Review: Ben Poole – Anytime You Need Me

Manhaton Records (Sept 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Ben Poole returns with his third album release ‘Anytime You Need Me‘, an album that helps build his standing in the blues rock community as his career continues to grow.

I think there’s one thing this album epitomizes, it’s the continuing trend to release albums that don’t conform to the over regimented definition of what blues music should be.

What you end up getting are releases that are like a breath of fresh air, pulling in influences from other genres and with it new audiences.

With ‘Anytime You Need Me‘, Ben has introduced elements of funk, 70’s rock and even a little soul. The album is a little more adventurous then previous releases.

Take It No More‘ would be nearer the traditional blues rock track which has elements of King King, which is hardly a surprise with aforementioned band’s Wayne Proctor at the production helm.

While ‘Found Out The Hard Way‘ wouldn’t be out of place on a Mitch Laddie album.

But I found ‘You Could Say‘ a bit too poppy for my palette with Ben’s vocals taking on a high pitch Jonny Lange vibe.

It has to be said the two covers on the album are interesting choices, Don Henley’s ‘Dirty Laundry‘, a track I’ve always loved and Jude Cole’s ‘Start The Car‘. However they work really well and releasing ‘Dirty Laundry‘ as a single will certainly help raise interest from other quarters.

While not every track is to my liking, I think live it will be an entirely different matter and with a heavier live sound they will fill out nicely.

Anytime You Need Me‘ is an album, which along with other current British musicians releases, helps cement the UK as one of the top blues & blues rock territories in the World.

 

Review: REƎCE – Resilient Heart

Mighty Music (November 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

There are some albums which are highly anticipated, and for me ‘Resilient Heart‘ is one of them.

Take the vocal talents of singer David Reece, who I first came across as front man for American hard rock band Bangalore Choir and vocalist on Accept‘s ‘Eat The Heat‘ album, add a guitarist whose playing I highly regard, namely Martin J Anderson, who I first heard playing in his blues rock band Blindstone. Finish off with guitarist Marco Angioni, bandmate of Martin’s in Danish heavy metal band Meridian, bassist Malte Frederik Burkert from David’s other band Sainted Sinners and drummer Sigurd J. Jensen also from Blindstone.

The result….a mature hard rock album!

From the opening bars of the first track, ‘Any Time At All‘, you know your in for a bit of a musical treat. This is a band tighter than an elastic band wound three times round a  pencil. David Reece’s vocals sound as good as they did 25 years ago and yes I’ll bring up the old chestnut I always do, if I don’t like the vocals then I won’t like the album!

With eleven tracks on the album, none of which in my opinion a ‘filler’, choosing a favorite is bloody difficult. However, for me there is one track that stands out both in vocal performance and musicianship, and that’s ‘Forest Through The Trees‘. This is without doubt a monster track!

For those of you familiar with David’s work and indeed the catalogue of the other musicians involved, then ‘Resilient Heart‘ is probably already on your ‘to order’ list. If your not and it’s not……then don’t hesitate and pre-order it now, you won’t be disappointed.

Review: Wonderworld – III

Key Music (June 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Four years after their debut album, Wonderworld are back with their third release not surprisingly called ‘III‘.

For those of you already familiar with the band then there won’t really be any surprises or changes from the previous two releases. That certainly isn’t a negative thing, just means we have ten more tracks of top notch melodic hard rock to enjoy!

For those not familiar, Wonderworld consists of Italian singer/bassist Roberto Tiranti and from Norway guitarist Ken (JR) Ingwersen and drummer Tom Fossheim. All three have an extensive musical background which has helped bring a lot of different influences into the band’s sound.

It can always be difficult to pick stand out tracks when your really enjoying an album, however the track that really hit the spot for me is ‘The Last Frontier‘ which at nearly seven minutes long showcases the band’s musicianship and the quality of the production on the whole album.

So for the third time, I can highly recommend ‘III‘ as well as the previous two albums.

 

Review: Michael Romeo- War Of The Worlds / Pt. 1

Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group (July 27th 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I’m sure most of your are familiar with the name Michael Romeo, founding member of progressive metal band Symphony X. Well in this release Michael delves into the depths of symphonic metal.

I’ll say from the start, if your not a fan of widdly widdly guitar then this release is probably not for you. Having said that, those guitar connoisseurs among you will absolutely love it!

Kicking off with an intro that wouldn’t be out of place in a Star Wars film, Mr Romeo soon makes it obvious where his roots lie.

I’ll be honest and say I have to be in the mood for symphonic metal, but catch me at the right time and there is an increase in volume shall we say. Those increases were quite frequent during the various playbacks of ‘War Of The Worlds / Pt. 1‘, the production leading to a decent sound full of depth and atmosphere.

Listening to the robot effects at the beginning of ‘F*cking Robots‘ is an experience on headphones, even more so up-scaled through a home cinema system, making it one of my favorites out of the ten tracks on offer. The current single ‘Djinn‘ is shall we say a little daring as a single coming in as it does at a nearly seven and a half minutes long. But it so highlights the vocal talents of Rick Castellano. Boy can he hit notes most of us could only almost manage in tight trousers.

With a run time of some 50 minutes, this album certainly doesn’t short change you, leading you as it does through the mind of H.G. Wells. There are influences aplenty with more than a nod to my favorite classical composer Holst. It’s almost the Planets Suite meets Conception meets Savatage.

To sum up, this is an album I discovered I enjoyed far more than I expected. It is without doubt a labour of love by Romeo and here’s looking forward to Pt 2.

 

Review: DeWolff – Thrust

Mascot Records (May 4th)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I said to DeWolff vocalist Pablo van de Poel when I interviewed him last month regarding the band’s new album ‘Thrust‘, for some inconceivable reason I’d not come across them before!

Well, after the first play of ‘Thrust’, I promptly went and bought the band’s back catalogue. I guess that is a fairly strong indicator that I kind of liked what I’d heard. I am loving the mainly European bands who are ‘re-visiting’ that Seventies vibe, but also putting their own take on it.

DeWolff are most certainly a band who inject their own DNA into the music. Layers of Hammond organ, a tight bass line and vocals which have a slight psychedelic twist to them. This all adds up to an absolute foot-stomper of an album.

In keeping to the whole Seventies thing, the band recorded the album in analogue at their own purpose built studio. While I’m listening to the advance on streamed audio, you can still detect that all encompassing warmth that comes with that process which of course enhances the music even further.

DeWolff are a band who know what they want out of an album, and deliver that in a straight no nonsense fashion, displaying a maturity to both the song writing and musicianship that bands twice their age don’t always manage.

I’m not going to break the album down track by track, I want you to go out and explore it yourselves, trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed and your volume knob will without a doubt be cranked up a few levels.

Highly recommended.

 

Review: Snake Oil and Harmony

Borderline London March 3rd 2018

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The Snake Oil and Harmony Tour is now on it’s third outing, with messers Danny Vaughn (Tyketto) and Dan Reed (Dan Reed Network) presenting an intimate, stripped back experience stretched over two hours.

After experiencing Snake Oil and Harmony for the first time, my immediate reaction was why only two hours!

I was so drawn into not only the music itself, played on acoustic guitars, which covered songs from across DV & DR’s wide and varied careers, but also the stories, some of them quite personal, and the general banter between the two performers and the audience.

It was pretty obvious the audience were made up of Tyketto and Dan Reed Network etc fans, who sang along with much gusto to the delight of DV & DR. All of which just added to the overall experience.

One things for certain, I’ll be buying tickets again at the earliest opportunity.

 

Review: Palace Of The King – Get Right With Your Maker

Golden Robot Records (March 23rd 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

There are certain bands that just hit you right between the ears & Palace Of The King certainly did that when I first heard their debut album ‘White Bird/Burn The Sky‘.

After following up with an equally great release ‘Valles Marineris‘, I guess I was wondering whether it would be third time lucky!

Well, I can breath easy as ‘Get Right With Your Maker‘ follows along the same lines as it’s predecessors.

The album kicks off with the first single ‘ I Am The Storm‘ a track that weaves and surrounds you in an all encompassing sound so familiar from the previous albums. Singer Tim Henwood’s unique sounding vocals still have that hint of Brian Johnson roughness mingled with Enuff Z’Nuff’s Donnie Vie which really helps give the songs a bit of an edge.

This is a band who’ve not let the ‘remoteness’ of Australia hold them back, with a relentless touring schedule, which in turn has helped bolster this album with that accumulated experience that has in turn lead to a tightness to the sound that you couldn’t pry apart with a crowbar!

The blend of 70’s guitar, harmonies and pounding beat certainly get your foot tapping and your head nodding along, you cannot help but reach for that volume knob and giving it a hefty increase in decibels.

It’s difficult to give an impartial review to something that ticks all your boxes and then some so I haven’t tried. All I can say is buy this release as soon as you can and strap those speakers down as they’re going to take a pounding!

Review: Voodoo Circle – Raised On Rock

AFM Records (Feb 2018)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Voodoo Circle are back with a brand new album ‘Raised On Rock‘ but with one significant difference. That difference is a change in vocalist. Welcome Herbie Langhans (Avantasia) to the role.

Now this has certainly caused some muttering within certain circles (dunno if they’re voodoo ones) regarding the departure of David Readman, most of those mutterings being negative ones. However, I for one am someone who prefers to wait and actually listen to the end product before releasing a plague of locusts!

So from the outset the album follows in the vein of previous releases, first track ‘Running Away From Love‘ starts in pure Whitesnake mode and then Herbie launches head first, and launch he certainly does. His voice lends a much more out and out hard rock slant to the track, less of the slightly bluesy rock traits of previous albums.

As the album progresses we’re taken from the Whitesnake influence to late 80’s Uriah Heep to the Scorpions, all of which is absolutely fine by me. There is a slight veering off that direction on ‘Dreamchaser‘, the clue is in the track title, at just over six and a half minutes this is a great piece of Rainbow influenced music.

No the band aren’t trying to invent the wheel, to me they’re treading the path taken by The Dead Daisies in that they are unashamedly playing late 80’s/early 90’s hard rock and good on them for doing it. Yes it’s nice to hear bands trying new directions or laying down their own stamp but it’s also great just to be taken back to those heady days and reminisce as it were.

With eleven tracks (thirteen on the digipak) it’s an album that I’ve already played numerous times and rather a high volume!

Highly recommended.

Review: Blindstone – Blues-O-Delic Celebration – A Tribute To The Blues

Grooveyard Records (November 2017)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

The Blindstone boys are back with a brand new album, this time a collection of covers amounting to a tribute to the blues. I know they were a tad nervous about whether they’ve done the thirteen tracks justice, having had chance to listen to the whole album quite a few times here’s my humble opinion of if they hit target or not.

Kicking off the album is a cover of BB King’s ‘Rock Me Baby‘. Now a cover can be two things. A carbon copy of the original or a band’s interpretation. Personally I prefer the latter as it’s interesting to listen to a song from a different angle so to speak. The original is a laid back track, while this is more forward, leaning more to blues rock which actually gives this track some balls!

Second up is ‘Blood Stream‘, originally released by Rocky Hill, brother of ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill. Straight away this grabs you with wailing guitar, and energetic rhythm section, this is Blindstone putting their stamp on it. Being very familiar with the original I’m not disappointed with this rendition.

Next is Freddy King’s ‘Pack It Up‘ covered by Bonamassa on Blues Deluxe which is more of a direct copy but as I said earlier, I prefer things getting a little twist or two. This is once again adding that that distinctive Blindstone blues rock stamp, which makes it more of a foot tapper in my book.

Me And My Woman‘ is next on the bill from the criminally underrated Shuggie Otis. The Blindstone version thankfully manages to retain elements of that 70’s New York funk groove with the underlying blues elements.

Old School‘ is a track unknown to myself and was originally recorded by the wonderfully named Guitar Shorty. An appropriately named track for sure as it is quite simply old school blues.

The next track ‘Something’s Got A Hold On Me’ is based on the Gales Brothers song which i believe is written by Eugene Gales. A slow blues number, low down and dirty with a wonderful guitar tone. Great stuff indeed.

You can’t really have an album in tribute to the blues without certain artists being covered. And so we have Howlin Wolf’s ‘Built For Comfort‘, a song which I’ve always loved for it’s lyrics. Blindstone have transformed it into what sounds like early ZZ Top, so another box ticked for me.

I’m really enjoying the selection of artists being covered on this album, people not normally covered. The next track is Leslie West’s ‘By The River‘, another southern soaked blues rock extravaganza which sounds more full bodied than the original, not to knock the original mind in any way.

Having mentioned that ‘Little Old Band From Texas’ ZZ Top earlier we now arrive at a cover of the band’s ‘Bar-B-Q‘, originally to be found on Rio Grande Mud. Martin has nailed the sound of Billy Gibbons’ guitar. Just over three minutes of musical bliss.

The next cover version is of Slim Harpo’s ‘Finger On The Trigger‘. I can see why this appears as the original is quite a funky blues number and I know Martin is rather partial to a bit of funky guitar.

We re-visit the legendary BB King with ‘The Blues Come Over Me‘, the guitar riff just gets your foot tapping and your hand starts to wander into air guitar mode!

Slowing things right down is our next number ‘Stone Crazy‘. Again from a blues legend, Mr Buddy Guy. Blindstone have for want of a better phrase, thickened out the sound, giving it almost some angst, but not taking away the essence of the song.

I’m not in the slightest bit surprised which artist is being covered on the last track on the album. Blindstone wouldn’t be Blindstone without some Jimi Hendrix in the mix somewhere!

The Hendrix track chosen to close is ‘Hey Joe‘. Well I’ve never heard the band do a poor job when it comes to playing anything by Hendrix and this is no exception. What’s really great is Martin’s son Magnus Andersen and Jens Andersen, his dad, are both guesting on guitar.

To sum up, if your already a Blindstone fan then you’ll most certainly enjoy the album. If you want to hear a covers album that isn’t covers by number then this is the album for you.