The Record Review

The Place For Honest Record Reviews

Thorogood’s Career Jammer

thorogoodnewGeorge Thorogood & the Destroyers – The Dirty Dozen
July 28, 2009
Capitol Records

Victim of Loudness War? No

George Thorogood and the Destroyers have always been about having fun with their music. Their sound is reminiscent of any bar band worth its salt and their best songs have always had plenty of hooks and sing-along moments to keep energy levels at their peak. This, partnered with Thorogood’s superb slide guitar playing, is no doubt what made them such an instant hit when they first appeared in 1977 and enabled them to maintain steady in-concert popularity through the present day.

The trouble with the group’s latest release, The Dirty Dozen, is that throughout the course of its twelve tracks, there never seems to be any reason for having released it. Granted, six of the tracks included here were previously released over the last three decades, but the other six tracks are newly recorded and presented for the first time on The Dirty Dozen. But all twelve of the tracks really serve no purpose as they add absolutely nothing to the band’s already vast catalog. These are twelve new blues covers, none of which match the quality or performance level of Thorogood and Co.’s previous successes. Continue reading

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Blues, classic rock, Guitar, Guitars, Rock, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Once Was Trash is Now a Treasure

D2CD13Drive-By Truckers – The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities
September 1, 2009
New West Records

Victim of Loudness War? No

The Drive-By Truckers’ latest entry is the “odds and ends” compilation that doesn’t sound like just that – a bunch of random songs thrown together with no symmetry or continuity. Thankfully, from the opening salvo of “George Jones Talkin’ Cell Phone Blues”, The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities sounds like a Drive-By Truckers album. Which is to say, if you haven’t liked the band thus far, then nothing on this collection will change your mind. The Truckers have suffered from being pigeon-holed and stereotyped – in a time when glitz and glamor triumph over substance and content, the band has persevered over the past 13 years, releasing gritty, honest and relevant music. The Fine Print draws from those 13 years, and what a musical story it tells. Continue reading

August 29, 2009 Posted by | classic rock, Guitar, Guitars, jam band, Rock, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Collective Soul Just Can’t Shine

a92351c88da02eda51f53210.LCollective Soul – Collective Soul (Rabbit)
August 25, 2009
Roadrunner Records

Victim of Loudness War? Yes

Collective Soul initially captured the attention of rock fans worldwide with their massive 1993 hit, “Shine,” a catchy mid-tempo track that called upon all the best characteristics of 1970’s rock to produce an undeniable winner. The track was included on the band’s debut, Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, which featured more of the same kind of music and catapulted the band into mainstream popularity. It wasn’t until the band’s sophomore release, 1995’s Collective Soul, that the band truly came into their own as they unleashed four chart-topping hits and secured themselves as a viable force in rock music.

The thing that was instantly apparent about a Collective Soul album was that it was a place to store four or five songs intended for single release with four or five other songs that could only be deemed as filler. But this was generally okay, considering the songs they had to offer as singles were unmistakably catchy, containing solid riffs and arena-ready choruses that almost defied the listener not to like them. Thus, it was easy to overlook the duds that surrounded them on the album, as the singles were more than enough to make the purchase price seem worth laying out. Continue reading

August 25, 2009 Posted by | classic rock, Guitar, Guitars, Rock, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Switch On This Moment

oriordanDolores O’Riordan – No Baggage
August 25, 2009
Zoe Records

Victim of Loudness War? Yes

Looking back on the alternative music movement of the early ‘90s, very few of the artists and bands that were so highly regarded at the time can still be put on the same pedestal a decade or more removed. Most of the material comes off sounding extremely dated and the reputations didn’t last much past all the hype. Singer/songwriter Dolores O’Riordan, former leader of Irish band The Cranberries, is one artist that survives the aforementioned process, remaining a dynamic and vibrant singer and songwriter years after her first appearance in 1993. Her former band may have fallen by the wayside had it not been for the dual ferocity and subtlety that her performance style brought to the table, leaving them amongst the few ‘90s acts that still retains their merit. Continue reading

August 24, 2009 Posted by | classic rock, Guitar, Guitars, Rock | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Everybody Knows This Is Somewhere

NYharvestNeil Young – Neil Young; Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere; After the Goldrush; Harvest (Neil Young Archives Reissues)
July 14, 2009
Reprise Records

Victim of Loudness War? No

When the term “remastered” is slapped onto the cover of any reissue, these days it usually means that the volume has been turned up and the audio has been compressed beyond recognition. Whereas a remastered album used to be painstakingly crafted by audio experts in order to reduce the tape hiss and other imperfections present on early CD releases, it is now simply an excuse to open the listeners wallets another time while simultaneously degenerating the sonic integrity of the recording. Countless albums have been ruined over the last decade all in the name of making songs standout more when played on the radio or preparing them for the ultimate quality-related death a song can suffer – being converted to the mp3 format. It’s a true shame for those that still appreciate sound, that understand that louder does not necessarily equal better.

Thankfully, Neil Young has got the back of every single audiophile out there, a fact that is no more clearly illustrated than by listening to the first four entries in his “Neil Young Archives: ORS” series: Neil Young, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, After the Goldrush and Harvest. The first four albums from his vast catalog of music, these reissues not only remain classics of songwriting and performance but show that with the right attention to detail and a methodical devotion to the intricate properties of sound, a remaster can still be done right. Each reissue is a aural masterpiece, painstakingly prepared for the digital age by a group of people (including Neil Young himself) dedicated to keeping the original sound intact. These four remasters are the first successful strike back against the homogenization of music that is the bulk of the digital download age and the first real win for the good guys in The Loudness War.

NYgoldrushWhile each of the four albums included in this first round of reissues benefit greatly from the remastering process, 1972’s Harvest is clearly the biggest success. So many elements emerge from the mix when presented here (save for the still near-inaudible pedal steel on the fiery guitar classic “Alabama”) that it is almost a completely new listening experience. This is as close to the original vinyl sound that a CD issue of the album has ever seen and makes it the definitive digital version available. For those unable to afford the time and expense of a decent turntable setup, this is undoubtedly great news.

The real beauty of each of these reissues is that while they are cleaned up and revitalized, they have not been sterilized one iota. While some remastering engineers do everything possible to make an older album sound like it was recorded using present-day studio technology (and remove the heart and soul of the recording in the process), Neil Young and Co. understand the time and place these records were recorded in and use those factors as assets rather than setbacks. The tape hiss that is an inevitable part of every 1960’s – 1970’s analog recording is still present here, with the remastering work bringing previously-muted elements through it rather than over it. These albums still feel live and in-the-moment, but also have an added crispness and vitality that was lacking on their original CD releases.

Whether it’s the softer glory of Young’s 1968 self-titled debut, the epic guitar athems of his 1969 sophomore effort Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere or the back-to-back classics After the Gold Rush and Harvest, one thing remains abundantly clear: Neil Young is one of rock music’s greatest performers and most prolific songwriters. It’s nice to know that with these Neil Young Archives: ORS reissues, some of the best titles in his massive body of work are being preserved in a manner that is befitting of their stature. One can only hope that more of the same treatment is on the way for the rest of his catalog. And that Time Fades Away will finally find its way into the digital age.

– Ian Rice

To purchase a copy of Archives, Vol. 1, please click here.

August 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment