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!!!

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Ten / Serpentine / White Widdow - The Railway, Bolton, Mon 28th May 2012

The venue (Railway, Bolton) was small (2x the size of my lounge) , hot (very) and crowded (again, very). Put it this way, if Carlsberg did home concerts, then the Railway nailed it. It was like playing a gig in your living room – stage where the telly was, carpets, curtains, and 150-200 of your closest friends. Close, as you had to mingle with other people's odour and bodily fluids! This isn't a criticism by the way, The Railway was a venue and a half! In fact, they would put other bigger venues to shame (sound, lasers - they even broadcast the gig to other rooms in the pub if you are not in the main room - very nice!). Also they have a superb video jukebox playing all your faves from the last 30-odd years! I wish we had one in Wrexham!!!

The acts on offer were White Widdow (Australia) - now that takes some commitment to get guys over for a handful of intimate gigs, Serpentine (Wales & Yorks), and Ten (Lancs) headlining in the UK for the first time in years. Billed on the poster 'for fans of Whitesnake, Journey, Foreigner & Toto' and the like. They couldn’t have been more spot on!

White Widdow was up first. Breaking in their new virgin drummer (George Kristy), it was only his 4th ever gig, and it was if the band was a settled formation for years. Unfortunately though, singer Jules Millis' was suffering, at least he had the decency to apologise for the state of it (probably the state of the decent weather/humidity/beer!). Despite this affliction, they still delivered a sterling set of AOR classics - with feet firmly planted in the 80's - it won’t be the first time I say this about tonight - WW delivered a set of AOR quality. Despite the vocal issues, WW delivered on all levels.

A change from the Sat eve Nottingham gig whereby WW headlined, on the basis of tonight the running order was truly justified. These guys (Serpentine) should have no right playing old school AOR in the 21st Century. AOR wasn’t even popular when its popularity was at its highest in the 80s so why bother now? Why? Because you can’t beat a bit of class and melody, and tonight’s audience proved that if the line up is correct, fans will turn up to watch quality.

With regards to the young whippersnappers that are Serpentine, one would normally expect them to travel the country in the back of a Ford Transit, and I somewhat expect that this mode of transport has been ditched for a DeLorean as Serpentine wear their AOR 1980's badges well and truly out in the open. Singer Matt Black has some big Tony Mills size shoes to fill, but you know what, he's stepped into these songs like a comfy pair of slippers and slayed the Mills beast. Even better, he fits the Serpentine songs like a glove and I feel that the songs sound even better now than originally recorded. Smooth Toto-esque numbers like Lonely Nights just oozed class. The setlist was weighted towards LADIHD, and rightly so. For me Serpentine would take some eclipsing and are one of the best melodic rock bands Ive witnessed in some time. These guys can carry the melodic torch for many a year to come

Onto the headliners for the evening, Ten seemed to be the melodic rock bearers in the 90s when no one else really give a shit about AOR. It’s a mere ten years since Hughes and his Ten minstrels last made a go of a UK tour. They have been sorely missed. Hughes was out to peddle songs from the latest CD in the main (Stormwarning),in particular the very pop and commercial oriented ‘ The Hourglass and the Landslide’, and the excellent opener ‘Endless Symphony’. Hughes also promised to delve throughout the classics right back to their beginnings. ‘Ten Fathoms Deep, After The Love Has Gone, The Robe and Name of The Rose’ were all given a well aired outing. Gary Hughes’ voice hasn’t got the widest register in the world, but what he lacks in range me more than makes up for in quality of songwriting and substance. Backed by an excellent bunch, Yates, Mitchell, McKenna, Treece-Birch, and long standing guitarist Halliwell, all delivered in spades and were as polished as Gary Glitters bedroom telescope. For fans due to see them headlining the Friday Firefest, Ten will be a sight to behold I’m sure

If it were a boxing match, I think Serpentine just shaded it on a points decision.

Extreme credit to all concerned, this tour is one of the best VFM gigs you’ll see all year. Catch them on the remaining dates in Birmingham and Ponty before the end of this week

Monday 28 May 2012

Great White - Elation

The love and passion for their music has never faltered. Re-charged and re-focused, Great White channels their raw, sweet and all-at-once dangerous sound into their soon-to-be released collection. Set to come out May 2012 from Frontiers Records, Elation is the band’s 12th studio album. Elation thrives on Great White’s signature grit and blues-hued sound, only marked with a new synergy.

Featuring original members, Mark Kendall (guitar), Michael Lardie (guitar, keyboards), Audie Desbrow (drums) and joined by lead singer Terry Ilous and bassist Scott Snyder the group emerged unscathed from late 2011 band member changes. Best known for the 1989 smash “Once Bitten, Twice Shy,” Great White’s worldwide sales are approaching 10 million. Their song arsenal also includes  “Rock Me,” “Save Your Love,” “The Angel Song,” “Mistabone” and more!
Lardie, who also served as Elation’s producer, applauded the band’s teamwork in the studio. He was struck by the group’s song writing approach and enthusiasm, and assures fans will embrace the record.

Now me and Great Back go a long way. A hell of a long way back to the debut all those years ago, wow it was 1984! I sought of become a bit disconnected with Great White around the ‘Hooked’ period. I must admit that the band has gone through its fair share up line-ups and problems (2003 club fire, Jack Russell’s illness, and now touring under the moniker Jack Russell’s Great White!)

Evidently after using Jani Lane, Paul Shorting these past couple of years, Great White have settled on the very experienced, and also very talented Terry Ilous (XYZ). As you would expect its not jack Russell singing, not many have a trademark set of pipes like Russell. We currently have 2 versions of the same band, although this is the original, and both peddling the same songs to the same audience base. Let the lawyers pick them both clean in the name of Great White!

Opening track <i>(I’ve Got) Something For You</i> definitely in the old Great White blues rock vibe. <i> Feeling So Much Better</i>  is decent enough and proves the bloke has a great set of pipes, but its difficult to get past the missing Jack Russell vox (maybe I’m being a bit too harsh). Ilous does a decent enough job I admit, but possibly the songs could be taken up a notch with Russel’s singing, bearing in mind he can still sing like he did of course.

<i>Love Train</i> take thinks up a discernible notch or three, a slow burner in the classic Bad Company mould. <i>Hard to Say Goodbye</i> is an obligatory campfire cowboy rock ballad that sounds as its straight out of the Black Crowes back catalogue.

All in all its pretty standard fare, and is a decent enough album. If it weren’t for the Great White moniker being attached, I doubt it would sell by the amount that it will. In saying that, without Jack Russell, it’s no Great White, and possibly they should have considered going out under a new name. But who am I to stop them shifting some albums in 2012. Ilous does a great job on vocals and it’s great to hear the Great White sound being replicated almost 30 years down the line


Terry Ilous– lead vocals
Mark Kendall– lead guitar
Scott Snyder– bass guitar
Audie Desbrow– drums
Michael Lardie– guitar, keyboards 

Tracklisting:(I've Got) Something For You; Feelin' So Much Better; Love Train; Heart Of A Man; Hard To Say Goodbye; Resolution; Shotgun Willie's; Promise Land; Lowdown  (Bonus Track); Just For Tonight; Love Is Enough; Complicated.

Hardline - Danger Zone

Hardline was formed when brothers Johnny (vocals) and Joey (guitar) Gioeli, originally from the band Brunette, teamed up with Journey/Bad English guitarist Neal Schon. The original plan was for Neal to produce Hardline, but as he was having so much fun that he decided to join the band as soon as he left Bad English.

They immediately added established musicians Todd Jensen (David Lee Roth, Alice Cooper) on bass and Deen Castronovo (also coming from Bad English) on drums to the mix and the result was magnificent. They went on to record their debut album “Double Eclipse” for MCA in 1992 and then went on the tour circuit with such heavy hitters as Van Halen and Mr. Big.

While it became apparent after the release of the third album that the band would risk again to go into hibernation, it was thanks to the persistence of the band’s #1 fan, Frontiers Records President Serafino Perugino that Gioeli decided to give Hardline another go. That happened when he heard the songs that the Italian songwriter and producer Alessandro Del Vecchio (Edge of Forever) started to write for him. Surprised and excited with the quality of the music, Hardline  has now turned to a different beast and with a European based line-up featuring Francesco Iovino (UDO), Thorsten Koehne (Code Of Perfection, Eden's Curse) and Anna Portalupi (Mitch Malloy)

Well one thing is certain. In today's current musical climate, being a guitarist or a drummer simple doesn’t cut the mustard. You have to me a multi-instrumentalist at least, and it helps even more of the said Multi-instramentalist can sing, write and probably produce and knob twiddle as well! Its pretty much happening in the 2012 version of Hardline. ( Is it 20 yrs since the cracking debut was let loose?)

Anyway I digress. On board this time is one of the hardest working blokes in rock music, and he seems to be popping up in almost every review I’m writing recently, Alessandro Del Veccio – Keyboardist / writer / producer / vocal teacher / and pretty decent singer in his own right.  He probably designs his own range of Italian clothing

The only issue I have with this, is that some of the albums doing the rounds, and no doubt a few more over the next few months, are all having the same sound. If you like your melodic rock as polished as Gary Glitters bedroom telescope, then look no further. The same could be said of a lot of European melodic rock/metal at this present time. Check out the likes of Edens Curse, etc and you'll see what I'm getting at.

Thankfully though its not all negative news, the new Hardline album is actually very good indeed. The best on offer since the excellent debut. Opening track (and best song on the album) ‘Fever Dreams’ has all the hallmarks of a great melodic rock song and would easily be a contender for  Double Eclipse had it been written 20 years ago. Thanks to the new team and Gioeli’s trademark vocals Danger Zone hits the road running at 100mph.

Title track ‘Danger Zone’ is darker and heavier than you’d expect from a Hardline song, and it this isn’t your cup of tea then there’s more melodic fluffiness just around the corner. What Id Like brings it all back on track, with a decent hook and chorus, and Gioeli's off flying again.

The best efforts here (after the opener) consist of the ballad ‘Stronger than Me’, ‘Never Too Late For Love’, and ‘Stay’

As expected I cannot fault the production here one little bit. Its from the ADV school of knob twiddling, and is consistent and high quality. If only the same could be said of the songs on offer. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good Hardline album, its just not a great one


Tracklisting: Fever Dreams; 10.000 Reasons; Danger Zone; What I'd Like; Stronger Than Me; Never Too Late For Love; Stay; I Don't Want To Breakaway; Look At You Now; Please Have Faith In Me; Show Me Your Love; The Only One.

Johnny Gioeli – vocals
Alessandro Del Vecchio - keyboards and backing vocals
Thorsten Koehne - guitars
Anna Portalupi - bass
Francesco Jovino - drums

Sunday 27 May 2012

Taurus Trakker - Building Ten

Many will claim that The Clash inspired them to pick up the guitar (me? I rather name drop Ritchie Blackmore, but that’s just me I suppose!), but few can say that they caught Joe Strummers sminal punks at such close quarters as Taurus Trakkers Martin Muscatt. You see. Muscatt is Mick Jones’ younger cousin, and MT got to witness than man himself of some of the early shows played by the man he calls, ‘’the most intense and passionate band ever’’. Brave move, I can see his point that The Clash were a very important band in British music (and their legacy to the World even). But me Im more of a Classic Rock/NWOBHM kind of bloke

Ive not heard the debut, but someone obviously liked what he did and he is back with the dreaded sopohomore album, ‘Building Ten’.  Taurus Trakker are basically a two piece with Martin Muscatt handling chief duties, songwriting, guitar, vocals; and Allison Phillips, on drums and BVs. Others drop in and out, Mick Jones plays a part on the title track.

Ive always made it quite clear that I like my singers to actually sing. For me Muscatt does the opposite, its your typical Cockney vocal, sort of ‘Chas and Dave’ only with a bit more of an edge. Musically the blokes spot on and they definitely have something here, a blues style which I really like, but unfortunately vocally his style leaves me very cold indeed, even writing this on what is the hottest day of the year so far in 2012. Perhaps it’s the heat that makes me miserable and unable to fixate on the blokes vocal talents. I'm not a huge fan, but what Taurus Trakker do, they do very well indeed, think Black Crowes (only without Chris Robinson Singing) and replace with Gary Holton (R.I.P.), and early Stones, and then you're not far off the mark

TT write ‘proper’ songs. One of which should be adopted by my local supermarket, lovingly entitled ‘ Bag for Life’. Surely this should have been ‘Bags!’ I myself have enough to last thru my great grandkid's lives as well. One thing I do like is Krysten Cummings’ background vocals, who adds a good dollop of class to those 5 songs that she contributes to. Let her sing one next time Martin!

The punk driven songs I could do without (Title Track) but songs like the light hearted Bag for Life, (very catchy indeed), and the more classic blues driven songs  (Young Mans Trouble, Gamblin' Blues) are much better on my ears

Without being too critical, the music is ‘sahnd as a fackin pahnd’ but vocally its just not me. Despite my gripe I will base the review on more on the music


 Taurus Trakker - Building Ten

1. lucky
2. 21 miles to a water pump
3. rock some kind of zen
4. bag for life
5. west london rock n roll
6. building ten
7. young mans trouble
8. gamblin blues
9 push and pull
10. temporary

Friday 25 May 2012

Summers - 364

If you’re one of the (very) lucky few who managed to catch Summers live performance at the recent ZRock festival in Bilston - I say lucky as, a) hardly any fecker attended the stellar line up of bands, and b) the schedule was fucked about with so much on the Sunday, your average punter would need they psychic skills of Doris Stokes to know that they were going to play an hour earlier than intended!

Those who were lucky enough to see this young AOR-tastic band were left with a nice warm fuzzy feeling at the end of their set. You see, Summers are one of THE BEST melodic rock bands to come out of Southampton, the South Coast, the UK!

It’s inevitable that this band, which lets face it, are way to young to be writing shit hot AOR songs, and will be tagged with all plaudits that lead firmly to Sheffield and Def Leppard comparisons. But they say if it aint broke, don’t fix it, Summers make no apology whatsoever for being a 21st Century Leppard. A 80s sounding Leppard in the name of Summers is better than the current actual Leppard. On the evidence of the first few listens of 364, this album is that strong it could have been written by Def Leppard any time between 1980-1984. This alone tells you how much I love this album, and know doubt you will one once you get your mitts on this potential future classic

Summers get their name for the 2 founding brothers Crash (Vox) and Ricky (Bass & BVs) Summers. Making up the band are Jase (Guitar & BVs), Joedy Rose (Guitar & BVs), and Andy Pope (Drums & BVs)

It’s almost Def Leppard by numbers - for ‘Steal Away’, read ‘Animal’, for ‘Tool Late’, read ‘When Love and Hate Collide’. This isn’t criticism here, its high praise indeed

Opening track, 'Catch Me' is a catchy as baseball covered in molasses. With a chorus that gets you immediately hooked, it’s as clear as day that Summers have a talent for all things melodic. Crash is as close to 80s Joe Elliott than a 80s Joe Elliott is to Joe Elliott!! I know what I'm talking about -  I think! All the guys chip in with BVs and that itself is a beautiful thing. I’m a sucker for 4 & 5 part harmonies, and few can muster such quality like Summers have here

All the tracks on offer have been written with maximum enjoyment to the listener, catchy hooks, great solos, even greater choruses. The production for an unsigned band makes them seem more like a stadium band. This could surely be a target for them given the right circumstances

The only question is whether or not this style of melodic rock has had its day. Certainly AOR/Melodic Rock has had its day, but currently the resurgence and demand in melodic rock (take Glee for example) is a high a stock rating as it’s had since the early 90s and that’s not a bad thing. I certainly hope that there is a future for Summers out there as a damn site more people deserve to hear music of this unparalleled quality. Someone needs to get off their fat arse and sign this band up, and NOW.  '364' is infinitely better than most of the stuff I've heard the past couple of years, from new or established bands.

I beg you to catch Summers when they return to The Robin 2 in August on their own headline gig. I'll be the one offering refunds if you aren’t in agreement with how good they are live



Summers - 364

1. Shot In The dark
2. Superhero
3. Girls
4. Too Late
5. Sometimes
6. Steal Away
7. Lets Make Love
8. Billy
9. Lets Go Round
10. Told You So
11. Terminator
12. Rockmachine

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Affector - Harmagedon

Long lost 11th Commandment - Thou shalt Prog on!

After 4 years of intensive writing and recording, newcoming prog metallers  Affector are finally set to release the concept album “Harmagedon’’. The seed for this debut album was planted in 2006 with the initial meeting of Dutch drummer Collin Leijenaar and German guitarist Daniel Fries. As the touring drummer for Neal Morse (Transatlantic, Flying Colors, ex Spock’s Beard), Leijenaar sometimes encountered fans on the road seeking his feedback on their own music. It was a routine that not always brought something interesting to the table, but as fate would have it, Fries had something inspirational to offer. His music was strong enough to forge a friendship with Leijenaar and the pair kept in contact, trading ideas along the way that have only now come to fruition in 2012 in the form of “Harmagedon”.

Songwriting began earnestly in 2008,with Leijenaar and Fries creating demos based on separate and collaborative musical ideas, including some dating as far back as 2005 and earlier. Connections to vocalist Ted Leonard (Enchant, Spock’s Beard, Thought Chamber) and bassist Mike LePond (Symphony X) brought both men on board, and the unit was confident enough in what they’d created to put together a wish list of guest keyboardists for their debut album that included Neal Morse, Alex Argento, Derek Sherinian (Black Country Communion, Planet X, ex-Dream Theater) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater). They succeeded in securing all four!

Ultimately, if the music isn’t enough to rope the listener in, the album concept is sure to finish the job. As “Harmagedon” will be released in 2012, the band chose to focus on the predictions (via the Mayan calendar and the writings of Nostradamus) that the world is doomed to end in 2012 and thought it would be interesting to do something with that 'end of the world' theme. So Fries and Leijenaar took parts of one of the oldest books in history (the Bible) to tell the story of the end times using only biblical verses. There is no rhyme or cadence for the vocals, the lyrics haven’t been embellished with a personal touch, and the music was written around the verses. It is, in the truest sense, experimental art.

The album begins, for example, with an instrumental introductory piece (‘Overture pt. 1&2’) – complete with a flesh-and-blood orchestra (Poland’s Sinfonietta Consonus) – to introduce all the musical themes featured in a manner similar to an opera or musical.

Coming onto ‘Salvation’, reveals the true sound of Affector. I know Ted can sing with the best of them, if you’re a fan of Enchant and miss them dearly, it’s great to hear Leonard back and on tip top vocal form. The key of Affector’s brilliance is the guitar work of Daniel Fries, blindingly technical and ranging across various progressive metal styles, and keeping it just pain and uncomplicated when needed also. The guy is a ‘Revelation’ (Sorry!). ‘The Rapture’ is one of the highlight (to be totally honest I can’t hear anything I can find fault with), interspersing melodic solos and the Sinfonietta Consonus orchestra with some of the heaviest metal riffs on the album so far! It’s the best part of 14 mins of pure symphonic prog heaven. (again, sorry!)

Considering they got all of their keyboardists to play along, it is the four outsiders that truly make the album a worthwhile experience. All add value and substance in the ways that only Morse, Sherinian, Rudess and Argento truly can. The whole album is as overblown as (Jordans boobs!) one would expect, but there are some great riffs and plenty of catchy hooks to be had here, even if the lyrics are straight from the ‘Dragon Tattoo’ of its day; the one, the only…The Bible!

Comparisons will rightly be drawn to the likes of Dream Theater and Symphony X, and fans of both will lap this music up immediately. Affector deserved to be talked in the same sentences as DT as this music is actually on a par with DTs best stuff. I don’t say that lightly.

A ‘Super Group’ is a name given out way too often in these modern times. Whilst Affector guys are exactly household names, their commitment to their craft, and the subsequent symphonic progressive tour de force that they have bestowed upon us will make these four guys a lot more well known across the prog world in the months to come. Let's hope that the Mayan Calendar doesn’t piss up their plans for a follow album in 2013!!!

If you’re not content with being just happy with your music choices, opt for this. It will truly give you a religious experience with story telling and musical excellence bar none. I’m that confident that this will be in a Top 5 of fans prog/rock albums at the end of the year, I’m almost tempted to offer a money back guarantee on behalf of Inside Out myself. It’s that good an album. Play at XI (!)


Inside Out

Affector - Harmagedon

1. Overture pt.1: Introduction
2. Overture pt.2: Prologue
3. Salvation
4. The Rapture
5. Cry Song ´
6. Falling Away & Rise Of The Beast
7. Harmagedon
8. New Jerusalem

Saturday 12 May 2012

MSG - Temple of Rock Tour, The Ritz Manchester

Not bad considering its off my mobile! Schenker was on fire, best I've seen him in 30 years

Monday 7 May 2012

Skam - It's Come To This....

These three guys hail from Leicester, not the hottest bed of metal in the UK I think you will agree, but I think that Steve Hill (guitar & vocals), Matthew Gilmore (Bass and vocals), ‘X’ Ray Peverill (drums) are about to put Leicester firmly on the map o’metal!

I was lucky to witness Skam supporting both The Answer/ The Union on their recent UK tour. Such was the power and energy coming off these guys, they could power half of Leics with their stage energy

Similar to bands like AC/DC and Stones, Skam have a simple but effective formula – if it aint broke, don’t fuckin fix it! Whilst they cannot be compared with other 3 pieces like Rush or Muse, Skam do what they set out to pretty effectively

Opening with ‘Soldiers of Rock’ Skam prove their mission statement and it is as tight as a gnats chuff. Singer / Guitarist Steve Hill hasn’t got the full range I’d like from a rock singer, but replaces this with a raw passion and energy and his style suits the songs perfectly. They veer from Metallica to Maiden in the space of a few bars – and it’s not a bad comparison to make, is it? ‘Dead From The Waist Down’ once again pushes all the (and my) right buttons and has a pretty cool and ever so catchy bridge and chorus. ‘No Lies’ has a riff straight out of the 80s glam metal scene, and is driven along by Peverill’s powerful drumming. ‘Massacre’ starts off with a kind of vibe straight out of Vanilla Fudge’s repertoire. The blues tinged ‘Going Away’ is where I feel that Skam fit the best. Despite the heavy powerful rockers, ‘Going Away’ gives Hills voice the best vehicle for his talents. It hits you in stages, firstly after the first chorus where the drums kick in, and then again with a Lizzy-esque guitar break, before – wait for it – their own take on what could easily pass for a ‘Mission Impossible’ theme.

To be totally honest with ya, these no real filler on the whole cd. ‘Weapon’ is definitely the best of the songs on offer on the second half. 

I love this writing malarkey when it springs up something new for me to get my teeth into and hopefully pass on some new bands that some ‘dyed in the wool’ old farts would never get to try out. If just a few of you go out and buy this debut from a very promising and home grown UK rock band, then it’s a beautiful thing indeed.

Skam I’m sure will be making great strides in the near future and are definitely a band to watch out for in 2012. Catch em live because this is where they shine.

Support your UK rock music people! Skam needs you, and you need Skam!!!!


1. Soldiers Of Rock
2. Dead From The waist Down
3. No Lies
4. Massacre
5. Going Away
6. Weapon
7. The Touch Of Death
8. Frustration
9. Hold Me Down
10. Revealing