Monday, July 15, 2019

Spotlight on Deep Purple

Deep Purple circa 1983
Deep Purple circa 1983

Deep Purple Select Discography:
Shades of Deep Purple (Tetragrammaton Records, 1968)
The Book of Taliesyn (Tetragrammaton Records, 1968)
Deep Purple (Tetragrammaton Records, 1969)
Concerto for Group and Orchestra [live] (Tetragrammaton Records, 1969)
Deep Purple In Rock (Warner Bros, 1970)
Fireball (Warner Bros, 1971)
Machine Head (Warner Bros, 1972)
Made In Japan [live] (Warner Bros, 1972)
Who Do We Think We Are (Warner Bros, 1973)
Burn (Warner Bros, 1974)
Stormbringer (Warner Bros, 1974)
Come Taste the Band (Warner Bros, 1975)
Made In Europe [live] (Warner Bros, 1976)
Deep Purple In Concert [live] (Spitfire Records, 1980)
Live In London [live] (Harvest Records, 1982)
Perfect Strangers (Polydor Records, 1984)
The House of Blue Light (Polydor Records, 1987)
Nobody's Perfect [live] (Polydor Records, 1988)
Slaves and Masters (RCA Records, 1990)
The Battle Rages On... (Giant Records/BMG, 1993)
Purpendicular (CMC International/BMG, 1996)
Abandon (CMC International/BMG, 1998)
Bananas (Sanctuary Records,2003)
Rapture of the Deep (Eagle Records, 2005)
BBC Sessions 1968–1970 (EMI Records, 2011)
Now What?! (Eagle Records, 2013)
Infinite (earMUSIC, 2017)

Deep Purple In Rock
British rockers Deep Purple are inarguably one of the most influential bands of all time. Purple's trail-blazing mix of operatic vocals, virtuoso guitar and keyboards, and unrelenting rhythms informed several generations of rock superstars, from Kiss, Queen, and Van Halen in the 1970s to Metallica and Iron Maiden in the '80s and even bands like Pantera and Alice In Chains in the '90s. Purple's imprint on the evolution of hard rock and heavy metal is enduring and undeniable.

Formed in 1968 by singer Rod Evans, guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, bassist Nick Simper, keyboardist Jon Lord, and drummer Ian Paice, Deep Purple were originally a psych-influenced progressive rock band. This line-up recorded three late '60s albums that were released by the indie Tetragrammaton Records and scored hits with cover songs like Joe South's "Hush," Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Rain," and Donovan's "Lalena." By 1970, however, as rock music was evolving, so was Deep Purple, towards a heavier, harder-rocking sound.

Evans and Simper, deemed "unsuitable" for the band's new direction, were ousted, replaced by singer Ian Gillan and bassist Roger Glover, who were also a songwriting team. This cemented the legendary "Mark II" line-up of the band that lasted from 1969 to 1973, re-forming again for a five-year run from 1984 to 1989. First finding success in the U.K. with albums like Deep Purple In Rock and Fireball, the band scored a multi-Platinum™ Top 10 U.S. hit in Machine Head, which yielded their classic song "Smoke On the Water." The band's Made In Japan live set went Platinum™ in the U.S. and sold over eight million copies worldwide. Purple's 1973 studio follow-up, Who Do We Think We Are, earned a Gold™ record for sales but tensions between the band members came to a head with Gillan quitting the band and Blackmore subsequently firing Glover.

Deep Purple's Machine Head
Purple soldiered on, recruiting singer David Coverdale (later of Whitesnake) and bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes (Trapeze) for the recording of Burn, the band's eighth studio album, which became a Top 10 hit that was followed quickly by Stormbringer, both albums scoring Gold™ Record status. Disgruntled over the musical direction of the band, Blackmore quit to form Rainbow with singer Ronnie James Dio. Undaunted, Purple brought in guitarist Tommy Bolin for the disappointing Come Taste the Band, but after Bolin's death in 1976, Lord and Paice decided to break up the band.

After being offered a truckload of cash, the Mark II version of Deep Purple reunited in 1984 for a pair of studio LPs and a live album, but the bad blood between Gillan and Blackmore proved too much, the singer left the band once again. Purple brought in former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner for the horribly mediocre Slaves and Masters album, but when the rest of the band wanted to bring Gillan back in the fold for the band's 25th anniversary, Blackmore acquiesced, but left the band himself after the release of The Battle Rages On, quitting during the album's support tour and temporarily replaced by shredder Joe Satriani. Accomplished six-string virtuoso Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs) took his place, and other than Jon Lord retiring in 2002 (R.I.P. 2012), to be replaced by journeyman keyboardist Don Airey (another Rainbow veteran), this Purple line-up has continued to tour and record to this day.

This is but a brief overview of Deep Purple's lengthy and complex 50-year career. If you want the full story, check out writer Martin Popoff's comprehensive history of the band. There are a bunch of dodgy Deep Purple live albums, some of 'em pretty good, but most of them not so much, and I haven't listed those here. There are also a slew of various compilation albums that I'd avoid, but if you really need to check out the band, look no further than Machine Head and/or Perfect Strangers. If you dig those LPs, the rest of these will end up in your collection sooner or later...

Archive Review: Emo Philips’ Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre (1987)

Emo Phillips’ Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre
Comedy is entirely a matter of personal taste, comedy recordings doubly so. Informed criticism of either is somewhat futile and not unlike dancing upon the edge of a well-oiled razor blade, albeit a rather large razor blade. What one person may consider leg-wetting, liver-quivering funny may seem incredibly droll and boring to the next person…all of which, in a round-about way, is my manner of introducing you, gentle reader, to the somewhat slightly strange work of Emo Philips.

You may have seen Emo on Letterman’s show or, perhaps, on one of the many pay-cable networks which seem to dote on young comics these days. If you’ve never seen Mr. Philips – a tall, gaunt fellow with an anachronistic pageboy haircut and a strained, sing-song delivery – you’d never forget him. Emo is one sick puppy. His shtick is a curious mix of introverted self-criticism, audience-shared personal experience, and intellectual absurdity; in short, an artist requiring an acquired taste.

Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre is Philips’ second record, recorded at Harvard’s legendary Hasty Pudding Theatre, a living shrine to theatrical farce, a location well-suited for Philips’ style of comedy. The material here is consistently off-the-wall, the jokes quick and fleeting, dealing mostly with Emo’s day-to-day existence. The humor is more than a wee bit cerebral, with intellectual broadsides and odd non-sequiturs flying freely. At his best, Philips is a mirror reflecting the various quirks and eccentricities of our society; at his worst, he is merely strange. This is an enjoyable album, if not uproariously funny, but rather the sort of comedy record which yields a fresh dimension of thought with each listen… (Epic Records, 1987)

Review originally published by The Metro (Nashville), 1987

Buy the CD from Amazon: Emo Philips’ Live From the Hasty Pudding Theatre

Friday, July 12, 2019

Archive Review: Wayne Kramer's Citizen Wayne (1997)

Wayne Kramer's Citizen Wayne
When former MC5 axeman Wayne Kramer made The Hard Stuff, his first solo disc for Epitaph, he recruited a gang of studio help that read like a literal “who's-who” of alt-rock and punk stars. Cashing in on his legendary reputation, Kramer delivered a solid effort that was one of the year's best albums. For his third Epitaph release, Citizen Wayne, the Gen-X sidemen are gone, as is long-time Kramer lyricist Mick Farren. Under the guiding hand of producer Don Was, Kramer is entirely on his own here, and if the resulting songs aren't as breath-taking as those on The Hard Stuff, they ain't half-bad, either.

Mixing the metallic-tinged, guitar-driven style of rock that he's known for with a sort of manic jazz improv and urban R & B influence, Kramer has created an interesting, thought-provoking album that showcases a lyrical talent few of us realized Kramer possessed. There are several songs here that have caught my attention and fired my imagination, from the slightly surrealistic history lesson of "Back When Dogs Could Talk" to the clever satirical wordplay of "Revolution In Apt. 29." "Down On the Ground" is possibly the best riot song I've ever heard, the story of the MC5's ill-fated trip to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, while "Snatched Defeat" and "Count Time" tell of Kramer's personal trials and tribulations. "Shining Mr. Lincoln's Shoes," a simple Guthriesque tale of life on the streets in America reveals Kramer's populist social consciousness, while other cuts take on government-sponsored drug runners and media-created celebrity.

If much of Citizen Wayne seems to be autobiographical, well, it is. During their time, MC5 were a ground-breaking hard rock band with a political edge that made a lot of noise, stirred up a lot of controversy and, ultimately, sold few records. They might have been an obscure footnote in musical history if a current generation of young punks hadn't gone searching for their non-commercial roots and rediscovered the pre-punk Midwestern anger of MC5 and the Stooges. Kramer was elevated to the status of a legend without any of the material benefits. That he's defeated addiction and imprisonment to return to music after a hiatus of many years is a tribute to the man's talent, that Kramer has delivered an album as electric, insightful and vital as Citizen Wayne is an indication of his artistic creativity. (Epitaph Records, 1997)

Also on That Devil Music: Wayne Kramer's The Hard Stuff CD review

Friday, July 5, 2019

Archive Review: Radio Birdman's Zeno Beach (2006)

Radio Birdman's Zeno Beach
Australia’s Radio Birdman is possibly the first punk band to earn mythical status not on the strength of their music, but rather on their obscurity. The exposure of the average American rocker to Radio Birdman’s blistering late ’70s punk has come solely through a single compilation, The Essential Radio Birdman: 1974-1978. The band’s influence on a generation of Australian artists following in their footsteps cannot be understated, however, with every Oz band of note over the past 20 years – Celibate Rifles, the Screaming Tribesmen, Hoodoo Gurus, and many others – tapping into the Birdman spirit in one form or another.

While the prospects of a Radio Birdman reunion at this late date seemed a bit spotty, Zeno Beach, the album resulting from the reassembled band, is much better than it has any right to be. Recruiting original Birdman shouter Rob Younger – an ingredient essential to any successful reinvention of the band – and calling up mates Chris Masuak and Pip Hoyle, Deniz Tek managed to assemble two-thirds of the original Birdman lineup, adding a couple of new friends to the mix. The chemistry of the newfound band is incredible, adding a fresh layer of grime and grunge to the band’s classic high-flying punk roots.

Detroit-born Tek’s fascinations with the Stooges and the MC5 can still be heard in the songs, but they don’t dominate the proceedings as they once did. Younger’s amazing vocal range – he sounds like Robert Smith of the Cure one moment, like Iggy after a three-day binge the next – is supported by the dueling guitars of Tek and Masuak and a solid rhythm section. The result is a classic, timeless rock ’n’ roll album, bristling with energy and attitude and driven by screaming guitars that channel four decades of garage-bred roots into 45 minutes of near-perfect Marshall flash. (Yep Roc Records, released August 22, 2006)

Also on That Devil Music: Radio Birdmans The Essential Radio Birdman CD review

Buy the CD from Amazon: Radio Birdman’s Zeno Beach

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2006

Archive Review: Humble Pie's On To Victory/Go For the Throat (2012)

Humble Pie's On To Victory/Go For the Throat
Fronted by the dynamic, charismatic Steve Marriott, British blues-rockers Humble Pie enjoyed a brief early-1970s heyday that reached its peak with the band’s 1972 album Smokin’. Originally formed in 1968 by Marriott and guitarist Peter Frampton, the band would go through various line-ups and musical directions before latching onto Marriott’s favored rock ‘n’ soul hybrid, a boogie-and-blues brew that, combined with an unrelenting tour schedule, would take Smokin’ to number six on the Billboard albums chart.

While subsequent albums would experience diminishing commercial returns, Humble Pie remained a popular live band when Marriott decided to pull the plug after 1975’s disappointing Street Rats in favor of reforming his 1960s-era outfit the Small Faces. When that reunion went south in a tangle of egos and mediocre music, Marriott put together Steve Marriott’s All-Stars and toured briefly before finally forming a new version of Humble Pie in 1979 with original drummer Jerry Shirley, guitarist Bobby Tench (from the Jeff Beck Group), and bassist Anthony “Sooty” Jones. This Humble Pie line-up recorded a pair of albums – 1980’s On To Victory and the following year’s Go For the Throat before health issues prompted Marriott to bust up the band for a second time in 1981.

Humble Pie’s On To Victory

Reissued as part of a two-disc set, On To Victory and Go For the Throat were both unfairly maligned at the time of their original release, and both albums deserve another listen by long-time fans and newcomers alike. Rather than rest on past laurels or try to recreate the heavy blues-rock formula that struck gold with Smokin’, Marriott’s new Humble Pie would sojourn into unexpected musical territories, incorporating Marriott’s love of American soul music and R&B with the blues-rock sound with which he had built his reputation. As such, On To Victory cleverly mixes these related influences to create a fresh (and funky) sound.

On To Victory scored an unexpected minor hit with “Fool For A Pretty Face,” the song’s swaggering bravado mixing boogie-blues with raucous soul to good effect. The similar “Infatuation” is built with the same blueprint, Marriott adding backing harmonies behind his growling vocals, blasts of R&B styled horns accenting the mix. A cover of the Holland/Dozier/Holland classic “Baby Don’t You Do It” is offered a reckless performance with a lot of charm, Marriott’s signature high-flying vox imitating his previous “I Don’t Need No Doctor” while the band delivers a stone rhythmic groove in the background. Marriott plays a cover of Otis Redding’s “My Lover’s Prayer” fairly straight, gospel-styled keyboards chiming reverently behind his anguished vocals, while the high-flying “Further Down the Road” displays Marriott’s underrated six-string skills and a killer performance by drummer Shirley.

Humble Pie’s Go For the Throat

Experiencing a modicum of sales success with On To Victory, the re-formed Humble Pie was hustled into the studio to record a quick follow-up. Released in 1981, Go For the Throat could be viewed as a sequel to its predecessor and, in many aspects, its songs are almost interchangeable with On To Victory, with a few minor artistic lapses. An overwrought cover of Elvis Presley’s “All Shook Up” features some fine guitar and keyboards from Marriott, but an overall embarrassing vocal take. Much better is Marriott’s original “Teenage Anxiety,” a mid-tempo ballad with emotional vocals, a solid rhythmic construct, and tasteful piano leads.

Marriott revisits an old Small Faces tune he co-wrote with Ronnie Lane, “Tin Soldier” a relic of the psychedelic 1960s but still holding a bluesy, soulful edge with Marriott’s inspired vocals and nuanced fretwork, and Shirley’s big-beat timekeeping. Another Marriott original, “Driver,” sounds like a ZZ Top outtake albeit with more frantic percussion and a chaotic arrangement fueled by ripping guitar, flying harmonica riffs, and explosive drumbeats. The swinging, Rolling Stones-styled “Restless Blood” is pure raunch ‘n’ roll cheap thrills, and “Chip Away” (The Stone)” is an unbridled rocker from the early Humble Pie songbook, Marriott’s vocals almost lost beneath a storm of stammering guitar, bass, and drums.

Live In Los Angeles 1981

This reissue of On To Victory and Go For the Throat packages both albums on a single CD, accompanied by a second live disc that captures a live 1981 radio broadcast recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience at the Reseda Country Club in Los Angeles, California. The eight-track playlist, although stretching across a full 45-minutes, is curiously short on material from the reformed band’s then-current albums. No matter, because starting with a particularly high-octane ten-minute jam on the band’s “I Don’t Need No Doctor” (originally an R&B chart hit for Ray Charles), this live set strikes like lightning and sounds like thunder, showing why Marriott was always more popular as a live performer than a studio artist.

“Infatuation” takes on a new life on-stage, the band stomping and snorting like a mad bull tearing through a china shop. The band revisits another early Humble Pie gem in “30 Days In The Hole,” one of the more popular AOR tracks from Smokin’, Jerry Shirley’s flying drumbeats and Marriott’s out-of-control vocals paired with intertwined guitars and heavy bass lines. The hit “Fool For A Pretty Face” is well-received, Marriott’s vocals edgier and stronger than the studio version, the band’s crashing instrumentation building to a cacophonous crescendo. Marriott revisits his childhood with a livewire cover of Gene Vincent’s early rock classic “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” pulling off an audacious performance, while a cover of Don William’s country classic “Tulsa Time” swings as hard as the original with amped-up guitars and sonic drumbeats, although the gravel-throated Marriott’s attempt at twangy vocals fall far short of the mark.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Since both On To Victory and Go For the Throat have long been out-of-print in the U.S. and available only sporadically as a British import, it’s good to have both albums available again as part of a single set. While neither album is as engaging or entertaining as early Humble Pie efforts like Rock On or Smokin’, neither is as bad as critics avowed at the time. Both albums include a handful of truly transcendent musical moments – solid fusions of blues, rock, and soul – and although On To Victory is the better and more spontaneous of the two releases, the albums mesh together seamlessly on a single disc. Throw in the red-hot live set, and you have a deluxe edition tailor-made for Humble Pie fans to chew upon for a while. (Deadline Music, released March 13, 2012)

Monday, July 1, 2019

New Music Monthly: July 2019 Releases

What July lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for with quality, the month offering new blues jams from Chicago's Billy Branch and the mighty Supersonic Blues Machine as well as a cool four-disc box Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records set. There are new rockin' tunes from folks like Imperial Teen, Violent Femmes, and Purple Mountains; some rare Little Steven music; and a slew of archive releases, including some Crowded House on wax and some rare Paul McCartney vinyl stuff. Plus, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, a long overdue reissue of Brian Eno's Apollo album on CD and vinyl! No matter your taste in music, there's something here for you to listen to in July!

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!

Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues' Roots and Branches

Billy Branch & the Sons of Blues - Roots and Branches: The Songs of Little Walter   BUY!

Crowded House's The Very Very Best of Crowded House

Crowded House - The Very Very Best of Crowded House [vinyl]   BUY!
Gomez - Liquid Skin [20th anniversary reissue]   BUY!
Imperial Teen - Now We Are Timeless   BUY!
Little Steven & the Interstellar Jazz Renegades - Lillyhammer The Score, Volume 1: Jazz   BUY!
Little Steven & the Interstellar Jazz Renegades - Lillyhammer The Score, Volume 2: Folk, Rock, Rio, Bits & Pieces   BUY!
Paul McCartney - Amoeba Gig [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Paul McCartney - Choba B CCCP [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Paul McCartney - Paul Is Live [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Paul McCartney - Wings Over America [CD & vinyl reissue]   BUY!
Purple Mountains - Purple Mountains   BUY!
Supersonic Blues Machine - Road Chronicles [live]   BUY!

Brian Eno's Apollo

Davina & the Vagabonds - Sugar Drops   BUY!
Brian Eno - Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks [Extended Edition]   BUY!
Steve Goodman - Affordable Art [CD reissue]   BUY!
Steve Goodman - Artistic Hair [CD reissue]   BUY!
Live - Throwing Copper [25th anniversary reissue]   BUY!
Various Artists - Cadillac Baby's Bea & Baby Records: The Definitive Collection [4-CD history of Chicago blues label]   BUY!

Violent Femmes' Hotel Last Resort

Soundgarden - Live From the Artists Den   BUY!
Violent Femmes - Hotel Last Resort   BUY!

Steve Goodman's Affordable Art

Album of the Month: There are a number of great choices for the month, but the Rev has to go with the late Steve Goodman's Affordable Art, reissued on CD by the good folks at Omnivore Recordings. The last album released during singer/songwriter's lifetime, on his own indie Red Pajamas label, Affordable Art is a fine collection filled with humor, poetry, and humility – all of which were Goodman's stock-in-trade. If you're unfamiliar with this legendary, talented wordsmith and performer, Affordable Art is a great place to start. Omnivore is also reissuing Goodman's Artistic Hair album this month, and a couple more titles from the artist in August, and you honestly can't go wrong with any of 'em!

Archive Review: Monster Magnet’s Dopes To Infinity (1995)

Monster Magnet’s Dopes To Infinity
What the 1990s are lacking, if I were to inject my two cents worth here, is a truly HEAVY rock ‘n’ roll band. Sure, there’s grindcore, death metal, and metallic rap; punk rap and hardcore punk, and a dozen other variations on the old guttural vocals/loud ‘n’ fast guitars and monster rhythm combo, but there's no really, really HEAVY rock outfit...the kind of stuff that an early Bob Seger (before he hit middle age and senility) used to call “Heavy Music.”

After all, the ‘60s had Dust, Sir Lord Baltimore, and Vanilla Fudge and the ‘70s had Led Zeppelin, Hawkwind, and the mighty Black Sabbath. Even the ‘80s – the great cesspool that was the Reagan era – produced semi-heavy bands in Metallica, Slayer, and the rest of Tipper’s demon-inspired nightmares. Kids these day have nobody to call their own, no righteous headbangers that they can tell tales to their grandchildren about – “well, chilluns, I remember the night that we pried Ozzie up off of a hardwood floor in a West Nashville bar and propped him in front of a mike. Sabbath rocked so hard that they were wheeling them out of the auditorium in iron lungs!”

With the best interests of these young ones at heart, I’d like to nominate Monster Magnet for the open position of the “Heaviest Band of the 1990s.” Dopes To Infinity, their latest effort, comes mighty close to recreating the magic that all of those aforementioned bands brought to their ‘heavy’ creations. First of all, they’ve got a great name, one that would look good on a patch or a school notebook (and that’s important!). Secondly, they've got great song titles – stuff like “Negasonic Teenage Warhead” or “Look To Your Orb For The Warning” or, lest we forget, “Ego, The Living Planet.”

Most importantly, as we used to say once upon a time, Dopes To Infinity kicks out the jams with a dozen powerful, psychedelic-tinged rock tunes. Thunderous, spacey, hypnotizing, and capital-H Heavy, Monster Magnet are no mere pretenders to the throne, but rather real contenders for the crown. (A&M Records, released March 21, 1995)

Buy the CD from Amazon: Monster Magnet Dopes To Infinity

Review originally published by Bone Music Magazine, Nashville (1995)

Friday, June 28, 2019

Archive Review: Dag Nasty's Minority of One (2002)

Dag Nasty's Minority of One
Given the time between Dag Nasty albums, you’re more likely to witness a total eclipse of the moon, or maybe get hit by a wandering comet, than you are to hear a new album from the band during your lifetime. Maybe we live in charmed times, or perhaps the stars are in perfect alignment, ‘cause the legendary punk outfit has dropped its first disc in a decade with the extraordinary Minority of One.

Fronted by former All vocalist Dave Smalley and Minor Threat/Meatmen axeman Brian Baker, Dag Nasty has released only a handful of albums since the classic 1986 debut Can I Say. Since Dag Nasty’s last effort, 1992’s overlooked Four On the Floor, the band members have been busy – Smalley with his vocal chores for Down By Law and Baker as Bad Religion’s resident six-string maniac. With Minority of One, tho’, the founding fathers of “emocore” have whipped up a new batch of fab tunes certain to whip the punk rock kids into a veritable frenzy.

Dag Nasty’s Minority of One

Minority of One slaughters the so-called “competition,” leaving bands like Dashboard Confessional and the Promise Ring in its wake. The musical gorefest kicks off with “Ghosts,” a high-voltage rocker that reminds us that the past can come back to haunt us, while the anthemic title cut sounds more than a little like Bad Religion. With screaming guitar riffs, crashing rhythms, chanted vocals and non-conformist lyrical perspective, “Minority of One” delivers a little classic “rant ‘n’ roll” for the attentive listener. Smalley’s passionate vocals and the fresh lyrics of “Broken Days” breathe new life into a poetic cliché, a mournful tale of love and betrayal. “Incinerate” is an old-fashioned love song, defiant lyrics matched with a dynamic chorus and Baker’s jagged-edge axework.

The powerful “Wasting Away” is both a lyrical call-to-arms for fresh blood to pick up the “tattered flag” and a deep cut at the hardcore Cassandra’s who would rather bitch about society than try to improve it. Crackling with electricity, “Wasting Away” offers Dave Smalley’s best Greg Graffin vocal imitation while Baker’s dubbed six-string sounds like a guitar army marching to battle alongside bassist Roger Marbury and drummer Colin Sears’ rhythmic artillery division. It’s a smart song, drawing the line in the sand for the next generation of punk rockers to cross. A hidden track sneaks up at the close of Minority of One, a Dag Nasty customized cover of Generation X’s “One Hundred Punks” featuring Baker’s best frantic, class of ’77 styled guitar performance and Smalley’s snarling Billy Idol-inspired vocals.

The Reverend’s Bottom Line

Although Dag Nasty will remain an afterthought for its members in the face of their various day jobs, Minority of One is nevertheless a potent musical statement. With top notch songwriting and an undeniable musical chemistry bolstered by inspired performances, Dag Nasty has delivered a career album that pairs the maturity of the member’s present stations with the youthful energy and fierce enthusiasm of their youth. Sixteen years in the making, Minority of One is one of the year’s standout efforts. (Revelation Records, released August 20, 2002)

Review originally published by Alt.Culture.Guide™, 2002

Buy the CD from Dag Nasty’s Minority of One

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Spotlight on Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper band
Alice Cooper band photo courtesy of Enigma Records

Alice Cooper (band) Discography:
• Pretties for You (Straight Records, 1969) *
• Easy Action (Straight Records, 1970) *
• Love It to Death (Straight Records, 1971)
• Killer (Warner Brothers, 1971)
• School's Out (Warner Brothers, 1972)
• Billion Dollar Babies (Warner Brothers, 1973)
• Muscle of Love (Warner Brothers, 1973)

* Later reissued by Enigma Records' Retro imprint, and again by Warner's Rhino Records archival label.

Alice Cooper, the band, was orignally signed to Frank Zappa's Straight Records label, home to oddball rockers like Captain Beefheart and the GTOs and hipster comedian Lord Buckley. The band – comprised of lead singer Alice (née Vince Furnier), guitarists Michael Bruce and Glen Buxton, bassist Dennis Dunaway, and drummer Neal Smith – had been kicking around the late '60s L.A. rock scene for a few years before releasing their first two albums for Straight. When neither album achieved any sort of commercial traction, the band pulled up roots and relocated to Pontiac, Michigan near Furnier's hometown of Detroit.

Alice Cooper's outrageous hard rock sound went over aces with a Rust Belt audience with a taste for honest, raucous rock 'n' roll after experiencing bands like Iggy & the Stooges, the MC5, SRC, and Ted Nugent. Working with young producer Bob Ezrin, the band scored a hit single in 1970 with their classic "I'm Eighteen," which kicked off a string of Top 40, Platinum™-selling albums that culminated in 1973's chart-topping Billion Dollar Babies. After the release of Muscle of Love – the band's fifth album in three years, the hard-touring outfit broke up.

Furnier took the "Alice Cooper" name with him out the door, launching a successful and legendary solo career with 1975's Welcome To My Nightmare, which hit #5 on the charts, and following it up with albums like Alice Cooper Goes To Hell (1976) and Flush the Fashion (1980). Cooper's solo career hit the skids during the nerf-metal decade of the '80s, though, the singer finally scoring a Top 20 album with 1989's Trash. Cooper's solo career continues to this day. The other band members didn't fare nearly as well, Bruce, Dunaway, and Smith forming the band Billion Dollar Babies, which released a single album titled Battle Axe in 1977.

The original Alice Cooper was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, the band reuniting to perform at their induction ceremony (sans Buxton, who sadly passed away in 1997 at 49 years old).