Monday, February 28, 2011

Tornado

Recently visited my fave used record store and came across this little gem that may be fairly unknown to some folks.  Just had to put this this one up.

The Rainmakers were a Kansas City, Missouri-based original rock band which had a small string of hits in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the United States and Europe. Tornado was released in 1987 and was the second studio album by them. Personally I had never heard them until last Friday. The guy at the record store saw what I was picking out and suggested this band. He put this disc on the turntable and two minutes later I said sold, put that sucker in my pile. Absolutely loved it. They are very similar in vein to Jason and the Scorchers, but not quite. They released three studio albums then disbanded, although they have since gotten back together and released some new material. Perhaps their most prominent fan is horror writer Stephen King, who quoted the band's lyrics in his novels The Tommyknockers and Gerald's Game. After listening to the album I can see why he did, the lyrics are brilliant.  If you haven't heard these guys I would highly recommend tracking down this out of print treasure.  One listen to the Wages of Sin should convince you.  Currently trying to track down the other albums by these guys.

The Wages of Sin
Small Circles
One More Summer

Funny Toon

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This is Big Audio Dynamite - Legacy Edition

Before the rap-meets-rock cultural phenomena of the Beastie Boys and Run DMC there was Big Audio Dynamite. BAD was formed in 1984 by the ex-guitarist and singer of The Clash, Mick Jones. The group were noted for their effective mixture of varied musical styles, incorporating elements of punk rock, dance music, hip-hop, reggae, and funk. This Is Big Audio Dynamite was the debut album and it was originally released in 1985. The album's punch was commemorated last year with THIS IS BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE - LEGACY EDITION. The 2-CD package presents a newly remastered version of the original 8-song album, plus a second CD of 12 bonus tracks comprising rare U.S. and UK 12-inch remixes, edits, dub versions, outtakes, and B-sides - five of them previously unreleased on CD. Columbia/Legacy has done an excellent job with this ultimate version of This Is Big Audio Dynamite. If you liked The Clash, but missed out on B.A.D. back in the day, do yourself a favor and check this one out.


Medicine Show (12-inch Remix)
The Bottom Line (12-inch Remix, Edit Version)
Buy It


Funny Toon

Friday, February 11, 2011

Halcyon Times

I never did get around to making my top ten list for last year. I can tell you about one album that deserves a spot on the ten best albums of 2010. Halcyon Times by Jason and the Scorchers. Since 1982 Jason and the Scorchers have consistently put out some of the best albums that I own. They are also probably one of the most under appreciated bands of the last 30 years. Their mixture of hard rock, punk rock and country music is a joy to listen to and you have to wonder why they can't garner a huge following. Back in June of 2009 I wrote about the Thunder and Fire album and mentioned that they were working on a new album and I for one couldn't wait for it's release. Well that album arrived in Feb of last year and true to their name it's a scorcher. Halcyon Times is one of the best albums from any decade when it comes to this genre of rock.

These guys amaze me - instead of a fourteen year layoff it sounds more like 14 days where some transformation occurred and they were granted super rockin'powers. They always rocked with an abandon that most bands could only hope to approach and my goodness they sound great here. These guys did what conventional wisdom dictates can't happen in music as they took a hiatus for a very long time and came back stronger and better. This record is no “return to their roots.” It is instead a creative leap forward, showing the band at its peak, not on some sort of self-absorbed nostalgia trip. MOONSHINE GUY opens the record, full of bravado and bravery, driven by a character who “yells and he roars / likes The Stones, hates the Doors.” Whilst MONA LEE is certainly as exciting as anything the band has ever recorded, but it’s hard to pick a standout track on the record - they are all that good. Hodges’ guitar work has never been better, full of style and inspired originality, while Ringenberg rocks like he is still 18. If you only buy one album this year this should be the one.

Moonshine Guy /  Releasing Celtic Prisoners
Golden Days
Mona Lee
Buy It

Funny Toon

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Headhunter

Krokus, doesn't that name blast you metalheads back to the eighties? I became familiar with Krokus back in 1982 when I was at this party and someone was playing the One Vice at a Time album. I said who the hell is that, it sounds like they're trying to copy AC/DC. In fact the lead singer was trying awful hard to sound like Bon Scott which irked me a little. Yet I found that even though this band were blatantly copying AC/DC's sound, I couldn't help but like it.

Krokus didn't start out as metal though. These headbangers from Switzerland started out in the 70's as a progressive rock outfit along the lines of Yes, Genesis, and ELP. Hard to believe, eh. The band didn't get anywhere commercially, so it decided to cash in on metal's popularity and started emulating AC/DC. Call it one of those guilty pleasures because everything about this band says I shouldn't like them, yet I listen to them on occasion. Their biggest album was 1983's Headhunter which contains a wicked cover of BTO,s Stayed Awake All Night. With all due respect to Randy and the boys, Krokus' version of this song kicks serious butt and sounds deliciously good cranked up to maximum volume. The album's success came mostly from the hit power ballad Screaming in the Night which received heavy rotation on MTV. If you were a metal band in the 80's you had to have a power ballad, I think it was a law, or your record was ignored.  I remained a casual fan of these guys until their dreadful cover of Ballroom Blitz which should make any music aficionado cringe. homercat had to abandon the Krokus ship after that fiasco, even though that particular album contains many fine tracks. For several albums though Krokus delivered the goods. Incidentally, the band has undergone a few personnel changes and are still kicking around and released a new album just last year. I haven't heard it so I couldn't tell you if it's any good but these two tracks from Headhunter are guaranteed to rock.

Eat the Rich
Stayed Awake All Night
Buy It


Funny Toon

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Declaration

I first became aware of The Alarm in 1984 when I won a contest and received an autographed copy of their album Declaration. It was the Wales based groups first full length album and it was the first time I had ever heard of them. When I played the album for the first time I was immediately hooked. At the same time U2 were becoming huge and friends were pleading with me to jump aboard the U2 bandwagon, which I didn't do because I just couldn't get into their music. Meanwhile I was trying to get my buddies to listen to The Alarm and was constantly extolling their virtues and they couldn't get them. This many years later I have come to appreciate U2, but I still don't listen to them that much. I mention this because from the time that The Alarm formed in Rhyl, Wales in 1981, they were dogged throughout their career as a poor mans U2. This comparison I never saw and never understood. It just wasn't a fair comparison.

The Alarm were part of an early-'80s wave of bands (the Call, Big Country, and the Waterboys among them) who dealt in soaring anthems inspired by the righteous idealism of punk. Clearly influenced by the impassioned political fervor of the Clash, the Alarm also worked in a mostly acoustic, folk-punk vein that provided a counterpoint to U2's hard-driving guitar sound. Their stage look was unquestionably a product of the '80s, with enormous spiked-up hair accompanying a cowboy/old-time cavalry wardrobe. The British music press habitually savaged their records as derivative and pretentious, and while they did command a zealous following, they never really broke beyond a collegiate audience. Declaration has drive, power, passion and poetry. Released in 1984, songs like "Marching On" and "Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke" showcase the band's ability to straightforwardly rock, but most of the album consists of the sort of stirring anthems that they'd become famous for in their later works. One song on the album called The Stand is a song whose lyrics were inspired by Stephen King's novel of the same name (which is also my favorite book of all time).  The Alarm were a good band that has been underappreciated and maybe they deserve a second listen.

Marching On
Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke
Buy It

Funny Toon