LP: DORJA ‘Gemini’ (self-released)

One of the albums that I’ve been eagerly awaiting is this debut offering from the cosmopolitan collective DORJA. The album (which will be available on CD and as a download, plus a limited edition vinyl) comes almost exactly two years after the band’s formation. This record, the first full album for some of the musicians involved, was made possible by a successful crowdfunding campaign. It exceeded their target by some distance, enabling the band to allocate more budget than they’d planned for in recording and producing this record.

A brief recap on the band’s history so far: they were formed in summer 2016 by drummer Anna Mylee, then based in LA. Recruiting fellow LA expat, Kazakh-born singer Aiym Almas, they looked back across the Atlantic to complete the line-up, bringing in three British players in guitarists Holly Henderson and Rosie Botterill, plus bass player Becky Baldwin. All had worked with Anna before and they began to collaborate on material, convening via Skype at first but all met up in LA to record their first track ‘Fire’, issued as a download in June 2016. The EP ‘Target Practice’ was released in early 2017, and they played selected live dates in the UK as and when schedules permitted. Holly Henderson departed the band in mid-2017, as a concurrent solo career began to gather momentum. The band advertised for the vacant position, eventually settling on Irish guitarist Sarah Michelle to take over. They continued to play selected live dates and in the winter of 2017 unveiled their crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to record a full album of material. With the target reached, then exceeded, the group came together in early 2018 to begin sessions on this record.

The album features ten tracks, some of which are re-recorded versions of tracks from the EP while others are brand new. All were written collectively by the band (with credit duly given to Holly Henderson for her part in writing five of the songs which appear here) and also to Eduardo Limongi for arrangements.

Front cover for DORJA 'Gemini' album

Front cover for DORJA ‘Gemini’ album

I was one of the pledgers involved in the crowdfunding campaign; there was a broad range of items on offer to suit most pockets ranging from a straightforward pledge for the album in your preferred format, to a bundle of stuff including posters, an exclusive T-shirt, a live EP and other items such as drum heads, hand-written lyric sheets and patches. As the bottom of my pocket is quite easily reached I plumped for the album on LP plus that T-shirt, with the items being despatched to pledgers in late June 2018. Having had the chance to give the record a few spins, the old-fashioned way with a turntable and stylus, here’s what I made of it:

The initial impression is that the blues influence is more pronounced than perhaps might have been expected. I’ve seen the band twice before and they stormed it live; they were always rock with a blues base but that base is a bit more evident in the material presented here. Dealing with the previously-released material first, the new versions of ‘Target Practice’, ‘Reaching Out’ and ‘Fire’ (‘Far Gone’ I suspect is the same one as what was put out as a single last year) are a little cleaner-sounding than the EP versions, but not much different otherwise. Opening track ‘Chainbreaker’ gives a good indication of what’s to come, these songs are all mid-tempo bluesy hard rockers showcasing primarily that remarkable voice of Aiym Almas. Her vocal evokes R&B greats of the past and she brings that to a hard rock style, giving this band a distinctive sound.

The songs all tend to follow a similar template: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, breakdown/solo, playout over repeated chorus. That doesn’t mean they’re all variations of the same thing – there are lighter as well as heavier songs and some tasty playing from guitarists Sarah Michelle and Rosie Botterill. Standouts for me are the raunchy blues of ‘Use You’ and the anthemic, guitar-heavy ‘Silence’ with a solo that will have you reaching for the air guitar. (Whose, I am not sure about until I see this one done live!) Appearing on record for the first time is ‘Limitless’; that one was performed live from their early days and is one of the more uptempo rockers on the album. I’d have liked a little more of that personally (they have one other as yet unrecorded song in their repertoire, ‘Turn It All Around’ in which they really cut loose), but this one rocks too, with a terrific lead solo from Rosie. Title track ‘Gemini’ features a little slide guitar, which I’d guess is Sarah Michelle’s doing. The listener might be fooled a bit by the intro to ‘Too High’ (the first track of side two on the LP); opening with Aiym Almas singing over piano chords (courtesy of Anna Mylee) before the main body of the song kicks in with a guitar riff which reminded me of Black Sabbath’s ‘Mob Rules’, before the middle section introduces another riff which, strangely enough made me think of Ozzy’s ‘Crazy Train’!

I’ve not mentioned the rhythm section up to now, they lock in together really well though fans of bass player Becky Baldwin will have to listen more closely for her fills, she’s a little less prominent with this band than she was with, say the trio format of IDestroy. The drum sound on this record gives a satisfying ‘thump’; the producers did a fine job of capturing Anna Mylee’s sound.

Overall the group can be proud of this album, it’s a solid debut which like the EP, demonstrates their huge potential. I still feel there’s a lot more to come from them in future though, especially if they can overcome the logistics of having an international membership with an LA-based singer and the musicians scattered across Britain and Ireland. What they need is a backer with bottomless pockets, to enable them to base themselves in one location (LA? London?) – of course, there’s not too many of those about! They remain unsigned as of June 2018, with this record now available I’d expect that situation to change before very much longer.

For now though, this is a promising debut. They haven’t quite hit it out of the park but to use cricketing parlance, they’ve got it through the covers and it will reach the boundary for four. Four inflatable guitars, that is!

DORJA are playing a short run of dates in the UK and Europe in June/July 2018, with dates in Birmingham on the 14th of July and an appearance at SOS Festival in Prestwich, near Manchester on the 15th. This record will be available to purchase directly from them at the shows with a full release to take place in the near future. They’ve also issued a lyric video for ‘Use You’ to coincide with these dates, presented below:

http://www.dorjaband.com

4 – Deserving

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Album: Ghost ‘Prequelle’ (Loma Vista Recordings)

The fourth album from Swedish theatrical metallers Ghost sees the band on the cusp of breaking through to major success. As with every album, the act has unveiled a ‘new’ frontman for its anonymous troupe of Nameless Ghouls, identified only by elemental names such as ‘Fire’ or ‘Water’. The difference this time around is that the masked vocalist has taken on an entirely new persona (dubbed ‘Cardinal Copia’), instead of variations of the Papa Emeritus character he has portrayed since the band’s inception. It’s also become public knowledge that all of these characters have been played by the same person, vocalist Tobias Forge. His identity was widely known among fans already, but since he was the subject of legal action (still ongoing at the time of writing) from some former members of Ghost, he was ‘outed’ as the brains behind the band. None of this has affected the band’s rise to prominence, and this album was eagerly anticipated after they had gained a substantial amount of new fans on their last tour, at one point even opening for the legendary Iron Maiden.

Lead-off single ‘Rats’ gave a good indication of what was to come, it’s a catchy, even poppy song (including a ‘whoa-whoa’ bit in the chorus) but with sufficient heavy metal guitar riffing to appease the headbangers. The video showed Cardinal Copia resplendent in a natty outfit with moves reminiscent of Michael Jackson. Lyrically, it alludes to the Black Death, and how that destroyed many lives. The whole album is broadly based around death (‘don’t you forget about dying, don’t you forget about your friend death‘ – Pro Memoria). So it may be an album full of catchy pop/rock songs, but it is as dark as you are going to get in its song lyrics.

The band took to the road in the US before the album’s release, so much of this material has been heard by fans, both at the shows and through social media as clips of the new show have been shared. Ghost also previewed parts of it in their video shorts which introduced the Cardinal Copia character; ‘Faith’, ‘Pro Memoria’ and ‘See The Light’ were teased. ‘Faith’ is one of the heavier moments of the album, but still accessible. If radio programmers weren’t listening too closely to the lyrics, they might even deem this album radio-friendly!

The big surprise of the album is instrumental ‘Miasma’ (it refers to a foul stench, associated once again with death, for example with unburied bodies such as happened during the Plague). For a band made up of anonymous musicians, where only the lead singer is known, to perform an instrumental (in fact there are two; ‘Helvetesfönster’ – literally ‘Hell’s Window’, towards the end of the album recalls ‘Pro Memoria’ in its melody) is surprising enough. For there to be a saxophone solo is an even bigger surprise! It’s quite a prog-rock style number, and when performed live, it featured Papa Nihil (the ‘elder’ Papa shown on the video shorts) on the sax! ‘Dance Macabre’ (no relation to a similarly-titled song from Delain) is a dancefloor classic in the making; I can picture this one filling the floor at your local rock night.

prequelle

Already, this album has divided Ghost’s fans; while many have taken to it for the immediate impact of the songs, others have been scathing about it being ‘too commercial’. In truth, Ghost have never been the sort of po-faced black metal band of the sort you see in forests prowling around in corpse paint; rather their take on the whole ‘satanic’ thing is humorous, they are taking the mickey with the concept and set out to amuse, rather than terrify their audience. If you’re a fan of 1980s hard rock bands, particularly the more ‘glam’ style, this album will probably appeal to you more. Certainly many of its songs will latch into your brain quickly, Forge has that knack of writing a hit – if the powers that be decide it’s a hit that is!

The other 1980s thing about this album is that it is quite short! The ten tracks which make up the standard album add up to a running time of around 40 minutes. For anyone who still tapes albums onto one side of a C-90 cassette, you’ll love this! However, it has little in the way of filler – the material is strong throughout.

As an old-school rock fan myself, I can see where a lot of Forge’s ideas come from, but he does have a talent for songwriting, and has created a world of characters to illustrate his music, which helps fans ‘buy into’ the whole concept. I think this album will stand the test of time, long after the image has been forgotten about these songs will still sound good in 30 years time. Someone else will have to verify that for me though, since I will likely be part of this album’s concept myself by that stage!

Listen to ‘Prequelle’ for yourself here via Spotify:

 

 

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4 – Deserving

Holly Henderson launches new website ahead of album release

The Kent musician and songwriter Holly Henderson has just launched a new website with photos, video and significantly, three excerpts from her long-awaited album recorded in LA last year and produced by (renowned guitarist) Pete Thorn. Of these extracts, ‘Loneliness’ will probably be familiar as it was previewed on BBC Radio Kent last summer, while the other two clips (for the tracks ‘Cost Of Love’ and ‘Pride Can Wait’) are heard for the first time on the site. I intend to review this album the moment it hits my ears but for now, the three snippets promise a welcome diversity to this album.

‘Loneliness’, the one track that’s been heard in full up to now, is a pacy rocker, a tasty slice of guitar-driven rock with a hint of Pearl Jam, while ‘Cost Of Love’ will make you think of The Police with its insistent chugging guitar. ‘Pride Can Wait’ is a much slower number, more akin to her work on the ‘Opium Drip’ EP. She has earned a reputation as a fine guitarist, however these clips show how her voice has developed in leaps and bounds since she first took tentative steps into lead vocal territory on her self-produced EPs. No longer drenched in reverb, there’s a new-found confidence in her vocal delivery that bodes well for the album as a whole.

The website also includes video content such as her promo for ‘Breakdown’ (filmed in LA and directed by George Mays), her cover of Bowie’s ‘Lazarus’ which directly led to the album recording session with Pete Thorn, as well as an EPK with some more brief extracts from this upcoming record. In addition there are some exquisitely-shot promo photos (by Claudio Tristano) which show Holly with her beloved Telecaster guitar, as well as indicating her penchant for 1970s fashions! Lastly, there’s a webshop with the three EPs released to date available (‘Rust’, ‘Desert Wax’ and ‘Opium Drip’). The album release was put back to allow her to return to LA and add a few finishing touches, but the launch of this website could well indicate she is finally ready to gear up for a summer release. She has played some selected dates (showcasing tracks from this album) with her live band recently too, and more are planned.

Having followed Holly since her days as a rhythm guitar player in a covers band, her talent has always stood out and I am just one of many who are keenly awaiting this album. I hope to speak with her once the record is ready for release and talk about the making of this album and her future plans.

Holly Henderson (photo: Claudio Tristano)

Holly Henderson (photo: Claudio Tristano)

Holly Henderson Music website

Ghost transition from Papa Emeritus to Cardinal Copia

It’s been an exciting time for fans of the Swedish ‘masked metallers’ Ghost. After each album and tour cycle the group always ‘replaces’ its frontman, until now a masked, pope-like figure called Papa Emeritus. There have been three incarnations; Papa Emeritus I, II and III – each with a slightly different look and persona, and the third incarnation was fronting the band up until their last tour date in their Swedish homeland, on September 30th 2017. During their traditional closing number ‘Monstrance Clock’, two crewmen physically hauled Papa III off the stage, as the band (made up of masked musicians known only as Nameless Ghouls) stopped playing and followed him off stage. Just as Papa III was disappearing stage left, a new figure entered from the other side. An aged Papa, apparently frail and using an oxygen mask, accompanied by two more crew members. Introducing himself as Papa Emeritus Zero, he stated (in Italian) that “party time is over, the Middle Ages start now!” He was then escorted off the stage as the lights went up to signify the end of the show. Footage was captured of the moment Papa Emeritus III was removed and Papa Zero emerged:

Ghost fans had to wait until April of this year before finding out what happened to the Papas and who would replace Papa III. They released a trilogy of short videos starting at the beginning of the month, with the aged Papa meeting with the mysterious ‘Sister Imperator’ at their ministry, to discuss who would be the successor. The comically-themed short shows Papa Zero (now retooled as ‘Papa Nihil’, and speaking English) revealed as the father of all three previous Papas; he is informed by Sister Imperator that as the line of succession is now exhausted and that he is too old to take the role himself, they must find a new successor.

The second short, released two weeks later picks up the story as a new figure enters, in black vestments and carrying a ghettoblaster. Despite objections from Papa Nihil, Sister Imperator reminds him that this new character (introduced as ‘Cardinal Copia’) is the next most senior member, and he is duly initiated. Following this Papa Nihil and Sister Imperator leave to inform the three previous Papas of ‘their new mission’:

The final video short in the trilogy, released only at the end of April, is the big ‘reveal’. Accompanied by some new music, presumably from the upcoming album, the Papas are shown sat in a darkened room playing card game Uno amongst themselves, when Sister Imperator bursts in to announce that they are ‘being reinstated’ and will be going ‘back on the road in full regalia’. A make-up free Papa III shrugs, confused as the door closes, but as soon as he sits down again a Nameless Ghoul appears, brandishing a syringe and injects Papa III who promptly collapses. (The other two Papas are unseen but are also presumably whacked in the same manner).

From there the scene switches to a morgue, as the apparently dead Papas are shown to be embalmed by a creepy-looking ‘surgeon’, before he places each (complete with their vestments) in a casket, then a flight case for transportation. This is accompanied by another piece of new music, once again a probable taster for the new Ghost album. As they are loaded into a van, waved off by Sister Imperator, a voiceover invites fans to ‘come see the Papas’ at a forthcoming ‘VIP Experience’. This video short was played at a special ‘sermon’ (streamed live on Facebook for fans worldwide) in New York on April 30th 2018 where the band’s US tour dates plus two large-scale arena shows were announced (one in New York, one in LA).

The video shorts were beautifully-made, with comic touches and that aspect was played up at the ‘sermon’, where Papa Nihil and Sister Imperator appeared in person. They formed a perfect comedy duo which had their audience in stitches. The elaborate setting is all to facilitate the transition to Cardinal Copia as the band’s new ‘frontman’ for the upcoming album and tour. Of course, as everyone now knows, Ghost’s frontman is and has always been played by vocalist/main songwriter Tobias Forge, reinventing his persona with each album and tour cycle.

A lawsuit against Forge was filed last year by several former members of Ghost who claimed that they had not been sufficiently paid from the band’s income from album releases and tours. Those former band members revealed their identities as well as that of Forge himself, forcing him to come clean that he was the brains behind the operation. The case is ongoing at the time of writing, but Forge has nonetheless pressed ahead with new musicians in the Nameless Ghoul outfits for touring. The identity of Forge as Ghost’s leader has been an open secret among fans long before this all took place however, so the group’s popularity has not been drastically affected by the legal action.

It also came to light during this case that the Papa Emeritus character was not actually created by Forge, but by an associate of one of Ghost’s former guitarists. This may have influenced Forge’s decision to break away from the ‘Papa Emeritus’ line for his new character, but he has stated in interviews (given for the first time as himself, rather than under an assumed ‘Nameless Ghoul’ identity) that he didn’t want the concept to become ‘stale’ by introducing yet another ‘Papa’ persona for this album and tour cycle.

Regardless of who is backing Tobias Forge this time around, he has succeeded in creating a fascinating cast of characters, presented in cinematic style and all with a dash of comedy. That sets him and Ghost apart from many ‘satanic’ themed Metal bands, this outfit is playing it for laughs and their live shows are certainly not ‘threatening’ but more of an Alice Cooper-style piece of musical theatre.

The shows are likely to be successful and when they come back to Europe no doubt demand for tickets will be very high indeed. 

‘Prequelle’ is released on June 1st 2018. Below is the video for lead-off single ‘Rats’ (featuring Cardinal Copia) taken from the forthcoming album:

The Dead Daisies release ‘Resurrected’ in advance of their upcoming album

Hard rockers The Dead Daisies, a ‘collective’ project started in 2012 by Australian guitarist (and one of the country’s leading businessmen) David Lowy, comprising some of rock’s finest players, have today released ‘Resurrected’, a track taken from their upcoming fourth album (‘Burn It Down’).

The band has seen many musicians come and go during its five-year existence, but has more recently stabilised its line-up with founder member Lowy, vocalist John Corabi, bassist Marco Mendoza and lead guitarist Doug Aldrich (all of whom played on the last album, 2016’s ‘Make Some Noise’) now being joined by drummer Deen Castronovo. Previous drummer Brian Tichy announced his departure last year, with the former Journey sticksman taking over the drum stool  in time to record this upcoming album.  The group have already given selected fans a sneak preview of the album but they have decided to make one track generally available as a taster.

If this track is any indication of the album, then the fourth Daisies platter will be their heaviest one to date. The opening riff smashes in with a guitar sound not far removed from Monster Truck, though early fans will note that it is a long way (to go?) from the first incarnation of the band. When I get the full album a write-up will appear on this blog, and I am looking forward to seeing the Daisies at Bilston’s Robin 2 on their Spring UK tour when they will no doubt play several tracks from this album.

For now, here is the Spotify link to the track ‘Resurrected’ – crank it up, reach for the neck brace and pick up that air guitar!

The Dead Daisies release ‘Burn It Down’ on Spitfire Records, on April 6th 2018 and have a UK/European tour booked for April/May, with further shows planned for Japan, South America, the US and Canada throughout the rest of the year.

Click Image to go to the Dead Daisies website

The Dead Daisies 2018 tour poster (click to go to the band website)

CATS in SPACE guitarist comes ‘Full Circle’ with reissue

The band CATS in SPACE have been enjoying some much-deserved success over the past year; comprising guys who have been around the block as it were, their collective experience and musical craft has seen them gain favour with rock fans quite quickly. Now the fan base has been delving back into the members’ respective pasts, and there have been many requests for a reissue of ‘Full Circle’, an album released by CATS founder member Greg Hart ten years ago under the band name ‘Hartless’. I treated myself to a copy at the time of the original release, and gave it a good write-up on my old MySpace blog, likening it to a bygone era when rock bands such as Thin Lizzy were seen on TV shows frequently, especially the anarchic Saturday morning show ‘Tiswas’!

At the time of that album, Greg had just ended a decade-long stint as one of two guitarists in long-established tribute band Limehouse Lizzy; this album makes plain his deep admiration for Lynott and company from the get-go with a pose featuring Greg in a Thin Lizzy t-shirt. There is strong Lizzy influence throughout the record, although he and the band (comprising guitarist Marty Wells, bassist/vocalist Ray Edmunds, drummer Michael van Dell as well as Greg himself on lead guitar and vocals) were able to produce an album of songs that recalled the golden era of 70s rock, without outright copying it.  They did include one Lizzy cover (‘Romeo & The Lonely Girl’), further emphasising their admiration of the Irish rockers.

Following this record he went on to work once more with his old band Moritz and eventually formed an act (which also includes present CATS keyboardist Andy Stewart) celebrating the pop hits of the 1970s, with male and female singers, and playing live a broad selection of hit songs from artists of many differing styles. Originally titled ‘The Jackie Generation’, it became known as ‘Supersonic 70s Show’ or ‘Solid Gold 70s Show’ and continues to tour the UK regularly.

Back to ‘Hartless’, and the reissue of ‘Full Circle’ will be available from the beginning of February and is strictly limited to 100 copies. The album will only be available as a physical CD; no downloads, no streaming, so if you want one, be quick!  Recommended for fans of 1970s styled pop-rock; to register interest, contact Greg directly.

Screenshot-2018-1-31 Greg Hart

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CD/DVD: Whitesnake ‘The Purple Tour – Live’ (Rhino Entertainment)


Sourced from a performance at the Genting Arena, Birmingham in December 2015 (a show which your correspondent attended), this live album and video captures the current incarnation of Whitesnake during their tour supporting ‘The Purple Album’, vocalist David Coverdale’s celebration of his time fronting Deep Purple.

The release is available in several formats, as is so often the case these days. Most will plump for either the CD/DVD or CD/Blu-Ray package (yours truly opted for the former), but for those who just want an audio memento of this concert it is available either as a standalone CD or on double vinyl LP.

Utilising a similar artwork theme as used on ‘The Purple Album’, the presentation here is beautiful. The familiar Whitesnake ‘amulet’ surrounded by that distinctive lettering is present and correct, only with the band members now depicted around that amulet. The purple marble effect on the cover is seductive, and will make a nice companion for the 2015 album, the tour programme (if you have it) or even the recent coffee-table book, if you had pockets deep enough to stretch to either edition!

David Coverdale acts as much as master of ceremonies as lead vocalist on this DVD, the video presentation makes sure it is as much about the players currently surrounding him as it is about himself; every member is given a good amount of screen time with individual camera shots for each. The cuts are rapid, similar to how it was done for the earlier ‘Live In The Still Of The Night’ DVD, and there are black and white shots frequently interspersed like in that production. That’s something I am not a massive fan of, but these are a little less jarring with the shots being not quite so ‘grainy’ this time. The director for this footage is Canadian Tyler Bourns, who also worked on the bonus promo video for ‘Burn’, released to YouTube at Christmas and included on this disc. The DVD picture is mostly crisp, but the sharp-eyed will notice some ‘artifacts’ in the picture which may or may not be down to visual effects used in post-production. For fans of a certain age, who remember watching bootleg VHS tapes of this band back in the 80s, it’s not a show-stopper compared to the tape dropouts we had to put up with in those days!

I was at this concert and reviewed it at the time for this blog, so I shan’t go into detail once again about the actual show. The band (guitarists Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach, bassist Michael Devin, keyboardist Michele Luppi and veteran drummer Tommy Aldridge) gave a splendid performance, allowing Coverdale to ham it up in front of this huge crowd as only he can. He sounds in good voice on this presentation, although even his most ardent fans will now concede he isn’t what he once was. He has chosen these players for their vocal as well as instrumental abilities; you see all of them providing strong vocal backing for the main man throughout, in particular Reb Beach and Michele Luppi.

Overall, it is a good value package, including a complete concert performance plus extras, in the form of the ‘Burn’ promo video, a short interview segment where Michael Devin quizzes Joel Hoekstra and Reb Beach (with generous portions of humour), and some bonus audio, presented on the DVD or Blu-ray in stereo or 5.1.  When this tour came to the UK the band had limited time, as it was a co-headline tour with Def Leppard and so some of the songs performed in other countries were left out of the UK shows. That was a little disappointing I thought, as this was a unique tour in which Purple classics from Coverdale’s old days were revived, possibly for the only time. He has rectified that, at least in part with three songs not done on the UK tour included here (‘You Keep On Moving’, Lay Down Stay Down’, and ‘Stormbringer’ with the other track ‘Lotsanotes’ being a guitar duel between the two axemen). It isn’t made clear when these tracks were recorded, but I’d guess it came early on in the tour as ‘Lay Down Stay Down’ was only in the set for a few shows.  This is a carefully produced and lavishly presented set, and will no doubt prove popular with Coverdale’s loyal fans.

wstheprupletour

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4 – Deserving

 

Whitesnake release video for ‘Burn’ from ‘The Purple Tour – Live’

Whitesnake gave their fans a little Christmas gift this week with the release of a specially-shot promo video for ‘Burn’, one of several Deep Purple songs revisited by singer David Coverdale for 2015’s ‘The Purple Album’ and the subsequent tour. This video is set to a live performance of the song, taken from the upcoming ‘The Purple Tour – Live’ CD and DVD package. The release of this set has been delayed but is now slated to come out on January 19th. There will be a choice of either a CD/DVD or CD/Blu-Ray set, as well as audio-only versions available on LP, CD or digitally.

The video (directed by Tyler Bourns; described by Coverdale as a ‘young, hip gunslinger’) features all of the current band members (guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekstra, bassist Michael Devin, keyboardist Michele Luppi and drummer Tommy Aldridge) intercut with numerous special effects and introduces Tiffany Atkinson (Coverdale’s ‘Executive Personal Assistant’) as the ‘fire’ woman depicted in the song lyric.

The track listing for the CD/DVD, CD/Blu-Ray and audio CD is as follows:

  1. Burn
  2. Bad Boys
  3. Love Ain’t No Stranger
  4. The Gypsy
  5. Give Me All Your Love
  6. Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City
  7. Mistreated
  8. You Fool No One
  9. Soldier Of Fortune
  10. Is This Love
  11. Fool For Your Loving
  12. Here I Go Again
  13. Still Of The Night

The CD/DVD or CD/Blu-Ray sets will also feature the music video as shown above plus interviews with the band members, as well as bonus live audio in high-resolution 5.1 of the following tracks:

  • You Keep On Moving
  • Lay Down Stay Down
  • Lotsanotes
  • Stormbringer

The vinyl version of the album will include all of the main set plus ‘You Keep On Moving’.

Whitesnake recently released their first book (‘The Purple Tour – A Photographic Journey’) in strictly limited quantities, and have been working on an album of new material for a 2018 release. They also recently announced that they are to tour the US as special guests to Foreigner in summer 2018; at the time of writing they are yet to announce any dates for UK or Europe.

The band have also released an audio taster of the upcoming album, a live rendition of ‘Fool For Your Loving’:

A review of this CD/DVD will appear on the blog once I get my copy!

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Album: Wayward Sons ‘Ghosts Of Yet To Come’ (Frontiers)

One of rock’s good guys, former Little Angels singer Toby Jepson has done several things since that band went their separate ways in the mid-90s. He toured under his own name in the early 2000s, which attracted some fans of his old band but was almost totally ignored by the rock papers, then obsessed with all things nu-metal. Following that, he had a brief spell as lead singer for reformed Scots rockers Gun, before handing over the mic to their bassist Dante Gizzi. In amongst all of that he was becoming known as a producer, working with some notable bands including Saxon and The Answer, as well as linking up with (motorcycle racer-turned singer) James Toseland for writing and production work on his band’s first album.

Now he has decided to return to the fray with a completely new band. Wayward Sons were formed in 2016, the singer recruited a line-up of experienced but not necessarily well-known players for this band. Joining him are bassist Nic Wastell, guitarist Sam Wood, drummer Phil Martini (the only name which rang a bell with me, he played for a while with Luke Morley’s post-Thunder band The Union and also with Joe Elliott’s Down ‘n’ Outz), and keyboardist Dave Kemp. Lead-off single ‘Until The End’ came out in the summer, a taster for the album. A short and snappy, hard-hitting hard rocker with a powerful vocal delivery, it got a lot of play on Planet Rock, the UK’s sole hard rock radio station (that isn’t broadcast only over the web!) Those hoping that ‘Until The End’ was representative of the band’s sound will be pleased to find that the rest of this album is very much in that style; guitar riffs right there in your face, big pounding drums, vocal pyrotechnics from Jepson (he really pushes himself on opening track ‘Alive’ to such an extent that he comes close to Glenn Hughes territory) and – enough hooks there to have you singing this stuff back after the album finishes.

waywardsonscd

There’s also some welcome variety in the lyrical content – the music is recognisably old-school hard rock, but it isn’t set to lyrics about boozing, birds and brawling. For example ‘Ghost’ is a dig at modern life and how it’s all paid for on tick (‘buy yourself a happy life, with your plastic friend’) while ‘Alive’ is similar in sentiment to Thunder’s ‘No-One Gets Out Alive’ (‘what if I said, that wealth don’t mean a thing?’)

If you’re looking for long, progressive epics on this record, look elsewhere – all the songs here are short and to the point. The longest is album closer ‘Something Wrong’, and all the other songs bar ‘Don’t Wanna Go’ clock in at under four minutes.  The overall sound is almost punky, with that guitar right up in the mix and the songs played with verve, with energy, the sort of thing that is designed to get a crowd up and bouncing from the first powerchord. It is a short album then, at around 37 minutes, but with plenty of punch in those 37 minutes to leave you in need of a cuppa (or something stronger!) after the CD comes to a standstill.

At the time of this post Wayward Sons are coming to the end of a run of UK dates supporting fellow Brit rockers Inglorious. With Jepson’s vast experience in the business both on stage and off, there could be the possibility of him working with the younger band on their third album. If they’ve had that conversation then the third album from Nathan James and company will be one to look out for. (I am of course speculating!) Wayward Sons themselves can look forward to a bright 2018, as they embark on headline dates in the early part of next year. All in all, a welcome ‘return’ for Toby Jepson as he hasn’t really gone away, but this is the band which will restore him to prominence on the British rock scene.

4 - deserving

4 – Deserving

Album: Foo Fighters ‘Concrete And Gold’ (Roswell Records/RCA)

The biggest rock band in the world return with their ninth album. Unsure as to that claim? Look at the profile of mainman Dave Grohl; he’s everywhere, not just in the rock press, but in all the gossip columns. He has all the high-falutin’ friends (no less than Paul McCartney appears on this album, for instance) and it wasn’t that long ago that the Foo Fighters played alongside Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones – at a huge stadium gig that has been their domain for several years now. This is one rock band that your friends, work colleagues, family has heard of – if you’re a dedicated gig-goer you’ll know all too well how often people dismiss the band you have a ticket for with those words: ‘never heard of ’em’, as though that renders the band non-existent.  No problem here, even your ordinary average Heart FM listener knows who the Foo Fighters are, and when they do play their huge stadium gigs, they attract the sort of crowd who wouldn’t normally have anything at all to do with ‘rock’. In short, they’re the one rock group it’s ‘OK’ to like. So, this is surely the sort of release that is an ‘event’, one which will see folk flocking back in their droves to the much-maligned record stores to grab their copies, yes?

Well, possibly. They are of such stature now that they’re ‘critic-proof’; no matter what is said or written about this record, it will indeed likely fly out of the stores (or down the superhighway, if it is downloaded). At the time of this post, it is the number one album in the UK charts, and looks set to stick around for a while. But is it any good? Thanks to the (also much-maligned) Spotify, I decided to give it a listen or two and find out for myself. I’ve not stayed in close touch with the Foos since they attained megastar status (the last time I actually saw them live was in 2002); I’ve liked a few tracks from their more recent output but to these ears, they’ve never really bettered  ‘The Colour And The Shape’, now a staggering twenty years old.

For this record, the band recruited some major names, starting with producer Greg Kurstin (who has worked with Adele, and written for many other big names in the pop world), and the aforementioned Paul McCartney contributes drums on one song (‘Sunday Rain’). That in itself raised eyebrows, since this band contains two accomplished drummers already. Other guests include pop stars Justin Timberlake and (Boys II Men singer) Shawn Stockman, although you won’t find much influence from that sphere in this record. It’s still recognisably Foo Fighters, with plenty of guitar wallop, and both Grohl’s familiar roar and more melodic singing voice are present and correct.

What there isn’t, is a song that sticks in the mind the way previous numbers such as ‘Times Like These’, ‘Everlong’, or ‘Learn To Fly’ did. I could go through the previous albums and come across at least one title on each, and have the tune instantly pop into my head. Grohl & Co. always had a knack of writing a pop song with enough rock punch to appeal to those of us who prefer a fist in the air to a waving lighter. That isn’t the case here, none of these songs have that hook. Even after a few playthroughs, not even lead-off single ‘Run’ lingers in the mind for long. It does have its moments; the McCartney-driven ‘Sunday Rain’ is a fine late-era Beatles pastiche, with Taylor Hawkins coming out from his drumkit to take lead vocal to good effect. The slower ‘Happy Ever After (Zero Hour)’ also provides a change of style from the rest of the album, reminiscent of ‘Blackbird’ (by The Beatles, not Alter Bridge!) It all sounds big; ‘The Line’ creeps close to Killers territory for instance. It all sounds mighty and impressive, but half an hour later you won’t find yourself humming much of this. The title track closes things; it is meant to be a brooding epic, but merely plods along to its concluding powerchord. (There is an extra ‘bit’ after the track concludes, but not much to get excited about).

It isn’t a BAD album, but it isn’t a great one either. When we are talking about the biggest rock band in the world, it isn’t enough to listen and think, mmm, that wasn’t bad. The Foo Fighters are now heading up the very same rock establishment that Grohl’s previous band was credited with dismantling, and sadly this record does come across as a bit too ‘establishment’. Not one I’ll be rushing out to grab on any physical format, for my Foos fix it’s still the first three or four albums that I’ll be reaching for.

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A Spotify link is provided below should you wish to listen for yourself:

3 – Decent