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Michael Pope RSS Feed (Clinton, MS United States)

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Sixteen Stone
Sixteen Stone
86 used & new from $0.01

1 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars You've Been Warned..., January 1, 2005
This review is from: Sixteen Stone (Audio CD)
In one phrase: NO TALENT.

In one review:
Bush, a polished British contribution to grunge, is extremely unoriginal and not very talented (notice on the album that singer/guitar player Gavin Rossdale can't sing and play guitar at the same time). The music of Bush's first release, Sixteen Stone, is extremely tired-sounding. There are absolutely no fast-tempo songs, and the guitars are the muddiest and messiest I've ever heard. There are very few guitar solos, and the ones that do exist are very elementary. I've been told by several people that Bush is a British knock-off of Nirvana, and I agree with them. Their sound is too close to Nirvana for comfort, and it smacks of musical plagiarism. Overall, the music of Sixteen Stone has the precision and prowess of a high school garage band.

The lyrics are the most embarassing aspect of the whole album. It appears that Gavin and crew tried to sound ambiguous-mysterious-sexy-sounds-like-a-jumble-of-words-but-on-purpose, and the attempt falls flat. I know that many grunge/alternative artists purposefully make their lyrics out to be very ambiguous, [...]

If there were choice cuts (which there aren't), I would choose the singles: "Comedown", Machinehead", and "Glycerine". The rest of the album is less than filler material - it sounds like songs that my brother's old ninth-grade band decided NOT to play at parties.

The best aspect of the album is the Gillian Spilchuk painting on the inside of the album. I wish I had a print of that to hang in my home.

Don't bother with Bush's later albums - nobody else did.

Wicked Underground
Wicked Underground
13 used & new from $5.08

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Nice Surprise..., June 20, 2004
This review is from: Wicked Underground (Audio CD)
Honestly, I didn't know what to expect when I bought this album. Of course, I wouldn't have been surprised if this combo sounded much like Dokken, but it didn't - at all. I truly cannot find much comparison between Dokken & Lynch/Pilson.
George Lynch (of Lynch Mob) & Jeff Pilson (one-time Dio bassist) have really created an interesting piece of work. It is obvious that "nu-metal" has had a bit of influence on this album, but it's really not a detriment in this case. Lynch's chops are still tight & clean on almost every track. Pilson's voice is in fine shape, showing some diversity & range. Also, the songwriting is quite good: interesting & intelligent lyrical subject with solid, organized arrangements. Overall, I would say the album is quite dark, with most of the songs in a minor key, some dissonance thrown in at the perfect time, and ominous-sounding titles like "When you Bleed", "The Evil that you Are", & "Goodbye Utopia". The CD packaging is an eyecatcher, too. I wish the song lyrics were printed, though.
My personal favorite cuts are opener "Breath & a Scream", the quasi-acoustic "Ever Higher", & the eerie "Awaken".
DO NOT buy this album expecting a Dokken minus Don; it is something totally different, and stands on its own as a solid contemporary metal album.

The Skull Beneath The Skin: Africa After The Cold War
The Skull Beneath The Skin: Africa After The Cold War
by Mark Huband
Edition: Paperback
Price: $44.77
52 used & new from $1.56

3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.....Zzzzzz.....Zzzzzz, June 5, 2004
Two disclaimers:
1. I love modern Sub-Saharan African history.
2. I hate it when journalists write history books.
The problem is that the only people really willing to write about modern African history are European journalists, who I have discovered have a not-too-veiled goal of bashing the Post-Cold War American government. The Skull Beneath the Skin was a disappointment for me primarily because Huband (a Brit) tirelessly over-criticized American policy in Africa during and after the Cold War, without taking into account that Great Britain colonized and raped more of Africa in the 1800's (Sudan, South Africa) than the US. Another distractor for me was that the chapters in the book weren't very coherent. For example, Huband started with Mobutu's kleptocracy in Zaire, and then moved to other areas like Liberia and Angola; then he returned to Mobutu's Zaire a few chapters later. Also, Huband's English teacher would be quite miffed: On more than one occasion, Huband constructed an entire paragraph out of one sentence. Look, even if it was gramatically correct, it still doesn't mean you should do it - have some consideration for your reader...I also noted that some of his sources that he qoutes have no names (hum...).
One good quality was the account of Rwanda. Not only is it a harrowing account of the blood-drenched countryside, but he also deals the UN a stinging blow right across the face for its inaction during the 1994 genocide.
Overall, the book is a nice, dry bore. Berkely's "The Graves Are Not Yet Full" or Gourevitch's "We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families" are MUCH better. The Skull Beneath the Skin is a book that you begin to read at night in bed and you can't finish the chapter...Zzzzzz

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best of Gabriel-Era Genesis, February 13, 2004
This review is from: Foxtrot (Audio CD)
Though The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is hailed as the prog-era Genesis zenith, I assert an alternative: Foxtrot. After a shaky start with their debut album Trespass, and a more solid follow-up, Nursery Cryme, Genesis's third effort was (for me) their best. For any time or era, the music on Foxtrot is engaging, original, intelligent, and (suprising for progressive rock) even catchy.
The infectious rhythm of Phil Collins and Michael Rutherford is apparent on most of the tracks. Occasionally they play with odd time signatures and tricky syncopation. On this album it's also apparent that Steve Hackett is still working towards becoming one of the more original guitarists in rock. Thankfully, Gabriel's lyrics are not as cryptic as his usual mindbenders. He also employs different characters throughout the album by cleverly changing the accents, pitch, and inflections of his voice and speech. Tony Banks shines on a number of piano parts and also masters that all-important instrument of '70's prog-rock: the mellotron. For an album produced in 1971-72, the sound quality is remarkably good, thanks to David Hitchcock. If you purchase the album, make sure it is the "Definitive Edition Remaster" (1994). The sound is touched up, and appears to be more clean.
My choice cuts are the opener "Watcher of the Skies", "Can-Utility and the Coastliners", and the 23-minute epic "Supper's Ready". For those of you who don't have the patience for traditional progressive rock: I promise you, "Supper's Ready" will hold your attention if you give it an honest chance.
Early Genesis fans won't regret this purchase. In addition, it's a must own for any prog fan.

Appetite For Destruction
Appetite For Destruction
Price: $9.99
231 used & new from $1.21

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Best GNR Had To Offer, February 11, 2004
I am not a die hard GNR fan. From what I've read & seen, I don't even like the members of GNR. But I will readily admit that their debut album Appetite for Destruction is one of the best hard rock albums of the 1980's. I bought it on cassette a few weeks after its original release ('87) and wore out the tape within months.
For most of the 1980's, hard rock/pop metal albums were what I call "sinlge albums". You remember, the MTV/radio singles were the first two songs on the album (the usual formula was a rocker opener and a ballad) and the rest of the material was a forgettable waste of time ("filler"). It got so bad that I usually just bought the silly little cassette singles packaged in those cheap cardboard sleeves rather than waste $9.99 on a whole tape.
Not so with Appetite. This is a hard rock masterpiece. This album is definitely greater than the sum of its parts ("parts" being the band members). Virtually EVERY song on this record is at least good and many are great. The singles "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City", & "Sweet Child O' Mine" are of course very listenable. "It's So Easy" & "Mr. Brownstone" are a couple of overlooked gems, too. "You're Crazy" & "Rocket Queen" are also some definite non-fillers. With the exception of "Sweet Child", there are no really slow moments on this album. Mike Clink's production is pretty clean and clear, too. Yes, the lyrics are quite shallow, and the music is usually predictable, but they rock (and in the 80's that's what really mattered). Compared to the barren dross churned out by other contemporaries, Appetite is literally a GIANT among pygmies.
The album cover is a cross adorned with the skulls of the band members imposed over a simple black background. It is one of the most classic, well-known images of hard rock, regardless of era or age.
Unfortunately, GNR went the way of the dodo bird after Appetite, and none of their follow-ups could match their debut. Lies, Lies, Lies was really an effort of EP stature (but then again I don't really like live stuff). The Use Your Illusions I & II were downright terrible, with really hoaky attempts at folk rock (fail) and more serious lyrics (fail). And please, for the love of all that is holy, good, decent and right, DO NOT buy the Spaghetti Incident. Stay away from it. Don't touch it. Don't even look at it. I assume the band members got together before recording it and said "Alright, how can we end our careers?". A copy was given to me by a "friend", and I pawned it two days later.
GNR fan or not, one would not be disappointed with Appetite. It should belong in the collection of anyone who likes just a good, solid, hard rock album.

Mob Rules
Mob Rules
Offered by Robert's Island Outpost
Price: $19.80
51 used & new from $2.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than "Heaven & Hell", January 18, 2004
This review is from: Mob Rules (Audio CD)
I know what they're going to say: "There's no way 'Mob Rules' is better than 'Heaven & Hell'". Let me explain.
Simply put, "Mob Rules" is a harder, more edgy effort than "Heaven & Hell". The album opens with a fast, churning rocker, "Turn up the Night". We then move into a more "typical" Sabbath sound with the bluesy "Voodoo". The third piece is one of the best on the album: "The Sign of the Southern Cross". It's an epic worthy of a Black Sabbath Greatest Hits album. It also shows Dio's voice as we'll never hear it again on any other effort - Soft, serene, soothing (only to be shattered by a strategically placed power chord to introduce the rest of the band). E5150 is, well, dumb - and the low point of the album. I'm not sure what Sabbath was toying with here, but I do know that "5150" is the American Police Code for the criminally insane. The title track is the hardest song on the album, and another one of my faves. Also a contribution to the soundtrack for 1981's "Heavy Metal: The Movie", "The Mob Rules" makes you want to really stand up and shout (no pun intended). I call the next two songs, "Country Girl" & "Slipping Away", twin songs for obvious reasons. Though many fans overlook these two, I really like the blues-metal, foot-stomping "Slipping Away". It comes complete with guitar rests to show off Vinny Appice's drumming, & an echo effect on Dio's vocals for some added attitude. This song also shows a glimpse of some chops from Geezer Butler & Tony Iommi. I don't think the album ends well with the last two cuts, "Falling Off the Edge of the World" & "Over and Over". These last two songs sound much like an afterthought, and as a result, they are rather forgettable.
The album cover is one of the best "traditional" heavy metal covers I've seen, whose hooded figures look like inner city dregs stalking thier next victim. Martin Birch's production is clean and crisp, especially for the 1980's.
On the downside, E5150 is a waste of time & the last two cuts are weak. I wish the CD had photos and lyrics...
After listening to this album, (I know this may be blasphemy to some) I think Dio-era Sabbath is better than the traditional line-up with Ozzy. Either way, the album is a must have for any fans of the "Golden Age" of traditional heavy metal.

Man Who Sold the World
Man Who Sold the World
Price: $8.99
89 used & new from $2.75

32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark, Brooding, & Heavy, January 17, 2004
This review is from: Man Who Sold the World (Audio CD)
I've heard this album was Bowie's attempt at heavy metal. I'm not sure I agree, but the album is definitely one of his heaviest efforts. This is Bowie's second studio album, & it is strikingly different from his folk-oriented "Space Oddity". Bowie excellently employs legendary glam-rock guitarist Mick Ronson for a blusier, heavier, more distrotion-driven guitar sound.
"The Man Who Sold the World" (TMWSTW) couldn't have opened with a better piece than "The Width of a Circle". It's a long, segmented song with a variety of tempo changes and it also moves the listener through a plethora of moods. "All the Madmen" is a song about, well, madmen. The eerie wooden whistles add a nice touch of lunacy to the song. "Running Gun Blues" is an all-out rocker about a war vet who comes home & embarks on a shooting spree not unlike the DC sniper incident. "She Shook Me Cold" is a dark, bluesy ditty with obvious lyrics describing a sexual encounter. My favorite song on the album is the conclusion, "The Supermen". It's a lofty, echoing piece about an apparent race of superhumans that existed before time...It reminds me of short stories from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. The timpani and octave-leaping moans in the background give the song a weird, other-worldly feel.
The album cover for TMWSTW is characteristically Bowie, with him sporting a tight fitting, Victorian-era silk dress. He is holding playing cards while reclining on a sofa. It's a feminine image giving off a sense of subtle danger.
A drawback to TMWSTW is the sometimes muddy production of the album, thanks to Tony Visconti (maybe he's a bass player first, then a producer...). There are also a few songs like "After All" & "Saviour Machine" that I consider rather weak & forgettable.
Overall, if you want a change from Bowie's (*powder-puff*) 80's & 90's material, this is an album to invest in.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2015 1:21 PM PDT

14 used & new from $26.78

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Very Bland, January 4, 2004
This review is from: Conspiracy (Audio CD)
I like Squire's work. I like Sherwood's work. I don't like their collaberation. One word describes this extremely mediocre effort: BLAND. It's like chewing gum that's lost its flavor. It's like the stench of milk right before it goes bad. I don't even use this album for "filler" music when I entertain friends. It sounds much like both Sherwood & Squire were really tired during their recording sessions.
Almost every song is dull, mid-tempo mod rock. Squire's bass is completely inaudible. Sherwood's guitar work is stale and hollow sounding. The keyboards sound a little corny and I think they are overused at times. For you hardcore Yes/prog fans, there is NO technically challenging or thought provoking music on here. It lacks creativity and innovation.
The worst part about these songs is that after you listen to any of them, you immediately forget their melodies. They are almost all forgettable. I've listened to this album straight through at least four times, and I can't hum a single line from any song.
There is a single redeemable song on this album: "Violet Purple Rose". It drips with challenging but catchy melodies and the harmonies shared between Sherwood and Squire are real ear candy. It's also the only upbeat tempo piece on the entire album. If every song had the same qualities as "Violet Purple Rose", this album would be an excellent listen. As it is, this album is even worse than Yes's 90's pop work, of which I'm a fan.
Be warned, even if you are a Yes fan...
Last point: I borrowed Squire and Sherwood's second album, "The Unknown", from a friend and it is amazing. I will be picking that one up soon. A complete about-face from this drudgery.

Blessing in Disguise
Blessing in Disguise
Price: $13.27
49 used & new from $4.39

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Sample of Heavy Metal, December 31, 2003
This review is from: Blessing in Disguise (Audio CD)
I first bought the cassette of Metal Church's "Blessing in Disguise" in 1990 when I was in Jr. High. A neigborhood bully beat me up & stole it. Just last month, I bought the album again on CD & I am still amazed at its timelessness. From the first to last song, "Blessing in Disguise" is a great sample of what heavy metal should be. In my personal collection of over 400 metal/rock CD's, I rank it as a standard by which to judge others.
The lyrical content is still serious like Metal Church's previous efforts, but it's a little more realistic (no more "Merciless Onslaught", "Gods of Wrath", or "Battallions"). Songs center mostly around social and historical issues like "Fake Healer", "Rest in Pieces (April 15, 1912)", and "Anthem to the Estranged".
Also, Mike Howe more than adequately replaces David Wayne. As a matter of fact, I prefer Howe's melodic touches to Wayne's abraisive Accept-like screeches.
I love the arena-like sound that Terry Date gave the album (similar to Bob Rock's work on The Cult's "Sonic Temple"). One can hear its effects in the echoes of Howe's voice and Kirk Arington's doom-booming drums.
My favorite tracks are "Rest in Pieces", "Badlands", the instrumental "It's a Secret", & the closer "The Powers that Be" - a really positive ending to the album.
The only real drawback is that the album cover is a bit bland and unoriginal, but in this case, definitely don't judge an album by its cover.
This is a "must-have" for any serious metal collector.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 23, 2013 12:23 PM PDT

We've Come for You All
We've Come for You All
12 used & new from $10.63

4 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Way Overrated, December 31, 2003
This review is from: We've Come for You All (Audio CD)
I have never been a big fan of Bush-era Anthrax, & this album, for me, is one of Anthrax's worst.
First, the basics. Musically, the album is better than average. Scott Ian still shreds and Charlie Benante keeps a steady beat, both men with pinpoint accuracy. John Bush: Go back to Armored Saint. I don't know who was responsible for the lyrics, but, simply put, they are terrible. They are some of the weakest I've heard in a long time. Maybe Anthrax was too busy trying to say (repeatedly, ad nauseum,) "There is no God". What happened to the lyrics comparable to that of "State of Euphoria" & "Time"? If you take a look at the liner notes, it appears that the music wasn't even recorded all at once in the same studio. "Safe Home" sounds suspiciously like a grab at a pop metal single. Was this the intended hook by which Anthrax was willing to snare unsuspecting buyers?
And what's with the silly, 80's-pseudo-satanic pentagram pun on the "A" of the word Anthrax (hello, King Diamond...)? That was cool in 1982 when I was still trying to tick my parents off. And why feature Roger Daltrey & Dimebag Darrell on the songs if the listener can't hear either of them?
On a better note, at least this isn't more nu-metal. Anthrax has, for better or worse, put together some good thrash metal music reminiscent of 1985 - 1991. These are also some great songs to hear live, I'm sure. The cover art is pretty interesting, too. Also, the enhanced CD has some really good live footage of a show in Europe.
If you're a serious Anthrax fan, buy the album. If you're anything else, don't.

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