Electric Light Orchestra: Electric Light Orchestra Live (Review) [ELO Week 2 Part 4]

After the failure of the Zoom tour, ELO didn’t do much, effectively being disbanded again. Over the years some compilations were released, and Jeff Lynne rerecorded some of the classic songs for an album back in 2012. But in 2013, some reissues occurred, including a remaster of Zoom with some bonus tracks. This was accompanied by the newly released Electric Light Orchestra Live, assembled from the Zoom Tour Live DVD, with a couple bonuses thrown in.

Now, as you can imagine, being the show we looked at yesterday, the performances are stellar. They’re all classic tracks (nothing from Zoom itself) and this is a good way to get some of the tracks from that show, given that Zoom Tour Live isn’t the most readily available ELO product.

But there are some mysterious new live tracks. Four of them, to be precise. The jury’s still out on where they were sourced from. It’s definitely the 2001 incarnation of the band as I can hear Rosie Vela on backing vocals. I think I read somewhere that it was from a soundcheck, though I can’t verify that now. But anyway, they add some extra discography-variety to the already-available Zoom Tour Live stuff.

The first on the disc is the title track from Secret Messages. It’s great to hear (as ELO didn’t tour at all after the Time tour in 1981) and it rocks live. It definitely helps having Rosie to double Jeff Lynne’s vocals. The next new song is “Sweet Talkin’ Woman”, which somehow escaped actually appearing on stage during this era. While it’s great to hear, and definitely beefs up the Out of the Blue content, it is the least exciting of the new songs, on account of being less of a lesser-played deep cut.

Anyway, speaking of deep cuts, we’ve got “Twilight” from Time now! Time is my favorite ELO album and it’s cool to see it represented here, as there’s notably been no live album from the Time tour yet. It’s the obvious song choice, yes, but I’m just glad to have Time stuff, even if it’s the falsetto heavy opener instead of the rock and roll album closer. But I have slightly erred, as this version was available as a Japanese bonus track on the re-recording album I mentioned earlier. But for all intents and purposes, it’s mainstream release debut was here, so I’m treating it as such. Not everyone is called Lebrain, you know.

Anyway, the final song is the ballad “Confusion”, hailing from Discovery. I’ll never complain about Discovery material being played live as the band famously didn’t tour for the mega-hit album simply because Jeff Lynne didn’t want to (nor did he need to). And this live version is definitely earning its inclusion, with a little more spring in its step than the studio version.

As for the bonus tracks, they are comprised of two previously unreleased ELO songs. The first (“Out of Luck” from 2010) is traditional, short rock and roll ditty, with Jeff even singing a bit like Elvis. It’s a good song but it is a little more of a novelty than the next song (“Cold Feet” from 1992). Speculated to be part of the canned follow-up to Jeff Lynne’s first solo album Armchair Theatre, this short little song with its synth intro, lush sound and tasteful guitar solo wouldn’t sound out of place on Secret Messages. It’s a great song and it’s a shame it took us this long to hear it. Great closer to the disc too, by the way.

Now I don’t usually complain too much about not including certain songs on live albums, but in this case I must, as mid-eighties hit “Rock and Roll is King” from Secret Messages was not included on the Zoom Tour Live DVD (nor does it show up here either, which is a shame because I do like the song a lot).

But overall this is actually a great entry point into the band as it features a nice variety of tracks from all over the initial stage of their career. And ELO continue to nail the single-disc live album idea doing so, with the extra tracks help provide a more varied coverage of the discography, along with something for the die-hard.

The verdict- 4.25/5

Tomorrow we look at the second ELO reformation, occurring at Hyde Park in 2014

Electric Light Orchestra: Zoom Tour Live (Review) [ELO Week 2 Part 3]

Strap yourselves in everyone, because we’ve got a bit of history and a lot of songs to go through today. Today is, shall we say, the big day, hence why this jumbo sized review fits in nicely.

We’ll start with the history. Yesterday we left off in 1974 and today we find ourselves in 2001. So what happened? Well, first, all of the live stuff up to 1980 was covered last year in ELO Week 1 and, second, there wasn’t any official live stuff released from 1980 through to the band’s first dissolution in 1986. But that’s not the end of the story yet, as the ELO name still lived on between 1989 and 2001 in the form of ELO Part 2.

ELO Part 2 were actually more than just a random tribute band too as Bev Bevan owned half of the rights to the ELO name. It even featured a number of former ELO members (though, crucially, not band leader Jeff Lynne). The band actually made something of themselves, touring for many years and releasing a duo of studio and live albums before changing their name to The Orchestra in 2000 (coinciding with Bev Bevan selling his half of the name to Jeff Lynne) and continuing on from there.

But that’s not the focus of today (maybe next year’s ELO week will focus on ELO 2). The focus of today is this live document of Jeff Lynne’s first reformation of ELO. This reformation was really in name only, as Richard Tandy was the only former member to be invited back (the prevailing theory being that this was his reward from abstaining from ELO Part 2). Furthermore, while there were plenty of guests appearing on the 2001 studio album Zoom (including both George Harrison and Ringo Starr), only Jeff Lynne played on every song. Now despite this live DVD being referred to as being from the Zoom tour, the Zoom tour was actually cancelled due to slow ticket sales (with the band going back on hiatus shortly after). This is instead from one of only two television appearances which were done to support the album.

So with all that out of the way, let’s get to the tracks. Yes, all twenty three of them. So let’s start. The show opens with the confusing, but no less spectacular choice to play “Do Ya”. Jeff’s in fine voice and the band are all great at their jobs, it’s just that it’s not traditionally an ELO opener. A trivial matter, at the end of the day, as we go into “Evil Woman”, and one of the best versions of it at that (check out the song of the week for the song for a more in-depth take). Then we get to “Showdown”. The song itself is done really well, as per the ELO standard, though it’s an unremarkable song choice so I’ll take some time to appreciate the widescreen aspect ratio, especially in 2001.

Now we get to our first deep cut of the night: “Strange Magic”. The soft and tender ballad is very much a lesser played track in the ELO discography, so even though I don’t rate it too highly compared to other songs, I’m still glad to see it when it pops up. It certainly hasn’t overstayed it’s welcome. The same goes for the following song “Livin’ Thing”. And now we hit the first song off Zoom. And it’s the best one too. “Alright” is definitely on the rock and roll side of ELO and the rich chorus melody is the highlight, recreated superbly here by backing vocalist Rosie Vela. That’s right, we actually have, for the first time in ELO history, a female backing vocalist on stage with the band. And it definitely helps do some of those harmonies justice.

“Lonesome Lullaby” (also from Zoom) comes next. It’s slower but still with ample electric guitar. It’s pretty good. I even forgot there were better songs in the ELO catalogue as I listened to it, especially on the chorus. Fan-favorite “Telephone Line” follows. I’m not as hot on the song as most people, but I can still appreciate the song, and this is a good rendition of it. The next song, “Turn to Stone” is done great as well, the rapid-fire falsetto section always gets a cheer.

And now we’re back to Zoom with the mostly acoustic “Just For Love”. It’s not a bad song but it just lacks that magic that a lot of ELO songs have. A fair amount of Zoom had that same problem. One that doesn’t have that problem though is the next song, “Easy Money”. We’re back to the rock and roll to spectacular effect. “Easy Money” is a fun, energetic romp and Jeff Lynne even drops an s-bomb from out of nowhere (pun fully intended).

And we ride that high straight into “Mr Blue Sky”. It’s a little weird hearing it this early into the set, but it’s always a really fun one. Tandy lends his voice to the vocoder and it’s great to see the fire extinguisher as a percussion instrument is alive and well. “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” is alive and well too, if just a tad softer due to Jeff’s age. And speaking of age, we have the lush ballad “One Summer Dream” up next, which is actually not from Zoom but from 1975’s Face the Music. Talk about a deep cut, I think this might even be its live debut.

Another rare track follows: the much-mentioned “Tightrope”. I love this song. It’s really heavy on the atmosphere, but still an upbeat and fun ride. Jeff even makes an adorable little vocal flub as he starts the wrong line, resulting in ‘When I c-looked around’. But he’s all smiles. This show has that effect on you. And before we go into the next song I’m going to gush over Richard Tandy’s stage presence. I can’t help but smile every time I see the keyboardist’s infectious enjoyment. I never realized how much I missed seeing him on stage until I watched this show again for the review. And why do I bring him up now? Because the rock and roll goodness of “State of Mind” from Zoom is absolutely enhanced on stage by Tandy, the highlight being the moment you get to see his headbanging as he plays along (weird sentence yes, but just go with it. This is the band that featured a duckwalking violinist).

2:12 is where the headbanging occurs.

So we now move on to a song introduced with ‘it’s quite good because you’ll know this one basically’. Yep, I know it. It’s “Can’t Get it Out of My Head”, and the Eldorado ballad is always welcome. Zoom is welcome too, but in moderation. I probably could have done without “Moment in Paradise”. A ballady number, it’s alright, but a little straining on the vocals. Jeff sounds a little shaky at times on it. But what I couldn’t have done without it “10538 Overture”, the very first ELO single. Though sporting a softer edge than the original, it’s still undeniably ELO and fits in well with the rest of the songs on the disc, even interpolating the riff of “Do Ya” for a little bit (a throwback to when the two songs were performed as a medley).

We get our final Zoom track now, “Ordinary Dream”. It too is alright (another pun intended) but this late in the show is probably not the best place for a Zoom track, especially a ballad. But it’s over quick and we’re treated to some Discovery tracks. The first “Shine a Little Love” is very much appreciated. Sure it’s a bit disco but it’s also a lot good. And it works live quite well too. So does “Don’t Bring Me Down” from the same album. The stomping mega-hit is rendered in brilliant fashion, and is followed, of course, by longtime closer, “Roll Over Beethoven”. Man, what a treat. Jeff sings the bridge for the first time in decades, the delivery on the ‘tell Tchaikovsky the news’ line was straight out of 1972 and I love the dignified throw back of his head that Tandy does when going into the bridge. This is a hell of a show.

Of course, being in support of the Zoom album means there’s a lot of songs from that album here. I don’t mind too much. Though there was a bit of an imbalance between soft and rock songs on that album, all the songs I’d like to hear from it were played and there’s still a tonne of songs from their other albums played here too. The only ones that I wish we could have had played were “Rock and Roll is King”, which was actually played and not included on the DVD, and “Rockaria!”. But all in all it’s still a lot of ELO for your money and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The DVD also has some good ol’ bonus features. The first is a short, ten-minute interview with Jeff Lynne. You’ll get a little bit of insight into why ELO disbanded in the first place, the recording and songs of Zoom, some Wilburys stuff and, what was then, future plans. The next little feature is a short two minutes dedicated to some of the fans in the audience, filmed while they wait for the show. It’s always cool to see the fans, and there were a couple of Australian ones in there too. The last bonus feature is just a text slideshow giving a brief history of Zoom. As always, bonus features are never essential, but they are always appreciated.

And so with that this mammoth review is finally drawing to a close. And in the end, even with a heavy presence of songs from Zoom, this is still one of the best and most comprehensive ELO live releases out there. It’s also one of the most elusive, which is a real shame. The performances are all really solid and there’s so many great songs on here. Definitely worth getting if you see it in the wild-

The verdict- 4.5/5 stars

But we’re not actually finished with this show yet. Come back tomorrow to find out how.

Electric Light Orchestra: The Night The Light Went Out In Long Beach (Review) [ELO Week 2 Part 2]

Day two of ELO Week 2 sticks to the early years, with the first live album the band released. Recorded in 1974, the lineup and most of the tracklist is identical to the Rockpalast show from the same year that we looked at last year. But that doesn’t mean that it has nothing to offer. It’s available in audio form for starters. And a lot of the tracks themselves definitely distinguish themselves from the Rockpalast renditions. But enough about Rockpalast. I reviewed that last year, not in this post.

So, to business. We kick things off with “Daybreaker” (in its proper position as show opener). And while we covered it yesterday, it’s still nice to have a crowd behind these songs now. It really gives it the proper atmosphere. And 1974 means we’ve Mike De Albuquerque on bass and backing vocals. While he’s far from the best man to complement Jeff Lynne’s harmonies, his raspy voice gives the songs a rough and raw feel befitting a live rendition. It is still a bit of an acquired taste, but it’s lower in the mix than other shows from this era.

And I love it anyway. “Showdown” really benefits from it, with a slight tweak to the chorus melody that results in my favorite renditions of the song. And this version goes the extra mile and has an awesome keyboard and guitar solo to end the song that wouldn’t sound out of place on Rainbow’s On Stage. “Daytripper” follows “Showdown”, and we’ve got my favorite cover of the song right here. Just like with “Showdown”, Mike De Albuquerque’s unique vocals allow for a unique take on the song’s chorus melody, and oh does it work so well. The band even sneak in a cheeky little Rolling Stones reference towards the end.

Vinyl version, alas.

And now here’s the main difference between the Rockpalast show arrives. Here we get “10538 Overture”. The song is great, as usual, and this is my first time hearing it with De Albuquerque. The song even interpolates ever briefly the riff of “Do Ya”, which was at the time still only a The Move song.

Onwards to the violin solo that goes into “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. I think I’ve sung the praises of this song enough by now to not have to devote any more words to bogging this review down. So now we get to “Great Balls of Fire”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: ELO’s amped-up cover of the song is pure rock and roll, and this might be my favorite rendition of it.

And of course the show ends with “Roll Over Beethoven”. Every version of this song is unique. In this case we get De Albuquerque singing the bridge (which is charmingly rough), all four verses and almost all the soloing excised. Like I said, every version is one of a kind in some way. The only thing the same is the name of the song and how awesome the cover is.

More vinyl, unfortunately.

You know, despite the last two albums being a little light on tracks, they were both really good. I’m a bit of a live album connoisseur and I’ve been obsessed with large, full show albums for so long that I’ve sort of forgotten the joy of a simple one LP live album. I think these last two reviews have helped me remember that single CD live albums can still give you the live album experience just as well as the double disc ones. I also never actually realized how many covers were on this album (technically five). But that’s fine to me at least (I know 2Loud2OldMusic may have some sterner words) because ELO are one of the best bands out there when it comes to covers. And the originals are just as good. Just be careful how you buy this. The original vinyl used a rough mix explicitly marked as not for use and this wasn’t corrected until the CD reissue. But CD is better anyway. And so,

The verdict- 4/5

Tomorrow we jump all the way to 2001 and ELO’s first reformation. Why? Tune in tomorrow to find out. Same metal time, same metal channel.

Electric Light Orchestra: The BBC Sessions (Review) [ELO Week 2 Part 1]

Alright everyone, welcome to ELO Week 2. ELO are, of course, one of my favorite non heavy metal bands, and I decided to bring back ELO week again in 2021 because I’ll always take an opportunity to talk about them. Last year I looked at the terrific Wembley 1978 Blu Ray (and a couple other things). This week we’ll be looking at six other live documents spanning the band’s entire career. So today we start with this album, chronicling performances from the early years.

The earliest recordings come from 1972. Opening the disc, the eleven minutes of (Kuiama) is very much early ELO. A string and acoustic number with a softer edge, it’s a strange choice to open the album, but it never drags across all those eleven minutes. And to make up for lost rock we have their manic cover of “Roll Over Beethoven”. The crazy rock and roll fest is as good as it ever was, and I think this might be the only live version available with all four verses.

Then we move to 1973. First up is the piano-driven seven minutes of “From the Sun to the World”. This is an uptempo one with plenty of bounciness, and though it stops for a couple of boggy instrumental solo parts, the last one ends with an incredibly funky one courtesy of some deep piano notes from Richard Tandy. This gives way to “Momma”. Softer and more tuneful, it’s a sign if what was to come with the more traditional ELO songs we all know and love, even reminding me of “Wishing” from Discovery. 1973 is rounded out with the monstrous cover of “In the Hall of the Mountain King”. An absolute monster of a riff, I always love to hear this one.

“King of the Universe” heralds the start of 1974. It’s far from the best ELO song but it’s short and fits with the rest of the songs stylistically. I certainly don’t dislike it. The same goes for “Bluebird is Dead”, though it’s just a tad less tuneful. Then it’s “New World Rising”. Like the previous two it’s not the most noteworthy song on the album, but it’s a little more livelier and has a sinister synth ending that just hits the spot. But we’re back to rock and roll now to close out the disc. Energetic instrumental “Daybreaker” is an uptempo keyboard focused tune, and “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” is but itself. Though I’m a little suspicious of how live this last one is, considering how much like the studio version it sounds.

This disc is really quite good. There’s lots of hidden gems and deep cuts on it, and no doubling up on songs is a great little bonus. You’ll definitely see the orchestra side of ELO here.

The verdict- 4/5

So join us tomorrow for ELO’s very first live album, 1974’s The Night The Light Went Out In Long Beach.

Songs of the Week 2

So yesterday I had the great honor of once again appearing on The Lebrain Train (check that out here), and this time we counted down our Nigel Tufnel Top 10 for one of my favorite topics to do so for- songs that make our skin vibrate.

In planning the list I came across a problem. I had twenty-two or so songs on my “shortlist”. So in order to save me from tearing my hair out I agreed with myself to talk about the eleven that didn’t make it somewhere else. This allowed me to pick eleven for the show while also preserving my sanity. I split certain types of songs, such as video game soundtrack entries and Boingo songs, to help balance the lists. It also allowed me to better talk about certain songs where timestamps were needed to best make my point.

So yes, you get eleven songs of the week this week. Talk about spoiling you. Anyway, to the list!

The Songs

11- Judas Priest- Cathedral Spires

This absolute juggernaut of a track is without a doubt the magnum opus of Ripper-era Priest. It’s veritable tour-de-force of metal music set to the tune of the apocalypse and presents three distinct phases that each offer something awesome without never leaving too soon or staying too long.

10- Irene Cara- Fame

Irene Cara can sing and she sounds awesome when she really lets loose. And when you pair that with an epic guitar fill you get a song like this. One listen on the radio was all it took. This one’s sticking with me.

9- Bonnie Tyler- Holding Out For A Hero

Sure it’s not exactly an eighteen-minute opus dedicated to the crash of the R101, but it’s still an awesome song. And I’ll enjoy any song I like regardless of what other people think. And for me my favourite part of the song is the ending goes at the chorus, where Bonnie Tyler just effortlessly gets louder and louder each time, before the less bombastic outro carries things home.

8- Chris De Burgh- Don’t Pay The Ferryman

I do love me some hard-edged harmonies and this song delivers possibly the biggest on that premise (other than maybe another song on this list). This is easily some of the most epic chorus harmonies I’ve ever heard, and the rest of the song isn’t bad too. Plus the intro reminds me of a similar synth line in the Transformers Cybertron theme from my childhood. Nostalgia!

7- John Williams- Anakin’s Betrayal

Ok, so we leave the 80s now and transition briefly (and inevitably) to John Williams. This is easily one of the saddest pieces of music I’ve ever heard. Never fails to make me sad regardless of whether it’s playing over Order 66 in the movie or just on its own on the soundtrack album. “Anakin’s Dark Deeds” was so close to making it, but I had to go with the one that I’ve loved for longer.

6- Oingo Boing- Spider

This one struck me by total surprise when I first heard it, coming from Boingo’s under-appreciated final album, Boingo. This ballad has to be the highlight of the album and it was only the greater length of time I’d spent with “Skin” that got that song the spot on my show list. I love the sound of the acoustic guitar, especially when it gets to shine with that fill at times like 1:18 and 2:29.

5- Woody Jackson- American Venom

So let me set the stage, much like “Ghost Station Escape”, this track plays during one of the final levels in the game. By this point your gang of close friends and outlaws has been irrevocably split. The leader corrupted by one man and a permanent schism between everyone who’s still alive. Many years later, when you finally track the man responsible down, you need to fight your way up a mountain, through the hired help, to his cabin.

And so finally to the track, it just perfectly sums up the moment and the emotions. It’s a battle track, and it sounds like one, but the sadness and empty feeling it leaves you with only highlights the fact that, in the end, it’s mostly pointless. So many of your friends have already died and the gang will never be whole again. You’re only righting this wrong by killing the man responsible out of obligation. It’s not going to change anything. I love scores like this, and this is easily my favorite part of the soundtrack, with my favorite part of the score being the first fourteen or so seconds.

4- ABBA- Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)

And here’s some more of those awesome hard-edged harmonies. I will make no apologies. I love this song. I almost put it on my show list, but did chicken out for slight fear for my reputation. Ok so I’m not completely perfect at that not caring what other people think thing. Sue me. Anyway, as if that chorus wasn’t enough, the song has the synth line that defines synth line. There’s more story in the notes of that synth line than in whole other songs.

3- Iron Maiden- Charlotte the Harlot

This is definitely an odd one to find on this sort of list, but the riff ranks as one of Maiden’s best to me. And one of their most intricate too. But the real back-of-the-neck chills come at 3:15 as the song transitions from the smoking soloing straight back into the rocking riff. Every. Single. Time.

2- Men At Work- Downunder

This one comes from my heritage. As an Australian this is pretty much my national anthem.

1- Rainbow- Still I’m Sad (live, Munich 1977)

And here we are finishing with another one of the ones from last time and the same stuff I said then still applies here. Now the reason why I’m willing to listen to half an hour of “Still I’m Sad” and not eighteen minutes of “Space Truckin’” has everything to do with the payoffs for completing the songs. The latter just meagerly peters out, while the former launches into an epic finale that is easily the highlight of the song.

And that’s not even all the songs I had considered. A couple just didn’t make it, and I also excluded one or two knowing that they’ll be on my top eleven ballads list. But that’s not until sometime in the future. In the more immediate future, however, is the commencement of ELO Week 2 tomorrow. We’ll be looking at six live albums starting tomorrow, from the band’s earliest years to their last live release in 2017.

Mix CD Monthly: Blaze Bayley and Paul Di’Anno United

So there it is. The mix CD I’ve been so hyped to talk about. Not very surprising that it features a heavy Blaze presence now, is it? The impetus for creating this disc came twofold. The first was that I was finding a lot of rare Maiden tracks on YouTube (and naughtily downloading them) and I wanted a physical home for them. The second was that I was getting into both Blaze and Paul’s post-Maiden solo careers (at the time I was more into Paul’s, but nowadays Blaze’s is definitely my preference).

So I curated ten songs from each singer’s whole career and set about sequencing them to alternate between singer. It was a very fun task, and an even more enjoyable listen. So let’s get into that very tracklist that brings me so much joy.

The Track Listing

Iron Maiden- Doctor Doctor

And we’re off to a great start. This is actually my favorite version of the song. Blaze nails it vocally, and the song with its melodic guitar intro is the perfect way to kick-start the disc.

Paul Di’Anno- Play That Funky Music

Ok, that was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one. I forgot I put it on here, but I’m glad I did. I genuinely enjoy this cover, odd as it is for the metal icon to be covering this sort of song.

Iron Maiden- Judgement Day

And here we are with another one of the many rare tracks to make this disc. I really love the three The X Factor off-cuts, with the aggressive and energetic “Judgement Day” being my favorite at the moment.

Iron Maiden- Prowler (The Soundhouse Tapes version)

And, of course, while I had half of The Soundhouse Tapes on my deluxe Best of the Beast, I was still missing two songs. And this is probably my favorite rendition of “Prowler”. The studio rendition is just a tad too slick and speedy, and the scream at the midpoint here really completes the song.

Iron Maiden- I Live My Way

Another great song. All the off-cuts were in contention for making my top Maiden deep cuts list but I resolved to only pick one in order to allow for song variety.

Iron Maiden- Invasion (The Soundhouse Tapes version)

Naturally, this was the other track from The Soundhouse Tapes that I didn’t have physically. And I like the song. It’s definitely the punkest song they’ve ever done, but it still has some ‘woahoahs’ and guitar harmonies in there for good measure.

Iron Maiden- Justice of the Peace

At the time this was my favorite of the off-cuts, hence why it appears third. I still like it a lot, but I do wish the song could have kept up the intensity that the first verse established. The chorus is never not epic though. I also wish Blaze could have put one of these three songs into his live set. He breathed new life into “Virus” when he did it with that song.

Iron Maiden- Wrathchild (Metal For Muthas version)

Another one of the rare Maiden tracks, it’s not a surprise to see this here. I really like this version. Di’Anno’s singing on the verses definitely gives me some heavy Ian Gillan vibes with the studio effect on them.

Blaze Bayley- Dark Energy 256

A bit of an oddball on this disc as it’s from Blaze’s solo career (and a late album at that), but it 100% earns its spot on this disc. It’s a kickass song. I really need to get into the rest of the Infinite Entanglement trilogy sooner rather than later.

Iron Maiden- Sanctuary (Metal For Muthas version)

Easily my favorite version of the song. I absolutely adore the ghostly guitar sound present in this version.

Iron Maiden- Wrathchild (live, Chile 1996)

Blaze does the song great, but it’s a little static-ey. Not only have I found better quality versions of the show, I’ve also found slightly better renditions of the song from this tour. This version still smokes though.

Paul Di’Anno- Ain’t Talkin ’bout Love

Another great cover from Paul. It’s my favorite Van Halen song and I’m impressed with Paul’s ability to give the chorus oomph without the need for a tonne of backing harmonies.

Iron Maiden- The Clairvoyant (live, who knows where but definitely 1995 or 1996)

Meh quality recording. It even cuts out for half a second. Blaze does a pretty good job. He takes some risks with the delivery but I think it works. But it is my least favorite song on the disc.

Paul Di’Anno- Running Free (live, from The Beast in the East)

Another meh quality recording. And this time I know for certain I could have gotten a version with better sound quality. Di’Anno kicks major butt on it though, with a very high intensity rendition of the classic song.

Blaze Bayley- Waiting For My Life To Begin

Another Blaze solo track, this time from 2008’s The Man Who Would Not Die. This is a wicked song, crushingly heavy at some times and articulately slick at others. The lyrics might hit a bit too close to home for some though.

Iron Maiden- Burning Ambition

It sounds a tad out of place this late into the disc, but I still love the song. It’s definitely happier sounding than a lot of Maiden’s songs from that era, so a hodgepodge mix CD is probably the best place for it.

Blaze Bayley- Futureal (live, from Alive in Poland)

Still the best version of the song. An absolutely smashing rendition that redefines what it means to be the definitive version of something.

Paul Di’Anno- Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (live, from Live in London)

Holy cow! I totally forgot this one was on here. But how could I? It’s such a great version of the song. Sped up and with the liberal use of a guitar harmony, this one’s going straight on my Nigel Tufnel Top 10 Covers list (tells you when I took the notes for this issue).

Iron Maiden- The Evil That Men Do (live, Sao Paolo 1996)

Easily my favorite version of the song. Blaze’s voice brings a darkness to the verses that definitely suits the song, and he manages to muster some convincing power for the chorus. The version on the disc is from the TV broadcast, but I have since managed to source a soundboard version of the track.

Paul Di’Anno- Purgatory (live, from The Beast Arises)

The Beast Arises wasn’t the best live album, but it has the only official live version of one of my favorite songs from the Di’Anno era. And I do like this version a lot, even if it’s far from a perfect rendition.

So now you know why I was peeved to find some of the songs on here were on the previous mix CDs. But it didn’t end up spoiling much because no one really could have anticipated this. This is definitely the most ‘Harrison’ list I’ve given you guys so far (a dubious honor that Buried On Mars actually bestowed on last month’s disc. If only he knew what was in store). Anyway, this disc is my favorite mix CD so far. It’s an absolute blast all the way through, and a well-sequenced blast at that, if I do say so myself.

This was actually the first mix CD I considered ‘remastering/reissuing’, in a sense. Along with creating proper cover art and track listings, I wanted to replace some of the songs of lesser audio quality with better versions (and in the case of one song, replace it completely with another). I got as far as mocking up both a front and back cover for the disc (complete with name coined by the great Lebrain) but I never burned the disc. My mind drifted to a sequel and both ventures stalled in development hell. It’s not that I didn’t want to or didn’t enjoy doing it, more just that it wasn’t a priority as I was discovering tonnes of new music from other bands. I don’t just crank out mix CDs willy nilly. I need time to absorb them, and BlazePaul 2 ended up on the back burner. But you can check out the liner notes and other stuff I made for the ‘remaster’ below.

Front and back cover, using Lebrain’s name for mix CDs
Some spoilers for a couple of the changes I planned to make
Hey, we’re still in 2017. Busy year for mix CDs

I’ve been looking forward to this disc ever since I started the series, and it didn’t disappoint upon returning to listen to it. But what’s next in the mix CDs? Well I do believe I just went back to doing regular mixed tracklist stuff, so you’ll get to see one of those in August.

Iron Maiden: The Writing on the Wall (Review)

So I thought I’d weigh in on the new Maiden song today, though there’s bigger news by now. Still, it’s been technically released as a single so I can talk about it. Weird though not having anything physical. Anyway, on to the song itself.

The short intro is cool. Sets the scene nicely and then gets straight into the action. And some action is is. It sounds a little different to Maiden’s usual style but it still rocks. It’s the good kind of different, and by the time we get to the 1:10 mark and that unmistakable Maiden chug kicks in I know I’m in good hands. Maiden have never been known for Sabbath levels of riffle, but the riff in this song absolutely rules. I can imagine just stomping along to it in an arena (imagination being the limit of that fantasy for the immediate future.

Bruce sounds awesome. Sure, if you listen superficially you can noticeably hear his age, but when you get lost in the song it doesn’t register. The second line of the chorus does sound a little under-powered though, but it’s telling of the quality of the song that this specific nitpick is my only complaint. The soloing smokes, of course, and the whole song wraps up in a comfortable time that’s neither too long or too short.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m very optimistic about the upcoming Senjutsu based on this preview. Now, even though it is a single, I’m not going to rate it. It’s meant to be heard in the album context and that’s where I’ll give my final verdict. But, as always, up the irons!

Song of the Week- We Will Rock You

This is the first time Queen is making a song of the week appearance here, I believe. Some might say it’s a little overdue. But it’s certainly a worthy song to do it. I know some might consider the fast and the slow versions as different songs, but I don’t, because the only versions I listen to are the fast versions. I can’t help that The MadMetalMan likes when things are played fast.

Top 5 Renditions

1- Live Killers

I know Live Killers was messed with in the studio, but I can’t help that this is my favorite version of the song. Speedy for the win, and it was my first time hearing it fast. The harmonies on the chorus rule and the energetic feel completely trumps the dirge stomp of the original.

2- Queen Rock Montreal

And here we have the best true live version. And it’s almost the exact same as the Live Killers version. I even prefer the mix of this one. Trust me, it was tight.

3- On Air

It’s another great version but it’s just a tad too sterile for my tastes. Cool little uniqueness to the chorus melody though. I actually still really like this version, even if it’s not my go-to version.

4- Rock in Rio 1985

Of course, we would run out of fast versions eventually, which leads us to the first of two landmark 1985 Queen live performances. Rock in Rio gets the edge over Live Aid for being the full song.

5- Live Aid

And here’s Live Aid, making its contribution on the back of the legendary atmosphere and performance by the band.

The Best Cover

Axl Rose (technically with 3/4 of Queen though)

Whether this can truly be considered a cover is still up in the air, but I make the rules here and I’m including it for this section. It’s funny. I’m really not fond of Guns N Roses but I love hearing Axl’s voice on any song that isn’t by that band. This is no exception. I like that he gets the chance to let loose a bit more when he eggs the crowd on to sing with him.

Ozzy Osbourne: Tribute (Review)

It’s hard to talk about single disc live albums without mentioning this gem of a disc. Everyone is one fire here. It’s easy to hear why Randy’s unique guitar tone on this tour was his favorite. It scorches. Ozzy meanwhile (though the actual liveness of the vocals will always be in contention) is in fine form too.

And you get a very generous tracklist to go with it. “Crazy Train”, “Mr Crowley” and all the other early hits are accounted for, with plenty of album tracks. I think my favorite song on here is actually the speedy deep cut “Steal Away (The Night). The only dud in my eyes is “Revelation (Mother Earth)”, a slow a dull number not befitting the performers on the stage.

There’s also a few Black Sabbath songs that were played on the tour. Though the guitar tone isn’t the best fit for them, “Iron Man”, “Children of the Grave” and “Paranoid” all rock here. There’s also some bonus tracks with 2002 and onwards releases. The first two are extra live tracks from 1980 that help round out the offering. “Goodbye to Romance” is an Ozzy ballad that I actually like, and “No Bone Movies” is an energetic finish to the live proceedings. The final track, “Dee” is studio outtakes of Randy Rhoads playing an acoustic solo. It’s an unnecessary, though appropriate end to the disc.

Tribute was my introduction to a ton of these tracks, and I certainly picked a good place to start. This album is probably the finest disc in his discography, definitely thanks in part due to the legendary Randy Rhoads.

The verdict- 4.5/5

Song of the Week Jr- Solstice Title Theme

Sorry folks, short one today. I’m working on some other cool stuff for later this month so I’ve gone with a song that appeared on my best covers list.

Top 3 Renditions

1- Tony Dickinson

And here is that cover. Yes, I’m breaking my own rules and mixing the two sections up (you know, going forward, SOTW Jrs might just do this again if there aren’t many versions). The guitar gives the song a lot more awesomeness with the guitar harmonies, keyboards and overall added heaviness and realism.

2- Tim Follin (NTSC Version)

And here’s the original, composed by legendary NES composer Tim Follin. This bouncy uptempo chip-tune prog rock “song” is probably his best known composition for good reason. It smokes, and I love how he suckers you into thinking this will be an ordinary fantasy theme, and then BOOM! It explodes into life.

3- Tim Follin (PAL Version)

We here at the Triple M like it when things are played fast, so of course the NTSC version will top this one (despite the fact that I am a PAL boy myself). Tim considers this to be the true version of the tune so maybe I’m just different here (wouldn’t be the first time).

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