The Cassette Chronicles – Baton Rouge’s ‘Shake Your Soul’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BATON ROUGE – SHAKE YOUR SOUL (1990)

The debut album from Baton Rouge came about after the band moved from Louisiana to Los Angeles and had gone through a number of name changes.

I’d like to say that I remember this album fondly but you can chalk this up to yet another latter day metal years album that I completely missed the boat on. I’d heard the band’s name back then but I wouldn’t lay odds on whether or not I ever heard their music.

The funny thing is, this is actually a better than average album for its time. The reason I say that it is funny is because while I liked the music after now having “discovered” the band, the reported reason the band ended up breaking up was due in large part to singer Kelly Keeling being unhappy with the music and the band.

Such a shame too, because Baton Rouge sure did seem to have a lot going for it on this first album. They had some really great rocking tracks featuring huge instantly memorable hook filled choruses, some great riffs from guitarist Lance Bulen and an overall sound that even now just grabs you by the ears and won’t let go.

The first side of the album did take me a bit longer to fully appreciate but the big chorus, driven by a gang backing vocal, really kicked off lead track “Doctor” nicely. That could also be said about “Bad Time Coming Down”, a rhythmic rocker that just oozes a cool vibe from start to finish.

The requisite power ballad was “It’s About Time” and while the tempo of the track tended to lean more towards the faster portions of the song, this one just didn’t do much for me at all. The brief instrumental “The Midge” was pretty inconsequential in my book too.

That said, the stand out cut on the first side of the album has to be “Walks Like A Woman”. I loved this song. Fast paced with a strong melodic hook to it, the song also has a killer chorus that darn near had me singing out loud where other people could hear me. I did manage to hold off on doing that so embarrassment at my bad singing was avoided. Still, it is a killer track!

Now when we get to the second side of the album things just get exponentially better. The second power ballad, “There Was A Time (The Storm)” follows the expected course for a song of its kind but happily enough, I found it to be halfway decent.

And that’s the only criticism I had with the second half of Shake Your Soul. The rest of the songs are all pure adrenaline fueled six string blitzes. “Baby’s So Cool” and “Young Hearts” are amazingly catchy. The choruses are memorable and Keeling’s vocals are striking. I was surprised to find that the song “Melenie” was also pretty darn memorable as well.

The album closes out with a double shot of premium rock and roll. “Spread Like Fire” was a white hot number and the song “Hot Blood Movin'” was my other favorite track (alongside “Walks Like A Woman”) on the album.

If you go strictly by sales, the album was a commercial failure. Still, the overall enjoyment of the music is not tied to how many people bought the album. Rather, the under-the-radar nature of the Shake Your Soul album will become a pleasant surprise to your ears.

 NOTES OF INTEREST – The band disbanded after two albums but a subsequent third album, which was self-titled, was released in 1997. However, according to the band’s Wikipedia page, though vocalist Kelly Keeling appears on the album as a vocalist he doesn’t consider that an official reunion of the band. He was the only original member to appear on that release. The original lineup did reunite to play the Rocklahoma festival in 2009 but never did a full reunion.

Kelly Keeling would go on to work with Blue Murder, Dokken, George Lynch and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Among the guest musicians on Shake Your Soul are drummers Joey Franco from Twisted Sister and Frankie LaRocka from Company of Wolves (a recent Cassette Chronicles featured band).

The Cassette Chronicles – Company of Wolves self-titled debut

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

COMPANY OF WOLVES – COMPANY OF WOLVES (1990)

In terms of the peak of the 80’s metal years, I’d venture to say that 1990 was the year the sadly inevitable slide downhill began in earnest. As we all know, by 1992 or so the music scene was all about the Seattle grunge sound. Still, even if the metal movement wasn’t quite as strong as it had been in the mid-to-late 1980s, there was plenty of good music being released.

Unfortunately, more than a fair share of it seems to have gone relatively undiscovered. If not by the public at large, certainly by me. Such is the likely case for why I can’t recall ever having heard anything from the band Company of Wolves. While the name seemed familiar to me, I couldn’t recall any of their music from this release, their debut album.

Now that I’ve done a little research I’ve found that they had at least two videos for songs on the album. You can find those pretty easily enough on YouTube. But the best part of finding these albums that I’ve never heard before is discovering that there’s a really great collection of tunes to be listened to for the very first time.

The album opens with what I’m guessing was the lead single. The song is “Call of the Wild” and it is one of the two videos the band has out there in cyberspace. Company of Wolves has a blues rock oriented sound and the song opens with a kind of tame/slow southern bluesy drawl from guitarist Steve Conte. After that intro, the more rocking nature of the tune is set into motion right quick and I found it to be just a really cool track. It’s got that instantly memorable chorus that you can sing along to (shhh…I eventually did just that…even with my rather spectacular inability to carry a tune). The solo is rather electric and it is just one of those very cool tracks that become an instant focal point for the listener.

Each of the two sides has six songs on it and on Side One, the band follows up that great opening track with two more rockers in “Hangin’ by a Thread” and “Jilted!” The two tracks are pretty darn good and help make for a eminently strong opening trio of songs.

The second song that the band made a video for is “The Distance”. The song has a mid-to-uptempo pace, alternating each as kind of a stop and start point. Musically speaking, I thought the song was golden but I could honestly take or leave the lyrical content.

Singer Kyf Brewer has a great voice here but sometimes what he was singing just didn’t resonate all that strongly with me. Of course, when he and the rest of the band are “on”, they turn out some great music like “Romance on the Rocks” and the Side Two opening track “Hell’s Kitchen”. Brewer’s vocal on the latter track is particularly noteworthy. On the song “I Don’t Wannna Be Loved”, the lyrics are of a more ballad like nature, but the delivery of them gives the song a more rocking intensity.

On most albums, I find myself having a preference for the last song to be a hard charging rocker in order to finish things off in an adrenaline charged climactic way. But on occasion, a band finishing with a slower kind of calming track works better and I think that song “Everybody’s Baby” accomplished that task in fine fashion.

For my money, aside from “Call of the Wild”, the best example of a rocker summing up the band perfectly is the song “My Ship”. Fast moving and crackling with energy to burn, the song is an out and out killer song.

I’d venture to say that I’m not the only one who missed out on this band and album when it was originally released given that it was their only release before they split up. But even now, nearly 30 years after the fact, the Company of Wolves album amply demonstrates that even in the twilight of the “Metal Years”, there was some prime hard rocking music to be found. It might be a missed opportunity for me from back in the day, but listening to this album now brings me back to that prime musical fandom time of my life and leaves me wanting a whole heck of a lot more.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Though the band split up in 1992, there has apparently been some kind of reunion shows done in the past and according to their Facebook page, there may be more shows and an album re-issue yet to come. You can check out their Facebook page by clicking HERE.

Though Company of Wolves only released their self-titled album before splitting up, they have had two other albums released after the band ended. The first one was a collection of demo recordings from before their first album called Shakers and Tambourines. The second (third overall) was put out in 2001 and is called Steryl Spycase. It features all new material. Both albums, as well as band shirts, appear to be available via http://www.ryfrecords.com

Singer Kyf Brewer has gone on to a solo career in music as well as playing in bands such as Barleyjuice. You can read more about him at his website http://www.kyf.com

Guitarist Steve Conte has played with a wide variety of artists before and after his time with Company of Wolves. The list includes Peter Wolf, Maceo Parker, Suzy Quatro, The New York Dolls and Michael Monroe. He’s also worked on music for anime TV series and with his own solo bands. You can learn more about him (and his brother John Conte who was the bassist for Company of Wolves) at http://www.thecontes.com, though it doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2013.

The Cassette Chronicles – FASTER PUSSYCAT’S ‘WAKE ME WHEN IT’S OVER’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

FASTER PUSSYCAT – WAKE ME WHEN IT’S OVER (1989)

I swear if you had asked me to name any Faster Pussycat songs other than “Bathroom Wall” from their first album and “House of Pain” from this album, I wouldn’t have been able to come up with an answer.

For me, Faster Pussycat was just a band that I was never all that interested in. Other than those two songs, I never felt the urge to delve further into their back catalog. And this is with having a friend who thinks singer Taime Downe is like the second coming or something.

So when I pulled Wake Me When It’s Over out of the Big Box of Cassettes, I couldn’t help but think that this could end up being a slog of an album for me to get through and then turn around and write about.

You could’ve knocked me over with a feather after I finished listening to the album however because I was really quite taken with the majority of what I heard. And I realized that I actually did know a couple of other songs without even realizing it.

The band’s second album found their sound seemingly becoming more blues rock based as opposed to the more straight up glam sound of their debut record. And though I never paid much attention to it in the past, I found that this new kind of sound was a killer road for them to take.

The album features twelve songs on it and nine of them are straight out foot to the floor rockers. Of course, as I said before, the album is best remembered for the hit ballad “House Of Pain”. And as I thought about it, I think the ballad is kind of why I never really got into the band. Or at least in part. I just didn’t like the vocal on the track. It struck me then and it still kind of strikes me now as being entirely too “whiny” in the execution of the vocal performance. I know that power ballads were a requirement and all, but this one just doesn’t sit well with me at all. The album also closes with another ballad, “Please Dear”, which is only marginally better.

But I found that when the band is just sending out one six string riff and pounding rhythm to the heart after another, this is a powerfully cool sounding collection of tunes.

The song “Where There’s A Whip, There’s A Way” is probably a theme song for any number of BDSM themed parties these days but listening to it straight out got the album off to a great start. The song “Little Dove” was also quite the cool little rocker too.

Those two songs I mentioned that it turned out I did know despite my failure to remember them were “Poison Ivy” and “Tattoo”. As each of the two tracks played, I almost immediately remembered them and could even hear myself humming the music in my head along with the tape. And I could actually remember the chorus to each song, which really surprised me.

Other than drummer Mark Michals, the band members each had at least one co-writing credit for the songs on the album. In varying combinations it was Downe and guitarists Brent Muscat and Greg Steele who did the heaviest lifting in the writing though.

The best part of the album was discovering new-to-me tracks like “Slip of the Tongue”, which I found to be one of the best tracks and probably a song that those of us who have to this day missed out on the band would point to as an “undiscovered gem”.

I’m not sure that I was totally sold on the song “Arizona Indian Doll” but it was rather intriguing nonetheless. Instead of a blues rock foundation, this one is more of a swampy bluesy song that delivers a much slower pace and lighter tone than all the other rock tracks. It takes a little bit of work to really get into the song so I’m not quite sure how to take it even as I write this article. But it does make an impression, so it can’t be that bad!

Okay, I admit it! I seem to have really missed the boat on this particular Faster Pussycat album. Taken on its own merits, this is a stunningly entertaining release. It might not fuel my desire to take in the entire discography of the band, but Wake Me When It’s Over has officially woken me up to the possibility that I may need to do more to familiarize myself with the band’s music to have a better formed opinion about them.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Drummer Mark Michals was fired from the band during the supporting tour for Wake Me When It’s Over. Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali filled in to play the rest of the dates.

The band broke up in 1993 but got back together in 2001. The reunion tour saw guitarist Greg Steele leave the band halfway through the concert trek and his place was temporarily filled by L.A. Guns guitarist Tracii Guns.

The video for “House of Pain” was directed by the now quite famous movie director Michael Bay.

The Cassette Chronicles – Quiet Riot’s ‘Condition Critical’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

QUIET RIOT – CONDITION CRITICAL – (1984)

It is no easy thing to follow up a big hit album. It is even more difficult to follow up said hit album when it reached the levels of success that Quiet Riot’s Metal Health did.

The sales and acclaim that followed that album broke down a number of barriers for other metal bands. Unfortunately for Quiet Riot themselves, it also kind of left them forever reaching for that same kind of status but never quite getting back to the top of the mountain.

I can remember eagerly waiting to hear the new Quiet Riot song. Like many fans, I was quite taken by “Cum On Feel The Noize” and “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”, so I definitely wanted to see what Quiet Riot would do next.

While their cover of the Slade song “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” got radio and video airplay, it was really the only song on the album that got any reaction at all. I know that beyond that song, I failed to pay attention to anything else from this album. Heck, I never even bought Condition Critical back then. I only got it when I picked it up to do this article.

It would seem I wasn’t alone in this regard either. Looking up the sales information, Condition Critical did end up going platinum but that’s about 1/6th what the Metal Health album sold and thus the bloom was off the rose.

But in retrospect, was the album as bad as the original reaction to it would have you believe? I guess that would depend on just what you were looking for. I think it is obvious that the 2nd Slade cover was a bid to keep that particular vein of success open. And it is probably their most recognizable song other than their two biggest hits.

In hindsight that stretches back nearly 35 years, I think the problem with the album lays in the first side. Besides the “Mama” song, there’s not much to get all that fired up about. The album opens with a song called “Sign Of The Times” and while it would seem to have the requisite components to represent a Quiet Riot song (loud guitar, screaming vocal, big backing vocal sound, etc.), it felt to me like it was a paint by numbers track. There was just nothing inspiring about it at all. The same can be said about “Party All Night” and “Winners Take All”.

I will say that “Clap Your Feet, Stomp Your Hands” had a really ear grabbing rhythmic swing to it. Surrounding that with a whole lot of rocking power made the song a pretty good listen.

But I’d imagine by the time the first side of the album ended, many fans had sort of tuned out. And unfortunately, that might’ve been a mistake.

I was kind of dreading the second side of the album myself but I have to say that I really did like Side Two. The title track had an edgy darker feel to it. I’ve never heard the song before now and I really want to go back and listen a few more times because it just has something that grabs you.

The foot rarely leaves the gas pedal with rockers like “Red Alert” and “Bad Boy”. The anthem “(We Were) Born To Rock” features that huge backing vocal sound and that helps readily infuse the song with an extra bit of metallic fuel.

But if you really want to catch what I think is the stand out track on Condition Critical, you have got to check out “Scream and Shout”. It’s all frenzy and fury on the song as the band really seems to cut loose without the slightest hesitation. It is likely a track that not a lot of people paid much attention to, but for me I’d throw it out there as one of Quiet Riot’s best songs.

Judging Condition Critical as a whole is definitely not an easy thing. It is by no means perfect and at times, you can really see where the band went wrong with the songs that were put on the album. As you look back, you can definitely understand why this album, despite the platinum level sales, is seen as a bit of a failure for the band.

However, maybe after the passage of so much time, fans need to take another look at the album to realize that when it actually hit its mark, there are a number of rock solid songs to enjoy and as a whole, the album isn’t quite as bad as it was originally thought.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Bassist Chuck Wright was not a member of Quiet Riot at the time of Condition Critical but he did provide backing vocals for the album. He’s been in and out of the official lineup a number of times over the years but he has been a part of the latest incarnation of Quiet Riot since 2010.

The 2012 Rock Candy Records remastered release of the album had four live songs included as bonus tracks

For those in the same local area as I am, Quiet Riot is set to play The Vault Music Hall & Pub in New Bedford, MA on July 25th, 2019.

King’s X bring the ‘groove machine” to the Vault in New Bedford, Ma

The mighty rock trio King’s X return to the road this summer with a date at The Vault Music Hall at Greasy Luck in New Bedford, MA, on July 9, 2019. Purchase tickets HERE.

Few hard rock bands are as widely respected yet criminally overlooked as King’s X. The band, which combines progressive rock and soul with vocal arrangements influenced by gospel, blues and British Invasion groups, still features original members Doug Pinnick (vocals/bass), Ty Tabor (guitar) and Jerry Gaskill (drums). They were ranked #83 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock and released over a dozen albums featuring the radio hits “Over My Head,” “It’s Love,” “Black Flag” and “Dogman.”

King’s X released their first studio album, “Out of the Silent Planet,” in 1988. Despite being hailed by music critics, the album didn’t fare well commercially, peaking at #144 on the Billboard album charts. The band’s 1989 sophomore release, “Gretchen Goes to Nebraska,” fared slightly better from a commercial standpoint. Significantly, the song “Over My Head” received moderate airplay on MTV and radio. The increase in exposure would prove beneficial when the band released their third album, “Faith, Hope, Love,” in the fall of 1990.

“Faith, Hope, Love” was the group’s first album to crack the US Top 100, with the help of the successful single “It’s Love”. The band landed a gig opening for AC/DC in the U.S. and Europe for the first half of 1991. They also toured with Living Colour and were nearing the peak of their popularity.

King’s X signed with major label Atlantic Records for their next self-titled release. After parting ways with their longtime manager, the band enlisted veteran producer Brendan O’Brien, who had previously produced albums for Stone Temple Pilots and Pearl Jam. The ensuing release, “Dogman,” performed respectfully on the charts. This success resulted in the band opening shows for Pearl Jam and a show-stopping performance on the opening night of the mammoth Woodstock ’94 festival

King’s X completed their contract with Atlantic Records with “Ear Candy” in 1996, before moving to Metal Blade Records where they released four studio albums and one live release. The band’s latest studio albums, “Ogre Tones” (2005) and “XV” (2008), were released on the InsideOut label. “XV” was their first album since “Ear Candy” to chart on the Billboard Top 200. A book, called “King’s X: The Oral History,” was recently released and the band will enter the studio to record a new album this spring.

The Vault Music Hall at Greasy Luck is located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. Patrons have raved about the superior acoustics and intimate setting.

 

 

The Cassette Chronicles – BRUCE HORNSBY AND THE RANGE ‘THE WAY IT IS’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BRUCE HORNSBY AND THE RANGE – THE WAY IT IS (1986)

It has always seemed strange to me that Bruce Hornsby and the Range had such a stellar out of the gates start to their career with their debut release and yet for all intents and purposes never came close to duplicating their success with any of their future releases. I know that sales are not the only determining factor for the quality of an album but I always wondered how this album could go triple platinum in the US and then nothing else that the group released seemed to strike the same chord with listeners.

I was even more surprised to learn that when doing a bit of research for this piece, the album pop music listeners heard was actually the second version of the album. The Way It Is was apparently originally marketed towards the New Age market and the album had different artwork along with a couple songs having different versions that didn’t make it to the remixed edition that most people who actually bought the album ended up hearing.

The strength of the album’s success is found in three songs that found success as singles. This would include the all-time classic title cut. The song “The Way It Is” (which hit #1) is one of the first pop music tracks I can recall hearing that had what is now referred to as “socially conscious” lyrics. Of course, there are probably many songs from earlier days that would fit this description but this is the first one that comes to mind for my own personal experience. And there is no doubt that it is a great song. Even now when it comes on the radio station I listen to at work, I still find myself humming along to the song.

There was also the song “Every Little Kiss”, a more uptempo track that broke the Top 20 at #14. And though it wasn’t quite as successful as the title track, the #3 charting “Mandolin Rain” is my favorite song from the band. Though I have to make sure others aren’t in range of my terrible singing voice, whenever I get the chance to listen to the song, I sing along…badly, but I sing along.

Now, those are the songs that I can honestly recall from listening to on the radio back in 1986. I never actually owned the album, so I was happy to note that there were a few other tracks I really got to enjoy as if I was hearing them for the first time. The album opener “On The Western Skyline” is a real fast paced song that is likely one of the group’s more rocking numbers and it kicked things off in a grand fashion. I vaguely recalled the chorus for “The Long Race” but couldn’t tell you why or where I’d ever heard it before.

The second side of the album had a couple of songs that hit like a thud for me but then you had “The River Runs Low” which featured a slightly spare musical arrangement to accompany Hornsby’s remarkably assured and smooth singing. Also, the band got a little fiery in their performance for the song “The Wild Frontier” another rocking cut.

The funny thing about this album is that I’d been looking to add it to my music collection on CD. I was finally able to get it when I was offered a copy of it from a fellow member of a group I belong to on Facebook for fans of the compact disc. But then I discovered I’d purchased a cassette version of the album and forgotten all about it. So I was pretty happy to pull it out of the big box I store the albums for this series in. Pure happenstance but when you get to listen to a remarkable sounding collection of tunes like those on The Way It Is, owning two copies doesn’t seem like such a bad thing.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The band won the Grammy for Best New Artist on the strength of this album.

Huey Lewis produced three of the songs on The Way It Is. They were “The River Runs Low”, “The Long Race” and “Down The Road Tonight”. The latter song also featured Lewis playing harmonica and making a vocal appearance as well.

The Cassette Chronicles – SCORPIONS ‘BLACKOUT’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

SCORPIONS – BLACKOUT (1982)

As I prepared to listen to this particular album from the Scorpions, I had to do some thinking. What I found after that little thought session was that despite the band’s 50 plus year career, there are really only two periods where I can truly say that I was a full-fledged member of the band’s fandom.

I know, it struck me funny as well! But I really didn’t get into the band until I heard “Rock You Like A Hurricane” from their Love At First Sting album. Add in the World Wide Live and Savage Amusement and you have the first era of my fandom. The second part comes from their most recent output, three out of their last four albums are releases that I’ve loved.

So it came as no small surprise when I realized that I’d never actually heard the full Blackout album before. Yes, of course I’ve heard the classic tracks that got airplay back in the day. But they all came after I’d gotten the Love At First Sting album in my blood.

The first time listening to this particular album did make for an interesting experience. I can see why the album eventually went platinum because two stone cold classics on the album with the title track cuts a blazing swath out of the speakers and is one of their more hard driving rockers.  As for the song “No One Like You”, it struck me as the start of the more commercially accessible foundation the band perfected with their next two studio albums. It is a song that has over the decades become one of my all-time favorite songs from the Scorpions.

Of course, then came songs like the kicking rocker “Dynamite”, which is another song that I distinctly recall hearing at some point, though I couldn’t pinpoint exactly when. The song opens up side two in fiery fashion and is probably the one true standout track on that particular side as, and I know this might be a bit blasphemous for long time fans of the band, I didn’t really care for the last three songs “Arizona”, “China White” and “The Smoke Is Going Down”. 

Well, I suppose that “The Smoke Is Going Down” isn’t all that bad, but by the time the seven minute exercise in boredom (to me anyway), a.k.a. “China White”,  finished inflicting itself on my ears, it was hard to really appreciate the song on its own merits.

Of course, that was how the album ended but before that point, I got to hear “Can’t Live Without You”, which is another rocking track that I know I’ve heard over the years but can’t really place when I first heard it. I also got to discover the song “Now!”, a song that is one of the fastest tracks I can ever remember the band playing. And I loved how the vocal turn from Klaus Meine on this particular song saw him spewing out the lyrics in a rat-a-tat-tat style. It closed out side one of the album in a really fire up the adrenaline kind of way.

Now I know that the album is considered one of the band’s best albums so I was a little disheartened that I can’t say I feel the same way because of those closing three tracks. But for the songs that I did like, or rather loved, Blackout is a Scorpions album that I’m glad I finally got off my rear end and gave a full on listen to!

NOTES OF INTEREST:  Klaus Meine lost his voice during the writing sessions for the album. According to the Internet Research Machine, the band reportedly used Don Dokken to sing the vocal tracks for the demos when it was unknown if Meine would regain his voice.

While Meine and Herman Rarebell are credited with writing or co-writing the lyrics for the album, guitarist Rudolf Schenker composed all the music. The guitar solo he plays on “China White” has two versions, one for the US release and one for the version of the album that was released in Europe.

When the band reissued a number of their albums in 2015 to coincide with their 50th anniversary as a group, the Blackout album contained four demos as bonus tracks.

 

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!