Green's Blog

10 RECORDS

Last week, Alex Pardee and I revealed the first image ever from DIGGING UP THE MARROW when we simultaneously tweeted out the below picture with only the words “The Marrow Is Real”.  A very subtle tease of course, but as we’re still a ways away from being able to share any release plans we gotta hold back for now.  In case you missed it, here’s the very vague still photo that we revealed.  What is in the photo exactly?  Guess you’ll have to wait and see!  It was announced this morning that the world premiere of the film will be happening this August in London as part of FRIGHT FEST… so UK fans, grab your shovels and get ready.  Watch the Film 4 Fright Fest website here for ticketing details.

Chicken

“The Marrow Is Real.”

Seeing as how it’s way too early to spill any more details on DIGGING UP THE MARROW’s release, I’ll get to the point of this blog which is actually not career related and is something I’m writing just for the fun of it for a change.  When your career is also your hobby it’s easy to lose track of the many other things in life that bring you joy.  Especially in this career that is almost always a 24/7 marathon.  Music has always been an exceptionally important component in my life.  I’ve been to anywhere between 300 and 400 concerts, followed some of my favorite bands for well over 30 shows each now, and at one point long ago I was even the singer for a serious band called HADDONFIELD.  And by “serious” I mean we played shows weekly, got paid to do so, and for a fleeting moment it even looked like it could have possibly become an actual career.  So when I get the occasional day or two off for myself like this, I tend to spend it going through my records and just being happy to do so.  I think vinyl still sounds better than any other format save for the band playing in front of you live.  I know that vinyl became kind of “hipster-esque” for a few years but for those of us who have always listened to records and will forever continue to do so, we can’t let that passing fad phase us or turn us off from it.  Much like the “it’s so cool to be a Geek” bandwagon phase that is thankfully on its last legs, you gotta let the tourists have their moment and just wait for them to move on to the next “in” thing that comes along.  It can be annoying when suddenly a whole new group of people claim to love something you’ve loved for your whole life, of course- but you have to remember that it takes nothing away from you personally.  (Well, except when Metallica’s “Black album” hit big and all of a sudden I couldn’t get good seats to shows because half the audience was there just to hear “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters” and somehow had better seats than me, even if they were won from a radio station contest.  Those years were frustrating for sure.)  In fact, I’ve spent hours of my life trying to get people into the things I like.  So the way I see it, if someone suddenly wants to be the world’s biggest fan of something I really am the world’s biggest fan of, great.  Enjoy your brief stay and I’ll still be here to wave the flag when you’ve moved on to the next thing.

While I briefly considered writing a blog about the 10 RECORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE… too many of those are obvious albums that most everyone owns or at least knows extremely well, so where would the the joy be in that?  Instead I thought it would be more fun to dig just slightly deeper and share 10 of my favorite records that may not be so obvious even though many of them are from very well known bands.  Of course my hard rock and metal brethren will likely be very familiar with all of the below, but this is geared more towards those that are not necessarily diehard music fans or who are young enough to have missed these gems entirely and maybe only know these band’s bigger hits.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll seek one or two of these records out for yourself and find a new favorite of your own?  To clarify, this is not a list of my ultimate Top 10 Favorite Records of all time… just 10 favorites from my own personal record collection that maybe aren’t all that well known but that I think are worth your time checking out.  To help make it easier to narrow down, I only picked albums from my record collection.  If I don’t have it on vinyl it couldn’t be in the running.  An honorable mention to all 25 TWISTED SISTER records in my collection including singles, bootlegs, re-issues, re-masters, etc.  By now you likely know of my serendipitous connection and life-long friendship with Dee Snider and his family and that TWISTED SISTER is far more than just a band to me, so while there were plenty of  ”lesser known” TWISTED records on that one shelf alone, I opted to just say “they win” for this blog post and leave it at that.

And this is most definitely one of those times when I’m glad that this blog doesn’t have a comments section as I’m sure there are gonna be some passionate reactions and “WTF?!” exclamations to a few of these picks, but hey… my blog, my record collection, my choices!  Enjoy!

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1.) SKID ROW “Slave To The Grind” 1991

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In 1989 SKID ROW’s debut self-titled album was an instant hit selling over 5 million records almost overnight.  Songs like “Youth Gone Wild”, “I Remember You”, and “18 & Life” monopolized MTV and were on the radio constantly.  I was 14 years old when I got that tape (I wouldn’t re-purchase it on both CD and vinyl until a few years later) and I played the shit out of it. But it was 1991′s “Slave To The Grind” where SKID ROW showed that they were so much more than just another glam rock band and let their metal side truly start to show.  While “Slave To The Grind” debuted at #1 and boasted successful singles like “Monkey Business” and “Wasted Time”, the record showcased a much heavier band than what many glam rockers probably expected.  For me personally, by the time I was 16 I was more into thrash and speed metal and slightly less into the fun glam rock I had been raised on, so this record came at the perfect time.  I wasn’t looking for another “I Remember You” by that point, so songs like “Livin’ On A Chain Gang”, “The Threat”, “Quicksand Jesus”, and the title track “Slave To The Grind” were a hugely welcome surprise.  Sebastian Bach’s voice is nothing less than godly and even tracks that could be incorrectly considered power ballads like “In A Darkened Room” and “Wasted Time” put the other bands of their era to shame.  I remember being so excited to get the version of the album that had “Get The Fuck Out” on it (the song was replaced by “Begger’s Day” after the initial run) but as nasty as the lyrics were and as much as my 16 year old self loved any song with the word “Fuck” used in it that many times… I have to admit that “Begger’s Day” is actually the better song.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that “Slave To The Grind” just might be one of the greatest sophomore efforts ever recorded by a band.  So if all you know of the Skids is “I Remember You” and “18 & Life”… give this record a spin and think again.  Now that I’ve actually lived through some shit, some of the songs hit unbelievably harder than they did 2 decades ago.

“You said, you’d never let me down, but the horse stampedes and rages in the name of desperation. Is it all just wasted time? Can you look at yourself when you think of what you left behind? Is it all just wasted time? Can you live with yourself when you think of what you’ve left behind?  I never thought you’d let it get this far, boy…”

2.) WHITE TRASH “White Trash” 1991

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Not just because I wanted to add a “happy” record or two to this overwhelmingly dark list but because this record truly is fucking awesome and has been in constant rotation for me since it came out.  In full disclosure, I actually like their sophomore record “Si O Si, Que?” even more but I have never been able to find it on vinyl so it couldn’t qualify for this list.  WHITE TRASH had a video for the single “Apple Pie” (Side A, Track 1) that some of you may remember MTV playing constantly for about 11 days back in ’91.  (To my younger readers, MTV actually stands for “Music Television” and they used to play nothing but music videos, I swear.) Their song “The Crawl” (Side B, Track 1) was also the theme song for MTV’s “THE JON STEWART SHOW” way back from before the world realized that Jon Stewart is actually wicked smart and stuff.  WHITE TRASH’s blend of funk, soul, and rock is an audio party for your soul and you’d have to be the biggest sour dick in the world to not smile huge while listening to it.  In fact, I almost feel like I should have listed this album last just in case any of you actually listen to all of these records in the order I’ve listed them and wind up in a week long depression because of it.  While “Apple Pie” may be the only song that these guys were barely known for, it’s the deeper cuts like “Party Line”, “Lil’ Nancy”, and “Buzz!” that best showed off this band’s unique style and it’s the (sorta) self-titled “Po’ White Trash” that is the true hit off of this record in my opinion.  Try it out some time and lighten up your day.

“Don’t you know I’m so bad right now, Po’ white trash, Motherfucka who d’ya think you are?, Po’white trash, Said I got to know, baby got to show, Po’ white trash, Mmm you smell so fuckin’ good, honey, Po’ white trash…”

3.) MEGADETH “So Far, So Good… So What!” 1988

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It always pains me when music historians or even members of MEGADETH themselves dismiss this record as one of their weaker efforts.  Is it as seminal an album to the thrash movement or for the band’s legacy as 1986′s “Peace Sells…But Who’s Buying?” or 1990′s “Rust In Peace”?  No.  But goddamn do I love it so.  While songs like “Set The World Afire” and “Mary Jane” have remained two of my most favorite MEGADETH songs since I first ever heard them, it’s “In My Darkest Hour” (Side B, Track 2) that I have found myself leaning on like an old friend at several of life’s lowest moments.  This song is scarily the most angry, sad, and heart broken suicide anthem ever recorded in my opinion. In fact, the song is so powerful and directly to the point that I actually considered not even pointing it out as I fear that somewhere out there a severely depressed and unfortunately impressionable young boy or girl will discover it because of me and interpret it completely the wrong way.  There’s always that one unstable person who doesn’t understand that a song is to be taken as an outpouring of emotion and an expression to be connected with rather than literal lyrics to be used for creating bad ideas in their own heads.  Much like the warnings that come on alcohol labels, “In My Darkest Hour” is to be used and listened to responsibly.  We’ve all been there, we’ve all had love completely crush our souls, and we’ve all felt indescribable despair and anger.  Thankfully there are albums and songs like this that I have been able to bang my head to, thrash out to, and sing/scream along with until the dark clouds would pass.  Because after all… the dark clouds always do pass.  Since I was only 13 years old this record has helped me get through some pretty heartbroken times.  Maybe someday it will help you, too.

“Time has a way of taking time, loneliness is not only felt by fools.  Alone I call to ease the pain, yearning to be held by you, alone so alone I’m lost, consumed by the pain… the pain, the pain, the pain… Won’t you hold me again?  You just laughed – ha, ha, bitch.  My whole life is work built on the past, but the time has come when all things shall pass, this good thing passed away.”

4.) LOVE/HATE “Blackout In The Red Room” 1991

 

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It’s almost criminal that LOVE/HATE’s debut record “Blackout in the Red Room” didn’t come out until the Sunset Strip era’s of glam rock was already on its last legs as this band was poised to be huge and was by far one of the best of their kind.  Way more (let’s say) GUNS N ROSES than (let’s say) POSION, I don’t even feel comfortable lumping them in with glam rock and would prefer to just call them a “rock band”, but they were marketed by Columbia as a hair metal band and that’s how they’ll always be remembered, like it or not.   I was fortunate enough to see LOVE/HATE a number of times when they reunited in 2007 and did shows periodically in the LA area for 6 years before officially disbanding once again in 2013.  (Even sadder, they kinda broke up with each other publicly on Facebook which was disheartening to watch happen, but that’s the world we live in now.)  While singer Jizzy Pearl possessed an Axl Rose vocal style and elicited the stage presence and swagger of a reincarnated Jim Morrison and though guitarist Jon Love was so massively talented that he singlehandedly made the band sound as if they had 3 guitar players on the stage at all times, it was LOVE/HATE’s bass player and main song writer Skid who was always the one to watch.  Save for perhaps Flea, I’ve never seen a bass player command an audience with such unbridled energy and glorious weirdness.  In fact, every time I was fortunate enough to get the chance to see LOVE/HATE play, I always made sure to get to the venue early and stake out the area in front of the far left side of the stage just so that I could have the best possible view of Skid who was indeed “the show”.   Skid even painted the artwork for the band’s album covers.  But this isn’t a dissertation on LOVE/HATE (believe me I could write a short novel about the merits of this astoundingly amazing group who often holds the ever rotating #5 position in my top 5 of all time alongside mainstays AEROSMITH, METALLICA, TWISTED SISTER, and GUNS N ROSES), it’s just supposed to be some words about their debut album “Blackout In The Red Room.”  While I easily could have put their second record “Wasted In America” on this list instead of “Blackout” (they’re completely equal to me), I chose to go with the first record simply because I’ve owned it for 2 years longer.  I first got this album on cassette tape (as was the way back then), but upon buying my very first CD player I opted to re-purchase “Blackout In The Red Room” as my first ever CD rather than buying something new.  That’s how much I love this album.  While every song on it is a hit for me, “She’s An Angel”, “Mary Jane”, and “Straightjacket” (the first three tracks on Side B) are my go-to’s whenever introducing someone new to LOVE/HATE.  It’s raw, silly, dark, fun, dirty, dangerous and everything else you would hope for in a rock album.  Whatever you do, don’t opt for their “Greatest & Latest” compilation that’s available on iTunes if you want to seek this band out.  The songs on that release seem to have all been re-recorded many, many years later (something we’re sadly seeing many older bands do these days in order to reclaim their work back from their original record label) and they’re just not the same.  Get the original records.  I promise that if you’re a hard rock fan you’ll love it instantly.  Happy listening and …green buds inside you.

“Mommy takes the strings off your bass so you won’t hang yourself, Could things be so bad when you’re loving life with everything you have…”

5.) ALICE IN CHAINS “Jar of Flies” 1994

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ALICE IN CHAINS is a household band name to any music fan, and while I’ll never argue over the sheer greatness of records like “Dirt” or “Facelift” and the more radio friendly singles that they offered, for me this band has always been defined by their second acoustic driven EP “Jar of Flies” which is just perfect from start to finish.  I’m often surprised how many people never actually bought it as they didn’t consider it an official album being that it was only an “EP” and because it was acoustic based and therefore not really ALICE IN CHAINS in their opinion.  Sacrilege!  I remember sitting in my college dorm room and listening to it on headphones for the first time and being swept away within the first few chords of the haunting opening track “Rotten Apple”, teary eyed upon hearing the sadness of the second track “Nutshell”, soaring high over the beautiful third track “I Stay Away” and out of my own body by the time the sixth track “Don’t Follow” concluded.  (And no, I wasn’t on drugs.)  You can only imagine my excitement when I finally got my hands on the double vinyl record of “Jar of Flies” and “Sap” (their first acoustic based EP) just last year.  For me, this record is kind of like a stripped down and modernized “Dark Side Of The Moon” for ALICE IN CHAINS. If you don’t already own it, shame on you.  If you do but have just never heard it on vinyl… get it and hear it again for the first time.  There is more soul in this collection of songs than most of the 90′s alternative/grunge movement put together and this record really is ALICE IN CHAINS (and the late Layne Staley, especially) at their peak.  Pay attention to the gorgeous harmonies between Staley and guitarist Jerry Cantrell who sing together like a modern day Simon and Garfunkel.

“Yeah it’s fine, We’ll walk down the line, Leave our rain, A cold trade for warm sunshine, You my friend, I will defend, And if we change well I’ll love you anyway…”

6.) DANGEROUS TOYS “Dangerous Toys” 1989

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I originally bought this album on cassette tape simply off of the amazing artwork on the album cover created by artist Tommy Pons.  Terrifying clown?  Sign me up immediately.  My local record store (Strawberries) even had this really cool Jack-in-the-box display holding the cassette tape at the check-out counter.  I went back in numerous times to ask if they would sell it to me but they claimed that very few of them were made, that they were not for sale, and that employees at each store had already claimed them long before they were ever displayed.  I was always on the look out for that display- my own personal “holy grail of DANGEROUS TOYS stuff” – and decades went by with no luck.  Then, right after filming Season 1 of HOLLISTON, one of our camera operators on the show (Brian Sowell) emailed me an eBay link for the coveted Jack-in-the-box display!  I jumped on the very rare and very expensive item and I’m happy to say it is now proudly collecting precious dust on its very own shelf of my record collection.  I’ve had an (almost) lifelong love affair with DANGEROUS TOYS ever since I first heard their debut album.  They were my first concert (Boston’s Orpheum Theater playing with TORA TORA and LA GUNS – November 17, 1989) and in 1999 when they released the live album “Vitamins and Crash Helmets Tour” you can’t even imagine how floored I was to discover that the exact show that I saw was the one they chose to use for the album.  How cool is that??  To own your first concert experience ever on an officially released CD?!  What were the chances?  Just over a month ago TOYS’ lead singer Jason McMaster started following me on Twitter and yes, I was kinda star struck and bragging to my friends who sadly just couldn’t understand my excitement as they didn’t know the band.  (Their loss!)  I actually love this band so much that I’m flying in to San Antonio, TX for just a matter of hours in order to see an upcoming reunion show later this month.  Who knows, maybe there will be TOYS fans from even further away than Los Angeles flying to Texas just to see the show and then flying home again first thing the next morning, but I’d wage a healthy bet that I’m alone in my musical pilgrimage.  Getting to the point, DANGEROUS TOYS debut album has been a mainstay on my turn table for my entire adult life so far.  Their Texas southern flare, their often times hilarious lyrics, McMaster’s wailing and powerful voice, the shredding dueling lead guitars… hell they even have a song called “Scared” (Side A, Track 2) that’s dedicated to ALICE COOPER.  What’s for an 80′s teenage horror and metal fan not to love about this record?  They had two sorta hits with the album’s openers “Teas’n Pleas’n” and “Scared” plus a deeper cut called “Sport’n A Woody” which kicked off Side B and gained some fame among metal fans because… well because it’s a song about having an erection.  That’s “cock-rock” in its most literal sense, no?  In 8th grade some friends and I did a DANGEROUS TOYS lip sync performance to “Take Me Drunk” as part of my school’s talent show and I offended a lot of parents when I reached into my pants and gyrated a bit more sexually than a 13 year old should have been gyrating with his hand down his pants in a school talent show.  Little did I know then that this event was a sign of things to come for me and I’d eventually wind up getting crucified by a much more powerful group of parents (known as the MPAA) for the first two HATCHET films.  Hey, simulate masturbation by grabbing hold of your thirteen-year-old junk in front of the entire school or put a scene in a movie where a girl gets her face belt sanded off and all of a sudden everyone hates you.  What gives, man?  Anyway, this record is great fun and great music no matter what anyone else may try and tell you.  Horror fans probably know TOYS’ song “Demon Bell” from Wes Craven’s SHOCKER soundtrack (see my #7 record choice below).  If this record hooks you I implore you to pick up the rest of their albums, too.  There’s a song called “Angel N U” on their sophomore record “Hellacious Acres” that is this band at their musical best, but start with the original record.

“Momma’s lace and whisky on the top shelf, Somehow they got caught up in my dream, Monsters on my right and cobwebs on my left, Scary man standin’ right in front of me, Hey man I think I like being scared and I wish you all were there…”

7.) SHOCKER “The Music” 1989

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Wes Craven’s SHOCKER boasted one of the greatest heavy metal soundtracks of all time.  Here’s a “shocker” for you… I only saw the movie opening day because there was a DANGEROUS TOYS song in it.  The soundtrack had been released earlier than the movie itself and when I saw the list of bands on it (all contributing new songs) I knew this movie was destined to be one of my favorites.  I’m happy to say that it still is to this very day.  Think I’m kidding?  Throw on the movie one day and listen to the full-length fan commentary track that Joe Lynch and I did for it on The Movie Crypt podcast here.  SHOCKER’s soundtrack had songs from DANGEROUS TOYS, ALICE COOPER, MEGADETH (covering ALICE COOPER), IGGY POP, and a “created for the movie soundtrack band” called THE DUDES OF WRATH featuring Paul Stanley (KISS), Tommy Lee (MOTLEY CRUE), Rudy Sarzo (WHITESNAKE), Michael Anthony (VAN HALEN), Vivian Campbell (DEF LEPPARD) and Desmond Child (the guy that wrote every song that was ever a hit for almost every band – seriously, look him up sometime) aptly titled “Shocker”.  The soundtrack also contains great tracks from lesser known bands like BONFIRE and SARAYA who’s song “Timeless Love” is essentially the theme of the movie as Craven used the melody often throughout the film itself.  The ALICE COOPER / MITCH PILEGGI (“Horace Pinker”) rap/rock duet called “Shockdance” is simultaneously both the highlight and the lowest moment of the soundtrack, which is all the more reason to love it.  Whether you’re a fan of the movie or not, one spin of this record and hopefully you’ll see/hear what so many of us who were teenagers at the time of its release love about it.

“I was born without a soul inside so I’m gonna tear out your heart and try it on for size, You gotta have a soul to get to go to hell, that’s where I wanna go to ring the demon bell…”

8.) TOOL “Aenima” 1996

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I know, I know.  How could this album even remotely be considered for this list when it’s easily one of TOOL’s best known and most popular releases?  “Real deep cut, Green.”  But hear me out first. This list is about records and not CDs, MP3′s, or what have you… and listening to “Aenima” on vinyl is like hearing a whole different album and (screw it, I’m gonna be overdramatic and say it) an otherworldly experience of the most grandiose proportions.  I’ve always agreed with the philosophy that there are genres of music… and then there is TOOL.  More passive music fans likely know the album’s singles like “Stinkfist”, “Eulogy”, and “Forty Six & 2″ but it’s the record’s title track “Aenima” that is the most powerful and terrifying for me personally.   When I first got this record I was still living in Boston and had not yet moved to Los Angeles so Maynard’s lyrics skewering LA and a very large sector of its citizens didn’t really hit home like they so very much do today.  In the song he literally wishes for a final earthquake to flush it all away and what is so scary to me on a personal level now having lived here for 14 years is that even though I fear “the big one” ever hitting… deep down I can’t help but see Maynard’s point.  Seeing TOOL play live here in LA and singing along to “Aenima” you can’t help but be emotionally conflicted and that to me is something quite rare in music.  I could go on and on about this record but as it’s already so popular there isn’t much I can offer that you don’t already know except to say that no matter how well you may think you know this album, once you hear it on vinyl you’ll appreciate every sound on it even more.  The record itself is not all that easy to find and it can be on the expensive side if you do track it down, but if you’re a collector and a fan I’m telling you it’s worth it.  The mastering is just perfect and the fact that the two records in the set come pressed on bright orange vinyl with no track listing (in typical TOOL fashion) makes it fun to listen to as you almost have to listen to the whole thing each time since there is no simple way to find the track you’re looking for at a glance.  Oh, and if you’ve never seen the YouTube video of the young music students covering “Forty Six & 2″, well, prepare to have your minds blown here just like over 6 million others have to date.

“Fuck L Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones, Fuck all these gun-toting hip gangster wannabes.  (Learn to swim.)  Fuck retro anything, Fuck your tattoos. Fuck all you junkies and fuck your short memories.  (Learn to swim.)  Fuck smiley glad-hands with hidden agendas,  Fuck these dysfunctional insecure actresses.  ’Cause I’m praying for rain, I’m praying for tidal waves.  I wanna see the ground give way.  I wanna watch it all go down.  Mom, please flush it all away.  I wanna watch it go right in and down.  I wanna watch it go right in.  Watch you flush it all away…”

9.) AEROSMITH “Honkin On Bobo” 2004

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Yet another household name band, but an album that sadly isn’t as popular with the masses as it deserves to be.  Containing 11 covers of mostly 1960′s blues and jazz bands and only 1 new original song (“The Grind” Side B, Track 2), “Honkin’ On Bobo” is the band’s tribute to many of the artists and styles that inspired them.  And it absolutely rules.  I’ve seen AEROSMITH 32 times (with shows #33 and #34 coming up in just a few weeks) which puts them just above METALLICA to win the title of “band I’ve seen the most”.  My cats (who turn 11 years old this month) are named “Tyler” and “Perry” and if you listen to The Movie Crypt podcast than you’ve likely heard about the life changing afternoon I spent with Steven Tyler this past April when he put things into much clearer perspective for me with the simple word “congratulations” and taught me how all levels of success contain the same exact struggles and copious amounts of bullshit… “So it’s all alright, man.  It’s aaaaall-right.” There is no greater or more unique voice in rock n roll, period.  (Think I’m exaggerating and just fan-boying out?  Watch this and then try and tell me that Steven Tyler isn’t the greatest of all time.)  ”The bad boys from Boston” seem to have made a deal with the devil himself as even pushing 200 years old (or whatever age they’re at these days) they only get better and better live, something no other band with a 40+ year career can boast with any sort of truth. To call me a “fan” would be a vast understatement and I drop everything and arrange my life around their tour schedules as I fear the day that they bid farewell to the stage for good.  ”Honkin’ On Bobo” contains the spectacles (yeah, that’s right, I just called some of these songs spectacles) “Never Loved A Girl” (Side A, Track 5) and “Eyesight To The Blind” (Side A, Track 3) that leave you feeling like nothing less than a standing ovation is in order when they are finished.  You won’t find any Top 10 hits or power ballads on this record, just a pure celebration of the rock, the blues, and the jazz that inspired “America’s Greatest Rock N Roll Band”.  Buy this record.  Buy all of them.  And do yourself a favor and see them live.  God forbid they hang up their instruments anytime soon, you’ll regret it forever if you don’t attend the Church of Tyler at least once in your lifetime.

“I was hangin’ with the Devil when we made a pact, I’m drinkin’ welfare whiskey smokin’ food stamp crack.  It was one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong and four parts weak.
I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself than to be crowded on a velvet cushion…”

10.) GUNS N’ ROSES “Chinese Democracy” 2008

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Aaaand this is where I lose about 80% of you which is why I figured I’d put it last.  I have very few friends who I can even say the words “chinese democracy” to without them getting angry at me and going off on the usual tirade that “GUNS N ROSES is not GUNS N ROSES anymore but just Axl and a cover band”.  Well, maybe it’s the “fan for life” gene in me (when I commit to something I commit) but I like everything that each member of the original GNR has gone on to do since the original line-up so tragically imploded in the early 90′s.  I’m a huge Slash fan, a Duff fan, an Izzy fan, I saw Adler’s Appetite play many years ago and enjoyed the hell out of them, I loved Velvet Revolver, and yes… I am and always have been an Axl Rose fan, too.  I’ve read the same books, read the same interviews, and heard the same stories and rumors you have.  I’ve seen the Youtube videos of his not-so-finer moments getting pissed off on stage… but truth be told, I don’t know him personally and I’m not interested in any of that.  I’m talking about a record.  The music.  As over-produced as “Chinese Democracy” may sound at times, the songs themselves and the musicianship is incredible in my opinion.  Perhaps you never knew or cared, but one of Axl’s single biggest influences as an artist is Elton John.  Maybe I’ll lose the other 20% of you with this statement (especially in a blog hailing bands like DANGEROUS TOYS and MEGADETH), but yes, I too love Elton John’s music.  Tracks like “Street of Dreams” (my favorite song on the record, Side A, Track 4), “Madagascar” (Side D, Track 1), and “This I Love” (Side D, Track 2) exude Elton John and this record sounds and feels like the record that Axl always wanted to make.  Is “Chinese Democracy” another “Appetite For Destruction”?  Of course not.  But that kind of lightning in a bottle will never happen again and I don’t believe that Axl ever intended for this record to be the next “Appetite”.  In fact, it always struck me as his evolution into a new phase.  (Even if it took like 40 years and 15 million dollars to get there.)  This record was a whole new thing for Axl and he just so happens to control the rights to the band name, so deal with it.  If it helps, create your own album cover and call it “Axl Rose” instead and then give it another chance under new pretenses.  Some of the bands I most respect have evolved and changed up their musical direction over the years (MINISTRY, METALLICA, etc) and for me personally, I like that a lot even if at first I don’t always love the latest risk they may be taking.  I don’t need the same album over and over again.  I already have the other one, so give me something different with the next.  For me “Chinese Democracy” is a great album.  Having seen the “new” GUNS N ROSES twice now I can also say that they are phenomenal live.  The show I saw in June in Las Vegas was the best of all of the times I’ve seen “GNR” perform since 1991.  A 3 hour long set featuring everything you could possibly want to hear, old and new, played with note for note perfection.  Axl’s voice was better than I had ever heard it before and best of all… he looked happy.  Really genuinely happy.  And me?  I really like seeing Axl happy.  It can’t be easy being him or dealing with being under the microscope that comes with being a rock star of that magnitude. I applaud “Chinese Democracy” for being a new step (albeit a long step to finally take) and I listen to it often.  Of course I’d love to see a reunion with the original band as much as the next guy as that’s the GUNS N ROSES I grew up with.  But give the current line-up(s) credit where credit is due.  They had nothing to do with the break up of the original line-up and at this point some of them have actually been in “GNR” longer than the founding members were.  So like I said at the beginning, take it or leave it.  But I hope you give this record a fair chance and take it for the great album it is as opposed to the old album you hoped it would be again.

“What this means to me is more than I know you believe.  What I thought of you now has cost more than it should for me.  What I thought was true before were lies I couldn’t see.  What I thought was beautiful is only memories…”

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So there you go.  10 records from my collection to consider adding to your own.  Writing this blog entry was a fun and much needed break so I hope you enjoyed at least some of it as much as I did.  Stay tuned for news about DIGGING UP THE MARROW’s release and of course… the future of HOLLISTON.  The more time that goes by, the more the family begins to heal over the loss of our brother Dave Brockie.  I’ve got a movie to go make at the moment, but just know… we’re starting to pick ourselves up and we’re starting to… you know… talk.  Your patience means the world, so don’t stop believing that we will return to the stage again.  And I mean that most sincerely.

Until next time, “You’ve been great, we’ve been… a wicked long blog about the most random records ever!  GOODNIGHT!”

-AG