Internationally acclaimed fantasy artist and drummer Rodney Matthews and award-winning composer and Yes keyboardist Oliver Wakeman have joined forces once again to deliver yet another stunning art and music package, this time in the form of a Christmas Single – expect to feel a sense of nostalgia, before being brought back to the present by an outburst of prog that is sure to rock your Christmas!

Painted to the lyrics of the much-loved carol ‘In the Bleak Midwinter‘, Matthews’ vision is of a windswept snowscape, braved only by a couple of hardy Highland cows, while the residents of the medieval village are indoors making merry. The image inspired a new arrangement of the Gustav Holst classic, with a whole new section written and arranged into it by Wakeman.  The track is both gutsy and elegant in equal measures.  Alongside Matthews on drums and Wakeman on piano and keyboards is Rockposer Dot Com! reviewer David Mark Pearce on guitars, Steve Amadeo on bass and Pete Coleman on recorder. Vocals are provided by Miv Cameron and Charlotte Dickerson.

In the Bleak Midwinter is available on CD format, with both a Carol Edit and Radio Edit included, at www.rodneymatthewsstudios.com.

Review: Stargazer – The Sky Is The Limit

Mighty Music (October 11th 2019)

Reviewer: David Mark Pearce

After releasing ‘The Sky Is The Limit‘ and ‘I’m The One‘ from their forthcoming album, this hugely talented band from Norway are setting out their stall as a major force to be reckoned with.

Their self-titled debut was good, but this album sees the four piece really step it up – not just one notch, but several. Ok, so what do they sound like? In the mixing pot I hear TNT, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Dokken and the guitarist has definitely listened to Blackmore, Le Tekro and George Lynch with, at times, a hint of Malmsteen.

A cave full of reverb is on this album, which suits me just fine. It reminds me of when I mixed my album and a friend said “Wow … I didn’t know you could get that much reverb into a track!”. Well, in comparison, I pale into insignificance! ‘The Sky Is The Limit‘ is packed full of great riffs, great vocals and all round musicianship, which makes an album of great songs you’ll be listening to on repeat for a long time. I should know, as I haven’t stopped listening to it for weeks – fantastic album!

 

Our next ‘willing’ volunteer to share their Top Ten Albums Of 2018 is reviewer David Mark Pearce. So here, in no particular order, are his choices.

The Dead Daisies – Burn It Down

Red Dragon Cartel – Patina

WET – Earthrage

Sunstorm – The Road To Hell

Joe Satriani – What Happens Next

Ammunition – Ammunition

Perfect Plan – All Rise

Gioeli/Castronovo – Set The World On Fire

Ted Poley – Modern Art

Peacemaker – Concrete & Terror

Review: The Dead Daisies – Burn It Down

Spitfire Music (April 2018)

Reviewer: David Mark Pearce

Okay, let’s bake a cake – a “Rock” cake, of course! Let’s see …… as it’s a “Rock” Cake we’ll need some very specific ingredients: a dash of Kiss; a couple of teaspoons of Grand Funk Railroad; some Black Sabbath; a pinch of Thin Lizzy, AC/DC, Whitesnake and Motley Crüe, then blend with some Jack Daniels. When the mix is ready, place in the rock ‘n’ roll oven for the last fifty odd years and ta daaaaa – you have yourself the new Dead Daisies album.

It’s now ready to serve so here goes but, wait, it’s so hot when it comes out of the oven that your house goes up in flames. Yes, the tenuous link has arrived, the band did indeed ‘Burn It Down‘ lol. We got there in the end! In a roundabout way, what I’m saying is that this is a band which truly wears every single one of its’ influences on its’ sleeve and when it comes to solo sections in a live setting, they play them in place of just the normal solos one might expect to hear.

I think, though, there are less sing a long choruses and hooks on this album (if compared to their previous one,) but that trade off has been balanced by the heavier direction they’ve taken on this album. Does it deter in any way, I hear you ask? No, not in my opinion. This band is superb and is just a straight ahead, good old fashioned, rock band.

Someone said to me they were just a rich man’s plaything. Well, he may well be indulging himself and employing some of the best musicians around. If I had the money, I would – but, so what. These guys are still putting their respective names to something and you’re only as good as the last thing you do, so I would dismiss that statement as rubbish and ignorant, to a large degree!

Anyway, if I were you, I’d buy your very own slice of The Dead Daisies version of a rock cake and enjoy the new album, as there is plenty on offer to digest!

Review: Joe Satriani – What Happens Next

Sony Music Cmg (January 2018)

Reviewer: David Mark Pearce

Believe it or not, although being a guitarist myself, this is my first review of a guitar instrumental album.

I think it’s good to go in at the very top and start with what he does best. Yes, there’s faster, maybe more technically intricate out there – but none anywhere near as commercially successful as Satch! Why? Well, the guy has technique in spades, but where as others rely almost solely on that alone, Joe brings musicality, skill and melody to his songs. Everyone, from your dyed in the wool shredder to (let’s face it!) your Dad, will be singing along and tapping their feet, or fingers, too. That’s what, in my opinion, makes Satch the best!

To be the best, or the captain of your own ship as it were, it helps if you have first and second mates along for the journey. In this instance, Glenn Hughes and Chad Smith. Satch has been quoted as saying something along the lines of “What would happen if I put this guy with this guy?”. Well, he did it here and it’s a perfect combination! Hughes is more known for being the so called voice of rock, although I’ve never seen him as that – he’s more funk, to me, than out and out rock – but everyone seems to forget just how good a bassist he is. I mean, c’mon, he was in Trapeze and Deep Purple and you’re not in those bands on looks alone! Combine him with Smith and that’s the solid rhythm section taken care of, but it’s one that’s really interesting to listen to as well. Hughes really delivers on what, I believe, is his first instrumental outing!

All in all, what we have here is, I think, Satriani’s strongest album in many a year. I’m intrigued to find out “what happens next” well, after this one, wait – that is this one ….. oh, you know what I mean!

Review: Jorn – Life on Death Road

Frontiers Music Srl (June 2017)

Reviewer – David Mark Pearce

Here, at long last – the new album by Whitesnake! No, wait, I meant Dio. Sorry – Black Sabbath!

Life on Death Road‘ is Jorn’s first, all original, album since the mighty ‘Swing of Death‘ (with Trond Holter), but, when you listen to this stunning new album, you could be fooled at times into thinking it was by any one of those bands! Some may think I’m being a tad detrimental to the fine work on display here, but nothing could be further from the truth!

If ever there was an artist who’s not ashamed to wear his influences on his sleeve and pretty much sing from the same hymn sheet, it’s Jorn! I refer back to the three bands I mentioned at the beginning of this review. Whitesnake, Dio and Black Sabbath (Dio fronted, of course) are surely up there as having, over the last fifty years, shaped Rock & Metal into what we know today – which I’m paraphrasing from something Jorn has said.

So, don’t be surprised that this album is very much in the vein of those bands in particular. Even the guitarist went to great lengths to try his best to be, uh, “influenced” by Mr John Sykes. Not that that’s a bad thing, as I see no sign of his new album on the horizon any time soon.

My only criticism of this album and the whole influence thing, is the song ‘Devil You Can Drive‘, which is pretty much Whitesnake’s ‘Slip of the Tongue’, just with different lyrics. Aside from that, I love this album.

It’s not a follow up, or continuation, of ‘Swing of Death‘ (which I was hoping for as it’s one of my favourite albums), but a great album none the less that stands up on its own.

I hear another album is in the works and trust me when I say I already have suitable finances put aside for when it comes out

KXM - Scatterbrain

Review: KXM – Scatterbrain

Rat Pak Records (March 2017)

Reviewer: David Mark Pearce

KXM – ‘Scatterbrain‘ The second album, the often called “difficult” second album ….. well, it might be for some bands out there – but not for messrs Lynch, Pinnock and Luzier!

Will you hear the same tribal intensity as the first album? – YUP.

Will you hear the same amount of Lynch riffage? – YUP.

And will you hear a band that’s taken what it had on the first outing, put it back in the blender and added some other secret ingredients? – then, simply, yes and more!

I would say the lads have spread their experimental wings even further, but their sound is still very much at the heart of this album. It’s a band which isn’t constrained by some big shot producer saying they should do this or that. As they openly admit, they just get together and, over a short amount of time, days in fact, jam it out until they’ve got their songs together and then record and refine – y’know the way bands used to do it!

Hell, there’s even a kinda soft reggae influence on one of the songs, so that shows how experimental this band is, but don’t let that put you off as the song in question features a searing solo from Lynch. Like I said, there are a few other ingredients in that old Rock ‘n’ Roll blender for y’all! It’s a pleasure to listen to this album, let alone review it. Three musicians who have been at the top of their game for years and still are. Long may it continue!

How about a tour lads?

Shotgun  -  'Live Down Decadencia Drive'

Review: Shotgun  –  ‘Live Down Decadencia Drive’

Livewire/Cargo

Reviewer: David Mark Pearce

Originally named Kingpin, the band relocated from their native Sweden to Hollywood, changed their name to Shotgun Messiah and re-recorded their debut self-titled album in 1989.

Frontman, Zinny Zan, left less than a year later.  Now, I could go on about the rest of the band’s career but there would be little point as this album is a live representation of their highly impressive debut.

Fast forwarding to 2012, Zinny reunited with drummer Stixx to reform the band.  However, as original bassist Tim Skold and guitarist Harry H Cody are not part of the reunion, they simply called themselves Shotgun to represent the 50% of the band.  To fill the shoes of those not present, in came Chris Laney on bass and backing vocals and the magnificent Rob Marcello on guitar.

So, here we have the superb ‘Live Down Decadencia Drive‘ some twenty-five years later and we are able to hear the debut album done some serious justice.  This was the reunion tour and a last opportunity for die-hard fans to hear the band play live and to eventually own their copy on CD.

So how good is it?

Bloody excellent, is how good.  I guess when most bands play an album live, they do it in track by track order, but Shotgun have decided to mix it all up.  Why, I don’t know, but who cares.  We start off with ‘Squeezin Teazin‘, a great song leading nicely into “I’m Your Love”, which is faster paced – but, that’s cool, as it lifts you nicely.  In fact, the pace of the album is great.  Once you’re up from song one, you stay up for the entire album.

Other songs on offer are ‘Dirt Talk‘, ‘Nervous‘ and ‘Shout It Out‘ to name a few and they save the best til last with the massive song ‘Don’t Care Bout Nothin‘ which, for me, was the stand out song on the debut album.  The only songs missing from that album are ‘The Explorer‘ which was a Harry Cody instrumental and ‘Spar 10‘.

As I said, twenty-five years have gone by and Zinny’s voice isn’t as high as it once was but, instead, he sounds great in a lower register.  Besides, when you have a great back up singer, Chris Laney, to take care of the high stuff, then all vocal angles are more than covered.

To recap, we’ve got Zinny on vocals, the pounding rhythm of Stixx on drums, underpinned by Chris on bass and backing vocals.  So, that leaves someone to fill the very large shoes of the original guitarist, Harry Cody.  And, who better than Rob Marcello of Danger Danger, Laney’s Legion and, now, The Defiants to take up the mantle?  I couldn’t think of a better fit, as Rob just rips on this album.

All in all, this is a superbly performed high-energy sleazy ass rock record.  If you want to go back to where you left ‘Bop City‘, then go and buy this excellent album and you’ll be right there.