About Me

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Born in the late 60's, Chesy hails from a Welsh mining village with a long name and was pretty glad when he got the Hell out of there. He got into Rock/Metal in about 1980, thanks to a TISWAS related incident (Rainbow video for All Night Long) and thankfully has never looked back. Chesy often sang solo in the school choir, but thanks to a puberty related incident his voice is now completely bolloxed, although in his own head Paul thinks he sounds like a blend of Coverdale and Dio (R.I.P). He was brought up on the classics - Deep Purple, Rainbow, Thin Lizzy, Rush, Whitesnake and loved melodic rock and the Hair Bands of the 80's. (Nowadays, he has progressed a little and prefers a more technical and/or progressive metal - Dream Theater, Rush, Symphony X, Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Spock's Beard. He hates Black and Death Metal (can't stand the grunting) but for some unknown reason loves the magnificent Opeth! He wont stop this blog until his beloved FM finally play the likes of the NEC as a headlining act!!!

Saturday 26 February 2011

Nelson - Lightning Strikes Twice

Nelsons return to the melodic rock genre has been a while in the making. Absent for the last 10 yrs in album terms, they like many others before and after them are blazing a trail to reformation and the goodies it can bring, especially from the still lucrative Japanese market. This is the second major release from Frontiers along with their stable mates from the 80s, Mr.Big (see separate review). AOR/Melodic Rock is definitely in the ascendency. Over the last couple of years this genre of music has probably been in the mainstream as ever it was in its heyday, only this time without the support of many major record labels.
But does the album title live up to its suggestion.  Does lightning strike twice? Can Matthew & Gunnar make a comeback worthy of the triple platinum selling album way back in 1990 that gave them a number one it with ‘’(Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection”?

Unfortunately when a band has had major success (especially with a debut), a new release will always be compared to its bigger, older and better looking sibling. Like Queensryche will always be compared to ‘’Operation Mindcrime’’, Nelson will always have ‘’After The Rain’’ to contend with. On the evidence of ‘’Lightening Strikes Twice’’ I can comfortably state for the record that this is a close runner to ‘’ATR’’ and would have been a great second album bringing all the trappings of mega-stardom. As it stands now, they have two great bookends with a handful of solid albums in the middle.

Opener, ‘’Call Me’’, and no doubt, and no brainer for a first single is about as good as it gets for the blonde maned twosome. Catchy as anything that was on their debut, it stands alongside some of their best work, just like they had never been away.  From here on in it gets quite interesting as Nelson seemed to have morphed into a modern day Bon Jovi, with added backing vocals courtesy of some mighty fine ladies, only much better than the pap that Mr Jon Bon has been churning out these past few albums.

‘’Ready, Willing and Able’’ is another belter out of the book of aor by numbers, great harmonies, hooks and chorus to die for, topped off with some cool guitar work. ‘’You’re All I Need’’ was their first video to be released in about fifteen years, and was a deserved choice. Ballad ‘’To Get Back To You’’ will have a certain Mr JBJ shitting bricks, he hasn’t written as song as good as this in donkeys!!

The quality comes thick and fast with ‘’When You’re Gone’’. It blatantly takes a small part of the melody on the opening line of each verse from Van Halen’s ‘’Jump’’. The class doesn’t falter for a single second. As far as comebacks go, Nelson’s is mightily impressive, and it gets better with each and every listen.

So..... Fed up with the recent dirge that has passed under the name of Bon Jovi? Don’t waste your time spending £70 this summer, go out and buy ‘’Lightning Strikes Twice’’ and enjoy some of the best melodic rock to hit the stores in years. Jon Bon has earned enough over the years, it’s time to spread some of the wealth around to a couple of blokes who fully deserve another shot in the limelight


Friday 25 February 2011

Voodoo Circle - Broken Heart Syndrome

Wow! Wow! One More? Ok.....Wow!

Now I have to apologise to Alex Beyrodt personally for not ever coming across the 2008 self titled debut album. On receipt of this download and my first proper hearing led me to go out and get the debut just to see and hear what I had missed. Damn, the debut was good.

Alex Bayrodt’s Voodoo Circle to quote the band correctly is an absolute slice of classic Rock heaven. You know when you get a whiff of a smell or a taste of food that takes you right back to your childhood? Well, that’s what has happened to me with ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’. Less than a quarter of the way into the album, it transported me right back to my formative teenage years, the golden era for me, bands like Rainbow, Deep Purple (especially Perfect Strangers), and Whitesnake to name but three!
Founded by Beyrodt after many personal sessions with friends such as David Readman (PC 69) and long-term co-musician Mat Sinner (Sinner, Primal Fear). Along for the ride again is ivory tinkler extraordinaire, Jimmy Kresic. The loss of Mel Gaynor has not changed their dynamic of the band, with Markus Kullmann amply filling the drum stool. Producing again is Readman’s stable mate and all round talented bastard Dennis Ward. In following PC69, Khymera and his many, many producing efforts for many a year, I cannot recall Ward really putting a foot wrong. That trend continues as the production is as tight as a nut.

To me its 100% clear that Beyrodts influence is one Richard Hugh ‘Ritchie’ Blackmore. Neo-classical improvisiation, superb song composition, all of which would fit happily in any of the aforementioned bands catalogue, past, present or future

One mega surprise for me was the vocal quality of David Readman. He probably delivers one of the finest vocal performances of his career. I don’t say that lightly. On certain songs he delivers a performance that a certain Mr Coverdale hasn’t this of 25 years or more. Stunning stuff.

‘No Solution Blues’ kicks off with Beyrodts ‘on fire’ riffery, before the ever so catchy bridge and chorus. Just tell me that ‘King of Your Dreams’ does not pay more than a passing resemblance to Purple’s ‘Knocking At Your Back Door’ only this time sung by what sounds like early-Coverdale. Complete with Hammond organ, its a blend of ‘Burn’ and ‘Perfect Strangers’ era. Check out Readman singing the word ‘Wooomaaannnn’ on Devils Daughter. If Carsberg did Rainsnake or Whitebow tribute acts...!

Title track, ‘Broken Heart Syndrome’ brings the rockin’ right back on track, and ‘Blind Man’ harks back to the ballad-like-mid-paced rocker of days gone by. ‘Heal My Pain’ gets the pace back up to 88mph. I don’t want to keep harping on about likeness to Rainbow, but this is my last, with ‘I’m In Heaven’ giving a ‘Street of Dreams’ vibe to proceedings.

Voodoo Circle have the right blend of Beyrodt’s searing guitars combined with delicate laid back blues , sexy vocals, pulsating rhythm and all round greatness. ABVC have produced a set of songs that 21st Century Blackmore (if he wasn’t still in is mandolin induced coma), Coverdale et al would absolutely die for. Whitesnake have a new album out in March, and, if it’s a patch on this, I will gladly show my arse in Burton’s shop window!

I’m assuming that Alex has access to an 80s De Lorean. I am certain, that he went back to 1978, recorded this on 8 track, brought it back to 2008 and had to wait for the technology to catch up so he could convert it to mp3.

You don’t have to be 44 like me to appreciate Voodoo Circle. Fans of 70 and 80’s classic rock era will wet themselves on hearing this album. If you’ve waited for years (like me) for a Rainbow reunion, just forget it and buy this. Classic Rock at its absolute finest.


The Crave - Breaking The Silence

I don’t really wish to repeat myself, but here goes. It makes a (very) pleasant change, when every once in a while, you get your little mitts on a cd, (or in this increasing digital age, the potential for a lower grade download of an album – I have the cd thankfully!), that makes you sit up and listen. And restores your faith in rock music!

The guys from Brighton have learnt one hell of a lot over the last 18 months. Impressive support slots with Shinedown, Hot Leg, Deep Purple, Theory of a Deadman, Sonisphere, Quo, Buckcherry, Download, Rock AM, have proven to be their making. So far, so good. Has there been an improvement on the very impressive debut, ‘Anywhere to Everywhere’. The answer is a resounding YES!

The band comprises of Ryan Burnett - Vox, Guitar, Carlos Garcia - Guitar, Tom Swann - Bass, and CJ Evans - Drums. All the 12 songs are written by The Crave, and once again they dont stray far from the winning formula of their last album. Only this time its tighter, with a right blend, of rockers, anthemic tracks, with a couple of slower, stripped down numbers to mix it up a bit

The Crave make US Radio friendly music, end of. Golden Nuggets of huge riffs, with even huger choruses that more experienced, older, and wiser bands would outright kill their nearest and dearest for.  The Crave are just waiting to be plucked from the river of partial obscurity into the keep net of stadium mega-stardom. They have a nice balance of rockers, acoustic, and ballads to keep many a fan extremely happy

The Crave have the power and quality in their songs to take on any of their contemporaries in an all out fight to the death. Opener ‘Cooking In The Kitchen’ has their style written all over it. No doubt a choice for first single (as are many with a bit of luck), it’s a ballsy rocker with a Slash/Cult underlying riff. ‘Something Beautiful’ gives more than a passing nod to a more 80’s classic rock sound. Title track ‘Breaking The Silence’ is a no doubt is waiting to be picked up by a major US network for your typical ‘Jersey Shore’ bollox to give the said show a bit more clout! ‘Surrender and Retreat’ is a slower ballad and takes the weight off the other higher tempo numbers. On ‘Maverick’ Garcia pays homage to The Police’s ‘Message in a Bottle’. ‘The excellent ‘Spinning Wheel’ is a beautiful acoustic number just itching to be played live every night I suspect on their upcoming tour. ‘Silently Screaming’ is without doubt the best track on the album, building to a powerful crescendo, and is one of their best songs to date. ‘High’ reminds me of a great US band that very few will probably have come across in the UK,  the very melodic and excellent Flickerstick

The only criticism I have ( it has nowt to do with the music) is the poor choice of album cover. You get no sense of what music the band are peddling. I’m with Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree on this subject. I want a return to wonderful, artistic album covers of old. I’m in the minority when most people are happy to see a stamp sized cover on their ipod/mp3 player.

Despite my gripe, this is still one of the best albums you are likely to hear in 2011, and its still only Feb. It’s an improvement on the debut, the lads have definitely grown as a band.  BUT,  I’m confident The Crave have what it takes to be huge. Now go out there and prove me right


Thursday 24 February 2011

Mr Big - What If?

Well here we are. 2011. 20 years after Mr Big hit the (very) big time with ‘To Be With You’. A #1 single in a shitload of countries around the World. Implosion was not far away, with a certain Mr Sheehan going on record stating that he’d never work with Eric Martin again

Ah, but 20 yrs apart is a great healer, and no doubt so is the money that’s available to them in the lucrative Japanese market. The last few years has been a veritable feast of band reformation, with lots of bands, small and almost large, either trying to recreate that ‘classic sound’, or better still, that ‘classic album’ of whatever specific 1980 year they last hit their hey-day. I remember as an excited 22 yr old bringing home their awesome debut on vinyl! I can comfortably confirm that the Mr. Big reformation has been done for the greater good, and no doubt the whole of the rock community that embraced them all those years ago will certainly embrace them once again after hearing the quite fabulous ‘What If?’  For me, the Mr Big reformation is the biggest one yet

It’s quite clear from the offset that Mr Big mean BIG BUSINESS. Opening track ‘Undertow’ is one of the finest melodic rock songs you will witness in 2011. Its that good, it would grace either of the first two Mr Big albums. As a band Mr Big have brought their A game to the table. Writing, composition and overall musicianship have not lost any lustre. For me the ace in the hole is a certain Mr Martin. His vocals are as good now as they ever have been, plus judging by the band pics, he hasn’t aged a year in the last twenty. What a bastard!

The album flows very nicely into Mr Big typical rocker mode for ‘American Beauty’ and proves that they are not just in it for a quick buck. 'What If?'  judders slightly with the subdued lyrical content of  ‘Stranger In My Life’ but its by no means shite. I prefer my perception of Mr Big to be ripping the floor up with typical fret blasting wizardry of Messrs Gilbert and Sheehan, which is what we get with ‘Still Ain’t Enough For Me’which definitely has its leanings towards ‘Addicted To That Rush’. ‘What If’ is a heavier proposition than previous Mr Big albums, and I thoroughly applaud them for that. That said, we still get the now obligatory ballad in ‘All The Way Up’. The album finishes off strong with the mid paced ‘I Wont Get In My Way’, with its (ever so) catchy chorus. The next track, Around The World’ has Sheehan showcasing his immense bass talents.

The debut was as much about the interplay between Gilbert and Sheehans shedding, with Torpey and Martin being almost underrated members. Not any more. All they guys play major parts in 2011 Mr Big. Torpey is the glue holding it all together, allowing for the now trademarked interplay between Sheehan and Gilbert, with the added polish coming from Martin’s (still) amazing vocal quality.

As a comeback album, its positively amazing. As a modern piece of work in 2011, its not far behind either. It may not entice new followers into the Mr Big coven, but existing fans will be crapping themselves in excitement at this quality release. Almost awesome!