Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Play My Game (2009)

Tim 'Ripper' Owens - Play My Game (2009)

Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Play My Game (2009, SPV)

  1. Starting Over
  2. Believe
  3. The Cover Up
  4. Pick Yourself Up
  5. It Is Me
  6. No Good Goodbyes
  7. The World Is Blind
  8. To Live Again
  9. The Light
  10. Play My Game
  11. Death Race
  12. The Shadows Are Alive

Tim “Ripper” Owens – Vocals
Bob Kulick – Guitars (Tracks 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 13)
John Comprix – Guitars (Tracks 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 11)
Craig Goldy – Guitars (Track 2)
Jeff Loomis – Guitars (Track 3)
Mike Callahan – Guitars (Track 4)
Steve Stevens – Guitars (Track 4)
Carlos Cavazo – Guitars (Track 5)
Bruce Kulick – Guitars (Track 6)
Doug Aldrich – Guitars (Track 7)
Michael Wilton – Guitars (Track 8)
Neil Zaza – Guitars (Track 10)
Chris Caffery – Guitars (Track 12)
Rudy Sarzo – Bass (Tracks 1, 2, 5, 10, 13)
James Lomenzo – Bass (Tracks 3, 11)
Dennis Hayes – Bass (Track 4)
Billy Sheehan – Bass (Tracks 6, 7)
David Ellefson – Bass (Track 8)
Tony Franklin – Bass (Track 9)
Marco Mendoza – Bass (Track 12)
Simon Wright – Drums (Tracks 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12)
Brett Chassen – Drums (Tracks 3, 6, 11)
Ray Luzier – Drums (Track 4)
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums (Track 9)
Vinny Appice – Drums (Track 13)

Producers: Brett Chassen & Bob Kulick

Total Time = 53:01

Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens MySpace page

Back in the mid-’90s when Judas Priest were searching the globe for a new lead singer to replace the legendary Rob Halford, no one expected the former Winter’s Bane singer to be the man chosen for the job. We all know the story: Owens was fronting British Steel (a Judas Priest tribute band), a tape got to the Priest camp, and Owens beat out some heavy cometition from the likes of Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) and D.C. Cooper (ex-Royal Hunt). The story inspires the Rock Star movie, Judas Priest releases two studio and two live albums with Ripper and things are looking up for the once unknown vocalist. Then the eventual reunion with Halford comes and Ripper is let go from the Priest camp to make his own way.

Ripper has done pretty well for himself since the Priest split by joining two big names in the Metal world and creating his own projects. He joined Iced Earth for two studio albums (2004’s THE GLORIUS BURDEN and 2007’s FRAMING ARMAGEDDON) and he sang on last year’s release from Yngwie Malmsteen – PERPETUAL FLAME while finding time in between to get his own band together, Beyond Fear, and release a solid self-titled album in 2006. Amid rumors of a Winter’s Bane reunion and a Beyond Fear sophomore release, Owens has come back with an album under his own name loaded with a ton of guest musicians. All the tracks on PLAY MY GAME are written by Ripper or with co-writers that performed on the album. This marks a significant change in Ripper’s career because he has been involved in projects where the material is already created and it is his job to lay down the vocals. This solo album is much like the Beyond Fear debut in that it is Ripper in control of the material instead of being a “singer for hire”.

Overall, PLAY MY GAME is a Traditional Metal album rooted in Judas Priest and Black Sabbath influences but mixed with a very melodic Hard Rock groove. Opening track ‘Starting Over’ is a melodic mid -tempo Dio-styled song that doesn’t really pick up until the chorus. Same thing with ‘Believe’, it’s a bit heavier but it leans more toward a mid-tempo chug where the vocal seems to be subdued. Ripper’s main strength is his voice and he can easily match a Halford or Dio as far as power and range but his performance on these first two songs throw up warning flags for me. Don’t get me wrong, he can sing and he sounds great but the album is a “Tim Owens” album, the focus is going to be solely on the vocals and songwriting. Ripper is known for his metallic wail not melodic rock singing.

‘The Cover Up’ gets things back on track with a more metallic sound and a more intense vocal with plenty of high screams. Nice to hear Steve Stevens all over this track on lead guitar and I like the UFO/alien subject matter in the songwriting. Unfortunately, ‘Pick Yourself Up’ gets back to the sludgy mid-tempo pace of the first two songs and it really doesn’t stand out at all. Same thing with ‘Is It Me’, another song that follows a heavy but subdued approach with flashes of aggressive vocals, and ‘No Good Goodbyes’, a track that tries hard to get heavy. These songs remind me of the two Judas Priest records (1997’s JUGULATOR and 2001’s DEMOLITION) Ripper was a part of: doomy, sludgy, heavy but not enough memorable moments to satisfy. The first half of ‘The World Is Blind’ is very promising with it’s uptempo groove but the second half moves in and out of a slow Dio fronted Black Sabbath epic. The contrasting styles make it an interesting song but the best part has to be Billy Sheehan’s bass lines.

Ripper and the gang get back to a melodic Hard Rock style with the biographical ballad ‘To Live Again’. It’s a pretty cool track and definitely introspective as Ripper sounds like he’s using his past experiences as the focal point. There’s a bunch of songs that bleed emotion and feeling over the last few years of being the man in one of the biggest Metal bands on the planet to being asked to leave so they cane reclaim lost glories with their original singer. Songs like ‘To Live Again’, ‘Starting Over’, ‘Believe’, ‘Is It Me’ and ‘No Good Goodbyes’ all have that common songwriting thread and that makes PLAY MY GAME a truly honest album. There is more mid-tempo sludgery on ‘The Light’ that makes it sound like more of the same but the vocal is decent and the title track doesn’t stray too far from the formula either. Thankfully, the album’s best track finally kicks in! ‘Death Race’ is the song I’ve waited for patiently for 10 songs complete with inspired axework from Beyond Fear guitarist John Comprix, powerful drumming and a vocal performance from Ripper that doesn’t sound like he’s trying hard to hold back. The final cut is the dark and brooding ‘The Shadows Are Alive’, a song co-written between Ripper and Chris Caffery (Savatage). The song speeds up halfway through with Caffery’s superb guitar and a lively bass and drum sound from veterans Marco Mendoza and Simon Wright. Even Ripper himself sounds like he has more energy and power…..a good way to end the album.

Bottom Line:
I am a Tim Owens fan. When he joined Judas Priest, I supported him completely as I bought all the albums and caught the live show. When he was asked to leave for the reunion, I thought the alliance with Iced Earth would be Earth shattering but it turned out to be a bit mediocre for me. That’s the thing that has plagued Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens so far in his career, he has always been given material to basically just sing. Over the course of the five studio album he’s made with Judas Priest, Iced Earth and Yngwie Malmsteen, Ripper has only 3 writing credits and they are all co-written with the main composers. That is where PLAY MY GAME lives and dies…..in the songwriting. Every song is either written by Ripper himself or co-written with a member of his all-star cast and that basically leaves the quality of the songs in Ripper’s hands. I like the personal lyrics that Ripper has written on half the songs but I wish the songs were faster with more power. Don’t get me wrong, the slower doom laden style that encompasses most of the album is very well done but everything starts to sound the same after a while. Even the more melodic sounding songs still have that mid-tempo pace and that really makes it hard for individual songs to stand out despite the excellent roll call of musicians that contributed to the album. There are some standout songs like ‘Death Race’, ‘Is It Me’ and ‘Starting Over’ that are completely different from the overall mid-pace package but they aren’t enough to push this record past average. It’s too bad because I was really looking forward to it…..I’ve had the album since early May and I’ve kept it in my regular rotation but repeated spins hasn’t made me enjoy it that much more.

Favorite Songs:
‘Death Race’, ‘Starting Over’, ‘Is It Me’, ‘The Shadows Are Alive’

End of vacation Mixtape

Sadly all good things must come to and end…..and so must my vacation. It’s been a great week off from work: I spent time with the family, listened to a lot of music and did a lot of things I can’t do because work gets in the way…..like sleep! I have to go back to work today at 4pm so I decided to relax in the music room and shuffle the iPod one last time to see what comes out…..

  1. Queen – ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ (1986)
  2. Starz – ‘Violation’ (1977)
  3. Dokken – ‘The Hunter’ (1985)
  4. Autograph – ‘Send Her To Me’ (1984)
  5. Journey – ‘Send Her My Love’ (1983)
  6. Judas Priest – ‘Hard As Iron’ (1988)
  7. Accept – ‘Do It’ (1980)
  8. Judas Priest – ‘Solar Angels’ (1981)
  9. Quiet Riot – ‘Twilight Hotel’ (1986)
  10. Sammy Hagar – ‘Mas Tequila’ (1999)
  11. .38 Special – ‘Wild Eyed Southern Boys’ (1981)
  12. KISS – ‘Room Service’ (1975)
  13. Ozzy Osbourne – ‘No Bone Movies’ (1980)
  14. Manowar – ‘Fighting The World’ (1987)
  15. KISS – ‘Exciter’ (1983)
  16. Tim Owens – ‘Believe’ (2009)
  17. ZZ Top – ‘T.V. Dinners’ (1983)
  18. Motley Crue – ‘Hollywood Ending’ (2000)
  19. U.D.O. – ‘Infected’ (2009)
  20. Aerosmith – ‘Last Child’ (1977)

Bonus Track: UFO – ‘Diesel In the Dust’ (1983)

    The first iPod playlist!

    Well I finally did it…..I bought an iPod!

    My Dell DJ 30 has served me above and beyond the call of duty and it finally died a noble death. I was listening to my DJ at work last week and the headphone jack fell out of the unit. Turns out the solder that held the actual jack in place had come loose and that’s why I kept thinking my headphones were dying. I was getting volume from one ear on the headphones unless I packed the jack with aluminum foil, a temporary fix. Then it happened…..I pulled the headphones out to put in a little more foil and the entire piece came out! R.I.P. Dell DJ……..

    So I went to Best Buy last Saturday and dropped the $250 for an iPod 120gb and $40 for the 2 yr. warranty (if anything happens to it, I can bring it back and get a fresh one). I’ve been loading albums into iTunes but I don’t have nearly as many as I had in the Dell. Here’s what I have in the iPod because it’s all I’ve listened to…..

    Great White – Rising (2009): I still haven’t given up on this album even though it’s a little too mellow. It’s definitely a grower and I’m beginning to enjoy it more everytime I play it.

    Hammerfall – No Sacrifice, No Victory (2009): Here’s another album that I haven’t given up on yet especially since I kind of knew what to expect. Hammerfall plays straight ahead Power Metal and they don’t stray far from their formula…..that can be either refreshing or redundant depending on the quality of the material. This album gets more refreshing everytime I spin it.

    Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Play My Game (2009): This new record comes out next week and I was lucky to get it in the mail Saturday afternoon. I’ve only given it one full spin so far.

    Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): The album of the year for me so far!

    UFO – The Visitor (2009): Another album I was lucky to receive in the mail a full month before it’s release…..all UFO has done since 1995’s WALK ON WATER is release high quality albums and THE VISITOR is no exception.

    Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009): This album was probably one of the most anticpated of 2009 for me next to the new Saxon. I’ve been playing this non-stop but I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet…..probably sometime this week.

    Accept – Predator (1996): Accept’s final studio album and probably their most confusing since EAT THE HEAT (1989). I remember I picked this up the week it came out because I had read about it in a fanzine and Accept were one of my formative bands back in the ’80s. I figured that I was going to get a Metal album but PREDATOR is a mix of different styles, the best track being the first: ‘Hard Attack’. The biggest problem I had was that Udo didn’t sing every song on the album, bassist Peter Baltes sang lead on three tunes and had a primary role on the backing vocals. At the time I loved it save for a couple of tunes…..13 years later I can hear a few more filler tracks but there is some good material too.

    Press Release: Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens solo debut, Play My Game, due May 19

    From SPV:

    Following his spectacular enlistment by exceptional Swedish guitarist YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, and his awesome vocal performance on the most recent Malmsteen album, Perpetual Flame (2008), American metal vocalist TIM ‘RIPPER’ OWENS (BEYOND FEAR, ex-JUDAS PRIEST, ex-ICED EARTH) is set to surprise the public with the release of his first solo album, Play My Game, in May.

    The offering consists of around a dozen brand-new tracks that Owens composed himself or together with renowned friends, such as Bob Kulick, Chris Caffery (SAVATAGE, TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA), Mike Callahan (ex-EARSHOT) and John Comprix (Beyond Fear, RINGWORM).

    The list of guest musicians featured on Owens solo debut is even more spectacular: along with Bob Kulick and Chris Caffery and the others, he was supported by the guitarists Doug Aldrich (WHITESNAKE), Michael Wilton (QUEENSRŸCHE), Jeff Loomis (NEVERMORE), Steve Stevens (BILLY IDOL), bassists Marco Mendoza (ex-Whitesnake), Billy Sheehan (MR. BIG, ex-DAVID LEE ROTH), Dave Ellefson (ex-MEGADETH), Rudy Sarzo (DIO, ex-OZZY OSBOURNE, ex-QUIET RIOT), James Lomenzo (Megadeth), Tony Franklin (ex-BLUE MURDER), Dennis Hayes (Beyond Fear) and drummers Simon Wright (ex-AC/DC, Dio), Vinny Appice (HEAVEN AND HELL), Ray Luzier (KORN), Bobby Jarzombek (RIOT, ex-HALFORD), and Brett Chassen. Fans and experts alike will love this sensational all-star line-up and may rest assured that the haunting songs will effortlessly live up to this illustrious cast of musicians: Tim Ripper Owens has never sounded more impressive, melodic and multi-faceted!

    “I’ve gotten better as a songwriter,” Owens explains. “And I also write songs that the fans can really get into and get their fist pounding in the air. I’ve always been a great fan of the Black Sabbath line-up featuring Ronnie James Dio, and I love Judas Priest. Both bands delivered records that are straight forward and go directly to the bloodstream – which also happens to be my compositional approach.”

    Release Dates for Play My Game on Steamhammer / SPV:

    Germany / Austria / Switzerland: May 15th
    UK / rest of Europe: May 18th
    USA / Canada: May 19th


    I have been a Ripper Owens guy since he joined Judas Priest and I have enjoyed most of his projects since but I wish the guy would just continue the excellent Beyond Fear project instead of doing a solo album. That said, I’ll bet that this will be a solid record especially with all the collaborators that have contributed. Another good record to look forward to…..

    — Steve

    Weekend Playlist – 10/11 & 10/12

    It’s been awhile since I had a long weekend off so I decided to do my best and relax, listen to some music and get back on track with the website. The good news is that the laptop is fixed, all it needed was a little compressed air into the fans and it works! So here’s what I’ve listened to this weekend and what I have on tap for late night tonight…….

    Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (2008): Alice is one of my favorite artists but I really haven’t given this album much play since it’s release. I’m really not sure why because he has had an excellent track record with his last 4 records. I’ve been spinning this more than any album lately and I’m really starting to get into it. Alice is just creepy and this serial killer concept is great.

    J.C. Cinel – Before My Eyes (2008): Very cool acoustic melodic rock from singer/songwriter J.C. Cinel. This is kind of light because it’s all acoustic and it has a lot of Country influences in it. It kind of has a Jon Bon Jovi/bret Michaels solo vibe to it but a lot better. I’m a sucker for good acoustic guitar and there’s plenty of it here!

    Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper (2008): I picked this up a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t tear the wrapping until today. Heep is one of those legendary bands that I always try to get into but I never buy their albums because I find something else. I read some reviews online and grabbed it. Too early to make a judgement after one spin.

    Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008): I bought this the day it come out, listened to it a half dozen times and moved on. I really want to like this album but I haven’t been able to get into it.

    Judas Priest – Jugulator (1997): I thought that this was a great album when it first came out. It’s very heavy and Tim Owens does a great job singing, even if the Halford comparisons are there. With all the news on Owens leaving Iced Earth and joining Yngwie Malmsteen for a new record, I decided to go back 11 years and hear how everything started. Some solid tunes here: ‘Burn In Hell’, ‘Jugulator’, ‘Cathedral Spires’…..the whole album is top notch, I just think people couldn’t get by the Owens vs. Halford debate.

    ‘Burn In Hell’

    Two – Voyeurs (1998): Rob Halford + Trent Reznor + John 5 (John Lowery) = one big mess! I bought this in the hopes that Halford would answer Priest’s JUGULATOR but this ended up being one of the worst albums I’ve ever bought! I give Halford credit for trying something new but Industrial Metal isn’t his thing, he was trying to emulate Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails and failed miserably.

    Round 1 to Judas Priest!

    Halford – Resurrection (2000): A huge comeback! The Two project sucked and I think Rob Halford knew it so he went back to his Metal roots and made sure everyone knew it. The title track signals the return but ‘Silent Screams’ is a gem. I also really dig the duet with Bruce Dickinson on ‘The One You Love To Hate’.

    Judas Priest – Demolition (2001): Priest was in the middle of making this album when Halford dropped his RESURRECTION bombshell, after hearing that comeback I just knew that Priest would have a tough time competing. Some good tracks here, ‘Feed On Me’ is the best, but the album feels disjointed. This doesn’t even compare to JUGULATOR so forget the comparison to RESURRECTION. When I went to get this album out I noticed that I have four copies: the promo advance, the regular U.S. CD, the Japanese pressing (1 bonus track) and the Australian Tour Edition (3 bonus tracks, one being the bonus from the Japanese release).

    Round 2 to Halford!

    Rose Tattoo – Blood Brothers (Special Tour Edition w/DVD) (2008): I only gave this one spin but it was good to hear Angry Anderson and the boys again. This one is on my list for late night listening.

    Girlschool – Legacy (2008): This album is out out in a couple of weeks, in a month for the U.S. I always liked Girlschool, they came in with the NWOBHM and I always seem to acquire their albums. This is the album I’m holding for later tonight after the NFL game…..I’m betting it’s good.