Friday, April 20, 2018

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: GUS G/FEARLESS



GUS G
FEARLESS

4.20.18

Konstantinos Karamitroudis is one of Rock’s hardest working musicians. However, you may not know him by that name. Konstantinos has wisely chosen to operate under the much-easier-to-pronounce stage name of Gus G as he makes his way through the Hard Rock universe. Formerly a member of Ozzy Osbourne’s band and the leader of Greek Power Metal band Firewind, Gus G was inspired to play guitar by listening to the classic live album FRAMPTON COMES ALIVE and the rest, as they say, is history.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES 6CD box reviewed by THE CHANCELLOR!




PETER AND THE TEST TUBE BABIES
THE ALBUMS 1982-87
(6CD)

Available NOW!

There are many reasons why I love Peter And The Test Tube Babies. One of those reasons is the fact that main men Peter Bywaters (vocals) and guitarist Del Strangefish (guitar) seem to be playing in two completely different bands… and the results have always been inspiring and outstanding! Peter is a straightforward, in-your-face street punk with a wicked sense of humor while Del plays as if the Test Tube Babies are an anthemic Post-Punk band like Skids or Magazine. It is a strange and thoroughly wonderful mix of styles that shouldn’t work yet it does… and it has for 40 years! Del’s siren-like guitar riffs lift these songs off the ground while Peter steers them in different directions like a rogue helicopter pilot. You can experience the magic yourself with Captain Oi/Cherry Red Records’ excellent six CD box set THE ALBUMS: 1982-87.

Forming in 1978 and appearing on the VAULTAGE 78 compilation, the band continued to release songs on various Oi compilations. While these early tracks laid the foundation for the band’s legendary Punk status, Peter and the Tubers were still finding their voice. Oddly enough, their 1982 debut album – PISSED AND PROUD - was a live release and includes powerful versions of songs from the EP “Banned From The Pubs” and single “Run Like Hell.” Inching closer to their signature sound, this live album is a fine introduction to the band but their signature sound would blossom on their studio releases.


THE MATING SOUNDS OF SOUTH AMERICAN FROGS (1983) was an album that introduced the band’s unique approach to Punk Rock. Like an unlikely mix of The Adicts’ SOUND OF MUSIC, The Clash’s GIVE ‘EM ENOUGH ROPE, and 999’s SEPARATES plus a few UK Subs b-sides, MATING SOUNDS… was – and is – something unique and exciting. The Punk bluster of “One Night Stand” is broken mid-song by a gentle acoustic bit before kicking back into high gear. “Guest List,” “Let’s Burn,” “The Jinx,” “Never Made It” and other tracks are shouty Oi Punk songs with some of the catchiest guitar riffs you’re likely to hear on any album from this era. “Blown Out Again” is as delicious as it is malicious. The funky horn-laden “Pissed Punks (Go For It)” takes a swipe at Wham and other Top 40 Pop chartbusters. MATING SOUNDS… is nearly 40 minutes of fun that still sounds fresh today.


THE LOUD BLARING PUNK ROCK ALBUM (1984) was originally solicited as a collection of 1979 recordings that had remained in the vaults until the band’s success in ’83. While that would explain the album’s primitive Punk sound, it was complete B.S. In essence, this third album was actually the follow-up to MATING SOUNDS… but recorded under completely different circumstances. Made up of songs written for a side project that Peter and Del were involved with plus some very early unrecorded Test Tube songs, LOUD BLARING… was a fine Punk album but worlds away from MATING SOUNDS… This did sound like the same band that had recorded the early singles and the live debut album so it wasn’t too far away from the band’s origins.  Certainly fun, LOUD BLARING… is a fine release but not the album we deserved after the highs of their previous album. 

With a title that was rooted in their wacky sense of humor, ROTTING IN THE FART SACK was a 1985 EP that brought the band back to the poppy world they had discovered with MATING SOUNDS… “Ten Deadly Sins” is a fun Cow-Punk romp. “Rotting In The Fart Sack” sounds like a drunken rewrite of “The Air That I Breathe” (which certainly points towards a wicked sense of humor). “Spirit Of Keith Moon” and “Boozanza” would show up – in slightly remixed form – on their next album.  The CD version in this box includes some further single edits and live tracks.


1986’s SOBERPHOBIA was the proper full-length follow-up to MATING SOUNDS… and was a foray into the Pop world without abandoning their snotty Punk roots and sense of humor. Similar to The Adicts’ musical trajectory from Punk stalwarts to melodic Post-Punks, this release may not have pleased their hardcore Punk fanbase but anyone looking for a collection of crackin’ tunes was in for a treat. SOBERPHOBIA is filled to the brim with punky hooks and shout-alongs: “Louise Wouldn’t Like It,” “Key To The City,” “He’s On The Whiskey (Watch Out),” and “Every Time I See Her” are fun as hell highlights from yet another tasty album. (Hey Pop fans! Chris Gent plays sax on the album.  You can also here him as lead vocalist on The Records’ third album, MUSIC ON BOTH SIDES!)


TEST TUBE RARITIES gathers up rare early tracks including non-album singles, compilation appearances and demos along with other non-album cuts released during the period represented in this set. This disc serves as both a ‘loose ends’ collection (which is obviously its intention) as well as a nice look into the band’s evolution on one handy disc!

A glorious racket from start to finish, this is a box that lives up to the band’s legend.  Seek and you shall find wondrous audio treasures hidden within! 


Your pal,
Stephen THE CHANCELLOR Schnee

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

THE CHANCELLOR reviews THE ESSENCE - 35: The Collection box set




THE ESSENCE
35: THE COLLECTION 1985-2015
(5CD)

Available NOW!


First off, I’d like to address the elephant in the room:

The Cure.

The first thing you notice when listening to Dutch Post-Punk band The Essence is that they sound remarkably like SEVENTEEN SECONDS/FAITH-era Cure. Regardless of the band's similarities to Robert Smith and Co.,  The Essence has created a back catalog that stands on its own.  In fact, Cherry Red Records’ THE ESSENCE 35: THE COLLECTION 1985-2015 brings everything together into one five CD box. What is really impressive about The Essence is that they were able to create some very fine albums that mixed the cold atmosphere of Goth Rock with the angular stomp of Post-Punk, the wistful melodies of Pure Pop, and the adventurous glide of New Wave. Top that off with plenty of emotion and that sums up The Essence and this box set.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SNOOP DOGG/220


SNOOP DOGG
220

Available NOW!

Snoop Dogg is a pop culture icon. He’s a Hip Hop pioneer with a distinctive style and three decades of hits.  No longer thought of solely as a rapper, Snoop has dipped his toes into every aspect of the entertainment business. He is one of the most recognizable figures in the music business and his reputation -if not his music – is known by pre-teens and grandparents alike. He’s topped the charts and sold millions of albums. He’s been nominated for Grammys, starred in motion pictures, logged in many TV appearances and invested in many business ventures (and not all of them marijuana- related!). However, just because Snoop has become a man for all seasons doesn’t mean that he’s playing it safe these days – far from it! From Reggae to Gospel, Mr. Dogg has expanded his musical vision and has successfully tackled a variety of styles yet he hasn’t turned his back on his Rap roots.

Monday, April 9, 2018

THE CHANCELLOR reviews RUPERT HOLMES' 3CD set SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE MOVIES!


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RUPERT HOLMES
SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE MOVIES:
THE COMPLETE EPIC RECORDINGS

Available NOW!

If you mention the name Rupert Holmes, two songs immediately come to mind: “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” and “Him.” Those massive hits were taken from the 1979 album PARTNERS IN CRIME, still his most popular studio release. However, what many don’t realize is that Rupert had been an extremely busy musician and since the late ‘60s.  From being a member and songwriter in The Cuff Links and The Buoys during Bubblegum's heyday, Rupert would then go on to work with many successful and influential artists over the years including Barbra Streisand, Barry Manilow, The Partridge Family and Sparks. Not only that, he had already released four full-length solo platters prior to his commercial breakthrough album. And since then, he has added playwright and author to his very large resume. But before we spend all day creating a list of his many accomplishments, let’s focus on the beginning of his solo career in the mid- ‘70s.

His first three solo albums released on the Epic Records label – WIDESCREEN (1974), RUPERT HOLMES (1975) and SINGLES (1976) – have just been digitally remastered, expanded and compiled on the three CD box set SONGS THAT SOUND LIKE MOVIES: THE COMPLETE EPIC RECORDINGS courtesy of Cherry Red Records. These albums may be 40+ years old but the warmth of the production and Rupert’s expert Pop craftsmanship have kept them timeless slices of ‘70s sophistication. The title of this set does not lie – these truly are songs that are cinematic in scope, filled with depth and imagination. 

While it would be safe to compare Rupert’s early masterpieces to artists like Billy Joel, Harry Nilsson, Randy Newman and Harry Chapin, to compare him to anyone would be a disservice to Holmes.  It is true that Rupert’s albums would definitely appeal to fans of those artists’ but Holmes is really his own man. He should actually be listed alongside them rather than being compared to them.  One listen to this set and you’re sure to agree.


WIDESCREEN is the first of the three albums and it reveals a talent well beyond his years. Tracks like “Terminal,” “Our National Pastime,” “Talk,” “Phantom Of The Opera,” and the title track are instantly lovable slices of intelligent, well-written tales with melodies that are hard to deny. Bonus tracks include very rare live recordings from 1978 and a few other tidbits.

The self-titled sophomore album expands upon the musical themes of first album, adding some Rock, Disco, and Soul into the mix. “Brass Knuckles”, “Rifles And Rum,” and “Everything Gets Better When You’re Drunk,” are a little beefier than tracks off the debut. “The Place Where Failure Goes” is a gem of a Pop tune. “I Don’t Want To Hold Your Hand” is a song about The Beatles which includes lyrical and musical nods to the Fab Four just five short years after their split. There are some nice ballads here as well, making RUPERT HOLMES an excellent follow-up to the debut. No sophomore slump here, folks. Bonus tracks include rare live recordings.



Contrary to what you would think, SINGLES is not a collection of Rupert’s seven-inch singles. Actually, it is a most excellent album that continues to blend Rupert’s skills as a songwriter, arranger and storyteller. However, this time, he’s less cinematic and more hook-conscious. There’s still a touch of Soul in the mix as Rupert’s Pop melodies rise to the surface, making some of this material the most immediate in this box set. “Who, What, When, Where, Why” sound like a hit single – a mix of Billy Joel and Steely Dan. “Aw Shucks” is a rockin’, horn-fueled gem that is one of the album’s many outstanding gems.  “For Beginners Only” is a sock hop pastiche that might have easily fit on a Neil Sedaka album from the ‘70s. “I Don’t Want To Get Over You” and “The Last Of The Romantics” are just a few more highlights.



In a way, listening to this set is a bit like living in a world created by Neil Simon.  And that is a wonderful thing….


Keep on truckin’,
Stephen THE CHANCELLOR Schnee


Thursday, April 5, 2018

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SARAH SHOOK & THE DISARMERS/YEARS


SARAH SHOOK & THE DISARMERS
YEARS

4.6.18

Country Music has gone through a major metamorphosis over the years. Modern Country radio resembles Pop radio of the ‘90s and you’d be hard pressed to find a pedal steel guitar on any track gracing the Top 40. For those looking for a more traditional slice of Country Music, you’ll need to look outside of the charts and turn your attention to hard-working rootsy Americana outfits like Sarah Shook & The Disarmers in order to get your traditional Country fix.

Friday, March 30, 2018

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE RADIATORS/WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE


THE RADIATORS
WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE

3.30.18

Celebrating their 40th Anniversary as a band, New Orleans’ The Radiators release WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE, their 20th album overall. Their first studio album in roughly a decade, WELCOME TO THE MONKEY HOUSE is a welcome return for the band that also serves as a reminder of their much-missed talents. While the band no longer operates as a full-time outfit, all the original members reunite each year to play the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Instead of letting their 40th Anniversary pass them by, the band decided to head back into the studio and record a handful of new tracks mixed with a healthy dose of songs that have littered their live set for decades but have never made it to an album!