AC/DC – Back in Black (1980)

There are a lot of amazing things about this total definition of heavy metal as we know it, but one of the most amazing things about this album is that it was released only five months after Bon Scott died. And no, he didn’t die when the album was in the can, only to have it released by greedy record execs looking to make a buck. I mean the band actually had the balls, momentum, and determination to hire Brian Johnson to take the front slot, and then record one of the best heavy metal albums ever. In five fucking months. Most bands these days take five months to buy the outfits they wear on the pictures in the liner notes. It just took me five months to move a one-bedroom
apartment full of stuff across town. These guys laid town probably the most solid guitar-oriented 41:31 to be recorded ever in the same amount of time. Continue reading

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David Lee Roth – No Holds Bar-B-Que (video)

Back in 2002, David Lee Roth came up with the idea to make a feature-length collage of music video and reality-type surreal TV, and spent about a million dollars of his own money doing it. The video went out to all of the big names in the music and TV industry, with the hopes that, on the heels of The Osbournes, Dave would get some sort of new reincarnation of Dave TV, but with more money. Instead, the people in the industry all simultaneously thought “what the fuck is this guy smoking?” and passed on the idea. There was talk of a DVD, maybe sold only from his web site, but nothing happened. Continue reading

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Queensryche – Take Cover (2007)

There are a few different reasons a group would record an album of cover tunes. Bands just out of the gate might not have enough original material written, and need to fall back on the classics to come up with a CD’s worth of tunes. Other bands feel a need to “pay tribute” and record their own interpretations of their influences’ hit tunes. Some might want to do something weird. And others are looking for a quick way to make a buck, or, even better, get out of an album’s worth of obligation to a record deal. (See also the main reason live albums are recorded.) So which of these reasons best describe why Queensryche went into the studio and laid down eleven cover tunes for this album? Good question.
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Rush – Caress of Steel (1975)

Okay, before I start, I remembered this tiny bit of trivia, and it took me forever on google to confirm it, so I better just paste it in. This album, in the original LP form, had a bunch of city names under the names of each track. Turns out that the album was written on the road, and those are the names of the cities where that specific song was hashed out. I only find this interesting because a couple of these were written just down the road from where I grew up, in South Bend, Indiana. Here’s the full list, since this has been long-since deleted on CD reissues, as far as I know: Continue reading

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Van Halen – 1984 (1984)

I must have been 12 at the time, going on 13, when the video for “Jump” came out. I didn’t listen to much “heavy” music, but I spent at least ten hours a week glued to this new thing called MTV, and I thought that Van Halen was in the same league as Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Madness, Cyndi Lauper, and all of the other stuff in constant circulation on the new-fangled music video channel. But I secretly longed for heavier music, and I’d seen the live video for the band’s earlier song, “Unchained”, so I knew there was something more than just Eddie playing keyboards. I have to admit that I bought the single for “Jump” on 45 because I saw the video and fell for it. I picked up the single, which came out right before the album’s January 1 release date, and had to hide it from my friend Jim’s mom, because it depicted an angel smoking on the cover, and she was a Jesus freak that regularly searched his room like a warden at a prison, confiscating his Dungeons and Dragons gear and burning whatever music the 700 Club told her to ash-can. Continue reading

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Rush – Rush (1974)

Every band has to start somewhere. What’s amazing about Rush, after listening to their self-titled first release, is that it’s so far removed from their later core releases, and they went through such a giant transformation by their second album. If you take their second or third album and remove the monster-solo prog-rock geekfests and the Tolkein-meets-Ayn Rand lyrics, you still aren’t anywhere near this one. It’s a miracle this obscure band, scraping by on a self-released album, even got the chance at a second one. Continue reading

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Queensryche – Queensryche (1983)

Every band has to start somewhere. For prog-rockers Queensryche, they begin with a very NWOBHM-styled four-song EP. And it wasn’t even the same band initially – they were known as The Mob then, and Geoff Tate was enlisted to sign on the project, prior to him taking the full-time role as a frontman. The band recorded this release primarily as a demo, in a series of graveyard shift recording sessions at a local studio. They shopped it around with no avail, but when Kim and Diana Harris, owners of a Seattle record store, got a listen, they formed 206 records (206 being Seattle’s area code), managed the group, changed the band’s name, and released the demo as an EP in 1983. It got a huge following in Europe (thanks to Kerrang! magazine), and by the end of the year, the band signed on with EMI records and became a national act. Continue reading

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Chris Poland – Return to Metalopolis (1990)

Some metalheads may remember guitarist Chris Poland as one of the original guitarists in the band Megadeth. He appeared on their first two albums before getting fired by Dave Mustaine for his excessive drug use. (And you know if your drug use is excessive compared to a mid-1980s Dave Mustaine, you’ve got some serious problems.) After getting clean, he did a brief stint as bassist in the Circle Jerks, and then came back to metal and did this solo album. He’s since done more work in the Jazz-fusion-y direction with his band Ohm. Continue reading

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