Here is a song from my old rock/punk/touch of alt-country band, Loaded Mojo (recorded 2011)
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
This week, we will discuss Queensryche. This Seattle area outfit came out in the eighties and is known for its melodic hard rock, mixed with plenty of experimentation into the world of progressive heavy metal. It’s 1988 album, Operation: Mindcrime, is widely considered to be a landmark concept record. The band’s original and classic line-up consisted of vocalist Geoff Tate, dual guitarists Chris DeGarmo and Michael Wilton, bassist Eddie Jackson, and drummer Scott Rockenfield. Only Wilton and Jackson remain from this line-up, as Queensryche has traveled down the ill-advised path of multiple versions of the band.
Quite frankly, while Queensryche’s post-1990 output contains its share of fits and starts, this album is easily its worst. I find nothing on here that I would care to listen to again. This is the final record featuring Tate before his dismissal from the group, and it is apparent that things weren’t well within the camp.
Best Song (Because I must): Retail Therapy
Best Deep Cut: Retail Therapy
Original guitarist Chris DeGarmo, who had been out of the group for several years, contributed somewhat to this album, although he permanently left the group before the recording sessions were finished. The result was a very uneven output; however, the strongest tracks are ones in which he contributed: Falling Behind, Doin’ Fine, and Art of Life.
Best Song: Falling Behind
Best Deep Cut: Falling Behind
The band was shifting closer to a mainstream sound, and it struck a nerve with many of its following. Singles Sign of the Times and You are decent tracks, along with Get a Life, The Voice Inside, and Anytime/Anywhere. Alas, the album’s longevity (14 songs) does it in.
Best Song: Get a Life
Best Deep Cut: Get a Life
The conceptual idea of this album, collecting first-hand accounts from American veterans who experienced all aspects of war, was a very noble one. In some instances, the results are touching. Unfortunately, while most of the songs aren’t bad, the record lacks anything memorable. I do enjoy the duet Tate sang with his daughter, Emily, entitled Home Again.
Best Song: Home Again
Best Deep Cut: Home Again
There’s not much about this 1999 offering that stands the test of time. I will mention that this is the only Queensryche record to feature guitarist Kelly Gray, as longtime axeman Chris DeGarmo had left the group.
Best Song: Falling Down
Best Deep Cut: Falling Down
By 1994, Queensryche was still able to headline major venues, however, it was based on past success, as grunge was taking the rock scene by storm. Promised Land is a hit and miss affair. I Am I, Bridge, My Global Mind, and Someone Else? highlight this uneven affair.
Best Song: Bridge
Best Deep Cut: My Global Mind
A sequel to a signature record that we will discus further down in this ranking, Operation: Mindcrime II is a fitting follow-up. In my opinion, while sequels are hardly ever better than the original (movies, records, girlfriends), at the very least, this offering brought Quennsryche back down its proper progressive metal rabbit hole.
Best Song: I’m American
Best Deep Cut: I’m American
New singer Todd La Torre’s debut signaled a return to a more classic Queensryche sound. While none of the songs feature the left-hand turns of the band’s progressive metal heyday, the album is an enjoyable listen just the same. For me personally, this record rejuvenated my feelings about the group going forward.
Best Song: Fallout
Best Deep Cut: Fallout
By far my least favorite of the classic 80’s/early 90’s releases, Rage for Order was far more progressive than its predecessors. The band utilized keyboards to a much higher degree, as well as heavy vocal and echo affects. To some degree, the shift works, primarily with the brilliant Walk in the Shadows and the album closing I Will Remember, however, the filler on the release is too much to overcome.
Best Song: Walk in the Shadows
Best Deep Cut: I Will Remember
Another La Torre classic, this album is progressive and gets quite heavy at times. Close your eyes and see if you don’t hear Geoff Tate, circa 1984. Arrow of Time, Hellfire, Toxic Remedy, and The Aftermath are the highlights.
Best Song: Toxic Remedy
Best Deep Cut: Toxic Remedy
Word on the street is that Queensryche is planning to release a new album later this year. While I had soured on the group due to subpar offerings in Tate’s later years, the three La Torre records have me looking forward to the new one. The Verdict continues a string in which the band outdoes its previous effort. Credit La Torre, with his ear-splitting vocals, as well as thunderous drumming, filling in for regular drummer Scott Rockenfield. Give a listen to Blood of the Levant, Man the Machine, Light-years, and Dark Reverie.
Best Song: Blood of the Levant
Best Deep Cut: Blood of the Levant
Yes, it is normally against my policy to include anything but full studio albums, however, this brief four song offering features two of the band’s early classics: Queen of the Reich and The Lady Wore Black. Meanwhile, Nightrider is not to be ignored.
Best Song: Queen of the Reich
Best Deep Cut: Nightrider
An early Queensryche classic, The Warning gave fans a glimpse into the progressive metal that was to come yet maintained its heavy metal sound. The album features mainstays Warning and Take Hold of the Flame, as well as lesser-known gems Child of Fire and Roads to Madness.
Best Song: Roads to Madness
Best Deep Cut: Roads to Madness
If the record stopped after track 8, it would perhaps be the king of the mountain. Alas, there are three lesser quality cuts that close the album. That said, the momentum gained in tracks 1-8 is to be taken seriously. Best I Can, Jet City Woman, Another Rainy Night (Without You), and Empire are outstanding singles, while Silent Lucidity is the song most people know the band for. Meanwhile, don’t fall asleep on The Thin Line and Resistance.
Best Song: Jet City Woman
Best Deep Cut: The Thin Line
The band’s opus is a concept album, as well as a rock opera that follows the story of a man who is swept up in the world of social and political violence, reluctantly becoming a hired assassin. Along the way, he falls in love with a young nun who is escaping her former life as a prostitute.
The singles are the remembered tracks, including Revolution Calling, Speak, Breaking the Silence, I Don’t Believe in Love, and Eyes of a Stranger. That said, the robust deep cuts are aplenty. Give a listen to the title track, Spreading the Disease, and the ten-minute Suite Sister Mary.
Best Song: Eyes of a Stranger
Best Deep Cut: Spreading the Disease
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Since opening in April 2019 at Park MGM, AEROSMITH: DEUCES ARE WILD has received rave reviews from fans and critics alike. Variety called the show a “multi-sensory spectacular” while People described it as “an audible history of the group’s five decades.” The Wrap wrote “Aerosmith…
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Concert Review Archive
w/Korn and Life of Agony
January 27, 1996
A Saturday night blizzard was not keeping me away from this show. Not this one. Not the Prince of Darkness. Not after my history of bad luck when it came to seeing the man perform live. No, I was sure as hell going to catch this Ozzy Osbourne show.
Backtracking four years, in early 1992, Ozzy announced his farewell tour. Never having seen him before, I grabbed a pair of tickets for the July show in Saratoga NY. Well before the days of alerts and social media, my eyebrows were more than a little ruffled when I pulled into a barren parking lot less than an hour before showtime. A young fellow at the ticket booth confirmed my worst fears. Ozzy was ill and the evening’s performance was rescheduled for August 31.
Call it a bad feeling, but on the morning of August 31, I called the venue and asked if that night’s Ozzy Osbourne show was still on. They informed me that the concert was the previous night, August 30. Unbelievable! The guy told me the wrong date! I ended up getting my money refunded (good luck with that today!) but I was now never going to see Ozzy, as his farewell tour was wrapping up in a couple of months and I didn’t have anymore available time to take off from work.
Funny thing about rockstars who think they have had enough of the limelight: the itch always comes back. Even in my indie band days I have sworn off gigging only to get back out there. It never completely goes away. Ozzy was no different. He announced a new tour in 1995, appropriately named the Retirement Sucks Tour.
After putting the truck into four-wheel drive, I plowed through approximately 90 miles of fresh powder to get to the venue. Along the way, a frantic fear hit me. What if the show was cancelled due to weather? My worries alleviated as I got closer to Troy and the snow tapered off. It was much worse back home. A full parking lot greeted me this time.
The show kicked off with a video that celebrated Ozzy’s history, from the early days with Black Sabbath all the way to 1996. It was an updated version of the intro I saw on a video from the 1992 tour. The curtain dropped and Osbourne and his band launched into the Sabbath classic, Paranoid.
The band consisted of old friend, the late Randy Castillo on drums and Mike Inez on bass guitar, both veterans of the 1992 tour. Meanwhile, Ozzy introduced a new guitarist, Joe Holmes, following the string of legendary axemen Randy Rhodes, Jake E. Lee, and Zakk Wilde in the fold. Holmes proved every bit of the shredder, hammering out nearly identical versions of his predecessor’s solos, while adding his own twist. Unbeknownst to him and to us, his tenure in the band would prove to be short-lived
Osbourne, meanwhile, in his mid-forties, was in fine form, no rust from the long layoff evident, nor showing the vocal strain that would cause him to lower the keys to his songs in later years. He was active, as well, commanding the stage from one side to the other, bellowing out his trademark stage rap, “Go fuc*$#ng crazy!” He masterfully led the band through classic solo cuts, I Don’t Know, Flying High Again, and Goodbye to Romance, with the only track from his latest Ozzmosis record to get played being I Just Want You.
A triple shot of Sabbath classics, Iron Man, Fairies Wear Boots, and Children of the Grave, highlighted the middle section of the show, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Meanwhile, the middle of Suicide Solution featured a long jam that Holmes, Inez, and Castillo took part in so Ozzy could get a break. This was the mid-nineties and, for the most part, the token guitar and drum solos were becoming obsolete.
Refreshed, Osbourne came back and delivered a closing shot of Mr. Crowley, War Pigs, and Crazy Train, the latter containing his use of the water guns that fans had come to expect. Ozzy and crew returned to encore with Mama I’m Coming Home, before closing out the evening with Bark at the Moon. A short set indeed, clocked in at about 85 minutes, but an energetic one at that.
I missed the evening’s first opener, Life of Agony, due to the aforementioned snowstorm. The second band of the night was a little-known metal group named Korn. I’ve never been a huge fan of them and do not remember much about their performance.
Ozzy Osbourne Setlist:
I Don’t Know
Flying High Again
Goodbye to Romance
I Don’t Want to Change the World
I Just Want You
Fairies Wear Boots
Children of the Grave
Mama I’m Coming Home
Bark At the Moon