"Maid in Japan: Future World 30th Anniversary" (Frontiers; 2020)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Man, I miss hard rock/heavy metal double-live albums. KISS's "Alive," Deep Purple's "Made in Japan," Rush's "Exit Stage Left," Thin Lizzy's "Live and Dangerous." Those were some awesome records, and I know there's dozens more out there that are just as good. There was something about those double-disc collections (vinyl or CD, although vinyl was bigger) that was truly epic. More than just a souvenir of a show you may or may not have seen, there was something just hefty about those albums, and I'm not just talking about the packaging.

And that's part of what makes Pretty Maid's "Maid in Japan: Future World 30th Anniversary" so freaking awesome. Sure, you can download the mp3s if you want to but this album is also available on CD and vinyl ... and (the admittedly not-so-hefty) Blu-Ray for crying out loud. All of this makes it feel like a pretty big release, an epic release, to use the word I used in the above paragraph.

The best news is that the music on the CD is pretty freaking epic as well. The first ten tracks are live versions of the band's classic "Future World" album from 2011. Do they sound a little different? I imagine they would but, as of yet, I haven't pulled out the old studio CD just yet. And, honestly, it doesn't really matter, anyway because, whether the tracks sound a little different in 2020 than they did in 2011, they still sound great today. The band sounds great together, the music rocks hard and the production is crisp and clean while still sounding like what it's all about: being a live album. An epic live album. This is a concert album and it's one of those great ones that puts you in the audience.

The remaining five tracks are selected from various Pretty Maids albums ranging from 1992's "Sin-Decade" to 2016's "Kingmaker." Yeah, that made me do a double-take, too. I haven't paid very much attention to Pretty Maids through the years (my mistake) but I've been aware of them for what seems like forever. After a little research, I discovered that the band's first album was released in 1984 and they've released 16th studio albums since then, culminating (so far) with "Undress Your Madness" in 2019. Seems like I've got of listening to do.

Bottom line here is that if you love live rock'n'roll, you won't go wrong with this two-disc CD, album or (single-disc) Blu-Ray.

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"Louder Than Ever" (Frontiers; 2014)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

"Louder Than Ever" is a collection of new re-recordings of eight songs from Pretty Maids' earlier albums over their thirty year 30-year career plus four brand new songs. I must admit, it's been a long time since I listened to any Pretty Maids, but "Louder than Ever" impressed me with its power and its consistency.

I thought it would be interesting to go back to the early recordings and compare them with these new re-recordings. Alas, it appears that the Pretty Maids discography hasn't made it from my CD collection to my MP3 collection so that will have to wait. Having not heard the original material in much too long, suffice to repeat: "Louder Than Ever" stands alone as a solid album.

Fans of the band may complain about the selection of songs re-recorded here, something that always occurs when a band chooses to go back and re-visit its catalog. The new tunes blend in almost seamlessly with the re-recordings although one of them, "Nuclear Boomerang," which stands out due to its driving guitar and rhythm.

Bottom line: "Louder Than Ever" made me eager to go back and re-explore the rest of Pretty Maids' catalog and that alone is evidence of the album's quality.

Also included is a DVD "with tons of archival footage, studio shots and interviews and footage recorded from the 'Motherland' Tour" but it was unavailable for review. Odds are, if you're a Pretty Maids fan, you'll find this DVD interesting as well.

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"Future World" (CBS; 1987)

Reviewed by Snidermann

I may not be a rock'n'roll historian, but I consider myself pretty knowledgeable when it comes to hard rock / heavy metal in the '80s. After all, I lived through it!

Still, I have a few questions about Pretty Maids: 
1) Why have I never heard of this killer band?
2) Why do they have the worst name in rock'n'roll history?

"Future World" was released on CBS Records in 1987. The music is the pinnacle of the hair band sound but without all the glitzy baggage associated with the 80s hair band scene. Since I've never seen what the band looks like (having never heard of them before I picked up this CD) I'm basing this purely on the music found on this CD. For all I know their hair was out to here but this CD proves they were about more than hair spray and spandex.

For one thing, the power ballad never sounded as good and as well done as it is on "Future World." Those of you who don't like power ballads - don't worry. There are only a few here. The other tracks are all above-average 80s metal with a touch of well-played and mostly appropriate keyboard mixed in. 

If you were ever a fan of the hair band sound (and, come on, we know we're out there!) you will love this shit. Play it at full volume to get the total effect and the rock'n'roll essence literally explodes from this very well-produced CD (which still sounds great today!). 

This shit easily blows away anything produced in the States at the time. Again, I cannot believe I have never heard of them. Now I've got to get online and do some serious research!

Pretty Maids was a total surprise to me. I wasn't really interested at first - the band's name just put me off - but this is one case where the old adage certainly applies: Do not judge a book (or CD) by its cover. Pretty Maids just plain fucking rocks. 

I think I will spin it again right now!

Pretty Maids: Ronnie Atkins - Vocals; Ken Hammer - Guitars; Allen Delong - Bass; Alan Owen - Keyboards; Phil Moorheed - Drums. 

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2020 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.