JOE LYNN TURNER
Under Cover 2
Pony Canyon/Shrapnel

Who better to head up a king-sized portion of monster cover tunes than Mr. Joe Lynn Turner? Most of his career he’s been covering other people’s songs, from Ronnie James Dio and Graham Bonnet (Rainbow) to Ian Gillan (Deep Purple) and Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen). On ‘Under Cover 2,’ Turner’s voice unlocks the true meaning of passion—in some cases doing a better job than the original (‘Lady Double Dealer’ and ‘Lost In Hollywood’).

Turner’s vocal style is a mix of soul, blues and rock. His years of training are evident in his versatility to handle classics such as ‘Rock Bottom’ (UFO), ‘Mississippi Queen’ (Mountain), and the dynamic ‘Waiting For a Girl Like You’ (Foreigner). His ability to take a song and make it his own digs in deep with ‘Wishing Well’ (Free), ‘Movin’ On’ (Bad Co), and ‘Fool For Your Loving’ (Whitesnake).

This is a tougher set of recordings than those featured on the first ‘Under Cover 1.’ It’s obvious that Turner enjoys the opportunity to explore a song and convey its meaning. The production and packaging are first-rate and the song selection is well-rounded showcasing a brilliant singer.

Website:
www.joelynnturner.com

DEREK ST.HOLMES
Now & Then
Independent

Ted Nugent sidekick and star vocalist Derek St. Holmes belts out a clean selection of home-brewed wonders on his first solo disc, ‘Now & Then.’ St. Holmes, last seen on the 1997 Nuge tour, is not one to sit on his laurels as songs like ‘Sunsets,’ ‘Standing in the Rain,’ and ‘Dr. Love’ so clearly point out. St Holmes’ deep R&B roots bathe this ten-track CD with traditional Motown (including a nod to Stax singer Otis Redding) while tearing it up on the guitar front.

Nugent himself considers St. Holmes a soul brother both in delivery and style. Together they conquered a corner of the world, and with ‘Now & Then,’ it’s obvious where a lot of the shared talent comes from. Derek’s Michigan roots flood the disc along with lyrics that reflect a sultry swagger winding its way through each track: “I’m the prescription for your affliction / Forget rejection I’ve got the affection / Just call Dr. Love.”

It’s been a long time comin,’ but St. Holmes is ready to step out of the Nugent spotlight. With ease he embraces the lead role creating a disc that nurtures and caresses his voice. ‘Just an Illusion,’ ‘In Too Deep,’ ‘Sometimes,’ ‘My Turn to Cry,’ and ‘Sheila’ propel the listener to an old smoke-filled Chicago/Detroit blues club.

Website: www.derekstholmes.com

THE KING
Gravelands
Ark 21 Records

Comedy has a way of sneaking into tragedy. Shakespeare figured that out years ago. Ark 21, Miles Copeland’s label, takes it one step further signing an Elvis impersonator (Jim Brown) who covers famous dead guys as only the King could with amazing originality. ‘Graveland,’ though cheeky, is a big top production of Brown’s road show featuring familiar radio all-stars done as if the pelvis were still with us. The first time through, it’s all giggles and smiles, but with repeated plays it becomes quite infectious.

Vegas Elvis was known for his souped up renditions of the hits of the day and this is where ‘Graveland’ takes flight. Nirvana’s ‘Come As You Are,’ Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York,’ and Otis Redding’s ‘Dock Of The Bay’ all get a decent treatment leaning on the baritone’s R&B element. ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ fits in perfectly with The King’s southern drawl. AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ gets a full-blown Vegas workup complete with a ‘2001 Space Odyssey’ refrain. ‘Can't Help Falling In Love’ sneaks into the very reggae ‘No Woman, No Cry,’ and ‘Voodoo Child’ is a wicked little chiller.

Website:
Not available

CHARLIE
Here Comes Trouble
Renaissance Records

Buckle in for a keyboard-laden blast from the past. In 1976 Charlie started off as a rather soft-rock outfit releasing ‘Fantasy Girl’ on Polydor Records. With each subsequent release they gradually introduced hard-edged guitars into their material. They hit with a minor single off their second album, ‘No Second Chance,’ called ‘Johnny Hold Back,’ and toured with the Doobie Brothers, increasing their popularity. Doobie engineer Shep Lonsdale joined the group in 1978 solidifying the group’s sound as a superior slice of North American pop hard rock.

‘Here Comes Trouble’ was the band’s sixth release and settled in comfortably with fellow 70s AOR heavyweights Firefall, Ambrosia, and the Little River Band. Renaissance has acquired the rights to release all the band’s back catalog giving the Charlie boys one more chance at a royalty check. Pre-Journey three-part harmonies layered over catchy hooks and decorated with over-the-top keyboards endeared fans. Choice moments are ‘Five Years,’ ‘Take The Money,’ ‘Only Dreaming,’ ‘Zero,’ and ‘Don’t Let Go.’

Website: Not available

SOD
Bigger Than The Devil
Nuclear Blast Records

If Hell spawned a bastard seed, SOD (Storm troopers of Death) would be its name. Fourteen years after the band’s first release, Billy Milano (v), Scott Ian (g), Danny Lilker (b) and Charlie Benante (d), decided to record album number two just to see who was left of the 900,000 folk who snapped up their first album, ‘Speak English or Die.’ ‘Bigger Than the Devil’ doesn’t skip a beat in reacquainting its listeners to what made SOD a cherished hunk of riff-age. The songs, all 25 of ‘em, come at ya hard, fast, and heavy. ‘The Crackhead Song,’ ‘Kill the Assholes,’ ‘Evil is In,’ ‘Free Dirty Needles,’ and ‘Shenanigans’ envelope the band’s hardcore backbone and slapstick humor.

“The band is something of an eternal enigma which shows its ugly face from time to time,” admits screamer Billy Milano on the band’s web page. “We all felt that if it didn’t seem natural we wouldn’t do it. It was and still feels fresh and alive.” The band’s last tour was in 1992 where they recorded ‘Live at Budokan.’ It marked one of only a handful of shows SOD has ever done. With ‘Bigger Than the Devil,’ the foursome plan an extensive North American tour this fall.

Website:
www.nuclearblastusa.com

CJSS
2-4-1
Leviathan Records

From the vaults of Leviathan records comes the long awaited reissue of the two CJSS classics ‘World Gone Mad’ and ‘Praise the Loud.’ The vinyl versions have been vastly appreciated for nearly 15 years as cult favorites. Their release on CD marks a just reward for a band whose day was overshadowed by its famed guitarist, David T. Chastain. CJSS (David Chastain, Russel Jinkens, Mike Skimmerhorn, and Les Sharp) was formed in 1984 when members of two local Cincinnati bands—Spike and Prizoner—collided. Spike had gained quite a reputation, so when the new group (CJSS) debut at local haunt Bogart’s, over a thousand rabid fans showed up.

CJSS’s first recording ‘World Gone Mad’ (1985) introduced the vast talents of Chastain to a worldwide audience. The chainsaw burn of ‘Destiny’ and ‘Welcome to Damnation,’ as well as the eloquent ‘Run to Another Day,’ paved the way for the 1985 masterpiece ‘Praise the Loud.’ Both records wrote the blueprint for a host of bands to follow in the next decade of metal. Production on this release is top-notch adding clarity and punch to a choice piece of rock history.

Website:
www.leviathanrecords.com

KEVIN CHALFANT
Running with the Wind
Clique Records

Kevin Chalfant has one of those voices built for radio. Like Jimi Jamison of Survivor and Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, Chalfant radiates the essence of pop rock. First singing for 70s rock trio 707, Chalfant cut his teeth opening the Super Jams tour in 1981. The Super Jams lineup consisted of FM heavies John Cougar, Ted Nugent, Rainbow, Huey Lewis and the News, Loverboy, and Foreigner and performed to 50,000-70,000 a night. 707 hit with the single ‘Megaforce’ which rocketed to #11 on the Billboard chart.

Ten years later, Chalfant formed The Storm with Journey rhythm section Ross Valory and Steve Smith, and adding Journey’s keyboardist Greg Rolie in an all out effort to rule the airwaves. In 1993 The Storm was invited to join a reformed Journey for the Thunder Road benefit. Steve Perry was unable to attend the event, so Kevin stepped in to sing many of the band’s chart-topping hits. After two monster records with The Storm, Chalfant has recorded his first solo effort, ‘Running with the Wind’. Jam packed with gutsy radio-friendly gems, the record’s ‘Save Me Tonight,’ ‘Love Changes Everything,’ ‘Wild Thang,’ and ‘Learning to Fly’ push the singer to the forefront of his genre with polished vibrancy.

Website:
www.CliqueRecords.com

DEAD-END KIDZ
DEK
Independent

Cutting Edge contributor and gruff-voiced leader of Dead-End Kidz, John Erigo has made good on his promise to bring the world a dyed-in-wool assault on the tympanic membrane. The Dead-End Kidz have been kicking around for the better part of three years in one form or another. As enormous Kiss fans, it’s not surprising their self-produced and financed debut has a familiar ring to it. ‘The Power (of Rock and Roll)’ and ‘I Gotta Know’ could easily sit next to a Gene Simmons bit complete with comedy-laden lyrics as a bow to the bat-winged one.

‘Heartless,’ ‘Lost in the Darkness,’ and ‘I Know What I Want,’ kick ass with a solid guitar crunch and anthem-like choruses. ‘Kicked In the Head’ turns it up a notch or two with real fire-in-the-belly resolution. Guitarists Scott Carlson and Michael Lo Bianco join rhythm section Kevin Edell (b) and Tom Mahalko (d) to give Erigo a thick bed of power-rock tonnage for casting his vocals. A compliment to Long Island’s rock history.

Website: Not available

K-FLOOR
Non Filtered
Beanstalk Productions

Currently, K-Floor is defining Philadelphia’s blues scene. They are four guys barely out of high school tearing it up at the local haunts with true conviction and complete respect for the blues. The band take their name from the time-worn Howlin’ Wolf classic ‘Killing Floor’ and put a surprising aged stain on their first recorded outing, ‘Non-Filtered.’ Formed in Kansas City in 1996 by Nick Schnebeien (guitars and vocals) and Chris Schutz (bass), the roots of K-Floor’s direction were vaguely mapped out. Both were keen aficionados of the blues, but as the duo became a trio, they gigged out the momentum of a twelve-bar structure, giving them an anchor.

By 1997, K-Floor relocated to Philly and added drummer Zil and Justin DiFebbo (piano and organ). The band dug in playing three to four nights a week eventually winning the title of Philly’s #1 Blues Band. Their self-produced CD ‘Non-Filtered’ is the best of their live set including the brilliant ‘Thieves Journal,’ ‘Ticket to Hell,’ and ‘Break Of Day.’ Seven originals and three covers fill the disc. Closing the CD is a heated eight-minute plus bonus track following the band’s cover of Eddie Boyd’s ‘Five Long Years.’ Every night they play, K-Floor steals the spotlight with a hotter-than-hell live show that’ll blow you away. Don’t miss these guys live!

Website: www.k-floor.com