So #19 on Eugene’s list was a totally new listen for me. I’d never heard of Malmsteem before, and don’t ask me how to pronounce his first name, but the Wikipedia page had me intrigued because it was all about how this guy’s skill with the guitar. I do love me some good guitar solos.
So here’s my take. Yep, the guy can play. Nope, I’m not a big fan of listening to 40 minutes straight of his riffs. He definitely has a classical music influence, and there are some parts that can only be described as soaring – hell, there are organs! – but I don’t care how good someone is on the guitar, it gets old after a while. It kind of comes across as one long ego trip.
Let’s end on a positive: there’s no denying this guy’s talent, and I think if you break it up and put individual songs on a playlist that’s buffered by other, more lyrical music, it would be a more enjoyable listening experience.
Soooo, it’s been more than a little while since I’ve done a Eugeology post. Life got busy and, well, shit happens. So here I am about 15 listens behind Tim, and a few less than that behind Eugene. Hopefully, I’ll catch up to them before the year is done.
Eugene’s pick for #18 comes from a band that anyone my age has heard, but if you’re like me you might not have realized they recorded more than two songs. Okay, maybe that’s just me, but until I listened to this album if you’d asked me to name a Foghat tune I’d have said Fool for the City (first song on this album) and Slow Ride (last song on this album). Obviously, they recorded more than that, but I’ll be damned if I knew what they were.
This album only has six songs, and as I mentioned before I’d heard two of them many times before. I’m a fan of both, and the live versions from this concert recorded in May, 1977 are both very strong. Of the four songs in between I probably like “Honey Hush” best, but it’s followed closely by “I Just Want to Make Love to You”.
Total play time for the album is about 38 minutes, so it’s an easy listen if you just want to check it out. If you’re a fan of bluesy rock then I definitely recommend listening; if not then you wouldn’t be missing a lot if you skipped it. Or you could just listen to the beginning and the end and you’d get the best they have to offer.
After last week’s weirdness, this choice from Eugene was a welcome return to more standard ’80s hairband rock. Lots of guitar riffs, soaring lead vocals punctuated with backing vocals on the refrains – yep, that’s our ’80s hairband sound and we’re going to stick with it. And with a name like King Kobra, what else would you expect?
If we were using a 5 point scale I’d give these guys a solid 2.5. Didn’t love it, but it was about average. The lyrics and lead vocals were a little strained and more than a little than over the top at some points, but given the genre and the era, I don’t think you can hold that against them.
Of the ten tracks, I liked Shadow Rider and Dancing With Desire best, mainly because Mark Free’s vocals were, comparatively, more restrained and didn’t draw as much attention to themselves as on the other tracks. They also had less of the glam-band feel and fit what I’d consider a more traditional hard rock mold. Overall, the album wasn’t bad but it did have the feel of a debut, which it was.
Long story short – it wouldn’t hurt you to listen, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
Update: Just read Tim’s take and he is going to disagree with my review wholeheartedly, and I’m pretty sure Eugene will too. The trend I’m noticing is that they enjoy the hallmark features of 80s hairbands more than I do. I agree with Tim that the guitar play is strong without being over the top – I should have mentioned that in my initial review – and that Free’s got a helluva voice. I just don’t think the style is in my wheelhouse.
This is a review I struggled with because I just don’t know that I have the music-review chops to adequately describe what I think of this album, so let’s just make it simple: this album is weird. Why? Well, it just is. It doesn’t sound like other stuff I’ve heard from Alice Cooper, and it doesn’t really fit neatly any genre with which I’m familiar.
Just because it’s weird, though, doesn’t mean it’s bad. There are definitely some tracks I thought were kind of fun like You Want It, You Got It, You Look Good in Rags and Don’t Talk Old to Me, but I swear I couldn’t give you a single example of anything that it’s similar to in my experience. Hell, if I didn’t have the album’s Wikipedia page to reference I couldn’t even tell you the 5-year timeframe in which it was recorded. The year was 1981, by the way, and I challenge you to listen to it and say it really sounds like anything else coming out at that time.
Hate to be a broken record (insert pun groan here), but it’s just plain weird. I think I’ve decided I don’t overly like it, but I can’t really say I didn’t like it. I just don’t know what to do with it, or what to tell you about it, so give it a listen yourself and see what you think.
From the opening note of the first song, I felt like I was sitting in my bedroom as a middle schooler rejoicing to the tunes emanating from my newly-acquired clock (FM!) radio. What I’m about to write might make Eugene and Tim vomit, or at least scratch their heads and say “Whaaaat?”, but my first impression was that I was hearing a long-lost Styx album. That didn’t last all the way through the album, but it was an early impression.
My comparison to Styx probably has something to do with the feel of this one. It just reeks of the late ’70s rock/pop smell – airier guitar riffs than what would follow in the ’80s and a very “happy music” tempo. The notable exception is the last track, Johnny All Alone, which is a seven minute, melodic and somber tune. Of course, it’s the one I liked the most.
Have to say that if you’re not a fan of ’70s pop-rock you’re not going to like this album, but if you are then this is a great choice. I’d never heard a single track from the album (that I can remember) and I enjoyed it enough that I gave it an extra listen. And as I mentioned I think Johnny All Alone truly leaves you with a good aftertaste (afterhear?) when you’re done.
In a stunning change of direction, Eugene picked a band and album with which I’m more than a little familiar. Aerosmith’s Pump has several songs that anyone around in the late 80s or early 90s would have heard on their favorite FM station or blasting from the tape deck while tooling around in their buddy’s ’83 Toyota, including Love in an Elevator, F.I.N.E., Janie’s Got a Gun, What it Takes and The Other Side.
So yeah, I’d heard every one of these tracks at some point in my hazy past – a first for any of Eugene’s selections – and so I wasn’t expecting to learn a whole lot when I sat down to listen. Of course, I was wrong.
I was wrong because I forgot that I’ve never really before done what I’m doing with Eugene’s list: I’m reading about the band and the album as I listen. Because I haven’t spent any time around the music business, whether it be working at a record store, a radio station, bar or concert venue, I’ve never really spent any time learning what goes into the making of an album or getting it released. So what did I learn? Well…
They didn’t include lyrics in the album booklet because they were worried that the Parents Music Resource Center (remember those tools?) would protest the sex and drug references in the lyrics. Go figure.
F.I.N.E. is an acronym for “Fucked Up, Insecure, Neurotic, and Emotional”
“So enough with the history lesson,” you’re saying. “How’d you like it?” you’re wondering. Well, I’ve always liked this album, but even for someone who doesn’t mind hearing a 40-song rotation over and over at the store, many of these tunes were overplayed. Janie’s Got a Gun was a song, that by the end of 1990, I thought I never wanted to hear again. Since it’s been a while since I’d heard any of the tracks from the album (except for What it Takes) I found myself enjoying them all again, and I also rediscovered some deeper tracks that I’d forgotten about and really liked – Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man being the best example.
All in all, this is a great album and I recommend it for anyone who likes some good old fashioned hard rock with a tinge of blues.
What rock was I living under that kept me from discovering this album before now? There’s much to like, not the least of which is that there’s a healthy strain of blues laced throughout. That said, it’s not the kind of blues influence that has me thinking, “Okay, that riff was cool the first twelve times but enough’s enough.” Rather it’s the kind of blues influence that injects a bit of lightness to balance out the “rockier” cuts.
I was nodding my head when I read this because one of my first thoughts, when I started listening, was, “These guys remind me a lot of Queens of the Stone Age” and that’s a good thing because Queens is one of my favorite bands from that era.
Honestly, I loved this album. The variety from track to track, Chris Goss’s vocals, the backing vocals, Tim Harrington’s lead guitar…I just loved all of it. Now, if you’re one of those folks who just can’t stand the blues in any way, you’ll probably disagree with me wholeheartedly.
I’m REAL interested in Tim’s take on this one because I just don’t know how he’s gonna react. He’s not a fan of southern rock, and any blues-influenced rock will have a taste of that, but this is truly bluesy so I suspect it grew on him as he listened. As always I’m interested in Eugene’s backstory for this one and I’m pretty sure this one is a true favorite of his.