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Some Old-as-Hell album reviews


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While digging thru my closet recently, I came across a stack of issues of my old college newspaper, "The Wagnerian" (Wagner College, Staten Island, NY). I was a staff member on the paper for three out of my four years at the school, starting out as a humble cartoonist, then a layout/paste-up guy, and finally, in my senior year, as the paper's editor. Throughout that time my friend Gary and I also contributed a regular music column we ever-so-imaginatively titled "The Rock Report," where we'd review current albums, concerts, etc. It was a lot of fun and it started me on the road to being an amateur music critic (which I still do today). I kinda cringe when I read some of those reviews now, not only because I was so "green," so to speak, but also because I sounded so damn pretentious ... I must've thought that writing these reviews was going to open a door to a gig at Rolling Stone when I got out of college... :lol:

 

Anywhoo, due to popular demand (well, popular demand from fellow Wagner alum Dark Star, anyway), I thought it might be fun to post some of my old reviews so you all can join me on a trip down metal memory lane. I am posting them "as is," with any grammatical or factual mistakes intact. :lol: Comments are appreciated of course. Here's the first one, which happens to be the first review I ever wrote for the paper, it first appeared in the issue dated October 12, 1990.

 

Stryper - "Against The Law" (Enigma Records)

Rating on a 1-to-10 scale: 8.5

Christian hard rockers Stryper have always seemed to me to be a bit confused. Listening to their previous albums, one gets the feeling that somewhere in there was a band that really wanted to play down-and-dirty rock and roll, yet at the same time they maintained an image of clean-cut Christian role models; a conflict of almost Biblical proportions. After their 1987 hit with the weepy ballad "Honestly" from the "To Hell With The Devil" album, they attempted to copy that success with 1988's "In God We Trust," a project that only served to alienate their hard rock audience with its synthesizers and top 40-oriented rhythms. Dissatisfied with the direction the band was taking, Stryper opted to chuck their whole image (gone are the characteristic yellow and black striped costumes; hello, leather jackets and cowboy boots) and holier-than-thou attitude on their next album and just let it rip. The result is "Against the Law," an album that I honestly (sorry) didn't think they had in them.

Since I was among those disappointed by "In God We Trust," my attitude upon receiving "Against The Law" was "OK, guys, you'd better impress me this time." When the title track burst forth from my speakers, however, it was obvious that Stryper are finally getting back to basics. Slipping into a blues-based hard rock sound that suits them perfectly, guitarist Oz Fox sounds thrilled to be rockin' again, while lead vocalist is in fine voice as usual; not too harsh, but not too pretty-boy either. Overall, the band sounds more comfortable and confident than they've been since their 1984 debut, "The Yellow and Black Attack."

A surprising turn on this album is that Stryper isn't concentrating solely on religious themes this time around either -- songs like "Ordinary Man" and "Two Bodies (One Mind One Soul)" promote monogamy and being true to the one you love, while a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star" keeps the funk groove of the original (check out Tim Gaines' standout bass lines on this one!) while putting their own signature stamp on it as well.

In fact, the only song on the album that can be considered Christian is "Rock the Hell Out of You," an almost speed-metal track with ferocious riffing from Fox and powerhouse drumming from Robert Sweet. Of course, there is an obligatory ballad (what would a Stryper album be without at least one?) but thankfully "Lady" isn't nearly as sappy as its predecessors; some fine acoustic guitars and stellar vocals make this one a winner.

All in all, Stryper has taken a big gamble with this album, and I for one think it's paid off handsomely. The band is finally doing what they want to do and for that I say more power to'em. Check out "Against The Law" and let it move you!!

 

... that's a start, hope y'all dug it... I will add other stuff from the Fat Freddy Archives as time permits.

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It will be cool to read some of your old reviews. You should at the bottom of each review you post make a comment about how you feel about each release today. It would be interesting to see how your reviews stood up (in your own mind) over the years. :banger:

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where's the killen one? .

 

Dude, seriously... Killen weren't GOOD enough to merit a review in the mighty Rock Report... heeheeheehee! :lol:

 

You should at the bottom of each review you post make a comment about how you feel about each release today. It would be interesting to see how your reviews stood up (in your own mind) over the years.

 

That's not a bad idea, maybe I'll do that for certain reviews. As for Stryper's AGAINST THE LAW, I've gone on record round these parts many times saying that I think it's their best album, and I stand by what I wrote in this review.

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where's the killen one? .

 

Dude, seriously... Killen weren't GOOD enough to merit a review in the mighty Rock Report... heeheeheehee! :lol:

 

You should at the bottom of each review you post make a comment about how you feel about each release today. It would be interesting to see how your reviews stood up (in your own mind) over the years.

 

That's not a bad idea, maybe I'll do that for certain reviews. As for Stryper's AGAINST THE LAW, I've gone on record round these parts many times saying that I think it's their best album, and I stand by what I wrote in this review.

 

 

yeah, what can they do towards "masterpieces" like against the law(even pop & rock had a review for this one,ahahaha)........metal meets metal......

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April of 1992 here. This one has been posted on the board before in a Spinal Tap thread in case it looks familiar. This one was fun to write because I played it straight and wrote it as if Tap were a "real" band. (Most of the details about their "past" came straight from the bio sheet I got from the label when I received the promotional copy.) What made it even more fun was that after the paper came out it became very clear who was in on the joke and who wasn't. I had people telling me either "That review was hilarious, great job" or "Wow, I had no idea Spinal Tap had been around for so long!" :lol:

 

SPINAL TAP - BREAK LIKE THE WIND (Dead Faith/MCA Records)

Rating (on a 1-to-10 scale): 8

Spinal Tap fans have been suffering in silence since the 1984 breakup of the legendary English band, who called it a day after drummer Mick Shrimpton exploded on stage during their Japanese "Smell The Glove" tour. For the last eight years the surviving members -- vocalist David St. Hubbins, guitarist extraordinaire Nigel Tufnel, and bassist Derek Smalls -- have been carving out their own solo careers (Tufnel with his instrumental Tasmanian world-music project, Smalls with the Christian speed metal band Lambsblood) with varying success. Now the Tap has reunited with the late Shrimpton's twin brother Ric filling in on drums and unleashed their comeback album, the mighty BREAK LIKE THE WIND. It's an absolute corker, proving that time hasn't diminished an ounce of the Tap's subtlety, understatement, or punctuality.

Armadillos firmly entrenched in their trousers, Tufnel and company open the album with the blistering "Bitch School," the first single and video. This flat-out rocker sets a heavy tone that continues with the Jethro Tull-esque "Springtime," the riff-o-rama of "Cash on Delivery," and the pomp and circumstance of "The Majesty Of Rock." The Tap have friends in high places, too, as evidenced by Cher's guest vocal on the power ballad "Just Begin Again" and guitar solos by Slash, Jeff Beck, and Joe Satriani on the title track.

What truly makes BREAK LIKE THE WIND a special album, though, are the classic tracks included from the Tap's past. The band's former manager, the late Ian Faith, sold off the entire Tap back catalog to the Iranian government in numerous shady dealings over the years and thus made their old albums unavailable for sale in the U.S. or Europe, so the boys have tossed in a few of their golden oldies to introduce them to a new generation. The Beatle-ish "Rainy Day Sun," originally the B-Side to 1967's "(Listen To) The Flower People" single, shows that David and Nigel were experimenting with barnyard animal sounds and backward-masking tricks well before Lennon and McCartney did it on "Sgt. Pepper," while the lovely "Clam Caravan," from Tufnel's 1968 solo album, features some stylish sitar picking to create a distinct Middle Eastern feel. "The Sun Never Sweats," from the 1975 concept album of the same name, is Tap at their heaviest, but the truest gem is the album's closer, a scratchy mono recording of the long-lost "All The Way Home," which was the first son Tufnel and St. Hubbins ever wrote together as schoolmates in Squatney, England. The long overdue release of this important piece of rock history is worth the album purchase all by itself.

Some may say Spinal Tap are "too old" or call them "dinosaur rock," but I say that the Tap are just as youthful and important as the day when we first saw them on TV's "Pop, Look, And Listen" back in 1965 performing "Flower People." In short, "Break Like The Wind" is the finest Tap album since the days of classics like "Shark Sandwich" and "Intravenus De Milo" so everyone should check it out and support the most welcome return of one of rock's loudest bands!!

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yeah, what can they do towards "masterpieces" like against the law(even pop & rock had a review for this one,ahahaha)........metal meets metal......

 

 

Just for you, Sharatan, here's a quick, long overdue Killen review: "Thank the Metal Gods that this band only recorded one album and promptly disappeared off the face of the earth. This is a third-rate Manowar wanna be with a singer who sounds like his prostate is being examined by Captain Hook. True metal torture at its absolute worst."

 

:rofl:

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That Killen album is horrid. Very fourth tier stuff. I would prefer to buy an album full of fart noises over top of accordian music than buy that thing. It's hilarious that people pay more than a couple of dollars for it.

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yeah, what can they do towards "masterpieces" like against the law(even pop & rock had a review for this one,ahahaha)........metal meets metal......

 

 

Just for you, Sharatan, here's a quick, long overdue Killen review: "Thank the Metal Gods that this band only recorded one album and promptly disappeared off the face of the earth. This is a third-rate Manowar wanna be with a singer who sounds like his prostate is being examined by Captain Hook. True metal torture at its absolute worst."

 

:rofl:

 

but still there are godly chicks around with killen tattoos that stryper never had, have or will have....ouch......

 

 

more seriously: the only similarity with manowar is the logo.....when killen lp was released manowar would never play or sound like this anymore.....they became too "american"....ah, the business....also victora records, P.O.BOX 606, didn't have any $$$ to send promos to every "zine" around, even the local ones...ouch....

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more seriously: the only similarity with manowar is the logo.....

 

Mmmm... yeah, OK. You just keep telling yourself that. :lol:

 

That Killen album is horrid. Very fourth tier stuff.

 

Only fourth tier? You're in a generous mood today, Spec. :rofl:

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more seriously: the only similarity with manowar is the logo.....

 

Mmmm... yeah, OK. You just keep telling yourself that. :lol:

 

That Killen album is horrid. Very fourth tier stuff.

 

Only fourth tier? You're in a generous mood today, Spec. :rofl:

 

 

 

i guess you're in bad mood today, coz if i recall right in one other forum i used to go for a while (apparently we had some chats there) you never said anything bad for them except the vox....still i prefer killen's vox than lets say kai hansen or bobby pritz and other "tenors" of Scala....ouch.... :tumbsup:

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i guess you're in bad mood today, coz if i recall right in one other forum i used to go for a while (apparently we had some chats there) you never said anything bad for them except the vox....still i prefer killen's vox than lets say kai hansen or bobby pritz and other "tenors" of Scala....ouch.... :tumbsup:

 

Nope, not in a bad mood, just havin' a bit of funny...ya gotta remember dude, my exposure to Killen was brief at best... I saw that band once 20 years ago and promptly forgot about'em till those chats we had at the HOM forum... and even then, I probably said that the band was not all that great... and hearing them 20 years later, time hasn't been kind to the material either...I'll take Kai Hansen over that Killen guy any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

 

I'll quit dragging things off topic if you will. Deal? :beerbang:

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Shoot...double post. Damn computer's acting up...

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i guess you're in bad mood today, coz if i recall right in one other forum i used to go for a while (apparently we had some chats there) you never said anything bad for them except the vox....still i prefer killen's vox than lets say kai hansen or bobby pritz and other "tenors" of Scala....ouch.... :tumbsup:

 

Nope, not in a bad mood, just havin' a bit of funny...ya gotta remember dude, my exposure to Killen was brief at best... I saw that band once 20 years ago and promptly forgot about'em till those chats we had at the HOM forum... and even then, I probably said that the band was not all that great... and hearing them 20 years later, time hasn't been kind to the material either...I'll take Kai Hansen over that Killen guy any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

 

I'll quit dragging things off topic if you will. Deal? :beerbang:

 

 

actually i'm not the one who went off topic. once you wrote that you had an article about them and thus i asked for it. :headbanger:

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Great Reviews Keef...keep 'em Coming...Love reading them...

as stated a brief updated recap would be really cool...But as always

with you it's good reading and some great quotes abounding..!!

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That Killen album is horrid. Very fourth tier stuff. I would prefer to buy an album full of fart noises over top of accordian music than buy that thing. It's hilarious that people pay more than a couple of dollars for it.

Backed....It is a god awful gut wrenching squall of crap.... :puke:

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Yeah, cool review. Well, the one I know anyway. :lol: I enjoyed the Stryper one, most 'cause I pretty much agree. ;)

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actually i'm not the one who went off topic. once you wrote that you had an article about them and thus i asked for it. :headbanger:

 

Then you either have me confused with someone else, or you misunderstood me, bro... I never wrote any articles about Killen back in the day. The one gig of theirs that I saw was a year or two before I began my college newspaper journalism journey...

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Stryper - "Against The Law" (Enigma Records)

Rating on a 1-to-10 scale: 8.5

Christian hard rockers Stryper have always seemed to me to be a bit confused. Listening to their previous albums, one gets the feeling that somewhere in there was a band that really wanted to play down-and-dirty rock and roll, yet at the same time they maintained an image of clean-cut Christian role models; a conflict of almost Biblical proportions. After their 1987 hit with the weepy ballad "Honestly" from the "To Hell With The Devil" album, they attempted to copy that success with 1988's "In God We Trust," a project that only served to alienate their hard rock audience with its synthesizers and top 40-oriented rhythms. Dissatisfied with the direction the band was taking, Stryper opted to chuck their whole image (gone are the characteristic yellow and black striped costumes; hello, leather jackets and cowboy boots) and holier-than-thou attitude on their next album and just let it rip. The result is "Against the Law," an album that I honestly (sorry) didn't think they had in them.

Since I was among those disappointed by "In God We Trust," my attitude upon receiving "Against The Law" was "OK, guys, you'd better impress me this time." When the title track burst forth from my speakers, however, it was obvious that Stryper are finally getting back to basics. Slipping into a blues-based hard rock sound that suits them perfectly, guitarist Oz Fox sounds thrilled to be rockin' again, while lead vocalist is in fine voice as usual; not too harsh, but not too pretty-boy either. Overall, the band sounds more comfortable and confident than they've been since their 1984 debut, "The Yellow and Black Attack."

A surprising turn on this album is that Stryper isn't concentrating solely on religious themes this time around either -- songs like "Ordinary Man" and "Two Bodies (One Mind One Soul)" promote monogamy and being true to the one you love, while a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star" keeps the funk groove of the original (check out Tim Gaines' standout bass lines on this one!) while putting their own signature stamp on it as well.

In fact, the only song on the album that can be considered Christian is "Rock the Hell Out of You," an almost speed-metal track with ferocious riffing from Fox and powerhouse drumming from Robert Sweet. Of course, there is an obligatory ballad (what would a Stryper album be without at least one?) but thankfully "Lady" isn't nearly as sappy as its predecessors; some fine acoustic guitars and stellar vocals make this one a winner.

All in all, Stryper has taken a big gamble with this album, and I for one think it's paid off handsomely. The band is finally doing what they want to do and for that I say more power to'em. Check out "Against The Law" and let it move you!!

 

Still their best album IMO and it shame it was their last(at least at that time).

I wonder if they regretted getting rid of the overly Christian lyrics?

Either way this cd still f#@king(keeping it clean for a post about Stryper :lol: )rocks. :banger:

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Stryper - "Against The Law" (Enigma Records)

Rating on a 1-to-10 scale: 8.5

Christian hard rockers Stryper have always seemed to me to be a bit confused. Listening to their previous albums, one gets the feeling that somewhere in there was a band that really wanted to play down-and-dirty rock and roll, yet at the same time they maintained an image of clean-cut Christian role models; a conflict of almost Biblical proportions. After their 1987 hit with the weepy ballad "Honestly" from the "To Hell With The Devil" album, they attempted to copy that success with 1988's "In God We Trust," a project that only served to alienate their hard rock audience with its synthesizers and top 40-oriented rhythms. Dissatisfied with the direction the band was taking, Stryper opted to chuck their whole image (gone are the characteristic yellow and black striped costumes; hello, leather jackets and cowboy boots) and holier-than-thou attitude on their next album and just let it rip. The result is "Against the Law," an album that I honestly (sorry) didn't think they had in them.

Since I was among those disappointed by "In God We Trust," my attitude upon receiving "Against The Law" was "OK, guys, you'd better impress me this time." When the title track burst forth from my speakers, however, it was obvious that Stryper are finally getting back to basics. Slipping into a blues-based hard rock sound that suits them perfectly, guitarist Oz Fox sounds thrilled to be rockin' again, while lead vocalist is in fine voice as usual; not too harsh, but not too pretty-boy either. Overall, the band sounds more comfortable and confident than they've been since their 1984 debut, "The Yellow and Black Attack."

A surprising turn on this album is that Stryper isn't concentrating solely on religious themes this time around either -- songs like "Ordinary Man" and "Two Bodies (One Mind One Soul)" promote monogamy and being true to the one you love, while a cover of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Shining Star" keeps the funk groove of the original (check out Tim Gaines' standout bass lines on this one!) while putting their own signature stamp on it as well.

In fact, the only song on the album that can be considered Christian is "Rock the Hell Out of You," an almost speed-metal track with ferocious riffing from Fox and powerhouse drumming from Robert Sweet. Of course, there is an obligatory ballad (what would a Stryper album be without at least one?) but thankfully "Lady" isn't nearly as sappy as its predecessors; some fine acoustic guitars and stellar vocals make this one a winner.

All in all, Stryper has taken a big gamble with this album, and I for one think it's paid off handsomely. The band is finally doing what they want to do and for that I say more power to'em. Check out "Against The Law" and let it move you!!

 

Still their best album IMO and it shame it was their last(at least at that time).

I wonder if they regretted getting rid of the overly Christian lyrics?

It showed they may actually have some common sense, so I hope not. ;)

 

End thread - go away Mark! HAHA! :lol: I'm such a party animal.

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October 21, 1991....one of several concert reviews I wrote over the years...

 

THRASHIN' NEW YORK STYLE

 

Prong/Type O Negative/Enrage/Malcolm's Lost/Force of Habit

The Redspot!, Staten Island, September 26

 

Who says all the good music is coming out of Los Angeles these days? There's still breath in the New York scene, judging from the attendance at this five band thrash and hardcore extravaganza. Local heroes Prong and Type O Negative, along with young hopefuls Enrage, Malcolm's Lost, and Force of Habit, provided a packed-to-the-rafters Redspot with a show that was the answer to a slam dancer's prayer.

Staten Island's own hardcore band Force of Habit managed to get the pit moving despite being shorthanded due to their guitarist's recent hospitalization. You gotta love a band whose singer dives off the stage barrier and into the pit during almost every song! Locals Malcolm's Lost and Enrage built on that high energy foundation, with Enrage getting some of the most frenzied audience reaction of the night.

After a lengthy delay due to equipment problems, Brooklyn's Type O Negative took the stage like conquering heroes. I've been a fan of Type O's bassist/vocalist Pete Steele since his days with Carnivore, and it seems he still has a lot of friends from that cult band, what with the audience chanting out "PREDATOR!" and "RACE WAR!" No Carnivore classics were aired, unfortunately, but Type O Negative were anything but a disappointment.

Pete Steele has to be one of the most imposing frontmen in the business (I wouldn't want to run into him in a dark alley!) and his trademark gruff voice and distorted bass lines had the denizens of the pit flying all about the room. Eerie keyboards lent a horror movie motif to the selections from their Roadracer Records debut, "Slow, Deep and Hard."

The highlight of their set was the infamous "Unsuccessfully Coping With the Natural Beauty of Infidelity" (the alternate title of which, unfortunately, can't be printed in a family newspaper) which nearly blew the roof off the club. Carnivore is dead; long live Type O Negative. Look for these guys to go places in the thrash sweepstakes.

By the time Prong made their entrance, the weaker participants in the pit had been weeded out (this reporter included) and the audience worshipped every note of their short but sweet bursts of hardcore/metal. Prong started out strong with tracks from their recent "Beg To Differ" and new "Prove You Wrong" albums, with the best received being "Beg To Differ," "Steady Decline," and a cover of the Stranglers' "Get A Grip On Yourself."

Truthfully, though, by the middle of their somewhat long set I found my eyes wandering more and more to the lunatics in the slam pit (one of whom gets my "stupid" trophy for taking a table from the bar and smashing it on the floor in front of the stage), and less at the band. Overall, though, bassist/vocalist Tommy Victor (who bears an unsettling resemblance to Charles Manson) had the audience in the palm of his hand for the entire show, and new bassist Troy Gregory, with his manic leaps and spins about the stage, looked like he was having a hell of a lot more fun than when he was with Flotsam and Jetsam. Prong's encore was vicious as well, ending the evening's brutality on a high note.

Final score? The crown has to go to Type O Negative, with Enrage in at a hot second. What other horrors are lurking in the New York underground scene? I don't know, but I think I'm going to hang out at the Redspot more often and find out.

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  • 2021 Gold Donors

These are very interestin' reviews/reminders of bands & shows back then, K! I remember some interviews from MTV's Headbangers Ball from those dayz. One w/ Type O Negative got my attention then & still today. I don't remember who was askin' the question of Pete Steele but it was basically "What makes you different from any of the other bands of today?" His response was "Because I've got a pair [cahonies] & I use 'em!" :crazy:

Keep postin' the reviews K! I think it might also be interestin' to hear how your opinions have changed throughout the years about some or most of these bands, or their concerts as well! :beerbang:

 

Sidenote: I wonder who'd win a battle of the 'frontman' competition between Pete Steele & Glen Danzig? PPV anyone? :screwy:

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Sidenote: I wonder who'd win a battle of the 'frontman' competition between Pete Steele & Glen Danzig? PPV anyone? :screwy:

 

Pete Steele... no contest. He has the size advantage in a BIG way. That dude's gotta be 6 foot 8. Danzig's a midget. :lol:

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yeah, what can they do towards "masterpieces" like against the law(even pop & rock had a review for this one,ahahaha)........metal meets metal......

 

 

Just for you, Sharatan, here's a quick, long overdue Killen review: "Thank the Metal Gods that this band only recorded one album and promptly disappeared off the face of the earth. This is a third-rate Manowar wanna be with a singer who sounds like his prostate is being examined by Captain Hook. True metal torture at its absolute worst."

 

:rofl:

 

Okay I just heard this for the first time and this has to be one of the worst if not the worst cd I have ever heard. The singer or talker or whatever you would call him is plain horrilbe. How did this band put out a record? Surely it was recorded on an old tape machine with a small microphone in the floor of the garage. At least that's what it sounds like. AVOID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Okay I just heard this for the first time and this has to be one of the worst if not the worst cd I have ever heard. The singer or talker or whatever you would call him is plain horrilbe. How did this band put out a record? Surely it was recorded on an old tape machine with a small microphone in the floor of the garage. At least that's what it sounds like. AVOID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

...and the rave reviews continue for Killen.... :guitbannana:

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