Saturday, October 30, 2010

Quarter Century Review: Spreading The Disease

Spreading The Disease
Island Records
Produced by Anthrax and Carl Canedy

My issue with early Anthrax has never been the songwriting. It is quite impressive the amount of melody they managed to jam into all the heaviness. The first half of Spreading The Disease is especially impressive. Concert staple "A.I.R.," and classic "Madhouse," are massive achievements and are widely considered the band's flashpoint.

My problem, while always, present truly rears its ugly head in the second half of the album. Joey Belladonna's voice is that ugly head. While this is his first album with the group, he never did much more than hold the band back from truly breaking through. "Lone Justice," and "S.S.C.," could have been amazing if they weren't hampered by hair metal vocals. Even Pantera used to sound like this and it took them the better part of a decade to figure out that a stylistic change was necessary. Eventually, Anthrax would follow their lead but it wouldn't be for 8 more years. The result is a very top-heavy album that hints at a greater ability and reveals the measures it would take for the band to realize its potential.

Overall Grade = 7.92

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quarter Century Review: Frankenchrist

Dead Kennedys
Alternative Tentacles
Produced by Jello Biafra

This, the last studio album by the Dead Kennedys, is largely devoid of anthem quality. There are plenty of great messages. Right off the bat, "Soup Is Good Food," is a Eastern-tinged musical adventure that expands the idea of Punk or Hardcore as well as good advice for kids and their diets. "MTV - Get Off The Air," is a request that, unfortunately, was never granted.

Frankenchrist, great song titles not withstanding, sounds called in. East Bay Ray's guitars are well done but uninspired. Jello Biafra's vocals sound as they always do but without spitting vitriol. The Dead Kennedys were a band that motivated punks to riot and be counted. There are no moments of such revolutionary sincerity here. A good album but hardly a worthy sendoff for such an awe inspiring band.

Overall Grade = 7.83

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Quarter Century Review: Listen Like Thieves

Listen Like Thieves
Produced by Chris Thomas

As far as an album containing the strongest singles of the year, 1985 had Listen Like Thieves. A somewhat forgotten album compared to mega-hit Kick, this album was the Aussie band's breakthrough and beginning of their creative apex. "What You Need," is as good a start-off as any and doesn't let up with the wonderful title track. Those along with "Shine Like It Does," and "This Time," revealed that singer Michael Hutchence and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Farriss could be a potent creative team. Not to be discounted is the influence and guiding hand of producer Chris Thomas, who had the unique distinction of having previously worked with The Beatles and The Sex Pistols.

Hutchence's voice is just a cooler, less abrasive Jagger croon while the Brothers Farriss provide the backing. There aren't any epically disappointing tracks on Listen Like Thieves and that's more than one can hope for most times. "Same Direction," is a fine deep cut that deserved some airplay in the "We Are The World," pop landscape. Is this largely pop fluff? Sure, but that doesn't make it less well-performed ear candy. This is a pleasure I refuse to be guilty of.

Overall Grade = 8.37