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.

hard rock top albums

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RUSH Moving Pictures Album Cover Moving Pictures
4.52 | 191 ratings
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LED ZEPPELIN Led Zeppelin IV Album Cover Led Zeppelin IV
4.49 | 175 ratings
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DEEP PURPLE Machine Head Album Cover Machine Head
4.45 | 152 ratings
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RUSH A Farewell to Kings Album Cover A Farewell to Kings
4.45 | 145 ratings
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DEEP PURPLE Deep Purple In Rock Album Cover Deep Purple In Rock
4.45 | 135 ratings
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BLOOD CEREMONY The Eldritch Dark Album Cover The Eldritch Dark
4.67 | 22 ratings
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RUSH Hemispheres Album Cover Hemispheres
4.40 | 146 ratings
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CLUTCH Psychic Warfare Album Cover Psychic Warfare
4.81 | 12 ratings
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THE SMASHING PUMPKINS Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness Album Cover Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
4.52 | 30 ratings
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BLOOD CEREMONY Lord Of Misrule Album Cover Lord Of Misrule
4.62 | 18 ratings
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RUSH 2112 Album Cover 2112
4.36 | 143 ratings
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VAN HALEN Van Halen Album Cover Van Halen
4.34 | 112 ratings
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God Of The Gaps
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Bum In The Sun
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hard rock Music Reviews


Album · 2010 · Stoner Rock
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"Demon Master" is the second full-length studio album by US, San Francisco based thrash metal/hard rock/heavy metal act Blind Illusion. The album was independently released in July 2010. Blind Illusion was formed in 1979 and although it took until 1988 before the band were able to release their debut full-length studio album "The Sane Asylum", they are widely recognised as an important and influential San Francisco thrash metal act. Blind Illusion weren´t able to secure a new label deal after the release of "The Sane Asylum", and after releasing the 1989 "Psychodelic Symphony" demo, they slowly faded away and finally disbanded in 1992.

It wasn´t completely over for lead vocalist/guitarist Marc Biedermann though, and after a long break he opted to reform Blind Illusion in 2009. On "Demon Master" he is joined by drummer Robert Nystrom and bassist Danny Harcourt, making Blind Illusion a trio on the album.

Stylistically "Demon Master" don´t exactly pick up where "The Sane Asylum" took off. There are zero thrash metal riffs and rhythms on "Demon Master" and instead it´s a bluesy hard rock/heavy metal album with Biedermann singing instead of shouting/snarling like he did on "The Sane Asylum". So this probably came as a big surprise to the original fans of the band, who had been waiting for a follow-up album for 22 years. But changes aren´t always bad new, and Blind Illusion actually pull off playing this new hard rock/heavy metal style pretty well. Biedermann is still an excellent guitarist and his new rhythm section keep things organic, energetic, and powerful. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Biedermann can actually sing too, so all in all "Demon Master" is a pretty good quality hard rock/heavy metal release and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating isn´t all wrong.

BLOOD CEREMONY The Old Ways Remain

Album · 2023 · Heavy Psych
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The Old Ways Remain! And it's good to know that, because for a while there it looked like Blood Ceremony had fallen off of the radar; after consistently putting out an album every 2-3 years, the long quiet from this doom-tinged heavy psych group was beginning to feel ominous. No need to worry: Alia O'Brien, Sean Kennedy, and the reliable rhythm section of Gadke and Carrillo are back. If Blood Ceremony have dialled back the quantity of releases lately, at least they are making sure the quality is top notch, with this occult rock tour de force as usual combining a solid heavy psych underpinning with O'Brien's distinctive presence on vocals, flute, and organ, delivering a defiant folk horror manifesto. Unless you are one of those for whom Blood Ceremony lost their charm when they dialled back the doom metal side of their sound in order to amp up the psych, there's plenty to love here for anyone who's already familiar, and if you're not it's a perfect statement of what thry are all about.


Album · 1972 · Heavy Psych
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siLLy puPPy
While “Choice Cuts” was a slice of hard boogie rock with psychedelic folk extras and offered a glimpse into the world of progressive rock, THE MASTERS APPRENTICES’ fourth release A TOAST TO PANAMA RED ramped up the prog attributes a tad while tamping down the harder boogie rock. The result was an album that many consider one of Australia’s best prog albums of the 70s except at this point the band was more British and Aussie! Well actually the band was a bit of both. It would be the band’s final album at least in this first formation until a reunion album surfaced in 1988.

The time between “Choice Cuts” and A TOAST TO PANAMA RED, which refers to a Central American variety of marijuana, was a stressful time as the band was approached by the new UK label Bronze but still in contract with EMI Australia. Trying to negotiate and pit the two labels on a bidding war, the whole thing blew up in the band’s face and ultimately ended up staying with EMI. The album was recorded under band member tensions and didn’t go as smoothly as “Choice Cuts” therefore this period was the beginning of the unraveling of the team spirit which sustained the band for a few years. Ultimately it meant back to Abbey Studios to release what would be the band’s final album of its first run anyways.

A TOAST TO PANAMA RED hit the music market in 1972 and featured everything that made “Choice Cuts” so delectable for those who heard it. Once again the band mixed prog, hard rock, psychedelic folk and a bit of boogie rock. While still rooted in catchy pop hooks, the compositions this time around were a bit more dreamy and more sophisticated which made them a bit more difficult to follow. With bluesy guitar riffing and medieval folk moments, this fourth album stood apart proudly from its predecessor that sucked you in and wouldn’t let you lose interest for the entire album’s run. A TOAST TO PANAMA RED seems less easy to grasp upon a single spin. The subtle complexities added a whole new dimension and while not full blown prog as went many bands around 1972, the influences are undeniable.

While the harder rock is still present such as on the opening “Answer Lies Beyond,” the distortion is turned down and tones are warmer and more varied. Likewise Keays’ vocals are less agitating and overall the band just sounds more relaxed. While on the opener Keays sounds a little funny like he just huffed on a helium balloon, subsequent tracks reveal a more nuanced approach that allows the proggier constructs to unfold. The tracks also feature some jamming segments such as “Beneath The Sun” which unleashes a cool bluesy guitar riff over a funky bass groove. In fact it the bass reminds me of that Ted Nugent song “Stranglehold” which didn’t come out until 1975 although granted the tempo is sped up a bit.

A TOAST TO PANAMA RED is certainly the favorite album for those looking for the most progressive attributes. This is definitely a lot mellower overall than “Choice Cuts” as the folk aspects are extended and the rock parts often are dreamy and verging on space rock. The heavier rock is almost completely absent and when it does turn up the tempo a bit, it’s more of a controlled burn rather than a ferocious attack which “Choice Cuts” allowed. Unfortunately this album didn’t sell very well despite once again being praised by the critics. It seems the hideous album cover art scared a lot of potential customers away and admittedly it’s not the most pleasing album cover to look at! In fact it seems totally unfitting for the music that’s inside. Overall another great album from THE MASTERS APPRENTICES who once again steered their band sound into a different arena. Unfortunately this was the end of the road for a while.


Album · 1971 · Heavy Psych
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Australia’s THE MASTERS APPRENTICES won a free boat trip in late 1969 to England and spent a few months free from touring duties and any pressures of releasing the second album as all the material was recorded and ready for release. This gave the band the opportunity to refresh their creative mojo and given that London was ground central for the burgeoning prog and hard rock scenes back around 1970, these Aussies became smitten with the wealth of musical expressions that London offered and spent their time in the UK advancing their art form beyond the cheesy playing catch up garage rock / pop of their first two albums. The results amounted to a massive leap in creativity which finally found the band latching onto its own style and place in the greater music scene.

Totally impressed with the superior recording studios and music scene in general, the band ended up staying in London and soaked in the sounds of everyone from King Crimson, Jimi Hendrix and Small Faces to the psychedelic folk sounds of Donovan and Free. With an arsenal of fresh tracks to work with, the band landed in Abbey Road studios and recorded, mixed and mastered the newest album in only a month and then CHOICE CUTS (released simply as “Masters Apprentices” in the UK) came out in 1971, just a year after the anachronistic predecessor “Masterpiece.” Sounding primarily like a 70s boogie rock style of hard rock, the band still retained a whiff of their earlier psychedelic leanings as well as a mix of folk based songs such as the single “Because I Love You,” which made use of the acoustic guitar in the style of Led Zeppelin. While the band was aiming to strike it big in the UK, the single only charted in its native Australia.

The album opens with the Latin flavored shuffle groove of “Rio de Camero” and then followed by the acoustic ballad “Michael” which showcases THE MASTERS APPRENTICES’ continuation of a variety of styles that range from heavy to soft however this time around the tracks flow together smoothly and the album as a whole feels cohesive. “Easy To Lie” and “Catty” showcase the band’s boogie shuffle abilities with heavy rockin’ guitar riffs and nice leads. Jim Keays vocal style had improved remarkably since the last album and on this album sounded something like a mix of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Free’s Paul Rodgers. Likewise some of the grooves were right out of the Free playbook as well. In fact the band had crafted an interesting sum of influences that went into a style of their own making. Overall the tracks came out extremely melodic with the instrumental interplay lights years beyond the album of a mere year prior.

“Death Of A King” is a tribute to the great Martin Luther King Jr. and the track sounds like an usual mix of the Groundhogs and Zeppelin’s acoustic side with perhaps a touch of Van Morrison. “Song For A Lost Gypsy” goes for a heavy blues rock and funk style with a contrasting falsetto vocal performance. “I’m Your Satisfier” is a fun little boogie number that rock the jew’s harp and all! “Song For Joey - Part II,” wait! Where was part one?!! It’s nothing more than an acoustic outro that ends the album. Despite all the rave reviews from the critics the band really didn’t make much of a splash with CHOICE CUTS most likely due to the glut of fresh prog and harder rock clogging the record stores in 1971 London. Whatever the case the album remained an obscurity until collectors rediscovered it in the 1980s and it became an underground favorite.

It’s really hard to believe that this is the same band that released the outdated “Masterpiece” just one years prior. CHOICE CUTS may not have been the most original sounding album on the scene during 1971 but it did stand out in a few ways. First of all the percussion was more dynamic and varied than most hard rock album as it utilized Latin rhythm styles and likewise the diversity of guitar licks and leads made this a more varied album than the typical blues based hard rock band of the early 70s. While not exactly prog, the influences did creep in with tones and textures and the desire to make the chord progressions a bit more spiced up than usual. Basically a folk-tinged heavy psych album, CHOICE CUTS delivered the goods where previous endeavors had failed. Against all odds, THE MASTERS APPRENTICES had come of age but unfortunately that wasn’t good enough for any kind of breakthrough success. The band would push on for one more album and then call it quits. This is probably their crowning achievement.


Album · 1969 · Heavy Psych
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One of the original power trios that ushered in the hard rock 70s, ANDROMEDA was formed in 1967 by the legendary guitarist John Du Cann best known for his stint with Atomic Rooster. After two years of releasing singles in the psychedelic freakbeat band The Attack, Du Cann shifted gears and wanted to form a band that was both heavier and jumping on the progressive bandwagon. After recruiting his buddy and bassist Mick Hawksworth, later of Fuzzy Duck and Alvin Lee plus drummer Jack McCulloch who would soon be replaced by Ian McLane, ANDROMEDA was born and haunted the London circuit with a new heavier blend of psychedelia and more aggressive rock.

The band was enthusiastically supported by none other than DJ John Peel who was trying to woo them onto his Dandelion Records label however Cann was swayed by the self-producing aspects that RCA promised and the band released its first and only self-titled album in 1969 however RCA didn’t really know what they got themselves into and didn’t have the expertise to market a heavier band as the hard rock proto-metal sound hadn’t become a commercial enterprise at this stage. The lack of promotion and label support ultimately caused Du Cann to accept an offer to join Atomic Rooster leaving ANDROMEDA a thing of the past.

A truly powerful and for the most part heavy album for 1969, ANDROMEDA prognosticated one of the major developments of the psychedelic rock scene in the late 60s and that was the increased heaviness of the rock paradigm. More hard rock than prog, the latter is showcased in the excellent three suite “Return To Sanity” which showcased Du Cann’s more sophisticated songwriting aspects which would win him a slot in Atomic Rooster. The album begins with the heavy rocker “Too Old” which showcased what these days sounds like typical 70s hard rock but this was 1969 before these types of bands existed. ANDROMEDA somewhat served as one of those bridges between the heavy psych of bands like Cream and Blue Cheer and the whole slew of proggy hard rockers such as Captain Beyond, Stray, Groundhogs, T2 and beyond.

The album features plenty between blistering hard rockers with heavy fuzz laden riffing, beefed up bass grooves and a drumming technical prowess that was above the 60s norm. The opening “Too Old” introduces the brave new world of souped up heavy psych but the band also delivered a softer side as heard on the “And Now The Sun Shines” but these tracks are overshadowed by the power surge that amplifies the heavier moments that sound like Jimi Hendrix on methamphetamines. Another highlight is the closing three-part “When To Stop” which pulls out all the bluesy hard rock touches prog style. The album is actually pretty diverse in its approach even though it pretty much sticks to the blues rock paradigm and the exclusive instrumentation of the guitar, bass and drum.

While a flash in the pan as far as bands go, ANDROMEDA nevertheless has been recognized as one of those albums that provided the perfect transition between the heavy psych 60s and the hard rock 70s. Of course Atomic Rooster would take Du Cann even further into prog territory with the inclusion of a prominent keyboardist but ANDROMEDA was well underway into a complete metamorphosis into a prog butterfly. The original vinyl album LP fetches an insane price these days but luckily the album has been reissued many times including a newer remastered version with an extra disc of demos, bonus tracks and all kinds of goodies. All in all, ANDROMEDA delivered a hard rockin’ album that was the perfect way to say goodbye to the psychedelic 60s.

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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