Today is the 24th anniversary of ragecore band Babes in Toyland’s Nemesisters album. Here’s a performance from MTV’s 120 Minutes Live. Enjoy!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
Today is the 24th anniversary of ragecore band Babes in Toyland’s Nemesisters album. Here’s a performance from MTV’s 120 Minutes Live. Enjoy!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
This past Saturday was the 27th anniversary of the passing of Paul Charles Caravello. You may not know who Paul Caravello is by name, at least that name. Most of the world, even I, knew him as Eric Carr. He was the second drummer for my favorite band, my musical lifeline, KISS. I didn’t find out until November 25, though.
I remember finding out all-to-well. But first…
Four days before, I turned 21 years old. Those same four days before, I came down with the flu. My 21st birthday, I had the flu. I was excited to get to go purchase alcohol for the first time and I was unable to. I was sick. I was throwing up. I was lightheaded, feverish and all around icky. I had a full-motion waterbed at the time and with that, I wasn’t going to get into bed and get even sicker from trying to rest.
I spent my birthday night and the following three nights sleeping on Ma ‘Rents’ couch and on the second night, I took NyQuil for the first time ever. It was the green gel-tab kind. When I slept that night, I never felt like I was asleep, but I dreamt weird stuff and everything was in green. It was so surreal. The only thing that I remember dreaming about was that Eric Carr died. I awoke the next morning sweating — partially from the flu and partially because that was an awful dream — and felt weird all day. Another two nights passed and I was better.
On the 25th, I made my way to the liquor store and was overwhelmed by what I saw. I had never been in a liquor store before. I didn’t know what to buy, didn’t know what anything was, didn’t know anything about drinkin’ no liquor. I saw something that I recognized which was Wild Turkey. I had never imbibed any liquor so I just grabbed some of “The Dirty Bird” and made my way to Food Lion to buy a 2 liter of Mountain Dew to drink with it. “Chase it,” whatever that meant.
To my mother and father, if you are reading this part, please forgive me. I know it’s no surprise (because my dad found my stuff later), but I settled on my couch, in my room, in the basement of my parents’ house and took a swig of Turkey and followed that with a swig of Dew. Turkey. Dew. Turkey. Dew. Turkey… oh, MTV News is coming on.
Tabitha Soren told us the news that Eric Carr, the drummer for KISS had passed away at the age of 41. I stared at the screen for a long time. I was starting to buzz a little at this point. I stared a while longer. I turned to my coffee table within a few feet from me and stared at the Wild Turkey and its citrusy companion. I pushed the Dew to the side and turned up the bottle of Turkey.
I drank almost a whole fifth right then. I got plastered. I ended up on the bed, talking to a friend of mine when my girlfriend at the time came over and I somehow found myself suddenly in the shower, clothed, dry and drunk. I slept it off.
But, the next day I started looking in the newspaper about Eric’s passing. I was glued to MTV for more news. But, not a lot of details came. As devastating as that was to me, as a KISS fan, as an Eric Carr fan, the news of his passing was mostly overshadowed by the passing of another, higher profile figure, Farrokh Bulsara, known to the world as Freddie Mercury. Freddie was the first major music star to succumb to the plague of AIDS, only one day after confirming what the media had been hypothesizing for almost a year.
I get it, Freddie’s death was high profile, for sure. I hated that either one of them had to die, but I thought it was extra sad that Eric passed on the same day, or same week as Freddie. I would have liked to have had a little more coverage of his passing, but then again, maybe it wouldn’t have been any different. Everyone knows Freddie’s story, heck it’s now a major biopic. But, to me, there was a lot to love about Eric.
When Peter Criss left KISS (however you want to say he left – fired, quit, etc.) in 1980, a search went out for a new drummer. Big name drummers (even Mick Fleetwood, so was the rumor) auditioned for the part. But, Gene, Paul and Ace, for the most part, wanted someone who wasn’t known. They wanted to keep up the mystique of identity. Paul Caravello was one of the auditionees and really, wasn’t the best. But, he asked for their autograph, so the story goes, and that endeared the rest of the band to give him a shot.
There was already a Paul in the band, so he chose Eric Carr as his new name and after some tweaking, he became the character The Fox, replacing Peter’s green motif with an autumnal orange/yellow/brown motif. Eric brought a harder-edged drumming style and while he technically debuted at one show in the US, made his true debut on the World Tour, specifically Australia. The fans took to him immediately. At least, most of them did. I did. I didn’t care one way or another about Peter at that time.
So, it was time for KISS to go back to the studio. The result was Music from ‘The Elder.’ I am pretty sure that’s not what Eric thought he was signing up for. There were some rockin’ parts, yes, but for the most part, this was not a “rockin'” album. He even played a little acoustic guitar on “Under the Rose” which he got a writing credit for. They didn’t really tour for that because it was such a “disaster” (I don’t agree).
They came back with a vengeance on the next album, Creatures of the Night and then took off their makeup for Lick It Up. Animalize, Asylum, Crazy Nights, Smashes Thrashes and Hits (in which he recut the lead vox for “Beth” and, in my opinion, did a better job of) and Hot in the Shade followed. I got to see him on the HITS tour and he did a wild drum solo. I loved it. That was my first concert and I was amazed by his drumming.
About six months after I saw that show, Eric got sick. Eventually, he was diagnosed with heart cancer in April 1991. He begged Paul and Gene to let him do stuff with them but they made sure that he got the treatment he needed. He wasn’t doing well. He did get Paul and Gene to let him shoot the video for “God Gave Rock and Roll To You.” He wore a wig as his hair had fallen out from the chemo.
In September 1991, KISS was on the MTV Video Music Awards. Eric played with them for that. It was his last performance with the band. He had an aneurysm not long after that. Several days later he suffered a brain hemorrhage and never woke up. He then passed away on November 24.
I still miss Eric. I love his era with the band the best, even though it’s not my favorite music, at least all the time. He brought something to the band they had been missing. He fought and scratched with Gene and (especially) Paul. He had a great relationship with Ace, although he only played on one album with him. I have always wondered, which I’m sure most KISS fans have, what would the band have done had he lived? Would they have gone back to makeup? Would they have kept him instead of Peter with the reunion? How would the music evolve over time? Many things pop through my head on that subject.
And, I still think about that day in November 1991 when I heard the news; the emptiness I felt and the sadness, as well. Not only sadness that he was gone and that Freddie was gone, but that they died on the same day. Freddie got the glory and he deserved it, but Eric should have gotten more than he did. I don’t blame anyone for that, just “well darns.” Play on Little Caesar and know that we still miss you down here!
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Ten million stories in the city. Ten million backs against the wall. Desperation’s out tonight, you can cut it with a knife. Everybody wants to have it all. Well, they tell you that the world is rough. But, they never rocked it hard enough. Hey, little Caesar! Nobody messing with you. Hey, little Caesar! Go show ’em what you can do!” – “Little Caesar” (Simmons/Carr/Mitchell)
Ace Frehley, Arthur C Clarke, Billboard, Black N Blue, Bobby Richardson, Bruce Kulick, Carnival of Souls, Curtis Cuomo, David Barker, Eric Singer, Evan Stanley, Gene Simmons, Heavens Sake, Jaime St. James, Ken Tamplin, KISS, Metal Edge, MTV, Music, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, Sammy Hagar, Scott Van Zen, Tommy Thayer, Vinnie Vincent
Happy Halloween, first of all. And, now, let’s talk about an album that was the last before the makeup came back for KISS. Almost as polarizing as Music from ‘The Elder’ was but for slightly different reasons.
True Long-Time KISS fans have always been on the fence about it, some think it’s a great departure while others feel it had nothing to do with KISS. KISS fans who kind of kept themselves in the perimeter mostly gave it nary a thought and newer KISS fans thought that it was groovy but probably didn’t get that it was KISS. This album, of course, is Carnival of Souls.
Gene, Paul, Eric and Bruce went back to the studio in 1995 after their successful release from 1991, Revenge. KISS started off as a trend-setter but after Dynasty and on, really, they were really followers. They did show some folks how to still party whilst creepin’ on their turf, though. Grunge and heavier rock was the thing at the time, so KISS decided it was their turn to do that, too. Really, Gene was already there with “Unholy” and “Spit” from Revenge. (which included some Vinnie Vincent songwriting).
I’ll be honest, here. I like this album, a lot, but I really don’t know much about it. I have listened to it only slightly more than Sonic Boom and Monster. I am listening to it as I write this to refresh my memory.
I’d say first, that there are a lot of “drop D” tunings on this album, even further if you consider that KISS (except on Dynasty and Unmasked) did almost everything a half-step down. It’s heavy, the heaviest they ever did. It certainly is the darkest-themed they have ever done; almost Black Sabbath-like. It also has a lot of odd time signatures. It’s “grown-up” songs, too. Not a lot of sex and party. It’s probably their most intellectually advanced album. Does that make for a good album? Probably not to most KISS fans. Someone once said, “where’s the f—ing!?” So, again, probably not to most KISS fans.
There were rumors of this album right after it started. This was right when everyday folks were starting to get and get onto the internet. BBSs were dedicated to KISS. Online chat boards were, too. I was part of a few of those. It was also about this time that I got hooked up with David and Bobby from Heavens Sake. David was a collector of KISS bootlegs and when the “leaked” bootlegs of this album dropped, David and I sat in my office above where the band rehearsed and listened to it. We weren’t quite sure what to make of it. But, I don’t think either of us disliked it. I don’t remember what Bobby thought when he showed up as we listened. The bootlegs didn’t really sound all that great and there was stuff missed with some of the songs misnamed.
The album starts with “Hate,” a Gene song. So, that makes three KISS albums (this being the last) where he gets to go first. I don’t know why I’m so hung up about that. Anyway, it was co-written by Gene with Bruce and Scott Van Zen, a commercial songwriter. Gene uses his “Unholy” voice here. A great, heavy groove sets this song on fire.
The only thing I don’t like about “Rain” is the lack of any effect on Paul’s voice. The whole thing is really dry which, I am not sure that it brings it out as dark as they wanted. But, it could be that it highlights the songs, but the vocals part is dry. Bruce played bass on this.
“Tell Me” is next. That’s not true. It’s actually called “Master and Slave” but the internet folks called it “Tell Me” probably because it sounds like it would be in the chorus. Oddly enough, this is the only non-Gene song on which Gene plays bass. I don’t know if he and Paul were having a spat or if he just didn’t do a good job (he’s not the most prolific bassist alive) or was he off doing something else? Who knows, I just find it interesting.
The next two are more melodic and ballad-like. “Childhood’s End” is named after a book by Arthur C. Clarke. It’s not autobiographical as many folks have said. The song is basically talking about when we’re born we don’t know hate; we haven’t killed anything or know a lot of bad. We grow into it and are taught those things. The subject matter, according to the box set’s liner notes, is “Two friends, one of whom died before his time, and the other one who lived and reminisced about his missing friend.” It was co-written by Tommy Thayer (who is now Spaceman in the band) and songwriter Curtis Cuomo who collaborates with Paul and Gene throughout the album.
“I Will Be There” is an acoustical ballad with heavy orchestration and allows Bruce to show off some serious acoustic guitar/classical-riffed solos. It’s dedicated to Paul’s son, Evan.
The only song to really be considered a single was “Jungle.” It did reach #8 on the Billboard US Mainstream Rock charts (not to be confused with the Hot 200 where the Top 40 comes from) beating the previous best, which was “Heavens on Fire.” That’s a heavy-hitter, too. It also won Metal Edge Readers’ Choice Award for Song of the Year for 1997. It’s probably one of my least favorite tunes on the album but I still like it.
Gene recruited help from Van Zen and Black ‘N Blue’s Jaime St. James for “In My Head.” It’s heavy and mean. It’s weird but I feel that fits the scene for Gene’s head, indeed.
“It Never Goes Away” is Paul’s dragging tune. I like it but it drags on at like 4 beats a minute. Not really, but it seems like it. It’s more around 88 BPM. Continuing on the “kind of crazy train” that this album’s lyrical content provides, in, from what I can tell was a podcast called KISSaholics (#13), Paul says “(“It Never Goes Away”) Is a pretty cool song that says basically there’s all kinds of evil stuff that goes on and misery in the world but there’s really not a whole lot I can do about it. It never changes.” Well, okay, then. Bottom of the list for me.
I love the exotic beat happening in “Seduction of the Innocent.” It’s one of the more laid back Gene songs on the album and I dig it. Gene had announced this was being worked on as a follow up to Revenge. Co-written by Van Zen, who co-wrote seven of the tunes (out of 12) on the album.
My favorite tune on the album is “I Confess” which was co-written by Sammy Hagar’s cousin and Christian songwriter (how’s that for contrast?), Ken Tamplin. I love the deep darkness that the song puts forward, both musically and lyrically. The reverse swells and orchestration, along with the melody are amazing. I love this song.
“In the Mirror” is still grungy but still is kind of previous-KISS-like. Another thing this and other songs from COS have going on are some great vocal harmonies. That’s really all I have for this song.
Bruce finally gets his vocal moment. He sings the closing track, “I Walk Alone.” I think it’s interesting that both he and Eric Carr were in the band for a long time and both of them finally got their vocal debuts on their last album with the band. Now, I don’t think Bruce has a great voice, but I think Bruce’s voice was great on this song. It fit perfectly, in my opinion. This song is also the second longest song on the album, over six minutes. I’m a fan of this song, too.
So, the recording of this whole album, as I said, started in 1995. It was also in 1995 that KISS did MTV Unplugged and that led to the original lineup getting back together. That roller coaster hit a crest and was on its way, which we’re still experiencing. The monster (no pun intended) that thing became put COS on hold. It was released on October 28, 1997 which means it turned 19 this past Monday. Next year… wow, 20 years! Jeez.
Overall, I think it’s a great album. I just don’t think it is a great KISS album. Just like ‘The Elder,’ and Unmasked before it, if you take it out of the KISS context or at least what you expect from a KISS album, it can stand on its own. Okay, I’ll admit it, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it’s not a great album, but I think it’s a really good album. It has many fantastic songs. Songs that I feel Gene outdid Paul on. These songs fit Gene’s voice and musical mindset better than it did Paul’s. If you listen to Gene’s solo album, Asshole, you’ll hear more evidence of his heavier styles.
If you decide to give COS a listen, again, keep in mind that it’s not what you’d think a KISS album would be, but it’s experimental and I think worth listening to, more than once. I’ve listened to it three times whilst writing this post. Happy listening!
Until tomorrow, Keep KISSin’…
“When I look into the mirror, just can’t believe, what do I see. There’s no wakin’ from this nightmare and you’re lost in your reality. So you tell me all your secrets. And you tell me that you’re innocent. There’s something in your eyes I can see and my face keeps looking back at me. You Confess. You can’t help yourself. This living lie that you can’t go on. You’re possessed. You can’t fool yourself. You’re the crime and you can’t go on.” – “I Confess” (Simmons/Tamplin)
I had a long day, Dear Reader. I have had such a long day that I had almost forgotten to write something today. And, here it is 11:30pm and I don’t know what to write. You know what that means, right? Yep. A video. And, yep, you’ll get one tomorrow, too.
Since today is the 25th anniversary of the MTV Unplugged album from 10,000 Maniacs, here’s the album’s biggest tune.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“Come on now, try and understand, the way I feel under your command. Take my hand, as the sun descends. They can’t hurt you now. Can’t hurt you now. Can’t hurt you now.” – “Because the Night” (Springsteen)
Ace Frehley, Animalize, Bruce Kulick, Clay Howard, Desmond Child, Eric Carr, Gene Simmons, Jean Beavoir, Jon Lowder, KISS, Mark St. John, Mitch Weissman, MTV, Music, Paul Stanley, Peter Criss, PMRC, Tom Sholtz, Vinnie Vincent
34 years ago today, one of KISS’ best-selling 80s albums was released. That would be Animalize. It’s not my favorite of that era, but it isn’t my least favorite, either. It has some good songs that carried over to the live concert video they put out on this tour.
By the time KISS was putting this out, Gene was pretty much a ghost in the band. He was still very much a member because, hey, it’s Gene Simmons. But, he had gotten really into other projects that he was afforded both because he now had money and he wasn’t restricted by keeping his identity cloaked. During the recording of this album, he was starring in Runaway (1984) and producing or managing bands like House of Lords and Black N Blue (which, incidentally had future KISS member, Tommy Thayer). So, being the loyalist, perhaps sometimes to a fault, that he is to the KISS brand, Paul Stanley took over the whole deal and produced this album. I think he did a pretty good job.
It had been two years since an album was released as a “makeup” album and only a year (almost to the day) of the unmasking of the band on MTV, which also was the release date for Lick It Up. KISS fans were still riding the high that was the return of the hard rock KISS that they had loved as a kid before the disco-ing down and artification of the band. Don’t hear me wrong, I loved that stuff, too. But, they lost a big part of their “Army” with those things. I recognize that. This album came out and it was still punchy, still heavy and still cool.
The song “Heavens on Fire” was a huge hit for the band and was on heavy rotation on MTV. For anyone under the age of 30, MTV was a channel that played music videos 24/7. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it or not. There’s some other channel now that calls itself MTV but it’s nothing like that MTV. Anywhat! They debuted new videos at 5-minutes past each hour. The “world-wide” debut of “Heavens on Fire” was at 1:05am on a Saturday night. In 1984, I lived in WV and we had 7 channels, MTV wasn’t one of them. However, for whatever reason, I was staying at my grandmother’s house in a larger town that did have REAL cable television and had MTV. I fought dozing off and once the video came on, I was jarred up and ready to fight someone. I loved it. One of the funniest parts is when Eric Carr runs up behind Paul and sings a line with him. That wasn’t planned and Paul’s reaction was genuine. It’s cool.
This was the only album that “featured” Mark St. John on guitar. He replaced Vinnie Vincent who had replaced Ace Frehley. Mark was a talented player but really unreMARKable (see what I did there?). I remember looking at the album cover (on LP) and thinking who the heck is that guy? Of course, because I read all the rags and stuff, I knew his name but he looked like a big block of a guy, broad-shouldered and stiff. Looking at it now, it looks like he took Peter Criss’ Dynasty costume, painted it all black from the green it was and was wearing that. He wasn’t really, but he seemed like a piece of stone. And, in the video, he looked uncomfortable. He also used Rockman gear to record the album, which we know is the invention of Boston guitarist, Tom Sholtz. Paul had to do a lot of EQing to get that Boston out of it. St. John left the band just after the tour started because of Reiter’s syndrome, now called reactive arthritis. He was replaced by Bruce Kulick. Who you’ll hear about in a few days and next week.
Eric Carr’s drumming on this album was great! I loved it. Solid and heavy.
Paul’s songs were the best on the album, bar none. Three of the songs, “I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire),” “Under the Gun” (co-written with Eric Carr), and “Heavens on Fire” were co-written with recurring collaborator, Desmond Child. “Thrills in the Night” was co-written by ex-Plasmatics bassist, Jean Beauvoir who also played bass on this album for “Get All You Can Take”, “Thrills In The Night” and “Under the Gun.”
Gene, while mostly absent, was there for some of it. He wrote “Burn Bitch Burn” and “Lonely is the Hunter” solo and co-wrote “While the City Sleeps” and “Murder in High Heels” with Paul McCartney look-alike Mitch Weissman, who co-wrote “Get All You Can Take” with Paul. Gene’s songs are cool for the fact that he’s a little tongue-in-cheek but Paul wins this album.
The story I always tell about this album is this: In 1984, the PMRC and its ridiculousness were in full-force (and no, I don’t mean Lisa-Lisa & Cult Jam with…) and Ma Mère fell for it hook, line, and sinker. She didn’t want me listening to “that rock and roll devil’s music.” Which, she herself did when she was younger. Anti-authority, satan, drugs, alcohol, etc. That’s what we kids were getting too much of. Anyhow, I wanted this album, really, really badly. I stood in front of the cassette case, you know, the old kind with holes in the plexiglass so you could hold the tapes and look at them but couldn’t get them out and steal them? I stood there and begged to get both this album and Prince’s Purple Rain. She made me promise that I wouldn’t worship the devil if I got them. It didn’t help that one of the songs was called “Heavens on Fire” and another one “Burn Bitch Burn.” I promised. I did her one better. Not only do I not believe in or worship the devil, I don’t go the other way either. I’m non-Prophet when it comes to my religion. But, I got them and wore them both out!
I still love the album to this day. Both, of them, as I’ve mentioned before.
I do want to also wish my two great pals, Clay Howard and Jon Lowder a very happy birthday. I love you guys! You mean a lot to me and my family.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“My eggs in one basket, but she threw me a bone. She was dealt a full deck, but she likes to live alone. Ain’t just talkin’ to myself, need a reason to stop (oh yeah). With a flower in her teeth, she drained the last drop. I said girls love money like bees the honey. But lonely is the hunter, you’re my one and only, and lonely is the hunter.” – “Lonely is the Hunter” (Simmons)
Billy Duffy, Eugene B Sims, Eugeology, Glenn Danzig, Headbangers Ball, Ian Astbury, Jamie Stewart, Jon Lowder, Les Warner, MTV, Music, Rick Rubin, SiriusXM, The Cult, The Doors, The Doors of the 21st Century, Wheelers Dog
#9 – Electric by The Cult.
Let me preface this by saying that I’ve never cared one way or another about The Cult. Never liked them, never disliked them. What I knew of them was an odd genre confusion. I had grown up and knew them on Headbangers’ Ball on MTV. So, I thought it was hard rock. I get Sirius (before the XM) and listen to Hair Nation and they’re on there. But, I also listen to 1st Wave (the earliest of new wave and classic alternative) and they’re on there. I don’t think of them, at all, as new wave or classic alternative, but The BCPF disagrees. That’s a lot of her music. A lot. So, confusion and the fact that I couldn’t care less, or even more, doesn’t help this album very much.
I have always thought that Ian Astbury had a very Jim Morrison-like voice. That’s even before he was in The Doors of the 21st Century. He and Glenn Danzig, both, sounded like Morrison. I always thought Astbury could sing, too. On this album, he both proves me right and he proves me wrong; a little right, a lot wrong. Astbury is a power voice one minute and a wailing wraith the next. I have listened to this album three and a half times already and every time the bad parts get worse and my skin crawls. It makes it hard to enjoy the decent parts.
For S’s & G’s I went and listened to Sonic Temple, the album after this and I was right, he could sing. On this album, though, it’s a miserable experience to listen to. There are parts that I like, to be sure. I like “Lil’ Devil,” “Peace Dog,” “Bad Fun,” “Aphrodisiac Jacket” and the hit single, “Love Removal Machine.” But, as the album goes on it gets really annoying to listen. Don’t get me wrong, Billy Duffy (who I always wanted to call Patrick – and I never really watched Dallas), Les Warner and Jamie Stewart are on point the whole time. Well, with the exception of one song, which I’ll get to in a bit. It’s just Astbury that wrecks the album for me. Even Rick Rubin’s production couldn’t fix that. He sounds off key, warbly and, mostly, tired throughout the album. I know I’m letting Eugene down right now, but it really isn’t something I enjoyed.
Clearly, the absolute low point of the whole album, for me, was what has to be the absolute worst cover of “Born to be Wild” that I have ever heard. The band sounds like they’re just going through the motions and there’s not a lot of excitement. That and Ian Astbury is belching off-key crap the whole, entire song. I was excited when it came from Eug, but the more I listen the less I can stomach it. No offense intended on that, I just can’t. I. Just. Can’t.
I figure Jon’s review will be late because he’s enjoying the sun in the Bahamas right now celebrating his 25th anniversary with his lovely bride. Happy anniversary to you both. But, I look forward to his review and I want to read how Eug feels about it. Most of his reviews are a personal memory and I dig that. Whether I dig the album or not.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“She said do all those things that you do to me. You know what I mean, boy.
Do all those things that you do to me yeah. Love remover love remover machine.
You little soul shaker love remover machine.” – “Love Removal Machine” (Astbury/Duffy)
Beau Hill, Bobby Blotzer, Carolina Hurricanes, Eugene B Sims, Jon Lowder, Juan Croucier, KISS, Mötley Crüe, MTV, PMRC, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Robbin Crosby, Stephen Pearcy, TBS, Twisted Sister, Warren DiMartini, Wheelers Dog
I think I surprised Eugene on the last one. I can’t wait to hear Jon‘s thoughts on this one. I think Eugene and I have talked about this one before. I know we did see Stephen Pearcy’s Ratt after a Hurricanes’ game when the ‘Canes were passing through Greensboro on their way to Raleigh. Anywhat! Let’s get to it.
#2 – Invasion of Your Privacy by RATT.
In 1983-84, when I was transitioning from my unintentionally self-imposed KISS-only solitude to my “what is this other wonderful hard rocking stuff I hear” period, Ratt’s Out of the Cellar, along with Twisted Sister’s Stay Hungry, Mötley Crüe’s Shout at the Devil and Quiet Riot’s Metal Health were my vehicles. I didn’t have MTV and my only avenues for this was when HBO played a random video here and there (“Round and Round” and “Wanted Man”) and TBS’ (then still WTBS, I think) Night Tracks and when we would go on unusually placed vacations, USA’s Night Flight. That was a flood of new stuff for me. Hit Parader and Circus were big for me at the time, too. It was really the more polished stuff that I liked the most, and that’s not really changed over the years. I like produced stuff. Beau Hill was pretty good at that. He produced Out of the Cellar and this Ratt album.
Invasion came out in 1985, the summer before I moved to NC. After swearing my non-allegiance to the dark lord, Ma Mère allowed me to buy hard rock albums (well, any albums), after the PMRC poppycock. Like the previous Ratt album, this was fantastic. I’ll admit when I got the tape – yes, on cassette – that I favored the three singles. I didn’t give the proper credit or listen that it deserved. I still don’t own it on CD. The only Ratt I own is Ratt n Roll 81-91. That will have to change. So, I’ve stalled enough, let’s get to the album.
Warren DiMartini, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated hard rock guitarists in rockdom. He’s sporadic but tastefully so. Lots of bends and flash and that’s A-OK with me. He has a style that is pretty noticeable to fans of the genre. He’s fairly young, too. Right now, he’s only 53, which means he was around 20-22 or so when I got into the band.
Robbin Crosby (RIP) was a good guitarist as well, and even with his large stature (6’5″) and big sandy blond hair, he was kind of in the shadows to DiMartini. I can only go by what I read in the rags on that, but I always heard more about Warren than Robbin. But, Robbin did co-write half of the tunes on the album.
Juan Croucier, for a finger-picking bassist, was quick and heavy on that bottom end. He was also a fantastic showman, he played with the bass almost as much as he played the instrument. In listening to this album, though, I hear some plectrum playing as well as finger playing. It’s in tone, really. His playing style though, as was much of the bass players at this time, at least the ones I’m familiar with, was a pure rhythm player, not a lot of flash playing-wise but you can tell when he does run off a riff or two that he knows what he’s doing. And, Bobby Blotzer is a solid drummer. I don’t really have a lot to say about him, but I will say his rhythm in “Lay It Down” is pretty impressive; it wears me out just thinking about trying to play that kick pattern. And if I’m not mistaken, he did that with one foot, not a double kick. Again, impressive.
Stephen Pearcy has a very unique voice, both in tone and texture. His range and mannerisms are distinctly his. You know it is him anytime he’s singing. There’s no getting around that. I’d say that’s the case with Ratt, in general. You know it’s Ratt. Pearcy’s voice was at the same time powerful and subdued. I think that has to do with production more than anything. It’s right there, though, and in your face. I say, great.
I have said and will always maintain that “Lay It Down” has the greatest rock intro, ever. That is the end all, be all of intros, to me. That guitar sound and riff is unforgettable, it sounds so epic. It ranks in the top, I don’t know… 10 of favorite hard rock songs of all time. Again, the slow galloping beat shows Blotzer’s talents off, nicely.
I love, too, how Blotzer uses cymbal crashes to emulate the sound of lightning in “You’re in Love,” the album’s opening track. That song pretty much sets the tone of the album. Which rocks all the way through. One thing that I love about Ratt is that they’re not afraid to use a 12-string acoustic guitar to enhance and fill the songs. It’s not in every song but over the course of their first three albums, the use is prevalent.
All-in-all, this is a top-notch album. Ratt was more than a “hair band” was a hard rock band, through and through. Again, mix that signature sound with Pearcy’s vocals and you’ve got a great sonic collaboration, albeit toxic in nature due to personalities. Doesn’t that always happen to be the case?It’s hard to pick my favorites, but if I had to choose, it would be “You’re In Love,” “Lay It Down,” “Never Use Love,” “What You Give Is What You Get,” “Closer To My Heart.”
I’m glad Eugene included this one, I can’t say I’m surprised by it, either. Thanks Eug! Again, I can’t wait to read his and Jon’s reviews.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“I make my moves, I make them right. I don’t refuse, I keep it light. I take command of the scene because for me, there’s no in-betweens.” – “What You Give Is What You Get” (Croucier)
Adam Curry, BET, Half-Hour Comedy Hour, Headbangers Ball, Metal Mania, MTV, Podcasts, Princeton, Real World, Remote Control, Road Rules, That Metal Show, USA Netork, VH1, VH1 Classic, West Virginia, WSNC, Yo! MTV Raps
I miss MTV. The real MTV, when it was called Music Television. Now, it’s just Miscellaneous Television. Before reality shows and teenage dramas the teenage drama was through music videos and the stories they told or attempted to fabricate. I learned a lot about music because of it. I, in turn, missed out on a lot of music because of it, too. If it wasn’t on MTV, it wasn’t being heard; at least by me.
I’m from a very small town in West Virginia and when I lived there, there was no MTV. My video exposure was on TBS on a video show that aired on Friday and Saturday nights, called Night Tracks. It was a great thing. And, if the fam went on vacation we may fight Night Flight on USA Network, but that was rare, my fam wasn’t a vacationing family (maybe that’s why I love it so much now?). Now, my grandparents lived in a town called Princeton and they had MTV. I knew of MTV but had to wait until I went to their house to see it. Videos really took off around 1982-83 or so. In 1981, when it was just starting, the concept, while not new, wasn’t the normal marketing tool that it would become. Back to the early- to mid-’80s when videos were starting to become abundant, MTV would “world premiere” videos at five minutes past the hour. It was at said grandparents’ house that I saw, at 1:05am on a Saturday night in 1984, the debut of “Heavens on Fire” by KISS.. I didn’t know the new album had come out and when I heard it was coming on, I tried to stay awake. I had fallen asleep a couple of times but woke up two minutes prior, just in time to see it. It was great (well not so great now, but nostalgia).
I moved to NC and we had MTV as well as VH1, BET (which I watched a lot of) as well as Nigh Flight because we also had USA. I was awash in video heaven. I’d rush home, walking quite briskly from school in order to catch Hard 30 (or Hard 60) which was all about the hard rock stuff that I really loved. Friday Night Video Fight was still going then. Also, Rock Blocks which would feature blocks of videos from one artist or band. Then Headbanger’s Ball came along which has a connection to where I am now in life. Adam Curry, who was the VJ host of HBB (after Kevin Seal and before Riki Rachtman) is now known as the “Podfather” and basically created the format of the modern podcasts. When 120 Minutes showed up, it kind of lost me as I didn’t understand the alternative stuff that was being played. I have learned to love that stuff. I was stupid back then. I did even watch Yo! MTVRaps. That was still when that genre was still fun, too.
Once Remote Control, The Half-Hour Comedy Hour and Liquid Television showed up, I knew it was the beginning of the end. Real World and Road Rules was the end of it. It was never the same and the videos I loved started to be phased out, as was the quality of popular music. Music, to me, while still enjoyable to an extent, is a pale comparison to what it once was, both during and before MTV’s heyday. Then VH1 stopped doing the videos right after. BET gave up early, Night Flight was gone from USA by 1988. MTV2 came along in the 90s and tried the video-only thing. It wasn’t the same. MuchMusic from Canada was a relief for me once I got the BUD (big ugly dish) in 1994. That played videos but then it, too, faded and was bought out to become what we know today as Fuse.
Fast forward to today. I will say that I love the concept of VH1 Classic. I especially liked the way it first showed up: ALL VIDEOS. But, as is par for the course, they have gotten away from that concept and while they still show videos, it’s really become the That Metal Show channel. It seems like they play reruns of that anytime they’re given the chance. I love that show but can only see the same episode with Dee Snider or Eddie Trunk kissing Michael Schenker’s behind so many times. Metal Mania (which is closely named like the show pre-HBB) is basically what HBB was. Rock & Roll Picture Show with movies that have nothing to do with music or videos but do have to do with the 70s or 80s, which I guess is okay, but why do they need them? Play videos! They do play the Behind the Music episodes from VH1 and that’s cool.
The part that bugs the snot out of me the most is that it’s not in HD. I know the videos were not in HD, but HD broadcast would clean that up a bit. The videos would still look oldish, which is okay, I want that. But, SD broadcasts on HD televisions makes everything look fuzzy and blurry. I’ve seen plenty of SD programming broadcast over an HD and the difference is vast. It hurts my eyes to watch it now. They can change that signal to an HD signal. They have the money.
I don’t know, Dear Reader, maybe I’m living in the past? Maybe I’m being nostalgic? Perhaps it’s longing for something long gone? Who knows really? What do you think about all this? Do you feel this way? Do you miss MTV the way it used to be? Drop me a line and let me know. I like the interaction.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“When you get something like MTV, it’s like regular television. You get it, and at first it’s novel and brand new and then you watch every channel, every show. And then you become a little more selective and more selective, until ultimately… you wind up with a radio.” – David Lee Roth
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