Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock and Metal Albums of 2020

Good riddance, 2020! Am I right, or what? Still, it’s not all bad. There were some absolutely magnificent albums released last year – some I reviewed for my buddies at Ever Metal, some I discovered through other means. Some were massive, huge hits; others were small yet mighty triumphs.

Despite a lack of live music, there was plenty to investigate music-wise. So much so that it was really difficult to compile my annual Top 10 Albums list for Ever Metal. A few giants of rock and metal, though they released highly accomplished work, were reluctantly forsaken in my search for the crème de la crop.

Here they are, in (natch) reverse order:

10. The Goners – “Good Mourning”

9. Supersuckers – “Play That Rock’n’Roll”

8. Testament – “Titans of Creation”

7. Weed Demon – “Crater Maker”

6. The Atomic Bitchwax – “Scorpio”

5. Volcanova – “Radical Waves”

4. The Brothers Keg – “Folklore, Myths and Legends of The Brothers Keg”

3. Son of Boar – “Stoned Wail”

2. Desert Storm – “Omens”

  1. AC/DC – “Power Up”

I thought that this year, one of the smaller, indie label bands was sure to get to number 1. It almost happened, but then AC/DC released the total brain melter of “Power Up”, pretty much saving 2020 in the process. Now if only Angus and Co could release an album monthly, we might be able to get through 2021.

A few shout outs for notable mentions who didn’t make the cut this year, such as Ozzy, Wino and others. Seriously can’t believe I left out “Danzig Sings Elvis”, though.

You can read my full Top 10 (plus plenty of others) on the Ever Metal website, which also features links to songs and videos. Highly recommended! The direct link is here.

All the best for 2021 – here’s hoping for more great music!

The Best of 2020

Well, that was a mad old year, wasn’t it? 2020 was more like a bizarre disaster movie than the regular fun ride that we’re used to. A pandemic made hermits of us all; working from home became the new normal for many and travel and events ceased to exist. A year from hell for most of us, though it’s far from over yet.

Here at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, we’ve aimed to soldier on and bring you the very best in blogging entertainment. Be it music, skateboards, toys or tat, whatever nonsense I could investigate was delivered with all the expected wit and style.

As is customary at this time, let’s take a look back at the top ten most popular blog posts of last year. Calling it “The Best of 2020” seems somewhat incongruous, but let’s roll with it for traditions sake.

10. Haiku – Autumn

An encouraging response to my creative writing, I was very surprised to see that this poetry piece in the Japanese Haiku style was my tenth most-read post of the year. Encore?

9. Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon Album Review

There was a distinct lack of live music in 2020 (Obviously), but quite a few album reviews for my old pals at Ever Metal. This review of Swedish doom metal band Firebreather’s album was the most read at the Virtual Hot Tub.

8. Halloween Horror Fest 2020

The first of my annual horror movie reviews of 2020, this one featured the Hammer version of Dracula.

7. The Best of 2019

I’m not sure if last years top 10 blogs appearing here is a good thing or not? Either way, 2019’s round up of the most popular blogs was a winner.

6. STYLE: Safari Jacket

2020 saw the materialisation of the long-promised STYLE section at the Virtual Hot Tub. This first blog, concerning the wonderful Safari jacket, got us off to a great start.

5. Skate Art: Liane Plant/Death Skateboards

A feature about some of my favourite skate art, as created by the super talented Liane Plant for Death skateboards. Awesome stuff.

4. SK88: Old School Skateboard Playlist

More skateboard based action, with a playlist of songs from my skating youth in the late 80’s. Full of stone-cold classics, these songs still inspire my sessions today.

3. Death Star Playset

I love my vintage Death Star playset. Setting it up with original Star Wars figures for some blog photos was a lot of fun, it’s great to see it was popular!

2. 1980s Skateboard Style

More skateboarding, and another successful entry for the STYLE section! It’s me, dressed in old skate clothes from the late 80s that still fit (or did, before lockdown).

…And what will be the most popular, widely read blog of 2020? Drum roll, please:

  1. Kantouni Village Sausage and Tzatziki

Yes, the most popular was this food blog, which benefitted from a genuine traditional recipe, and an idea to recreate a Greek holiday vibe with ingredients from the local supermarket.

As travel wasn’t happening this year for most of us, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Greek recipe blog came out on top. It was written as an ode to holidays and Mediterranean sunshine, something that wasn’t a possibility for many last year. I hope you found some nostalgic comfort from this post.

Usually my annual Top 10 has featured a load of comic con events – or similar – at the top of the list. Those events didn’t happen this year, so the Top 10 has a very different flavour. Who knows what 2021 will bring us?

Whatever the strange pan-dimensional cross flux of crazy brings us next, I’d like to thank you all for reading my blog. Please remember to pop by Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub as soon as you can!

The Best of 2019

Happy New Year, readers!  And welcome back to Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub – the web’s number one virtual location for soaking in warm, relaxing waters and enjoying my virtual adventures.

What a year 2019 has been.  I’ve been to Comic Cons; written album reviews for Ever Metal; indulged in another traditional Halloween Horror Fest – and finally managed to get to a few gigs.  Food and drinks reviews, as well as toy and tat blogs, have also made a comeback.

But what have been the most popular and widely read blogs in the last year?  Let’s rewind the clocks and take a look, with a good ol’ countdown from ten to the number one spot…

10. Little Shop of Halloween Horror Fests

At last!  Some Halloween Horror Fest love, with my final set of reviews breaking into the Top 10.  A first for my horror movie reviews, as far as I remember.  A triple bill of The Wolf Man, Little Shop of Horrors and Lust for a Vampire.

9. New Deck 2019 – Death Skateboards Richie Jackson

All about my latest skate set-up, including sexy pictures of a very fine skateboard.

8. Ewok Village Playset

My vintage Star Wars Ewok Village playset made a welcome appearance.  I must feature some more of my collection in the future.

7. That Beer Place

Very happy to see such a cool local beer emporium prove so popular.  Well done, That Beer Place!

6. Liverpool Comic Con 2019 – Part 1

A great day out, and the blog didn’t fare too badly at all.  No sign of Part 2 in the countdown, though…

5. Death by Tacos, Chester

The number one food place in Chester makes a justified appearance in the Top 5 most popular blogs.  Awesome food and service.

4. Tat Trek Update #8: Jo Guest Strip Pen

Miracle of miracles – an item from my Tat collection rockets into the most popular blogs for the first time ever!  Perhaps the saucy nature of the Jo Guest strip pen is to blame…

3. Wales Comic Con 2019

Always a great Comic Con, with fantastic guests and most importantly – as evidenced by this blog – amazing cosplay.

2. MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 1

The first part of my visit to the NEC for Comic Con made it to the number two spot.  Few words but plenty of brilliant cosplay.

And now – announcing the Most Read Blog of 2019 at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub.  What could it be?  Why it’s…

1. MCM Comic Con Birmingham 2019 – Part 2

Only a couple of views more than Part 1, but Part 2 takes the crown for the most popular blog this year!

It’s great to see a variety of different topics be successful this year.  Comic conventions, food and skateboards always fare well, but I’m very happy to see Star Wars toys and a bit of tat break through for the first time.I’ll endeavour to deliver more in 2020 – who knows what we’ll see?

My thanks to all my readers over the last year – I appreciate every single view, like and comment.  I wish you all a healthy and prosperous 2020.

Platinum Al’s Top 10 Rock/Metal Albums of 2019

2019 has been an exceptional year for new music.  It started off slowly, but by the end of the year I was struggling to keep up.

As per last year, Ever Metal asked me to produce a Top Ten of my favourite rock and metal albums of the year.  So here we go:

  1. Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard – Yn Ol I Annwn
  2. Speedealer – Blue Days Black Nights
  3. Obey – Swallow The Sun
  4. Acid Reign – The Age of Entitlement
  5. Sunn O))) – Life Metal
  6. Earth – Full Upon Her Burning Lips
  7. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel – Very Uncertain Times
  8. Giant Dwarf – Giant Dwarf
  9. Monolord – No Comfort
  10. Crobot – Motherbrain

All fantastic records.  Honorable mentions this time to Kadavar, Firebreather, L7, Wizard Rifle and Duel.

For more rock reviews, interviews and top tens, head over to Ever Metal.

Happy New Year everybody – wishing you a very healthy and prosperous 2020!

And thanks for vising Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!  Make sure you come back next year, and if you’ve got any requests or suggestions, please get in touch.

The Best of 2017

The New Year is now well underway, and I hope it’s treating you well, dear reader.  There are many more joyous blogs to unleash upon the world in 2018, but for now let’s re-cap some of the most popular from last year.

I’ve done some research, and found the Top Ten most viewed blog posts at the Virtual Hot Tub.

Here they are, in reverse order:

10. 1968 – Gig Review

In May I went to Telford’s Warehouse in Chester to witness for myself the awesome riffage of the mighty 1968.  A fine band – they have a new album coming soon, so don’t delay, dive right in and discover them now!

9. New Set Up – Death Skateboards

Summer saw the arrival of my new Death skateboards deck.  I took some nice photos of the setup looking shiny and new, then thrashed it and shined the graphics.

8. MCM Comic Con 2017 – Part 2

The second part of my blog about visiting MCM Comic Con at the NEC.  Featuring loads of Cosplay photos, which are always popular.

7. Pandan Leaf, Prestatyn

Pandan Leaf is a superb Asian restaurant in Prestatyn, North Wales; I enjoyed a sensational meal there earlier in the year.  A highly recommended place to eat, I hope this little write up helped them out.  Go there if you can.

6. Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – Bonus Scenes

Sadly I didn’t make it to Sci-Fi Weekender in 2017.  I did have some photos left over from 2016, however, so I could post a pre-Weekender warm up.  This blog includes the now traditional “No Photos!” section.

5. Pentre Fest 2017

Pentre Fest – a weekend of underground, largely unsigned metal – right on my door step.  I went and had a great time.  This blog got more views than the review I wrote of my trip to see the last ever Black Sabbath gig!

4. Sci-Fi Weekender 2016 – The Directors Cut

Wow – I took a lot of pics in 2016.  Several more shared here.  Platinum Al and the gang are back this year, so get ready for some Sci-Fi blog action soon.

3. MCM Comic Con – Part 1

The first part of my MCM Comic Con was far more popular than the second.

2. Ye Olde Kings Head – Mostly Haunted

Things that go bump in the night at an old, haunted pub in Chester was the second most popular blog of 2017.  A great pub and a fun evening, making an interesting blog.

So there have numbers ten down to two on the Virtual Hot Tub Most Popular of 2018 countdown.  But what, I hear you cry, was number 1?

Drum roll please…

1. Dogtown & Z-Boys Playlist

My playlist compiling the songs found on the soundtrack for the frankly awesome Dogtown & Z-Boys movie storms in at number 1. Thus confirming that old school skateboarding and classic rock make an excellent movie, and a not half bad blog.

An honourable mention to the following posts, which although not written in 2017, are still performing amazingly well:

  • Santa Cruz Snowskate (2014)
  • Hammer Glamour (2013)
  • Skateboard Museum: Variflex Joker (2013)

Thanks to YOU, venerable reader, for continuing to make this blog a success.  Stay tuned and visit again, don’t be a stranger.  There are many wondrous delights still to unfold at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub; come back for a relaxing dip soon.

Johnny Cash R.I.P.

He was the Man in Black.  The original Rock’n’Roll rebel.  He spoke for the downtrodden and forgotten.  He was tormented by his demons and knew both success and despair.  A contemporary of Elvis, his legacy has had an impact on generations of musicians and music fans of all tastes and walks of life.

He was Johnny Cash, and he passed away on September 12th 2003.

If you’ve read my music themed posts previously, you’ll know that Johnny Cash is my favourite recording artist of all time.  As a tribute to my hero, here is a summary of some of my favourite songs from his vast repertoire.

These songs are not presented as a “Top 10” or an essential guide.  That would take much more contemplation.  This is just ten songs that spring to mind as indispensable.

One Piece at a Time 

Great memories of singing this song at Karaoke.  One of Cash’s more light hearted tunes, with a great rolling rhythm.  Find it on “The Best of Johnny Cash”.

The Man Comes Around

Title track from the fourth American Recordings album.  Full of biblical portent and apocalyptic thunder.

Man in Black

Cash wasn’t afraid to speak his mind and go against the grain.  In this song, the beaten and the cast aside are defended at a time when such views were not healthy for a Country star’s career.  From “Greatest Hits”.

Pocahontas

Cash declared his sympathies with the Native Americans in several key songs throughout his career.  This song pulls no punches yet does it with a beautiful melody.  From the American Recordings boxed set, find it on “Vol. 2: Trouble in Mind”.

A Boy Named Sue

Another comedy tune and an obvious choice, I know.  I picked it ‘cos I’ve sung it at Karaoke many times.  Although I can’t really sing.  This song gave me the confidence to stand up and try.  From “Johnny Cash at San Quentin”.

Hurt

A cover of a Nine Inch Nails song, from “The Man Comes Around”.  If you can listen to this all the way through and not get all choked up by the end, I feel sorry for you.

Ghost Riders in the Sky

When I started listening to Johnny Cash, I realised I remembered this song from when I was a tiny kid.  Though I didn’t know it was him back then.  Cowboys and ghosts, what’s not to like?  I found it on “The Best of Johnny Cash”.

God’s Gonna Cut You Down

From “American V: A Hundred Highways”.  A sombre warning.  Sinners and saints.  Great video.

Folsom Prison Blues

“I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.”  You’ll find it on the essential live album “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” or any Greatest Hits compilation, and you will love it.

Ring of Fire

This was the first Cash song I became obsessed with.  I’d heard other songs but this was the (obvious, I admit) tune that grabbed me.  The impact this song had on my listening habits is immense.  Mexican trumpets.  I blame “Jackass” for this one.  Available everywhere, mine’s from “The Best of Johnny Cash”.

 

Johnny Cash

26/02/1932 – 12/09/2003

 

http://www.johnnycash.com/

Platinum Al’s Platinum Artists

There are over 23,000 songs in my iTunes library.  Hundreds of artists across numerous genres.  But which artists have contributed the most to my music collection?  I’ve reviewed all of them and compiled a list of which artists I have the most songs by.  Some may surprise you.

The list below comprises the twenty artists with the most number of songs in my music collection at the moment.  The list grows all the time.  I should point out that this isn’t a list of my favourite artists in order, just a list of who’s music I have the most of.

All duplicate tracks (for example, a hit single appearing on an album and a Greatest Hits compilation) have been removed.  Also extended versions, remixes and so on are usually not in my library anyway – with a few exceptions.  And I generally don’t collect live albums – again with one or two exceptions – so duplicates of this type don’t generally figure in this list, unless there’s a particular reason for them to be here.  In many cases, there are more tracks to be added for these Top 20 artists.

Here they are:

Top 20 Bands with the Most Songs in my Collection

20. Clutch – 128 songs

A massive contribution from this fine Maryland band, with only one track duplicated (an alternative, acoustic version of “Motherless Child”).  This doesn’t include their great new album “Earth Rocker”, which isn’t added yet.

19. Danzig – 130 songs

The mighty Danzig makes a respectable appearance at number 19, thanks to a complete collection of studio albums and a helping hand from the “Lost Tracks of Danzig” compilation.  This figure does not include any Misfits or Samhain tracks either, as I’ve classed them in this case as separate entities.  Otherwise Glenn would be even higher up the list.

18. David Bowie – 133 songs

Spanning most of Dave’s career, but still with quite a few albums missing from my collection – so this number could increase.

17. Hawkwind – 148 songs

Admittedly, this figure does include live tracks – but then “Space Ritual” is such an integral part of the bands persona it has to be included.  Still many, many more albums to collect though.

16. The Beach Boys – 149 songs

What a band.  I’ve loved the Beach Boys for so long.  There are so many great album tracks beside the obvious hits, everyone should investigate them further.  I still have at least three albums to add here though, so a Top Ten position could be on the way in future updates.

15. AC/DC – 153 songs

All the albums, no live tracks – surprising though that there isn’t more from the mighty AC/DC.  Several of their albums also appear in my “Greatest of All Time” list, no doubt coming soon…

14. Red Hot Chili Peppers – 154 songs

One of the best bands ever.  Not just one of the best alternative bands, or one of the best funk rock (ugghh) bands – one of THE best bands ever.  I’m surprised they don’t come in higher on this list, however, given the massive amount of work they’ve produced.  Their best album? A debate for another time.  But it’s “Mother’s Milk”.  No, “BloodSugarSexMagic”.  No, “Mother’s…”, ah, we’ll see.

13. Metallica – 159 songs

Now this number does include the live album “S & M”, though as those tracks are accompanied by an orchestra (and therefore sufficiently different) I decided to include them.  Also includes their totally mental collaboration with Lou Reed – which everyone hates except me.

12. The Damned – 163 songs

Ah, The Damned.  Probably my most favourite band ever, this number includes all the albums, plus compilations of B-sides etc, from “Damned Damned Damned” to “So Who’s Paranoid”.  But remember, no duplicates – so for example “New Rose” only appears once (on the original album) – reappearances on the (many) compilations have been discounted.

11. The Rolling Stones – 165 songs

Only 165 songs?  Clearly, I have some work to do here.  There must be another 30 or so albums to get.  This includes all the greats though.  And the debate over their best songs and albums will be tackled in a future post.

And now the Top Ten…

10. Iggy Pop – 177 songs

A fantastic, under rated musician.  Not nearly well known or respected enough these days. This number includes all the Stooges albums, as I decided that to exclude them would deprive a historical view of Iggy of some important milestones.  Iggy rocks.

9. Beastie Boys – 183 songs

You’re surprised that the Beasties have recorded so much?  Don’t be.  And the quality is excellent throughout.  Includes all of their forays into different musical genres, such as the fantastic “In Sound From Way Out” album.

8. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – 185 songs

I still have a few albums to collect from Nick Cave.  The 185 songs includes the three disc “B-sides and Rarities” album, but no Birthday Party, Grinderman or film soundtracks.  Maybe I’ll add those to a future update.  Amazing music.

7. Queen – 191 songs

“Greatest Hits I and II” is not enough.  You need the studio albums for some of the outstanding lesser known compositions.  More on this in a later post.  No live tracks included.

6. Ramones – 199 songs

There are just a couple of bonus tracks from “End of the Century” I don’t have.  No live tracks included.  I’ve loved this band ever since my English teacher played “Go Mental” in class.

5. Alice Cooper – 204 songs

Often maligned as a cock-rock Metal caricature, many miss the impact that Alice has had on rock, punk and alternative music.  Pay this man some respect.  NOW.  Still loads of albums I don’t own, but I’m working on it.

4. The Beatles – 207 songs

I was surprised I had this many tunes by The Beatles, but what a band.  Beyond compare, and I’m happy to see them up near the top of the list.  This number doesn’t include my Mum’s original 7 inch singles, of course.

3. Motorhead – 221 songs

How many albums have Motorhead made now?  Not enough.  Recent output has been just as great as the early years.  Still got two or three albums I need to get though, unbelievably.

2. Melvins – 282 songs

I love this band.  282 songs, including collaborations with Jello Biafra and others.  Doesn’t include the new record “Everybody Loves Sausages” (yet), and still quite a few albums (not just single tracks!) I need to track down.

So which recording artist has the most songs that I own?  Who could possibly top that list?  Only one man…

1. Johnny Cash – 330 songs

That number doesn’t include the Christmas album or a new three disc set I picked up recently.  A duets album with June Carter Cash is in there, however.  And the two live albums “At Folsom Prison” and “At San Quentin” – as they’re both indispensable.  I am a huge fan of Johnny Cash, and thankfully there’s still loads of his music out there for me to discover.

Johnny Cash is my hero.

Any thoughts?  Disagree with any of the above criteria?  Leave a comment.