Roadrunner United - The All-Star Sessions (Roadrunner)
Musicians seem to love playing away from home, and no we don't mean Gene Simmons having slept with every woman on the planet. Spin-offs, side projects and supergroups, not to mention the guest appearance keep the creative juices flowing and allow for all kinds of bad behaviour (or shit records) outside the familial home. So kudos to the folks at Roadrunnner records for breathing new life into the formula to celebrate their 25th anniversary as metal's premiere merchants to the masses.
So here's the deal. Four Team Captains have been drawn from the Roadrunner roster, written a set of songs, been given a group of musicians to record with and a different vocalist for each track. So that's 57 artists from 45 bands on the Roadrunner roster past and present. None of the teams were allowed to cross over and each Captain was given the freedom to record wherever and with whichever producer they wanted. The result, Roadrunner United's All-Star Sessions. Now if there's even an ounce of metal in you and that's not enough to send you running to your nearest record emporium then here's the rest.
Joey Jordison (Slipknot), Dino Cazares (ex Fear Factory), Rob Flynn (Machine Head) and Matt Heafy (Trivium) make up the team captains. Vocal duties are provided by headbangers old and new; from King Diamond and Glen Benton (Deicide) through mainstays like Max Calvalera (Soulfly) and Corey Taylor (Slipknot) to Heavey himself bringing up the new blood. There's way too much to go into detail here but needless to say this covers pretty much all the bases. From the relatively traditional heavy riffology of Blood & Flames through to the primal roar of Annihilation By The Hands Of God and the fun punk of ex Misfits man Michael Graves's I Don't Want To Be (A Superhero) there's a little something for everyone with a crick in their neck, although we're going to single out the Slipknot heavy Rich Man as the album's highlight. Eerie scratched strings echo over a slow drum beat before exploding into thundering riffs as Corey Taylor screams the bitterness of a disillusioned US soldier in Iraq: Die in the desert for a rich man. The track ends with him screaming Why over and over. Awesome.
For what could have been a bloody mess it's a grand example of devotion above and beyond the cause of duty, and the Londonist Album of the Week. It's a damn fine snap-shot of the heavier end of the musical spectrum for those seeking a little extra shred with their rock and can be heard here. Roadrunner, many happy returns. See you at 50. (MM)
Paul Weller - As Is Now (V2)
When Paul Weller sang "I’m the changing man" in 1995 he was, perhaps, taking the mick. Let's face it, in just under three decades in the business, he hasn't exactly been a musical chameleon. He's got nothing on Madonna, that's for sure. When he has embraced change, his tendency to act upon instinct has led to some pretty whimsical 'reinventions'. Lest we forget, in 1990, Polydor actually refused to release The Style Council's final self-indulgent acid jazz/underground house album. It was a bad year for the Modfather; he’s been looking to patch over it ever since.
So then: another year, another record. This is Weller's eighth solo studio album, and his fifth full-length release this decade. However inexhaustible his ability to churn out songs, he really ought to concentrate on quality, not quantity, because As Is Now is a real mess.
On the strength of decent singles From The Floorboards Up and Come On/Let's Go, it's being billed as his attempt to teach the kids a thing or two about rockin'. This isn't even half of the picture. Granted, he can strip it down and turn it up like the best of them, but when he spits "sing you little fuckers, sing like you've got no choice", he comes across like an embarrassing dad. When the trombone kicks in on Here's The Good News, the words 'Jools' and 'Holland' drift slowly into focus and it's downhill all the way.
On Pan, Weller attempts an operatic prog-piano tribute to a Greek demigod, and promptly makes an arse out of himself. If there's a more cringeworthy lyric than "he is not the god of creation, but he is the lord of the morning light" recorded this year, Londonist would love to hear it. Sadly, it doesn't end there. In seven overblown minutes, Bring Back The Funk (Pts 1&2) manages to kill off all hope of the Modfather aging gracefully.
Elsewhere, he explores acoustic trad-folk (All On A Misty Morning) and sax-inflected jazz (Roll Along Summer). Neither works particularly well, but it's not surprising when he's still backed by members of Ocean Colour Scene, the same band he's had since 1993's Wild Wood. While every track here contains just enough soul to be recognisably Weller, As Is Now is blighted by a crisis of identity. Maybe it's time for The Jam to reform. (RB)
tATu – Dangerous & Moving (Polydor)
tATu? Back? With a 2nd album? Well, we certainly didn't see that coming. After becoming music's favourite kissing ladies back in 2003 with All the Things She Said and Not Gonna Get Us, things began to turn sour when it became clear that the whole lesbian life partners story had been a big fat lie. Not only that, but one of them was pregnant and they were telling everyone who would listen about what a manipulative pervert their manager was. Their ill fated Eurovision appearance didn't help either.
tATu swifly faded into obscurity becoming but a pleasant memory in the minds of many. But now Dangerous & Moving brings them back with a bang. Epic first single All About Us pounds its way through 3 minutes of passion, and well, if you haven't seen the video, go find it. Hunt out the uncut version and prepare to jawdrop about half way through - you thought they were shocking first time round…
Watch the (probably censored) video for All About Us here