Monday, August 3, 2015

MYLAND - Tales From The Inner Planet (2013-2015)

MYLAND - Tales From The Inner Planet - full


Italian AOR / Melodic Hard Rockers MYLAND is a curious band. The group made a sizeable impact on the European scene with three excellent albums plenty of tasty guitar work, big keyboards and terrific choruses, then decided to go indie and release this, their 4th effort "Tales From The Inner Planet" by themselves in 2013.
The big problem was that the album only was available on physical CD via Myland's website, ordered by e-mail. There was not major distribution, nor digital download. This turned the CD almost impossible to get due its limited quantities.

Then Myland made available a second press with an extra track, and now another one but again not easy to purchase.
Obviously, the band are not the kings of marketing, and it's a real shame, because "Tales From The Inner Planet" is one of the best AOR / Melodic Hard Rock albums I heard in the last five years and deserve to be listened by all fans of the genre.

Myland always suffered instability in the lead vocalist slot, and for "Tales From The Inner Planet" they had new singer Ruben Sacco, who recorded this album and left the band after (now 2015 they got a new vocalist).
Ruben Sacco proved to be the right shouter for Myland's melodic waves, as the man owns a clear register and a vocal color similar to the greats Johnny Gioeli (Hardline era) and Tommy Heart from Germans Fair Warning.

MYLAND - Tales From The Inner Planet - inside cover

In fact, Fair Warning is a really fine reference to describe "Tales From The Inner Planet" sound & style. Production is pristine, open and bright giving room to the superb melodies the band develop all over.
The album still retains Myland's classic AOR / MR structures but now enriched by highly worked harmony vocal arrangements performed by all members.

"Tales From The Inner Planet" opens with the huge "Wave Of Memories", a brilliant keyboard driven melodic hard rock gem, a great appetizer of what's coming-up next. The chorus line puts you into a melodic heaven and the guitar solo is simply breathtaking.
"In The Rising Sun" is just another great example of pure melodic rock stuff '80s influenced, while "Feel The Fire" grabs you with its uptempo happy rhythm and makes you whistle it for days.
Next "She's Gonna Runaway" (interesting lyrics) and "Hold On" are both very well crafted songs with powerful instrumentation, nice melodies and 'clever' choruses.

"Heart And Soul" moves into some more midtempo AOR paths with a mellower backbone, whilst "Out Of The Shadows" brings back the classy '80s melodic hard rock sound again with its great harmony, keyboard galore and the sing-a-long chorus line. "Rock Me Shake Me" includes a nice groove in it, a huge guitar sound and it's among my favorite tunes from the new album.
Finally, "If You Could Say The Same" is another highly melodic diamond with a midtempo AOR spirit very close to a power ballad, yet stronger and with a juicy essence.

I really love what Myland managed to create in "Tales From The Inner Planet". This is some kind of an underground gem, and again I must say it's a shame the album is not available for the major public via a proper publish / distribution.
"Tales From The Inner Planet" is a must for every single fan of pure European melodic hard rock / AOR sound inspired in the classic era of the genre, with some brilliant and extremely melodic tracks, powerful and at the same time emotional vocal performances, great guitar work, lots of keyboard runs and memorable choruses.
Absolutely Recommended.

01. Wave of Memories
02. In the Rising Sun
03. Feel the Fire
04. She’s Gonna Run Away
05. Hold On
06. Heart and Soul
07. The Last Mile
08. Out of the Shadows
09. Rock Me Shake Me
10. Bad Love Addiction
11. All for One
12. If You Could Say the Same

Ruben Sacco – Vocals
Hox Martino – Guitars, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals on 6
Davide Faccio – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Fabian Andrechen – Bass, Backing Vocals
Paolo Morbini – Drums, Backing Vocals

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THE BURNING CROWS - Murder At The Gin House (2015)

THE BURNING CROWS - Murder At The Gin House (2015) full


We already presented on the blog the previous album and EP from British rockers THE BURNING CROWS being impressed by the quality of this young quartet. Now the guys are back with their new album released today, August 3, entitled "Murder At The Gin House" that is so hot, it might just set your speakers on fire.

"Murder At The Gin House" is indeed a little rock ’n’ roll marvel: serving up a brew of classic rock sounds from the 70s, some shiny 80s hair band glory, a taste of glammy rocking fire, a bit of soul, and a hard rocking edge – creating an original and highly satisfying musical feast.
The Burning Crows released a rather fantastic album a couple of years ago, but "Murder At The Gin House" easily tops the debut and puts the band on a whole other level.
This is a polished and well-crafted release with hooks and gloss a-plenty, yet still capturing the band’s wild and wicked live-energy.

The CD kicks into high gear right away with the swaggering, strutting ‘Hell To Pay’, blazing with teasing-pleasing guitars, and singer Whippz’ vocals – strong and expressive with that hint of roughness that gives it just the right rock’n’roll feel.

THE BURNING CROWS - Murder At The Gin House (2015) inside

The band follows that up with the hooky, irresistible rocker ‘Come On’ – anchored by a sweet, heavy bassline, and capturing a sort of golden-era Bon Jovi-sound while adding some real edge and attitude.
Next up is the swinging, infectious rockin' goodness of ‘Shine’ and the outstanding track ‘Alright’ – just sparking with guitar energy and defiance.
Then power ballad ‘Goodbye (To The Sunshine)’ gives The Burning Crows a chance to show off a slightly softer side and some passionate vocals / guitar work, before firing up the hard-rocking hotness of ’11:37’ and delivering some raucous, rollicking riff-magic on ‘Little Bit More’.

‘She’s The Summertime’ is a goosebump-inducing track with a shiny-happy classic rock sound – bringing you the best of the '80s, jolted by a big shot of the band’s fiery soulfulness.
One of my favourite tunes here is ‘Feels Like Home’ – a party-fuel track that ramps and amps things up with speeding riffs, a catchy as hell chorus, and the kind of raw energy that will pump up any crowd: “one more shot of whiskey, one more shot of wine“. Also, the guitar work on this track is really good.
Closing track ‘Holding On’ is a beautiful piece of music, adding some strings and orchestra, and revealing some real tenderness in both the music and the vocals.

THE BURNING CROWS - Murder At The Gin House (2015) back

"Murder At The Gin House" is so good it might just be a game-changer for The Burning Crows.
Recorded at the world-famous Rockfield Studios with skilled producer Nick Brine (The Darkness, Bruce Springsteen) behind the desk, this new record sounds clear yet powerful with a kickin' stadium feel.
These guys are ready for the major leagues, so expect big things in The Burning Crows 2015 calendar.
Highly Recommended.

01. Hell to Pay
02. Come On
03. Shine
04. Alright
05. Goodbye (To the Sunshine)
06. 11:37
07. Little Bit More
08. She's the Summertime
09. Feels Like Home
10. Holding On

Whippz – Vocals, Guitars
Lance Daniels – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Will Lockett – Bass, Backing Vocals
Chris Chapman – Drums & Percussion
Nick Brine – Percussion, Production
thanks to Maria Haskins



Sunday, August 2, 2015

RIOT - Born In America [Remastered Digipak 2015]

RIOT - Born In America [Remastered Digipak 2015] full


There was a landmark year for the rapidly progressing heavy metal genre in the US: 1983. Artists such as Ronnie James Dio with his debut solo album Holy Diver, Def Leppard put a foothold on the seen with Pyromania and Quiet Riot had a huge number one. Motley Crue also won a fair share of fans over with their second studio album Shout at the Devil.
But 1983 produced another rockin' album that didn't quite make the cut on the US charts but largely deserved it: "Born In America" by RIOT. This was the band's second studio album with frontman vocalist Rhett Forrester, now reissued 2015, remastered, by Metal Blade Records.

This '80s hidden gem catapults the band into the realms of fierce vocals, galloping guitar riffs and aggressive smoking leads on songs like 'Heavy Metal Machine' and the slamming 'Vigilante Killer'. Forrester's vocals on the album are more strong than the bluesy approach of the previous, along the lines of a Kevin Dubrow / Blackie Lawless style.
This time around Riot’s "Born In America" is a harder and faster venture into the band's metal stylings, and that was a goal that many acts were striving for at that period in time. Riot pulled it off with this one.
The title track is also up to par with the anthemic standards of the era, a genuine bang-your-head song through and through, right along with some of the hot following tracks.

RIOT - Born In America [Remastered Digipak 2015] inside

This album in my opinion is one that any fan of '80s US metal should not be deprived of. As far as musical ability and creativity, this record carries Riot up into greater heavy metal heights joining arms with Quiet Riot and Judas Priest although never gaining that kind of recognition or notoriety.
The songs are tight and well-arranged, and most songs fit like a glove into the genre with hard driving rhythms bearing that essential Eighties metal feel. In a time where guitars were being fueled with a much higher octane (thanks to Eddie Van Halen) Riot filled the tanks on this one.

In a lot of ways, the polished hard rock on "Born In America" was the prelude to what bands like WASP and Dokken would soon do in the Californian explosion. Rhett Forrester even sounds a bit like Blackie Lawless when he’s belting out songs like 'Devil Woman' (a heavy Cliff Richards cover) and 'Gunfighter'.
This reissue is not freshly remastered, it was done in the '90s, but sounds great nonetheless.

RIOT - Born In America [Remastered Digipak 2015] back

Even though the album is not a stand out among other '80s metal acts, I still put "Born In America" up on a pedestal. For one the nostalgia it brings me, and the good old fashion metal energy that I so love.
It's an album that you can turn up and rock hard to start to finish. If you never heard about it and you're a fan of the era, you gotta grab it soon as possible.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Born In America
02 - You Burn In Me
03 - Vigilante Killer
04 - Heavy Metal Machine
05 - Devil Woman
06 - Wings Of Fire
07 - Running From The Law
08 - Where Soldiers Rule
09 - Gunfighter
10 - Promised Land

Rhett Forrester - vocals
Mark Reale - guitars
Rick Ventura - guitars
Kip Leming - bass
Sandy Slavin - drums



KANSAS - In The Spirit Of Things [Japan Limited Edition SHM-CD]

KANSAS - In The Spirit Of Things [Japan Limited Edition SHM-CD] full


Released in Japan only a couple years ago in a Limited Edition SHM-CD but already out-of-print, KANSAS' "In The Spirit Of Things" deserves a hunt-down. This one was the last KANSAS album recorded in the '80s, and for my melodious ears, one of the best of their entire career.

A year and a half after the original Kansas disbanded at the end of 1983, former lead singer and keyboardist Steve Walsh returned to revive the group along with original band members Phil Ehart and Rich Williams. Bass player and vocalist Billy Greer (who had worked with Walsh in the band Streets after he left Kansas in 1981) completed the new line-up with guitarist Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs and later Deep Purple), who added a heavier, rockier sound to the band’s music.
The debut from this new line-up was the rocking 'Power' in 1986, which SHM-CD reissue was featured here on the blog some days ago.

Their label wanted a commercial, mainstream sounding follow-up, so for "In The Spirit Of Things" external contributors were brought to the table.
In first place, we have mighty Canadian Bob Ezrin (Kiss, Alice Cooper, The Babys), who not only produced but also co-arranged and co-written, helped on many tracks by another white-glove producer; Greg Ladanyi (Toto, Eric Martin, Asia).
Add to this tracks penned by Mark Spiro, Dan Huff (Giant), Bruce Gaitsch (Richard Marx, King of Hearts) and Marc Jordan, and there's no need to tell you that this recording is clearly '80s AOR oriented.

"In The Spirit Of Things" (1988) has the crisp, lush, huge, typically big-budget '80s sound we all love.
But while 'Power' basically rocked hard in a high tempo throughout, this is a more mellow and reflective affair, balanced with many semi-midtempo AOR tunes, rockers and some ballads. And truly good ones.

KANSAS - In The Spirit Of Things [Japan Limited Edition SHM-CD] cd photo

The mellow nature of the album is revealed right from the start with the excellent "Ghosts", a slow and beautiful piano-based ballad which explodes at the end, featuring a fantastic vocal performance by Walsh.
But next track is a bombastic AOR-rocker with on-top drums, a swirling guitar and excellent vocal arrangements, complete with a choir; "Inside Of Me" is one of my favorites, a mid-tempo poppy AOR showcasing Walsh’s strongest vocals in years, as well as showing the band’s ability for razor-sharp execution and catchy choruses.

Then arrives my pick of the album; "One Man, One Heart" was written by Mark Spiro / Dan Huff, so expect a monster AOR song with great atmospherics and a refrain to die for. I bet many classic AOR fans never heard this track. Never is too late. Seriously, one of the Best AOR songs of the '80s, an absolute winner.
They keep the uptempo pace for the moment with "House On Fire". Here the Hammond organ is brought in, and the guitar sounds more like it did on the Power album. A strong rocker with killer dynamics.
"Once in a Lifetime" slow things down with a reflective acoustic guitar, that picks up during the chorus into a melodic rock backbone melody.

With "Stand Beside Me", written by the duo Marc Jordan & Bruce Gaitsch, we have (obviously) a poppy melodic AOR tune. The chorus is simply delicious. The muscular proggy AOR of "I Counted On Love" is another high point in the album.
"The Preacher" has a cool bluesy hard rockin' structure with some solid riffs, and the melodies are quite memorable. The chorus adds lots of harmony layers via elaborated backing vocals.

For the remaining tracks, Kansas has reserved space for a crossover with the 'new' sound of the band with their classic style. "Rainmaker" is epic and dramatic, with Walsh singing in great form over the choir, telling a haunting story. Heavier proggy instrumentation follows, with an awesome guitar / keyboard work. Terrific track.
"T.O. Witcher" is a terse acoustic short guitar piece, nostalgic and appealing, showing Morse's ability and class with the 6-strings.
The album ends with "Bells Of Saint James", a monster song incredibly produced and arranged. Morse scratches out a quick solo, the vocals soar and the drumming is terrific. The musicianship show the band in great form and somewhat reminding of their power and majesty of the '70s but with a lush '80s sound. Repeat this track many times in a row, and you will find more and more beauty after each listen. Superb.

KANSAS - In The Spirit Of Things [Japan Limited Edition SHM-CD] back

As you see, I wrote many words describing "In The Spirit Of Things". Yes, you guessed, it's one of my favorite albums of the '80s.
This recording is a pot of gold, with excellent songwriting, musicianship and an out-of-this-world production. Rabid Kansas first-hour fans hate it loudly, but I know this is a guilty pleasure for most of them.
A must have for any '80s AOR fan and lovers of the good, elaborated melodic sounds.

Universal Japan ~ Limited Edition SHM-CD | UICY-75138

01 - Ghosts
02 - One Big Sky
03 - Inside Of Me
04 - One Man, One Heart
05 - House On Fire
06 - Once In A Lifetime
07 - Stand Beside Me
08 - I Counted On Love
09 - The Preacher
10 - Rainmaker
11 - T.O. Witcher
12 - Bells Of Saint James

Steve Walsh / lead vocals, keyboards
Billy Greer / bass, backing vocals
Steve Morse / guitar, backing vocals
Rich Williams / acoustic & electric guitars
Phil Ehart / drums

Terry Brock / backing vocals
Stephen Croes / Synclavier
Bob Ezrin / percussion, backing vocals
John Pierce / fretless bass
Ricky Keller / programming
Greg Robert / programming, backing vocals
Christopher Yavelow / Kurzweil
The Southern California Community Choir / backing vocals

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BUDDY GUY - Born To Play Guitar (2015)

BUDDY GUY - Born To Play Guitar (2015) front


The legendary pioneer of the Chicago blues scene BUDDY GUY has just turned 79, but he is still one of the most exhilarating guitarists in the world, and still in powerful voice. Born in Louisiana, he moved north to be influenced by Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, and developed a passionate, driving guitar style that made him a hero for blues-rockers from Eric Clapton to Jimmy Page and Gary Moore.
It's no surprise then that the guests on his brand new album "Born To Play Guitar" include ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, who joins him on the stomping 'Wear You Out', and Van Morrison, who sings on the poignant 'Flesh & Bone', a tribute to the late B.B. King.

Once again working with producer/songwriter Tom Hambridge - the bluesman's main collaborator since 2008 - Buddy Guy serves up a straight-ahead platter with 'Born To Play Guitar', his 28th studio album. Many of Guy's latter-day records loosely follow a theme, but this new album is pretty direct: just a collection of songs designed to showcase Buddy's oversized Stratocaster.
Hambridge cleverly colors "Born To Play Guitar" with a few bold, unexpected flourishes: the sweeps of sweet strings that accentuate "(Baby) You've Got What It Takes," a duet with Joss Stone that lightly recalls Etta James'Chess Records work, or the big, blaring horns of "Thick Like Mississippi Mud" that moves that track out of the Delta and into an urban setting.

BUDDY GUY - Born To Play Guitar (2015) cd photo

Elsewhere, Van Morrison contributes a moving tribute to B.B. King in "Flesh and Bone," a heartfelt ballad that however rocks in some kind of joint boogie. Guy delivers on this front quite ably, particularly when he's paired with fellow blues lifer Kim Wilson (as he is on "Too Late" and "Kiss Me Quick") or when Billy Gibbons slithers out of the Texas hills to lay down the heavy stomp of "Wear You Out" (a highlight).
And while there are no surprises on these duets, nor on the proudly traditional Chicago blues of title track "Born to Play Guitar", "Back Up Mama," and "Whiskey, Beer & Wine," there is still pleasure in hearing a master tear into his beloved music.

The acoustic "Come Back Muddy" puts the 'flourish' trick in reverse, pushing Chicago blues back down south. It's an awesome, pure Blues tune with a magic and atmosphere that only a foundational blues-man from the first hour cand do. And the lyrics are so emotional. Buddy Guy once explained that Muddy Waters’ final request to him was “keep the damn blues alive”.
He's still doing just that. With class.

BUDDY GUY - Born To Play Guitar (2015) back

I know this type of music it is not the usual on these pages, but this "Born To Play Guitar" deserves to be listened by every Rock-related fan. Buddy Guy was always one of the most 'rocking' blues-man out there, and he is a living legend testimony of what classic rock is all about.
Very, very recommended.

01 - Born To Play Guitar
02 - Wear You Out (Feat. Billy Gibbons)
03 - Back Up Mama
04 - Too Late (Feat. Kim Wilson)
05 - Whiskey, Beer & Wine
06 - Kiss Me Quick (Feat. Kim Wilson)
07 - Crying Out Of One Eye
08 - (Baby) You Got What It Takes (Feat. Joss Stone)
09 - Turn Me Wild
10 - Crazy World
11 - Smarter Than I Was
12 - Thick Like Mississippi Mud
13 - Flesh & Bone (Feat. Van Morrison) [Dedicated To B.B. King]
14 - Come Back Muddy [Dedicated To Muddy Waters]



Saturday, August 1, 2015

BON JOVI - We Don't Run / Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning (2015)

BON JOVI - We Don't Run / Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning (2015) full


We will have a real rockin' BON JOVI new album when next August 21 the band release 'Burning Bridges'. The CD features songs composed several years ago (some from the Slippery When Wet era) but never included into any official album.
Two tracks are already available as advanced singles; "Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning" and "We Don't Run".

From the brown-bag artwork, the album suggests this is some sort of stopgap collection, and indeed it's been called a project “for fans” that’s arriving while the group remains at work on a new recording for full-scale release in 2016.
A glad they did it judging the quality of the songs!

"We Don't Run" has the hard rocking spirit of second half '80s Bon Jovi, anthemic and with Jon delivering a gritty vocal performance, something we all miss since many years.
"Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning" is more melodic rock, mid-tempo oriented in the vein of the band's early '90s sound.
"We Don't Run” was co-written by Jon Bon Jovi and long-time collaborator John Shanks, who also contributed with a meaty production and a shredding guitar solo. The new album 'Burning Bridges' takes its name from this song chorus, whose lyrics read in part “Not afraid of burning bridges/ ‘Cause I know they’re gonna light my way / Like a phoenix from the ashes / Welcome to the future, it’s a new day.”

'Burning Bridges' marks the first full-length recording the band will release since the departure of co-founding guitarist Richie Sambora. Richie said he left in order to push himself creatively.
Jon Bon Jovi turned to Philip Eric Xenidis (whose stage name is Phil X) to fill in during the latter part of Sambora’s tenure. The lineup of the band now is rounded out by fellow co-founders David Bryan and Tico Torres, as well as bassist Hugh McDonald, who has been with Bon Jovi since the early ’90s.

BON JOVI - We Don't Run / Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning (2015) artwork

"We Don't Run" and "Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning" deliver the Bon Jovi we all love.
I'm sure 'Burning Bridges' will surprise us all with really good old-school rocking material that made the band famous.
Great songs.

We Don't Run (3:17)
Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning (3:23)



Friday, July 31, 2015

WATCHMEN - Nowhere To Hide (2015)

WATCHMEN - Nowhere To Hide (2015) full


British label ZRock Records has reissued the self-titled album by WATCHMEN some weeks ago (featured here on the blog) and now are presenting with the band's second effort "Nowhere To Hide".
Watchmen hails from Argentina, South America, and despite of not being the most fertile land for this brand of melodious Hard Rock, I assure you these guys rock on par with the best.

Watchmen style has been described as a mix of Whitesnake, Badlands and Burning Rain, and although most the songs on offer here don't sound as bluesy as the material from these bands, I can easily understand where the comparisons come from: lead vocalist Ivan Sencion.
He's in possession of a strong voice not that far away from Ray Gillen, Keith St. John and / or David Coverdale, but the guy adds his own touch and despite his native language is Spanish, there's not accent at sight.
Apart from the great singer, Watchmen are a combo of superb musicians; love the rhythm section, the very well placed keyboards and special mention has to go to guitarist Emmanuel Lopez, a guy who can play some serious licks.

WATCHMEN - Nowhere To Hide (2015) inside

On "Nowhere To Hide", Watchmen have evolved to a much more Melodic Hard Rock style, still retaining the sharp riffs but aiming for catchiness than the hard rock groove from the first album.
There's a Mr. Big feel on many songs, also akin Spanish greats Guru.
It's a varied record opening with 'The Gathering' and its Eastern melodies, followed by "One", a guitar driver hard rocker much like in the band's debut album.
Title track 'Nowhere To Hide' is one of the highlights, a bright melodic rock tune with a mid-tempo pace especially designed for Ivan Sencion's vocals to shine. Is this guy the love child of David Coverdale?

If you need some pulsating AOR, Watchmen deliver in "Lonely Rider" another highlight, or if you prefer, the strong and at the same time emotive ballad "I'll Be Allright".
As said it's a varied album, and they provide balance with great rockers like "Adrenaline" (title says all), the intense & melodious "Dreamworld", the kicking "Solstice In Black" or "Holy Ground" and its mysterious keyboards.
More variation arrives with album closer "In The End", a dreamy little acoustic number which sounds like an end titles movie soundtrack, really inspired.

There's a couple of extra songs listed as bonus tracks: a cover of the bombastic '80s cult classic "Far From Over", made famous by Frank Stallone for the '83 Stayin' Alive movie. I really like Watchmen's take on this one, showing their versatility.
The other song is sung in Spanish, "Tiempos Violentos" (Raging Times) composed for the Radio Rock show of the same name. It's a galloping hard rocker with stong guitars and blasting rhythm section.

WATCHMEN - Nowhere To Hide (2015) back

With "Nowhere To Hide" Watchmen confirm their talent to compose some awesome Melodic Hard Rock songs, rich in melodies, terrific vocal parts and kick ass instrumentation.
This second album is more varied than the first, blending its potent hard rock grooves with superb melodic hard / AOR melodies influenced by classic acts of the genre from both sides of the Atlantic ocean.
There's no boundaries in music: these guys may come from the most southernmost country of the planet, but they sound as good as the best exponents from the genre.
Seriously, Watchmen are excellent, you need to check these guys immediately.

01 - The Gathering
02 - One
03 - Nowhere To Hide
04 - Adrenaline
05 - Lonely Rider
06 - Holy Ground
07 - I'll Be Allright
08 - Dreamworld
09 - Solstice In Black
10 - In The End
11 - Far From Over [Ltd Edition Bonus Track]
12 - Tiempos Violentos [Ltd Edition Bonus Track]

Ivan Sencion - lead vocals
Emmanuel Lopez - guitars
Sebastian Igino - bass, backing vocals
Leonardo Palmieri - keyboards
Alan Fritzier - drums, backing vocals



RUSH - Moving Pictures [HDtracks 2015 remaster]

RUSH - Moving Pictures [HDtracks 2015 remaster] full


Without a doubt, "Moving Pictures" is the most famous album (and for many their best) from Canadian legends RUSH. It was their transition to synthesizers and catchy melodies, launching the band to mainstream stardom in the early '80s.
This milestone album has been remastered several times, but now has received a 2015 treatment by Sean Magee at Abbey Road Mastering Studios and it's being sold thru in Audiophile 48kHz/24bit HQ format.

"Moving Pictures" is a great example of how technicality, songwriting mastery and a thoroughly emotional touch combine in an exceptional way. Lyrically, the album continues in the vein of its predecessor Permanent Waves in how it touches more on real-life subjects than the fantasy elements of previous works.
Due to drummer Neil Peart expanding his range of lyrical themes, we get songs about the price of fame ("Limelight"), the moods and lifestyles of different places ("Camera Eye"), and even automobiles ("Red Barchetta").

Geddy Lee's singing is improved and more varied range-wise on this record, establishing him as a more solid storyteller as he sings the tales that Peart is weaving.
The instrumental work is, as usual, absolutely fantastic; the trio play off each others' contributions wonderfully and there's a great sense of unity that prevents anything from sounding like aimless noodling.

RUSH - Moving Pictures [HDtracks 2015 remaster] inside

Even in the sole instrumental "YYZ," the band know what time to devote to soloing and what time to devote to composition. The Morse Code-inspired 5/4 section in the beginning is still an iconic progressive rock moment and luckily the song just keeps on giving, with a trade-off solo segment and a synth-ridden slow portion keeping things interesting.

And of course we have the timeless classic "Tom Sawyer".
This is one of the most impressive aspects of "Moving Pictures": how it's so radio-friendly for Rush and still manages to be so damn good.
The hard-rockin' radio staple melodies of "Tom Sawyer", the dynamically-varied "Red Barchetta", the fan favorite "Limelight" and of course "YYZ" were all big hits when they came out, and yet remain considered some of Rush's most beloved songs even by hardcore fans who love their underrated material.

Radio rock fans will instantly recognize and appreciate that iconic first note played in "Tom Sawyer", while the progressive rock crowd will appreciate the craftsmanship that went into the rhythmically varied guitar solo by Alex Lifeson.
"Red Barchetta" will have the casual crowd enjoying the catchy melodies and Geddy's singing performance while musicians and hardcore fans will notice Neil Peart's varied drum fills going on in the meantime.
Even lesser-known songs such as "Witch Hunt" and "Vital Signs" carry this sense of balance, the latter even using a combination of the typical Rush sound and a Police-like poppy influences.

RUSH - Moving Pictures [HDtracks 2015 remaster] hdtracks logo

"Moving Pictures" is some kind of masterpiece, combining proggy arrangements and technical playing / arrangements with a catchy, FM Rock / hard rock bounce like few albums in Rock history do.
It's probably the best album for people who are just getting into Rush, and don't want to be scared off by the 10 minute instrumentals and concept songs of earlier albums.
This 2015 remastering by HDtracks is jaw-dropping. All comes crystal clear like (at least in my previous listening experiences) never before. Truly excellent job.

01 - Tom Sawyer
02 - Red Barchetta
03 - YYZ
04 - Limelight
05 - The Camera Eye
06 - Witch Hunt
07 - Vital Signs

Geddy Lee - vocals, bass, Minimoog, synthesizers
Alex Lifeson - electric and acoustic guitars, Moog Taurus
Neil Peart - drums, percussion, glockenspiel
Hugh Syme - voice-8 synthesizer on "Witch Hunt", art direction



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