Monday, July 7, 2008

Born Again!

DEAD HOOKERS – “The Burial, The Rebirth” CD ’07 (Dead Beat, US) – My kids tell me I’m getting old since I hit the big 5-oh. You know, I work all Saturday morning building a barn in the backyard. I make 7 trips to Home Depot for lumber after lunch and stick up a split-level deck. Then I barbecue 50 steaks, invite over the whole neighborhood by 6:00 PM and mention under my breath that my back’s a little stiff. “Dang, Dad, you’re getting old!” And so, it seems, my memory’s going as well. Seems several months back Dead Beat Records was good enough to send me a whole packet of discs. I did the obvious: listened to ‘em, took meticulous notes and then…put ‘em in the wrong pile and forgot to review ‘em. Dang! Which brings us to DEAD HOOKERS. No, a serial killer’s not loose on The Block, this is a band and quite a racket do they make, child. Truly, a “racket” may be your first impression. See, while DH add a stong shot of psychedelia to their pharmacy of ‘60’s garage pop, they definitely don’t blend it like an apothecary. Rather, they lay one over top the other in such a way that at first it’s like your old elementary school teacher flopping one transparency over another on the overhead projector. Complete gibberish at first until slowly as one track melts into another, melodies & hooks begin to claw their way through the din and etch themselves into your mind. Like something I’d play loud as hell while shooing the last of those pesky neighbors off the new deck and thinking “This was sure as hell one of the best records of 2007.” (In fact, had I this hit my player before my Top 10 came out, well…just buy this, ok?) 9.5

JUDAS PRIEST – “Nostradamus” 2CD (Epic, Eng) – There are some people I have never been able to understand and, in all likelihood never will. One such segment of our society are the contingent who think JUDAS PRIEST albums like “British Steel” and “Killing Machine” (aka “Hell Bent For Leather”) are better than “Stained Class” or “Sad Wings Of Destiny.” They feel that the band was sort of stumbling around for the first 4 albums and finally got things sorted out after that. See, to me, that’s sort of akin to saying “Well, the 49er’s were kind of a mess with Montana & Young, but damn if they didn’t get their shit together when they ran Elvis Grbac out on the field!” Now, with that backdrop, we come to “Nostradamus.” After all the talk, all the hype, all the trepidations, it’s finally here. Let’s get down to business, as I think most people have their opinions on this album already and more than likely I’m not going to change those polarizing trains of thought. Is this “Stained Class, Pt. II?” To be honest, no. But then again, neither was “Stained Class” going to be “Rocka Rolla Pt. IV.” Here’s what I like, really love about this album. A metal band who’s been around for 30+ years has basically said “Fuck you” to fashion, “Fuck off” to trends and “Screw you” to what a heavy metal record in 2008 is “supposed” to sound like. They’ve said, instead, “We’re doing a concept album, we’re doing 7 and 8 minute songs if we want t and what’s more, we’re putting all kinds of acoustic intros keyboards, interludes, etc. To top that all off, we’re releasing the thing in a hardbound book with a font that looks like something out of the Bible. And, then, guess what? As an added little goodie, we’re going to include one of the heaviest fucking songs we’ve ever done, call it “Death” and several minutes later put on a number melodic enough to rival “Before The Dawn.” So, was this threat a promise? Did they actually do what they said. Yup. It’s long, it’s overblown, it’s high-handed, stilted. It has mostly slow-to-mid-paced songs and it’s one helluva lot to take in at any one time. Halford’s vocals are high, they’re low, they’re all over the place, there’s actually more to them than there’s been since the old days and Glenn & KK augment their more recent sweep-picking antics with some truly bluesy moments. (See “Death” & “The Future Of Mankind”). The truth of the matter is again, no this is not “Stained Class” nor should it be. The truth of the matter is, it’s also not “British Steel” and for the first time since 1978 (yes, including “Angel Of Retribution”) I feel a certain singular delight with a JUDAS PRIEST record. ‘Nuff said. 9.5

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