Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Demons and Wizards - "Touched By The Crimson King"

Demons and Wizards - Touched By The Crimson King
2005, SPV

1. Crimson King
2. Beneath These Waves
3. Terror Train
4. Seize the Day
5. The Gunslinger
6. Love's Tragedy Asunder
7. Wicked Witch
8. Dorian
9. Down Where I Am
10. Immigrant Song
Bonus Tracks:
11. Lunar Lament
12. Wicked Witch (Slow Version)
13. Spacial Architects
14. Beneath These Waves (Edit)

I don't know why I got rid of this CD because I really like it. Demons and Wizards is Jon Schaffer from Iced Earth and Hansi Kursch from Blind Guardian. The combination of the two is pretty cool. You've got Schaffer's lightning fast guitar riffing skills and Kursch's unique vocal style. I definitely like hearing his voice without some of the bombast of a Blind Guardian record. The only song that kind of annoys me is slow interlude in "Dorian." It doesn't seem like it fits and brings the song to a screeching halt for a minute. Also, make sure you pick up the deluxe version with the extra tracks. I don't feel like the album is really complete with out "Lunar Lament" (one of my favorite songs of all time) and "Spacial Architects." You can chuck the other two - "Wicked Witch (Slow Version)" is nearly indistinguishable from the other album version and "Beneath the Waves (Edit)" is the same exact song with the mellow post-lude clipped out. This is the band's second release. Some say the first one is better but I've never heard it. Someday I'll have to check it out.

Useless Fact: The album title and several songs are based on Stephen King's Dark Tower saga. "Love's Tragedy Asunder" is based on Romeo and Juliet, I believe. "Beneath These Waves" is based on Moby Dick. "Wicked Witch" is based off The Wizard of Oz. I shouldn't have to tell you what "Dorian" is from. "Immigrant Song" is a Led Zepplin cover.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Keaggy, Phil - "Find Me In These Fields"

Keaggy, Phil - Find Me In These Fields
1990, Myrrh

1. Instrumental
2. Strong Tower
3. Carry On
4. Instrumental
5. When the Wild Winds Blow
6. This Side of Heaven
7. Find Me In These Fields
8. Get Over It
9. Calling You
10. Instrumental
11. Gentle & Strong
12. Final Day
13. Instrumental
14. Be In My Heart
15. Instrumental

Find Me In These Fields often pops up as one of people's favorite Phil Keaggy platters. Seeing as I'd only heard Crimson & Blue (and absolutely adored it), I figured I'd give this one a shot. After all, it was released in 1990, aka The Best Year Ever For Music. Aaaaaaaand...what do you know? It's awesome. Of course it is. This is like a master class in musicianship and songwriting. If you're looking for a great pop/rock record written and played by some insanely talented musicians, this is for you. I was hooked from the opening acoustic instrumental. Any suggestions on which Keaggy album to get next?

Useless Fact: Rick Cua played bass on this album. He was kind of a big thing way back in the day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Aerosmith - "Permanent Vacation"

Aerosmith - Permanent Vacation
1987, Geffin

1. Heart's Done Time
2. Magic Touch
3. Rag Doll
4. Simoriah
5. Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
6. St. John
7. Hangman Jury
8. Girl Keeps Coming Apart
9. Angel
10. Permanent Vacation
11. I'm Down
12. The Movie

Permanent Vacation is another one of those nostalgia buys that reminds me of summer vacations. Specifically, with my mom and cousin throughout northern Pennsylvania. My original tape (which is long gone) was purchased from the Columbia tape club. Yes... I ain't lyin' when I call myself "The Old Man." So normally I pick one of these oldies up listen a few times and relive some fond memories and then don't think too much about it again until the next season. With the Aerosmith, however, I was surprised at how much I really enjoyed it. I mean, I always liked it. Heard the singles on MTV all the time. But the whole album is full of really great rock 'n roll. I'd argue that the singles aren't the best tracks here at all (of course, I'd argue that for any band). "Hangman Jury" is a bluegrass/blues inspired track and my absolute favorite on this album. I also like the cover of The Beatles' "I'm Down." The band really knew how to combine hard rock, pop, and blues as this disc seems to be a perfect mixture of all three. I don't know how it stacks up to the rest of their discography, but as a single album it's fantastic.

Useless Fact: Isn't "Dude (Looks Like a Lady)" about Motley Crue's Vince Neil? That's what I heard anyway.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Haven - "III"

Haven - III
1995/2017, Retroactive

1. Haven
2. Her Eyes Can't Hide
3. Falling Down
4. Her Eyes Can't Hide (Conclusion)
5. Don't Let the Moment Slip Away
6. Prisoner
7. I Will Follow
8. Love From Above
9. When Jesus Lights the Way
10. The Almighty
11. Don't Run Away
12. Without Excuses
Bonus Track
13. From Everlasting

Now here's a little rarity that I'd never thought I'd hear. Haven's third album was recorded from '93 - '95 and finally released independently in '95. It was recorded in vocalist Kevin Ayer's home studio with whatever musicians he had on hand. I never even knew this existed until the early 2000's when I saw it on Scott Waters' website, No Life Til Metal. Retroactive has rereleased this lost gem with a good remaster and updated artwork. I think the new cover looks pretty cool. The original was in black and white, but the gold here really makes it pop.

For their third album, Haven goes a little more melodic and a little more progressive. You won't hear much in the way of full on power-metal-bordering-on-thrash tunes. Most of the songs are mid-paced and mellower. However, this variety gives Ayers' vocals a chance to shine as he gets to stretch himself a bit more. There's still some of the old school wails, but he also gets to be a little more reserved, a little quieter. He's got great range and this album really shows that off. I love the title track, which harkens back to the bands older material. Also, the riff in "Don't Let the Moment Slip Away" is awesome. Overall, I really enjoyed this album and I think fans of Haven will dig it too.


This album could have really benefited from some label backing - maybe a good producer to help flesh things out. Songs like "The Almighty" and "Don't Run Away" could have used more time in the cooker, I think. Also, while the remaster sounds good, the recording quality is a little bit above "demo." It's not unlistenable by any stretch, far from it. It's impressive considering this was done before ProTools and the like. But like I said, it still could have benefited from big label money. (Look at me acting like REX had money! Ha!) "From Everlasting" is a bonus track that wasn't part of the original album. It has more of an electronic feel, but it's kind of weird. There's like, casio drum beats and record scratching and guitars. The lyrics are serious but it sounds kind of silly with all these elements. Like it was a first attempt at industrial. I also wish there were some lyrics in the liner notes, but what can ya do? III probably isn't the Haven album to give to your friend who's never heard of them, but it's a treat for fans despite my pickune complaints.

Useless Fact: Not a fact...a rumination. I don't think REX would have touched this album in '95. It would have been too metal when they were focusing on hardcore and alternative. As much as I love alternative rock, that wave kept a lot of good albums from being enjoyed.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

INXS - "Kick"

INXS - Kick
1987, Atlantic

1. Guns in the Sky
2. New Sensation
3. Devil Inside
4. Need You Tonight
5. The Loved One
6. Wild Life
7. Never Tear Us Apart
8. Mystify
9. Kick
10. Calling All Nations
11. Tiny Daggers

Okay, so what I remember most about this album is Niagara Falls. My family went on vacation there way back when. It was notable for being one of the few vacations my late father went on with mom and I. Also, it was the only time I have ever (and let's be honest here) will probably ever leave the country. For the record, the Canadian side is way better. You can probably guess by now that...yes, I acquired this album on that trip! It was between this and Weird Al's Even Worse. This is also one of the first albums I owned that had a swear word on it. My mom didn't care because she was cool like that.

So, I guess I should talk about the music some eh? You've probably heard "New Sensation" because it's the biggest hit on here. Though "Devil Inside," "Need You Tonight/Mediate," and "Never Tear Us Apart" were HUGE on MTV at the time. Michael Hutchence was the embodiment of the charismatic front man, oozing with sex appeal. I guess. I mean I was eight at the time so I didn't really know. Nostalgia aside, it's a pretty solid Eighties pop album. I never really got into anything after this one. Even today I'm still not really motivated to search out anything else by them.

Useless Fact: Didn't they have a reality competition show after Hutchence died? How did that turn out? Anyone know?