This week sees new UK releases from Steve Grimm (pictured), Fire and Stargazer as the Avenue Of Allies stable reinforces its reputation as a home for some of the best melodic rock around.
But if you prefer your music a little edgier and, dare we say it, just a little more hip then we review the soundtrack to the new skater flick Extremely Sorry – featuring Lemmy Kilmister, Dave Lombardo, Black Mountain and…Warren G. Well, no CD’s ever perfect.
Steve Grimm Band – History Of A Bad Boy (Avenue Of Allies)
If you like midwestern rock produced with aplomb and you frequently hark back to 80s hair metal hooks and melody soaked licks then you may already be aware of Bad Boy’s Steve Grimm and his solo work.
If you’re not then why not? This 21-track resume of the prolific 1989-1995 period finds the singer songwriter reeling off a succession of top notch tunes which wouldn’t have looked out of place on any self-respecting FM radio playlist 15 years ago.
Too Cool kicks things off but the fact is that Grimm isn’t. Not at all. He’s just confident enough in his ability as an accomplished axeman and singer to write cracking tracks at every turn – New Kinda Woman, from 1992’s Turn The Key EP, and Change Of Heart, from the Heaven’s In Your Heart album are timely reminders that this man rocks!
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Grimm Fairytale
Fire – Thrill Me (Avenue Of Allies)
Get It On gets this record going after the relatively tame title track and immediately the Purple-soaked feel of a hit single in the making suggests this band deserves to be judged on more than its rather risque artwork.
Kenneth Calleja’s vocals don’t always suit the music he’s meant to complement but then apeing the very best singers from the 70s is no easy task. And when he’s looking to make an impression alongside the dynamic dual guitar work of Joe Vella and Robert Longo his job becomes so much harder.
This a record rich in musical integrity and Always There is another absolute gem with it’s original Whitesnake vibe shining through. But the fact is Calleja just can’t hit all of the right notes all of the time and that’s the only downside to an otherwise delightful affair.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Fire Burning
Stargazer – Stargazer (Avenue Of Allies)
Unlike Fire, the strength of this melodic album is Tore Andre Helgemo’s crisp vocal performance and if ever there was a bloke made for carrying Scandinavia’s fine tradition for pop metal forward then he is that man.
The likeness to mid 80s Joey Tempest is uncanny and on I Needed You and Brother Against Brother he delivers with enough emotion to suggest the years of false starts could be over.
If Avenue Of Allies arte looking for a standard bearer to take their emerging label into 2010 they need look no further. Stargazer have it all – well, everything except the widespread acclaim and record sales. But both are deserved on this evidence.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Stars In The Making
Various Artists – Extremely Sorry Soundtrack (Volcom Entertainment)
A word of warning: if you demand rock every step of the way then it’s better you leave this little beauty behind. Because you’re very likely to bring up your last meal faced with the likes of Warren G and Snoop Dogg.
If, however, you can stomach a few curve balls tossed in amongst some genuinely progressive guitar music then this latest in a long line of seriously impressive 2009 compilations will reap rich rewards.
Producer and DJ Baron’s instrumental work is impressive enough but his stellar collaborations with Motorhead main man Lemmy, Slayer’s Dave Lombardo and Black Mountain make this record an important reference point for any real fan of rock.
This brightly packaged skater movie soundtrack may look too cool for rock and metal cats but it’s not. Take a gamble and you’ll emerge a winner.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Extremely Good