TOKYO BLADE: Knights Of The Blade: 4 Disc Box Set

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Tokyo Blade originally formed in 1982, releasing their self-titled debut in 1983. They formed around guitarist Andy Boulton, he was joined on their debut by Alan Marsh on lead vocals, John Wiggins on guitar, Andy Robbins on bass and Steve Pierce on drums, making a significant impact on the burgeoning NWOBHM scene that had been popularized by Iron Maiden, Saxon, Tygers Of Pan Tang and Def Leppard, as well as finding support in the pages of Kerrang! magazine. This release consists of a four Disc box set of their first three albums, many rare EPs, singles and non-album cuts from the early 1980s, including tracks from “The Cave Sessions”, “Undercover Honeymoon” 12”, “Midnight Rendezvous” EP and “Madame Guillotine” EP. Featuring lengthy and detailed liner notes from note NWOBHM and Tokyo Blade expert John Tucker

Tokyo Blade issued their debut recording in 1983, which was self-titled in the United Kingdom, and titled Midnight Rendezvous everywhere else. The album is classic metal with high-pitched vocals that aren’t too far into the stratosphere like some bands, they are a nice mix of highs and mid-level, the guitar rips throughout the album, the drumming is powerful, and the bass is heavy. The band really sounds like they were having a great time n the studio making this album, with youthful exuberance just dripping from the songs. The songs are catchy and should have been playing out of everyone’s speakers loud. I really liked “Powergame,” “Break The Chains, ” Killer City,” “Liar,” and “Sunrise In Tokyo.” For a first album, you don’t get much better than this.

The Night Of The Blade album arrived a year later, Andy Wrighton having replaced Robbins while Marsh had also left the band. The band was trying to find a new singer for their tour and got lucky with what was supposed to be the temporary throat of Vicki James Wright, but they decided to keep him as singer for the next album. His vocals were a bit more commercial sounding, but the songs were still hard and heavy. Again, the band played tight and really matured since their first album. Songs “Someone To Love,” “Night Of The Blade,” the killer “Rock Me To The Limit,” “Love Struck,” and the more commercial sounding “Lightning Strikes (Straight Through the Heart),” stand out after all of these years.

Blackhearts & Jaded Spades retains the power and singer from the previous album and sounds a bit more polished, but not wimpy. You could hear the band moving towards the huge American market with the added keyboards and more melody than on previous albums. Who can blame them? The market in America was something that pretty much every band wanted to break in and tour and be played on MTV during this period. The hard and heavy stuff was more on underground radio and bands knew where the money was; playing more melodic, adding a touch of keyboards and making the band more in tune with the big bands at the time like Iron Maiden, and Motley Crue. “Dirty Faced Angels,” “Make It Through The Night,” “Always,” are a trio of killer songs, “Loving You Is An Easy Thing To Do” is a blues based track that has a fantastic groove and should have been huge on the radio, “Undercover Honeymoon” gets things back a little heavier, then you get the power ballad “You Are The Heart,” which I could see being thrown in the mix at a high school dance back then, “Blackhearts And Jaded Spades,” “Tough Guys Tumble” get the hard rocking going again, until you come to another power ballad, “Dancing In Blue Moonlight,” which now starts to be a little much, and happily, they end the album with two blistering songs “Playroom Of Poison Dreams,” and “Monkeys Blood.” Not perfect, but still a great album that has more than enough metal to make you happy.

The fourth CD is a nineteen track collection of the band’s singles and EPs.  All of these songs were previously issued on the band’s various reissues, and it’s great to have them all together on a separate disc. This ably illustrates the musical evolution Tokyo Blade underwent from the start of the career, until their third album. Going from a harder sounding band to a more slick and commercial sound, while still retaining the great songs and playing that made you pick up the first album.

With the great liner notes, replica album sleeves and the fantastic music on the four discs, you really can’t go wrong with this purchase. The band definitely is on fire on these albums and even though they still are putting out albums now, the young, hard-edged sound of their hunger is a treasure to behold.

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THE SURVIVAL CODE – Broken Strings EP

This trio from London, England was founded back in 2011 and has released their newest EP that has three songs of powerful modern hard rock. They previously released the full length MMXV in 2015 and a four song EP back in 2012.

First song “Broken Strings” have a tight, heavy sound that has an infectious sound that gets your head nodding and your blood pumping and makes you want to bang your head furiously and shout along with the band. A great first song to start this EP and it made it very difficult to stop playing it over and over again. “One” keeps the high energy going, but just down a notch from the first song. The song is every bit as crunchy and had as the previous and is actually a bit more melodic, but will still kick your ass. “Lost Cause” is a slower song, but not a slow song, no ballad here kids, instead you get a song that has feeling and emotion, but doesn’t get wimpy. The song has a bite to it and thick playing that will get you rocking and gives a nice finish to this all too short EP.

The band really does a great job showing us the ability that they have to write and perform songs that will stand out from the pack and get your ears to a happy place. I am looking forward to hearing a complete album from them in the future and will be looking for their previous releases.

Also posted on: http://ripplemusic.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-survival-code-broken-strings-ep.html

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THOR: Keep The Dogs Away: Deluxe

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Thor started out as a concept band in 1973. They used the names “Thor,” “Centaur” and “Mikl Body Rock.” These entities were the brainchild of Jon Mikl Thor, a vocalist, musician and body building champion who won titles such as Mr. USA and Mr. Canada. He decided to combine muscle with music and in 1977, they released their debut album Keep the Dogs Away.

This is a remastered and greatly expanded version of that debut album, one that I remember seeing not long after it came out in a record store and bought it because it looked cool, at least to a younger me, and my mom loved body builders and Dobermans. I took it home, showed my mom who loved the cover, loved the cover…she really did, and put it on. It was a bit lighter in the metal, but still had a cool hard rock sound that we both liked a lot. The title track really stuck in my head, from then until I got this CD and heard it again. My mom owned a sub store called Trudy’s Subs and she put that poster up in her store, lots of people bought food there, so I’m sure she helped sell a few copies of the album with her poster placement. So now I sit and listen to the album again after all these years and I’m surprised that it still sounds good, a bit of the times, but still has the hooks and the fun that carries it. I was really surprised at the bonus songs the most. If you just listen to the regular album, it’s full of catchy hard rock, but the bonus songs are a mix of glam rock and punky new wave. I loved the bonus disc so much because it gave me a new side of Thor that I never knew and these songs are amazing. The playing is tight, it sounds like everyone was having fun and the songs could fool people into thinking that they were underground hits back in the old days…lol. The remastering is fantastic with the sound being clear, and clean, the booklet has pictures from when the album came out, information about the album and…a reproduction of the poster that captured my mom so long ago. Not only do you get two CDs, but you get a DVD with a concert from 1980 that is fun to watch. How can you go wrong?

I really am happy that this has been released again, and with so much added to it, giving everyone a chance to see where Thor came from. This brought back great memories for me, hopefully if you are a fan, it will for you as well, and if you are trying just curious, grab this one today! This is a thunder-god that will slay you with melody, not lightning…thank Odin for that!

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THE DONNAS: Spend The Night

Spend the Night is the fifth studio album and major label debut by The Donnas, originally released in 2002 on Atlantic Records. It was the band’s first charting record on the Billboard Hot 200, peaking at #62, and features their most successful single, “Take It Off,” which peaked at #19 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. Cherry Red Records has remastered the album and added five bonus tracks: “Hyperactive,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Machine,” “Mama’s Boy,” “Play My Game” and “Backstage,” the latter taken from the soundtrack to the remake of the movie Freaky Friday.

Of course being a male and loving hard-hitting music, such as punk, metal and hard rock, as well as four attractive women in the band, (oh Maya!), I was already a fan when this originally came out and was looking forward to it. It was a bit different from their older albums, a touch of gloss here, a bit more rock, less punk, but all in all, I really liked it a lot. Now we have the re-release with added songs and I like it as much, if not just a bit more than I did at first. I haven’t listened to it in a while, so it was great to hear the album again, and rock out to the tracks that I remembered and loved from the past. The extra tracks from soundtracks and b-sides is a cool bonus since I now don’t have to buy a few soundtracks that I would have had to buy just for their song being on it. The booklet is a great touch, giving you background about the band and the process of putting this out back in 2002. The band plays tight and the vibe is hard rock with touches of metal and punk, but with enough gloss to make it shine, not overpower the songs and the playing. It has a sameness throughout, but again, not in a bad way, the way a Ramones/AC/DC/Joan Jett album has a sound that carries the entire album and makes you instantly recognize them. A feeling of familiarity and warmth that you crave and love.

The great sound, the added tracks, and the booklet make this a definite buy, as well as it just being a damn good album too. I really wish that they would get back into the studio and give us a new album, the world isn’t the same without them. In the mean time, put this on, crank it up and spend the night with them, they might scare you a bit, but oh, what a night indeed.

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SAINT BLASPHEMER: Simon Templar

This four-piece from Santa Ana, California plays a mix of hard rock and alternative and consists of Thomas Monroe (vocals), John Castellon (guitar), Steve Shell (bass), and Steve Ybarra (drums). This is the debut five-song EP of this band that has been playing together since February 2016.

First song “Nullify” is a hard rock song talking about the effects of drug addiction and dying…subtle way to start off? Hell no! This is the raw sound of a band giving you their heart on their sleeve about something that may be difficult to hear, but needs to be heard. “Simon Templar” is a slower song with a ton of angst and an almost Ozzy feel to it about someone surviving the lost of someone from drugs. What a one-two punch on this EP so far. “Scarecrow” has intense guitar riffs and lyrics that go into more of the effects of drug addiction. The song just bludgeons your senses and is so tight and heavy that it will rip your ears off. “A Perfect Rose” has a melancholy feel about it and one of the best vocal performances on the album. The song has peaks and valleys that bring the intensity up and down and keeps you on a rollercoaster ride that you don’t want to stop. “Breaking Just To Bend” ends the album on a high note, with the most straight forward hard rock song that will get you head banging and your heart racing. The song has a great beat and the bass shines through

This is one hell of a debut EP, with lyrics about the effects of drugs and how bad it is for those left behind and what they have to deal with. This is something that most bands don’t and can’t handle well, but this was a masterpiece of lyrics and thoughts…plus the playing is pretty damn good too.

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DIGITAL ORDER:On Our Way

This band from Perth, Australia say that they are similar to Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but they remind me more of Jane’s Addiction with the vocals and the overall sound. There is a touch of late ’60s, early ’70s hard rock mixed in, but mostly it could have been part of the alternative rock sound of the early ’90s…not a bad thing at all.

This song has heavy guitars, electronics, soulful vocals and soft touches that mesh together to create a sound that makes them seem familiar, but still fresh at the same time. The band comprises of Shane Ariti (Vocals), Will Cruz (Keys/ Guitar), Henry Gunson (Drums) and Andy Beerli (Guitar), and they have put out a song that while being super short, under three minutes, they fill it with a lot of textures and sounds that will keep you enthralled. The sound goes between soft and acoustic to becoming a bombastic anthem that will thrill you.

If this is what they are capable of doing, and with such a short song, all I can say is……WOW! This is a band that will grab you attention, hold it and make you want to hear more from them.

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TED NUGENT: Free For All

Free For All is the second solo album from Ted Nugent and it was a different beast in a lot of ways from his first album. As the recording of the album commenced, rhythm guitarist and lead vocalist Derek St. Holmes left the band, citing growing personal and creative conflicts with Nugent. Two solid years of living together on the road had taken its toll on the relationship.as well, St. Holmes was unhappy with Tom Werman’s production, saying that the producer was watering down the band’s sound. A full year before Bat Out Of Hell brought him international success, vocalist Meat Loaf was brought in by producer Werman to sing on the album. Meat Loaf was paid the sum of $1000 for his contributions to the album, which included crafting all of the vocal arrangements and two days of recording sessions. St. Holmes returned to the group after the album’s release, performing on the subsequent tour. Band management asked him to return at the request of Epic Records.

Kicking things off with the title track, the band gets started on rocking out and the song has Nugent playing some great guitar and the band sounding tighter than the first album. The next song, “Dog Eat Dog” was a single and was a great choice with the blazing guitar work, the smooth vocals from St, Holmes and the menacing sound that the band manages to put forth. With all of this, plus a great chorus, this makes for one of the best songs on the record. With “Writing On The Wall,” we get to hear Mr Loaf doing vocals and he actually fits in really well with the band, nothing like the over the top performance on his own work, instead you get a great performance from him that will blow you away. The album is actually more varied and works really well, with three different vocalists, you would think that it would sound disjointed, but the vocalists all do a great job on their songs. “Street Rats” is another song that is crunchy hard rock that should have been a single and is an ear worm for sure. “Together” is a slower song that is on the cusp of being exactly what you think of when you hear the name Meat Loaf, overblown and pompous, the only thing that saves the song is the amazing playing from the band. Thankfully, the last three songs are all rockers that take the bad taste from “Together” and coat your ears with the right medicine, hard rock deliciousness. Again, this album has been remastered and sounds amazing, so clear and clean, plus you get that cool green vinyl too.

Album number two from uncle Ted and you are still in the midst of the golden years, a band that is on top of their game and getting tighter and hungrier for the charts. Luckily, the band never went and tried to suck up to the pop charts, they just played what they loved…..hard rock, no frills and with heart and soul.

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