Nightman Listens To – Ringo Starr – Sentimental Journey (Non-Beatles Series)!

Sentimental Journey: Amazon.co.uk: Music

Greetings, Glancers! You know, throughout my life I’ve heard quite a few songs by Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison that they wrote, recorded, and performed outside of The Beatles. Ringo Starr though? I can’t think of any off the top of my head. That’s why I was surprised that he has made so many albums – surely I’ve heard something. As I make my way through this journey, I’m sure I’ll find out. And yet, Ringo’s voice was probably more familiar to me than any of the other Beatles when I was young, thanks to his work on Thomas The Tank Engine. 

Sentimental Journey was released in 1970 and is apparently the first non experimental, weird, avant-garde album by any Beatle. I was looking forward to this until I saw the tracklist and released it was a cover album. Ah well, I suppose Ringo had to work through his shit before making something good too. Lets do this.

Sentimental Journey: We open with a song I don’t recognise. It threatens Country, then Jazz, then settles into some easy-listening crooning once Ringo starts singing. I know Ringo’s vocals tend to get a lot of criticism – he can sing fine, it’s just that he’s limited. His vocals work well for things like With A Little Help. The problem here is that the song is junk. There’s a lot thrown into the arrangement – droopy horns, backing vocals, and some unusual voicebox work. A slow, yet detailed opening.

Night And Day: Big band wank. If there’s one other genre I typically cannot find any worth in beyond Country (and Irish) it’s Big Band/Swing stuff. Ironically, Starr’s vocals do suit that style, though he probably doesn’t have the strength or supposed sex appeal the singers in this genre are supposed to have. But the melodies, the brass, the beat, the swagger – everything about this is abhorrent to me, aside from some of the snazzy drum fills, but it’s not Ringo’s fault – it’s just a crap song in a style I can’t stand.

Whispering Grass: More big band jazzy stuff. At least this song has a discernible, appealing melody. The strings are whining, the song is boring, and Ringo’s voice doesn’t have the chops to quite pull it off. It takes a certain level of talentlessness to put violins in a song and make me wish they weren’t there.

Bye Bye Blackbird: Is this Paul McCartney? Or Arthur Askey? It’s the sort of jaunty piece of novelty crap McCartney would have written then passed over to Ringo to sing. Funny for about three seconds, then tragic. It should also be noted that I was listening to this while trying to untangle my Laptop power cable before the battery died, and I almost headbutted the monitor in rage.

I’m A Fool To Care: More brass. More ass. I’m not sure I would have survived in an era when music was this bad – pre 1950. Then again, I’m alive now. If I had been alive then, I’m fairly certain I would have single-handedly invented Metal. Somehow.

Stardust: Oh no. I see the whole album was meant to be a selection of his parents’ favourite songs. That would explain it – parents haven’t a fucking clue. This has some interesting pronunciation.

Blue, Turning Grey Over You: Dear Jeebus, so much useless noise. All that brass makes me feel how pensioners must feel when they hear Cannibal Corpse. The melody is almost non-existant, the trumpets run over everything else making the song nothing more than a predictable selection of brass farts.

Love Is A Many Splendoured Thing: Another of the songs I know. Of course it’s a song I never liked. He keeps the awful choral backing vocals, but his vocals act as a counterpoint and somehow improve things. This is absolutely a song which should be performed solo with quiet vocals and as little backing arrangement as possible.

Dream: I know a version of this. This isn’t much better. Ringo’s verse vocals don’t work at all. It’s just another boring pre-rock ballad with the same rhythm as the others. Nigh on unlistenable.

You Always Hurt The One You Love: At least this one starts interestingly, before the verse arrangement gets things all wrong. More wanky jazz in the middle. Terrible.

Have I Told You Lately That I Love You: We all know this. Apparently Elmer Bernstein had a crack at arranging this. It’s somewhere between a complete mess and something that weird ginger kid in your class who usually said funny things and sat with one hand in his pocket all time would write.

Let The Rest Of The World Go By: Twinkling and tinkling. Then more brass. And the same rhythm as the other dreary ballads. Worse than Love Island. 

Well, the title was right. Kind of. It probably was a Sentimental Journey recording these for his parents. For everyone else (me) it means absolutely nothing and is as pointless a piece of shit I’ve ever had the misfortune of hearing. What do you think? Actually, forget it – I never want to think of this again.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Seriously?

Nightman Listens To – Bon Jovi – What About Now!

What About Now (album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! I’ve now listened to two ‘new’ Bon Jovi albums with Lost Highway and The Circle with the general consensus being that I thought they were better than I was expecting, particularly the latter. With today’s listen-though, I haven’t even heard of the album title before and know absolutely nothing about the songs or music or style. I was aware that Richie Sambora left the band at some point, but it turns out that this was the last album he worked on with the band. I don’t know anything about the background or his reasons for leaving the group, but maybe that has some sort of effect on how the album sounds. I don’t know, I’m clutching straws. I don’t think that, even though I was pleased with the last two albums, that I’m going to raise my expectations in any way so I’m still placing the bar quite low for this one. Let’s do this.

Because We Can‘ has a very poppy opening – lots of layered vocals and keyboards, light on the guitars. John’s vocals sound a little strange, not sure if they were being tweaked in the studio. I quite like the verse melody, it’s an easy ear worm while the chorus has lyrics which are easy to remember and sing along with. It feels like a dedicated attempt at making waves in the charts and it’s quite a distance from their harder rock roots.

I’m With You‘ is more like what we know from the band, even if they guitars lack whatever bite they may have once had. I’m happy they’ve returned to a focus on melody, something they had slipped a little from but have grown back into in the last album. I am drawn more to the verse melodies on this one, same as the first, and in the chorus here the mass vocals feel over produced and possibly modified a little from how they originally sounded.

What About Now‘ is the title track, and sounds like another obvious single. It’s much more generic and middle of the road than the first two songs, but it’s still going to appeal to their core fan group. It’s a little more emotive in the second verse but I don’t see it having the power to draw in any new fans.

Pictures Of You‘ continues the full melodic sound. The songs may lack punch and are ever more pandering towards fans of the softer side but they’re not overly repetitive in terms of this album yet. This is sweet enough, obviously another love song but with a fast enough tempo to keep it out of ballad territory. If you already like the band, you’ll enjoy this. If you don’t like them, this will be more evidence. It’s not strong enough to convert any newbs if we compare it to their big hits.

Amen‘ is straight into ballad land, starting with an acoustic guitar as soft as a harp and lots of loving metaphors. There’s not much to it – the odd swell of strings and organ as it proceeds, but very simple and not any new ideas. Once the vocals and strings soar it gets better, but he needed to take the vocals one notch higher – in the past he would have. One for the ladies… just not enough force to get it into that A class of ballads.

That’s What The Water Made Me‘ increases the pace once more with a clattering of drums. More poppy melodies, very commercial, very much ticking all those ‘how to make a hit’ boxes without hitting the ‘how to make a classic’ ones. It’s fine and another great song for existing fans.

Whats Left Of Me‘ is more of Jon aligning himself with or imagining himself as the working man, and jotting down his thoughts on blue collar life. There’s an ever so quiet hint of Nashville similar to what they were doing a couple of albums ago. No new ground here and not strong enough of a copy to make any impact.

Army Of One‘ opens with a drum beat which should be familiar to most Bon Jovi fans. The organ grows as the vocals prepare for an anthem of some description. The guitars and bass join in slowly but the sudden chorus blast breaks this rhythm and any crescendo falls apart. The chorus is too simplistic and repetitive to drive its point home with any conviction. Instead it sadly comes across as the sort of attempt at an anthem or rallying call that a one year’s success boy band’s manager would devise. It’s supposed to be inspirational and I hope it reaches the ears of those who need it and who it would work for, but it misses the mark wildly for me.

Thick As Thieves‘ feels like a more honest ballad. There’s a dual keyboard and organ, smooth in your eye vocals, and a slow pace. It’s touching, I can see it working for most fans. It’s not perfect, it doesn’t have the emotional peaks I look for in ballads, instead going for a more matter of fact approach. Their existing fans who prefer the ballads will surely adore this too.

Beautiful World‘ gets the pace back on track, though we’re hardly getting out of third gear. Plenty more hooks, more positivity, and another big chorus with enough bounce and energy to serve it well in the live environment. There are quite a few songs on the album which feel like singles, but none of them would crack the band’s own top twenty or my personal favourites.

Room At The End Of The World‘ starts with great promise – straight in with no messing or elaborate intro. The melody and atmosphere I look for are there and it feels like it’s building towards something interesting. The chorus hits and it’s… well it’s like any number of the band’s choruses in their previous ten years. They’re very interchangeable and don’t stand apart from the crowd. I keep saying it, but long time fans shouldn’t mind.

The Fighter‘ draws the album to a close. It starts with promise – uncomplicated guitar which Jon follows with his vocal melody. It’s very sweet and the lyrics aren’t as obvious. The chorus for once feels like an extension of the verse and melody rather than an attempt to sound as commercial as possible. A pleasing ending.

Well, another good album better than what a cynic like me would be expecting. It doesn’t leap out of the stereo, it doesn’t challenge, but it does give fans what they want. It’s wonderful for the fans that the band keeps giving the fans what they want and that the band are happy to keep doing what they do. They’re probably doing what they do better than anyone else, even if they’re not doing it as well as they used to. That’s the part which is to be expected as few artists can continually reinvent themselves or get progressively better. Most hit a peak and stay there or tumble off the other side into oblivion. Maybe there are songs here with the strength and quality to bring in new fans, if only the listeners had regular easy access, but as healthy and fun as most of the songs will be for existing fans I don’t see the audience growing. On a personal note there are fewer songs that I’d chose to listen to again than on the previous album, but I was never really the target audience.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Because We Can. I’m With You. The Fighter.

Let us know what you think of What About Now in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – The Stone Roses – Second Coming (Top 1000 Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! I continue my never-ending adventure through the best albums of all time, with a band I’m familiar with but an album I have never heard. As a side note – you see how popular all these Youtubers are getting with song reactions? I especially listen to a lot of the ‘first time reacting to Metallica’ or Metal in general videos, and while they were fun at the start, every other dick has jumped on the bandwagon meaning we get copy and paste ‘personalities’ reacting the same way to the exact same songs. There are a few good ones, but the general format is ‘cute girl/gangsta rap fan listens to Metallica/Iron Maiden/Nightwish/Megadeth and is amazed that people can play instruments/write those lyrics/sing that way, and how they have never heard of it before. With each new reactor it’s getting more false and less likable, but it’s essentially what I’m doing with these posts. The difference being that I’m listening to the entire album and that you don’t get to see my face or my ‘reactions’. Which is probably for the best as I don’t have the most expressive face and it would be even more boring than reading this, as impossible as that sounds. If I ever did do a video reaction, I think it would be less repetitive than when I write – when writing off the cuff like this I tend to take less care in what I write, but when I speak off the cuff I’m much more creative. It’s strange, because it’s the complete opposite when it comes to planning – when I plan, my writing is much more interesting but when I speak it sounds like a sleep inducing speech. Enough!

What Do I Know About The Stone Roses: Only released two albums – the first was a huge success, influential, and has a few songs I enjoy. John Squire played guitar, Mani was on Bass, and Ian Brown started the whole strutting about Manchester singer thing. I’ve seen Ian Brown live several times, though not by choice – he just always seems to be there.

What Do I Know About Second Coming: It wasn’t a flop, but didn’t have the success or praise of the first. Looking at the tracklist, there’s only one song I definitely know but I know I’ve heard some of the others because my best mate in school was a massive fan.

Breaking Into Heaven: An intro heavily reliant on feedback, distortion, and looping, followed up by water sounds – a river, and is that a bird. I think I’ve heard this before but it’s not stirring any memories at the moment. Some voices lingering in the background, like a train announcement system. Tribal beats and lasers and bird calls. Sudden guitar wankery. This goes on for a few more minutes. The shift into the song proper doesn’t quite work – the drums come in perfectly but there’s this little gap in the guitar where it feels too jarring – it should be a clean break or a fade but this is neither. Brown’s familiar vocals waft in – as I’ve said elsewhere I’m not a fan of the Manchester scene and a lot of the samey vocal styles which came with it. It feels like a band in full command of their abilities and bursting with confidence. The vocal melodies are too wispy and light – slightly better for the chorus and bridge but nothing which really grabs me. It’s all about the guitar, with Squire tearing it up and turning a non-eventful tune into something more epic than it may genuinely be. The middle melody is stronger, followed by another instrumental and kicking solo, before it fades out.

Driving South: This opens with a beast of a riff, phat and thic and other misspelled, well-meaning adjectives. The drums don’t do much for me – they’re too static and rigid – again like much of the Manchester stuff of the era. Brown’s vocals don’t match the bite of the guitar and instead he goes for an air of cool – that worked for most people of the time but I never bought into it being much more on the grunge side of the fence. Really this is all guitar and the words and melodies are so far in the background as to render them pointless. If we had a good melody then we would have a much better song. As it stands it’s still good – easy to move to, easy to listen to, but it may as well be an instrumental.

Ten Storey Love Song: This is the one I definitely know as my mate played it for days. It has a famous noise fade in, with a lot of bits which swirl around in conflict with each other, sometimes joining, mostly breaking, until the lead guitar line and vocal comes into view. We finally have a decent melody and the band matches it. It’s a fantastic, underrated song, but I imagine how good it would be with a vocalist really belting it out – Bono or Bradfield would have a whale of a time with this. The drums are even more interesting, filling out the spaces and leaving a few well intended ones of their own.

Daybreak: This doesn’t start out well – more of the same whispered, accented vocals and shuffle drum beats, with riffs relying on old Blues tropes. The little instrumental section between verses is great – drums included – but then the verses come again and leave me flat. The guitar acts as a better drum in the verses. It’s weird, because those instrumental pieces are excellent, guitar, bass, and drum all loose like the best Zeppelin jams. Vocals in the middle are a little better. It closes out with an organ of all things and a big guitar and drum sped up jamming session which is good fun. A song of highs and lows.

Your Star Will Shine: Is this going to be the hippy track of the album. A gentle acoustic intro with hand clap style drums and some backwards stuff at play. A better attempt at melody. This suits the vocal approach better. It’s short and it doesn’t progress much and still a bit light to make an impact on me.

Straight To The Man: A brief tribal intro morphs into a Seventies porn rhythm. This is probably the most straight and simple song so far, it doesn’t stray from the norm, and it hits all the established notes of the album except for the more creative experimental leanings.

Begging You: A fade in of throbbing and swirling guitar bits before the same old drum beat drops, albeit in a slightly faster pace. The vocals are marginally more aggressive, but this one feels repetitive. There’s a lot of distortion and the guitar parts are noise based rather than your standard hooks, chords, or riffs, disparate parts coming together to form a mass. It has a few moments of interest, namely more instrumental or any time the drums cut out. Another which doesn’t do much for me.

Tightrope: A second hippy track? A lazy vocal with single chord strums, and tapping beats to give a campfire singalong feel. I thought it was going to explode, but instead it became even more campfire. Feels like a Youth Mission on a beach. I see what they’re going for, but it’s flat, dull, and boring. More like a demo written and recorded inside 5 minutes while the producer was taking a dump/snorting coke.

Good Times: This is becoming a slog now, waiting for a better song – a bit of invention. This starts with harmonica, so that’s different. Vocal with drums, or cymbals I should say. This is a fine example of Brown not being the most appealing vocalist. The guitar comes in – great, but the drums do too, and that’s not so great. This is little more than a middle of the road old fashioned rock and roll song with the Manchester sound cumming all over it, and a dashing of Squire goodness. A better singer would take it up a notch, but it’s distinctly average. At least there’s more energy, but you feel the band lost all their creative writing the two best songs.

Tears: A third hippy song. This has a very folk Zeppelin vibe in the intro. Any comparison ends the moment Brown opens his gub. It just keeps going on, at the same level, with no variety yet without hitting the hypnotic quality, until finally the volume strikes and I have a giggle at Brown’s awful attempts at keeping up. Honestly, any other singer would have made 90% of these songs 70% better. The Zep vibes continue as the heavier parts suspiciously mimic the heavier parts of Stairway to the extent that this is surely a knowing homage. Squire plays a blinder again, even the drums are decent. I’d quite enjoy this song with another singer, or with Brown actually putting in some effort.

How Do You Sleep: Good guitar intro, cool lyrics. Brown’s vocals… well, we know what we’re getting by now. This feels like an anthem – it’s straightforward and has a more obvious melodic quality from start to finish. It’s that lazy/laid back drawl which still holds it back for me. I know plenty of people who love that, but my personal preference is for vocalists with power or urgency. Sweet, simple solo in the middle. I’d happily listen to this one again, but that only makes it three or four from the whole.

Love Spreads: Ha, for the briefest second this sounded like Radiohead’s I Might Be Wrong. It’s groovy, great production as always, and it has that foot tapping rhythm. I know it’ll fall over once Brown comes in. And yes, it does. I realize I’m being harsh on him, but it’s just no my thing. The problem with some of the vocals, not in this song, is that he is quite severely out of tune. Drums are much better here. The last couple of minutes are needlessly stretched out. A decent end but stamps again how little the Madchester scene means to me.

There’s meant to be some Untitled stuff at the end of the album, but I’m not going hunting for it now.

What Did I Learn: That the one band with the greatest chance of making me enjoy the whole Madchester thing… couldn’t. The whole look, style, the spidey wee glasses, the awful hair, the ‘look at me everyone, I’m taking drugs’ arrogance, the strutting about like you’ve shit your pants… it’s embarrassing and hateful, and produced a hell of a lot less good music than people think. I already knew Squire was a great guitarist, but this reminded me and taught me that he was the main driving force in the band. It also reminded me of the importance of having a strong singer in the group; it doesn’t matter how good the band is – if your singer is muck, then the whole temple tumbles to ruin. Oasis remain the only Manchester band I regularly enjoy. I love the song names, if that’s any consolation.

Does It Deserve Its Place In The Top 1000 Albums Of All Time: Based on the usual criteria – no. I don’t believe it sold well, critical reviews have always been mixed, and by the time this came out their time of influence had already passed. Had this been their first album then maybe, but this isn’t as good as their first. There are a couple of great songs, a few which could have been great with a decent singer, but the rest are middling. The overriding feeling I got from this is that Squire wished he was in a metal band. I understand why people will love it and will dance to it and get mad for it or whatever, but beyond the guitar there are a hundred other Indie bands from the same time doing stuff exactly like this and it fails to stand out. Change the singer, keep the drums away from that repetitive style, and I’d enjoy this a lot more. Even with all of that, I imagine if I was drunk or listened to this more I’d get into more by pure familiarity. I have no desire to.

Colin Larkin’s Ranking: 920/1000

Let us know in the comments what you think of The Second Coming!

Nightman Listens To – Accept – Restless And Wild (Top 500 Metal Albums Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s perhaps apt that I begin this metal journey with a band whose name starts with an ‘A’. Accept isn’t a band I have a lot of experience with, at least not that I am conscious of. As with many of the bands and albums coming up, I’ve probably heard their stuff and just ignored it or not known who it was. I know fo’ sho’ I’ve heard a number of songs by Accept – their 1983 hit Balls To The Wall is familiar to most metal fans of a certain age. They’re a band who have been going since the 1970s and are still recording an touring today – when you’re metal, you never stop. Hailing from Germany, we may be in for some unintentionally hilarious lyrics or accents, and we’re sure to hit some top speeds. I know the band are one of those European bands named by later, more successful bands as an influence so I’m hopeful I get this series off with a blast. This 1982 release was apparently their fourth album, just before they hit it big with Balls To The Wall so maybe this has some of the hit-making qualities which paved the way.

Fast As A Shark: Ah yes. I know this one – it’s in the classic Demons – a movie about people trapped by zombies/demons in a cinema. It has a comedy false opening with some sort of folk song which gets obliterated by a shriek and some lightening drumming. As was standard for the genre and the period, the vocals are somewhere north of crotch-crushing. The production isn’t the best, but it’s far from the worst and gives it that added grimy touch – like watching a VHS tape. You won’t be able to make out most of the lyrics, but this is all about the speed and energy anyway. You can tell where the likes of Metallica got their influence from – many thrash guitar solos which would emerge in the next few years sound just like this.

Restless And Wild: Here we get a slice of Maiden-esque galloping. It’s a great intro which falls apart in the verses as the instruments withdraw and the vocals go to strange places. For metal fans, there’s plenty here to charm you but it’s not going to entertain anyone else. There isn’t much subtlety and you can understand your average listener dismissing it as noise. The rest of the band gets in on the vocal act, chucking in deeper harmonies in that classic 80s shouty way. The solo is another belter though.

Ahead Of The Pack: A more restrained, cultured intro if you will. Of course it’s only seconds before we descend into another series of adolescent-pandering slogans and screams – just the way we like it. It’s a very classic metal feel. The verses do this interesting pause thing once each time which catches you off guard. It doesn’t seem to serve any other purpose. There’s a cool effect before the solo smashes in, and the tone of the lead guitar is dirtier than a whore on Friday.

Shake Your Heads: A slower song with a simple riff/structure. Those vocals though, they sound like a eunuch being throttled. Imagine Bon Scott being fired to the moon via a firework in his anus, and you’ll be somewhere close. Still, that’s what everyone was at those days. The solo has more room to breath with this structure, but it’s a very basic one. Maybe one the fans can practice playing along to.

Neon Nights: I just had to pause in my writing there, because that intro is fantastic. There are a few moments which remind me of much bigger metal songs, eerie and otherworldly, and then there’s a great fuzzy boom and guitar tone before the song properly starts. The vocals are more restrained, nowhere near the sphincter melting heights of every other track. The solo goes back to that fuzzy tone of the intro as the rhythm section slops along. This one was written with a little more skill and attention.

Get Ready: A more straightforward classic rock intro with a little metal kick. The vocals are back. This one feels cheesier than the rest. It’s still fun and quirky for the modern metal listener and it’s decent enough for me who remembers a lot of this sort of thing from my childhood. I’m not a big fan of the ‘shout along handful of word chorus’ approach which Def Leppard would later perfect – it’s prominent here.

Demon’s Night: It starts okay, but loses steam in its simplicity. Decent rhythm, chugs along – it’s a bit of a precursor to Creeping Death but with little of that song’s brilliance and spark. Lots of pleasingly headache inducing guitar inflections and twists – a pity of the vocal melodies and approach don’t shape up.

Flash Rockin’ Man: An intro suspiciously like Two Minutes To Midnight. Ha ha, a quick look down the comments and everyone has mentioned the same thing. METAL! The verse goes in a completely different direction from that classic and it doesn’t have a chorus – instead going for some bonus guitars. Well, it eventually gets to a chorus. I’ve no idea what he’s shouting about. It just reminds me of a time when every metal band sounded like this and some of the local hoods would walk around with ghetto blasters pissing off the oldies by playing this stuff. Some nice twists in the second half.

Don’t Go Stealing My Soul Away: This one comes closest to having an actual melodic, singalong chorus. Yeah, if you want to rip your throat to pieces by trying to sing along with any of the songs on this album, by all means go ahead. It’s another simple one which gets immediately to the point and stays there with no frills. Not much to say beyond that singalong chorus.

Princess Of The Dawn: Jeepers, this one has a Two Minutes To Midnight feel too. Then it turns into Maiden’s The Clairvoyant. It’s another strong intro and this time they go all in on the melody. As much as they’re creatively able to at least. The vocals are patchy in places, mumbling and veering between the lower range and the painful high stuff. Who is the princess of the dawn? She Ra? Great solo. The best production and attention seems to have gone towards keeping the solos crisp. There’s excellent drum-work as the solo draws to a close and the final couple of minutes throw in a batch of other ideas which raise the song to further heights.

If I’d been a born a few years earlier and had access to more funds and the ability to buy stuff, I imagine I would have listened to a lot more stuff like this. As it stands, I was only exposed to the biggest bands and everything else was one-off songs until much later.  By the time I had money, it was all grunge and Brit-pop. There’s enough ability here that you can tell the band weren’t just making up the numbers in the metal community. They weren’t just playing fast and loud, they were expanding and trying other things. They don’t go very far in that direction here – maybe they do on later albums – but maybe those were enough to encourage the next wave of bands to go further. Metal fans of my age and older will enjoy this, but I don’t see many metal fans younger than me going for it – it does feel too much like a relic of another age, and it you weren’t a part of that age the style and approach may be too foreign to you. Still, I’m glad I’ve heard it and there are a few I’ll be listening to again even if I wouldn’t class any as a great.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Neon Night. Faster Than A Shark. Princess Of The Dawn.

Nightman Listens To – Room Service – Roxette!

*Note – written July 2019

Greetings, Glancers! It’s Roxette time again, and another album that I’m 100% unfamiliar with. Last time around, I didn’t think much of Have A Nice Day beyond a couple of okayish tracks. The general next step in a band’s late career after an average album is another average album. Some acts call it a day, others go on a hiatus before a, more often than not, well-received return to form some years down the line. This came a couple of years after the previous album so I can only assume it’s going to be the same sort of thing. I’m clutching at straws here to fill out the intro. Let’s do this.

Real Sugar: A synth opening. Per sounds as youthful as ever as he begins to sing. Melody is alright, the drums are terrible, but the chorus is better – a little edge, and as you know I prefer Marie’s vocals. The chorus actually makes the verse marginally better, giving a shadow/light dynamic to some extent. The bridge seems tacked on – as if it could have been written for any song, it doesn’t feel like part of this song necessarily. Marie’s vocals actually feel a little off here. Still, it’s a poppy opener which long-standing fans should like.

The Centre Of The Heart: We open with a swell of more of that Euro-dance sound which popped up often on the previous album. It has its place, though I can’t take a lot of it in a single sitting. The chorus is catchy, I get that, but it gets on my tits by the second time around. I much prefer the verse – it’s simple and understated, though I don’t think we need the effects on the vocals. The ‘na na na na’ stuff post-chorus is also less annoying than the actual chorus. I’m all for the strings, but the drums are feeble – not enough depth or boom to make you want to dance. They want to stay in the pop realm without doubling down with the bass. I understand if people like this, but it’s average as far as their singles go.

Milk And Toast And Honey: Three things I like. A lullaby style introduction, or like the sound from opening one of those creepy jewelry boxes which has a ballet figurine twirling around inside. Lyrics aren’t the best, the rhymes seem forced. The melody is sweet, I like the extra line without the music accompaniment before the chorus. Was that a chorus? It was over before I actually typed the sentence. Yes, second time round it is a chrous. I’ve always felt Roxette is at their best when doing ballads – power or otherwise. This is a straight, innocent ballad though it doesn’t tug in the right places this time around. Matron.

Jefferson: A straight soft pop rock song of the type we expect by the band. I’ve no idea who Jefferson is, but I can see people singing along with the chorus. This is probably the most catchy (without being annoying) song so far, though I don’t think we could do with the piano following the melody in the bridge. Very simple, but not bad.

Little Girl: Squeaky synth stuff and piano and more weak drums. It’s another ballad so I automatically sort of enjoy the melody. The chorus isn’t great, Marie’s pushed vocal makes it better for a moment. The second verse and pre-chorus are a little jumbled and ruin the momentum. The rest of the song is a non-eventful bridge and more repeats of the chorus.

Looking For Jane: Another nice enough song – melodies are nice, vocals nice, music nice. It’s just very safe and doesn’t hit the heights of their best stuff. Again, fans will gobble it down. It’s not bad, just lacking the impetus and spark.

Bringing Me Down To My Knees: Another ballad. More Marie, so that’s a positive. Maybe if I’d heard all these, maybe if they had been made fifteen years earlier and been part of my childhood I would enjoy them more. There’s nothing wrong here, ignoring the fact that it’s all safe and simple. It’s a case of me being nowhere near the target audience for this sort of stuff and assuming that the fans will still enjoy it. I don’t see why they wouldn’t, but the band was once capable of more.

Make My Head Go Pop: Another up-tempo Euro-pop thing with Per vocals. As with the others it doesn’t have a big enough chorus, or edge, or thumping bass to appeal to the crowd who listens to this type of music – it’s Roxette’s lighter take on that type of music without really adding anything good to it. The little lullaby in the middle is a nice twist I guess, but it doesn’t lead to anything.

Try: Well, that is very Gina G of you. Back with Marie now. It’s slow. It promises to go somewhere but instead is content to remain in this dreamy aimless space.

Fool: Haven’t we heard this one already? No, it has trumpet or something, so that’s new. They’re all blending together now – no melody poking its head out of the ground, no moment grabbing my attention. That trumpet is very annoying.

It Takes You No Time To Get Here: A Per ballad now. This is sweet. His vocals get a little weird in the chorus. This feels like a Country song, thankfully without any Country shite. If I heard this on its own I’d maybe enjoy it a tad more, but these album listens are hard work and suck any of the goodness out of the good songs. A lot of the songs feel much longer than they are.

My World My Love My Life: Fade in. Crappy drums, good piano. I realise I’m repeating myself. I quite like this, at least the chorus melody has an air of sadness even though the lyrics seem positive. I’d add this to my playlist picks but it’s too similar to everything else that is there.

I know Roxette were never the most exciting band beyond a few hits in the 80s, but they did have a knack for making emotive pop. Now it all seems very boring. I do prefer this to the previous album – less focus on studio malarkey and more on making good songs. The songs still don’t end up being very good, but at least they don’t get on my nerves. It’s just pleasant background music for people who don’t really love music. It’s another album where I’ve already forgotten every song as I type this. There were some C grade hooks, none of it was bad – just meh. Forgettable. As memorable to me as any of the faces I pass each day – there for a second, gone for eternity, forgotten or barely registered. I actually liked a number of the songs but none of them reach A grade. They’re still nice enough that I wouldn’t take issue with hearing them again, but I imagine they wouldn’t last long on my playlist. Man, I need some metal after this.

Let me know, etc.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Jefferson. Milk And Toast And Honey. Looking For Jane. It Takes You No Time To Get Here.

Nightman Listens To – Martin Popoff’s Top 500 Metal Albums Of All Time!

Greetings, Glancers! Sigh. I know. You’re sick of all these music posts. I can’t help myself. I know they don’t make for the most interesting read, but I’m just not that interesting a person. I’ve spent swathes of my life trying to make myself look and seem as boring as possible but still the boatloads of supermodels keep dropping onto my shore and begging for me to squirt cream all over them. Sun cream, you dirty b’st’rd.

As I’ve mentioned plenty of times, when I listen to any of the Nightman Listens To albums I don’t take notes, or save a draft to update later with witty witticisms or funny… funnyisms… I simply listen and type at the same time, my fingers tap tapping whatever the first thing to come into my head happens to be. I’m putting the minimum effort into this stuff as possible. But I’ll try to make them more interesting. More funnyisms, more pics of cats, more… I don’t know what’s popular these days… racism? If you thought I jumped the shark with my quest to listen to every album released in 1966 I wanted to dive in to what I knew best:

csm_18_schrecken_und_lust_6c74f43317

Yep, heavy metal, the dirtiest two words in any music dictionary – even dirtier than ‘Idol’, ‘Factor’, or ‘lopsided sweat-flap’. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while because:

  1. I have always been a metal fan, since my 80s childhood
  2. I have no qualms both defending and ridiculing the genre, given that I have listened to so much of the stuff over the years I am qualified to do so
  3. There are large portions of metal I have either avoided or missed or just not heard, and I’m willing to give anything a chance – no point in yapping if you haven’t actually heard the stuff
  4. It gives me an excuse to listen to those albums I always meant to but never got around to

I was faffing around my laptop the other day and found one of my many ‘things to buy’ spreadsheets. In it was a list of books, so I was skimming down them to remind myself how drunk I was when I was writing it, and to see if I had actually read any of them yet. Near the bottom were three books by Martin Popoff – A Collectors Guide To Metal, Top 500 Metal Songs, and Top 500 Metal Albums. Who was this Popoff guy, and what the hell was he ‘Popping Off’ about? A quick Google revealed all, and plenty of people had helpfully transposed his choices into a nice list form without me having to go and buy the book. Maybe I still will, if it appears in one of those Bargain Book Shops, like Bargain Bookshops (though I think that has been bought over). A quick look down the Top Twenty assured me that I’d already heard most, if not all of them, so maybe this would not be such a difficult and time-consuming undertaking – maybe now was the accepted day of my (writing this post) Salvation?

So yeah, I’m going to listen to them all and comment on them. The usual rules apply – if I’ve heard it, I won’t cover it. If I’ve heard it but don’t really remember it, I will. If I think it’s going to come up in one of my existing series, I’ll probably leave it for that series. I’ll probably ridicule the album covers, because lets be frank they range from spectacular to ‘no, Mummy, why must I look at this horror’. I’m going to give a loose score to each with the criteria below:

1: Deserves to be on list/is good

2: Maybe deserves to be on list/I don’t care either way

3: Doesn’t deserve to be on list/is shite.

I’ll clarify the above in each review – some albums (I’m looking at you Hair Metal) will be shite, but will be mega-selling and probably influenced a tonne of imitators, so from a cultural standpoint probably deserve to be on the list. For example. Below, I’m going to list all 500 albums, and highlight the ones I’ve heard already – red means I won’t review, blue means I haven’t heard in ages, standard black means I haven’t heard. If there’s a link, it’s a link to some sort of review of the album.

If there are any metal fans out there, feel free to join in and share your favourites and your thoughts on the list. I believe Popoff pulled his information from a variety of other sources – I don’t believe the list is his personal choices. Also, it’s not a recent book, so many of the biggest releases of the last ten years are not here. Don’t go hunting him down if you don’t agree. Or me, because I’m bigger than you.

In almost every list of Best Metal Albums ever, you can almost always guess the Top Five, if not the Top Ten. It’s always the same albums, with the order slightly different. Check out the bottom of the post where I give some notes on the little discrepancies you may notice if you take the time to look through the list. Here we go:

  1. Metallica: Master Of Puppets: 1
  2. Iron Maiden: The Number Of The Beast: 1
  3. Slayer: Reign In Blood: 1
  4. Metallica: Ride The Lightning: 1
  5. AC/DC: Back In Black: 1
  6. Black Sabbath: Paranoid: 1
  7. Queensryche: Operation Mindcrime: 2
  8. Iron Maiden: Piece Of Mind: 1
  9. Van Halen: Van Halen: 
  10. Guns ‘n’ Roses: Appetite For Destruction: 1
  11. Megadeth: Rust In Peace: 1
  12. Judas Priest: Screaming For Vengeance
  13. Iron Maiden: Powerslave: 1
  14. Black Sabbath: Black Sabbath: 1
  15. Ozzy: Blizzard Of Ozz:
  16. Black Sabbath: Heaven And Hell
  17. Dio: Holy Diver: 1
  18. Metallica: Kill Em All: 1
  19. Metallica: And Justice For All: 1
  20. Pantera: Vulgar Display Of Power: 1
  21. Judas Priest: British Steel
  22. Motley Crue: Shout At The Devil
  23. AC/DC: Highway To Hell
  24. Deep Purple: Machine Head
  25. Black Sabbath: Master Of Reality
  26. Judas Priest: Painkiller
  27. Metallica: Metallica: 1
  28. Slayer: Seasons In The Abyss: 1
  29. Ozzy: Diary Of A Madman
  30. Led Zeppelin IV: 1
  31. Megadeth: Peace Sells… But Who’s Buying?: 1
  32. Iron Maiden: Killers: 3
  33. Black Sabbath: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
  34. Judas Priest: Sad Wings Of Destiny
  35. Mercyful Fate: Don’t Break The Oath
  36. Helloween: Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II: 1
  37. Accept: Restless And Wild
  38. Deep Purple: Deep Purple In Rock
  39. Rainbow: Rising
  40. Black Sabbath: Sabotage
  41. KISS: Alive!
  42. Judas Priest: Live In Japan
  43. Motorhead: Ace Of Spades: 1
  44. Slayer: South Of Heaven: 1
  45. Black Sabbath: Mob Rules
  46. Black Sabbath: Vol 4
  47. Dream Theater: Images And Words
  48. Led Zeppelin: Physical Graffiti: 1
  49. Anthrax: Among The Living
  50. Venom: Black Metal
  51. Judas Priest: Stained Class
  52. Alice In Chains: Dirt: 1
  53. Megadeth: Countdown To Extinction: 2
  54. King Diamond: Abigail
  55. Def Leppard: Pyromania: 3
  56. Iron Maiden: Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son: 1
  57. Slayer: Hell Awaits: 2
  58. Accept: Balls To The Wall
  59. Led Zeppelin 2: 1
  60. Pantera: Cowboys From Hell: 1
  61. Bruce Dickinson: The Chemical Wedding:
  62. Judas Priest: Defenders Of The Faith
  63. Iron Maiden: Iron Maiden: 3
  64. Kiss: Destroyer
  65. Metal Church: Metal Church
  66. Carcass: Heartwork
  67. Sepultura: Arise
  68. Twisted Sister: Still Hungry
  69. Mercyful Fate: Melissa
  70. Iron Maiden: Somewhere In Time: 1
  71. Aerosmith: Rocks
  72. Bruce Dickinson: Accident Of Birth
  73. Dio: The Last In Line
  74. Pantera: Far Beyond Driven: 1
  75. Rush: Moving Pictures
  76. Riot: Fire Down Under
  77. Exodus: Bonded By Blood: 1
  78. Scorpions: Blackout
  79. Judas Priest: Killing Machine
  80. Led Zep 1: 1
  81. Fear Factory: Demanufacture
  82. Aerosmith: Toys In The Attic: 1
  83. Black Sabbath: Born Again
  84. Rainbow: Long Live Rock And Roll
  85. WASP: WASP
  86. Nevermore: Dead Heart In A Dead World
  87. Iron Maiden: Live After Death: 1
  88. Deep Purple: Made In Japan
  89. Helloween: Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part 1: 1
  90. Motley Crue: Too Fast For Love
  91. UFO: Strangers In The Night
  92. Queensryche: Empire
  93. Deep Purple: Burn
  94. Sepultura: Chaos AD
  95. Faith No More: The Real Thing: 1
  96. AC/DC: Powerage
  97. Savatage: Hall Of The Mountain King
  98. Blind Guardian: Nightfall In Middle Earth: 2
  99. Rush: 2112
  100. SOD: Speak English Or Die
  101. Yngwie Malmsteen: Rising Force
  102. Montrose: Montrose
  103. Soundgarden: Badmotorfinger: 2
  104. Anthrax: Sound Of White Noise
  105. Celtic Frost: Morbid Tales
  106. Emperor: Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk
  107. Celtic Frost: To Mega Therion: 1
  108. Queensryche: Rage For Order
  109. Alice Cooper: Billion Dollar Babies: 1
  110. Possessed: Seven Churches
  111. King Diamond: Them
  112. At The Gates: Slaughter Of The Soul
  113. Skid Row: Slave To The Grind
  114. Nirvana: Nevermind: 1
  115. Scorpions: Love At First Sting
  116. Whitesnake: Whitesnake
  117. AC/DC: Let There Be Rock
  118. Ratt: Out Of The Cellar
  119. Celtic Frost: Into The Pandemonium
  120. Morbid Angel: Altars of Madness
  121. Kiss: Kiss
  122. Thin Lizzy: Jailbreak
  123. Anthrax: Spreading The Disease
  124. Van Halen: Van Halen 2
  125. Annihilator: Alice In Hell: 1
  126. Motorhead: Overkill
  127. Slayer: Show No Mercy: 3
  128. Tool: Aenima
  129. Iron Maiden: Brave New Blood: 1
  130. Motorhead: No Sleep Til Hammersmith: 1
  131. Manowar; Kings Of Metal
  132. Testament: The New Prder
  133. Quiet Riot: Metal Health
  134. Led Zep 3: 1
  135. Rush: Hemispheres
  136. Amorphis: Tales From The Thousand Lakes
  137. Rage Against The Machine: Rage Against The Machine :1
  138. Deep Purple: Perfect Strangers
  139. Testament: The Gathering
  140. Scorpions: Lovedrive
  141. Angel Witch: Angel Witch
  142. Helloween: Walls Of Jericho
  143. Machinehead: Burn My Eyes
  144. Ozzy: No More Tears
  145. Nevermore: Dreaming Neon Black
  146. Led Zep: Houses Of The Holy: 2
  147. Testament: Practice What You Preach
  148. Ozzy/Randy: Tribute
  149. Pantera: The Great Southern Trendkill
  150. AC/DC: High Voltage
  151. Van Halen: 1984
  152. Type O Negative: October Rust
  153. Emperor: In The Nightside Eclipse
  154. Def Leppard: Hysteria: 2
  155. Strapping Young Lad: City
  156. Death: Human
  157. KISS: Creatures Of The Night
  158. Van Halen: Fair Warning
  159. Helloween: Better Than Raw
  160. Dream Theater: Metropolis Pt 2
  161. Judas Priest: Sin After Sin
  162. Slipknot: Slipknot: 3
  163. Blind Guardian: Imaginations From The Other Side: 1
  164. Uriah Heep: Demons And Wizards
  165. Bon Jovi: Slippery When Wet: 1
  166. Type O Negative: Bloody Kisses
  167. Iced Earth: Something Wicked This Way Comes
  168. Tool: Undertow
  169. Candlemass: Epicus Doomicus Metallicus
  170. Sepultura: Roots: 1
  171. Halford: Resurrection
  172. Skid Row: Skid Row:
  173. Pearl Jam: Ten: 1
  174. Accept: Metal Heart
  175. Danzig: Danzig
  176. Alice In Chains: Facelift: 1
  177. Queen: A Night At The Opera: 2
  178. Fates Warning: Awaken The Guardian
  179. Korn: Korn
  180. Badlands: Badlands
  181. Faith No More: Angel Dust
  182. Saxon: Strong Arm Of The Law
  183. Soundgarden: Superunknown: 1
  184. Testament: The Legacy
  185. Death: Scream Bloody Gore
  186. Dokken: Tooth And Nail
  187. Gamma Ray: Land Of The Free
  188. Death: Symbolic
  189. Alice Cooper: Love It To Death: 1
  190. Mayhem: De mysteriis dom Sathanas
  191. Corrosion Of Conformity: Deliverance
  192. Queensryche: The Warning
  193. Rush: A Farewell To Kings
  194. Blue Oyster Cult: Agents Of Fortune
  195. White Zombie: La Sexorcisto
  196. Therion: Theli
  197. Thin Lizzy: Thunder And Lightning
  198. Motorhead: No Remorse: 3
  199. Uriah Heep: Look At Yourself
  200. Death: Leprosy
  201. Megadeth: So Far So Good So What: 2
  202. Overkill: The Years Of Decay
  203. Down: NOLA
  204. Testament Low
  205. Carcass: Necroticism
  206. Crimson Glory: Transcendence
  207. Manowar: The Triumph Of Steel
  208. Tesla: Mechanical Resonance
  209. Blue Oyster Cult: Secret Treaties
  210. White Zombie: Astro Creep
  211. In Flames: Clayman
  212. Ozzy:  Bark At The Moon
  213. Saxon: Power & The Glory
  214. Bathory: Under The Sign Of The Black Mark
  215. Def Leppard: High ‘n’ Dry
  216. Kreator: Pleasure To Kill
  217. Dissection: Storm Of The Light’s Bane
  218. Stratovarious: Visions
  219. Thin Lizzy: Live And Dangerous
  220. Opeth: Still Life: 1
  221. Morbid Angel: Blessed Are The Sick
  222. Sepultura: Beneath The Remains
  223. Voivod: Nothingface
  224. Black Sabbath: Dehumanizer
  225. Guns N Roses: Use Your Illusion 2: 1
  226. Manowar: Hail To England
  227. Savatage: Streets A Rock Opera
  228. Death: Individual Thought Patterns
  229. Dokken: Under Lock And Key
  230. Fear Factory: Obsolete
  231. Dream Theater: Awake
  232. Paradise Lost: Gothic
  233. Black Sabbath: We Sold Our Soul For Rock And Roll
  234. In Flames: The Jester Race
  235. Motley Crue: Dr Feelgood
  236. Savatage: Gutter Ballet
  237. Iron Maiden: Fear Of The Dark: 3
  238. Alice Cooper: Welcome To My Nightmare: 1
  239. Entombed: Wolverine Blues
  240. Slayer: Divine Intervention: 2
  241. Whitesnake: Slide It In
  242. Megadeth: Youthanasia: 3
  243. KISS: Dressed To Kill
  244. Opeth: Blackwater Park: 1
  245. Rising Force: Marching Out
  246. Dimmu Borgir: Spiritual Black Dimensions
  247. Armoured Saint: Symbol Of Salvation
  248. Cradle Of Filth: Cruelty And The Beast
  249. Krokus: Headhunter
  250. Manowar: Into Glory Ride
  251. AC/DC: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
  252. Angra: Angels Cry
  253. Iced Earth: Horror Show
  254. Jag Panzer: Ample Destruction
  255. Van Halen: Women And Children First
  256. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? 1
  257. Motorhead: Another Perfect Day
  258. Deicide: Deicide
  259. Morbid Angel: Covenant
  260. Candlemass: Nightfall
  261. Dark Angel: Darkness Descends
  262. Trouble: Manic Frustration
  263. Destruction: Infernal Overkill
  264. Iced Earth: The Dark Saga
  265. Saxon: Denim And Leather
  266. Entombed: 666
  267. Savatage: Edge Of Thorns
  268. KISS: Alive II
  269. Trouble: Trouble
  270. AC/DC: For Those About To Rock
  271. Cradle Of Filth: Dusk And Her Embrace
  272. Queen: Queen
  273. Saxon: Wheels Of Steel
  274. King Diamond Conspiracy
  275. Dimmu Borgir: Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia
  276. Dimmu Borgir: Entrone Darkness Triumphant
  277. Cradle Of Filth: Midian
  278. Ted Nugent: Cat Scratch Fever
  279. Danzig: Danzig II
  280. Judas Priest: Point Of Entry
  281. Samael: Ceremony Of Opposites
  282. Diamond Head: Lightning To The Nations
  283. Anthrax: Persistence Of Time
  284. Cannibal Corpse: The Bleeding
  285. Hammerfall: Glory To The Brave
  286. Michael Schenker Group: Assault Attack
  287. Ozzy: No Rest For The Wicked
  288. Entombed: Left Hand Path
  289. The Cult: Electric
  290. Savatage: Sirens
  291. Voivod: Dimension Hatross
  292. KISS: Hotter Than Hell
  293. Malmsteen: Trilogy
  294. Deep Purple: Purpendicular
  295. Manowar: Battle Hymns
  296. Slayer: God Hates Us All: 2
  297. Paradise Lost: Icon
  298. UFO: Lights Out
  299. Van Halen: 5150
  300. In Flames: Whoracle
  301. Alice Cooper: Killer: 1
  302. Entombed: Clandestine
  303. Overkill: Taking Over
  304. Megadeth: Killing Is My Business And Business Is Good: 2
  305. In Flames: Colony
  306. Pantera: Reinventing The Steel
  307. Overkill: Horrorscope
  308. Venom: Welcome To Hell
  309. Ministry: Psalm 69
  310. Moonspell: Wolfheart
  311. Motorhead: Orgasmatron
  312. Savatage: Power Of The Night
  313. Fastway: Fastway
  314. The Gathering: Nighttime Birds: 2
  315. The Gathering: Mandylion: 1
  316. Judas Priest: Turbo
  317. Hammerfall: Legacy Of Kings
  318. Kyuss: Blues For The Red Sun
  319. Thin Lizzy: Johnny The Fox
  320. Dark Tranquility: The Gallery
  321. Twisted Sister: Under The Blade
  322. Judas Priest: Jugulator
  323. Queen: Sheer Heart Attack
  324. King’s X: Gretchen Goes To Nebraska
  325. Amorphis: Elegy
  326. Godsmack: Godsmack
  327. Scorpions: Taken By Force
  328. Death Angel: Act 3
  329. Fight: War Of Words
  330. Rhapsody: Symphony Of Enchanted Lands
  331. Destruction: Eternal Devastation
  332. Paradise Lost: Draconian Times
  333. Armoured Saint: Delirious Nomad
  334. Boston: Boston
  335. Corrosion Of Conformity: Wiseblood
  336. Testament: Souls Of Black
  337. Tygers Of Pan Tang: Spellbound
  338. Metal Church: The Dark
  339. WASP: The Crimson Idol
  340. Dokken: Back For The Attack
  341. Kreator: Extreme Agression
  342. Suffocation: Effigy Of The Forgotten
  343. Anthrax: Fistful Of Metal
  344. Black Sabbath: Technical Ecstasy
  345. Extreme: II Pornograffitti
  346. Kyuss: Kyuss
  347. Metal Church: Blessing In Disguise
  348. Motorhead: Iron Fist
  349. Scorpions: Animal Magnetism
  350. Exodus: Fabulous Disaster
  351. My Dying Bride: Turn Loose The Swans: 1
  352. Dio: Dream Evil
  353. Nine Inch Nails: Pretty Hate Machine
  354. WASP: The Headless Children
  355. Nevermore: The Politics Of Ecstasy
  356. UFO: Obsession
  357. King’s X: Dogman
  358. KISS: Revenge
  359. WASP: The Last Command
  360. Bathory: Blood Fire Death
  361. Black Label Society: Stronger Than Death
  362. Meshuggah: Destroy Erase Improve
  363. Rush: Rush
  364. System Of A Down: Toxicity: 1
  365. Voivod: Killing Technology
  366. The Cult: Sonic Temple
  367. Opeth: My Arms Your Hearse: 2
  368. Raven: All For One
  369. Aerosmith: Get Your Wings
  370. Death Angel: The Ultra Violence: 2
  371. Trouble: Psalm 9: 1
  372. Queen: News Of The World
  373. Twisted Sister: You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll
  374. Prong: Cleansing
  375. Emperor: IX Equilibrium
  376. Korn: Follow The Leader
  377. Ratt: Invasion Of Your Privacy
  378. Vai: Sex And Religion
  379. Manowar: Fighting The World
  380. KISS: Love Gun
  381. Neurosis: Through Silver In Blood
  382. Rhapsody: Legendary Tales
  383. Cinderella: Night Songs
  384. Sentenced: Down
  385. Anvil: Metal On Metal
  386. Carcass: Symphonies Of Sickness
  387. Budgie: Budgie
  388. Alice Cooper: School’s Out: 2
  389. King Diamond: Voodoo
  390. Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile
  391. Queen: Queen II
  392. Scorpions: Virgin Killer
  393. Tiamat: Wild Honey
  394. KISS: Rock And Roll Over
  395. Motorhead: Motorhead
  396. Rhapsody: Dawn Of Victory
  397. Grim Reaper: See You In Hell
  398. Savatage: The Wake Of Magellan
  399. Saigon Kick: The Lizard
  400. Edge Of Sanity: Crimson
  401. Rainbow: On Stage
  402. My Dying Bride: The Angel And The Dark River
  403. Opeth: Morningrise: 2
  404. Cream: Disraeli Gears
  405. Sex Pistols: Nevermind The Bollocks: 1
  406. Warlock: Triumph And Agony
  407. Death: The Sound Of Perseverance
  408. Judas Priest: Live
  409. Nightwish: Oceanborn: 1
  410. Primal Fear: Jaws Of Death
  411. Cinderella: Long Cold Winter
  412. Motorhead: Bomber
  413. UFO: Force It
  414. GnR: Use Your Illusion 1: 1
  415. Tesla: The Great Radio Controversy
  416. Children Of Bodom: Hatebreeder
  417. Exciter: Violence And Force
  418. Stratovarious: Episode
  419. Faster Pussycat: Faster Pussycat
  420. Kreator: Coma Of Souls
  421. Life Of Agony: River Runs Red
  422. Monster Magnet: Powertrip
  423. Tool: Lateralus: 1
  424. Angra: Holy Land
  425. Motley Crue: Theatre Of Pain
  426. Fates Warning: No Exit
  427. Metallica: S&M: 3
  428. Suicidal Tendencies: How Will I Laugh Tomorrow When I Can’t Even Smile Today
  429. Black Sabbath: Headless Cross
  430. Nirvana: In Utero: 1
  431. AC/DC: The Razor’s Edge
  432. Carcass: Swansong
  433. Flotsam And Jetsam: Doomsday For The Deceiver
  434. Vanderberg: Vandenberg
  435. Aerosmith: Pump: 1
  436. Nazareth: Hair Of The Dog
  437. Sanctuary: Into The Mirror Black
  438. Voivod: War And Pain
  439. Rush: Fly By Night
  440. Cathedral: The Carnival Bizarre
  441. Deep Purple: Fireball
  442. Poison: Look What The Cat Dragged In
  443. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Axis Bold As Love: 2
  444. King Diamond: The Eye
  445. Coroner: Mental Vortex
  446. Stone Temple Pilots: Core: 2
  447. Symphony X: The Divine Wings Of Tragedy
  448. AC/DC: If You Want Blood
  449. Aerosmith: Get A Grip: 2
  450. Black Sabbath: Live Evil
  451. Blue Oyster Cult: Fire Of Unknown Origin
  452. Ace Frehley: Ace Frehley
  453. Riot: Thundersteel
  454. Dio: Strange Highways;
  455. Uriah Heep: Sweet Freedom
  456. Helmet: Meantime
  457. KISS: Lick It Up
  458. Ted Nugent: Free For All
  459. Autopsy: Severed Survival
  460. Mercyful Fate: 9
  461. Scorpions: Tokyo Tapes
  462. Avantasia: The Metal Opera
  463. Def Leppard: On Through The Night
  464. Europe: The Final Countdown
  465. Rush: Permanent Waves
  466. Disturbed: The Sickness
  467. Dream Theater: When Dream And Day Unite
  468. Armoured Saint: March Of The Saint
  469. Motorhead: 1916
  470. Witchfinder General: Death Penalty
  471. The Dillinger Escape Plan: Calculating Infinity
  472. Exciter: Heavy Metal Maniac
  473. Jethro Tull: Aqualung
  474. The Who: Live At Leeds: 1
  475. Blue Oyster Cult: Blue Oyster Cult
  476. Fates Warning: Parallels
  477. Van Halen: Balance
  478. Kick Axe: Vices
  479. Steve Vai: Passion And Warfare
  480. Witchery: Restless And Dead
  481. Bad Brains: I Against I
  482. Accept: Russian Roulette
  483. Marilyn Manson: Mechanical Animals
  484. Budgie: Bandolier
  485. Love/Hate: Blackout In The Red Room
  486. Sweet: Desolation Boulevard
  487. Rainbow: Down To Earth
  488. Nine Inch Nails: The Downward Spiral
  489. Ted Nugent: Double Live Gonzo
  490. Amorphis: Tuonela
  491. Metal Church: The Human Factor
  492. Rush: Signals
  493. Nightwish: Wishmaster: 2
  494. Raven: Wiped Out
  495. Cheap Trick: Cheap Trick
  496. Nirvana: Bleach: 2
  497. Riot: Narita
  498. Holocaust: The Nightcomers
  499. Savage: Loose And Lethal
  500. Y&T: Black And Tiger

First, some basic clarifications; I’m going by memory here, and like most things built in The UK, my memory is faulty. Some of the albums I’ve highlighted in blue (meaning I’ve heard bits of it) maybe should be red (meaning I’ve heard it all and don’t need to again) but I just can’t remember, and some should be black (meaning I haven’t heard it at all) and that I may be mixing one album up with the next. I know I’ve heard some Overkill and Kreator and Savatage albums, I just can’t remember which songs are on which album off the top of my head. Next, for the majority of those albums left in black, I’ve probably heard one song from each. For the vast majority, I’ll have heard multiple songs by the artist, but won’t know which album they’re from – basically, just because it’s black doesn’t mean I know nothing about it. There are however, quite a few albums I’ve never heard of and likely haven’t heard songs from – Dissection’s Storm Of The Light’s Bane for example.

Now for the slightly more detailed annotations – I’ll go into even more detail when I come to actually listening and reviewing each – this post is stupidly long already, even by my gargantuan standards. Operation Mindcrime is an album I would have heard a lot when I was much younger – I liked parts of it. I’m aware it’s heralded by many critics so if it’s your cup of tea then by all means give it a 1. Because it’s been so long, I’m listening to it again to see what I remember and if my score changes. The same goes for most of the Ozzy Sabbath albums – by name and virtue alone they deserve to be on the list, but I’ve always had a hit and miss relationship with the band – their first album I’ve given a 1 because it has a few great songs and was basically the first true metal album. I’m going to listen to it again because when it comes to Sabbath I tend to take the 2-3 songs I like from each album and ignore the rest.

Holy Diver and Vulgar Display Of Power again I listened to a lot when I was a kid, and not much since. Those I loved at the time and I’m aware of their significance, but I want to listen again to see how I feel about them now. Same applies to Peace Sells, Ace Of Spades, and Pyromania. And Cowboys From Hell. The two Dickinson albums I’m already going to listen to as part of my Maiden series. Bonded By Blood and Toys In The Attic – again time has past and I want to re-evaluate. The two Keeper Of The Seven Keys albums again are from my youth – it’s reached the point now where I don’t really remember the difference between them, except that I recall liking Part 2 more. The Real Thing is a case of not remembering which songs are on it versus Faith No More’s other albums. Same with the next two Celtic Frost albums, though I know To Mega Therion is a favourite of many people I know/used to hang around with.

No Sleep Till Hammersmith and Rage’s first album I’ve heard most of, not all, but know they are called classics. Def Leppard’s stuff in general I’ve never liked, beyond when I was about 8 and singing their hits, but I’ll give it all another go. Slipknot’s debut I haven’t heard all of, but I’ve not liked what I’ve heard and they just seemed like another cookie cutter Nu Metal band for angry little boys. Again, I’ll give it a go. Sepultura’s stuff I listened to a lot as a kid, but not sure where the songs fall and I don’t remember listening to a full album – maybe Roots. I’m not going to go through the rest of the list – if anything looks weird, it’s probably a similar reason to something in the above two paragraphs.

For any naysayers, and anyone who’s still reading but doesn’t know much about Metal – remember, this isn’t my list, or my choices. There are quite a few bands here who are completely over represented and there are a lot of albums I wouldn’t dream of including. I’m sure you’re the same. I wouldn’t have so many live albums and absolutely no greatest hits. For the uninitiated, Metal fans love nothing more than bitching and moaning about what is and isn’t Metal, where it started, what’s good, what’s not etc. I won’t get into that much here, other than to say Metal is at its simplest a sub genre or extension of Rock. Sometimes it’s louder, sometimes it’s faster, sometimes the subject matter and delivery is darker and more vicious. To me, Metal has also always been about attitude, sometimes moreso than music. To me, The Holy Bible by The Manic Street Preachers is one of the greatest Metal albums of all time – most Metal fans wouldn’t call it Metal, but it is much darker, and angrier, and honest than most Metal albums. To me, Eminem is more Metal than most of what came out of the US in the 80s – his technical ability and brutality far outweighing the pop with guitars and faux attitude of Sunset Strip’s posers. In other words, Metal is a very broad umbrella and everyone has their own take on it.

The list covers bands such as Led Zep and Queen – purists might object because they have never been ‘Metal’, but were instead building some of the foundations of what would become Metal. It contains a lot of grunge (not so much punk) which your traditional Metal fan won’t like, mainly because grunge took one look at the painted celebrities of 80s Metal and recognised them for what they were – ABBA with guitar solos. Grunge bands brought Metal out of the stadiums and back into the bedrooms and cellars where kids rightfully pissed off at the world could channel their own anguish and rage. Of course it ended up back in the stadiums. There’s an awful lot of, for lack of a better term ‘cheesy shite’ – Manowar, Saxton, KISS, Dokken, Scorpions and the like, but those acts ranged from cult to massive so you can’t really ignore them. You have your early and big hitter Death and Black metal bands – two genres I could never take very seriously, but there’s a more distinct lack of female fronted bands and later sub-genres from folk to epic to viking and whatever other crap there is now. There should be something for everyone.

So if you are new to Metal or an expert looking to dip their toes into a few unknown territories, why not join me on this epic quest? For anyone new to Metal, I’d recommend you go listen to the ones I’ve highlighted in red first if you haven’t already – those are among the most popular and best the genre has to offer, and have less of the extreme edges you probably think of when someones mentions the type of music. Even better, go back to the earlier roots and heavier rock albums of the 70s  – Led Zep, The Who, Alice Cooper, The Sex Pistols, Pink Floyd – each of those and more had their own distinct influence on Metal but are a more gentle introduction. They’ll get you into the groove, the attitude, the style of playing, and will ease you in rather than getting your face ripped off by the opening twelve seconds of Angel Of Death. I can’t say when I’ll start this quest – at time of writing it’s 3rd July 2019 and I haven’t even posted my 1966 balls yet. I’ll get to it some day, hopefully starting by the end of this year (Nightman – Feb 2020 – Ha!). So yeah, listen along, chime in with your comments, and let me know what you think.

Nightman Listens To – Bon Jovi – The Circle!

Greetings, Glancers! Can you taste it? Can you feel it? We’re almost there, almost at the end of our Bon Jovi adventure. Of course, I could have listened to all the albums and posted about them in a matter of weeks rather than dragging it out for years, but I prefer to be languid in all things. The band’s 11th album was released in 2009 and was promised to be a return to their big chorus rock roots, rather than the more Country inspired 10th album. If you read my post on Lost Highway, you’ll know that I didn’t find it (thankfully) overly Country. So naturally, this album is probably going to be filled with fiddles. Looking at the twelve tracks there isn’t a single one I recognise, so this should be an entirely new experience.

We Weren’t Born To Follow: Opens promisingly enough, with a driving MOR beat. Inspiring lyrics. Good enough chorus with some ‘yeah yeah’ stuff which the crowd will lap up. Verses okay too. Doesn’t break any new ground and could be something they’d written twenty years earlier. A safe fan-pleasing start.

When We Were Beautiful: With a name like that, it’s bound to be a ballad. Musically it starts out that way, a lone guitar plucking a simple two note riff. Lyrically, it doesn’t seem like a love song at the outset, more a song of desperation. A threat of a surge of chords comes. Then it aims at being an inspirational epic rather than a ballad, with growing beats and additional layers. It’s a little too melodically simplistic to get there, so far. The vocals at times sound very heavily edited. At least they’ve taken care to make something distinct. It’s a song which grows towards a peak which never comes – the chorus is less of an explosion, more of a nice long arm stretch when you’ve been sitting for an hour.

Work For The Working Man: Wait a minute, that riff sounds like You Gave Love A Bad Name, but modified ever so minutely. More lyrics about living instead of dying – see more on this later – verses a little aimless. Chorus feels like one we’ve heard before and the shouts of ‘work’ in the background… I understand what they’re going for but it comes off as cheesy, as many of these things do when Bon Jovi tries them. People who don’t know any better or care will still chant and fist pump to it. The way he sings ‘man’ in the chorus – as ‘maeehhhhhheeen’ is not good.

Superman: A lone guitar and a single note this time. Wafting and light. Better verse melodies, a classic Jovi style pre-chorus, and a big classic Jovi style chorus. Much better, just lacking a bit of that youthful urgency which most artists lose as they age. The bridge isn’t the best, but doesn’t take much of the charm from the whole.

Bullet: There’s the mouth box. This is another song where it feels like they’ve cherry picked from their greatest hits and done some revisionist re-constructional surgery. This one is clearly Keep The Faith churned and made anew. Merged with It’s My Life. It’s not as good as either of those. The chorus is pretty good, and they play around with their usual structure with all of these cut and paste antics.

Thorn In My Side: Good start. I half expected this to be a cover. They try to be more urgent here – it’s a fun song which could have been a single if it had been written and recorded in the 80s. I like the verse melodies and guitar parts – very simple but that usually all you need as long as the emotion and idea are solid. Chorus isn’t bad – I can see others liking it more than I do. This one retcons Born To Be My Baby.

Live Before You Die: Based on name only I expected this one to be a revision of Living On A Prayer. But no, it begins with piano and vocals only. An introspective, nostalgic, sweet song which is meant to be inspirational – doesn’t quite match the message with the melody. Some violins in the background. The bridge tries to go full emotion/full heart-string tugging and is somewhere between a noble effort and a cheesy failure. This one fans will absolutely love, just misses something for me.

Brokenpromiseland: Fades in with promise, the ‘woo oohs’ take the promise away, then the verse gets better. Not their usual sound, sound more like a British Indie band in the guitar approach. This one’s pretty good too actually – now that I’ve worked out what it reminds me of – Cessation by The Music, of all things. It’s slower and not as potent as that song, but it’s similar enough while being more gentle and having a more commercial melodic approach. More strings too.

Love’s The Only Rule: Yikes, this one I was about to say also sounds like The Music, but then it stopped. Still, that riff sort of had that dance rock vibe. Verses are fine, pre chorus is better, and the chorus is better again – the formula a band like Bon Jovi should be following. The spoken vocal piece is silly and reminds us the band will never lose that cheese-tag.

Fast Cars: Feels like a weaker song, or a mid-album track too many. Still not bad, just the idea of the lyrics and the metaphor is silly. Melodies are a mixture of twenty other Bon Jovi songs. Fans will enjoy it, but it’s not great.

Happy Now: Drum building. Another simple, few-noted riff. The verses aren’t worth much, but the pre-chorus and chorus swell nicely into an emotive whole. The vocals are more strained than in the good old days and you wonder what it could have sounded like with a younger Jon giving it a crack. The emotion is there, the melody is there, that’s all I need to get started.

Learn To Love: Strummed acoustic and single piano soft notes. More inspirational stuff for people who need it. It’s very nice – somewhere between the dreaded Coldplay, and U2, done Bon Jovi style. Very good chorus and a strong ending to a pretty good album.

It’s another album which was better than I was expecting. They shouldn’t really be this consistent this deep into their career, so a lot of credit should go to them for keeping things going at a certain quality. Of course, they’re not doing anything amazing, not reinventing themselves anymore, and if anything on this album they decided that safe was best and simply took certain pieces of their most famous songs, added a few new words and twists and slapped them together into something new. They’re not getting better with age, but after a few blips, they’re not getting noticeably worse.

Lyrically it’s the same old subjects – love, memory, working hard, freedom. Musically – well you know it’s them. On a good day I might say this was one of their best, most consistent albums – just Jon’s vocals aren’t quite so searing as they once were and 11 albums in it’s more difficult to distinguish the more average songs from the rest. I see no reason why existing fans wouldn’t absolutely adore this and there’s a few songs which could intrigue enough listens to explore their back catalogue.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: We Weren’t Born To Follow. Superman. Bullet. Thorn In My Side. Brokenpromiseland. Love’s The Only Rule. Happy Now. Learn To Love.

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – Confessions On The Dancefloor!

Greetings, Glancers! So, I’ve been dreading this one. Based on the title alone, and the album cover, and the song I know from it, and the other information I have on the album – namely that it’s very dance heavy – all adds up to make me wary of it. I don’t generally do dance music, unless it’s clever or exceptional. Most dance music to me has always been repetitive, brain dead garbage. I have not interest in listening to music for dancing or moving in any way, shape, or form. I want emotion from music or creativity or quality or technical ability, and I almost never get that from dance music. The only confession I would ever give on the dancefloor would be that I despise everyone around me. Having said that, Madonna has been successful before in merging music you can dance to with feeling and quality. If anyone can do it, she can.

Hung Up: This is the one I know – I remember ridiculing it quite a bit when it came out and annoying some of my Madonna superfan friends by proclaiming that she hadn’t been relevant since Ray Of Light. Come to think of it, I don’t really see those friends anymore. Was it something I said? To give it its due credit, that main refrain is stupidly catchy – the vocals and the musical piece both standalone and work together. It’s just that it was so overplayed at the time that I can’t separate my feelings about it and the idiots who played it constantly from how good or bad it actually is. On the plus side it feels like Blondie and it isn’t completely dumb – it isn’t hampered by novelty studio sounds which would date it or piss me off. The verses aren’t bad, same goes for the bridge. If I was only hearing this song for the first time I would probably have a better opinion of it, but it still has that stench of over-saturation around it.

Get Together: This begins pretty much from where the last one let off, and expands itself in an encouraging way. It’s clearly in the realms of dance but not so far gone to keep me at a distance. Once the verse comes through I remember hearing this. I don’t recall where I heard this, presumably at some clubs or on radios. I don’t even remember if I knew this was Madonna at the time. It didn’t have that much of an impact on me. I like it well enough – I wouldn’t go out of my way to put it on, but I wouldn’t turn it off the second I heard it. I wouldn’t call this a nice surprise per say, given that I’ve heard it before, but I had forgotten all about it, so it’s a nice reminder.

Sorry: Again this merges with the previous track, opening with a swell of strings and some French words. Then the underswelling of dance stuff begins to grow and again I remember this one. I’m not sure how I forgot this one as it was pretty huge too. You still hear it now. It’s another stupidly catchy chorus, and the verses aren’t bad either. Maybe enough time has passed now that this and the last song aren’t as annoying to me now as they were then – unlike the opener. It’s another good song, and not the sort of thing I usually listen to. A very consistent album so far, in terms of quality and sound and theme. The middle could have had 30 seconds shaved off as it begins to become too repetitive, though I get this is meant to be an album to dance and lose yourself to so you have to allow for some repetition.

Future Lovers: It goes without saying that this merges with the last. That helps with the consistency and making the whole thing feel like a journey or one big orgiastic trip. I can see people getting off their tits and putting the whole record on in a single take like the hippies would have done with DSOTM. The Blondie feel is there too. I was worrying this was all going to be spoken, but it’s just an extended intro for 90 seconds. It feels pretty familiar, but I don’t think I would have ever heard this. Decent enough melodies and there’s a cyclical nature to it all which aids in the trance-like tone of the whole. The most experimental track so far, but also the one which would benefit most from being cut a little.

I Love New York: You know the drill. This one has the feeling of rocking out onto the dancefloor, or maybe walking out of the club and heading down the street with all the smells and sights and sounds of city night in the air. Who knows. When I listen to stuff I get transported to imagined places. The lyrics are a little crappy. It’s an ode to New York, but the words are very juvenile – basic rhyming for kids. It’s not great and I’m probably enjoying it more because it’s shiny and new to me. Inconsequential, but fine.

Let It Will Be: You should by now that I love a string section in pop/rock music. That’s how this one starts. When it comes to dance music, I prefer the lower, darker, pulsating stuff over shouty, high-paced stuff. This ticks both those boxes, while also producing a tidy, repetitive melody. Madonna is singing about fame again, though I’m not paying much attention to the lyrics first time around. As I’m such a big lyrics guy, I should probably watch the lyrics videos when I’m listening for these posts. This is a better than average album track – it doesn’t go far enough in terms of melody or emotion to knock it into the upper echelons of her music, but it’s still better than I was expecting when I saw this album was up next in my journey.

Forbidden Love: Another point about me and dance music – I really only appreciate that type of music if it’s something I can enjoy listening to on its own merits – not in a club, not as a means to throw yourself around in some strange mating ritual. Dance music made only to make you dance is useless to me. Again, this song and album is more or less striking the balance. I could see myself, or at least my younger self dancing to this, and I can enjoy listening to it too. The consistency strikes once more – the tone, energy, feeling, melody, atmosphere staying true from song to song. I could do without the effects on the vocals, but it’s not as bad as some. It’s great that Madonna is still able to concoct melodies which speak to me after all this time.

Jump: A nice countdown from the last track into this. You know I don’t like spoken parts in songs, and Madonna’s lower tone vocals usually don’t work for me. They’re fine here. Actually, I may have heard this before, it sounds familiar, unless it’s similar to an older song. Pretty sure I have heard that chorus before, maybe it was used in some movie or TV show. The lyrics seem to be about sisterhood/family and not being afraid to take chances – basic inspirational stuff. Another ‘almost good song’, like B minus territory for me.

How High: Digital sounds and beats and synth voices. A growing beat. Robots on the march. Interesting vocal choices. I assume she’s singing about herself and the sacrifices made in the pursuit and achieving of fame. Then it all goes a bit existential. Melodies are okay for simple pop, but they’re bolstered by all of the studio trickery going on around them. More like a C grade song. She mentions how people bitch about her – that’s always going to be one price of fame, but I’d wager many more people love her than hate her. I bitch about her too, but only when she’s rubbish. She’s made a career out of being awesome, so why should she give a shit.

Isaac: Looks like a long one. Oh no. I’ve never liked that Asian/Arabic/Hebrew type of singing. I’m not sure why, it’s always felt, well, like crap to me. The beat builds and the verse starts so lets hope that Asian stuff doesn’t come back. Verses are good. Oh no, the crap is back for the chorus. I assume this is meant to add some sort of mysticism or oriental feel to the song, but it loses me. It sounds like a guy forcing out a particularly cumbersome turd while a wasp enters his eye socket. Everything else in the song is good – not great, not up to the standards of her experiments on Ray Of Light, but at least approaching that quality. For a six minute song, there isn’t much to it.

Push: There are the remnants of the oriental stuff here in terms of the drum and the rhythm – there’s that consistency again. It’s among the slower songs on the album. The music is very clipped – it surges in and withdraws like a suction cup. The vocal refrain goes on and on and over and over and the song barely changes over it’s four minutes. There’s a better song here, or at least parts of this could have been used to create a better song, with all the rest abandoned.

Like It Or Not: Lets hope we can close with a banger. It’s off to a good start with a swell of strings and some, dare I say it, Iron Maiden-esque riff melody. Then the beat drops and I wonder why the hell they would do that. The music and melody surrounding the beat do their best to make me ignore how silly the drum sound is. It’s all quite slow paced. There are still parts I like – the building of the pre-chorus and some of the guitar and string pieces. The chorus melody is almost something I like – not something I dislike, adding up to another high C grade song.

Overall another pleasant surprise from Madonna. I was not expecting to like this at all but the fantastic first half of the album made me look like a fool. The second half steadily withdraws into more mediocre territory as she tries to experiment – I appreciate the attempts, but they didn’t succeed where I’m concerned. I think a lot of people will like the second half as much as the first, but it wasn’t for me. Even with the album being of two halves, it is still consistent. While the songs get weaker in the back end they still commit to the same tone and atmosphere making this clearly a concept album, or more accurately an album designed to be played in a single sitting. Like the best albums of that kind, many of the individual songs are also good enough to stand on their own too. I’ve no idea where she goes from here. Let us know in the comments what you think of Confessions On The Dancefloor!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Get Together. Sorry. Future Lovers.

Nightman Listens To – David Bowie – Never Let Me Down!

Greetings, Glancers! Now this is interesting – it’s a Bowie album I haven’t even heard of. Therefore I’m assuming the worst. Plus it was released in the 80s, so assuming ‘the worst’ may be too positive. Hardcore fans may notice that I skipped over Mr Bowie’s Labyrinth Soundtrack album. That’s correct. I’m familiar enough with it that I don’t need to listen to it for the blog. Never Let Me Down though, I don’t recognise a single song from looking down the tracklist. Life is all about new experiences, people, even if they’re shit. Lets hope this isn’t shit.

Day In Day Out: A heavy synth and guitar crunch gives way to a horrible 80s sound. Bad drums, bad beat, bad horns. Backing vocals aren’t so bad. Bowie’s giving it some welly on the mic. I can see plenty of people grooving to this, but equally I can see Bowie fans hating this. It’s just a bullseye shot of all the things I don’t like about 80s music.

Time Will Crawl: This gets off to an immediately better start – the drums are absolutely huge and don’t quite have that 80s sound I don’t like. Much better verse melodies this time, and they carry through to the chorus. I like the keyboard pieces – even though they’re repetitive they are quite atmospheric and aid the pumping, urgent rhythm. This is a song I’ve never heard before, but on first listen it flies up my personal Bowie song ranking.

Beat Of Your Drum: A beeping synth intro, then drums and sounds which make me think of a hundred 80s action movie soundtracks. That’s a good thing. Some extra synth omes in when Bowie begins singing and completely changes the tone of the song, which is not a good thing. The pre-chorus is better than the verse, offering yet another style, the chorus is okay but gets boring quickly, then we return briefly to the intro. A bit of a mixture of things I like and things I don’t then.

Never Let Me Down: Another good intro, starts almost like a power ballad then the harmonica wipes those thoughts away. Then the verse and vocals bring it back and feels as close to a mainstream love song as Bowie has ever done. It’s actually quite sweet, but I get the impression that he’s taking the piss. The chorus doesn’t quite do great things – it starts well but veers too much into funk instead of continuing the maudlin melancholy pop. Still, it’s one I’d like to hear again.

Zeroes: Starts with weird crowd noise. Is that even crowd noise? No, it’s some sort of effect to make it sound as if it’s a live performance. Once the main beat comes in the song picks up and gives me hope. Great, simple verse melody with nice backing vocals and sitar type stuff. A pretty fantastic chorus – not sure I’d remember it after one listen. There’s enough for me to enjoy here, but the melody isn’t something which will latch on easily. That’s a few songs here already I’ve liked, surprising after that terrible start. The final couple of minutes of this one are unnecessary.

Glass Spider: An atmospheric intro. A spoken intro. At least Bowie has a good voice for speaking theatrically. Feels like it could have been on the Labyrinth soundtrack. The music is nifty. Then it all goes wrong when the spoken part ends. Silly bouncy bass synth and strained vocals. The backing music tries to keep things from falling off the cliff into garbage. Miraculously it is saved and dragged back from the cliff edge and gets pretty good again. Bits and pieces of greatness, diluted by some nonsense.

Shining Star: Another strong, atmospheric intro. Then it descends into pure 80s silliness. Yet it works, for me at least. The verses are funny and energetic, the pre-chorus is bland, and the chorus is okay. That muted guitar sound and pace drives the song – the drum sounds are like someone stomping on a bag of crisps. The spoken piece makes me think of Miss Europa Disco Dancer – Nicky’s part.

New York’s In Love: This one starts more like the first song, stepping into dodgy territory. It’s very reminiscent of other 80s dance/pop hits. Some of the twinkling synth and guitar stuff makes it bearable but it’s not for me. It does have an extended guitar section at the end but the song feels much longer than it is.

87 And Cry: Now what the hell is this. It definitely reminds me of another 80s song…. Danger Zone? Footloose? Some sort of Loggins? The main riff is also quite similar to G’n’R’s You’re Crazy. Verses don’t have much going on, the chorus a little better.

Too Dizzy: Oh no, there’s the horrible 80s drums. Then it has some hilarious horns to make it sound like an 80s sitcom or game show. The verse is fun, light-hearted nonsense, and the chorus continues the theme. I’m not sure what’s going on with this album, it’s all over the place. It’s fine, just feels like another pop song, with extra sax.

Bang Bang: Throngs, then big 80s drums. Some words. Then good guitar and atmosphere. Then horns. Lets hope we close on a high. One of my famous chord sequences in use here. He flips it around by including unusual pauses. I probably like this so much because of that chord sequence which makes me think of one of my one songs. Great guitar in there. Oh, turns out this is another Iggy cover.

I’m not sure what to make of this one – some really embarrassing stuff, some very 80s pop songs, but also some really good stuff too. I’d like to know what Bowie fans think of this – I’m probably not as negative towards this album as some will be, mainly because I’m not a big fan of the glam stuff which his fans love. He’s gone again for some new sounds and styles, while still keeping his brass and harmonica close by. Some songs I’ve already forgotten, but a few I’ll be adding to my playlist. Let me know what you think of Never Let Me Down in the comments!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Time Will Crawl, Never Let Me Down, Zeroes, Glass Spider.

Nightman Listens To – A-Tom-Ic Jones – Tom Jones (1966 Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s only two posts in but I’m already regretting this decision. Old snake hips himself, the man with the thunder balls and golden tonsils – Tom Jones – who has been accepting thrown panties in his face for 6 decades now. Imagine your grandad up on stage, belting one out while a size twelve silk thong plops onto his cheek and drapes down his chin. It’s tough being a star, folks.

So Thomas Jones… I can’t say I’m a fan. I’ve nothing at all against the big lad (apart from that awful ‘burning down the house’ song he did) and all of his big songs – Delilah, It’s Not Unusual and the like are good for singing when you’re six bottles down and halfway to gutterville. He even did a song with the Manic Street Preachers, which isn’t half bad. This will be the first time I embark on a full album by him though and I’m not sure I can cope with his booming voice for so long. Maybe the songs will be good, who knows. Hilariously, the US cover for this album had to be replaced to remove the nuclear mushroom cloud in the background which Tom has presumably unleashed from his sphincter as he forces out a particularly high note, because in 1966 the US were scared of bombs. Pff, try living in Belfast guys – I can’t get to sleep if there isn’t a bomb going off.

Dr. Love: Well now, this gets off to an explosive start with booming horns and young Tom turned up to twelve. The lyrics are pretty saucy too. The chorus is too plain for his vocal approach. He’s spicing up the vocals in the verses with a series of growls and whispers. The backing vocals try to give the whole thing a Motown feel for the chorus, but still too plain. Ha – love-itis. A good start.

Face Of A Loser: Opens with a Dusty Springfield swing. A softer vocal approach. Slightly. Plenty more horns. More backing vocals for the chorus. It’s a better chorus this time, except I wish they would have continued down the scale when singing ‘lo-oh-oh-oh-ser’. That would have opened up the melody a little. Good verse melodies though, I could see myself singing this in the shower or to the bald train conductor whose face looks like the back of his head. Ah right, that’s a personal reference. Belts out those final notes.

It’s Been A Long Time Coming: I expected a lot of brass in this album, and boy am I getting it. I’m not a brass fan in general, hasn’t got on my nerve yet. This has a clear blues feel. I assume all of these songs had been recorded by others before Tom, but I don’t know any of them. It’s hard hearing this without thinking of Long Time Coming by The Delays. Check out that song, it’s great. This is too slow for my liking, those slow blues numbers never really work for me unless there’s some devilish guitar to slice my skin off. He lets off a great screech though, Little Richard style.

In A Woman’s Eyes: Horns, you know it. A touch of guitar. More of a rambling verse this time, with the melody held for the chorus. Great bridge though. ‘In a woman’s eyes I’m everything a man should be’. Watch that ego there, Tom, you’ll poke your eye out.

More: Hmm, reminiscent of a young Michael Jackson song. Violins to accompany the horns. Ahhh, that’s why I know this – it’s from Mondo Cane. I always thought that was a bizarre piece of music to accompany a film about force-feeding and tit-showing, and other strange human practices, but then the lovely music Riz made for Cannibal Holocause doesn’t exactly fit the story, at least on the surface.

I’ll Never Let You Go: Slow horns. A plain and simple verse melody. There hasn’t been a bad song yet, that’s good. A little samey maybe, but that’s the audience. This is middle album fare and doesn’t challenge. None of the songs are over three minutes, so they’re straight to the point and gone before I can get too pissed off. With a weaker voice the songs would feel much less significant.

The Loser: Another slow one, come on I want the up-tempo boy-os. Quite a few of these songs feel like they should be performed by women instead. I don’t mean that in any sort of condescending or sexist way – I just mean that in the climate of the mid-sixties these songs are exactly what solo female vocalists were singing so they feel strange coming from Tom. This is another rambler.

To Make A Big Man Cry: I’m going to get annoyed soon, it’s another soft and slow one. Come on, mix it up. Credit to Tom for trying to blast it out in the chorus, and the strings swell nicely to join him. That’s a pretty good chorus, the verses aren’t bad. I think I would like this a lot more if it didn’t come in a string of slower songs. Probably the best chorus on the album.

Key To My Heart: Speed! The album definitely has the swinging sixties feel, the arrangements and tone all remind me of other songs from the era. This is fun enough, some surprise guitar in the background and mostly string led rather than brass. As a flip-side to the previous song I would probably enjoy this song less if it hadn’t followed a series of slow ones.

True Loves Comes Only Once In A Lifetime: What the balls is this? An almost oriental intro. Very slow. Very brass. Weird backing vocals. An aimless verse leads to a plain chorus. That intro keeps coming back as a refrain, weird. Yeah, not great but didn’t hurt.

A Little You: This one starts out, if not quite like The Beatles, but some sort of 60s pop rock. A dinky, fun verse with plenty of backing vocals leads to an inconsequential chorus of sorts. It keeps that loose rambling style (when I say a song rambles, it usually means it doesn’t have an obvious verse/chorus structure – not a bad thing, or that the two entities are so similar that it’s difficult to distinguish between them – a bad thing) and never gets to where it wants to go.

You’re So Good For Me: Another mix of guitar horns, this feels like something Elvis would have done. The lead horn part is cool but again the chorus is more like a full stop – a recital of the song’s name followed by a hard stop. Nice long note to finish.

Where Do You Belong: I’m not sure how I feel about this one – the verse starts well but doesn’t take the melodic turns I want it to. It’s just nice, easy listening stuff that I’m not going to remember in a song’s time.

These Things You Don’t Forget: Anytime I see the words ‘these things’ together, it makes me think of Homer’s ‘this things I believe’. A slow, soft one to finish. At least until Tom unleashes a throat grenade. It’s not a great finish – verse is promising, those booming vocals in the pre-chorus are great, but the chorus is a let down.

There you go, my first Tom Jones album. It wasn’t anywhere near as horrible as I thought it was going to be – in fact, I can see now why he’s had such a long career, beyond being a generic male singer. He really does let rip in some songs and it’s abundantly clear that he is bigger than the songs he has been given. With better songs you could tell he would be a force to reckon with… but beyond the few hits of his that I’ve already mentioned I don’t know if he ever got material worthy of him. I get another chance to find out as September 1966 saw the release of his next album From The Heart. I go into that with less apprehension than I had earlier today.

Let us know in the comments what you think of A-Tom-Ic Jones!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Dr. Love. Face Of A Loser. To Make A Big Man Cry.