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NMC Music 2001
In 1979 public faced quite different ROXY: gone was Eddie Jobson, who, not unlike Eno, represented the experimental side of the band. Now, time came for crooning, and Ferry felt completely free to celebrate his decadence leanings; that’s what “Manifesto” was about. Thus showed the end Brian took as a challenge and, right after the album release, ROXY embarked on a US tour, which spawned this document. Ferry’s intentions are clear, a concert begins with three new songs, audience wasn’t yet familiar with – “Manifesto”, sure, “Angel Eyes” and “Trash”. No sign of weirdness – and that was weird.

Flat pop from flat top – good arrangements with stress on Gary Tibbs’ bass rather than Manzanera’s guitar and Mckay’s sax, and, as a result, weak melodies. Sigh of relief with “Out Of The Blue” is almost pulpable, all the drastic changes to it notwithstanding (compare it to the version on "Vintage"). Impression’s strong even despite out-of-tune guitar, the fact more prominent on the “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” solo. New reading of old tunes comes interesting given David Skinner’s piano treatment – Andy steps forward for the band to track their way back through vibrant “A Song For Europe” and “Do The Strand” to the very beginning, “Ladytron” and “Re-make/Re-model”, a fitting finale – bass quoting “Ticket To Ride”, guitar opting for “Satisfaction” riff.

Another instalment of “Manifesto” proves driving, if prancing, there are “Still Falls The Rain”, “Ain’t It So” and “Stronger Through The Years”, all full of bitter irony – titles no way correspond with the reality! ROXY fans appeared to prefer “Love Is The Drug” to dance trends, and on the second part of the show passion rules the game, the band play songs already deemed classic as if saluting the past. It deserved such an attitude, bonus tracks “Mother Of Pearls” and “Editions Of You” draw the line: ROXY weren’t miracle anymore, it was flesh and blood around the bend.



Stone Premonitions 1998
Something went wrong there with HAT and, compared to "Take Good Care", its successor feels flat a bit – but ain’t it what titles suggest? The main drawback is Tim Jones and Terry B. recite over hypnotic keyboards rather than sing, and Martin Holder’s arresting guitar is given rein only on the final, untitled track. In the beginning, the divide of “Earth/Man” feels OK, and “Menace A Trois” comes all but great in its Chinese-tinged fineness, melodic and minimalistic. The sparse approach characterizes the album throughout, but if “Silt And Sand”, raw to a certain extent, seems a thread logical, “Goldsmiths And Gold Diggers” flows into jazzy field to dissolve the rest into songs as inexpressible as those of previous album were disctinctive. Each of them, like mellow “Passion’s Great Betrayal” and outlandish “Benfit Fraud”, could draw you in, yet together they lose a listener, only guitar manages to make it all somehow coherent. Still, there are standout moments – “Evilution” bass intro is powerfully sweeping to dare resist, while “Hydra” buys with its folky beat. Then, however funky “How Did The Lady Die” (great coda!) is, the interest isn’t sustained enough, and here album could get aborted with no stain on HAT’s reputation. No rabbits this time, unfortunately.


Over The Hills
And Far Away

Spinefarm Records 2001
Had NIGHTWISH chosen “Over The Hills And Far Away” by ZEPPELIN, it would serve them well, but Gary Moore? No, the Finnish combo have cut the top-notch cover, with many plaudits to Tarja’s singing and boys’ playing, they manage to remind of Moore’s hard rock glory – and lose there, as great Irish motif overshadows ensemble’s own output. It’s not only melody that matters, yet the song itself, demanding a certain arrangement, very live if compared to the band’s sterile sound, too counted, too precise even on six concert recordings included here. Except for “Wishmaster”, perhaps, which rounds off the album in a style akin to the title track. And there’s magnificient “Walking In The Air” hymn, redolent of Annie Haslam‘s manner. Overall, it’s interesting to hear the band live, although the feel is here was a good amount of studio magic applied.

As for new tracks, neither “10th Man Down”, nor “Away”, both strong and impressive, especially the latter, have enough quality to stand out, that makes this CD come targeted strictly at NIGHTWISH fans, fresh remake of “Astral Romance” another proof. On the other hand, it may be a good taster for the beginners, and, one way or another, “Over The Hills”, the song, is worth the deal alone. THIN LIZZY freaks can get their kicks out of it too.


The Lost Tapes

Frontiers Records 2001
A must for melodic metal aficionados, this compilation contains recordings made in 1987-1988, the last period of GIUFFRIA and DIRTY WHITE BOY short existance. What strikes is the sound quality – demos don’t look like that. Yes, there’s “The Ballad”, lyrically raw yet powerfully played – it was destined to make the BOY debut, concocted with great blues guitarist Earl Slick, who spiced up not only Eisley’s singing but also his writing. Eisley’s choice of Slick’s company doesn’t seem occasional after work with Gregg Giuffria, whose keyboards could change a song drastically: when he operated organ, like on “Shot Down In Love”, that feels bluesier and better by far from, say, too syropy “Don’t Turn Away From Love”.

As for GIUFFRIA material, “Stand Up” is the hit and had all the rights to dent into charts, rocking full with Chuck Wright’s bass and Ken Mary’s drums, while young Lanny Cordola proves his skills equal to Craig Goldie’s he had replaced – listen to his fiery playing on David Coverdale-esque “Slip Of The Tongue”, re-done later by HOUSE OF LORDS. A couple of tunes might as well belong to AEROSMITH canon – “Back Of My Hand”, for instance, based on Slick’s slide hocus pocus. Regarding vocal performance, who doubted David’s excellence? It may vary from tight and low on smoking “Lay Down Your Love” to loose shouting of “Pleasure Palace”. Then, for “Boot Hill Blues” live rendition Eisley chose tone so different, hard to believe it’s him singing – real blues demands its due, and both Earl and David shine. At least now, with dust removed.


Sweet Lick Of Fire

Noise Records 2001
Sweet lick or great balls? The burning degree is significantly different, and that’s clear on this ill-advised effort to marry mainstrean melodic metal to alternative harmonies and sound. Take “Inhibition” and throw its collection of cliches away before you get bored. You will anyway, with insipid title track, too electronically-laden to enjoy its thick textures. Acoustic guitar/piano thread of “Time” is better, but on the way to orchestration melody gets ditched in favour of lo-fi feel, which penetrates even BEATLE-ish “Praying For The Day” or roots rock’n’roll that is “Born Again”. What does kick is Mikey J.’s bass – bass album of LIZZY kind it is – and there are some catchy moments, like “Kaleidoscopic Eyes” chorus, yet sparse riffage proves all too stupid, despite Chris Jones’ guitarslinger prowess, on offer in radio-friendly – and flat – “Behind Closed Door” and “Where I Belong”. Shades of OASIS in “Painless”? Grrr! Then, how many songs you’ll be reminded with “So Help Me God”? That’s the point – it’s not original, so the more pretentious “The Greatest Show On Earth” is. Search for the Grail elsewhere, not on SABBATH territory.


Late Night Truck Stop

NMC Music 2001
Those were the good old time when LITTLE FEAT stepped on the Earth lead by great late Lowell George, whose untimely death spared the band from the glory they were starting to bask in 1973 that this show hails from. Public loved them, ensemble reciprocated with yet to be recorded “The Fan”, FEAT weren’t slow in delivering the goods, starting with monumental “Apolitical Blues”, drenched in swampy slide playing from Lowell and splashing of Bill Payne’s bar piano, all hot and humid compared to the ALLMANS drift. And were FEAT in motion! – “Walkin’ All Night” and “Sailin’ Shoes” show exactly that.

Curiously, rush gets calmed down to kick in anew in the second part of the concert, once the title track of then-promoted “Dixie Chicken” is introduced for the first time to reappear in the very end leaking out of “Cold, Cold, Cold” and boiling it up. This mood is what the band could convey impeccably, “Two Train” chugs along like real steamroller. Still, it’s not only tradition FEAT embraced so well in “Cat Fever” Delta swirl, but also fresh trends, as reggae that “Snake On Everything” with its jazzy solo and “Got No Shadow” draw on. Sometimes, there’s a shade of extravagnza, George learnt while served for Zappa’s MOTHERS, “Texas Rose Cafe” proves to be as humorous as it gets, involving meaty organ, Latino beats and Spanish-tinctured guitar duel between Lowell and Paul Barrere; “Spanish Moon” lied around the bend, though “Fatman In A Bathtub” carousel was around to jive to, all the mighty for “Hamburger Midnight”, tasty as a hotdog. Then, blues becomes gentlier, in Alan Toussaint’s “On Your Way Down” remindful of Peter Green’s anguish.

How come first three albums that got played here commercially flopped? They were fully gripped a bit later, and the answer’s simple: music burned the hands, yet acoustic “Willin'” reveals a winning secret. FEAT could be small but, boy, did they stomp!


Language Of The Heart

Frontiers Records 2001
Sometimes it’s the name you seem to be familiar with rather than music, and that’s exactly the case. Stan Bush always was around, singing, writing, performing, but mostly in the shadow of bigger guys. Now, his profile deservedly growing, the singer brought out a strong album. A love album of high standards matching a feeling, which is intimate and should be kept to oneself, so Stan, mortal like us, tries to convince himself in opening “What I’ve Got Is Real”, balancing somewhere between David Coverdale-ish sensuality in the voice, VAN HALEN in guitar smoothness and AEROSMITH sharpness on choruses. “A Little Thing”, based on driving rock’n’roll riff, feels a natural hit – because it’s pop, SMOKIE-way. Thus, Stan builds the most of the album in semi-acoustic mid-tempo drift with bluesy guitars, a right choice for the bitter-sweet feeling of too optimistic “Don’t Let Them Down” or “Like I’ve Never Lived”, elegantly-shaped with its gospel piano – this “Let It Be” tincture pops up in the title song solo, all very uplifting, Bush stretching out from whisper to rousing harmony refrain. Still, it’s a double-edged knife, and “Some Things Never Change”, as catchy as it gets, comes poignant to the bit – a 21st century replay of BAD CO’s “Shooting Star”, just like harmonica-ridden countrified “Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone”. These tunes point to what could be done to the rest of the songs that are nothing special – yet such is language of the heart.


The Mission

Rondel Records 2001
You remember “The Wall”? Then you know what a conceptual album from a band with a leader turns out like. Andre Andersen simply pulled the blanket to his side of the bed, and that’s not like he did before – OK with the keyboards, which is his thing, and all the little bits linking the songs, but right after the short intro, in “The Mission” there’s a suspicion that drums and bass come synth-borne, fully ditching “Out Of Reach”, otherwise very good. A leap into future? For God’s sake, guitars and vocals are where they oughta be, not too loaded with effects to lead a melody straight and build a riffarama strong, making it a smash. Trademark instrumental interplay that will reach its peak in “Forth Dimension”, settles down for “Surrender” into a standard headlong rush with axe Bach-cutting across a bit syropy harmonies, rather weird sounding in “Clean Sweep”: playing the QUEEN game takes more guts – yet “World Wide War” flies well. More, “Judgement Day” together with “Total Recall” are really great, delivered soulfully in Glenn Hughes‘ way and followed by Chopin-esque menuet of “Metamorphosis”. They’re natural – and they win over tech-ridden opuses. So is the mission complete then? Well, y’know, it is. Not that readied, but what had been planned reached its logical end. Embarking on a new one would be a fatal fault though.


American Poet

NMC Music 2001
This fantastic album, recorded in New York in December 1972 during “Transformer” tour, is arguably the best live document from classic period Reed – not least, because it’s very intimate and discards a view at Lou as a gloomy fatalist. He wasn’t it then, you may be not convinced by the short radio interview included, full of dark humour (“Doug Yule’s dead” remark), yet music tells it all, disclosing Reed as none other but top-notch glam rocker – is vibrant “Walk It, Talk It” far from Bolan boogie? And wasn’t it what Reed tried to pursue on “Loaded”? Here, he delves into the VELVET UNDERGROUND swansong quite deep to perform Jagger-ish “Sweet Jane” and “Rock’n’Roll”, as if to reaffirm his rock artist status.

Thus, even some old VELVETS’ material, like “White Light, White Heat”, underwent glitter surgery to swell well and stand abreast with overtly Bowie-influenced new songs; “Vicious”, written on Warhol request, and “Satellite Of Love” startingly sound like “Ziggy” out-takes with some Dylan overtones stretching on to spiritual height in “Waiting For My Man”, never as transparent on the VA debut, while “Heroin” still retains all its darkness to spread it onto the second half of the show. This second part is where Reed delivers mostly the fresh products, already taken a notion of “Walk On The Wild Side” importance. There’s a point in “Perfect Day” absence but “I’m So Free” comes as an answer – not ultimate, fortunately, so “Berlin” isn’t the end. The end is “Rock’n’Roll”. And rock’n’roll is ultimate.


MELODICA – Lovemetal
Frontiers Records 2001
There could be no comments with a name and a title like these. They want to call it a concept album, let it be so – even though in such a case WHITESNAKE were the most conceptual band in the world. Ted Poley and Gerhard Pichler, the mavericks, get back to Frontiers, where they debuted with "Long Way From Home" in 2000 to go astray for “USAcoustica” later on, and now they cooked more tasty dish spiced with support from top-notch players – RAINBOW’s keyboardist Paul Morris and Jonathan Mover, who used to be drumming in GTR and SAXON among others. The more you cut in it, the more you get, the first touch, “Summer Nights”, is typical AOR that might easily come from zillion of bands, but once “Head Over Heels” kicks in, you’re all ears – here Pichler’s riffs and Poley’s pipes stretch along your feelings to burst out in “Lovemetal”, an anthem, no less.

And that’s a time for poignant brilliance, which comes in “Broken Promises” bass leading to great “Out Of My Mind” sensuality combining all goodies MELODICA have to offer plus gospel-like backing. As if to get rid of bittersweetness, they give us rolling “Shake” with soaring solo and lyrics going, like “same old shit”. Risque, indeed. And “Crazy”, as Ted duets with Tony Harnell of TNT fame. Extremely arresting in its seriousness “What Number Are You?” is a good question and it builds a firm bridge to cross on the way into future finishing instrumental “Gotta Save Yourself” serves as a soundtrack to.


Nod To The Old School

Metal Blade 2001
Twenty years of restless bashing out is a thing to celebrate, isn’t it? They do so, these guys, who know each other since all they were just eight years old. So this album is both nod to their lifelong bond and a ‘thank you’ to the fans, eager to get everything SAINT put out. That way, satisfaction guaranteed – and it’s a road backwards, because to make a package worthwile band get into the fray with three new originals, drift defined by the title of opening “Real Swagger” but undercurrent laid out in the other one, “Unstable”. Strong numbers, they, sadly, come targeted mainly to the faithful ones, carrying out nothing special and getting extremely close to old rivals METALLICA; “March Of The Saint” is more lively and, therefore, better, but it loses to two Seventies covers. One is freshly recorded Robin Trower’s “Day Of The Eagle”, for other, “Never Satisfied”, SAINT had to unearth JUDAS PRIEST debut – these classics bear what the quintet lack, the hook and easy going feel framed in hard rock, yet SAINT do Trower, Tipton and Downing justice, which feels important – not to spoil. They don’t.

Even more, SAINT re-assemble themselves, taking off “Tainted Past” to turn it into exquisite acoustic ringing of ZEP class – that’s essential, and a pity they went no further, having decided to deliver instead live versions of “After Me, The Flood” with “Creepy Feelings” from 2000’s tour. The rest, as they say, is history. Literally, that is – four songs prepared for the 1983’s EP and a bunch of demos harking back to late Eighties. Those in the know nod back.



NMC Music 2001
The fact that this is the only live album, where the band caught at their peak makes “Wired” a must, and such a quality performance and a pristine sound only add to its value. 1977 was a glorious time, "Nightingales And Bombers" and "The Roaring Silence" rocketed MMBE to the top, after that it was a dowmward path. Herein, they prove their greatness outside the studio walls and do they smoke. Chris Thompson‘s throat might be not in top form, the voice almost breaking down on high notes throughout, as heard in the “Spirits In The Night” chorus, and he begins “Time Is Right”, that should have been rehearsed all too well, with a false start – but hey, it’s a live document, in the end of the day! Funky “Captain Bobby Stout” and rollicking stage favourite “Mighty Quinn” illustrate this loose approach wonderfully. Less surprising, yet no less amazing is Chris Slade’s drumming, most inventive of all, keeping up with Colin Pattenden’s bass and guitar interplay between Dave Flett and Thompson – all going for the one in fantastic tapestry of “Father Of Day, Father Of Night”.

Mr. Lubowitz himself doesn’t hurry to come to the fore, yet it’s him who rules the ball from the outset, “The Road To Babylon”, very impressive in its roughness. Even more raw might sound “Davy’s On The Road Again”, which yet had to be recorded for the next album, “Watch”. Surprisingly, the song came out confident to the hilt, graced by Moog liquid solo and a madcap laughter. Manfred proves to be a strong singer too, easily sustaining the last note of “Bobby Stout” for some half a minute and criss-crossing voices with Thompson in the end of “Blinded By The Light”. EARTH BAND were one hell of rockers, and not to release this gem before was a crime. Not to have it now is a crime of a major degree.


ASIA – Aura
Wind Storm Music 2001
Towards their twentieth year, ASIA could go no further from their terrific progressive pop to soul territory. Hardly proggy now except for some Geoff Downes‘ parts like the intro to the opening “Awake”, the band still evince a penchant for a good melody, but currently it’s far below the standards they’d set long ago. No hits there – well, “You’re The Stranger” could be one – and just a few surprises, some good, some bad. Off the latter is too overt humility of the guest players, Chris Slade drumming on warm “Wherever You Are” being the most upsetting, the less imaginative you’ve ever heard from the master. Michael Sturgis Vinny Colaiuta and Simon Philips provide no wonder as well, and only Luis Jardim’s percussion enlivens some of the tracks, where lack of hook can’t be replaced by gospel choir singing. The real hero here is Guthrie Gowan, whose guitar comes arresting, remindful in its economical harmonic beauty of May’s throughout – listen to “The Longest Night”. On par with him, only Steve Howe’s jazzy solo running across Ian Crichton’s in otherwise lifeless “The Last Time”. The two are joined by Pat Thrall in “Free”, and together they turn this epic into something fantastic, with many plaudits to John Payne’s work.

“Free” aside, Payne, though good and reliable as usual, doesn’t do anything special, his bass handling’s strong, and you can’t tell the big difference between John’s manner and Tony Levin’s, who takes over for “Ready To Go Home”, penned by famous Gold-Gouldman team, but be vibrant “Coldest Day In Hell” and “Forgive Me” given to, say, Stevie Wonder or Glenn Hughes, they would shine no less than “Kings Of The Day”. And no less than instrumental “Aura” augmented with Elliott Randall’s guitar – if only “Aura” sounded unlike Downes’ solo albums! Thus, ASIA seem to be losing themselves.

Strange, extra tracks, “Under The Gun”, mighty, heavy organ-laden “Hands Of Time” and “Come Make My Day” with its “Open Your Eyes” chorus, are extremely strong, compared to the main body of work. So what’s with “Aura”? It’s just different.


Wisdom Call

Massacre Records 2001
Call of the wild, this may be, but wisdom? What we have is quite an ill-advised attempt to reproduce classic hard rock textures with stamina not enough to convince. They sing, “I Believe” – you don’t. They say, “Never Satisfied” – you believe them, despite all DIO/MAIDEN associations. And no, again, with piano-driven “Hold On To The Truth” ballad. Still, there are great moments – closing epic “Time” deserves the highest acclaim, and if the band choose this way to go, they’ll make it. Otherwise, for those into Seventies this music feels funny, and dull it should be for newcomers. The latter will hardly recognise Glenn Hughes‘ vibes incorporated into “Power From The Sky”, which could rock well be it less superficial. Where others would go for some heroic thing, in “One Way Out” and “The Lost Generation” WISDOM CALL opt for chest-beating – and that’s hard to understand, because musicians are skilful and shun themselves by following in the “Seventh Star” wake. They know the value of good riff and cook such everywhere, “Wings Of Tomorrow” has the drive needed yet top line sounds very familiar and back vocals just dumb. For “Through Fire”, though, they flow pleasantly to augment the beautiful song. All of a sudden “15 Years” presents organ solo – an impressive trick, although sound comes somehow sparse anyway. “Time”, as said before, is a healer, “Time” is right when calling.


Fire Behind Bars

Musea 2001
Not a household name for keyboard-prog aficionados, and shame on them. Jurgen Wimpelberg, the band’s mastermind, fits the same stable as Rick and Keith and hardly seems influenced by either, as he started ABACUS back in 1971, leading them through four albums to 1976’s break-up. Still, Emerson’s frantics is what springs to mind with “Avalanche”, split in two parts to bookend “Fire Behind Bars”, the long overdue collection of newly-recorded unpublished material. SOLAR PROJECT’s Robert Valet’s acoustic guitars, counterpointing Wimpelberg’s rough voice, add poignancy to moody mix of Part 1 with its marching chorus and swirling electric axe, while Part 2 appears a pure organ extravaganza. And if you need a proof that songs come from different periods, there are title track and “Nightflight” on show, driving progressive pop tunes of ASIA kind – real hits, delivered by Pattrick Pelzer’s pair of pipes, remindful of John Sloman’s or, in soaring pavane of “Rien Ne Vas Plus”, even David Surkamp’s. Lifting songs! More imagination to rhythm section would do nicely, although no complaints exposed when analog keys run to and fro in different combinations – indulge with “Don’t Look Back” intro and honky tonk boogie solo, which are worth the all too simple song alone.

Even simplier is the most traditional ballad “Helping-Hand Song” bearing a bit of reggae, but now this approach buys and organ on coda could have been left out – the tune’s soulful enough. “Loser”, done in a similar way, feels quite syropy orchestrated and would accord to its title, if not for familiar classical piano line. Overall, It’s a multi-faceted issue, that’s hard to get into immediately – looking at fire can blind, indeed, yet it draws on and on.


Frontiers Records 2001
They say, the second album is a hard thing in case the first was a success. This time they, whoever it may be, are completely wrong, as HUSH came up with an essential AOR stuff. That impression doesn’t swoop on you from the off, “The Restless Ones”, which, remindful of BON JOVI, only gives a hint on what’s in store, a warm-up thing to awake one with Coverdale intonations that, very clear in heady “Don’t Say Goodnight”, peep here and there as if to confirm the elegibility of their rock’n’roll. This gutsy approach feels beautiful, the band deliver the goods right from the heart, instruments not boasting separately but unite in order to surround you in the light of “Till We Become The Sun”. Then, the chorus of “Is It Good Enough?” prompts you to go, “yes”.

Deep positive emotions is what we need now, really, but had HUSH spill ’em even more ballsy, as in “The Real Thing”, that would do. So songs less serious than “Don’t Turn Around”, like “Another Girl”, pull you in and you smile with a nod. And then shiver in awe, when “Forever” comes in on guitar wave not unlike that of FLOYD’s “Crazy Diamond” – a terrific dramatic ballad with no maudlin note. (Check the quote from the SNAKE’s “Lonely Days”.) Drying the tears is easy with acoustic ringing of “Like Love”, which you fall in love with on the spot. Hammond solo and thick textures that is “In My Dreams” gather all the HUSH facets in one shiny delightful artifact. But, hush! – keep it to yourself to cherish.


– Welcome!

Stone Premonitions 1999
“Welcome!” feels an apt title for inviting a listener into the album as far removed from its predecessor as can be. Gone is percussive feast, which justified band’s alternate alias, THE RHYTHM METHODISTS, in came late Sixties psychedelia of calm kind. That means, don’t look for freak-outs here, though father figure of Zappa lurks in the title track’s sparse groove, Tim Jones’ rough voice and Martin Holder’s guitar weaving the blues, that without any pause straightens up for disco beat of “We’re All American Now” – what a cheeky irony! Almost a parody, indeed, and “Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere” Hammond-awashed funky-punky drift, harking back to 1978, sure owes a lot to a certain tune by THE WHO. Follow the bass line, an Ariadna thread through all this eclectic yet engaging forest, and bassist Mark Dunn’s baritone will kindly lead you to “End Of The World (If You Want It)”. You do – ‘cos this dub’s arresting.

As well as McCartney-esque ballad “Missing You”, so poignant in its breathy claustrophobia and uplifting chorus a way out. Then, get out in the streets with “B With U” and do the jive, talk explicit rapping, that was tried on “Welcome!” and returns now – is it late Seventies we’re in, dancing to some 12″? Quite likely so, but do you notice, we’re moving forward, check “Shop Girl” to pin it down to time. Welcome back the mods with their creepy rock’n’roll! Thus, “Freedom” appears rather laid-back, until you see the Hendrix’ eponymous song shadow behind this. There were giants, right, but a capella start of “Song Of The Runts” (or “Simple Solutions”) proudly states, it’s about time for the little ones to take over the world. Hey, don’t miss the train!



Limb Music 2001
Hey ho, let’s go! Blessed are those playing faux metal, because BARREL’s is as metal, as THE RAMONES’ was punk. Catch the “Shut Up Or Lose Me” virus – it’s that glittery-jittery rocky pop we used to call glam. “Only A Passenger”, they say? OK, their tightly-knit unit keep to the right rails with three-minutes bullets fired off on the spot. “Straight Down To Hell” draws a line to this approach and puts serious, charged “Gate Of God” off to margin. The deeper the feeling, then – “For All Like You” all but deserves blues accolade, following “Under A Bad Sign” swampy formula and crawling like snake to boil up hot, Rory Gallagher way – a massive thing, which strips off see-through heavy outfit chosen for the title track obviously to tease and then tremble in “Bomb Attack”. These guys sure know what their instruments are for and how to squeeze every bit of energy out of them, so easy you just turn green of envy if don’t feel a compassion to such optimistic youth anthem as “We Will Carry On” or sharp sensibility of “Gone With The Wind”. Next, there’s “Back To Suicide”, a good addition to “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Ballroom Blitz” line of great shouters. Then, isn’t bass-driven “She’s Coming Over Top” a successor to “Sheena Is A Punk RocKer”? Not melodically, no, yet attitude and a knack of engaging hook… Let’s go! Let it go! “Take Me To The Highway” high-octane rock’n’roll leaves us hitching a ride until the next truckload of hits comes our way.


Live In Europe

Blue Storm Music 2001
One of underestimated greats, along with CHICKEN SHACK and GROUNDHOGS, for blues connoisseurs SPOOKY TOOTH remain the dish to savour, and these unique recordings is a valueable addition to any collection. Of special interest is “Pretty Colours” by DEEP FEELING, an ensemble which appears here because of Luther Grosvenor playing guitar. There’s more to it than that – the ranks included pre-TRAFFIC Jim Capaldi on drums and vocals and flautist Poli Palmer, who later touched fame in ECLECTION and FAMILY. Recorded in 1966 and produced by Giorgio Gomelsky himself, this fantastic song featurs THE SHADOWS-like riff and light psychodelic drift of the late YARDBIRDS kind – and that’s a prologue to the TOOTH, captured here live on “Top Gear” in February and September of 1968, when they were becoming huge.

Quality performance throughout, it’s hard not to notice how close to BLIND FAITH the band came in “Sunshine Help Me” and Dylan’s “Too Much Of Nothing”. Then, while Grosvenor, Mike Harrison and Gary Right worked their best, the most driving feels Greg Ridley’s frontal bass lines, still to be developed further to grace HUMBLE PIE boogie. September’s tracks are much clearer to highlight THE BAND’s “The Weight” and Mike Kellie’s “Feeling Bad” acoustic beauty, the latter with different lyrics yet subject to change before making it to legendary “Spooky Two”. But if you start missing rough sound the group were famous for, seek pleasure in “I Can’t Quit Her” and “Blues Towm” (Jimmy Page a fan?) – an essential listening, as well as bonus tracks “Better By You, Better Than Me” and “Soulful Lady”. And that’s strange – these two, with RENAISSANCE’s John Hawken on keys, are classic TOOTH, unlike alternate versions of “Sunshine” and “How” from 1999’s reunion album “Cross Purposes”. They’re good, but sound too tired – well, TOOTH might be not too sharp, yet it bites, and the bite is oh so sweet!


Soul Doctor

Massacre Records 2001
In fact, there’s an album and a half, and you can easily dismiss last three tracks, great AOR catchers out of place here, to get a real thing and have your soul healed after the wound from Page and Coverdale not releasing the second joint opus. This is a substitute of high order, with, maybe, only one flaw, namely “You’re All That I Want” – sure, a slo-mo tear-jerker, though harmonica-splashed. Until you’re there, indulge in vibes doing the stride on opening “Soul Doctor”, and that’s only water testing before “Shake ‘Em On Down” makes exactly what it says. Pure heavy rock’n’roll that seemed to be abandoned back in the Seventies. There’s even the omnipresent those days organ crawling in for “Goodbye”, building the dramatism high. Live, DOC should be killers, but in studio they push songs to the time limit – what in three minutes would spear, in five loses its sharpness. “Before The Night Is Over”, nonetheless, justifies its duration leaning towards “Rain Song” spaciousness yet without the latter’s fragility, while “Unspoken Words” and “What Do You Want” start where David rode his SNAKE. Strangely, no second hand feel about it, still drone of “Who Will Be There” seems all too many similar things in a row to enjoy – but that’s the blues, anyway. Brilliant blues workout! A cure for crippled soul.


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