Sunday, 26 March 2017

Sgt. Pepper's lonely hearts club band - The Beatles (Album review).

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely hearts club band - The Beatles (album review)

year - 1967
genre - rock, pop, art-rock, psychedelic

Image result for sgt peppers lonely heart clubSgt Pepper is the 8th album released by the world's most famous band, The Beatles. the album acts as the first of the Beatles more artistic effort compared to the straight forward pop-rock elements of before, this is because it acted as the first Beatles record to be made after the band's 1966 decision to permanently stop touring; this decision allowed the band to explore using new instruments, knowing they'd not have to play the tracks live.

produced by George Martin in Abbey road studios this album has a grand sound that could only be produced from the best quality equipment and producer, and Sgt. Pepper has that, with every track feeling richly unique.

The unique and massive sound from this album is why it seems to connect so well with its audience, being oddly weird yet emotional, creating a juxtaposition is tone that is easy to get lost in and with the albums concept, any listener can get immersed in the story, which adds to the enjoyment of this colossus of an album.

An album needs a strong opening track and The Beatles hit the bull's-eye with a title track, that is oddly heavy with distortion and Lennon's almost shouted vocals. from this point on the album does not fall in quality at all, despite its constant change in styles, The Beatles accomplish this feat in a way no other band has or could.

Lennon truly shines on this album, with his incredible vocals, guitar playing and writing style that was ahead of its time. As always the Lennon-McCartney writing duo works well, album closer "a day in the life" being a great example of the duo at a peak. McCartney, while vocally not as good Lennon, certainly shows off his writing abilities (writing the excellent opening track), McCartney's bass playing is also great, adding a smooth bass-y "thud" to each track. Starr, often left without a compliment, has his usual simplistic drumming but truly shines through on the track he wrote, "with a little help from my friends", which is a highlight on this already great album. George Harrison shows off his guitar playing even more, which is often ignored and on "within you Without you" the listener is given an Indian style tone with beautifully played sitar, played and written by Harrison, the true unsung hero of the world's most popular band.

Sgt Pepper acts a shift in style for The Beatles that truly cemented them as the artistic geniuses they are known as, if they had stuck to their bubble-gum pop-rock style of before, the Beatles would not be the band that is praised so highly today (to clarify, I love the pop-rock style just as much as the art-rock style). Sgt Pepper did not only change the way people saw The Beatles but changed music forever, showing that boundaries can be pushed and that oddness can be a multi platinum mainstream album for the masses to enjoy. Truly a piece of musical and cultural history, Sgt Pepper is a masterpiece.

10/10

best tracks - "Sgt pepper's lonely hearts club band", "Lucy in the sky with diamonds", "with a little help from my friends", "64".

for fans of - Music.

by D.A. Clarke.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Dr Feelgood - Motley Crue (Album review)

Dr Feelgood - Motley Crue (Album review)
year - 1989Image result for dr feelgood album
genre - hard rock, glam metal, heavy metal

Dr Feelgood is Motley Crue's 5th album in their discography and easily their most famous, being the high point, the peak, of their career both commercially and critically. this album marks the last album of what is considered the "classic crue" or golden age of the Crue's music.

Feelgood was produced by Bob Rock, famous for his expansive list of artists he's produced for (including metal legends Metallica and rock legends Aerosmith), this reputation has made him somewhat of a legend among producers and music fans alike and on this album, it is unbelievably clear that Rock did the Production as unsurprisingly this album's production quality is very high.

musically this album is easily Motley Crue's best, being heavier than all their albums before (shown on tracks such as "Kickstart my heart" and "Dr Feelgood") breaking the band away from their purely glam rock related image. Feelgood also has incredible ballads, "without you" and "time for change" being not only two of Motley's best songs but also two of the best ballads from the era. if you can believe it, this album takes the notorious sex. drugs and rock n roll lyrics of previous releases and pushes it up to 11, "Same ol' situation" being a great example, being heavy in sound and filled with undertones referencing lesbians/lesbian sex.

As always Mick Mars does an amazing job on the guitar, being quicker and heavier than ever before, the riffs also being so much more unique and original than ever before. Tommy Lee's drumming is better than ever too, being slightly more technical than any of his previous work. Vince Neil's vocals are at their peak with his iconic flamboyant tone and delivery yet on Feelgood it feels grittier and rougher, an improvement in my opinion. While Nikki Sixx is rarely complimented for his bass work it is apparent on this album that Sixx knuckled down and wrote some heavy and interesting, albeit on the simplistic side, bass lines and obviously Sixx's lyrics are at their peak of quality on this album.

Their is little wrong with this album, if anything at all, being so catchy and heavy that it is almost irresistible to any fan of hard rock, the album even won over thrash metal fans (known for their hatred of glam metal). Dr Feelgood marks the highest point in Crue's career, being their best selling, highest rated and receiving the highest amount of praise from fans. Dr Feelgood is more than a late eighties glam metal record, it is the sound of a band working at full force with new talents never shown on previous releases in the band's career. Dr Feelgood rivals Appetite for Destruction in being known as the best hard rock album of the 1980s and with good reason, this is an album that pleases fans and also is a great opener for any new fan (as it was for me at one point, it being my first crue record I ever heard).

if you enjoy heavy distorted guitars, sexually fuelled lyrics, the odd ballad and rock n roll, this is the album for you.

10/10

Best tracks - "Don't go away mad (just go away)", "time change", "kickstart my heart", "Same ol' situation (S.O.S)".

For fans of - Guns n roses, Aerosmith, RATT, Twisted Sister, Cinderella.
By D.A. Clarke

Monday, 20 March 2017

Bachman & Turner - self title (album review)

Bachman & Turner - self titled (album review)

year - 2010

Genre - Hard rock, blues rock

Bachman & Turner is the musical project that followed the break up of Bachman - Turner Overdrive, a Canadian rock band that had relative success in the 1970/80's. I have no experience with the original band or any of their music, so my judgement does not get affected by the quality of this project when compared to the original band.

Before I get into the review I'll give some background as to how I came across this album, my mate had a few copies of it on vinyl and gave me one (still in the original plastic wrapper) and said I could have it as the record is "shit" and he already has a few copies (why? I don't know), so I went into this album with very low expectations....

However I was very surprised, opening with lead single " Rollin' along" I was treated to a classic rock song with the typical 4/4 drums, thudding bass and screeching electric guitars, as well as some great vocals from Fred Turner and Randy Bachman.
This album is a great collection of blues and classic rock songs that is reminiscent of the 70's highpoint of heavy rock n roll music. I wouldn't say its particularly special, just a good record, no it wont win any awards, but it also shouldn't bring in any negative reviews as apart from not being exceptional (just good) there is little fault with this album, the guitars and bass are a highlight, sounding like typical classic rock with a new age edge, this album feels classic yet new, with inspiration clearly taken from many generations of music. Bachman and Turner are clearly in sync with their playing and writing, the album is clearly made by two guys who work together well, with tracks like "can't go back to Memphis" sounding like a radio rock single ready for the masses (despite not even being a single off the album).

some songs come across as a little bit cringey, with "rock and roll is the only way out" and "repo man" sounding quite brainless and outdated however this album is simple in its aim, creating catchy radio rock songs, and there's nothing wrong with that, as its completely enjoyable to listen to.

Overall maybe I can't give the best judgement to this album as I have never had experience with the original band, however that also means I'm judging this from face value completely non-biasedly, so depending on how you view that will decide how valid you think my opinion on this album is.
Bachman & Turner is a strong debut from the band of the same name and something I personally highly enjoyed, is it amazing? no, however it is still a good album and 100% worthy of praise. simplistic hard rock/blues rock has been a little bit boring for a long while, Bachman & Turner flip this stigma completely, I recommend this album to any fan of classic rock as I don't see how it could possibly disappoint - unless you're expecting "are you experienced?" or "the wall", but otherwise, good fun and a strong debut.

Rating - 6/10

For fans of - Jimi Hendrix Experience, Deep Purple, Skid Row, whitesnake, Dire straits.

Best tracks -  Rollin' along, find some love, can't go back to Memphis.

By D.A Clarke

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Theatre of Pain - Motley Crue (album review)

Theatre of Pain - Motley Crue (album review)

year - 1985
Image result for theatre of pain album cover
genre - Glam rock/metal

Theatre of pain is the third studio album by glam rock band Motley Crue, this album marks a slightly more polished sound to the Crue's music, especially when compared to debut "too fast for love", the album was a commercial and critical success launching the band into new levels of superstardom.
Theatre of Pain is dedicated to Hanoi rocks former member Nicholas "Razzle" Dingley, who was killed in the car crash that resulted in Vince Neil's arrest.

Motley Crue's albums are usually divided into their first 5 albums as classic Crue....and then everything else after as...well subpar to questionable. Theatre of pain in my opinion is easily the weakest of Crue's classic albums(which I will go into more detail on shortly), however given this, it is still a great album to listen to and of  the best albums released in a genre that sadly became saturated and ended up killing itself/being killed by the music industry.

I will start with the negatives, then end on the positives, my first gripe with this album is Vince Neil's vocals that feel weaker and at times annoying, this is a shame because Neil clearly showed his ability and range on phenomenal tracks such as "shout at the devil" and "on with the show", but of course Neil sounds great on a lot of the tracks of this album, just compared to previous efforts it feels weaker and less passionate. A common complaint for all Motley Crue records is the somewhat shoddy bass playing from bassist/lyricist Nikki Sixx, while on this album it is stepped up a little compared to their first two albums, it is still boring and unoriginal (on later releases Sixx's playing would improve highly). my third and final complaint is the fact some tracks feel like filler, and with the common knowledge that the band were on many drugs at the time of recording (explained best in "motley crue: the dirt, a book written by the band) it is not surprising; "raise your hands to rock" and save our souls" being the best examples of, what I consider, filler tracks.

And now the positives, as on all Crue albums Mick Mars's guitar work is once again awe inspiring, being heavy but also catchy enough to give the pop-tinge that was part of the Glam metal sound.
Tommy Lee once again does a fine job with the drums, not being over complicated but never too simple that it bores the listener to death. Nikki Sixx may not be the best bassist, but he sure as hell can write great lyrics, "fight for your rights" and "home sweet home" being great examples of Sixx writing catchy and memorable lyrics. The band's cover of "smokin' in the boys room"(originally by Brownsville Station) is a huge highlight on the album, being slightly silly but also so memorable that its hard to dislike it. lead single "home sweet home" is also something that saves the album somewhat, being emotional and showing a new side to the sound of Motley Crue, definitely the albums best track in my opinion.

as a whole this album does has its faults, and as a Motley Crue fan I find that hard to admit but it is true, however this album as a whole is enjoyable and fun even if its a little forgetful, not their best, certainly not their worst, Theatre of Pain lands somewhere in the middle, if you're a fan of 80's rock, check out this album.

Rating - 6-5/10

Best tracks - "home sweet home, "smokin' in the boys room", "fight for your rights".

for fans of - Guns n Roses, Cinderella, RATT, Hanoi Rocks, Steel Panther.

By D.A Clarke 

Straight outta Compton - N.W.A (album review)


Straight outta Compton - N.W.A (album review)


Image result for straight outta compton
year - 1988

genre - rap, hip-hop, gangsta rap.



Straight outta Compton is the debut album by legendary rap group N.W.A, this album is easily their most famous, and with good reason. Being known for redefying the sound of hip-hop this album is a clear monumental moment in controversial music, with the pro-violence fuck the police attitude the album caused a lot of controversy, especially in the strict republican households of the 90s, this album inspired youth whilst sending a message of "don't fuck with us" to the parents of these troubled teens, this obviously upsetting many adults.

   

putting the controversy aside, how does this album hold up? well it's produced by (then) N.W.A member - Dr Dre. he alone is considered phenomenal in the world of record producing and rightfully so. Dre created beats and rhythms on this album that still remain unbeaten in the rap and hip-hop genre, and with the dire state of the genre at the moment I doubt anyone ever will. Rap is often insulted for its lack of real musicians, relying on samples which is an understandable critique on the genre as a whole however N.W.A make perfect use of samples, most notably on "Express yourself", not only using vocal samples but also by vitalising the use of smooth rhythmic bass lines, showing that in an era where guitar led music was dominant that the use of guitar was not necessary to creating good music, having all tracks being predominantly led by the vocals, bass and drums.

The vocals are...alright, its the lyrics that actually make this album so enjoyable, with clever use of word play, rhyme and rhythm that creates a flow that is easy to get lost in.

The group also have no "skits" as tracks, which to me is a huge positive as I find the "skits" on rap/hip-hop albums to be an annoying addition, and during this era having "skits" was at the height if popularity and the fact this album doesn't use them makes me love it even more.



overall this album is enjoyable and iconic, it can't be denied, hip-hop fan or not, that this album changed music and will be remembered as the best hip-hop album of all time (maybe only seconded to Dr Dre's 2001). my only criticism of the album is the very sexist lyrics on many of the songs, it doesn't make me hate the album like it would for some, but it does act as a small annoyance to me personally, still the album should be given the utmost respect as a piece of modern music history that will never be replicated again.



Rating - 8.5/10



Best tracks - "straight outta Compton", "Express yourself", "dopeman (remix)" , "Gangsta, Gangsta"



For fans of - 2pac, Coolio, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Biggie Smalls

By D.A Clarke

Friday, 17 March 2017

Hatful of Hollow - The Smiths (album review)


Hatful of Hollow - The Smiths (review)
year - 1984
genre - post-punk, indie, alt rock.
Image result for hatful of hollow

Hatful of Hollow is a compilation album by British post-punk/rock band, The Smiths.
The album acts as a compilation of some of The Smiths' most famous singles that were never put onto a studio album (e.g. Heaven knows I'm miserable now) and various alternative recordings of previously released songs.

This song is definitely more commercial than the previous Smiths release (self titled),, as it heavily build up of singles, radio one recordings and B-sides, however only an elitist or hipster would deem the album any less brilliant because of that, as it is undeniable that these given tracks, such as "William it was really nothing" and "this charming man" are easily some of The Smiths' greatest pieces of music as well as being their most famous.

Hatful of Hollow features elements of every other Smiths album, with Morrisey's melancholic vocals and vast vocabulary, Johnny Marr's superb reverb heavy guitar riffs that add a beautiful melody to the usually quite depressing meanings of the songs, then incredible thudding bass and drum lines from Andy Rourke and Mike Joyce, the underrated rhythm section of The Smiths.

The Smiths on this release have done a rarity in which no track feels as if it is filler, each track is enjoyable in its own right, my highlights being "Heaven knows I'm miserable now", "This night has opened my eyes" and the rerecording of The Smith's self titled albums most famous single "hand in glove".

overall this album is a pretentious melancholic collection of 2-3 minute songs, and that's why I believe it is a masterpiece, as Morrisey and the Smiths take pretentiousness and sadness and flip it into an enjoyable album in which any fan of 80's post-punk will adore. An early release in the bands career but laid down the path work for their later incredible albums (e.g. The Queen is dead).
With beautiful melodies and insightful lyrics this album displays a high point of alternative music. Is this The Smiths best album? No, but is it one of their best and one of the eras best? undeniable yes.

rating - 9/10

For fans of - The Cure, My Morning Jacket, the stone roses

best tracks - Heaven knows I'm miserable now, this Charming man, William it was really nothing

By D.A. Clarke