Tag Archives: Peter Scallan

Review: Hard Rock Hell XI

Review: Hard Rock Hell XI

Hafan-Y-Mor, Pwhelli 9-11 November 2017

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

I have regularly attended the HRH AOR events since they started, but this was my first time at the main HRH event of the year. Personally speaking, the bill for this event was actually more appealing than the last HRH AOR event in March and the forthcoming event and I was very much looking forward to it!

Day 1 – Thursday 9 November 2017

The first day isn’t a full day but did consist of six bands. However, with travel and getting settled into the accommodation, I only managed to catch four of the bands. The first of these was Killcode, a five-piece hailing from New York. They have been described as southern-infused rock/metal with a modern vocal twist. I found them more grunge than anything else but musically very good at what they did. Vocally, I found Tom Morrissey’s voice limited in terms of range and feeling but he was an excellent frontman. While they didn’t really do it for me, they did get a reasonable reaction from the crowd. They were quickly followed by Back Aces. These guys are another AC/DC-inspired Aussie band. Based on the evidence of this performance I would say they are more of an original tribute act. They even covered Rock’n’Roll Damnation in their set. They also covered The Rolling Stones song Happy and didn’t really do it justice. They were totally uninspiring for me and not main stage material in my opinion, but seemed to go down reasonably well.

Killcode – photo credit: Sean Larkin

Next up was Wayward Sons, Toby Jepson’s new band. I was never a fan of Little Angels or even that keen on him during his stint in Gun, so it was going to be interesting to see him with his new band. Drawing from their debut album, they are quite a different prospect live from Little Angels. They were tight but at the same time raunchy and very loud! Extremely good at what they do, some of the songs sounded like Jepson was drawing on his Gun experience with Gun-like riffs in some of the songs. The band delivered a great set, despite Jepson’s amp blowing and getting what appeared to be a bit of strop, launching his guitar at his guitar tech. Ironically it was a Flying V – or maybe he was just being rock’n’roll! These guys went down a storm with the crowd, but did little to change my mind about Toby Jepson.

Headlining on the Thursday night was Dee Snider. Using George Thorogood’s Bad to the Bone as an intro when Dee hit the stage he looked lean, mean and keen to get right on with it and that is exactly what he did! Quite amazing as he told the crowd his elderly mother had been involved in an accident and was seriously ill back in the US. With his four piece band he rattled through a mix of his solo material from his latest album and classic Twisted Sister numbers and brought the day to an energetic close. This is more than can be said for myself as I had been on the go for 18 hours straight – I would like to tap into some of his energy!

Dee Snyder – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

Day 2 – Friday 10 November 2017

The second day was off to a sluggish start as I caught up from the previous long day. In the main arena the first band I caught up with was Syteria. Got to say I was a bit at a loss as to how this mainly female-fronted band managed to get on to the main stage. I found them poor vocally and musically, although they did look the part with their glam/sleaze image. Quite possibly I am doing them a disservice as maybe they were on the wrong bill and may be better suited HRH Sleaze or Glam. Next up was a band I had never heard of in The Gravel Tones. There can’t be many festivals that can go from a band like Syteria to one like The Gravel Tones as they were so different in both style and content. The band consists of a duo with Jimmy O on guitar and vocals and Mikey Sorbello on drums. This initially filled me full of dread but when these guys struck up they made one helluva rock’n’roll racket! Not only that, they generated enough energy on the stage between them to light a small town. Sorbello in particular was impressive with his strangely-angled drum kit, so much so, you hardly noticed the lack of bass player. These guys play a mix of rock with blues, rock’n’roll and bit of R’n’B thrown in for good measure. Very impressive and definitely a find for me. These guys have got some good shit going on!

The Gravel Tones – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

And as if to further reinforce the variety of rock on display at HRH, next up was Tyketto. My admiration for Danny Vaughn as a singer and songwriter has been well documented over the last four or five years. The release of the latest studio album only reinforced this admiration as it is in my books the best album they have recorded. This was the first time seeing the band since that release and they didn’t disappoint. Opening with the title track from that album, what we got was a masterclass in melodic rock. Danny’s vocals and showmanship were second to none; Chris Green’s guitar playing was exquisite; Ged Ryland’s keyboards and vocals added extra texture and colour and the rhythm section just nailed it, even with deputising a bass player. They gave us a set that perfectly balanced the old and new and were just superb!

And just when you think, that can’t be topped, along come Y & T. Back in the day I was never a huge fan, resulting in much abuse from my mates, but over the last four years or so I have wondered why these guys didn’t click with me previously. With only Dave Menketti still in the land of the living from the original line-up, it matters not a jot. These guys deliver every time. Running through a set consisting of songs mainly from the first five albums, they have set of classic rock songs second to absolutely none. If Tyketto provided a masterclass, this was paying homage to a living legend! Dave Menketti’s vocals and playing were just sublime. And how many bands can close a set with songs like Rescue Me and Forever? My conversion to Y & T fan was completed with this performance tonight!

Y & T – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

And the poor buggers to follow the preceding two sets were headliners Airbourne. I do have a soft-spot for these guys and have a few of their albums in my collection, so I was looking forward to them. They were tight and ferocious and they just didn’t let up at all! However, they fact that didn’t let up at all, was probably the downfall of this set in my humble opinion. It just started merging into one big blur and a little bit of light and shade would have been good. After about six songs, I remarked to the love of my life that there had been a lot of songs with the obligatory woahs. Her reply kind of summed it up as she said she thought it was still the first song! Regardless of what this pair of old gits thought, they band ran through a great mix of songs from the new album and previous albums, battering the crowd into submission. The place was absolutely rammed like I have never seen before, and they just lapped it up. Fair play, to Airbourne as they certainly know their audience and gave them exactly what they wanted!

Airborne – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

Day 3 – Saturday 11 November 2017

So far, covering the whole weekend on my own I hadn’t managed to get across to the second arena. However, I was determined to do so today. This was only made even more difficult by the stellar bill that was on the main stage. I also caught most of the documentary about the HRH journey which was very informative and well put together – well done HRH!

The opening band was Buffalo Summers. These guys are as close to a local band as you will get at HRH hailing from South Wales. With two albums under their belt, they drew from these for their set and also played a new song from a new album due out next year. They delivered a set of groove-laden blues rock and got a pretty great reception for an opening band. I thought they delivered a solid set. My only criticism would be of singer Andrew Hunt. His vocals lacked a little in dynamics considering the groove going on. The annoying thing was, that he clearly could stretch out a little as he did in a few songs, so he needs to do it more to match up with the groove the band are laying down.

Buffalo Summer – photo credit: Sean Larkin

Good opening set though! Toseland were next on the main stage. I saw these guys some time ago supporting Reef and was impressed that night and liked the debut album too. I haven’t heard the second album, but was looking forward to seeing them. However, this time round I found them rather disappointing. The vocal sound was very tinny and made James Toseland sound rather nasally, and I just struggled to get into their set. The band is clearly a well-oiled live act and certainly covered every inch of the stage, but their enthusiasm just didn’t rub off on me.

This made it all the easier to make my first visit to the second arena to catch Burnt Out Wreck. Fronted by former Heavy Pettin’ drummer Gary Moat, these guys ply a raunchy, groove-laden melodic rock sound. While the single Swallow drew the obvious AC/DC comparison’s, there is more to the band than that with elements of the likes of Def Leppard and Dokken thrown in for good measure. Listening to the set it is also obvious how influential Moat was in writing the Heavy Pettin’ material, which makes it all the more surprising that he isn’t involved in the reformed band! Drawing on the recently released debut album, Moat demonstrated why these guys merit a shot on the bigger stage with his superb voice, more so than a few of the bands who had already graced it so far.

Burnt Out Wreck – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

I returned to the main stage to catch the already started Von Hertzen Brothers, whom I knew very little about. My second find of the weekend, these guys play a hard edged progressive style with a modern alternative rock twist with some glorious harmony vocals which is very difficult to categorise! I didn’t know any of their material but it was delivered with precision, power and passion. Front-man Mikko Von Hertzen can also work a crowd and has humorous line in banter. Despite being very different from the previous acts, they got a great reception. They are also playing HRH Prog and they will certainly go down a storm there. I definitely need to get to grips with these guys back catalogue! And to continue with the theme of each band being different from the previous,

Gun followed the Von Hertzen Brothers. Gun are riding the crest of a wave at the moment with the critical and commercial success of their new album Favourite Pleasures. The opening song of the set was She Knows from that opus and set the tone for a serious kick-ass set from the Glaswegians. This was band completely on fire with Dante Gizzi sounding the best I have ever heard him. Added to that was the rising star Tommy Gentry with his swagger and stellar playing; the obvious fact that Jools Gizzi has seriously upped his own lead playing and a rhythm section of Andy Carr and Paul McManus who were tighter than a duck’s arse! The band drew on their considerable heritage of material including playing the obvious classics from their first few albums and finished on a role with Steal Your Fire, Shame On You and their version of Fight For Your Right with the front of the audience pogoing like mad! On the evidence of this set Gun should have been much higher up the bill and were easily band of the day and definitely my set of the weekend.

Gun – photo credit: Sean Larkin

The unfortunate band to follow Gun was Lynch Mob. I was a huge fan of George Lynch in his Dokken days, but I haven’t heard any of the Lynch Mob albums. However, I was looking forward to seeing the band. What I did hear of the Lynch Mob material sounded good and the band were superb. However, with extended solos and endings it was all a little too self-indulgent. It was no coincidence that the biggest cheers of the set were for the Dokken songs which included Heaven Sent, Into the Fire and the closer Mr Scary. The band appeared to make the assumption that the crowd would know their set and quite possibly this was the wrong festival for them and they might be better on the HRH AOR bill. They may well have thought they were on another bill as the singer kept thanking the ‘Hellfest’ crowd!

To keep on the theme of variety, Reef was next up on the main arena. Like Gun, these guys have got a great pedigree. Consisting of three original members the band proceeded to bring the crowd back up again drawing predominantly on the Glow album and their hits. Bass player Jack Beassant cut a striking figure as he moved his huge frame across the stage and provided a huge bass sound simultaneously. In fact, so much so that during the song Higher Vibration the whole venue appeared to be vibrating with bass! A highlight for me and one of my Reef favourites was Consideration. A new song from the long-awaited fifth album was also played called Precious Metal, which sounded great too. I for one am delighted these guys are back recording and gigging and look forward to the new album.

Reef – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

As soon this set ended I jumped over to the second arena to catch some of the Black Whisky set. I was pleased to see they had a good crowd and held most of it beyond the start of the Black Star Riders set, including me for a short time, before heading back over. These guys have an infectious brand of classic rock which draws on real classic rock influences such as UFO and Zeppelin without sounding like clones. They delivered a set of tight, well played songs and appeared to be going down well and I look forward to seeing the full set some time soon.

Black Whiskey – photo credit: Sean Larkin

Saturday night headliners Black Star Riders have had a pretty meteoric rise since their debut album in 2013. They have released two further albums since then culminating in their latest album being in the Top 10 in the UK. I liked the first album very much, but if I am being honest I have not been too keen on the subsequent output. Regardless of my opinion, the band put on a superb show and it was lapped up by the HRH crowd. Playing a chunk of the new album and songs from the previous two albums, the Scott Gorham/Thin Lizzy influence is clear for all to hear. The set also included the Lizzy number Jailbreak. Harking back to a time when the song was king it is great that a classic rock band is getting the success that Black Star Riders are having and hopefully this can pave the way for new younger bands to do likewise. It also included a drum solo, which for me added very little to set as I would rather hear another song. Finally, the biggest cheer of the set was saved for the last song of the evening which was Whiskey in the Jar. The band milked every last drop from it and quite right too!

Black Star Riders – photo credit: Simon Dunkerley

So was HRH XI the rip-roaring success it looked like on paper? Regardless of my opinion on individual bands, it was a stupendous event. So much so, that I think I might switch from attending the HRH AOR event to HRH as the bills for this are far superior and provide greater variety of acts. The Saturday main stage line-up couldn’t have presented seven more different more bands representing the spectrum of rock.

In an age when everybody sounds like everybody else, HRH as an organisation should be commended for putting on a schedule with such diverse bands. Obvious highlights for me were the sets from Tyketto and Y & T from the Friday. However, for me Gun completely stole the show with their absolutely stunning set on Saturday afternoon and surely at some point must be a headline contender for HRH? In terms of finding new music, I will be exploring the back catalogue of the Von Hertzen Brothers and The Gravel Tones. Finally, my only regret was not getting over to the second arena more often. For me Burnt Out Wreck have got to be contenders for getting a slot on the main stage as they were easily more suited to that than a few of the acts who were on it!


Review: King King – Exile & Grace

Review: King King – Exile & Grace

Manhaton Records (October 2017)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

King King first came to my attention supporting Gun at one of their famous Glasgow Barrowlands Christmas gigs. I was well impressed and immediately sought out their recorded work, which was equally impressive! This is new opus is their fourth album and is no disappointment.

(She don’t) Gimme No Loving‘ opens the album and is a cross of Thunder and classic Marsden/Moody era Whitesnake. Motoring along mostly based on a great staccato guitar riff and organ counterpart, it also has a great chorus. ‘Heed The Warning‘ has a slow build-up intro and is then into a classic funky/blues rock rhythm. Next up is ‘Broken‘ which is a mid-paced blues rocker, based around a neat twelve bar guitar riff and driving rhythm section. It has a great variation for the killer chorus too. Opening with nice clean guitar sound and a Fender Rhodes-type sound, ‘Find Your Way Home‘ is a slow burning soulful blues ballad with a powerful chorus. ‘Tear It All Up‘ as it name suggests takes the feel up a few notches and revolves around another great guitar chop. With driving bass and drums this one really rocks along.

We slip into stomping bass mode for ‘Betrayed Me‘ which reminds me of prime time Bad Company. However, it’s more bluesy with Alan Nimmo’s blues guitar playing and a great understated vocal performance – a classic example of more is definitely less! ‘Long Time Running‘ opens up with drums and guitar is very reminiscent of a classic Whitesnake again and could easily sit on Come and Get It. It has another great guitar chop leading into a great twelve-bar bridge leading to the inevitable catchy chorus. Next up is ‘Nobody Knows Your Name’ which again draws on more blues rock influences with a Free/Kossoff style guitar riff opening the song. It also draws on more recent influences which structural elements of the song drawing on the likes of AC/DC – but let’s face it they probably draw on the same influences as Mr Nimmo! Closing song ‘I Don’t Wanna Lie‘ slips back into a more traditional blues feel. It bounces along on a great base line with almost reggae-ish feel at times. It has the feel of classic Eric Clapton about and that’s certainly no band thing.

On this album the band stretches out more into blues rock with a whole range of classic feels and sounds while retaining their own sound, mainly due to Nimmo’s vocals and guitar playing. The sound to my ears is crisp and tight – impeccable production in my opinion. The songs are also right on the money. My only criticism of the album is that it ends too quickly – but they do say you should always leave your audience wanting more and this certainly does. If you haven’t heard these guys, do yourself a favour and a pick up a copy or even better, go see them live! At the moment Alan Nimmo is recovering from throat issues which resulted in surgery and this lead to the cancellation of their tour supporting the album. All that remains for me to say is get well Alan but only come back when you are really ready. Like me, I am sure the growing legion of King King fans will be waiting with bated breath for your return!


Review: Gun – Favourite Pleasures

Gun – Favourite Pleasures

Caroline (Sept 2017)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Being from their hometown and knowing a few of the guys, I am pretty familiar with Gun and their career output. Admittedly, I wasn’t that keen on the band while Toby Jepson sang with them and was pretty glad the he left and even more delighted when it was announced his replacement was Dante Gizzi. While there is a constant debate about the merits of Gun without original vocalist Mark Rankine, I have liked what Gun have produced so far. And just to throw my tuppence worth in, Dante is technically a far superior singer to Mark!

The press release with this album states that it’s a return to the bands rockier roots and the opening track ‘She Knows‘ just completely knocks your socks off. With a superb riff the song rattles a long at fair pace with bass and drums firmly driving it. New boy Tommy Gentry absolutely rips it up during the solo. Primetime Gun! Next up is ‘Here’s Where I Am‘ which revolves around an almost 70s drum beat and while it rocks, there is a tip of the hat to their pop sensibilities. The title track ‘Favourite Pleasures‘ funks up proceedings with a crisp, hard-edged rhythm and Gizzi almost spitting out the words. The album continues with ‘Take Me Down‘ which again for me is primetime crossover Gun combining their rock roots with a whole range of contemporary influences, which is basically the Gun hallmark. ‘Silent Lovers‘ bounces along on a bouncing rhythm and sounds like it draws on influences such as 70s pop rock and punk/new wave while rocking along.

Black Heart‘ stomps along on an almost walking rhythm and then bursts into a real stomp for the short bridge and powering into the chorus before dropping back into the opening riff. It also has some great string arrangements. Next up is ‘Without You In My Life‘ which starts with a slashing guitar riff that wouldn’t sit out of place on an early Clash album. However, with all the other elements of the arrangement it sounds edgy, contemporary and original. ‘Tragic Heroes‘ opens up like it could have been on any of the first two Gun albums but sounds fresh and modern rather than a band trying to just re-tread their own footsteps. They also cleverly cram a lot into just over three and a half minutes. Next up is the vitriolic ‘Go To Hell‘ with Dante sneering the lyrics at whoever has to go to hell with the juxtaposition of the chorus and the ‘love, love, love, love’ chorus. Rocks but has an almost new wave feel too it. The final song on the album proper for me is quite possibly the standout track. Entitled ‘The Boy Who Fooled the World‘, it opens with just piano and vocals. Melody-wise, it reminds me of Billy Corgan and the Smashing Pumpkins at their sublime best. A fitting closer for the album proper and sublime in its own right.

The review version of the album has five bonus tracks with it. First up is a cover of ‘(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)‘ with a guitar sound that the Young Brothers would be pleased with! This is followed by ‘20 Storeys‘ which I thought might have been a variation on the Jelly Piece Song (Glaswegians over a certain age will know what I am talking about)! ‘Come Undone‘ is next and is the pick of the bonus tracks for me. The throbbing bass line is contrasted by the almost muted guitar picking across the top and with a grooving chorus – great stuff! ‘Next is All I really Need‘ and we get the classic Gun crossover sound drawing a range of any one of a number of alternative rock influences, but rocking all the same. Last, and by no means least there is ‘Whisky and a Prayer‘. This has an awesome edgy groove with the riff and the vocals and all crammed into just three minutes!

So, do I think this album lives up to its billing of being a return to Gun’s rock roots? Damn tooting and then some. However, in returning to those roots, the sheer diversity of influences that have always been there still remain. Being an old fart I can hear influences from the 70s as diverse as Slade, Bowie and Zeppelin as well as alternative stuff such as Manic Street Preachers and the Clash. There are also more contemporary influences I can hear such as Muse. However, what the guys do is take these influences and carve out a little niche of their own and sound like…well, they sound like Gun! Just as they always have done! This is easily the best Gun album since they reformed and definitely since they burst on to the seen with Taking on the World. If you really are a Gun fan, set aside your hankering for Mark Rankin, and get with the programme. If you don’t, your missing some quite stunning sounds and in age of quantised, digitised, soundalike bullshit where it is becoming rarer and rarer!


Review: Night Ranger – Don’t Let Up

Night Ranger – Don’t Let Up

Frontiers Music Srl (March 2017)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Over the years Nightranger have produced some of the best US-based melodic rock, especially in the 80s. Having said that, they probably fell foul of their own success with film soundtrack successes they had not necessarily being representative of their sound. They are also one of the best live acts you are ever likely to see and seem to consistently put superb live performances. The studio output has probably been less consistent, but none the less is still pretty impressive. The last two releases have seen them on fine form, so I was looking forward this one.

The opening song ‘Somehow Someway‘ comes thundering out of the traps with guns blazing. The sound is certainly more guitar driven and even slightly heavier than previous offerings. However, it still retains the trademark melody we have come to expect of Night Ranger. ‘Running Out of Time‘ kicks off with a great riff and then into some excellent twin lead guitar work, feature of this album. Having listened to this album a lot in the car, I was racking my brain to think whey I thought the riff sounded familiar. I eventually realised it sounded like a track called All Fired Up by Glasgow’s Killing From A Distance, having seen them recently. ‘Truth‘ has an almost FM-like quality to it, albeit slightly more ballsier. This is demonstrated in the chorus with with vocal melodies working around the twin lead guitars nestling in the background. ‘Day and Night‘ kicks off with a dirty bluesy feel and then breaks down into a verse sung over thundering drums. The chorus then picks up the pace with double pace drum beat. The title track ‘Don’t Let Up‘ opens with more harmony guitars which again are reminiscent of FM and flows nicely in to a great chorus.

The blues feel hinted at in Truth comes to the fore in ‘(Won’t Be Your) Fool Again‘ with a great staccato riff and some bottleneck guitar. With a riff Keef Richards would be pleased with, this number bounces along with a great chorus falsetto sounding backing vocal! ‘Say What you Want‘ is the type of melodic pacey rocker we came to expect on the first five Night Ranger albums. It moves swiftly along with a great vocal. The pace is changed somewhat for ‘We Can Work It Out‘ which is built around the drum pattern and some acoustic guitar picking. It has a great harmony lead vocal and a killer chorus in my book. ‘Comfort Me‘ takes the feel back up a level and has some great duelling lead guitar work as well as some great harmonies. Jamie also opens up harmony guitars and builds on the previous song in terms of pace and feel. While I like the song, for me it’s easily the weakest song on the album. We are the last track which opens with just acoustic guitar and vocals and in places sounds a little like Oasis! That it until the killer chorus spectacular chorus kicks in. Entitled ‘Nothing Left of Yesterday‘, the verse/bridges contrast perfectly the huge powerful vocal in the chorus. Great stuff!

I’ve got to admit, the first couple of spins of this album and I thought Night Ranger have blown it here! But, I like to give albums a chance to reveal themselves to me over a number of plays and this one certainly did! It is certainly heavier and more guitar orientated than previous efforts, but it is a real grower. If you like Night Ranger, you will love this but give it time to grow and you and I guarantee you will love it!


Review: House of Lords – Saints of the Lost Souls

House of Lords – Saints of the Lost Souls

Frontiers Music Srl (March 2017)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

House of Lords need no introduction for fans of AOR/melodic rock. Oringially formed in the 80s from the ashes of Giuffria by Greg Giuffria, they released a spectacular debut and equally impressive follow-up. The band has changed somewhat since then but still includes James Christian on vocals. This is the tenth studio album from the band and also features new bass player Chris Tristram.

From the first song ‘Harlequin‘, this album has a different feel to their previous outing and seems more key board-based. It opens with a lush keyboard intro for the six minute long opener. Once the song gets going, I must admit it is a little disappointing. I like the focus on keyboards but the overall mix, in particular the guitar sound, is a little lack lustre. This one really needs to kick you in the gonads to work and it doesn’t. This is quickly followed by ‘Oceans Divide‘. It has a great chorus hook and is more suited to the overall sound of the album as a melodic rocker. However, for ‘Hit the Wall‘ the sound and feel really hits the spot. This is songs strikes an ideal balance between guitar, keys and vocals and is easily the best song on the album for me. The title track, ‘Saints Of The Lost Souls‘, is next and it starts with atmospheric keyboards. It is an up-tempo melodic rocker that needs to be seriously guitar driven but doesn’t quite come off as it just isn’t edgy enough. There is a change of pace for the acoustic opening of ‘The Sun Will Never Set Again‘. The songs builds nicely to a catchy chorus and again the production works well for this power ballad.

New Day Breakin‘ kicks off the second half of the album and a great guitar/keys combo riff and another great hook for the chorus, although the backing vocals/refrains at the end are a little weak. ‘Reign of Fire‘ in its title suggests it’s going to be an out and out rocker. It’s actually a mid-paced rocker that for me doesn’t really get going. For the next song title is even more misleading. Entitled ‘Concussion‘, it is a bluesey rocker which bounces along nicely on thumping bass line with great balance between the guitars and keyboards. It is also another great chorus even with that strange title! ‘Art of Letting Go‘ follows and starts well but for me really doesn’t really get going. The intro to ‘Grains of Sand‘ is excellent and twists and turns through the verse, bridge and chorus and has another catchy chorus. Last song on the album is ‘The Other Option‘ which is a pacey closer which needs to be much edgier to have any chance of working. Unlike some of the other weaker songs which have the saving grace of a catchy chorus, the chorus just doesn’t do it for me. I especially didn’t like the woahs at the end, which kind of sum of the lack-lustre feel of the album in places.

With this album I have given it numerous spins to get to grips with the content. It has some super stuff on it in the shape of the likes of ‘Hit the Wall‘, ‘The Sun Will Never Set‘ and ‘Concussion‘. But overall the production/mix of the album just leaves me a little cold. In Jimi Bell they have an excellent guitarist and he shines in some of the tracks in terms of lead playing. However, when the songs really need to rock, they just don’t. The power just isn’t there resulting in the pacey rockers falling flat. In addition, the drums sound so programmed that the fills really do start to irritate a little and the drums sound is part of the lack-lustre mix. I totally get what the band are trying to do here with moving more in the direction of the keyboards. However, for the production is letting it down as it has ended sounding a little too sanitised and dare I say it quantised! Not a bad album, but I just don’t think I would spend my money on it!


Reviewer Peter Scallan’s Top Ten Album’s 2016

ps-top-10

This time it’s the turn of Rockposer Dot Com! reviewer Peter Scallan to lay out his selection for Top Ten Album of 2016.

In no particular order –

resonate

Contagious

water/bm book 1/04

Reach

Nova

Inglorious - Inglorious

beth-hart-fire-on-the-floor

cheap-trick-bang-zoom-crazy-hello

sting-57th-and-9th

the-feeling-the-feeling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Review: Overland – Contagious

Contagious

Review: Overland – Contagious

Escape Music (Oct 2016)

Reviewer: Peter Scallan

Steve Overland needs no introduction to fans of melodic rock and/or AOR. As the voice of FM, I have waxed lyrical about his voice and for me he is The Man. He could sing the Yellow Pages and make it sound great. His soulful, bluesy yet melodic voice is just awesome and I have often wondered how he never ended in one of the non-Paul Rodgers line-ups of Bad Company, especially as Simon Kirke was in Wildfire and instrumental in getting them signed to Swan Song records. But enough brown-nosing and waxing lyrical, let’s get down to the album.

The album opener ‘Doctor My Heart‘ just plays up to The Man’s soulful side. With a great soulful verse the chorus is lifted by a great melody and that voice. There is also some pretty soulful guitar playing going on too from Tommy Denander. ‘Easy On Me‘ opens with almost dance-style keyboards before the guitars crash in and drive the verse to a very FM-esque bridge and chorus. The song breaks down in the middle with another neat guitar licks and then lifts for the solo proper. Great stuff! Next is ‘Edge of the Universe‘ with a Hammond organ intro before it stomps through a verse reminiscent of Joe Lyn Turner era Rainbow before the killer chorus kicks in. We head back to the blues for ‘Every Lonely Night‘ which smoulders through the verses and of course the inevitable killer chorus. There is also a lush breakdown for the solo which then builds nicely back into the chorus. ‘Wildest Dreams‘ continues the soulful/bluesy feel even though it opens up with a vocoder intro. It is reminiscent of Michael Bolton a la the Hunger in terms of feel and sound. The pace is picked up with ‘Intoxicated‘ which is a guitar-driven rocker with a great opening guitar salvo. It has an almost Streets feel and could comfortably sit on any of the two Streets albums. Admittedly The Man has worked with Mike Slammer on a number of projects so inevitably there has been some influence and it sounds great.

We then have a real slow-burning blues number in the shape of ‘Define Our Love‘. The Man croons with the best over this and then pours his heart out in the chorus. The song has a great expansive feel which allows the vocals to shine. ‘Pocketful of Dreams‘ is a stomping rocker that could easily sit on the last two FM albums. The Man rocks while maintaining that lush tone and feel but just that little bit harder. Next up we have bouncing bluesy number in the shape of ‘Making Miracles‘. With anybody else singing this it might be likely to be average at best but The Man lifts it from the average to the absolutely lush. ‘Back Where I Belong‘ has a fast and furious opening which is again reminiscent of Rainbow as is the chorus for me. A pacey stomper providing some variety to the album and while it works well, is the weakest song on the album for me. And so to album closer ‘Unforgiven World. This is another pacey melodic rocker which has a Streets feel to it. It really motors along and provides a fitting closing to the album.

As you probably have gathered I like this album – I like it a lot! Admittedly I may be a little biased having loved this guy’s voice since I saw him with Wildfire back in the early 80s, supporting MSG if I recall correctly. Therefore, I may be a little biased. However, along with The Man’s voice there is some superb guitar playing from Tommy Denander and some really superb songs. The production is also pretty strong and unlike a lot of albums produced by the Swedish AOR Mafia, it complements the songs and vocals nicely and doesn’t sound generic like so many other albums are these days. So hats off to the production team for the mix! This fills the gap nicely until the next FM album – when is that then Mr Overland?


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