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Black Sabbath – We Sold Our Soul for Rock ‘N’ Roll
May 29th, 2003 under Album Reviews. [ Comments: none ]

Released: 1976
Tracks: Black Sabbath; The Wizard; Paranoid; War Pigs; Iron Man; Tomorrow’s Dream; Fairies Wear Boots; Changes; Sweet Leaf; Children of the Grave; Sabbath Bloody Sabbath; Am I Going Insane (Radio); Snowblind; N.I.B.
Best track: Black Sabbath
Tracks to skip: Changes, Am I Going Insane

The 2CD set, Symptom of the Universe, would probably be a little bit more desirable than this, but if you want a cheap and easy introduction to Black Sabbath, then this is it. I don’t listen to this near as much as I used to, but it’s still pretty good. Sabbath were a pretty important band, esp. on heavy music. This stuff isn’t all ground-breaking, but it’s enjoyable. Mostly, the songs are pretty good. The first one (also the first track on their debut) is probably the greatest thing they ever did. It’s still just the heaviest riff ever and such a creepy song. It’s an excellent song and the perfect choice for the opening of this.

There’s always going to be some songs that don’t quite measure up (Changes, Am I Going Insane), but most of these songs are pretty good and deserved classics. Changes is really bad though. I mean, it’s a freaking love song! The same damn band that writes “Black Sabbath” also comes up with this AWFUL love song. I could at least give it some points if it were a good song, but it’s really just bad. The piano part is really basic and the mellotron is SO drippy. Too cheesy for me. Am I Going Insane is a really dumb song as well; it reminds me of the bad Kiss songs from the late 70’s. I don’t care for Tomorrow’s Dream too much either, but the chord progression on the chorus is pretty cool. I like Snowblind as a composition, but Tony Iommi’s guitar sounds horribly out of tune. It hurts to listen to it.

While I’m going on about the negative stuff here, the lyrics (I assume all written by Ozzy?) are uniformly bad. OK, they get points for War Pigs, but most have bad lyrics. Iron Man may be the worst (besides Changes). I still really dig the music, but the words are very bad in a hilarious way. Lyrics aside, the music parts of the songs are all pretty well written and I that’s what I focus on anyway. Most of these songs are really good. There are some omissions on this, but it’s a great place to start. I enjoy it.

Rating: 85

Robert Fripp String Quintet – The Bridge Between
May 29th, 2003 under Album Reviews. [ Comments: none ]

Released: 1993
Tracks: Kan-non Power; Yamanashi Blues; Hope; Chromatic Fantasy; Contrapunctus; Bicycling to Afghanistan; Blue; Blockhead; Passacaglia; Threnody for Souls in Torment
Best track: Hope
Track to skip: nothing really sucks on here, but not a lot really grabs me

Robert Fripp is excellent, Trey Gunn is excellent, and the California Guitar Trio are excellent. In theory, and occasionally in reality, this group of 5 musicians (aka the RFSQ) sounds like a dream come true for music lovers. Most of this CD isn’t like that though. As witnessed from this CD and the video Live in Japan, when this group focuses on certain songs they are unstoppable. I think my biggest problem with this CD is how the trio’s songs (they all appear on their first album, Yamanashi Blues) don’t sound good with the addition of Fripp and Gunn. They’re great compositions but Fripp and Gunn don’t add anything and they actually take away from the songs themselves. These songs are Kan-non Power, Yamanashi Blues & Blockhead. All three of these are way superior when played by the CGT themselves.

The times when this string quintet really works are on tracks like Afghanistan, Passacaglia & especially Hope. I just have to comment on how amazing and utterly perfect this song is. Possibly the most moving piece of music I’ve ever heard. It goes without saying it’s the highlight of this disc. I love these other two songs as well; they’re all excellent. The rest of the album is filled out with a Trey Gunn solo spot (Bach’s Chromatic Fantasy, one that Gunn does much better on the video), a Fripp/Gunn duo (Blue, which is pretty good and features an out of place Starless quote), and a menacing solo Fripp soundscape (Threnody…an evil thing, but I’ve heard him get WAY more evil out of his guitar).

All in all it’s a disappointing disc. They are better on the video, which I recommend. Besides THRaKaTTaK (the worst thing any of these guys have ever been associated with) this is probably the worst disc by any of these guys. Bicycling to Afghanistan and Hope are essential and excellent, but you can get Hope on the DGM sampler. Well, like I said, a disappointment considering the talent of these 5 guys.

Rating: 73


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