Peace on Earth

Artist: Kitaro
Listenability Scale: 100%
Released by: Domo Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

You know, I really don’t like the whole Christmas time of year. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the true meaning of Christmas, or at least the general Christian message of the holiday season, me being the good Catholic boy that I am, but between having to spend too much money on people who kinda don’t deserve it, not having that special lady to spend too much money on, dealing with the family arguments that always seem to come up at the holiday table, and seeing how the holiday season is slowly shifting from the message of thankfulness and good-cheer to "I can’t believe you only bought me this," Christmas just doesn’t seem as much fun as when I was a kid. But, in spite of all of this, there is one thing about the holiday season that I do like and that is, or rather are, Christmas Carols, or just those holiday songs in general.

It was while I was pondering the "joy" of facing this years holidays that I popped "Peace on Earth," a new CD from Kitaro, in my CD player. A smile came to my face.

As I sat listening to "Peace on Earth" I think I started to realize why I like the holiday music instead of the holiday. It’s because that whether it’s the comical side of a runaway reindeer, the classic "White Christmas’" of yesteryear, versions sung by high-pitched, squeaky rodents, or a new twist like Kitaro has touched on, the music still holds that message of hope, that message of being thankful, that message of giving, and that message of peace.

Those familiar with the music of Kitaro know that he is one for synthesizer-style music with cool use of percussion and nearly any type of instrument he can find to paint an image with his music. This CD is no different as to his style of music, and for holiday songs Kitaro pulls it off perfectly, but for a twist on his style he adds a great sounding children’s choir to the mix.

Simply put, "Peace on Earth" is now added to my growing list of cool holiday music. It’s not overbearing, but peaceful, and he uses the choir almost as a background to the music he has put his touch on. As for the songs, he recreates the classics from American and European culture. As for the choir, it’s the International Peace Choir, and I like the fact that they come out as innocent and not boisterous. As for the CD, proceeds from it our going to the Earth Communications Office, an organization working on the betterment of the global environment. You can’t go wrong.

After coming back to Chicago from traveling home to the family this Christmas, I’ll probably need a little something to help me remember the meaning of the holiday season. If I’m lucky I’ll walk in the door, the snow will start to fall, I’ll light a fire, gaze out the window and remember what the holiday is about. In the background will probably be "Peace on Earth" from Kitaro. I guess I really won’t need the snow or the fire – all I’ll really need to do is close my eyes and listen. The picture will be the same.

There’s not a song on this CD that I don’t like, or couldn’t listen to again and again this holiday season. There’s 12 tracks, I like them all, and that rates this CD 100% on the E-Ave Listenability Scale.

That’s it for this one, I’m The Dude on the Right! Have a great holiday season! L8R!

We Kill Everything

Artist: GWAR
Listenability Scale: 95%
Released by: Metal Blade Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

As the last track on this CD was playing, my secretary was getting into the music. It had a fun beat, kinda catchy, but she wasn’t paying attention to the lyrics. I asked her if she kinda liked this song, and she told me she sort of did. Then I told her the song was called “Fuckin’ An Animal.” At first she was appalled, then she remembered this was GWAR, and then she was just worried that somewhere in the lyrics it might mention a giraffe, since she loves giraffes (no, not in the way of the title of the song), so I checked the lyrics and much to her relief, I informed her things were pretty much kept to dogs, geese, and a moose.

Look, GWAR is GWAR, space aliens who also are very talented metal musicians, constantly fighting their enemies. Their CD’s and concerts usually try to tell a story, but mostly what you get is some great punk metal that, yea, might offend some, but if you get beyond being offended, you do have to admire some of the guitar work and just the balls-outness of the band. And if you also want a great time, check out their live show – it’s still one of the best times I’ve had at a concert. For what it is supposed to be, “We Kill Everything” does it all, and although this might ruin my credibility as a music reviewer, I’m giving it 95% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale.

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

The Gufs

Artist: The Gufs
Listenability Scale: 50%
Released by: Atlantic Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

The Gufs. They’re a band, it’s a CD, and the name comes from The Bible, and maybe just as important, a Demi Moore movie called “The Seventh Sign.” Where does one come up with a connection? Well, like all good band names it can come from just about anywhere and religious or not, The Gufs decided that was the name for them after seeing the movie. But, what about this midwest group of college buddies trying to make their break into the giant world of music. It seems it’s been a pretty dedicated journey culminating in the release of their self-titled CD, The Gufs, on Atlantic Records.

This CD comes about as a compilation of songs they released on a CD they put out called “Collide” as well as some newly recorded tracks for the major label folks. Pretty simply put, The Gufs are pretty much pop rock, guitar and melody influenced, with messages thrown in their for good measure. And it’s a good CD, kinda catchy, and some almost great sounding songs, but, and I really hate getting technical, or maybe it’s just me, but my main problem with this CD is you can’t really understand the singing: either the vocal mix is too low, to reverbed, or the lyrics get mumbled. I’m used to unintelligible lyrics, and hell, as I’m singing to myself a lot of times I’ll make them up as I go along, but as for The Gufs CD, even trying to follow the lyrics in the CD booklet seemed a challenge. Seeing them live is a different story, they come off much more crisp and lyric based, but this review is about the CD, and, well, I’m finding myself liking The Gufs for their music but wishing I could only understand them.

As I read the lyrics with the CD, I saw a lot of potential. From relationships to some social messages, The Gufs pretty much have it covered. But I was really looking for that hook, maybe that one song that I could listen to over and over, find myself sick of but still play, and be able to say I’ve been listening to them for years. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find it. “Crash (into me)” was alright, but I couldn’t find myself singing along, “Out Somehow” kinda reminded me of Crosby, Stills & Nash with the harmonies the guys put together, and I would have to say my favorite track was “Sunday driver” except the guitars seemed to overpower the lyrics. Hmmm, it’s hard to explain but I guess it’s a good CD only missing something, and other than the lyric problem I mentioned before, I can’t figure out what.

The Gufs have been developing a great fan base in the midwest for years, starting from their college days in Wisconsin to their touring between classes and jobs. I can see why the crowds flock to them, their live show is pretty cool. I only wish the crispness of the music during their live show translated to the CD. It’s kind of like their are two ratings I have to give this CD. One is based on the music: I’d say there are about 10 cool tracks out of 13 for a factor of 77%. On the other hand, on the mix and singability of this CD, I’d give it a 3 out of 13, ouch, a 23%. I guess, in the end, I’ll split it for a 50% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale.

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

The Guitar Trio

Artist: The Guitar Trio 
Listenability Scale: 80%
Released by: Classic Jazz France 
A Review by:
The Dude on the Left

The Guitar Trio is the third and latest release from, well, the Guitar Trio: Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin, and Paco de Lucia. For the uninformed The Guitar Trio’s debut album, “Friday Night in San Francisco” was released in 1981, and is in my humble opinion one of the greatest albums of all time. It was followed in 1983 by “Passion, Grace, and Fire”, a title which describes their music perfectly. Al Di Meola is one of the greatest jazz fusion guitars of the decades, John McLaughlin has both a traditional jazz background (he recorded with Miles Davis) as well as Indian (Eastern, not American) influences, and last, but not least, Paco de Lucia won his first flamenco guitar competition at the age of 11, and is an incredible guitar talent. Separately they are three of the greatest guitarists on the planet. Together they are even better. The music they create is something that has to be heard to be believed.

Here’s what I thought of the nine individual pieces that make up The Guitar Trio.

Track #
Song Title (Length) Credits
La Estiba (5:51) arranged/written by Paco de Lucia
All three solos are pretty wimpy and not real original sounding. A disappointing start, in my opinion.
Beyond the Mirage (6:10) arranged/written by Al Di Meola
The second solo (Paco’s) is powerful stuff. Great backing rhythms.
Midsummer Night (4:36) arranged/written by John McLaughlin
Has a kinda weird into, and is a little slow to start off, but Paco’s solo picks up the pace. Really nice interplay between the three players, especially during the closing solo (John’s).
Manha De Carnaval (6:11) arranged by John McLaughlin
John’s intro is beautiful. It has a soft and soothing feel, yet very crisply delivered. Al completes the piece nicely.
Letter From India (3:54) arranged/written by John McLaughlin
Two nice solos. Paco’s guitar work really stands out
Espiritu (5:30) Al Di Meola
It’s OK, but it’s the only piece that is performed by only one player. I guess Al just has to show off a little.
Le Monastere Dans Les Montagnes(6:15) arranged/written by John McLaughlin
Paco’s solo on this one is one of the best on the album.
Azzura (7:58) arranged/written by Al Di Meola
Al’s best piece on the album, very haunting. Great transitions and an interesting mix of rhythms throughout. Great solos – one of the best pieces on the album.
Cardeosa (6:36) arranged/written by Paco de Lucia
Paco goes all out here. Just great stuff from beginning to end. My favorite song on the album.

I give The Guitar Trio an 80% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale. Again, The Trio shows incredible guitar work and the recording is excellent. The only knock I have is it’s kind of sterile. There isn’t the same live feel that created the intensity on “Friday Night in San Francisco,” and the chemistry doesn’t seem to be what it once was. The solos tend to shift abruptly, and not flow the way their older material does. All that being said it’s still a must for anyone who loves great guitar work.

Calling All Stations

Artist: Genesis
Listenability Scale: 15%
Released by: Atlantic Records A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Why does it seem that Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford just tried to capitalize on the Genesis name? Yes, I know Genesis has gone through many metamorphoses, but this one seems to be the proverbial straw that doomed a great band. They obviously weren’t paying attention to how Journey and Styx were resurrecting their careers (please don’t lambaste me for comparing Journey and Styx to Genesis, I know they are totally different beasts, but Journey and Styx found that they could still make music bringing in lead singers that sounded incredibly like the original dudes) because this CD came out and you heard nothing about them. Song-wise, my secretary said they all sounded the same, and all sounded dreadful and boring. I wasn’t swept away by anything either. Maybe they were trying to re-invent themselves, maybe they thought calling themselves “Genesis” was the easy way to make people find them, but nothing on this CD brought back either the popish side with Phil Collins or the weirder side with Peter Gabriel. This one’s a 15% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale. Maybe hard-core fans of Tony Banks and Mike Rutherford will like it, but I didn’t.

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

One Live Night

Artist: Dokken
Listenability Scale: 40%
Released by: CMC International A Review by:
– The Wimp

It’s always a good thing when you can dive into a new album from one of your oldest, most favorite bands, in this case the new album being “One Live Night” and the oldest, most favorite band being Dokken. But I am always hesitant when a live album/best of/stocking-stuffer type thing is released (remember “Beast from the East?”). So I placed the CD into my CD-ROM, and gave it a 4X spin.

The only disappointing thing about this album is that I didn’t attend the damn recording at The Strand in Redondo Beach, California. While I was performing my own personal West Coast Tour, I lived and worked very near Redondo Beach and knew where The Stand was. The Strand is a cool, small beach bar named after the walkway/bike path that runs parallel to the ocean. It would have been an ideal place to see this show. As I began to listen to the album and reminisce about those huge tracts of sand at Redondo Beach, I couldn’t help but reiterate some of Don’s opening words “Who would have known?” As I said before, the album is a greatest hits/live album. It has a mix of very old and a few very new songs. As for me, I am annoyed that the band is spending so much time reliving the past and not covering their best stuff. Here is a list of the songs and my comments.

Into the Fire
Interesting version of their first hit song. Low energy, melodic.
Unchain the Night
George lets loose a bit on the electric but still low energy. Duet with Jeff Pilsen, but Jeff has more intensity then Don.
The Maze
The new stuff rules, should play more of it. Don picks up a bit. More mature sounding.
Nothing Left to Say
New ballad. Kind of grows on you…like a pimple. Awww wrinkles. ;( At this point, I agree with the annoying guy who yells “C’mon George” Instead we get this.
From the Beginning – Emerson, Lake & Palmer cover
Don’t like the seventies cover thing. This song is on “Dysfunctional”…fast forward.
Tooth and Nail
Funky acoustic beginning to another classic song, song by Wild Mick. Again, Mick has more energy then Don. This version wails.
Just Got Lucky
Lively acoustic rendition sung by Jeff. I can’t believe Don has given up the spotlight for this length of time. Maybe that explains the reunion, and has lead to a more complete sound in the music.
I Will Remember – Instrumental
Laid back. What this album needs is for George to let loose just once.
Alone Again
Piano version with Don singing. Of course the women go crazy not realizing it’s all their fault.
In My Dreams
Acoustic version of this MTV classic. Yeah, yeah, the 80’s ruled.
Nowhere Man – Beatles cover
I dislike 60’s covers even more than 70’s covers…fast forward. Actually, though, it’s not bad rendition.
It’s Not Love
Country-ish beginning and end to another 80’s classic. Hopefully not a sign of things to come.
After the show hubbub. Re-introductions and the like.

I know if you haven’t bought this album already, you probably won’t. But my editor thought it would be a good idea to finish the review before their next album is released this year. Dokken fans will find this an excellent album to have in the background while working or driving to and from work.

This album gets a 40% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale from me.

That’s it – I’m The Wimp!

Accident of Birth

Artist: Bruce Dickinson
Listenability Scale: 80%
Released by: CMC International
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

I must say that I’m not a big Iron Maiden fan, but I do appreciate their role in heavy metal history. Listening to “Accident of Birth” you hear a lot of the Iron Maiden influence (as well you should with Bruce being the lead singer for them, then leaving the band, and as of this time back with the band), but there are some differences that leave Bruce on his own. Pretty much if you are an Iron Maiden fan I don’t think can really do wrong picking up this CD. Lots of driving guitar, lots of yelling, lots of dark images, but isn’t that what you would want from him Dickinson. I’m not a huge fan, but I did enjoy this CD for what it’s worth, so I’ll give it an 80% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale.

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


Artist: Deep Purple
Listenability Scale: 80%
Released by: CMC International
A Review by:
The Dude on the Left

Deep Purple is a band I really enjoyed during the early eighties, but I just kinda lost interest in the early nineties. When I heard I was going to review the new Deep Purple album, “Purpendicular,” I wasn’t sure what to expect. The last Deep Purple album I bought was “Nobody’s Perfect,” which is an excellent live album, but that was about ten years ago, and I had no idea what they had been doing since then.

“Purpendicular” has all the members of the classic “Mark 2” lineup, except for Richie Blackmore, who was replaced by Steve Morse(of Kansas), Ian Gillan on vocals, John Lord on keyboards, Roger Glover on bass and Ian Paice on drums. The first thing I have to say, as a Richie Blackmore fan, is I’m very impressed with the way Steve Morse stepped into the band. I think he is more of a “band” player than Richie was, and he makes up for what Richie with blazing no holds barred solos, tight crisp playing, and a great meshing with the rest of the band.

The song “Loosen My Strings” has a definite “Kansas” sound to it, in the way John Lord keyboard jams and Steve Morse’s guitars intertwine, kinda like “Point of No Return,” while “Hey Cisco” has a more classic Deep Purple guitar/organ jam that made the band’s sound so unique. “Ted the Mechanic” is my personal favorite; great guitar and it showcases the bands ability to tell a story. As far as lyrics coming to mind, its from “Somebody Stole My Guitar,” a song about a memorable drinking session. “My head is getting lighter, The mood is getting darker, Tequila’s being poured.” Sounds like the start of most good stories. “I’m Not Your Lover” is a showcase for John Lord’s awesome organ work while “The Aviator” on first listen sounds like a puss song, but it kind of grew on me. The guitar work is really spacy, almost Grateful Dead like, the intro to “Rosa’s Cantina” reminded me of “Hush” in both sound and feel. “Soon Forgotten” was the only song I really didn’t like at all. After the first few listens I had to skip over it, the rhythm was just too grating for me.

The one minor disappointment was that the jams were almost too clean. There wasn’t the reckless abandon that you could here in a song like “Child in Time” or “Space Truckin’,” but hey you can’t live in the past. Overall “Purpendicular” is a really good album, I give it an 80% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale, and I’m looking forward to seeing these guys tour the next time around since I just missed their last tour.

‘Till next time – Hang Loose!

Big Fine Thing

Artist: Darlahood Listenability Scale: 70%
Released by: Reprise Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Left

When my editor gave me Darlahood’s new CD "Big Fine Thing" to review, I thought, "Darlahood, is that some new ebonics term or something?". Well I was mistaken, Darlahood is a three piece band from New York who, in a nutshell, rock out. Luke Janklow’s guitar work hearkens back to the ’70s stadium rock monsters like Nazareth, Aerosmith, and even Van Halen. Every song has guitar rifts that just make you want to crank it up and rip the knob off, and maybe that’s why they went to a rented old house in upstate New York to write the songs for "Big Fine Thing". Luke is a flat out awesome guitarist, and he’s also proficient as the band lead singer. With a voice that’s strong and clear, the vocals are crisp and intelligible on all of the tracks. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Joe Mangisro on drums and David Sellar on bass fill out the band with a funky but powerful backing.

The first song "Grow Your Own", which is not about weed, (although Luke’s voice reminds me a bit of The Black Crows’ Chris Robinson), sets the tone for the album with some great guitar work and an anti-angst theme. "99% Bulletproof" continues to showcase Luke’s guitar, but Dave’s funky-ass bass really makes the song. As I listened on, "Sister Dementia" has a really trippy melody and a catchy chorus while another song that caught me was "Watch Your Mouth". The intro has a Rage Against the Machine sound to it, and the chorus is catchy in a head banging sort o’ way. "De Nature Boy" has a very radio friendly sound to it, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to here it in the near future.

I liked most of the tracks on the CD, but "New York City" was one of the two songs that I really disliked. The vocals on this song become monotonous and grating (just like the city), but it only takes a hit of the fast-forward button because "I’ve Got Pictures" makes up for "New York City" in a big way. This one has got hit written all over it. Luke’s voice takes on that Chris Robinson tone, and the song kind of reminds me of "Hard to Handle". Then we get to "RSVP" which is packed full o’ jams – that almost three minute intro really defines the band. Luke’s guitar is in your face as always, David’s bass is funky and Joe’s drumming ties it all together. After about a two minute singing part "RSVP" rolls back into another three minute jam that rivals the intro. I don’t compare any band to Led Zeppelin lightly, but "RSVP" is a bazaar cross between Smashing Pumpkins and Zeppelin. The final song "Hey Baby" is kind of a disappointment after the onslaught of sound that came before it. It’s a boring caustic ballad and is so different for the rest of the album I have to wonder why it was included.

I give "Big Fine Thing" a 70% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale. I just can’t say enough good things about this band. I found myself comparing them to a lot of different bands, and that just the only way I can put into words how these guys sound. There is a lot of good tunes to be found on this album, and their range of styles give a little something for everyone, from funky blues to straight forward rock with no holds barred guitar jams and of course that one damn ballad. The more I listen to this CD the more I like it (even though I still don’t know what the hell Darlahood means), and I’m looking forward to seeing them live when they come through this neck of the woods. They seem like the kind of band that puts on one hell of a show, but I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. ‘Til next time Hang Loose.

Loco Motive

Artist: Cowboy Troy
Listenability Scale: 55%
Released by: Warner Bros Records
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Yes, I must admit, I was sucked into this CD, Loco Motive, simply with the song “I Play Chicken With the Train,” a rousing testament that somehow country and rap can kinda fuse together if done properly, and trying to do it right is Cowboy Troy, as his web site says, a six foot five black rapping cowboy who is bringing out a new musical style called hick hop. But it’s kind of a weird CD. I’m thinking live is the way to see Cowboy Troy because the CD just falls a little short of lots of what it seems to have been shooting for. Sure, “I Play Chicken With the Train” does exactly what it seems Cowboy Troy was setting out to do, and we can see really put a country feel to more of a rap song, but a lot of songs on here just fall a little flat, namely songs like “Crick In My Neck,” “El Tejano,” and I thought “Ain’t Broke Yet” really tries too hard to country it up when it doesn’t need to.

Now I’m not saying the entire CD isn’t that great, but the highlights seem to come around when Cowboy seems to be having a lot more fun, or raps in a more serious nature. “Wrap Around the World” starts like something you would hear Alabama sing, then into a rapping lesson about all being friends, and even some lessons in various languages around the globe. The other song that really works is “My Last Yeehaw,” and we can really see how the Big & Rich influence helps a ton. And finally “If You Don’t Wanna Love,” a duet with Sarah Buxton, really works, telling the story of a wife in a crappy marriage and a runaway daughter, both of whom just want some love.

At a couple points on this album it just seemed like Cowboy Troy was just trying to be Kid Rock, except with fiddles and steel guitars in the background, and I know that he’s probably trying to be much more. That’s why I’m figuring his live show probably really puts things together, and why some of the songs on Loco Motive really work at what he is doing, while too many of them are just rap with fiddles.

I liked a little over half the album, so that gives it a 55% on the Entertainment Ave! listenability scale. There’s a lot of potential here, I’m just not buying taking a normal rap song that you might here from Will Smith or Run DMC, adding some fiddles to it, and call it hick hop, but I do look forward to seeing Cowboy Troy in concert because I think on a stage even the songs I don’t really care for will work better.

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