Metal Monday 1-10-2022:

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.

Today, we focus on the lengthy and successful career of the Scorpions.  This German quintet has been around for more than 50 years!  Starting out with a late-60’s hippie, psychedelic sound, the Scorps have progressed into a hard-driving hard rock outfit, and even had a few missteps along the way, including a misguided foray into regular pop.

Make no mistake about it, the Scorpions made their dough on the backs of the twin guitar attack of Rudolf Schenker and Matthias Jabs, with assists from legendary axemen Michael Schenker and Uli Jon Roth, both of whom preceded Jabs.  Original vocalist Klaus Meine is easily recognizable for his long wails and shrieks, traits that have not slowed down with age.  As this ranking will display, for my money, the period with the classic lineup of Meine, Rudolf Schenker, Jabs, along with bassist Francis Buchholz and drummer Herman Rarebell, churned out the best Scorpions records, although a few of the later releases work their way into the upper half of the catalogue. 

#18:

Eye II Eye 1999

It seems like every band has an album that alienates its fanbase (see Metallica’s St. Anger and Megadeth’s Trust).  Eye II Eye is the Scorpions’ bugaboo.  And this comes with plenty of merit.  The record displayed the furthest abandonment from its classic sound in its entire collection.

Best Song:  10 Light Years Away

Best Deep Cut:  10 Light Years Away

#17:

Lonesome Crow-1972

The very first release from the band found a band trying to find its collective way.  A melodic, yet dark effort that ventured into the psychedelic sound of the late sixties, it is also the only album with Michael Schenker until 1979’s Lovedrive

Best Song:  I’m Goin’ Mad

Best Deep Cut:  I’m Goin’ Mad

#16: 

Pure Instict-1996

Here is an album that I find it difficult to write anything for.  It’s not a terrible record, however, there really isn’t anything memorable here, either.

Best Song:  Wild Child

Best Deep Cut:  Wild Child

#15:

Face the Heat-1993

The wheels were starting to fall off some, here.  Longtime bassist Francis Buccholz was replaced by Ralph Rieckermann, while drummer Herman Rarebell would depart after the tour for this record.  In addition, grunge was spelling doom for just about any band that had achieved success in the 80’s.  Alien Nation and Under the Same Sun were the singles, but I really like the ballad, Lonely Nights.

Best Song:  Alien Nation

Best Deep Cut:  Lonely Nights

#14:

In Trance-1975

The longer psychedelic songs of the first two records were replaced with harder and more concise material.  The title cut, Dark Lady, and Robot Man are the highlights.

Best Song:  Robot Man

Best Deep Cut:  Robot Man

#13:

Return to Forever-2015

This is the latest Scorpions release, although a new record (Rock Believer) is due next month.  All in all, this is a fun collection of songs that is impressive for a group this long in the tooth.

Best Song:  Gypsy Life

Best Deep Cut:  Gypsy Life

#12:

Savage Amusement-1988

Sandwiched between classics, Love at First Sting and Crazy World, Savage Amusement is the lone outlier in a string of magnificent albums, which also include Taken by Force, Lovedrive, Animal Magnetism, and BlackoutRhythm of Love is the big single, and although it is more poppy and less crunchy than previous hits, I must admit my admiration for it.  Overall, the record is more synth-driven than I would like, and frankly, many of the songs are filler.

Best Song:  Rhythm of Love

Best Deep Cut:  We Let It Rock…You Let It Roll

#11:

Virgin Killer-1976

This record got most of its publicity from the controversial original cover.  It was another step toward the hard rock sound that the Scorpions would later perfect.  Perhaps no classic rock band’s progression has been as deliberate this one, but perhaps good things come to those who wait.  Check out the title track, Pictured Life, Backstage Queen, and Yellow Raven

Best Song:  Backstage Queen

Best Deep Cut:  Backstage Queen

#10: 

Humanity Hour I-2007

A concept album, this one is based on a storyline by Desmond Child and Liam Carl that deals with humans and robots engaging in a horrific civil war.  The record gets off to a solid start with Hour I, The Game of Life, and We Were Born to Fly321 is the album’s finest track, while Humanity closes the collection in fine order.  Unfortunately, there are plenty of skippable numbers in this offering, as well. 

Best Song:  321

Best Deep Cut:  321

#9:

Fly to the Rainbow-1974

The first Scorps release with Uli Jon Roth on guitar, Fly to the Rainbow represents an example of the slow, but apparent progression toward the sound it would come to be known for.  That said, the band had not yet dropped its trippy sound, altogether.  Speedy’s Coming and the title track bookend a very underrated album.

Best Song:  Speedy’s Coming

Best Deep Cut:  Speedy’s Coming

#8:

Unbreakable-2004

This record represents a return to rock and roll form for the band, following its disastrous venture into pop.  New Generation, Love ‘em or Leave ‘em, Blood Too Hot, and Someday is Now are the standouts.

Best Song:  Love ‘em or Leave ‘em

Best Deep Cut:   Love ‘em or Leave ‘em

#7:

Sting in the Tail-2010

By 2010, the Scorpions understood their identity, and it resulted in Sting in the Tail, its latest in a string of solid albums, following Unbreakable and Humanity Hour IRaised on Rock, The Good Die Young, Let’s Rock, and the title track are meat on the bone.

Best Song:  Sting in the Tail

Best Deep Cut:  The Good Die Young

#6:

Animal Magnetism-1980

This one often gets overlooked and a little disrespected, most likely because of the records that follow it.  However, do not sleep on Animal Magnetism, which feature two of my favorite Scorpions tunes, Make it Real and The Zoo.  Meanwhile, Lady Starlight and the title cut are worthy of listens, as well.

Best Song:  The Zoo

Best Deep Cut:  Lady Starlight

#5:

Taken by Force-1977

The final album featuring Uli Jon Roth, and the one that introduces drummer Herman Rarebell, Taken by Force is the final record released before the band started to get noticed in America, and is a fine album, indeed.  Steamrock Fever, We’ll Burn the Sky, The Sails of Charon, and He’s a Woman-She’s a Man are the standouts.

Best Song:  Steamrock Fever

Best Deep Cut:  Steamrock Fever

#4:

Lovedrive-1979

The fact that this is only the fourth ranked Scorpions album speaks volumes for the strength of what is ahead of it.  Lovedrive is the first release to feature guitarist Matthias Jab and solidified the lineup that would take the band through its glory days.  The highlights are many, from opener Loving You Sunday Morning, to Another Piece of Meat, Holiday, and the title track.  Meanwhile, the record’s finest hour is the instrumental, Coast to Coast.

Best Song:  Coast to Coast

Best Deep Cut:  Loving You Sunday Morning (although released as a single, I still believe it is overlooked)

#3: 

Crazy World-1990

This will always be the album known for the band’s biggest hit, Wind of Change, and for good reason.  Although overplayed by classic rock radio, it is a brilliant track.  Singles Tease Me Please Me, Don’t Believe Her, and Send Me an Angel further solidify the record, while deep cuts Lust or Love, To Be with You in Heaven, Restless Nights, and Hit Between the Eyes round out a fantastic release.

Best Song:  Wind of Change

Best Deep Cut:  Lust or Love

#2:

Blackout-1982

The band was gaining serious traction by this point.  Blackout starts with the rambunctious title track and is hardly finished.  Can’t Live Without You and No One Like You round out a powerful opening trifecta, while Dynamite, China White, and When the Smoke is Going Down highlight a strong, but overlooked second half.

Best Song:  Blackout

Best Deep Cut:  Dynamite

#1:

Love at First Sting-1984

The soundtrack to my junior high school years.  I still listen to this record fondly, as it brings me back to the days of denim jackets and high-top sneakers.  Megahits Rock You Like a Hurricane, Big City Nights, and the amazing ballad, Still Loving You highlight the album.  That said, the smash singles hardly make up the strength of the release.  Bad Boys Running Wild, I’m Leaving You, and Coming Home could easily have been career defining hits for lesser bands.  In addition, being a drummer, I remember the dirty looks I used to get from teachers for pounding the beat to Crossfire on my desk.  In reality, there is no chance Love at First Sting isn’t the number one album on this list.

Best Song:  Still Loving You

Best Deep Cut:  I’m Leaving You

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

Metal Monday 11-29-2021

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 are discussing the British sensations, Def Leppard.  Originally upstarts in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) movement in the late 1970’s, Def Leppard has transformed their sound throughout the decades, first hitting the mainstream has a hard-driving unit, before exploring with a variety of genres, including grunge and straight-up pop.  The band has experienced their share of hardships along the way, including the car accident in which drummer Rick Allen lost his arm, as well as the untimely death of guitarist Steve Clark.

#10: 

Slang-1996

Do you remember the grunge and alternative rock movement of the 1990’s?  I do.  I hated it back then.  It took away the feel-good, party rock and roll that I grew up on.  Today, I have grown in my musical taste and have accepted, and now even enjoy, some of the bands that thrived during this time.  However, it is not a good sound for Def Leppard.

Best Song:  Blood Runs Cold

Best Deep Cut:  Blood Runs Cold

#9: 

X-2002

Now, You’re Beautiful, Cry, and Scar are decent tracks, but still too much filler on this release.

Best Song:  You’re Beautiful

Best Deep Cut:  You’re Beautiful

#8: 

Euphoria-1999

This album marks a return towards the sound that most Def Leppard fans came to love, however, like X above, there is still too much filler on this record.  As I have lamented before, I would much rather listen to an album with 8-9 good tracks, than one with 13-14 songs just to fill a disc.  The hit, Promises, Demolition Man, and the wonderful, Paper Sun are the highlights here.

Best Song:  Paper Sun

Best Deep Cut:  Paper Sun

#7: 

Adrenalize-1992

This first album without Steve Clark has its moments, however, it was the first Def Leppard record that disappointed me overall.  While there is a collection of solid songs, such as Let’s Get Rocked, White Lightning, Stand Up (Kick Love into Motion), and Tear It Down, the album comes across as a little formulistic, with most of the material failing to stand up to previous releases.  Tonight has the potential to be a Def Leppard classic, however fizzles in the end.

Best Song:  White Lightning

Best Deep Cut:  White Lightning

#6: 

Songs From the Sparkle Lounge-2008

I must admit, I don’t believe I had ever listened to this record until I was preparing this column.  I had to scramble this weekend, as for some reason, this one slipped through the cracks.  I was pleasantly surprised once I did listen to it.  The album is full of catchy choruses with big hooks.  While impossible to compare to the brilliance of its earlier releases, the band delivered in a way few thought one at this stage in their career could.

Go, Nine Lives, C’mon C’mon, Tomorrow, and Gotta Let it Go are the highlights.

Best Song:  Tomorrow

Best Deep Cut:  Tomorrow

#5: 

Def Leppard-2015

I had heard Def Leppard’s self-titled release from 2015, although I needed to take the time to refamiliarize myself with it.  Much like with Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, this album is an overlooked surprise in the band’s catalogue.  Let’s Go, Dangerous, Man Enough, Forever Young, and Wings of an Angel are worthy of your time.

Best Song:  Let’s Go

Best Deep Cut:  Let’s Go

#4: 

On Through the Night-1980

You’re about to see where my allegiances lie regarding Def Leppard, seeing as the top four albums in this ranking are from the 80’s.  On Through the Night is the debut release and show a band who is raw and hungry to break out of obscurity.  While lacking the polish of future records, you begin to realize that Def Leppard was a band about to break out.

Rock Brigade, Hello America, and Wasted are criminally underrated DL classics in my book.

Best Song:  Wasted

Best Deep Cut:  Wasted

#3: 

Hysteria-1987

We go from the obscure to the ginormous opus with 1987’s Hysteria.  Released four years after the previous record, due, in most part, to the accident and amputation of Allen’s arm, the album brings to light the poppier side of the band, no doubt due to the electronic drum set-up Allen utilized.  The record spawned seven hit singles, and really took off when the third single, Pour Some Sugar on Me, hit the airwaves. 

Obviously, the hits are there, with Animal, Rocket, Armageddon It, Love Bites, and the title track all enjoying success on the charts, while the deep cuts are plentiful and fruitful, such as, Gods of War, Don’t Shoot Shotgun, and Excitable.

Best Song:  Hysteria

Best Deep Cut:  Excitable

#2: 

Pyromania-1983

Under the direction of hit maker Mutt Lange at the controls, the band catapulted into superstardom with this album.  There are plenty of hits, including, Photograph, Foolin,’ Rock of Ages, and the amazing, Too Late for Love.  Meanwhile, there is plenty more to knock your socks off with, Rock Rock (Till You Drop), Stagefright, Die Hard the Hunter, and Comin’ Under Fire.

Best Song:  Too Late for Love

Best Deep Cut:  Comin’ Under Fire

#1: 

High ‘n’ Dry-1981

One of my favorite albums of all time, High ‘n’ Dry features Def Leppard for the first time with Mutt Lange.  While only Bringing on the Heartbreak broke through as a major radio hit, the rest of the record is an absolute masterpiece.  One of the rare albums that has no bad songs, very similar to the debut Van Halen release.  I could name off the highlights, but I’ll save you some time and tell you to listen to the whole thing.

Best Song:  Lady Strange

Best Deep Cut:  Lady Strange 

Metal Monday 11-22-2021

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 take a look at a band from Southern California that is often credited with saving the fledgling rock and roll scene of the late 1970s.  Of course, we’re talking about Van Halen.

Any synopsis of this band would have to begin with the guitar wizardry of Eddie Van Halen, who gave rock music its first electric guitar virtuoso since Jimi Hendrix.  Brother Alex, himself extremely underrated, created numerous drum parts that were copied and covered by skinsmen from coast to coast.  And we couldn’t forget the flamboyant and bombastic original vocalist, David Lee Roth, who was without a doubt, one of the best frontmen of all time.

Perhaps one of the most impressive traits of Van Halen is that they didn’t record an album that was a complete flop, at least quality music-wise.  As you will see, even the lower ranking records have their share of fine moments, something that cannot be said of just about all the acts I have covered in this column.

#12:  

Van Halen III-1998

Poor Gary Cherone.  Already a successful and talented vocalist from the popular band, Extreme, he had the daunting task of replacing Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth in Van Halen.  He hadn’t stood a chance.  Nor did this album.

For all the strikes against this record from the start, and despite musical experimentations that would be considered unforgivable among Van Halen diehards, there is some impressive stuff here.  Without You, From Afar, Dirty Water Dog, Josephina, and Year to the Day are all worthy of your time.  But, alas, there must be a worst album in every band’s catalogue, and this would be it.  Poor Gary Cherone.

Best Song:  From Afar

Best Deep Cut:  From Afar 

#11:  

Diver Down-1982

Originally scheduled to record an EP, the band ultimately were pressured into a full long play, the result being a rushed and disorganized effort.  Cover songs were aplenty here, although Where Have All the Good Times Gone and (Oh) Pretty Woman were done nicely.  Little Guitars is the strongest original tune on the record.

Best Song:  Where Have All the Good Times Gone

Best Deep Cut:  Where Have All the Good Times Gone

#10:  

Balance-1995

The final Sammy Hagar album.  This one gets a bad rap and does have its share of filler.  However, the highlights are still plentiful and strong.  Radio hits, Can’t Stop Loving You, and Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do) are catchy enough, but it’s the deeper cuts that make the record go.  Listen to Big Fat Money, Not Enough, Aftershock, and the brilliant, Feelin’.

Best Song:  Feelin’

Best Deep Cut:  Feelin’

#9:  

A Different Kind of Truth-2012

You never thought it would happen, did you?  And when it did, you had no idea it would be this good, did you?  I’m talking about a new Van Halen record with David Lee Roth.  Containing riffs and lyrics left over from the 1970s and 80s, the album is as solid a release as could be expected from a band this late in its career.  

There is plenty to choose from on this album, including, Tattoo, She’s the Woman, You and Your Blues, Blood and Fire, As Is, The Trouble with Never, Outta Space, Beats Workin’, and the bluesy, Stay Frosty.  A triumphant return for the band’s original lineup.  Sadly, it would be the last.

Best Song:  The Trouble with Never

Best Deep Cut:  The Trouble with Never 

#8:  

OU812-1988

A strong album that features big singles When It’s Love and Finish What Ya Started.  However, again, the deep cuts mold the record.  Listen to Mine All Mine, AFU (Naturally Wired), Cabo Wabo, and Sucker in a 3 Piece.

Best Song:  Finish What Ya Started

Best Deep Cut:  Cabo Wabo

#7:  

For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge-1991

A commercial smash, F.U.C.K. (Get it?) spawned four hit singles, including, Poundcake, Runaround, Top of the World, and the piano driven anthem, Right Now.  Van Hagar was at their absolute peak.  Nobody on the outside was wiser to the internal strife that has infiltrated the band.

Best Song:  Right Now

Best Deep Cut:  Judgement Day

#6:  

5150-1986

The first Van Halen album with Sammy Hagar was received with trepidation, but fears proved unnecessary with one listen through 5150.  The record contained four big hits in, Why Can’t This Be Love, Dreams, Best of Both Worlds, and Love Walks In.  Meanwhile, Good Enough and Summer Nights serve as solid deep tracks.  It was a lighter, poppier, and more radio friendly Van Halen, but it was much better than no Van Halen at all.

#5:  

Van Halen II-1979

As we reach the Top 5, one thing is certain.  Other than the top two spots, positions 3-5 could be determined using a coin flip.  Today, I give the fifth spot to band’s sophomore effort.  Dance the Night Away and Beautiful Girls are the radio hits, while Somebody Get Me a Doctor, Outta Love Again, Light Up the Sky, and D.O.A. are more than worthy of your attention.

Best Song:  Dance the Night Away 

Best Deep Cut:  D.O.A.

#4:  

Fair Warning-1981

Another tough choice as far as specific ranking.  This album has just one big hit in Unchained, but it may be the best Van Halen song in the entire catalogue.  Mean Street, Dirty Movies, Hear About It Later, and So This Is Love are strong deeper tracks.

Best Song:  Unchained

Best Deep Cut:  Hear About It Later

#3:

Women and Children First-1980

Van Halen’s third record kicks off with the hits, And the Cradle Will Rock and Everybody Wants Some.  However, the amazing Romeo Delight, Loss of Control, the bluesy Take Your Whiskey Home, and the Americana sounding Could This Be Magic round out a very diverse and outstanding album.

Best Song:  Romeo Delight

Best Deep Cut:  Romeo Delight 

#2:  

1984-1984

The top two positions in this ranking are non-negotiable.  The second slot goes to the commercially epic release, 1984.  Though hinted at during earlier albums, Eddie’s fascination with synthesizers becomes quite prevalent here, especially on the album opening title track that leads into the band’s signature single, Jump.  I’ll Wait gave the record another poppy synthesizer driven single, while Panama and Hot for Teacher satisfy the hardcore fans with its guitar driven hard rock that also includes Alex at his absolute best.  

Meanwhile, there are plenty of deep cuts to listen to, including, Top Jimmy, Drop Dead Legs, and Girl Gone Bad.

Best Song:  Panama

Best Deep Cut:  Top Jimmy

#1:  

Van Halen-1978

Van Halen exploded onto the scene, and quite possibly carried hard rock with its self-titled release in 1978.  Moreover, it gave the scene its own guitar god, and influenced thousands of young kids to pick up the axe.

There isn’t a filler song to be found here, as all 11 tracks are winners.  In fact, how about I save myself from naming the entire track listing and just say this is a Top 5 record of all time for me?

Best Song:  Jamie’s Cryin’ (although there are 5-6 others that could go here, depending on the day)

Best Deep Cut:  On Fire

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

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