Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tyranny Of Vinyl Reissues

After Bruce Dickinson left Iron Maiden in 1993, he released a handful of albums as a solo artist. Some of them are just okay, while a few of them are quite good. My favorite though was the 2005 release, Tyranny Of Souls.

Since it was released during those days when the music industry was dead set in their belief that CDs were the best and only format for music, Tyranny Of Souls did not originally see a vinyl release. This seemed like an odd decision, considering that Maiden have always provided a vinyl option...even if it was just a shitty picture disc...and even Dance Of Death (2003) and A Matter Of Life And Death (2006) were pressed on vinyl at the time. I guess Dickinson's solo album didn't carry the same weight as Maiden, and it took until 2017 for us to see the vinyl for Tyranny Of Souls, which was part of a re-issue campaign for all the Dickinson solo stuff.

This album can stand shoulder to shoulder with Maiden's output since Bruce reunited with the band in 2000. So glad to finally have it in my record collection.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Don't Stop The Youth

At some point I heard about Fireburn and the new record they were releasing. I checked their bandcamp page, listened to a song, and then walked away. I don't know why I showed so little interest...it was probably just a timing thing, and I was currently obsessing over Thrash records from 1987 or something like that...but either way, I quickly moved on.

Over the next few months, my Instagram feed was flooded with photos of Don't Stop The Youth, with people losing their minds and claiming this was the record of the year. Curious, I decided to check it out again, and give it more of my attention.

Fireburn is kind of supergroup, full of big names from Hardcore's past. I don't really care about that bullshit. There are plenty of old hardcore dudes writing mediocre songs that don't grab my attention...so I care very little about who is in this band. My only interest is, does this record deliver...and it does...well, half of it does anyway. Five songs...three that are killer Bad Brains influenced Hardcore...one throw away Bad Brains influenced reggae tune...and one dub version of said reggae song that I never need to listen to again for the rest of my life.

Man, when the band is rolling, they create something that it truly great...take out those clunkers, and this could have possibly been my favorite record of the year.

500 pressed on red with black smoke vinyl.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Ramrod The Destroyer

Make no mistakes, Ram are pure unadulterated 80's Metal worship. The leather, studs, and screaming voice conjure up images of Judas Priest...and putting on a Ram album is like a time warp back to the golden days when Metal ruled.

When I heard that the new Ram album was to be called "Rod"...as in ramrod (ugh...how corny and lame is that?)...I was disappointed, and set my expectations low. Checking the video for the song On Wings Of No Return, set me straight, and I was soon headbanging like a maniac. Man, Ram know how to get the Metal blood boiling.

Before I listened to the record, I'd read some initial reviews that weren't overly positive. Comparisons were made to the band's killer album from 2015, Svbversvm, and most reviews felt that Rod fell short. The album does come ripping out of the gates though, and the first side of this record does not let up with it's unrelenting Metal attack. Side two consists of one epic song, Ramrod The Destroyer, broken out into six parts, and we kind of pump the brakes a few times as some interludes try to set the mood. It's cool I guess, but compared to side one, it does leave me a little underwhelmed by the end of the record. Still, this is a great Metal album, and it will be fun trying to see where it falls into my Top 10 for 2017 list.

Hand numbered and limited to 100 on transparent orange colored vinyl.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Dio-cember: Part 7 - Die Young

I had to take the past few days off from blogging, but now we can return to our regularly scheduled postings of Dio-cember. The series is winding down, but before I completely wrapped things up, I wanted to finally cross off one of the classic Black Sabbath singles.

Sabbath released four or five singles from 1980 through 1981 while Dio was originally in the band. Despite the fact that I could listen to both Heaven And Hell and Mob Rules everyday, and not get tired of those albums, I didn't own any of the singles from this period. Since I was neck deep in a Dio obsession, I figured that it was time to finally make a move. Finding the Die Young 12 inch from a US seller, and in excellent condition at a decent price, made the choice easier.

Black Sabbath singles don't really offer anything new...no rare exclusive b-side studio tracks or anything cool like that...most often it is just a live recording of a song...so there has been no real push for me to rush and pick them up. I still want them though...because I'm a record collector, and buying things that I don't really need is kind of my purpose in life.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Dio-cember: Part 6 - Hungry For Heaven Promo

After picking up that 12 inch promo for The Last In Line, I became really interested in what other promo singles were out there. It is strange. These promos don't offer anything new, and aren't really that special...but since the cover artwork is unique, I started obsessing over them.

When I started digging around on Discogs, I uncovered a copy of the Hungry For Heaven 12 inch promo for a nice price. Easy decision and I made it mine.

I forget that Hungry For Heaven was used on soundtrack for the movie Vision Quest. To this day, I've still never watched it. 80's movie about a High School wrestler...I wasn't interested back in '85, and I'm not interested now. Hungry For Heaven is still cool though.

Like the Last In Line promo, the back cover of the sleeve is plain white. Again, nothing really cool, but I like that the promos seem to have this consistency.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Dio-cember: Part 5 - TV Crimes

After picking up a number of records from the Dio band, I wanted to hit some of the other bands that Ronnie James Dio was in...first and foremost, Black Sabbath.

In 1992, Dio reunited with Black Sabbath after a 10 year split, and released the Dehumanizer album. Obviously it ruled. I wasn't following Metal at the time, but I consider myself very fortunate to have seen the third Dio reunion with the Sabbath guys in 2007 when they were going by the name Heaven & Hell. They played a couple songs from the Dehumanizer record on that tour, and it absolutely melted my face.

Vinyl was on a fast track out of town when Dehumanizer was released, so I was surprised to discover that Sabbath released a single on vinyl from the album. The first single, Master Of Insanity, only saw a CD release, but with TV Crimes, we got both 7 inch and 12 inch formats.

Neither Sabbath or Dio would release a vinyl single again...unless you count the ridiculously rare Age Of Reason 7 inch from 2014.

I suppose that I should have gone after the 12 inch format, but with the 7 inch available from a US seller at a cheap price, I took the easy way out.

Nice fold out poster cover.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Dio-cember: Part 4 - The Last In Line Promo

After picking up the last live Dio album on my Want List, and then picking up a couple of studio albums that I was missing, I started to look around to see what other records I could pick up to expand the collection. I was really happy with my progress so far, but I was far from done, and wanted more.

I'm missing a few early Dio singles, so I started checking out what was available on Discogs. I was checking the different variations with the Last In Line single, and I came across this record with a red cover that I'd never seen before. I was fascinated with it, and while I continued my search, my mind kept coming back to this record. This wasn't a regular single, but a promo that would have been available to radio stations to help promote the release of the album. The was nothing new here...just the album version of The Last In Line, plus a radio edit of the same song...but since I'd never seen that cover before, I was infatuated with it, and had to own it.

The problem was, Discogs didn't currently have a copy available...and with a sales history that showed only three copies moving through Discogs, I was worried that they may not come around very often. I did manage to find a copy on eBay, but man, it was listed with a price that was way too high. I struggled with it for a week or so, but in the end, I wanted it bad enough that I paid the ridiculous price for it. I know it was a stupid and impulsive move, but I'm happy to have it in the collection.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Dio-cember: Part 3 - Angry Machines

After picking up the Lock Up The Wolves vinyl, it got me thinking about the last few studio albums that I needed to add to the Dio collection. I was heading into dangerous waters, as they were all released during those dark days when vinyl was basically a dead format for most record labels. Both Strange Highways (1993) and Magica (2000) saw a very limited run of vinyl, and will take some serious cash when the time comes to chase them down, and while Angry Machines (1996) wasn't cheap, it was still much easier to track down than the other two.

Angry Machines is kind of looked upon as the black sheep in Dio's catalog. It is darker, doomier, and more angry than what you expect from Dio, and I'll admit, it took me some time to really appreciate this, but man, once it clicked, I really fell in love with it.

Now the deal with Angry Machines is that it "officially" has never been released on vinyl. If you want a vinyl copy, you've got to hunt down one of the few bootleg pressings. Since Discogs is being a bitch about bootlegs, and refusing to allow people to sell "unofficial" releases through their marketplace, I was forced to track one down on eBay. Being a boot, I was nervous that it may sound like shit, but this ended up being a quality record. Until there is an official release on vinyl, this bootleg will do.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Dio-cember: Part 2 - Lock Up The Wolves

Once I picked up that Chasing Rainbows live album, it got me thinking about those few studio albums from Dio that I was still missing on vinyl. I obviously had the classic early albums already covered, but those records released during Metal's turbulent ride through the 90's, were still some big holes in the collection that I needed to address.

When Lock Up The Wolves was released in the Summer of 1990, I was starting to get into Hardcore, and I was becoming kind of a self righteous prick about it by looking down my nose at some of the Metal bands that I'd cherished as a kid. Hardcore was really speaking to me, and I had no time for anything else. I took one look at the Wild One video from Lock Up The Wolves, with the skateboarding and slamdancing, and I passed immediate judgement that it was poser bullshit that was trying too hard to be heavy and relevant...and I turned my back on it. I was a stupid asshole kid.

Ten years later, I was starting to get interested in Metal again, and I downloaded the Lock Up The Wolves album off Napster or something similar, and I kind of enjoyed it and would give it an occasional spin. These days, I absolutely love this album, and when it is playing, I feel that I will fight anyone that has anything bad to say about it. Easily my most listened to Dio album over the past ten years. Why did it take me so long to finally grab a copy on vinyl?

Friday, December 01, 2017

Dio-cember: Part 1 - Chasing Rainbows

Last January I did one of those Record A Day challenges on Instagram, and posted my Ronnie James Dio collection for one of the days. It was far from complete, and every time that I think of that photo, I get an itch to fill some more holes, and expand the Dio collection.

I was participating in another Instagram record challenge this past month, and of course one of the days for a photo had to be "Collection Of An Artist"...and it got me thinking about that Dio photo from last year. The more that I thought about it, the more I wanted to buy more Dio records...and before I knew it, I had a bunch of them purchased and heading my way.

With a string of posts lined up, I'm declaring it Dio-cember, and I'm kicking the month off with a bunch of new additions to my Dio collection.

Shortly after Dio's death in 2010, we saw a handful of live recordings brought out from the vault and released for fans. After picking up the first few live albums, I kind of ran out of steam, and I ignored the Chasing Rainbows album until now. This live set from Spokane was recorded shortly after the release of The Last In Line in '84, and was broadcast across the county on the radio. The live set was previously available as a bootleg, but it is cool to have an official release now available.

Knowing that this was the last posthumous live album that I was missing, made it an easy target, and it felt good to finally cross it off the list.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Drums And Shotguns

I've been posting a lot of Metal and Rock records lately, and it seems to be a rare occasion when a Hardcore post pops up here on the blog. I'm not complaining, and I'm going to keep chasing what still gets me excited, because the heart wants what the heart wants...but man, seeing Marcus post about old Worn Thin records, and Ralf over at It All Comes Down To This posting about Circle Storm...well, it kind of got me nostalgic for the days when this blog was all about eBay wins for old and new Hardcore bands.

My daily playlists have been centered around the early 90's lately, and I couldn't resist the call to join the game of posting about old Hardcore records again...even if it is just for this one record.

The Summer of 2016 had me obsessing over mid-90's Hardcore, and I picked up a bunch of vinyl to try and reverse past mistakes from when I thought that CDs were the way to go. One of the records that I wanted during that Summer spending spree was the Split Lip LP.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a single copy of the clear vinyl pressing for Fate's Got A Driver on Discogs at the time, so I threw it on to my Discogs alerts and played the waiting game. Apparently this record doesn't come around too often, and just over a year later, I finally got notification that one was available.

Shortly after the release of the album, the band decided that the name Split Lip didn't fit with the direction they wanted to take the band...they wanted to "mature" and they changed their name to Chamberlain, and reissued the album under the new band name. The CD that own is for the Chamberlain pressing, and it seemed of vital importance that I get the original Split Lip pressing, and finally get rid of that Chamberlain stink.

Quintessential mid-90's Hardcore, and I never get tired of listening to this album.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Crowning Of The Sorcerer King

While I was placing my order with Metal Blade for the newest Cannibal Corpse record, I decided to add the new Sorcerer album to the cart as well. I mean, we are coming to the end of 2017, so I might as well, try to pick up a few more new releases before I have to put together my End Of A Year post.

I was digging Sorcerer's debut album, In The Shadow Of The Inverted Cross, when it was released a couple years ago, so I was down to check out the new album. The band draws some serious influence from the Tony Martin era of Black Sabbath, and since I love those records...and happened to be spinning Sabbath's Headless Cross repeatedly at the time I was in the Metal Blade store, it just made sense to finally grab the latest vinyl offering from Sorcerer.

With the first single from the album, Sirens, Sorcerer definitely keep that Tony Martin Sabbath/melodic doom sound intact. This stuff is really good, but goddamn, the songs are so long that I can get a little bored by the end of it. Outside of Sirens and an instrumental track, the rest of the songs clock in well over 6 minutes each...which can be too much sometimes.

Hand numbered and limited to 200 for the great looking clear/black swirl colored vinyl.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Heads Shoveled Off

My son listens to some of the shittiest modern hip hop, and I recently had to have a conversation with him about a couple of posters that he wanted for his room. One of them had a guy throwing up double middle fingers, and the other one was a close up of some dude's face...with a blunt blazing between his lips, and a cloud of smoke around his head. Nope. No fucking way. I tried to explain the power of putting forth an image of positivity and not falling into the bullshit traps that society sets up for us...and he quickly threw back in my face that "my music is about killing people". Shit. How do I talk myself out of this one? Images of a drug culture are stupid, but songs of mass murder and mutilation are cool? I tried to distinguish the difference between horror movie imagery, and the glorification of real life drug stupidity, but I'm certain that any words fell on deaf ears.

Then, as if on queue, the new Cannibal Corpse record arrives on my doorstep.

I'm not huge on Death Metal, but I really enjoyed the last Cannibal Corpse album, A Skeletal Domain, so I was excited when it was announced that the band were releasing a new album this year. Goddamn. A Skeletal Domain was three years ago? I could have sworn that it was just last year...or the year before that at the most!

Cannibal Corpse don't offer any surprises with the latest album, Red Before Black...they just keep hitting you with some brutal Death Metal. I don't think it is as good as the last couple of albums, but then again, for me, Cannibal Corpse albums are more of an acquired taste, and it takes them some time to sink in...so who knows, I may warm up to it with repeated listens.

Transparent red and clear split vinyl is limited to 500.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Still Having Their Say

I've been interested in a bunch of books lately. In addition to the fiction that I read constantly...and I'm racing to finish Stephen King's Dark Tower series before the year is up...I've got a stack of music related books growing on my bedside table. Books on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal...books on Thrash...a book on Led Zeppelin...a book on AC/DC...the list goes on and on. It is going to take me years to work through the ones that I have, so the last thing that I needed was to add another one to the pile. Yet, when Bridge Nine announced preorders for the xXx Fanzine book, I was so excited, I didn't just order a copy...I ordered the deluxe package deal.

I don't know what came over me. Totally blinded by the excitement of the moment, and a loss of self control, really. If you had tried to sell me a record full of cover songs, featuring a bunch of bands that I didn't know, I wouldn't give you a dollar for it. Yet, here I was jumping at the deluxe package for the xXx Fanzine book with the Still Having Their Say comp.

Listening to this record, my reaction is exactly what I'd expect. This is shit. I hate myself for ordering it, and the chances that I'll ever listen to it again are slim. Sure there are a handful of decent songs...Strife do a great job with the Void cover...Done Dying covering Government Issue is cool...nice addition of Voivod doing a Die Kreuzen cover live...but over all, I just found this incredibly irritating to sit through. Look, I'm old and jaded, and apparently hate a bunch of newer Hardcore bands. I should have seen this coming and saved the extra $20.

xXx Fanzine ran from 1983 through 1988, documenting the Hardcore scene through interviews and photos of the classic bands of that time. I'd never seen a single issue, and surprisingly wasn't very familiar with the 'zine until the announcement of this book...but I was hot to get my hands on a copy and dive in.

This book is amazing. The hardcover packaging really speaks to the quality of this whole thing. I'm really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this.

Oh, I almost forgot...because I hadn't thrown enough money at this book, I felt compelled to buy the mini-zine that Bridge Nine released in advance to help promote the book. I got sucked in with that great looking shot of Dag Nasty on the cover, and the talk about additional photos and interviews.

There really doesn't seem to be that much exclusive content, and I'm not terribly excited over the Nomads flexi, so overall, I probably could have skipped this as well, put my money elsewhere, and just ordered the book.

Man, I don't mean to sound so down on this package, because Bridge Nine did a really great job...I just could have spent my money much more wisely and skipped the deluxe package.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Back In Hell

I've always been a big AC/DC fan, but I never really put much effort into picking up the vinyl from their catalog. AC/DC records aren't rare or anything, so time after time, I pass them by for something more exciting. That changed when I made a quick and fun purchase of Blow Up Your Video a couple months ago...which prompted me to get serious with a first Australian pressing of TNT...and now I'm adding a couple of beat up copies of Back In Black and Highway To Hell. It is funny how things have snowballed into a mini run on AC/DC lately. Sometimes, things just work out that way.

Even though it has been a year and a half since Steve died, and my mom gave me his old record collection, I've been slow to really do anything with it. It took me until this past Spring to finally go through them all, and separate the trash from those few that I wanted to keep. After letting them sit there for another six months, I'm finally just getting around to adding them to the collection.

I tend to overlook Back In Black. The album is massively popular, and even the least Metal people you know will go nuts on the dance floor at your cousin's wedding when the DJ spins You Shook Me All Night Long. Because of this kind of bullshit, I forget just how great the album actually is.

Earlier this summer, I was participating in a 100 mile relay race with a team, and one of the guys was playing Rock And Roll Ain't Noise Pollution as he was getting hyped up for his next run, and the song really struck a chord with me. Holy shit...that song rules, and made me want to listen to nothing but AC/DC for the next month.

Normally, I would have little interest in a record that has as much wear as this one does...the cover is beat to shit, and the off center A side label cranks up my OCD...but since it came from Steve's collection, I'll happily place it on the shelf, because the vinyl still sounds amazing.

While Powerage stands as my favorite AC/DC album, Highway To Hell gives it a good run for it's money. Not a single weak track on this record.

While I am looking to build a complete Australian first press collection for the Bon Scott albums, I wouldn't mind getting a full collection for the US pressing as well.

As I was cleaning the vinyl for these albums, and giving them a spin on my turntable to prepare for this post, we got the sad news that guitarist Malcolm Young died at the age of 64. Seems like a good time to crack the cover for Martin Popoff's latest book on AC/DC, and dig in deep with this band.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Keeper Of 1987

Last month, I got a little obsessive when it came to 1987. I had a pretty solid 7 post streak here on the blog for some absolute classic Metal and Crossover albums from that year. It was a good run, but eventually I moved on and started chasing other records on my Want List. Then, as I was picking up a piece of vinyl for a German seller on Discogs, I saw he also had Helloween album from '87 available, and I easily fell back into the train of thought of "just one more".

Earlier in the year, I read the Damn The Machine book, and of course it triggered a minor obsession with the bands from the Noise label. I'd picked up a couple records, but didn't nearly get in as deep as I'd wanted, so with the fire for '87 still burning, I figured that I'd scratch the itch for both with this pressing for Keeper Of The Seven Keys, Part I.

Get out of here with your lame US pressing...I had to go for the European pressing with the gatefold sleeve.

Oddly enough, I completely skipped this record as a kid...even though I did buy Part II on CD. I'm not sure how I missed this one...although I can see it getting lost in the noise that the US thrash bands were making that year...but still, this album has aged very well for me (or maybe I've just been on a Power Metal kick the last couple of years), but either way, this album is all kinds of great.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Radio Free Vinyl

At the start of Summer 2016, my mother's boyfriend of 15 years passed away due to a massive heart attack. It was a pretty big blow for the family, and for some us, it was the first time we had to deal with death of someone that was close to us.

In helping my mother clean out Steve's stuff, we came across a couple of crates that consisted of his old record collection. She offered them to me, and I took them off her hands. I expected that about 95% of it was of no interest to me, but I held out some hope that there may be small handful of records that were worth holding on to.

Back in the early 90's I was listening to more and more emo stuff out of the Hardcore/Punk scene, and along with that came an interest in REM. Hey, don't fucking judge me...even Endpoint and Doghouse Records were sliding into that Indie/College Rock sound at the time, and it seemed like REM was required listening for the socially aware feminist vegan that I was.

By 1996 or so, everything seemed so damn pretentious and uptight. I couldn't take it anymore, and I walked away to follow Ten Yard Fight and Floorpunch to something that seemed more sincere, and something that I could connect with.

I've had no desire to listen to REM for the past 20 years, but seeing their 1983 album, Murmur, in Steve's collection...it not only shocked me to see it in there, but kind of made me want to give it a spin.

I had only listened to Murmur a couple of times previously, and it didn't really move me when I initially heard it. But this time was different. I don't know if it was because I was listening to it on vinyl, or if just happened to fit my mood this time around (maybe that Molly album from earlier this year had something to do with it)...but as soon as Radio Free Europe started playing, I was immediately interested. I mean, I figured that I never needed to hear this band again, and here I was giving the album multiple spins...so no one was more surprised that I was at this change of heart.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Strength Of The Mind

I don't always do the best job of keeping up with new bands, but thankfully I'm on Instagram about 10 times a day and if something hot is going down, I might pick up on it...just hit me in the head with it a dozen times, and maybe it will start to sink in and pull me out of the 80's long enough for me to pay attention.

I'd seen Mindforce photos peppered through my Instagram feed through the summer, but usually just scrolled passed them. A photo recently caught my eye though, and comments from the poster seemed to mirror the same kind of excitement that I felt when I heard the Ecostrike record earlier this year. A few months late, but I finally decided to see what the Mindforce hype was all about.

Goddamn! The comparisons to Leeway are dead on, and the record rages with a kind of Crossover fury. Man, They Just Want War rips so hard and fast...I'm wondering how high this record is going to climb in my Best of 2017 list. Believe the hype!

278 pressed on blue vinyl.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Blue Roo Dynamite

A few weeks ago I posted about the vinyl I picked up for AC/DC's Blow Up Your Video album. I'd been tossing around the idea in my head of possibly chasing the Australian first pressings for the band...at least for the Bon Scott era...and grabbing the oddball record of Blow Up Your Video felt kind of silly and spontaneous.

While buying that record felt like a step backward from where I wanted to take my AC/DC collection, it did kind of kick me in the ass and get me thinking more seriously about that goal. Soon after that, I ended up with a good chunk of cash in my Paypal account from selling stuff on Discogs, and I knew exactly what I was putting that money towards.

The early AC/DC Australian catalog is very different from what I grew up with here in the US. With different album covers and track listings...for instance, most of the songs on the Aussie pressing for T.N.T., ended up on the US pressing for High Voltage...while the Australian pressing of High Voltage was a completely different set of songs...it kind of stoked the flames on my interest in collecting the Australian pressing. It seemed to make for an interesting quest.

AC/DC first Australian pressings don't come cheap, but this one was worth every penny. Great condition for an album that was released in 1975.

There are a number of different pressings on the Australian Albert label...blue labels, black labels, red labels...but for a true first press you gotta make sure that the blue label has the kangaroo logo on there.