Category Archives: Review

Review: Rainbreakers – Rise Up EP

Review: Rainbreakers – Rise Up EP

April 2017

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The Rainbreakers are another young British blues rock band who are taking huge strides in what is a pretty healthy scene here in the UK. Whether the scene is encouraging new bands & artists or whether it’s the other way around doesn’t really matter if the end result is the amount of great music we’re on the receiving end of.

Having already got the band’s previous 4-track release ‘Blood Not Brass‘, which I bought after catching them at the Beaverwood Club, I’m pretty much up to speed so to speak with the band’s music and direction. ‘Rise Up‘ follows in the same vein, highlighting just how accomplished this four piece are. From the opening bars of ‘On My Own‘, the production quality courtesy of Robin Andrews just shines through, with clear, not shrill treble and a fabulous punchy bass.

With the vocal talents of Ben Edwards, the less is more guitar of Charlie Richards, and the rock solid rhythm supplied by messers Peter Adams & Sam Edwards, you are presented with a foot tapping sound that draws you in and demands that you pay attention!

Without a doubt the two tracks that I have played over and over are the laid back ‘Waiting On You‘ with it’s almost soul like qualities, and the last track on the EP, ‘Living Free‘ which sees the band change up a gear and let loose more. On future releases I’d certainly like to see a few more tracks in that vein to compliment the more mellow tunes.

Well the Rainbreakers are without doubt yet another band you need to keep your eyes and of course ears on, look forward to seeing what they have in stock for the future..


Review: Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics – The Man With Stars On His Knees

Review: Aaron Buchanan And The Cult Classics – The Man With Stars On His Knees

May 2016

Reviewer: Dan Mann

After leaving Heaven’s Basement, Aaron Buchanan wasted no time in putting together a stellar group of fellow musicians, namely The Cult Classics. What we have here is the first fruits of the collaboration, namely the band’s debut album ‘The Man With Stars On His Knees‘.

If I was only allowed to use one word to review / describe this release, it would without doubt be ‘energetic’. From the off, you are dragged kicking and screaming into a wall of sound. Not a shoutry / screamy wall, but a high octane fueled powerhouse, the bass reaching down and making your furniture vibrate! It just made me turn it up even more and to hell with the neighbors!

There are a multitude of influences on the album, each blending seamlessly into the next, giving you what is without doubt an absolute monster of a release.

Stand out tracks for me, ‘Dancin’ Down Below‘, ‘A God Is No Friend‘ & ‘Morals‘.

Looking forward to catching the band out on the road this Summer when they’ll be airing this material live. You can see them on the following dates –

June

3rd Camden Rocks Festival.

11th Download Festival.

25th Wildfire Festival.

July

29th Ramblin’ Man Fair.


Review: Dirty White Boyz – Down And Dirty

Review: Dirty White Boyz Down And Dirty

Escape Music (March 2017)

Reviewer: Stephen Brophy

When the component elements of the band consist of the former frontman of Kiss Of The Gypsy, members of Bailey, Demon and Lawless and you add in a lot of enthusiasm and on top of that you have 3 vocalists, well that’s a brilliant starting point. It also ensures that the backing vocals, to Tony Mitchell’s excellent lead vocals, through the album are just top notch.

The debut album is being released on Escape Music and it’s got to be said this is a cracking piece of work, it’s classic hard rock, has all the elements you want and need and then some. Twelve slabs of very different types of Rock, some heavy with a real kick to them, some ballads, and some classic rock songs, it fits perfectly together and knits into a hell of an album. From excellent twin guitar work on ‘Sanctuary‘, to the cracking ‘Waitin For This Feelin‘ where it’s very easy to just start singing along, especially at the chorus, through the out and out rockers like ‘Dynamite‘ and the slightly more bluesy rocker ‘Bring It On‘ there’s a definitely a bit of something for everyone here, and although there’s a lot of variation here there’s definitely a great flow throughout the album.  The band itself with Paul Hume and Jamie Crees nailing the Guitar sound from start to finish whether it’s a balls out rocker or a slower tempo ballad, just great work as always, Nigel Bailey laying down some terrific Bass runs as always such a solid performer in whatever he does and Neil Ogden so solid behind it all on Drums keeping everything driving forward, well they just eek class. Clearly a band that is very well at ease working with each other and enjoys what they are creating.

Highlights are ‘Hangin’ On A Heartache‘ which is just classic hard rock, beautifully put together and it kicks some ass live. ‘Ride With Angels‘ which has that little bit of a country rock feel to it and the excellent ‘Rise‘ which almost has some pop sensibilities about it before Tony kicks it up a gear on the chorus that just soars, still another very well written track, which is the order of the day here, this is a project that will hopefully have legs and start working quickly on a follow up to this album.

Having been privileged to get to see Dirty White Boyz debut live show at the Just Say Yes charity show in Derby at the end of January, don’t miss out on their upcoming live shows in the UK, there’s that little bit of an extra edge to their sound live, some addition guitar from Tony and they were one of the highlights of an excellent night. Down And Dirty is one of those albums that allows multiple plays without becoming tiresome, there’s plenty of meat on the bone. In what has been a very strong first quarter of the year for new album releases this is an excellent debut, it’s brilliant to have Tony Mitchell back fronting a really talented band, don’t let this release slip between the cracks in the avalanche of new albums coming at you, it would be a massive shame if you missed out on this one. Produced and Mixed by the guys themselves they can be very proud of this release.


Review: Bonfire – Byte The Bullet

Review: Bonfire – Byte The Bullet

UDR (March 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

German hard rock band Bonfire are back with believe it or not their sixteenth album. With new vocalist Alexx Stahl, whose taken over from Michael Bormann after his short stint, who himself replaced David Reece who had been vocalist since the departure of the band’s original vocalist Claus Lessmann. A lot of people never seem to get over the fact a band’s vocalist has been replaced, refusing to accept the replacements regardless of talent. I’m not one of those people, preferring to concentrate on the actual music, and it’s got to be said, Alexx fits the band perfectly.

And so to the album itself. ‘Byte The Bullet‘ is without doubt a repeat spinner. Having already sampled the two singles, I was looking forward to seeing if the remainder of the album was of the same ilk. Opening an album with a seven minute track certainly nails things firmly to the mast, ‘Power Train‘ building slowly before launching into a pounding, rip roaring hard rock track.

The remainder of the album follows in good stead, the two singles ‘Praying 4 A Miracle‘, and a great cover of Jethro Tull’s ‘Locomotive Breath‘ certainly good choices as said singles. There is one slightly bizarre track, track ten to be exact, which has bassist Ronnie Parkes being asked to repeatedly say the track name ‘Friedensreich‘ to much amusement and laughter. That’s followed by an instrumental, ‘Instrumetal‘, which is a slight speed-fest by the band, as it’s played with a fairly hasty tempo combining well known segments of songs, ‘Hall Of The Mountain King’ being one.

The ballard ‘ Without You‘ highlight’s Bonfire’s passion for such songs, and shows that Alexx is more than capable of slowing things down as well as belting out songs.

The album rounds off with another version of the classic Bonfire track ‘Sweet Obsession‘ which of course made it’s first appearance on their legendary 1987 album ‘Fireworks‘. While it’s never going to hold the same position as the original, which I’ve played to death, it is certainly a worthy version and not one to be dismissed out of hand.

To sum up, I can see this being one to consider when it comes time to compile my favorite album releases of the year. Highly recommended.

 

 


Review: Vega / Dan Reed Network,100 Club, London

Crammed into a hot and sweaty 100 Club on a Friday night, the evening’s entertainment was kicked off in fine style by British melodic rockers Vega.

photo by Eric Duvet Photography

Having seen them a few times over the years, I kind of knew what to expect. However, I was wrong……….the band kicked things up not one notch, but three or four! Vocalist Nick Workman‘s voice just seems to get better and better and he and the rest of the band were truly on fine form.

The enthusiastic crowd sang along to every track and the band could quite easily have performed for a couple of hours. They certainly deserve to be headlining Festivals in my humble opinion.

And so to the headliners, Dan Reed Network. I was fortunate enough to have seen them the first three times they visited these shores, including the awesome, more than capacity crowd gig at the sorely missed Marquee.

Dan Reed announced that they would be ‘starting slow’. This ‘announcement was said with a twinkle in the eye, the band launching into their performance with boosters firmly on full power.

We were barely into the set when minutes after I was chatting to Nathan James (Inglorious) in the crowd , he took to the stage for a ‘duet’ with Dan Reed & Co of Kiss track ‘Rock And Roll All Nite’. The crowd lapping it up, the vibe already firmly set that it was time to get into the groove and let the music take you along for the ride.

photo by Eric Duvet Photography

It’s wonderful to hear so many favorites live once again, from the superb ‘Get To You‘ through to ‘Cruise Together‘. The on stage banter and camaraderie of the band is something that makes you smile from ear to ear. Dan Reed announcing he’s Trump, and issuing an ‘executive order’ to guitarist extraordinaire Brion James to play some Steely Dan, Brion rising to the challenge with a rendition of ‘Rikki Don’t Lose That Number’ accompanied by Dan proceeding to eat his own t-shirt!

The crowd were actively encouraged to get involved, either singing along to ‘Seven Sisters Road’ or shouting requests.

photo by Eric Duvet Photography

We were treated to keyboardist Rob Daiker taking to the guitar to perform one of his solo songs, ‘All For A Kiss’, which I’ve got to say was fantastic, and just highlights the overflowing talent this band has.

You can tell the professionalism of a band by how they act when gremlins affect the sound or equipment. Strange buzzing caused Dan Reed to initially ‘accuse’ the master of the bass line, Melvin Brannon, of having a faulty amp. All taken in good jest and the vibe didn’t drop 1%, the crowd laughing along.

The highlight for me was ‘Champion‘ from their latest album ‘Fight Another Day‘. It caused the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up and reinforced the fact that the passage of time has done nothing to reduce the impact this band has, either recorded or live!

Overall, this is going to be a hard evening to beat this year, both bands giving us a performance to relish and remember.


Review: 3G – Leo’s The Red Lion

3G was a much anticipated event at what I regard as one of my favorite venues, Leo’s The Red Lion in Northfleet, Kent.

Comprising three bands, the evening promised a night of blues & classic rock. Kicking off proceedings was local blues rock band Big River.

Lead guitarist Damo Fawsett, the person who organized the whole event, laid down some superb riffs, backed up by vocalist Adam Bartholomew, Luke Calvert on drums and Ant Wellman on bass. Certainly a band to keep an eye on (they’ll be opening this year’s Fibrofest)

Next up we had Dean Howard (Cats In Space) take to the stage, his band also having fellow ‘Cat’ Paul Manzi on vocals/guitar. A fantastic set with Paul Manzi once again proving why he’s such a great vocalist. The twin guitar sound from Dean & Paul worked really well.

And the evening’s final guitar….the legend that is Dave ‘Bucket’ Colwell. His band consisting of Ross McEwen on guitar, Clive Edwards on drums, David Boyce on bass, Linda Kelsey-Foster on keyboards, and Grant Foster taking on vocal duties. With this kind of line up you know it’s going to be a corker! And corker it was, taking us through a mixture of classic tracks including of course Bad Company.

Rounding the evening off was an ‘All Star’ jam, with all three guitarists taking to the stage, Adam Bartholomew, Paul Manzi and Grant Foster taking it in turns to supply the vocals.

For those of us who were at a jam packed Leo’s, we were treated to a fantastic night. For those of you who missed it…….don’t miss the next one.


Review: Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo

Review: Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo

in-akustik (March 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Unbelievably it’s 35 years since ‘One Night At Budokan‘ was released, and here we have Michael Schenker return to Japan, this time at The Tokyo International Forum Hall, accompanied by three vocalists who’ve made appearances on a plethora of MSG releases. The vocalists in question are of course Gary Barden, Robin McAuley and Graham Bonnet.

Photo by Emili Muraki©

It will be released on 2CD, 2CD+DVD, Vinyl, DVD, Blu-ray and Digital download. If you limit yourself to just the audio formats, you’ll be missing out on some excellently produced concert footage.

I personally have preferred watching the footage as you get a far better feel of the concert as well as better sound quality. The 2 CD’s have a total of 18 tracks running at just over an hour and a half, fifteen and a half minutes of which is Michael letting lose on an extended ‘Rock Bottom‘!

Photo by Emili Muraki©

This release is without doubt a ‘must buy’ for Michael Schenker fans, as it covers his long and illustrious musical career. If he never released another thing, Michael Schenker Fest “Live” Tokyo, would be a fitting tribute to the Flying V legend.

 


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