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Green Day succeeds in keeping their edge

By Duane Rodriguez
On October 10, 2012

Now that summer's over, here's GOOD Music Cruel Summer (Def Jam), a compilation CD by the artists on Kanye West's GOOD Music record label. GOOD is an acronym for Getting Our Dreams Outs it's also an outlet for all things Kanye, whether you want 'em or not.

Kanye bum rushed this album like Taylor Swift at an award show. He's prominent on six of the album's 12 tracks and all over everything else. The artists here are great; they don't need your meddling. Is it a true representation of the talent on his roster or West's talent over his roster?

Good stuff without West includes, Wu-Tang Clan's Raekwon on "The Morning". Others include Kid Cudi's "Creepers", "Cold" by DJ Khaled, "Higher" by The Dream.

Yes, Kanye's stuff is good. Like, "Mercy" and "New God Flow" but especially "The One" that sounds like it was left off West's and Jay-Z's brilliant Watch The Thrown album of last year.
I guess in a year when hip-hop has taken a backseat on the charts, Cruel Summer will have to do. Hey Kanye, sometimes less is more.

OK let's get this straight. Green Day is about as much of a punk band as Taco Bell is Mexican food. Just because you check into rehab after a public meltdown and wear eyeliner doesn't make you a punk. They make cute little records that are as poppy, candy sweet and commercial as anything Justin Bieber does.

Especially after becoming theatre darlings with the adaptation of their American Idiot album, into a smash Broadway musical. Here comes the first of three albums to be released in a three-month span, Uno! (Reprise). If this is any indication on where the band is at, their fan base is probably frothing at the mouth.

Once again working with producer Rob Cavallo (Switchfoot, Jewel) they have shelved the concept approach to album making, as with their previous two efforts. This time they're going back to their early day strengths with a 12-track punch to the face. Not one sappy acoustic "Wake Me When September Ends" or "Good Riddance" in the lot.

Everything here is pretty aggressive rock and roll... well, as aggressive as 40-year-old millionaires can get. The hardest thing to do is keep your edge as you get older. What do you have to be mad about when you have the world at your feet?
This time out they have succeeded; we'll see what the next two albums in this trilogy bring. Standouts here though include "Oh Love", "Carpe Diem", "Troublemaker" and "Kill The DJ".

Michael Jackson's Bad 25th Deluxe Anniversary Edition (Epic/Legacy) is a thorough 4-disc compilation. It features the original re-mastered CD, another disc of unreleased demos with unfinished tracks, a DVD of his July 16 1988, performance at Wembley Stadium along with its' CD soundtrack, taken from the only multi-track tape recording during the entire Bad tour.
For me, Bad was kind of a disappointment compared to either his Off The Wall or Thriller albums. In fact after he stopped working with Quincy Jones on those three albums, Jackson never reached that level of success again.

That being said, the 11 tracks that make up Bad are darned impressive for the time. Can't complain about "The Way You Make Me Feel", "Another Part of Me", "Smooth Criminal", "Dirty Diana" or the very honest "Man In The Mirror" being re-mastered.

On the disc of unreleased material, well it is what it is. There's a reason this stuff wasn't released and it's pretty obvious. It's cool that you can hear "Al Capone" morph into the hit "Smooth Criminal", otherwise it's just unfinished musical doodles with audiotape as scratch paper.

While the Wembley show was the only Bad concert to be recorded in multi-track, it was highly unlikely to be considered for release in its current state. Michael sang his parts live with no lip-syncing; vocal overdubs are needed throughout because of his physical stage movements impairing his vocal work.

The DVD of that same Wembley show is the jewel of the set. The only known existence of this concert was Jackson's personal VHS copy; obviously the quality is nowhere near what we're used to in the current day of digital HD Blu-Ray technology. What you can't hide or mask is his amazing stage presence. This alone is a MUST for any fan.

Here's a cool little tribute CD, Re-Machined: A Tribute To Deep Purple's Machine Head (Eagle Rock), in which various artists pay their respects to a great classic rock album. These albums are usually uneven and badly paced, not the case here.

There are two entirely different, radical variations on the classic "Smoke On The Water"-one by The Flaming Lips, which is a very electronic tape-loopy version and a more conventional one with Carlos Santana on guitar and Papa Roach's Jacoby Shaddix on vocals.

Other standouts include Chickenfoot's rendition of "Highway Star", "Never Before" by Kings of Chaos, vocalist Jimmy Barnes and guitarist John Bonamassa tackling "Lazy" and without question the standout of the set "When a Blind Man Cries" by Metallica.
 


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