- 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!!!
Thursday, 20 October 2016
FM – Indiscreet
I’ve taken a revised tune on this, as my I-30 album arrived yesterday and it sounds volumes better on CD than a streamed version. Because of a few knob heads, the ‘many’ have to put up with streamed versions of an artistes blood, sweat and tears to review!
Thirty years have passed (yes, you heard me, THIRTY!) since FM released their most beloved (and debut) album Indiscreet. Apparently they have been asked many times in the past about re-recording their classic album, and that day is now here. From my very early days in seeing them on the 'Tough It Out' tour, I have always said that some of these songs sound under-produced, especially when some of the live versions had a certain amount of ‘welly’ to them especially as it lacked some of the ‘punch’ that was being achieved on albums coming from the other side of the Atlantic.
So I stepped forward with little bit of (dreaded?) anticipation of what they have done. Why mess with their definitive album? Well, for one, modern techniques should put the expansive sound in, and it’s also quite cheap to re-record what FM would have spent a small fortune on with Portrait back in 86. FM have been playing most of this album live for the last 30 years, so the recording should be a relatively easy and the songs well worn in.
Apparently the seed was sown whilst recording the follow up to Heroes & Villains, where they decided to put down a backing track to ‘That Girl’ to see how it would sound with the apparent huge sounds they were achieving. It gave the song a new dynamic that was not possible in the 80s. This is what has led them to give these classic songs a new lease of life. Thankfully, FM themselves realize that they cant just re-create the original which is sacred in many of the eyes and ears of their faithful fans. Basically, it’s the 2016 FM (still brilliant) with the sound capability of 2016.
You’ll be please to know that Merv didn’t dig out the DeLorean and reclaim his Alec Guinness ‘white suit’ from the That Girl video, or pink (!) jump suit, and thankfully, Steve and Pete shaved off their mullets a few years back.
2016 paints a different picture. The line up is now very well established with Jim Kirkpatrick on guitar, who has given FM a fresh new injection of energy, and, youthfulness to the FM repertoire. However, I personally think that none of this would not be at all possible if it weren’t for one thing – that ‘thing’ being Steve Overland’s voice. It’s as good today as it was back in the mid 80s when I heard Wildlife. Very few singers still have ‘the voice’ they had 30 years ago, but SO is one of them.
After just one quick listen, nothing much has been changed, subtle differences, the odd slight intro difference, but mainly the solos, bridges and general excellence of Indiscreet have remained on ‘I-30’. ‘That Girl’ is a classic, both then and now. Where the original lacked some polish, the new version has been polished to within an inch of its like, sounding full and vibrant. , ‘Love Lies Dying’ has a new added guitar solo, and only ‘Hot Wired’ fell a little short for me. The ‘reasons to buy’ column for me come in the shape of ‘The Other Side Of Midnight’, which is punchy and polished and a proper kick in the nuts, ‘American Girls’, a song that should have catapulted them to the US market is fresh as a daisy, and ‘I Belong To The Night’ has some added depth and bass. Also the last three – ‘Face To Face’, ‘Frozen Heart’ and ‘Heart Of The Matter’ further add weight to the whole concept. The changes are small, there some added nuances in Jim Kirkpatrick’s guitar playing, and some of the vocals, but not too much that you can really notice. Subtlety is good!
Seven bonus tracks round out ‘I-30’, and the ‘biggie’ and real bonus for me is a song that never made it onto Indiscreet, but is of that era, and they have pulled out an absolutely storming version of ‘Let Love Be The Leader’. Also FM have recorded a brand new song for this, and that is ‘Running On Empty’ a now typical 21st century FM type song, an upbeat and all round feel good track that FM fans will lap up. ‘Shot In The Dark’ is the song that made its way to Ozzy via Phil Soussan (and he no doubt made a shit-load on the back of it) and this gives a feel for the alternate (but equally enthralling) FM version had it have been recorded in this style at the time. The final track ‘That Girl’ (Acoustic) is one of the best covers they have ever done, very soulful and is a personal fave of closet FM fan, Mrs. Chesworth.
There may be a few ‘naysayers’ proclaiming that FM shouldn’t have re-done it, but I for one am very happy, as some of these songs sound fresh and lively as they did when I first heard them on cassette, only now with added ‘oomph ‘ where it belongs.
Indiscreet 30 isn’t pointless. The songs have been given the love, care and attention they deserve with a more ‘modern’ sound and twist, and ‘I30’ sits perfectly as a companion piece to the original. I can’t give it more praise than that.
What started out as trepidation and caution, ended in praise and jubilation.
Steve Overland – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Merv Goldsworthy – Bass, Backing Vocals
Pete Jupp – Drums, Backing Vocals
Jem Davis – Keyboards
Jim Kirkpatrick – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals
Other Side Of Midnight
Love Lies Dying
I Belong To The Night
Face To Face
Heart Of The Matter
Let Love Be The leader
Running On Empty
Shot In The Dark
Bad That’s Good In You
Love And Hate
That Girl (Acoustic Version)
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Blimey! where do you begin with four double albums of live Saxon to go at? You play them in chronological order and then shake your head at the breadth of a career spanning decades.
Let’s face it not everyone can be Iron Maiden but if anyone could have been Saxon surely fits that bill. A lifetime of metal, still going strong long after most of their contemporaries have hung up their spandex, Saxon proudly play their music and drive the audience onward with stirring choruses to sing along to whilst banging your head. Excellent.
This release consists of a nice box with four double albums inside, the records are pressed in 180g gold vinyl (yes gold) and you get that nice gatefold feeling with lots of archive pictures from tours past printed on them.
These are all live albums from different tours; ‘The dogs of war tour’ 1995 which has a great warm sound to it. ‘The lionheart tour’ 2004 which does not, it isn’t bad but it has been a little over produced; maybe to fix some sound issue, and this has left it with a rather flat sound, not terrible but lacking slightly in the ‘live’ feeling.
Next up is ‘A night out with the boys tour’ 2005 which is back to having a great big sound, so if you don’t like the version of Crusader on the 2004 recording you can listen to a much better one on the 2005 recording as several songs repeat over the albums. Lastly we have ‘Rocksound festival’ 2006, Crusader is on here and the 1995 tour too, take your pick.
Now let’s face it if you’re interested in this you’re a diehard completest fan and are probably going to get a copy whatever I say. These recordings are already available in different formats and have been for years so this is aimed squarely at the person who just wants the vinyl to feel, smell, look at on a strange angle near the window checking for imperfections and lovingly place on his deck like a sacrificial offering and doesn’t mind the cost, which is a lot.
Saxon are a British treasure and listening to these recording gives you a feeling of pride that they come from our shores. If you’re into your vinyl and have the cash, you won’t be disappointed.
1. “The Dogs Of War Tour, 1995”
Recorded on tour in Germany
Featuring: Dogs Of War, Denim And Leather, Wheels Of Steel
2. “The Lionheart Tour, 2004”
Recorded on tour in France, England and Germany
Featuring: Lionheart, Court Of The Crimson King, Are We Travellers In Time
3. “A Night Out With The Boys, 2005: The 25th Anniversary of the NWOBHM”
Recorded on tour in Germany and Sweden
Featuring: And The Bands Played On, Suzie Hold On, Stand Up And Be Counted
4. “Rocksound Festival, 2006”
Recorded in Switzerland
Featuring: Backs To The Wall, Princess Of The Night, Crusader
Thursday, 13 October 2016
Hardline – Human Nature
Hardline are one of those bands that passed me by initially. You see, I was a massive fan of melodic rock / hair metal / AOR, and then the check flannel shirt brigade came in and fucked it all up for me. Pretty much for about 5 years. I didn’t stay true to the bands / music that I loved, I just wallowed in my pit of despair, just listening to everything pretty much from the previous 25 years. Unless a band that managed to survive (Queensryche / Dio / etc) only then did I keep up with their output. There was a whole host of bands like Unruly Child, Signal and Hardline that hit the street without me realizing. I eventually returned came to the party in the late 90s. Hardline’s debut, even though it was 92, is about 9 years younger than it actually is to me! What an album that was, and still is.
Onto Hardline, and Johnny Gioeli is the only original member still driving the hardline bust forward into the future. ‘Human Nature’ sees Josh Ramos to return to the fold and its definitely made a difference. The Italian connection still holds true from 21012s Danger Zone, with Anna Portalupi (Bass), Francesco Jovino (drums) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (keyboards, BVs, Producer, and all round good guy to boot)
Immediately the album begins as if someone has flicked a Nitrous switch or Boost button, as Human Nature definitely has a harder edge than recent albums. Its more powerful, but still retains its melody, proving you can have both without compromise. This is clearly seen and heard on ‘Where Will We Go From Here’; ‘Running On Empty’; the storming ‘The World Is Falling Down’; and is to be a sure-fire hit live, ‘In The Dead Of Night’ which is one of Hardline’s heaviest songs ever thanks to Ramos’ ear for a killer riff; and the anthemic ‘Fighting The Battle’.
Interspersed throughout all of this is a fine ballad, ‘Take You Home’, some typical Hardline melodic rock in the title track ‘Human Nature’, and a superb bluesy/ soulful song called ‘Trapped In Muddy Water’.
One thing is for sure, and its that Hardline, with the Italian contingent are finding their feet, and could be a force to reckon with in the future. ‘Human Nature’ will never beat the debut, but it’s easily their second best album, and a contender for a Top 10 spot come the end of the year. I have to say that I wasn’t expecting this quality from Hardline. Its not just a filler for Frontiers, its one of Frontiers finest in 2016. Highly recommended.
Where Will We Go From Here
Trapped In Muddy Waters
Running On Empty
The World Is Falling Down
Take You Home
Where The North Wind Blows
In The Dead Of The Night
United We Stand
Fighting The Battle
Johnny Gioeli – Lead Vocals
Josh Ramos – Guitar
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keys, BVs
Anna Portalupi – Bass
Francesco Jovino - Drums
Friday, 7 October 2016
Alter Bridge – The Last Hero
The Chesworth family has been praying at the Alter (Bridge) since 2004. We were on our holidays listening to local rock station WJRR and they played an Alter Bridge track. We were hooked like a salmon in a Bass Pro Shop. Since then we have watched them many, many times and seen them grow and develop into the behemoth that they are in 2016.
It’s a singular family event for us as its probably one of the few bands that unites us all. I say that as 2 x 49 yr olds, and the kids at 24 and 21. Not many bands expand across generations in this day and age.
Its been a long three years since the skull pounding ‘Fortress’ was released, and the anticipation levels have been measured only on critical scales such as DEFCON & RICHTER in our household. My personal Alter Bridge pinnacle is Blackbird, a modern day classic and it’s up there with the likes of ‘Heaven & Hell’ as far as I’m concerned. Is ‘The Last Hero’ a worthy contender….?
Without getting too technical, ‘The Last Hero’ is definitely ‘Alter Bridge-y!’ Opening track ‘Show Me A leader’ starts off with what could be the opening to anything (could it go either way? A ballad, or a rip-snorter of a song). Thankfully it’s the latter, and its probably the best opening song on any Alter Bridge album to date. (awaits for abuse to come in). Mark Tremonti pulls riffs out of his ass like a magician would with white rabbits! It has a riff that Angus would swap Axl for, and with its FM friendly chorus, its pure joy! In Myles Kennedy they have unearthed the best vocalist this side of Ronnie James Dio in my opinion. He adds a 4th dimension as his voice is an extra instrument, hitting notes that few others could do without getting their balls trapped in a car door. But…..if you think its all the ‘Myles n Mark’ show, you’re wrongly mistaken. Driving the rock bus to their destination are the gruesome twosome of pulsating rhythm – Brian Marshall’s throbbing, powerful bass lines, and the Prince of Pound, Scott Phillips.
‘Writing On The Wall’ to coin a phrase, is ’Heavy as Fuck!’ and mixes up its neo-classicism with a melodic chorus, and epitomizes what Alter Bridge do best. ‘ The Other Side’ almost lulls you into a false sense of security before its Sabbath-esque riff. Think Slayer covering Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. ‘My Champion’ is an uplifting and positive song; when knocked down, just dust yourself off and get back up again, and is as near to mainstream as Alter Bridge ever get.
A couple of tracks (Poison In Your Veins & Crows On A Wire) don’t quite live up to the usual Alter Bridge ‘Acme’ (the name you can trust) high standard. Alter Bridge have a voice and have something to say with ‘The Last Hero’. None more so than on ‘You Will Be Remembered’. A song that I’m positive that will be picked up with their troops back home. It’s also the kind of now trademarked ‘funeral service’ song (Watch Over You) that they are now known for. ‘This Side Of Fate’ and ‘Twilight’ certainly hark back to the very early days of Alter Bridge. ‘Island of Fools’ has a huge chorus that really highlights Kennedy’s vocal prowess. Finally we are into the title track; it talks about ‘the fight’ and asks if we have lost our last hero, leaving the listener gasping for breath and wanting more, finishing on a high.
Five albums and twelve years into Alter Bridge and they still have a lot to say. Hopefully we will see another twelve out of them. Once again, Mike ‘Elvis’ Baskette has produced the ass out of the album, In fact the production is slicker than a Castrol (UK) / Pennzoil (US) factory.
Its not their best album for me, but its still an excellent example on powerful and melodic metal. In a world of average bands, Alter Bridge is one that soars high above the mediocre. If they don’t headline Download within the next two years then something is seriously wrong!
Alter Bridge aren’t musicians, they are alchemists, turning metal into gold!
Score - 9/10
Show Me A Leader
The Writing On The Wall
The Other Side
Poison In Your Veins
Cradle To The Grave
This Side of Fate
You Will Be Remembered
Crows On A Wire
Island Of Fools
The Last Hero
Last Of Our Kind (Bonus)