"Album Reviews"

Sponsored In Part By

Try Me?


(RCA Records)

Everyone recognizes the sound of this throaty singer. This album is a collection of the many things that she recorded that haven't been passed down through the years. You can hear the same mournful sound but the body just wasn't there to make them hits when first released. Now any fan ought to have this one in their collection.

- Rebecca Szilvagyi


(RCA Records)

When I got this disc I thought I had never heard anything by Bobby Bare, but I was wrong. I remember standing 'round a piano singing "Four Strong Winds" with my mother and sister as a child. Bare's haunting storyboard lyrics have a timeless quality that challenges the listener to think about the lesson.

- Rebecca Szilvagyi


(Ichiban Records)

Francine Reed is one of the premier female singers on the blues/R&B circuit these days. A cross between Denise LaSalle and Etta James, Francine's sassy soul and funky blues will cause any blues lover to shake (or sway) their moneymaker 'til it's worn out! A plethora of musicians helps out on this CD (including a duet with Delbert McClinton on "You Bug Me" and the Muscle Shoals Horns throughout). CAN'T MAKE IT ON MY OWN proves she can!

- Felicia J. Funky


(Superkool Records)

Lapis Lazuli is a hard driving alternative rock band that uses distortion, occasionally mumbling vocals, and uptempo, catchy rhythms to draw listeners to their songs, sounding almost British at times. A new release is on its way, and the two tracks I've heard suggest LL will only keep improving.

- Geoff Wilbur

Killing Joke-DEMOCRACY

(Zoo Entertainment)

The Forefathers of Industrial do it again with this ode to societal and political decay. Raw, throaty, and magnificent, DEMOCRACY picks up where 1994's PANDEMONIUM left off. The title track kicks off with Jaz Coleman's gravelly rantings over heavy guitar and pounding rhythm. It may take a few listens before this grows on you, but if you were a K-Joke fan before, you won't be able to resist the lofty rhythms and exotic mixture of this tribal, sample-sprinkled mix.

- Janet Schmidt


(Rawkus Entertainment)

Motorbaby adds a haunting element (Sharon Middendorf's otherworldly yet powerful vocals) to slower-paced, modern, heavy alternative. You hear some more timeless rock influences, too -- cuts like "Northern Lights" and "Sea of Fire" could appeal across radio formats (from college to classic rock).

- Geoff Wilbur

NOTE: Due to space constraints, the following reviews were not included in the print edition of the RENEGADE. They are only available here in the online edition.


(Capitol Records)

Dink seems to be suffering from an identity crisis. The 5 song EP BLAME IT ON TITO is on the one hand, conventional guitar-driven rock. On the other hand, it's quintessential industrial a la Nine Inch Nails, complete with dense synthesizers and sample-laden voice intros. The result is a duality as extreme as if two different bands alternated playing songs. Although an exercise in split-personality, it is topped off with an interesting cover of Neil Young's "Ohio," filled with fierce, grinding guitars and a more authoritative bass beat.

- Janet Schmidt


(Nuclear Blast America)

Pain is one of Peter Tagtgren from Hypocrisy's many side projects. Pain unleashes some powerful atmospheric industrial metal which molds the groove into complete chaos. Reminds on of Godflesh fusing with Frontline Assembly or Fear Factory. Pain mounts an onslaught of sheer brutality on "Greed," "Breathe," and the shocking "The Last Drops of My Life," which may bring on a hellish nightmare. Breathtaking release.

- Al Slavicsky


(RCA Records)

Once called the King on Honky Tonk this music strikes me as the roots of real good country tunes. As a songwriter, Gary Stewart stands out in the country realm for the whining tale of love and pain. As a musician, Gary's voice is filled with angst and longing that can be felt to the bones.

- Rebecca Szilvagyi

Def Leppard-SLANG

(Mercury Records)

Def Leppard has become the next mega-million selling artist to choose recording and self-producing its own project. After three consecutive multi-platinum albums which resulted from hundreds of hours of studio time, Def Lep has decided to go for a more simplified sound with its latest CD, SLANG. The Leps prove themselves to be very talented musicians and songwriters who are capable of making the change into the '90s and remaining a strong rock act. And, by tour's end, songs like "Gift of Flesh," "Truth," "Breathe a Sigh," and "Pearl of Euphoria" could bring Def Lep back into the limelight again.

- Michael Fuller


(Cherry Disc Records)

The Kansas City-based trio's follow up to 1995's ALL SMILES EP is sublime. Sounding like a moody combination of The Replacements and Dinosaur Jr., THE FIRST MAN ON THE SUN is an explosion of pop rhythm, fierce melody, and tight musicianship. The sometimes pensive, sometimes ferocious lyrical style of Mike Allmayer is in perfect symmetry with choppy guitars and driving, urgent rhythm. The first cut, "Trickle Down Justice," powerfully sets the expressive mood. From there, it gets better with several eclectic (and aesthetically pleasing) acoustic songs that never cross-over into ballad hell.

- Janet Schmidt


(Roadrunner Records)

The album opens; drums, feedback, grungy dropped tuned guitars, and it only gets better from there. Formed from the remains of Exhorder, Floodgate has produced a "must have" recording for fans of heavier music. Very aggressive, moody, intense vocals, lots of harmonies, kind of reminds me of a real heavy version of A.I.C. I definitely recommend this one; it's been on my CD player constantly.

- Patrick Ondrus

Charlie Hunter Quartet-READY, SET, SHANGO

(Blue Note Records)

Young twenty-eight year old Charlie Hunter plays with an approach steeped in classic sixties bop tradition mixed with an inventive, unorthodox spirit. "Eight string" guitarist Hunter, along with Dave Ellis and Calder Spanier on saxophones and Scott Amendola on drums, weave an impressive array of post modern blues, jazz, and Latin influenced sounds. For instance, the album opener "Ashby Man" percolates in a relaxed and driving manner, while Hunter and Co. lay down a bluesy melody on top. "911" is a Latin samba, with tasty organ style comping as Hunter simultaneously holds down the lead line and the bass.

Hunter, a fan of musicians as diverse as Jimi Hendrix, Muddy Waters, and Charlie Parker is one of the "young lions" championing a new way to play and interpret jazz for the nineties and beyond.

- Eric Harabadian



Atmospheric organic textures enlighten this release by The Tear Garden, a group composed of cEvin Key (formerly of Skinny Puppy), Edward Ka-Spel (from The Legendary Pink Dots), and the current line-up for LPD. Transcendentally trying to reach utopia for soundscape and to create a cyperworld, The Tear Garden achieves absolute power and molds a nightmarish, doomlike trance for almost 78 minutes over 13 tracks. Very spaced-out electric music, overall.

- Al Slavicsky

Eric Johnson-VENUS ISLE

(Capitol Records)

It's been 6 years since Eric Johnson won his Grammy for "Cliffs of Dover." If there is a chance for another instrumental Grammy for Eric, VENUS ISLE contains several. It's no wonder why he was asked to join the G3 tour last fall. Eric is truly one outstanding musician, holding up to his reputation among the guitar greats. Oddly enough, he also shows off his equal talent on piano with "Song for Lynette." Eric also tries his talent as vocalist this time around. Although not matching his guitar skill, he does a worthy job on "Battle We Have Won" and "When the Sun Meets the Sky."

But the true gems of VENUS ISLE are Eric's instrumentals. And if there's a Grammy with his name on it this time around, it could go for "Pavilion," "Manhattan," "Camel's Night Out," which is similar to Satriani's playing, or "S.R.V.," which is dedicated to the late fellow Austineer Stevie Ray. So, for listeners of some guitar playing at its finest, Eric Johnson proves once again he's just that -- one of the finest in his field.

- Michael Fuller


(143 Records/Lava Records)

Not bad; Wilson Phillips with an Irish accent. My only beef with the CD was that half of the songs listed were listed as instrumentals. I'm sorry, but a ten second intro is not an instrumental.

- Patrick Ondrus


(RCA Records)

ZZ Top, that li'l ol' band from Texas, has appeared to have returned to their blues and boogie roots, much to the joy of this reviewer. While they have been a rock radio staple since the mid- seventies, it wasn't until the MTV-induced ELIMINATOR album that they received mega-fame and fortune.

Well, the videos for "Legs" and "Sharp Dressed Man" are now fond memories, but they've returned with an album that, in many ways, surpasses their predecessors. Gone are the techno beats and gimmicky sound effects; back are the raw, tasty riffs, gutsy vocals, and no nonsense production. Songs like "What's Up With That" and "She's Just Killing Me" recall some of the finer points of past efforts, like "Deguello" and "Tejas," and their playing is as good as ever.

Pour yourself a Dos Equis, grab that wet burrito, and celebrate a band that has returned to form, Texas style!

- Eric Harabadian


(Del-Fi Records)

When doing reviews, one gets the chance to learn a few things about the artist. In the case of Bobby Fuller, it was more of a "history" lesson. This CD is more for the die hard collector of '60s classic rock. This is a must for the collection, if you can find it.

TEXAS TAPES is a 2 CD package with 50 songs (25 on each disc), along with a 30 page booklet of old photos and a bio on Bobby. The photos were donated to Del-Fi by Randy Fuller, Bobby's brother and bandmate. Randy gave Del-Fi the 100 "home recorded" tapes that they chose from. These tapes were done in the studio that Bobby built in their El Paso home. So everything here was recorded between '61 and '64 and contains a version of "I Fought the Law" two years before the Del-Fi release, a couple years before Bobby's death in the spring of '66. This also contains their efforts at surf music, "Skag" and "Stinger," which they dabbled in after their first trip to California, a couple of covers, "Not Fade Away" by his idol Buddy Holly and "Donna" by Richie Valens, and even an attempt at "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles. George Harrison once referred to Bobby as one of his favorite guitarists.

Del-Fi plans on releasing some more of their recordings (remastered) from Bobby Fuller soon, as well as other albums remastered to CD. so, for those interested, who will have as hard a time as we did finding this TEXAS TAPES or any other classic '60s music that was put out by Bob Keane's Del-Fi Records, you can reach them at 800-99-DEL-FI. For those interested, TEXAS TAPES sells for $24.99.

- Michael Fuller


(Epic Records)

Guitar virtuoso Steve Vai metaphysically transforms sound to create a modern day music epic. Steve plays almost all of the instruments on the release. It is divided into two phases -- phase 1, which is devoted to intense instrumentals for the first nine tracks, and phase 2, which is mainly experimentation and vocals, for the last nine tracks. 74 minutes of music. Material is strong, yet shifts from the classical Vai sound on "Fire Garden Suite" and "Blowfish" to the almost Zappa-esque "When I Was a Little Boy." Extreme.

- Al Slavicsky


(Slipdisc Records)

Formerly known as Drag, 13 Mg. holds Gothic-industrial and melts it with a violent dose of dance-oriented rock and metallic guitars. Similar in sound to Filter (Nick Pappas and Brian Liesgang of the band make a guest appearance on the release), Front 242, Ministry, and Skinny Puppy. Production sound is excellent, and much of the material is ready to be remixed for the underground rave-industrial dance parties with the NIN- inspired "Four Speed," metallic dub "Moan Song," and the single "Sinster" being the major standouts.

- Al Slavicsky

Next Page

Back to the Spring '97 Index

Back to The Renegade Homepage