Friday, August 31, 2007

Rare CD: John Parr "John Parr"

I can see a new horizon
Underneath the blazin' sky
I'll be where the eagle's flyin' higher and higher
Gonna be your man in motion
All I need is a pair of wheels
Take me where my future's lyin' - St. Elmo's Fire

Wait! You pay over $50 bucks for a John Parr CD and his best hit isn't even on it?! Well, that is one reason why we have this feature here on this blog. On his self-titled CD pictured here, you will find the inane top 40 hit, "Naughty Naughty." The good news is that if you want to hear St. Elmo's Fire now that I planted the seed in your head, the soundtrack is readily available in the bargain bins at most stores.

This CD (released in 1984) is out of print and hard to find, yet still heavily sought after by collectors and 80s music fans alike. I admit I would not mind getting myself a copy since, like most people, I did enjoy his contribution to St. Elmo's Fire and most of his 1986 effort, "Running the Endless Mile" CD (which, incidentally, is not so rare).

"John Parr" recently sold on ebay for $50. Not bad considering the cheapest used one is nearly $70 at Amazon. Too rich for my blood...

UPDATE 3-25-08: One sells for $43.31 on ebay (10 bids).

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Preview: Eagles new video "How Long"

Not bad...strong country vibe, as one might expect from this legendary group. I like this single a lot better than that dreadful "Hole in the World" tune a couple years ago. This is from the new 2-CD release slated for October 30 and entitled, "Long Road Out of Eden".

Music Videos - How Long

Review: Hinder "Extreme Behavior"

So in case you haven't heard yet, Hinder is a modern alternative/hard rock outfit from Oklahoma. They put this CD out in 2005, but it really did not pick up much steam until the 2006 hit "Lips of An Angel." These guys are kind of an enigma: tough sounding with a vocalist who sounds like he's constipated and on the john after having eaten a dozen cheese graters. Yet, I bet their lyrics were written in crayon. This is probably what has earned them a lot of bad press, but hey - the formula works on the masses. And you can't knock them for having the best album cover of 2005, hands down. The CD has gone 2x platinum and spawned the additional chart hits "Better Than Me" and "Homecoming Queen."

The marketing behind this effort was exceptional...making the first (justifiably failed) single "Get Stoned" available for free on iTUNES, and keeping the CD priced below $10 for a long time at most major retailers. Not a bad deal even if only half the CD is worth writing home about. I look forward to the next effort from Hinder; with some maturity and production to lessen the grating vocals, the musicianship and songwriting has great potential for positive development.

Hinder on MySpace.

iPOD-worthy: 3, 4, 6, 8, 9

The video for "Lips of An Angel":

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Name that tune

Tequila in his heartbeat
His veins burned gasoline

Clue here.

Answer here.

Review: Scorpions "Humanity Hour 1"

I am stunned. Andrew at got me curious about this CD, which he gave a rave review to recently. In addition, it is on sale at Best Buy now (with a bonus track) for just $7.99. I'll put in a disclaimer here that no Scorpions CD has ever excited me beyond the hits compilations. For me, they've been a band that can occasionally come up with a good tune, but most of the other tracks on individual records just didn't do anything for me. Further, the juvenile cock rock lyrics that permeate most of their songs just don't make them worth listening to.

All that has changed with the 2007 release "Humanity Hour 1". The band sounds more wiser than older, and I am beside myself that they have pulled off such a 180. I was actually laughing out loud at how good this is, proud in a way of what these guys have done. Instantly evident in their maturity is the more intelligent and reflective lyrical content, and an amazingly good updated sound. You read about aging rockers "modernizing" their sound all the time, but it usually fails because they lose the essence of what their fans enjoy most about them (or the "modernizing" is an over-statement or sounds forced). Not so with "Humanity." The sound of the band is certainly more modern, but all that is good about the Scorpions, including their trademark sound, has somehow been retained and shines through.

The sonic quality on this CD is astounding, and these seasoned rockers sound tons better than their younger counterparts. An urgency and energy comes through in nearly every track. The production team of James Michael and Desmond Child work like a match made in heaven with the Scorpions. Most tracks have a heavier, driving guitar sound, augmented at key intervals with ringing acoustic guitars. Clever harmonies, superb lead guitar work, and great hooks abound. Highlights include the title track (and current single), "Hour 1," "The Game of Life," "The Future Never Dies," and "The Cross," all of which form a mini-concept album warning us about the cold advances of technology and the widespread adaptation of the "business model" dissolving the human spirit of individuals. Long time fans are rewarded with a straight-forward salute to rock and roll with "321," and those who enjoyed the ballad "Winds of Change" or "Send Me An Angel" will equally be turned on by "Your Last Song" and "You're Lovin' Me To Death." The only track that doesn't do much for me is "We Will Rise Again," although the title is foreshadowing of what the Scorpions have done with their career here.

The Scorpions are on tour, and you can track other news at their web site.

A video performance is available for the title track, "Humanity":

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Rare CD: i-TEN "Taking A Cold Look"

I've only heard one track or two off this hard to find CD, but if it is any indication, this entire CD is probably a AOR lover's dream. The sad part is that it is too difficult to find unless you are willing to pay a hefty price. i-TEN is classic AOR from the 80s, with heavy hitters like Steve Lukather, Tom Kelly, and Billy Steinberg. On this CD, issued by Epic/CBS in 1983, you'll hear the original version of "Alone," the song made famous by Heart.

A copy of this i-TEN CD recently sold for $100 on ebay. It is out of print, but sometimes a used copy shows up on Amazon. But be warned and be prepared to pay!

UPDATE (2-4-08): One sells for $102.50 on ebay ... 1983 Sony Music Special Products, Rewind 55009-2 (18 bids)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rare CD: Bob Seger

We've covered rare CDs from "The Bob Seger System" last month (see post). There are some plain old Bob Seger (i.e., without the "System") CDs that are also very rare, fetching big bucks on ebay. For example, "Seven" (from 1974, released on CD in 1993) recently sold for $51.13. Quite the bargain considering the cheapest used price is currently $124 on Amazon.

UPDATE (10/11/07): Copy of "Seven" sells for $70 on ebay.
UPDATE (11/26/07): Another "Seven" CD sells for $67.88 on ebay.
UPDATE (2/28/08): Another "Seven" CD sells for $54.55 on ebay (13 bids).

Also for collectors..."Get Out of Denver - Live 1974" is running $60 on Amazon.

"Back in '72" also can cost you a bit of dough, going for $35 or so. I'm puzzled to see this one, though. Bob Seger is notorious for not releasing this classic on CD because he was unhappy with it. Maybe these folks are selling copies, so buyer beware. Too bad it has not been formally released - it contains the studio version of the live hit "Turn the Page" and the original version of "Rosalie," which Thin Lizzy covered.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rare CD, Review: Andy Taylor "Thunder"

This CD by Andy Taylor is listed as rare and hard to find on many sites, but it actually is pretty easy to acquire for $15-25 on ebay or in the Amazon Used CDs. I don't know why some sellers are charging upwards of $100, even for the MCA (non-import) version. Don't be one of the suckers born every minute.

Andy Taylor is most famous for his stint as the guitarist in early Duran Duran, and left as the band jumped on the synth-heavy bandwagon in the mid-80s. He stuck closer to his rock roots and collaborated in the form of Power Station (with Robert Palmer) and also to help Robert complete his smash album "Riptide". After doing some soundtrack work as a solo artist, he released "Thunder" in 1987. This effort remains focused on the guitar, but also boasts song pretty strong songwriting and vocal performances. Strongest cuts are the singles "I Might Lie" and "Don't Let Me Die Young". The ballad "Life Goes On" has a strong chorus and "Thunder" is a cool mid-tempo rocker.

Andy Taylor reunited briefly with Duran Duran in 2004 to release "Astronaut," which failed to establish yet another comeback for them.

Check out Andy Taylor and his recording studios on myspace.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 7

Video for "I Might Lie:

Name that tune, Van Halen edition

In honor of the recent news that Van Halen will reunite and tour with David Lee these tunes...

You just smile and the picture sells
Look what that does to me

So fine and pretty
Fooled me with her style and ease
I grabbed that telephone
I thought we were alone
Telling me there's company
Your husband's comin' home

Got the feeling, power steering
Pistons popping, ain't no stopping now

I found the simple life ain't so simple

You can't get romantic on a subway line
Conductor don't like it, says you're wastin' your time

Here's to hoping the boys actually pull this one off...and put out some great new stuff!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hot tip: convert iPOD into lapPOD

Turn your iPOD into a lapPOD. Check it out.

Genius...should be adapted by the folks at Apple...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Review: Collapsis "Dirty Wake"

My recent rediscovery of Atheneum (see post) prompted me to check out Collapsis. The latter is a very similar band that used to be led by Mike Garrigan, who joined Atheneum in 2003. The only full-length release from Collapsis, "Dirty Wake" (2000) has some outstanding tracks and it baffles me that these guys did not make it bigger. Maybe the late-90s was just swimming with post-grunge bands trying to re-establish melodic rock.

"Dirty Wake" is filled with smart hooks, well-placed harmonies, and decent lyrics. The production is great and still sounds fresh. Mike has a beautiful falsetto that he does not overuse, making it sound even sweeter then it appears. Fans of Atheneum will certainly like Collapsis, as would people who enjoyed Toad the Wet Sprocket, Gin Blossoms, Better Than Ezra, or any number of late 90s pop rock bands of similar sound. Best of all, you can score this CD for less than a quarter at Amazon - don't let the price fool is not indicative of the quality of the music.

On their myspace page, you can also hear some cover tunes of 80s classics like Til' Tuesday's "Voices Carry."

You can also check out what Mike Garrigan is up to these days at his own myspace page.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rare CD: Peter Wolf "Light's Out"

Wow...check this one out, currently bidding at $110 on ebay:

Peter Wolf - Light's Out

This copy might be selling higher due to the fact it was made in Japan.

Most of the Wolfman's CDs are in the bargain bins, but this rare and out-of-print EMI release from 1984 routinely goes for $50+ on ebay.

Check its price at Amazon. ($200 at time of post!)

Update: final price for this auction was $138.50

UPDATE 8-23-07. Another one sells for $133.50
UPDATE 9-4-07. Another one sells for $122.50
UPDATE 1-31-08. Another sells for $62.00 on ebay (10 bids).

Thursday, August 9, 2007

News: Van Halen + Roth reunion tour

Report: David Lee Roth Rejoins Van Halen for Fall Tour

Van Halen fans, get ready to "Jump." The rockers have re-formed with original frontman David Lee Roth and will set out on a national tour beginning in October, according to a report posted Wednesday on Billboard Magazine's Web site.
In its report, the music industry trade publication said Van Halen will play 50 dates in arenas across North America. Story.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Name that tune

A wild ride, over stony ground
Such a lust for life, the circus comes to town
We are the hungry ones, on a lightning raid
Just like a river runs, like a fire needs flame...I burn for you
A clue.
Answer here.

Review: Soul Asylum "Silver Lining"

Is that a cool album cover or what? This CD was put out about one year ago after an extended hiatus. The break served them well, and while this release did not put them back at the top of the charts, it is one of their best and I hope their future work is in the same vein.

All things good about Soul Asylum shine through on this CD...but best of all, Dave Pirner brought some great songs to the table. The past decade has seen Soul Asylum migrating more and more towards melodic rock, which one might think would have helped them survive the post-grunge/alternative era. It is a shame they have become the Rodney Dangerfields of rock.

Age has done little to change Dave's characteristic voice, and well-placed harmonies abound on most of the tracks here. The first half of the CD is nearly flawless, with more emphasis on upbeat stuff than the last Soul Asylum effort, the uneven "Candy From A Stranger" (1998). While lyrically trite, "Stand Up and Be Strong" is very addictive and sets the tone for a comeback record. Actually, most of the lyrics on this record are a bit simplistic ("Crazy Mixed Up World" (video); this is a good thing given that Pirner has an affinity to write some really goofy stuff (e.g., "String of Pearls" from Let Your Dim Light Shine). They explore similar themes from world politics to politics of love, but what really does it for me is the infectious energy in most of tunes this time out.

Soul Asylum on myspace and their web site.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Hot tip: Trim mp3 files, salvage bonus tracks

This handy trick will not only save you valuable space on your iPOD/mp3 player, but can also help capture a good "bonus" track that is foolishly placed after a 4-5 minute track of crap.

"Got an iPod nano or shuffle and way too much music to fit on the thing? Weblog Digital Inspiration details how you can get more music and podcasts on your low-capacity iPod by non-destructively cutting out the silence and other unwanted portions with iTunes. All you have to do is determine your desired start and end times, then right-click the song and choose Get Info. Go to the Options tab and enter in the times and be sure to check the boxes next to each. When iTunes copies that track to your iPod, it will only copy the portion you've chosen. Keep in mind that the track will limit its play to the sections you've chosen in iTunes, too, but you can revert to the full version at any time by opening the Info and unchecking the start and stop times. I wouldn't recommend going through your whole library to cut a second or two here or there, but if you've got an especially long track or podcast and you only need a portion of it, this is a handy trick." See original post.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Rare CD: Dog's Eye View "Tomorrow Always Comes"

I came across this one by accident when doing the review below for Peter Stuart, who fronts Dog's Eye View. "Tomorrow Always Comes" was put out by Vanguard in 2005. Why is it selling only as a used CD for $100 today? Check price now.

While the CD may be rare, you can hear and purchase the music for substantially less outrageous prices at iTUNES.

Review: Peter Stuart "Propeller"

The lead singer/songwriter for Dog's Eye View put out this solo release in 2002. Wait...Dog's Eye Who? Remember...they were those one-hit wonder boys with "Everything Falls Apart" - popular tune circa 1995. That song was released on "Happy Nowhere." Their follow-up, 1997's "Daisy," which in my book is a much better record, went sadly nowhere fast. Thus, time to go solo.

Not a bad idea in theory, but there really isn't much difference between Peter Stuart and Dog's Eye View. His first (and only) solo effort, "Propeller" is not bad, just boring half the time. Don't get me wrong...Peter Stuart has a great voice when he wants to and is lyrically much more talented and ambitious than most. Things get off to a good, peppy start with "Take Me Back" and quickly slows down, sometimes with great effect (e.g. "Innocence" and the aching beautiful acoustic number "Bring You Back").

Since the solo effort didn't really get off the ground either, Peter appears to be looking back through the ocular of man's best friend...Dog's Eye View released "Tomorrow Always Comes" in 2005.

Get the latest: Dog's Eye View at myspace.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 4, 5, 11

Rare CD: Laurence Archer, Tesla, Ratt

Some highlights from the July 12 post over at Heavy Metal Addiction.

Laurence Archer - LA (1986) ends at $402!

Tesla - Real To Reel Vol. 2 (2007) gets 34 bids and ends at $120!

Ratt - Dancing Undercover (1986) Japanese pressing is a final at $103.60!

Review: Mighty Lemon Drops "Laughter"

I was never a huge fan of The Mighty Lemon Drops, who were big during the late 80s and all over 120 Minutes and College Radio. I'd classify them as British pop/punk; they have what strikes me as a wannabe punk and snotty attitude that comes across as more of a pop and snooty attitude. While most of the other releases in their discography contain a few isolated tracks that are diamonds in the rough, "Laughter" (1989) is their crowning achievement for me. Nearly every track hits the mark with the proper mix of attitude and pop sensibilities.

The CD kicks off strong and just doesn't quit. At the start we are treated to the ambitious and catchy "At Midnight", followed by the awesome single "Into the Heart of Love" and the acoustic-driven and contemplative "Where Do We Go From Heaven." Just when you think they'll take a break and stick in some filler, along come the driving tunes "The Heartbreak Thing" and "One in A Million." Time to slow it down? comes the brassy and sassy "Written in Fiction." The CD closes with a few more strong tracks that make you wish it would continue. Few bands can pull off such a great batch of tunes on one CD, and it amazes me this one did not put them over the top. It is equally amazing that their follow up "Sound" was utterly horrible.

MLDs are now on myspace.

iPOD-worthy: all tracks!

Name that tune

I spend a lot on all the clothes that I got
Cuz all the geeks that I meet they all look cooler than me

for a clue, click here.

Need more help? Another clue - the CD the song is on.


Review: Grant Lee Phillips "Strangelet"

I need to break out a new ranking scale for this one...instead of stars, it seems more appropriate to use Zs. And I'll give this one 5 out of 5 possible Zs: ZZZZZ

I was attracted to hear GLP due to the comparisons to the Boss (in his mellow acoustic mood) and Dylan. I can understand the comparison to a degree, but Bruce and Bob have something GLP's latest CD did not have: an engaging track! Actually, that is not fair. A lot of Bruce's acoustic stuff lately is also deserving of a multiple Z ranking.

Maybe its me, but based on this CD alone I don't agree with the hype of the critics. If you are curious, here is his myspace page.

iPOD-worthy: 3

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Rare CD: The New Monkees

Oh my.

Repeat: Oh my!

The New Monkees? Who are these novel primates, why can't they spell correctly, and why does this CD sell between $50-100 on Amazon? Check current prices.

As you may have surmised, the "New" Monkees were designed to be a modern (late 80s) version of the original Monkees. Like the original Monkees, the "New" ones had their own TV show and supplemental music (the one Warner Bros. CD you see pictured above). Unlike the original Monkees, the "New" ones lacked an audience. So that answers the first two questions. Now why does it go for that kind of money?

Simple...this late-80s synth-fest of bubble gum pop has long been out of print and very hard to find. The good news is that I got lucky and scored one in a LaLa trade, and the bad news is that I got lucky and scored one in a LaLa trade. You can tell by the art?work that the music is profoundly dated. However, it ain't all as bad as it seems. There are a couple of decent melodies buried in the synthesizers and fake drums (e.g. "Corner of My Eye" and "Whatever It Takes"). If you are a fan of this extinct genre, this CD should satisfy your sweet tooth...if you can find it.

There is apparently one fan out there (oh no, was someone who worked on the show), who runs an unofficial New Monkees web site. See you at the 20th anniversary party in December!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Name that tune!

I'm going to begin a new feature on the blog today that should be a fun test of your musical memory and retrieval skills (assuming you don't cheat and Google it!) I'll provide a bit of lyric and you try to name the tune and artist from which it came. We'll kick this feature off with an easy one...

I know my mind is made up
So put away your make up