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. 

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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) 

Rip And Tear

I first posted about L.A. Guns back in May of last year when I should have gone to see the Phil Lewis version of the Los Angeles band in Wales. Unfortunately I couldn’t make the midweek jaunt, but I didn’t have to wait too long for a second bite of the cherry as they are currently ripping up stages in the UK as I type. 

Looking back on the first post there was a lot about the murky going on’s between the classic members. It couldn’t really get any weirder. But it does. 

If I remember correctly, a Tracii Guns version of the band was announced for an appearance at this years Hard Rock Hell AOR event. At some point towards the end of last year Phil Lewis announced he’s quitting L.A. Guns on January 1st to concentrate on himself,  only to join… L.A. Guns! 

It now seems to be billed as L.A. Guns featuring Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns – or something along those lines. I’m not sure where that leaves ex W.A.S.P. drummer Steve Riley now as he seems to be in the other version of the band that appears to have no members! It’s a shame that they couldn’t have buried the hatchet enough to have a classic triumvirate of Guns, Lewis and Riley up on those stages, rather than Shane Fitzgibbon on the drum stool.  

There are three shows within an hours drive or train ride from my abode, so I’m hoping to catch at least one show. I’m not sure which one as it depends on what days I’m needed in (or willing to) work. I was planning on Chester on Sunday as I’m supposed to be off work next week. But if I’m working Monday I don’t fancy hitting the hay at midnight for a 3:40am alarm call. If I’m in work on Monday then I’ll probably end up in Wolverhampton on Saturday and bail on my already arranged local show. Which ever one I get along to I’m hoping they have the shirt I’ve desired for so long up for sale. 

Rip and Tear is taken from the group’s sophomore release Cocked & Loaded released in 1989, just nineteen months after the self titled debut hit the stores. Fifty five minutes of pure Hollywood sleaze at its finest. 

L.O.V.E. Machine 

I’m generally not a fan of cover bands or tribute bands. In all my time I’ve purposely seen three that I can think of – a Bon Jovi tribute in the early days of the wife and I, a Metallica tribute and a band who played rock covers. I think that’s it in twenty eight years! 

At a push you could say four when I saw Satan’s Lounge Band perform at the Best Buy Theatre in New York City in 2011, even though it was Anthrax members playing Anthrax songs in one of the worst kept secrets in the metal community during the Big 4 weekend in the city. 

Tomorrow I’m off to Eleven – just up the road – to take that tally to five. Whitesnake U.K. are performing there and ably supported by Electric Circus.  Not quite as self explanatory as the headliners but I’m intrigued to see a tribute to W.A.S.P., especially as I’ve never heard of a tribute to the said Los Angeles outfit. 

I’ve seen the bonafide versions of both bands on numerous occasions and as noted previously, W.A.S.P. were the first headline band I saw live and a further dozen times since. Mr Coverdale’s band a more modest three times. 

Coincidentally both bands were two of the first three 7″ singles I purchased back in 1987 from Mike Lloyds Music in Newcastle. Dio’s “I Could Have Been A Dreamer” was the gooseberry amongst this trio of pieces of plastic, along with Whitesnake’s re-release of Here I Go Again and W.A.S.P.’s notorious debut single Animal (F**k Like A Beast) – I was thirteen and rebellious. 

I’m not entirely sure what I expect to have seen by the culmination of the show; it could be stunning or a complete car crash of an evening. I’m hoping the vocals of the Whitesnake clones are better than the three times I’ve seen the genuine article. And in regards to W.A.S.P. I’m kind of hoping I’ll get to hear Animal played live for the first time in thirteen years since frontman Blackie Lawless “found god”. 

 W.A.S.P. are up there as one of my favourite bands and have only featured twice in the blog. L.O.V.E. Machine is taken from the band’s self titled debut (or in some territories it’s known as Winged Assassins) from 1984. For me, that album is amongst my favourite debut albums. It’s such a great slice of Hollywood sleaze with no fillers on the album in my humble opinion. This track was never released as a single in the U.K., but there was a 12″ released in Japan, and for collector geeks, there’s an American promotional 12″ release and a Spanish promo 7″. 

Dream Warriors

   
Through various reasons I’m staying home tonight rather than heading to the Amon Amarth show tonight – that can edit to Saturday, so you lucky people get to have a third Halloween related instalment to finish off October 31st. 

This track by Dokken was an easy one for me to pick, but not necessarily an obvious choice to post. Heavy metal and the horror genre go hand in hand and it feels like it’s been that way for eternity. Maybe the metal community is an already made fan base for horror films? A lot of bands use the occult as themes and imagery so why wouldn’t a metal head like something The Omen?  

I reckon I could fill this blog on an almost daily basis of random words for a year just with songs featured in films or their soundtracks. There are so many I could use and a lot that aren’t exactly obvious choices, Saraya, Romeos Daughter and Dangerous Toys are just three that you wouldn’t expect to hear during a horror flick. 

The metal and horror film highway isn’t just one way traffic either. If I had the time today I’d probably just chill in front of the TV armed with Trick Or Treat and Strangeland on DVD which have significant roles for Gene Simmons, Ozzy Osbourne and Dee Snider rather than just a brief walk on cameo. Then again I might just binge watch the Elm Street films. It’s been such a long time since I watched any of the first six films, but I can easily say the same for the Jason Voorhees and Pinhead franchises. A Christmas time project maybe?   
  

Dream Warriors is the theme song from the third instalment of the Nightmare On Elm Street films, released in theatres in 1987. The song is also featured on Dokken’s fourth album Back For The Attack released in the same year. I’ve got a soft spot for this band and I’m very confident they will be featured again in the not to distant future. 

May the power of Don Dokken and George Lynch compel you…

We’re Not Gonna Take It

  
 

In a complete contrast to the preceding bands Friday nights headliners Twisted Sister are bringing the curtain down on a 34 year love affair with the United Kingdom as they put the band out to pasture after a four decade slog and a multitude of highs and as many lows.  

The British Isles were the first place to embrace the band outside of their native USA. Debut album Under The Blade came out on Secret Records – primarily a punk label based in London. Their debut show outside of North America was in Wrexham, a small town in North Wales, closely followed by a gig at the legendary Marquee Club in London. They even managed to find Stoke on Trent twice in 1983 and 1986 – alas I wasn’t at either. 

Since their resurgence as a live act in 2001 UK visits haven’t been as regular in the shires as people would have liked. A slew of dates supporting Alice Cooper in 2005 and a quartet of headline shows a year later have all been bookended by festival appearances. One final run in halls would have been nice, but ending their relationship with us Limeys headlining Bloodstock is the next best way they could bow out over here. 

I saw them say Au Revoir to France at Hellfest eight weeks ago. Alongside the other pair of headliners – Rammstein and Black Sabbath – people thought the New York boys were out of their depth, but 90 minutes later those people were proved wrong. They have such a great back catalogue of upbeat, sing a long tunes that people undoubtedly know and it is pretty surreal. Even the most straight laced of us managed to crack a grin and tap a foot. They came to put on a show and entertain the masses and their mission was accomplished with flying colours. 

If you are of that age to recall MTV showing actual music videos – yes, music is what the M in MTV stands for – then you’ve probably come across a pair of their videos those being I Wanna Rock and We’re Not Gonna Take It both taken from the Stay Hungry album. Both videos are more like a pair of mini movies and the familiar faces in them belong to Mark Metcalf as the father and Stephen Furst reprising the principals role, both from the college comedy films National Lampoons Animal House and its follow ups. 

Thank you for the memories and the tunes Dee, Jay Jay, Eddie A J and Mark – without a doubt you’ll be missed.