FROM THE VAULT

DECEMBER 2006

DAUGHTRY
Self-titled
RCA Records

We’re conservative in our reviews of major label releases, especially if they have the tag “American Idol” attached to them. So it was with trepidation that we approached Chris Daughtry’s self-titled release for RCA Records. As viewers of the hit TV series will attest, Daughtry proved himself to be the real deal – or a least as real as you can be in that circus-filled atmosphere. He never broke character as the pissed off post-grunge anti-hero, and his losing to a couple puff cakes only cemented his right to rock. Yet knowing all the “behind-the-scenes” garbage could easily outweigh his dedicated spirit, one had to hesitate when the record showed up on the Best Buy end caps. The disc did look the part. The shorter name DAUGHTRY (all caps) gives the illusion of a band effort, not a one off solo gig, and the fact that the singer declined an offer to front one of his favorite ‘90’s rock band’s Fuel, proved he wanted to make it on his own. Could twelve tracks of celluloid plastic prove to the world this band was firmly planted in the rock community?

We’ll, yes it can! True, Daughtry, the singer, had plenty of aid in putting this gem together. His band was hand selected from a host of studio guys, not his homeboys from North Carolina. He shares writing credits on most of the tracks, but not with the musicians in the record lineup. However, he does get sole credit on three self-penned tracks including two killers, “Home” and “Gone.” The rest of the songs are slick and catchy, certainly a credit to famed producer Howard Benson (Cold, Hoobastank, Motörhead and My Chemical Romance) and mix master Chris Lord-Alge (Bad Religion, Green Day) yet they hold just enough grit to sound convincing. “It’s Not Over” is the first single out to radio and is seeing some steady chart action. Still, there are lots to choose from including “Over You” with its acoustic build to the chorus or the riveting “Breakdown.”

Though billed as modern hard rock, the disc runs the gamut from the country soul of “Home” to the Slash-tainted metal of “What I Want.” Not as tortured as Nickleback or as syrupy as Creed, DAUGHTRY finds itself with hooky guitar riffs that stand toe to toe with a rhythm section anchored to your brain. Then there’s the voice that sold a nation on this guy. Thick and muscular, melodic and passionate, he makes you believe in his dream especially in monsters like “Crashed” and the Collective Soul-crunch of “There And Back Again.” Fully expected are the Live/Fuel moments in “Feels Like Tonight” and “All These Lives,” but overall it comes down to songs – and here there are some great ones. The best quote appears in the CD’s liner notes. Daughtry writes, “Thanks for helping me achieve my vision on this album…and making it not suck.”

Website: DAUGHTRY, RCA Records



NOVEMBER 2006

BLACK STONE CHERRY
Self-titled
Roadrunner Records

An unusual signing for Roadrunner. Black Stone Cherry are a powerful throw-back to ’78 Molly Hatchet. Raised on Kentucky corn bread and Alabama moonshine this hairy bunch found tutelage under the watchful eye of southern-fired country rockers the Kentucky Head Hunters. We called up the band’s hotshot rhythm guitarist Ben Wells to fill us in on their tour with Zack Wylde and he told us, “Our drummer John Fred Young is the son of the Headhunters drummer Richard Young. They were really helpful as far as guiding us as a band.” The primary advice handed down was to rehearse until your sore and then rehearse some more. The band claimed on old backwoods shack and dubbed it “The practice house.” Continues Wells, “It’s the only place in Mecca County that doesn’t have an address.” They plugged in and for four years banged out cover tunes by Sabbath, Skynyrd and Zeppelin until their own juices began to flow.

“Shooting Star” and “Hell and High Water” were among the quartet’s first efforts and over the years have matured into lethal chunks of southern rock. Daring and dense, they give this debut a foundation to build upon. Chris Robertson’s brooding vocals and munchy guitar moves the record in Brand New Sin / Black Label Society direction with plenty of COC overtones. “What their good at is spoon-feeding roots music into modern rock and roll,” injects the record’s producer and Headhunter Richard Young. Roots are the key to this record. “Lonely Train,” a song about a civil war graveyard and “Rain Wizard” inspired by cave dwelling native Indians are local legends to the four. “We wrote about the things that are around us, that inspire us,” says Wells. “We even recorded the record here at a local studio.” Bassist Jon Lawhon believes the secret to the bands regional popularity is that their songs are blues oriented. Listening to his beefy bass in “When The Wight Comes Down” makes it all too convincing.

“We have one common goal with our music,” says Wells, “We take the negatives out, concentrate on what works and feels right – and then turn it up.” One of those magic moments happened when they decided to cover the Yardbirds song “Shape Of Things.” Continues Wells, “We only have a handful of covers that we do, but Shape really cooked when we ran through it. Jeff Beck covered it on Truth with Rod Stewart so we had a couple different directions we could take.” Rolling out like a Sherman tank, BSC keep the metal on the lower register with plenty of gallop. “Crosstown Woman” and “Violator Girl” build around bass and drums while the guitar plows through one dark riff after another. Closing out the record “Tired of the Rain” and “Rollin’ On” lightened it up with a tasteful bit of Cream. These youngsters are one to watch...

Website: Black Stone Cherry, Roadrunner Records



OCTOBER 2006

THE STRAYS
Le Futur Noir
TVT Records

This highly anticipated slab had a number of hurdles to overcome in order to win our praise. First and most obvious is the tailgate party surrounding its lead singer and guitarist Toby Marriott. The son of famed Small Faces/Humble Pie founder Steve Marriott, pressure was on young Toby to deliver an enticing bit of old school vibrato. The shadow of such a legacy, though unclaimed, has haunted the band’s debut. Then there was the issue of the band’s label mates which include everything from Lil Jon and the Ying Yang Twins to Poison/G&R clones Towers of London. To clearly separate themselves from the pack, The Strays had to deliver something uniquely powerful, catchy and original. With Le Futur Noir (French translation “The Black Future”) the LA-based foursome have achieved and surpassed all expectations. In fact this may well be the rock record for the holiday season surpassing both The Killers and Jet.

Celebrating his influences from late ‘70s punk, including The Clash, The Sex Pistols and the occasional Ramones, Marriott leads his international crew through a barrage of riff-dominated pop rock. There are the big and beefy “You Are the Evolution,” “Geneva Code” and the garage-tinged “Peach Acid.” Yet it’s their subtle flare in songs like “Block Alarm,” “Start a Riot” and “Let down the Girls” that prove this band is more than just a fabricated showpiece. Le Futur Noir is a real English record. It’s more than Marriott’s thick accent – it’s in their chord changes, their flirtation with dance beats and the Dream Syndicate/Buzzcocks delivery. Several of the record’s 13 tracks are well over two years old. They’ve been beaten up and hammered out – played live, shelved and then resurrected. The results are sturdy well-honed rumblers all coming in under three minutes.

Marriott leans heavily on Columbian-born guitarist Jeffrey Saenz and his start-stop attack. Live, Saenz plants his feet firmly next to his amp, Les Paul slung low between his knees and head drooped - very Ramones-like. He punished his guitar with chainsaw scraping as the full blast of “Miracles’ and “Future Primitives” bludgeons all those within ear shot. Marriott winds in and out with stinging proficiency occasionally locking licks with Saenz all the while the mic echoes his piercing vocals. Bassist Dimitrious Koutsiouris sits back on the drumbeat and lays in a restless thump as the chief architect for the band’s foundation. Solid from start to finish the record finds its salvation in dirty, raucous rock but with melody almost as if INXS were a punk band. Fans of Transporter 2 will recognize “Life Support” as it was prominently affixed to the cult film last year. To check out our full feature on the band click here.

Website: The Strays, TVT Records



SEPTEMBER 2006

THE CASANOVAS
All Night Long
Rubber Records

The belle of the ball this month has got to be the new CasanovasAll Night Long. What a superior piece of plastic! This Melbourne, Australian three-piece made our news wire a couple years back with their break-through self-titled sensation. Since then tours with The Datsuns, The White Stripes and Aussie legends The Powdermonkeys have only fueled the fire blazing behind the trio. They have perfected their lethal dose of AC/DC meets Ted Nugent power riffs with a punk snarl. Of the eleven songs on their sophomore outing they keep ‘em short combustible kegs. From the top is the garage-rocking “Born to Run” with its frantic bar-room piano dancing in time with a huge guitar hook and a mesmerizing drum flurry. Not shy about tossing in the occasional shameless solo, the boys filler up by the fistful. Following in the footsteps of hometown heroes AC/DC, “Shame on You” lands an open chord melody that’s guaranteed never to leave your brain with a big band section blasting through a haze of high-octane rock.

Guitarist/vocalist Tommy Boyce reaches his stride with the classic ‘70’s free ride “California” where his edgy timbre echoes a bleeding desire to flee Aussie beaches and go ‘far away to sunny California.” The album’s title track “All Night Long’ has that classic build from a whining, “I wanna taste it” to a punishing sledgehammer chorus all while bassist Damo Campbell is driving the beat. Up front and center is drummer Jordan ‘Jaws’ Stanley. Whether it’s slamming out a massive downbeat in “I Don’t Want You Back” to the Nugent-inspired “Doghouse Blues.” Granted, most of the record is meat and potatoes hard rock. There’s a bit of Nazareth thrown in with Status Quo and early Ramones around the edges. Yet, it all fits together in a tightly wound ball of qualifying thunder.

The road to fame and glory has been a tough one for the sonic threesome. A number of personality changes have left their mark on the band’s sound as they’ve moved from knuckle-dragging muscle rock to real songwriters with memorable licks. An excellent example is “Too Much,” a highway song packed with Rolling Stone swagger.  Or the throbbing “Heartbreaker” which borrows more than a tad from the layered guitar blast of Sweden’s Hellacopters. Producer Sylvia Massy Shivy (Tool, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Rich Veltrop opt for a stripped down clean and nasty sound. A couple songs get a little extra working (California, All Night Long) but for the most part, it comes off like a live set. Known for their covers, the band do not disappoint in giving ZZ Tops’ “I Thank You” a good run around the barnyard. A very metallic, almost Priest-like “Overload” shuts the whole thing down – then you hit “repeat” and get it going for round two.

Website: The Casanovas, Rubber Records



AUGUST 2006

THE FLAMING SIDEBURNS
Back To the Grave
Bad Afro Records

Best friends to the Hellacopters and Gluecifer, Scandinavian rockers The Flaming Sideburns return with a 12-track compilation guaranteed to bring flashbacks of that ‘ol Detroit sound clashing with early Stones. The “Sideburns” started out with Bad Afro back in 2001 with their landmark recording Hallelujah Rock’n’Rollah. Signed on the power of their live gigs consisting primarily of ‘60’s covers, the retro-five piece became a swinging sensation in Helsinki’s Bama Lama Parte. Now, after four records - the last of which Sky Pilots (2003) saw worldwide distribution, the band decided to give the fans a treat before releasing their next big long player in October. Back to the Grave is packed with unreleased covers, rare b-sides and two new tunes showcasing their razor-sharp chops.

Back To The Grave starts with the new stuff right off the bat. “Running’ on Fumes” and “Black Moon” were left over ideas from the Sky Pilots sessions. With its bright guitar and a hint of fuzz “Running’ on Fumes” has the balls to lead the pack. Hip shaking swagger with the occasional frantic piano makes it a hot pub track. The haunting “Black Moon” makes a move toward So Cal surf rock with Chris Isaak-like maneuvering. It’s made all the more exotic by its sultry Spanish lyrics delivered like only lead singer, Eduardo Martinez, can. “Bad Trip” is a Wailers gem made toxic with Sideburns’ guitarists Ski Williamson and Peevo de Luxe pouring out surf guitar riffs – psychedelic pandemonium with a groove. The two dice up Bill Haley’s “13 Women” with a similar treatment.

Midway through the record “Evil Woman,” the Troggs classic, comes off like Free meets Black Sabbath - dark, heavy and soaked with attitude. Bass and drums keep the James Gang banger “Funk 49” in the pocket while Grand Funk’s “Are You Ready” gets a major injecting of testosterone. I don’t remember the original live version sounding this good.  Obscure Michigan band Del-Vetts hail a nod from the band with a souped-up version of “Last Time Around.” Garage rock aficionados will recognize “High Time,” the Sonics masterpiece given the FB overhaul. Standouts include “Let Me Go” a blazing b-side from the band’s early days, Little Richard’s “Bama Lama Loo” featuring Hanoi Rocks legend Michael Monroe on vocals and a reworking of Lou Reed’s “Leave Me Alone.” Remember to check out the in-studio video of “Evil Women” for those of us not lucky enough to see the band live.

Website: The Flaming Sideburns, Bad Afro Records



JULY 2006

BRUCE DICKINSON
Anthology
Sanctuary Records

We have never selected a DVD to feature as our “Record of the Month.” However, we have also never seen one so compelling and passionately assembled for the fans as this one. As anthologies go, this has become one of the most talked about and celebrated collections surrounding Iron Maiden-front man Bruce Dickinson. From the outside cover, where the singer continues his fascination and love of 18th century artist William Blake, to the elaborate detail in song selection and visual majesty, Dickinson has scoured the vaults of his own history and built a definitive package including over six hours of videos, live performances, previously unreleased and archived material.

The first of a three-disc set puts us front and center at the Town and Country club in LA. Filmed August 14th, 1990 we find Dickinson fronting a crack shot band including (pre-Maiden) guitarist Janick Gers, Andy Carr (bass) and Dickie Fliszar (drums). The singer is in superb shape still shrouded in his trademark lion-main, open vest and leather trousers. Granted the song he’s pushing off the Tattooed Millionaire long-player are still a long way off from the finesse he would deliver nearly a decade later with Roy Z, but the show still has merit. There is the Samson barnstormer “Riding with the Angels,” the Lindisfarne folk classic “Fog on the Tyne,” Deep Purple’s “Black Night” and the Mott the Hoople cover “All the Young Dudes.” In between Dickinson and company run through the Millionaire disc with a slight change from its tracking order and only leave “No Lies,” Spirit of Joy,” and “Darkness Be My Friend” out of the set. As expected he closes the show with a rousing run through Maiden’s “Bring Your Daughter to the Slaughter.”

Also on disc 1 is the rare Skunkworks footage from two shows in Spain, 1996. Skunkworks was the rather awkward one off trip Dickinson made with the fresh faces of guitarist Alex Dickson, bassist Chris Dale and drummer Alessandro Elena. Most fans will remember it was prior to this release the singer cropped his infamous locks as to distance himself from “the Maiden years.” The band took Bruce in a completely different direction – more of a Queensryche/Dream Theatre type of delivery. The set is interesting especially for fans that never got to see this particular line up and does host a couple tracks from Balls to Picasso including the blazing “Tears of the Dragon.”

Disc 2 has been out there in a number of different configurations as a bootleg. This reviewer got a copy in Buffalo, NY at a record swap meet a few months after the Sao Paulo gig in 1999. For Bruce, this is the best he’s been since Maiden. Riding high on the release of his critically praised Chemical Wedding, Dickinson’s songwriting has returned to its smart, mystical wizardry. Tribe of Gypsy’s guitarist Roy Z is now his partner in crime and along with the addition of Maiden six-gun Adrian Smith, they create the quintessential Dickinson solo set. Disc 3 packs 14 promo videos, a number of in-depth interviews, the Tyranny of Souls EPK and for those who remember, Samson’s 15-minute "Biceps of Steel" opus. All you’ll ever need.

Website: Sanctuary Records, Bruce Dickinson



JUNE 2006

RAINBOW
Live In Munich 1977
Eagle Records

For those craving a ‘real’ rock and roll release from guitar wizard Ritchie Blackmore, this one might just do the trick. Since his departure into the fantasy world of Renaissance rock ten years ago, fans have been left scraping for anything remotely reminiscent of the guitar player’s former hard rock glory. As listed in the title, this live recording was taken from the Munich show in November 1977. The lineup at the time included ex-Deep Purple man Blackmore, Ronnie James Dio and drummer Cozy Powell. A shake up in the pseudo-original ’76 lineup saw bassist Jimmy Bain and keyboard player Tony Carey on the outs. Australian native and ex-Widowmaker Bob Daisley was then recruited with Symphonic Slam’s David Stone on keys. The framework behind the recording finds the group between records. Already building a strong fan-base after Blackmore’s first solo effort, Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and Rising the group had just finished what would be called Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll. However, the release of said album was delayed to give the band time to promote On Stage, a live platter recorded for Japan but eventually released worldwide.

The tour started in September ’77 and included the freshly penned “Kill the King” written primarily as a show opener. Plagued by a giant neon rainbow as a stage prop, the band lumbered from town to town playing songs from the first two records with Deep Purple’s “Mistreated” thrown in for nostalgia. When the costly production got to Munich, plans were to film the show for broadcast on Rockpalast, Germany’s version of VH1 twenty years before it’s time. Assault charges in Vienna almost prevented Blackmore from making the gig. The delay caused the show to go on late but the intensity of being held in an Austrian jail cell comes out in his fierce playing and is here for all to enjoy. Leading the charge is the remarkably dense “Kill the King,” a grinding metal rocker which stands as a monument to the power of the Dio/Blackmore era.

To this day Dio adds “Mistreated” to his set and listening to this ’77 version it’s easy to understand why. It’s a slow, passionate, blues-based burner. Blackmore has lots of room to breathe within the tracks eleven minutes. You can hear him push and pull the audience as he takes full control. It also showcases Dio’s amazing pipes especially as he growls/screams following Blackmore’s solo and prior to the third verse. “Sixteen Century Greensleeves” is a classic example of the difference between Purple and Rainbow. Blackmore is free to roam. Unconstrained, he moves from the delicate intro and whimsical baroque melody to the crushing metallic chords of an urgent masterpiece. A similar mood is wrapped around the ballad-esque “Catch the Rainbow” leading to the big windup “Long Live Rock ‘N’ Roll” on disc one.

One of the greatest rock riffs ever kicks off disc two in “Man on the Silver Mountain.” Following Blackmore’s progressive signature, Cozy Powell bashes a hole right through the chest while the memorable hook sets fire to the track. Exploring all 14-minutes both Bob Daisley and Dave Stone open up extended jams with Blackmore darting in and out with the accuracy of a rattlesnake. “Starstruck” sneaks in the last three minutes as an added bonus. It’s here that the listener can appreciate the pristine acoustics of the hall. Dio’s voice comes through with clarity and brilliance especially during his throatier moments. A 29-minute “Still I’m Sad” from the first album and encore 10-minute “Do You Close Your Eyes” from the second display how this group have gelled into a stunning jam band. Watch for the soon to be released DVD from which this disc was lifted and take the time to read the classy booklet with liner notes from accomplished Deep Purple archivist and historian Simon Robinson.

Website: Eagle Records



MAY 2006

DORO
Warrior Soul
Locomotive Records

Once again our favorite warrior princess has returned with another gust of heavy metal fury. Doro, the band, is ex-Warlock singer Doro Pesch joined by bassist Nick Douglas, guitarist Joe Taylor, keyboardist Oliver Palotai and drummer Johnny Dee. The last ten years has seen Doro build into a fine-tuned outfit. Through much touring her lineup has remained consistent and her voice has never sounded better. Warrior Soul comes hot off the heels of her film debut in Luke Gasser’s Anuk ~ The Warrior’s Way, with the title track adapted for the movie’s soundtrack. The record itself takes a very personal direction, a return to her roots if you will, beginning with the opening track, “You’re My Family” where she pledges her allegiance to her fans. The grinding, “Creep into My Brain” could have easily come off the Love Me in Black sessions with its steel grind and the melodic, fist-pumping “Above the Ashes,” made for stadiums. The music is very straight-forward, less experimental (industrial) than in the past and back to basics. A real rock/metal monster.

Joe Taylor (g) and Nick Douglas (b) earn their paychecks as true players even getting co-writing credit on several of the disc’s 12 compositions. Their assault is relentless as they barrel through “Haunted Heart,” “Thunderspell,” “My Majesty” and the English/German-song “Ungebrochen.” The guitar crunch fattens up the sound while Johnny Dee, one of the best drummers in the genre, packs a huge wallop in the driver’s seat. “Warrior Soul,” the song, is more of a mid-tempo theatrical piece with a modern twist on the lyrics merging the past with the present. You can tell it was written for a movie as Doro vocally paints a cinematic anthem. Her signature emotion runs high on the riveting love ballads, “Heaven I See” as well as the Scorpion-esque, “Shine On.” You can actually hear the tears in her voice

Lasting over twenty years in the music business proves Doro’s warrior spirit. In her childhood growing up in Düsseldorf, Germany, she battled pulmonary tuberculosis and later fought to be taken seriously as one of the few female “rock/metal” singers to emerge from a male dominated culture. She now rules supreme as the only female left standing among the ranks of Rob Halford, Ronnie Dio, Bruce Dickinson and Udo Dirkschneider. She refuses to compromise, always focusing on the quality of her work. She dedicates herself to her fans; however on this record she shares that dedication to her dad. “In Liebe Und Freundschaft,” a fitting tribute, sung in German, to her father who passed away several years ago. “He was a truck driver,” she says in an online interview. “I grew up in the truck so we were very close. I wanted this song to be for him.”

Website: Locomotive Records



APRIL 2006

THE LAST VEGAS
Seal The Deal
Get Hip Records

Just in time for baseball season, The Last Vegas knock one out of Wrigley field with their sophomore release, Seal The Deal. Fully stuffed and oven-roasted with prime riffs and leather scented crotch-rock, the Chicago five-piece build on the muscle of last year’s Lick ‘Em and Leave ‘Em. Nothing new here, just good ‘ol in-your-face rock with twin guitars flailing over a sonic, balls-to-the-wall rhythm section. Yet, it’s the way they do it that gets you hooked. Opening seconds of “All The Way” windup with a catchy chord exchange running down the neck of a beat-up Les Paul. “Ain’t A Good Man and “Breaking Away” also get their fix with dirty, greasy, straight from the street swagger. The boys find utter bliss in fusing punk, sleaze metal and psycho-stoner elements into a fine bag of tricks.

Title track, “Seal The Deal” finds its groove directly between AC/DC and Kiss, loud and proud and follows you home after an all-nighter with your best friend, Jagermeister. “Better Off Dead” tosses in an old school mono echo effect before kicking your teeth in. It also boasts a tinge of country in the band’s strut - kinda like our friends The Lazy Cowgirls or Nashville Pussy. Both guns go blazing in “We’ll Drink There” with high-octane gutter rock that spills over from the ‘80s raunchier side. It even comes complete with a massive drum solo. Can’t help but hear the bar room swill in “Raw Dog” and “Grave Situation.” If I didn’t know better, I’d think The Last Vegas were touring with Ohio’s American Dog. Check out closing track “King The Red Light” for a seven-minute space odyssey in the vein of Jane’s Addiction.

Websites: The Last Vegas, Get Hip Records



MARCH 2006

NEBULA
Apollo
Liquor and Poker

Moving more and more away from their psychedelic stoner roots, Nebula deliver a powerhouse rock record in Apollo. This is the L.A. trio’s fourth full release (not including the Sun Creature EP and Lowrider/ Nebula split) and their second for Liquor and Poker. Let it not be forgotten Nebula are built on the chops of ex-Fu Manchu band mates guitarist Eddie Glass and drummer Ruben Romano, so a little of that early desert influence still permeates through. The intro “Orbit” for instance, kicks off the record fading in mid-song as if we just joined the band half way through a cosmic jam – a jam which picks up again as the closing track. Yet, it all comes into focus when “Loose Cannon” locks in on the back of a classic Fu-like riff.

“Lightbringer” and “Controlled” follow suit keeping the So Cal head music rattling around in your brain. The band are on equal footing when it comes to individual contributions. Glass is certainly the focal point with mammoth power chords, ‘60s psych solos and his Alice Cooper-like wail. But bass and drums are not far behind. Check out the rhythmic patter in “Fever Frey” or “The Alchemist” which run a garage rock gauntlet or the heavy metal pounding of “Fruit of My Soul”. There’s also the inclusion of keys that extend out over the haze of “Future Days” in an ELP kind of way.

If you catch these guys live, suggest they do “Suffragette City.” It will rip your head off. “Ghost Rider” might be the band’s own attempt to capture a similar vibe. It has the same frantic beat with Glass’ ferocious guitar buzzing away. Riot’s “Road Racin’ also comes to mind. “Wired” finds the same guitar crunch and through only 55-seconds, it embraces all that was cool about 1977. Adjusting the records tempo are the more subdued “Trapezium Procession” and jazzy “Decadent Garden” both giving breath and texture to a record already way ahead of its time.

Website: Nebula, Liquor and Poker



FEBRUARY 2006

HELLACOPTERS
Rock & Roll Is Dead
Liquor and Poker Records

It’s been a rocky four years for our favorite band from Sweden. Due to contract loops with Universal records (which are still proving problematic) the accomplished five-piece have had difficulty maintaining a visual force in the US. Finally, inking a distribution deal with Liquor and Poker last year, the Hellacopters are in a much better place and now plan an extensive American tour. There is some catching up to do. Since their last US tour they have released three records (By the Grace of God, Cream of the Crap Vol 2 and Rock & Roll is Dead). They scored a couple Swedish Grammy’s and toured with The Foo Fighters, Kiss and The Rolling Stones.

Current release Rock & Roll is Dead brings them firmly into the Stones’ camp. They’ve been dabbling with this direction over the past few records in songs like “Down on Free Street”, “Rainy Days Revisited” and “Toys and Flavors,” but this new collection of songs is a total throw-back of the Stones’ “Let It Bleed” record. The Black Crowes did a similar treatment on Southern Harmony and Musical Companion (‘92) - sexy licks, backup singers and plenty of honky-tonk piano. In essence, they found the devil and beat him at his own game. “Give me righteous, but not too much” screams singer Nick Andersson in “Bring It On Home,” then let the melee begin.

“Before The Fall” opens the whole affair with a classic Chuck Berry riff settling into a Beach Boy groove - amped up to eleven. The Stoogy-like  singles “Everything’s on TV” and “I’m in the Band” bring the listener into the inner circle as they poke fun at society and themselves. Says Andersson in “I’m in the Band”, “I may not look like Jaggar / May not have money in the bank / I got a pair of cheap sunglasses and a castle made of sand… I got obligations to my screaming female fans.”

When we spoke to guitarist Robert Dahlqvist (aka Strings) last year he hinted at the fact they (he and Nick) were listening to a lot of soul. That comes full force in “No Angel to lay me away” which could be the twin sister of  “Gimme Shelter” - a nasty little number that drips with a sexy grind to a slow build before serving up a wicked chorus. That same Stonesy vibe follows in “Monkeyboy”, “Murder on my Mind” and the brooding almost Faces-like “Leave it Alone.”

Punk roots still fly in “Bring it on Home”, “Nothing Terrible New” and “Put Out The Fire,” yet there’s also an old school southern rock thread in tracks like “I Might Come see you Tonight”, “Time got no Time to Wait for Me” and the more lyrical “Make it Tonight” There’s a certain Skynyrd pride in their southern rock harmonics as they boast “Here comes the baddest in the land.”

Wedsites: Hellacopters, Liquor and Poker



JANUARY 2006

MOTHER SUPERIOR
Moanin’
Bad Reputation Records

Those familiar with Mother Superior know that the trio are very active backing both Henry Rollins and Daniel Lanois. Yet, on their own, they are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to gut-wrenching rock and roll. Since 1995 they have been dishing out their brand of blues-based hard rock in lethal doses. Sometimes they move into a more psychedelic phase, other times more Humble Pie/Free or with Moanin’ a hard rock almost heavy metal fury. This record picks up some of the more aggressive moments of Deep (1998) and even Heavy Soul (1996), packages them all into one cohesive unit and shovels it in your head for sheer overload.

An all out assault on the senses is the best way to describe this masterpiece complete with some mood-setting sound bytes. There’s the string arrangements that begin and end the record, the rain effects on Jack the Ripper, and the acoustic whiplash in Devil Wind. Undeniable is the thunderous rhythm section courtesy of bassist Marcus Blake and new drummer Matt Tecu – a primeval support to the dangerous riffs of master Jim Wilson. Wilson has a voice made for rock and roll, gruff, raspy and full of passion - at times he can sound like Chris Cornell (check out his range on Little Motor Sister - pure Auidoslave) or a white Jimi Hendrix.

And the riffs keep coming…there are the massive Kinks’ hooks in Forkintheroad, and some serious garage nastiness in Get that Girl. AC/DC meets Montrose back the hard rock attack when the volume goes up on A Hole, and Meltdown. There’s even a bit of UFO undercurrent heard in Not For me to Say. Comparisons aside Mother Superior may have just delivered the record of their career. They have kept the songs memorable with attention to song craft, passionate lyrics and exquisite musicianship. The first absolute must for 2006!

Website: www.mother-superior.com


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