Released: 2002, Various
This is the second is an occasional series that our editor was kind enough to endorse. You can find Part I in January’s 2002 reviews. For convenience sake I have repeated the intro to this feature. Enjoy!
There is a whole giant world of melodic hard rock/metal out there and this month I’m going to take a few minutes to touch on a few bands. I would venture to guess there are as many new melodic hard rock/metal bands out there as the number of fantasy, classic power metal bands currently producing material…meaning dozens and dozens!
As metal has evolved many people no longer consider these types of bands to be “metal”. Is Motley Crue metal? In 1984 people would say, “Yes”. Today, maybe not as many would agree. Many of us cut our teeth on Quiet Riot and Motley Crue in the early 80’s. What happened to those bands that once reigned supreme on the stage, in videos and in the stores? As with many successful movements, they become a trend and then big business usually tried to capture the lucrative potential of that trend. Business dilutes or even ruins a good thing, by saturating the market with sub-standard crap. It happened to glam, hardrock/metal in the early 90’s. Does anyone remember Bad Romance from ‘91 (Polygram), Kiss of the Gypsy from ‘92 (Atlantic) or Blackfish from ‘93 (Epic)? Maybe, but I doubt it. My point being there were dozens of sub-standard imitators that saturated a genre and ultimately contributed to it’s demise.
However, as many of these bands left the mainstream, commercial, limelight they lost a place in public consciousness. That did not mean they were all dead and gone, far from it! There are many survivors of the glam massacre in the early 90’s and a crop of new young bands is out there. Definitions and history lessons aside, there are many bands out there creating good music and I felt they should get a little exposure in this heavy music climate.
Perris Records has been waving the flag of melodic hard rock and metal for almost 10 years now and they were nice enough to keep us up to date on the happenings of some of their artists, some active some not. Note: These CD’s came without covers or packaging, but I’m sure the real deal will have the same quality that Perris has provided over the years. I checked out the web site for some details and you can too at http://www.perridrecords.com.
Part II of this feature has a heavy emphasis on rarities!
Important caution: I did grade these CD’s but keep in mind the style. I will tell you upfront that I enjoy this kind of music. Our regular readers and die-hard true metal fans may want to downgrade these reviews accordingly. Alternately, if you are like me and have a history with these bands and a nostalgic soft spot for Melodic rock/metal you may want to crank that rating up a notch! I don’t usually give higher ratings for “Best of’s” and “Live’s” so use your own judgment accordingly!
VARIOUS ARTISTS- BON APPETITE-A Tribute To Bon Scott
July 2002 | Released: Summer 2002 |
Label: Perris | Rating: 3.5/5 | Reviewer: JP
AC/DC fans rejoice! This is a very cool tribute. I have a hard time rating this tribute CD. On one hand the renditions were for the most part…well… quite dull. However, on the other hand the caliber of performances is very strong and the stars involved on this CD reads like a “who’s who” of melodic hard rock/metal. Despite my misgivings about some virtually carbon copy renditions of songs I have heard a hundred-million times before, I gave this a pretty decent mark because compared to some of the really lame tributes out there this one is superior. Keep in mind three things when reading my high grade. Have you have embraced the concept of Tribute CD’s or not, do you love old AC/DC and finally do you enjoy classic melodic hard rock? Well, I do.
Only featuring Bon Scott tunes tied in with a clever title was a good first move. The all-star cast was a second good move. We have members from Dangerous Toys, Britny Fox, Ted Nugent, Cherry Street, Every Mother’s Nightmare, Hard Knox and Mad Margritt. Rick Ruhl of EMN provides lead vocals on three tracks and a nice bonus is a rare version of “It’s a Long Way…”
with Dave Evans, the original AC/DC vocalist! How cool is that? Very! It was nice to hear Tommy Paris voice again on lead-off track “Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation”.
Ten tracks and minutes make a nice little compact Tribute CD and only the lack of innovation and alternate ideas within the cover tunes stop me from giving this a better endorsement.
DAVE EVANS - A Hell of a Night
July 2002 | Released: Summer 2002 |
Label: Perris | Rating: 3.5/5 | Reviewer: JP
AC/DC fans rejoice…again! Perris provides us with another AC/DC related release. Who the hell is Dave Evans? He was the original AC/DC vocalist. This is a very neat live recording of the Bon Scott 20th Anniversary Memorial concert held in Australia.
Like the AC/DC Tribute, I’m torn. Is this a cash-grab, lame label ploy or cool rarity and collectible for the fans? I mean, Bon Scott? C’mon. He was in the band for about 8 years! What about Brian Johnson, the real voice of AC/DC, has been in the band for over 20 years. This whole Bon Scott worship I don’t get. Despite being a critic and cynic of most record labels, I’m going with my gut on this one and would suggest that because Perris has established a reputation of providing cool hard-to-find material, I think this comes across as sincere and most importantly fun!
Dave puts on a great show, it sounds intimate and bluesy. His gravelly voice fits the material nicely and he has lots of crowd interaction. His performance felt warm and sincere and he did not seem to be trying to cash in on the fact that he was there first. It really felt like a small, boisterous tribute show with friends and that vibe was captured very nicely on this disc. The performances are tight and fun but let’s not kid ourselves, this is AC/DC not Dream Theater. All in all the Cd makes you feel like you were at this sweaty club gig hoisting a pint or three in honour of Mr. Scott. For collectors and AC/DC fans in general this is a cool Live CD of a once in a lifetime show dedicated to a rock legend.
HARD KNOX-Combat Alley
July 2002 | Released: Summer 2002
Label: Perris | Rating: 3/5 | Reviewer: JP
Re-issue time! Perris doing what they do best, keeping the spirit of kick ass, glammy, rock’n’roll alive and kickin’! In all honesty Hard Knox, really never made it very big or very far, despite there being no logical reason why they didn’t make it bigger. Unless you are a big fan of very underground 80’s melodic rock/metal, you probably would not want to touch this with a ten-foot pole. However, it is very cool to see this re-issue as a testament to a band that could have, should have but never did.
Their 1985 debut vinyl only, seven song EP has been re-released with five bonus demo tracks. What I found very cool is that the bonus tracks unlike many others are not just the demo versions of the same songs on the main discs. So in reality, with the exception of a little drop in production values in the last five songs we have a cool twelve song, 41 minute disc.
These guys are from Knoxville, Tennessee hence the clever band name but the title COMBAT ALLEY” is pretty lame. Maybe I’m too harsh but I remember the magazine Shotgun Alley, the band Smash L.A., the Faster Pussycat song “Smash Alley” and that is just off the top of my head from 15 years ago! However, for 1985, it is was acceptable and therefore forgivable today.
Musically, I had to keep remaining myself that this was recorded in 1985 and that I was listening to a rare treasure in glam’s long and illustrious history (betcha didn’t think you ever read that sentence!) If this had come out today, I would have not even bothered. Which is maybe why they never made it back then into the big leagues. The songs are well recorded, fun, party rock anthems, well done in every respect but lacking that certain something. The hard-to-describe element, maybe it is enthusiasm, passion, balls I don’t know but the songs came across as flat as did the drumming. The vocals were quite decent especially on “Mark of the Rocker” and the guitar work was competent but the solos were slightly less than adequate. The songs could have benefited from some more edge, speed, dynamics, frantic rock craziness, call it what you want but this doesn’t stand up to bands like Kix, for example. Similar in many respects but Kix had that edge that maybe Hard Knox never quite captured. I figured these guys would be much better live if they cranked it up a notch or three. For collectors and enthusiasts this is a cool find, for everyone else, they are other glam acts worth your dollar.
PRETTY BOY FLOYD - The Vault
July 2002 | Released: Summer 2002 |
Label: Perris | Rating: 2.5/5 | Reviewer: JP
This is starting to look like the band is milking a good thing for all it is worth or maybe stalling for time. This is the third Pretty Boy Floyd CD put out in a row that is not new studio material. PORN STARS was their debut re-recorded, the Live CD was just that and now THE VAULT a collection of rarities and such. When are we gonna get a new full length studio CD?
For longtime fans this is a very cool comp. It has 18 demos six from the second album and a tune called “48 Hours” from the Karate Kid Soundtrack. For casual fans you may not be interested in demo’s from songs that are now almost 14 years old. The quality of the demos is surprisingly good although the promo copy only has five of the tracks.
Not too much more I can say about this one, as it is self-explanatory. If you are a big long -time fan, this is awesome and you should get it. It keeps the band name alive and has everything you could want so bump the rating up a couple of points. If not, I’d go with the EP or maybe the live album first.
NASTY IDOLS - Best of
JULY 2002 | Released: Summer 2002 |
Label: Perris | Rating: 2 /5 | Reviewer: JP
This is kinda lame. A very simple 14 track compilation with the title, “The Best of”. Is that the “best” they come up with for a title in 2002? Gimme a break! This looks and smells like a contractual obligation CD. It has zero tracks from the first album, half of the entire second album second and five from the third and three from the fourth. That means there is no rare cuts, no unreleased songs, no demo’s and no live material. Nothin’! There is absolutely no incentive for fans to buy this. Plus there are mistakes in the listings of the song titles.
Some could comment that this “best of” is a good way to re-introduce the band to newer fans and maybe Perris just secured the rights to the catalogue for North America. However, I don’t buy it. If someone wants to support the band, the collectors can track down the original pressings, the Black Mark re-issues or the latest re-issues with the bonus tracks. This “Best of’ is a waste of everyone’s time and money.
If you are scratching your head and asking, “Who the HELL are Nasty Idols?” Well, they are a 90’s glam / hard rock act out of Sweden that put out 4 CD’s (’89, ’91, ’93 and ’95) The last was recorded in ’95 but came out in ‘97 I believe. Great band! I’ve read comparisons to such bands as Hanoi Rocks, (old) Shotgun Messiah, Danger Danger and Nasty Idols are a really good band. They were high caliber, high energy, and high (or is that low?) class. It’s too bad they broke up. This CD is for people who just want to have some representation of the band in their collection without the hassle of E-bay, imports, re-issues etc. and really haven’t followed the band. That’s OK, but Perris KNOWS they are already servicing a very dedicated, niche market, preaching to the converted as it were. So what’s the point? It is not like the limited distribution of an uninspired compilation will convert many fans. Well, the final saving grace is that the tunes are deadly kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll! So buy it, give it a spin, and then go buy all their other four worthwhile releases then give this to some mallcore kid or your little sister.