Disney Goes Metal

In its continued effort to cater to its aging audience and their children, Disney has released the latest in a line of industry-wide records focusing on the genre of “Baby Metal.” Performed by the D-Squad Stars, a group of metal musicians from some of the hottest metal bands of all time playing Disney ballads and dance music from the company’s vast catalog of princesses and talking animals.


Metal Disney, as the album is called, features classic Disney songs such as “A Whole New World,” “It’s a Small World,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Under the Sea.” The songs are played with the intensity you’d come to expect from powerhouse metal bands: piercing vocals, slashing guitars and powerful drums.


Members of the album include vocalist Mike Vescera and guitarist John Bruno from Obsession. The lineup is rounded out by former members of Ozzy Osbourne’s band and Dokken, bassist Rudy Sarzo and drummer BJ Zampa respectively.


Metal Disney was recorded in Nashville, Los Angeles and Connecticut and finally released in Japan in 2016. Disney didn’t initially want to release it, but Disney cover albums proved to be highly successful with the country’s eclectic tastes. Albums of animation classics in the vein of jazz and French pop have proven to be highly successful for Disney Music Group Japan, so much so that the metal-loving audience warranted the release of this album.


The album charted at number three on the rock/metal charts number two on the kid’s charts. This success finally led the company to release the record in the United States. Disney is counting on leveraging the fan base of metal in the US as well as cater to children who are fans of the movies but are also exposed to their parents’ musical tastes.


This is not the first time Disney has worked with metal bands and dark culture to cater to its fans. In 2008, Disney released an album entitled Nightmare Revisited, a tribute to A Nightmare Before Christmas. In addition, an annual goth celebration is held each year at Disneyland known as Bats Day. The roughly 7,000 strong attendees wear black Mickey Mouse shirts and band paraphernalia.


Gin Blossoms Celebrate 25 Years of Breakout Record

The Gin Blossoms’ album, New Miserable Experience, turns 25 years old and celebrates with the release of a commemorative vinyl release. Coming on the heels of the announcement of a summer tour with Sugar Ray, Everclear, Lit and Marcy Playground, the Gin Blossoms are standing tall as one of the few respected 1990s bands still around.


Looking back at their breakthrough record, the band has mixed feelings about their recording process and the incidents that occurred within the group at the time. Problems with the label and between bandmates ensued during the recording.


Hailing from Tempe, Arizona, the band was signed by A&M Records and attempted to cut New Miserable Experience in 1991 in Los Angeles. The recording, with a price tag of $100,000, failed to capture the sound or the band. With the threat of being dropped from the label, they headed to Memphis in 1992 to try a hand at recording again at Ardent Studios.


Ardent was the location that produced a number of alt-rock classics from the likes of the Replacements and Big Star. They hired the legendary engineer John Hampton to produce. He brought his experience with fuzzy guitars and pop sensibilities.


The band, however, was in disarray. Studio executives were debating whether to drop the group but were being pressured to release something at the height of the alternative explosion. This was coupled with the fact that guitarist Doug Hopkins, the founder and chief songwriter, had stumbled into alcoholism and bipolar mental illness.


New Miserable Experience was built on the concept of bridging loud pop anthems with lyrics discussing some of the darker aspects of relationships and life in general. The tortured soul of Hopkins was readily observable, particularly with the breakout, “Hey Jealously.”


The song, like the album, did virtually nothing for about a year until the label decided to give it another push. A new video was filmed and MTV picked it up for regular rotation. It was joined by “Found Out About You” helping the Gin Blossoms ride the wave of the alternative sound into the proverbial port.


After 25 years, the band continues to have success as one of the era’s most accessible musical groups. This album allowed the Gin Blossoms to continue recording and touring with only a few brief hiatuses. Today, the recognizable radio hits can still be heard as background music in restaurants and big box stores nationwide.


Fleetwood Mac Reissue Makes Mediocrity Memorable

Fleetwood Mac is the band that just won’t go away. With all five classic members either in their 70’s or knocking on that milestone, it would be understandable if the band took a much-deserved swan dive into wherever old rock heroes go in their old age. The Mac didn’t get that memo. They’re even headlining a big set of summer shows in New York and California.


Not that they can’t still draw a packed house or even headline a bill. Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, and company work a special kind of magic in their concerts. The music is as crisp and harmonious as ever. Most bands would be content with that kind of legacy, but many fans have been clamoring for new music from this iconic outfit. Fleetwood Mac has not released an album of new music since 2003’s Say You Will, an underwhelming effort that left many fans disappointed.


Instead, the band has focused on live and retrospective albums which serve up old classics. The latest effort in this regard is an expanded reissue of Tango In The Night, arguably one of the weakest albums in the band’s catalog. Originally released in 1987 as the glorious MTV 80’s era was beginning to fade, Tango perhaps should have been the group’s swan song.


The reissue includes demos that are meant to convey how songs like “Little Lies” and “Big Love” came together. While those were certainly big hits for Fleetwood Mac, the demos don’t really add that much color to the originals. Buckingham’s solo guitar work on “Big Love” has been a staple of live shows for more than a decade, so it isn’t like fans haven’t heard some of this material before.


Then there are remixes which defy logic. The dub versions of some of the album’s songs are just uncomfortably weird. One has to ask, what’s the point? Even Stevie Nicks recently admitted that an album of new material would be pointless because the sales just wouldn’t be there, yet the remixes on this album come across as a lame attempt to appeal to younger audiences.


Unfortunately, this reissue only calls to mind the mediocrity of the original. There is, however, a glimmer of hope for the faithful. Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie have a new album slated for release sometime in 2017 which features every member of the band except Nicks.