Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Roger Taylor - Fun On Earth (2013)

Genre - Rock / Pop
Label - Virgin / Universal

Track listing:

01 - One Night Stand
02 - Fight Club
03 - Be With You
04 - Quality Street
05 - I Don't Care
06 - Sunny Day
07 - Be My Gal (My Brightest Spark)
08 - I Am A Drummer (In A Rock n Roll Band)
09 - Small
10 - Say Its Not True (feat Jeff Beck)
11 - The Unblinking Eye (Abridged Version)
12 - Up
13 - Smile

Legendary Queen drummer, Roger Taylor returns with his first solo album since 1998's Electric Fire in the form of Fun On Earth, deliver up 13 brand new tracks for fans to get the stuck into. But this is my only problem with Despite Roger taking five years to record Fun On Earth, five of the thirteen new tracks have already seen the light of day in one form or another, even if in some cases, quite obscurely. One Night Stand was a download bonus 'mix track from 1998's Electric Fire sessions, Sunny Day was released a couple of years back with Roger's son un the moniker of Felix And Arty with the title, Woman You're So Beautiful (although this song has been heavily reworked here!, Versions of Small and Say Its Not True were releasedon the Queen plus Paul Rogers album, The Cosmos Rocks, and a longer verion of The Unblinking Eye was released last year as a single! that being said, this album is a solid album and a grower at that! The album opens with a riff busting One Night Stand, quite catchy and up tempo. Fight Club and Be With You are excellent tracks, with their sheer simplicity being the greatest part of their magic, plus Fight Club has some great sax ta boot! Quality Street is a good track with some nice lead vocals and I Dont Care is a fun little ditty. The reworked Sunny Day is much better than the original Felix and Arty Version, and Be My Gal is another sweet and great track. I am a Drummer in a Rock n Roll band demonstrates that Roger and Queen never really take themselves too seriously, that ability to write a song that gets the critics hook line & sinker, has always been there and this is another... a bit of light hearted self deprecation as opposed to some serious statement. The Unblinking Eye suffers from being an Abridged version, and I truly urge you to check out the original single version! The final two tracks, Up & Smile are also some of the better work, the former reminding me somewhat of Machines from Queen's The Works whilst Smile has a very Beatle-esque sound to it.
In Roger Taylors own words, Fun On Earth is an ecletic mix of songs, and as such is a good album a real grower, but considering he alledgedly was originally going to allow fans to choose the albums track listing from between seventeen and twenty tracks thats had been recorded, it is a little disappoining having five reworked songs. Would have loved to have heard Midnight Lightning and When We Were Younf, but what the hey. Fun On Earth is still a great little album.

Rating 9/10

MICHAEL SCHENKER's Temple Of Rock - Bridge The Gap (2013)

Genre - Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
Label -

Track listing:

01. Neptune Rising

02. Where The Wild Winds Blow
03. Horizons
04. Lord Of The Lost And Lonely
05. Rock'n'roll Symphony
06. To Live For The King
07. Land Of Thunder
08. Temple Of The Holy
09. Shine On
10. Bridges We Have Burned
11. Because You Lied
12. Black Moon Rising
13. Dance For The Piper

Legendary German guitarist MICHAEL SCHENKER is back with a new album, "Bridge The Gap", that will do just what it says - it's the record that will find Schenker returning to the major leagues in the very near future. It's filled with great riffs, compelling melodies, the best set of songs on a Schenker project in ages, and it finally sounds like Mr. Schenker is back in a band: his Temple Of Rock.

The last five years have seen Michael steadily climbing and gaining confidence along the way - once hindered by the anxieties of stage fright, and all-to-many incidents of infamy, it would appear that the guitar master has settled into a place in which he finds peace, and full command of his considerable creativity. I don't know of a hard rock guitarist who doesn't hold the man in high esteem, and now they'll be back to chasing his lead.
"Bridge The Gap" continues Schenker’s fine run of form. It is a coherent and consistent album delivering 13 full-on tracks of hard, fast, melodic heavy rock, plus a trademark opening instrumental effortlessly delivered by a highly competent band which, in addition to songwriting partner and vocalist Doogie White, consists of Wayne Findlay (keyboards and 7-string guitar), and the former Scorpions rhythm section of Herman Rarebell (drums) and Francis Buchholz (bass).
Scotsman White is likeable and enthusiastic, and that energy has transferred well to the album. Rarebell and Buchholz are rock steady and admirably efficient. And Findlay, as always, provides understated and selfless support.
While there are particular tracks on the record that shine, and everyone will have their favourites, it’s Schenker’s all-round performance that lifts the album comfortably above the also-rans. Indeed, he sounds truly unfettered as he solos majestically throughout, and it’s a joy to hear.

“I had the same drive making this album as I had when I was 16,” says Schenker. “It felt like bridging the gap from my teenage and Lovedrive years to what I am doing now.”
Given this desire to blend the old and the new, Doogie White has proved to be an astute choice of singer. He often performs under the influence of the great Ronnie James Dio, and both his vocal style and experience make it easy for the band to reference and celebrate the rock tradition of which Schenker is part, but from which he has sometimes seemed disconnected.
"To Live For The King", for example, invites comparisons with White’s former band Rainbow, while there’s a touch of Heaven and Hell-era Sabs about "Shine On" and "Bridges We Have Burned". On a similar theme, there’s just a hint of Kashmir in the riff and keyboard lines on "Temple of the Holy", a track that also features Schenker at his absolute best with some trademark guitar work through the chorus and a great solo to fade.
The celebratory vibe is even more apparent on "Rock 'n' Roll Symphony" with White tying a number of classic rock song titles together in an entertaining lyric.
There are other stand outs; "Where the Wild Winds Blow" builds ominously before breaking into a catchy and melodic chorus which complements Schenker’s playing perfectly. It also features an unexpected classical guitar interlude mid-track against a warm choral backdrop.

"Lord of the Lost and Lonely", with its vaguely Celtic vibe, is also a melodic winner and strikes me as a not-too-distant cousin of Victim Of Illusion from the very first MSG album. "Because You Lied" is perhaps the most unusual track on the album featuring a jabbing riff from Schenker, some insistent tub thumping from Rarebell, and a different kind of vocal from Doogie.
But the pick of the bunch is possibly the slightly quirky "Dance for the Pipe", the kind of track – blending complementary vocal and guitar melodies – that is part of Schenker’s distinctive contribution to hard rock.
"Bridge The Gap" brings Michael Schenker at the top of his game riding higher in the saddle than he has in decades, rifling off riffs that make you ask 'How does he do that?' soloing with smoldering intensity and his trademark melodicism, and writing tunes you want to hear again and again.
Whist the mad axeman's guitar playing is why we attend, this record finds him partnered with veteran shouter Doogie White: the singing Scotsman has written the best melodies and lyrics to be heard on a Schenker project in a great many years, and there is something magical that happens when Michael is matched up with his Scorpions brothers, Herman Rarebell and Francis Buccholz.
Everyone on "Bridge The Gap" is playing at their apex, and they're reaching deeper and mining pure gold.

Highly Recommended.

Rating - 9/10

The Line Up -

Michael Schenker (guitar)

Doogie White (vocals)
Herman Rarebell (drums)
Francis Buchholz (bass)
Wayne Findlay (guitar, keyboards)

Produced by Michael Schenker and Michael Voss

Saxon - Unplugged and Strung Up (2013)

Genre - Heavy Metal / Hard Rock / NWoBHM
Label -

Track listing:

01. Stallions Of The Highway (Remix)

02. Crusader (Orchestrated Version)
03. Battle Cry
04. The Eagle Has Landed (Orchestrated Version)
05. Red Star Falling (Orchestrated Version)
06. Broken Heroes (Orchestrated Version)
07. Call To Arms (Orchestrated Version)
08. Militia Guard
09. Forever Free (Re-recorded Version)
10. Just Let Me Rock (Re-recorded Version)
11. Frozen Rainbow (Acoustic Version)
12. Iron Wheels (Live Acoustic Version)
13. Requiem (Acoustic Version)
14. Coming Home (Acoustic Version)

There is always feral beauty in a raging beast... and with "Unplugged and Strung Up", SAXON's selection of unique, fresh and adventurous interpretations of material previously heard only with raw heavy metal thunder, the point is triumphantly underscored.

"Unplugged and Strung Up" reveals layers and pieces previously dormant in many of the 14 classic Saxon songs chosen for this awesome makeover, thanks to some ear-catching new arrangements and mixes.
Recorded, mixed and mastered with Andy Sneap in Derbyshire, UK earlier this year, Biff Byford and Co. re-evaluated, re-worked and re-energized the towering likes of "The Eagle Has Landed" and "Crusader" by introducing orchestral dynamics to offer added dimension.
Saxon are showing here three distinct new dimensions to their music, the first of which is re-records and remixes. The disc opens with a remix of "Stallions of the Highway", first seen on their 1979 debut album. This extended version is full of energy, with more forceful heavy guitars and powerful vocals than the original, but retains that classic metal sound.
Similarly with re-records "Forever Free" and "Just Let Me Rock", a more clean-cut sound is the only notable difference. However, it should be said that the latter is up there with the likes of Twisted Sister’s ‘I Wanna Rock’ as rock ‘n’ roll anthems go.
The second aspect of "Unplugged and Strung Up" are the orchestral tracks, which gives a whole new vibe to the record. "Crusader", at a first listen, is almost overwhelming. The orchestral element really comes through, and this delicate yet impressive touch makes it even more epic than the original.

With songs like "The Eagles Has Landed", "Red Star Falling" and "Call to Arms", the orchestral versions show a more stripped back side, sense of grandeur to Saxon. It even gives a modern feel to track "Broken Heroes", which is the first 'contemporary' track heard on the album.
The final element of this CD is definitely great: the acoustic tracks are gentle, almost elegant - words we would never usually associate with Saxon. We’ve heard Saxon blast out huge riffs and mighty vocals for over thirty years now, but the acoustic version of "Frozen Rainbow" is something totally new, which transports it into a power ballad to be proud of. And captivating for sure.
It’s like they’re taking a breath of fresh air and exhaling something pure, wholesome and organic in the form of acoustic tracks. Their riffs are still as compelling on a nylon guitar, their vocals are still as powerful when stripped back.
It’s different, but that’s exactly what we want from this album. On "Requiem", layers of folksy acoustic riffs are blended with metalized vocals. An unusual combination that simply works stupendous.
"Unplugged and Strung Up" finishes with its stand-out track; "Coming Home" has a country-style intro, enhanced when the tambourine kicks in. There’s a real hillbilly feel to this track, and that’s what’s so great about it - it takes the misconception that bands like Saxon only sound one way and throws it right back in your face. Of course, the defining vocals are still there but, that aside, "Coming Home" sounds nothing like a classic metal track. It encapsulates the point of the album perfectly.

This really is an interesting release, showing that Biff and the boys still have enough creativity to be able to re-imagine some of their most treasured classics, and the balls to do so!

Well worth checking out

Rating - 9/10

Baby Scream - Greatest Failures (2013)

Genre - Hard Rock / Powerpop
Label -

Track listing:

01 - Slut
02 - Mars
03 - Away
04 - Every Day (I Die A Little Bit)
05 - Ups And Downs
06 - The Riots
07 - Morning Light
08 - Nicole
09 - Ojos Orientales
10 - Exile
11 - Jekyll & Hyde
12 - The Ghosts Of Valerie (feat. Eric Dover)
13 - Hit & Run
14 - Secret Place
15 - Aching Eye's

Baby Scream, (well Juan Pablo Mazzola anyway) return with Greatest Failures, a best of collection that spans Baby Screams entire recorded out put with the added bonus of including a brand new track too in the form of album closer, Aching Eye's.

Well what can I say? Greatest Failures is a briliant place to start for those who have never heard the band before, as it truly does include some of the bands finest songs such as, Mars, Ghosts Of Valerie, Morning Light, Hit & Run and the brilliant heart felt Aching Eye's. Existing fans will appreciate having this the fine collection of songs all together on one disc too. Baby Scream offer up a certain haunting melodic charm, so laid back and relaxed, yet tight and passionate at the same time, an unbelievable acheivement in my humble opinion. As with all best of collections, personal choice would have seen one or two additional tracks, but I honestly can not say which tracks I would have replaced as all 15 are fine selections! That is also another fine point to point out, Greatest Failures offers up no less than 15 gems of songs and all in delivered through your speakers to your appreciative ears in less than 44 minutes.

As I said earlier, if you have never heard Baby Scream before then Greatest Failures is a wonderful place to start, and if you already own a couple of their discs, well grab this one too for the great track listing and brand new song, Aching Eye's, which is surely destined to be added to the ever growing arsenal of Baby Scream classics.

Very Highly Reconmended

Rating - 10/10

Monday, 11 November 2013

TIGERTAILZ - Knives (2013)

Genre - Hard Rock / Galm Rock
Label -

Track listing:
01 - Shoe Collector
02 - One Life
03 - Bite The Hand
04 - Spit It Out
05 - Punched In The Gutz

Remembered lovingly for Bezerk, their 1990 chart buster, UK mighty Glam titans TIGERTAILZ unfortunately failed to maintain the momentum and didn’t see out the Millenium in glory. But their hairspray has been on again since 2005 and now the quartet bang with the fresh 5-track EP "Knives".
A real cult band with incessant turmoils throughout their career, a lot of line-up changes, wrong management decisions and even some dramatic moments (R.I.P. Pepsi Tate), 2013 sees Tigertailz returning in great form. In fact, despite presenting only five tracks, "Knives" includes the band's best material since that 1990 influential (for many acts worldwide) album. Original guitarist Jay Pepper is joined by Rob Wylde on bass, Matt Blakout on drums and new singer Jules Millis, from Australian AORsters White Widdow. Millis brings a breathe of melodic bliss to this new Tigertailz, and his tuneful vocals are in grand part responsible for the 'musicality' of this material. Pepper's melting riffs and killer solos never sounded better (he is a truly great axe-slinger), Wylde provides not only pumping bass lines but also skilful songwriting, while Blakout lays down some top notch beats throughout the five tracks but nowhere more spectacularly than on the Wylde-penned "Bite The Hand". This is a killer song with that eruptive dose of metal which has always been a key ingredient for the Tailz heavy duty glam sound and this one ticks all the boxes; dirty riffs and squealing solos, smashing rhythm section and Jules Millis rules the catchy, sing-a-long chorus.
"Shoe Collector" sock's it nicely to the glitterati schlock with an a cappella start and an arena swing, "Spit It Out" has a sick melodic rock punch, crazy riffage and backing vocals galore, while the bruising bastardized grooves of "Punched In The Gutz" echoes the twisted fury of the 'Wazbones' days. The EP includes a ballad, yes, a ballad among these on-fire rockin' numbers, and a good one. "One Life" merge catch melodic rock with acoustic guitar and synths in a reminiscent Skid Row style giving Millis a chance to show how good (and melodious) he is as the tune builds bridges of powerful harmonies between each soul searching verse. "Knives" is a killer 5-track EP from this refreshed Tigertailz, and leaves you hungry for more. Jay Pepper and the guys prove here they can still teach a thing or two to a lot of actual Sleaze Metal 'wonders', showing how to write a good sing-along chorus with a tasty dose of extremely infectious, nasty & sleazy backing vocals. Don't be fooled if 'sleaze' is a bad word in your musical tastes; "Knives" combines the catchiness of the genre without sounding silly, it adds a strong, healthy dose of Melodic Rock to it and a polished hard edge rounding an impressive - sadly too short - set of songs. Think Skid Row circa Slave To The Grind meets Shotgun Messiah's awesome debut and you get the picture. "Knives" sees Tigertailz rise up back into the premier league of glammy melodic hard rock where they belong. We need a full length album right away.

Rating - 9/10