[Album Review] "The Spaghetti Incident" – Guns N Roses

The Spaghetti Incident - Guns N RosesAlbum Title: The Spaghetti Incident
Artist: Guns N Roses
Year: 1993
Running Time: 46m 9s

Track listing: 1 Since I Don’t Have You; 2 New Rose; 3 Down on the Farm; 4 Human Being; 5 Raw Power; 6 Ain’t It Fun; 7 Buick Makane; 8 Hair of the Dog; 9 Attitude; 10 Black Leather; 11 You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory; 12 I Don’t Care About You

In the career of Guns N Roses, the names always changed and identified the guilty. After Matt Sorum replaced Steven Adler in 1990, the second and most telling personnel change was Gilby Clarke stepping into the breach to replace Izzy Stradlin. Stradlin actually left the band after the recording of the 1991 “Illusion” albums and it was Clarke who toured with the band. Clarke was now in the studio for the first time with the band recording this collection of punk cover versions.

This is easily Guns N Roses worst album, so it’s a relief I suppose that they didn’t write any of the songs. When you are the biggest band in the world you can practically do what you want, and when GnR released ‘The Spaghetti Incident’, they were still held in reasonably high regard.

Things are heavy here, no doubt. Punk is not known for its melody and indeed there is little on show. When things do rock it’s normally because the riffs are so loud and in your face that you can’t help getting lifted by it. ‘New Rose’, ‘Down on the Farm’, ‘Raw Power’ and ‘Attitude’ are the standout rockers, while ‘Since I Don’t Have You’ and ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory’ are more introspective.

‘I Don’t Care About You’ is just a band romp that’s fun to listen to but tunes like ‘Black Leather’, ‘Human Being’ and ‘Buick Makane’ are not very good songs and therein lies the problem.

It’s cheap and cheerful if you want to pick a copy up out of interest and that’s the only reason I’m giving this two stars.

2star

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[Album Review] "By Your Side" – The Black Crowes

By Your Side - Black CrowesAlbum Title: By Your Side
Artist: Black Crowes
Year: 1998
Running Time: 44m 55s

Track listing: 1 Go Faster; 2 Kickin’ My Heart Around; 3 By Your Side; 4 HorseHead; 5 Only A Fool; 6 Heavy; 7 Welcome to the Goodtimes; 8 Go Tell the Congregation; 9 Diamond Ring; 10 Then She Said My Name; 11 Virtue and Vice

The Black Crowes came to prominence at a time when rock music was in vogue. At the turn of the nineties, and prior to the big grunge explosion, bands that could play a hard tune and have an image and attitude to match were topping the charts. Guns N Roses and Aerosmith were leading this charge and were soon joined by the Crowes. With their debut album, “Shake Your Money Maker”, they brought blues-rock to the forefront – ‘Jealous Again’, ‘Hard to Handle’ and ‘She Talks to Angels’ were all massive hits in the charts and on MTV.

They continued this success with “The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion” which spawned the raunchy ‘Remedy’. But things degenerated as rumours of drug problems became bigger news than the music. Their next two albums, “Amorica” and “Three Snakes and One Charm” failed to break the grunge and indie dominance and were only moderately received by the press. Many believed that their 1998 album “By Your Side” could be their last throw of the dice…

It’s fair to say that this is a hefty return to form even if the formula remains pretty much unchanged; expert rhythms, tuneful guitar and organs, tasty harmonica and rich vocal performances. The outstanding tracks are numerous. ‘Heavy’ is completely irrepressible, a great all-round band effort with a knockout riff, super chorus and back-to-form vocal diarrhoea form Chris Robinson. The title track, an ivory-tinged upbeat power ballad, is pretty tasty, as is the closing track, ‘Virtue and Vice’ – the latter a gritty, brilliantly composed tale of what it’s like to lack self-confidence in a relationship.

Things rock when required, the appropriately named ‘Go Faster’ is a good time groove with scorching guitar and harmonica and ‘Then She Said My Name’ has a cute hook. The hardest track on show is probably ‘HorseHead’ – thumping effects from Steve Gorman, deafening guitar from Rich Robinson and a hefty bassline from Sven Pipien – but yet it never seems out of place.

The Rolling Stones are revived with the bluesy ‘Diamond Ring’ and there is two very opposite sounds back-to-back with ‘Welcome to the Goodtimes’ and ‘Go Tell the Congregation’. The former could have been derived from a Christmas Carol while the latter is a riff-based straight-forward rocker. Not too bad, if not hugely imaginative.

A few groans could be heard with regard to the first single, ‘Kickin My Heart Around’ which is pretty disappointing – maybe the weakest track on show – a tired sound and mid-tempo riff, despite some good vocals from Chris Robinson. Shame that it was chosen to showcase the album.

And there you have it. A great package, it has to be said. Thankfully the polish and musical prowess that the Crowes posses has been rewarded with some great tunes for the first time in about 3 albums. The lyrics are nothing to write home about but were they ever? Just enjoy the music.

3halfstar

[Album Review] "A Little South of Sanity" – Aerosmith

A Little South of Sanity - AerosmithAlbum Title: A Little South of Sanity
Artist: Aerosmith
Year: 1998
Running Time: 115m 41s

Track listing: [DISC 1] 1 Eat The Rich; 2 Love In An Elevator; 3 Falling In Love (is Hard on the Knees); 4 Same Old Song and Dance; 5 Hole In My Soul; 6 Monkey On My Bank; 7 Livin on the Edge; 8 Cryin; 9 Rag Doll; 10 Angel; 11 Janie’s Got a Gun; 12 AmazingĀ  [DISC 2] 1 Back in the Saddle; 2 Last Child; 3 The Other Side; 4 Walk On Down; 5 Dream On; 6 Crazy; 7 Mama Kin; 8 Walk This Way; 9 Dude (Looks Like a Lady); 10 What It Takes; 11 Sweet Emotion

Aerosmith have long one been one of the finest live bands on the circuit. Of course, that may not have quite been the case in the late seventies when many shows were abandoned, postponed or cancelled due to Steven Tyler’s constant on-stage collapses and drug-induced incoherent babbling. This double live album covers the entire 25 year career of the band and captures a typical set list from start to finish. The seamless performance has been lifted from several shows from the last two tours.

It’s a triple-whammy of rockers to start us off. The mediocre 1993 opener ‘Eat The Rich’ doesn’t sound too bad and it’s followed by raunch-classic, ‘Love in an Elevator’ and the horn-ridden 1997 single, ‘Falling in Love’. There’s a throw back to 1974 with the classic ‘Same Old Song and Dance’ and an average version of the ‘Dream On’-esque, ‘Hole in my Soul’.

The best tracks on the first CD are the brilliant ‘Monkey On My Back’ – a song that struggled to make the cut for the “Pump” album, but has managed to maintain a regular spot on the set list and a place on the ‘semi-classic’ list of Aero-tracks – and the sassy 1987 single, ‘Rag Doll’, which is performed with extra funk…hold the ennui.

‘Angel’, ‘Janie’ and ‘Amazing’ round off the first CD in a rather low key manner. Not sure I’d place any of them in my dream Aerosmith show, as all three sound better in the studio.

Long-time fans will enjoy the second disc more. ‘Back in the Saddle’ and ‘Last Child’ are both rousingly performed and other seventies classics, ‘Walk This Way’, ‘Mama Kin’ and ‘Sweet Emotion’ sound as fresh and exciting today as they must have 20-odd years ago. There are plenty of other hits here like ‘Dude’, ‘What It Takes’ and ‘Crazy’ and Joe Perry grabs the mic for a rendition of his 1993 tune, ‘Walk On Down’ – not the worlds greatest singer but he does an average song reasonable justice all the same.

It’s a super collection of tunes but live albums are generally just interesting diversions, and this one is no different. The studio versions are the ones I will nearly always turn back to. A live show is all about crowd participation and the whole ambiance of ‘being there’. Unfortunately, a CD does not quite give the same feeling – unless you have a great imagination…

3star