Review: Bad Touch – Kiss The Sky

Marshall Records (June 19th 2020)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Brit rockers Bad Touch are back, their fourth album ‘Kiss The Sky’ will be released on June 19th via Marshall Records.

Okay let me start by saying I was curious what the band would pull out of the bag in order to better the 2018 release ‘Shake A Leg‘. Well I don’t know what the band have been drinking/smoking/eating, but whatever it is, hell’s teeth it’s worked!

Kiss The Sky’ is an absolute stormer of an album, a foot tapping, head bobbing soundscape of epic proportions which I’ve been playing time and time again.

From ‘Let Go‘ a quintessential Bad Touch song to ‘Something About Your Kiss‘ which has to be one of my favorite Bad Touch tracks from any of the band’s releases, ‘Kiss The Sky’ just keeps on ticking boxes.

Yes this review is a tad on the gushy side, but the album is that good.

Buy it, buy it now!

Pre-order the album from www.badtouchkissthesky.com

Review: Vandenberg – 2020

Mascot Records (May 29th 2020)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

I, like many rock fans, was excited by the news Vandenberg would be releasing a new album in 2020. Speculation online was to whether it would sound just like classic Vandenberg, or whether there’d be some modern take on it all.

What you get with ‘2020‘ are ten tracks of pure, unadulterated hard rock! What you’ll hear people say a lot is it sounds like Whitesnake meets Rainbow. Well that’s hardly a suprise when the band has Adrian Vandenberg on guitar and Ronnie Romero on vocals!

Messers Vandenberg & Co have not tried to re-write any genre or style, and it’s not a case of ‘playing it safe’, it’s exactly as it should be and it should be welcomed as such.

I have played ‘2020‘ over and over again since the album landed in my inbox. At no point has it been an album of two halves, or only liking two or three of the tracks. I am thoroughly enjoying the whole album.

If there was some sort of blueprint for an album that ticked all my likes then ‘2020‘ would be pretty damn close.

Standout tracks………..bloody hell, sometimes that’s not such an easy thing to say. I find different songs grab me at different listens. If I’m forced to choose then ‘Hell Or High Water‘ with it’s Dio / Rainbow like qualities, ‘Let It Rain‘ for it’s delightful Whitesnakeness, ‘Light Up The Sky’ simply because it’s such a damn good track and I know certain ‘purists’ will moan but the new rendition of ‘Burning Heart‘ is a worthy re-recording of that timeless classic.

So there you have it If you like hard rock, Vandenberg, Rainbow, Whitesnake etc then this is a must buy. But most of you knew that already!

Review: Black Lightning – Blue Highways

Independent

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Well I’ve finally got off my arse and put diget to keyboard to review Black Lightning‘s new album ‘Blue Highways‘.

Frontman Mark Jackson and I go way back, back to those heady days of the Marquee when his other band Medicine Hat were starting to make some pretty big waves! So I thought I knew what I was going to hear on ‘Blue Highways‘, but no how wrong was I?

Mark’s vocal style is somewhat different on this release, but boy do I like it! This is an album of  wonderful dirty blues rock, which sounds absolutely superb, due to the fine knob twiddling and production skills of Steve Loveday.

It’s important I tell you that the album is dedicated to founder member Rich East, who sadly passed away in 2018.

The measure of an album I like is simply how many times I play it, and ‘Blue Highways‘ has certainly had a few spins.

With the likes of ‘God In Heaven‘ with it’s country vibe, ‘Statesboro Blues‘ which delivers a foot tapping hook, and my absolute favorite track ‘Escape To Mexico‘ which has me raising the volume again and again, this is a solid, mature release and one that deserves to be taken seriously.

So if blues rock is your thing, then this needs to be in your collection!

Review: Shakra – Mad World

AFM Records (March 6th 2020)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Shakra return with their 15th album ‘Mad World‘, which is available now via AFM Records.

For those of you already familiar with the band, ‘Mad World‘ won’t deliver any surprises, carrying on where ‘Snakes & Ladders‘ left off. Is this a bad thing? Hell no, as a long time fan of the band it means more of that heavier end of hard rock which gets you reaching to nudge the volume knob up a few more notches.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band, I guess a quick analogy would be imagine a heavier version of German rockers Bonfire.

The album itself consists of twelve tracks, no being short changed here, and with no ballad you just get twelve tracks of pounding, foot stomping rock that’ll either piss off your neighbours or entertain them, depending on their musical preferences!

I’m not going to delve into each track using a magnifying glass, I’m just going to tell you to go out and buy it, you won’t be disappointed………trust me!

Review: Jesse Damon – Damon’s Rage

AOR Heaven (28 February 2020)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Jesse Damon returns with solo album number six ‘Damon’s Rage‘. I’ll admit I’ve been a bit of a fan since first discovering Silent Rage (Jesse was vocalist & lead guitar) back in the late 80’s. Since those heady days I’ve followed his career with interest, enjoying the Silent Rage albums as well as Jesse’s previous five solo releases.

I guess I knew what to expect when it came to ‘Damon’s Rage‘ and fellow fans certainly won’t be disappointed as there is that distinct Jesse sound.

Together with long time musical partner Paul Sabu, Jesse has once again delivered a hard rock album that delves into AOR and melodic rock, all with a modern approach.

As to be expected the songwriting is above parr, with each song flowing seamlessly as the album progresses.

No chance of being short changed neither with the album containing twelve songs, all of which are over four minutes each.

Favorite tracks, ‘Damon’s Rage‘, ‘Flyin Dutchman‘ & ‘Lonely Night

Well worth adding to the collection and not just to complete your Jesse Damon catalogue!

Review: Collateral – Collateral

Roulette Media Records (Feb 21st 2020)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Kent based rockers Collateral will release their debut album on February 21st, coming after 2018’s ‘4 Shots!‘ EP. The new album contains one track from said EP, the single ‘Midnight Queen‘.

Before we delve into the album’s contents, a bit of back history so to speak. Originally formed as the Angelo Tristan Band, named after vocalist Angelo Tristan, they toured the US, and played numerous live dates, including Fibrofest in 2017 and had various line up changes. Move forward to 2018 and the band became Collateral with Angelo and bassist Jack Bently-Smith being joined by drummer Ben Atkinson and guitarist Todd Winger. Since 2018 the band has grown from strength to strength, playing the likes of Ramblin’ Man and the Bon Jovi Cruise, as well as numerous other gigs and building on an already solid reputation.

And so to the album itself which kicks off with the single ‘Mr Big Shot‘, which on the album sounds much richer, with a fuller sound, which in my opinion is a much needed boost and really gives the track a kick.

Promiseland‘ starts with a catchy riff and a pounding bass and drum backing before the main body of the song fills out, foot stomping with great harmonies.

Merry Go Round‘ will raise the Bon Jovi comparisons that are repeatedly mentioned in reviews etc. It’s something which could be a win or a curse, thankfully the former, as yes it is Jovi like, but also with echoes of Royal Court Of China, all delivered with Collateral‘s own stamp on it.

In It For Love‘ sounds like a classic 80’s song title and the song certainly has leanings in that direction, with some nice keyboard in fills.

Next is another of the album’s singles, ‘Lullaby‘. Okay I’m going to be honest and say this particular song just hasn’t grabbed me as much as the band’s other material, however it’s a song that always goes down well with a live crowd so what do I know!

As mentioned at the start ‘Midnight Queen‘ has been brought over from the ‘4 Shots! EP‘, and rightly so as it’s the track that really helped garner the band’s reputation via airplay. Light and fluffy with a real AOR’ish vibe, it is perfect radio fodder and you cannot help but find your foot tapping and head nodding along.

And so we reach ballad time with ‘Get Back To You‘. And what a great job the boys have made, certainly one of my favourites on the album, it sounds like it’s taken from their third or fourth album let alone the debut!

Tempo stepped back up for ‘Won’t Stop Me Dreaming‘, very commercial and would of been a better choice for single than ‘Lullaby‘ methinks, some lovely guitar work by Todd (a future axe hero), great harmonies, and no overblown drums and bass. Great stuff.

Alas we reach the final track, ‘About This Boy‘ a song that Angelo says is autobiographical. Again a song that has a real maturity, which highlights the journey Angelo and Co have travelled from before Collateral to now. Plenty of country influences, it is really a cross over track that will appeal to a multitude of music fans.

So there we have it. In conclusion I feel the album more than reflects the band’s influences and ambitions.  The future certainly is bright for the boys and I for one am more than a little pleased.

A must buy and don’t miss a chance to see them live!

Yes folks it’s that time of year again! Where did this year go I hear you ask?

First off the blocks so to speak with their Top Ten Albums Of 2019 is Dan Mann.

So here in no particular order are his choices.

Jack J Hutchinson – Who Feeds The Wolf?

Blindstone – Deliverance At The Crossroads

Chantel McGregor – Bury’d Alive

Michael Bormann’s Jaded Hard – Feels Like Yesterday

Gathering Of Kings – First Mission

Meridian – Margin Of Error

Tygers Of Pan Tang – Ritual

Stargazer – The Sky Is The Limit

Kris Barras Band – Light It Up

Gin Annie – 100% Proof

Must also mention the following EP’s:

Trident Waters – Hollywood To Vegas

Wicked Stone – Devil In Me

Kickin Valentina – Chaos in Copenhagen

Devilfire – Out Of The Dark

Review: Blindstone – Deliverance At The Crossroads

Grooveyard Records (Dec 10th 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Well I’ve never hidden my appreciation of the music of Danish blues rockers Blindstone, far from it, a band seldom off my music rotation since I first encountered them quite by chance on Grooveyard Record‘s website.

Since that time the band have released in total nine albums if you include their newest ‘Deliverance At The Crossroads‘. Guitarist / lead singer Martin J. Anderson is one of the most underated guitarists in Europe who is capable of playing not only blues rock but has branched out into hard rock & heavy metal with other bands & projects.

With the bass guitar of Jasper Bunk and tub thumper Sigurd Jøhnk-Jensen making up the other two thirds of the band, this trio have amply captured in my mind the very essence of blues rock, namely, heavy, dirty groove riffs that demand you crank that damn volume knob right up and wallow in the soundscape now pounding from your speakers or cans!

From the opening notes of ‘World Of Trouble‘ your pinned against the wall, realising your in for an absolute audio treat. When comparing ‘Deliverance At The Crossroads‘ with the band’s previous albums there is a definite leaning towards that rockier, dirty end of the blues rock spectrum, an area I like to dwell in, an area that you’ll also find the likes of that man from Hell, Michael Katon, an area quite happy to stick two fingers up to ‘traditional blues’ and just crank and play.

While there isn’t a poor track on the album, there are always going to be tracks that either stand out or just make that connection.

One is the title track ‘Deliverance At The Crossroads‘. It’s just over 4 1/2 minutes of instrumental glory, a track  that just envelopes you in that afor mentioned soundscape. The guitar playing stands up against any of Martin’s peers.

Two track not out of place on a hard rock album. ‘What I Want‘ and ‘Olympus‘ pound and scream, with a heavy guitar sound and frantic bass and drums it’s almost headbanging material.

And ‘Dove‘ with it’s mixture of acoustic and electric guitar beautifully woven, creating a wonderful foot tapping end to what is a superb release.

This for me is potentially a cross over album, appealing to blues rock and rock fans alike. With the band making a welcome return to Ramblin’ Man festival next year here’s hoping they get the recognition they so justly deserve.

 

Review: Dream Company – The Wildest Season

Tanzan Music (15th October 2019)

Reviewer: Dan Mann

Well I’d admit from the off that I’d not heard of Dream Company before the album promo email dropped into my inbox. Reading the accompanying blurb, they started off back in 2006 as a Bon Jovi tribute band. After several line up changes in 2012 Mario Percudani ((Hungryheart, Mitch Malloy, Lionville, Hardline) became involved in a producer capacity.

Moving forward to 2019 and the band have released ‘The Wildest  Season‘ via Tanzan Music.

This album is very much nailed down in melodic rock territory, with some catchy tunes, especially the single ‘Revolution‘. I think the most obvious description of this album as a whole is it’s very similar to British band Vega, which is certainly not a bad thing.

With Giulio Garghentini (Vocals), Enrico Modini (Guitars), Stefano Scola (Bass),
Davide Colombi (Drums) as the current line up I think they have an oppotunity to make some inroads into the current rock scene.

Worth checking out!