Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review- Soundgarden/ King Animal and more

Soundgarden/ King Animal (Universal Republic, 2012)
Like dinosaurs clawing their way out of a tar pit, Soundgarden don't sound like a day has passed since their 1997 breakup. Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin are still their main reference points, and god bless them for it. While Chris Cornell did Audioslave and his hit or miss solo career and Matt Cameron pounded the skins for Pearl Jam, one has to wonder what Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd have been up to in the time between the booming economy of the Clinton administration and the economic collapse of the United States.
By Crooked Steps has the godlike off time signature that sucked me into the band with Badmotorfinger. Cornell can still scream his ass off. Soundgarden could slug it out with Metal bands, but were always far too melodic too ever be considered Metal. Soundgarden always progressed slowly from album to album, and old fans of the band will not feel lost if they pick this album up. Indeed, it will feel closer to an old friend calling you up and wanting to pound a few beers outside in the cold in your garage.
Taree has a slightly different feeling. It is slower, moodier, and has tempo changes in the song. Attrition is another I dig on. Music has moved on since the band's heyday, and they jam like they are gloriously oblivious to it. Halfway There sounds like it could've been on Cornell's Carry On solo album. Eyelid's Mouth is one of those glorious sludgy stompers that made the band a household name way back when.
This album is just full of great songs. I always felt like this band was one of those unfinished things, as they broke up abruptly and near the peak of their popularity. I scored tickets for the pre-sale for the Detroit show in January of 2013 and can't wait. I haven't seen them live since the November 1996 date at The Palace, and never saw Cornell solo or with Audioslave, even though I bought all of the albums when they came out. Needless to say, I'm thrilled with the new album and to have Soundgarden coming back to Detroit.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
P.S. I bought the standard consumer edition. If they had included Live To Rise off The Avengers soundtrack then they could've sucked me in for the extra $7 deluxe edition with the five bonus demo tracks. Oh, and I miss jewel cases. 
Neil Young With Crazy Horse/ Psychedelic Pill (Reprise, 2012)
Neil Young misses the past, but what else is new? Furthermore, who can blame him? He remembers a world where power was more equally balanced, where there was more of a sense of honor among the thieves robbing us all. This frustration is apparent in the lyrics and the raw nature of the songs on this album. The band just goes off on long jamming tangents. Feedback drenched solos, songs that go on too long or not long enough, Psychedelic Pill is either Crazy Horse's fullest expression or overkill. Songs clock in as long as 27 minutes on this album. There are 8 songs (plus an alternate mix of the title track as a bonus) over 2 CDs.
Ramada Inn and Walk Like A Giant are my favorite on the album. In the past, a label might have sliced these songs down to a more radio friendly length. In 2012, what's the point? I'm one of the few people left who actually buys music, let alone physical media. I say don't fault Neil Young for the over the top nature of this album. Instead, enjoy his breakneck pace of releases in his twilight years. We are living in the twilight of the gods, folks, and in a few more years all of these great stalwarts will be but a fond memory.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5. 
Dio/ The Very Beast of Dio Vol. 2 (Niji, 2012)
Another title for this compilation could be The Rest of Dio, as it covers Dio's less illustrious era. This covers the era of albums from 1996-2004, comprised of four studio albums and one live album. (Angry Machines, Inferno- The Last In Live, Magica, Killing The Dragon, and Master of the Moon.) While those albums all have their moments, especially Killing the Dragon, none were commercially successful or made any impact outside of Dio's diminished fanbase.
The three bonus tracks are what sucked me in: Electra, from the Tournado box set and the never finished Magica II & III; Metal Will Never Die, a collaboration with David “Rock” Feinstein from his Bitten By the Beast album; and finally, The Prisoner of Paradise, the bonus track from the Japanese edition of his 2004 album Master of the Moon. Why Wendy Dio and Dio's estate omitted God Hates Heavy Metal, the bonus track from the Japanese version of Angry Machines, is beyond me. It's a great song. There was also an instrumental bonus track on the Japanese pressing of Magica that is absent.
I normally pass on compilations since I have all of the studio albums, but the three bonus tracks got my money. I'm hoping to see more complete offerings from the Dio estate in the future. I'd like to see Ronnie Dio and the Prophets, more unreleased Elf, and those 2 disc expanded reissues of the first three Dio solo albums that Europe got issued over here.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 3.5 out of 5. 
Wreck-It Ralph (Disney, 2012)
The hatchlings wanted to see this, and I was off for the Veteran's Day holiday yesterday with both kids. My wife was at work and it was pouring rain all day long, so we caught a matinee showing. This movie seems aimed more at parents than kids, although my kids both loved it. The rampant 1980s video game references went right over their heads, but I got most of them. Qbert? Yeah, like my kids know who the f**k that is.
There's some product placement here, which I have been decrying since the '90s. I pay admission, please don't put ads in movies. I thoroughly enjoyed the Sugar Rush video game world. It was like Candyland on acid. CGI animation is really something, man. If you can imagine it, they can do it. There was a scene or two where my 3 year old daughter wanted me to hold her because they were “scary”, but by and large it's pretty safe for kids. My almost six year old son loved it. I enjoyed it well enough, too.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5. 

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