Archive for January 25, 2009

Review: Reel Big Fish – Fame, Fortune And Fornication [2009]

Posted in Reel Big Fish with tags , on January 25, 2009 by gearsofrock

amazon-reel-big-fishSo-Cal ska band Reel Big Fish covers Glam Metal and Rock classics on their latest offering FAME FORTUNE AND FORNICATION. The album opens and closes with two Poison covers “Nothing But A Good Time and “Talk Dirty To Me” respectively which serves as a lame gimmick. Also featured are ska versions of Quiet Riot’s “Mama We’re All Crazy Now,” Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” and John Mellencamp’s “The Authority Song.”

Here is the track-by-track rundown:

“Nothing But A Good Time” begins with the horns acting as C.C. Deville’s guitars while the guitarist performs the typical clean ska upstrokes. It is a fun idea, however it is now an outdated one—1996 has come and gone.

“Mama We’re All Crazy Now” sounds like a high school punk band performance with its adolescent members jumping around an auditorium stage at the school talent show.

“Veronica Sawyer” is a reference to a character in the great 80’s movie Heathers, but the original song was done by fellow ska band Edna’s Goldfish which was released in 1999? How that fits into the album’s concept is beyond me.

“Authority Song” is faster paced and heavier than the original by John Mellencamp and one of the better tracks on the record.

“Brown Eyed Girl” uses the horns for the main guitar riff while the guitarist plays, you guessed it, the ska upstrokes. This version could serve as a good college happy hour jukebox tune but that is really the only positive use it exudes.

“The Long Run” is an Eagles cover that works pretty well as a ska song, if boredom is your main hobby.

“Won’t Back Down” sounds exactly how you might imagine a ska band performing it. Pearl Jam’s live version is clearly more exciting.

“Keep A Cool Head” is a Desmond Dekker cover that pays tribute to the reggae and ska legend which is really who the band should focus on honoring.

“Monkey Man” is a cover of the Toots and the Maytals, also ska legends, therefore appropriate.

“Talk Dirty To Me” refreshingly opens with an acoustic guitar playing the main riff rather than the horns. Tatiana DeMaria of British punk rock band TAT shares the lead vocals with Aaron Barrett. This is the best song on the record but still a minor league inclusion.

The song selection for this album is really awful. If you want to hear most of these tracks done in this style simply hit up your local mainstream bar that has a cover band. The Dekker and Maytals covers are the only tracks that seem appropriate for this record because they stay in tune with their genre. I actually feel bad for Reel Big Fish because I have always considered Turn The Radio Off to be a somewhat important Ska record, Fame certainly is not. D+

Reel Big Fish are Aaron Barrett [Vocals/Guitar], John Christianson [Trumpet], Derek Gibbs [Bass], Scott Klopfenstein [Trumpet/Vocals], Dan Regan [Trombone], and Ryland Steen [Drums].


Review: Heavy Metal Box – Disc 3 [2007]

Posted in Heavy Metal Box with tags on January 25, 2009 by gearsofrock

amazon-heavy-metal2If you ever wanted a true audio history of Heavy Metal music then you might want to consider the Heavy Metal Box released by Rhino Records. The set contains 4 CDs in a neat box shaped as a Marshall head with knobs that go to “11.”

The first disc of the compilation covered the heavy blues of the late 60’s and 70’s, the second disc consisted of an intro to the early 80’s with the N.W.O.B.H.M. as its focal point, and disc three continues the journey with a mid 80’s glam orgy and a little thrash thrown in towards the end. Here is the complete track listing of disc 3:

  1. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” The Scorpions (Definitely the most popular Scorpions track but those of you that are down with these hard rocking Germans know that there are better tunes.)
  2. “Metal Health” Quiet Riot (A classic head banging track recently resurrected by The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke. This tune served as the main character’s ring entrance music.)
  3. “Into The Fire” Dokken (Great shredding by George Lynch.)
  4. “Balls To The Wall” Accept (“The Accept Dilemma” can be defined by the following comment, upon hearing the opening on the radio: “I love AC/DC, turn it up man.”)
  5. “Round And Round” Ratt (I think Darren Aronofsky’s soundtrack man simply looked to this box to pick The Wrestler’s music.)
  6. “I Wanna Rock” Twisted Sister (This year marks the 25th anniversary of Stay Hungry so TS is planning a world tour with the original stage design and costumes. I can’t wait.)
  7. “The Boulevard of Broken Dreams” Hanoi Rocks (Honestly, I am not sure why this track popped up on this compilation but I am feeling Vince Neil had something to do with it.)
  8. “Big Bottom” Spinal Tap (The Spinal Tap Heavy Metal mocumentary is just as important to the genre as any band from the Sunset Strip.)
  9. “Midnite Maniac” Krokus (An often underappreciated band and track. This song features a titillating video for those of you that enjoy 80’s strippers.)
  10. “I’ll See The Light Tonight” Yngwie J. Malmsteen’s Rising Force (This was the first Yngwie tune I ever heard and it is still one of my favorites, however I never grew obsessed with his guitar virtuosity.)
  11. “Crazy Nights” Loudness (How did this one squeek its way into the box?)
  12. “Shake Me” Cinderella (Great track! I would have been cool with “Gypsy Road” as well.)
  13. “Watch The Children Pray” Metal Church (Believe it or not, MC is still making solid records. Check out their latest album This Present Wasteland)
  14. “Too Hell With The Devil” Stryper (This song and band still makes me chuckle. Fly bumble bee, fly!)
  15. “A Little Time” Helloween (Combining Satan’s home with many Metal fans’ favorite holiday: GENIUS. No, actually it is silly and juvenile.)
  16. “Wrecking Crew” Overkill (The last Overkill superfan I bumped into, had one tooth, a beard down to his belly button, and hadn’t showered in 7-10 business days…cool!)
  17. “Caught In A Mosh” Anthrax (I was in the first grade when my neighbor first brought the I’m The Man EP over, and I have loved thrash ever since.)
  18. “Peace Sells” Megadeth (Simply amazing…Dave Mustaine is still a monster of thrash metal even though he wept like a megababy in Some Kind of Monster.)

So far the major weaknesses of the box continue to be the lack of Ozzy’s Black Sabbath and AC/DC, however I consider those two bands to be on a completely different and much higher level; some can argue that it would be a disgrace to include them on a compilation set because this concept is beneath these bands. On the other end, the Heavy Metal Box is incomplete without them. Additionally, I wonder if Nikki Sixx was thinking the same thing of Mötley Crüe when the box set was prepared. 9/10

Buy the Heavy Metal Box (Rhino Records)

Review: Deicide – Till Death Do Us Part [2008]

Posted in Deicide, SOS Metal Update with tags on January 25, 2009 by gearsofrock

amazon-deicideGlen Benton and company return with another brutal blast of blasphemy on TILL DEATH DO US PART, the Florida squad’s latest installment of  malicious metal. This 10-track offering picks up where THE STENCH OF REDEMPTION left off, with the guitar tandem of Ralph Santolla and Jack Owens returning to shred their way to Satan and back with unforeseen imminence. “Horror in the Halls of Stone” takes the non-linear Nile-esque approach to death metal while “Not As Long As We Both Shall Live” contains some of the most hate-filled and personal  lyrics Benton has ever spat out. The road taken by this controversial band has always been intriguing, and this album yields no exception, showcasing the group’s returning to old school form with blistering drumbeats, gruesome growls, and fearsome fretwork all in tow. -Mike SOS

Review: The Unstoppable Death Machines – Self Titled EP [2008]

Posted in SOS Metal Update, Unstoppable Death Machines with tags , , on January 25, 2009 by gearsofrock

amazon-unstoppNYC hipster noise rockers The Unstoppable Death Machines take the listener on a robotic rock ‘n roll joyride on their eponymous four-track affair. Distorted guitars meet dance rock rhythms with a slew of industrial overtones with a strangely constructed pop sense is the style this trio employs on cuts like “Body Bop” and the body-moving “Not So Ninja,” opting many times throughout the duration of this EP to replace traditional sounds with electronic blips and bleeps with walls of feedback to give off the vibe of being  locked inside the dark realm of a video game as a pervasive post-grunge rock point of view propels their version of the Williamsburg world tour. -Mike SOS