Thursday, July 24, 2014

Judas Priest - Redeemer Of Souls - The Pride Of Metal


Judas Priest gives a shit. They show up, they suit up, and they bring it - 40 years later they are still delivering the goods. Redeemer Of Souls is a proud testament to a band that has never rested on its laurels, and while I hope it's not their last, if it were it would be a grand way in which to go.

There's a great set of bookends happening here - frontman of frontmen Rob Halford pours his soul into every moment in an effort to prove he is still the king, and he's joined by new kid on the block Richie Faulkner, who proves his mettle by faithfully filling the metal shoes of one of the genre's legends, the now departed K.K. Downing. As one man is approaching the end of a long and unquestionably brilliant career, another has appeared to carry the torch into the future. This is a passing on of a tremendous legacy, and both men have done their best, and it's damned glorious.


There's two litmus tests I apply to any new record that must be measured by the past, and Redeemer Of Souls passes both with flying colors. First thing I do is to play a few tracks from the new record interspersed with tracks from that against which it is being measured. For this I picked my favorite studio record by the Priest, Hell Bent For Leather - what I find is also the answer to the second test, which is to think to myself what I would have thought if you had played this new album for me back in 1980, what would I have had to say about it?

If you had played this album for me back in 1980, I would have been pretty amazed. Glenn Tipton is still the best musical director in the genre, the riffs and solos are sharp as razors, and sonically this record is superior to much of the new metal that I hear - there's no muddiness, and the arrangements and production are state of the art. Rob Halford is still the Metal God - he's got no real competition as the king of classic metal. The passing of Ronnie James Dio, and the addled condition of Ozzy Osbourne has left a clear champion, and Halford has done a magnificent job of staying well, hearty, and hail. Certainly his upper range is not where it was in 1980, but that is a physical impossibility when one has been expertly exercising their vocal cord in world class conditions for 40 years. His phrasing is superb, his writing is strong, and his lyrical content is still the very definition of the genre.


I'll resist going through the song list - suffice to say that the level of quality is amazingly consistent, and with the band at its best, you should know what you're getting. Even the five song setlist that comprise the bonus disc shine. I'm guessing that these tunes didn't quite fit as well thematically with the body of the entree, and were seen as a bit too commercial, but musically and melodically this band's filler is better than the competition's greatest hits as often as not.

Judas Priest has followed the advice of the old maxim - never let the third act be boring. If you had fallen onto a desert island in 1980, and were rescued just in time to hear Redeemer Of Souls, you'd think you hadn't missed a thing. Some things in life can be counted on, and one of these things is the defender's of the faith, Judas Priest.

Halford, Tipton, and Ian Hill have served their legend well through a great many decades, albums, and tours. Scott Travis has sat upon the drum throne for 25 years, and he's hitting a hard and with as much mind-blowing precision as ever. Richie Faulkner does the near miraculous and while I grant his greatness, I don't find myself missing the ever wonderful K.K. Downing - I hope we hear music from Downing soon, but Richie has done an incredible job in both the writing and in his astounding guitar playing across the whole of this awesome record.

This is going to make for one hell of a tour, one that I can't wait to see, and hear.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blues Pills - A Flippin' Fantastic Debut


Blues Pills have been simmering for a few years, and now with the release of their debut long player they have achieved a full boil. The nascent band of youngsters from Sweden consistently write and play beyond their years, and there's no weak links to be found - in fact, this goes straight into my top five for 2014 at this point.

No plodding blues rock to be found here, this is bluesy rock all right, but it swings and moves in a glorious manner that only makes singing sensation Elin Larsson and guitar star Dorian Sorriaux shine all the more. These two toss the spotlight back and forth like no duo in recent times, and when they riff together it's heaven. People tend to refer to new bands in old terms, and I'm OK with that, but this bunch would sound great in any era that I've lived through. Unquestionably, this is one of the most powerful debut releases in the last decade.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Recordings That Demand Your Attention by Greg Prato - A Great Reminder!


They say you should write what you know, and again and again, Greg Prato has done just that. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Classic Rock Magazine, and he's just released his twelfth book, Overlooked/Underappreciated: 354 Records That Demand Your Attention, a loving look at 354 undervalued albums that have left an indelible impression on the author's mind.

Greg has an very comfortable conversational manner of writing, electing to go for the direct approach, as opposed to the pseudo-intellectual, 'I'm so clever and erudite' path that so many scribes choose to meander down. This is a fun, entertaining, and educational read that will well serve those who just want good information and a little direction.

Monday, July 7, 2014

America, Meet Danny Bryant - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

Photo by Marco van Rooijen
Danny Bryant is a very special, exciting, and exceptional musician, but his longtime relationship with blues legend Walter Trout may be even more special. In their relationship there are lessons in life itself.

Talk about your Cinderella stories - just months ago, things seemed pretty bleak in the tale of Danny Bryant and his mentor and friend, Walter Trout. The pair have been friends for twenty years, and they had hoped to tour America together in 2014, but Walter Trout's liver had other ideas, and the blues guitar legend found himself in an induced coma as his body waited on the possibility of a donor organ being found before his old liver completely surrendered. Touring wasn't even on the menu as Trout's mortal coil seemed in peril.

Well, the world wasn't quite through with Walter Trout, and Walter Trout certainly isn't through with this world. The circumstances have turned around very nicely - a donor liver was found, fans, friends and family have contributed over $240,000 to help defray the tremendous financial burdens, the surgery was a success, Walter is on the road to recovery, and now British guitar wiz Danny Bryant is coming to America for the first time to headline a month of shows fronting Walter's longtime band, and it would seem that from the ashes of what could have been a sad ending there has risen a new day's dawn.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Shell Shocked - Howard Kaylan - It's A Turtle's Life


There's a lot to be saying for being the last guy standing. This theory is put paid by Howard Kaylan's incredibly entertaining memoir, Shell Shocked. It would appear that Turtles don't move fast, but they are in for the duration.

Jim Hendrix, John Lennon, Marc Bolan, Frank Zappa, Harry Nilsson, and many other friends and associates of Kaylan's may have left us too soon, but the voice of Happy Together is still here and going strong, and we are the beneficiaries. Shell Shocked joins autobiographical treatments by such classic rockers as guitar legend Dick Wagner, and Humble Pie's Jerry Shirley as books by names you might not know, but who all helped write the book we call the history of rock 'n' roll.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bobby Womack - Rest In Peace, Brother....A Brief Remembrance


As always, it began innocently enough. We were working behind the counter at the Guitar Center in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. We had just moved the store into its new mega-location from the low rent ghetto of a store I hired into, and we were getting ready for our grand opening.

I had gone off to the warehouse to count some stock, and when I returned one of my co-workers, a GIT student with silver blonde hair that was stacked to the moon and frozen in place with simple syrup was arguing with a gentleman over some pricing on a few guitar effects pedals. The man said that they were just some toys for his 'git-ar.'

Sunburst - How The Gibson Les Paul Became A Legendary Guitar - Tony Bacon


Sunburst is definitely a book to own, but it makes me pine for something more. If you've been interested in guitars for more than ten minutes, I'm sure you are familiar with Tony Bacon's works, and this is more of the same. Essential, but not exceptional. If I sound like I'm of two minds here, I most definitely am. Please read on....

Bacon is nothing if not consistent - his books are unerringly accurate, and he knows how to layout a story, but they also lend themselves to a 'just the facts, ma'am,' conclusion. He is an aggregator - there's not much here that will be revelatory, but it's a great primer and one that should be on every guitar buff's book shelf. The stories are all here, they're all accurate, and there's enough technical information in his Reference List to make this essential material for every guitar shop.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Philip Sayce - Influence - His Best Yet - The Kid Ain't Going Down, Ain't Going Away


Influence is the best record of Philip Sayce's career, edging out even last season's impeccably rocking Steamroller. Putting paid the notion that you can keep a good man down, Sayce may not have gotten the breaks with his last outing, but he's kept his nose to the grindstone, and he's combined with his producer and friend Dave Cobb to make yet another brilliant record.

Half covers/half original tunes penned by Sayce and Cobb (who also adds tasteful bass to the tracks), Influence is a brilliant production - it's sonically sensational, the arrangements are just that, and when they went to the library they scoured the shelves for rare nuggets and eschewed the temptation to rest on other hit maker's laurels. If this album doesn't make Sayce a star I'll eat my hat.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

David Grissom - Living The Guitar Life - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

Photo by Matthew Sturtevant
"It was a long process, and I was very adamant that I had the opportunity to use it in the studio, and a lot of gigs to make sure it worked equally well in each situation, because I think if you spend that much money on an amplifier, it ought to be useful live, and in the studio, and that has not always been the case with amps in the past." ~ David Grissom on his signature series PRS amplifiers 
David Grissom truly lives the guitar life. He's played with Joe Ely, John Mellencamp, The Dixie Chicks, sessioned for the likes of Ringo Starr, Robben Ford, Chris Isaak, written hits for Trish Yearwood, Lee Ann Womack and others. He also has a solid solo career with four long players under his belt, including his latest, the excellent, How It Feels To Fly, which is a must hear that includes a half hour live set from his residency at Austin's legendary Saxon Pub, that includes a fabulous cover of ZZ Top's Funky Dogs And Nasty Kings, and a wickedly cool nine minute workout of the Allman Brothers' Jessica - oh yeah, did I mention he once subbed for Dickey Betts with the brothers?

As if that wasn't enough he's also designer of top flight gear in conjunction with Paul Reed Smith Guitars and Amps, doing almost ground-up work on his signature series DGT guitars, and the new DG Custom 30 and 50 watt powerhouse amps. He'll claim to not be a very technical guy, but by the time you're through reading you'll have a fine appreciation for his attention to the smallest details, and his innate ability to know what he wants to feel and hear from his equipment onstage, and in the studio. I've seen too many signature model instruments that just had a different finish and the star's name emblazoned upon them - it's refreshing to learn so much from someone who took the time to really make his signature models something very special.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Dagger - Death Metallers Go Back To A Melodic Metal Place In Time


The Dagger is a side project that appears to be becoming much more than that for this group of Swedish death metal all stars. They've been writing together for several years, all the while looking for the right voice to present their thoughtful reflection on the sounds of classic '80s metal, and in Jani Kataja, they've obviously found the right guy.

Their self titled long player is a great listen, and I hope they've only begun. Guitarist David Blomqvist is a stunner, and he worships at the alter of Blackmore, Roth, and Murray, and his riff writing is top notch, especially when one takes into consideration just how tough it is to write in a genre which has been on tap for over 30 years. Sure, he completely apes the guitar/keyboard solo from a Rainbow classic on their very first track, but it's old enough so that only a few of us dinosaurs will recollect it, and some kids will hear a ripping good musical interlude.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Who - Quadrophenia - Live In London - Bloody Brilliant


Who'd have thunk? Bloody brilliant. Not feral, as The Who once was, but stunningly beautiful. Daltrey is on fire, and this is the perfect document for the greatness of Peter Townshend's right hand. Holy shit good....If you ever dug The Who, even for a moment, buy this.

I love having my mind blown. Especially when I don't expect it. I had recently been sent a trailer type clip which impressed me tremendously, but I was still unprepared for the sheer breadth of this document. This past month started off well enough with the release of the new Zeppelin remasters/nuggets collection, and this is just icing on the cake. It's most telling that two of rock's original wonders are putting out the most exciting and vibrant packages that are crossing my desk. If you're one of the twelve people who have never figured out the genius of Pete Townshend and The Who, I implore you to check this one out.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Kadavar - Live In Antwerp - You'll Want This One


Kadavar
Live In Antwerp
Nuclear Blast Records

Kadavar serves themselves well with the excellent live set, and set the stag for where this German band of rockers goes next.

As I often do, when confronted with a newer band's offerings that suggest a strong connection to rock's long distance past, I'll A/B them next to the actual artifacts of the past to see how they stand up. I put Kadavar's latest, Live In Antwerp, up next to The Who's Live At Leeds, Blue Cheer, and Black Sabbath, and I think it makes the case for rock being quite alive and well.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Scott Gorham - Still Proving It - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

 "I think we kind of have a point to prove here. We want to get away from the twelve day thing, just to see what we can do given the chance to go in and make a proper album - the way we were used to making albums, right?" ~ Scott Gorham on recording the next Black Star Riders album in the Fall with Def Leppard's Joe Elliott
At a very young 63 years old, Scott Gorham still has things to prove. While many of his contemporaries have decided to pack in making records, and doing anything but greatest hits shows on the road, this California native is in for all intents and purposes new band, writing songs for a new album, and touring America under a brand new banner.

Friday, May 30, 2014

California Breed - The Father, The Son, The Holy Ghost - Rock Ain't Near Dead....


Rock 'N' Roll is alive and well. I went to the mountain, got the sermon, and I am here to spread the gospel. I saw the history of British rock played out with an American twist as Glenn Hughes returned victoriously to the stage of the Whisky A Go Go in West Hollywood after a 44 year absence, and he brought with him, Jason Bonham, the son of the greatest hard rock drummer in history, who is currently state of the art at his art, and they brought with them the new messiah of rock, 23 year old wunderkind Andrew Watt, who played and looked the part of the second coming of the rock star circa 2014. They tore the joint up, and love was in the air.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Last Hombres - Odd Fellows Rest - Levon Helm Sure Had Good Taste


The Last Hombres were the only band Levon Helm ever joined as a member after the end of The Band, and that speaks volumes. The band also worked with Rick Danko, but the fact that they were revered by key members of maybe the best roots music ensemble ever is just my way of drawing you in - what's germane is the band's excellent new record, Odd Fellows Rest, which you will thank me for pointing out later.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Rival Sons - Great Western Valkyrie - A Good Band Gets Great


Rival Sons continue to mine gold on Great Western Valkyrie, their fifth long player with producer Dave Cobb, making meaningful rock in the heart of a country music wasteland called Nashville.

To review this record, I attempted to time travel in my mind, back to 1970, where I imagine placing Rival Sons right in the middle of The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Free, to see how they would have fared. These seem to be the points I see struck by most writers, so I figure those are the glasses I'll put on to look into the distant past to see how the present stands up.

Monday, May 19, 2014

PGP 2 - Pinnick Gales Pridgen Do It Again, and Even More Brilliantly


PGP 2 finds Pinnick Gales Pridgen back again, and perhaps they've not only beaten the sophomore jinx, maybe they've beaten even their superb first effort.

In a time in which many are saying that even to consider making an album is a misguided move fraught with danger, dUg Pinnick puts out four records that stand proudly beside anything in his catalogue. People say the guitar is a tired and dying instrument, but somehow Eric Gales makes music sound undiscovered and beautiful every time he picks up his axe. Drums have been a thing of the past ever since rap raised its head, yet Thomas Pridgen remains inventive and vital in a host of various genres and bands. Rock Ain't Near Dead - and it was never proven with more aplomb than on PGP 2, the second effort by Pinnick Gales Pridgen. The Left Hand Gang is back, and they are bad.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Joe Satriani - Strange Beautiful Music, and The Complete Studio Collection


Joe Satriani sails into summer with a great package that should satisfy both the loyal and the neophyte Satch fan. Whether you've been there since the first EP like I have, or you're just getting into the realm of shred's smartest head, this package is all you'll need until Joe returns to the studio. The book is an encyclopedic look at Joe Satriani's catalogue by the master himself, and The Complete Studio Collection, re-mastered in 24-bit/96kHz High Resolution-Audio by longtime Satriani studio partner John Cuniberti and overseen by Joe himself, speaks for itself - even the less than expected mp3 files that Sony sees fit to dump on reviewers they obviously have less than love for sound great (more on that later).

Black Star Riders - Harlow's, Sacramento, California - Scott Gorham Proves His Point


Scott Gorham has a point to prove, and he's proving it. And, he just might be the best rhythm guitar player in the world on any stage, on any given night.

It's a small club, and the stage is smaller yet. The band has half their gear onstage, their soundman is not their own, and it's a Monday night crowd. This could discourage a lesser band, but Black Star Riders performed as if it was the biggest arena in the world and this was the only audience that ever mattered. I've not often seen a band so intent, so committed to their performance - Black Star Riders came and conquered.

Monday, May 12, 2014

California Breed - Zen and the Art of Glenn Hughes


Glenn Hughes is excited about California Breed. Glenn Hughes is very excited about California Breed.

Coming on the heels of the musically successful, but born to lose Black Country Communion, his new band is set to launch their debut album and their inaugural shows, and his excitement is well deserved. In the face of the possibility of restarting the failed supergroup, he looked away from an incredible A-list of world class guitarists offering to be the next in line, and instead took the road less traveled with a virtually unknown kid, the 23 year old Andrew Watt. The results are spectacular - this band sounds dangerous.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Motorhead and Graveyard Rock The Warfield Theater: Lemmy Takes The Day


Lemmy Kilminster led his team to the battlefield once more, and rode away victorious. Long live Lemmy.

The sold-out crowd at San Francisco's Warfield Theater is an experienced, well-dressed rock audience. Everyone here is here for the music, the sights, the sounds, and the lights, and they too walk away victorious. No one knew exactly what to expect from Motorhead, what with their hard living leader reported to be unwell, and having many unfortunate cancellations behind them from the last year. What we got was an amazing performance from start to finish, and a reaffirmation of all that's right with rock.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dewa Budjana - Surya Namaskar - The Future Of Fusion In 2014


Surya Namaskar is destined to be a fusion classic. Dewa Budjana brings together tremendous guitar playing skills and equally impressive talent as a composer - add two fusion superstars (Vinnie Colaiuta and Jimmy Johnson) to the mix, throw in mix master Robert Feist (he engineered Allan Holdsworth's greatest records), and you have the perfect ingredients for success, and succeed this troop has.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nita Strauss - Much More Than A Maiden - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview


Nita Strauss has been a figure on the West Coast guitar scene for years - when not channeling Dave Murray's sound, style, and licks onstage with The Iron Maidens, she might be found recording rocking classical renditions of various video games with Critical Hit, or maybe even on the road playing some hard funk with Jermaine Jackson. She is definitely not one to let grass grow under her feet - she even finds time to work with her co-guitarist and longtime friend/roommate Courtney Cox in not just the Maidens, but also Lorraine Lewis's reformed Femme Fatale who hit the waves between March 29-April 2 for the incredible (and sold out) Monsters of Rock Cruise, in which they'll be showing off both FF, and The Maidens.

Monday, March 17, 2014

California Breed - Well Worth The Wait, This Is A Brand New Breed - Review


Rock Ain't Near Dead - that's been my mantra for a while, and I am now more convinced than ever. California Breed is a fantastic album by a fantastic band. It's new breed, if you will - it doesn't sound like Deep Purple, Black Country Communion, or anything that preceded it. Hughes and Bonham have done some of their best work yet, and the avenue of guitar heroes has a new kid on the block in Andrew Watt.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Buffalo Killers - Heavy Reverie - Radio Ready, Willing, and Able

Buffalo Killers are back with Heavy Reverie, and they're going for the throat with a record that should situate the band for full throttle rock stardom. They've brought along a new label (Sun Pedal Recordings - Warner Music Group), a new producer (the legendary Jim Wirt), and hell, they even mixed it on the Neve console that gave birth to Michael Jackson's Thriller demos.

Friday, March 7, 2014

KXM - Supergroup? Hell Yes.


Korn + King's X + Lynch Mob = KXM = synergy.
syn-er-gy: noun 1. the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce combined effect greater than the sum of their separate parts.
In my old age, I'm learning to not be too quick to judge, to not shoot from the hip without looking closely at what I'm shooting. And in this case, that concept has served me very well.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Nalle Colt - Vintage Trouble - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview

Photo by Neil Kitson
Vintage Trouble is perhaps the world's biggest unsigned act, and that's no mistake. From day one they've done things their own way, and it worked like a charm for the hard working four piece from Los Angeles. Having played for millions of fans over the last few years to taking over the late night airwaves, the band has played their cards to perfection. Now, it's time for all that to change.

Nalle Colt is the band's guitarist, and writer of some of the sharpest dressed rock to find its way into the public consciousness in ages. He explained to me recently how the band's hard work, and the guidance of maybe the best management team on the planet (McGhee Entertainment) has led them to their next chapter and their second album, and perhaps a date with the unlikely, but incredibly impressive pairing of Jack White and Don Was. Nalle also told me how he came to the Les Paul, Revival Amps, and he delivered a great message on the power of hard work and gratitude.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Philip Morgan Lewis - The Whistleblower - A Timely Tale and Video


Philip Morgan Lewis returns with a new single, The Whistleblower, and it is already getting serious airplay here in the States, and in his UK homeland. The message is certainly one that many are thinking these days, in which the good guys have been put on the run by the powers that be.



Lewis is a regular one man band, playing everything here with the exception of Clive "B" Smart's excellent as always slide guitars, and some nice background vocals by Little A and VICK E. Lewis produced the record, played the instruments, and produced and edited the video. And, that's him on the skateboard in the video!

I was big on Morgan Lewis' Karma Comedown EP last year, and it appears there's no slowing down now. Karma Comedown received great press and airplay last year, and it seems that his bold, bluesy style has caught more than a few ears.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jon Herington - Much More Than Just Steely Dan's 'Go To' Guitarist - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview


"I found out that one of the most amazing opportunities anyone can have in a musical career is this repeat chance, years and years in a row, again and again, to play the same music with a top notch band. Music with room to improvise, and to play it at high stakes, where an audience is expecting a high caliber of musicianship night after night, year after year. It's amazing what you can accumulate over the years if you are working consciously to get better at it." ~ Jon Herington on touring with Steely Dan

Jon Herington is certainly best known for being a guitarist for Steely Dan, and various Dan related solo projects and off-shoot bands for nigh on fifteen years, but he's also led his own band for over twenty years and five albums, including a record (2012's Time On My Hands) that Vintage Guitar Magazine called, 'One of the best albums of the year, but of the past decade,' and rightfully so.

Monday, February 24, 2014

KISS - Opportunity Missed?


I'm jumping on the bandwagon on this one, something I rarely do, but I may as well say my piece. The fact that KISS is not playing their own induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame with the original lineup is a crime against their fans, and a great opportunity missed.

George Lynch - A Good Effort But A Too Tame Mob in Sacramento


Keith St. John saved the night. A last minute addition to Lynch's mob, St. John stepped in and did a great job in an otherwise extremely lackluster night at The Boardwalk in Sacramento.

In what seems to have become a recurring theme George Lynch again found himself without a lead singer on the eve of a tour. Whether Tad Gonzales walked, or was shown the door, no one seems to know, but regardless of the details, it certainly doesn't look good, and it doesn't make for great rock and roll. It wasn't that long ago that original Lynch Mob vocalist Oni Logan bailed on the band just hours before a flight, and had to be replaced by LA veteran Chaz West. It begs a few questions, but first, some praise for Keith St. John.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rolling Stones Gear - Stones Fans and Guitar Lovers Rejoice!


"Keith explained the unconventional origins of "Paint It, Black" and how it came together: "Mick wrote it. I wrote the music, he did the words. Get a single together. What's amazing about that one for me is the sitar. Also, the fact that we cut it as a comedy tack. Bill was playing an organ, doing a takeoff of our first manager (Eric Easton), who started off his career in show business as an organist in a cinema pit. We were doing it with funky rhythms, and it hadn't worked, and he started playing it like this and everybody got behind it. It's a two-beat, very strange. Brian playing the sitar makes it a whole other thing." ~ Chapter 6 - page 221

Of course, then Bill Wyman goes on to tell a quite different story completely concerning the organ part, the story of the sitar use is fleshed out superbly, we read about the acoustic guitars that Brian and Keith used (Gibson Hummingbirds, with Keith using a Guild Freshman M-65 for his lead), we find out who played what rhythm instrument, all adding up to, "a great sound... like a Hungarian polka."

Monday, February 17, 2014

BIGELF - Into The Maelstrom - A Stunning Comeback


Originally printed at www.metaltalk.net!
"Damon Fox is the real thing. How many times do we get to hear that? Rock and roll is fading into memory, lost in a sea of mediocrity and an ocean of banality. Playing live with Damon is like standing on the stage of a dingy bar in London in 1972 with a charismatic figure from a Charles Dickens fantasy with a B-3 organ at his bejeweled fingertips. Keeping the great traditions of true rock music alive, Damon looks plays, and inhabits the rock and roll vibe of all the greats." ~ Michael Des Barres

I hadn't heard from Bigelf in quite a while when I noticed that Fox was playing amazing keyboards in The Michael Des Barres Band for some great shows, and a couple of excellent records. Then I heard that Inside Out Music had signed the band, Mike Portnoy had lent his aid, and things were back on track for the LA based outfit.

Cynic - Kindly Bent To Free Us - First Rate Thinking Man's Metal


It could be said that Cynic has image issues. Google in one direction and they'll be called prog, go in another direction and you can read about their thrash metal origins, Wiki will tell you they're all but a polka band at times. Whatever they've been, and however they've been perceived is for me immaterial - I'm a neophyte, and I find them fabulous.

Jack Bruce - Silver Rails - Top Of The Class In 2014


Who would have thought that Jack Bruce would do his best work at the age of 70? It's a familiar tack with me, but think about what you would have wanted Jack to sound like in 2014 - he's singing better than ever, he's playing great bass and piano, and he's writing brilliantly. Could you have hoped for more than that? Silver Rails may be his best solo record ever, its certainly the best record he's made in a great many years, and it should end up on a lot of lists for the best albums of 2014.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock - The Boardwalk - Sacramento, California 8th February, 2014


It wasn't the best Schenker show I've ever seen, but it was the best Schenker show I've seen in over twenty years....

It was a cold and rainy winter's night in Sacramento, but the loyal came out in droves to celebrate Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock. On a stage that even threw fear into the heart of as experienced a frontman as Doogie White, the mad axeman and his band of merry men could do no wrong, and the over-capacity crowd sang every word and punched the air with every solo. Schenker is continuing his steady climb that might just have him now at the top of the guitar hero sweepstakes, and he's finally found a dependable frontman with which to share the stage in the seasoned White.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gary Moore - Rest In Peace (A Re-print from 2011)


It's terribly difficult to put into words what I am feeling on this cold, wintery Sunday afternoon. Just this morning, I wrote a defense of Gary Moore, only to hear hours later of his death. I am, along with a great many others, shocked and saddened.

I have been a huge fan of Gary Moore's since I was about 16. I saw Moore play with Thin Lizzy, and it changed my entire musical worldview. At that age I had never witnessed anyone play with such passion, and enthusiasm. It was as if the music passed through him like electricity, as he jumped, grimaced, and writhed through the show. No mere posturing, the notes revealed a stunning amount of emotion and conviction. He never lasted long in Lizzy, as he was fueled by his desire to sing and write his own material, difficult to do in a band with Phil Lynott, but when they did unite it was always exceptional.

California Breed - Glenn Hughes' New Power Trio with Jason Bonham and Andrew Watt


I first heard the demos some six months ago, but I had been sworn to secrecy by the ex-Purple bass man, Voice of Rock Glenn Hughes.

Hughes, "An announcement will be made soon, about my new band with Jason and Andrew - it's going to be a mind-blower. We're recording in Nashville with Dave Cobb and Vance Powell (Rival Sons, Raconteurs). I am fresh, alive, and with a bag o' tunes to shake up the music industry - and with a record company that will be with me all the way (Frontiers Records)."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Rudolf Schenker - Unplugged But Still Electrifying - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview


Rudolf Schenker is finding out that the world is not quite ready for Scorpions, his long running juggernaught of peace and friendship, to come to a halt. The band has just released their latest opus, MTV Unplugged, a DVD/CD set that takes a long and leisurely look at the German metal frontrunners' history.

I caught up with Rudolf on an early Monday morning, and at 64 he's still running circles around the rest of the planet - we used telephones, but I'm not sure they were necessary. Had Schenker stuck his head out of his German window, I'm thinking I could well have heard him from my California back door. His energy and passion crash down like mighty waves, and you can either join in, or get out of his way. I dove in.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Adrian Belew - On Crimson ProjeKCt, The Crimson Legacy, And Flux - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview


The Crimson ProjeKCt - the Fripp approved roadshow put together by King Crimson veterans Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, and Pat Mostelotto and including Markus Reuter, Julie Slick, and Tobias Ralph are hitting the boards again in 2014, and they'll be bringing their troupe to the 02 Sheperds Bush Empire on March 12th for a special one off in the UK.

I spoke with the always affable and elucidating Adrian Belew at his home near Nashville, Tennessee about the tour and his other plans for 2014 - as always, he's a busy guy, but he also ended out talk with the announcement of something even he has never done, and that is truly saying something.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Lance Lopez Rocks The Baked Potato - Don't Bogart That Bogert, My Friend!


There were moments tonight, when things just took off - now, that was fun." ~ Tim Bogert
"Goodness gracious, 'lil Susie sho likes to roll...."

To say the least there were moments last night at the world famous Baked Potato last night in Los Angeles in which it seemed the small club itself might just take flight as Texas guitar star Lance Lopez raised the roof again and again with incendiary singing and molten lava blues rock.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Jason Bonham Reveals New Band With Glenn Hughes, Andrew Watt


It would appear that the cat is safely out of the bag. After months of steely secrecy, this morning Jason Bonham came out and said it:

Jason Bonham ~ "Good Morning. Grabbing my Starbucks while listening in the car to the mixes for me new band with Glenn Hughes and Andrew Watt . Will tease you with a few bars of it later !!!!!! Sound Bad Ass . Cheers."

I've been sitting on this since I heard the demos back in September - and yes, they sound amazing. There will be few people mourning the death of Black Country Communion when this project is heard, it is simply amazing.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Michael Schenker's Temple Of Rock - Bridging The Gap Live in Corona

Photo by Anthony Crawford
He's calling it Bridge The Gap, but I'm thinking it's just as much phoenix rising these days with our old friend, Michael Schenker. He's had more lives than most cats, and we are currently in the midst of a beautiful resurgence.

Coming fast on the heels of his best album in decades, the German guitar legend is playing with his well known fire and precision, but he's now added fun and enjoyment to his repertoire, along with the best sidekick he's rode with in ages - Doogie White brings a lot to the party, and perennial sergeant-at-arms Wayne Findlay is steadfast in his role. Bolstered by the rock steady Pete Holmes on the drums and the whirlwind that is Rev Jones on a fine collection of Dean basses, the band absolutely thrilled the capacity crowd at the rock 'n' roll oasis that is the M15 club in Corona, California.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Ethan Brosh - Live The Dream - The Rock Guitar Daily Interview


Ethan Brosh is a guitarist known for making things happen. He's gone from an eleven year old guitar student in Israel to opening for Jake E. Lee's triumphant return to his hometown of San Diego, and this Spring he'll be releasing his second full length CD, Live The Dream, on Carmine Appice's new Rocker Records label. You don't pull off things like this without a full tilt effort, and it's a steely determination that seems to keep Brosh in focus and on point.

Coming off an impressive summer tour opening shows for Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Ethan is primed to enter 2014 with a full head of steam, and heading for the next level. He's decreasing the number of acts he's been playing with to focus on his solo career, and from the sound of the new record, that's a great idea. I had a chance to spend some quality time with Brosh in San Diego before the Red Dragon Cartel show, and we had a great talk about how he sees things, and where he'd like to go.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

68-75 - Stay On The Ride - Atlanta Vets, Or Rookies Of The Year?


68-75 comes out of the gate with no governor on the engine, and with the pedal fully to the metal. After getting a good round of attention towards the end of 2013 via a highly prized slot on one of Classic Rock Magazine's great compilation discs, and sworn testimonials from some of America's underground experts, the band is set to unleash their first long player, Stay On The Ride, on the masses, and the masses would do well to hold on tight.

Led by longtime Atlanta rockers Suzanne Sledge on vocals, and Andrew Cylar on wicked guitar, 68-75 are braced for well-deserved rock stardom. With a disc this good in your repertoire it's surely time to load up the van and seek a place on stages and headline bills.

What's on tap here is edgy straight ahead rock with little filler - acknowledging their unabashed love of the power rock of the seventies, 68-75 would have fit quite well on the stage at Woodstock, and they'll fit just as well on festival stages in 2014 if they keep playing their cards like they have been. This is a handmade project - the band has done everything on their own, and through shrewd use of social media, they stand very ready to go to the next level - one that will engage labels, publicists, and management. Sledge and Cylar have solid star power, and they are bigger than can be grown in a small pot for long.




Camel's Back starts things off, and it's taut, distorted guitar line will stick to your bones like a mother's meal, and Sledge's well worn shout will put you in mind of such ghosts of rock's past like Marriott, Rodgers, and Reid. The rhythm section is nicely tight, but loose - they've definitely heard a Zeppelin record, or two. The lyrics tell the tale of broken love, and they're appropriately defiant, then along comes Cylar with what I lovingly call a 'Leslie West moment.' A long, bent fill that's just fat, and filled with tone - economy of language is the key, and while he says little, it speaks large. The solo is a joy, filled with sharp shards of solid rock. One of the thrills of a home brewed project is that this sounds real, like a band stood in a room and ripped this one of in one take.

"Made my deal with the devil, nobody rides for free.' So says the first line of Deal With The Devil, and it's now clear that as Sledge sets sail with her 'soul's wide open' prose, Cylar throws out memorable guitar hooks like candy off a float. Again, the guitarist sounds as pissed as the singer when he unfurls his in your face solos. Great rhythm guys are rare as anything, and Andrew Cylar is first rate. Short, sweet, and to the point.


Bleak, dark guitar, and a mournful organ announce Detroit, and again Sledge is on the edge of town with no ticket out. The riff sounds rainy and cold, and the dirge of the bass and drums march on soldierly, as Cylar's wicked vibrato shakes out the notes, leading into an overdubbed twin guitar solo section that suggests interesting possibilities for the future.

Dog Tooth recalls the best moments of seventies swagger, bringing to mind Robin Trower's best, and the whisky soaked soul of Humble Pie. Solid snare work keeps this from being just another rocker, and the riffing has a sultry smack. More great tone and fill from Cylar, who seems to know just how much spice to add toy a recipe.

Things get downright Stonesy on It's Only Tuesday with chord suspensions and a rocking acoustic track laying up next to the electrics, and a more open snare sound that lightens up things nicely. Reminds me of why I loved Mick Taylor in the Stones, as the stinging leads mix with the pumping rhythms. I hear Atlanta all over this one with fond memories of all the great guitar work that came out of Georgia in the nineties. Sledge is one point again, shouting out her melodic take on the blues.


An insistant bass drum jousts nicely with Cylar's riffing on the intro of Kicking Down The Stalls, and Sledge tells it like it is. She may be beat down, but she's never beaten. This is a voice that's lived the lyrics, I don't get any sense of fiction coming from this record. Classic blues rock belting from someone who's felt it, experienced it, and lived to write about it. More great and memorable guttering, and it's over all too soon.

If The Faces were to reunite, I'd hope it would sound half as great as Nowhere. Not that this band doesn't sound great as the classic power trio with a singer lineup, but I have to think a full time Hammondist (that's me making up words again), and another guitar could open this up even more. Cylar's riffs are so compelling and interesting that they suggest further orchestration - again, not any criticism, just me hearing possibilities that he's often laid down upon this disc.

NSC features one of those stately, and gorgeous intros that always sounded so good when they came jumping of the FM airwaves, and then it graduates to more swinging, swaggering rock. Sledge and Cylar sound like they've been doing this for eons, and they have. The pair has been working together for over a decade, and I'm damned glad they never gave up. Rock this vital is necessary to keep the ship afloat in these days of corporate destitution in the mainstream. I hope they keep their act together and see this through - this is one of those combinations I want to hear five albums from now, four world tours later - it can only get better, richer, and more valuable over time.


This is a band I want to play with - strap on an axe and hit the road. You will to when you get trampled underfoot by a riff like Send My Body Home. It takes great guitars to not completely get lost in a voice like Sledge's, and Cylar delivers again, and again - and I know how hard, and rare riff writing like that is to find. He's the best rhythm writer I've heard in a long while, and there's even some howling harp on this one that keeps the gutters fresh. This one swings, swings, and swings.

Stay On The Ride is straight up solid blues rock ripping, complete with muted chuck-a-chuck guitar mashing and psychedelic strangling that gives Sledge yet another color to weave her vocal magic across. She's a lower pitched plant than some of the raging Brits of days past, suggesting more of a Dewars and water kid of tone, and it fits perfectly with Cylar's Les Pauls.

I'm guessing that this one can't miss my top 14 for 2014, even at this early date. Hell, it's a band I want to play in, manage, produce, and take home with me - but great rock 'n' roll is like that, right. You want to own it, make it yours, and make sure it doesn't ever go away. Hell no, Rock Ain't Near Dead....

My special thanks to Suzanne Sledge and Andrew Cylar.