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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This is a stellar album.  I think Where Were You is a gem of the band’s catalog.  Line of Fire is killer too!

Nice to see we agree on this one.

AC/DC - Fly On The Wall (1985 / 2003) - I was able to pick up a brand new copy of the remastered edition of this album off eBay and cross off another line off my list of AC/DC albums I didn't yet own. But the thing about the Fly On The Wall album is I ended up thinking it just isn't very good. I know that the essay that comes in the remastered edition's booklet plays up the album like it is a great one, but there's a few problems that defy that contention.

First, there's really not a big classic track on the disc at all. Now, that's not always a requirement but since I'd never listened to the album in full before, it was odd to discover that I pretty much just knew of the song "Sink The Pink" before now.

Another issue for me is that, for whatever reason, the Brian Johnson vocal tracks are so low in the mix on most of the songs that you can barely hear what he's singing beyond the song titles. I don't know whose idea that was, but it was a rather disastrous move.

And the biggest issue I had? The songs just aren't all that great. Sure, most of the songs are squarely rooted in the AC/DC song formula of heavy bluesy rock and roll. But while "Sink The Pink" is memorable (likely due more to the fact that I'd actually heard that song before), there's not a lot more to single out. It's not that the material is BAD per se, but it is definitely relatively unmemorable. In fact, other than the fast moving heavy stomp feel of "Playing With Girls", I'd be hard-pressed to pick out another track that I'd say I really loved.

I know that the album went platinum when it was released but for me the overall disappointment I felt with Fly On The Wall means I am unlikely to find myself playing it much going forward.

AC/DC - Blow Up Your Video (1988 / 2003) - I picked up the remastered edition of this album as part of picking up all of the band's studio albums at long last. And though I hadn't ever listened to the whole album before, it certainly struck me as being a whole lot better than the Fly On The Wall album I wrote about just above. The first thing I noted is that the mix is so much better. You can actually make out what Brian Johnson is singing!

The album features only 1 real big track for AC/DC. But with that song being "Heatseeker", listeners get a monster track that still holds up as an all-time great track. Of course, that there is only one really big song means the remaining nine tracks are somewhat new discoveries for me. I can't say I was overly enthused about "Go Zone" but otherwise Blow Up Your Video has all the earmarks you'd expect to find on an AC/DC album. Songs like "Kissin' Dynamite", "Ruff Stuff" and the album closing "This Means War" find the band in fine form as they rock out on each track. But songs like "Meanstreak" (with some great guitar work) and "Some Sin For Nuthin'" were big favorites of mine as I listened to the disc. I loved the wordplay of the latter track's title and the way the chorus was constructed. Then you have even more fiery rockers in "Nick Of Time", which is just a blazing track and "That's The Way I Wanna Rock N Roll". That song is one I THINK I've heard before but I can't be sure. However, what I do know from listening to it now is that I just freaking loved it!

All in all, just a really good album that is packed with some great material that makes me want to keep listening over and over again.

Lonerider - Attitude (2019) - When this debut album was originally announced and then released, I was very excited about it. I heard a song ahead of time and it sounded like a modern Bad Company album. No surprise given that Simon Kirke is the drummer for Lonerider. But despite my interest, I somehow never got around to buying the album. Then earlier this year, I was surprised to learn there was a second album out now as well. So I figured it was time to get on the ball and hear the first disc before purchasing the 2nd one.

With Steve Overland on vocals, I admit I was a little surprised to see my initial "modern Bad Company" description held mostly true to form. Not a bad thing considering Bad Company is one of my all-time favorite groups but it was a bit odd upon first listen. Still, I was pretty pleased with the album overall.

The songs "Imagination" and "Lonerider" give an immediate kick in the pants to the album. Songs like "Fast Train", "One In A Million" and "Rhythm Of Life are other great straight forward rockers too.

When Lonerider downshifts to a slower tempo, you get songs like "Wanted Man" which reminded me a little of the song "Bad Company". I liked the lyrical content of "Yesterday's Heroes" which has a great nostalgic feel and hook to the track. Meanwhile "Gimme Your Love" has a solid stomp rocker vibe.

Two of my favorite tracks are "Angel Without Wings" which is just a fast moving rocker that grabbed my ear from the start. And "Rock & Roll Dreamer" plays out like the song "Shooting Star" without the tragic ending.

This was a strong album that was full of great melodies, a driving rock & roll feel and kept me quite entertained from beginning to end.

Dream Theater - Images And Words (1992) - Like many people, this album is where I first became aware of Dream Theater. And that's due to the massive amount of radio play they got for the song "Pull Me Under". While it may not be cool to admit it if you are trying to be Mr. Prog Master or something, I think that song is still fantastic and I'm glad it is what got me to listen to Dream Theater.

But that's just the first song on the album and man, this is such a great album! I've been listening to it a few times over the last couple of weeks and I still love it as much as I did when I first got the album.

Songs like "Another Day" and "Take The Time" are monster tracks in their own right. And for me, I just loved "Surrounded" from the start. There's something about the way James LaBrie's vocals on this song that really drew me into the song and every time I hear it I invariably think, "this is such a cool song".

To be honest, the only song I had a hard time getting into when the album first came out was "Metropolis - Part I: 'The Miracle And The Sleeper' ". Thing is, I don't remember why I didn't like it back then. But now, I've found that I've grown to appreciate the track a lot more than I did 30 years ago. It's vibrantly scored throughout the track and it just hits me differently now.

I love the way "Under A Glass Moon" opens so full throttle and when LaBrie's vocals kick in, the song pulls back a little without sacrificing anything in terms of quality. Loving this song a lot more this time around too.

And while it is the shortest song on the album, the song "Wait For Sleep" has this amazing keyboard sound repeating throughout the song that just gets me every time. Probably one of my particular favorites on Images And Words.

The album's longest track, "Learning To Live" closes out the disc. Just another killer track and that repeating sound from "Wait For Sleep" reappears during this song a couple of times.

This is still one of my favorite Dream Theater albums and I don't see that changing any time soon.

NIGHT RANGER - Midnight Madness (1983) - I owned the cassette version of this album from pretty much when the album was released. But I hadn't listened to the album in a while because it had worn out. So I upgraded to a brand new CD edition recently and that let me experience the album almost as if it was new to me once more.

The 2nd album from the band and man did they hit it out of the park with this one. While only three songs were released as singles (the huge hit "Sister Christian", plus (You Can Still) Rock In America" and "When You Close Your Eyes"). While all three are now classic tracks for Night Ranger, as I listened to the album I realized that Midnight Madness is almost a greatest hits album all on its own. You've got killer tracks like "Rumours In The Air", "Why Does Love Have To Change" and "Touch Of Madness". And those songs come backed by "Chippin' Away" and "Let Him Run". In fact, the only song that I haven't heard so many times that they all sound like hit songs is "Passion Play" and that song is just as fantastic as all the rest.

The songs on Midnight Madness range from fast moving anthemic rockers to all-time ballads. Full of melody with a great hard rock feel, there's an incredible sense of musicianship on the disc. Add in some great vocals from both Jack Blades and drummer Kelly Keagy and it is easy to see why Night Ranger hit is so very big with Midnight Madness.

Alice Cooper - Trash (1989) - Despite the fact that the Trash album was released the year I graduated from high school, it wasn't until recently that I've ever heard the album in full. Which is kind of surprising given that I loved the two most recognizable hits that came from the release.

Trash was kind of a comeback album for Alice Cooper. Desmond Child was brought on board as a producer and he co-wrote nine of the ten songs. This isn't a surprise given his reputation for hit making at the time. The songs "Poison" and "House of Fire" are testament to that reputation. Each track was a monster hit and they still sound great to this day.

I admit that "Only My Heart Talkin'" was a halfway decent ballad, but I don't think it is a GREAT song. That was the fourth and final single released from the album. But it was better than the other ballad track "Hell Is Living Without You". Oddly, I wasn't taken with the album's title track.

But what made me really like the album was how many of the lesser known tracks I did end up liking. The album was filled with guest appearances galore, whether musically or songwriting co-write credits. Trash had guests like Kip Winger, 4/5 of Aerosmith, Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Steve Lukather and Joan Jett. And that doesn't even factor in Cooper having Alan St. Jon and Bobby Chouinard from Billy Squier's band on hand for most of the record too. All this led to some great songs like the rocking "Spark In The Dark", "Why Trust You", "Bed Of Nails" (which has a killer hook and chorus) and "I'm Your Gun". Oh, and "This Maniac's In Love With You" is another song with a strong uptempo driving rhythm and earworm of a chorus.

Trash helped to turn the commercial fortunes of Alice Cooper around in the late 1980s and it did it with a solid set of songs that still manage to resonate more than thirty years later.

Nice to see you got around to listening to one of the CDs you purchased from me.

Great album. I love even the ballads on this one. He sure pulled some respectable talent to record the album. If I remember correctly Guy Mann Dude played guitar here. Can't remember if he was on the whole album or on a few tracks only.

Anyway, looking forward to your other brief reviews from the same bunch.

I've been listening to a few of the albums, just haven't written about them yet. The benefit of being able to take my time with them.

And I looked it up: Guy Mann-Dude played guitar on "Spark in the Dark", "Why Trust You" and "This Maniac's in Love With You".

Helix - Eat Sleep Rock - Best of 1996 - 2020 (2020) - This Helix release is mainly a compilation album. It takes tracks from albums the band released between 1996 and 2020. But there are a couple of tracks included that are relatively brand new. The lead track "The Story of Helix" is a spoken word performance that does indeed tell listeners the history of the band starting back in 1974.

But it isn't just some random recitation of facts. It's got a host of bells and whistles included in the performance that makes the track informative, humorous and ear catching to say the least. That leads directly into the compilation's title track "Eat Sleep Rock". It's a new-ish track and it's got a wild raucous and rocking delivery and feel that made me like it right from the start.

The remaining nine tracks are comprised of eight Helix tracks and the song "I'm A Live Frankenstein" from singer Brian Vollmer's solo album. That song is an uptempo kind of groove driven rocker. It's decent but I don't think I got into that one as much as some of the other tracks.

You get a double barrelled shot of pure rocking adrenaline with "Shock City Psycho Rock" and "Wrecking Ball". As I listened to them I had a electric charge running through me. And "Wrecking Ball" has a pretty cool chorus as well.
Some of the song titles do lend themselves to a kind of tongue-in-cheek feel at times. I mean, there aren't many bands that would call a song "(Gene Simmons Says) Rock Is Dead". At least I don't think there are.

The majority of the album is all uptempo rock and the band keeps mining that particular vein on tracks like "Even Jesus (Wasn't Loved In His Hometown)" and "Cyber Space Girl". And the song "When The Bitters Got The Better of You" is just killer!

While your mileage may vary regarding your level of fandom for Helix, as I listened to Eat Sleep Rock I came to realize that while their Wild In The Streets album is always going to be my favorite release from their catalog, the band has a ton of great songs that I have yet to be discovered. The Eat Sleep Rock compilation does a great job of whetting my appetite for digging deeper into the band's full discography!


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