

When Hell Freezes Over


Cool Kids: Kix

Rating: 85%

Kix-CoolKids1983 saw the return of Kix with their second album “Cool Kids.” Although, this album features a more of a New Wave style and is more commercialized, I really dig it from the time I first heard it way back then. I have had the cassette and CD versions of this album, but when i found the vinyl, I had to grab it.

Musically, this album isn’t nearly as hard rocking as their debut. It does have strong chorus lines, beefy riffs and sweet leads. That is what Kix was always known for. But what Kix does here is add other styles of music into their blend and experiments with it. The New Wave sound with all of the synths and the Pop Rock sound is perfectly balanced as to not take away from the tongue in cheek cheesy & riddled lyrics and hard hitting music. But I must admit, it is quirky. But, it worked on this album. And because of that, this album is very underrated.

You have one of the best front man of Hard Rock on lead vocals and his name is Steve Whiteman. He also plays the harmonica and saxophone. Replacing Ronnie Younkins is Wrathchild Americas bassist Brad Divens on guitars. He also is the talk box on “Body Talk.” You also have lead guitarist Brian “Damage” Forsythe. Keyboardist and bassist Donnie Purnell and drummer Jimmy “Chocolate” Chalfant finish out the tempo and rhythm sections of the band. 

Track listing:

“Burning Love” – 3:07
“Cool Kids” – 3:28
“Love Pollution” – 4:04
“Body Talk” – 3:39
“Loco-Emotion”  – 3:30
“Mighty Mouth” – 3:43
“Nice on Ice” – 3:25
“Get Your Monkeys Out”  – 3:20
“For Shame” – 3:11
“Restless Blood” – 3:50

Flirtin’ with Disaster: Molly Hatchet

Rating: 90%

Molly_Hatchet_-_Flirtin'_with_Disaster.jpg1979 was the year for Molly Hatchet with the release of their second album “Flirtin’ with Disaster.” The one thing you’ll notice is the song structures are much heavier than their debut a year earlier. The musicianship is much tighter. Vocalist Danny Joe Brown sounds, oh so good behind that mic. The barrage of guitars of  Dave Hlubek,  Steve Holland, and Duane Roland are much more distorted and is what makes this album sound much heavier. The bass of Banner Thomas and drums of Bruce Crump are keeping a more faster tempo and rhythm which is what makes this album great. 

Musically, you have a more Hard Rock influence with tons of Blues and a dash of Funk and Country. There’s plenty of ass kicking riffs and guitar solos. I love the raspy and whiskey drenched vocals. This album is just a super hard hitter from start to finish, making Molly Hatchet a force to be reckoned with in the South.

Track listing:

Whiskey Man 3:38
It’s All Over Now 3:40
One Man’s Pleasure 3:25
Jukin’ City 3:49
Boogie No More 6:05
Flirtin’ With Disaster 4:56
Good Rockin’ 3:16
Gunsmoke 3:10
Long Time 3:16
Let The Good Times Roll 2:56

American Stars ‘n Bars: Neil Young

Rating: 100%

American_Stars'n'Bars1977 and after scraping the Homegrown project, Neil Young released some of that material on “American Stars ‘n Bars.” This outstanding record is among one of my favorite Neil Young records. So you when I saw this on vinyl, I quickly picked it up. His backing band Crazy Horse is aided by the Bullet Band.

The result, is an record that pulls from the heaviness of Crazy Horse, mixing with Country Rock and a tad bit of Folk. That equals an album that is super raw, rich, tuneful, and melodious. I love the harmony and the feel of the tempo. It’s both sloppy and simple. The vocal work on the chorus is amazing. This is one of those albums that could have been one big hit. Although, as time has gone by “Like A Hurricane” is the one song that has stood the decades and has been a favorite at concerts.

The musicianship is at it’s best. From the steel guitar to the fiddle for that Country sound to the heaviness of riffs and lead solos that we call Hard Rock. It’s all well balanced and all accounted for here.

Track listing:

A1 The Old Country Waltz
A2 Saddle Up The Palomino
A3 Hey Babe
A4 Hold Back The Tears
A5 Bite The Bullet
B1 Star Of Bethlehem
B2 Will To Love
B3 Like A Hurricane
B4 Homegrown

Metal Health: Quiet Riot

Rating: 85%

MetalHealthQuietRiotSo, what do you do when your guitarist Randy Rhoads leaves for Ozzy? Well, you get yourself another and write an anthem. That’s exactly what happened here. Although, I am not a big fan, I do appreciate this album. The reason is because of three songs. “Metal Health”, “Cum On Feel The Noize”, and “Breathless” are all great songs from the early 1980’s. They all feature these monstrous riffs, guitars solos, and gritty vocals. Not to mention the anthem that many teens of the gathered around and that was “Metal Health.”

Musically, this album is powerful, energetic, rich, and well balanced. It features all of these outstanding guitar riffs, vocals, and big chorus lines that focus more on harmony. Yes, it’s well polished, but this was one of the first Heavy Metal records that just destroyed the airwaves.

Kevin DuBrow whose pipes as gritty as they are, can really hit some of those higher notes. Filling in some mighty big shoes was guitarist Carlos Cavazo. He was the perfect replacement for Randy Rhoads. His really shreds those guitar strings. Bassist Rudy Sarzo really provides some outstanding harmonies and rhythms that compliments drummer Frankie Banali. 

So, I have admit it and now you have to do the same, this record helped to shape 1980’s Heavy Metal to make it become a style, a culture, and a fad.

Track listing:

A1 Metal Health 5:16
A2 Cum On Feel The Noize 4:49
A3 Don’t Wanna Let You Go 4:39
A4 Slick Black Cadillac 4:17
A5 Love’s A Bitch 4:06
B1 Breathless 3:49
B2 Run For Cover 3:38
B3 Battle Axe 1:34
B4 Let’s Get Crazy 4:06
B5 Thunderbird
Backing Vocals 4:43

A Different Kind Of Truth: Van Halen

Rating: 90%

Van_Halen_-_A_Different_Kind_of_TruthSo, 2012 was the year it really happened! What was it? A new Van Halen album with the classic line up. It was the reunion of Eddie & Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth, minus Michael Anthony on bass. He was replaced with the 16 year old Wolfgang Van Halen. But still, Roth and Van Halen back together and cranking it up and tearing it apart. No more Van Hagar.

I have always liked Van Halen with David Lee Roth as the front man. He added the excitement to the music. He was the man back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. Then, change happened and they went love music or the type of music one would listen to while sitting on the beach watching the sun set. That was the Sammy Hagar years. While, David Lee Roth went solo with some great musicians, his solo wasn’t the same. Both bands became average without the other.

Musically, this album picks up where “1984” left off. It’s got that guitar driving force of Eddie Van Halen, tearing up and shredding those strings. He sounds just as good today, as he did then, considering what he went through with his drug issues. The guitar work just sounds good and it’s explosive. It’s fast and the hammer ons just scream. I always love to hear the leads as riffs. That was what made Eddie Van Halen a top notch guitarist.

Joining his father and uncle is the young talented Wolfgang Van Halen who, just like his father, is tearing up the strings, but on bass. Making this a family affair now. He adds a lot of harmony to his fathers guitar work. Shredding up the skins is drummer Alex Van Halen. He is just on fire with those sticks. David Lee Roth, has past his prime as a vocalist, but knows his range and stays with what he can do. The end result? His vocals are pretty good. I always liked how Roth did the vocal as well as the conversational style vocals.

My only complaint is that some of the lyrics are a bit cheesy. “Tattoo” is among that realm of cheesiness. Then you have the cheesy lyrics and sloppy song structure of “Honeybabysweetiedoll.” But, the explosive guitar licks does make up for a sloppy song. Other than that, the music and songs just rock! This is as Rock n’ Roll as you’re gonna get in this day in age. This is about as classic Van Halen you’re gonna get.

Track listing:

1. “Tattoo” 4:44
2. “She’s the Woman” 2:56
3. “You and Your Blues” 3:43
4. “China Town” 3:14
5. “Blood and Fire” 4:26
6. “Bullethead” 2:30
7. “As Is” 4:47
8. “Honeybabysweetiedoll” 3:46
9. “The Trouble with Never” 3:59
10. “Outta Space” 2:53
11. “Stay Frosty” 4:07
12. “Big River” 3:50
13. “Beats Workin'” 5:02

Forbidden: Black Sabbath

Rating: 60%

Forbidden“Forbidden” was released in 1995 by Heavy Metal greats Black Sabbath. Needless to say, this album flopped! Not much thought went into this album as some of the riffs are borrowed from previous albums. Black Sabbath just seems to be releasing an album just to get their name back out there again. Teaming up with Ice T really didn’t do anything for them. The biggest flaw on this album is the final production and quality of the sound. It’s not the greatest. Which is a shame, because I really do like the Tony Martin era. After this album, Tony Iommi was ready to that reunion with a new album that would eventually come out in 2013.

Musically, the album has good points to it. The sound is a bit heavier than previous works with Tony Martin. But, the song structures are just not that spectacular. Even the melodies and harmony just seem to be lacking. The album just doesn’t seem to be as tight as it could’ve been.

It does have some decent leads and some good riffs from Tony Iommi on guitar. Tony Martin’s vocals seem to be a tad bit weak. Neil Murray on bass and Cozy Powell couldn’t even save the tempos, the rhythm, or the melodies. What’s there to save when the material is being barrowed from other albums? Also Geoff Nicholls played keyboard? I might have missed that one. Really didn’t hear much of his work on this album.

Track listing:

1. “The Illusion of Power” (featuring Ice-T) 4:51
2. “Get a Grip” 3:58
3. “Can’t Get Close Enough” 4:27
4. “Shaking Off the Chains” 4:02
5. “I Won’t Cry for You” 4:47
6. “Guilty as Hell” 3:27
7. “Sick and Tired” 3:29
8. “Rusty Angels” 5:00
9. “Forbidden” 3:47
10. “Kiss of Death” 6:06