Classic Rock Bottom

There's a few CDs I have that I haven't or hadn't gotten around to listening to yet. Whether they are too "old" or I end up not really having much to say about them, I'm not doing a full on review.

Instead, I'm just putting in a sentence or two about what I thought of them. I'll probably keep updating this thread as I get around to various albums that have been sitting waiting for me to play them.

Joe Bonamassa - Blues of Desperation - While there were a couple of tracks I wasn't all that enamored with, overall this album was another winning blues solo album from Bonamassa.

Boneyard Dog - Bluesbound Train - Another bluesy rock and roll record, this debut album was pretty much kicking my ass each time I listened to it.

U2 - The Joshua Tree 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition - Sadly, while I absolutely love the album itself (it is one of my all-time favorites), the anniversary edition isn't much to write home about. Disc 1 is the original album while Disc 2 is a live concert from the Joshua Tree tour. It's not bad, but there's nothing special about it really.

Inglorious - S/T - I was really kind of hyped up about this album but I think the fact I've already sold it off on eBay might give you a hint about my final reaction to the album. Okay, that might be slightly unfair but after listening to the album four times and I couldn't really pick a single memorable song out of it, there's obviously something of a disconnect.

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Lynch / Pilson - Wicked Underground (2003)

I picked this album up recently from a member of a CD group that I belong to on Facebook. I remember when the album was originally released. I was still pretty big into Dokken at the time and wanted to check out the album. I remember two songs that I heard from the disc, but invariably I just never got around to buying the album. Time passed and it just slipped through the cracks for me.

So when I saw it up for grabs, I got it. And I have to say, sadly, that I was kind of disappointed in the finished product.

The two songs I remember were "Beast In The Box" and "Zero The End". They did not disappoint when I heard them again for the first time in a long time. I also liked the songs "Vaccine" and "Goodbye Utopia".

Unfortunately, I was rather underwhelmed by the rest of the songs. They just engendered little feeling in me. Whether fast paced, slower in tempo or an instrumental, the songs lacked some kind of spark that would've made me love them.

I'm a bit sad that I didn't end up liking the album more considering how amped up I was to finally be able to get my hands on a copy.

Bob Seger - Face The Promise (2006) - The 16th studio album from Seger was kind of a hit and miss affair for me. There were some definite stand out cuts including "Wreck This Heart", the title track" and "Between".

But I found that for all the time I spent listening to the album, the songs I didn't like that much on first listen didn't get much better after each additional spin of the album. Tracks like "Wait For Me", "Won't Stop", "Are You" and "The Long Goodbye" felt like pure filler cuts.

I was surprised at how much I like the song "Real Mean Bottle", Seger's duet with Kid Rock. Not because the song was good, but rather that I'm usually turned off by almost all of Kid Rock's music. But give the guy his due, this song was great. I also liked the rather intriguing "No More".

So yes, there is some good music on Face The Promise. I just wish there'd been more to like than what I inevitably found.

I think I picked this up and then sold it back to the used store fairly soon after...  felt like filler to me as well...  I still like his newest one though!

Which new one? The Last Herd CD or his last solo release?

Helloween - Pink Bubbles Go Ape (1991) - In taking a full accounting of Helloween's studio album discography, I think it is pretty much agreed that Pink Bubbles Go Ape and Chameleon are the two worst releases the band has done.

I recently got my hands on both albums at long last. I've never owned or really heard much from either disc. For this album, I have to say that while it is far from great, it ended up not being nearly as bad as I'd been led to believe.

Of course, things do start off apocalyptically bad with the 35 second title track which is just an abomination. Seriously, it flat out sucks. But that one does end up giving way to one of the band's more entertaining tracks in "Kids Of The Century". It's a killer fast paced track with a great sound and a real enticing chorus. "Number One" is a slower track but it was also one I enjoyed. Other tracks I liked were "The Chance" and "Someone's Crying".

But then you have songs like "Mankind", which despite it's slightly throttled back rocking musical backing, was just annoyingly flat overall. And perhaps this indicates a lack of a sense of humor on my part, but I was rather embarrassed to be listening to the song "Heavy Metal Hamsters". The title is completely stupid and there's no redemption on the horizon by hearing the song either.

The album does have some high points, so it isn't completely terrible but I can understand why it isn't really remembered fondly by the band's fanbase.

Helloween - Chameleon (1993)

Of all the Helloween albums, this is the one that is seemingly considered the absolute bottom of the barrel in terms of quality. Or at least that's what I've heard and read over the years. I never owned the album until a few weeks ago when I bought it off someone that's part of a Facebook group for fans of the compact disc.

So what did I think of it? Well, I'm split about this album. Clearly there are some surprisingly good songs on it. When the band sounds like themselves, the tracks are good. The opening song "First Time" is pretty rocking and quite a cool little number. I also really liked "Step Out Of Hell".

Meanwhile, the song "Giants" manages to sound like a traditional sounding Helloween song, but sadly it was also relatively uninteresting.

And that's pretty much the main problem with this album. It's not simply that it's a bad Helloween album, it is more like it is the members of Helloween playing music that is, for the most part, clearly NOT them.

The absurdly titled "Crazy Cat" has such a liberal use of a horns section that it fails to mix well with the more rocking nature of the song. And the sound effects at the end of the track are just stupid. The weird closing to "When The Sinner" ruined what was an otherwise decent song. That song had this weird musical undercurrent in the slower portions of the cut that gave it an ominous foreboding that something more hardcore might be in the offing.

"In The Night" started out interestingly enough but the chorus ended up being the only true earworm part  of the song. The song pretty much meandered aimlessly for far too long.

Other than "Music", the rest of the songs on the disc ranged from boring to just flat out lame and or BAD! "Music" had a great line in "Music Is like sunrise to me". The first time I heard the line it really struck me like a thunderbolt. It kind of summed up how I feel about music and I used the line to open up my review of the recent Helloween show that I attended.

Because there were some things I liked about the album, I can't say that I completely hate the Chameleon album, but given that I don't think this is overly representative of the band, it definitely ranks at the bottom of the list for me if I were doing a ranking of the band's studio albums.

I'm so glad they went back to their more metallic roots because if this direction had continued, they likely wouldn't have existed for much longer at the point the album was originally released.

Night Ranger - Seven (1990)

I've been writing a lot about Night Ranger albums in my Cassette Chronicles series. So far, I've done three articles on their albums since cassette is the only format that I've been able to find/afford them on.

But with Seven, it was an affordable used CD that came into my possession. The eleven track disc kicks off with a traditionally fast paced rocker in "Sign Of The Times". It's a killer track and definitely well positioned as the lead song in the track listing.

Unfortunately for me, the album then gets bogged down in a slot of merely adequate songs or downright crappy songs. Seriously! Despite the strong storytelling in the lyrics of "Soul Survivor", the six songs following "Sign Of The Times" are just downright head-scratching. I had a hard time getting into them at all.

Of course, just when I was ready to forget about listening to the rest of the album, Night Ranger pops off a double shot of great sounding track with "Sea Of Love" (another kick ass rocker) and "Peace Sign" which is a mostly uptempo number that features a great set of lyrics.

But that revelry is a bit short lived as the album closes out with a substandard ballad in "When I Call On You" and while the song "Revelation" rocks hard, it failed to be convincing enough for me to really enjoy the track.

By the way, whoever designed the inside of the CD booklet should be shot. The design makes reading the text pretty difficult. I was able to make out that the now ex-Great White singer Jack Russell provided backing vocals on the album.

That stuff aside, there's three really great Night Ranger songs on this disc and the rest is just stuff that should've been left in a basement somewhere and forgotten about.

I felt the same about Neverland which I picked up used.  The opener on that disc is probably one of my favorite NR tracks of all time, but the disc quickly falls flat after that.  However, this bands album seem to always be an acquired taste.  The more you listen the more you like.  Not the case with Neverland as well.  That's kept me away from their work since then, this affirms that tact...

I keep picking up the albums that I don't have. I haven't given up simply because I always find a few songs on albums that I don't particularly enjoy as a whole. And I'd hate to be missing out.

But I had someone else say they love this album so as always opinions vary.

Kip Winger - Thisconversationseemslikeadream (1996)

While I'd known that Kip Winger had recorded solo albums, I had never shown much interest in listening to them. But when a certain fellow member of CRB found a copy of this album, I ended up with it. It probably traces back to seeing Kip Winger in a solo concert a couple months back, but I really enjoyed that show and wanted to check out some of the solo songs I heard during the show.

So what did I think of this disc? Well, it was a bit different to say the least. There's not much in the way of anything that resembles his "day job". There were some cool moments on the album but I would say that the majority of the album didn't end up appealing to me all that much.

I did like the way the vocals on "Angel Of The Underground" came out partially hushed. It gave a different depth of feeling to the track. I also loved "Steam". It has a great vibe musically and it grabs your ear pretty quickly.

"Daniel" was a pretty cool sounding track with its slightly faster pacing and the stronger vocal presence on "How Far Will We Go" lent itself quite nicely to the finished product.

But the rest of the material just felt limp to me. I know that the music is supposed to be diametrically opposite of what Kip does in Winger, but on this particular solo album it just didn't work with most of the track listing.

Shaw-Blades - Influence (2007)

While this album is competently performed and everything sounds great, I simply wonder why this was ever recorded and released. The takes of classic songs that are on this album aren't all that much different from the original songs. Also, because of the radio station we have to listen to at work, I hear the original songs all the time. Sadly, this is not an album I'm likely to play again because all it did is make me think, "Eh, whatever."

Engine - Engine (1999) 

The side project for Fates Warning singer Ray Alder had this self-titled debut album and I was an ecstatic fan that purchased it when it was originally released. This would've been when it was available on cassette of course. But for whatever reason, I didn't really get into the album. And soon, the album was gone from my collection.

Then came the second album Superholic, which I freaking loved. So I decided to give the first album another shot. Spoiler alert...I could never find a copy of the album. It wasn't until just recently that I acquired the album on CD and wow, I don't know what I was thinking the first time around. The album rocks and given the pedigree of Ray Alder, Joey Vera and guitarist Bernie Versailles it should've registered much higher in my estimation the first time around.

But I'm glad that it did this time around because I really am digging this one now.


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