Saturday, December 30, 2006

Out of the office

My wife has to take the computer in to her work for an upgrade so I will not be posting again until Tuesday. I will have these topics out next week:

Deep Purple-In rock review
The Heavy Metal Jukebox
New Year's resolutions for my blog
and maybe one other topic.

Have a HappyNew Year!

Friday, December 29, 2006

TNT-Knights of the new thunder, 1984

Probably one of those many bands that only I seem to like, but I certainly enjoy them. In the summer of 1985 I was listening to a local radio show called Midnight Metal and they played an hour of all metal songs. One of the songs was Deadly Metal by the TNT. I liked it a lot and had to find the album it came from. This album like all of their early albums has a mix of styles on it. Although I would say that this may be the heaviest album they did. This was the band's second release and the first to feature American vocalist Tony Harnell (actually credited as Tony Hansen on this album). The rest of the band is from Norway. From the opener "Seven Seas" we can right away hear the vocal of Mr. Harnell. However I am even more impressed with the playing of guitarist Ronnie LeTekro. I feel that he is one of the most underrated players I know of. It's not just the solos either because he has his own style when he plays his rhythms too. His style is a little subtle, but very effective. As for the overall sound, I said it's mixed because we get some solid metal songs like "Deadly Metal" and "USA", we get more melodic songs like Ready to leave and Without your love and we get songs like "Last Summer's evil" and "Knights of the thunder" that may be somewhere between those two above categories. I had this on vinyl for years and just got it on cd like a year or so ago. Now I knew that the cd had a bonus track, but it always throws me off when they stick a bonus track in the middle rather than at the end. I was so used to the album going a certain way and now all of a sudden there is this different song in the middle. However, the bonus track "Tor with the hammer" is probably one of my favorites on the cd. Now I do have to add that the lyrcics are bad, okay they are very bad. Songs about of metal being a cause and sappy love songs. Still the music and vocals are good enough to make up for that. Still a CD I reach for fairly often.

New features for the New Year

I mentioned this briefly a few months ago, but I am changing some features for 2007. I will continue to do one 20 year old album review per month. However I won't be doing "Battle of the bands" or "It came from the pages of Hit Parader". I enjoyed doing both, but am retiring them to do different features for 2007. Here are the new features and how they will work.

-The Heavy Metal Jukebox-Once a month I will list three hard rock/metal songs and you pick the one you prefer. There will be some sort of theme to all three songs. Such as maybe they all came out in the same year, they all have one word that is the same in the title or it may even be three songs by the same artist. I will start this one out late next week so stop in and vote. I will try to pick songs that many of you would be familiar with. Some may be singles and some may just be songs off albums that you may know.

-Who was that?-Once a month I will profile an obscure or semi-obscure hard rock/metal band who started up between say 1980-1992. I will touch briefly on their background and their sound.

Hope you will enjoy these and I will also be doing my normal reviews, rants and the usual nonsense that I have been doing here for the last year and a half.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

End of the year

Just a matter of days left to 2006 as 2007 is looming on the horizon. I think this has overall been a good year for hard rock and metal. There were some good younger bands emerging and some veteran bands that still delivered plus I think that at least some bands are gaining some popularity. My luck with predictions last year was that good. I thought that Axl Rose would release his album and I was wrong. I thought that Trouble's reunion album would come out and be very good. It has been delayed and is now due out in February of 2007. I thought that Celtic Frost's reunion album would be good, but it was actually great. Okay so I will go ahead and give some more predictions that will likely be wrong.

So for 2007 I will say:

-The Guns and Roses album will not be released in 2007 despite Axl setting the date.
-Ozzy's new album is going to stink like a dirty diaper under the noonday sun.
-Judas Priest's new album will be better than the last one (I hope).
-I think that it will be a big year for doom metal and stoner rock.
-Ratt are doing a reunion, Van Halen may have Diamond Dave back and the Dio era Sabbath line-up will tour. I am going to guess that at least one of these three bands will break up over disagreements before the end of 2007.
-Iron Maiden had the best album of 2006, but I think that the best hard rock or metal album of 2007 will come from a lesser known band.

***Anyone have any predictions or hopes for metal in 2007?

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Best and worst hard rock/ metal cover songs of the 80's

I remember a time when doing cover songs wasn't done all that frequently. I mean it was just done here and there and became more common by the late 80's. By the 1990's is when it really seemed to become the thing to do as cover albums and tribute albums began popping up all over the place. Well, I am just going to focus on cover songs that were recorded by hard rock/metal bands in the 1980's. Here are my top 25 with the artist then song title and the original artist in parenthesis.

1)Slayer-In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (Iron Butterfly)
2) WASP-The real me (The Who)
3) Sanctuary-White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)
4)Flotsam and Jetsam-Saturday night's alright for fighting (Elton John)
5)WASP-Mississippi Queen (Mountain)
6)Exodus-Lowrider (War)
7)Armored Saint-Saturday night special (Lynyrd Skynyrd)
8)Scorpions-I can't explain (The Who)
9)WASP-Paint it black (Rolling Stones)
10)Metal Church-Highway Star (Deep Purple)
11)Overkill-Sonic Reducer (The Dead Boys) -Overkill's version is where I got the inspiration for the name of my blog!
12) Testament-Nobody's Fault (Aerosmith)
13) Slayer-Dissident Aggressor (Judas Priest)
14) WASP-Easy Livin' (Uriah Heep)
15) Metallica-Blitzkrieg (Blitzkrieg)
16) Heathen-Set me free (Sweet)
17) WASP-I don't need no doctor (Humble Pie)
18) Iron Maiden-Cross eyed Mary (Jethro Tull)
19) Sodom-Iron Fist (Motorhead)
20) WASP-Locomotive Breath (Jethro Tull)
21) David Lee Roth-Tobacco Road
22) Megadeth-No more Mr. Nice Guy (Alice Cooper)
23) Dark Angel-Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin)
24) Metallica-Am I evil? (Diamond Head)
25) Lizzy Borden-Long live rock and roll (Rainbow)

Here are the bottom five.
1)Megadeth-Anarchy in the UK (Sex Pistols)-Just an extremely boring and annoying version.
2)Lizzy Borden-Born to be wild (Steppenwolf)-Here is band who had done some good covers (Long live rock and roll, White Rabbit) yet they did this dud live for Decline of western civilization 2.
3)Twisted Sister-Leader of the pack (The Shangra Las) -This was the coffin nail for their once promising career.
4)Keel-Let's spend the night together (Rolling Stones) -Has Ron Keel ever sounded worse?
5)Poison-Rock and roll all nite (Kiss)-You would think this would have been a good song for them to cover. Yet you have to have some degree on enthusiasm and they didn't.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The morning after

Well, the big holiday is over and it went pretty well here. We got the kids to bed on time and everything spread out. Metalgirl was thrilled with her wooden train set and Metalboy liked his toys well enough. Although he is still at that age where he likes the boxes as much as the presents. Later we went to my parents' house for lunch. Metalgirl played with her trains every chance she got during the day. I remember being a kid and having a few presents where I played with them all day because I was so excited.

***What was your favorite Christmas present as a kid?

Demon Angels-Time of confusion, 2006

I first heard of this album when it was released back in October. Then I heard a track from it on a sample in November and finally bought it this month. This is a band formed by Italian guitarist Christ Falco and apparently he recruited former MSG vocalist Robin McAuley to sing 0n this album. McAuley is listed as "special guest" on the credits. Some guest as he does all the vocals, wrote all of the lyrics and produced the album.One of my biggest problems with a number hard rock bands recent years is too many bands seem to play it too safe, too conservative and by the numbers. I think a number of tracks on this album take a stab at a being a bit less conventional in their approach. There are a few more wild riffs thrown in, the vocals cut in quick at times and not everything needs to be smooth as silk. I like that and that's a lot of what caught my attention about this album. Robin McAuley was always a singer who I thought had a great rock voice, but just happened to sing on albums that were just decent. He sounds every bit as good as he did back in like 1990. The album is not perfect, but I like the fact that they seem to care more about just rockin instead of doing a lot of build up. At times it reminds me a little of MSG, the Scorpions and even a song or two have riffs that remind me of early Dio. I think the album may have seemed a little more even if the three heaviest songs weren't the the first three tracks, but that's minor. Also it has eight tracks and clocks in under 35 minutes so I certainly wouldn't been against them having another song or two. I am guessing the special guest label leaves it up into the air as to whether McAuley will do another album with this band. I for one hope he does and I hope that I don't have to wait too long to hear another album. For now I will settle for listening to this album as I have done fairly often over the last few weeks.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What's coming up?

Well, Christmas is coming up! Actually Christmas Eve first and then Christmas! So I won't be posting Sunday or Monday, but for the rest of the week I will get around to these:

-Deep Purple-In Rock review
-Demon Angels-Time of confusion review
-Something about the best and worst hard rock/metal cover songs done in the 1980's
-Probably something about wrapping up 2006

I wish you a Merry Christmas. If you have been good then I hope you get what you wanted and you have been bad then I hope you get twenty copies of Guns and Roses' Spaghetti Incident CD.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Heavy Metal Christmas tree

Okay, I don't have a tree like this, but if I had a tree when I was like 18 or 19 then I would have wanted to make a heavy metal tree. So what would a heavy metal tree look like. Well, I think it probably be either white or silver so that black decorations would show up well on. Instead of a garland maybe a chain made by linking studded leather bracelets on it would work. Of course there would be lights, but instead multi-colored they might just be black and blood red. For ornaments I guess you could pull out a bunch of old buttons with band logos like the ones people used to have on their denim jackets. Old cheap earrings of skulls would work as well. Now for the tree topper I would have a picture of Lemmy smoking a cigarette because that's seems to an appropriate symbol of metal.

**Feel free to add your own suggestions for decorating the tree.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

What's new?

It's been a very active week at my house. The Metalboy started pulling up on his own. His first birthday is coming up in about two and a half weeks. Metalgirl is finally using the potty some and we are proud of her because this has been a long process, but she's getting there. They had a Christmas party at her pre-school on Monday and I was there too with Metalboy. Metalgirl got to sit on Santa's lap for the first time and she did very well. While on his lap she was asked what she wanted and she said "I would like a train and some lollipops please". So she did well and yes, she is getting a wooden Thomas the tank engine train set and lollipops for Christmas plus a few other things. The lollipos idea comes from a lift the flap book we read her that said Santa brings lollipops for kids. After the kids go to sleep we have been getting the wires and stuff off the toys so we will not have to do that on Christmas day. So we are getting to close to being ready for Christmas. I am listening to a lot of music and getting to unveil some new monthly features here at my blog starting in January.

***Coming up on Friday will be the Heavy Metal Christmas tree. I have no idea exactly what that will be, but I will come up with something. It will likely be something goofy though.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Top five hard rock albums of 2006

I write about both hard rock and heavy metal and there is a difference. I did my top five albums the other day and it was all metal and stoner rock, but that doesn't mean that there weren't some good hard rock releases this year. I didn't get to hear every hard rock release that I wanted to as Krokus, Rhinobucket and Zan Clan are all 2006 albums that I have yet to hear, but high hopes for. Anyway here are the top five that I did hear:

1)Sweet Cheater-Eatin' ain't cheatin'
Okay, this is remastered version of demos recorded between (I believe) 1989-1991. It does sound a lot like Kix and Ratt, but honestly better than any Kix album and better than several Ratt albums. Very tight and catchy and it got a lot of spins from me this year.

2)Demon Angels-Time of confusion
Whoa, this one came out at the end of the year, but it's a good for sure. Former MSG vocalist Robin McAuley partners with Italian guitarist Chris Falco to create a hugely solid hard rock effort sometimes boardering on metal.

3)Kidd Blue-Big Trouble
Yes, it's more old stuff as this is remastered demos recorded in the late 80's by San Jose/San Francisco based Kidd Blue. Certainly more hard rock than Sleeze or AOR, maybe a little like a cross between Hurricane and Firehouse.

The third album from these guys is their best to date. Very slick production and the band retains some of their Def Leppard sound, but adds more of a Faster Pussycat sound at times on this release. I still would like the hear these guys do more rockin songs though.

5)Miss Crazy
Sources are varied on rather this was 2005 or 2006, but I am going to take include it for this year. I hate to say that everyone here sounds like someone else, but they do. In this case it's early Cinderella as the vocals are very much like Tom Keifer's. This is a good debut and I hope to hear more from this band.

So there are my favorite hard rock albums of 2006.

Current Playlist

Lately I have been listening to:

Iron Maiden-A matter of life and death, Seventh son of a seventh son and Somewhere in time
WASP-Inside the electric circus and The headless children
Accept-Metal Heart and Breaker
Fu Manchu-California Crossing
Smash Alley-Too late to say no
Demon Angels-Time of confusion (This has been a pleasant surprise and I will try to review it next week)

***What have you been listening to?

Trans-Siberian Orchestra-The Lost Christmas Eve, 2004

I avoided listening to these people for some time because my fear was they would be very stiff and longwinded with lots of Yngwie Malmsteen-like solos flying all around. However I was sitting in the waiting room of the dentist's office last week and saw them play two songs on Regis and Kelly. I liked the songs and picked up the CD for $9.99 at Wal-mart. Okay, it's better than I thought it might be and I have listened to it five times to determine what I really thought of it. There are some good musicians on this album and it shows. Largely the music, particularly on the instrumental songs is very well played without being overdone. The production is clear and sharp all throughout the album. I think the approach of doing many shorter tracks rather than a few longer ones was the right choice for this style of album. Now before you think I will get all gushy and say "God bless us every one", I am going to have play Scrooge here a minute. What I didn't like was I don't think all of the songs are exactly Christmas like in their sound. That may be nitpicking, but if it's a Christmas album then all of the songs should be on that theme and I didn't get that impression with every song here. That's a minor complaint though. My larger problems have to do with the vocals. The instrumental tracks were mostly way better than the songs with vocals. Jennifer Cella is obviously great on her two tracks as her vocals are actually better than the songs she is singing. I thought that Wendy Eggers' vocals on Queen of the night were fine and they fit with the song. So I am afraid that my problems are with the male vocalists here. I am not saying that they cannot sing, but rather their approach to the songs they did just didn't work for me. Oftentimes I felt the male vocals were either too dull or too over the top. None of them really impressed me with much range or feeling. I tried to listen to these songs several times hoping they would grow on me and that just didn't happen. Let's just say that if these had been the songs that I had heard in the dentist's office instead of the instrumentals then I would not have been inspired to buy the album. However there are certainly enough good tracks here and I have heard their first Christmas album was better than this. Overall a very ambitious effort with decent results.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Metal Christmas songs

I think that I wrote on this topic last year, but not many people were reading it back then and I decided to rate a few songs.

AC/DC-Mistress for Christmas(1990)
Just another average song off of Razor's edge. Someone must have said "hey, Mistress rhymes with Christmas so let's write a song called that because it sounds kind of dirty". I seem to remember t-shirts of this with Angus holding a big bag with a woman's legs sticking out of it.

Venom-Black Christmas(1987)
An alright song from Venom, but just another their typical negative semi-satanic dribble as far as lyrics.

King Diamond-No presents for Christmas(1985)
This single was the first thing the King did after going solo. It's a good song, but a bit of a downer as far as jolly Christmas songs go.

220 Volt-Heavy Christmas(198?)
Probably the best metal Christmas song I know of as far as music and message. I assume they mean heavy as in heavy metal rather than "oh, that fruitcake made me feel heavy".

***What Christmas metal songs do you know of and what do you like?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Top five metal albums of 2006

Ben Heller over at Will and Ben's record room asked me for my top five hard rock/metal albums for this year. So that is posted over at his blog today if you are interested.

Taking the Greyhound home for Christmas

In the early 90's I went to college in Kentucky. I decided not to take my car in order to save money. So when I wanted to come home for Christmas I had to ride the Greyhound bus. By car the trip from Kentucky to Maryland took about 9-10 hours, but by the route the bus took it was 18 hours. I also had to change buses three times during the trip. I saw some strange things on my trips aboard the Greyhound. Here are a few.

-Once a little guy got on the bus carrying two big brown bags full of oranges. It was not crowded on the bus so he set the bags in one seat and he sat in another seat. It was the middle of the night so when the bus started up they turned out the lights. As soon as they turned out the lights this guy layed down in the middle of the aisle on his back. He stayed that way for four hours and any one who had to get to the bathroom had to strain to get around him because he wouldn't budge.

-Once I got onto a really crowded bus and took the first seat I could find. it was next to this old women who had hardly any teeth. She was quiet until the bus started up and then she talked to herself non-stop for three hours. When the bus stopped then she stopped talking.

-I never started conversations with people on the bus, but I would talk if asked. One year I was on the bus headed home for Christmas. The bus going from Pennsylvania and into Maryland so I was just a few hours away from my stop. This guy in front of me starts talking to me about the weather and general stuff. He seemed okay and then the bus stops in Hagerstown, Maryland for a break. I was a big smoker back then so I immediately headed to where the ashtrays were. This guy I had been talking to came over and asked me for a light. While we are smoking he asks me where I am heading to and I tell him. Then I ask where he is going and here was his answer "I am just headed as far away from West Virginia as I can get because they have a warrant out for my arrest there". Then he laughs and I laugh to but I wasn't laughing inside. When I got back on the bus I obviously switched seats.

Glad that I don't have to ride the Greyhound anymore.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

WASP-Inside the electric circus, 1986

This is my last twenty year album review of this year so next month I will begin the first of twelve 1987 albums

Background-This was the band's third album and came just about a year after the Last Command. Guitarist Randy Piper had been fired and Blackie Lawless switched to playing rhythm guitar and hired King Kobra bass player Johnny Rod to complete the line-up.

Initial reaction-I first heard this album when it came out in late 1986. I thought it was decent, but not as good as the self-titled debut or The Last Command. So let's give it a listen and see how it holds up.

1-The big Welcome:A spoken introduction that makes it sound like you are going to the circus.
2-Inside the electric circus-The title track is medium fast and very direct. The guitars are simple but work well and it's one of those tracks where Blackie makes good use of his big voice.
3-I don't need no doctor-To me WASP have always been like the kings of cover songs. No exception here as they make the song their own and go with it.
4-95 Nasty-Not bad, but kind of feels like the vocals are the focus and I remember very little about the music once the track ends.
5-Restless Gypsy- A medium fast tracks with a big steady beat. Very typical of this band, but extremely tight and memorable.
6-Shoot from the hip-Starts out with a simple riff and slows down a little after that. The chorus is a bit silly. There are some good licks from Chris Holmes here and I like how the pace kind of drifts back and forth rather than making a direct pace change.
7-I'm Alive-The music comes on sounding like a gallop with one riff pulling away from it. It's an interesting song with a different style of song structure and it works for them.
8-Easy Living-Another cover track and this time it's Uriah Heep. They easily transform it into a metal song and add their own touches.
9-Sweet Cheatah- It has very much the sound of other songs here, but does little to set itself apart. Considering it's over five minutes long, they really needed to do more to keep people's attention. Just an alright song.
10-Mantronic-Like the previous track it's not memorable enough. Not bad at all, but once the album is done you will have to really try to remember what went on during this song. The solo was pretty good though.
11-King of Sodom and Gommorah-They are trying harder on this track as the music stands out a bit more. Maybe even a bit odd in the music down the stretch, but it keeps things interesting.
12-The rock rolls on-This track roars on at a steady pace. A great choice for the closer because it's energetic, strong and you will remember it. The solo is simple, but I love the tone of it.

Verdict/Final Word-This one has gotten a little better over the years. It's not as good as the first two albums, but it's a good album that I still listen to quite often. It may not have broke a lot of ground after The Last Command, but it was solid enough and the band were soon going to get way better. My biggest complaint is that they lost some steam towards the end of the album with Sweet Cheetah and Mantronic almost being filler tracks. I think the album could have been stronger if those two tracks were left off and b-side Flesh and fire was inserted instead. The thing I have always like about WASP is that they kind of bridge the gap between hard rock and metal. They always the group chorus thing going and the kind of hooks that were popular in hard rock. Yet they weren't afraid to play heavy, play odd arrangements and Blackie Lawless' rough yet powerful vocals were all more metal in style. So a good album overall and one that holds up fairly well. This was the first time I have written one of these long reviews at the same time I am listeing to it on the computer. It worked pretty well and yes that does mean that I was listening to WASP at 7:30 this morning.

**Next months twenty year old album review will be Lizzy Borden's visual Lies as they defeated Dokken and Faster Pussycat in the vote for a review.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What's coming up?

Next week is the week before Christmas so I guess that I should toss a few holiday related topics out there. So this coming week I will have the following holiday related topics.

-Heavy metal Christmas songs
-The Heavy metal Christmas tree
-Trans-Siberian Orchestra-The last Christmas Eve review

and maybe a story about when I used to have to ride Greyhound when I was coming up from college for the Christmas holiday.

I will also have the following non-Holiday topics:

-Twenty year album review: WASP-Inside the electric circus

and maybe one other topic.

***Here is a question for you. Are you listening to any Christmas music lately and if so then what?

Friday, December 15, 2006

CD for Christmas

If you could get one CD as a Christmas present then what would it be? Let's say it cant' exceed $17.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Never jumped or clunked

In talking about Jumping the shark yesterday, I also thought about who never jumped or who never put out a single album that was anything less than good. So the only rules are:

-that the band has to have done at least four full length studio albums
-they have to have all been at least good with no clunkers and not even any average albums.

I think it is a tough one. Even some of my all time favorites have done clunkers and mediocre albums. I love Rush, but I think Power Windows and Hold your fire are mediocre albums. Led Zeppelin had a great career, but In through the out door is average at best to me. So here are a few that I have thought of.

-Motorhead: March or die is my least favorite album, but even it is good. So I will say that they never jumped or clunked.

-Thin Lizzy: I have not heard every one of their albums, but have heard most. They seemed very consistent and I think that they never jumped.

-Armored Saint: Each of their first four albums was better than the one before it and their reunion album was good. So never jumped.

-Testament: I know that some people didn't like the Ritual, but I liked it a lot. So I going to say that they never jumped.

-Cinderella: Just makes the four album minimum. The first and last albums were good and the two in the middle were great. Never jumped even though they have not done a studio album in twelve years.

**I have been kind of picky on this. There are a lot of bands that came to mind that had only one album that wasn't good, but that was enough to keep them out. Like for example if Ratt had never done a reunion album then they would easily make this list. However they did that wretched self-titled lp in 1999 (not to be confused with the great self-titled ep form 1983). So who do you think never jumped or put out a clunker?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Jump the shark?

I originally wasn't going to post today, but then an idea came to me. I was wondering about what would be a good hard rock/metal equivalent of the term "Jump the shark?". Just in case you are not a big fan of old TV, here is the definition of the term straight from the jump the shark site.

Q. What is jumping the shark?
A. It's a moment. A defining moment when you know that your favorite television program has reached its peak. That instant that you know from now's all downhill. Some call it the climax. We call it "Jumping the Shark." From that moment on, the program will simply never be the same.
Of course this term is a reference to Happy Days from when the Fonz literally jumped the shark on water skiis. Okay, so what would be a good hard rock/metal term that would be equivalent of this? One that would refer to a band's turn from greatness to something less.
I would think it would be something where the band changed for good and never approached the same level of greatness. So something like Judas Priest doing Turbo wouldn't really count because the band did later rebound with Painkiller at least. I immediately think of Van Halen and when Roth was gone form the band. That was a change that effected the band and to me they never did a great album after that. So could "Firing Diamond Dave"? be a term to use.
The other band that comes to my mind is AC/DC. I think they were great with Bon Scott and to me never did a great album after his death. Yes, I know the rest of the world loves Back in black. I would just hate to use a term that would refer to Bon's death, although I think it was a moment that completely altered the band's future.
Anyway, put your thinking caps on and let me know any terms you come up with. If you have a good one and don't mind me using it then I will pick the best phrase and use it for a blog topic that I may write in the next few days.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Best and worst album covers of 1986

Okay let's get the bad out of the way first.

Here are the five worst album covers of 1986.

1)Krokus-Change of address
It looks like a set from a bad 1960's movie.

2)Raven-The pack is back
Seriously, when has it ever been cool to wear your jockstrap on the outside of your pants?

3)King Kobra-Thrill of a lifetime
It looks like someone forgot to finish drawing it.

4)Judas Priest-Turbo
Even lots of bright colors can't disguise how lame this is.

5)Bon Jovi-Slippery when wet
They should be very thankful that the radio played their songs because this cover wasn't going to help sell it.

Okay now here are the five best album covers.

1)Iron Maiden-Somewhere in time
Hell, the back cover is so good that it's better than 95% of the album covers done by other people.

A very fitting cover for this album. Motorhead roared back music wise and their mascot looks angry and scary.

3)Metallica-Master of puppets
The colors of the sky are great and that lone Army helmet speaks volumes.

4)Saxon -Rock the nations
Keep the cover and throw away the album.

5)David Lee Roth-Eat 'em and smile
It still makes me laugh even now and it is just so Diamond Dave. His old band tries to make a big production artsy cover and he just dresses up like a cannibal.

-So that's it for the 1986 awards. In August of next year I will make a list of 20-25 contenders for the 1987 top ten list and start narrowing them down. Then on December 1st of 2007 I will begin the countdown for the 1987 list. I am going to take a break from blogging for a day or two, but will be back with something at the end of the week.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Golden Turd of 1986

This was an easy decision because of how huge a disappointment this album was. Of course this award goes to............

Judas Priest-Turbo

Let's look at Priest's career prior to this. Other than a mediocre debut in Rocka Rolla the rest of their albums in the 1970's were either very good or great. Okay so let's look at the 1980's. One thing that came to my mind was that I was thinking of how many great albums hard rock and metal bands had between 1980 and 1985. Iron Maiden had four and then Judas Priest clock in with three as I think British Steel, Screaming for vengeance and Defenders of the faith are all great. To me Point of entry was just good. So Priest had three great albums between 80 and 85 and I don't think anyone other than them and Maiden had more than two truly great albums at that point. So if right before Turbo's release you said Priest were the second best metal band in the 80's so far behind Iron Maiden then I would have agreed. They were not just a quality band though because they were certainly popular and selling albums. So why then in early 1986 did what was one of the best true metal bands going release this limp release full of synths? It's an album lacking almost any traces of the band that had spend more than ten years establishing themselves as a quality metal act. Twenty years later and I still can't figure it out. It wasn't the direction that the previous albums were heading in. It wasn't a huge trend going on. So why was it so bad? I would have understood the direction of the album more if the previous effort had sold poorly, but it didn't. Unfortunately this album did sell well and the tour did well. Instead people have should threw this album back at the band and said "We don't want your Turbo lover and your Out in the cold, we want the real Priest back!" Don't even get me started on those ridiculous outfits, the hairstyles and the videos. What a nightmare this album was. The band did return with Ram it down in 1988 which was good and Painkiller in 1990 which was great. Yet think about what might have been if they had followed up Defenders in 1986 with an album that was actually a worthy follow-up.

***Tuesday I will have the last day of 1986 awards with the best and worst album covers.

Most improved band of 1986

Some of the bands I considered for this award were Slayer, Black -n- Blue and Fastway. However ultimately I settled on a band who showed a huge improvement over the course of just one year. So the most improved band of 1986 goes to..................

Dark Angel

In 1985 this LA band released their debut "We have arrived" on tiny Azra records. Honestly it had just a few sparks, but it was very rough in terms of playing writing and production. Then the band changed drummers as they brought in former Slayer roadie Gene Hoglan and they got a record deal with Combat records. The result was 1986's "Darkness Descends" which was a marked improvement. They now sounded like they had some direction and it still remains heavy today. I wouldn't have put "We have arrived" in a list of top 50 albums in 1985. However "Darkness descends' was on my long list of considerations for the top ten of 1986. It didn't make the top ten, but if I had extended the list I think it would have come in around number thirteen. So a huge improvement from those guys and they would actually continue to stay solid into the early 1990's.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Number one

Finally the top hard rock/metal album of 1986. This was a good year commercially for this type of music and a good year for quality albums as well even if those two categories did not contain all of the same albums. Yet the top album of the year came from a young band from LA. Of course number one is..........

Slayer-Reign in blood

If Metallica are to be recognized for doing enough to sustain a longer album then Slayer should get a lot of recognition for doing a lot in a short time frame. Seriously, this album is less than half an hour long yet you will not feel cheated because they do a lot in that time. King and Hanneman are not great guitarists by any stretch yet they make every note count here. I don't here the bass, but Tom Araya makes his contribution by giving one of the most aggressive set of vocals ever done. He just goes at it like a maniac and delivers every line like he wants to rip your head off. The real backbone though are the drums and it helps when your drummer sounds like three guys playing. Dave Lombardo's playing is unreal at times as he is playing like thunder and constantly in motion. Yet all these parts come together and make not just the best album of 1986, not just Slayer's best album, but the best speed metal album of all time. This album is just crazy and frantic yet scores by being so direct and sure of itself. Well deserving of best hard rock/metal album of 1986.

***So there is the top ten. Still two more days of 1986 awards to go. Monday the "Golden Turd of 1986" will be announced. Now remember this is not a worst album award. It would be easy to pick on some unknown band who put out a stinker. Instead I created this award to show my disappointment for someone who should have done a good album, but chose to toss out a bomb instead. So it's either someone who had a good past and did a bad album or someone who received a lot of hype and did a bad album. A hint would be to easy so instead I will list the nominees as in the bands I considered for this award. Here are the nominees in alphabetical order.

Judas Priest-Turbo
King Kobra-Thrill of a lifetime
Krokus-Change of address
Raven-The pack is back
Vinnie Vincent Invasion-s/t

***As a separate entry on Monday I will also do the "Biggest Improvement of 1986". Slayer were a serious consideration for this award as well. In my 1985 awards Slayer's Hell Awaits just missed out on making my top ten, yet in 1986 they hit the top album. A big improvement for sure, but not my choice for most improved. However my choice is another LA speed metal band.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Number two

If you guessed that this is Metallica then give yourself a pat on the back because the runner up for best hard rock/metal album of 1986 is.................

Metallica-Master of puppets

These guys had come a long ways in just a few years by this point. On this album they were so in control as they mixed speed with seamless pace changes and kept the songs going with ease. This was and still is a very important album for metal. These guys made fans of more traditional metal bands like Maiden, Priest and Ozzy realize that there were different kinds of metal around. Metallica also changed the way bands dressed as their image of no image appealed to fans. They were at the top of the underground in early 1986, but by the end of the year they were moving towards the top of the metal heap as it were. There was a point late in 1986 where Master had created such a stir that new fans went out and bought Ride the lightning and Kill 'em all as well. Thus putting all three albums into the top 100 at the same time.

***In almost any other year in the 80's Master of puppets would have been the top album. Yet in 1986 there was one that was better and it wasn't even a contest in my mind because this album was clearly the best of the year when I heard it twenty years ago and it's still great today. I was actually listening to it in my car yesterday. The hint for number one is that it clocks in at under half an hour in length. So on Sunday I will reveal number one.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Number three

Congratulations to Rhodeislandrock and Bob Vinyl for correctly guessing that this is.....


This was the band's first lp in three years and Lemmy was the only member left from the previous album. I think that it was a pivotal time for the band as a dud could have sunk them. However they delivered in a big way. A number of people refer to this as a very different album for the band and it is generally heavier, faster and a bit more grim. However it's big, loud and hits hard so it certainly works for me. Right away Motorhead moved back to take their place as one of the best and most influential heavy metal bands around.

***Only two more to go. The hint for number two is that prior to 1986 this band never had an album in the top 100 yet there would come a point late in the year when the band had three albums in the top 100 at the same time.

***Also don't forget that after number one is revealed there are still two more days of awards. Day 11 will see the infamous "Golden Turd award" plus the first ever "Most Improved Band award" of 1986. Then day 12 will wrap things up with the top five and bottom five album covers of 1986.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Blog plug

Here is a cool blog that you may want to check out if you have a chance. It's called
Hard rock hideout

Number four

Getting towards the end with number four. Give a hand to David Amulet for guessing correctly that it is ......

Iron Maiden-Somewhere in time

Following the release of Powerslave in 1984 these guys went from "almost there" to top of the metal mountain so this was a highly anticipated release. Overall I think they delivered and it sold well despite the fact that the face of metal had changed a lot between early 1984 and fall of 1986. Perhaps more melodic than any of their prior albums, but it's still similar in it's complexity and overall tone. Took more time to grow on me than their previous albums, but it did click. I think it allowed the band to keep from getting in a rut at the time and still sounds pretty sharp today.

***So we are down to just three. On Friday will be the album that I have ranked at number three. The hint is that these guys were a three member band for years, but this release was their first lp with a four member line-up.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Number five

My top ten favorite hard rock/ metal albums of 1986 moves on to number five. So it's.....

Flotsam and Jetsam-Doomsday for the deceiver

This Arizona based band has too often been known as just "that band Jason Newsted was in before Metallica hired him". Forget the association and just focus on what these guys did here. This is a very original sounding speed metal album with a lot of depth and a bit of a dark edge to it as well. Not a great deal of build-to most of the songs, they just kind of charge ahead and go. This one has held up very well over the last twenty years.

***Onward to number four on Thursday. I think that this is the point where move from the really good albums to the great albums. The hint for number four is that there are song titles from previous albums worked into the album cover.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Number six

I am almost half-way through my top ten hard rock/ metal albums of 1986. So number six is .....

Megadeth-Peace sells, but who's buying?

Honestly I once had this album up around number three at one point years ago, but it hasn't aged as well as other albums on this list. I don't think it's as heavy or as tight as I once thought it was. What's good about it are the odd arrangements, unique riffs and the song topics. Megadeth brought their own sound and they were seldom copied. This was their second album, but the one that broke them in. They started this tour opening for Motorhead, but were booted after three dates with Lemmy saying that Mustaine was ordering Motorhead's road crew around.

**On Wednesday we move into the top half with number five. It's the highest ranking debut on my list. Here's the big hint- this band's founding bass player was from the midwest, but he set out for LA to form a band. He ran out of money before he could reach LA and formed a band in the place where he stopped.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The New Year

-I think that 2006 has overall been a pretty good year for hard rock and metal. With such big names as Metallica, Megadeth, Ozzy and Judas Priest set to release new albums in 2007 do you think next year will be better or worse than this year for metal?

-What 2007 release are you most looking forward to?

Number seven

The countdown of my top ten favorite hard rock/metal albums of 1986 continues with number seven. Give a hand to Bob Vinyl for correctly guessing that it is those infamous Santa beaters.....

Lizzy Borden-Menace to society
I am a fan of most of their material and I think this was their pick. I think these guys were influenced by 70's hard rock like Alice Cooper and KISS, but they also got into the metal of the early 80's. Oftentimes lumped in with glam bands because of their look. However they were heavier and more complex than most bands in that category. I think that on this album they managed to find a good mix between hard rock and metal and they managed to be catchy, but throw in enough changes to keep things interesting.

**Next up on Tuesday will be number six as the countdown continues. The hint is that when this album was released this band got an opening slot for a bigger band. However they got kicked off the tour after just three dates and it would not be the last time in their career that they would get kicked off a tour.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Number eight

The countdown of my top ten favorite hard rock/metal albums of 1986 continues with number eight.

King Diamond-Fatal Portrait

King Diamond's debut lp has probably aged better than most of his albums. I actually like it more now than I did back then. The vocals are more even than some of King's later solo work and the music is very tight. Out of King's solo albums this is the one that has the most Mercyful Fate sound mixed in it and I like that.

**So on Monday I will have number seven out. This band did a number of stage theatrics back in the day including the use of blood, fog machines and uh, beating up Santa Claus with baseball bats.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Christmas spirit?

Last night my two year old daughter informed me that she was "pooping like an elf". I am not sure what this means, but I think that maybe we have been watching Rudolph too much. She likes the elves in that a lot.

Number nine

The countdown of my top ten favorite hard rock/ heavy metal albums continues with number nine. Hats off to Rhodeislandrock for correctly guessing who it is.

Executioner-In the name of metal

Quite honestly the production on this album is poor, but it really doesn't matter. Executioner managed to combine NWOBHM influences with mid 80's speed metal and it works. All the songs are short and the album flies by, but it's full of energy and pounding riffs. They were obviously a band concerned more with their sound than with their image and that comes across in their music. If everyone played with the level on enthusiasm that they did on this release then the music world would be a far better place.

On Sunday I will continue the countdown with number eight. We will finally get to someone you have probably heard of. The hint is that this artist previously established themselves with another band. However in 1986 this vocalist released his first solo lp. I think that narrows it down to a few people.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Number Ten

The countdown of my top ten favorite hard rock/heavy metal albums of 1986 begins with number ten. I said a few dark horse bands may make the list and this is one of them. So number ten goes to:

Cyclone: Brutal Destruction

Yes, I know that you are asking "who?". In 1986 I stumbled upon this debut by Belgium's Cyclone and oh, boy it is a monster. It's a big slab of mid-80's thrash somewhat similar to early Exodus with a pinch of early Metallica thrown in. The pace is sometimes frantic with sudden pace changes yet it works and retains much of the heaviness I first heard twenty years ago. So there's number ten.

On Saturday I move on down the line to number nine. I will give two hints because it's another not very well known band. Hint number one is they did three albums and had a different bass player on each release. Hint number two is they are normally best known for the fact that their second bass player went on to form a long running band that had a really nasty band name. So number nine will be revealed on Saturday.