Van Halen – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge (1991)

The unusual name of this album makes sense to one if it is abbreviated. It’s a historical reference, where the word F-U-C-K came from. The original name of the album was going to be far more explicit.

This is the third Van Halen album with Sammy Hagar. Despite there being some ongoing tension within the band, it’s a great album and excellent listen. Let’s dive in.

We begin with Poundcake which has near silence, before going into a power drill based intro and a great rock song. Sammy Hagar’s vocals are top here. He and the rest of Van Halen kick ass. It equates food to sex, hence the title of the song. It’s a great opening song to the album.

The next song Judgement Day is an underrated and pulsating rock song. It utilises the Floyd Rose tremolo system on electric guitar to great effect, and sounds mega. Sammy Hagar really sings this well, not bad for a guy who at this point had been doing music professionally for nearly two decades.

Spanked is the next song, and sounds dark and dirty. It’s supposed to be. It’s a somewhat humourous piece about a phone sex experience. There is baritone guitar here too. It’s a good song, but sadly not a great song.

Runaround was a hit single off the album, and a live favourite. It’s likely about chasing girls, and has a surprise tempo change in the middle of the song. A decent song, and it comes across that way.

The next song, Pleasure Dome, is probably too long and boring for most. It seemingly is, although Eddie Van Halen plays very well on this number. and his (then) new Ernie Ball Music Man EVH Signature Model sounds too good to miss. Which is a redeeming feature of listening to this song.

A really good song In ‘n’ Out comes next. It sounds a heck of a lot like Led Zeppelin, but intentionally so. There are some great riffs, a wah-wah solo and Sammy Hagar screaming in a sexual way towards the end. It’s a very intense and good listen.

Man On A Mission begins with some awesome tapping and harmonics before launching into another sexual based song. This one could have been shortened though, it doesn’t sound as consistent as the other songs on the album.

The Dream Is Over is a call to arms for Van Halen fans, talking about overcoming issues in society in general. It’s got a great riff, even if it was not released as a single.

Probably the most personal Van Hagar track is Right Now. It has a history about it from Sammy Hagar’s perspective. It begins with a great piano piece, before launching into a memorable and much loved song about taking the opportunity to do something in life.

The instrumental guitar piece by Eddie Van Halen is his response to the previous track. 316 was devoted to Eddie’s son Wolfgang Van Halen. It’s a great fingerpicked piece, and sounds awesome, even today.

Top Of The World is the last tune here and it sounds perfect as a sort of encore number. It was intended to be that way. It lifts the outro riff from the band’s earlier hit Jump but sounds completely different. It’s a good way to finish off the album.

This is one of the better Van Hagar albums. Sadly, things fell apart within the band (not for the first or last time) and a lot of damage was done to the different Van Halen members of the band. Forget that, this is a very good and underrated rock album. Some of their best Van Hagar work is here.

Sit back and enjoy.

8/10

Primal Scream – Screamadelica (1991)

Primal Scream became a success with this album. Prior to this, they were very desperate to make some sort of success and had released some rather ordinary rock material. It’s not dissimilar a journey that fellow contemporaries Underworld had experienced. Once the single Loaded arrived, it was played heavily in clubs and underground raves everywhere.

This album came next. It is a genuine classic in its own right. It has a fusion of psychedelic and electronic sounds done so well that their earlier mediocre rock efforts are forgivable. Let’s listen through this, track by track.

Movin’ On Up is just that. It’s a gospel house like piece and introduced the group into their new format. The stoned sounding singing from Bobby Gillespie suits this piece very well. It’s a quick and catchy piece with a variety of instrumentation to boot. The screaming guitars are fantastic here. A nice start to the album.

Slip Inside This House was originally done by the 13th Floor Elevators on their own Easter Everywhere album. It features the ‘amen break’ and some great textures and a superb bassline. Still, the Primal Scream boys here match the 13th Floor Elevators effort with this cover. It’s catchy and brilliant. Welcome to the 1990s, ladies, and gentlemen.

The next piece Don’t Fight It, Feel It is another great piece featuring female vocals which suit this piece perfectly. “I’m going to live the life I love, I’m going to love the life I live.” is chanted here. It sounds very danceable and good quality, and unlike most dance music, this is not a throwaway piece. Some tripped out sounds are here too to keep you listening on.

After that, we go downtempo and heavily psychedelic with Higher Than The Sun. It talks directly about hallucinogenic drugs and enhancing one’s experience with such experiences from that. The stoned vocals are here again from Bobby Gillespie, the lead singer. It’s a brilliant and openly druggy piece. You can easily hear how inspired these guys were making this piece.

Inner Flight comes next. Some great vocal melodies kick off a minor key track, with a psychedelic keyboard patch that sounds a lot like Coldplay’s Clocks. No second-guessing where Coldplay stole that one from. But hey, it’s chilled and relaxing. Let the music guide you on this journey, as it is tasty listening. The outro has a wonderful vocal melody to boot.

Come Together is an extended piece, going over 10 minutes long. It’s a neo-hippie call to arms. It’s an ode to music and a very good one. There are numerous sounds, well-chosen and a great sample is here about the true nature of music. If you wish to hear a song that will destroy barriers for music listeners, this should be it. It never seems boring at all through the 10 minutes at all. Smile and enjoy the numerous textures and singing here.

The original Andy Weatherall Loaded arrives with a sample from a cult film at the start, before going into Cuban style beats, piano, real bass guitar, and a melancholy slide guitar melody. Horns and fiddles join the mix too. It’s a truly great piece of music, and is very moving and enjoyable, all the way through. It proves that even using computers, human beings can create a great and emotional piece of music. The world of music never was the same after this song, in that respect.

After that, Damaged arrives. It’s a downtempo piece and sounds very gentle in approach. It sounds melancholic and loving towards a partner but has some great vocal harmonies in it as well. It’s a reflection on a past love but works well here. Some nice Fender Stratocaster sounding playing is here to top it all off amongst everything else. Good job.

I’m Comin’ Down is a very low-tempo and subdued piece. It, of course, refers to a post MDMA/Ecstasy come down, or a comedown of a drug of a similar sort. It has some truly interesting and wonderful saxophone and other electronic-based sounds here. It’s a gentle and kind piece to listen to. This album is really very awesome in many ways, and this proves the musicality of Primal Scream right here. A must-listen for relaxation.

Higher Than The Sun – A Dub Symphony In Two Parts has the legendary bassist Jah Wobble from early era Public Image Limited featured on this track. It’s very much a reprise of Higher Than The Sun and acts as an almost concept album like idea for a track. Although not officially a concept album, Screamadelica could be considered one. Some space like tripped out sounds makes up this piece. Good to hear that these guys had many ideas for our own listening enjoyment. The bassline and breakbeats are classy too.

The last cut, Shine Like Stars, sounds Syd Barrett-esque with the twinkling melody-based sound. It’s simply a nice song to finish off this album. It’s gentle and reassuring, sounding almost like King Crimson. Mint.

This album saved Primal Scream, both financially and musically. It sounds so well done, even today, blowing a lot of your mainstream R & B away. If you like to hear the most psychedelic electronic sounds out there, you should listen to this album. You will not be disappointed.

9/10

Leftfield – Leftism (1995)

Despite the somewhat political name of the group and album, this is not political music. In fact, it is one of the best EDM albums ever made. It’s so unique and wonderful sounding that it will leave you in awe.

It has a huge amount of different world music and electronic-based influences in this album. Let’s examine these tunes, track by track.

We begin this sonic journey with Release The Pressure. It kicks off with some ethereal sounds, birds chirping and launches into a great piece of electronic music. It has some Jamaican reggae influences in it. It breaks into a great dance piece. Not bad for a song that is over seven minutes long.

The next tune is Afro-Left which is a decent tune as well. It has some unusual string instrumentation of some sort played throughout, and some wonderful lyrics in a non-English dialect. It’s great to hear, and still sounds fresh and inspired today.

Melt sounds like a piece that melts in your mouth and sounds delicious. It is a very psychedelic number and still sounds great today. Horns and other trippy sounds are plentiful here, along with some crunchy drum sounds. A nice little piece in editing.

Song Of Life begins with an acid house style riff and bringing in some amazing and intelligent textures. It then breaks into a beat-driven piece which sounds rather catchy. It’s danceable and listenable simultaneously, a rarity in EDM. It’s very progressive as well in approach, a great thing indeed.

The next piece Original is very original. But the message in this piece with female vocals and lyrics is to remain true to oneself. It’s a little melancholy, but still very good. “You’re original, live your own path. You’re original, light your own way”. Great stuff. The outro is good too.

A very short (for this album) piece named Black Flute arrives. It’s a much more danceable piece for the album but still sounds true to the Leftfield sound. Very good to hear. Pumps the adrenaline in your body the whole way through.

Space Shanty arrives, and it sounds like a continuation of the sound of the previous track. There is some trippy sounding Sitar here, along with some eastern vocals. That is the intro alone. The rest of the song is just wonderful and groove-based, a nice tune here. There are some wicked tribal drums towards the end as well.

Inspection (Check One) arrives, and this track is awesome and cool. There is a heavy bassline and drum beats galore, along with some well-chosen sampled phrases. It’s a great listen, and if you have to listen to one song by Leftfield, ideally this is it. It never bores throughout the length of time here.

The following piece, Storm 3000, arrives with some attentive sounds that are very interesting. The subsonic bass here is awesome, as is the breakbeat here too. It’s a minor key piece but sits perfectly well in this album. This piece is a lot like what The Chemical Brothers would have recorded, but it’s Leftfield here instead.

The next song that arrives is one of Leftfield’s best. You can never guess that John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) is singing here. He sings really well here in a soulful way. This cut is Open Up. It’s very, very good. The breakdown is great too. A classic song.

21st Century Poem is a poetry recital into some futuristic sounds. It sounds very melodramatic and spacey. It is difficult to pinpoint where Leftfield got their samples from on here. But, it’s a good way to finish the album. It’s a call of arms to people to fight for their own rights. There is a twist at the end as well.

This is truly a great EDM sort of album. It’s definitely worth listening to. The only issue? It is a tad long and could have been edited in some ways. Still, it’s an essential listen for those who love all forms of electronic music. Hardcore fans will want to seek the 22nd-anniversary edition, which has some interesting remixes on it.

8/10

Lil’ Kim – Hard Core (1996)

Lil’ Kim has had an interesting lifetime over the years. She went to prison at one point. But despite that, she also made some great music.

This, her debut, is likely her best. It’s rap with some different beats and textures you’d normally expect elsewhere. It’s also a really great listen. Let’s check out this album.

Intro In A-Minor is a hilarious intro to the world of Lil’ Kim. It’s very explicit and sexual and is a great listen for a laugh. You really have to hear it to experience the humour of it. It’s a great way to begin the album.

Big Momma Thang arrives. It’s a great piece from Lil’ Kim. It has a load of awesome groove-based sounds in it. It also delivers very well lyrically by Lil’ Kim and makes you want more. Class.

The next song is No Time. It’s about staying strong in a world of mediocrity. It has some nice stardust and piano sounds on it. It also has a good array of guest appearances, in a structured way of course. Very sexual and very explicit, once again.

After that, we have Spend A Little Doe which is a catchy piano-driven piece. It talks about selling one’s body for you-know-what. It’s a great number here for sure. Well worth listening to from this album.

Take It! is a skit about sex-based adventures. It would make a person who is very politically correct wince. It leads into the next piece.

Crush On You talks more sexual stuff. It’s an okay piece, but not as good as the cuts before it. Still listenable though.

Following up is Drugs. It’s a really good piece, in fact. The subject matter is self-explanatory. It’s a very good piece. “A different kind of high,” indeed. It’s a chilled out sort of vibe on this song.

The next piece Scheamin’ is a very short skit from the female perspective about sexual desire. It’s an interesting skit indeed.

Queen Bitch talks about gang based culture from Lil’ Kim. It’s a good listen, with some catchy sonic loops, including a piano riff. The lyrics exhibit much colourful language.

Dreams kicks off next. It has a very catchy guitar-based riff throughout. Lil’ Kim excels here. “Dreams of fucking in R & B”. It’s still highly sexual for a song here, which makes it sound out there. But hey, it’s very good.

The next piece is a very close-to-the-bone matter for Lil’ Kim. M.A.F.I.A. Land is about all that. It sounds very deep and meaningful for a rap artist. A good listen. One of the best cuts off the album. A prophetic song before she went to jail, perhaps?

Afterward, we arrive at We Don’t Need It. It’s a sexual story from both the male and female perspective. The chorus is a call-and-response piece from the males and females on this album. A nice effort.

Not Tonight has great electronic sounds at the beginning. It continues the theme of the album. It is super explicit, so ensure you have headphones when listening to this around people of a conservative nature. Excellent though.

Player Haters is another skit. It’s about jealousy, not a bad listen before the last song of the album.

The last piece is the profanity based Fuck You. It sounds discordant, which is a bit different compared to the rest of the album. A good way to conclude this album though.

This album showed the world of Lil’ Kim to the world. Although her output has slowed throughout the years, Lil’ Kim remains a popular celebrity today. A quality listen from Lil’ Kim is here.

7/10

Radiohead – OK Computer (1997)

Radiohead was just getting started here. After the release of The Bends in 1995, people gave attention to the band seriously for the first time. This continued after OK Computer’s release.

Yes, here we go! This album is known to be one of the greatest albums of all time. There are many great tunes on this album. Let’s take a listen.

Airbag begins this album, sounding very eerie and creepy. Thom Yorke’s falsetto reigns high here. It’s an effective song about an airbag that stops people from dying in a car crash. Odd and eerie indeed. “In an interstellar burst, I am here to save the universe.”

Paranoid Android is a really great song. Although rather depressing, it is an interesting listen. The James Bond-like riff in the breakdowns is fantastic. There are some rather cynical lines throughout this piece, adding to this great song. Nirvana style quiet/loud dynamics are ever-present here as well. A well-structured exercise in intelligent and artistic listening.

The semi-psychedelic and otherworldly Subterranean Homesick Alien is here next, showing a depth of surreal sounds. It’s a little easier to listen to compared to the first two songs on the album. But still, about a disturbing subject, however.

The ode to Romeo and Juliet is here next is Exit Music (For A Film). It starts off with a clanging acoustic guitar. Thom Yorke’s voice then sets the scene, then it has a variety of instrumentation that builds up to a crescendo. A very close to the bone subject.

Let Down is next, and yes, it is very depressing. It shows the fragility of the human race and some people’s actions. Thom Yorke and the group pull this off perfectly.

Karma Police is a great piece driven by piano. There are some rather bizarre lyrics through this piece. It sounds as though we are talking about someone psychotic here. The ending is a great one, Very nice.

The robotic Apple computer voice-driven Fitter Happier has a strange set of poetry and scary sort of lifetime. It sounds mega depressing. But it is really good to hear this relatively short cut on the album.

The political, and honestly so, Electioneering arrives next. It talks about political direction. It’s a much more optimistic piece. Some phrases such as, “I trust I can rely on your vote.” Very intellectually inspiring. The main chorus makes sense 100%.

Climbing Up The Walls is likely inspired by a science fiction and horror sort of environment. It’s got some distorted drums, sound effects, and climactic chorus present. The lyrics are freaky as well. A good horror like a piece for everyone here. Enjoyable. The twist at the end is super freaky on a psychological basis.

No Surprises sounds like a song about suicide. It is a poetic and simple piece with acoustic guitar and glockenspiel, which sounds great together. It’s a good radio-style jingle. It sounds great, even today.

The next piece, Lucky is a bit lighter. It was recorded in 1995 but added to this album as an afterthought. It fits perfectly though. It is a slow, almost ballad-like piece. Very good though. The only thing is that there are lacking some really good riffs. Still, a very good listen.

The last one, The Tourist, is a slow and moving piece for the end of the album. It is very suited to the album itself. It is a good song, even if it is not a great one.

This album has received critical and commercial from all areas of the music world. In fact, it is a great listen, so ensure that you give this a whirl.

Unforgettable and not regrettable for a listen. In 2017, a remastered anniversary edition called OK NOT OK Computer with loads of unreleased songs were added to another CD. This will be reviewed at a later point, but this is one truly impressive album.

9/10

Blur – The Great Escape (1995)

Blur went mega after Parklife. The only problem with this afterwards was the competition, mostly from Oasis.

This album is okay, perhaps even a little underrated. It’s just not as strong as some of the other music by Blur and bands around this era in the UK. Still, a review is a review. Let’s dive in.

Stereotypes starts out with some retro 80s like synths and resumes from where Parklife ended. And therein lies the problem with the album, it is more of the same. Still, it’s very good. An English parody, and a very good one at that. It stops and starts again in the middle of the song.

Country House was the hit single off the album and has some good lines. “I’m a professional cynic, but my heart’s not in it.” Awesome. It’s a great fictional story about a dude that has very much everything in his life, or maybe not. It’s reminiscent of The Kinks, in fact.

The next song Best Days is a slow, ballad piece. It’s got some good singing on it but seems a little weak due to the pace of the song. Still, it’s a good Blur song regardless, though the lyrics are weak as well.

The next song is brilliant. Charmless Man may refer to The Smiths This Charming Man, but it’s a great catchy pop song which is a cynical look at someone detestable. It’s rather silly and listenable for sure. Party trick: recite the lyrics of this song to your friends, for a laugh of course.

Fade Away follows. Nice tune here, It’s about relationships and the poison that they can be to themselves in regards to money. The falsetto chorus is wonderful to listen to. It’s a straightforward song with dark lyrics, a good mixture of the two.

Top Man sounds incredibly dated from the word go. But it’s catchy enough, especially throughout the chorus. It’s a good mixture of interesting sounds. One cannot think at this point but how great it must have to be living in 1995. Not a bad piece.

The follow up The Universal is a vision of what may or may not in the future, many years from now. It’s got a lovely tearjerking nature to the song and sounds like a Burt Bacharach piece. Nice piece, and a good sentiment throughout. Sounds like a million dollars, even today.

A quirky song which is Mr. Robinson’s Quango comes next. Horns are everywhere, and the content is very sexual at the end. It’s a good piece, but better lyrically than musically. Worth a good listen.

He Thought Of Cars comes next. Another suburban tale of a person’s life story. It is rather dull this number, and as a result, is less listenable than the other songs on the album. A bit too long to be fair.

It Could Be You has a good riff basis with many guitars on it. It’s a quirky little number that is okay, but Blur has done better, before and since. Classic rock fans will definitely dig this number.

The next piece, Ernold Same, is a few minutes of varied instrumentation and a rather odd tale about a said character who did the same thing over and over every day. It’s a moral reminder to others to have some variety in life.

The song that follows afterwards has really awful synthesiser sounds throughout. Globe Alone otherwise is okay, but nothing great sadly. Could have been reworked easily, mind you.

Dan Abnormal is a lot better than the previous track. It’s a great story about said character. The twist in this is excellent, mind you. The lyrics are fantastic. Damon Albarn could have been a poet in his own right, or maybe just a postmodern poet in his own regard. Good stuff.

Entertain Me is a track which could have been trashed. It’s overly long and sounds a little depressing in its own way. In fact, many of the songs on the album could have been done so.

The next one songs really odd, like Glitch music. Especially at the beginning. It’s a strange romantic tale about Yuko and Hiro. This is a good tale with an ordinary musical backdrop. There is some Japanese at the end of the song. Good stuff.

Spoiler alert: hidden track. An instrumental called Ultranol is here and is merely an Ernold Same instrumental backing track. It’s a good way to finish the record.

Overall, Blur’s approach here weakened its public image. But don’t listen to others about the negativity on this album. Look on the bright side, tunes are plenty here. If you are a classy sort of person, this music may be perfect for you.

7/10

Kid Rock – Devil Without A Cause (1998)

Kid Rock seemingly came out of nowhere with this album, but he had spent many years trying to make it. He had three hit and miss albums prior to this landmark release, Devil Without A Cause. He had been arrested and thrown into jail overnight in 1997 upon being signed to his first major label recording deal. However, despite this, this album changed everything.

Bawitdaba begins our journey, and it has some awesome rap like chanting and screaming before bursting into a great rap/rock piece about Kid Rock’s world. It’s got some awesomely humourous and classy lyrics in it. A must listen – and a Kid Rock classic. The guitar riffs are just killer.

Cowboy follows, and is really very funny. It’s got a great chorus and lyrics otherwise. “Riding at night, because I sleep all day.” Cue the hysterical jokes. But that aside, it’s a great musical piece. Kid Rock does well here. Excellent stuff. Laugh out loud funny.

The title track Devil Without A Cause has the most funktastic wah-wah riff introducing us to the said devil himself, Kid Rock. This guy obviously knows how to rock a party, but does it in such a fantastic way that is imitable. The Kid has come of age here, and he would never look back.

The next piece was an early recording re-released for this album. I Am The Bullgod refers to god-knows-what. But it’s a catchy and upbeat piece, and great to listen to. It’s a classic Kid Rock piece, referring to himself as top dog and a pot god. What a legend.

Roving Gangster (Rollin’) is a funky and musically layered and textured piece telling us a little bit about Kid Rock, touring with Ice Cube when he was younger. He also refers to himself as a trucker and various other things. Yep, Kid Rock is self-obsessed but it’s a great listen nonetheless.

Wasting Time is about what Kid Rock likes to do best in his spare time. Believe it or not, the melodies and lyricism stand out well here. It’s not even a standout track but holds up well. “A little bit of love, that’s all I need. A little inspiration, and a bag of weed.” Classy.

The extended Welcome 2 the Party (Ode 2 the Old School) is a great old school rap like piece. It’s got many different sections and different elements to it, and Kid Rock lets loose towards the end. It’s fantastic, proof that Kid Rock was only just beginning in his musical path in life.

The funktastic I Got One for Ya’ is a great song with Kid Rock’s IDGAF attitude prevalent on it. It’s another great pastiche here, with a great outro. How does he do music like this? Only Kid Rock knows, or so we think.

Somebody’s Gotta Feel This is a rock/metal piece that delivers just really well to the listener and sounds rather Black Sabbath-like in its phrasing. It’s mega cool, and Kid Rock sounds inspired here.

Fist Of Rage is a screamer and shows how good Kid Rock is at vocal delivery. It features some well mixed and variable sounds here. It’s almost heavy metal here, except that Kid Rock is delivering it. Well done.

The answer to where Kid Rock gets his inspiration as the Devil Without A Cause is here: Only God Knows Why. It was written as a self-expression type piece starting during that night in jail but becomes a great serious song on its own. It’s self-obsessed as well for sure, but it is really touching as well. Not too bad here.

And after all that, we have a not-so-serious song at all, the rather awful but direct Fuck Off. Yes, that is what it is called. Anyway, it’s got some interesting lyrics. And guess what? An early Eminem part is here at the end, showing Kid Rock’s foresight in terms of recognising future talent. Interesting in that respect. In between this song and the next one, we have some real Kid Rock answering machine messages, which sound brutal. What a devil.

Where U At Rock follows, it’s a relatively catchy piece with Kid Rock showing some attitude here. It’s a little weaker as a song compared to some of the others, but it’s still Kid Rock being himself. Which isn’t a bad thing really, at least on record.

Black Chic, White Guy / I Am The Bullgod is a two-piece track. The first is a messed up true life story about Kid Rock’s life, a bad experience with an ex-girlfriend of his. The latter is a very good rework of I Am The Bullgod, which depending on your view, is either good or unnecessary. But it’s good anyway.

This record went platinum many times over and made Kid Rock famous. It’s a good record full of twists and turns, by a very humourous and selfish person, Kid Rock. Like him or not, he is here to stay in the music world and is no doubt very good at what he does.

8/10