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!!!

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

The Treatment - 'Power Crazy' Album Review

The Treatment – Power Crazy

I was a fan back in the early days of this band, seeing them supporting (and demolish) their headline act at the time who was Thin Lizzy. For some strange reason I parted ways with them not long after their second album, only to come around full circle again after seeing them in Rebellion last year with Dhani Mansworth’s dads band, Airrace in support (emphasis on ‘ace!’). The catalyst for this change was down to (recent) new vocalist Tom Rampton. He had more style and swagger, was a pretty good front man, and most importantly, the bloke could sing. Here we are, at album number four, ‘Power Crazy’ and I wanted to see if the live show energy is represented and transferred onto an album…

The guys have taken the basic ingredients of bands such as AC/DC, Rose Tattoo, Accept and Krokus, (if you’re in the 30 and under age group you may need to ask your dad about Krokus, Rose Tattoo and Accept), and mix simple but splintering riffs, with more than a splash of melody – and opening track ‘Let’s Get Dirty’ is a prime example of this recipe. Its instantly headbang-able, and worm planted in your lug’oles for instant repeat and gratification. ‘Rising Power’ is similarly based, but with a bit more speed and tempo. ’On The Money’ is bluesier, and could be a ZZ Top song in any other life. With a song like ‘Bite Back’ you don’t need to delve into your thesaurus to get to know that the song is going to have punch, and er…..bite! The immediate impact that Rampton has given The Treatment is hard to deny, as rasp and pitch to his vocals that make a match made in heaven. He is even elevating what could be an average song for anyone else, but in their hands, as song like ‘Luck Of The Draw’ rises like cream.

‘Hang Them High’ (watch the video above, its proper old skool), shows the lads taking on the best and winning. Fast, frenetic, dirty - it ticks a lot of boxes – and AC/DC could only dream of a song like this at their age! ‘Scar With Her Name’ riff reminds me a bit of Andy Taylors ‘I Might Lie’, but I’m probably writing shite as usual. ‘King Of the City’ should be on the next GTA -  its just me kind of music to run someone over in! ‘Waiting For The Call’ takes a step back, and goes for the slower, but non-less effective approach. ‘Laying It Down’ is full on in yer face, and expect it to be a live addition. ’The Fighting Song’ encapsulates all that is good about The Treatment; bluesy, hard and gritty. Closer ‘Falling Down’ is in more of a classic rock style if Quo and Rainbow got together for a session. The album also has a bonus of an acoustic version of  ‘Bite Back’. The vocals are pretty much the same as the fully powered 240V version, when I was expecting a little more subtlety.

The Treatment have laid their collective hearts on the line to bring you ‘Power Crazy’. It’s the best I’ve heard them sound. They have always been very good, but its now their time to shine.

It’s not difficult to emulate bands like AC/DC, but very few bands can do it as well as them. The Treatment have the craft, age, and experience on their side. If you think this is good, well, they are only just hitting their stride….

Should AC/DC do a final flurry of a tour, I can think of no better band to support them (and to push and cajole a performance out of them)

The Treatment? Its just what the Doctor ordered!


The Treatment -
Tom Rampton – Vocals
Tagore Grey – Guitar
Tao Grey – Guitar
Dhani Mansworth – Drums
Rick Newman - Bass

Tracklisting -
Rising Power
On The Money
Bite Back
Luck Of The Draw
Hang Them High
Scar With Her Name
King Of The City
Waiting For The Call
Laying It Down
The Fighting Song
Falling Down

Released 22nd March 2019

The End Machine - 'ST' Album review

The End Machine

Between 1986 and 1990 I would like to think that I was Dokken’s biggest fan in Rhostyllen. Big words, eh? Fuck that, I was Dokken’s biggest fan in Wrexham, and I still am. That said, I don’t like Dons voice anymore, because its fucked. However, I still love that golden period from 83-89 where they were metal Gods!

In about 1987 I ditched my weekly fix of ‘Roy Of The Rovers’ and ‘Scoop’ and got my dad to subscribe (at a Wrexham newsagents) to ‘Hit Parader’, in the main hope of getting more of my Dokken fix that ‘Kerrang!’ and ‘Sounds’ could no longer feed. It was an expensive mag, and it was shite in comparison, but it felt cool to say I got a copy. Basically HP was like reading the transcript to Kramer vs Kramer. Don and George hated each other so much, I felt like the kid in the middle. Its continued on and off to this very day.

I’ve followed all the guys exploits since, from Lynch Mob, to T&N, the corporate version of Foreigner, KXM, Sweet & Lynch and Ultraphonix to name but a few of the Dokken Family Tree Branches. When news appeared about The End Machine, I have to admit that I let out a little wee. Lynch, Pilson and Brown were coming out with a new album that would feature the excellent pipes of (Ex-Lynch Mob, and current Warrant vocalist, Robert Mason) What is not to like? Well, thankfully nothing. But its not close to an album like ‘Under Lock And Key’ (not much is though to be honest with ya!)

Thanks to Frontiers Don, Serafino Perugino, bands like this would not exist in 2019 if it were not down to love and enthusiasm for 80s AOR and Hair Metal. He has revived more 80s careers than Stormy Daniels has revived flaccid cocks!

‘Leap Of Faith is more Lynch-ken than Dok-Mob. Its ‘Dysfuctional’ era Dokken only with Lynch Mob playing all the song. Mason sounds pretty great to be honest and gives the song an added lift. ‘Hold Me Down’ has all the hallmark of any of these guys previous, crunching riffs, Pilson and Brown harmonies and Lynch letting rip like only Lynch can. ‘No Game’ is classic 80-s metal, and I can see the video, recorded in the middle of a desert with helicopters and lost of posturing! ‘Bulletproof’ has anthem written all over it and Lynch’s guitar work takes me back 30-plus years! ‘Ride It’ and ‘Hard Road’ are standard fare really, but the stripped back cowboy sound of ‘Burn The Truth’ is more on the mark. ‘Alive Today’ is back on point and had a cool riff, and above average chorus, and a thunderous Pilson bass groove, making it one the best so far. ‘Line Of Division’ could easily draw comparisons to the first Lynch Mob album. ‘Sleeping Voices’ chorus is powerful and with everything thrown into it. Its both the longest and best song on the album by far as it builds to a crescendo. ‘Life Is Love Is Music’ keeps the album on a strong finish.

If it’s a replacement Dokken album you’re looking for, it’s clearly not that, although many comparisons will be drawn across the world. Mason has a great voice still, and Lynch has lost none of his ability (he is my second fave guitarist only to Ritchie Blackmore). The harmonies are what I expect from this talented bunch. Put it this way, its way better than any Dokken album you have heard in the past few years, and what’s to come. It stands clearly on its own, which I suspect its exactly what they wanted.


The End Machine –
Robert Mason – Vocals
Jeff Pilson – Bass
George Lynch – Guitar
Mick Brown – Drums

Released March 22nd 2019


Leap Of Faith
Hold Me Down
No Game
Ride It
Burn The Truth
Hard Road
Alive Today
Line Of Division
Sleeping Voices
Life Is Love Is Music

Highlighted tracks

Monday, 18 March 2019

HRH AOR VII - Saturday 16th March 2019, Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn

HRH VII - Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn. Saturday 16th March

After the Friday shows, I think we acclimatised to Saturday much better. There seemed fewer people around, I didn’t witness queuing, but that bloke who smelt of piss was still following me around!

Saturday or as I prefer to call it, MSM (military style metal) as its an endurance in standing, and is like a cult meeting/conversion all rolled into one. You come out the end of it a new person’ and with feet like a ballet dancer - fucked!
Those who decided to stay away, or were hungover, or waiting Wales win the Grand Slam (Get in!),  they missed some belters…..

Psycho Kiss were on the bill back in '15, and left me a bit underwhelmed back then.
This time though they got their act together and were not going to let a second chance on the big stage go begging. In this PC world I’m not sure I can say if Helen Ceri Clark had a set of lungs on her, but hey, I'm 52 and not going to change any day soon. She commanded the stage with a lot of energy (she had to as the others up front were as active as mannequins) and her raspy wail was a huge bonus. They started off well, and just got a better response after each and every song, and even got a loud ‘awwww’ when they announced their last song. A definite improvement on their last showing. Highlights were ‘No Good Pretending’, ‘Grieve For You’ and ‘Home’. And a few songs about drinking! Great start.

I had seen some clips of  Saints Of Sin and was expecting something good. What I wasn’t expecting was how fucking good they actually were. They completely shattered my expectations. In a world of cheap imitations,  they were the real deal in fact. They were immediately accepted by the big crowd; they had the looks, energy, were polished and even well choreographed. SoS therefore were not going to take any prisoners. Vocalist Rui Brito could be Gary Cherone visually, but he was his own singer. Confident, with a great voice and even greater stage presence, this guy fucking rocked, as did all of Saints Of Sin. The twin guitar attack of Sophie Burrell and Marcus Sparxx Jenkins was a joy to watch. With bassist Ashley Jenkins adding in harmonies with Burrell and the other Jenkins I was completely sold. Kudos as well to Josh Rose to keep everything hammering along. Oh, and the songs were fab! These guys deserve to go far. My only doubt is they very few bands make any money out of being a hair metal band, but hey, these guys are heroes in my mind for pushing this brand. Closer '21 Shots' is a belting new track that could catapult them. 'Heart Attack', 'Feed The Fire', it was blam, blam blam! Those who were still hungover missed the band of the day for me  ( didn’t need to see anyone else Sat to confirm this), as they levelled Stage 1. What. A. Band.

Daylight Robbery announced that they were a singer short in Tony Nicholl for HRH,
and just posted a pic of a four piece only last week leading up to HRH. We were speculating who was going to sing. Mr Fluffy had his money on the bassist  (Colin Murdoch), me the guitarist (Mark Carleton). We were both right (yay) and also pleasantly surprised as they both alternated lines and shared vocals. To say they were a Poundland Coverdale/Hughes would be rude, but no pair can match these two, so I’ll settle on John Lewis instead. In fact with these two in charge, they upped their game and the songs were fresh and strong. The new dynamic made for a stronger set, even though it was probably similar  to the last time. Any band that has harmonies, uses his whammy bar and has a Hammond organ sound gets my vote!! ‘Digital Preacher’ made me prick up my ears, due to the surprise of vocals from both fellas, and the usual suspect of ‘Samara Never Sleeps’ gets the biggest cheer.

Kane’d are now seasoned professionals at HRH and the crowd had built in anticipation
for them.  I don’t know why there was a lot of blokes in the audience - Im guessing they are fans of triple vocals/harmonies.  Someone else stated perverts! The first time I saw Kane’d I was blown away, the second, not so much. However, three times the charm is the saying I’m searching for, because in Kane sisters Steph, Chez and Stacy, they are three strong, powerful women who can pretty much sing anything! They have been hard at it on the road the past few years and its now showing in their confident performance. With the recent new album, they now have additional material that adds to an already good set of songs. I only caught part of their set, but the likes of lively opener ‘Show Me Your Skeleton’, the fab ‘Guilty Of Nothin’’, and the infectious ‘La Di Da’ they went down a storm. Da Iawn.

I ambled over to catch  Blood Red Saints, also known as ‘TBA’ to see a masterclass in both stand up comedy and 80s rock! Thankfully Pete McIntyre didn’t go on about his ‘man drawer’ and settled in belting out some cracking tunes. ‘Freak’ is a Nickleback sound for BRS, new song ‘Cross To Bare’ from their critically slammed album is a belter. I like the heavier stuff! Godfrey went into the crowd and used the 80s ego ramp (fuck know what it is actually there for!) and dedicated ‘Unbreakable’ to a friend a lot of us know who had some bad news dealt on Friday. This moment would make him and his friends very proud. They did a Steel Panther for ‘Message to God’ where Godfrey shouts out a number and the band play that note, first ‘5 times’ and then ’23’ and was nailed to the incredulity of the crowd and Godfrey! With songs like ‘Dangerous’, I’m Your Devil’, and closer ‘Better Days’ BRS are one of the few actual AOR bands to play HRH AOR. Considering they were a late announcement, their set was bloody brilliant. I’m just glad they weren’t The Quireboys! Next year give them a higher slot as they thoroughly deserve it.

In any other era, but most likely the 1980s, Rob Wylde would have been a rock god. A couple of years back, his Teenage Casket Company had one the sets of the weekend, and in Midnite City they were not going to let an opportunity like this slip either. In Josh Williams, Shawn Charvette, and Pete Newdeck, the combination of harmonies and backing vocals are off the scale! With Miles Meakin that have a guitarist who can play anything. Rob prances around with intent, but not too far away from his stage fan (A Harmony hairspray endorsement is on it way!) and shows he is a consummate front man. It’s very easy to look the part, but Midnite City actually sound the part, and like Vega, their songs are perfect for a festival crowd and are both anthemic and powerful. I get the impression that everything is planned, from the outfits, the hair, and more importantly their stellar performances. There is nothing wrong with planning, as it pays dividends when you want to stand out above all others, and they certainly did so today. ‘Here Comes The Party’ is a cracking opener, and with huge songs like ‘One Step Away’, ‘Summer Of Our Lives’, ‘Life Aint Like This On The Radio’ and ‘Give Me Love’, Midnite City gave one of the performances of the day. These guys should be huge I tell ya, HUGE!

The Electric Boys were the Ronseal band of the day, as in, you know exactly what it
says on the tin, lots of groove laden songs, and in Conny Bloom, a singer who is a rock star from head to toe. Some thirty odd years down the line, he still sounds (and looks), great. If you didn’t think they had enough groove for ‘Groovus Maximus,’ they actually dialled up the groove for Electrified. Their RSD song ‘Gone, Gone, Gone’ was more straight down the line rock, and was a great song. More like this please to liven up the set. The highlight for me was the obvious ‘All Hips and Lips’ a true classic and was the song that most wanted, and expected as a closer. They were good, but it was all very similar.

I arrived half way into the set for Pretty Boy Floyd and I was wondering what the noise was. A wail that can only be described as Jizzy Pearl on helium, whilst being kicked in the bollox at the same time welcomed me, and it was downhill from there for me. Mr Fluffy thought they were awesome, but I though the polar opposite. Steve ‘Sex’ Summers (yeah) talked way too much for my liking, and drew a few comments from around me to ‘get on with it you twat). I suppose this is a plus point, as it meant less singing (screaming) for me. He stated that ‘ we are trying to keep sleaze metal alive’. I thought he is going a long way to killing it off altogether.

The term ‘legend’ is used way too frequently, but in Ted ‘call me Ted’ Poley, the ‘legend’ term is justified. His credentials are second to none, he engages with the crowd, a lot to be honest, to the point where he just wants to be with his people and it makes for a great gig. By ‘Out Of Control’, Ted was on fire, and it wasn’t just his piss that was burning!! Thankfully his stone passed the day before and made for a nice bit of medical history and a good laugh. Little Ted is now fully operational! With Degreed as his band, they were great, and with songs from his solo career, Tokyo Motor Fist and Danger Danger, all basses were covered. For me, it was the Danger Danger songs that were the best - 'Bang Bang', 'Under The Gun', 'Crazy Nites', 'Monkey Business', and the awesome singalong encore of 'I Still Think About You'. The guy is absolutely genuine in his love for his audience, and that love is paid back ten-fold. Ted is King! Please don't retire in three years time while you still have so much to give!

Heavy Pettin’ were on stage 2 to close out the festival. HRH need kicking in the bollox
for putting them on there as they are a bonafide nailed down certainty for the main stage. In my eyes, they should have been in place of Pretty Boy Floyd as they have a set of songs that deserve a packed audience. It’s only Hamie and Bonnar from the 80s, but the new guys (especially Dave Aitken) add some punch to an already great band. I never saw them back in the 80s but was a big fan, and after tonight's performance even more so. The stage is a bit crowded for the five of them but that leads to numerous opportunities for the guys to jump off the stage and milk the crowd for its worth. ‘Love Times Love’, In And Out Of Love’, ‘Break It Down’ and ‘Rock Me’ are massive, and you somewhat forget how great a set of songs Heavy Pettin’ have to fall on. The inclusion of ‘Soul Survivor’ was as big for me as UFO playing ‘Making Moves’ so I was extremely happy. Hamie does not has his ‘yip’ at the end of his lines anymore, but if anything, he is all the better for it. I am just glad that Heavy Pettin’ are back! If you enjoyed Burnt Out Wrecks version of ‘Rock Aint Dead’, Hamie, Bonnar et al showed how it should really be done. If you didn’t catch them, you missed a huge performance. What a way to finish the Saturday…….

Sunday, 17 March 2019

HRH AOR VII - Friday 15th March 2019, Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn

HRH VII - Presthaven Sands, Prestatyn - Friday 15th March

HRH AOR moved to a one-off temporary home at Prestatyn, prior to its new 2020 home in Great Yarmouth. Talking with friends and punters the feeling of the venue was not a great one. The main stage room being smaller, and the poor bastards who had forked out for VIP and Royalty tickets were on the side of a flat venue meaning those who wanted to sit, had to stand, and some were positioned stage right and had a lovely view of the PA!

The main stage room was smaller than Pwllheli, and I couldn’t quite work out if there was a bloke following me all day who smelt of piss, or the venue, or possibly me. Asking my colleague I received a reassuring nod that the room was the culprit. Phew

Gripes aside, the event seemed well run, better than usual. With security and staff in abundance to assist.

However, a bit of a faff getting to the right place for check-in caused us to miss the first 2 songs of EPIC. These guys deserved a shot at the main room from their debut in front of a much smaller crowd a couple of years back. Arriving to ‘Save A Little Love’, Epic were in full swing. The reception was good, and that made me good as I've been routing for these guys for a couple of years now. Tanya Rizkala announced a song that we would all know, Whitesnakes ‘Here I Go Again’, a classic rock song that would ask questions of any singer. Rizkala nailed the last Coverdale note and I knew then that they would be accepted and the resulting cheer confirmed this. Epic added Josh Williams of Midnite City and I noticed an immediate improvement from 2 yrs ago. Josh’s BVs lift Epic considerably, and having a foil like this is something that is missed when not there. Just ask Van Halen! Epic's classic rock vibe continued with a new track ‘Face The Storm’ which was a rousing power ballad, before their dirty, sexy ‘Na Na Na’. The mix of Rizkala raspy, sultry vocals fits well with hubby Mario Agostine's accomplished guitar. They finished high on another cover, this time AC/DCs Highway To Hell. Epic’s classic rock style is undoubted, but they have good enough songs and don't really need to include other bands covers. Just sayin'.

Ive been wanting to hear Gary Moat’s Burnt Out Wreck. Heavy Pettin’ were (are) a band I love so was wanting to hear their songs played live. Immediately you could hear that they were a tight band with lots of hours behind them, and ‘Medusa’ was a cracking opener. Moat has a voice that’s like a mixed up Jizzy Pearl and Bon Scott, so he’s in good company. The dual guitars of Dunn and Goodman were a welcome addition and experience obviously shows. “Swallow’ and ‘Flames’ are the cream of the set, but ‘Pulling It Out' was a bit drawn out and laborious. The final rendition of HPs ‘Rock Aint Dead’ made for a very pleasing closer.

The Radio Sun are old hands now at HRH, and this their 4th appearance on a row shows with the numbers attending. There's always a bit of fun to be had with Jase Old and you’re never sure if its all a ruse or he really has early onset Alzheimers!! Not naming a single album or song in the set. Thankfully, being a fan, I'm not left want or asking! Now five albums in they have a lot of material to draw upon, and just to make sure they could pacify everything, threw in a medley (why don’t bore bands do this when a set is limited?).  TRS guys obviously enjoy playing HRH and its why they have repeat appearances. ‘Tonight's The Night’, ‘One In A Million’, ‘Outside Looking In’ and ‘Tell Me What You Want’ stand out (along with Jasons bants), but is ‘I Might Lie’ a cover they have made their own that’s always a killer. Catch them this week with BRS and Saints of Sin for one of the best packages this side of 1987!

Vega are made for HRH, or any festival. When they have a limited set of an hour, they put together a set of songs that few others can muster, and its like being bombarded with anthems for an hour. It works. Their phasers are set to ‘stun’ and from the opening ntro of English Country Garden and a mash up of AC/DC and Joan Jett, they don’t look back. Opening with ‘Explode’ its meaning is the definition of Vega. It is further ‘boom’ moments with ‘Every Little Monster’ and ‘Stereo Messiah’. Marcus Thurston just tears the place up, and when backed with the rhythm section and all round Dolby 5 part harmonies (Need Some Love Tonight), it makes for the performance of the day. Whatever the Martin bros are putting in Nick Workman’s tea is working a treat, as his performances are just getting better and better. I had to bow out after ‘White Flag’ but even after 8 or so songs I knew that they were going to kill it.

I wanted to see V0id (now Scarlet Rebels) especially in front of what could be a decent crowd (even if they did clash a little with Vega). Whoever I've spoken to after witnessing these Welsh lads has always been mightily impressed. The new songs such as ‘Part Of Me’ and ‘the excellent ‘Heal’ are a cut above what is already a very strong set of songs. In adding Josh Townshend and Chris Jones, they have taken their performances up a few notches as the BVs and guitar work was something else. Gary Doyle batters holy hell out of his kit and brother Wayne at the front and centre is the nucleus of the band. Staples (and should be household names)  ‘Say My Name’ and ‘Not The One’ get the applause they deserve. I don’t say this lightly, but Scarlet Rebels are one of the best bands you have yet to listen to. A brilliant performance. Adderchog!

Rob was covering my fave band (probably of all time), Romeo’s Daughter. I arrived a couple of songs in, for ‘Attracted To The Animal’ and was immediately covered in my security blanket of Craig Joiners guitar, and Leigh Matty’s vocals. I've been watching these guys since nineteen eighty mumble mumble, and after what must be a couple of three dozen of gigs seeing them, they have NEVER put in an average performance. Most of the 80s bands that play HRH play it safe and stick to the early stuff. Not Romeos Daughter, whose last two albums (dare I say it) are as good as, if not better than the first two. The set is a mix of everything, from ‘Radio’, ‘Bittersweet’ and ‘Enemy’ to the stalwarts of ‘Heaven In The Back Seat’, ‘I Cry Myself To Sleep’ ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Wild Child’. In replacing Ed Poole they have discovered a gem in ‘Rhino’ Edwards (LOL) who fits with RD like a well worn glove. It was an absolute pleasure to watch this as it so very nearly may not have happened last year when Craig Joiner was seriously ill. This was simply wonderful and the highlight of my day.

Love Hate, or Jizzy Pearl’s Love/Hate to be precise, were a band to watch on the Friday. Two years ago at a much bigger Pwllheli the room was rammed and uncomfortable. Today was no different, in fact it was probably the biggest draw of the day. JPLH are as close to AOR are Slayer are to classical music, but that doesn’t stop them at all. I was never a huge fan back in the day, but watching this set from afar made me sit up and take notice. Jizzy Pearl sounds pretty much like he did in 1990 which is no mean feat. He commented that ‘Blackout..’ Is 30 next year…..fuck. I think 30 yrs ago is 1970!! Jizzy Pearl, prances, and cajoled like he was in his 20s in 1988. Unless you had a DeLorean it was the closest thing to being at the Whisky A Go Go in 1989, only in Prestatyn. Having to queue to get in was a pisser, as I missed the first 15 mins as it was a straight ‘one out, one in’ policy. The crowd went nuts for songs like ‘Tranquilizer’, ‘Mary Jane’, and ‘Don’t Fuck With Me’. The last two were the destroyers of his career, ‘Wasted in America’ and the explosive ‘Black Out In The Red Room’. I went in as a non-believer and came out converted. It was damn good.

Toby Jepson’s Wayward Sons were up next, and the big crowd stayed. High up on the bill, I was expecting good things, and they didn’t let me down. Live, Jepson is as good as he was back in the day fronting Little Angels, full of charm, good looks and a voice that matches the one he had in his 20’s! Arriving to Johnny Cash’s ‘Fulsom Prison’ they broke into the rousing ‘Don’t Wanna Go’ and never looked back. ‘Alive’ has both feet firmly planted in the 1980s, and in Sam Wood they have a guitarist who reminds me of Scott Gorham, in that he is a cracking guitarist and plays without any flash or OTT histrionics. ‘Crush’ segues into Blondie’s ‘Union City Blues’ and new song ‘Jokes On You’ whets the appetite for album no. 2 later this year. ‘Small Talk’ is energetic before becoming ‘No More Heroes’ by The Stranglers. Little Angels ‘Young Gods’ took the excitement levels up to 11, finishing up with the excellent ‘Until The End’. They gave blood, sweat and tears over the course of an hour. I'd have added some wee to that had they played ‘Kickin’ Up Dust’!

I can’t believe that I've never ever seen UFO. My first album into them was 81’s ‘The Wild, The Willing, and The Innocent’ and contains some absolute gems. I'd read previously that songs from this album were poorly received in the past, so I wasn’t entering with high hopes. One thing UFO have above any other band is experience by the tanker load. Phil Mogg has been ever present since their inception in 1968, and incredible 51 years. No wonder he wants to retire while he still has his health at 71. Add the mercurial Paul Raymond, and Andy Parker, and you have a nucleus of one of the most iconic rock and roll bands ever formed. I was transfixed watching Phil Mogg and Paul Raymond, Mogg is a waif of a man, and still holds his mic like I first saw in Sounds in about 1979. He is a man of few words but when he does speak, its’ usually a gem of a comment. Immaculately turned out, he still has a great voice and grew into the set. UFO have so many albums and even more songs to pick a set from. As a 52 year old man I can really appreciate the need for comfortable clothing, and bassist Rob DeLuca’s crushed velvet flares looked a festival necessity for my future comfort! Raymond chose his moments for moving around the stage. And so would I, especially as a swift move could put a hip out!

It was the likes of rock classics such as ‘Lights Out’, ’Too Hot To Handle’ and the imperial ‘Rock Bottom’ that stole my heart. Biggest of all what the utterly fantastic 'Love To Love' - a monster of a tune. As a fan of 81’s ’TWTHATI’ I was as happy as could be when ‘Making Moves’ came up, a thunderous song that is built around Andy Parker's huge drum sound. I was a damp rag as this point. The encore of ’Doctor, Doctor’ and ’Shoot, Shoot’ proved that UFO only do encores with songs where the same word is repeated!! A masterful performance.

Boxes were ticked today, seeing 3 legends in one band (probably 4 with Vinnie Moore) and a lifelong song I never thought I'd ever see played live. I’d seen Michael Schenker's Temple and Fest line-ups perform most of these classics, but it was a different thing entirely seeing them performed by UFO. Considering their ages, (over 300 combined!) it was a masterful performance, one that the younger generations need to watch and learn from.

So on to Saturday…..

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Hardware 86 - 'EP' Review

Hardware 86
These two guys are men of few words. Im assuming that they are letting their music doing the talking. The PR info is limited at best – ‘The band ‘Hardware 86’ takes you back to the sound and the vibe of the late 80s hard rock scene. They celebrate a shameless cocktail of heavy guitars, soft synths, melodic leads and big 80s drums’. That’s it.
The band is Rune Aalberg Alstad (guitar/vocals) and Sigurd Ekle (bass/vocals) with assorted musicians filling in the gaps.
I was not wrong. Hardware 86 reminds me of the time I first heard Work Of Art. Thinking that no one was really serious about bringing back the AOR of old, Hardware 86 are doing their best in following the likes of WOA in their musical direction and output. When they state the late 80s they aren’t kidding. The opening bars of the opening track ‘Arena’ you know 100% that these guys walk the walk, and talk the talk. They couldn’t be more 80’s if they tried. I am half expecting Rick Springfield to kick in with vocals – a good time song if ever I heard one. If you like band like Atlantic, and Red Dawn, then this is right up your street. ‘Share This Love’ has more of an ‘edge’ but it is right in Work Of Arts wheelhouse. Rune’s vocals are perfect in this genre, and is born to sing AOR. ‘Summer of ‘91’ is one of those songs that regales of days gone by, singing ‘where did the Summer go?’ It evokes Robin Beck and is the type of song that Billboard was full of in the late 80s, as it leads towards pop more than rock, and ends with the same outro as Kiss’ ‘Forever’. ‘Sagittarius’ is standard ballad fodder and has been done to death before
It’s a sharp fall off in quality for the last couple of songs in ‘Cheezyfiction’ and ‘TLM‘. ‘Cheezyfiction’ would be right at home on an 80s B Movie montage clip on something like FX- Murder By Illusion or an 80s porn film, and ‘TLM’ is like a mix of styles coming together without any real direction.
Both are a bit of a let down. Only because it’s a 20 min EP. Had it been longer I wouldn’t mind an instrumental, but would have left it from this selection of songs. That said it fits their sound, but the EP just doesn’t need it, or cut it for that matter.
If Hardware 86 had developed more songs like the first two tracks it would be an album that would make the AOR community sit up and listen. Its a solid 'B' for effort, but they have shown they have the songs in them to do good things. I'd look at getting another 6 songs together for an album and build it around 'Arena' and 'Share This Love' as they have the foundations for a good album.

Score 6/10
Rune Aaberg Alstad – Guitar / vocals
Gigurd Ekle – Bass / vocals
Additional Musicians
David Saylor – (1,2,3,5)
Snorre Valen – (2,4)
Olav Slagsvold – (6)
Bjorn Bakken – (5)

Tracklisting -
Share This Love
Summer of ‘91

Thursday, 21 February 2019

John Diva and the Rockets of Love - 'Mama said Rock Is Dead' Album Review

John Diva and the Rockets of Love – Mama Said Rock Is Dead
In the past I have wrongly dismissed acts with off-putting names – Mustasch (killer riffs), Gene The Werewolf (superb rock carnage), but I wasn’t going to let John Diva and The Rockets of Love get away lightly, or without a listen!
Looking at the bloke, I suspect that he is huge in his home town/city, especially with +40 MILFS etc, and lives for the halcyon days of the 1980s hair metal brigade. I would even suspect that John’s persona is 100% rock n roll 24/7 and he will not even leave the house to buy milk and bread unless he is  fully laden in spandex, aquanet, guy-liner, bandana and an 80s swagger. I have no PR bumf, except for a Google search for his background so its just, me, John, The Rockets of Love, and the music. 

I half expected John and the Rockets to be from somewhere like Slapout, Alabama, but instead they are German, and from the website, make Steel Panther look like a ‘normal’ band, if ever there was a ‘normal’ for the Panthers!

Joining vocalist/womaniser (its on their site) John Diva is Snake Rocket and J.J.Love (guitars), Remmie Martin (Bass) and Lee Stingray Jr. (Drums). Its fair to say that like Steel Panther you need to take them on face value and with a certain pinch of salt. If you do just that, then you’re in for a treat – a huge treat.

It states that “HERE I GO AGAIN”, “ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANE”, “YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME”, “WHY CAN’T THIS BE LOVE”,”POUR SOME SUGAR ON ME” or “POISON”… you name it! All those songs DIVA was involved with as a songwriter! I think he was more involved in making the tea, as I can’t find his credit on any of these classics.

However, Diva has used all of his years of experience and raided the iSpy book of Metal Clichés, the Haynes manual for Hair Metal, and Dokken for Dummies and comes up with songs that make you smile and long for the good ‘ol days of MTV, chlamydia and other STDs. ‘Whiplash’ is a decent opener and the riff just rips into Motley Crue territory and has all the hallmarks of the eponymous Sunset Strip bands from back in the day. ‘Lolita’ is Van Halen, down to the video paying homage to the great DLR and VH vidz of the 80s. Diva sings ‘Ive been a bad boy all my life, breaking hearts, breaking laws, trying to survive’ on ‘Rock N Roll Heaven’ and you believe him without question and it melds cowboy and southern rock to great effect.

After one full listen I have to say that there’s more cheese here than the Kraft Singles factory. But good cheese.

There’s nothing new here that’s for sure. But….what you have is a man and his band penning and performing songs like they were in the 1980s. Many bands from that era have tried to recreate their glorious past and failed. Diva, right from the opening bars telegraphs his intent on bringing his 80s metal show and taking no prisoners in the process.

Some riffs are that blatant, he could expect a visit from some lawyers any day soon. But who hasn’t ever stolen a riff? If you like bands like Warrant (Rock N Roll Heaven), Whitesnake’s Give Me All Your Love Tonight (Wild Life), and Spit It Out (Long Legs In Leggings), Bon Jovi (the excellent out Jovi-ing Bon Jovi with Blinded (by a blonde!)) Leppard (Dance Dirty), and VH (Lolita).

Despite the gripe, there is some decent stuff on here, ‘Lolita’ tries to match DLR toe to toe, ‘Blinded’ has one of the best choruses you’ll hear all year, ’Toxic’ literally gets under your skin, and ‘Rocket Of Love’ is a cracking anthem.

Yes its clichéd. Yes its part parody. But John Diva and The Rockets of Love are completely self-aware and know exactly what they are selling here, and its ‘good time party rock n roll’. If you can get beyond the ‘its all been done before’ you can enjoy it 100%. I’ll tell ya something, I really, really, fucking enjoyed it.

Diva’s Mama Said Rock Is Dead, well I can tell you now, she knows absolutely fuck all!

Score 8/10 

Review by Chesy

Tracklisting -
Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven
Wild Life
Dance Dirty
Just A Night Away
Fire Eyes
Get It On
Long Legs In Leggings
Rocket Of Love
John Diva and the Rockets of Love –
John Diva – Vocals
Snake Rocket – Guitars
J.J. Love – Guitars
Remmie Martin – Bass
Lee Stingray - Drums

Blood Red Saints - 'Pulse' Album Review

Blood Red Saints – Pulse

Pulse is the third album from the Blood Red Saints, the first 2 albums Speedway and Love Hate Conspiracies were very much in the melodic rock vein. Pulse moves away from that somewhat with a heavier feel and mix of musical styles but still maintaining the distinctive Blood Red Saints sound.

I first saw BRS a number of years ago at the Rockingham Festival. I’d not heard their material but was advised by the Welsh Mafia that they were not be missed, how right they were.

They were early on the bill but were a revelation, I was hooked. In lead singer Pete Godfrey you have an enigmatic front man who is self-deprecating, a superb vocalist and stunningly funny. Pete has a put down for anyone brave/stupid enough to heckle. Add to that Lee Revill on lead guitar who also produced this album, Neil Hibbs (guitar), Andy Chemney (drums) and the legend that is Rob Naylor (bass) you have a proper band although whether Rob is in or out is one life’s ongoing mysteries.

Since that day I’ve seen the lads a number of times and got to know them as people and spent many happy times chewing the fat and chatting to them. They are bloody decent guys and a superb live band. They also make the effort to attend festivals like Hard Rock Hell and Rockingham even though they’re not playing. Proper rock supporting lads.

And so to Pulse.

Believer - The first track starts with haunting whistling (luckily more Axl Rose than Roger Whitaker) and rolling thunder in the background. The distinctive vocal of PG and a solid drum and bassline lead into a solid moody track far darker and heavier than the previous 2 albums. There’s also the “Let me hear an Amen” line dripping with irony and a blistering solo by Lee Revill.

Animals – again dark and menacing although I didn’t initially get into it to be honest but the driving guitars won me over, this isn’t the soft BRS of old but the intensity of the bass drum at the end is impressive.

Cross to Bear – a lead vocal full of emotion at the start leading into an old style BRS chorus. Nice. The Revill influence is there to hear and I bet Neil Hibbs was loving playing the heavier sound. A feature of the album is the effects used on the PG vocal, the use of a synth and other sound effects throughout. They all contribute to a unique sound.

Invincible – An atmospheric start followed by a superb set of heavy riffs. Thought provoking lyrics and great backing vocals, this would sit happily on the first 2 albums.

I’m Your Devil – the riff to start the song has Year 2000 by Pulp all over it. A high tempo piece with a real high paced melodic rock feel. BRS have always had a Def Leppard sound about them, this album has a bit of a Slang feel by Leppard about it, I don’t mind that at all.

There is also the compulsory voice over chucked in similar to that on the first album. My pedant criticism is that the quote “Money is the root of all evil” is wrong, actually it’s from Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil”. Just saying lads ;-)

Crash Into Me – knock me down with a feather, a full on proper ballad, the softest start to a song yet but lyrics such as “I’m tired of chasing broken dreams” and “I’m learning to fly, but it’s taking some time to get it right, gonna keep on trying” do it for this soft git. Song of the album for me. A proper AOR classic.

Pulse – Title song but for me it’s no Love Hate Conspiracy. It’s solid rock and we do have the good old “Whoa, whoa, whoa” sing-along bit. It’s OK but not the most memorable although it is a grower.

Message To God – a full on hard rock song, another slower, moody, heavier song. I love the heavy guitar riff throughout this leads into What Have We Become – written to the beat of a slower Pour Some Sugar on me to start. The beat to the song is addictive though.

Warrior – a slow atmospheric song. Layered vocals are superbly mixed in to PG’s vocal, “Be careful what you wish for”. Indeed. I love the way it hooks you in without trying, it’s a real ear worm of a track. At the end I felt I was that Warrior (all be it a fat one).

Bring Me To Life – I thought this was gonna be an Evanescence cover. Oh no, it’s another piece of classic AOR, the sound reminds me of multiple AOR songs and the fact I can’t pick exactly one explains how it ticks so many boxes. Personally I’d call this song  “Fix me tonight” but what do I know. A good song and ends a very good album.

In conclusion –I love the BRS guys but if I didn’t like the album then I’d say so. It’s a real mix of music styles and I love some of the heavier stuff even though I freely admit I prefer the AOR songs. The album is a grower and after a few listens I am hooked.

Atmospheric, haunting, moody, heavier riffs and sometimes dark, this is a change for the BRS lads but good for them, a brave move when they could have just gone for a Love Hate Conspiracies part 2.

My slight criticism is that the production could be tightened up, the sound on a laptop and phone is not that good but stick in head phones or a decent speaker turned up loud and the album comes alive. That said when recording on a budget you’re not getting Mutt Lange to help I suppose. I can already hear Pete Godfrey now: ”Don’t listen to it on a laptop or phone then you twat”.

Seeing BRS live is what the band are all about and I’ve already got a couple of their gigs lined up and I can’t wait to hear the new stuff live.

A solid 7/10 

Review by Lawrie 
Track Listing:

1. Believer
2. Animals,
3. Cross To Bear
4. Invincible
5. I’m Your Devil
6. Crash Into Me
7. Pulse
8. Message To God
9. Warrior
10. What Have We Become
11. Bring Me To Life

Blood red Saints are:

Pete Godfrey - Vocals
Lee Revil - Guitars
Neil Hibbs - Guitars
Andy Chemney - Drums

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics - 'The Man With Stars On His Knees' Album Review

Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics – The Man With Stars On His Knees
I always love it when a band I’ve never previously heard of just blows me away. These occurrences are not too frequent, but when you encounter Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics at HRH AOR come out and rip the place apart, you know when ‘special’ really means SPECIAL. I was unprepared for the human explosion that is Buchanan. A whirlwind of energy and seems like he has either a death wish or good healthcare insurance as he seems hell-bent on doing time in Stoke Mandeville hospital for some sort of spinal injury! Whilst they are nowhere near an AOR band, I welcomed their appearance, as they were one of just a couple of bands that took the place by storm. It was only when they played a couple of songs by Heavens basement that I managed to put 2+2 together. Of course. Whilst HB dallied around for quite some time, I think now Buchanan has his own vehicle to display his considerable talent, he will eclipse anything that HB have done, and lots, lots more.

A definite Rising Star award, or New Band award should have been in abundance in for them the last 2 years.
Backtrack to 2015 and Buchanan bailed out of HB and straight into the studio with producer James Curtis-Thomas, guitarist Ryan Woods, and sister and guitarist Laurie Buchanan. Prior to this, Curtis-Thomas and Buchanan had spoken a lot about producing a record with deep, mature and colourful content.
Their debut album, the strangely, but excellently named, ‘The Man With Stars On His Knees’ hit the digital stands in '17. But fast-forward to 2019 and ABATCC have signed a deal with Listenable Records in France. So what we have is a Special Edition of the Debut with a couple of extra studio tracks on the vinyl, and an additional three live tracks on the CD.

Show Me What You’re Made Of is fairly short, and leads you into the album nicely, just as you expect a big crescendo, it ends (unfortunately) but only to lead into ‘All The Things You’ve Said And Done’ a powerful kick in the nuts song that demands your attention. Its full of attitude, swagger and a song for the masses. Its Queen/The Darkness meets Halestorm, and dare I mention them, Alter Bridge.

‘Dancin’ Down Below’ instantly grabs you. Its underlying riff and anthemic chorus leave you breathless. If you haven’t seen ABATCC, I can assure that he can keep this pace up for a whole gig, its not just clever production. You get tired just listening to them! ‘The Devil That Needs You’ is classic rock for two thirds, followed by a final third that is something the US Army would use to break down Terrorist cells in captivity. ‘Journey Out Of Here’ is about as poppy and ‘normal’ as they can be to mainstream (if Aaron can ever be called ‘normal’!?). It’s a nice build that is up-lifting in its composition and is both light and dark at the same time. If that makes sense? Title track, the wonderfully named, ‘The Man With Stars on His Knees’ takes you on a journey, and it’s a song that is sooo good it just belies belief. A modern anthem in the making. It pulls in influences from Kiss, to Mott, to ELO and lots in-between. Phew.

A God Is No Friend’ is a nice slow burn, with Buchanan sounding like Layne Staley and AIC. There’s some nice guitar work going on here, giving it plenty of atmosphere.  Still in a bit of an Alice In Chains moment ‘Left Me For Dead’ is a dirtier, grungier song than anything previous. I like the fact that there’s plenty of variation going on here and everything is precisely and deliberately in its place. ‘Mind Of A Mute’ is Soundgarden by any other name, and reminds me about the good bits of grunge and its ‘wear you down’ guitar riffage (that killed off all my hair metal bands in the early 90s!). ‘Morals’ is just grandiose, and revoked Freddie Mercury and Queen. So, that would have been it, but now we have a couple of new tracks fro the reissue. ‘Fire In The Fields Of Mayhem’ is a great song for a single release, and just sums up what ABATCC are all about. Finally we’re  at the sharp end with ‘Undertow’, and its verse draws you in for the guitar solo. Its probably the most diverse song from the rest, and its an opportunity to hear Buchanan just sing, and it’s a worthy closer.

Buchanan’s name is on the cover, but Aaron, Laurie Buchanan, Tom McCarthy, Paul White and Mart Trail, take a well-deserved bow.

If you want to take a punt on a new band you haven’t heard yet, I’d put all my money on Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics. Other bands take note, the bar was already high, this reissue has raised it further.

If you don’t like the album or his live show, I’m honestly tempted to say I’ll refund you myself.


Show Me What You’re Made Of
All The Things You’ve Said And Done
Dancin’ Down Below
The Devil That Needs You
Journey Out Of Here
The Man With Stars On His Knees
A God Is No Friend
Left Me For Dead
Mind Of A Mute
Fire In The Fields Of Mayhem*
Undertow* (*exclusive studio bonus tracks)

Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics –
Aaron Buchanan – Vocals
Laurie Buchanan – Guitar
Tom McCarthy – Guitar
Mart Trail – Bass
Paul White - Drums