Edge Of A Broken Heart

I have one day left at work and then it’s a three day weekend in the UK. The weather is going to be reasonable and hopefully I’ll get chance to venture out if the house. There’s a jazz and blues festival on locally, no acts I’m familiar with apart from Peter Frampton, and that’s only a solitary track of his I know. But there is a record fare happening on Sunday and weather permitting, as it’s held out doors, I’ll go and have a peruse if the boxes of records and make lots of weird sounds that usually translate into “how much!”

Saturday could bring yet another trip to Manchester to another new venue for me. There are two bands playing that I’m intrigued to see. It’s being held in Factory or FAC251, which I think was the head offices for Factory Records, a label synonymous with Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays.

Opening up the show is West Midlands band Sister Shotgun. I’ve not had chance to see them live and I’ve heard a few of their tracks. I’m interested to see them off the back of a recommendation from a customer of mine. The guitarist of Crewe based band Fallen used to work in a shop I delivered to and we used to have a chat about music and stuff. His band played with them locally and he said how good they were live. They’ve been getting around a lot just lately and have a new guitarist in the fold.

Headlining is Janet Gardner Page, not exactly a household name, but for people, especially guys, of my age and into rock during the same era she was the front woman and guitarist with the big hair in Vixen. They’re a band I first heard on the Friday Rock Show hosted by Timmy Vance on Radio 1. I think it was the Edge if a Broken Heart single that was played late on the Friday night and by Saturday afternoon I had the 7” vinyl in my hands.

They’d been together since the early 70’s surprisingly, but didn’t gain any mainstream recognition until 1988’s eponymous debut and their sophomore release Rev It Up in 1990. I never heard past that second album and I do t think I’ve ever heard Tangerine.

Richard Marx coproduced the debut album and wrote Edge of a Broken Heart. At the same time the band were getting some big opening slots on tours with the likes of Bon Jovi, Scorpions and KISS. Musical differences lead to a split and there have been several reunions over the years.

I remember watching something on VH1 called bands reunited where they attempted to bring bands back together. The idea was to a specific line up in the same room and it was deemed a success if they performed. I saw odd episodes here and there. A Flock of Seagulls and Berlin were successful. Holly Johnson refused to perform with Frankie Goes to Hollywood and at the time Extreme was a failure. Vixen put aside their differences and did play.

In 2012 a classic reunion was on the cards, but guitarist Jan Kuehnemund was diagnosed with cancer and passed away towards the end of 2013. The three remains classic members have carried on as a tribute to her and an album is planned.

Vixen have been playing live sporadically over the last four years, mainly in the States and a few dates in Canada and Europe. They played Hard Rock Hell in 2016, an event I unfortunately didn’t attend. There was a tour in 2006 for some version of the band which apparently stopped off in Crewe. They played the Limelight and it took me a dozen years to find out. It’s closed now and looking rather dilapidated, but it was one of those venues that never seemed to bother with too much promotion and hoped for word of mouth from regular barflies.

1991 saw them supporting Deep Purple over here. The year before saw some of their own dates and a few supporting Scorpions and on the bill for the prestigious Bon Jovi soirée at the Milton Keynes Bowl.

In all my time I’ve never had chance to see Vixen, and to date Saturday will be the closest I have been. Janet plays some stuff from her self named debut solo album from last year with a smattering of Vixen hits thrown in. They’re due to play the Rockingham event in Nottingham in October with some other AOR and hair bands mainly from yesteryear, but for what I’d have to pay to get in and what I’d get from the weekend it’s currently out of reach of my budget. But never say never.

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Smooth Up In Ya

Time to slow things down a bit and subject my ears to something where, as my mum would say, you can understand what they’re saying.

On Tuesday a trip up the road to Eleven is more than likely on the cards to partake in some late 80’s hard rockin’ all the way from Los Angeles. Marq Torien (the only constant member since the bands inception in 1986) brings the BulletBoys to Stoke on Trent.

I’m not the biggest fan of the band by a long shot, but they’re playing less than 2 miles up the road and and I’ve never seen them so it’s an opportunity I can’t really pass up. Some bands I’d considering travelling a decent distance to see, unfortunately some pretty much have to be on my doorstep to tempt me out.

I remember listening to the eponymous album and the follow record Freakshow back in my college days. Even though they rubbed shoulders with the hair bands that frequented the iconic Hollywood venues like the Rainbow Bar and Grill, Whisky A Go Go and the Troubador, the band probably owe more of their sound to Van Halen than Mötley Crüe.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t listen to anything again until I stumbled on their sixth album 10¢ Billionaire some time ago and I know I haven’t listened to any of their three albums released within the last decade. This evening has involved some binge listening of their back catalogue and the solitary track on Spotify that will be featured on their From Out of the Skies album that should be released anytime now via Frontiers Records.

They haven’t frequented these shores too often during their career. Their 2018 dates are the first in ten years, and if you had seen them on their first visit you’d have been waiting almost twenty years to see them second time around. I’m not really sure how popular they were over here. I’m guessing they got swallowed up by most of their more popular contemporaries, and odd songs here and there rose to the top in the rock clubs.

For a ticket price pushing nearly £20 I hope there is a decent crowd in the venue. Considering they’re sharing the stage with Enuff Z’Enuff, another band from the glam metal heyday, it’s pretty decent value for money in my eyes, and especially when you compare it to what I could’ve paid to see Skid Row last week. I’ve read a few negative comments online about poor crowds leading to an inferior performance and a seemingly shortened set. Let’s see what Tuesday brings.

From the self titled debut album, Smooth Up In Ya is one of the bands most well know tracks.

Quicksand Jesus

Last night didn’t see me in Birmingham for Suicidal Angels which would have been my forth show in six days, but missing that forth hurdle still leaves me with plenty to look forward to for the remainder of March.

The two shows I attended over the evenings of Friday and Saturday were both superb. Obituary never fail to impress and they were ably supported by Californian thrashers Exmortus, who were fantastic and it’s nice to see a support act afforded a decent amount of time on stage. They played for close on 50 minutes, but the headliners only did an hour or so, but with death metal that’s all you need!

A long evening in Manchester on Saturday began at 5pm with Maltese death metal band Bound to Prevail, a band I’d never heard of before I saw them and they were very impressive. Brazilian female thrash trio Nervosa were stunning yet again but the icing on the cake was a 60 minute death metal masterclass from Suffocation. Absolutely brutal stuff and they gave Obituary a run for their money 24 hours earlier, and might have just edged it over their southern counterparts. Nobody was following that blistering performance and we left before headliners Venom, Inc set foot on the Rebellion stage.

I have nothing before Friday’s annual pilgrimage to North Wales but I’m partially tempted with yet another jaunt to Manchester to see Skid Row with yet another frontman. I don’t need an excuse to give the bands first two albums a blast whether a show is on the horizon or not. My only issues are the vocalist the price tag.

Ex-Dragonforce vocalist ZP Theart is now filling the shoes recently (well I say recent, almost three years ago now) vacated by Tony Harnell. I wasn’t too impressed with Theart’s vocals in Dragonforce, a bit to high pitched for my liking, but it was also a band I had no great affinity with either.

Watching a few clips on YouTube from the bands recent Belfast show he sounds alright, but my wife who was doing something else in the room asked if I was listening to a tribute band! And that’s where the price comes into play.

I’d essentially be paying north of £25 to see them and I fully get the tribute act comparisons. I begrudgingly shelled out £25 for Saturday’s entertainment. I balked a bit at the price, then I thought it through logically and I was able to see five bands from five different countries. Three I’ve never seen before and the other two only a few times each. For a fiver a band it was good value.

I’ll see how I feel on Wednesday. Cannibal Corpse play Manchester on The same night too so I could pop up at the Ritz. I the meantime here’s Quicksand Jesus from Skid Row’s sophomore release Slave to the Grind.

Talk Dirty To Me

Even though I had to slice the last 20 minutes or so from the Rocket From The Crypt show to get the last train home, I had a thoroughly good time. Oh the joys of working Saturdays!

Before this month is out I think I’ll be sick of the sight of Piccadilly station and its surrounding gridlocked roads, that’s why I try and take the train. I need to keep my blood pressure down and Mancunian roads don’t help. Before the palaver of Christmas Day hits I think I’m in the city another four times and my next encounter could be tomorrow.

As much as I like the glam rock, hair metal, sleaze (call it what you will) genre, it’s probably the one that I’ve seen least bands from. The height of the back combed hair and leopard spandex was a bit too early for me to appreciate. Whether the audience wasn’t there I don’t know, but so few bands I listened to toured around the mid to late 90’s. I’ve probably seen more in the last decade at retro style festivals.

Tomorrow night I’m possibly off to see a pair of tribute bands of bands I’ve never seen live for one reason or another. Guns Or Roses and Poison take to the Ruby Lounge stage and a few hours of glam rock escapism is on the cards.

I never had to see what could be termed as a classic version of Axl Roses’ band. By the time I was going to gigs they’d already taken the world by storm. The club shows over here were well behind them and their Monsters of Rock appearance had seemingly propelled them to arenas, stadiums and outdoor solo and festival headlining events. There are very few UK shows between 1988 and 2006, and that’s when Axl’s band of hired hands and his own tardiness put me off shelling out money to see them.

Having said that though, reports from last years British shows were encouraging and with their participation at Download next year confirmed a reluctant trip could be on the cards to finally strike them off the list.

Bret Michaels and the rest of his Hollywood rogues that made up Poison are even more elusive on British soil. There had been no full electric performance here since 1993, as far as I can see. If the source material is accurate they have only played the island ten times since 1990. Their last foray was an unplugged session in the capital and that was over 17 years ago now.

When social media ask the tired old question of who would you like to see play festival x, y or z (and it’s not a really heavy festival) Poison always get a copious amount of mentions, but still they’ve never played. Do they cost too much? Do they not like the British weather? Or do these question setters just ignore their audience?

For the prices some of the second wave and lesser hair metal bands can charge at some of the more salubrious venues here, one of the 80’s originals could command a high ticket price and you’d have people fighting at 9am on a Friday morning to hand over wads of electronic cash to the ticket agencies. Unless the band really aren’t the big draw I have thought they were?

I can remember buying Look What the Cat Dragged In second hand from Mike Lloyd Music in Hanley. It was in a similar time frame that I purchased that one and Eaten Back to Life, the debut by Cannibal Corpse. The death metal album was from Lotus Records just up the road. With that one I was asked who wound I want to buy that offensive rubbish? It was a shop ran by a devout Christian at the time, so that was a pretty usual statement. They didn’t mind taking your money though.

When I took the Poison CD to the counter the shop assistant looked at the sleeve and as he was putting the disc in the tray he leant over and asked me if I was sure I wanted it. When I queried him his reply was “you know they’re guys and not girls with all that make up on?” I’ve still got the disc so it obviously didn’t cause me too much distress. I wonder what he’d make of some of the cross dressing acts of recent years?

Hopefully if I make it to the Ruby Lounge in 20 hours time, Talk Dirty to Me from the debut album will no doubt be in the set, and both bands will have a lot of songs that I forgot I liked. It’s been way too long since I listened to a Poison album in full, so that will be tomorrow mornings van sound track choice.

Slave To The Grind

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the urge to listen to the first two Skid Row relentlessly and during the entirety of this blog I’ve only posted about the band once. So in a change of pace from yesterday’s post here’s something still heavy, but very much removed from the evilness of Deicide. 

Skid Row and Guns ‘N’ Roses always used to go hand in hand together, so this post is going to be no different. Last week I posted how Appetite For Destruction was pretty much a perfect album as it celebrated thirty years. Unlike their touring partners back in the day, the New Jersey quintet managed to follow up their debut with an equally as strong sophomore offering. For me (and you know what people say about opinions) the dozen tracks on offer on the 1991 release has no weak links.  

Reading back the last Skid Row post from the dying days of December 2015, it came on the back of Tony Harnell departing the band and the internet flurry of Sebastian Bach returning to the fold. There were also rumours, or expectations, of an imminent global tour with the Gunners. So everyone was wrong on both accounts. 

The Not in this Lifetime tour is nearing its conclusion and Skid Row were not amongst the long list of opening acts during 130 worldwide performances on its nineteen month long trek. 

Harnell has been replaced with vocalist ZP Theart. Not really a household name, unless you are a DragonForce fan. South African ZP took over live duties and became a permanent addition to the band in January of this year. I’ve only seen a poorly recorded version of his first performance on YouTube and I wasn’t overly impressed, but I may be tempted to check out his inaugural British shows when they land here early in 2018.  

Released in 1991, Slave to the Grind would have been another college purchase and I know it was played to death at the time. The band had moved on a bit from the more glam orientated self titled release and were more of a straight ahead heavy metal band. There’s some really heavy stuff on this second record. Both albums have been heavily played in the twenty six years since they’ve been in my collection, but after those two I’ve hardly listened to anything else that has been released. 

Out Ta Get Me

Besides today being my wife’s birthday (happy birthday wife of mine), thirty years ago saw the release of (in my opinion) one of the strongest debut albums ever released. From track one through to twelve there’s not a duff song in its 54 minute running time. 

There are odd songs, mainly the two biggest hits from the album, that I don’t really need to listen to for the billionth time, but I don’t think I’ve ever skipped a track when I’ve been in the mood to listen to it in its entirety. 

I’m pretty sure I somehow heard “second album” G N’ R Lies first. But I recall the day that I was introduced to Appetite For Destruction. 

I remember being in the field behind a friends house kicking a football about badly when a pair of the local metal heads with a much more glam metal leaning came around to loan my friend the slab of vinyl. I had myself a copy dubbed onto a TDK D-90 and I was hooked and the rest is history. 

I’ve always been comfortable with the hair metal genre sitting in my vinyl collection, even though at that time I was heavily into the heavy metal and thrash stuff. I’ve never owned a pair of cowboy boots, tight stonewashed jeans, a tasseled leather jacket or purchased an amount of flouncy multi coloured scarfs and eye liner has definitely never touched my face. But I could listen to Skid Row, Ratt, Cinderella or Poison all day long, and I often do. 

I occasionally wonder what expectations bands have when they get together in a parents basement or garage? In this day of manufactured chart bands the winner of The X Factor or whatever TV programme is expected to hit the top of the mountain in the singles chart, then ride the crest of a wave for a few months until the next big thing wins the following year. How could a bunch of twenty something’s write and record an album like this and three decades later have sold thirty million copies of their debut, and handle all of the attention? 

Most people in bands I know are chuffed to pieces to have a professional looking CD or piece of vinyl in their possession and hopefully perform on the same stage as a favourite band at some point, even if they are on that stage ten hours before the headliners step on and probably still in a state of slumber in a five star hotel miles away. A few thousand copies shifted is a pipe dream on day one, let alone thirty million. 

There’s no official video for this track and this live (and uncensored) version was recorded at the New York Ritz in 1988. 

The Ballad Of Ruby

Like I said yesterday I love how eclectic my songs seem to be when the shuffle button is utilised. From the more thrash orientated of things I’ve had Hellion, Children of Bodom followed by Deathwish. First song today is by Tyketto. A proper curve ball and I can’t get much further apart from yesterday to today’s offering. 

As stated earlier I don’t do bad songs (even the Nickelback songs I have are decent!*) so I have no problems with listening to this track (which incidentally was followed by Final Six by Slayer). I can’t really remember listening to this song before. Another ballad, obviously, from the band that kind of reminds me of The Black Crowes or bringing it more up to date The Temperance Movement. 

New York’s Tyketto were formed back in 1987 by Waysted vocalist Danny Vaughn, who is a stunning frontman. The Ballad of Ruby is from the bands third release Shine, so I’ve obviously got a cross section of their catalogue in my library, but it’s really only their debut Don’t Come Easy that I’m overly familiar with, and so are most other people who are simply “familiar” with the name. 

I’ve seen them twice now. It should have been three but their UK club dates last year were cancelled and I couldn’t make the rescheduled Liverpool show. The first time was a brief set in a rather large tent during Download 2010. The biggest crowd reaction was for Forever Young. It’s from the debut album and is one of those songs that you didn’t know you knew! 

Six years later they were in North Wales for Hard Rock Hell AOR. It was the same weekend that Hammerfest and AOR were held in union. Quite handy when I had my wife in tow so we didn’t have to suffer Cradle of Filth. It was the silver anniversary of the first album so they played it in full, just backwards, much like Metallica did on the European Black Album tour in 2012. As Danny Vaughn said, everyone would leave after the first song which is Forever Young. The same reason Metallica didn’t open with Enter Sandman? 

Right, I’m suffering with this stinking head cold and making too many mistakes here, I’ve had to write pretty much every other word twice as I just can’t type today. And I also have an Iron Maiden ticket for Saturday to try and sell. Who thought that would be so hard?

After 408 posts I appear to have come across a song that isn’t a standalone track on YouTube in some form. The link below should take you to the full album. Fast forward to about twenty two minutes if you’re interested. 

(* NOT delirium setting in. Honest)