Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Tygers Of Pan Tang - Live At Nottingham Rock City

Very cool set of fifteen tracks here recorded way back in '81, on the band's first tour with John Deverill, everybody sick as a dog, in fact (save for future guitar god John Sykes), a NWOBHM whisker away from canceling the show on doctor's orders to do so forthrightly. Recorded on the Rolling Stones mobile, the sound here is a little muddy and lacking in treble, but otherwise all frequencies check in. Live documents the touring set-up for the Spellbound album and consequently mixes tracks primarily from that album with two non-LP tunes plus strafing anthems from the debut, the lone album with Jess Cox on vocals, who is the head cheese at the label that has released this album, ex-manager Tom Noble writing the brief liner notes, ex-guitarist Fred Purser mixing the album at his home studio, where he also recently mixed Skyclad's Folkemon. So there's the best treat y'all: Deverill trying his flu-ridden throat out on Cox numbers, the man rising to the challenge turning in a more than adequate performance, although he himself probably remembers his ailment and thinks it blows. He doesn't exactly know what to do on Money, but everywhere else he exudes that rock starry presence that flashed his tresses briefly across our screen before the band disintegrated a year later. Plus there's Sykes, ever thoughtful, melodic, composed, fun to follow. An interesting experiment on how two very different studio albums can be fused and synthesized by the live environment and the treatment of one lead vocalist.
Rating 7

Samhain - Box Set

As the construction and assemblage of box sets go, this one, six or seven years in the bloody pudding, is only average. But hey, when you're talking an obscurity like Glenn Danzig's fairly overlooked mid-'80s transition band, get happy with what you get. Negatives are quibbles, mainly to do with the booklet, which offers about half the band's lyrics (two albums' worth out of four), very scant liner notes (workmanlike recollections from two drummers), but quite a bit of good photography. The comic book is a little er, flimsy as well, physically and intellectually, but then there's an acceptable video (two shows) and finally - and this is the good part - all of the band's output, four (or three and a half) albums plus a live disc, called a double, but really only a single of proper CD length. The music alone makes this big sucka worth it though, a bunch of rare albums presented in quite good remaster quality, charting a career that is exciting for its agitated, electric cuspness, Samhain being more Anglo new wave circa '78 than America's often unimaginative punk expressions, stuck art-damaged between the B-movie charm of The Misfits and the daunting metal majesty of Danzig. And the man's voice. Geez. It rules, and on this material, it is a little less rule-bound, free to roam the underground as Glenn's unstudied backing noise merchants stiffly lock up a bat cave vibe that creeps you out after five bloody discs of the stuff. Likely the last word on Samhain, the final resplendent spot you should stop at (whenever you are ready) to check off the acquisition and ingestion of this particularly tragically cool corner of rock history, one that defies categories, something Danzig has always figured out how to do. Three critically acclaimed bands with big catalogues. You don't see that every Hallow's Eve. Go prowl www.emaginemusic.com for more info. Point total reflects comparisons with what a box could be.
Rating 6.5

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