Author: Scott Fendley

Mayhem – De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

ARTIST: Mayhem 

TITLE: De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas

YEAR RELEASED: 1994

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Well, probably now thanks to documentaries and books and such

LINEUP: Atilla Csihar, Euronymous, Count Grisnackh, Hellhammer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Infamous Norwegian black metal album featuring a murderer and his victim.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mayhem caused same in Norway in the 90’s, with a suicide (a photo of the aftermath later became an album cover), a link to church burnings, and well, murder. Count Grisnackh (Varg Vikiernes) stabbed bassist Euronymous (Oystein Aarseth) during a dispute. They put the album out that they recorded anyway, because, metal.

As for the music, it’s an influential black metal album with creepy distorted vocals from Atilla Csihar (formerly of Tormentor), and sheets and sheets of riffs from Euronymous. Hellhammer (Jan Axel Blomberg) drums in the usual double-kick fashion. The drawback is that the songs are long, and don’t go much of anywhere.

I can see why this is influential despite the notoriety – the riffs are mega-normous and the basswork from Vikiernes is stellar. But, it seems like it’s all one song.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The original singer of the band, who went by Dead, killed himself. Along with the photo, Euronymous took pieces of his skull and made necklaces for the members of the scene. That’s metal, man.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B: Individually, the songs work, but they just bend together. I EXILED it because it’s just too too same same.

Roger Miller – All Time Greatest Hits

ARTIST: Roger Miller 

TITLE: All Time Greatest Hits

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 10: Dang Me (#7 US, #1 Country), Chug-A-Lug (#9 US, #3 Country), King of the Road (#4 US, #1 Country, #1 UK), Engine Engine #9 (#7 US, #2 Country, #33 UK), One Dyin’ and a Buryin’ (#10 Country, #34 US), Kansas City Star (#31 US, #7 Country, #48 UK), England Swings (#8 US, #3 Country, #13 UK), Husbands and Wives (#26 US, #5 Country), Walkin’ in the Sunshine (#37 US, #7 Country), Little Green Apples (#39 US, #6 Country)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd, My Unlce Used to Love Me but She Died, Do Wacka Do

LINEUP: Roger Miller, Buddy Harman, Bob Moore, Ray Edenton and others

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Collection of the memorable hits from the country songwriter and funnyman.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Roger Miller not only was a major country personality, he was a songwriter that penned most of his own tracks and established a legacy with “King of the Road”.

In the mid-to-late 60’s, his songs were all over the radio, and he was a major television personality on variety and game shows, which led to acting roles and even work in Broadway later in life. For all that, he’s most remembered for his hits in 1964 and 1965.

He wanted to be a serious songwriter along with his funny stuff, but aside from “King of the Road” they weren’t as successful. Miller’s legacy is the funny stuff that kids loved, and a song about hobos.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: His original session lasted two days in 1964 and resulted in 1 ½ albums of material.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but there are other collections.

 GRADE B: You picks and chooses, but the funny stuff is his best.

 

Deep Purple – Shades of Deep Purple

ARTIST: Deep Purple 

TITLE: Shades of Deep Purple

YEAR RELEASED: 1968

CHART ACTION: #24

SINGLES: Hush (#4 US, #58 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover Help and Hey Joe

LINEUP: Rod Evans, Jon Lord, Ritchie Blackmore, Ian Paice, Nick Simper

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album from heavy psychedelic band features lots o’noodlin’.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: After a short time together, Deep Purple entered the studio and put down the tracks for their debut record, and hit the jackpot in the US with their cover of the Joe South song “Hush”. But a telling sign was that half of the eight songs were covers, and “Mandrake Root” stole a lot from Jimi Hendrix.

Rod Evans was the singer at this point, and while he did OK he didn’t seem to mesh very well with the style at times, especially when the band slowed down and jammed. And did they jam. With just a few songs in their repertoire they made sure they filled the time, mostly by noodling from Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore.

Their version of “Help” is almost a dirge and mostly pointless, “Hey Joe” had been done to death by now, and the ballads are flat. There’s just a few tracks worth saving here, but it’s worth at least a listen to the rest of it aside from “Hush”.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The band a rocky beginning with the former Searchers drummer Chris Curtis coming up with the genesis of the band, but falling disinterested as the band then searched for a singer, drummer, and bassist.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, an outtake and other incidentals.

 GRADE C-: “Hush” is great. About half the album is worth saving.

Ozzy Osbourne – Diary of a Madman

ARTIST: Ozzy Osbourne

TITLE: Diary of a Madman

YEAR RELEASED: 1981

CHART ACTION: #16 US, #14 UK

SINGLES: Tonight, Flying High Again (#2 Mainstream), Over the Mountain (#38 Mainstream)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Ozzy Osbourne, Randy Rhoads, Bob Daisley, Lee Kerslake, Johnny Cook on keyboards.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Ozzy’s second album as a solo artist utilizes the strengths of his band and shows his creative juices weren’t spent after his first solo album.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Showing that the Blizzard of Ozz wasn’t a fluke, Diary of a Madman continues his creative roll. Utilizing the talents of Randy Rhoads’ flashy guitar, Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake as lyricists and songwriting foils, and his ability to get convincingly deep inside his Ozzy character, Osbourne creates another record worthy of his legacy.

Rhoads comes into his own here, propelling many of the songs with his guitar and his sound. Even potentially trite ballads like “You Can’t Kill Rock & Roll” shine with his drive and sound.

The downfall of this album is that the songs, while good to great, go on too long. There were only eight of ‘em, and I know you gotta fill an album, but why not write a ninth to cut down on some of the length so it doesn’t sound too bloated?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Again, Sharon Osborne reared her head, withholding credits and firing Bob Daisley and Lee Kerslake after this album was in the can. On the original releases, the only people credited properly were Ozzy and Randy

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: As with his debut, the 2002 remaster replaces Daisley and Kerslake out of spite. Avoid.

 GRADE B+: Had the songs been tighter, it would have been an easy A-.

Stellastarr* – Harmonies for the Haunted

ARTIST: Stellastarr*

TITLE: Harmonies for the Haunted

YEAR RELEASED: 2005

CHART ACTION: #12 Heatseeker

SINGLES: Sweet Troubled Soul (#37 Dance)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Arthur Kremer, Shawn Christensen, Amanda Tannen, Michael Jurin

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from NY band finds them in a more dance-oriented mood rhythmically, but still has a foot into the alt-rock scene.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Perhaps taking a nod from the trends in NYC happening at the time (with Interpol and the Rapture), Stellastarr moved themselves toward a dance-oriented rhythm, while still blasting guitars out to the fore, and singer Shawn Christensen still over-singing a bit. His enunciation on the pre-chorus to “The Diver” is cringe-worthy for sure.

What this album has is “Sweet Troubled Soul”, an all-timer of a track and head-and-shoulders above everything on this record. The other tracks are OK, but without that track the album would just be a trend-hopping exercise by a band that never really knew what it wanted to be anyway.

Still, “Sweet Troubled Soul” is worthwhile and the other tracks are decent enough to keep. So, one track saves the day.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album was first issued with the blasted Media Max software that kept legit buyers from ripping a copy for their iPod.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but the copies streaming now don’t have the hidden track. So an anti-deluxe?

GRADE B+: It’s really a regression with one track pumping the grade up two notches.

Candlemass – Nightfall

ARTIST: Candlemass

TITLE: Nightfall

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Samarthin, At the Gallows End

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Bewitched, The Well of Souls

LINEUP: Messiah Marcolin, Lars Johansson, Mats Bjorkman, Leif Edling, Jan Lindh. Mike Wead helped as well.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Finding their vocalist, Candlemass releases a classic Swedish doom metal record.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It didn’t take long for Messiah Marcolin to make his mark with Candlemass. The first verse of “Well of Souls” showed his power, range, and dramatics. Coupled with classic doom metal riffs, the stage was set for a doom metal classic.

Bassist Leif Edling’s songs improved from their first record as well, and the tight playing of the band, veering from pure doomy sludge to taut thrash. “The Well of Souls” was an instant classic (though not a single, for whatever reason).

The rest of the songs suffer a bit by comparison to the outstanding beginning, and there are some instrumentals to set the mood between songs (which is fine, really). The whole album coheres and it’s great for anyone who wants some dramatic doom in their life. And who doesn’t?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Guitarist Lars Johansson broke his arm and was replaced for a few tracks by Mike Wead. Wead joined Candlemass in the 90’s.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Demos and live tracks.

 GRADE A-: Just listen to the glory of “The Well of Souls”

Big Brother and the Holding Company – Big Brother and the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin

ARTIST: Big Brother and the Holding Company   

TITLE: Big Brother and the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin

YEAR RELEASED: 1967

CHART ACTION: #60, #28 R&B

SINGLES: Bye Bye Baby (#118), Down on Me (#43), Blindman (#110), Coo Coo (#84)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubtful that you have, really.

LINEUP: Janis Joplin, Peter Albin, Sam Andrew, David Getz, James Gurley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A rushed debut recorded before they (and Janis Joplin) hit it big at Monterrey. Eh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Say what you want about Janis Joplin (me, I think she’s overrated, but that’s just me again), she deserved better than this band and this album.

There are flashes on goodness here. “Intruder” is first rate, and “Down on Me” would become a staple for her in her career. But the band here falters in both material (the originals, and even Joplin’s originals are meh), and performance (they really should have just picked songs that highlighted Janis). It’s also very skimpy – 23 minutes on first release.

If she didn’t wow the audiences wherever they played live, and then had a cult build around her, this would be a forgotten footnote.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded two tracks in Chicago, then ten others in three days in LA. It sounds rushed for sure.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Originally 10 tracks on Mainstream – when Columbia picked it up they added two sides of a single and ramped the running time to 28:03! Score!

GRADE C-: For diehards. For the diehards of the diehards.

Three Dog Night – Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story

ARTIST: Three Dog Night 

TITLE: Celebrate: The Three Dog Night Story

YEAR RELEASED: Compilation

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Top 10: One (#5 US), Easy to Be Hard (#4 US), Eli’s Coming (#10 US), Mama Told Me Not to Come (#1 US, #3 UK), Joy to the World (#1 US, #24 UK), Liar (#7 US), An Old Fashioned Love Song (#4 US), Never Been to Spain (#5 US), Black and White (#1 US), Shambala (#3 US0, The Show Must Go On (#4 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Celebrate (#15 US), Try a Little Tenderness (#29 US) Sure As I’m Sittin’ Here (#16 US)

LINEUP: Chuck Negron, Danny Hutton, Cory Wells. The band usually was Jimmy Greenspoon, Floyd Sneed, Joe Schermie, and Michael Allsup

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Titanic hit makers in the late 60’s and early 70’s are featured in a pretty comprehensive collection, for better or worse.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Three Dog Night’s reign as a band that everyone could like (hippies, squares, and their parents) went from 1969 through 1974, with a top 5 record in each of those years. They had a tight band and a unique vocal blend, and they and their producers found great songs from unknown (and later known) songwriters.

Yet they were true singles artists. I don’t think they tried to just do hits + filler – but it seemed that the songs not chosen to be singles were definitely of lesser quality, and the originals (mostly instrumentals) were just…there. So a compilation is definitely the way to go. This one finds early material from Danny Hutton and Cory Wells, as well as a track when they were Brian Wilson’s protégés as Redwood.

Three Dog Night’s weaknesses (a bit bombastic, a bit rote in some arrangements) also come to fore in a long collection. There’s also some diminishing returns (drug abuse and staleness really laid the band out after 1972). Yet you can’t deny that when they were on, they made memorable hits and were a powerful, and uniting, commercial force.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Danny Hutton’s son was the tour drummer for Haim until 2017.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A-: It may seem long for a casual fan (43 tracks), but it’s probably the best kind of overview for a band like this. All of the hits are here, and then people can pick and those the deep cuts they like.

 

Brave Belt – Brave Belt

ARTIST: Brave Belt  R-6067485-1410234025-6141.jpeg

TITLE: Brave Belt

YEAR RELEASED: 1971

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Rock and Roll Band, Crazy Arms Crazy Eyes

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not unless you were in Canada in 1971 or so

LINEUP: Randy Bachman, Chad Allan, Rob Bachman. C. F. Turner, not a member yet, sings backup a couple of times.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After leaving the Guess Who, Randy Bachman joins with former Guess Who singer Chad Allan and his brother Rob to form a country-tinged band based in Winnipeg.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Fans still shocked about Randy Bachman leaving the Guess Who were also surprised when he formed Brave Belt with his brother as the drummer and the former lead singer of the Guess Who, Chad Allan.

More shock came to fans when the band was more of a country-rock flavored outfit than the harder edged Guess Who.

There are some rockers here for sure. But Allan was turning more toward a country-folk sound with his songs. Randy Bachman was also singing in his gentle falsetto. This was a transitional band, as Bachman was finding his bearings after leaving the hit machine of the Guess Who. It’s not that exciting, but it’s interesting as a minor point of rock history.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: C. F. Turner joined as the bass player after the basic tracks (Randy Bachman played the bass) but did sing backup on a few tracks.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE B-: Most of the songs are OK. They are well played, of course, thanks to Randy Bachman’s virtuosity. But you can take this or leave it.

Scorpions – Tokyo Tapes

ARTIST: The Scorpions

TITLE: Tokyo Tapes

YEAR RELEASED: 1978

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: All Night Long

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Maybe, if you’re a fan of early Scorps

LINEUP: Klaus Meine, Uli Jon Roth, Rudolf Schenker, Francis Buchholz, Herman Raraebell

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Capping the Uli Jon Roth album with a double live in front of an adoring fan base in Japan, the Scorps play their hits, and indulge in double-live album excesses. It was the 70’s.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The double live album. What would rock fans in the 70’s do without it? This one is perfect to check out the various Scorpions’ 70’s tracks that are scattered over several compilations.

The Scorpions iteration with Uli Jon Roth was a little more arty as Roth liked to extend songs with guitar solos. The bad news is that Roth also sang a few tracks, and he’s no Klaus Meine. Not even close. His vocals kill “Polar Nights”, but dang he can play.

There are some indulgences (of course), including two covers of old rock songs and an old Japanese song, along with a lot of soloing (including a drum solo in “Top of the Bill”). Still, this is a prime collection of 70’s Scorpions.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The first re-issue of the CD left off “Polar Nights” since they wanted it on one disc.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, they restored “Polar Nights” and added more live tracks, including the Japanese anthem and four repeat tracks from another show.

 GRADE B: It’s a 70’s live double, so it is long and indulgent. But it’s still a good overview and the playing is great.