New York DollsWhat better way to warm up for Hard Rock Hell III than with new releases from New York Dolls’ Steve Conte (pictured) and the Quireboys?

We review and rate the latest records by both artists right here.

But if funk metal is more your bag then the return of old favourites Living Colour should brighten up the dreariest of December days.


Living Colour albumLiving Colour – The Chair In The Doorway (Megaforce)

A first new studio album in five years sees the original and best funk metal band return to their roots to deliver a record which sits comfortably alonsgide classics Vivid and Time’s Up.

And if the musical barriers which Living Colour initially attempted to break have long been destroyed then Vernon Reid and co. are still clearly committed to breaking new ground.

The Chair In The Doorway ultimately evolves into a magical listen but neither of the opening two tracks suggest the quality to come. Burned Bridges and The Chair are average at best but once they’re out of the way there’s a comforting sense of the band’s trademark urgency and melody.

Decadance is a delight and Hard Times fuses Living Colour’s love of a kicking tune with their need to indulge in some serious social commentary. It’s good to know the band still feels the need to get the big messages across. Twenty years after making their mark Living Colour have made the record to re-engage a lost generation of fans spanning every rock genre. This deserves to be huge.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Musical Chair

Steve Conte albumSteve Conte & The Crazy Truth (Varese Vintage/Colosseum Music)

If you need some classic roots and laid backn rock in your life then look no further than this charming record. Here’s yet more proof that New York Dolls’ axeman Steve Conte is as potent as he is prolific – crafting a fine body of work which should find favour across the board.

Perhaps the overall flavour of Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth is just a touch too cliched for the mainstream but this man has lived the lives of the New York City folk he so vividly describes across 11 original tunes.

If you like tales of inner city debauchery and soulless falls from grace then tracks like The Truth Ain’t Pretty and Gypsy Club will surely appeal, set against that rootsy rock and roll backdrop. Gambling on a pretty raw Niko Bolas mix could backfire but Conte clearly wants to keep it real. And he does just that.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 The Truth Is Out There

quireboys halfpenny resizeThe Quireboys – Halfpenny Dancer (Hecktick Records) (Available from

This is the record the Quireboys were born to make. For years now there’s been a degree of pressure on the band to move even further way from the commercial sound of their late 80s/early 90s heyday and tailor their material to suit Spike’s gravelly vocal tone. Halfpenny Dancer is the first evidence of a band learning to play to its considerable strengths.

The natural follow-up to the critically acclaimed Homewreckers & Heartbreakers, this collection of acoustic tunes is original only in its approach. Testing the water as they enter the initial stages of their Cowboy Junkies-style makeover, the boys have sensibly chosen to rework a selection of the band’s best known songs and throw in a couple of cracking covers for good measure.

Indeed the best track on here is the emotive version of UFO’s Love To Love as Spike  steps up to the mark with a magnificent vocal – ably assisted by his rag tag band of familiar faces and specialist guests. Halfpenny Dancer is a brave move but it really, really works. Songs like There She Goes Again and Mona Lisa Smiled have never sounded so good and the version of King Of New York is spine tingling in its delivery. 

The question now is where to go from here? Do the default rock and rollers stick to the script or do they morph fully into a roots-style troupe with serious potential… Watch this space.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Gold Halfpenny