Get Ready to ROCK! (GRTR!) was soft-launched in September 2002 and for nearly 20 years has been a premier web destination for informed rock writing and photography, chiefly covering reviews and interviews, and with high visibility in Google. A complementary radio station was launched in September 2008.
Founder David Randall’s long-term partner-in-crime is News and Reviews Editor Jason Ritchie who – in the early millennium – had established his own classic rock blog. It seemed logical to combine their creative efforts and Jason’s “newswire” was subsumed in the Get Ready to ROCK! website.
In establishing the original website, David Randall wanted to re-create the informed but sometimes irreverent reviews he’d read in the early “Q” music magazine and, even earlier, classic seventies NME.
He created a database of Q reviews from 1986-2006* but became disllusioned as the magazine review content both diversified and diminished. As he points out below, GRTR! has retained a dedicated and loyal team of enthusiasts for at least 10 years and maintained a very high standard of informed, creative writing along with quality photography.
The website’s range is impressive, with genre specialists for melodic rock/AOR, singer songwriter, metal, blues, progressive and classic rock. The hint, as David says, is in the title: “If the music moves you, regardless of the genre, get ready to ROCK!”
*This database is available if you register for the website.
Click here for the GRTR! reviewers’ Best of 2020 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.”
Jason is a skilled coordinator and has been responsible for recruting new reviewers over the years who have become regular members of the GRTR! team.
Favourite bands: Queen, ELO, Judas Priest, Magnum & Journey
David Randall (Managing Editor)
Fed up listening to Top 40 Radio …
David’s musical interests date from the late-1960s and a solid love of classic rock if sometimes sidelined by an occasional passion for early (medieval) music, funk and jazz fusion.
He has been involved in web development since the age of dial-up modems, set up online commerce for a number of record labels, and established the early website of Dutch guitarist Jan Akkerman. He subsequently contributed features about Focus to ‘Record Collector’ magazine, coordinated two UK tours for Jan Akkerman, and authored ‘In And Out Of Focus – the music of Jan Akkerman and Focus’ in 2003.
He launched Get Ready to ROCK! in 2002 which quickly became established as a quality web destination for reviews and interviews. Says David: “For at least 10 years we have maintained a hardcore team of scribes who are amongst the best out there – and I’m talking print as well as online – combining creative writing skills and a measured, informed knowledge of their subject matter and/or genre. I am very proud of this achievement as it provides great continuity, authority, and of course readability.”
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! David’s own broadcasting experience was pressed into action, having worked at BBC Radio Birmingham as a student and then as Station Manager for a long-established hospital radio station in Liverpool in the 1980s.
“I get fed up listening to Top 40 or formula-based radio revolving around a fairly limited range of artists and playlist. Get Ready to ROCK! 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 …
UK and European Blues Lifetime Achievement Award winner (2016) and author of award winning Family ‘Once Upon A Time’ at 2012 Prog Rock Awards and newly discovered songwriter, Pete is our resident blues to rock expert.
Born in 1954 in Rotterdam, He 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 rock 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 an A&R and PR person for Mystic Records.”
Now, still clinging on to good music, overpriced bands and an ageing audience. he still enjoys a wide spectrum of music as evidenced by his radio shows.
Pete’s popular video interviews are dotted around the site, sometimes included with the relevant album review.
He recently penned the forthcoming Marcus Flynn album ‘Nothing But The Blues’, set for December 23 2017 release.
Favourite music: Too many to list but including Frank Zappa, Man, Walter Trout, Sparks. Then there’s Blanche, Eliza Neals, Portis Head, Doyle Bramhall II, Marcus Flynn, Patti Smith, and roots music by Jarrod Dickenson… and any strong song writers, great performers (Roger 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.
If the singer has a mullet, chances are the band will be on Andy’s bucket list or already crossed off…
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.
According to Nikk the eighties never went away…
I grew up listening to The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Roy Orbison, Elvis, Otis – like most people, what your parents are playing really.
I’d imagine that when early ’70′s Glam rock hit the nation it was like when TV went from black and white to colour – when the ‘80′s hit then it was literally like the whole thing had gone 3D. My, my, my – what a great time it was to be into music!!! Whatever genre of rock you were into, you could find it in abundance. Everywhere.
Now, I’ve been in bands, hosted radio shows and been a part of GRTR! from the beginning, and I can happily confirm that once the ‘80′s got you, it never really let you go. I often get asked “Have you left the ‘80′s?”, “Can we still be the cocky b@stards with the hair and the eyeliner?” and “I bet you’re glad your bands are back?”. The answer to all three is yes and I still have all my own hair.
Passionate about prog…
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”, first Sunday of the month on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio
Tells his kids to turn it up …
Grew up with seventies and eighties rock. Got fed up with the lack of print coverage in the nineties, as the music changed direction, and looked to write stuff myself.
Answered an ad in Kerrang!, and subsequently wrote reviews for Hard RoxX magazine (thank you Matthew and Kim) for a lot of years. Then Fireworks, then a number of online magazines as the internet took hold.
I have three children with wide and varied tastes in music, which is a great thing. I’m one of the few dads who knock on their bedroom doors, shouting “turn it up”!
Got to confess I haven’t seen much live stuff in recent years. From memory, Great White or Tyketto or Magnum was the last, in the Garage or maybe it was The Cathouse (both in Glasgow).
Today’s strange times allow me to work from home most days now, which means as long as the work gets done, I can focus on the music pretty well whenever I want. Very fortunate.
Have a soft spot for AOR, but I like anything that’s any good.
I am more of a favourite albums guy than favourites bands, but if pushed I have many: Foreigner, Icehouse, Petra, John Waite, Hall & Oates, Harem Scarem, Michael Sweet, ELO.
If anyone reads my reviews, I’m delighted … thank you.
Mark ‘Mad Dog’ Shaw
He likes music that reaches the head, heart…and groin
Born in 1963 and getting into music long before pocket money, Mark grew up on the musical diet of his Dad’s record collection – all the early blues greats plus the Stones (definitely no Beatles), significant-late60s/early 70s-era Joe Cocker (hence the shameless “Mad Dog” moniker), Moby Grape, CSN, Big Brother and the Holding Company and the like.
That morphed into full-tilt, bedroom head-banging in the late ‘70s to UFO, MSG, Quo and Rush. Befriending a Polish guy who actually had a Triumph Bonneville, dressed like Aqualung and loved Tull with a passion, opened Mark’s eyes to the fact that rock and roll was a world where flutes and tights could co-exist.
First gig was Quo in 1977 at Sheffield City Hall and the die was firmly cast. The fabulous Budgie and Frankie Miller used to play regularly at Northampton County Cricket Ground and Mark never missed any of those shows. Possibly narrow-minded (he called it “focused”), Mark never wore make-up and frilly shirts in the ‘80s – in fact, hated the ‘80s musically – you’d have to remove his jeans and t-shirts surgically.
Mark had the good fortune to live in San Francisco, LA and Hamburg over the years – all vibrant and “on-the-map” live music cities. Now unfortunately (no, seriously !), living on the French Riviera, he is surrounded by a jazz hell and bumbles along in a veritable musical desert where Coldplay comes once a year and the locals think that’s the mutt’s nuts.
Mark took a break from the corporate world in 2012 to promote the Riviera’s first ever Classic Rock festival – booking Status Quo, Simple Minds, Uli Jon Roth and Michael Schenker amongst others – pulled 12,000 people, learnt why meeting your heroes can often disappoint, put on a great show, lost his ass financially and loved every minute of it.
Came across Jason and the GRTR! crew somehow (he honestly can’t remember) and got the chance to combine his passion for the written word with his love of music by writing reviews. Thoroughly enjoys being part of the GRTR! Nerd Herd – thanks to guys like you, rock is not dead but abundant and plentiful !!
The Mad Dog’s philosophy is that music has to touch you in one of three places – either cerebrally (Tull, Rush, you know – thinking-man’s music), in the heart (recalling a significant time, person, emotion) or in the groin (dirty blues Exile On Main Street music to bump and grind to). If it doesn’t, it’s just hotel elevator music like Phil Collins, Springsteen and the afore-mentioned Coldplay.
Current favourites – most Americana of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Dawn Brothers variety, just discovering the soul/funk space of the Isley Brothers and Otis Redding, of course The Temperance Movement, The Darkness, The Black Crowes, Howlin’ Rain…but honestly, too many and varied to mention. So many fantastic, young upcoming bands – and so little time to hear/see all of them.
Long-suffering Sheffield Wednesday fan, his love of rock, blues and broad country-rock has gotten him through an otherwise tough 40 years.
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
Still stage diving after all these years … a fan of dirty riffs and rumbling basslines
Dave was born in Yorkshire in the mid-1960′s and was shaken from a New Romantic torpor when a mate played him ‘We Belong To The Night’ by UFO. A lifelong love was born. Motorhead, Iron Maiden, AC/DC and a gamut of quality hard rock quickly followed. The metal revolution was complete.
After graduating, Dave moved to London primarily to see more of the bands he loved, whilst harbouring a quiet ambition to become a lead guitarist. Cursed with no musical ability whatsoever, he instead pursued a half-hearted career in the Civil Service.
The nearest he came to the spotlight was at the legendary Marquee Club during a Bolt Thrower gig whilst attempting to stage dive. Jo-Anne Bench, the band’s bassist, had to stop playing to help haul our inebriated, incapable hero on stage. Dave’s eventual stylish swan-dive into the pit did nothing to restore his credibility.
The writing bug manifested in a rambling blog, a brace of books about horseracing and guest slots for Music-News, before he hooked up again with his pal from college, Jason Ritchie. This has led to regular contributions for Get Ready To ROCK!, which he enjoys very much.
A fan of dirty riffs, spiraling solos and rumbling basslines, Dave loves the live arena best and looks forward to many more years of noisy gigs in packed, sweaty venues. “However my stage-diving days may be over,” he cautiously adds.
Favourite artists: UFO, Waysted, Marillion, Metallica, Motorhead, Anthrax, Magnum, Triumph, Wilko Johnson, Thin Lizzy, Blackberry Smoke, Joe Bonamassa.
Paul Clampin (Photographer)
Find him front of stage enjoying everything but with a passion for true guitar players…
My first gig was T.Rex at the Sundown venue in Brixton back in the day. It was a birthday present from a family member. Supported by Bees Make Honey it was awful! The sound was terrible and the performance a little self-indulgent.
Through my formative years through rock bands like Nazareth, Rory Gallagher, Pat Travers and through a heavier phase with the likes of Ted Nugent I was lucky enough to see the first AC/DC tour. This was a visceral performance which introduced me to true performance.
I am in awe of true guitar players that can craft complex tone and balance this with feeling. Taking pictures gives me the ability to appreciate this even more. I’ve had the opportunity to see most of the monster touring bands in their time, some several times. No doubt the late 90’s and early 00’s were a thin period for new homegrown bands. However now there’s a new ground movement of young talent, irrespective of what genre you like.
I love all music but can often be found at the front of the stage taking pictures of Blues, Rock, Metal and Americana.
Related to prog rock royalty but partial to a bit of NWOBHM…
If the surname is familiar to prog rock fans, Joe’s dad played with Pink Floyd. First ever gig Pink Floyd The Wall at Earl’s Court, 1980, aged 10 or 11 ish.
Joe is a former contributor of Record Collector Magazine and since 1991 has worked closely with labels including Angel Air, Sanctuary, Captain Oi, Demon, Universal and Salvo amongst others, on the releases by Nazareth, The Motors, Uriah Heep, Saxon, Atomic Rooster, Girlschool and too many more to mention.
Joe’s first record bought was Approved by The Motors and he got into rock music when a friend lent him Gillan’s Glory Road and Rainbow’s Rising.
A serious vinyl collector, writing about music has always been a passion, his first ever commission an interview with Ian Gillan about his solo work, and other highlights include interviews with John Peel, Don Airey, Saxon (over a dozen times), Christopher Lee (broke exclusive information 2 years before Classic Rock), Blackie Lawless (ditto), Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden and Red Dwarf (Craig Charles went into Lister mode to call him a Smeg Head).
Outside of music, Joe has a love of Rugby (a 20 year career stopped by a back injury, a hyperextended knee and multiple disclocated shoulders). Also reading; anything by Joe Dever, Sepulchre (James Herbert), and Dr Who – Festival Of Death.
Favourite bands: Nazareth, Cozy Powell, Paul Samson (for all of whom he has run fan clubs), Gillan, Eloy, Foghat, Saxon and The Motors. And Rhapsody and Freedom Call, both discovered while reviewing for GRTR! The love of Southern Rock begins and ends with the original era Molly Hatchet, due to a love of blues rock and a dislike of Americana/AOR.
Favourite albums include: Rainbow – Rising, Gillan – Future Shock, Nazareth – No Mean City, Foghat – Stone Blue, Molly Hatchet – Double Trouble Live, Eloy – Planets / Time To Turn, Deep Purple – Made In Japan, Saxon – Solid Ball Of Rock, Iron Maiden – Powerslave, Freedom Call – Crystal Empire, Rhapsody – Symphony Of Enchanted Lands II The Dark Secret, Judas Priest – Stained Class, Kiss – Unmasked, Magnum – On A Story Teller’s Night, Whitesnake – Slide It In, Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Next
Steve Goudie (Photographer)
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.
Updated December 2020
Click here for the GRTR! reviewers’ Best of 2020 selections