News: The Best of 2018 – Get Ready to ROCK! reviewer top albums and live acts of the year

On 16 December, David Randall presented a two hour special on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio reflecting the reviewer and popular choices for “Best of 2018″

The Best of 2018

The Get Ready to ROCK! end of year ‘Best of’ fully reflects the reviewers’ and the website’s eclectic tastes.  Their reviews are amongst the most highly visible and authoritative on the web.

From Monday 3 December, in the run-up to Christmas, we open up a popular vote when you can indicate your own favourites in each category.

A prize draw for a £50 Amazon voucher should get your personal collection off to a good start in 2019.

On Sunday 16 December, on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, the results of the popular vote are announced with a selection of the reviewers’ favourites in 2018.

Check out the results page

Throughout December, Get Ready to ROCK! Radio will feature ‘Best of’ selections throughout their playlists.

It’s difficult with such an eclectic selection to pick out overall “top” positions and achieve any consensus.  We’ve taken into consideration more than one reviewer making the same selection, and the relative rankings.  The top albums listed in genre categories are taken from those reviewer specialists on the GRTR! team.

PHIL LANZON - If You Think I'm Crazy

Top albums

1.  PHIL LANZON If You Think I’m Crazy (Cargo Records)
2.  Saxon – Thunderbolt (Militia Guard Music)
3. The Pineapple Thief – Dissolution (Kscope)

CAMEL - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 7 September 2018
Photo: David Randall/GRTR!

Top live act


Photo: John Bull/Rockrpix

Watch out 2019! (Breakthrough Act)


WISHBONE ASH - The Vintage Years (1970-1991)

Top reissue

WISHBONE ASH The Vintage Years (Madfish)

JASON RITCHIE (Reviews Editor)

Top albums

1.  PHIL LANZON If You Think I’m Crazy (Cargo Records)

Uriah Heep’s keyboards player solo album is a mix of hard rock, country, melodic rock and a damn fine listen.

2.  STEVE PERRY  Traces (Fantasy Records)

Steve Perry returns after over thirty years since his last solo album and, even taking off your rose tinted headphones, this is an album of pure musical class.

3.  JESUS JONES Passages (Absolute)

Big in the 90′s Jesus Jones have made quite possibly their best album to date, full of beats, rock and banging tunes.

4.  JP HARRIS Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing (Free Dirt Records)

JP Harris has lived a full life and it comes through on his songs, a blend of traditional country and more modern influences. Perfectly played by a set of top draw musicians.

5.  BURN Ice Age (Melodic Rock)

2018 certainly saw a few bands and artists return after some years away, Burn being one of them. Adding Steve Newman on vocals and Chris Green on guitars helped produce one of the year’s finest melodic hard rock albums.

Too good to overlook

KINO Radio Voltaire (Inside Out)
Some sixteen years since their first album Kino – John Mitchell (Arena/Lonely Robot) and Marillion’s Pete Trewavas – return with a mix of melodic prog rock that will delight existing fans and hopefully win them a few new ones.
SPOCK’S BEARD Noise Floor (Inside Out)
Their most instant album to date, full of melody and many a fine chorus. Progtastic from start to finish.

Top live acts


Jeff Lynne in his hometown with a hugely talented band behind him. Sadly no Richard Tandy this time, however we did get a dazzling light show and plenty of ELO classics.


Celebrating 12 years since their debut album ‘Twelve Stops Then Home’, The Feeling show they still put on one of the most entertaining and lively gigs you will ever see.


Talented folk duo who tour relentlessly and mix folk with the sort of sublime melodies Simon & Garfunkel were famed for.

Watch out 2019!


A re-vamped debut album, a record label behind them backed by plenty of live shows, 2019 will be their year.

The band play UK dates with Stone Broken 7-27 February 2019.


Not content with one of the songs of the year in ‘Chaperone’, Little Red Kings – with a decent UK tour support – have it all ready to take the next step up.


Soul and blues, with a passionate singer, Rainbreakers are one to listen out for and go see live in 2019.

Rainbreakers are on tour with Wille And The Bandits, 30 January – 30 March 2019

Top reissue

1.  SEMISONIC – Feeling Strangely Fine

20th anniversary edition and one of the finest albums of the 90′s.

The Best of 2018

Beth Hart - Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Top Blues Rock Album

BETH HART – Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Provogue)

PETE FEENSTRA (Blues & Rock Editor, Features Editor)

Top albums

1.   GRETA VAN FLEET  Anthem Of The Peaceful Army (Republic)

Having overcome the obvious comparison to Robert Plant, Greta Van Fleet’s second album finds them breaking new ground albeit with a lovely retro feel that evokes the dynamics and imagination of  recycled Zeppelin meets Rush. They will be massive.

2.  THE MAGPIE SALUTE High Water (Provogue)

The Magpie Salute redefine roots rock with well crafted songs, understated playing and some magical tones. Above all they build their solos with poise and restraint and always an essential part of the song. Rock never sounded so mature.

The Magpie Salute are on tour in the UK 30 November-11 December.

3.   BETH HART Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Provogue)

She came, she saw and show conquered a barn of a place by sheer g-force of personality, incredible voice and an ability to channel life experiences into songs as part of a great live set.

4.   JAWBONE Jawbone (self-release)

New roots rock supergroup featuring the songwriting, harmonies and stellar playing ability of Marcus Bonfanti and Paddy Milner. Imagine The Band in 2018.

Their range of influences extends beyond a handful of bands such as Little Feat, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and The Band, to an era when songcraft and musical ability held sway. Their debut album mixes roots rock, soul, Americana, highly original material, great playing and memorable hooks.

5.   LETHBRIDGE OWEN Mind Over Matter (self release)

The musical pairing of vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Kelly Lethbridge and guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Jimmy Owen may sound like an estate agent, but they are in fact a hugely talented West Coast-influenced duo who lead a magnificent band into a mighty impressive debut album.

5= TOM KILLNER Get Back Up (OTE)

Straddling the thin diving line between southern rock, soulful rock-blues and a jam band quality, this roller coaster of an album is full of ripping intensity, barn burning solos and a vocal that puts him in the vanguard of contemporary rock blues.

Too good to overlook

FANTASTIC NEGRITO Please Don’t Be Dead (Cooking Vinyl)
Negrito’s take on the world fuses elements of delta blues, new age soul, funk, rock and even hip rock. He’s passionate, intense, and has a killer voice, a dash of eclecticism and might well be the new Prince of the era.

SusanSantos-4164 by rockrpix
Photo: John Bull/Rockrpix

Top live acts


How do you top King King and Stevie Nimmo’s burgeoning solo career? You reform The Nimmo Brothers for their first tour in three years.

And while King King rock hard, Alan and Stevie Nimmo mixes real song craft with steely licks in his solo career, The Nimmo Brothers bring that indefinable, unbroken spirit, passion and intensity that only siblings can do. Probably the best blues-rock band in the land


You have a lot to live up to when your home town is Asbury Park, New Jersey. But with a great album ‘Soul Of A Man,’ on Viztone and a ripping band with the best horn section seen this year, plus Billy Walton’s incredible chops, you will be hard pushed to see a more exciting show on the club and festival circuit. they are fun, rock hard and always leave you wanting more.


They perfectly balance the explosive guitarist Innes Sibun with the emotive phrasing of Detroit blues-rocker Marcus Malone, who in the course of one line can evoke both Paul Rodgers and David Coverdale but with more feel. He might cut a dash with his cowboy hat, black cape and reflector shades, but he’s got the versatility and vocal chops to rise from a low-down guttural growl to falsetto in the blink of an eye.

4.  SUSAN SANTOS BAND (pictured)

It’s rare to come across a left handed blues-rock guitarist with something new to say, but Spanish guitar slinger Susan Santos fits the bill perfectly.

While the focus of her set is undoubtedly her guitar playing – think fluid runs, resonant tone and subtle to intense solos – she’s got an interesting range of material that encompasses blues-rock, jump-blues, boogie, rockabilly and in her more introspective moments Americana.


I’ve gone for club acts this year as – given the corporate shenanigans of rock – it’s always a pleasant surprise to catch a really great band in a local venue.

Step right up The Sharpeez, who feature founder member/songwriter Bill Mead and magnificent slide guitar player Loz Netto (best known for his work in Moon and Sniff & The Tears, before his own solo success.

But, pedigree aside, the band has just cut a splendid album called Wild One, which reignites our interest in British R&B with great songs, fine playing and surprisingly  sparking production.

Pete Feenstra contributed lyrics to this album and has also co-written with Marcus Flynn on the forthcoming album ‘Nothing But The Blues Again’

Watch out 2019!


Just a reminder of the band David Randall mentioned last year, Austin Gold from Peterborough, who continue to mix rock, prog and blues to great effect.

2.  4th LABYRINTH 

A Cambridge based prog rock band featuring the brilliant keyboard work and song of Marcel Kunkel, and the metronomic bass of Claudia McKenzie. their current single sums it all up, “This is Rock & Roll.”


Rotherham’s finest southern rocker whose new album Get back Up should be regarded in equal measure with his American contemporaries like Marcus King.  Tom has good songs, an awesome tone and a voice that shifts from Joe Cocker to Southern Rock in one fell swoop.

Top reissues

1.  LITTLE FEAT Live at Neon Park (Floating World)

This is actually the reformed Little Feat in the mid 90′s, in imperious form and rekindling the glories of yesteryear without the late Lowell George of course, but with vocalist Shaun Murphy, who tackles material old and new with great aplomb

2.  TAJ MAHAL Like Never Before & Dancing The Blues (Floating World)

Culled from 1991 and 1993, it takes a great reissue like this to remind us of the resurgence in interest in blues related music in the early 90′s.

Taj is in great form and comes close to real commercial success with the fun outing ‘Squat That Rabbit’.

3.  ROCKY ATHAS The Essential Rocky Athas Vol 1 and 2 (Cherryburst)

The Texas Tornado is one of the Lone Star State’s  great unsung rock/blues guitar heroes.
His history includes Black Oak Arkansas, Buddy Miles, Double Trouble, the Bolin Brothers and 8 years with John Mayall. In between times he’s forged a stellar rock/blues career of his own, highlighted here by a double set release with no filler tracks!

4.  WISHBONE ASH – The Vintage Years (Madfish)

Despite the band effectively splitting in two, this box set is a great reminder of one of the British musical pillars of classic rock, the rise of twin guitar bands and a truly unique sound that defined an era.

4=  MIKE ZITO   Blue Room (Ruf)

20th anniversary of a kick ass album from the younger Zito, with a rip- roaring style that years later led him to becoming a considered  songwriter and great guitarist.

Pete Feenstra presents regular blues/rock shows on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, including interviews with several artists featured in his ‘Best of’ selection.


DAVE WILSON (Live Editor)

Top albums

1.  PHIL LANZON If You Think I’m Crazy (Cargo Records)

Best known as the keyboard maestro in Uriah Heep, this solo effort by Phil proved to be an excellent listen. He gathered together a host of top musicians to produce a melodic masterpiece which falls somewhere between Heep and his earlier work with Grand Prix. Well worth searching out.

2.  FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH And Justice For None (Eleven Seven Music)

FFDP continue to go from strength to strength musically and this album contains many highlights. Hopefully frontman Ivan Moody has put his demons in his past and the guys can concentrate on producing more albums of this quality

3.  GHOST Prequelle (Spinefarm Records)

Papa Emeritus may have given way to Cardinal Copia up front, but Ghost are still as melodic as ever. As with the last album, Meliora, Ghost continue to blend pop, rock, prog and metal together to produce a devilishly clever sound.

4.  MASSIVE WAGONS Full Nelson (Earache)

This band have had a big year that saw this album entering the national album charts at number 16. Big tunes with huge hooks galore are always a winning combination and this album has both in spades

5.  GINGER WILDHEART GASS mark 2 (Round Records)

This was a recent release but the material on the album was recorded a couple of years ago. You never know what to expect from a Ginger release and this album was no exception. From punk to pop to rock each track takes you on a musical journey to a land where melody is king and the harmonies are always spot on.

BLACK STAR RIDERS - The Tivoli, Buckley, 28 November 2018
Photo: David Randall/GRTR!

Top live acts


This was a warm up show for Volbeat’s Download appearance and proved to be a hot and heavy night. The band were in great form and had the capacity crowd singing and bouncing along. Unfortunately this was to be one of the last gigs in the ABC as a week later things got a lot hotter when the venue burnt to the ground, a sad loss to the gig scene in Glasgow.


As I stated in the review, two men with two acoustic guitars should not be this entertaining! The fact that the guys kept the crowd enthralled for over two hours is testament to the talent on show. An excellent set list with some great between song chat made for a special night.


This new festival grabbed my attention from the first announcements. Put together by a group of enthusiasts lamenting the loss of the old Monsters Of Rock at Donington, the one stage, one day festival proved to be a huge hit. The line up and the organisation were spot on which was a credit to all involved. Hell, even Mr Download himself, Andy Copping, was in the crowd to enjoy the show and perhaps pick up some pointers…

Top reissue

SAXON The Eagle Has Landed Live (BMG)

This was one of the first albums I bought way back in the depths of time and in my opinion it is still one of the best live albums ever. This new version also has the addition of several additional tracks recorded in the Hammersmith Odeon just to make it even better.


DAVID RANDALL (Managing Editor)

Top albums

1.  ANDY SUSEMIHL Elevation (SM Noise Records)

More a reflection of the current scene than anything else.  Susemihl’s latest solo offering remains deeply buried under a morass of mediocrity.  In another age the radio airwaves and turntables would have hummed to his tunes.  Exemplary, melodic hard rock.

2.  THE PINEAPPLE THIEF Dissolution (Kscope)

Dark and intriguing, and incredibly rhythmic, modern prog rock at its very best.

The Pineapple Thief play UK dates 20-24 March 2019

3.  BIRDSONG AT MORNING Signs And Wonders (Blue Gentian Records)

Beautifully orchestrated and produced (with a 5.1 bluray for good measure) ‘Waterfall’ in particular is a standout.  Superlative soft rock.

4.  MAGNUM Lost On The Road To Eternity (SPV)

It would be a shame if Magnum lose a little momentum due to line-up changes but with Bob and Tony firmly at the helm it’s less likely.  After 40 years the latest album maintained their high standards and consistency.

Magnum tour in the UK 22-28 November.

5.   TED & MAJELLA Better Together (Turneround Music)

An intimate and laid-back offering from original Wishbone Ash guitarist, sounded good on release and continues to cast a beguiling spell.

Too good to overlook

URIAH HEEP Living The Dream (Frontiers)

Celebrating 50 years in 2019 we have no right to expect an album of this calibre from hard rock stalwarts.  If only their live setlists were as exciting.

Uriah Heep play UK gigs 12-16 December

FOREIGNER - Manchester Apollo, 12 May 2018Photo: David Randall/GRTR!

Top live acts


A wonderful tale of two halves, with ‘Moonmadness’ sounding better than we remember and the rest, well, just as good.  Great band, great sound … great guitarist!


Mick Jones’ almost cameo appearances now suggest the present iteration could ultimately turn into a tribute band.  Thankfully he appeared, putting his stamp on a relentless melodic hard rock spectacular.


Very rarely venturing south of the border for gigs, Grant is a captivating and engaging singer songwriter and this time – with a string quartet – bringing a shimmering backdrop to his typically resonant delivery.

Too good to overlook


A brilliant melding of rock and near-40 piece orchestra giving a new twist to Hackett’s now well-established Genesis revival.

Watch out 2019!


Still to release their debut album, these Scottish rockers have impressed with an early EP and more recently the compulsive ‘Hold On’.

Top reissue

WISHBONE ASH The Vintage Years (Madfish)

All you could ever eat boxed set, filled with extras, memorabilia and underlining the band’s persistence even in the face of latter-day adversity and division.  50th anniversary celebrations in 2019.

David Randall presents regular shows on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, showcasing new releases and signposting forthcoming tours and gigs.

He presents “The Best of 2018″ on Sunday 18 December, 22:00 GMT reflecting the reviewers’ choices and the results of the popular vote.

The Best of 2018

AIRRACE- Untold Stories

Top Melodic Rock Album

AIRRACE Untold Stories (Frontiers)


1 AIRRACE Untold Stories (Frontiers)

My scepticism over a new Airrace line up was blown away with a set of songs that paradoxically stand out from the melodic rock crowd by creating a warm, retro-sounding late seventies and early eighties vibe.

2 FM Atomic Generation (Frontiers)

One of the few bands to have come back better than ever, with another very strong set of songs that draw on their variety of styles and add a few new tricks, topped off by Steve Overland’s wonderful vocals.

FM release a new live album in February 2019, ‘The Italian Job’, recorded at the Frontiers Rock Festival (April 2018).

3 PERFECT PLAN All Rise (Frontiers)

Out of nowhere these seasoned looking Swedes deliver one of the albums of the year, straddling hard rock and AOR with superb vocals from Kent Hilli.

4 VEGA Only Human (Frontiers)

Vega’s hot streak continues with another set of melodic rock anthems with a modern twist that deserve to be huge.

Vega play UK dates 22 January – 2 February including Giants of Rock (27 January)

5 TREAT Tunguska (Frontiers)

Treat show their better known contemporaries Europe how to mature and stay relevant without losing the knack of hooks and melodies.

Too good to overlook

GROUNDBREAKER s/t (Frontiers)
W.E.T. Earthrage (Frontiers)
NO HOT ASHES s/t (Frontiers)

Guns N Roses - DOWNLOAD FESTIVAL - Donington Park, 8-10 June 2018
Photo: Andy Nathan/GRTR!

Top live acts


Quite simply the definitive Maiden show in my 32 years of seeing them- a spectacular stage show framing a setlist to die for

2. FM

Together with Dare, two of Britain’s best ever AOR Bands in a dream pairing on a feel-good night which rolled back the years to the late eighties

FM play Nantwich Civic Hall ( 1 December) and start 2019 with two festival dates at Butlins, in Skegness (Great British Rock & Blues) and Minehead (Giants of Rock). 


The melodic rock event of the year saw Vixen, Warrant and Nelson headline but there were pleasant surprises at every turn- from show-stealing Canadian veterans Glass Tiger to the newer sounds of Creye and Find Me. Possibly the best of the four Rockinghams to date


My first sighting of Guns n Roses in 30 years rewarded by an ambitious and always interesting set, with Download favourites Black Stone Cherry and festival masters Thunder leading a very strong supporting cast


The ‘Hysteria’ gig is still to come, but it will be hard to top this opportunity to witness the band do a big show at relatively close quarters and all for charity.

Def Leppard play UK dates with Cheap Trick 1-18 December

Too good to overlook


Top reissue

WISHBONE ASH The Vintage Years (Madfish)

This 30 CD box set, which kept me out of trouble all summer long, sets the standard for reissses for years to come. As well as celebrating the legacy of a sorely underrated band who were previously poorly served by CD reissues, the lavish presentation should be a source of pride for all involved. 

Watch out 2019!


Scandinavia still turns out talented young melodic rock bands at the drop of a hat, of whom Creye and One Desire are perhaps the standard bearers. Closer to home, Midnite City’s good time approach has been a welcome addition to an increasingly thriving domestic scene.

The Best of 2018


Top Singer Songwriter Album

JEB BARRY AND THE PAWN SHOP SAINTS  texas etc (Dolly Rocker Recordings)

LAURA MEADE - Remedium


Top albums

1.  LAURA MEADE Remedium (Doone Records)

An early ‘album of the year’ forerunner and one that continues to shine like a beacon in a sea of, has-beens, wannabe’s and recycling.  A truly ‘progressive’ album that just keeps on giving …

2.  MY INDIGO s/t (MVKA)

Ten, 3-4 minute, tracks of [adult orientated] pop perfection from Within Temptation’s Sharon den Adel.  Songs don’t come any more radio friendly than this.

3.  THE KENTISH SPIRES The Last Harvest (indie)

Vintage, female fronted, prog, but so much more than just a celebration of the past.  An exquisite, finely crafted debut, with some particularly impressive vocals and reed/ woodwind work.

4.  RIVERSEA The Tide (indie)

Brendan Eyre and Marc Atkinson’s spellbinding songwriting, evocative keys and heavenly vocals, with some wonderful cameos, make for a breathtaking, atmospheric, and mesmerising sophomore release.

5.  THE PINEAPPLE THIEF Dissolution (Kscope)

Compelling, stellar musicianship at its finest, this is progressive rock of the highest order – a brooding, and totally engaging album that just keeps growing … and delighting.

5= JEB BARRY AND THE PAWN SHOP SAINTS  texas etc (Dolly Rocker Recordings)

Also worthy of a top 5 spot, this gritty, lo-fi Americana debut – a sparse acoustic-based set where every word, every note, every whisper, exposes a fresh layer of hurt.  Raw, compelling, and addictive.

CAMEL - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 7 September 2018
Photo: David Randall/GRTR!

Top live acts


With Andy Latimer in full flight, and keyboard player/vocalist and sax player Peter Jones a revelation, nobody, absolutely nobody, was playing better progressive rock in 2018.  A stellar performance.


Finally, the penny has dropped – fans want comfortable seating, in a decent auditorium to enjoy one of the finest live acts on the circuit. An[other] imperiously commanding, and gripping, performance.

Marillion play UK dates 1-19 November 2018


What better way to round off the year than in the company of one of our best vocalists and finest songwriters warming the cockles with material from Strange Communion and assorted Yuletide standards.

Thea Gilmore’s Acoustic Christmas Party re-heats the cockles 28 November-14 December 2018

Watch out 2019!


Delivered a fabulous debut in 2018, and the pressure will be ‘on’ with the tricky second album.  With a bigger budget, and the addition of a sax player, recording is already underway ….


Showed real panache in delivering the perfect companion piece to their acclaimed, out of print, debut Out Of An Ancient World (2012) – an album rumoured to be getting a re-mastered re-issue next year, and one to look out for in 2019.

Top reissue

1.  THEA GILMORE Strange Communion (2009/2018)

Out of print for a while, but now re-issued with four ‘bonus’ tracks, Strange Communion embodies the very essence of the mid-winter season.  An album befitting of the term ‘classic’, and one that every home should have.

The Best of 2018

Top Progressive Rock Album

RIVERSIDE - Wasteland

RIVERSIDE Wasteland (Inside Out)


1. RIVERSIDE Wasteland (Inside Out)

Following the sudden death (at a ridiculously young age) of guitarist Piotr Grudzinski in 2016 there was some doubt whether Riverside could carry on. But Mariusz Duda and the boys have roared back with ‘Wasteland’ – at times, a very dark album, but then, they’ve been through dark times.

This is a progressive rock tour-de-force, almost on a par with ‘Love, Fear And The Time Machine’ and you cannot get higher praise than that. My album of the year.

2. JOE BONAMASSA Redemption (Provogue)

Bonamassa has his critics (even I blasted him on excessive use of brass on ‘Live At The Greek’), but what is not in question is his standing as the finest blues-rock guitarist of his generation and ‘Redemption’ has proof in spades.

Bonamassa appears to have gone through some self-doubt issues of late which he’s articulated on these twelve self-penned songs. Yes, there’s brass, yes, there’s girlie singers, but Bonamassa’s guitar and vocals cut through to deliver his best album in some time.

3. MYSTERY Lies And Butterflies (Unicorn Digital)

I have followed Canadian progressive rock behemoths Mystery for some years now. They were great when they started and have just got better with every release. Michel St-Pere, founder and frontman, is an exceptional guitarist, and he, along with the outstanding band, shine on ‘Lies And Butterflies’ to such an extent that Rush must be anxiously looking over their shoulder.

4. GIN BLOSSOMS Mixed Reality (Cleopatra Records)

One of the bands that defined the sound of “college radio” in the USA during the heady days of the nineties – the Gin Blossoms’ jangly guitar sound fused with songs with that wonderful West Coast vibe just hooked me in – and it’s great to have them back with a new album that sounds like they’ve never been away. Get the Chevvy out of the garage, stow the roof and drive down Ventura Boulevard with this at full blast.


Probably for prog aficionados this one – but anyone who likes keyboard-led rock music, brilliantly played, should really check it out. Japanese keyboard virtuoso Yuka Funakoshi has put together a top band to realise what is her most ambitious work to date – progressive, yes, but fully accessible and superbly played and recorded.

Too good to overlook

RIVERSEA The Tide (indie)
Melodic progressive rock at its finest
BIG BIG TRAIN Merchants Of Light (English Electric)
They go from strength to strength and if there’s a better live album released this year I’ve yet to hear it.
KING CRIMSON – Live In Vienna (DGM/Panegyric)
All their best on three discs, beautifully recorded and a version of ‘Starless’ to die for.

STEVE HACKETT - Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 3 October 2018
Photo: David Randall/GRTR!

Top live act

STEVE HACKETT (pictured)

One of the best nights of music I can remember. Steve Hackett, accompanied by one of the finest bands around PLUS, for the first time in the UK, a full orchestra, playing sublime music from the Genesis archives and Steve’s mightily impressive solo output.

An exceptional sound mix put the band at the front of things and the orchestra filled out the sound beautifully – spawning many goosebump moments, not least the climactic coda to ‘Shadow Of The Heirophant’ which resulted in an instantaneous standing ovation from the entire hall.

Simply stunning.

Top reissue

BLACK SABBATH Supersonic Years: The Seventies Singles Box Set (BMG)

Ah, the band and the era that really kick-started my love affair with music. Fabulous box set containing ten of the Sabs’ 7 inchers from the seventies – all on the spiral Vertigo label and many in very rare reproduction sleeves from the UK and world-wide. I still have the original copies of a few of them – but I’m just a sucker for this sort of thing and especially when it’s done as well as this.



Top albums

1.    BLACKBERRY SMOKE  Find A Light (Earache)

Another fine, fine release from Southern/country rockers, Blackberry Smoke. Following on the fletchings of ‘Like An Arrow’ in 2016 and ‘Holding All the Roses’ in 2015, the band are becoming increasingly prolific and relentlessly excellent.

‘Find a Light’ adds to this body of work with another set of songs essentially hewn from the southern bedrock of Georgia, but soaking up influences from various genres to create a multi-faceted, highly polished, deeply impressive offering. They are just a couple of tunes away from recording a monster album. This is very close.

2.    MARILLION All One Tonight – Live at the Royal Albert Hall (earMUSIC)

The 64th release (count ‘em) on Marillion’s own Racket Records label is a live recording of their Royal Albert Hall gig in October 2016. Live albums are hardly a new departure for this band, but even for these seasoned pros, the Royal Albert Hall legions created a special moment here.

Highlights include beautiful string quartet re-arrangements of ‘The Space’ and ‘Afraid of Sunlight’ . ‘Easter’, a song that has aged well, showcases Rothery’s aching solo as a bona fide modern-day classic.

3.    CATTAIL BREW It’s A Bit Difficult Really (Capital City Music Factory)

Off the beaten track, Waysted’s gravel-throated front man returned with a low profile, high quality album recorded with half of redneck metallers American Dog and friends. It is as fine an album of stripped back, good time, blues-fused hard rock as you could possibly wish to hear.

The album is simple, fun, infectious and just so relaxed. This is all about a group of musicians having an absolute ball with their influences and coming up with a classy album full of catchy tunes, great playing and enough swagger to dust up a catwalk.

4.    MASSIVE WAGONS Full Nelson (Earache)

I’ve come to love the Massive Wagons only relatively recently. This excellent and decent-selling album has moved the band into different orbit. The production is of a higher quality and the songs are simply better than before. Packed with no nonsense riffs that create an infectious vibe, it is a refreshing, energetic collection of solid hard rock. ‘Billy Balloon Head’ is surely a classic-in-the-making.

5.    TAX THE HEAT Change Your Position (Nuclear Blast)

I’ve had half an eye on Tax The Heat since clocking them down the bill at Ramblin’ Man a couple of years ago. The new album starts to fulfil the long-held promise of their sharp and compelling live act. Change Your Position is ostensibly classic British hard rock, with a deep vein of catchy hooks, veneer of commercialism and a few modern, fresh sounding twists that lift the platter out of the ordinary. Onwards and upwards.

Tax The Heat play UK dates 8-15 December.  They’ll also accompany Mott the Hoople on the ’74 tour’, 19-27 April 2019.

Photo: Christie Goodwin

Top live acts


Sometimes a gig so good comes along that any meaningful comparisons are blown away. By every measure, Pearl Jam landed a three-hour monster.

The gig (at the O2 Arena, London) worked on so many levels. There is a searing honesty and indestructible credibility about this band, aside from the quality of the songs and the genius of the playing. It all connects with the audience and results in a memorable, complete, immersive experience.


Black Country Communion were hitting the boards again after six years away. Portentous air raid sirens wailed and search lights danced amongst the crowd. This was never going to be low-key. Classic hard rock highpoints flowed freely, riding on a rediscovered swell of mutual respect between Bonamassa and Hughes and delivered a show full of zest and rediscovered comradeship.


After catching them around the time of ‘Love At First Sting’ in the mid-80′s, I somehow lost track of The Scorpions. I rediscovered them in my dusty vinyl collection a couple of years ago and remembered what I had loved. This was a cracking gig at the Stone Free Festival.

The band’s quality, work ethic and honesty was blindingly clear. As the band milked the moments out front, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather have been.

LAURENCE JONES - The Tunnels, Bristol, 22 September 2015
Photo: Simon Dunkerley

Watch out 2019!

1.  LAURENCE JONES  (pictured)

Laurence Jones released ‘The Truth’ in 2018 and has brought a crossover flavour to his material. Live, at Ramblin’ Man this Summer, he put in the kind of compelling, insistent performance that would have won him stacks of new fans. High profile support slots this Autumn seem to be propelling this classy blues man further into the limelight.


A volatile, slightly dangerous band to see live, Dirty Thrills always impress with their energy and commitment. Most of the material is raw, hard-edged blues rock. They still feel like a work in progress, but there is loads more to come from this dynamic, visceral band.

Top reissue

DAVID BOWIE – Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) (RCA, vinyl)

A nostalgic selection that takes me back to my youth. Revisiting this album, the intensity and edginess of tracks like ‘It’s No Game’, ‘Teenage Wildlife’ and ‘Kingdom Come’ still burn brightly.

This was a proper rock album (despite the inclusion of Ashes To Ashes) and Robert Fripp’s guitar playing is brilliant. He described his contribution to the album as “spraying burning guitar all over” the songs.

RYAN ROXIE - Imagine Your Reality


Top albums

1.  RYAN ROXIE Imagine Your Reality (Cargo)

Classic guitar driven rock in this very fine solo debut from the long serving Alice Cooper guitarist

2.  BULLETS AND OCTANE Waking Up Dead (Cargo)

Here is a band that has been around for a while now but can still put out an album that sounds as good as this

3.  DIZZY REED Rock n Roll Ain’t Easy (Golden Robot Records)

He’s the second longest serving member of Guns ‘N Roses and with this superb debut effort shows that he should be an essential part of their song writing, should they start to record together again

4.  JIZZY PEARL All You Need Is Soul (Frontiers)

Simply put, this album is JIzzy sounding exactly like he did 30 years ago. The voice is there, the songs are there and, not surprisingly, the fans are still there too – as proved by his frequent live jaunts to the UK

5.  THE CRUEL INTENTIONS No Sign of Relief (Indie Recordings)

One of the most refreshing debut albums I have heard for a long time, good old rock n roll served up Scandi style

Photo: Andy Nathan/GRTR!

Top live acts


Still promoting their recent The Missing Peace  album and with its follow up on the way, the band are really making up for lost time


A welcome return to the UK for the band. With a new album on the horizon we should see them on these shores again next year


Never failing to please a crowd, this was a solid greatest hits set that set the arena alight. There is a new album and tour on the way so expect more of the same come February.

Watch out 2019!


Recent album Through The Night  should see them making an impact  on both sides of the Atlantic

The Temperance Movement - Deeper Cut


Top albums


Cocksure, confident, contemporary British rock music at its very best.

2) THE DARKNESS Live At Hammersmith (Cooking Vinyl)

Why ? Because we love ‘em, that’s why !

3) ACE OF CUPS s/t (High Noon Records)

There is a unique coolness to this heart-warming story and sure, nostalgia sells but great songs endure and imprint themselves indelibly into the fabric of our consciousness and stick like toffee. And what a discovery this album and story has turned out to be…

4) FANTASTIC NEGRITO Please Don’t Be Dead (Cooking Vinyl)

“Finally, a call-it-like-it-is social commentator musician like there used to be. Music driving the culture with Captain Fantastic at the wheel, groove for the heart and the groin.

5) DEWOLFF  Thrust (Mascot)

Showing rock the way forward with a great album.

Photo: Paul Clampin/GRTR!

Top live acts


Hot, sweaty, intense and gritty – supported by the fabulous Thomas Wynne and The Believers – a night to remember.

2) BLACKBERRY SMOKE (pictured)

Southern-fried country rock in the English heartland – like a sore dick…you just can’t beat it! Maturity and hard graft have lacquered the Smoke with polish (now properly headlining), but thankfully not too much so they are still one of the finest live bands around today.


Discovered this summer and rushed to see him in November – class act of irreverent, in-yer-face blues and grooves.

Watch out 2019!


SAXON - Thunderbolt


Top albums

1. SAXON – Thunderbolt (Militia Guard Music)

Their heaviest yet and Saxon remain on form. In fact they’ve never really been off it. And since the early 00s their confidence continues, playing 5+ tracks from the current album live on stage. Blistering, Nigel Glockler’s back, Biff still sings like he owns the stage, even in the studio. Rocking.

2.  ZAL CLEMINSON’S SIN DOGS Vol 1 (Sin Dogs Music)

The former SAHB and Nazareth guitarist returns to his roots with (again) his heaviest ever album. And what a corker.

If Jeff Beck is the guitarists’ guitarist that everyone knows, then Zal is the guitarist’s guitarist who’s lesser known. Brilliant.

3.  PRAYING MANTIS  Legacy (Frontiers)

Melodic rockers Mantis continue their purple patch with the current line-up and it’s as gorgeous as ever. As is the Rodney Matthews sleeve.

4.  MAGNUM Lost On The Road To Eternity (SPV)

More classic melodic rock; Catley and Clarkin sound as strong as ever, in the studio at least.

Saxon - HARD ROCK HELL IX - Hafan Y Mor, Pwlhelli, Wales, 12-14 November 2015
Photo: Simon Dunkerley

Top live acts


Same excuse every year without fail, Saxon just know how to rock the house and are as solid as ever. They’ve set the bar and they meet it every time – have done for years.

2.  ROSE TATTOO/ Girlschool

Girlschool the perfect opener and Rose Tattoo as blistering and boogie-ing as ever. Some serious rock’n'roll at it’s street boogie blues punk slide very very best.

Top reissue

NAZARETH Loud And Proud (BMG)

There’s only one contender.  There’s plenty of good reissues about – Saxon (album remasters), the Cinderella Mercury Years box (and likewise Angel the Casablanca years), Samson and Graham Bonnet related releases. All excellent.

But when you have 32 CDs, 4 LPs (inc a picture disc and two live doubles) and 3 replica 45s, it’s the complete dogs bollocks. Essential listening, everything worth having by the Scottish classic rock legends. The entire official works and shed-loads of rare and previously unreleased. What’s not to love?

FAIRPORT CONVENTION  - What We Did On Our Saturday


Top albums

1. FAIRPORT CONVENTION  What We Did On Our Saturday (Matty Grooves)

A two-disc live recording of a 50th anniversary performance at their Cropredy festival last summer. Witnessing all of this felt like something really, really special. This album is, indeed, proof that it was.

2. SAXON  Thunderbolt (Militia Guard Music)

Thunderbolt proves that one of British heavy metal’s national treasures can still deliver a powerful classic album.

3. RAINBREAKERS Face To Face (indie)

Ten tracks of soulful, classy blues rock it captures the spirit of an earlier classic era while at the same time being fresh, contemporary-sounding and full of energy. Big riffs, deliciously bluesy licks, great melodies and vocals dripping with emotion and soul this a fantastic debut album.

4. JIM LEA  Lost In Space (EP) (Wienerworld)

Anyone who has ever been wowed by Slade at one time or another should rush to buy this EP  not because it’s an interesting curio from the latter years of a former member but because it’s a great rocking EP with some great new songs and some great new music.

5. MARIANNE FAITHFULL Negative Capability (BMG)

With beautiful songs and stunning musicianship in ‘Negative Capability’ Marianne Faithfull has delivered a late-career classic.

Top live acts


One of those bands that I’d always been aware of but was never really that familiar with, the reformed band were the highlight of the Butlins Great British Rock & Blues weekend. With the songs, the set-list, the charisma and the sound they delivered absolutely majestic classic rock.


The classic songs come thick and fast: ‘Travelin’ Band’, ‘Up Around The Bend, ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’, ‘Born On The Bayou’ and many, many more. Every single second of Fogerty’s set is a bucket-list performance at a bucket-list gig.


Sweet (and their special guests Steve Mann, Marc Storace and Doro) gave fans a night to remember in Berlin. What a fantastic way to celebrate 50 years of this iconic band.

Photo: Darren Johnson

Watch out 2019!

1. HELL’S GAZELLES (pictured)

Stage presence, charisma, good songs, great riffs, quality musicianship. Many upcoming young bands have some of these elements. Few have them all. But Hell’s Gazelles, a young four-piece from Oxford, have them all  in spades.


Fast and furious, loud and heavy as hell but never less than tuneful and melodic Toledo Steel are everything you want from a truly great heavy metal band. No Quarter is a brilliant debut album.


Channelling the spirit of the classic era of soulful early 70s blues rock they were one of my favourites at Butlins Rock & Blues weekend this year and their debut album is a stunner.

Top reissue

BERT JANSCH Just A Simple Soul (BMG)

Works both for those looking for an introduction to Jansch’s back catalogue and for committed fans looking for a lovingly-compiled career overview. As Bernard Butler puts it: “We have a life’s work here, and what a life Bert Jansch has given us.”

Best of 2017

Josh Taerk’s latest Sunday Session was streamed on Sunday 20 March 2022 at 21:00 GMT (16:00 EST). Josh’s next session is Sunday 22 May.

Check out previous videos here:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 8 May 2022.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 3 May 2022.

How to Listen Live?

Click the programming image at the top of the page (top right of page if using desktop)

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More information and links at our radio website where you can listen again to shows via the presenter pages:

Power Plays w/c 16 May 2022 (Mon-Fri)
FLOYA The Hymn (Arising Empire)
VEXES The Dream Disease (indie)
NEAR DUSK The Way It Goes (Iron Head Records)
IN SEARCH OF SUN Make Me Crazy (indie)
WALLNER VAIN Deceive Her (indie)
MARATON Non-Euclidean Heart (Indie Recordings)

Featured Albums w/c 16 May (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 TERRA NOVA Ring That Bell (Lion Music)
12:00-13:00 FOZZY Boombox (Mascot)
14:00-16:00 MICHAEL McDERMOTT St.Paul’s Boulevard (Pauper Sky Records)

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