Sunday, July 31, 2016

The chosen ones (Dream Evil) (LP 28-30)

Dream Evil  Dragonslayer (CD - Magic Arts, 2002) ****
Dream Evil  Evilised (CD - Magic Arts, 2003) ***
Dream Evil  The Book of Heavy Metal (CD - Magic Arts, 2004) ****

Genre: Scandinavian pop/rock (Swedish)

Places I rememberVirgin Megastore, Dubai Mall. 

Faband all the other pimply hyperbolesHeavy Metal in the Night (Dragonslayer); and The Book of Heavy Metal is a stormer from album of the same name.

Gear costume: The Chosen Ones (Dragonslayer); Children of the Night (Evilised); Chosen Twice (Book of Heavy Metal) has some great symphony injections.

Active compensatory factors: I fell hard for these dudes after I heard the wonderful Book of Heavy Metal on a compilation (Metal for the Masses). I immediately went back to the Virgin Megastore at the Dubai Mall and bought every Dream Evil album they had (and there were a few - six in fact).

They manage a rare feat - anthemic power metal, self deprecating humour, very self aware of the genre lyrics, with musical chops.

Here are their first three albums.

Dragonslayer is my favourite - their debut, it has great metal guitars and surprisingly great vocals from Niklas Isfeldt (a little...a little like The Scorpions' Klaus Meine at times. A little). Adept at a variety of metal styles, from traditional metal ballads to roaring metal, without the growls - he's got it all!

Evilised suffers a little from second album syndrome. Apart from Made of Metal, it's their least humorous album!

The Book of Heavy Metal (sensing a theme here yet?) is a return to form. Massed vocals, shredding guitar riffs, and humour is back on the table.

Where do they all belong? More Swedish metal like Katatonia and HammerFall. Trust me!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Morgenspaziergang (Kraftwerk) (LP 25-27)

Kraftwerk Autobahn (CD - EMI, 1974) ***
Kraftwerk Trans-Europe Express (CD - Capitol, 1977) ***
Kraftwerk The Man-Machine  (CD - Capitol, 1978) ***

Genre:  German pop/rock 

Places I remember: Fives in Leigh-on-sea. Five pounds each, money really well spent! 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Autobahn; The Model

Gear costume: The Robots; Showroom Dummies 

Active compensatory factors: As you are well aware, I'm a guitars guy, not a synth/ electronica guy. 

I don't buy the whole Kraftwerk schtick, but somehow I own three of their albums. Why? Well, in a word...

Fives! A fabuloso record store in Leigh-on-sea where I lived from August 2004 to January 2007. They had five pound racks where I bought up a load of back catalogue. Including these three.

Getting sick of reading about how seminal the band was and living in Europe (when Great Britain was still part of Europe) meant that I couldn't resist any longer. There were no longer any excuses. 

My best memory of Autobahn was travelling back to Leigh-on-sea with Jade and Samantha in the car from Heathrow, having dropped off Adam and Jacky (Adam was returning to NZ to go to Waikato University). I was teary but Jade was inconsolable (Sam was quiet, but fine). 

All the way home on the M25 we listened to the Autobahn album on repeat.

It's cold freakiness was a perfect soundtrack!

Where do they all belong? Next stop in the German catalogue is the mighty Rammstein. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

For the price of a cup of tea (Belle abd Sebastian) (LP 24)

Belle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit (CD - Rough Trade, 2005) **

Genre:  Scottish pop/rock 

Places I remember: Kings Recording, Abu Dhabi. 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Another Sunny Day. 

Gear costume: Act of the Apostle has a nice jazzy groove.

Active compensatory factors: This is one of those albums that I struggle to listen to until the end. I usually peter out about the end of side 1 (you know what I mean).

I start out with good intentions - the first three songs manage to hook me but it's not often I make it all the way through.

It's also been in my 'to be flicked on' pile from time to time but has managed  a stay of execution each time. I'm not quite sure why. 

Where do they all belong? Belle and Sebastian lack enough of a distinctive personality for me to buy further back catalogue. I always think of them in the same way I regard Everything But The Girl. Pleasant but not really my thing.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Come follow me (The Answer) (LP 22-23)

The Answer Rise (CD - Albert Productions, 2006) ****
The Answer Revival (CD - V2 Records, 2011) ****

Genre:  Irish pop/rock 

Places I remember:  Fives on the Broadway in Leigh-on-sea is a fantastic store in Essex. We lived just across the road in Victoria Rd. They ordered in Rise especially for me. Revival I picked up from JB HiFi in Auckland.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Into The Gutter from Rise and Waste Your Tears from Revival.

Gear costume: Both albums open with a corker. Under The Sky and Preachin' is an epic slide guitar  workout. Really, I could pick anything on either album though.

Active compensatory factors: A young (northern) Irish rock band, The Answer play bluesy classic hard rock like veterans. Unbelievably, Rise is their debut!! 

Revival continues the guitar led assault to great effect.

They've toured with bands like Deep Purple and AC/DC. Fans of those bands should check out The Answer!

Where do they all belong? The Answer's roughly NZ equivalent is The Datsuns - whose own debut is similarly impressive.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

First love (Adele) (LP 19-20)

Adele 19 (CD - XL Recordings, 2008) ***
Adele 21 (CD - XL Recordings, 2011) ****  

Genre: English pop/rock

Places I remember: Kings Recording, Abu Dhabi. 21 was huge while we were living in Al Ain + I backtracked to 19.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Chasing Pavements is the clear standout as a commercial track on 19. 

From 21, Set fire to the Rain is spine tingling,
every time.


Gear costume:  19Hometown Glory shades Make You Feel My Love as the emotive winner on the second side, but My Same would be my favourite song here; 21: Turning Tables is one of many gear moments.

Active compensatory factors: Adele's first album is a mixed bag for me and has now become completely eclipsed by the mega huge 21.

Too many of the songs now sound a little too contrived, but maybe I'm being a tad unfair. As a whole, it just doesn't have the consistent honesty and remarkable heft of 21.

Hey, it's her first, so, like, go easy on her Purdzilla.

21, though? Mega huge, and, for once, the acclaim is justified. Adele is perfect on 21, in a way that I doubt she will ever be again.

Where do they all belong? Adele is firmly in the English diva tradition that takes in Dusty Springfield, Alison Moyet, Amy Winehouse and, yes, Shirley Bassey. Next stop - 25.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pleasure and pain (Bullet For My Valentine) (LP 21)

Bullet For My Valentine Fever (CD - Sony, 2010) *** 

Genre: Welsh pop/rock   

Places I remember:  Virgin Megastore, Dubai Mall. While we were living in Al Ain we visited the mall often! For some reason they had a lot of metal in their bins! 

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:
Bittersweet Memories has some nice light and shade and is catchy as all get out, so it's probably disowned by the hard core metallers, but I like it!

Gear costume: The album opener, Your Betrayal, outlines the boys' strengths well.   

Active compensatory factors:  I'm a sucker for melodic metal like the stuff churned out by these Welsh boys.

The first three songs are hell for leather thrashes (although I'm not a fan of those hyper kinetic drum beats, just sayin'), then the album calms down into some good to great songs with some variety of pace, which is always nice. 

There are some dodgy, slightly misogynistic moments along the way (the band name tends to give things away a tad) which is unfortunate and explains why I've deducted a point for cliche naughtyness.

Where do they all belong? This really suited the driving required in Al Ain/ Dubai - if you're not mildly aggressive you'll get swamped! They use their cars as weapons and if you snooze you won't get too far! 

I'm not sure you need any more than one BFMV album, and so - this is probably it!

From here it's a short hop to Avenged Sevenfold (who I prefer, if you're asking).

There's gonna be some rockin' (AC/DC) (LP 18)

AC/DC Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (CD - Epic, 1976) ***

Genre:   NZ/Australian pop/rock (yes we've finished the genre sections of my collection for a while and we're now into music from different countries - starting with the colonial upstarts)

Places I remember:  Real Groovy, Auckland, NZ.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles:

The title track is hard to go past...  

Gear costume:  ...but Ain't No Fun (waiting round to be a millionaire) has all the AC/DC moves you know and love! 

Active compensatory factors:  There's no escaping AC/DC, so you might as well boogie down with your air guitar and enjoy.

I'm a Bon Scott AC/DC fan rather than a Brian Johnson AC/DC fan. It took me ages to listen to the post Bon albums and they are much more of a mixed bag to my ears.

The riff-a-ramas of this album set the template: the smutty ambiguity (Love at First Feel, Big Balls); the good time humour (Dirty Deeds); the self mythologising (Rocker, There's Going to be Some Rockin'); and those crunching riffs (Problem Child). All present and correct. 

Where do they all belong?  The peak of the Bon Scott years was a little way off. Next up, more of the same, so - Let There Be Rock

Monday, July 4, 2016

Joy, beautiful spark of the gods (Beethoven) (LP 17)

Ludwig Van Beethoven Symphony No.9 in d minor, opus 125 'choral' (CD - Newsound, 2000) ****

Genre:   Classical

Places I remember:  Bought (cheaply) from the Warehouse in Cambridge after I'd read a Mojo (the album that changed my life) article on it.

Fab, and all the other pimply hyperboles: Ode to Joy was the big hit, and deservedly so. It's become the official anthem of the European Union - a class act!


Gear costume: The whole shabang is real nifty, and stimulating.

Active compensatory factors: 

The Symphony No. 9 in D minor, Op. 125 (also known as "the Choral"), is Ludwig van Beethoven's final complete symphony.

Completed in 1824, the symphony is one of the best-known works in classical music, and is almost universally considered one of Beethoven's greatest works.

The symphony was the first example of a major composer using voices in a symphony (thus making it a choral symphony). The words are sung during the final movement by four vocal soloists and a chorus. They were taken from the "Ode to Joy", a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803.

Thanks Wikipedia.

I'm only a dabbler when it comes to classical music - I stick to the biggies in other words. This one is a real toe tapper in parts, melancholy in others and, ultimately, joyful. I feel ridiculously great while listening to it!

Although it didn't change my life (The Beatles got there ahead of him), it is a great unlifting piece of music. 

Where do they all belong?  Actually, I'm more of a fan of the piano sonatas than the symphonies, and that's where I tend to go when thinking I need some Beethoven in my life.