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Black Label Society Hangover Music, Vol. VI

By Al Hall, Contributor
Monday, May 3, 2004 @ 1:27 PM


(Spitfire)

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After a few initial spins, here's a review of the new, mellow (with bits of "heavy") BLS CD Hangover Music, Vol. 6. A quick sum-up: just typical Zakk amazing, but with some relatively small weak spots... BUT that may only be my opinion because I prefer Zakk with an axe in his hands as opposed to pretending he's Elton John at the piano. The songs:

1)"Crazy Or High": Instant favorite, or ONE of my favorites. Had to play along and try to learn it immediately. This is how I like my acoustic Zakk. Very Pride & Glory vibe and a cool groove for the chorus. Total metal for the solo. And I do love when Zakk yells as he's singing....

2)"Queen Of Sorrow": Another complete winner, very similar to his version of Neil Young's "Heart Of Gold." Rocked-up country vibe, another song that would fit perfectly on P & G with the background slide guitar. And out of nowhere, the Zakk pinch harmonics are all over the solo. Goddamn, it's playing as I type this... yep, it goes in the favorites bin.

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3)"Steppin' Stone": Pretty dark, foreboding tone, with the bell tolling in the background, Undertaker-style. Takes a while to get rolling, and then kind of meanders along to a great chorus. A good song, not as good as #1 and #2, but a really, really tasty solo...

4)"Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow": Yikes, first piano cut of the CD. I won't say its bad, but unless Zakk's playing "Changes" with Ozzy, I really don't care for him behind a baby Grand. Relatively sad, bittersweet song, but not what I'm shopping for.

5)"Takillya (Estyabon)": A 40 -econd nod to classical/flamenco genius Esteban (at least I think it is) that is blistering, and makes me want to burn all my guitars because I have just been reminded that I will suck forever....

6)"Won't Find It Here": BAM! Another favorite acoustic ditty. Zakk's vox are really good on this, very heartfelt and wrenching... Great chord movement in the chorus that totally hooks you in. Excellent, tasty solo, again fitting perfectly in the way this song moves.

7)"She Deserves A Free Ride": I think this may be the most country-ish song on the disc. Really, more Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young than the Allman Brothers...

8)"House Of Doom": Hello, awesome Alice In Chains vibe!! I don't care how much this song is blatantly similar to "No Excuses," I love this song, especially the heavy, in-your-face chorus!

9)"Damage Is Done": Piano track #2, but I like this one much, much better than the other. A MUCH sadder song with great country bends on the background guitar. Fantastic short acoustic solo, right to the point. This tune has that feel that it's destined to be a classic break-up/make-up song...

10)"Layne": Great song in the memory of Staley. Although I think Zakk is trying to sing like him, and it would have been that much better to have Jerry Cantrell provide harmonies for the vocals. Still, my favorite lyrics on the CD, and great Zakk "anguished yelling." This song moves from mellow to heavy and back again a few times. Love the line, "I'm just biddin' my time....'til I wave good-bye."

11)"Woman Don't Cry": Another sad piano track. Again, nice, but doesn't do much for me, except for the noticeably emotional solo...

12)"No Other": Another favorite on the CD, this has a vibe that's Alice In Chains' Sap mixed with the best traits of Pride & Glory. I'd have to rank this song, along with the 1st, 6th, and 8th songs, as the high water marks of this more-than-worthwhile disc.

13)"Whiter Shade Of Pale": When I read that Zakk was doing this, I was hoping for a guitar-orientated version. Alas, this is just Zakk and the piano. But a really great vocal job by him, on what HAS to be a difficult song to sing. I just wish he decided to rock it up a bit and do something different with it.

14)"Once More": A ballad that I would swear on my life that I hear some Nazareth in the vocals. So-so, doesn't hook me in, and almost has me reaching for the "next" button.... until the acoustic solo kicks in... and if it's one thing I've learned, it's that you always gotta stay for the solo if it's Zakk playing!

15)"Fear": Finishing out the disc is this piano track that has a very haunting, dark mood throughout. It doesn't suck, but only the paint-peeling guitar solo keeps me from restarting the CD (see previous comment about solos) to get back to the excellent first track.

All in all, fifteen songs, ten great tracks (4 or 5 that I would qualify as SCARY good), and only five or so that haven't grown on me yet because of the emphasis on piano. But, on this disc, even the mediocre tunes usually redeem themselves with an expectedly killer solo. This will definitely make a good mix for the car with material from Book Of Shadows.

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