Metal Mania Stripped Vol. 2 - The Anthems
The concept behind Metal Mania is strong – everyone loves to hear their old favourites re-arranged and the unplugged style is certainly something that lends itself favourably to this genre.|
However, the first Mania release was a little lazy, culling the majority of tracks from already released titles. It also left a lot to desire as far as the arrangement.
Mania 2 – The Anthems is a far better and more enjoyable release, but it still has a couple of flaws.
On the positives – this compilation features a few more exclusive new tracks – a total of 8 brand new versions. Those 8 new tracks are the shining lights within the compilation - most obviously because they haven't previously been heard.
That brings us to the main negative with the release. The remaining tracks are from live titles released by the bands themselves. Again, that is ok, but the arrangement of these songs on this compilation (like the first) is relatively poor.
Swapping from a live atmosphere to a new studio performance kills the flow of the record and in a couple of places the live tracks are poorly edited. For example, Bret Michaels' rap to the crowd at the end of Talk Dirty To Me has no relevance in this setting.
A little more care is needed there and it would have benefited the record a great deal to have the live tracks grouped together on the second half of the album, allowing the new tracks to have their rightful place at the front and center of this release.
I'm going to talk about the new tracks on here. Those not mentioned are from other past releases.
The first of the new tracks is possibly the best – especially for myself – a long time Night Ranger fan.
Don't Tell Me You Love Me was the bands launch song and one that has since embedded itself in melodic rock folklore. This is an extremely cool version, stripped back to the basics but still in a full band mode with a new bluesy swagger to it, but still featuring all the energy of the original. The guys add a killer acoustic solo mid-way through and Jack Blades sounds fantastic.
It's always great to hear any new from Tom Keifer and this new version of their big hit Shake Me is very laid back bluesy version and features only vocal, guitar and a little percussion from Fred Coury.
Jani Lane reprises the Warrant breakthrough hit Cherry Pie with acoustic guitar and percussion. Its ok, but I do think the new lead vocal is somewhat rougher and gruffer than the vocal quality Jani used to posses.
Round And Round – the Ratt classic is performed by band vocalist Stephen Pearcy. This is another ok version, stripped right back to one acoustic guitar, but with a little venom injected and like Jani, a raspier vocal.
Madalaine was always a pretty cool anthem from Winger and Kip Winger handles this new version in the same manner as Night Ranger. Punchy, lush with guitars and energetic. Kip Winger surely is the king of acoustic performances.
Smooth Up In Ya by Bullet Boys is very rough, but so was the band. I'm not sure the lead vocals of Marq have held up that well, but it's an attitude filled song.
Nelson has turned in a few acoustic versions of classics already – all quite sensational, so it's no surprise to hear (Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection handled perfectly. Of some surprise is a lack of duel harmonies – I did expect that and missed them a little bit.
The new line-up of L.A. Guns rounds out the new tracks with a ripping version of Sex Action. Time hasn't dulled this tune and the new version sounds fresh and enjoyable.
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