February 2021 Music Collection Update

February was a goodun for gets. First up is Motörhead:

I needed another live show from Motörhead in my collection like a hole in my head, but 25 & Alive: Boneshaker had dropped in price on amazon to $17 moose bucks. This DVD/CD combo is from 2001 and I believe is out of print. Even though the case is a little damaged, considering the price and it not being easy to replace, I’ll be happy with it. If you’re asking how good it is? No clue. Haven’t gotten to it yet. Next, a release by some guy named Dio came in…

Holy Diver Live, in my humble opinion, is one heck of a show from Black Sabbath’s former front man. I’ve watch the performance on YouTube before deciding to grab this re-release on CD. I done did a full write up on this one right here. Speaking of Black Sabbath…

I did a full write up on Vol. 4 Super Deluxe as well. It is right here. Overall, it is not bad set but there was room for improvement. I would have preferred the added live show not be one that has been released a few times already. Next up is King’s X

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During The LeBrain Train’s King’s X episode the gang all ranked their Top 5 King’s X albums, and several from this set of five kept making appearances. So, for $20 moose bucks (or 4 per disc), it was a no brainer to grab it from amazon. While I was on the site, I quickly checked my wish list and something from Queen had received a steep price cut…

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I was able to grab Queen Rock Montreal, which more importantly includes their performance at Live Aid for $18 moose bucks. Sarah and I already have the Live Aid part on a DVD boxset but not in Blu-ray with DTS-audio! Although, I don’t know who much that matters considering the original concert footage was barely broadcasted in stereo. For the next set of items, I have Aaron over at Keeps Me Alive to blame thank. He alerted me to a new release from Strippers Union…

I had read the announcement for The Undertaking myself, but I put it on the back burner until I found time to give it a spin first. Aaron said that was a nice plan but the release was limited to only 1000 copies. Yikes! After giving the first few tunes a quick stream, I played a bit for Sarah and we both decided to order it from their website.

I had just sold a Turbo Graphx 16 game on eBay this month and had some Pay Pal money to burn, so I also grabbed their previous album from 2012 call The Deuce. When the albums arrived I was surprised to find a CD of the band’s 2005 debut Local 518 in the box. I have no idea if it was on purpose or by accident.

All three items came out to about $75 moose bucks including shipping, all covered the by the selling of that one with changed to spare. Sweet!

I’ll get to write ups for them as soon as I can but it possibly won’t be until after I’m done with The Hip releases. Speaking of Aaron, he earns another mention this month! He was kind enough to send me a copy of River Cuomos solo album Alone: The Home Recordings of Rivers Cuomo. A huge upgrade for my collection! Thanks, Buddy!

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[Boxset Review] Black Sabbath | Vol. 4 | Super Deluxe

There are two types of people in this world. Those you need to hear Black Sabbath running through Wheels of Confusion 6 times in a row and those who do not. I fall into the former category and it is people like me who this set is designed for.

Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne is my 2nd favourite band of all time and I feel the first 6 albums they created together are all essential. Vol . 4, is the 2nd album in that line up to get the “Super Deluxe” treatment, with Paranoid being the first a few years ago. Unlike Paranoid which came with two live shows and a stereo “quad mix”; Vol. 4 is loaded with two discs worth of studio outtakes and a live show that you might have already.

I opted for the CD version since I already have Vol. 4 on vinyl and I didn’t feel the need for studio outtakes in super hi fidelity. After listening to the entire box set, I’m about 85% satisfied with this decision.

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Disc one is the newly remastered Vol. 4, and I gotta say that it impressed me. I usually do find remasters of remasters to be a waste of money unless they didn’t do it right the first time, but there are exceptions. They somehow got a bit more bottom end with Tony’s guitar tone sounding thicker over the 2009 version. Don’t get me wrong, if your happy your 2009 copy, you don’t need to run out and get this. But having a version of Vol. 4 that sounds this good is a pleasant surprise.

Disc 2 and 3 are Outtakes/new mixes/alternate mixes/false starts/and studio dialogue. I can confirm that all of these are indeed on here. All are previously unreleased and have been remastered from the original analog multitrack tapes by Steve Wilson… although if they haven’t been released before, I suppose they were just mastered…

Anyway, I found the changes on the different takes to mostly be subtle with exceptions.

Exceptions like Supernaut as it is played at a slightly slower tempo and it is missing the “heavy metal samba” with Bill Ward drumming solo over the break instead. And it is noticeable how Ward toned down the drum fills on the completed product for a lot of these songs. It was fun to hear him going all out on the outtakes.

For the most part though, the tunes sound close to finished save for the lyrics. There is one version of Under the Sun that has Ozzy “da da daing” his way through it, but for the most part his lyric sound like he is making it up as he goes. Some versions of Wheels of Confusion on here had me appreciating the finish product.

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Disc 4 is a live disc that is complied from a couple of UK shows in 1973. It was partly released before as Live At Last in 1980, but the audio has been cleaned up and the set list is better intact. You get a bunch of tunes from Vol. 4, several classics like War Pigs and Children of the Grave and a pre Sabbath Bloody Sabbath version of Killing Yourself to Live. I even enjoyed Bill Ward’s drum solo on this and I usually get bored when listening to drum solos without a visual aid. Maybe I’m becoming a Bill Ward fanboy!

I like how each member of the band gets the yellow/orange shadow treatment.

As for the packaging, each CD is given one of those mock LP cardboard sleeves with an anti static sheet like you bought this set in the ’80s. A hard cover book is also included with plenty of photos and words to entertain you. I particularly enjoyed the photos of the sleeve you’d get with the singles back in the ’70s. And finally you get a poster that the collector in me will never be able to hang.

The anti static sheet does keep the CD from rubbing against the cardboard.

Although I’m a little disappointed that Vol 4 Super Deluxe doesn’t pull back the curtains far enough on the writing process, I do like this set a lot overall. I think I would have preferred to have the studio album and the live show on vinyl with the outtakes on CD, but that is just a nit pick. The album sounds great, the live show is very good, and overall I’m thrilled to have this.

4/5

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October 2020 Music Collection Update, Part 1

October was an excellent month for adding new tunes to the collection!  I’ve been doing very well selling off video games and squirreling away the profits, but I allowed myself to spend some of the earnings on discs with music on them.  The month was so good, I decided to break them up into TWO parts!

Also, I need some time to listen to this stuff, hence the mid-November post.  It is what it is.

For part one, these are all albums I grabbed from eBay, amazon, and a online order from The Beat Goes On.  Some is new, some is used.  All were in the $10 -$15 range except for the box sets.  So, here we go:

I wanted to full some holes in my Anthrax collection and I did:

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Worship Music is from 2011 and For All Kings is from 2016.  Anthem is an EP collection of cover tunes that does include Rush’s Anthem among others. Chile On Hell is a live CD/DVD box set of a show they did in 2014, which has a crowd that is WAY in Anthrax.  A fun watch, for sure.

Fistful of Metal is their debut with their first vocalist, Neil Turbin.  Neil’s voice is not as melodic Belladonna’s, but he has a great rocks voice and wrote some solid lyrics.  I’m happy with all of these. 

Continuing with the thrash metal, I got Testament’s Titans of Creation which came out earlier this year in March.  

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I want to do a full review before the year is up as I’m sure it will make my best of 2020 list. 

I also grabbed the last Black Sabbath album I’ll need with Ozzy:

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The End is an EP of extra material from the last studio album, 13 that was originally only available to those who attended their final tour.  But it must have been reissued at some point because it wasn’t very expensive on eBay and it seems legit.

For some reason during one of my purge sessions I got rid of my Pantera CDs.  Well, I corrected that error this month: 

20201108_202330 When it comes to Pantera, the first three albums are my jam.  Although, I have turned the corner on Reinventing the Steel and may have a deluxe edition soon heading my way. 

I got three Alice Cooper albums:

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The early Greatest Hits collection has different mixes that what is on the album.  Plus, it is the one I had on cassette during my teens. 

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Deep Purple’s In Rock is staple in influencing heavy metal bands that followed it.  Just listen to it back to back with Iron Maiden’s first album for proof.  People seem to be mixed on The Who’s The Who By Numbers but I like it.  Squeeze Box is the tune causal fans will know but it has quite a few solid album tracks on it. 

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I have both of Led Zeppelin’s In Through The Out Door and Presence on vinyl already, but they’re not in the best shape.  I bought them in the ’90s when they were more for wall art.  These were dirt cheap and in nice shape, so I though why not? 

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For some reason I stopped buying Sloan albums at some point.  Another correction needed to make.  Peppermint is an early EP with some tunes that ended up on their debut album but with different mixes, so you’ll need this if you want the OGs.  I don’t have too much experience yet with Never Hear The End Of It but Parallel Play is a gem of an album.  Doesn’t get the respect it has earned! 

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Jimi Hendrix Blues was an album one of my college roommates had and I always had wanted and People, Hell & Angels is a collection of rare tracks all remastered by Eddie Kramer.  And… oops, Stone Free is a $2 mission thrift pickup that slipped in here.  Well, the tribute album is mostly “meh” but there are some gems. 

And finally, 

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I already wrote about Tom Petty’s Wildflowers & All The Rest right here.   Just thought I’d mention it again to remind people of how good it is. 

So, that is all.  That would have been enough but I had a good day at my local mission thrift last month.  So, Part Deux will feature some Paul Simon, The Beatles, and a rare Beach Boys set!  All $2 grabs  You don’t want to miss it!

[Album Review] Nativity in Black | A Tribute to Black Sabbath

As a teen in the ’90s, plenty of bands overlapped my taste in music but none did better than Black Sabbath.  They were at the top of my most-wanted list despite hearing very little from them.

All I had was a recording of their 3rd album Master of Reality my Dad dubbed onto the crappiest/cheapest brand of cassette Maxell had to offer from his original 8-track.  (I wish I had kept that recording.  I believe its crappiness helped add to the creepiness of that first listen.)  My buddy, Frank had Sabbath’s 2nd album, Paranoid on CD  (We got a huge kick out of the cover!) and Ozzy’s Tribute to Randy Rhoads on cassette that featured a few Sabbath tunes.

I was out with Frank on one of our hunts for used CDs when we found Nativity In Black – A Tribute to Black Sabbath.  We both couldn’t believe someone would trade this in! It had just come out maybe a month or two prior and was priced well over $25 at Sam’s or A&A.  And here it was for 10 or 15 bucks!

Nativity in Black covers the classic Black Sabbath material from the Ozzy Osbourne era, mostly by heavy metal bands.  The title comes from a Sabbath tune from their first album called “N.I.B.” which supposedly refers to a Black Nativity.  If you ask any of the band members though, they’ll tell you it was in reference to drummer Bill Ward’s pointy beard which they nicknamed “nib”.

NiB was a major score for us since it would allow us to spin a few Sabbath tunes we had not heard yet while discovering some bands.  We figured it was some “old dude” who traded it in.  He probably loved the originals and couldn’t stand the covers.

I used Frank as my guinea pig allowed Frank to pick up the CD since he found it or had a bit more expendable cash than I did… it was one of those two things, I’m sure.  Anyway, we did find a few other albums that day but NiB was given priority and the first album we spun as soon as we got to Frank’s.  We instantly loved… most of it.  Shortly after, I did find my own copy which I still have.  Although these tunes are ingrained into my memory, it has been a long time since I’ve listened to them.  I guess I’m now the “old dude” who sticks to the originals.

I gave NiB a spin for this write-up, so here is what I think/thought of the covers and which bands I ended up becoming a fan of.  Hate to say it but… some of which I  didn’t realize who they were until now!

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“After Forever” (originally on Master of Reality)
by Biohazard

Biohazard was a rap/metal band.  Kind of a pre-curser to Nu-Metal, but much better than that.  Their take on this tune is a bit douchey, especially the “improvised” into:

“Yo, this is Biohazard, from Brooklyn, New York,
Droppin’ some respect for the almighty Black Sabbath,
Ninty FOUR!  Mother Fuuuuuuccccckkkkaaaaaa!

lol, so bad.  But it is forgiven since they are extremely complementary to Sabbath and this version does faithfully rock.  I did buy one Biohazard CD at some point (I think it had an orange jewel case) based on their tune here, but none of stuck with me.  I traded it in or gave it away at some point.  B

“Children of the Grave” (originally on Master of Reality)
by White Zombie

White Zombie was shortly to become one of my most listened to bands from this period of time.  Astro-Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction And Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head Astro-Creep was about to be released in the spring of ’95 and would become the album of the summer for me.   This probably wasn’t the first time I heard them.  I believe “Thunderkiss ’65” from their ’92 album La-Sexoristo was floating around often enough.  But this was definitely the beginning of when I would heavily get into them.  Frank and I did see them at Copps Coliseum in the Hammer with Pantera in the summer of ’96.  (A story for another post.) A+

“Paranoid” (originally on Paranoid)
by Megadeth

I thought this rocked then and I still do now!  At the time Megadeth was probably the most recognizable metal band that wasn’t named Metallica (At least in my circle of the world).  People cooled heavily on them after Countdown to Extinction and the initial hype for Youthanasia fizzled out.  NiB came out right between those two mammoth (For the time, anyway) releases.

Their straight forward take on Sabbath’s most well-known tune does it justice and the fun ending is the icing on the cake.  (Listen to it for yourself!  My explanation would only ruin it.)  This earned Megadeth a Grammy nomination in 1995 for ‘Best Metal Performance’.  A, A+ with the ending

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Love how every tune got its own artwork and quote from a band member.  Probably part of the reason why the dang thing was so expensive.

“Supernaut” (originally on Black Sabbath, Vol. 4)
by 1,000 Homo DJs with Al Jourgensen

1,000 Homo DJs is a band I had never heard from again…. and geez, that name isn’t exactly PC by today’s standards.  Unless they mean homo sapiens.  If so, it is just a weird attention grabber.

I had no idea how they are actually a side project for industrial music pioneers Ministry until I looked them up for this post.  I thought Al Jourgensen from Ministry was collaborating with them.  If you look at the wording on the cover, you could see how I thought this.  This was the first time I heard any version “Supernaut” and I liked it then.  Now, with the original to compare it to, I still like it.  Fits the time, not a bad at all.  As for Ministry, I really only like this and their Psalms69 album.  B+

“Iron Man” (originally on Paranoid)
by Ozzy Osbourne with Therapy?

I never did follow up on Therapy? since this cover didn’t impress me.  The backing vocals are weak and the first lead solo is a repeated bending of one string, while the second solo is skipped.  They just hammer on the chords instead.  Even though the cover is solid enough; I believe most of it has to do with Ozzy’s involvement.  It’s fine but just fine.  B-

“Lord of This World” (originally on Master of Reality)
by Corrosion of Conformity

Oh yeah, this was my gateway drug to the sludgy groove of “COC”.  At least the albums with Pepper Keenan.  “Lord of This World” was the perfect tune for them to cover since their style derives from Sabbath tunes like “Lord of This World”.  As of today, my collection is only missing one COC+Pepper album.  A++

“Symptom of the Universe” originally on Sabotage
by Sepultura

This was my first time hearing “Symptom” and wow, I fell in love with this tune.  I have mad respect for Sepultura and their excellent job with covering one of Sabbath’s heaviest tunes.  The way they handled the song’s Latin grooved second half was brilliant.  It fit their style while being faithful to the original.  I did try out one of their more popular albums, Chaos A.D. at some point but the vocal styling wasn’t really for me.  I am a fan of their work here, however.  A+

“The Wizard” (originally on Black Sabbath)
by Bullring Brummies

So, I type in Bullring Brummies into google asking “Where did these guys go?”  They introduced me to “The Wizard” and I never heard from them again.  Well, I had to do a double-take at the CD’s cover when reading their wiki page.  At the time I had no idea who Rob Halford was and didn’t know he was on lead vocals until right now.  In my defense, he hides his melodic tone behind some mighty distortion.  A bit of a trend for the time.

Bullring Brummies fun facts!: 

  • Band members include Black Sabbath’s bassist Geezer Butler, drummer Bill Ward, and Judas Priest’s vocalist Rob Halford who formed just to record for this album.
  • Sabbath’s guitarist Tony Iommi was supposed to be involved but could not record with them while signed to his then-current label.
  • Iommi assumed the recording of “The Wizard” was DOA after his involvement fell through.
  • Iommi was caught off guard to see a Bullring Brummies version of “The Wizard” included NiB with some dude named “Wino” replacing him.
  • The fallout from this discovery was enough to cause Geezer to leave Sabbath for the umpteenth time.

This album had a direct effect on the band!  Love it!  Anyway, like 1,000 Homo DJs I thought Bullring Brummies was a band who Geezer and Ward were collaborating with.  Well, this is a solid take on “The Wizard” considering only half of this band is “covering” Sabbath.  Too bad how it is unlikely that the Bullring Brummies will ever record again.  It probably would have earned an A+ from me if Halford sang like Halford. A-

“Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” (originally on Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.)
by Bruce Dickinson with Godspeed

Whole-Lee-Cow!  OK, let me get Godspeed out of the way before I gush over Dickinson.  I never follow up on them until now.  Apparently, they formed in the early ’90s, went on two high profile tours opening for Sabbath and Dio to support one album called Ride.  They then broke up shortly after, and until recently (within the last five years) reunited.  I gave Ride a spin on Spotify and its pretty good.  It gets a little filler-y towards the end, but I dig the groove.  Adding to my CD wishlist.  Their ringleader Chris Kosnik started another band called The Atomic Bitchwax.  Wow, I love that name.  A lot to follow up on here!

As for Bruce, this was the first time I heard what I consider to be the best voice in metal, period.  I was still a couple of years away from a rocky introduction to Iron Maiden (another story for another time) but I was immediately a fan of Bruce’s voice here.  This might be the best song on the album.  If you plan on only listening to one tune from this album, make this the one! A+++

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“N.I.B.” (originally on Black Sabbath)
by Ugly Kid Joe

UKJ can come off really douchey at times, but they can be charming while doing it.  They’re almost a parody of an ’80s sunset strip hairband.  Their biggest song “Everything About You” was already all over the place (including Wayne’s World) and I’m positive I had their first LP, America’s Least Wanted already.  Their cover of N.I.B. is OK.  Probably the best they could do.  They lose points from me by ignoring the Geezer Bulter classic “Bassically” intro.  The song just isn’t the same without it.  C+

“War Pigs (Live)” (originally on Paranoid)
by Faith No More

I know people love them but I could never get into this band.  We certainly started off on the wrong foot with this embarrassing cover of “War Pigs”.  I thought it was terrible then and still do today.  They rush through the heavier parts (NOT play it faster, rush through it!) while the lead singer “blah, blah, blahs” his way through the lyrics.  There is NO respect for the song.  Apparently, this was lifted from one of their live albums as “War Pigs” was a regular in their setlists.  I don’t know, sounds to me like they have never even heard of the song before, let alone played it.  F—–

“Black Sabbath” (originally on Black Sabbath)
by Type O Negative

I respect Type O ‘s cover.  They showed up.  Covered the song in their style without taking any shortcuts.  Both UKJ and Faith No More should copy their notes.  With that said, nothing about it does anything for me.  It’s just not my jam.  So much so, I recuse myself from giving it a score with respect. NA

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Those clear plastic pitons in jewel cases to hold the CDs in place were pretty shite, weren’t they?

There is a Nativity in Black II that came out in 2000.  I didn’t get into it then, but I did give it a listen on YouTube just now (there is no official or complete version of Spotify).  I don’t know why I previously passed on it because most of it is decent. Since they are asking an arm and leg for it on eBay and Discogs, I’ll have to keep an eye out for it at the thrifts.  Added to the CD wishlist.