Rock Candy Roundup: Johnny Van Zant, Lionheart, Fastway, Paris

Johnny VAN ZANT

Round Two  ***1/2

The Last Of The Wild Ones ****

Youngest of the Van Zant family, Johnny follows an enormous legacy in Ronnie (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Donnie (38 Special). These solo albums (sometimes credited to The Johnny Van Zant Band) are his second and third, from 1981 and 1982 respectively.

Round Two kicks off in surprisingly hard rock fashion with (Who’s) Right Or Wrong, with more than a Southern nod, uptempo crunchy guitar and easily recognisable vocals, a sound respectful of the Van Zant background. There is some fantastic guitar work on the album, even on the lighter (more Americana and AOR than ballad tinged). Yesterday’s Gone is one of those, which is still very melodic, while Let There Be Music is lighter bar room Southern rock, very smooth and a touch of Thin Lizzy too.

There’s plenty of input from Journey producer Kevin Elson (who was once front of house sound for Skynyrd) who, along with two members of Journey, guests on the album. The string arrangements are a little too soft for my liking, JVZ and band sounding much stronger when they rock out more.

 

The following album is a real corker. With co-production from Al Kooper and some songs co written with Donnie Van Zant, Good Girls Turned Bad, It’s You kick the album off in fine fashion, a mix of Southern, hard rock and a bit of polish and it’s already more consistent; something that Van Zant admits to in the sleevenotes. Even the slower piano led numbers are big and powerful in sound.

 

Both albums come remastered and comments from Johnny Van Zant in the sleevenotes – the albums look and sound fantastic.

Joe Geesin

FASTWAY – Fastway

Formed by former Motorhead guitarist Fast Eddie Clark and UFO bassist Pete Way (the latter immediately jumping ship), Fastway released their eponymous debut in 1983 to much acclaim, and rightfully so as this Is a classic rock album. With Humble Pie drummer Jerry Shirley on board, and the fantastic solid loud and ranging vocals from Dave King (often sounding like Robert Plant), the album was completed with uncredited session bass player Mickey Feat.

Opener Easy Livin’ (Not the UH) song, as an uptempo boogie glam tinged number with screaming guitars and solid vocals. Feel Me Touch Me is more a 70s number, a solid riff. All I Need Is Your Love is not the only track to have a Diamond Head feel, and Another Day has more acoustic intro before building, and a hint of Zepplin-esque metal. The Eddie Kramer production adds to the classic sound as well as the all star cast.

A near essential classic album, bolstered by interviews in the extensive notes and 7 bonus tracks (including one from the original CD, omitted from the subsequent release).

****

Joe Geesin

PARIS – Paris

Paris were formed in Paris in 1975, by some well known American musicians, notably vocalist / guitarist Bob Welch (Fleetwood Mac), bassist Glenn Cornick (Jethro Tull) and drummer Thom Mooney (Nazz), and released two solid if far from successful albums. This eponymous debut, released on Capital in 1976, There was a strong hint of Led Zeppelin and Humble Pie in the sound, maybe not as coherent as (the first two tracks Black Book and Religion in particular) jam in a near live fashion and actually become a little jumbled), although there’s many a good solid riff.

Starcage features keyboards and some decent if intricate guitar work,

Beautiful Youth is more melodic and coherent and very enjoyable, There is some great work on the album, but the overall sound shifts from blistering to sludgy and back again.

A well presented album with some good moments, and contribution in the sleevenotes from Welch shortly before he died earlier this year.

***

Joe Geesin

LIONHEART – Hot Tonight

Some surprisingly good melodic hard rock, Lionheart’s only album, issued in the mid 1980s.

If the name doesn’t ring any bells, the album features guitarist Denis Stratton, original 2nd guitarist on Iron Maiden’s debut, later of Praying Mantis, and Steve Mann (ex Liar, later of MSG).

The album is largely more melodic hard rock than AOR, opening with Toto / Journey-esque piano overlaying some crunchy guitars, before some balladic vocal harmonies come in, and some rough guitar riffs. The saxophone fits in well.

Chad Brown’s vocals are bright and strong, fitting the music well, and the title track opens with a solid hard riff. Some of the tracks, with high vocals, hint at a heavier version of Heavy Pettin’, There’s plenty of riffs and solos, vocal harmonies, it’s a good set and often much overlooked.

Not just for Iron Maiden fans – it’s well worth checking out, and lots of info, quotes and pics in the sleevenotes.

****

Joe Geesin


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Power Plays w/c 2 September (Mon-Fri)

BAD WOLVES Killing Me Slowly (Eleven Seven Music)
THE DEAD DAISIES Righteous Days (SPV)
DEEP DEEP WATER Something In The Water (indie)
MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST Sleeping With The Light On (Nuclear Blast)
GHOSTS OF MEN Crooked Back (Regent Street Records)
ANNIE HASLAM Blood And Water (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 2 September (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 MICK DEVINE Here Now (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 MOB RULES Beast Over Europe (SPV)
14:00-16:00 THE PORTRAITS For Our Times (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

STACKRIDGE A Victory For Common Sense (2009)



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