All Over The Road (DVD)
Colonial Canine

What a thrill ride for fans of this dirty, drunken, tornado of a three-piece out of Columbus, Ohio. All Over The Road is a “dogumentary” that captures the visual circus of this ten-year-old bar band in all it heinous glory. All the classics are here including “Shitkicker,” “Workin’ Man” and “Can’t Throw Stones” …and, of course, their tribute to all things alcoholic like: “Drank Too Much,” Just An Alcoholic” and “Drinking About You.” The disc peels away the layers that make the band tick with hysterical interviews, backstage foolery and their infamous promo videos. Lots of live footage from around the globe (from pro, to multi-camera, to grainy bootlegs) that prove the power trio can deliver a wicked set with hook-filled songs, razor-sharp playing and King Kong-like stage presence. Their story is narrated by world renowned Sir Loin O’ Beef (singer Mike Hannon in disguise) and walks the viewer through all the years of Dogmania. Not only does the disc do justice to the band’s history but allows fans tangible access to their heroes.

“We’re bad-ass hard-core to the bone,” says Hannon (bassist, vocalist) in the song “Shitkicker” which pretty much sets the tone for the disc. Guitarist Steve Theado is a marvel as he juggles blazing solos and grinding riffs on his snakeskin Melody Maker. His style is uniquely his own merging menacing biker rock with blood-thirsty punk. His chainsaw effect on “Barely Half Alive” in front of 20,000 crazed LeMons, French bikers is a wonder to behold. A couple classics get thrown in like the homophobic “Don’t You be a Fag – Stand Up and Be A Man” (complete title) which was filmed at Alrose Villa, the same club Dimebag was gunned down. The gritty, black and white video, “Working Man” keeps the fun in the crunch as rubbish blows around on stage throughout the song. Then it’s back to songs about drinkin and fuckin’ Here’s where drummer Keith Pickens battles for center stage with his sledgehammer bass kick and a volley of toms that roll out like machinegun fire.

A near classic is “Urinary Tracks with Eric ‘Mo’ Moore” leading into “Drank Too Much” Moore is the leader of the legendary Godz and his gravel voice is perfect for the lead-in to the chorus. It’s fall-down hysterical watching him taking ques in the studio. Hannon’s voice is less abrasive but still more Gene than Ace as Kiss fans would call it. Still it’s Hannon’s bellow that gives the band a certain blue-collar charm. His history with Dangerous Toys and Salty Dog is discussed with long time friend and sometimes bandmate Jason McMaster (Dangerous Toys, Broken Teeth). Jake the beer-drinking dog makes his cameo in the Stonesy “Rock-N-Roll Dog,” probably the best song the band has written to date. And who else but the “Dog” could make the kazoo an instrument of mass distinction. The immortal and politically incorrect tale about how “sometime you win, sometimes you lose called “Sometimes You Eat the Pussy…Sometimes the Pussy Eats You” will put an end to just about any party. Those unfamiliar with the naughty video will appreciate the double-entendre of a drunken midget in a cat suit chasing the band around with meat cleaver and fork in paw. An “absolute” must.

Website: American Dog

Symphonic Live
Eagle Records

Released first as a DVD a couple years ago, Symphonic Live is a special audio 2-disc orchestral run through the pages of progressive rock giants Yes. A monumental undertaking with the European Festival Orchestra conducted by Wilhelm Keitel, the 2001 set offers up some of the bands brighter moments including “Close To The Edge,” “Long Distance Runaround” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Founded in 1968 and boasting over 30 albums there is a massive amount of material to choose from of which they select 14. The band including Jon Anderson (vocals), Steve Howe (guitars), Chris Squire (bass) and Alan White (drums) use the orchestra to paint a lush, vivid landscape. Together they explore innovative time signatures, deepening textures and sonic radiance that sounds better than many of their previous efforts with such accompaniment. Indeed “Overture” opens like a Peter Jackson film complete with surround-sound balance and swelling musical layers that crescendo when Anderson’s voice releases “Closer To The Edge.”

The band first started using orchestration on their second LP Time and a Word (1970). Many thought the format a perfect combination but it has worked less than succeeded. There is an air of pompous overload and if Rick Wakeman had been involved it might have gone there. However, from the 1971 “Starship Trooper” to the 2005 “Magnification” the result is surprisingly stable. The 23-minute “Gates of Delirium” merging into Howe’s intricate solo expression is one of the brighter stand-out moments. Another is Chris Squire’s melodic bass-playing that can groove, lay back and kick up its heels without disruption to the composition. The second disc leans heavily on the pop favorites “I’ve Seen All Good People,” “Owner of A Lonely Heart” and “Roundabout.” The orchestra adds color but not much else from the originals. The strings are far more effective in the longer “Ritual” and “And You and I.” Missing is “The Calling” and the dynamic “Changes” which might have landed a bit more flare.

Website: Yes, Eagle Records

From Hell To Texas
SPV Records

Raising hell and back to kick your ass one more time are the trailer-trash hellions of Georgia Nashville Pussy. Touring from coast to coast with Reverend Horton Heat gave the band an opportunity to try out new material in front of a notoriously rough crowd. Once they fine tune songs like “Drunk Driving Man,” “I’m So High” and “Pray For The Devil” they made their way down to Willie Nelson’s Pedernales studio in Texas and cut the beast in less than a month. Blaine Cartwright (vocals, guitar), Ruyter Suys (guitar), Karen Cuda (bass) and Jeremy Thompson (drums) kept it raw and focused. Says Cartwright in their press release, “We allowed ourselves time to give the songs the chance to turn out as perfect as possible.” Slamming AC/DC groove into ZZ Top-meets-Nugent riffs has given the band a swagger and firepower that’s as combustible as green chilies and refried beans. “Speed Machine” proves it as it fires up all six and burns rubber for three solid minutes. Cartwright’s voice is as rough and gritty as they come but sung over Ruyter’s heaving chest-filled power chords puts a whole new meaning on ‘nice riffs’.

“Born to die in a rock and roll band” starts off the title track with Thompson whipping up a tight shuffle and head pounding beat. The whiskey-fueled lyrics add plenty of nitro to the fire as the band storm through their southern rock fix. Lots of “western samples” mixed between songs – like the cracking of a whip, a stampede, rattlesnake shake, beer bottles clanging together and the spin of a revolver. Even Ruyter’s playing style has a more country flare to it but it’s Cuda who really springs to action here. The bass-heavy Thin LIzzy-esque “Ain’t You Business,” AC/DC-styled “Late Great USA” and massively catchy “Why, Why, Why” give Cuda a chance to strut her stuff while lending her vocals as a backup singer. Granted the record breaks no new territory, it does however raise the bar of the songwriting. And, though packed with the crass that put the band on the map, it’s songs are some of the best beer swigging, dry humping, lines of bullshit we’ve heard yet this year. Start with “Get Me A Hit Before I Go,” work your way to “Stone Cold Down” and finishes off with “Pay For The Devil.”

Website: Nashville Pussy, SPV

Adult Situations
Independent Release

New York City-based SOS recently sent us their debut Adult Situations. The disc is 12-tracks of in-your-face rock and rolla with an undercurrent of hardcore at their roots. Obvious influences run the gamete from 70’s rock to stoner to alternative. Opening track “Walk of Shame” hangs on the shadow of Fu Manchu with a Faith No More bass-line. Then we jump to “Hypoxyphilia” with loads of cowbell and a mash-up alt metal mix. They seem to flash back to the early ‘90s when metal and grunge were dueling it out for supremacy - so there’s a Seattle cross-over that’s not been heard in some time. “Do You Want To Go Bowling?” is a clear example of riffing it up with a metal crunch followed by a funk beat and bizarre Aesop Fable-like lyrics (“I got a troll under my bridge, I’m bowling for my life”). A couple tracks really stand out including the intense “Fear & Ferocity” and the lumberjack swinging of ”Daddy Like.” Groove is the band’s saving grace, where even in the guitars they find a tremendous sense of swagger. “Life Of Love And Peace And Harmony” has that infectious chug, while “Half Mast” and “Wasteland Temptress” are more punishing with bass and drum chewing at the floor. Both “The Bane Of Joe Smolinksky” and “The Thing Is...” might leave you scratching your head… but stick with it, like the Who, it’s an acquired taste.

Website: SOS

The Bull
WorldSound Records

Third in the trilogy for LA-based metal rockers Carbon 9, The Bull rages with unexpected delight. Kicking off with the Predator/Apocalyptic “What Is It We’re Made Of” casts a haunting shadow of brooding emotion before the tribal drums merge with the electronic keyboards that explode into Mr. Roboto-era Styx. Led by vocalist Stacy Quinealty, whose vision is a man-against-machine takeover, comes into clear focus with Darwin DeVitis’ distorted guitar and the punishing rhythm section of bassist Omar Brancato and drummer Matty Milani. When they lock horns on the power single “Something Like Me” it’s a tingling whiplash of melodic fury. Cerebrally, you’re linking Queensryche with Tool and Nine Inch Nails with Marilyn Manson. This one track is so addicting it will take over your entire ipod. The band paints with a broad brush that showcases a high level of musicianship, while keeping the songs rooted in a gritty hook that clamps down and won’t let go.

“It’s a take on a hostile machine takeover kinda like Terminator, but more mental,” says Quinealty calling in from the band’s recent NASCAR performance. “We’re known for our live shows where we use tribal beats, sequencing video, crazy props and grinding guitars. When we mesh together, our separate influences come out it a combination of styles and sonic fusion.” Hailed as one of the hardest working bands in LA, it’s no surprise they all met at Universal Studios as professional performers. “Since we first started we wanted to be a theatrical band, not for a gimmick - it was passion.” A track taken from their stage show is ’s “Mother”. “We’ve always wanted to do a cover but never had the right one. Mother clicked for us and was something we could make our own.” Several of the record’s 15 tracks are fueled by intense storytelling. There is the pain of “Butterflies In My Head,” the cold, bass-driven “Mary Mannequin” and openly rebellious “I’m Not Broken” which reads more like a plow through a diary than harvested debauchery.

“We like the distortion of the guitar and the sledgehammer beats,” continues Quinealty, “but we also like a melodic vocal and a soul reaching chorus.” Mixed by Frank Gryner (Rob Zombie, Perfect Circle, Powerman 5000, Tommy Lee) and mastered by Tom Baker, The Bull has a wide range of well-crafted peaks and valleys. The undulating rhythm of the title track, the exotic “Loving You” and the Native American peyote dance of “Tongues,” all explore unique passages. “Societies fascinate me,” says Quinealty. “I’ve traveled all over the world and seen how everyone is pretty much the same, we’re all just trying to survive. So our music has a tribal influence, an industrial influence, the anger of distorted guitars… a melodic chorus. Within the styles we created emotional changes within the music and allow it to develop. We let the song sing its way through its own emotion.” Fans of progressive, industrial metal will find Carbon 9 a thought provoking and powerful slice of steel.

Website: Carbon 9, WorldSound Records

Pills And Ammo
Independent Release

A couple years ago, when cruising the annals of CD Baby, I came across Rock‘n’Roll Man (2000) by JoeTown claiming to be a cross between AC/DC and Ted Nugent. That damn disc was so addicting I wore it out in less than a year. To my delight the crazy Connecticut firecracker is back with his second, self-produced, self-recorded outing that’s just as contagious as the first. Joe is a grass-roots kinda guy. He works hard at his day job, comes home – plugs his amp in and jams all night. On the weekends he’s out the door playing gigs up and down the Eastern corridor dedicating his life to the rock and roll demon inside his soul. Ya gotta respect a guy like that - completely committed, come hell or high water. With Pills and Ammo Joe’s not resting on his haunches - he’s pushing the envelope. His augmented Bon Scott vocals fill the room as he tears into “Hole In My Soul”. The guitars are huge and bassist Keefer and drummer C-Bone rip the roof right off the joint. The crunching madness follows straight through to the raspy closer “My Anger Knows No Bounds.”

Joe splits his time between is solo project and American Trash, a nasty little rock and roll band that blows into town long enough to drink it dry and shag the female population. Oh, and their singer is in the Trans Siberian Orchestra. How’s that for star power? This explains why it’s been eight years between records for JoeTown. It’s also why Pills and Ammo sounds more mature, honed and crafted. Says Joe in our recent sit-down, “Rock’n’Roll Man was a ‘down-a-couple-shots and throw-it-down’ kinda record with lyrics that don’t get a lot deeper than that. Basically, it was a party record. This record is the aftermath of the party.” So we get songs a bit more introspective like Sabbath moniker “All My Angels” about a guy that snaps at his job and goes postal. Stepping next in line is ‘Broken Man,” a good blend of Alice In Chains and NIN. “When you get yourself out of the way and let it happen - that’s when you get the best results,” confirms Joe. Who proves a wicked ass Van Halen solo like Tres Mujeres can sit next to a Joe Perry-like gonzo slidefest in “Lonely Town Blues” with class and style.

Second number “Finger” is the king’s crown in this eleven-tracker. A modern rocker where the bass leads the way into a huge guitar hook. Part Audioslave, part Pat Travers the song melts more brain cells than a quart of Jack. Even with the borrowed lyrics ‘snortin’ whiskey, drinkin’ cocaine’ the song blisters with sonic heat. “We all got together in a room and the riff just popped up,” says Joe. “I was writing down lyrics as fast as I could. It was written and recorded in about 20-minutes. I don’t like endless pro-tools madness, just a good performance that gets people off.” Another instant classic is the Zeppelin-meets Pink Floyd “American Alter” that borrows from the beer-stained dialog of a local bar. “That song and ‘LA Tuning’ (an acoustic Tom Waite-ish ode to strip clubs, hookers and broken dreams) are the stories that only the road gives you,” says Joe. With influences that define heavy rock, a since of groove - courtesy of his mom’s Motown/Stax records and years as a producer are what make Pills and Ammo true grit rock. “I knew exactly how I wanted this record to sound and that exactly how it is,” Joe so testifies. ~tks

Website: JoeTown

Live In Cork (DVD)
Eagle Rock Entertainment

This is the fourth Rory Gallagher DVD issued in the last couple years and is by far the most uniquely packaged. Aside from the ’87 Cork show, its cleaver interface and interactive menu touches on memorabilia spanning the musician’s 35-year career including photos, news clippings and a comprehensive discography. The added features make it superior to Irish Tour ’74 which was a straight transfer from VHS and the two-disc Live At Montreux, which though a nice slab of history, had it’s share of poor video and audio dropouts. Live at Rockplalst is a magnificent three-disc set of several live performances, all recorded for the famed German TV show. This disc, Live In Cork to be released later this month, is a re-issue of the 1987 VHS “Messin’ With The Kid”. The audio has been cleaned up and the picture is sharp and detailed. Fans of the original will be delighted to see the cheesy graphics are still intact. A lovely book accompanies the DVD with liner notes by brother Donald guiding the reader through a photo essay of Gallagher’s home town of Cork, complete with music shops, the famed City Hall and of course, the Opera house.

Gallagher got his start in the late ‘60s as a member of Taste, an Irish three-piece dedicated to the blues. Their shows at Montreux and the Isle of Wight put Gallagher in the spotlight and launched him as a solo artist. After several years away, Gallagher returned to his hometown promoting his Defender LP so Live In Cork features the blistering “Continental OP”, “Don’t Start Me Talkin’”, “Ain’t No Saint” and “Loanshark Blues” from that record. Visually, Gallagher is at the top of his game, slightly plump with his well-worn sunburst 1961 Stratocaster laying waste to all contenders. Several of his past hits make the set including the flamenco-based Tattoo’d Lady (’73), the chugging “Follow Me” from Top Priority (’79) and the boogie woogie “When My Baby She Left Me” a highlight from Irish ’74. Twenty years into it, the singer/guitarist has perfected his blues voice and nowhere is it more prominent than on the Junior Wells classic ‘Messin’ With The Kid.” A serious crowd pleaser, the song has a couple cherry-picked, ripping solos complete with Mark Feltham’s sizzling harp playing.

Aside from Feltham, Gallagher’s touring band consisted of Nine Below Zero rhythm section Gerry McAvoy (bass) and Brendan O’Neill (drums). All three were long time band mates of the G-man and prove, in this footage, to be tight as nails. His most popular disc, Top Priority is well represented in the gritty “Off The Handle” and Against The Grain’s acoustic “Out On The Western Plain” is pure magic. Gallagher stands alone in the latter, delicately balancing his country-styled open picking with a blues undercurrent. His voice strains just enough to get the crowd to join in. He seems unfazed as fans occasionally jump on stage and join in the exuberance of the night. The two-and-a-half minute instrumental “The Loop”, later to be used on Fresh Evidence (his last studio album, 1990) gets its live debut working in perfect synchronicity with the harmonica. The darker more brooding “Shadow Play” from Photo Finish (’78) edges a punk beat with a pop lyric that still sounds relevant thirty years after it was first recorded. Gallagher’s playing will make you shake your head and shutter at its eloquence and emotion. Sadly, Rory met an untimely death in 1995 leaving every live performance a tribute to his legacy.

Website: Rory Gallagher, Eagle Rock Entertainment

Live At Ronnie Scott’s (DVD)
Eagle Rock Entertainment

For those that have never had the pleasure of visiting Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club in London, this DVD is a vastly rewarding experience. Not only does it showcase Jeff Beck’s stellar playing over a week-long engagement that features Joss Stone, Imogen Heap, and Eric Clapton, but has interviews with Mr. Beck reflecting on the whole experience. It’s some of the most interesting and intimate footage seen of the guitarist in years. Those who read our review of the CD will now have a visual to follow along. The set list varies as it encompasses five “sold out” nights. Selecting 21- tracks that span Beck’s 45-year career, the songs are colorful and captivating. His crack-shot band includes Zappa legend Vinnie Colaiuta (drums), Sting keyboardist Jason Rebello and the 23-year old protégé Tal Wilkenfeld who looks like she’s having the time of her life. Beck admits to being intimidated by the small room and close proximity to the crowd, but carries it off with a swagger of professionalism and an architect of masterful playing.

The reclusive guitarist was persuaded to do the gigs after meeting Leo Green, the house band saxophonist over a cup of coffee. It was soon arranged and Beck thought he’d add a bit of flare by bringing in Grammy-nominated Imogen Heap who he’d met at Miles Copeland’s writing festival in France. Joss Stone was a perfect fit and he called in a favor to get Clapton. The set list matches the CD except for the “special guest” spots but “Blanket” and “People Get Ready” are absolutely worth the price of admission. (The Blu-Ray offers seven more tracks including “Race With The Devil and “Train Kept A Rollin’”). Those of us that have seen Beck live in large venues may have missed the minor subtleties that generate his unique fingerprint on fusion guitar. With close up shots of both his strumming/picking and fret position it a marvel to watch as he conducts the nuances of “Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers” to the mesmerizing slide of “Nadia” to the groove of “You Never Know.” And because it’s a jazz club, the set makes great use of the musical layering that often gets lost in larger halls.

Hardcore fans of Beck’s blues will be delighted with a front row view of “Pork Pie Hat / Brush With The Blues.” With his Fender Strat held up high, he launches into a signature walking blues chord that cascades into a four-minute fire-breathing solo. The 65-year old guitarist shows no signs of slowing down blazing through “Space Boogie”, the bass-driven “Big Block” and the spectacular “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” featuring Imogen Heap. Now Joss Stone rips it up on “People Get Ready” but the stunningly radiant Heap is breathtaking when she cuts loose and wails on this foot-stomper. Most will find the pairing of Clapton and Beck on the same stage too much to resist. What’s amazing is how relaxed they both look with Beck playing the slide and Clapton picking out the breaks. “Little Brown Bird” is like watching two become one, neither trying to outdo the other - complete gentlemen. The Willie Dixon penned “You Need Love” lays back into the groove with Beck doing his best John Lee Hooker slide and Clapton riding high on the lyric. Bassist Tal Wilkenfeld says it best when describing Beck’s music; “It’s extra special because it’s great compositions, great melody and musicality all at the same time.”

Website: Jeff Beck, Eagle Rock Entertainment

Slap My Hand
Nina Records

Praised as one of the premiere drummers of our time, 56-year old Jimmy Copley has built an enduring reputation as a consummate professional and multi-layered musician. Having played for world-class artists that include Jeff Beck, Go West, Killing Joke, Tears for Fears, Seal and Paul Rodgers, Copley has developed the extraordinary ability to bounce around genres with style and ease. His debut solo disc Slap My Hand (a title that screams of parochial school days) has Jimmy Copley and Friends running through everything from classic rock (Cream’s “Strange Brew”) to blues (Count Basie’s “Everyday I Have The Blues”) to New Orleans jazz (“East West Mardi Gras”). And who are Copley’s friends? Well, a lot of his old band mates including Jeff Beck whom he toured with in ’76 on the Wired tour. There’s also Whitesnake guitarists Micky Moody, Bernie Marsden and bassist Neil Murray. Jazz legend, bassist Paul Jackson and virtuoso Pino Palladion with Go West front man Peter Cox on vocals.

Several tracks immediately jump from the record including Beck ripping into Elvis Presley’s “All Shock Up”. Packing a Stray Cats swagger with Beck’s rockabilly curve balls and Copley’s rattle and thump make it easily one of the best renditions of the classic. Australian-native and professor of the piano, Dino Baptiste is astounding in the rollicking, bar room boogie instrumental “Quick Lucky and Plucky”. He adds a tremendous amount of color on several other tracks including the swelling organ in the blues-rocker “Red Beans and Rice” and moody James Taylor “You Make It Easy”. This is also Peter Cox’s best vocal on the record wrapping his raspy baritone around the lyrics and squeezing every drop of emotion from it. That’s not to say he doesn’t shine elsewhere, his blues interpretation is as close as a white man can get as he builds up plenty of gusto behind “Everyday I Have The Blues” and the booty-shakin’ Isley Brothers “It’s Your Thing”.

It’s only appropriate Copley deliver his own drum solo. Short, sweet and to the point is the two-minute “The Toucan” which showcases the musician’s subtle nuances and wide range of rhythmic textures. Magnified in a stirring rendition of “Strange Brew” is the drummer’s sonic power. Accompanied by bassist Neil Murray and guitarist Bernie Marsden, the rock gem is transformed into a study of musical dexterity and far more bluesy than the original. The second track to feature Jeff Beck, “J Blues”, originally composed just for this CD, is radiant, raw and traditional - bubbling with delta mud. Micky Moody holds his own with the joyous masterful slide playing of “Down Home Boy”. Three tracks punch in over six minutes with the extended modern jazz jam “Skank It” going a full ten. Copley has done his homework developing original arrangements that are both enjoyable and clever. A clean, balanced production is an added mark of his attention to detail. It’s so much more than the thunder roll of drums.

Website: Jimmy Copley

Self Titled
Reversed Records

Hailing from Montreal/Winnipeg, Canada is the psycho punk metal band Fattooth. They brandish a sonic blast of Judas Priest riffs with Alice Cooper style and punk it all up in a Ramones kinda way. The guitars are the first that jump out as they grind, chug and rip through the discs nine amped-up gems. The second would be the relentless rhythm section that provides a bedrock of pulverizing head-banging and neck-breaking whiplash. Then there’s Hucifer's gruff vocal delivery and lyrical talent putting it rightly over the edge. Their full-on metallic rock and roll insanity begins with the lurching “Big Daddy” that goes old school fast with a repetitive thudding like an 18-wheeler in overdrive.  Comparisons to Nashville Pussy quickly arise as the vocals leap out like a lizard’s tongue with aggression and agility. That kind of snap comes in handy on the thrash-meets-hardcore firebomb “High Time at Low Tide” and the biker muscle behind “Gunned By Noon,” a tribute to the old west seen through the blood shot eyes of four drunken brawler looking for a fight.

“Rock Around The World” jumps in with an Anthrax opening rap screamed through a megaphone. It then gallops into an inflections chouse that will have you shouting “Rock Around The World” to anyone nearby. The munch of the guitar is classic-Pantera with a spitting stutter and foot stomping beat. Played in conjunction with the death-metal left hook of “Red Neck Metal Head” puts just enough Texas kerosene to the flame for a shit-kickers barbeque in a stage 4 twister. Just listening to the viral “Bacteria” makes your throat sore. It starts off literally coughing before the band rip into Love It To Death-era Cooper made all the more fiendish with the descending bass line. “Salve” is straight up hard rock that brands it’s two-minute hook and country-styled solo on your forehead. “Shitzami” is more guttural as the drums and bass drive the song over the Gwar-like lyrics. Their self-titled debut ends with the apocalyptic “The More Machine” complete with Viking-chanting and the clang of swords ringing left-to-right. Very death metal, packed with doom and destruction - perfect for fans of Three Inches of Blood.

Website: Fattooth

Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood
Mascot Records

As devotees of this Danish band’s last two releases Rock The Rebel / Metal The Devil (2007) and The Strength/The Sound/The Songs (2005), it was with eager anticipation that the disc went in the player and the volume went up. Their Metallica-meets-Elvis (not unlike Danzig or Type O Negative) was true to form as the title track “Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood” shook the walls and rattled the ceiling. Formed in Copenhagen in 2001 the four piece play a fusion of early rock ' roll, heavy metal and rockabilly, however GG&CB is a huge step into the arena rock direction. Skip over to “Light Away” or even “Find A Soul” and let the chainsaw guitars cut their way through the speaker. The bottom end is heavy as led, with a slight funk bump while the baritone vocals “try to light up this joint with some boogie-woogie feelings” that make you wanna “move your hips”. Their ode to Metallic is the no nonsense road song “Wild Rover of Hell” name checking their heroes while cranking “Ride The Lightning”.

The musicianship and skill level of the group is top notch. From the resonating acoustic picking and slide work on the intro “End of the Road” to the Hank Williams cover “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry”. It’s adds a slight Americana/Blues edge that counters their guff aggressiveness. Still, it’s the refreshing melodic nature of the songs that lend themselves to universal appeal like the hook in war torn tragedy of “Broken Man and the Dawn”. Others, like “Back to Prom” play the punk card and let the metallic dance beat roar the song to life. Pulling out the best of an astounding 14 tracks is the humble, country twang of “We” a love lost tune of redemption and heartache. More complex is the Buddy Holly approach to “Maybelenne I Hofteholder” about a stripper obsession. Western nuances color the entire piece bringing a clever twist to tracks like “Mary Ann’s Place” the Clash-like “Still Counting” and thumping “Making Believe”. A record that’s polished to perfection, deceitfully simple, but oh! some much fun to listen to.

 Website: Volbeat

Pride of Texas
Independent Release

Texas hell-raising rockers, THC release their debut on the back of two video (YouTube) singles “Pissed Off and Mad About It” and “Leaving”. We watched these guys open for MSG at the NAMM show in Anaheim, CA and they totally destroyed the place in 25-minutes of fist-pumping fury. Formed in 2004, the 5-piece from Denison, Texas are led by singer ‘Big Dad’ Ritch with guitarist Randy and Mike, bassist John and drummer Cowboy. They play ZZ Top-styled metal with loads of Skynyrd, Pantera, COC, and BLS in the mix. Their debut, Pride of Texas, is an aural assault of punishing guitars, chest-pounding drums and mind-numbing bass. Their greatest asset however, is their white trash, testosterone driven, hung-over lyrics. ‘Big Dad’ Ritch is a monster of a man and has the voice and attitude to match. His larger-than-life persona bellows through pedal-to-the-metal “No Shame”, the biographical “Drug Dealer” and quintessential Southern rocker “River Bottom”. His snarl gives a wicked spin to trash-talk, “My baby takes all that I can giver her / flick of my tongue makes her quiver.”

The intensity of their live show gives a nitro injection to the above mentioned “Pissed Off and Mad About It” and the tomcattin’ “Crawlin’”. The guitars split into rhythm and lead, distinctly keeping the song fueled with massive chunks of six-string aggression. Add a bone shaking backbeat and you have the making of a volcano ready to blow. Like all good singers, BD Ritch is most convincing when he sings about himself. “Lord of the hippies, King of the derelicts, Lord of the drugies, King of the Red Necks - soon enough you’ll know my name,” he sings in “No Shame”. In “Clinched First” he growls, “I’ve been speedin’ and I’ve been cockin’ / I’ve been stealin’ and I’ve been killin’” He involves the whole band in their ultimate claim to bad-ass-ness in “TX tags” singing “Mess around with me / and your blood will be spilled.” Unexpected is the tender twang of “Troublesome Times” and “Closure” a ballsy set of ballads that calm the hounds of hell and prove they can still feel real emotion. Produced by multi-platinum record producer David Prater (Dream Theater, Firehouse, Santana) makes this a brilliant debut. Order now and you can get the CD/DVD combo with the YouTube vids.

Website: Texas Hippie Coalition

Never Ending Highway
Independent Release

Sweden’s Josh’s Appletree, have finally mastered their cross between AC/DC and Deep Purple, even touching on classic Whitesnake and a little Havana Black to boot. Hailing from the small town of Silvertown, Sala, the five-piece harvest some incredible talent in hands of Jugge Lindhult (bass), Håkan Brunnquist (drums), John Lindholm (Hammond), Hawkan (guitar and Lap Steel)
and Markus Berglund (vocals). Their brand of blues rock comes by way Uriah Heep, Procol Harum and Humble Pie where the Hammond is just as prevalent as the guitars, bass or drum. Never Ending Highway marks the band third release and shows much progress as musicians and songwriters. Most of the numbers are built on a solid riff, colored with tremendous guitar work and layered in organ swells. Berglund makes his mark as a classic hard rock singer stepping up to some the greats and even nicks a bit from their prowess. He howls in “Down to the Border, “I’m gonna get laid - even if I have to pay” and then tackles David Byron’s flare for fantasy singing of “sliding down rainbows and catching golden butterflies” in “I Will Overcome”.

The bigger guitar tracks like “Never Ending Highway”, “Down in the Gutter” and “Rough Ride” go for arena status plugging into a surging backbeat with a mile-high Marshall sound. Berglund’s voice leads the charge with a throaty roar while the organ washes over like a title wave. The best line on the disc is when he surrenders to the demon god in “Rough Ride” bellowing, “sold my soul to the blues and that damn rock and roll”. Mr. Hawkan is on fire as he showcases his slide chops in the thunderous “Cold Black Mountain” with a massive hook and wah wah solo. “Silver City” comes closest in their homage of Magician’s Birthday-era Uriah Heep mixing Dio-esque lyrics with grand chunks of posturing rock and powerhouse rhythms. The muscle in this song alone is worth the price of admission. “Should Have Known Better” is the other standout that has a nasty vengeance sting to it. The keyboard fattens up the guitar sound and blows it into Godzilla-like proportions. In the disc’s closing moments, the band do a superb job covering Gov’t Mule’s “Mother Earth” by giving it a knuckle-dragging Sabbath dirge that even the horned one would be proud of.

Website: Josh’s Appletree