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Anthrax – Music of Mass Destruction

So, it’s been a few days, but we’re picking up where we left off with Anthrax’s 2nd live record, ‘Music of Mass Destruction’, recorded during the 2003 ‘We’ve Come for You All’ tour. This would is the one and only live record to feature Jon Bush on vocals and his second to the last release to be featured on with the band. In many ways, it’s is my favorite album from his time with Anthrax, particularly the DVD release. It was the songs featured on this release that got me interested in exploring the Jon Bush records. In fact, it was seeing the band live during this tour which sparked my interest in revisiting this band in the first place.


As I’ve mentioned numerous times in this series I worked with Anthrax for their show at Metropol in the summer of 2003. Though I still technically liked the band, I hadn’t bothered to check any of their records in nearly 10 years at that point. And though I may have played my cassette copies of ‘Spreading the Disease’ or ‘Among the Living’ once or twice through the late 90’s, I never gave the band much thought. They were simply just a band from middle and high school years that I didn’t think about anymore. So I can’t say I was particularly excited that I was going to be working one of their shows. I seem to remember being skeptical about whether Jon Bush could sing Joey Belladonna’s songs. Their voices were so different I just couldn’t picture Bush doing to those songs justice.


So anyway, the day of the show finally arrives and for the most part, it’s a typical day at work for me. We load sound in first, then Anthrax’s crew shows up and we load them in. I don’t remember there being anything special about the load in. I seem to remember the crew being cool and easy to work with, and them not having too much stuff. In this business, if you can’t remember anything about loading in a band or dealing with their crew, chances are it went smoothly and was an easy enough day.


The only thing that sort of stood out during load in was briefly meeting Scott Ian. It wasn’t like we had much of an exchange, he just got off the bus and came into the venue and said hi to all of us stage hands and thanked us for helping as he walked by. But what stood out for me was how short he was. He’s shorter than me, in fact, almost the whole band was. That may sound weird, but it was one of the first times I met a band I grew up with, and I guess I always pictured them as being taller. Aside from that, there isn’t too much to talk about with the load in.


Opening the show was Lacuna Coil, a band that I was somewhat into at the time and I was more interested in seeing them than I was Anthrax. Again, I don’t really remember there being much of an issue with getting them in and on stage.


Eventually, the show started, Lacuna Coil played their set, which was good, and we started to load them out. Due to limitations of space, we pretty much loaded all their gear out into the street and broke everything down out there. That was pretty much the case for most opening bands at this venue. Sometimes it sucked, sometimes it was ok. Anyway, while we were finishing up with Lacuna Coil’s trailer I could hear Anthrax start their set. The opened with a tune I didn’t know, (What Doesn’t Die), but they sounded good. The second song, ‘Got the Time’, I did know, but couldn’t really judge because I was busy packing a trailer. By the time were done we could go back inside and watch Anthrax’s set, they were on to their 3rd song, ‘Caught in a Mosh’, one of my favorite by them. I remember walking in just as they were going into the first chorus and being blown away with how awesome it sounded. My worries about Jon Bush being able to sing Joey Belladonna’s songs evaporated. Not only was he nailing it, he was doing a better job. In that moment, I was sold on Jon Bush and became a fan.


Amway the rest of the set was pretty much of mixture of songs from the band’s entire catalog. They played at least a song or two off every record except for ‘Spreading the Disease’. Overall, they did favor the Jon Bush era, and the new record, but at the same time they pulled out a song from ‘Fistful of Metal’ and their cover of ‘Bring the Noise’. They really did their best to play a little bit of something for everyone, no matter what era or singer you preferred, you got at least one song for you. As to be expected, they performed everything to near perfection. They were tight as hell, full of energy, and engaged the crowd between every song. Even one of the door guys working the show, who was not a metal head at all admitted to me they were great and highly entertaining.


Unfortunately, the load did not go as uneventful as the load in. Thanks to one of my useless co-workers, we nearly dropped Frank Bello’s rack’s, worth tens of thousands of dollars, off the ramp. It was saved only by me and another stage hands effort to stop it from falling. Plus, the runner for the show decided to get all fucked up during the show and got into an argument with some of Anthrax’s guys and broke a beer bottle on the stage. Needless to say, it was a bad vibe during load out. Which is a shame because it didn’t need to be that way. Anthrax’s guys were cool and didn’t deserve to have their equipment destroyed, or their bus driver killed because the runner was all fucked up. Thankfully none of the happened, but the potential was there. Ultimately, I walked away from that gig embarrassed by the actions of a some of my co-workers.


Remember in one of my earlier posts when I said I wanted to ask Charlie Benante about getting hit in the head with a cup at the Clash of the Titan show? Well, the best chance I had for that happened that night. I found myself walking with Charlie out of the venue and down the street for a few minutes. He was walking toward his bus, and I don’t remember where I was going. Anyway, we were walking next to each, not saying anything, and I was so tempted to ask him about that show. But I chickened out. Oh well.


So anyway, ‘Music of Mass Destruction’ was a CD/DVD release for that tour I worked, and it pretty much the exact same set they played that night. Which is why I can remember it so well. Essentially, it’s a greatest hits record covering their entire career at that point. If I were to recommend someone just one record from the Jon Bush years it would be this album. You get the best songs from his time with the band, plus killer versions of the classic songs. Though the CD is great, I prefer the DVD because there is at least a half hour or more music on it. Most of the extra songs cover the classic tunes, including a killer version of ‘Bring the Noise’. Unfortunately, this record came out on Sanctuary records and isn’t available on Spotify and is somewhat hard to find. But the DVD is available in full on YouTube. So, if you’re interested you can check it out there.


AC/DC – Back Tracks

So today we conclude the AC/DC section of my collection with a 2 Cd 1 DVD box set ‘Back Tracks’. A collection of rare and unreleased studio and live tracks. Plus, a DVD of various promotional videos. Not my favorite title from AC/DC in my collection, in fact somewhere in the last few years I apparently decided it wasn’t even worth having in my iTunes library and I had to reimport it to be able to do this review. I suspect that may have more due to accidental oversight than intentional because there several songs on the first disc that I like quite a bit and would never have deleted them. The second disc though…


Disc 1 of this collection is labeled “Studio Rarities” and is an assortment of B-Sides, movie soundtrack songs or version that only appeared on the Australian release of their early records. It is easily the best part of this set and the only reason worth owning it. And if you have been paying attention to these write ups over the last week, you can probably guess why. If you said because there are a lot of Bon Scott songs, you’d be correct. Though some of the production quality of these tunes aren’t up to the standards of their proper releases, there are some good songs on here that offer a different side of the band. Most notably is the song ‘Love Song’ which appeared on the band’s Australian debut record. To my knowledge, it is the bands only real ballad they ever recorded. Now I’ll admit it sounds like an Alice Cooper rip-off and isn’t the greatest song ever, but after listening to 11 albums worth of in your face ball busting rockers by this band. It’s kind of nice to hear them attempt to do something a little gentler. The rest of the CD goes the way you’d expect. The Bon Scott era songs are fun and entertaining. But when you get the Brian Johnson songs, they start out ok and get lamer and lamer as they progress through the years. Thankfully there are more Scott than Johnson songs on this disc.


The second disc is labeled “Live” and is exactly what it says it is. Though the disc is essentially split 50/50 between the two singer’s songs, sadly the majority are performed by Brian Johnson, which is somewhat of a disappointment*. Another let down of this set is that there really nothing rare about any of the songs on this disc. Though they may be rare versions of these tunes, it’s mainly their most popular and over played songs. I don’t even have to list the titles, just think of 10 or 12 of the last AC/DC songs you were subjected to on the radio in the last month and you know which songs are included in this collection. Now I get it, these are a collection of B sides, singles, and soundtrack songs, and it’s rather common for a band to include live versions of their most popular songs as B-side and bonuses. But as a music nerd, I want to hear songs I don’t hear every day. To be honest, when I was listening to the CD’s last night after about 6 or 7 songs of this disc I got bored and turned it off and threw on the DVD.


Which brings me to the final disc of this box set, the DVD, which is mainly promotional videos for a bunch of songs that I think originally appeared on various sound tracks over the years. For the most part, all the video’s and the songs are terrible. There is one song which Arnold Shwarzenegger is lurking about, which is moderately amusing for 30 seconds. The rest are easily forgettable songs featuring the band in various situations where they are rocking out. After the first two videos’ I couldn’t make it past the first chorus of each song before I skipped to the next tune. The only video’s I found worth watching were the few Bon Scott songs that are buried toward the end of the DVD. Even those are kind of painful.


While trying to make my way through this DVD last night, one thing stood out to me. For the past 40 years, AC/DC has not only been writing the same song over and over again, they have been making the same video repeatedly through that same time. For real, jump on YouTube and search AC/DC promotional video’s and you’ll see the same thing over and over again. All five band members will be standing in the same spot pretending to be playing the song the exact same way for every tune. Angus Young will be the only one running around, but even then, he’ll doing the exact same moves in every video. Brian Johnson will be standing in the same awkward positions pretending to scream but looking like he is not sure what he’s doing. For the few Bon Scott videos, he doesn’t even try to pretend to be singing the songs. (Though he does appear to be enjoying himself). The only difference from song to song will be the scenario that the band is rocking out in and how much effort the band decided they want to put into pretending to be playing the song. That’s it.


The only video I’d say is worth checking out is ‘It’s a Long Way to the Top (If you Wanna Rock N Roll)’. Only for the fact you get to watch the band set up in a court yard of what looks like a college campus with about 50 people standing around them looking completely confused as to what they are watching. Plus, you get to watch Bon Scott rock out on the bagpipes. That alone it worth the 3 minutes of your day.


*That’s not fair to say, he performs these songs just fine.