Quick plays: X-ROMANCE, THE DAMNED THINGS, LEGION

X-ROMANCE, THE DAMNED THINGS, LEGION

X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past AOR Heaven [Release date 24.05.19]

Another blast from the past re-discovered and rebooted for today. This time it is the turn of X-Romance. X-Romance was initially a project started in 2015 as an offspring to the original band Romance from 1988, founded by bassist Anders Rönnblom (Killer Bee) & keyboards player Thomas Widmark. In the autumn of 2015, Anders was going through a box of old tapes and found the old Romance recordings. He called Thomas, because he thought that these tapes were just too good to be put in a box and stored in a closet. They went through all the tracks and rerecorded them being joined by vocalist Andreas Novak (House Of Shakira), guitarists Fredrik Tjerneld and Mikael Dahlin (Killer Bee) and drummer Kenta Karlbom (Goatess), in the studio.

Not surprisingly given when the songs were originally written the album has a distinct 80’s melodic hard rock sound. Also they have chosen the perfect singer for these songs in Andreas Novak, his melodic singing lifts up songs like ‘Lonely’ and the Rainbow groove on ‘Bad Connection’.

It is pretty much standard melodic rock, listenable but nothing special and helped by having Andreas Novak’s vocals, particularly on the album’s stand out ‘You And I’, a veritable melodic rock gem. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

X-Romance

THE DAMNED THINGS High Crimes Nuclear Blast [Release date 26.04.19]

The Damned Things are a supergroup who released their debut album ‘Ironiclast’ in 2010 to rave reviews. They consist of Every Time I Die vocalist Keith Buckley, Alkaline Trio bassist Dan Andriano (who joined the band this year), Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian, plus guitarist Joe Trohman and drummer Andy Hurley, both members of Fall Out Boy. After playing some festivals around the time of the debut album’s release, the Damned Things went on the backburner due to the band member’s commitments to their other bands. Now we have their second album and one that is sure to please their fans and win them a fair new ones.

They cover a fair few musical bases, be it the catchy pop metal of ‘Something Good’ you’ve got to love a song with the refrain ‘All of my friends are going to hell’, a definite Fall Out Boy feel to this one. Or a nice little bit of screamo metal on ‘Carry A Brick’?

Many a supergroup fails by the songs, not so the Damned Things who have enough modern clout coupled with good old fashioned heavy metal/rock (songs like ‘Storm Charmer’ and ‘Crawling Back’ both feature a classic Sabbath bass/drum rhythm) to satisfy a wide audience. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

LEGION Rising Rock Company [Release date 19.04.19]

Album number nine from Legion and by my reckoning the third album so far this year to feature the vocal talents of Phil Vincent! The majority of Legion however hail from the UK, namely guitarist Vince O’Regan (Pulse, Bob Catley), bassist Gavin Cooper (Lionsheart, Statetrooper, Weapon UK), drummer Andy Pierce (Pulse) and on keyboards Irvin Parratt (Pulse, Bob Catley).

The metal quota is certainly fulfilled on the riff-tastic ‘Nothin’ To Me’ and the pounding rhythm on ‘Only The Strong Survive’, with a bit of a rap vocal from Phil Vincent. For those after a little less metal, more hard rocking ‘Lost Soul’ and the catchy ‘Maybe Now’ do the trick.

After a couple of so-so albums Legion have got their rockin’ mojo back and I suggest you give them a listen pronto. Metal with a melodic edge, made for cranking it up. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

 


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: DADDY LONG LEGS – Lowdown Ways

DADDY LONG LEGS - Lowdown Ways

Yep Roc Records [Release date 10.05.19]

Lowdown Ways is the third studio album from New York’s Daddy Long Legs – a rambunctious blues trio spewing their contemporary take on speed-infused blues as garagey as topless calendars and oily rags. Featuring a dozen cuts of rough-and-tumble, rabble-rousing blues, there is plenty of harmonica-fellatio, cowboy-boot-heel-on-a-hardwood-floor backbeats and almost cowpunk-ish attitude.

These lads look, sound and probably smell every inch like an angst-ridden Dr. Feelgood meeting Mike Ness as he was contemplating forming Social Distortion. Stomp and holler kicks it all off with a stonking “Theme From Daddy Long Legs” intro – buckets upturned and a tasty spaghetti western-tinged overtone. Saddle up, this is going to be a ride…..

Doused in juke-joint spirit, Daddy Long Legs give it plenty of fuzz and zoot-suited welly on “Pink Lemonade” and “Mornin’ Noon and Night” sees the band in their groove complete with snarly vocals and biting blues sentiment. “Glad Rag Boogie” sounds a bit like Nine Below Zero if you prodded them with the angry stick and spat in their beer. Suck it and see on “Bad Neighbourhood” – probably the most typical Daddy Long Legs work-out on this album with growling, preacher man vocals…aggressive blues indeed – pure Johnny Cash on Viagra.

“Winner’s Circle” is a cleaner-sounding twelve bar blast reminiscent of Dave Edmunds in his Rockpile days while “Back Door Fool” is as close as they get to a campfire ballad – good tune. Some cool Scotty Moore-style playing is in heavy evidence on the Cajun-influenced “Celaphine” which chugs along like a southbound steam train.

Untamed and stripped way back, this frenetic-sounding bunch have produced a solid and really feral album which undoubtedly has its roots in the blues but is unchained and unleashed – drawing in smidgens of gospel and rockabilly along the way.

Lock up anything female – hell, even your valuables – as Daddy Long Legs rip their way through the UK in May – catch them if you dare. ****

Review Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Gig review: AIRRACE – London Borderline, 19 April 2019

Airrace’s stop-start career seems to have been characterised by support slots, whether with Queen back in 1984, or since they reformed a decade ago, a periodic set of shows consisting mainly of high profile support slots to the likes of Tesla, FM, Night Ranger and  Thunder support slots, festival appearances  or,  at the best, co-headlines.

This Good Friday headline show was therefore one to look forward to and Laurie Mansworth – the one original member from the British melodic rockers – even confirmed it was their first London headline show from the stage, though there was some debate afterwards exactly which shows there might have been in the eighties.

After a support slot from contemporaries with a similar chequered past – albeit a very different musical standpoint in NWOBHM stalwarts Tytan, Airrace opened to a modest but very enthusiastic Bank Holiday crowd with the first track from 1984’s Shaft of Light classic in ‘I Don’t Care’. Initial sound gremlins very soon settled down but initially the lights man seemed to have forgotten to project them towards the stage, which fortunately was properly rectified as the night went on.

Early on, they alternated between the debut and songs from last year’s first effort with this new line-up ‘Untold Stories’ (this writer’s choice for GRTR! as No 1 album of 2018). ‘Eyes Like Ice’ is already established as a firm live favourite and ‘New Skin’ had a lively groove as they bookended ‘Caught In The Game’.

Singer Adam Payne confidently owned the stage. His equally slightly built predecessor Keith Murrell had an unmistakable style but the old material lost nothing and sounded entirely authentic in his hands as they played a series of debut favourites in the punchy ‘Not Really Me’, ‘First One Over The Line’ with its massive chorus and what sounded like a slightly different keyboard intro and ‘Promise To Call’.

Just as impressive was the way he could effortlessly switch vocal style, given that ‘Untold Stories’ broke out of the mainstream AOR confines to draw on a wider range of musical directions, as was shown in a trio of new numbers with the heavier riffing of ‘Men From The Boys’, the bright and breezy ‘Summer Rain’ was an almost poppy seventies feel, and the pomp of ‘Running Out Of Time’.

Not a second of their set was wasted, as one song after another was delivered faithful to their studio counterparts with no embellishments  I seem to remember Laurie having gone on some longer guitar breaks during previous shows but this time his playing, while superbly controlled and melodic, seemed to be kept as concise as possible.

He is always a jovial presence on stage and could not resist a few quips at watching members of The Treatment, there to support their drumming band member, son Dhani. His backing vocals together with those of bassist Rocky Newton also filled out the vocal sound.

‘Open Your Eyes’,  back in the set after a lengthy absence,  was rapturously received in certain quarters, but this was no nostalgia fest,  epitomised by the atmosphere during a pair of new songs, the riff heavy ‘Different But The Same’ and ‘Come With Us’,  Linda Kelsey- Foster’s honky tonk style piano leading into a raucous singalong barroom rocker.

The best though was saved to last – given a new treatment with a lengthy intro from Linda – giving way to Adam singing the first verse solo before the band kicked in, ‘Brief Encounter’ is not only their finest moment but stands comparison with the very best AOR songs from a British band.

Far from being an anti climax, a sole encore in ‘Didn’t Wanna Lose You’ was nearly as good, likewise employing similar quiet to loud dynamics as it built to another hook-filled chorus and took an hour and ten minute set right up to an early curfew.

While it might have been nice to hear a track or two from 2011’s comeback album ‘Back To The Start’, in every other regard this was a triumphant and enjoyable performance. Lean and stripped of any padding, it was hard to find fault with the set, and I hope these headline shows become a regular rather than one-off event.

Review and photos by Andy Nathan


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: TODD RUNDGREN’S UTOPIA – Live At The Chicago Theatre (CD/DVD/Bluray)

 TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA - Live At The Chicago Theatre (CD/DVD/Bluray)

Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra [Release date 26.04.19] CD/DVD/Bluray

Utopia was Todd Rundgren’s progressive/pop fusion vehicle and can sometimes get overlooked or misunderstood in his varied back catalogue. The band had split by 1986 but there was a brief reunion nearly 10 years later and the current iteration went out on the road in spring 2018. Todd is joined by longtime collaborator Kasim Sulton, drummer Willie Wilcox (1975-1992) and Gil Assayas, a new whizz on keyboards.

To open proceedings with the 14 minute ‘Utopia Theme’ is daring perhaps but really sets the tone. This is a prog tour de force with Rundgren’s soaring guitar figures a highlight, counter-balanced by Assayas’ swooping keys.

To those who maybe found Utopia’s fusion flavours a little unpalatable or pretentious, this live album should dispel any apprehension. It’s straight ahead rock for the most part and must have been great live. Fortunately this comprehensive deluxe package includes both a DVD/Bluray so there’s no excuse not to have a quiet, unadulterated, wig-out when the coast is clear.

This is a great companion package to another live release via Purple Pyramid, recorded in December 2015 – An Evening With Todd Rundgren – although that lacks the additional bluray disc.

Whilst there is no doubting Utopia’s musical prowess – here fully demonstrated – they also delivered some memorable, shorter songs.

Not least ‘Love Is The Answer’ – covered by England Dan & John Ford Coley for the hit single – as well as by Todd in solo mode. This is one of the greatest songs ever written, no question, and as relevant today as it was when it first appeared on ‘Oops! Wrong Planet’ in 1977.  And ‘Love In Action’, ‘One World’ and ‘Just One Victory’ also sound better in their original context.

Sulton takes lead vocals on several songs of which his own composition ‘I Will Wait’ is a standout. It reminds us of the Philly soul connection that permeates the long-standing Rundgren/Sulton axis.

Todd Rundgren’s work – and his live gigs in general – can be eclectic. This Chicago gig is totally focused and stays on message throughout. ‘Just One Victory’ of many in Rundgren’s long and still productive career. *****

Review by David Randall

Album review (White Knight, 2017)


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: FM – The Italian Job (CD/DVD)

Frontiers [Release Date 22.02.19]

FM have delivered consistently excellent live performances since the second phase of the band effectively kicked off a decade ago with guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick’s arrival. However this era of their history has gone undocumented so far, making this – the latest in a series of Frontiers Records live shows from their annual showcase festival near Milan – a very timely release.

While it comes as a CD and DVD package with identical track listing, the sound seems more geared towards an audiovisual project, and is better experienced in the latter format, where judicious filming shows spontaneous interactions with the crowd as Steve Overland is overcome by them bursting into chanting and bassist Merv Goldsworthy in particular shares a knowing nod and a smile with those in front of him.

The show is the complete 17 track set, comprising a variant of their setlists over the last few years. At the time of the festival in April 2018, last album ‘Atomic Generation’ had been newly released and they opened with ‘Black Magic’, while ‘Killed By Love’ harked back to their glory days.

The set included some of the choice cuts from the post-reformation period, notably ‘Over You’ with harmony guitars from Steve and Jim, and ‘Story Of My Life’, the unaccompanied opening section a vehicle for an emotional performance from the singer.

However the bulk of the material comes from the much-loved, AOR-tastic first two albums ‘Indiscreet’ and ‘Tough It Out’. Highlights include Jem Davis’ keyboard intro to ‘I Belong To The Night’, the twin guitars of ‘Let Love Be The Leader’ and Steve’s remarkable vocal prowess, whether soaring on the choruses of ‘Someday You’ll Come Running’ or smooth and soulful on the only song from their bluesier  Andy Barnett years in ‘Closer To Heaven’.

The lesser spotted ‘Love Lies Dying’ even gets an airing, a strange single choice back in the day but here Jim’s solo sounds superb on a song that comes over as a distant cousin of ‘Who’s Crying Now’. However as with the best live sets, the familiar anthems are left to last with a great closing quartet of ‘Bad Luck’, ‘Tough It Out’, ‘That Girl’ and ‘Other Side of Midnight’ as Jem joins the fun up front with his keytar.

They may be too subtle a band to blow the proverbial doors off as in the eponymous film, but this release successfully manages to capture the definitive FM and confirm they just get better with age.  **** 1/2

Review by Andy Nathan


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Book review: On track…JETHRO TULL, THE BEATLES

On Track...The Beatles by Andrew Wild

Sonicbond Publishing [Publication date 26.04.19]

The On Track… series continues with some momentum, nearly 20 titles currently scheduled, spearheaded by prog aficionado Stephen Lambe. The idea is to discuss in some detail individual songs but that invariably means talking about the context in which they were created. In that respect, the project provides a more comprehensive and useful summary than might be expected. Each title is written by an obvious trainspotter, and often reflects the toil of several decades.

Jethro Tull by Jordan Blum expands the Tull story to include Ian Anderson’s solo outings but not those of Martin Barre. He does note, however, “…his style instantly came to define the Jethro Tull sound about as much of any Anderson’s contributions.”

There are references to the anniversary permutations of back catalogue, which is useful given that keeping up with these Tull releases (and the ubiquitous Steven Wilson 5.1 mixes) is somewhat daunting and can only get worse.

As Blum’s book suggests, there is cope for further reissues in this vein, notably the albums after 1978′s ‘Heavy Horses’. Wilson is currently working on ‘Stormwatch’ so we’re not going to get these in any chronological format.

The author doesn’t always deal with the various “collections” – and the bonus tracks – that have appeared such as the 1988 boxed set and there are few cross references and some omissions.

As an example, there’s a song ‘Overhang’ which featured in that boxed set and included as a bonus track on the reissued ‘The Broadsword And The Beast’. It’s not mentioned specifically here.

The colour photo section is predominately reproductions of album sleeves and video screen-grabs, again a format common to the other books in the series ***

The Beatles by Andrew Wild may seem an almost impossible task and whilst others have attempted song analysis (as Wild acknowledges) his take still makes for compulsive reading.

He’s covered the Fab Four’s song variants in all their recorded shapes and forms. This really is useful for the armchair investigator who wishes to understand the gestation of material.

It goes well beyond “main catalogue” and the trail is followed from the earliest Quarrymen setlists. Wild’s book differs from the On Track norm in that little context is given for each song but he aims to show how they developed and how they relate to other work, even other artists.  A companion volume, showcasing the solo works (1969-1980) is due in July 2019.

Strangely, there is no index which is a notable omission from all the books in the series. Given that the Beatles book is arranged alphabetically rather than chronologically this is also essential.  ****

Some listeners may not wish to dissect the lyrical content of songs and any purely musical insight can sometimes seem pretentious. Many of the views given are subjective, but these are the views of serious fans who have really studied their subject and so should be recognised for that. For those who wish to broaden their horizons these tomes provide a useful digestion of previous analysis whilst providing varying degrees of new insight.

Review by David Randall

On track…ELP, Deep Purple/Rainbow
On track…Blue Oyster Cult
On track…Queen


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



News: STEELHOUSE – Thunder and Thin Lizzy headline Welsh classic rock festival (26-28 July 2019)

Thunder - STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL - Ebbw Vale, South Wales, 23 July 2016

Melodic hard rockers Thunder and Thin Lizzy top the two-day Welsh classic rock festival, now in its ninth year.

Also appearing over the two-day event, The Temperance Movement, Uriah Heep and Living Colour will join bands such as Gun, Tax The Heat and Massive Wagons, voted breakthrough act in the Get Ready to ROCK! popular poll of 2018.

The festival takes place at Hafod-Y-Dafal Farm, Ebbw Vale and has been called “the UK’s highest music festival” on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.

Line-up

Friday 26 July
MASSIVE WAGONS
Those Damn Crows
The Rising Souls
Blackwater Conspiracy

Saturday 27 July
THUNDER
The Temperance Movement
Gun
Crobot
The Wild!
Hollowstar
Ryders Creed

Sunday 28 July
THIN LIZZY (Black Rose 40th Anniversary Show)
Living Colour
Uriah Heep
Danko Jones
Tax The Heat
The Amorettes
Wille And The Bandits
Liberty Lies

More information
Gig review (July 2018)


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

Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: KYLA BROX – Pain & Glory

Kyla Brox - Pain & Glory

Pigskin Records [Release date 29.03.19]

Kyla Brox’s ‘Pain & Glory’ is the perfect showcase for one of the great blues singers of her generation.

From the striking artwork to the the nascent songcraft of Kyla and her bass playing partner Danny Blomeley, it’s an excellent album that straddles a melange of blues, gospel, soul, jazz and funk, all brought to life by her evocative phrasing.

Her ability to effortlessly hit a note and soar at the right moment is sometimes offset by some intuitive phrasing behind the beat to bring a bluesy inflection to bear on material that is both imaginative and in part autobiographical.

‘Pain and Glory’ has an organic feel born of her years of working with musicians that share her musical vision, which is to focus on the possibilities of a song and to bring inventive expression to meaningful lyrics.

Brox won the 2019 Euro Blues Challenge and represented the UK at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, a timely reminder of both her talent and presence on a Brit blues scene she first graced as a teen in her dad Victor Brox’s Blues Train.

In that regard there surely must have been a strong case for ‘Bluesman’s Child’ to have been both the lead and title track. The gospel intro gives way to a wonderful leading opening line: “Too many hours in the back of a van”, before an autobiographical tale about both her dad and a lifestyle that she embraced on her own terms.

This is both lyrically and musically a defining track with an uplifting arrangement that frames arguably the best song on the album.

No matter, the opening ‘For The Many’ has its own qualities, being a horn-led, funky keyboard driven piece topped by Kyla’s effortless phrasing.

The challenge that this album sets her is to find material good enough to showcase her superb voice and ‘Pain & Glory’does so with plenty of variety. At its best there are a handful of outstanding tracks that perfectly match her voice and fulfill the band’s potential.

The title track for example, is an organ led ballad that focuses on her expansive phrasing and brings emotive expression to a love song.

‘Sensitive Soul’ too, is a subtly arranged slice of loping funk and a late night radio friendly song with nuanced horns and very subtle bv’s.

Better still, is the cool soulful arrangement of ‘Compromise’, which is topped and tailed by a lovely guitar figure. The confessional ballad is well suited to her intimate style over an annoyingly familiar organ riff.

The sultry outing oozes feel and benefits from the perfect arrangement, right down to the staggered piano part and uplifting guitar solo. And right at the centre of it all is Kyla Brox’s emotive voice. Such is the dynamic of the song that the instrumental break fills a void left by the absence of her voice which eventually returns centre stage. It’s simply perfect.

Sam Brox’s production never lets his primary focus shift from her voice, while he also illuminates instrumental flourishes where relevant.

‘Lovers Lake’ has a similar atmospheric feel – all whispered vocals, intricate guitar and a Steely Dan style rhythm track – but it feels like an engaging sketch rather than something weightier with a potential resolution.

However, as with a number of tracks here it fits the overall musical landscape seamlessly, and the bridge adds a beautiful contrast to a subtly propulsive groove that draws the listener in.

Each track feels like an integral part of an old school album, in which the ebbs and flows of the tracks are part of a greater whole.

She’s equally good on big band arrangements as on close-to-the-mic ballads, but you suspect she’s happiest on the international roll call of ‘Manchester Milan’, confident in her warm phrasing as she wraps her vocal round John Ellis’s piano line and some distant sounding horns. There’s no denying her stellar vocal on heartfelt lyrics and judicious horns that suggest a love letter to a person unknown.

And while the consistently good vocals and her band’s intuitive interplay is all about restraint and focusing on songcraft, the band percolates on the Latino and percussive feel of ‘Devils Bridge’, complete with a Santana influenced guitar solo.

The ensemble comes into its own on the stop-time ebullient big band shuffle of ‘In The Morning’, with its stuttering rhythm and horn arrangement.  She once again soars over a big arrangement with ironic lyrics. A cleverly built musical tension is neatly resolved by Tony Marshall’s grainy sax solo and some rather brusque ‘call and response’ bv’s, to give the album a welcome shot of energy.

The closing brace of tracks feel like the perfect book-end with the New Orleans influenced ‘Top Of The World’ featuring Clive Mellish on blues harp, while her impeccable cover of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ is again well suited to her warm timbre.

The song has been well covered by many of her contemporaries, but she still has the ability to bring her own style to bear on it, as she slips from the melancholic to the joyous in one line.

Kyla Brox has plenty of time to reach for perfection, but ‘Pain & Glory’ is a significant step along the way. Aided by Paul Farr, the fast maturing Brox/Blomeley songwriting partnership gives the album its coherent feel, while the band’s intuitive input forges some superb arrangements, which will doubtless be expanded in a live setting.

‘Pain & Glory’ sets new standards for a singer who has the ability to go all the way. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra 


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Quick plays: UNION DUKE, AUBURN, CARRIE TREE

UNION DUKE Golden Days

UNION DUKE Golden Days [Release date 14.06.19]

Bridging indie rock with bluegrass and country, and laden with three, four and even five voice harmonies, Toronto-based quintet Union Duke put the pedal to the metal with their third release.

With banjo, fiddle and ukulele getting billing as prominent as Rob McLaren’s electric guitar, there’s plenty of twang, stompin’ and dancehall verve on display throughout the 13 track set recorded ‘live’ in the studio and mixed by Mark Lawson (Arcade Fire).

From the hillbilly banjo infused opener ‘Heavy Wind’, through the cool breeze of ‘Got You On My Mind’, the ‘yee-haw’ drinking song ‘Coffee/Whiskey’, to the plaintive ‘My Only Fighter’, and the country closer ‘Chasing Headlights’, there’s a camaraderie/feel good factor in evidence that suggests these guys would be a great live draw.

That said, from a ‘repeat plays’ perspective, it’s unlikely Golden Days is commercial enough to find an audience far beyond post gig ‘merch’ stall sales.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley

AUBURN Game Of Faith

With semi-spoken, husky, breathy, vocals with a distinctive ‘squeak’ – that for some inexplicable reason conjure images of Cleo Laine (?!) – Liz Linten is another singer with a rather unique vocal style (last month it was Last Flight To Pluto’s Alice Freya).

Auburn are her Blues/Roots/Americana ensemble, featuring guitarist (and producer) Thomm Jutz, whose delicate blues runs provide the most sympathetic and complementary of counterparts, with Mark Fain (bass) and Lynn Williams (drums) unobtrusively filling out the ‘late night’ soundscape of Game Of Faith.

The fifth album into a career that parallels managing other artists including Eliza Carthy and Shane MacGowan, it’s probably fair to say Liz/Auburn are something of an acquired taste (Amazon reviews of previous releases – most of which which can be picked up for well less than one of Her Majesty’s pound coins – all emanate from a single acolyte).

Although dip into Game Of Faith – an album written in the last few months of 2018 in a flurry of outpouring in relation to all aspects of ‘trust’ – and it’s enchanting, mesmeric even, with the bossa nova styled Prosecco-fuelled ‘Profiles’ and the upbeat ‘It’s Not Love’ clear standouts.

But played beginning to end, the 14 tracks becomes rather formulaic and, frankly, a little wearisome. **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

CARRIE TREE The Canoe [Release date 26.04.19]

Perhaps not your ‘regular’ folky acoustic singer songwriter, the third album by Brighton based Carrie Tree feels like a mash of Tori Amos meets Leonard Cohen.

As a result, ‘upbeat’ isn’t a word that you’d associate with the deliberately understated and at times ethereal arrangements and production of Markus Sieber (known for his ambient acoustic recordings as Auka).

Combined with his spatial and delicate soundscapes, Tree’s contemplative song writing – inspired by life’s ‘journeys’ – isn’t going to set any pulses racing or toes tapping. Instead, The Cause is one of those records for life’s quieter, more contemplative moments.

One for reconnecting with nature, and your ‘inner self’, and perhaps meriting of further exploration by fans of the likes of John Martyn, Jeff Buckley, Damien Rice and the like.  **1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: WEEND’O – You Need To Know Yourself

WEEND'O - You Need To Know Yourself

Sonicbond [Release date 12.04.19]

We were impressed by the sophomore release – Time Of Awakening – by French progressive metal band Weend’ô (pronounced Window) this time last year.

With some heavenly vocals from singer/keyboardist Laetitia Chaudemanche, lovely, fluid, lead guitar lines from Térence N’Guyen, and a driving rhythm section of Maxime Rami (bass) and Nathanaël Buis (drums), the album was a perfect balance of prog metal tempered with a healthy dose of melody.

Now the band are releasing a remix version of their, sold out, 2012 debut. At the time it received positive reviews around the globe, but soon after its release, in 2013, the band worked on some re-arrangements with fellow countryman keyboardist/producer Stephan DeReine (who’s worked with artists as diverse as Billy Cobham, Alexander O’Neal, Stevie Wonder, Spandau Ballet, to name but a few).

Quite why wait so long to dust these off is a puzzle, because – using the Bandcamp stream of the original as a reference point – the new mixes do sound far superior – more richness in the vocals, more attack in the guitars, and a greater depth to the rhythm section.

It all serves to make You Need To Know Yourself sound a more mature and polished effort, although Chaudemanche’s heavily accented vocals do make the lyrics a little difficult to follow without the lyric booklet. But that aside, if you like your female fronted melodic prog served with a lightly serrated metal edge, You Need To Know Yourself is well worth checking out. ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

Album review (Time Of Awakening)


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: LARS ERIC MATTSSON – Into The Unknown

Lion Music [Release date 09.05.19]

Guitarist Lars Eric Mattsson (Condition Red, Mattsson) returns with a new album ‘Into The Unknown’, that sees him tap into his more melodic style of playing and song writing. He is joined by Alexander King on keyboards and drummer Christer Jansson.

Lars Eric Mattson has been recording and producing since the mid-80’s, so he certainly knows a thing or two about penning melodic tunes, which despite his guitar wizardry, do not fall into the trap of becoming widdly solos that only a few can listen to. Instead we have the hooked filled melodic rockers ‘Give It All’ and ‘This Is Your Storm’, or for a bit of variety try the bluesy ‘Burning Hot’.

Lars Eric Mattsson doesn’t have an overly emotive singing style, however he does give it all on the ballad ‘Soul Mate’. This segues neatly into the short acoustic instrumental ‘Epilogue for a Broken Heart’.

There are a few short instrumental pieces doted throughout the album including the marvellously funky ‘Too Close To The Sun’.

One of Lars Eric Mattsson’s more straight ahead melodic rock albums and one that grows with the listener on each repeated play. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: RORY GALLAGHER – Blues

In this archive interview, Donal Gallagher chats to David Randall about Rory’s music. Recorded in February 2012 for Get Ready to ROCK! Radio prior to the release of the remastered seventies albums. A second interview in 2013 brought the story more up to date and is repeated occasionally on the station. (30:00)

Chess/Universal Music Group [Release date 31.05.19]

Not just one of Ireland’s finest, Rory was the man everyone bowed down to. Gary Moore and Bernie Torme sung his praises, as did the likes of Eric Clapton, Ace Frehley, Joe Bonamassa, Brian May, Slash and Peter Frampton. If there was ever a blues/rock guitarist who could make some old piece of kit talk, no, sing, it was Rory. A man taken from us too soon.

Raised in Cork, Rory started off in Taste, before going solo, and musicians who passed through his ranks include the recently departed drum legend Ted McKenna. I was lucky enough to see him live in the early 90s, a couple of years before he died, and I have interviewed his brother and manager Donal since.

This 3CD set (other versions are available) comes from the vaults with a plethora of rare and many unreleased works.

Disc one is the Electric Blues set, opening with the fine boogie of ‘Don’t Start Me Talkin’ (from the Jinx album sessions), before the bluesier ‘Nothin’ But The Devil’ (1975). The latter clearly the type of blues an influence on the likes of Gary Moore.

The 12 tracks on this disc include unreleased tracks, live BBC sessions, and other tracks include ‘Leaving Town Blues’ (from the Rattlesnake Guitar Peter Green tribute album) and tracks by Lonnie Donegan and Muddy Waters featuring Gallagher as a guest. It’s honest and earthy and rocking all in one. Whether slow, fast, boogie or storytelling, the blues here is just fantastic. And a fine addition to any Rory collection.

Disc two is the Acoustic Blues set, and follows a similar trail of previously unreleased tracks (or outtake versions) from classic albums including Blueprint, Tattoo and Deuce, along side live tracks recorded for Radio Two, Radio FFN, German TV and Irish TV. Not only is this a real goldmine, but proof of just how good a guitarist Rory was; his slide on an acoustic was just as eclectic and there’s nowhere to hide. Honest brilliance.

Live was really the place to experience Rory, and the Live Disc (3) shows why. Some explosive energy and amazing guitar, what’s not to love? ‘When My Baby She Left Me’ is the first of three previously unreleased live tracks from the Glasgow Apollo 1982, and a very fine ‘Messin’ With The Kid’ from 1977, and an extended jam from the Old Grey Whistle Test. The disc finishes with a short interview with Rory too.

This is a wonderful collection of some of Rory’s rarest and finest. Sadly no ‘Daughter Of The Everglade’s or ‘Bullfrog Blues’ (check them out, seriously), but given how long it is since we had any serious coordinated Rory Gallagher reissue campaign, this is a fine reminder of how good he was and also of what is out there. Universal take note.  *****

Review by Joe Geesin

Reissues (2012)
Reissues (Kickback City/Live In Cork, 2013)
Reissues (Irish Tour ’74, 2014 plus interview with Gerry McAvoy)


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: TOMMY CASTRO & THE PAINKILLERS – Killin’ It Live

Tommy Castro & The Pain Killers - Killin' It Live

Alligator Records [Release Date 01.02.19]

From the moment Tommy Castro yells out “Party time everybody, it’s Saturday night”, we’re in the thrall of a perfect performance.

For all his song writing ability and guitar chops, Tommy is the consummate performer who knows how to work an audience and get the best out of his band while making a magical connection with a crowd. This makes for a great club gig and an excellent live album.

‘Killing It Live’ is all about a road tested band and its ability to seize the moment. So it is, that TC and The Painkillers lean into the uplifting feel of ‘Make It Back To Memphis’ on which his gritty vocals, opening stinging guitar line and Mike Emerson’s ebullient piano solo is a snapshot of plenty more to come. His humorous lyrics also wryfully recall results of undercover partying:  “Now the needles on empty, I can see it by the light of the moon, And if we make it back to Memphis, we’re gonna have to make it on fumes”.

The following track ‘Can’t Keep A Good Man Down’ could almost be autobiographical, as Castro has put in the time, the work and creativity to carve out a high-end career that continues to prosper with releases such as this.

Sleepy John Estes’s ‘Leaving Trunk’ is given a muscular band arrangement, and he picks the perfect moment for the more restrained ‘Lose Lose’, on which his big tone and expressive attack sits perfectly with Mike Emerson’s piano work, as they build a slow blues perfectly to great encouragement from the crowd.

The celebratory shuffle of ‘Calling San Francisco’ finds Castro soloing at his intensive best. It’s also a great example of how he builds a mellifluous set from a series of live cuts culled from different shows across Texas, New York, Michigan and California. And while credit must go to engineer Ron Alan Cohen, his job is made easier by the consistency of the band’s performances here.

‘Shaking The Hard Times Loose’ adds some echo laden twang guitar on an intense rocker that could be John Fogerty, while the lighter feel of a similar outing ‘Two Hearts’, finds the band closer to a poppy feel.

The grooves are fat without losing any focus or edge, and Castro’s own solos are spirited, economical but always delivered with sufficient intensity and spark to illuminate the material.

Castro is a great vocalist too, as he stretches his white boy soul phrasing into r&b and gut-bucket blues. His versatility is rooted in meaningful songs with musical accompaniment that colours rather than dominates the song.

He does this so well because of his tight band that revels in some sparkling interplay and brings the best out of their band leader.

Listen to the funky ‘She Wanted To Give It To Me’, which combines a gritty rapped out vocal with interwoven piercing guitar lines within a tension building song. Its framed by the funky rhythm section of  bassist Randy McDonald, drummer Bowen Brown and a stellar keyboard player Mike Emerson who switches to organ for a intense solo.

‘Killin’ It Live’ is an aptly titled album that delivers in spades. Tommy Castro is a one of the most underrated figures on the contemporary blues scene and this live cut redresses the balance with a joyous exposition of what he does so well.

It’s all there on the closing tub thumping funk of ‘Them Changes’. The Pain Killers bring fresh energy and relentless drive to the well heeled Buddy Miles cover, as they stretch out one last time in front of an appreciative Austin crowd, to round off a great live compilation. It doesn’t get any better. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: ERJA LYYTINEN – Another World

Erja Lyytinen - Another World

Tuohi Records [Release Date 26.04.19]

‘Another World’ is a suitably titled album that reflects blues-rock guitarist Erja Lyytinen growing musical aspirations. She initially learnt her craft as a slide playing blues guitarist, but in recent years she’s brought a sharper focus to her song writing. She’s been unafraid to delve into personal narratives while simultaneously broadening her musical scope.

And this is ever more so on ‘Another World’, an album that showcases the full range of her guitar playing alongside some expressive vocal phrasing and intuitive band interplay.

She brings together moments of scintillating shredding – all lightning licks and dazzling technique – with more ethereal moments moments and tension breaking lush melodies, bolstered by harmony vocals.

Her guitar playing glues everything together on 9 tracks that straddle hard rock, jazzy fusion and prog rock, as she revels in array of confident tones and contrasting solos.

She sets herself lofty aspirations, as she aims to leave a signature imprint on fast changing genres, sometimes within a single song.

Put simply, ‘Another World’ is the work of a stellar guitarist and maturing songwriter who has the gift of seeing a bigger picture.

‘Another World’ is a challenging piece of work full of musical twists and turns. It’s not so much a linear musical journey as an exploratory musical landscape with plenty of interesting diversions and highlights that stick in the memory like picture post cards.

From the staccato tension building intensity and gnawing tone of ‘Hard As Stone’ with its uplifting melodic harmony guitar break, to the gently paced bonus track of ‘Without You’ – which builds to an angst filled guitar driven finale – this is an album full of musical substance, fuelled by lyrics that range from the emotive to the metaphoric and poignant.

Lyytinen announces her expanding musical direction on the opening ‘Snake In The Grass’, as she delivers an avalanche of lightning licks with special guest Jennifer Batten.

The ripping whammy bar and twin guitar intro gives way to a sudden stop-time vocal with a repeated hook, as a busy drummer Ipe Laitinen adds plenty of bluster.

Both guitars come together on thrilling unison double lines leading us back into a funky verse. It’s an edgy, funky, dynamic piece, which sets a new parameter at the outset.

She slips into some heavy dirty and staccato funk on the jagged riff-driven  ‘Cherry Overdrive’, which sounds like a cross between Sue Foley and former Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre.

She adds a timeless car metaphor on a tough rocker with sudden ethereal break, full of fazed harmony vocals, acoustic guitar and Harri Taittonen’s organ. It all leads to a whammy inflected proggy guitar break, complete with some deft tapping.

It’s an impressive opening to an exploratory album that cleverly maximizes her special guest’s talents.

If Jennifer Batten brings blistering chops and different sounds, then slide king Sonny Landreth adds a colourful tonal depth to the album, but not necessarily in the way you might imagine on ‘Wedding Day’.

The tale of infidelity is spun out over double-time boogie that is closer to Deep Purple than his native Louisiana, but the slide break gives the track its sweep and brings further emphasis to the spiky lyrics.

Landreth also guests on the gentle atmospheric ballad ‘Break My Heart Gently’, with subtle ethereal guitar over waves of cymbals, on a startling change of direction from the main body of the album.

It’s a track with real presence, and owes a lot to Peter Green in terms of space, tone and dynamics, as Lyytinen wraps her vocal round the heartfelt lyrics.

‘Torn’ is almost a sister track, opening as a waltz, over some plucked bass notes and a heartfelt vocal that wraps itself round a shifting arrangement with a Celtic undertow.

The whole album hangs on the all encompassing title track which comes early in the sequencing. It’s a vocal tour de force with a defining line: “The only thing that matters is that we survive,” that evokes Todd Rundgren.

A lovely spacey feel features an uplifting vocal and harmonies, counter-weighted by a piercing wah-wah and whammy inflected spiky solo over a stuttering drum pattern and a mid number rap.

The Sci-Fi lyrical duality explores a love in a different dimensions as well as sending out an eco message. It’s a perfect example of her new groundbreaking style that shifts genres within the same song, before finally coming to rest via a tight band outro.

It’s all you might expect from an album that is rich in sonic detail as further evidenced  by the big production ‘Miracle’, on which her vocal hovers over a percolating fusiony rhythm track with harmony vocals and tabla percussion. A beautifully constructed proggy solo full of chiming shrill notes leads us back to the hook.

Alongside the title track and ‘Cherry Overdrive’, ‘Miracle’ is both a highlight and a cathartic release as the band stretches out impressively.

‘Another World’ is an exploratory journey with plenty of interesting diversions and highlights that stick in the memory like a picture post card.

From the tension building intensity and a harmony guitar break of ‘Hard As Stone’ to the gently paced ‘Without You’, with its angst filled and guitar driven finale, ‘Another World’ shows you the many facets of a Finland’s polymath who derives her musical accomplishment from a willingness to experiment.

It may not quite be the finished article – it’s much too diverse for that – but there’s so much good stuff here that you will always come back for more. ****

Review by Pete Feenstra

Gig review (Oxford, March 2019)


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: CRAIG FINN – I Need A New War

Partisan Records [Release Date 26/4/19]

Brooklyn-based band The Hold Steady had already made quite a name for themselves with their lyrical storytelling and classic rock influences when their front-man, Craig Finn, began a parallel solo career back in 2012. The classic riffs and catchy melodies of The Hold Steady had given way to a more mellow musical approach in a Johnny-Cash-meets-indie-rock sort of way but, clearly, Finn had happened upon something that many were looking for. Finn’s last solo album ‘We All Want The Same Things’, released in 2017, received no shortage of plaudits and he will be hoping to make a similar impact with’ I Need A New War’. Again, Finn’s rich narratives, world-weary characters and laid-back, seen-it-all-before delivery take centre-stage on this new album.

“I saw this record as the third part of a trilogy,” says Finn. “Thematically, this was the third group of songs that I had written about smaller moments – people trying to stay afloat in modern times, attempting to find connection, achieving tiny triumphs and frustrating let downs in their day to day lives. Also, this was the third record in a row that I’d made with these musicians, along with engineer D. James Goodwin, following Faith in the Future (2015) and We All Want The Same Things (2017).”

Finn has moved effortlessly from twenty-first century rocker to timeless singer-songwriter and the musicians he has brought together evidently have a natural feel for what the artist is working to achieve. Horns, piano and sensitive guitar work fill out the sound and give the release the vibe of an album you instinctively know is trying to tell you something. ‘I Need A New War’ will certainly help cement Craig Finn’s reputation of a modern-day singer-songwriter of some note. ***1/2

Review by Darren Johnson


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: FIND ME- Angels In Blue

Release Date 22.02.19

For those in the know, Find Me has been one of the best melodic rock projects in recent years. A partnership between producer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Flores and Blanc Faces singer Robbie Le Blanc, a stunning performance at Rockingham Festival last year raised expectations among existing fans and whetted the appetite of new converts like me for this, their third album.

One of the songs premièred that day, ‘No Tears in Paradise’ opens the album and sets the tone for what is to come- up tempo but extremely keyboards driven,  with a lush chorus and big vocals.

Robbie has one of the classic AOR voices- soaring, expressive and crystal clear with hints of the likes of Mickey Thomas and Freddy Curci – and the production is bright. However on closer inspection too many songs sound similar and the likes of ‘True Believer’ have rather identikit choruses.

While not being privy to the recording process, I wonder if a clue lies in the fact that the songs are written by a whole series of Frontiers rostered artists (Michael Palace and Alessandro Del vecchio among others).

It is almost as if each of them was working to a blueprint for a typical Find Me song, and ended up in the same place. As a result every song seems to have a similar tempo, with the glorious exception of the dramatic ballad ‘One Last Kiss’ where Robbie’s voice soars above an almost choir-like backing chorus.

There is though much to be positive about the album, with strong choruses on the likes of the soaring ‘Can’t Let Go’ Me’ and ‘Waiting For A Lifetime. ‘Living A Lie’ epitomises the keyboard heavy nature of the album, while the title track has a distinct Magnum-esque feel in its chorus.

However the 13 track album could have done with some judicious pruning as there are a few fillers later on, sandwiching another song that had jaws dropping at Rockingham in their cover of  Survivor’s  ‘Desperate Dreams’.

Few singers other than Robbie could pull this off, but a respectable and pretty authentic version also draws attention to the fact that the rising generation of songwriters in the melodic field represented here still bow down before the original true masters like Jim Peterik.

The album was a very enjoyable listen – with that health warning that keyboards dominate over guitars- but the lack of variety means that this flawed masterpiece overall  doesn’t quite live up to the high expectations place on it.  ***1/2

Review by Andy Nathan


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: 99 CRIMES – 99 Crimes

Perris Records [Release date 05.04.19]

99 Crimes are the band featuring Paul Lidel (Dangerous Toys, Dirty Looks, Broken Teeth) on guitar and vocals, drummer Chris Jordan and a bass player called Jeff Lynne (not that Jeff Lynne or things would have turned out a whole lot different).

Their new self-titled debut opens with “Devil In Your Dreams”, on listening to this I wrote down “Raw and soaked in adrenaline, I swear to god, if you threw a match at this album it would literally explode”. I may have been a bit premature there. Although this is a good album and has an overall ‘70’s/’80’s feel to it, without sounding dated, it has two sides to it- those tracks which are more in the Broken Teeth zone, and those that are a bit more Uriah Heap like.

Fans of Lidel’s other bands will no doubt head straight to tracks like “Fool”, “Do It Over ”, “Never Say Never” and “Devil In Your Dreams”, these along with “Blood From A Stone” making up the albums highlights. The album’s first single “Rumor” is a fairly easy to listen to, and .38 Special sounding, effort. Unfortunately, my earlier enthusiasm was slightly on the wane after these tracks, which is a shame as there is so much potential there.

99 Crimes is by no means a bad album but I would like to see where the band go direction wise with their second album. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns


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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: MASSY FERGUSON – Great Divides

MASSY FERGUSON - Great Divides

North & Left [Release date 17.05.19]

Massy Ferguson plough a fairly industrial, ‘heavy duty’, furrow of country rock.  Or as the PR sheet for the Seattle based band’s 5th album aptly describes it, ‘amplified Americana’.

Driven by the song writing partnership of bassist / frontman Than Anderson, and guitarist Adam Monda, they deliver a potent blend of rootsy twang and rock & roll, spinning stories of ‘small town adolescence, big city adulthood, and the long miles of highway that stretch between’.

Combining the country and folk influences of Anderson’s Pacific Northwest Bible Belt up bringing with the hard rock of Seattle, where he eventually relocated, Great Divides offers up vignette tales – delivered Springsteen story telling style – spanning country angsty adolescence, moving to Seattle at 21 and meeting the cocktail waitress who would become his wife, and onwards through to fatherhood.

There’s a loose, intimate edge to much of the set – recorded with Martin Feveyear (Kings of Leon, Brandi Carlisle) – that deliberately captures raw and immediate performances, with bandmates Dave Goedde (drums) and Fred Slater (keys).

Great Divides may not break any land speed records, or reinvent the wheel, but if you’re after some no nonsense roots infused rock, and you’ve blacklisted Ryan Adams, Massy Ferguson could be well worth checking out when they undertake a promotional UK tour, including a number of festival dates, in July.  ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Album review: DORJA – Gemini

DORJA - Gemini

Dakini Records [Release date 21.06.19]

Having recently reviewed JoanovArc’s sophomore album here at GRTR! it’s interesting to note that Dorja – another new, all female rock band – shared the stage with them in February.

Also based in London, Dorja – a multi-cultural five piece – Aiym Almas (vocals), Rosie Botterill and Sarah Michelle (guitars), Becky Baldwin (bass), and Anna Mylee (drums) – hail from, and are spread as far afield as the States, England, Ireland, Belgium and Kazakhstan.

Like JoanovArc, the band are hewn from the same classic 70′s & 80′s rock roots – bands likes of  Zep, and Guns ‘N Roses, whilst tapping into the current garage rock scene.  In other words (or actually, the band’s own) a modus operandi of ‘a heavy guitar riffs base, with really melodic vocals at the top’.

But unlike JoanovArc they steer clear of any pop/crossover ground, sticking to a fairly hard rock format.  There’s a controlled ‘tease’ to proceedings, a rarity in these ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am’ days.  Almas’ vocals ooze sensuality, there’s some splendidly loose guitar playing with plenty of ‘feel’, Mylee’s drums punctuate proceedings to particularly good effect, and Baldwin’s bass is well up in the mix.

Song-wise, it’s a solid, rather than spectacular set, with four of the 10 tracks having appeared previously – the band’s debut single Fire, and three tracks off the follow up Target Practice EP.  So, no need to chase down back catalogue material, with highlights including the broody menace of the aforementioned ‘Target Practice’, and the provocative ‘Reaching Out’.

Curiously, ‘image’ isn’t an aspect Dorja have chosen to exploit, with fairly plain outer sleeve artwork that’s unlikely to attract passing ‘record shop’ attention.  But forget about the ‘all female’ tag, Gemini is highly promising, uncompromising, debut.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley


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

Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



EP review: ERICA DRIVE – The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing

ERICA DRIVE - The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing

ERICA DRIVE The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing

“The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing” is the new four track EP from UK band Erica Drive. With the band having only been together since 2017, they have already developed somewhat of a fan base and are now on their second EP.

Unfortunately, for me, this feels almost a paint by numbers affair that is heavily influenced by late 90′s/early ‘00’s pop punk and whilst this is inoffensive to my ears, it is a bit predictable and nothing new.

“All We Are” and “Anchor” are perfectly described above, the latter though has a more melodic feel and is one of the two stronger tracks on the EP, the other being “The Fall”, a fuller, slower number.

The EP is rounded off by “Better Man”, this has a deeper feeling but the guitars do seem to be at odds with each other at times and this kind of detracts from the song itself.

“The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing” is not a bad record but the band now need to use this to step into their own sound and grow from there. **1/2

Review by Nikk Gunns


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

Power Plays w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

KILL THE SILENCE All We Are (indie)
TRUCKER DIABLO Other Side Of The City (Big Truck Records)
99 CRIMES Comin’ Down Like Rain (Perris Records)
DREW DAVIES Man On The Run (indie)
HEADLINE MANIAC Save Me (3Ms Music)
MATT MITCHELL & THE COLD HEARTS Home (indie)

Featured Albums w/c 15 April (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK PAISLEY Perennials (indie)
14:00-16:00 ELLES BAILEY Road I Call Home (indie)

Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)

BUCKINGHAM NICKS (1973)



Quick plays: X-ROMANCE, THE DAMNED THINGS, LEGION

X-ROMANCE, THE DAMNED THINGS, LEGION

X-ROMANCE Voices From The Past AOR Heaven [Release date 24.05.19] Another blast from the past re-discovered and rebooted for today. This time it is the turn of X-Romance. X-Romance was initially a project started in 2015 as an offspring to … Continue reading

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Album review: DADDY LONG LEGS – Lowdown Ways

DADDY LONG LEGS - Lowdown Ways

Yep Roc Records [Release date 10.05.19] Lowdown Ways is the third studio album from New York’s Daddy Long Legs – a rambunctious blues trio spewing their contemporary take on speed-infused blues as garagey as topless calendars and oily rags. Featuring … Continue reading

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Gig review: AIRRACE – London Borderline, 19 April 2019

Airrace’s stop-start career seems to have been characterised by support slots, whether with Queen back in 1984, or since they reformed a decade ago, a periodic set of shows consisting mainly of high profile support slots to the likes of … Continue reading

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Album review: TODD RUNDGREN’S UTOPIA – Live At The Chicago Theatre (CD/DVD/Bluray)

 TODD RUNDGREN

Purple Pyramid/Cleopatra [Release date 26.04.19] CD/DVD/Bluray Utopia was Todd Rundgren’s progressive/pop fusion vehicle and can sometimes get overlooked or misunderstood in his varied back catalogue. The band had split by 1986 but there was a brief reunion nearly 10 years … Continue reading

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Album review: FM – The Italian Job (CD/DVD)

Frontiers [Release Date 22.02.19] FM have delivered consistently excellent live performances since the second phase of the band effectively kicked off a decade ago with guitarist Jim Kirkpatrick’s arrival. However this era of their history has gone undocumented so far, … Continue reading

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Book review: On track…JETHRO TULL, THE BEATLES

On Track...The Beatles by Andrew Wild

Sonicbond Publishing [Publication date 26.04.19] The On Track… series continues with some momentum, nearly 20 titles currently scheduled, spearheaded by prog aficionado Stephen Lambe. The idea is to discuss in some detail individual songs but that invariably means talking about … Continue reading

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News: STEELHOUSE – Thunder and Thin Lizzy headline Welsh classic rock festival (26-28 July 2019)

Thunder - STEELHOUSE FESTIVAL - Ebbw Vale, South Wales, 23 July 2016

Melodic hard rockers Thunder and Thin Lizzy top the two-day Welsh classic rock festival, now in its ninth year. Also appearing over the two-day event, The Temperance Movement, Uriah Heep and Living Colour will join bands such as Gun, Tax … Continue reading

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Album review: KYLA BROX – Pain & Glory

Kyla Brox - Pain & Glory

Pigskin Records [Release date 29.03.19] Kyla Brox’s ‘Pain & Glory’ is the perfect showcase for one of the great blues singers of her generation. From the striking artwork to the the nascent songcraft of Kyla and her bass playing partner Danny … Continue reading

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Quick plays: UNION DUKE, AUBURN, CARRIE TREE

UNION DUKE Golden Days

UNION DUKE Golden Days [Release date 14.06.19] Bridging indie rock with bluegrass and country, and laden with three, four and even five voice harmonies, Toronto-based quintet Union Duke put the pedal to the metal with their third release. With banjo, … Continue reading

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Album review: WEEND’O – You Need To Know Yourself

WEEND

Sonicbond [Release date 12.04.19] We were impressed by the sophomore release – Time Of Awakening – by French progressive metal band Weend’ô (pronounced Window) this time last year. With some heavenly vocals from singer/keyboardist Laetitia Chaudemanche, lovely, fluid, lead guitar … Continue reading

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Album review: LARS ERIC MATTSSON – Into The Unknown

Lion Music [Release date 09.05.19] Guitarist Lars Eric Mattsson (Condition Red, Mattsson) returns with a new album ‘Into The Unknown’, that sees him tap into his more melodic style of playing and song writing. He is joined by Alexander King … Continue reading

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Album review: RORY GALLAGHER – Blues

In this archive interview, Donal Gallagher chats to David Randall about Rory’s music. Recorded in February 2012 for Get Ready to ROCK! Radio prior to the release of the remastered seventies albums. A second interview in 2013 brought the story … Continue reading

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Album review: TOMMY CASTRO & THE PAINKILLERS – Killin’ It Live

Tommy Castro & The Pain Killers - Killin

Alligator Records [Release Date 01.02.19] From the moment Tommy Castro yells out “Party time everybody, it’s Saturday night”, we’re in the thrall of a perfect performance. For all his song writing ability and guitar chops, Tommy is the consummate performer … Continue reading

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Album review: ERJA LYYTINEN – Another World

Erja Lyytinen - Another World

Tuohi Records [Release Date 26.04.19] ‘Another World’ is a suitably titled album that reflects blues-rock guitarist Erja Lyytinen growing musical aspirations. She initially learnt her craft as a slide playing blues guitarist, but in recent years she’s brought a sharper … Continue reading

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Album review: CRAIG FINN – I Need A New War

Partisan Records [Release Date 26/4/19] Brooklyn-based band The Hold Steady had already made quite a name for themselves with their lyrical storytelling and classic rock influences when their front-man, Craig Finn, began a parallel solo career back in 2012. The … Continue reading

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Album review: FIND ME- Angels In Blue

Release Date 22.02.19 For those in the know, Find Me has been one of the best melodic rock projects in recent years. A partnership between producer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Flores and Blanc Faces singer Robbie Le Blanc, a stunning performance … Continue reading

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Album review: 99 CRIMES – 99 Crimes

Perris Records [Release date 05.04.19] 99 Crimes are the band featuring Paul Lidel (Dangerous Toys, Dirty Looks, Broken Teeth) on guitar and vocals, drummer Chris Jordan and a bass player called Jeff Lynne (not that Jeff Lynne or things would … Continue reading

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Album review: MASSY FERGUSON – Great Divides

MASSY FERGUSON - Great Divides

North & Left [Release date 17.05.19] Massy Ferguson plough a fairly industrial, ‘heavy duty’, furrow of country rock.  Or as the PR sheet for the Seattle based band’s 5th album aptly describes it, ‘amplified Americana’. Driven by the song writing … Continue reading

Email This Page

Album review: DORJA – Gemini

DORJA - Gemini

Dakini Records [Release date 21.06.19] Having recently reviewed JoanovArc’s sophomore album here at GRTR! it’s interesting to note that Dorja – another new, all female rock band – shared the stage with them in February. Also based in London, Dorja … Continue reading

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EP review: ERICA DRIVE – The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing

ERICA DRIVE - The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing

ERICA DRIVE The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing “The Hate, The Hurt, The Healing” is the new four track EP from UK band Erica Drive. With the band having only been together since 2017, they have already developed somewhat of … Continue reading

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