HardReviews
by Martin Popoff
www.martinpopoff.com

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Fresh Metal

SEBASTIAN BACH
Angel Down (Get Off My Bach/Caroline)

What's a guy to do? First off, I'm glad he's finally got an album out that looks good, digi, cool cover, even cooler title. But yes, what's a guy to do? What can Baz do that pleases? Turns out when he really tries (put down that joint!), quite a bit, but that's not to say there aren't five songs on here that could have been written by Zakk and slapped on Black Rain. Or the Iommi solo album. Which is all the stuff I don't like, all those circular down-tuned doom patterns that Metal Mike has dished o'er to Halford on Crucible too. 'Live & Die' is a cool example of mixing that with thoughtful arrangement and melody, and 'Back In The Saddle' gets a cool, weird, greasy rhythm. But there's another problem: Bach's band - Mike, DiGiorgio, Jarzombek, producer Roy Z - are too good, playing all ProTooled up, crisp and intricate, which simply comes out the other end wiped clean an' corporate. Stupid though, isn't in? Complaining that a record is too high fidelity and the drummer is like the best you've ever heard. Trouble is though, there are 40 metal albums every year that sound like this now. Anyway, damn, there are some really smart and/or pleasuring songs on here though, including the two ballads as well as high point 'Stabbin' Daggers'. But case in point about theming this review around what we want and what we get: 'You Bring Me Down' is a mix of horrible neo-Sabbath chords, but a gorgeous little glam metal jewel of a pre-chorus, a top-slidin' vocal melody from Baz, as usual, his great leonine vocals, and then at least THREE killer breaks/jams. In other words, a whole lotta riffs sound like something a reality show metal band have to write in a hurry and by committee, but then all the little licks and proggy details crack nice smiles all over the place.
Rating 8

DICTATORS
Every Day Is Saturday (Norton)

It is around here anyway, since this manna from heaven arrived. Talk about a gorgeous rarities pack. This thing gathers up 20 tracks plus four radio spots, documenting the side bits of the Dictators' classic, legendary alternative career path career. For the eyes - a 24 page booklet mostly consisting of rare photos and tiny print essays from this literary band themselves. Funny, perceptive, substantive... here's the history of Ross, Andy, Top Ten and Handsome Dick from the record collectin' geek inside out. To the music, and the biggest bit is most of the Bloodbrothers in demo form. Then there are a few other demos, with 'Sleepin' With The TV On' getting a cool soft-ish treatment. Depending how you count, there are five rarities, and all fine gems jostled into the expected and amused punk-with-chops, punk-with-history and yes, more than occasionally heavy uv metal format. Best are '16 Forever' (offered in two versions - '78 and '02), 'Fireman's Friend' from '73 and a '99 (wilderness years) track called 'Laughing Out Loud', squared off in ...And You style. As well, 'What's Up With That?' is given a Tom Petty-ish turn, and if I may survey the 78 minute stickball terrain for a moment, I suppose I'd have to dock a mark for occasionally shoddy sound. Still, all told, call this a celebration of - and clinic by - a band who really lives loud that very specific definition of rock 'n' roll you only get from the display cards at record fairs and in Goldmine ads that refuse to volunteer email addresses. Scott lives it, breathes in, displays contempt for those who get it wrong or don't understand, and Andy is right there egging him on. These alternate versions underscore the band's knowing, the only equivalent in the wider world being Nick Tosches' tingly "he lighted a cigarette." No thanks to Norton for not sending me one of these and ignoring my emails after I ran probably the first interview-based press on it. F**k it, felt better buying it anyways.
Rating 9

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