The Metal Files

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Posts Tagged ‘my life with

My Life With Lizzy Borden

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“Hello suckers!” = Lizzy Borden

The first time I had seen or heard of Lizzy Borden was from a little photo and small article in Circus Magazine.  It was a cool shot of the band in black and white standing on the roof of a building and Lizzy had a big axe proppoed on his toe.  Would love to find that photo somewhere.

I think I first heard them on one of the old Metal Blade Records compilations but it wasn’t really until 1986 that I got into them via a former friend from high school.  I remember going to his house and he had the Give ‘Em The Axe EP on vinyl.  I was hooked.  In subsequent years we all got into Love You To Pieces and the Muderess Metal Roadshow thanks to the VHS they put out,  Good times!  That former friend from high school and I did Give “em The Axe for our junior year air band contest.  I think we won because everyone else was a bit scared.

Sure Lizzy and the band always looked a bit silly and even more so now, but they’ve never really done a bad record.  I finally got to see them play at the NORVA in Norfolk, VA back in 2004 opening for Yngwie, not long before their guitarist, Alex Nelson, was killed in a car wreck.  He was a killer player.  They were all very cool folks.   I couldn’t believe they didn’t play Give ‘Em the Axe though!  I felt cheated!

So, here’s the review that you’ve so anxiously been waiting for.

Give ‘Em The Axe EP – 1984

This was a cool EP.  The title tracks rules.  No Time to Lose and Kiss of Death are cool.  I never liked their cover of Long Live Rock and Roll (Rainbow).  7/10

Love You To Pieces – 1985

Oh man.  This album rules.  There’s not a bad track on it but the highlights ae Warfare, American Metal, Rod of Iron and Red Rum.  I listened to this tape so much.  No telling how many copies I went through over the years.  10/10

Menace To Society – 1986

Another fantastic record by Lizzy Borden but it suffered severely from poor production.  It was very tinny and I don’t really know that a bass was used on it.  I’m one of the few Lizzy fans who actually thinks this one is as good as the previews album.  My faves are Notorious, Ursa Minor and Love Kills.  10/10

Terror Rising EP – 1987

Ugh.  This really was a bit of a waste of petroleum based materials.  Catch Your Death was a cool tune but the cover version of the Tubes’ Don’t Touch Me There with Betsy from Bitch, the title track and the god awful cover of White Rabbit makes me with I could get my $5.98 back from the Music Man.  2/10

Visual Lies – 1987

Another Lizzy album that I love but it’s a lot different than their previous albums.  It’s a little more polished in production terms and a little more palatable for the MTV crowd.  They had a video for Me Against the World and the song was featured in the terrible movie Black Roses.  I dig the album though.  There are some really great tracks like Lord of the Flies, Shock Treatment, the title track and Eyes of a Stranger.  Worthwhile listening for sure.  By the way, this featured Joe Holmes on guitar who was in Ozzy for a brief time.  9/10

Master of Disguise – 1989

This is where started losing me a bit.  While it’s not a bad album, it was missing something.  I could never put my finger on it.  I think that this was supposed a solo album by Lizzy…allegedly.  I haven’t listened to this one in years and years.  I won’t anytime soon!  1/10

Deal With the Devil – 2000

This was a good comeback album for the guys.  I like this one a lot and still spin it a few times a year.  There Will Be Blood Tonight is a good track.  Their cover of Alice Cooper’s Generation Landslide was pretty decent too.  I really dig Zanzibar and The World Is Mine.  7/10

Appointment With Death – 2007

I haven’t listened to this one since it came out but I don’t remember it striking me like the previous album did.  Can’t really even name any songs off of it…so there you go.  0/10

So, as it stands, I always recommend Love You to Pieces, Menace to Society and Visual Lies to everyone.

My Life With Mercyful Fate

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I got into Mercyful Fate after my introduction to King Diamond’s solo work, Abigail specifically. His voice took some getting used to but coupled with the brilliant guitar work by Denner and Shermann, I grew to love them. As most know, Mercyful Fate flaunted the whole Satan worship thing. While that sort of thing never really bothered me, there are a few tracks of theirs here and there that still give me the willies.
Melissa – 1983
What a haunting album. The production is pretty thin but this album is absolutely incredible. The weakest track is Satan’s Fall and only because it’s a tad too lengthy. The title track is so very dark and just oozes evil. My favorites are definitely the title track, Curse of the Pharaohs and Black Funeral.

Don’t Break the Oath – 1984
Easily one of the most evil album covers ever…at least to me. To be honest, I keep the CD cover facing inwards. Yes, I know, silly. But whatever. This album has some better production than Melissa and while the songs are very strong on this one, I generally still listen to the debut first. Standout tracks are certainly Come To the Sabbath, Welcome Princes of Hell (album was misprinted to read Princess of Hell), Night of the Unborn and Desecration of Souls. Gypsy sort of annoys me and The Oath still creeps me out. Mission accomplished, King!

In the Shadows – 1993
This was a reunion album of sorts sans Kim Ruzz on drums. While I like this album a lot, I rarely listen to it. Egypt is a badass tune. There are no real stinkers in the bunch but the new version of Return of the Vampire annoys me, mainly because I detest Lars Ulrich (who played on this track) so much.

Time – 1994
Enter Sharlee D’Angelo and Snowy Shaw on bass and drums, respectively. Sharlee is a Ric player and even though I wasn’t a Ric fan at the time, I remember him using one on the tour. It was a great show and I got to hang out with Sharlee and Snowy before and after the show. I like this album a tad better than In the Shadows. I love Snowy’s drum style. Nightmare Be Thy Name is a great tune and was the opening video I played when I had my own little local cable access metal show in 98 or 99. One of the ladies I worked with at the time saw the show (late nights) and confronted me at work with, “Are you a Satanist?” I replied with “I don’t know, Marianne, do YOU think I am?” I let off an evil laugh and walked away. She didn’t speak to me again for the new few years she worked there. Hilarious.

Into the Unknown – 1996
Ugh. This album just wasn’t necessary. It’s boring. Under The Spell and Holy Water are pretty decent, but in general the album is weak.

Dead again – 1998
I’m glad I was working for Metal Blade Records at the time because I got this one for free as a promo. Mike Wead (Candlemass, Hexenhaus, memento Mori etc) was brought on to replace Michael Denner. I really don’t remember much of the album if any at all.

9 – 1999
This album was a little bit better than Dead Again. I can certainly hear Wead’s guitar influence much more which is a good thing. I saw this tour at the 930 Club in DC with nevermore opening. It was a fun show and I got to spend some time with Mike Wead before and after. Great guy, badass guitarist. Last Rites, Sold My Soul and Kiss the demon are my faves.

Written by The Metal Files

June 20, 2009 at 4:41 pm

My Life With The Scorpions

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Like most people around my age, I first heard the Scorpions with the song No One Like You as it was a radio staple in 1982. I thought it was a cool song but it didn’t spark my interest enough to delve further. Then Love at First Sting came out and EVERYONE owned it. White cassette in the standard tan Polygram tape case. Helz yeah. Lots o’ memories thinking about that. I subsequently bought World Wide Live and Savage Amusement but still didn’t go back in time with them.

If you read my Thin Lizzy post, you saw that I acquired a friend’s LP collection around 1997/1998. In that same collection were all of the pre-Love at First Sting LPs. I owned a record player at the time and started spinning. Wow. WOW. So here goes the review.

Lonesome Crow – 1972
I really dig this album. It’s dark, moody and all around weird. Lots of jazz stuff going on. Some of the songs drone on a little long but it’s a really strong debut. There are some great promo vids on YouTube from this album.

Fly to the Rainbow – 1974
Enter God…erm, I mean Ulrich Jon “Uli” Roth. This album is a complete 180 degree turn from Lonesome crow. They got upbeat and the goofy lyrics are abound. I love it! Highlights include They Need a Million, Drifting Sun and This is My Song, but there’s not a bad song on here at all.

In Trance – 1975
It blows my mind that this album is 33 years old. Uli’s guitar work really shines and their use of the double guitar is great. This is probably my favorite album of theirs. Not a stinker in the bunch. Have I mentioned how badass Uli Roth is yet? Super nice guy, too. Met him a few years ago @ Jaxx and he was super cool. I got to help load in his vintage gear. When he saw me rolling a cabinet he said, “Do you work for me now, too?” I told him that his tour manager asked for some extra hands so I offered to help. I then asked him if these cabs were the same ones he used with the Scorpions. “Definitely!” he said with a smile. I bent down and wrapped my arms around the cab and he said, “Vas zis you are doing now?” I replied with, “Uli, I’m just hugging history, man.” He laughed and thanked me for my help.

Virgin Killer – 1977
OK…WTF is with that album cover? Beyond that, this is about another flawless album with the insane guitar work from Roth. Don’t get me wrong, Rudy is a badass in his own right, but he’s no Uli. Neither is Michael Schenker. That’s right, I said it. Polar Nights, Pictured Life, Catch Your Train. The only let down would be Hellcat. Uli really should not ever be given a microphone. NEVER. Just play your strat, homie. Did you see the movie called Stoned Age? There’s a quote in there where someone says “Dude, she looks like the girl from the Virgin Killer album.” WRONG Poindexter. They should have said the In Trance cover, but fewer people would have even gotten that reference.

Taken By Force – 1978
Things started changing for the Scorps around this time. Their popularity in Germany and Japan had made them celebrities. It’s a good thing to be successful, but I think their music started suffering for it a bit. This is a fine album, but not up to snuff of the previous 2. I guess the only real stinker is He’s a Woman – She’s a Man (also covered by Helstar). I never dug this track. Steamrock Fever is a bit goofy too. Then you hear We’ll Burn the Sky and Sails of Charon and all goofiness is forgiven. Uli. Damn. Go ahead, son.

Lovedrive – 1979
Uli! Come back! Why hast thou forsaken us? So Matthias Jabs, eh? OK, so he was and wasn’t in the band at the time since they wanted to bring Mikey back. He lasted 3 months on tour *cough* alcoholic*cough*. In general, this is a very good album, but very different than the Uli era. Gone are the classical licks and some of the space rock tones. Enter the happy sing-a-long era. Like I said, this album is excellent for what it is, just a bit of a shock. Not a stinker in the bunch.

Animal Magnetism – 1980
This is a bit of an odd record for me. I never really liked it although the LP cover is badass. “Take that bitch!” haha. I really only like 3 songs…Falling in Love, Lady Starlight and The Zoo. I see a trend though…POWER BALLADS. Damn.

Blackout – 1982
Helz yeah. This album is badass. Funny they wrote a song called Arizona and now they live there. In case you live under a rock, Don Dokken originally recorded the vocal tracks to this album while Klaus was getting surgery done on his vocal chords or something. I’d give up all 3 of my testicles to hear his versions.

Love at First Sting – 1984
What a year for metal. 1984. Lots of good stuff. This is a really strong album and I like it front to back. It’s sort of a let down to know that Jimmy Bain played bass on the whole damned thing, but it makes sense. I think Bucholz is a lot better than Bain and always thought that the basslines on this LP were pretty weak. It all makes sense now.
9.5/10, only because it was overkilled on the radio for so long and the sing-a-long-ness.

Savage Amusement – 1988
I think I am one of the few who really likes this album. I was excited when it came out and played it incessantly for months. Lots of great songs such as Believe in Love, Love on the Run, Every Minute Every Day…the whole damned thing really.

Crazy World – 1990
Besides Send Me an Angel, I detest this album. I did see this tour, however, and they were phenomenal live.

I really didn’t bother with anything else after this but saw them again in 1999 and they were awesome. They played “We’ll Burn The Sky”! I almost shit myself. 3/4 of the crowd were clueless tot he song.

I’ll see them again given the chance as they always put on a great show. I do prefer the Uli era over the Matthias era, but both are really good.

Written by The Metal Files

December 30, 2008 at 1:36 pm

My Life With Thin Lizzy

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As far as being a fan of a band, especially an older band like Thin Lizzy, I am a relative newbie. In 1997 one of the consultants that I worked with (now a good friend) gave me his record collection which consisted of German pressings of UFO, MSG, Scorpions, Van Halen and Thin Lizzy to name the main ones. He told me to sell what I didn’t want and pay him for that and keep anything else that I wanted to keep for myself. Of course everything went except for the Thin Lizzy stuff.

Now, let’s back up another decade or so. I remember being at Daniel’s (Cathedral71) house and he had Renegade on cassette. He played Angel of Death from that album for me and I thought it was pretty cool but never gave them any attention until I acquired that record collection 10 years later. One of the LPs he had was a compilation called Lizzy Killers. Like most people who had ever owned a radio, I was familiar with The Boys are Back in Town and Jailbreak, both of which were on the LP, but I had never heard Whiskey in the Jar or Wild One or pretty much anything else by them. So I started playing the other LPs more and more.

I cam remember when Z-Rock had its local affiliate and they used to play Cold Sweat just about every day and I always thought it was a cool song, but it still didn’t make me want to learn more about them. After spinning those LPs of Kraig’s for a few months, I was hooked. Such a talented, versatile band.

Here’s how their discography breaks down for me:

Thin Lizzy – 1971
Lots of blues and jazz influences on this one. Definitely not one of my faves but the standout tracks are Honesty Is No Excuse and Look What the Wind Blew In. Lizzy was a 3 piece band in this era and Eric Bell’s playing just never did it for me.

Shades of a Blue Orphange – 1972
I like this album even less than the debut. It just seemed like a very uncomfortable record. I rarely listen to it. Call the Police is about the only song I can say that I love on this one.

Vagabonds of the Western World – 1973
This is the album that seemed to be a turning point for the band. They started to heavy up a bit. This also includes Whiskey in the Jar (later bastardized by Metallica). Lots of really good songs on here; Little Girl In Bloom, The Rocker, A Song for While I’m Away, Black Boys On the Corner. Thankfully for Lizzy, this was Eric Bell’s last album with them.

Night Life – 1974
Exit Bell, Enter Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham. I’ve always considered this album a bit sultry. It’s got it’s bluesy overtones with songs like Still In Love With You, Showdown and Night Life. It’s a soft album but probably in my top 3 of their catalogue.

Fighting – 1975
Now they are beginning to rock it out. I still find it odd that they chose a Bob Seger cover (Rosalie) to open an LP with but it proved successful for them over the years. Lots of great songs with stunning guitar work like Wild One, Fighting My Way Back and Suicide. They also keep it diverse with mellow songs like For Those Who Love To Live and Spirit Slips Away. Gorham and Robertson are a perfect fit.

Jailbreak – 1976
Yep. Two huge hits from this one: Boys Are Back In Town and Jailbreak. Those are two songs I could live without for sure. But there are some other fine gems on here like Emerald, Romeo and the Lonely Girl, Running Back, Cowboy Song and Warriors. Damn fine album that was really their only lasting effort in the States.

Johnny the Fox – 1976
This one was written while Lynott was recovering from hepatitis and is recorded a half step down from standard tuning. When writing it, he said the lower tuning helped him sing while he was laid up. Lots of great songs on here and this is one of my faves by them. Borderline (possibly my fave Lizzy song ever), Don’t Believe a Word, Old Flame, Fool’s Gold, Massacre and pretty much the whole album are worth putting ears to.

Bad Reputation – 1977
Another favorite of mine and loaded with great songs like the title track, That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart, Dear Lord and Dancing In the Moonlight.

Black Rose – 1979
Definitely not one of my favorites by them and I don’t really know why. Robertson left the band and Gary Moore filled in on this one. The only 4 songs I like are S&M, Got To Give It Up, With Love and Waiting for an Alibi. The rest just doesn’t do it for me.

Chinatown – 1980
Each album of Lizzy’s follows a good progression of getting heavier and it was well-known that Phil liked metal. Gary left the band and Snowy White came in. He never looked like he fit but he was a fine player. Lots of great songs on here including the title track (great dual guitar stuff), We Will Be Strong, Didn’t I, Sugar Blues and Hey You. Phil seemed to write a lot about his personal life and his drug use came up in his songs over and over. This was a rough time in the band as both Phil and Scott were hooked to the gills on smack.

Renegade – 1982
This is a hard rock classic. Angel of Death, Hollywood, Mexican Blood, Leave This Town, Renegade…I love this album except for the song Fats. I just never felt that it fit but it did show some fancy bass playing by Phil and it sounds like he’s playing a fretless on it. All that being said, I love it.

Thunder and Lightning – 1983
Exit Snowy White, enter John Sykes. Lizzy entered the metal era. The title track, Holy War, Cold Sweat. Damn! This album is perfect and I really wish they would have stayed together to do one more. Even though it’s not heavy, The Sun Goes Down is definitely a standout track and another one where you can hear Phil pour some of his heart out in the vocals.

Unfortunately, they didn’t do well stateside and even more unfortunate is that they are basically known here by one album and 2 to 3 songs. One this that is kind of nice is to see how many bands from that era and later cite Lizzy as an influence. Phil’s songwriting abilities are certainly highly regarded in the music business and it’s easy to see why.

Thanks Kraig.  Thanks Phil.

Written by The Metal Files

December 28, 2008 at 9:48 pm

My Life With Yngwie Malmsteen

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I first heard this guy when Rising Force came out in 1984. After hearing this and reading stuff in Metal Edge and Circus magazines, I picked up Steeler and the first Alcatrazz as fast as I could. My friends and I were amazed at what this guy was able to do on guitar. It was mind-numbing and no one else at the time could hang with him. To date, I still consider Yngwie as my favorite player ever and believe he is one of the best ever living or dead.

So on with the show…

Rising Force – 1984
This album has a perfect mix of instrumentals and vocal songs. Jeff Scott Soto is such a powerful singer and was just a perfect fit for this style of music. There is not a stinker in the bunch.

Marching Out – 1985
Holy hell. As noted in the Scorpions review, the first 3 Yngwie’s also had the cream colored Polydor/Polygram tape cases. I’m one of the few, it seems, that likes this album over Rising Force. Mainly because of the addition of more vocal songs, not to mention the addition of Anders Johansson. This is one of those albums that I play over and over anytime it hits the CD player. I was never a fan of I Am A Viking but it doesn’t detract from the rating I’m gonna give this one. It’s a perfect album.

Trilogy – 1986
Mark who? When I first heard it, I hated it. I hated it for years and years. The thin production, Boals’ wimpy vocals. Yeah, the solos and riffs were there, the production and vocals really killed it for me. I think I went about 10-15 years without listening to this and finally bought it on CD a few years ago. I was blown away by it. I still don’t think it’s as good as Marching Out, but it’s damned good overall. Dark Ages is probably the weakest track on it (Viking pt 2 anyone?). I saw this tour when he opened for Triumph and got a really nice surprise when Soto came out instead of Boals. It was a great night. Jens Johansson is a deity.

Odyssey – 1988
Ahhhhh…I was finishing up my senior year in high school when this came out. I had read in the mags that Joe Lynn Turner was doing the vocals and was excited about it…afterall, Bent Out of Shape is my fave Rainbow album. So I see the first video before I heard the album…Heaven Tonight. D’oh. Dude. C’mon. OK, I understand trying to write the hits for MTV and radio, but this was a bit too cheese for me. Over the years I have grown to appreciate it, but it’s still wimpy. I’m not a fan of the instrumentals on this one and generally skip them but songs like Riot in the Dungeons, Dreaming, Faster than the Speed of Light, Crystal Ball etc. Great stuff even though his style lightened up quite a bit. I also saw this tour with Lita Ford opening up. Another great night.

Eclipse – 1990
Exit the Johansson Brothers. Damn! Enter horrible production and some pretty weak songs. Enter the upswing of Yngwie’s cocaine habit. I think with better production these songs would have been a bit better. Goran Edman’s vocals were really really thin as well. I do like Motherless Child, Judas, Demon Driver and What Do You Want. The rest was just average stuff.

Fire and Ice – 1992
WTF? The only song I can recall off the top of my head is Teaser. [PUKE]. I saw this tour as well and what a letdown. The bass, keyboards, rhythm guitars and all main and backing vocals were prerecorded. I kid you not. I was sort of crushed to see my favorite guitarist resort to such tactics. He was getting pretty hefty at this point too. I think he may have finished 2 bottles of wine while on stage. It was just awful.

The Seventh Sign – 1994
Enter Mike Vescera. I was completely excited to see him in Yngwie’s band because I am a HUGE Obsession fan. Well, I was let down a bit when I hear the album. The whole thing seemed to be written out of Mike’s range and he sounded strained through the whole thing. Never Die and Pyramid of Cheops are the highlights for me. I also saw this tour and got to the venue early to hopefully meet Mike (and possibly Yngwie). I knocked on the bus door and the tour manager said, before I could say anything, “Yngwie’s not seeing fans.” I said, “Cool, I’m here to see Vescera anyway.” After listening to the manager say that Mike was busy blah blah blah I saw him on the bus and just started shouting “Obsession! Scarred for Life! Marshall Law!” Mike came to the front quickly, moved the manager out of the way and hung outside with me for about a half hour. He freaked out when he saw my Obsession and Loudness vinyl and freaked out more when I told him about seeing Obsession back in the 80s. (Long story behind that one that I knw he’d remember…and he did!). Good times. Weak album.

Magnum Opus – 1995
Ugh, dude…Vengeance and Fire in the Sky are the only tracks that I can listen to. Mike sounded terrible (again).

Facing the Animal – 1997
Holy crap, Yng. Four in a row? I really wanted to hear this one because Cozy Powell drummed on it, but it couldn’t help it. Crappy production and poor songwriting killed it.

Concerto Suite – 1998
OK…for years I wanted Yngwie to release an acoustic classical album and I guess this is as close as I was going to get to hearing that. It’s pretty good overall, but I would have preferred him playing on a nylon stringed guitar along with the symphony.

Alchemy -1999
Re-enter Mark Boals. When I heard he was coming back, I was not amused at all. Then I bought the CD. Damn. DAMN! This album kicks my ass every time I hear it. For me it was a return to classic form for Yngwie. It’s a long one at 70+ minutes, but it’s great. Mark Boals sounds incredible when he has decent production backing him up. Highly recommended.

War to End All Wars – 2000
Bore to End All Bores. Not even Boals could help this one. Another let down. I wanted to like this one but it just didn’t happen. I did see the tour with Lizzy Borden opening up. Met Yngwie at a meet and greet that day and he was a jerkoff.
1/10 for Prophet of Doom.

Attack!! – 2002

Unleash the Fury – 2005
Surprisingly, this is a really good album. Doogie White’s vocals are really strong and the album is pretty consistent, just a bit too long. I also saw this tour. The day he rolled into town, he and his drummer came into the record store that I worked Sundays in. Yngwie freaked out at all of the Blackmore stuff we had on DVD and bought all of it. He invited me to sound check and of course I accepted. I got to hang out with him quite a bit that day and was blown away by how nice he was. The whole band was cool. His tour manager was a douchebag though. After the show he thanked me and the store owner a dozen times for the DVDs and for making his “return to Virginia” a better experience than last time…not sure what happened last time.

Perpetual Flame – 2008
This album has terrible production although I do hear some licks from Yngwie that I have either never heard from him or haven’t heard him do in a long time. Owens’ vocals are so enhanced that it’s almost painful to listen to. While there are a few catchy tunes, this album falls flat. Yngwie, get Tsangerides to produce your next one. He made Alchemy sound brilliant!

I think I may have seen Yngwie live one or 2 other times…it all gets a tad hazy.

Written by The Metal Files

December 27, 2008 at 12:02 pm