by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Jag Panzer - Decade Of The Nail-Spiked Bat
(Century Media)

Jag Panzer could have easily been a revered historical footnote, but strangely, they are now reconstituted, Harry and crew recording and touring vigourously to the point of the band being downright "available." It's hard to live down the history of the band's '84 Ample Destruction full-length debut though, and in honour of that (and the 20th anniversary of the lesser known Tyrants EP), the band have re-recorded a total of 11 rarities from those two classics, plus other assorted rare - and even non-issued/aborted - tracks from the band's early days. What falls out of the thing is a cohesive 2CD (85 minute) collection that demonstrates the band's unwavering and true metal vision, topped by just a sliver of eye-winked irony in the voice and demeanor of the Colorado air raid siren at the spiked helm. As well, one can appreciate the sturdiness of these songs, Manowar-hardened anthems that are iced by improved percussion performances and leads that blaze more than on the old originals. Production isn't exactly a huge improvement though (granted, Jag Panzer never sucked in this department), Decade going for a warm, treble-diminished sound that emphasizes the front and centre vibe of the band's rhythm section and the stark stop/starting rhythms they employ. The booklet rules as well, with detailed explanations attached to each track, and crappy so-metal cover art that was to be used back in '85, now unearthed for a good laugh.
Rating 8

Living Colour - Collideoscope

Man, since the freakin' debut, I've been waiting for Living Colour to make another listenable album. I quite (warily?) embraced that album (mainly the hits - how gay, eh?), loved the Van Halen-esque scattershot of the band's tossed vibe (fortunately in check on the debut), and fondly remember seeing the neon-bedecked African Americans back up the Stones one sunny day in front of 80,000 Torontonians. Anyhow, those waiting for Landlord Part II can wait another year of beer, 'cos Collideoscope is sadly another grey, ecru, khaki, brown collection of anti-songs, Living Colour proudly and stupidly maintaining their career-destroying contempt at hooks, groove, production, soundfill. Vernon Reid can go make skronk records with high-minders all he likes, but he can't write a riff to save his life. Mid-record, we get an awful three-legged, irritatingly casual cover of Back In Black that is indicative of the band's noisy, itchy sound as well as a stunning lack of groove. I'll reserve judgment on the whole "black men can't rock" thing... some can, although very few even try, which is really what people mean when they say that. But fact is, Living Colour are pretty bad ambassadors for the cause: all they can do is make bad decisions which result in murky noise.
Rating 4

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