Click here for the GRTR! reviewers’ Best of 2016 selections
Jason Ritchie (News & Reviews Editor)
Getting the music out there …
Jason’s classic rock ‘Newswire’ started in June 2002 and grew rapidly, ultimately absorbed in his GRTR! interests. Since 2002 he has been the major contributor to GRTR!
“I love all forms of music (well bar dance and most jazz) and for me it’s the melody that counts. If a song has a strong melody than I am hooked!
That said I have always had a soft spot for melodic rock/AOR from the late 70’s/80’s greats such as Journey, Survivor, Styx, Kansas, Night Ranger, Lillian Axe, Bon Jovi, Magnum and REO Speedwagon through to the 90’s bands like Harem Scarem and Crown Of Thorns.
Right now there are some wonderful new bands harking back to the 80’s sound but with modern production values like Brother Firetribe, H.E.A.T. the Poodles and Wig Wam.
I love music, always have, and I thought I’d follow my dream of writing about music and hopefully some other like-minded souls would enjoy it as well. For me GRTR! is all about getting the music known and out there for people to hear and enjoy.”
Favourite bands: Queen, ELO, Judas Priest, Magnum & Journey
David Randall (Managing Editor)
Fed up listening to Top 40 Radio …
David contributed features about Focus to ‘Record Collector’ magazine, coordinated two tours for Jan Akkerman, and authored ‘In And Out Of Focus – the music of Jan Akkerman and Focus’ in 2003.
Launching GRTR! in 2002, he built on his experience gained with the online music retailer The Music Index and in web management, including various artist and label sites.
He is heavily involved in Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, the online radio channel, and since 2008 has developed the programming to complement the website content at Get Ready to ROCK!
“I get fed up listening to Top 40 or formula-based radio, GRTR! Radio aims to cover a broader spectrum but still under the classic rock banner. Listeners like to hear familiar artists but we’re offering their less familiar output too, as well as giving an outlet to new, independent and the established artists who don’t always get an airing on conventional radio.”
Favourite artists: Europe, Focus, Marillion, Magnum, Jethro Tull, Winger, Judie Tzuke
David also contributes ‘Assume The Position’ and ‘New to GRTR!’ to GRTR! Radio.
David Wilson (Live Editor)
His children tell him to “turn it down”
I have BBC’s legendary sports programme ‘Grandstand’ to thank for my love of rock. Sitting one Saturday afternoon with my brother, they were showing footage of some sport or other, marathon running I think, but that’s not important, what was of greater interest was the accompanying music. It turned out to be ‘Ripples’ by Genesis. This led to my brother persuading my parents to buy the then newly released ‘…And Then There Were Three’ and there was no looking back.
Genesis was also my first live experience, Edinburgh in 1982, again in tow with my brother, and what a show it was.
A few months later that I finally braved a gig on my own and this one really left its mark, Iron Maiden on the World Piece Tour ably supported by the excellent Grand Prix (Edinburgh Playhouse, Friday 13th May 1983, Row K, seat 50, told you it left its mark!)
Over the years I have been lucky enough to see all the major rock bands, apart from AC/DC for various reasons, attend fantastic festivals and meet various bands, some being absolute gents ( Ronnie Dio and Anthrax spring to mind) and some I would rather forget (step forward Ritchie Blackmore!).
Away from music, I have a wonderful wife who luckily shares my love of rock and four fantastic children who put up with their parents playing Motorhead et al, at great volume. Usually it is the parents telling the children to turn it down, but not in our household !.
Staying in Central Scotland we are only 40 minutes from Edinburgh and Glasgow which gives us great access to all the major venues, which we regularly take advantage of, so hopefully I can give you a flavour of the Scottish audiences, which haven’t changed since the old Glasgow Apollo days when, if the band played well, the crowd would take them to their hearts and success was assured, but if they were bad they had to be fast runners.
Maybe that’s where the marathon theme came from on Grandstand that day ?
Favourite Bands – Iron Maiden, Rush, Kiss, Judas Priest, Metallica, REO Speedwagon, Journey, Marillion/ Fish, Genesis, Slayer – in fact, anything that rocks.
Pete Feenstra (Features Editor & Blues Rock Editor)
Still clinging on to good music …
Pete is our resident blues to rock expert and was born in 1954 in Rotterdam. Got into music in 1963 after seeing Alexis Korner on Five O’Clock Club with Ollie Beak, and then the Beatles came along!
Pete bought his first three singles for ‘six and eight’ each by The Beatles, Billy Fury and The Tornado’s, and subsequently got into Prog rock, via Groundhogs, Jethro Tull, Man, Zappa and all things West Coast.
Graduated in Politics and literally hit the road with advent of Punk. Ended up promoting in Middle East, Goa Beach, and Denmark, came back to Britain in 1979, and with not a guitar hero in sight became a blues fan.
Started promoting live music as a living as part of a mission to keep alive Real Music, or something akin to quality.
Pete says, “I extended my early writing efforts to freelancing for Music Week, Folk Roots, Jazz Journal, The Stage, and all manner of Blues publications and then edited my own magazine Real Music for two years.” He has contributed liner notes to over 60 albums.
In the eighties, Pete became a theatre booker in West London and then the in-house promoter at The Shepherds Bush Empire, Mean Fiddler and Shepherds Bush Bottom Line, in the mid 90′s, “before stupidly becoming an independent promoter and a sometime, eh hem, A&R and PR person for Mystic Records.”
Now, still clinging on to good music, overpriced bands and an ageing audience. Supposedly writing Roger Chapman’s biog. Here’s to the future.
Pete’s popular video interviews are dotted around the site, sometimes included with the relevant album review.
Favourite music: Too many to list but including Frank Zappa, Man, Walter Trout and newer stuff like Blanche, Beth Gibbons, plus maybe Patti Smith, Amon Duul and say Jacky Leven… and any strong song writers, great performers (Chapman) and of course innovative blues.
Pete presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio and The Pete Feenstra Feature with special guest interviews.
Man with a Stacia fixation…
Born in the ’50′s, raised on rock in the early ’70′s. Pete cut his teeth on gigs by the likes of Bowie (seeing an early Ziggy gig at a small Liverpool club at the tender age of 16 was mind blowing), Alice Cooper, Bad Company, Queen, Santana, Thin Lizzy, Budgie and the like.
If they played Liverpool, there was every chance he saw them. He has lost count of the number of times he saw classic Hawkwind (predictably until the departure of Stacia).
Passionate about music then, and passionate about music now.
And a particular ‘soft spot’ for anything with a decent female vocal – Carole King, River City People, Pat Benatar, Sheryl Crow, Eleanor McEvoy, Judie Tzuke and many more.
Favourite bands: Thin Lizzy, Alice, Fleetwood Mac, Led Zeppelin, Queen and U2.
I’ve been a lover of rock music for over 25 years now and it has provided me with an endless source of enjoyment and lasting friendships. Gig-wise, I’ve never looked back since first going to see Status Quo’s so-called End of the Road tour in 1984 at Crystal Palace FC (who represent my other main interest in life!) Some would say my hairstyle hasn’t changed in the intervening quarter century either!
My favourite genre of all is probably melodic rock and AOR, and I look forward to festivals such as Firefest like a kid on Christmas Eve. In 2000, frustrated at being unable to see classic American bands like Journey, Boston, Foreigner, Styx and REO Speedwagon, I headed off to summer festivals in the USA, and have been back nearly every year. It proved a life-changing experience in every sense, but that’s another story….
It was also after seeing shows in the States in 2005 that I got involved in GRTR! I was boasting about them to Jason Ritchie at Stripes Bar in Brentford and, generously putting aside his envy, he encouraged me to review the shows for the website.
I have always loved language and writing and I hope my contributions to GRTR! successfully communicate my passions.
My tastes cover a wide range of classic rock: long-time favourite bands include Wishbone Ash, Thin Lizzy, UFO, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Magnum, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bad Company and a whole host of other well-known and obscure bands.
For Alan, a prerequisite in any music is that it has ‘balls’ – not necessarily crunching riffs, far from it in fact, but it must have something to say to the listener – music to listen to, not just a background to whatever lifestyle you have. ‘Don’t let Simon Cowell win – the whole future of music is at stake!!’
Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix”, second Sunday of the month on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio
Looks like Bob Harris’ Dad…
Peter has a background in PR and record company management and promotion. Blinded by the broadcasts of John Peel and Bob Harris as an impressionable teenager (though he now looks old enough to be Bob’s father), he eschewed a career in academia and started collecting shed-loads of vinyl (the albums nobody ever seemed to want at the time) in the 70s and the passion remains undiminished.
“Peel in particular opened up new perspectives about music and thwarted the dictates of fashion as far as I was I concerned,” he says.
“Of course, the outcome is an eclectic taste so I’m your man for folk, rock, blues, jazz…erm the lot really.”
Pushed into a corner on this one, he admits a fondness for 60s/70s Brit prog: “the more obscure the better!”
The ongoing rash of reissue output in this field alone has been keeping Peter busy of late. “You would think the job is done by now but I keep watching the skies. There is still plenty to still to bring back to today’s audiences.”
Interests outside of the music field include swimming and drinking wine (but never at the same time).
Favourite bands: How long have you got? But the ones that keep coming back in no order of preference include Van der Graaf Generator, Kevin Ayers, Genesis, Steve Ashley, Savoy Brown, Trees, Elbow, Karine Polwart, Spirit, Dawn Of The Replicants (“I must get round to writing about them”), Eleanor McEvoy, David Ackles, Led Zeppelin, Atomic Rooster, Bridget St John, Bert Jansch, Neil Ardley.
Saw Rotting Christ in a back yard …
John grew up in Kalamaki a south suburb of Athens which was famous for many things, but Heavy Metal was not one of them. During the 80′s Heavy Metal was not that popular in Greece, especially amongst the Greek authorities who would do almost anything to get their hands on a person with Bullet belts and a Possessed T-shirt.
Yiannis is a veteran of the Greek underground Metal community. “I remember that the first time I saw Rotting Christ they were performing in the back yard of my high-school in front of 50 people!!” I worked for 2 years in a Radio Station. “Heavy Metal Randez-vous” was on twice a week. I also worked for 2 years in Rock City, the biggest CD store for Metal Music in Athens.” Yiannis also did a spot of dee-jaying at the Metal Club “Xoris Anasa” (Breathless).
Yiannis says: “Music is my true “companion” throughout the years and one of the most important things in my life.”
Favourite bands: Morbid Angel, Kreator, Pestilence, Burzum, Rush, Kansas, Saxon, Judas Priest, Queensryche, Fates Warning, Dream Theater
Taylor Swift was in his focus… until his lens steamed up
As a lead guitarist and songwriter I started off playing and writing songs in bands such as Falcon, Go Texas, Sweet Liberty. In my last band, Love and the Guitars, we made some videos, brought out some CDs, and did a couple of tours – and got a lot of TV and radio coverage which was cool. I have always had a passion for music and it was this, and my love of photography, that sent my career in another direction.
I have been a professional photographer in the entertainment industry since 1995 and I started by shooting the likes of ZZ Top, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy and Motley Crue.
My list of clients spans the 1980s to the present, including The Who, Joe Satriani, Peter Frampton, Bruce Springsteen, Kiss, Iron Maiden, U2, The Police, Taylor Swift, Paul McCartney, Bon Jovi, Oasis … to name just a few! A lot of these musicians have become friends of mine.
I work with many of the top record labels including Sony BMG, Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Virgin, Island, EMI – amongst many others – as well as providing work for Solarpix, Noble PR, PR Photos, Get Ready to ROCK!, Getty Images and several print magazines including Record Collector and Guitarist.
My photography and artwork can be seen on numerous CD and DVD covers, band biographies, liners and tour posters.
I try capturing the emotion of rock n’ roll in my images, I developed my own techniques and style and try my very best to capture everything in natural light where possible.
Favourite bands (in no particular order): AC/DC, Kiss, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Who, Bruce Springsteen, Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Bad Company, Crosby, Stills and Nash and Young, Black Sabbath and anything else that rocks my world or moves my soul.
Simon Dunkerley (Chief Photographer)
‘If it’s too loud you’re too old’ – a sign I spotted at a small venue years ago. I smiled and thought … dead right.
From my first gig way back in 1980, AC/DC at Manchester Apollo, music has been in my blood and I have been to as many gigs as possible from the smallest intimate venues to huge festivals.
Starting in film photography back in 1987 I enjoyed trying to capture the action on stage but soon realised that I was missing out on the energy of the gig itself in the crowds and mosh pits so I gave up photography and went back to the music.
Some 5 years ago now I rekindled my love for photography and picked up where I left off, albeit with the nice user friendly medium of the DSLR. At the end of the day the camera can’t take a good photo unless the eye has spotted it first and this is what drives me now, to capture the passion and energy that makes live music the best thing in the world.
From the raw energy of a small sweaty basement with an unknown band pouring out their music to the largest of arenas and choreographed supergroups I always try to convey the feeling of being there. It’s a huge challenge but the buzz I get out of it is the same buzz as being in the wildest of moshpits.
My musical tastes are far and wide, I get just as much pleasure from a violinist playing an exquisite piece of music like Joshua Bell playing Bach’s ‘Chaconne’ or Sandy Denny singing “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” to Rory Gallagher playing “Bull Frog Blues” and Lemmy wringing out “Overkill”. Over the year my musical tastes take me to all sorts of festivals ranging from dance/ska/reggae through world music, folk music, Rock, Metal and all the related genres and I love it.
Favourite bands: Rory Gallagher, Martyn Bennett & Cullin Music, Blind Melon, Kyuss, to name a few. Best song ever written in my opinion is ‘Move On Up’ by Curtis Mayfield.
Click here for the GRTR! reviewers’ Best of 2016 selections