Monday, July 31, 2017

1015. Edguy / Monuments. 2017. 4/5

Given the enormous amount of jumping between his two major projects that goes on, one wonders when Tobi Sammet has time to sit back and take a collective look at life itself. To be honest, does he start to spread himself a little thin? My argument for some time is that it is almost impossible to push yourself so hard between your day band – Edguy – and your guilty pleasure – Avantasia – and not spread yourself or your material a little thin. Thus, and I may be alone in this thinking, I believe that the past couple of Edguy albums have suffered from the fact that the best of Tobi’s creative juices have been flowing into Avantasia material rather than Edguy songs. Whether or not that is the case, when it came time to put together this album together to celebrate 25 years of Edguy’s existence, I think maybe it could be held as a reminder as to the power of some the earlier material of the band compared to the latter day songs.

So here is Monuments, the five disc and 160 page book collated from their entire career, consisting of two CDs which constitutes a greatest hits package, a DVD of a live performance from the Hellfire Club tour as well as other video clips, and two CDs of that live performance. It is a ripping collection, one that all fans of the band will love. As a true standing of ‘greatest hits’… well, everyone will have a different opinion on what that consists of.
The five new songs start off the collection, and I think they are great. In fact, comparing those five songs - “Ravenback”, “Wrestle the Devil”, “Open Sesame”, “Landmarks” and “The Mountaineer” – to the next three songs on the album, “9-2-9” from Tinnitus Sanctus, “Defenders of the Crown” from Space Police: Defenders of the Crown and “Save Me” from Rocket Ride, and I think you have a fair comparison to what I was saying earlier about the Edguy/Avantasia conundrum. The new songs have that sparkle back, whereas the three songs from those three albums (albums which I wholly admit didn’t tickle my fancy) seems to be missing vital elements. Good news for the new songs, and perhaps some justification for my feelings otherwise.
The other choices for the remainder of the first CD though are top shelf. Anything from Hellfire Club gets top votes from me, and the addition of “Ministry of Saints” and the masterful “Tears of a Mandrake” makes for fantastic listening. The second CD opens with the wonderful “Mysteria” and “Vain Glory Opera”, and then mixes in some older stuff, some less well known stuff and a bit more of the latter day material as well. That they managed to find a place for one song off Age of the Joker, the average “Rock of Cashel”, was surely more for appearances than for being a truly ‘great’ hit. Honestly, how a song like “We Don’t Need a Hero” doesn’t make the collection in front of at least half of these tracks is beyond me. But that comes back again to an individual’s taste.

Fans like me already have all of the albums, so buying this comes down to the five new unreleased songs (worth it), and the live CDs and DVD (worth it). 25 years is a fair journey for this band to have gone on. It has been a fun journey at that. The good news is that I don’t think the journey is over yet.

Rating:   "Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the freak show!"  4/5

Friday, July 28, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day28

Bill, if you come with me, you'll float too... you'll float too... you'll float too... you'll float too... you'll float too... YOU'LL FLOAT TOO!!!! #StephenKingsIt #31DaysOfScotch #Day28 — at The Metal Cavern.

IT - Official Trailer 3

FFS just freaking get here already!!!

1014. Killers / Murder One. 1992. 3.5/5

Having worked through a decade after his release from Iron Maiden, Paul Di’anno had produced a number of albums from a number of different projects. From the soft rock project under his own banner Di’anno, to an almost-superband experiment in Gogmagog, to several good reviews for his work with Battlezone, into a one-off tour with Praying Mantis, Paul had shown that he could still come up with material that was catchy and relevant, though mixed in with some less than exciting songs. His next port of call was in forming the band called Killers, and their debut release was this album, Murder One

Much like the other projects as mentioned above, and indeed of those that were to follow, there is enough good stuff here to suggest that Paul and his new comrades had a viable concern with their band. Opening track “Impaler” jumps straight out at you at a galloping speed with Paul’s vocals riding on a wave of hard hitting drums and pleasing riff variation. “The Beast Arises” doesn’t come as fast but is hard and heavy throughout, while Di’anno reaches for the screams of youth at different times of the song. The cover version of T-Rex’s “Children of the Revolution” had the potential to be a real stomping effort, full of power and individuality, and while this version is fine it didn’t really do anything that could have set it apart from other versions of the song. It’s not disappointing but it just isn’t fabulous either. “S&M” and “Takin’ No Prisoners” are reasonable variables of the previous songs, though the intensity is dialled back, and to be honest they drag on too long with not enough to keep them above the water line in regards to interest.
On the brighter side, “Marshall Lokjaw” is for me the best song Di’anno wrote in his post-Maiden collection of bands and projects. It has the high energy from both the band and vocalist that you would expect. This is where his vocals excel, the kind of song he has always been meant to sing. A rollicking backing track, setting the platform for Di’anno to give us the performance that he can, singing the storyline that the lyrics provide and allowing him to be centre stage for the entirety of the song, interspersed with the dual guitar solos in the middle. Terrific stuff. If only he could have based more of his music around this track.
“Protector” continues in the hard rock arena, with a simplistic riff line and drum set. “Dream Keeper” changes the tempo and style up completely, going for the mix between slower AOR 70’s sound and a Whitesnake or UFO like whining guitar. I can get the ideas of what they tried with this track, I just don’t think they quite got it. “Awakening” sticks to the standard tempo and 2/4 drum beat with Di’anno almost chanting his lyrics throughout.
Whether it was necessary to tack on the cover of “Remember Tomorrow” is open to question. The version is a good one, and Paul still sings it well, but surely by now it was time to take away the focus from the music that brought him his fame, and live or die by his own material. Or perhaps that is just it, he cannot sever himself from that period of his life. Looking back from 2017, that’s still accurate.

There is enough good material here to make you think this band could make a real go of it, and start producing some even better material. The album’s major problem was its conception date, smack bang in the middle of the grunge era, which for a short time was influencing everything in music. As such, albums like this were buried and forgotten. More is the pity. Five years earlier this may have made a mark. Perhaps even five years later. Instead, in retrospect it is a more than listenable album, and perhaps the closest Paul ever came being able to forge a band and career away from that other one he was in once.

Rating:  “Marshall Lokjaw, all guns blazing!”  3/5

Thought For the Day

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day26

So let's make a comparison. What looks more appealing. My refreshing scotch or @her13000's feral haircut. Discuss. #31DaysOfScotch #Day26

Axis of Awesome - 4 Four Chord Song (with song titles)

You've probably seen this a thousand times, but it is always worth reliving one more time.

Thought For the Day

1013. Mötley Crüe / Shout at the Devil. 1983. 5/5

Back in my teenage years, in the middle of the Age of Discovery where new music and new bands were hopping out of the ground by the dozen, I gained my first exposure to the band . Initially it was through the video clip for the song “Looks That Kill” that had popped up on music video programs at specified times, and eventually a friend picked up the album Shout at the Devil and taped it for me. Thus began my love affair with this band in general, but on a wider scale the hair metal genre as a whole.

In the years since of course I have all of the Crüe’s albums which meant having also listened to their debut album, which preceded this. It had been a good album that showed promise, but not on a scale that this album produced. The jump in quality and energy between it and this is quite remarkable. Some fans disagree and think that this album waters down the punkish edge that the debut had and thus made it less alternative and more mainstream. I can see where that argument could be made, but the extra ‘polish’ that may appear to be here does actually help to tie in the whole album rather than expose any lesser tracks such as could be argued appear on Too Fast for Love. Here on Shout at the Devil there is a nice mixture of tempo on the songs without ever losing the energy and power of the album, and each member of the band can be thanked for that. Tommy Lee’s hard hitting drums are a constant metronome. He doesn’t always sound like he is doing anything special outside of a regular drum beat, until you realise that the nuances he uses are so much more than average, they are extraordinary. His drum sound on this album is perfect, it doesn’t take centre stage nor is it hidden in the background, it rides along with the other four in harmony. Nikki Sixx’s base lines rumble along in much the same way, not appearing to be out of the ordinary but in fact are driving the songs, supplying the energy in the tracks throughout. Mick Mars and his guitar shine along the way, not only matching the riff of his bass partner but making the perfect punctuations when his solo slot comes up in each song. Topping this off is the marvellous vocals from Vince Neil whose falsetto voice pierces through in places that are sometime unexpected, supported by the chanting back up voices of his three band mates to allow him to be the star out front.
As to the songs themselves, I love every one of them on this album. That could be put down to having had this album imprinted in my brain back in those early days rather than the songs being spectacularly good, but that is the advantage of listening to the album and not just having heard a couple of singles off the album. For instance, most people would know “Looks That Kill” as it is a well aired video and song, but how many of those people would know of songs such as “Bastard” and “Red Hot”, or the album closer “Danger”? A very low percentage I would suspect, and these songs to me are just as enjoyable and important as “Looks That Kill” is. “Bastard” and “Red Hot” are the two fastest tempo songs on the album, and help to raise the action and adrenaline of the song list. They’re not singles by a long shot, but they are terrific songs that make up the core of the album itself. “Knock ‘em Dead Kid” and “Ten Seconds to Love” settle in that same range that every great album needs, the songs that may not be the stars of the show, but are terrific supporting cast. Then you can add in the excellent cover of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”, which to me is the best version of this song, by any band. Again, the key word is ‘energy’ and this version has plenty of that in order to get the most out of it.
“Shout at the Devil” and “Too Young to Fall in Love” are the two real foot stompers on the album, based around the great Mick Mars riffs and leading drums from Tommy Lee. They both have that heavy mid-tempo riff with the drum pattern that encourages not only hard foot tapping in time but a solid head banging rhythm as well. And that is one of the key characteristics of this album. Perhaps the song structure isn’t complex or difficult, but it is enjoyable and entertaining, and that’s all you can ask of an album.

Plenty have suggested this is Mötley Crüe’s finest hour. There is enough evidence here to suggest that’s a fair comment. I believe they at least equalled this with Dr. Feelgood a few years down the track, but as much as I like their other surrounding albums I don’t think they get close to this one in terms of greatness. The formula comes up as a winner on this album, and when I put this on three days ago to listen to a couple of times while I reviewed it here, it has now been on constant playback for those entire three days, and there is every chance it will continue to stay on my playlist now for a while to come. Surely that alone is enough to indicate just how highly I rate it.

Rating:  “He'll be the risk in the kiss, might be anger on your lips”  5/5

The Twilight Zone (The Original Series 1959-1964): All Episodes Rated and Ranked

On January 11, 2016, a little over 18 months ago, I set myself on a quest. To re-watch every episode of the original Twilight Zone series in order, and to rank, rate and review each one of them. Last night I succeeded in completing this quest, the result of which some of you have been able to join me in my journey, and many of you will not doubt just be glad that it is over.

For the most part, this has been a lot of fun. At times it has felt pointless and hard to press on, mostly for the fact that I know practically no one reads what I write, and that doing it didn't really serve any purpose.

Except that it did. It encouraged me to re-watch every episode of this wonderful series, of which not enough positives can ever be written. It was groundbreaking at the time, and some of the writing and acting is absolutely exceptional. Not all of it, mind you, because there are times when you get two or three average episodes back to back that you think it's time to stop. But by going through with this I was able to continue on and re-discover some real gems of which I had either completely forgotten about, or perhaps had never seen for whatever reason.

On top of all of that, of being able to have re-watched every episode, and now be sure I have seen them all, I was able to create my own definitive ranking of every episode, which is something I like to do. In this way, I can be sure that this is how I feel about each episode, and not just guess through a half dozen that I know I love, and not be sure about the rest.

Of the 156 episodes over five series, I have rated 73 episodes with a four out of five or better. In my rankings, I believe that anything of four or better is an exceptional episode, ones that have that special quality that will have you wanting to watch them again and again. As it turns out, that is almost half of the episodes in this series that I feel this way about. I would hazard a guess that, over such a long series this would be very high.

And so, for those that have waited for this moment, the list below is my personal list, in order, of the episodes of The Twilight Zone. Some will be obvious, but others may surprise.

Thanks for taking the journey with me. Perhaps we'll do it again some day.

S01 E22: The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
S01 E08: Time Enough at Last
S01 E10: Judgement Night
S01 E18: The Last Flight
S05 E03: Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
S01 E21: Mirror Image
S01 E14: Third From the Sun
S02 E18: The Odyssey of Flight 33
S03 E24: To Serve Man
S01 E11: And When the Sky Was Opened
S04 E11: The Parallel
S01 E30: A Stop at Willoughby
S02 E15: The Invaders
S01 E15: I Shot an Arrow into the Air
S05 E30: Stopover in a Quiet Town
S05 E14: You Drive
S05 E13: Ring-a-Ding Girl
S01 E34: The After Hours
S04 E03: Valley of the Shadow
S05 E22: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
S03 E25: The Fugitive
S05 E16: The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross

S03 E09: Deaths-Head Revisited
S02 E28: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
S03 E08: It's a Good Life
S02 E29: The Obsolete Man
S02 E06: Eye of the Beholder
S02 E25: The Silence
S05 E06: Living Doll
S03 E05: A Game of Pool

S02 E10: A Most Unusual Camera
S02 E09: The Trouble With Templeton
S02 E23: A Hundred Yards Over the Rim
S04 E06: Death Ship
S02 E07: Nick of Time
S04 E04: He's Alive
S01 E23: A World of Difference
S02 E16: A Penny For Your Thoughts
S02 E19: Mr. Dingle, the Strong
S04 E17: Passage on the Lady Anne
S03 E21: Kick the Can
S03 E37: The Changing of the Guard
S03 E15: A Quality of Mercy
S05 E35: The Fear
S01 E07: The Lonely
S05 E26: I Am the Night – Colour Me Black
S03 E14: Five Characters in Search of an Exit
S01 E06: Escape Clause
S04 E10: No Time Like the Past
S03 E30: Hocus-Pocus and Frisby
S03 E07: The Grave
S04 E02: The Thirty Fathom Grave
S04 E09: Printer's Devil
S02 E05: The Howling Man
S01 E36: A World of His Own
S04 E14: Of Late I Think of Cliffordville
S02 E03: Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room
S01 E02: One For the Angels
S05 E29: The Jeopardy Room
S03 E35: I Sing the Body Electric
S05 E19: Night Call
S04 E13: The New Exhibit
S05 E05: The Last Night of a Jockey
S04 E16: On Thursday We Leave for Home
S03 E29: Four O'Clock
S01 E25: People Are Alike All Over
S05 E07: The Old Man in the Cave
S04 E15: The Incredible World of Horace Ford
S01 E12: What You Need
S04 E12: I Dream of Genie
S03 E31: The Trade-Ins
S01 E01: Where is Everybody?
S03 E18: Dead Man's Shoes

S03 E03: The Shelter
S03 E02: The Arrival
S02 E26: Shadow Play
S03 E32: The Gift
S05 E04: A Kind of Stopwatch
S03 E27: Person or Persons Unknown
S03 E13: Once Upon a Time
S03 E16: Nothing in the Dark
S04 E05: Mute
S05 E10: The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms
S01 E19: The Purple Testament
S03 E04: The Passerby
S02 E21: The Prime Mover
S01 E28: A Nice Place to Visit
S05 E09: Probe 7, Over and Out
S03 E33: The Dummy
S05 E28: Caesar and Me
S02 E20: Static
S05 E24: What’s in the Box?
S01 E20: Elegy
S05 E15: The Long Morrow
S01 E26: Execution
S01 E05: Walking Distance
S05 E32: Mr. Garrity and the Graves
S05 E31: The Encounter
S04 E08: Miniature
S04 E01: In His Image
S05 E33: The Brain Center at Whipple's
S05 E20: From Agnes – With Love
S03 E23: The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank
S02 E04: A Thing About Machines
S01 E09: Perchance to Dream
S05 E08: Uncle Simon

S03 E19: The Hunt
S02 E22: Long Distance Call
S02 E02: The Man in the Bottle
S03 E20: Showdown With Rance McGrew
S01 E24: Long Live Walter Jameson
S02 E11: The Night of the Meek
S02 E17: Twenty Two
S03 E26: Little Girl Lost
S05 E02: Steel
S01 E35: The Mighty Casey
S03 E28: The Little People
S02 E01: King Nine Will Not Return
S01 E03: Mr. Denton on Doomsday
S02 E14: The Whole Truth
S05 E23: Queen of the Nile
S04 E18: The Bard
S05 E34: Come Wander With Me
S03 E17: One More Pallbearer
S01 E16: The Hitch-Hiker
S05 E12: Ninety Years Without Slumbering
S02 E24: The Rip Van Winkle Caper
S05 E18: Black Leather Jackets
S01 E17: The Fever
S02 E27: The Mind and the Matter
S01 E04: The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine
S05 E27: Sounds and Silences
S03 E22: A Piano in the House
S05 E25: The Masks
S05 E01: In Praise of Pip
S03 E06: The Mirror
S05 E21: Spur of the Moment
S03 E11: Still Valley
S05 E17: Number 12 Looks Just Like You

S03 E36: Cavender Is Coming
S03 E10: Midnight Sun
S01 E33: Mr. Bevis
S03 E01: Two
S01 E31: The Chaser
S01 E27: The Big Tall Wish
S03 E12; The Jungle
S01 E29: Nightmare as a Child
S01 E32: A Passage for Trumpet

S05 E11: A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain
S02 E13: Back There
S02 E08: The Lateness of the Hour
S05 E36: The Bewitchin' Pool
S02 E12: Dust
S04 E07: Jess-Belle
S01 E13: The Four of Us Are Dying

S03 E34: Young Man's Fancy

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E36: The Bewitchin’ Pool

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E36: The Bewitchin’ Pool

Having the ending as the beginning of the episode, only to go back and explain the story before coming to the ending again, perhaps robs this episode of any chance of maintaining your interest all the way through. Why? Well if there is to be a twist, then it has already been revealed, and all you then have to watch is the story once you know how it finishes. It doesn’t really make any sense.

The idea that there is a secret exit from a pool into another world - yes, that portal through the Twilight Zone – is fine, as is the idea behind why the children end up looking for an escape. Although the parents feel a bit overblown, just pushing too hard at that idea that they are unhappy and looking to separate. Both of their attitudes, so very demanding of the kids, just seems a tad unreal to be believable, especially when at the end 9or is it the start?) of the episode they are so worried about them having disappeared. It’s less than ideal. And the same exists for Aunt T. She seems a little too overbearing for kids to suddenly warm to instead of their own home.

Is it a complete loss? Probably not, but realistically it is not one of the better episodes of the series. And that is a shame, given it was the final one aired before the show was cancelled.

Rating: Stepping inside the pool. 2/5.

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E35: The Fear

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E35: The Fear

It’s the ‘one room’ plays that can often be the best episodes of the Twilight Zone, given that you only have the reactions of the immediate participants to judge what exactly can be happening in such a scenario. Such is the premise here in The Fear, where a well-used scenario is put to its test once again.

In the long run, the episode actually works out quite well. The rapport between the two lead characters, policeman Robert and socialite Charlotte, is well explored, with the nervous Charlotte, who has moved to this isolated location to recover from her anxiety, suddenly believing she is being stalked. It isn’t long before the trooper finds he believes her, and is struck by the strange things going on around them. His car moving by itself, and then mysteriously being returned to its position, but with two large fingerprints on it. Even the final reveal of their stalker, the enormous one-eyed alien, doesn’t come across as corny at all. Indeed, the ending of the episode is well done, and ties the whole story together nicely for a satisfying conclusion.

Given the performances of the two actors in the story, this is much more pleasing than you would have initially expected if you just read the story outline. It’s worth the watch.

Rating: Eye can see you! 4/5

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day25

Joshua approves of taking over the Metal Cavern to watch the final of Ninja Warrior. I will suffer the lounge room and probably some home show #31DaysOfScotch #Day25

Thought For the Day

Monday, July 24, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day24

1012. Yngwie J. Malmsteen's Rising Force / Odyssey. 1988. 4/5

Yngwie Malmsteen’s fight for commercial recognition and success had continued to build throughout the 1980’s. He had a tough fight on his hands. Not only did he want to showcase his amazing guitaring, but he wanted to do it in a fashion that would also find itself commercially viable in the world of rock radio around the globe. No easy feat. The recruiting of the Johannsen brothers, keyboardist Jens and drummer Anders helped to settle the band, especially the keyboard and synth skills of Jens, but what was perhaps the best commercial move was the obtaining of former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner as front man for the album. The result was this album, and in that commercial sense Odyssey became the most successful of Yngwie’s career.

When this was released back in 1988, I just loved it. It was one of four or five albums that year that I wore to death, furrowing deeper grooves in the vinyl and stretching the tape on the cassette copy by the number of times I played it. Even those songs that were of the slower, verging on ballad-like qualities, the ones that in the not-too-distant future I would be decrying as a menace to heavy metal, I still loved and sang along to. Some people around me would write this album off as trash, as just a narcissist on guitar surrounded by musical fluff and patsy lyrics by a narcissist on vocals. In those days I was mostly blind to any of that. I loved the tempo and the atmosphere of the tracks, and the honeyed vocals of Turner allowed me to generally wash over the lyrics and just enjoy the songs as they came out at me. Any arguments to the contrary were for me shut down by the massive disappointment of the following album Eclipse which really did head down a complete commercial path. Again, I was mostly blinded against any criticism.
Listening to this album today, you can hear that it has dated quite massively. It is very much tied to the era, with the keyboard and synth highly involved despite the master craftsman on guitar being the showcase piece. And without appearing to bow to those naysayers of the past, Turner’s vocals and some of his lyrics are just a little too stonewashed and gratified to be completely comfortable with. It would be an easy thing to dismiss this as a stereotypical 80’s overhyped synth guitar album with little or no substance, and place it back in the racks.
But there is still more to this album than that.
It has those moments that are obvious attempts to crack into that radio market, songs that have been crafted by both the writer of the music (Malmsteen) and the writer of the lyrics (Turner) to find their way into the popular market. The single released from the album, “Heaven Tonight”, had that kind of business trade, the music video also helping to raise its profile. It may not have made the grade in Australia, but overseas the single saw good sales and promotion of the album itself. It is a genuine single, written to be so, and yet it is still enjoyable from a purist Yngwie fan to love. “Hold On” and “Dreaming (Tell Me)” are both in the power ballad category, though with that distinctive Yngwie guitar sound that puts it at a bit above that level, giving you something to enjoy that doesn’t always come with a power ballad. “Now is the Time” is not in this class of song, but it is quite a sugary rock song that suits the radio metaphor. If someone were to say to me that these were rubbish songs that made the album unenjoyable to them, I could understand where they were coming from. Not agree, but understand.
Because then you have the songs on here that make the ride well worthwhile. The opening track “Rising Force” is a cracker, starting the album off on the right foot and at the right tempo. After the somewhat powder puff remainder of the first side of the album it concludes with the rollicking “Riot in the Dungeons” which increases the tempo nicely. The second side of the album has the two star attractions, those being “Déjà Vu” and “Crystal Ball”. Either or both of these should have been singles if Yngwie was really serious about hitting that commercial market, and not because they are commercial songs in the same way that “Heaven Tonight” is. Both have those characteristics but they are not purposely written in that way. Both are great sounding hard rock track backed by trademark Malmsteen riffs and terrific vocals from Turner that make them stand out from the crowd. “Crystal Ball” especially is a terrific track that is still one of my favourite Yngwie songs. “Faster Than the Speed of Light” is also a fun faster track on the back half of the album. To top it all off, the three instrumental tracks – “Bite the Bullet”, “Krakatau” and “Memories” – all showcase Yngwie’s wonderful skills to their utmost.

I have no doubt that if I was rating this back in 1990 I would have been throwing full marks at this album. As I said, I loved this back in the day. With years for both the album and my music tastes to mellow somewhat, I accept that there are a few flaws on the album that I may well have ignored when it was released. None of that wipes away my enjoyment of this album to this day however. It may not be perfect and it may come across as overblown, but I still love it for all its cracks.

Rating:  “Through the doorways of the heart, step inside, the magic starts.”   4/5

Albion Park JSC Under 10 White vs Helensburgh Gold

Indy Middleton attacks hard as the defenders clear
There’s nothing very pleasant about having to get up at 3.00am on a Saturday morning in order to arrive on time for junior soccer, but that was what was (almost) necessary when you get drawn to play at Helensburgh at 8.30am when travelling from Albion Park. Thus this somewhat ridiculous oversight faced the Albion Park Junior Soccer Club’s Under 10 White team in their match last Saturday against Helensburgh. The temperature that awaited of 2 degrees was also a tough ask for players and spectators alike.

On the field, the two teams appeared well matched. Although the Albion Park boys and girls had the better of the play in the first half, the defence especially of the Helensburgh team was impressive, consistently foiling any attacking leads from the Whites. The back three of Jack Tate, Jack-Ryan Eberwein and Belle Kadwell had few opportunities to be involved, but did well in tackling their opponents and clearing the ball from the danger area. On the one ball that made it through their wall, it was well saved by Brock Young in goals, moving well across the goals to keep the attackers at bay. At the other end, chances were bountiful but unable to be converted. One corner from Josh Peters curled to within sight of the line, only to be kept out by a last minute scrabble from one of the Helensburgh defenders. Not long after a short corner to Indy Middleton was passed back to Josh whose full blooded shot was stopped only by the goalpost. Both Noah Black and Ky Van Helden had great shots at goal, only to be denied by the goal keepers legs. Despite the domination of attack, the scores were level 0-0 at half time.

From the very start of the second half, the Park team intensified their attack, but continued to be denied. Ky had not one but two wonderful shots on goal again blocked by the goal keeper. It sometimes is amazing how often the ball is kicked directly at the keeper instead of to either side of them. The injection of super sub Zahli Middleton into the game brought her energetic desperation to the rest of the team, and they kept buzzing around the goals. There was some fear amongst the spectators that with all of this possession and inability to score that the unthinkable could happen, and Helensburgh would get one chance and take advantage of it. Fortunately, their fears were laid to rest soon after when Jack Tate made a great raid down the right side, before making the perfect pass to Ky in the centre. Who beat one player and struck the ball truly past the keeper to finally give the Albion Park Whites the lead at 1-0.

As well as everyone else was playing, there was little doubt about who was the player of the day. Zoe Middleton didn’t stop all day, harassing and attacking her opponents, not giving them even a seconds rest. At throw ins and corners, no matter where her direct opponents was moving to, she was stuck to them, making sure she was in front of them and denying them any access to the ball. Her play was terrific, and it deserved a reward. This she received with about eight minutes to go, after a wonderful shot at goal from Noah had been brilliantly saved by the keeper, but the ball fell from his grasp, and Zoe was on the spot to strike it home for her first goal of the season, and a deserved 2-0 lead for the visiting team, and almost sending her father into heart palpitations.

Helensburgh tried hard to bridge the gap, but the defence of Brock and Belle as well as Jack-Ryan in goals was able to force back every attempt, Jack-Ryan in particular looking extremely confident In his custodian role. At full time Albion Park had won a tough match 2-0, a score line that probably didn’t reflect their domination of the match but certainly provided some reward for the effort of the Helensburgh team.

Player of the Match was awarded to Zoe for her terrific endeavours on the day, a much deserved award for one of the most improved players in the team.

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E34: Come Wander With Me

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E34: Come Wander With Me

I still have as much trouble with this episode as I ever had. While the story may come together in the end, it takes far too long to try and piece together what the hell is going on, and then once you do you struggle to deal with the way the protagonist come to its conclusion.

There’s too many questions. For a start, old mate at the shop who doesn’t talk and doesn’t indicate anything – what the hell is that all about? Why would Floyd go any further when he was being obviously no help whatsoever? Then there is the whole thing about wanting to buy a song for his next big hit, and hears about four lines of a song from Mary Rachel and he MUST have it. Seriously? Are we expected to believe this rubbish? And then the appearance of Billy Rayford, and the whole accidental death. OK, I know we are supposed to be just acting out the song lyrics here, but it is all too staged. Yes, it is supposed to be that way, but couldn’t it have been more ‘realistic’ to go along with song? And the end, with Floyd hiding in a shop and being found. Why not keep running all the way back to his car and out of there? Sorry, not buying it.

We might be in the Twilight Zone, but there needs to be a little bit more believability to a story to have me wanting to come back to an episode in the future. This doesn’t have it.

Rating: A song to die for. 3/5

Thought For the Day

Sunday, July 23, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day23

Strap yourselves in everyone. Final day of the 2017 Open from Royal Birkdale is on. Cheering on Matt Kuchar to bring home the bacon. For both of us! #TheOpen #31DaysOfScotch #Day23

WESTWORLD Season 2 Trailer (2018)

The first season was awesome. Looking forward to the second series, even without Anthony Hopkins.

Justice League Comic-Con Trailer (2017) | Movieclips Trailers

Looks like we could finally have a DC Universe that comes close to the Marvel Universe.

Thor: Ragnarok Comic-Con Trailer (2017) | Movieclips Trailers

Holy crap. This looks amazing!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day22

We await the arrival of many families to interrupt my golf viewing with AFL and scotch #31DaysOfScotch #Day22 #RichieDay #ChwentyChew

Friday, July 21, 2017

Chester Bennington - Another Senseless Suicide

I have never been the biggest fan of Linkin Park. In fact, if you asked me to name any song or any album after this one, I doubt that I could do it.
But Hybrid Theory was huge when it was released, and it even cracked the radio mainstream market, so exposure to the singles at least was always going to happen. Still, there is a lot to like about parts of this album even today, such that people who enjoy an array of different genres can probably find something to take from it.

I've been giving it a spin again today in memory of Chester Bennington, who decided too hang himself in his California home this morning Australian time. It is yet another senseless waste of a life, and I feel for his wife and children, as well as his bandmates who have not only lost a friend but an important part of their make up. Suicide is never the answer, it can't be. there has to be a better way of dealing with whatever is going on in your life or your head. It is such a disappointment.

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day21

#TheOpen Day 2. Chilli chips, M&M's and scotch. Friday evening sorted #31DaysOfScotch #Day21

Thought For the Day

1011. Dokken / Under Lock and Key. 1985. 3.5/5

Having found their stride with their second album Tooth and Nail, Dokken was looking to further announce themselves with this third album, Under Lock and Key. In an era where hair metal was beginning to gain a greater hold of the airwaves especially with the soft rock ballads that were seeping through along with the advent of music videos, it’s interesting to find that while those kind of sounds do find a way onto this album it is not dominated by them as much as could possibly have been the case.

The opening song “Unchain the Night” has that hard hitting mid-range tempo that Dokken liked to settle into in their prime, with the solid rhythm of Mick Brown and Jeff Pilson allowing Don Dokken to showcase his great voice, backed by the harmony of Jeff and Mick, and then opens up for the smooth flowing George Lynch guitar solo that highlighted the best tracks. There’s nothing outstanding about the opening track, but it is a solid opening to the album. “The Hunter” is similarly structured and is again another wholly enjoyable song without it ever stepping out and announcing itself as an outstanding track. “In My Dreams” moves down a different track, not being the ballad type of song that is yet to come, but with a somewhat gentler and higher vocal range being used it engenders a different feel from the opening two tracks despite retaining that hard rhythm throughout. The harmony vocals are especially prevalent here rather than Don being distinctly on his own.
“Slippin’ Away” is far too much in the soft rock ballad area for my tastes. As always, I understand the need for hair metal bands to indulge themselves in these types of songs in order to draw in that part of their supporter base, but to me it just acts as a distraction to the other great material on the album. “Lightnin’ Strikes Again” picks the tempo up again nicely, with the energy in the music driven by Don’s great vocals supported by the chorus of Jeff and Mick. This leads into George’s solo punctuation which is the centrepiece, before we come to the conclusion of the song where Mick’s drumming adds to Don’s piercing high octane vocal into the finish. It’s a terrific song to finish the first side of the album.
Side Two opens with “It’s Not Love”, the tougher side of Dokken’s drawing power. The lyrics may well be about the kind of subject that rock ballads could be crafted around, but the music and attitude here ensures that this is nothing like that. A great rhythm seconded by the George Lynch guitar riff and solo, along with Don talking tough throughout makes for a song that is at the heart of Dokken’s success. Somewhat disappointingly (for me anyway) “Jaded Heart” finds its way somewhere between this kind of song and the power ballad, so although we get the tough sounding vocal in the middle of the chorus of the song, we have the cry for passion like vocal as well, while the music is designed much slower and looking more for the ballad effect than the previous song did. From here we dive back in to “Don’t Lie to Me” which is much more like the Dokken I love, with the hard riffing guitar and harmony vocals through the bridge and chorus. This is their standard go-to song, not the power ballad but not the heavier material either. And while we run a similar course with “Will the Sun Rise”, the album concludes with the upbeat and jaunty “Til the Livin’ End” which has that faster pace and Don reaching for the limit of his range.

This is an album that for me showcases the hard-working and durable side of Dokken. No song on this album will come out at you and suggest it is an ‘all-time classic’, but the album as a whole tends to work well. As the middle release of what I would consider Dokken’s highlighted triumvirate of album, bookended by Tooth and Nail and Back for the Attack, this album mightn’t be spectacular but it is still very enjoyable.

Rating:  “When the lightning strikes again”   3.5/5

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E33: The Brain Center at Whipple's

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E33: The Brain Center at Whipple's

When I originally watched this episode, the title made me think it was set in an ice cream parlour. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, the episode itself is an excellent tale on the modernisation of companies during the middle of last century, and a peek into the future itself.

The idea is solid, and is probably as relevant today as it was when it was released all those years ago. Good old Mr Whipple decides to automate some of his manufacturing business in order to increase productivity, which leads to inevitable layoffs of the human workforce. This causes some consternation and some of those people confront Whipple and try to convince him that it is a bad move. Of course, Whipple is impressed with the increased workload at less cost, and continues to employ more computers, which leads to an almost complete loss of the workforce. As always in the Twilight Zone there is a final twist of the tail, one that leads to a satisfying conclusion.

As an address on the increase in technology in the workplace, this episode shines a great big light on the industrialisation of manufacturing, while highlighting the human effect of it all as well. It mightn’t be a nice episode, but it is one that has its own story to tell.

Rating: When a machine can do your own work for you. 3.5/5

Thursday, July 20, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day20

How Good is Golf?!

The 2017 Open is underway. 

Mark O'Meara, the 1998 champion at Royal Birkdale, has the honour of playing the first shot. 
Takes an iron, hits it out of bounds.
Hits his provisional off the tee (3) into fairway bunker.
Has to just play it out onto the fairway (4).
His approach to green falls ten metres short of green (5).
Chips up to three metres (6).
Grazes the hole with his putt (7).
Gimme in hole (8).
Quadruple bogey.

As Andrew Daddo would say... "How good is golf?"


Thought For the Day

Stephen King Book #14: The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger. 4/5

Book #14: The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger.
First published June 10, 1982

“The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed”.

The opening line of what stretched to be seven volumes in The Dark Tower series is one that is still a favourite of all Stephen King fans. That one simple line opens up “The Gunslinger” and sends us on an adventure that none of us, probably including the author, knew how far it was going to take us.

There are two versions of this book, much like there are two versions of “The Stand” – the originally published story, and then an updated and slightly padded version that came out in 2003 before the final three works in the series were released. As King himself says, the original story was written without the complete fabric of what was to come had taken shape, and in places it is cobwebby and lacking in ‘authenticity’ in regards to the story that had come after it. As a result, King went back and changed a few things, as well as adding in fresh material that allowed it to tie in better with the story that was yet to come, and in this instance it most definitely improves the story and makes it much more readable. I know that when I first read “The Gunslinger” it was that original manuscript, and while I felt it was okay, it didn’t hold my interest as well. That had as much to do with me not really understanding what the story was about, and how I was supposed to accept it. I knew there were books to follow (only two others at the time I first read this), but I had a difficult time getting through it, or buying in to the characters. I’m pretty sure I left Roland out there in the desert the first time I picked this up, thinking that I would return to his story sometime when I had nothing else to read.

When King announced that he was going to finish The Dark Tower series in a rush in those opening years of the 2000’s, I knew I had to get back to the wheel and get reading, and be sure I was ready for what was coming. It was at this time that I found the updated revised edition of “The Gunslinger”, and this time it sang to me, and I found the journey very easy indeed. In fact, I was hooked. Was it because it was updated, or just because I was now ready to embark on the journey? I don’t know. Probably more the second than the first.

The passage of time is the one thing in this book that is difficult to comprehend. Given that we are led to believe Roland has been chasing the Man in Black for a lengthy period of time, and we are often told that “time has softened” and “the world had moved on”, everything is relative. We have no real idea how old Roland is, or how long ago the events he recalls from Gilead have taken place, or how long it has been since Gilead’s fall. Obviously this is part of the story, to be vague about how much time has passed between any of the events of the past. It can still be frustrating despite that.

The back and forwards nature of the story is necessary to ensure the reader gets to know Roland – past and present – before we reach the climax of the story. The town of Tull, where the Man in Black lays his trap for Roland and who only survives by his natural talents. The discovery of the Way Station in the middle of the desert, where the Man in Black lays his next trap by the drawing of Jake Chambers from his own world into Roland’s world. The meeting of the Oracle at the foot of the mountains, and the information which Roland is able to glean about what he must do in the future, and the future of Jake in his travels. The journey through the mountain, in the dark, and the meeting of the Slow Mutants within. The story told within Roland’s memory and outwardly to Jake about his ‘coming of age’ and his besting of Cort with his choice of weapon, his hawk David. All of it is documented in order that we get to know parts of this mysterious Gunslinger who seems timeless, and who is on what is surely an obsessive quest for the fabled Dark Tower.

Even with everything that has gone before, it is still a shock when Roland finally comes to the choice he has known was coming – sacrifice the life of Jake in order to catch up with the Man in Black, or rescind his quest to save the boy – that he does indeed allow Jake to fall to his death in order for him to sell his soul to catch his tormentor. It is perhaps the most telling moment of Roland’s psyche in the whole book, one that gives you a whole new perspective on his obsession. He knew he had to make this sacrifice to get to the next level of his journey, and he did it with almost no outward remorse. Even at this point the reader has to wonder what this would lead to in the future, and whether Roland would eventually be held to account for his actions.

The final palaver between the Man in Black (or Marten Broadcloak or Walter o’Dim… whichever name you want to use) and Roland probably leaves a lot to be desired. Though the Crimson King is touched upon, and it is revealed that the Man in Black is more or less just a messenger, with not as much information as he would like to have himself, the prophecies of the Oracle more or less line up with what he says here, and gives us an indication of what lies ahead in the immediate future for Roland, however his is meant to achieve it. When he awakens from his slumber he is older, and his adversary is gone, with only a skeleton remaining. Neither Roland nor the reader is fooled into believing he won’t be seen again somewhere down the track.

“The Gunslinger” is not a pleasant tale, filled as it is with multiple deaths, all more or less at Roland’s hands, some necessary and some perhaps avoidable. It introduces us to Roland as the last knight in a dying world, on his final quest to find the Dark Tower and climb its stairs to the top. For what purpose? Alas for the moment we are not aware. It is but the start of the tale, and leaves more questions than it actually answers. And while I enjoy the book, it is what follows that brings the excitement into the story. But it was five years before the tale was resumed in “The Drawing of the Three”.

Rating: T'is but the start of a long and fantastic adventure. 4/5

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E32: Mr. Garrity and the Graves

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E32: Mr. Garrity and the Graves

Here’s another one of those episodes that you work your way through, looking for the hook or twist, waiting for it to occur, and then when it comes thinking… “well, maybe they should have done something else”.

The set up and setting is all terrific. Back in the old west, in the small town, where Mr. Garrity shows up and pronounces that he can raise the dead. Disbelief abounds, as it should, until he brings a dog back from the dead that has been hit by a stage coach, and the man who was shot dead by his brother is seen to be walking down the street until the brother bribes Garrity to make him go away. All of the set-up is well done, and then the meeting up with his partner who has done the groundwork on the townsfolk, and the dog who has been trained to play dead.

So the end has come, and we discover the clueless Mr. Garrity can actually raise the dead, as the cemetery they pass I rapidly emptying as the inhabitants all head into town to confront those that had offed them in the first place. Now that’s okay, but I just felt a little gypped. Maybe the undead taking out Garrity before heading for town? I don’t know. It just felt like it was trying too hard and hadn’t quite delivered on a real Twilight Zone ending.

Rating: Night of the living dead. 3.5/5

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day19

Tonight's viewing at scotch o'clock. Hogans Heroes. #31DaysOfScotch#Day19

1010. Blind Guardian / Live Beyond the Spheres. 2017. 4.5/5

Sometimes you can forget how long Blind Guardian have been around. And it stretches into decades now, which is quite remarkable. Not only is it almost 30 years since the release of Battalions of Fear, they have also previously released two live compilations in Tokyo Tales and Live. So when you come in to deciding on a new live album, you know you have to bring your A game to the table.
Anyone who has listened to Blind Guardian knows how much works goes into their studio albums, and the way the songs are layered over each other with amazing and complex vocal harmonies supported by brilliant musicianship.

Like most of Blind Guardian’s stuff does, this album blew me away. It all sounds amazing. You can appreciate how good the older material still stands up today and how well the band plays it and how much the crowds appreciate it. But it’s the material off the last two studio albums that stands out here. Those albums have gone even further in complexity when it comes to instrumentation and the mixture of layers throughout, which sounds magnificent on the studio versions, but how on earth could you transfer that to the live setting? In this band’s case, with magnificent ease. The live versions are not just note perfect copies of the studio versions, they are fantastically produced versions where the band just hammers away at you, while Hansi melds and morphs the vocals into a form which he and his fellow vocalists can pull off live without affecting the magnificence of each track. It’s quite a feat, and one that I think they pull off spectacularly. The brilliance of songs such as “The Ninth Wave”, “Sacred Worlds”, “Wheel of Time” and “Tanelorn” loses nothing here in the live setting. Hansi’s vocal line in the chorus of “Sacred Worlds” is still as powerful, as different as it is without the choir of voices behind him that drives the studio version. Just brilliant.
This is a real package, with three discs stretching to almost 160 minutes, so very little is missed (though that is open to opinion). You have the faster, energetic favourites such as “Banish From Sanctuary”, “Lost in the Twilight Hall”, “Into the Storm”, “Majesty” and the ever ready encore of “Mirror Mirror” mixed in with “The Last Candle”, “A Past and Future Secret” and “The Bard’s Song (In the Forest)” all without compromising the flow of the album. Mostly of course this is because Blind guardian has always been able to do this. And yes, if I had been insisting on a song list it would have included favourites of mine such as “Welcome to Dying” and “Time Stands Still (At the Iron Hill)”, but those have appeared on the previous live albums so I guess you can’t have everything.
The band as ever is just bloody brilliant. Mi Schüren’s keyboards are vital in the mix and they are terrific here. As always, Frederik Ehmke’s drumming is superb, and is locked in wonderfully with Barend Courbois’ bass guitar. That rhythm is rock solid and driving throughout. The twin guitars of Marcus Siepen and André Olbrich are wonderful, creating an atmosphere that is the basis of a great live album, flowing freely and with energy, while the magic vocals of Hansi Kürsch continue to amaze, such is their strength and power.

Into their fourth decade, and Blind Guardian continue to show not only that they are still relevant in the metal world, but are still one of the leaders of the power metal genre. This live album is perhaps not the place I would start if I was looking to find my way into the musicology of this band, but it would definitely be on the path.

Rating:  “Let’s get crazy for the last time…”.  4.5/5

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E31: The Encounter

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E31: The Encounter

Perhaps it’s all a little bit too far-fetched, even for a Twilight Zone episode, or maybe that it just doesn’t go far enough, or perhaps… just perhaps… it jumps around too much between character portrayals to make this an episode that is completely convincing or watchable.

It is somewhat of a shame, as both of the actors involved, Neville Brand and George Takei, are accomplished. Brand was a certified WWII hero before turning to acting, so his portrayal as the washed up former war hero who is eventually defrocked as a coward, who shot a Japanese officer after he had surrendered, is in places chillingly poignant. Takei’s character, who begins by claiming his father was a hero at Pearl Harbour, before revealing he was in fact a traitor who led the Japanese to their bombing sites, convincingly plays the man who wants nothing to do with the conversation, until he actually holds the sword of the murdered Japanese officer, and he then is overcome by the sword’s stated plan from its engraving, ‘the sword will avenge me’.

The supernatural effect of the episode is only overshadowed by the constant to-ing and fro-ing of the attitudes and emotions of the two characters, and for me this tends to mess with the build-up of the episode itself. The story to me needed a slow constant build to the climax, whereas it has a haphazard up and down rollercoaster run, which for me does hamper the whole ending, which in itself is perhaps too predictable.

Rating: Battle of the Ghosts. 3.5/5

Thought For the Day

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day18

Quiz shows and scotch. Surely a winning combination #Jeopardy#31DaysOfScotch #Day18

322. Iron Maiden / Wasted Years [Single]. 1986. 5/5

Of all of the singles I have bought (and I almost always went exclusively for the 12 inch variety to ensure I got the most for my money) this is by far my favourite of all time. Is that a little crazy when it comes to single releases? Possibly. But even in the day when buying singles was still a huge industry, for the most part I already had the album that the song being released was on. That was certainly the case with Somewhere in Time. So my real compunction for buying singles was for the B-sides and what they brought to the table. So in this respect, buying the 12 inch single would in essence give me even more music.

So, for the first part, the single. “Wasted Years” is even today still one of the best Iron Maiden has written and recorded. Written by Adrian Smith solely, who also plays the guitar solo and sings back-up vocals, it has stood the test of time perfectly. A great song.
The two B-side tracks are just terrific. The first song “Reach Out” was written by Adrian’s mate Dave Colwell, and performed in the band The Entire Population of Hackney, a group put together after the Live After Death tour when Nicko McBrain and Adrian wanted to keep performing. It is sung by Adrian, with Bruce Dickinson doing back-up vocals on this occasion. It has always been one of my favourite B side tracks, and I can still put in on today and enjoy it. Many of the other songs written for that band ended up on Adrian’s solo project a few years later.
The third song is a parody written about manager Rod Smallwood, and his apparent constant complaining about his move to Los Angeles. Featuring Bruce sending up Rod’s cockney accent throughout over the top of the song itself, this is a giggle and a fun enough song even without the humour included. A terrific addition for the 12 inch single.

In this day and age of digital music, singles have pretty much become obsolete. The great tragedy of that is that songs such as these two B-sides won’t necessarily ever come into existence because there is no need to fill a second side of a vinyl single release. It is the major tragedy of the modern music age.

Rating:  “It’s over your head, and you don’t seem to understand”.  5/5

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E30: Stopover in a Quiet Town

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E30: Stopover in a Quiet Town

How often have you watched a Twilight Zone episode, and know exactly what has happened and what is going to happen within the first sixty seconds of the show opening? I guess there were a few times this happened for me, but certainly this episode seemed to give it away very very quickly. Not that it made the episode any less enjoyable, but knowing what was occurring maybe helped or maybe didn’t.

From the start it was obvious that ‘something’ had happened. Our couple woke up in their clothes from the previous night, neither could remember how they got there, and the house and town they had woken up in was completely deserted, except for the occasional laughter from a child that seemed to be coming from everywhere. Got the drift yet? Yeah, I thought you might. We’ve been picked up by a spaceship, we’ve been taken to another planet, and we are now the play things of a giant girl in her own play city.

Don’t get me wrong, the set-up is done well, and especially when they get on the train at Centreville, and they just do a loop and end up back at Centreville. And the protagonists are well played in dramatic style without getting terse with each other which seems to be the way these stories usually run. Despite its predictability it is one of the better episodes of season 5.

Rating: Probably should have gotten a hotel room. 5/5

Thought For the Day

Monday, July 17, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day17

Italian chicken and meatballs for dinner #Masterchef alert! #31DaysOfScotch#Day17

1009. Riverdogs / California. 2017. 2.5/5

The band Riverdogs’ debut album of the same name was one that I only sought out because of Vivian Campbell. It was his influence in any band at the time that had me searching for their music. As I wrote in my review of that album, although it wasn’t the style of music that I was most enamoured with, it did have its moments and the album as a whole became an important one to me. Flash forward to 2017, and once again the only reason I have sought this album out is to hear what the four piece can do some 27 years later, and whether that lightning could strike twice.

When an album is marketed at the AOR scene, then surprisingly enough this is exactly what it is going to sound like. In interviews to promote the album both Vivian and lead vocalist Rob Lamothe said that they had been charged by the record company of creating an album that came from the same spirit as that debut album all those years ago. Fair enough too, as there was enough support around for that album when it was released to try and revisit it, especially with the higher profile and workload of Vivian, who now mixes his work with Def Leppard with his other band Last in Line, where he revisited another of his old bands with some success.
In the long run I guess what you need to ask yourself is whether or not the music is still relevant. With every conceivable extension of music genres being represented out there, is there still a niche for what equates to an almost easy listening AOR sound that resides, mainly in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Because this is where this album is heavily anchored. And I can’t hide from the fact that I would prefer to hear more grunt in the music, and a bit more energy in the songs. Give me more solos from Vivian such as he plays in “American Dream” and “Catalina” and let’s extend the songs from those! Instead, we get the much more reflective type of song that allows Rob to serenade you rather than rock you, and there is no doubt if you enjoy these types of songs you find plenty here to like.
What cannot be faulted is the musicianship of the band. Rob Lamothe’s vocals are as honeyed as ever, and smoothly run their way through each song as though being poured from a spoon. The rhythm section of
Nick Brophy on bass guitar along with drummer Marc Danzeisen hold everything together in a comfortable and pleasing atmosphere. My bias is obvious, and when Vivian breaks out in a solo, this is when the album really soars, giving California the kick in the pants it needs. I still never get tired of hearing him play his guitar.

What probably nags me most about this is that I have a very real feeling of having heard all of this before. In many ways the band has done too good a job of trying to reproduce the atmosphere of that first album. In many ways, they have done so unerringly accurately, and that is what irks me slightly. After 27 years – and that really is an inordinately long length of time – you would hope to hear a progression, something that is an extension even. But what I hear is more a modernisation than a progression. I find myself willing the band to break out, to really get this train moving and hear what they can do when they unshackle the carriages and just let the engine fire up. But that doesn’t happen. They stick to their groove, and they do it well. They sound fantastic. But a bit more rock than AOR would have made this a much more superior album and a more listenable experience.

Rating:   If only to hear Vivian on guitar more.  2.5/5

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E29: The Jeopardy Room

Revisiting The Twilight Zone: S05E29: The Jeopardy Room

While this is an interesting story and is excellently acted throughout, it really isn’t a story that fits into the Twilight Zone apocrypha. There is no supernatural or science fiction part to the tale, indeed it is a straight forward mystery tale that would fit any number of formats but probably not this one. However, once you are into the story you forget all about that and just go along for the ride.

It’s always great to see Martin Landau on the screen and he is terrific here again pitted as the agent looking to defect to the West against John van Dreelan’s Commissar, who is sick of simply shooting deserters, and wants to do something more elaborate. As such, he sets up a trap for his opponent, giving him three hours to find where the booby trap is in order to save his life. Their cat and mouse game is terrific to watch, and the final scenario and outcome is enjoyable and worth the storyline that precedes it.

Of course, this isn’t a Twilight Zone episode in the whole scheme of things, but it is an enjoyable way to pass 20-odd minutes.

Rating: Ring, ring, why don’t you give me a call? 4/5

*FOOTNOTE* On the day I have posted this, we learned that Martin Landau had passed away, aged 89. His magnificent career is full of fabulous moments, from starring in Mission: Impossible to his Academy Award winning role in Ed Wood as Bela Lugosi.
Apart from this episode, Martin also had a role in the first series episode "Mr. Denton on Doomsday". RIP one of the greats.

Rick and Morty Exquisite Corpse | Rick and Morty | Adult Swim

Thought For the Day

Saturday, July 15, 2017

#31DaysOfScotch #2017 #Day15

Dusting off the Baggy Green for my imminent selection for the Bangladesh tour #LegSpinUnion #31DaysOfScotch #Day15

Albion Park JSC Under 10 White vs Albion Park Green

Ky streaks through the defense on his way to the goals

Sooner or later you get to wondering just how much of the game of soccer the kids you watch every weekend are actually learning, and how much they are just running through the motions and listening to what the parents are yelling on the sidelines. This morning the Albion Park Under 10 Whites showed just how much they have learned in their local derby clash against the Albion Park Under 10 Green side.

It was a dire period to start with, as once again the Whites were faced with playing a match short. Starting the game with only seven players against their opponents nine meant that there was going to be a lot of running around for the team, as nominated coach Dan Kadwell went with a 2-2-2 formation. Fortunately a late arrival meant that just before half time the Whites had a complement of eight players against nine which eased the burden a little.
And yet, the Whites were quote magnificent. Despite the numbers being against them, the Whites dominated the first half of footy, able to have half a dozen good strikes at goal without being able to convert. The numbers told against them at the other end, when the Greens had only three shots at goal, but were able to convert two of them. It was a tired team at half time, but they were coerced to continue their excellent efforts.

Two further goals left the score at 4-0 to the Green team, but once again the second half belonged to Albion Park White. Indy Middleton held sway as custodian, and Jack Tate was a live wire from fullback, doing a great job in harassing his opponents and constantly getting back to clear the ball. Brock Young worked well with Josh Peters in mid-field, and Jack-Ryan Eberwein was forceful up forward. The stars of the morning was the left side of the park, with left back Belle Kadwell terrific in defense, Claire Kadwell at left centre being the perfect distributor to Ky Van Helden up front. The Whites scored two brilliant goals through that combination, with Belle winning the ball in the backs, passing beautifully to her sister Claire in the midfield who then did the same to Ky up forward, who ran through to score two goals with his great left strike. No team of any age group could have hoped to score better goals from better play. It was fantastic to watch.

The Whites completely dominated the play, and it was only the Greens goal keeper who won them the day. Ky, Jack-Ryan, Claire and Josh all had numerous shots at goal, all of which either scraped the post or were saved wonderfully. The final score of 4-2 to the Albion Park Green team was not a true reflection of how the game went, and the Whites should be wonderfully proud of their efforts in once again playing short but never giving in.

Player of the Match was awarded to Belle Kadwell who was superb once again, getting in the face of her opponents to take the ball off them, and then combining brilliantly with Claire in getting the ball to her midfield time and time again. Special mention to Claire for her role, as well as Ky who could easily have had a dozen goals today. When he is on the run with the ball at his feet he is wonderful to watch.

I started by saying I wondered how much our kids were learning. Well the answer is, quite a lot. As Dan rightly said, there was very little instruction needed to come from the parents on the sideline today. The kids knew their positions, they held their formations, and when the break in play came they knew where they had to be. They did a tremendous job today under tough conditions with less players than their opponents, and yet it rarely appeared that this was the case. It was great to watch again, despite the result.

Ky's shot at goal was brilliantly saved by the Greens goal keeper