Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Better Tomorrow - Wu-Tang Clan

This is the first Wu-Tang album in over seven years. Yes, it came out last month, but I've been listening to it and think I can do an accurate review of it now. This is also my second Wu-view. I was kind of excited for this, thought when you get excited for a group that's been around for while sometimes it's disappointing. Something that made me less cynical for this album was that Mandatory Fun was excellent and that Ruckus In B Minor was great also. Also I thought it was pretty cool to find out Adrian Younge's band played on some of these tracks. For the sake of being redundant I'm gonna leave the RZA produced tracks blank, in terms of reference. But I figured get this done, and also do the Panda Bear one, and maybe Marilyn Manson's new album.
  1. Ruckus In B Minor: This opens the album and was co-produced with Rick Rubin. Lately he's been doing a great job on tracks he's been making. The thing is he's not new. He's been at least producing since 1986's Reign In Blood and producing hip-hop since the Beastie Boys. I really like how ODB was sampled for this track, and he doesn't really sounds sampled. I also like how the band in the back plays so hard, and the Wu go just as hard. I also love that rotor organ sound that plays behind RZA's part where he kind of reminds me a little of I Can't Go To Sleep. It's very much so a stretch, but he just does the way he's angry sounding. Also the whole chorus with the arpeggios and the keys it's so fricken great. The only bad part is I don't dig the edit that has the song stop then start again. That could have segued together better. And not right before RZA's part, I mean when it completely stops. At least the earlier part the was someones voice filling the silence.I do like how it sounds like it's getting played backwards too. It's overall a great track.
  2. Felt: I mean this track sounds like they sampled Peeping Tom, even down to the vocals in the track. Not the rapping, the backing vocals (so to say). This just ins't really a track I care for very much.
  3. 40th Street Black / We Will Fight: Produced by Mathematics, with a co-producer credit to RZA. This track really is kind of disappointing. Okay look, this might not be looking very bright for this record. Keep that mind mind, that I said that. It's actually kind of funny I mention Al in the opening paragraph, this song sounds like a school fight song they sampled. You know kind of like Sports Song. I don't dig these horns, I mean I think they rap pretty good, but the horns and the music and the whole RZA chorus thing just keeps me out of the track. Also I was proud that I picked up on the Shaft Theme sample in this track, though second and third time through I couldn't hear it again. I didn't pick up on the Liquid Swords sample.
  4. Mistaken Identity: The beginning of this track kinds of reminds me a little of Frank Ocean. I'm also really diggin' the instrumentation choice in this track. The vamp is pretty solid. While I'm not in love with it, I still dig it. Also love the Echoes-esque guitar, and the organ in this. I also like how the melody changes a little for each MC's part. That's how you make a great track, you don't over do the same thing over and over till it's at nausea. I do enjoy this track and I can tell the more I listen the more I like it. This track made up for the last track. {7/10}
  5. Hold The Heater: I've heard this opening before, not exactly the intro, but the sample sounds like something I can't quite remember right now. You know, I don't know, this track isn't that bad. I think the more I listen to it the more I'll like it because it has potential. I'm digging the flows and the drums on this track. The only thing is that thing that sounds like a zip-zip-zip thing. But you know that might grow on me. No Love Deep Web did. Not crazy about that "bonus track" type ending. I know they did that in the past, but I didn't like the way the guitar sounded, or say was mixed.
  6. Crushed Egos: This track has a co-producer credit to Younge, and thee main is RZA. This is a terrible thing. I hate having my ego crushed. I like the way the song opens, it reminds me of 36 Chambers. This is another solid track that I think takes multiple listens to fully get.
  7. Keep Watch:  This was produced by Mathematics. This is another solid track that I actually enjoy, I mean it's a little repetitive, but it hasn't gotten old yet. There's a part, toward the end of the first verse where he says "damn". It reminds me a lot of Eminem like on Love Game or something like that. Whatever. I like the way GZA sounds on this track. This is a pretty good track though. I just don't have a ton to say about it.
  8. Miracle: Produced  by 4th Disciple, and co-producer credit to RZA. This is the controversial, or the laughed at song, on this album. I think it's a pretty good song, with the exception of maybe the chorus. You know I don't think this song is all that bad. I mean seriously, skip that chorus and it's a hard hitter. Yes it is a little long, but I still think it's a pretty decent track. If the hook wasn't repeated so many times maybe. Also I like the whole slowed down more industrial version of it towards the end.
  9. Preacher's Daughter: The weird thing about this is the hook quotes one of my favorite songs ever. I'm not kidding, just about any version of the song I like. Nancy's, Dusty's and so on. This is actually, minus the kind of hilarious rewording of the famous chorus, an awesome track. I really think everyone does a great job here and this whole track is so solid. Once I realized what the hook was saying I had to laugh. This shows that they aren't all that bad. They can still make some solid tracks.
  10. Pioneer of the Frontier: This track samples Mr. Sandman by Method Man and two track from 36 Chambers, Protect Ya Neck and Da Mystery of Chestboxin'. See this bring to mind that whole call back, full circle thing that makes this a perfect last album. I think this might be a little cluttered, but I still like it. This is a very large sounding thing, it also sounds heavy, but I think it a little too slow. Maybe if it was a little shorter.
  11. Necklace: The second and last 4th Disciple producer credit. I'm not huge on this track, but I like how it kind of tells a story. This sounds like a sonic continuation of the last track. Kind of cluttered, its slow, and sounds heavy. Not like heavy metal, just like it's bloated. I also think that intro sound clip was played a few too many times. Kind of like the hook in Miracle.
  12. Ron O'Neal: This is an okay song. I mean I'm not huge on it, but I do think the organ in its cool and I like the guitars tone in this song, but for whatever reason it just doesn't click with me. The vocals on this track are by far my biggest problem, and it says they're sung by Nathaniel. Maybe it has to do with the fact I don't really like the movie, not music it's great, Super Fly. Shaft was all around better and all the Pam Grier movies have her in them, usually naked. So...... I think Assassination Day used the sample better. This track needs more energy to be great.
  13. A Better Tomorrow: Love the intro with the beautiful piano. There is another track titled this from 1997's Wu-Tang Forever. To be honest, this is a great track and I dig the other one too. After the last track this is a huge change. This is a very happy song, not lyrically, but it just sounds so... they bring up a ton of problems and this music just makes it like "we can over come this". I also love how the song the sampled, Wake Up has to do with tomorrow. Waking up to a better tomorrow. I don't know, i feel like if someone was depressed and they listened to this song they'd feel comfort. Not just in terms of "this is happy" in terms of "a deeper comfort". Also love the "backwards" part, I kinda giggled. And like the "King" drop to kind to prelude the next track.
  14. Never Let Go: The biggest down side is the almost minute long intro. This is a pretty "epic" track to follow that beautiful one. This track samples Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech in the intro. This, while it was intentional or not, reminds me of I Can't Go To Sleep. On that track they mention "Jessie" and "King" and what not. I do love the saxophones or horns in this track. Also dig the whole choir thing in the middle of the song.
  15. Wu-Tang Reunion: Gather the children and have them listen up. With a track like this I hope this is the last Wu-Tang album. Why do I say such a thing, well... this is such a fricken great finale. Kind of like the final track on Sabbath's last album 13. That album ended with the rain, which was kind of like a call back to their first album. This album is a reunion of sorts for the whole group. The group that was so strong on their first album, and because of that , and the warm feeling you get from this track, I hope this is the last track the Wu-Tang make. I mean, I could cry it's a beautiful ending. Also this samples Family Reunion by the O'Jays and Protect Ya Neck and Reunited (a lyrical one) by da Wu and has a Raekwon sample Glaciers of Ice.
Overall I have to this this album a 7/10. While the album had highlights, they were also lowlights. I do hope this is the last album, not because it was horrible or because they'll never live up to it. I just feel like this is an appropriate final chapter.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Never Turn Your Back On A Friend - Budgie

This is my first review of 2015. Now I didn't know what to do with this month. To finish almost complete reviews from last year, to just do them as I listen, or wait. Well.... This third album by the UK's hard rock group Budgie. This was released in June 1973 on MCA Records and was produced by the group themselves. Immediately when I see the cover I know Roger Dean did it. Another thing I know right off that bat is I'm diggin' these song titles. Whenever I hear that name I think of the line, in the Flight of the Conchord's song Leggy Blonde "I had a budgie, but it died. I like pie". I was asked to review this by a friend, who's blogger is here, back last year. Actually it's been at least a year. I think it was in February he asked me. Regardless, after finally getting a copy to listen to, I bring to you, Never Turn Your Back On A Friend (how fitting a title) by Budgie
  1. Breadfan: This is a track that is probably most famous for being on Garage, Inc., a compilation which was basically a covers double album. It contains B-Sides and newly recorded tracks from '84-'98. That aside let's get to this song. This has the classic, thought not as powerful as on the later higher clearer Metallica cover. The singer actually sounds like a woman singing. It sounds like Janis Joplin singing this. The drum beat in the version I'm listening to is the clearest thing. But it's one solid thing. I'm diggin' the solo and love how it turns into a completely different song with the pretty acoustics. I love the whole entire acoustic section and love the way it sounds with this production. Then it goes back to the head. At over 6 minutes this is a promising opens {7/10}
  2. Baby Please Don't Go: I don't think there is a blues based group that hasn't covered this song. From AC/DC in the 70's to Aerosmith in '04 I could go on and on, and that's off the top of my head. Digging this bass tone, and also the cries in the intro. I also like the gutiar's crunch which would probably be beautiful on vinyl. My only real complaint is it's 5:30 minutes long. If it was 3 it'd be a lot better.
  3. You Know I'll Always Love You: I like the acoustic opening to this album, and it's a very pretty song. It's kinda mesmerizing. This is a great song, but I feel like this could be a better example of a fresh breath of air if the first track didn't  have that acoustic middle section.
  4. You're the Biggest Thing Since Powdered Milk: Killer drum fill opening. This is a pretty rocking track. I do enjoy this, and the other songs, it's just there is music that I've heard like this so many times before this isn't as enjoyable as it could have been. Thought I do really like that change in tempo with the bass "riff" and the part where it sounds like Uriah Heep. Actually I could have just done with that later half of the song.
  5. In the Grip of a Tyrefitter's Hand: Honestly I don't have anything else to say here, solid song, solid playing... it just. It reminds me a little too much of Judas Priest's early stuff to get excited by it. It'd rather listen to a fuller more developed sound vs a trio. Also I think it's kinda long, thought the ending is pretty solid. I really like the drums at that part.
  6. Riding My Nightmare: This song is very very pretty. It almost doesn't fit what was just happening. But again, I feel like they did a "hard rocker, ballad, hard rocker, hard rocker, ballad, hard rocker" and so on. It's very predictable and I've never listened to this before in my life. To be honest, if this is the same singer as the rest of the album, this is what his vocals are fit for most. I'd love this song, it's just I predicted it.
  7. Parents: I'm guessing this to be a hard rocker. But it's 10 minutes long, so don't forget to add in an acoustic or softer part. It starts out rockin', not quite hard rockin', but rockin'. Then goes into a softer more acoustic oriented part for the first verse. It picks up for what appears to be the chorus, but still. To be completely honest, I feel like if Priest were handed this song Rob would sing this thing until it became his submissive. I am digging the squeals in the solo though. This is kind of too long for how mellow it is. I mean the solo doesn't take it out of this mellow ness. Mabye my copy is bad, but if it isn't then ....... Listen to the song The Messiah Will Come Again by Roy Buchanan for a better version of what they were going for in this track, a far better. The 1972 version is probabyl closer in production, but it doesn't really matter.
Overall I have to give this a 7/10. To be honest, beside the hard rocking parts and the acoustic variation parts, there wasn't much else here for me. This wasn't that adventurous of an album for me. It could have been an album that influenced bands like Metallica and possibly to a lesser extent maybe Megadeth but outside of the inner circle, there isn't anything that I would really return to here. To be honest, there was lots of things here I've heard before by Priest, or at least remind me of them. I'd rather listen to their original albums than this.