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Wilco – A.M. (Album Review)

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Wilco – A.M. (Album Review)

Each time I play A.M. I need to remind myself that this was Wilco’s debut release from 1995 and that it isn’t of the same, highly polished, style that is A Ghost Is Born and Schmilco; two of my favourite Wilco albums. That isn’t to say that A.M. is flawed, as it has some killer tunes and plenty of hidden gems that have stood the test of time, but it is an acknowledgement of their sonic shift on subsequent albums. 

I Must Be High isn’t a bad way to open this alternative country-rock album. A solid song, with a solid rhythm. What more could one ask for? 

Casino Queen has a killer blues-rock meets country rock feel that I swear would be a perfect song for The Rolling Stones to cover. Casino Queen is, without a doubt, one of my favourite songs on A.M. and is one of the best songs Wilco has ever recorded; I also consider it to be one of the very best rock tunes of the 20th Century. 

Box Full Of Letters isn’t the greatest. The musicality is too alternative and too campy. Plus, the rhythm is all over the place, thereby making it difficult to sync in with a particular groove. I also find Jeff Tweedy’s vocal on this song to be lacklustre. The guitar solo is its only saviour.

Shouldn’t Be Ashamed has everything Box Full Of Letters didn’t. It’s a brilliant song that is thoroughly enjoyable and compels me to move my body subconsciously to the rhythm. Perhaps the only flaw in Shouldn’t Be Ashamed is there is a little too much distortion in the guitar tracking. 

Pick Up The Change isn’t a bad toe-tapping song, but it isn’t anything to write home about either. A solid B-Side with some nice blues-based guitar work.

I Thought I Held You is a great tune that incorporates an interesting mix of the banjo with the steel guitar. It works incredibly well and gives the song a level of depth that ensures you become enveloped by the soundstage, especially during the final minute of the song. 

That’s Not The Issue is another chaotic rhythmic mess. It is akin to noise, rather than music. A shame as it breaks up the flow of the album considerably. 

It’s Just That Simple is a thoroughly enjoyable alternative country-rock tune and the creaminess of the instrumental interlude mid-song is absolutely marvellous. 

Should’ve Been In Love is an enjoyable B-side. Nothing more, nothing less. 

Passenger Side is fantastic, with a perfect mix between all sonic elements. I love it!

Dash 7 isn’t a bad B-side, but it is a little left of the centre. That may appeal to you, dear reader, or it may result in a confusing musical piece of art that will make you question if the song is good, bad, or merely adequate. 

Blue Eyed Soul is a song I adore. The tempo and progression of the song are perfect. I must admit, I do like Wilco’s slower rhythms as they suit the band perfectly.

Too Far Apart is an excellent track to close the album on with a rhythm and blues-based influence that will appeal to anyone interested in this style of music. There is no doubt in my mind that Too Far Apart is the perfect song to encourage me to play the album again and stay within Wilco’s catalogue of music. While an expanded Deluxe Edition has also been released, I’ve never felt the urge to listen to it as I feel the original 13-track, 45 minute, release is perfect for enjoying A.M. and I must be honest when I say that if a song didn’t make it to the original album, then it likely wasn’t good enough in the first place. Of course, your opinion may differ and if so, please let us know in the comments what song from the Deluxe Edition makes it a compelling alternative. 

Overall, A.M. is an excellent debut with some obvious flaws. The flaws, however, don’t detract from the album thereby ensuring that fans will appreciate this release along with newcomers who are after a somewhat raw country-rock sound with an alternative twist. 

A.M. is available on Vinyl, CD, and the iTunes Store

The Deluxe Edition of A.M. is available on Vinyl, CD, iTunes, and Apple Music

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Ozzy Osbourne – Under Cover (Album Review)

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Ozzy Osbourne – Under Cover (Album Review)

Ozzy Osbourne is a living legend and while is work in Black Sabbath and his solo career has been spectacular, was a covers album really what fans were looking for from his ninth studio album? The song selection, focusing on rock and roll from the 60s and 70s, is fantastic and it’s unlikely you’ll hear a song that you’ve never heard before. Of course, the biggest question is if these songs suit Osbourne’s vocal and musical styles or is Under Cover largely a self-indulgent release and homage to Osbourne’s musical idols?

Rocky Mountain Way is a Joe Walsh classic and Osbourne performs it admirably, mixing a little of his own style while paying homage to the original. If you like Joe Walsh’s recording of this song but want it to feature a little more hard rock, perhaps a touch of metal, then you’re going to love this cover.

In My Life (Radio Edit) is a beautiful song and was one of the best songs from The Beatles’ Rubber Soul; although there are so many! One of the things I’ve always found fascinating about Osbourne is that despite his hard rocker persona, he can sing ballads exceptionally well and I’d even argue that he is a better ballad singer than he is a heavy metal vocalist. That may irritate some, but I’m blown away with his performance of In My Life. It is so good that as much as I adore The Beatles original, I enjoy Osbourne’s better; partially due to the darker style and the slower tempo. Regardless, both are exceptional and Osbourne has done himself proud on In My Life.  

Mississippi Queen is a killer rock and roll tune that is styled very similarly to the original Mountain classic. Do I have a preferred version? Not really, they’re both exceptional but if you’re looking for a little more hard rock, then Osbourne’s rendition is the one to listen to. 

Go Now is one song that I would have never imagined Osbourne covering. It’s a great song and while you may be familiar with The Moody Blues version, the Bessie Banks original is the one to beat and Osbourne has done just that. An exceptional cover with a gorgeous musical interlude that includes a piano and guitar solo. I love it!

Woman is one of the greatest songs ever written and recorded. It doesn’t matter how good this rendition is, nothing and nobody will ever beat John Lennon’s original. That said, Osbourne covers it superbly, paying homage to the original while also putting his own spin on this classic.

21 Century Schizoid Man is a classic late 60s masterpiece that Osbourne has turned up to 11. 

All The Young Dudes is a killer tune. A David Bowie original composition, Bowie’s recording has always been exceptional, as was the original recording of the song by Mott the Hoople, but Osbourne takes All The Young Dudes to another level completely. Sensational!

For What It’s Worth is an incredible cover. I love the Buffalo Springfield original and it is that version that we’re arguably most familiar with. However, if you’re looking for a modern interpretation that infuses the original with hard rock elements, then look no further for this is utterly perfect.  

Good Times is a song I’ve never been fond of. The Animals original isn’t fundamentally bad, but it never grabbed my attention. While there is nothing wrong with Osbourne’s interpretation, it doesn’t change my thoughts on the song as a whole.

Sunshine Of Your Love is one of the greatest songs from the 60s. The distortion in the original Cream version is stunningly good and while you can’t beat the original, Osbourne pays homage to it and adds a little of a harder rock edge to the song that I find to be thoroughly enjoyable. A killer song no matter who performs it!

Fire is a really interesting psychedelic rock tune from 1968. The Arthur Brown original isn’t bad, but Osbourne has made Fire his own and I much prefer this interpretation. 

Working Class Hero is another John Lennon classic. Again, Osbourne doesn’t disappoint. Admittedly, he doesn’t stray too far from the original in his interpretation, but Osbourne’s approach breathes new life into Working Class Hero and is arguably perfectly suited to his vocal and musical style. 

Sympathy For The Devil is a killer song. The Rolling Stones are the ultimate masters and arguably nobody has done it better. Yes, Guns N’ Roses covered it incredibly well, but the original is beyond reproach. Nevertheless, Osbourne’s rendition is enjoyable and is a great closer for this collection of covers ensuring that I’ll likely listen to the album again, stay within Osbourne’s catalogue, or explore the original artists he’s covered. Yes, on some editions of the album, the Black Sabbath song, Changes (with Kelly Osbourne), is included but that isn’t the case with the Apple Music release which sticks to the original 13-track lineup. 

As far as cover albums go, this is one of the most enjoyable I’ve come across. Yes, I would have preferred to have more original Osbourne music, but he has given fans a look at some of his favourite tunes and has covered them with the respect they deserve. Under Cover, however, isn’t an album I go to when I think of Osbourne, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy it when listening to his entire catalogue. 

Under Cover is available on CD and iTunes.

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Ash Grunwald – Live At The Fly By Night (Live Album Review)

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Ash Grunwald – Live At The Fly By Night (Live Album Review)

As I listen to Live At The Fly By Night, I find myself captivated by the non-stop groove of Grunwald. This man certainly has bucket loads of rhythm to go along with what Ian McFarlane rightly claimed as a guttural resonant vocal styled somewhat after Tom Waits, Howling Wolf, Elmore James, and Robert Johnson. I couldn’t have described Grunwald’s musicality better myself and if you haven’t got a copy, you’ll find a wealth of information in McFarlane’s opus The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock And Pop.

Normally when I think of live albums, I have mixed emotions. Many are excellent, others are average at best. It really is a mixed bag. However, Live At The Fly By Night is one of the best live recordings I’ve ever heard. The mix, the dynamics, and the correct levelling of audience interaction make for a compelling listen that I’m certain you’ll love. While I can’t say for certain that some studio mastery hasn’t been applied here, I don’t care because the mastering is utterly perfect and showcases just how good music can sound if recorded, mixed, and mastered with care. 

Sadly, this release has never been issued on vinyl, but to be completely honest, the Apple Music stream, which this review is based on, is stunning with an incredible soundstage and tonality that gets you as close to vinyl as digital ever will. I can only imagine how good the CD sounds but I can assure you that you’re not missing a thing if you choose to listen to Live At The Fly By Night via Apple Music.

Intro helps to set the tone of the performance and while I’m not overly enthralled by the audience inclusion here, there is little doubt that the mix is perfect. The musical elements, and overall soundstage, really put you in a prime position to thoroughly enjoy the performance. If that rhythm doesn’t get you going, I don’t know what will. It is stunningly hypnotic and flows masterfully into Can You Find A Way.

Can You Find A Way is toe-tapping and head-bopping gold, with a guitar riff that will make you want to pick up the instrument. The distorted vocal is equally compelling and while other artists are unable to pull it off, Grunwald delivers it in a non-offensive manner that ensures it enhances the song and overall musicality. 

Skywriter is a great tune. The upbeat tempo and distorted guitar is simply stunning. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I love singing along to the chorus of Skywriter and playing my air guitar during that killer solo. 

Mojo is one of Grunwald’s best. Turn that volume up to 11; you can thank me later! 

Rosie has a brilliant vocal mix and flows perfectly in the live lineup. 

Fish Out Of Water is a moody track with a killer rhythm. I love it!

The Devil Called Me A Liar has a killer introduction but I find the song loses a little of its magic as it progresses. It isn’t bad, but if there is a B-side to be heard on Live At The Fly By Night, then The Devil Called Me A Liar is most certainly it.

1976 Coaster Van reminds me fondly of Chris Isaak’s Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing from Forever Blue; especially in the intro. 1976 Coaster Van is a solid track but I feel the spoken word element in the middle of the song detracts from the experience and the tempo speed-up makes it near impossible for the listener to stay locked into the groove. 

Just Be Yourself starts with a magical guitar introduction and continues with a fat bass track that is as relaxing as it is compelling. It doesn’t matter how still I try to make myself, the rhythm gets into your bones and your body will move even if you’re intent not to. Also, the tempo increase here, unlike 1976 Coaster Van, is perfect, ensuring that I don’t lose track of the rhythm. Returning to the slower tempo towards the end of the song is equally smooth and Just Be Yourself is arguably one of my favourite songs from the album; yes, even with the audience singing along towards the end. Again, the mix is spot on.

Money / Breakout has a magical intro. The killer rhythm will get you as will the lyrical style that is easy to sing along to. Money / Breakout is, without a doubt, an audible experience that you have to hear to believe. A stunning merging of two songs and this is without a doubt one of Grunwald’s greatest live performances and is arguably a fan favourite whenever played live. My only criticism is the slowing tempo at the end as it feels unnecessary.

Give Signs / Serious as the final track on Live At The Fly By Night certainly compels me to listen to the album again and stay within Grunwald’s growing catalogue of music. Sensational!

From start to finish, Live At The Fly By Night is nothing short of pure perfection. There isn’t a dull moment and as far as live releases go, this is up there with the very best that I’ve heard and as happy as I am with the Apple Music stream, I really want a vinyl release to add to the collection because that cover art deserves to be seen and held on the larger canvas. I love it!

Live At The Fly By Night is available on CD and iTunes.

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Dan Fogelberg – Windows And Walls (Album Review)

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Dan Fogelberg – Windows And Walls (Album Review)

There are hidden gems and then there is Windows And Walls; arguably a contender for the very best singer-songwriter album of the 80s. 

Yes, Windows and Walls is that good! There isn’t a bad song to be heard, not even a B-Side. Fogelberg had a magical formula. His songwriting and musicianship were simply astonishing and while you’ll find Windows And Walls has an 80s feel, it is true to the era and I adore it. 

George Marino mastered it beautifully and while I’d love to see Windows And Walls reissued on vinyl, I’m elated that Sony/Epic records haven’t remastered the album for I don’t believe it is necessary as the soundstage is wide and enveloping to the listener with next-to-no compression. 

It isn’t only the musicianship and mastering that is beyond reproach; the cover art is magnificent. The multidimensional aspect captivates me and it’s ultimately one reason why I’d love to see Windows And Walls reissued on vinyl for the cover art deserves to be seen on the larger canvas. 

This review is based on listening to the Apple Music stream and while I long to have a copy in my physical library, I can say with absolute certainty that you won’t be disappointed with the streaming edition of Windows and Walls. 

The Language Of Love is a toe-tapping, head-bopping, pop-rock tune that is the perfect opener for the album, bookending the album nicely with Gone Too Far.  

Windows And Walls is incredibly beautiful. Fogelberg’s vocal presentation and musicality is captivating from the first note with a stunning orchestral backing that surrounds you with an exceptionally wide, deep, and dynamic soundstage. It is this soundstage that would likely be ruined should the album ever be remastered for any additional compression would only eliminate these breathtaking sonic aspects. 

The Loving Cup is a sensational multi-tempo song. Like many of the songs on Windows And Walls, when The Loving Cup comes on I just want to turn the volume up. Music doesn’t get much better than this, does it? Yes, the outro is a little abrupt, but I love it and it ultimately flows masterfully into Tucson, Arizona (Gazette).

Tucson, Arizona (Gazette) is stunning. That guitar tracking is incredible and again, as with many of the songs, you’ll find yourself in awe of the incredible soundstage that is akin to having Fogelberg in the room with you for a private performance. 

Let Her Go returns the album to the 80s pop-rock styling that is similar to the album’s opening The Language Of Love. I love it and I can’t listen to Let Her Go without head-bopping and toe-tapping, or dancing if I’m on my feet. Oh, I forgot to mention that you’ll need your air guitar for that creamy guitar solo throughout and towards the end. Sensational!

Sweet Magnolia And The Travelling Salesman is an absolute masterpiece. 

Believe In Me is magnificent. I simply adore Fogelberg’s smooth and delicate vocal presentation on this song. He took his vocal right to the edge but didn’t force it, thereby making Believe In Me extremely compelling and lovely to listen to. 

Gone Too Far is the perfect closing track with an 80s rock-style that will get your body moving and will encourage you to listen to the album again. 

Windows And Walls ultimately reminds me how much I love music every time I play the album. The only problem is it is so good that I tend to play it on repeat for hours as I never tire of Fogelberg’s remarkable musicality. 

The album is tracked incredibly well, meaning the flow between songs is exceptional. With a runtime of ~40 minutes, I’m left wanting more and that is a sign of a good album in my opinion. 

There is little doubt that this is one very special album that should be in every music lover’s collection.

Windows And Walls is available on CD and iTunes.

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Agnetha Fältskog – I Stand Alone (Album Review)

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Agnetha Fältskog – I Stand Alone (Album Review)

Have you ever wondered what one part Chicago plus one part Abba would sound like? Well, I hadn’t but when I listen to I Stand Alone, I hear a correlation. Peter Cetera, former Chicago frontman and bassist, would produce this exceptional release, selecting the songs that he felt would be perfect for Fältskog’s uniquely smooth vocal delivery. Whilst there are a couple of misses, I Stand Alone is a thoroughly enjoyable release from start to finish and while ABBA’s success may always overshadow Fältskog’s solo career, you’d be foolish to overlook this 1987 release as it is arguably one of Fältskog’s greatest solo releases and success was only hindered by Fältskog’s lack of post-release promotion.

This review will largely be based on listening to, and appreciating, the CD release I’m fortunate enough to own. Sadly, the cover art has faded over the years but sonically the CD sounds marvellous. That said, I did lament that the vinyl reissues of Fältskog’s earlier solo releases in 2017 didn’t include this one. Of course, those reissues were originally released on Polar Music while Fältskog’s later recordings would be released on WEA Records. It may be a minor and somewhat insignificant aspect, from a music lover’s perspective, but WEA Records have yet to do anything with Fältskog’s back catalogue, meaning there is no vinyl reissue on the horizon. At least they haven’t issued a remastered brickwalled disaster as the original mastering is quite lovely with plenty of headroom allowing you the opportunity to turn the volume up according to your tastes.

The Last Time is a fantastic tune to launch I Stand Alone. Yes, it has that 80s feel to it, but that is part of the allure. While a little slow to start, the tempo kicks in after the first minute and reminds me fondly of Elton John’s Victim Of Love. This is one song that you’ll most certainly want to turn the volume up on and get the air guitar out for, for that guitar solo, while predictable, is perfect. 

Little White Secrets shifts the tempo a little too much for my liking. It has an almost Caribbean feel and is a B-side. I simply don’t feel the song suits Fältskog’s vocal style and the mix and subsequent soundstage are a little too centre focused.

I Wasn’t The One (Who Said Goodbye) [Duet with Peter Cetera] is pure gold and is one of the greatest duets of the 80s. Seriously, this is Chicago meets ABBA turned up to 11. It is flawless and I could listen to it on repeat for eternity. 

Love In A World Gone Mad is badly tracked. It’s a solid song, but coming directly after I Wasn’t The One (Who Said Goodbye) was a mistake in my opinion. Subsequently, it takes a while for the mind to adapt to the varied tempo and musicality, resulting in a love/hate relationship with the song, especially if you listen, as I do, to music in the original album format. All that said, if I’m to be completely honest, Love In A World Gone Mad is a little too campy for my liking. 

Maybe It Was Magic is a magnificent ballad that is perfectly suited to Fältskog. 

Let It Shine is a solid song but should have been tracked with Love In A World Gone Made and Little White Secrets as it again shifts the flow of the album a little too much. Truth-be-told, if I had my way, I would have tracked the ballad-styled tunes on Side A and the more 80s pop-driven songs on Side B. Thankfully, your mind does adjust, but it shouldn’t need to in my opinion.

We Got A Way is a solid upbeat pop-rock tune that flows perfectly from Let It Shine. 

I Stand Alone is a great song. The musicality is incredible with a beautifully sized and positioned soundstage ensuring that the more detailed your playback system, the more involving the music will become and you’ll hear elements that you may not have heard on a more modest system.

Are You Gonna Throw It All Away is magical. I adore Fältskog’s vocal delivery on this song and the musicality, especially the saxophone elements, makes this song nothing but a pure pleasure to listen to. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I turn the volume up and sing along. 

If You Need Somebody Tonight is a beautiful song to conclude I Stand Alone on ensuring that I’ll play the album again and stay within Fältskog’s incredible catalogue of music.

I Stand Alone is a hidden gem and if you’re a fan of ABBA or have any interest at all in 80s pop music, you’re bound to love I Stand Alone; I know I do. 

I Stand Alone is available on CD and iTunes.

Click here to read other Agnetha Fältskog reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Warren Haynes – Ashes & Dust (feat. Railroad Earth) [Album Review]

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Warren Haynes – Ashes & Dust (feat. Railroad Earth) [Album Review]

If you’re at all familiar with the Allman Brother’s Band or Gov’t Mule, then you’ll no doubt be aware of Warren Haynes and his incredibly smooth vocals and guitar playing that is simply out-of-this-world. Calling him an exceptional musician would be an understatement and an insult. There are few as masterful as Haynes and his musical prowess comes across clearly in his third solo album Ashes & Dust.

Full of recordings that are instant classics, Ashes & Dust is a cornucopia of Blues, Folk, Country, and Rock music, I have a sneaking suspicion that you’re going to love this album, I know I do!

Is It Me Or You eases you into the album. It is absolutely beautiful and while I’m not always a fan of the Banjo, it has been recorded and mixed masterfully. The string element is equally as compelling and the rhythm just makes you move to the groove subconsciously. You’ll most certainly be head-bopping and toe-tapping along to this song. 

Coal Tattoo is blues 101 and is arguably the best song on the album. Sensational! 

Blue Maiden’s Tale is more Folk/Country-based when compared to the preceding songs. That isn’t a bad thing, however, as Blue Maiden’s Tale fits in perfectly to the album and the interweaving tempos that may initially sound a little disjointed, really come together in a very enjoyable piece of music. 

Company Man is a fantastic meat and potatoes Country Rock song. It’s perfect for a sing-along and is another great head-bopping and toe-tapping song. 

New Year’s Eve is a little pedestrian and campy for my liking, but Haynes performs it beautifully nonetheless. 

Stranded In Self-Pity is a solid blues track that I like to close my eyes to as I move to the groove. 

Glory Road is a fantastic tune, but the instrumental opening is too long for the style of song in my opinion. Otherwise, it’s spectacular! As I listen to it, I’d love to hear Rod Stewart cover it as I feel it would also suit his style of vocal perfectly. 

Gold Dust Woman (feat. Grace Potter) is a killer Fleetwood Mac song and this cover is exceptional. Could it be better than the original? Well, it’s certainly on par with it. Grace Potter is a perfect addition to the song but I’d argue that Fleetwood Mac nailed the intermingling duet vocals a little better than Haynes and Potter did here.

Beat Down The Dust is nothing to write home about, but a great song nonetheless.

Wanderlust is simply gorgeous and that guitar tracking is exquisite. 

Spots Of Time has an incredible drum track with a soundstage that is thoroughly immersive. 

Hallelujah Boulevard is beautiful, but as with Glory Road, I feel as though the introduction is too long, ultimately taking the focus away from the song itself. A shame considering just how stunning it is. 

Word On The Wind is a sensational closing track with a guitar solo, and overall rhythm, that I simply adore. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to listen to Word On The Wind again. Forget playing it on repeat, however, for it is worth going back to Is It Me Or You in order to listen to this entire masterpiece again.

Sonically, the entire recording, mix, and mastering is nothing short of perfection and will really push your audio playback system to its limits. Sensational! 

Overall, Ashes & Dust is absolutely flawless and is one of the best blues-based albums I’ve ever heard. When I listen to an album this good, I am reminded of why I adore music as much as I do and that the gift of music from a master musician, such as Haynes, to the listener, is priceless. 

Although, if you’d like to put a price on it and own a copy for yourself, Ashes & Dust is available on Vinyl, CD, or the iTunes Store

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Lionel Ritchie – Dancing On The Ceiling (Album Review)

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Lionel Ritchie – Dancing On The Ceiling (Album Review)

The 80s were in full swing by the time Lionel Richie’s third solo album, following his exceptional Can’t Slow Down, was released in 1986, yet nothing about Dancing On The Ceiling sounds locked to the era as the album remains as fresh today as the day it was released. 

Dancing On The Ceiling is a great opener, although I would have preferred it without the non-musical intro as the song gets straight into the synthesised beat that is incredibly addictive. Without a doubt, you’ll find me dancing and singing along to this track when no one is watching. If only I could somehow manage to dance on the ceiling! 

Released as the first single from the album, Dancing On The Ceiling performed well in the charts, reaching the Top 10 in most regions, and while the music video is delivered in a classic cringeworthy 80s-style, there’s something strangely compelling about it that makes you want to watch it over and over again. 

Se La has a killer reggae style and you would be forgiven if you hear a little Bob Marley in this track. That said, it is perfectly suited to Richie and is a very enjoyable song to listen to, especially if you enjoy reggae music. It’s certainly one of my favourite songs on the album.

Ballerina Girl is one of Richie’s most beautiful songs. Penned by himself, for his adopted daughter Nicole, you can’t help but be moved as you listen to Richie’s smooth tones and the love he has in his heart. This is one time when the literal meaning of a song comes to the forefront of consciousness and captivates my soul. It’s one of my favourite Lionel Richie songs by far. I’d love to see him do a concert with a symphony orchestra backing as this song, in particular, would be extraordinary. 

Don’t Stop has a great rhythm, once you get over the shock from the smooth and relaxing Ballerina Girl of course. Seriously, it is perhaps one of the worst cases of bad tracking I’ve ever come across. Especially considering it is the last song on Side A of the vinyl release. All I can think is that Deep River Woman would have been the perfect closer for the first side and would have flowed beautifully from Ballerina Girl. While Don’t Stop isn’t necessarily bad, it isn’t good either as it’s too long and just doesn’t fit, sonically, well on Dancing On The Ceiling. As a song on its own, I can see the appeal. Perhaps it should have been a B-side to one of the singles or left off the album completely. Nevertheless, it is part of the album and while I have mixed feelings about it, I also acknowledge that Dancing On The Ceiling wouldn’t sound the same without it. 

Deep River Woman is a gorgeous tune that really strips down the musicality and allows Richie’s extraordinary vocal presentation to be the focus of the song. I also find the inclusion of the country and southern rock band, Alabama, on backing vocals is the ultimate addition to the album and truly makes the song something greater than the sum of its parts. Similar, in many cases, to the interweaving harmony that made the Eagles so successful. Sadly, however, Deep River Woman failed to chart successfully. That, alone, perplexes me and makes me think that I’ll never truly understand the likes and dislikes of mainstream music audiences. 

Richie would later re-record the song with Little Big Town on his reimagined country-styled compilation album Tuskegee. It’s a great rendition, but nothing beats the original in my opinion.   

Love Will Conquer All is an incredible song. That intermingling vocal harmony in the chorus. That rhythm. It really is the complete package and Marva King takes Love Will Conquer All to another level with some absolutely gorgeous backing vocals. Absolutely brilliant!

Tonight Will Be Alright is a solid B-side. Nothing to write home about, but enjoyable. I would like to have heard this sung in a Neil Diamond style; in fact, I’d love to hear Neil Diamond cover it. That said, I just feel it needed a little more spit and polish in order to really blow my mind.  

Say You, Say Me is the song. It needs no introduction and nothing really needs to be said about it other than it’s utterly perfect. 

The reimagined version, as found on Tuskegee, doesn’t have the vocal or musical prowess as heard in the original and while it is good, the original is beyond reproach. 

Night Train (Smooth Alligator) gives me a feeling of déjà vu. Oh, that’s right, Side A had a questionable closing song as well. That said, the original vinyl releases omitted this song with it only appearing on the cassette and CD releases. Unfortunately, the latest vinyl reissues do include this ninth song and it has ruined the ending of Dancing On The Ceiling in my opinion. Hence, as much as I’d like to pick up a vinyl reissue of the album, I won’t be as long as they continue putting Night Train (Smooth Alligator) on the vinyl pressing. Look, it isn’t a bad song but Say You, Say Me was the perfect closer and if this song was to be included, it should have been done so before Say You, Say Me. Unfortunately, adding additional tracks was a thing that was done at the time. The only time I’ve come across a bonus track, that I wished was on the original cassette or vinyl release, was Michael Jackson’s Leave Me Alone; a song only initially available on the CD release of Bad

Despite this questionable closer, Dancing On The Ceiling is, without a doubt, one of the greatest R&B/Soul/Pop albums of the 80s and is arguably the very best work of Richie’s career. Yes, I love Can’t Slow Down as well, but I find Dancing On The Ceiling to be more fulfilling as a piece of musical art. I also find that I gravitate towards it more frequently and when I play Dancing On The Ceiling, it’s guaranteed to be played on repeat for hours.

Dancing On The Ceiling thankfully remains easily accessible, being available on Apple Music (Original | 2003 Reissue) and the iTunes Store (Original | 2003 Reissue). If you prefer physical media, you can pick up the 2003 extended reissue on CD or the standard nine-track vinyl reissue.

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Mötley Crüe – Dr. Feelgood (Album Review)

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Mötley Crüe – Dr. Feelgood (Album Review)

Without a doubt, Dr. Feelgood is one of the greatest hard rock albums of the 80s. With sales exceeding 6 million units, fans were obviously drawn to it, as I was, roughly three decades ago. As soon as I heard the intro to Dr. Feelgood, I was hooked and a fan for life. While Mötley Crüe can fill numerous greatest hits releases with their extensive back catalogue, Dr. Feelgood is an album that plays like a compilation of the very best the band has to offer and should be in every hard rock collection. It’s arguably perfect! 

The vinyl release I’m fortunate enough to own is the 2008 Eleven Seven Music/Mötley Records reissue (cat: ESM/MR 342). The artwork is reprinted adequately, although there is a mottling effect that appears throughout when looking closely as if the artwork had been scanned for the reissue. It’s not a major issue, but one that collectors may wish to look out for. The inner-sleeve liner notes are presented clearly, for those of us interested in seeing who contributed to Dr. Feelgood from a production standpoint. The lyrics are also reprinted beautifully and while I’m not overly focused on lyrical meaning, it’s great that they’re reprinted here for those of you who are interested in singing along. 

The record label is simple, but that is really all you need. The record itself is flat but my edition is a little noisy in between tracks, with a couple of small dropouts in Slice Of Your Pie. That’s just something that you have to deal with when collecting vinyl, but the noise element isn’t an issue, of course, when the music kicks in. 

Mastering wise, it sounds great. The pressing has a truly analogue feel, even though I believe the album was recorded digitally. The soundstage is massive with a clear separation between all instrumental elements and vocals. If you’re interested in a rock and roll album that highlights each member of the band, then look no further for this is the album for you. For bass fans, you’ll also be pleasantly surprised. Given many of the hard rock/metal albums of the 80s lack a decent low end, Dr. Feelgood makes up for all those that sound too shrill with a drum and bass beat that will send you to heaven as the masterful Mick Mars riffs the hell out of his guitar. Subsequently, if you can track down a copy of this 2008 reissue, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. I know I’m not. For comparison, albeit it not an ideal example, the Apple Music (non-Mastered for iTunes) release can’t even compare to the vinyl release. It sounds so flat and lifeless that I almost don’t like listening to it, but you can’t easily take vinyl everywhere with you; unless you’re into creating needle drops that is. It’s a time-consuming exercise, but one that purists swear by and yes the analogue-nature of vinyl does transfer to a digital file.  

It is important to note before venturing into the review of the individual songs, that the only editions available on Apple Music are the 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition and a standard 16-track reissue that I have no information about at all. Let’s just say that while the additional songs from the 16-track release may appeal to some fans, I find demos to be trivial additions and given that I feel the original 11-track lineup is approaching, if not reaching, pure perfection, I intend to ignore these additional tracks for this review and am thankful that I can exclude these additional demos when adding Dr. Feelgood to my digital library.  

SIDE ONE

T.n T. (Terror ‘n Tinseltown) is a great starter track. Short, to the point, but opens the album beautifully and is the perfect non-musical introduction for Dr. Feelgood. 

Dr. Feelgood needs no introduction. It is the reason I’m here and likely why you are too. Pump the volume and rock out to the incredibly rhythmic and catchy tune that is one of the very best songs Mötley Crüe has ever recorded.

While I suggested dismissing the additional demos, on the digital releases, Dr. Feelgood is one song that you may wish to take a listen to as the demo is sung from the doctor’s point-of-view. It isn’t great, but it isn’t bad either. It’s intriguing, but I’m glad it never made it to the original tracking of the album. 

The music video is a solid release but is arguably out-of-sync with the musicality and really all I want to see when I watch this music video is the band rocking out. We never really see Mick Mars do his thing properly. A shame considering what a magnificent guitarist he is. Think Slash’s solos in the Guns N’ Roses music videos, well, you aren’t getting that here. Despite that, the music video appealed to the audience of the era. I know it drew me in as I would wait patiently for it to come on TV. 

Slice Of Your Pie slows things down a little but is a great blues-based rock and roll song. Plus, if you’re a Beatles fan you may appreciate the closing elements that pay homage to I Want You (She’s So Heavy); one of my favourite Beatles tracks. Slice Of Your Pie is an all-round excellent song that is so multi-layered it needs to be heard to be believed. 

Rattlesnake Shake is hard and fast with a little rhythm thrown in for good measure; just the way I like it. 

Kickstart My Heart has another killer intro and the moment you hear it, you know exactly what you’re going to get. Perfect? I think so! 

The music video is rather solid and the intermingled adrenaline-based scenes shown while the band is playing is a nice effect but it would be an epileptic’s nightmare. Plus, the opening where the band are arriving for their own gig is simply lame.  

Without You is a beautiful power-ballad. The music video is, however, truly cringeworthy, but so few music videos from that era are timeless.

SIDE TWO

Same Ol’ Situation (S.O.S) is the perfect song to open side two with. What an incredible beat and rhythm. Rock and roll doesn’t get much better than this, does it? 

The music video is essentially a live tribute to the fans. I love it. It’s absolutely perfect and shows Mötley Crüe at arguably their very best, theatrics and all. It’s well edited and if you watch this music video sitting down, you’re watching it wrong. 

Sticky Sweet is a superb song and perfectly suited for Mötley Crüe. It may not be a song you’d write home about, but Dr. Feelgood wouldn’t be the same without it. Although, that ending is a little too sudden, especially if you’re rocking out to the groove. 

She Goes Down is a fun song and is another one that doesn’t let you take a breath as you rock out to this album. That drum and bass intertwining rhythm is off-the-charts. 

Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away) is a great blues-based near-ballad tune with, again, some killer musicality. 

The music video attempts to tell a story but fails miserably in my opinion. It just isn’t good and only gets better when the band reach the rehearsal space and Mars shreds it up as only he can. 

Time For Change is epic and is one of the greatest closers of any rock and roll album in my collection. It absolutely encourages me to listen to the album again and stay within Mötley Crüe’s back catalogue. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but Time For Change would have been a perfect Beatles hit, or even a Lennon masterpiece; it is that good!

Nothing more really needs to be said other than if you don’t already have a copy, in your collection, you should go and pick one up. You won’t regret it, but your neighbours might as this is one album that you’ll want to pump the volume on.

Dr. Feelgood is available on Vinyl, CD, and iTunes (16-Track | 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition). 

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