In no particular order, and that is why I have not numbered this list in any way shape or form, I present to you, for reading enjoyment and maybe some hearty debate and discussion purposes only, my list of some of my favorite albums ever released, and the ones I still play on a regular rotation in my life to this day. FULL DISCLOSURE: I do not currently own actually any of these albums on vinyl at this time; I do own these albums on CD however, and I do hope to get some vinyl versions bestowed upon me at some point, but nevertheless, I have a computer and a keyboard and an opinion, so here is another blog post by me Chad Vice, discussing something I love, which is MUSIC!!! Let's get down to it!
Disclaimer: I will not be reviewing albums that all the world and grandma Jane know, so no 'Black in Black', no 'Pump', no 'Slippery When Wet', no '1984', and definitely no 'Hysteria'. I love those albums, but everyone already knows what to expect when you hear them. Keep on rockin'!
Black Sabbath - Born Again 
What a fantastic album. The one and only album to feature the mighty Ian Gillan, of Deep Purple, if you forgot, and the last studio album to feature Bill Ward on drums (I know he played drums on the track "Psycho Man" from the Live Reunion album though) and the last album to hit the Top 40 until the 13 album, but as if that matters. What matters is the music on this album. It might be the heaviest Sabbath had been since Sabbath Bloody Sabbath; I am a big fan of the Dio fronted Sabbath as well, but here for one brief moment, Sabbath was HEAVY and DARK and Ian's screams are out of this world, he literally sounds possessed. Listen to the outro shrieks and screams on "Disturbing the Priest" and tell me how he still has a voice. Actually that is a strong case for why he doesn't have as much range and power. Compare his return to Purple the following year (1984) and how mellow sounding that album is - great but gone were the insane shrieks of '70s Purple.
I digress easily; The sound is huge but has a low and muddy mix which I personally find enhances the music and the overall feel of the album. I can see why that would bother people and the band themselves, but having lived with this album for so long now and appreciating the songs the way that they were presented to me, there's no other way I would want to hear them. It's just an evil and dark sounding album and sounds like nothing else either Sabbath or Purple would do since this time. It is exactly that, a moment in time. I am glad it made it to beyond the "good on paper" stage and became an album. I highly recommend this album if you like Sabbath, like Ian's vocals and insane screams, and have an open mind for what you think Sabbath SHOULD sound like, and take it for how great it DOES sound.
Key Tracks: Disturbing the Priest, Born Again, Digital Bitch, Hot Line, Trashed
Icon - Night of the Crime 
Thanks to the legendary radio and music personality Eddie Trunk, I may have never heard of this band. I believe he was extolling the praises of Icon's self-titled debut however it is the Night of the Crime album that got my attention. What a great album, from production to tones to the flat out most important thing, the songs. The music and vocal melodies are so catchy on this album, it truly is a lost gem in every sense of the word. Vocalist Stephen Clifford is the star here and his voice takes on many different traits and styles and inflections that it may make you think that you are listening some sort of compilation album. As history told us, he ended up leaving the band after the album was completed and Icon never gained any more ground, but the good news are two things: 1) this album while sounding firmly in the 80s will stand the test of time and I love every minute of it, and 2) Clifford has apparently returned to the band and I hope that also means new music. Wishes are wish but no matter what, this album grabbed me on the first listen and I find myself always going back to it. Sure its slick and the content is all about love and lost love for the most part, but the way it is presented and the hooks just work for me. It's one of the reasons why fans of the '80s love the '80s - it is this album right here, and if you haven't heard it, hear it. That's my deep message to you all, for fans of this music and this decade.
One more thing that I love of this album is lyrical theme of "crimes" and "trial" and "juries" and they basically used of the entire justice system to map out the song content. Night of the Crime (the song), "Missing", "Naked Eyes" and "Raise The Hammer" all feature lyrics such finding evidence, the case will end when..., and let the jury decide all play into this; it's pretty clever and not exactly what every other band was doing in this era. So if you are fan of hard rock with big hooks, slick production and tough, sometimes even aggressive vocal deliveries but still so melodic, join me on the night of the crime
Key Tracks: Naked Eyes, Danger, Hungry For Love, Raise The Hammer, Frozen Tears, Take Another Shot At My Heart
Harem Scarem - Mood Swings 
Canadian rock/pop band Harem Scarem are another one of my unsung heroes who do not really get any radio play on even the Canadian rock radio stations outside of the song "Slowly Slipping Away" and the good news is that that song is not found on this album. What is here is a heavier and I do say catchier batch of songs but this underrated band, starting with the pounding 2nd track "No Justice". True story. This band is somewhat typical of the early '90s where if you started out in 1990-91, and you had a glam metal/pop-metal type vibe and then by the early-mid 1990s you toughed up your sound, usually on your sophomore album, and then went full on grunge by 1994-95 and if you still were around after that, you were unrecognizable in your sound and style by 1996-97 on your final album; and then disappeared on your last tour of 1997. Harem Scarem did some of these things, except they actually renamed the band into 1997, I believe (See, Rubber) which is ironically what many bands of that era were told to do to find a new audience but never did (See, Warrant) but they never really went away. They also returned to a more traditional sound by 2002, so it all worked out in the (not yet) end. Nevertheless, this album right here, Mood Swings, in my opinion is truly their best, and even features a lead vocal by drummer Darren James Smith, who you may know now as the singer in Red Dragon Cartel (Jake E Lee's new much maligned band) and he does a great job here; I actually prefer his vocals on this track than to most of what he did on the RDC album; he even has a bit of a Paul Stanley vibe going on. It's a great hard rocking but catchy tune, it's called 'Sentimental Blvd'. He sings the verses and singer Howard Hess joins him on the choruses. The album as a whole is catchy but has some grit and there are plenty of tunes to like however most are all in the similar vein. Basically, if you like late '80s-early '90s mainstream hard rock bands that produced a little bit harder album in that golden 1992-1994 period before they went straight to hell, (some exceptions, more on that later!) then this is an album you are going to love. Get it, please!
Key Tracks: Sentimental Blvd, Stranger Than Love, Saviors Never Cry, Empty Promises, Jealousy
Little Caesar - S/T 
Not be confused with the pizza place, however both are great at what they do. They both do not, however taste great, so keep that in mind. But I digress...
Self titled debut album by this R&B and blues hard rock band is all no frills and mostly all thrills with a bluesy and soul sounding hard rock singer by the name of Ron Young. I will say that this album took a long time to grow on me - a LONG time. I had heard their cover of "Chain of Fools" on YouTube some years ago and then heard "In Your Arms" which is a fantastic, catchy, but not cheesy, ballad, it's a simple song with a simple message and it works, no weird keyboards and no over produced effects. Thank you Bob Rock. Bur beyond these couple of tunes, I really wasn't getting into this album, wasn't getting into the songs and quite honestly, found the tracks lacking strong hooks and boring. Well, that all changed a few months ago when I happened to throw it in my car and just let it go, and I can't say if was the moment or the time or just the right star in the sky, the songs just started speaking to me and now I seem to be playing the album over and over and it has not left the player since. I'm looking forward to going for drives just to hear the album again. I'm loving Ron's voice, I'm loving the heavy blues guitar sound and soulful melodic undertones, and I'm rediscovering all of these tracks for the first time it seems or for the right time. The songs are not overplayed and they have a life of their own, and I can say I am glad I took the chance picking this album up when I did, and keeping it around and giving it a fair shake. Add this bad boy to your coveted record collection today
Key Tracks: Chain of Fools, In Your Arms, Midtown, Wrong Side of the Tracks, From The Start
KISS - Crazy Nights 
I think I like this album so much because you don't hear it everywhere and it is not played to death on the radio. I mean, Kiss the band is, you hear the same set of songs everywhere, but the songs on this album are loudly ignored everywhere unless you own the album and play it yourself. So when I turn to this album it always sounds fresh to my ears, it is most definitely rooted in the time period that it came out in, it could have been a Bon Jovi record, but it's not, it's Kiss, it's got big huge vocals and hooks, some awesome guitar solos by the great Bruce Kulick, such as the intro and outro of I'll Fight Hell To Hold You and the solo section of Reason to Live. Sure it's got a lot of keyboards, but to me that is not a deal breaker, I like songs with keyboards and I like songs with big guitars, so in my opinion I have it all here.
Gene's songs seem to hold up the best, if you ever doubt the melodies and tones of his voice, his tracks on this album should sure satisfy. To me he's underrated not only for his bass playing but also his singing, and I feel like most of his songs are my favorite on the album. Paul shows why he is an amazing singer and gets his range up as high as the mountains and we cannot forger the hard hitting drums of the late Eric Carr, all together this album is more than the sum of it's parts, and I feel it is the best '80s Kiss album if you are into this era of the band, which I know is not for everyone's taste. If you have an open mind to other albums and you enjoy this style of mid-'80s produced sounding melodic pop-metal, you will enjoy this Kiss album. I'm disappointed that they do not play much of it live, if any of it, but instead I just cue it up and it enjoy it; that's what music is made for, and no matter what, this is a snapshot in time and forever will be enjoyed in my life's rotation
Key Tracks: Hell Or High Water, I'll Fight Hell To Hold You, Reason to Live, Turn On The Night, Thief in the Night
Blue Murder - S/T 
You've got to expand your horizons and broaden your tastes in order to find the good music that's out there in the world, the internet helps you do this now but you can't be afraid to take a dive and try some music that is from the era you like but might not be something you are familiar with. So like the water invites you to on this album's front sleeve, it's best you dive in face first as quickly as possible and discover the magic that is John Sykes.
John Sykes for mainstream fans might be known for his guitar playing in Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy, and pretty much not much else. But here on this album, what draws me in the most is his vocals, his thick British accent and it's powerful and catchy delivery, and high screams and thick rich tone; these make these songs great where they might otherwise have fallen into generic rock n' roll records if it had of been another talented but faceless vocalist singing standard run of the mill songs. Sykes really puts David Coverdale to shame on this record, the guitar playing is technical but frankly takes a back seat on most songs (apart from kick ass solos) but this can also be attributed to the superior drumming of Carmine Appice and bassist Tony Franklin; it's a tight trio. This is also an album that I find gets better as it moves along through the tracks, and dare I say the best ones are at the end of the album. There are a few inconsistencies but again we keep in mind that all music is subjective and what some songs I find dull, you checking this album out may find they are the new soundtracks to your life. Again, this album would be a snapshot in time, this is the only album made fully by the original and best trio of this band, and even though there was only one made, it makes this album all the more special and it sounds fresh because it's not over-saturated on the mainstream. This album is highly underrated and I highly recommend if you need some new music to freshen up your iPod. Big thank you again to Eddie Trunk for mentioning this album his TV show and this interested me to want to check this out. I hope anyone reading this will do the same.
As a side note, I first discovered this album around the time I was going through a very painful breakup and the song "Out of Love" really tugged at my heart the most, some songs have made me feel sad before, but this one I can say is the first and so far only song where I cried during it, tears falling and all. It's good music here, don't wait if you haven't heard it.
Key Tracks: Riot, Valley of the Kings, Out of Love, Blue Murder, Ptolemy, Black Hearted Woman
Slik Toxik - Irrelevant 
Album name? Irrelevant. Album art? Irrelevant. Music contained on said album? Relevant.
Slik Toxik might have been Canada's answer to Skid Row, even though they both had two Canadians for singers. Nevertheless, there were similarities and there were differences. Song structure and subject matter being the big differences of the two. And on this little independent record here, Slik Toxik were still young and still angry enough to make a true from the heart rock record about life and art mixed with lyrical poetry that was totally real and honest. Since it was released in 1994, it was best left ignored by the general buying public, and after a cold winter tour of the eastern shores of Canada at the end of 1995, the band went their separate ways. And you do not hear much if any of them on the radio today.
What I like about this album over the debut is the harder and quickened sounds over top of singer Nick Walsh's more aggressive vocals and some much deeper, meaningful and yet overall darker lyrics/themes. It has that catchiness of a glam metal band turning heavy in the early mid '90s which is a sound I love and I find doesn't get old and dated; it ages well because it straddles two important and well pronounced eras of music so really the listener can't immediately box them into one era or style - it SOUNDS like this but also has MORE SOUNDS like this. This is a good thing and what makes this album stand the rigid test of time passing. If you are missing this album from your collection, know that I forgive you, and please run and get it out now. I believe it's recently been re-released with some remastering (maybe?) so it should be easier to get than it has been in previous years. Get you some!
Key Tracks: Twentysomething, Dive, Liquid Calm, Voodoo, Kill The Pain, Blue Monday
Accept - Eat the Heat 
An excellent German band that is not the Scorpions release an interesting album with a new vocalist for the first but not the last time, but the last time with this singer. Following me?
So enter David Reece, I believe a pretty much unknown at this time, as the band Accept looks to get some radio airplay in the United States with an American singer with an American voice and inflections. It's a great album, it sounds like it should sound for this era and style, but it has a nice blend of heavy tracks and melodic and glossy tunes to really please a fan like me all of the time, and it rarely misses. Like all things, they change, and problems in the band and lack of attention and great sales killed this version of the band, and it is unlikely to change in the future of never. Which is is a gosh darn shame; a lot of these songs are begging to be heard again live, the singer David Reece still sounds like he can kick ass, as he has fronted a couple of other projects I like and is now starting another new band. But this album still holds up well because it has that hard rocking edge and the ballads are nice and not over produced with cheesy lyrics. The best of the ballads being the slow burning and bluesy "Mistreated" which a lot of fans might have done to this record over time.
This one requires another spin. Wolf Hoffmann can play solos that are blazing and super melodic and catchy and still heavy, all within the same song, and it works here. For examples of this. check out "X-T-C" and "Hellhammer". Another snapshot in time, as I've said much before, but a great one. And the band looks so German on the cover. Yes, that's a real thing, and I love it. (Note: some members of the band may not actually be of German decent) (Note: I mean the singer David Reece and second guitarist Jim Stacey, which may be the first time his name as been mentioned apart from in the album credits)
Key Tracks: XTC, Generation Clash, Hellhammer, Mistreated, Stand 4 What U R, Break The Ice, D-Train
So, I hope you've enjoyed checking out a few of my favorite albums, none of which I own on vinyl but may be one day! Music is and always will be a massive part of my life on a daily basis, thanks to the artists and the record makers who make the music and allow it enter my life on a daily, or hourly basis. If you like something here and want to know more, or interested in more of my less mainstream music favorites, or even have some bands or tunes to suggest, I would love to hear from you! Send a message to me at:
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