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


Album · 1992 · Heavy Alternative Rock
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"Core" is the debut full-length studio album by US, California based hard rock act Stone Temple Pilots. The album was released through Atlantic Records in September 1992. Stone Temple Pilots were formed in 1985 by lead vocalist Scott Weiland and bassist Robert DeLeo under the Swing monicker (they later recruited drummer Eric Kretz), but changed their name to Mighty Joe Young (after Robert´s older brother guitarist Dean DeLeo joined in 1989 and suggested a name change). The band recorded a demo under the Mighty Joe Young monicker and made a name for themselves on the San Diego club scene using that name, and Atlantic Records eventually took notice and signed the band. While in the studio with producer Brendan O´Brien recording the material for "Core", the band were told that a blues band existed using the Mighty Joe Young name, and the band were therefore forced to another name change. They settled for Stone Temple Pilots.

Stone Temple Pilots are often lumped in with the contemporary Seattle scene and artists like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains (and were often criticized for it by the contemporary music press), and while there is certainly some truth (ok, a lot of truth) to that Stone Temple Pilots were not a worsphipping clone act. They had a enough original musical elements to stand out and it´s predominantly the voice and singing style of Weiland which point toward Seattle (and especially Alice in Chains lead vocalist Layne Staley). The songwriting is also top notch and "Core" features many standout tracks and it´s through and through a high quality hard rock release.

Radio/music video hits like "Plush" and "Sex Type Thing" are among the best known tracks off the album, but there´s not a single sub par track on the album and I could just as well have mentioned tracks like "Dead & Bloated" or the 8:25 minutes long "Where The River Goes" (which are the two tracks bookending the album), or the hard rocking and faster-paced "Crackermann" as some of the highlights. Stone Temple Pilots can also do melancholic ballads which they prove with "Creep", but their greatest success is actually the tracklist flow. Even the two shorter interlude tracks "No Memory" and "Wet My Bed" serve a breather purpose and work well in transitioning the album to the next phase.

"Core" features a professional, powerful, and detailed sounding production, which suits the material perfectly. The performances are also strong on all posts. hard rocking and sometimes pretty heavy guitar work, organic and powerful drumming (and some pretty nice percussion too), clever bass lines, and the strong voice and passionate delivery by Weiland in front. This does not sound like a debut release at all. There are no odd experimental tracks (save for "Wet My Bed", but that one fits the concept and atmosphere of the album), inconsistent songwriting, or unpolished musical ideas, which don´t fit in. This is an album which works from start to finish and a 4 - 4.5 star (85%) rating is deserved.


Album · 2022 · Heavy Psych
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siLLy puPPy
When i say the 70s are a gift that never stop giving, i’m not only referring to the seemingly endless supply of treasures that were recorded during a single decade but i’m also talking about the influence that modern artists still are lapping up in great abundance. Retro prog should be considered a whole new subsection of the progressive rock universe at this point with countless bands adopting the sounds, songwriting and ethos of classic era artists. Sweden and Scandinavia in general seems to be the new ground zero for retro prog and here is yet one more band, TIME DWELLERS that comes from the far southern city of Karlshamn.

Formed in 2017, this band is a trio consisting of Martin Fairbanks (guitar), Kristofer Stjernquist (vocals, synthesizer, bass, guitar) and Henrik Bergman (drums). The band’s debut NOVUM AURORA hit the scene in May of 2022 but i’m only getting around to it right after the turn of the year in early 2023. This band delivers the very essence of what retro prog dreams come true are all about. Sounding like they easily could’ve written and produced this in the early 1970s, TIME DWELLERS seems to take a cue from many bands of the English scene.

The heavy melodic rock that features tight harmonies accompanied by proggier than usual compositions brings the great Uriah Heep to mind especially around the “Salisbury” and “Look At Yourself” era although lead singer Kristofer Stjernquist doesn’t quite have the vocal range of the legendary David Byron. The opening track “Rising: Dawn / Awakening / Metamorphosis” whiffs of Emerson, Lake & Palmer with a robust keyboard riff but what’s immediately apparent is that this guys have thoroughly studied the melodic rock compositional approach of early 70s bands and mastered it thoroughly.

In addition to heavier bands like Uriah Heep and fleeting references to Black Sabbath, Wishbone Ash and Led Zeppelin, the band showcases slower tracks in the vein of Free, UFO, Stray and well countless other blues based hard rock bands of the era. What’s impressive about TIME DWELLERS is that they have incorporated all the elements of the era together so very well and make it sound like they were a phantom band of the era without ever releasing anything until now. Unlike many hard rock albums of the era, NOVUM AURORA has an impressive production that allows the synthesizers, mellotrons and other background sounds to mix perfectly with the guitars, bass and drums.

On the songwriting side of things, these guys have nailed that classic compositional structure with tight instantly catchy melodies without sounding cheesy or overly maudlin. The album is easily accessible upon a single listening experience yet has enough going on to keep you coming back. The music has an edge to it without eradicating the easy to follow hooks. Perhaps a little too tame for many modern heavy rockers but if taken as the retro band that they are, then i think TIME DWELLERS have done an excellent job at capturing the zeitgeist of an era gone by without sounding like a clone of any particular artist (that i’m aware of anyways).

While i wouldn’t call NOVUM AURORA a modern masterpiece of revisited retro prog in the same way that Wobbler has channeled past glories, i would call this an amazingly brilliant piece of late 1960s / early 1970s heavy retro psych prog that not only evokes the time of half a century ago in the music underground but also is a relevant listening experience for lover’s of melodic rock that alternates between heavier and softer passages. The musicians are all on the top of their game and the vocals are spot on for replicating these retro sounds. Very impressive. Looking forward to hearing how these guys progress. Sweden is a never-ending wellspring of fertile creative spirits!

STARCHILD Children of the Stars

Album · 1978 · Hard Rock
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Starchild was a progressive-edged hard rock act from Cambridge, Ontario that formed in 1975. The drummer, Greg "Fritz" Hinz would later go on to play for Helix.

The band released one album in 1978 on the Axe Records label, "Children of the Stars". The album showcases the bands hard rock style but also their endeavours to be a little on the progressive side, not unlike compatriots Triumph.

The recording is not lavish. It's more or less vocals, guitar, bass, and drums without much else in terms of overdubs or additional instrumentation, though a touch of synthesizer is added for spacey effect. Basically, the album sounds like the band could have recorded it playing live in the studio if they wanted to.

Lyrically, the songs traverse sci-fi (the title track), dark fantasy (Wooden Steaks and Mashed Potatoes), fantasy of females (Wizard Woman), and social commentary. The song Groove Man is a somewhat comical observation of an ex-punk rocker who's gone disco.

The album shows a band with a lot of promise but at the same time, an album by a band in the studio for the first time. The songs rock out and the efforts at musical complexity are earnest and appreciable. However, I can't help but feel that there was a confusion about letting the band be a progressive hard rock act while approaching the recording in a punk rock fashion. It's raw and the production sounds simple even though the band is clearly striving to be more.

It's not as good as Triumph and certainly a far cry from Rush, but nevertheless it's an interesting find, being a rather obscure album. CDs are available from Axe Records.


Album · 2002 · Hard Rock
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Denmark-based ensemble Cornerstone wasted no time and, less than two years after their excellent debut Arrival, released their sophomore record Human Stain. The band came together in 1999 as a collaboration between Royal Hunt’s bassist Steen Mogensen and former Rainbow’s singer Dougie White. The rest of the line-up playing on Human Stain is comprised of drummer Allan Sørensen (Narita, Royal Hunt), guitarist Kasper Damgaard, and keyboard player Rune Bring. Long-time Royal Hunt collaborator Kenny Lübcke sings backing vocals, and guitarists Jacob Kjaer (also Royal Hunt!) and Tony Rahm (Prime Time) provide solos in a couple of tracks.

Royal Hunt got mentioned quite a lot in the previous paragraph, but that shouldn’t give you the idea that Human Stain is a sort of Royal Hunt B-sides project. There are of course moments in the music when we are reminded of the symphonic bombast of the Danish maestros, but the album’s overall sound is quite different, and so are the main influences it draws upon. Soundwise, the album is much more guitar-centred than any album Royal Hunt have ever recorded. The bass also sits quite high in the mix and is a prominent driving-force throughout the record. This gives Human Stain a ballsy, no-frill hard rock sound that sets it apart from the lush symphonic productions of Mogensen’s other band.

The most striking difference, however, lies in the influences that Cornerstone take on board on this record, namely Rainbow and Ronnie James Dio. This was also the case on the band’s first LP Arrival, although that album lived in a more unique and special sonic space, mixing classic metal, hard rock and blues. Human Stain shreds off some of those influences and follows more decidedly the classic heavy metal sound of Rainbow. In some instances, the similitude with Ritchie Blackmore’s band is uncanny, also thanks to Dougie White’s voice that is remarkably similar to Ronnie James Dio’s, showcasing that irresistible mix of grit and melody that the American singer mastered so well.

The influence of Rainbow defines the album sonically, but also holds it back when it comes to assessing its overall standing in terms of contribution and originality. There is not much going on in this record that you will not have heard somewhere else before (most likely on a record where Dio was singing). Moreover, despite the generally good quality of the material included here, the comparison with those early Rainbow records remains firmly in favor of the British forerunners: no matter how good songs like “Wounded Land”, “House of Nevermore”, and “Midnight in Tokyo” are, they will never manage to outcompete untouchable classics like “Stargazer”, “Kill the King” or “Rainbow Eyes”.

Ultimately, Human Stain lives and dies by its influences. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable collection of high-quality songs, well arranged and with plenty of catchy melodic hooks that make them memorable. It’s hard to shake off the deja-vu feeling, however. But if you can ignore it, Human Stain is a great record to spin once in a while.

AVATARIUM Death, Where Is Your Sting

Album · 2022 · Heavy Psych
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Started ten years ago as a side-project by legendary Candlemass bassist Leif Edling, Avatarium have risen to become a reckoning force in the doom metal/rock arena. Album after album, as Edling’s involvement in the band gradually decreased, the Swedes kept carving a unique and remarkable path for themselves, skillfully balancing their doom heritage with swathes of 1970s psychedelic prog as well as jazz and blues influences that are testament to singer Jennie-Ann Smith’s background. This masterplan has finally come to full fruition on the band’s fifth full-length LP, Death, Where Is Your Sting, out on October 21, 2022 via AFM Records. There is no way around it: the new record is not only the band’s strongest effort to date, it is a bona-fide masterpiece and a top contender for my album of the year.

The first thing that I loved about Death, Where Is Your Sting is that it reminded me of the reason why, as a teenager, I became irredeemably attracted to metal: the guitars. Now, keyboards and synths have become a staple of modern metal, but there was a time where these instruments were viewed with hostility in the metal community (I still remember CD stickers proudly promoting the album as “keyboard-free”). Not by me, though: I have always loved the use of electronica and synths in metal, even back in the 1990s when the trend was just starting. However, over the years I have also come to appreciate how (excessive) reliance on keyboards may give guitar players an excuse for lazy songwriting and arrangements, because “the keyboards will take care of texture”. Not here: Marcus Jidell’s six-stringed instrument lies at the very heart of the album’s sound design and texture. One can find all sorts of guitar tones and techniques on this album, making it such an interesting listen through and through. When Jidell is not busy churning out massive riffs with his signature fat, fuzzy distortion, he is bending his strings dramatically or holding long notes to deliver the best Gilmouresque, weeping leads and solos you’ll hear this year. But there’s more: strummed and fingerpicked acoustic guitars are at the very forefront of the music, especially on the album’s first three tracks. In fact, I struggle to recall a recent metal album featuring so much acoustic guitar as this one. And, as if this was not enough, Jidell also takes out his cello in a handful of songs to deliver amazing solos that add a whole new dimension to the album. The acoustic and electric parts are mixed together masterfully, balancing one another and giving the album a multidimensionality and depth that is rare to find in today’s metal productions (more on this later).

Death, Where Is Your Sting deserves multiple spins if only to appreciate the nuance of the guitar parts. But there’s more: the other prominent ingredient in Avatarium’s sonic cauldron is Jennie-Ann Smith’s beautiful voice. Her vocal tone may not grab you immediately: she has a trained, clear and dry voice that one immediately associates with jazz standards and may feel cold and detached at first. But her presence in the music grows with repeated listens, her subdued blues twang becoming more and more spellbinding and her evocative phrasing increasing in power. Eventually, one comes to appreciate Jennie-Ann for a quality many singers do not really have: she truly knows how to use her voice to perfectly fit the music. She can be fragile one moment, and powerful, almost messianic, another, as the song grows in intensity. She effortlessly switches between delicate falsettos and a deeper vocal tone, exploding in forceful screams when the music requires it. It’s a fantastic performance: subtle, nuanced and poetic as no others I have heard this year.

With two such great performers as Smith and Jidell, the album is inevitably constructed around voice and guitars. This is best exemplified in “Psalm for the Living”, a powerful hymn where Smith’s vocals and Jidell’s mournful arpeggios truly constitute the near totality of the music - except for a few bars of sparse percussions provided by drummer Andreas Johansson. Elsewhere, the rest of the band play a more prominent, but still restrained, role. Daniel Karlsson adds tasteful piano flourishes in a handful of songs, while Johansson and Mats Rydström (bass) provide a backbone that is remarkably sparse and understated, often just keeping the beat with very little added embellishments. Jidell’s sound production and Mats Valentin’s mix tastefully place each instrument on different sonic planes - the guitars and voice upfront, then the rhythm section, and finally Karlsson’s keyboards more in the background. This creates a sense of depth and contrast in the mix that stands out compared to many recent metal production - almost like the difference between a 3D and a standard 2D video - and is truly a pleasure to listen to.

The point I tried to make so far is that Death, Where Is Your Sting has a great sound: interesting, rich and deep. But the album’s true trump card is its exquisite songwriting. This is where Avatarium’s superior firepower really comes through. Each of the album’s 8 songs is a gem. The melodies are memorable but never obvious or cheesy. The transitions between verses and choruses are subtle and classy: this is not an album of big, overstated chorus lines being force-fed to the listener over and over again. The progressions feel natural and there are plenty of digressions from the basic verse-chorus structure, which keeps things interesting and not predictable.

The album also offers extraordinary variation across its songs, which makes for a fun and dynamic listen. The first three tracks are more acoustic and explore in depth the band’s 1970s progressive and folk rock influences, from the delay-drenched dark atmospheric rock of “A Love Like Ours” to the almost Johnny Cash vibes of the title-track. The sparse, delicate “Psalm for the Living” serves as an interlude before Avatarium introduce three heavier, doom-inspired pieces. “God Is Silent” is a Sabbathian mammoth that will crush you with its dramatic rises and falls. “Mother Can You Hear Me Now” is a moving ballad featuring one of the best guitar solos I heard in recent years, while “Nocturne” plays beautifully on the contrast between fast, classic heavy metal guitar riffs and 1970s-infused upbeat vocals, a trick Avatarium have proven to master in previous albums as well (Hurricane and Halos). The album closes with the moody instrumental “Transcendent”, a dark, introspective piece swinging dramatically between acoustic moments and heavy sections that almost veer into blackened doom territory (check out Johansson’s double bass drumming in the middle section). It’s a spellbinding conclusion to an awesome journey, exploring themes of death and rebirth through different facets of doom and progressive rock, in a way that feels fresh, genuine and emotionally compelling.

Comparisons are futile because Avatarium sound like no other, but let me nevertheless indulge into an observation. Death, Where Is Your Sting breaks boundaries between genres, exploring darkness through the lens of different musical traditions (doom, classic heavy metal, prog rock, psychedelia, folk) in a way that reminded me of two kindred-spirit artists: Opeth and Oceans of Slumber. Neither band sound anything like Avatarium, but their drive to stretch the boundaries of extreme metal and merge it with other styles into new, extraordinary hybrids, is similar. Echoes of the darker corners of acoustic prog (Comus, String Driven Thing) can be heard both here and in Opeth’s most recent records, not to speak of Mikael Åkerfeldt’s one-off collaboration with Steven Wilson, Storm Corrosion (I bet Åkerfeldt and Wilson would have loved to have written the acoustic arpeggio that opens “Transcendent”). It’s also interesting to compare Avatarium’s Death, Where Is Your Sting with Oceans of Slumber’s Starlight and Ash, also released this year: on these records, both bands took their doom heritage and filtered it through 1960s and 1970s influences to usher in a new, timeless form of darkness. The results that can be heard on the two albums are radically different, but the trajectory towards new sonic landscapes is of a similar nature, and ties in with the recent revival of Occult Rock (Ghost, The Devil's Blood, Dool, Molassess), but with unparalleled class and musicality.

Death, Where Is Your Sting is one of the great albums of our time. It’s the pinnacle of Avatarium’s career to date - combining the experimental drive of Hurricanes and Halos with the velvet finesse of The Fire I Long For to produce a superior brand of dark rock/metal. It showcases a band with a unique voice and in full command of their artistry. This is simply a mandatory listen this year for anyone into the darker side of music.

[Originally written for The Metal Observer]

hard rock movie reviews

KISS Kiss Meets The Phantom Of The Park

Movie · 1978 · Hard Rock
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Vim Fuego
KISS have long had a reputation for doing anything for a buck, and getting their name out in public. There are KISS coffins, er… sorry I mean KISS Kaskets, KISS cologne, KISS checkers, KISS Visa cards, and of course, the KISS comic books. Is it over-the-top tacky marketing of image over substance, or is it capitalism and market forces in action, and simply giving people what they want? With KISS, it’s an unclear mixture of both.

The Marvel Comics Super Special 1977 comic book saw Space Ace, the Demon, the Starchild, and the Catman battling villains Dr. Doom and Mephisto with their superpowers. The comic even has the band members’ blood mixed in with the ink. And so what does every comic book superhero want? A live action movie of course.

So the world got “Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park”, which first aired on the NBC network on 28 October 1978.

It’s like an overlong live action episode of Scooby Doo, but without the stoner humour. The plot is a bit convoluted. KISS are playing a series of shows at an amusement park. However the park is inhabited by a mad scientist who is supposedly developing animatronic robots for the park. But of course, he’s mad and therefore evil, so he’s creating robots of real people. He creates a Demon Gene robot which smashes up the park. While the band are busy performing, another robot is sent to steal their talismans, from which their superpowers come. And then it starts to get silly and confusing…

There’s more than half an hour of snoozefest before there’s any “acting” from the band themselves. None of the four had any acting experience, and the stilted delivery of their dialogue shows. Originally, all Space Ace was scripted to say was “Ack!” When the real Ace found out, he threatened to pull out unless he got some more lines. After demanding more lines, Frehley also didn’t show for filming some days, so his stunt double filled in. Peter Criss’ Catman lines were mostly feline puns, and his voice ended up being overdubbed anyway, as he didn’t turn up for looping (re-recording lines in post-production), and his broad accent. Gene’s Demon voice ended up either a demonic roar or a Satanic hiss.

Despite all the cheap and nasty sets, effects, and costuming, the fight scenes are actually pretty entertaining. There’s a kung fu fight after one of the concerts onstage and in the empty arena, and there’s a great slapstick/comic book-style brawl against various classic horror movie monster robots. And of course, there’s the climactic KISS robots vs KISS superheroes fight in front of a crowd going wild.

There’s concert footage interspersed through the movie. These parts offer sweet relief from the hammy acting. It was a real concert at a real theme park, set up especially to be filmed for the movie. After the real concert, the band also lip synched several tracks for filming. As you’d expect from KISS, the live performances are flamboyant and over-the-top. Perhaps a more traditional concert movie would have been a better idea?

So how did it all turn out? It was a fucking disaster of course! KISS hated it. For years, after, it was forbidden to mention the movie to anyone in the band. Gene Simmons compared it to “Plan 9 From Outer Space”, often considered the worst movie of all time.

Fans hated it. It got a worldwide release in theatres to a pretty tepid response. It was oddly popular in Australia, but this was probably because free tickets could be obtained by cutting 20 diamond shaped coupons from an ice confectionery cup called an "Icee" and pasting them onto a printed sheet.

KISS fans being what they are, eventually warmed to the movie. It slowly gained cult status, and was released on DVD as part of the “Kissology Volume Two: 1978-1991” box set. It’s one of those movies you see to say that you’ve seen it, but won’t remember well, and definitely won’t remember for the right reasons. The thought of a second viewing is a brand new horror show all of it’s own…

DEEP PURPLE The Video Singles

Movie · 1987 · Hard Rock
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Don’t get me wrong, I love Deep Purple, and I really enjoy the songs on offer here, but these videos are all pretty hilariously bland and uninteresting, and sure reflections of the times and music genre. Besides that, this DVD is barely half an hour long, and comes with no extras, and all these videos are available on YouTube. Not even some additional chit chat between the videos. So there’s really no point in owning this unless you’re an OCD collector like me, who needs to own everything. And even then, it only takes up space.

But I’m a collector, and I only paid 50p for this. So why not?

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.

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