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Review: S.E.X. Department

sexdepartment.jpgThese days, Sweden is the hotbed of new glam metal. Of course, other countries are also birthing new sleaze bands. Italy's own S.E.X. Department is ready to rock 'n roll with the traditional sound of both L.A. Guns and Pretty Boy Floyd.

Their self-titled debut album (Perris Records) features these tracks:

Call Me, Baby Call Me
Drive Me Insane
Revenge of Vampires
Rock n' Roll Never Dies
One Way Ticket to Rock
Glitter Bitter
Sir Yes Sir
Italian Cowboy
Rock n' Roll
S.E.X. Department

As with every album, some songs are stronger than others. Right out of the gate, I would switch the first and last tracks. The album's title track opens with canned scanner traffic (a la, "Terror in Tinseltown" on Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood). For my money, this makes a better beginning.

"Call Me, Baby Call Me" is probably my least favorite song on S.E.X. Department, but maybe I'm biased. I don't care for the odd cell phone tones, and the lyrics are not all that inventive. Still, this band has potential.

"Rock n' Roll Never Dies" and "One Way Ticket to Rock" are both strong, upbeat tracks. The latter really sounds like Pretty Boy Floyd. Lead singer/guitarist Kelly "Trash" Mendess doesn't have the strongest voice in Metal, then again, neither does Steven Tyler, David Lee Roth or Vince Neil.

I'll give the boys in S.E.X. Department this much: they know PR, and that's really half the battle. They are not ashamed to do a ton of Myspace bulletins and private emails to media outlets. They also include an inventive press kit with copies of their promotional disc. Written like a police blotter, S.E.X. Department do a good job connecting image to sound.

Listen to samples at

Band members:
Kelly Trash Mendess - Vocals/guitar
Doctor Dok - Bass
Milky Milano - Drums

Here's S.E.X. Department performing "Revenge of the Vampires"


Black List


I've wanted Black List by Paul Black's L.A. Guns for months now. The 2005 release is on the Black City Music imprint, owned by Paul Black.


If you know the real history of sleaze rockers L.A. Guns, then you know Paul Black is the original singer for the band. He was replaced by Phil Lewis because of drug issues. If you'd like to know more about Paul Black's history and success overcoming addiction, please see "Roll the Dice" originally published on August 8, 2007.

I've listened to Black List a handful of times, and I really like the entire disc. Songs like "Looking Over My Shoulder," "One Way Ticket to Love" and "Liquid Diamonds" are a highlight. Of course, "Looking Over My Shoulder" became "Never Enough" on the L.A. Guns release Cocked and Loaded. It's amazing to hear the similarities of both tracks. The music is pretty much exactly the same, but the lyrics are completely different.

Black List begins strong with "Stranded in L.A." A straight-up, dirty rocker, I found myself amazed at how much the song sounded like L.A. Guns...until I caught myself, realizing I was listening to the Guns in their purest - and most Metal -form (save very early vocals by Axl Rose and Michael Jagosz).

Paul Black's L.A. Guns features Tracii Guns on lead guitar, Robert Stoddard on rhythm guitar, Nickey Alexander on drums and Mick Cripps on bass. This album is important to own not only because the music is great, but also because it's a study in anthropology. Record executives tried to rewrite the history of L.A. Guns, and effectively eliminate Paul Black's identity. After Black and Guns reconciled so many years later, they teamed up to remaster the original L.A. Guns demos. Since these demos were confiscated by label executives, one can also assume these original recordings were not well preserved. In many cases, there is audible scratching and popping on the album, but I guess that adds to the history and charm.

If you're a fan of L.A. Guns or Glam Metal, than you need to own Black List. The release even includes "The Devil in You" performed by Black Cherry, Paul's post- Guns band. Black Cherry should have been huge, but the planets never aligned and it simply wasn't meant to be I suppose. At least Paul Black is finally getting his chance to prove his musical ability through the release of Black List and touring with his version of L.A. Guns.



New Music Tuesday

I literally have stacks of new CDs at home. Some I've purchased, others are promotional releases. I won't even attempt to name all the discs here (honestly, I can't even remember half the bands!) but there are some discs that I'm very excited to own.

blackist.jpgTomorrow, I plan to review Black List, released by original L.A. Guns singer Paul Black. I've given the disc a limited listen and so far, I really like what I hear. It's interesting to hear some of the early L.A. Guns demos that would eventually become monster hits for the band by the late 1980s.



Another exciting new CD is Vixen's Live in Sweden. Judging by the packaging, all the songs were recorded at the most recent Sweden Rock Festival. This disc was just released last week, and I'll be reviewing the effort for both this site and Metal Express Radio.




I've had the new Great White CD for quite some time and have yet to give it a proper listen. Every time I reach for the disc, I'd find myself inclined to review something else or just be in the mood for sleaze instead of blues. Expect my review of Back to the Rhythm in the coming days.


Finally, S.E.X. Department sent me a copy of the self-titled debut. This band is already a Myspace favorite, and their first effort is due next month. While their CD isn't even in the hands of the buying public, the band is already planning a glam tour with artists like Pretty Boy Floyd and Tuff.

As you can see, I'll be busy the next few days. I have high hopes for all these albums.


Van Halen: 125 Minutes Live

Who: Van Halen, plus me, Eric and thousands of our closest friends.
What: Van Halen “reunion” tour, featuring David Lee Roth on vocals, Wolfgang Van Halen on bass, Eddie Van Halen on guitar, and Alex Van Halen on drums.
When: Sunday, October 14, 2007. 8:30 p.m.
Where: Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
Why: This tour is legendary!
How: Good credit. Thanks MasterCard!

vanhalenwide_wm.JPGI’ve been looking forward to my chance to see Van Halen live for months now. The “on-again, off-again” tour has put of the rock world on edge, and now it seems things might actually be halfway decent in the Van Halen camp. By the time the band took the stage, the crowd was rowdy and ready to go. These people wanted their Van Halen! The set list seemed pretty similar to the one leaked on the Internet around a month ago. Here’s what the mighty Van Halen performed:

You Really Got Me
I’m the One
Runnin' With the Devil
Romeo Delight
Somebody Get Me a Doctor
Beautiful Girls
Dance the Night Away
Atomic Punk
Everybody Wants Some
So This Is Love?
Mean Street
Oh, Pretty Woman
Drum Solo
I'll Wait
And the Cradle Will Rock
Hot for Teacher
Little Dreamer
Little Guitars
Jamie's Cryin'
Ice Cream Man (both acoustic and electric)
Eruption/Guitar Solo
Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love

DLroth_wm.JPGDiamond Dave acted as ringmaster, and wore about a six different circus-style top hats throughout the show. He was in his element last night, and he seemed to be having the time of his life. That man has a huge smile, which makes me wonder if he wears dentures, but I digress. He did say “Look at all the people here tonight!” which made the crowd go crazy. Everybody screamed, I don’t recall any laughing (at least from my section). At one point, Roth said “Welcome to the show. We’re three-fourths original and one-quarter inevitable.” This seemed to make Wolfgang smile.

I may have a crush on 16 year old Wolfgang. The boy has taken a lot of criticism, both in the real world and on the Internet, but he sure seemed to know what he was doing on stage. My favorite part of the entire show was when Wolfie took the top riser of the multi-platform stage and strummed the beginning of “Runnin’ With the Devil” with his bass outstretched over his head. I wasn’t the only one impressed: I noticed a lot of ladies screaming for the adolescent, who also proved he knows a thing or two about finger tapping a fret board.

eddieguitar_wm.JPGMy word, Eddie Van Halen can still play the guitar. No, he doesn’t play, he charms the instrument. Last night was an interesting exercise for me: it’s been more than a decade since I last saw Van Halen live (on the Balance tour, with Sammy Hagar singing vocals) but Eddie sounded better last night than when he was so much younger. He looked good too. Perhaps I was too young to appreciate his guitar mastery when my parents took me to see Van Halen so long ago, but I get it now. The man is a downright genius. Eddie’s solo lasted about 15 minutes. He would go in and out of “Eruption” and play other bits, striking the guitar from upside down, over his head, laying on the stage: you name it, he did it and won. It was interesting to watch the faces of the people in the capacity crowd while Eddie performed. When “Eruption” kicked into high gear, people screamed, but when Eddie moved on to improvise, the stadium went kind of silent as the crowd watched in awe. True to form, there is no living guitarist as good as Eddie Van Halen. Dare to dispute me, but I urge you to see this band live. If you do, you’ll know I’m right.

I’ve never been a gigantic fan of drum solos, but Alex Van Halen’s solo last night was pretty good. It was a decent length and he kept standing from the behind the kit to get the crowd involved, and last night he wasn’t confined to a neck brace. Still, it was a little hard to see Alex since the drum riser wasn’t all that high. I had very good seats, so I’m not sure people in the upper balconies could see the elder Van Halen very well.

Diamond Dave was his usual self, cracking jokes within songs and pushing a lot of sexual innuendo. When it was time for “Ice Cream Man,” Dave gave his bandmates a short break, and came out on stage with an acoustic guitar. He told the crowd about his Indiana roots and then started the song. It wasn’t long before Eddie made his guitar wail once again, and we were back to electric hysteria.

vanhalenwide2_wm.JPGAs an encore, “Jump” makes sense. After all, it is the band’s most famous song with Roth, and every single person inside Conseco Fieldhouse knew the words – and sang along! Even the eight year old girls in the row in front of me knew the words and jumped around…just like their parents. During “Jump,” there was a Van Halen blimp that chased Roth on stage (these same blimps circled the crowd before the show) and lots of confetti. There was a giant disco ball, and inflatable microphone emblazoned with the classic Van Halen logo. Much to my chagrin, Diamond Dave didn’t ride the microphone. Eric decided it was bigger than the one he used in all those old music videos. By the time the last chord bounced off the walls, the entire crowd was pumped. People were screaming as they exited the building…and most people agreed that the reunion was worth the cash – and the wait.


From Girl to Man Raze

manraze.jpgDo you know Man Raze?

The band features Phil Collen (Def Leppard, Girl) Simon Laffy (Girl) and Paul Cook (Sex Pistols). Some define the band as "alternative" but I'm going to say they are "post-glam." Many of the early Man Raze songs were originally written for Def Leppard, and I know you'll agree the Leps are anything but alternative!

Man Raze created their own label, Surrealist Records, and released the Skin Crawl  EP in 2005. It's available on as an import, but for domestic pricing.

Skin Crawl features these tracks:

Skin Crawl
You're So Wrong
Runnin' Me Up
Skin Crawl (remix)

Man Raze is different for Phil Collen because he sings lead in addition to his guitar duties. Laffy plays bass for Man Raze, as he did with Girl and Cook plays drums.

According to, the release of the band's full length debut has been pushed back, thanks to external commitments. My guess would be that Phil Collen underestimated how hard it would be to record with his side project while touring with Def Leppard and contributing lead guitars to the upcoming Songs from the Sparkle Lounge, due sometime next year. As with anything connected to DL there's usually a delay, but I'm confident Man Raze will release their much anticipated disc as soon as possible.

Here's the promotional video for "Turn It Up"


Girl: My Number -- The Single

On this exact date back in 1979, UK based Sounds magazine posted an article about Girl. Here's some of that article, via

cleargirl.jpg"Girl, a five piece heavy rock band, have signed to Jet Records and will release their first single called 'My Number' on October 19. Bur for reasons best known to the compilers, the single - which will be released as a one-sided record in clear vinyl selling at 55p - has already entered the Sounds heavy metal charts."

Yes, the mythical clear vinyl.

After reading this little excerpt, I knew I had to have the "My Number" single. That fact that this is just about my favorite Girl song (next to "McKitty's Back") didn't hurt the issue.

I assumed it was going to be hard tracking down the rare record. I was wrong. A quick eBay search landed me in some sort of rare record heaven and within minutes, I found myself bidding in an auction for the clear vinyl release.

Five bucks later, the record is mine. The actual picture (above) seems to indicate that the record is in good condition. I have big plans to play it all of one time, then frame it for my new basement. I think it will look very glam amongst other music memorabilia.

While we're talking about new acquisitions, I can proudly announce that I finally tracked down a copy of the Sheer Greed LP at a reasonable price. Finding the record was never really the issue, it was the money. I won that record for a mere $6, plus shipping. I'm still on the hunt for Wasted Youth -- I just refuse to drop $50 on the endeavor.

Now, I wait. I'm really looking forward to the arrival of my new records. I think I'll be the envy of all my friends.



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.