W.E.T. – Rise Up
Feb 22nd (Europe) 26th (USA)
Project started by the CEO of Frontiers Records, W.E.T. gave us in 2009 a gem of what melodic hard rock can be, Jeff Scott Soto’s recognizable voice helped, plus the back up with musicians “not that known at that point” who are very talented anyway, Erik Martensson since then became an over busy producer, in addition of having W.E.T. and Eclipse already. Back when the first album was released, they didn’t know if it would be a following somewhere, and if so, when? During the summer of 2012, they announced they started to write some new material for an album that would be planned for early next year. The fans went really enthusiastic when they read the news (Jeff has fans that are following him to the other side of the world… in Sweden this year there were some Americans and Japanese ones who flew in just for the show).
So, here we are, the one we were impatiently waiting for is now here, W.E.T. wasn’t meant to be a live band, happy are the people who were lucky enough to see them for their first gig at Firefest 2011, as they were hired to replace Warrant who canceled. Their second gig was planned in Debaser in Stockholm, where Erik and Robert are currently living. The new album was aired before the boys climbed the stage, and during the set, they played not less than 9 tracks (on the 12 total, it is not bad). The fans didn’t know the songs, but the crowd was on fire from beginning to the end. They even filmed a DVD that night, and we can really say that the ones who weren’t there were wrong. New songs successfully were accepted by the fans on the live configuration, and really without a doubt. So I dare to say the album will be appreciated at its correct value. Studio musicians are, in addition of Robert and Erik, the rest of Eclipse’s line up. Live as well. Great songwriting, kick ass melodies, it seems we now have one of the best albums for this year already. Notice the common points with Def Leppard on the song Love Heals, which brings us back to the glory days of that band, the chords, the backing vocals and the way to sing, many similarities with them, though Joe Elliott and Jeff’s voices are really different, it sounds like a compliment to me, as Def Leppard was a huge band representing the hard rock era at it’s best. A must see at Firefest (again) probably the only live performance of them, October 18th.
In a logical following from the first album, Rise Up, which has a beautiful phoenix on its cover, makes me think that instead of “just” rising up from the ashes, that band is meant to fly really high on the success… that’s all we wish for them.
Great White - 30th Live
Feb 22nd (Europe) Feb 26th (USA)
Tracklisting: Desert Moon; Lady Red Light; Face The Day; House Of Broken Love; Save Your
Love; Mista Bone; The Big Goodbye; Back To The Rhythm; Rock Me; Can’t Shake It; Once Bitten
Well, for those of you who have seen Great White, I think everybody agrees on the fact that they still have the class and stage attitude which makes
them an awesome band to see live. I’ve said what I think about the unfortunate hiatus between former singer Jack Russell and the band before,
so I won’t repeat myself, I think the page is definitely turned, and somehow it’s maybe good. Living in the past unfortunately doesn’t bring you anything;
to me it’s better to focus on present, and future. So it’s definitely Terry Ilous fronting them now.
Let’s get back to the record, this is a classic set list, it was made to celebrate their 30 years so we couldn’t expect many new songs,
but they’ve been well picked, I would just say that instead of putting “Back to the Rhythm” (which is the only “recent” song but from a JR era)
they could have put one from Elation… But that’s it. I’ve seen them twice on their last European tour and something I really like about them,
it’s only five guys there to kick your ass, no huge screens, no expensive production, just five guys rockin’ and rollin… in a world that
somehow cares more for “looks good, sounds like shit but looks good” singers, it’s nice to see some bands that are still focusing on quality music.
They definitely are one of these… The camaraderie between them also brings a smile on every face in the crowd, and no matter how long the “new boys”
(Scott Snyder on bass and Terry Ilous on vocals) have been there, they all look like a band and not “some are the brains and the others are employees”
which many bands these days tend to do…
The mixing could have been better though, it’s not always equal and it gives from time to time the impression of listening to a bootleg.
Nothing serious though… besides that, all good, I think fans will enjoy it as much as I did (and still do). Thumbs up for the really bluesy
and full of feelings version of Save Your Love, to me the best song of the album… The following song “Mista Bone” has a nice intro on
guitars as well, I really like Mr Kendall’s style…
Player - Too Many Reasons
February 22nd (Europe) February 26th (USA)
Tracklisting: Man On Fire; Precious; I Will; Tell Me; The Sins Of Yesterday; My Addiction; Too Many
Reasons; To The Extreme; The Words You Say; Life In Color; A Part Of Me; Kites; Nothin' Like You;
Baby Come Back.
I think many people have no idea who Player is, but when you look at the cover and the guy on the picture you probably have seen him (the one with the
white shirt) at least once on TV (except if you lived in a cavern in a mountain for the last 35 years, which I believe isn’t the case or you wouldn’t be
reading me lol)… Yes for those who wonder it’s Ridge Forrester from the TV show “The Bold And The Beautiful”… his Christian name’s Ronn Moss,
not Ridge, even if he played his role probably since dinosaurs died… I have to admit this TV show broke my balls more than once, as my grandma
was a huge fan, so when I was at her house I had no choice but to watch it… Don’t know how many times I prayed for the TV to die,
but it never worked out lol… so when I saw the guy was also doing music, my first reaction was “no way, I won’t listen to that…
seen him enough on TV now if I have to break my ears as well… no thanks”.
But after reconsidering my point of view, I said I’d give him a chance, after all, if it was signed on Frontiers it may have a bit of quality and good songs,
I mean they don’t sign crappy bands usually so… that helped me to change my mind. Thanks I did, because it’s actually a great pop rock album, they
didn’t invent anything, but both guys sharing the vocals have a great voice (besides Ronn, the other is Peter Beckett, who always was a musician,
in opposition to Ronn who gave up on music to get the role of Forrester in The Bold And The Beautiful. Now he finally left (I can only say he did a
great thing leaving it… never understood the interest in that TV show…) because he’s a good bass player and singer as well. Most people will probably
think like me “Huh? He’s doing music?” but take a listen to that album if you have a chance, it’s really worth the change of mind for the ones who
think like I did. Besides that, it’s full of 14 good tracks, the last one “Baby Come Back” is actually a new version of their first song which was released
in the late seventies. Others are all fresh material and it has really a nice feeling from the beginning to the end. Thumbs up for the opening track
“Man On Fire” which is probably the most energic of the whole record, but that doesn’t really matter. The ballad “Kites” is also a very nice one.
Not the album of the year, but some good melodies, two nice voices (Beckett and Moss are sharing the vocals) and a good backing band,
it makes “Too Many Reasons” to listen to it...
Jimi Jamison - Never Too Late
Release Date Nov 2nd (Europe) and November 6th (USA)
Tracklisting: Everybody's Got A Broken Heart - The Great Unknown - Never Too Late - I Can't Turn Back - Street Survivors -
The Air I Breathe - Not Tonight - Calling The Game - Bullet In The Gun - Heaven Call Your Name - (Walk On) Wildest Dreams -
Everybody's Got A Broken Heart (Acoustic)
Well, ladies, gentlemen, I have to quote ARFM's Steve Price here to introduce it...
here is a "monumental piece of AOR from 2012" couldn't have said it better. Okay I'm enthusiastic in most of the albums I'm reviewing but
how can it be otherwise... First, Jimi's a name who needs no introduction, and his previous solo record "Crossroad Moments" was already
a gem though maybe a bit overproduced, but he's been putting the bar higher for that one... Composed, arranged and produced by a young
talented guy who's everywhere these days, in the person of Erik Martensson (WET, Eclipse,Kimball/Jamison) this record is just stunning.
Let me dig a bit more in the subject... to me it's a great proof of abilities to live and own the song you sing, even more when you
didn't write it yourself. And this is definitely something Jimi handles with an easiness that can't be explained with words, listen
to it, and you'll see what I mean, he's got the soul in his voice that makes the difference, then add some catchy melodies,
top mixing and production, it really has nothing to keep apart...I think the medal goes both to Jimi, of course, but also to Erik, who's been doing an
awesome job speaking of songwriting. It keeps the general idea in the meaning of the title,
which is that everyone should pursue their own dreams, and not give up.
It's a beloved subject to Jimi and Erik caught his personality pretty well. The positive mood is something I really like about it, only the song
"Heaven Call Your Name" doesn't have it, as it talks about the passing of someone sorely missed, so how could it be positive?
But once again, with Jimi's powerful voice, it gives the song something more. The masterful intro on an Hammond organ brings you goosebumps,
and if you understand and listen to the lyrics, and you're a bit sensitive, I bet you'll probably have tears coming to your eyes.
Which is one more good proof that the job done by the whole band deserves definitely two thumbs up.
A masterpiece, period.
Dare - Calm Before The Storm II
Release Date Oct 8th 2012
Tracklisting: Walk On The Water - Someday - Calm Before The Storm - Crown Of Thorns - Precious - Silence Of Your Head
- Rescue Me - Ashes - Rising Sun - Cold Wind Will Blow - Deliverance
Why re-releasing an album that was, let's be honest, a finest proof of rock with celtic roots and quietness mood like only them
know how to do? As Darren mentioned in an interview with Steve Price on ARFM a few days ago, he finally got the rights on the
songs again, as the label that released it in 1998 went down, so either they had to re release on his own label Legend
Records or it was deleted forever.
The choice was obvious for him, and that's how it went on the table. It's somehow an happy end after a sad story, because
the band did it all from the start, of course they kept the melodies, lyrics and songs from the first edition, but Darren's voice
sound now more... I don't know... let's say mature, of course, as fourteen years have gone by since the first version.
The whole rhythm is also more catchy, don't get me wrong, I can't chose any of the albums to name it as my favorite,
but Calm II is more powerful, both in vocals and music, the guitars are louder, or they at least sound louder.
And Darren's voice is just magic to keep just one word to describe it...
(okay it doesn't sound that neutral, but anyone that has a bit of humanity can't stay unsensitive to THIS voice...
Or if someone can, I sincerely wonder how)
Anyway, the major change is the track list, as the cover from Thin Lizzy's Still In Love With You disappeared, but gave its place
to two songs that weren't released officially before, which are Precious and Cold Wind Will Blow. It's a good thing that they didn't
keep Still In Love With You, because it's already a cover, so doing a 2nd version of it, would have been, to me, too much.
Better choice here. The artwork as well changed, as it's now the same idea, but the girl that previously was wearing a night dress
is now naked. I don't like it too much, but I understand the choice, as it shows more peace and quietness than anything that could
be understood as having an erotic meaning, as Darren bases his work on nature and peace mostly, and he's inspired by fantasy artist
Jim Warren. (thanks Mick if you're around for the informations ;)
To get back to the music, I was sceptical about it when I heard they would do a second version of that great album, but somehow inside
me I knew that I couldn't be disappointed. I never was with Dare, I didn't see why it should start now... Though I waited to see if my
feelings were correct or if it was just a hope that would fade away once listening to this Calm II.
I've had it today (we're Nov 12th) and it turns on repeat mode for about 5 hours now... It's just brilliant. I've always thought
that the last albums from Dare, since Calm Before The Storm were perfect to escape from everyday's boring things, I mean you put
any of the records, close your eyes and you get transported in the middle of the mountains, near the water or wherever any human
has no right but to shut up and admire how beautiful the Earth can be without him, and the new version of Calm doesn't make exception
to the rule...
Congratulations, guys. You made something that was near perfection going further than it.
Pride Of Lions - Immortal
Release Date Sept 21st (Europe) Sept 25th (USA)
Track List: Immortal - Delusional - Tie Down The Wind - Shine On . Everything That Money Can't Buy - Coin Of The Realm - Sending My Love
Vital Signs - If It Doesn't Kill Me Are You The Same Girl - Ask Me Yesterday
With their fourth studio release, Pride Of Lions are signing the fact that they're like good wine, getting better with the age.
Jim Peterik (a name that needs no introduction in rock music)'s abilities both in songwriting and playing are definitely stunning, and coupled with
Toby Hitchcock's powerful voice, results in a partnership that gives birth to an album where you have nothing to throw away.
Let's mention vocals are shared between both guys, which to me, is a good point because it adds more relief to the songs.And they complete very well
each other. Take a lot of pure melodic rock, with all the ingredients that made the success of this genre back in the 80's add it some modern production and you
get a fresh album, which wears Peterik's influence without being "too much"
My favorites on Immortal are the self titled track, Vital Signs, If It Doesn't Kill Me and the powerful ballad Everything That Money Can't Buy.
Night Ranger - 24 Strings and A Drummer, Live And Acoustic
Release Date : October 19th (Europe) October 22nd (USA)
Tracklisting: This Boy Needs To Rock, When You Close Your Eyes, Sing Me Away,
Growing Up In California, The Secret Of My Success, Sentimental Street,
Four In The Morning, Let Him Run Goodbye, Forever All Over Again, Don't Tell Me You Love Me -
Sister Christian - (You Can Still) Rock In America - Boys Of Summer (Bonus)
I'm not too much into acoustic stuff, it kills somehow the energy of the original tracks, but it may
be when it's not well done. I've been listening to that album about 3 times now, and I don't feel the lack of
energy, I even see Jack Blades jumping everywhere (must be pretty hard for him to sit on a chair, those
who saw Night Ranger on stage know why I'm sayin that lol... the guy is a clown it's incredible)
Anyway, the advantage in Night Ranger is probably in the fact that both Jack Blades (bass) and Kelly Keagy (drums)
are sharing the vocals on most of the tracks. Plus with that record they kept the "fire" they have while playing live
and finally the result is pretty good. Great backing vocals by the whole band as well, a set list with good choices
in opposition to Mr.Big who did the same kind of release some time ago and didn't pick many known songs,
Night Ranger has most of their hits on this Live and Acoustic, such as When You Close Your Eyes, Sister Christian and
You Can Still (Rock In America), without being a cliché of "we play the hits and good night" as they mixed their whole
catalogue with success I think. Most of the songs are however taken from Midnight Madness (1983) but that's their
biggest selling album so...
Notice the outstanding piano intro on Sentimental Street, and the nice harmonies between six string genius Brad Gillis
man the guy is awesome and the newest guitarist Joel Hoekstra, they share the guitar parts most equally and the additional
guitarist as well adds more power, and it can't be named as the "album you put to fall asleep" which is usually the case
with acoustic records. It's a good point to me. I haven't been bored a single second listening to that record.
The audience seemed to enjoy it very much as well. A good album in the genre. Really.
Eclipse - Bleed And Scream
Release date: August 24th (Europe) 28th (USA)
Tracklisting: Wake Me Up - Bleed And Scream - Ain't Dead Yet
- Battlegrounds - A Bitter Taste - Falling Down - S.O.S. - Take Back The Fear
- The Unspoken Heroes - About To Break - After The End Of The World
I have to admit I haven't been knowing Eclipse for a long time, though the name
Erik Martensson was mostly associated to me with WET.
What a mistake from me it was, but I'm doing my best to make up for it.
With powerful riffs and vocal abilities that are upon many singers from his generation,
Erik and his guys have signed here an album that, to me can become a classic in its genre.
these unstoppable vocal lines (the ones that you hear once and have in mind for the next day)
are sounding like something already heard, I can't put another name on it, but it's a positive
remark, as I really enjoyed listening this new album.
They deserve lots more success as everything is here to make them a huge band...
Musicians are top quality ones, and as I said before, Erik's vocals have blown me away...
I can say without any doubts that it's one of the top ten releases from Frontiers
in 2012 for me. Period.
Kix - Live in Baltimore
Release Date Sept 21st (Europe) Sept 25th (USA)
Tracklisting: No Ring Around Rosie - Atomic Bombs - Lie Like A Rug - Don't Close Your Eyes - Girl Money
Cold Blood - Cold Shower - She Dropped Me The Bomb - Blow My Fuse - Kix Are For Kids - Midnite Dynamite -
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
With a setlist mainly centered around their best selling album which is Blow My Fuse (1988),
Kix decided to record in their home state, as for those who don't know, they're coming from Maryland not
California, and maybe it's that, or I don't know, but they have something different to me, in comparison to
other bands from the same era. Steve Whiteman's voice has always been nasal and he wasn't mentioned as a
beautiful voice, but he has something like Kevin DuBrow or similar singers, which makes it pretty rough but
likeable anyway. Plus his lisp when he talks (not easy to hear it when he sings) makes him special.
It's a good album, and the mood is pretty happy, you can feel it like if you were there when they recorded it
both from the crowd and the band. It's only rock n'roll and I like it. The live version of the ballad which
back in time scored a hit on MTV "Don't Close Your Eyes" is also rougher than the studio version and gives
it something more interesting to listen to. Good job guys
Dokken - Broken Bones
Release Date : September 21st (Europe) 24th (USA)
Empire - Broken Bones - Best Of Me - Blind - Waterfall - Victim Of The Crime - Burning Tears
- Today - For The Last Time - Fade Away - Tonight
Starting at 300 mph, it gives directly the idea of where this album goes. Jon Levin has nothing to prove anymore.
If the Dokken fans from the glory days don't like him don't tell me it's because he's not George Lynch, cause if you don't know it
I personally think you can't say who plays. I'd even say he's got more power than Mr.Scary himself these days....
and I'm a huge Dokken fan myself.
The general rhythm and singing is pretty good, and I hope it will makes the detractors shut up... Of course Don is not the voice he
used to be, but don't forget he's almost 60... He's still doing a pretty good job, and yes he sings downer than before. But I think
it's cool as he accepts it, and doesn't try to sound like in 1983... Some other singers should take examples on him.
I'm not that much into the song "Broken Bones" cause the beginning reminds me the groove of Too High To Fly... but happily it gets better
during the song itself. This is the first album recorded with Sean McNabb on bass and he's an awesome player. He also has a great presence on stage...
For the ones who didn't like Lightning Strikes Again, please pass on your way you won't like Broken Bones that much, as it's a logical following. But
if you liked it, then you will love this new release. Good Dokken sound, a voice recognizable within half a second, and some well
added choruses, I think about "Waterfall" f.i. This is a really good album
Highest points for me are Empire, Victim Of The Crime which is a cool mid tempo song, and Today, that could easily have been on the
One Live Night album. Quiet one but it shows here musicians that are completing each other in a semi unplugged mood which is very cool.
Triumph - Live At Sweden Rock 2008
Release Date August 24th (Europe)
Tracklisting: When The Lights Go Down - Lay It On The Line - Allied Forces - Never Surrender - I Live For The Weekend -
Blinding Light Show - Rocky Mountain Way - Magic Power - Rock N'Roll Machine - Fight The Good Fight
Starting with a brilliant introduction to their music with When The Lights Go Down, the Canadian band sets the stage on fire within 20 seconds.
They reunited to kick asses and every single person in the crowd seems to get it. This is something the fans were waiting for a long time, though
they didn't dare too much to say it could happen and now it was.
It's gonna enter into the never forgotten memories I'm sure. They played amazingly, unfortunately I didn't attend it, but you can hear
in that recording that Rik Emmet's voice is still Triumphant (sorry for the joke), I mean, the guy owns the place with his single voice.
The DVD which is to be set and released soon will probably even be better. but for now the audio version of this legendary
(or soon to be legendary) performance is an awesome additional chapter to their long and successful career.
A well chosen set list with basically all the classics, and musicians on top of their game, what could we ask more? maybe too short, but, let's be realistic,
when you enjoy a concert its ALWAYS too short lol...
I don't know what the future holds for Triumph, maybe they'll play more together again, maybe not, but one thing I'm sure of is that the lucky
people that were at the Sweden Rock Festival in 2008 and attended the gig will never forget it, judging by the quality of that record.
Hardline - Danger Zone
Release Date May 18th (Europe)
Tracklisting: Fever Dreams - 10'000 Reasons - Danger Zone - What I'd Like - Stronger Than Me - Never
Too Late For Love - Stay - Don't Wanna Break Away - Look At You Now - Please Have Faith In Me - Show Me Your
Love - The Only One
Not known to be the most productive or regular band in the hard rock market, it doesn't mean though that the quality isn't a part of Hardline's history.
It started in 1991 with the Gioeli brothers, and now Johnny is pretty busy with German Axeman Axel Rudi Pell which didn't help.
They needed ten years between Double Eclipse (1992) and II (2002) but since then, they're getting the delay between two albums always shorter than
the previous one. A live album from their Gods Of Metal (Italian festival) was also released in 2003 and since then, it was six years to see
Leaving The End Open coming, and now only three years to have the pleasure to listen to Danger Zone.
Hopefully they will keep this kind of rhythm if any new release is in their plans.
Hardline is a band that, though they were never that famous, has seen in his line up none others than Journey's six string wizard Neal Schon, and Rudy Sarzo.
Just to name a few.
Johnny also sang on Doug Aldrich (Dio, Bad Moon Rising, Whitesnake)'s first solo record, so basicallythey had and still have all the weapons
to get the big game.The market is not that much into melodic rock these days, and it sucks, but I sincerely think that Danger Zone
is a pretty good following to their career, somehow it's a sound and of course a voice you instantly recognize, and it's a fresh mixture of
the amazing vocal abilities that Johnny has, teamed with multi instrumentist Alessandro Del Vecchio, and basically unknown musicians
(though unknown doesnt mean lousy of course) this is a really good production and effort made by the one who's known for too long as
"Axel Rudi Pell's singer" and nothing more. Which is a pity, cause that's the band he started with, and it's a whole different genre than what he's doing
with ARP, so I sincerely recommend you, if you like melodic rock, to take a look (or an ear...) to this Danger Zone.
Johnny proves his talents, in a more pop side, with heavy background vocals. And the result is pretty good
even if some songs could have been, to me, easily dropped...
The song 10'000 Reasons is without a doubt a "born to be a hit" to me. Hopefully I'll be right...
Great White - Elation
Release date May 18th (EU), 22nd (USA)
After some ups and downs with Jack Russell, the band finally parted ways with their original singer, having found a replacement that could hardly fit better to the sound of the band in the person of Terry Ilous (XYZ). Since he came in, they always attracted good crowds and the shows never were disappointing. So they thought about recording a new album and it’s how Elation finally came in.
“I’ve Got Something For You” the first song is surprising for anyone who knew the band for a long time, as Terry has similarities with Russell in his voice, the blues side of it, and the way to sing, but can hardly be mixed up I think. And when it says Great White on the jacket, you expect the voice you know. Indeed, but after that opening track which is for now, not my favorite at all because of its maybe too fast tempo, the 2nd track called “Feelin’ So Much Better” is actually the most accurate title, as you feel better than while listening the first one. It has the GW signature, whatever it’s the tempo, the rhythm section or any guitar part, it sounds recognizable in 2-3 seconds. “Love Train” comes then, though sometimes you could think that’s Tesla’s Jeff Keith who’s singing, it’s also a typical GW track. Just listen to the intro and main riff and there’s not a single doubt. Some harmonica parts also are giving a more bluesy side, which Great White is pretty known for. Guitar solo is a good demonstration of Mark Kendall’s abilities with his instrument for the ones who still would need some proofs that this guy is a strings wizard.
“Heart Of A Man” is a powerful track, with its strong riffs and nicely executed backing vocals on the choruses. Then it goes on with an half acoustic ballad, “Hard To Say Goodbye” and even if it’s a nice break in the middle of that record, it’s too quiet to me. Okay it’s a ballad but it doesn’t have the “thing” to make it really worth. Not at first listening… maybe it comes after a while. “Resolution” comes next with its mid tempo riff and Terry’s vocals on that song are good, the whole song gives a feeling of “damn, they’re back and willing to show it”. “Shotgun Willie’s” starts like a spark without a fire. All musicians are eager and on this song you can feel it pretty well, Terry’s vocal lines are simply at the top of his game on that song. He shows here the feeling that we know since XYZ… Would be the perfect match for a single in my humble opinion. The one that doesn’t leave your head once it entered. “Promise Land” comes next, and with its mid tempo ambiance and acoustic guitar parts is meant to have that “thing” that “Hard To Say Goodbye” hasn’t. “Lowdown” is a bonus track (usually bonuses are at the end of the record… weird…) anyway, with its heavy introduction riff, and more aggressive vocal lines, it’s definitely a nice track, and it shows once again that they have found a new start.
As Michael Lardie said on the press release, he wanted to call the new album Tabula Rasa” which means rebirth, but they went on for Elation because of the euphoria in the air while recording. I totally agree on that. You can hear it on every track. The guitar solo from “Lowdown” is simply ass kicking as well with its effects, it fits like a glove to the atmosphere of the song. “Just For Tonight” is also in pure Great White style, it’s an entertaining song, same “comes into the head and doesn’t leave” thing. Then comes “Love Is Enough” with its piano introduction, also a ballad, but fits good to the album, mostly acoustic guitar and voice for the verse, and then complete band for the chorus, sounds really well.
Once again, with all the due respect to Jack Russell, I sincerely think that they couldn’t have find a better vocalist than Terry. He really has lot of feeling in his voice that goes so well with the kind of music that Great White did, does and will probably always do, as this seems to be a new era that has just started. Last track on Elation, “Complicated” isn’t without reminding the famous Ian Hunter’s Once Bitten Twice Shy that Great White covered back in the day. Really good song, and a nice way to close that new page from a band that is born again, really.
Jeff Scott Soto – Damage Control
Release March 23th 2012 (EU) – March 27th 2012 (USA)
I’m not feeling able to do a track to track review, so I’m going straight to the goal: This album is AWESOME. Proportional to the talent of that big guy that Jeff is.
Three years have gone by since Beautiful Mess… for a workaholic like he is, it’s a long time… Anyway… the waiting was worth. Even more than that. Damage Control is a classy album. Big class album. From the beginning to the end. Definitely more classical sound, and heavy rock oriented than Beautiful Mess, which though it’s a good one, was probably too eclectic for the diehard fans. Damage Control is really what AOR/Heavy rock has to be at it’s best. Composed by Jeff amongst many prestigious guests such as Casey Grillo (Kamelot), Jamie Borger (Treat) and Dave Meniketti (Y&T) just to name a few, the tracks are pretty catchy and put Jeff’s voice qualities right in your ears. Whatever it’s in ballads or mid tempi like “Bona Fide” or heavier songs like the eponymous one, which reminds me the Rock Star OST Stand Up And Shout… Also a long list of renowned guests are playing here and there, let’s name Fabio Ribiero (Shaaman), Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger) and Mike Vanderhule (Y&T)…
Now. I’m done. I know it’s all but neutral, and I apologize for that, but I’ve listened to that album probably ten times, or maybe more, and I can’t find anything to argue about. I’ve tried but failed. This is one is one of the “must have” from that year. Period.
Pretty Maids - It Comes Alive, Maid In Switzerland
Release March 23th 2012 (EU) – March 27th 2012 (USA)
First, I have to admit I never checked seriously what Pretty Maids were doing, though many freinds told me I should give a listen to their music. Lack of time, or motivation… I don’t know but it is what it is… Since the band announced their first ever live DVD recording in Pratteln at the z7, which is renowned as one of the best European live concert venues. It’s also my 2nd home so to speak… most of my friends were going so I decided to follow.
WHAT THE HELL !!! It was just awesome. A band at the top of their game, though I didn’t know most of the songs when I arrived at the venue (ok… nobody’s perfect lol) I’ve had a blast. The show starts with the title track of their last album Pandemonium, released on Frontiers in 2010. The band’s happy to be here, and they want to have the crowd in the palm of their hands. They show it from the very first chords and it’s gonna be the same for the whole gig. Ronnie proves that he still has the fire burning and his vocal chords are still on top. Tracks are played without any break neither talk and it’s only during the encores that Mr. Atkins introduces his musicians, himself having a huge acclamation when he asks the crowd if they know his name.
Then comes Please Don’t Leave Me and its “garymooresque” intro that comes to close the wonderful night, just before ending with the song that, referring to what Ronnie mentioned, is hardly kicked off from the last encore’s place since the album was released… He talks about Red Hot And Heavy of course. Then the show’s really done. The band leaves under warm and enthusiastic crowd from a venue which is totally under the spell of the Danish guys, that definitely brought their best tonight with a set list that took some stuff in almost every album excepted Spooked and Planet Panic, and still kept focused on their last effort Pandemonium with four songs extracted from this record. Bad mouths can say they did it great just because it was recorded, but I think the pleasure to be on stage and the willingness to share with their fans was the same than at any other of their shows. It’s basically a high score the band reached tonight and they deserve to be even more known for me. Furthermore, the mix has been really well done, and we hear the crowd screaming and singing,
particularly during the moments where Ronnie gives the microphone to the crowd, it’s really giving you goose bumps, even more if you were there that night. Definitely one of the highest points of this year and in Pretty Maid’s discography and alsovideography so far.
Mr. Big - Live From The Living Room
Already Released (28th Feb 2012)
After their successful reunion tour and a great DVD recorded in the legendary Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Mr Big now comes back with brand new versions of their classic hits such as Take Cover and To Be With You. Acoustic arrangements have been set up by Takashi Miyzayaki and a string quintet has been added to the four original guys to give a new dimension to their songs. I was not sure what to expect, but I agree that it is a real pleasure to hear the boys playing in a different style than what they’re known for. Definitely a great value in the band’s history, Live From The Living Room sounds like a jam with friends, though it was of course all planned but it’s the mood that comes out from it. And it is really nice. Though it’s only audio, we can even see the band having a good time playing their songs in an unplugged version. They seem to have fun doing it, and then it influences positively the opinion you can make on that record. Eric Martin shows how good he is as a vocalist. Okay there were no doubts about this, but an unplugged concert is usually a test for bands. I mean it’s easy to hide yourself behind a huge stack of amps and effects… and cheat. But you can’t do that when playing acoustic… so only the “elite” can handle it, and make it successful to me. Which is, with this album, definitely the case.
Mr Big kicks ass, whatever way they chose to play, it’s always a great band like it used to be in the 80’s. And of course the musical level of the four guys is at its top, Paul Gilbert is a guitar wizard, so Billy Sheehan is with his bass… Pat Torpey can handle all kind of drumkits, percussions without any doubt and I think I mentioned already all the good thoughts I have about Mr. Martin. The backing vocals are perfectly handled as well. But they’re all good singers so it definitely helps.
Only negative point would be the set list. They chose it with some classics but definitely some songs are missing, I think about Green Tinted Sixties Mind, Daddy, Brother, Lover Little Boy and Cat Stevens' Wild World cover. But in another hand it’s good to hear some songs that aren’t the most known.
Bobby Kimball/Jimi Jamison - Kimball/Jamison
Release Oct 14th (Europe), Oct 18th (USA)
An alliance with Jimi Jamison (ex vocalist from Survivor) and Toto’s Bobby Kimball, was only a live thing when they sometimes share the stage on the « Rock Meets Classic ». From here the idea of a studio collaboration was born, and Frontiers made it happen. The release starts with « Worth Fighting For». A very Toto-esque intro with the keyboards and then Jamison’s voice, recognizable between thousands, only ten seconds are needed to see that it’s pure classy AOR album here.
Both voices’ genres are fitting pretty well together. A discret but not transparent piano, a kick ass guitar solo, that’s only the first song here… « Can’t Wait For Love » comes next, the verses’ vocals are shared and the chorus is sang together by both vocalists. This is good, really good. « Sail Away » is a quieter track, on which both frontmen are showing that they know how to handle the mid tempo songs.
Maybe the keyboard is sometimes too insisting, the piano sounds great but the keyboard’s sometimes too much. That’s a small detail that doesn’t screw up the high quality of that album. Then it’s « Chasing Euphoria » which is a good song, but the chorus only done with the repeat of the track without any other lyrics wastes the song for me. « Find Another Way » sounds pretty familiar with the Survivor era ballads, and Jimi really shows his great feeling that shines particularly on this track.
« Get Back In The Game » with its electryfing guitar and the beautiful backing vocals, mainly on the choruses, is the highest point of this release. « I Did Everything Wrong » follows, where Kimball reaches some high notes with talent, and both voices are, even if different, sound good together. This is for me a perfect radio hit.
« Shadows Of Love » is a good track, but needs to be listened several times to appreciate it. « Hearts Beat Again » with its small keyboard intro reminds us the Survivor days, and then Kimball starts to sing. Once again, a great song with a guitar solo that reminds Journey’s Neal Schon style. « We Gotta Believe » has an intro that makes me think about a Bon Jovi recent style, I don’t know why, but that’s the first thing I had when the song started.
Maybe when hearing Kimball singing on a lower voice than he usually does. Maybe a little bit too « pop song » for me. « Kicking And Screaming » a strong track that ends very quiet with only a piano fading out is also pretty good. « Your Photograph » a ballad where Jamison is perfect once again with his warm voice, before giving his microphone to Kimball, that makes an awesome intervention, before a break that is quickly cut with an ass kicking guitar solo by Alex Beyrodt, and finally it goes back to quiet that ends this album really well.
With writers such as Jim Peterik (Survivor), Robert Sall (Work Of Art), Erik Martesson (W.E.T.) and John Waite (ex Bad English) just to name a few, it was hard to imagine anything other than a classy album. Produced by multi talents German producer Mat Sinner, that also plays bass on this release, it is for me, clearly one of the 2011’s highest points, that will probably be in good position in every melodic rock fan’s collection. Release in a digipack with a bonus DVD that contains 2 videos and the making of.
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Sebastian Bach - Kicking And Screaming
Release September 23rd (Europe), September 27th (USA)
Four years have been needed by the blonde singer to release a new solo album. Change of line up, new label, all these things took him time. Happily, the music sounds better than the cover looks. It starts loud and good with the title track Kicking And Screaming, and you don't need more than two seconds to see that Sebastian Bach stays more in the genre of music that made him famous than his ex bandmates from Skid Row. We could almost think we're back at the Slave To The Grind era, it's pure heavy metal that will blow your neigbour's ears. My Own Worst Enemy, Tunnelvision and Dance On Your Grave, the three next songs, are quite in the same style, Caught In A Dream, the fifth song, sounds more like from the Subhuman Race era It starts good but it's the disposable track of that album... But everybody knows that perfection doesn't exist right? As Long As I Got The Music comes next. Tough it's not THE song, remains a proof that even if Baz lost a bit of his voice, at almost 50 years old, that guy still is one of the most recognizable voices of the actual heavy metal scene The ballad I'm Alive is really nice, and mainly an acoustic song. Right next comes Dirty Power, who could be the song called Monkey Business part 2. Then Live The Life, cool but that's it, the main bug are the backing vocals, that are for me really "too much". Dream Forever comes next, and it's the one that once you've listened to it, stays in your mind for a long time, the chorus is easy to remember and that's a pretty catchy song. For me the best song with the title track. One Good Reason, has a good rhythm, and sees Baz showing that he still knows what the word screaming means, but stays melodic when the chorus comes. Lost In The Light is a quiet, but not soporific song, which leads to the last one, Wishin. A beautiful ballad that makes me think about I Remember You, and makes us think that Sebastian Bach is still here for a long time.
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House Of Lords - Big Money
Release on 09.23.11
This is the band's 8th release, if we count with the "Live In The UK" released in 2007), Big Money, that's its name, starts with a female voice who whispers "The roots of all evil" just before that James Christian lets us know he's here with a loud "Moneeeeeeeeey". The title track is really good, with a beautiful break at approximately half of the song that brings out James' great voice. "One Man Down" comes then with its unplugged guitar/voice intro that reminds a certain cover of Blind Faith "Can't Find My Way Home" which was on the Sahara album (1990). Jimi Bell, actual guitarist of the band shows his talents with an awesome solo. "First To Cry" comes next and talks about a break-up and is in the most genuine House Of Lords style, it comes probably in the "greatest songs" from all the band's career.
"Someday When", with its keyboard intro, played by Jeff Kent, who, even if he's not a permanent member (how many bands have denied their keyboard player in the history of hard rock...) is and addition that gives another dimension. Kent's also a good composer and songwriter, as since the band restarted, he shares a lot of the writing tasks with Christian. "Searchin" is right after, it's not a bad song neither a wonderful one. Nothing special to say on that one. Then comes "Living In A Dream World" which takes the quality up, after being taken down a bit with the previous song, and is a worth follower from songs like "Pleasure Palace" or "American Babylon". One of the main tracks from this album. "The Next Time I Hold You" comes then to bring a quieter mood with an awesome piano intro and sees Christian shows that he still handles the ballads perfectly, this one hasn't anything to envy to "Love Don't Lie" or "Remember My Name". Then it's "Run For Your Life" with its mysterious start, that comes next to bring back a more heavy rhythm. Once again, a catchy chorus and backing vocals added without being "too much" before a great solo from Jimi Bell, apparently really inspired. For me THE song of the album. "Hologram" comes then, starts pretty well but that's it. Not bad, not good, something's missing to that song to make it great. "Seven" comes then with a heavy riff that makes you bang your head, and stays during all the song. Particularly on this and the next, we can hear a rhythm section that fits perfectly together. Chris McCarvill (bass) and B.J. Zampa (drums) are in the band since "Come To My Kingdom" (2008) and they're doing a great job. "Once Twice" is the kind of a song that remains in your head even if you listened to it only once. "Blood" comes to end this "Big Money" in a beautiful way, with a good introduction riff, and backing vocals that are fitting perfectly with Christian's way to sing, proves us that the Lords are in great shape. Of course on stage, the class of the one and only Gregg Giuffria, which was the founder of the band, is missing, and no one will ever replace him. Even if James remains the only original member, the other guys are completing each other really well, both in studio and on stage, and it's a good thing.
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