Monday, 28 June 2010

Halford - The Mower [Single] (2010)

1. The Mower

What’s the fuss? – 3,5/10

There’s absolutely no reason for you to hold on to your seats. Nothing exciting has happened in the past few weeks and now we’re even starting to worship songs that are in fact ships lost at sea lead by a broken compass. And as soon as this compass tends to point north for only a few seconds we immediately convince ourselves that the Metal God is back. He is not. Only now, we are sure that he is gone for good.

This song is different from other Halford releases in terms of sound. It’s also the first time a Halford song begins with narration. When we’re done telling bedtime stories we receive an outburst of heaviness and the guitar and bass drums smoothly fire a round of bombastic heaviness. Not really original, but never seen before at Halford. Then, our beloved vocalist Rob Halford comes in. The last time he used his convincing screaming falsetto was on the Crucible record in a song like “Betrayal”. We heard him at two Priest albums and a holiday record since, and wise men have already concluded Rob Halford to be too old for this. Yet he manages to release a studio recording such as “The Mower”, this one, featuring his high screaming falsetto. Except, there’s something wrong... it’s even painfully wrong. It doesn’t go as fluent as ever before and this just seems as an obligation to the fans. The man is old, but still doesn’t want to admit it. His screams do reach his notes, with the help of some studio editing, but it truly sounds as if the man squeezed it out of himself, thus giving his last breath.

Alright, the rest of the song. Well, it pretty much doesn’t really get interesting. The bombastic salvo of guitar and bass drums continues to merge with Halford’s deathscream to the mid of the track. At that point, the song speeds up a little and lets Mike Chlasciak and Roy Z give us a one note palm-mute riff. In the meantime they sometimes play some random powerchords and Halford screams a bit maniacally and out of control. After a while the drum becomes bombastic with its tom-toms and the noise continues. Then the guitarists enter with a mediocre riff and a non-impressive guitar solo sounds through the speakers. And so it goes on a little with some variation in the drumming pattern and some more headaching screams from our has-been Metal God. Frankly, at the end it even starts to become a little cool, but that was only just a few seconds before the end, which is celebrated with a grunt from Halford?! Anyway, I guess it’s pretty clear now that the track is not really a reason to bang your head, unless you would bang it to the wall, but I assure you that deleting the single will be more helpful to the situation.

In short, this is quite a boring song that could sound impressive if you never heard Robbie Halford or metal before in your life, but for experienced listeners this should be a real letdown. If, however, the upcoming Halford IV album features inventive material in the same style, I could still be interested. But “The Mower” ain’t doin’ it for me.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Rammstein - Sehnsucht (1997)

1. Sehnsucht
2. Engel
3. Tier
4. Bestrafe Mich
5. Du Hast
6. Bück Dich
7. Spielt Mit Mir
8. Klavier
9. Alter Mann
10. Eifersucht
11. Küss Mich (Fellfrosch)

Good for what it is – 7,2/10

When it comes to commercially successful bands in the present, the metal band you’ll first think of is Rammstein. Said to be making industrial metal they strangely reach the ears of people sworn to hate metal. Rammstein really isn’t any less heavy or less noisy. It’s probably the trance influences that sail through every riff combined with the unique low German voice and a few catchy anthems that make commercial music fans think Rammstein is different from the ‘other’ metal. This band’s most successful effort would probably the notorious Sehnsucht as this record features industrial metal at its purest and Rammstein at their finest moment.

What is being done here is quite unique but is relatively annoying after a while. Trance rhythms with often the use of off-beat drums and synthesizer themes combined with a heavy cool guitar riff for the metal of it, and then we ‘sing’ with a very low voice that portrays evil itself. It’s quite ear-friendly as there are no astonishing guitar solos or shocking differences between the songs. What you hear at the first song is exactly what you hear at the last song. The trick with this album is not getting bored as the end gets nearer. Of course there are a few differences between each song, such as an epic synth-theme at the chorus of “Tier”, different tempos, different riffs, but the idea with each song is exactly the same. Just kick the hell out of a riff with a trance-like beat and silly lyrics. Sounds boring and I assure you that’s exactly what it is when you listen to it too much. But I won’t deny it could be very appealing at the first listen. It will not be helpful at all if I would describe this album track by track, as I covered most tracks already. Only “Klavier” will deviate from this formula by being a ballad.

With this being said, there’s nothing more to add. Sehnsucht is exactly this. Even when I listen to the album right now I agree with myself. In the beginning I am amused, but after song seven or so, I’m bored to death and reach for a different album by a different band. I would recommend this album to people curious about industrial metal or about the band Rammstein, but if you’re not then stay away.

Strongest tracks: “Tier” and “Du Hast”.
Weakest tracks: none.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Kayak - Letters from Utopia (2009)

1. Rhea
2. Because I...
3. Turbulence
4. Before the Angels Fell
5. Breaking the News
6. For All the Wrong Reasons
7. Under the Radar
8. Hard Work
9. Nobody Wins

1. Circles in the Sand
2. Never Was
3. Glass Bottom Boat
4. Horror in Action
5. A Whisper
6. Parallel Universe
7. Let the Record Show
8. Brothers in Rhyme
9. When the Love Has Gone
10. Letters From Utopia

Good, but could’ve been better – 7,5/10

The celebrated lineup that produced Coming Up For Air has hereby released their second and last album. This is the last album ever to feature drummer, composer and founder Pim Koopman, which makes this album quite special. A quick listen lets us conclude that the band continued in the same vein of the previous album. Yet there is one thing... it is a double album?! And there’s not even a concept... They must have a VERY good reason for doing this. Coincidentally, they stated on the site that they simply recorded too many songs. And that’s just the reason why this album is not as great as it could’ve or should’ve been.

Oh yes, there still is that heavy prog sound of deep and heavy guitars combined with the clear and fresh synthesizers. There’s a good variation of the powerful voice of Cindy Oudshoorn and the sweet voice of Edward Reekers, with the occasional entry of the somewhat hoarse voice of Rob Vunderink. Surely, the vocal performance on most of the songs is absolutely great and one of the stronger elements of Letters From Utopia. Only Edward Reekers sometimes seems to let himself go on auto-pilot, thus sounding rather uninspired at for example “Circles in the Sand”. This album mainly expands on the sound of the previous album, but this time also includes true epics and anthems such as “Before the Angels Fell” and “Nobody Wins”. Also, Pim Koopman seems on fire with his compositions as they are among the best songs. They are few, but great. The majority is written by Ton Scherpenzeel, who is responsible for some true gems, but also for the mindless filler material. It’s also good to see Edward Reekers having written his first song for Kayak. “Horror in Action” that is, and it’s got a bit of a nostalgic early 70s sound.

This album is overlong. We’ve got 19 song spread over two discs, but I can tell you it would’ve been a better idea to release one disc with a little less tracks. They could’ve used the other tracks as bonustracks or b-sides, if they wanted. Now let’s begin with the album-worthy tracks. “Rhea” opens the album with an insane synth-riff and some wah-wah guitar underneath. The verses are a real treat with cool guitarlicks by Joost Vergoossen between the words. “Because I...” is the first Koopman song you’ll meet. It’s an enchanting ballad with the heights on Reekers’ voice instantly reminding of the good ol’ 70s period. The transition from Reekers to Oudshoorn on vocals is a brilliant move. There’s the 8-or-9-minute epic “Before the Angels Fell”. All three vocalists feature here, beginning with Oudshoorn and a piano background, which soon turns into Reekers and a cheerful dragging synth-rock accompaniment. Not long after it becomes a truly symphonic masterpiece when the epic guitar melody is blown into your ears. Soon Oudshoorn comes back for some rock, and a little later Vunderink will accompany you through a fast-paced rock piece. And then it goes back to Reekers, the melody, Oudshoorn, a climax, and a sad instrumental outro. Without a doubt it’s one of the best songs Kayak released since 2003’s rock opera. “Under the Radar” sounds very nostalgic and sounds like it could’ve been released in the early 70s, just like “Horror in Action”. Other great tracks will have to be the Koopman tracks “Nobody Wins”, “Brothers in Rhyme” and “Let the Record Show”. The first two are downright epic, and the third is a pop song that just sounds very fresh.

Then the darker side of this album... I appreciate Kayak is trying to grow balls and implements more hard rock tracks on their albums, but “Turbulence” is not the way to go. It features a non-catchy synth-theme with VERY boring and hectic drums. There’re some perhaps funny things in the chorus, like the little screams by Rob Vunderink, but overall it’s just not well found. There are some good hard rock tracks on this album though, like “Hard Work” and “Glass Bottom Boat”, although they might not always fit in between the other tracks. “Circles in the Sand” is a ballad without power. That being said it mainly features Scherpenzeel on piano and synth and Reekers on the microphone; there’s no build up, which I take it, was done on purposely to let the lyrics gain a climax, but it’s the worst way ever to open a disc. “Never Was” sounds like it could’ve been epic and I guess it is a little, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard before on this 2CD. “Parallel Universe” is a power ballad with Oudshoorn on vocals, but again we’ve heard it before. We don’t want too many of the same, and that’s this album’s biggest mistake.

All in all, this is not a bad release, but it contains too many songs. Luckily, modern technology allows us to delete those tracks we don’t want to hear in any media player, thus giving us the destined but subjective tracklist of Letters From Utopia. Here down below I will put my suggestion of the tracklist. I sincerely recommend this album to Kayak fans, since it’s just another good album, really.

Strongest tracks: “Because I...”, “Before the Angels Fell” and “Nobody Wins”.
Weakest tracks: “Turbulence” and “Circles in the Sand”.

Suggested tracklist:
1. Rhea
2. Because I...
3. Under the Radar
4. Before the Angels Fell
5. Breaking the News
6. Hard Work
7. For All the Wrong Reasons
8. A Whisper
9. Glass Bottom Boat
10. Let the Record Show
11. Brothers in Rhyme
12. Letters From Utopia
13. When the Love has Gone
14. Nobody Wins

Monday, 7 June 2010

Kayak - The Anniversary Box (2008)

The Fan's Choice
1. See See the Sun
2. Lovely Luna
3. They Get to Know Me
4. Mountain Too Rough
5. If This Is Your Welcome
6. Life of Gold
7. Still My Heart Cries For You
8. Relics From a Distant Age
9. Daughter or Son
10. Phantom of the Night
11. Daphne
12. Anne
13. Lost Blue of Chartres
14. Love's Aglow

1. Frozen Flame
2. Forever
3. Icarus
4. Tradition
5. Avalon
6. The Last Battle
7. Friend of the Stars
8. When Hearts Grow Cold [live 2006]
9. Broken White
10. Cried for Love
11. Love Lies
12. Never Before
13. Dear Lover

The Anniversary Concert
1. Alienation
2. Time Stand Still
3. Man in the Cocoon
4. Merlin
5. When the Seer Looks Away
6. Niniane
7. Freezing
8. Sad State of Affairs
9. Medea
10. Behold the Firelight
11. Hold Me Forever
12. Only You and I Know
13. Where Do We Go From Here

1. Medley: Lyrics/Mammoth/See See the Sun
2. Irene
3. Close to the Fire
4. Undecided
5. Coming Up For Air
6. Celestial Science
7. Pagan's Paradise
8. Settle Down
9. The Flying Squadron
10. Act of Despair
11. Starlight Dancer
12. Chance for a Lifetime
13. Sad to Say Farewell
14. Selfmade Castle
15. Ruthless Queen

Rejoice... or perhaps not – 7,5/10

Kayak’s Anniversary Box is perhaps the most expensive Kayak item to be found in the store. As soon as I see a price tag that high, you’d want to conclude that the content of this Box must be pretty special. Well I’m here to reveal the mystery for you all... it’s not that special really. What we’ve got is a fan-assembled double compilation album and a concert from the Anniversary Tour on 2CD and DVD. That makes it five discs to enjoy or endure.

Really this Box is quite interesting, even though I might sound a little unenthusiastic towards it. It’s just not something you’ll be likely to listen to a lot. Let’s begin with the compilation album The Fan’s Choice. They were allowed to pick their favorite track from each album, and so the songs with the most votes made it to this album. It’s practically a time travel from 1973 to 2008. A true collector would already own most of these songs, but it’s good to hear them in remastered state for once. The best thing about the compilation is the inclusion of three rare tracks and one brand new song. The Japanese bonus tracks from Close to the Fire and Night Vision were included here. “Cried for Love” and “Love Lies” are from the former album, and are quite good songs with a little bit of a poppy sound, while “Never Before” from Night Vision doesn’t really fascinate me. The new track called “Dear Lover” is a very ambient power ballad with Cindy Oudshoorn on the vocals. The song is definitely worth checking out.

Then we get to the live part of the Box. The 2CD version of the Paradiso concert makes the exact same mistake as done with 2001’s Chance for a LIVEtime. They cut out all the talking in between the songs, while the DVD testifies that there in fact were conversations with the crowd. Now it’s just the new Kayak lineup playing their songs and older songs with applause in between. Perhaps it’s Eyewitness part III, you’d think if you would not have seen the DVD. The DVD gives us the full concert experience and shows perfectly how Kayak was on stage in 2008. Having been at a concert in that very tour, I can say it’s just a perfect rendition and reliving of the show I attended, which is exactly what the DVD should be all about. A shame I can’t say the same thing about the 2CD. Kayak need to understand what live albums are all about; it’s not about the songs and the applause, it’s about the ambience and the live feel of the album. Just songs and applause do not create a live atmosphere.

With possibly one of the most time spanning compilations of Kayak ever and with an excellent concert on DVD, The Anniversary Box makes a good Kayak collector’s item. I wouldn’t recommend this to the new fans though, simply because the price you could invest in this Box should go to the full-length studio albums instead.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Queen + Paul Rodgers - The Cosmos Rocks (2008)

1. Cosmos Rockin'
2. Time to Shine
3. Still Burnin'
4. Small
5. Warboys
6. We Believe
7. Call Me
8. Voodoo
9. Some Things That Glitter
10. C-lebrity
11. Through the Night
12. Say It's Not True
13. Surf's Up... School's Out!
14. Small Reprise

Ouch... – 5/10

What a big sensation was there when the two remaining Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor announced to record a full-length studio effort as Queen, albeit with a different singer. Can Paul Rodgers live up to the expectations of Queen fans, and most importantly, will the album relive or destroy the image of the legendary quartet known as Queen? No way.

That being said, The Cosmos Rocks would probably never have enjoyed as much success as it did, were it not Queen who released it, but May, Taylor and Rodgers. The Queen-level of the album might also be questioned. Does this album still qualify as Queen? Is Queen minus two members still Queen? Probably not. This album does not differ a lot from the so called ‘comebacks’ of famous old bands. As a Queen album, The Cosmos Rocks is average with almost no memorable moments, and as a stand-alone album, it’s a little better, but still nothing to write home about. Apart from that, it’s also all just loose song material on record that doesn’t complement each other. The Taylor-penned tracks are Taylor solo tracks, the May-written songs are May solo songs, and the Rodgers-composed tracks are bluesy little anthems and gimmicks that never belonged to Queen. Rodgers’ voice sounds very whiny and uninspired to me, probably because you always keep wondering what the great vocalist with the big range Freddie Mercury would’ve done with the songs. That’s one thing that’s hard to face; this is Queen + Paul Rodgers, and not Queen. Therefore, I will stop questioning the Queenness of the album, and review it as if it were a debut album by a brand new band.

The album is quite bad, but still not dreadful. The opening on the other hand is strong. “Cosmos Rockin’” is a true Taylor-penned rocker, quite reminding of a track from his latest solo album in terms of style. It’s a fast-paced and uplifting rocker carrying a lot of adrenaline along with it. Rodgers’ vocals sound quite calm and cool here and really fit the song. Second is a Paul Rodgers track “Time to Shine”, instantly setting foot on new area. It’s a bit of a slow-paced track build largely around the vocals, which lead the track. Whiny in the verses, hopeful in the chorus. May’s “Still Burnin’” sounds like written for 1992’s Back to the Light, his first solo record. A driving rock song with some glam-ish influences. It’s got a good beat to it though, but isn’t very interesting in the end. This is where the album causes mixed feelings. “Small”, written by Taylor, reminds of his 1994 album Happiness?. We’ve got here a mellow ballad with a more uplifting chorus, and of course the song’s got a positive message. Rodgers gives us a rocker with the somewhat cool “Warboys”. It’s a strong rocker with a tense drumming pattern and an active vocal performance. The last of the enjoyable tracks for a while.

Now we’re really entering a few lows. “We Believe” is a May-written ballad with another goodwill theme but some less memorable themes, though it isn’t bad, could’ve been a Queen song. Rodgers kills a possible respect for the album with his blues songs “Call Me” and “Voodoo”. The former features a very happy and uplifting ambience with some incredibly cheesy performances by our vocalist Paul Rodgers, while the latter is a true homage to boredom and annoying vocalists. Rodgers sings through his nose over a backing track where every musician is sleeping... I’m sorry; you’ve got to make a song more interesting in order to keep people’s attention and respect. After having fallen asleep during “Voodoo”, Brian May says hello with a ballad called “Some Things That Glitter”. While the track actually is pretty strong and once more could’ve been a Queen song, it still features the same sleep-inviting and annoying vocalist as the previous song. “C-lebrity” should wake us up with its strong and pounding guitar riff that reminds us somehow a very lot of... Judas Priest’s “A Touch of Evil”...?! Is Brian May stealing riffs from the Metal Gods? Aside from that, it’s a pretty obvious Roger Taylor song with a strong and present-day theme, lyrically something we would’ve seen on his solo records. “Through the Night” features more of the nose-singing boredom, and “Surf’s Up... School’s Out!” sounds like a forced attempt at trying to relive the old days where Taylor wrote these songs about youth and freedom... now he is old and matured. Imagine how that would sound. “Say It’s Not True”, another track by Taylor, is a ballad dedicated to Nelson Mandela’s AIDS foundation 46664. Lyrically it’s typically Taylor, and as a ballad it’s just another solo song. It features Taylor and May on vocals though, and even though alongside Rodgers, it finally signals you’re listening to something Queen members worked at.

Well, as you can see the album is not dreadful... but it’s just not Queen. The name of the product is not nearly as important as the quality of the product, but the name often invites us to have a peek inside the product’s packaging. I would love to hear the May- and Taylor-penned songs being sung by their writers on a solo record... I could imagine them sounding a lot more convincing. Apart from the quality everything points out that this album was not a serious effort to release something great, but only a moneymaker and a reason to continue the Queen + Paul Rodgers tour. As possible proof for this statement, take a look at Live in Ukraine’s setlist and tell me how many new songs were played.

Strongest tracks: “Cosmos Rockin’”, “Warboys” and “Say It’s Not True”.
Worst tracks: “Call Me”, “Voodoo” and “Through the Night”.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Kayak - Undecided [Single] (2008)

1. Undecided
2. Beat the Clock
3. [enhanced cd-rom part]

Great Track and Great Extras – 8,5/10

After hearing the Coming Up For Air album a few times, it’s not really a curious decision to release “Undecided” as a single. It’s catchy, well-composed and has a quite modern sound. If it was not Kayak, but some top 40 band who released this, I think it would even have been a hit.

The song starts with an intro played on acoustic guitar, accompanied by the piano. Towards the chorus more weight is thrown in in terms of guitars and drums and in the chorus there are obvious signs of the modern radio ballads in the arrangements. It holds a bit of a catchy epicness inside, but at the same time sounds a bit cheap. Of course, Kayak hides the cheapness with multiple voices, irregular drum patterns and a shrieking guitar solo by Joost Vergoossen.

This is one of my favorite Kayak singles due to the b-side. We got a totally new song here! “Beat the Clock” is understandably not on the album, yet still is a great track, featuring Rob Vunderink on lead vocals. It’s an up-tempo rock track with a steady pace and contains a lot of energy. It’s no earkiller, but it’s certainly enjoyable to say the least.

Other extra’s are featured in the enhanced part. Put the disc in your CD-ROM drive and you’ll be allowed to watch a part of the Nostradamus live show! It’s only a bit of backstage footage and a large part of the second CD of Nostradamus performed live with the cast and crew. It’s really awesome to see this, recorded from the audience by a Kayak official. Where I think the Nostradamus album was dull, it totally comes to life when performed, and this release gives us a teaser of how great a possible DVD could have been.

Conclusion: this is a great release. I don’t doubt this is one great release. With a great lead track, a very enjoyable previously unreleased b-side and very rare and previously unreleased footage to a Nostradamus performance, I can safely say this single is worth every cent of your money. Highly recommended to Kayak fans; this is essential.

Kayak - Coming Up For Air (2008)

1. Alienation
2. Man in the Cocoon
3. Time Stand Still
4. Freezing
5. Medea
6. Daughter of the Moon
7. Undecided
8. Sad State of Affairs
9. About You Without You
10. The Mask and the Mirror
11. Selfmade Castle
12. What I'm About to Say
13. Wonderful Day
14. Broken White
15. Coming Up For Air

Back to Business – 7,5/10

Kayak decided not to continue the line of rock operas and released a ‘normal’ album with Coming Up For Air. Such a normal full-length album with concept-less tracks shows the true capabilities of the lineup, just like Close to the Fire and Night Vision showed what that very lineup was capable of at that time. Coming Up For Air is no different and features another totally new lineup, one that would last for two studio albums, which hasn’t happened since 1978-1981. Bert Heerink has left the band again and Edward Reekers is now a full member of the band again, and the male lead singer; Cindy Oudshoorn decided to stay with Kayak after having sung roles in the rock operas; the new bassist found to replace the departure of Bert Veldkamp in 2005 is Jan van Olffen, one who deserves the spot without a doubt. The lineup is technically very strong and the success of the album would have to rely on pure songwriting.

In this department Kayak almost never disappoints and so this album did not do so either. They’ve adopted quite a heavy progrock sound, but still very different from the sound on Night Vision, mostly due to the changes on vocal area and the lead guitarist. There’s a bright atmosphere, partly due to the bright and clear use of synthesizers combined with often quite heavy guitar riffs in good variation with softer ballads with a lot of emotion. And still, the trademark Kayak sound is throughout every note they play. Even though there’s so much difference with the Kayak from the 70s, it still sound like it’s that very band after all. The album opens most impressively with the bombastic “Alienation”. A burst of melodic synthesizer melody combined with a heavy guitar blows in your mind and the heavy prog tunes are impossible not to notice. The verses are quite mellow, but the chorus quickly links to that killer synth-melody. What comes to mind quite instantly is the privilege of Cindy Oudshoorn to sing all the heavy rockers such as “Man in the Cocoon” and “Selfmade Castle”. These songs might even remind of progressive metal if not for the Kayak-esque arrangements. It is to Edward Reekers to sing the typical Kayak progrockers such as “Time Stand Still”, “About You Without You” or the cheery “Wonderful Day”. Vunderink does not get to sing lead very often, but does a good job on the funny “Sad State of Affairs”.

Interesting on this album are the ballads. Oudshoorn gets to sing two of them, “Freezing” and “What I’m About to Say”, two of which hold great power and epicness, especially the former. Oudshoorn holds this power in her voice Reekers lacks, which is probably why she is chosen to sing the more powerful songs. Reekers gets to sing the sweet ballads, which he does very well, as we already know from his earlier recordings with Kayak. “Medea”, “Daughter of the Moon” and “Broken White” are excellent examples of his great vocal performances, but he tends to sound uninspired at times, depending on the mood of the listener. I think it is safe to say he lost some of his vocal abilities throughout the years, but that still doesn’t mean he can’t sing; he sings outstandingly, just not as well as I remember. Notable is the album single, “Undecided” sung by Oudshoorn, which is a surprising track as it sounds very modern, which is probably the reason it was released as a single. “The Mask and the Mirror” is an odd track as it at first seems like a(nother) good pianoballad with Reekers, but later all five vocalists go wild in a chaotic scene just before an instrumental outburst of guitar solo. From there it repeats a few times and closes with an accordion melody. Last, not least, the title track is the only track longer than four-and-a-half minutes, peaking at a little over six. The song has just started or Oudshoorn enters in panic and soon it turns into a true heavy progrocker. There’s a great riff, a great melody and everything to turn this into a good song... until the break comes. Some waltz-rhythm takes us to Reekers and some stupid rhymes, just before we go to the reprise of the rock riff and guitar solo (which is good again). How you can force a long song like this? And then ruin it with a waltz that totally doesn’t fit the rest of the song? ...

In the end, this album is far from bad. But I wouldn’t rank it with the best albums ever either. Even though I have constantly been quite positive, there’s something on the album that’s unlikable. Perhaps it is the ballad overload; perhaps it is the song quantity; perhaps this is more just a collections of written-and-recorded songs rather than an album... ah well. It doesn’t matter. Though it might be bit messy, long and balladish at times, this album is a true definition of Kayak in 2008. This is what this lineup is capable of. I would still highly recommend it to true Kayak fans; they would probably like this.

Strongest tracks: “Alienation”, “Freezing” and “Broken White”.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Kayak - Kayakoustic Live (2007)

1. See See the Sun (intro)
2. What's in a Name
3. Only You and I Know
4. Anne
5. Threesome
6. Hold Me Forever
7. (You're So) Bizarre
8. Land on the Water
9. First Signs of Spring
10. Daughter or Son
11. Want You to be Mine
12. Ivory Dance
13. The Fate of Man
14. See See the Sun
15. Royal Bed Bouncer [*]
16. When Hearts Grow Cold [*]
17. Act of Despair [*]
18. Chance for a Lifetime [*]

The First Real Kayak Live Album – 7,8/10

After the frustrations of the financial problems concerning a possible second leg of the Nostradamus tour, Kayak decided to take it easy and do an acoustic tour with many old hits that have not been played in the tours of the rock operas. This album introduces the new bassist Jan van Olffen, who does a good job playing his instrument. Vocalist Bert Heerink has left the band and is now fully replaced by Edward Reekers, the man who sung “Ruthless Queen” in 1978.

In a way this is the first real Kayak live album. That title was something the band gave to 2001’s Chance for a LIVEtime, but with all those cuts and edits it could’ve easily been Eyewitness II. Kayakoustic features less edits and has got true speeches and words of thanks. Apart from that it’s got the greatest tracklist, featuring a lot of uncommon tunes from both the 70s and the 00s. It even goes as far to add a guitar solo, or at least a solo song by guitarist Joost Vergoossen, called “Threesome”, which serves as a beautiful intro to “Hold Me Forever”, now sung by Cindy Oudshoorn, who decided to become a permanent Kayak member after the last rock opera. As the name of the album might suggest, it’s all acoustic. Shows in the tour featured one half entirely acoustic, and the other half entirely electric. This album features half a concert, with four bonus tracks from the electric half including great surprises such as “Royal Bed Bouncer”. I am also very glad to see “Land on the Water”, “(You’re So) Bizarre” and “First Signs of Spring” on the acoustic side. All of them are true album tracks and true gems, and I’m glad Kayak decided they deserved to be played live twenty years after they were written. Another great surprise is the inclusion “Ivory Dance”, originally an instrumental b-side to “Phantom of the Night”. When b-sides get a live version, anything is possible. Perhaps a bit of a downside to this album is the sound quality. Everything sounds perfect, except Rob Vunderink, he is a lot softer than the other vocalists. Actually the whole backing vocal-section can use a bit of an overhaul.

You see, I don’t need a Freddie Mercury type frontman to make my live albums enjoyable; I just don’t fancy too much edits. This album features the necessary edits, but still maintains its live ambience by keeping some speeches intact and by letting the vocalists thank the audience for their applause. These are two necessities live albums should have, and this one has both. If you need a live album by this band, then it’s this one I’ll recommend, even though it’s acoustic.

Highlights: “Threesome/Hold Me Forever”, “Land on the Water” and “Ivory Dance”.

Queen - Queen Rock Montreal (2007)

1. Intro
2. We Will Rock You [Fast]
3. Let Me Entertain You
4. Play the Game
5. Somebody to Love
6. Killer Queen
7. I'm in Love with my Car
8. Get Down, Make Love
9. Save Me
10. Now I'm Here
11. Dragon Attack
12. Now I'm Here (Reprise)
13. Love of my Life

1. Under Pressure
2. Keep Yourself Alive
3. Drum and Tympani Solo
4. Guitar Solo
5. Flash
6. The Hero
7. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
8. Jailhouse Rock
9. Bohemian Rhapsody
10. Tie Your Mother Down
11. Another One Bites the Dust
12. Sheer Heart Attack
13. We Will Rock You
14. We Are the Champions
15. God Save the Queen

Another one? – 7,5/10

For those who love Live at Wembley ’86 and Live at the Bowl so much and can’t get enough, there’s another live album released. This time it’s a concert from the The Game tour. I really like good live albums, but I never find myself listening to them again and again, which is the case with studio albums. You can imagine I’m not particularly fond of a company shitting out live albums like they’re breeding them. At least, it’s not the way to make me enthusiastic.

We all know Queen is great live; we heard it before on the earlier live releases. So what NEW does this album bring us? The tracklist is vaguely similar to Live at the Bowl, except for the disappearance of the Hot Space tracks, which have been replaced with some older classics, which is exactly why you could think of getting this album. “Let Me Entertain You”, “Killer Queen”, “I’m in Love with my Car” and “Keep Yourself Alive” are the only new songs, and they are performed quite well. Needless to say, the other tracks are also performed well, with the ambience, the speeches and games we all know by now.

Conclusion: another good live album by Queen. Recommended if you really need more live albums by the band or if you are a collector. As for me, I’ll pass. I hope the next live album released will be featuring a totally new tracklist with some more surprises.