Album Retrospective

Retrospective #9 – Tool

Tool are a band from Los Angeles, California. Forming in 1990, the bands original line-up included Maynard James Keenan, Adam Jones, Danny Carey and Paul D’Amour. 1995 saw the bands one and only line-up change when D’Amour was replaced by Justin Chancellor. Tool have released a mere 5 albums throughout their history!

It was June 1997, and I was somewhat indifferently watching MTV, when this video started that led to Tool becoming 1 of my top 3 favourite bands. The song was ‘Stinkfist’ and I remember being absolutely blown away by both the song and the video. I have been fortunate to see them live on just 2 occasions. First time was in 2001 at London’s Brixton Academy and then again in 2006 at London’s Wembley Arena. You will note the 2 venues are in London and fortunately, I lived in the South of England for 20 years.  Currently on tour in Europe in 2022, it is with a high degree of extreme disappointment that this tour does not include a date or 2 in Scotland.

The fact that I have only ever seen them live on 2 occasions is disgraceful, considering the extremely high regard I hold them in. That said, at least we have the albums.

Please welcome Retrospective #9, Tool.

Album Retrospective – Tool

Following the success of 1992’s debut EP, ‘Opiate’, Tool made the decision to lean away from the EP’s heavy sound, potentially as an anti-thesis to the burgeoning Grunge scene, but more than likely to create more atmosphere to Keenan’s dark and twisted lyrical content. Released in 1993, the album was called Undertow and it identified Tool as an incredible, technically proficient, band with deep and insightful lyrics, albeit with the dark undertones mentioned. ‘Prison Sex’, probably the best song on the album, is about child abuse. Nobody in 1992 was writing lyrics like this, we had not long emerged from the horrific Hair Metal scene, with bands like Motley Crue singing about girls or smoking in the boy’s room – you know, real intelligent stuff!  Meanwhile, Tool were getting videos withdrawn from MTV due to their lyrical content.

This was the only album to feature Paul D’Amour, and it is something he should be incredibly proud of being part of. In listening to the album as part of the retrospective, I totally lost my shit during ‘Bottom’, another stunning track.

Undertow is an album that demands your attention. With incredible videos featuring Adam Jones designed Stop-Motion techniques, Tool merely hint at that artistic future of the bands vision and sound.  8/10

September 1996 saw the release of their 2nd album, Ænima. If I were to concoct a list of my top 5 favourite albums of all time, this one would be near the top. There are very few albums I would deem as perfect, but Ænima is, to my mind, perfect. Be it through the cleverly placed interludes, the moments of extreme heaviness, sitting alongside superbly executed time signatures, there is absolutely no criticism that should be made about this album. When I heard ‘Stinkfist’ for the first time, I immediately went out to buy the CD. I was absolutely obsessed with the album from day 1.

Needless to say, the band still courted controversy with their lyrical content – again by MTV who refused to use the songs name when playing ‘Stinkfist’. ‘Die Eier von Satan’ is another controversial track. Designed to sound like a 1930’s Nazi rally, the industrial track is essentially a recipe for a Hash cake.

But it isn’t the controversies that make this album, it is the sheer quality of the tracks on offer, it is the way the album makes you lose your mind, makes you sing along to every single song and ultimately gives you goosebumps.  Perfection 10/10

It was then nearly 5 full years before we would hear a new Tool album. Yes, we had the Salival box set (which I only mention as I own it), but legal battles created by the folding of their record lable would apparently hinder the growth of the band. Well, it should have, but for the fact that Tool decided to write another absolute classic! Lateralus was released in May 2001 and eager fans, including myself, immediately gobbled it up. I remember buying it on the day of release, playing it constantly as I strived to learn all the lyrics. This was especially helpful when they band got 2 of the albums best tracks, ‘Parabola’ and ‘Schism’ onto the Guitar Hero game.

Salival by Tool

I loved the transition Tool were making into their sound, a more progressive form of metal and I was overjoyed when I got to see them live for the first time on this tour, especially at an iconic venue that is famed for its excellent acoustics, Brixton Academy.  I remember watching in absolute awe, just staring at the stage as the band exceeded the sky high expectations I had of seeing them live. 2001 was a good year! 9/10

Another 5 years and Tool were ready to release the 4th album. Called 10,000 Days, we were able to buy it in the UK at the beginning of May. I have the copy with the ‘eye glasses’, a gimmick that I don’t actually think benefits the album, but that is irrelevant. The songs themselves went even deeper into progressive territory and, again, many of them were absolute bangers, in particular the opening track, ‘Vicarious’. Yet again, the song made it on to a Guitar Hero game, demonstrating the popularity.

My life, around this time, was in a bit of a state, but I still managed to grab the chance to see the band at Wembley Arena in London, a far bigger, and far less awesome a venue than Brixton Academy. This time, I was in a seat with my friend, Simon, as we eagerly watched Mastodon open for the band. When Tool arrived, Maynard was situated on a riser in the back left of the stage, beside Danny and the drums, with Justin and Adam taking prominence at the front. Essentially a silhouette throughout the set, I again watched the band, awestruck at how cool it looked and how Tool were a proper band and that I was so happy that they were back! 9/10

My Favourite Tool T-Shirt
T-Shirt Back Print

Alas, my optimism that Tool were back was misplaced. As months became years and rumour replaced rumour, and as with so many of the bands I listened to in my 20s and early 30s, I grew apart from their music, listening to the albums less and less. Like many Tool fans, I didn’t think we would ever see the new album. Hope was just about extinguished, with potential release dates being mooted and then changed.

Then, in 2019, news broke of 2 new songs being played at a festival in the USA.  2 new songs…. I was beside myself. Then, in August 2019, Fear Inoculum was released and…. I didn’t buy it! Yes, I listened it on Spotify, as Tool had recently put their catalogue on streaming platforms, but they did not provide a ‘normal’ CD for anybody to buy. Instead, we had to buy a special edition at an exorbitant price, something I was, and am still not, willing to do. I love Tool and this is the only album I don’t own.  I go by the mantra buy, don’t Spotify, but I cannot do it on this occasion.

It is a shame, as Fear Inoculum is a fine album, albeit one that doesn’t really match up to the predecessors. Perhaps this is because of the excellent side projects the guys have had over the years, or more than likely it is because my musical taste changed drastically in the intervening 13 years between albums.  That said, I hope we get a new album fairly rapidly, with ‘normal’ version for us to purchase. 8/10

Listening to each of the albums during this retrospective, it is immediately obvious that the standard of each album is impeccable. The timelines between the releases has also not blunted the affection that I, and many others have for Tool. I now just hope for a Scottish date in the upcoming months so that I can see them live once again, as I don’t want to wait another 10+ years for this to happen.

Album Ranking

  1. Ænima
  2. Laterlus
  3. 10,000 Days
  4. Undertow
  5. Fear Inoculum

Off the beaten track – Check out the numerous Danny Carey Drum Cam videos on Youtube, although with nearly 24m views of We can assume most readers of this blog will have seen them.

Album Retrospective

Therapy? Part 2

So, 2001 apparently saw me fall out of love with Therapy? Except it didn’t, as a wee investigation saw that Shameless wasn’t the last album I bought, indeed it appears that Part 1 saw my album numbering going a bit awry and there was a hint of repetition… rather unprofessional of me. However, the fact I was falling out of love slowly with the band made sense, as the evolution in my taste in music hadn’t quite reached its Zenith. In short, though, the band’s time rotating at the top of my playlist was fading fast. Their last 2 albums hadn’t hit me in the way I would have hoped, but time changes everything and so does a phoenix rising from the flames.

High Anxiety was, ahem, the last Therapy? album that I bought! It appears that this album did not have a massive impact on me, as I couldn’t remember owning it. Fortunately, upon the retrospective re-listen, I realised that it had a handful of real bangers where I remembered a decent amount of lyrics. ‘Hey Satan, you rock’ is a great intro to an album. It sets a tone that, unfortunately, the band doesn’t maintain. Another top drawer song is, ‘If it Kills me’, another banger. It’s a decent album, just not from the top-drawer. This was the first album with the new drummer, Neil Coooper and, unfortunately, the last with Martin McCarrick. Therapy? was once again back at their fighting weight as a 3-piece.   6/10

I then utterly lost contact with the band, leaving them behind, never to return? Well, I did return to them but I had a few albums to catch up on.

The first of these was the band’s 8th album, Never Apologise, Never Explain. Rather disappointingly, this album is not fully available on streaming services and, as I do not own it, I have struggled to listen to the whole album. This means that it is rather unfair to try and rate this….. but I will!  The album saw the band move back to a punkier sound, probably as part of being a 3 piece. This allows the band to be a bit riskier, with the album having a fair few good tracks, including, ‘Here be Monsters’, ‘So Called Life’ and ‘Save the Sermon’. Was I wrong to give up on the band?  6/10

This retrospective gave me the opportunity to listen to album no.9, One Cure Fits All. I was incredibly surprised by the strong start this album has. In fact, the consistency of the album has almost made me regret giving up on them when I did. This is a proper fist pumping album, with a couple of superb songs. ‘Dopamine, Serotonin, Adrenaline’ stands head and should above the rest of the tracks, with, ‘Unconsoled’ running it a close second. 7/10

2009 sees Crooked Timber released, this time on a new record label Demolition Records. Yet again, the boys move away from the sound of their previous album. By now it should be clear that Therapy? are a band who will also grow, always develop their sound and, most importantly, do it on their own terms. Again, I listened to this as part of the retrospective and I was impressed. The albums title track has a supremely catchy, head nodding riff that is utterly catchy and has you humming for days. Another track, ‘I Told you I was ill’ has a jagged riff, again sitting in your head for ages. It’s superb. Crooked Timber is an album that confirms I was wrong to stop listening and is a gateway to the subsequent reinforcement that follows.  7/10

A Brief Crack of Light was released in 2012, after a brief delay. This isn’t your typical Therapy? album, perhaps because of the disjointed recording sessions. It has, yet again, a different sound and is a little bit hit and miss. ‘Plague Bell’ is a superb song, its genuinely enjoyable. However, ‘The Buzzing’ isn’t. It a disappointing song, but it does not stop the album from being very intriguing, and it is this intrigue that ultimately makes the album quite enjoyable. 7/10

2015 saw me reconnect with Therapy? for the first time in over a decade. I can’t remember the reason why I was prompted to listen to it, but I recall being on a train home from work deciding to listen to the album on a popular streaming platform. I was utterly gobsmacked at how good Disquiet was. I could not believe how hungry the band were, and my immediate thoughts were how much Cooper had reinvigorated the band – he is a top-class drummer – and how much fun the band appears to be having. It is a reminder of the bands glory days and I listened to this album time and time again… before ultimately moving on again as albums poured in for review and taking up my time.  7/10

2018 saw the last Therapy? release, entitle Cleave. Originally available for pre-order through the ill-fated Pledge platform, the album was ultimately released on a new label, Marshall Records. It is interesting to note that the band went back to Chris Sheldon for the production. Sheldon was responsible for the production of ‘Troublegum’ and ‘Semi-Detached’. This is perhaps how Cairns’ voice sounds immense, with the band sounding incredibly mature. Cleave is the sound of a band who have rediscovered themselves. That said, all bets are off for the direction Therapy? head of to next. I for one cannot wait and I so chuffed to have rediscovered a band I adored in the 90’s. 8/10

Of all the bands that disappeared from my life, Therapy? are perhaps the one that got away. I have barely seen them live, I have not given them any money for merch/albums for years and yet I call myself a fan. This is something I shall have to remedy!

Album Ranking

  1. Suicide Pact – You First
  2. Troublegum
  3. Cleave
  4. Infernal Love
  5. Disquiet
  6. Semi-Detached
  7. Crooked Timber
  8. A Brief Crack of Light
  9. One Cure Fits All
  10. High Anxiety
  11. Never Apologise, Never Explain
  12. Nurse

Me vs The Wildhearts

The Wildhearts are my favourite band!

I say this safe in the knowledge that whatever happens within the band, my love for the band will never die. The Wildhearts shall endure! May have asked me why my favourite band have not been the subject of a retrospective. The answer is that I have never stopped listening to the band. I probably listen to at least 1 Wildhearts song every few days.

It has been a few days since the announcement that the band are on ‘hiatus’. How long this will last, nobody knows, but I have been a fan of the band since the early 90’s and so I know that, in one shape or another, they will return, bigger and better than ever!

Whilst this ‘hiatus’ is incredibly disappointing, especially considering the strength of their last 2 albums, I cannot say that it is unexpected.  The Wildhearts are a band that have thrived on conflict and internal strife.  Fights with record labels, trashing the office of music magazines, numerous personnel changes – the band has had it all, but through it all, the band has ultimately survived.

The Wildhearts have been responsible for some of my favourite moments in music. My favourite ever concert experience is seeing the boys at Kelvingrove Bandstand in Glasgow. I met the band for the one and only time in Glasgow early in the afternoon. I tried not to say anything stupid and utterly failed. I was a gibbering wreck and I also refused to have my work-shirt signed, as it was my ‘good shirt’. Idiot!

I then drove home 20 odd miles, changed, and got the train back to Glasgow to meet a bunch of strangers in the Solid Rock Café – the best rock pub in Scotland – as my normal gig going buddy had retired due to hearing issues. I cannot adequately explain how great this day was. I met people from all over the UK, including a guy who came up from Birmingham. Now, I don’t have a ‘face’ picture on Facebook, my picture is me passed out in my tent at the Reading Festival. So, this bearded hero hung about in the pub trying to figure out who I was. We were joined by a girl from Aberdeen, an awesome dude from Falkirk (I think) and a dude from the Islands. I have left their names out as I haven’t asked if I can use them. 

After introductory boozing at the pub, we piled in a taxi to the venue and drank even more. It was a fantastic gig, I was down the very front, have brilliant pictures of the band, including one where CJ and Danny actually posed for me, which helped this to be the greatest gig-going experience of my life!

The Wildhearts are also responsible for my second favourite song of all time. ‘The Trooper’ by Iron Maiden is the greatest song ever written by anyone, but ‘Everlone’ runs it close. It is one of 2 songs that can still give me goosebumps (Pilo Erect) when I listen to it. The other song is ‘Stinkfist’ by Tool. Any time I hear ‘Everlone’ live, I shut my eyes and the air-guitar appears to close the bad-boy out. I will always have this.

I have seen the band live more than any other….by a huge margin. I have never been let down at any gig, although I know that others have. I even heard CJ’s guitar in Glasgow. I’ve seen them at Festivals, indoor venues, posh bandstands, even ‘online’ gigs. I’ve seen several line-ups, different drummers, Jef Streatfield, Random Jon Poole spitting in the air and catching it again in his mouth, Toshi and Scott Sorry. I have nearly caught Ginger’s guitar (well, I was in the crowd watching them at Donington if that counts) and I have had a drink of Ginger’s JD and Coke in Southsea. I don’t like JD.

I have seen the band sober, and also very drunk. I have spent more money on Wildhearts merch than I can add up. I wish I still had all my t-shirts. More than half my ‘band’ t-shirts are Wildhearts related. I am lucky enough to have the fan-club release of ‘Fishing for Luckies’, and I still bought the update version of ‘PHUQ’, even though I could have put the tracklisting together to create the album proper.

I spent £25 for the ‘Caffeine Bomb’ EP on eBay back in the day, to complete my collection after they split up following the release of ‘Endless Nameless’, an album that I immediately adored, only for them to reform and release more singles. I was the President of the ‘Rock Society’ at university and knew the person running the University Radio Station. The upshot was that I was lined up to interview the band, only for them to split up.


I know people that ‘don’t get’ The Wildhearts. They are unable to understand the adulation that fans give them. Whilst I am by no means the ‘massive’ fan some folk assume I am (I know some fans that are incredibly intense), I am still a huge fan. I will never, ever understand why they are not huge and I do believe that they do not get the respect they deserve. I cannot understand anybody who doesn’t ‘get’ the band. It just does not compute.

For now, this hiatus gives the band time to get themselves together. Whilst we wait for this to happen, we can look forward to solo releases, gigs and all the other good things that allow the individuals to make the whole. I have complete confidence that I will be able to buy another new Wildhearts album. Until then;

‘Through edging greys, we remember these days’.

Album Retrospective

Retrospective #8 – Therapy?

Therapy? are a band from Northern Ireland originally formed in 1989 by Andy Cairns and Fyfe Ewing. After recording their first demo, they recruited Michael Mckeegan on bass guitar. Both Andy and Michael have been the mainstay throughout the bands 15 studio albums.

My introduction to Therapy? was at Castle Donington’s ‘Monsters of Rock’ festival in 1994. I remember being on the band’s right-hand side of the stage (left hand side from the fans viewpoint), watch a trio tear up the stage early on in the afternoon. My abiding memory is Andy Cairns opening his mouth wide and it looking like a massive black hole due to the goatee he was sporting. Their set was absolutely fantastic and I immediately started buying their CD’s after returning from the festival. To my eternal shame, I cannot recall seeing the band again since – I possibly have, I used to booze a wee bit at festivals and have rather, lets refer to them as, ‘hazy’ memories, but I have never seen a dedicated Therapy? tour. That said, one of my favourite ever band t-shirts (sadly gone) was red, featuring the name Therapy? on my left breast, with a huge question mark and the word ‘Irony’ written on the back. If the band ever read this blog, I’d buy this t-shirt again if they re-issued it!

As Therapy? are still an active band, I have the opportunity see them in the future.

Please welcome to part 1 of Retrospective #8, Therapy?.

Album Retrospective – Therapy?.

1991 saw the debut ‘album’ from Therapy?, entitled Babyteeth. With its short running length and featuring only 7 tracks, it is slightly longer than an EP but shorter than an album. Incredibly raw, the album doesn’t really have any real stand-out tracks, with only the single, ‘Meat Abstract’ really making any sort of impact. It is probably fair to say that, back then, my musical taste would have caused me to write Therapy? off if this was my first introduction to the band. Fortunately, it wasn’t, and so I can see the mini-album for what it is, a stepping stone to greatness.  5/10

Early 1992 saw the 2nd release from Therapy?, Pleasure Death. Again, it is a massive stretch to call this an album due to the lack of tracks and running time, but I have decided to include it in the retrospective in an effort to elucidate the growth of the band. Pleasure Death is a step up from their debut. It allowed the band to impact on the Independent Charts, demonstrating a growing maturity with a sound that hinted at an alternative punk genre.

Similar to their previous release, there are few stand-out tracks. It is an album of the whole rather than the individual, with only ‘Potatoe Junkie’ making any real impact. However, Pleasure Death saw the band courted by major labels, before they settled on A&M Records for, what I would describe as their debut album proper. 5/10

As these 2 releases are not proper albums, they will not form part of my Album rating in this retrospective.

Later on in 1992, the band released ‘Nurse’on the A&M label. The album eschews their previous punk leanings, introducing what has been described as a more, ‘grunge’ sound. Whilst I dispute this comparison, there can be no doubt that the boys were beginning to gain their own self-identity and the delivery on ‘Nurse’ reflected this. That said, once again, to myself at least, there is only 1 stand-out track on the album, namely ‘Teethgrinder’. This is an album that is not as good as people think it is, and once again, it is an album that didn’t immediately grab me when I bought it, albeit long after its initial release. However, the next album was about to change everything for the band. 5/10

In 1994, I went to my 2nd Monsters of Rock Festival, where the 2nd band to appear on the main stage was Therapy?. They blew my tiny mind. It wasn’t long after that I had a shiny CD in my fledgling CD collection filed under ‘T’. Yes, I file my music in alphabetical and chronological order.

Troublegum, in my humble opinion, has a subtle hint of classic about it. This is the first Therapy? release to have multiple tracks that stand-out. Released in 1994, it opens with ‘Knives’ and you know that this is a band who have discovered who they are. Long gone are the punky leanings of the 2 mini-albums, with their 2nd A&M album also delivering a robust boot to the testicles of the previous release.

Ironically, a friend from my university days, am man I wish I was still in touch with, told me in 1996 that the bands earlier releases were far superior to Troublegum. Will, my friend, if you ever read this, I would love to have a beer with you to see if you think the same way, hell I’d like to have a beer anyway.

There are issues with the album. Although it consistently holds your attention. It is front loaded. The best songs would be side A of a record. I found that on listening for this retrospective, it was the first half of the album that reminded me more of my life in the mid 90’s. Although a minor quibble, it did disappoint me a little. 8/10

1995 saw the release of the band 3rd full album, ‘Infernal Love’. I remember playing this at work, working in a bakery where my brother and I ‘ruled’ the CD player. Alas, my brothers taste in music is not the same as mine and so this album went down like a lead balloon. The band made a decision, let’s call it a dubious decision, to fill the ‘gaps’ between songs with what can only be described as am ambient distracting annoyance. This was incredibly disappointing, as there are a number of decent tracks on the album, a number of which are ballads. It would be interesting to hear a thoroughly modern remix of this album without the incidental nonsense.

This album was unfairly maligned in my opinion. Although not as strong as Troublegum, it again demonstrates the progression of the band. I love ‘Me vs You’ and ‘Misery’ is a truly brilliant track. This album still has a warm place in my 90’s heart. 7/10

1996 saw founding member and drummer, Fyfe Ewing, leave the band, as well as seeing the band add a cellist in Martin McCarrick. After all, what rock band cannot be improved by a cellist. To be fair, the dude also played guitar!

Semi-Detached was the 4th full album released in 1998 and it has a handful of bangers about it. ‘Safe’ is a truly superb song and ‘Stay Happy’ also impresses. Although the loss of Fyfe Ewing was probably felt keenly by the remaining duo, the album doesn’t reflect this. It is an enjoyable romp, shorn of the shenanigans of the interludes interrupting the previous album. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this album in my retrospective, as I didn’t remember it as being so strong. 7/10

 Not long after, 1999 to be precise, Therapy released, what this retrospective has determined, my favourite album. Suicide Pact – You First does not merely have a dark title, it is a dark album. Although the first 2 tracks are incredibly strong, it is ‘Jam Jar Jail’ where Therapy? really hit their stride. This song is truly stunning. Another banger is ‘Ten Year Plan’ where I have my favourite lyric by the band, ‘I just wanna get drunk and headbang’.   This album has nothing but top tunes and my retrospective reaffirmed by love.  9/10

In 2001, I was a couple of years out of University, living with my 1st ex-fiancée and having to have a real job to pay a mortgage. Alas, this has no impact on my opinion of Shameless, the 6th full album by Therapy?. I recall the anticipation for this album prior to its release…. and then the stifling disappointment upon listening to it. This album sounds like a band going through the motions, unhappy and devoid of inspiration. I was gutted. I don’t recall listening to this album in the last 20 years before this retrospective and I cannot say if I will ever visit it again. Shameless is a disappointing album where no single track stands out. 5/10

The 7th full length album, High Anxiety was released in 2003 and this album saw Neil Cooper replacing Hopkins on the, erm, skins (rubbish pun intended)…. and it immediately saw an improvement from the previous effort. Unlike the previous album, and by no means perfect, this album has a handful of superior tracks. This includes ‘Hey Satan – You Rock’ and the superb ‘If it Kills me’. High Anxiety appears to see Cairns and McKeegan recover their mojo with a band change, with McCarrick standing firm with his cello, prior to exiting the band!  6/10

Shameless was the last Therapy? album I bought. As previous retrospectives have stated, my musical taste evolved and Therapy? were a band that disappointedly fell by the wayside, only to rise like the proverbial phoenix from the flames. 

Part 2 of this retrospective will soon follow.


Christmas Break

This is just a note to say that there is a slight delay to the next retrospective.

Basically, I have had to listen to a ton of 2021 albums to get my top ten albums of the year for

The good news is I will return in the New Year and I can announce that the next retrospective will be on the rather awesome Therapy?

So I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


Restrospective #7 – Terrorvision

‘We are Terrorvision, and we are from Bradford’. These are the words spoken by Tony Wright, lead vocalist of Terrorvision on each of the many, many times I have seen this band. Originally formed in 1987 with a ridiculous name I will not mention, they became Terrorvision in 1991, releasing 6 studio albums over an 18 year period.

Terrorvision, from Bradford, are, perhaps, the most fun you will ever see live. With increasingly hazy memories, I believe that I have only seen 1 band more often than I’ve seen Terrorvision. I remember seeing them on the 2nd stage at the Monsters of Rock festival, Donington, in 1994. This was not long after seeing their video for ‘Oblivion’, and to be fair, they created a life-long fan, albeit one that drifted away in a similar manner to themselves.

I have stories that will remain untold, I own a signed drumstick and a personal live video recorded on my mobile phone and a small, unimpressive secret!

In short, I love Terrorvision!

Please welcome Retrospective #7, Terrorvision.

Album Retrospective – Terrorvision.

Terrorvision’s debut album, Formaldehyde, was released in May 1993.  Well, it was unless you are one of the lucky few to own the original ‘Total Vegas’ version that was released in late December 2002, but I don’t own that version so we shall move on.

I was late to Formaldehyde, having discovered the band on their sophomore album, but I quickly snaffled up this CD and immediately fell in love with the rough and ready charm of these Northern upstarts (Although I’m a proud Scotsman, I’d been living in the south of England for a few years – this allows me to use the term ‘Northern’ in a familiar sense).‘My House’ was apparently the first single to indicate the band’s class, but I must admit to it passing me by.  Fortunately, upon purchase of the album. I immediately identified with the track and have loved singing it along with the band on numerous occasions. Other tracks like, ‘American TV’ and, ‘Jason’ offer the merest glimpse of what the band were capable of. It was a very solid, if not spectacular, debut album that hinted at their potential. 7/10

This potential was immediately realised in their 2nd album, an album that is in my top 10 albums of all time, ‘How to Make Friends and Influence People’. Released in 1994, my first ever memories of Terrorvison are, once again, from the Monsters of Rock festival. I was utterly aware of Terrorvision, you couldn’t miss them. The single. ‘Obvilion’, was absolutely everywhere. Where bands such as The Almighty and Little Angels fought for airplay, Terrorvision released a, nothing-short-of-perfect, rock song that invaded the charts, with the video of the boy performing in the sea. Our Bradford-based Supermen had arrived.

It wasn’t just the one single though. Every single song on the album is a banger. ‘Alice, What’s the Matter is a sing-a-long live classic, utterly immense. Although not a single, ‘Discotheque Wreck’ should be the soundtrack to anyone who dances like myself. However, I can neither mash potato nor do the twist. Other fantastic tracks are ‘Pretend Best Friend’ and ‘Some People Say’. This is a perfect 90’s Britrock album, and I detest the name ‘Britrock’. 10/10

March 1996 saw the release of the band’s third album, ‘Regular Urban Survivors’, and my recollection at the time was how awesome it was. Four singles were released from the album, with ‘Perseverance’ doing particularly well in the charts. For weeks, all you heard was people singing, ‘whales and dolphins, whales and dolphins, yeah!’ I also got the chance to see them on tour around this time, still owning the gig t-shirt, with my best pal. Terrorvision were very high in my favourite bands list.  They were flying.

I was then absolutely staggered when I listened to the album as part of this retrospective. From being one of their best albums, in my mind, it became an ‘Ok’ album and the singles that were released from the album were actually the best songs, with the others not hitting the expected high levels at all. I can’t put my finger on the reasons for the downturn of ‘Regular Urban Survivors’, I even question if my view of the album in the 90’s was through rose tinted glasses.  7/10

What isn’t a surprise is that I still adore the 4th album, ‘Shaving Peaches’. Released in October 1998, I bought this immediately, even though I was a poor student at the time. The album features two of my favourite Terrorvision songs, namely ‘III Wishes’ and ‘Josephine’. Full of trademark humour these tracks start the album off with a BANG! Jump forward 21 years, at the Kelvingrove Bandstand, Glasgow, I was stood at the very front of the crowd at this amphitheatre style venue.  Singing away with unfettered abandon, taking too many photos, Tony Wright stepped down to the front of the stage and grabbed my camera, then proceed to film himself and the band singing the aforementioned, ‘Josephine’.  As a man in my mid 40’s, I was absolutely beside myself and it is one of my most treasured gig memories.  The actual day itself is my favourite gig going experience of all time…. more of that in a future retrospective perhaps….

Those who know Terrorvision, will know that something is missing from my memories of ‘Shaving Peaches’. This is on purpose, as I get really pissed off when I speak with people who say they have never heard of the band, only for them to know the song, ‘Tequila’. The ‘Mint Royale’ remix of the song sent the band into the stratosphere for a while. By far their biggest selling single, it is also one of my least favourite Terrorvision songs. For the record, ‘Tequila’ does not make me happy! It just gets me really drunk! However, there was one massive bonus that came about off the back of this song. Terrorvision were named as the band who were going to play at the Summer Ball at my University!

In 1999, I was in my final year at University. It was a strange time, happy to finish my degree, but having to move away from my friends in Leicester was upsetting. The Summer Ball was the big goodbye for us all, and the fact that one of my favourite bands of all time were the ‘house band’ was absolutely immense.  I cannot put my excitement in words.

The whole event was a drunken blur.  I met the band wandering about the site before the gig and got the chance to speak to them, essentially berating my friend Ian for having the temerity to ask one of the band, who he was! Angrily, I introduced Shutty to Ian, like he was an old pal, then introduced the rest of the guys. This was pre-mobile phone days, but I got a really cool picture with me, complete with my Tuxedo, and the band – alas this is missing, presumed forever.

The gig itself was brilliant, if not a little bit strange. For a start, we were all in formal dress, Tuxedo’s, Kilts and Ball Gowns were the norm. Also, it wasn’t a group of fans at a gig. It was a bunch of drunken students with a ‘house’ band. I was potentially the biggest fan there.  It was also rather easy to get to the front of the crowd, which I did!  I also worked with the Stewards at University, and so I knew them all. This allowed me to plonk my bottle of Red wine (I said we were drunken students) stage side of the barrier and then proceed to go mental during their set. It was brilliant.

After the gig, Shutty came down from the stage and threw a drum stick to me, only for some wee git to reach across my chest and grab it before I could!  I was raging, but not as raging as Shutty who glared at the drum stick grabber before proceeding to place the 2nd drumstick in may sweaty hands. I still have this drum stick and the fantastic memories of this once in a lifetime gig!

Should have had them both!

Rubbish secret time – I can admit to the band that I was in their tour bus, by myself, at this gig. I wish I could say that I did more than just sit in a seat, but I didn’t. I was too respectful and sometimes wish I had taken a poo in their toilet! 10/10

2001 saw the release of the 5th album, ‘Good to Go’ and, if truth be told, I was utterly underwhelmed by the lead single, ‘D’ya wanna go faster’. This actually set the tone for my enjoyment of the album, that is, I never really bought into the sound the band were trying to create. Yes, there are a few decent moments, but to me, ‘Good to Go’ sounds like a band who were, and I have no regrets in using this phrase, good to go.  Indeed, it was later that year that Terrorvision played their first ever ‘final concert’. Luckily, our Northern Supermen have never stuck to that statement. 6/10

Then…. in 2011, and seemingly from out of nowhere, an announcement came that there was to be a new album!  “Ya beauty”, I thought, “Have they still got the juice?” ‘Super Delux’ was released later that year, and I was slightly apprehensive about listening to it. Those who have read previous retrospectives will know that my musical taste moved into the more extreme side of metal, and Terrorvision may be many things, none of which could be called ‘extreme’. 

My fears were unfounded.  Whilst not ground-breaking, ‘Super Delux’ is like a big welcoming hug from an old friend. It is pure Terrorvision, meaning it makes you feel good when you listen to it and it is enjoyable. 7/10

Terrorvision are a band that have given me so much joy over the years. The fact we can still go and see them live every now and again is something that fans like myself appreciate more than the band will know. They are genuinely one of the best live bands I have ever had the joy of watching, with a set list spread across a mere 6 albums that other bands will never be able to match.


Album Ranking

  1. How to Make Friends and Influence People
  2. Shaving Peaches
  3. Regular Urban Survivors
  4. Super Delux
  5. Formaldehyde
  6. Good to Go
  • Find out more – Seek out their Live albums/DVD’s
  • Off the beaten track – Check out Laika Dog to see Tony Wright’s versatility.
Album Retrospective Uncategorized

Retrospective #6

System of a Down are an Armenian-American band that rose from the ashes of the band Soil in 1994. Over a 7-year period, they released 5 full length albums and are often discussed as being a nu-metal band, although I prefer to think of them as alternative metal.

In the mid ’90’s, I bought a copy of Kerrang! and included with the, then very good, magazine was a 2-track cassette by a band called System of a Down. Featuring the songs, ‘War’ and ‘Suite Pee’, I played it so much at University that my friend Mark would rip the piss out the former, shouting ‘We will fight the Heathens’ at the top of his voice. Mark used to also take his amp to the front door of our flat, turn it up to 11 and play a single power cord and then put everything back in his room. He was, and is, a cool dude, but I digress. Because of this cassette, I like to think of myself as an early adopter of SoaD and I quickly became a big fan, eager to lap up their new, original take on metal.

Jumping to the head of the queue due to a brief conversation with Gareth Endean (author of ‘Half a Ton of Heavy Metal’ – a great book, buy it on Amazon), Retrospective #6 is the excellent System of a Down.

Album Retrospective – System of a Down.

In 1998, soon after hearing the promo cassette of ‘War’ and ‘Suite Pee’, I eagerly snapped up the eponymous debut album by SoaD and was immediately blown away by the originality and sheer heaviness of the music. Serj Tankian’s vocals were immediate, especially in ‘Spiders’, one of the songs released as a single, with the other being ‘Sugar’. I tried to get everybody to listen to this album.  I couldn’t get enough of it, be it fighting the heathens, or storming poor June. Tankian may have written a vast majority of the lyrics, Daron Malakian gets a writing credit on ‘CUBErt’, but the band utterly shred on each track. Shavo Odadjian, the coolest looking of the band, and John Dalmayan have supreme control of the songs on bass and drums respectfully. As a result, there are no weak moments on this.  Listening to the album for the first time in a decade or so, I was immediately struck with how relevant it still sounded, despite the fact it was released last Century. It should be deemed a classic and is essential listening. 9/10

SoaD were then left with the supreme difficulty in trying to impress me with their 2nd album, Toxicity, released in 2001. Fresh out of university, with a job and some actual money to start building on my CD collection, I was absolutely beside myself when, on September 3rd, I was able to drive down to Our Price (gone but not forgotten record store) and pick up a shiny new copy. This excitement was peaked by my seeing for the first time at the 2001 Reading Festival a few days previous, I saw them for the final time in 2003 as well.

I was excited, but nervous.  How could it match up to what I deemed to be a classic?  Then ‘Prison Song’ starts and the relief sets in.  Toxicity is brilliant. With Malakian having far a bigger influence in the song writing, shared with Tankian, it seems to be a more balanced album, but for me it lacks the excitement and spontaneity of their debut. Somewhat controversial, it was released just before 9/11 and features lyrics including the words, ‘Self Righteous Suicide’ in ‘Chop Suey’, it didn’t hinder the sales. Indeed, ‘Chop Suey’ is one of the best songs on a very strong album. This is SoaD’s 2nd essential album. 8/10

The 3rd SoaD album was released late in 2002 and was called, ‘Steal This Album’. I remember at the time there was a small furore surrounding the name of the album.  Were they encouraging the thieving from music stores, illegal downloading or merely copying it from your friend?  In reality, it was none of these things. It was until recently that I found out that ‘Toxicity II’ was an actual thing, where tracks had been leaked onto the internet without the knowledge or consent of the band. SoaD then decided to record/rerecord, alter/change and probably ignore some of these tracks that then became the 3rd album proper.

In truth, this was not an immediate hit for me. I found, and still do find, the opening track, ‘Chic ‘N’ Stu’ intensely irritating. I can’t elucidate further, as I don’t know why it bugs me, I just hate the chorus. Yes, there are some grade A SoaD material, ‘A.D.D. (American Dream Denial)’ is superb. However, for every ‘Mr Jack’ – Excellent, there is an ‘I-E-A-I-A-I-O’ – not so excellent. It is an album that sounds like the band didn’t want to release. It is also an album that is also quite critical to the evolution of the band, a juxtaposition if ever there was one. 7/10

‘Mesmerize’ was the 4th album and it was released in May 2005 and it was noticeable that the dynamic in the band was different. No longer was Tankian the sole lead vocalist. Malakian was now sharing vocal duties, having moved on from the previous harmonising. With the best will in the world, Daron Malakian is not in the same league as Tankian as a vocalist.  I mean this as no slight, Serj Tankian is an outstanding singer that few other vocalists could match on a SoaD album.

The ultimate effect of this is that ‘Mesmerize’ is often disjointed, with the twin vocals struggling to intertwine. Songs like the thrashtastic, ‘Cigaro’ are almost ruined by Malakian advising that his ‘cock is much bigger than yours’. In saying this, the trademark lyrical themes are still in play, and the band stay true to their beliefs.  The fact is the album is just a little bit off.  7/10

A mere 6 months later, ‘Hypnotize’was the 5th and final album (so far) to be released by SoaD. Ostensibly recorded within the timeframe as its predecessor, it is essentially, if not part of a double album, a true companion piece for ‘Mesmerize’. Again, we have the dual vocal attack throughout a lot of the album, but it is when they main protagonists harmonise that the album hits its heights especially in 2nd track ‘Dreaming’ which has some wonderful moments.

Within the 2 releases, there is a truly outstanding album (think Use Your Illusion), but unfortunately these albums do contain filler, which is disappointing. We can speculate, perhaps, that the guys released these 2 albums because of the ‘Toxicity’/’Steal This Album’ debacle with unreleased and unfinished tracks being dumped online.  8/10

I must admit that, at the time, I really disliked the final 2 albums. I felt like the band had blown a huge opportunity to dominate an area of metal that had been vacated by RATM, a band delivering songs with political and social disparity messages. I was truly disappointed. It was this fact that led me to comment on Facebook posts by Gareth Endean in the Half Ton of Heavy Metal Facebook page. I essentially said these albums were pish, to which Gareth promptly and subtlety advised me I may be wrong. 

I had not listened to a System of a Down album for many many years, probably 15 years in the case of the last 3. I was presently surprised. I have missed SoaD and the later albums are far better than I have given them credit for. I have been very pleasantly surprised and this has been a very enjoyable retrospective for me.

Album Ranking

  1. System of a Down
  2. Toxicity
  3. Hypnotize
  4. Mesmerize
  5. Steal This Album
  6. Find out more – Check out Serj Tankian’s 2007 solo album, Elect the Dead
  7. Off the beaten track – check out the bands  2001/2003 Reading Festival sets on You Tube.

Type O Negative formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1989. Pioneers of the Gothic Metal genre, they released 7 albums up until Peter Steele’s untimely death in 2010.

Although I was aware of Type O Negative having seen the video for ‘Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All) on countless occasions, it was not until I saw them live at the Donington Monsters of Rock Festival in 1996 that the band forced themselves into my steadily growing CD collection.

My, rather sketchy, memories of that day included a genuine Man Mountain on stage with a chain as a guitar strap. Peter Steel was a huge man who utterly dominated the 2nd stage at the festival. With a mere 30 minutes on stage, Type O Negative boasted of playing a grand total of 3 songs. Their set was enough to win me over.

Peter Steele with Chain guitar strap

Joining Bassist/Lead Vocalist Peter Steel in the band were, Ken Hickey on guitars/backing vocals, Josh Silver on Keyboads and backing vocals and original drummer Sal Abruscato. Type O Negative benefited from having a relatively stable line-up throughout their history, with only a change in drummer, with Johnny Kelly beating the skins following Abruscato’s departure.

Retrospective #5 features the incomparable Type O Negative.

Album Retrospective – Type O Negative.

In 1991, rising from the ashes of Carnivore, Type O Negative formed and quickly released their debut album via Roadrunner Records. Slow Deep and Hard was the, not-so-subtle, title of the album and merely hinted at the sound the band would cultivate and make their own.

This album was, and still is, a strange listen for me, as I had heard some of their later albums before this. I wasn’t expecting the lack of a gothic sound. This album takes a number of metal elements and crushes them together to create a sound that, to be perfectly blunt, would not have encouraged me to purchase future albums. However, luckily, Type O Negative were a band who continually evolved with each album.  6/10

This evolution, however, wasn’t immediately apparent, as the follow up album was a ‘live’ album featuring renamed tracks from their debut as well as a few other additional releases. When I say Live, I mean it wasn’t. 1992’s The Origin of the Feces was a studio album with additional crowd noise added and is billed as being ‘Not Live at Brighton Beach’. As it is a studio album, it makes it onto the retrospective.

Again, I bought this album prior to hearing the debut which has led me to have a sense of love for the album that Slow Deep and Hard wasn’t able to capture. Songs such as ‘I Know You’re Fucking Someone Else’, although featuring on the debut with a different name, seem to fit The Origin of the Feces in a more natural manner. The genius of this album was the inclusion of, what was to become a Type O Negative trait, of cover versions. An outstanding cover of Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’ was accompanied by an alternative version of ‘Hey Joe’, entitled ‘Hey Peter’. Both covers are well worth your time. 7/10

By the summer of 1993, Type O Negative had finally managed to hit their stride, and it was their first truly gothic album, an album that defined a genre. Bloody Kisses is, without a shadow of doubt, a magnificent album. Featuring truly epic songs, including the aforementioned ‘Black No 1’ as well as ‘Set me on Fire’ and, perhaps my personal favourite, ‘Christian Woman’, it is not a short album. But it utterly envelopes you in its dark humour and I still, to this day, sing ‘Christian Woman’ in my head on a consistent basis, although Jesus Christ doesn’t really look like me at all.

Bloody Kisses was the first Type O Negative album I bought, and I utterly adore it. It contains my two favourite Type O songs and it has a special place in my heart. There is a reason why it became a platinum album and for many years I considered it to be a perfect album up until I saw them live for the first time at Donington Monsters of Rock in 1996. Needless to say, perfection was to be redefined. 9/10

3 days after blowing my mind at Donington 96, Type O Negative released October Rust, their first without original drummer Sal Abruscato . I bought this almost immediately. I had always considered their 3rd album to be perfection and this was the album to prove me wrong. I remember playing this constantly. Not long after, I went to University and this album was a constant on my very heavy metal Sony CD player. Again, the album demonstrates a dark humour in amongst the gothic metal overtones.

October Rust is one of the most consistent albums I have ever heard. There is absolutely zero weak songs, it is perfectly produced and it is, to my ears, pretty much flawless. I remember having one of my many drunken conversations with my best pal, Kenny, about this album, where I talked about how the best songs on Bloody Kisses were better than the tracks on October Rust, but the actual album was not as good as October Rust. Peter Steele and the boys had reached a high that, unfortunately, they would find impossible to hit again. 10/10

One of the biggest surprises in doing theses retrospectives is rediscovering albums that I had previously disregarded. 1999 saw the release of the bands darkest album to date, World Coming Down. Featuring tracks such as. ‘Everyone I love is Dead’, and, ‘Everything Dies’ you begin to get the state of mind the Peter Steele was in. At this time in my life, I had recently graduated from University and was wondering where life was going to take me.  So, when this album came out, I never really gave it the chance the band deserved. Yes, I still played the album, but I never really listened to it, never listened to the more ‘upbeat’ tracks, ‘All Hallows Eve’ or ‘Pyretta Blaze’.

What has happened since I listened to this album for the retrospective, is that I now understand the content. It has hit a home run with me and I regret not listening to this more than I did in the last 20 years. Instead of being a weaker album than the previous 2, it is actually every bit as strong an album as Bloody Kisses.  9/10

Almost 4 years then passed before the band released album No.6, Life is Killing Me. Unfortunately, my retrospective listen to this album did not change my thoughts about it. When I bought this in 2003, I immediately to a dislike to it. For every good track like ‘I don’t Wanne be Me’, there was a ‘I Like Goils’. To say I was disappointed is a massive understatement. Following on from my, now incorrect, opinion of the previous album, I felt that I had moved on from the band. If you have read my previous retrospectives, you will see that my music tastes were changing around this time and so, it was with very fond memories, that my heart said a fond goodbye to Type O Negative. 6/10

So, it is with a slight hint of disgust about myself that I must admit that I did not have a clue that Type O Negative released a 7th album until I started this retrospective. I had always assumed that they only had 6, this is how much I switched off to the band.

In 2007, their last album, this time with a new record label, SPV Steamhammer. Having listened to this for the first time after revisiting their previous 6 albums, I was eager to see if they could recapture lost glories, make me feel like man in his 20’s again. Alas, it was not to be.  A new record label did not mean a new start and Dead Again, is an album that make you feel the guys were going through the motions.  I was pretty disappointed, especially as there will never be a chance of a redeeming album. 5/10

On April 14th 2010, Peter Steele died. I remember being absolutely devastated at reading this news. Although latter day Type 0 Negative albums hadn’t hit home with me, their music was a massive part of my younger life.

Type O Negative were at the forefront of an entire genre, perhaps releasing the definitive Goth Metal album in Bloody Kisses. It is perhaps fitting that the remaining members of the band did not continue as Type O Negative as it leaves Peter Steele’s legacy intact.

Album Ranking

  1. October Rust
  2. Bloody Kisses
  3. World Coming Down
  4. Origin of the Feces
  5. Life is Killing Me
  6. Slow Deep and Hard
  7. Dead Again
  • Find out more – Check out  their 2007 set Live at Wacken on You Tube.
  • Off the beaten track – Check out the 10 Unforgettable Peter Steele Moments on You Tube, including his Jerry Springer appearance.
Album Retrospective

The Almighty were a Scottish band, forming back in 1988. Over a 12 year period, they released 7 studio albums, with line-up changes throughout their career. Only Ricky Warwick and Stumpy Munroe remained a constant throughout.

The Almighty’s importance to me and my journey through heavy metal can and should not be underestimated. In the late 80’s/early 90’s, I listened to the ‘Mega’ bands, such as Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Guns n’ Roses and Bon Jovi. The Almighty were the first ‘small’ band that hooked me. This wasn’t a band that played arenas or stadiums. This was a hard-working, hard-rocking band who built themselves a fan-base that still supports frontman, Ricky Warwick, to this day.

Being a fan of The Almighty has nearly gotten me into a fight, upset my wife and taught me that bigger name bands are not necessarily better bands.

Please welcome Retrospective #4, The Almighty.

Album Retrospective – The Almighty.

In 1989, Blood Fire and Love was released via Polydor records and it was a bit of a banger! Full to the brim of anthems, it was an introduction that bands dream of. From the opening track, ‘Resurrection Mutha’ it grabs you and doesn’t let go. Even when it slows things down, with the title track especially, it turns things up to 11 with other tracks.  To this day, I still sing ‘Full Force Loving Machine’ and ‘Wild and Wonderful’ in my head. In fact, I still own a ‘Wild and Wonderful’ t-shirt that is slightly worse for wear. My wife is disgusted that I have not thrown this out, but hey, ‘I’ve taken all that I can from the skies up above, don’t believe in God but I do believe in love…..’.

This t-shirt lost its sleeves in the mid 90s.

On a journey in a van from England to Scotland in 1991/92, I can’t quite remember, it was getting late in the evening and there was a rock show on a Scottish radio station. They were counting down a list of Scottish Rock/Metal bands and this was the first time I ever heard The Almighty. ‘Free n’ Easy’ was the song and it was taken from the, nothing short of superbsophomore album, Soul Destruction. I was hooked.  Immediately, unabashedly, complete and utterly.

Free n Easy

Again, Soul Destruction was a mixture of Hard Rock songs, with a smattering of slow songs, such as ‘Little Lost Sometimes’. Again, it is full of anthemic bangers, ‘Crucify’, ‘Devil’s Toy and the aforementioned, ‘Free n’ Easy’ are proper headnodders!  The Almighty were on their way. World domination beckoned….. then lead guitarist, Tantrum, was no longer in the band.

Tantrum was replaced by the, ‘star of Waynes World and Canadian Club Whiskey’, Pete Friesen. Friesen was Alice Cooper’s guitarist and so he had a bit of pedigree. I remember reading a Kerrang! interview with Ricky Warwick, where he waxed-lyrical about the technical know-how of Friesen with regards to guitar tuning. It was also around this time that I saw The Almighty for the very first time, at Donington Monsters of Rock 1992. My abiding memory of that day was that it was very wet, but it didn’t rain on The Almighty’s opening set.


The band premiered a new song from the upcoming new album, ‘Addiction’. I was blown away with how heavy it was, and how radical a change it was from songs on the previous 2 albums. Friesen obviously had an impact on the upcoming album and I was gutted to have to wait over 6 months, it wasn’t released until April 1993 to get my grubby little hands on it.  I bought it on cassette, and I still have it to this day. To my everlasting joy, my version of Powertrippin’ also has the ‘bonus’ Donington live set on there.

Powertrippin’ has a different sound to it, it still features the trademark ‘slower’ songs, but it came out at the beginning of the ‘Grunge’ era, and the sound of the album is more akin to that than the previous hard rock from before. It is all the better for it. This is an album that is well worth an hour or so of your time.

In 1994. The Almighty changed record labels, and again there was a slight evolution of their sound. I remember buying this on the Saturday of its release, putting the cassette in my car stereo, driving home and, as I ejected the cassette, it caught in the stereo and the tape snapped. I immediately turned on the engine, drove back to the shops and bought a 2nd copy.  It is worth it Crank is their 4th album and it is cracking. ‘Wrench’, ‘Jonestown Mind’ and ‘Crank and Deceit’ dominate a very good album. One of the funnier album reviews appeared in a UK newspaper, I forget which one, but it would appear the song, ‘Crank and Deceipt’ scared the reviewer a little, as he criticised the song as being, ‘expletive laden’ and gave it a very low review.  The Almighty were not made for pop music reviewers.

It was this album that nearly got me into a fight, or more specifically, my ‘Jonestown Mind’ t-shirt, complete with the lyrics, ‘You’re the Jesus that didn’t get nailed’ emblazoned on the back. In a bar in Leicester, I was wearing this t-shirt when I got a tap on the shoulder with an older Gentleman who proceeded to tell me how offensive he found my t-shirt and explain what would happen if I didn’t take it off…….. instead a debate ensued around the lyrical content of the song and we parted with no aggression.  Happy days!

In 1996, The Almighty released their 5th album, Just Add Life. Again, there was a slight evolution in their music, this time with Horns being added to some of the tracks.  In truth, it works more than expected. ‘All Sussed Out’ is a fine song, full of quotable lyrics (“You can’t fight the power, if you ain’t got the power to fight”). It is another strong album for the boys, but alas, it marked the end of phase one of the band.  Our intrepid heroes had attempted to break into the US Market earlier in their career, but to no avail, and, despite never having dropped the ball with the quality of music, they decided to call it a day and it was over.

All Sussed Out

Except it wasn’t. In 2000, the band reformed with Nick Parsons replacing Pete Friesen on guitar and the eponymous 6th album was released. I was genuinely excited when I read that a new album was coming out and immediately bought it on CD. I wouldn’t say that the album disappointed me, it has a handful of excellent tracks, ‘Broken Machine’ and ‘USAK 47’ totally hit the mark, closely followed by ‘White Anger Comedown’ and ‘I’m in Love (with Revenge), but for me, some of the old magic was gone. It didn’t have the same feel about it as the pre-split albums and it still has the feeling that The Almighty had lost their mojo.

The band then followed up with the 7th and, so far, final studio album in 2001, the quickest time between releases in the bands history. A new bassist was introduced, Gav Gray, replacing founder member, Floyd London. Psycho Narco was the name of the album and to this day, it remains the album I have listened to the least. Even on this retrospective, it is an album that just doesn’t excite me in the same way their earlier albums did. Perhaps this is because of my ever evolving musical taste, but perhaps it was because Ricky had outgrown the style of music that The Almighty had developed. It is no coincidence that his first proper solo album was an acoustic album. I may be guessing, but perhaps both Ricky and myself moved away from The Almighty at a similar time.

It was an absolute joy for me to listen to these albums again, for the first time in many years and it is somewhat disconcerting the sheer amount of lyrics I remembered and could sing along to. Below is my ranking of these albums and I would urge you to check them out if you can and let me know your thoughts.

Album Ranking

  1. Soul Destruction
  2. Crank
  3. Powertrippin’
  4. Blood Fire and Love
  5. Just Add Life
  6. The Almighty
  7. Psycho Narco
  • Find out more – Check out ‘Blood Fire and Live’, released prior to Soul Destruction
  • Off the beaten track – Track down a copy of (Sic) – Eyeball Kicks EP for Ricky Warwick’s early solo material after the split of the band in 1996
Album Retrospective

Slight Changes

As I continue to write the next entry into my album retrospective series, I have taken the decision to make a very slight change.

In the earlier retrospectives, I gave each album a mark out of 10. This isn’t a bad thing, giving the reader my perspective of a particular album. However, I think the narrative does this as well, making the ranking a touch superfluous.

The upcoming retrospective will not have a scored ranking for each album, instead I am going to list the albums in order of my preference. I hope that this will encourage others to listen to these albums to see if you agree with me, or more likely, not agree.