Category Archives: Impact Albums

These are albums that over time have impacted my listening tastes. Some of these writeup’s will not be about a bands biggest selling album but to me its some of there best work….

U2: ACHTUNG BABY (2021 Reissue)

During this crazy Pandemic I have been supporting locally owned Record Shops. The only problem is Tbay has no good record shops other than Sunrise which is a nationwide chain. Instead I have decided to support local shops that are out of town! Encore Records out of Kitchener, Aux33 out of Montreal and now Resolute Records out of Toronto are three locally owned shops that I have given my business too. I ordered 5 albums from Resolute Records and first up is those four fellas from Ireland. 

Another huge album that just turned 30 years young was U2’s “Achtung Baby” that was released back in November 1991.

I will never admit to being the biggest U2 fan around as my collection is patchy at best but there is something about certain albums that after all these years still draws you in as the listener.

“Achtung Baby” for me is that record which I finally got on vinyl after my sister Kristin nicked my CD copy of it about 29 years ago!

All kidding aside, U2 created a brilliantly written and recorded album that still stands up today.

Full out props to Producers Daniel Lanois/Brian Eno/ Steve Lillywhite and engineer Flood whom all created and crafted one of the best sounding records I have ever heard.

No other record before or after that I have heard sounds like “Achtung Baby” and thats thanks to all the parties involved in making of the album.

U2 themselves that being of course Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. stepped up and wrote 12 tracks that are all classics and to prove that point this record went 5 singles deep while  selling well over 1 million records in Canada. (certified Diamond as was ’87’s “Joshua Tree”.)

I’m not going into a detailed breakdown of this album but I will mention a couple of tracks that really stand out. (the whole album really stands out too be honest with ya).

 

Opener “Zoo Station” sets the pace and it’s very apparent about 20 seconds in that this album is sounding like no other albums. Love the mix of Clayton’s Bass on this record as its soars over everything. Very simple yet very effective.

Speaking of soaring Bass how about “Even Better Than The Real Thing” which has some real cool Mullen Jr. percussion driving the song forward along with The Edges guitar.

“One” was a big single and I love the feel of this tune as Bono delivers a stellar vocal along with Edge’s guitar playing.  “One” is one of the all time greats..

“Until The End of The World” has Edge leading the charge on guitar as how many effects does this guy use?

One of my favourite tunes is “The Fly” which is such a killer track. The chorus is Gold as I love how Edge and Bono’s voices collide while all the other rock trimmings are going on sonically  in the background.

“Achtung Baby” on vinyl is a must listen and  actually is a great listen on headphones as well as there is so much going on socially around the four dudes known as U2.

 

The Tragically Hip: Road Apples 30th Annivesary Deluxe Vinyl Edition(2021)

It’s all about timing. A few months ago (early September) the ladies in my house asked me what I wanted for my Birthday and no sooner that question was asked than Canada’s very own The Tragically Hip were reissuing on both CD and Vinyl a huge set commemorating  the 30th Anniversary of the iconic “Road Apples” album.

Umm, I would like one gift and one gift only Ladies and thats this box set!

Once I was given the green light by them it was off to The Hips web store and I preordered it straight  from them as they had a limited offer of charging only $10 for shipping!

So this past Monday (Nov. 15th) I was notified that this set was on route to my house.

Just three days later on Thursday the 18th here it was in my hands.

“Road Apples” for myself is an iconic album and it’s easily to say  in my all time Top 20 if we were keeping score.

For those unfamiliar with the album. It’s as if the five members of The Hip just plugged in and blasted out an ass kicker of a record live in the studio.

That’s why I love this album. It sounds so live as it was expertly dialled in by Don Smith (RIP) and Bruce Barris (RIP.) Together they let The Hip do there thing..

Included is a Blu-ray DVD with all remixes in 5.1 and 7.1 but really the selling the point is the vinyl especially the double “Live At The Roxy” (more on that in bit).

Included is the original “Road Apples” studio release along with the recently released “Saskadelphia” which features five studio tracks from the “Road Apple” sessions (plus a sixth track “Montreal” recorded live back in 2000).

 

“Hoof- Hearted” is a collection of outtakes and  rarities from 1990/91. Included is an actual poster promoting the album as well as a killer 36 page booklet which zeros in on just this time frame of the band.

The booklet is awesome as it has a ton of pics from recording at Danial Lanois Kingsway Studio in New Orleans plus a breakdown of each song and even pictures of Good Downies hand written lyrics.

I must also mention the impact that producer Don Smith and Bruce Barris had shaping and teaching the tools of the trade when it came to recording in the studio. Each member of the band talks about the impact that Smith and Barris had on them at that time and still to this day.

“Live At The Roxy” recorded back in May 91 is the selling feature for me as it’s the The Hip in their element which is the live stage.

“Live At The Roxy” has been heavily bootlegged throughout the years as I had some tracks but not the full show so how psyched was I to finally hear the full show from Kingstons finest.

Look at that setlist below…

Gord and The Hipsters were on fire that night in Los Angeles as they rip n roar through a 15 song set. Up until this Roxy show was included I thought the best live Hip I had ever heard was the bonus live show (included on “Fully Completely”) from Toronto (recorded in the fall of 1992 at the Horseshoe) but that all changed once the needle hit the turntable!

Holy Moly…from opener “Little Bones” to the last track “Canadian Surf Club”, these guys are on fire. “On The Verge” has them almost going off the rails of the stage.  I don’t think I ever heard them play this quick before…

Gord Downie is well, classic Gord on here.  Introducing  “Twist My Arm” to the crowd about a “guy delivering a pizza to a crack house” is mint or Gord singing a few lines of Poisons “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” (which garners boos) before the band goes into “Long Time Running” is hilarious.

As I noted above this album has been heavily bootlegged two of those tracks are finally on here together those being “Highway Girl (Double Suicide)” and “New Orleans Is Sinking (Killer Whale Tank)” which not only includes Downie’s stories but the playing of guitarist Bobby Baker as well as the whole band (Gord Sinclair, Paul Langlois and Johnny Fay) is stellar.

Each show Gord would change up the stories so thankfully the tapes were rolling that night which  Don Smith was on site recording.

What also be noted that on all the streaming platforms (Apple, Spotify) The Hip chose not to include the Roxy show as of right now.

Another reason for me wanting this box set!

One more thing. The remaining surviving members put this box set together. No outside interference which if you have followed these guys throughout there career you know that has always been the deal.

Special thanks to Sue,Kylee, Lex and Lauren!

A must own!

 

 

 

 

 

Metallica: The Black Album (1991)

 

Another album that recently had its 30th Birthday was “The Black Album” from those fun loving metal heads known as Metallica.

What is there to say about this album that hasn’t been said?

Exactly…everything that could have been written about it has been especially lately in magazines, podcasts etc.

So for this post lets go back to August 12th 1991 when I was 23 years young and my younger brother Todd was 13!

It was a nice day out so we both decided to ride our bikes to the record shop and we would each grab copies of “The Black Album”. My copy being on CD and Todd’s preference at the time was cassette tape!

Now if you are a reader of this blog you will already know and if you don’t I will tell you all that the deal that I had with my brother was he would be in what you call in todays lingo my ‘mule’ back in 90-92!

If I was at work and once a new release would come out I would send my brother with the cash in hand to get us each a copy. CD and cassette.

What a great arrangement. This way I could shoot straight home after work and there in my bedroom would be the new releases at the time from Van Halen, Skid Row, Guns N Roses, David Lee Roth. Plus with my brother getting into music this boosted up his collection in no time.

As I mentioned earlier I had that week of August 12th off so as we made our 1 hour bike ride (each way) to the record shop once we entered I still recall seeing stacks of The Black Album and on tape and disc.

A quick purchase and we were out the door..

Ah, good times….damn good times…

Forward to September 2021 and with Metallica reissuing this album on all kinds of formats, I wanted it on vinyl.

I will tell you folks that it pays to preorder vinyl on Amazon as soon as you hear about new releases coming.

Case in point earlier this year I preordered both vinylreissues of Black Sabbaths Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules.  Under 70 bucks  Canadian for both double sets. Once the day of release came Amazon didn’t  have them.

I waited and about a month later I got them. Than they spiked up to $46 Canadian each!

Same with The Black Album. Once the preorder went up on Amazon I got the double vinyl set for including shipping $27 Canadian.

It pays to hunt around and if your asking why not support a local shop well there’s an easy answer to that. Other than Sunrise Records (a national chain) there is no local shop to support!

Kinda funny now (but I’m sure it wasn’t funny 30 years ago) that the working title of this record was “Married To Metal” as three of the Metallica guys were going through divorces at the time.

Expertly dialled in by Bob Rock and Randy Stuab at the production end of things, even though Hetfield and Ulrich are credited as well (producers) you know they were listed as they were having issues with letting a guy like Bob call the shots.

In the end though Rock and Staub delivered the sonics and hearing this on vinyl for the first time this record sounds HUGE!

No need to go into a track by track breakdown but man when Lars snare kicks in on “Enter Sandman” or even that snare crack at the beginning of “Sad But True”. Heavy it is but not in the tradition of Slayer heavy.

Bob Rock expertly executed the sound of Metallica and you can hear Jason Newsted’s Bass as well. Cheers to that.

The performances over the albums 12 tracks are brilliant and in saying that Metallica has always made good records.

On a side note I got into them when “Master of Puppets” was released when I was in Grade 12 (back in 86) and have followed them since.

“And Justice For All” I really liked and would put it behind the Black Albumalbum as perhaps my second favourite record of there’s as I love that it was the exact opposite of  everything  in terms of music when it came out in 88!

Long songs, big drums, loud guitars, no bass and for the longest time  no singles and no video!

You have to respect em at the time for that.

But by 91 Metallica realized to stay in the game and to make some serious dough maybe it was time to come down a notch.

By doing doing that since Aug 1991, “The Black Album” has sold 30 million records worldwide. Needless to say James, Kirk, Jason and Lars don’t have to worry about paying there electricity bill ever again!

Thats food for thought!

 

 

 

 

OZZY OSBOURNE: No More Tears

Crazy to think that the Ozzman’s “No More Tears” album turned 30 years young this past September. In saying that comes the reissue both on a digital format (bonus tracks and demos) and vinyl.

I scooped this one up on vinyl when Amazon added it as preorder back in July.

I will go on record and say that “No More Tears” is my favourite Ozzy solo album followed closely by ’83’s “Bark At The Moon”.

What about the Rhoads albums you ask. Fair enough.

“Bark At The Moon” was the second ever solo Ozzy album I  got after receiving the double live “Speak of the Devil” which I got for Xmas ’82.

The two Randy Rhoads records came after BATM. Don’t get me wrong though as I love that era of Oz but its just where my entry into the world of Ozzman happened and that was with Jake E Lee on the six string.

“No More Tours Tour” was when I caught Ozzy live and not only was he plugging this release in the summer of ’92 but it was announced at the time that this was his final tour.

If it had all played out and Ozzy had walked away , what an album to have gone out on!

But as we know that didn’t happen as Ozzy came back in ’95 in which he called that tour “Retirement Sucks”.

Getting a little ahead here…

Back to 91 and Ozzy drops this album and the band and Ozzy step up huge…

Can you say Mr Tinkertrain?

“Mr Tinkertrain” is a stellar opener as the one thing that stands out to me is Zakk Wylde’s playing on it especially come solo time as his lead work is bonkers. What a solo…

The rocker tracks which make up this record are brilliant. “I Don’t Want To Change The World”, “A.V.H”, “Zombie Stomp”, “Hellraiser” and the title track all sizzle as Zakk along with Randy Castillio and Bob Daisley drive the bus forward musically while Oz tosses down some great lead vocals.

Two of the tracks to my ears have always been what I would consider two of the best tracks that Ozzy has cranked out are “Desire” and “S.I.N”.

“Desire” I feel is Wylde’s best playing put down to tape. That solo that Zakk cranks out of that Gibson is through the roof while “S.I.N”  just takes your head off once the the band kicks in. Plus the choruses to these two tunes are catchy as heck.

Special mention to Zakk on that outro solo on “S.I.N” which is bat shit crazy good.

WOW…

Even though I’m tired of hearing “Mama I’m Coming Home” on local crap radio it’s still a good track as is “Road To Nowhere” which closes out the album.

Glad to own this one on vinyl now as its amazing that at the start of the 90’s Ozzy was already at this game called rock n roll for over 20 years but capturing lightening in the bottle along with a killer band paid dividends in the end as 30 years down on the line its still a must own.

 

TRIUMPH: Allied Forces (2021)

Ah, there you have it. One of the finest albums ever to come out of Toronto (well anywhere actually) and that is “Allied Forces” by those fine Canadian Gents known as Triumph!

“Allied Forces” I  purchased back in the fall of ’81 as it was that cover with the iconic Flying V that was calling and telling me as 14 year old that this album will ROCK!

It does indeed ROCK! From album opener “Fool For Your Love” to closing  track “Say Goodbye” there are no dips in the songs. In other words, no skipping of tracks.

You can play this album front to back.

Fast forward to this year…

It was announced back in April that Triumph would be releasing and  limiting a deluxe box set of “Allied Forces”  to only 1200 copies throughout the entire world for “Record Store Day” on June 12th.

June 12th came and they were all scooped up. I tried and no luck but Andy Curran ( whom we were interviewing that day ironically enough as Andy had a major hand in the piecing together this box set))  told myself and Mikey Ladano to sit tight and not pay ridiculous eBay prices which had the box set going for about $400 Canadian.

So we sat tight, waited and some dude commented on Ladano’s page that Rock Paper Merch had copies of this limited set available.

Mikey pounced right away and after a few days I got myself a copy as well and better yet my daughter Lauren said this is my early Birthday  gift!

Wowzers, what a great gift as I had this box set in my hands in four days. Great shipping!

So not only do you get an updated copy of “Allied Forces” (the original studio release) you get a ’10 inch 45 of the boys ripping out a unreleased version of “Magic Power” from Ottawa back in ’82.

The flip side has “Allied Forces 2021” which features Phil X who on guitar who as you all know replaced Rik Emmett back in the early ’90s.

Below is the cover of the 45 which is right in my pal  Teebone’s wheelhouse as he has always been a sucker for ladies on record covers!

Rik Emmett, Mike Levine and Gil Moore did the right thing and let Andy Curran (who did a bunch of the recent RUSH reissue’s) dig through the attics of Metalwork Studios and pull together this magnificent looking box set including a shrunk down version of the tour book from the 1981 Tour!

Also included is a double live show recorded in Cleveland and the stage is where you hear how powerful the Toronto three piece Triumph really was in concert. As well what a stellar set list.

But wait there’s more. Included is an Rik Emmett guitar pic as well as couple of posters.

So take a bow Mr. Curran for taking on an enormous task of researching and putting together piece by piece a box set with the focus of a fans perspective put first.

Thanks to Rik, Gil and Mike for all the killer music included on “Allied Forces!”

Make sure you tune in this upcoming Wednesday night (Oct 20th) at 7pm when myself and Brent Jensen will focus our energies on the Rock N Roll Machine known as TRIUMPH!

 

You can watch live on my Youtube Page….Thunder Bay Arena Rock-Scotch On The Rocks

 

Impact Albums- Aerosmith:Draw The Line (1977)

 

It was early 1981 when my Dad handed me a copy of Aerosmith’s “Draw The Line” album.

Now as it turns out my Father’s friend Ken(RIP) gave it to my him to pass onto me as Ken did not dig Aerosmith but he knew me being 13 years young  I would likey.

Ken you were right and thanks for the Aero introduction!

Once I heard this album the second Aero album I ended up purchasing in the summer of 81 was the immortal double “Live Bootleg”.

I was used to cover drawn albums as KISS were the leaders in that department back than yet here comes Aerosmith with a cool band drawing on the cover and they call it “Draw The Line”

Cool play on words fellas!

As a 13-year-old at the time I thought Aero was into art class but a little later on realized Aero was into the seedier side of things when you skip art class.

So here we are 40 years down the line and it was time to upgrade from that worn out copy of “Draw The Line” and a RSD title to boot that I bought at Comix Plus here in Tbay that sells some sealed and mostly used records.

Let’s check on Joe Perry,Steve Tyler,Joey Kramer, Tom Hamilton and Brad Whitford and see how they shaped some musical landscapes for a one young dEker!

DRAW THE LINE- What an intro to Aerosmith with this tune. Holy Crap here comes Joe navigating some serious slide guitar and his side kick Steve belting out the cowboy song! “Heads I win Tails You lose” yelps Tyler. You win Steve as  he basically throws up a tonsil in that crazy part of the song you all know it that part that goes “Checkmate don’t be late, take another pull, that’s right impossible” What a rip of an opening song!

I WANNA KNOW WHY- This is a great song, some cool keyboards rock this song along just fine. Being this is my first Aero album and so far so good! If the stories are true that they were totally blasted throughout the recording of this album. Keep blasting!

CRITICAL MASS-The whole band shifts a tempo down from the first two numbers and they still rock it with Tyler telling his story about the seedier side of living kinda like spaced out actually yeah man Tyler’s tripping into who knows where but he makes tripping seem real cool. “Tell me how ya recover from the time in space as it takes you away.” That’s what Steven sings….honestly.

GET IT UP-Perry kick’s  out with some cool slide guitar once again. Steve shoots into town in a police car and your daddy said he took it a little too far! Cool tune. Off the walls is Aero as there is no sobriety in sight.

BRIGHT LIGHT FRIGHT- Joe takes the lead vocal on this one and it’s a steamer of a track. Throw in some cool sax and some wicked leads and this is Joe doin solo time so Steve can ramp it up into the next track!

KINGS AND QUEENS- Wow, this is epic Aerosmith. Steve talks about the “Kings And Queens and Guillotine’s taking lives denied”. Basically Steve is singing about greed in 1877 or perhaps 1977 with all their handlers around. That’s my spin on it and for a band as they say being out of it. They pull one out of the fire here that’s for sure.

THE HAND THAT FEEDS-“Doctor,Doctor,Doctor” Steve shouts. Is someone calling a code on Aeros behalf? I have to say though I think by this point they were starting to lose a bit of creative gas but then the endless lifestyle of craziness may be catching up. Still they pull this one out. Tom and Joey set the rhythm pace.

SIGHT FOR SORE EYES- I prefer the live version on Live Bootleg. This version is kinda a  slow tempo compared to the very amped up live deal. Still it’s neat to hear it In Its original state.

MILK COW BLUES- This is a cover tune jammer that ends the album and I really think Aero ran out of steam by this point so a cover tune was needed to push the album to the 35 minute mark. I’m sure the record company was freaking on them for lack of material but I really don’t think the Smith boys cared too much by this point!

 

Impact Album: The Cult-Sonic Temple (1989)

 

1989 rolls around and The Cult featuring Ian Astbury, Billy Duffy, and Jamie Stewart along with Bob Rock at the control center unleashed one of the best sounding hard rock albums that in 2021 still sounds supreme!

Crazy to think Sonic Temple is 32 years old. Where does the time fly?

Once again this past Christmas I was gifted with “Sonic Temple” on vinyl which is spread out nicely over two double records that even has some bonus material on them.

This album kicks serious ass from the get go. Opener “Sun King” kicks the party off and the sound is massive. Cheers to Bob Rock and Mike Fraser for dialling it in sonically  on this album.

“Fire Woman” has that great opening Duffy street rock riff and the song lifts off from there.  Astbury was in his element here as I can still visual him in the video for this track digging his heals in at becoming that Arena Rock Guy which he dug for a time I’m sure before not too long after he kinda didn’t dig it.

Maybe I’m wrong here but either way the song still sounds good today on local crap radio. 

“Sonic Temple” fuses some huge Zep like rock on tracks like “Soul Asylum” while others like “New York City” is one of those hard driving balls out rock tracks that will smack you you around like if Iggy Pop was doing the smacking! (See what I did there?). Mickey Curry from Bryan Adams band handled the drums on this record and keeps The Cult on track.

“Sweet Soul Sister” with that cool driving bass line courtesy of Jamie Stewart is another bonafide hit. How about that chorus and guitar solo from Billy Duffy.

With it being 1989 sure there would be a ballad included which is “Edie (Ciao Baby)”. For all the sap power ballads that we’re racing up the charts back than “Edie” was a different kind of tune one in which I like and maybe that is because of WolfChilds vocals or the fact that tune ramps up. 

The rest of this album is killer. It’s all a brilliantly written heavy rock record and what better way than to end the sonic assault than all us of hoping on the “Medicine Train”!

ShotGun!

Thats the great thing about Duffy/Astbury and Stewart back than as they didn’t follow the cheese rock formula. Instead they forged their own path sonically and this album delivers that in spades.

Check out Mike Lebrain on Youtube as a few weeks back we chatted with Mike Fraser who told us some great stories about working with these guy’s in the studio.

 

 

 

Impact Album: UFO- Strangers In The Night (1979)

 

Geez, I’m bad at anniversary dates and If I was on the ball I would have timed this back on January 2nd as it was that date back in 1979 that the mighty “UFO” released one of the most highly regarded double live releases ever…

“Strangers In The Night” is a tour de force. UFO was gaining a foothold in that market known as the United States( 1978’s Obsession charted at 41 on the Billboard Charts) yet by the time Strangers came out the main architect of this record was already gone.

Michael Schenker the blond playing German Guitar God with the Gibson Flying V after years of drugs and alcohol finally had enough and walked out during the mixing of “Strangers In The Night.”  

The story goes that when the song “Rock Bottom “was being mixed by producer Ron Nevison, Schenker heard the mix that was going to be used and he didn’t like how his guitar was sounding and wanted to pick another version of the song. Schenker also refused to do overdubs on the album saying there were better versions than what they were working with.

Michael was told ‘No’ and walked out of the studio supposedly muttering ‘Poor, Poor Rock Bottom’ in his broken English never to return.

The end result. Strangers came out and hit the charts (#42 in the U.S and #7 in England) but by the time the tour for it rolled around Micheal was long gone and replaced by Paul Chapman(RIP). More on Chapman’s involvement later.

UFO came across my radar back in 1981-82. My buddy Muc was the first I knew that owned any UFO album and Strangers was it.  Muc was also the first one I knew of who bought 82’s “Mechanix” record as well.

When I first heard “Strangers” it was an album I needed to own but by 82 this version of UFO was basically non-existent. Schenker had formed his own band MSG and in doing some nabbed his former UFO bandmate Paul Raymond(RIP) for the project.

 Bassist Pete Way(RIP) also was also off and running to play Bass for Ozzy on the Ozzmans 82 British Tour at which point Pete was fired by Sharon Osbourne (SHOCKER) than Pete joined Fast Eddie Clarke(RIP) who himself had left Motorhead and together they formed the very cool band “Fastway” but Pete was gone after 5 minutes to form his own band “Waysted” who released the pretty good “Vices” record in 83.

Did you get that?

So UFO at that point when Muc was spinning their records had Phil Mogg(singer) Andy Parker(drums) Neil Carter(keyboards) and Paul Chapman but I’m getting a little ahead here…

Back to 79…

Now in late 2020, the right thing was done and that was to reissue “Strangers” not only on double vinyl but also a 6 CD deluxe set that features 7 shows from the 1978 tour. Five of those have been unreleased and sitting in the vaults. I know many of these shows have ended up on various bootlegs over the years but now they are official.

So now more than ever there is a ton of UFO on the market!

Better real late than never.

So this past Christmas one of the albums I received was this updated version of this classic.

13 tracks make up the original Strangers album recorded in Chicago and Louisville on UFO’s “Obsession Tour’.

This band as we all know loved to party (ahem) but if anything when it came time to hit the stage these guys had it together.

Hello Chicago! Would you please welcome from England..UFO!!

Strangers for me personally is UFO’s Greatest Hits set. All these songs are bonafide classics that begin with “Natural Thing” until the final song “Shoot, Shoot”.

Mogg was always a great lyricist and I can honestly say the songs that make up this set showcase his writing abilities. 

Musically the band is rock solid. Schenker lays down the gauntlet on  every track on here. Just listen to Michaels soloing on tunes like “Natural Thing”, “I’m A Loser,” “Only You Can Rock Me”, and of course “Rock Bottom.” 

Which came as a surprise to me two tracks those being as “This Kids” and “Mother Mary” were recorded in the studio and had an audience slapped on them. 

Say What!?

The fact that Schenker co-wrote 11 of the albums 13 tracks says how his playing elevated this band to a whole other level. 

One of the best live albums ever. Well almost completely live!

GIve it a spin or a stream!

 

 

 

 

 

Cheap Trick: Out To Get You Live (1977)

 

 

 

Never was big on the whole Record Store Deal hype as Thunder Bay has one store(part of a chain) but as I did in the past go and check out those RSD specials it always seems the Thunder Bay store gets stuff I have zero interest in.

Now with the Covid thing hanging around, I was intrigued that one of the record stores I visited back in 2017 (AUX 333) in Montreal (with my pal Tbone in tow) was doing an online-only RSD this year. The store would be open that day to buy used/new albums but the RSD only vinyl albums would be on sale at 1pm.

So back at the end of August, I took part in the online-only RSD event. I scored Ace Frehley Trouble Walking on double vinyl as I had never owned it and I guess it was time to get a copy of it 31 years later after its initial release.

So now at the tail of October, there was another RSD and I was intrigued by a couple of releases. 

But since all RSD releases all don’t go to the same store throughout the world it’s like a surprise to see what my go-to store in Montreal would have.

So at 1 pm, sharp Aux33 Tours in Montreal dropped their list of albums. Four pages were full of special albums for RSD.

Right off the hop, I added two double albums to my basket and as I scrolled to the other pages I added Skid Row Slave to the Grind on vinyl as well.

So I checked out and when I went to pay Skid Row was already sold out. That quick under 5 minutes. No fuckin around you have to grab and basically dash. I did and bam just like Skid Row was gone. Not the end of the world as in my basket I had Alice Cooper and Cheap Trick and I made my payment and that was it for shopping as I didn’t want to fart around and lose out on the Coop and Trick.

I have to add that when you order from Auxx33 they pack their vinyl in solid sturdy packaging. 

One of my scores is Cheap Trick “Out To Get You Live”

Now when it comes to live albums we all know how respected 1978’s Cheap Trick at the Budokan is for the masses. Back in 79 Budokan was my entry point into the world of Cheap Trick so in my world I regard it easily in my all-time Top 5 Live Albums of all time!

BUT…

Out To Get You Live may just be the better live album over Budokan!

What did you say? Better than …..Budokan? 

Lemme explain.

Out To Get You is 100% live. Read the blurb below that is on the back cover.

So back in June 77 here’s Robin, Rick, Bun E and Tom are hanging around in LA recording on what would become their second LP (“In Color”) after their self-titled debut had just come out earlier that year. 

Cheap Trick was working hard, here they are touring a debut album while recording on a break the second album while also about to begin a 3-month tour that year opening for KISS on their Can-Am Tour 1977 followed by the release of In Color in September ’77!

Deciding to take a break from recording CT set up shop at the Whiskey A Go-Go and pushed the record button and recorded this show which for the most part has sat in the vaults since then.

That’s Crazy! 

22 Songs make up this album and looking at the tracklisting below the band is playing at least 12 songs that had not been released yet. How about three songs (“Auf Wiedersehen”, “Southern Girls”, and “High Roller”) that would not appear until the third album in 78. (“Heaven Tonight”) Crazier is another three-pack of tunes featured ((“Loser,” “Oh Boy” and “Can’t Hold On”) which wouldn’t see release for years or even decades later.

Did you folk’s out there reading this notice anything? How about the exclusion of two of the biggest CT tunes being “Surrender” and “I Want You To Want Me”. 

The audio on this release is beyond phenomenal. Tom Petersson’s Bass is enormous sounding. Folk’s we are talking the late 70s here and it’s massive. You can hear how guys like Dug Pinnick and Andy Curran have nicked Tom’s tone. 

Being live these songs rock. “Ello Kiddies” has Bun E Carlos laying down a drumbeat that is like a stomp. A stomp to your mellon basically.  Rick Nielsen plays a ton of catchy licks and being the main songwriter Rick knew the fine art of crafting hook-driven tunes that can give you a hard swift kick in the arse when needed.

Give it up for Robin Zander whose voice at times almost goes hoarse but that is the charm of this album. No studio trickery and perhaps the only live album in the ’70s (Aerosmith’s “Live Bootleg” would be another) that is not fixed up with all that studio trickery(Say hello KISS)

Bun E Carlos has put together a classic era RSD recording that I can honestly say is better than Budokan! Even the gatefold shot posted below is from those shows at the Whiskey! Let’s call this one an Impact Live Album!

 

Impact Album: Iron Maiden- A Matter of Life and Death (2006)

 

When “A Matter of Life and Death” came out in 2006 it was easily a first day buy.

Why wouldn’t it be as  Bruce Dickinson returned 7 years earlier back in 1999 to regain his throne as the lead vocalist in Iron Maiden. In return, Maiden started to deliver some stellar studio albums.

“Brave New World” in 2000 followed by “Dance of Death” in 2003 let everyone know that Maiden was back. They were not going to rest on their previous success (pick any studio from the 80s).

“A Matter of Life and Death” was released August 8th, 2006 and as you can tell by the cover ‘War’ is going to be somewhat the theme on this album.

With Maiden, you know what you are getting. 10 songs clocking in at just over 71 minutes. You know with Steve Harris and company there are no cutting corners!

“Different World” the first track sets the pace and as any Maiden fan knows Maiden starts off their albums with rockers. Written by Harris and Adrian Smith Different World has that great catchy chorus and a phenomenal guitar solo by Smith that you would expect when you see Adrian’s name attached to any song he has written in the confines of this band.

The rest of the album has a ton of tempo changes. Prog Maiden to Galloping Maiden to Acoustic Maiden back to Prog back to Galloping. “These Colors Don’t Run” builds up then kicks off into another gear and then ramps down. What Maiden album would be without a round of ‘Ooooh, Ooooh, Ooooh’ during the chorus. Bruce Dickinson you know is going to make every last person in that arena stand up and join in on the fun!

Speaking of Dickinson Bruce really gives it his all (well he always does) on “Brighter Than A Thousand Suns”. I have to say that this song is one of my favs as there is a killer riff throughout and Bruce goes from all-out metal mode to chill out with a snap of the fingers. At 8 minutes long this song is so well written (take a bow Smith-Harris- Dickinson) and performed that it’s hard to believe that 8 minutes of time has passed!

Janick Gers gets into the swing of things in a co-write with Harris on “The Pilgrim” which has the slow beginning and then everything starts boogying at a clip. Speaking of Gers I love his loosey-goosey style of guitaring in Maiden as Dave Murray and Adrian are more on the technical side of the fence. It all gels together.

“The Longest Day” has that galloping Maiden vibe as Harris and his four-string start as Nicko McBrain sets the table with his drumming as the others follow Nick’s lead on it. More twist n turns on this tune. That’s the great thing about this album. It has many tempo changes you don’t know what’s coming up around the bend! If you don’t believe me check out the 5-minute mark as the guitars will slam your noggin against the wall!

Bruce and Steve team up and deliver “Out of the Shadows” which could have slotted in nicely on 92’s Fear of the Dark album as Out of the Shadows has that “Wasting Love” vibe about it. Not a ballad per se but Maiden taking the foot off the gas pedal shall we say!

Being a Maiden fan since the summer of 1981 one of my favorite things about them is that they do it there way (just as RUSH did) as when it comes to singles.  How about a 7-minute 21-second track called “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg”. Being a single(ha) I have to add this another standout track composed by Harris and Dave Murray. Once the song lifts off after the moody intro all bets are off as the song is so brilliant during the chorus as Bruce takes over while there are moveable musical tempo changes under his voice which is the selling point! Blown away by this track. Simply put on the best!

When I caught “The Legacy of the Beast Tour” last year, Harris and company played “For The Greater Good of God” which was a surprise addition as with a catalog as deep as Maidens it was nice to see them polish this one up and play it live for the first time since 2006! Tempo changes, Drums, galloping Bass, lots of Guitar magic. It’s all delivered in this song. All 9 plus minutes!

“Lord of Light” begins chill and then explodes into the fireball frenzy that we expect from Maiden. Lord of Light is the third song on this record to feature the writing talents of Smith-Harris- Dickinson. When these three put their talents together on songs watch out!

Ending the album is “The Legacy” written by both Gers and Harris and if anything it’s like a mash-up of Zep and Maiden as there is that slowly but surely build-up which takes the listener on a journey for an album closer which clocks in as the longest song on the album at 9 minutes 23 seconds. 

I have to thank Mikey Ladano who put the bug back in my ear about this album a few weeks back. We were talking Maiden and I said that  2015’s “Book of Souls” was the best record they have done since Bruce returned in 2000. Mikey came back with A Matter of Life And Death and in saying that stopped me in my tracks.

It got me thinking. Is Mikey onto something? An under the radar album from Maiden. I listened to it that day after our conversation on my iPod and by golly, Mikey makes a strong case.

So strong that I ordered it from Amazon on vinyl! The pictures you see here are from the vinyl version. Double Vinyl. Gatefold Sleeve. A thing of beauty. Maiden albums give you your money’s worth on how a reissue should be done!

I’m thinking this may be my fav studio Maiden album since Bruce’s return 21 years ago.