War Pig – The Future of War and Assassination

Watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlO2gcs1YvM

The scary thing is that this is probably being developed somewhere as we speak. We can see where this will be possibly rather shortly. The US, Europe, China, Russia. This video is scary because within a short span of years, maybe this year, it WILL become reality. Then it will “fall into the wrong hands.” Imagine ISIS releasing 300 of those near Times Square on New Years Eve? Or the next Presidential Inauguration. Or the Super Bowl? If it is possible, it will be built. The appetite for these things will be so great you will not be able to suppress their manufacture or dispersal.

Technological advancement is coming so fast it will soon be out of our ability to control it entirely. Skynet. We can’t even secure the Internet, for crying out loud. Any nation with some money and the ability to grow their own or import technical expertise will be doing this sort of thing. Just as drug cartels bought and grew their own chemical engineering expertise, so will terrorist organizations (some of which are still well-funded). This is the future of terror, this is the future of asymmetrical war, this is the future of criminal cartels and groups to eliminate rivals and also politicians/ cops/ judges/ prosecutors with whom they have problems. The good guys could retaliate, but the faces of cops, judges, senators, prime ministers, etc are well known while most drug cartel members aren’t.

Major players in technology such as the US, China, Israel, Russia, India, Europe and South Korea probably already have the capability or will as soon as the art reaches that point. North Korea and Pakistan will not be far behind. Pakistan and the Chinese both will sell anything to anyone for enough money. Pakistan sold nuclear weapons technology and expertise to both Iraq, then later, Iran. Israel’s Mossad cannot kill them all. At least not until the Israelis, major technology players, make their own little death droids.

Any leader or any member of government can be killed almost assuredly. I could easily plan such an attack if the technology was available that would kill almost every member of congress, the President, VP, Supreme Court and anyone else in the chain of command of any of the three branches of government in one fell swoop. If I can, many more could plan it even better. We could end up with the Secretary of Agriculture in charge of the entire government and nation.

Defense? None that I know of if they are AI controlled and not in communication with a base station which could be jammed or hacked. Maybe all our politicians would have to wear Guy Fawkes masks 24/7? But the drones would simply kill anyone in such a mask. Besides, biometrics are already at the point where the face itself is not necessary to ID someone.

Results? Total anarchy.

War Pig – Chinese Admiral Shoots His Mouth Off

A Chinese admiral said to settle the US “problem” they should maybe sink two US supercarriers, causing up to 10,000 US casualties and the loss of two multi-billion-dollar assets.

Has he considered that it would be an act of war? An act of war against the single most powerful military on the planet? Commanded by a man who would love nothing more than to reply with massive retaliation?

Donald Trump is no Obama. He would not apologize to the Chinese for allowing them to sink two of our carriers. Trump will come out swinging for the fences. Literally anything short of nuclear weapons would be used. Maybe even tactical nukes, if that is how China attacks our carriers. I can’t think of another way they could sink two of them at once. Just because the Chinese admiral could care less about losing 10,000 sailors (there’s plenty more where those came from) does not mean Americans are so cavalier about the lives of our men AND WOMEN in uniform. He totally misjudges what the American response would be to such a dastardly attack. Kill off several thousands of our men and women in uniform in a sneak attack and we as a people begin to foam at the mouth and shout; “Kill ‘em all, and let Satan sort them out!” The last time someone pulled off a huge sneak attack in the Pacific, we firebombed their capital and nuked two off their major cities, as well as sinking most of their fleet. Making Americans so mad they can’t see straight is NOT a good thing. We are not safe to play with when we’re copping an attitude.

 

ECONOMICS:

How insane is it to contemplate committing an act of war against your largest trading partner? If the Chinese are not liking the current sanctions, they’d really hate a total embargo and blockade of all their ports. No ships in or out. Any naval vessels in port sunk, any naval vessels still at sea when the attack occurs would be sunk. Their merchant fleet would be chained to neutral harbors. Our NATO allies (basically the wealthiest group of nations on the planet outside of China) would be forced to seize any Chinese ships in their ports until the end of hostilities. Merchantmen and naval vessels (not many naval vessels outside of Chinese waters) alike would be impounded in port. Does the good admiral realize how much trade goes by water to both the US and NATO countries? NATO represents the wealthiest “club” on the planet. Trade with the US and Europe would be halted. Trade with UK Commonwealth nations would halt or be severely curtailed. Trade with South Korea, Australia, Japan, Brunei, the Philippines and India would also cease. China could not send goods to or from the Middle East either as the US fleet would see to that. China would suffer from extreme pecuniary strangulation not to mention loss of all imports of energy and raw materials that come by sea, which is something like 90% of their imports.

All China would be able to export would be either overland or by overland air routes that do not cross a US ally’s or Commonwealth member’s airspace. All of their seaborne trade would halt as the US navy still rules the waves, let alone the assistance of Australia, Japan, South Korea, the UK, et al, even if the NATO countries did not intervene militarily. Nothing in, nothing out. That would be a very effective way to ruin their economy and bankrupt them. Remember, the business of America is business. And when total economic war is declared we are very good at it.

 

MILITARY:

 

AMERICA: China is a paper tiger. In a sneak attack they may do some damage, and their submarines can be troublesome but the US and its allies will have air supremacy in short order. Look at US assets in the Pacific theater. Aircraft, bases, weapons. Strategically place to cut China off in a dozen places. Attacks against China proper can occur from almost any of them.

 

NATO allies are obligated to respond against an attack on any member. Even Canada responded after 9/11.  So, NATO member assets at sea will engage Chinese naval vessels and board and seize Chinese merchantmen. Any “neutral” ships bound for China would be ordered back to their home ports – or else they would also be boarded and seized. Any Chinese made or bound cargo would also be subject to angary, even from neutral shipping.

Sinking a US supercarrier is easy enough to say, but it is incredibly difficult to pull off. The US has not lost a carrier in combat since the Essex class was commissioned during WWII. US carriers are very mobile and very well protected. If one is attacked the rest go on full alert and anything which enters their area is attacked if not positively identified as friendly. That means anything which returns an echo underwater is going to get depth-bombed and/or torpedoed. Sorry, whales.

US supercarriers are designed to absorb punishment and keep on fighting, and their abilities to defend themselves are not to be despised. There are rings of defense that stretch out hundreds of miles in all directions, from the sea floor to the edge of space. Aegis class defenders can take down even the supposed Chinese “ship-killing ballistic missiles”. Lesser missiles pose even less of the threat as they have to pass through rings of aircraft, missiles and dozens of radars and other sensors. Right up to the various close-in last ditch defenses of Gatling guns and Rolling Air Frame missiles on the carrier itself. E2D Hawkeye aircraft are extremely capable in detecting threats and directing assets against them. The new F-35 variants are themselves very powerful detection and tracking platforms who can also fire on threats. The US fleet has very sophisticated counter measures as well.

Now let’s look at the opposing players. A US Carrier Strike Group (and we have eleven of them) commonly consists of (from Wiki):

A supercarrier, which is the centerpiece of the strike group and also serves as the flagship for the CSG Commander and respective staff. The carrier is commanded by an aviation community captain.

  • A Carrier Air Wing (CVW) typically consisting of up to nine squadrons. Carrier air wings are commanded by an aviation community captain (or occasionally a Marine colonel).
  • One or two Aegis guided missile cruisers (CG) of the Ticonderoga class—a multi-mission surface combatant, equipped with BGM-109 Tomahawk missiles for long-range strike capability, each commanded by a surface community captain.
  • A destroyer squadron (DESRON) commanded by a surface community captain (O-6) who commands the escort destroyers, with two to three guided missile destroyers (DDG), of the Arleigh Burke class—a multi-mission surface combatant, used primarily for anti-aircraft (AAW) and anti-submarine (ASW) warfare, but which also carries Tomahawk missiles for long-range strike capability. A destroyer is commanded by a surface community commander.
  • Up to two attack submarines, used to screen the strike group against hostile surface ships and submarines, but which also carry Tomahawk missiles for long-range strike capability.
  • A combined ammunition, oiler and supply ship (AOE/AOR), usually Supply-class (T-AOE); provides logistic support.

Currently, six of the United States’ eleven carrier strike groups are located in the Pacific. The US also has four Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs) in the pacific. Each of those is also comprised of combat ships, a load of kick-ass Marines, along with attack helicopters and fixed wing, STOVL aircraft. They are transitioning from the Harriers to the new F-35Bs as I write this.

The US Pacific Air Forces are composed of the Fifth Air Force (Japan), the Seventh Air Force (South Korea) and the Eleventh Air Force (Alaska). That does not count long range, US based bombers such as the B1, B2 and B52 which can sortie from their bases worldwide to strike Chinese interests.

US nuclear submarines in the pacific are composed of 16 Los Angeles fast attack submarines, two Seawolf fast attack submarines, eight Virginia class fast attack submarines, two Ohio class guided missile subs and seven Ohio class ballistic missile subs.

And do not forget the navies of both Japan and Australia.

CHINA: They have ONE diesel fueled “aircraft carrier” of the old Kuznetsov class. It’s mostly been a harbor queen with very little blue water experience. Their aircraft are inferior in sophistication and numbers to the US fleet. The unrefueled strike range of a US carrier air wing is about 500 nautical miles. The Chinese carrier is a ski-jump launcher which means their combat jets must carry a reduced load of weapons and fuel to get off deck, reducing both their range and effectiveness.

China has sixty-odd submarines, the vast majority of which are diesel-electric. All of them are noisier than US submarines, making them vulnerable to our fast-attack subs.

China’s land-based air forces are unaccustomed to operating over water (so are their carrier aircraft, actually). They would be mostly ineffective if the US force stays a couple hundred miles offshore, well within the US strike range.

That leaves the much brayed-about Chinese “ship killer” ballistic missile. Its range is less than advertised and they have never tested it over water or against a moving target, let alone against a moving target with sophisticated countermeasures and effective antimissile weapons. Its ability to be guided en route is limited, US carriers are hard to find in the first place and they can steam at well over 40 knots in any direction they choose. Plus, as was mentioned they are defended not just by guns and missiles, but by very sophisticated electronic and other countermeasures.

 

STRATEGY:

The US need never strike the Chinese homeland unless they want to show it would be easy to do. An attack against a US carrier Strike Group would put all the US forces on high alert. Also, the naval and air forces of Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Since the Philippines have been spatting with China over islands, they may even get involved. The US can use Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from planes, ships or subs to decimate the naval forces in Chinese ports, and to mine the ports from 600 miles at sea. The US Navy would immediately engage any Chinese naval forces at sea. They would also sink or capture any Chinese merchant ships and then deny neutral shipping the ability to land cargoes on or near China. Chinese aircraft will not last long. Not only are US naval aircraft superior, the US 5th Air Force in Japan and he US 7th Air Force in South Korea would make life miserable for Chinese combatants and aircraft.

Now, the Chinese could take South Korea out of the fight by forcing North Korea to make some sort of demonstration, trying to widen the conflict. If so, the US can ask ally India to do the same. India and China do not get on well at all and the Indians would probably love an excuse to poke the Chinese while they are mostly busy elsewhere. India may also use the distraction to pimp-slap the Chinese client-state Pakistan a bit while the world is watching the US/China fight. The Chinese could also use the fight to justify an attempted invasion of Taiwan. Good luck getting a fleet of aircraft full of paratroopers or troop ships across the straits with the US Navy still in existence and against the Taiwanese air defenses and land-based sea defenses. Japan is quite capable of dealing with Chinese aircraft. The problem would be non-nuclear ballistic missiles. Doubtful the Chinese would launch nukes against either Taiwan or Japan as they are both under the US nuclear umbrella. But Japan has long range missiles of its own, which it has bought from the US and Norway, to reply to a Chinese barrage, and soon the Chinese would be too busy dealing with a very angry United States to spare much time and effort toward Japan or US bases on Guam.

What would be the limits of the North Korean effort to aid China? The Chinese may find that Kim would make a token effort. No missiles at US bases or at Japan, inviting a devastating reply from US forces. The US has fought a multi-front war before, and won.

Striking US forces on Guam would be an escalation that the Chinese may not want to try. Guam is considered US soil and we would likely react very robustly to an attack on Guam by perhaps attacking Shanghai in retaliation.

 

CONCLUSION:

It would be a very bad move for China to start a spat they are going to lose, and lose badly. The US would lead sanctions against them which would cripple their economy and return them to 3rd world status again. Trumps victory would almost guarantee him reelection and that means China would suffer harshly in economic sanctions. Their military would be decimated and wholesale executions of commanders would follow. Their vast land army would have made no difference in the short war, and they would be hungry and restless. Ripe for revolt. They would lose Taiwan permanently. There would be nothing to gain and much to lose.

Therefore, I believe the politicians in Beijing will shut this admiral’s mouth for him and no US carriers will be attacked.

The Portly Politico Explains the Hereditary Nature of Mitt Romney’s Treachery

Any of you readers under the age of 50 wouldn’t be expected to remember that Mitt Romney’s father ran for president against Richard Nixon back in 1968.  Tyler over at the Portly Politico has a very enlightening essay about the elder Romney and the nature of the Romney spinelessness.

Their behavior brings to mind that classic Firefly meme, “Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!”

War Pig – Child Protective Services Isn’t Protecting Children

This is a rant I did on a forum where the foster care system and the abuses by family courts and the CPS (child protective services) were being discussed.

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The old system of children’s homes was better. Sure, there were occasional abuses but nothing of the same order of magnitude as the current system. The current system is a pedophile’s dream. My sister and her husband were foster parents. They got kids so damaged by the system that many had to wind up being institutionalized. They finally adopted four kids, a pair of brothers and a pair of sisters, that had been physically and sexually abused by other foster families in the system. NONE OF THOSE FORMER FOSTERS HAS SEEN THE INSIDE OF A JAIL CELL. Yes, there are good foster parents like my sister and her husband, but there is a large minority of really bad ones.

CPS is also rampant with corruption and inefficiency as well as outright dereliction. Even with good foster parents like my sister and her husband, scheduled visits by CPS were often not performed for MONTHS. The case worker was supposed to lay eyes on these kids on a regular basis, but it was often three months or more between visits. Then the money system in CPS is also crooked and ripe for abuse. The former CPS director of our county was arrested, charged and convicted of embezzlement. $400k I believe. Payments to foster families was spotty and dispersed so that the families could not keep track if they were being properly reimbursed, Sometimes, payments were months late and listed the wrong expenses. This is a tactic of CPS to siphon off money. A forensic check of the finances that caught the former director said that the financial system was totally in chaos. It has not gotten any better since. Our local county commissioners tried to get involved but were smacked away from the table by the state and state court judges.

The system is totally broken. Children are being abused, sold, and killed. Suicide rates for foster children are through the roof. Many blame drugs, and I agree somewhat but that is no excuse for institutionalized abuse, rape, slavery and murder. One child a few counties over was found dead in Arizona, half the country away. Until she was identified nobody knew she was missing. She had been gone for two years. The foster family never reported her missing (they likely sold her), and the CPS caseworker had not checked on the child in two years, although her case files said that she had. She merely faked the reports. Upshot? The parents were denied future foster care and the caseworker resigned with NO CRIMINAL PENALTIES FOR ANYONE INVOLVED.

Blow up the whole system now. Today. Reinstitute children’s homes (orphanages) where they are all in one place and easy to watch.

The Portly Politico Sums Up Carlson’s Essay

Tyler does an excellent job condensing Tucker’s 15 minute video clip to a two minute read.

Watch the video if you have the time

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/01/03/tucker_carlson_we_are_ruled_by_mercenaries_who_feel_no_long-term_obligation_to_the_people_they_rule.html

but read read the summation if you can’t spare the time, it’s well written.

Tucker Carlson’s Diagnosis

 

 

War Pig – Second Amendment and Gun Registration and Licensing

Ok, here’s one I recently wrote on the FoxNews site about the Second Amendment and gun registration/licensing.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We don’t have to register to exercise our free speech (unless we’re conservatives on a liberal college campus). We don’t have to register or be licensed to enjoy freedom of religion, nor freedom of peaceful assembly.

I postulate that speech has killed more people than private citizen’s guns. How many people did Hitler kill, himself, I mean? How many times did he pull the trigger and take a life? No record on if he ever did it in WWI, and as far as we know, he only ever pulled the trigger on one person – himself. Yet he used words, speech, to create hatred for millions of people and gave orders, which are words, to exterminate over 6 million people who had no guns to defend themselves from his words. Sticks and stones may indeed break bones but words can cause a Holocaust.

If the pen indeed be mightier than the sword, then maybe we should start registering pens and speech, forcing practitioners of free speech whether verbally or in writing to comply with odious licensing procedures and taking away the pen and speech whenever someone waves a “red flag”. I bet you’d see CNN and MSNBC howl then.

Portly Politico – A Very Dokken Christmas, Part III:  Under Lock and Key

1985 was a great year.  President Ronald Reagan began his second term in office, The Portly Politico was born (not the blog, just me), and Dokken released their finest effort to date, the start-to-finish gem Under Lock and Key.

 

Their third studio album was also their most commercially successful up to that point, perhaps due in part to a more commercial sound.  That said, Under Lock and Key isn’t just a Def Leppard sound-alike, or full of crowd-pleasing power ballads.  It’s an album that rocks consistently, and even the mid-tempo material is full of fist-pumping fury.

 

Take the opener, “Unchain the Night.”  Just like Tooth and Nail’s “Without Warning,” Under Lock and Key kicks off with a brief but effective instrumental intro (albeit part of the title track, instead of a separate tune), this time with synthesizers.  I crank this part up as far as my Dodge minivan’s sound system will allow for the full, gut-punching effect—after a slow synth arpeggio drop, the guitars kick in full blast, and “Unchain the Night” truly begins.

 

I don’t know exactly what Dokken is trying to convey when he sings, “Never unchain the night/don’t tell me that the love is gone/never unchain the night/’Cause tomorrow’s another turn,” but it’s powerful, and a powerful earworm.  I also can’t help but note the contrast with Breaking the Chain’s title track, which is all about breaking free of personal and emotional chains (a later chorus in “Unchain the Night” ends with “I’m never gonna set you free”—dang).

 

“The Hunter” is an equally effective second track.  It’s the perfect song before heading out for a night on the town, as it’s all about being a hunter on the prowl, “Searching for love on these lonely streets again.”  A common theme in rock ‘n’ roll is the pantheric nature of the wandering troubadour, never fully satisfied with his lot in life and love, constantly stalking the concrete jungles for a shot at romance—or unbridled lust.  It’s not as intensely sexy as Whitesnake’s “Still of the Night,” but it gets the point across well.

 

The third track, “In My Dreams,” is a solid track, and was a minor hit for the band.  Here the fullness of the band’s ensemble vocals is heard from the get-go.  It’s a strong rocker, and one that showcases the band’s overall style and range well.

 

But for money, the best track on the album is “Lightnin’ Strikes Again,” a furious, intense, full-throttle rocker that never lets up.  Like sitting through a raging thunderstorm, you can feel this track in your bones.  It features an incredible, multi-measure drum fill that sounds like acoustical lightning, and some of Don Dokken’s finest vocal work as he leaps to seemingly impossible heights, with a call-and-response, “Lightnin’!/Lightnin’ Strikes Again!” repeats until the end.

 

The rest of the album is solid throughout; if anything, my failure as a reviewer is how hooked I am on “Lightnin’ Strikes Again.”  When I listen to Under Lock and Key, I force myself to listen to the last five tracks, not because they suck, but because “Lightnin’ Strikes Again” is so good.  “It’s Not Love” is a fun song about breaking with an obsessive girlfriend (not fun if you’ve ever experienced, but the song handles it cheekily).  “Will the Sun Rise” is a brooding, beautiful, sad tune about warriors setting off in a post-nuclear war, and asks dolefully if they’ll ever see the sun or sky again.

 

Most reviewers recommend Under Lock and Key as a good place to start with Dokken, and I will repeat that advice unabashedly.  It represents a mature version of the band, and it has something for almost any taste (as long as you’re broadly into hard rock and heavy metal from the 1980s).  It remains one of my favorite albums of all time; if not in the Top Five, it’s definitely in the Top Ten.  Highly recommended.

Portly Politico – A Very Dokken Christmas, Part II:  Tooth and Nail

We continue our yuletide celebration of Dokken with the 1984’s Tooth and Nail.  After the tepid performance of 1983’s Breaking the Chains, Dokken found themselves in debt to the tune of a cool half-a-million, and Elektra contemplated dropping the band.  Don Dokken and his management convinced the label to give the group one last shot; thus, the tenacious title.

 

That tenacity paid off, and is heard in every riff of Tooth and Nail.  If Breaking the Chains had some gems, Tooth and Nail shines like a diamond throughout.  Indeed, it’s a testament to the band’s songwriting that their third album, Under Lock and Key, would improve upon Tooth and Nail’s sonic attack.

 

Simply put, this album rocks, while also offering up more pop-oriented tunes.  Dokken opens the album with an atmospheric instrumental opener that’s just the right length.  I’m a big fan of extended instrumental introductions, so long as they lead somewhere.  “Without Warning” lives up to its title, as it seamlessly, suddenly transitions into the full-frontal assault of the title track, “Tooth and Nail.”

 

“Tooth and Nail” is the kind of opening rocker that should start every metal album.  The track is fast and fun, with an excellent, memorable chorus.  Don Dokken had been working with a vocal coach in Germany, and his improved range and technique are evident on “Tooth and Nail,” as he hits a stratospheric “Straight to the top!” toward the end of the song.

 

There are several other standout tracks, including the power ballad “Alone Again,” a song that helped boost flagging album sales.  Some listeners scoff at power ballads, but I love them if they’re executed well, with solid dynamic contrast, memorable choruses, interesting bridges, etc.  “Alone Again” doesn’t quite get to the level of, say, Heart’s “Alone” by these metrics, but it’s fun to sing in your car.

 

For my money, though, “When Heaven Comes Down” is a solid, underappreciated rocker, one that demonstrates the strength of the backing vocals.  Don’t underestimate the power of good backing vocals (see also:  Michael Anthony on almost every Van Halen song).

 

“Bullets to Spare” and “Turn on the Action,” the album’s closer, are similarly rockin’ affairs, though I’m partial to the latter.  “Bullets to Spare” is the kind of cheeky tune that makes me love the macho humor of glam metal, but “Turn on the Action” sounds like the kind of tune that could have come on the heels of “Tooth and Nail” to make for the iconic double-rocker-opener that I crave.

 

Ultimately, Tooth and Nail helped get the band off life-support, and set the stage for the exquisite Under Lock and Key—the subject of our the third and final album in our series A Very Dokken Christmas.

Portly Politico – A Very Dokken Christmas, Part I:  Breaking the Chains (1983)

To celebrate the Christmas season, I’d like to explore 80s hair metal giants Dokken’s first three albums, starting with their 1983 debut, Breaking the Chains.  The story of this album is curious in itself, as there are actually two versions:  one recorded in 1981, then in another with the classic Dokken line-up of Don Dokken, George Lynch, Mick Brown, and Jeff Pilson (Pilson played bass on the tour, but not on the album).  The best treatment of that story is The Rageaholic’s Metal Mythos: DOKKEN video; indeed, that video first turned me on to Dokken, a band I’d almost entirely missed in past forays into 80s metal.

 

This review will cover the 1983 album, as that’s properly when “Dokken” as such began (some pressings of 1981’s Breakin’ the Chains—note the dropped “G” in the ’81 version’s title—listed the artist as “Don Dokken”).  Also, I haven’t heard enough of the ’81 cut to comment upon it adequately.

 

Breaking the Chains kicks off with its excellent title track, a tune that’s both rockin’ and sleek.  It’s central riff—built around a persistent transition from E minor to D to C, and back again—is simple but effective, and resolves nicely into the G major of the distinctive chorus.  Like much of 80s hair metal, the tune effortlessly combines a brooding sense of rock ‘n’ roll machismo with a catchy, radio-friendly chorus.

 

The album’s second track, “In The Middle,” is another mid-tempo rocker, but feels like a missed opportunity.  The opening track itself, while exquisite, is already a slower tune.  The decision to follow that up with another andante selection makes for a lackluster double opener.  Dokken would perfect the “rockin’-double-opener” approach on future albums, but the best tracks on Breaking the Chains await.

 

Really, the album doesn’t really get cooking until the fifth track, “Live to Rock (Rock to Live),” an unapologetic rocker all about, well, rockin’ out.  I’ve yet to give this track the “drive test” I referenced in my Down to Earth review, but I’m sure it would pass.  Speaking of the drive test, Dokken follows “Live to Rock” with “Nightrider,” which sounds like driving a sports car with a panther on the roof through the rain-slick neon of an 80s night.  These two tracks should have appeared a bit earlier on the album.

 

The album closes with a live recording of “Paris is Burning” from a 1982 show in Berlin.  That track rips open with a George Lynch guitar solo that sounds like Van Halen’s “Eruption.”  That kind of guitar pyrotechnics is missing from most of the record, so this live recording is a welcome addition to the album.

 

Much of this initial effort is enjoyable but forgettable, but there are some real gems on Breaking the Chains, not just the title track.  All in all, it’s a solid record that points to the intensity and power of future Dokken releases.

The Portly Politico’s Review of Rainbow’s Down to Earth

The good folks at Orion’s Cold Fire have generously allowed me the opportunity to contribute to the site.  I write primarily about politics, economics, and history at https://theportlypolitico.wordpress.com, but as a “semi-pro” musician (and a full-time music teacher), I enjoy occasionally critiquing music.  The purpose of this feature is to review classic 70s and 80s-era hard rock and heavy metal albums.  Why such a specific genre and time period?  Essentially, I believe this genre represents the pinnacle of rock music.  With its confluence of blues, acid rock, country-western, and all the other distinct musical “flavors” of the mid-twentieth century, rock and roll reached its greatest artistic and technical summits during the “classic rock” era.  I’ll write further about that contentious claim at a later date; but now, let’s boogie!

When considering an album to review, I more or less use this criteria:  does it sound like hard rock/heavy metal?  Have I listened to it enough to comment upon it?  And does it rock?  That’s not the best criteria, as it predisposes me to writing glowing reviews of every album, but there you have it—the highly unscientific approach I take to writing about music I generally love.

All that aside, my first album review for Orion’s Cold Fire was a no-brainer:  1979’s Down to Earth by Rainbow.  This album perfectly encapsulates the direction of rock music at that crucial turning point between punk and the New Wave of British Heavy Metal.

Down to Earth was the first and only Rainbow album to feature Graham Bonnet on lead vocals, who replaced legendary metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio.  Rainbow’s guitarist and mastermind, Ritchie Blackmore, was notorious for sacking musicians on a whim, so most of the album’s personnel was wildly different than even the previous Rainbow release.

Regardless, this album rocks.  While he’s no Dio, the songs on Down to Earth are uniquely suited for Bonnet’s vocals—probably because he wrote the melodies after the band had already recorded all of the tracks.

The album’s big hit—and Rainbow’s first hit single—is “Since You Been Gone,” a Russ Ballard-penned tune that strikes the right balance between rock and pop.  The chorus is catchy as the flu, but like any good hard rock song, the pre-chorus build really sets up the triumphant release of the chorus beautifully.  Listen to the bass and guitar after the line “Your poison letter, your telegram” and you’ll see what I mean.

That said, my favorite tracks are the opening and closing numbers, “All Night Long” and “Lost in Hollywood,” respectively.  Musically, they rock, and “Lost in Hollywood” passes what I call the “drive test”—I drive much faster when listening to it.  It also features some of Rainbow’s signature neoclassical embellishments, pointing to the rise of neoclassical metal.

Lyrically, they’re fairly depressing commentaries of the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, not to mention the Sexual Revolution.  “All Night Long” is sung from the point of view of a jaded, lonely rocker, searching the crowd for a babe to spend the night with him (the most poignant line, from the third verse: “I know I can’t stand another night on my own”).  “Lost in Hollywood” describes a man so dedicated to rock, he’s lost the woman who makes it all worthwhile.

There are some less memorable tracks—the neoclassically-inflected “Eyes of the World” is a commentary on humanity’s rapacious capacity for violence and waste, but is a bit ponderous; “Makin’ Love” has its moments, but is forgettable—but, from start to finish, Down to Earth is as good an introduction to classic hard rock as I can conceive.  Crank it up!