Review: Y&T – Down for the Count

I decided to hit random on my music library and see what album came up.  Y&T – Down for the Count, I first had this on cassette and I would listen in my 1976 Vega as I was driving around with friends.  It came out my senior year of high school and listening brings back memories — mostly good.

I’ve always liked Meniketti’s voice and appreciated his guitar work and the first track “Born to Rock” does not disappoint.  Some obligatory mid-eigthies keyboards were added to the tracks (I could do without them) including the next two tracks “All American Boy” and “Anytime at All” — which both had very catchy choruses.

“Anything for Money” was a much more traditional Y&T rocker while still maintaining the catchy chorus.

“Face Like and Angel” has a slower start, but kicks in at the chorus with a decent riff that would have been much better with a harder rock production and mix.  The bridge leading up the solo and the solo makes the song worthwhile.

Kevin Beamish’s production was evident on this album as it was much more poppy than previous Y&T albums and it included their biggest hit “Summertime Girls”.  I have to admit that this is one of my favorite 80s songs — listening to it now, it seems more like a “tool tune” as Adam Corolla calls them.  A song you have cranked up until someone pulls up alongside the car when you promptly turn it down.

“Looks Like Trouble” has the classic Y&T riff structure — bluesy with with excellent vocals — a little bit of an AC/DC vibe on this song with some Van Halen thrown in there (with the Panama break-down).

“Your Mama Don’t Dance” — not sure what they were thinking here.  A very crappy remake of a very bad song.  They even threw in some synth drums in this one (for no apparent reason).  But hey, the guitar solo rocks, so maybe that’s the reason for including it.

“Don’t Tell Me What To Wear” was a bad decision with bad lyrics.  Sounds like they were having difficulty filling out the album and just needed something to throw around another good solo.

Ending the album is “Hands of Time” which is a decent slogger that never seems to really kick in.  Better than the previous two songs, but easily could have been left off.  Feel free to stop listening after “Looks Like Trouble”.

A strong album at the time, the mix is a lot muddier an tinny than their other albums.  With a better mix and overall production I would have liked this album much more.  And “Summertime Girls” is one of the best 80s anthem rockers.

Review: The Atomic Bitchwax — Force Field

It’s great to hear new hard rock.  Parts Queens of the Stone Age and parts Foo Fighters, The Atomic Bitchwax rock out some catchy hard rock tunes.  I can’t say I’ve been a long-term fan of these guys.  I listened to some of their early stuff that didn’t stick with me.  This album will be in heavy rotation for a while as it is more hard rock than their previous efforts.

Recommended for any fans of QoTSA, Foo Fighters or even bands like Monster Magnet.

Bad English / Bad English

Looking back on this album, I see it as the first collaboration between Neal Schon and Deen Castronovo. Deen would later join Neail Schon and Jonathan Cain in Journey (as well as many Schon side projects). This group serves as truly an Adult-Oriented Rock (AOR) super-group. Joining Schon, Cain and Castronovo are Jon Waite and Ricky Phillips. A bridge between The Babys (Waite, Cain and Phillips) and Journey (Schon, Cain, and later Castronovo).

There were a couple radio-friendly singles (similar to Journey) in “When I See You Smile” and “Price of Love”. The latter of which could have been plucked from any Journey album in the 80s or 90s. While these songs are the charting singles, my highlights are the more “rocking” songs like “Rocking Horse”, “Forget Me Not” and “Best of What I Got”.

Like many of the Journey offerings, some of the songs are a little too poppy for my tastes; however, you have to respect the writing, hooks and musicianship. Phillips and Castronovo are a very solid and capable rhythm section – they show it on “Ready When You Are”. Cain and Schon are always solid and Waite’s vocals are strong as expected.

Overall, a very solid AOR offering and this should go down as one of the best AOR albums of the 80s (released at the end of the decade). Schon shines as usual with his excellent guitar-driven AOR, excellent leads throughout (although somewhat misplaced on some of the tracks). Castronovo would continue to show up in my collection as he later played with Ozzy, Steve Vai and G/Z/R – before settling for good in Journey.

Looking back, I was just getting out of the Army when this came out. I remember buying the CD in California and it was in heavy rotation in my Nissan pickup as I drove back from California after being discharged. So it definitely brings back some memories.

Playing it now, it’s impressive that it holds up quite well. It’s not embarrassing to have in the collection and I’m not afraid or ashamed to play it loud. Much of what I listed to back in the late 80s and early 90s wouldn’t hold up nearly as well.

4 out of 5 stars – it serves the genre quite well. The only stinker on the album is the final track “Don’t Walk Away” which was one of only two tracks not written by members of the band – the other being the blockbuster “When I See You Smile”.

Some Music Reviews

I’ve decided to start doing some music reviews on a regular basis.  I want to appreciate my current music collection and share my musical tastes and thoughts.  So, my thought is this: I’m going to randomly select 5 albums per week from my music collection and review them (posting the review on my blog).  Since the selection will be random, there may be some stinkers in there (or even some embarrassing selections).

The goal is to appreciate my music collection and to enhance my writing skills and get the creative juices flowing.

I created a random playlist in iTunes and the first selection up is: Bad English / Bad English.  A stroll down memory lane.  I’ll start listening tonight and my review should be up within the next couple days.

I don’t get it…

Since when is it controversial for the President to speak to public school students? Is the President of the United States so evil that all of our children must be protected from the words he speaks?

I am so discouraged at how our country is handling the current debates. Scare tactics, red herrings, unproven statements being thrown against the wall, it is all disheartening. Whether you agree with the President or not, this is not the way a rational discourse should take place.