VICK LECAR
Vick LeCar
Aries Jem Records

Texas native Vick LeCar is back with his second installment of hard rockin’ classics. The self titled release clearly overshadows last year’s demo outing Never Stranded in production alone. Heavily influenced by Ritchie Blackmore (both Rainbow and Deep Purple era) LeCar goes for the punch with finesse and refined playing. The guitarist is joined by brilliant vocalist Ed Terry (an uncanny resemblance to David Coverdale and or Joe Lynn Turner), bassist Danny Miranda, drummer Michael Sciotto and keyboardist Paul Morris and Gordon Gerbert.

Four tunes, Never Stranded, Turn & Burn, Run Like A River and One More Shot have been pumped up, overhauled and reworked from their demoed version and the difference is astonishing. The added six Between Heaven And Hell, Son Of A Witch, In New York City, I Don’t Want You, Take My Hand and Condor Pass remain true to form building on a strong infrastructure and decorated with charm and neon lights. The album is perfect AOR with LeCar showing full restraint while maximizing his technique for just the right amount of color.

Website: Vick LeCar

JON TIVEN GROUP
Yes I Ram
New West Records

If you bought Wilson Picket’s It’s Harder Now album (his first in 12 years), you probably already know the name Jon Tiven. It was Tiven who was called in to write and produce the legend’s critically praised comeback. It was also Tiven’s band (The Jon Tiven Group) who became the core band on the album. Like many high-profile writers Tiven’s name is passed around frequently among musicians.

Having played or written with Buddy Guy, B.B. King and Robert Cray, the composer has built his reputation on blending soul and blues with a pop twist. It is that talent which is the basis for Yes I Ram, the first Jon Tiven Group CD in two years and follow up to Blue Guru (see our review #50). After working with Picket, Tiven and his group (including wife Sally, fellow writer and longtime friend Alan Merrill, and drummer Todd Snare) built and nurtured 16 home-brewed compositions guaranteed to raise the roof any time of day.

“I wanted the album to have two sides, like a vinyl record,” says Tiven. “The first side is more blues, the second more soul and rock.” Helping out are friends Mick Taylor, Simon Kirke, Jim Carroll, and an awesome cover of the unreleased Van Morrison track If You Rock Me.

Website: Not available

JIM PETERIK
and World Stage
World Stage Productions

Just read the numbers: 19 charted singles with two reaching #1, seven Top Ten Hits, three certified Platinum and two certified Gold albums. He’s written with 38. Special, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cheap Trick, REO Speedwagon, Sammy Hagar and the Doobie Brothers as well as having songs in six major motion pictures. Yet, Jim Peterik is one of the top non-famous famous guys.

All that will change when the laser hits your copy of his new disc, Jim Peterik and World Stage. As a member of the Idles Of March (1964-73), Peterik’s first hit came when he was 19 with Vehicle (“I’m the friendly stranger in the black sedan, won’t you hop inside my car”). Then his meal ticket arrived with the AOR heavyweights Survivor whom he wrote and played with for thirteen years while writing hits for 38. Special, Sammy Hagar and REO Speedwagon.

Perterik’s latest release brings together many of his old pals singing or playing key moments in his songwriting career. The CD is on fire with radio-friendly gems from his illustrious past including Eye Of The Tiger, Fade To Blue and Between Two Fires. All are brought up to date with Peterik and his dynamic house band.

Website: Jim Peterik

STUCK MOJO
Declaration of a Headhunter
Century Media Records

The number one US seller for Century Media are at it again with their fourth raging slab of molten fury. Atlanta-based Stuck Mojo lengthen their stride in world domination with Declaration of a Headhunter a combination of blood-stained saliva and true American grit. Third track in, Set The Tone, does just that painting a wall of sound as deep and intoxicating as the Tanzanian jungle.

Raise The Deadman, Drawing Blood, Give War A Chance, and The Ward Is My Shepherd are prime movers. Sequenced between several of the albums songs are the band’s ripe political commentary (a la Rage Against The Machine). Love it or hate it, it makes a lot sense and works in unison with the full-throttle momentum producer Andy Sneap creates with the band. States their press release, “Lyrically, the band have taken a bold step in expressing their harsh opinions on various problematic members and groups (both political and social) of the US society.”

Leaving their Faith No More footing, Mojo pack their bag with pieces of Queensryche, Beastie Boys and NWA as masters of combining rapping metal, with grunge-fueled pop-rock compliments of guitarist Rich Ward, vocalist Bonz, bassist Dan Dryden and drummer Bud Fontsere.

Website: Century Media Records

SPIDERS & SNAKES
London Daze
Deadline Records

“I guess the best compliment I ever got was from Axl Rose down at the Whiskey,” says Spiders & Snakes vocalist Lizzy Grey. “I ran into him a couple years back and he said, ‘You’re a legend in this town’.”

And so it’s been for Mr. Grey whose been at the frontlines of rock ‘n’ roll for nearly 25 years. In his band London, he saw future members of Motley Crüe, Wasp and Guns and Roses come and go. When others were playing stadiums he was still slugging it out in the seedy dives on Sunset Strip. He raised his profile with a cameo in the movie Decline Of The Western Civilization Part 2: The Metal Years and eventually formed the glam outfit Spiders & Snakes.

With London Daze, Grey's fifth platter with the band, he takes a walk down memory lane reminding us of his part in the 80s LA metal scene. Cherished tracks include Public Enemy #1 (from Motley Crüe’s Too Fast For Love), Nonstop Rock, Run, Run, Run, Rock and Roll Queen, Radio Stars, Elvis’s TV and 2000 Rock & Roll.

Bonus tracks include three original London demos Dream Girl, Nobody Loves You Like I Do and Straight From The Heart featuring the classic line-up with Nikki Sixx and Nigel Benjamin (Mott The Hoople).

Website: www.spidersandsnakes.net

STILETTOS
Hot On Your Heels
Independent

This sassy female-fronted foursome comes to us straight from the sandy beaches of Bournemouth, Dorset. Co. England. Having secured the praise of Classic Rock’s Dave Reynolds we contacted the band to see for ourselves what all the ruckus is about.

Almost immediately Hot On Your Heels calls back to the days of Lee Aaron, Rock Goddess and Lisa Dominique with strutting guitar, solid backbone and a distinct, compelling lead voice - a sound missing from the record shelves lately. Guitarist Simon Wood shows he’s done his homework with some killer riffage in Why Does It Take All Night?, He’s A Loser and Passions Rising Storm - all three standouts. Bassist Nick Gillott and part-time actor, drummer Dave ‘Bunny’ Wells work well together keeping the rhythm tight and the thunder always present.

The focal point for Stilettos is Claire Dean, a blond knockout who’s not afraid to stir it up by delivering some enticing vocal arrangements. She handles the campy Cabaret Girls and You’re Like A Sex Film (Baby) in good humor while nailing the power-ballad Pictures On My Wall and the excellent Scarred For Life. The songs are there the CD production is fair so check them out .

Website: www.stilettos.co.uk

XIT
Plight Of The Redman
SOAR Records

Dusted off and enhanced with visually stunning graphics, this, the first recording by Xit, restores and magnifies the importance of merging rock music with the Reservation. Originally recorded in 1970 at the historic Motown Hitsville studios in Detroit, Michigan, Plight Of The Redman has become a catalyst for other contemporary Native American recordings.

Detroit, with its diversified sounds, proved to be an excellent choice for the band to flaunt it’s wears and amplify their influences. Plight’s soundscape moves from intoxicating Bread-like melodies (Nihaa Shil Hozho, Beginning) to full on rock (third track in, I Was Raised even goes straight into MC5 territory).

The band hit their niche with The Coming Of The Whiteman and War Cry both of which readily cross over into funk. The lyrics center primarily on the struggle to understand the voice of a nation misrepresented and lied to for generations. Much of that hostility comes out in the final cut, End?

Both the musicianship and vocals are what make this a real treasure. The record has been celebrated as a milestone work, and claims to be the first of its kind to combine traditional and electric instrumentation with chanting and native dialogue. Powerful, moving, excellently crafted.

Website: SOAR Records

CHESTER NIGHT and THE WIND
Windfall
SOAR Records

Winner of this years Juno Award for Best Aboriginal Recording, Chester Night and The Wind bring to the Native American genre a unique balance of contemporary pop rock with the graceful melodies of native chants and beats.

As a vocalist Knight, sits somewhere between Bob Dylan and Tom Petty with the music of The Wind more akin to Neil Young or Timbuk 3. Using the acoustic guitar to build and drive the 12 tracks on Windfall keeps the sound simple and focused. The catchy hooks of Cold Cold World, I’m A Warrior and Falling Down Again are ripe with purity. She’s Dancing is amazing

Website: SOAR Records

BERNARD ALLISON
Across the Water
Tone-Cool Records

Koko Taylor’s on her way into town for the Greater Philadelphia Blues Festival (Oct. 21st). and in her touring caravan is none other than Luther Allison’s baby boy...all grown up. Bernard Allison has a lot to live up to. Not only was his father one of the greatest bluesmen to grace the stage but he’s got record number two to promote.

With Across The Water, his debut for Tone-Cool Records, Bernard pays profound homage to his dad (who died of lung cancer in 1997) with every bend of the strings. Although much more rock’n’roll than traditional blues, Allison fairs best with a lightning quick strike where the notes catch fire and burn up the song from the inside. Tunes like I Just Came Back To Say Goodbye, I Wanna Get You Back and Across The Water all pop with the production skills of Jim Gaines (Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Lee Hooker) who nailed a modern, hard-as-nails sound for Allison.

After graduating from high school in 1983, Bernard took up a three-year residency with Koko Taylor’s Blues Machine. From there he formed his own group, performing a great deal in Canada, and joined his father for a set at the 1983 Chicago Blues Festival. He stayed on as his father’s bandleader until 1992, when he got his first recording contract and cut Times Are Changing (1998). His blues are from a tougher breed and will sit nicely next to your Metallica CDs.

Website: www.bernardallison.com

DAVY VAIN
In From Out Of Nowhere
Jackie Rainbow Records

In 1989 the first Vain record, No Respect, was released on Island Records. Produced by Paul Northfield (Rush and Queensryche) in Morin Heights, Montreal. It was a decent mix of hard rock/glam and was well received by MTV. A second record, All Those Strangers, was set for release but the group was dropped before the album ever made it out.

Move On It (94) and Fade (96) saw limited distribution primarily overseas. It’s 2000 and the lineup has changed slightly from the original of James Scott (g), Ashley Mitchell (b), Danny West (g), Tommy Rickard, (d) and Davy Vain (v). West is off doing a solo thing, Craig Behrhorst is filling in, and Rickard was replaced by Louie Senor.

This is to be considered more of a Davy Vain solo outing (even though the whole band plays on the disc). It’s much more subdued than early Vain, only three real rockers in the batch (Push Me Over, Yellow, Sugar Shack) but they do cook. The other eight are mid-tempo and ballad driven pieces. And there’s no complaint (Fly Again, Come On Now and Electric are absolutely fantastic). Live this band is sheer magic.

Website: http://davyvain.com.

JOHN TAGLIERI
Leap Of Faith
Leap Dog Music

The folks at Ultrasound 2000 were introduced to Taglieri poolside at the Sunday morning brunch. He braved the scorching Vegas sun (110 by 10am) to bring to light a number of self-penned compositions from his new disc Leap Of Faith. Having heard the songs live as acoustic charmers before listening to the fully produced CD it was interesting to contrast the two.

Shangri-la, and The Two Sides Of Love, though solid rock numbers on the CD, did transfer well on the acoustic. High Road, Hold Me Close Tonight and Need To Hear showcase what Taglieri is capable of when he plugs in and has a driving backbeat. Leap of Faith as a whole is a songwriter’s calling card. The songs have been skillfully thought out, well engineered and produced and feature John’s calming baritone. Several of his tunes like First Night and Need To Hear could easily crossover from rock to country where as Reason To Believe and One More Tomorrow are sure-fire radio hits.

Here Without You, which closes the album, is a pure ballad revealing the musicians ability to pack a lifetime of emotion into a three-minute song.

Website:
www.leapdogmusic.com

JAG PANZER
Thane to the Throne
Century Media Records

Jag Panzer’s long history dates back to 1981 when they changed their name from Tyrants to the German World War II tank in an effort to label their sound. Though the band attracted a loyal following and released two classic metal records, they slid into hibernation by 1987.

Eight years later, in 1995, the band signed a worldwide deal with Century Media Records. The band released The Fourth Judgement (97) and The Age Of Mastery (98), both highly-praised by the press and fans. Tours of Europe with Hammerfall and Gamma Ray and in the States with Iced Earth, brought the band’s material to an ever expanding audience.

Their new offering, Thane to the Throne, is based on the Shakespeare classic Macbeth. They take the story from start to finish doing a magnificent job of telling the tale through music and segues between songs along with the use of more unorthodox instruments (including viola and minstrel-like singing). On this outting the Colorado-based quintet are more textured than you might expect. The group unravel an almost concept-like production, rich with dual-guitar orchestration and erupting with passion.

Website:
Century Media Records