Category Archives: SONIC WAVES…Album Reviews

Occasionally I will throw down some reviews of albums that I thought were and still are cool to me…..hope you likey!

Dokken: Under Lock And Key (1985)

 

One of the albums that I have been on the hunt for a very long time is Dokken’s 1985 all time classic hard rock delight “Under Lock And Key”.

Sure there are copies out in the wild so to speak but very pricey. My pal Probie was vinyl hunting the other day and scored me a copy that ended up in a local pawn shop.

I was pretty psyched to get my hands on this release as Dokken was one of those 80s acts that had a ton of inner band drama yet they somehow pulled it together and put out four stellar studio and one double live album that still hold up realyl well in the year 2022.

How about those threads the Dokken boys are wearing on the cover?

I’m not going to get into the whole Don Dokken and George Lynch pissy pants drama they had between them yet they somehow took that pettiness between them and made it work and along with Jeff Pilson and Mick Brown put out not one single dud of an album in 80’s!

This record out of the Dokken albums has more sonic gloss than the first couple of releases (“Breaking The Chains” and “Tooth And Nail”) and the production by Neil Kernon and Micheal Wagner added a little more texture which for intent and purposes works on this one.

The first three tracks that open the album “Unchain The Night”, “The Hunter” and “In My Dreams” are bonafide Dokken classics.  “The Hunter” especially as Curious George lays down a fantastic solo as the groove and swing of this tune is wicked.

“It’s Not Love” was another biggie from this record which got a bunch of play on MuchMusic here in Canada.

With Dokken they knew how to toe the line  quote, unquote in regards to the Power Ballad as “Alone Again” from 84’s “Tooth And Nail” put them in the public eye for good.

“Slippin Away” is a good tune but not “Alone Again” great. Still though you knew that with these guys they liked to dabble on that side of the fence at least once on their albums and as an 18 year old back in ’85 I was ok with that.

The rest of this release is chocked full of rockers as in “Lightening Strikes Again” and “Til The Livin End” which has Lynch, Pilson and Brown flexing there musical muscle.

I have to add that the track “Don’t Lie To Me” is one those sleeper Dokken tracks that no one talks about  yet they should as it fuses that sound of hard/melodic rock in one track brilliantly..

After all these years its great to get this one on vinyl and I have Probie to thank for that as I’m one record away from completing my Dokken vinyl collection which  comes down to that  “Breaking The Chains” release which is the only one I need to get.

More vinyl digging will be coming up or should it be The Hunter scouring for vinyl?

dEke’s Vinyl Score: 8.5/10

 

KISS: OFF THE SOUNDBOARD-Donington (1996)

Say what you want about KISS nowadays but I have to tell you I have been enjoying these officially released ‘Off The Soundboard’ series albums that have been coming out it seems every three to four months.

The latest release from the band is from the ’96 reunion tour when it touched down at Donington that year with the original four members.

When you look at the track listing of the show below one glaring omission is “Beth” and too be honest with you all I’m glad its left off of here or did they not even play it that night?

Who knows but thought the albums seventeen tracks you get a band that was rolling in a ton of dough at that time, selling out shows everywhere which for Stanley and Simmons was a relief as the previous tour (Revenge in ’92) was a miss as Grunge and Cobain’s Tattered Cardigan was the musical choice of millions that year.

Not that Gene and Paul would ever admit it (something to do with ego I’m sure) but when Peter Criss and Ace Frehley returned it was all bets off and no going back to the non makeup days as this is where the cash was too be made.

For a live listen this is great as from the get go once “Deuce” kicks in Simmons Bass is cranked which is a good thing and give the Demon some respect on that four string as he nails out some crafty bass lines which no one ever talks about.

The great thing is this triple vinyl set is LIVE! Yeah you get those silly Stanley raps and Paul’s voice sounds really good whereas Gene sounds a little hoarse but hey man it’s live!

Having Ace and Peter back in the fold helped as well as they were in tip top form as I have to say if I was handing out an MVP award on this album it would go to Criss as there’s something about the Catman’s drumming that cannot be beat. Pete has that cool kind of swing behind the kit that can’t be beat. One word “Black Diamond”

Same with Ace as he has those catchy short burst of solo’s that are filled throughout  this record and of course the Spaceman dials it in with his own original song “Shock Me”.

Perhaps it’s the chemistry between the original four. I dunno but still  this is a great setlist as KISS gives it there all.

Word on the street is that KISS will be releasing another “Off The Soundboard” this upcoming September going back to the 1977 “Love Gun” Tour!

Sign me up!

 

 

Cheap Trick: One On One (1982)

 

From 1977 to 1982 Cheap Trick released some fine records and “One On One” when it dropped into the shops back in early 82 it would be what I would consider Cheap Tricks last decent album until 17 years later when the self titled CT release would restore my faith.

Funny enough though through those lean years that followed “One On One” I still always bought the bands output just hoping it would a classic sounding Cheap Trick record but I always was tricked so to speak.
Yet, “One On One” has a lot of stuff I dig and what I would consider some real good material. Jon Brandt was the new fella on Bass who replaced Pete Comita ( who was in the band for about as long as one’s lunch break) who had replaced Tom Petersson.
Guitarist, sweater and bow tie guy Rick Nielsen slammed out a bunch of tracks (along with a few contributions from vocalist Robin Zander and drummer Bun E. Carlos) and by all intent purposes delivered especially on the first Side of the record where Cheap Trick always excelled on with there brand of hard hitting pop rock.
“I Want You”, “One On One” and especially “Lookin Out For Number 1” deliver that fist to the face quirkiness that I always loved about these guys.
Side 2 for the most part carries on that tradition in the form of “She’s Tight” where Zander delivers a great vocal (than again he always did and still does). While Side 1 is pretty rock solid Side 2 kinda slides a bit as the album goes into a bizarro sense of 80’s synth on some of the tracks like “Saturday At Midnight”, “Loves Got A Hold On Me” and the goofy tilted “I Want Be Man.”
The band does redeem itself on the last track “For Letter Word” which could have easily slid on the second side of the “Dream Police” record.
Even though the band snagged Queen producer Roy Thomas Baker for this one the album only crawled up to #39 on the  Canadian Charts and has never been officially certified here which is a shame as more people who dig CT should check it out.
“One On One” served its purpose and its great to get it on vinyl recently for a decent price which took me back to the mid 80’s when I originally bought this one on cassette tape!
Hit up my pal Snowman who is in the process of finishing up a massive Cheap Trick series where he’s reviewed every CT album along with each song which is amazing as Johnny Snow had to get though albums like “The Doctor” which is impressive. Check out the dude’s fantastic writing below if you are already not following him…

ENVY OF NONE (2022)

 

ENVY OF NONE is a new band that’s debut self titled album is released today(April 8th) on Kscope. An album that I have been waiting to hear myself for almost or just over a year now and I can honestly say it’s a great listen. Before we get any further you need to listen to these songs on headphones or whatever your listening method is. (vinyl, disc or streaming)

Envy Of None are:
Alf Annibalini – Guitar, Keyboards, Programming
Andy Curran – Bass Guitar, Synthesized Bass, Programming, Guitar, Background Vocals, Stylophone
Alex Lifeson- Guitar, Mandola, Banjo, Programming
Maiah Wynne – Lead Vocals, Background Vocals, Keyboards

Now any hard rock/prog music fan in general will know the names Andy Curran and Alex Lifeson. As a fan of both of Andy’s and Alex’s work in there bands Andy with Coney Hatch/Soho 69/Leisureworld and Alex with RUSH. I can honestly say that on the albums 11 tracks this is the furthest thing removed from what I’m so used to hearing from these gents musically over the years.

Change is good and why not? What do they have to prove at this point in time? They have earned that right to forge their own musical path however they see fit.

ENVY OF NONE is that new path that Andy and Alex are going down on that sonic highway with Alf and Maiah.

Envy Of None track listing 
1. Never Said I Love You [04:06]
2. Shadow [03:21]
3. Look Inside [04:44]
4. Liar [03:13]
5. Spy House [02:23]
6. Dog`s Life [04:36]
7. Kabul Blues [03:12]
8. Old Strings [05:15]
9. Dumb [04:19]
10. Enemy[04:16]
11. Western Sunset [02:25]

Each member of the band has brought their own individual sound to this record. Opener ‘Never Said I Love You’ is such a great track and if I was to play record company guy I would make this song a single sooner than later. Maiah Wynne is a phenomenal talent. Her vocals soar throughout the album’s 10 tracks. The one track without vocals ‘Western Sunset’ is a nice little musical piece performed by Alex and is his tribute to his friend Neil Peart.

Maiah is the real deal. Check out her music on the stream sites or follow her on her socials and you will see what I mean. Alf, Andy and Alex have really lucked out finding her and it’s like this album was crafted for her vocals.

I will add that this is a collective band effort. One thing I really like as well as you cannot pigeon hole EON. Many different styles come at you. Synth rock, trippy rock, elements of Pink Floyd. I have to mention the songs are not drawn out as is the case with ‘Spy House’ and ‘Western Sunset’ that clock in at just over two minutes in length each.  As a music fan of the members of EON, it’s been great to finally hear this album in its entirety.

Billy Idol: Rebel Yell (1983)

I enjoy going into a used shop on the hunt for vinyl as when you go in through those doors you don’t know what waits for you in those bins.

“Rebel Yell” is one of those albums I have been on the hunt now for a while and look what I finally scored for $5!

For some reason in Thunder Bay there are always used copies of “Whiplash Smile” (the album that followed the 5 Times Platinum Rebel Yell record here in Canada) yet I can’t wrap my head around the fact that the  Whiplash record has no actual drummer on it!

C’mon Billy what was that about? A friggin drum machine for the whole damn album!

Anyhoo….

“Rebel Yell” in 83 came storming out of the gates thanks to the  albums title track and whoa listen that guitar on track. Stevie Stevens laid down some serious action on the six string not only on this track but the whole album.

Like many I bought this I think it wasn’t until ’84 and I bought it on cassette for the good old  Walkman.

So now in 2022 “Rebel Yell” is now added to my vinyl pile and I’m all the better for it.

I love this record as you have Idol’s sneer and snarl vocals though out and when you have a wizard on the 6 string by the last name of Stevens that is only going to help your cause.

Hey Snowman! Look below Billy signed my back cover while Stevie typed his name! Bahahaha…..

“Eyes Without A Face” is a well crafted tune. I love that eery creepy vibe, almost cold like during the verses until Stevens kicks in with a ton of riffing.

One of my favs from Rebel Yell is” Blue Highway”. Great number and super catchy chorus as Billy brings home the goods on this tune, What is the “Blue Highway?” Smack? If anyone out there knows please fill me in…

“Flesh For Fantasy” has all those trimmings of 80’s technology and as a hard rock/metal fan in ’83 you think I would have scoffed at this kind of track but nope and that’s thanks to the guitar. Loud guitar!

Full props to the sax driven “Catch My Fall” which is another killer track and goes to show you that Punker Billy could drop the attitude and ease of the gas and write catchy hard pop tunes.

As I mentioned this is a great addition to my collection which is way overdue.

Funny as I was typing this I had a flashback to around this time or perhaps ’84 -85 when I was still in highschool and during our lunch break I remember someone had a copy of Circus Magazine with Motley Crue on the cover.

We were talking about how Crue Guitarist Mick Mars looked way older than the other guys in Motley (which was true as Rolling Stone did a story on how old Mick was yet Crue’s management said he was like the other guys ages.)

The discussion became about who would be a good fit for Motley Crue back than and some of the names floated out there was Jake E Lee and Idols right hand man Stevie Stevens.

We weren’t too far off as by 1993 Stevens was brought into to play on Vince Neils solo album….

Gotta love those old high school rock talks!

Scorpions: Rock Believer(2022)

 

Pretty amazing that in the early part of the year known as 2022 The Scorpions have released what I would say is there best album since “Face The Heat” back in ’93!

29 years is a long time and the Scorps have released a bunch of albums of course since then but for some reason I never took the bait on buying anything as like with Judas Priest I love certain era’s of the bands material but not all of it.

Funny thing though is when “Rock Believer” was  announced as a new album I thought well this is interesting.  Apple Music dropped a few tracks so I decided to give it a listen and too be honest with you all, I liked what I heard.

I normally don’t check out pre-release tunes as I don’t want to be swayed if they are not that great and judge the whole album on three or four tracks.

Scorps I took a chance.

It paid off!

Klaus Meine, Rudy Schenker and Matthias Jabs were smart and decided to record with some vintage gear that they were using 40 years ago and have smashed out one fine effort that harkens back to the days of 1982 when “Blackout” was a mega record for me as an 15 year old.

I have to say the first four tracks are absolute gems! “Gas In The Tank” sets the pace of the album and amazing that Klaus still sounds like he did 40 years ago.

“Roots In Boots” could have easily have slid onto Side 1 of “Blackout” or “Love At First Sting” and not have missed a beat. Listen to Jabs zip and zag on that fretboard. Matthias is one very underrated 6 stringer who should get way more attention than he gets as he solo’s like a lunatic on this track and throughout the whole album.

“Knock Em Dead” same thing, a total throwback like vibe as drummer Mikkey Dee and bassist Pawel Maciwoda keep it tight especially during that driving chorus.

The albums title track (“Rock Believer”) sold me on wanting to buy this record. What a great track. A song for the masses which has a chorus that in one word is ear candy.

“Scream for me, screamer
I’m a rock believer like you
Just like you”

Even after the first four numbers, the album does not lose steam and thats the best thing I can say is out of this records 11 tracks there are no skips. “Seventh Son” is the basically 2022’s version of “China White” (from Blackout) as I love that bass and drum stomp.

Scorps also did a fantastic job at putting the ballad right at the end of the record as well. I have to say that “When You Know (Where You Came From)” ends the album on a decent note as I’m always apprehensive about the so called power ballads.

For you hard core folk’s out there is a deluxe version of “Rock Believer” that has an additional 5 songs that are not leftovers but are very good as well!

Pretty cool that Klaus and Company (still going strong in their 70’s) nicked a vibe from there past and have put out what may be one of the best hard rock albums this year has to offer up.

RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS: Blood Sugar Sex Magik (1991)

It was watching MuchMusic back in late ’91 when they showed the video for “Give It Away” that I had to jump onboard  as what a groove the RHCP laid down on this track.

I went out the next day and I bought it on CD.

Fast Forward to October 2020…

My daughter Kylee gave me a gift card to Sunrise Records and when I saw Blood Sex Sugar Magik sitting in the bins I figured it was time to pull the trigger on grabbing it on vinyl.

Spread out over two records this album is wham bam slap you in the head man kind of spin.

17 songs over 73 minutes it’s one massive listen and if anything you get your moneys worth listening to this one.

Rick Rubin twisted the dials so you know the drum sound is going to be mega like the job Rubin did on The Cult’s “Electric” record back in ’87.

You can have the best sonics in the world but you the need the band to show up to lay it down and the Chilli Peppers did just that.

Drummer Chad Smith packs a wallop on the drums and is lock n loaded with Flea on Bass. At times they throw it down like no one’s business on the heavier funked out tracks like the already mentioned “Give It Away”  and the fist to the forehead jam of “Suck My Kiss”.

Singer Anthony Kiedis is a pretty crafty lyricist as this album has a ton of sexual innuendos on it. Combine that with the power of the band and holy smokes no wonder it went to Number 1 in Canada and currently  sits at 4 Times Platinum here.

Guitarist John Frusciante is one fantastic 6 stringer and that he should  be commended for being  a big factor in this band yet people tend to his focus on his personal issues when he bolted from the band on this tour.

The reason I bring this up is the next album that followed with Dave Navarro (“One Red Hot Minute”) missed the mark so that right there tells me that when you take one quarter of talent out of the band and replace them it doesn’t necessarily means it will work.

“Blood Sex Sugar Magik” though kicks out the jams on tunes like “The Greeting Song” and of course “Suck My Kiss” whereas you have the classic tale of drug use in “Under The Bridge” which was a mega hit.

Yet the Peppers could take the gas off the funky jams on tunes like “Breaking The Girl”  and one track that I really like is “Funky Monks” with Flea popping that Bass.

For a reissue there are no credits, band member names or songwriting credits listed but in the end the RHCP’s let the music do the talking!

 

ROCKHEAD: ROCKHEAD (1992)

 

Super duper producer Bob Rock back in’92 released a pretty decent album that he called “Rockhead”.

While Bob was busy producing at the time bands like Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and Metallica, in his downtime he put together a band and viola out came the debut album which ironically was its farewell.

Which is  shame as this record or should I say CD (as that’s what I own it on) is really actually quite good.

13 songs make up this disc and of course Bob brought in some friends to help on some tracks as there are cowrites with Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora ( “House of Cards”) as well as Billy Duffy (“Hell’s Back Door”).

The first four songs that make up Rockhead are stellar tracks that still hold up today.  “Bed of Roses”, “Chelsea Rose”, “Heartland” and “Love Hunter” are such strong tracks that kick the album into a solid gear.

Think old school 70’s Hard Rock with some honky tonk piano tossed in cranked through a Marshall stack.

“Heartland” especially is such a great track. I have always been a sucker for those tunes that start off slow and build and build and then soar once the chorus hits. Steve Jacks has a great voice almost Ian Astbury like in moments. Check out Bob’s solo on the song! What a great friggin rip on the guitar so good that I posted the video below.

But in the music business it’s all about timing and Rockhead unfortunately didn’t have a snowballs chance in hell in selling records in the music climate of 1992 and as I mentioned earlier that this is a one and done album.

Rockhead toured Europe opening for Bon Jovi* but from what I understand Bob realized that record producing was where it was at for him.

A shame really but maybe if this album had dropped say back in’88 and not in ’92 things may have worked out differently.

I know Apple Music here in Canada does not have Rockhead in its catalog but the full album is up on Youtube if interested along with a couple of other videos (“Bed of Roses” and “Chelsea Rose”)

Check it out!

*- I listened to a podcast with Rock the featured guest and he mentioned that he has about 10 songs cowritten with Richie Sambora which should be coming out at some point.  Yes Bob is producing the record and playing it on as well…

 

 

 

Alice Cooper: Detroit Stories (2021)

One of the releases that I really enjoyed about a year ago streaming was Coop when he dropped “Detroit Stories” smack dab in the middle of a pandemic.

I preordered “Detroit Stories” well before it came out but after it was released it took Amazon forever to get it so I cancelled the preorder.

Recently I started listening to it again and just as how I dug it back in early 2021 I decided to look for it again and Amazon had it for a decent price so I pounced and ordered it on vinyl.

Detroit as you know is where Alice Cooper is from and along with his right hand man, producer Bob Ezrin they put together a very garage rock sounding record which is absolutely brilliant.

This record tells the tale about keeping the rock simple and direct. Coop even got his old bandmates from their 70s heyday to play on certain tracks. Basically a whose who from Alice’s past is featured along with even Joe Bonamassa (who plays on opening Lou Reed written kick ass track  “Rock And Roll” and also on the Coop penned “Drunk And In Love”)

Even cooler is Larry Mullen Jr as he did on Alice’s last album shows up and slams some drums on “Shut Up And Rock”.

Alice’s old bandmates show up as well as the MC5. All Rock, All Detroit.

I love this album as its stripped down. No polish amongst the tracks as Ezrin kept the sonics  simple.

Detroit Stories is 15 songs spread out over two albums filled with down n dirty rock. Amazing that the Coop is still pushing out product as he just turned 74 and he’s currently working on two more rock albums slated for release sooner than later.

Coop and Company did a great job on the packaging as well. Double vinyl, lyrics, credits and of course it all in comes in a gatefold sleeve!

Detroit Stories is a must own if you are a fan of stripped down garage sounding rock. I must also thank my pal, fellow blogger Jeff Japp from Cali who told me this album has to be played on 45 rpm!

 

 

Aerosmith: Aerosmith- Aerosmith(2013 Reissue)

Another score from Resolute Records (Toronto)…

A few months ago when RSD dropped, Boston’s finest that being Aerosmith dug into the archives and released “The Road Starts Hear” which is an amazing listen as you get Aero figuring tunes out back in ’71 as some of the tracks would eventually appear on the major label self titled debut a few years later in ’73.

Speaking of the debut…

Once “The Road Starts Hear” arrived and was added to my collection  I quickly realized that I had a bunch of  Aerosmith’s music on vinyl from ’74s “Get Your Wings” through to ’87’s “Permanent Vacation”.

The one omission was the debut on vinyl. I originally purchased it on CD back in the late 80s to fill out the collection but here in 2022 I needed to add it on vinyl.

So I did.

When listening it to it you can hear Steven Tyler in his young formative state singing in a different register figuring it out vocally before he became the Demon of Screaming.

Speaking of Tyler he basically wrote the whole album himself as there is a cover tune (“Walking The Dog”) as well as the first Tyler/ Joe Perry composition in the form of “Movin’ Out.”

Some pretty classic tunes on here of course those being “Mama Kin” and “Dream On” which are still staples in the live show to this day.

Perhaps my favourite tune on here is “One Way Street”. Love the whole vibe of this track and it features Aero just jamming out at the end before Steven climbs back in (after some sizzling harmonica playing) and takes the song back to that killer chorus.

A pretty decent effort and if you know the Aero story this album didn’t really set the charts on fire but instead was a slow burner in regards to sales (eventually going double platinum).

Glad to be finally adding this one into the pile of Aero vinyl!