Live albums are tricky. They can be amazing or wretched. There are quite a few that are absolute gems. Kiss Alive, Led Zeppelin The Song Remains The Same, Thin Lizzy Live and Dangerous, and The Band The Last Waltz are just a few of them. In 1997 an innovative band took their sound and performance to the Roseland Ballroom in New York and created one of the best live albums ever. The band in question is Portishead, who with only two albums under their belt, delivered a spectacle. Accompanying Portishead that evening was the New York Philharmonic. The mixture of their music and the addiction of the stringed instruments added even more of a psychedelic trip vibe. Certain songs in their catalog really stood out that night such as “All Mine,” “Mysterons,” “Over,” “Glory Box,” and my personal favorite “Roads.”
This album is another one that is a must in any collection. As a side note this album is great for romantic evenings with your loved one!
When you hear an album in its entirety it can change your life, set a mood, inspire and set you free. There are so many great albums that can do all that was mentioned. One that has always stood out with me since I first heard it many many years ago was Mad Season’s album Above. Comprised of Layne Staley (Vocals), Mike McCreedy (Guitars), Barrett Martin (Drums) and John Baker Sanders (Bass), there is not one thing that is wrong with this album. The performances are perfect. Musically it verges on blues and etherial bounds and reaches far beyond what anyone thought it would be. Vocally the honesty and melodies stay with you for eternity. Kicking off the album is “Wake Up” a sincere inner look at what Layne was going through and struggling with. The lyrics so personal and painful yet connects as a powerful message to anyone listening. “X-Ray Mind” has an amazing tribal drum intro that goes right into a sweeping bluesy riff that segways into a the crooning Staley’s distinctive voice. “River Of Deceit” is another song that is brilliant and is deep and personal. The way Layne sings, you the listener really can feel everything he is saying and the chills you get it unmistakable. “I’m Above” starts with a sweet mellowness that kicks into high gear with a crunchy blues riff, complimented by steady and sultry bass lines that are found on the entire record. “Artificial Red” is a simple blues song that has a sweet groove to it. “Lifeless Dead” and “I Don’t Know Anything” hit right away with another awesome dirty blues riff the is mixed with a drum beat that is behind the beat and a bass line that guides the song with powerful rhythm. “Long Gone Day” features Mark Lanegan on guest vocals. Mark and Layne have a perfect vocal balance and the pseudo duet is very haunting. The music behind the song is mellow and psychedelic, that send you on a deeper journey into your own mind. Closing out the album is “All Alone” a song that ventures into the more ambient and sedated of all the tracks, that slowly fades out at the end.
Recently, Above was re-released with an accompanying live album and DVD that shows just how amazing they truly were. There were also 3 new tracks released with it that feature Mark Lanegan on vocals. Sadly Mad Season lasted only one album. Barrett Martin is now playing in an exceptional band called Walking Papers, and Mike McCreedy is still playing with Pearl Jam. Layne has passed away as well as the very talented John Baker Sanders. They might not be here anymore but, the great thing is that this music and album live on. I can honestly put this album in my top 25 records of all time.
If you’ve never experienced this album you’ve missed out!
I still remember the day when I was 3 years old. My parents were having work done at our house and the workers had music playing as they worked. The words shook me and stuck in my head to this day. “Shot through the heart, and you’re to blame, darling you give love a bad name!” Bon Jovi- Slippery When Wet is that album for me. Looking back on that record, it still holds its own amongst the great albums of that era. Slippery is one of the quintessential albums of the 80’s and of all time selling an astounding 28 million copies worldwide and counting. Some of the most memorable songs in rock music come from that album; “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “You Give Love A Bad Name,” and of course the anthem “Livin’ On A Prayer.” There is way more to the album than just those hits.
The first track which kicks it all off, “Let It Rock” is a statement that the boys from Jersey are here to take names and rock your ears to the core. “You Give Love A Bad Name” continues the excitement. I still remember seeing the video on MTV (when MTV actually played music videos), thinking to myself wow this is great. “Livin’ On A Prayer” is probably the most popular song and more that likely can be found on 4 out of 5 people’s ipods in this day and age. Track 4 “Social Disease” is full of tongue in cheek lyrics probably written about one of the bands many trips to the strip clubs in Vancouver (where they recorded the album), yet it’s got a great riff and drum beat (compliments to Tico Torres) to rock to. The next track begins in epic fashion and has such a great ambience to it provided by David Bryan’s keyboard playing. “Wanted Dead Or Alive,” the best “power ballad” (in my opinion at least) rips and roars like there is no tomorrow. The lyrical content is heartfelt and honest. The guitar playing is sultry and bombastic. There is nothing about this song that doesn’t rock. “Raise Your Hands” steps it up a notch after slowing it down for a bit. This song has all the elements of 80’s metal at it’s best. “Without Love” is a more upbeat ballad that tells a great love story. “I’d Die For You” is signature Bon Jovi. “Never Say Goodbye” is another very personal journal entry from Jon. Though this song isn’t a sappy love song, instead it’s one that reminisces of great times and the hope of more to come. The closing track “Wild In The Streets” ends the album where it began, rocking your face off!!
Bon Jovi has been rocking audiences the world over continuously for close to 30 years. They have sold over 100 million albums worldwide and rocked all those faces. Their last album “The Circle” debuted at number 1 on the billboard charts when it was released in 2009. Not only that but they are one of the top concert draws in the world to this day. They were my first concert ever back in 1989 when they were on the “New Jersey” tour when Skid Row (yes that Skid Row) opened up for them, along with the late great Sam Kinison as the MC of the evening.
Thanks to Bon Jovi for getting me into music and helping me to discover all the other great bands the world has to offer! And a special thank you to my parents for taking me music shopping when I was a young lad!