Welcome to the Magnificent Seven as rushonrock rifles through the pick of tomorrow’s releases and tries to point you in the right direction before you part with those hard-earned pounds.
This week there really is something for everyone. Whether you like the in-bred bluster of The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band (pictured) or the polished hair metal of proven performers Great White there’s an eclectic mix of rock and metal under discussion. Shock rocker Wednesday 13 returns with a new EP and you’ll snigger at the new record from Todd Youth’s band Chelsea Smiles. Throw in the latest offerings from Wetton Downes, Fake Problems and Street Legal and you really are spoilt for choice.
Great White – Rising (Frontiers)
In 2007’s Back To The Rhythm, platinum-selling giants Great White proved there’s plenty of life in the old beast yet and Rising always promised to maintain the post-comeback momentum for Jack Russell and his mates. Then opening track Situation floors you like a block of hastily mixed concrete and you’re left wondering what can possibly follow this most leaden of tracks, weighed down by a desperate title and plodding chorus.
Thankfully everything which follows smacks of Great White’s unerring ability to pen classic rock tunes rich in pure emotion. Why Situation warranted top billing alongside gems such as Shine, Danger Zone and Only You Can Do is beyond us. It’s Rising’s one dud track and there it is welcoming fans to an otherwise excellent record with all the charm of a sweaty roadie. A bizarre decision from a brilliant band. Bring on the new tour.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Rising Force
The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band (SideOneDummy)
Thankfully this bluesy, countryfied, rockabilly jumble of a record is gaining its fair share of praise in the mainsm rock press and rightly so. It might sound like the album you always expected to come out of a smalltown Indiana church (or maybe not) but its straight-talking lyrics and guitar-driven hooks will have you humming all the way to the local store.
Any record boasting a real Reverend and his washboard-wielding wife demands attention but this is no gimmick. Possessing the social commentary skills of a bearded Lily Allen, the Rev really excells on tracks like Can’t Pay The Bill, Mama’s Fried Potatoes and Your Cousin’s On Cops. It’s one of those records you want to stay underground but that’s not going to happen. This is genius.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 All Revved Up
The Chelsea Smiles – The Chelsea Smiles (DR2)
Former Danzig axeman Todd Youth really should do better. This is, at best, disappointingly average fare and, at worst, lacking any spark at a time when the original trumps the banal.
Sounding like a stripped down punk band or a bunch of lazy sleazesters, The Chelsea Smiles don’t seem to recognise when they have a cracking chorus on their hands, drowning the most memorable lyrical moments in a haze of ill-advised distortion. Like a garage band stuck in a garage, the Howard Willing production is poor to say the least. Let’s hope for better things when Youth’s intermittently creative crew join Wednesday 13 on this spring’s UK tour.
rushonrock rated: 4/10 Wry Smiles
Street Legal – Bite The Bullet (Frontiers)
If you were/are a fan of Norwegian AOR band DaVinci then this Bjorn Boge project will be right up your Street (Legal). Right from the off there are the trademark classic rock influences – Thin Lizzy/UFO/MSG etc – and there’s no getting away from the fact that the main man sounds uncannily like a certain Mr Coverdale. Boge has always wielded a mean bass guitar but there’s little doubt he has the pipes to compete with the very best in melodic rock.
Sadly Bite The Bullet tries to be all things to all men (as proved by the list of soundalikes above) but if you close your eyes and dream then this could almost be the soft rock compilation of your life. Pin sharp production, more hair metal cliches than you can shake a fist at and only one really poor tune – the woeful Warriors Of Ghengis Khan – make this a mighty addition to any music fan’s collection.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Bullet Proof
Wednesday 13 – Bloodwork EP
Whatever you say about the former Murderdoll he doesn’t take many days off. Whether touring his arse off across the US and Europe or writing more than enough material in 12 months to last Axl Rose a lifetime, Mr 13 is one of metal’s true workaholics.
Of course there’s always the danger that the quality of his work will be diluted in the face of such quantity. In this case there’s little evidence of that familiar failing. Opener B-Movie Babylon is bound to become a firm crowd favourite and a rather creepy version of Tom Petty’s Runnin’ Down A Dream makes this collection an essential for any Wednesday fan. Miss him inNewcastle at the end of this month and miss out.
rushonrock rated: 7/10
Wetton Downes – Icon 3 (Frontiers)
As founding members of Asia and boasting worldwide reputations John Wetton and Geoffrey Downes could be forgiven for taking things easy 30 years after the latter gained fame and fortune with the Buggles’ hit Video Killed The Radio Star. In fact this prolific partnership continues to deliver music the envy of peers across rock’s various genres.
With special guest Ann-Marie Helder (Karnataka, Mostly Autumn) adding an extra touch of class to an album oozing quality it was always going to be a surprise if Icon 3 turned out to be anything other than a testimony to the talents of Wetton and Downes. For as long as the duo can reel off the likes of Destiny, Anna’s Kiss and Peace In Our Time there will always be a clamour for Icon 4.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Icon Artists
Fake Problems – It’s Great To Be Alive (SideOneDummy)
Just announced as support on Frank Turner’s next tour, Floridians Fake Problems throw this slab of indie rock into the 2009 mix and suggest they’re not the one trick ponies many critics would have us believe.
The seven-piece horn section employed within this eclectic mix of styles almost evokes memories of one-time Brit rock hopes Little Angels and that, in itself, is no bad thing. But this is no retro metal throwback Scarborough-style and more a glimpse of what could be a very exciting and bold future for frontman Chris Farren and his colleagues. Watch this space.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Fake Progress