Album Review: Psycho Motel /Welcome To The World/

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3 avr. 2009, 3h54m

This is a reveiw of Psycho Motel's Welcome to the World in response to Grant's suggestion that it could/should possibly be the in contention for my Album Of The Year for 1997.

Psycho Motel is Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith's solo project that he launched while away from Maiden in the mid-1990s. They put out two albums, and Grant was kind enough to alert me to their existence via his own entry last year and more recently help me get ahold of them. I'll review this one first, since it's his favorite of the two, and we'll take a look at State of Mind before too long.

Some of these tracks were briefly reviewed in the thread for the AotY 1997 post, and are reproduced here for completeness.

The Last Chain: I cannot listen to this song Be All, End All in my head, but that doesn't mean it's not good. Earns a dot.

A Quarter To Heaven: This has a nice pulsing urgency to it. I think I'd like it even better with a different vocalist. That doesn't mean Andy Makin is a bad vocalist; he's actually excellent. It's just that the vocal style seems to "feel" mid-/late-90s, and kind of reminds me of something like maybe STP or AiC. Saved by Adrian's work, though, and earns a dot.

Rain: There's of course some interesting guitar play here, but this doesn't feel like a full-developed song. It kind of stalls out and gets repetitive over the last minute-and-a-half. No dot.

Believe: I didn't like this one at first but it's a grower. I initially liked only the guitar work but eventually warmed to the nice work of the rhythm section here. Dotted track.

With You Again: Thankfully they resisted any thoughts of making this an acoustic-only song, which would have supremely sucked! Instead they went the opposite direction and had Dave Murray join in for a fantastic dual guitar interplay. To my ears, I say Dave Murray opens the guitar break at 2:58, followed by Adrian at 3:16, and then both of them at 3:26. And they both close the song together! Definitely earns a dot.

Into the Black: Some good things going on here but not quite enough for a full dot. Just a pale red dot (half point).

No Loss To Me: ...is no gain to me. Just OK, but not entirely memorable. No dot.

Underground: Not much to say about this track other than I like the soaring instrumental lines. This sounds like a Stone Temple Pilots song. Gets a dot though, which is fortunate thing because otherwise the center of this album would be a weak streak that would challenge the listener to get through to the good stuff in the back half.

Welcome to the World: The guitar solo is entirely what makes what I like of the title track. The back-and-forth tempo changes kind of bother me, and the first couple of minutes tend to lose my attention. No dot.

Something Real: What I like best about this are actually the vocals and the vocal effects - very well done - and the closing guitar solo inside the final minute. This track definitely gets a dot.

Innocence: zzzzz....no dot. A supremely annoying thing about 90s-era albums in particular is that tendency to sandwich a "mellow" track between two rockers. The song is not a bad song (though not good enough for a dot) but I don't want it here. Put it at the end to close out the album.

I'm Alive: We get the contribution of Scott Gorham here and it's easy to hear. This song has a bit of a swing to it, and the blusey feel works nicely. Dotted track.

Hypocrisy: No, I don't like the "groovy" subdivision on the vocals here. No dot.

Wait: The first of the two bonus tracks from the re-release, both of which feature first-album vocalist Solli. (Why are they bonus tracks on this album, instead of being on the re-release of State Of Mind?) I don't really like it too much. I actually find myself wanting to skip these two tracks. No dot.

Just Like A Woman: This sounds like something by Mr. Big*. But I'm making generalizations and mostly ignorant about early-mid-90s bands that sat down and churned out songs like this. For that matter, it might also sound like the B-side to More Than Words to my ears. Anyway, no dot and glad it's the last track on here. Should be paired with "Innocence."

So that leaves us with an RDF of 57.6% (7.5/13) for the original release, excluding re-release bonus tracks (as I typically do). That's a bit of a harsh score given Grant's high opinion of it, but it's not meant to be unfair. I did give this several fair listens beyond what I normally give anything new since this is Adrian's project. It's at least competitive enough to have made honorable mention and actually competitive with a couple of songs in the Top 5 for 1997.

However, the real question remains: is it better than any of the Iron Maiden albums of the 1990s, as Grant has asserted? It may come as a consolation that, if comparing on the basis of RDF, it is in fact better than any of the 90s Maiden albums! The best scorer of that bunch is Fear of the Dark, which only scores a 41.7% RDF. Now I must admit that my favorite songs from the 90s Maiden albums are all preferred to my favorites from this album. However, those albums also yield my most hated Maiden songs, so I think it is safe to say that Adrian & gang did quite well with this and did in fact manage to top Maiden in those dark years!

\m/ (ò_ó) \m/

*non-sequitir (or something that barely follows): I caught Billy Sheehan on Eddie Trunk's show the other night talking about the Mr. Big reunion that's happening this year.
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Commentaires

  • GrantRS

    So on RDF, it would displace Rammstein for 5th place in your 1997 AotY awards? Why do I get the feeling Mr. Big and Extreme have been misrepresented to you by acoustic hit singles? Unsurprisingly my reaction overall is that you've been kind of harsh, but you already know I love this album. Generally the ones you refused to dot are the ones I think are perhaps slightly weaker than the rest, but the title track is one of my favourites on the album. I guess I like changing tempos mid-song and that kind of thing. I think Rain and Innocence are ones that grow on you after a bit though, first several times through I thought they were by far the weakest two, but I grew to like them. Same goes for the bonus tracks, although I suppose it's then 'weakest 4'. I'll be looking forward to seeing what you think of the first album. I'm going to predict (based on the two bonus tracks here) that it'll score lower, but it certainly has more of a classic rock vocal style to it and there's definitely more elements of psychedlia in there. At the very least it'll be interesting to see if you agree with me on what the top three tracks of [i]State of Mind[/i] are because I definitely have a top 3 on there. Incidentally, Fear of the Dark is my least favourite Maiden album, which yields (both) my all time least favourite Maiden tracks: Childhood's End and Fear is the Key.

    3 avr. 2009, 10h42m
  • sablespecter

    I'd actually take a little qualitative freedom and move it ahead of Sarah McLachlan, too! She might have had a good album then, but come on: she's Sarah, and this is Adrian (and Dave)! Mr. Big and Extreme have been misrepresented only because they were misrepresented by mainstream radio hits. I have listened beyond that but haven't found a lot that I like. I like to bring up those hits as kind of a dig...but lots of great talent! Sorry to have been harsh. But at least I can support you evaluation of it RE: Maiden's 90s albums! The first album does score lower. I have my evaluation already and will share it before too long. Just don't want to hog the shoutbox, either. I look forward to comparing a Top 3 and will definitely identify them! I actually like Childhood's End! Maybe because I liked the book, but it has some really good stuff in there. Even though [i]Fear of The Dark[/i] is the best RDF scorer of the 90s, my all-time least favorite Maiden tracks are also on there: The Apparition (AWFUL!) and Weekend Warrior (DUMB). I think they made the right move after that album by taking some time to change up the lineup for the rest of the 90s. I don't think they'd be here today without those years apart.

    4 avr. 2009, 15h08m
  • GrantRS

    [quote]I think they made the right move after that album by taking some time to change up the lineup for the rest of the 90s. I don't think they'd be here today without those years apart.[/quote] You say that as though it was a co-ordinated decision. Don't forget, it was only Bruce that left after Fear of the Dark. I think Bruce had to go at that point though, he was either developing a different (and IMO worse) style or compensating for losing some ability throughout the early 90s - Dive Dive Dive and Be Quick or Be Dead in particular just don't sound like Bruce did at any other time. If he was struggling after the heavy touring though he was back in very good shape for Tears of the Dragon! re: State of Mind though: I hope you found at least three tracks you liked on the first album!

    6 avr. 2009, 20h11m
  • sablespecter

    [quote]You say that as though it was a co-ordinated decision.[/quote] Yeah, that wasn't the best way to say it. The point being, though, that had Bruce not decided to leave on his own, things would have got...complicated. Proof is in one of the all-time worst albums ever: Balls To Picasso. A resounding 0% RDF album. I can't imagine why he felt a need to get that mess out of his system. Or why it was in his system to begin with. No worries: there are more than three dotted tracks on [i]State of Mind[/i]!

    14 avr. 2009, 2h57m
  • GrantRS

    No dot for Tears of the Dragon? I can understand no dot for Shoot All the Clowns though, especially if you know the story behind its creation.

    14 avr. 2009, 10h41m
  • sablespecter

    Eh, I might be convinced to give it a half-dot on the basis of the guitar work in the middle of the piece. I don't know, maybe. I did give it a somewhat half-hearted nod in the review of Bruce's solo works. (Which was almost exactly a year ago, and brings you and I about full-circle, doesn't it?) I suppose I should add it to the collection. I do have Man Of Sorrows, and that doesn't exactly rock any harder, does it? I just always get visions of everyone holding lighters up for this song, and that annoys me. Just my stupid hangups, I guess. I don't know the story behind "Shoot All The Clowns." Do I even want to know? Please tell me it's not going to crater my lofty adulation of Bruce. The cover art for the single alone almost does that!

    15 avr. 2009, 3h12m
  • GrantRS

    Bruce tells the story behind the writing of Shoot All The Clowns on his 3 disc Anthology DVD, and I guarantee you his telling of the story will be better than mine. Essentially though, it was the last track written for the album - Bruce considered the album finished before Shoot All The Clowns was added, but when he played it to the record execs they said it didn't sound enough like Aerosmith and that they'd only release it if he wrote an extra track that sounded like Aerosmith so they could market it as a single. They didn't give Bruce many more specifications than that so he regrouped the next day with Roy Z and asked him to play something that sounded like an Aerosmith riff - he did - and Bruce came up with the chorus immediately then wrote the rest of the song around that in a very short space of time (if I remember correctly it was less than an hour). So it's basically the time old written-to-label-specifications story, like I said though Bruce tells the story better than I can. re: Your review of Bruce's solo works: I notice I recommended Bruce's anthology DVD set in that thread too and either no one's taking my advice or you didn't hang on Bruce's every word when watching it. Some fans you guys are. lol.

    15 avr. 2009, 13h25m
  • sablespecter

    That's stupid. Like so many other music biz things. Why would they pick Aerosmith anyway? Since Bruce doesn't sound anything like Steven Tyler and none of Bruce's bands have ever sounded like Aerosmith and there's any other number of bands they could have picked, knowing all the cover songs he's recorded and bands he likes. Maybe Bruce likes Aerosmith, I don't know, but why not say, "go do something that sounds like Thin Lizzy or Montrose or UFO" since he did covers of their songs. Maybe he should have just done a cover of "Kings and Queens" - which actually would have been cool. But I don't know this story not because I didn't listen to the thing closely. I just don't have this. I'm not a Bruce completist. I haven't even got [i]Skunkworks[/i] yet even after your high recommendation. [i]Anthology[/i] is on the scroll but kind of far down. Mainly because I don't like even the studio recordings of many of the songs in the first performance, don't yet know if I like the Skunkworks tracks, disc two is kind of interesting but supposedly not great quality, and I don't need all the videos. But I look for it sometimes in the used DVD racks.

    16 avr. 2009, 0h11m
  • GrantRS

    [i]Anthology[/i] is so worth having for the quantity of stuff on there. 3 live shows with not much duplication of tracks must, surely, put it on most people's wishlists! Yes, the quality of the footage leaves something to be desired but so did [i]Death on the Road[/i]. The sound quality is certainly ample and the footage is more than passable, plus you get loads of banter from Bruce about the making of his promo videos and stories behind songs and Samson's [i]Biceps of Steel[/i]!! All for a reasonable RRP.

    16 avr. 2009, 11h57m
  • sablespecter

    [quote]3 live shows with not much duplication of tracks must, surely, put it on most people's wishlists[/quote] And so it is! But as used, not for the $25 new I see here. Plus I'm generally slower to get ahold of any DVDs other than Maiden stuff. The thing with this is, I'm a fan of only about half the tracks on the first disc. But once I get ahold of Skunkworks, there might be enough here to warrant it. I do want to see the live version of "Son Of A Gun" for sure, plus the "Scream for Me Brazil" tracks and the backstories for the video and [i]Tyranny of Souls[/i]. So we're almost there...

    21 avr. 2009, 7h45m
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