Jean Beauvoir – ‘Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1’ Review

Jean Beauvoir – Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1
AOR HEAVEN is currently gearing up to release the first of two retrospective albums highlighting the music of Jean Beauvoir beginning in the summer of 2018. Jean Beauvoir: Rock Masterpieces Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 feature songs from his solo career including his International multi-platinum debut “Drums Along the Mohawk” album, from his band Crown Of Thorns, his band Voodoo X, which also made music and video history, some fan favorites and a couple of unreleased singles which are a part of several soon to be released projects. AOR HEAVEN will begin releasing his follow up album Jean Beauvoir” Rock Masterpieces Vol. 2 by the end of 2018, beginning of 2019. The songs on both albums will be remastered. 

Beauvoir is also working with best selling British author Simon Cox (Cracking The Da Vinci Code) on a new book which will capture his storied career in music and entertainment. The iconic Blonde Mohawk of Jean Beauvoir has been an ongoing major influence on US and International pop culture in music, sports, film and TV; including several cartoons; influences that are still being seen and heard today. As a member of the Plasmatics, the most outrageous, controversial, successful Punk band ever and a longtime songwriter and producer for the Ramones, hailed as the greatest Punk band in the world, Jean Beauvoir is forever linked to two of the most revolutionary bands of the twentieth century. He was a member of the Plasmatics during their most successful and revolutionary time in music and is the only member of the Plasmatics who went onto a successful solo, production and writing career with over 40-million records sold to date and featured on over 240 albums.

Music from his solo debut album ‘Drums Along the Mohawk’ was hand picked by Sylvester Stallone for the film Cobra which led to Beauvoir making a deal with Al Teller (President of Paramount Pictures). Through working closely with Branson, Stallone and Teller, Cobra received the highest advertising budget for a Hollywood film to date at the time featuring the single “Feel the Heat” as its title track. 
Thank heavens for ‘No Limits’, a BBC show from one of the major importers of melodic rock/AOR, Jonathan King. This show was better than a lot of TV shows at the time (the UK had yet to receive the mecca of all music, MTV) so we got our hits in small doses through Top Of The Pops, ECT, and The Tube. King was ahead of the curve, introducing me as a 17-19 year old to bands such as Guiffria, Warrior, (Patti Smyth), and songs we would never have heard of from the likes of Lou Gramm, Sammy Hagar, Y&T, and Jean Beauvoir. This was my first interaction for his single ‘Feel The Heat’. I thought it was fantastic, a song that went against my rock upbringing on bands like Rainbow, Rush and Whitesnake to name just three. The guy had a huge mowhawk, a great voice, and in FTH a huge chorus. I was in for the long run. Also from ‘Drums…’ is the very pop-y ‘Missing The Young Days’ and shows how diverse he was back in the 80s.
Thanks to grunge and music at that time having little to excite me in the way of music, bands like Crown Of Thorn’s passed me by until I heard ‘Hike It Up’ at a rock disco in Wigan. Yes, Wigan! I turned to my esteemed colleague to ask who it was. Once explained I picked up the phone (internet was still shite) and snapped up their debut about 3 yrs after it was released. It was that good, it filled a gap that had been missing. It was superb.
If this were my choice, this whole CoT debut album should have been on Vol 1, as it as strong from start to finish. ‘Hike it Up’ is a killer of a track, like Kiss on steroids. ‘Crown Of Thorns’, ‘Dying For Love’, ‘Secret Jesus’ are all big, anthemic numbers where Beauvoir’s vocals are huge. The bloke is on fire.
There’s a few songs that are new to me – ‘Heartbeat’, has a sprawling guitar riff, that intertwines with his vocals, and whilst not one of the best songs on offer here, it’s a decent enough track. ‘The Awakening’ (Voodoo X) is a nice ballad in the first instance, before grabbing you by the ears and making you sit up and take notice with its up tempo Whitesnake Still Of The Night vibe.  It’s bloody excellent. ‘Voodoo Queen’ is one of those huge songs I’d wait for at the end of a film in the 80s playing over the credits. If it wasn’t on a soundtrack, why wasn’t it?!!. ‘Rock Ready’ and ‘Faith’ in particular shows that Beauvoir still had the knack of penning a good song or three. ‘The One’ isn’t one that I’d pick as it’s a filler when compared the strengths of everything around it here. Finally it’s onto ‘Standing On The Corner For Ya’, and is the stripped back version c/w gospel choir backing, and its given a new lease of life. Both the original and this show how many of his songs are great with full electric backing or stripped back.
Its fitting that most of CoT debut make the cut here. I’d still be looking to find room for ‘Winterland’ in Vol 2, as its my all time fave CoT track. There’s a gap from albums ‘Destiny Unknown’ and ‘Karma’. I hope this doesn’t mean that some of these will be missed from Vol 2. The also excellent ‘Lost Cathedral’ album hardly gets a mention.
The PR info states “Today, Jean Beauvoir is also recognized as “One of the Most Influential Black Rockers of All Time”. In my eyes it should read ‘Influential Black People of All Time” Period.
This is essential for anyone that like their music with a huge slab of riffage and big anthemic, melodic choruses. If you are not fully au fait with this output (like me) then this is an essential purchase of one of rocks true icons.
Roll on Volume 2!
Review by Chesy
SCORE – 8/10
Crown Of Thorns
Dying For Love
Feel The Heat
The Awakening
Missing The Young Days
Hike It Up
Secret Jesus
Rock ready
The One
Voodoo Queen
Standing On The Corner For Ya

Hi-speed life – EP

Hi-speed life – EP
Introducing Hi Speed Life. These guys are a huge hit in their hometown of Adelaide, Australia and are currently preparing to release their next release later in the year working with local producer extraordinaire Darren Mullan of Adelaide Recording Studio’s, the man behind the mighty Jac Dalton sound amongst others.
Peter Eime on base, Paul Kennedy on lead guitar, Dom Furina on drums and Danny Gates on vocals, make up Adelaide band Hi Speed Life. Hi Speed Life take pride in producing an original sound of rock.
Listening this new Australian group, it’s clear these recordings are demo versions but they give you enough indication as to what to expect if these guys eventually release an official album.
On first listening, I’m not 100% impressed. ‘Every Day’ & ‘Fake It’ pass by without any attempt at pricking my ears up that are waiting for that thundering chorus to kick in. These tunes just roll by unnoticed as nothing seems to really happen in them.
‘If You Wanna Fight’ is no different but then things change when ‘Rocket Man’ kicks in. This is very brit-rock style stuff and a breath of fresh air compared to what I’ve heard so far, with it’s The Kinks  ‘You Really Go Me’ style riff.
‘Take Me Down’, although holds some nice riffs in the verses, just doesn’t pack a punch when it comes to the chorus, but does kick into a great solo, which, for me, saves the song. The whole EP, taking into account that this is a demo version doesn’t sit right with me. This band does not in my opinion deserve a recording contract. It’s basic rock n roll. Nothing magical, different, or catchy enough to allow your ears to part company with whatever they are doing at the time and start listening to what’s in front of them.
And then ‘Rangatang’ kicks in. It starts with a lovely bass riff, which is then picked up by the guitars and slides into the verse. This is more like it. It has a hint of Smashing Pumpkins to it and is by far the best song on the EP so far. My ears have finally pricked up!!
‘Breathe Now’ is another good effort and it’s riff reminds me of Ross The Boss ‘By Blood Sworn’. ‘Make It Right’ is another great tune. Seems these guys have saved the best tunes to the 2ndhalf of the EP!! We conclude with ‘Same Old Thing’ which has lots of similarities to their fellow countrymen AC/DC, but on a lower scale, but not a bad rock n roll tune.
Overall, I’m not sure these guys would be a hit over these shores. They would need to come up with more tunes like ‘Rangatang’ and ‘Breathe Now’ in order to win our hearts.
Reviewed by Sty
Rating 5/10
Hi Speed Life are:-
Paul Kennedy —Guitars
Danny Gates —Vocals
Dom Furnia —Drums
Peter Eime —Bass

Hogjaw – ‘Way Down Yonder’ Album Review

Hogjaw – Way Down Yonder
Hogjaw hail from the deserts of Arizona, and are no strangers to European shores. Last year they played 40 plus headline shows supporting the release of their new album, ‘Way Down Yonder’, recently released by Snakefarm Records.
‘WDW’ is album number six, and I’m sorry to say I’ve not heard of them before now. If you are like me, and not a hardened fan, but a complete newcomer, here’s a quick low down on Hogjaw. I spent all of my teenage years in the 1980’s, and listened (still do) to the main players at that time – Lynyrd Skynyrd, Blackfoot being a staple diet, alongside an entrée of Molly Hatchet and .38 Special.  If any of these 4 bands make you all nostalgic for the 70s and 80s, then please, please look no further than these guys, as they epitomize all that is good and was great about American Southern rock. Hogjaw wear their music on their sleeve (literally) – its creepy swamp water and is as Southern as moonshine. In fact, I’m guessing its what they had in their bottles as babies.
I have no point of reference with their previous output, just my 1980s upbringing. With opening song ‘Back Home Today’ one thing strikes me immediately, and that’s how good Jonboat Jones is (great forename, dude!). He reminds me of Darius Rucker of 90s band Hootie & The Blowfish. There’s also a running riff that very similar to Queen Of The Stoneage’s ‘No One Knows’. We’re  off to a good start.
There’s some song titles that could only come from a Southern Rock band – ‘Brown Water’, (I’m scared too to read the lyric sheet), ‘North Carolina Way’, ‘Talk About Fishin’’ and the un-mistakeable ‘Got A Pencil’.
‘To Hell With The Rest’ melds Skynyrd with ZZ Top with some pretty decent guitar playing, and Jones’ melody shining through. “Brown Water’ thankfully isn’t a song about the shits, its whisky, thankfully. It’s a faster paced rocker with plenty of energy. ‘North Carolina Way’ is 100% proof pure Lynyrd Skynyrd, with JJ sounding a lot like Van Zandt, with its relaxed verse, before unleashing a powerful chorus.  Title track, ‘Way Down Yonder’’s’ riff, is almost a toned back version of Rainbows Sixteenth Century Greensleeves (more to follow…). It has smokin’ and smoulderin’ guitar work, coupled with decent harmonies, and even some a capella with added handclaps for added effect. Its the best song on WDY by a country mile – its their Stargazer (Hint. Or is it?).
‘Dark Horse’ is a slow down, a chance to take stock and catch your breath, with its darker lyrical content. ‘I take back (almost) what I said about the title track, ‘Redemption’ is the best track on the album. It’s a sprawling, moody beast of a number. Like any good song its based around a great guitar sound, harmonies, and an anthemic like chorus. Played live, this will probably be a 15 minute opus! ‘Got A Pencil’ goes back to its Southern roots, slide guitar, machine gun drumming (like Brian Downey), and when combined, takes the song up a level or two. ‘Never Surrender’ has its riff come right out of the blocks at ya. It has more of a spoken word vocal for the verse, and shows that Hogjaw do not follow trends and do things their own way.
Tracks 1-9 are pretty much southern rock staples, until track ten. ‘Beast Of Burden (Roll On)’ made me do a double take at my computer as I thought I’d skipped a track or two. The riff for this almost note for note ‘Stargazer’ with new lyrics, make no bones about it. You could call it plagiarism, I prefer to call it a tribute to obviously one of their favourite bands. If they love it as much as I do, then good on ya. Try and get past the riff and it’s a good enough song. Finally its onto the last track ‘Talk About Fishin’’ which is bluegrass/country and like Star-Burden is far removed from the rest of the songs.
Despite know having a Scooby Doo about Hogjaw, it’s been a very pleasant surprise in hearing them six albums in. That said, I’ll be checking out my digital supplier of streamed music to check out their back catalogue, and if you’re a fan of any of the bands I discussed at the top of this review, then you should to.
Catch them on tour in the UK in October
Score 7/10
Back Home Today
To Hell With The Rest
Brown Water
North Carolina Way
Way Down Yonder
Dark Horse
Got A Pencil
Never Surrender
Beast Of Burden (Roll On)
Talk About Fishin’
Hogjaw are
Jonboat Jones – Vocals & Guitar
Jimmy Rose – Lead Guitar
Elvis DD – Bass
Kwall – Drums

Amanda Somerville’s TRILLIUM – "Tectonic" Album Review

Review by – Hollywoodvampyre

Amanda Somerville is an American singer-songwriter best known for her collaborations with various European metal bands such as Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot, and After Forever. Since the late 90’s Amanda has worked mainly in Germany and the Netherlands. With a vocal range from tenor to soprano and stylistically diverse, Amanda s solo career has mostly comprised of pop/soft rock and hard rock but has experience over a wide selection of musical influences. In 2011 Amanda became the lead vocalist of the band Trillium who released their debut ‘Alloy’.
After a seven year gap Amanda is ready to grace us with Trillium’s sophomore album ‘Tectonic’.
‘Tectonic’ is a worthy follow up to 2011’s ‘Alloy’ and it’s a very good album. In my opinion  there isn’t actually a weak track on this album in fact the majority of the compositions are sublime.
Vocally Amanda has a phenomenal range and it doesn’t matter whether she’s singing gentle ballads, belting out  hard rock or soaring opera she changes between styles flawlessly. Instrumentally the band are on top form, symphonic keyboards, thunderous percussion and riffs that will make your toes curl with pleasure and when you put them all together you will experience multiple eargasms.
However despite all that praise there is a BUT and I think the majority of people will know what that is, whilst ‘Tectonic’ is an excellent album it’s nothing new there are simply far too many bands out there that sound the same. Trillium may not be breaking any boundaries but they are making excellent music and are keeping good company with bands such as Nightwish, Epica, Leaves Eyes, Within Temptation and Delain.
It’s such a shame that there is nothing unique about this album as that would have made it possible for me to give it a 10/10 score unfortunately because there isn’t I’m awarding it a measly 9/10
1. Time To Shine
2. Stand Up
3. Full Speed Ahead
4. Hit Me
5. Fighting Fate
6. Nocturna
7. Fatal Mistake
8. Shards
9. Cliché Freak Show
10. Eternal Spring
Produced by Amanda Somerville & Sander Gommans
Amanda Somerville – vocals
Sander Gommans – guitars & bass
Erik Van Ittersum – keyboards
Andre Borgman – drums
Except on:
“Full Speed Ahead”: bass by Mark Burnash, 2nd guitar solo by Paul Owsinski 

Saxon – Deluxe Reissues




25th MAY 2018 Saxon, over the decades have gone from being pioneers of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, to becoming one of the most successful UK rock acts of all time. The truth, though, is that Saxon have always transcended trends and eras. From 1979’s ‘Saxon’ album to new album ‘Thunderbolt’, the band have enjoyed considerable success. Five Top 40 albums in the UK, with four Top 20 singles. And they were similarly successful in other parts of the world as well. It’s no wonder their influence spread across the globe, and played a crucial role in the way we look at hard rock and heavy metal today. 

Saxon’s fourth album, Denim And Leather was originally released on 5th October 1981. It was recorded at Aquarius Studios in Geneva. Arguably their most successful record to date it spawned the classic singles ‘Princess Of The Night’, ‘Never Surrender’ and the song ‘And The Band’s Played On’, which was inspired by their appearance at the inaugural Monsters Of Rock festival in 1980. This edition contains the B Sides of the ‘Never Surrender’ single and seven live tracks recorded on the Denim And Leather tour of 1981.


1. Princess Of The Night

2. Never Surrender

3. Out Of Control

4. Rough And Ready

5. Play It Loud

6. And The Bands Played On

7. Midnight Rider

8. Fire In The Sky

9. Denim And Leather

CD Bonus Tracks

10. 20,000Ft (Remix)

11. Bap Shoo Ap (Live At Donington)

12. Intro / And The Bands Played On (Live)

13. Princess Of The Night (Live At The Rainbow ’81)

14. Midnight Rider (Live At Hammersmith ’81)

15. Never Surrender (Live At Hammersmith ’81)

16. Machine Gun (Live At Hammersmith ’81)

17. Play It Loud (Live At Hammersmith ’81


Saxon’s fifth album, Power And The Glory was originally released on 21st March 1983 and was produced by Jeff Glixman at Axis Sound Studios in Atlanta. The album spawned two singles, ‘Nightmare’ and the title track, ‘Power And The Glory’ and also marked the replacement of drummer Pete Gill with Nigel Glockler, who remains a member of Saxon to this day. This version includes early working demos of songs from the album, recorded in 1982. Including tracks that didn’t make the final track listing


1. 1. Power And The Glory

2. Redline

3. Warrior

4. Nightmare

5. This Town Rocks

6. Watching The Sky

7. Midas Touch

8. The Eagle Has Landed

CD Bonus Tracks

9. Make Em Rock

10. Turn Out The Lights

11. Turn Out The Lights (Demo ’82)

12. Stand Up And Rock (Demo ’82)

13. Power And The Glory (Demo ’82)

14. Saturday Night (Demo ’82)

15. Midas Touch (Demo ’82)

16. Nightmare (Demo ’82)

17. Redline (Demo ’82)

Originally released on 16th April 1984, Saxon’s sixth album was produced by Kevin Beamish at the legendary Sound City Studios, in Los Angeles. It featured the band’s first recorded cover song, a version of the Sweet’s ‘Set Me Free’ and the singles’ Sailing To America’, ‘Just Let me Rock’ and ‘Do It All For You’. This version includes early working versions of some of the songs featured on the album and also the songs ‘Borderline’ and ‘Helter Skelter’ that didn’t make the final track listing of Crusader.


1. The Crusader Prelude

2. Crusader

3. A Little Bit Of What You Fancy

4. Sailing To America

5. Set Me Free

6. Just Let Me Rock

7. Bad Boys (Life To Rock N’Roll)

8. Do It All For You

9. Rock City

10. Run For Your Lives

CD Bonus Tracks

11. Borderline

12. Helter Skelter

13. Crusader

14. Do It All For You

15. A Little Bit Of What You Fancy

16. Sailing To America

17. Just Let Me Rock

18. Do It All For You (Intro) / Run For Your Lives

19. Living For The Weekend

Ghost – ‘Prequelle’ Album Review

Ghost – Prequelle
Fans have come along for the ride for years, not knowing for certain who was behind the anonymous band… that is, until Tobias Forge recently revealed himself as the man behind Ghost. Each album is more like a film release than a record release. In addition to serving as director, Forge conceives the role of every character, and oversees everything from the screenplay to video to wardrobe design to artwork to cinematography to soundtrack.
For a brief Ghost 101 – Papa Emeritus I was singer on the first album. Papa II on Infintessimum, and Papa III on Meliora. Papa Emeritus Nil or Zero is the father of Papa’s II and III. II & III are brothers born three months apart! Papa Nil is considered too old for fronting Ghost, so in comes Cardinal Copia, who is an apprentice who needs to learn from the master, with a view to becoming Papa Emeritus IV and is vocalist for Prequelle. Phew. Get it? Got it. Good. Then youre one step ahead of me.
Lyrically, Prequelle delves into the plague, the apocalypse, and dark ages. 
Now, back at the beginning I thought that Ghost were a gimmick band (Think Kiss, only in robes). I dismissed them at my peril. I would have closed the curtains had they been playing in my back yard (etc,.). Until last year…
I caught them on tour and was completely blown away, buying all the albums within days, and fully emersing myself in the history and unbelievable riffs, coupled with melodies to literally die for.
On to ‘Prequelle’, and just like old school, we get an intro based on the plague, with “Ashes’, or as we Brits call it, ‘Ring a ring ‘o roses’, before expanding into what becomes the unbelievably sing-a-long-a-tastic ‘Rats’. If anyone can make a poetic and infectious song about vermin, its Ghost. In fact, I cant tell the difference between Papa II and Copia. ‘Rats’ is based on 80s hair metal riffs, with the melody of J-pop! ‘Faith’ is old-metal neo classical riffage, with their trade mark chugging riff overlaid,  and is the heaviest song on the album with some great harmonies – propably the only song that references their past. It ends with a choral passage leading into ‘See The Light’ and is gonna be a big hit for Ghost. The verse and chorus are like ‘light and dark’, with a delicate piano, and powerful darkness of the chorus.
‘Miasma’ is a bit of a strange beast in todays World, an instrumental from a bygone age of the 70s and 80s when albums used to be full of the buggers. I always thought it was a lazy option, but in this instance, guitars, retro keyboard synth and even a saxaphone all come to play their part. ‘Dance Macabre’ is an old school rocker that would have blitzed the Billboard charts back in the day and is different to anything that Ghost have previously given us, its something like Abba could have written, and is absolutely massive. ‘Pro Memoria’ starts as if it were a soundtrack piece, or written for a musical not to dissimilar from Jeff Wayne, and is like a old 70s prog song full of storytelling. Different, but in a great way. ‘Witch Image’s’ opening riff is just like klassik Kiss, and is catchy as Hell, with the keyboard and guitar riff interplaying with the melodic verse and chorus to great effect.
When you think one instrumental is one too many, then we get a second one. ‘Helvetesfonster’ is part X-Files intro, part Jethro Tull, and Ayreon, which is folky, earthy and just feels as if there’s lyrics itching to reveal themselves, and for a 51 year old, brought up on shit like like this, is manna from Heaven. Its quickly onto the final song, ‘Life Eternal’ a more melancholic song for them proves to be a fitting end to this strange, different and beautiful album.
All the old elements are they from Ghosts past, but I think that this is an album that could get them even wider appeal as the songs of offer could, and should cross borders and open them up to a whole new audience. Its rock, metal, pop, prog, soundtrack and Broadway/West End musical running all they way through this album.

Ghost  have announced their fourth sacred psalm Prequelle (pronounced prē-KWELL) will be released on June 1, 2018 via Spinefarm/Loma Vista Recordings. Prequelleis available for pre-order. Limited edition bundles including 8-Tracks, Casettes and more are available exclusively in the Ghost shop
Score 9/10
Tracklisting –
See The Light
Dance Macabre
Pro Memoria
Witch Image
Life Eternal

Refuge – ‘Solitary Man’ Album Review

Refuge – Solitary Man

Peavy Wagner, Manni Schmidt & Christos Efthimiadis released five critically acclaimed albums as one of the most successful line-ups of the German metal band RAGE and have now reunited under the name REFUGE to carry on the sonic assault they started back in ’87. What started out as a “fun thing” in 2014 has turned into a real band again! Refuge’s debut album, ‘Solitary Men’ will see the light of day in summer 2018. It will be the first album of original material from this classic Rage line-up in 25 years and will surely satisfy fans who remember those now legendary albums!

My initial thoughts when this album starts is how far stuck in the late 80’s these guys are. There’s a really nice slow bit towards the end of ‘Summer’s Winter’ but that’s all that pulls me in so far.
‘The Man In The Ivory Tower’s’ opening riff gives me some hope but vocally, for me, something isn’t right, it doesn’t gel with the music. ‘Bleeding From Inside’ kicks in and that’s exactly how I feel listening to it. The opening riff is great but as soon as the lyrics kick in the song is destroyed. These guys are typical mid 80’s Megadeth / Iron Maiden style heavy rock and if you’re from that era it may be right up your street. I’m from that era and it isn’t, but I’ll continue to listen and give my fair opinion.
‘From The Ashes’ offers hope with it’s Dave Mustaine inspired opening which is great, but again doesn’t live up to expectations. ‘Living On The Edge Of Time’ is the best offering so far, with it’s ‘South of Heaven’ style intro. It is a very Helloween-style song.
As the album progresses its fair to say that fans of RAGE will love this. ‘We Owe A Life To A Death’ confirms what I’ve been thinking. I’m hearing, Maiden, Sacred Reich, Holy Terror. Nothing wrong with that, however, most 80’s bands have been able to drag themselves and their music into our current era. These guys haven’t and it’s a shame.
‘Let Me Go’ gives us a more rock’n’roll feel to the album but lyrically it just doesn’t work.
Overall this album will be a great addition for RAGE fans, but I can’t see it attracting any new fans. There just isn’t any song that stands out and shouts to a new audience. If you love RAGE buy it, if you’ve never heard RAGE………………Don’t.
Score 4/10
Reviewed by Sty
Track Listing
1 – Summer’s Winter
2 – The Man In The Ivory Tower
3 – Bleeding From Inside
4 – From The Ashes
5 – Living On The Edge Of Time
6 – We Owe A Life To Death
7 – Mind Over Matter
8 – Let Me Go
9 – Hell Freeze Over
10 – Waterfalls
11 – Another Kind Of Madness (Bonus Track)
Peavy Wagner –bass & vocals
Manni Schmidt – guitars
Christos Efthimiadis – drums

Kendell Marvel – ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’ Album Review

Kendell Marvel – Lowdown & Lonesome
What’s in a name? For me, I like the musicality of Ken-dell Mar-vell, with added inflection on the dell & vel. I’m probably wrong, but its a great name. Lowdown & Lonesome is KM’s debut album and is released through Snakefarm Records today, May 18th.
I’ve had a love of what Id call ‘true country’ right from the early 70s as a young child, where my mum and dad would watch what would become and annual country fest out of the Wembley Arena with the likes of Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Don Williams and George Hamilton IV. It was supposed to be a dead genre, but ran in the UK well into the 80s and in recent years has been resurrected. I’ve been a fan ever since. Enough of ‘lil ‘ol me, over to Kendell…
Says KM ‘I’m really looking forward to the release of my debut record. It was produced by Keith Gattis, and I refer to it as ZZ Top meets Merle Haggard’, and THAT is a damn good description of where to start. He has a pretty incredible back story – he moved from his native Illinois to Music City in 1998 intent on pursuing a music career. On his first day working in the city, he wrote ‘Right Where I need To Be’ – a huge Top 5 hit for country music singer Gary Allan. Putting his dreams of being an artiste on the back-burner, he continued to build his career and reputation, penning hits for and with famed artists such as George Strait, Jake Owen, Blake Shelton (U.S., The Voice), and Chris Stapleton. Now, some 20 years down the line, Marvel is thriving as a singer songwriter in his own right. He hosts his own monthly show in Nashville, and is one of the hottest tickets in town, thanks to a wide range of guest appearances from the like of Alison Krauss, Foo Fighters, The Black Crowes and Brothers Osbourne. You don’t get that kind of help and support if you’re not very good!
To be honest, if you are a fan of any of the aforementioned names, Nashville, Country Rock, and the likes of Johnny Cash, Chris Stapleton, Eric Church, Jason Aldean, Rayna James, Deacon Claybourne, and The Good ‘Ol Boys (I could keep going for some time), mixed with a great knack of story telling and instantly memorable songs then you need look no further than Kendell Marvell and ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’.
Its a mixed bag of songs that range from what I’d call ‘proper old school country’ to more mainstream country rock and all the above with a hint of blues. Opening track and title track ‘Lowdown & Lonesome’ is a great country rock n roll song. Full stop. It draws on Johnny Cash (think ‘Man Comes Around’) to the heavier end of country such as Eric Church. Its a country check list of lyrics – ‘Fulsom’, ‘Walk The Line’, ‘Whiskey River’ etc. You could play a drinking game to the country metaphors listed here in this one song. ’Marvell’s vocals have a gritty and gravelly sound that just draws you in for the long haul. ‘Gypsy Woman’ is acoustical and just so achingly good. Especially with its little Hammond lilts, and has a warmth due to is really cool harmonies. ‘Heartache Off My Back’ just powers forward and just makes you want to get up out of your chair and dance! ‘Watch Your Heart’ showcases KM’s vocals, a slow burner where the first half shows off his lower register, then it soars on the latter half. There is a mid-section of songs that makes me sit up as they are co-written with Chris Stapleton amongst others. ‘Untangle My Mind’ with its honky-tonk piano transports me to ‘Bobs Country Bunker’ chock full of beer-swillers and whiskey drinkers.
‘Tryin’ Not To Love You’ I think will be a big hit for Marvell. It covers all the bases by a ‘country mile’ (yup, that was intentional). ‘Hurtin’ Gets Hard’ is a country ballad that sticks its head above the others on this record. Complete with harmonies from Melonie Cannon, they work together really nicely, just like Mr & Mrs Stapleton. ‘Closer To Hell’ is sung with enough tongue-in-cheek ‘so I started confessing, and he started sweating till he had to get up and leave, I guess the preacher agrees…’. ‘That Seat’s Saved’ finished the originals with a pure bottled country track, steel gee-tar, spoken word and all, sung about a love waiting to return ‘sit anywhere you want to, mister, anywhere but there….it’ll have her name on it till I don’t have a prayer’. It will have aficionados crying into their beers for sure. The final track is a more upbeat note, a cover of a classic from Charlie Daniels ‘Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye’ (Feat. Jamey Johnson)
Kendell clearly has some friends in very high places – most of whom have turned out to play on this album, and he has used them to great effect. If you think county is a bit ‘samey’ and jaded, then look at Kendell, he is trying to break free of the chains. He is cut from the same cloth as some of the greats. Whilst he is no spring chicken, he has an even greater future ahead of him as a performer. There’s enough variation on offer here to keep a wide ranging country fan invested, both classic and modern country.
I’m just pissed off that I only found out about him this week, just one week after he has toured the UK with Brothers Osborne. Dayum.

Score 9/10
Tracks – (Are there no words ending in ‘g’ in country??)
Lowdown & Lonesome
Gypsy Woman
Heartache Off My Back
Watch Your Heart
Untangle My Mind
Tryin’ Not To Love You
Hurtin’ Gets Hard
Closer To Hell
That Seat’s Saved
Drinkin’ My Baby Goodbye (Feat. Jamey Johnson)

Hartmann – ‘Hands On The Wheel’ Review

Hartmann – Hands On The Wheel

Ive been a fan of Oliver Hartmann right from his first solo album ‘Out In The Cold’ For me, it took that years releases by storm as it produced some wonderful songs – ‘Out In The Cold’, ‘Alive Again’, ‘What If I’, ‘Brazen’. He is one of the very few singers my missus loves (other than Michael Bolton) – and that’s saying something! So you’re in good company, mate. The following years have been a bit hit and miss – Home (good), 3 (OK), Balance (V.Good), Shadows and Silhouettes (couldn’t get along with it at all).

When you have a voice like Olli, and a definite talent for hooks and harmonies, I will always give him the time he deserves.

Since the late 90’s founder Oliver Hartmann is known as a highly respected singer and guitarist on the international music scene due to four albums with the band At Vance, studio work for hard rock and metal acts as Hammerfall, Rhapsody, Helloween or Edguy, as a long time studio and live member of top sellers as Avantasia as part of ‘Rock Meets Classic’ that is featuring the big names of the international rock scene: Alice Cooper, Ian Gillan, UriahHeep, Status Quo, Thin Lizzy, Paul Rodgers, Eric Bazilian, Jimi Jamison, Midge Ure, Steve Lukather, Chris Thompson, BonnieTyler and many others. Not only that, Oliver Hartmann is also fronting the successful Pink Floyd Tribute band, Echoes.

Warning! The following review may contain racing puns!

So what do we have with the new album ‘Hands On The Wheel’?

Well it seems as if the Oliver of old is back, and that for me is great news. ‘Don’t Want Back Down’ has all of his usual hallmarks, with its gentle build up, then hits you between the ears with is rocky and powerful chorus. If this is what is to come, then its a better album already than its predecessor. Its a solid and pretty decent rock song, with no twiddly widdlys, or histrionics. We’re off the start line and into the first corner. ‘Your Best Excuse’ is straight out of the Hartmann archives. Think of ‘Is It You’, and ‘All My Life’ and you’re on the right track – in fact, the chorus sounds a little like the Foo Fighters. ‘Cold As Stone’ contains my kryptonite, a Hammond. Its following a now tried and tested formula, and its good to see Olli and the guys hitting top gear.

I’ve been looking forward to hearing this nextsong, ‘Simple Man’ as it contains a duet with the Peter Pan of rock, one Eric Martin. It starts with a 70s Jethro Tull /Celtic vibe, all fluty and earthy, in an Ayreon kind of way. Its not the first time Hartmann has done a duet, and this one is great. The warmth and storytelling in their voices area joy to listen to. ‘Last Plane Out’ is typical Hartmann fare, and ‘Soulmates’ is a nice lilting ballad that builds as it goes along, and its a long song – a hefty seven minutes. Long doesn’t equal epic, but its a damn good song all the same. I can imagine it sounding superb when played live, its almost gospel-like in its nature. You couldn’t have two Hartmann songs that are further apart that are in succession. ‘The Harder They Come’ is about as hard as Oliver Hartmann gets. I like the change in direction. ‘Dreamworld’ and ‘I Remember’ are both nice and punchy – and hitthe spot. I quite like the opening riff to ‘Lost In Translation’, I wanted just a little more from the rest of the song. ‘The Sky Is Falling’ draws on the blues (in an early Whiteshake way) and then swaps with a decent and heavy chorus. Its all over with ‘Heart Of Gold’ has Olli’s warmth coming through for this acoustical ballad. Whether is the rockier numbers or a heartfelt ballad, Oliver Hartmann has it covered.

There’s some good interplay going on here. Long standing guitarist
Mario Beck knows his part well and is a great foil for Hartmann. All the other guys add to the overall mix also.

The last album stalled at the lights, then when it did get going, got caught in the gravel trap. ‘HOTW’ on the other hand, moves up through the gears nicely and is firing on all cylinders. This is a very welcome return from one of my favourite artistes.

Score – a very solid 8/10

Line-up:Oliver Hartmann (vocals, guitar); Mario Reck (guitar); Armin Donderer (bass); Markus Kullmann (drums); additional keys by Jimmy Kresic

Tracklisting –
Don’t Want Back Down
Your Best Excuse
Cold As Stone

Simple Man (Feat. Eric Martin)

Last Plane Out
The Harder They Come
Dream World
I Remember
Lost In Translation
The Sky Is Falling
Heart Of Gold

Rose Tattoo – ‘Blood Brothers’ Review

Rose Tattoo will be kicking off their Blood Brothers 2018 tour at the end of March with the 2018 bonus re-issue edition of their classic 2007 album set for release on 18th May through Golden Robot Records. 
The re-issue features killer live versions of some of the albums finest tracks, including Man About Town, Black Eyed Bruiser, Once in A Lifetime, Sweat Meat, Standover Man and Nothing to Lose recorded live in all their glory and captured on disc. This is the Tats at their best. Raw, rough and ready for a fight, but also tight as a fist and sounding bigger than ever.
Opening track ‘Black Eyed Bruiser’ is a very welcomed mixture of The Kinks ‘You really got me’ with vocals reminiscent of AC/DC’s Brian Johnson. Having never heard Rose Tattoo before, that’s the first thing that hit me. A great opening track. Proper Rock. And this continues into ‘Slipping Away’, an Aerosmith type rock n roll classic with some nice slides.
The album progresses into ‘Once in A Lifetime’, which has a fantastic drop chord for the chorus that keeps it chugging along just nicely. This is proper driving rock, with the window down, arm out.
I’m hearing lots of bands from my teenage days here. AC/DC, Aerosmith, Thunder, Kiss, even Little Angels to an extent. All of which make this album more enjoyable as it rolls on. ‘City Blues’ is a nice, dark, crawler of a song which slows the album down a touch, and probably at the right time too, concentrating on some more nice slide work and clever guitar riffs, which allows ‘Sweet Meat’ to unleash it’s opening chords with venom. This is a classic rock and blues number with a killer riff. ‘Man About Town’ has a Kiss ‘Cold Gin’ feel to it which works well. What’s great about Rose Tattoo is that when a lot of these songs start, your initial impression is that the song is just ‘ok’, but as each chorus kicks in, it changes everything. They become really good songs. ‘Nothing To Lose’ is probably the weakest song on the album in my opinion. Not much going on in this song to be fair, nothing that really stands out and makes me take notice, which is why I’m surprised that this was chosen as one of the bonus live tracks. The album concludes with six live tracks from the album which capture the live element of the band really well. A good addition to this re-issue.
Fans of AC/DC, Aerosmith etc will love this album. It’s a great rock and roll album, but slightly lacking in originality but enjoyable none the less.
Score 7/10
Reviewed by Sty
Track Listing
1 – Black Eyed Bruiser
2 – Slipping Away
3 – Once In A Lifetime
4 – 1854
5 – City Blues
6 – Sweet Meat
7 – Man About Town
8 – Creeper
9 – Stand Over Man
10 – Nothing To Lose
11 – Lubricated
12 – Man About Town (Live)
13 – Black Eyed Bruiser (Live)
14 – Once In A Lifetime (Live)
15 – Sweet Meat (Live)
16 – Standover Man (Live)
17 – Nothing To Lose (Live)