Tag Archives: al pitrelli

“Return To Wacken” by Savatage

Artist: Savatage
Title: “Return To Wacken”
Label: Ear Music
Release Date: 6/30/2015
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4/5

It’s been far too long since the Metal world has had new music from the great Savatage and their last recorded work together was on “Poets and Madmen” which hit us hard back in 2001 care of Nuclear Blast Records. Since that time, Savatage has been on a bit of a lengthy hiatus while numerous members focused their creative energies on the holiday touring juggernaut known as the Trans-Siberian Orchestra while others continued on into projects of their own. Now in celebration of the bands return to the live stage for the Wacken Open Air Festival, a rather sound compilation of some of the bands classics has been issued and for the foreseeable future this is as close to “new” as we shall get from the legendary band. My notes on the release come from my relatively long association with their material (since 1988 if memory serves me correctly) and a deep knowledge of their back catalog. I didn’t have a copy of my own and was listening to a digital stream of it online. As a collection, this serves up well as a grouping of very necessary tracks for the listeners who might not be all that up on the bands historic game. Let’s consider this to be “Savatage Primer” since its all expected numbers as opposed to any sort of deep tracks. Perhaps if this was a double CD edition but alas this is only a single disc.
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“Michael Bolton” by Michael Bolton

Artist: Michael Bolton
Title: “Michael Bolton”
Label: Sony Music
Release Date: 10/25/1990
Genre: Melodic Rock
Rating: 3.75/5

You might be thinking that I’ve lost my wits as you glance upon a review of a legacy piece by crooner Michael Bolton on a Metal and Hard Rock reviews website, but believe me there is a sound reasoning for my opting to do so. The self titled recording “Michael Bolton” is historic for a number of reasons, even though the original 1983 release that hit the shelves was the singer’s third actual solo album. The first piece of historical note was that this was the singer’s first usage of his stage name on a recorded work and the second was based on his music actually being a very melodic and catchy Hard Rock as opposed to what he eventually became known for. The album open’s up with “Fool’s Game” which is a pumping track for its time period and has a great “big” chorus that finds you singing along at the first listen. The tune was actually covered by the German artist Axel Rudi Pell a couple of years ago and this was part of the reasoning for my digging the album out of my musical archives. I always liked the basic groove of the opening track and the anthem-like “She Did The Same Thing” which seems to find a pair of guys comparing negative notes on a recent love. “Hometown Hero” is a solid number and could have worked on the conventional radio of the time period and it even had a great guitar solo. I’m not sure which guitar players did exactly what tunes on the release but the album features several of them in Bob Kulick, Aldo Nova, and Al Pitrelli. Perhaps you have heard of a couple of them and if not, do a little Google searching because they’re all worth learning a little more about.
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“Anthology: Set The World Afire” by Megadeth

Artist: Megadeth
Title: “Anthology: Set The World Afire”
Label: Capitol Records/EMI Music
Release Date: 9/30/2008
Genre: Heavy Metal
Rating: 4.5/5

It seemed like only yesterday that we found this very label releasing a “Greatest Hits” compilation by those stalwarts of the Heavy Metal way Megadeth and while it was true that the release would deliver the goods when it came down to pure and intelligent Metal, the time had clearly come for the game to be upgraded and for this idea to be visited once again. That Greatest Hits package was a single disc seventeen track affair and it managed to cover a lot of ground which definitely served the needs of the bands fan base but now with the labeling being that of an Anthology, we would now get two discs and the material would span some thirty three tracks. From top to bottom, everything that you expect to find on such a release is here to be enjoyed and examined from an early career to most recent viewpoint. Of course with the band now being on Roadrunner Records, we don’t find anything from their latest album “United Abominations” but we do go up as far as “Risk” and “Cryptic Writings”. All of the staple tracks from the bands beginnings are here and while it seems as though every song that we found on “Greatest Hits” is made available here, we do find that “Symphony Of Destruction” is a live version and “Mechanix” this time around is the original for on the hits release a couple of years ago gave us a remix from 2002. A second live track is offered up with a rousing version of “Peace Sells” from 1992 and if that doesn’t please you enough there is a demo track called “High Speed Dirt” from a 1992 session to enjoy. The bonus content was good enough in my opinion but with a release like this I lean towards the classic tracks that made me a fan of the band in the first place. They provide a several page booklet but it really doesn’t offer much to that kind of fan who loves to read something while the album is playing. It just lines out the individual tracks and lets you know what album they have originally come from. There are a few but not a lot of photos between these pages to enjoy as well and these depict four different lineups of the band from across the years.
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“The Christmas Trilogy” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Artist: Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Title: “The Christmas Trilogy” – Boxed Set
Label: Lava Records
Release Date: 11/2/2004
Genre: Holiday Rock
Rating: 9/10

“The Christmas Trilogy” boxed set by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra was a great idea for the existing fan and those that for whatever reason are still finding themselves curious and unaware of what the group is all about. This set includes all three of the Holiday themed albums that were released as well as their DVD which was initially released around the time of the second album. Doing this made sense as it ties all of the threads together and makes it one cohesive story out of all the albums. It also gives you access to all of this music in one beautiful package. Wrapped in an ornately decorated book the CD’s and DVD sit comfortably and in the center is all of the lyrics for the albums and the stories that each brought to the listener. I enjoyed being able to focus on it as one giant epic as these recordings find regular rotations in my own CD player especially around the Holidays. The book also has several pages of photos which seem to have been taken from the various tour books.
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“The Lost Christmas Eve” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Artist: Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Title: “The Lost Christmas Eve”
Label: Lava Records
Release Date: 10/12/2004
Genre: Holiday Rock
Rating: 8/10

A few years have passed since the last release for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and this one comes with some anticipation. With “The Lost Christmas Eve” we find the Christmas Trilogy at its completion and offering another glimpse into the magic that this group can deliver. As you would expect this CD continues along in the same musical themes as their previous efforts of “Christmas Eve And Other Stories” and “The Christmas Attic”. The mix of classical, holiday and rock is blended together in a very effective manner once again. The 1st CD is by far the best and in my opinion very difficult to surpass, yet I found that I also enjoyed the new one quite a bit. I actually preferred this over “The Christmas Attic”. With “TLCE” there are more instrumentals and I felt that these added some amount of progression from the first two by taking similar ideas and expanding upon them. The best way to view the numbers is to also realize that they are heavier than the last efforts managed to be. Songs like “Wizards In Winter” and “Siberian Sleigh Ride” are absolutely rocking and get repeat plays on my stereo when I listen. The vocal tracks hold a very Broadway feel to them which makes one wonder if Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s storylines will eventually be taken to the stage in that capacity. It could actually work as the story laid out on each of the albums is quite good. The proper director and stage design could make this even bigger than the Holiday show at Radio City Music Hall in my opinion.
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