Van Halen: Van Halen

Thanks for tuning into The Sonic Collective! It’s once again my turn to pick, and for the month of February, 2020, I’ve chosen for us to review Van Halen’s Diamond-Certified eponymous debut album, Van Halen.

Hailing from Pasadena, the band played a number of gigs in the mid to late 70s, eventually catching the attention of two executives from Warner Bros. A deal was struck, and Van Halen entered the studio in 1977, basically taking their live show and tracking it out over the course of a couple of weeks at a cost of around $40,000. Van Halen was released in February of 1978, and almost immediately began to make an impact on the charts. Fans loved it, while certain high-profile critics panned it. But the critics were, of course, wrong. The album reached #19 on the top 200 chart, and before 1978 had come to an end, it had already attained Platinum status from the RIAA.

The legacy of Van Halen is still present 42+ years onward. Their sound defined what hard rock / heavy metal would be for the next decade. It spun off a number of well-known singles, including “You Really Got Me”, “Running With The Devil”, and “Jaimie’s Cryin’”.  Eddie Van Halen would achieve god-like status among guitarists for his innovative approach to his instrument, and David Lee Roth is often praised for his stylish, bombastic, and energetic personality as the band’s frontman. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Let’s dive in and see where it all started this month!

Wikipedia: Van Halen (Band)

Wikipedia: Van Halen (Album)

Spotify: Van Halen (Album)

Sweet 300zx commercial from 1996 featuring You Really Got Me

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison Review

Please read Darren Scott’s pick for Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison before reading and listening to our reviews below.

Quick Summary: 

Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
  • Would we recommend?
  • Influence us and our tastes?
  • Worth the hype?
4.4

Summary and Overall Score

Darren Scott’s selection of Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison was well received by the group as we kicked off our round of live album selections. This classic album of Cash’s was just the type of album he needed as he had been recovering from addiction issues and was out of the spotlight for a few years. The atmosphere of the prison and the raw energy that this album produced was awesome. Just when you think Johnny cash couldn’t get any cooler, he did.
Though some of us were not the biggest country music fans and were not drawn to this music in our younger years, we all agreed that this album was great and a must listen. Definitely listen to the legacy edition. Please listen to our audio review and enjoy-we sure did!


Our Individual Review Scores
Darren Scott:
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype? 5
Scott Coates:
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype?: 5
Scott Gregory:
Overall opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 5
Alain DuPuis:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
Greg Jorgensen:
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype? 4

Robert Johnson: King Of The Delta Blues Singers

This months pick was hard for me. As there are 5 in our group now it is only every 5 months that your pick comes up again. It actually causes me anxiety to make a pick for a few reasons. Namely, you don’t want to pick a dud and you always want to honour a great musician. I also fret about those I don’t pick.
Like everyone else, I was saddened about the passing of Prince and I thought that perhaps I should pick one of his albums this month. I decided not to, though I am sure we will get to such a great artist.
I decided to go another route. Back, way back, to the very roots of rock itself. The Blues.
I have always like the blues and I own many great blues albums. However, I do not own one Robert Johnson song. After researching the most influential blues albums it was clear that I should choose this particular Robert Johnson piece.

robert2It was picked as the 27th greatest album of all time by Rolling Stone. The album is actually a compilation of songs recorded in 2 sessions in 1936 and 1937. These songs were released as singles back then but someone finally decided to put them all together. Usually we say no compilations for our picks but this isn’t some “Best of..” crap, this is just the first time it was financially possible to have a collection like this released. The list of people that were influenced by this album is literally endless but Keith Richards and Jimmy Page stand out. These sounds are literally the foundation that all rock, alt-rock, metal, punk were built on. Wow.
Though I am sure I will recognize some of the songs I am anxious and excited to listen to this month’s pick and to the icon that is Robert Johnson. I hope you enjoy this pick. Be sure to come back and read our reviews on the 1st of June.
Links:
Official Website
Wikepedia Page
Vanity Fair Article about his strange short life
Other Blues Masters I considered:
Howlin’ Wolf
Muddy Waters
John Lee Hooker
B.B King
Enjoy
Darren Scott

Review of Chantal Kreviazuk: Colour Moving and Still

Please read Scott Gregory’s selection article of Chantal Kreviazuk: Colour Moving and Still before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
Maybe our collective group needed a break after reviewing Bat out of Hell because this easy-listening pick was just what we needed to chill out, relax, and for some of us, get the nasty taste of Meat Loaf out of our heads.
The five of us were similar in our reviews this month but for different reasons, but we all had to admit that Chantal’s voice, music, songwriting and beauty of her personality won us over. Colour, Moving and Still was a worthy addition to the amazing women vocalists of Canada in the 90s and her philanthropy and the use of her fame for good is truly noble. Check out what else we had to say and put on this album and chill out while you read.
What was cool about this album:

  • It’s a beautifully written, relaxing album that makes you feel good.
  • The more we learned about Chantal, the more we fell in love with her. So much talent and so much giving back. Thanks Chantal.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • With exception of Scott Gregory we all commented that we usually don’t listen to albums that are in the adult contemporary, easy-listening genre.
  • As per the previous point, our scores for how this particular album influenced us was low as we just didn’t listen to this type of music 20 years ago.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would we recommend?: 4
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review
I consider Chantal Kreviazuk one of Canada’s best contemporary singer/songwriters. And while I remember her mostly from a childhood filled with Much Music videos, these days it’s her humanitarian work and candid social media presence that’s drawn me in. That great musician just happened to be an all-around great person too! With that in mind, my 24 year-old awkward college-self finally found the courage to ask her second album out on a date.
The composition on this album is amazing. As much as I love the piano, I need it to either be crazy-brash like we saw on Meatloaf Bat out of Hell, or it needs to be in perfect harmony to avoid the instrumental version of lead-singer-disease. I’ve listened a bunch of times, and I can’t pick out anywhere she sells out a song to showcase her (amazing) piano skills.
I can’t help but love the whole album, because you can clearly feel it as a whole. I find myself stopping and thinking about these songs. Thinking about the choice in transitions, spikes and ebbs in emotion. I also find myself stopping in songs like Soul Searching trying to figure out just how to classify what I can only describe as the “shimmy shimmy” percussion going on, and how it’s defied any other classification.
While the entire album peels my heart and mind back in layers, I’ve pulled out the three songs that stand out for their own reasons:
Eve
I’ve spent an entire month with this song and I still don’t know exactly what is going on here! The opening haunts me. Like haunts me. I’m talking like instant hair standing up and mind at attention feelings. I’ve poured over the lyrics and I’ve moved from interpretations of loss of a child to loss of childhood, narrator to sibling looking in. I really need to know what she is forgiving!!! This song is costing me sleep and sanity. You should really check it out.
Until We Die
This song struck me as even more relevant today than it could have been 17 years ago. With far more people meeting online, be it through games, social media or dating sites, and the ease with which one can maintain a relationship through cheap phone, Skype, and other services, there are far more people going through the beautiful torture of a long distance relationship. I could clearly remember the angst and exaggerated highs and lows that “being here for you but not being there for you” can bring. I can only see this song becoming more powerful as time goes on.
Before you
When this single dropped, I was spellbound watching this video on Much Music. She was beautiful, gifted musically and the lyrics were simultaneously the love letter I hoped I’d one day receive from a woman and a checklist of what to do to get it. The joy just oozes out of every layer of this song. Listening to it again after all these years, I can safely say the battle of 1994 has finally been decided, Chantal has won the long-game against Raine and Before You has replaced Starseed on my shower karaoke rotation. Sorry man, it was a good run.
My review’s been pretty light on the instrumental or production sides, which is likely a byproduct of the emotional response I had. Overall I love the slow, groovy undertones that run through a large part of the album. I’m familiar with some of Jay Joyce’s later work with the Wallflowers and Cage the Elephant and you can see his influence production here. If you’re looking for a timeless, soul-searching, dynamic and challenging album from a duo of master musicians and producers, you’re going to love this one.
The numbers
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype: 5
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
When this pick was put up on the website, it was a nice surprise. Chantal Kreviazuk is a name I haven’t heard, nor thought about, in years. To put a fine point on it, not since 1999, when Colour Moving and Still came out. That was 2 years before I moved to Thailand and largely left Canadian pop culture behind me, so it’s no surprise that she hasn’t played a role in the intervening years.
But I remember the singles from this album being on the radio all the time, and liked them a lot. I’d never listened to the whole album, so it was an interesting one for me. That being said – despite Kreviazuk’s gorgeous voice, powerful vocals, and clear songwriting talent, adult contemporary just isn’t a genre I ever really got into, and this album isn’t any different.
Before You was the big hit on CMaS, and it’s a beautiful song with a fantastic hook – I’ve actually been singing it in my head for the past 3 weeks. I do remember listening to CJ92 and rocking out to this one quite happily on my bright yellow Sony walkman, and it was a pleasure to listen to again. None of the other songs, however, really blew my (ahem) hair back. Dear Life was a nice, peppy listen, and Far Away had some gorgeous vocals, especially near the end.
I’m sure I won’t be the only one to say this, but I can’t help but get a secondary Alanis vibe from the whole shebang. That’s not saying it’s because Kreviazuk is any less or more of a songwriter/performer, or that Canadians shouldn’t be any less proud that she’s one of ours, but any album from the mid-to-late 90s from a Canadian female singer is likely to be compared to Morisette – and simply by the fact that Jagged Little Pill was such a juggernaut, any album from the same or similar genre will likely be overshadowed.
Beyond that, I found CMaS to be a very nice album, but nothing that really grabbed me in any notable way.
Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 3
Influenced our tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 3
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
This was a really tough review for me. I don’t often deliberately listen to anything that qualifies as “adult contemporary”. The genre has just never really moved the needle for me. When Scott listed this album as his pick for the month, I was eager to give it a listen, but quickly found myself really struggling to get into it. It took quite a few repeats before I started to really appreciate it.
Chantal is clearly a very talented singer / songwriter. Each track has a unique sound, which is actually not a compliment I can bestow on at least half the albums I’ve reviewed for the Sonic Collective. The album comes together really well. Props to the production team, they did a really great job with bringing these songs together and making them each sound unique but cohesive. I even like how the tracks are arranged, mixing it up between the slower songs and the high-energy songs.
Souls won me over, becoming my favourite track on the album, despite the fact I really didn’t like it the first few times I heard it. That segue from a really pretty ambient intro, quietly building into a verse driven by an arpeggiated piano, and then rising into a loud chorus led by strong vocals really sealed it for me.
Several other songs make the cut for me too, such as Dear Life, a fun 90’s alt-rock-ish-sounding take on a relationship on the rocks, and Soul Searching, a jazzy track that could have just as easily found a home on Alanis Morisette’s album Jagged Little Pill – Trust me, that’s meant as a big compliment.
I wasn’t a fan of Before You back in 1999 when it made waves as a hit single and I was a closed-minded metalhead, but I’m sad to report it still hasn’t won me over. The song Until We Die also didn’t turn my crank. I have always had trouble getting into slow sappy piano ballads, and I struggled with this one all month, despite really trying. (Ironically, it seamlessly transitions right into Souls, which I previously mentioned as being favourite track.)
Final thoughts
As the month progressed, I went from being really eager to give Colour Moving And Still a chance, to having a lot of trouble making it through the whole thing without giving up, but it eventually grew on me as a whole, and I found myself gravitating towards several tracks in particular. The production on the album is really well done. I like the subtle reverb used on the vocals, the instruments – particularly the piano – sound rock solid, and I really like the variances in dynamic range found on most of the tracks. Sonically, this is a really really good album. Everything is tight without being overproduced. There’s a very warm, human feel to it.
My biggest barrier to really LOVING the album is my general aversion to sappy, stripped-down ballads, of which Colour has a fair number. It’s totally a subjective thing, but I’m just not there yet. Maybe one day down the road, I’ll revisit it and find that my tastes have changed.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3.5
 
smcoates-About-Picture-200x300
Scott Coates’s Review
While I semi-regularly listen to lighter pop music, Chantal Kreviazuk’s form of adult contemporary isn’t part of my typical rotation. I was aware of her name, can’t remember the hit single I no doubt heard many times when living back in Canada in the 1990s, and quite enjoyed Colour and Moving Still.
This is ideal music for lounging on the couch while reading a magazine on a Sunday morning, enjoying dinner and a bottle of wine with your significant other, or painting (if I was a painter). The point – it’s relaxing, soulful, introspective stuff. Kreviazuk’s voice is rich, full of range, and seemed very familiar, like an old friend who’s returned after being away for quite some time.
Dear Life is pretty upbeat, got me thinking about life each time it came on, and put me in the mood to give my wife a big hug. In many ways it seems (in a good way) like the kind of song that could have been featured on an episode of Friends. Soul Searching features a nice blend of pop and soulful vocals and also appealed. Far Away was the high point, putting me at ease and making me feel confident about challenges in life and grabbing life by the balls.
Each listen I was reminded of Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLachlan, finding the songs on this album blended the best of both artists, but in a new and unique way. Overall the tracks on Colour and Moving Still seemed like they could be on the soundtrack to any number of romantic comedies. I kept seeing John Cusack walking away from the girl he loves, tear running down his cheek, only to turn around and see her standing there staring at him. This is a good thing.
Colour and Moving Still was a nice addition to our monthly picks, put me in a very relaxing place on many occasions and I’ll be sure to check out some of her other albums. If you’re seeking a mellow and enjoyable background track while hanging with a loved one, or while baking, this is a solid bet.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype?: 3.5
 
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Chantal Kreviazuk’s Colour, Moving and Still album choice excited me this month. I am a very proud supporter of Canadian music and musicians. I, of course, knew who she was and that she has a very long and successful career, but her music wasn’t necessarily my style. I tend to be more drawn to fast tempo, upbeat music and as I age the rift between anything labelled pop music and my taste widens. I’m not saying you can classify her music as just pop, but that is where it got the most radio play here in Canada. I always liked the songs I heard but had never really thought about buying her albums. No offense Chantal, I just have a massive queue of music I love and you just didn’t crack my personal list.
Again, this is why our music collective is great. Someone will pick an album that you would not have picked, and it forces you to take the time to listen and expand your knowledge of that artist.
As soon as I found out the pick I listened to the album twice in a row and proceeded to read what I could find about Chantal, this album and her career. Though I wasn’t sure what to expect I found myself really liking this album and enjoying Chantal’s story. I was also enamored with her social views and how she is using her fame to make our world a better place. Read her commentary on Kim Kardashian, it’s great.
Though her music was more mellow than I usually listen to at length I was really drawn to the beauty of her voice and the fact that she is an amazing songwriter. I, not unpredictably was drawn to the more upbeat songs like Dear Life and Before You but I did enjoy the others as well.
Her impact on music in Canada and across the world is undeniable and we thank her for that.
I was also impressed that Chantal herself actually responded to our social media posts by favoriting a few tweets. She just seems super cool to me and someone you could have a few beers with and have some laughs.
I really enjoyed this album and I would recommend that, if you haven’t already, you take the time to listen to her great songwriting and music.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 4
 

Review of Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell

Please read Greg Jorgensen’s  selection article of Meat Loaf: Bat Out Of Hell before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
There have been a few albums that divided the group before but this has to be the new champion. There is no denying the commercial success of this album and that 10s of millions of fans around the world love Meat Loaf. At the time of release it pushed past Prog Rock into a genre by itself and was very innovative and fun. Fans ate it up.
However, not unlike cilantro, in my opinion you either love this kind of music or can’t stand it. Fans and critics are equally as passionate about their opinions but the beautiful thing about music is how personal it is. Nobody can tell you what music you will like or dislike, only you get to make that opinion.
The comments from the group are equally as divided and passionate. You have to read all our reviews about this album. This was a great pick based on the strong emotions it invoked.
What was cool about this album:

  • It was a very influential album for Scott Gregory and Greg Jorgensen
  • Even the haters (Me, Darren included) have to admit that Paradise by the dashboard light is a song that is fun to be involved in a group singing this at least once.
  • The album art is amazing

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • Alain, Scott Coates and Darren did not like this album… at all.
  • Way, way, way too over the top for some of us.
  • The songs get repetitive after a while. I had trouble telling what song I was on a few times.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would we recommend?: 2.5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
You have to love musicians that revel in their image with a rampant enthusiasm that helps define their entire career – those who wrap their music in an additional layer of theatrics. Bony M wasn’t just disco, they were DISCO. NWA wasn’t just gangsta rap, they helped create and shape the genre out of nothing. Marilyn Manson…well, the fact that entire swaths of the population think (or thought) he’s the literal Antichrist says it all. These acts may just be acts (Manson is a weird dude, but he’s no Satanist) but they’re created and refined and milked for maximum value…the yin to the music’s yang. That’s what’s so great about Meat Loaf.
I love Bat Out of Hell. It’s a cheesy, bombastic, verbose, overly-dramatic album stuffed with horns and guitars and backup singers and screeching, and it’s fun as hell. It’s all about the power of rock and roll and you almost believe that Meat Loaf believes that if you sing hard enough, rock hard enough, and pump your fist at the sky high enough, that maybe an angel holding a guitar will descend from heaven on a bolt of lightning and play a riff so awesome that all your enemies will be destroyed and the hot girl in school will fall at your knees while Frank Frazetta paints a portrait of the whole thing.
In fact, you could probably convince someone who’s not familiar with the album that Meat Loaf is a character, like Pee Wee Herman or Ali G, created by and existing inside of a crucible of pop culture glory. But that gets me thinking…maybe Meat Loaf is real, and Marvin Aday, who showed off Bob’s bitch-tits so well in Fight Club, is the character. Hmm…
I realize other members of the Sonic Collective despise this album, and that’s fine, but it does make me wonder why I like it so much. Maybe it’s because I spent every year in high school heavily involved in musical theater, which clearly inspired BooH. Maybe it’s because I ‘discovered’ this album during a particularly meaningful summer full of friends, girls, and road trips. Maybe I just have a weak spot for cheesy, dramatic rock-opera music.
But despite how much I love this album, it’s hard to realllllly nail down why. Structurally and thematically, the songs are pretty repetitive – love (lost or forbidden), sex (forbidden or almost-had), leather, motorcycles, and dying young and leaving a good looking corpse. The compositions by Jim Steinman are basically variations on a theme – heavily layered with guitars and wood/wind/string instruments of various levels and volumes. Personally, I love the tempo changes, some of which happen slowly (All Revved Up With No Place to Go) or suddenly (Paradise by the Dashboard Light). You may not like the album, but you can’t say the songs aren’t trying for something huge and ambitious.
The lyrics and situations the songs are built around are pure juvenile joy – bringing in a real-life baseball announcer to narrate a boy’s journey to third base; explaining his lack of “I love you” because he was too busy passionately proving it by kissing; “We were doubly blessed – we were barely 17 and barely dressed”; “I can see paradise by the dashboard light”; “Just fuck me now and I promise I’ll think about telling you I love you tomorrow”; – I mean, those are funny allusions to stick in a pop song, especially if you’re immature, like I am.
So yes, Meat Loaf – and Bat out of Hell – is kind of like the red-headed stepchild of the music industry, but damn if it’s not a fun listen, and I enjoy it every spin.
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 3
Influenced our tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
 
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
As a frequent karaoke host, I’ve heard my fair share of Meatloaf songs, and they are usually crowd pleasers, so when Greg picked Bat Out of Hell, my first thought was “Alright, this could be fun.” Oh, sweet merciful baby Jesus, I couldn’t have been more wrong. (In hindsight, the fact that my parents own this album on vinyl should have been a clue…)
Okay, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. There were some really fun, catchy tunes on Bat out of Hell, but there’s a lot of droning, piano-driven love ballads on this album too, and despite what the sweet cover-art suggests, little to no badassery. I realize this is a completely subjective thing, but love ballads are about as appealing to me as going to the dentist, but without the payoff getting a nice smile out of the deal.
The good:
Paradise by the Dashboard Light, despite being about 4 minutes longer than it probably needs to be, is a very catchy track. No wonder it’s so popular at my karaoke shows! It’s pretty fun and has earned itself a spot in my “Assorted Shitmix” playlist.
Bat out of Hell has a lot of energy. Again, about 5 minutes longer than it really needs to be, but I’ll give it a pass. It’s also pretty dynamic, changing up its tone and pace several times, which helps keeps things interesting, given it’s almost 10 minutes long.
All Revved Up With No Place To Go is another one of those fun, catchy tracks, (Note to self, look up synonyms for “fun” and “catchy”) and, clocking in at just under four and a half minutes, it’s actually one of the shortest tracks on the album.
The piano skills demonstrated on this album are really fantastic. Respect! So is the guitar, for that matter.
Can we talk about how badass the cover art is? I wonder how many people bought this album expecting it to be metal as fuck, only to be sorely disappointed?
The Bad:
For Crying Out Loud – Hang on till about the 4:50 mark, and it’ll start getting pretty good. For the sake of your will to live, be sure to stop listening around the 6 minute mark. (If you insist on listening to the remaining 2 and a half minutes, well… don’t say I didn’t warn you, but there are much better ways to spend your time. Sawing off your own limbs with a hacksaw comes to mind.) I should also mention, if you enjoy this song, we probably can’t be friends.
Heaven Can Wait was perhaps the cringiest love ballad ever written until it was de-throned by Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On in 1997.
The horrible:
Can someone please explain what the hell is going on at the beginning of You Took The Words Right Out Of My Mouth? That weird verbal fantasy-foreplay thing just ruined the whole song for me, even if the rest of it was halfway good.
That unnecessary baseball-themed sex-noise interlude in Paradise just conjures mental images of Meatloaf boning somebody in a station wagon. I think we can all agree that nobody needs such thoughts. This world is dark enough.
Final thoughts
I figured Meatloaf’s Bat out of Hell was going to be a fun album to groove to this month, and occasionally it even was. Unfortunately, I have a great disdain for love songs and all things sappy, so this album is getting swept under the rug, save for a couple of tracks. If you’re a hopeless romantic and don’t mind listening to love songs written by a fat guy named after a medley of ground meats, then boy, have I got an album for you!
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would I recommend?: 2.5
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 2.5
 
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Scott Coates’s Review
In my teens I was a DJ at a roller-skating rink, then graduated to spinning at various bars during my university years. Shortly into my tenure at the roller-skating rink an older skater requested Paradise by the Dashboard Light. I gave it a quick listen, thought it sounded rather odd, but was told by an older co-worker that it’s a popular song and to give it a go. At 8:28 in length I thought it a perfect opportunity to use the toilet and chat with a girl for a few minutes. That’s where my relationship with Meat Loaf started and stands.
I’ve never been a fan of musicals and Bat out of Hell always struck me as the soundtrack to one. It’s so over-the-top and over-produced in all respects I still can’t believe it’s not from a musical. How someone can actively listen to this album in their home, while driving, or at any moment has always boggled my mind. I can’t think of any time or situation where I’d want what’s on this album – unless I was taking in a musical – which I don’t. To be fair, many of the tracks were developed from a musical, but the complete album was intended as a stand-alone work. Bizarre.
I’ve never liked black licorice while some people love it. Perhaps this same principal applies to Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell? From the first time I heard that first song, it never resonated in any way. Rather, I was instantly repulsed, and despite Paradise… providing time for a much needed toilet break and chat with a cute lady, I still dreaded playing it – each and every time.
Twenty-five years since last hearing Bat out of Hell it was time for a revisit, with a more open mind. While wine, bourbon, and a few other things get better with age, Bat out of Hell doesn’t. From the first note of the first track I was instantly transported back to musical hell and confusion as a 15-year-old teenager at that roller-rink. What is this? Who likes it? Why? I still don’t have the answers and never will. I hereby banish Bat out of Hell to the deepest depths of the infernal regions to never plague my ear canals again.
Overall opinion: 1
Would I recommend?: 1
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype?: 1
 
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Um… I really don’t know what to say about this pick. I heard that South Korea blasts music across the DMZ to annoy the North Koreans and I assume it is this album. This is not my style of music at all, so fans be warned that this won’t be pretty and you are all entitled to listen to music you like but I think this album sucks.
To me, this album is just way too over the top. This is Prog Rock on crack. I can handle some Prog Rock and Broadway type music but only in small doses. Believe it or not I really love live theatre and I’ve been to a few musicals and enjoyed them. However, though I did enjoy the musicals I just saw them once, said “That was fun.” and I haven’t seen them since, nor had a desire to see Phantom of the Opera again. That is exactly the way I feel about Meat Loaf. In high school when Paradise by the Dashboard Light came on I joined in the fun and would dance with my group of friends as they belted out the lyrics. Again, fun, but I had no desire to buy that song or album and it stayed about as relevant to me as my 80s deck shoes. Both are garbage to me now.
Again, I can see why people like it and there is nothing wrong with that obviously. I just like music with more soul and this seems like an experiment to me in how “white” they could make rock’n’roll. I can picture Meat Loaf working with the composer of the album saying, “Hey, rock was born from primarily black gospel, soul and blues music. What would rock sound like if we stripped all that out?”. It sounds like shit to me Meat Loaf. Ha ha ha…
Though it was torture I did get through the album about 5 times this month and I really did try to keep an open mind. I even tried getting a little wasted and listening as usually that makes me get into the music more. Unfortunately, this was just to far out there for me. I guess the only positive is that I can say I had fun a couple of times in the 80s to Paradise but that’s it. I’ve never owned a Meat Loaf album and that won’t change.
Overall opinion: 1
Would I recommend?: 1
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype? 2
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review
MEATLOAF MEATLOAF MEATLOAF!!!
Out of all the artists we’ve reviewed, I think Meatloaf is going to be the most polarizing one of all. I’d say he’s the meatloaf of music, but that’s just redundant. Let’s call him the cilantro of music: you either hate or love him.
When it comes to this album, I’m very much in the love column. I have enjoyed this album on 8-track, cassette, CD, and digitally. Rather than do my normal take on my favourite songs on the album (Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad, You took the Words Right Out of My Mouth, Paradise by the Dashboard Light), I’m going to instead share three facts about this album you might not know:

  1. Meatloaf really loves the weather

Seriously. He just can’t set a song up for you without letting you know what’s going on outside:
It was a hot summer night
and the beach was burning.
There was fog crawling over the sand.
And maybe you can cry all night
But that’ll never change the way I feel
The snow is really piling up outside
I wish you wouldn’t make me leave here
Though it’s cold and lonely in the deep dark night
I can see paradise by the dashboard light
And now the chilly Californian wind
Is blowing down our bodies again
And we’re sinking deeper and deeper
In the chilly Californian sand
You’ll always know whether you need a sweater or not when making out or breaking up with Meatloaf.

  1. Bat Out of Hell has a hell of a lot of piano in it

There’s a full rock opera going on, but if you pay close attention you’ll see that piano is dominating practically every song on the album. Compare this album to The Who’s Tommy or Pink Floyd’s The Walland you’ll see the stark contrast this focus provides the album. It’s quite interesting, considering Bat Out of Hell is squished chronologically between these two. I happen to enjoy the piano, particularly on the last track For Crying Out Loud, where it starts out soft and slowly comes to dominate the soft accompaniment to Meatloaf’s voice.

  1. This album is 100% pure 70s panties remover

Seriously. Now by 70s panties I don’t mean some lady that’s 55 now (although that might be true). I mean, if you can pull off a strong karaoke of these songs at a bar you will not only gain the interest of all the ladies with a great sense of humour, you’ll be able to identify the ones sitting through your performance with a straight face that you should write off. Instantly. If one of those cool ladies jumps up on stage and starts singing the female parts with you, marry (or remarry) her immediately.
This album is platinum and bazillion times over and stands the test of time, if only because nothing else sounds like it and you won’t be tired from listening to all the imitators that have sprung up over the years. Just like the food, there is nothing like Meatloaf, you know when you’re having it, and those rare times you seek it out you’ll be glad you did.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype: 5
 

Review of Motörhead: Ace of Spades

Please read Scott Coates selection article of Motörhead: Ace of Spades before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
Motörhead. Lemmy. Do you really need to read much more than that? Not really, you should go listen now and crank his songs while you read this review of their iconic album. Also, pour a beautiful Jack Daniels (Mmmm….JD…..). Though we differed greatly on this album on our opinions nobody could doubt that this band can get you pumped up. Please read the reviews this month in honour of Lemmy. As always, we’d love to hear your opinion. Leave a comment about your thoughts on this album.
What was cool about this album:

  • It totally rocks and is a very authentic album.
  • It mashes punk and metal brilliantly
  • You can’t help but get energized when listening.
  • Fuzz bass!

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • Ok, it is a bit repetitive.
  • Ok, it can be a little vulgar and Jalibait is a bit disturbing of a subject.
  • Cool lifestyle to read about but you wouldn’t want to live that way.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 2.5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

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Scott Coates’s Review
Authenticity is powerful and hard to find. Motorhead is perhaps one of the most authentic rock bands I’ve encountered. They look the look, talk the talk, deliver the goods, and there’s no doubt rock and roll was everything to them, 24-hours per day, 365 days a year. Authenticity oozes on every track of Ace of Spades.
There are surprisingly strong parallels with AC/DC in the messages and themes on Ace of Spades, mostly consisting of tales about partying, drinking, women, and the rock n’ roll lifestyle. Except somehow you believe Motorhead meant and lived it a lot more than AC/DC. These guys were the real deal.
You can definitely hear how Motorhead informed the sound of so many other bands, many who achieved greater fame and popularity than Motorhead, but they definitely laid the tracks for a generation of hard rockers to come.
Shoot You in the Back features great underlining guitar licks that could power a dance floor at any rock club. Fast and Loose also has some pretty nice guitar riffs and is classic foot-stomping rock.
(We Are) The Roadcrew is my favorite track on the album and does an awesome job of telling the story of a rock and roll band. There’s no doubt this tells the true story of Motorhead and their crew. Fantastically honestly and it paints a wonderfully loud picture of life on the road.
Lemmy estimated he’d slept with more than 2,000 women and one must wonder how autobiographical Jailbait is? There’s no doubt a bit of jest involved, but this track likely reveals a layer of reality to living the Motorhead lifestyle that ‘The Law’ wouldn’t approve of.
While I likely won’t come back to this album super often, I have a profound respect for Motorhead sticking to their guns, playing and living authentically, and giving us Ace of Spades. This album’s a time capsule of rock and roll and definitely an important piece in the history of the form.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype?: 4.5
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
Well shit. Lemmy is dead. I am not surprised, just bummed. Being a “youthful” 46 I remember getting into Motorhead a bit in my awesome 80s headbanging days. I loved rocking out to them back then but I will admit I didn’t listen to them much after the 80s. A few years back I picked up a compilation and I also loved watching the Lemmy documentary. I was interested as to what I would think when I went into this selection of the Ace of Spades album after so long.
First of all, since it has been 30+ years since I was really listening to Motorhead my musical tastes have expanded and changed. Almost immediately I was surprised at how much this album sounded just as close to punk rock recordings of the late 70s era as it did to metal pioneers such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and AC/DC. The next time you listen to the album, pretend it was released as a punk album and it stands up very well in that genre. I had a blast with this album, here’s why.
Motorhead, not unlike many metal, hard rock or punk bands, knows what it does well and sticks to that formula. Sure, they may not win awards for songwriting, but they rock, and they rock hard. Motorhead lead the rock and roll lifestyle and stayed true until the end.
As for the songs, I think I liked most all of them. Ace of Spades is a classic but I really liked Live to Win as well. These are fun and aggressive songs that make you want to party and slam back about a litre of Jack Daniels! Heck yeah!! If you are looking for gentle, moral music then get the hell off of this review, only Lemmy is here.
I loved every second of this month’s listen and I will be buying and listening more to Motorhead in the future. Thanks Lemmy.
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

“You know I’m born to lose, and gambling’s for fools,
But that’s the way I like it baby,
I don’t wanna live for ever”
It’s with a heavy heart I review this album. While no big fan of Motorhead, I know how influential Lemmy was to not other musicians, but to entire genres of music. He was one of those artists that fused the old with the new and came out with something new, original, and destined to be copied by many.
Ace of Spades, a sampling of lyrics above, was the titular track of what’s considered Motorhead’s best album. You may have noticed in other reviews I have a soft spot for really innovative or just plain powerful baselines. This album doesn’t disappoint on both fronts. Lemmy plays base aggressively, frantically, and if you watch it’s more like guitar work than bass. Amazing.
Ace of Spades has a loose feel to the bass, while Jailbait seems to tighten up and thrum. Both songs are just so, for lack of a better term, sonically dense, and just fill the air. Honestly, the only thing that I don’t like about Motorhead is Lemmy’s vocals, which is clearly a matter of taste. Do I think he sounds like a heavy metal/punk front man? Sure. It just wasn’t my cup of tea when it came to the heavier side of the British heavy scene. I was more of a Johnny Rotten kinda guy. Anyway.
Could you imagine if a song like Jailbait was made today? Ha! “You’re jailbait and I just can’t wait.” Very poetic. This is definitely a throwback to another age, but, with its AABBCD lyric structure, aforementioned bass, and rollicking guitar, you can’t help but walk around the office singing it… under your breath.
The Hammer really appealed to me instrumentally with all the drops on the bassline throughout the piece. Very cool. Lyrics are pretty straightforward. Blah blah angel of death, blah blah I’m evil, Stop! Hammer time! Sure, it might seem pretty tame today. I think I had the same feelings about some of the tracks off the AC/DC album we reviewed, but we’re not exactly turning to metal for Shakespeare are we?
Please Don’t Touch! ERMERGERD! I could have hated the rest of the album (I didn’t) and this song would have made it completely worth the time invested. The only thing I love more than bands taking songs from my youth and smashing them is people taking songs from my mom’s youth and doing the same! This album could be recommended just off Ace of Spades and this song. If you’re going to skip the album because you’re just not into metal, Lemmy, or anything in between, look up this song at least!
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend: 3
Influenced my tastes: 1 (4 for influencing the people that influenced my tastes)
Worth the hype: 2 (It doesn’t age well)
alain-dupuisAlain Dupuis’ Review 
I remember hearing Motorhead for the first time when the professional Wrestler Triple H started using “The Game” as his entrance music. It was aggressive song for an aggressive sport, so of course it appealed to me instantly, but I never bothered to explore the rest of the Motorhead discography. So, what do I think of Ace of Spades?
I found that all the songs sounded pretty much the same. They followed a formula of fast n’ loud, which is fine. (It wouldn’t be Motorhead otherwise.) But, it made it difficult for me to really identify those one or two songs off the album that really stood out to me as great vs. what might have been recorded as a filler track.
I liked:
I really liked Love Me like a Reptile. The little bit of harmonization in the chorus was enough to make the song memorable to me.
The guitar solo in Live to Win was pretty awesome.
The overall energy of the album was fun. Kept me nodding along, and wondering which songs would make it onto my workout playlist.
I didn’t like:
Jailbait. Really dude? The lyrical content is pretty gnarly. Was that acceptable back in the day? I feel like you’d get put on some sort of government watch list if you released this song today. At the very least you can bet there’d be some serious Twitter wars.
Actually, I found the lyrics in most of these songs are pretty simplistic, and feature lots of repetition. Not exactly making anyone feel smarter. It certainly aims to appeal to the lowest common denominator
As previously stated, the songs all sound basically the same to me. Fast and loud and shouty and repetitive.
Final thoughts
I feel like any track off this album would be at home in a video game. (Particularly one that features skateboarding, or snowboarding, or high-speed driving.) Ace of Spades just has that frenetic energy and machismo approach to music that makes it appealing.
I liked this album much more overall than I enjoyed AC/DC’s Back in Black, both of which were released a few months apart back in 1980.
This isn’t particularly deep or cerebral music, but I don’t think it was intended to be. It was meant for meatheads to headbang to while throwing back beers and having a good time. Listening to it does get me pumped up though, like all of a sudden I wanna participate in extreme sports.
‘Scuse me, I have some backflips to do. “HARDCORE PARKOUR!”
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
Nothing like the death of an iconic singer to make you appreciate a band all over again. It’s even stranger when the singer in question was never an icon to me, nor was the band even familiar. I had always grouped Motorhead into sort of a second-rate metal club – bands from the 70s and 80s that were notable but who never really made the big time, like Megadeth, RATT, Whitesnake, and Winger. The only familiarity I had with them was hearing the chorus to Ace of Spades in high school. Beyond that, I knew nothing about them. I was a bit shocked to read they have released 23 studio albums – only 6 less than the Rolling Stones!
Ace of Spades opens with a bang, the titular song jumping down your throat with a full-throttle roar, which is great. Without even really slowing down, we’re into Love Me Like a Reptile, which mirrors Ace of Spades in its energetic shredding. Then Shoot You in the Back comes up and…it’s great too, but wait…is this the next song, or is Love Me Like a Reptile just really long? No, it’s definitely a new song. Boom, up comes Live to Win…man, all these songs sound really similar.
Repeat until the end of the album.
Not that that’s a bad thing. In our preview reviews for Back in Black almost all of us said that AC/DC does the same thing over and over, but we don’t mind because it’s so awesome. But for me, Ace of Spades didn’t have the powerful hooks or sheer power of an AC/DC album that made you want to pump your fist in the air. On top of that, the vocals on almost every song sounded like it was being held back a bit, like some type of aural Instagram filter had been applied to tone things down. Maybe it was my headphones? Nope, I moved over to some AC/DC and was rocking hard right away.
The one standout for me was Please Don’t Touch because it was a slight departure, an almost goofy rhythm. If I closed my eyes I could almost hear Lemmy off to the side going “Heh heh heh…” in time with the chugging guitars and backing vocals.
WsKFbvVI liked the album and wouldn’t at all complain if it came up on rotation again, but I prefer hard rock with a bit more bite. That being said, it’s hard to argue against the cultural impact and peer influence of Lemmy and his band…especially when there’s been this badass toy made of him.

Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype? 4

Review of PJ Harvey: Dry

Please read Darren Scott’s selection article of PJ Harvey: Dry before reading our reviews below.
Quick Summary: 
I (Darren) picked this selection and will summarize though Greg’s review was not submitted at the time of this summary.
Though I was glad I picked this album it was apparent that PJ Harvey’s Dry may have been a little too rough, alternative and slow to have really clicked with the group. The sound is very reminiscent of the early 90s alternative rock scene but perhaps doesn’t stand up to the test of time as well as contemporaries like Nirvana. Her style is not main-stream at all and even Kurt Cobain admits that Nevermind was written and produced for the masses and not his favourite album. Whereas PJ Harvey, at the time of Dry was just trying to figure herself and her style out and was writing and playing for herself.
Her style isn’t for everybody but I would highly recommend you look at her catalogue of music and give her a listen, maybe just don’t start with Dry.
What was cool about this album:

  • Happy and Bleeding and Fountain were mentioned as favourites on the album.
  • This album is really raw and different and in a modern age of over-produced, same-sounding crap I appreciate efforts like this.

What we didn’t find so cool:

  • The rawness of the album and her attempt to push boundaries comes off a little weird in some tracks.
  • It’s a bit of a slow and repetitive collection of songs and you can tell she hadn’t quite found her style yet.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 2.5
Influenced our tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 3
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review 
As mentioned in my pick article, I have been meaning to listen to PJ Harvey but just hadn’t got around to it. As we were running light in picking the amazing women of music, I felt this was the perfect time. As PJ has a vast catalogue of music it was hard to pick an album so I settled on her first album, Dry. I was close to picking her next album Rid of Me as I knew Steve Albini produced it and I love his raw production style. Anyway, on with the review.
I always like going back to the early 90s alternative rock scene as I was, and still am, a big fan of the bands of that era like Nirvana, Jane’s Addiction, Smashing Pumpkins, The Pixies, etc. I could definitely feel the sound of the era in this album and see why contemporaries like Kurt Cobain admired PJ Harvey’s first album. That being said, this album is definitely not a commercial album that would be liked by most music fans.
I liked it, though I found it was a bit too slow for my taste. Funny I say that as I actually found the track Fountain my favourite and it is a very slow brooding song. It reminded me of Nirvana’s Something in the Way. I also liked the popular tracks on this album Dress and Sheela-Na-Gig. I was impressed that PJ is a master musician and plays multiple instruments and wrote as well. For being so young she was very accomplished. That is not to say that this first album doesn’t show signs of being a little rough around the edges. I can always tell if I really love an album if I immediately have the urge to buy it. I can’t say I felt that urge here but I did feel like listening to more.
Listening to a best of compilation was very fun and I was drawn to her hits like Down by the Water, Good Fortune and 50ft Queenie. I really quickly grew to like her music and many of her albums. But for the sake of this review of Dry I have to rate this album only. As mentioned, I found it a bit slow for my tastes and some of the songs were just a bit too out there for me. I did see where she was going and there was more than enough to get me to explore more of here albums. Overall, I am very glad that I picked her(I still feel bad about the Beta Band pick) and I would highly recommend you explore her music, though you might want to start with a different album.
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 3.5
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 3.5
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

I’ve heard snippets of PJ Harvey all throughout the years, but I have to admit I’ve never given any of her albums a full listen before, let alone the first one. I remember her most for singing Down by the Water, which got a lot of play around my parts back in the day. Still, taking a quick look at the Billboard Top 100 for that year, the fact that Baby Got Back , Jump (Kriss Kross),  and Humpin’ Around are the songs that got me reminiscing should tell you where my head was back then.
The only song I recognized off this album was Sheela Na Gig, and I do remember it on the radio way back. PJ (Harv?) has a nice lilting cadence to her singing that really appeals to me. It takes me to the same place the Letters to Cleo, Veruca Salt, and Juliana Hatfield do, with a little splash of Liz Phair’s freaky side. (Joydrop is on the list too, if you’re Canadian and might recognize them!)
I went through quite a phase of Female Alt, and it surprises me now that she didn’t make it onto my playlist more. Limited exposure in North America? I’m just oblivious sometimes? Probably a bit of both, but that’s exactly why I’m in the Sonic Collective! My buds can enlighten me on.
That being said, O Stella was pretty messed up. I’m still trying to decide if I like the song or not. It doesn’t feel overproduced, especially on the backing vocals, but it feels like it was thrown together at a jam session. Not that the whole album doesn’t feel a little thrown together. It’s hard to tell if this is on purpose or not, but Victory has a beautiful baseline intertwining beautifully with the guitar work that makes me think it’s more craft than crap.
I could say that Oh My Lover was my favourite song, but Fountain has this manic-depressive cadence, a nervous energy that really pulls me away from the loud, angst-filled thrashing of Lover and makes me want to go put on some black eyeshadow and watch the Crow, or at least listen to the soundtrack.
Overall, I enjoyed the album, but I think I would have enjoyed it more 10 years ago, cycled between the artists mentioned above, with maybe some Hole and L7 to round things out. I say give it a listen, because you’ll have fun trying to classify her and line her up with your favourite artists too.
The Numbers
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype: 3

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Scott Coates’s Review
PJ Harvey – the name was familiar, but I couldn’t name a song. I was certain I must know something by ‘her’, or was it a ‘band’ called PJ Harvey? Not sure; still not sure. But it turned out I’d never heard a single track by this entity in music. Dry was submitted as December’s pick and I dipped in intermittently throughout the month.
I kept listening to this album not really remembering it, but not being driven to listen again. Time and time again I thought I must have been distracted while listening, hence my lack of desire to partake again, but after some time and many listens, realized it just wasn’t jiving with me.
While trying to figure out why I couldn’t really get into this album, the sound, or even a song, I kept thinking of a girl in high school who was ‘alternative’, cute, we knew each other a bit, I was intrigued, but was never enough like her to ever really make a connection. I think the same principle applies with PJ Harvey and Dry. It’s that interesting, semi-unknown, kind-of-hot-girl, that only a select few ever really get close enough to, to understand, like and appreciate. I’m just not the guy.
Overall this album sounds like a college demo throughout and never much more. It’s just too raw and ‘out there’. I can’t imagine when or why I’d put it on. There’s not a time I’ll be needing more of this. It really is a good time capsule of the outer rings of the alternative time and community of the early nineties and a very select group, but one I’m not a part of, nor can I identify with.
Victory almost gets me interested, Happy and Bleeding starts to provide some intrigue but then it dies, Hair is almost there, but then the lyrics and rhythms don’t quite elevate me enough. There just isn’t one track on this album I’d put on a playlist.
I try to be very optimistic, open, and wanting to like all selections within The Sonic Collective, but I’m afraid PJ Harvey’s Dry leaves me just that – dry – without any pleasure and no desire to explore her catalogue further.
Overall opinion: 2
Would I recommend?: 2
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype?: 2
 

alain-dupuis
Alain Dupuis’ Review 
“What the heck is a PJ Harvey?” I asked myself out loud, as I read Darren’s pick for the first time. Obviously I was unfamiliar with her music until this month’s review. I dug in eagerly, and… well, frankly after a number of repeat plays, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Dry.
I liked:
PJ has a really unique voice. The vocal delivery is on point, dynamic and precise – but with a bit of raw edginess. I couldn’t help but find myself drawing comparisons to Janice Joplin, for better or worse.
I really liked the song Happy and Bleeding. Easily my favorite song on the album because of it’s relative complexity compared to other songs on the album. Despite being a bit of a slow-starter, it builds up in dynamic range and adds layers of instruments and vocals as it carries on.
Plants and Rags features a chaotic array of string instruments, which I thought was a neat touch. Usually when artists add strings to songs, it tends to give them a bit of serious or solemn feel (think Glycerine, by Bush). In this case, it made the song weird and interesting
I didn’t like:
A lot of the songs seemed quite repetitive. Despite most tracks on the album being relatively short in length, some of them just seemed to drone on and on. I can’t really recall any one song that stuck in my head after listening
I didn’t feel that any of the tracks had a hook or anything to reward the listener. Not necessarily a requisite depending on your audience, but it didn’t win any points from me.
Final thoughts
I liked Dry for what it is – An early 90s grunge-ish folksy album featuring untested talent. Would it make it onto my permanent play list? Nah. I don’t think so. It just didn’t do enough to reward me as a listener and keep me engaged enough to come back for more.
Overall opinion: 2.5
Would I recommend?: 1
Influenced my tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 3
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
The only thing I knew about PJ Harvey was that she was a musician; oft-talked about and frequently referenced, but no one that I had any familiarity with whatsoever. I was excited to get into it and enjoyed most of it, but sadly, don’t think I’ll be going back to PJ Harvey anytime soon.
This strikes me as very much what I call a “snapshot record” – that is, a very concise picture of a certain time in musical history. In this case, it’s the early 1990s, which is made clear by the fuzzy guitars, the edgy and concise lyrics with a hard-edged voice belting them out, sometimes off-key but never weak or unsure of itself. Snapshot records aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but have trouble retaining legitimacy outside of the narrowly-defined timeframe in which they originated.
There were songs on here – even parts of songs – that I really, really liked. Oh My Lover had me on the first note, although it never really emerged as the power anthem I wanted it to, and Dress rocked right along at a great clip that I loved. Most of the other songs were good…just fine…not great, not really awful. The kind of music one might expect to hear on a grungy 90s action movie like The Crow. Perfect to put on at a house party as great background music. (my snapshot of the early 90s included a lot of house parties…perhaps then no surprise that this comparison came up for Dry).
All of this, however, is not taking into consideration Plants and Rags, which may be the most aurally abusive song I’ve ever heard. I mean Jesus, it’s like someone picked two songs at random and then forced them to mate. Garbage.
But trying to pick one standout moment is really hard for me. As a whole, it’s a pretty decent album that strikes me as something perfect to have in the background and ignore (reminding me of this great scene in the amazing High Fidelity).
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 3
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype?: 3

Review of The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

The Sonic Collective - Seargent Pepper

Please read our selection article of The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band before reading our reviews below.
Summary: 
This summary does not reflect Greg’s comments as his review is pending. His review will be added upon receiving it.
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is one of the most revered albums of all time no matter what any of us say in these reviews. More so than any review to date I would encourage the reader to give this album a listen.
I don’t want to spoil our reviews and information too much so just go read what we had to say. We wee a little torn again though Scott Coates and I (Darren) seem to be staying on par as we both disliked last month’s review but both loved this. Scott Gregory and Alain had mixed emotions.
It’s important to say though that we all really liked this album and loved the hits that came from it like A Little Help From My Friends and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. This was a defining moment in the Beatles career. Find out why
What was cool about this album:

  • It was really the first concept album(Paul’s idea) and started progressive rock.
  • It pushed boundaries and introduced new instruments and sounds to the fans.
  • Well produced.
  • The story behind it all.
  • It was the first rock album to ever win a Grammy for album of the year.
  • And on… and on… and on… just read below.

What we didn’t find so cool :

  • Alain and Scott weren’t fans of some songs and Within You Without You seemed to be the one most disliked. Maybe they should listen when they are high? Lol.
  • Scott Gregory thinks that the movie soundtrack performed by other artists is actually better.
  • There were some feelings that the changes in style were too drastic throughout the album.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 4.5
Influenced our tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review – This was Darren’s Pick
Ummm… wow, just wow. I really enjoyed what I picked this month. I guess I knew I would enjoy it at some level but I have to admit this pick actually surprised me.
I’m a big music fan. The problem with being a big music fan is that I always feel a weird psychological pressure that I should have listened to every great album ever or I will be struck down by the Gods. Especially when I talk to other music fans I feel I should have heard anything they have and be able to relate. I don’t think I’m pretentious about music in any way but many people I meet sure are. Right after I picked this album a few people mildly mocked that I was picking something that obviously everyone had heard before and that everyone loved. I instantly felt the pressure to agree as a music fan I would have had to heard, experienced and loved that Beatles album right?
Stop the insanity!!! I’m officially done feeling that pressure anymore because this album showed me exactly why this group was formed. We get to rediscover and experience albums like they were meant to be, with the exception of listening to them in this modern era.
I hope you other music fans can relate to how I am feeling. Here are a few points to remember as you travel on your musical musical journey as a music fan:

  • It’s all about the story. For me anyway, I am finding more and more that music can mostly be about the story of how it came into being. That creates an emotional affinity and attachment to an artist, album or song. Dave Grohl’s recent Sonic Highways documentary proves this point. It was 8 stories about the 8 songs on the latest Foo Fighters album. To be honest, I just think most of the songs fall into the “ok” or “good” category but the documentary series sucked me in to the story so I now have a higher emotional attachment to the songs and album over just hearing the songs on the radio. The same goes for this SPLHCB album. I really liked the album, but when I dug into the documentary and read numerous articles I fell in love with it. Discover the story behind your music heroes and songs!
  • It’s impossible to hear it all! Even if all you did for 16 hours a day was listen to music you would still not be able to hear all the great albums in all the genres so it’s fine to say you haven’t heard an album. It just can’t be done. I fully admit I had never listen to a full Beatles album until I recently bought Revolver on vinyl. I had just heard random songs but not in any context of album nor did I know the story behind any of them. It’s ok, I’ve listened now.
  • You like what you like. Nobody can tell you what to like musically, you will like music for your own reasons at the time. There will always be artists, albums or songs you don’t like. Accept that and don’t feel bad. It doesn’t necessarily mean you hate the artist or song or don’t think they are talented musicians. It just means that you don’t prefer to listen to them. Who cares? I still don’t like most songs by R.E.M., Radiohead and The Dave Matthews Band. I just don’t, and that’s ok.
  • Your tastes can and will change over time. Just to throw a wrench in the last point, I do want to encourage you to occasionally go back and listen to an artist or song that you may not have liked or understood years ago. As you explore music you start to get a better appreciation for music and you understand the story better. I will admit that personally I used to not really get Led Zepplin, The Cure to name a couple as well as pretty much all country music and jazz music. I now love both those bands, love jazz and there is some country music that I really like(though I am still working on this). Go back and listen to some of the classic bands you didn’t like long ago. You may be surprised.
  • Explore! I strongly encourage you to keep exploring music to find great new music to listen to and experience. I often just start reading about a band or artist I love and find out who influenced them. I then go listen to that artist and see what I think. It’s a great way to learn about who you love and find great new stuff. I also follow a few music industry professionals like Alan Cross and Eric Alper(Both Canadian by the way!) and they often recommend fantastic music. Another fun way is randomly listening to an album. With services like Rdio and Apple music, etc. it’s really easy and you never know what you will find. Happy hunting.
  • Don’t be an ass. Have fun. If you are a big music fan, have fun with it and don’t judge others. Who cares what others like or don’t like, this is your musical journey so enjoy it. If others ask you recommendations then be nice about it and try to give them advice on music that would be close to their style. Have a blast and crank it loud.

All right, I’ll get off my soap box now. Back to The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
For me, this made our Sonic Collective music group worth it. Would I have ever gone back and listened to and studied this album otherwise? Maybe, but I doubt it. That’s why this group is great. You spend 1 month experiencing albums like this. Awesome. Hey, we don’t always hit home runs as The Beta Band still burns me. But we do get to explore music and offer our thoughts.
The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was a defining album in so many ways. It was the comeback that the Beatles needed, it set the stage for the progressive rock genre and it set the stage for concept album. Think back to the 70s now and realize how many bands tried those concepts. There is also so much to the story of this album that it was so satisfying. If you haven’t watched the documentary posted in our pick blog then go do it now here. Find out why dogs hate this record. Find out what Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is really about. Find out why Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane were omitted from the album but were supposed to be on it. Find out how the Beatles almost split up before this album.
Even if you don’t love this album I know you will respect what the Beatles were trying to do here. It’s a fun journey to go on as you listen and learn. Many criticize this as a drug-fueled psychedelic album but I think you will find that by today’s standards it’s not too out there at all. I would also argue that you could release this album today and it would chart immediately. The sound production was ahead of it’s time and stands up today. Just awesome, so awesome for me.
I could go on, but I won’t. Stop reading and start exploring this album for yourself.
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype? 5
 
alain-dupuisAlain DuPuis’s Review 

I’ve been a Beatles fan for a long time. Whenever asked that old question “Beatles or the Rolling Stones”, my response is always “The Beatles, AFTER they discovered drugs”. In my opinion, The Beatles are never better than a few years into their musical careers when they get really into psychedelics and spirituality. Their music develops this intriguing complexity, occasionally featuring unorthodox instruments, unusual time signatures, and really really weird lyrical content. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band definitely fits into this category.
I liked:
The title track, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is awesome. Catchy, fun to sing along to, and the drums and guitars are awesome. It’s one of the strongest tracks on the album from a compositional standpoint, and certainly the most rock n’ roll.
Within You Without You is sonically complex, sprinkled with various Eastern percussion and string instruments. It’s slowly paced, and I’m sure others have criticized it for droning on, but I liked it.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is a classic Beatles track, and it’s tough for me to review it objectively because I grew up with it. Hard to argue that it’s a catchy, if nonsensical number. It’s worthwhile to note that Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is absolutely NOT about LSD, despite what you may have heard.
A Day in the Life is just lovely. The song takes you on a bit of a ride and it progresses through different moods. I found it being a somewhat cathartic experience, which caught me quite unexpectedly.  Good job, Beatles!
 
I didn’t like:
For all its strengths, Sgt. Pepper’s is certainly not my favourite Beatles album. It seemed to me that a lot of the songs on the album were lame filler tracks, or just a bit too weird for me. I absolutely didn’t dig Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite. Every time I listened to it, I found myself thinking “this is junk, and I really want to skip it”.
I wasn’t a fan of When I’m Sixty-Four, either.  It’s extremely difficult for me to take the song seriously with that goddamn carnival music playing behind some otherwise quaintly clever lyrics.
Several other tracks were so boring and unforgettable to me that I didn’t even commit to remembering what they were called.
 
Final thoughts
I’ve never bothered to read any reviews or commentary on the album, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that this may be a polarizing album. Beatles fans who grew up thinking The Beatles were a clean-cut proto-pop boy band singing cute little radio-friendly love songs probably won’t appreciate this album as much as someone who enjoys a little psychedelia in their music. There’s certainly some weird shit sprinkled throughout this album, but that’s why the good Lord gave us a “skip” button, right?
Still totally worth a listen, if only to say you have.
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 3.5
Worth the hype? 4.5
 
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Scott Coates’s Review
What a challenge – reviewing a Beatles album. Maintaining perspective while evaluating one of the world’s most accomplished, revered, and well known bands is daunting, but also came as a pleasant surprise. Yes, I know The Beatles’ hits, have listened to some of their albums, but must admit I’d never consumed Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (SPLHCB) in full, prior to it being picked for The Sonic Collective.
Headphones strapped on, I pressed play and was transported on a wonderful musical voyage. From first to final track the album’s songs are each unique, exceptionally rich, somehow blend together well despite being so different from one another, and left me a bit bedazzled each and every listen. The singles we all know well are there, but woven in between are others that bring it all together in an amazing package.
Enjoying SPLHCB with quality headphones made a huge difference, bringing so many subtle sounds, strings, and strokes to the forefront that were absent via my stereo. Subsequent listens were all on headphones, enabling me to immerse myself in to the world that is Sgt. Pepper. This being The Beatles eighth studio album, it came as no surprise when I later read this was one of the first concept albums, and it was never intended to be performed live, included an orchestra, and freed The Beatles of typical writing constraints.
Paul McCartney’s vocals on opening track SPLHCB blew me away, being as raw n’ rock as anything I’ve ever heard. The foursome’s ability to deliver a stunning array of sounds and styles is something few others have ever managed to pull off with such flair and success. It also didn’t come as a surprise to read that SPLHCB was the first rock album to win the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, changing the face of what was acceptable music for the masses.
After many passes through SPLHCB I get excited when track #12, SPLHCB (Reprise)’s opening drum riff comes in, creating a full-circle experience of sorts. And then there’s one track left, A Day in the Life, and its chilling final piano chord that serves as a grand finale of the musical experience and journey. I’m a bigger fan now then ever of The Beatles, will explore all their albums in full, and can see why Rolling Stone ranked SPLHCB #1 on their ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time’ – deservedly so.
Overall opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype?: 5
 
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

Ok. This is a tough one. I love some songs from the Beatles, but on the whole I can’t get into their catalogue. I feel the same way about this album. Why this bothers me is a mystery, since that’s how I feel about most bands. But I mean, come on, it’s the Beatles right? I’m supposed to love them unconditionally and worship their genius, right?

I just can’t understand how one of my favourite songs of all time, A Little Help From My Friends, can coexist on an album with a song like Within You Without You, which has a suckitude factor off the charts. Maybe I’ve just never developed the appropriate appreciation for the inclusion of the sitar in rock music. I think Our Lady Peace snuck some in on a couple of their tracks and it didn’t bother me. Must be the moustaches I can hear these Liverpool boys wearing coming through the mics.

If I was to recommend a couple tracks as must-listen, you’d have to include the big players:

A Little Help From My Friends

What would you if I reviewed this tune, would you stand up and walk out on me? Yes, it’s the obvious choice on the album, but it’s one of the few that actually songs like “the Beatles” as far as I’m concerned. I could just wrap up in this song like a warm blanket and pretend the rest of the album didn’t exist. The Harmonies are crisp, it has a nice rolling baseline, and it’s just a nice message. “But Scott,” you say “I need at least a couple more musical train wrecks in my life!”  Well then, let’s listen to another song…

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Don’t do drugs kids. If you ever needed a reason to kick the habit, listen to Hey Jude then this song. I guess while getting high might make average bands more creative, it takes a great band makes them… this. Still, it’s one of the quintessential Beatles songs, and if anyone ever asked if you’d heard it or not, you better be able to say yes.

When I’m Sixty-Four

This song has a throw-back feel even for the Beatles. I could see people dancing to this in the 30s, having a great time forgetting about the Great Depression, which I’m sure was only marginally easier to live through than this album. If you like a whimsical, flighty song that can sneak into your playlist and put a smile on your face, this is the one.

I think my biggest problem with this album is that someone did it better later on, and that’s never supposed to happen.

You know when a lot of artists get together to do a tribute album? Let’s take Instant Karma to keep it in the Beatles family. Sure, Green Day does an amazing job on Working Class Hero, but the rest of the covers are just average. Sorry Fergie.

I know at least Darren doesn’t agree, but Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees just destroy the Beatles on their own songs. There, I said it. The Gibb brothers are kings of harmony, and a young Peter Frampton sings the hell out of everything. Getting Better is getting better because these guys are singing it instead. And while I know it wasn’t actually included on the original album, I have to include Sandy Farina’s cover of Strawberry Fields Forever on the movie’s soundtrack as one of the transformative songs of my youth that still holds me spellbound to this day.

So honestly, if you had to pick between the original album and the movie soundtrack, I’d go with the soundtrack. You’ll not only get better versions of the original songs, but there are plenty of covers of other Beatles songs by artists such as Aerosmith, Steve Martin (yes, that Steve Martin), Earth Wind and Fire, and even some Alice Cooper. It’s a great double album you can tell your kids about. Seriously, they’ll never find it otherwise. Tell your kids.

On to the numbers!

Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend: 3
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype? 1

(Add two points to each of those scores and you have my ratings for the movie soundtrack.)

Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review

When I was a punk-ass kid, it was ‘cool’ to criticize old people and the things they like. After all, I was part of the new generation. The world would be moulded in our image! This, of course, carried over to music, and I was fond of making fun of The Beatles, which my mom loved. She used to tell me, “You wouldn’t have Bon Jovi without The Beatles!” This was true of course, but it still didn’t make me appreciate them enough to be any more than a casual fan as I grew up.

However, when I turned on SPLHCB – an album I can’t remember ever consciously hearing – I knew almost all of the songs by heart. That is, the ones that weren’t bat-shit crazy recollections of drug fuelled nightmares. Like most Beatles albums, SPLHCB is a hit-and-miss affair for me, but the hits are GIANT MOTHERFUCKING HITS.

The songs that I did like are part of the fabric of musical history, songs that didn’t just help define a band, but an entire generation, and indeed, a whole genre of music. Creative composition, melodic arrangements, and imaginative lyrics all resonated powerfully with me – both when I was a punk-ass kid subconsciously taking it in, or as an adult listening with fresh ears. 

Getting Better is a sweet little song that always gives my brain a reason to grin a bit. Whenever I hear When I’m Sixty Four I can’t help but imagine it as the opening theme of a 1950’s era black-and-white sitcom, and it’s got such a pleasingly goofy, hummable chorus that it’s impossible to not like. With a Little Help From my Friends is gorgeous, and Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds is an unforgettable song, despite the lyrics that only make sense if you’re HAF. A Day in the Life is a curious song – while listening I’m alternately loving it, hating it, and smiling at it, but that final piano note – fantastic.

Those songs aside, the others are just a jumbled mess for me, with the band clearly taking their desire for experimentation a bit too far. Songs like Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! and Within You Without You are just exercises in WTF all around, while others like Lovely Rita are nice, but too lightweight to matter much.

But overall the album is a great listening experience, the product of a band whose collected genius by this point was undeniable and inescapable.

Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 5
Influenced our tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 5

Review of Cheap Trick: Heaven Tonight

Please read our selection of Cheap Trick Heaven Tonight before reading our reviews below.
Summary: 
This was an interesting pick by Scott Coates this month as many bands of this era tend to be overlooked as influencers. With the exception of Greg, the rest of us enjoyed this album. Cheap Trick was in the zone in the late 70s and the starting track Surrender is till beloved to this day.
We all seemed to be aligned that this new pop-rock wasn’t really pushing the boundaries of music but there is something to be said of a band that can come in and nail the music of the day. That is what Cheap Trick did in their time. They weren’t the biggest and best of the time from a sales or influencer level(Van Halen and AC/DC were mentioned a few times) but they are very deserving of their praises and this album is a nice addition to the late 70s rock sound.
Though this album isn’t for everybody(Greg, lol) it is just fun and easy to get in to. We definitely recommend a listen to this album as well as their Cheap Trick at Budokan.

What was cool about Cheap Trick: Heaven Tonight:

  • Some awesome fun rock songs. Surrender and Auf Wiedersehen are favorites.
  • The album stands the test of time and is a good start before listening to Cheap Trick at Budokan
  • Great musicians and Zander has a great voice.

What we didn’t find so cool :

  • The album’s songs seemed a little scattered and disconnected.
  • Some felt that other bands at the time did pop rock better.
  • Some of the songs guitar riffs were a bit too similar.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 3.5
Would we recommend?: 3.5
Influenced our tastes: 2.5
Worth the hype? 4
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.
 

Our Full Reviews

 
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Scott Coates’s Review
Knowing a band’s best album (Cheap Trick at Budokan), then going to another one (Heaven Tonight) to get a true sense for their worth is a bit of a backwards exercise. But The Sonic Collective doesn’t evaluate live albums, so when I wanted to gain an appreciation for Cheap Trick in their prime, Heaven Tonight, their third studio album, was where I put my finger for a pulse.
The album is an intricate work, with an almost too wide variety of styles at times, but perhaps it showcases the depth the band was at during the period. Opening track Surrender kicks things off with a definitive ‘bang’ that lets you know you’re in for a ride. The journey continues in some interesting and sometimes unexpected directions, with California Man seeming like something kids in the fifties could almost swing to in a soda shop, then go right back to solidly rocking with Auf Wiedersehen. The scope of rock/pop is pretty much covered here.
On the Radio is a fun jab at disc jockeys back in 1978 (when the album was released) and no doubt the politics of getting a single on the air, while title track Heaven Tonight’s background strings reminds me at times of Kashmir by Led Zeppelin. This track is the low point of the musical journey, but you’ve got to shoot for at least one ballad on an album.
Stiff Competition is a final reminder that Cheap Trick is best at rocking and they do it with the best of them. There’s little doubt this work, their third studio album, was the one that firmly cemented them as a rock band to be reckoned with, along with the likes of other heavyweights at the time such as Zeppelin and AC/DC, who were making a serious impact.
All in all Heaven Tonight is a solid musical glimpse into the time period, when rock was intersecting with the hot new thing, disco, and bands were battling to find a way into listeners’ hearts and carve their way to the top of the charts. For anyone wanting to get a sense of Cheap Trick at their prime, this is the place to start, then move on to their opus, Cheap Trick at Budokan.
Overall opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
 
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review
I do remember hearing lots of Cheap Trick in my youth but I really remember their Lap of Luxury album as that was released on the year of my high school graduation. I can still remember the slow dance at prom to The Flame. Sure that wasn’t their best album but it fit it nicely in the 80s and was great simple and fun rock.
Though I had heard some of the songs on Heaven Tonight, I had never really listened to one of the older albums in entirety. I only own Cheap Trick at Budokan so I was excited to get into this album and see where these guys came from.
As with any album review it is always good to put yourself in that era.
Rock music was evolving and moving away from complex groups and songs like Led Zeppelin was releasing. Rock was now starting to be more approachable and, I hate to say it, commercialized. If Led Zeppelin was a rock’n’roll 4 course dinner, then many of the new bands were just looking to be hot dog street vendors. By no means am I trying to offend any of these bands, Cheap Trick included, but I just feel that these bands were just out to have fun, keep songs simple and upbeat and get top 40 radio play. Cheap Trick and others at this time are not going to be remembered as bands that pushed the envelope but rather they just jumped on board the band wagon and had a blast.
I really liked this album and had fun with it. Surrender and Auf Wiedersehen rocked. I still can’t believe these guys released 5 albums in less than 2 years. That’s unfathomable in today’s music industry so if there are a few just ok songs on here you can understand why.
I also appreciated the band musically. Rick Nielsen is a great guitarist and has a great personality but all the members were very strong musically and Zander’s vocals are great. As we now live in an era where so much music and vocals is produced it is nice to know that even the pop-rock bands of this era still had to be able to play, sing and write their own lyrics and music.
I really liked this pick and I felt it is important to recognize bands like this. Sure, they didn’t write songs like Kashmir(though Heaven Tonight kinda sounded like the riff), but I know there are 1000s of karaoke bars all over the world right now with people belting out classic Cheap Trick songs and having a blast. Maybe they weren’t the best in this era or even my personal favourite, but I don’t press the skip button when they come on. Heaven Tonight is a nice listen beginning to end and is a nice piece to have in your music collection of late 70s early 80s rock beside AC/DC and Van Halen.
My personal opinion: 3.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 3
Worth the hype? 4
 
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review
I’d only ever heard of Cheap Trick through films – Fast Times, and various other movie montages and such – so I didn’t know much about them; the only song I vaguely recognized on Heaven Tonight was Surrender. To be honest, I always thought they were Australian. Anyway, the first time I listened to this album I was thoroughly unimpressed. Upon a few further listens, my opinion is improved slightly, but not by much – this one just didn’t do it for me.
When I was a kid my mom had a huge burlap bag full of random, loose cassette that I used to listen to from time to time. Listen to a song, fast-forward. Listen to another song. Eject, find a new cassette. Nothing in the bag stuck with me – it was full of nameless, forgettable tapes from nameless, forgettable bands. Heaven Tonight reminded me of one of the cassettes from that bag – a collection of mostly featureless songs, few memorable hooks, and nary a hummable chorus.
Surrender is a catchy tune, Zander’s vocals pairing nicely with some tight guitar, plus a bit of keyboards around the edges to wrap the chorus in. I liked California Man as well, which sounds like a pretty good cover of a really good Zeppelin song. However, the rest just went in one ear and out the other; after three listens, I couldn’t hum any of the songs if you paid me.
I get that at the time, the album was probably pushing a few boundaries here and there. Cheap Trick did leave a legacy that helped shape the music landscape, and it’s entirely possible that my (sometimes arbitrary) tastes just didn’t go for the music that came out around the same time. But no…there was some truly badass albums arriving in 1978 – Some Girls by the Rolling Stones; The Cars by The Cars; and Van Halen by Van Halen, to name a few. (Admittedly, 1978’s top singles were by the Bee Gees, John Travolta & Olivia John, The Village People, and Boney M (via Wikipedia), so it wasn’t a totally awesome year).
But, I mean c’mon…the opening track of Heaven Tonight (Surrender) vs. the opening track of Van Halen (Runnin’ With the Devil). No contest. Compared to some of the other music that came out the same year, Heaven Tonight is weak, weak sauce.
My personal opinion: 2
Would I recommend?: 2
Influenced my tastes: 0
Worth the hype? 3
 
alain-dupuisAlain DuPuis’s Review

I first heard of Cheap Trick was when I was about 12. I didn’t know much about them except for the fact that they had allegedly come upon their band name after playing with a Ouija Board. This, to my 12 year-old mind, led me to equate the band with danger and rebellion. At the time, danger and rebellion was often all it took for me to get excited about an artist and dive right into their music. For some reason, I just never did with Cheap Trick.
Listening to Heaven Tonight for this month’s Sonic Collective definitely marks the most time I’ve ever spent exploring the music of Cheap Trick, and I’m glad Scott chose this one, because I definitely think I’ve been missing out.
It should be said that I didn’t enjoy the entire album. Some songs, such as California Man and the title track Heaven Tonight didn’t really do much for me, but I found myself rocking out to Auf Wiedersehen, and Surrender every time I threw the album on. Takin’ Me Back and On the Radio were both pretty catchy. To my ears, a few of the tracks sounded a bit too much alike. The guitar riffs are the reason for this, I suspect. They just didn’t really seem to break any new ground there. I was impressed by Robin Zander’s vocals. He seems to have a fair amount of versatility in his singing abilities. Strangely, despite this being a studio album, it sounded a bit low-fi for my tastes. (Budokan somehow sounded crisper to me.)
The album was solid overall, and I would imagine it would have made for a pretty fun concert-going experience. I’m kinda bummed I never got into Cheap Trick earlier on. They are a decent classic rock band, and they’re capable of writing some catchy stuff if you ever feel like some old anthem rock that doesn’t suck (Lookin’ at you, Kiss).
I’d encourage you to check out Cheap Trick at Budokan. I think I like it even more than Heaven Tonight.
My personal opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 3.5
Worth the hype? 4
 
Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

The 70s was an exciting time for music, full of experimentation in established genres and new genres spinning up weekly. To get a sense of what was going on when Cheap Trick’s Heaven Tonight came out I had a look at other significant releases that year:

  • Who Are You – The Who (final album)
  • Rumours – Fleetwood Mac (best album?)
  • Some Girls – The Rolling Stones
  • Outlandos d’Amour – The Police (first album)
  • The Cars – The Cars (first album)
  • Van Halen – Van Halen (first album)

When I think of rock in the 70s, I think of long-haired white dudes, jumpsuits bedazzled, standing three-across on a stadium stage belting out amazing harmonies and guitar riffs. Live. They’re the product of a generation that hasn’t lost hope, but needed an outlet for the political and economic tensions of their time.
By the time Cheap Trick cuts Heaven Tonight, they’ve got their sound down, their identity clear. They belong somewhere alongside The Who and The Rolling Stones sound-wise, but they’re speaking to a different generation. I could see them partying with Eddie and David over Keith and Mick, although at this point the Stones would have better “party favours”.
But, scene set, on to the music:
So, if all you’ve ever heard is Surrender (and could get five stars on hard), you need to pick up this album and give it a full listen. It’s Masters class on 70s stadium rock, aggressive guitar riffs and crisp drum-fuelled baselines. Layered overtop this are equally-crisp vocals delivering lyrics that speak to the heart of a generation.
Drugs, parent issues, girl problems, everything you ever felt angsty about growing up. They call out the radio stations (and us) for escapism (On the Radio), tell defeatists to eff-off (Auf Wiedersehen) and hey, your parents might not be all the bad! (Surrender) Oh yeah, drugs and partying are awesome. (They might have been, I was cresting into solid foods in the 70s.)
So, give the album a listen to. It deserves your attention at least once. How much you enjoy it might come down to whether you were falling in with the Who, Stones and other old-guard groups that dominated the start of the 70s or the new sounds being ushered in by groups like The Cars, Van Halen and The Police. If you’re like me, I was much more familiar with the later groups, but still hold a deep appreciation for the earlier. If you’re looking closely, you can still see the same influences all work across all these later bands.
My personal opinion: 3
Would I recommend: 4
Influenced my tastes: 2
Worth the hype: 4