This week sees new releases by the original shock rockers GWAR (pictured), former Bad Company axe slinger Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell, and punkster Mark Sultan. Plus we throw the spotlight on guitar heroes Steve Senes, Phillip Sayce and Marcus Bonfanti.
There’s a line in the typically daft Gwar tune You Are My Meat which surely tops anything Steel Panther have conjured up in recent years. You are a woman, I am a man, you are my meat, get in the pan is, quite possibly, the craziest couplet we’ve heard all year. No, make that ever. And if you like your metal sincere and serious then look away now.
For many years now GWAR have been fighting against convention and laughing in the face of commercialism with their weapons held aloft and their daft as Gazza lyrics laying waste to the world of considered rock.
Dressed up like comic book warriors and choosing furry animal skins over traditional leathers, this barmy bunch won’t be making a thought-provoking concept record anytime soon. And why would they? When these boys are capable of penning such classics as Beat You To Death there’s no need to dabble in the kind of quality metal best left to Queensryche and their ilk.
It’s a compliment to GWAR that they make Turisas look like Magnum and Steel Panther like Journey. These self-confessed crazies take the metal piss-take to an alarming new level and more than 20 years since they first traded in riff-fuelled shocks there’s no stopping the beast in 2010. SR
rushonrock rated: 7/10 GWAR Zone
Guitarist Steve Senes delivers a music masterclass with his first venture into instrumental territory. The South Carolina based rocker seamlessly switches genres with an incredible ease.
Over 12 tracks Senes immerses himself in an array of genres, producing equally crisp and well-executed sounds through rock, metal, country, funk and soul.
All too often talented guitarists are overshadowed by charismatic frontmen but releasing a solo instrumental album allows Senes’ undoubted talent to take centre stage. And in truth it’s exactly where it belongs.
Cop-Show is a funk-tastic showcase of Senes’ incredible skill creates a spectacular sound reminiscent of cheesy police series of years gone by.
Mare Tranquilltatas and The Afterglow give a softer sound that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Dire Straits/Mark Knopfler album.
Although there are metal tracks present, with no growling lyrics it’s easy to get lost in the sounds and this album proves to be great background music for those lazy Sunday afternoons or that long drive home. And the credit for this lies firmly with Senes, with the writing, performance, producing, engineering and mixing credits down to the man himself.
There are few faults with the record – some tracks sound similar to others but even that’s clutching at straws. If Senes could find an equally talented vocal artist then the music scene could be an even brighter scene. AS
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Assault On The Senes
If Mark Sultan’s album $ had to be summed up in one word then that word would be: bizarre.
Don’t let the fact that it has an unlucky number of thirteen tracks put you off – the bad luck ends there. Each track is a fusion of different musical ideas and eras – so much so that it would be impossible to wrestle the album into one specific genre since Sultan experiments with almost everything.
However, although his revival of old music and use of doo-wop starts out as a good idea, by the end of tracks like Icicles your enthusiasm may begin to waver a little as the same guitar progression seems to repeat over and over again without any climax or final destination.
The album does recover and it is refreshing to see such a variance between tracks But the monotony returns in the shape of I’ll Be Lovin’ You which also seems to repeat itself for more than three minutes. It appears that Sultan’s ideas are in the right place but he finds trouble executing them as he has spent so much time trying to make the album deliberately untidy rather than letting it naturally end up that way. CG
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Sultan Of Swings
This enjoyable romp through the very best that British blues-based rock n roll has to offer won’t enjoy the same exposure as this year’s big ‘Guitar Hero & Friends’ record – Slash’s superb solo debut – but in its own way Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell’s take on the idea is every bit as entertaining.
Where Slash can call upon Fergie, Myles Kennedy, Ozzy Osbourne and Alice Cooper to lend the vocals to his famed fret work, Bucket brings in a who’s who of domestic talent. Spike, Danny Bowes, Adrian Smith and Lauren Harris might lack the profile and commercial clout of Slash’s star-studded buddies but what they may be missing in personal fortunes they more than make up for with world class pipes.
To hear Bowes back on record is particularly pleasant. There’s no doubt Thunder’s decision to call time on a memorable career has left a gaping hole in the lives of many UK blues rock fans and even the emergence of Luke Morley’s Classic Rock Award-winning The Union has failed to fill the void. For now. Bowes’ voice is far too good to sit on the shelf for any length of time and Bucket has played a blinder bringing the amiable Londoner back into the fold on the magnificent Life.
Spike and Bekka Bramlett combine to brilliant effect on the Frankie Miller cover I’d Lie To You but it’s the quality of Colwell’s original compositions which prove the biggest surprise here. Out of the spotlight for far too long, the former Bad Company/Humble Pie may well have delivered the defining record of a celebrated career. SR
rushonrock rated: 9/10 The Full Bucket
If Bucket’s blues rock (see above) isn’t enough to have you reaching for the retro turntable and speakers then this phenomenal release from Philip Sayce surely will. Currently touring the UK with fellow axe slinger Marcus Bonfanti (see below), the Welsh-born native of Toronto has conjured up a feast of fret melting delights.
This record may have been knocking around for a few months now but it’s still new to the rushonrock team and after just one listen we were left wondering why? Soaked in blues rock tradition and yet boasting that modern edge which has made label mate Joe Bonamassa such a big hit during the last decade, Sayce’s second album is so good it’s almost painful.
Opener Changes could be the bastard child of Hendrix and Kossoff while Bitter Monday is what Dire Straits could have achieved had the lure of commercial success not caused Mr Knopfler to take his eye off the ball. There’s a definite case of the Kravitzes about Sayce’s finest work but that’s no criticism at a time when Sir Lenny seems to have all but dried up as a truly creative force.
If, like us, you missed this back in the spring now’s the time to catch up. It could be your record of the year – and might yet be ours… SR
rushonrock rated: 10/10 Sayce It With Style
The answer to the album title is ‘pretty useful indeed’. Perhaps lacking the mainstream appeal of touring buddy Philip Sayce, the bearded Bonfanti is an altogether darker, deeper and occasionally dangerous prospect. But for a musician peddling blues that can’t be a bad thing.
Another record released earlier this year and another we’ve only just latched on to, as a result of his support slot with Sayce, this is earnest, endearing and engaging stuff. If the defiant but almost depressing refrain of opener Will Not Play Your Game doesn’t have you reaching for the neat bourbon then three or four tracks in and you’ll be utterly determined to drown your sorrows.
Devil Girl and Don’t Wanna Come Home aren’t exactly laugh-a-minute foot stompers but when you’re in a certain mood on a cold winter night both of these spellbinding tracks will serve a purpose.
At 28 Bonfanti might be getting just a little too old for his big break but the bloke’s a trier. And he’s put out two albums, proved himself one of the finest self-taught guitarists we’ve heard in some time and is making a big noise within the blues community. Give him a chance and you might just contribute to the breakthrough of an artist who really deserves to have his best work heard by a wider and woeful audience. SR
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Bon Nuit
This week’s reviewers: Simon Rushworth, Andy Spoors, Chiara Giordano.