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Friday
Oct122007

Girl: Live at the Marquee

marqueegirl.jpgIt’s finally Friday, and that also means my last Girl album review. Today, a look at Live at the Marquee, released in 2001 by Receiver Records (I don’t know the date of the recorded performance). Girl played the Marquee Club in the early 1980s, a mainstay of British pop music. Many other bands like Genesis, The Yardbirds and the Rolling Stones also have recordings taped during Marquee Club performances amongst their discographies.

The track listing for Live at the Marquee looks like this:

Ice In My Blood
Icey Blue
Mad For It
Overnight Angels
Old Dogs
Big Night
Sweet Kids
Wasted Youth
Nice N’ Nasty
My Number
Standard Romance
Thru the Twilight

Now, these are songs I’ve mentioned all week, but it’s always interesting to hear a live interpretation. Plus, it’s pretty cool to hear Phil Lewis scream “Come on, you closet headbangers!” at the beginning of “My Number.” Sadly, my favorite part of “My Number” often falls flat on this live issue: I really like the chorus echo, but the backing microphones are not loud enough to tackle the over-modulated bass.

The crowd isn’t so rowdy, and Lewis tries to pump up his fans before “Overnight Angels.” Lewis and rest of Girl seem to be having a good time for themselves, and that’s important for fans. The good news is that the bass isn’t so loud on “Overnight Angels” and it’s actually possible to hear the backing vocals. Plus, Lewis’ voice sounds eerily close to the actual recording, proving that he really does have a nice set of pipes.

“Thru the Twilight” is another highlight (internal rhyme notwithstanding). The band has a nice groove going by the end of the performance, even if the sound recording isn’t perfect. At one point, there is audible feedback. Still, the band clearly opted to not fix every error during the performance. I think it’s important to leave flaws on live recordings because they are a snapshot in time: every band, through out the world, sounds different on any given night. No one can be spot on 365 days a year and flaws give us character. Plus, it’s often those flaws that equate to a concert story or two. That being said, “Thru the Twilight” closes the disc. At the end of the song there’s no loud screams or clapping, save for one loyal fan. In this regard, the album seems detached because I’m fairly certain Girl had a loyal enough following in their native U.K. to garner some whoops and praise. Still, Live at the Marquee is a good record if you’re in the mood for a concert in your living room. Otherwise, I might just opt for the regular recordings.

Thursday
Oct112007

Girl: Killing Time

killingtime.jpgMusic groups disband all the time, and Girl broke-up right when they could have become huge. The band cites a variety of reasons for the break-up including poor management, bad A&R, and a lot of drugs, specifically heroin. I find this a little ironic if Phil Lewis was dabbling in heroin and, years later, replaced Paul Black in L.A. Guns because he had a junk problem. Of course, I don’t know any member of Girl personally and wasn’t around, so I don’t know if Phil – or any other member – was really doping. As it stands, several factors contributed to the break-up of Girl right after the release of Wasted Youth. While Girl was no more, Jet Records still had plenty of new material and eventually released Killing Time around 1987. The track listing for Killing Time looks like this:

Juliet
Nut Bush City Limits
Mad For It
White Prophet
This Town
Aeroplane Food
Make It Medical
Nothing But the Night
Big Night Out
Lucky
Killing Time
Naughty Boy
King Rat
Mogal
Love Is a Game
Black Max
Sound of Cars
You Really Got Me (Kinks cover)

Killing Time is an odd little mix of tracks. Perhaps this is because the songs were never recorded for a future release and were outtakes of the Sheer Greed and Wasted Youth sessions. Believe it or not, a highlight is the Kinks cover of “You Really Got Me.” It’s pretty true to the original, while maintaining a unique sound. “Mogal” is interesting in a post-hippie, New Wave of British Heavy Metal sort of way. The album’s title track is somewhat predictable for a Glam release, although I can see how this song would be suitable for a proper album. It has a harder edge and some good drum work. In some ways, it’s like listening to very raw L.A. Guns. Other times, it seems the song is a throwback to classic rock. It’s interesting to note that all week, I’ve been immersed in my Girl but haven’t really noticed a connection between the band and Def Leppard. While I can hear L.A. Guns in nearly every track, I really have to strain for some early Lep. I’m not sure what that says about Phil Collen and Phil Lewis respectively. Perhaps Collen is more of a collaborator in Def Lep, or able to break boundaries more freely? Maybe Lewis really did write a lot of early L.A. Guns songs, or he helped shape the guitar mastery of Tracii Guns? Whatever the case, it’s fascinating the listen to the musical progression of Girl, Def Leppard and L.A. Guns.

Back to Killing Time. In the way of rock, “Lucky” has a solid tempo and Lewis stylistically croons his way through the groove. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether Phil is singing or speaking, but he gets a pass because he’s British and accents are hot. Not to be outdone, “Love is a Game” is even better. Here, the production sounds a little better than “Lucky” and the guitar work and backing harmonies are impressive. This song sounds like it was intended to be a radio-friendly single. Oh, what might have been had the planets aligned.

Editor's note: I wonder if Janet Jackson ripped off the Killing Time cover for her multi-platinum, self-titled release.

Wednesday
Oct102007

Girl: Wasted Youth

girlwastedyouth.jpgIt’s Wednesday, and time for another Girl review. Today, a look at the 1982 Jet Records release Wasted Youth.

Wasted Youth picks up where Sheer Greed left off but features a slicker, more heavily produced feel. The track listing looks like this:

 

 

 

 

Thru the Twilight
Old Dogs
Ice In The Blood
Wasted Youth
Standard Romance
Nice N’ Nasty
McKitty’s Back
19
Overnight Angels
Sweet Kids

Just like Sheer Greed, Wasted Youth has some killer songs. Here, Girl pulls from their 70s rock influences, but also come into their own a bit more. Tracks like “Nice N’ Nasty,” “McKitty’s Back” and “Old Dogs” are highlights. This album again features Phil Lewis on vocals, plus Phil Collen and Gerry Laffy on guitars and Simon Laffy on bass. New drummer Pete Barnacle rounds out the rhythm section.

“McKitty’s Back” features a unique tempo change, good dual guitar stylings and Phil’s signature rasp. Not to be outdone, “Old Dogs” has interesting lyrics and punched-up production. For much of the song, Lewis’ voice is front and center until the chorus comes into play. Then, the song is a hybrid of early Hollywood Rose and the Doobie Brothers. Seriously.

My favorite song on Wasted Youth is “19.” The track is Montrose-meets Led Zeppelin-meets modern sleaze. Perfect. I love that Phil Lewis just about screams all the lyrics and the timing is off ever so slightly. Sometimes the pure charm of an album is lost in post-production. Here, a (very) few mistakes remain, and it really adds to overall listening experience. Plus, I love the line “19, I feel like 92.” No truer words were spoken.

To me, the most obvious Aerosmith-like song on Wasted Youth is “Overnight Angels.” The track is a solid little rocker about, well, rock.  Sometimes it’s best not to try and reinvent the wheel. Wasted Youth is a very strong effort from a band that should have been huge.

Here's the video for "Sweet Kids."


Tuesday
Oct092007

Girl: Sheer Greed

girlsheergree.jpgGirl week continues here at Bring Back Glam! with a review of Sheer Greed. The 1980 debut was released by Jet Records and features Phil Lewis on vocals, Phil Collen and Gerry Laffy on guitars, Simon Laffy on bass and Dave Gaynor on drums. The track listing looks like this:

 

 

 

 

Hollywood Tease 
Things You Say 
Lovely Loraine 
Strawberries 
Little Miss Anne 
Doctor Doctor 
Do You Love Me (KISS cover) 
Take Me Dancing 
What’s Up? 
Passing Clouds
My Number 
Heartbreak America

Girl was definitely part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, and their influences are typical 70s rock fare. In many songs, I can hear Toys in the Attic-era hear Aerosmith, especially on “Take Me Dancing.” This is also my favorite songs on Sheer Greed.

“Things You Say” is downright brilliant. By listening to this effort, it’s pretty clear that every member of Girl is a gifted technician. While Girl didn’t necessarily break any musical boundaries with Sheer Greed, they did cover a lot of ground and encompass a lot of rock influences. The dual guitar work is more than impressive and probably helped Collen years later while collaborating with Steve Clark in Def Leppard.

“My Number” is a precursor for what Phil Lewis would later do with L.A. Guns. The song has a catchy riff and thumping bass line. This is one of the hardest tracks on the album, and it fits nicely.

Girl playfully mock the greatest country in the world with “Heartbreak America.” Of course, the Brits are not singing about the America, rather one of my fellow countrywomen. After all, American girls can be trouble at times. “Doctor Doctor” is an upbeat rocker about lost love. Lewis strains his voice on this song, just like he would years later on “Rip and Tear” from L.A. Guns most successful released Cocked and Loaded.

A unique tempo, staccato beat, and guitar tone set the tone for “Strawberries.” It’s a fabulously odd little ditty with clear punk influences. It’s also rhetorically interesting to simply call the song “Strawberries” when Lewis croons over and over “Strawberries and Cream/That You Could Break My Heart…/You’re Breaking My Heart…”This brings back the age old question professional rhetoricians ponder for a living: was the word choice intentional, or subconscious? I can’t imagine the band unknowingly giving such a complex song a simple name, but stranger things have happened.

There are drawbacks to Sheer Greed: the production, at times, is spotty. Some tracks are crystal clear, others muffled. The drums could be kicked up a notch album-wide, and sometimes Lewis’ voice sounds weak. Still, Sheer Greed is one great album. Giving these Glam classics a spin makes me feel like an music archeologist: knowing the roots of L.A. Guns and Def Leppard is infinitely exciting.

Monday
Oct082007

A Week of Girl

GIRL.jpgA lovely soul has contributed to my Girl problem...and now I own several of the albums in a digital format -- the quest for vinyl continues!

To celebrate this massive gift, I hereby declare this "Girl Week." Starting today and through Friday, I'll review the various Girl albums and talk about legendary performances and perhaps even venture into post-Girl spinoffs like Man Raze, Sheer Greed, L.A. Guns, and Def Leppard.

Albums that will be reviewed include Sheer Greed, Wasted Youth, Killing Time, and Live at the Marquee.

Not surprising, there are several good Girl clips on YouTube. Many are taken from the BBC program The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Let's kick off our week with some of these videos. Here's Girl performing "Take Me Dancing."



Now, Girl performing "Strawberries." While I was listening to this clip last night, Eric remarked that is sounded just like L.A. Guns. True, Phil Lewis' voice is incredibly unique and definitely a major part of the charm that is Girl.



Our final video on this Monday, a clip of "Do Ya Love Me."



Tomorrow, I'll review Sheer Greed.

 

Sunday
Oct072007

This Could Be Huge...

Today could be huge for the glam mistress. In minutes, I'm hitting the streets to buy flooring...and then my glam nightclub will (finally!) be finished. Plus, I'm going record hunting and costume shopping with Heather.

In my household, there is no holiday more important than Halloween.

I need to find a good, rock n' roll type costume to match my black hair. I'm not sure what I want yet...it's one of the most important decisions I make all year long. Plus, there's controversy with my Halloween plans: I can see Pretty Boy Floyd and go to a giant street party in Dayton, or I can trek to Cincinnati and visit with my good friends Drugstore Valentine. Decisions, decisions.

On the record front, I'm hoping that some unknowing soul dumped precious glam at the Salvation Army. I still want all the previous records I've mentioned (Shout at the Devil, or any Girl) but now I also want Bonham The Disregard of Time Keeping. I'll also be pleased if I pick up some later-era Van Halen (any singer will do).

Like I said...this could be a very big day. I will report back my findings.

 

Saturday
Oct062007

Intersection of Friendship

Journalism as a career  can be both exciting and downright draining. There are definite advantages: journalists know everything that happens in the world before the rest of the general population. We have access to public officials, celebrities and small town heroes. Days typically move fast, but that's where the negatives come into play. Journalism is a grind, make no mistake. Sitcoms that are set in T.V. affiliates continue to glamorize the industry without making the average viewer aware of the amount of work that goes into producing the evening news (or daily newspaper for that matter). In a medium sized T.V. market, there's an average of eight people working to get 30 minutes of content on the air. At my station, our evening news is a 90 minute block, so you do the math and figure out just how many people it takes (on average) to tell you about a fatal fire, tornado damage to the house next door and the latest lead paint recall.

The six o'clock news is my responsibility. Like any job, producing a daily newscast takes practice. It takes time to hone a craft and acquire the speed necessary to keep up with a million changes, all the while facing a hard deadline. At this point, I'm quite fast and accurate at my job. That's not bragging, it's just brass tacks. For all that speed and news judgement, there comes a price. People in "unique" career fields tend to form strong bonds with their coworkers. It's a "united we stand, divided we fall" sort of mentality. No one person can get a newscast on the air. Without an integral piece of the pie, the newscast will fail, right before the eyes of thousands of viewers.

The journalism industry has a revolving door. People come and go in droves. The work is tedious, emotions run high and egos are huge. Plus, the pay is not great. Yesterday, one of my good friends bid our station farewell. It's interesting how relationships intersect, and coworkers suddenly become true friends. This dear friend is moving from Ohio to our nation's capitol without a job, but with many dreams. I'm sure he will have much success in the future. Like every person on this planet I too have dreams, but don't know how to go about making them a reality. When I was in college, I wanted a career in broadcast journalism and I've done that. I wanted a graduate degree, so I went ahead and picked up a Masters, too. Still, I don't think I possess the guts needed to leave my relatively secure life, and move to New York or Los Angeles for a music career. I'm at the point where I must have some stability and earn a certain amount of income to support a home, a car, and gigantic music habit.

christian.jpgBack to friendship. Special relationships come from everywhere, when you least expect them. If you're a regular reader of this website, then you know the name Christian Graus. He's a regular commentor and he knows a ton about Metal music. He's also a brilliant computer programmer, and he had the guts to follow his dreams right into that field. Christian and I have only met face to face one time: at Rocklahoma 2007. Now, we exchange e-mail messages daily and talk about more than just music. To me, this constitutes a very nice friendship. Christian recently agreed to an interview for this site. No, he's not a famous musician or even a former member of Bang Tango but he lives a pretty interesting life, halfway around the world in Tasmania.

Bring Back Glam! What originally got you interested in Metal?

 
Christian Graus: AC/DC.  I was into pop music as a young teenager, and we visited my cousin, who played me T.N.T (the album that was not released in the U.S.).  I listened to AC/DC for six months and bought a couple of Metal compilations on cassette, because they had AC/DC, and branched off from there.


BBG:
How long have you been a die hard Metal fan?

CG: Since about 1984. I was into Iron Maiden a little before then, but that's when it got serious.

BBG: Who are your favorite bands...and do you have any favorite albums?

CG: Metallica - Master of Puppets is my number one album of all time.  My all time favorite live album is Iron Maiden - Live After Death (seeing the tour three times next February).  Other bands I love include Accept, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Kix, The Angels, Motorhead, Judas Priest, Ozzy. 

BBG: Has your love for Metal ever helped you through an incredibly difficult time in your life?

CG: First of all, it got me through my teens.  I know Metal was big in the US, it didn't get big here (Australia) until I was in the final year of high school.  Being a Metalhead and not fitting in were the same thing as far as I was concerned, but that just made me love it more.  There was a lot of conflict in my family life, and I spent hours with a walkman, just getting out of the house, walking and listening to music.  When my first wife left me, I also listened to music a lot.  In fact, just whenever anything bad happens, the first thing I would do is put on music.  I remember my house being robbed, I listened to "Fade to Black" for hours.

BBG: How often do you listen to Metal?

CG: All day! I work from home as a software developer, I get up, grab a CD and start coding.  I listen to music at least 80% of the time, and apart from Pink Floyd, Johnny Cash and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies, my collection of 1200 CDs is pretty much all Metal.

BBG: Have you turned friends onto your music passion?

CG: Yes - I travel to the U.S. a lot for work, in the past two years I have seen (at home or in the U.S.) Poison/Cinderella/Enderafter, Aerosmith/Motley Crue, Down/Megadeth/Heaven and Hell, Down/Heaven and Hell (again), Mortal Sin/Anthrax, Journey/Def Leppard, Rose Tattoo/Sebastian Bach/the Axl Rose band, Rocklahoma, BFMV/Iron Maiden, Th3ee/Scorpions, Motorhead/Motley Crue, etc.  For all the Aussie concerts, I've taken friends who are into Metal a bit, and got them more into it.  For the U.S. concerts, I've taken a friend who was scared of the first one (Poison, would you believe) and now is telling me about Ozzy/Rob Zombie if I get over (to America) in November.

BBG: So, what's your best concert experience?

CG:  I've had so many great concerts this past few years.  I'd say that until I see Maiden next year, my best experience will be Heaven and Hell in Adelaide.  They played in an old town hall, it was tiny and run down.  I waited from midday to be at the front, there was one 16 year old in front of me (his first gig), and a couple who came along just after.  A really cool day meeting those guys, then I got right to the barrier on the Tony Iommi side (I knew where to go, I saw the show in Toronto ).  Down opened, and they totally suck.  I've seen a number of bands I was only vaguely interested in (Scorpions on my last trip, Def Leppard), and all of them, I left the show loving them more, and listening to them a lot more.  Down, still suck, even from the front row.  But, I stuck it out.  Actually, before the show, a woman offered me money for my spot.  I told her I didn't want her money.  She said "I was hoping you were not a big Dio fan."  Say what? Anyhow, I told her she could have my spot for the last song. So, Heaven and Hell come out.  It was incredible.  Dio was amazing, he owned the stage.  Tony kept walking forward, right in front of me, and looking up and smiling at me and others in the front.  I caught a pick from him that night.  Vinnie Appice did the only good drum solo I've ever heard or seen.  His kit was all around him, he got up and played facing the back, and worked his way around.  "Heaven and Hell," the song, went for 12 minutes, they stretched it right out.  I could see the set list from where I was, so I knew what was coming. I did move for the crazy lady for "Neon Nights."  As they left the stage, she kept yelling "Dio, I love you!"  He came over and said "I love you too."  She nearly fainted.

BBG: Do you have a fantasy concert?

CG: If Rocklahoma's line up includes these bands, that would be it:
Whitesnake, Judas Priest, Kix, Accept, Baton Rouge, Primal Fear, Edguy, Hammerfall, Jorn, suicidal tendencies, Dio
Or if Vince Neil did a solo show where he played songs from Exposed  (with Steve Stevens).

 

Photo: Allyson with Christian Graus on the final day of Rocklahoma 2007.