Sixx: A.M. - 'The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack: 10th Anniversary Edition' Album Review
1. X-Mas In Hell 2. Van Nuys 3. Life Is Beautiful 4. Pray For Me 5. Tomorrow 6. Accidents Can Happen 7. Intermission 8. Dead Man’s Ballet 9. Heart Failure 10. Girl With Golden Eyes 11. Courtesy Call 12. Permission 13. Life After Death 14. Life Is Beautiful 2017 15. Accidents Can Happen 2017 16. Girl With Golden Eyes 2017
This is a concept album in the truest sense of the word, it is a partner to Nikki Sixx's Heroin Diaries (which this album got me to read finally, I've been meaning to read it for years now) This is not a new album per se, being as it is a 10th anniversary special edition, working on that premise I am going to assume some of you will know what this is all about and may well have the original album, for you the pertinent part of this review will be the paragraph before my summing up, so lets get to it.
'The Heroin Diaries' taken in without having read the book is a functional (if slightly disconnected) concept album mirroring the tale told in the book, it opens with 'X-Mas In Hell' which is a reading from the book's intro (or maybe the first chapter, I forget now) with a soundtrack that evokes a hellish distorted Christmas in the drug-addled mind of the protagonist. The majority of the tracks on this album are perfectly functional stand-alone Rock songs which (when listened to in succession) tell the story of Nikki Sixx's 1986-1987 a year in which his drug problems brought his life to a startling nadir (and stopped it) before he turned a corner.
The song 'Life Is Beautiful' may be familiar to a good number of people as it was a number 2 single in the US and received a lot of airplay at that time, along with follow-up single 'Pray For Me' and 'Tomorrow' from the Saw 4 soundtrack which are also here. However this is not an album built around singles it was built around a concept, so they are by no means the only highlights. As it happens this is a strong and compelling concept which is carried not just by the songs but by the atmospheric spoken word interludes that recur throughout.
What's new in this 10th Anniversary version? Besides the new artwork and notes from the band, there are three re-imagined tracks to absorb here: 'Life Is Beautiful 2017', 'Accidents Can Happen 2017' & 'Girl With Golden Eyes 2017'. Three alternate takes that take the original songs and re-arrange them, 'Life Is Beautiful' becomes a tender epic ballad, while 'Accidents Can Happen' becomes a far more strident tune. The biggest change is the re-imagining of 'Girl With Golden Eyes' which has some hints of a more Modern Pop sensibility being carefully woven through its arrangement, now featuring abundant synths and background vocals.
This is like a not-prog-prog album, the sort of album that could gently introduce a regular Rock fan with the usual Post-Punk opinion of Prog Rock as whimsical and fantastical to the idea of a concept album. Without a trace of whimsy and devoid of fantasy the album has a dark story to tell but it tells it well and entertains throughout while the new songs add welcome new interpretations to sweeten the deal.
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Review - McLaughlin