Of all of Black Sabbath’s Ozzy era albums, ‘Technical Ecstasy’ is arguably the LP that splits fan opinion the most. It doesn’t contain any hits. It doesn’t even feature anything that could be considered classic. It often gets overlooked, sandwiched between 1976’s ‘Sabotage’ – a release with some very vocal champions – and 1979’s ‘Never Say Die’, an inventive work that really saw the band beginning to stretch out.
‘Technical Ecstasy’ has always deserved a place in the world purely for the brilliant ‘Back Street Kids’ and the live favourite ‘Dirty Women’ (or as Ozzy was heard to say on the ‘Reunion’ live disc, “Doooorty Wimmin”!). It’s an album that’s overdue a reappraisal.
Unlike a lot of “legacy acts”, Night Ranger are one of those bands that can normally be relied upon for a decent album. Granted, they’ve rarely hit the heights of ‘Dawn Patrol’ and ‘Midnight Madness’ – the one-two punch that kick started their career back in the 80s – but the majority of the band’s best records are driven by great playing and strong song writing. Even the supposedly “non canon” ‘Feeding Off The Mojo’ (lacking founder Jack Blades and featuring a hastily put together band featuring Gary Moon) was home to a few classic tunes, and ‘Somewhere In California’ (their Frontiers Records release from 2011) showcased a band with lots more to give. In fact, it’s only really 1998’s ‘Seven’ – a heavier, Blades dominated work – that missed the mark. As albums go, it was fine enough on it’s own merits, but the slightly more aggressive tones just didn’t always feel like Night Ranger.
Bringing together a few familiar faces from the punk/hardcore scene, Seized Up are a supergroup of sorts. Drummer Andy Granelli was previously a member of Nerve Agents, but reached a far bigger audience when he played on The Distillers’ best selling ‘Coral Fang’ album in 2003; bassist Chuck Platt will be known to a lot of punk fans through his associations with Good Riddance, and vocalist Clifford Densmore is the vocalist with hardcore band Bl’ast. Together, they sound greater than the sum of their parts. On their 2020 debut ‘Brace Yourself’, the combination of pure hardcore blasts (‘Human Locusts’, ‘Older And Wiser’) complimented the more drawn out anger of tracks like ‘Shadow Panther’ to showcase the kind of band that, not only sounded truly comfortable in their new configuration, but more than able to bring a classic hardcore sound up to date if necessary.
As a contrast to the ‘Progessive Pop Sounds’ sets from Cherry Red Records subsidary label, Grapefruit, this anthology from sister outlet Esoteric opts for something far more rock oriented, and although the four disc delve into 1970 doesn’t necessary dig too deep for obscurities, it still plays very well as a compilation in its own right. In a little over four hours, it serves up nostalgia, unfamiliar curiosities and enough genuine classics to give a solid overview of the year’s prog-leaning and guitar heavy sounds.
If you were a metal fan between 1999 and 2001, it almost became impossible to avoid Slipknot for a while. Their debut album gained the band a truckload of magazine coverage and around the turn of the millennium, they became a massive draw at festivals.