Quick plays: EMPIRE, LAST BULLET, TOM RUSSELL, DICK

EMPIRE - The Raven Ride

EMPIRE The Raven Ride Pride & Joy Music [Release date 18.08.17]

Pride & Joy Music continue their Empire re-issues and here we have the band’s third album which was originally released in 2006. Former Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin sang again on this one, with fellow former Sabbath band mate Neil Murray joining main man Rolf Munkes and drummer André Hilgers.

‘The Raven Ride’ really does remind you of Martin era Sabbath around ‘The Headless Cross’ and ‘Tyr’ albums, as Munkes lays down seriously heavy riffs and slow burning solos. ‘What Would I Do’ being a prime example of this and the keyboards are used to menacing effect on ‘Changing World’.

Empire have never really delivered a duff album in their four albums to date. Well worth investigating if you haven’t previously, Empire will delight those who enjoyed Tony Martin fronted Sabbath. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

LAST BULLET 80-69-64 [Release date 19.07.17]

Hailing from Toronto, Canada five piece Live Bullet have appeared with the likes of Bryan Adams, Styx, Jane’s Addiction and many more.

They play a mix of Velvet Revolver and a little Soundgarden influence, and very good they are too. ‘Smoke & Ashes’ drips with venom, the singing and low down & dirty guitar really make this song. ‘Little Miss Filthy’ sounds like Guns ‘N’ Roses if they have a little grunge in them – sounds like it shouldn’t work but it does. ‘Sin’ is a monster tune, strong chorus and a tip of the hat vocally to Velvet Revolver.

Five songs, all waiting to be cranked up and enjoyed by you.  ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

TOM RUSSELL Folk Hotel

TOM RUSSELL Folk Hotel Proper Records [Release date 08.09.17]

Tom Russell has recorded 27 studio albums to date having been recording and touring since the mid-1970′s. His 2015 album, ‘The Rose of Roscrae’ won ‘Mojo’ magazine’s Folk Album of the Year.

He has an easy on the ear storytelling vocal, not unlike Johnny Cash, an artist who has covered Tom Russell’s songs. Musically he mixes country, folk, Tex-Mex and more, each song telling an intriguing tale whether it be about Dylan Thomas on ‘The Sparrow Of Swansea’ or the spoken word intro on ‘All On A Belfast Morning’, where you can picture the scene thanks to Russell’s descriptive lyrics. Indeed his menacing, yet mesmerising voice would suit any manner of voice overs on films. Lovely version of Bob Dylan’s ‘Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues’ that features a duet with Joe Ely and Joel Guzman on Tex-Mex accordion, wonderful stuff.

Easy to see why he wins awards and plaudits as his songs are entertaining, thought provoking and have longevity. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

JUANITA STEIN America

JUANITA STEIN America Nude Records [Release date 28.07.17]

Juanita Stein formed the Howling Bells with her brother Joel in 2004 and ‘America’ marks her debut solo release. The album is her ode to the dark heart of America, mainly drawing inspiration from the 50′s and 60′s.

The album opens with ‘Florence’, based on Florence Owens Thompson who was photographed during the Great Depression by photographer Dorothea Langue. Florence wanted the best for her children and the song reflects on the hardship and struggles of that time, still sadly relevant in today’s society. Elsewhere she covers love on ‘I’ll Cry’ and her ethereal vocals float in and out on ‘Stargazer’. A very laid back, a times trippy album, full of lush arrangements all topped by Juanita’s memorable singing. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

DICK Dangerous Dreams www.dickmusicblog.wordpress.com

The first thing you have to say about this album is “really nice cover, pity about the moniker”.  Perhaps calling yourself Dick means something else in Finnish?

Dick is Jaako Soimakallio so maybe the moniker at least trots off the tongue.  The music?  Well, Jaako/Dick pays his dues to early Genesis, especially on the attractive instrumental ‘Winter Ghost’.

Elsewhere, Dick/Jaako’s vocals may grate a little and he may have been better employing a dedicated vocalist with a more Anglo-American intonation.

It’s not all Genesis/prog and a track like ‘Woman’ comes with a meaty riff but to be honest the vocals are a tad irritating throughout and the general vibe is a paler version of Steve Harley/Cockney Rebel.

Dick/Jaako has evidently digested a diet of 1970s prog and art rock.  Nothing wrong with that, and there’s potential here,  and certainly nothing that a good producer and vocalist couldn’t sort.  ***

Review by David Randall


David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 2 August 2020.

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Featured Albums w/c 3 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 LIONVILLE Magic Is Alive (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 MAD MAX Stormchild Rising (SPV)
14:00-16:00 MARY COUGHLAN Life Stories (2020)

Power Plays w/c 3 August (Mon-Fri)

SOUTH OF SALEM Cold Day In Hell (indie)
BLACK LESION Sins (indie)
CAROLINE JONES All Of The Boys (Social Family Records)
BLACK SUN Resist (Rockshot Records)
THE JAILBIRDS Dull My Brain (Golden Robot Records)
FROM ASHES TO NEW Scars That I’m Hiding (Better Noise Records)
THE GEORGIA THUNDERBOLTS Spirit Of A Workin’ Man (Mascot)
THE BEAUTY OF GEMINA Apologise (TBOG Music)



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