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!!!

Sunday 12 April 2015

Uberkill - 'Sex On A Leash' EP Review

Its cool to be a band with an umlaut on your name isn’t it. Motörhead, Queensrÿche, Mötley Crüe, Blue Öyster Cult all do it for effect and Überkill are no different. At least if you’re going to use a diacritic, make sure it’s a German sounding name. Enough of the lesson lets get to the music

Überkill are a five piece from dat der London comprising of Michael Blackheart (v), Nick Childs (g), Carsten Hoyer (b), Graham Tull (d) and Iain Grant (sg), the ‘sg is not as in ‘Gibson’, but ‘session guitar.’

The EP is back to old skool proportions, 4 tracks, an in yer face as a rock band should be. Christ some bands EPs are longer than albums were in the 70s and 80s. Not the case here. Überkill go for the KISS method – keep it simple stupid!

And that’s what we have here -  straight-forward, good old fashioned rock and roll.  It’s all riff based, punchy and fast with immediate foot tappin’, lip smackin’, head bangin’ tunes on offer here folks!

Rock music that is accessible as this hopefully pays out for the band in question. If you like 80s rock like AC/DC, and some of the later DC models like Airbourne, Bonafide, etc., then Überkill will sit alongside these in your collection with ease.

‘Two Timin’ Woman’ kicks off like a hurricane. Überkill have four chances to grab you by the ears and make you beg and listen, this is achieved less than a minute in, with Blackheart sounding as if he has all the tools of a future thoroughbred rock star. ‘Sex On A Leash’ picks up seamlessly and its like The Hives, crossed with ‘The Ramones’ and has a swagger that only a ‘cock-rock’ tune can do. ‘Feel So Good’ is more groove-laden than the rest and it shows the lads in full flow, full of confidence. ‘Just One Thing,’ has me wanting to rip thru my record collection, as it’s a ringer for something I cant put my finger on. One thing is certain, it has a blistering guitar solo that will have you reaching for your real or imaginary air guitar and I sware you will be pulling off windmills, and deep knee bends in no time.

A lot of bands EPs have songs that would never make the cut of an album. Well there’s no such issue here, all are destined to be parts of Überkill’s bright future. One thing is for certain, Überkill will have you singing into your hairbrush in no time, I'll guarantee it.

Their press release states – ‘We are Überkill and we play rock ‘n’ roll’. As far as Ronseal statements go, this one also has it on the tin.

Score 7/10

Serpentine - 'Circle Of Knives' Album Review

Serpenten anyone?

Anyone into melodic rock in the UK and beyond will have come across Serpentine at some point over the last five years. They started out life with a legend at the helm in Tony Mills (he of Shy and Siam). It was a difficult position to fill for Matt Black, but few singers could hold a candle to the high-pitched Mills, but Black was one such person. Matt jumped ship and is now part of Fahran, and original bassist Gareth Vanstone departed due to illness. Adam Payne (ex-Tidal) and Owen Crawford (Ex-Triaxis) have stepped into the fore respectively

This latest edition of Serpentine headed Oop North to record the album at Gary Hughes’ Doghouse Studio in Blackpool. Serpentine had originally lined up legend Neil Kernon to mix the album, but the sound wasn’t to be what the lads had envisaged, so Sheena Sear who had mixed Serpentines 2 albums, stepped back in to finalise the mix.

If you’re wondering if Gary Hughes has had an influence on proceedings then it’s an indefatigable ‘yes’. Opening track 'Season Of The Witch' sees Serpentine sonically being miles away from Mills pitch, and for me that’s a good sign indeed. If anything you almost have to pinch yourself as Payne has more of a passing comparison to Gary Hughes. Whether that’s the songwriting influence or some layered locals I can’t work out. Certainly it makes a collaboration worthwhile…SerpenTen anyone? Gone is the more AOR sounding style of previous, and in comes a harder melodic edge. 'La Tragedienne' typifies how good they are at songwriting, with a typical hooky chorus and strong riff. 'Forever' kicks you in the head with its punchy guitar riff showing how good a guitarist Chris Gould is, before stepping back for Payne’s vocals, and has Gary Hughes’ influence running through it like a stick of rock (it had to come in somewhere!). ‘The Hardest Fall’ sees Serpentine keep a high line with their tempo before letting it fall back for the slower ballad-type ‘Bleed’. It’s a track that highlights one of Serpentine’s strong points on ‘Circle…’, and that is Gareth Noon’s keyboard/piano playing, but what you also get is some excellent guitar soloing from Gould.

'Where Does Your Heart Beat Now', is a big slice of AOR, and is an example of a band playing at their very best. The fast and frenetic ‘Bound By The Strings Of Discord’ has Roy Millward playing out of his skins (pun intended!). The atmospheric 'Circle Of Knives' has a symphonic opus feel and could be a contender for any or the recent excellent Ten albums. If 6+ minutes passes like a pop single then you know you’re onto a good thing. I was going to say that Payne has a lot less of range than a lot of singers, and then up he pops for the final track 'Suicide Days'. It seems a slight segue to their usual stylings but one that still sounds good.

Serpentine have travelled a long and winding journey since their debut back in 2010. From the high-pitched eras of Mills and Black to the current and more controlled vocals of Payne, I’m sure there’s a lot more to come for these guys. Payne has acquitted himself particularly well into the fold, but for me the plaudits should go to Noon’s playing. All deserve a notable mention, but Noon just shades it.

Score 73/100

Serpentine are –

Chris Gould – Guitars
Gareth Noon – Keyboard
Roy Millward -  Drums
Adam Payne – Vocals
Owen Crawford – Bass

Tracklisting –

Season Of The Witch
La Tragedienne
The Hardest Fall
Where Does Your Heart Beat Now
Bound By The Strings Of Discord
Circle Of Knives
Such A Long way Down
Suicide Days

Monday 6 April 2015

Whitesnake - 'The Purple Album' review

A few years back I had a hankering to go see my first eve live experience again. That band is Whitesnake obviously; otherwise it would be in a different write-up. Supporting or should I say equal to Def Leppard on the bill at the Liverpool Arena, I had not seen such a poor gig since Schenker’s issue supporting the Scorps a couple of years earlier. Coverdale was poor at best. He redeemed himself more recently on the Journey bill in Manchester where a much improved (?) and hopefully not enhanced version was witnessed.

Over to Coverdale…“People have been asking me for many years to revisit Purple songs like ‘MISTREATED’ & ‘SOLDIER OF FORTUNE’ with WHITESNAKE, but I always felt like I should be writing new, fresh WHITESNAKE songs for the fans.”
“In 2012 I was told by a representative of the old PURPLE management that keyboard maestro Jon Lord, who had worked with me in WHITESNAKE, too, had been diagnosed in with cancer and that Jon’s wish on his recovery would be that we put together a PURPLE reunion of sorts. I agreed to be there for him. As we all know, sadly he didn’t recover. After Jon passed away, I felt it necessary to reach out to Ritchie Blackmore to express the grief at Jon’s loss and to hopefully bury any unpleasant hatchets we’d been throwing at other for decades. It was during our reconnect that we discussed the possibility of some kind of a PURPLE reunion or a ‘BLACKMORE/COVERDALE’ project. During the time we were talking, I started listening to our old albums and began working on ideas & new approaches to suggest, rearranging some of our original works.” Unfortunately, our ideas on the reunion aspect didn’t quite gel, so I respectfully withdrew from further discussions, though I am happy to say we did bury old animosities and we have thankfully stayed in touch.
It was Coverdale’s wife, Cindy who suggested that he take his ideas & make a new WHITESNAKE studio album celebrating his legacy from his time with DEEP PURPLE. “And that’s how it all happened. I discussed the idea with my musicians & our record company & everyone was very positive. So it was all systems go for ‘The PURPLE Album’.

In writing (in theory), a proposed reunion would have been awesome. Problem is, Ritchie Blackmore is too far into his mandolin-induced coma to snap out of it and do something worthwhile (some members of Rainbow have been trying for years).

I like the idea of revisiting old classics, but lets face it, THEY ARE CLASSICS! So why tamper with the evidence. I suppose if anyone has a right to cover these songs then it should be Coverdale. ‘Burn’ (the album) is my favourite of all the Purple albums, and my son has his orders to play ‘Burn’ (the song) at my cremation! Me and Mk3 (and a little bit of Mk4) Deep Purple go back a long way you see, so is it a loving recreation, a twist on classics, or an unmitigated disaster??

Thankfully it’s not a disaster, but its not exactly fantastic either. I suspect a lot of these songs will be wheeled out later in the year on the UK tour, and that for me alone will be a last chance to bask in Coverdale’s glory and legacy. The album though is a different proposition. When WS metalled up ‘Cryin In The Rain’ and ‘Here I Go Again’ I wasn’t over the moon initially. Yes they grew on me, but the originals outstripped the new pretty much as they do here today.

Burn is almost true to the original, thank God. Beach and Hoekstra combine to fill in the gaps that a twin guitar attack can do. Coverdale’s voice is slightly whiney, but lets be clear here, the bloke is well into his 60s. The Glenn Hughes vocals are obviously missing, but you don’t realize that much to be fair.  The opening few bars of ‘You Fool No One’ (slightly apt) sound as if it’s being covered by Blackfoot. ‘Love Child’ is almost wrong to cover. The vocals are somewhat strained, in part feels like Barry Gibb is covering the song. As I suspected from recent gigs that Coverdale’s vocals are best served on the lower register songs – ‘Sail Away’ & ‘Soldier Of Fortune’ show that the great man can still kick it. ‘Sail Away’ in particular has a nice slant on the original, a stripped back acoustical version which very much suits the 21st Century version of Coverdale and Whitesnake. He doesn’t go for the screaming of the original, keeping it held back and restrained and is a pleasant surprise. ‘The Gypsy’ is one of the best on the album, and the sound is superb, doesn’t star too far from the ‘Stormbringer’ original. This song alone justifies the re-working, its that good. 

Where The Gypsy represents one of the strongest songs, Lady Double Dealer does the opposite. Then there’s the biggie…’Mistreated’. The song musically is very good. I love the original, the Rainbow version with Dio was stunning, and the Live In The Heart Of The City version is great, but the vocals on the 2015 version are a long way from the original. Coverdale even tackles the Hughes sung ‘Holy Man’. Glenn Hughes could most likely sing this better than the original, so Coverdale’s a brave man for taking on the one of the other big voices of rock. Similarly to ‘The Gypsy’, DC goes for a more acoustic version, before it builds very nicely and to be fair, is another cracking version – one I didn’t expect. ‘ Might Just Take Your Like’ takes on a southern blues style with slide geetar, and when Coverdale doesn’t try to do ‘Still of the Night’ with his voice, is where these songs work best. ‘You Keep On Moving’ is a song that without Hughes, he will always struggle, but the Hughes part is actually filled in nicely – good job done by all methinks. ‘Lay Down, Stay Down’ is another favourite from Burn and sees Coverdale handle all the Hughes parts as well (mostly) and it’s a decent effort. Finally we get to the other biggie, ‘Stormbringer’. This has Coverdale sounding probably as better as he has in years and is a truly fitting way to conclude The Purple Album

Now if Glenn Hughes had been asked to contribute, this would have been a different outcome I suspect…? I think I’m being too critical based purely on where the originals sit with me. Then again, if you’re going to cover classic songs then be prepared for some criticism. Its not all bad, its not all great either.

I’ll leave the final word for Coverdale….“There was absolutely no intention to compete, or compare with the original recordings. We just wanted to play these songs the best we could and this is how we wanted to play them,“ says Coverdale.

Do you know what, he’s 100% spot on. I just hope I can afford the money for the tour in Dec as its not cheap!

Score – 75/100

Whitesnake are -

David Coverdale
Reb Beach – Guitars
Joel Hoekstra – Guitars
Michael Devin – Bass
Tommy Aldridge – Drums

Tracklisting - 

You Fool No One
Love Child
Sail Away
The Gypsy
Lady Double Dealer
Holy Man
Might Just Take Your Life
You Keep On Moving
Soldier Of Fortune
Lay Down, Stay Down

Friday 3 April 2015

Romeo's Daughter - 'Spin' Album Review


For every ten bands that have reformed from the 80s era, nine of them have probably been an unmitigated waste of space and time. Few from this ‘83-‘93 period have continued to make a valuable contribution or taken their music forward, rather than backwards or stagnant. One such band that is constantly striving for the best music that they can produce is Romeos Daughter. After their first two albums became staples and highly sought after albums of the melodic rock scene, their reformation was both a surprise and more importantly an undoubted feature with their return to form ‘Rapture’ back in 2012.

The nucleus of the band is still here 27 years down the line with the strings being pulled by the vastly underrated Craig Joiner, sultry Leigh Matty, and rhythm pounders of the highest order in Andy Wells and Ed Poole.

Opening track ‘Touch’ got an airing at the recent HRH AOR 3 festival, and starts off with Leigh Matty’s sultry and sensual vocals. Joiners guitar chugs along underneath before a bridge and chorus that hits all the right places and becomes an instant Romeos Daughter classic and is up there with their very best work.  ‘Already Gone’ is one of those songs that doesn’t make that much of an impression on the first listen, but after a few spins (sorry) its one damn-intoxicating tune. ‘Love Will Come’ has a delicate beginning that builds up to be a powerful ballad. ‘Enemy’ is a track that has one of its feet firmly planted in the 1980’s and sounds the kind of song that would have been used to make a mark in a John Hughes film. ‘Didn’t See You Coming’ sees Romeos Daughter reach for a lighter side of their repertoire, and must be a target for radio play in the near future. Talking of ‘Radio’, this is another that received a debut outing at the recent HRH AOR gig, and immediately hits the spot. A huge chorus that has to be heard live as this version is excellent, but the live version is stunning. Joiners ear for what makes a song is exemplary. He is one of the finest composers out there, and I feel he puts everything he has into each individual song. ‘Perfect Plan’ must be one of the songs written for Spin as it seems to have been around for a couple of years now. When songs are written so early before an alum is released its easy for then to be dropped. ‘Perfect Plan’ has the right mix of power and a chorus that a couple of years later still has the chops to be included. ‘Tall Buildings’ finishes off Spin rather nicely. Joiners playing isn’t pushed to the front, it sits amongst the vocals like an additional harmony, until the solo that is, as he give it some, and then some more! Save (one of) the best until last rings true here.

This isn’t an album that should just be targeted at the AOR/melodic rock brigade, as Spin has a style and substance that anyone with a love for radio friendly pop rock would enjoy. Romeos daughter have a knack of writing songs that are infectious, and every one on Spin is a delight. There some up-tempo rockers, to the more demure and lighter numbers that make up a wonderful contrast. What are you doing wasting your time reading this for, just go out and buy the bloody thing, it’s marvelous. Not only that, its up there with their best work

Catch Romeo’s Daughter on tour with FM in May - www.romeosdaughter.co.uk/tour.php

Score -  93/100

Tracklisting - 
Already Gone
Love Will Come
Didn't See You Coming 
All because Of You
Perfect Plan
Tall Buildings