Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 24

Our Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 24 starts off with a special review on three masters of their instruments and a music magic making moment where skill sets and improvisation met in very progressive jazz session that is finally available to the public thanks to Bardo Records. We then go down a “Road” with a legendary rocker who truly exemplifies the genre and the absolute blast it can be from age to age when surrounded by trustworthy, tight musicianship. Then we leave the standard rock road to take an alternative, industrial, EDM-ish unmarked speed limit highway with a heavy seven year itch that had to be scratched. No scratch that! Heavily gouged! There, are you ready! Of course you are! It’s Album Review Saturdays!

Jonas HellborgThe Concert of Europe

Don’t be mistake that this is live concert, first of all. This is a studio session that puts three genius musicians in the same room for multiple days in the mid 1980s under the engineering of Tim Hunt, who’ engineering credits have Brian Eno, The Hollies, Fastway, Alvin Lee, and one of the greatest bass players of all time, and good friend, Jonas Hellborg.  So, who are the other two legends in the room? Keyboardist and overall maestro of jazz syntha-sonicisms (not a word — it should be), Bernie Worrell! Boom! How about, Ginger Baker on drums! Boom-Boom! Wish you were a fly on the wall, right?  Well, this recording will be as close as you can get, so buckle up!

There’s no question that Bernie Worrell (some credits of his collaborations to put in perspective, Talking Heads, Praxis, George Clinton, Les Claypool) and his keyboard sets that tones when your ears first grapple with this recording. You get the master impression immediately from the sinister tickling intro of ‘Moon Suite Part 1’ as that tuning up mood and modest pace lets you in. Organ with some grinding, Ginger laying a drum pattern march, and Jonas gradually phat’ing up with bass lines and one-of-a-kind sounds from the bass trickery, and then we’re off when Part 2 flows right in. The record’s pace seems to move upward at each track. The improv moments interwoven between the shifting modulations from Bernie, the feeling it thumbing and plucking cleverness of Jonas, and Ginger’s holding the line drumming and tempering his slight movements and shifts, (pay attention here, as there’s a reason he’s holding it all so wickedly well) enjoying every moment and flow from his chair. It’s just pure magic each listen.

There are moments in the recording that are very progressive, like in part three of the Moon Suite, which have multiple genres being tickled (I hear a little western in bass and drum line). But it is definitely a little darker, moodier, and leading to something when the strings of bass seem to linger longer and the keyboard pops and synth layers to the background. Again, wow! Bass playing from Jonas as beyond bass is evident in ‘Zakir’ and the two wise men listening and watching this beautifully accompany what he’s laying down, which is basically the softer moment of the album. From here is an all out sound hunt, crescendo to crescendo to improvisation feast for the ears from all instruments to the end! Remember, how I said pay attention to the way Ginger was holding back, well he’s now adjusted his chair and really starts to further the pace and become assertive with his band mates (he’s full limb tilt on ‘Tim Hunt’)!

Jazz enthusiasts with love for progressive keyboards and a tight trio that leaves the guitar out (although with Jonas at the helm you’re getting that trickery feeling sometimes of one being in the room). While this is the past in recording, it certainly has timeless elements of musicianship that entangle its relevance into today’s music as well as that which came before it (yes, that’s a piece of ‘London Bridges’ improved in ‘African Genesis’). If you don’t know Jonas Hellborg, bassist extraordinaire, I do highly suggest a rabbit hole of his works, as they are all unique and mind-blowing in their own right. Ginger Baker is probably one of the best drummers of all time, and that rabbit hole includes Cream, Blind Faith, Atomic Rooster, Hawkwind, and more. Consider this Concert of Europe a moment in time cultivated and captured for the enjoyment and education of the ears of progressive jazz lovers all over the world.

The Band

The Concert of Europe Tracklisting

  1. Moon Suite Part 1
  2. Moon Suite Part 2
  3. Moon Suite Part 3
  4. Zakir
  5. African Genesis
  6. Ashhark
  7. Tim Hunt





Alice CooperRoad

You’re never too old to rock, if you want to rock, and you let all hang out! Alice Cooper has been a modest staple in the rock-n-roll, hard rock community. Well respected, and there was no question, when we saw the release, that he knows not to tarnish that reputation. Without that reputation, he wouldn’t be surrounded by the great musicians he has had throughout his long rocker career. Road, is another solid recording done to please the community of fans, loyalists, and rock-n-roll lovers that are infatuated by the camp-and-circumstance of the clever Cooper. We’re in this community of drinkers of the juice as well. Not always, but most of the time.

Road is exactly as it should sound, catchy – catchy – catchy…hook, hooky, hookiest, and maybe even better than that. The Alice Cooper vocals we’ve known throughout the years love the strain, the tinkerings of an alter-vocal-ego(s), and of course the false drama in melody and harmony, which is the “roll” in their hard rock. We’ve probably got some auto-tuning going on, which is completely understandable given this the 29th studio album (is that even remotely possible), but the delivery is on spot, the production is perfectly in alignment, and the song flow is genuinely in tune from start to finish. What we do have here that’s a bit more is Tom Morello in the alternatively dynamic ‘White Line Frankenstein’ and the return of Kane Roberts, who was with Alice Cooper from 1985-1988. However, when the solos shine brightest — guess who, Nita Strauss! No, she’s not dreaming up something you haven’t heard before, but she’s nailing down common riff with a little upstage and whole lotta lovin’ to the flow of each track – even above Morello (wink).

There are going to be people that are going to say, “This is so — terrible — stupid — low-brow.” Perhaps ‘Big Boots’ falls into the reasoning, but — duh! So is; Seinfeld, Friends, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dumb and Dumber(er) and look where those are in the memory banks of we highly evolved humans. But, surrounded by wild acting (in this case Cooper’s lyrics) and setting and timing (that’s the goodness of the band), it becomes catchy, striking a ridiculous chord within us, even those of us that want to shake it off or dismiss it. Alice Cooper is a rock gem of catchy camp-driven chords and lyrical liners that keep you coming back for more. It’s a fun Road. The ring leader and his really good bandmates put on a worthy show, sealing it up with an incredibly quick rock-ballad-like operetic-banger in a Tom Wait-like delivery (‘100 Miles’). Then they come back out from under the tent to end it all with cover of ‘Magic Bus’ just to let you know, it’s okay to be cool, steady and into your old school rock-n-roll. Nice! If you consider yourself a highly evolved music officianto (good luck there), then maybe this is not the album for you to be checking out. But, I still have hope you can join us in the commoner’s car, throwing out your ‘Rules’ so you can join us on the real music-multiverse ‘Road.’

The Band

  • Alice Cooper – Vocals
  • Ryan Roxie – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
  • Nita Strauss – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
  • Tommy Henriksen – electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano, additional bass, percussion, backing vocals), “Party Animal” (track 8)
  • Chuck Garric – bass, backing vocals
  • Glen Sobel – drums
  • Bob Ezrin – backing vocals, acoustic guitar, horn synth

Guests/Additional Musicians

Kane Roberts – guitar (track 4)
Tom Morello – guitar (track 6), backing vocals (track 6)
Burleigh Johnson – piano (track 10)
Keith Miller – acoustic guitar (track 11)
Roger Glover – bass (track 11)
Sheryl Cooper – backing vocals (track 8 )

Road Tracklisting

  1. I’m Alice
  2. Welcome To The Show
  3. All Over The World
  4. Dead Don’t Dance
  5. Go Away
  6. White Line Frankenstein
  7. Big Boots
  8. Rules Of The Road
  9. The Big Goodbye
  10. Road Rats Forever
  11. Baby Please Don’t Go
  12. 100 More Miles
  13. Magic Bus



FilterThe Algorithm

It’s been seven years since we’ve heard the iconic scream and industrial alternative rock of Richard Patrick, Filter. The world’s gone to a fresh new hell during that hiatus, so there’s plenty to write, scream and rage about, so is that what we got here on the perfectly titled, The Algorithm? Of course it is! While the age of the screamer is showing in the vocal arena, he’s still a force to be reckoned with in production and industrialized music. The album is a hint more relentless than those that have come before, as there is little break in the heaviness to both the lyrics, tone and unabashed bashing of sounds, including the addition of EDM and drops, which have been present in the prior record, if I recall correctly. More under heavier use here.

This record has hints of the past in sound, but there is no doubt that Mr. Patrick, as usual, is utilizing a host of genre influences that mesh and thrash about in his own diabolical algorithm of album making. We’re just one small step from Obliteration, is a prime example of the familiarity, but also of the demanding requirement your ears must endure to embrace everything on the instrumentation table, whether they are the actual instruments or a purposefully designed, tormented computerization. Love that. The sonic explosion of nearly every single song on the record is layered and thrusted upon us, while you remember the title, understanding that maybe the underlying thrust upon us — is really the modern algorithm itself, perpetrating a silent whammy every single second we’re participating in the social media, review, likes and comments of our computer controlled environment. Wait, isn’t that at the heart of how unique Filter’s sound is?! They balance the heavy, the sonic, the tempo and the catchiness. It’s their formula, well it’s Richard Patrick’s formula. Oh, no, I’ve created a paradox that’s worthy of a Cloverfield movie. There are two moments on this record that don’t fit this paradox. ‘Summer Child’ and ‘Threshing Floor’ which are more of a hard guitar rocker with catchy riff and no trickery – just a band and raw vocalist delivering unabashedly. This also comes around again, as all Filter fans know, there’s always a lighter delivered song or two (in this case two, and they are at the very end). Or is that another paradox? Re-paradox? Oh stop! Like, comment quick — before they change our environment!

Filter fans, it’s everything you wished for (no reason to be careful). It’s Short Bus in places and a brand new modern runaway train in others. It’s Nine Inch Nails on some very cool steroids with a dash of Skrillex, and shit-load of extremely well done guitar work. There are plenty of themes in the album’s lyrics, heavy and contemplative, which is always the best part of a Filter record in my opinion. For people looking to join The Algorithm, tread lightly. I promise it will grow on you past the catchy backing tracks and industrial grooves. Let the paradox in your ear continue.

The Band

  • Richard Patrick – Vocals, Programming, Keyboards
  • Jonathan Radtke – Guitars, Backing vocals
  • Bobby Miller – Bass, Backing vocals
  • Elias Mallin – Drums
  • Zach Munowitz – Guitar on “For the Beaten”, “Up Against the Wall”, and “Say It Again”

The Algorithm Tracklisting

  1. The Drowning
  2. Up Against the Wall
  3. For the Beaten
  4. Obliteration
  5. Say It Again
  6. Face Down
  7. Summer Child
  8. Threshing Floor
  9. Be Careful What You Wish For
  10. Burn Out the Sun
  11. Command Z
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