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Legs Diamond – Self-Titled (Album Review)

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Legs Diamond – Self-Titled (Album Review)

If you’re into rock and roll, especially the sort that came out of the California music scene in the late 70s, then you’re going to love this eponymous debut album from Legs Diamond.

I often sit and wonder why one band is more prominent than the other. How did they connect with the social consciousness of the time? Was a band who didn’t receive the recognition they deserve merely out of time? Well, Legs Diamond failed to set the world on fire but would later gain a dedicated following that would result in them reforming and continuing to tour and record to this day; along with various breakups throughout the years. Subsequently, you can be forgiven for having never heard of the band, but thanks to the modern era of music streaming, we can all explore and enjoy the music that was merely out of time, for Legs Diamond is certainly no diamond in the rough and is one of the greatest 70s hard rock albums I have ever heard. How Legs Diamond is not a household name is beyond comprehension, but join me as we explore their eponymous debut. You can thank me later!

It’s Not The Music kicks the album off with a rhythm that is out of this world. If you’re not head bopping and toe tapping from the first note, you’re listening wrong. With numerous influences, including Pink Floyd and Deep Purple, Legs Diamond’s It’s Not The Music is not only a song that should go down in history as one of the grooviest 70s rock anthems, but it is the perfect song to open the album with. So good!

Stage Fright has a killer guitar riff and flows perfectly from It’s Not The Music. It’s full-on 70s west coast rock and roll that will require you to dust off your air guitar. I love it!

Satin Peacock is your classic blues-based rock and roll tune. Turn that volume up and enjoy, I know I am.

Rock And Roll Man is an epic song that reminds me fondly of Black Sabbath’s Ozzy era. This is one seriously good album!

Deadly Dancer is another great song that is very much inspired by Deep Purple and as a Purple fan, that isn’t a bad thing.

Rat Race is full of groove. Yes, you can again hear the influence of Deep Purple, but Legs Diamond creates a sound that is so unique and perfect that it is only reminiscent of Deep Purple in spirit. Regardless, Rat Race will have you head bopping and toe tapping to the addictive rhythm. 70s hard rock doesn’t get much better than this!

Can’t Find Love is a little over-produced at the beginning of the song and really doesn’t start until almost two minutes have elapsed. However, once the song gets going, it’s a riff and vocal driven masterpiece and is literally one of the best songs on the album.

Come With Me closes the record out with the same energy that has permeated throughout the entire album; although I’m not fond of the fade out as I feel commencing the fade on the vocal was a mistake. Nevertheless, there is absolutely no doubt that I will listen to Legs Diamond again and stay within Legs Diamond’s rather extensive catalogue.

Overall, Legs Diamond is not only an exceptional eponymous debut, but it is one of the greatest 70s hard rock albums to have ever been recorded and released. How I wish I could have been a fly on the wall during these recording sessions as the album is mixed and mastered beautifully. So well, in fact, that I’m blown away by the dynamics and soundstage present via the Apple Music stream. While I’d love to track down a vinyl copy, and likely will at some time, this digital release is absolutely amazing and will showcase the very best your speakers or headphones have to offer. It also provides further validation that lossy music can sound exceptional if it has been recorded, mixed, and mastered properly. An incredible album from start-to-finish!

Legs Diamond is available to own on CD and iTunes.

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Eagles – Self-Titled (Album Review)

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Eagles – Self-Titled (Album Review)

Some of the most interesting albums are debuts as they can either make or break an artist. Regardless of the outcome, it’s always interesting to see how the artist evolves over time, especially from a retrospective viewpoint. That said, I don’t believe I’d be wrong in suggesting that the Eagles had already found their sound on this Self-Titled debut and went about refining their talent on each subsequent album.

Album covers in the 70s were probably as unique as they have ever been, with artists and record labels seeing what would work and what wouldn’t on the large vinyl canvas. The Eagles’ debut is no exception as the cover would not only encompass the bands country meets rock musical style perfectly but would fold out to a larger poster that one could hang or admire while listening to the album. Over the years, the Eagles’ Self-Titled release has been reissued numerously and the edition I’m fortunate enough to own is the 2015 vinyl re-issue with the original album artwork. Yes, it looks impressive, but as the record doesn’t sit in a dedicated enclosure, one has to be careful not to pick the record up, out of its outer sleeve, and watch as the record slips from one’s hand across the room. Okay, so perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but if you’re new to vinyl, these unique designs can be a challenge when dealing with the larger format. 

The inner sleeve is plain and somewhat lacklustre if I’m to be honest. The red text on the natural background is incredibly difficult to read and subsequently wasn't really well thought out in my opinion. The label itself is plain but elegant. Yes, even though I use the Audio Technica AT-618 LP Stabilizer, I love looking at the record labels. I even lust over compact discs and in a bygone era, it wasn’t uncommon for me to appreciate the designs of the compact cassette. I'm not sure why it’s such a fascination, but I find it a thoroughly enjoyable part of the record collecting process.

Of course, as impressive as the record looks, it would be for nought if the audio quality wasn't up to par. Well, I think we can all agree as to just how sonically stunning the Eagles are, and this debut is no exception. The record is as black as the ace of spades, perfectly flat, and has no noticeable inner groove distortion or surface noise. While purists may lament that a significant majority of reissues are being sourced from high-resolution digital files, rather than the original master tapes, the pressing of this 2015 reissue is flawless with a full analogue sound that simply has to be heard to be believed. I have compared both the TIDAL Masters (MQA) and Apple Music (Mastered for iTunes) editions against the record and you won’t see me part with this vinyl record anytime soon. Yes, it is that good and for fans of the band, I highly recommend this particular reissue.

SIDE ONE

Take It Easy, as I've mentioned before, is perfect for a country drive. When I hear this Eagles standard, I can only imagine the excitement of fans when they put the record on for the first time in 1972. It must have blown their minds for it still astonishes me to this day as to how developed the musicality of the Eagles is on this debut. In many respects, it's good that Jackson Browne was unable to finish the song and required Glenn Frey’s involvement. I simply couldn’t imagine the Eagles debut without Take It Easy. Jackson Browne did, however, record a rendition for his 1973 album, For Everyman, and while it’s a lovely interpretation, that doesn’t stray far from the Eagles’ original, Browne’s interpretation failed to set the world on fire as the Eagles’ version did.

Witchy Woman is a killer track that really showcases just how well the vocal harmonies of the Eagles members flow together. Witchy Women is, in many respects, the perfect classic rock song that encompasses many musical eras and styles. Seriously, I could be here all day just listing them, but let’s just enjoy listening to this absolutely amazing tune, shall we?

Chug All Night is a slow starter but develops into a solid song that is thoroughly enjoyable. While it may not be a fan favourite, the album wouldn’t be the same without the frantic beat and low volume harmonies that are off-the-chart. A great rock song!

Most Of Us Are Sad is sensational! The drum and bass track blow my mind, as does the guitar strumming and vocal harmonies. Music doesn't get much better than this.

Nightingale was almost not included on the album as producer Glyn Johns felt it was substandard. One could hardly argue with him as it is filler, a B-side at best, but the record label, in this case, won and it’s of course included. In reality, it isn’t fundamentally a bad song, it just isn't to the same calibre as the other songs on the album. 

SIDE TWO

Train Leaves Here This Morning is a lovely country-focused tune that has a beautiful soundstage and depth that envelops you in sound.

Take The Devil is one of the best songs on the album, and in the Eagles catalogue, that very few know about as it doesn't make an appearance in live performances or on career perspective releases. The rhythm is seriously addictive, and the musicality of the entire recording is uncompromising. 

Earlybird has a fun little entrance, but it can be equally infuriating if you're not in the mood for those chirpy bird sounds throughout. Nevertheless, while it may be a B-side, it's a solid song that fits well with the style of the album.

Peaceful Easy Feeling is a lovely song, but as I've said before, the guitar twang mid-song is a little too high pitched for my liking and I subsequently find it distracting. A shame considering it is an otherwise exceptional song with yet another beautiful vocal presentation. 

Tryin' is a solid song to close the album with. Nothing to write home about, but a perfect B-side if there ever was one. Tryin' certainly makes me want to listen to the album again and stay within the Eagles’ extensive catalogue.

The debut Self-Titled Eagles album is astonishingly good from start to finish and shows a band with a sound signature that would take others years to develop. It really is one of their greatest albums and even if you're a casual fan, you'll find something to love on this Self-Titled debut.

Eagles – Self-Titled is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, Eagles – Self-Titled is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music.

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Billy Joel – An Innocent Man (Album Review)

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Billy Joel – An Innocent Man (Album Review)

Billy Joel has an exceptional back catalogue that would be the envy of many musicians. While Storm Front will always be my personal favourite, An Innocent Man, not unlike Joel's sensational Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2, is about as close to perfection as you can get. Yes, dear reader, An Innocent Man plays like a greatest hits release and should be in all serious music collections.

While it has never made it to my physical collection, I have promised myself the Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab (MFSL) double LP release that has been mastered from the original master tapes using MOFI’s patented GAIN 2™ technology. While all the acronyms look impressive, I have a number of these releases and they are simply astonishing and make CD-quality streaming services, like TIDAL Hi-Fi, sound lifeless and flat by comparison. Speaking of TIDAL Hi-Fi, this review is based on listening to and enjoying that edition. I’ve also taken the time to appreciate An Innocent Man on Apple Music and have found the two streaming services are comparable to each other as they are derived from the same master. However, the Apple Music stream, for An Innocent Man, is about five percent louder. The additional loudness could be due to any number of production reasons, but louder volumes do give the faux perception of better quality. Now, I'm not suggesting this is the case, but it would be naive to ignore the possibility. Of course, if the volume is extended too far, the sound will degrade as a result of increased distortion; a key problem in the loudness wars. Correct management of volume, particularly in the recording, mixing, and mastering stages, is a fine line that has sadly been crossed far too often. That all said, both streams sound exceptional, but when an album is of this calibre, it will sound good regardless of lossy or lossless compression algorithms.

Without doubt, An Innocent Man, is one of the greatest albums from the 80s, but the launch window would result in a disappointing result for Joel as Michael Jackson's Thriller won the Grammy for Album Of The Year over An Innocent Man. While Jackson's Thriller is a landmark album, one I thoroughly enjoy, I'd argue that Joel’s An Innocent Man is a better album and has also stood the test of time much better than Thriller which, in my subjective opinion, is starting to sound a little dated. Perhaps An Innocent Man avoided the dreaded dating of its sound as Joel based the writing of the album on his beloved, and arguably timeless, 50s and 60s music styles. The continuous lighthearted Be-bop, Soul, and R&B styling is addictive and remarkably well suited to Joel.

Easy Money has a sensational beat – thank you Liberty DeVito! It’s a fun little song to start the album with, but the chorus isn't compelling as I find it a little distracting with it’s downbeat shift. Nevertheless, Easy Money is a great song that sets the listener up for the music they’re about to hear on the album.

An Innocent Man slows the pace of the album a little, but the transition never sounds out-of-place. When listening to An Innocent Man, you really begin to comprehend what a sensational vocalist Joel is. Joel has incredible control of his vocal and takes it right to the edge, ensuring the presentation is nothing short of a pleasure to listen to. I could listen to this song indefinitely, it is that good.

The Longest Time is, as Uptown Girl is, one of the most enjoyable songs to sing along to. Seriously, tell me you can sit and listen without singing along to this classic. Even if only in your mind, it’s addictive. I love it!

This Night really opens up throughout the chorus. Yes, the whole song is fantastic, but as a Ludwig van Beethoven fan, I really appreciate how Joel merged his vision with that of Beethoven’s. The result is a sonic interpretation that is absolutely timeless. A masterpiece!

Tell Her About It has a fantastic upbeat tempo that will have you toe-tapping and head-bopping from the very first note.

Uptown Girl is my song. It, along with Starship's We Built This City, is responsible for my love of music. Absolutely brilliant!

Careless Talk shifts the style of the album and can sound a little out-of-place following the upbeat sound of Tell Her About It and Uptown Girl. However, as a song on its own, it’s a solid recording, but if there were a B-side on An Innocent Man, it would be Careless Talk.

Christie Lee is a sensational rock tune with an exceptional saxophone element. I love it! You’ll most certainly want to turn the volume up on this song.

Leave A Tender Moment Alone is a stunningly beautiful ballad.

Keeping The Faith is a song I’ve always enjoyed, but it’s a strange song to conclude the album with as it’s somewhat different to the songs that came before it. It sounds too modern for the album’s style, but as a song on its own, it's extraordinary!

Overall, An Innocent Man is an astonishingly good album and one of Joel's best, if not his best. If you want to listen to a flawless album, that is also timeless, then this is the album for you. Pure perfection!

An Innocent Man is available on Vinyl, SACD, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, An Innocent Man is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Apple Music, and Spotify.

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Vintage Trouble – 1 Hopeful Road (Album Review)

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Vintage Trouble – 1 Hopeful Road (Album Review)

Rhythm & Blues with a touch of Rock & Roll = PURE PERFECTION!

Yes, that pure perfection is exactly what you can expect from 1 Hopeful Road, the third studio album from Vintage Trouble. 1 Hopeful Road leaves me somewhat speechless as there’s no accurate way to describe the masterful styling of Vintage Trouble. They must be heard to be believed and if you enjoy the aforementioned musical styles, you're going to love 1 Hopeful Road.

Run Like The River sets the tone of the album with a perfectly distorted guitar intro and beat that is addictive. It’s a killer blues rock and roll track!

From My Arms slows the album's tempo down, but it’s presented so masterfully that it doesn’t feel out-of-place. From My Arms is a beautiful near ballad-acoustic piece that is recorded, mixed, and mastered immaculately well. This is how good music should sound. Where before you would have been toe-tapping and head-bopping to the pace of Run Like The River, you'll be doing the same here but in slow motion. Spectacular!

Doin' What You Were Doin' continues the smooth but determined blues-rock beat. I always feel compelled to sing-along to this song. Of course, I absolutely butcher the beautiful tonality of the song, but it is so good that I simply can't help myself. As I sit and enjoy Doin’ What You Were Doin’, I can’t help but think how happy the executives at Blue Note must be with their decision to distribute Vintage Trouble. The label's legacy and the band’s style are so perfectly suited that I couldn't think of a better match.

Angel City, California kicks the rock element up a notch and in some ways is reminiscent of the Eagles style. A great song with a great tempo. I love it!

Shows What You Know gets rather bluesy, but that’s a good thing. Seriously, listen to that soundstage and the shimmer of the cymbals. If anyone tells you good music doesn't exist in the modern era, point them to this album and this song.

My Heart Won't Fall Again is a thoroughly enjoyable upbeat song. Ty Taylor's vocal delivery is buttery smooth with just the right amount of grit. Taylor is, without a doubt, one of the world's greatest vocalists.

Another Man's Words is one of the best songs on the album, if not the best. The musicality is off-the-charts. Absolutely beautiful!

Strike Your Light (feat. Kamilah Marshall) wakes you up, just in case you slipped into a micro-sleep following the smooth and relaxing Another Man's Words. Despite the musical shift, Strike Your Light is an excellent song, but if there was a single song, on 1 Hopeful Road, that I could point to as being a B-side, it would be this one.

Before The Tear Drops has an incredible vintage sound! Sorry, but I had to go there. It’s the perfect blues club song for toe-tapping over dinner.

If You Loved Me is absolutely fantastic, reminding me of the music from legendary artists such as Bobby Womack, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson.

Another Baby would be a perfect song for Jimmy Barnes to cover on his next soul and blues album. Yes, it is that good, but I'm not sure Another Baby is perfectly suited to Vintage Trouble.

Soul Serenity is a beautiful song to close the album on, reminding me just how stunning the entire album is. There really isn't a bad song to be heard on 1 Hopeful Road as it plays like a greatest hits release of a band who has been around for decades. Let's hope their future albums are just as good, if not better than 1 Hopeful Road, but improving on perfection is not the easiest task.

This review was based on listening to the TIDAL Hi-Fi (CD-quality) stream and the Apple Music counterpart. While the TIDAL version was marginally better, with slightly better instrument separation, the Apple Music edition was no slouch and was sensational to listen to on my AirPods as I went about my daily tasks, away from the confines of my main stereo and headphone setups. Basically, when musicians are this talented and the album is recorded, mixed, and mastered with care, you're going to be presented with a sonically beautiful presentation regardless of lossy or lossless delivery methods. Truth be told, the only way to top the quality of the aforementioned streams would be to pick up 1 Hopeful Road on vinyl as Vintage Trouble’s style would perfectly suit the warmth and broadness often associated with the vinyl format.

1 Hopeful Road is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, 1 Hopeful Road is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Apple Music, and Spotify.

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John Fogerty – Deja Vu All Over Again (Album Review)

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John Fogerty – Deja Vu All Over Again (Album Review)

It can be difficult to think of John Fogerty as a solo artist, for his songwriting, singing, and overall musicality has permanently been linked to Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). However, if you think he did his best work in CCR, you'd be mistaken as Fogerty is nothing short of a living legend. While the solo albums may not sell as well as the CCR back catalogue, Deja Vu All Over Again is impeccably recorded and mastered, showing just how good the red book CD format can sound.

With a short runtime of just over half an hour, there isn't a single B-side to be found. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I love shorter runtimes as artists tend to focus on perfection, rather than filling the available capacity of the format.

It also helps to have a stellar band, including the prolific and exceptional drummer Kenny Aronoff. Mark Knopfler also makes a sonically spectacular appearance on Nobody's Here Anymore; Dire Straits fans will be thoroughly pleased, I know I am!

Fogerty himself arranged and produced the album and as you listen, you can hear the love and devotion that he placed into the entire album. Although, that could be said for all his records dating back to Bayou County in 1969 with CCR. Let's just say the magic of John Fogerty is not often matched.

This review is based on listening to the 2004 Geffen CD release: Cat: 9863468. Deja Vu All Over Again has only ever been released on CD, but that shouldn't be seen as a negative viewpoint as I can't imagine this recording sounding any better on vinyl or high-res digital, it is really that good!

Deja Vu (All Over Again) is the perfect song to commence the album with. The musicality will envelop you as Fogerty's vocal is so clear you feel he is in the room with you. Pure perfection!

Sugar-Sugar (In My Life) has an upbeat sound that reminds me of Hanson's MMMBop. Yes, dear reader, I’m starting to think I listen to too much music. Nevertheless, I love these odd connections. They are often comical and circumstantial, but can also, at times, reveal musical influences.

She's Got Baggage is your classic rock and roll song. It's fun and if your body isn't already moving, it will be by the end of this song. Although, it is borderline campy, but manages to stay clear of being too campy.

Radar sounds like the 60s was reimagined for a modern era. I love it!

Honey Do slows the album to a country-style, but the shift is perfect and not jarring to the listener. I don't know about you, but I always find myself singing along to this spectacular rockabilly song.

Nobody's Here Anymore is sonic gold. Not only is it the best song on the album, but it is up there as one of the best songs Fogerty has ever written and recorded. Lyrically, even though written in 2004, the other dimension Fogerty sings about is still relevant to our modern society. Yes, Knopfler's beautiful guitar work is the icing on the cake!

I Will Walk With You is a beautiful song, highlighting the rhythm of the bass guitar. It works so well and perfectly suits the album.

Rhubarb Pie is a fun little song with a killer slide guitar performance throughout.

Wicked Old Witch is blues/country rock 101. However, while I love this song, I find the introduction to be a mixed bag. I would have much preferred the song to commence with the bass drum beat, rather than the Banjo. That said, I do appreciate the intent, but I feel as though the Banjo is simply too distant and concealed in the soundstage, therefore making it a less than desirable addition.

In The Garden has an incredible drum track that is beautifully mixed with all other musical elements. In The Garden is the perfect way to close the album and it compels me to listen to this short, but perfect, album again.

Deja Vu All Over Again is superb from start to finish and reminds me that despite my admiration for CCR, I do find Fogerty's solo works to be more appealing and addictive. Either way, there can never be too much CCR or John Fogerty.

Deja Vu All Over Again is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, Deja Vu All Over Again is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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1927 – …ish (Vinyl Review)

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1927 – …ish (Vinyl Review)

Sometimes a debut album can become a smashing success that simply can’t be replicated. Selling in excess of 400,000 copies and winning the 1988 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) Awards for best debut single (That's When I Think of You) and album, 1927 effectively became a household name in Australia overnight. While international success eluded them, that shouldn’t reflect on the wonderful musical experience that is ...ish. Ian McFarlane, in his opus The Encyclopedia Of Australian Rock And Pop, put it perfectly when he wrote ...ish is brimful of stirring, stately pop rock anthems. Yes, dear reader, it is that good!

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SIDE A

To Love Me is a great opener that is truly representative of the Australian music scene during the 80s. It is recorded, mixed, and mastered beautifully, as is the entire album.

That’s When I Think Of You has a beat, vocal presentation, and guitar solo that are off the charts. There is no pretentious playing here, it is simply beautiful! This is what good music sounds like, you literally won't be able to stop your body moving to the rhythm. So good!

If I Could is rock ballad heaven. Listen to the song once and you’ll be singing it for the rest of the day. If I Could is simply stunning!

You'll Never Know picks up the tempo, but doesn't feel out of place in the tracking of the album. By this stage, if you haven't already turned the volume up, I suggest you do so. Get that air guitar out and warm up those vocal cords, you're going to need them.

Compulsory Hero is one of the greatest songs ever recorded, by anyone, anywhere in the world. It is an unofficial Australian anthem and not only does it bring me to tears, but it makes me proud to be an Australian. It’s a sonic masterpiece!

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SIDE B

All The People is a great pop/rock tune, but it was always going to be difficult for any song to follow Compulsory Hero. Thankfully, in the minute or so it takes to flip the record, the senses have a chance to reset. Regardless, All The People is a worthy addition to the album.

Nothing In The Universe is a lovely song. While not on par with some of the earlier songs, it is certainly no B-side.

Propaganda Machine has an interesting punk/pop feel to it. I love it!

Give The Kid A Break has a sensational beat and series of guitar riffs. I hope you didn't turn that volume knob down as this song deserves to be heard at ear bleeding levels. While a B-side, no one ever said a B-side couldn't be thoroughly enjoyable.

The Mess, unfortunately, doesn't follow the quality B-side that is Give The Kid A Break. The mess is, for lack of a better term, a mess and sounds like pure filler. That, however, doesn’t deter me from flipping back to Side A and enjoying this sensational album once more.

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...ish is not only one of the greatest albums ever recorded by an Australian band, it is sonically and musically on par with all the greatest bands of the era. In fact, the production quality here is world-class and it truly shows on the 2018 vinyl re-issue. Pressed at the world-renowned Pallas plant in Germany, I’ve never heard this album sound so good…ever! The record is pressed on audiophile quality eco-grade vinyl and is so silent you’ll hear the blood rushing through your veins before you hear any unwanted surface noise. The soundstage is immersive, with incredible depth that proves just how good vinyl can sound if diligence is taken in the mastering and pressing process. Yes, the remastered edition on TIDAL Hi-Fi is excellent, but it pales in comparison to the vinyl release.

I could honestly keep talking about how exceptional this album is, but I suggest you just order a copy and experience it for yourself.

...ish is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, ...ish is also available on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Spotify, and Apple Music.

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SIXX:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt (Album Review)

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SIXX:A.M. – This Is Gonna Hurt (Album Review)

One would be forgiven for thinking rock legends of the calibre of Nikki Sixx, Dj Ashba, and James Michael wouldn't have anything inspirational to say, particularly if you consider Sixx's entertainingly sex, drugs, and rock and roll past. That, however, couldn’t be further from the truth as This Is Gonna Hurt is perhaps one of the most positive, heartfelt, and inspiring albums to ever be released in the rock and roll genre.

This Is Gonna Hurt is a stellar hard rock song to commence the album with. I love it!

Lies Of The Beautiful People is fantastic, but I feel it’s sonically compromised as it sounds overly compressed. Ashba's guitar solo is also lost in the overly complex and shallow soundstage. Yes, I recognise this is a style of recording, but when you have musicians as skilled as Ashba and Sixx, you really want them to shine.

Are You With Me is a great tune with a killer semi-solo drum beat that blows my mind. Unfortunately, it’s another track that is sonically compromised due to a shallow soundstage.

Live Forever is superb! Michael's vocal dexterity is perfect for the song and while I don't often listen to lyrics for their literal meaning, preferring to consider lyric delivery as just another musical element, I often find with all Sixx: A.M. records that I gravitate to the vocals. James Michael is clearly not only a marvellous Producer, but he has the unique vocal chops that are needed to stand out from the crowd. Plus, Ashba's solo really stands out on Live Forever. I love it!

Sure Feels Right slows the album down with a mellow, country-inspired, tune. Yes, it may sound a little strange, but when you listen to the song it simply works and surprisingly doesn't feel out-of-place with the rest of the album. It reminds me a little of the shift in rhythm that Kid Rock has applied to some of his music over the years. Exceptional!

Deadlihood is one of my favourite songs on the album. It is a hard-hitting rhythmic wonderland with some very cool vocal distortion.

Smile is an absolutely beautiful recording.

Help Is On The Way is a fun song. One of their best! Yes, it is overly compressed with almost no soundstage to speak of. However, it reminds me of the intense rhythm of Rob Zombie's Sinister Urge album. I don’t know about you but I feel the importance of rhythm in rock and roll is understated. A solid rhythm can make an average song sound exceptional and that is certainly the case for Help Is On The Way. That said, I must admit I also find the song to be a little campy, not that that is always a bad thing!

Oh My God is a song so similar in tonality that the casual listener would be forgiven for thinking it’s a U2 song. That shouldn't be seen as a negative reflection as the song is beautiful in its own right. There’s even a small hint of Bon Jovi’s musical style in Ashba's guitar solo. Regardless, Oh My God is an exceptional song that most listeners will find inspirational.

Goodbye My Friends is a mixed bag. I love the musicality and piano introduction, but I'm not sold on the vocal style throughout the verses. Overall, Goodbye My Friends sounds too busy, causing my brain to struggle to determine which all-important rhythm to connect with.

Skin is brilliant! Amazing! Exceptional! You get the idea. This song should inspire everyone. It is so beautiful and I would go as far as saying it is one of the best songs ever written and recorded.

This Is Gonna Hurt is an incredible album that I have always enjoyed. Although, truth-be-told, I could say that about all of Sixx: A.M.'s music.

This review is based on listening to the CD (cat: 88697749012). While I would love to be able to own a vinyl edition, specifically for the artwork and increased dynamic range, This Is Gonna Hurt was unfortunately never released on vinyl. Hopefully, a reissue will turn up sometime, perhaps for the 10th Anniversary. That said, a unique iTunes edition exists that I’ve owned since the album's release in 2011. It is superb with interactive artwork, a documentary, and music videos. While I may lament the sonic quality of iTunes AAC 256kbps files, the iTunes LP is a value-added proposition. Sadly, despite Apple continually claiming music is in their DNA, iTunes LP releases are not available on the iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV. I say sadly because the iTunes LP idea is pure gold for music lovers. It is the missing link in digital music downloads and streaming. Whether it was Apple dropping the ball or the record labels not willing to invest in the concept, l’m not sure. Perhaps consumer demand wasn't there either. I still hold out hope that this will change, especially considering bonus features in films have made their way to iTunes purchases, across all Apple hardware platforms, but I feel it is more likely that Apple will quietly abandon the iTunes LP feature. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but l’ve never understood why higher quality and more elaborate content is rewarded in the film industry but dismissed in the music industry. It simply doesn’t make sense!

Regardless, This Is Gonna Hurt is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), iTunes LP, and as a standard iTunes release.

If you prefer streaming, This Is Gonna Hurt is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

Other Sixx: A.M. Reviews By Subjective Sounds

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Rex Brown – Smoke On This... (Album Review)

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Rex Brown – Smoke On This... (Album Review)

You may know him as the bassist from Pantera and Down, but despite his Heavy Metal roots, Brown has delivered an exceptional solo debut filled with killer blues-based hard rock tunes.

Listening to Smoke On This… gives me the impression of an album that while being unique is also influenced at times by Pantera's Cowboys From Hell and the sound signature Slash used for his solo album and further collaborations with Myles Kennedy And The Conspirators. That isn't to say plagiarism of any sort has occurred, but if you appreciate the aforementioned artists, you will thoroughly enjoy this album.

Sonically, the album is nicely mixed and mastered, despite pushing distorted elements to their limit. The one problem I have come across is on Johnny Kelly's drum track whereby the crunching of the cymbals is jarring on the senses. I would have preferred a slightly more open sound, thereby allowing the cymbals space in the soundstage to breathe and shimmer. It would be interesting to see if this same issue is prevalent on the vinyl release, or if due to the restricted vinyl mastering process, this distortion has been limited as the dynamic range most likely wouldn’t be as compressed.

Speaking of vinyl, that cover art is awesome and would look fantastic. I adore black and white photography and while it won't work with all album covers, it works perfectly in this instance as it captures the attitude of both the artist and recording.

Lone Rider gets the album off to an energetic start. The distracting element, however, is the aforementioned crunching cymbals. Otherwise, it’s an incredible song to commence the album with.

Crossing Lines has a great rhythm, but again the shrill sound of the cymbals are a little too forward in the mix and I feel it takes away from an otherwise solid tune.

Buried Alive has an incredible guitar twang introduction that builds into a blues-based rock tune that any musician would be proud of. Brown’s vocal presentation, not only on this track but across the entire album, is exceptional and feels perfectly suited to the associated musicality.

Train Song is amazing! Best song on the album without a doubt. Yes, I can hear the influence of Cowboys From Hell, but I love that song too. I don't know about you, but I enjoy music that offers similarities but has been completely restructured to present something new and evolutionary.

Get Yourself Alright has a mellon collie blues-rock sound. It is an impressive mix and offers incredible depth, reminding me of the work Julian Lennon did with his exceptional Photograph Smile album. Get Yourself Alright pushes the genre limits and is anything but another mere rock tune.

Fault Line is a lovely soft rock tune. Every musical element is perfectly positioned and I simply adore the interweaving vocal along with the gorgeous piano outro.

What Comes Around... is a little campy, especially in the chorus. However, if we call it a B-side, it’s a valued addition to the record.

Grace, while suiting the album, is a classic B-side.

So Into You is a solid rock song. Despite that, the overlapping lead and rhythm guitar confuses the senses as I’m unsure of which groove to connect with.

Best Of Me is a beautiful song! From the elegant beginning to the riff-driven chorus, to the mellow verse; every aspect of this song is perfect. While it may not suit everyone, the musical shifts are incredible and at no time does the song feel disjointed.

One Of These Days is a killer final track. It compels me to listen to the album again and hope that Brown will not only have success with this debut solo release but will continue to record new music.

Overall, Smoke On This... is an exceptional album and while a debut solo performance for Brown, this is one example that showcases how decades of experience can have a profound effect on one’s musicality.

I’m so enamoured by this release that I'm going to order a copy on vinyl; specifically, the limited edition clear version that includes the CD. I like it when vinyl records are shipped with a CD. It is simply a value-added proposition for the consumer.

Smoke On This... is also available as a standalone Vinyl release. Alternatively, you can purchase the album on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, the album can also be heard on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Kaleo - A/B (Album Review)

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Kaleo - A/B (Album Review)

When released in 2016, Kaleo's A/B left listeners in shock and awe as they proved, as many artists do, that good music is still being made that pushes the envelope of what has come before while remaining uniquely unique.

If you like Folk music, with a splash of Blues, and some killer Rock & Roll riffs, then you are going to love this album. It is so good that I give you permission to stop reading this review while you check out one of the best albums of 2016 and what would be one of my all-time favourite albums in the aforementioned genres.

No Good is already a classic in my mind. It sets the tone for the album and has some killer riffs, beats, and a solid vocal delivery perfectly suited to the song. Yes, this song is your meat and potatoes Rock & Roll but it would work equally well in the local pub as well as a major stadium. No wonder Kaleo opened for The Rolling Stones when they toured Hamburg in 2017.

Way Down We Go slows the album down a little, but it is simply gorgeous! The vocal delivery is off the charts and the bass and drum beats will have you in Rhythm & Blues heaven. This is one song you may have heard before as it has been featured in a number of high profile television shows and films.

Broken Bones is sublime!

Glass House returns the tempo to a higher pace. It is classic Blues-based Rock & Roll and there is nothing wrong with that!

Hot Blood is a great rock tune. It is rock solid, pun intended!

All The Pretty Girls is a slower tune that has a very interesting vocal presentation, in comparison to the other songs on the album. That said, it works extremely well. It just goes to show the level of musicality that is present within the band, even at this early stage in their career.

Automobile is an incredibly catchy tune. I love it!

Vor í Vaglaskógi is sonic perfection! While it is the only non-English song on the album, the vocal delivery is velvety smooth and is an absolute pleasure to listen to. The musicality is equally off the charts. It’s such a beautiful song and I do hope that Kaleo will one day release an entire album in their native Icelandic tongue.

Save Yourself is a lovely song. Nothing to write home about, but solid nonetheless. The album wouldn't be the same without it.

I Can't Go On Without You closes the album beautifully. It is an incredible song that makes me want to listen to the album again.

From start to finish, Kaleo’s A/B is nothing short of pure perfection. The album plays better than many greatest hits releases, yet it is a debut. There truly isn't a bad song on this album. It is so good that I have already ordered my Vinyl copy from mataurecords.com.au.

This review was based on listening to the 16/44.1 kHz CD-quality FLAC release on TIDAL Hi-Fi. I also listened to the 24/88.2kHz MQA version and while I found it to be a little tighter in the bass region, I didn't find the difference to be significant enough to recommend it over the standard CD-quality offering. That isn't a bad thing, it just proves that if a CD is mastered well it can sound just as good as any high-res source. In fact, I prefer the CD equivalent as the bass, while more refined in the MQA edition, is too clean and lacks the grit that I feel should be present in this style of music.

A/B is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, A/B is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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ZZ Top – Eliminator (Album Review)

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ZZ Top – Eliminator (Album Review)

With a signature sound like no other, ZZ Top is the very definition of blues rock and roll. They are a no-frills trio that are, in my opinion, only topped by AC/DC. Although, let’s be honest, as cool as Angus' schoolboy uniform is, those signature beards remain unchallenged.

Eliminator is eighth studio album by ZZ Top and is arguably as polished as the band has ever been. While I love their entire catalogue, Eliminator plays like a greatest hits compilation and there isn't a B-side to be found. Seriously, if you don't have a copy of Eliminator in your collection, you're missing out on one of the greatest rock and roll albums in recorded music history. 

Of course, it wasn't only the music that made this band a household name. The now iconic music videos certainly played a part. Yes, they're corny and cliche, especially with their fluffy guitars, but it encapsulates the 80s and the MTV era. 

If the beards didn’t catch your attention, then Eliminator would. Yes, Eliminator not only characteristically graced the album cover but would also appear in their music videos during this era. I don’t know about you, but Eliminator is simply stunning. 

The vinyl artwork is truly amazing and simply looks fantastic on display or in the hand. However, I have always been perplexed by the coloured box within the artwork itself. Initially, I had thought it was an indicator guide for other formats that was simply left in the final artwork, but that isn't the case as the reformatting, of even the cassette version, crops tighter into the artwork. It is an absolute mystery. If you have any thoughts regarding this interesting design decision, I'd love to hear from you.

Overall, the 30th Anniversary vinyl release (circa 2013) is a collector's dream come true. Yes, it is rather barebones, but the print and pressing quality is exquisite. Priced in the budget range at sub $30 ($AUD), the sonic performance of this record trumps many of my more expensive 'audiophile' pressings, thereby proving that one does not need to go broke in the collecting of new vinyl for one's passion. That said, this is the exception rather than the rule and the similarly priced 2016 re-issue is reported to have a serious pressing fault as Legs prematurely ends. Logic would dictate that the same master should have been used, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. If it was, one must then question the obvious lack of quality control. Regardless, the 2013 pressing I have is flawless. Beautifully quiet, although not a major issue for rock music, and sonically pure. I’ve never heard the album sound better. It is honestly a 10 out of 10. I’ve also compared it to the CD-quality TIDAL Hi-Fi edition, from the 2008 remastering session, and I find that by comparison, it lacks the overall warmth and depth of the vinyl counterpart. It is, however, a solid edition should you prefer to stream the album. Unfortunately, I don't know which specific master was used for the 30th Anniversary release as that information is not available. However, a little research and subsequent deduction indicate this release was most likely pressed from a different master as the 2008 Deluxe Edition CD reportedly reduced the dynamic range from a 12 to a 6 out of 20. Yes, I acknowledge the dynamic range differences between the formats, but this difference is simply too large to ignore. Most likely this is why I prefer the vinyl release as every drum and bass beat resonates within your soul as the lead guitar and vocals tantalise your senses. Yes, it really is that good!

The 30th Anniversary vinyl release is printed in a high-gloss that looks incredibly impressive but quickly becomes a fingerprint magnet. Inside, you get a singular printed sleeve with Eliminator on one side while the other side remains black. Yes, it is a basic design but appeals to purists as it remains faithful to the original 1983 release. I like it when record labels don't make changes for the sake of making a change.

SIDE XI

Gimme All Your Lovin has such an incredible rhythm. It is the perfect song to start the album with and really sets the tone for the entire record.

Got Me Under Pressure continues the toe-tapping head-bopping rhythm. Sensational!

Sharp Dressed Man is a song that defies explanation. Just turn the volume knob to 11.

I Need You Tonight slows the rhythm, but increases the blues. It's absolutely gorgeous and that guitar is, as with most ZZ Top recordings, pushing the distortion right to the limit while remaining hauntingly clear.

I Got The Six is a perfect rock and roll song. It's nothing to write home about, but it is the meat and potatoes of the album.

SIDE X2 

Legs is iconic! Interesting fact: every time I hear the first few chords, I'm reminded of the Mythbusters television series theme song. I’m honestly surprised there wasn't a lawsuit around this unless they obtained permission of course. Either way, after watching an episode it makes me want to listen to Eliminator.

Thug is a solid tune but it isn't one of my favourites. That said, I do appreciate the bass emphasis on this track.

TV Dinners is one of my all-time favourite ZZ Top songs. Seriously, to take something as mundane as a TV dinner and turn it into an incredibly rhythmic blues rock and roll tune, that takes exceptional skill. It is soloing heaven and features some of the best musicality heard on the album. I also adore those mid-song pauses as they're executed perfectly.

Dirty Dog is a great tune with a tone that is borrowed from Legs. While plagiarism is bad in and of itself, self-plagiarism in music ensures an identifiable sound. 

If I Could Only Flag Her Down brings us back to blues rock and roll. While it’s enjoyable, I feel the vocal tracking is particularly lacking and lost in the mix, especially in comparison to the rest of the album. It sounds like Lemmy Kilmister sang instead of Gibbons. Hey, I love Motorhead too, but this is a ZZ Top album.

Bad Girl, as the final track, is compelling enough for me to play the entire album again. The rhythm is addictive, as is the rawness of the pseudo-live performance. However, the final spoken words, at the end of the track, seem pointless. I really don't like it when artists do that. I know it’s artistic expression, but you'd think I was a little weird if I closed every review with a random word or two.

Regardless, Eliminator is not only one of the best albums ever recorded by ZZ Top, it is one of the greatest rock and roll albums of all-time.

Eliminator is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, you can also enjoy Eliminator on Spotify and Apple Music.

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