Metal Monday 5-9-2022

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.

After a lengthy hiatus, we will study the albums of Nirvana.  This Washington state group is often credited with bringing alternative music to the mainstream, combining punk music with melody and pop.  Furthermore, Nirvana is considered to be the kingpins of the grunge scene that also produced Seattle area outfits, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden.

Nirvana was founded by vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic.  After a series of drummers, the band’s classic line-up was formed with the initiation of Dave Grohl. 

Up front, I must say that back in the day, I loathed any of the grunge bands, considering them to be murderers of my beloved hair metal.  However, after decades of (mostly) maturing, I must admit that rock music needed something to kick the genre in the behind, as hard rock had become cheesy and watered down (Remember Danger Danger, anyone?).  I have grown to admit that I enjoy Nirvana and their counterparts.

I also must break free from my standard of only ranking studio albums.  While Nirvana only had three full length LP’s, they released an EP with plenty of unreleased material, as well as a wonderful live Unplugged record that contained several dynamic cover songs.  Please forgive me!

#5

Incesticide-1992

While not a proper follow up to the 1991 smash breakthrough, Nevermind, this collection of songs include many tracks that would become fan favorite deep cuts, some of which were part of the group’s, Hormoaning EP, as well as staples in the band’s live set.

Best Song:  Sliver

Best Deep Cut:  Sliver

#4

In Utero-1993

The final release during Kurt Cobain’s lifetime, In Utero had the unfair and daunting task of following up Nevermind.  This record contains hits, All Apologies, Heart-Shaped Box, and Pennyroyal Tea, as well as fan favorites, Rape Me and Dumb.

Best Song:  Heart-Shaped Box

Best Deep Cut:  Rape Me 

#3

MTV Unplugged in New York-1994

OK, I normally wouldn’t put a live or unplugged record in my rankings, however, with the addition of several amazing cover songs, I view this to be a separate Nirvana album on its own.  The band eschewed the unplugged tradition of simply regurgitating its big hits acoustically, as mega songs Smells Like Teen Spirit and Lithium are nowhere to be found.  Rather, the group performed deeper cuts On a Plain, Something in the Way, and About a Girl among others.  Meanwhile the cover versions of David Bowie’s The Man Who Sold the World, the Meat Puppet’s Lake of Fire, and the brilliant rendition of Leadbelly’s Where Did You Sleep Last Night became new Nirvana songs to most fans.

Best Song:  Where Did You Sleep Last Night

Best Deep Cut:  Where Did You Sleep Last Night

#2

Bleach-1989

Nirvana’s studio debut flew under the radar until the band’s smash Nevermind boosted its sales a couple of years later.  The album features cult hits Blew, Floyd the Barber, and About a Girl, the latter gaining in popularity by its inclusion on the unplugged record.  Bleach is a more than respectable debut.

Best Song:  About a Girl

Best Deep Cut:  Blew

Nevermind-1991

The band’s gigantic breakthrough transformed an entire genre that sent those who enjoyed mainstream success in the 80’s into small clubs and dive bars.  The hits are plentiful with Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come as You Are, Lithium, and Polly.  Meanwhile, the album is strong from start to finish, with deeper tracks more than holding up.  Give a listen to On a Plain, Breed, Drain You, Territorial Pissings, and the amazing Lounge Act.

Best Song:  Lounge Act

Best Deep Cut:  Lounge Act

Metal Monday 4-11-2022

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.

I understand it may not be totally metal, but this week I am ranking Foo Fighter albums.  The Foos are an alternative rock/post-grunge band, with elements of hard rock and pop rock, so they are close enough to the bands I have covered in weeks past.  Furthermore, I am honoring the late Taylor Hawkins, the band’s drummer since the late nineties who tragically passed away in March.

The Foo Fighters started as a one-man project by Nirvana drummer, Dave Grohl, who found himself without a band following the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.  In fact, Grohl sang and played all the instruments on the 1995 debut record.  Eventually, Grohl collaborated with other musicians, with the long-time line-up consisting of Grohl on vacals/guitars, Hawkins on drums, Nate Mendel on bass, Pat Smear on guitar, Rami Jaffee on keyboards, as well as guitarist Chris Shifflet.

#10:

One by One-2002

Although the album features standout tracks, All My Life and Times Like These, as well as the heavy, Low, there is a lot of filler on the record, which makes One by One the worst of the bunch.

Best Song:  All My Life

Best Deep Cut:  Come Back

#9:

There is Nothing Left to Lose-1999

The first album to feature Hawkins, it provides the listener the hit Learn to Fly, as well as the outstanding Stacked Actors.  Meanwhile, Breakout and Next Year were minor hits.  As is the case with One by One, there is enough filler material to keep this record from climbing higher on this list.

Best Song:  Stacked Actors

Best Deep Cut:  Gimme Stitches

#8:

In Your Honor-2005

A double album, In Your Honor contains the harder rock material on disc one, while disc two is full of acoustic tracks.  If anything, you must applaud the band for changing things up a bit.  Disc one is the better of the two, and features the smash hit Best of You, as well as No Way Back, DOA, and the title cut.  Virginia Moon and Cold Day in the Sun highlight the second disc. 

Best Song:  Best of You

Best Deep Cut:  In Your Honor

#7:

Foo Fighters-1995

The band’s debut is actually a one-man band, save for a couple of minor collaborators.  Grohl does it all on this one.  The record is steeped in the grunge style of Grohl’s previous outfit, Nirvana, as he had yet to transform his sound into what became the gazillion dollar outfit the Foos are today.  There are a couple of classics on this one, This is a Call and Big Me (Mentos anyone?).

Best Song:  This is a Call

Best Deep Cut:  Alone + Easy Target

#6:

Concrete and Gold-2017

While the latter-day Foo Fighters albums might not contain an anthemic single, there is still plenty of solid music to discover.  Case in point, Run, The Sky is a Neighborhood, Sunday Rain, and The Line, all highlights of this 2017 offering.

Best Song:  Sunday Rain

Best Deep Cut:  Sunday Rain

#5:

Medicine at Midnight-2021

The final album to feature drummer Taylor Hawkins, Medicine at Midnight is a tidy 9-song, 36-minute collection that proves the band still has plenty left in the tank, if, sadly, they must carry on without their longtime skinsman. 

Best Song:  Cloudspotter

Best Deep Cut:  Cloudspotter

#4:

Echoes, Silence, Patience, Grace-2007

It seems like every Foo Fighters album features a classic song, and this one is no different with The Pretender.  Meanwhile, Let it Die, Long Road to Ruin, Come Alive, Stanger Things Have Happened, and Statues make up a strong record.

Best Song:  The Pretender

Best Deep Cut:  Come Alive

#3:

Sonic Highways-2014

Again, hand it to the band for going outside the box.  On Sonic Highways, they travelled to eight different cities (the album contains eight tracks), and interviewed musicians, producers, and engineers to learn more about the musical history in each city.  Collaborators on the record include Rick Nielson (Cheap Trick), Zac Brown, and Joe Walsh.

Best Song:  Congregation

Best Deep Cut:  I Am a River

#2:

The Colour and the Shape-1997

The first Foo Fighters album as a full band, The Colour and the Shape includes guitarist Pat Smear, bassist Nate Mendel, and drummer William Goldsmith.  The record features huge radio hits that catapulted the group into superstar status; Everlong, Monkey Wrench, and My Hero, while also containing strong deep cuts such as, My Poor Brain, Up in Arms, and February Stars.

Best Song:  Everlong

Best Deep Cut:  My Poor Brain

#1:

Wasting Light-2011

Do you want singalong, anthemic radio tracks?  These Days and Walk provide that for you.  Hard driving rockers?  Try Bridge Burning, Rope, and White Limo.  A haunting ballad?  I Should Have Known shall suffice.  Other shifty and catchy rock and roll tunes?  Dear Rosemary, Back and Forth and Miss the Misery will do the trick.  Simply put, Wasting Light is by far the greatest collection of songs by the Foo Fighters and remains the gold standard for which they have yet (but have come close) to achieve.

Best Song:  Miss the Misery

Best Deep Cut:  Miss the Misery

Metal Monday 2-28-2022

This week, we take a look at one of the more frustrating bands to come out during my formative years.  One whose music has not aged very well commercially and who may only be remembered by a small window of people who grew up in the 80’s.  This is a band that had all the tools to hit it big such as a killer guitar player, a lead singer with a robust vocal range, and songs filled with memorable hooks and alluring harmonies.  But alas, it was a band that couldn’t get out of its own way.  We are talking about Dokken.

Dokken was a very talented band whose early catalog ranks up there with most artists from the hair metal days.  Unfortunately, they became an all-too-common victim of what got a lot of bands from that era, namely ego and internal strife.  Vocalist Don Dokken and uber-talented guitarist George Lynch hated each other to the point that the band ceased to exist right at the height of their popularity, reconvening in the mid-nineties when groups of the hard rock/hair metal regime had fallen off the popularity pedestal in favor of grunge.

It was fun while it lasted.  For a stretch from about 1983 to 1988, Dokken, at least from a musical standpoint, was at the top of its game.  Don Dokken and Lynch were complimented nicely by a strong rhythm section in bassist Jeff Pilson and drummer Mick Brown.  When I need that little kick of nostalgia, Dokken is one of my go-to bands.  Here are their studio albums ranked from worst to best.

#11:

Shadowlife-1997

A sharp change in direction to alternative rock, this one is perhaps the band’s most criticized.  While there are some decent moments, notably, Bitter Regret, there is a more than a fighting chance I may never listen to this album again.

Best Song:  Bitter Regret

Best Deep Cut:  Bitter Regret

#10

Dysfunctional-1995

Dokken reunited for this one, which was originally expected to be a Don Dokken solo effort.  The album flopped commercially, mostly since bands of this mold were not well received at the time.  There is a subtle shift from the melodic hard rock the band hit it big with to a sound more akin to the alternative style that was hitting the airwaves.  It’s not a bad record at all; it’s just not a great Dokken release.

Best Song:  Too High to Fly

Best Deep Cut:  Too High to Fly

#9

Erase the Slate-1999

Erase the Slate is a step back toward the classic hard rock sound that made Dokken successful, albeit with plenty of late nineties production.  The title track, Maddest hatter, Shattered, and Haunted Lullabye are the highlights.  This would be the one album to feature guitarist Reb Beach and the final one bassist Jeff Pilson plays on.

Best Song:  Maddest Hatter

Best Deep Cut:  Maddest Hatter

#8

Long Way Home-2002

The first Dokken album to feature new bassist Barry Sparks, and the only one consisting of Europe guitarist John Norum, Long Way Home, although heavily influenced by the sounds of millennial modern rock (at least in terms of production), offers glimpses of the band from yesteryear.  Namely, the occasional signature Don Dokken wail that was prevalent on the early records.  Give a listen to Sunless Dyas, Little Girl, Magic Road, There Was a Time, and the cover of the Yardbirds’, Heart Full of Soul.

Best Song:  Magic Road

Best Deep Cut:  Magic Road

#7

Hell to Pay-2004

Oh, what could have been.  Hell to Pay, the first record to feature guitarist Jon Levin, starts out like a ball of fire before a nondescript ballad zaps all of the momentum that the band never recaptures.  Indeed, The Last Goodbye, Don’t Bring Me Down, Escape, Haunted, and Prozac Nation have the listener wondering to what heights Dokken can take them.  Unfortunately, Care for You begins the decline that sees the album close with five ballads out of the final seven songs.  That said, the first five songs are so strong, it lifts the album up to this rather high ranking on the list.  How high could it have gone?

Best Song:  Escape

Best Deep Cut:  Escape

#6

Broken Bones-2012

The latest Dokken album, it is the first not to feature drummer Mick Brown, who was unavailable.  Veteran Jimmy DeGrasso filled in behind the kit.  Meanwhile, bassist Barry Sparks had given way to Sean McNabb for this one.  Broken Bones is a fine release that continues the band’s recent attempt to come full circle regarding its sound.  Listen to Empire, Best of Me, Victim of the Crime, For the Last Time, Tonight, and the title track.

Best Song:  For the Last Time

Best Deep Cut:  For the Last Time

#5:

Lightning Strikes Again-2008

A triumphant return to the classic Dokken sound, Lightning Strikes Again takes its name from a song of the same title off the Under Lock and Key album.  After two decades of sonic and style experimentation, some good, some bad, it is refreshing to listen to a record from the band that pays homage to yesteryear.  Standing on the Outside, Give Me a Reason, Heart to Stone, Point of No Return, Judgement Day, and This Fire are the strengths of Dokken’s finest release since 1987.

Best Song:  Point of No Return

Best Deep Cut:  Point of No Return

#4:

Breaking the Chains-1981

The band’s debut, originally released in Europe in 1981, Breaking the Chains saw the light of day in the US in 1983.  Considered a failure by Elektra Records, Dokken’s management had to convince the label to give the band another chance.  The lead-off title track is the best song here, while Felony, Stick to Your Guns, and the live cut Paris is Burning are notable.  

Best Song:  Breaking the Chains

Best Deep Cut:  Paris is Burning

#3:

Back for the Attack-1987

This is the final record before the band broke up for the first time, and it was not a bad way to go out, even if the group killed its own ascent by imploding.  There are plenty of hits, including Burning Like a Flame, Heaven Sent, Prisoner, and opener, Kiss of Death.  In addition, album strengths include a remake of Dream Warriors, as well as the Lynch-led instrumental, Mr. Scary.  These moments overshadow some of the filler, no doubt due to the ambition of releasing 13 songs.

Best Song:  Kiss of Death

Best Deep Cut:  Standing in the Shadows

#2:

Tooth and Nail-1884

Dokken made good on its promise to its label with the strong Tooth and Nail.  The album is chock full of the formula that made a band successful in the day with loud crunchy guitars, screeching vocals, and catchy choruses.  There are four Dokken classics on this one:  the title cut, Just Got Lucky, Into the Fire, and Alone Again.  Don’t fall asleep on Turn on the Action.   

Best Song:  Into the Fire

Best Deep Cut:  Turn on the Action

#1:

Under Lock and Key-1985

The best Dokken album was released in 1985.  The trifecta of Unchain the Night, The Hunter, and In My Dreams gets things off to a rollicking start, while It’s Not Love is noted for its popular MTV video.  Songs to maybe revisit include Lightnin’ Strikes Again, Jaded Heart, and Don’t Lie to Me.

Best Song:  In My Dreams

Best Deep Cut:  Lightnin’ Strikes Again

Metal Monday 2-14-2022

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 are discussing, perhaps the baddest band in rock and roll, Motorhead.  This English outfit came out in the seventies as a trio, although during a stretch of their history, acted as a quartet.  The group’s classic line-up consisted of Ian “Lemmy” Kilmister on bass guitar and lead vocals, “Fast” Eddie Clark on guitar, and Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor on drums, although guitarists Wurzel, and especially Phil Campbell had long tenures in the group.  Meanwhile, drummer Mikkey Dee pounded the skins for more than 20 years.

Motorhead has been considered to be of many genres, including heavy metal, however, prided itself on being a simple rock and roll band.  Lemmy began most concerts by proclaiming, “We are Motorhead and we play rock and roll.”  Its classic line-up abandoned for good in the early nineties, Lemmy, Campbell, and Dee carried on until Lemmy’s death in 2015, permanently ending the band.

Speaking of Lemmy, in my opinion, there is perhaps not a cooler rock star figure that ever lived.  Known for enjoying his Jack and Cokes, and seemingly always puffing on a cigarette, along with his well-known reputation of extreme hard living, it amazes me he lived until age 70.  His on-stage humor, presence, and charisma only adds to his coolness.  The man dressed in black and demonstrated one of the iconic stances when singing into the microphone.  Long live Motorhead!

#23

March or Die-1992

Coming off the success of the 1916 record a year earlier, Motorhead attempted to hit it commercially.  Unfortunately, the effort failed, resulting in the worst album in the band’s catalog.  Stand and Jack the Ripper are the highlights, however, the highlights are few and far between.

Best Song:  Stand

Best Deep Cut:  Stand

#22

Snake Bite Love-1998

There’s not much to say about this one.  To me, this is a very uneventful album, one that offers nothing new (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and, unfortunately, one whose songs are less than memorable.

Best Song:  Dogs of War

Best Deep Cut:  Dogs of War

#21

Kiss of Death-2006

An average offering at best, Kiss of Death, most likely not deliberate, presents a sound at times more akin to the days’ modern rock groups, rather than anything cutting edge or resembling the classic Motorhead sound of albums before.  Devil I Know and Christine are the only tracks that make me turn my head. 

Best Song:  Christine

Best Deep Cut:  Christine

#20

Iron Fist-1982

Plagued by production problems, as well as having to follow the topflight live album No Sleep ‘til Hammersmith, Iron Fist was the last to feature the classic line-up.  It’s a record whose many songs were written in the studio, with a rushed effort being the result.  At least the title track is a classic.

Best Song:  Iron Fist

Best Deep Cut:  Iron Fist 

#19

On Parole-1979

What was intended to be the Motorhead’s debut album in 1976, On Parole was released three years later, to the band’s chagrin, who do not consider it to be an official release.  There are some decent tracks here, including Motorhead, Lost Johnny (both on the band’s self-titled record), the title track, City Kids, and Fools.

Best Song:  Fools

Best Deep Cut:  Fools

#18

Motorhead-1977

A very punkish debut, the album solidified the patented Motorhead sound, with Lemmy’s throated vocals, Eddie’s chugging guitars, and Philty’s thunderous drumming.  As far as debut records, you could do worse.

Best Song:  Motorhead

Best Deep Cut:  Motorhead

#17

Overnight Sensation-1996

The band transitioned back to a three-piece unit following Wurzel’s departure.  The result was a heavy if uneven album.  Mid-nineties vocal effects were very much in play on this record that at times, sounds a bit dated.  That said, Civil War, Crazy Like a Fox, and the title cut are decent tracks.

Best Song:  Crazy Like a Fox

Best Deep Cut:  Crazy Like a Fox

#16

Hammered-2002

A solid collection of new tracks, Hammered fits nicely alongside 2000’s We Are Motorhead as more than respectable representations of what the band had to offer in the 21st century.  Walk a Crooked Mile, Brave New World, Mine All Mine, and Red Raw draw most of my attention.

Best Song:  Walk a Crooked Mile

Best Deep Cut:  Walk a Crooked Mile

#15

We Are Motorhead-2000

The band’s first output of the new century has some moments, including the thrashing See Me Burning, the grooving Slow Dance, a cover of the Sex pistols’ God Save the Queen, and a ballad titled, One More Fu*&#ng Time.  At least the record proved that the band still had some gas left in the tank at this point in its career.

Best Song:  Slow Dance

Best Deep Cut:  Slow Dance

#14

Bad Magic-2015

Sadly, this is the final Motorhead album, as Lemmy would pass away soon after its release.  That said, considering the man was almost 70 years old, Bad Magic is not a bad way to go out.  There are highlights here for sure.  Take a listen to Victory or Die, Thunder and Lightning, Fire Storm Hotel, The Devil, and the ballad Till the End.

Best Song:  The Devil

Best Deep Cut:  The Devil

#13

Motorizer-2008

This is another underrated album that hits the listener in the face with tracks such as Runaround Man, Where the Eagle Screams, and Buried Alive.  Meanwhile, other highlights include Teach You How to Sing the Blues and The Thousand names of GodMotorizer is a significant upgrade over 2006’s Kiss of Death.

Best Song:  Runaround Man

Best Deep Cut:  Runaround Man

#12

Another Perfect Day-1983

The only release to feature Thin Lizzy’s Brian Robertson on guitar, Another Perfect Day is a decent offering with stellar production, despite Lemmy’s claim that it is the band’s, “most hated album.”  Back at the Funny farm, Shine, Dancing on Your Grave, and the title cut are the highlights.

Best Song:  Back at the Funny Farm

Best Deep Cut:  Back at the Funny Farm

#11

Rock and Roll-1987

Philty Animal came back for this record, one that is often overlooked by diehard fans.  The opening one-two punch of the title cut and Eat the Rich get things off to a rollicking start, while Stone Deaf in the USA, The Wolf, and Dogs are worthy of a listen.

Best Song:  Eat the Rich

Best Deep Cut:  Eat the Rich

#10

Sacrafice-1995

A heavy album, most likely in part to the tension within the band, primarily surrounding second guitarist Wurzel, who was claimed to already have had one foot out the door during the recording process.  The title track, Sex and Death, Over Your Shoulder, Dog-Face Boy, and All Gone to Hell highlight the record.

Best Song:  Over Your Shoulder

Best Deep Cut:  Over Your Shoulder

#9

Inferno-2004

When you thought that Motorhead might be at risk of becoming a nostalgia act, they surprised you with a strong album.  Case in point, 2004’s InfernoTerminal Show gets things off to a thrashy start, while Killers might be the best number from the band in the entire 2000’s, while making a case for the 90’s, as well.  Meanwhile, In the Name of Tragedy is a mid-tempo, catchy thrasher that sticks in your head.  Suicide, In the Black, In the Year of the Wolf, and Keys to the Kingdom are other key highlights to focus on.  The record closes with the acoustic blues track, Whorehouse Blues

Best Song:  Killers

Best Deep Cut:  Killers

#8

Aftershock-2013

Motorhead appeals to me mainly because of its versatility.  They can tap into a plethora of genres of rock, including the high-octane tempos of thrash and heavy metal, hard driving straight up rock, and heavy tunes mixed with a blues influence.  When they mix things up from song to song on an album, I’m hooked.  Aftershock does this for me.  Although the filler is limited, I do tend to think 14 songs is a bit too much.  However, I am nitpicking here. 

Best Song:  Heartbreaker

Best Deep Cut:  Heartbreaker

#7

Bastards-2003

A more than formidable comeback from the career low March or Die a year earlier, Bastards features a strong first half, including On Your Feet or Knees, Burner, I Am the Sword, and Born to Raise Hell.  Meanwhile, the album’s biggest surprise is the haunting Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me, a song that tackles child molestation, sung beautifully and only in a way that Lemmy could.

Best Song:  Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me

Best Deep Cut:  Don’t Let Daddy Kiss Me

#6

The World is Yours-2010

A late career masterpiece, The World is Yours was dedicated to the late Ronnie James Dio, who passed away earlier in the year.  There is no shortage of strong tracks here, with many being in the vein of the hard driving, mid-tempo, thrash metal that greatly appeals to yours truly.  The highlights a plenty, including, but certainly not limited to, Born to Lose, I Know How to Die, Get Back in Line, Devils in My Head, and Outlaw.

Best Song:  Get Back in Line

Best Deep Cut:  Get Back in Line

#5

Bomber-1979

In the precarious position of being sandwiched between classic releases Overkill and Ace of Spades, Bomber sometimes gets a bad rap.  It’s unfortunate because there are some great tracks on this record.  Dead Men Tell No Tales, Lawman, Stone Dead Forever, All the Aces, and the title track are the highlights.  Plus, the lighting rig from the concert tour was brilliant! 

Best Song:  Bomber

Best Deep Cut:  Bomber

#4

1916-1991

This is an album that displays a wide variety of Motorhead’s musical influence.  Singles The One to Sing the Blues, I’m So Bad (Baby I Don’t Care, and No Voices in the Sky triumphantly lead off the record, dripped in hard rock and heavy metal.  Going to Brazil and Angel City bring a fifties honky tonk mix to the table, while R.A.M.O.N.E.S. appeals to the punks.  Meanwhile, the band brings something new in the form of a ballad with Love Me Forever.  Perhaps the biggest shock is a vulnerable Lemmy crooning his ode to fallen soldiers in World War One with the album-ending title cut.  The versatility works beautifully.  This is a go-to Motorhead album for me.

Best Song:  Going to Brazil

Best Deep Cut:  Going to Brazil

#3

Orgasmitron-1986

An outstanding album in which all nine tracks are at least solid, with some being brilliant.  Deaf Forever is one of my favorite Motorhead songs of all time, while Nothing Up My Sleeve, Ain’t My Crime, Mean Machine, Doctor Rock, and the title cut all more than worthy of your attention.

Best Song:  Deaf Forever

Best Deep Cut:  Deaf Forever

#2

Ace of Spades-1980

Now we are entering revered territory.  The album features so many outstanding tracks, including the anthemic title cut, as well as Live to Win, Fast and Loose, (We Are) The Road Crew, Jailbait, and the amazing The Chase is Better Than the Catch.  You could easily make the argument that this record belongs in the top spot, however, that only speaks to the strength of the number one album in the band’s catalog.

Best Song:  Ace of Spades

Best Deep Cut:  The Chase is Better Than the Catch

#1

Overkill-1979

A vast improvement over its debut, Motorhead hit it out of the park with its second release.  My go-to Motorhead record that has no weak moments.  All-time classics such as the title cut, Stay Clean, No Class, and Damage Case highlight the record.  Meanwhile, Overkill is strengthened by spectacular deep tracks (I Won’t) Pay Your Price, I’ll Be Your Sister, Capricorn, and Metropolis

Best Song:  Stay Clean

Best Deep Cut:  Metropolis

Rush Albums Ranked Worst to First

Those who know me understand I’m an album ranking guy. With RUSH being one of my favorite bands, it’s probably only a matter of time before I take a shot at it! Until then, enjoy this ranking!

Drew's Reviews

Rush released their self-titled debut album in 1974 and today retains legions of fans who remain devoted to their music.

The biggest cult band in the world, routinely dismissed by mainstream music critics, seemed to finally get the respect they deserved on the tail-end of their career. Regardless, you don’t have to like Rush to at least recognize their influence in rock music. And, arguably, their effect in the lives of fans has no equal nor knows no bounds.

Geddy Lee,Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart indeed became a permanent presence for those who got them. Every few years an album followed by a tour. Almost like clockwork. If the future was looking dark, at least a new Rush album was in the works. But time doesn’t stand still…

Rush last performed on Aug. 1, 2015 in what some suspected was their last but many hoped simply drew…

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Metal Monday 12-20-2021

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.

We’re back to the album rankings this week.  I can think of no musician more fascinating than Ronnie James Dio.  Here is a legend that began his recording career in the infancy of rock and roll in the 1950s.  I am amazed at the number of musicians and classic acts that Dio has played with, from Richie Blackmore with Rainbow to Tony Iommi with Black Sabbath, not to mention those from his solo band.  In this ranking, we will span Dio’s career from Rainbow in 1975, through Sabbath in the early 80’s, and all the way through his solo catalogue. 

# 17: 

Dio-Angry Machines 1996

Recorded near the tail end of the grunge movement, even the great Ronnie James Dio succumbed to the curse that haunted many classic metal musicians by trying to fit into something he was not.  Easily the worst album of his career.

Best Song:  Don’t Tell the Kids

Best Deep Cut:  Don’t Tell the Kids

#16:

Dio-Magica 2000

I may get some flack from some of the diehards with this low ranking, as I find there are some niche Magica fans here.  Dio’s only true concept album, I find much of the record to be plodding and meandering.

Best Song:  Challis

Best Deep Cut:  Challis

#15

Dio-Lock Up the Wolves 1990

Again, not much to write home about when compared to earlier Dio offerings.  This is the record that features then-18-year-old guitarist, Rowan Robertson.

Best Song:  Evil on Queen Street

Best Deep Cut:  Evil on Queen Street

#14

Dio-Strange Highways 1993

A heavy record, I find Strange Highways to fly under the radar a littlePerhaps this is because it came out at the height of grunge.  Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost and the title track stand up to just about anything in Dio’s catalogue. 

Best Song:  Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost

Best Deep Cut:  Jesus Mary and the Holy Ghost

#13:

Dio-Master of the Moon 2004

The final Dio solo album was a very good one.  One More For the Road, the title track, and Then End of the World get things off to a strong start, while Living the Lie and In Dreams highlight the second half.

Best Song:  Living the Lie

Best Deep Cut:  Living the Lie 

#12:

Black Sabbath-Dehumanizer 1992

The first reunion to feature Dio and drummer Vinny Appice with Sabbath, Dehumanizer is by far the weakest of the three albums to feature Dio on vocals.  The time together turned out to be short lived, as well. 

Best Song:  Too Late

Best Deep Cut:  Too Late

#11:

Dio-Dream Evil 1987

Guitarist Craig Goldy’s debut with the band has its moments but continues a noticeable downward spiral that started with 1985’s Sacred HeartNight People offers an all-out thrash blitz, while the title cut, and Sunset Superman are worthy of a listen.

Best Song:  Dream Evil

Best Deep Cut:  Night People

#10

Heaven and Hell-The Devil You Know 2009

Sadly, this is the final studio album to feature Ronnie on vocals.  Indeed, this is not a bad way to go out.  Due to Black Sabbath currently working with Ozzy Osbourne, this lineup featuring Dio, Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, and Vinny Appice went with the moniker, Heaven and Hell to avoid any confusion.  Atom Evil, Bible Black, Double the Pain, Eating the Cannibals, and Follow the Tears are the highlights for me.

Best Song:  Bible Black

Best Deep Cut:  Bible Black

#9: 

Dio-Killing the Dragon 2002

I feel this release does not get nearly enough love as it deserves.  For me personally, coming off two subpar records, Killing the Dragon represents a return to form of sorts.  Listen to the title cut, Along Comes a Spider, Push, and Guilty.

Best Song:  Killing the Dragon

Best Deep Cut:  Killing the Dragon

#8: 

Dio-Sacred Heart 1985

As mentioned above, Sacred Heart proved to be a drop off from the first two Dio albums, and was the final record to feature guitarist, Vivian Campbell.  There are some major highlights that save the record, namely, King of Rock and Roll, Rock ‘n’ Roll Children, and Hungry for Heaven.  Unfortunately, the rest offers too much filler material.

Best Song:  King of Rock and Roll

Best Deep Cut:  Sacred Heart

#7: 

Rainbow-Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll 1978

Dio’s last collaboration with Rainbow and Deep Purple guitarist, Ritchie Blackmore, Long Live Rock and Roll is the weakest of the lot, although there is plenty of solid material in the title track, Lady of the Lake, and the amazing Kill the King.

Best Song:  Kill the King

Best Deep Cut:  Lady of the Lake

#6: 

Black Sabbath-Mob Rules 1981

Dio’s second album with Sabbath is where I began to have trouble ranking the records.  The title cut and The Sign of the Southern Cross are classics.

Best Song:  The Sign of the Southern Cross

Best Deep Cut:  The Sign of the Southern Cross

#5: 

Dio-The Last in Line 1985

It’s hard to imagine that this outstanding record is only number five in this ranking.  That speaks volumes as to the strength of the four other releases above it.  The title cut, We Rock, Evil Eyes, and Egypt (The Chains Are On) are the highlights.

Best Song:  We Rock

Best Deep Cut:  Egypt (The Chains Are On)

#4: 

Black Sabbath-Heaven and Hell 1980

The first and finest Dio-led Sabbath album perhaps saved the doom metal legends’ career.  Side One is a masterpiece, with Neon Nights, Children of the Sea, Lady Evil, and the title cut.  Meanwhile, don’t fall asleep on Side Two.

Best Song:  Neon Nights

Best Deep Cut:  Lady Evil

#3: 

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow-1975

Deep Purple’s Ritchie Blackmore’s new band, before it shortened its name to simply, Rainbow. Man on the Silver Mountain is the big hit here, however, Black Sheep of the family, The Temple of the King, and If You Don’t Like Rock and Roll secure this album as an all-time Dio-fronted classic.

Best Song:  Man on the Silver Mountain

Best Deep Cut:  Black Sheep of the Family

#2: 

Rainbow-Rising 1976

Dio and Blackmore outdid themselves with the follow up to their debut.  Tarot Woman and Starstruck highlight the first half, while Stargazer and A Light in the Black offer an epic one-two closing punch.

Best Song:  Tarot Woman

Best Deep Cut:  A light in the Black

#1: 

Dio-Holy Diver 1983

Dio’s first solo album is an all-time rock and roll classic, complete with an all-star band of Vivian Campbell on guitar, Jimmy Bain on bass, and Vinny Appice on drums.  The record provides everything, including huge hits, such as the title track and Rainbow in the Dark.  Meanwhile, Stand Up and Shout, Don’t Talk to Strangers, and Straight Through the Heart offers undeniably great deep cuts. 

Best Song:  Holy Diver

Best Deep Cut:  Stand Up and Shout

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