Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell: Social Distortion

Rating: 90%

Social_Distortion_-_Somewhere_Between_Heaven_and_Hell_cover1992 was the year that “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” by Social D was released. The album features some very talented musicians. The musicianship is incredible. Lead vocalist and lead guitarist Mike Ness whose voice is whiskey drench sings the blues or country and punk as if those genres were created for him. His leads and riffs are so precise. Rhythm guitarist Dennis Danell throws out such good riffs. He actually compliments Mike Ness’s style. Plenty of great bass by John Maurer. The drum lines by Christopher Reece are wonderfully done.

Musically, this album is rock solid from start to finish. It flows very well. The influences from Punk, Country, Blues, Rock n’ Roll, and Rockabilly are  so balanced. It’s heavy, but it could be played on any radio station no matter the genre. It’s very energetic and powerful. Everything in so in tuned here from the melodies to the harmony of the instruments to the vocals.

Track listing:

“Cold Feelings” – 3:31
“Bad Luck” – 4:26
“Making Believe” (Jimmy Work) – 4:12
“Born to Lose” – 4:09
“Bye Bye Baby” – 3:06
“When She Begins” – 5:04
“99 to Life” – 4:28
“King of Fools” (W.E. Bruce) – 2:50
“Sometimes I Do” – 4:01
“This Time Darlin’ ” – 4:08
“Ghost Town Blues” – 4:38

Hell, Sweet Hell: The Hellfreaks

Rating: 80%

r-3639021-1338405574-1039-jpegIn 2010, Hungarian band the Hellfreaks released their debut record called “Hell, Sweet Hell.” This is their attempt at Psychobilly and Horror Punk. For the most part, their aim is pretty good. The music is enjoyable and sounds like the HorrorPops meets Hank III and Rev. Horton Heat.

The album credits as far as the musicians are concern, you have vocalist Shakey Sue, guitarist Freaky Tiki, bassist Bloody Holly, stand up bassist Kevin Crime, and drummers Willy Cruel and Sick Rick.  The musicianship is very good.

Musically, there’s lot’s of harmony, lot’s of great melodies. The stand up bass is excellent. I love hearing the rap-pa-tap- of the bass. With regards to the guitars, there’s lot’s of fast riffs, and some good lead solos. There’s a lot of good tempos being set by the drummer and I love hearing that double bass. The female vocals are OK. For Punk music they are right on. Shakey Sue’s voice is very whiny and Pop sounding. Their evil sounding and that balances things out.

3714d51964b8453db5ef75e2b90fbc73Highlights on this album include, “Queen Of The Psycho Scene”, “Boogieman” and “Psycho Wrecking Tonight.”

 

Track listing:

Intro
Go Go Hellfreaks
Hell Sweet Hell
If I Die Today
Boogieman
Living Dead Cat
Paperweight
Mr Dead Kiss
Sick Soul
Queen Of The Psycho Scene
Psycho Wrecking Tonight
We Prefer
Horrorshow
Outro

Born To Be Bad: George Thorogood & The Destroyers

Rating: 85%

BornToBeBadSo, many consider George Thorogood as a guy stuck in the same old rut and releasing the same old music since 1977. But, if he changed his style, everyone would’ve called him a sell out. So what would one expect? Well, you keep on keeping on with the boogie woggie music that you’re known for. “Born to be Bad” released in 1988 was no exception. Why sell out to the power ballads of the Hair Metal scene that was at it’s high-tide? George Thorogood’s own brand of the Blues and Rock n’ Roll is just that, it’s hard ass kicking music with attitude. George Thorogood never sold out his sound and his brand of music to make a buck.

This record never gets it’s due and that’s a shame. This record has some of the best Blues, R&B, County and Rockabilly music that came out in the late 1980’s. His slide work on the guitar is among the best of guitarist. Musically, the highlights are “You Talk Too Much”, “Born to Be Bad”, “Treat Her Right”, “I Really Like Girls”, and “I’m Movin’ On.” Although, the entire record is good.

The way he plays, is amazing. George Thorogood should be considered as among the best of the modern Blues and Rock guitarist, but hasn’t made the top 100 of any lists that I am aware of.

Track listing:

“Shake Your Money Maker” (Elmore James) – 3:29
“You Talk Too Much” (George Thorogood) – 4:35
“Highway 49” (Big Joe Williams) 49 – 5:46
“Born to Be Bad” (Thorogood) – 3:34
“You Can’t Catch Me” (Chuck Berry) – 3:45
“I’m Ready” (Sylvester Bradford, Fats Domino, Al Lewis) – 3:20
“Treat Her Right” (Roy Head, Gene Kurtz) – 3:32
“I Really Like Girls” (Thorogood) – 3:49
“Smokestack Lightning” (Howlin’ Wolf) – 3:15
“I’m Movin’ On” (Hank Snow) – 3:58

Maverick: George Thorogood and the Destoryers

Rating: 90%

George_Thorogood_Mavrick.jpgWhen it comes to George Thorogood, you can expect a full barrage of guitar that is very high energy that shreds each note from start to finish. George Thorogood brings to airwaves a style of boogie music, drenched in ol’fashion Rock n’ Roll, heavily influenced by traditional Blues with a dash of Country music. His music has been covered by Rock and Country artists alike.

Maverick released in 1985, is just another example of George Thorogood’s hard hitting style of Rock n’ Roll. Now, critics said this album sucked because there are only a few songs that Thorogood actually wrote. The rest are covers. But what the critics failed to realize, is that Thorogood takes those covers and converts them into his own style and makes them his own. This allows Thorogood to pay tribute to those artists that influenced him.

Musically, Maverick is a good combination of songs done the Destroyers’s way. They are hard hitting, fast tempo with attitude. This is the type of music that will get you dancing or drinking. George’s guitar work of finger picking and slide leads are awesome. His style of playing is very traditional of that of the Blues. He brings back some of the forgotten artists like Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins and John Lee Hooker on this album. But, two of his famous songs also were released on this album, “Gear Jammer” and “I Drink Alone”. The critics may not have given this album it’s due, but, I enjoyed it.

Track listing:

“Gear Jammer” (George Thorogood) – 4:39
“I Drink Alone” (Thorogood) – 4:35
“Willie and the Hand Jive” (Johnny Otis) – 4:09
“What a Price” (Fats Domino, Murphy Maddux, Jack Jessup) – 2:48
“Long Gone” (Thorogood) – 4:30
“Dixie Fried” (Carl Perkins, Howard Griffin) – 3:46
“Crawlin’ King Snake” (John Lee Hooker) – 4:02
“Memphis/Little Marie” (Chuck Berry) – 5:54
“Woman with the Blues” (Thorogood) – 3:34
“Go, Go, Go” (Chuck Berry) – 3:32
“The Ballad of Maverick” (David Buttolph, Paul Francis Webster) – 2:05

Self Titled: Social Distortion

Rating: 90%

Social_Distortion_-_Social_Distortion_coverI remember standing in Morgantown, West Virginia in 1990 when I heard the music store playing this album. I was there to pick up M.O.D. and then browse the new releases of the month. When I heard the opening track “So Far Away”, I quickly asked the salesperson who what it that I was listening too? He told me Social D.

Unknown to me at the time, that they were actually considered as a Punk band, I thought they were just a plain Rock n Roll band. I picked up the album along with M.O.D. and we headed back to Oakland, Maryland. The journey homeward, I just fell in love with the band’s style of music. To me it was refreshing. It wasn’t long afterward that I began to hear the band’s music being played on 98 Rock. Although, this was Social D’s third album, it was their first commercial success. The radio stations were playing “Ball and Chain” and “Story of My Life.”

The musicianship is very tight. Mike Ness on lead vocals and lead guitar, Dennis Danell on guitar, John Maurer on bass and Christopher Reece on drums. Musically, this album has a bit of everything. It’s got punk, it’s got blues, it’s got rhythm, it’s got a tad bit of country and a whole lot of Rock n’ Roll. All of these influences blended by the band makes their music so genuine.

Structurally, this album is very solid with some to very little fill in, but, it’s sound just great. It’s got a lot of melody and harmony. The music has a lot of fast and upbeat tempos that is done up in old fashion rockabilly way. The album features some great guitar riffs and some really amazing guitar leads. Vocally, Ness is so unique that once you hear a song, whether it be his style of playing or his vocals, you’ll known right away that it’s Social D. Social D has been one of my favorite bands since 1990 and I always look forward to a new release of theirs when I hear news of one coming.

Track listing:

“So Far Away”  – 3:37
“Let It Be Me” – 4:16
“Story of My Life” – 5:48
“Sick Boys” – 3:19
“Ring of Fire” (June Carter Cash, Merle Kilgore) – 3:51
“Ball and Chain” – 5:44
“It Coulda Been Me” – 3:52
“She’s a Knockout” – 3:52
“A Place in My Heart” – 3:15
“Drug Train” – 3:42

Flick of the Switch: AC/DC

Rating: 95%

Ac-dc_Flick_of_the_SwitchIn 1983, AC/DC released their ninth studio album “Flick of the Switch.” Many people don’t like this album, saying it’s too weak or too dry. I must admit first and foremost, this is one of my favorite AC/DC albums featuring Brian Johnson on vocals. This album has a very raw sound that isn’t polished up with the final mixing of the production. It’s ass kicking blues, hard rock style and in classic AC/DC sound.

Angus Young’s lead guitar is killer. His riffs and leads rip through the album. Malcolm Young shreds on the rhythm guitar, supporting the excellent bass work of Cliff Williams. Although, Phil Rudd recorded his drum tracks, he was fired from the band during the recording stages. At the same time, it’s the album that Johnson’s vocals begin getting weaker which is why I gave it 95% rating rather than a 100%.

This album sounds good. I love the raw, gritty and crunchy sound of the guitars. It’s blues with attitude. It has some wonderfully done guitar work. Song structures flow great and in fact, this is AC/DC’s second shortest album coming in behind of “Rock or Bust.” This album has some very nice melody. It features a decent collection of tempos that shift into high gear without letting off the throttle to quickly.

Track listing:

1. “Rising Power” 3:43
2. “This House Is on Fire” 3:23
3. “Flick of the Switch” 3:13
4. “Nervous Shakedown” 4:27
5. “Landslide” 3:57
6. “Guns for Hire” 3:24
7. “Deep in the Hole” 3:19
8. “Bedlam in Belgium” 3:52
9. “Badlands” 3:38
10. “Brain Shake”

Everybody’s Rockin’

Rating: 35%

EverybodysrockinOK, so in 1983, after a series of flops like “Trans” and “Old Ways”, Geffen records demanded a Rock album by Neil Young. Well, what they got was something further from anything that Neil has done. They got a Rockabilly album instead, “Everybody’s Rockin’.” shortly, afterward, Neil was sued by Geffen records for putting out a non-Neil Young album.

Now, I must admit, what the hell was Neil Young thinking? I understand his influences are in country, folk, rock, blues and yes, even jazz. But to take your music and reverse time to the 1950’s takes a lot of balls and that is why I respect Neil Young as I do.  He experimented taking rock music back to it roots.  I do like rockabilly, don’t get me wrong, but a full album in the early 1980’s?

So, let’s begin with the pros of this album. There’s a nice tempo. The entire album is less than 25 minutes in length. There’s a lot of good guitar work on this record and some nice leads. The backing vocals are a nice added touch to the chorus. There’s some nice piano work on this album.  Lyrically, the songs are simple.

Why release this album in the early 1980’s? Why not produce music that continued the “Rust” trend?  I think if this album was released during the 2000’s Neil could have gotten away with it since the re-emergence of the genre. The major problem I have is that is NOT a Neil Young record and it was released at a bad time.

Track listing:

1. “Betty Lou’s Got a New Pair of Shoes” (Bobby Freeman) 3:02
2. “Rainin’ in My Heart” (Slim Harpo, Jerry West) 2:11
3. “Payola Blues” 3:09
4. “Wonderin'” 2:59
5. “Kinda Fonda Wanda” (Tim Drummond, Young) 1:51
6. “Jellyroll Man” 2:00
7. “Bright Lights, Big City” (Jimmy Reed) 2:18
8. “Cry, Cry, Cry” 2:39
9. “Mystery Train” (Junior Parker, Sam Phillips) 2:47
10. “Everybody’s Rockin'” 1:57