Album review: THOR – Beyond The Pain Barrier

THOR - Beyond The Pain Barrier

Deadline/Cleopatra [Release date 04.08.17]

Canadian born bodybuilder Jon Mikl Thor has been acting and singing since the mid 70s, fronting his eponymously named band and, on stage, combining his strength with steel bars and blowing up hot-water-bottles to give a great show.

A winner of several bodybuilding competitions, Thor has released some wonderful and classic albums, my introduction to Thor’s hard rock being Keep The Dogs Away (an expanded edition also released by Cleopatra), and the more metal Only The Strong from the mid 80s. This new album a real blistering set.

Released to coincide with his appearance at the Porispere, and with a forthcoming North American tour, we have 12 new songs that rock in the most blistering manner.

Thor has worked with a number of young musicians here, including members of Cloven Hoof, Thundermaker and Iron Kingdom, and some of the guitar work is amazing. As for Thor’s vocals, he still has it, strong, perfectly metal forged.

Opener Tyrant features some great guitar, although the drums are solid, and the vocals stand out. The Calling features some fantastic guitar shred and nice vocal harmonies – it nods back to early 80s proto thrash. The title track nods in a more power metal direction.

A change of pace for When A Hero Dies, more balladic, still heavy, some deep vocals that suit. There’s a great modern sound and production on On Golden Sea – a well written and cohesive track that really rocks – and lots of melody too. Twilight Of The Gods is classic power metal at the thrashier end.

Closing track Quest For Valor, running to over seven minutes, is a classic epic. Or an epic classic. Either way I really enjoyed it.

Look out for a forthcoming documentary film Return Of The Thunderhawk, and Cleopatra’s work on other parts of Thor’s catalogue. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

Thor speaks…

1) Fantastic new album. How did it come together?

When I was on tour last year, I would fly into various cities and have a backing band learn the material, do the concert and the next day fly to the next city.

When I played Minneapolis, Minnesota I met up with John Leibel and his band. They were very talented. We seemed to hit it off and discussed the idea of performing and/ or recording in the future.

2) How did you find working with all these young musicians?

Very inspirational.

3) Your new material’s more metal than the 70s and 80s, was that a deliberate move?

It just happened to move in that direction when we combined our musical forces.

4) How have the festivals been going?

Phenomenal. The crowds have been amazing. We just came back from headling the Porispere Festival in Finland. There were 15,000 screaming fans at the concert who knew all our songs and sang with us.

5) Do you still perform with steel bars and hot water bottles?

No. I still twist microphone stands into a pretzel. We put on a heck of a show with lots of costume changes. The strength is in the music!

6) How did this forthcoming documentary film come about?

I started working with film makers  Melker Becker and Mattias Lindeblad in Sweden and producer Jacob Windatt at Grimbrothers Entertainment in London. I brought the project to Brian Perer, CEO at Cleopatra Film and Music in Los Angeles. He gave guidance on how we could produce the movie and make it better. We shot more scenes in Finland recently with Deb Freytag on the camera. Randy Herreid  came aboard as a co-producer.

The movie is really coming together. We are getting Film Festival offers to screen the film from all over the world.

7) How did you get to work with the label Cleopatra?

I was fortunate enough to meet up with entrepreneur Brian Perera, CEO of Cleopatra Records and his incredible team in Los Angeles.

He gave me this opportunity to make a comeback and be creative.

8) I think they’ve done a fine job with some of your catalogue. Your thoughts?

Yes they have done a stellar job with the amazing deluxe re-releases and new albums. They have helped me become a multi-media artist by capitalizing on recording, video, and movies. All aspects of the entertainment industry.

There is still a plethora of material in the vaults just waiting to be released. No one can do it better than Cleopatra.

9) Who would you most like to record with?

I have really enjoyed working with all the guests who are on the “Metal Avenger” and “Beyond the Pain Barrier” album. I don’t feel there is anyone else.

10) Who would you most like to tour with?

Ozzy

11) Are you still acting?

Yes

12) How’s your clothing business VM Sports doing?

I’m involved with other things now.

13) What next for the Mighty Thor?

Writing books, painting. I plan on going into politics. Also I’m working on a hologram of myself.


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: BOULEVARD – IV Luminescence

MelodicRock Records [Release date 22.09.17]

Here’s a band I thought I’d never hear new music from and I am very glad to be proved wrong. Boulevard are a Canadian band who released two albums – 1988′s self-titled debut and 1990′s ‘Into the Street’ – before disbanding in 1991. They did enjoy success in their native Canada and became a cult AOR/melodic rock band amongst the fans of the genre. Fast forward to 2014 and they reformed playing a well received set at that year’s Firefest and released a live DVD in 2015.

Now we have the band’s third studio album (the IV in the album title refers to the fact that the band count the live DVD as album number three). The band’s line-up includes mainstays David Forbes (vocals), Dave Corman (guitars), Andrew Johns (keyboards/vocals), Mark Holden (saxophone) and Randall Stoll (drums) plus relative newcomer Cory Curtis (bass), who lays down some funky bass lines listen out on ‘Come Together’ for proof.

The two opening songs, ‘Out Of The Blue’ and ‘Life Is A Beautiful Thing’, are fine examples of how classy melodic rock is made. Both feature glorious harmony vocals, lashings of keys, classy guitar solos, the melodic vocals of David Forbes and the band’s secret weapon, the sax playing of Mark Holden. The way his sax playing links in with the key and guitars is something special and his solos even replace a guitar solo at one stage. Both songs have positive, uplifting lyrics that raise the spirits no matter what your mood.

‘What I’d Give’ is a soaring ballad, just about beating the gospel tinged ’Confirmation’ as the ballad of the album. David Forbes still has his vocal power and it is a real shame we have had to wait this long for a new Boulevard album.

Oh and if you need some serious rocking, look no further than ‘Slipping Away’, which features a guest spot from long time Bryan Adams’ guitarist Keith Scott. Shades of .38 Special on this one, perfect rock music for a summer’s day.

Not one filler on the album, my only complaint is that eleven songs is not enough! However, give me quality over quantity any day with music.

One of this year’s, and indeed any year, melodic rock/AOR albums. If you loved the band back in the day this is a ‘must have’ and for those who enjoy the music of Chicago and Toto you will lap this one up. ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown

earMUSIC Release Date 22.09.17

Back in 2014, with their fourth album ‘Tearing Down the Walls’, and high energy live shows, H.E.A.T seemed on the verge of a major commercial breakthrough as standard bearers for a new breed of melodic rockers.  But after a long period of silence, during which guitarist Eric Rivers departed and former axeman Dave Dalone (now renamed Sky Davis) was brought back into the fold, the young Swedes find themselves having to build up a fresh head of steam.

Their eagerly awaited comeback begun in controversial fashion with opening single ‘Time On Our Side’ which showed a startling change of direction, a modern pop song,  with a falsetto chorus musically and lyrically owing much to Muse, and divided fans on social media.

However it makes more sense lodged four songs into an album, which has been 18 months in the making and sees them boldly branching out into some new directions while maintaining their strengths of youthful freshness and memorable hooks and choruses.

Many of the bands that inspired them – Bon Jovi, Europe,Whitesnake and Queen all spring to mind – all took the leap of faith into a radical new direction at some point of their careers and, though some older fans may have been offended and jumped ship, it probably enhanced their musical longevity.

Opener ‘Bastard Of Society’ is classic H.E.A.T, albeit with a stripped back leanness, with ‘who-oahs’ and a chorus that is sure to make it a live favourite, and ‘Shit City’ is in a similar mould, but they are sandwiched by the first curveball in ‘Redefined’, a reflective, slow burner with programmed drums and keyboards the dominant instruments for much of the song, which shows a new maturity.

After the aforementioned ‘Time On Our Side’, ‘Best Of The Broken’ has a slightly epic feel with dystopian lyrics and taking a while to get to a typically strong chorus.

They branch out with new sounds throughout the album, and at times the keyboard heavy sound reminded me of fellow Scandinavians HIM and The Rasmus, but the second half is perhaps more reassuring for long-time fans. ‘Eye Of The Storm’ has an intro that reminds me of Dare, and more Muse-like falsetto singing from Erik Gronwall who really stretches himself throughout the album.

‘Blind Leads The Blind’ is more traditional Scandi  melodic rock with big riffing, a big chorus and some synthesiser work that calls to mind Tony Carey’s magic on ‘Rainbow Rising’  spoiled only by more of the unnecessary bad language that is one of the album’s few downsides.

‘We Rule’ is a grandiose Queen-inspired epic with lush vocal harmonies which can easily be imagined as a scarf-waving closer to the live set while ‘Do You Want It’  is an anthemic, straight ahead rocker, though the synthesisers and falsetto singing on the verse reminded me of Sparks.

The final proof that H.E.A.T have triumphantly pushed at the boundaries of their comfort zone comes in a seven minute plus title track. More conventionally melodic than much of the album, with Sky given a longer guitar solo, lyrically it combines a Europe-like fascination with space with what could be seen as an allegory for their career at this stage- ‘is it the end of the road or a one way ticket to fortune and fame?’

I am confident it will be more like the latter. Some of the experimenting in new directions may baffle existing fans, but without losing their strengths  H.E.A.T have re-emerged a more rounded and complete band, with a record that I suspect time will view kindly. ****1/2

Review by Andy Nathan


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: DEVILFIRE – Dark Manoeuvres

DEVILFIRE - Dark Manoeuvres

[Release date 07.10.07]

What the fudge is in the water in Birmingham ? Could it really still be that yearning to escape working class, chained-to-the-factory drudgery? Seemingly Britain’s hard-rock Austin, Texas equivalent, Brum has produced some of the world’s finest rocking music over the last fifty years and, since it is apparently somewhat unique in being a major city with no rivers running through it, it must be the grit and grime of the streets and its undeniable history of producing fine rock acts.

Where Ozzy and Priest were once born (found ?) and raised (dragged up ?), enter Devilfire with their debut offering, Dark Manoeuvres. As band leader Alex Cooper fesses up, this album has been a labour of love, re-written and re-worked a few times and these lads have produced a very worthy collection of tunes in this virgin offering.

Straddled somewhere between Magnum’s melodic rock sensitivities and the darker, dirtier band which Europe (thankfully) became, Dark Manoeuvres is the product of hard touring, hard knocks and hard life lessons (as well as hard partying) and is laudable because of its honesty and the obvious endeavour and sweat which went into conception.

As co-producer Romesh Dodangoda (Motorhead, Bring Me The Horizon, Bullet For My Valentine), and obviously a man of few understated words, said “the songs on this record are just so good”….and they are good….not great but you can tell – those great songs are coming…..This genre is not exactly untrodden and Devilfire aren’t re-inventing the wheel here but you can tell they know their way around the sciences of high octane riffology and big vocal choruses. And they have a drummer called Lars – just sayin’…

Yeah, there’s a bit of Thunder, there’s a bit of Jepson and the Angels but again, this genre has been ridden hard over the years. Dark Manoeuvres is like watching the England U19s – you raise your eyes in appreciation and think “jeez, nurture this lot and keep them together and their future looks bright indeed”.

Go-to tracks – the very cool “She’s Always On The Run” – a fun and obvious, but actually very nailed-on Bond theme idea; “(In And Out Of Love) All Of The Time” – smoldering and classy, a real beauty, this one; “Tear Me Apart” – getcha Zippos out; “She’s Like Fire” is a proper rock and romp about the lass that got away; “(You Gotta) Revolution” is that obligatory, middle-finger-to-world-politics and brims with anger and pissed-off purpose and one of my personal favourites, “Lay It On The Line” (but then I’m a sucker for a descending riff). Also, get into “Kill Your Love” – for a moment there, I was back in my bedroom, in front of the mirror with my tennis racquet…brilliant.

The PR guff says “it’s hard to believe this is a debut and not a third or fourth offering” and that has a big ole diamond ring of truth to it – if Dark Manoeuvres is the first pass, albeit four years in the making, there’s enough quality here to suggest that Devilfire has arrived with a belting debut and will be putting the Brummy boot in for years to come. ****

Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: ELOY – The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)

ELOY - The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)

Artist Station Records [Release date 25.08.17]

German progressive rock band Eloy release their 18th studio album (19th if you include the Codename Wildgeese OST) and it’s the latest of a number of concept albums, this one about the legend of Joan Of Arc.

Formed in the late 60s, Eloy released a string of successful albums on Harvest, mostly released in Europe only, and were often dubbed ‘The German Pink Floyd’. In the 80′s the sound was modernised (much in the same way Yes did), and over the years their brand of progressive rock dipped into symphonic and space rock. And through a number of line-up changes, drummers have included Fritz Randow (Saxon) and Jürgen Rosenthal (Uli Jon Roth, Scorpions).

Fronted by founder guitarist, vocalist and sole permanent member Frank Bornemann (who has also worked as a producer of a number of name bands), this new set is the first since 2009’s ‘Visionary’, is as good as ever.

Opener ‘The Age Of The Hundred Years’ War’ kicks off atmospherically and builds into some crunchy space rock. ‘Domremy On The 6th January 1412’ is the first of several shorter tracks that add atmosphere and also add to the lyrical concept. ‘Early Signs’, with a gentle start, hints to some of the 80s work, and builds nicely, there’s a medieval hint to the heaviness, and hints to the late 70s too.

‘The Call’ is a chunkier number and classic Eloy, the keyboards and guitars work well together.

The album is a rock opera that is different to most of the genre and guests (including Canadian singer Alice Merton as Joan Of Arc), and the story is told as if by Jean De Metz, who witnessed the life and events, and kept factual as seen rather than interpreted. The use of brachial choir to delicate children’s voices all add gravitas to the story and the atmosphere.

This is part 1 of the concept, something that Frank Bornemann has researched in depth. Thirteen tracks, a couple of 1-2 minute bridges, a couple at six minutes and one epic at 10, and musically there’s a nod to both Metromania and Performance, surpassing both with aplomb.

Not only is this a wonderful listen, it is also a grower, and one you can go back to and listen to completely. Musically and lyrically a journey well worth exploring. ****1/2

Review by Joe Geesin


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: THE YOUNG ‘UNS – Strangers

THE YOUNG 'UNS - Strangers

Hereteu Records [Release date 29.09.17]

Teeside three piece the Young ‘Uns – Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes – have won the BBC Folk Awards Best Group in 2015 and 2016, along with picking up numerous plaudits from the music press and many live appearances, making them one of the rising stars on the folk scene.

Their harmonies and acapella singing is spot on, as can be heard on the opening two songs, their version of Maggie Holland’s ‘A Place Called England’ and ‘Ghafoor’s Bus’, about Teesise granddad Ghafoor Hussain who bought and converted a bus to go and feed refugees and migrants across Europe.

The album’s theme is all about everyday folk and their extraordinary tales, all of which have a real resonance with what is going on in the world today. ‘Cable Street’ being a prime example, where the people  of the East End of London joined with Jewish residents to block a march by the British Union of Fascists. The hero of the tale is based on Johnny Longstaff, who was sixteen at the time of Cable Street and went onto fight in the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War.

The Young ‘Uns do use instruments to good effect on some songs, none more so than on the beautiful and moving ‘Dark Water’, where they are joined by Aldeburgh Young Musicians on strings and backing vocals, along with harpist Mary Ann Kennedy.

Two other highlights are ‘Carriage 12′, about the heroes who took down a gunman on a train bound for Paris in 2015, and ‘Hartlepool Pedlar’, which features Michael Marks who later went onto to put the ‘Marks’ in ‘Marks & Spencer’!

Listen, learn and take note as folk songs are an important part of social history and the Young ‘Uns convey their songs and message clearly. Meaningful songs, beautifully sung and arranged, this is an album of the year. ****1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Quick plays: BRUCE COCKBURN, A BLUE FLAME, MORNING STAR

BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone

BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone True North Records [Release date 15.09.17]

Sounds like a name I ought to know, but maybe I’m thinking about ‘Rooster’.  But, in reality, Canadian singer songwriter Bruce Cockburn sounds more like a cross between Mark Knopfler and EC in the singing/songwriting capacity (as opposed to guitar playing).  In other words, ‘grizzled’.

A seasoned veteran, who at the ripe young age of 72, has over 30 albums under his belt since his debut in 1970, Cockburn sounds in remarkably rude health.

Supported by a superb cast of bassist, John Diamond, and drummer Gary Craig, with significant contributions from nephew John Aaron Cockburn on accordion, and Ron Miles on fluegelhorn, Cockburn’s finger picking is central to a wide and varied set.

While comparisons with Knopfler’s vocal style is never far away, and the album opener, ‘State I’m In’ would have graced any Dire Straits release, ‘Stab At The Matter’ visits the blues/gospel genre favoured by EC, the acoustic folk of ‘Forty Years In The Wilderness’ echoes Springsteen circa Nebraska, ‘Café Society’ the blues, and ‘False River’ some wonderful Latin infused finger picking.

Maybe not to everyone’s taste, but a quality release and one worthy of investigation by anyone who has enjoyed Knopfler’s post Dire Straits output.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

A BLUE FLAME When Your Whole World Turns To Dust
[Release date 25.09.17]

When Your Whole World Turns To Dust picks up where Leicester songsmith Richard Stone’s debut as A Blue Flame – What We’ve Become Is All That Now Remains (2016) left off, with a Bacharach/Everything But The Girl, horn embellished ‘We Feel Like We Feel’.  It’s a classy opener.

The set glistens, shimmers and bounces along largely in a space inhabited by the likes of Richard Hawley, and before him artists like Prefab Sprout, with Tony Robinson’s marvellous trumpet/flugelhorn playing central to the plot.

A prolific writer, When Your Whole World Turns To Dust flits from Radio 2 friendly tunes, to the feedback infused ‘See What To Tomorrow Brings’, and the almost punk/Stranglers sounding ‘Empty Head’, through to the lightest of ditties and almost ballroom ‘Love Will Set Us Free’.

A marked progression from his debut, there’s some finely crafted material and sumptuous hooks, but the diversity on offer may detract from significant sales.  Beguiling and bewildering in equal measure.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

MORNING STAR s/t [Release date 01.02.17]

I always worry when the most interesting piece of information presented about a band in their PR sheet is that ‘MorningStar combines Southern rock and blues with an undeniable 1970′s energy that will entrance you’.

Fronted by Tasmin Morningstar, the four piece from Austin, Texas, are indeed locked into the 70′s – when not playing their own material, they can be found performing covers of artists as diverse as Black Sabbath and Gerry Rafferty (there’s some videos of shockingly poor quality on their website).

Backed up by Timothy McCoy on lead guitar and vocals, David Efries on bass, and Reed Hoffman on drums, Tasmin Morningstar is a pretty decent torch vocalist (with faint echoes of Debbie Harry in her phasing) and McCoy has some nice fluid licks, but while there’s a nice Southern groove to the band’s overall sound, for the most part the material is overly telegraphed.

But there are some sweet spots – the haunting bluesy, late night/early hours ‘Ocean Too Blue’, the broodily throbbing ‘Right Place, Right Time’, and the funky ‘Undone’.

MorningStar are no doubt a blast in a hot sweaty club, but it’s hard to see their debut leading to a wider breakthough.  **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: AUSTIN GOLD – Before Dark Clouds

AUSTIN GOLD - Before Dark Clouds

Jigsaw [Release date 01.09.17]

One of a growing new generation of blues rockers, five piece rock blues outfit Austin Gold, from Cambridgeshire, have been attracting plaudits and growing a fervent following playing festivals and smaller gigs all across the UK.

Formed by vocalist David James Smith in 2013 with Jack Cable (guitar), Chris Ogden (drums), Russ Hill (keys), and Lee Churchill (bass) the band stick to a fairly tried and tested formula rooted in the period 1967 through to 1975.

In particular, Smith’s soulful vocals are reminiscent of those of Paul Rodgers, and Cable’s guitar licks are engrained with Hendrix’s unique style, while the rhythm section kick in like those of Free, Bad Co and Zeppelin, with Hill’s Hammond adding a further layer of period authenticity.

It may not be the most innovative of sets, but anyone who likes their blues rock played with no frills will find something to enjoy here from Smith’s excellent vocals, some big dirty riff progressions and a rock steady rhythm section.

A mix of rockers and ballads in fairly equal measure, Austin Gold are at their best when pushing their collective feet to the metal (the ballads are a fairly standard fayre, despite being more than convincingly performed), and had they been around in ‘the day’ the band would have been the perfect fit for a deal with Swansong Records.

I suspect ‘old timers’ may think Before The Clouds a little passe, but for the younger generation who want a band they can connect with, Austin Gold have much to offer.  A remarkably consistent debut that promises a bright future.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: CIARA SIDINE – Unbroken Line

CIARA SIDINE - Unbroken Line

[Release date 06.10.17]

The follow up to Dublin-based singer songwriter Ciara Sidine’s excellent debut Shadow Road Shining (2011) has been a while coming.

Unbroken Line follows the same pattern in featuring a self-written set, with the exception of a haunting re-arrangement of ‘Woman Of Constant Sorrow’, again drawing on Americana roots and country blues, to deliver a critique of Irish society past and present.

Co-produced by Sidine and Conor Brady (guitars), the other core players of Justin Carroll (keyboards), and Dave Hingarty (drums) remain, this time around, supported by some of Ireland’s finest players.

Unlike many contemporaries, traditional Irish influences rarely surface, and while the vocal and band performance are once again impeccable, Unbroken Line has an altogether more doleful, and introspective feel, bearing more immediate comparison to artists like Vaya Con Dios, Mary Black, and Billie Holiday rather than some of the more contemporary crossover appeal that peppered Shadow Road Shining.

The album reaffirms Sidine as one of the best vocalists to emerge in the vast Americana field in recent years, but whereas Shadow Road Shining offered the prospect of widespread appeal, Unbroken Line retreats to more unsullied roots.

It’s impossible not to be impressed by the performance, but for me Unbroken Line doesn’t have quite the same number of sweet spot hooks as her debut.  Whether that’s a deliberate directional shift, or a tricky second album failing, only time will tell, but nevertheless Unbroken Line has ‘quality’ stamped all through it.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: JW-JONES – High Temperature

JW Jones - High Temperature

Solid Blues Records [Release date 02.06.17]

Award winning Canadian blues-rock guitarist JW-Jones ditches most of the rock elements to ingratiate himself with the industry hotbed that is Nashville. ‘High Temperature’ showcases a handful of good songs that have one eye on the radio and are bolstered by some fine guitar playing.

Just where it will fit in the current blues-rock market is a hard one to call, though suffice it to say that any song-driven album will always find a home in Nashville.

‘High Temperature’ wisely sticks to a mid-paced, song focused format well suited to JW’s middling vocals and judicious tone colours.

He tops and tails the album with some sparkling guitar work on the bluesy groove of ‘Price You Pay’ and a blistering finale when he gets his Lonnie Mack chops together on a cover of ‘Wham’

In truth, for a high energy performer this is a laid back album with understated vocals and a soulful undertow.  He’s happiest when he leans into a groove as on the catchy mid-tempo funk of ‘How Many Hearts’, which breaks new ground on a duet with the Jaida Dreyer who penned the song. It veers smoothly towards a call and response section, but slightly disappoints with a rather hurried ending.

The title track is a good example of the way he pulls together contrasting styles. It starts out as a workaday stop-time shuffle, but as the band stretches out, he indulges himself in an extended and intense solo full of spiky notes that takes the song up a notch.

And if that song has great potential as a live number, then the later ‘Out In The Woods’ confirms his abilities, as he jams on a laid back groove with some steely licks over a lilting rhythm section. All the more frustrating then, when the fade some comes just a shade too early.

For the rest, there’s the faux chanted hook of ‘Murder in My Heart For The Judge’, notable for some intense licks on an otherwise prosaic piece. The autobiographical  and tightly wrapped, Who Am I’, is much better, with crisp, resonating notes and a greater vocal urgency with pristine diction.

He wisely opts for additional bv’s on ‘Same Mistakes’ to bring some heft to the vocals, alongside a sudden burst of big toned guitar and an uplifting organ break.

As he sings: ‘Who I am, is who I am’,  you can’t help but think that he’s making a statement about his musical independence. Put simply, ‘High Temperature’ is a misleading album title, as it gently beguiles us with engaging songs and bubbles up through deep grooves and some intricate guitar work.

JW’s song writing collaboration with fellow Canadian Dick Cooper has a way to go. The duo are nothing if not ambitious, shifting from their bluesy roots template to a country influenced ballad on ‘Leave Me Out’.  The doubled up harmonies make an unexpected impression on a slow burner with tremulous slide guitar touches.

If blues and country are significant influences here, so is white boy soul, as evidenced by the falsetto on ‘Already Know’. It neatly taps into the contemporary soul sound that has such significant hold on Nashville at the moment.

It’s this willingness to explore different musical strands and occasionally step out of his vocal comfort zone that gives ‘High Temperature’ a welcome left field approach.

The more you play it, the more his vocal phrasing and guitar licks stick in the mind. The question is whether a listener already saturated with such MOR albums has the patience to dig deep and find the treasure. ***

Review by Pete Feenstra


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: JARROD DICKENSON – Ready The Horses

Jarrod Dickenson - Ready The Horses

Decca [Release date 29.09.17]

Recorded live to tape in the UK, ‘Ready The Horses’ is an album by the Nashville based, Texan singer songwriter Jarrod Dickenson who isn’t so much a man of contradictions, as a musician following his muse.

‘Ready The Horses’ is a melange of country, soul, blues and Americana with a confessional singer-songwriter bent, that demands focused attention. Dickenson draws us into heartfelt narratives with enough substance to avoid cliché.

Jarrod Dickenson is self evidently a confident singer-songwriter with something to say. From the unabashed opening line of ‘Faint Of Heart’, he draws the listener in on the back of a tremolo laden shuffle which sounds like an old bluesy work song:  “No this ain’t for the faint of heart, No You’ve got to be strong, ‘cos it’s bound to go wrong”.

As in the classic opening scene of a film, it’s the power of suggestion that carries us through a cross-genre roots album cemented by real songcraft.

A combination of strong songs with a contrasting vocal vulnerability draws us into an album title that conveys the feeling that we’re being taken on a journey.

He moves from the soulful, bluesy retro feel of ‘Take It From Me’,  to the more brusque ‘Gold Rush’, a tale of greed and foreboding  on which the clanking percussive backdrop evokes a dark Tom Waits style narrative.

You suspect he’s happiest on the gentle acoustic duet with his wife Claire, ‘Your Heart Belongs To Me’. It’s voiced over a distant pedal steel on a number with lovely contrast. And it’s that balance of contrast and flow, with occasional bv’s and nuanced dynamics that gives the album its punch.

Each track reveals more layers of the onion, as Dickenson explores his song craft through the mood and feel of the music, and lyrical depth that rarely wastes a word.

The single ‘California’ is the perfect example of his craft. The pedal steel-led, meditative piece is the perfect foil for his emotive whispered vocal over a sub-waltz accompaniment, which builds impressively and flows into the hook.

It’s another example of the way the music and lyrics lock together, with occasional layered instrumentation proving an extra dynamic to the songs.

On ‘Way Past Midnight’ the clickety-clack rhythm could be Paul Simon, as it evokes a colourful narrative full of expectation: “This night has just begun, music is playing, the ladies are swaying, gonna dance until the dawn.”

‘In The Meantime’ is full of space and time, and draws us back to his country roots with a soulful horn arrangement. It’ s a well paced, subtly arranged relationship song, on which the sudden emphasis of the piano, organ and bv’s gives it a notable lift, and provides the perfect backdrop for his eloquent phrasing.

The Texas backdrop of ‘A Cowboy & The Moon’ probably narrows his appeal, but there’s no denying the emotional pull of ‘Nothing More’, which is a love song that stands on its own without the need for music labels.

Jarrod Dickenson’s ‘Ready The Horses’ will have immediate appeal to both country and Americana fans, but it’s the quality of the songs that will surely bring him much wider appeal.

He book ends the album with ‘I Won’t Quit’. And when he sings: “There’s still a long tall hill to climb, but I’ll get there in the end”, he leaves us in no doubt that he probably will. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra 


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: MACHINES DREAM – Black Science

MACHINES DREAM - Black Science

Progressive Gears  –  [Release date: 16.05.17]

With the notable and towering exception of Rush, Canada has not exactly been renowned for its contributors to the field of progressive rock.

That, however, is very much on the change with bands such as Huis, Inner Odyssey and Michel St Pere’s wonderful Mystery starting to turn  heads.

Add to this list Machines Dream, whose third album ‘Black Science’ has all the credentials to raise the band’s profile and, as a consequence, Canada’s progressive rock reputation.

Two years in the making, whilst ‘Black Science’ is not a concept album in the strictest sense of the phrase – it does however, take a long hard look back at the twentieth century with all its wars, the rise of fascism, the military/industrial complex and the internet with its attendant fake news and abuse of social media.

The band have, in more or less chronological order, painted aural pictures of the major events of the century – from the opening ‘Armistice Day’ with its piano and crashing guitars through to album closer’s ‘Noise To Signal’s’ call to arms to take back the internet from the trolls and big business.

It’s pretty much classic progressive rock all the way with Brian Holmes’ delicious keyboard work weaving its way around the exceptional guitar of Rob Coleman, with a checklist of time signature changes a-plenty, fortissimo and pianissimo and an articulate, informative libretto all ticked.

Plenty of highlights for aficionados of the genre to get excited about – the insistent piano motif and searing guitar of ‘Weimar’, the interesting twist of ‘Heavy Water’ where the lyrics attempt to get inside the heads of the crew of the Enola Gay, the nagging acoustic riff and Floydian sax of the title track and the juxtaposition of a jackhammer guitar riff with subtle piano work on ‘UXB’.

Best of the lot though is ‘Airfield On Sunwick’ which tells the tale of a platoon of Polish soldiers in WW2 who adopted and gave the rank of private to a Syrian Brown Bear (who they called Wojtek) – some magical keyboard work here with the added authenticity of a coda sung in Polish.

All in all a rather fine effort. The album is well recorded, immaculately played and with a thoughtful set of lyrics in progressive rock’s finest traditions.

Interesting to see where they take it next.  ****

Review by Alan Jones

Alan sequences “The Eclectic Mix” on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, second Sunday of the month at 18:00. Expect some prog.


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: BLACK SABBATH – The Ten Year War (Box Set)

BLACK SABBATH – The Ten Year War Box Set

BMG  [Release date 29.09.17]

Black Sabbath’s Ozzy-fronted albums have been given a monster remaster and the full luxury box set re-issue treatment. It is quite a piece of work.

The package has even had a roadshow of launch events. The playback shindig at the Gibson Rooms recently was used to give the audio quality of the new MQA digital format a full state-of-the-art PA system workout.

We were also treated to some good chat with Tom Allom, engineer on the first three landmark Sabs albums and Andy Pearce who has sprinkled his magic remaster dust over this eight-album package.

The exposed brick basement was low-lit and packed with label and band execs sporting Black Sabbath crucifix USB sticks on chains around their necks. You could be forgiven for thinking that the assembled media types, tech heads and hacks were in for a dark sermon. However, I was grateful for the dim surroundings which hid my blatant wardrobe malfunction. Inexplicably, I was wearing my ‘Fender’ T-shirt to a Gibson-hosted bash.

We learned that ‘The Ten Year War’ box set has been two years in the making: tracking down and comparing original tapes, cleaning up the sound, perfecting the digital quality,  clearing the tracks with the band.

The name of the package comes from a rare brochure produced by the band themselves which pulled together some early press clippings slaughtering them and their style. We heard entertaining snippets from original Rolling Stone reviews, amongst others, that rubbished ‘Black Sabbath’ with some inexplicable – with the hindsight that 47 years brings – comparisons to Cream and Eric Clapton.

Of course there simply were no other benchmarks for what Sabbath were bringing to the party. In a nutshell, that’s why, all these years later, we gathered in a dark basement to mark a  relaunch.

Allom raised a laugh when he said that he wasn’t a fan of the band at first. “I just didn’t get it. But they were so professional. We recorded that album in two days. Like a live set.”

Stories about the recording process were gold. Like not needing to mic up Geezer’s bass because it was so loud already. And Bill Ward recording the entire ‘Paranoid’ album with his foot in plaster.

Andy Pearce said he recognised that there was a burden of cultural responsibility for his part in the process. The event majored, understandably, on the quality of the remasters and on the significant improvement to the digital sound brought through MQA technology.

The burning question is what do we have here?

Black Sabbath (1970)

Black Sabbath (1970)

Tom Allom said that the thunder, rain and tolling bell in the first few moments of the album was producer Rodger Bain’s idea. Genius, of course. Oft copied, never bettered. Even the most cynical minds must sense the foreboding drama that gives way to Iommi’s colossal, ground-breaking riff and Butler’s doom-laden lyrics. Defining moments in rock ‘n’ roll and I make no apology for the verbosity.

The remastering process has added value to the overall sound, but it’s often in the detail where the benefit is felt to best effect. Take ‘NIB’. The opening riff is as deliciously thick as treacle. Every distorted vibration of the strings on Iommi’s black Gibson crawls out of the speaker like we are in the studio with Allom and the boys.

‘Black Sabbath’ has lots of complex moments as well. This first album set the template for pretty much for the rest of their career for involved arrangements, time changes, and songs within songs. The instrumental sections on ‘Warning’ have psychedelic and blues influences. There’s a real Doors feeling about the track. ‘Sleeping Village’ picks up with remarkably clarity the double tracked guitars, flowing into some prog-like instrumental breaks.  And where does Ozzy’s High Plains Drifter-style harp on ‘The Wizard’ come from?

Pioneering. ****½

Black Sabbath - Paranoid (1970)

Paranoid (1970)

Within months, the band, Bain and Allom were back in the same studio for the follow up. Allom explained that the band still had plenty of material tucked away in their kit bag from their early Sabbath and pre-Sabbath days playing under the name Earth.

The album, like their debut, was in the can in equally short order. However, not quite so smoothly. The unsuspecting record buying public had taken to ‘Black Sabbath’ and its terrifying sound in droves. Consequently, the label wanted a hit single. So Iommi and the band decamped to the pub and pretty swiftly came up with ‘Paranoid’. At the last minute this also became the album title. The label had their hit and the band had, arguably, an even finer album.

Certainly the standout tracks have withstood the ravages of time. We all know about ‘Paranoid’. Alongside it, the heroic, cacophonous riffs of ‘War Pigs’ and ‘Iron Man’ remain spine-tinglingly good in their cleaned up form. The biggest sounds of their entire career are on this platter.

The band already seemed more assured here. Particularly Ozzy. On ‘Electric Funeral’ the mainman was already developing that wry, ironic style of vocal delivery that he employed to great effect on subsequent outings. ‘Hand of Doom’ sees him experimenting with shades of a drawling tone and hints of the gruffer, belly growl that surfaced in full effect on later albums.

The contrasts are there too. The whimsical ‘Planet Caravan’ keeps everything grounded, ‘Fairies Wear Boots’ is built around a gorgeous blues shuffle for its main theme; and ‘Rat Salad’ chucks in a hint of the breadth of Ward’s drumming.

Emphatic. *****

Black Sabbath - Master Of Reality (1971)

Master of Reality (1971)

This was the last album recorded by the Rodger Bain/Tom Allom axis. Tom comments that it was harder to record and took more time because the band had used up their well of early material. The schedule of touring, promoting, recording was already taking its toll on the time to write songs.

The end result is an album even heavier and darker than its predecessors. Iommi down-tuned his strings on ‘Children Of The Grave’, ‘Into The Void’ and others to produce a dense, hard sound given a dry twist in these remastered versions. The sounds and lyrical themes were to become so influential amongst the later doom and stoner generations.

Ward’s drumming on ‘Children Of The Grave’ is spell-binding. Allom commented that he and Geezer Butler had a great understanding in the studio and their timing and playing evoked a jazz style. Certainly Ward’s playing on these albums contrasts massively with the same material played live on the recent ‘The End’ tour where tour drummer Tommy Clufetos was heard to smash seven shades of shining out of his kit.

‘Sweat Leaf’ inspired by some new recreational habits and ‘After Forever’ provide the album’s most accessible tracks. The latter also features the first hints of synthesizer, played by Iommi, which gives the track a distinctive flavour.

Influential. ****½

Black Sabbath - Vol.4 (1972)

Vol 4 (1972)

Although at the time Vol 4 was regarded as experimental with its use of strings and spare ballads, the album stands up massively. The harsher, shadowy stance of ‘Master of Reality’ still forms the core of this Iommi-produced record – witness track likes ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’ and the immense ‘Cornucopia’. But there’s a whole lot more going on that sees the sound stretch out.

The opener ‘Wheels of Confusion’ sets the tone with Ozzy’s almost uplifting vocal melody over the top of the guttural main riff. The instrumental passage towards the end of the track is delicious. Likewise, ‘Supernaut’ is simply superb. A crunching couple of riffs set the track up over Geezer’s swelling bass and Ozzy punching holes through the wall of sound with sharp lyrics. Even funky flamenco guitar interlude works. I’m not sure the band ever bested this.

Unless, that is, you consider that they did so on the very next track. ‘Snowblind’ was to be the name of the album, a transparent reference to its cocaine-influenced recording process, until the record company put their foot down.  Ozzy’s vocal performance is one of his most plaintive and Bill Ward weaves some challenging patterns over the bassline.  The spikes of synth and lead guitar lift the track into the stratosphere.

The album is probably the most complete of the Ozzy era. Where, for all the drug-intake, somehow their experience shone through before cynicism, infighting and narcotic abuse became too corrosive.

Sublime. *****

Black Sabbath - Sabbath Bloody Sabbath (1973)

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath  (1973)

The title track is an absolute killer. A sprawling riff complemented beautifully by Ozzy’s soaring vocal. There are some tender moments here, immediately counterpointed by sharp, biting guitar and descending rhythms. The outro is exceptional. Light and shade in an expansive format, the way that only Sabbath can pull off.

Nothing else on the album comes close. For my money, ‘SBS’ is the least intense, most disjointed of their Ozzy-era output. There were reports that the band were pretty much burning out by this period. This collection could well be testimony to that view. Or maybe the desire to experiment left a mark. Even the microscopic remastering of this material can’t build in cohesion and, well, heaviness. There are moments – all of ‘Killing Yourself To Live’, bits of ‘A National Acrobat’, most of ‘Sabra Cadabra’ – that hit the heights, but the overall impression is of a lack of direction and power.

A middling effort, lifted significantly by the title track alone.

Inconsistent. ***½ 

Black Sabbath - Sabotage (1975)

Sabotage (1975)

Despite on-going litigation with their former manager during the recording of this album, ‘Sabotage’ was a massive return to form. It strikes a productive balance between heavy, dirty tracks and the experimental, creative sound.

‘Hole In The Sky’ and ‘Symptom of the Universe’ are epic, power-laden slabs of darkness. Ozzy is visceral with Geezer’s monumental lyrics. Sabbath at their muscular best. The latter has been cited as a catalyst for the 80’s thrash movement.

The remastering really comes into its own on the impressive ‘Megalomania’ where the cleaned up keyboards on the early section provide added substance; and on the thumping bass under the raw and then synthesised mid-section riffs. Ozzy here is smashing up the lyrics with real zeal and energy. The use of backing vocals brings a rarely used dynamic. The frontman is similarly animated on album closer, ‘The Writ’, a track for which he penned the lyrics. This album captures some of his best singing.

When Sabbath are on form they have a knack of chucking ingredients into the mixing console and coming out gems instead of turkeys. ‘Supertzar’ could be film music in more clumsy hands with its choir placed front and centre, but somehow hangs on to an edge; ‘Am I Going Insane (Radio)’ has a commercial twang that nevertheless easily stays the right side of a pop mediocrity.

Expansive. *****

Black Sabbath - Technical Ecstasy (1976)

Technical Ecstasy (1976)

Technical Ecstasy doesn’t always get the praise it deserves – sometimes from the band themselves. Yet it has plenty of high points: ‘Back Street Kids’ is a traditional Sabbath barn-storming album opener; ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Doctor’ still gets the blood pumping with its scything riff, honkey-tonk piano and Bill Ward in powerhouse mode; and ‘Dirty Women’ has a great guitar/keyboard groove, surprisingly given an airing on the recent ‘The End’ tour.

Nevertheless, it is easy to see why it is less loved than the earlier classics. In some ways it is a product of the times. The turbulent music scene, not to mention tensions within the band led to an album lacking intensity. The tracks are on the whole shorter and less complex than on earlier outings. More worryingly, the production feels lightweight and a little too clean.

That said, this was the last Sabs album I got to know, back in the day, and it is a grower. The remastered tracks reveal subtleties and layers that are less obvious on earlier albums. The keyboard on ‘You Won’t Change Me’ comes shining through and Geezer’s grinding, funky bass on ‘All Moving Parts (Stand Still)’ gets a welcome boost.

At worst, the album stands accused of being half-hearted. Ozzy doesn’t attack the vocals (‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Doctor’ and bits of ‘Dirty Women’ excepted) in the way he does at his best. And some of the compositions are lazy and hackneyed. For instance, there’s no excuse for ‘Gypsy’ and ‘She’s Gone’ is excruciating in the way that ‘Changes on ‘Vol 4’ is tender.

This is far from a bad album, but it does suffer in comparison with earlier heavyweight classics.

Polished. ***½

Black Sabbath - Never Say Die (1978)

Never Say Die! (1978)

More educated ears than mine will tell you that this was an album too far for Ozzy and that the material suffers as a result. But taken at face value, there is a lot of good stuff going on here. At least initially.

Picking up the thread of shorter, tighter songs pioneered on Technical Ecstasy, ‘Never Say Die!’ sticks with the direct approach. The title track sets the driving, defiant tone for what we can once again call Side 1.

Next up, ‘Johnny Blade’ has a brilliant lyric, delivered in ironic-style out of the side of Ozzy’s mouth over a dark keyboard/guitar riff. ‘Junior’s Eyes’ follows in a landslide of smash-and-grab riffing, another great lyric allegedly about Osbourne’s father, and a blistering solo. Then into the pumping grind of ‘A Hard Road’ with an almost anthemic chorus. These four tracks fit together so well and are master strokes of sequencing.

If this album was an EP, it would be solid five star. Sadly, there is a Side 2. This is where events take a nosedive. ‘Shock Wave’ has a gritty riff, but takes in a few too many distractions along the way.  ‘Air Dance’ is a weak, stylistically confused mish-mash and ‘Over To You’ has the most insipid delivery of any of Ozzy’s vocal performances over a rambling piano. ‘Breakout’ and and ‘Swinging The Chain’ are underwhelming tracks to bring down the curtain on the first and by far most important phase of Ozzy’s Sabbath career. As the lyric goes in the latter track, “We’re so sorry, sorry that it happened that way.”

Unfocused. ***

Black Sabbath - The Ten Years Box Set

The box set (2017)

Where does this leave us then? For your £200 (retail price), The Ten Year War package gives you eight albums on heavy-weight splatter-vinyl encased in original artwork gatefold sleeves; the Ten Year War brochure; the Black Sabbath cruci-stick USB of all eight albums; and a few other goodies. When all is said and done, is it worth it? Well, the remasters sound fantastic. The music stands up absolutely, notwithstanding a few later album wobbles. Even the digital quality, disregarding the hype, is better than other technological offerings to this point. The tracks still sounds excellent even through a non-MQA player. So, yep, absolutely. To the collector, this is worth every penny. *****

Review by Dave Atkinson

More information


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: KOTEBEL – Cosmology

KOTEBEL – Cosmology

Musea [Release date 06.07.17]

Kotebel is a Venezualan/Spanish prog rock band with classical and fusion influences.

‘Cosmology’ derives its title from the study of the universe and it’s an exploratory, quasi- conceptual prog album, that draws on composer and keyboard player Carlos Plaza Vegas’s classical grounding, but quickly references the prog giants of the past.

The band adds its own innovative exploratory touches with some lightning riffing and intricate interplay on a series of thematic pieces that is prog rock at its best.

‘Cosmology’ is all about celebrating the moment, as the band starts with broad based compositions that build up little tensions that they beautifully resolve with improvised playing over fast moving, cross genre pieces.

Vegas adds an array of keyboards that nuances the different moods of the compositions. He emphasizes melodies and explores several layered sounds to fit the fast moving musical landscape.

He also composed 5 of the 9 pieces here, but Kotebel reach for the stars as a unit, powered by the relentless drive of drummer Carlos Franco Vivas and bassist Jaime Pascual Summers. The rhythm section is locked in from the start and constantly pushes the front line players to new heights.

Pianist Adriana Plaza Engelke interweaves her snaking piano lines round Vegas’s grand gestures, while guitarist Cesar Garcia Forero’s piercing tone cuts through the main bulk of the pieces like a knife through butter.

The fact that the ensemble build and resolve a succession of pieces over stop-start arrangements that pull us into a plethora of musical directions, says as much about their musical vision as it does about their technical ability.

‘Cosmology’ is about shifting moods and feels, as much as it is about the musical excellence that makes it all possible

The 4 piece ‘Cosmology Suite’ alone, takes the band into some magical places where the instruments feed off each other over sudden tempo changes.

One lead instrument gives way to another as each piece evolves. ‘Entangled Universe’ for example, opens frenetically and then settles on a meditative middle section with a synth backdrop, before a pulsating finish.

The album opens with an ethereal backdrop on ‘Post Ignem’, which quickly shifts via a Latino feel to a sudden organ and piecing guitar break that announces that this is indeed a prog rock album.

It’s an exemplar of what is to follow, with sudden tempo changes that lead from a frenetic start to a heavier big drum part and spiraling guitar explorations.

‘Geocentric Universe’ opens the 4 part ‘Cosmology Suite’ and pairs flautist Omar Acosta with pianist Adriana Plaze Engelke, who in turn leads the band into a jazzy Bop style, as Acosta solo’s extravagantly.

‘Mechanical Universe’ is a clever synth-led, percussive piece with booming chords that evokes the song’s title. But there’s contrast too, with the lightness of touch of Cesar Garcia Ferro guitar solo, as the synth and piano effectively double up.

There’s a constant restlessness and adventurous feel to the music, as the band moves from a claustrophobic King Crimson feel to fractured Tull like staccato rhythms. Vegas further thickens the sound with some Camel style moog backdrops on a piece with occasional flashes of symphonic rock.

They say when you’re not sure about a piece of music, you should follow the drums. And while ‘Cosmology’ is self evidently the sum of its parts, drummer Vivas is a joy. His subtle press rolls, crisp cymbal work and relentless drive builds the perfect platform for the band to stretch out.

There’s a lovely moment just over the 5 minute mark on ‘Oneness’, when he racks up the energy levels with pianist Engelke, before an unexpected keyboard sweep and a defining melodic guitar line that fleetingly evokes Genesis.

In truth, the band doesn’t dwell on a musical idea long enough to be burdened by comparisons, as their adventurous spirit leads them to a wide ranging musical canvas.

‘Cosmology’ sounds like structured music, but with a free-form heart. The compositions leave plenty of room for every member to stretch out, which they do with breathless intent.

The faux vocals and keyboards on ‘Mishima’s Dream’ briefly evokes Focus, while ‘A Bao A Qu’ (presumably based on Jorge Luis Borges’s ‘Book Of Imaginary Beings’), is full of percussive drive, layered keyboards and fusion guitar work with a belated ethereal drop-down, while ‘Dante’s Paradise Canto XXV111’ is all about contrast.

Some heavy booming rock guitar gives way to an acoustic-into-electric powerhouse rock piece that owes much to Robert Fripp and builds into something that would have fitted into King Crimson’s ‘Red’ album.

‘Cosmology’ ticks all the right boxes. There’s muscular playing, lingering melodies, sparkling solos and above all, inspired band interplay that stands up to repeated scrutiny.

‘Cosmology’ is a fine slice of contemporary prog rock, and is an essential purchase for fans of the genre. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Quick plays: THE JERRY DOUGLAS BAND, QUIET RIOT, WORLD TRADE

THE JERRY DOUGLAS BAND What If

Rounder Records [Release date 18.08.17]

Jerry Douglas has played and appeared on over 1,600 albums, from artists such as Ray Charles, Paul Simon and Eric Clapton, plus he has been a member of Alison Kraus’s Union Station band since 1998.

On his latest album he adds more jazz to the usual bluegrass and blues playing he is most associated with. Opener ‘Cavebop’ is a re-recording of one of his older tunes and this time around is given added horns, to the overall jazzy feel. He does a sterling cover of Tom Waits’ ’2:19′ and vocally he reminds me of Ry Cooder.

You just have to hear the upbeat bluegrass adaptation of the Hendrix classic ‘Hey Joe’. The pace of the guitar picking, fiddles and drums is amazing. So much musical variety on here, with the playing on the Celtic feel on ‘Go Ahead And Leave’ another album high point.

Amazing playing and tunes, that’s all you really need from a album and worth it just to hear the playing and skills of Jerry Douglas and his band. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

QUIET RIOT Road Rage

Frontiers [Release date 04.08.17]

Since Quiet Riot released their last album, 2014′s ’10′ vocalist Jizzy Pearl bid the ban farewell last year. He was replaced by Sean Nicholls (ex-Addler’s Appetite), yet he was gone in a month and current vocalist James Durbin joined. He has appeared on ‘American Idol’ and has a high octave vocal that’s for sure! He joins sole original member drummer Frankie Banali, bassist Chuck Wright and guitarist Alex Grossi. Neil Citron is also worth noting, as he co-writes all of the music, mainly with Banali, with James Durbin penning all the lyrics.

The main problem with this album is it lacks good songs, plus the sound is poor, demo standard at best. Nothing is so terrible you skip it, but then no song bar ‘Getaway’ and ‘Freak Flag’, have you wanting you to hear them again.

Not a patch on the band’s glory days and the production sounds like demos lacking that final producer/engineer touch. Not bad, but a far way from essential and lacks any killer tunes.  Cool cover though… **1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

WORLD TRADE Unify

Frontiers [Release date 04.08.17]

World Trade’s debut album was released way back in 1989 and we have had one more album since then, 1995′s ‘Euphoria’, after which the band split. Now they are back some twenty odd years later with their third album ‘Unify’. The original line-up is involved, namely Billy Sherwood (Yes), Unruly Child’s Bruce Gowdy and Guy Allison, plus Mark T Williams. World Trade are one of those bands that can be too melodic/AOR for some prog fans and conversely to prog at times for lovers of melodic rock.

The debut is well worth owning, however this album doesn’t really set the old musical pulses racing. The vocals sound overproduced and the songs meld into one being of similar pace and musical style. That said, ‘Where We’re Going’ is a good piece of melodic prog rock. Sadly the title of ‘Same Old Song’ pretty much sums up the majority of the music on here. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



EP review: THE VIRGINMARYS – Sitting Ducks

Self Release [Release date 22.09.17]

The Virginmarys have had a roller coaster ride of a career to date, with many favourable plaudits for their music from the press, big name tour support slots and their debut album made the US Billboard Heatseekers chart (the chart for artists yet to have an album in the top 200 Billboard album chart) at number 8. Then towards the end of last year bassist Matt Rose left and the band’s record contract ended. Luckily for the remaining duo of Ally Dickaty (vocals, guitar) and Danny Dolan (drums), the band have a large and loyal fan base who allowed them the chance to self-release this new EP via Pledge Music.

Four songs on the EP, with the ultra catchy ‘Sweet Loretta’ already being released as a single. Big foot stomping beat and tight guitar riffs lift the song, along with an instant chorus. The Virginmarys are often categorised as a punk band, however they seem to go with their instincts as the EP’s title track is decent rocker driven by a synth riff and another memorable chorus.

‘Through The Sky’ features a neat guitar solo, although overall the song doesn’t match the other three songs on here. Last song on the EP, ‘Sleep’, slows the pace right down and is the strongest song lyrically. The minimal instrumentation on the song allows Ally Dickaty’s vocals to take centre stage.

The Virginmarys look set for their next musical chapter and based on this EP they have plenty of musical ideas left. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: MOLLIE MARRIOTT – Truth Is A Wolf

Mollie Marriott - Truth Is A Wolf

Amadeus Music [Release date 03.11.17]

Having spent most of her career as an in demand backing vocalist, Mollie Marriott’s debut album ‘Truth Is A Wolf’ is an exercise in finding her own style on a diverse set of songs.

Her family ties and CV speaks for itself, but the transition from accompanist to solo artist demands strong songs, a signature vocal style and an album in the old fashioned sense of the word, that will give her a recognizable calling card.

She partly achieves all the above with some heartfelt songs that move from the reflective to the self empowering and always aim to emphasize lyrical meaning.

The first three tracks alone tell us plenty about her abilities both as a singer and songwriter, albeit the title track is a cover.

She opens with the lead single ‘Control’ which is a mission statement for her independence. It initially sounds like the indie rock of Chantel McGregor, but then builds to a big uplifting choral hook which suddenly evokes mid 70’s Jefferson Starship, before a buzz tone guitar break.

The song also has the kind of strong bv’s that she herself is known for. It’s short, sharp and immediate with a perfunctory finish and is good choice for a single.

It breathlessly segues into the tic-toc snare drum of the relationship song ‘Broken’. Sam Tanner’s nuanced piano line draws us into a layered hook and a vocal collage full of significant ‘ooohs and aaahs’, before a sinewy guitar line is topped by Marriott soaring voice on a big production finish.

The funky mid-tempo Gary Nicholson/Bonnie Hayes penned title track also features Paul Weller on guitar. It fits into the current Nashville roots rock template and impresses with an eerie hook and a nuanced stuttering finish.

It’s arguably the best track on the album, but pulls Marriott towards an already over populated Nashville driven musical marketplace, meaning it might get lost in the shuffle.

The ballad ‘Give Me A Reason’ aims for the same destination, but doesn’t quite convince. It simply needs a more assertive vocal, a fact that the drone like arrangement and choral bv’s can’t disguise.

‘Love Your Bones’ is one of two self penned songs and is arguably the closest to her true style. It’s a song about loss which gradually builds momentum and flows into the hook, complete faux jangling bells and synth, as Maggie’s vocal hovers over the top.

The album features 8 collaborations in all, suggesting she’s open to finding the right style and balance. She’s happiest working on a groove such as the excellent ‘Transformer’. As with the following ‘’King Of Hearts’, it’s co-penned with Judie Tzuke and Graham Kearns and is an atmospheric piece that cleverly evokes the unease of struggling relationship and again looks to self empowerment.

‘King Of Hearts’ is a more languid groove with an electro atmospheric feel. It provides the showcase for her eloquent melodic phrasing and perfect diction, and builds unexpectedly to a big wall of sound with a lovely spacey guitar fade.

Sequenced as the penultimate song, it reveals her true forte on a smouldering piece with a climatic finish. The powerful arrangement is perfectly suited to her vocal range and might even have been considered as the final track, except she’s got a bigger finish in mind.

‘My Heaven Can Wait’ is co-written by Jim Stapley who also contributes bv’s on the project. It draws on all the core elements that bind the album together, from Marriott’s own soaring vocal to the big wall of sound and choral bv’s, while Ben Curtis’s eerie harp-drone finale is part of several electro brush strokes that give the album its contemporaneity.

‘Truth Is A Wolf’ flows mellifluously, courtesy of a meticulous production that is split 70/30 between Steve Orchard and Jan Kybert. It’s a slow burner with enough lyrical and musical depth to reveal more with each play. But you suspect repeats listens will be heavily dependent on the attention grabbing qualities of the lead single. ***½ 

Review by Pete Feenstra

Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: GWYN ASHTON – Solo Elektro

Pete Feenstra chats to Gwyn Ashton and plays tracks from ‘Solo Elektro’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio (repeated, Tuesday 15 August 21:00 GMT)  More information

GWYN ASHTON – Solo Elektro

Fab Tone Records [Release date 01.09.17]

Having established himself worldwide as power-house rock-blues guitarist, Anglo/Australian multi instrumentalist Gwyn Ashton has lately been focusing on his song writing, as well as immersing himself in experimental alt.blues rooted psychedelia in a one man band format.

The aptly named ‘Solo Elektro’ is full of the kind of buzz tone, psychedelic drone meets stoner rock that has led to a younger audience pitching up at his gigs.

Together with his Melbourne based songwriting partner Garry Allen, he effectively restates of some of his extant influences, while exploring new musical directions that gives him much more freedom from the restrictive expectations of the blues rock market.

Gwyn describes Solo Elektro thus: “A Psychedelic, stoner blues rock album with a difference. It was recorded by one guy with a guitar, vocal mic, bass drum and octave divider – 100% live.”

And it’s that sense of spontaneity with a melange of guitar tones and a one take vibe that gives this album its rarefied organic feel.

He top and tails a wide ranging album with the psychedelic drone style mantra of ‘Metaphysical Journey’ and ‘Metaphysical Journey (Reprise)’. It’s not so much a coherent musical journey, as a series of linked audio sketches threaded together by an ever changing musical canvas shaped by the moment.

A song is often sparked by a riff, an essential guitar tone, a vocal phrase or even a groove, but the fact there’s no safety net makes for a sense of immediacy too often lacking in over produced albums.

There’s a tableaux of mood changes and plenty of contrast as his psychedelic muse weaves itself in and out of the tracks. ‘Dawn of Tomorrow’ for example, is one of the best tracks on the album, being a tad more restrained with a gentle opening guitar figure, echo laden vocals and an ethereal feel that matches the album as a whole. It’s a spacey track with a late 60’s psychedelic feel before a sudden tempo change as he jams his way to an acapella finish.

Gwyn apparently set up a mobile studio in 3 separate hotel rooms while on tour and treated his lap top like a tape machine.  Being a one man band takes a lot of coordinating, especially when you envelop yourself in the growling buzz tone, and the kind of psychedelic wall of sound that makes ‘Freedom’ sound like something from a 60’s garage band.

Were it not for the growling guitar tone it could almost mark the era when bands like The Pretty Things moved over from R&B to prog and psychedelia. It also emphasizes the durability of the impact The Beatles made with ‘Revolver’.

Either way, Gwyn works up a head of steam with some feverish guitar work and a chanted hook that acts like mantra.

The great thing about this music is that it spans decades. There’s the ‘can do’ spirit and song writing sensibilities of Jack White and also The Black Keys,  but there’s also some timeless retro influences that still evoke a time when the counter culture led to social change.

‘Into Your Blood’ is different again, being a slide-led bluesy stomp full of bluster, while in sharp contrast he veers towards minimalism on ‘Late Night’, as the atmospheric feel of the track cleverly evokes the song title.

You suspect the overall musical direction and varied tones are a function of instruments and technology at his disposal. There are subtle changes of tone colour, tempo shifts, and gnawing riffs buried deep in a post psychedelic Phil Spector style wall of sound.

He often delivers his vocals in unison with his guitar lines, mirroring the fact he needs to keep a consistent rhythm. It all adds to a certain muscularity of approach that lies at the core of music. He chases a vibe and reaches for an eclectic quality that draws on the blues, but is never hemmed in by it, as he explores his muse adventurously.

Listen for example, to the shuffle driven ‘Please Allow Me’ on which he works towards a Howlin’ Wolf like growl on the other side of some spiky guitar work.

Best of all, is the way the albums flows and each track makes a sufficient impact to draw the listener into the next effort. And it’s that between song tension that Gwyn cleverly exploits and subsequently resolves on a bunch of songs that never settle for the clichéd or mundane.

He reveals some of his formative influences on the echo reverb intro of ‘Kind To Be Cruel’ – which fuses a Beatles circa ‘Abbey Road’ feel with Peter Green’s ‘Green Manalishi’ on a song that ultimately moves into heavier domain as he fuses Sabbath with stoner rock.

If you’ve never heard Gwyn Ashton before listening to this album, you’d swear he’s part of an underground contemporary scene you might have missed. The fact he’s been round the block a few times and is able to take his recording career in such a radically different direction speaks volumes about his adventurous spirit and musical vision.

‘Solo Elektro’ flies the flag for a psychedelic indie blues artist who is only truly happy when he finds new exciting outlets for his oeuvre. It’s an album shot through with raw, brash, kick-ass psychedelic tinged stoner rock with a blues heart and is worthy of your attention. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Album review: WALTER TROUT – We’re All In This Together

WALTER TROUT – We're All In This Together

Provogue Records [Release date 01.09.17]

‘We’re All In This Together’ is a star studded album that celebrates Walter Trout’s blues related musical diversity. It also finds him at the peak of his creativity, as he comes up with new ways to accommodate his guests, as his band does him proud.

The two tracks with Mike Zito and Edgar Winter are outstanding departures from Trout’s normal forte. The Trout/Zito collaboration on ‘She Listens To The Blackbird Sing’ has a lovely acoustic intro, subtle harmonies and an Allman Brothers feel from the guitar parts to some Chuck Leavell style piano fills. The beautiful harmony guitar break in the middle of the track illustrates just how good technology can be in capturing spark.

‘She Steals My Heart Away’ is a beguiling sub-Latino sax led duet with Edgar Winter, on which Edgar adds a trademark gritty sax solo to his gnarled vocal refrain. It’s a perfect example of how an album of mostly self penned material pulls Trout into hitherto unexplored musical directions.

If Walter Trout felt elated about the prospect of recording an album of jams after 2 studio albums and a live cut that mainly dealt with his battle back to health, then there must have come a point when he realized the enormity of the project at hand.

He set himself the task of penning a diverse, but musically related batch of songs to provide a suitable showcase for both his own style and those of his guests.

Given the demands of geography and work schedules, this album also falls in line with the common working practice of laying down the basic tracks and then dropping in the guest’s contributions afterwards.

This in itself demands a new approach to recording which supersedes any red button dilemmas and has to deal with making the middle ground – the meeting of the backing track with the dropped in solo – sound both coherent and exciting. After all there is no point of having a roster of guests to die for, if none of them play to their full potential.

And while it may be de rigueur nowadays to have a few special guests on your album, ‘We’re All In This Together’ is a roll call of the top table of rocking blues artists and the challenge is to make both a coherent and exciting album.

Three blues-harp related tracks provide contrast and feel, as Charlie Musselwhite’s soul dripping harp and conversational vocal is the perfect foil for one of Trout’s best vocal performances on ‘The Other Side Of The Pillow’.

Trout’s former mentor John Mayall also opts for harp rather than piano on the acoustic country blues feel of ‘Blues For Jimmy T’, a homage to Trout’s original bass player Jimmy Trapp. It’s a track with real feel that draws us in with a  Spartan arrangement.  John Nemeth also trades harp licks with Trout’s guitar and adds a soulful retort on an archetypal stop-time Walter rocker called ‘Too Much To Carry’.

The album smoulders, flickers and then burns when the magic happens, usually on second half of a respective track as the ensemble stretches out.

Listen for example, to Warren Haynes’s imperious slide playing and they way both he and Trout seamlessly coalesce on an otherwise obvious cover of ‘The Sky Is Crying’. Then there’s the hotly anticipated meeting with Joe Bonamassa on the title track finale. It’s one of three tracks that was actually cut face to face – The Edgar Winter and Jon Trout tracks are the others – and Walter and Joe step things up with added urgency at the three quarter point as they strain at the leash.

Trout maybe moving into the veteran stage of his career, but when he locks horns with the mighty Randy Bachman on the rocking ‘Got Nothin’ Left’, it’s like a collective flashback to a rock and roll era which thankfully they’ve never forgotten.

Robben Ford brings poise to the jazz related title ‘Mr. Davis’, on a good choice for a guitarist who has spent most of his career crossing over the jazz and blues genres. The contrast of tones and attack gives the track its edge and could only have been bettered by adding some horn stabs.

I guess the ultimate litmus test would be to imagine what this album would sound like without the guests. The truth is there are plenty of ripping tracks here that would sparkle on their own. Trout and his band work hard to provide the perfect backdrop for a generation of rock blues players.

Sound engineer Eric Corne is also crucial element, as he cements the project with a consistency of sonic quality that glues everything together.

This is an honest album on which you can sometimes feel the shift from the tentative to the magical, as on the way Sonny Landreth fills ‘Ain’t Goin’ Back’ with some signature slide guitar, and also the way Eric Gales adds his second starburst solo and a warm vocal on ‘Somebody Goin’ Down’ to provide a soulful foil for Walter’s bristling passion.

It’s also an album that provides contrast and surprise by turns. Listen for example, to the way it moves from the Trout and Winter melodic sensibility to the riff driven intensity of ‘Crash And Burn’, featuring Joe Louis Walker on a sinewy solo and animated vocal.

There’s also an excellent collaboration with Walter’s son Jon Trout, who adds an authoritative vocal on the Latino influenced ‘Do You Still See Me At All’, which evokes Trout senior’s early career ‘Sweet As A Flower.’

‘We’re All In This Together’ is some achievement. It’s an aptly titled album that reflects Trout’s high standing in the blues rock world. It’s more than a follow up to 2006’s ‘Full Circle’ as the material is stronger and Trout’s own performance is so much more focused and disciplined.

His guests act as catalyst for a broad based blues-rock album that flows from beginning to end. It burns with commitment, passion and sparkles with real quality that mirrors the triumph of the whole over the minutiae of its making. ****½

Review by Pete Feenstra

Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 20:00


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



Quick plays: MARTIN SIMPSON, RIVERDOGS, HIRSH GARDNER

MARTIN SIMPSON Trails & Tribulations

Topic Records [Release date 01.09.17]

Trails & Tribulations’ is Martin Simpson’s twentieth album in a career spanning over 40 years. As he says the album “is a collection of songs about nature, about travels and about real life stories. There are traditional songs, poems and contemporary songs by great writers, and songs that I had to write because nobody else knew what I wanted to say.” The wistful ‘Maps’ being a prime example of his aim on this album.

There is a wonderful version of ‘Reynardine’ (previously covered by Fairport Convention and Martin Carthy amongst others), where Martin Simpson’s soothing vocal sits on top of his deft acoustic guitar playing. Throughout the album there is astounding playing on both acoustic guitar and banjo, notably on ‘Bones and Feathers’.

Traditional folk music and songs never ages and here we have a master at work. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

RIVERDOGS California

Frontiers [Release date 07.07.17]

Riverdogs released their self-titled debut album back in 1990, however they got lost in the grunge deluge and guitarist Vivian Campbell quit the band in 1992 to join Def Leppard. They reconvened in 2003 and songs from then made up much of 2011′s ’World Gone Mad’, and now we have their new album ‘California’.

Vivian Campbell lays down some seriously smokin’ solos, including ‘The Revolution Starts Tonight’ and big riffs on the radio friendly ‘American Dream’, aided by vocalist Rob Lamothe’s guitar. Speaking of Rob Lamothe his singing takes the band up a level, be it on the bluesy ‘Something Inside’ or ‘Golden Glow’ – think the guitars Alter Bridge meets the Tea Party – both are superb songs.

‘Searching For A Signal’ has a hint of Blue Oyster Cult about it and again Vivian Campbell’s solo is pretty damn fine. He has certainly put all his energy into this album and Last In Line, after his health issues and more power to him.

Classy music from start to finish, lets hope the Riverdogs can keep the momentum going and tour this album. They are too good to become another ‘lost gem’ of a band… ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

HIRSH GARDNER My Brain Needs A Holiday

Escape Music www.escape-music.com [Release date 24.08.17]

Hirsh Gardner is best known as the drummer with AOR/pomp rockers New England who released three albums between 1978 and 1982. They have since reformed and a new album could well be planned in the future. However, before then Hirsh Gardner releases his new album and on the limited edition bonus edition you get a copy of his first solo album, ‘Wasteland For Broken Hearts’. He is joined by fellow New England band mate Jimmy Waldo (who himself has been busy touring in Graham Bonnet’s band) and a few top notch guests including Jon Butcher, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal (ex-G’N'R) and Richie Rano (Starz).

It is a mixed musical bag ranging from the Slade like fun of the title track and the AOR-tastic ‘Lost In The Darkness’. Queen and pomp rock fans will love ‘Love Is’, that starts with a Beach Boys harmony before launching into all manner of pomp shenanigans. Great one  for the headphones. However, ‘Get It Back’ does stray after a stonking guitar intro – the programmed beats and sampling vocals seem out of place with the rest of the album.

Ballads are all present and correct with the heartfelt ‘Diamond Moon’ a stand out. Those harmonies are back again in force at the start on the cover of Procul Harum’s ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’. Pretty decent version, although it sticks pretty much to the original arrangement.

It will please fans of New England and anyone after a little AOR/pomp rock with a distinct 80′s edge. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


Get Ready to ROCK! Radio

More information
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.


Power Plays w/c 14 August 2017


MOLLIE MARRIOTT Broken (Amadeus Music)
BLACK CAT BONES Seen Better Days (indie)
ORESTEA Welcome To Surviville (indie)
MARTINA EDOFF Champions (AOR Heaven)
GHOSTS OF SOCIAL NETWORKS If This Isn’t Love (indie)
THE BOTTOM LINE I Still Hate You (indie)


Featured Albums w/c 14 August (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 THE NIGHTS The Nights (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 NEWMAN Aerial (AOR Heaven)
14:00-16:00 BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone (True North Records)



News: BLACK SABBATH – Ten Year War Box Set (September 2017)

BLACK SABBATH

Heavy metal legends release a limited edition vinyl box set on 29 September via BMG. ‘The Ten Year War’ brings together their eight Ozzy-fronted albums, plus many other rarities, all housed within exclusive artwork created by renowned street artist, graphic … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: THOR – Beyond The Pain Barrier

THOR - Beyond The Pain Barrier

Deadline/Cleopatra [Release date 04.08.17] Canadian born bodybuilder Jon Mikl Thor has been acting and singing since the mid 70s, fronting his eponymously named band and, on stage, combining his strength with steel bars and blowing up hot-water-bottles to give a great … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: BOULEVARD – IV Luminescence

MelodicRock Records [Release date 22.09.17] Here’s a band I thought I’d never hear new music from and I am very glad to be proved wrong. Boulevard are a Canadian band who released two albums – 1988′s self-titled debut and 1990′s ‘Into … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: H.E.A.T – Into The Great Unknown

earMUSIC Release Date 22.09.17 Back in 2014, with their fourth album ‘Tearing Down the Walls’, and high energy live shows, H.E.A.T seemed on the verge of a major commercial breakthrough as standard bearers for a new breed of melodic rockers.  … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: DEVILFIRE – Dark Manoeuvres

DEVILFIRE - Dark Manoeuvres

[Release date 07.10.07] What the fudge is in the water in Birmingham ? Could it really still be that yearning to escape working class, chained-to-the-factory drudgery? Seemingly Britain’s hard-rock Austin, Texas equivalent, Brum has produced some of the world’s finest … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: ELOY – The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)

ELOY - The Vision, The Sword and The Pyre (Part 1)

Artist Station Records [Release date 25.08.17] German progressive rock band Eloy release their 18th studio album (19th if you include the Codename Wildgeese OST) and it’s the latest of a number of concept albums, this one about the legend of … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: THE YOUNG ‘UNS – Strangers

THE YOUNG

Hereteu Records [Release date 29.09.17] Teeside three piece the Young ‘Uns – Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes – have won the BBC Folk Awards Best Group in 2015 and 2016, along with picking up numerous plaudits from the … Continue reading

Email This Page

Quick plays: BRUCE COCKBURN, A BLUE FLAME, MORNING STAR

BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone

BRUCE COCKBURN Bone On Bone True North Records [Release date 15.09.17] Sounds like a name I ought to know, but maybe I’m thinking about ‘Rooster’.  But, in reality, Canadian singer songwriter Bruce Cockburn sounds more like a cross between Mark … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: AUSTIN GOLD – Before Dark Clouds

AUSTIN GOLD - Before Dark Clouds

Jigsaw [Release date 01.09.17] One of a growing new generation of blues rockers, five piece rock blues outfit Austin Gold, from Cambridgeshire, have been attracting plaudits and growing a fervent following playing festivals and smaller gigs all across the UK. … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: CIARA SIDINE – Unbroken Line

CIARA SIDINE - Unbroken Line

[Release date 06.10.17] The follow up to Dublin-based singer songwriter Ciara Sidine’s excellent debut Shadow Road Shining (2011) has been a while coming. Unbroken Line follows the same pattern in featuring a self-written set, with the exception of a haunting … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: JW-JONES – High Temperature

JW Jones - High Temperature

Solid Blues Records [Release date 02.06.17] Award winning Canadian blues-rock guitarist JW-Jones ditches most of the rock elements to ingratiate himself with the industry hotbed that is Nashville. ‘High Temperature’ showcases a handful of good songs that have one eye … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: JARROD DICKENSON – Ready The Horses

Jarrod Dickenson - Ready The Horses

Decca [Release date 29.09.17] Recorded live to tape in the UK, ‘Ready The Horses’ is an album by the Nashville based, Texan singer songwriter Jarrod Dickenson who isn’t so much a man of contradictions, as a musician following his muse. … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: MACHINES DREAM – Black Science

MACHINES DREAM - Black Science

Progressive Gears  –  [Release date: 16.05.17] With the notable and towering exception of Rush, Canada has not exactly been renowned for its contributors to the field of progressive rock. That, however, is very much on the change with bands such … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: BLACK SABBATH – The Ten Year War (Box Set)

BLACK SABBATH – The Ten Year War Box Set

BMG  [Release date 29.09.17] Black Sabbath’s Ozzy-fronted albums have been given a monster remaster and the full luxury box set re-issue treatment. It is quite a piece of work. The package has even had a roadshow of launch events. The … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: KOTEBEL – Cosmology

KOTEBEL – Cosmology

Musea [Release date 06.07.17] Kotebel is a Venezualan/Spanish prog rock band with classical and fusion influences. ‘Cosmology’ derives its title from the study of the universe and it’s an exploratory, quasi- conceptual prog album, that draws on composer and keyboard … Continue reading

Email This Page

Quick plays: THE JERRY DOUGLAS BAND, QUIET RIOT, WORLD TRADE

THE JERRY DOUGLAS BAND What If Rounder Records [Release date 18.08.17] Jerry Douglas has played and appeared on over 1,600 albums, from artists such as Ray Charles, Paul Simon and Eric Clapton, plus he has been a member of Alison … Continue reading

Email This Page

EP review: THE VIRGINMARYS – Sitting Ducks

Self Release [Release date 22.09.17] The Virginmarys have had a roller coaster ride of a career to date, with many favourable plaudits for their music from the press, big name tour support slots and their debut album made the US Billboard … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: MOLLIE MARRIOTT – Truth Is A Wolf

Mollie Marriott - Truth Is A Wolf

Amadeus Music [Release date 03.11.17] Having spent most of her career as an in demand backing vocalist, Mollie Marriott’s debut album ‘Truth Is A Wolf’ is an exercise in finding her own style on a diverse set of songs. Her … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: GWYN ASHTON – Solo Elektro

GWYN ASHTON – Solo Elektro

Pete Feenstra chats to Gwyn Ashton and plays tracks from ‘Solo Elektro’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio (repeated, Tuesday 15 August 21:00 GMT)  More information Fab Tone Records [Release date 01.09.17] Having established himself worldwide as power-house rock-blues guitarist, … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: WALTER TROUT – We’re All In This Together

WALTER TROUT – We

Provogue Records [Release date 01.09.17] ‘We’re All In This Together’ is a star studded album that celebrates Walter Trout’s blues related musical diversity. It also finds him at the peak of his creativity, as he comes up with new ways … Continue reading

Email This Page

Quick plays: MARTIN SIMPSON, RIVERDOGS, HIRSH GARDNER

MARTIN SIMPSON Trails & Tribulations Topic Records [Release date 01.09.17] Trails & Tribulations’ is Martin Simpson’s twentieth album in a career spanning over 40 years. As he says the album “is a collection of songs about nature, about travels and … Continue reading

Email This Page