EP review: BOOTYARD BANDITS – The Very Best Of

BOOTYARD BANDITS - The Very Best Of

Facebook [Release date 17.04.20]

The Bootyard Bands may play country rock/Wild West music and give the impression they hail from the US, when in fact they are from Worcester UK. Touring wise they have supported the likes of Massive Wagons and Alestorm, and like the latter band the Bootyard Bandits don’t take themselves too seriously.

This five song EP kicks off with ‘Shirt Potatoes’ which sets their flag firmly in the Steel Panther/Tragedy comedy/pastiche lyrics and songbook, although a tad more subtle than Steel Panther who have quickly run past their sell by date. As the band note the video features “Tractors, combines, hay bales, 4x4s, guns and cowgirls. What more could any self-respecting country rock fan need!?” The song features a catchy riff and chorus. One thing the Bootyard Bandits can do is play well, be it riff heavy guitars or some thrash banjo playing.

‘Hoedown Showdown’ was the first single off this EP and has a high body count if you listen to the lyrics. Who knew country music dancing could be so violent?! ‘One Hell Of A Night’ sort of carries on the theme being a raucous drinking song and one that would make an ideal band duet with Alestorm, another band who like their rum and whiskey.

‘Country Music’ is great fun, with just the right amount of emphasis on country to get past any daytime radio sensors. Listen and you’ll see what I mean!

‘Ladies Man’ sails a bit too close to Black Stone Cherry’s ‘Blame It On The Boom Boom’, another song that err celebrates the band’s virility. It is the weakest song on here, but still not bad.

Bootyard Bandits would definitely be a band to see live (sadly their EP launch show in Blackpool this month had to be postponed), as I would imagine their live set is as energetic and enjoyable as say Massive Wagons. Until the live scene returns we can enjoy this EP, just make sure you have a broad mind and sense of humour check before listening… ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Feature: Albums that time forgot – LENNY KRAVITZ – 5

LENNY KRAVITZ – 5

Virgin [Release date 12.05.98]

Lenny Kravitz has always been hard to define; it’s entirely possible to imagine Kravitz in the crowd at Woodstock or strutting down a Parisian catwalk. Despite being effortlessly cool and the very embodiment of old school rock and roll – the bohemian musician has had to fight against a culture of expectation.

In 1989 when he released his debut album ‘Let Love Rule’, the record industry was eager to confine him to a box he didn’t easily fit into, as he related to the Evening Standard in 2019; “I was playing music that was rooted in rock ’n’ roll, which at the time they thought was white music. Of course we know that black people invented rock ’n’ roll. They thought I should be doing hip hop or R&B, and they thought I was talented but they did not want me to be making that music.”

While Lenny himself bristled at critics who described his music as “retro” or “throwback”, favouring the nobler “timeless”, there was always a consistency of sound in his early records.

Be it stadium anthems like ‘Are You Gonna Go My Way’, or the breezy Smokey Robinson soul of ‘It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over’, a Lenny Kravitz album sounded warm and organic with real instrumentation and little in the way of synthesizers or drum programming. That is until his fifth studio album, rather conveniently titled ‘5’.

‘5’ is a transition record, similar to Prince’s ‘Around the World in A Day’ or David Bowie’s ‘Hunky Dory’, where the original parameters of the artists’ career are broken and they prove that they’re in the game for the long haul. ‘5’ was the record where Lenny Kravitz embraced technology, where studio voodoo like tape loops and keyboards were now permissible.

Album opener ‘Live’, with its Ohio Players influenced horn lines, may sound like classic Kravitz pastiche (channelling spirits from the past) but the second track ‘Supersoulfighter’ quickly tells the audience that ‘5’ will be a very different prospect.

The titular Supersoulfighter is spreading funk throughout the nations, the kind of cosmic troubadour George Clinton would dream up. Kravitz’s long time musical collaborator guitarist Craig Ross, puts down his axe to play mini-moog straight out of Parliament’s ‘Flashlight’ and soul diva Angie Stone shows up on backing vocals to do some blaxploitation style exclamations; “Super soul fighter’s coming!”.

Anyone who has been to a Lenny Kravitz gig would note that his audience skews heavily female and with breezy pop ballads like ‘I Belong to You’ in his arsenal, it’s little wonder why. While critics can be haughty about Kravitz’s simple lyrics, it’s this accessibility that has assured his continued success.

The image created of Kravitz as the apologetic, contrite and submissive lover, is doubtless the stuff of dreams for a proportion of his fan-base. While the rest of the audience can marvel that ‘I Belong to You’ is essentially a one-man band production with Lenny on vocals, guitar, drums, bass and…sand paper blocks!

Almost as a riposte to the universality of the previous track, ‘Black Velveteen’ goes very weird, very quickly with a Garry Numan-esque musing on our technological dependence; “Nice piece of kit, Electronic clit”. Processed vocals and mellotron accompaniment ensured it was quite unlike anything in Kravitz’s catalogue up to that point. ‘If You Can’t Say No’ continues this moody new wave theme, but also represents a misstep in the album’s marketing, as it shouldn’t have been the album’s lead single.

Luckily this was rectified with the super smash that is ‘Fly Away’, achieving the enviable quality of rocking hard but also appealing to pop audiences – ‘Fly Away’ has become a staple of the Kravitz live setlist. The hooky chorus and squelchy bass, arguably propelled Kravitz from highly regarded musician to out and out megastar.

Kravitz’s Mother, Roxie Roker was an actress well known to US audiences for her role in CBS sitcom The Jeffersons and Lenny enjoyed a close relationship with her. Roker died in 1995 and ‘5’ represented Lenny’s first opportunity to address her passing.

‘Thinking of You’ is a dreamy yet raw promise from a son to his Mother; that he will try “to be all the things that you wanted me to be”. The guitar has an almost pleading quality, with a long bluesy solo and Lenny’s falsetto has never sounded better. ‘Thinking of You’ may never have made the Greatest Hits package but is probably Kravitz’s most heartfelt record and above everything else on ‘5’ deserves reappraising.

Family is obviously important to Lenny Kravitz and the ode to his daughter Zoe, ‘Little Girl’s Eyes’ is a lesson in understatement – echoing production with sparsely deployed backing harmonies. That’s not to say that the second half of the record is just concerned with the internal, ‘Straight Cold Player’ is a dirty, instrumental funk jam with Kravitz’s live band at the time. Santana drummer Cindy Blackman shows her agility, while the horn section of Tom Edmonds and Harold Todd get to virtuoso.

The record originally ended with ‘Can We Find a Reason’, a spiritual sequel to ‘Let Love Rule’ but the 1999 special edition added ‘American Woman’, Kravitz’s cover of The Guess Who for the ‘Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me’ soundtrack. The infectious cover deserved to be rescued from soundtrack obscurity and is catchy as it is funky.

‘5’ was Lenny Kravitz’s biggest album to date and was certified platinum. The narrative surrounding the record seems to be that this is where Kravitz went pop and became too commercial.

The absurdity of this view is exposed by the weirdness of tracks like ‘Black Veleveteen’ or ‘Straight Cold Player’. Lenny could be “out there” but he also had a skill for the popular and why shouldn’t he put out a pop tune – not everybody could write a monster hit like ‘Fly Away’? ‘5’ is the record where Lenny Kravitz embraced all of his constituent parts and became whole.

Review by Phillip Beamon


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: MAGENTA – Acapela 2016 and 2017 (CD/DVD)

MAGENTA - Acapela 2016 and 2017

Tigermoth Productions [Original release date 04.11.19]

Magenta are one of those bands who have influenced many other prog wannabes whilst sometimes getting overlooked themselves.  They’ve never had significant wider acclaim, never employed big time PR or appeared on major labels, and they have never really compromised their ideals.  That’s not to say they haven’t released singles but, in terms of immediacy, longer pieces are very much the order of the day.

Also, singer Christina Booth has never given up to the usual sexy stage persona of many a female fronted prog band.  In fact when we saw the band at HRH Prog in November 2017 she came on stage looking like she was going to a W.I. meeting.

In more recent times the constituent members seem content to play the occasional gig whilst releasing occasional band albums or – particularly for mainman Rob Reed – releasing various side projects.

Acapela 2016 and 2017 differs from recent live albums in that it does showcase the extra-mural activities of Magenta members.  Recorded over 2 years at a favourite local (Cardiff) venue – Acapela Studios – they also enlist the help of others to add orchestration to the tracks.  Special guests include Peter Jones (Tiger Moth Tales, Camel).

Setlist-wise it spans most albums in a twenty-year history but in a stripped down format.  The DVDs include additional tracks and DVD 1 (recorded in 2016) showcases ‘The Twenty Seven Club’ (2013) whilst noting Rob Reed’s separate Sanctuary and Kompendium projects (with excellent vocals from Steff Rhys Williams).

Chris Fry is featured on a few acoustic guitar instrumentals (given greater gravity by Claudine Cassidy’s cello) whilst Christina Booth features tracks from her solo album ‘The Light’ accompanied by sister Angahrad Brinn on backing vocals.

The first part of the show is like a chamber music concert and only the occasional flashes of Chris Fry’s genial gawping breaks the somewhat clinical atmosphere. The mood lightens with Reed’s two Sanctuary pieces where – historically, on album at any rate – he unleashed his inner Mike Oldfield, a theme continued on DVD2.

In what is a largely static performance in a small venue and, I assume, a fairly low budget recording, the camera angles are understandably a bit limited.  (The same can be said of the band’s previous live offering ‘We Are Seven’ released in 2018).

We’ve commented previously that whilst the band originals Fry, Booth and Reed are masters of their craft the current rhythm section has seemed a little heavy handed.  These gigs marked the early appearance of Dan Nelson (bass) and Jiffy Griffiths (drums) although the 2016 gig features Steve Roberts on drums.  However, given the nature of these performances they are stripped of any bombast and, indeed, overall Magenta’s music may even benefit from this approach.

A highlight of the album is, as expected, the wonderful vocals of Tina Booth whom we have previously called “the Karen Carpenter of prog” (listen to ‘Greed’ on CD2/DVD2) She has that purity of tone and dark sonority, a vulnerability if you will, that is very appealing.  She also gets a few more songs of her own on DVD2.

Elsewhere, on DVD2 there is a veritable “greatest hits” from Magenta, with three songs from ‘Seven’ (2004).  Only a surprise appearance from Steve Balsamo and a Chimpan A tune or two would have improved the proceedings.

This is another high quality crowd-funded package.  And it’s not too late to revisit and revere one of our most enduring prog rock bands.  ****

Review by David Randall


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: BONFIRE – Fistful Of Fire

BONFIRE - Fistful Of Fire

AFM Records (Released 03/04/20)

Worried that we’ve grown weary of the ten rock songs and a ballad format, Bonfire throw in a few (3 in fact) short instrumentals to punctuate the band’s well established sonic signature, on this, their 17th studio album.

Brevity is the key here – always leave them wanting more – the first, ‘The Joker’ has nothing to do with Steve Miller, neither is it a reference to the movie, although it has the tension, tone and taste of a Trevor Rabin soundtrack.

There’s an almost balletic twin guitar intro to ‘Fire Etude’, then Ziller launches a classical blast of cascading notes, ending the piece in a blaze of shooting star twangs.

So far, in both cases, yes, we’re left wanting more. ‘The Surge’ too is a widescreen slice of cinema, squeezing in the dynamic, textural touches you might expect from Hans Zimmer (rather than Hans Ziller… see what I did there?).

Each of the three pieces leads straight into a very powerful and melodic hard rock song. It’s the main event, three times. ‘Gotta Get Away’ squeezes into the space between the late Clyde Holly’s band, Biloxi and Steve Grimmett’s work with Lions Heart… the song soars, it’s graceful, it’s melodic, it’s blissfully thunderous.

‘Breaking Up’ is as lyrically banal as the title suggests, but Alexx Stahl’s skyscraping vocals lose no traction whatsoever as they hit the high notes, and the track’s tuneful middle section blends beautifully with Ziller’s short, harmonic solo.

The title track follows hard on its heels. And it’s ironic to hear Bonfire lyricising ecological catastrophe when they, themselves – as with every other hard melodic rock band – are fighting off modern day extinction. “Fistful Of Fire” delivers the message with plenty of oomph, so we read between the lines, and see that the band’s cultural stock continues to accumulate. ***1/2

Review by Brian McGowan


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Quick plays: THE LOVETONES, JOE EDWARDS, PATSY THOMPSON

THE LOVETONES  Myriad

THE LOVETONES  Myriad Cleopatra Records [Release date 28.02.20]

I can’t say I’m familiar with The Lovetones – an Aussie indie psychedelic rock band previously active between 2002 and 2010.  But main man Matthew J Tow’s song writing has been compared (by Rolling Stone) to that of Ray Davies, Bowie, and Lennon and McCartney.

There’s little to be found on the internet about the band – which must, in itself say something – but as far as I can tell, Myriad retains the original core players of Tow, Chris Cobb (drums) and Matthew Sigley (bass), with Tim Kevin, who also engineered and mixed, contributing guitars piano, keys and vocals, and with Nic Dalton playing mandolin on the sessions.

The opener ‘The Circle Turns’ echoes tones of Greg Lake-era Crimson and early, pre- Hunky Dory Bowie, ‘About The Girl’ would have been a shoo-in for Double Fantasy, Billy Bragg’s ‘The Milkman Of Human Kindness’ is given a Lennon/McCartney makeover, the brief, Sigley written, instrumental interlude ‘Caylus 74′ sounds like early Crimson Mellotron noodling, and ‘Everything You’ve Ever Had’ bears echoes of Morrissey.

And so it goes on – ‘Rescue’ reverberates with shades of Reality-era Bowie, ‘Modern Life Is Killing Me’ and ‘Walk Away’ are heavily Lennon influenced numbers, while the title of the Bowie imbued set closer ‘I’ll Never Be That Guy’ rather sums up the whole affair.

Highly derivative, in a World Party sort of way.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

JOE EDWARDS  Keep On Running Tiny Mountain Records [Release date 22.05.20]

I was in two minds, given its lack of ‘rock’, whether this gentle, whether this laid back Americana offering merited a GRTR! posting.

But some inspired, if understated blues, almost Claptonesque at times, playing finally swung it.  And most surprising of all, is that Joe Edwards heralds not from the Deep South, but from Devizes in Wiltshire!

Starting out playing covers of Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B King at local bars, he went on to study at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts which not only broadened his horizons, but saw him earn a degree presented to him by Macca himself.

Heading to Nashville with brother Alex (drums), to record his debut, finds him teaming up with award winning producer and musician Steve Dawson (a name that crops up regularly in our Americana reviews).  As well as producing, Dawson plays a variety of slide instruments from dobro to pedal steel, alongside his regular cohorts Jeremy Holmes (double bass), and Chris Gestin (keys).

Mixing elements of folk, blues and Americana, Keep On Running is an introspective affair, not too distanced in sobriety from Ray LaMontagne, and with a shared breathy vocal style than also encapsulates elements of Paul Simon.

Proceeding at a lazy, at times almost sleepwalking, pace that exposes some very fine playing, Keep On Running may not set pulses racing, but hey, if Ray LaMontagne can sell out the Royal Albert Hall, there’s clearly a bigger market out there than some of us might imagine.

A very niche, but undeniably classy release.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

PATSY THOMPSON Fabulous Day [Release date 16.01.20]

An album 12 years in the wait – her career on hold caring for her mother – Canadian born Americana singer songwriter Patsy Thompson is finally back in the saddle.

With a recording career spanning 1993 – 2007, her roots are in county rock and her ‘comeback’ album Fabulous Day continues in that tradition.  Of course, roots music has exploded in the intervening years, but Fabulous Day pretends that never happened.

It’s an album rooted in the sort of country rock that was popular several decades ago, and pays little heed to current trends.  So you get plenty of ‘twang’ guitar and ‘traditional’ pedal steel playing.  Allied to some excellent vocals, that in place are highly reminiscent of Chrissie Hynde’s unmistakable warble, and you’ve got a highly listenable – albeit somewhat retro – ‘middle of the road’ record.

In truth, Fabulous Day is probably more ‘cabaret’ than ‘roots’, and wouldn’t be out of place on a cruise ship or at the Benidorm sitcom’s Neptune Bar.  But there’s no denying, with its clean production, that it’s actually, rather enjoyable (in a ‘guilty pleasure’ sort of way).  ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: MISSING PERSONS featuring Dale Bozzio – Dreaming

MISSING PERSONS featuring Dale Bozzio - Dreaming

Cleopatra Records [Release date 20.03.20]

A ‘household name’ back in the early days of MTV – as lead singer of Missing Persons – Dale Bozzio is said to have influenced Lady Gaga via Madonna.

Also known for her work with Zappa on his rock opera ‘Joe’s Garage’ and the musical ‘Thing-Fish’, her last outing – Missing In Action (2014), produced by Billy Sherwood – got a thumbs up from fellow scribe David Randall who was  impressed by its pop rock, post-punk attitude.

Her latest offering – with multi-instrumentalist and ex-L.A. Guns player Adam Hamilton – dials directly into 1981 – when bands like Soft Cell, Human League, and OMD dominated the charts – with a set of broody synth/modern electronic ‘covers’ and three new tracks thrown in for good measure.

In my recent review of Steve Harley’s Uncovered, I questioned the wisdom of covering ‘standards’ or ‘classics’.  I mean, is there any point offering the world another version of ‘California Dreamin”, when the original is simply unsurpassable?

Well, actually, Bozzio’s dark, brooding ‘eighties’ treatment takes the song to an entirely different place, and is as far removed from the original as it’s possible to imagine.  It’s excellent, and a lesson in how to take a modern classic and do something entirely different, and unexpected, with it.

The same goes for her treatment of ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’ (The Animals), ‘Playing With Fir’e (The Stones), ‘Just What I Needed’ (The Cars), ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ (Joy Division/Paul Young), ‘Incense And Peppermints’ (The Strawberry Alarm Clock), and ‘This Is The Day’ (The The).

But as my long suffering wife insightfully observed “I don’t know who that is, but she’s making all those [great] songs sound the same”.  A fair point, well made.  So it comes down to this – if you’ve a soft spot for early eighties synth pop, Dreaming is well worth investigating.  If not, don’t even go there.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: ROB COTTINGHAM – Back Behind The Orchard Tree

ROB COTTINGHAM - Back Behind The Orchard Tree

[Release date 03.04.19]

You have to hand it to Rob Cottingham.  He doesn’t like to sit idle, and this re-working of the Touchstone/Cairo founder’s debut solo album has been on his bucket list for some time.

Having learnt a shed load about programming, engineering and music production since recording Behind The Orchard Tree with a group of friends back in 2001, revisiting the album was an itch Rob felt compelled to scratch.

Now it’s probably not unfair to say the original album hasn’t exactly left an indelible mark on many record collections, but you can still find it (in full) on Youtube – which was my starting point before ‘dropping the needle’ on Back Behind …

And I have to say, with glimmerings of early Touchstone, it definitely qualifies as ‘one that got away’ and a work deserving of wider exposure with its Floydian / Genesis (when there were ‘three’) imbued melodies.

This time around, and a first for Rob – with no band, the re-working was aided just by John Mitchell (who co-produced) on electric and acoustic guitars, and with Rob’s daughter, Kerry taking lead vocals on an orchestral version of ‘Hero’, and the guitarist on the original album Andy Wildman’s daughter, Esther, contributing backing vocals on ‘Find Me’ (which also features Anatoliy Vyacheslavov on sax), ‘Phoenix’, and ‘Out Of Tim’e – the one new song here.

The nice thing about ‘Back’ is that it doesn’t so much look to re-invent the Behind The Orchard Tree, it’s more like giving a cherished old set of wheels a damn good T-cut and under bonnet overhaul – making it look and feel like a new motor – Cottingham’s vocals are richer, the production cleaner, and John Mitchell’s guitar the equivalent of a ‘tune up’ that adds significant extra ‘brake horsepower’.

Listening to the two versions ‘side by side’ there can be little argument that Back is by far the superior rendition, not only giving the original a shot in the arm and a new lease of life, but taking it to an entirely different level.  And if you need proof – just take a listen to the two versions of ‘Find Me’ – while the original is ‘good’, the new version is ‘great’ with  some magnificently intertwined sax and lead guitar work.

It’s rare that a re-working improves on the original, but Cottingham hasn’t sought to ring the changes, merely bring the album sonically ‘up to date’ and in the process making it sound like he probably always envisaged it.

And as for the excellent new song, ‘Out Of Time’, it works just as well here as it would within the confines of Cairo.  So, while fans await the next chapter of that band – with new vocalist Sarah Bayley – give Back Behind The Orchard Tree a listen – you’ll be very pleasantly surprised.  ****

Review by Pete Whalley


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: COMPASS – Our Time On Earth

COMPASS – Our Time On Earth

Escape Music [Release date 24.04.20]

The Compass story began back in December 2017 when singer songwriter Steve Newman decided to write a few songs that musically would step outside the barriers imposed by many years writing for his own band Newman. Also Steve Newman wouldn’t be singing either, instead he recruited Ben Green into the Compass fold. Rounding out the band are long time Newman bassist David Bartlett and drummer Toni Lakush. The album was recorded during 2019 and now gets a release via Escape Music.

The title track is the most instant, from the catchy chorus through the gloriously addictive keys/guitar riff. Clocking in at over nine minutes the song seems to fly by as the listener is drawn along by the strong melody.

Ben Green is a find, possessing a clear and precise vocal, with plenty of power and melody. None more so than on ‘Neon’, the nearest to a typical Newman song on here, or the excellent upbeat melodic prog of ‘The Preacher and The Pigeon Feeder’. The latter features stunning guitar solos, switching from laid back Gilmour-esque to a more frantic prog metal style.

‘A Warning From History’ has an It Bites start to it, before settling on a Rush like backing. Steve Newman has neatly pulled in various prog influences to create an impressive sound on this and indeed the whole album.

Compass is something a bit different from Steve Newman, which was his aim at the outset. It still has plenty of melody, added to which is a more progressive air reminiscent at times of It Bites, Sound Of Contact and Dream Theater. A grower of an album, as often albums that you keep coming back to are, and mightily impressive. Let’s hope there is enough interest in the album to warrant another album or two. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: WOLFHEART – Wolves Of Karelia

Napalm Records [10.04.20]

Finnish metallers Wolfheart master in something called ‘Winter Metal’ which appears to be a cross between fast and furious death metal and the wide soundscapes of Sigur Ros. It is a mix which works amazingly well and the band have produced an album that conjures up a vision of the frozen and bleak areas in the north of Finland.

‘Hail Of Steel’ literally sets the scene, blending melody with brutality and a huge sweeping chorus soundscape. The music is indeed heavy and not for all, but melody and harmony are not sacrificed in the mix.

‘Horizon Of Fire’ starts off quietly, but that doesn’t last long before the furious drumming kicks in along with more breakneck riffage. Things do calm down a bit from time to time over the course of the album and ‘Reaper’ is one of the more straightforward metal workouts, a bit less frenetic with a solid riff.

The peace is shattered once more with the pounding of ‘The Hammer’. Once again drums and guitars are set to stun but melody and harmony are at the forefront creating a musical vista. A short acoustic interlude follows taking you to the ‘Eye Of The Storm’. ‘Born From Fire’ transports you back to the frozen wastes like a chill wind across the tundra.

The band then pull out all the stops for ‘Arrows Of Chaos’ which is the most unforgiving track on the album with the melody underpinning the brutality of the music. ‘Ashes’ brings things to a close and is a slow builder from a gentle intro to a huge final crescendo to round off your Finnish odyssey.

Wolfheart have married heaviness and melody perfectly here and whilst the unrelenting nature of the music won’t be to all tastes it is more accessible than most in this area of metal. I would recommend you give it a go, you may be pleasantly surprised.

****

Review by Dave Wilson


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



EP Review: BOMBS OF HADES – Phantom Bell

Black Lodge [Release date 17.04.20]

Bombs Of Hades originally formed back in 2002 to party and play Crusty Death Metal (a new genre on me!) and have over the years released several albums and EP’s whilst honing their sound.

This new EP finds the band blasting out Motorhead-like riffs (some a bit close for comfort, more on that later!) with excellent riffs throughout. ‘Phantom Bell’ kicks things off with a fast and furious, dirty riff accompanied by thunderous drumming. ‘Bridge Of Sighs’ follows complete with a chugging, dark riff and a doom laden air. The use of mellotron in the chorus only helps to add to the doomy atmosphere.

The next track though is where things get a bit too Motorhead like for their own good as the melody and riff for ‘Lungs’ is literally only a chord away from the ‘Head classic ‘Orgasmatron’. A good song though, but hey so was the original…

The urgent, staccato riff of ‘Kamikaze’ rounds off the EP in good style with an extended mid section which is heavy and trippy in equal measure.

Overall then this EP contains four heavy slabs of quality metal, still not sure where the ‘Crusty’ tag comes in though.

***1/2

Review by Dave Wilson


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: DICTATOR SHIP – Your Favourites

The Sign Records [Release date 17.04.20]

This is the debut album from Swedish rockers Dictator Ship and over the course of 27 minutes the guys set out to entertain with retro rock from a bygone age. The band have produced an album that wouldn’t have been out of place in a hippy commune back in the late 60’s or early 70’s. Don’t take this as a bad thing though as the guys have obviously been influenced by the best that era had to offer.

The album was even recorded on an old mixing desk which adds to the atmosphere and gives the album a raw, live vibe. Opener ‘In The Heat Of The Night’ sets the stall out well with great guitar work and strong vocals, this is rock n roll made to make you dance along!

‘Savage’ proves to be just that with a full pelt riff that drives on the track whilst ‘Good Thing Gone Bad’ sounds like it could have featured on the debut album from Kiss. As well as Kiss there are also elements of Jimi Hendrix, Free and even early Elton John throughout the album, however all tracks are Dictator Ship originals.

‘Just For Fun’ could be the band’s strapline and is another track which will have you looking for the nearest dance floor. The Kiss influence is again evident on the slower ‘Eat The Poor’ before ‘Gunner Man’ fires off in a hail of off beat drumming and great riffs.

The catchily titled ‘From The Womb To The Tomb’ rounds off the album with another fast paced rocker replete with great harmonies and melodies to bring a smile to your face.

This is an excellent debut album from the band and one that deserves an audience. Do yourself a favour and let Dictator Ship fill your head with the authentic sounds of the early 70’s, you won’t be disappointed.

****

Review by Dave Wilson


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Feature: Call Collect – An introduction to WISHBONE ASH

GRTR!’s melodic rock maestro Andy Nathan charts the progress of Wishbone Ash, currently celebrating their 50th anniversary

WISHBONE ASH - The Tivoli, Buckley, 3 November 2018

Wishbone Ash may have a criminally low profile in the wider world, but there aren’t many bands that can boast both a history of 50 years continuous service and an innovative and lasting musical legacy.

For most of the sixties, the pioneers of rock separated the roles of lead and rhythm guitarist. Yet as the decade turned, this young band, who had relocated from Torquay to London and recruited a pair of new guitarists in Andy Powell and Ted Turner, were the first in the UK to explore the sonic possibilities of two lead guitarists playing not only individually, but in harmony lead.

The Allman Brothers were blazing a similar trail across the pond, but without Wishbone Ash there would quite simply be no Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden or Judas Priest as we know and love their signature twin guitar sounds.

Their first two albums (‘Wishbone Ash’ from 1970 and the following year’s ‘Pilgrimage’) are a feast of dual guitar work, but more than that, with vocal harmonies too and both bassist Martin Turner and drummer Steve Upton making a huge contribution with their original and subtle work.

It was their third album, 1972′s ‘Argus’, that is acclaimed as their masterpiece and rightly so. The harmony guitar sound is actually used more sparingly, yet the songwriting took a huge leap forward.  Its mixture of rock, blues and English folk influences was an inspiration on many musicians that followed and even the helmeted mythical character looking out from the cover is thought by some to have been a template for Darth Vader!

The album has a magical sense of light and shade as quiet passages and lyrical meditations on themes such as the passage of time and war intertwine with soaring, lengthy yet always melodic solos. That year they beat the likes of Yes, Genesis, Jethro Tull and Deep Purple as ‘Argus’ was voted ‘Melody Maker’ album of the year.

Wishbone Ash in 1973

Wishbone Ash pictured on the cover of Wishbone Four (1973)
(left to right, Andy Powell, Steve Upton, Ted Turner, Martin Turner

Sadly they never matched the worldwide fame of such contemporaries, partly through a rather nondescript public image and partly with a hit single never coming their way (though the jaunty ‘Blowin’ Free’ is their closest to a signature song).

Neither could they ever quite repeat that musical magic, but as the second half of the seventies wore on, and with Laurie Wisefield replacing Ted Turner, they relocated to the States for a few years and their sound evolved as American soft rock influences were added to the blend (just like fellow limeys Fleetwood Mac and Peter Frampton) and Martin Turner emerged as the undisputed lead vocalist after duties had been shared more equally in earlier days.

The eighties began with a parting of the ways with Martin Turner and a loss of identity as they chased a more conventional heavy rock sound, but their profile rather dipped off the radar (as I can vouch, this being the period when I discovered them as a teenager). Fortunately original manager Miles Copeland reunited the original line up for an instrumental album ‘Nouveau Calls’ in 1988 and for a while a whole new generation could enjoy their craftsmanship, always best appreciated in concert.

WISHBONE ASH - The Tivoli, Buckley, 3 November 2018

Sadly the members dropped out one by one, leaving Andy Powell the last man standing by the mid-1990′s. Playing as well as ever on his trademark Flying V, while also becoming lead vocalist, to this day he has kept up a punishing live schedule, supported by a relatively stable line-up, though a number of guitar twins have come and gone including a pair of Finns in Ben Granfelt and Muddy Manninen; most recently Yorkshireman Mark Abrahams has injected some fresh fire. Not just a nostalgia act, they regularly release new music from time to time though this year’s ‘Coat of Arms’ fell short of the legacy statement I hoped they might make.

By the mid 2000′s Martin Turner was also back in the game, assembling a band himself to play the band’s classics, though losing a rather bitter court case over the band’s trademarks. They have only released one album of original material to date but also regularly tour and have recently been playing classic albums in their entirety.

Martin Turner and Ted Turner in August 2012

Wishbone’s loyal fanbase are also divided over the relative merits of the two, but the more rational of us see the opportunity to hear double the amount of Wishbone music in concert as ample consolation for the fact there appears no chance of the original quartet reforming.  The nearest was a memorable invitation-only ‘garden party’ in 2012 when Ted Turner and Laurie Wisefield jammed with Martin Turner’s band and even a long-retired Steve Upton looked on from the wings.

Recommended albums

Their back catalogue always had a patchy CD reissue coverage in comparison to some of their seventies contemporaries like Uriah Heep, but this was rectified in 2018 when the Vintage Years was released, with a mammoth 30 CDs comprising their complete work through to 1991 and unreleased live sets.  As well as cementing their legacy and giving them a well deserved increase in profile, the packaging set a new standard for Box Sets.   If that is beyond your price range, here are a few highlights to pick out:

Wishbone Ash (1970) – where it all started. Imagine how exciting this must have sounded at the time, notably the ten minute epic ‘Phoenix’;

Argus (1972) – quite rightly the jewel in the Wishbone crown;

There’s The Rub (1974) – the first of the ‘Mark 2′ albums with magic in each of the six songs covering a variety of styles from Southern rock to English folk to dreamy ballads;

Live Dates, Volume 2 (1980) – Wishbone have always been best appreciated in the live arena: both ‘Live Dates’ albums capture the duelling guitarists at their peak with this one edging it for quality;

Bona Fide (2002) – their post-’classic years’ output has been variable with the pick this album from the period when Finnish guitarist Ben Granfelt gave them a revitalising shot.

Photography:
(i)(ii) David Randall
(iii) Noel Buckley

© 2020  Andy Nathan/GRTR! All rights reserved.

Album review (Coat Of Arms)

2020 Vision - Rock. Reviewed. Revisited.


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Feature: Call Collect – An introduction to COZY POWELL

Joe Geesin recalls Cozy Powell’s long career, the key albums, and a friendship with one of rock’s finest drummers

Cozy Powell

Colin Flooks, better known as Cozy Powell, was a renowned rock drummer who, like many, lived like he played – hard and fast. With bands like Rainbow and Whitesnake under his belt, and sessions including Donovan and Cinderella, as well as having solo hits like ‘Dance With The Devil’ (which featured Suzy Quatro), Cozy was a man often in demand. Have drumsticks will travel.

My introduction to Cozy’s work was Rainbow’s Rainbow Rising LP, specifically the track ‘A Light In The Black’. An album rooted in progressive hard rock, the metronomic yet explosive power proved the perfect backdrop to guitarist Ritchie Blackmore at his most fire driven.

Growing up in the west of England, playing in school bands, and taking his name from jazz drummer Cozy Cole, Powell joined The Corals, who broke a (then) record for a 12 hour gig in the Cirencester town hall.

His first recording was with The Sorcerers (a German only 45) in 1967, before he recorded with Youngblood, Big Bertha and Ace Kefford, along side various members of the Ball family (notably bassist Denny).

He played the Isle Of Wight in 1970 with Tony Joe White, and would find fame recording with the Jeff Beck Group. Further sessions followed, and a classic hard rock LP with Bedlam (1973) followed. It was during this period that an early of using Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture as part of a drum solo really took off, and was often performed with fireworks during Rainbow and Whitesnake tours.

1973 also saw Cozy join Mickie Most’s RAK label, three solo singles and a RAK tour followed, even performing ‘Dance With The Devil’ on Top Of The Pops. The third single was released as Cozy Powell’s Hammer, featuring singer Clive Chaman, guitarist Bernie Marsden, pianist Don Airey, and bassist Clive Chaman (Neil Murray at some gigs).

Cozy Powell - Over The Top

After a short stint out of the industry, Cozy returned to join Rainbow and the classic Rising LP. Two LPs later (and several retrospective live sets) he bowed out after the 1980 Donington performance, by which time he’d released his first solo LP, Over The Top, featuring Don Airey, Jack Bruce and Gary Moore.

Albums with Robert Plant, Roger Daltrey, Bernie Marsden, Jon Lord, MSG and Graham Bonnet followed, the latter featuring the hit single ‘Night Games’, and further solo sets, before he joined Whitesnake in 1982, to tour the Saints And Sinners album and record Slide It In.  More upheaval as that relationship broke down, and Cozy was out.

Albums with Phenomena and Forcefield, and sessions with artists like Warlock and Cinderella, but the highlight was as Carl Palmer’s replacement in ELP – Emerson Lake & Powell.

Black Sabbath (1989)

Black Sabbath in 1989

The 80s closed with Cozy playing with Gary Moore (After The War) before joining Black Sabbath, with bassist Neil Murray and singer Tony Martin. Those two albums Headless Cross and Tyr are underrated classics; I remember a show at Hammersmith Odeon on the Tyr tour where they were joined onstage by Brian May.

Cozy then joined Brian May’s band for a studio and live set, as well as a solo album and a tour as Cozy Powell’s Hammer. One more album with Black Sabbath (Forbidden), before Cozy took another break from the industry.

I was lucky enough to interview Cozy for Record Collector magazine during this time and he was impressed by my knowledge – I have on tape his first answer starting “Fuck Me, you would have to start with the most difficult thing I’ve ever done”. We became friends and I would then run his fanclub. Our next meeting was during his tour with Peter Green on the former Fleetwood Mac founder’s return tour. The show in Tunbridge Wells saw Cozy break the drum kit in frustration, it was held up for half the show but a roadie stood with it on stage.

Cozy’s final works would be with Brian May (Another World), Yngwie Malmsteen (Facing The Animal) and former Zombie Colin Blunstone (The Light Inside).

I remember a conversation with Cozy with him contemplating which tour to do. The decision was made after a motorcycle accident left Cozy injured, just before the tour rehearsals with Yngwie in the USA. Unable to play to the best of his ability and to requirement, he came home.

His final phonecall to me expressed mixed emotions; on one hand he was distraught at the injury and having to pull out, on the other he was having physio on the injury and was optimistic about getting in the gym, getting fit and going out on the road with Brian May. The next day his car was on its roof on the M4, and a legend came to an end.

Cozy Powell is primarily known as a hard rock drummer, but work with Black Sabbath and Judas Priest’s Glenn Tipton show a metal edge. Solo and session work have also shown blues and jazz leanings.

Powell is still highly rated and much loved as a drummer, I am proud to have been able to call him a friend.

Recommended albums

Jeff Beck Group – Jeff Beck Group
Bedlam – Bedlam
Rainbow – Rising
Graham Bonnet – Line Up
Michael Schenker Group – One Night At The Budokan
Whitesnake – Slide It In
Emerson Lake & Powell – Emerson Lake & Powell
Black Sabbath – Headless Cross
Brian May – Back To The Light

(Session work)

The Young & Moody Band – Don’t Do That (featuring Micky Moody, Bob Young, Lemmy, The Nolan Sisters)

(Top Collectibles)

The Sorcerers – Love Is A Beautiful Thing £300
Cozy Powell – Dance With The Devil (export issue, p/s, blue vinyl) £35
Whitesnake – Slide It In (Japanese box issue, Obi, inserts, tray, inner, booklet) £30
Cozy Powell – The Drums Are Back (LP) £30

Album review (The Polydor Years)

Photography:
(i) Rhythm magazine, June 2016

© 2006-2020  Joe Geesin/GRTR! All rights reserved.

In 2013 Get Ready to ROCK! Radio produced a promo for the planned Cozy Powell documentary film ‘Dance With The Devil – The Cozy Powell Story’.  The special includes interview extracts and a selection of band and solo material. (54:16)

2020 Vision - Rock. Reviewed. Revisited.


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: ZON – Astral Projector/ORPHAN – Salute

Rock Candy [Release date 20.03.20]

ZON - Astral Projector

ZON – Astral Projector + 4

The band members’ post Zon experiences are arguably more colourful than their brief, 2 album grab at fame and fortune. And yet, the 1978 debut, “Astral Projector” promised so much.

Often mentioned in the same breath as Styx, a real forensic examination of the band’s sound would more likely give up fellow Canadians, Saga, as Zon’s true musical blood brothers. Contemporary reviews were positive, highlighting the band’s ambitious merge of pop, pomp and prog. And arguably, the artfully shaped pomp of the lyrically challenging ‘Point Of View’, and the dramatic closing track, ‘Hollywood’ are as much influenced by the avant garde, sonic adventurism of the late sixties, as they were by the Progressive Rock of the seventies.

This remaster includes 4 bonus tracks. Subtly different alternative takes of ‘On The Road’ and the title track; the frenetic, previously unreleased ‘The Battle’, and the full, mind blowing version of ‘Hollywood’.

ORPHAN - Salute

ORPHAN – Salute

Enduringly popular post Pumps’ Canadian band, Orphan released “Salute” in 1985, as a follow up to their best selling debut, “Salute The Night”. The programmed eighties’ production sound, favoured by US bands like Wang Chung, doesn’t always work here… and it’s one of those rare occasions where the cold clarity of the remastering dynamic doesn’t really do it any favours. But they were masters of the parallel keyboard/guitar motif, driving the songs always onwards, giving them the kind of urgency normally unique to great AOR.

All that said, at its core, Orphan is an out and out pop band, and yes, the arrangements and production are sometimes blown up into Boomtown Rats’ type pretentiousness (‘Woman In Love’ and ‘Uncle Sam Wants You’), but at other times (like on ‘Open Up The Skies’ and ‘Crazy For The Night’) they catch a wave of Honeymoon Suite’s jubilant pop sparkle.

Safe to say, the material on “Salute” certainly had its moments, but in failing to match the debut’s consistency, it fell short, critically and commercially.

Reviews by Brian McGowan


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



News: Singer songwriter JOSH TAERK plays live for Get Ready to ROCK! (Sunday 5 April, 21:00 BST, GMT+1)

Josh Taerk

Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk plays an exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page on Sunday 5 April at 21:00 BST (GMT+1)

Josh was born in Toronto, Canada. He is an official Recording Academy/Grammy Member and his  single ‘Beautiful Tragedy’ – the title track of his 2018 album – broke into the Billboard Top 40 Pop Charts.

Max Weinberg (Rock & Roll Hall of Famer, Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band) has called Josh, ‘the most exciting new talent I have come across in years.’ Josh and Max have worked together since 2010 when Max asked Josh to open for him and his band in South Orange, New Jersey.

Then in 2011, Josh joined Max at Summerfest in Milwaukee to pay tribute to the late Clarence Clemons of The E Street Band. In October 2017, Max once again asked Josh to join him onstage and sing ‘Thunder Road’ at The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, Canada.

Josh’s album Beautiful Tragedy, released in 2018, followed the EP ‘Stages’ which also garnered attention across US and UK radio stations.

Long-time supporter, GRTR! reviews and news editor, Jason Ritchie wrote: ” “Josh Taerk successfully melds a memorable melody for those who love a great hook, along with thought provoking lyrics for those who like a little substance to their musical listening.”

He adds:  “The live show is something of a first for Get Ready to ROCK! although not unique in these unusual times.  It will give readers and listeners a chance to hear a very talented contemporary singer songwriter and maybe investigate his music further now and in the future.”

The session will also be relayed via the website’s radio station.

Readers can check out several reviews by following the link below

Get Ready to ROCK! Facebook
Josh Taerk: reviews

Josh Taerk preview


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: KHYMERA – Master Of Illusions

KHYMERA – Master Of Illusions

Frontiers [Release date 06.03.20]

Album number five from Khymera, who started out as an alliance between Italian producer & musician Daniele Liverani and then Kansas singer Steve Walsh. Khymera has since developed into a regular musical project when bassist and producer Dennis Ward (Magnum, Pink Cream 69) joined.

It has been five years since ‘The Grand Design’ album, with Dennis Ward (vocals, bass) joined by Michael Klein (guitars), Pete Newdeck (drums) and Eric Ragno (keyboards) on this latest album.

Opener ‘Walk Away’ rides in on a parpy keys and guitar riff, then we are off and rocking. This is typical Khymera, with an instant chorus and melody, topped off by Dennis Ward’s vocals. He will certainly prove to be a canny addition to the Magnum ranks given his production, playing and singing talents.

‘Follow The Sun’ recalls those sounds beloved of Mike Slammer produced albums, namely big layered backing vocals and precise, melodic guitar riffs. It really does hit the musical spot nicely.

The title track even has a hint of ELO about in the sign off strings/synths part, one of the album’s ‘go to’ songs. Like much of the album it is keyboards led recalling the halcyon days of bands like Guiffria and mid-80s Journey, albeit with a modern sound.

Of course there are ballads, ‘Father To Son’ has it all from the impassioned vocals of Dennis Ward through to the grandiose arrangements.

Khymera have hit the target again with an uplifting album of melodic rock gems. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: BLAZE BAYLEY – Live In Czech

Blaze Bayley Recordings [03.04.20]

Blaze Bayley is one of rock and metal’s true survivors. Having been plucked from the excellent Wolfsbane to front Iron Maiden following Bruce Dickinson’s departure in 1994, he was then unceremoniously dumped by the band five years later. His years with Maiden had met with a mixed response from the fans but had also produced two albums which contained some great tracks, more on which later.

Out on his own Blaze set about setting himself up as a solo artist and producing the music he loves. This album was recorded in Brno at the end of a huge European tour in 2019 and showcases Blaze’s solo outings with a few choice Maiden tracks thrown in for good measure.

Listening through the album you can hear the Wolfsbane and Maiden influences throughout but you won’t get any complaints from me on that score. ‘The Dark Side Of Black’ starts things off very much in the Maiden vein with excellent guitar work by Christopher Appleton. The backing band are the guys from the band Absolva and Christopher Appleton, as Blaze relates at one point, was the man who picked him up and encouraged him to get out and rocking once more.

The album features tracks from throughout Blaze’s back catalogue, especially his three most recent albums which go under the banner of the ‘Infinite Entanglement’ Trilogy and tell the tale of William Black. He also features tracks from his first album ‘Silicon Messiah’ including the excellent ‘Stare At The Sun’. Blaze again regales us with the tale of producing this album but not being able to tour on the back of it which was a missed opportunity in his career.

No one would say that Blaze is the best singer in the world. He has his own particular style and a fairly limited range, which probably cost him his Maiden job, but he has an honest delivery and what you hear is what you get, there are no airs and graces here.

You couldn’t have a Blaze Bayley live album without a few tracks from his Maiden tenure and, as I hinted at earlier, they are a few of his best from that period. ‘Man On The Edge’ and ‘Futureal’ romp along on a wave of blistering guitar and galloping bass whilst the epic ‘The Clansman’ rounds off the album with Blaze defiantly screaming out ‘freedom’ in the chorus.

Artists like Blaze Bayley should be considered national treasures. He has given his life to pursuing his rock ‘n roll dream and has had to bounce back from the brink far too often. No matter what shit is thrown at him though he steadfastly refuses to compromise and his main aim in life is to produce the music he loves and to entertain his fans.

This album captures a moment in a long metal career that really should be celebrated. So do yourself and Blaze a favour, go and buy this, revel in the music and keep Mr Bayley on the road he loves. You and he won’t be disappointed.

****

Review by Dave Wilson


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: BUFFALO SUMMER – Desolation Blue

Silver Lining Records [Release date 27.03.20]

This is the third album from Buffalo Summer and rather good it is too. The Welsh wonders have been playing up and down the country and every festival they can get with a decent level of success, however they are still looking for that one thing to move them on to the next level. Will this be the album? Only time will tell but the quality on show should stand them in good stead.

Opening track ‘The Power & The Greed’ gets things off to a low key start, the track sounding rather laid back and reminding me of The Doors at a quiet point. Things soon pick up with the lead track from the album ‘Hit The Ground Running’ which is a mid-paced blues rock track of the highest order.

An early album highlight is up next in the shape of ‘If Walls Could Speak’ which is a full on rocker built on an excellent riff provided by guitarist Jonny Williams. One of the interesting things about this album is the variety of musical styles on offer, from fast paced, fist pumping rock of ‘Everybody’s Out For Number 1’ to laid back, late night blues ‘Dark Valentine’, there is something here for everyone.

No matter what the style is, the musicianship on display is top notch as are the vocals of Andrew Hunt who can ease from one song style to another without missing a beat.

‘The Bitter End’ and ‘Pilot Light’ round off the album, again at a more sedate pace but no less effective. ‘The Bitter End’ reminded me of tracks by Alice In Chains, don’t know if that was intended but it works for me.

This is a solid album by the guys which showcases their musical versatility and playing prowess. Hopefully this will be the springboard that sees Buffalo Summer head for pastures new and exciting.

***1/2

Review by Dave Wilson


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Feature: Call Collect: An introduction to FOCUS

David Randall developed the groundbreaking website Akkernet in 1996 during the Internet’s infancy and went on to manage several UK tours for Jan Akkerman before writing the original biography published in 2003.  Here he recalls Focus and the key recordings.

Focus - GIANTS OF ROCK – Butlins, Minehead, 27 January 2019

Prog rockers Focus emerged out of the trio that classically-trained Thijs Van Leer had formed in 1969, backing Dutch pop acts and with a residency for Dutch cabaret artist Ramses Shaffy.

When, in late-1969, the renowned Dutch guitarist Jan Akkerman (ex-Johnny & the Cellar Rockers, The Hunters) auditioned it was plainly evident that here was a spark to ignite a flickering flame.

Akkerman joined Van Leer’s trio for a six-month stint as part of the pit band for the Dutch version of ‘Hair’. As Van Leer later recounted, in between the shows the band was able to rehearse their own material for their debut album.

The band’s first album came out in Holland as ‘Focus Plays Focus’ in June 1970 (It was later released as ‘In And Out of Focus’) and demonstrated the strength of musicianship, even if some of the songs suffered from  “foreigner-sings-in-English” syndrome and the lyrics were a little trite.

The instrumental passages were, of course, quite wonderful with an early outing for ‘Anonymus’ (later developed on ‘Focus III’) and the inimitable ‘House Of The King’.

1971′s ‘Moving Waves’ is a prog rock classic, with one side of the then vinyl taken up with the piece ‘Eruption’. Van Leer was keen to write a longer work inspired by ‘classical’ composers, chiefly Bela Bartok, Bach and Monteverdi. What emerged was a magnum opus, showing off the band’s musical brilliance, not least on ‘Tommy’, a showcase for Jan Akkerman’s soaring guitar figures.

This album also includes the full length version of ‘Hocus Pocus’, conceived as a reaction to the band’s more classically minded pretentions. It became a staple in their live gigs, as well as on classic rock radio.

Focus at the BBC in 1972

Focus at the BBC in 1972 (left to right) Pierre van der Linden, Bert Ruiter, Jan Akkerman, Thijs van Leer

An appearance at the Reading Festival in August 1972, followed by a spot on the national TV rock show ‘The Old Grey Whistle Test’ (OGWT) cemented their impact with more discerning rock fans, and their early success was consolidated with a UK college/theatre tour in late 1972, early 1973 when they tasted Top 5 chart success with a glorious piece ‘Sylvia’.

With the November 1972 release of the double album ‘Focus III’ – also produced by Mike Vernon – the band hit their creative peak. ‘Anonymus II’ developed an earlier theme, and highlighted the band’s free-form qualities melding mediaeval, jazz and rock influences whilst ‘Elspeth of Nottingham’ displayed Akkerman’s infatuation with an earlier age and the Renaissance Lute.

In 1973 Akkerman was cited as ‘best international guitarist’ in a Melody Maker poll and tours of the USA and Japan widened their appeal in those markets. A live album ‘At The Rainbow’ showed the band at their peak, the concert was also televised on the OGWT.

Focus tour programme, 1973

Focus’ subsequent albums never quite captured their early originality and constant touring in late 1973/4 led to creative burn-out. ‘Hamburger Concerto’ was a solid if sometimes meandering work in 1974, ‘Mother Focus’ (1975) followed a funky transatlantic vibe and the material was decidedly under-par.

Akkerman quit the band in 1976 to follow a solo career and the 1978 swansong ‘Focus Con Proby’ somewhat bizarrely included veteran sixties singer PJ Proby. Highly-regarded Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine replaced Akkerman for a UK tour but the band soon imploded.

Van Leer reformed Focus in 2001, with Jan Dumee on guitar and latterly Pierre van der Linden on drums. Van der Linden remains in the line-up but ‘Focus 9′ (2007) was re-recorded with new guitarist Niels van der Steenhoven.  Since 2010 Menno Gootjes has occupied the guitar position with Udo Pannekeet now on bass.  In the past decade the band have frequently toured in the UK and played many festivals.

Jan Akkerman - July 1998

Jan Akkerman photographed in July 1998

Akkerman returned to the UK for a series of well received gigs in 1997-2000 and continues to tour – although mainly in Holland. His latest solo album – Close Beauty -  was released in 2019.

And, before you ask, it is highly unlikely that both he and Van Leer will bite the bullet and collaborate again.  (Although they did perform together in 1990 for Dutch TV following their “reunion” album ‘Focus’ released in 1985).

Akkerman still harbours resentment that started brewing in the mid-1970s, with the success of Van Leer’s solo career which he also felt compromised Focus and detracted from future progress.  In truth the guitarist also tired of the relentless touring at the band’s peak, the lack of time to compose new music, and the inevitable repetition in the set-list.

Recommended albums

Whilst Focus fans will find merit in all of the band’s output, as even the later patchy offerings held up some gems, there is no doubt that Focus III (1973) is a good starting point for newcomers. It also includes ‘Sylvia’ and ‘House of the King’. On the original vinyl, there was a break in the long piece ‘Anonymus’ so the CD version restores the track’s continuity.  Moving Waves (1971) is also essential.

And once hooked, the salivating listener will want to explore in more depth the parallel solo careers of both Akkerman and Van Leer, the latter via his semi-classical and highly successful Introspection series.

Akkerman’s solo work can be patchy but Tabernakel (1974), Heartware (1980) and Focus In Time (1996) show the guitarist’s musical range utilising lute, synth-guitar and compositional skills respectively.

Collectors will have their work cut out with the high volume of session work over the years for both Van Leer and Akkerman, complicated by import-only single releases many with picture sleeves.  One of the rarest Akkerman releases was recorded in 1997 during his triumphal return to the UK stage, a purely acoustic set Live At The Priory (1998). A compilation marking his 50th birthday is also a rarity as it was only issued in small numbers to friends and family.

The boxed set released in 2018 brings together all Akkerman’s solo albums plus bonuses.  A similar ‘Hocus Pocus’ box exists for Focus.  Both include either dubious remastering or obvious omissions but represent good value nevertheless.

Further reading

“In And Out Of Focus – the Music of Jan Akkerman and Focus”, David Randall (SAF Publishing, 2003)

Album review (Jan Akkerman, Close Beauty)

Photography:
(i) David Randall
(ii) Clive Woodley

© 2007, 2020  David Randall/GRTR! All rights reserved.

2020 Vision - Rock. Reviewed. Revisited.


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



Album review: JOE SATRIANI – Shapeshifting

JOE SATRIANI - Shapeshifting

Sony Music [Release date 10.04.20]

We’ve always commented on the energy displayed by Satriani not least sustained during a two hour live show.  Recent albums have been pretty convincing too.  That energy permeates this latest offering and will surely translate again to his rearranged shows in 2021.

Satriani remains a master of instrumental guitar performance and his strengths lie in the ability to fashion distinctive songs with lots of melody.  His past few albums usually offer up one or two gems in this respect.

On ‘Shapeshifting’ there is more of a loose jam feel that was creeping in previously – as displayed by the title track whilst ‘Big Distortion’ and  ‘Nineteen Eighty’ have understandably been pulled as early preview tracks and both are arena pleasers.

‘All For Love’ is characterised by moody orchestration and lyrical guitar work but there is no real chorus and it’s all over in less than three minutes.

‘Teardrops’ continues the slower, groovier feel along with ‘Falling Stars’.  The latter piece is the funkiest – and perhaps even the standout – but with only a hint of an attractive chorus. Another atmospheric piece – ‘Waiting’ – is again all too short but lifted by Eric Caudieux’s reflective piano figures.

‘Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me’ at least continues the tradition of strange song titles. With its percussive flavours  it owes something to Santana and evokes their Woodstock fiesta.  ‘Perfect Duet’ is another upbeat multi-tracked jam that we’ve become well used to but ‘All My Friends Are Here’ (and the cod-reggae ‘Here The Blue River’) are really very ordinary and inconsequential. The jam feel continues on ‘Spirits, Ghosts And Outlaws’.

There’s usually a curveball that doesn’t really sit with the rest of the album.  And that curveball arrives as the last track, the hillbilly shuffle ‘Yesterday’s Yesterday’.

At times you can’t help thinking that some of the songs are mere frameworks to show that Satch has lost none of his style or technique.  Band members (Caudieux, Kenny Aronoff and Chris Chaney) are fully supportive but this is Satch’s show so there are no wild keyboard solos to counter his wild guitar excursions or to bring him back to earth.  This is a shame.  And the jamming doesn’t really go on long enough to get into a real groove or wig out.

Like many artists of his stature Satriani never turns in a really duff album.  But to be painfully honest, most of this album isn’t that memorable.  Yes, a few songs will pad out a new setlist.  And, yes, it might be rude to expect another ‘Memories’  a ‘Why’ or even ‘The Crush Of Love’.  There’s no doubt it repays a few listens but song for song this album doesn’t match the consistency of either What Happens Next (2017) or Shockwave Supernova (2015).   One for fans, mainly.  ***1/2

Review by David Randall

Rescheduled European dates 2021

April 9        Zurich, Switzerland    Volkshaus Zurich
April 10     Winterbach, Germany    Salierhalle
April 12     Aarhus, Denmark    Train
April 13    Odense, Denmark    Posten
April 14    Copenhagen, Denmark    Amager Bio
April 15    Stockholm, Sweden    Fryshuset
April 16     Oslo, Norway    Rockefeller
April 19     Berlin, Germany    Huxleys
April 20    Nuremberg, Germany    Löwensaal
April 21     Karlsruhe, Germany    Tollhaus
April 23    Antwerp, Belgium    De Roma Borgerhout
April 24     Enschede, Netherlands    Muziekcentrum Enschede
April 25     Amsterdam, Netherlands    Melkweg the max
April 26    Heerlen, Netherlands    RABOzaal Heerlen
April 27     Oberhausen, Germany    Turbinenhalle
April 30    Birmingham Symphony Hall
May 1         Bexhill De La Warr Pavilion
May 2         Manchester Bridgewater Hall
May 4         London Palladium
May 5        Sage Gateshead
May 6        Glasgow O2 Academy


Josh Taerk promo

Check out Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk and his exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page


In his show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on Sunday 29 March David Randall featured a selection of tracks from “Albums of the Month” (January-March 2020) (29:45)

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

Featured Albums w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 HARTMANN 15 Pearls And Gems (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 H.E.A.T. II (earMUSIC)
14:00-16:00 GRAHAM GOULDMAN Modesty Forbids (Lojinx)

Power Plays w/c 30 March (Mon-Fri)

LOUISE LEMON Devil (Icons Creating Evil Art )
BLACK ORCHID EMPIRE Winter Keeps Us Warm (indie)
ONE DESIRE Shadowman (Frontiers)
CRYSTAL IGNITE Black Mamba (indie)
PICTURESQUE ATTN: (Rude Records/Equal Vision Records)
SKARLETT RIOT Human (indie)
THE COVASETTES Spin (indie)



EP review: BOOTYARD BANDITS – The Very Best Of

BOOTYARD BANDITS - The Very Best Of

Facebook [Release date 17.04.20] The Bootyard Bands may play country rock/Wild West music and give the impression they hail from the US, when in fact they are from Worcester UK. Touring wise they have supported the likes of Massive Wagons … Continue reading

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Feature: Albums that time forgot – LENNY KRAVITZ – 5

LENNY KRAVITZ – 5

Virgin [Release date 12.05.98] Lenny Kravitz has always been hard to define; it’s entirely possible to imagine Kravitz in the crowd at Woodstock or strutting down a Parisian catwalk. Despite being effortlessly cool and the very embodiment of old school … Continue reading

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Album review: MAGENTA – Acapela 2016 and 2017 (CD/DVD)

MAGENTA - Acapela 2016 and 2017

Tigermoth Productions [Original release date 04.11.19] Magenta are one of those bands who have influenced many other prog wannabes whilst sometimes getting overlooked themselves.  They’ve never had significant wider acclaim, never employed big time PR or appeared on major labels, … Continue reading

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Album review: BONFIRE – Fistful Of Fire

BONFIRE - Fistful Of Fire

AFM Records (Released 03/04/20) Worried that we’ve grown weary of the ten rock songs and a ballad format, Bonfire throw in a few (3 in fact) short instrumentals to punctuate the band’s well established sonic signature, on this, their 17th … Continue reading

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Quick plays: THE LOVETONES, JOE EDWARDS, PATSY THOMPSON

THE LOVETONES  Myriad

THE LOVETONES  Myriad Cleopatra Records [Release date 28.02.20] I can’t say I’m familiar with The Lovetones – an Aussie indie psychedelic rock band previously active between 2002 and 2010.  But main man Matthew J Tow’s song writing has been compared … Continue reading

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Album review: MISSING PERSONS featuring Dale Bozzio – Dreaming

MISSING PERSONS featuring Dale Bozzio - Dreaming

Cleopatra Records [Release date 20.03.20] A ‘household name’ back in the early days of MTV – as lead singer of Missing Persons – Dale Bozzio is said to have influenced Lady Gaga via Madonna. Also known for her work with … Continue reading

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Album review: ROB COTTINGHAM – Back Behind The Orchard Tree

ROB COTTINGHAM - Back Behind The Orchard Tree

[Release date 03.04.19] You have to hand it to Rob Cottingham.  He doesn’t like to sit idle, and this re-working of the Touchstone/Cairo founder’s debut solo album has been on his bucket list for some time. Having learnt a shed … Continue reading

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Album review: COMPASS – Our Time On Earth

COMPASS – Our Time On Earth

Escape Music [Release date 24.04.20] The Compass story began back in December 2017 when singer songwriter Steve Newman decided to write a few songs that musically would step outside the barriers imposed by many years writing for his own band … Continue reading

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Album review: WOLFHEART – Wolves Of Karelia

Napalm Records [10.04.20] Finnish metallers Wolfheart master in something called ‘Winter Metal’ which appears to be a cross between fast and furious death metal and the wide soundscapes of Sigur Ros. It is a mix which works amazingly well and … Continue reading

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EP Review: BOMBS OF HADES – Phantom Bell

Black Lodge [Release date 17.04.20] Bombs Of Hades originally formed back in 2002 to party and play Crusty Death Metal (a new genre on me!) and have over the years released several albums and EP’s whilst honing their sound. This … Continue reading

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Album review: DICTATOR SHIP – Your Favourites

The Sign Records [Release date 17.04.20] This is the debut album from Swedish rockers Dictator Ship and over the course of 27 minutes the guys set out to entertain with retro rock from a bygone age. The band have produced … Continue reading

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Feature: Call Collect – An introduction to WISHBONE ASH

WISHBONE ASH - The Tivoli, Buckley, 3 November 2018

GRTR!’s melodic rock maestro Andy Nathan charts the progress of Wishbone Ash, currently celebrating their 50th anniversary Wishbone Ash may have a criminally low profile in the wider world, but there aren’t many bands that can boast both a history … Continue reading

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Feature: Call Collect – An introduction to COZY POWELL

Cozy Powell

Joe Geesin recalls Cozy Powell’s long career, the key albums, and a friendship with one of rock’s finest drummers Colin Flooks, better known as Cozy Powell, was a renowned rock drummer who, like many, lived like he played – hard … Continue reading

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Album review: ZON – Astral Projector/ORPHAN – Salute

ZON - Astral Projector

Rock Candy [Release date 20.03.20] ZON – Astral Projector + 4 The band members’ post Zon experiences are arguably more colourful than their brief, 2 album grab at fame and fortune. And yet, the 1978 debut, “Astral Projector” promised so … Continue reading

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News: Singer songwriter JOSH TAERK plays live for Get Ready to ROCK! (Sunday 5 April, 21:00 BST, GMT+1)

Josh Taerk

Canadian singer songwriter Josh Taerk plays an exclusive live session via Get Ready to ROCK!’s Facebook page on Sunday 5 April at 21:00 BST (GMT+1) Josh was born in Toronto, Canada. He is an official Recording Academy/Grammy Member and his  … Continue reading

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Album review: KHYMERA – Master Of Illusions

KHYMERA – Master Of Illusions

Frontiers [Release date 06.03.20] Album number five from Khymera, who started out as an alliance between Italian producer & musician Daniele Liverani and then Kansas singer Steve Walsh. Khymera has since developed into a regular musical project when bassist and … Continue reading

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Album review: BLAZE BAYLEY – Live In Czech

Blaze Bayley Recordings [03.04.20] Blaze Bayley is one of rock and metal’s true survivors. Having been plucked from the excellent Wolfsbane to front Iron Maiden following Bruce Dickinson’s departure in 1994, he was then unceremoniously dumped by the band five … Continue reading

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Album review: BUFFALO SUMMER – Desolation Blue

Silver Lining Records [Release date 27.03.20] This is the third album from Buffalo Summer and rather good it is too. The Welsh wonders have been playing up and down the country and every festival they can get with a decent … Continue reading

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Feature: Call Collect: An introduction to FOCUS

Focus - Hard Rock Hell Prog, Pwllheli, 21-22 March 2014

David Randall developed the groundbreaking website Akkernet in 1996 during the Internet’s infancy and went on to manage several UK tours for Jan Akkerman before writing the original biography published in 2003.  Here he recalls Focus and the key recordings. … Continue reading

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Album review: JOE SATRIANI – Shapeshifting

JOE SATRIANI - Shapeshifting

Sony Music [Release date 10.04.20] We’ve always commented on the energy displayed by Satriani not least sustained during a two hour live show.  Recent albums have been pretty convincing too.  That energy permeates this latest offering and will surely translate … Continue reading

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