HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

The Illuminati - The Illuminati
(Liquor And Poker)

These Toronto stoner rock darlings have had a strange but, er, illuminated career thus far with lots of way-big press and confusing fits and starts and now the reissue of their EP, remastered, embossed card sleeve with video and lyrics, sold for a cheap three bucks. It's six tracks at 16 minutes, but it feels nicely rich and full-bodied. First off, like Fireball Ministry, there's a strange and fer sure deliberate choice to turn off the treble. One surmises this forensic archival rock band wanted it to sound not only like a record on Columbia from '72, but a shoddy one. The songs are so cool though, this whole hillbilly Thin Lizzy thing making sense, if you heavy it up with the Sabbath always (somewhat tiringly) necessary to make mod stoner rock loud enough to be heard. Raging Slab is a good comparative, especially come gleeful hoe-down On My Way Back Home... Again, with All The Time In The World being a highlight with its faint Thin Lizzy heartbeat made bulbous and bursting and intrusive. Hell, all of these are a blast, all showing a different cowboy fringe side of the '70s, not a duffer among them. The label will be issuing the full-length this spring. Cop to the convoluted buzz band release schedule of these hirsute power trio rockers and realize that the buzz is certifiably justified. Grade-wise, I'da gone 9 I suppose, but I find a hard time giving 16 minutes of anything a 9.
Rating 8.5

David A. Bene - Randy Rhoads: A Life
(Empire 4/roxxrecords.com)

Only 300 of this made, so get to it - email the author at dandjbene@juno.com for more. Now, what this is is an 8 1/2" x 11" format book at 148 pages double-spaced and no pictures. Essentially, the author admits it's an upscale manuscript designed to get a book deal. Which may or may not happen, so I recommend buying it now. The content you ask? Well, Randy Rhoads: A Life is a solid read, well-written, deeply researched but somewhat strange in that even though it is obvious the author did many interviews, he's decided to paraphrase and essentially tell the story himself, disseminating the story that way. My one recommendation re improving the thing would be to massage back in a bunch of the quotes in place of the paraphrasing, even if this was a fine (if quick) read, one from which I learned a ton of trivia. Not overly fan-ish, save for the Foreword in which that's allowed, Bene proves himself a dependable, efficient writer, and one who understands his subject. Particularly interesting is the atmosphere created when Bene talks about how Quiet Riot futzed about looking for a style while nemesis Van Halen blew up big. Good business stuff as well, along with a number of punches not pulled (even if the assertion of Randy being no angel is a bit of a fizzle...). Still, I recommend this as a sturdy look at this artist's brief life, as long as you fine readers don't wade in looking for photos or classy layout or a substantial word count.
Rating 7

Hard Reviews Page 4