Rock music lover from the age of 4 thanks to my dad. I migrated to the classic rock bands of the 70 (Rainbow, Rush, Lizzy, Purple etc) before discovering melodic rock and hair metal in the 80s and beyond. Also partial to a bit of prog
An exceptional nights entertainment at a superb venue, made for one of the best gigs of 2023 and its still only March
Before I wax lyrical about Steve and Jims gig, I wanted to say a few words about this stunning little venue in Barnoldswick (locally known as Barlick) not far from the Yorkshire Dales and the Forest of Bowland in Lancs. Visit the McCulloughs Irish Bar, and hidden away in the basement is a gorgeous venue (max 60 peeps) that has enough pictures on the wall to make any Hard Rock hotel jealous, thanks to Peter and Julie who run the place. It is absolutely brilliant, and I wish I had a local like this.
On to the gig. Apparently this is Steve’s first set of solo gigs as a performer in over 30 years and was initially advertised as a single gig. Its ended up as a mini tour with the Sunday night being the first of 2 performances at the Arts Centre
Without going into masses of detail, in a nutshell this was one of my favourite gigs in seeing ‘The Voice’ in over 34 years of seeing Wildlife, FM in their few line ups, and even SO! I don’t know how many songs the guys had rehearsed for this set of gigs, but I am guessing it was over 100 based on the list they kept pointing to. It was an opportunity to listen to songs old, and new, with everything in-between, and a shitload of stories and banter to keep everyone happy.
We were treated to the likes of songs that had not been played in some time – Don’t Stop, Tattoo Needle, Say it Like it Is, Only The Strong Survive, but fuck all from Aphrodisiac (I knew I should have shouted out for Blood and Gasoline as it was on the bloody list), and most of the songs come with an accompanying story.
We heard stories of touring with the likes of Bon Jovi, and all the big guns from back in the day, a lot about brother Chris who can knock out a blistering set of lyrics whilst being glued to the telly watching Neighbours of all things, the story of Shot In The Dark (which got nicked by Soussan and offered to Ozzy with nothing of monetary value coming back to the Overland bros), with Steve still not having a bad word to say about it (!), writing a hit song for Radio 2, how he joined FM and the 4 demos they recorded to get the deal, and lots, lots more.
We got to hear Jim sing a couple of songs, one of them a blues song that just blew me away, to a song that was on Jims Myspace page a few years ago (I had the downloads but lost them!), and some excellent bants when Jim stated he had toured the sates before Steve……3 times!
Steve dug out the first ever song he wrote as a 13 yr old and we were advised not to take too much notice of the lyrics, or the music. (Sunshine? I knew I should have taken notes!)
I think that this gig was on a par with my Lawrence Gowan gig at Crewe a few years back. Mostly audience requests from a pair of blokes who clearly love each others company and trade insults with wild and funny abandon.
Theres already a gig announced for Dec that I have missed out on, but hey, its good to give others a chance to witness this wonderful spectacle of a gig. This is one of my highlights of the year, and very little is likely to surpass it in 2023.
If you love Steel Panther then this is everything you want from a new SP album. If you are a naysayer then there’s nothing here for you whatsoever, and I don’t think the guys give a flying fuck either way.
Amongst the rock fraternity, no one divides the rock fans more than Steel Panther. Oh, and Nickleback. Although one website who clearly know fuck all about rock and metal have named Sabbaths Heaven and Hell as an example.
There are some people out there who think that Steel Panther are a parody band and shouldn’t exist. These people are WRONG! The other half, like me, think that Steel Panther are coming up with some of the best riffs and songs this side of Tony Iommi’s moustache. Dont get me wrong, these guys can do comedy, and take it to another level, but my learned friend, I would also like to submit Exhibit A (Tomorrow Night), Exhibit B (Gloryhole), Exhibit C (Gold Digging Whore) and my latest Exhibit, Exhibit D, the new (Friends With Benefits) as songs that are just as good, if not better than a lot of glam/sleaze/hair metal bands produced in the heyday of the 80s and early 90s. Parody my arse!
I wasn’t overly enamoured with the last two albums ‘Heavy Metal Rules’, and ‘Lower The Bar’. Thankfully the guys have used lockdown as the perfect opportunity to get their act in order and snorted their weight in nose candy and have come back in glorious style with ‘On The Prowl’. Apparently they all worked from home, and it has paid dividends.
The nucleus is still there – Michael Starr, Stix Zadinia, and Satchel. If you have been living in a case for the last few years, Lexxi has gone, and after a porno version of American Idol and a few temporary solutions, the guys announced Spyder into the fold in September 2022
In todays cancel culture where you tread on eggshells on what you can say without offending anyone, Steel Panther come right out of the blocks and set their stall with ‘Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight). In an uncertain World its good to know that some things stay the same. ‘Friends With Benefits’ is the first cut above track. It has LAs Sunset Strip threaded through it like a stick of rock with Satchel delving deep into his bag of 80s riffs. They go mushy with the social media ballad ‘On Your Instagram’, ‘why can’t you look like you do on your Instagram’ telling you everything you need to know in a simple rhyme about todays state of affairs. ‘1987’ is another stand out track with Starr proclaiming ‘Coverdale banging Tawny Kitaen and the World just felt alright’, and ‘the music scene will never be the same, but I didn’t realise that things would get this lame’. Its one of the best songs they have ever written. Thankfully we have Steel Panther on a one man (band) mission to rectify all that was great about the 80s and then some.
If you think that the song titles are a bit ‘normal’, they revert to type (Yay!) with Dweezil Zappa sining up to shred on ‘Is My D**k Enough’, and the wonderfully titled ‘Magical Vagina’, I’d like to know what a magical vagina does? Card tricks? Levitation? Pull a tiger out?
’Pornstar’ is a song that only Steel Panther could write, AND get away with. ‘If Harvey Weinstein was still free he wouldn’t care if you resisted’. Oof! ‘Aint For Dead’ is a biographical song about getting old and lamenting about times past, but they still have a part to play, and party.
Photo Credit – David Jackson
‘On The Prowl’ is an album that gets Steel Panther back on track after the last couple of ‘Panther by Numbers’ albums. Theres nowt wrong with music by numbers, but its back on a par with early Steel Panther music when they were on fire (and I’m not talking about Michael Starrs chlamydia!!)
If you love Steel Panther then this is everything you want from a new SP album. If you are a naysayer then there’s nothing here for you whatsoever, and I don’t think the guys give a flying fuck either way. In an uncertain world, its good that some things never change. All hail Steel Panther.
Around the corner N-Dubz were playing the AO arena. However I’d like to think that the 30-40 of us who turned up to see Sweet Crisis definitely had the better deal.
It was a bit of fun finding a parking space close to The Eagle. The reason? It sits in the shade of the mighty AO arena. It just so happened that there was a gig on tonight at the AO with N-Dubz providing the entertainment. I would like to think though that those in the know were descending upon The Eagle to see what would be (as it turned out to be) one of my favourite gigs (and venue) of this year.
Where the AO has a capacity of 21,000, The Eagle has just 80. The 30-40 that did show, got one hell of a gig to tell their friends about. I was already in the know as I got to hear both bands do a quick sound check and couldn’t wait for the gig to get underway.
Firstly we have Electric Black. Coming all the way from Hitchin for a 45 min set takes some doing, but these guys wouldn’t like it any other way. Opening with a working title of ‘Led Hendrix’, it really was a song born from the annals and foundations of rock history, and in singer Ali they have a guy who can sing ANYTHING. This was highlighted on the excellent ‘Love Is A Light For The Lost’. Also Electric Black have their ‘go to killer moment’ with ‘Homecoming” a song that is their own ‘Heaven and Hell’ and ‘Holy Diver’ all rolled into one. Finishing up with ‘Not Afraid To Die’ it is the heaviest song on the album and absolutely is the cream on an excellent set.
Electric Black have been doing this for some time and was evident as they were as tight as a nut. From the mayhem of Animal influenced drummer Matt, and the playing in the pocket of bassist Ryan, to the superb Jonny on lead guitar, Electric Black are going places. If I’d have known they played my nearest venue last week I’d have been there. I am a week late, but the end result is now the same. Catch these guys if you can, as you will not be disappointed. I guarantee it.
Onto headliners Sweet Crisis. I absolutely love it when you see or hear a band the first time and your breath is taken away. Just like EB, my moment was getting to hear Sweet Crisis debut album a few months back, even though I was late to the party. It was a case of being better late than never, but I was blown away by their collection of songs on ‘Tricks Of My Mind’. The band is built on the friendship of singer Leo Robarts and guitarist Piers Mortimer, but more of that later. Opening with ‘Loosen Up’ the quality is immediately there for people to see. Leo is part Paul Rodgers, Glenn Hughes and Steve Marriott, and that is some amalgamation of talent right there, with his best mate at his side these guys are unstoppable. ‘Black Magic’ has some nice 3 part harmonies and is the first highlight of many.
For ‘Love Me Like Sugar’ if B.B.King and Paul Rodgers (OK, bear with me) had a love child then ‘LMLS’ is the end result. ‘Aint Got Soul’ is one of my favourite songs and hearing it live took it to another dimension, never mind new level. There’s a back story behind ‘Ill Be Creepin’. Leo was into Eminem and Jamiroquai when is dad gave him a copy of Free’s “Fire and Water” when Leo was about 14 (aren’t dads great). Right there a spark was ignited, which changed young Leo’s life and has never looked back. Apparently Leo isn’t keen on covers, but let’s face it, when you have a voice like he has, then it makes for one of the best covers you will ever hear. Hot off the press was a new song, ‘The Warning’ and it was smooth as fuck (insert better simile here____).
This next song was my favourite of the whole set. Written when Leo and Piers were just 17, it proves that age is no barrier when writing songs. Leo becomes a baptist preacher, and its a quality of song that many a Southern Rock/Nashville band would crawl over their dead granny to get hold of. It was stunning live. ‘Dont Start Now’ was pure blues heaven. At the and of the song one bloke shouted “Fuck yes!” It shows that you can write a review in just two words. I couldn’t have put it better myself. ‘Living Life On The Edge’ had them jamming on a powerful groove and takes me back to the era of bands like Cream and Jefferson Airplane. SC finished strong with the title track ‘Tricks On My Mind’, and a powerful single from 2020 in ‘Rolling In It’.
It is hard to vacate the stage for an encore when it is the size of a postage stamp to they stayed put. Sweet Crisis will probably drop the covers as their song list gets bigger, but when you cover Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ as well as they do, then its good to throw in a crowd pleaser for us old farts. The guys finished off with a song that got them started and recognised back in 2019, ‘Misty Haze’. I know its me repeating myself but this has blues and soul in abundance, and echoes Pink Floyd and Jeff Buckley. The guitar tone was beautiful. What a song to end a gig with.
Theres a tendency for bands to play their whole album in the early days of their gigs. That may be the case here, but Sweet Crisis have a foundation of stunning songs already that will be a staple of their live gigs for years to come.
I have witnessed some great fledgling bands this last 12 months since gigs have opened up again – Cardinal Black, The Karma Effect, and now Electric Black and Sweet Crisis. Add the likes of Scarlet Rebels and Florence Black into this mix and British rock music is in very safe hands indeed.
Based on tonights performances I hope that they both continue to record and gig as they both deserve to be heard by much bigger audiences than current. The numbers did not detract, in fact it enhanced it as it felt like a gig in your own living room. We can all say that when they do make it, we were there almost from the beginning. I can’t wait to see what Sweet Crisis (and Electric Black) do next.
What Kira Mac have delivered is extraordinary. It is ten songs of pure quality, that after one listen will make you ride that rollercoaster and pay to take the ride again and again. Its not a perfect 10, but it is 35 minutes of absolute enjoyment.
Every now and again YouTube throws me a bone to a band I’ve not encountered before. OK, to give them credit, it does it quite often, but I have a short attention span. I’m not a kid where it has to grab me by the bollox in the first 10 seconds, but I’ll give it a listen at least until I get to a chorus.
I can’t tell you what I was listening to in the first place, but Kira Mac appeared and it was an occasion whereby I my bollox were well and truly grabbed (so to speak). I’ll tell you why shortly.
Anywho, Kira Mac are making little gains that seem to be gathering momentum.
Steelhouse created a spot for them
BBC Radio 2 play
Rock n Blues appearance
17k organic vires on YouTube in 6 months
25k streams on Spotify in 6 month
Playlist on Planet Rock for all 4 singles
I am 100% certain that all of this achievement will be well and truly eclipsed 6, or 12 months from today. I am that convinced, I have put a reminder in my calendar to check out the stats!!
Kira Mac are mainly based in and around the North of the UK. Vocalist and reason for the band name Kira Mack along with guitarist Alex Novakovic and bassist Bret Barnes all hailing from Manchester. Joe Worrall (guitar) is from Hull, and new drummer (and doesn’t appear on the album Max Rhead is from Newport.
Firstly Kira Mac is an unsigned band. This can be for a couple of reasons. Is it because labels won’t entertain anyone unless they have one million streams on Spotify, or is it because it is feasibly possible that an unsigned band can be profitable without the support of a label of any size. If one of my favourite bands (Dirty Honey) can do it, so can Kira Mac.
Right from the off you can tell that Kira Mac have been plying their trade for some time. I really have a soft spot for female vocalists – Leigh Matty, Pat Benatar, Ann Wilson, and the one I want to make particular reference to is one Dorothy Martin. ‘One Way Ticket’ is Dorothy. I just wish everyone knew about Dorothy as they are bloody brilliant. So to compare Kira to Dorothy is very high praise indeed. Searing guitars? Check. Sumptuous chorus. Check. Instantly singable. Check. What a start! ‘Hit Me Again’ is in similar vein, and ‘Chaos Is Calling’ has a bone crunching riff that heavier bands whose band logos I can never read would crawl across broken glass for. It still has melody in spades.
‘Back For More’ (not that one) is a song that’s bluesier and still pushes the right buttons. You would swear that these guys are American. ‘Mississippi Swinging’ is without doubt one of the best songs on the album. With an opening line like ‘Mississippi swinging got a whiskey sipping honey on my left hand’ you know its going to be a belter. Its a song whereby if you heard this in a pub, you’d stop drinking and start had banging. The other two highlights being ‘Hell Fire Holy Water’ and massive closer, ‘Dead Man Walking’. Its almost as if Kira Mac have a random song title generator. ‘HFHW’ will go gown a storm live as a singalong moment (I guarantee it), and ‘DMW’ is the song that started it for me. Its based on a massive chunky riff, Kira Macs vibrato vocal styling and tasty guitar solo. ‘Downfall’ ups the ‘heavy’ to 11 and ‘Never Going to Stay’ is the king to ‘Downfalls’ yang. ‘Never…’ definitely has a Nashville country influence and is probably the most mainstream sounding song on the album
What Kira Mac have delivered is extraordinary. It is ten songs of pure quality, that after just one listen will make you ride that rollercoaster and pay to take the ride again and again. Its not perfect, but it is 35 minutes of absolute enjoyment. I really think that Kira Mac deserve to be going places. The debut album is out at the end of this week (18th November), and a UK tour follows hot on the heels, starting in Edinburgh two days later (20th November).
Pawns and Kings is the most complete, consistently thunderous anthemic Alter Bridge album to date
Most of my musical heroes are either dead / in their 70s/ no longer active. Very few bands formed this century get into my list. The main ones that I adore are Alter Bridge, Coheed and Cambria and Rival Sons. Not only are my heroes as mentioned, very few are ready to take the crown and become headliners at the likes of Download etc. Out of these 3, AB are in the best position for taking the next step upwards, especially now.
I have been a fan of Alter Bridge ever since I heard them on Orlando Rock Radio back in 2004. I have attended an Alter Bridge gig on every tour at least once. I think I’m up to about 18 gigs. I would like to think that I have earned the right to have an opinion on their music. Remember reader, opinions are like arseholes, everybody has one. It is my opinion that the Top 3 Alter Bridge albums are as follows….
Alter Bridge have been making great and good albums, but nothing after Fortress has come close to breaking into my Top 3…..until now!
‘Pawns and Kings’ is the bands 7th studio album, and by Christ, is it a cracker. At just 10 songs long, the guys have literally gone straight for the jugular. Think of the best of Myles Kennedys solo work and smash it with Tremonti’s knack for a spleen-busting riff, together with the Prince Of Pound (Philips) and the testicle moving, pummelling bass of Marshall and its 10 songs of pure God and Thunder. ‘This is War’ is the best opener to an album that AB have ever done – Myles never sounded better, and there’s almost a Carmina Burana chant that will go down a storm when played live. I honestly think Tremonti has a riff for every occasion (weddings (yup), funeral (gotcha!), Bar Mitzvah (yes indeed). He has the best riffs this side of Tony Iommi’s moustache!!!
Alter Bridge have gone big and long on a few tracks, and all deliver in spades with the anthem ‘Sin After Sin’; ‘Fable of the Silent Son’ is a ‘Children of the Sea’ for the modern era, and the title track is the sister companion to Kennedy’s ‘The Ides of March’.
To be honest here, there is not an average number or plodder on the album. ‘Silver Tongue’ shows why it was picked as a single/appetite whetter for Pawns, as it combines the best AB bits rolled into one song. ‘Stay’ is where Tremonti takes the lead on vocals and is now becoming a staple to have a song from the metal crooner and correctly so. In fact he is continuing to get better with each AB/Tremonti/Sinatra album, and it is closest thing to a melodic rock song as AB will ever get.
To follow on from a couple of earlier points, I am convinced that after half a dozen listens to Pawns & Kings that this album will probably knock ‘Blackbird’ off its coveted No.1 spot (steady on! Editor). With regards to upping the level to festival headliner, if AB don’t get the breaks after this album, I have no idea what they are supposed to do. This album is next level.
P&K is that strong, every single song on this could make it into the live set. It is the most complete, consistently thunderous, anthemic album to date and for that I have to applaud the guys as they could easily have gone for ‘okay’ but have instead set a level that in 2022 (and 2023) other bands have to meet. It will be in many a Top 5 list come the next few weeks, mine included.
The best compliment I can give about Sweet Crisis is that if these guys has a time machine, you could drop this album into any decade from the 1960s onwards and it would not be out of place
I like a good natter with people, both online and in person, especially if said natter is about music. I was friended on instagram by a nice bloke who works with touring bands doing Merch and set up. He suggested I give Sweet Crisis a listen. That was weeks ago, so I apologise for the delay.
The bumf that come with the link states that Sweet Crisis seek to balance all their inclinations and influences – like Free and Lenny Kravitz, nothing is off the table if music sounds right. Their key influences run through their debut album like a stick of Blackpool rock. There is everything from Fleetwood Mac to Pink Floyd, and The Rolling Stones to The Verve. That’s your appetites well and truly whetted then!
For the lover of upbeat rock, there is the opener ‘Loosen Up’, ‘One Way Traffic’, and ‘Living Life On The Edge’ (which has some cracking guitar playing courtesy of Piers Mortimer, and it is wonderfully trippy and exhilarating all in one song. The title track, ‘Tricks On My Mind’ is snappy and punchy and delivers in spades and reminds me a bit of Rival Sons.
For blues rock aficionados there is a magnificent ‘Love Me Like Sugar’ (my fave track along with ‘Living…’; ‘Misty Haze’ (great name for a porn star), and is an equally great song; ‘This Guitar’, and ‘Black Magic’.
Whilst it’s not bluesy or rock, there is also the enticing and somewhat mesmerising ‘Ain’t Got Soul’, which I feel should be a darling of the airwaves on Radio 2 if it isn’t already.
As debuts go, ‘Tricks On My Mind’ is a little belter. In a saturated market where blues rock seems to be the go to music of choice, I think that Sweet Crisis have enough diversity, quality and wide ranging influence in their armoury to rise above the majority.
The best compliment I can give about Sweet Crisis and ‘Tricks On My Mind’ is that if these guys had a time machine, you could drop this album into most decades from the 1960s up until the present day and it would fit in neatly like peas in a pod. It is a debut album that deserves your attention. I can’t wait to see these guys live.
Are you ready to Rock? Then get your arse into gear and support British Rock.
Back in the day, Mick White was a teenage singer for Samson (who incidentally the first professional band I saw live, supporting Whitesnake on the Paints & Thinners Tour in Dec 82). After leaving Samson he formed his own band, First Strike, but grunge buggered that up like it did with a lot of bands at that time. This led White to session work for the next five years, before becoming disillusioned at the end of the Millenium, (98 to be precise). This lead to a long period of inactivity until 2019 where White was approached by Steelheart Records to finally get a release of the First Strike album. Whilst guesting on a song written by Marty Punch in 2019 called ‘Better Be Strong’. White was approached by the drummer Carsten Enghardt on that song and Carsten knew White was the right singer for his own band Endfield.
Fast forward a bit to 2020 and like many others, Covid meant a period of songwriting for a solo album, which brought in Enghardt and guitarist Luke Hatton. Included on this album are a song co-written with Paul Samson back in 1988, called ‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’, a reworking of a First Strike song ‘Hold Tight’ and a new version of ‘Better Be Strong’. Which leads us sweetly into this review.
‘SGTG’ starts off with a bang on ‘Burning In The Night’, as it moves through the gears fast, with Hatton and White in the driver and passenger seat. Title track ‘Somethings Got To Give’ is a step to the side but is equally enjoyable as the opener. Hatton again gives his talent and fingers an airing on the solo. ‘Without You’ shows MWB can mix it up a bit, as its a moodier song, and adds a burning desire to the song. ‘Emergency On Planet Earth’ shows how White can deliver a melodic rock song with aplomb as its very catchy indeed. It sees Mick singing to a younger version of himself, now older and wiser and telling his younger self of the issues that lie ahead.
‘Ordinary Girl’ is as you would expect, a ballad, with feet planted firmly in the 1980s. Not one of those soppy ones, as it builds to a nice crescendo. ‘Alter Of Desire’ is a snappy, up-tempo rocker. ‘Hold Tight’ is broody, but has a very melodic bridge and chorus, that would have been a staple on many a 80s album (in fact it was, it just didn’t get released until 2019!). ‘Sometime Superman’ was the 2nd video to be released and rightly so, as this and ‘Emergency…’ show the band in fine form and at their prime best on these melodic numbers.
‘Don’t Close Your Eyes’ is Samson through and through. It’s a shot of adrenaline to the ears. Mick screams the title just like Don Dokken (when Don could sing). ‘Better Be Strong’ closes on a (well, er…strong) note, and it is a definite highlight.
I’ve not come across Mick White before (oo-er!), and probably hadn’t had I not been contacted by Ian Edwards who is MWs Bassist. (Note – Ian only works with ex-Samson vocalists – Peter Scallan ‘Moritz’ and now Mick White. If this were the 80s, next up would be Mammoth – now there’s one for the over 50s!).
Mick White is a very decent singer of gravelly velvet voice and a definite ear for decent tune. I can’t wait to see where this goes next. Its definitely for fans who like their rock music with lashings of leg warmers, bleached jeans and built on the foundations of NWOBHM. Are you ready to rock? Then get your arse into gear and buy this album.
Burning In The Night Somethings Got To Give Without You Emergency On Planet Earth Ordinary Girl Alter of Desire Sometime Superman Hold Tight You Poisoned My Love Don’t Close Your Eyes Better Be Strong
Mark Tremonti has come together with the surviving members of Frank Sinatra’s orchestra, creating new takes on some of the classics and deeper cuts from Frank’s catalogue. The album is courtesy of the Take A Chance For Charity foundation. It is a brand new charity focussed on giving artists/actors/athletes the ability to get out of their comfort zone, having the people with a platform get out of the genre they are known for to raise funds and awareness for the charity of their choice. An actor can sing, and athlete can dance, a musician can sing a song away from their musical genre, any artistic interpretation. This gives the artist the ability to do something out of the ordinary, even extraordinary all in the name of charity. Tremonti Sings Sinatra is the first release for the cause, the recipient being NDSS. A charity close to Marks heart as his daughter Stella has Down Syndrome. Frank raised over a billion dollars for charity, and now Mark is on the same path, raising funds and helping families and individuals with Down Syndrome.
Whilst I am a out and our rock fan, my musical journey started probably from the age of about 4, possibly earlier than that. I remember going into town with my dad and buying the record player that became a massive part of my life. My dad was a Teddy Boy in the 50s, and he opened me up to the rock n roll greats of the fifties and sixties. I think its why I like rock music as it’s the same path for me as it was my dad. I digress.
One man stood at the top of the tree for my dad, and it wasn’t Elvis. It was Nat King Cole. Talented pianist, and a voice that was pure velvet. Mt dad owned everything that he released. So I have some skin in the game when it comes to crooners. Whilst I was never a fan of Frank Sinatra, I watched many a Hollywood musical growing up, of which he did many, and it is something I still enjoy today. Mr Sinatra was a part of this journey and I totally respect his place in music and film history
I have watched (and heard) Mark Tremonti go from being a decent backing vocalist (and part vocalist) in Alter Bridge to fronting the band in his own name and getting better with each Tremonti album. What I didn’t realise was how bloody good he is taking on the classic Sinatra songbook. He is too good. When AB decide to call it a day, he will easily jump to crooning if he so wishes to.
So what do we have? Well, theres all the classics we have all heard of, unless you’ve been living in a rock, or were born after 1990. Mark is making sure all the kids who like AB will be directed to Sinatras legacy. I played the opening track for my wife last night, and told her it was Tremonti singing ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’. Gill is in fact a much better reviewer than I am. She can sort a duffer almost immediately, and also knows talent when she hears it. If fact she was blown away by how good Mark Tremonti is in singing a legends songbook.
When you sing songs like Frank Sinatras, there is nowhere to hide, and Tremonti isn’t phased for one second. Hi hits some low notes on Wave that felt like being stood next to a subwoofer. All the classics are ticked off with aplomb – Fly Me Too The Moon, My Way, Luck Be A Lady, You Make Me Feel So Young, That’s Life (a song covered by David Lee Roth in the 80s), and Come Fly With Me. I just wished they would have thrown in ultimate Sinatra classic New York, New York from the film I only watched last week, On The Town.
That said, following in Sinatras shoes is one hell of an achievement, and at no point does he let Frank down. The tone and phrasing is excellent. Whilst I think that Take A Chance For Charity is about giving artists the chance to go out of their comfort zones, Mark Tremonti may well have been shitting bricks in having to tackle these classics, but it certainly doesn’t look or feel like it
I don’t think this is the last we have seen from the current and future great crooner, Mark Tremonti.
FM’s Thirteenth album doesn’t mean its unlucky. In fact its the finest of this version of FM
Said in my best Smashy and Nicey voice “FM are probably one of my favourite bands of all time, probably of all time mate!” Just like Mervs missus’s band, FM never let me down, especially live. OK I have selective memory with Dead Mans Shoes, but there are still a couple of belters on that album (Sister and Tattoo Needle). So, this thirteenth studio album from FM is aptly called, well, er…..’Thirteen’. I’d like to have been there for that meeting.
This current version of FM is the most stable in the bands illustrious history. The vastly underrated rhythm section of Jupp/Goldsworthy are firmly behind the wheel and Steve ‘The Voice’ Overland is still here, sounding as good as ever. He sits comfortably alongside Gramm, Perry, Hughes, Dio and Coverdale, and that is how high a regard I hold him in. Drop in Jem Davis adding sumptuous layers and Jim Kirkpatrick (still the new bloke) who has turned up yet again with a suitcase full of riffs and melody, and this magic recipe has delivered the best FM album since Metropolis, possibly after Tough It Out (and this assessment is just after a single listen) and instantly gets into my top 4 FM albums of all time, and could go higher after repeated listens.
Opening track ‘Shaking The Tree’ shows that FM have lost nothing of their vim and vigor. Its fair to say this is one of the finest openings since ‘Tough It Out’. Jem Davis add some nice keyboards to this song and he threads through the whole album like a champion sewing bee. Proving that its not just the one song being great, ‘Waiting On Love’ shows why they still are one of the finest bands to come out of Blighty. Mr Overland sounds at his absolute best and the fab 5 harmonies wash over me like a coveted security blanket. I don’t think there is a chink in his armour. ‘Talk Is Cheap’ has a tougher edge to it and ‘Turn This car Around’ is something that Don Henley would have killed his granny for in 1986. ‘Love and War’ takes me back to the very underrated ‘Run No More’ from ‘Aphrodisiac’. ‘Every Man Needs A Woman’ is a barnstorming track, and is Jim Kirkpatricks tribute to EVH. And nails it. I’ve never quite understood the phrase ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ because surely you just get more fire! Its the kind of song that would have adorned an 80s B movie. That is no insult when you listen to soundtracks like ‘The Wraith’. The final track ‘Be True To Yourself’ has a bit of a proggy undertone to it, only with harmonies a plenty and rounds off a cracking album.
To summarise, Overland is still one of the best vocalists of all time, the harmonies are to die for, Kirkpatrick’s playing gets better with each album, (not that he was shite before!) and the understated rhythm section of Jupp and Goldsworthy are the meat and bones of FM.
FM have brought their ‘A game’ for ‘Thirteen’ as the quality of songs are probably the best that this version of FM have put together. I have waxed lyrical about some of the previous FM albums, but this one is the absolute bollocks!
Tracklisting – Shaking The Tree Waiting On Love Talk Is Cheap Turn This Car Around Love And War Long Road Home Be Lucky Every Man Needs A Woman Just Got Started Fight Fire With Fire Be True To Yourself
Massive improvement since Gone Savage released their EP ‘Resurrection’ a couple of years back. ‘Past Life’ has a great set of songs with not a duffer or filler in sight
Review by Paul. Chesworth
Gone Savage have been diligently releasing quality songs for a number of years now. Two years ago GS sent me their EP ‘Resurrection’, and single ‘Bulletproof’ which was a whetter of an appetite for what was to come. And that ‘for what was to come’ is now actually here in 2022 with the release of ‘Past Life’.
They are down to a main 2 piece of Ian Salpekar (bass) and Will Glover (Vocals), and have added the likes of Sam Millar and Grant Mallison (Guitars, but not at the same time), with Don Genovese (backing vocals) but we are promised a full on band when live with 4 part harmonies. Thats good enough for me as I’m a sucker for harmonies.
They self describe themselves as ‘Rock with a modern melodic feel, together with a hard edge and tight under belly!’ Compared to ‘Resurrection’ (which had a different vocalist to Will) back in 2020, Gone Savage showed a marked improvement with ‘Bulletproof’ (included on ‘Past Life’), and have definitely upped their game even further with this new release. Gone Savage have bands like Leppard, and Dokken running through their music and veins like a stick of Blackpool rock.
So what do we get? ‘Regression’ is an intro with not a lot of substance, but it gives way for the very 80s sounding ‘Icon Of Today’ with Will sounding a little like Blood Red Saints Pete Godfrey. It makes for a very decent opener. It only gets better with the very aptly named ‘Irresistable’ which is built on the foundations of a cracking riff and chorus. (Stryper anyone?). ‘Life In Black And White’ has one of those ear-worm choruses that once heard, are immediately embedded in your skull. I mentioned earlier about the Def Leppard and Dokken influences and both are definitely in play for ‘Permanent State Of Change’, with vocals and delivery Lep-esque, and the riff coming from a ‘Dysfunctional’ era Dokken. ‘Bulletproof’ has a much heavier sound and it stands out from the rest of the album. I don’t mean in a better ‘stand out’ moment, its the heaviness that stands out. Bear in mind this song is a couple years older than the rest and possibly this was a sign of things to come, but everything before this on Past Life have been pared back a little for a more melodic approach. It (Bulletproof) still fits in though as bands need to show that are not all a bit ‘same-y’ or predictable, and this is proof positive with ‘Life Incendiary’. It offers up a slower paced sound and deliberate menacing tone and underlying riff that evokes George Lynch and Adam Jones. Its a definite highlight.
‘Louder Than The Sun’ sounds as if its a seamless transition from ‘Life Incendiary’, and it hammers home with Will doing his very best ’Stars In Their Eyes’ Joe Elliot moment with the phrasing and delivery. The harmonies are also in full force. Again, its quality stuff. ‘Love Caught Me Out’ sounds like a Night Ranger title if ever I hear one. Only this song is like ‘Night Of The Crime’ era Icon (Check ‘em out kids, Icon are fantastic). GS are on a roll now folks! ‘Redemption Song’ dials it back a little but it still packs a punch. The harmonies are in force and Salpekar’s bass pulls this song along for most of the way. ‘Powerless’ has all the hallmarks of a very early Leppard (Rock Brigade) and has a pulsating riff that drives the song from start to finish. ‘Touch Your God’ has a more atmospheric sound to it than the rest, and is the type of song that played live could easily become a lengthier, epic number.
The addition of Will Glover has seen Gone Savage grown into a force to be reckoned with. I also have to give credit to Grant Mallison and Sam Millar as the guitars on this album take me back to my late teens when bands like Dokken, Ratt, QR etc ruled the World for me. The songs on ‘Past Life’ are better (much better), the vocals have more range and feeling than previously. The band have come on leaps and bounds since our paths crossed with ‘Resurrection’. ‘Past Life’ is a mix of ‘the great and the good’. There’s at least three great songs, probably more once I really have a few more listens under my belt, and the rest are good, with not a filler or duffer in sight. For that I have to give it very credible and enjoyable….
Regression Icon Of Today Irresistable Life In Black And White Permanent State Of Change Bulletproof Life Incendiary Louder Than The Sun Love Caught Me Out Redemption Song Powerless Touch Your God