Bloopers of the Week

Hello again everyone. This week I had the honor of appearing on the latest episode of The Lebrain Train (found here) discussing some of the best bootlegs we knew. As the conversation progressed we also delved into why bootlegs are great, and one of the reasons was all the things that wouldn’t make an official release. So today we’re looking at the thematically appropriate bloopers, also due in part to the need to artificially extend the Long term viability for song of the week as much as possible. They are all Iron Maiden, simply because of my thorough familiarity with the band.

Top 5 Bloopers

1- Bruce forgets his microphone

I mentioned this one on stream and it’s one of my favorite mistakes. I love how Bruce just howls with laughter while the audience fill in for him.

2- Dave Murray sneezes

This one’s another hilarious one. Coming in off the back of an interesting conversation, Dave Murray sneezing and the aftermath sends everyone into laughter. My favorite moment is Bruce’s ‘This is heavy metal. Grrr’ as he tries to get things back under control.

3- Bruce falls

I mentioned this one on stream too. As the second verse starts, Bruce slips off his monitors, but doesn’t miss a beat.

4- Adrian falls

More falling. This time it’s Adrian. I’ve seen a video a much better angle at it but I can’t find it now. But anyway, as Dave Murray leaves the drum riser to go to the front for his solo, his guitar cord pins Adrian’s leg to his monitor, which Adrian doesn’t realize until he tries to walk backwards. The icing on the cake has to be the quick little thumbs up Janick gives Dave at 0:27, though it’s not as clear in this video. Oh and the tongue-in-cheek comment claiming this was Adrian’s reaction to what Janick calls a solo.

5- Janick throws his guitar

I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more. Janick goes a bit too ham on the guitar throwing. No one was hurt thankfully, just one stunned and very awake security guard.

The Double Agent

Christopher Lee introduces Meatloaf

Now I’d normally include the best cover section but now I have to adapt it to yada yada yada. You’ve heard that many times already. So I’ve just got a funny video that pretends to be a blooper of sorts. Enjoy. I couldn’t find the original short clip, but the important part is right there up front. Plus you get some Meatloaf songs too.

Judas Priest: Firepower (Dual-Review)

And, at long last, we arrive at the final album (so far) in the Judas Priest discography. And it’s only fair that I let Holen take first crack at it.

Welcome once again as we don our Ambiguously Gay Duo outfits and review the latest release from esteemed metal elder statesmen, Judas Fucking Priest. Firecrotch is the first album of the reunion era to truly earn the “fucking” in that name. While it’s no New York by Lou Reed, it’s a late period classic that seamlessly blends their traditional metal without more contemporary sources, all wrapped up in a crunchy professional production courtesy of old friend Tom Allom and newcomer Andy Sneap. Rob’s sounding stronger than he has in years as he charges with the band through several metal masterpieces. Chief among them the power metal infused “No Surrender”, an instant classic that clocks in at under three minutes. I defy you to not get hooked in by that chorus, and the start stop syncopation of the verses. When the toms pound at the beginning of the last chorus, you’ll find your fist in the air without the ability to resist. No fat on this beast, which can’t be said of the whole album. Coming in at 14 songs, the only complaint one could have is that it goes on for a little too long and fizzles out towards the end.

But overall this is the strongest Priest effort in decades. I don’t know if it’s the new blood of Andy Sneap or the old flame of Tom Allom, but Judas Priest sounds lively, youthful, and relevant again. We get a diverse crash through several styles, kicking off with the thrashy “Painkiller” type title track, serving some melodic ‘80s era style goodness “Flame Thrower”, “Lightning Strikes”, epic power metal “No Surrender”, “Rising from Ruins”, “Sea of Menstruation”, and “Never the Heroes”. We even get some bluesy riff nu metal a la Demolition in “Lone Wolf”, and “Evil Never Dies.”

It all congeals with that shiny modern production into a truly kickass return. There are some lowlights like “Lone Wolf”, and “Never the Heroes” sounds like it belongs in the credits of an early 2000s boxing movie, but those rough moments are far from unlistenable, and they’re outweighed by the truly transcendent moments. Buy a fucking copy!

4/5 Flame Throwing Kabbage Monsters

I’m glad you’ve found some enjoyment from reunion-era Priest. And now, for me. Firepower is easily better than Redeemer of Souls. The songs instantly clicked more. The whole album is heavy and it keeps this heaviness throughout. Where Firepower falters is that while it is chock full of pretty good songs, it’s lacking in great songs. Virtually every song on the album is good enough to hold the attention while I’m listening to it, but they just don’t stick in the mind that well afterwards. It’s hardly the worst criticism an album could have.

However, there is one song that stood out on first listen (and second listen and so on) and, still to this day, is one of the butt-kickest Judas Priest songs ever. “No Surrender” is just under three minutes of pure Priest awesome, from that crushing riff to that short but sweet solo to that very welcome midrange Halford all throughout. This song was so good that it forced me to break my rules and include it onto a greatest hits ramble it wasn’t even supposed to be on (more on that later). “Flame Thrower” kicks a lot of butt too.

Despite not being the most memorable album, Firepower is a fine album to end this series. More bite than bark, good music is still good music, even if it doesn’t stick in the mind too much.

The verdict- 3.75/5

Well thank you all for sticking with us through this long series. While Holen will be graciously bowing out here, there is still one ramble left from my end as I collect my thoughts on this undertaking and my introduction to Judas Priest.

Queensrÿche: Operation Mindcrime (Review)

Hoo boy, this one is not going to go over well. After another very enjoyable episode of The Lebrain Train last Friday, it became quite apparent that this Operation Mindcrime album was kind of a big deal and I would do well to give it a listen. And the result? Well, as always, I am the contrarian.

The album is a really mixed bag for me. Even in a concept album, the music has to come before the story. It’s not an audiobook, and unfortunately for Operation Mindcrime, the story just bogs and mires the music. Good songs are straddled by big chunks of conceptual meh, like “Suite Sister Mary”. The title track rocks, and “Speak” and “Eyes of a Stranger” are pretty good too, but they’re just surrounded by middling songs that are just, well, boring. I’m probably the only person ever to say that Operation Mindcrime would have been better had it not been a concept album, but it just really didn’t do it for me.

I will give some credit to Geoff Tate’s vocals in particular though. He manages to hit some pretty stratospheric notes, but does so without killing my ears, like the ultra-shrill style Rob Halford employed prior to Defenders of the Faith did. I really do like Geoff Tate’s vocals here, but they’re not enough to save the album.

Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son might only have a third of the story that Operation Mindcrime does, it also happens to have eight songs that are total metal awesome. I definitely know which one of the two I’d listen to if given the choice. And as for Mindcrime?

The verdict- 2.75/5

Mix CD Monthly: 2015 Round Two and Some New Discoveries

Alright everyone, welcome to issue two of Mix CD Monthly. Today we’ve got a feature on the second mix CD I ever made. This one was created in 2015, but was originally meant as a companion to the 2014 one we looked at last time. I planned on making it to chronicle my next top favorite songs, such that the two discs constituted my top 20 songs as of 2014. Unfortunately(?) there was a problem with the burning process and only the first song played in full. So I put it off until later, when I also altered the tracklist a bit to reflect my updated tastes. The original intended tracklist can be seen below.

Nothing too interesting there, really. Consistent capitalization didn’t seem to exist for me back then. Though I should point out that the version of “I Shot the Sheriff” is the Eric Clapton one. So let’s begin with the main event.

Eric Clapton- Cocaine

Clapton still makes a strong showing, though with a different song. I must have really liked the song to put it on two consecutive mic CDs. It’s not the only time that a song title made more than one appearance on a mix CD, but it was the first.

Derek and the Dominoes- Layla

One of the carryover’s from the original, I was big on Clapton at the time and it shows. It’s a great song (and probably the one that appears in the most versions over the course of the mix CDS) though sequencing two songs from the same artist right after one another is something I would never do nowadays with my mix CDs (mark those words, because I do it again much later, and again on this very disc)

Billy Joel- Only the Good Die Young

These mix CDs are very good at helping me pinpoint exactly when my dad got certain CDs. Though it’s not a particularly inspired choice, the catchy piano+acoustic guitar tune is one that I still like to this day.

Billy Joel- You May Be Right

Same goes for this song. It’s probably my favorite Billy Joel song now, and it was also back then. Though I must state that I’m mortified by this terrible sequencing that puts two Billy Joel songs after two Eric Clapton songs. Spread it out man!

Fleetwood Mac- Go Your Own Way

Now this was a surprise. I knew I liked the song but I didn’t think it would be making a mix CD this early. It’s got a great guitar solo (but not the greatest one promised by this issue’s cover) and I very much like the song. It’s just a little peculiar that “Tusk” wasn’t the one to make it onto the disc, given that it was and is my favorite Fleetwood Mac song and has been in my life as long as “Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again”.

Iron Maiden- Aces High (live from Live After Death)

Ok, I wasn’t expecting any Iron Maiden to make it onto this disc. It was a very soft disc looking back. But “Aces High” is a great choice. I chose the Live After Death version because it was the only version I had at the time.

The Knack- My Sharona

And here it is. The greatest guitar solo of all time. I’ve always loved this song and it’s been in my life almost as long as I can remember. Definitely worthy of this spot, and it’s peculiar that it didn’t make it onto the original disc.

Stars on 45- Stars on Stevie (Wonder)

This was my introduction to Stevie Wonder’s music and it is fully responsible for my love of it. It’s such a well crafted tour-de-force of his greatest hits and I love listening to it even today.

Led Zeppelin- Rock and Roll

Zeppelin make their first showing and I’m a little surprised it’s “Rock and Roll”. “Black Dog” was my favorite for a long time when I was younger and it’s nowhere to be seen. What’s more, this is, bar two other songs on one later on, the only appearance of Led Zeppelin on one of my mix CDs. Very weird.

The Rolling Stones- Paint it Black

What a song. Even back then I loved it. It’s probably oldest song on any of my mix CDs. And you’ll be hearing more about later in March.

Bryan Adams- Run to You

I liked Bryan Adams alright? I wasn’t aware that you weren’t supposed to do that back when I made this. It’s a good song and it’s not the last time Bryan appears on a mix CD, so just deal with it.

Dire Straits- Money For Nothing

Pretty standard stuff. Good song.

Eurythmics- Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

I’m a sucker for the occasional pop tune. Sue me.

David Garrett- Smooth Criminal

Courtesy of one of my friends, this violin cover of “Smooth Criminal” was my introduction to both the song and the artist and I love it. Easily the most interesting song on this disc, it sends it off in style.

So about the disc as a whole? Well it’s very soft. There’s not much heavy metal on it. Or hard rock for that matter. I don’t mind that, I’m just surprised at how long it took my tastes to become heavier. It’s a good, varied, listen after you get through the opening four songs and there’s plenty of left-field inclusions on it. And speaking of inclusions, it’s very interesting to look at songs that I’d loved for so long (like “Tusk”, “Black Dog” and “Start Me Up”) not make appearances. Maybe I’d gotten a little tired of them. I don’t even think those three ever make an appearance on any of my mix CDs.

And comparing it to the original tracklist is also an interesting experience. Not one Iron Maiden song from the original plan made it onto this one, strangely. A couple of songs made it over but most didn’t. I do prefer the actual tracklist though. It’s far more varied and more reflective of my wide tastes. It’s also a fair bit more adventurous and I like that.

But all in all this was a little bit of an uneventful issue. Most of the songs are just big hits from the artists. Despite the previous year’s disc, it seems I had yet to truly forge my unique listening tastes into what they are now. But there are a few hints of it buried deep. The main thing is how the original tracklist only features (bar one song) early 80s Maiden tunes while the 2014 disc (bar one song) only features 90s Maiden songs.

I think my dad bought a Bon Jovi greatest hits sometime in 2016, so next issue’s disc will definitely be a fair bit heavier. But there’s still going to be some surprises. I am nothing if not unpredictable.

Song of the Week- Sultans of Swing

Song of the Week is back as usual, and this time it’s one of the most famous licks in rock. There’s no shortage of versions so let’s get to it.

Top 5 Renditions

1- Alchemy Live

Alchemy Live was a landmark live album chock full of definitive versions, and “Sultans of Swing” was one of them. Crisp uncluttered production allows everything to be heard well, especially that amazing extended outro solo.

2- Live Aid

Basically the same as above, you can never have enough versions of this song.

3- Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute Concert

By now it may be quite apparent that Mark Knopfler is quite the guitarist. In fact, he’s one of the few guitarists who’s had Eric Clapton play rhythm guitar for them (he knows all them chords, remember). The saxophone also makes a return on the solo, which is still as extended and awesome as usual.

4- Wembley 1985

Same as above, though lacking in Clapton, and with the saxophone higher in the mix.

5- The Studio Version

The studio version is pretty awesome in it’s own right, with that immortal lick. It’s just that when given the choice, I’ll always go for more Knopfler as found on the live versions.

The Best Cover

After Dark.

Not many bands seem to eager to cover this one, and it’s not hard to know why. It would be a pretty daunting task. But some people have tried their hand at it, and it came down to two artists- Studio 99 and After Dark. I ended up going for After Dark because the vocals, though straying farther from the original’s, were more interesting and gave it a really unique feel with just a hint of extra poignancy. I quite like it.

King’s X: Gretchen Goes to Nebraska (Review)

I’m always looking for new albums to listen to and review. It helps me avoid doing all the iconic Sabbath and Maiden stuff to early. So when the latest episode of The Lebrain Train featured a top five King’s X album countdown (with Martin Popoff no less) I knew I’d have an album to review. General consensus was that this one was the best one to listen to first, so here it is.

And it’s a weird one. Not in the music itself, but in that none of it clicked at all with me. The music is heavy, riffy, varied and accomplished with great soloing, and the singer’s voice doesn’t hit notes usually reserved for calling dogs. But despite all this I just didn’t get into it. It’s probably the best album that didn’t click with me, but I just haven’t been possessed to listen back to any of it. What’s extra puzzling is that not even a single song spoke to me. I found Kiss’s Unmasked very middle of the road, but even that had one song that I really loved and always came back to. “Fall on Me” was the closest this album ever got to it.

This is one of the strangest albums I’ve ever reviewed in the sense that the report is still inconclusive.

The verdict-?/5

Love Songs of the Week

I figure you all knew this was coming. Nothing like an event to piggyback on so I can save a useful song for later. But as I haven’t exactly made a habit of listening to love songs, I’m instead going for songs with the word ‘love’ in the title, which will be marginally easier. In no particular order, of course

Top 5 Songs

Love Ain’t No Stranger

Whitesnake are going to be making a fair few appearances here. Not only do they sing about love a lot, but they’ve got a tonne of great riffs and David Coverdale is singing well in his range.

Love is All Around

But not everything is going to be Whitesnake. Joan Jett’s extended cover of the song may have a slightly punky tinge to it, but it rocks hard. Short and sweet, it’s one of my favorite tracks she’s recorded.

Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City

Whitesnake again, though covering Bobby Bland this time. The bluesy style suits Coverdale’s vocals perfectly, and the band are able to heavy it up a bit without sacrificing any of the essence of the song. Bland? Not at all.

Love is Like Oxygen- Live at the Marquee

A bit of a preview for a review I will write in the future, this one is. I always liked the song, but this version just takes things to a whole new level. The original song itself is done almost perfectly, but it’s the deviation into “Fanfare For the Common Man” that is just so awesome, especially as it seamlessly returns to the original song’s epic solo at 5:30.

Guilty of Love

You’re probably a little tired of Whitesnake by now, but I’m not. As always, uptempo songs plus awesome riff equals great song. Bluesy Whitesnake is well and all, but I always preferred the slick riffing of the mid to late 80s.

The Soundtrack Entry

Across the Stars

As usual, I fall back on the soundtrack entry due to a Best Cover section not exactly fitting here. So I’ve gone for the best love theme, and there was really only one contender for this title. John Williams does it again. The prequels really did have the best Star Wars music.

Judas Priest: Redeemer of Souls (Dual-Review)

Yes, we’re back. The Priest dual-review series is still a thing, though at this stage it hardly resembles anything that could be actually called a series. Nevertheless, our second to last entry in the series is here, with 2014’s Redeemer of Souls. A very unassuming album in the Priest discography, and unfortunately for a good reason. 

The albums kicks off into mediocrity with opener “Dragonaut”. The riff does a full aerobic workout, but it does nothing in spite of all that. It’s really just a whole lot of changing notes that don’t manage to be anything more than the sum of their parts. The chorus is icky too. Things take a rare uptick in quality with the next song, however. The title track is one of three awesome songs on the disc that are mix-cd worthy. With a riff similar to “Hell Patrol” and a nice bounce throughout, the song is a more melodic and happy sounding Priest song. It’s the type of song you’d get if you crossed British Lion with Judas Priest, and I love it. 

Optimism is shattered immediately with the next song though. “Halls of Valhalla” is only alright. It’s main failing is in how the pre-chorus has potential, but the chorus just puts the song in neutral and sinks it with a boring melody too reliant on the word ‘Valhalla’. The next song, “Sword of Damocles”, has a similar problem. Any enjoyment derived from it comes from the similarity of the vocal melody on the verses to the one found on Iron Maiden’s “Blood Brothers”. The chorus once again sinks the song as it sticks itself in neutral between every vocal line for a line of pointless guitar chug.

“Sword of Damocles” gives way to “March of the Damned”, an anthem song. Most Priest anthems are terrible and this one isn’t, so that’s something. It’s actually on the precipice of being good, but unfortunately just falls short. There’s an Ozzyish voice effect on Rob here, if you’re interested. I’m kind of indifferent to it. “Down in Flames” is up next. Meh, and not memorable at all. The next song (“Hell & Back”) garners the same criticism, but it does sound a bit like 70s Priest, so there is that.

But now, finally, we get to another awesome song. “Cold Blooded” is epic. The chorus kicks butt and there’s a neat solo+riff breakdown towards the end. But the secret ingredient is how the song manages to be both heavy and soft at the same time on the verses. Electric guitar chugging sits perfectly alongside brooding keyboards and Rob’s soft vocals to create a truly unique song. But now we’re back to ick again. “Metalizer” sounds similar to the material from Angel of Retribution but isn’t even fit to be a b-side to the worst song on that disc.

“Crossfire” follows, and the most memorable thing about this song is how the intro seems to be nicked directly from Black Sabbath’s “I”. And since we’re pointing out similarities with other songs all over this album, “Secrets of the Dead”, up next, has an intro suspiciously similar to the one on Painkiller’s “Nightcrawler”. And wouldn’t you know it, it doesn’t even hold a candle to that song. It’s heavy, but doesn’t do anything or go anywhere with this heaviness. Boredom ensues, naturally. 

But we are not resigned to total mediocrity just yet. Second to last song “Battle Cry” comes out of nowhere and takes the spot of best song on the disc. The twin guitar intro gives way to slick riffing and Halford nailing it. He’s using the grander, more majestic voice he used on Nostradamus, and boy does it work. Along with some top notch soloing, this uptempo tune would have made the perfect closer to the album and would have fit perfectly onto Nostradamus. Unfortunately it’s neither of those things. But that’s not a fault of the song. Unlike most of the album, “Battle Cry” did not disappoint. The song just exuded awesome. I knew it was going to be good before I even heard it. 

And then we get to the proper closer. “Beginning of the End” is not an ambitious Priest ballad, nor is it a particularly exciting song, but it serves fine as a Priest ballad. It’s just not doing the album any favors this late into the listening experience. 

Redeemer of Souls is a long album, and long albums need to be exceptionally good in order to keep the listener’s interest. Redeemer of Souls doesn’t actually have this problem though, because interest is lost very early on. There’s just too much mediocrity. I want to be generous because it’s not completely terrible, not to mention the three amazing songs, but I just found this album incredibly boring for the most part.

The verdict- 2.75/5

Now normally I’d perkily ask Holen what he thought, but given that I’m the one who usually really likes the reunion era albums and I found this one pretty unenjoyable, I’m pretty sure I know how Holen is going to find this one. 

Well, it’s no New York by Lou Reed, but it’s something. Judas Priest albums have been increasingly cheesy since the ‘80s, but something about it on these reunion albums really doesn’t click well with me. Maybe because they’re so much older, it seems odd for Rob to be singing about a Lochness monster that needs about three fifty. His lyrics read like an angst-ridden thirteen year old kid that’s just discovered a thesaurus and fancies himself an intellectual. Some of the spark is missing, though new recruit Not K.K. tries his best to sharpen the proceedings with some creative shredding. Opener “Dragonaut” gets things off to a nice rifftastic start, but the melodies just don’t seem to be clicking. That problem is rectified somewhat with the title track, a highlight of the album to be sure with a hooky melody that doesn’t sound so static from Rob. This one achieves its intended epic feel without coming across as too goofy for its own good, or going on too long until it bores the fuck out of anyone not named Steve Harris. (Hey!- Editor)

“Halls of Valhalla” follows it with Rob trying (but not quite achieving) to ring your ears with his infamous head voice. It’s much more raspy and muppety than when he was young, but we all age, and we have to appreciate the effort. Several great riffs on this one, I would consider it a highlight as well with its power metal sound. A sound Priest definitely has been pushing towards in recent years. “March of the Damned” sounds like some transparent tuning software is on Rob’s voice, and that coupled with its mediocre riffage sink it. Some really poppy melodies on it, and Scott Travis gives it a lot of life. “Metalizer” goes the opposite direction with hella speed, showing signs of life. Unfortunately, can you think of a dumber fucking title? Well, I guess you could. A.C. made a career out of doing such a thing, but at least they were joking!

What the hell is going on with “Crossfire”, a Hendrix sendup? It’s not bad, but it seems totally out of character for the group. The song doesn’t really gel. We get a bluesy Zep riff with Scott Travis’ mechanical drumming that doesn’t really groove at all, that transitions into twin guitar harmonies? Gonna press eject on this one. Get me out of here. Also, to raise a practical question at this point, what the fuck is this mix? Muddy guitars, shrill drums, wishy washy chorus on Rob’s vocals. “Battle Cry” overcomes that handicap with zero challenge. Now we’re fucking talking motherfucker! The album closes with a ballad that doesn’t leave a sour taste in my mouth, so that’s a triumph in my books.

A rare thing has happened. I basically agree with my good friend, Harrison Kontrarian Kangaroo Kabbage Kopp. Hardly a standout effort, there’s nothing on there that’s going to offend the eardrums of fans. There’s some cheese, a little lethargy, but several moments of life probably fueled by new blood Richie Faulkner. It’s worth hearing at least once.

3/5 Kabbages

Wow, I’m surprised at how close the two of us were. Well that’s Redeemer of Souls. We’ll be back sometime before the end of time with Firepower, though at the rate it’s taking us, I can’t guarantee that it will be the last entry in the series. 

Cold Chisel: East (Review)

We’ve a classic Australian band today, and this album in particular has been in my life for a long time. It album kicks off with the uptempo piano-centric goodness of “Standing on the Outside”. It’s not too heavy, but that isn’t Cold Chisel’s M.O.. Of the three most well-known Australian rock bands, they focus least on the riff. Metalheads may think this a questionable tactic, but it results in songs like “Never Before”, so it’s hard to argue with that M.O. “Never Before”, up next, is one of my favorite songs on the disc. It’s an atmospheric slow-burner that showcases guitarist Ian Moss’s rich and smooth voice. Not many people know that Cold Chisel actually had two great singers.

Another lighter one, “Choirgirl”, makes sense appearing after “Never Before”, and it gives way to “Rising Sun”, an energetic and fun piano ditty. Sure, these songs aren’t heavy, but Don Walker’s infectiously enjoyable piano playing is more fun than any faceless wall of riffing. Of course, this is still a rock band, so the occasional guitar centric song, like “Tomorrow” will make an appearance on the disc, but the piano is never far behind. Sometimes it’s right up there with the guitars, on a song like “Cheap Wine”. You might have heard of this one. It can be a little choppy at times, but it’s a classic Chisel song for a reason.

Ian Moss gets another chance to sing with the next song, “Best Kept Lies”. With its keyboard driven construction and dual vocals, it’s actually a little funky in places. And it’s one of my favorite tracks on the disc. Jimmy Barnes may be known for his yelling/singing, but he can sing smoothly when he wants to. Now “Best Kept Lies” is followed by “Ita” (more of the same piano goodness) and “Star Hotel” (another atmospheric slow burner that rules) before going into the ballad “Four Walls” (my least favorite song on the disc) and closing with the fun, uptempo “My Turn to Cry” (the perfect way to end the disc). Of course, because this is the Australian version I’m listening too, it doesn’t have the über-successful single “Khe Sanh”, but I don’t mind. This is the album I’m used to.

At twelve songs, East can seem like a long album, but a veteran listener of the album like myself always found myself going ‘oooh, there’s still (insert any song title coming up’ whenever I checked the tracklist during this review. It’s certainly not the heaviest album I’ve heard, despite Barnes’s powerful voice, and my history with it undoubtedly is the reason I can come back to it anytime and always enjoy the hell out of it.

The verdict- 4.25

Song of the Week- Urgent

Proper song of the week returns today with our first mention of the band Foreigner anywhere on this site. Arguably their most well-known song among rock fans, “Urgent” is a juggernaut of a track and there’s no shortage of great versions.

Top 5 Renditions

1- Dortmund 1982

As if merely belting the song out was not enough, the indomitable Lou Gramm doesn’t settle for just ‘good’. He’s giving everything he’s got and it pays off big time. He’s a little raspy some of the time, but he’s incredibly awesome all of the time.

2- The studio version

The studio version is great and it’s the version that started it all. It atmospheric and Lou Gramm still manages to incorporate the expressiveness from the live versions.

3- Live in Chicago

Lou Gramm had really big shoes to fill, but listening to this it’s clear that Kelly Hansen is the man to do him justice. The extra horns are appreciated too.

4- Live with Billy Joel 2018

He’s still got it.

5- Live With the 21st Century Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

The orchestration is neat, but doesn’t really add anything groundbreaking to the song. Nice to see that Kelly Hansen hasn’t lost much of his vocal abilities over the seven years since the Chicago show.

The Best Cover

Radio DCS

One of, like, only two covers out there, the pickings were a little slim this week. It’s a little bland due to the genre. Lou’s expressiveness is nowhere to be found. Occasionally there are flashes of parts which sound great though, but I suspect this one will be a very niche interest.

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