Sunday, August 31, 2014

What Counts | 2004 - 2014

There was a time when I was excited about new Have Heart pressings. I couldn't get enough, and did not hesitate to buy every new pressing that came along. These days...meh...I don't know...I'm feeling burned out on having to buy the same record over and over and over. So when Triple B announced that they were doing a 10 year anniversary pressing of What Counts, why did I feel the need to buy all three pressings, when I already had 7 copies of the original 7 inch?

I guess that somewhere deep inside, I'm still holding on to the hope that someday, I'll get back to filling holes in my Have Heart collection. If that day comes, I don't want to look back and regret that I never bought these three pieces of vinyl.

Another big draw to buy this 12 inch pressing of What Counts, is that we finally get the bonus tracks from the CD, Dig Somewhere Else and Reinforced on vinyl.

Great layout, and the essay on the inside gatefold about the beginnings of the band and recording of What Counts were a good read on the band's history.

500 pressed on orange/white swirl (which just looks like opaque orange), 1,500 pressed one white, and 2,000 pressed on clear orange. Thanks to those very high pressing numbers, I can only assume that we won't see another pressing of this for years to come. Thank you, Triple B.

Friday, August 29, 2014

You Wanted The Best, And You've Got It

I fight tooth and nail against live albums. I find the majority of them to be to be a waste of time. Why listen to a live album and only get select songs, when you can just throw on the studio album and enjoy the deeper cuts as well?

My friend, Jeff, is a big 70's head, and he's been trying to force feed me some live albums lately. He has a handful that he lives and dies by...and the two that he has been pushing hard have been Deep Purple's Made In Japan and Kiss' Alive!. I've done a pretty good job of ignoring him for the past six months or so, but the last time I was over at his house, he handed me a copy of Alive!. He had a few different copies, with various stages of wear and tear, and decided to part with one of them if it meant that I would finally listen to it.

The copy he gave me has more ring wear than I am comfortable with, but it does have the first press, blue Casablanca labels...and the insert booklet is in great it was free, so who am I to complain.

I gave it my first listen earlier this week, and I was completely taken by surprise with how much I am loving this. You hear about how live albums are supposed to capture the energy and intensity of a band, and Alive! absolutely embodies that. The band sound like they are having a blast, partying it up with the crowd. Honestly...I'm stunned. I've listened to this record every day since I've first heard it, and have to say that this may be the best live rock record...ever.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

...And Justice For Me

26 years ago this week, Metallica released their fourth full length LP, ...And Justice For All. While at college during the Fall of '88, I felt like more of an outcast than I did in High School. I didn't know anyone, and in between classes, I would just retreat to my car, and sit there listening to music. Metallica had just released this new album, and I have clear recollections of sitting there listening to it again and again.

While Metallica were becoming more popular at the time, Metal was still a dirty word, and most people still didn't "get it". The band were still ugly and loud, and with 7 of the 9 songs clocking in over 6 minutes, you could tell that they were just interested in doing their own thing. While I enjoy all of the Metallica records, I've always considered AJFA to be the last great Metallica album. Still, I've generally overlooked it for the past 10 years or so. Hell, Load, Reload and St. Anger have more seen more action on my stereo than this one. Crazy...I know.

Listening to it now, I'm not sure why I spent such a long period ignoring this album. Frayed Ends Of Sanity, Harvester Of Sorrow, Dyers Eve, The Shortest Straw...damn, I'd forgotten how great these songs are.

I was recently talking with Mike Puffer from Alert/Through These Eyes, and he mentioned that he was looking to sell off some of his Metal records. Strangely enough, while he is more focused on Hardcore, and getting rid of his Metal vinyl, I'm in the exact opposite position. All Metal...all of the time.

While he didn't have the original Megaforce silver label pressings for the first two Metallica records, he did mention that he had a near mint copy of ...And Justice For All. He gave me a price that was more than fair, so I took the opportunity to finally add it to my collection.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Generating The Mos

Since I've been riding high on all things Mos Generator and Stone Axe, I recently decided to "like" them on Facebook. As I was scrolling through the Mos Generator page, I noticed that the band had recently announced that they were going to be takinging some songs from their demo recording sessions, and release them on vinyl in very limited quantity. The numbers were so limited, in fact, that it was sold out by the time I saw that the band was going to press them. I commented that I was disappointed to have missed out on it, and hoped to get in on it the next time they decided to do something cool like this.

Shortly after my comment, I received a friend request from Tony Reed, the guitarist and singer for Mos Generator. I tried not to get too fanboy-ish, and just politely accepted the request, assuming that he had just added me as a friend so that his wall, promoting Mos Generator, Stone Axe, and the various other stuff he does, like his killer Pentagram covers, would be included in my news feed. That was cool with me.

A couple weeks later, I received a private message on FB from Tony, telling me that if I wanted a copy of that limited press demo LP, that he had a few left, and I could buy one if I wanted. I was stoked to say the least. I accepted the offer, and took the opportunity to let the man know just how much I liked the new Electric Mountain Majesty album, and sent him a link to my blog post. He wrote me right back, thanking me for the kind words and that he liked my blog. We then spent some time exchanging pictures of our record rooms, and talking about music, including his jukebox loaded up with Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Black Flag and Misfits. Turns out, the guy not only writes some killer rock riffs, but also digs hardcore...including a stint where he played with dudes from ALL in a band called Goodbye Harry. The guy just loves music, and enjoys talking it with anyone that obsesses about it as much as he does. Such a great, down to earth dude.

So the object of this release was to just make it a fun project for the band. The songs would be pressed on random colored vinyl, with blank labels and covers. 33 copies would then be distributed to each member of the band, for them to write all the info on the jacket. Then everything is finished off with all the guys in the band adding their signatures.

Number 59 out of 100, and initialed by the drummer, Shawn Johnson, as he was the one handled the writing duties for this copy. Job well done. I love the personal touch on this release, and it truly makes this a special collectors item.

The songs themselves came from the demo sessions from both the Nomads and Electric Mountain Majesty albums, so the Electric Nomads title is fitting.

While I'm not typically a huge fan of outtakes and demo tracks when compared to the finished album recordings, I'm really digging these for some reason. Maybe it is due to the additional insert that explains the background for each song. These stories somehow personalize the songs, and the insight makes me appreciate them more.

While I was ordering the Electric Nomads LP, I figured that it was a good time to grab the Nomads LP as well.

Released in 2012, Nomads stands as strong as the newer Electric Mountain Majesty. The songs...that guitar sound....goddamn, this is so good. I love this album, but one of the highlights for me has to be the bands cover of Judas Priest's Solar Angels. Holy fuck. It is quite possible that the cover is better than the original...or maybe I just think it is better because Point Of Entry can be a bit of a stinker. Either way, the Mos Generator version puts a huge smile on my face whenever I hear it, as it captures the love that this band has for Metal and Rock music. This love and passion for the music shines through, and is one of the reasons that I've come to appreciate everything that Tony Reed touches.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Collecting Du$t

Like it or not, this blog captures everything that I'm buying, and it is an honest representation of where my head is at. I know that I've been sidetracked with a bunch of metal/rock vinyl lately, and I haven't paid very much attention to hardcore. I've got a lot more metal vinyl queued up to post here, but for now lets take a break with some Angel Du$t.

I absolutely loved the Angel Du$t 7 inch last year. Manic and snotty, with a rumble of pop punk running underneath it all. I was really looking forward to the LP this year, and hit up orders with React! and Reaper to make sure I grabbed every pressing available.

400 pressed on white vinyl that was only available through React!.

When the vinyl finally arrived, I had a good feeling about the album. The layout and design looked could this record not be totally fucking cool? I slapped it onto the turntable and dropped the needle expecting big things. The first spin left me rather underwhelmed. That's need to took me a little while to get into the 7 inch, so maybe I just need to give it repeated listens. Two spins, three, there are some really great songs on here, but there are also a handful that fall really flat for me. Overall, I'm disappointed. We'll see if it holds up over the next month or so, but right now, it just makes me want to go back to listening to metal.

400 on clear vinyl that was exclusive to Reaper.

800 pressed on black vinyl. There was another 150 that were pressed on pink vinyl that Angel Du$t sold on tour. Pink is obviously the best color to own for this record, but I don't know if I really want to track one down at this point.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Getting The Led Out

If you aren't familiar with the story, if I had to categorize Led Zeppelin as a kid, they would fall under the heading of "Who Gives A Fuck". Regardless of the loud guitars and screaming vocals, all my teenage ears heard was Stairway To Heaven, and for that, I could not have cared less. I guess it is one of the beautiful things of being an angst ridden kid that is discovering a world of Heavy Metal and Thrash. I was in love, and if a band fell outside of that immediate circle, it was shit, and not worth my time.

And if that closed minded arrogance defines youth, one of the wonderful qualities of growing older is that you tend to break down some of those walls, and you reach out and start to appreciate some of those things that you'd shut out while growing up. Such was my relationship with Led Zeppelin. 20 years is a long time to chill out and recognize that music doesn't have to hit you in the face like a hammer 24 hours a day, and to acknowledge that power doesn't only mean blazing fast guitar leads. It took me a while, but once I recognized these facts, and a friend introduced me to Achilles Last Stand from the Presence LP...I had to pick my jaw up from the floor. Goddamn. I've been denying myself some amazing music.

So, while I've come to appreciate Led Zeppelin over the past 8 years or so, when the new remastered pressing were scheduled to come out this year, I wasn't really sure what level of a fan I really was. While the Super Deluxe box sets looked amazing, I wasn't sure if I wanted to commit at that level. Yeah, I was a fan, but was I a "$100 record" kind of fan? You can see from this post, the answer to that question.

I was really torn on making the big leap, knowing in the back of my head that I wouldn't be able to stop at just one. No, once I started the madness, I would have to see it through for the entire discography.

On release day, I took a trip to the local record know, just to check them out. I walked through the door, and only Led Zeppelin II and III on display. I picked up one of them from the shelf...fuck...they felt so substantial...the hook was set. As I was looking over the box, a salesman walked up and asked I was finding everything okay. Well, if I was going to buy one, I was going to start with Led Zeppelin I, and since there weren't any on the shelf, I asked if they had any in stock. He went out back, and 5 minutes later he was back with a copy in his hands. Now I felt that it was just rude to not buy it after he took the time to find a copy for it or not, I was committed.

Cracking open the box, I was immediately happy that I spent the money. Vinyl...hardcover print...a replica of the press kit from Atlantic...holy shit, this thing was well put together.

I've always liked the first Zeppelin album, but by the time I would get to the end of the album, I would often find that it had lost my attention. With this remastered vinyl, that was not the case. The recording sounds incredible, and sucked me in from start to finish.

The bonus LP contains a live show from the Olympia in 1969. I've never been too interested in Zeppelin live material, as stretching the songs out with some trippy jam session has never been my style...and this companion LP is not exception. Good for a historical reference, but not something that I'll be reaching for very often. Still, that "negative image" style album cover is totally bad ass.

The hardcover book is a great addition to the overall package. I love flipping through it, looking at the old photos and news clippings. Seeing all of the different variations to the 7 inch singles, it tugs at the collector in me, and says, "You want them, don't you?".

Once I'd bought Zeppelin I, it took me a couple of months to work up the courage to start thinking about buying II. Dropping this much money on a box set is not for the faint of heart. I'd promised myself to not half ass this collection, and once I got myself in a good place financially, I finally committed to buying the second box set in the series.

I'm always torn as to what my favorite Zeppelin album is, and I waver from one to another. Well, after just giving II a listen with this box set, I'd say that this one takes the top spot. Damn, this this is so solid.

I'm not big on outtakes and alternate recordings, and that is all we get on the companion LP with this set. It is an interesting listen, but not something that I'd reach for very often. Love the look of that psychedelic album cover though.

This box set didn't come with as many extras as the first one, but still that hardcover book is well worth the price of admission. I love looking at these old pictures of Robert Plant singing...the dude did not hold back, and just put everything into unleashing on the mic.

I bought the Led Zeppelin III box shortly after buying II. Finding a used copy for sale at a discounted price helped to sway my decision to buy it, rather than waiting another couple months. Who buys something as hefty as one of these box sets, only to turn around and sell it back to the store so soon after?

When I first started checking out the band, it took me a long time to warm up to Led Zeppelin III...there just weren't enough loud and heavy guitars. Sure it started balls out with Immigrant Song, but there was too much acoustic guitar for me to really appreciate it. Sitting here today, on this nice summer day, with the sun pouring in the windows, I'm thinking that songs like Tangerine and That's The Way are as close to perfection that a band can get. Beautiful.

More outtakes for the Zeppelin III companion album, although the Jennings Farm Blues song is a cool mix of all the guitar overdubs from the days recording session, as is the Key To The Highway/Trouble In Mind song that I'd never heard before.

Looking at the pictures in the hardcover book for the Led Zeppelin III box set...these photos make me want to grow a beard.

I, II, and III complete. Looking forward to IV and Houses Of The Holy this Fall.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Born To Metalize With Megaforce

I'm a sucker for 80's metal. I absolutely love it. Yeah, everyone knows and likes those big name bands like Metallica, Slayer, Megadeth, and Anthrax, but I get a bigger kick out of discovering those second and third tier bands...those bands that are widely forgotten and dismissed. Uncovering those bands that I missed out on 30 years ago, for one reason or another, still gives me a charge.

Had it not been for my recent obsession with collecting the original silver label Megaforce pressings, it is doubtful that I would have ever stumbled upon the hidden gem that is the four band split, Born To Metalize.

The Beast...Sneak Attack...Tortured Dog...I've never even heard of these bands, and to the best of my knowledge this four band comp was the only place that saw their recorded material released. Long hair, leather and studs...songs about Stephen King's The Stand, Dirty Harry, witch hunts, and killing posers to defend the name of Metal. Classic 80's speed metal...this shit rules!

The lyric sheet insert captures where Megaforce was at the time. I only own the Exciter LP, so there are still some big albums to cross off my list. Which one should I chase next?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Stoned Again

When I purchased the Stone Axe Extended Play 10 inch a few months ago, I had no idea that it was going to trigger a full on obsession over the band.

When it came time to buy the first Stone Axe album, I figured that I might as well go big, and ordered the Super Pack from Ripple Music. I wouldn't normally have had any interest in the CD, but they suckered me in with a bonus DVD full of live performances...and I can't resist Stone Axe in a live setting.

I first downloaded the Stone Axe album back in 2011. I was heavily getting into Doom, and I was downloading anything that remotely fell into that realm. I downloaded a ton of stuff, and Stone Axe got lost in the shuffle. I gave the album a spin in August, October and November of that year, and then left the songs to collect digital dust on my iPod.

Earlier this year, I decided to give the album another try. I don't know why this didn't click with me three years ago, because I can't get enough of it now. Straight up heavy 70's riff rock. Seriously...Skylah Rae may be one of my favorite songs right now...the atmosphere that this song creates is mind blowing.

In addition to the LP the package deal comes with a split 7 inch that Stone Axe did with a band called Mighty High. This song doesn't disappoint, and I continue to love everything this band has recorded.

I'm obviously not a big fan of the drug theme of Mighty High...but still, this is a fun song. If I can mosh along to Murphy's Law and their Quest For Herb, I can hang with this song as well.

Also included in the package was a double 7 inch compilation for Ripple, called Heavy Ripples.

Of course the highlight is the Stone Axe song, which is a cover from one of guitarist Tony Reed's other bands, Mos Generator. It can't lose. The other bands on the comp are okay, but they all pale in comparison.

The inside of the double 7 inch gatefold sleeve contains more of that trippy artwork from the same artist that did the Mighty High cover from their split with Stone Axe.

I do love it when bands and record labels add that personal touch with a thank you note along with your order.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Robot Hive/Exodus

Robot Hive/Exodus was released back in know, back when vinyl was considered a dead format. Because of this, the record label only released this Clutch album in the CD format. 2014 is the year to rectify that problem.

Clutch were huge for me last year. Their Earth Rocker LP was one of my favorites for 2013, I saw them live twice, and in the process of discovering some of their albums that I'd never really checked out previously...well, I listened to that band a shit ton. Man, I could not play that band enough, so when I saw the opportunity to buy the Robot Hive/Exodus LP on vinyl, I grabbed it.

The album cover was redesigned for this vinyl release, and they did a great job with the packaging...fully taking advantage of the gatefold sleeve.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Redeemer Of Priest

Six years ago, Judas Priest released their second album since reuniting with Halford. It was kind of like the release of Turbo all over again...I remember being really excited for it, and then immediately disappointed. Unlike the synthesized poppy hooks of Turbo, Nostradamus was just long, drawn out, and dull. Instead of making a 23 track, hour and forty minute long album, it was in desperate need of having the fat trimmed.

When it was announced that the new Priest album, Redeemer of Souls, was to be 18 songs long, I figured that the band hadn't learned anything from the past. I was prepared for disappointment.

When I checked the title track that was released as a single, I was underwhelmed. Halford's voice sounded weak, and the song sounded thin. I knew that I'd still end up buying it, just because it was Priest, but I wasn't expecting anything too exciting. Things looked a little better with the preview of Halls Of Valhalla, and the guitar solo just ripped. Okay...maybe I was starting to look forward to the album a little bit.

On release day, I found myself at the record store, and digging through the Metal section in the vinyl bins...just to grab the new Priest album.

I really wasn't too impressed after the first listen. Just as I'd thought after previewing the title track a month sounds thin and weak. Still, I wasn't going to give up that easily, and after spinning the album for consecutive days, the songs start to sink in. With each listen, I find another song that stands out, and surprisingly enough, I find that I really like this album. Solid Priest. Solid slab of metal.

Just to note, the vinyl only contains 13 of the 18 5 of the songs are included in the deluxe version of the CD as a bonus...similar to what Sabbath did last year with their 13 album. At present time, I still haven't heard these bonus songs, as I've just been taking my time, and letting the original album sink in.

The packaging for this album is great, with the sleeve getting a nice metallic shine to enhance the artwork. Quality.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lighting Her Magic Circle

Okay...after posting three of the records that I picked up from Grave Mistake this month, I guess it is time to post the one record that drove me to the webstore in the first place. The Magic Circle 7 inch...

Within minutes of ordering the new Step Forward and Violent Reaction records from Painkiller, Marcus tipped me off that the new pressing of the first Magic Circle was available as well. I'd missed it, and I couldn't be bothered to go back and buy one. I just let it go.

A month later, I saw that Grave Mistake had some in their webstore, and I finally made my move. The funny thing is that missing out on this record with Painkiller paid off, as I now have a copy, yet my Painkiller order has not arrived yet.

So this is the Scream Evil 7 inch that the band released prior to last year's full length. You know, because Boston bands featuring Brendan Radigan, Chris Corry, and DFJ, tend to suffer from lack of attention and need all the extra hype they can get. Wink wink. The promo obviously did what it was supposed to do, as the LP sold out quickly, and the label struggled for a while to keep it in stock.

The original pressing was limited to 200, and became quite difficult to acquire. This second pressing is limited to 500, and comes with a proper sleeve. The flipside of Scream Evil features a non-LP track, Lighting Her Fire. Man, this song is so good. I'll be spinning this, along with the Stone Dagger 7 inch, on repeat for weeks now.