Tag Archives: eugene sims

Eugeology #9 – The Cult’s Electric

I am WAAAAY behind on my Eugeology posts, but that’s the price I pay for, well, living. You see my (much) better half and I recently celebrated our 25th anniversary and all the related planning, traveling and other such really put a dent in my free time. So, I’m going to be listening to a bunch of bands and posting my vapid and uninformed thoughts about them over the next few days.

This week’s band is one of my favorites from the late 80s and early 90s, The Cult and the album is Electric. The first time I heard them was also the first time I saw them; it was a performance on a late show (I don’t remember which one) and I was entranced by singer Ian Astbury. The combination of his stage presence and his incredibly distinctive voice was something to behold, and I thought it definitely set them apart from the rest of the crowd at the time.

I’m much more familiar Sonic Temple, which was the album they produced after Electric, but there were a few tracks on this I recognized. Love Removal Machine is probably the song the average schmo like me would have heard, but I’d also heard Wild Flower and their cover of Born to Be Wild (not a great cover BTW).

What I’ve always loved about The Cult is that you always know it when you hear them. As I’ve already said Astbury is one of the most distinctive singers around, but I’d also say that Billy Duffy on guitar has a pretty recognizable style, although some of his solos fall prey to the <insert solo here> arrangement. In other words they feel a little gratuitous.

This is a solid album, but if I had to pick I’d go for Sonic Temple as their better album. If you’re looking for a little harder edge, old school rockin’ then this is definitely worth your time, but if your time is limited then go with the later album.

Links & Notes

Electric Wikipedia Page

The Cult Wikipedia Page

Eugene’s Take at Wheeler’s Dog

Tim’s Take at Useless Things Need Love Too

Eugeology #8 – April Wine’s Harder Faster

Apparently Tim and Eugene were flabbergasted by my dislike of last week’s selection. Hell, I thought I was being nice by not even mentioning the ridiculous band name, but whatever Enuff was definitely not enough. Or maybe it was too much.

This week’s selection is the exact opposite of last week’s: great band name and a great album.

What’s not to love? Great vocals throughout – their background vocals are outstanding – and lots of really good guitar play from beginning to end. And there’s no feel to any of them, which is what I described in last week’s review as “gratuitous solos.” Everything just fits. Oh, and I particularly enjoyed the bass on 21st Century Schizoid Man. As the kids say these days, that *&it was tight.

I’m no expert, but to my amateur ears these guys are just a really, well, tight band. The album clocks in at around 32 minutes, so there’s no wasted motion in any of these tracks. Short, full of hooks, and as I mentioned before the vocals and guitars are just fantastic.

Eugene keeps picking albums like this one and I’ll be a very happy man.

Links & Notes

Harder Faster Wikipedia Page

April Wine Wikipedia Page

Eugene’s Take at Wheeler’s Dog

Tim’s Take at Useless Things Need Love Too

Eugeology #6 & 7 – Black Star Rider’s All Hell Breaks Loose, Enuff Z’Nuff’s Strength

Life got in the way last week so I wasn’t able to post #6 on time and now I’m playing catch up, thus the double post today. It’s gonna be short and sweet for both so here goes:

#6 Black Star Rider’s All Hell Breaks Loose

Until Eugene sent us the link to this one I’d never heard Black Star Rider and that’s a damn shame. To put it as simply as possible, these guys are bad-ass. Their style is right in my wheelhouse – guitar solos that aren’t overbearing, great bass, vocals that sound like the result of a life lived and lyrics that actually tell a story. Really, just a lot to love about this album. In fact if you asked me to provide an example of the hard rock “sound” I like I’d point you to this album.

The band is made up of some Thin Lizzy alumni, and you can definitely hear it, but to be honest I like this better than I ever remember liking any Thin Lizzy stuff. It’s been a while so I think I’m going to have to go back and listen to the old stuff to see what my new ears think.

Links & Notes

Wikipedia page for All Hell Breaks Loose

Tim’s take

Eugene’s take

#7 Enuff Z’nuff’s Strength

I think I need to just write a macro that automatically inserts “The selection this week from Eugene is another one I’ve never heard before” at the beginning of these posts because I think it will probably be true 99% of the time. That’s great for me because it means I’m being exposed to all kinds of new stuff, and I think it’s good for the project because Tim and Eugene never know what they’re going to get from me.

For this one what they’re going to get from me is my first true thumbs down. If I’d heard the first track, Heaven or Hell, on its own I’d have seen no reason to listen to another tune from these guys. It’s a pretty good representation of two things I don’t like about some hard rock: gratuitous guitar solos and vocals that seem strained or even a little whiny. As I worked my way through the album I definitely found some tracks I liked better than others, Strength among them, but none really hit home with me.

Honestly I had to work on this one. If Black Star Rider was in my wheelhouse, this one was somewhere below deck, although not in the bilge. Not one of the tracks had me thinking, “Man that was awesome, I can’t wait to hear what’s next.” It might sound simplistic, but I really think it just comes down to not liking their style and that was exemplified by my reaction to their first track. It’s not like they’re bad – I can see why Eugene has them on his list – it’s just their sound/style isn’t for me.

Links & Notes

Enuff Z’nuff – Strength Wikipedia Page

Wheeler’s Dog (Eugene’s Blog)

Useless Things Need Love Too (Tim’s Blog)

Eugeology #5 – Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe

 

This week’s selection from Eugene, Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe, was a lot of fun. Unlike last week’s selection I had actually heard a couple of the tracks before, but much of the album was new to me and listening to it as a body of work really reveals how thematic it is. To help explain what I mean by that let’s start with the first paragraph from the Wikipedia page about the the album:

Hellbilly Deluxe (released with the subtitle 13 Tales of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside the Spookshow International) is the solo debut studio album by American musician and filmmaker Rob Zombie. The album serves as his first release outside out the band White Zombie, with whom he released two multi-platinum studio albums. Hellbilly Deluxe was released on August 25, 1998 through Geffen Records.[5] Musically, the project portrays Zombie’s love for classic horror films with heavy metal and electronic music. The album’s lyrics speak of murder, chaos, and supernatural forces. The majority of Hellbilly Deluxe was recorded in California, and was produced by both Zombie and Scott Humphrey; Zombie is credited as the sole writer on all of the songs.

 

Listen to any of the thirteen tracks individually and you’ll get a taste of the “horror films with heavy metal” thing, but you really have to listen to the whole album to appreciate his true love of the horror genre.  For instance the eleventh track, What Lurks on Channel X?, starts with a very 60’s TV horror show sound to it, and the twelfth track, Return of the Phantom Stranger, opens with the haunting, low sound of church bells. The album truly is an ode to the horror genre, so if you embrace that you can truly enjoy it for what it is.

Of the 13 tracks the two that are surely the most widely known – they have to be if I’ve heard them before – are Dragula and Living Dead Girl. Both are representative of the rest of the album’s tone, and I’d say there’s a good reason those are the best known tracks. To me they do the best job of highlighting Zombie’s unique style and have the strongest musicianship (is that a word?) on the album. I also liked Spookshow Baby because it has this funky sitar sound, and Meet the Creeper, which reminded me a bit of Living Dead Girl.

I’ll end with this: of Eugene’s five selections so far I’d say this is the one that really demands to be listened to as a full album. It’s truly thematic, and the whole is definitely greater than the sum of its parts.

Links & Notes

Hellbilly Deluxe Wikipedia Page

Wheeler’s Dog (Eugene’s Blog)

Useless Things Need Love Too (Tim’s Blog)

Eugeology #4 – Kick Axe’s Vices

 

Eugene’s fourth choice offers me the first opportunity to say this: I’m 99.9% positive that I’d never heard any of these songs before he sent us the link to this album. I knew I’d never heard of the band, but after listening to the album I realized I’d also never heard any of the tunes. Go figure.

So, here’s my take on these guys:

Their sound is what I’d consider prototypical 80’s hard rock. Heavy focus on the lead vocals (lots of what I think of as soaring, “let me show off my range” kind of singing), a bunch of guitar solos and strong bass and drums without a real focus on them.

What sets these guys apart is their backing vocals. Every member of the band sings so the backing vocals definitely come through more strongly than most bands – the harmony is what I’d consider their greatest strength.

Lead singer George Criston truly does have a strong voice, and what seems like a pretty good range to me. He’s kind of “screamy” sometimes, but I think that’s what was expected of singers in that era so it’s as it should be.

Guitarists Larry Gillstrom and Raymond Harvey, who are both credited with lead and rhythm guitar, offer some very strong solos and their interplay is tight – at least to my amateur ears. And as I mentioned before, I think bass (Victor Langen) and drums (Brian Gillstrom) were good but they really aren’t featured much.

All told I enjoyed the album, but of the four so far it’s probably #3 and I suspect it will end up in the middle of the pack of Eugene’s 50 for me.

Links & Notes

Vices Wikipedia Page

Wheeler’s Dog (Eugene’s Blog)

Useless Things Need Love Too (Tim’s Blog)

Eugeology #3 – Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Nuthin’ Fancy

For week three Eugene picked an album I’m much more familiar with than his choices for the first two installments. Lynyrd Skynyrd got some heavy play in my circle of friends, especially during middle school. In fact one of my buddies had a big ol’ boom box – I think that thing took 10 D cell batteries – that he would bring to the basketball court in our neighborhood and we’d listen to a steady rotation of Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Kiss and plenty of others I’m forgetting. So I have a soft spot for Skynyrd and for southern rock in general. (I’m looking forward to Tim’s comments because I’m pretty sure he feels the exact opposite about the genre).

To be clear, what was played was a mix of Skynyrd’s greatest hits that contained all the songs you’d expect: Freebird, Simple Man, Sweet Home Alabama, That Smell, Don’t Ask Me No Questions and Saturday Night Special. Of those staples the only one on this album is Saturday Night Special, so going back and listening to the full album was a fun experience because I doubt I listened to all these tracks more than a few times even back in my not-misspent-nearly-enough youth.

Now I can’t say I liked all of these tracks back then. I didn’t really enjoy the long, bluesy riffs that were staples of the southern rock scene. I much preferred the harder, fast style of songs like Saturday Night Special, which actually were bluesy when compared to the hard non-southern rock of that era, just not too bluesy. My 50-year old ears DO enjoy the deeper blues sound, so I’m really glad Eugene picked this one.

Something that needs to be said about this exercise is that it’s reminding me of the pleasure inherent to listening to a full album. In my younger days I don’t think I had a full appreciation for the artistry involved in producing an album. The choices made in song order, the progression of the “story,” is something I never paid attention to but now in the era of endless DIY playlists and streaming “stations” based on artists I’m gaining a newfound appreciation for listening to an album that as a whole is greater than its parts.

Nuthin’ Fancy is a great listen, and one that works well with a leisurely drive or while working around the house. Hell, I even had it playing at the office one day when I was working a little late. Yep, this one’s getting added to my collection – a collection that’s growing for the first time in a while thanks to this exercise.

Links & Notes

Nuthin’ Fancy Wikipedia Page
Wheeler’s Dog (Eugene’s Blog)
Useless Things Need Love Too (Tim’s Blog)