Hard Rock

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Hard rock, or heavy rock, is a genre of rock music which is tied in with heavy metal at several levels. The hard rock sound is typically characterized by heavily distorted guitars, potent riffage, and strong and solid drums which, along with the bass, constitute the rhythm section, while the vocals are often aggressive and draw primarily on expression, as hard rock vocalists often incorporate screams, wails, growls, raspiness and falsetto voice and other techniques that one rarely encounters in types of popular music outside of the rock music sphere. Hard rock is heavier, more aggressive and harsher than pop rock and many other types of rock music and is thus based on the same aesthetic as much heavy metal music is.

Hard rock emerged in the mid 1960s and early 1970s as musicians within various rock subgenres of that era (such as, for instance, blues rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, southern rock, boogie rock and garage rock among others) began experimenting with distortion, heaviness, intensity and aggression. The sound that such artists developed would eventually become the sound associated with heavy metal music in general, and the early hard rock sound is often considered identical to the proto-metal sound, and, at the time, the terms ‘hard rock’, ‘heavy rock’, and ‘heavy metal’ were synonymous.

As artists like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, and later Judas Priest, began to gradually move their music away from its blues roots and into darker territory, ‘heavy metal’ began to be used with reference to the type of music resulting from this darker and more intense type of rock music, while many other artists who contributed to the establishment of the proto-metal sound retained their blues influences, and also began incorporating other elements into their music, and by the 1980s, hard rock was generally considered more commercially oriented and more melodic than heavy metal music. The histories of hard rock and heavy metal remained intertwined, though, as many hard rock artists would often take their music into heavy metal territory and incorporate elements from various subtypes of heavy metal into their music, while heavy metal artists would continue to draw on influences from both contemporary and early hard rock. Also, many artists would experiment with both heavy metal music and hard rock, releasing albums and singles some of which fall under the hard rock rubric while others fall under the heavy metal rubric. In addition, several subgenres and movements in heavy metal have close associations with hard rock - for instance, many NWoBHM artists would extensively draw on hard rock (some even being more hard rock than heavy metal), while glam metal is often conflated with hard rock.

The term ‘hard rock’ is used in a number of different ways. Sometimes, it is used as an antonym of ‘soft rock’ which refers to pop rock, folk rock and other types of rock music which do not emphasize distorted guitars – this definition is very broad and includes any type of guitar-driven rock, not necessarily related to heavy metal music, including punk rock, grunge and even Brit pop. Another broad definition is the use of the term ‘hard rock’ with reference to heavy metal music in general, while a more specific use of the term is restricted to blues-based pentatonic rock music performed with intensity and heaviness on distorted guitars, thus excluding many artists who combine rock with elements from heavy metal. Another definition, which is the one that the MMA operates with, emphasizes the heaviness of hard rock compared to other types of rock music as well as its relation to metal, placing hard rock within the sphere of heavy metal music on the scale of heaviness and intensity underneath traditional heavy metal, but above other types of rock music. On this definition the ethos that characterizes heavy metal music in general, is applied to hard rock as well, thus largely excluding rock genres like punk rock and grunge rock (with exceptions, of course), as well as individual artists and releases whose sound cannot be said to bear any similarity to heavy metal music or to have any relation to heavy metal music at all. This definition cuts across rock music subgenres, and will thus include artists from, say, southern rock or AOR whose sound involves a considerable amount of heavy metal elements while excluding other southern rock or AOR artists that do not integrate heavy metal elements into their music.

Inclusive Hard Rock Genres

Heavy Psych Also known as Psychedelic Hard Rock or Hard Psych, heavy psych is a fusion genre between hard rock and psychedelic rock developed by acts such as Blue Cheer and Vanilla Fudge in the late 1960's. As such many early heavy psych acts can also be found under proto-metal on the MMA. Like with all hard rock on MMA, heavy psych acts are only included if they have been deemed to have a relevance to heavy metal music. Examples of later heavy psych acts include Blood Ceremony (whose work also leans into doom metal), Purson and Jess and the Ancient Ones.

Heavy Prog Also known as Progressive Hard Rock, heavy prog acts add a harder edge to their core progressive rock sound, which may or may not include metal elements as well, but are still primarily progressive rock artists. Like with all hard rock on MMA, heavy prog acts are only included if they have been deemed to have a relevance to heavy metal music, though as always this distinction need not apply to every release the artist has made. Examples of acts in the MMA database with heavy prog releases include Porcupine Tree, Arena and Touchstone.

Sub-genre collaborators (+ child sub-genres (except Heavy Alternative Rock) & shared with Heavy Metal and Glam Metal):
  • 666sharon666 (Leader)

Biography written by Time Signature. The Inclusive Genre section written by adg211288.

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hard rock Music Reviews

NICKELBACK All the Right Reasons

Album · 2005 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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Following on from the success of 2001’s ‘Silver Side Up’ and 2003’s ‘The Long Road’, it’s now 2005, and Nickelback are unarguably one of the biggest bands on the planet. Appealing to rock and (some) metal fans, while also endearing themselves to pop fans and casual radio listeners, the band were at a point where they’d been able to establish a sound, as well as a name and reputation, that would keep them in the spotlight.

However, while I found their albums to continually improve with each subsequent release, 2005’s ‘All the Right Reasons’ doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor. But there’s really not any particular reason, other than the songs just don’t seem as good. The sound is the same, the production is the same, sure, there’s probably a bit more emphasis on soft radio rock here, but it’s still not that different than what the Canadian foursome did on ‘The Long Road’. But overall, the songs just aren’t as good.

Which is kind of weird, seeing as how this album features some of Nickelback’s biggest hits (outside of 2001’s ‘How You Remind Me’), ‘Photograph’ and ‘Rock Star’, both of which were huge radio hits for the band. There’s also some great rockers such as ‘Animal’, ‘Next Contestant’, ‘Someone That You’re With’ and the emotional and thoughtful ‘If Everyone Cared’. But yet, there’s just something about this release that doesn’t resonate with me as much as what came before it.

But don’t be deterred, as it’s still a good album! The performances from everyone involved are of a high standard, and the band clearly knows what works for them and how to get the most out of it. By 2005 Nickelback would be known more for their hits than their albums, and as it stands, this probably won’t appeal to everyone. And while I don’t think it’s as good as 2003’s ‘The Long Road’, ‘All the Right Reasons’ is still a solid, hard rock release with some good songs that definitely won’t be amiss in any collections.

URIAH HEEP Demons And Wizards

Album · 1972 · Hard Rock
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By 1972 the rock music universe began to settle into distinct marketing packages as the free for all 60s experimentation that trickled into the early 70s began to dissipate. Bands that mixed various styles of music were suddenly finding it more prudent to settle on one side of the fence or the other. While some progressively infused heavy rock bands jumped the fence to pure prog (T2, Atomic Rooster, High Tide), many of those bands ceased to exist after an album or two as the prog universe became more sophisticated however as that scenario unfolded the world of hard rock was becoming more popular and as a result more financially viable. While URIAH HEEP straddled both worlds equally on its 1971 bouts with excellence on the albums “Salisbury” and “Look At Yourself,” it wasn’t hard to see which way the wind was blowing with bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin tearing up the charts and laughing all the way to the bank.

And so it was decided that URIAH HEEP would follow their initial inclinations as demonstrated on their debut album “…Very ‘Eavy … Very ‘Umble” that they would hone their musical constructs into the world of hard rock and as the band became more confident of their abilities the band finally found the success that eluded them during the experimental phase with their breakthrough album DEMONS AND WIZARDS in 1972. The band joined the ranks of many of the fringe prog related bands of the era that implemented a more direct heavy rock approach but augmented with a few proggy features which usually included an epic track that delved into greater complexities without what many deemed overweening prog excesses. So in the year 1972 when rock could exist as the bubblegum glam rock of Sweet, T. Rex or Roxy Music, or the over-zealous art rock of prog’s bigwigs such as Yes, Jethro Tull, Gentle Giant and Genesis,

URIAH HEEP found the perfect middle ground and in the process found their greatest success as well as their only American top 40 single in the form of the 60s garage band meets heavy psyche single “Easy Livin.” The album eschewed the excesses of the past and crafted nice neatly packaged smaller chunks of melodic hard rock mixed with softer acoustic guitar and shifted the emphasis off of Ken Hensley’s virtuosic organ driven antics to the vocal prowess of lead singer David Byron. His vocal style was exactly what the doctor ordered for not only breaking the band into the mainstream but also as a major inspiration for the heavy metal bands of the late 70s and 80s. DEMONS AND WIZARDS found a new bassist in the New Zealand born Gary Thain who had played with the Keef Hartley Band after the departure of Paul Newton who seems to have dropped out of the music industry. Additionally Lee Kerslake replaced drummer Iain Clark. Ironically despite finding more in common with Blue Oyster Cult or the less progressive Mark II lineup of Deep Purple, DEMONS AND WIZARDS displayed the fantasy artwork of Roger Dean on the album cover, who had made his name more synonymous with the prog world with bands like Yes and despite the connotations of a fantasy album by the album cover art, the tracks were really just a collection of feel good songs that had nothing in common with each other. Concentrated and to the point, DEMONS AND WIZARDS cast the perfect hard rock spell that mesmerized the public’s appetite for short no nonsense hard rockers and as the track “Easy Livin” hit #39 on the Billboard charts and the album became one of the year’s best sellers and has sold well over six million copies ever since as well as hitting #23 on Billboard’s album charts.

While there is no doubt that the progressive rock tendencies on the previous albums took URIAH HEEP to a whole new level and that this demoted hard rock style does seem a little lackluster in comparison, DEMONS AND WIZARDS nonetheless emerged as a brilliant slice of early 70s hard rock that still managed to throw in a few proggy touches such as the organ sequences on “Circle of Hands” or the pseudo-prog combo pack of the final two tracks “Paradise” and “The Spell” that appear as a single track on some CD editions. While straight forward hard rock rules the roost on this one, this closing duality found an atmospheric acoustic guitar progression that sounded more like Pink Floyd than Deep Purple but found resolution as things morphed into a honky tonk blue rock based upbeat sequence.

Personally i would’ve preferred that URIAH HEEP had stuck to their heavy prog compositions that they crafted in 1971 as i find them much more interesting than the rather watered down albums that follow but i have to admit that DEMONS AND WIZARDS stands out as the best of the hard rock years that continued throughout the 70s into the modern era. The album not only displayed a band that crafted some of the tightest tracks of their career but also showcases how their melodic hooks are utterly irresistible excellent guitar performances made all the better by David Byron’s phenomenal vocals. This was the first step into a highly successful stream of albums that stacked up in the 70s and although the band’s popularity started to diminish in the 80s the band has remained a popular arena rock act with some of the classic tracks on DEMONS AND WIZARD remaining steadfast crowd pleasers. A step down in the world of prog complexities but the first step in a highly lucrative career. Can’t say i blame them for their decision.

URIAH HEEP Look At Yourself

Album · 1971 · Hard Rock
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After diving first into the possibilities of progressive rock mixed with the heavy blues rock of the 60s on the band’s first album of 1971 on the utterly unique “Salisbury,” URIAH HEEP crafted yet another album the same year. On LOOK AT YOURSELF, the band stepped back from the progressive rock influences a bit and went back down the road of hard rock with prog elements. The result was an album that would steer the course of the band’s sound of permanently settling into the hard rock style that would cement the band’s success beginning with the following “Demons and Wizards.” In between the two albums of 1971, drummer Keith Baker left the band not because of any dramatic altercations with the band or the musical direction but because he didn’t want to endure the extensive tour schedules. He was replaced by Ian Clarke of Cressida who turned out to have the extra drumming fiery passion that was conducive to the harder rocking style the band was settling upon.

While prog lovers salivated over “Salisbury,” the rock world wasn’t so keen upon this bizarre musical statement so early on and has to be relegated to classic status over time rather than having achieved instant success for URIAH HEEP. Seeing the writing on the wall, the band opted to pursue the more commercial approach of honing their chops into the less progressive arena rock which proved to be the right move financially speaking however on LOOK AT YOURSELF there are still plenty of progressive rock moments churning about despite no 16-minute closer with orchestral effects in sight. While the feisty guitar driven title track bursts onto the scene and sets the tone for the album as an organ driven heavy rock band that was in many ways similar to Deep Purple, the album’s two most progressive moments shine on the two tracks over eight minutes in length, the sublime “July In Morning” and “the heavier “Shadows of Grief” which exercised lengthy excursions into psychedelic space rock.

The album is dominated by heavy guitar driven blues rock with organ bombast. The title track starts things off whereas the following “I Wanna Be Free” displays the bands hard rock dynamics of mixing heavier rock with softer passages. The other major heavy rocker is the arena rock friendly “Tears In My Eyes” which breaks out the slide guitar effects and purveyor of massive walls of wah-wah which is perhaps the most Led Zeppelin sounding track of the album. Once again the dynamics alternate between the heavy and intermissions of space rock with interesting vocal changes. Although Mick Box’ guitar antics along with Hensley’s organ prowess dominate the URIAH HEEP sound, David Byron’s multi-octave vocal style also takes the music to higher levels than it could’ve achieved otherwise. The other heavy rocker is the closer “Love Machine” which pretty much portended the direction the band would continue for the rest of its career. The only track that doesn’t do it for me is the piano ballad “What Should Be Done,” which signifies the more commercial direction the band would settle upon.

For prog lovers, it doesn’t get any better than the third track “July Morning” which found a cameo appearance of Manfred Mann creating bizarre calliope riffs on a Minimoog synthesizer. The track starts out slow and seductive with Byron’s lyrics tenderly ratcheting up the tension as the track alternates between verses and chorus before erupting into a frenzy of virtuosic organ and guitar tradeoffs that make up the last four minutes of the track which continuously build up the tension until the track fades out. While it is absolutely phenomenal i find it odd that some of the lyrical content suddenly drops out in mid-verse only to be replaced by a series of la-la-la’s. For true URIAH HEEP fans, this one has been deemed the equivalent to Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” or Deep Purple’s “Child in Time.” The track was even the inspiration for a Bulgarian event called Julaya where participants gather on the Black Sea coast on the 1st of July to watch the sun rise over the waters.

While the other prog standout is the almost 9 minute long “What Should Be Done” it is primarily based on an organ driven heavy rock standard but deviates into the realms of psychedelia which ultimately find their way back to the main rock theme. Lots of interesting musical interaction on this one with strong riffing, call and response instrumental prowess and interesting dynamic shifts. LOOK AT YOURSELF is easily one of the best albums in the entire URIAH HEEP canon. While i find “Salisbury” to be just a wee bit more interesting, there is no doubt that LOOK AT YOURSELF is an outstandingly crafted example of early 70s hard rock with prog influences and most likely the album of choice for those who didn’t appreciate the meandering nature of its predecessor. For my money, it plays it too safe at times but still offers an excellent tightrope act of progressive and hard rock with this album on the hard rock side of the fence. One thing is for sure. The year 1971 was when the band’s musical mojo was at fully fueled. Two excellent albums in one year is no small task and this band dished them out in near perfection.

URIAH HEEP Salisbury

Album · 1971 · Hard Rock
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URIAH HEEP didn’t waste any time after releasing their debut “…Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble” in mid-1970 to little fanfare. The band found that the musicians’ chemistry allowed them to progress quickly which allowed them to release not only one but two albums the following year in 1971 of which this album SALISBURY was the first to be released in February. After a debut album more geared towards hard rock with subtle progressive elements, on the second album the songwriting duties were much more in the hands of keyboardist Ken Hensley whereas the debut was more democratic with guitarist Mick Box and lead singer David Byron contributing a substantial amount of the material. The result of this is that SALISBURY was much more of a progressive rock album than a straight forward hard rock album per se. While the tracks and title would remain the same, this album had two different album covers for the UK and North America. The UK version dons the famous army tank shrouded in an orange mist whereas the American counterpart displayed a demonic corpse of some kind with a dark red backdrop.

While the opening track “Bird of Prey” launched the now standard heavy rock guitar driven formula of the debut (and was even chosen to replace the UK version’s “Lucy Blues” on the fourth track on that album), this album quickly drifts off into more keyboard driven rock that culminates in the grande finale 16-minute title track that featured a 24-piece orchestra filled complete with brass and woodwind sections. But make no mistake, SALISBURY contains hefty doses of heavy power chord guitar bombast, sizzling solos, dynamic bass and drum rhythm sections and the soaring operatic vocals of David Byron which made the band stand out from the pack immediately. While the rock elements hadn’t disappeared, they had been infiltrated by many other musical styles. Perhaps none so blatantly apparent than the folk-styled “Lady In Black” which narrates the story of a man encountering a goddess who consoles him after the turmoil of a major war. The single became a huge hit in Germany upon its re-release in 1977.

SALISBURY was a major step-up in every way from the debut without jettisoning the bluesy hard rock which provided the canvas to paint upon. While considered progressive rock, the easily accessible heavy rock melodic approach remains intact and the prog complexities don’t result from jarring inconsistencies with the melodic flow but rather stem from complimentary constructs which allow greater dynamics, more sophisticated songwriting and greater space to improvise clever technical aspects around. The album is also perfectly paced as it allows the hard rock to provide the main emphasis but is punctuated by the softer acoustic guitar and spaced out psychedelic moments to break the monotony. The heavy rock and softer approaches alternate up to the progressive behemoth highlight that closes the album, namely the 16 minute title track that took URIAH HEEP into a whole other level of heavy rock sophistication that no other of the day had even come close to approaching.

This period in the band’s history proved to be the most experimental and nothing showcases this ambition than the title track which swallowed up more than half of the album’s running time. While based in the same melodic hard rock of the rest of the album, the track turned into an extended progressive jam session that was complimented by John Fiddy’s outlandish arrangements for a 22-piece brass and woodwind section which allowed flutes and choirs to augment Byron’s vocals into a major production. Add to that some extraordinary organ and guitar solos and the track easily goes down as URIAH HEEP’s most ambitious piece of their half century career, a feat they would never tackle again as they settled into the more streamlined hard rock sounds that would launch their success on the album “Demons and Wizards.” Unfortunately for the band at this point this album was a little too far ahead of its time for hard rock listeners but has resonated strongly for the prog crowds ever since.

Of the two albums released in 1971, this one and the following “Look At Yourself,” this one has the upper edge for its bold statements that are utterly unique in not only the band’s canon but for the era in which it was produced. To me this is the type of sound that the early Mark I version of Deep Purple was trying to capture but didn’t quite have the chemistry to pull it off. With URIAH HEEP, all the band members were in sync with the direction of the band’s musical development and crafted one of the most demanding albums of their career with an utterly unique hybridization of heavier blues rock fused with the more sophisticated approaches of progressive rock. For many this was deemed unfocused and while it’s true that many disciplines of music are required to understand this, i personally find this to be a rather flawless album. The diverse elements that are strewn out are by far its strength not its weakness. If you only care for the simpler hard rock approach, there are countless other albums to explore however if you crave something existing in its own world and is the perfect embodiment of hard rock, blues, classical and prog then look no further. This is an excellent example of that little corner of unbridled experimentation.

URIAH HEEP Very 'Eavy... Very 'Umble

Album · 1970 · Hard Rock
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While Black Sabbath usually gets credit for launching the world of heavy metal music, it was actually Led Zeppelin’s debut in 1969 that emerged a year earlier that really hinted at the possibilities of taking 60s blues rock and making it louder, faster, dirtier and darker. Several acts quickly took that to heart and developed some of the first hard rock bands that were the proto-metal blueprints for the future. Black Sabbath made the biggest impression in the dark occult and doom metal fronts but bands like Deep Purple and URIAH HEEP took the 60s blues rock of Blue Cheer and Vanilla Fudge to the next level.

URIAH HEEP had its origins with guitarist Mick Box who formed the band Spice that stemmed from an earlier band called Hogwash. The Spice band sort of evolved into URIAH HEEP as new members kept joining and eventually led to the earliest formation that would continue to tour under the space moniker but after recording half of the debut album…VERY ‘EAVY…VERY ‘UMBLE the name was changed to URIAH HEEP. The band’s unusual name was chosen from the well known character in the Charles Dickens classic novel “David Copperfield” and likewise the equally bizarre album title to comes from a phrase used by the Dickens character that provided the band name.

This debut album was released as …VERY ‘EAVY…VERY ‘UMBLE in the band’s native UK however in Canada and the US it was released simply as URIAH HEEP with a completely different album cover and one different track. The UK release which has become the standard featured lead singer David Byron covered by cobwebs whereas the US version had some sort of Chinese dragon looking monstrous centipede or perhaps it was a monster from a Godzilla flick. Not sure. Likewise, the UK version featured the fourth track as “Lucy Blues” and the US version inserted the track “Bird of Prey” which would also be the opening track on the band’s second album “Salisbury.” Sounds like the Americans got screwed out of a track, huh?

While not as progressive as the following two albums, …VERY ‘EAVY…VERY ‘UMBLE joins the early pack of harder edged rock that would provide a blueprint for the heavier rock and metal to come. Lock in step with Deep Purple, URIAH HEEP set themselves apart from Led Zeppelin, Lucifer’s Friend and Black Sabbath by including a talented keyboardist whose sound was a key ingredient to the band’s overall sound. The album is notorious for the review in Rolling Stone magazine where Melissa Mills stated she would have to commit suicide if this band ever made it. Harsh words but the albums wasn’t received too well at the time but then again Deep Purple’s “In Rock” which is now considered a classic was also panned by the critics. The reason they are critics and not musicians! Burn!!!

The opening track “Gypsy” debuts URIAH HEEP’s classic sound already in tact. A powerful combo pack of heavy bombastic guitar stomps fortified by guitar distortion that took hard rock to the next level. Since this was still on the cusp of the 60s, the overall sound contains a number of influences including acid psychedelic rock, blues and folk. While the guitar, bass and drums provide the dominant rhythmic heft, the true star belongs to Ken Hensley’s massive organ presence that features extremely innovative and aggressive improvisations around the main melodic drive and of course i’d be remiss not to mention the operatic vocal style of lead singer David Byron whose style was emulated in the future heavy metal scenes that then evolved into the more sophisticated forms of metal such as power metal, symphonic metal and other styles that focused on high pitched melodic vocal styles.

While Deep Purple started out as a progressive rock band that mixed psychedelic 60s rock with classical music, that band morphed into a straight forward hard rock band with classical influences. URIAH HEEP’s debut showed the band more as a hard rock band with a few progressive influences that would lead to the more complex albums that followed before settling into a standard hard rock band of the 70s. While the tracks mostly cruise on standard 4/4 time signatures, there are some off-kilter insertions of prog sophistication but most of that would be put on hold until the powerhouse prog classic “Salisbury,” the band’s second album, however …VERY ‘EAVY…VERY ‘UMBLE was still a more difficult listen than many other rock albums of 1970 since it changed styles and required a more active listening approach.

URIAH HEEP’s debut album, whichever title you happen to experience with the one differing track is an excellent music experience even by today’s standards. Unlike Deep Purple and Black Sabbath, this band still had its hooks into heavy blues rock much like Wishbone Ash and some of the tracks like “Real Turned On” sound like much of the boogie rock of bands like Foghat, Little Feat and countless others would crank out throughout the 70s but URIAH HEEP displayed a more virtuosic approach with Mick Box’s excellent guitar work, Hensley’s manic keyboards and Byron’s excellent vocal range. Sorry Melissa Mills from Rolling Stone. Maybe instead of killing yourself because of URIAH HEEP’s success, you should open your mind to the new possibilities of how music evolves. The rest of the world has and even though this didn’t blow many away at the time of release, it has now gone down as a classic albeit overshadowed by the better works that followed. Excellent debut!

hard rock movie reviews

THE WHO Quadrophenia: Live In London

Movie · 2014 · Hard Rock
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I was not sure before purchasing this DVD, if I was going to enjoy a live show with the complete double album of "Quadrophenia", because it was a long time ago that I listen to this album and if I remember, I didn't enjoy all the songs. Many years later, I didn't change my mind about this, there are some really good songs, like the title track, "Dr. Jimmy", "The Rock" and "Love Reign Over Me". The other tracks are not bad for what they are, good rock songs, but not as good as some songs of their entire discography. Fortunately, the show has some of those songs as bonus performance, including "Baba O'Riley", "Who are You" and "Won't get Fooled Again"

There's a lot of projections on the screen of the band from the old days. Nice touch to have included John Entwistle with a solo of one of his performance in the song "5:15". Not only you can see him on the screen, but you can actually hear his solo. In fact, his solo sounds more alive than the bass sound of the actual player Pino Palladino, who is rarely captured by the cameras and low in the mix. Also, during "Bell Boy", Keith Moon is singing on the screen.Those projections of the old days performances are only present in the "Quadrophenia" album and not in the bonus songs at the end. We have many musicians on the stage including horn players, Simon Townsend who signs like Pete in "Dirty Jobs". Also two keyboardists, but it's mostly the piano that we hear during this show.

It is easy to rate this, can't be 2 stars because it's not only for collectors, and can't be 4 stars because, that is not a progressive rock show. So it's a good 3 stars, nothing more. But those who enjoy "Quadrophenia" will have a ball with this DVD!

DEF LEPPARD Classic Albums: Hysteria

Movie · 2002 · Hard Rock
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The worst episode of all Classic Albums series (and I watched 25 of them)!

What is great about the series is that they explain track by track about the albums and show these tracks on a studio enviroment stripping them down and showing us details. Not here.

Hysteria have 12 tracks, but according to this documentary the album have only 7 tracks, and half of it the only feature on the movie is some video or live footage of the song, sometimes the band says 3 words about it though.

As I said, this series is supposed to go deep into Classic albums in the history of music and tell their secrets and details, and most of times they do an excellent job. Not here.

Not to mention that Hysteria might have sold 12 million copies but this is not a classic album at all, just a popular one in 1987. And we know this story in Pop music, right?

RUSH Replay X 3

Movie · 2006 · Hard Rock
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"Replay X3" is a terrific box set of the 3 earlier Rush VHS concerts and it has been mastered to provide great picture though not all widescreen unfortunately. The sound is excellent without any noteable dropout unlike the VHS antiques. The packaging is excellent, booklets included and all original art prints on the seperate covers. There is also a bonus CD of Grace Under Pressure which is worthwhile.

DVD 1 is Exit...Stage Left, a 1 hour concert from the early years or Rushtory when they had long hair, and features a strong setlist with the likes of Limelight, Tom Sawyer, and a rare appearance of the brilliant Xanadu. The usual suspects are here such as the wonderful Red Barchetta and quintessential Freewill along with lighters in the air stalwart crowd pleaser Closer To The Heart. It is always great to see them having fun with the instrumental YYZ and a real treat is to hear the medley at the end with By-Tor And The Snow Dog, In The End, In The Mood and 2112 edited together masterfully. The VHS or DVD delivers what it promises, Rush in their hey day with great quality sound and editing. The band look young of course and jump around a lot more and there were no signs of chicken rotisseries or clothes dryers back then, but a heck of a lot of lighting and laser effects more than makes up for it. The concert also comes with a lot of interview footage and voice overs between songs, and some footage of the band backstage while the songs play and that is a treat compared to the usual straight concert footage. Too short but quite sweet. A real blast from the past that will please Rushaholics.

DVD 2 is Grace Under Pressure, another of the earlier concert performances of Rush running for about an hour with a lot of songs from "Grace Under Pressure" of course and it is nice to hear these. It begins with a glorious opening with The Spirit Of Radio, and a noticeable glowing effect on the band especially the white shirts, as if Vaseline had been rubbed on the lens. This is the 80s and this effect was prominent on film clips of artists such as Nik Kershaw and Dire Straits or Duran Duran. It looks kind of weird on Rush as they were never pretty video boys. Unfortunately the fuzzy effect is prevalent throughout the recording, and it kind of annoys me, especially the way the bright lights phase over constantly. Lifeson wears a white sports jacket looking like the mad scientist of metal, Peart has a white T and red cap that he loses later, and Lee wears grey suit jacket and white T. The hair dos are 80s personified; Peart has a rat tail, Lee has a mullet and Lifeson has a Flock of Seagulls quiff. Oh well, it is what it is. The music is brilliant.

The Enemy Within is rarely heard live but sparked my memory and it's a great song. The Weapon is always fantastic, one of my favourites, and it begins with a Dracula character on screen telling people to put on their 3D glasses. Witch Hunt begins with a screening of a bunch of cultists burning books with torches. It is a great song from "Moving Pictures" recently heard in the Time Machine concerts. Lee's vocals are excellent throughout and the guitars are incredible. New World Man is another one rarely heard live recently and it is OK though not one of the better tracks from "Signals". Synths are heard here though no one seems to be playing them, so I suspect some recorded music was used. It was the age of the video clip and a clip is shown of some animation and a boy looking up to see a huge airship in the sky. Distant Early Warning follows and it is a great song from GUP, that has become a concert favourite. The clip shows the boy riding a missile and the laser light show follows.

Red Sector A is an awesome song and I loved hearing it on this DVD again, with one of the strongest melodies of the Rush catalogue. The laser show looks great here. The lyrics by Lee are terrific and when Lee sings "smoking gun" a massive explosion goes off causing the crowd to roar. The lyrics are actually based on family experience and is a homage to his mother and father that survived the holocaust. Though Lee re wrote the lyrics to have a broader perspective that it may apply to any holocaust like situation such as Rwanda. Closer To The Heart is always a crowd pleaser and the crowd know it well enough to drown out some of Lee's vocals. There were no mobile phones back then but plenty of lighters go up in the air.

The obligatory medley is here with a terrific merging of some classics, YYZ, Temples Of Syrinx, and Tom Sawyer. During YYZ the crowd are obsessed with air drumming throughout. Tom Sawyer features the Moving Pictures animation on the screen. It is nice to hear Lee be able to reach those high notes too in the chorus.

Vital Signs is one I have not seen live on other concerts till the "Moving Pictures" live concerts of recent years. When Lee takes off his jacket his white T glows like the rest of the band's halos. It is a weird effect really and perhaps the worse part of the DVD. It ends with Finding My Way and In The Mood, from the earliest album. it is a great crowd participation song with the crowd visible throughout, a guy even lights up a pipe at one stage. Overall, this is a great snippet of songs from the Rush 80s years, worth checking out for certain even if for nostalgia if nothing else.

DVD 3 is A Show Of Hands, a 90 minutes concert experience and as such way better than the previous DVDs available, namely "Exit Stage Left" and "Grace Under Pressure". It is excellent also due to the use of animations on the big screen and the overall setlist. The songs are from "Hold Your Fire" mostly and I believe they are better heard live than on that album so that is a drawcard of this particular DVD. It also has a very solid quality sound throughout and the band look great and have heaps of fun. From "Hold Your Fire" the songs appear, Mission, Prime Mover, Force Ten, and Turn The Page so there is a lot from their latest at the time.

Closer To The Heart is always present of course along with quintessential Tom Sawyer, and The Spirit of Radio. I always love to hear the magnificent Red Sector A and hard rocking Force Ten, and it was great to see them play Mission, another one rarely heard live on these DVDs.

Marathon, Territories and The Big Money from "Power Windows" are good rockers for the crowd to get into. The drum solo by Peart is terrific, with his vibes section and patented cymbal jazz splashes along with some incredible triplet work though his drums are still stationary in this era, and not as many.

The concert ends with a brilliant medley 2112, The Temples Of Syrinx, La Villa Strangiato and In The Mood. Overall a strong concert, one of the best live documents of the band and worth getting hold of above the rest.

The Grace Under Pressure Bonus CD, is a previously unreleased audio from the newly remastered Grace Under Pressure concert soundtrack and it is a fantastic Rush sound.

"Replay x3" is definitely worth getting as it houses 3 very good concerts of the early years and these are only available now with this set released in 2006.

RUSH Exit...Stage Left

Movie · 1981 · Hard Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Exit...Stage Left is a 1 hour concert from the early years or Rushtory when they had long hair, and features a strong setlist with the likes of Limelight, Tom Sawyer, and a rare appearance of the brilliant Xanadu. The usual suspects are here such as the wonderful Red Barchetta and quintessential Freewill along with lighters in the air stalwart crowd pleaser Closer To The Heart. It is always great to see them having fun with the instrumental YYZ and a real treat is to hear the medley at the end with By-Tor And The Snow Dog, In The End, In The Mood and 2112 edited together masterfully. The VHS or DVD delivers what it promises, Rush in their hey day with great quality sound and editing. The band look young of course and jump around a lot more and there were no signs of chicken rotisseries or clothes dryers back then, but a heck of a lot of lighting and laser effects more than makes up for it. The concert also comes with a lot of interview footage and voice overs between songs, and some footage of the band backstage while the songs play and that is a treat compared to the usual straight concert footage. Too short but quite sweet. A real blast from the past that will please Rushaholics.

RUSH Snakes And Arrows Live

Movie · 2008 · Hard Rock
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
This 3 CD package is a great concert experience that I will return to often. Everything works - from the excellent sound quality to the crystal clear picture. The stage itself is massive and there are incredible lighting effects, lasers and fire effects. The 3 split screens at times show each band member, and sometimes a visual effect to enhance the track being played. There are weird Rush-ian gimmicks, namely the 3 huge ovens full of rotating chickens that glow ominous red throughout the night. There is no reference to these except Lee says at the end of CD1 that they are no longer spring chickens so they need to take a break. At one point a weird chef appears to turn the chickens over. Similar in fact to the washing machines with rotating clothes in the 'Live in Rio' show. Other subtler things are on stage such as flanks of flowers around microphones, plastic dinosaurs around Lifeson's stacks and the piece de resistance is the miniature Stonehenge rock on Lee's keyboards - a nod in Spinal Tap's direction for sure. We see crowd shots and Lee takes home movies of them screaming Hello Canada - in fact we see many versions of him doing this from other shows. Peart is featured with a sizzling drum solo that is well above what normally occurs in solos. He uses gamelon style blocks and sound effect drums to enhance the solo and his kit rotates to add depth. I love when the jazz band kicks in and he plays full blown jazz metrical patterns - there is a standing ovation after this.

There are no lengthy lead solo sections where Lifeson plays by himself but there is a nice acoustic piece following the drum solo. Lifeson effortlessly plays all the songs with precision and finesse. Surely one of the greatest guitarists in the world.

Lee's vocals are excellent and as clear as ever. His bass pounds on every track. I noted its all mostly hard rock on this live show. The band play old favourites that every Rush fan adores such as 'Spirit of Radio' and 'Tom Sawyer' but they focus on 'Snakes and Arrows' album, virtually playing every song. This could have been problematic but I find these live versions even better than the studio versions. I was never a huge fan of S&A but this live concert really brings something special to these tracks. I like the film clips that break up the songs such as South Park's Cartman singing Tom Sawyer and the weird clips of babies in prams and a game of snakes and ladders.

The bonus features are fun, such as watching the clips without the band shots and the making of the clips which show Rush at their kookiest. Some of the extra live tracks are great too so overall this is a must see for any Rush fan. I recommend this as well as 'Live IN Rio' which are completely different experiences. This is not as good as 'Rio' due to the set list, but it is still a fantastic DVD package.

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