I’m flying back to Los Angeles from New York as I type this and, while I’m not the biggest fan of Los Angeles in general, I can’t wait to get my body back on a clock it comprehends. For all the flying I do (and I do a lot), flying west to east still wreaks havoc on my already chaotic sleep patterns. At a loss, I asked Chris Jericho - one of the few people I know well who flies a lot more than I do - for his advice on handling jet lag, and he said, “You just do, don’t be a baby.” I responded with a meme of a bearded man with a pacifier in his mouth before realizing that probably has some other connotation in the year 2022. Oh well, I’ll blame it on fatigue... Which is where I’m also placing the blame for this week’s Heavy Hitters. Here are four pieces of vinyl worth adding to your collection, all somehow linked to my inability to adjust to Eastern Standard Time…
CINDERELLA Night Songs
Insomniacs of the rockin’ world unite, we have the cornerstone to our soundtrack – Cinderella did more to put purple in fashion than anyone not named Prince, and they did it with a debut album that continues to make rafters sweat and bedposts shake nearly four decades later. Sure, nothing screams 1986 quite like the Night Songs album cover. And that shit you ate for breakfast? It’ll probably give you cancer even faster now. But this 10-track tour-de-force never gets old, sounding as fresh today as it did the day the wind first blew through our speakers, the clock struck midnight, wolves howled and we heard Tom Keifer’s inimitable vocals ask us for a shot of gasoline. The 36-minute free fall of a debut is like reliving the best parts of the all-nighter, without the hangover. “Shake Me”? Yes please. “In From the Outside”? Hell yeah. And everyone sleeps better after a little “Push, Push.” I'm no fool (nobody's fool), and there isn’t a big-haired band from the ‘80s better suited for the faint crackle of vinyl than Cinderella.
ALICE COOPER Welcome to My Nightmare
If there is any one Alice Cooper album that should be in every vinyl collection, it’s this diabolically beautiful 1975 masterpiece that has influenced as many artists as breasts, booze and the Beatles combined. I love my Apple Music more than the next three guys, but streaming this album is like riding the moving walkway at the airport – just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Welcome to My Nightmare was made for vinyl, and from the title track and blistering bite of “The Black Widow,” through the snappy swing of “Some Folks,” the poetic genius of “Only Women Bleed” and the raucous kerfuffle of “Department of Youth,” this album is reason enough to buy a turntable. And that’s only Side 1! “Cold Ethyl,” “Years Ago” and “Steven” continue our nightmare with as chilling a trilogy of terror as has ever opened a Side 2. I recently paid more than I probably should have for a nice original issue of this classic, and about a week later we stocked this reissue pressed on clear vinyl in the Metal Edge shop. My loss is your gain!
I still remember hearing “Enter Sandman” for the first time in 1991. It was a behemoth of a hit for our underground heroes, and a mission statement for the next phase of Metallica’s career. The band were like a champion athlete returning from the off-season leaner and more limber, boasting chiseled abs where they once relied on brute force. And like their very name now implies, this self-titled album transcended the genre they helped to forge. The opening trio of “Enter Sandman,” “Sad But True” and “Holier Than Thou” melts our faces, we get a brief change of pace from “The Unforgiven,” then “Wherever I May Roam,” “Don’t Tread on Me” and “Through The Never” bolt us into the chair and tighten the screws. Another slight reprieve with “Nothing Else Matters,” then they carry us home with “Of Wolf And Man,” “The God That Failed,” "My Friend Of Misery” and “The Struggle Within.” Appropriately dubbed the black album for both its historic girth and grandeur, this 2-LP vinyl belongs in every collection.
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS Shangri-La Dee Da
I tried taking “A Song for Sleeping” literally – instead, the track pulled me into the Beatles-esque depths of this vastly underrated platter of Stone Temple Pilots pop pageantry. Keeping score at home? That’s alliteration one, sleep depravation nothing. Shangri-La Dee Da doesn’t boast the hit parade of the prior four STP studio offerings, but there’s something on this 13-track vinyl excursion for everyone. “Days of the Week” was the album’s hit single, and its technicolor rainbow of melodies is as infectious today as it was 20 years ago. I’m sure it’s no mistake that “Hollywood Bitch” offsets seedy musical discord with a cherubic chorus - kinda like this girl I once knew. “Wonderful” is, well, wonderful, a supple wind-down of a song that soothes the savage mind and bleeds into the similarly soft in the middle “Black Again” and the peaceful easy “Hello It’s Late.” There are plenty of moments of post-grunge dissonance here, but for the most part this is a kinder, gentler Stone Temple Pilots – and I like them that way.