Showing posts with label Classic Rock Album Review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classic Rock Album Review. Show all posts

Queen I Review

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“A Queen is Born”

Album: Queen I 
Artist:  Queen
Released: 1973
Producer: John Anthony, Roy Baker and Queen
Label: EMI

The Band:
Freddie Mercury Vocals, Piano
Brian May Guitars, Vocals, Piano
John Deacon Bass
Roger Taylor Drums, Percussion, Vocals

Songs: Keep Yourself Alive, Doing All Right, Great King Rat, My Fairy King, Liar, The Night Comes Down, Modern Times Rock & Roll, Son and Daughter, Jesus, Seven Seas of Rhye. 

Type of Music: Hard Rock/Metal/Glam Rock


If you don’t own this album, it’s quite likely that you will only know one track. All Classic Rock stations play Keep Yourself Alive regularly. I also doubt if Metal fans of bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath or even Judas Priest have ever considered listening to Queen’s debut album. In short, few people will know this album in a thorough way. 
We shall therefore try and reveal the first public performance of our beloved Queen.

In fact they were already touring for a couple of years before releasing their first album. The album took about two years to make as they could only afford to hire the studio at night at lower costs.

When I first listened to this album I was quite surprised. On the surface it appears to be a straight (Hard) Rock Album that must have inspired bands like the Scorpions, the Michael Schenker Group and others. Few songs are really bad but none of them is really great as well. 

After a second and a third listen you will appreciate however that all the ingredients that will eventually lead to A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races are already there: Brian’s guitar, Freddie’s Drama, the solid rhythm section, the complex melodies, often with Spanish and Arabic influences and the somewhat theatrically styled lyrics. And always a balance between rockers and ballads.   

So the ingredients are there to produce a great album. And the band would do so in the future. Queen’s debut album however can be compared with a rough diamond. It glitters but it still needs a lot of polishing and craftsmanship to really shine. 

On the other hand, the album has a rough enthusiasm that would disappear on future records. And that makes it an interesting listen for sure. Best songs are the ballad Doing All Right that reminds me of Yes, and My Fairy King and Liar. These last two songs clearly point in the direction of a certain Bohemian Rhapsody. 

Conclusion:  Queen’s debut album is a Hard Rocking effort with all the ingredients of future success but lacking strong melodies and hooks. And the production is extremely muddy. Be sure to get the Re-Mastered version.

Rating: Maximum Points                          

Average Song Quality                          5,50 10
Production/Sound Quality                     6,00 10
Do I want to hear it again soon?           5,50 10

Who should buy this Record: Only For Queen Fanatics and Hard Rock/Metal freaks.
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Stephen Stills I Review

Songs: Love The One You´re With, Do For The Others, Church (Part of Someone), Old Times Good Times, Go Back Home, Sit Yourself Down,
To A Flame, Black Queen, Cherokee, We Are Not Helpless.

Type of Music: Late Sixties Country-Rock/Folk

Some of my all time favourite music was created by David Crosby, Graham Nash, Neil Young and Stephen Stills, not necessarily in that order. With the possible exception of Neil Young I usually found that the combined musical strength of these four produced better results than their individual efforts. Not unlike say the Beatles.
That does not mean that Stephen Still´s first solo Album is not worth listening to. In 1967-1970 he had certainly been the driving force behind Crosby Stills Nash (& Young). His Bruce Springsteen alike No Non-Sense attitude is apparent on this Album. It was still 1970, and free love, protest and reflections on life in general were hot items. Some of the lyrics are therefore outdated by now.
As for the music I strongly suspect that Stephen is a perfectionist. He must have spend hours in the studio building layer upon layer, using organ, a gospel choir and overdub.
Sometimes it works like in the well-known single Love The One You´re With and Old Times Good Times that features Jimi Hendrix on guitar. But songs like Church (Part of Someone), We Are Not Helpless and, to a lesser extend, Sit Yourself Down suffer under this burden.
But Stephen´s more intimate songs like the probable Crosby/Stills/Nash left-over Do For The Others, the country-blues Black Queen, that shows that Stephen is vastly underrated as a guitar player and the jazzy Cherokee are certainly worth listening to.           

Who should buy this Record: Stephen would issue a number of solo albums in the Seventies. None would come close to this effort.Therefore if you like Stephen Stills, this is the one to go for.

Rating: *******1/2 (7 1/2 out of 10)

Green = Excellent Songs
Black = Good Songs
Red = Could Be Better

Crosby and Nash - Another Stoney Evening Review

Songs: Déjà Vu, Wooden Ships, Man in the Mirror, Orleans, Used To Be a King, Traction in the Rain, Lee Shore, Southbound Train, Laughing, Triad, Where Will I Be, Strangers Room, Immigration Man, Guinevere, Teach your Children.

Type of Music: Folk/Pop/Country (1971)


After Crosby Stills Nash & Young broke up, buddies Crosby and Nash teamed up for a series of acoustic concerts. Just two acoustic guitars, a piano and their voices. And it works out just fine.

Yes, they are stoned. David´s real flew is probably contained by hash as suggested here by Graham when he refers to David´s Lebanese Flew. But they are in full control, something that can not be said from the even more stoned public. That becomes very clear when they try to clap along in Teach Your Children. They fail completely and David´s  reaction is extremely funny: “ I know you are moved, but you got to be moved in time”.

The Song List is predictable with work from their solo albums and Graham´s best songs from the CSNY period.

The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed. They really come over as good friends and their voices match beautifully although Graham is out of tune a couple of times. But they cover up those moments brilliantly.

The absolute Highpoint is David´s Where will I be, a moving song about his soul mate Christine, killed in a car accident. The versions of Déjà Vu  and Lee Shore are great as well.
But there are no real weak moments here except the before mentioned Teach your Children. Personally I don´t like those  Hello Audience won´t you sing along songs. It´s nice when you are at the concert I´m sure. But on record it´s irritating. That´s the only complaint however.
So what are you waiting for? Light the open fire, open a bottle of wine and enjoy Another Stoney Evening.   

Rating: ********(8 out of 10)

Black = Good Songs
Green = Great Songs
Red = Could Be Better

Who should buy this Record:  A very pleasant album for a romantic evening. The songs are good and the atmosphere and sound quality are excellent. 

Neil Young - Harvest - Review

This is a difficult Album for me to review. Everybody knows most of the songs well and they still get a lot of airplay. They are sort of okay I guess but still... ! Neil and his band the Stray Gators go commercial here. Everything sounds smooth and polished and the public loved it. Both the Album and the single Heart of Gold (with Back-Up vocals from James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt) went to # 1 in the Billboard Hot 100 in 1972. And Heart of Gold  part II called Old Man also reached the Top 100. So the public loved it and much later Neil even told the press that Harvest was his best Album. But is it and did Neil really mean what he said? And what does a die-hard Neil Young fan like myself makes of this Album?
It´s mainly a country album with tunes like Out in the Country and Harvest. And they are quite nice actually. There are also two songs with the participation of the London Symphony Orchestra, namely A Man Needs a Maid and There´s a World. I´ve always cared for the words of the latter song but the arrangements are sweeter than Brazilian Sugar. Both Alabama with backing vocals from Stills & Crosby and the drugged out jam Words (Between the lines of Age) with backing vocals by Stills & Nash sound like Southern Man rip-offs.

All songs are written by Neil and they deal with a lot of his problems. With women, with drugs, with getting old. Don´t we all? Get old I mean.
Everybody knows The Needle and the Damage Done but listen once more to Till the Morning Comes on the Gold Rush album and tell me it´s not basically the same song. The whole album sounds a bit tired. Neil´s back problems at the time might have influenced that.

To me Harvest is the main stream version of After the Gold Rush. It worked commercially. It failed artistically in my opinion. Neil never recorded an album like this again. Even Harvest Moon, recorded some 25 years later sounds more authentic. But that´s still in the future.
In the present only Are You Ready For the Country holds the promise of Tonight´s the Night.
So yeah, most people will probably like Harvest but it is certainly not Neil's best album and although it's not bad, it ain´t my favourite!    

Songs: Out in the Weekend, Harvest, A Man Needs a Maid, Heart of Gold, Are You Ready for the Country, Old Man, There´s a World, Alabama, The Needle and the Damage Done, Words (Between the Lines of Age)

Type of Music: Mainstream Country(Rock)/Folk/Pop

Rating: ******* (7 out of 10)

Black = Good Songs
Green = Great Songs
Red = Could Be Better

Who should buy this Record: Everybody that likes Heart of Gold probably already owns the Album. It´s not really essential though.

Tusk - Fleetwood Mac - 1979

Songs: Over & Over, The Ledge, Think About Me, Save Me A Place, Sara, What Makes You Think You´re The One, Storms, That´s All For Everyone, Not That Funny, Sisters Of The Moon, Angel, That´s Enough For Me, Brown Eyes, Never Make Me Cry, I Know I´m Not Wrong, Honey Hi, Beautiful Child, Walk A Thin Line, Tusk, Never Forget.

Type of Music: Mixture of New Wave and Pop-Rock.


After the overwhelming success of Rumours the Mac went back to the studio to stop and think. I´m sure that Lindsey took the lead. He must have told the others something in the line of “ Whatever we´re gonna do, it´s not gonna be a Rumours part II”. I´m not so sure if the others agreed right away. Whatever time it took to resolve the issue is not known. It is known however that it took almost 2 years and a lot of cash to record their new album that was released in 1979.   

Tusk is the name of the record. It´s a double album but actually it´s not. What we have here is Lindsey´s Solo Album that consists of 9 short rather experimental New Wave type of songs , some of them recorded in one of the back rooms of his House.
I can clearly see the faces of the other members of the Mac when Lindsey presented them his new songs. They probably said something like “That´s all very nice Lindsey Boy but who´s gonna buy this rather different material? “ .
Of course Lindsey stood behind his songs and in the end the group decided to “ hide “ Lindsey´s songs between the more conservative material written by Christine and Stevie. This way, they must have thought, both our audience and our artistic leader should be satisfied.

The public reacted more positive than Warner Brothers expected but Tusk´s sales came nowhere near those of Rumours  and the Album only boosted a few rather low scoring hit singles. The best of them is the Album´s Title track recorded live at the Dodger Stadium and featuring the Southern California Trojan Marching band.

So far as history is concerned. Let´s look at the actual music now. For sure Lindsey´s songs show original ideas. Sometimes that works fine like in That´s All For Everyone and Not That Funny. For sure they indicate a possible direction of future Solo and Mac material. But in other cases I'm less impressed. Songs like That´s Enough For Me and a few others are too raw to be really enjoyed.
Christine´s songs are as pleasant as always. They do not match her songs on Rumours in terms of hooks but they have won in terms of smoothness and fluency.
For me it´s Stevie however who steels the show here and sets the basic mood for the Album. Everyone knows the classic Sara. But everyone should know Beautiful Child , Stevie´s favourite song that she performed Live during the Say You Will tour.
Stevie is also responsible for the haunting Sisters of the Moon, a song that I view among the best that Tusk has to offer.

Many times, Tusk has been compared to the White Album as it contains a number of different musical styles. I wouldn´t go that far. But for sure it is the last Mac record for some time to come that sounds as a Group statement rather than a collection of songs performed by the individual parts. It´s not an easy record if you listen to it for the first time. But it ages well like all good wine.           

Rating: *******( 7 out of 10)
Black = Good Songs
Green = Great Songs
Red = Could Be Better

Who should buy this Record:  It´s not the place to start your Fleetwood Mac collection. But if you dig the Mac, you will find Tusk a more than rewarding listen. It´s difficult to find sometimes and it´s never cheap.  

Asia - Alpha Review

Songs: Don´t Cry, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, Never in a Million Years, My Own Time (I´ll Do What I Want), The Heat Goes On, Eye to Eye, The Last to Know, True Colors, Midnight Sun, Open Your Eyes.

Type of Music: Industrial Eighties Prog Power Rock

This so-called Super Group (It did have Steve Howe & Carl Palmer mind you) was formed in 1981 and had a huge success in 1982 with the debut album that sold over nine million copies, went to # 1 in the Billboard Album Top 100 and contained the well known Hit Singles Heat of the Moment and Only Time will Tell.

This is the follow up that was released less than a year later. A Rush Job it seems in order to continue the success. It was not to be. The sales lacked behind and Don´t Cry and The Smile Has Left Your Eyes were only minor single hits. All songs on the album were written by Downes and Wetton, probably the reason why Steve Howe left the band about a year later.

Did I tell you about the music already? I didn´t. That´s because I don´t like this stuff at all. Alpha is a mix of Prog Power Rockers and Prog Power Ballads performed by a second hand Styx.
Did I tell you about the production already? I didn´t. That´s because I don´t like the production at all. Too much attention for keyboards and vocals and too little for guitar and drums. Typical Eighties crap.
Did I tell you about the songs already? I didn´t. That´s because I don´t like the songs at all. Way too Generic. Not one song caught my special attention.
Did I tell you that you should not buy this CD? I didn´t but I´m doing it now!!!!!!!! 

Rating: **** (4 out of 10)

Black = Good Songs
Green = Great Songs
Red = Could Be Better (Should be better in this case!)

Tony Joe White Album Review (1971)

Songs: They Caught The Devil And Put Him In Jail In Eudora Arkansas, The Change, My Kind of Woman, The Daddy, Black Panther Swamps, Five Summers For Jimmy, A Night In The Life Of A Swamp Fox, Traveling Bone, I Just Walked Away, Copper Kettle (The Pale Moonlight), Voodoo Village. 

All songs written by Tony Joe White.

Type of Music: Swamp-Rock/Soul Ballads

This is Tony Joe´s third album and his first for Warner Brothers. His first two albums for Monument Records were rough and (swamp)rocking but Warner Brothers coupled him to British producer Peter Asher who had just produced James Taylor.

As a result, this album is of the Singer/Songwriter type, combining Tony Joe´s Swamp Rock with soulful Ballads. The album has a pleasant flow and there are no really weak songs to break the rhythm. Tony Joe White would go on and use this concept for many years to come.

Personally I prefer the Swamp-Rockers here, especially, They caught the Devil…., Black Panther Swamps and A Night in the Life of a Swamp Fox.
They are just great fun and it´s difficult to sit still while listening.

But some of the ballads are good as well, especially The Change, a theme that returned in many songs in the late sixties/early seventies. Bob Dylan started it all with The Times They Are A-Changing. And the Father and Son problems are adequately addressed in The Daddy. All fathers and sons with problems should listen to this song at least once a month! And I Just Walked Away sounds thoroughly sad.

In short, this is a nicely balanced album with good songs and a great voice! The Kind of Album I can safely recommend to everybody.  

Rating: ********( 8 out of 10)
Black = Good Songs
Green = Great Songs
Red = Could Be Better

Fleetwood Mac The Dance Classic Rock Album Review

Songs:  The Chain, Dreams, Everywhere, Rhiannon, I´m So Afraid, Temporary One, Bleed To Love Her, Big Love, Landslide, Say You Love Me, My Little Demon, Silver Springs, You Make Loving Fun, Sweet Girl, Go Your Own Way, Tusk, Don´t Stop. 

Type of Music: Pop(Rock) - Produced by Lindsey Buckingham and Elliot Schreiner - (1997)

If I remember correctly, Ex-President Clinton´s favourite band is Fleetwood Mac and Bill invited the band to play Don´t Stop during his inauguration. The song, like many others, was used frequently during the pre-election period by the Clinton campaign people. That was the first physical contact between the five members after Lindsey left the band in 1987.

At the same time, Lindsey was working on a solo-album and invited Mick Fleetwood to play some drums. Mick then suggested John to play bass and before long the whole Rumours line-up was working together in the studio again on some new songs. And boy, did it feel good!! Next step was a 40 gig tour around the USA and a Live CD/DVD. The Project was called The Dance.

It goes without saying that commercial reasons played a part in this reunion. After all, none of the solo careers was really blossoming around 1997. But The Dance is much more than just another Live Greatest CD where bored Old Stars try to revive the past.

Sure, the hits are there but a lot of them get a different and better coat. Stevie´s Rhiannon starts off with a slow but beautiful piano intro played by Christine. Christine´s Say You Love Me is brightened up with Lindsey´s banjo and Lindsey´s acoustic, almost classical version of Big Love is one of the highlights of The Dance.
And the hilarious USC Trojan Marching Band accompanies the Mac on the album closers Tusk and Don´t Stop.

And there are new songs as well, cleverly hidden between the hits. Christine´s Temporary One is one of her typical pop songs that never hurt but seldom reach your heart. Lindsey´s Bleed to Love Her (touching) and My Little Demon (funny and entertaining) and Stevie´s Sweet Girl blend in well with the older stuff. This last song reminds me of Tom Petty´s Free Fallin´. I would have considered that to be a coincidence if Stevie and Tom had not been lovers at some time. 

By the way, Stevie and Christine are in Top Form here. Stevie´s voice is a few octaves lower but she adepts her songs well to her “new” voice. Christine´s easy going voice just doesn´t change. But then, her style of singing almost never required her to stretch her voice and it aged well. John and Mick are still growing strong. Only Lindsey lost some of his vocal power and from time to time he needs to force himself like in Go Your Own Way.

But as a whole this is a great performance. My personal favourites include the before mentioned Big Love, Lindsey´s I´m So Afraid with a blistering guitar solo, the tender Landslide and the standard concert opener The Chain. But above all there is the definitive version of Silver Springs, the Nicks song that was originally rejected by the other band members for the Rumours album. Stevie has never really accepted this. Personally I also think she has never really accepted the fact that she and Lindsey were unable to stay together as a couple. It´s almost frightening to hear her sing “You never get away from the sound of the woman that loves you” .

In fact, Mick, John, Stevie and Lindsey decided to continue the Mac after the Dance tour. Unfortunately, Christine refused. She simply was tired of the Life on the Road. She went back to England to enjoy a life without the Mac. She did release a solo-album a couple of years later but it went by almost unnoticed. That could not be said from the Mac´s next Album!     

As for this Live Album, make sure you get your copy of The Dance. You will not regret it!

Rating: *********( 9 out of 10)
Black = Good Songs
Green = Great Songs
Red = Could Be Better

Who should buy this record: Everybody!

Afterthought: The DVD is great as well and contains the ultimate versions of Stevie's Gold Dust Woman. No idea why that song was not included in the CD

Jan van den Ende                                                                                                February 2013

Ringo Starr - Beaucoups of Blues

Songs: Beaucoups of Blues, Love Don´t Last Long, Fastest Growing Heartache in the West, Without Her, Woman Of The Night, I´d Be Talking All The Time, $ 15 Draw, Wine Women and Loud Happy Songs, I Wouldn`t Have You Any Other Way, Loser´s Lounge, Waiting, Silent Homecoming. 

Type of Music: Country

Ringo had already released a not very memorable solo album with Hollywood songs earlier in 1970 called Sentimental Journey. During his work with George on the All Things Must Pass Album, he met Pedal Steel Guitar ace Pete Drake who had also recently produced Dylan´s Nashville Skyline. Ringo always liked country music and in his Beatles period he had sung country songs like Act Naturally and What Goes On. Ringo and Pete agreed to do a country Album together. Ringo wanted recordings to take place in London but Pete persuaded Ringo to go to Nashville.

In Tennessee, Pete gathered the cream of country musicians and ordered a dozen of new country songs as well. So when Ringo arrived end June 1970 everything was ready and everyone was prepared. No wonder it took only 10 days to record the album. Still it manages to sound like an Authentic Country Album. 

Considering Ringo´s somewhat doubtful past as a singer and subsequent doubts about his future career as a solo artist, one should admit that he is not doing bad at all here. Of course it all depends on where you set your expectations. This is not All Things Must Pass nor McCartney nor Plastic Ono Band.
This is Beaucoups of Blues, a collection of tear-jerkers about Whiskey, Wine, Fallen Angels, Losers, Love Lost and Loneliness. But well played by professionals and “ starring”  Ringo´s adequate country performance.
Sometimes, adequate is not enough like in Silent Homecoming, a song about a girl waiting at the airport for the return of her lover´s body killed in Vietnam. This type of song requires more feeling or involvement if you like. But Ringo is doing fine in tracks as Beaucoups of Blues, Without Her and Loser´s Lounge.

This CD was released in 1995 and includes two bonus tracks. The first one, Coochy Coochy was written by Ringo during the Nashville sessions and I have no idea why it was not included on the original Album. It would have been the best song on the Album! The second bonus track is a pleasant instrumental called Nashville Jam, also recorded during the sessions for the album.

Conclusion: Certainly not an Album that shook the Rock World in 1970. But it´s pleasant back ground music for a Sunday Morning!

Bonus Tracks: Coochy Coochy, Nashville Jam.

Rating: ******* (7 out of ten)
Black = Good Songs
Green= Great Songs
Red= Could Be Better