Artist: Biohazard
Listenability Scale: 55%
Released by: Sanctuary Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

I’ve gotten a lot of CD’s over the years that I looked at and knew I wouldn’t be a fan, but when I started this “Quick reviews of my CD’s” project, I told myself I had to at least give a listen to all of them. “Uncivilization” from Biohazard was one of those CD’s I dismissed early on, and, well, won’t end up in my mp3 jukebox. Not that they’re bad, they just aren’t my cup of tea.

Pretty much I put Biohazard into the “Yelling Metal” category. Others might call it rap metal, thrash metal, and the like, but for me, it’s a lot of yelling. But you know what, they’ve got a message to say, and although I’m not going to sit and listen and try to dissect their lyrics, their website does a pretty good job of explaining what Biohazard is about, but before you totally dismiss them as and anti-government, angry, hateful, just trying to stir things up type of band, like I did, there are parts of their lyrics that changed my thinking of the band. For example, the song “H.F.F.K.”, for which I only heard “Hate. Fuck. Fight. Kill.” What I missed was the line “We teach our children how to act in this world by living what they see on TV. Murder, rape war, disease, the rules of society.”

Look, if you are a fan of this style of music you’ll probably like “Uncivilization.” There’s a lot of anger in the lyrics, but after reading said lyrics the anger is directed at both those who are messing up lives, as well as maybe it’s time to take responsibility and make a difference in this world. I’m not a fan of this style of music, but their message isn’t bad like I thought it was. For me it’s 20% on the listenability scale, but for fans of this style of music, it’s probably around the 90% range. I’ll average them out for 55%.

That’s it for this quick review. I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

The Girl Next Door

Artist: Crystal Bernard
Listenability Scale: 54%
Released by: Entertainment One
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Crystal Bernard. Most of you know her most from her role as Helen on the TV show "Wings," but I’ll bet most of you might not know she can sing, and I’m told she directs videos as well. For this little article I guess we’ll leave her acting and directing careers alone and concentrate on her singing/songwriting, and the fact that she has a country CD out called "The Girl Next Door."

As I listened to this CD over and over again, I couldn’t really figure out what I didn’t like about it. The songs weren’t bad, granted the prevailing theme of most of "The Girl Next Door" has to do with getting your heart broken, and I did find myself humming along as the songs became more familiar. Then, one day I was driving in my car after a really rotten day and listening to the CD and it hits me – it’s not the songs, it’s not the fact that most of them conjure up some memories of old girlfriends, but it’s the fact that after "Could Have Been Mine" you get socked with four sad love songs in a row. Let me tell you, if you’ve had a bad day or just got out of a rotten relationship that little stretch of music just makes you want to head to your nearest bar and drown your sorrows in a bottle of whiskey. So, what did I do? I put the CD player on shuffle play and found that the CD isn’t half bad.

As far as country music CD’s go, it’s no groundbreaking effort, but I think it might just be a great start for Crystal. Good songs, easy to listen to (if on shuffle play), but for me there just isn’t that one song that I want to hear over and over again. Two things did surprise me about this CD. One was that she co-wrote nearly half the songs on the CD, and two, she has a great voice, and I think that over time she might be able to leave the TV show for a career in country music, just not yet.

Back to that songwriting thing because right now that’s actually striking a chord. As I listened a couple of times, I was curious as to what I thought were the better tracks on the CD and whether she helped in the writing. Another surprise for me – I liked all of the tracks she got some credit for writing a lot more than just about every other song. From my favorite track, the up-beat "State of Mind" to the sappy (that’s a compliment, believe it or not) "If You Have Love," I’m starting to find my disappointment of the CD in the fact that she had to pull in songs from other folks. Not that they’re bad songs, it’s just that I think hers were better. Really, the only song that strikes me that wasn’t co-penned by Crystal is "You’re Gonna Miss A Whole Lotta Love" credited to Dennis Morgan and Stephen Allen Davis.

So, what do you get for your CD spending dollar if you buy "The Girl Next Door." Well, first off, you get a CD filled with a lot of broken-heart songs, with a pretty equal split of up-tempo vs. slower-sappy songs. Just be sure to hit the "shuffle"/"random" button on your CD player or you better be reaching for the bottle because tracks 3 through 6 will have your head spinning wondering why he/she left you. It’s a tough call, and I really recommend hitting the listening station for the CD and jump around the CD before shelling out the bucks. It’s a good CD, especially the songs Crystal helped write, but in all honesty, I didn’t care for most of the other songs. On the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale I give "The Girl Next Door" from Crystal Bernard a 50%. And if you’re wondering how I got 50% on a CD with 13 songs, well, I didn’t count the cute little intro with a four year old Crystal singing. Alright, fine, it was cute so we’ll bump it up to 54%.

That’s it for this one – I’m The Dude on the Right! L8R!

Rock Spectacle

Artist: Barenaked Ladies
Listenability Scale: 80%
Released by: Reprise Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

I can now finally say that I have been at a show that is on a live CD. See, it was my virgin time seeing, or even hearing Barenaked Ladies, and they say “we’re recording this for a live CD.” I’m thinking to myself, “Self, yea right, I’ve heard that so many times and no one ever seems to come out with that ‘live’ CD.” Well, they weren’t lying. I’m checking the Barenaked Ladies newsgroup and see someone post a notice about a new CD, and that it will be a live CD. I’m saying “Cool, I wonder if any of it will be from the show I was at?” Sure enough, some of the songs bring back those memories of my first time – at a BNL show that is.

Excited, I find the CD, head home, and this time I find myself a little bit more familiar with the style of the band, but my disappointment comes as I realize that five (I stand corrected (thanks Cindy!): four are from BoaPS, four are from Gordon, three from Maybe You Should Drive) of the eleven tracks are from their previous CD, “Born on a Pirate Ship,” and although they add a little bit more to the songs, personally I was looking forward to more of their older material. I was also looking forward to little more of that spontaneity that a Barenaked Ladies show seems to portray, the things like the set of Chicago (the group) songs like when they played in Chi-town, or the Prince cover, or, well, I think you get the point.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like the CD, probably a little more than “Born on a Pirate Ship,” mostly for the fact that it does exude some of that energy from a live show and has some of my favorite songs from BoaPS, but being the new fan, and the cheap fan, that I am, (my BNL CD collection now ranks at two – BoaPS and Rock Spectacle) I was hoping for more than five (alright, four) songs I already knew.

The CD does throw in some of the local flavor of a show in the story of the lady and the Briar Street Theatre from the Chicago show and Uncle Elwin from the Montreal show. I will say that, for a brand new fan, the CD does a great job at spanning the musical variety of Barenaked Ladies. From the bouncy feel of “Hello City” to the great voice of Steven Page during “Break Your Heart” and one of my new favorites “What a Good Boy,” someone new can get a real feel for the band. I guess my problem is I became a fan at the time of the recording and not before or after. But, I do finally get a CD with “If I Had $1,000,000” and the next time I’m at a show I’ll be able to sing with everyone else, although I don’t think I’ll bring any macaroni and cheese.

I guess sometimes there are royalty problems in putting covers on a live CD, and maybe that’s the reason for leaving those off, but I think it does hurt “Rock Spectacle’s” chance at showing someone who has never been to a Barenaked Ladies show the real feel of a concert – which is what I think a live CD should really do. The recording is crisp, the voices are mixed well, and all in all the CD ends up in my higher rotation line-up, but, well, I guess just but.

Oh yea, “Rock Spectacle” is also interactive. Yep, pop the baby in your double-speed CD-ROM player and you get their version of BNL TV and KBNL – “Weird Music for Weird People.” I will say this, it does give the viewer a little inside into the twisted nature of the band, and I’ve been following the “Abs of Lard” segment for way too long. It’s cute, and fans will probably get a kick out of seeing it, but, and this is strictly a personal feeling, I think they should have done one of two things with the interactive part: 1) Scrap it all together and put more music from the shows on the CD. 2) Scrap the BNLTV and KBNL – save it for the next one, but add more live video from the shows. And that is my opinion on that.

All in all, on the listenability scale, the only song I can live without is “These Apples” so in those terms the CD rates a 91%. But, being a live CD, I think it misses a notch in doing it’s job, so we’ll knock some percentage points off and give it an 80% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale.

That’s it for this one, I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!

No Substance

Artist: Bad Religion
Listenability Scale: 65%
Released by: Atlantic Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Punk has always had a way of sending a message in two minutes, and Bad Religion has always been pretty good at it. I don’t know if hard core fans will like “No Substance,” but for me punk has always been about driving guitars and catchy tunes, and “No Substance” gives that. Sure, you’ve got your fill of angst and political messages, hell, with songs like “Shades of Truth,” “The Biggest Killer in American History,” “Raise Your Voice,” and “Victims of the Revolution,” what could you expect, but as much as about a message, what would punk be without the guitar riffs, and Bad Religion does that on “No Substance.”

I’m not a big fan of punk, and actually prefer it when it’s non-political, but this one wasn’t as bad as I feared. I’ll give it a 65% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale.

That’s it for this quick review! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Jim Croce – A Nashville Tribute

Artist: Various Artists
Listenability Scale: 35%
Released by: River North Nashville
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Jim Croce, but I can enjoy a “Time In a Bottle” with the best of them. But if I’m going to listen to a Jim Croce song, I guess I’m just going to want Jim singing it. In any case, “Jim Croce – A Nashville Tribute” is a nice testament to the variety of songs Jim has in his library, sung by some big names (Charlie Daniels, Sammy Kershaw) and some not so big names (Mark Collie, Larry Stewart). It also has Ronna Reeves who probably would have made it big time if not for Shania Twain coming out at the same time and stealing all of her press. In any case, if you want to hear Jim Croce songs with a country twang to them, it’s not a bad choice, but for me I’d rather hear the songs from the man himself.

It’s a 35% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale.

That’s it for this quick review! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!