Saturday, August 30, 2014

SKAM - Peacemaker (2014)

SKAM - Peacemaker (2014) full


A couple years ago we presented here the debut album from SKAM, the Leicester, UK, young 3-piece classic hard rock combo as one of the most promising British emerging bands. Since their formation, Skam have played a wild ride of over 250 gigs, and supported some well renowned artists.
The time for the second album arrived in the form of "Peacemaker" – a 12 track storm of a record that can only be heralded as one of the finest albums to come from an underground UK based artist in the past 10 years. This is a record you need in your collection, and if you like classic hard rock, Skam are most definitely a band you need in your life.

The first thing that stands out about "Peacemaker" is how clean cut the production is on this record. For a band this size it is a real treat to hear such a crisp, no nonsense, professional sound; and this can be put down to the bands choice of producer on this album.
Working with the legendary Matt Elliss was a massive pay off; resulting in tracks such as lead single "Holy City", the bouncy "Fortune Favours the Brave" and the emotional "Precious Stone" sounding like they had been released by a band of arena level stature.
When a band not only puts time and effort into writing songs, but also into the production of said songs, you know they are serious – showing that with this record Skam are making a statement, and this statement is: “This is who we are, this is how we sound, and by God do we sound good”.

RICHIE KOTZEN - I'm Coming Out (2011)tracks

There may be a couple of slower tracks on here such as "The Wire" and the aforementioned "Precious Stone" but they are not ballads so if you were expecting to hear some sugary look elsewhere as this band are all about Hard Rock.
For a 3 piece band Skam have a hell of a lot of balls and power. Anyone would think when hearing tracks such as "Make You Pay", "Rivers’" and he feel good "Let’s Get Rocked" that there was at least 5 members to this band.
The songs on "Peacekeeper" were written to be played live. They are catchy, captivating, energetic and above all memorable. There isn’t a dull track on this album, and the pure heaviness and force behind each and every one of these tracks is the driving factor behind this album, making it a record that entices you from the very first chord till the final song finishes.

You must listen "Peacemaker". Skam is a band that deserves to be massive. The free flowing sounds in their songs are not forced, nor do they give the impression of trying to imitate, as the trio explore their own avenues of creativity.

RICHIE KOTZEN - I'm Coming Out (2011)tracks

There is so much going on in their music that they take bits and pieces from what can be described as the '80s scene and mash it together to form their own unique sound.
It is hard to think of an unsigned, underground rock band out there at the moment who can rival with the calibre of music that Skam have produced on "Peacemaker", and hopefully there will be many more fantastic releases like this to follow very soon.
Highly Recommended.

01 - Langundo (Intro)
02 - Make You Pay
03 - Rivers
04 - Holy City
05 - Peacemaker
06 - The Wire
07 - Fortune Favours The Brave
08 - The Prince
09 - Precious Stone
10 - The Zone
11 - Let’s Get Rocked
12 - More Or Less

Steve Hill - Guitars, Vocals
Matt Gilmore - Bass, Backing Vocals
X-Ray - Drums, Backing Vocals



Friday, August 29, 2014

RICHIE KOTZEN - The Essential [2CD] (2014)

RICHIE KOTZEN - The Essential [2CD] (2014)  full


Since he started as a young guitar virtuoso, when RICHIE KOTZEN plays his guitar, you know it’s him. Then he rocked us in Poison, Mr. Big and now The Winery Dogs, but the man build a strong solo career as well.
Accomplished singer and songwriter as well, Kotzen possesses an inimitable style that’s both instantly recognizable and immediately striking. This unique style courses through THE ESSENTIAL RICHIE KOTZEN, a career retrospective collection set for release in Europe on September 2 on earMmusic / Loud & Proud Records.

The album encompasses this iconic talent’s entire career of his most essential work and includes two CDs of classic material, acoustic performances, bootleg material and two brand new songs; “War Paint” and “Walk With Me”.
“War Paint” builds from an opening bluesy riff into a bombastic chorus punctuated by Kotzen’s gravelly delivery and impeccable lead playing. At the same time, “Walk With Me” sees him evolving once more and incorporating a Theremin, an antique electronic instrument, into an emotive and engaging anthem.

RICHIE KOTZEN - The Essential [2CD] (2014)  inside

Kotzen personally curated THE ESSENTIAL RICHIE KOTZEN from his 18 solo albums in order to give listeners the most comprehensive, cohesive and concise introduction to his extensive body of work.
And there's some interesting previously unreleased stuff.

We have new recorded versions of "High", "What Is", "Change", a really nice acoustic take on his contribution for Poison's Native Tongue "Until You Suffer Some [Fire And Ice]", original demo versions for The Winery Dogs, and more.
The album was released some months ago in Japan, but this time at the other side of the globe we take revenge, this edition includes an additional track.
Very, Very Recommended.

Disc 1:
1. War Paint (new song)
2. Walk With Me (new song)
3. Love Is Blind
4. Go Faster
5. Fooled Again
6. OMG (What's Your Name?)
7. Help Me
8. Bad Situation
9. Lie To Me
10. Fear
11. You Can’t Save Me
12. Doing What The Devil Says To Do
13. Remember (Reprise) [re-recorded]

Disc 2:
1. What Is (2014 version)
2. High (2014 version)
3. Change (2014 version)
4. Special (2014 version)
5. Paint It On (Acoustic Version)
6. Holding On (Acoustic Version)
7. Until You Suffer Some [Fire And Ice] (Acoustic Version) *
8. The Road (Acoustic Version)
9. Regret (Original Demo Version) +
10. Damaged (Original Demo Version) +

* Original: "Native Tongue" by Poison (1993)
+ Original: "The Winery Dogs" by The Winery Dogs (2013)



ASTRAL DOORS - Notes From The Shadows [Bonus Track Version] (2014)

ASTRAL DOORS - Notes From The Shadows [Bonus Track Version] (2014) full


For a band that’s garnered any success at all in the Hard Rock / Heavy Metal genre, the next album is always the most important one. Continuing to grow musically and put out quality material is what separates a band from being classified a 'flash in the pan or becoming one that has a long and storied career, usually resulting in a greatest hits collection somewhere along the way.
Building on a successful career and living up to the expectations of putting out another quality album is the challenge facing any and all headlining bands, and with the release of “Notes From The Shadows”, ASTRAL DOORS have met the challenge head on.

Hailing from Sweden, ASTRAL DOORS are comprised of Patrik Johansson on vocals, Joachim Nordlund on guitar, Ulf Lagerstroem on bass, Johan Lindstedt on drums, and Joakim Roberg on keybords. Anyone who is familiar with this talented Metal outfit, have experienced the pure strength of Johansson’s vocal range and have undoubtedly heard the comparisons to the late, great Ronnie James Dio.
And though the comparisons are justified, this guy is way more than just a Dio sound-alike; he has a style of his own to go along with the prideful similarity to one of the greatest vocalists in heavy metal history. He is well on his way to becoming a legend for the genre, and as great as he is, the band behind him is equally as talented.

ASTRAL DOORS - Notes From The Shadows [Bonus Track Version] (2014) inside

Nordlund is an amazing axe wielder that delivers rock 'n' roll wizardry with every lick, and to me, his style is reminiscent of a modern day power-metal version of Jake E. Lee or Randy Rhoads.
Lagerstroem and Lindstedt flex their muscle on the bottom end and bring the heaviness that is sometimes overlooked in a great metal band, and with Roberg putting just the right amount of keys over the top, this band is the real deal.
“Notes From The Shadows”, the phenomenal seventh offering from ASTRAL DOORS, contains some of the best-written songs in their discography. The music is melodically powerful and has no weak moments anywhere on this 11-track release (with this Bonus Track Version including a digital extra), solidifying the fact that bands like Rainbow, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Black Sabbath, and of course, DIO, have heavily influenced their souls over the years.

All of these influences shine through on “The Last Temptation of Christ”, a really catchy, up-tempo song that will be extremely pleasing to classic Judas Priest fans everywhere and there couldn’t have been a better selection to start this album off on the right foot.
“Shadowchaser” is a blues infused, pure classic melodic metal track that is hauntingly DIO-esqe to the core and may very well be my favorite Astral Doors song of all time. The rest of the tracks are equally as heavy, punchy and haunting and sound better the louder they get.

ASTRAL DOORS - Notes From The Shadows [Bonus Track Version] (2014) back cover

Playing Metal like it was meant to be played, “Notes From The Shadows” is a collection of songs that will hit the old school Metalhead in the heart and bring back memories of some of the great headliners of the '80s.
With the death of Ronnie James Dio a few years ago, it has become more important than ever for bands like Astral Doors, as well as others like Jorn, to carry on the sound that has become increasingly void with his passing.
Strongly Recommended.

01. The Last Temptation of Christ
02. Disciples of the Dragon Lord
03. Wailing Wall
04. Shadowchaser
05. Die Alone
06. Hoodoo Ceremony
07. Southern Conjuration
08. Walker the Stalker
09. Desert Nights
10. In The Name of Rock
11. Confessions
12. Shadow Prelude in E Minor (Digital Bonus Track)

Nils Patrik Johansson - Vocals
Joachim Nordlund - Guitars
Ulf Lagerström - Bass
Jocke Roberg - Keyboards
Johan Lindstedt - Drums
thanks to Jeff Legg



Thursday, August 28, 2014

HAMMERFALL - (r)Evolution (2014)

HAMMERFALL - (r)Evolution (2014) full


"(r)Evolution" is the ninth studio album by Swedish metallers HAMMERFALL due to be released on August 27, 2014 in Sweden, August 29 in mainland Europe and September 2 in North America.
When it comes to power metal, it seems there are three tiers of fans: the haters, the lovers, and the indifferent. When it comes to HammerFall, there are two tiers of fans: the dripping admirers and the loathers. Each side alternates, especially if the band decides to recapture some of its original mojo from their first album.

I always liked HammerFall's early records and their 'polished power metal', but with subsequent releases things turned a bit boring. "(r)Evolution", despite its title, is a returning to the roots, but with the experience and skills of 20 years as a band. And I like what I hear.
Besides, there's the awesome Anders Johansson on drums, and since 2008, HammerFall has another ace under the sleeve: terrific guitarist Pontus Norgren.
So what can you expect? The HammerFall of old – complete with epic vocals, muscular riffs and catchy 'pride of the warrior' choruses.

HAMMERFALL - (r)Evolution (2014) inside

"(r)Evolution" is an 'easy listening' power metal record, melodic, polished and really well produced. If you never heard them, the band turned more prog metal lately. On this album, the music is less intricate, direct. Think old school European melodic metal.
And it's good.

With "(r)Evolution", HammerFall takes things back to the roots in many ways, as the band once again worked with producer Fredrik Nordström (first album), who played a major part in the development of the band.
Also, HammerFall hired again cover artist Andreas Marschall, the 'father' of the band's mascot Hector to design the cover for the new CD. I think this is the only mistake on this release; this artwork is very poor and outadted.
Anyway, Hector is tributed on the opening track "Hector’s Hymn", which musically brings back the 'old' with a refreshed perspective. Within the first 3 seconds after the short intro, the speed hits you hard and suddenly you 'remember yesterday'.
Next the title track will bring back some of that old charm glory with its building intro that dives into a catchy little riff and big bolstering chorus. Its strength is its simplicity of style.
There's speedier numbers to come, like the epic "We Won’t Back Down" and one of the album’s best track "Origins", but never too much heavy, but as said, Euro melodic metal.

HAMMERFALL - (r)Evolution (2014) cd photo

As for the performances and production, it's top notch and extremely polished, and will charm more traditional listeners from the classic hard rock field.
Singer Joacim Cans has thankfully cleared out his sinuses that clogged on recent releases, recapturing some of his older and much cleaner glory days. Norgren spits some fiery solos and 'drumming machine' Anders Johansson rocks.
Yeah, lyrically, a return to kings, glory, metal and warriors it's a bit outdated, but who cares? It fits the traditional metal of the music, and more than a nostalgic trip it's a fun and entertaining listen.
“(r)Evolution” is an uprising of old Euro melodic metal, refreshed and catchy without being overdone and drab. The band’s decision to stick to what it is good at and what made the group famous was a sound decision. At least for this classic melodic metal fan.
Quite Recommended.

01 - Hector’s Hymn
02 - (r)Evolution
03 - Bushido
04 - Live Life Loud
05 - Ex Inferis
06 - We Won’t Back Down
07 - Winter Is Coming
08 - Origins
09 - Tainted Metal
10 - Evil Incarnate
11 - Wildfire

Joacim Cans - lead and backing vocals
Oscar Dronjak - guitars, keyboards, backing vocals
Pontus Norgren - guitars, backing vocals
Fredrik Larsson - bass, backing vocals
Anders Johansson - drums

BUY IT / Pre-Order :


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

NOBODYS CHILDREN - Long Road (2014)

NOBODYS CHILDREN - Long Road (2014) full


In the late '80s and early '90s, L.A. was ground zero for all kinds of emerging hard rock / hair metal bands that were kicking down the doors of the Sunset Strip. However, 2000+ miles to the east was another LA (Louisiana) that was grooming a five man powerhouse band by the name of NOBODYS CHILDREN.
They had everything that the west coast bands had and a live show reported as explosive, and a major record deal was at front door. That never happened (the band refused to move to California) but Nobodys Children managed to record their debut "Long Road" released by themselves and sold locally.
Now reissue label FnA Records has remastered the album including never before released live tracks as bonus tracks.

From 1988 to 1992, seems Nobodys Children were a force to be reckoned with playing countless shows across the US East Coast 5-plus nights a week. The live show involved enough lighting and stage equipment crammed into a 24 foot truck that would have shamed even the greatest of bands on the Sunset Strip back in the day.
Nobodys Children established themselves as one of the most requested live acts on the circuit, with their first single "Why Don’t You Cry" becoming a radio hit on 98 Rocks KTAL FM.
Nobodys Children's music is hard rock, American Melodic Hard Rock with the sound & style from the late '80s akin Ratt, the first Cinderella, Black 'N Blue, Mariah, etc.
Their songs are driven by the dynamic guitar pairing of Nathan H. and Craig Bradford through melodic riffs and precise solos. Frontman Brad Robinson has the typical hair metal voice like a mix of Jamie St. James and Stephen Pearcy, while Geoffrey Ward's drumming style add heaviness to the band's sonic output.

NOBODYS CHILDREN - Long Road (2014)

The album includes some quite good melodic hard rockers such as the aforementioned "Why Don’t You Cry", "Standing On My Heart" and the tongue-in-cheek "Sweet Dreams", interspersed with more punchy hard rock numbers like "Power Chain" and "Standing On My Heart".
The title track "Long Road" is a nice mid-tempo with power ballad leanings. Other cuts are a little more standard and with a filler smell, not bad at all but surely needed extra polishing.
Production could be a lot better (indie), same with with the added live bonuses, yet the remaster has provided a pumping air to the tapes to make them more dynamic.
Nobodys Children's "Long Road" is a nice slice of American Melodic Hard Rock, rescuing this 'lost' only record from the band which as said, includes some good rocking songs with all the magic of an era.

01 - Children Intro
02 - Sweet Dreams
03 - (Just A Lotta) Hot Air
04 - Long Road
05 - Power Chain
06 - Why Don't You Cry
07 - Always Gotta Do It To Me
08 - Standing On My Heart
09 - Not Without You
10 - Live It
11 - (I Can) Bleed For You (Live)
12 - Tell Me (Live)
13 - Anymore Everyday (Live)

Brad Robinson – Vocals
Craig Bradford – Guitars
Nathan H. – Guitars
Kevin Henderson – Bass
Geoffrey Ward – Drums



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

BIG ENGINE - Shot Like A Rocket (2014)

BIG ENGINE - Shot Like A Rocket (2014) full


Coming from Jacksonville, Florida, BIG ENGINE is one of those great bands that have been rocking for many years but went unnoticed for the major public. Until now... because they are presenting the kick ass "Shot Like A Rocket", Big Engine's 'presentation' CD.
To be clear, several of the songs here have appeared on their previous four albums. But it's all good. These songs are some of Big Engine's best.

The songs also are representative of Big Engine's style: genuine American Classic Rock, with a touch of Melodic Southern and a rocking 'country hard rock' flair, most notable in the guitar playing of Hans Oelleric. Fundamentally, what we're getting at is that Big Engine is a Rock band, a band where that hard rock groove is the foundation.
Listening to "Burn It Down", "Turn It On", "I'm Ready Let's Go", or tittle track "Shot Like A Rocket", toe-tapping groove is at a premium, as much as hooks and melody.
Through in some damn catchy refrains and you got tunes equally positive for busting a bar, bringing down the house and blowing out some bikers, and if this were 1983, likely filling up arenas playing alongside .38 Special.

Amongst the 'older' tracks my favorite is "Party Like A Rock Star", a moving rocker that somehow recalls Canadians Loverboy. "No Money" has a cool bass line that pounds from open to close, as well as solid drumming that accentuates the bass and guitars.
The record is balanced with some of Southern sweetness with the ballads "No More Time", "Not Your Fool", the bluesy "Sister Mary", and the humorous swagger of "Nice Sass", and things get mighty interesting and entertaining.
Honestly, every song here is solid stuff. This is sturdy, keg busting, and shot downing American Classic Rock, and a whole lot of fun. I can't imagine not having a good time at a Big Engine show.

Big Engine are the perfect example of Rock done right: it’s catchy, got great hooks, sing a long choruses and it’s all light hearted, fun, highly enjoyable stuff.

BIG ENGINE - Shot Like A Rocket (2014) inside

Apart from Oellerich, the core of the band is completed by singer Tony Mikus, and both have been developing Big Engine for 20 years or so. And you can hear that experience. His classy vocals come together with the guitars and rhythm section to create an excellent feel-good vibe that gets the foot going and the head banging.
As stated in the highlight "Burn It Down"; 'we get a little crazy, and we get a little loud, everybody wants to party with the boys from the South'. I can understand why.
Get this CD and party like a rock star.
Very Recommended.

01 - Party Like a Rock Star
02 - Shake That Thing
03 - Call Me for a Good Time
04 - That Girl's a Freak
05 - Sister Mary
06 - Turn It On
07 - I'm Ready - Let's Go
08 - Not Your Fool
09 - Shot Like a Rocket
10 - No Money
11 - Burn It Down
12 - Nice Sass
13 - Make Your Move
14 - No More Time

Tony Mikus - vocals, guitar
Hans Oellerich - guitars, background vocals
Ryan Williams - guitar, strings, keyboards, bass, background vocals
Steve Wheeler - slide guitar
Matt McCoy, Ryan Wilcox - bass, background vocals
Banner Thomas - bass
Benny Puckett, Charlie Ost - drums
Nigel Dupree, Jay Brown, Wayne Effler, Jim Curtis - background vocals



COLD SHOT - Cold Shot (2014)

COLD SHOT - Cold Shot (2014) Eonian records full


Reissue label Eonian Records from Indianapolis, Indiana, has been released some obscure recordings from '80s hard rock bands that never got lucky back in a day. Now it's time for COLD SHOT.
Twenty years after laying down their metaphorical guns, Cold Shot's music is being reloaded and is ready to roar once again. Eonian is releasing the band's self-titled debut album today, August 26th, produced and engineered by Mark Eisenstein and Russ Castillo (The Doors, Kansas, Pink Floyd).

Like so many good hard rock acts, Cold Shot was formed in the seething cauldron of excess and decadence that was the L.A. metal scene in 1988. Cold Shot was a band that came about through pure chance.
Well known guitarist Anthony Gallo had been a part of the Californian scene for quite some time, having played since the early '80s in bands like New Regime, Suicidal Tendencies / Los Cycos and Chodle's Trunk with former Megadeth drummer Nick Menza. But with a disillusionment growing exponentially by the day.
All changed when he heard singer / songwriter Adam Murray sing at a show. The power of Murray's voice conviced him that they would be partners in a new hard rocking band.
The two became fast friends and quickly formed a band called Shark Team, a name Adam hated right from the start.

COLD SHOT - Cold Shot (2014) inside

Eager to get their name - loathed as it might be by his musical partner in crime - out there, Anthony booked a show at Gazzarri's before they even had a bassist or drummer. Luckily it didn’t take long to fill these slots; Erin Bartley answered the ad for the bass player position and recommended his roommate Rikki Baggett for drumming duties.

Adam insisted, and the group's name was changed to "Cold Shot", inspired from Stevie Ray Vaughan's song of the same name.
With the new moniker came a fresh burst of luck. The band caught the attention of well-known promoter Sam Sarkiss. They had their pictures snapped by legendary photographer Neil Zlozower, Erin and Anthony secured endorsement deals with Renegade Custom Guitars.
Cold Shot headlined and sold out well-known venues on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood like The Roxy and Whisky a Go Go on a regular basis, and sharing the stage alongside such bands as the Bullet Boys, Bang Tango and Guns 'N Roses.

They even recorded two songs - “Juicy Lucy” and “Higher” - for the soundtrack to Brad Pitt’s first indie film 'Across the Tracks', the latter of which was co-written with Carlos Cavazo of Quiet Riot and Ratt fame.
All this eventually led to a deal offer from Virgin Records, but before anything materialized grunge came along and put the screws to hard rock related genres.

Now Cold Shot is getting ready to take another 'shot'.
This is a very nice collection of uncompromised hard rock rock songs, with a couple bordering American metal. There's Sunset Strip sleazy melodies, some tracks impregnated with a strong 1989 Melodic Hard Rock vibe, and the obligatory power ballad.
Despite the different styles (all revolving around a hard rock sound) and compositional times (between 1988-1993), the CD results quite homogeneous, with a punchy rocking output. The guitar work is hot (Anthony Gallo is the director here) and although Adam Murray tends to scream too much at times, he born to sing this L.A. hard rock songs.
Another really cool band rescued by Eonian Records. Keep 'em comin'.

01. Juicy Lucy
02. Foolish Pride
03. Cold Shot
04. No Time
05. Gimme What I Need
06. Mine All Mine
07. Heart Of The City
08. Long Legs
09. Captured
10. Without Your Love
11. Higher

Adam Murray - Vocals
Anthony Gallo - Guitars, Backing Vocals
Erin Bartley - Bass, Backing Vocals
Rikki Baggett - Drums



JEFF LaBAR (Cinderella) - One For The Road (2014)

JEFF LaBAR (Cinderella) - One For The Road (2014) full


How the members of Cinderella are able to take a prolonged break from recording new material, then abruptly break through the silence with what is a pair of solo albums is nothing short of remarkable.
Lead vocalist Tom Keifer led the rest of the pack with his anticipated debut last year, and now guitarist JEFF LaBAR is strongly following his steps on his first solo record  "One For The Road" released today.

While Keifer opted for a more rootsy music, what Jeff LaBar showcases on the opener track and music video for “No Strings” remains in comfortable territory, with the outcome sounding like a chaotic compilation of Cinderella’s 'Somebody Save Me' and Dokken’s 'It’s Not Love,' complete with a familiar set of string bends during the introduction which pays homage to the former.
The guitarist himself recognizes that the song could easily fit on a new Cinderella record, just throw Keifer’s scratchy falsetto into the mix and you have a runaway hard rock anthem.
Dedicated listeners are at least subconsciously familiar with LaBar’s talent as a vocalist, as he has offered the backbone to many of Cinderella’s instantly recognizable choruses.

Rather than appoint a singer who takes a similar approach as Tom Keifer, Jeff LaBar confidently steps to the front of the mix as a lead vocalist, and the result remains familiar sounding yet ultimately steps aside as something unique; arguably, just as a solo album should. Jeff's vocals uncover a gem, in that the man can sing.

“Asking For A Beating” is a heavier track that doesn’t veer from the course, it simply adds some attitude and power to the groove. The rhythm section anchors the songk while the vocals and guitar duet in a darker groove than most of the other tracks on the disc.
“Muse” is the first of two guitar instrumentals, and it sets the mood for the next track. “Hello Or Goodbye” is a beautiful composition that allows Jeff’s vocals to mesh with an acoustic guitar, while giving the disc a little depth, by rocking while in ballad mode.
“Ode To Page” is the other instrumental on the disc with a cool guitar work offering layered parts and solos. Yes, it's a song dedicated to Jimmy Page.

“Nightmare On My Street” is another track that builds on the '80s sound with all the trappings of a killer hard rock track without going overboard with any of them. Jeff provides to his trademark style and vibe an updated feel and grittiness. His vocals are dark and heavy, while the riffs are furious and full.
Title track “One For The Road” takes us back to the sound Jeff helped create for Cinderella, without the nostalgic feel – this is a fresh take on a classic sound & style. Vocals and guitars come together to build a meaty, rocking mid-tempo that reminds you Richie Sambora's first solo album, and it's one of the highlights on the record.

JEFF LaBAR (Cinderella) - One For The Road (2014) inside

If you missed classic Cinderella in the recent Keifer album, look no more; get Jeff LaBar's “One For The Road” immediately.
Jeff has finally graced the hard rock world with a terrific solo album which leaves you hungry for more and forces to push the repeat button (it's the first of two, seven song offerings). Yes, it's too short, but I prefer 7 great tracks and not unnecessary fillers.
Quality '80s hard rock proudly arise on “One For The Road” thanks to Jeff LaBar and his 'special touch'. Don't miss this one.
Highly Recommended.

01. No Strings
02. Asking For A Beating
03. Muse
04. Hello Or Goodbye
05. Ode To Page
06. Nightmare on My Street
07. One For The Road

Jeff LaBar - vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass
Troy Lucketta (Tesla) - drums
Chris Williams - drums
Cheney Brannon - drums
Ronnie Honeycutt - drums



Monday, August 25, 2014

PHILIP SAYCE - Influence (2014)

PHILIP SAYCE - Influence (2014) full


If you ask to a friend to name a Blues musician, chances are he come out with names like John Lee Hooker, BB King, or maybe Joe Bonamassa if he is not too old. But you are a skilled music listener, and if you were to ask them to name a Blues-Rock musician or band you’d probably be met by a puzzled reaction, but in some ways that’s not a surprise – after all Blues rock covers such a wide range of music that it’s hard to even pin down what it is.
Blues / Hard Rock guitarist and singer PHILIP SAYCE demonstrates this perfectly with his new album relased today, "Influence", an album that owes more to Jimi Hendrix than John Lee Hooker.

If that sounds like a strange statement - more Hendrix than Hoooker - just listen to “Out of my Mind” and you’ll hear exactly what I mean. This is heavy blues, or if you prefer, classic rock / hard rock strongly soaked in blues.
The first song, “Tom Devil” has such a heavy riff that it wouldn't feel out of place on a Black Sabbath album. Again not what you’d think of as 'Blues rock', but that’s part of what makes this album so good – it doesn't feel tied to a narrow musical range, but instead Philip Sayce plays what he wants, so you get a lot of variety.
One thing that is consistent is the quality – simply superb at all times.

“Fade Into You” is a slow number, quite groovy. Despite the use of an acoustic guitar alongside the electric guitar, it’s got a dark moody feel to it and a lot of 'heaviness'.
In contrast, “Blues ain’t Nothin’ but a good Woman on your Mind” is a much more traditional bluesy number. Having said that, the guitar work is heavier than you might associate with the the genre, so it’s got quite a modern feel to it.

PHILIP SAYCE - Influence (2014) cd photo

The album is a mix of original songs and cover versions. Covers include a rocking take on “Green Power” (Little Richard), “Better Days” (Graham Nash) and “Peace in the Valley” (Thomas A Dorsey – but covered by artists including Little Richard and Elvis Presley).
With the album having so much variety then most of these cover versions fit in well – sometimes you’ll find artists including a cover version and a quick listen to the album makes it obvious which the cover was – it’s the one that sounds totally different to the rest of the album.

A strong follow-up to his 2012 effort, "Influence" kicks and screams on its way to the classic rock radio. Sayce’s playfully soulful vibe blends with high shrieks and emotive solos. Indeed, throughout the album, Sayce takes a powerful riff and pairs it with a worthy counterpart, his chops. Each fighting for their share of the spotlight, the songs bounces between the two, until it all falls together.
Credit must be given to drummer, Chris Powell, who stays on par with the intensity of every track resulting in a hot, hard, classic rock exercise.

PHILIP SAYCE - Influence (2014) back cover

Producer Dave Cobb does a phenomenal job directing and participating in it himself. He contributes a great deal of the modern blues keys to success. Having worked with Rival Sons, one can easily make the transition to Sayce in style and talent. Cobb sure knows how to pick ‘em.
It is easy to herd Sayce into the upper echelon of today’s blues guitarists. His vocal styling paired with his insatiable appetite on the guitar give him all the tools needed for success, with one x factor, unadulterated raw talent.
Philip Sayce is up against tough competition, but I’d be surprised if at the end of the year "Influence" wasn’t featured in several 'album of the year' lists.
Strongly Recommended.

01. Tom Devil (Feat. Ed Lewis And Prisoners)
02. Out Of My Mind
03. Sailin' Shoes
04. I'm Going Home
05. Fade Into You
06. Blues Ain't Nothing But A Good Woman On Your Mind
07. Green Power
08. Better Days
09. Easy On The Eyes
10. Evil Woman
11. Triumph
12. Light Em Up
13. Peace In The Valley (Feat. Joe Savage)

Philip Sayce: Vocals, electric & acoustic guitars
Dave Cobb: Bass guitar, acoustic guitar & percussion
Chris Powell: Drums, percussion
Fred Mandel: Piano, organ & keyboards
Reese Wynans: Organ (tracks 5, 13)
Kristen Rogers: Vocals (track 3, 7, 9, 10)
Miles Miller: Drums (track 2)
Mike Webb: Piano & organ (track 7, 8)
Ed Lewis and The Prisoners: Vocals (track 1)
Joe Savage: Vocals (track 13)



Sunday, August 24, 2014

THE BABYS - Union Jacks [Rock Candy remaster]

THE BABYS - Union Jacks [Rock Candy remaster] full


British melodic rockers THE BABYS returned this year with a very nice album, the first in 33 years since the group disbanded. New singer John Bisaha does a great job, but for those fans whom still miss the unique John Waite, here we have all their last 3 original albums 'Remastered & Reloaded' not so long ago by Rock Candy Records.

"UNION JACKS", The Babys' fourth album and produced by Keith Olsen (Foreigner, Whitesnake), heralded a change to not only their sound but also their line-up. Introducing keyboardist Jonathan Cain (later to join Journey and Bad English) and bassist Ricky Phillips (also a future member of Bad English) to the fold, the band tweaked their style, introducing a punchier and dynamic edge.

THE BABYS - Union Jacks [Rock Candy remaster] booklet

In addition, both of the new members collaborated with songwriting, which helped to propel the band into a new, almost more modern, era but that is not to say they left their rockin’ shoes at home. Far from it.
Stuffed full of tough-guy riffs and brilliantly emotive vocals from John Waite, the album oozes sophistication but retains a rough-hewn urgency that keeps the energy firmly in the red zone.
"Union Jacks" birthed yet another top thirty US hit single, the anthemic "Back On My Feet Again", cementing The Babys reputation as one of the greatest melodic hard rock bands of the period.
But there's more: the catchy "Midnight Rendezvous", the classy title track, and the awesome "In Your Eyes", that sounds like a Bad English song, but recorded 10 years after.

THE BABYS - Union Jacks [Rock Candy remaster] back cover

"Union Jacks" always will be my favorite The Babys record. It was ahead of its time, with refined melodic arrangements and a polished, glossy production that would be the AOR staple in years to come.
This Rock Candy remaster is terrific, brilliant, wide open. The booklet is great as well, including a track-by-track comment by John Waite.
A Must Have.

01 - Back On My Feet Again
02 - True Love True Confession
03 - Midnight Rendezvous
04 - Union Jacks
05 - In Your Eyes
06 - Anytime
07 - Jesus, Are You There?
08 - Turn Around In Tokyo
09 - Love Is Just A Mystery

John Waite: Lead Vocals
Wally Stocker: Guitar
Ricky Phillips: Bass
Jonathan Cain: Keyboards
Tony Brock: Drums



Saturday, August 23, 2014

THE BABYS - Head First [Rock Candy remaster]

THE BABYS - Head First [Rock Candy remaster] full


British melodic rockers THE BABYS returned this year with a very nice album, the first in 33 years since the group disbanded. New singer John Bisaha does a great job, but for those fans whom still miss the unique John Waite, here we have all their last 3 original albums 'Remastered & Reloaded' not so long ago by Rock Candy Records.

After two quite good albums, The Babys were ready to explode worldwide.
Imagine you are a mid-seventies rock band from London. You get signed to a hip and happening label - Chrysalis Records. Your debut album is recorded in Toronto with Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd).
The label pays for you to relocate to Los Angeles where you sit in the sun and record your second album, which unexpectedly produces a hit single (Isn’t It Time). Life is good and it can only get better, right?
Well, not exactly…

THE BABYS - Head First [Rock Candy remaster] booklet

Cocky and full of self confidence The Babys recorded their third album "Head First" only to be told by their label that it wasn’t, er, ‘what they were expecting’ and could they please go back and take another stab at it.
It was a soul destroying moment and one that resulted in major upheaval, with founding member Mike Corby departing the band for good.
Reluctantly, the band re-cut "Head First" produced by maestro Ron Nevison (Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Heart), and, against all odds, continued their path to fame and fortune by producing yet another sizeable US hit single, with the classic "Every Time I Think Of You", and touring with some of the biggest names in rock.

Fronted by one of the world’s most talented vocalists, John Waite, "Head First" is a remarkable album, from conception to execution, containing a brace of tracks that builds on the band’s bluesy rock roots to incorporate melody and sophistication tailor made for American rock radio.

THE BABYS - Head First [Rock Candy remaster] back cover

After being out of print for many years, Rock Candy Records rescued this very fine slice of melodic rock with a nice remastering. It is a little louder but crisp and clear transferred from the master tapes and preserving that 'analog' vibe.
If you never heard "Head First" before I'd urge you to go out and buy it if you like your music melodic but with a touch of blood running through it. Fantastic singing and musicianship.
Strongly Recommended.

01 - Love Don't Prove I'm Right
02 - Every Time I Think Of You
03 - I Was One
04 - White Lightning
05 - Run To Mexico
06 - Head First
07 - You (Got It)
08 - Please Don't Leave Me Here
09 - California

John Waite: Bass, Lead Vocals
Walter Stocker: Guitar
Tony Brock: Drums
Michael Corby: Guitar, Keyboards
Jack Conrad: Bass
Kevin Kelly: Piano
Jimmie Haskell: Strings & Horns
John Sinclair: Synthesizer on 'White Lightning'
Marti McCall, Myrna Mathews, Dianna Lee: Additional background vocals



Friday, August 22, 2014

THESE RAVEN SKIES - These Raven Skies (2014)

THESE RAVEN SKIES - These Raven Skies (2014) full


THESE RAVEN SKIES are a Calgary, Canada, based rocking band which were playing in the area and recording some demos, and when one of these tapes ended up in Jeff Martin’s hands, the destiny of These Raven Skies changed forever.
For starters, Martin is best known as lead vocalist for multi-platinum selling Canadian rock icons The Tea Party, as well as an accomplished multi-instrumentalist, composer and in-demand music producer.
He was so impressed with These Raven Skies that not only took them under his wing and produced their self-titled debut, but also played on three tracks.

Rock / Metal music has a generic expectation as a genre of music. This expectation is to have loud, heavy instruments, shout-type singing and lyrics that are less than thoughtful. After listening to These Raven Skies, that expectation might be different.
While there is the heavy, pounding instrumentation – for most songs – that fans of the genre enjoy, the singing is not simply over the top. While it is strong, there is also a rough undertone that flexes the type of singing giving the songs a unique sound.

THESE RAVEN SKIES - These Raven Skies (2014) logo

For the third expectation, the lyrics, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that These Raven Skies do have some that have poetic and thoughtful value. A bit more in depth – something that appeals to many isteners.

Musically, These Raven Skies comfortably mix a wide range of easily recognisable roots headfirst into a fiery brew of solid guitar riffs, Bonham-inspired skin pounding and a singer that can easily be identified as 'classic rock'.
Yes, it's hard rock with a bluesy root, but the blues factor is injected with a 'southern' vibe, and I like it.
Whether instantly drawn to the light of perfectly mastered slide-guitar courtesy of “Come Sit Next To Me” or the eerie attack of Perkins’ dead-on Rob Halford (ala 'Deliver The Goods') approach to “Are We Having Fun Yet?” the boys are making noise and it sounds pretty damn awesome.
While there are the rocking songs, there are some that slow down. "Emily and Alick" is one of these. It is still edgy (with a sick guitar solo) but overall much more melodic and one of my favourites. The track was wisely well-placed in the middle of the album and provides a nice balance.

THESE RAVEN SKIES - These Raven Skies (2014) inside

These Raven Skies' self-titled debut CD is one of those rare avis nowadays; you can listen to the whole thing, all the way through in one sitting… and then hit repeat immediately. Believe me, these guys have something 'special'.
This is not a generic, expected, hard rocking album that has all of the same components of every other album of its genre. The songs each stand out in there own way, yet all sound like they should be together. The lyrics are uplifting and meaningful if listened to and the instrumentals have all the feel that fans of this genre will appreciate.
Jeff Martin’s is excellent for this this type of classic hard, and his musical knowledge contributes to the bright and earthy sound of the album.
Very Recommended.

01 - Magick Waters
02 - No Need to Worry (feat. Jeff Martin)
03 - The Garden (feat. Jeff Martin)
04 - Are We Having Fun? (feat. Jeff Martin)
05 - Come Sit Next to Me
06 - Emily & Alick
07 - Open Road
08 - Truth Be Told
09 - The Hooker

Perkins - vocals
Alex Whitcombe - guitar
Trevor Landmark - bass
Shand Munro - drums
Jeff Martin - guest guitar & vocals, producer



BLACK STATE HIGHWAY - Black State Highway (2014)

BLACK STATE HIGHWAY - Black State Highway (2014) full


BLACK STATE HIGHWAY are a five-piece female fronted new outfit formed at the Brighton Institute Of Modern Music, which their self titled debut album provide their own contemporary take on classic hard rock.
Despite forming in Brighton, UK, the band is comprised of a handful of nationalities: Latvian singer Liva Steinberga, Scottish bassist Gordon Duncan, English guitarist Olie Trethewey, Ginger drummer Harry Bland, and Swedish guitarist Yonnis Crampton.

Black State Highway's music is traditonal British hard rock with a strong bluesy vibe, twinned with metal’s amplification and attitude. Having met at music school it’s perhaps not a surprise that the playing is technically impressive, but the feel and passion evident dismisses fears of baby-faced, soulless prodigies churning out shiny but sterile facsimile’s of real rock songs.
There is no weak link in this band, everyone gets to shine, but perhaps the first member to really impress is Latvian vocalist Liva Steinberga. Her voice is not one that has the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, but it possesses something maybe rarer, the essence of herself is within it so that you believe whatever she sings.

The lyrics, even though they deal in the usual rock staples feel like they are legitimately in her own voice, not just assembled from the rhyming dictionary.
Lead out track "Conclusion" is a fine example of this, a tale of a girl dumping her rubbish bloke with the kiss off of – 'Sorry love, you’re just not worth it' – it just feels real. It’s not the best song here but showcases her sass and the bands fabulously fluid bluesy rock chops, with excellently supple bass by Gordon Duncan, leading from the front and holding the whole thing together.

BLACK STATE HIGHWAY - Black State Highway (2014) inside

Musically, Black State Highway tip their hat to hard rock heroes such as AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and inevitably Zeppelin but they ultimately rely on their own songs and some powerhouse rocking to unveil a melodic hard rock style best evidenced by the third track "Broken".
This is also the track on which Steinberga really hits her range, as she extends her phrasing to fulfil the promise shown on the opening track. It’s a heavy bluesy piece built on a familiar quiet-to-loud dynamic, full of booming riffs and an up-in-the-mix drums.
The band mines Sabbath riffs on the following track "Free", as Lisa explores a vocal drone that would surely make Ozzy smile, before some Purple influenced riffs on the outro.
"Sacrifice" is powerful if more trad in form and possesses a great chugging rhythmic energy. Within it’s squalling guitars and punishing drums there’s a hint of Soundgarden‘s twisted '70s metal classicism gone weird.

Now "Tekkers" is funky blast of horny girl power that gives a tingle on every play. There are dazzling guitar solos towards the close and this track seals my belief that Trethaway and Crampton are one the best new guitar duo I’ve heard this year.
They might teach you the rudiments of theory, technique and even business at the Brighton Institute Of Modern Music where the band learnt their craft, but they don’t necessarily bless you with an intuitive feel for hard rock, let alone some of the great guitar tones to be found on this album.
The unashamedly yet great Deep Purple influenced "Trouble" rounds things off in a suitably intense, hard edged blues-rock mode. It’s the perfect finish to 8 big reasons why HNE Records have snapped one of the most exciting young hard rock bands of the last few years.

BLACK STATE HIGHWAY - Black State Highway (2014) back cover

So here we have eight tracks, absolutely no fat, every moment a grin-inducing triumph for the forces of classic hard rock. Black State Highway are a credit to their school, a credit to the European Union and a credit to real rock n’roll.
They have the attitude, the well written songs, and the skills. Key to the band’s confident ball busting style is the rock solid rhythm section of bassist Gordon Duncan and drummer Harry Bland, who push the twin-barrel incendiary riffs of guitarists Olie Trethewey and Yonnis Crampton all the way, together with the very personal vocals of Liva Steinberga (no accent at all).
Quite Recommended.

1 - Conclusion
2 - Ain't Got No
3 - Broken
4 - Free
5 - Sacrifice
6 - Tekkers
7 - Common Man
8 - Trouble

Liva Steinberga - Vocals
Olie Trethewey - Guitar
Yonnis Crampton - Guitar
Gordon Duncan - Bass
Harry Bland - Drums



XANADU - Follow The Instinct (2014)

XANADU - Follow The Instinct (2014) full


Formed in 2008, Polish band XANADU has been cultivating a very strong worldwide fan base amongst heavy progressive rock aficionados since their debut album years ago.
Now Xanadu has finally come around with their sophomore album entitled “Follow The Instinct”. While the first record was an emotional piece of art that focused much on atmosphere and darkness often invoking Riverside, with this fresh effort Xanadu shrug off much of that influence, and they start off on a path all their own.

“Follow The Instinct” progressiveness is quite dark and mysterious. With musical focus as a foundation, the band head down a path of excellent guitars, an incredible rhythm section and background keyboards that set a mood.
The guitar tone has been tweaked to an interesting snarl, and they are used in solos and the like, but also in interesting atmospheric exercises. The drums and bass come fluid, articulate, and are a highlight of this album for me. Hubert Murawski is especially good with his stumbling bass beats and his ability to create fills that feel satisfying.

XANADU - Follow The Instinct (2014) inside

Adam Biskup on bass seems to be playing in a higher key, and it shows in how incredibly detailed and audible his bass lines are.
Xanadu also presents new singer in Krzysztof Borek, a vocalist with a sometimes mellow phrasing, then more grounded that is somewhat rough at times.

“Follow The Instinct” has a great set of tracks, though I think the second half is better. With seven tracks framed by an intro and an outro, the record has a great flow and connection.
Amongst the highlights are the excellent “Escape”, the soaring “More”, and the wonderfully paced “Transistor Night”. However, perhaps the most brilliant composition is the instrumental “Violent Dream, Part 2”. It pulls you in immediately with an impressive technique and its complexity and bleakness.

XANADU - Follow The Instinct (2014) cd photo

Xanadu’s “Follow The Instinct” is a highly elaborated album with some terrific musicianship and arrangements to explore. It's heavy, prog metal at places, mellower and reflexive at others.
With a starker vibe and passive attitude that is punctuated by technical punches, “Follow The Instinct” is one of the better progressive albums I’ve heard this year, and it won’t be forgotten quickly.
Very Recommended.

01 - In
02 - Shape Of Lies
03 - Escape
04 - Soil Of Life
05 - More
06 - Violent Dream pt. 2
07 - Chaos
08 - Transistor Night
09 - Out

Hubert Murawski - drums
Adam Biskup - bass
Janusz Glon - guitar
Przemek Betański - guitar
Krzysztof Borek - vocals



Tuesday, August 19, 2014


TRACII GUNS' LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN - The Second Record (2014) full


L.A. Guns founder guitarist TRACii GUNS set himself on a new path last year when he pulled together his own band LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN and revisited the roots of classic rock. The First Record delved deep into Sixties and Seventies blues and psychedelic rock for a surprisingly refreshing venture.
Now, The Tracii Guns League of Gentlemen warp back to the past once more for "The Second Record".

Tracii and friends appear to go a little deeper into the past, more towards the psychedelic Sixties for their sound. However, unlike the previous album, "The Second Record" offer no original material from the band. It's entirely covers, including songs from The Beatles, John Lennon, Neil Young, Jefferson Airplane, The Kinks, Rolling Stones, and Mitch Davis to mention some of the more high profile artists.
You might find that you might not recognize some of the songs. But you will remember Cinnamon Girl, White Rabbit, Ride Captain Ride, Lennon's Gimme Some Truth or For What It's Worth.
That latter song, made famous by Buffalo Springfield, is likely best known by it's refrain, 'I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down.'

TRACII GUNS' LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN - The Second Record (2014) booklet

Possibly the very best thing that can be said of this album, the songs, and the League's treatment of them, is the genuine authenticity and simplicity they give the songs.
In those days there was no digital recording, Pro Tools, or auto-tuning. Recording was simple and direct, often bare bones, raw, and straight forward, with the musician and instrument seeming to have an almost organic bond.
Guns and fellows get this, and while it may seem that these recordings sound more modern, the band strays little from the original vibe of a song.
The aforementioned "For What It's Worth" is a good example when Guns expresses the psycho, sometime eerie, guitar line that both leads and provides the necessary atmosphere. Another is "White Rabbit", where the drums offer this disturbing foreboding at the start and the guitar line, again, reveals the trippiness of the lyrical theme.

TRACII GUNS' LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN - The Second Record (2014) inside

Fundamentally, while wanting to render the songs faithfully, I think Guns's League wanted mostly to channel the musical style and spirit of the era to our century.
That's no mean feat, and they succeed substantially. It might even cause you to a little classic rock history yourself.
This is Classic Rock, and really well done.

01 - Anywhere We Want To Go
02 - Cinnamon Girl
03 - Sunshine
04 - Days
05 - Gimme Some Truth
06 - You Get What You Deserve
07 - Citadel
08 - For What It's Worth
09 - Ride Captain Ride
10 - Hey Bulldog
11 - Strychnine
12 - White Rabbit
13 - Devil Or Angel
14 - Eeny Meeny Miney Moe

Tracii Guns - Guitars
Scott Foster Harris - Vocals
Doni Gray - Drums
Craig McCloskey - Bass
John Bird - Keyboards



MIKE TRAMP (White Lion) - Museum (2014)

MIKE TRAMP (White Lion) - Museum (2014) full


After last year's very well received semi acoustic album Cobblestone Street, White Lion vocalist MIKE TRAMP toured massively thru Europe, USA and did some shows at Down Under.
MIKE TRAMP even found time to record a brand new album entitled "Museum", released today.

"Museum" picks up exactly where his previous disc Cobblestone Street left off. Again, following his new-found, back-to-the-roots direction, most of the songs are built around his acoustic guitar and amazing vocals with thoughtful and introspective lyrics.
Keyboards and electric guitars are used sparingly in order to bring depth to the songs. This singer-songwriter approach sees Tramp at his expressive best: once again he writes about a wide range of subjects.
The opening song "Trust in Yourself" is about corrupt politicians and law-makers and, while it's a good piece, I feel the opening track on his previous album is a lot more powerful as it helped set the mood for the entire disc. This song, on the other hand, is more of a stand-alone tune.

"Down South" picks up the pace with a playful riff while "Better," informed by a subtle keyboard melody, suggests he is 'slowly getting better' after the tumultuous period he went through being away from his wife and children, which most of the songs on Cobblestone Street dealt with.

MIKE TRAMP (White Lion) - Museum (2014) inside

"Freedom" sounds like a song off of Recovering the Wasted Years. A nice mid-tempo AORish piece, the song basically chronicles his life on tour and how he feels the need to break free every now and then.
"And You Were Gone" and "Commitment" are both mellow in their flow, highlighting Tramp's unique, easily recognizable vocals while "Slave," which gives the impression it was recorded live in a single take, is a nice rocking track.

Without doubt, the most personal song on Museum is "Mother." Tramp has written about his mother before: fans of his first solo album will remember the lyrics on 'Have You Ever' where he tells his mother she is 'more than God'. Based around a simple acoustic guitar theme in order to draw the focus on Tramp's raspy voice and lyrics, this track basically sums up his feelings.
The track ends on a hopeful note, when he sings he will make his 'life worth living' and 'make it up'. Ever since Tramp wrote the track '92' on the first Freak of Nature album, I feel there's no one else out there who can give life and meaning to personal lyrics like he can, and this song is another great addition to his catalog.
The album's last track is the beautiful "Time for Me to Go," which is a song that could be on the previous disc given the lyrics detail his difficult relationship with his wife. It's a melodic rock tune that sounds a lot like a Mike Spiro penned song.

v back cover

"Museum" is another strong solo album by the former White Lion frontman.
Tramp's heart-rending voice is intact and has a feeling that few singers / songwriters can deliver with such expressive musicality.
Lovely record - Recommended.

01. Trust In Yourself
02. New World Coming
03. Down South
04. Better
05. Freedom
06. Commitment
07. And You Were Gone
08. Slave
09. Mother
10. Time For Me To Go

Mike Tramp - All Instruments, Vocals
Written, arranged by Mike Tramp, mixed & mastered by Soren Andersen



Monday, August 18, 2014

HEART - Magazine [Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 171] (2014)

HEART - Magazine [Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 171] (2014) full


Here we have a very interesting choice of album for Audio Fidelity specialists to tackle: "Magazine", by HEART, remastered by Steve Hoffman and pressed on a wonderful sounding SACD.
"Magazine" was certainly commercially successful on its first release in Canada and the U.S., albeit in an unauthorised version that the record company released rather spitefully following fractious attempts by the group to renegotiate their contract.
In fact, it is the third album, that should have been second.

Winding back the clock a little throws some light on the situation. Perhaps also, it becomes a cautionary tale for bands trying to forge a career from their music, without due regard to 'devil in the detail' contracts, and the loss of artistic control.
With this success of their debut album behind them, Heart began demoing new songs for the second contractually obligated album. In the band's estimation, their success put them into a good position from which to renegotiate their contract. Their label Mushroom Records thought otherwise, and the two parties slid into a long and nasty legal battle.
Work on the sessions ground to a halt. Heart left behind the unfinished tracks, and somehow managed to score a deal with Portrait Records. Starting from scratch, they completed what would become their record "Little Queen".
On the side, however, Mushroom decided they had the right to cobble together the working demos, and a few live tracks, and release it as "Magazine".

Remarkably, and provocatively, it came with a printed disclaimer pointing out that the album had been compiled without the group's assent, but that the company wanted to make sure the public got to hear the songs!
It had sold quite well before Heart got wind of it, and the unauthorised edition was withdrawn. But in yet another legal move, Mushroom were then successful in getting the agreement of a judge in Seattle to verify that they had ownership of the tapes.

HEART - Magazine [Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 171] (2014) booklet

Somewhere along the line a compromise was reached, whereby Heart could go back into the studio, and do whatever they felt musically valid, to rescue the demoes. This may have meant new takes, dubs, remixing, deleting or adding tracks.
The resulting album would retain the title "Magazine", and would be owned by Mushroom. So, the mooted second album, became the third album.
This 'authorised' edition was released in April 1978. Surprisingly, it did quite well, reaching top twenty. Perhaps no one was more surprised than the band themselves.

The album kicks off with "Heartless" which is really the very template of Heart in rocking out mode, a cut that landed on the Top 40 charts. "Devil Delight" follows, a very tasty delight indeed, with slabs of dueling guitars and Ann wailing away in Force 10 mode.
"Just The Wine" is a gentle, lilting tune, with touches of mellotron and washes of real strings. Nancy's gorgeous acoustic guitar holds it all together. It stills sounds great.
"Without You" is an interesting rendition of the classic Badfinger track from their No Dice album. Yup, the one Harry Nilsson turned into a classic. Ann's vocals are incredible, she has the chops to belt out like Janis Joplin here.

Title track is a relatively laid back piece of AOR lifted by nice synth flourishes and some twisted guitar over a straight 2:4 beat. I always loved this tune.
"Here Song" is the sort of quiet and pensive track that Heart laced through their best albums. Nancy is one of the great acoustic players and when Ann has the chance to rein it in, she really shows her pipes.
The last two tracks are live: "Mother Earth Blues" is Heart airing their blues roots lively with a Led Zeppelin nod, slow and chugging, while album closer is the stomping, sincere take on the old chestnut "I've Got The Music In Me".

HEART - Magazine [Audio Fidelity SACD AFZ 171] (2014) back cover

This is a great mastering of some very vintage tapes. Steve Hoffman has done a remarkable job revisiting this album, and saving all that is good about it for the old die-hards and perhaps some new listeners.
The sonics are excellent, and really, the only downside is the troubled history that resulted in the stitched together nature of the album as it is.
If the last two tracks were deleted, and two other studio tracks added, this would have garnered much more respect and regard. So, the first six tracks are excellent, the closing two, well, they are of their time.
Very Recommended.

01 - Heartless
02 - Devil Delight
03 - Just The Wine
04 - Without You
05 - Magazine
06 - Here Song
07 - Mother Earth Blues
08 - I've Got The Music In Me

Ann Wilson - vocals, flute, acoustic guitar
Nancy Wilson - guitar, backing vocals
Roger Fisher - guitar
Howard Leese - guitars, keyboards, sitar, backing vocals
Steve Fossen - bass, backing vocals
Michael DeRosier - drums



GREAT WHITE - Saturday Night Special Ready For Rock 'N' Roll Part II (2014)

GREAT WHITE - Saturday Night Special Ready For Rock 'N' Roll Part II (2014) full


GREAT WHITE's Saturday Night Special Ready For Rock 'N' Roll Part II is a really nice compilation released by the Collectors Dream Records label.
This 15 track features remixes / re-recordings of 3 Great White's most famous own songs, plus a selection of melodic hard rock hits covered with the band's personal touch.

"Saturday Night Special" is a nice present if you like cover albums.
The band has done some excellent renditions of Journey's classic "Any Way You Want It", Aerosmith's "Same Old Song And Dance" and Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger"
These are my favorites, but all are interesting and really well done like "Kickstart My Heart" of Motley Crue, or the fabulous take on "Diamonds & Rust", popularized by Joan Baez.
The new re-workings on "Once Bitten, Twice Shy", "Rock Me Save" and especially "Your Love" are great too.

GREAT WHITE - Saturday Night Special Ready For Rock 'N' Roll Part II (2014) back cover

If truly well done covers is your thing, you can't miss "Saturday Night Special Ready For Rock 'N' Roll Part II".
Ranging from bluesy hard rockers to AOR classics from the last three-four decades of music, this is a great album of versions to enjoy.
Very Recommended.

01. Once Bitten, Twice Shy
02. Rock Me
03. Save Your Love
04. Keep Your Hands To Yourself (GEORGIA SATELLITES)
05. Hard To Handle (BLACK CROWES)
06. Eye Of The Tiger (SURVIVOR)
07. Saturday Night Special (LYNYRD SKYNYRD)
08. Same Old Song And Dance (AEROSMITH)
09. Kickstart My Heart (MÖTLEY CRÜE)
10. Any Way You Want It (JOURNEY)
11. Unchained (VAN HALEN)
12. Diamonds & Rust (Joan Baez)
13. Dazed & Confused (LED ZEPPELIN)
14. Sarah (THIN LIZZY)
15. Blue Christmas (Elvis Presley)

Jack Russell - Vocals
Mark Kendall - Guitar
Michael Lardie - Guitar
Scott Snyder - Bass
Audie Desbrow - Drums



Saturday, August 16, 2014

THE PRODUCERS - Run For Your Life [YesterRock remaster] (2013)

THE PRODUCERS - Run For Your Life [YesterRock remaster] (2013) full


This one was repeatedly requested here since it was released at the end of last year: "Run For Your Life", the last album from THE PRODUCERS, released for the first time ever on CD by YesterRock.
Not to be confused with the recent British project, this THE PRODUCERS were formed in Atlanta, Georgia, at the very end of the seventies, and used to play high energy power pop, and on this particular "Run For Your Life" - their third and last album - mixed with a high dose of stylized light AOR which turn it a much sought after piece by collectors.

At the beginnings of the '80s, The Producers began to compose own songs and performed them in numerous clubs in the metropolitan area of Atlanta. The original line-up included Van Temple on guitars and vocals, former Whiteface member Kyle Henderson on bass and vocals, former Billy Joe Royal sidekick Wayne Famous (real name: Wayne McNatt) on keyboards and Bryan Holmes on drums.

THE PRODUCERS - Run For Your Life [YesterRock remaster] (2013) inside

Their appearances have been in great demand and were steadily gaining popularity by the audience. With this success, they signed a record deal at Portrait Records / CBS (same Wilson sisters Heart's label) under the direction of producer Tom Werman, who has also worked with Cheap Trick and REO Speedwagon.

In 1981 the first album of the 'Producers' was released. The single 'What She Does To Me' went to number 61 of the Billboard Charts. The second album 'You Make The Heat' was published 1982. The single 'She Sheila' made it again to the charts, with the videos were all over the channel in the first year of MTV.
Many live concerts followed, among others The Producers were support act for Cheap Trick and The Motels. But despite the success, Portrait Records resigned the contract after 2 albums only.

The Producers next work "Run For Your Life" was released through a small independent record label in Atlanta and was published in vinyl only.
At that point The Producers were working together with the band Kansas, so it might not come as a surprise that the song "Can't Cry Anymore" featured here (track 5) can be found on the album as well as on "Power", the 1986, more AOR album from Kansas.

THE PRODUCERS - Run For Your Life [YesterRock remaster] (2013) back cover

The Producers' sound & style on "Run For Your Life" is not so pumping as the more rocking AOR bands of the era, but it was 1985, so expect catchy choruses, commercial melodies, lots of keyboards and a clean, polished production.
For the first time ever this 'lost treasure' is now published on CD for the very first time. Many AOR fans from all over the world have been frequently asking for this album, and now their burning desire was heard and finally comes to fulfillment.
Very Recommended.

01 - Run For Your Life
02 - Slow Dancing
03 - Depending On You
04 - Tightrope
05 - Can't Cry Anymore
06 - Boat Song
07 - Table For One
08 - Friendly Fire
09 - Big Mistake
10 - Waiting On A Train

Van Temple - Vocals, Guitar
Wayne Famous - Keyboards, Vocals
Tim Smith - Bass
Bryan Holmes - Drums, Vocals
Luis Stefanel - Percussion



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