Friday, November 8, 2019

Archive Review: Motörhead's Inferno (2004)

Motörhead's Inferno
Motörhead has been this “legendary heavy metal band” for so long that even many critics have overlooked the metal icon’s overall importance in the grand scheme of things. Frontman Lemmy Kilminster’s roots are in typical ’60s-era British R&B, but it’s when he joined prog-rockers Hawkwind that things began to get interesting. As bassist for the space-rock outfit during the early ’70s, Lemmy perfected both his bottom-heavy instrumental style and his songwriting skills.

When kicked out of Hawkwind for a myriad of offenses, Lemmy formed Motörhead as an outlet for his aggressive hard rock vision, equal parts British biker culture, pre-punk punk rock attitude, and heavy metal thunder. Over the course of dozens of albums, Lemmy and Motörhead's ever-evolving line-up managed to affect punk, heavy metal, and thrash unlike any other artistic influence.

Motörhead's Inferno

For almost thirty years, Motörhead’s musical blueprint has been consistent and consistently powerful: Lemmy’s gruff vocals spitting out lyrics above a massive slab of feedback-driven guitar riffs and thunderous drumbeats. Inferno, the band’s latest, doesn’t stray far from the formula. The blistering “Terminal Show” kicks off the disc, a futuristic tale of woe set to a speed metal soundtrack that careens out of control approx. 30 seconds into the song, guest axeman Steve Vai’s razor sharp leads standing in counterpoint to Phillip Campbell’s percussive riffs.

Motörhead's Inferno
From here, the pace never diminishes, drummer Mikkey Dee’s merciless rhythms driving the songs forward while Lemmy’s bass bludgeons the listener and Campbell’s six-string work punches with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. The only surprise on Inferno, perhaps, is the acoustic “Whorehouse Blues,” an overt reference to the influence of traditional blues (and British blues-rock) on Motörhead’s metallic sturm-und-drang.

Inferno is both timeless and out-of-time, Lemmy serving up uncompromising rock ‘n’ roll field-tested by better than a quarter-century of hard roadwork. In Campbell and Dee, Kilminster has the band he’s always wanted, the iron fist inside the tattered leather glove. Like most Motörhead albums, Inferno is dominated by themes of sex, death, power, and the near-mystical aesthetic of rock ‘n’ roll. The songs roar like a wolf at the door and scream louder than Dante’s nightmares, Motörhead an anachronistic thorn in the side of the music business, the rude guest that refuses to leave the modern rock party.

The Reverend's Bottom Line

You won't hear Inferno on the radio, but its importance will be felt five or ten years from now when the kid who discovers Motörhead through this album forms the next Metallica or Nirvana. In the end, Lemmy won’t be remembered so much for the remarkable simplicity and strength of his music but for the young musicians who continue to be influenced by the uncompromising honesty and anarchistic spirit that is Motörhead. (Steamhammer Records, 2004)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2004

Buy the CD from Motörhead's Inferno

Archive Review: Various Artists - Yes New York (2003)

Various Artists - Yes New York
If early ’90s Seattle was the new Athens, then early ’00s New York City must be the new Seattle, if you catch my drift. Sure, there are “garage rock” bands (or whatever you want to call ’em) scattered all across the fruited plain (and in old Londontown as well), but all that is hip and happening tends to somehow, eventually, inevitably find its way to the “Big Apple.” Yes New York documents the current crop of NYC bands, freezing the scene in a perfect moment in time not unlike the handful of late ’70s albums that captured the Ramones/Television/Patti Smith scene that made Max’s Kansas City and CBGB’s the places to hang out in 1977.

Yes New York

The producers of Yes New York are a savvy bunch, throwing in some heavy-hitting major leaguers like the Strokes, Ted Leo, and Interpol alongside a minor league crop of future superstars like Radio 4, the Walkmen, and the Natural History. Round it out with some players-in-training like Longwave, Le Tigre, and Unitard and you have a batting line-up that will hit for power and percentage.

The once-banned “New York City Cops” is the hook to entice you to spend your coin on Yes New York; the rare live (and previously unreleased) Strokes cut copped from an April 2002 performance in Iceland. Most of the rest of Yes New York is culled from the artist’s current albums, although a few worthy gems – such as the anarchic “Tired” by LCD Soundsystem, or the new wave throwback cut from the Witnesses – are unreleased or barely released.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

So is Yes New York worth your time and money to track down? If you're interested in what is going on musically on the fringes of pop culture, then the answer would be an emphatic “Yes, New York!” As a microcosm of the current American music zeitgeist, NYC’s current scene offers all of the diversity, influences and varied sounds that any rocker would want to hear. If you're looking for a fresh take on some old sounds, check out the bands on Yes New York for a taste of what’s being done these days on the indie music scene (before it’s co-opted and corrupted by the majors!)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2003

Buy the CD from Yes New York

Friday, November 1, 2019

New Music Monthly: November & December 2019 releases

It's the end of the road for 2019, and record labels are emptying the vaults to try and grab their share of your Christmas cash. There's a wealth of vinyl reissues and pricey multi-disc box sets coming our way from artists like The Police, Queens of the Stone Age, Rick Wakeman, and Little Steven, among many others. If you've got the cash, there's plenty of great tunes to be had over the next six months! 

Release dates are subject to change and nobody tells me when they do. If you’re interesting in buying an album, just hit the ‘Buy!’ link to get it from’s just that damn easy! Your purchase puts valuable ‘store credit’ in the Reverend’s pocket that he’ll use to buy more music to write about in a never-ending loop of rock ‘n’ roll ecstasy!

Los Straitjackets's- ¡Viva! Los Straitjackets

The Bar-Kays - Gotta Groove [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Booker T. & the M.G.'s - Melting Pot [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Cold War Kids - New Age Norms 1   BUY!
Delaney & Bonnie - Home [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Jeff Lynne's ELO - From Out of Nowhere   BUY!
Los Straitjackets - The Utterly Fantastic and Totally Unbelievable Sound of Los Straitjackets [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Los Straitjackets - ¡Viva! Los Straitjackets [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Nirvana - MTV Unplugged In NY [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
David Porter - Victim of the Joke? [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Simple Minds - 40: The Best of 1979-2019 [3-CD set]   BUY!
Johnnie Taylor - Who’s Making Love [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Uncle Walt's Band - An American In Texas   BUY!
Vetiver - Up On High   BUY!

Fats Domino's I've Been Around

Fats Domino - I've Been Around [12-CD box set]   BUY!
The Police - Ghost in the Machine [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
The Police - Reggatta de Blanc [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
The Police - Synchronicity [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
The Police - Zenyatta Mondatta [vinyl reissue]   BUY!

Send I A Lion

The Band - The Band [50th anniversary edition]   BUY!
Julianna Hatfield - Julianna Hatfield Sings the Police   BUY!
The Pineapple Thief - Hold Our Fire [live]   BUY!
Various Artists - Send I A Lion [compilation w/the Mighty Diamonds, Gladiators, Wailing Souls & others]   BUY!

Harry Nilsson's Losst and Founnd

Leonard Cohen - Thanks For the Dance   BUY!
Junkyard - Old Habits Die Hard [unreleased 1992 LP]   BUY!
Harry Nilsson - Losst and Founnd   BUY!
Queens of the Stone Age - Rated R [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Queens of the Stone Age - Songs For the Deaf [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
The Who - Who   BUY!

Land of 1000 Dances: The Rampart Records Complete Singles Collection

Various Artists - Land of 1000 Dances: The Rampart Records Complete Singles Collection   BUY!

Rick Wakeman - Box Of Boots: Official Bootleg Series [10-CD box set]

Gentle Giant's Unburied Treasure

Gentle Giant - Unburied Treasure [Limited edition 30-CD box set]   BUY!
John Hiatt - Only The Song Survives [15-disc vinyl box set]   BUY!
Lee "Scratch" Perry - Heavy Rain   BUY!
Little Steven Van Zandt - RockNRoll Rebel – The Early Work [11-disc CD/vinyl box set]

Queens of the Stone Age's Era Vulgaris

Queens of the Stone Age - Era Vulgaris [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Queens of the Stone Age - Lullabies To Paralyze [vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Frank Zappa - The Hot Rats Sessions [deluxe 6-CD box set]   BUY!

Frank Zappa's The Hot Rats Sessions

Album of the Month: I dunno, it's really hard to choose from all the great archival material the labels are spitting out here in Q4, but if I had to choose, I'd go with Frank Zappa's The Hot Rats Sessions, a deluxe six-disc box set that provides the rabid Frank fanatic with everything they could want from the storied collection. Zappa's sophomore solo effort, from 1969, Hot Rats was the first album anywhere to be recorded on 16-track tape, and the Maestro used the expanded technology to his advantage. The set is said to include every song recorded during the sessions, as well as a "Zappa Land" board game. The Hot Rats Sessions includes 65 tracks, all but six of them previously unreleased.