Influenced, Music, My Stories

Spin Review

I always like reading reviews and different people’s takes on new albums from artists.

In this Spin Review from August 1989, the reviewer decided its good practice to group, “In Your Face” from Kingdom Come (on Polydor), Blue Murder’s self-titled debut (on Geffen) and Badlands self-titled debut (on Atlantic). He’s probably thinking, why waste print space on three separate reviews when he can do it quicker with one review and have some fun with it.

So here we go with a Spin Review from Jon Young in italics.

“Sales figures suggest otherwise but heavy metal can be as quaint as doo wop or rockabilly. The endless shouting about loose ladies and glories of the road, punctuated by sweaty guitars, recalls a more innocent era, especially after the revisionist antics of Metallica and other killjoys.

Which probably matters not a whit to the innocent, hard-working dudes of Kingdom Come, Blue Murder and Badlands. They’re too busy pursuing “the blazing heart of rock and roll” (to quote KC’s Lenny Wolf).”

Things changed by 1989.

The reviewers of music had been exposed to so many records from “so many similar” sounding bands, that everything would have sounded the same to them. And their reviews started to reflect the sameness in a scathing way. Then again, controversy always got people’s attention, so maybe it was their way to get some traction.

Also this review mentions the revisionist antics of Metallica, who had a line of journalists eager to rewrite music history on their behalf and claim that every album from Metallica swept all that came before and led the way for so many different styles of music, when in fact, the first two albums “Kill Em All” and “Ride The Lightning” had a cult following but were ignored by the larger music buying public. It took the Ozzman to take em on tour for the “Master Of Puppets” album for them to begin commence their crossover.

“Ridiculed last year for the Led Zeppelin fixation, Kingdom Come seizes he moment to refute the doubters on their sophomore effort; “In Your Face” kicks off with “Do You Like It”, a churning rave up totally unlike Zep. It’s also the dullest cut of the bunch.

After this bold departure we’re happily back to the sincerest form of flattery, as Lenny Wolf portrays Robert Plant to a fare-thee-well, expertly replication his idol’s sighs, moans and grunt.

If only he had some flair – you need real style to sing convincingly about lemon squeezes and big legged woman, after all. His bandmates lack the chops to follow suit, contenting themselves with generic plodding. When lead guitarist Danny Stag finally summons up the nerve to try a Pagesque solo on “Perfect O”, you’ll want to have a copy of “Houses Of The Holy” handy as an antidote.”

The Wolfster might have glanced his eyeballs over this review, because he fired his whole band soon after, to replace them with German musicians. Or maybe it was a move for money’s sake as Lenny Wolf was the one who got the recording contract.

“At least Kingdom Come has a vision, albeit an unoriginal one.

The aimless Blue Murder exudes the unmistakable aroma of instant disaster. Decked out in swashbuckler gear from Adam Ant’s rummage sale, stone-faced vets John Sykes (Whitesnake), Tony Franklin (The Firm) and Carmine Appice (Vanilla Fudge, Beck, etc) raise a ruckus to little effect.

Blame front man Sykes, who tries to touch every base imaginable and ends up nowhere. A shrill vocalist and hyperactive guitarist, he ranges from thudding sword and sorcery epics reminiscent of Rainbow (“Valley Of The Kings”) to bloated pop tailored for airplay in hell (“Jelly Roll”).

Sykes hits a ghastly pinnacle of sorts on the weepy “Out Of Love”, seven minutes of aggressive self-pity guaranteed to inspire fond thoughts of Steve Perry and Journey.

No about these gents will move on to more rewarding gigs, Appice remains a sharp drummer, though he looks too old for this nonsense and hide Blue Murder at the bottom of the resume.”

The pirate look was a massive screw up for Blue Murder. It was so out of touch with everything. Even Dio, who was sort of into that black clothed sorcerer look, was moving towards street clothing, which Guns N Roses and Motley started with “Appetite” and “Girls”. I agree with the review that the sound was big and bloated, and that is where our agreeance ends. The debut album was exactly what my ear drums needed.

“The Badlands boys make a show of their own inauspicious trappings; they’ve got a lame motto (“Feels so Good to be so Bad”) and singer Ray Gillen claims credit for blues harp. I doubt the guy ever studied with James Cotton.

Well, shut my mouth, cause their self-titled debut is hot stuff.

Led by guitarist Jake E.Lee, who paid dues with Ozzy Osbourne, the lads turn the usual ingredients into big, beaty entertainment, part stomping metal and part belch-rock in the spirt of early Bad Company. “Dreams In The Dark” and “Seasons” qualify for actual tunes, not just inflated riffs and Lee adds welcome shades of color here and there, augmenting the electric guitars with dobro, sitar, mandolin and other exotica.

A genuinely inventive guitarist, he really makes his strings talk on the struttin, “Rumblin’ Train” and the rip-snortin’ “Dancing On The Edge”.

After the muddled clichés of their peers, Badlands’ clean attack is inviting. There’s more constructive sounds around, but never underestimate the pleasures of good trash. Now ‘scuse me while I boogie one time.”

The Badlands debut is a killer debut. There isn’t a bad song on it, except for the egos, which Eric Singer more or less alluded to when he left because the band environment wasn’t to his liking.

And it (along with Voodoo Highway) will never be on a streaming service as the Atlantic Reps have killed it, due to the daughter of one of their contracting the HIV virus from Ray Gillen.

But since Jake E. Lee is on Frontiers, expect a re-recording to happen as Frontiers President Serafino Perugino, is trying to get all the artists on his roster to re-record their best songs (especially the artists who made it big during the 70’s and 80s) so Frontiers can lock up these versions for at least another 100 years under Copyright.

And for the record, all three records are excellent.

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7 thoughts on “Spin Review

  1. All three records were great Pete.
    Back than those Asshats were getting all there stuff for free. I never paid attention to music reviews.
    Badlands I bought as it featured Jake.
    Blue Murder I bought as it had Sykes
    Kingdom Come I bought as I lied the debut and I bought that as Bob Rock was dialing it in.

  2. That reviewer couldn’t be more wrong. I would take all those album any day against almost any other album of that time. Blue Murder is my fav of the three. Great post as I liked butting your comments against the reviewer. Cool idea.

  3. Henrik says:

    I picked Badlands s/t today from the post office where it had been shelved for weeks due to COVID19. Of course it’s not an original pressing due to reasons said in above post, but hey, if you cannot get hold of the original stuff it’s better get a Russian bootleg than nothing.

    Damn, I purchased the original LP version whilst I was working as a youth leader in 1989. My intention were 50 % selfish and 50 % noble-minded as I thought it would be a nice alternative to kids who were mostly listening Metallica/Anthrax/Megadeth.

    Did not know much about the band but if they have Jake E. Lee on guitar they surely deserve some attention. Rightly so.

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