CD Scavenger Hunt – August update

Another quick update on my purchases…..let’s close out the summer with August’s update… November!

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UFO – On Air at the BBC 1974-1985 box set (2013) – $24
Uriah Heep – Very ‘Eavy Very ‘Umble (1970/2003 deluxe edition) – $10
Uriah Heep – Salisbury (1971/2003 deluxe edition) – $11
Deep Purple – Who Do We Think We Are (1973/2000 reissue) – $12
Michael Schenker Group – MSG (1981/2009 deluxe edition) – $14.50
Michael Schenker Group – Assault Attack (1982/2009 deluxe edition) – $12.50
Michael Schenker Group – Built To Destroy (1983/2009 deluxe edition) – $8
Halford – Live In London (2012) – $8

Warrior – Ancient Future (1998) – $18
Warrior – The Code Of Life (2001) – $11.50
KK Wilde – Rock ‘n’ Roll (1991) – $11.50
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Play My Game (2009) – $9

I split this set of purchases up because I didn’t leave the house to go to the record store, I bought from Amazon and Ebay only. My birthday is in August and I’m a lot older now so presents aren’t important…..OK, yes they are! I can always count on my mom to drop my a card with $100 in it even at my ripe old age of 41 so I always thankfully take that $100 to the record store. This time around it was Amazon so I could get some albums that I would NEVER find in the record store. I bought a lot of deluxe editions of albums I needed to complete my collections. I bought the three MSG CDs to complete my deluxe series, the Deep Purple deluxe edition to keep that series going and I splurged on the first two Uriah Heep albums in deluxe form as well. The UFO box set is a 5 CD/1 DVD set of live recordings that I really wanted and refused to pay the $40 record store price and the Halford live album was a “thrown in” to keep the Halford collection growing, clear an item off my Amazon wish list and make it an even $100.

The second set of purchases were Ebay wins. I’ve been trying to complete my Warrior collection after reading an old Metal magazine I found in a box and it had an ad for Ancient Future inside. I did some research and it seems like that album and The Code Of Life are now hard to find in their original pressings from 1998 and 2001 respectively. I had been watching auctions for both original pressings float above $35 on Ebay so I decided to get into a bidding war on both when I saw a couple copies at low starting prices. I won both albums for a total of $32 (includes shipping) but it was a fight! I also scored an original pressing of the rare KK Wilde album Rock ‘n’ Roll for only $11.50. This album has gone down in price over the years, I’ve seen it go over $100 since I joined Ebay in 1999, so waiting years for a cheaper copy was well worth it. My last purchase was a new sealed copy of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens solo album that I already own but as a promo copy from the record label with no booklet and artwork, just a CD. I wanted an official copy and I found it for $9 total (includes shipping).

Total = $152.50

Total (year) = $1781.50

Average Price (per item) = $10.93

Total CDs (year) = 145

Total DVDs & BluRays (year) = 4

Total LPs (year) = 6

Total Box Sets (year) =8

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… 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’

Current Playlist

I’m trying to catch up on a lot of listening to some of the newer releases that I haven’t gotten to yet but having the collection organized has been a challenge. Everytime I grab an album to put into the Collectorz cataloging software or iTunes, I find another that I haven’t heard in a long time! Then I find a band I forgot about and I pull out all of their albums! Will it ever end?

UFO – The Visitor (2009): This hasn’t left my rotation since I got the advance from SPV a few weeks ago and I don’t think it’s going to leave anytime soon. One of the best albums of the year for me.

Saxon – Into The Labyrinth (2009): I had the advance in December and I haven’t put it down yet…..album of the year for me but UFO is challenging!

Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – Play My Game (2009): A great comeback for the Ripper, its good to hear him doing his own thing and not being a hired hand. I like the Iced Earth and Malmsteen albums but I think Ripper has to make a mark with his solo career or Beyond Fear.

Beyond Fear – s/t (2006): More of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens doing his own thing instead of being a hired frontman. I listened to the album and realized that this was easily one of the best pieces of work Owens has produced. It hasn’t grown stale since it’s release, it still sounds feash and I think that’s because Ripper had the control.

Chickenfoot – s/t (2009): Sammy Hagar & Michael Anthony…..that’s enough to sell me on this album but then you add Joe Satriani and Chad Smith. This isn’t Van Halen, solo Hagar or a Red Hot Chili Pepper thing, this is an actual new band with some good Hard Rocks songs from solid performers. So far it’s better than I thought.

As Cities Burn – Hell Or High Water (2009): One of the worst albums I’ve heard so far this year! The album cover screams Metal but As Cities Burn is a Christian Rock/Indie/Progressive/Modern Rock band and there is just nothing heavy or hard to the music. It sounds too much like what is already clogging Rock radio: mainstream modern Rock with no substance. I wanted to give this another chance but it was a tough listen.

Joe Lynn Turner – Rescue You (1985): JLT’s first solo album after Ritchie Blackmore ended Rainbow. I haven’t listened to this in years and I just got the CD in from a nice seller on Ebay.

Iron Maiden – (various albums): Basically I pulled out all my Maiden albums and started spinning them on the stereo. At work, I put the iPod on “shuffle” and listened to Maiden out of order and had some cool playlists. The new DVD documentary and live CD, FLIGHT 666, come out Tuesday and I want to be ready!

AC/DC – Back In Black (1980): I never pull out BACK IN BLACK because I can tune in to any Rock radio station in my local area and I guarantee I will hear the whole album by the end of the day! There’s nothing wrong with BACK IN BLACK, it’s just that I know it all by heart and it’s completely overplayed. So why is it in my current playlist? My 10 year old daughter loves the album and she absolutley begs me to play it! At least she knows about good music!

The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed (1969): I’ve always been a Stones fan and LET IT BLEED has been my favorite Stones record for a long time. I heard ‘Monkey Man’ on one of the radio stations as a “deep track” and I pulled the album out as soon as I got home!

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.