Opening Act: A New Way To Live Forever
Club L.A. in Destin, FL
This was my first concert at Club L.A. out in Destin, Florida. I’m pleasantly surprised that a venue like this exists in a beachtown that likes to project a clean image for the families that visit in the summer. Of course, spring break is an entirely different tale of debauchery but the City of Destin doesn’t want anyone to know about that!
Doors opened at 7:30PM but I didn’t end up getting to the show until a bit after 8PM. I was thinking we’ve might’ve at least missed the start of the opening act but the bartender told us there was an issue with one of their amps so they were going on late. It was probably 8:30 or so when Fort Lauderdale’s A New Way To Live Forever took the stage.
ANWTLF plays in a style that’s grounded in ’90s rock. On their Facebook page, some of the bands they list as being fans of or being influenced by are Sunny Day Real Estate, Nirvana, The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins, Lenny Kravitz, Foo Fighters, Kings of Leon and Muse. Although I didn’t keep tabs on their setlist, they played for a good amount of time. I’d imagine probably 45 minutes or so at least and I think they closed with “California Waiting” by Kings of Leon. It was a decent set. This type of rock music isn’t really my thing but there were a few good songs in the bunch. The music of A New Way To Live Forever is definitely worlds away from Ratt ‘n’ roll! They seemed like a cool group of guys though. They hung out after their set for photos and autographs and to sell their CD. They even stayed around to drink beer, shoot pool and watch Pearcy’s set.
But now to the main event: Stephen Pearcy! I haven’t been able to find any info on who the members of his “Ratt Bastards” solo band are other than guitarist Erik Ferentinos. The show was by no means a sell-out. It’s a decent sized club and I’d bet by the time Pearcy played there was maybe 200 people there. As Pearcy said, “It doesn’t matter whether to me whether it’s 10 people or 10,000 people. It’s all a party!” Most of the crowd was as close to the stage as possible for Stephen’s entire set and they were into the show with fists in the air and singing along to every word.
I remember years ago the internet bashing Stephen Pearcy’s live performances pretty bad, posting them on YouTube and whatnot. I personally thought he gave a good performance on Saturday night. Yeah, his voice isn’t as strong as it once was but when you sing in that gritty nasally style that he does and you’re in your mid-50s, you’re not going to sound like you did on Out of the Cellar! Guys like Pearcy, Bret Michaels and Vince Neil catch a lot of flak for their live performances but considering their age and style of music they play, they do fine. It’s rock ‘n’ roll, not opera! It’s the spirit that matters, I don’t care if they can’t hit every note live.
Stephen Pearcy’s setlist:
Lay It Down
You’re In Love
Lack of Communication
Slip of the Lip
You Think You’re Tough
Way Cool Jr.
U Got It
Heading Out to the Highway [Judas Priest cover]
Back For More
Round And Round
As you can see, Pearcy played pretty much all of the hits you’d want if you went to see a Ratt show. I was hoping he’d play “Best of Me”, which was the single from 2010′s Infestation, but I can understand why he didn’t since it’s hard to count that as a “hit” for Ratt. I was actually quite surprised he didn’t throw in any Arcade or solo stuff. His solo material is a bit too industrial & alternative for me but I wouldn’t have minded it at all if he tossed in anything from the first Arcade record. That’s a great album.
For $15, I discovered one decent band and got to see a hair metal legend sing all of his hits from Ratt. Not a bad night at all. Well worth the money if Stephen Pearcy ever comes near your town.
Queensryche – Frequency Unknown
2013, Cleopatra Records/Deadline Music
3. “Give It to You”
5. “In the Hands of God”
6. “Running Backwards”
7. “Life Without You”
10. “The Weight of the World”
11. “I Don’t Believe in Love”
13. “Jet City Woman”
14. “Silent Lucidity”
Geoff Tate – Lead Vocals
Kelly Gray – Guitar (solo on Track 1)
Robert Sarzo – Guitar (solo on Track 3)
Rudy Sarzo – Bass (Tracks 1, 5, and 9)
Simon Wright – Drums (Tracks 1 and 5)
Randy Gane – Keyboards (Tracks 1, 5–6, and 8–10), Bass (Track 10)
Craig Locicero – Guitar (Tracks 1–10)
Jason Slater – Bass (Tracks 2–4, and 6–8), Keyboards (Tracks 7–8)
Martín Irigoyen – Guitar, Bass, Drums (Tracks 11–14)
Paul Bostaph – Drums (Tracks 6–9)
Evan Bautista – Drums (Tracks 2–4, and 10)
Jason Slater – Theremin (solo on Track 2)
Chris Cannella – Guitar (solo on Track 4)
Ty Tabor – Guitar (solo on Tracks 5 and 8)
K.K. Downing – Guitar (solo on Track 6)
Brad Gillis – Guitar (solo on Track 7)
Dave Meniketti – Guitar (solo on Track 9)
Chris Poland – Guitar (solo on Track 10)
Producer: Jason Slater
Even though I’ve always considered the band to be one of the more bland and boring rock/metal outfits out there, the story of Queensryche has become quite interesting over the last year. I’m certain more people are discussing Queensryche now more than they have in probably 10, 15 or 20 years. I know I am. If you want a good overview of what’s been happening and why there are two groups claiming to be Queensryche, check out this excellent article (which has been spotlighted and given the stamp of approval by the La Torre version of the band).
Well, as the world continues to wait for the Todd La Torre version of Queensryche to release their album, the Geoff Tate line-up has released their own album. Geoff Tate is probably one of the least popular guys in the world of rock & metal right now, so it’s no surprise the bashing started as soon as sound clips were released. But rightfully so. The production was pretty bad on the preview clips that were released. Some of those issues seem to have been corrected now that the album has been released but Cleopatra Records is now offering to send an even more recently remixed copy of the album to anyone to can provide them with proof of purchase of Frequency Unknown. They made this announcement just weeks after the album hit the shelves. It’s a head-scratcher. Why the label didn’t just wait and release a properly remixed album, I don’t know.
And just take a look at the limited involvement of the “band” and the long list of additional musicians. It’s a guitar solo-bonanza! They might as well be called “Geoff Tate’s Queensryche” or maybe “The Geoff Tate Group”, “Geoff Tate & Friends” or “Just Geoff”. There’s really no “band” here at all. The making of this album looks like a revolving door of musicians. Heck, this version of the band has already lost Glen Drover and Bobby Blotzer (they only participated in live shows before splitting)!
Okay, enough nitpicking. It’s the music that matters, right? Well, despite never really having any preference towards anything Queensryche and despite the fact that I agree Tate comes off like an arrogant jerk, this album is actually decent. I know Dedicated to Chaos tried to go some weird rock/pop/dance/whatever route and the band was properly trashed for doing so but Tate doesn’t go that route with the not-so-subtly titled Frequency Unknown (come on, it’s FU with a big fist coming at you on the cover… a message to Tate-haters and former band mates I’m sure). No, Frequency Unknown is a hard rock album with a modern sound. I’m okay with that. I think no matter what, Tate was going to lose. He’s getting bashed for sounding modern but if he tried to make an album with the classic Queensryche sound he would’ve gotten bashed for that as well. The closest he comes to his days of old is with “In the Hands of God” and “The Weight of the World”, I think.
“Cold” is a great modern sounding hard rock song. When it first became available, I wanted to be able to laugh at how bad it was and then continue on with my day, but it’s become one of my favorite songs of the year. I can’t stop playing it. Other songs like “Life Without You” and “Everything” remain highlights for me.
The only thing that truly weighs the album down are the four re-recording of a few Queensryche classics that are tacked on at the end. Tate has pointblank said he re-recorded them for the money because the label wanted these songs for licensing purposes. It’s only Tate and Martin Irigoyen on these songs. The sore spot here is Geoff’s voice. He sounds fine on the FU material, never going out of his weakening range but he just can’t hit the notes on these older songs. The music sounds fine to my casual Queensryche listening ears but I’ve read other reviews of die-hards picking apart Irigoyen’s musicianship. The production definitely lacking on these four songs.
Overall, Frequency Unknown had the recipe for a true disaster but Tate and his army of musicians pulled through and delivered a solid modern hard rock album. Just don’t expect much from the re-recordings.
Highlights: “Cold”, “Give It to You”, “In the Hands of God”, “Life Without You”, “Everything”, “The Weight of the World”
Skid Row – United World Rebellion: Chapter One
2013, Megaforce Records
1. Kings of Demolition
2. Let’s Go
3. This Is Killing Me
4. Get Up
Johnny Solinger – Lead Vocals
Dave “Snake” Sabo – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Scotti Hill – Guitar
Rachel Bolan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rob Hammersmith – Drums
Producer: Dave “Snake” Sabo
Skid Row is one of the few name hair bands that hasn’t constantly been doing the tour/record/tour thing. Seems like they took a few years off even from touring, for some reason. I was starting to think that maybe there would never any new music from them since their first two albums with Johnny Solinger didn’t receive the highest of praise. I’ve always felt Sebastian Bach’s voice was what truly made the band special anyway. Yeah, they’ve written some great songs but other than Slave to the Grind, I don’t think they’ve ever written an entirely great album.
Still, when I read that Skid Row were going to release some new music (the plan is multiple EPs over the next year and a half or so), I had a good feeling about the album. I think the band is aware that people were not entirely enthusiastic with the previous Solinger albums and I felt they would proceed with that in mind. I actually think the cover for this EP is very striking as well and somehow (even though you shouldn’t judge an album by its cover) it gave me further hope.
Skid Row was always one of the darker and heavier hair bands (they eventually made the complete transfer from hair metal band to heavy metal band) and things are no different on United World Rebellion: Chapter One. This is solid 1980s sounding heavy metal full or anger and pessimism (as if you couldn’t tell by the EP’s title or cover art).
The only song that really doesn’t work for me is the ballad called “This Is Killing Me”. It’s a very simple, no-frills, lifeless ballad. Quite frankly, it sounds like something that Bret Michaels would write and record. The other four tracks are songs that I think fans of Slave to the Grind and Subhuman Race can appreciate. I’ve read comments elsewhere of someone complaining that this EP is trying too hard to sound modern. I don’t get that at all. Sound likes good late ’80s/early ’90s metal to me.
I’m very interested in hearing how the rest of the EPs are going to sound. I actually like this model of recording a lot. I’ve felt for awhile that older artists should mostly stick to releasing EPs and then compile them at a later date as a full album (as Skid Row plans on doing). I think too much time, effort and money goes into recording full albums for these bands who, let’s be honest, aren’t going to sell many albums in the first place. Slowly releasing EPs and then compiling them into an LP is a great way to keep your name out there and cut down on costs. Knock out five or six songs, go make some tour money during the summer, come back and knock out another five or six songs, repeat.
Highlights: “Kings of Demolition”, “Get Up”, “Stitches”
De La Cruz – Street Level
2013, Frontiers Recods
1. Street Level
2. Girls Go Wild
3. Turn It Up
4. Legions Of Love
5. Gimme Love
6. Cherry Bomb
9. Worlds Collide
11. Set The Night
Roxxi Catalano – Vocals
Casey Jones – Guitar
Rory Joy – Guitar
Grant Daniell – Bass
Lacey Lane – Drums
Producer: Casey Jones
There was much anticipation from me for this album. There was a lot of promise being shown on the band’s self-titled (and self-released) EP from 2011. It was the perfect mix of glam-metal and pop with a number of truly memorable songs.
With Street Level, the band seems to have gotten a bit sleazier and a bit heavier for a few numbers but you can still firmly place them in the realm of glam-metal. Unsurprisingly, I think their best moments are when they keep it more poppy & melodic or Def Leppard-y (if you will) with songs such as “Gimme Love”, “Dreaming” and “Worlds Collide”. These are the songs that would’ve sounded just fine on the band’s self-titled EP. That’s not to say these guys don’t know how to rock though. “Street Level”, “Girls Go Wild”, “Cherry Bomb” and “S.E.X” are fine examples of hard-hitting sleaze metal.
While the production and musicianship is still top-notch, the album doesn’t entirely live up to the promise that their incredibly catchy EP showed. It’s a catchy album, hooks a’plenty, but even the best songs here aren’t quite on level with “Lust Fame Money”, “Back To The ’80s”, “Good As It Gets” or “Fire Inside” (“Invincible” is a re-working of this song though). Still, Street Level is a very fun collection of glam & sleaze that’s sure to please fans of Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Steel Panther, Crashdiet, Reckless Love and Crazy Lixx.
Highlights: “Street Level”, “Girls Go Wild”, “Gimme Love”, “Cherry Bomb”, “Dreaming”, “Worlds Collide”, “S.E.X.”
Transformers: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack [20th Anniversary Special Edition]
2007, Volcano Entertainment
(Original Release: 1987, Scotti Brothers Records)
1. “The Touch” (Stan Bush)
2. “Instruments Of Destruction” (N.R.G.)
3. “Death Of Optimus Prime” (Vince DiCola)
4. “Dare” (Stan Bush)
5. “Nothin’s Gonna Stand In Our Way” (Spectre General)
6. “The Transformers Theme” (Lion)
7. “Escape” (Vince DiCola)
8. “Hunger” (Spectre General)
9. “Autobot/Decepticon Battle” (Vince DiCola)
10. “Dare To Be Stupid” (“Weird Al” Yankovic)
11. “Unicron Medley” (Vince DiCola)
12. “Moon Base 2 – Shuttle Launch” (Vince DiCola)
13. “Megatron Must Be Stopped (Parts 1 & 2)” (Vince DiCola)
14. “The Transformers Theme [Alternate Version]” (Stan Bush)
I was a big Transformers fan back in the 1980s. In some respects, I still am, it’s just that I think the Michael Bay movies are terrible so I gave up on that film series after the second movie. 1986′s Transformers: The Movie still remains the best TF movie yet, IMO. Even if they pretty much killed off the entire classic roster of Autobots and replaced them within the span of 90 minutes or so. For my further thoughts on that controversial movie, check out the review I posted at my other blog. Just like the movie, the soundtrack is a big dumb mess (in a good way). It’s a mix of melodic rock, hair metal, instrumentals and Weird Al.
Stan Bush’s “The Touch” and “Dare” have always received high praise from AOR fans but I’ve struggled for years to understand how their connection with this movie was appropriate. Even as a kid when watching the movie, I didn’t really see what “The Touch” had to do with a battle scene. Weird Al Yankovic’s “Dare to Be Stupid” seems even less appropriate during a Autobot/Decepticon battle unless it’s meant to be some kind of commentary on how senseless violence is (I highly doubt this is the case though). On their own, these three songs are actually not bad. They just don’t seem appropriate for the scenes which they were used in during the film.
Now, onto the really good stuff. Kicking things off with a harder edge than Stan Bush could is NRG’s “Instruments of Destruction”. Great ’80s metal track. I love it. Though a legit band, this song seems to be their one moment of glory in the music world. Shame. Then we have two tracks from Spectre General: “Nothin’s Gonna Stand In Our Way” and “Hunger” (which later covered by King Kobra). Spectre General is actually Kick Axe but for legal reasons (I don’t know the details) they recorded as Spectre General for this soundtrack.
And then we have the best track on the entire album and I’m not kidding when I say it’s one of my favorite songs of all-time… “The Transformers Theme” by Lion! Lion was a glam metal act that is also best known for their participation on this but they are also known for having been one of the earliest bands for guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake/Dio/Burning Rain). The song is played during the opening credits and it’s a great way to kick off the movie. It’s a glammed up heavy metal version of the Transformers theme.
The rest of the tracks are very ’80s sounding electronic rock instrumentals that were heard in the movie and were composed by Vince DiCola. Most, if not all, of these instrumentals would go on to be used as background music during seasons three & four of the Transformers cartoon. Tracks 11-14 are exclusive to the anniversary edition of this album. Tracks 11, 12 & 13 are supposedly brand new scores (according to Wikipedia) but I’m pretty sure they can be heard in the movie. Track 14 is an alternate take of “The Transformers Theme” featuring Stan Bush. I really can’t stress enough how good DiCola’s score is. It ranges from upbeat and energetic to somber and haunting to foreboding.
Weird Al and Stan Bush still seem a bit out of place to me but the rest of the album is a great ’80s mix of metal and electronic rock. This is a fun soundtrack that really takes me back to my childhood and also brings back images of the movie itself. One of my all-time favorite soundtracks.
Bon Jovi – What About Now [Deluxe Edtion]
2013, Island Records
1. “Because We Can”
2. “I’m With You”
3. “What About Now”
4. “Pictures of You”
6. “That’s What the Water Made Me”
7. “What’s Left of Me”
8. “Army of One”
9. “Thick as Thieves”
10. “Beautiful World”
11. “Room at the End of the World”
12. “The Fighter”
13. “With These Two Hands”
14. “Into the Echo”
15. “Not Running Anymore”
Jon Bon Jovi – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Richie Sambora – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Hugh McDonald – Bass, backing Vocals
Tico Torres – Drums
David Bryan – Keyboards, Backing vocals
Producer: John Shanks, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora
So after Greatest Hits came out in 2010 with four new tracks, I had high hopes for a new Bon Jovi studio album. Yes, I know those new tracks still represented and sounded like the “mature” and less-rocked out Bon Jovi we’ve known for the last 10 years or so, but I still liked them a lot. I guess it’s sign I’m getting older myself. Cut to the release of this album’s first single, “Because We Can”. It didn’t knock me out but I thought, “okay, this is decent”. Cut to samples of this album on Amazon.com and it sounded like such a downer and slow moving album. Granted, I was only hearing about 30 seconds of each song but my anticipating wasn’t as great anymore.
Cut to now..? I’m LOVING What About Now. It took about 3 spins before it all started to click with me. Again, this album is really no different than Have A Nice Day, Lost Highway or The Circle. It’s all within that same realm of “hey, look at us, we write thoughtful songs with social commentary and have no interest in playing hard rock anymore, so take us seriously”. But the difference here is that Bon Jovi’s need to be on the level with U2, Coldplay and (still) Bruce Springsteen is actually working for me this time.
The band is still writing anthems that the older and presumably more mature Bon Jovi demographic can enjoy (“Because We Can”, “What About Now”, “Army of One”) while still catering to the fans they gained with surprising success of the country/acoustic-tinged Lost Highway (“What’s Left of Me”, “The Fighter”). There’s also a number of mellow moments and ballads on the album. Perhaps too many but it doesn’t change the quality of the songs themselves. “Because We Can” is probably the most upbeat song on the album and I find myself wishing there were more bombastic moments like that. It’s a great way to open the album but the energy is downhill after that.
Despite the shift in style & attitude over the last decade, Bon Jovi has always offered up at least one classic sounding Bon Jovi ballad per album. I think “Thick As Thieves” is supposed to that one song on this release and while it’s a good song, it seems to fall short just a bit of what I think they were aiming for (perhaps they should’ve enlisted the aid of Desmond Child for that one).
Speaking of songwriting credits, Richie Sambora only has four credits on the standard version of the album. I won’t get too much up in arms about it because I do like the album but I think it’s a bit sad that Jon has relegated Richie (and everyone else in the band) to the status of basically being employees instead of band-mates. In this day and age, you play and write what Jon tells you to, I guess.
The bonus tracks are really good on this deluxe edition. “With These Two Hands” is another inspirational anthem, “Into the Echo” puts the band back into their thoughtful mood and “Not Running Anymore” is a somber Jon Bon Jovi song that he wrote and played solo for the movie Stand Up Guys that’s sure to please Lost Highway/Blaze of Glory fans.
While the band’s shift from hard rock & pop-metal to an adult contemporary act has been painful, with What About Now I think they’ve made the transformation a success. Is this a classic album or even what I want to hear from Bon Jovi? No, but it’s still a very good release and easily the best thing they’ve done since 2002′s Bounce.
Highlights: “Because We Can”, “I’m With You”, “Pictures of You”, “Amen”, “What About Now”, “Thick As Thieves”, “The Fighter”, “Into the Echo”, “Not Running Anymore”
Buckcherry – Confessions [Deluxe Edition]
2013, Century Media Records
Disc 1 – CD:
3. “Nothing Left But Tears”
4. “The Truth”
7. “Seven Ways To Die”
13. “Dreamin’ of You”
14. “Give ‘Em What They Want”
15. “When the Fire Starts”
Disc 2 – DVD:
1. “The Story Behind “Confessions”"
2. “Gluttony” (Official Music Video)
3. “On the Set: Gluttony Video Shoot”
4. “Gluttony” (Official Lyric Video)
Josh Todd – Lead Vocals
Keith Nelson – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Stevie D. – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jimmy Ashhurst – Bass
Xavier Muriel – Drums, Percussion
Jimmy Nichols – Keyboards
Producer: Keith Nelson & Marti Frederiksen
I find it hilarious that a bunch of heavy metal knuckle-heads are up in arms that Century Media had the audacity to sign Buckcherry and release one of their albums. The truth is Eleven Seven Music has licensed out the North American rights for Confessions to Century Media. Regardless, I’ve seen the ignorant comments on Facebook, YouTube and various metal sites claiming that Century Media is a label for “true metal” (whatever that is) and that Buckcherry are nothing more than “hair metal posers” that “suck” and that they don’t deserve to be associated with a metal label such as Century Media.
Well, maybe Century Media wants to expand their musical horizons beyond the likes of Finntroll, Necrowretch and Vattnet Viskar? If you don’t like Buckcherry, don’t listen to them! Simple as that. You’ll certainly never see me buying a Winds of Plague album.
Label controversy aside, when I heard Buckcherry was planning on releasing a concept album, I was a bit skeptical. I’m a huge fan of all of the band’s albums but I DON’T like concept albums at all. Plus, Buckcherry isn’t really the type of band you’d think would ever release a concept album. I suppose Confessions is really more of a theme album though. The theme? The seven deadly sins. “Okay, cool,” I thought to myself, “I can see a band like Buckcherry making that work”.
But Confessions doesn’t just “work”. It excels. The lead single “Gluttony” is 100% Buckcherry. It’s what you expect from the band. Bratty, sleazy and in-your-face. It’s an anthem. The rest of the album takes a slightly different tone. The lyrics are darker (written by Josh Todd, they are autobiographical) and the music is bit more serious. I’ve seen a number of other reviews state that the band has traded riffs for melodies and while I hope there’s a balance to be struck on future albums, I had to agree in reference to Confessions.
Songs like “Pride” (my favorite song from this album) and “Envy” (which should be released as a single at some point) are fine examples of the band imploring melodies instead of great riffing. Still, songs like “Gluttony”, “Wrath”, “Seven Ways to Die” and “Lust” supply the guitar goods.
When I first listened to the album nothing other than “Gluttony” struck me as a Buckcherry song. Listening to it now, the whole album has grown on me. I love it. It’s going to be tough to beat this as the best album of 2013 but it is a bit different than anything the band has done before. I mean that in a good way though. There aren’t really a lot of singles here. While the songs are definitely appealing, none of them seem like they were written with commercial appeal in mind. This is an ALBUM that needs to be listened through again and again.
The deluxe CD edition comes with a bonus DVD but I mostly bought it for the two additional bonus tracks that come with the CD. “Give ‘Em What They Want” and “When The Fire Starts” are both great riff rockers much more in the typical Buckcherry vein. I can see why they didn’t make it to the main album, not because they aren’t good but because they don’t fit in with the sound of Confessions. For a few bucks more and two awesome songs, the deluxe edition is well worth seeking out.
No matter the format, Buckcherry has delivered what might be their best & most consistent album to date. This isn’t a party album like their previous releases have been but it’s still a great rock record by one of the best rock bands going today.
Highlights: ALL OF IT
Great White – 30 Years: Live from the Sunset Strip
2013, Frontiers Records
1. Desert Moon
2. Lady Red Light
3. Face The Day
4. House Of Broken Love
5. Save Your Love
6. Mista Bone
7. The Big Goodbye
8. Back To The Rhythm
9. Rock Me
10. Can’t Shake It
11. Once Bitten Twice Shy
Terry Ilous – Vocals
Mark Kendall – Guitar
Michael Lardie – Guitar, Keyboards
Scott Snyder – Bass
Audie Desbrow – Drums
Producer: Great White
Recorded at L.A.’s legendary Key Club on March 22, 2012, this is the band’s fourth, fifth or sixth live album..? Who knows! Hey, I can’t keep up with all of their live releases because a number of them have been repackaged & re-titled over the years. I do know that this is Great White’s first live offering featuring former XYZ singer Terry Ilous as the frontman.
This is basically a live greatest hits. Though I’m a little surprised that they included “Back to the Rhythm” from 2007′s Back to the Rhythm album but didn’t include anything from 2009′s Rising. I would’ve assumed that they would have focused on their ’80s/early ’90s material entirely anyway. The absence of Elation material is somewhat understandable because that album wasn’t released until May 2012.
Although Jack Russell was much missed on Elation, I think Terry does a great job handling some of the band’s classics in a live setting. I still pick up that Jack Russell/Steven Tyler vibe from his vocals and while Jack Russell will always be THE voice of Great White, I can’t knock Terry Ilous’ abilities at all. With the departure of Jack Russell, I think Terry was a great choice for lead singer and 30 Years: Live from the Sunset Strip further proves it.
The production on this album isn’t great but it’s fine considering the budget probably was pretty tight. I’ve heard a lot worse. The crowd seems a bit low-key at times but I guess you can chalk that up to the production and the fact that it’s a club audience.
And say what you will about Terry Ilous, the band is on fire. Sometimes you hear a band live and they don’t come close to replicating the work they did in the studio but Great White is a real band that cut their teeth playing dives & bars in the early years. They’ve got the chops to back up what they put on tape.
Although I’m generally not a fan of live albums, 30 Years is a good snapshot of the Terry Ilous-front Great White.
2013, Frontiers Records
1. My Angel
2. Accident Prone
3. To The Rescue
4. Falling Leaves
5. A Little Rock & Roll
6. Turn Of The Screw
7. Smoking Gun
8. Stand Up
9. Guilty As Charged
10. Nothing To Lose
11. Cover Me In You
Chris Ousey – Lead Vocals
Micky Moody – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Laurie Wisefield – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Neil Murray – Bass
Harry James – Drums, Backing Vocals
Adam Wakeman – Keyboards, Vocals
Produced by: Snakecharmer
Snakecharmer is next in the line in a number of groups that have been put together by small number of former members of Whitesnake. First there was The Snakes, which was started up by former Whitesnake guitarists Bernie Marsden & Micky Moody. Then that became The Company of Snakes featuring Marsden and Moody with the addition of former ‘snake bassist Neil Murray. Then that became known as M3. Now, Moody & Murray have started up Snakecharmer with other notable musicians such as Monroe/Heartland vocalist Chris Ousey, Wishbone Ash guitarist Laurie Wisefield, Magnum/Thunder drummer Harry James and current Ozzy/Black Sabbath keyboardist Adam Wakeman (son of Rick Wakeman).
Given all of the names involved, Snakecharmer is what you’d expect: melodic & bluesy classic rock. If you enjoyed what Marsden, Moody and/or Murray were doing in their previous Whitesnake-inspired bands, you’ll like Snakecharmer. That said, Chris Ousey (as good as he is) is no David Coverdale. A number of tracks definitely sound like early Whitesnake though. “A Little Rock and Roll” and “To The Rescue” are shining examples of songs that could’ve been recorded by that band’s earliest line-up. Another standout is “Stand Up”, which kind of reminds me of something Rainbow would’ve done during their more commercial years.
Snakecharmer is a solid album full of professionals who have faithfully been playing in this style for decades. Though it openly draws comparison to them, this album is not on the same level with Whitesnake earliest releases. What it is is an enjoyable release and fine stand-in for anyone who wishes Coverdale would take Whitesnake back to their earliest & simplest sound.
Highlights: ”My Angel”, “Accident Prone”, “Falling Leaves”, “A Little Rock and Roll”, “Stand Up”, “Nothing to Lose”
De La Cruz
1. Good As It Gets
2. Lust Fame Money
4. Back To The 80′s
5. Fire Inside
6. De La Cruz
Roxxi Catalano – Vocals
Casey Jones – Guitar
Rory Joy – Guitar
Grant Daniell – Bass
Lacey Lane – Drums
Produced by: Casey Jones
De La Cruz describe themselves as an “80′s influenced, riff-powered Arena Rock band from the Gold Coast, Australia!!” I can’t argue with that. With obvious influences like Def Leppard, KISS, Motley Crue and Van Halen, the band’s self-released EP is insanely good.
Released as a free download through the band’s Facebook, this self-titled EP has very strong production values and each song is so catchy. Like their influences, De La Cruz knows how to effortlessly blend hard rock with pop hooks. These guys are right up there with Reckless Love and Steel Panther as one of the best modern pop-metal acts around right now. “Lust Fame Money” is a pop-metal masterpiece.
Now that the band is signed to Frontiers Records (the perfect home for them as far as I’m concerned), I’m very anxious to hear what the band has come up with.
Highlights: “Good As It Gets”, “Lust Fame Money”, “Back To The 80′s”, “Fire Inside”