Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2018

2018 was a great year for music.  So much so, that I struggled condensing all those tasty new tunes into a top ten – and I’m still not sure I’ve got it right.  There are several other albums that could have featured in an annual top ten, but for reason or other didn’t make the cut.

Anyway, those cool folks at Ever Metal asked me to put together a list of my ten favourite rock and metal releases for the year.  I did so, Ever Metal posted it, and I thought I’d share with my Virtual Hot tub readers too.

So here we go, in reverse order:

  1. Ghost – “Prequelle”
  2. Gama Bomb – “Speed Between the Lines”
  3. Orange Goblin – “The Wolf Bites Back”
  4. Earthless – “Black Heaven”
  5. 1968 – “Ballads of the Godless”
  6. Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats – “Wasteland”
  7. Monster Magnet – “Mindfucker”
  8. Corrosion of Conformity – “No Cross No Crown”
  9. Fu Manchu – “Clone of the Universe”
  10. Clutch – “Book of Bad Decisions”

Hope you did a Smashy and Nicey voice in your head whilst you counted that down.

Some classic albums there, in my opinion at least.  Honorable mentions are due for Sleep, High on Fire and Satan’s Satyrs (amongst others) who just missed out.  Who knows, next week I might have changed my mind.

Finally, a big thanks to the Ever Metal team for having me on board.  It’s a real honour to be part of the team, and writing for the site has been one of my highlights of last year. Here’s to contributing more in 2019.  Cheers!

Visit the Ever Metal site here and check out some cool music!

Random Bike Ride Playlist 2017 #1

It’s been a long, long time since I posted a random bike ride playlist.  My PC has had a few technical issues which impacted on my iTunes selection.  Oh, the joys of digital music.

Anyway, I went on a big cycle ride and left the music choice up to the iPod.  This is what I heard whilst on shuffle.

  1. Amy Winehouse – “Tears Dry On Their Own”
  2. Municipal Waste – “Lunch Hall Food Bawl”
  3. Sex Pistols – “No One is Innocent”
  4. Napalm Death – “Born on Your Knees”
  5. Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash – “If I Were a Carpenter”
  6. Nancy Sinatra featuring Lee Hazlewood – “Jackson”
  7. PJ Harvey – “Good Fortune”
  8. Killing Joke – “S.O.36”
  9. Husker Du – “Wheels”
  10. Manic Street Preachers – “Motorcycle Emptiness”
  11. The Cult – “Wilderness Now”
  12. John Lee Hooker – “I’m Gonna Kill That Woman”
  13. Valient Thorr – “Problem Solver”
  14. Rocket From The Crypt – “Ratsize”
  15. Pearl Jam – “Footsteps”
  16. SNFU – “Electric Chair”
  17. Ramones – “It’s Gonna Be Alright”
  18. Van Halen – “Where Have All the Good Times Gone?”
  19. PJ Harvey – “Meet Ze Monster”
  20. Social Distortion – “Writing on the Wall”
  21. Solarized – “Chrome Shop”
  22. Thin Lizzy – “Silver Dollar”
  23. Beastie Boys – “Shadrach”
  24. Johnny Cash – “Daddy Sang Bass”
  25. Pat Benatar – “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”
  26. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Love Me Two Times”
  27. Anthrax – “I’m The Man”
  28. The Answer – “Evil Man”
  29. Judas Priest – “Here Come the Tears”
  30. Fu Manchu – “Missing Link”
  31. Jello Biafra & The Melvins – “Yuppie Cadillac”
  32. Clutch – “Ship of Gold”
  33. Jimmy Eat World – “Hear You Me”
  34. Stevie Wonder – “For Once in My Life”
  35. The Cult – “Full Tilt”
  36. The Byrds – “The Times They Are a-Changin'”
  37. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts – “Love is Pain”
  38. Weezer – “Pork and Beans”
  39. Manic Street Preachers – “Suicide is Painless”
  40. Bad Company – “Seagull”
  41. The Clash – “Jimmy Jazz”
  42. Reverend Horton Heat – “In Your Wildest Dreams”
  43. The Monkees – “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone”
  44. The Who – “See Me Feel Me”

Wow, I didn’t even know I had that Pat Benatar track!

There you have it – a mix of genres making a nice, eclectic mix of music.  Till next time…

Crobot/Scorpion Child/Buffalo Summer – Gig Review

Crobot + Scorpion Child + Buffalo Summer 

Wednesday 11th November 2015

The Live Rooms, Chester

Wednesday night, but that doesn’t stop me.  When there is a need to rock, I rock.  I ain’t no weekend greaser.

The crowd in the Live Rooms was a healthy size, and quite rightly too.  Three bands for a tenner – and all of them up and coming hard rock superstars.  It’s a night of 21st century music that has one foot in 70’s classic rock, though striding confidently in to the modern realm.

Up first were Buffalo Summer, four lads from South Wales (yay!) who command the stage like seasoned masters.  Their mix of classic Free and Southern Skynyrd boogie is enhanced with some Sonic Temple era Cult swagger.  Powerful and melodic with a rough edge, their songs are anthemic but still have guts.  “Down to the River” was just one highlight in a terrific set, but take my word for it and check ’em out for yourself.

Next up were Scorpion Child, all the way from Texas.  Their version of classic rock was part Zep deep fried in Purple, and all tasty goodness.  These guys go for epic and do not compromise.  The songs build with purpose and create huge sonic vistas that hint at their geographic origin.  “Liqour”, “Kings Highway” and “Antioch” are all songs that capture Scorpion Child’s ability to meld molten riffs with a truly grand vision.  Fantastic.

Our final band of the night were Crobot, who erupt on the stage with electrified enthusiasm.  Their first album, “Something Supernatural”, is awesome – but the songs have even more groove live; Crobot are hugely powerful, with riffs that are simply titanic.  There are tons of highlights, “Skull of Geronimo”, “The Necromancer” and “Chupacabra” being just a few.  If you dig Clutch or Wolfmother, welcome to your new favourite band.  You need Crobot in your life sooner rather than later!

Reporting from the front lines, I’m happy to say that rock – classic, heavy, groovy rock – is alive and well.  Do not hide, do not run for cover – get out there and catch Crobot, Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer now!

The Live Rooms website is here.

You can follow Crobot, Scorpion Child and Buffalo Summer on Twitter.  Get on it, you need to be ready.

crobot-scorpion-child-uk-tour

Download Festival

DL2015

Sunday 14th June 2015

Over the years I’ve been to Reading, Leeds and Rewind Festivals – even Chester Rocks.  Though I’ve never been to a full on outdoors Hard Rock/Metal festival, much to my regret.  Thus when the opportunity arose to get my rockin’ self to Download, the epicentre of all heavy rock fests, I seized the chance with gloved fist.  And then did the devil horn salute.

Due to time and financial constraints, it would only be a one day escapade with my buddies Ben the Swede and Coben.  Sadly this would mean missing such favourites as Faith No More, Clutch, Judas Priest, COC and many more.  But never mind – the gods of rock threw down their gauntlet and we would charge into the melee.

After a right old slog from the car to the main gates, we eventually entered the stadium like gladiators – ready for the first spectacle of the day.  The first band we saw were Tremonti, who I’d never heard of before.  Halfway through their set, the band were actually heavier than I thought and I enjoyed what I heard.  Worth further investigation.

At this point the heavens opened and the rain poured.  No matter – we were already making our way to the third stage to catch a “secret” set from The Darkness.  It was packed – everyone had the same idea, or at least decided this was better than drowning.  The set began with a monstrous riff that went on forever and did a good job of pumping the crowd up.  This intro enabled singer Justin Hawkins to make his way from the back to the stage, in true over the top style.  The Darkness then delivered a raucous set that roared at the sky – opener “Barbarian” accompanied by a load of Vikings on stage was great.  The hit singles “Growing on Me” and closer “I Believe in a Ting Called Love” were real crowd pleasers.  “Black Shuck” was my personal favourite, in a set that became the first true event of the day.  Not a secret, but surprisingly good. 2015-06-14 16.51.05

The next event was witnessing one of my all time heroes, the one and only Mr Billy Idol, live in concert for the first time.  I’ve been a fan of Billy for years.  In all honesty, many of his songs are too pop for this audience; so hits like “Hot in the City” and “Catch My Fall” (both personal faves) are sadly omitted.  However, with old pal Steve Stevens providing the guitar onslaught there’s plenty of rock to be had.  “Dancing with Myself”, “White Wedding” and “Rebel Yell” all provide quality entertainment and I have to admit that I was thrilled to see this old warrior in action.  A great warm up for the rest of the evening.

Now with four stages and dozens of acts spread across the Download field, the only down side is making tough choices on who to watch if bands clash.  Especially as “a quick trip across the field” becomes a gruelling endurance test when it’s uphill in a muddy hell.  The first major casualty of the day was Eagles of Death Metal, whom I love dearly and have never seen live.

2015-06-14 17.19.04But I made a choice to see L7 instead of Slash, and boy am I glad I did.  Recently reformed, the four grungettes of L7 played a fantastic set.  The sound was great on the second stage, perhaps because I was closer?  Either way, “Andres”, “Fuel My Fire” and “Shitlist” were truly great.  Though “Everglade” was absolutely bonkers.  The riff that kills!  L7 are heavy!  I smiled a lot.  “Pretend We’re Dead” wasn’t bad either.  Fuck it, band of the day!

I caught the last four and a half songs by Slash.  He was pretty cool, but no L7.  “Anastasia” is a great song, and I have to say that Myles Kennedy has an awesome voice.  “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Paradise City” were both better with Kennedy and without Axl’s screeching.  Can I count this as having seen Guns’n’Roses live, as there’s only Axl left in that band?  Why the hell not!

Next up on the main stage was Motley Crue.  I wasn’t a fan of the Crue back in their heyday, other than one or two songs.  I’ve grown to appreciate them over the last fifteen years or so, much like I’ve grown to love Priest and Maiden.  Now on their final tour, the show promised to be big.  Motley Crue didn’t disappoint, delivering a punch in the face set that was one of the best of the day.  They played their cards right, delivering all the hits: “Wildside”, “Primal Scream”, “Dr. Feelgood” and “Shout at the Devil” were superb.  The only less than impressive moment was an unnecessary, but well intentioned, cover of “Anarchy in the UK”. 2015-06-14 20.21.35

There was spectacle in abundance – sexy backing singers in tiny shorts; flames that were hot enough to give me a Hollywood sun tan from a hundred feet away; dear old Vince Neil looking less than svelte.  “Girls Girls Girls” and “Kick Start My Heart” both built the set to a red hot climax.  “Home Sweet Home” was a fitting encore, ending a triumphant appearance.

And so last up we have head-liners Kiss. A band I’ve loved ever since I fist saw adverts for their t-shirts in old 1970’s Marvel comics – though I had no idea if they were rock stars, superheroes, or what.  I’d never seen Kiss before so this was something to look forward to.  Full make up, all the pyro – I was hungry for the experience.

Kiss explode into “Detroit Rock City” and “Deuce” – songs that lesser bands would have saved for the encore.  The show is a visual feast; lights, huge screens, explosions all attack the senses and create Las Vegas in the English Midlands.  I get to hear my two absolute total favourite Kiss songs ever – “I Love It Loud” and “Calling Dr. Love”.  That was me happy right there. 2015-06-14 21.14.07

The Kiss set did wander a little bit though.  Obviously gearing their songs to a heavier crowd, we get three songs in a row from “Creatures of the Night” – their heaviest album.  The songs “Creatures of the Night” and “War Machine” are great, but not top of the Kiss list.  Plus there’s newer numbers “Psycho Circus” and “Hell or Hallelujah” which are just OK.

A little too much solo spot indulgence was my cue to take a comfort break.  On the way back, I dived in to catch Suicidal Tendencies on the smallest stage.  I only saw five songs, but ST were incredible.  “I Shot the Devil” and “War Inside My Head” tore the place apart.  I couldn’t make out all of Mike Muir’s between song banter, but he was fired up and intense as hell.  Hearing “Possessed to Skate” was an unforgettable moment.  Muir dedicated to everyone who skates – thanks Mike – and it took me back to loving ST back in my early skate days.  Absolutely mental punk thrash, I need to see Suicidal Tendencies again.

Returning to the main stage area, I caught the last few Kiss songs and was very impressed with what I’d seen.  Minor gripes aside, it was a privilege to see the band and experience a Kiss show first hand.

So there you have it.  Download 2015 was hampered by bad weather, and a poor layout that abandoned stupid amusement rides in the middle where the bar (and another toilet) should have been.  Yet despite being forced mercilessly to choose between too many bands, I got to see some great rock’n’roll and enjoyed a cool, fun atmosphere.  Oh yeah, and the festival staff were pleasant and friendly.  On the whole a good job.

Karma to Burn – Live Review

Karma to Burn + Desert Storm + Bad Earth

Thursday 28th August 2014

The Live Rooms, Chester

Another gig at the Live Rooms in Chester – and tonight it’s a night of stoner rock!

The first band on are Bad Earth.  Unfortunately (and as per usual, looking back at my previous gig reviews!) I missed the start of the set.  I saw most of their performance, however – and Bad Earth deliver a great selection of thunderous tunes in a Kyuss vein.  Awesome quality for an opening band, we are definitely not in the Kansas dust bowl of amateurs tonight.  These guys are professional and they rock.  I’ll ensure I catch the full set next time.

Up next are Oxford based Desert Storm.  Any punter would be expecting more of the same, but this band roar off in another direction.  Their sound is more riff based and reminds me of Clutch.  I love Clutch.  Their singer looks like Shaggy from Scooby Doo, and when he opens his mouth I first detected what I thought was a Death Metal bellow.  This instantly warped into a honey and bourbon drenched growl that was more Howlin’ Wolf than Napalm Death.  Astonishing.

I thoroughly enjoyed Desert Storm, and happily recommend them to anyone who loves chunky, funky guitar riffs with a bluesy, earthy voice whirling around it.  Wish I’d bought the CD. Karma-To-Burn-UK-Tour-2014

The unusual aspect tonight is that I have never listened to any of the bands before, not even the headliners.  I had heard of Karma to Burn, but not actually listened to them.  Now what the smart 21st century kids do is check out a few tunes first on YouTube or Spotify, to see if the band in question appeals.  But that’s not very stoner rock, is it?  We’re talking about bands forged in the fires of Master of Reality and Volume 4, not the digital age.  Also, it’s more of an adventure to take a chance!

Karma to Burn are from West Virginia, USA.  They play a set that is instrumental.  That’s without vocals, kids!  Not an easy task to pull off – without vocals the listener doesn’t have as many clues to song structure.  However there are less distractions from the mighty attack of guitar/bass/drums and the atmosphere that Karma to Burn are able to create.

With barely a breather between tracks, the riffs are constantly washing over the audience relentlessly.  The band create a psychedelic assault, as if in a Grand Canyon watched over by an Olympian Billy Gibbons.  It is indeed incredible, and unlike anything I’ve witnessed before.

The moral of this story is, take a chance on live music, you never know what you’re going to find.  Whilst it’s always a buzz to see a band you’re already a fan of, sometimes a little adventure is what we need.

Good night, and God bless.

The Live Rooms web page is here.

Karma to Burn’s website is here.

Desert Storm and Bad Earth both appear to have Facebook pages, check ’em out.

Random Bike Ride Playlist #3

Monday’s bike ride – a bit late but never mind.  Sixteen miles.

  1. Roxy Music – “In Every Dream Home a Heartache”
  2. Syd Dale – “Come One Come All”
  3. Vince Dicola – “Training Montage”
  4. D.R.I. – “Suit and Tie Guy”
  5. Hanna-Barbera – “Yogi Bear (Main Title)”
  6. Oakenfold – “The Way I Feel”
  7. Neil Young – “Tell Me Why”
  8. LL Cool J – “Illegal Search”
  9. N.W.A. – “Cash Money (Insert)”
  10. Luke ft The 2 Live Crew – “In Colour-Men on Records”
  11. Smut Peddlers – “Let’s Get Fucked Up”
  12. The Company Band – “Lethe Waters”
  13. Neil Young – “Revolution Blues”
  14. UK Subs – “Limo Life”
  15. Clutch – “WYSIWYG”
  16. Black Label Society – “Blood is Thicker Than Water”
  17. Duffy – “Stepping Stone”
  18. The Cardigans – “Marvel Hill”
  19. T.S.O.L. – “Waiting For You”
  20. Elton John – “The Bitch is Back”
  21. Roy Orbison – “She’s a Mystery to Me”
  22. Alice Cooper – “Pretty Ballerina”
  23. Flipper – “Sex Bomb”
  24. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “Monkberry Moon”
  25. The Stupids – “Sorry, It Blew My Head”
  26. John Zacherle – “Coolest Little Monster”
  27. The Damned – “Sugar and Spite”
  28. Johnny Cash – “White Girl”
  29. Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster – “Man For All Seasons”