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!!!

Monday 25 March 2013

Charming Grace - ST Album Review

It’s a great thing indeed that some musicians/artistes still have it in their life blood to make Melodic Rock/AOR/Westcoast or whatever you want to call it. Pierpaolo “Zorro11” Monti is one such guy. Already a part of Shining Light and the first Lionville album, hes now devised a rather nice concept called Charming Grace

The pure AOR of the Charming Grace project is based on the idea of writing songs in the classic style of the 80s and recording them as duets. Although to be fair it seems a bit strange ho hear 2 blokes singing a duet! To give the record its own identity, all songs are sung by one main lead vocalist (Barbieri) while the featured duet partners are picked individually for each tune because of their special musical talents. The concept was developed by Pierpaolo "Zorro 11" Monti , (drums – Shining Line, Lionville) together with Davide "Dave Rox" Barbieri (lead vocals & keyboards – Wheels Of Fire) and Amos Monti (bass - Shining Line, Lionville).

Most of the songs for the album were written by Zorro together with Dave and they also picked two songs to record in the Charming Grace style, Bon Jovi’s “Everybody’s Broken” and Belinda Carlisle’s Top “Leave A Light On”.

Over the course of the months the Charming Grace guest list became a very special round up of musicians as it includes artists which haven't been in a recording studio for years or even decades. Prime example is David Forbes, whose unique vocal talent was one of the major keys to turn Boulevard, the Canadian band he fronted during the late 80s and early 90s, into the cult act they are among AOR connoisseurs.

Other very welcome guests on lead vocals celebrating a glorious return to the AOR and Melodic Rock world are the Scandinavians Bente Smaavik (Perfect Crime, Blonde On Blonde), Thomas Lassar (Crystal Blue), Henrik Launbjerg (Toys Of Joy) and Kimmo Bloom (Urban Tale) and from the States Moon Calhoun (Michael Thompson Band), who is accompanied by his mate Jeff Paris on backing vocals. The new generation of  Melodic Rock vocalists is represented by Nick Workman (Vega), Stefano Lionetti (Lionville), Michele Luppi (Los Angeles), Josh Zighetti (Hungryheart) and Gui Oliver (Auras). In addition to Bente the female part of CHARMING GRACE is taken over by the husky voiced Jesse Galante, an American born singer with Italian roots and the wonderful newcomer Aurë.

Among the ranks of the “Charming Grace Guitar Army” are the Swedes Sven Larsson (Street Talk, Lionville) and Peter Friestedt (Williams/Friestedt), local Italian string masters Roberto Priori (Danger Zone), Mario Percudani (Hungryheart, Shining Line, Mitch Malloy), Stefano Lionetti (Lionville), Mario Manzani (Florence 99), Steve De Biasi (Gunshy), Stefano Zeni (Wheels Of Fire), Andrea Lanza (Skill In Veins), Carmine Martone and Matteo Serra, while in the Red White and Blue corner, Tom Martin (Vega) is representing the UK.

Additional guests are Boris Matakovic (Human Zoo) on saxophone as well as James Martin (Vega) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (Edge Of Forever, Shining Line, Lionville, Hardline) on keyboards and backing vocalists Michael Carrata (Soul Seller), Franco Campanella (Myland) and Tomas Borgogna (Borgogna).

As you can see, Charming Grace is truly a who’s who of both the old and new guard of Melodic Rock!

The distinctive vocals of Nick Workman help kick off the project with ‘Everytime You Touch My Heart’, and his vocals complement Barbieri’s perfectly. The chorus is one of those AOR by numbers, instantly infectious and sing-able and has Vega’s style running right through it.

Moon Calhoun adds some spark (along with the one and only Jeff paris on BVs) to ‘The Way You Feel Inside’ a more uptempo track with more polish than a killers bathtub! Boulevards David Forbes steps up to the mic for ‘Shining Light’ no doubt a contender for the actual Shining Light album?! It’s a nice and safe song with some good guitar work from Mario Percudani  and is a decent track indeed.

All the track so fart are pretty damn good, but theres a step up in quality for the ADV sung “The Sound Of Your Heart” a small bloke with a huge set  of pipes. GC introduce the first of 2 covers, the first, one that few people other than Bon Jovi die hards will recognize (lets face it BJ have been off the boil for some time now – I say this as a Bon Jovi fan, well I was up until ‘Bounce’), in “Everybody’s Broken” more country than rock, but is handled well here by Josh Zighetti. The other is the female Bon Jovi, Belinda Calisle’s ‘Leave A light On’. Only available on the Euro version, perhaps they should have prayed for a power cut in the studio. Its ok I suppose, but I was never a fan of ‘The Carlisle” so I cant really appreciate the gesture. I could think of much better female artist songs to make a decent go of

‘Through The Stars’ Sees the Monti’s reunited with Lionville colleague Stefano Lionetti and has more of a present day AOR feel than the others on offer

Its firmly got its feet planted in the 80s, and that’s both a good and bad thing. Bad because its in the past and Id like bands to take a chance, but good because some really recent songs came out of the AOR movement of this period, and songs that I still turn to this day, and for that Zorro, Monti and Barbieri have a record that they can be very proud of as it certainly ticks the right melodic boxes in abundance


Official website:
www.charminggraceaor.com www.facebook.com/CharmingGOfficial

Label contact : Avenue Of Allies

Saturday 23 March 2013

FM, It Bites, Vega tour - Manchester Academy 2, March 21st 2013

FM, It Bites, Vega - Manchester Academy 2, March 21st 2013

A decent sized audience turns up again for the latest FM show/tour. If most of them are like me, they are there to witness one of Britain's finest EVER rock bands. I don’t say this lightly, but more of these perennial and on fire rockers in a mo!

I thought that the gig was a sell out and that FMs demographic had changed as there was a queue of a few hundred foppy haired teens (mostly young girls), there to see XFactor failure Frankie Co-codamol! Or so my lad tells me!

Also on the FM bill are younger statesmen of melodic rock, and all round Def Leppard sound-alikes, the hugely talented Vega, and the 80s prog faves, It Bites.

 Vega (up first) both look and sound the part of the future of British AOR and they are ready to take on the Americans (hopefully) at their own game. These guyse don’t have an axe to grind with the dreaded 2nd album syndrome as new trace being aired tonight prove that they have developed and matured into a mighty fine ‘single’ machine. Highlights of the short set are predominately the ‘new’ ones, with ‘Not There For You’, a sure fire single in the not too distant future, the Def Lep influenced ‘What The Hell’ a song with a biographical tone and more than a ringer for Leppard’s “..Sugar’, and the anthemic closer, 'Hands In The Air’. The Martin boys certainly have a ear for a catchy number or 14, and in adding Night By Night guitarist Ben Christo, filled out the Vega sound perfectly, and when all the lads can sing, it doesn’t make for a better experience than this


It Bites are a bit different from the original line up with only John Beck and Bob Dalton hanging on in there from the 80s, with John Mitchell (Arena, Frost*) handling vocals and guitar. ‘Master King’ John Beck is the definite conductor of the band with all taking lead and direction from him. If ever a band were there to please the audience, and more importantly themselves, its It Bites. Not giving a rats arse to a smallish set, they still throw in a typical prog number in 'The Wind That Shakes The Barley’ a cool Spock's Beard type number. To be fair to they guys, they are not living on past glories as 4 songs from the last 5 yrs  on offer all are very impressive. Again all members contribute to the backing vocals, with Beck looking as if he is slightly manic with a wild stare and grin on a couple of occasions, and looking a typical prog rocker and like a member of ‘Strange Fruit’ (go look it up if you don’t know what I mean - I state this as a tribute, not an insult!)

Onto the darlings of the night, Britains finest rock band, the mighty FM. Don’t take my work for it, they call it themselves as a part of the intro, and who am I to argue with such talent. FM have a lead singer in Steve Overland who should be talked about in the same sentences for 80s rockers and MILFY housewives as Michael Bolton, only Steve has a much better looking barnet! He sounds a mix of Paul Rodgers/Sam Cook and the aforementioned Bolton, all rolled into one great live package (no auto-tune needed here folks). Couple this with long standing partners and FMs driving rhythm machine (Messers Jupp and Goldsworthy) and it’s a case of light the blue touch paper and stand well back

Jem Davis is not as ‘in front’ as 'Didge’ used to be, and that’s a good sign, just letting his playing and bvs taking centre stage. And with young gungslinger Jim Kirkpartick, his playing has injected a certain oomph into them, and lets face it, if you’ve seen FM these past 2 yrs, then you’ve caught them in the best form of their lives. ‘Tough Love’ kickstarts proceedings, before a clutch of oldies come to the fore, with ‘I Belong..’, ‘That Girl’, and ‘Hot Wired’ all hitting the mark. SO commented that he gets stick for his set list choices from the fans, but FM could remove 10 of the songs played tonight (and for the remaining two nights of the tour) and I think the everyone would still be very happy bunnies, such is the quality of their back catalogue. FM still can write a damn infectious song or two, Only Foolin, and the excellent Rockville track Crosstown Train bearing testament to their talent.
There was no surprise as per Mondays Bingley gig where Didge joined them on stage, we just had to do with the straight-talkin, let the songs and performance do the business from UKs finest

Lets just hope 2014 brings the 25th anniversary tour of the classic ‘Tough It Out’ and I would be one ecstatic FM fan indeed. Long may they (all) continue

Saturday 9 March 2013

Stryper - Second Coming Album Review


Yay! Or should that be Hallelujah! My favourite God botherer's are back with a new album. Now if there's one Christian rock band you have to have in your collection, its Stryper. Yes they are seen as a gimmick, but if they are, then it’s a bloody good one! They have written some tripe, I don’t particularly care for the sugar coated ballads, but when they let rip, Michael Sweet has one of the finest rock voices I've ever heard, EVER!

Without a doubt, Stryper is one of the top Christian rock bands of all-time, and certainly the most celebrated Christian metal band of all time. Comprised of Michael Sweet (vocals/guitar), Oz Fox (guitar), Tim Gaines (bass), and Robert Sweet (drums), Stryper has been rocking since 1983, and is responsible for such '80s metal classic albums as 'Soldiers Under Command,' 'To Hell with the Devil,' In God We Trust,' and such MTV hit singles/videos as "Calling on You," "Free," and "Honestly." After a sabbatical for much of the 1990's, Stryper returned strong in the early 21st century (Lazarus effect). But it was not until their 2011 covers set, 'The Covering,' that the aforementioned definitive Stryper was reinstated, as the band welcomed Gaines back into the fold.

The sixteen track new album includes brand new recordings of fourteen Stryper classics plus two brand new songs recorded for this celebrative (and it’s a truly) ‘Best Of’ release.

Covering songs from the first EP of the band “The Yellow and Black Attack”, the follow up “Soldiers Under Command” and the following “To Hell With the Devil” along with two brand new tracks, “Second Coming” allows the youngest generation of fans of the band to become acquainted with the early band’s repertoire offering some over the top classic performances only this time with 21st C production techniques and a bit of welly and thunder thrown in. As the originals sounded as if they had been recorded in 4AD. 

Stryper (2013)
The re-recordings are fabulous, they’ve been recorded today as they were intended to, and probably for a fraction of the cost. In Michael Sweet, Stryper have a vocalist with the voice of a God, a Rock God! 

The heavier numbers are the ones that really stand out – ‘Loud And Clear, Soldiers Under Command; Makes Me Wanna Sing; The Rock That Makes Me Roll and To Hell With The Devil’ all have a much added depth and quality than before. Stryper haven’t messed around with the songs to suit an older Michael Sweet, as he still hits all the notes without any fuss whatsoever and that in itself is quite remarkable. The two new songs have more of a classic rock feel to them, as the opening riff to ‘Bleeding From The Inside Out’ reminds me of Rainbow’s 16th Century Greensleeves, and ‘Blackened’ is an up-tempo little affair.

Michael Sweet has high hopes for what lays in store for Stryper. "We're really excited this record. The re-recorded songs are sounding awesome! Better than the originals in many ways!! One word to describe the record? Heavier. We're hooked up with some great people - we've got new management, a great album, a great label. We just feel like everything is coming together, and hopefully some big things are to follow."

So…don’t take my word for it, check out what these guys thought of the Second Coming....

‘I could never part with it’, Moses
‘My wives loved it!’, Solomon
‘Great music for the Ark’s ipod’, Noah
‘It slayed me!’, Goliath
‘I couldn’t stop dancing’, Salome

I must add that I feel that the project has been at the behest of the head of Frontiers. Don't get me wrong, the reworked songs are decent, but I think Stryper would have been best coming to market with either a brand new set of songs (especially as the last album was a covers cd) or got the originals remastered with a handful of rare and unreleased tracks....Winter Wonderland anyone???


Loud N’ Clear;
Loving You;
Soldiers Under Command;

Makes Me Wanna Sing;
First Love;
The Rock That Makes Me Roll;
Reach Out;
To Hell With The Devil;
Calling On You; 
The Way;
Sing Along Song;
More Than A Man;
Bleeding From Inside Out (New);
Blackened (New).


Michael Sweet – Lead Vocals / Lead Guitar
Robert Sweet – Drums and Visual Timekeeping
Timothy Gaines – Bass / Vocals
Oz Fox – Lead Guitar / Vocals

FM - Rockville & Rockville II Album Review

FM – Rockville & Rockville II

Well rock fans, Britain’s finest have been up to it yet again, and, like a fine wine, the FM guys are getting better with age. When most are content with living on past glories, FM are out to write a new chapter for themselves with every single release.

They gained a fair bit of moolah from their Pledge campaign, showing just how popular they are

They tried and tried for many a year to crack the big time, and what with Metropolis and now Rockville they have an album that just screams for it to be heard on the radio! It’s probably not as heavy as Metropolis, but bugger me they haven’t half come up with an instantly likeable, hummable and Goddamn infectious set of songs. The lads are probably in their most prolific period since they formed back in the 80’s . Load the album into the dreaded iTunes, and they genre displays ‘pop’! If anything it’s a FM-rock radio friendly (with more than a hint of country rock thrown in for good measure) set of songs that deserve to be played on this and the other side of the Atlantic. Listen up America!

FM have tried over the years to take on the Americans at their own game. That plan didn’t work out too well, but US’ loss is the UKs gain. FM have a talent for polished, and attractive songs.

Opener “Tough Love” (mid-paced and catchy!)and “Wake Up World” (soulful, and a shoe in for the upcoming live gigs) both typify the 21st Century FM..less heavier, still hankering for the 80s a little, but with a bit more soul (in both senses of the word). No more so than ”Only Foolin’’ the first single that typifies the FM/Kirkpatrick groove. “Crave” has ‘The Voice’ showing off his chops, and its got Radio 2 written all over the thing! Yes R2 sounds shite to some young whippersnappers, but for me this is the big time!!

Mr O goes all kinky on us by singing about “My Love Beads!” Tinnitus is a horrible thing to contend with, I’m assured its “My Love Bleeds”. Highlight of Rockville is the new classic, “Crosstown Train”, a brooding number where JK truly lets rip. A heavier beast than the rest, its up there with their finest and if I can recommend buying an album based on one song alone, then “Crosstown Train” is it! Ill give you two reasons...the other being "Only Foolin'" another catchy Overland classic of the present and future.

All the others roll along in a similar FM-vein WYSIWYG, powerful, catchy as Hell, and delivered with a muster that few bands can match nowadays.

FM_rockville2_cover_300dpi_w250So, moving onto Rockville II.....
FM have been in prolific writing form of late. In an age where fans like to have a number of formats, special editions etc, the FM fan-base will be in their element with Rockville II. ‘High’ is another FM slant on the SO back catalogue, with “High’ getting the treatment this time round. (I know The Ladder, not FM covered “Baby Blue” before any smart arse kicks off!). “Bad Addiction” is a mix of ‘Aint Gonna Run’ and ‘Primitive Love’ and should have been a contender for the main event. 
Folk music often concerns being far away from where the singer resides. Steve Overland must have very itchy feet and a desire for travel in its various forms with songs like ‘Crosstown Train; Desolation Station; Runaway Train and Paradise Highway’, and continuing on the travel theme with ‘Brother Take Me Home’!! If you could put two genres together it could be country rock, but the amalgamation isnt too good...."Crock!" or even "Cock"

So there you have it – a mighty fine main event and a solid set of songs on Rockville II that any discerning FM fan will lap up. Whilst it doesn’t break any musical barriers, FM are in very fine form indeed.




Tough Love
Wake Up The World
Only Foolin'
Show Me The Way
My Love Bleeds
Story Of My Life
Better Late Than Never
Crosstown Train
Goodbye Yesterday 
High Cost Of Loving

Rockville II

Bad Addiction
Desolation Station
Runaway Train
Living For The Weekend
Forever And A Day
Paradise Highway
Brother Take Me Home
Last Chance Saloon