Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Ride the Lightning - Metallica

So I have been listening to so much Jazz lately I lost track of reviews. So I decided to pick this album because I know it quite well, and while I doubt I will have any new insight, I still wanna do it. Okay now back to the review, or into rather. A growing trend in media seems to be revamping old ideas for today's sound. Like classical music, but it's rock and is supposed to "kicks ass". Or let's revisit out 80's albums and make a new album, but with new production. Which in all fairness, sometimes you need to go back to move forward (and some people have pulled it off). Rejuvenate that love or passion you once had, and then take the drive and continue forward. So they follow the album up with a fresh sort of breathe of air. It might have been off putting at first, but there are glimpses of something nice and interesting for a thrash band to do in decade 3. Then for whatever reason they take 5 years to follow that up, but the final product just seems to take ideas from elsewhere and their 90's albums. Hardwired is not a good album, it's not terrible and I do not see it being impossible for someone to enjoy the album. I have lightened up on it, but that's because I also haven't listened to it and only remember being disappointed. The only thing is that it can never amount to their 80's out put or even their 90's. Why? Well what happens when you run out of ideas? You either go back and look at old ideas and renew them, or you push ahead and try new things and do things you never thought possible. Fuck if they put out an EDM album, it'd probably suck, but at least they weren't back tracking. So in honor of that disappointment I felt I needed to review my favorite album by the group. This is the second album by Metallica. This is also my favorite album by them. This album kicks ass. Now this album is also somewhat historical. Yes, Dave Mustaine co-wrote four of the songs on Kill 'Em All, including the first four bars of each solo. But here this is where the writing is better than on the prior album, and also you got some of the best songs Metallica ever made.
  1. Fight Fire With Fire: Opening is a great, really kicking off the start of a more focused album. I imagine it surprised some fans of the band to hear acoustic guitars opening up the record. I mean I could imagine me going what the fuck, if I want already exposed to their later stuff. Okay the drums do bother me a little bit, but the song is still freaking great and has a fucking awesome hook. The song is angry and has this energy to it that makes me wanna headbang, in usually opposed to that because I feel dumb. But this is an exception. The solo is not that memorable, well parts are, but it isn't as memorable. That is until the dual leads that are harmonized I wanna say a third or fifth apart. I could double check but I wanna be fast. I think that is the best part of the solo to be honest. And there is a great punch that comes with this song and shows that even though the opened different it still fucking rocks. 
  2. Ride the Lightning: I think that this is kind of cool. People thought this was about the horror of Capital Punishment. But James later said he supports it, and this song is about a man who faces it for a crime he didn't commit. That gives the song a story, and an interesting one. This song also paints a picture with its words and the music even has this sort of lightning bolt feeling. The fast guitar chords, the cymbal hits and even the sort of clouding up the mix a bit. and the sort of thunderous clouds that I could almost see this being (if it was an instrumental) a tone poem about a thunder storm. The guitar solo is so fucking sharp and it could be ear piercing but sounds so fucking good and is very memorable. I also love how the song has a bit of a change with the solo and then it starts up with a dual guitar thing. So freaking good. Also I think Lars drumming actually fits this songs tone and theme quite well. Also how can you not love that opening riff.
  3. For Whom the Bell Tolls: Again another nice touch having those bells in the beginning. The bass is the lead on this in the intro and the guitars power chords sounds like thunder clouds. The track really is constructed extremely well and the guitar makes you feel l your going to trudge into battle. I figure the walking pace of the drums helps that quite a bit, but again musically another stellar song. Even the lyrics and the delivery feel like its people chanting about to go to battle. Revisiting this album I wonder if Cliff was the real brains or at least creative force of the band. Well either him or Dave. This again is a very memorable solo and song in general. I love the ending and they basically do the break down of Raining Blood two years before it came out. 
  4. Fade to Black: A very nice change of pace, very sad and depressing. The song is about suicide and musically and lyrically I feel its handled quite well. Lyrically its not a master piece, but it isn't as shallow or corny as it could be. There is a real grit to the tune. I mean look at some of th later post-Black Album lyrics... Odd they'd go down that road and wouldn't progressively become better lyricists. Unless.... No, they couldn't have phoned them in on newer albums. I also want to point out on the CD this works perfectly from the last track. Also as if the soldier wants to die bow that the battle is over, for some reason or another. Like a pseudo-protoOne. This really is a gorgeous song and really evokes sadness, misery and just finality. The second half of the song, is a great change and I mean it isn't that shocking of a change but it is like a "beat change". The first half is the sorrow, and the second half is the follow though. This really is a great moody tune, as I've said now I don't know how many times, but I really have yet to grow tired of this or any tune on this album honestly. And that solo, the only thing I wish is it was turned up a tad, but other than that I mean it works.
  5. Trapped Under Ice: Based on a demo from Kirk's days with Exodus this song Impaler. Note: this demo was later released, rerecorded, on Exodus' 2004 album Tempo of the Damned. I honestly don't think this would sound out of place on Kill Em All. It's very fast and probably the best example of speed metal here. I mean not to say the songs aren't fast, but this is like a shot of adrenaline, and a much appreciated one. This song is really solid and has some great moments, but the fact that it is a bit faster than the others is a nice contrast to the slowest/"lightest" song on the album, the previous cut. Plus it kind of is a return to the charm of the last album.
  6. Escape: This is the only tune I can never remember. Honestly I just can't ever remember it, hence me not having this a "bold" track. I mean I can remember all the others why can't I remember this. And to be honest, other than it could easily be transformed into a sludge metal/groove metal tune, there isn't much here for me. I mean yeah when I hear the chorus I remember it, but it doesn't stick with me. Sadly this is the weakest cut here. But I'd prefer one weaker cut to more or less an entire albums worth. There is some nice moments, but this feels like I don't jive with it. Honestly I'm having trouble retaining anything other than the chorus, but even that I doubt I'll remember.
  7. Creeping Death: Another killer fucking tune, and possibly the best of the album. Well with the exception of maybe the closer. Written about the plagues of Egypt and Kirk co-writing the lyrics, this really is a heavy hitter. This is a song that I think even now, on newer live albums/releases, it'd be hard for even this band to fuck up. This also returns to the sort of thunderous thrashing that was earlier on the album. Great solo harmonies and this really is a great cut. I also like the change that makes it more chaotic, and yes you've basically hear this earlier on the album, it's nothing new, but it works very well here. The chant makes it seem all the more evil. Which is odd, I was always taught the Egyptians were the bad guys in that scenario. I guess it comes down to perspective, of which if you think sort of a subversion of Christianity, like what God doing is "evil" or whatever, check out Wormwood by The Residents. They got some odd stories that actually are in the bible. Judas Saves is my favorite in terms of thinking. Regardless great tune as a penultimate track.
  8. Call of Ktulu: This track was originally titled When Hell Freezes Over and was co-written by Mustaine. Mustaine later released When, a reworking I believe if I remember correctly, in 2001 with Megadeth. This is another track I can't imagine them fucking up, like really it's handed to you on a platter almost just don't fuck with it. The electric guitar arpeggios are reminiscent of what would come on the future albums and, to a lesser extent, Fade to Black. The really great thing about this is this track builds in a fucking phenomenal manner that is just a bit baffling to me. This so fucking kicks the shit out of Pulling Teeth, Orion and definitely Suicide & Redemption. This is really just a great tune that while you can argue nothing much happens, it keeps your focus for all 8 minutes. That truly is a large achievement, especially for this type of song. There isn't really anything new happening here that hasn't happened on other tracks throughout the album. It's almost like a sort of overture, but at the ending, and instead of featuring the themes it just takes that elements instead of exact notes. Killer ending.
Overall I have to give this a 9/10. Don't get me wrong, thematically the lyrics on these Metallica albums are awesome and inspiration to write better lyrics/stories. But I don't think they are the best thing ever. Now I think this is the best album by the group easily, but its not perfect. Its so fucking close, but not quite there. It's heavy, memorable, and definitely worth a listen. Also as a side note, let's hope that in 2031 they release the follow up to Lulu and not a St. Anger II in 2023. But according to past behavior (1988/2008, 1996/2016, 2003/2023?).

Monday, March 6, 2017

Can't Stop the Music - Village People

It's March, and I have been doing this now for 3 months, so let's keep up the steam and keep on going with this classic. When you find out the history of this record, its very funny that this is what its titled. This is the sixth studio release, if you include the Sleazy half of Live and Sleazy. This is a soundtrack to the movie of the same name, titled after the production company Can't Stop Productions. This movie is, how can I put it, ridiculous. This is also the first record not to feature original lead singer Victor Willis. Though he did write the words to Milkshake, Magic Night and obviously the previously released YMCA.
  1. Can't Stop The Music: The first track, which also happens to be the title track and the last in the movie (big finale). The biggest problem is this song is too long in the movie, and while is catchy, it goes a little too long. As catchy as In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is the middle percussion solo goes a little too long, nothing really happens. This is much of the same..... In the film at least.  It wasn't until I heard the full version on its own that I really "got it". Then I realized, this song is actually not half bad. It's kind of good, which is odd, but it's good. Like I can't listen to the album 3 minute edit, I need all 7 minutes of it baby. Really it's much like hearing an edited version of Love to Love You, Supernature or any extended cut that you really need all 10+ minutes of. The song is very tastefully arranged, has some great vocals and is one of the best disco songs I have heard. It's very fun, even though I can sing In the Navy in the beginning, and you can dance to it. Wasn't that the purpose of disco? Besides appealing to Gay men. The bass on the song also tops what most rock bands could ever dream of playing. It's just I wish there was more variation. Not to say there isn't, but if I'm not in the mood the longer instrumental part can be a bit grating. It was for the review, but literally ever over time I listen and dance in the car it goes by so fucking fast. Maybe it's because I have to sit and listen and can't move you know. Fighting the natural order of the song. But at the end of the day I feel like an injustice was done, it's like an edited version of a song [on the album]. This isn't Let's Go Crazy, we need the whole thing. Plus it doesn't kill the momentum of the song having the whole thing either.
  2. Samantha by David London: With an introduction that reminds me of My Sharona, and a glam rock inspired by a Rocky Horror, this song isn't anything to rave about. Well maybe more along the lines of a chorus off the more popular Styx songs. It makes me smile a bit because of that, but they did it better than David London. This song is pretty easy to take, but as easy as it is to hear it is to forget. Like I forgot about it in between listens.
  3. Give Me A Break by The Ritchie Family: This tune isn't half bad, but there is something that keeps me from loving or wanting to revisit this track. I couldn't wrap my finger around it until listen number 3 that I understood. That's when I realized it wasn't that great of a song. I mean there are better songs on the album, why does this group have to be on the album. Really it's a pretty boring song. I mean I feel like it's kind of trying to evoke other songs that I think are better. Some songs include Bad Girls, My Prerogative (I know that's from 1989) and throw in kind of generic disco sounds. The bass also reminds me at one point of Good Times. For whatever reason.
  4. Liberation: As much as I feel this should be looked at as campy and just clearly a pro-gay song, I can't help but want to chant along. It's also pretty hilarious when in context of the film, but when not its kind of a fun song. I mean it's very very very heavy handed, but I don't care. I mean this isn't I Am What I Am. Also there is some nice guitar in this song that I didn't think I'd hear in a disco tune. Tasty. I also like the dual guitars in the song. This is like a sort of good bad. Like I roll my eyes when I hear this, but I feel like there is a possibility it could be kind of good. Not like the title track, but like, it's not the worst thing I've ever heard and it's far better than the last two songs. And also has more potential.
  5. Magic Night: This is such a happy song, this is one of two songs I bet will be stuck in your head. It's funny how simple the words are, but how infectious this song truly is. It's the kind of infectious that you only get from innocence, or ignorance (on part of the performer). Who cares, it's great and makes me want to dance and got some nice four on the floor. Thought, I don't think the drums sound that good... but that could just be the MP3. I could hear someone saying it sounds sped up, and when you pay deep attention it kind of feels a bit sped up, but when you just hear it without that it doesn't. But then again I could be a bit buzzed and that's why it feels a bit sped up, at the end of the day it's fun, dance-to-able and memorable. Nice disco tune, and nice guitar licks.
  6. The Sound of the City by David London: If anything this reminds me, vocally, of Elton John. Seriously, this sounds like his vocals on Philadelphia Freedom. In fact if this was a little more orchestrated and lavish sounding I'd bet this could be Philly soul instead of disco/dance pop.  The introductions to the songs seem top be rather weak. The thing that sucks is that I remember liking this tune so much more in the context of the film instead of by it's own self. I also can't get behind the orchestra hits. It's like over use, Horrace what the fuck were you thinking. This is a disco tune, not a Bond theme. Also the tune is far too long. But really, this has too much orchestration, it doesn't really make sense to me.
  7. Milkshake: Like most of the songs in this movie, they are so stupid. This is the stupidest, but it's also by far the catchiest. It's got that same happiness in Go West, but its so stupid. If you take the corniness of the 90s kids commercials extreme, and up the anty to making milk glamorous. Also get this, not just glamorous, the exact line in the movie for what they were going for "we're going to make milk more glamorous then champagne". This plays during the commercial that attempts to do that. This also happens to be the length of at least 3 commercials, maybe 4. I don't think I can exaggerate how dumb this is. But its also one of my favorite songs on the album, and is a favorite of all time. The intro to this is so musical, the beat and vocals work great and the strings are just ON. I can't find anything wrong with this song. On its own its great, the text of the movie elevate the like-ability of it. The only down side is I wish they took the " one more time" and repeated the song again on the album. PS they don't do it once more. 
  8. Y.M.C.A.: The only real difference between this and the Crusin' version from 1978 is Ray sings this, if I'm correct. I am saying that because the vocals sound a little different. Ray does sing in a similar style as Victor, but I don't know. I really can't say anything else other than, in the film it was PG and you see a few schlongs (not counting), and its during this number. Also the girl's (1) topless too, at a part, so I guess it's even....... Kinda. Oh I also prefer the original. When I revisited it I heard more guitar in the track, but that's really the only other main difference. Also I think i hear a clavichord in this version. The charm of the original isn't really present on this version. Maybe because Ray sounds more like a homy polone than the butch that Victor was. Ray also isn't as emotional and soulful. Like this feels less energetic.
  9. I Love You to Death: This tracks sung by the Construction Worker. Now I wasn't sure if this should be highlighted or not. This is easily the most rocking song by the group I heard. It kinda of makes me think Rocky Horror meets the Flight of the Conchords' tracks Love Is Your Weapon of Choice and Demon Woman. If that sounds interesting check it out. But in the movie it sounded a little off. I couldn't figure if the vocals were off tempo, pitch or choppy or if the instrumental was one of those. It took me multiple listens to get what the hell was "off" about this track. Also, did anyone else who saw the movie think this was one of the gayest things they have ever seen. The scene, with the imaginary music video of sorts. The sort of breakdown could so be in the Rocky Horror musical. Really it would work quite well there. 
  10. Sophistication  by The Ritchie Family: This is probably the worst track in the entire movie. It's so bland, uninteresting, stereotypical disco female vocal group. It's like a bad Donna Summer's track of the time. Even though some tracks are repetitive and some are cheesy as hell, this is the least interesting and easily forgettable track here. I mean I began to tune out about 30 seconds into the singing and, the only interesting part was the woman's breasts. Seriously. 
Overall I have to give this album a 6/10. This could quite possibly be the most consistently good album released by these guys. And with that in consideration..... That kinda makes this their best record. Now when you make pop music you want a catchy song, good hook, and for it to stick with you. There is enough variety, where there isn't on past records, and futures ones also. If you watch the movie I dare you to get Milkshake, Liberation or Magic Night out of you head. It can only be done with extensive time away from it, or therapy. And still they play in your head and don't leave when you utter the titular phrases. But seriously, this record isn't half bad. And even without the other artists considered, each song by the group isn't extremely similar. They all have their distance sound and idea. There isn't nearly as much overlap musically as on Crusin', Go West, Village People and so forth. Please do me a favor and check this out if you want to just have fun.