The Best of 2015 – top albums, top live acts – the reviewers’ choice

The Best of 2015 with David Randall by Get Ready To Rock! Radio on Mixcloud

In the end of year ‘Best of 2015′ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, David Randall featured many of the albums/artists that appear in the GRTR! Reviewers’ Best Of selections.  This show was first broadcast on Sunday 27 December and also reflects the reader/listener popular poll.  Previous shows

Every year we ask the GRTR! Team to list their favourite albums and gigs of the year.

As ever, reflecting the range of our coverage, it’s always a diverse selection that may not list the most obvious.  As an example, Iron Maiden’s ‘The Book Of Souls’ only appeared in one of our reviewers’ lists.  Hopefully the selection may give you ideas for further exploration, if not Christmas Lists…

How have we arrived at the reviewers’ Top 5? We’ve taken the most popular albums and live acts (i.e. those listed by more than one reviewer).

Photos by Simon Dunkerley, Mark Hughes, Andy Nathan, David Randall, Paul Rodgers, Iain Scott, Darran Scott, Dave Wilson

The Best Of 2015

Between 7-20 December we invited readers and listeners to vote for their own favourites.

‘The Best Of 2015′ is also featured in a special show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sunday 27 December at 22:00 GMT.

And throughout December, Get Ready to ROCK! Radio will feature ‘Best Of’ selections across their playlists.

Top albums

1.  THUNDER Wonder Days
2.  BLACKBERRY SMOKE Holding All The Roses
3.  KING KING Reaching For The Light
4.  FM Heroes And Villains
5=UFO A Conspiracy Of Stars
5= MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK Spirit On A Mission
5= STEVE ROTHERY The Ghosts Of Pripyat

Top Live Acts

1.  VINTAGE TROUBLE
2.  THE TUBES
3.  RENAISSANCE
4.  FM
5.  AC/DC

Top Live Event

1.  DOWNLOAD

Inglorious - Planet Rockstock, 4 December 2015

Watch Out 2016!

INGLORIOUS

The Best Of 2015

Popular Poll results

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 06/12/2015 23:59:59
end_date 20/12/2015 23:59:59
Poll Results:
What do you consider to be the best album of the year?

This poll is closed! Poll activity:
start_date 06/12/2015 23:59:59
end_date 20/12/2015 23:59:59
Poll Results:
Who do you consider to be the best live act of the year?

Popular Choice of Top Album 2015 (not included in reviewers’ choices)

VINTAGE TROUBLE 1 Hopeful Road

Popular Choice of Live Act 2015 (not included in reviewers’ choices)

 HALESTORM

The Best Of 2015

Jeff Lynne's ELO - Alone In The Universe

JASON RITCHIE News & Reviews Editor

Top Albums

1. JEFF LYNNE’s ELO Alone In The Universe

It has been nearly fifteen years since the last ELO album of all new material and it has been well worth the wait. Jeff Lynne is back in style with a set of tunes that meld the bets bits of ELO and his solo/Traveling Wilburys work.

Jeff Lynne is on tour in the UK, April 2016

2. LONELY ROBOT Please Come Home

John Mitchell (It Bites/Arena/Frost*) is the driving force behind this classy mix of prog rock and pop rock.

Lonely Robot play King’s Cross Scala, London, 20 December.

3. CATS IN SPACE Too Many Gods

If you love the classic 70′s sounds of bands like the Sweet, 10CC, ELO, Supertramp and love a decent tune then just buy this album, simple.

Cats In Space play Half Moon, Putney, 6 January 2016

4. FIVE GRAND STEREO Sex & Money

2015 has been a vintage year for lovers of power pop/pop rock like me and this fine debut from Five Grand Stereo is a fain example. More hooks than a fishing tackle shop, this is pop rock bliss from start to finish.

5 = THUNDER Wonder Days

They are back with one of their strongest albums in ages. Rockers, ballads, acoustic workouts, sing-a-long choruses this album has it all, classic Thunder.

Thunder are on tour in the UK with Terrorvision and King King, February 2016

5 = BLACKBERRY SMOKE Holding All The Roses

Slightly late to the BS party, this band ooze quality in their playing and songs. A potent mix of southern rock and country rock, fantastic.

Squeeze, photo by Noel Buckley

Top Live Acts

SQUEEZE (October 2015) – masterclass in live pop rock as they mixed their excellent new album with their timeless classics fans come to expect.

FM (November 2015) – they are better now live than in their supposed 80′s heyday. They have the tunes, show and of course Steve Overland’s vocals which just keep getting better with age.

FM play Planet Rockstock, 4 December, and are on tour in the UK from 22-31 January 2016

JOSH TAERK (June 2015) – he was back plugging a strong new album and little by little he is getting the recognition his music deserves.

POWER WOLF/ ORDEN OGAN (September 2015) – Orden Ogan are one of the best power metal bands out there and great to finally see them live. Headliners Power Wolf continue to take the metal world by storm and they are just as good live as on album.

NIGHT RANGER (March 2015) – great to see them again. One of the best live bands I have seen in my many years as a music fan.

Watch Out 2016!

KING KING and THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT will both be destined for greatness in 2016 and beyond!

The Best Of 2015


The Pete Feenstra Feature – Michael Schenker (11 October 2015) by Get Ready To Rock! Radio on Mixcloud

MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK – Spirit On A Mission

DAVID WILSON Live Editor

Albums

1 MICHAEL SCHENKER’S TEMPLE OF ROCK Spirit On A Mission

I got my hands on this album back in January and it has hardly left my car CD player since. This is one of the best classic rock albums you will ever hear with all the band members at the top of their game. If you have yet to hear it, I recommend you do so as soon as possible, you will not be disappointed.

Michael Schenker is on tour in the UK from 20-30 January 2016

2 TRIVIUM Silence In The Snow

When Schenker is not on in the car, this usually is instead. Trivium have been improving year on year both live and on record and with the new ‘clean’ vocal style from Matt Heafy it should bring them a new audience without alienating their current fan base. The same heaviness just a bit more accessible.

3. FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH Got Your Six

Ivan and the guys are back with another album chock full of hard hitting songs which will have you screaming along on the chorus. FFDP have the ability to hit you like a prize fighter one minute then ensure you land on a soft mattress the next, another impressive display from a band about to rise to the top.

4. GLORYHAMMER 1992: Rise Of The Chaos Wizards

More ridiculous power metal from the Gloryhammer boys. This time we have a space battle against the mighty wizard Zargothrax to contend with played out to a fantastic metal soundtrack. Oh, and again Crail and Anstruther get a mention, what’s not to like?

5. GHOST Melioria

Ghost are a band with the ability to split opinion, I like that in a band. This latest opus from the ghouls has headed further down the prog rock road than previous efforts and it’s all the better for it. Powerful, majestic and melodic, this record may not change opinions but it is an excellent listen.

Ghost play UK dates 12-21 December

Live Acts

1. RICKY WARWICK AND DAMON JOHNSON (May 2015)

Two men, two acoustic guitars. It doesn’t sound like much but when the two men are Ricky Warwick and Damon Johnson of Black Star Riders you are in for a special night.

Playing songs from their collective careers along with Thin Lizzy tracks and the odd cover version to a packed venue it was a magical combination. The sweat dripping from the ceiling at the rear of the hall said it all, 2 hours of the finest music and banter from two of the best in the business.

MOTLEY CRUE – Metro Arena, Newcastle, 2 November 2015

2.  MOTLEY CRUE/ALICE COOPER (November 2015)

This was one hell of a double bill. Alice was on full attack with hit after hit filling his allotted 50 minutes accompanied with the usual stageshow. With this being one of Crue’s last UK gigs it didn’t really matter that things were a bit off from time to time, this was the bad boys of rock playing their anthems one last time to a packed house. An explosive night in more ways than one, Crue said goodbye in style.

3. BLACK STAR RIDERS/EUROPE (March 2015)

Another top double bill with two sell out shows in Glasgow. I attended both nights and for me Black Star Riders stole the show. The band were in great form and kept the momentum going throughout their set. Europe also played well and the song choice was aimed to please, but with gaps in between the songs and chat from Joey Tempest it wasn’t as slick a set.

Black Star Riders play Xmas shows in the UK 11 and 17 December

4. DOWNLOAD (June 2015)

Another cracking line up with many highlights over the three days. The weather wasn’t great but the music more than made up for it with stand out performances from Clutch, FFDP, Judas Priest, Marilyn Manson and Motley Crue. A special mention must go to Ace Frehley who played a fantastic set, a personal highlight for me.

5. STATUS QUO (April 2015)

Acoustic Quo shouldn’t really have worked. The point of a Quo gig is the full on 12 bar blues attack to get the crowd up and bouncing along to the hits. However, the way that Parfitt and Rossi reworked their back catalogue to fit was stunning, especially with the string section added. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

Status Quo play UK dates 2-13 December

Worthy of mention/your attention

THE BLACKOUT  The Garage, Glasgow

This wasn’t the best show I have seen from the guys but it was significant as it was their second last gig ever. The guys had decided to call it a day, another victim of the fickle music business, and it was a night of mixed emotions for all. The sad loss of a talented and highly entertaining band.

Watch Out 2016!

KNOCK OUT KAINE – The guys have been building up a good following and with the release of their second album and a few high profile festival appearances this continues unabated. With another album due in 2016 hopefully the guys can cement their position in the bigger league.

The Best Of 2015


Top Melodic Rock Album

1.  FM Heroes And Villains
2.  ECLIPSE Armageddonize
3.  STRYPER Fallen


ANDY NATHAN

Albums

1.    THUNDER Wonder Days

The South Londoners step out of their comfort zone with a stunning comeback album with some of their most personal songs yet.

2.    TRIXTER Human Era

The one time boy wonders produce a storming album of uptempo melodic rock that deletes the current work of Bon Jovi and Van Halen.

3.    FM Heroes And Villains

Oone of the few bands to have come back better than ever, FM continue their hot streak with their most nakedly commercial album since the end of the eighties.

4.    ECLIPSE Armageddonize

Erik Martensson and his cohorts continue their hot streak with an album that is uncompromisingly heavy without losing that Swedish melodic sheen.

5.    STRYPER Fallen

Don’t let the Christian tag deter you from an album that blends Michael Sweet’s melodic vocals with a hard rocking twin guitar attack.

Scorpions - Ramblin' Man Fair, Maidstone, 25 July 2015

Live Acts

1.    RAMBLIN MAN FAIR Mote Park, Maidstone (July 2015)

It may not have been a commercial success but a perfect festival for classic rock fans, most notably on day 1 with the class of Blue Oyster Cult, a rollicking greatest hits set from Saxon and a spectacular stage set for the Scorpions’ first UK show in seven years.

2.    DOWNLOAD, Donington (Day 3) (June 2015)

Oone of the best festival days on UK soil for many a year, from rising stars like H.E.A.T. and Blackberry Smoke to a closing trio of Slash and Myles Kennedy with a smattering of G n R classics, Motley Crue and topped off by Kiss who still put on the biggest and best show.

3.    QUEEN (January 2015)

The flamboyant Adam Lambert rises to the impossible task of filling Freddie’s shoes to do justice to an arena show of some of the most loved songs in rock.

4.    BOB SEGER AND THE SILVER BULLET BAND (February 2015)

A ‘bucket list’ fulfilled as the 70 year old was still in fine voice and his heartland rock classics delivered by some great ensemble playing.

5.    FLEETWOOD MAC (June 2015)

The return of Christine McVie provides the missing piece to complement Buckingham and Nicks’ more maverick talents for a show to celebrate the Mac’s great legacy.

Watch Out 2016!

INGLORIOUS are a young band bringing a fresh slant to the classic hard rock sounds of vintage Deep Purple, Dio and Whitesnake, and after their unexpected breakthrough this year, expect KING KING‘s soulful, bluesy sounds to become a fixture on the scene.

The Best Of 2015


Steve Hackett chats to David Randall about Wolflight (March 2015)


STEVE HACKETT - Wolflight

ALAN JONES

Albums

1. STEVEN WILSON Hand. Cannot. Erase.

Forget all the hype. Forget all the sycophantic ravings in the music press. Forget his ubiquitousness.  If you just listen to his music it is absolutely inspired.

And nowhere more so than here, where the story of a young woman who died in her flat and was not found for three years is the basis of a concept album whose myriad of influences and peerless musicianship draw you in and refuse to let go.

Simply stunning.

Steven Wilson plays UK dates 25-30 January

2. RIVERSIDE Love, Fear and the Time Machine

The album that will surely elevate Riverside to their deserved place in the upper echelons of progressive rock royalty.

Eschewing their previous incursions into doom metal to give free rein to their more melancholic side (whilst still retaining a rock -bite- at its heart), main man Mariusz Duda has transferred the template from his side-project Lunatic Soul to deliver an atmospheric gem of an album.

As someone once said – to be a rock and not to roll…

3. STEVE HACKETT Wolflight

Fresh from his triumphs with the -Genesis Revisited- back catalogue, Steve returned to the day job with Wolflight – to universal acclaim.

And rightly so, as this combines everything that Hackett does best into one exceptional album – diverse influences, light and shade, and top-notch songwriting all underpinned by fretwork, both electric and acoustic, of the very highest calibre.

4. STEVE ROTHERY The Ghosts Of Pripyat

Instrumental albums have to be a bit special to get any attention, and guitarist ones in particular. One can only think of a few who truly pull it off – Joe Satriani, Ben Granfelt, Alan Morse spring to mind – but this effort from Marillion fretmeister Steve Rothery is definitely a bit special.

A brooding masterpiece of superlative musicianship, Rothery paints in music the alien landscape of the town of Pripyat, abandoned following the Chernobyl disaster – to stunning effect.

5. RICHARD THOMPSON Still

The pre-eminent singer/songwriter/guitarist of his generation, Thompson rarely fails to come up with the goods, but Still is, even by his standards, a fabulous album.

It gets your toes tapping along one minute to a throwaway ditty only to kick your legs away with the next track’s gut-wrenching desolation.

And with ‘Guitar Heroes’, a track where he name checks a few of his six-string influences, I defy you not to have a smile a mile wide when it’s done.

Thea Gilmore - Telford's Warehouse, Chester, 9 December 2014

Live Acts

1.  THEA GILMORE (November 2015)

A truly special night. A sold-out house packed with an enthusiastic crowd and an artist at the peak of her powers.

I don’t think her voice has ever sounded better and her interaction with the crowd was both skilful and comedic.

She still retains that slight shyness that she’s always had – a quite endearing quality considering how many gigs she’s played and an outward sign that she takes nothing for granted.

Of course, none of this would matter if the quality of the songs wasn’t up to the mark – but with the pick of fourteen immaculate albums to select from, this is never a problem for a woman who is probably the finest songwriter and performer of her generation.

Absolute magic.

2. Y&T (November 2015)

Absolutely fantastic night at The Tiv’ – one of THE finest American rock bands packed out the tiny venue and just rocked ’til we could stand no more.

They could have taken one look at the venue, played for 45 minutes and pissed off, but they didn’t – they played their hearts out for over two hours and, what’s more, had a great time doing it.

Dave Meniketti, described by Ronnie James Dio as the best vocalist on the planet, and rated by many as one of the finest guitar players around, is a brilliant frontman and his blistering fretwork was a joy to witness, never more so than with the anthemic solo of ‘I Believe In You’.

A top, top band still cutting it live.

3. IQ  (September 2015)

IQ have been at the forefront of British progressive rock since the mid-eighties but opportunities to see them live are few and far between.

They have a small, but devoted following, the Northern contingent of which turned out in force to sell out the Met – and they didn’t disappoint.

With their superb new album ‘Road Of Bones’ to promote, the band interspersed new tracks amid their more familiar back catalogue in an exceptional setlist that had the whole place jumping.

Peter Nicholls is a great frontman and the whole band were as tight as a gnat’s chuff – amazing when you think they only play a few gigs each year, less so when you realise just what consummate musicians they all are.

An easy crowd to please but they did it with skill, musicianship and not a little panache.

4. RIVERSIDE (October 2015)

Surely this is their moment? With everybody talking about the new album ‘Love, Fear and the Time Machine’ and with it even making the album chart (!), here was the perfect opportunity for Riverside to surf the wave and deliver a killer set.

They didn’t let us down. With a fair smattering of tracks from the new album spread amongst a ‘best of’ from their superb back catalogue, the enthusiastic crowd were left totally dazzled by a setlist that juxtaposed the powerful rock of tracks such as ‘Egoist Hedonist’ with the brooding melancholy of the likes of ‘Conceiving You’ and ‘Lost’.

Greatness beckons..

5. PANIC ROOM (May 2015)

One of those gigs where you go expecting to have a good time but on the night the band are so good and so ‘up for it’ that everyone leaves with a smile on their face.

Panic Room were well up for this and although the crowd could have been a bit bigger, a great atmosphere was generated between band and fans that carried the whole thing along on a wave of euphoria.

Anne-Marie Helder was just superb, as were the rest of the band – and new-boy on guitar, Dave Foster was simply the dog’s bollocks; definitely the impetus the band have been looking for to take them to the next level.

Still smiling when I think about it.

Watch Out 2016!

LION SHEPHERD

Polish / Iranian (yes, really) band who recently supported Riverside on tour. I invested in their album -Hiraeth- after seeing their set in Manchester and was blown away by its fabulous mix of Western rock infused with middle-Eastern rhythms and instrumentation.

Hopefully on the cusp of great things.

Alan Jones chooses the music in “The Eclectic Mix” on the third Sunday of the month on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

The Best Of 2015


The Pete Feenstra Feature – Walter Trout (8 November 2015) by Get Ready To Rock! Radio on Mixcloud

PETE FEENSTRA Rock & Blues Editor, Features Editor

Albums

1.  WALTER TROUT Battle Scars

Aside from fighting for his life, Walter Trout had a lot to prove on this comeback album. Where the previous album ‘The Blues Came Calling’ was the work of a man barely able to sing, ‘Battle Scars’ is an altogether different project, charting as it does his fight from the kind of ill health that is aptly reflected by the title of the opening ‘Almost Gone’, to the sense of redemption on ‘Gonna Live Again’.

In between there is the Walter Trout of old – big voice,  big toned licks and hugely personal weighty lyrics. It’s all there on the powerful ‘Omaha’, the funky groove of ‘Tomorrow Seems So Far Away’, the full band workout of ‘Playin’ Hideaway’ and the Willie Johnson inspired blues of ‘Cold, Cold Ground’. There can’t be a more powerful statement of rocking blues out there.

2.  THORBJORN RISAGER & THE BLACK TORNADO Songs From The Road

Thorbjorn topped my best album award last year and this year he returns with a double live CD/DVD set that confirms that his 10 piece band (expanded by three for the album), can indeed do the business live.

TR’s brusque baritone hovers perfectly above a pumping horn section and 2 bv’s as the DVD documents a band at the height of its powers in front of a enthusiastic German crowd.

The sheer power of the band hits you on the opening ‘If You Wanna Leave’, while they beguile us with the gentle groove of ‘Long Forgotten Track’. They hit bull’s-eye on the big band swing of ‘All I Want’ and rock out on the suitably titled ‘High Rolling’, on an album that sets a standard for live big band rocking blues.

3.   KING KING Reaching For The Light

Alan Nimmo tells us the album is ‘faster, louder, more energetic and more exciting’, and you can certainly feel the intensity coursing through the veins of 9 tracks, which with the exception of ‘Lay With Me’, flow eloquently over a series of interlocked grooves as thick as black syrup.

You could argue the they don’t rock hard enough for headbanger’s and don’t tick enough boxes for the blues police, but that would be to overlook the strength of their material.

They deliver in terms of intensity and song craft, as evidenced by the intro of ‘Rush Hour’ which has a timeless classic rock feel that could be either Bad Company or Thunder, while the single ‘Hurricane’ explores real rock intensity and the smouldering rock ballad ‘Take A Look’ builds impressively to a catchy hook.

This album live up to its title as the band fuse rock, blues, soul and funk to reach the next level.

4 MICHAEL SCHENKER’s TEMPLE OF ROCK Spirit on A Mission

I guess you can’t really have a yearly roundup without an out and out  rock album. Step right up Michael Schenker with his best album for years. ‘Spirit On A Mission is a mixture of blistering rock with tons of double drum beats from Herman Rarebell, inspired guitar work from MS,  some great co- writes with former Rainbow vocalist Dougie White who adds unblemished vocals.

The opening incendiary rock of  ‘Live & Let Live’ sets the standard for a fine hard rock album with a fine vocal, great guitar and a ripping rhythm track, while ‘Communion’ finds Michael exploring some fine tones either side of a big chorus.

‘Rock City’ is another anthem in the making, but best of all is the more complex  ‘Saviour Machine which starts off very heavily and with a mock Plant style wail but develops into a piece with unexpected substance.  An unexpected breakdown ushers in choral voices before a sumptuous solo from Schenker and a big finish.

For those about to rock, it’s time to rediscover Michael Schenker!

5= LAURENCE JONES What’s It Gonna Be

It’s a measure of Laurence’s maturity that he left the 2015 European Blues Awards empty handed having just played one of the gigs of his life, but rather than complain he headed into the studio to cut the best album of his career.

Self produced with 6 string bass player Roger Innis, this is a vibrant album full of snap, vim and vigour. It bristles with telepathic interplay, burning solos, booming hooks, lyrical depth and the best vocals of his career. Check out the rocking title track, the booming shuffle ‘Evil’ , the beautifully crafted duet with Sandy Thom on ‘Don’t Look Back’, and the rocking finish with ‘Stop Moving The House’, and you realize you are listening to a major talent on young shoulders.

5=  CHANTEL MCGREGOR Lose Control

Good to have another Brit rock album on the yearly roundup. ‘Lose Control’ is Chantel’s unique Southern Gothic vision. It’s a style derived from films, music, photos and literature and she transform all of those strands into a big sounding, guitar driven  sonic landscape.

‘Lose Control’ incorporates familiar rock styles such as metal, grunge and prog into something that is uniquely her own. Highlights include the booming chorus of ‘Burn Your Anger’, the riff driven ‘Southern Belle’ and ‘Walk On Land’, an epic guitar piece that concludes a compelling, diverse rock album by one of the most original performers of our time.

Chantel plays UK dates 12-17 December

Worthy of mention/your attention

THE MENTULLS Reflections (ProgBlues Music)

Live Acts

 1. VINTAGE TROUBLE  (November 2015)

Perhaps the hardest thing to do in what’s left of today’s rock scene is to be exciting, relevant and original. And while the US/Danish outfit may not play the most of original of set – their own high octane material and contrasting ballads is a refreshing take on soulful rock & roll – they deliver with such joy and vivacity that you would have to be a  jaded hack not to buy into the band’s joy de vivre.

Frontman Ty Taylor is a human dynamo with a great voice, incredible stage presence and a sense of occasion. His shit kicking band back him all he way on essential rockers like ‘Blues Hand Me Down’, the stones influenced ‘Angel City, California’  and the climactic ‘Run Like The River’. Absolutely stonking!

2=  LEAD BELLY FEST (June 2015)

Truth be told this show was great in parts, but the best bits made it all worth while, starting with a couple of deeply moving standing ovations for Walter Trout, who once he quelled his tears tore into some blistering rock blues as if he’d never been away.

Eric Bibb brings real presence and Ruby Turner touches our souls, while British invaders Paul Jones and Chris Barber still have fire in their bellies, while Billy Bragg no less reminds us of the excitement of early skiffle.

Eric Burdon snarls and stomps and tries his best to rediscover his raucous vocal, but it’s left to Van Morrison to remind us all that even if he’d rather be somewhere else his timeless white boy soul voice still defines an era.

2=  WALTER TROUT (November 2015)

It would have been a travesty to omit this gig from the list as with the exception of the Vintage Trouble gig above,  I can’t remember such an animated audience.

Trout’s comeback show delivers in spades, alongside special guests including his son Jon, Brit blues-rocker Danny Bryant and the startling falsetto of Andrew Elt.

With former Slash bass player Johnny Griparic in the ranks, Trout’s band is pushed to the limit as their leader somehow transforms his songs about successfully overcoming a liver transplant into barn burning blues-rockers that will live long in the memory

3. GLENN HUGHES (November 2015)

Who would have imagined that having survived the break up of two supergroups and having overcome serious health problems Glenn Hughes would bounce back without an album, but with a killer power trio in front of his biggest London crowd for years.

In truth this powerhouse show is a restatement of his rock credentials as he revisits his own back catalogue, taking in Trapeze, Purple, BCC and more. His version of ‘Mistreated’ might well have been a comment on his recent attempts to quell quarrelling egos.

It’s great to have him back in rock mode and alongside Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich and he fires on all cylinders as if his life depends on it, what more could we ask for?

4. BETH HART (May 2015)

This Barbican show is a defining moment of Beth Hart’s  burgeoning career. She takes to the big stage as if performing in your front living room, safe in the knowledge that she has both the vocal range and lyrical weight to commune with her enthusiastic audience.

She rocks out on the ‘call and response’ profanity of ‘Trouble (Give Me My Money Back’) nails a gutsy ‘Nutbush City Limits’, before capturing the moment on a spell binding ‘St. Teresa’ and she extends her vibrato on the equally magnificent ‘Mechanical Heart’.

Tonight Beth Hart is  the queen of the blues, soul and rock & roll and on the evidence of this set she’s going to be keeping her crown for years to come.

Beth plays Islington, Union Chapel on 14 December

5.  MIKE ZITO & THE WHEEL & MIKE BROOKFIELD BAND (November 2015)

Last year Mike Zito impressed us all with a double header with Samantha Fish and this year he returned with his own band, a brand new album and a show that took in rock, blues, soul and Americana,. the evening is underpinned by a voice that has been passed down by John Fogerty and the set is driven by a magnificent rhythm section.

Special support came from Dublin-based Mike Brookfield Band who follows up his fine debut album with a live show that showcases his wide range of talents – great songs, marvellous guitar and real stage presence. His jam with Zito is worth the money alone.

Watch Out 2016!

MIKE BROOKFIELD: Championed by the likes of former Rory Gallagher producer Alan O’Duffey and guitar effects guru Roger Mayer, Mike Brookfield has a lot to live up to.

He does so effortlessly with a fluid guitar style, memorable hooks and a great power trio that makes a splash with very strong material. It’s all there on his debut ‘Love Breaks the Fall’ album.  The title track is stylish rock-blues, while he evokes Alvin Lee on ‘All My Heroes Are Junkies’ and explores a beautiful tone over time and space on the magical ‘Peace For Joe’.

Trust me, this is a good album, go out and buy it, and try and see the band live.

RAINBREAKERS:  So much about this band suggest they are Welsh – the vocals, the sub pop psychedelia and even a Micky Jones (Man) style Gibson SG, but the Rainbreakers plot their own course with an accessible crossover style that shifts from deep funky grooves to full on rock via gently nuanced retro influences, which they subtly incorporate into their totally convincing set. Think guitar-driven west coast influenced rock. File under up and coming!

THE DGB: Danny Giles is a powerhouse guitar slinger who has finally outgrown comparisons with the late Dimebag Darrell with his own block busting ‘More Is More’ album. It’s a classic hard rock album full of blistering rock, cranked up solos, big hooks and a huge production for an independent release.

Together with bass player Jon Chase and drummer/producer Pat Garvey, DGB rock out from the opening ‘Won’t Let Love’, through the intricately woven ‘Shiver’, to the powerhouse finish of ‘Wait For Me Mama’ – complete with Garvey’s pounding drum pattern.

The DGB really mean business, rock never sounded so vital.

DAN PATLANSKY:  The South African’s London debut show at the Borderline set a high standard which his subsequent appearance with Joe Satriani at the Hammersmith Odeon couldn’t quite match.

No matter, Patlansky is a bonafide rocker with steely riffs, great hooks and wide ranging material that will doubtless ingratiate him with rock and blues audiences alike.  Check out his current album ‘Dear Silence Thieves’  as evidence of a talent in the making.

SAMANTHA FISH: I couldn’t leave her out , not after her stellar shows at the Borderline and Boom Boom Club. Within a week of those shows she was number #1 on the Billboard blues charts. Catch her live and you will find out why. She’s a seasoned songwriter, great guitarist and expressive singer who crosses over from rock to blues and alt country. Tip for the top!

Pete Feenstra presents the Rock & Blues Show (Tuesdays 19:00) and The Pete Feenstra Feature (Sundays 19:00) on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

The Best Of 2015


Top Blues Rock Album

1.  KING KING Reaching For The Light
2.  LAURENCE JONES What’s It Gonna Be
3.  WALTER TROUT Battle Scars


UFO - A Conspiracy Of Stars

DAVID RANDALL Managing Editor

Albums

1.  UFO A Conspiracy Of Stars

Heavy rock doesn’t sound much better.  From a band that started out in 1969, incredible.

2.  TOTO XIV

Sadly I didn’t get to see their UK shows this year, but the album perfectly blends the old and the new making them totally relevant again.  ‘Fortune’ in particular is quite wonderful and – whilst we all knew there were prog elements – ‘Great Expectations’ takes Toto to new heights.

3.  THE MANIC SHINE Trial And Triumph

A superb album that grabs you by the unmentionables, with that winning blend of momentum and memorable tunes, with gut-churning riffage aplenty.

4.  JETTBLACK Disguises

A consistently good hard rock album that deserves a wider audience and a real step forward from previous.  Heavy riffage and irresistible traction.

5.  VOODOO HILL Waterfall

Given that Glenn Hughes is at last returning to his solo career, it is perhaps ironic that one of his best recent outings is Voodoo Hill, a collaboration with Italian guitarist Dario Mollo.  Forget the noise abomination that was California Breed, this is a superb set of classic hard rock tunes emoted by a voice that still shines.

Worthy  of mention/your attention

JOE SATRIANI – Shockwave Supernova
A consistent offering, and still setting the bar far too high for budding guitarists
JOEL HOEKSTRA’s 13 – Dying To Live
Now with Whitesnake, the Night Ranger guitarist’s first solo album features some great tunes, and A-list collaborators.
SOTO Inside The Vertigo
Jeff Scott Soto’s band album and worthy of far more attention than it may have received.  Melodic heavy rock at its best and with enough Soto style to carry along even the most stubborn fan.

The Tubes - Club Academy, Manchester, 8 August 2015

The Tubes Anniversary Special (Part 1) – 28 June 2015 by Get Ready To Rock! Radio on Mixcloud

Live Acts

1. THE TUBES (August 2015)

Unbridled entertainment from start to finish. A wonderful 30th anniversary celebration of an enduring band and although more economical than the 1970s arguably more engaging than in their heyday.

2.  DAN REED NETWORK  (October 2015)

The return of DRN is another cause for celebration and in small-but-perfectly-formed surroundings an object lesson in memorable songs and musicianship.  It wasn’t all bad in the latter days of hair metal and DRN always did things with a funky, compelling twist.

Dan Reed Network return to the UK in March 2016 with guests Tyketto

3.  RENAISSANCE  (April 2015)

A unique and rarified experience.  Annie Haslam still has the voice of an angel and the band deftly recreated some of symphonic rock’s  best moments.

4.  STEVE HACKETT (October 2015)

Perhaps not as much solo stuff as we had expected, given the tour billing, but the gig of two halves allowed further exploration of the Genesis songbook.  Perfectly staged and executed.

5.  CURVED AIR (April 2015)

With an excellent album to promote (‘North Star’) re-energized art-rock legends delighted and surprised in equal measure.

Worthy of mention

Y&T – two solid hours of melodic hard rock heaven

Watch Out 2016!

If they can build on their latest album THE MANIC SHINE may keep on an upward trajectory and the same for JETTBLACK who also need to build on their excellent third album.  Bluesy rockers BUCK & EVANS may also be ones to watch out for with a debut album due in 2016.

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ (Sundays 22:00) and ‘New to GRTR!’ (Sundays 21:00) on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio.

David presents ‘Best of 2015′ on Sunday 27 December at 22:00 GMT.

The Best Of 2015


Top Progressive Album

1.  STEVE ROTHERY The Ghosts Of Pripyat
2.  LONELY ROBOT Please Come Home
3.  STEVE HACKETT Wolflight


PANIC ROOM - Essence

PETE WHALLEY

Albums

STEVE ROTHERY The Ghosts Of Pripyat

Forget ‘Rattle That Lock’, a staggeringly brilliant balance of poise and power.

RENAISSANCE Symphony Of Light 

The perfect bookend, 40 years on, to 1974′s Turn Of The Cards.  Heavenly.

PANIC ROOM Essence

Semi acoustic re-workings that ooze pizazz.

UFO A Conspiracy Of Stars

Big guitars, big riffs, big hooks – get ready to rock!

JUDIE TZUKE Song Club Part II

These may only be works in progress, but they’re a cut above most artists’ finished products.

Live Acts

THE TUBES (August 2015)

Fantastic songs, brilliantly played, and in Fee Waybill one of the most charismatic frontmen in the business.  Gigs don’t come any more entertaining than this.  Irrepressible.

RENAISSANCE (April 2015)

Annie Haslam may be 68, but she sings and acts like 28.  Legendary.

PANIC ROOM (May 2015)

The addition of guitarist Dave Foster looks like a masterstroke, and their half acoustic/ half electric ‘Wildfire’ set a delightful balance.

STEVE HACKETT (October 2015)

Solo and Genesis re-visited.  Masterful. I Know What I Like.

JUDIE TZUKE (May 2015)

Songs and stories – intimate, enchanting and acoustic, she just keeps getting better.

Jude plays Windlesham Theatre, Windlesham, 5 December

The Best Of 2015


Devil City Angels

NIKK GUNNS

Albums

DEVIL CITY ANGELS S/T

Great supergroup made up of members from Cinderella, Poison and L.A Guns. The album had a lot to live up to and they have certainly pulled it off.

THIRSTY S/T

Musically, there are Stones like moments, some great flourishes of ’60′s soul and each of the 10 songs contained on Thirsty has a story to tell, and each is perfectly wrapped up in a ball of joy lasting 3 minutes or less.

DEF LEPPARD S/T

Hailed by some as their best album since Hysteria, this isn’t actually a bad description, a cracking album that will not leave my CD player for a while.

Def Leppard tour in the UK with Whitesnake and Black Star Riders, 6-19 December

BACKYARD BABIES Four By Four

The bands long awaited comeback album, and first in seven years, is just nine songs long but worth every minute.

EUROPE War of Kings

Stunning effort from Europe, it’s as if all there recent albums have been building to this one.

Worthy of mention/your attention

Hellbros – Hellbros, Blackberry Smoke – Holding All The Roses, Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers reissue, Dead Daisies – Revolucion and Black Star Riders – The Killer Instinct

Live Acts

SIN CITY SINNERS (January 2015) My first gig of the year and a good start.

EUROPE/Black Star Riders (March 2015) Great double bill and both bands played a blinder.

DOWNLOAD (Sunday) – Another strong line up, the best of the bunch on the day? Backyard Babies, Motley Crue, Dead Daisies, Billy Idol, Slash and Blackberry Smoke.

ELECTRIC BOYS The Legends of Rock Originals – Great live set in a smaller venue, set up the rest of the UK tour nicely.

MOTLEY CRUE (November 2015) The last two UK shows, I thought Birmingham was good but two days later at Wembley was another level.  A sad but fitting farewell.

Watch Out 2016!

CLOSE QUARTERS: With Always A Lot, Never Little, Close Quarters have created a near perfect Scandinavian glam rock album that is not overly reliant on the sleaze factor – and that is what will set them apart from the majority of bands in the genre.

The Best Of 2015


TASTE - What's Going On - Live At The Isle Of Wight

SIMON DUNKERLEY Chief Photographer at Large

Albums

SCREAMING EAGLES Stand Up To Be Counted

The Belfast rockers are putting the Rock back into Rock and Roll with their second album based on the high riffage hard hitting formula that made ‘From The Flames’ a great success.

TASTE What’s Going On – Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970

Simply the best performance of Rory Gallagher you are going to see and hear, finally all the recorded material from Taste released on both album and DVD. Its got the raw power and passion that maybe he lost in the later years but seeing him like this you can see where it all came from and why he was loved by so many.

THE ANSWER Raise A Little Hell

The lastest release from the NI boys and the album they wanted to release when they were given free reign and it shows. Powerful lyrics and great rocky tracks.

MOTORHEAD Bad Magic

Well I know its probably Jack Daniels that keeps him going but the living legend that is Lemmy keeps banging out the albums and getting it just right, Bad Magic hits the spot, maybe his last but Lemmy will go out playing bass.

Motorhead play UK dates with Saxon, 23-30 January 2016

LAURENCE JONES Whats It Gonna Be

This guys lives and breathes the blues and it show in his live performances and also in this his third long player. Simply stunning natural playing that oozes style and passion.

Dee Snider - STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL Day 2 - Ebbw Vale, South Wales, 26 July 2015

Live Acts

DEE SNIDER Steelhouse Festival (July 2015)

Dee bought the festival to an end with an amazingly energetic set of all his hits showing how to do it right, the last time I saw him was back in 1983 at Monsters of Rock and he was just a s good now, if not better.

HERE AND NOW Off The Tracks Festival
A band Ive wanted to see for many year now and finally at OTT I got to see them, only 1 orignal member but with timeless tracks it was a a thrill to watch them.

THE NORDIC GIANTS (May 2015)

They mix self-made short films with strobed lighting and dymanic music to attack all the senses at once. The music itself is definately the proggy side of rock but they music alone is only poart of the show. At somewhere like The Contemporary with its high industrial stark room the reflections and shadows immerse the audience in the whole event.

CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL (August 2015)

This year was immense so many great performances from the old school like Peggy Seeger and Joan Baez and also the young upstarts like Skinny Lister and The Ben Miller Band.

SICK OF IT ALL (February 2015)

Hardcore rock from the 90′s, these guys kicked out a great set hich was so energy packed the Soundcontrol barely made it through the show.

Watch Out 2016!

EIGHT ROUNDS RAPID: Canvey Island Punk Rock and Roll with a modern twist on
the vocals.

RED SPEKTOR: Stoke-based 70′s psychedelic stoner rock who have recently signed to Kozmik Artifactz and are due to release their first album.

MASSIVE WAGGONS: One of the many Off Yer Rocka Bands who are due to release a new album in the New Year. They have been hammering out some great shows recently and look to be taking it through to next year.

The Best Of 2015


DAVE ATKINSON

Albums

JUPITER FALLS  Revolution

A stunning debut from these Yorkshire hard rockers. ‘Revolution’ is a confident, varied album of quality tunes, strong performances and massive promise. Well worked songs laced with seismic riffs, killer solos and a splintering vocals. More please.

PARADISE LOST   The Plague Within

A massive return to form for the Halifax doom/goth metallers. This is right up there with their ’95 epic Draconian Times. The intervening 20 years (count ‘em) have been a mixed bag, but ‘The Plague Within’ is a crushingly intense experience with no room for fillers or synth loops. Masterful.

THUNDER   Wonder Days

The band’s first outing in six years is chock-full of hearty riffs and well-penned songs that mix blues, rock ‘n’ roll and soul in Thunder’s own inimitable style. There’s sentiment here as well as high-octane power. Most importantly, the swagger is back. Long may it stay.

BLACKBERRY SMOKE  Holding All The Roses

Holding All The Roses boasts a cohesive, clear sound that loses nothing of the band’s signature infectious southern rock/boogie/country mash up. Guitars, fiddles and strings all find room to breathe in loose compositions and assured production. This is a fine album.

FAITH NO MORE  Sol Invictus

After a hiatus of 18 years, Faith No More are back. And how. The rage of vocalist Mike Patton has not subsided and the musical brain of Roddy Bottum has not dulled. This is, by turns, viscous, mocking, theatrical, surprising, annoying and brilliant.

JOE BONAMASSA - Nottingham, Capital FM Arena, 25 October 2015

Live Acts

JOE BONAMASSA (October 2015)

Bonamassa’s sharp suit, slick hair and showbiz shaded eyes belie the passion and feeling he wrings from his instrument. As when he writhes over his axe like a dementer, faced screwed up like a pug’s. Nobody chucks such a high-spec ceramic kitchen sink at every solo like this upstate New Yorker. He means every plaintive, gutteral, pure, sweet, brutal note he picks out.

KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD (April 2015)

A tremendously entertaining gig. Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s brand of blues power is full of glitzy one-hand shuffles and dextrous shifts. But he can take things down to show his touch, feel, melody and poignancy as well. Chuck in the virtuosity, technical range and spiralling solos and you have a pretty solid package.

THE STRANGLERS

I had never seen the meninblack before and I was not disappointed. The band never missed a beat in an unrelenting sweep of sound that dipped into all the obvious nooks and less-well trodden crannies of their diverse career. Within the first half dozen tracks the band had explored (at the very least) art rock, psychedelia, progressive and gothic.

UFO (April 2015)

As a lifelong UFO fan, and having seen them at various peaks and troughs over the years, I am a harsh critic.  For me, the 2015 vintage was well up to scratch. There was a confidence in the newer material and a more adventurous set list. Rob De Luca’s bass gave a new twist to old classics. And even Phil Mogg seemed more sarcastically content than ever.

SONGHOY BLUES

Malian desert blues in South Camden. This gig was a furious blend of West African rhythms welded to western blues delivered in compelling  bursts. The guitar set up had some interesting shades of Hendrix. Then they ran out of songs and so played the superb ‘Soubour’ three times. Infectious.

Watch Out 2016!

BEN POOLE
Very talented blues guitarist seen recently treading the boards with King King. Ben Poole’s husky voice and scintillating playing are surely due a proper breakthrough in 2016.

The Best Of 2015


MARK SHAW

Albums

PHIL COLLEN Delta Deep

Great album from an artist better known for his “other” band but who shows great maturity and respect for blues music’s origins in his interpretation. Hand-picked good musicians too – all-in-all, a great solo offering.

Live Acts

VINTAGE TROUBLE (November 2015)

Saw three this year, two in London and one support show in Monaco where they kicked headliner Lenny Kravitz’ backside up, down and sideways. Probably the best live band on the circuit today – catch them before they start headlining arenas !

Watch Out 2016!

THE JOKERS – hailing from the North West of England – now three albums in and building nicely….combining real sweat, swagger and, most importantly, the songs…surely destined to break onto bigger stages soon.

VOODOO VEGAS – putting Bournemouth on the metal map, hard-working crowd-pleasers. Venom, grooves and guts a-plenty.

The Best Of 2015


Iron Maiden - Book Of Souls

NICK VAN DER MEULEN

Albums

1.    POODLES  Devil In The Details

The Poodles again deliver upbeat, melodic Scandi-rock of the highest order.  Always a winner to get your mood up after a tough day…which led me to always come back to listen throughout the year.

2.    IRON MAIDEN The Book Of Souls

This will top most people’s “Best of” lists: marathon listening required with supreme songwriting skills and performances from all band members. I discovered many influences from their 80′s albums, which is no bad thing.

3.    THUNDER Wonder Days

A welcome reunion from one of the U.K.’s most underrated bands and the quality of this release doesn’t disappoint.

4.    AMMUNITION Shanghaied

I was very disappointed to hear of Wig Wam’s demise, but Ammunition more than makes up for it.  Heavy riffing, melodic and Age Sten Nilsen is in fine fettle.  Buy it if you see it.

5.    ECLIPSE Armageddonize

Maybe not as heavy as its predecessor, “Armageddonize” is still uber melodic, with some fine sing-along melodies.

Live Acts

1.    SCORPIONS/Whitesnake (Zurich)

Honestly, I see them three days after I have to submit my opinion for this year, but it’s my two favourite bands of all time on one billing…

2.    THUNDER (Pratteln)

They reformed, brought out a stunning new album and rocked the house in Switzerland.  We sang, we screamed, we cried, we danced…a truly memorable show.

3.    POODLES (Pratteln & Wetzikon)

The Swedish rockers hit our vicinity twice in one week and I was fortunate to present for both gigs.  They were intimate venues and the band was superb on both nights.  They had a meet and greet after the show in Wetzikon and they are down-to-earth lads…of the nicest guys on the rock scene.  They deserve your support.

4.    W.A.S.P. (Pratteln)

Holy sh*t… I saw Blackie Lawless live!  It was an incredible show and the band had the crowd at their feet.  Blackie sounded better than ever and I can say the three songs performed from the new album (“Golgotha”…an honourable mention in my top choices for 2015) sounded better live than in the studio.

5.    AC/DC (Zurich)

My first time seeing these rock legends live.  Great show…no bullsh*t rock ‘n roll delivered as only AC/DC can.  Angus can still pull off his guitar stunts on stage.  Relentless.

The Best Of 2015


DARREN GRIFFITHS Photographer

Albums

1.  FM Heroes and Villains
2. KING KING Reaching For The Light
3. REVOLUTION SAINTS
4. BLACK STAR RIDERS The Killer Instinct
5. STRYPER Fallen

KING KING - Jazz Cafe, London, 6 May 2015

Gigs

1. HARD ROCK HELL AOR (March 2015)
2. KING KING  (February 2015)
3. GUN (October 2015 )
4. FM (November 2015 )
5. RIVAL SONS (March 2015)

Watch Out 2016!

THE KING LOT
INGLORIOUS

The Best Of 2015


Blackberry Smoke - Holding All The Roses

DARRAN SCOTT Photographer

Albums

FOALS What Went Down

Great album, the foals may have changed their style and sound but still as good as their other albums. Hitting you at full speed and not slowing down.

BLACKBERRY SMOKE Holding All The Roses

Their strongest effort so far, an album from a band definitely in their stride embracing all the musical elements that have clearly had an influence on them.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE How Big How Blue How Beautiful

A genuinely great album from Britains queen of indie rock. In every bad situatio there is something good. Florence suffering a bad emotional episode that has influenced several of the tracks on here.

AC/DC Rock Or Bust

Still rock solid despite the absence of two key members but after 40 years still rocking as hard as ever.

IAN ANDERSON (JETHRO TULL) - The Lowry, Salford, 14 September 2015

Gigs

AC/DC (July 2015)

A personal once in a lifetime experience for me. Angus stole the show, slowly disrobing and hypnotising the huge crowd with his masterfull guitar playing. He really needed a bigger stage.

IAN ANDERSON (September 2015)

A semi operatic interactive show from Ian and the boys celebrating the life and times of the agricultural inventor Jethro Tull.

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE (September 2015)

Barefoot, red hair flying, spinning around like a music top ballerina. Fantastic.

Watch Out 2016!

THE RECORD COMPANY: CD release early next year and made a great impression supporting Blackberry Smoke.

The Best Of 2015

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Power Plays w/c 9 October


ALMANAC Losing My Mind (Nuclear Blast)
TRIGGERFINGER Colossus (Mascot)
MIKE PETERS & THE ALARM Heroine (indie)
WICKED STONE Another Round (indie)
FOZZY Judas (Sony Music)


Featured Albums w/c 9 October (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 DANTE FOX Six String Revolver (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 FOZZY Judas (Sony Music)
14:00-16:00 JARROD DICKENSON Ready The Horses (Decca)



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