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Metal Monday 11-8-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week, we will talk about Aerosmith.  Hailing out of the Boston area, Aerosmith began cranking out albums in 1973.  There have been a few eras of the band, starting with the six albums of the seventies.  Drugs and band member departures led to a down period in the early 1980s, before a reunion kicked off a major resurgence in the mid-eighties.  Aerosmith have basically become a nostalgia act in the 21st century, having put out only a couple of albums, both of which will rank low on this list.

Aerosmith’s classic lineup consists of lead vocalist and main songwriter Steven Tyler.  Joe Perry and Brad Whitford sling the guitars, while Tom Hamilton (bass) and Joey Kramer (drums) handle the rhythm.  On a side note, I have played with a guitar player who grew up in the Sunapee New Hampshire area who was in a band that was a main rival to one of Tyler’s bands back in the 1960s.  I used to tell my bandmate two things.  He was old, and it appears he underachieved!

# 14: 

Just Push Play-2001

By 2001, Aerosmith had become that band that put out an album every four to five years that mostly relied on its back catalog to sell concert tickets.  For the most part, that strategy has worked, but it doesn’t say much about the band’s newer material.  The single, Jaded, is a decent listen, as is, Beyond Beautiful, but this album consists of mostly forgotten material.

Best Song:  Jaded

Best Deep Cut:  Beyond Beautiful

#13: 

Nine Lives-1997

By 1997, Aerosmith had become that band that put out an album every four to five years that mostly relied on its back catalog to sell concert tickets.  For the most part, that strategy has worked, but it doesn’t say much about the band’s newer material.  Pretty much the same script as the album discussed above.  Nine Lives features the predictable formula of a tongue in cheek single, Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees), the obligatory ballad, Hole in My Soul, and an attempt to appeal to the modern rock fans, Pink.  The strategy simply does not work here.

Best Song:  Taste of India

Best Deep Cut:  The Farm

#12: 

Music From Another Dimension-2012

I’m not sure if Aerosmith has what it takes (pun intended) to release a solid album at this point in their career such as the likes of Ozzy, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and AC/DC.  The latest record from the band (even though it is nine years old), I just cannot get into it.  Pump is the last Aerosmith release that I can still listen to.

Best Song:  Oh Yeah

Best Deep Cut:  Oh Yeah

#11:

Get A Grip-1993

By 1993, Aerosmith’s comeback was a resounding success.  Featuring a plethora of ballads, this album shot up the charts.  Unfortunately, it takes a robust 14 songs to find seven that may be worth listening to.  Lead single, Livin’ on the Edge, is a fan favorite, however, I cannot seem to get into it.  Meanwhile, follow up singles, Cryin’, Amazing, and Crazy are all plodding ballads that work to bore me to tears and were overplayed on rock radio.  The only songs that work for me at all are the rocking, Eat the Rich, and Fever, which was made popular by Garth Brooks later in the decade.

Best Song:  Fever

Best Deep Cut:  Fever

#10: 

Done With Mirrors-1985

Other than the first two tracks, Let the Music Do the Talking, and maybe, My Fist Your Face, there is not much here that excites me so much that I must listen to this album.  Aerosmith fans, thrilled about the return of the classic lineup, would have to wait for anything of real substance.

Best Song:  Let the Music Do the Talking

Best Deep Cut:  Let the Music Do the Talking

#9: 

Night in the Ruts-1979

By 1979, excess and overindulgence contributed to Aerosmith teetering on the edge of disaster.  The result is an unfocused album that has some decent moments on it, albeit, not enough to push it higher on the list.

Best Song:  No Surprize

Best Deep Cut:  No Surprize

#8: 

Rock in a Hard Place-1982

The Jimmy Crespo album.  The band was going through its most tumultuous time, with the departures of guitarist Joe Perry and soon, guitarist Brad Whitford.  Combined with the drug addictions and erratic behavior of vocalist Steven Tyler, Crespo is often credited for keeping the band going.  All in all, this is not a bad album that has some good songs, just not a hit in the bunch.  Lightning Strikes is the highlight of the record, while Jailbait, Bitch’s Brew, Cry Me a River, Joanie’s Butterfly, and the title cut are pleasurable listens.

Best Song:  Lightning Strikes

Best Deep Cut:  Lightning Strikes

#7: 

Draw the Line-1977

The band was starting to experience the beginning of the end, so to speak, on this album.  Hardly a cohesive unit at this point, Aerosmith managed to produce a couple of killer tracks, such as the title track, as well as the brilliant, Kings and Queens.  Unfortunately, those strokes of genius are few and far between on this offering.

Best Song:  Draw the Line

Best Deep Cut:  Kings and Queens

#6: 

Permanent Vacation-1987

While Done with Mirrors featured the original Aerosmith getting back together, it was on Permanent Vacation where they became relevant again.  While singles Dude (Looks Like a Lady), Angel, and Rag Doll catapulted the album up the charts, lesser-known songs such as, Heart’s Done Time, Magic Touch Hangman Jury, the swinging St. John, The Movie, and the title track are major highlights.

Best Song:  Magic Touch   

Best Deep Cut:  Magic Touch

#5: 

Pump-1989

Pump continued the band’s comeback, and in a big way.  The album features smash singles, Love in an Elevator, Janie’s Got a Gun, The Other Side, and the brilliant, What it Takes, as well as a plethora of deep cuts, such as, Young Lust, F.I.N.E., Monkey on My Back, Hoodoo/Voodoo Medicine Man, and Don’t Get Mad Get Even.  Combined with the follow up, Get a Grip, commercially, Aerosmith reached its peak. 

Best Song:  What it Takes

Best Deep Cut:  F.I.N.E.

#4: 

Aerosmith-1973

The debut Aerosmith record features a raw bar band that had yet to completely find its way but was hinting that they were close.  The album features the smash hit, Dream On, although it was relatively unknown until re-released in 1976, as well as concert staple, Mama KinMake It, One Way Street, and Movin’ Out are all worthy of a listen.

Best Song:  Dream On

Best Deep Cut:  Make It

#3: 

Get Your Wings-1974

The first record produced by longtime partner, Jack Douglas, Get Your Wings lends to us the idea that Aerosmith may become a household name.  Highlights include the smash single, Same Old Song and Dance, as well as, Lord of the Thighs, S.O.S. (Too Bad), Seasons of Wither, and the Tiny Bradshaw cover, Train Kept A Rollin.’ 

Best Song:  Seasons of Wither

Best Deep Cut:  Seasons of Wither

#2: 

Rocks-1976

Coming off the heels of the huge, Toys in the Attic, Rocks does little to disappoint as a follow up.  The record contains two big singles, Back in the Saddle, and Last Child, as well as strong deep cuts, Rats in the Cellar, Combination, Sick as a Dog, and Nobody’s Fault.  This album loses out to Toys in the Attic for the top spot on the countdown by the slimmest of margins.

Best Song:  Nobody’s Fault

Best Deep Cut:  Nobody’s Fault

#1: 

Toys in the Attic-1975

This is the pinnacle of Aerosmith albums.  Featuring huge radio hits, Walk This Way, and Sweet Emotion, as well as the classic title cut, the record is relentless in churning out great song after great song.  For my money, I would rather listen to deep cuts, Adam’s Apple, No More No More, Round and Round, and the underrated ballad, You See Me Crying over the singles.  As if that isn’t enough, the tongue in cheek cover of, Big Ten Inch Record is a catchy fan favorite.

Best Song:  Sweet Emotion

Best Deep Cut:  No More No More

Metal Monday 11-1-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week, we will dive into the deep catalog of Great Britain’s own, Judas Priest!  Considered one of the pioneers of heavy metal alongside Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, Judas Priest boasts a backlog of hard driving metal few can counter with.  Featuring the godlike vocals of Rob Halford and possessing the twin guitar attack of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing, the band was a force in the late seventies and through the mid-nineties.  A blip in the radar with Halford’s decade-long departure, Priest has rebounded with their main man at the forefront and a trio of solid albums.

#18:

Demolition-2001

The second of the unfortunate albums written with replacement vocalist Tim “Ripper” Owens.  Nothing to say about this one.  There is some decent material, as is the case on any Judas Priest record.  Unfortunately, there isn’t enough of it here.

Best Song:  Machine Man

Best Deep Cut:  Machine Man

#17:

Nostradamus-2008

A two-hour double concept disc?  Yikes!  Some very good tracks, but not nearly enough worthy material to hold my attention for long.  This was an ambitious idea that simply did not work.

Best Song:  Prophecy

Best Deep Cut:  Prophecy

#16:

Jugulator-1997

The first “Ripper” Owens album.  The low rankings have little to do with his singing ability as it does the songwriting.  A very heavy record, but I just find it difficult to get into.  Again, there are some songs worth a listen.  Album closer, Cathedral Spires, is fantastic.

Best Song:  Cathedral Spires

Best Deep Cut:  Cathedral Spires

#15:

Ram it Down-1988

An attempt to get back to its winning sound, somewhat derailed by the synth-driven Turbo album, Ram It Down mainly misses the mark.  Save for the lead-off title track and the brilliant, Blood Red Skies, the rest of the record consists of forgettable riffs and songs.

Best Song:  Blood Red Skies

Best Deep Cut:  Blood Red Skies

#14:

Rocka Rolla-1974

The first Judas Priest album features an almost hippy look and progressive rock sound, which may shock fans who have only known the band since they broke out the leather and spikes.  This is not a horrible first release, rather, the sound of a band who had yet to find its winning formula.  That said, when I go back and listen to Rocka Rolla, I can feel much bigger things are on the horizon.  One for the Road, Run of the Mill, and the title cut are all worthy of a listen, the latter receiving some love from the band on its most recent concert tour.

Best Song:  Rocka Rolla

Best Deep Cut:  Rocka Rolla

#13:

Point of Entry-1981

It’s not that Point of Entry is a bad album.  In fact, there are some strong songs on this offering, such as the classic, Heading Out to the Highway, as well as album standout Desert Plains and Solar AngelsPoint of Entry features the band attempting to allure mainstream rock radio fans.  Unfortunately, coming off British Steel, there isn’t enough standout material to compare.

Best Song:  Desert Plains

Best Deep Cut:  Desert Plains

#12:

Redeemer of SOuls-2014

A fine rebound after the meandering Nostradamus, Redeemer of Souls has a vast collection of songs that should keep the listener engaged and rockin’!  Pay special attention to Dragonaut, Halls of Valhalla, March of the Damned, Down in Flames, and Cold Blooded.  This album is a precursor to what the band is able to conjure up on its next release!

Best Song:  Dragonaut

Best Deep Cut:  Dragonaut

#11:

Angel of Retribution-2005

The Rob Halford comeback album, Angel of Retribution represents a triumphant return for the Priest.  Songs that need to be listened to include, Judas Rising, Deal with the Devil, Revolution, and Hellrider.

Best Song:  Deal with the Devil

Best Deep Cut:  Deal with the Devil

#10:

Turbo-1986

An often-maligned album, Turbo indeed experiments with synthesizers and other sound effects, albeit much of it performed with a winning formula.  This is especially true of the lead-off, Turbo Lover, as well as the vastly underrated, Out in the Cold.  Meanwhile, Locked In, Private Property, Parental Guidance, and Rock You All Around the World make for an enjoyable journey through side one, even if some of the lyrical content is at times, juvenile.  

Best Song:  Turbo Lover

Best Deep Cut:  Out in the Cold

#9:

Sin After Sin-1977

Sandwiched between more well-known records that we will talk about in a minute, Sin After Sin is an underrated album that features Priest classics, Sinner and Dissident Aggressor.  Other tracks worth a mention include, the Joan Baez penned, Diamonds and Rust, as well as Starbreaker and Here Come the Tears.  Do not sleep on this one!

Best Song:  Starbreaker

Best Deep Cut:  Starbeaker

#8:

Killing Machine-1978

Dubbed, Hell Bent for Leather in America due to a school shooting (with a slightly different track listing), Killing Machine represented the band headed towards its arena rock sound that it would perfect on subsequent albums.  Featuring the Priest concert staple, Hell Bent for Leather, as well as the successful cover of Fleetwood Mac’s, The Green Manalishi (With the Two-Pronged Crown), the record also boasts strong tracks, Delivering the Goods, Running Wild, and the outstanding ballad, Before the Dawn.  This is another offering that feels like it gets overlooked.

Best Song:  Hell Bent for Leather

Best Deep Cut:  Delivering the Goods

#7:

Firepower-2018

Well, I didn’t expect anything this good!  The latest Judas Priest record features many solid to strong tracks, including the title cut, Lightning Strike, Evil Never Dies, Never the Heroes, Necromancer, and Spectre.  By far, my favorite of the Priest comeback (Halford’s return) albums that finds its way on in my house quite often.

Best Song:  Evil Never Dies

Best Deep Cut:  Evil Never Dies

#6:

Sad Wings of Destiny-1976

The band’s second release found the band heading toward its trademark sound, although some remnants of the trippy Rocka Rolla era remains.  The result is a very good sophomore effort.  Priest classics, Victim of Changes and The Ripper lead the record off, while Tyrant and Genocide headline the second half.

Best Song:  The Ripper

Best Deep Cut:  Tyrant

#5:

Stained Class-1978

An outstanding album that leads off with the dominant first side of, Exciter, White Heat Red Hot, Better by You Better Than Me, Stained Class, and Invader.  Meanwhile, the second side that includes, Saints in Hell and the classic, Beyond the Realms of Death is nothing to sneeze at.

Best Song:  Beyond the Realms of Death

Best Deep Cut:  Exciter

#4:

British Steel-1980

This is a landmark Judas Priest record that checks all the boxes one may look for:

Classic Priest songs that stand the test of time? Breaking the Law, Metal Gods, Living After Midnight

Solid mid-tempo rockers?  Grinder, You Don’t Have to Be Old to Be Wise, The Rage

All out blitzes in speed metal?  Rapid Fire, Steeler, with latter containing the brilliant two-minute outro that serves as a blueprint for the American thrash metal scene that was soon to hit.

Only the unforgivable, United, prevents British Steel from moving up higher on the list. 

Best Song:  Breaking the Law

Best Deep Cut:  Steeler

#3:

Painkiller-1990

A comeback album of sorts, as it comes off the heels of a subpar offering.  This record marks the debut of the thunderous, and criminally underrated drummer, Scott Travis, and he makes his presence known with the opening drum intro to the entire album.  A rather heavy album, Painkiller is a riff maker’s paradise, while Tipton and Downing shred like there’s no tomorrow.  A killer record.  Highlights include the epic title track, Hell Patrol, All Guns Blazing, Leather Rebel, Night Crawler, Between the Hammer and the Anvil, as well as the brilliant and haunting A Touch of Evil.

Best Song:  Painkiller

Best Deep Cut:  Night Crawler

#2:

Screaming for Vengeance-1982

From the opening chords of The Hellion and into Electric Eye, there is little doubt that this would be an epic album.  The record does not let up, either.  Riding on the Wind, Bloodstone, and (Take These) Chains follow in succession, leaving the listener punch drunk.  The breakneck title track, Devil’s Child, and the anthem, You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ highlight a brutal second side.  Add it all up, and you have an outstanding album.

Best Song:  You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’

Best Deep Cut:  Devil’s Child

#1:

Defenders of the Faith-1984

I’ve mentioned in other posts how the oversaturation of classic rock radio has ruined many songs and albums for me, and that it seems the records that are void of a huge radio hit seem to stand out front (see AC/DC’s Powerage album).  This is certainly the case with Defenders of the Faith.  Although not a single song became a smash single, collectively, this is Judas Priests’ finest overall body of work.

The accelerated tempos of Freewheel Burning and Eat Me Alive, straightforward rockers, Jawbreaker, Rock Hard Ride Free, Some Heads Are Gonna Roll, and The Sentinel, the doomy, Love Bites, and the haunting ballad, Night Comes Down cement this record at the top of a very impressive musical mountain.  

Best Song:  Love Bites

Best Deep Cut:  Love Bites

Metal Monday 10-25-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week, we get a bit heavy and discuss the mighty Slayer.  Or perhaps it’s SLAAAAYERRRRR!  Part of the Big 4 of American thrash, and hailing from Huntington Park, California, Slayer has been around for nearly 40 years, recently retiring in 2019. 

Slayer features the double guitar attack of Kerry King and Jeff Hanneman, the thrash metal drumming excellence of Dave Lombardo, and the blood curdling screams of vocalist Tom Araya.  They were the one band that legitimately scared me when I was younger.  Attending and surviving one of their concerts in the old days was an accomplishment on its own.

#11

Diabolus in Musica-1998

Slayer experimented on this one and the result is the worst album of their career.  That said, I find there are some decent offerings here, such as Bitter Peace, Death’s Head, and Stain of Mind.  Even a bad Slayer album has some opportunity.

Best Song:  Bitter Peace

Best Deep Cut (Aren’t ALL Slayer Songs Deep Cuts?):  Bitter Peace

#10: 

Repentless-2015

The album with a made-up name.  Recorded with Gary Holt on guitar and Paul Bostaph on drums, this is a rather weak offering.  It’s not a horrible record, but there is nothing that reaches out and grabs the listener.  When the Stillness Comes sounds like King’s attempt to channel his inner Hanneman and write something on the more moody and melodic side.  But again, we have our moments here.

Best Song:  Chasing Death

Best Deep Cut:  Chasing Death

#9: 

God Hates Us All-2001

This album, appropriately released on September 11, 2001, starts off with a bang with the trifecta of Disciple, God Send Death, and New Faith.  Unfortunately, things go south for a while until Bloodline completely saves the back half.

Best Song:  New Faith

Best Deep Cut:  New Faith

#8: 

Divine Intervention-1994

The first album to feature Paul Bostaph on drums, Divine Intervention is the also the first Slayer record that disappointed me (nothing to do with Bostaph’s drumming!).  Again, there is hope with, Killing Fields, Dittohead, and 213.

Best Song:  Killing Fields

Best Deep Cut:  Killing Fields

#7: 

Christ Illusion-2006

Lombardo’s return!  I really have nothing against Paul Bostaph, I promise!  He’s an amazing talent, but Slayer needs Lombardo like AC/DC needs Phil Rudd (sorry, Chris Slade!).  Coincidently, this album is a return to form for the band.  Check out Flesh Storm, Skeleton Christ, Eyes of the Insane, and Jihad, for starters.

Best Song:  Flesh Storm

Best Deep Cut:  Flesh Storm

#6: 

World Painted Blood-2009

This record doesn’t get a lot of love in my opinion.  I find it extremely underrated.  I love the title cut, especially the middle breakdown.  In fact, nobody does the driving, mid-tempo thrash like Slayer, especially when placed within an otherwise fast song (see World Painted Blood, War Ensemble, and Angel of Death for reference). 

The record is a perfect mix of top speed and slower thrash, such as Psychopathy Red (fast) and Playing with Dolls (slow).  Other standouts are Hate Worldwide and Human Strain.

Best Song:  World Painted Blood (it WAS a single, so I guess not a deep cut)

Best Deep Cut:  Human Strain

#5: 

Hell Awaits-1985

Now we get into the classic five albums.  These five records feature Slayer at their creative peak, with Hell Awaits representing the band heading toward its classic sound.  More polished than its raw predecessor, the album features the amazing title cut, complete with its breathtaking thrash metal opening.  No matter how many times I listen to this song, the two-minute jam before the lyrics starts gets me going every time!  Other strong tracks include At Dawn They Sleep and Necrophiliac

Best Song:  Hell Awaits

Best Deep Cut:  At Dawn They Sleep

#4: 

Show No Mercy-1983

Dangerous, hungry, and raw.  That is how Show No Mercy sounds to me, nearly 40 years after its release.  That Slayer had yet to find its defined sound does not matter on this album.  Slayer classics on this record include The Antichrist, Die by the Sword, and Black Magic.

Best Song:  Die by the Sword

Best Deep Cut:  Fight Till Death

#3: 

South of Heaven-1988

Fresh off their iconic Reign in Blood, Slayer decided not to rewrite history and went for a more stripped down and slower approach.  While Silent Scream and Ghosts of War conjure up the ghosts of Slayer past with their fast tempos, the meat of this record is in the mid-tempo numbers, including the classic title cut, complete with it’s haunting album intro.  Further robust offerings include Mandatory Suicide and Behind the Crooked Cross.

Best Song:  South of Heaven

Best Deep Cut:  Behind the Crooked Cross

#2: 

Reign in Blood-1986

Considered the standard in thrash metal by many, Reign in Blood comes in at a tidy 34 minutes.  I remember the old cassette that had the entire 10 songs on one side.  Flip it over and play it again!

The classic Angel of Death leads it off.  That breakdown in the middle is mind-blowing.  Alter of Sacrifice and Jesus Saves anchor the middle section, while the album closing duo of Postmortem and Raining Blood is unequaled.  The breakdown after the intro and before the vocals on the title cut is, in my opinion, the finest thrash riff there is.

Best Song:  Angel of Death

Best Deep Cut:  Postmortem

#1: 

Seasons in the Abyss-1990

Simply put, the finest collection of Slayer songs in its catalog.  A perfect mixture of blazing speed, mid-tempo, and doom and gloom thrash, Seasons represents the final chapter in the classic Slayer era. 

The fast:  War Ensemble, Hallowed Point, Born of Fire

The mid-tempo:  Blood Red, Spirt in Black, Temptation

Doom and Gloom:  Expendable Youth, Dead Skin Mask, Skeletons of Society, title cut

This was the record that introduced me to how much of a whack job Ed Gein was!

Best Song:  Seasons in the Abyss

Best Deep Cut:  Spirit in Black

Metal Monday 10-17-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week we will talk about the legendary Ozzy Osbourne, the Prince of Darkness.  Ol’ Oz has been doing this for nearly fifty years, first as the lead singer of heavy metal trendsetter Black Sabbath, and then his own solo career.  Of course, who can forget his TV show?  Ozzy has enjoyed a few stints in Sabbath, and the band has taken part in a successful farewell tour, leaving Osbourne to his own band.  It is Ozzy’s solo albums that we will rank this week.

#11: 

Down to Earth-2001

Featuring Robert Trujillo and Mike Bordin, this album mostly misses the mark.  It has nothing to do with the musicians, rather, the songs themselves.  While Zakk Wylde plays guitar on the record, he does not take part in any of the songwriting.  For this matter, Ozzy collaborated on the outside and the result is the #11 ranked album in Osbourne’s catalog.

Best Song:  Facing Hell

Best Deep Cut:  Facing Hell

#10: 

Scream-2010

Firewind guitarist Gus G. and drummer extraordinaire Tommy Clufetos debut on this record.  Not much else to write about. 

Best Song:  Let it Die

Best Deep Cut:  Let it Die

#9: 

Black Rain-2007

Another rather weak effort here, as well.  After lead single, I Don’t Wanna Stop, the album provides few memorable moments.  Closer, Trap Door ends things on a somewhat positive note, however.

Best Song:  I Don’t Wanna Stop

Best Deep Cut:  Trap Door

#8: 

Ozzmosis-1995

This one had Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler pounding the four string.  Not a bad effort, but not the first Ozzy album I would put on, either.  I do enjoy lead single, Perry Mason, as well as the ballad, See You on the Other Side.  The album’s highlight for me is, I Just Want You.

Best Song:  I Just Want You

Best Deep Cut:  I Just Want You

#7: 

The Ultimate Sin-1986

A poppy affair, this album has some decent moments, however, not enough to push it higher into the countdown.  The title track, Never Know Why, Killer of Giants, and Fool Like You are pleasurable listens.  That said, the highlight is the one smash single which closes out the record, Shot in the Dark.

Best Song:  Shot in the Dark

Best Deep Cut:  Never Know Why

#6: 

Ordinary Man-2020

I’ve got to hand it to Ozzy.  I didn’t think he had it in him at this point in his career.  I truly enjoy this album, despite my standoffish expectations.  Lead single, Under the Graveyard is the one song most folks will be familiar with, and the number is quite catchy.  This is not the highlight, however.  Straight to Hell, All My Life, Eat Me, and Scary Little Green Men are all worthy of a spin or two.  For me, the record’s shining moment is on, Goodbye, a tune that starts with a plodding tempo, before moments of an all-out assault that reminds this reviewer of 80’s thrash.

Other surprises on Ordinary Man are the collaborations, first with Sir Elton John on the title cut, and later with Post Malone to close out the record with, It’s A Raid and Take What You Want.

Best Song:  Goodbye

Best Deep Cut:  Goodbye

#5: 

Bark at the Moon-1983

This album features the debut of guitarist Jake E. Lee, in the unenviable situation of replacing the iconic Randy Rhoads, who was killed in a plane crash.  Lee carries himself better than admirably, proving himself a talented guitarist in his own right, as well as a competent songwriter.  The record, while notches below the first two, is a solid effort from Ozzy, nonetheless.  In addition to the smash title cut, the album contains underrated deep cuts, You’re No Different, Centre of Eternity, Slow Down, and Waiting for Darkness.

Best Song:  Bark at the Moon

Best Deep Cut:  Waiting for Darkness

#4: 

No More Tears-1991

A huge record, upon which Ozzy toured on as part of his first farewell tour, No More Tears featured a polished sound and significant contributions from Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister.  A brilliant bass guitar line drives the smash title cut, while ballads, Mama, I’m Coming Home, The Road to Nowhere, and Time After Time give the album plenty of MTV and radio hits.  Give a listen to deep cuts, I Don’t Want to Change the World and Desire.  

Best Song:  No More Tears

Best Deep Cut:  I Don’t Want to Change the World

 #3: 

No Rest for the Wicked-1988

The introduction of 21-year-old Zakk Wylde as the new guitarist, this album doesn’t receive a ton of accolades, but is as underrated of an Ozzy record as there is.  With MTV hits, Miracle Man, and Crazy Babies, leading the way, the record sold more than 2 million copies in the US alone.  Give a spin to single, Breakin’ all the Rules, as well as deep cuts, Devil’s Daughter (Holy War), Bloodbath in Paradise, and Fire in the Sky.

Best Song:  Fire in the Sky

Best Deep Cut:  Fire in the Sky

#2: 

Blizzard of Ozz-1980

Ozzy’s first solo record also unleashed guitar wizard Randy Rhodes, formerly of Quiet Riot fame.  An incredible album, Blizzard features major hits, Crazy Train, I Don’t Know, Mr. Crowley, Suicide Solution, and Goodbye to Romance.  Quite a way to stick it to your estranged former bandmates in Black Sabbath!  That said, Sabbath were doing their own great things around this time.  Give the haunting Revelation (Mother Earth) a try.

Best Song:  Mr. Crowley

Best Deep Cut:  Revelation (Mother Earth)

#1: 

Diary of a Madman-1981

While most would flip this album with Blizzard of Ozz, I tend to disagree.  Nothing against the debut, however, I find the follow up to be a more cohesive, if less commercially successful collection of songs.  The first half is brilliant, with Over the Mountain, Flying High Again, You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll, and Believer.  Meanwhile the album closes with the more than solid trio of, Tonight, S.A.T.O., and the epic title cut.

Best Song:  You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll

Best Deep Cut:   You Can’t Kill Rock and Roll

Metal Monday 10-11-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week, we will go after the mighty Iron Maiden.  This English outfit is a heavy metal icon and one of my favorites!  In fact, there are days where I may view them as my favorite band of all time.  However, that changes from time to time.  That said, if I’m in the mood for heavy and progressive classic metal, Maiden is who I turn to.

Having been around for more than 40 years, Iron Maiden has undergone several lineup changes, primarily the comings and goings of lead vocalist Bruce Dickinson.  The band’s classic lineup consisted of Dickinson on vocals, guitarists Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, bassist Steve Harris, and drummer Nicko McBrain.  This is also the current lineup, with the addition of long-time guitarist Janick Gers to round out the group to six members.

#17: 

The X Factor-1995

Blaze Bayley’s vocal debut with the group.  Nothing against Blaze, but the songs for this album don’t stand up to other Maiden releases.

Best Song:  Sign of the Cross

Best Deep Cut:  Sign of the Cross (anything on here is a deep cut)

#16: 

Virtual XI-1998

See notes above.  Although, The Clansman is a great song.

Best Song:  The Clansman

Best Deep Cut:  The Clansman

#15: 

No Prayer for the Dying-1990

A major drop-off from the preceding Iron Maiden albums.

Best Song:  Tailgunner

Best Deep Cut:  No Prayer for the Dying

#14: 

Dance of Death-2003

Although #14 on the list, there are some decent tracks on this record, notably the brilliant, Paschendale.

Best Song:  Paschendale

Best Deep Cut:  Paschendale

#13: 

The Final Frontier-2010

Not a bad release.  In fact, I can see myself pushing play on any of the top 14 albums in this list on any given day.

Best Song:  Satellite 15…The Final Frontier

Best Deep Cut:  The Talisman

#12: 

Fear of the Dark-1992

Dickinson’s last album before his 8-year absence.  There are some moments here, such as the wonderful title cut.

Best Song:  Fear of the Dark

Best Deep Cut:  Afraid to Shoot Strangers

#11: 

A Matter of Life and Death-2006

Maiden toured on this album by playing it in its entirety.  Weekend fans were not impressed, but I would have liked to have seen it.

Best song:  These Colours Don’t Run

Best Deep Cut:  These Colours Don’t Run

#10: 

The Book of Souls-2015

Making the Top 10 on this list is nothing to sneeze at.  There are some great songs on this record, such as, If Eternity Should Fail, The Red and the Black, The Book of Souls, Death or Glory, and Tears of a Clown.

Best Song:  Tears of a Clown

Best Deep Cut:  Tears of a Clown

#9: 

Senjutsu-2021

The latest Iron Maiden album.  A more than solid release, indeed.  The band takes a page out of its last album (The Book of Souls) and creates several marathon tracks that are neither boring nor overwhelming.  Give a listen to the title cut, Stratego, Lost in a Lost World, The Time Machine, and Hell on Earth.  For a band to put out something this strong after 40 years is quite an accomplishment.

Best Song:

Best Deep Cut:

#8:

Brave New World-2000

Dickinson returned for this album.  A very successful return it was.

Best Song:  Blood Brothers

Best Deep Cut:  Blood Brothers

#7: 

Somewhere in Time-1986

The first of the classic 80s albums to appear in this list.  There are some great songs on this one, such as Caught Somewhere in Time, Wasted Years, Heaven Can Wait, The Loneliest of the Long Distance Runner, Stranger in a Strange Land, and Alexander the Great.

Best Song:  Wasted Years (OK, this may sound like I’m taking the easy way out, but I assure you, I love this song!)

Best Deep Cut:  Alexander the Great

#6: 

Seventh Son of a Seventh Son-1988

This is another classic record with some outstanding songs.  Give a listen to Moonchild, Infinite Dreams, Can I Play With Madness, The Evil That Med Do, The Clairvoyant, and the title track.

Best Song:  The Evil That Men Do

Best Deep Cut:  Moonchild

#5: 

Powerslave-1984

We have reached the Top 5 and we are going to see why these albums are among the big boys.  This record gave way to the ridiculously successful World Slavery Tour in 1984-85.  Is there a one-two punch from this band stronger than Aces High and Two Minutes to Midnight

The album closing title cut and Rime of the Ancient Mariner are epic deep cuts that may not be considered deep cuts at all to more seasoned Maiden fans.

Best Song:  Two Minutes to Midnight

Best Deep Cut:  Rime of the Ancient Mariner

#4: 

Piece of Mind-1983

The debut of drummer extraordinaire Nicko McBrain.  I’m partial to drummers.  I wonder why?

Nicko leaves little doubt as to his talents with the opening drum lick of, Where Eagles Dare, which kicks the whole thing off.  There are so many great songs here, including, Revelations, Flight of Icarus, Die With Your Boots On, The Trooper, and Still Life.

Best Song:  Revelations

Best Deep Cut:  Revelations

#3: 

Killers-1981

I am quite partial to the Paul Di’Anno fronted albums, not because I think he’s a better vocalist than Dickinson.  In my opinion, he is not.  However, the songs on these two records reflect a young, up and coming, and hungry band who is destined for big things.

Check out the title cut, Wrathchild, and Murders in the Rue Morgue, which is certainly in my personal top five Maiden songs.

Best Song:  Murders in the Rue Morgue

Best Deep Cut:  Murders in the Rue Morgue

#2: 

Iron Maiden-1980

There isn’t a clunker in the bunch on this one.  An incredible debut record from a then unknown band out of England.  Check out, Prowler, Remember Tomorrow, Running Free, Phantom of the Opera, Charlotte the Harlot, and the title cut.  Remember Tomorrow would slot into my personal top five, as well.

Best Song:  Remember Tomorrow

Best Deep Cut:  Remember Tomorrow

#1: 

Number of the Beast-1982

“Woe to you, oh earth and sea

For the devil sends the beast with wrath

Because he knows the time is short…….”

Dickinson’s debut is the best album in the band’s entire catalog.  And it’s not all that close, either.  From the quoted title cut above, and including the classic, Run to the Hills and Hallowed Be Thy Name, the record also contains incredible deep tracks, Children of the Damned, The Prisoner, and 22 Acacia Avenue. 

Try as they might, Iron Maiden could never top this one.

Best Song:  Hallowed Be Thy Name (#1 on my personal list)

Best Deep Cut:  Children of the Damned

Metal Monday 10-4-2021

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week, we will study the Thunder from Down Under, AC/DC.  Here is an iconic rock band that has been around for close to 50 years, which is unfathomable to me.   The band has undergone several lineup changes due to dysfunction and tragedy, yet its core members throughout most of its history has been the Young brothers, Angus and Malcolm (died 2017). 

Obviously, Angus Young is the most visual member of the band with his schoolboy outfit and raucous guitar solos, while the lead singer tandem of Bon Scott (until his death in 1980) and Brian Johnson give a strong voice to the songs.  However, it is some of the more subtle things about AC/DC that draw me to the band, including the four on the floor rock solid drumming of Phil Rudd, as well as the eighth note throbbing bass lines of Cliff Williams.  The late Malcolm Young was the main songwriter, along with his brother, and authored some of the most badass rock guitar riffs of all time.

#16: 

Fly on the Wall-1985

Not much to write here.

Best Song:  Fly on the Wall

Best Deep Cut:  Fly on the Wall

#15: 

Blow Up Your Video-1988

A couple of strong tracks to lead off the record, but things fizzle out quickly after that.

Best Song:  Heatseeker

Best Deep Cut:  Go Zone

#14: 

Flick of the Switch-1983

Again, not too much going for this record, either, although I do enjoy the title cut.

Best Song:  Flick of the Switch

Best Deep Cut:  Guns for Hire

#13: 

Rock or Bust-2014

This album and subsequent tour were plagued by personnel issues, namely, Malcolm Young’s departure due to illness.  Meanwhile, Phil Rudd’s legal trouble did not allow him to tour, while Brian Johnson’s hearing issues forced him off the road mid-tour, to be replaced by Axl Rose.

Best Song:  Rock or Bust

Best Deep Cut:  Sweet Candy

#12: 

Stiff Upper Lip-2000

This album had some decent moments, however, once again, there is a fair amount of filler.  I do enjoy the title cut, as AC/DC continues a trend of leading off with their best song.

Best Song:  Stiff Upper Lip

Best Deep Cut:  Meltdown

#11: 

Ballbreaker-1995

The return of Phil Rudd after a long absence.  As a drummer myself, I admire his robotic-like style, and his ability to produce such a fat sound.  The man has no frills but go ahead try to stay on point as consistently as he does.  As for the album, it’s okay.

Best Song:  Hard as a Rock

Best Deep Cut:  Whiskey on the Rocks

#10: 

For Those About to Rock-1981

This record almost had no chance, coming on the heels of the wildly successful Back in Black.  That said, it’s a pretty strong output, with some solid deep cuts (obviously the lead-off title track carries the whole thing).

Best Song:  For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)

Best Deep Cut:  Put the Finger on You

#9: 

Black Ice-2008

The final album for Malcolm Young.  Black Ice has some great songs, including (stop me if you’ve heard this one before) the lead-off Rock and Roll TrainBig Jack, Anything Goes, and War Machine highlight a strong first half, however, the record is way too long at 15 songs.  If it were cut down to the normal 10-11, we would be talking about putting this one higher up on the list.

Best Song:  Rock and Roll Train

Best Deep Cut:  War Machine

#8: 

Power Up-2020

When I heard AC/DC was releasing a new album, I didn’t have high expectations.  At this point in their illustrious career, I was expecting something along the lines of Rock or Bust.  Boy, was I surprised when I started listening to this one.  Give the band credit.  They put out a very good album.

Best Song:  Through the Mists of Time

Best Deep Cut:  Realize

#7: 

The Razor’s Edge-1991

A comeback album of sorts following a string of subpar offerings, The Razor’s Edge put the band back in the limelight.  Featuring the iconic Thunderstruck, as well as singles, Moneytalks and Are You Ready, the record was promoted with a very successful world tour.  AC/DC was back! 

Best Song:  Thunderstruck

Best Deep Cut:  The Razor’s Edge

#6: 

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap-1976

The classic title cut starts this one off with a bang and it doesn’t really let up.  A dirty sounding album with other standout tracks, including, Rocker, Problem Child, and Squealer.

Best Song:  Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Best Deep Cut:  Squealer

#5: 

High Voltage-1975

The first internationally released AC/DC album (there were two releases in Australia only), High Voltage contains many of the same songs as the pair of domestic releases..  The album features It’s a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll), Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer, Live Wire, TNT, and the title track as its standouts.  A very underrated record and a sign of things to come for this new band.

Best Song:  Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer

Best Deep Cut:  Rock ‘n’ Roll Singer

#4: 

Back in Black-1980

A lot of folks may wonder if I am feeling okay for ranking this one so low.  Trust me, I think it’s a great album!  It’s just that there are three beasts ahead of it! 

An introduction to new vocalist Brian Johnson following the untimely death of Bon Scott, Back in Black has become an all-time iconic record, with several songs that will be played on classic rock radio forever.  Starting with, Hells Bells, and continuing with, Shoot to Thrill, the album also contains the classic title cut and the uber-successful, You Shook Me All Nite Long.

If I were to have a gripe with this album, however, it would be that classic rock radio has played the hits to death, almost to the point that I cringe when I hear them, even though they are fantastic songs.  Furthermore, some of the other songs don’t do much for me.  While I enjoy, Have a Drink on Me, and, What Do You Do For Money Honey, I cannot seem to get into, Given the Dog a Bone, Shake a Leg, and Let Me Put My Love Into You.  In addition, I still have no idea how Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution is still a favored track of so many.

Best Song:  Hells Bells

Best Deep Cut:  Have a Drink on Me

#3: 

Let There Be Rock-1977

A short little ditty at eight songs, Let There Be Rock never strays too far from my AC/DC playlist.  From the groove of the title track to the drive of Dog Eat Dog, Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be, and Whole Lotta Rosie, this one is a masterpiece, and also features, probably my favorite AC/DC song, Bad Boy Boogie.  Also, don’t fall asleep on Overdose.

Best Song:  Bad Boy Boogie

Best Deep Cut:  Overdose

#2: 

Powerage-1978

Perhaps the reason I love this record is because there are no huge radio singles in the bunch.  Nope, there is just a collection of great rock and roll songs.  Strong songs?  Where do I start?  Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation, Down Payment Blues, Riff Raff, Sin City, What’s Next to the Moon, Gone Shootin’, and Up to My Neck in You.  I almost feel bad for the other unnamed tracks because they are decent themselves.

Best Song:  Rock ‘n’ Roll Damnation

Best Deep Cut:  Gone Shootin’

#1: 

Highway to Hell-1979

Why is this ranked number one?  Well, let’s find out.  Starting with the gigantic title cut and going straight into, Girls Got Rhythm is a strong one/two punch.  But it doesn’t stop there.  This album also features, Walk All Over You, Touch Too Much, Shot Down in Flames, Get it Hot, If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It), and the grooving Love Hungry Man.  Whew!

Best Song:  Shot Down in Flames

Best Deep Cut:  Touch Too Much

Metal Monday

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week we will visit everybody’s favorite masked marvels:  KISS.  I was introduced to the amazing world of rock and roll by my best friend in second grade, who, by the way, has gone on to become a wildly successful vocalist in the genre himself.  No, I will not reveal who it is.  Besides, I haven’t personally talked to this individual since that day his family moved away.

Anyway, this buddy of mine turned me onto KISS.  Until then, I was an oldies fanatic, particularly of Elvis Presley.  KISS was my first venture into anything current.  Let me just say, as a seven-year-old kid, WOW, was I blown away!  These guys were unpredictable and dangerous!  And, at that point, nobody had a clue what they looked like underneath the war paint.

The first album I bought (or my parents were kind enough to buy for me) was Alive II.  Remember the photo when you opened the album up?  That stage?  Unbelievable!  From there, I went back and became familiar with Alive I, as well as some of the studio albums, such as Destroyer and Love Gun.  Let’s just say I was hooked, and because of KISS, and my now famous classmate, I began to explore other rock and roll bands such as AC/DC and Black Sabbath.

So, here begins the album ranking.  As there are 20 studio albums, some of the write-ups may be brief.  Again, the aforementioned live records will not be included, although Alive I is arguably the biggest and most important KISS album available.

#20: 

Music from the Elder-1981

Nothing really to say about this one.  Even KISS has to have their worst album, and this is it.

Best Song:  A World Without Heroes

Best Deep Cut:  A World Without Heroes

#19: 

Unmasked-1980

The original classic lineup ends before our very eyes.  Another forgettable album.

Best Song:  Talk to Me

Best Deep Cut:  Talk to Me

#18: 

Crazy Nights-1987

Are you seeing a trend with the decade associated with these first few bottom feeder records? 

Best Song:  Crazy, Crazy Nights

Best Deep Cut:  Bang Bang You

#17: 

Animalize-1984

KISS trying to fit into the 80s glam metal scene.  Not particularly my cup of tea, but there are a few decent songs here, including the solid hit single, Heaven’s on Fire.

Best Song:  Heaven’s on Fire

Best Deep Cut:  I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)

#16: 

Asylum-1985

See my comments for Animalize.  Copy, paste.  Take out, Heaven’s on Fire.  Insert, Tears are Falling.

Best Song:  Tears are Falling

Best Deep Cut:  King of the Mountain

#15: 

Monster-2012

The last studio album we have from KISS.  It’s okay, considering it’s 2012.

Best Song:  Hell or Hallelujah

Best Deep Cut:  Shout Mercy

#14: 

Lick it Up-1983

The album where the band took off the makeup.  Decent offering, but nothing special.

Best Song:  Exciter

Best Deep Cut:  Exciter

#13: 

Hot in the Shade-1989

The great Eric Carr’s last album.  Amazing tour for this one but a long and meandering record with too few highlights.  That said, the brilliant, Hide Your Heart, and the ballad, Forever, more than makes up for the filler.

Best Song:  Hide Your Heart

Best Deep Cut:  Betrayed

#12: 

Carnival of Souls/The Final Sessions-1997

This is the album KISS was working on before doing an about face and agreeing to reunite with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.  It is the final record to feature guitarist Bruce Kulick, a key figure during the band’s 1980s movement.  The group eschewed its classic hard rock style for an alternative, grunge-sounding record.  As much of a disaster in the making as that sounds, Carnival of Souls isn’t a bad album at all. 

Highlights include, Hate, Rain, Master and Slave, Childhood’s End, I Will Be There, Jungle, and the Kulick-fronted, I Walk Alone.

Best Song:  Master and Slave

Best Deep Cut:  Master and Slave

#11: 

Psycho Circus-1998

The reunion album with Frehley and Criss.  KISS decided to cash in on its gigantic reunion tour and head back to the studio with all four original members.  The result is a mixed bag with some solid songs, including the excellent title track, but overall, this record represents a disappointment considering the expectations (albeit unfair) that came with it.  Rumors of creative differences and whether Frehley and Criss are actually on the record persist.

Best Song:  Psycho Circus

Best Deep Cut:  Dreamin’

#10: 

Dynasty-1979

Disco-KISS!  This album gets a bad rap, but it is pretty decent offering in my opinion.  It’s not my go-to record, however, I would put this one into my player before the previous ten.  The band was experiencing its share of tension by this point, and it depends on who you talk to as to whether Criss played on it.

Best Song:  Sure Know Something (the “Unplugged” version is fantastic)

Best Deep Cut:  Sure Know Something

#9: 

Sonic Boom-2009

This was the first KISS album in 11 years and the first to feature the Stanley-Simmons-Tommy Thayer-Eric Singer line-up.  For a band so long in the tooth, Sonic Boom was a very strong showing by a band who was, perhaps, out to prove that the derailment of the classic lineup wouldn’t necessarily mean the complete end of the group.

Best Song:  Say Yeah

Best Deep Cut:  Never Enough

#8: 

Revenge-1992

A criminally underrated album.  This was the first KISS record to feature Eric Singer on the drums, replacing the late Eric Carr.  It featured the singles, Unholy, I Just Wanna, and God Gave Rock and Roll to You II, although the latter track being one of the weaker ones in my opinion.  Other strong cuts include, Take it Off, Thou Shalt Not, and Domino.

Best Song:  Take it Off

Best Deep Cut:  Take it Off

#7: 

Hotter Than Hell-1974

The first entry for one of the original six classic KISS records, Hotter Than Hell is, according to me, the weakest of the bunch.  That said, its still a pretty solid offering, featuring the classics, Parasite, the title cut, and Let Me Go, Rock and Roll.  Meanwhile, the album is boosted by deeper cuts, Goin’ Blind, Comin’ Home, and Got to Choose.

Best Song:  Goin’ Blind

Best Deep Cut:  Goin’ Blind

#6: 

Creatures of the Night-1982

The best KISS album that nobody talks about, Creatures features Stanley, Simmons, Vinnie Vincent, and Eric Carr.  A few hits here, such as the title cut, I Love it Loud, and I Still Love You.  More obscure tracks worth a listen are, Keep Me Comin,’ Rock and Roll Hell, and War Machine.

Best Song:  I Still Love You

Best Deep Cut:  Keep Me Comin’

#5: 

Love Gun-1977

KISS was touring behind this album when Alive II was recorded.  Love Gun was the beginning of the end for the first tenure of the original band.  It features Ace Frehley’s monster hit, Shock Me, as well as the title track, which is still a staple in the band’s live set.

Best Song:  Shock Me

Best Deep Cut:  I Stole Your Love

#4: 

Rock and Roll Over-1976

This is sort of an overlooked KISS classic, but still a strong record, nonetheless.

Best Song:  Hard Luck Woman

Best Deep Cut:  Take Me

#3: 

Destroyer-1976

Many consider this to be the best KISS album, and they have a strong argument.  Featuring perhaps the best KISS song, Detroit Rock City, as well as the smash ballad, and the band’s only #1 song, Beth, Destroyer is KISS at their peak, especially considering that they were coming off the high of the KISS Alive album.

Best Song:  Detroit Rock City

Best Deep Cut:  King of the Nighttime World

#2: 

Dressed to Kill-1975

Other than the anthem, Rock and Roll All Nite, there is little else in the way of a hit song on this album, and perhaps that’s why it is so damn good.  Classic rock radio hasn’t ruined it.  Room Service, Two Timer, Rock Bottom, C’mon and Love Me, and She are amazing songs that never get skipped over when this fantastic album is in my player.

Best Song:  C’mon and Love Me

Best Deep Cut:  C’mon and Love Me

#1: 

Kiss-1974

For the second week in a row, I have identified, in my mind, that the band’s best album is their first.  And for the second week in a row, the band still went on to have an enormous career.  I love this record for its rawness, another similarity to last week’s band, Motley Crue, on its first couple of albums.  There is not a weak track among the ten offered, with Strutter, Nothin’ to Lose, Firehouse, and 100,000 Years joining more popular hits, Cold Gin, Deuce, and Black Diamond as the main highlights.

Best Song:  Black Diamond

Best Deep Cut:  Strutter

Metal Mondays

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

This week we will discuss Motley Crue, the bad boys of rock and roll.  These guys made a major impact during the 1980s hair metal movement.  Though the nineties and 2000’s rendered them somewhat irrelevant, they have enjoyed a bit of a renascence with the release of The Dirt movie, a film based on bassist Nikki Sixx’s book of the same name.  I will say that as a kid, Motley was my favorite band and my first ever concert was the band on the Dr. Feelgood tour.  After that night, I was hooked on the Crue and the live concert experience in general.

#9:

New Tattoo-2000

There are some decent songs on this offering, but more filler than anything.  This album is the only Motley Crue release not to feature drummer Tommy Lee, who had left the band the prior year.  In his place is former Ozzy Osbourne skins man Randy Castillo.

Best Song:  Hell on High Heels

Best Deep Cut:  Fake

#8:

Generation Swine-1997

This record signaled vocalist Vince Neil’s return to the group following his five-year absence.  In fact, replacement vocalist John Corabi began the recording sessions for the album.  Generation Swine featured many of the industrial sounds that were hip in the genre at the time.  Some decent songs, but overall,  not a great record at all.

Best Song:  Afraid

Best Deep Cut:  Generation Swine

#7:

Theater of Pain-1985

This was the disappointing follow up to two masterpieces.  It also began a hair metal trend of the power ballad, with the smash hit, Home Sweet Home.  Despite this, and the hit cover of Brownsville Stations’, Smokin’ in the Boy’s Room, Theater of Pain showed a band deep in the throes of drug and alcohol abuse, with many songs I consider filler.  In addition, with the two aforementioned big hits, this is the point that the band was losing its underground feel and going mainstream, not necessarily a bad thing, however, if you read on, you will see what attracted me to the band in the first place.

Best Song:  Home Sweet Home

Best Deep Cut:  City Boy Blues

#6: 

Saints of Los Angeles-2008

A surprisingly strong album at this point in the band’s career, SOLA was plagued by poor promotion and what appeared to be simple laziness on Motley’s part.  Apparently intent on being a nostalgia act, the band failed to cash in on an opportunity to have an actual hit record.  While the raucous title track was a solid choice as the lead single, follow up selections were questionable.  The ballad, The Animal in Me could have been a perfect follow up single, however, has been largely unheard by most people.

Best Song:  The Animal in Me

Best Deep Cut:  The Animal in Me

#5: 

Girls Girls Girls-1987

Wild Side, the title track, and Dancin’ on Glass get this album off to a rollicking start, and deep cuts, All in the Name Of and You’re All I Need are strong offerings, however, there is a substantial amount of filler here, as well.  For me, I cannot get past, Nona, and the cover of Jailhouse Rock.  This tour for this album was cut short due to concerns someone in the band would die if kept on the road.

Best Song:  Wild Side

Best Deep Cut:  Dancin’ on Glass

#4: 

Dr. Feelgood-1989

The first offering from a cleaned-up Crue, with Bob Rock at the buttons.  This was the band’s first #1 album, complete with five smash singles, including the title track, Kickstart My Heart, and Same Ol’ Situation.  Sonically, the record is a masterpiece, and inspired Metallica to work with Rock on their upcoming self-titled fifth album.

Dr. Feelgood was Motley Crue at its creative peak and signaled the beginning of the end for the band on top of the hard rock world.  Following a successful tour to promote the album, internal strife and the changing rock scene toward grunge led to the band’s demise.  Singer Vince Neil would leave the group in 1992.

On a more upbeat note, my first ever concert was Motley Crue on the Dr. Feelgood tour in 1990.  That experience hooked me on live rock concerts.

Best Song:  Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)

Best Deep Cut:  Slice of Your Pie

#3: 

Motley Crue-1994

This was the first Motley album sans Neil, featuring John Corabi on lead vocals.  Corabi’s vocal range and strong rhythm guitar skills technically made the Crue a better band, however, not a more successful one.  Fans could not get past the fact that Neil was out of the mix, and the transition of the average rock fan’s taste toward Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden didn’t help matters either.  Commercially, Motley Crue, the album flopped.

Musically, the self-titled record was a brilliant curveball.  The band experimented with a harder edge, made possible by the talents Corabi brought to the table.  No longer did Sixx need to write songs that fit Neil’s vocal range.  The result was a collection of hard rock, blues, with a little psychedelic thrown in.  If you haven’t given this album a listen, go for it!

Best Song:  Misunderstood

Best Deep Cut:  Til Death Do Us Part

#2: 

Shout At The Devil-1983

Masterpiece!  This was Motley Crue with a larger recording budget and the same hunger they brought with them when recording their debut (more on that album coming up).  In fact, for decades, I would have put this record at number one on this list.  Alas, it’s the instrumental, God Bless the Children of the Beast, and the cover of the Beatle’s, Helter Skelter, that push it down to the runner up position.   I must admit, I hit the “SKIP” button when those two tracks come on.

As for the rest of the album, WOW!  There are classics everywhere, from the title cut, the brilliant Looks That Kill, single Too Young to Fall in Love, plus the amazing deep cuts, Bastard, Red Hot, Knock ‘Em Dead Kid, and Ten Seconds to Love.  The band, to an 11-year-old kid in 1983, sounded dangerous, while still maintaining that raw sound that more commercially successful bands can afford to get away from.  My point here is that there is really something special about this band when it sounds raw.

Anyway, I need to get off this album before I flip it back to number one!

Best Song:  Looks That Kill, but there are plenty of challengers!

Best Deep Cut:  Knock ‘Em Dead Kid

#1: 

Too Fast For Love-1981

The debut.  The album where Nikki Sixx put his vision of what a rock band should look, sound, and feel like forward to the people.  Stunning visuals that attract the kids?  Check.  Pretty boy frontman to lure the ladies?  Check.  Wild and crazy antics, tales of booze, drugs, and womanizing to bring in the dudes?  Plenty.

As I get older, I gravitate to this record when I feel like listening to Motley Crue.  I can close my eyes and feel the hunger to climb out of the gutters to stardom.  These four guys were destined for greatness and in this album, you can feel their desire for doing whatever it took to make it happen.

Too Fast For Love starts out with my all-time favorite Crue song, Live Wire.  While many bands have been known to promote their best song out of the gate, Motley was able to back it up, not only on this album alone, but throughout the next decade.  Some albums were much stronger than others, however, there were always enough hits to get them through.

I love the punkish, almost new wave feel that the band combines with their main calling card of hard rock.  Come on and Dance, Public Enemy #1, the beautifully haunting, Merry Go Round, and Take Me to the Top close out a robust side one. 

Meanwhile, side two is no slouch, containing the underrated, Starry Eyes, the punky title cut, and the ballad turned rocker, On with the Show.  It’s a short and precise record that makes the listener of this new group take notice and anticipate what could possibly come next.

Best Song:  Live Wire

Best Deep Cut:  Merry Go Round

Metal Mondays

Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best.  As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones.  I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate!  This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?

NOTE:  I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only.  There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.

So, today’s band is Metallica, my all-time favorite artist.  I had gone away from Metallica for a while (hey, everyone needs a break occasionally), but came across their Mandatory Metallica channel on Sirius Radio recently and am hooked all over again.  Their catalog contains several masterpieces, as well as some near misses.  Naturally, Metallica will be the first subject of this new post.

#10

St Anger-2003

This album marks the culmination of the most tumultuous time in Metallica’s career.  Long-time bassist Jason Newsted left the band abruptly in 2001 during the preparation of this album amid irreconciled business decisions.  Furthermore, vocalist/rhythm guitarist/main songwriter James Hetfield checked himself into rehab, delaying the recording process.  When he returned, tensions between he and drummer Lars Ulrich, the band’s other top gun, put the future of the band in serious doubt.  To make matters worse, the entire drama was filmed and captured on a documentary entitled, Some Kind of Monster, which showed the band embroiled in group therapy, much to the chagrin of many long-time fans.

Naturally, the resulting album would have an aggressive and dark sound, bereft of any sweet and melodic sounds of, say, Nothing Else Matters.  In addition, nary a guitar solo can be found anywhere on this record. 

melodic sounds of, say, Nothing Else Matters.  In addition, nary a guitar solo can be found anywhere on this record. 

St. Anger is widely considered the worst Metallica studio album.  Fans rip it for the production issues (Ulrich’s’ drums sound like garbage cans) to the lack of really any good song.  It’s a long, meandering, and painful listen.  While opening number, Frantic, and the title track get the album off to a decent start (make no mistake, these two songs are not classics by any means), the rest of St. Anger is extremely forgettable.  Chalk this one up to a band going through its most stressful period in its history.

Best Song:  Frantic

Best Deep Cut:  Tough to pick one, but if I must, I’ll go with Invisible Kid.

#9

Reload-1997

Part two of the Load sessions, Reload was released in late 1997.  It is clear to me that this collection of songs were the leftovers from the previous year’s release (more on that record further up the rankings).  While this is an okay album, it pales in comparison to anything in the top five.  There’s really little to say about this effort.

Best Song:  Fuel

Best Deep Cut:  Fixxxer

#8

Death Mannetic-2008

We’re now getting to the point in the countdown where even a low-ranking album is still a good one.  That is the case here with Death Magnetic.  This was Metallica’s return to its “old” sound, the frenetically paced opener, the ballad turned thrasher, the instrumental.  By all accounts, it was a successful return to form for the band.

Best Song:  The Day That Never Comes

Best Deep Cut:  That Was just Your Life 

#7

Load-1996

This album was the long-awaited follow up to the record-setting “Black Album.”  Whether it was the five year wait or the changes in the music industry, Load did not come close to meeting most fan’s expectations.  To make matters worse for many people, band members had the audacity to cut their hair!  “This is not the Metallica I knew and loved!”

I could care less about the hair, and I think this is a pretty strong album.  The band continued their trend of creating straightforward hard rock songs.  This record would be further up the list if not for a couple of filler songs in the second half.  In fact, if you combined the best of Load with the best of Reload, you would have a great album.  The first seven songs are really good, with a couple of others in the back half that are right up there.

Best Song:  Bleeding Me

Best Deep Cut:  The Outlaw Torn

#6

Hardwired to Self-Destruct-2016

We had to wait eight years from Death Magnetic to the next full length studio album.  Man, it was worth the wait!  To be honest, I didn’t think Metallica had this in them.  From the frantic pace of the title track and through mid-tempo thrashers, Atlas Rise! and Moth into Flame, and into an underrated second half, this record is as close to a classic as I believe Metallica can produce at this point in their career.  The song, Halo on Fire is the album’s finest moment, however, an epic journey consisting of shifts in tempo and power, starting subtly and ending with a bang.

Best Song:  Halo on Fire

Best Deep Cut:  Confusion

#5

Kill ‘Em All-1983

The one that got it all started.  Here is the album that helped usher in the thrash genre and gave folks an idea what the underground was already well aware of.  Originally titled, Metal Up Your Ass, Kill ‘Em All featured the all out assault of Hit the Lights, to the galloping beat of The Four Horsemen, and the anthemic Seek and Destroy, still a vital part of the band’s live setlist.  Hetfield’s teenage vocals croak at times, lacking the precision that we will hear on further releases, but the band makes a statement.  Furthermore, (Anesthesia)-Pulling Teeth gives the listener an insight to the instrumental wizardry of bassist Cliff Burton.

Best Song:  No Remorse

Best Deep Cut:  No Remorse

#4

Metallica (Black Album)-1991

Besides the eight years and maturity in songwriting and performing, the Black Album provides a sharp contrast in styles between it and Metallica’s debut record.  Gone are the fast-paced album openers and eight-minute epic songs that change time signature and move in 14 different directions.  In its place are 12 numbers, none that are more than mid-tempo, ranging anywhere from four to six minutes. 

from four to six minutes. 

A hint of thrash in many of these songs, Metallica is much more hard rock than speed metal.  Produced by pop rock legend Bob Rock, this is the record that turned Metallica from thrash metal kings to the biggest rock band in the world.  The album spawned five singles, each with its MTV music video accompaniment. Enter Sandman, The Unforgiven, and Nothing Else Matters became huge radio hits and are mainstays on classic rock radio today. The supporting tour saw the band on the road for two and a half years on what was by far the biggest tour in all the land.  I still say the two best concerts I have ever been to have been the two I saw supporting this album.

Best Song:  Wherever I May Roam

Best Deep Cut:  Through the Never

#3

….And Justice for All-1988

Between Kill ‘Em All and the black album, Metallica released three absolute thrash metal classics.  Coming in at number three is And Justice For All, which saw the debut on a full length effort by new bassist Jason Newsted.  Following the death of Cliff Burton in a tragic tour bus accident, and combined with natural angst, whether from his childhood or things in the world that simply pissed him off, Hetfield turned in a hopelessly angry performance with his lyrics and vocal snarl. 

Perhaps the one factor pushing And Justice For All to number three is its production.  For reasons rumored to be linked to the harsh initiation of Newsted, the bass guitar is hardly heard throughout the album, which is primarily all guitars.  The drums sound as if they are in a tunnel and have drawn their share of criticism from fans and critics alike, despite being arguably Ulrich’s finest effort in terms of his technical playing.  This record is a double kick drum clinic throughout.  It bears mentioning, however, that I have listed to this album so much, that I relate these nine songs to its production, warts, and all

The song, One, was used as the band’s first ever music video, and shot up the MTV charts.  This is also the first album in the countdown where it is nearly impossible to pick one best song and one best deep cut.  Simply put, there are plenty of days where And Justice For All would make the top spot on this list.

Best Song:  Blackened

Best Deep Cut:  Blackened

#2

Ride the Lightning-1984

The follow up to the 1983 debut saw Metallica make significant strides in its songwriting and production.  It was clear that someone was investing more money into the band.  The album saw them enhance their songs away from the one trick pony blasters of Kill ‘Em All and toward the lengthy opuses that would make up the next few records.

Examples of Metallica’s rise in maturity can be found in the death march of For Whom the Bell Tolls and in its first “ballad,” Fade to Black, where the song starts out slow and sweet and turns into an all-out thrasher.  The title track gives the listener the first glimpse into what the future beholds with the title tracks of its next two releases (Master of Puppets and ….And Justice for All), with its epic journey from tempo to tempo.  Meanwhile, fans of the first album can still rejoice with the freight train tempos of album opener Fight Fire With Fire and Trapped Under Ice.

Best Song:  Fade to Black

Best Deep Cut:  Ride the Lightning

#1

Master of Puppets-1986

We have reached the best of the best, and if we’re talking about an album that ranks as Metallica’s best, it must be an amazing album!  And this one is.  Every track from top to finish is an epic.

Where do we start?  The album kicks off with the instant classic, Battery, another speed metal opener in the vein of Fight Fire With Fire and the to be released Blackened from the next album.  The title track is next, and is, to me, undoubtedly Metallica’s best track, with its chugging thrash metal riffage, complete with a harmonic guitar solo breakdown in the middle.  (Welcome Home) Sanitarium follows Fade to Black, in its ballad turned thrash song by the end.

Side Two includes the galloping Disposable Heroes and culminates with another blast beat track, Damage Inc.  However, it is the 10 plus minute instrumental, Orion, that highlights the second half of the record.  This number includes a long, haunting, and melodic bass guitar section in the middle, showcasing once again the unbelievable skills of Cliff Burton.

Best Song:  Master of Puppets

Best Deep Cut:  Orion