Friday, February 26, 2010

Steppenwolf 7

I have no idea what the significance is of this album’s title, considering that it was the band’s 5th outing and I haven't found any hints online - apparently, this is something that fans tend to debate. Again, it is not their best, but it is a solid rocker with some of their better, though lesser-known, numbers and some fine playing. It has an amazing, psychedelic cover, as well!

Starting off with Larry Byrom’s funky wah-wahed lead guitar on “Ball Crusher”, the band creates a great, mid-tempo groove that pulls you in and gets ya moving. They perform an old blues number for “Forty Days and Forty Nights” and do it justice, including a nice harmonica solo by Kay.

Byrom is again highlighted on “Fat Jack”, with some killer lead licks and propelling it with some biting chords. Again, I wish that the CD credits were more specific because Kay is definitely not singing lead here, so I’m guessing it might be Larry, but I will need to research some more. As he sounds like the same second vocalist off of the Live record, I think that it is must be him. This is a strong rock’n’roller, though.

Kay tells the story of his escaping communist controlled East Prussia in “Renegade”, a harrowing and hard-rockin’ song that manages to convey the fear and franticness of his journey as seen through the eyes of a 4 year old. Really, this still brings chills to my spine when I hear this – one of John’s most personal and memorable songs.

“Foggy Mental Breakdown” is another almost-funky tune with a good groove and intertwining vocals between Kay and either Byrom or new bassist George Blondo. Kay even gets to throw in some harmonica again, though sounding more folky than bluesy in this instrumental break.

Hoyt Axton returns as a Steppenwolf songwriter (he is also responsible for their smash “The Pusher”) on “Snowblind Friend”, another anti-drug song, this time obviously about cocaine. This is rendered in a more folk/country style than their other Axton cover, so it doesn’t jump as much, but it fits in with Kay’s singer/songwriter stylings and it is a good song.

They return to their ballsy hard rock with the fantastic “Who Needs Ya”, a high energy blast of r’n’r with more vocal trade-offs, a catchy chorus and fine band interaction. One of the best song titles ever is “Earschplittenloudenboomer” but unfortunately this instrumental does not live up to its title in sonic power – it’s a good, chuggin’ number, but with the horns and such, it is a little safe and almost MOR-ish.

The final number here is “Hippo Stomp”, a cool little groover, again propelled by some sharp rhythm guitar chords and a good John Kay melody. Not a wild one, but another solid tune.

I guess there are only a few truly consistent Steppenwolf albums due to their diverse influences and continuing personnel changes, but this is pretty darn good all the way through.

At Your Birthday Party - Steppenwolf

The band’s 3rd studio album (the massive self-titled debut and The Second preceding it) was, surprisingly, their last Top Ten album with their last Top Ten hit song (“Rock Me”). Considering the strength of some of their following records, I would have thought that they had sold more than this one, which is not one of their strongest.

Opening with “Don’t Cry”, a fast-paced, rhythmic rocker, they show that they are still on the attack and ready for fun. The oddly named “Chicken Wolf” is a nice blues-rock number that they later revamped (actually just changed the words) for their song “Power Play”. Producer Gabriel Mekler wrote the fairly sappy acoustic ballad “Lovely Meter”, which I don’t think John Kay sung, but there are no other vocal credits on the CD. Definitely not a highlight of the album, though Mekler did also write “Don’t Cry” and the closer “Happy Birthday”.

“Round and Down”, while written by guitarist Michael Monarch, shows off Kay’s early C&W leanings, though updated in a hard rock fashion. Not an entirely successful fusion, but I do like the Bo Diddley-esque rhythm ending of the song. One of the great tunes on this outing is “It’s Never Too Late”. A slower number with swirling keyboards, it has a very psychedelic guitar winding through it and a great melody, showing the band’s versatility and strength of song-writing (co written by Kay and new bassist Nick St. Nicholas).

Nicholas is also responsible for an almost jug-band-ish interlude “Sleeping Dreaming”, a one minute long segue between “…Too Late” and the excellent rocker “Jupiter’s Child”, with its superb “Magic Carpet Ride” styled guitar rhythms and very druggy lyrics. Unfortunately, they lose their momentum with “She’ll Be Better”, another forgettable ballad. There is another short interlude, this time a honky-tonk instrumental (“Cat Killer” – written by their keyboard Goldy McJohn under his real name), before moving into their hit from this album, “Rock Me”. While I don’t think this is the best of their best, it is another up-tempo rocker working around a 3 chord guitar pattern before dropping into a percussion-driven instrumental break, again somewhat reminiscent of the break in “Magic Carpet Ride”, and then popping back into a repeated chorus. Good stuff, just a little more pedestrian than their greatest numbers.

“God Fearing Man” is truly forgettable and is followed by yet another semi-rambling instrumental, “Mango Juice”, which also doesn’t have much to it. “Happy Birthday” works a little better as a soul-rock number, but still isn’t top-notch.

The unevenness of this album keeps it from being one of their best, and, in fact, it is comparatively weak, but it still has some fine moments. Definitely not for casual fans though – more for completists than anything else.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bowie at the Beeb

As you might imagine from the title, this set is a collection of David Bowie performances on BBC Radio in London. Subtitled “The Best of the BBC Radio Sessions 68-72”, this displays Bowie starting with his early folk days (some pre-David Bowie album tunes) through his height of popularity during his Ziggy Stardust period.

CD one is almost solely folky material, with a number of tunes from Space Oddity and The Man Who Sold the World (though these are not with Mick Ronson, for some reason, although he does appear on some other offerings). David plays a bit with the material and does not attempt to slavishly duplicate the studio recordings. He even takes a wild turn and covers Chuck Berry’s “Almost Grown” – quite a departure from everything else on this disc!

The second disc is primarily made up of Ziggy-era material, with several repeats, but also includes some from Hunky Dory as well as Lou Reed covers “I’m Waiting for the Man” and “White Light/White Heat”, both of which were concert staples at this time. Nothing else especially strange here, but all are fascinating insights into his different ideas for his songs.

The copy of this set that I have (it says that it is a limited edition) has an extra disc from the year 2000, but frankly, I find this a little boring. While I still have respect for the man as an artist, I don’t really care for a lot of his more recent releases and, of course, this disc concentrates on newer material, so it is not super interesting to me. But there is a good rendition of “The Man Who Sold the World”, a slowed-down “Fame” and an odd take on one of my favorites, “Cracked Actor”, which suffers a bit with the update.

I dig these BBC releases and this is a good collection for the first two CDs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Billion Dollar Babies - Alice Cooper

I realized that I have not yet reviewed this record and seeing as I just finished re-reading the Michael Bruce book, I thought it was about time.

While I think that the trio of Love it to Death, Killer and School’s Out are by far the band’s finest (with the two previous records – Pretties for You and Easy Action - being maniacally great in different ways), this release still has some excellent moments despite showing the band to be on the verge of collapse. The members were living completely over-indulgent lives as young r’n’r stars and as a result, cracks were starting within the band. The guys were no longer living together, Alice was drifting off into his own rock star fantasies (along with golfing and hob-knobbing with the stars), and lead guitarist Glen was drinking so heavily that he reportedly barely played on the record.

Regardless of this and of the fact that members weren’t always even in the studio at the same time to record their individual parts and that the record was done in several different studios in different countries with many hangers-on, many of the songs themselves still shine.

The design of the CD reissue is superb, combining many elements of the original vinyl’s wallet theme with a nice, full color booklet and even a 2nd CD of a live show and bonus studio tracks. I just wish that the record company would do this with all of the other studio albums – I would love to have bonus tracks and live shows from the earlier tours, since what I have seen and heard on bootlegs has been stellar!

The album opens with the appropriately-titled “Hello, Hooray”, which originally appeared on a 1968 Judy Collins record, of all places! Michael Bruce thought that this was a little too “Broadway” for the band, but it was a successful start to the record and live show and very apt lyrically. From here they move into the twisted tale of Alice being molested by a female trucker while hitch-hiking and being left alone, “Raped and Freezin’”, in Mexico. The band manages to turn this lurid story into a great rock’n’pop, sing-along tune!

“Elected” was a re-working of a number from their debut, “Reflected”. While the original was great, this was an improvement and a fantastic call to voters to ring in Alice in this election year. Catchy as all hell, rockin’, a clarion call to the kids (“you and me together, young and strong”) and including the wonderful lines “a new party, a 3rd party, a wild party!” and “everyone has problems – and personally, I don’t care!”. THAT was the kind of politician that teens could get behind, especially in the era of creeps like Nixon and Agnew.

Neil Smith starts off the title track with a fantastic drum riff, which is then built upon with layers of guitar licks, cool evil lyrics (“if I’m too rough tell me, I’m so afraid your little head will come off in my hands”) and a surprise addition of Donovan (!) sharing the lead vocals with Alice, which somehow manages to work, despite of or because of the bizarreness of it all!

My second-to-least favorite of the record is “Unfinished Sweet” – not terrible, but obviously written solely as an accompaniment to the goofy portion of the stage show where Alice was attacked by a dancing tooth, a toothbrush and an evil dentist who brought out a massive drill because “teeth are ok but the gums gotta go”. Some neat James Bond elements harken back to earlier works, but this is not as good as the previous stage show backings from the other records and it meanders a bit too long without the visuals.

I was a little surprised to learn that “No More Mr. Nice Guy” was the band’s biggest hit (I always thought that “18” was), but it is a helluva song – great guitar intro and truly funny lyrics about how Alice was turned from a nice guy to his “mean” persona due to he way that people and media reacted to him and his stage act. Somewhat of a change of pace is “Generation Landslide”, propelled by an acoustic 12 string guitar, but with many more instruments added throughout. Not wimpy at all and with wacky lyrics about babies rebelling and waging a war against their parents. Nice harmonica work by Alice (which we hadn’t heard much for a while) and a memorable double-entendre chorus of “I laughed to myself at the men and the ladies, who never conceived of us billion dollar babies”.

In a return to the creepy, spooky side, the band unleashes “Sick Things”, which fit very well into their demented stage act. This sounds evil and perfectly sick and it still a good song. This segued into “Mary Ann”, a goofy, throw-away vaudevillian number that hinges completely around the final line “I thought that you were my man”. Forgettable and actually beneath them - definitely the low point of the record. I guess they threw it in to lighten the mood between “Sick Things” and the closer, “I Love the Dead”. As the title suggests, this is a song about necrophilia and is appropriately twisted and eerily moody with fine melodic touches.

An uneven record, to be sure, and not up to par with their previous three, but still a great one which solidified their status as stars just before they completely disintegrated.

Disc 2 is a recording of the live show at this time and with the added session musicians, this sounds much more polished than the previous anarchic r’n’r band, but is a good documentation of their show at the time. Most of the songs are from the B$B album, with the exception of “I’m Eighteen” (which has an extended jam, the added line “mom and dad got me drinkin’ whiskey” and a terrific extended ending), “Dead Babies” and weirdly, “My Stars”, one of the more forgettable songs from School’s Out – so much so that I forgot which record is was from, despite loving that album. Why that instead of “Luney Tune” or “Public Animal #9, I’ll never know!

The studio bonus tracks and the real highlights here, just for their rareness, though I wish there were more. “Coal Black Model T” is a take-off on the 50’s rocker, “Big Black Cadillac” and retains a rockabilly feel with pumpin’ piano and poundin’ drums. Pretty unusual for these cats. An outtake of “Generation Landslide” is interesting though not radically different. The last track is another take of “Coal Black Model T”, this time named “Big Black Limousine” but without a lot of other changes – cool, but it would have been neat to have more album outtakes, if they still exist.

Anyway, not their best, but still a goodie and the packaging and the extras make it essential for any fan.

No More Mr. Nice Guy – The Inside Story of the Alice Cooper Group

As anyone who knows me or has read this blog well knows, I am a huge, huge Alice Cooper band fanatic and have been since I first heard “(I’m) 18” when I was well below that age. Their combination of terrific r’n’r tunes and wild stage antics, outrageous clothes and love of b-movie horror films spoke directly to me as a youngster and still to this day! I never cared for any of the member’s work after the band broke up, but the few years of the group’s existence provided some very exciting times for any r’n’r enthusiast.

So, when I discovered this book, I naturally had to have it. Michael Bruce was the main (though certainly not sole) songwriter of the group and was responsible for some of the most memorable songs and their biggest hits. He also was a fine rhythm guitarist (who could throw in some mean licks now and again) and his haunting keyboards added to the eerie sound of the band.

Bruce is not a natural writer or even story-teller – he tends to repeat himself now and again and jump around a bit – but he is a font of information and, with Billy James, tells the terrific tale of this incredibly unique and talented band. The book is small, though, and he does almost rush through some periods – as always, I wish there was more details on songwriting and studio recordings – but he tries to interject funny anecdotes throughout.

Starting with the guys’ different high school bands - he seems to remember the names that they all used even after 40 years or so! – he tells of joining the existing Spiders with Alice (Vincent Furnier), Dennis Dunaway and Glen Buxton (drummer Neil Smith joined later) and claims to be the one who got them writing original material. This is not much of a stretch as he had already been writing for other bands and, as I said, he wrote most of this group’s hits.

Michael tends to forget to include little details in telling the story – such as where something is taking place! – but if you go along with him, it all falls into place eventually.

This autobiography is filled with fantastic photos – many that I, at least, had never seen before. The pix of the band as garage rockers alone are worth the cost of the book! Archival fliers, contracts and even band Xmas cards are fun items that fill out the story.

Bruce is a little bitter regarding the break-up of the band and the fact that he was not able to stay in the spotlight. Added to the fact that he made some bad financial decisions and somehow lost most of his money makes this fairly understandable. I wish that he and the other guys had been able to remain popular, as Alice did in his solo career, but his legacy is something to be supremely proud of. As of the writing of this book (early ‘90’s), he was starting to play again with a re-vamped Billion Dollar Babies and sit in with some early punk’n’roll groups.

This is a story for fans, really, not the casual listener, and don’t expect a master writer, but it is a good romp through the history of one of the best r’n’r bands of all time! I wish nothing but the best for this man and all of the rest of the group. Of course, since this was released, Glen Buxton has passed away, but the others have occasionally had one-off reunions and hopefully will do so again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Want to Take You Higher - Jeff Kaliss

This book is a nice overview of Sylvester Stewart's career and Sly and the Family Stone's history, right up until Kaliss' most recent interview with Sly in February of 2008.

Jeff moves fairly quickly through Sly's upbringing, musical growth, band inception and the recording path of the group. I think that there could have been a lot more detail throughout, but this is an easy read, giving fans a general outline of the life of this extremely talented man, moving from his days as a producer right through to the current times as a relative recluse who occasionally works with some ex-band members.

It is good to know that despite many f'k-ups in his life, he still has the money to live a good life and still make music when he so desires. Many of his colleagues of the time were far from as fortunate.

I would like to know more of his days as a producer and even of the Family Stone's recordings, but this is a fine summary of his life.

Monday, February 15, 2010

RIP Doug Fieger

Dan Epstein gives a nice epitaph at his blog, La Vie en Robe.

Unlike Dan, I really dug the power-pop of "My Sharona" when it first came out, due to the fact that it was a guitar based, Beatle-esque rock'n'roll song coming out of my AM radio. Of course, it got way over-played, but the Knack created super power-pop throughout their career and their first two albums are truly solid.

I hadn't even heard that Doug was ill, so this was a sad surprise to me.

Too many are leaving us too soon...

Zebra Finches playing guitar

No, not a new band, but an art installation where birds makes sounds with an electric guitar. Check out the video at Huffington Post.

Epiphone Dot semi-hollow body ES335 copy

I think this will be my last guitar purchase for a while now! With our collection of guitars and basses, we're getting a little overwhelmed! But, at least partially because I've been listening and trying to learn more blues, I wanted something like a traditional blues guitar that could still be used for r'n'r. I do wish that Epiphone was making one of these with a whammy bar!

This comes is several finishes, including a nice sunburst, but I was partial to the black and it is a beauty! This comes with chrome hardware and gold-ish knobs (kind of an odd combination), a maple body, rosewood fretboard and dual humbucker pickups.

Again, the neck is a little different from my other guitars - this one is almost like an acoustic neck - a little wider than some, but still with nice action. The two volume and tone knobs and 3 way selector switch gives a good variety of tones and so far I have not had any issues with feedback even with the f-holes, though certain stomp boxes work better than others with this. My Rat box seems to make some obnoxious overtones with this guitar, though still not the screeching feedback I was afraid of.

Another quality instrument from Epiphone and for the approximately $400.00 that Guitar Center is selling it for, another one that I can unreservedly recommend. Epiphone also makes a fine hard shell ES335 case that goes for under $100.00 that is a perfect fit for this.

Here's more info from the Guitar Center site.

Are You Gonna Go My Way - Lenny Kravitz

One of the best popular r'n'r songs of the 90's was Lenny Kravitz's "Are You Gonna Go My Way'. Great guitar tone with a super-rockin' riff, high energy swagger and sexy lyrics. He looked fabulous, had a wonderful band (including an amazing female drummer) and believed in using old technology to get the right rock'n'roll sounds.

Unfortunately, nothing else on the album rocks like the title track. There are still some great moments on the record, but without the wailing abandon of "...Go My Way". He has interesting steals, though, from Led Zeppelin ("Believe" could be an out-take from Houses of the Holy) to 70's funk ("Come On and Love Me" - nothing to do with the Kiss song of the same name) to Beatle-esque psychedelia ("My Love"). All are comparatively mellow and many of the others are down-right ballads.

This is not bad, per se, just not what I had expected from his hit. But, he has superb guitar licks throughout and writes fine tunes.

Kravitz is a terrific talent who helped to revitalize r'n'r in the 90's.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

another loss to r'n'r

Rock 'n Roll pioneer Dale Hawkins dead in Little Rock

"Dale's early experiments in production in the studios of Shreveport's KWKH with Merle Kilgore and Johnny Horton developed the skills that would later produce hits for the Uniques, Five Americans, Jon & Robin & the In Crowd, Michael Nesmith, Harry Nilsson, and others. Along the way, he even found time to host "The Big Big Beat" aka "The Dale Hawkins Show" on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia."

"Suzie Q" was covered by among others, the Rolling Stones in 1964, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, who recorded an 11-minute quasi-psychedelic version on their first LP in 1968.

Among Hawkins' other hits were "La Do Da Da," later recorded by the Blue Things. He has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and The Lousiana Music Hall of Fame.

Dale Hawkins, best known for his 1957 hit "Suzie Q" (also known as "Suzy-Q"), has died in Little Rock, Arkansas at the age of 73, of complications from colon cancer.

He had been undergoing treatment at the Arkansas Hospice Center at St. Vincent's Doctors Hospital in Little Rock.

Born August 23, 1936 in Goldmine, Louisiana, Hawkins was a singer, guitarist, and songwriter called "the archictect of 'Swamp Rock Boogie.'"

From his website: ""His swamp rock classic, 'Susie Q,' crackles with the manic energy of that restless time, and conjures instant images of steamy Southern nights. It features a 15-year-old James Burton on guitar, the first of many guitar wizards Dale would discover and nurture. Others included Scotty Moore, Joe Osborn, Roy Buchanan, Fred Carter, Jr., and Kenny Paulsen.

"Dale's early experiments in production in the studios of Shreveport's KWKH with Merle Kilgore and Johnny Horton developed the skills that would later produce hits for the Uniques, Five Americans, Jon & Robin & the In Crowd, Michael Nesmith, Harry Nilsson, and others. Along the way, he even found time to host "The Big Big Beat" aka "The Dale Hawkins Show" on WCAU-TV in Philadelphia."

"Suzie Q" was covered by among others, the Rolling Stones in 1964, and Creedence Clearwater Revival, who recorded an 11-minute quasi-psychedelic version on their first LP in 1968.

Among Hawkins' other hits were "La Do Da Da," later recorded by the Blue Things. He has been inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and The Lousiana Music Hall of Fame.


Here's a link to his website.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

this literally made me laugh out loud

Olivia Newton-John tops list of sexiest songs

NEW YORK – Just in time for Valentine's Day, Billboard has ranked the 50 sexiest songs by popularity — and Barry White didn't even make the list.

Instead, it's Olivia Newton-John who is tops — her hit "Physical" is No. 1, followed by Rod Stewart's "Tonight's the Night (Gonna Be Alright)."

Rounding out the top five: Boyz II Men's ballad "I'll Make Love to You," Next's "Too Close" and Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On." (Gaye's "Sexual Healing" is No. 35)

It's not until No. 10 — Stewart's "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" — that sex is mentioned in any song title.

Billboard's list, released Thursday, is based on the popularity of songs from 1958 until early January of this year.

Olivia Newton John has the "sexiest" song?!?!?!?! Boyz II Men in the top five?!?!?! Who made this ridiculous list?

Where's Tina Turner? Otis Redding? Hell, Blondie?
Sex is the last thing I think of in relation to Olivia Newton John.


Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Squier FSR Standard Stratocaster HSS Electric Guitar

(Beagle not included!)
Another new guitar that I've bought in order to produce a variety of sounds is this Squire Stratocaster.

As a huge Jimi Hendrix fan, I've dug the Strat sounds forever, but have never thought that it was appropriate for the bands that I was playing in. I did once play a Mustang, though, and dug the feel and the whammy bar on that.

The silver sparkle finish on this guitar caught my eye as I walked in the door of our local Guitar Center (ooh, shiny!) and it actually plays really nice with very good action and plenty of sonic options with the 5 position pick-up selector. The humbucker pickup at the bridge is nice and powerful, with a full, distorted tone and the other two pickups give a cleaner sound with a good variation on the EQ.

The whammy bar gives a large range of movement, though this does tend to throw the guitar out of tune fairly often. This is still a pretty new guitar and I am still working on setting it up, but despite being the nature of the whammy-bar-beast, it can be a little annoying. Still, I am using this pretty regularly now and am having a blast with the expansive whammy and with the variety of sounds I can coax out of it.

For more info, here is the Guitar Center page on this instrument. It looks like it has gone up in price a little, as I got it for right about $200.00, which is an excellent price for something of this quality.

Edit - As I've been playing this some more, I noticed that neither of the tone knobs seem to affect the humbucker pickup, which is odd. The single volume knob can take some getting used to when switching to different pickups for different sounds, as well (I'm used to using one pickup at a lower level for quieter parts or even to cut out the guitar for a section). Also, changing strings is more of a challenge with this guitar since the strings come from the back of the guitar through the body. It can be a little tricky getting the end of the string from the inside of the body through the little hole in the plate in the back. I guess it just takes some experience, but it's not as simple as the Gibsons and Epiphones. But these are nit-picky complaints - I still dig it a lot!

Epiphone Limited-Edition G-400 Deluxe Electric Guitar with Maestro Vibrato Tailpiece

One reason why I have been listening to even more different types of music than usual is that I am now playing in a cover band! It's still in the practicing stages, but it's a bunch of old guys (my age!) doing classic rock, with a few oddities thrown in.

So, because of this, I have been updating my equipment, much of which I got rid of when I moved to Vegas. I still have my HiWatt amp and one Gibson SG Custom, but I decided to retire that and use less expensive guitars.

I've been an SG fan for decades now (late '80's is when I really started playing them) and I'm a whammy bar fanatic, so when I started searching for something new, I wanted an SG w/the bar. Unfortunately, I guess many people are not fans of this style because I had a really hard time finding a new guitar with these seemingly simple qualifications until I came across this Epiphone.

This was impossible to find in Vegas (I really miss LA sometimes!) so I ordered it online and I was not dissappointed! Definitely a different neck from the Gibson SGs that I have owned - slightly larger, mostly - but not bad. I've been playing with the intonation a bit and think I still need a few adjustments, but overall, this is a great instrument with fine playability and sound. Not quite as versitile as the classic Gibsons, but well worth the $500.00 that Guitar Center is charging for this.

For specific details, see the Guitar Center site here.

Edit - One odd thing about this guitar is that the whammy does not fold back flat onto the guitar is the back position like the Gibson whammys do. It remains in the "up" position even when pointed towards the back of the guitar. This means that it does not fit easily into any normal guitar cases of even gig bags without the bar being pushed down by the case or bag, which affects the strings and the neck. Even the people at Guitar Center seems surprised at this. I have yet to find a case for this, though I have not done an extensive search.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Nirvana - Bleach

I know that this is not a very controversial statement, but I pulled out our Bleach CD and upon listening to this, I think I like this even better than Nevermind, as good as that is.

And while I really don't think that the band sold out with the latter record - after all, they left in mistakes and were still pretty raw - but this record is truly dark, demented, noisy and damn near dangerous. They did clean up their act a little bit for their major label debut, but some of that might have just been the production.

This is also not quite as poppy and formulamatic, though you can still sing - and scream - along with Curt on this record. It is obvious why they had the following that they did by this time and why they were picked up by a major, though I am sure that no one - not the band, managers, label, whoever - expected them to break like they did.
They really did change the face of music, and not a moment too soon! As sick as I got of the "grunge fashion" (and it's hard to believe that guys are still wearing "long shorts" and flannel), at least they did away with the horrific hair metal bands and we got back to some real rock'n'roll. They gave a lot of us hope for the future of modern music and opened the doors for the weird and cool bands to come.