Frontiers Records [Release date: 17.05.13]
This is a real ‘before they were famous moment’. Burning Rain was the last in a series of bands (Lion, Bad Moon Rising) that brought guitarist Doug Aldrich critical acclaim if not commercial success, before he belatedly got the recognition he deserved, initially with Dio then for the past decade as David Coverdale’s main partner in Whitesnake.
Their two albums, 1999’s self titled debut and 2001’s Pleasure to Burn, came out on Z Records at a time when traditional bluesy hard rock could not have been less fashionable, and are long out of print, so Frontiers Records have taken the opportunity of a new Burning Rain album to re-release them.
His frenzied guitar style, blending Jimmy Page like riffery with the more technical fretboard burning of contemporaries like George Lynch, is all over both albums, and combined with singer Keith St John’s muscular, bluesy stylings- coming over a cross between Robert Plant and the late Ray Gillen – can be seen as a prototype for the last two Whitesnake studio albums.
Thoroughly enjoyable, nevertheless this is not a musical form that lends itself to originality, and I found myself playing name that tune during the debut in particular.
On the debut Burning Rain ‘Jungle Queen’ has the ‘Appetite for Destruction’ vibe the title would suggest, ‘Can’t Cure the Fire’ is prime DLR era Van Halen and ‘Cherry Grove’ swaggers on a very Zeppelin-inspired riff.
Nevertheless it is hard not to like tracks like swaggering opener ‘Smooth Locomotion’ and ‘Making My Heart Beat’ and ‘Can’t Turn Your Back on Lov’e, both of which slow the pace down very effectively. While the album dips in quality late on, a couple of acoustic versions of tracks are a welcome bonus. ****
Two years on, and Pleasure to Burn repeated the same formula, although the likes of ‘Stone Cold and Crazy’ and ‘Love Emotion’ have a more direct, commercial feel to them. Again, with the benefit of hindsight, it is easier to see how old ‘Elsie’ alighted on the blond guitarist as the yin to his yang.
‘Cherie Don’t Break My Heart’ is a stately semi ballad which could be a sequel to ‘Is This Love’, ‘Sex Machine’ takes the single entendre approach of Whitesnake, and ‘Judgement Day’ borrows both a title and a Zeppelin-ish vibe from the ‘Snake.
If you like blues based hard rock with a touch of late eighties swagger, or are interested how Doug Aldrich got his big gig, then both come highly recommended. ****1/2
Review by Andy Nathan
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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).
Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)
Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)
SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)
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