Archive for the ‘ 2012 Reviews ’ Category

Top 10 Albums of 2012

Before I get into it let’s just clear the air. Yes I do love the new Van-Halen album, but no it is not on this list. Why you ask? Because, 80% of the album was written in between 1976-1979 and because of that there is no proof that they are a cohesive unit capable of making great music in today’s era. The album is sensational, Eddie’s playing is Frelling out of this world and yes the album is amazing and probably a contender for the album of the year, however because of circumstances I can not in good conscience add it to this list filled with a lot of other contemporaries of the band that are still writing new material in the 21st century that is just as amazing as their 70’s and 80’s output! With that said…

“Let’s Get It On!!”

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10.) UFO – Seven Deadly

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For reasons that nobody can quite comprehend UFO never really caught on with the American record buying rock fans. Here in the States they are the kind of band that you either love them or you can’t name one of their songs, but yet any rock fan who knows anything about anything has them in the top 10 rock bands of all time! In the 70′s guitar God Michael Schenker (former scorpions) took the band to the heights of rock greatness and in the 80′s his replacement, guitar virtuoso Paul Chapman helped them reach their creative peak.

Today UFO is still going strong, making great music and touring the world and have recently released their latest album “Seven Deadly”, their fourth with guitarist Vinnie Moore who joined the band in 2004. The one thing that sets Vinnie Moore apart from his predecessors is his bluesy style which has been for me both a blessing and a curse for the band. Moores bluesy style has infused a new sound into the music and made it fresh, but at the same time because of that I have felt that the songs lost that unique UFO style and flair I was accustomed to.With “Seven Deadly” I am happy to say that the team of Mogg and Moore have reconciled this issue and created an album that takes Moores blues rock style and incorporates it almost flawlessly into the classic UFO sound.

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9.) Black Country Communion –  Afterglow

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With the release of their third album (in quick succession I may add), Black Country Communion prove to be more than a mere supergroup, but an actual band! Not only are they releasing albums quickly, but none of them seem rushed. They are all amazing in quality, great musicianship, solid songwriting and amazing production by Kevin Shirley. Not only that but Afterglow is in my opinion their best work yet. Solid retro rock (Zepplin meets Deep Purple) with a bit of funk!

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8.) Jack Blades – Rock’N’Roll Ride

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Straight off the heels Night Rangers 2011 sensation “Somewhere in California”, Jack Blades wastes no time getting back in the studio, this time for his new solo album “Rock’n’Roll Ride” and the outcome is just as sensational! Some of the songs are in the same vein as “Somewhere in California” and may have been written in the same sessions, but nevertheless this is some great Rock and Roll music!!

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7.) Jeff Scott Soto – “Damage Control”

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This was one of the year’s biggest shockers! JSS is one of the best in the business, an amazing vocalist who I would match against just about anybody in the rock world. That being said, “Damage Control” might be the best thing he has ever done!! The songs are just amazing and not a clunker in the bunch!

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6.) Richard Marx – “Inside My Head”

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In all honesty, I may have placed this album a bit higher than it actually should be, however it has been very personal album for me. It was just one of those albums that came out at the perfect moment in my life and got me out of a major funk I was in. A typical Richard Marx album, he knows what he is good at and he sticks to it. He is a great songwriter and this album is filled with them. Soft Rock? Definitely. But pretty great soft rock and food for heartbreak. Definitely a mood album, but I put it here and I am sticking to it!!!

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5.) Eclipse – “Bleed and Scream”

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Holy Shit! This album frelling rocks!! Erik Martenssen (Lead Singer, guitarist and main songwriter) is a busy man. Between Eclipse, W.E.T. , and writing, recording and producing with a bunch of other artists (Including last years album of the year winner Toby Hitchcock) I don’t know how this guy finds time to wipe his butt! He is definitely the most talented person to come along in the past decade. He can do it all and the new Eclipse album is proof. “Bleed and Scream” is Eclipse’s third album and they just keep getting better and better!! Everything from the songwriting to the production to the musicianship is outstanding and not only that, THIS ALBUM FRELLING ROCKS!!!!

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4.) Jimi Jamison – “Never Too Late”

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And speaking of Erik Martensson…  guess who Wrote, Produced and plays guitar, bass, keyboards and provides backing vocals on this gem? That’s right folks, the busiest man in music! Being so impressed with what Eric did on Toby Hitchcock’s debut solo album “Mercury Down”, Erik was asked by Jimi Jamison to work his magic on Jimi’s new album and the result is more amazingness!! The past few years have seen quit an output from Jimi. Since he split from Survivor he went from putting out one album in 10 years to the past few years putting out or being involved in about 2 albums per year! He is in the midst of a rebirth and “Never Too Late” is an album not to be missed!!!

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3.) Rick Springfield – “Songs For The End Of The World”

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I will never for the life of me figure out why the hell Rick Springfield gets such a bad rap in America! This guy is an amazing talent! An amazing and versatile songwriter who really knows how to keep with the times while still being true to himself. After all the years the guy just keeps getting better and better (and looks pretty frelling amazing for a 62 year old!!) “Songs For the End of the World” is a masterpiece and you should run out and buy it right now!!

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2.) Nightwish – “Imaginarium”

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Nightwish took a huge risk with this album and it payed off big time! A lot of people have described a lot of albums as Epic, but Nightwish’s “Imaginarium” is the  only one deserving of the word. In all my life I have never heard anything like it! A Cinematic Symphony that has taken me on such and epic journey from beginning to end!

“Imaginarium” is epic in it’s undertaking; a concept album whose basis is scary fairy-tails and bedtime stories which basically come together to create one story and take the listener on a journey. Put together by the bands driving creative force and keyboard player Tuomas Holopainen the album moves as an individual story and each track being part of a complete soundtrack. In fact if you splurge for the two disc version you get a second disc with a complete instrumental version of the album which gives the cinematic feel of the mind even greater depth.

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1.) Pride of Lion’s – “Immortal”

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I said it before and I will say it again… “GREATEST ALBUM IN MUSIC HISTORY!!” This album has been out for about 7 months and in that span I have already listened to this album from beginning to end more than I have listened to any other album in all my life!

Words cannot describe how incredible this album is! As a diehard fan of all things Jim Peterik expectations were very high for this album. The man is an amazing and very versatile songwriter and no matter who or what he is writing for always brings his A game whether it be Survivor, Pride of Lions, solo Work, Ides of March, or any other artists. Pride of Lion’s however is in a league of it’s own.

Mister Jim Peterik has gone above and beyond with the latest Pride of Lion’s Masterpiece “Immortal” and produced some of the greatest songs not only of his amazing career but of all time and the Unnaturally talented voice of Mr. Toby Hitchcock has brought them to life in a way that doesn’t even seem possible! However, credit must also be given to the players composing the Pride of Lion’s band as the musicianship as always is top notch and I would expect noting less!

With “Immortal” Pride of Lion’s has created what I believe to be the greatest album of ALL TIME!!! It Speaks to the hearts and makes me not only want to better myself but makes me want to better the world!

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Coming soon!! Top 15 songs of 2012!!

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Pride of Lions “Immortal” – Album Review

Wow!!! Just Wow!!! Words cannot describe how incredible this album is! As a diehard fan of all things Jim Peterik expectations were very high for this album. The man is an amazing and very versatile songwriter and no matter who or what he is writing for always brings his A game whether it be Survivor, Pride of Lions, solo Work, Ides of March, or any other artists. Pride of Lion’s however is in a league of it’s own. Who would believe that a man in the twilight of his career comes out with the best and most inspirational songs of his career and that is just what Pride of Lion’s is… Inspirational, even to the point of sometimes even borderline Christian Rock.

As great as Jim is he of course cannot be given full credit for the albums greatness and at this point I must acknowledge his partner young lion, Toby Hitchcock! I have said it from the very first POL album… THIS BOY CAN SING!!! Every album he somehow seems to get better and better and on “Immortal” he gives the vocal performance of his career! Even, dare I say it, the greatest vocal performance ever put on a rock record! Powerful and from the heart!!!

Best Tracks:

1.) Immortal– The album kicks off with a bang! The title track Immortal holds some of the most inspirational lyrics Jim ever wrote. Great chorus, great bridge, great song!!

Pride of Lions – “Immortal” 

2.) Delusional– The debut single from the album and again very beautiful and inspirational lyrics.

3.) Tie Down the Wind–  Wonderful mid-tempo song.

4.) Shine On– I absolutely love this song! Starts out slow and ballad like but picks up speed and transforms into a sensational mid-temp rocker! Wonderfully Brilliant!! Love the arrangement of this masterpiece!

5.) Everything That Money Can’t Buy– The first ballad of the album and it’s Beautifully Brilliant! By rights this should be a hit single.

6.) Coin of the Realm– Here we have Jim revisiting the old Survivor Days! Very reminiscent of “Eye of the Tiger”. Definitely recommend putting this one on your Exercise playlist! Great Guitar riff, great chorus!

7.)Sending My Love– The second of three ballads and my personal favorite! Just Beautiful!

8.) Vital Signs– Here is the song I was most curious about. This was intended to be the title track of  Survivors pitch perfect “Vital Signs” album but according to Jim just wasn’t ready, but after 25 years is finally complete and well worth the wait!! Awesome Rocker!! Great guitar work, great melodies, great chorus, great bridge!! Great song!

9.) If It Doesn’t Kill Me– This song really spoke to me and has become very personal in my present station in life, but aside from that is quit possibly one of the greatest songs ever written! Big Rocker, Huge Chorus, Amazing guitar work. The perfect song! Already song of the year! No Competition!!

Pride of Lions – “If It Doesn’t Kill Me”

10.) Are You The Same Girl- Last of the three ballads. Very moody and a bit theatrical.

11.) Ask Me Yesterday- A great way to end the album! Big rocker, reflecting on the past but looking to the future. Another huge chorus! More great guitar work!

Mister Jim Peterik has gone above and beyond with the latest Pride of Lion’s Masterpiece “Immortal” and produced some of the greatest songs not only of his amazing career but of all time and the Unnaturally talented voice of Mr. Toby Hitchcock has brought them to life in a way that doesn’t even seem possible! However, credit must also be given to the players composing the Pride of Lion’s band as the musicianship as always is top notch and I would expect noting less!

With “Immortal” Pride of Lion’s has created what I believe to be the greatest album of ALL TIME!!! It Speaks to the hearts and makes me not only want to better myself but makes me want to better the world!

GRADE  – 100!!! 

MeatLoaf- “Hell In A Handbasket” Album Review

Depending on what country you live in this album is either rather new or rather old, but either way astonishing that Meat has put out a new album in such a short span of time as most MeatLoaf albums are far between. “Hell in a Handbasket” is the follow-up to 2010’s “Hang Cool Teddy Bear” which I just love to death and rank it as Meat’s best non Bat album. As for “Hell in a Handbasket”, I unfortunately cannot give the same praise.

The album itself is not a bad one, it is just missing that usually flair and style that has come to be expected from a MeatLoaf album. Despite having many different songwriters, the albums keeps it’s main focus and has a definite homespun feel, a big difference from the big theatrics we are used to from MeatLoaf.

The part of any MeatLoaf album I love most and that I always expect the most from are the duets with Patti Russo and the big one on “Hell In A Handbasket” is “Our Love and Our Souls”, which I am sorry to say is probably the weakest song the pair has ever done.”

Every artists every once in a while has to do what he wants to do whether or not the fans will like it or not, and this is definitely Meat doing what he wants to do. He had a message he wanted to get out and he did that. While this is not by any means my favorite MeatLoaf album, I can respect what he set out to do.

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Grade- C

Sunstorm- “Emotional Fire” Album Review

This review is late as hell, but I am just damn lazy!!

When I heard about Joe Lynn Turner’s new Sunstorm album I couldn’t have been more excited! Sunstorm’s 2007 self titled album and 2009’s “House of Dreams” are among my all time favorite’s and I feel the kind of Arena Rock style that JLT put’s out with Sunstorm is perfect for his style and voice!

That being said, I am not into “Emotional FIre” as much as I am the last two releases. It is definitely a good album and will please any and all fans of JLT and AOR in general. The songs are in the same vain and of the same quality writing and production as the previous albums and I believe that to be the problem, everything is great, but nothing is different.

The album itself is composed of a 11 tracks, 8 are new and 3 are Michael Bolton / Diane Warren compositions that JLT sang back-up vocals on.

Track By Track:

1.) Never Give Up– Nice Opener and everything you expect to hear on a Sunstorm album, however suffers a little from the “heard it before syndrome”

2.) Emotional Fire– The first of the covers, originally performed by Cher and written by Michael Bolton and Diane Warren. I love the original Cher version of this song to death. (Don’t judge, she rocked in the 80’s!!), I like this version as well, but could have maybe changed the arrangement around.

3.) Lay Down Your Arms– Dark and Moody and a little modern. Not what I expected and a surpirse.

4.) You Wouldn’t Know Love– The second cover written by the Bolton / Warren team and originally sung by Michael Bolton and again by Cher. Suffers the same fate as “Emotional Fire”, I don’t mind it but could have changed the arrangement

5.) Wish You Were Here– One of my favorite tracks on the album, pitch perfect AOR!

6.) Torn In Half- Best track on the album! Great Rocker and good FU song!

7.) Gina– Third and last of the Bolton covers and one of my favorite Bolton tunes. Same problem as the others, like this version but could have updated the arrangements otherwise it just causes comparisons with the Bolton version.

8.) The Higher You Rise– Great uplifting rocker! Good Warrior song, throw it on your IPOD running mix!

9.) Emily– Big keyboard driven rocker, plays to my love of songs with girls names!

10.) Follow Your Heart– Love the Cheese!! Definitely can imagine this on an 80’s movie soundtrack!!

11.) All I Am– Closes out the album with a great power ballad. Great song and perfect album closer.

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Even though “Emotional Fire” is the weakest of JLT’s Sunstorm albums so far as it  good album and fits in nicely with the rest of the catalogue. It may somewhat suffer from recognition, but the songs are good and production great! Sure to please any fan of JLT

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GRADE- B

UFO- “Seven Deadly” Album Review

For reasons that nobody can quite comprehend UFO never really caught on with the American record buying rock fans. Here in the States they are the kind of band that you either love them or you can’t name one of their songs, but yet any rock fan who knows anything about anything has them in the top 10 rock bands of all time! In the 70’s guitar God Michael Schenker (former scorpions) took the band to the heights of rock greatness and in the 80’s his replacement, guitar virtuoso Paul Chapman helped them reach their creative peak. Through it all, however, it was the songwriting skill of the bands leader and lead singer, Phil Mogg that kept the band relevant through more than four decades and various musical scene changes.

Today UFO is still going strong, making great music and touring the world and have recently released their latest album “Seven Deadly”, their fourth with guitarist Vinnie Moore who joined the band in 2004. The one thing that sets Vinnie Moore apart from his predecessors is his bluesy style which has been for me both a blessing and a curse for the band. Moores bluesy style has infused a new sound into the music and made it fresh, but at the same time because of that I have felt that the songs lost that unique UFO style and flair I was accustomed to. Still all great records, just not what I wanted.

With “Seven Deadly” I am happy to say that the team of Mogg and Moore have reconciled this issue and created an album that takes Moores blues rock style and incorporates it flawlessly into the classic UFO sound. On top of that Phil Mogg has belted out some of his best lyrics in well over a decade!

Stand-Out Tracks:

1.) Fight Night- Absolute Classic!! From the first listen has become one of my favorite tracks in UFO history! Rocks Hard and has big attitude! Very reminiscent  of “Fighting Man” from “Sharks”

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2.) Wonderland- Hard and Riff Heavy! Awesome solo by Moore

3.) Mojo Town- Bluesy with some mega Funk!

5.) Year of the Gun- Awesome riff another big Attitude song.

6.) The Last Stone Rider- Great blues rock! Retro vibe

7.) Steal Yourself- Another bluesy track, a bit darker.

9.) The Fear- Roadhouse blues, very reminiscent of George Thorogood

12.) Bag o’ Blues- Recorded in mono, old fashion number, just Phil and a piano. Great way to end the album

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Despite my overall feeling of the Vinnie Moore era of UFO, one thing is undeniable and that is he has definitely breathed new life into the band. With “Seven Deadly” the boys in UFO have finally managed the perfect symmetry of Moore’s blues rock style with classic UFO sound and the result is the best UFO album in over 25 years! Congrats!!

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Grade-   A-

Nightwish- “Imaginarium” Album Review

I will admit that on the whole I am not a big fan of symphonic metal, but for some reason Nightwish stands out above all the rest. There talent for writing great epic songs is unmatched in the genre and former lead vocalist Tarja Trunen magnificent voice is unmatched to this day. However, Tarja is no longer in the band and they have soldiered on with new singer Anette Olzen of Alyson Avenue fame.

Now Anette’s voice is totally different from the classically trained one of Tarja’s, but still one of the best female vocalist out there. Even so, her first Nightwish album “Dark Passion Play”, failed to impress me, so Nightwish’s new epic “Imaginarium” was a very important album for the band and I am happy to say that they totally blew me away and took away any doubt I ever had about the bands ability to continue without Tarja!

“Imaginarium” is epic in it’s undertaking; a concept album whose basis is scary fairy-tails and bedtime stories basically which basically come together to create one story and take the listener on a journey. Put together by the bands driving creative force and keyboard player Tuomas Holopainen the album basically moves as an individual story and each track being part of a complete soundtrack. In fact if you splurge for the two disc version you get a second disc with a complete instrumental version of the album which gives the cinematic feel of the mind even greater depth.

Track by Track:

1.) Taikatalvi– Written and sung completely in Finnish, I have no clue what is actually being said, but the music is still haunting and gives you an idea of where the album is going. A haunting lullaby melody.

2.) Storytime– the first single from the album and by far the most accessible and commercial track on the album. The basis for the Anette Olzen era, classic Nightwish, but with a new twist.

3.) Ghost River– Hard and Heavy, I am usually not a fan of the songs featuring co vocals with bassist Marco Hietala as his vocals are just very  rough and guttural, but this is one of the rare occasions where it works perfectly as his part is supposed to scare the hell out of you and that’s just what his voice does.

4.) Slow, Love Slow– Haunting and yet beautiful, definitely sets a scene for the story being told.

5.) I Want My Tears Back– Gets a bit heavy again, a lot of Celtic undertone’s in the music.

6.) Scaretale– Very cinematic and sets a scene. Starts off slow and creepy and picks up steam and gets heavier. Kinda weird and creepy but in a good way.

7.) Arabesue– An instrumental with Arabian undertones. If the album is supposed to feel like an epic story than this is what I would consider the intermission, like can be seen in big epics like  The Ten Commandments and Ben Hur. Go pee (but take the headphones with you)

8.) Turn Loose the Mermaids– If the first part of the album was heavy and a little action packed and getting info, then now we are in the part of the story where the Journey begins. More Celtic Undertone’s, close your eyes and get sucked into the story.

9.) Rest Calm– Dark and Heavy, From what I take away from this album if your listening right this track should make you feel like the weight of the world rests on your shoulders.

10.)  The Crow, The Owl and the Dove– Acoustic, dark and Illuminating.

11.) Last Ride Of The Day– Very Symphonic and and heavy, we are reaching the end of the Journey and getting ready for the final battle.

12.) Song of Myself–  A 14 minute epic split into four parts. Amazing and scenic. Close your eyes and imagine the scene.

13.) Imaginarium– An instrumental montage of the entire album (The end credits if you will)

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Nightwish took a huge risk with this album and it payed off big time! A lot of people have described a lot of albums as Epic, but Nightwish’s “Imaginarium” is the  only one deserving of the word. In all my life I have never heard anything like it! A Cinematic Symphony  has taken me on such and epic journey from beginning to end!

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GRADE- A+

Van Halen “A Different Kind Of Truth”- album review

Ok… so the wait is over and it’s finally here! The most anticipated album of all time 28 years in the making! The excitement and adrenaline are pumping as I put the cd into the player and wait for the new Van-Halen album to start up!! Unfortunately all of the excitement ended there.

Upon my first list to Van-halen’s new album “A Different Kind of Truth” (the bands first since 1998’s VH3 and their first with DLR since 1984) my initial reaction was “What a piece of shit!! This is the worst album I have heard in years!!” Then I composed myself, maybe I just wasn’t in DLR VH mode. After all it’s been such a long time. So I went back listened to all the DLR albums got my head in the right place and took a few more listens to “A Different Kind Of Truth”. Thankfully the album got much better, but still leaves some room for improvement.

The band needed to hit big with this album and while they didn’t knock it out of the park, they got a ground rule double. I don’t feel their heart was really in this album and it kinda shows. Most of the songs are 70’s demos reworked  that didn’t make any of the early albums. Now the good thing about that is that it gives the album a very classic sound and feel. The bad thing about it is that the band is working with their left-over shit which, if you’ve ever heard it, sucked pretty bad the first time!

The album however is not without it’s merits. Eddie’s playing is amazing as we all expect it to be and Alex and Wolfgang make-up a great rhythm section and bring a lot of funkiness (although Mike’s absence is heavily felt in the back-up vocal area).

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Track Listing-

1.) Tattoo– The first single of the album and most commercially accessible and for that reason alone was a good choice. Great groove, but lyrically cheesy. Kinda picks up where the tracks on the Greatest Hits album left off only a little more fun.

2.) She’s The Woman– Re-worked from a shitty demo from the 70’s. Major improvement!! Awesome intro, cool solo, classic VH!

3.) You And Your Blues– Classic VH with a modern edge. Love the Intro, more awesome playing by Eddie. Could feel at home on VH3.

4.) China Town– Another re-work. Awesome intro, very heavy, awesome solo, stupid lyrics. Takes a bunch of listens to get into, but worth it.

5.) Blood and Fire– OK, here we go!! This is more what I was waiting for!! Classic VH sound could have come right off of Women and Children First or Diver Down! Awesome Solo!

6.) Bullethead– This track took me a long time to get into, but eventually won me over. Another shitty demo re-worked, very heavy kind of VH doing punk rock!

7.) As Is– Vey heavy, big drum intro by Alex, vaguely reminiscent of “Naturally Wired” from OU812.

8.) Honey Baby Sweetie Doll– No matter how many times I hear it, this song just sucks ass!! Sounds like someone took a huge diarrhea shit and shoved it in my ears!! Definitely could have been left off the album!

9.) The Trouble With Never– Big and Groovy! Very commercial cool chorus lots of harmonies! Can see this being the bands next single.

10.) Outta Space– More classic VH!! Cheesey, but in a good way that only Dave can pull off! Dave’s high point on the album, and show’s why Eddie was a great innovator!

11.) Stay Frosty–  “Ice-Cream Man” revisited! Starts a bit blue-grassy then picks up. Dave at his best, more Classic VH. Another Great Eddie Solo!

12.) Big River– Another Groover, and more great Eddie guitar. Awesome solo! Shades of classic VH!

13.) Beats Workin’– Great 70’s rock, Monster riff’s  by Eddie. Very Raw sounding. You can definitely tell what decade this song was written in, but that all adds to the charm. Kind of reminds me of D.O.A from VH2.

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Stand-out Tracks-

You And Your Blues

Blood and Fire

The Trouble With Never

Outta Space

Stay Frosty

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I said before, that this album may take a few listens to really get into, and the funny thing about that is as I am writing this review I am giving the album my 6th listen and my opinion has changed drastically! After my first listen I was prepared to give this album a terrible review. After a few more listens I was going to give it an average review, but now as I am listening to it as I am writing this I ended up giving it a pretty dam good review!! A solid album… not their best but a hell of a lot better than I was expecting.

At first I had a hard time getting past Dave’s shitty lyrics. Then I remembered, that’s just Dave! He’s a shitty songwriter, but that’s why we love him! Eddie is a monster and played like a beast all over this album! Part of me wants to say that this album would have probably been better if it had just been and instrumental from beginning to end and am still curious how that would sound.

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Grade – B+