Key To Music Grades

A - You will never be whole without it
B - Highly recommended
C - Flawed, but still pretty good
D - It's your money, not mine
F - Why couldn't this have been burned in Fahrenheit 451?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Free - Fire And Water (1970)

I never really understood why a supremely excellent band such as Free never quite made it, whereas a more commercial sounding band (on the whole) such as Bad Company became huge. Oh wait, I just answered my own question. That still being said, I prefer Rodgers' soulful gravelly voice and Kossoff's stately understated guitar any day.

First things first, "All Right Now" is the only reason these fellows were truly noticed, and that's a shame, because not only is it not representative of the Free sound, but it's not even the best song on the album. That accolade, in my heretofore unembellished opinion of such things, would go to the title track, but the beautiful "Oh I Wept" or the piano-laden "Heavy Load" or even "Remember" might be your thing. You know, most of popular music nowadays is so devoid of soul that it's so fucking refreshing to hear it here in its bare, unapologetic entirety. Guitar aficionados may not name Kossoff in the top 50 guitarists ever (hell, even I didn't ), but his quietly grand sense of playing is no more apparent than on this record; and Rodgers, for his part, may not have turned in better performances than he does here. It's a damn fine album, and shame on you if "All Right Now" is all you've ever heard. Atone for your sins! You can make it up to me by declaring a greater love for Free and a lesser love for Bad Company in the comments section; only then will I forgive you. B+

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Machine Head - The Blackening (2007)

Having been considerably absent for some time -- my sincerest apologies, sack of soiled diapers and anything else to alleviate the ponderous lack you must certainly be feeling -- I have decided to begin on a good note and shall fiddle my furor for another day, because believe me, it's so there. And with that, let me tell you, as a purveyor of all things metal, this is an album you need to sink your zoobies into. (I'm tawkin' to youz to you, Master Cianan.) Even if you're not into metal, and you'd like to sample something one day, this wouldn't be your worst candidate.

The albums opens with "Clenching The Fists Of Dissent" -- a ten-minute anthem against our leaders of yesteryear who likened anyone who didn't support their ideas as unpatriotic. What a fucking doozy of a song. When I saw them a few years ago, it was the best opener to start with as well. I love the acoustic intro and the somber ramping up of the massive riffage and delicious solos. Yum yum yum. "Aesthetics Of Hate" was a song written for the murdered Dimebag Darrell after some conservative cockateel declared all metalheads to be mindless dirtbag barbarians and ergo Dime deserved to be murdered for inspiring such shithead followers. I'm careening for lack of practice, excuse my politics. Basically, this album is like a happy completion of your nifty little musical checklist of sorts. Riffage: check. Attitude: check. Solos: OMFG check. "Halo" is the purest example of this. Best song on the album and possibly best song by these guys, period. The solo feels like a modernized medley of "Freebird" and "Green Grass And High Tides" with vintage thrash for good measure. The notes, even among the heaviest riffs, can be described as not so much clean as distinct. I'm pretty much at loss for this one. It's a proggy thrash album with melodies and anthems and gorgeously brutal solos and actually contains meaningful lyrics. Among any genre, that's not as commonplace as you think. So, what in the cannoli are you still reading this for? Welcome back me! A-