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CD of the Month
  • Mudvayne
    by Mudvayne
  • Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
    Lords of Chaos: The Bloody Rise of the Satanic Metal Underground New Edition
    by Michael Moynihan, Didrik Soderlind
  • Retribution
    by Shadows Fall
  • Brutal Legend
    Brutal Legend
    Electronic Arts

Tony Harnell & The Mercury Train - Round Trip

Tony Harnell doing what he does bestSince Tony Harnell left TNT back in 2006, he has kept himself busy with various projects like Starbreaker as well as flirting with a solo career.  Tony got close when he released Cinematic, which was a solo EP comprised of some demos that he had been working on, back in 2008.  The EP was released exclusively on his website.  2010 brings the man a little closer to fulfilling the promise of a solo CD, with his latest release Round Trip

Tony has recently re-surfaced with his new band The Mercury Train, for a reworking of some of his tracks from TNT and Westworld.  For Round Trip, Tony decided to strip things back and make the majority of the tunes acoustic based, which he hopes will gives these classic tracks new life.  This seems to be a fairly popular trend for established rockers to revisit classic tracks and modernize them.  When an artist does this, it can breathe new life into a classic track, but it can also uncover some hidden gems that may have been overlooked the first time around.  I think it is a cool trend, but you have to be careful re-doing a classic songs, because, if it sounds the same or worse, then what is the point. 

Round Trip starts with the re-working of the classic TNT track Somebody Told You off of the Firefly record.  The track starts off with a cool funky bass line and then kicks into the tune.  The re-worked version comes off fresh and fun.  You can tell by the first tune, that Tony has put a lot thought into the track and has added a new twist to this classic tune.  Tony has done a nice job by changing up the tracks and making them fresh again.  Check out the re-workings of Intuition, Lonely Nights and Northern Lights.  I think the stongest thing about this CD is Tony's vocals.  The dude just sounds amazing.  This CD really highlights what a stong vocalist he is.  He has not lost anything as a vocalist. 

Round trip contains 14 tracks.  The CD is primarily made up of classic tunes, with the exception of Univited (Alanis Morisette) which was originally covered for the Westworld - Skin record as well as the sole original tune Anywhere but Here.  I'm glad he included Uninvited, because the version has a really cool dark vibe to it, which ends up being one of the highlights on the CD for me.  Anywhere But Here leaves a lot to be desired.  It has a Beatles vibe, but never really goes anywhere.  It is just a subpar track, and probably the weakest on the CD.  Too bad, because I was hoping for more.  The CD has a mellow vibe, but is done well and should keep fans happy until the next release.

Bottom Line: Tony Harnell stripped back.  The CD borders on that adult contemporary vibe, but is still cool because it's Tony Harnell.  This CD truly showcases what a great vocalist that Tonay Harnell is.  The only down side, is that the one original track on the CD, is not that strong.  Hopefully there will be better things to come in the future in regards to new original material.

Standout Tracks: Uninvited, Lonely Nights, Somebody Told You, and Northern Lights

- Ragman is looking for his lighter


First Signal (Featuring Harry Hess)

Harry sounds great, but the music's lacking...It is hard to believe it has been 2 years since Harem Scarem hung it up.  With the way their schedule had been, 2010 would have been the year for a new CD.  Unfortunately Harem Scarem is gone, and have vowed not to come back, but with the emergence of a new project called First Signal, there may be some hope to bring back that classic HS sound.  First Signal is the welcomed return of vocalist Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) to the hard rock world.  It appears that First Signal is a project headed by bassist/producer Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) and the folks at Frontiers.  Frontiers wanted to put out a release that hearkened back to the classic Harem sound, but with a twist, and that is exactly what we got.

First Signal's debut starts off with the energetic first single This City, which is an upbeat melodic rocker that has some elements of HS, but a little more polished.  The tune is catchy, but nothing too spectacular.  To boil it all down this CD, is full of catchy and melodic tunes, that lack the punchiness of Harem Scarem.  From what I read, the goal was to bring back the Mood Swings era HS sound, but unfortunately they missed the mark, and come off sounding more like Journey than HS.  Had the songs,  been heavier and edgier then they might of achieved their goal.  Don't get me wrong, there are some cool tracks on the CD like, Part of Me and Naked Desire, which sound like they could have come off a Pink Cream record.  These two tracks have a dark vibe to them and are heavier than most of the other tracks on the CD. 

This is not a bad CD and maybe I have been a little too critical, but I was expecting more than what I got.  The brightest part of this CD is the return of Harry Hess.  Harry sounds amazing on this release as well as the other studio musicians that participated in this project.  The songs are played well and written well, but they are missing that umph factor.  The songs are catchy and poppy, and do lend to the HS sound, but only because Hess was involved.  If you want to compare this to a Harem Scarem CD, then the closes comparison, would be to their self titled first album.

Bottom Line: Harry Hess is back and sounding amazing as usual on a CD that might have been better had it been a band project rather than just a bunch of studio musicians getting together to crank out a CD.  If you're not aware, one of the biggest disappointments about this project is that all of the material was written by outside writers.

Standout Tracks: Naked Desire, Part of Me, Crazy and First Signal

- Ragman was looking for just a little more


Podcast #106: Type

Kai demonstrates his "Horn up" greetingWhile to the average person, metal is just loud guitars and screaming, to the aficionado, it's much more complex.  Initially categorized as traditional, hair and thrash, now there are so many genres it's hard to keep track.  Join Genghis and Ragman, as they dig deep into this music to see what they can unearth.  You'll be amazed with what they come up with.  Next the boys have lined up Gamma Ray mainman, Kai Hansen, who discusses his band's latest effort, To the Metal, as well as his relationship with former Helloween vocalist, Michael Kiske.

DVD of the Show: The Haunted - Caught on Tape

1st Beer of the Show: Holzar-Bier Dunkel (Beer Rating: 3.5)

2nd Beer of the Show: Allagash Fluxus (Beer Rating: 3)

Featured Tracks: Y & T - Shine On; The Haunted - Ceremony; Overkill - The Goal is Your Soul; Lillian Axe - Sad Day on Planet Earth; Orange Sky - Roses; Rush - The Spirit of Radio; Anthrax w/Public Enemy - Bring the Noise; Pantera - Clash with Reality; Avalon - Eternal Flame; Steel Panther - Asian Hooker; Gamma Ray - Somewhere Out in Space, Empathy, To The Metal, Time to Live, All You Need to Know & Valley of the Kings

Classic of the Show: Hanoi Rocks - The Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Ragman's Pick of the Show: Soilwork - The Thrill

Genghis' Pick of the Show: Vanden Plas - Holes in the Sky

- Ragman is finally getting caught up...

Podcast #106: Type


Podcast #105: Air

An Evening With...Dan ReedHave you ever felt [mentally] lost and didn't know where to go?  A lot of us may go through this every now and again, but we come out of it and try to pick up where we left off.  We all go on journeys through life, some take us to places we never imagined, and others take us to places we wish we could forget.  Being a musician has to be a tough thing because things can turn on a dime.  Join Genghis and Ragman as they go on just such an extraordinary journey with singer/songwriter, Dan Reed (Dan Reed Network), as we return to the latest in the An Evening With... series.  Dan discusses his return to music as well as his latest CD, Coming up for Air.

DVD VHS of the Show: Dan Reed Network - Live At Last

Beer of the Show: Ed Hardy (Premium Beer)  Beer Rating: N/A

Featured Tracks: Dan Reed Network - World Has a Heart Too, Get to You, Slam, Long Way to Go (Featuring Nuno Bettencourt), Make it Easy, Take My Hand, Let it Go; Dan Reed - Losing My Fear, Brave New World, On Your Side, Pray for Rain; Dan Reed Network - The Salt of Joy

- Ragman wants Dan to come to Texas.

Podcast #105: Air


Stratovarius - Infinite (Re-issue) and Polaris (Expanded)

Nice extras, but it's not all gravy...Stratovarius recently issued two new re-releases to spark interest in the band.  The first, Infinite, was the last great CD by the band with ex-guitarist and founder, Timo Tolki.  I found it interesting that the band would be re-issuing this CD now that Tolki is out of the band.  There is no doubt that this was their last great record, starting off with a bang in the anthem Hunting High and Low, and continuing to pummel with solid tracks like A Million Light Years Away and Infinity.  I could go on, but I wanted to get into the portion of this CD that might prompt a fan to buy this again; this deluxe edition includes the original CD as well as another one full of bonus tracks, demos, and a couple of live cuts. 

Getting into the meat of this thing, there are 7 bonus tracks [on this extra CD] that I was most interested in because you sometimes find songs that are stronger than some of the actual original tracks.  The first bonus track, Why are We Here, is a mid tempo rocker full of melody and killer riffage.  It's classic Stratovaius, and sounds like it could have been written during the Destiny sessions.  A killer tune which could have fit well on the original album easily.  The next two tracks are okay, but you can see why they didn't make the original cut.  Not bad, but nothing to knock your socks off either.  Overall, the demos are pretty cool to hear, but nothing that special .  The live tracks sound great, however, and once you hear these tracks, you hear how much Tolki is missed. 

Live Strato is nice, but Tolki is missed.Stratovarius has also just re-released their 2009 Polaris CD, with an additional live CD as well.  This is the first CD without orignal guitarist Timo Tolki, instead featuring his replacement, Matias Kupiainen.  As per the original review, this CD is good but not great.  There are some killer tracks like Winter Skies and a few others, but other than that the CD comes off sort of flat.  The reason for the re-release is to give the fans a taste of what the band sounds like live with their new member.  I have to say, Stratovarius is one of those bands that actually deliver on a live offering.  If you haven't heard Visions Live, you need to go out and buy it today.  A stellar release.

I have to say that I was pretty excited to hear the live CD, since this band always delivers live.  The CD is good and has a nice sound.  I really like the set list for the live CD, because you get a lot of older tunes mixed with a few of the newer ones.  The CD comes off nicely, showing that the band can still do it live with out Tolki.  Actually the tunes off Polaris like Winter Skies and Deep Unknown come off sounding fresher live.  I really like the live CD, because it is a good representation of what the band can do.  As much as I like the live recording, I have to say I miss Tolki's passionate playing.  Matias is a solid guitarist, but does not play with the feeling that Tolki does.  All in all a solid package.


Bottom Line: Stratovarius re-releasing two eras of the band: the old and the new.  If you do not have either release, the band has just made them both a little more enticing.

- Ragman wants his classic Stratovarius back.