Posts Tagged ‘CD’

marshall mathers lpWhen Eminem’s new album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 was released yesterday, it inspired me to revisit the very first The Marshall Mathers LP for this week’s Album Of The Week. I chose this album because when it was released back in 2000, it didn’t leave my CD player for months. Eminem was coming off the success of his second album The Slim Shady LP which saw Eminem sell over 243,000 copies in it’s first week and he won two Grammy’s (best rap album and best rap solo performance). This album was a little different than the Shady LP because it was more autobiographical in it’s lyrical content and a lot more of the songs were a little darker than the over the top lyrics we had before. The album was produced by The 45 King, Bass Brothers, Dr. Dre (executive producer), Eminem, and Mel-Man and it featured 18 tracks with four being skits. The first half of the record was produced by Dr. Dre and Mel-Man while the second half was produced mainly by Eminem and the Bass Brothers with Stan being produced by The 45 King.

MI0000280511Public Service Announcement is the first track and it’s the first skit of the album lasting only 24 seconds. It’s Eminem telling the public service announcer what to say until he interjects in the end. Kill You is the next track on the record and its another track where he explores his relationship struggles with his mother over a basic beat to emphasize his rapping abilities. Stan is one of the most famous tracks on the record about a fan that claims to be his biggest fan. Eminem for the first three verses voices the character as he writes letters to Eminem, but after not getting any responses, he gets angrier and eventually commits murder and suicide. The track samples a line from Dido’s Thank You as it’s bass line and Dido is featured in the chorus. Paul is another skit on the record and it’s the executive of the label telling him that he received a copy of the record and he’s about to give his opinion and he says “F*** It” and hangs up. Who Knew is one of the tracks on the record that explores his effect on American kids and society as it’s another song with a stripped down beat. Steve Berman is the third skit where Eminem is grilled about the content of the album. The Way I Am is one of the best songs on the record and it’s the first song where Eminem solely produced the track and the beat that you hear. It’s Eminem rapping about how people are putting too much pressure on him from fans to executives. He even mentions in the track how Marilyn Manson was wrongly blamed for the shootings in Columbine.

eminem_-_the_marshall_mathers_lp_us-cdThe Real Slim Shady was a track that was written and recorded hours before the final copy was due. With it’s basic keyboard like beat, he name drops so many celebrities as he talks about what is wrong with pop society back in 2000 from Tom Green humping a dead moose to Pamela Anderson claiming to being beaten by her ex-husband Tommy Lee. Remember Me is a track with a funky bass line that features RBX and Sticky Fingaz (Onyx). I’m Back is another track that explores his rise to the top and how super stardom sucks. Marshall Mathers starts with a dark guitar riff as Eminem raps about how he doesn’t understand why people care about how him now. Ken Kaniff is a dirty skit about the internet creep getting sexual intercourse from the Insane Clown Posse. Drug Ballad has a real funky beat to it as Eminem raps about his drug habits. Amityville has an old school hip hop beat to it with the drum machine as Eminem introduces us to Horrorcore rap and the track features Bizarre. Bitch Please II is the only track to feature Snoop Dogg on a Eminem track, but it also features Dr. Dre, Xzibit, and Nate Dogg on the track as well.

MMLP9Kim starts with Eminem talking to baby Haley before it turns violent with Eminem rapping about hurting Kim (his ex-wife). It’s considered the prequel to ’97 Bonnie & Clyde as Eminem screams his rap the whole time. Under The Influence introduces us to Eminem’s group of friends and comrades in D12 as they spit some serious rhymes. Criminal is the last track on the album and it answers all his critics who think his lyrics are too dark and vulgar. It also brought some controversy along as there is some lines that GLAAD had a serious problem with. For example, “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/That’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or les…Hate fags?/The answer’s yes.” The song even contains a part where he robs a convenient store where he promises that he won’t shoot the girl as she hands him money and he ends up shooting her anyways. This is definitely one of the best Eminem albums that he had ever released in my opinion. That is why for a final grade I am giving it 4.5 stars out of five.

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The original banned cover

For this week’s album of the week, I wanted to pick an album that had changed the landscape and sort of brought some legitimacy back to the sunset strip scene. The scene had become too over-saturated with bands that cared about the way they looked rather than the music they played. That is where Guns N Roses comes into the picture,a band that was staring the LA scene down and saying that they weren’t going to follow those rules. Guns N Roses were the biggest badasses in LA at a time where a band like Poison ruled the scene. The band was made up of five guys who were different in their looks and personalities, but man were they a force to be reckon with. Axl Rose (Vocals) and Izzy Stradlin (Rhythm Guitar) left their homes in Indiana to pursue rock and roll stardom where they would join forces with a punk rocker in Duff McKagan (Bass), wild child Steven Adler (Drums), and the cool and collective man who went by just one name, Slash (Guitar). One of the coolest stories about the band coming together was the fact that Slash was supposed to audition for their eventual rivals Poison, but when he heard he had to wear make up, Slash said no way and he left. The album is one of the highest selling debut albums of all time and has been certified platinum 18 times with an overall worldwide sales equally 30.5 million copies.

File:Welcometothejungle.jpgThe iconic Welcome To The Jungle, a tale about a person who visits a big city for the first time and the things he learns opens up the album. The breakdown or main riff originated from a song Duff had written when he was in a punk band called The Vains. The high energy It’s So Easy follows as the next track in a song about a time in where the band was broke, but they had plenty of girls to live off of. Nightrain an anthem that serves as a tribute to a cheap, but infamous bottle of California wine with Izzy Stradlin playing the lead intro and the first half of the guitar solo. Out Ta Get Me is a track about all the trouble that Axl went through while living in Indiana. It’s also one of the fastest songs written by the band which means it was written in under three minutes. Mr. Brownstone is the first song the band wrote after they were signed by Geffen Records. The song explores a day in the life of Heroin addicts with Brownstone being slang for the drug. It’s one of the most iconic songs GNR wrote besides the aforementioned Welcome To The Jungle and the next track. Paradise City is an a true rock and roll anthem that as a fan of the genre you cannot ignore it’s awesomeness. The song was written in the back of a van when the band was making a return trip home from a gig in San Francisco. The style of the song has the ascending chromatic riff style while it’s the only song on the album to feature a synthesizer.

gnr 3The next track on the record is a dark tale about a friend named Michelle. Of course, you knew I was talking about My Michelle which was written after Axl and this friend had heard the song Your Song by Elton John. She had apparently said she wished someone would write a song about her and sure enough Axl did. Surprisingly to the dismay of Slash, she loved the song. Think About You isn’t a ballad, but it’s a rock and roll anthem begging for lovin from someone special. You’re Crazy is one of the fastest songs in GNR’s repertoire that was originally recorded as a slower acoustic track.  Sweet Child Of Mine might be the most overplayed GNR song that has ever existed and it’s their only US number one single. The song is played according to wikipedia in “D (D-Flat)/C (C-sharp) mixolydian, which is a mode of G♭/F♯ major.” In a issue of Hit Parader Duff told them, “The thing about ‘Sweet Child o’ Mine,’ it was written in five minutes. It was one of those songs, only three chords. You know that guitar lick Slash does at the beginning? It was kinda like a joke because we thought, ‘What is this song? It’s gonna be nothing, it’ll be filler on the record.’ And except that vocal-wise, it’s very sweet and sincere, Slash was just fuckin’ around when he first wrote that lick.”

gnrAnything Goes is one of the earliest written GNR songs as it was written in 1981 and even played by Hollywood Rose. I call it a mix of dirty rock and roll and some punk rock attitude mixed in with it. Rocket Queen is the most legendary song on the record for what I am going to say. In an interview with Hit Parader Axl told them, “I wrote this song for this girl who was gonna have a band and she was gonna call it Rocket Queen. She kinda kept me alive for a while. The last part of the song is my message to this person, or anybody else who can get something out of it. It’s like there’s hope and a friendship note at the end of the song. For that song there was also something I tried to work out with various people—a recorded sex act. It was somewhat spontaneous but premeditated; something I wanted to put on the record.” During the recording of the song, Axl took Steven Adler’s girlfriend at the time, Adriana Smith, and had sex with her in the booth. Those are the moans that you hear in the track. It is definitely one of the greatest debut albums by any band, but unfortunately they could keep the act going. I believe that they would have been the biggest band ever, but you know how it goes in show business. I am going to give the album five stars out of five because it is that iconic.

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File:Queensryche - Operation Mindcrime cover.jpgSince I had already reviewed Queensrÿche’s new album with Todd La Torre, I figured I would choose one of my all time favorite Queensrÿche albums entitled Operation: Mindcrime. This album featured Geoff Tate, Chris DeGarmo, Michael Wilton, Eddie Jackson, and Scott Rockenfield. It was the progressive metal band’s third release that came out on May 3, 1988 and it was a concept record and a rock opera. The best description of the story is as follows, “its story following a recovering drug addict who becomes disillusioned with the society of his time and reluctantly becomes involved with a revolutionary group as an assassin of political leaders.” The album was a success and has only been performed in it’s entirety on two tours (Empire 90 and Mindcrime II 2006) and I Don’t Believe In Love was nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal performance.

a2The album starts off with two intros in Remember Now and Anarchy X. I Remember Now starts off in the hospital where the nurse administers a shot to a patient. Then we hear, “I remember now, I remember how it started. I can’t remember yesterday, I just remember doing what they told me.” as it fades into the metal cadence of Anarchy X where you get some audio of protests. Revolution Calling is one of the best songs on the record and it’s very political in it’s lyrics. The lyrics basically describe how pissed he is at the system and how it let’s us down. It features some of the best guitar playing I have ever heard from the band. The title track on the album starts off with the phone ringing and the opening riff to the song starts. He hangs up the phone and it rings again, this time we can’t escape the riff. The opening riff has a wicked bass line from Jackson and the solo in this song is phenomenal  The lyrics are about how Dr. X uses the word Mindcrime to make Nikki do his dirty work. Speak is the next track on the record and it opens with some killer guitar work before it calms down. The riff has this intense build up like something big is about to happen. Spreading The Disease is one of my favorite songs that talks about the origins of Sister Mary with a riff that has hard rock swagger with razor sharp riffs. One of my favorite parts comes later in the track where everything stops, but the drums. All you can hear is Geoff saying, “Religion and sex are powerplays, Manipulate the people for the money they pay. Selling skin, selling god, the numbers look the same on their credit cards. Politicians say no to drugs, While we pay for wars in south america.” Meanwhile while this is happening you get some clean guitars before it explodes back with Geoff’s amazing vocal range. The Mission starts with our main character loading a gun while a evangelist preaches about God. We hear our main character ask God for forgiveness before he shoots his gun. The song opens with some haunting guitars mixed with an occasional bass thump. Then before you know they explode right into the track like a bullet from a gun. The harmonizing the band utilizes through multi tracking is amazing, it gives a great effect for the listener. Suite

File:Queensryche - I Don't Believe In Love cover.jpgSuite Sister Mary is a ten minute opus by the band that starts with Dr. X’s instructions for Nicki to kill Sister Mary. Then you get some omen type stuff while the clean guitars are playing before the guitars come in like thunder. While Geoff sings you get instances of Sister Mary (Pamela Moore) talking to Nicki. The song is epic in where it has climatic parts with Pamela laying some vocals down as well. The Needle Lies contains some of that old school Queensryche from the first EP that’s razor fast and pretty kick ass. Electric Requiem is an intro track that leads right into Breaking The Silence. Breaking The Silence is an amazing track that sort of foreshadows where the band will eventually go with Empire when it comes to their sound. I Don’t Believe In Love is another of my favorite tracks on the record that is just a straight up rock classic that is played in D Minor. Waiting For 22 and My Empty Room are intros that will lead into one of the best tracks on the whole album Eyes Of A Stranger. It’s got that iconic bass riff that starts the track off before DeGarmo and Wilton kick into heavy metal overdrive. The track was recorded in  E minor, with a short interlude in F# minor near the beginning of the track. and it also summarizes the whole story in a nutshell. What else can be said about the album other than the fact that it’s iconic. I give the album 5 stars out of five.  

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File:Iron Maiden - Somewhere in Time.jpg

I’m not sure exactly how many people were a big fan of this album and what the initial reception was because I was only four years old when the album was originally released. As a child with significantly older brothers that were into metal, I could name the beast on the album cover because we shared the same first name, but I couldn’t name any of the members at the time. I remember it was the summer of 1990 and I went with my mother to a flea, hoping that she was going to buy me something cool. Instead of wanting a toy at the age of 8, I asked her to buy me three cassettes. She bought me Kiss’s Asylum, Motley Crue’s Dr. Feelgood, and Iron Maiden’s Somewhere In Time. I was a huge nut for Motley Crue (believe it or not) when I was a little kid, but there was something about this album that just amazed me when I placed it in the tape deck.

The Full Album Cover
Courtesy of Weareprivate.net

The album was a little different for Iron Maiden in that it was the first time they had used synthesizers and it was the first album with Bruce Dickinson that he didn’t have one song credit to his name. Bruce, I guess had written some acoustic versions of songs that ended up getting rejected by the rest of the band during the writing process. The album is very notable for having full songs that were written by Adrian Smith, who wrote the albums two singles. It amazing too because the two songs he wrote were my two favorite songs on the album (Wasted Years and Stranger In A Strange Land)It was also the first album not to be released a year after the last one as Harris had stated that he wanted to band to be able to have time to do the record right. Sadly, Iron Maiden pretty much abandoned the album when it came to live shows only playing Wasted Years and Heaven Can Wait.

Back Cover
Courtesy of Flickr

The artwork for the album is what really got me interested in buying the album because Eddie was made into a cyborg like hunter. The regular artist of the band Derek Riggs in my opinion made an album cover that could hold a diehard fan’s attention for a longtime as you found all of the goodies that were laid on the cover. I’ll give you a couple of examples. A banner with the words, “This is a very boring painting” is displayed backwards within the lobby of the Bradbury Towers Hotels International. This can be seen to the left of Eddie’s right leg. The last example is An Eye of Horus neon sign at the top of a building, is a reference to the song, “Powerslave”. Those are just two examples of many that can be seen and as an eight year old kid, it sure as heck kept me busy for a long time. One thing that I will say before I get into the songs themselves is that I felt that a lot of Iron Maiden songs were like history lessons and this album had an example of that right in it.

File:Stranger in a Strange Land.jpgAs I had stated before, my two favorite songs on the album were the Wasted Years and Stranger In A Strange Land. Wasted Years starts out with Adrian’s trademark intro riff that displays what a masterful guitar player he is before you hear it kick in to the song about how the last tour had brought so much baggage, but in the end it was a decision the band doesn’t regret. It’s a song that no matter how many times I hear it, I still enjoy playing air guitar to. Stranger In A Strange Land contains some real epic riffs from Smith and even though it doesn’t feature Harris’s galloping bass lines, his playing in the intro of the song is still amazing and it gets you in the mood to head bang. The track is about a man that gets frozen in ice only to be discovered 100 years later by other explorer’s. Caught Somewhere In Time is another great track that starts the album which features some epic riffing and some galloping bass. Sea Of Madness featured more epic and funky bass playing from Harris with an amazing pre-chorus and some blazing  power chords. Alexander The Great starts with the King telling his son to conquer more land for a bigger kingdom before it breaks into the very slow guitar riff with Nicko playing a cadence military style drumming.  Then the epic guitar playing comes in before the madness begins. It’s a great history lesson from the professors.

Deja-Vu starts the same way as Alexander The Great did without the intro and military drumming. It’s a song that is about exactly what the title suggests, feel like you’ve been here before? Heaven Can Wait  is another epic song about realizing that you’re slowly dying, but you fight death because you refuse to die and their’s a part after the chorus that just makes you want to chant along with Maiden. The only song I was never crazy for was The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner because I never felt a song about track was cool enough for Metal. Overall, I give this album a final grade of 4 stars out of 5 as this was the last album from Maiden that I enjoyed from beginning to end until A Matter Of Life And Death.