My first contribution to the POOP list- what an honor! My tastes tend to lean towards the harder stuff. Up until October, I worked for the record label, KOCH Records. Some of my picks reflect my work there. Here are my lucky 7 for 2001!
1. Kiss – Box Set
The band that turned me on to rock when I was a kid released an awesome box set this fall. They really have included every song a Kiss fan could want. This 5 disc, 94-track box set comes with a 120-page color book, including track-by-track commentary mostly by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. For the most part (give or take a track or two), each disc chronicles a certain time period of the band. Disc one features the pre-Kiss years up to 1975, disc two features 1975-1977, disc three features 1977-1982, disc four features 1983-1990, and disc five features 1991-2000. Included are demos of such Kiss classics as “Strutter,” “Deuce,” “God of Thunder,” and “Love Gun,” as well as demos of tracks that never made it to any of their albums. But it doesn’t end there; you’ll also find tracks by the pre-Kiss group Wicked Lester (including an almost unrecognizable version of “She,” a song Kiss would later re-record themselves) and selections from each members solo albums including Ace Frehley’s minor hit, “New York Groove,” plus an unreleased Kiss version of “It’s My Life” (the song was only previously available on an obscure Wendy O. Williams solo album) You also get the Kiss standards, “Black Diamond,” “Do You Love Me,” “Detroit Rock City,” “Rock and Roll All Nite,” and “I Love it Loud. Although there are some cheesy moments, Kiss was never about perfect solos, extended jams or Bob Dylan type lyrics. It’s all in good fun. Crank it up and Rock N Roll All Nite, Party Every Day!
2. U2 – – All That You Can’t Leave Behind
Yeah I know the album was released in 2000, but it was still better then most everything else I heard this year. Not much more to say about this album that hasn’t been said already. I’m sure most of you have it. They are the best band in the world.
3. Various – – Twisted Forever, A Tribute To The Legendary Twisted Sister
It’s hard for me to rate this one since I was one of the producers, (along with Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French). This album took 18 months to complete and was finally released in August to coincide with the premier of Twisted Sister, Behind The Music on VH1. Lit, Motorhead, Nashville Pussy, Nine Days, Chuck D, Anthrax, Overkill, Cradle Of Filth, Vision Of Disorder, The Step Kings, Fu Manchu, Joan Jett, Sebastian Bach, Hammerfall, Sevendust, all doing their favorite Twisted tunes. Quite an eclectic list of Twisted Sister fans! We even got Twisted Sister to reunite for the album. They did a cover of ACDC’s, “Sin City.” As with all compilations, there are a couple of clunkers. Joan Jett’s version of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” comes to mind. I remember her manager playing it for us the first time. Nobody liked it. We asked her to change a few things but she got insulted and threatened to walk away from the project. We were up against deadlines, so we didn’t have time to get someone else. That’s just one horror story from a production filled with many. When you have so many bands, managers, record labels, and lawyers involved, these albums are a nightmare to put together. The record got great reviews, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough demand for it. Production problems aside, I think the record rocks and I am very proud of it. Look for it in your local record bin.
4. Opeth – – Blackwater Park
Another band I worked with this year. The guys are from Sweden and this is their fifth album. Hailed as a masterpiece by fans and critic’s worldwide, I didn’t want to understate what this band is about. Instead, I used this review by Ed Rivadavia from Allmusic.com: “Divided not so much into songs as “movements” (as the band likes to call them), tracks start and finish in seemingly arbitrary fashion and traverse a wide musical terrain including, but not limited to, acoustic guitar and solo piano passages, ambient soundscapes, stoner rock grooves, and Eastern-tinged melodies (the vocals also run the gamut from bowel-churning grunts to melodies of chilling beauty). With all this in mind, pointing out exceptional tracks is mostly an exercise in futility, but in the spirit of first-time listeners, these are urged to start out with the Arabian-flavored riffs of “Bleak,” the memorable chorus of “The Drapery Falls,” the surprisingly gentle intro of “Dirge for November,” and finally, the all-encompassing title track. Then, with patience, the rest of the album’s grand scheme will be revealed.” Granted, the growling vocals on some of the songs turn me off at times, but the quiet moments outweigh the loud spots. If I could turn everyone on to one album this year, this would be it. This band will be huge and you can say you heard about them first in POOP.
5. Scorpions – – Acoustica
Everyone’s favorite German rockers, the Scorpions return with a live acoustic album, albeit 10 years after the unplugged craze. I picked this one up as an import. Most of the hits are here plus a few covers (Kansas’s “Dust in the Wind”, “Drive” by The Cars), and Queen’s “Love of My Life”). Critics panned this release but the sound and production are incredible. Klaus Meine is still one of the best vocalists around. In the age of Fred Durst, it’s refreshing to hear someone actually sing.
6.Vision Of Disorder – – From Bliss To Devastation
The album title sums it up for these Long Island hard-core veterans. Expecting big things this year after signing a new deal with TVT, they attempted to change their sound to reach the mainstream. Instead, they got poor label support and a thumbs down from their fans on the new sound. In my opinion they became better songwriters and this album is their best. If you are into loud aggressive vocals and raging guitars. This one is for you.
7.Bruce Dickinson – – The Best Of
Whoa! The Iron Maiden vocalist had a career outside of Maiden? This quality two disc set covers all of Bruce’s solo releases through the 90’s. There are also demo versions, live recordings, and unreleased tracks. The liner notes are also impressive, although minus some points for including lyrics to only some of the songs. This would be a good opportunity for all the old Iron Maiden fans to rediscover a great artist. Remember just because you get older, you don’t have to start listening to Jazz.!
Top singles I heard this year that made me want to checkout the full album (but never got around to)
Travis – Side
Pink – Get The Party Started
Mick Jagger – God Gave Me Everything
Top music related websites
www.allmusic.com – Should be your only stop for reviews, band bio’s, discography, production credits, etc
www.velvetrope.com – Talk about Poop! This is a discussion board for music industry insiders who think they know everything. Even Courtney Love posts.
www.metal-sludge.com – This is a parody of the magazine Metal Edge. Here you can find interviews with Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent and a bunch of other classic rockers.