Blog | The Vinyl Corner – Episode 15
Savatage Part 2
The entire Savatage musical catalog has been re-released on vinyl by earMUSIC. In fact, some of the classic Savatage releases are available for the first time on the beloved vinyl format. From August 2021 earMUSIC started with the re-releases of these albums. Complete with liner notes and quotes by singer/songwriter/mr Savatage himself: Jon Oliva. Supplemented with special versions of songs, live versions or demos that had never been released before. Also all the work is re-mastered especially for these releases. Since this is a band that is very popular among fans and these are beautifully executed copies, I couldn’t resist to get into the pen and put them in the spotlight. For ‘The Vinyl Corner, Savatage special part 2, I will discuss the re-releases of ‘Fight For The Rock’, ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ and ‘Gutter Ballet’.
FIGHT FOR THE ROCK
Even though it is quite some time ago that ‘Fight For The Rock’ was released (1986), it still remains the bastard child in the whole catalog of the band. As this was the second album for a major record company, they wanted to turn Savatage into a major arena act and go with a more commercial approach. In my opinion the only good thing this album brought was new bass player Johnny Lee Middleton. Literally not a single song on this album touches me and even the band itself does not like this effort. Maybe, looking back, it was just the right album that gave them the kick in the ass, to create the masterpiece album that followed up this misfit.
However, most Savatage fans also want this album in their collection and it may be said that earMUSIC has also made every effort to make something beautiful out of this. The album is available as a 180g Black Vinyl Gatefold Edition and Strictly Limited Heavyweight Collector’s LP Edition on White Vinyl which includes an exclusive 10” Vinyl Single with three rare demo recordings at Bearsville Studios from that era, liner notes and enhanced artwork.
HALL OF THE MOUNTAIN KING
‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ was the first album under the direction of producer Paul O’Neill. This was also the first album to feature the album cover drawn by artist Gary Smith, who was responsible for lead guitarist Criss Oliva‘s airbrushed guitars at the time. Released in 1987 this was the album that cemented Savatage into the everlasting halls of heavy metal. Considered a turning point in the band’s musical identity, the album shows the beginning of their progressive tendencies.
Mastered for vinyl and reissued with the original cover design, enhanced artwork and extensive liner notes, the album is available as a 180g Black Vinyl Gatefold Edition. Also as a Strictly Limited Heavyweight Collector’s LP Edition on Golden Vinyl that comes with an exclusive 7″ Vinyl single featuring the song ,,This Is Where You Should Be” and a 1987 live version of ,,Hall Of The Mountain King”. With songs like ,,24 Hrs. Ago’’, ,,Strange Wings’’, ,,Hall Of The Mountain King’’ and ,,Devastation’’ on the album little can go wrong.
Yet again, the liner notes that come with the re-issued album reveal all kind of interesting anecdotes from that time period. An album that should actually be mandatory for fans of the hard and heavy genre. The compositions and great guitar work by Criss Oliva prove to be timeless and are still rock solid today!!
And what do you do when you have made such an album? Exactly, then you make a new album that is at least as impressive. ‘Gutter Ballet’ from 1989 is that album. It was a true turning point for the band, as the sound transitioned from heavy metal to experiment with a more progressive sound. Which is reflected in classic Savatage songs such as ,,When the Crowds Are Gone’’ and ,,Gutter Ballet’’. On this album the theatrical and classical influences became even more evident.
During the final recording sessions while Criss was tracking guitar solos, Paul O’Neill gave Jon Oliva tickets to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. Jon was so inspired that immediately following the performance, he went back to the studio and wrote the music for the title track. It is also the first album that features Chris Caffery, although he does not appear on the album, but is credited with guitars and keyboards and is pictured in the album’s liner notes. Both to prepare the fans for the line-up they’d see on tour and confirm his permanent member status.
This re-release is mastered for vinyl and reissued with the original cover design, enhanced artwork including a 12 pages LP booklet with extensive liner notes. The album will become available as a 180g Black Vinyl Gatefold Edition and as a Strictly Limited Heavyweight Collector’s LP Edition on Silver Vinyl which includes an exclusive ’89 poster replica and an exclusive 10” Vinyl Single that includes the track ,,Thorazine Shuffle’’ and a 1990 live version of ,,When The Crowds Are Gone’’.
With the albums ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ and ‘Gutter Ballet’, Savatage proved that they owned a spot at the top of the heavy genre.
For the next edition of The Vinyl Corner, Savatage special, I will discuss the re-releases of ‘’Streets, ‘Edge Of Thorns’’ and ‘Handful Of Rain’’.
To be continued….