Sunday, March 25, 2012

scrap224; Aerosmith PUMP

This is a journey into sound.....

When drug addiction & child abuse met gasoline. First of all I must state upfront that I'm am not now nor have I ever been a big Aerosmith fan. I am not a Steven Tyler fan. For me they have always been all over the map musically & lyrically. They do have a wonderful collection of greatest hits but never a complete over-all great album. In 1989 Aerosmith released their 10th studio album; PUMP. for my money & Aerosmith tastes, this is as close to a complete great album as they have ever gotten since TOYS IN THE ATTIC.
PUMP consists of 10 solid tunes & a fair share of monster hits. PUMP had 6 of its 10 songs released as singles & is currently certified 7X Platinum. The track listing is; 1. Young Lust. 2. F.I.N.E. 3. Going Down/Love in an Elevator. 4. Monkey On My Back. 5. Water Song/Janie's Got a Gun. 6. Dulcimer Stomp/The Other Side. 7. My Girl. 8. Don't Get Mad, Get Even. 9. Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man. 10. What It Takes.
This is a very good to great album. I can & listened to it many, many times in its entirety with no complaints. For me, this IS Aerosmith. Personally I really dig Monkey On My Back as my favorite track.
The band at this time consisted of Steven Tyler, lead lips, harmonica, & keyboards. Joe Perry, lead guitar. Brad Whitford, rhythm guitar. Tom Hamilton, bass. Joey Kramer, drums & percussion.
I feel like Aerosmith sounds best in the vinyl format. There is something about their rocking eclectic sound of the standard rock band instruments with the additions of a harmonica, piano, & the occasional horn section that melds well in the comfortable audio climate an LP records provides. My copy is on 180g vinyl & sounds superb.
This album does have additional treat. I love the cover art. The 2 nearly identical black flat bed trucks except in size. The little one (says PUMP on the door) is piggy-backed on the bigger one. It's fun & extremely iconic. Then the standard Aerosmith logo stamped on the black & white photo in violet. Good stuff all around. Although its now nearly a quarter of a century old (23) PUMP deserves a new listen. Get pumped, & go spin it. It is time well spent.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

scrap224; Pearl Jam Vs.

This is a journey into sound.....

1. Go. 2. Animal. 3. Daughter. 4. Glorified G. 5. Dissident. 6. W.M.A. 7. Blood. 8. rearviewmirror. 9. Rats. 10. Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town. 11. Leash. 12. Indifference.
These 12 songs make up Pearl Jams 2nd album Vs. released on September 19, 1993.
Back in the day, during my formative high school years Grunge music was what was ruling the airwaves everywhere. Seattle Washington was now the new hub of cool. Bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Soundgarden, & of course Pearl Jam were the new 'Big Four'. Of these four bands Pearl Jam was & still remains my favorite. Their first album 'Ten' was new, loud, & personal. Vs was that but much more aggressive in my opinion.
I guess I will discuss the title or titles first. To begin with Vs. was called Five Against One. Then it was to simply be self titled. Then at the last minute the new Pearl Jam album became title Vs. These titles all reflected Pearl Jams current attitude toward the corporate business world. An attitude they capitalized on ever since. The band during this album was; Dave Abbruzzese on drums, Jeff Ament on bass, Eddie Vedder on vocals & rhythm guitar, Stone Gossard on rhythm guitar, & Mike McCready on lead guitar.
I have 4 copies/versions of Vs. my first version was on cassette which I got on its release date. My cassette simply says Pearl Jam due to the album changing titles. (I have a cousin who has a cassette that says Five Against One.). Second, I have the standard CD. Third, I have the expanded CD that includes outtakes & other various later to be released tracks. And finally, the re-released vinyl edition on 180 gram vinyl which of course is the actual purpose of this review.
This vinyl version has a full rich sound. Every note rings true & has an aggressive & sensual feeling about it. The lyrics are both intrinsic & worldly. Pearl Jam are vinyl fans & intend for their albums to not just be released on vinyl but to be experienced through vinyl. I whole-heartily agree. 'Go' get this on vinyl & take it for a spin.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Jimi Hendrix Valleys Of Neptune

Everyone has their own opinion as to who the greatest guitar players in the world are.  Everyone’s list is different.  Some will say Jimmy Page, or Clapton or even Stevie Ray Vaughan.  If you poll the greatest guitarists in the world as to who the greatest of all time is, they will likely tell you that their pick is the man for whom this review is written.  That man is the legendary James Marshall Hendrix.
In the few short years that Jimi graced us with his music, he managed to redefine how people think about music played on the electric guitar.  Hendrix is rock and blues and soul and funk all rolled into one and of course backed by some of the most prolific musicians that anyone had heard up to that point.  The original Jimi Hendrix Experience featured Jimi backed up by Noel Redding on bass and Mitch Mitchell on drums.  Eventually Redding left the lineup and was replaced by Billy Cox on bass in both the Experience and in Band of Gypsies.  This could simply be a history lesson on Jimi Hendrix, however this review has purpose.  Everyone has heard Jimi’s classic albums so to rehash Electric Ladyland or Are You Experienced would simply be a lesson in futility since everyone has their own ideas of these albums.  So why is Jimi Hendrix relevant today for this review?  In  2010, Jimi Hendrix’s estate released a collection of songs that were to be included in Jimi’s next studio effort.  U fortunately he died before he could present them to the public, however these songs were finally realeased as a full length LP titled Valleys Of Neptune.  Featuring both of the lineups of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Jimi presents songs on this album that are both familiar and new at the same time. 
Clocking in at just a little over 45 minutes, Hendrix fans were delighted to hear that not only did the material sound fantastic, it was completely contemporary sounding, proving to everyone once and for all just how far ahead of his time he was.  Opening with a new rendition of Stone Free the listener is immediately shown that they are not going to be listening to the same classic versions of songs that made Jimi Famous.  Other classic tracks have been reworked here such as Red House and Hear My Train a Comin.  Each of these tracks presenting them in a new way but with a fluidity and feel that is as natural as the originals.  The bass and drums are strong and build a strong foundation that Jimi uses to take the listener on a journey like no other musician can.  The most sought after song of all of Jimi Hendrix’s unreleased catalog, Valleys of Neptune, is officially released for the first time on this release.  The song is simply perfect even in the unfinished version that appears on the album. 
This album was released as a limited edition numbered vinyl pressed on 200gram vinyl.  This record is thick and the grooves are cut deeply providing a solid surface for Jimi’s soaring guitars, and of course the rhythm section of the Experience so strong that no other rock band of the time would have been able to handle them.  The vinyl spinning for this review is number 329 of 10,000 that were released worldwide.  It is a double LP in a gatefold sleeve with each record in heavy plastic sleeves.  The complete liner note book is a 11”x11” 8 page booklet with essays about the release of this project.  Jimi’s original sound engineer worked on this project to insure that it sounded as good as it possibly could. 

Side by side comparison of this album is tough.  Usually the vinyl will sound better when played side by side with the cd.  In this case, they are a wash.  This is not a bad thing for vinyl lovers, but rather a good thing for cd lovers as the cd was made from the vinyl master instead of a completely different master being made for the vinyl.  CD listeners, you can hear the dynamics of the vinyl without having to find an out of print and expensive copy, though if you wish to do so, don’t let me stop you.  No matter how you listen to this album, listen to it.  There was only one Jimi Hendrix and for the first time in many many years, a new album of original Hendrix material was released to the world. 
If you are a fan, get it…if you aren’t a fan, this is a great time to start and find out what the Jimi Hendrix Experience was all about. 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

scrap224; Huey Lewis & the News SPORTS

This is a journey into sound.....

As diverse a decade as the 1980's were, there are some bands better remembered than others. Some were of the one hit wonder variety while others were able to establish themselves as a premier act. From the bars of San Francisco California I give you Huey Lewis & the News. Already an established act in their area & some radio play nationally via their first two albums; Huey Lewis & the News & Picture This, the band was hoping to make it big with their next album and they did just that. Their third album made Huey Lewis a household name. The album in question was SPORTS. This album is very important to me personally because in 1983 when it was released I was a mere 8 years old. For my birthday I received my very first music from my parents. It was Huey Lewis & the News SPORTS, on cassette. So obvisiouly this album has a special place in my heart. To me Huey Lewis & the News is a 'band' in the truest sense. Guitars, an harmonica, horns, & keyboards give them & this album a tremendously full and unique sound & one of reasons I have always enjoyed listening to it.
SPORTS was a nearly immediate hit. It has been certified 7x Platinum. It had five of its nine tracks as singles. And by the end of 1984 SPORTS ranked second on Billboards top 200. Second only to Michael Jackson's THRILLER not bad company back then. More good fortune was to come the bands way when they contributed two songs for a movie called Back to the Future.
The track listing; 1. The Heart of Rock & Roll. 2. Heart & Soul. 3. Bad Is Bad. 4. I Want A New Drug. 5. Walking On A Thin Line. 6. Finally Found A Home. 7. If This Is It. 8. You Crack Me Up. 9. Honky Tonk Blues. And it all clocks in at a brisk 37:46. The band personnel at the time was; Huey Lewis- lead vocals & harmonica. Mario CIpollina- Bass. Johnny Colla- Guitar & Saxophone. Chris Hayes- Guitars. Bill Gibson- Drums & Percussion. Sean Hopper- Keyboards.
My personal favorites are basically a coin flip for me. Once you are able to memorize every note & lyric of every song on an album a favorite song becomes a moot point.
My vinyl is not an original unfortunately. It is a brand new reprint. The sound is amazing. It's clean. It's clear. It's alive. If you are indeed in need of a new drug then finally give this album a home, your home. Spin it.