ALBUM/EP/SINGLE AND LIVE DVD REVIEWS

BELOW ARE A SELECTION OF MY ALBUM/EP/LIVE DVD REVIEWS. MY LATEST REVIEWS ARE AT THE TOP AND IN MY REVIEW ARCHIVE THEY ARE IN ARTIST ALPHABETICAL ORDER (SOLO ARTIST BY FIRST NAME), ALBUM UNLESS STATED


***NEW REVIEW***

AUSTIN GOLD
BEFORE DARK CLOUDS
(2017)

This release by the Cambridge based blues rockers is astonishingly accomplished for a debut album and full to the brim with catchy rockers sometimes with the feel of classic Bryan Adams and well constructed and wonderfully written ballads.
Opener ‘Brand New Low’ is a radio friendly, free flowing rocker with the first of those Mr Adams touches, has a good time feel and liberal use of the hammond organ for good measure and there is a similar feel to ‘The Reason’ which adds bubbling bass work and a funkier groove to proceedings.
Highlight ‘Before Dark Clouds’ is a powerful blues ballad with the feel of classic Free/Bad Company and also on the slower side ‘Wishing Away’ is beautifully laid-back full of heartfelt vocals and sublime guitar picking.
It is back to classic blues rock on ‘Roadside’ which is powered along by pulsating drum work and accomplished twin guitar work and they add just a drop of polished country rock to the light and breezy ‘See The Light’.
One of the more unusual numbers on here is also for me one of the best and the uplifting ‘All The Way Down’ is dreamy, wonderfully mellow with a touch of delicate prog rock and a soaring guitar solo, an exquisite chilled piece of music.
Fab debut and they do not put a foot wrong throughout.

Andrew Lock




REVIEW ARCHIVE
*******BY ARTIST A-Z******* (SOLO ARTIST BY FIRST NAME)


1000 CHAINS
1000 CHAINS (EP)
(2016)

Four top quality tracks and a pretty amazing debut EP, plenty of light and shade as they switch styles with ease from prog rock magical melodies to it’s many touches/flourishes of classic rock and metal riffs (especially the mighty Black Sabbath) and the emphasis is definitely on rock.
Opener ‘Conspiracy Fact’ is a clever piece of music which plays around with time signatures which give it that prog rock feel (along with the intelligent lyrics) while the main riff is pure classic rock in style, the vocals have a touch of anger which with the addition of a little turbo charged drum work and the powerful guitar work makes for a fab opener.
‘There Can Be Only Pain’ has a touch of classic Sabbath to some of the lead licks and really makes use of that light and shade with both subdued acoustic guitar moments and uptempo rock out parts, a very impressive mix of styles, this track just about has it all.
There is a touch of Metallica to the opening guitar work on ‘8 Solid Light Years of Lead’ and later in the track there is a riff with a fab Children of the Grave (Sabbath) feel.
Closing number ‘Chains of my Own Making’ is a bit of an epic with a beautiful laid-back intro, impressive lead vocals and is for me the most prog number on the release while still having moments of classic rock in the guitar riff and the heavy mid section.
A quality debut for sure that should appeal to lovers of prog, classic rock and metal alike.

Andrew Lock


3 DAYZ WHIZKEY
LIVE AND LET LIVE
(2015)

This five piece blues/southern/country rock hybrid roll into town with their first live album brim full of good time tunes with a bonus of three new studio tracks to seal the deal.
‘Amen Rock and Roll’ is a perfect opener, a riff driven, catchy, stomping rocker and the following brace keep up the tempo with ‘The Long Road’ introducing a toe-tapping boogie element and ‘3 Dayz Whizkey’ a cross breed of Dr. Feelgood R & B and 50’s rock and roll.
Elsewhere ‘You Make My Day’ is a blues rocker with hints of ‘Foxy Lady’ while ‘Mick Jagger’ with it’s summer Van Halen vibe pays tribute to Jagger himself and others including Gene Simmons and Billy Gibbons.
The band show their quirky side on ‘Modern Haircut’ bringing to mind the ZZ Top fun time charm of the likes of ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ and we get a touch of Eagles style country rock on the flowing ‘From Sunrise To Sunset’.
Of the three studio tracks the standouts are ‘Hard To Be Good’ again a little country rock with a touch of the Traveling Wilburys and album closer ‘Sand’ a mostly acoustic, mournful country tinged ballad with great lyrics, effective female backing vocals and wonderfully subtle guitar work.
A really good live album with quality bonus material.

Andrew Lock


42 DECIBEL
OVERLOADED
(2017)

The 3rd album by the Argentinian rockers who certainly have a thing for Bon Scott era AC/DC and the vocalist does an uncanny Mr Scott I must say
Kicks of with the uptempo, sleaze drenched ‘Whisky Joint’ which has almost a punk edge followed by ‘Dangerous Mess’ which has more of a classic AC/DC style riff and is a really catchy rocker.
‘Brawler’ sounds a little like the bands version of AC/DC’s Ride On and they try something a little different on ‘Hot Shot’ adding a touch of flowing Southern Rock style to the riffage (after the intro that is which is pure GNR).
Elsewhere we also have a couple of numbers that add a bit of Quireboys style groove to the AC/DC sound ‘Lost Case’ and Cause Damage’ and they go back to the style of their favourite band with what is for me their take on The Jack with ‘Double Itch Blues’.
Not that much originality but I really love this album and if you love old school AC/DC you will as well.

Andrew Lock


AARON KEYLOCK
CUT AGAINST THE GRAIN
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is the debut album by an incredibly youthful blues talent that I put up there with the magnificent Laurence Jones and Aaron seems quite at home on so many blues styles and this is full of catchy, blues delights with spirited solos galore.
‘All the Right Moves’ makes for a blistering opener with plenty of attitude and a zippy guitar solo, ‘Medicine Man’ starts in downbeat low-key fashion before turning into a groove packed number with plenty of swing, solid riffs and outstanding slide guitar work.
I love both the slower paced but powerful almost Dylanesque ‘Falling Again’ especially the Sympathy For the Devil style Woo- Woos and the emotional blues ballad ‘Just One Question’ which reminds me a little of prime time Gary Moore.
‘Try’ is a little dreamy with a touch of flower power about it and quite different from anything else on here and I do like the Knocking on Heavens Door style ending, and his slide guitar work on solid blues stomper ‘Sun’s Gonna Shine’ is exceptional in fact his playing on the whole number is incredible.
There is a touch of Ian Hunter’s Once Bitten Twice Shy to the groove packed ‘Spin the Bottle’ which also includes a welcome dose of Hammond organ and an attacking guitar solo.
To close we have ‘No Matter What the Cost’ which begins in a Wish You Were Here kind of way and includes yet more cracking slide guitar work, it flows really well with optimistic lyrics and a flowing, breezy overall feel.
Such an impressive debut by an artist with hopefully a big future.

Andrew Lock


Adrian Nation
Live at Crossroads
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

I have seen Adrian perform a couple of times at The Cambridge Rock Festival and he is a truly charismatic artist, a soulful vocalist, exquisite guitarist and his lyrics are full of depth and emotion, what is more this live album captures the magic of his live shows to perfection and I agree 100% with his own comment on the press release that this is "One of the best live albums I have ever heard".
Very much in the folk/roots style the nine tracks on the album are all stars in their own right, opener 'The Coming of the Day' is a sprightly, uplifting ode to Mother Nature with impressive finger picking, 'Five Finger Rapids' is a spellbinding instrumental with more fast guitar work and it flows along like the river in the lyrics and the amount of different sounds he gets from the guitar is amazing and hard to believe just one man on stage.
Beautiful ballad 'No Question' is for me the most traditional folk sounding number and reminds me of John Tams at his best, 'The Heart Beats On' chugs along like a train (possibly a touch of Johnny Cash) with its constant foot tapping beat while the one cover on the album 'Vincent Black Lghtning' by Richard Thomson, the fantastically written but sad story of a young couple (with lyrical echoes of 'Whiskey In The Jar' at times) is mesmerising.
The closing number 'Set Fire to the Sky' has a hint of country, gentle, relaxing and full of emotion, finally the set ends with the most gentle/quiet thank you I have heard on a live album, not quite the end of the disc as he includes a bonus number recorded at a different show 'The Dancer' another beauty which takes you on a fabulous journey and says a lot about the thoughts and philosophy of the artist.
10 out of 10 and I strongly recommend that what ever musical genre you follow give it a listen as it ticks all the boxes, Adrian's voice and guitar work fabulous, lyrically superb, the sound /recording so perfect you could be at the show, an emotion packed stunning live album.

Andrew Lock


AFTER TEA
JOINT HOUSE BLUES
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

After Tea started out as a flower power pop outfit before changing into a harder edged blues band and both sides of that coin appear on this re-release of their 1970 album which has seven bonus tracks added.
The standout cuts for me are album opener and title track 'Joint House Blues' a slab of railroad style blues in the 'Dust My Broom' tradition, it just rolls along with its solid beat and harmonica work and the second number in 'You've Got To Move Me' a power charged rocker in the Deep Purple style with a Jon Lord style keyboard intro.
'Im Here (and Nowhere Else)' seems to be a throwback to their flower power days and has a pleasant enough acoustic vibe, 'Someday' is more of a power ballad, strong vocal delivery, a quality laid back Hammond organ solo and equally laid back guitar work.
They inject a touch of gospel to the opening of 'Lets Come All Together' which alternates between sections of riff based blues and mellow moments, which leads me to the final track of the album proper which is a 25 minutes long jam called 'Trial/Punishment/The End' and while I appreciate the musical ability of all involved for me it is far to self indulgent and a little samey but sure some of you will love it.
Best of the bonus tracks for me the light and breezy 60's pop of 'Sunshine Eyes' and the country tinged 'Love Song To Mother Nature'.

Andrew Lock


ALVIN LEE
STILL ON THE ROAD TO FREEDOM
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The former Ten Years After member returns with a spirited follow up to his seventy's release On the Road to Freedom, plenty of blues, a good dash of country rock and a pinch of easy listing.
Opener and title track 'Still On the Road To Freedom' is light and breezy, possibly Byrds in style with a real Woodstock vibe, vocals and guitar in perfect harmony with guitar licks just about filling every second of its running time, 'Listen to Your Radio Station' as the title suggests is a radio friendly number, funky, foot tapping and full of summer groove.
'Midnight Creeper' gives the chance for the keyboards to take centre stage with subtle blues guitar work smouldering in the background, after a slow burning start it really speeds up towards it's powerful climax, 'Save My Stuff' is top blues/rock and roll with harmonica work and a touch of a young Elvis Presley to the vocals, a real shuffle to this number which also has echoes of Jimmy Reed's 'Bright Lights, Big City'.
Other highlights include another touch of Elvis on the fast tempo rock and roll of 'I'm A Lucky Man' with it's foot certainly in early Sun Records territory and the country rock of 'Walk On, Walk Tall' lyrically the great Johnny Cash springs to mind and this number also has a positive gospel vibe running throughout.
The instrumental 'Song Of the Red Rock Mountain' is an atmospheric piece of music almost spaghetti western in style and a real masterclass in acoustic guitar picking.
Alvin reminisces about the old days on 'Back In 69' which is a fast tempo nostalgic look back at the Woodstock era with various styles thrown in the mix and another delight is the good time rock and roll instrumental 'Down Line Rock'.
A diverse album of real quality by a superb musician and with the mix of styles there is something for everybody.

Andrew Lock


ARAGO
THE FLYING DUTCHMAN
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A huge undertaking this one, to adapt the classic tale of The Flying Dutchman into a symphonic style rock opera (with plenty of prog elements) or what the band calls a drametical and with tons of admiration from me they succeed in some style.
Wonderfully epic with layers of atmosphere the whole thing is split into chapters each with their own parts and each chapter is introduced in the booklet along with all lyrics so you can get totally immersed in the incredible story.
While there are several nods to the sounds of the mighty Nightwish there is also plenty more going on covering a variety of styles and the three strong vocalists all take the parts of the story’s main characters The Captain, Daland and Senta.
This is of course best due to its nature an album to sit back and listen to as a whole piece but at the same time there are plenty of tracks that would stand on there own right.
Full review would take for ever so here are a few of the highlights.
‘Leaving’ with it’s spoken intro perfectly sets the scene/story before a solid Nightwish style guitar riff kicks in (possibly a touch of Maiden as well), it flows wonderfully and ends with the soothing sound of the ocean.
‘Through the Storm’ is loud and brash perfectly capturing the image of a storm at sea while in stark contrast ‘Sunrise’ is a delicate guitar/piano instrumental which proceeds the beautiful, catchy rock ballad ‘Brand New Day’, with it’s wonderful vocals by Sandra Kleinander and fine arrangement this would make a fantastic Disney film title track.
One of the different styles on show is ‘A Sailor’s Song’ a rousing if short sailors jig and you can just about smell the sea spray and taste the rum!
I catch a touch of medieval Blackmores Night style magic in the tranquil intro of ‘This Something’ which builds into a heavy rock balled and the uplifting ‘Hope’ has heaps of melodic guitar work and choral like backing vocals.
Sweeping violins add texture to rock ballad ‘Decision’ and it is back to the rock riffs on ‘Forever As One’.
There we have just a few of the many highlights from this stunning piece of work that despite its huge canvas holds together perfectly and I highly recommend it to lovers of symphonic metal, epic prog rock and those that just love a darn good story.

Andrew Lock


Attica Rage
Road Dog
(2011)

A fabulous rock album by the Glasgow based four piece band Attica Rage full of passion and power, not a dull track in site with touches of Metallica, Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath now and again in their sound.
Always a rocking album there is however a lot of variation in the numbers, my personal favourite track is the Southern Rock singed sound of 'Road Dog Forever' including outstanding slide guitar and piano and coming over like a heavy rock Lynyrd Skynyrd, it has a perfect sing-a-long chorus and must be a real crowd pleaser live.
'Contradictions' has another excellent guitar riff and starts with powerful almost tribal drum work, and to show their versatility the track 'Altea' is a beautiful delicate instrumental almost Blackmore's Night like in places and includes haunting cello work.
Other highlights include the classic rock ballad 'Lost', 'Through the Inner Eye' with its awesome Dio Sabbath era style riff. and the fast paced rockers' Altered Reality' and 'Back To the Old School'.
A very impressive release with so many different rock styles but all tied together with a distinctive style, well played throughout, standout vocals and excellent production, I have played it through many times and do not skip tracks which is always a sign of a really strong album to me.

Andrew Lock


BEN GRANFELT BAND
HANDMADE
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)
(2014)

On the sleeve notes singer/guitarist Ben (ex Wishbone Ash amongst others) mentions he had previously promised his fans that this album would be a blues album but he broke his promise and although blues moments there is so much more on offer here.
Straight off the mark in Thin Lizzy style (the fab two part guitar harmony parts anyway!) with ‘Going Home’ which also with the twin axe work has a Wishbone Ash feel, the latter not surprising as Ben performed this number live during his years with that band.
He does hit the blues mark on ‘Almighty Blues’, polished with a great feel and effective changes of pace.
‘Get Up and Go’ has a fun, upbeat 1980’s pop touch for me along the lines of Huey Lewis and the News while the possibly autobiographical ‘Faith, Hope & Love’ is a top draw epic full of fantastic playing and meaningful lyrics and it just oozes emotion.
Two unusual covers make the album and I prefer his version of ‘Baker Street’ as he puts his own stamp on it and gives it more of a rock vibe with the guitar playing the famous sax parts while for me his version of Pink Floyds ‘Breathe’ is beautifully played but for me to close to the original.
The CD includes three ‘live in the studio’ bonus tracks the standout his impressive acoustic take on the J.J. Cale masterpiece ‘Cocaine’.
There we go not a blues album (maybe next time!) but still an impressive release with some magic moments.

Andrew Lock


BILLY BOY ARNOLD
CHICAGO BLUES FROM ISLINGTON MEWS 1977
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This re-release of an album heralding the meeting of legendary blues man Billy Boy Arnold and British rock/blues trio The Groundhogs is a collision between traditional blues and 1970's blues rock, Billy Boy has a fabulous bluesy vocal style and also plays a mean harmonica while The Groundhogs really know how to rock.
The whole thing has a gloriously informal fee, not in the music which is tight and well played but with the pieces of studio chat and banter that can be heard before some of the numbers, pleased to read in the CD booklet that late Dr Feelgood vocalist Lee Brilleaux was a huge fan of this album as I hear a Feelgood touch at times.
The disc fair explodes into life with 'Dirty Mother F!' a pounding blues workout with real groove enhanced by sensational extended harmonica work, 'Don't Stay Out All Night' reminds me a little of early Status Quo boogie, think 'Down the Dust Pipe' and the breezy, up-tempo instrumental 'Riding the El' (really a fight out between harmonica and guitar) does not pause for breath.
If you want a taste of down on your luck blues look no further than 'Blue and Lonesome' slow paced and down beat and if you want more lively fare 'Eldorada Cadillac' has a touch of rockabilly and the Bill Haley's about it.
This release also includes three bonus tracks including the furiously paced 'Catfish' and is packaged superbly with sleeve notes explaining how this recording came about, if you enjoy your blues this one is for you.

Andrew Lock


BLUE TO BROWN
BLUE TO BROWN
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Distinctive, original, just two words that can describe this album by the Father and Son outfit Blue to Brown, Rob has an unusual vocal style, deep rich and full of character and added to Dom's (guitarist of Duran Duran for the last 7 years) dynamic guitar work they make quite a team.
Opening track 'Blue Boy' is full of screeching blues guitar, 'Going Down But Not Slow' has a classy jazz/blues feel with vocals right at the fore and top drum work while 'Bad Boy' with its impressive slide guitar intro has a warm, back water, Cajun, Bluegrass feel and turns into a real stomper.
Down and dirty blues with a real edge best describes 'I Get Loaded'', things slow down on 'Talking Blues' with Rob's vocals almost as low and rich as Louis Armstrong and this number also includes effective, subdued guitar work by Dom while 'Sweet Mercy' is a short, groovy, funky number with unusual vocal moans and groans at times.
For me the standout number on the album is 'The Heat Has Gone' performed as a duet by Rob and a female vocalist, a cracking set of lyrics to this scorching blues number which includes electrifying lead guitar.
Quite unique and one of the more unusual albums I have heard for a while in the blues genre.

Andrew Lock


The Boogiemen Inc.
Rocket Surgery
(2012)

A Norwegian rock' and 'roll band with by the sound of it many influences including possibly The Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd while at times I also hear traces of AC/DC and The Quireboys.
First up the lively good time rocker'Jezebel' a belting starter with female backing vocals adding an extra layer, '49 & 61' is definitely influenced by the Southern Rock genre, 'Nobody Home' is a country tinged, foot tapping rocker with standout lead vocals by Ola Kroken and things get heavy with 'Driftwood' a powerful blues workout with explosive guitar.
'Another Rainy Day' is smooth and funky with top quality drum work and full of groove, the album closes with the 100 miles an hour 'Rocket Surgery' the rocking title track with its echoes of Eddie Cochran classic 'Jeannie Jeannie Jeannie' and possibly also a touch of The Stray Cats, an electrifying finish to what would make a fantastic party album, wellplayed, well produced and sounds like it was recorded by a band full of smiles and having a whale of a time, top marks.

Andrew Lock


THE BOSSHOSS
GOD LOVES COWBOYS
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Such a surprising album on many levels, after looking through the booklet of images showing a biker gang sporting leathers with Hells Angel style patches (also love the cheeky way they have mimicked Elvis Presley’s TBC lightning bolt sign!) I expected a blues rock album which it kind of delivers on openers ‘Bullpower’ and ‘Whatever’ the latter complete with effective police siren effects throughout.
The clue that this was a different kind of album should have been the distinct sound of a horn section during the 2nd number and the wonderful sounds of The Tijuana Wonderbrass make a huge contribution to this release.
Again one of those bands that mix the styles up seemingly at will and we had rap/rock Kid Rock style on ‘God Loves Cowboys’ and this title track also has crowd sound effects and impressive monk style chanting at times.
‘Do It’ hits at times (god forbid you might say!) the world of disc and a groovy piece it is with solid bass lines and Stevie Wonder style keyboard work.
From disco to a touch of punk rock on the frantic ‘Stallion Battalion’ although lyrics firmly in the Saxon ‘Motorcycle Man’ line.
Exaggerated Elvis style vocals stand out on rock and roller ‘Backdoor Man’ which is a full on, wall of sound belter with its crashing percussion and horns, ‘My Way’ has a B 52’S fun vibe and on the classic rock side ‘Last Day’ does a great job.
The two bonus covers are for me are a little too much in Hayseed Dixie territory, namely blue grass style covers of Motorhead's ‘Killers’ and Cameo’s ‘Word Up’, but are well performed, good fun and love the hee-haws on the latter.
So a really different sounding album and impossible to put into one category but one I will return to.

Andrew Lock


BRAD SCHECTER
LIVE YOUR DREAMS
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A California born singer, pianist and drummer Brad is classed as a rock tenor who started performing when he was 6 years of age and later played with a number of rock/metal bands in the LA area.
This his first solo album he says was 22 years in the making and recounts various life events.
Two short piano instrumentals showcase his prowess on that instrument opener ‘BBC’ is atmospheric and gradually builds in intensity while ‘Reminiscence’ is more classical with a slight Gothic touch (would make a fab Nightwish intro).
On the rock side ‘Blind Eye’ is quite frantic with a touch of Ian Gillan’s early solo work and the spirit of Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman can be heard in both the epic ‘Spring’ about the passing of his father and the dramatic ‘Live Your Dreams’ on the latter two Brad’s voice a powerful instrument to be sure.
‘Just in Case’ is quite a left turn with the vocals a little bit quirky in the verses (kind of Queen’s I’m Going Slightly Mad) then the chorus rocks the big one and I also loved the flowing prog rock of ‘True Selfie’.
Very enjoyable with a few surprises.

Andrew Lock


THE BROS. LANDRETH
LET IT LIE
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The best thing about being asked to review albums is receiving an absolute gem that otherwise may have passed you by.
That is definitely the case with this the Canadian band’s debut album which is just about a perfect collection of Folk, Country and Americana (although in this case possibly Canadicana !)
This is a short review with my main message being if you have any inclination at all to the genres I have mentioned you have to give it a listen and even if not still give it a go.
No filler in sight on this quality collection of beautiful, rich sounding, well played tunes showcasing the musicianship of the band, their song writing prowess and the sublime vocals of the two Landreth brothers who front the band.
For me the spirt of The Eagles at their very best can be heard at times as well as nods to blue grass soul and funk with plenty of slide guitar, keyboards and the haunting sound of the harmonica all present.
Every track a highlight but love the warm, country tinged ballad ‘Firecracker’ the smooth, stylish soulful ‘Made Up Mind’ and with a little rock and roll thrown into the mix the good time feel of ‘Runaway Train’ which also has a Seasick Steve feel.
Another standout is ‘Going to the Country’ a rocker with a hint of blues that gives a wink to Canned Heat classic ‘Going up the County’.
Not just one of my albums of the year but what could become one of my all-time favourites, a complete diamond and no surprise that it has already gained an award.

Andrew Lock


CAIN RISING
CAIN RISING
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This cracking debut album showcases the accomplished songwriting of frontman Southside Jimmy Price with a set of country/rock and roll numbers with the spirit of Bruce Springsteen never far away.
Opener is catchy country rocker ‘The Rain’ which flows beautifully and could easily be a stadium rocker which is followed by a real foot tapper ‘Jenny Jenny’ with it’s wonderful loose feel and this opening 1,2,3 finishes with one of the prime examples of his Springsteen style the emotive, slow burning rock ballad ‘Restless’.
Elsewhere the spirit of Canvey Island/Dr. Feelgood is all over R & B rocker ‘Riding In Another Man’s Car’ and their are lashings of Hammond organ adding body to the heavy blues rock of ‘So Wrong’.
Two of my favourites are ‘Better Stay Home’ a cool, groove packed party song with lyrics dropping the names of Elvis and Robert Johnson and gentle folky/country ballad ‘Ride the Sun’ with its delicate guitar picking and wonderfully rich vocals this again reminds me of The Boss at his best.
A wonderful collection of tunes a little country a little rock and roll and more than an echo of Mr Springsteen.

Andrew Lock


CASSIE TAYLOR
OUT OF MY MIND
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The daughter of blues legend Otis Taylor arrives with her debut solo album full of original material which showcases her superb songwriting over several musical genres.
Opener 'Ol' Mama Dean (Part 1)' and Cassie's rich, crystal clear vocals impress from the start in this blues/gospel crossover, this is followed by 'Ol' Mama Dean (Part 2)' which carries on the story with the addition of extra keyboards, vocal effects and wailing lead guitar.
Elsewhere on this delight of an album we have 'Spare Some Love' a soulful blues ballad, it's combination of powerful vocal delivery and sublime low-key blues lead guitar reminiscent of the first Beth Hart/Joe Bonamassa collaborative album while Cassie shows a 'Motown' edge on the funky, upbeat title track 'Out Of My Mind'.
Not a dull moment on this very well played and produced album and although every track deserves a mention I will leave some surprises for those of you who give it a go and just mention a couple of my personal favourites, the 'Otis Redding'/'Sam Cooke' like soul ballad 'Lay My Head On Your Pillow' and complete with it's' Radar Love' style guitar riff blues rocker 'No No'.
Another contender for my albums of the year I think.

Andrew Lock


CHEMICAL MOJO
JUST THE TIP (EP)
(2015)

4 numbers on this EP all with a bit of an epic feel, the large Sabbath influence to their music obvious but this is also a touch of grunge to the sound at times.
‘Sun Junkies’ is slow and wonderfully heavy with a Sabbath/Soundgarden feel and a throbbing main riff, ‘Open up the Sky’ starts with a touch of Eastern guitar magic to it’s ominous atmospheric intro that lasts for a couple of minutes without outstaying its welcome, then time to rock with the slightly Ozzy tinged vocals, crashing drum work and rocking guitar.
‘After the Fall’ has a real grunge crossed with classic rock sound and a hint of ‘Nirvana’ and finally ‘Got the Taste’ is back in Black Sabbath territory, a fast rocker with a chilled out section towards the end that works really well.
Impressive EP.

Andrew Lock


CHERRY LEE MEWIS
HEARD IT HERE FIRST
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN MAY/JUNE EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is a delightful slab of blues tunes tinged with country, soul and jazz, a mixed style that Cherry has made her own, her first two albums set a high standard but this latest release has managed to surpass them both.
A short (but oh so sweet) album running just over half an hour, but forget the length and feel the quality, I would rather have 32 minutes of musical excellence than a 70 min album with excess 'filler' material which can often distract from the quality.
Highlights include opening number 'Man Overboard' which explodes into life with it's brisk country/rock and roll beat with Cherry on top sassy form, the blues/jazz 'soaked in the Mississippi' sounds of 'Going Down (To Memphis Tennessee)', the foot tapping 'He Wants More' which even throws in Andrews Sisters like backing vocals, and the traditional blues vibe of 'On Loan'.
The recording is top quality, fresh sounding and vibrant, her band is up there with the best and Cherry is real star quality both on record and on stage, she has a powerful voice full of attitude/soul and along with the other main writer in the band Max Millagan has composed a lyrically superb selection of material.
The album concludes in chilled out reflective mood with the atmospheric end of the day sounds of 'Sittin' On the Porch' a solo instrumental by Nick Slater on resonator guitar and finally with Cherry's voice brim full of emotion 'Legend' a moving tribute to her recently passed away Grandfather.
Simply put, an outstanding album by an incredible young talent.

Andrew Lock


CHRIS BEVINGTON AND FRIENDS
CHRIS BEVINGTON AND FRIENDS
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

An array of artists support bass player extraordinaire Chris Bevington on this release which is a collection of his favourite blues tracks, top quality musicianship all around and both lead vocalists/guitarists Jim Kirkpatrick and Scott Ralph do particularly sterling work.
Standouts for me are the rock and roll/blues of Walter Trout's (get well soon) 'She's Out There Somewhere', Kenny Wayne Shepherd's 'Was' with its bluegrass style opening with a little banjo which turns into a straight ahead blues rocker and the groove laden, funky 'I Don't Need No Doctor' which includes beautiful backing vocals by Sarah Miller'.
Also included is a cracking version of blues classic 'Crossroads' with standout layered vocals by Scott and Sarah and the lead guitar work by the former (of course such an integral part of this tune) is smoking hot.
This album closes with the most up-beat number on the set the rock-a-billy/rock and roll of 'Party Right Here' which does just what it says on the tin in true Jerry Lee Lewis fashion.
Quality musicianship throughout and a wonderfully produced album.

Andrew Lock


COLIN JAMES
BLUE HIGHWAYS
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Canadian blues guitarist/vocalist Colin here pays tribute to a multitude of his blues idols and you feel his love for these guys and their music in each and every note and for any lovers of the blues masters it is well worth a listen.
Both an explosive guitar player who handles all blues styles with aplomb and a strong vocalist Colin and his top notch band do a fab job throughout.
It starts in rip roaring fashion with the explosive Freddie King number ‘Boggie Funk’, dosed with harmonica, frantic drum work and quality hammond organ and of course plenty of knockout guitar work this keeps up an incredible pace, in contrast Peter Greens (Fleetwood Mac) ‘Watch Out’ is a more steady affair, on the soulful side with an infectious groove.
I know this is a really good album as looking at my review notes most tracks have the word highlight written against them, including a touch of the Muddy Waters magic on ‘Gypsy Woman’ with it’s mournful harmonica and the most laid back track of the album a soulful performance of Otis Redding’s ‘Don’t Miss Your Water’ which just drips emotion.
The disc closes by going way way back with a version of the Robert Johnson number ‘Last Fair Deal’ a wonderful performance and the more sparse approach retains a lot of the feel of the original.
If you love the blues this is for you (and possibly even if you just like the blues a little !) and among other delights on the album are renditions of songs by the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Buddy Guy, Jimmy Reed and more.

Andrew Lock


DANNY BRYANT
BIG (LIVE IN EUROPE)
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A fabulous concept by Danny, one of the UK’s finest blues rockers playing a series of shows with a full on big band section (horns and all) which add such a full on rich sound to proceedings and a wonderfully packaged 2 disc set it is as well full of stylish black and white photography from the gigs.
The horn section make an early appearance on rousing opener ‘Temperature Rising’ mixing so well with Danny’s electrifying lead guitar and vocal delivery.
‘Prisoner of the Blues’ has a heavy back beat, powerful vocals and the solid sounds of a Hammond organ are a real bonus, I love the Steamroller Blues like riff of the down and dirty ‘Holding All The Cards’ and ‘Greenwood 31’ is a full on rocker with just a touch of Sabbath’s Paranoid to the main guitar riff.
It is back to blues roots on the traditional hard luck tale of ‘Groaning The Blues’ originally by Otis Rush and even further back in blues history for the albums other cover a pounding, heavy take on Robert Johnson’s ‘Stop Breaking Down’.
Elsewhere we have the happy-go-lucky instrumental ‘On The Rocks’ with its bright, zippy guitar work and the keyboard player working overtime and what could well be a nod to blues era Zeppelin (who in turn of course gave plenty of nods to classic blues artists) on the slow burning ‘As The Years Go Passing By’.
‘Take Me Higher’ is possibly the heaviest piece in the set and while it’s lyrics have a touch of gospel the music has more than a touch of rock and roll and ‘Unchained’ is as cool as you like with it’s short guitar riff echoing Bryan Ferry’s The ‘In’ Crowd while the the bass work is sublime.
The heartfelt ballad ‘Painkiller’ is a number of two half’s, first gentle acoustic guitar/vocals with laid back piano at times assisted by those wonderful horn sounds before the tempo rises and the blistering lead solo kicks in and finally the audience go crazy.
Quite different from the recent live blues albums I have heard with that full big band sound adding extra dimension.

Andrew Lock


DAN REED NETWORK
DIVIDED (RADIO SINGLE)
(2016)

Great hook, a classic rock riff with a fab groove running throughout while still retaining that element of funk that was a trademark of his work towards the end of the 1980’s.
The chorus is delightfully both radio and stadium friendly in the good old Bob Jovi/Europe etc way and has the feel of a fist pumping anthem about it and love the subtle tinkling keyboard work in the background and the effect driven guitar solo while Dan’s voice is as strong as ever.
For me a well crafted mix of classic rock, funk rock and catchy AOR and a bit of a winner.

Andrew Lock


THE DANA GAYOR BAND
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
(2015)

A band consisting of session musicians so plenty of quality playing but for me as many fillers as quality numbers but they do mix the styles well which include blues, country and southern rock.
Opener ‘Power to the People’ is one of those numbers that needs a little more spark, a fairly groovy beat and a good message though.
Second track is much more like it and ‘Black Moon’ is a solid rocker with a southern feel, quality slide guitar and cool lyrics.
Other standouts include ‘Ghost Train’ with it’s On the Road Again riff (aways a sucker for that) and it’s spooky lyrics work well, and ‘Rockabilly Billionaire’ with it’s good time feel, full of rock and roll piano and sizzling guitar.
Possibly my favourite on the album is ‘The damage Is Done’ which makes great use of blues scales and is a fab dose of walking blues with a knockout riff.
If all the tracks had the quality of some of the above could be a cracker but a few fall short of the mark but at its best good stuff.

Andrew Lock


DAVE DUQUEMIN
YOU & ME BABE
(2017)

Dave is well known on the local (Leamington Spa area) live music circuit as a fine musician, a wonderful character and a genuinely nice guy who is really supportive of other local artists and the music scene in general.
He shows plenty of versatility as reggae, ska, country and rock all make an appearance on this album which apart from a very special guest in Ocean Colour Scene’s Dan Sealey on the title track is very much a one man labour of love.
That mentioned title track ‘You & Me Babe’ has plenty of smooth, cool reggae rhythms, ‘What Used To Be’ is on the dreamy, bluesy side, reminds me a little of later Clapton with a brace of crisp guitar solos and for us rockers ‘Hurricane’ is a stylish foot tapper, full of atmosphere with a cool edge and ‘The Clazz’ is a slice of driving ZZ Top style blues rock.
The sounds of ska are all over the brisk, catchy ‘Teenage Years’, ‘No Life At All’ is a quality pop-rocker with shades of Bowie and one of my standouts is the slow burning, rich country style ballad ‘Sounds of The Wheels’ which is wonderfully sad in that glorious Roy Orbison style.
Brim full of top quality musicianship and songwriting and I do like how Dave changes his vocal style to suit particular numbers, a solid collection of fine music.

Andrew Lock


DEAD OF NIGHT
IN SEARCH OF ANCIENT MAGIC
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

For me a flawless example of the female voiced symphonic rock genre and a home based band to boot, which shows along with the great work of Winter In Eden that we in the UK can shine bright in the field.
Epic, melodic and powerful with moments of exquisite beauty, plenty of light and shade, full of atmosphere and dramatics this ticks all the boxes of the genre.
The production is wonderfully clear so you do not miss a single word of Briony’s wonderful vocal performance, the keyboard work is a delight throughout while the guitar and rhythm section are ready to rock it up when required..
This is some achievement for only the bands 2nd album and style wise along with the expected nods to the likes of Nightwish I also hear touches of Mostly Autumn, Touchstone and even a little Blackmore’s Night.
The heavier numbers with a little of that Nightwish style include opener ‘One Night Holy’ which after a scene setting spoken intro (reminiscent of Touchstones classic Wintercoast) breaks into a riff driven, charging rocker, ’Child of Wolves’ which adds dashes of choral sounds and sprightly keyboards to the riffs and ‘’The Old Straight Track’ the heaviest rocker on the album but with a wonderfully catchy chorus.
I hear a large touch of Mostly Autumn on the beautiful, epic ballad ‘Hiraeth’, the zippy, slightly quirky (in a good way!) rocker ‘Michael Faraday’ reminds me a little of classic Touchstone while ‘If I Would Be King’ has the rich medieval sound of classic Blackmore’s Night especially in the intro and chorus.
The album closes in style with two killer tracks ‘Across the East Riding’ which moves on from its gentle keyboard intro into a rousing rocker with another fab chorus which just leaves us with ‘The Other Side of the Rain’ starting with bags of atmosphere with the sound of pouring rain and thunder (along the lines of Black Sabbath’s iconic signature tune) it transforms into a supreme symphonic rock power ballad and with the return of the spoken word style from track one the opening and closing numbers bookend this astonishing album perfectly.
A stunning piece of work.

Andrew Lock


Del Bromham
Nine Yards
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Founder member of Stray Del Bromham delivers an album of new original blues numbers covering various styles which show off his multi-talented versatility, he plays guitar, bass and keyboards as well as lead vocal duties and he has also roped in the magnificent Cherry Lee Mewis to sing backing vocals and to contribute even more to the albums stand out number.
The album kicks off with his ode to Jack Daniels (man and whisky) 'The Ballad of JD' with it's touch of country and possibly the Small Faces and Del is not afraid to mix the styles 'Everybody Has To Sing the Blues' has a southern rock edge, 'Words' is a blues stomper and that Hendrix moment (every blues album has one!) is 'You Don't Know How I Feel' reminiscent of Jimi's more bright, breezy, flowing output and Del puts the guitar effect pedal to good use.
'Smiling Face' is a very personal number for Del and listening/reading the words and taking in what they mean it is very easy to feel the eyes moisten, a really emotional piece of music and I love the line "Looked out the window to see a Simpsons' sky".
Cherry Lee Mewis really adds something to this album and for me the strongest number is her duet with Del on 'What Comes Around' with it's killer guitar riff and harmonica work, and you can really sense the chemistry between them in this slab of deep south style, swap blues and I love some of the slide guitar work.
It closes in style in ZZ Top territory with 'Catch You When You Fall' a scorching closer to a more than impressive album.

Andrew Lock


DERECHO
15 DEGREES FROM REALITY EP
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is a cracker of an EP from four piece indie rock band Derecho who have a star up front on vocals in Jo Ash, part Debbie Harry part Kate Bush with possibly a touch of Toyah and Lene Lovich for good measure, I have seen them live twice at local music festivals and they have always been a highlight.
All four tracks quite different and first up ‘Autumn In Amber’ has that overall Blondie feel, an incessant, hypnotic driving beat and catchy chorus followed by the slightly heavier in feel ‘December 2nd’, with plenty of crashing drums and a strong main guitar riff this has a punk edge running through it along with impressive high notes from Jo.
The pace changes on ‘Nowhere Land’ laid-back and dreamy in style, keyboard heavy (also thanks to Jo) and for me very much in Kate Bush territory.
For the closing track it is back on the throttle with ‘Summer Rain (Storm Remix)’, the drum work at the start has an Eton Rifles feel and again the Blondie sound is evident, full of verve with an addictive chorus and a cracking guitar solo this for me is the standout track.
Full of energy and great numbers, a band to keep an eye on both in the studio and live.

Andrew Lock


DICK LEMASTERS
ONE BIRD, TWO STONES
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Hailing from Texas you expect and get the influences of the likes of ZZ Top throughout this crisp sounding album of blue collar blues with a little country thrown in for good measure.
Opener ‘Big Ol’ Buick’ has that early ZZ Top feel as well as a touch of the classic ‘Radar Love’ (amazed how many times that song’s classic sound is referenced).
The album is a pretty even mix of up-tempo and laid back numbers and the slower paced standouts are ‘River Blues’ with its quality vocal harmonies and lonesome guitar work and the campfire country of ‘Held on too Long’ with its haunting harmonica work in the background.
Of the rockers the slightly fuzzy guitar sound works well on ‘Pestilence & Locusts’ and ‘Power in the Snake’ is a treat for guitar lovers throwing in riffs from many classic rockers including ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ and ‘The Green Manalishi (with the two prong crown)’.
Possibly my standout on the album is another treat for 6 string lovers, the laid back blues of ‘Need Your Lovin,’ Baby’ with exquisite guitar picking throughout and emotional vocals with Dick really singing from the heart.
This self released album comes across as a real labour of love.

Andrew Lock


EASTWOOD HAZE
COMMON DEDICATION
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A blues/classic rock band from Austria with plenty of swagger and a tough edge to their sound as well as deep, intelligent lyrics which remind me a little of the hard hitting writing style of the Manic Street Preachers.
Highlights include ‘Graveyard Blues’ with its touch of funk mixed with the hot blues sound and the early ZZ Top style groove laden ‘Where The Cold River Flows’.
’Disappointed’ starts in prog rock style and in a surprise twist the chorus’s moves into Beastie Boys party tune territory while there is also a touch of subtle laid back atmospheric guitar picking in this original mix-up of a number.
‘Run Little One’ is a stunning ballad with gentle piano work and strong emotive vocals which builds gradually to its equally emotive, explosive guitar solo.
For me the standout number is the hard rocking ‘The Preacher’ which sees the return of the funky side of the bands music, full of cool slide guitar work and equally cool lyrics (with power-packed vocal delivery to boot) of a Preacher walking on the wild side and when you add the atmospheric spoken parts and an incendiary guitar solo you have a real winner.

Andrew Lock


EBONY TOWER
The Magic Box PT 1 **EP**
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A band I first came across at the Cambridge Rock Festival in 2011, really hard to pigeon hole with their mix of styles but they sure have that something, they base their lyrics around Alice in Wonderland stories which gives them a distinctive quirky edge.
This four track EP is very diverse and all the better for it, opening track 'The Passing' has screeching lead guitar, a bit of a punk edge and reminds me a little of Breaking Glass era Hazel O'Conner and includes rocking guitar riffs in the middle section.
'The Labyrinth' is a slower paced, atmospheric, psychedelic, progressive rock number and 'LSD' is another track with a punky attitude, for me this one along the lines of early Blondie.
My favourite number is 'The Mirror' a laid back, silky smooth, dreamy soft rock number very easy on the ear and lead vocalist Zanda's performance really shines.
A really interesting top quality release by a band not afraid to experiment with styles and genres and with a sound and style all of there own.

Andrew Lock


EPICA
THE SOLACE SYSTEM (EP)
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Legendary Dutch symphonic metal band here with an EP of tracks left off 2016’s Holographic Principle album that the band thought were too good not to be heard (if these were left off the album must be a cracker!).
They seem to share a lot of trademarks with Nightwish as on opener and fast rocker ‘The Solace System’ grandiose with choral vocals at the start, sweeping and multi-layered with plenty of light and shade, rocking sections and softer parts and the vocals (growls) of Mark Jansen mix well with the wonderful tones of lead vocalist Simone Simons add a sizzling guitar solo and you have a great opener.
‘Fight Your Demons’ really races along and is full of drama, there is a gentle opening to ‘Architects Of Light’ followed by a triumphant fanfare then goes into what sounds like old style Ozzy intro music like chants and then settles into a mid paced powerful rocker.
‘Wheel Of Destiny’ mixes Judas Priest style classic rock with symphonic metal and with a change of style one of my standouts is ‘Immortal Melancholy’ a beautiful acoustic guitar and vocal ballad with soothing violin work and there is a hint of Blackmore’s Night style medieval magic at play as well.
They close with another rocker ‘Decoded Poetry’, and this one for the main part is melodic and flowing apart from two sections firstly a growly death metal style piece followed immediately by a classical style religious interlude with uplifting choral vocals, talk about light and shade!
Love the whole thing I am a big fan of the Symphonic metal scene and this ticks all the boxes.

Andrew Lock


ERIC BELL
EXILE
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The ex Thin Lizzy guitarist most famous for his work on breakthrough hit ‘Whisky In the Jar’ and who played on that great bands first three albums returns with this solo release which in his own words is “the music I like to play and listen to”.
ErIc performs everything bar the drums on this at times lyrically personal set of tunes which visit many stages of his life and as expected the guitar work is top draw throughout.
Plenty of the numbers have a blues touch such as rocker ‘Don’t Love Me No More’ it’s Stones influence coming out both in the music and moments of pure Jagger like high pitched vocals, also showing blues roots is the down and dirty political fare of ‘Vote For Me’.
Country rears it’s head on both love song ‘Deep In Your Heart’ and ‘Exile’ the latter title track one of the personal heartfelt parts of the album with it’s powerful words on feeling like having no home gelling perfectly with the delicate and downbeat guitar picking.
Different styles on the release include ‘Gotta Say Bye Bye’ which has a dreamy jazzy feel and his cover of classic rock and roller ‘Rip It Up’ delivered in rock-a-billy fashion and awash with a pure late 50’s vibe.
Closing the album is Eric’s fine tribute to fellow ex Lizzy guitarist and friend Gary Moore ‘Song For Gary’ it’s relaxing, steady back beat and spoken lyrics tell the story of their first meeting and ongoing friendship and includes a superb bluesy solo.
A fine, well put together album and I find something to admire in every number.

Andrew Lock


ERIC JOHNSON
ej
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

In my opinion this all acoustic album by Texan guitar supremo Eric Johnson fulfils his wish of fans having the effect of hearing him play in their own front room, with its warm intimate feel and wonderful production this is a chilled out listen indeed, the guitar work as expected of course is sublime (his piano/vocal work top quality as well).
There are a few cover versions on offer which all work really well including a brace of Simon and Garfunkel classics ‘Mrs. Robinson’ and ‘Scarborough Fair’, the former a zippy, breezy amazingly played guitar only instrumental the latter given a majestic, uplifting treatment with Eric on vocals and piano, very different from the original but works so well.
Also love his version of Hendrix album track ‘One Rainy Wish’, wonderfully spiritual, exotic and full of magic, reworked for guitar/piano/vocal he turns this one into an epic that just washes over the listener while the happy go lucky feel of Les Paul and Mary Ford number ‘The World is Waiting For the Sunrise’ with it’s country/bluegrass feel is another highlight.
Quality just as high on the original numbers including ‘Wrapped in a Cloud’ with its dreamy feel and lyrics that have the feel of a prime time Elton John number (particularly Your Song), ‘Fatherly Downs’ a folky number with at least one foot in Fairport Convention land and also with a folk touch ‘All things You Are’ which is delicate and flows wonderfully with Eric’s vocals and guitar picking in perfect harmony.
Musically a wonderful piece of work which you can put on, relax, close your eyes and imagine Eric is playing in your room just for you, which after all is what he was after all along.

Andrew Lock


E.Z.RIDERS
WISHING WELL
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This fab mix of blues and southern rock with a dash of country for good measure starts with the storming title track and ‘Wishing Well’ mixes a classic AC/DC style guitar riff, ZZ Top like vocals, plenty of bar room harmonica and tons of zippy guitar.
Southern rock sounds shine on the upbeat ‘The Firing Line’, the swagger of ‘Blown Away’ and powerful ballad ‘Heart and Soul’.
‘Just Like me’ has a down and dirty feel and throws in an epic Jimmy Page style riff and then with a change of pace and feel closes with a bright chilled out jazzy section.
One of the standouts ‘Twisted Mind’ is another that makes effective use of changes in style and tempo moving from a blues ballad, adding a touch of upbeat ska and finally we have a full blown blues rocker on our hands.
Closing with a groove filled rocker ‘Peace of Mind’ with its optimistic lyrics, the return of the harmonica and plenty of crisp guitar work this is a solid release with plenty of highlights.

Andrew Lock


FERAL GHOST - THIS IS LIFE (SINGLE)
(2016)

Starting with tranquil, flowing piano with angelic backing vocals behind (both of these elements play a big part throughout) this is a wonderful mix of great harmonies and fine musicianship maintaining an uplifting, bright vibe throughout.
Indie pop-rock in style for me (with possibly a polished American feel as well) it has a really radio friendly sound and builds in momentum beautifully, the crystal clear leads vocals of Danny Warwick are only enhanced by those wonderful backing harmonies of Chloe Hunter.

Andrew Lock


FESTE
FIRST FOLIO
(2014)

This the debut album from this multi influenced Californian rock outfit is split into two acts the first act for the most part short snappy numbers with the slightly more lengthy in act 2, but plenty of gems in both.
Musically for me inspired by many of the 1970's rock greats the album also has plenty of original touches and mixing the words of William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night) with the bands music on two occasions is for me an experiment that really works.
Act 1 bursts into life with 'Hollywoodland' which alternates between rockabilly style verses and a heavy rocking chorus, 'The Bad Man' has more of a groove with a hint of sleaze rock and 'Satisfaction Street' is a classic blues/rock workout with a traditional and strong main riff.
The first visit of the bards words appear on 'Come Away Death' an acoustic number with layered vocals which reminds me just a little of some of Metallica's slower numbers particularly 'The Unforgiven' and the acoustic vibe continues at the start of the closing track of act 1 'Annie' a truly haunting and beautiful number, which builds in intensity with powerful vocals and quality mandolin work.
Act 2 includes 'Black' full of shattering drum work and explosive riffs and one of the albums real rock outs with a touch of The Cult, this is followed (and really showing the albums diversity!) by the Santana like guitar work of 'Dancer from the Islands' a light breezy, flower power pop/rock type of sound and really catchy it is to.
The influences change to possibly Motley Crue and Van Halen on 'Sweating Bullets' and then again to The Doors on the down and dirty blues of 'The Mud' before the album closers with the 2nd appearance of that well known writer from Stratford Upon Avon on 'The Wind and the Rain' which is again acoustic based and this time maybe in medieval territory with just a smidgen of Blackmore's Night.
A really interesting album with such a lot to take in but well worth the ride.

Andrew lock


FISH
FISHHEADS CLUB LIVE **LIVE DVD)
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This special edition 2 disc set features performances from the Fishheads Club Live project, the idea started when himself, Frank Usher and Foss Paterson were reworking songs for the first Leamington Spa convention, they were playing around with them, changing the keys etc due to Fish's at the time throat issues. After the success and enjoyment of these acoustic sessions at the convention the decision was made to try this set up as a tour.
This release consists of two acoustic but quite different performances, the first recorded live in 2010 at the University of Derby and the second in 2012 in the big man's home studio in front of a handful of invited guests and while there is duplication of many of the tracks they often have a different feel.
The material covers a broad spectrum of his career, a splattering of Marillion classics, given complete makeovers of course, a good portion from his solo debut album and a selection form his other solo outings.
The Derby show is well recorded with plenty of wide full band/audience camera shots also close ups of the artists and quality audio, the crowd as usual at these types of Fish show are quiet and respectful during the numbers but then when the big man says "no talking during the songs" that is exactly (and quite rightly) what you get.
First up from the University show a challenging solo performance of 'Chocolate Frogs' proving straight off that the famous voice is working just fine and this is followed by a track always a standout at Fish shows 'State of Mind'.
The Marillion numbers are well chosen including a vibrant 'Slainthe Mhath' which is very emotional as performed in tribute to a recently departed friend, 'Punch and Judy' is made even more enjoyable by his introduction and on stage banter (when will he consider a full on stand up comedy show - would be a cracker), and of course the one-two hit of 'Kayleigh' and 'Lavender' are welcomed like old friends.
If I have a favourite from this show it is the beautiful version of 'A Gentleman's Excuse Me' with a wonderfully delicate keyboard intro by Foss, such a romantic number which just flows over you, another highlight must be 'The Company' complete with the big man's fairy dance !which has to be seen to be believed.
This show brought back many memories of the two shows I caught at Cox's Yard in Stratford, such a relaxed way to watch a gig and I gather also relaxing and fun to perform.
Disc 2 is a little different and even more intimate as recorded in two sessions at his home studio, in the introduction recorded separately Fish mentions the fact that this was a far more controlled environment with complete control of the acoustics and lighting and this added to the fact that many of the songs had been regularly perfected over the previous 18 months or so meant the performance was even more assured and polished than disc 1.
The studio used for these performances is very well lit and I must admit I thought I had a large CD collection until I noticed the racks of them around this room, it was also great fun to spot the memorabilia on show like the original artwork for the 'Vigil in a Wilderness of Mirrors' album and what looked like the original artwork for a portrait he used as a fan club Christmas card a few years back.
I was very impressed with the format of this disc with every performance having a separately recorded introduction which includes a wealth of info and memories of each track including how and why they were reworked for these shows.
One of the many highlights is a pumped up 'State of Mind' even more powerful than the Derby version with a stunning guitar display by Frank and Fish tells us that this his first solo single is a favourite set opener.
Another standout is the lyrically dark and dramatic 'Family Business' and he mentions having this follow the discs previous number, a completely new approach to the 'Fugazi' album classic 'Punch and Judy' as a balance, one looking at the macho side of a relationship and the other of course deals with domestic abuse.
The rarely played (before this tour anyway!) 'Jigsaw' is a heartfelt, emotionally packed delight with Fish explaining how it is a fans favourite due to it's rarity in being performed live during his time with Marillion and in his solo shows as difficult to sing live in it's original arrangement, but I am sure it is also a fan favourite because it is bloody good !
This is a collection that all Fish fans will love and anyone who went to any of these acoustic shows will treasure and I really hope as promised he returns to these kind of shows in the future (after of course the upcoming studio album tour!) as they really work, the three of them make a fantastic musical team and the fans enjoy them just as much as Fish and the guys seem to.

Andrew Lock


GOV'T MULE
SHOUT
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

What a fantastic, innovative idea this is with the band giving away a bonus CD of the whole album re-recorded with high profile special guest vocalists (also friends of the band) including Elvis Costello, Glenn Hughes and Myles Kennedy, the album itself is very strong with many different styles incorporated and this bonus disc really turns a should buy into a must buy album.
What I will call protest blues is the starting point of the album with 'World Boss' which has scorching lead guitar and just a hint of funk, 'No Reward' is down and dirty blues with a touch of the early ZZ Tops and 'Whisper In Your Soul' is atmospheric, has a fabulous steady drumbeat on the verses with also a touch of 'Dear Prudence' in the background riff.
This is one of those albums that deserves comments on every track as such a strong collection but writing a review not a novel so special mentions for the reggae influenced 'Scared To Live', the slow burning, cool blues of 'When the World Gets Small' with its echoes of 'Riders on the Storm' and the up-tempo sprightly rocker 'Funny Little Tragedy' a real foot tapper with a touch of heavy rockabilly and top bass work.
The bonus disc is just as good with many of the guests adding a new dimension to the numbers and my personal favourites are Elvis Costello adding a bit of indie style to 'Funny Little Tragedy', Dr. John adding his distinctive style to 'Stoop So Low' making this ZZ Top style number even more so and Grace Potter the only female vocalist on display adding her soulful, passionate vocals to 'Whisper In Your Soul'.
Even without the bonus disc Shout! is an album of outstanding quality, with it simply one of the releases of the year.

Andrew Lock


GOV'T MULE
THE BEST OF THE CAPRICORN YEARS (& RARITIES)
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Gov't Mule are new to my ears and what a discovery, a power packed American, three piece rock band with a southern rock edge formed in 1994 (with ties to The Allman Brothers Band), for me their sound includes a good dose of classic Lynyrd Skynyrd as well as traditional blues.
This double album is a compilation mixing studio and live recordings recorded for Capricorn Records and boy is it impressive, disc one opener 'Thorazine Shuffle' is a heavy, groovy number in the good old southern rock tradition, also from the first CD and recorded live like many of the tracks 'Soulshine' is a meaty ballad with plenty of keyboards while 'Blind Man in the Dark' is a power packed number making good use of distorted vocals and impressive pounding bass lines.
Other highlights in part one include a stunningly powerful take on the gospel blues number 'John the Revelator', full of heart and soul and possibly also fire and brimstone, and the first disc closes with the funky extended jam, 'Mule' with expanded parts for both guitar and keyboards.
Disc 2 is the home of the live epics, only 4 tracks but all clocking in at a lengthy running time, starting with 'Gambler's Roll' a slow blues work out with delicate keyboards and guitar work full of emotional intensity which climaxes with a crescendo of guitar shredding and a mournful vocal flourish, superb.
The rest of the second CD is made up of traditional blues with the Robert Johnson number '32-20 Blues' full of explosive lead guitar,a fabulous version of Jimi Hendrix instrumental 'Third Stone From the Sun' perfectly capturing and paying justice to the great mans work, and closing this impressive set in soulful fashion a stirring 'I Shall Return'.
So impressed with this album which has bought a new band to my attention, love both southern rock and the blues and this band tread both camps in spectacular fashion.

Andrew Lock


GRAHAM ELKS
DARK FEAR
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This instrumental album by guitarist extraordinaire Graham Elks combines rock out tracks with wonderfully mellow, chilled numbers all which fit nicely under the Classic Rock banner and Graham does the whole caboodle, playing, writing, producing etc.
Opener ‘Heavy Skies’ has plenty of fuzz on the guitar, chunky bass lines, a great beat and touches of Van Halen while ‘Stonehenge’ (No not that one !!!) is more of a Judas Priest style rocker with an amazingly fast solo by the man himself.
On the mellow side ‘Forest of Fire’ is wonderfully warm and relaxing with a hint of Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross and I see touches of Steve Hackett on ‘Cynical Times’ and yet another influence can be found on ‘Ride The Rocket’ with its Two Minutes to Midnight’ style riff.
There are so many different rock styles to listen to and admire on this album and he leaves the fastest style of all for the final number ‘Russian Roulette’ where he lets his fingers fly over the fretboard in with an impressive DragonForce like pace and energy.

Andrew Lock


GREG GOLDMAN
Cathexis
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This album by multi instrumentalist Greg Gouldman is full of fantastic grooves, for me the style is at times funk at others Latin style soft rock with plenty of pop melodies and smooth vocals including touches of Steely Dan and Santana here and there.
Opener 'Whole/Part' is a bright flowing number, 'Apropos' has a laid back dreamy summer jazz vibe while 'Drop Anchor' is for me the stand out number on the album, a high tempo pop/rocker which really gets the feet tapping.
There is plenty of top quality funky bass work on the chilled out but full of groove 'Recipe For Ruin', and 'Bargain Song' has a real West Coast Byrd's type thing going on.
An interesting collection of material from an obviously versatile musician, personally would loved to have seen what he would have done with a real rock workout, but maybe that is just me.

Andrew Lock


GUITAR RAY AND THE GAMBLERS
PHOTOGRAPH
(2014)

Boring bit over first!, I am passionate about gig photography and must say I have rarely seen better than the black and white cover photo and booklet images on this release, top draw.
Thankfully the photography is not the only thing top draw as this short but sweet album is one of the best blues releases I have heard in a while with not a wasted second.
‘Give it up’ gets the ball rolling in bass heavy, dirty blues fashion with its swamp/backwater lyrics of moonshine whiskey and rowdy times while ‘I’m Goin’, I’m Goin’ is slowed down travelling blues with gorgeous keyboard flourishes and haunting harp work as well as solid lead guitar.
‘She’s Mighty Fine’ is for me the albums standout moment with one of the best riffs I have heard in a long time, a a solid meaty rocker with a touch of fast AC/DC to it and echoes of our bearded friends from Texas (this really shows in the short voice effect part), sure to become a regular on my iPod.
Hear a little Chris Rea on a couple of the tracks particularly on the bright and crisp ‘Everybody Wants To Win’ which has a jazz feel and beautiful multi-voice backing harmonies and powerful ballad ‘You’re the One’ where the overall sound is embellished by a stylish string section.
‘Do the Dance’ has top quality Hammond organ and is a catchy, foot tapper with brass work and a little fuzzy guitar.
‘He Thinks of You’ has an exquisite lead guitar intro, a rich vocal performance that drips emotion and the number just drifts over you, a haunting piece of music.
As the title suggests ‘I Heard that Train Go By’ has a railroad blues feel but in a slow/dreamy fashion with of course the harp making the steam train whistle sounds to add atmosphere.
One of the delights about reviewing albums is finding a gem you may not otherwise have discovered and this for sure is one of those.

Andrew Lock


HAN
LAWLESS LOCAL HEROES
(2015)

Han is a dutch singer/guitarist with many obviously skills in both departments but for me this album is a little patchy and a little too much of a blend of all styles.
On the positive side I love the Gimme Shelter tinged intro riff on ‘Stay Tonight’ the number then turns into a cleverly constructed progressive rock number with plenty of light and shade and effective female backing vocals.
Many of my favourites on the album are at the more prog rock end of his musical spectrum including the dreamy ‘The Two of Us’ and the cinematic ‘The Starry Night’ which has the bonus of chilled flute sounds and seems to give a nod to Jefferson Airplane and possibly Rainbow.
‘Down’ is nicely flowing number and the work of wonderful backing vocalist Esther Ladiges on this track is quite exquisite and Hans guitar is subtle but effective.
It is on some of the rockier material that it falls a little short for me with one home goal being the little too sleazy, and totally un pc ‘Little Stripper Girl’ which would even have Motley Crue blushing! (well perhaps not !!).
Has its moments to shine but also for me has a few too many so-so numbers that do not work.

Andrew Lock


Harlan Flo
Strategy
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN JULY/AUGUST EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Harlan Flo hail from Chicago and their main strength is the way the vocals of Patrick Dugan and Amanda Riva work and gel together, they also are the bands guitarist's lead and rhythm respectively.
I find it impossible to pigeon hole the bands sound as it includes elements of pop, blues, rock and country, album opener 'Land of The Gardens' has a Woodstock style folk/rock vibe, 'Stumble Quick and Run' is at times close to B-52's pop/punk, 'Bittersweet' is perfect light country/rock while 'Shoot the Stars' is slide guitar blues.
The band have a fresh bright sound, the playing is excellent, vocals superb and this album is very easy on the ears.

Andrew Lock


Heather Findlay
The Phoenix Suite EP
(2011)
(PUBLISHED ON GRTR WEB SITE)

This is the much anticipated first solo material by ex Mostly Autumn vocalist Heather Findlay.
Titled The Phoenix Suite it is a five track EP of new material all written by Heather and produced and engineered by her former Mostly Autumn colleague Chris Johnson, who also performs on guitar, and vocals.
The striking sleeve artwork is from an original painting by accomplished artist Heather entitled 'Phoenix' and for the very special limited edition of 100 the original painting was cut into squares and used as the sleeve, Heather also included hand written track listings, signed the booklet individually and it arrived wrapped in black cellophane with a stamped wax seal - surely the definitive special edition.
The music is in the main a departure from her work with Mostly Autumn with for me only one number having echoes of that great band, first up 'Red Dust' which after a gentle intro turns into a powerful fast paced number with plenty of guitar work and a catchy chorus.
The strongest track for me is 'Phoenix' a true classic in the making, slow burning and haunting but with dramatic tempo changes, highlights in this number the subtle percussion work and an outstanding vocal performance by Heather.
'Cellophane' has an up-tempo quirky feel to it with excellent vocal harmonies and is a real foot tapper, next the track with at times a Mostly Autumn feel, 'Seven' a beautiful piece of music that really flows along with my favourite guitar riff on the EP, and finally the atmospheric 'Mona Lisa', which reminds me a little of possibly Shakespeare's Sisters darker moments.
I am really impressed with The Phoenix Suite and it is so obvious listening to it that Heather has put her heart and soul into this project, she has a top draw collection of musicians working alongside her, Heather's voice as always magnificent and Chris Johnson has done a fabulous production job, 'The Phoenix Suite' sounds fantastic from start to finish.
I am sure all mostly Autumn fans will buy this release and the quality is up there with that great band, I also recommend to anyone who likes quality rock music, one of the best female voices in British rock is well and truly back, I cannot wait to see The Phoenix come to life on the stage.

Andrew Lock


HER
REVOLUTION
(2016)

Not a dull moment to be found on this upbeat, fun and full of attitude collection of numbers by New York City born Her (born Monique Staffile) and a diverse selection of styles it is mixing classic rock, electronic music, pop rock and more and what a distinctive, versatile voice she has.
Opener and title track ‘Revolution’ after a laid back banjo and vocal start explodes into life in fairly heavy fashion with a huge anthem like chorus that for me has shades of Lady Gaga.
‘Crush’ is a sparkly pop rock corker with plenty of quirky keyboards and partly in Prince territory with a dash of No Doubt for good measure and another power packed chorus.
On ‘Give It To Mr’ she comes over with a little of the Cyndi Lauper’s at times and it also has a feel of the Offspring’s Pretty Fly For A White Guy’ with a few power chords adding an extra rocking element.
Love the bright acoustic guitar intro to ‘No Regrets’ which then turns into a rocking R & B number with some rap style vocals and she turns into a cool rocker with plenty of attitude on The Runaways/Go-Go’s like ‘Act Like You Know’.
There is a Southern Rock feel to the opening guitar work on ‘Only One’ which then goes into Alanis Morissette territory and she goes all sweet like Katie Melua on the intro to ‘Heaven Crashes Down’ before it turns into a full on power ballad.
To close it is back to the Cyndi Lauper style (helped by a vocal effect of come sort) on spirited punkish rocker ‘Mean Man’ with a bit of strong language thrown in.
Well worth giving a go and I think we may hear a lot more of Her and would imagine live she is a bit of a showman (lady!).

Andrew Lock

HIGH ROAD EASY
III
(2015)

This German rock duo has its roots very much in classic rock territory and is made up of vocalist Jan Knopf a guy with a powerful rock delivery and Sven Horlemann who plays all instruments bar the drums (guest drummers help out in this regard).
The press release states that a priority on this release was getting the backing/harmony vocals right and boy have they succeeded and it makes for a truly rich, high quality larger than life sound.
After a short low-key intro opener ‘Faster than the Speed of Light’ lives up to its name and has a touch of later Judas Priest about it (around the Turbo Lover time).
‘Higher Ground’ mixes the classic rock sound with AOR and is slick and polished while ‘My Life’ is a lot more up to date in approach with possibly a Killers/Muse vibe at times.
It’s lighters in the air time for quality rock ballad ‘Heaven Knows’ and back to where we started with full on classic rock for closer ‘This Is the Life’.
Plenty to admire on this release for lovers of classic rock and with the time spent on the vocals side this is also one of the best sounding albums I have had to review this year.

Andrew Lock


Indigenous Featuring Mato Nanji
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN JULY/AUGUST EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is my first taste of the music of Mato Nanji and his fellow musicians and what an impression it has made on me, this album of exceptional quality, and at times explosive blues tinged rock opens with 'Free Yourself, Free Your Mind' which not for the only time on the album manages to capture the power and passion of Hendrix at his best, both musically and lyrically.
Highlights everywhere on this release, 'Evreywhere I Go' is groove laden blues/country rock while 'Someone Like You' is a cracking combination of distorted guitar work and exceptional drum/percussion work, while the aptly named 'Storm' is right back in Hendrix territory this time for a breakneck speed instrumental work out with so much going on.
Other standouts 'The Way I Feel' with it's touches of early ZZ Top and yet another Jimmy moment with the Little Wing like 'Wake Up', the album closes in style with two crackers firstly a track battling with Storm for the fastest number on the album the rocking 'By My Side' and finally a real blues workout in 'When Tomorrow Comes'.
In closing, what a talent Mato Nanji is, a sensational guitar player and gifted vocalist, performing with a top quality band alongside him on an album full of passion and vitality if you like Hendrix, SRV, ZZ Top etc this is for you.

Andrew Lock


INGLORIOUS
UNAWARE (single)
(2016)

Powerful, full bloodied classic rock mixed with a touch of Metallica style lightning fast lead breaks, strong vocals thanks to the powerhouse voice of Nathan James (maybe a touch of Graham Bonnet era Rainbow in his style) for old rockers like myself this is the bees knees.
This has it all with added to the above a radio friendly catchy chorus and fabulous drum runs, unashamedly classic rock at it’s best.

Andrew Lock


Jama
Change Your World
(2010)

This is the debut album from Jama a band that includes the popular local musician Jon Lewis. The album has a delightful sunny warm feel to it and is full of original material with drummer Steve Laffy and bass player Bryan Paul on main song writing duties and one song composed by Jon.
The music has a distinct Caribbean feel with a hint of Reggae and there is a concept of peace, tolerance and love running throughout.
Just a few of the many highlights in this release are the opening track No Borders an up-tempo anti-war number with delightful guitar picking, the catchy Don’t Give it up and the chilled Paradise with haunting sax work by Ian Hill.
This is an excellently produced album performed by a group of outstanding musicians and I must also mention the fantastic album artwork and design.

Andrew Lock
Verdict – A summer treat


JAMES J TURNER
SPIRIT, SOUL & A HANDFUL OF MUD
(2016)

James who bills himself as a Pagan Protest singer has delivered a spirited upbeat album full of well written songs all delivered with plenty of heart, honesty and more than a handful of passion.
The spirit of folk music at it’s best is ever present and the impressive array of instruments used add a rich tapestry to the overall sound and a spirited Celtic edge to some tracks.
Also love the images and pictures some of James lyrics paint, the wonders of nature including mountains, forests and rivers and more but he can also show his political side and put his views across with intent.
‘Spirit, Soul & a Handful of Mud’ makes for a bright opening and title track and as with a lot on here the fab violin work really stands out, the number has an infectious groove a small touch of Hillbilly and also reminds me a little of some of ex Marillion singer Fish’s solo work.
‘Come With Me’ is a slab of uplifting country folk and full of positive energy, while more poignant is ‘Remember Me’ with it’s wonderful almost mournful chello work.
Two corkers are ‘Alive Inside’ with it’s Eastern style opening, solid acoustic guitar riffing, strong lead/harmony vocals and even a little chanting and ‘The Long Way Around’ possibly the rockiest track which at times comes over like early ELO when the classical instruments come to the fore.
We have a couple of belting drinking songs ‘Heart of Gold’ with it’s touch of Blackmore’s Night medieval magic and ‘My Way Back Home’ which is a great road song.
A change in style for ‘Take Your Soul’ which has a dreamy feel with again beautiful violin work and I hear just a touch of one of my all time favourite bands Mostly Autumn at times.
The most traditional folk number on the album ‘A Game’ sways wonderfully with the whistle work adding to the true folk feel and the album closes in Celtic rock style with ‘Never Again’ with it’s outstanding hook and knockout chorus while lyrically James gets his message across in style.
Quality throughout from a fine singer/songwriter who has real passion to match his talent.

Andrew Lock


JEFF FETTERMAN
BOTTLE FULL OF BLUES
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

John is a self-taught blues guitarist/vocalist of some 33 years’ experience who has been treading the live boards since the age of 16 and this release oozes with the confidence and swagger of this experience.
One of his musical influences is the late great Stevie Ray Vaughan and his love of the man’s music shines through on several numbers including loose and groovy opener ‘Paradise’ and ‘Angel Blue’ with its explosive lead guitar work.
Possibly my standout number is ‘Southbound’ (not a Lizzy cover!) with its pumped up Jerry Lee style keys, good dose of harmonica, crisp guitar work and spot on harmony backing vocals this is as good an example of rock and roll blues as you could wish for.
‘Devil’s Shuffle’ does just what it says on the tin and in good old Bert Weedon style this fun and frisky instrumental with its lighting fast guitar work taking the lead still gives the drums, harmonica and everything else a chance to shine.
We have a nod to early blues era Zeppelin on ‘Down & Out’ and ‘Wash My Blues Away’ has a breezy, summertime country rock vibe.
This impressive blues album really threw me a curve ball as it closes in unique fashion with what I can only describe as a funked up bass and drum jam called ‘T-Bone & the Ghost’.

Andrew Lock


JEFF FETTERMAN
9 MILES TO NOWHERE
(2017)

American blues rocker Jeff here with his follow up to 2015’s outstanding Bottle Full of Blues album which being so well received by myself and other reviewers made it a hard act to follow but follow it he has in some style with another set of quality blues rockers with several killer tracks.
‘Somebody Get Me A Doctor’ is a funky blues opener and as with several numbers on his previous release has some of the guitar style of his beloved Stevie Ray Vaughan on show and Jeff’s voice is just made to sing the blues.
‘Devil Knockin' At My Door’ has a Chris Rea feel about it both vocally and musically with an atmospheric Road To Hell style opening full of low down guitar and delicate symbol work and the piece has a wonderful deep guitar riff and cool lyrics full of blues staples like the devil, women, drink and of a course a train coming down the line, add to this a stunning lead guitar solo and top draw drum work and you have an absolute cracker.
There are two fine mini epics on the album, ‘Brand New Day’ starts with a touch of that Stones swagger before settling into cool, slowish ZZ Top territory (think Jesus Just Left Chicago etc) and he slows it right down on ‘Broken Hearted’ which is full of mournful guitar playing and packed to the brim with emotion has a fab feel and the rhythm section work is spot on, all that is missing is possibly a short harmonica solo but you can’t have everything and what we do have is stunning and just love the line “Don’t you worry baby I’ll get my loving from my guitar”
For those who love their blues blues mixed with a little rock and roll we have ‘Lover Man’ which fair jumps out of the speakers with its good time feel and shades of early Elvis and the like and ‘Bad Feeling’ with its Chuck Berry influence evident in both the verses and the guitar playing
‘Early Grave’ is groove packed and makes fine use of its On The Road Again (Canned Heat) style main riff and the set closes in wonderful mellow fashion with the soulful slow-dance blues of ‘These Arms of Mine’ which includes beautiful female backing vocals and sublime guitar playing.
For me even better than his last album which I must say was rather good as well.

Andrew Lock


JEFF HEALEY
HOLDING ON
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is released as a companion to last years well received posthumous album Heal My Soul with 5 unheard studio tracks from the same sessions and an unreleased 1999 live set from Norway.
Starting with the studio tracks the opening brace are both catchy blues rock numbers, ’Love Takes Time’ is guitar solo heavy (fab !!) and fair blasts out of the speakers with an infectious chorus followed by the lighter in vein ‘Every Other Guy’ still catchy and with a fine groove running throughout.
‘Dancing With the Monsters’ is in Hendrix territory along the lines of that great mans more laid back funky style recordings, ‘All that I Believe’ has a rocking main riff and a summer feel along with excellent vocal harmonies while the final studio number ‘CNIBlues’ is a short instrumental more in traditional blues territory and full of intricate guitar picking.
Highlights of the live show include for me one of his best original numbers the sparky ‘My Little Girl’ with a fabulous guitar meltdown at the end and his explosive take on Robert Johnson classic ‘Dust My Broom’.
Also standing out is his fun medley of oldie covers ‘Stuck In the Middle With You/Tequila’ and his heavy take on the Beatles at their most bluesy for a down and dirty ‘Yer Blues’ is a corker.
He takes no prisoners at the end of the show with two cracking Healey original blues rockers both chock full of lighting fast solos ‘Holding On’ and the awesome ‘See the Light’ which makes for a cracking set closer.
Fab album and just sad that it reminds you what a talent we blues lovers lost at such an early age.

Andrew Lock


JOE LOUIS WALKER
EVERYBODY WANTS A PIECE
(2015)

An award winning blues artist who injects his music with plenty of gospel, a touch of funk and soul with at times a fresh modern twist.
Plenty of older influences on show with rocker ‘Do I Love Her’ having a bit of a Free/Bad Company vibe while ‘Buzz On You’ is a good time rock and roller which oozes Jerry Lee style boogie piano and Scotty Morre style lead guitar breaks.
‘Black & Blue’ is a little more modern in approach starting with U2 style guitar and almost becoming an epic power rock ballad and strangely I hear a little of the main guitar part on the Fish classic Cliche in the mix.
Quite like the quirky ‘Witchcraft’ with it’s Voodoo lyrics and his love of gospel music is to the fore on the lengthy instrumental ‘Gospel Blues’ which musically reminds me of the all time classic Need Your Love So Bad and is a superb guitar work out for Joe and the gospel feel also shines through on ‘Wade In the Water’.
For me the cleverest number on the album is ‘Man of Many Words’ which appears to be a re-writing and re-imagining of Otis Redding classic Hard To Handle and the all new lyrics fit in a treat.
The album bows out with two rockers ‘Young Girls Blues’, with more Jerry Lee piano and finally ’35 Years’ with what sounds like a standup bass adding a rock-a-billy touch.
A good solid album.

Andrew Lock


JOHNNY WINTER
FIRST WINTER
(2016 REISSUE OF 1969 RELEASE)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Another of the recent spate of blues releases and the surprising thing about this one is that for somebody so associated with the blues and although their are blues moments this on the whole veers away from the genre.
This dates back to 1969 and is an interesting look at Johnny’s early years containing originals and covers with the covers often given a new arrangement by Mr Winter.
It is a lively start with the country/rock and roll of ‘Bad News’ with a good dose of harmonica and impressive piano work with a slight Buddy Holly feel about it while one of the standouts ‘Easy Lovin' Girl’ has a 1960’s pop feel and possibly a touch of the Doors quirkier pop material and includes a fantastic James Brown style screech.
‘Birds Can’t Row Boats’ believe it or not has a Byrds and possibly Dylan sound and is a sugar coated, psychedelic delight with an Eastern vibe while ‘Coming Up Fast Parts 1 and 2’ are not joking as they keep up some pace with fuzzed up bass and a soulful feel with again a touch of the James Browns.
‘Parchment Farm’ is one of those that does have a blues feel along with a funky edge, a catchy number with effective keyboards behind the vocal/guitar work.
The only number out of place (maybe it was originally released at that time year) is the sad Xmas tune ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’ (love christmas songs and this is fine but for me they are better on a Christmas themed album).
A surprising album by the blues legend with plenty of interesting material and a must have for Johnny Winter fans.

Andrew Lock


THE JOKERS
Rock 'N' Roll Is Alive
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The spirit of early AC/DC is very much alive on this album which is full of feel good numbers by a band who really know how to rock, an unfussy album that really gets the toes tapping and vocalist Wane Parry has a lot of the style and power of the late great Bon Scott with perfect pipes for rock and roll.
Along with the AC/DC style riffs the album also has touches of blues and southern rock all blended together to make that difficult second album look rather easy.
Their AC/DC style comes over on the rock and roll blues of album opener 'Silver City' and the stadium style rocker 'Let it Rock' the latter with also a Def Leppard feel to it while possibly another of the bands influences Motley Crue comes over on sleaze rocker 'Night Driver'.
The band show a polished side on the first single taken from the album 'Radio', with its smooth flowing American feel and great hook, and there is a touch of Skynyrd style southern rock to 'Find My Way Home' and finally on raucous album closer 'Dr Rock Head' (a Doctor to rival the Crue's Dr Feelgood!) they show their zany sense of humour.
Upbeat, fun, honest rock and roll.

Andrew Lock


KIM SEVIOUR
RECOVERY IS LEARNING
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Having been a huge admirer of her body of work with the mighty Touchstone I was sad when Kim called it a day with them but so pleased that she is back with such a strong debut solo album.
Recorded and produced by one of modern progs leading lights John Mitchell who also co wrote the album with Kim (and wonderful writing it is) this is a stunning collection, the production is amazing and this may well be very hard to beat for my album of the year.
While still giving the occasional nod to Touchstone it is great to see her spread her wings with the kind of material that so suits her and the whole thing has a fresh, modern prog feel and that voice is just stunning.
‘Chiasma’ kicks things off in epic style with a powerful, multi-layered opening, a laid back, richly textured number full of tinkling keyboards, rocking guitar and wonderful crystal clear vocals followed by ‘Call To Action’, which has a meaty classic rock style riff, plenty of light and shade and a beautifully subtle piano and lead guitar section and Kim’s voice really soars on this one.
Highlights include ‘Connect’ with its driving keyboard led riff, beautifully flowing and delicate with a warm dreamy feel, the tranquil ‘Faberge’ a gorgeous melody that soars with angelic vocals and a Brian May style guitar solo and bringing back those Touchstone memories charging rocker ‘The Dive’.
Elsewhere prog rock meets folk rock on the bright, zippy and up-lifting ’Mother Wisdom’ and ‘Where She Sleeps’ is a powerful yet delicate ballad that showcases Kim’s vocals including amazing high notes and we have more of that sublime, subtle piano work.
Closer (and my favourite) ‘Morning Of The Soul’ I am not ashamed to say brought tears to my eyes, peaceful almost spiritual, this is heart warming and soul lifting stuff with the most exquisite melodies with again that light and shade here with the addition of an effective spoken section.
Just about the perfect debut album (as good a debut as I have ever heard for sure), wonderful vocals and song writing, the most beautiful melodies and for me an album that really lifts the soul.
A 10/10 if there ever was one.

Andrew Lock


KRISTY GALLACHER
Spinning Plates
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Kristy Gallacher is a singer/songwriter hailing from Coventry and this her second full length album is a real delight, she writes clever thought provoking at times emotional at other times hard hitting lyrics has a unique vocal style and is an accomplished guitarist.
Opening track 'Quicksand' is a folk/county foot tapper with the addition of superb violin work and a delightfully catchy chorus and makes a perfect choice to pull you into the album,'Spinning Plates' the title track has more of a jazzy feel with beautiful vocal harmonies and subdued guitar work.
The rockiest number on the album 'Annie Said', has powerful lyrics and a quality banjo performance, while my personal favourites are the heartfelt 'Beautiful Bouquet', the heartbreaking and at times lyrically dark 'Cut and Run' with it's at times almost gospel/spiritual backing vocals and the breezy, uplifting 'Fending off The Frost' for me my track of the year so far.
Kristy has chosen the perfect number to close this collection 'Until Then' which begins with the line "So I guess that's it", the number is a classy gently paced number while its lyrics and overall feel pull off the trick of seeming both sad and happy at the same time.
A stunner of an album from I truly believe one of the county's finest singer/song writers, do not get fooled if you see her tagged as folk because while there are folk elements to her music she is so much more than that, her lyrics are contemporary, emotive and at times really powerful, for me she is a true star in the making, catch her live if you can, she has already performed in front of artists the calibre of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood and opened for Elton John.

Andrew Lock


Kristy Gallacher
Spinning Plates
(2012)
(EXTENDED REVIEW)

This album is such a step up from Kristy’s debut and her EP releases and they were all excellent, the recording and production is top quality, every word of her fabulous lyrics as clear as a cloud free winters night and the CD sleeve design and photography stylish and classy.
The band she has chosen to play with on this recording is top draw and I especially love the violin work of Lisa Nowak which sweeps and echos through the album.
Nine tracks in total and not a filler in sight and while it falls into the Folk category, anyone who loves Kristy's music will tell you there is far more to her than that, her lyrics are contemporary and she is never afraid of throwing different styles into her music.
Not a dull moment on this album and opener 'Quicksand' a foot tapping, rolling, folk/county style tune with plenty of violin, a catchy chorus and an effective vocal effect section is one of the standouts. 'Spinning Plates' the title track itself is another, a jazzy number with excellent vocal harmonies and subdued guitar work.
Possible the best track on the album is 'Beautiful Bouquet' previously released on one of Kristy's EP releases, this re-worked version is a cracker, the vocals sound like she could be in the same room as the listener while the guitar picking and violin work is a delight, a gem of a number and of course with its heart wrenching lyrics always a live favourite.
Another contender for best track on the album is 'Fending Off the Frost' a light and breezy uplifting number with stunning percussion work while the rockiest track on the album is 'Annie Said' with such powerful lyrics, its uptempo pace which includes top quality banjo work make it a real foot tapper.
The albums beautiful ballad moment is 'Cut and Run' and drop dead gorgeous it is as well with its almost gospel/spiritual like backing harmony vocals at times.
The album closes with 'Until Then' a track which is perfect for the job with lines like "So I guess that's it" and is a classy mid paced gentle number with lyrics that seem to be both sad and positive at the same time.
A superb album on every level, lyrically, musically, artistically, full of melody and top quality song writing by an artist that deserves all the success in the world,

Andrew Lock


Kristy Gallacher
The Game
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Following her 2012 album 'Spinning Plates' (my album of the year) was never going to be an easy task for Kristy but then as she is among the hardest working singer/songwriters around who deals with every aspect of her career not being easy was never going to be an issue.
This another gem of a release is full of the well constructed, beautifully performed pieces of music those of us in the know about this artist have grown to love, unlike 'Spinning Plates' I have yet to decide my killer track, on that album it was my track of the year 'Fending off the Frost' but on this collection I have a few contenders.
For me one of the impressive aspects of this album is the use of Kristy's layered vocals to produce a truly rich tapestry of sound while another highlight is the haunting violin work of Lisa Nowak, the other artists on display are Karen Milne on the drums and the distinctive banjo work of Dan Gascoigne.
Those contenders for my track of the album include sprightly opener 'Sweet Redemption' with it's superbly constructed chorus, the exceptionally fast paced 'Blood' with Kristy's lighting fast guitar picking to the fore and the musically jazzy, 'happy go lucky' feel of 'Do Or Die'.
'Dark Hours' and 'Dreams' both for me move effectively away from the more traditional time signatures, the former with the addition of that haunting violin work.
Album closer and another possible favourite of mine the laid back 'Reinventing The Wheel' continues the trend of Kristy knowing exactly the perfect number to close with, such a warm sound with a real glow which is helped by the soothing, crackling sounds of a vinyl record being set up at the start and close.
So another corker from still in my opinion one of the best singer/songwriters out there, full of well crafted numbers that for me defy genre and another release that ticks all the boxes, vocals and guitar work sublime, backing musicians top quality, song writing of the highest order and recording quality clear as a bell.

Andrew Lock


KRISSY MATTHEWS
LIVE AT FREAK VALLEY
(2016)

Oxford born Krissy’s first live album this was recorded at a German Festival in 2016 and there are three bonus tracks from another 2016 German show.
The three piece outfit with Krissy on guitar and vocals certainly deliver on this collection of original blues material with for me a few touches of that early Black Sabbath sound and a couple of unusual covers.
‘Feeling For the Blues’ is a clever retort to those that question his ability to play the blues at such a young age and as well as oodles of extended lead guitar is the first glimpse of a little of that Sabbath doom laden sound to both the bass and guitar.
Other highlights include the slow blues of ‘I’ve Been Searching’ with its heavy riff and solid backbeat, his epic cover of ‘Searching the Desert For the Blues’ (Blind Willie Mctell) where the tight bass lines keep the whole thing on track while Krissy switches between exquisite low key guitar work and explosive lead runs.
Another epic and another highlight is ‘The Soul Will Never Die’ its emotional story recounting Krissy’s meeting with the iconic B.B.King, starting with an impressive opening lead guitar salvo this has it all, groovy bass, tight drum work and plenty of red hot guitar.
He gives his all on an energetic version of Hendrix classic ‘Freedom’ which incorporates solid backing vocals along with the expected and delivered guitar pyrotechnics.
Bonus tracks include the funky, shuffle feel of ‘Hit the Rock’ the tale of an on tour car accident and ‘Roadsick Blues’ where the band have a ball on this fun number that mixes blues and country with a dose of zippy harmonica.
Yet another example of the fab youthful British blues talent out there.

Andrew Lock


KYNESKA
SUNRISE ON THE MOON (single)
(2014)

Three piece all sister hard rockers Emerald Sky now renamed as Kyneska have come up with something very special with their debut single ‘Sunrise On the Moon’.
A beautiful at times haunting piece of music, full of atmosphere, it flows wonderfully and has more of a progressive rock tinge than the harder edged Emerald Sky material.
The number has everything going for it, flawless lead vocals with equally impressive backing harmonies, sublime at times subtle lead guitar, delicate keyboards and the drum work powerful without drowning out everything else and the whole piece has a slight air of mystery.
In style it at times reminds me of one of my favourite bands Mostly Autumn especially some of the music around that bands ‘Go Well Diamond Heart’ period.
Really love this number and cannot wait for the album.

Andrew Lock


KYNESKA
HOTWIRED (single)
(2015)

‘Hotwired’ the follow up to ‘Sunrise On the Moon’ the second single by all sister 3 piece rock band Kyneska is equally impressive, they have changed a lot from their days as full on rockers Emerald Sky but that change has seen them transform into something rather special indeed.
As Kyneska they now play beautifully constructed numbers with wonderful melodies, more of a free and easy flowing vibe with the style incorporating quality pop rock and the technical touches and sense of mystery of quality progressive rock.
As with previous single I still see echoes of Mostly Autumn (only their more pop moments) and also with this one a little of the now sadly defunct Breathing Space.
‘Hotwired’ begins with a delicate guitar flourish and then turns into a catchy number with a wonderfully optimistic, positive feel.
Aislinn’s vocals are wonderfully crisp and at times soar like a bird while the guitar work of Ceara is both delicate and at times intricate; completing this soundscape the glorious percussion work of Siobhan holds the whole thing together.
Love this bands sound and think they have something really good going on and so looking forward to an album.
‘Hotwired’ is released on April 27th
The Kyneska website – www.kyneska.com

Andrew Lock


THE LAUREN WOLF BAND
RISE UP
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Lauren Wolf possesses one of the strongest female rock voices I have heard for a while, raunchy with glimpses of Janis Joplin and even Tina Turner at times and she also has the sass that reminds me of one of my favourites Cherry Lee Mewis.
It is not all about Lauren though the band is dynamic and the blues material on this release with an occasional country rock edge is top draw stuff.
‘Run Daddy Run’ explodes the release into life full with Lauren making full use of her impressive vocal range and the guitar work is smoking.
‘Rise Up’ itself is a slow, powerful blues number opening in atmospheric fashion with a steam train whistle and includes fabulous slide guitar and Lauren hits Tina Turner style notes at times.
‘The Night the Sound Went Out’ has a country/rock ballad style (more rock than country) with guitarist Patrick Dugan joining Lauren on the mic and includes haunting violin work.
It is funky Hendrix time on ‘Bounce Back’ which also has impressive backing vocal harmonies behind Lauren’s gutsy lead vocal.
Elsewhere we have the polished country/blues style romantic ballad ‘Home To Me’, a touch of Latin style on the funky ‘Runaway’ and ‘Space Wolf ‘ a wonderfully weird instrumental guitar based showpiece put together by Patrick which has so many styles on show including quirky Van Halen - Diver Down’ style touches.
The album closes with a cover and Lauren takes full charge of Bee Gees classic ‘To Love Somebody’ which is full of the power and emotion this number requires.
Really good album and what a voice Lauren has.

Andrew Lock


LAURENCE WOOD TRIO
YOU BE YOU (EP)
(2016)

This three track EP is the latest by the Leamington Indie/folk three-piece and makes for a great listen.
The first two numbers ‘Signs’ and ‘Birds Singing’ are both bright, clear chilled out pieces of music with the latter alternating between the wonderfully tranquil verses (with a beautiful guitar riff) and the slightly more upbeat chorus while the latter is a little more jolly with a bright and breezy feel running throughout and some superb delicate drum work.
The final track ‘Wednesday’s Child’ is a little different and it’s clever lyrics and zippy feel and more of a driving beat remind me a little of some of Billy Bragg’s work, touch of indie/punk/folk possibly ?
Vocals on the EP are wonderfully clear and the guitar playing and percussion on all three numbers is first class.

Andrew Lock

LAST IN LINE
DEVIL IN ME, MARTYR, STARMAKER, BLAME IT ON ME (radio singles)
(2016)

As a lover of the music of the much missed Ronnie James Dio (still remember his first UK gig with Dio at Castle Donnington in 83) so pleased to have Last In Line bringing back the style, riffs and classic rock approach of the great man with several members of the original band in the line-up.
As well as a tribute to Ronnie this material will also be remembered as the last work of the bands recently passed bassist Jimmy Bain.
‘Devil In Me’ one of two epics here with it’s solid riffs reminds me as much of Rainbow classic ‘Stargazer” as classic Dio while ‘Martyr’ is lightning fast with a touch of ramped up Judas Priest with it’s rampaging drum work and scoring lead runs.
A more of a groove on the mid-paced ‘Starmaker’ with fab bass lines and short stabbing lead guitar which believe it or not reminds me a little of classic U2 and finally the other epic is ‘Blame It On Me’
with a corking main riff.
Love all these four and pretty sure the album ‘Heavy Crown’ will not disappoint.

Andrew Lock


Laurence Jones
Thunder In the Sky
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This 21 year old blues slinger means business on this absolute belter of an album, a young man full of confidence at such a young age which shows both on stage an on this release, yet another addition to the quality stable of blues talent plying their trade in the UK but for me already towards the top of the pile.
It fires into life with rocker 'Bad Girl' with it's catchy chorus and the first of the albums many incendiary guitar solos then without time to catch your breath and with the thunderous drum and bass rhythm machine underlying Laurence's blues riff it is straight into 'Not Stickin' Around' and here the solo really soars.
Not all fast based blues on display 'Too Good' is funky and full of soul, the one cover on the album 'The Thrill Is Gone' a hit for B.B.King is slow burning and a showcase for his youthful yet already rich vocal delivery and 'Cornered' has a touch of Jazz/swing to it's laid back groove.
Saving the best to last, the closing numbers are 'Thunder In the Sky' the title track an epic blues ballad which builds and builds, effective keyboards in the background and a quality extended guitar solo help to make this one of the strongest cuts on the album but for me the releases tour-de-force is the fabulous final track 'Going Down', including tribal style drumming this multi-layered dose of real down and dirty blues is full of power, attitude and style, an absolute cracker.

Andrew Lock


LITTLE DEVILS
THE STORM INSIDE
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

An eccentric mix of styles that makes for some magical music, a blues album but the range of instruments played by the band (all multi-instrumentalists) and guest musicians make for a varied soundscape.
The release is bookended by two short instrumentals ‘Storm Warning’ and ‘Heavy Weather’ both moody and full of atmosphere, the former cool country/blues guitar sounds and wailing the latter delicate flute work, brooding Sax and wind sound effects.
The material in between is as I have hinted at quite varied, ‘Wounded’ mixes blues with a little Jefferson Airplane (think ‘White Rabbit’) with haunting flute work (reminded me a tad of early Mostly Autumn) while ‘A Long Time Ago’ with its grizzled lead vocals and surf rock feel would fit right at home on the ‘Pulp Fiction’ or ‘Kill Bill’ soundtracks.
‘The Ghost of Your Kiss’ has a haunting ominous feel, burns slowly and this tale of lost love is full of passion and longing and the band turn soulful with the help of extra brass section support on the Motown tinged ‘Stand’.
More along the lines of traditional blues are stylish mid-pace rocker ‘The Birth of the Blues’ a showcase for female lead vocalist Yoka to shine and powerful ballad ‘My Perfect You’.
Must also mention ‘Cold’ which combines cheerful, cosy, bluegrass/country like music (thanks in part to a guest violin) with uncheerful lyrics warning of a coming ice age, really different but works.

Andrew Lock


LITTLE HURRICANE
SAME SUN SAME MOON
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This album has just about blown me away and is certain to make my top 5 of 2017, Little Hurricane are a male/female two piece Anthony “Tone” Catalano and Celeste “C.C. Spina and with Celeste on drums (probably other things as well) there is a White Stripes look/feel about them which indeed does come across in the music at times.
They manage to have a sound that is both uncomplicated and simple in style yet also incorporates many layers in such an original way and style wise we have plenty of blues as well as rock, folk and most genres you can name on display.
Highlights, well every track is a highlight for me but here are a few, ‘Same Sun Same Moon’ is slow blues with a heavy, funky touch and possibly the best example of the White Stripe feel, the fabulous first single ‘OTL’ is a wonderfully pretty little number with beautiful vocal harmonies, tinkling keyboards, a hint of a brass section, drum machine style percussion and possibly a touch of Blackfield style prog about it.
Love the slow burning Doors feel of ‘Lake Tahoe Eyes’ full of mystique and atmosphere with such a cool groove and in stark contrast the following track is the quirky, short and zippy instrumental ‘March of the Living’ so full of sizzling energy.
‘For Life’ is a wonderfully tranquil, summer breeze style number, they throw in a shot of reggae on the equally laid back ‘You Remind Me’ and swamp blues is the theme of ‘Slingshot’ with the duo sharing vocals and with it’s dose of impressive slide guitar this is a corker.
This outstanding collection finishes with the folky ‘Moon’s Gone Cold’ and with it’s excellent guitar picking this just bubbles away like a country stream.
I have probably not given this album all the praise it deserves and I recommend it to the hilt, this band could be one of the next big things.

Andrew Lock


MARCUS MALONE
A BETTER MAN
(2017)

Marcus is a Detroit born rocker who now resides in the UK, in 2001 he recorded a heavy metal album but has swopped that style for a more bluesy approach with a touch of soul and the red hot musicians on display include guests Alan Glen(Nine Below Zero) on harmonica and Winston Blissett (Massive Attack) on bass.
‘House of Blues’ has a classic blues riff (think On the Road Again - Canned Heat), oodles of harmonica and introduces Marcus’s rich soulful voice and then the pace drops for title track ‘Better Man’ which has more than a touch of classic Free about it.
I love the uptempo rock and roll/ r & b of ‘Philomene’ which has that wonderful Shakin All Over riff running all the way through it and he and the band go off on a real tangent with the psychedelic, summer feel of ‘The Only One’, with wonderful vocal harmonies this free flowing number is a real surprise and even has touches of believe it or not The Bangles (I know !!!) and lighter poppy Foo Fighters as well.
It is back to blues action on the smooth ‘In Your Arms’ where Marcus adds a touch of David Coverdale to the vocals in fact could be a latter day Whitesnake tune and on ‘Cant Go back’ it is back to the style of classic Free with the addition of a couple of Zeppelin style blues riffs (Heartbreaker for one).
Ticks all the boxes a blues rock album should, classic blues guitar, a touch of soul, rich vocals, a dose of harmonica, a tight band and a variety of blues styles and top notch playing throughout .

Andrew Lock


MARILLION
Best.Live
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

While Marillion fans have been very well catered for over the years with live recordings from the Steve Hogarth era (inc the official bootleg series - The Front Row Club) this double album is a welcome addition to the cannon of the bands post 1988 concert work.
So much time and care has been taken in choosing the best possible versions of the numbers, compiling the running order and also ensuring that the sonic quality and the audience applause and reaction between the tracks make it appear like a single show (a great show at that).
This release includes many of the recognised classics from the Steve Hogarth era including the moving Donald Campbell story as told in 'Out of This World', from Marbles the chilling 'Invisible Man' and the magnificently grand 'Neverland' while the bands epic of epics 'This Strange Engine' (Mr Hogarth's life story condensed into around 20min) is a spectacular closer for the first disc.
Not every track on this set is on the epic side and highlights among the shorter numbers include the bands pop/rock hit single 'Your Gone', a powerful acoustic take on Brave's 'Hard As Love', the exquisite 'Beautiful' and for me one of the bands under rated masterpieces the up lifting 'The Release'.
For fans of the Fish years the first disc includes a suite of fan favourites from Clutching at Straws with quality performances of 'Hotel Hobbies', 'Warm Wet Circles' and 'That Time of the Night' proving that Steve Hogarth can perform the older material with some panache.
The material on this release is bang up to date and includes a selection from their last studio album 'Happiness is the Road' including the spiritual vibe of 'Essence' and a fabulous 'This Train is My Life'.
This album close with possibly the best display of audience participation I have heard on a live recording when at the close of a magnificent 'Man of a Thousand Faces' the audience continues to keep the tune of the number ringing around the venue long after the band has finished playing.
A fantastic live selection with the bands undeniable musicianship on display throughout, the love and loyalty of the bands fans is obvious and as always with Marillion the album is also superbly packaged with distinctive, unusual cover art and a top selection of gig photos in the album booklet, even if you have a number of Marillion live albums in your collection make room for another.

Andrew Lock


MARTIN BARRE
BACK TO STEEL
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is the latest solo album by the much renowned guitarist who spent 40 plus years with Jethro Tull.
The album artwork seems to suggest a full on rock album with its image of molten metal pouring into an electric guitar shaped mould (think prime time Krokus album covers !) and while there are a few rockers present, folk, blues, hippy rock and classical guitar all make an appearance.
Martin has put together a top band and the quality vocals of his female backing singers blend in so well with Martin’s rich tones.
The album begins with ‘Back to Steel’ itself a solid blues based rocker full of meaty guitar and other rockers include ‘I’m Getting Better’ with a fabulous Hello era Status Quo like riff and the catchy ‘Moment of Madness’ with its just made for the radio chorus.
Away from the rockers it gets very interesting indeed and a couple of numbers namely ‘Skating Away’ and ‘Slow Marching Band’ are very much in the folk vibe and give a big nod to Cat Stevens and also have echoes of Martin’s work with Jethro Tull.
We also get a very different take on Beatles classic ‘Elleanor Rigby’ which is given a rock work over with shades of early Led Zeppelin power.
Two of the more unusual offerings are ‘You and I’ where the female vocalist take the lead and the number has a dreamy “summer of love feel” with plenty of exquisite acoustic guitar picking and the tranquil classical guitar instrumental ‘Calafel’ with its hints of some of Mr Blackmores work with Blackmore’s Night.
An album with the stamp of quality and plenty of variety by an outstanding artist with an excellent pedigree.

ANDREW LOCK


MARTIN HARLEY AND DANIEL KIMBRO
STATIC IN THE WIRES
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A prime slice of Americana with occasional meetings with the blues by Martin (guitar and vocals) and Daniel (double bass, piano and vocals) recorded in Nashville this is a fairly laid back and relaxing set with perfect musicianship throughout.
Not a poor track on offer but I would like to pick out a few jewels, opener ‘One Horse Town’ a hard luck blues tale with honky tonk piano work tinkling away over the steady back beat, the chilled, dreamy, country feel of ‘Gold’ with its far away vibe and fab story telling and the folk stylings of ‘Sweet & Low’ with a dose of fine lap steel guitar to boot.
I do like ‘Postcard From Hamburg’ a folky style sad ballad with a slight Everly Brothers feel to the vocals and exceptional acoustic guitar picking.
‘Dancing on the Rocks’ is another standout which adds a touch of Spanish/Mexican style guitar work to its country roots as is the brisk ‘I Need a Friend’ with its touch of bluegrass added to its folk leanings.
The epic is left to last and the impressive double bass work is the star of the bluesy ‘Mean Old City - Part 2’ which also has a hint of gospel and a long instrumental passage towards the end were the whole band pull out all of the stops.
Really impressive.

Andrew Lock


MATCHSTICK MEN
NUMB (SINGLE)
(2016)

With it’s throbbing bass line with accompanying whispered vocal intro followed by a heavy guitar riff and crashing drum work this is a solid number for me mixing the doom laden rock of Black Sabbath with the attitude and aggression of the likes of Rage Against the Machine.
Closing with a scorching guitar solo again with echoes of classic Sabbath this is one powerful piece of quality heavy rock well worth checking out.

Andrew Lock


Matt Schofield
Far As I Can See
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A much respected blues artist both in the UK and internationally and this Matt's 5th studio album is a quality release full of choice cuts of blues mixed at times with jazz, funk, soul and even a touch of a Latin beat.
'Clean Break' is funky and soulful with stylish Hammond organ adding to Matt's impressive playing,'Getaway' has a more laid back groove with top rate bass lines behind the vocals and guitar work the later of which includes a quality solo.
There are two covers on the album and Albert King's ''Breaking up Somebodies Home" is full of powerful and emotionally charged vocals intertwined with subtle blues guitar picking with what sounds like a horn section helping out to produce a rich tapestry of sound
and one of the albums standout numbers
The second cover 'Yellow Moon' originally by The Neville Brothers has a distinct Latin edge almost touching on reggae at times and possibly even a touch of Gospel.
If you like low key, slower burning, sitting on the porch, heartbreak blues 'The Day You Left' is for you and Matt's guitar smoulders with emotion yet is also perfectly under control, in a distinct change of pace 'Oakville Shuffle' is a fast, foot tapping delightful instrumental and keeping up that pace 'Tell Me Some Lies' is a lively rocker well stamped in the Chuck Berry tradition.
The album closes with its "Hendrix Moment" (as I have mentioned before in my reviews I believe every blues release has at least one) and on this album it is the magnificent 'Red Dragon' which is also the albums epic and starts off with stunning Voodoo Chile like guitar work.
Excellent blues release from an artist at the very top of his game.

Andrew Lock


MICHAEL CASSWELL
COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE NOISE
(2014)

Michael is a session musician of many years standing and also trod the bands for a couple of years in the Queen musical We Will Rock You in the West End so he know a little about playing the guitar.
This is an all instrumental affair and for me on the light, bright poppy side of rock and I would personally like to have heard a harder edge on some of the numbers.
I do like opener ‘Throw Me a Bone’ where the energetic start seems to give a nod to Iggy Pop’s Lust For Life and this groove laden, dynamic number is one of the album highlights.
Another highlight for me is the title track and ‘Complaints About The Noise’ has plenty of humour including a couple of voice overs by a female police woman and in stye it reminds me of Van Halen’s ‘Hot For Teacher’ and it also has that numbers zippy, lighting fast style.
Other possible influences I can detect are David Gilmour on ‘Unearthed’ and the tranquil ‘I Tried’ and a little Santana on the funky ‘Trinkets’.
With maybe 2 or 3 heavier rockers for me this would have been a stronger album but some interesting material.

Andrew Lock


MICHAEL SCHENKER FEST LIVE
CD AND DVD SET
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Beautifully packaged in a sturdy cd sized box comprising 1 dvd, two cd’s and a photo booklet this follows hot on the tails of the recent live set by that other ex Scorpions guitar maestro Uli Jon Roth and as with that release was also recorded in Japan.
The main difference here is apart from a wonderfully flowing instrumental take on that bands ‘Coast To Coast’ the lack of Scorpions material, instead we have the cream of the crop from the work of the various MSG line-ups and a closing trio of UFO classics (that other little band of his of course!)
Quality wise the sound is immense while the picture quality is a little noisy but I find with a live show that is not as much of an issue as a movie and must admit the camera work is spot on.
While Michael can rock it up with the best for me the MSG years also produced plenty of top draw AOR style material all be it with a tougher edge than some of that genres outfits.
During the intro plenty of shots of the impressive arena and stage with it’s wall of amps to build the atmosphere before the man himself walks on with a pounding ‘Into the Arena’ one of the all-time classic rock instrumentals.
From here on the three original MSG vocalists all take a turn for a mini set namely Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley with the band also comprising of ex MSG band members.
First up is Gary Barden who's set included (with possibly one of the greatest song titles ever!) ‘Attack of the Mad Axeman’, a heavy and slightly bluesy rocker with a couple of prog moments thrown in for that all important light and shade and full on rockers ‘Victim of Illusion’ and ‘Armed and Ready’.
Graham Bonnet’s section highlights included one of the nights top AOR style moments on ‘Desert Song’ plenty of keyboards and high notes from Mr Bonnet alongside the guitar magic of Michael with the tranquil mid section particularly memorable and also with one foot in AOR land a bouncy ‘Dancer’ with the evenings other two singers supplying backing vocals.
Finally after a Schenker guitar master class on instrumental ‘Captain Nemo’ which combines impressive lightning fast fret work with a classical feel (reminds me a little of some of Mr Blackmore’s work) it is time for the final vocalist of the evening.
A close call in the vocal stakes but for me Robin McAuley just about takes the prize on the likes of ‘This Is My Heart’ and with it’s wonderfully catchy chorus this is dare I say it quite a pretty little melodic AOR style gem and after an opening guitar salvo from the man of the hour he lets loose on charging rocker ‘Save Yourself’.
Closing the show and sending the audience into raptures are three not only UFO classics but bonafide rock classics in the form of ‘Shoot Shoot’ and what a fab groove it really has, ‘Rock Bottom’ with its unrelenting main riff (both with Robin on vocals) and finally starting with one of the most famous guitar intros in rock music history an incendiary ‘Doctor Doctor’ with all three vocalists taking turns on lead.
An historic night brim full of classics by one of the most exciting guitar players in rock history playing with bandmates he knows and gels with so well and loved the looks on the front row faces as Michael solos away as close to the audience as he possibly can, priceless.
I heard on Planet Rock recently that the Michael Schenker Fest is on its way to the UK and on the evidence of this release should be a corker.

Andrew Lock


MIKE MACKENZIE
NATURAL CAUSES
(2014)

One of the more difficult albums I have had to review as while writing my notes just when you thought you knew the direction the track was going it changed course and not always just the once.
This the debut album by Canadian multi instrumentalist Mike Mackenzie incorporates blues and progressive rock at times mixed with other elements and is richly a diverse selection of styles but always remains an interesting listen.
Opener ‘Genesis at Last’ is (in contrast to a lot on offer) is a fairly straight forward rocker with a touch of blues but lyrically in Prog territory, ‘Stronghold’ has possibly a touch of a rocking Clapton running through it while ‘I Can See Through You’ has an easy on the ear Latin/funk feel with wonderful keyboard sounds in the background which eventually take centre stage for a solo work out.
The album includes 4 instrumentals where a lot of the progressive elements of his music shine through as well as his guitar prowess including ‘Magentis’ a short but beautiful, flowing piece with soaring guitar work and the epic ‘Uncharted Waters’ with its many textures and shades including touches of Rush and the quirkiness of Focus.
Starting with impressive guitar distortion ‘Poison Arrow’ adds a Southern Rock touch to Mike’s eclectic styles and is a really well produced number with pounding drum work and solid riffs.
‘Smoke Signals’ comes over all country and then drifts into jazz and a little prog style and is a perfect example of how Mike manages to weave so many styles together and most of the time it works.
Closing instrumental ‘Empyrean Rays’ has a wonderful summer glow feel and classy acoustic guitar picking and fooled me as I waited for that change of direction that did not come, glad this one held no surprises as a wonderful piece of music with for me a Spanish influence and works fine as it is.
Thanks Mike for possibly my hardest review ever but an album I will return to as I think it will throw up something new on each listen

Andrew Lock


MOODY MARSDEN
THE NIGHT THE GUITARS CAME TO PLAY
(2016 REISSUE OF 1995 RELEASE)

The guitar line-up from the early days (and for me best) blues line-up of the mighty Whitesnake namely Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden hit the stage in this scorching re-released live album recorded at the 1995 International Guitar Festival of Great Britain.
The material includes a good handful of numbers from the duos 1994 album Real Faith a brace of Whitesnake classics and choice covers.
This pair of guitar slingers work together like a dream, playing off each other each and forming as good an axe partnership as I have heard.
A bright and zippy ‘My Kinda Woman’ opens up proceedings (possibly with a touch of The Allman Brothers Band about it) followed by the rock and roll blues of ‘Louisa’ with a hint of Cat Scratch Fever to the riff.
You would think that the pair of Whitesnake numbers performed would be highlights and you would be so right, ‘Ain’t Gonna Cry No More’ is given a chilled out acoustic treatment that I just love with a beautiful tone to the guitars and gorgeous backing vocals and the pair are on fire on the extended version of snake instrumental ‘Belgian Tom’s Hat Trick’, both guitars in perfect harmony and I love the La grange style section.
Elsewhere we have a number for the real blues guitar aficionado ‘Self Improvement Blues’ slow but powerful with possibly the most outstanding guitar work on the album with impressive sustaining of notes and other tricks and the almost Quo boogie feel of ‘Kinda Wish You Would’.
This quality performance closes with a superb version of early Fleetwood Mac classic ‘Oh Well’, and apart from those mentioned their are many more fine performances on this cracking live album.

Andrew Lock


THE MOODY MARSDEN BAND
NEVER TURN OUR BACK ON THE BLUES
(2017 RE-RELEASE OF A 1991 ALBUM)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A rereleased live set recorded back in 1991 by the band formed by the ex Whitesnake guitar partnership of Micky Moody and Bernie Marsden which sees them performing blues standards, Moody/Marsden originals and a trio of crackers from their Whitesnake days.
Opens in style with a cover of Jimmy Reed’s ‘Baby What You Want’ (also covered by Mr Presley and Mr Fury) with wonderful guitar interplay and vocal harmonising by the pair followed by another cover this time a rocking take on Free classic ‘The Stealer’.
The pace and volume drop for the epic soulful medley of blues classics ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman/How Blue Can You Get’ with them trying to outdo each other on guitar (call it a draw!).
Moody/Marsden original ‘Foolin’ With My Heart’ after its gentle intro turns into a prime slice of blues boogie that would not have been out of place in their Whitesnake days and superb slide guitar by the moody one lights up Elmore James classic ‘It Hurts MeToo’.
Talking of the mighty Whitesnake (part of the draw of going to a Moody/Marsden gig I would imagine) we have 3 showstoppers from that band, missing of course the incredible vocals of a certain Mr Coverdale but they do a grand job of firstly introduced as “here’s a tune for one” a stylish and powerful ‘Ain’t No Love (In The Heart of The City)’, the other two being the small matters of iconic rock classics ‘Fool For Your Lovin’ with that riff to die for and ‘Here I Go Again’ a rock anthem if there ever was one.
A wonderful partnership both in the Snake and whenever they work together and this is a fine example of that.

Andrew Lock


MOSTLY AUTUMN
LIVE AT THE BOERDERIJ ( LIVE DVD) double CD version also available
(2013)

This is the long awaited first live Mostly Autumn DVD release with Olivia Sparnenn at the helm on lead vocals and is a double disc set also available on CD (without the three bonus tracks and one of the encores) which stands as a perfect statement of where the band are at the moment and that is at the very top of their game.
Included in the DVD version is the complete set as recorded live at the Boerderij in the Netherlands on 15th September 2012, due to a technical hitch on the sound side three numbers 'King of the Valley', 'Never the Rainbow' and 'Changing Fast' were only recorded by one camera and the monitor mix but they have been included to complete the show, of course not up to the quality of the rest of the material but still a welcome extra.
The packaging is excellent for both versions with generous photo booklets, and the bands special pre order deal for the DVD and CD set for a reduced price and with Bryan and Olivia signing the DVD cover was a great idea.
The Boerderij looks like an ideal venue to record a live show with a stage big enough for the mighty Mostly Autumn to spread out and work their magic, the show was part of 'The Ghost Moon Orchestra' tour and a large selection of the new material made this show along with of course bags of classics.
The show starts as is the norm these days with the rumble of the classic 'Passengers' album instrumental 'Distant Train' perfect for the job, and straight off the picture and audio quality look top notch and the stage lighting (very important in concert DVD's) is really impressive and boy does our Andy Smith look cool in designer shades, next up Olivia's arrival on stage for the atmospheric new album number 'Unquiet Tears'.
As usual with Mostly Autumn two sets with a Tea (well Pint !") break in between and highlights from set 1 include a sterling drumming display by Gavin Griffiths on the driving new rocker 'Drops of the Sun' with one of the bands catchiest choruses to date (also loved the fab green stage lighting for this number and 'Ice' a real gem with two distinct parts, the steady hypnotic beat of the first section and the heavier, charged up, emotion packed second section.
It goes without saying that 'Evergreen' also in the first set was as good as ever but then a good performance of this classic is as safe a bet as the sun rising.
Closing the first half is possibly Iain Jennings shining moment the masterful Breathing Space number 'Questioning Eyes' co written with Olivia and given a new lease of live in Mostly Autumn sets.
Set 2 and more of the same (thankfully) with if anything even better lighting as there appear to be laser like effects on the stage at times, the second helping thunders in with two of the biggest rockers in the bands arsenal 'The Dark Before the Dawn' and 'Deep in Borrowdale' before they take things down a notch with a brace of slower more spiritual numbers in 'Passengers' and the sublime 'The Last Climb' the latter of course with a starring role by Anne-Marie Helder on the flute.
Other highlights in act 2 are one of the best numbers from the latest studio album 'Tennyson Mansion' with its 'Ghost Riders in the Sky' sounding opening (on purpose as that line is used in the lyrics) and featuring one of Bryan Josh's greatest ever solos,'The Last Bright Light' one of the most mystical and spiritual pieces of music they have made.
Always a high point of any Mostly Autumn show and the main set closer these days rather than show closer was Bryan's tribute to his father 'Heroes Never Die', always and understandably played with such passion.
For the encores a welcome return for the crowd sing-a-long favourite 'The Spirit of Autumn past (Part 2)' ( DVD only) a number I miss whenever excluded from the MA set, and here performed with Liam Davidson's astonishing lead guitar intro.
The other encores include the beautiful, poignant and perfectly introduced by Bryan as "like a dance floor in the sky" 'And When the War is Over', soft delicate, very moving and Olivia's vocal performance is simply exquisite. Finally to close the show two tracks that point to the quality of this bands material as both appear as bonus tracks on the 'The Ghost Moon Orchestra' album, the short but sweet, acoustic in style 'The Last Train' and 'Tonight' which for me is good as anything they have recorded, beautifully structured chords, a gentle exquisite opening that builds, rocks and then it returns to the gentle side.
Well worth the wait and a show with repeat watch written all over it, the band giving it all and more, a masterclass of a rock performance and the bonus material is also well put together with an informative behind the scenes short film and an extensive photo gallery.
Ten out of Ten

Andrew Lock


MOSTLY AUTUMN - GO WELL DIAMOND HEART
(PUBLISHED ON GRTR WEB SITE)
(2010)

BACKGROUND

I first discovered Mostly Autumn back in 2002 when they played a pub gig in my home town of Leamington Spa, which I only noticed while leafing through Classic Rock Magazine, and from the first few seconds of the opening number I could tell that I had found something very special that would play a large part in my life. I have seen the band live many times over the years, including flying to Edinburgh to see them support Bryan Adams and planning a short break in Cornwall to take in a performance.
Live as on album this band never disappoint and I have also over the years had the honour of meeting the band many times and I am sure there is not a more friendly group of people in the music industry,
This album is such an important one for the band because although the band has lost members before (some returning later) this time it was lead vocalist Heather Findlay who has moved on, who in my opinion is one of the best female rock vocalists in the country.
Luckily they have the perfect replacement in Oliva Sparnnen (another of the best female vocalists in the country) who has of course been a member of the band for several years as well as fronting the band Breathing Space until leaving that band to concentrate on Mostly Autumn last year, and she is doing an absolutely fantastic job as lead singer both live and on the new album.

FIRST PLAY BACK PARTY FOR THE ALBUM

Last August myself and my wife were honoured to have been invited to a first playback party for Go Well Diamond Heart for the band, family and close friends, so we found ourselves in an absolutely lovely farmhouse near Burnley and it was a night we will never forget.
The version played on the night was the pre-order double cd (disc one was the retail release reviewed below and disc two a complete cd of extra excellent new material) and after an introduction by band leader, vocalist and guitarist Bryan Josh accompanied by what must have been at least 50 candles to add to the atmosphere we were treated to the first playback of the bands latest masterpiece.
As you will read in the review I was very impressed but then their albums are always so consistently good so no real surprise there, everyone treated us both so well during our visit, we had plenty of chats with the band members and other guests and the evening went on to the early hours with good food, good real ale and of course excellent company, after the album play back there was a very special moment with the lighting and releasing of Chinese lanterns to wish the album good luck.

THE ALBUM

Presentation

There is always a great deal of thought put into the artwork on Mostly Autumn releases and Go Well Diamond Heart is no exception, the cover is a striking image of a red circle of flame against a black background, within which is the band name, album title and enclosed in a white diamond outlined shape the famous Mostly Autumn leaf in the centre of a a red heart shape design.
The Album booklet first page is made up of an excellent arty publicity photo of the band while the remaining pages, one track a page have the lyrics on one side and in keeping with the front cover, white diamond shapes filled with beautiful drawings relating to the songs theme on the other.[/u]

[u]The music


For All We Shared

The album begins with a nice touch, a track named after the very first Mostly Autumn album, the introduction is truly haunting with choral like vocals, atmospheric keyboard effects alongside subtle guitar, gentle cymbal work and the always magnificent uilleann pipe work of Troy Donockley all blending together perfectly. The track after the dramatic introductuin turns out to be a toe tapping medium paced rocker with lead vocals shared between Bryan and Olivia with superb lead guitar flourishes, and not for the only time on the album I get the impression that Heather is not a long way from the bands thoughts.

Violet Skies

A beautiful medium paced number that has a light, breezy summer, feel to it, with its gentle acoustic guitar work and Olivia's laid back vocal approach and for me almost a radio friendly pop feel to it (very good pop with a touch of rock of course).

Deep in Borrowdale

A gentle start to the albums first out and out rocker a real rousing number with its tight guitar riff, Bryan on lead vocals singing about wine women and song in a real positive up beat number, and a great track to head bang live to. The lyrics of course relate to one of Bryan's favourite places Borrowdale valley in Cumbria and the number really has an earthy quality to it.

Something Better

The other real rocker on the album with it's cracking Thin Lizzy style main riff, and a very catchy chorus with lyrics bemoaning the lack of real heroes in the world today and the general poor state of to quote the band "This Great Blue Pearl" we all live on. This number is a showcase for the guitar work of Bryan and Liam Davison also the solid bass work of Andy Smith.


Go Well Diamond Heart

The title track and the real epic piece of the album, a track dedicated to the bravery of seriously injured soldier and friend of the band Ben Parkinson, such a well structured dramatic number and also an example of the second theme of the album the horror and heartbreak of war. Starting with the sound of a jet fighter going overhead (or possibly a missile) the number transports us to the front line with the grim realities of war, " your friend in pieces", "blood in the sky" and towards the end after stunning machine gun, bomb blasts and air raid siren sound effects the voice of Colonel James Learmont appears with a stark portrayal of life in the firing line. An extremely powerful piece and one bound to be a live classic.


Back To Life

The kind of number made for Olivia's beautiful vocal delivery, a gentle but flowing rock ballad which also includes exquisite keyboard and flute work form Iain Jennings and Anne-Marie Helder respectively and the track ends with stunning guitar work by Mr Josh.

Hold the Sun

Such a clever number managing to combine both sadness and happiness in a tale of loss but also full of the joy and gift of life. The track begins with gentle delicate keyboards, the guitar and bass jump in for the dramatic verses in real contrast to the joy and lightness of the chorus, this change of mood gives the track real power.

And When The War Is Over....

To end the album another beautiful piece of music with its lyrics of joy and celebration at the end of war and conflict and a track that would be perfect for dancing a good old fashioned waltz to, includes plenty of subtle keyboards, guitar work and a special mention for the delicate drum work of Gavin Griffiths. A great choice for the closing number ending the album on a real positive joyful note.

VERDICT

A triumphant stylish album by a band that never disappoints, full of the usual MA light and shade, thought provoking lyrics, the top rate musicianship we have come to expect and a good mixture of musical styles, pounding rockers, beautiful ballads and epic numbers all with that Mostly Autumn special touch. For me this is an album up their with my favourite releases by the band Passengers and The Last Bright Light and as the fans expected Olivia has handled the extremely difficult job of replacing Heather Findlay in some style.


Andrew Lock


THE MOTIVES - FEATURING MATT TAYLOR
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This the bands debut release is a stylish blues album and kicks off with 'Never Tell a Lie' a number which successfully combines blues rock with a ska feel, full of sublime guitar work and lashings of Hammond organ, other stand outs are the funky beat of 'Cookie Jar' which for me includes effective use of a similar tribal drum pattern to the one used in the Shadows classic Apache.
'Leap of Faith' is steeped in traditional blues while the epic of the album (and stand out track) for me is the superb 'The Rules Dont Apply' with its theme of good and evil with a very special guest taking the role of the devil, blues master Ian Siegal, this is lyrically and feel wise along the same lines as the country classic 'The Devil Went Down To Georgia' only with more balls and the guitar work is stunning.
'Find Another Love' co written by ex England cricket star (now blues artist) Mark Butcher is another album highlight with the Hammond organ (plenty of this on the album) and guitar working in perfect harmony, 'Gangsters' has a cool laid back blues vibe and I love the closing number 'Baby Dont Lose My Number' a Huey Lewis and the News style tribute to classic rock and roll.
Band front man Matt Taylor has a soulful voice perfect for the blues and plays sensational lead guitar throughout, along with his top band they have produced a debut album that drips with style and quality, the album packaging is also top quality.

Andrew Lock


NARYAN
BLACK LETTERS
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is a majestic piece of work by the 7 piece Finnish band Naryan who call their style Melancholic.
Their sound is on the gothic side with at times downbeat but wonderfully written lyrics, not a great deal of out and out rockers on here but non the worse for that as this is full of beautifully performed numbers with plenty of light and shade embellished with the sounds of a vast variety of instruments.
Opener ‘Black Letters’ is a soft rock ballad with plenty of punch, atmospheric with subtle violin and flute work and an overall feel of gothic medieval about it and the first of many wonderful vocal performances by Ville Korhonen.
‘Frost’ adds the distinctive tones of the cello to the mix of this full bodied, flowing ballad and a guest female vocalist joins the band for ‘I Promise You’ and this gorgeous duet with Ville is a laid back delight full of more stunning violin work.
‘Together in This’ has a fairly heavy intro leading to a number with the feel of one of Metillica’s slower numbers (The Unforgiven for instance) and I detect a touch of Blackfield style prog about the exquisite and subtle ‘Sleeping Beauty’.
A wonderfully pretty piano intro followed by more sweeping violin work introduce the acoustic love ballad ‘Hey Girl’ that lightly flows over the listener followed by to keep the rockers happy the final track ‘764’ which features a wall of noise closing section in real contrast to the majority of the album.
A stunning, accomplished piece of work, beautiful if at times sad, delicate yet powerful, full of passion and emotion and stunning performances throughout and one that I so highly recommend .

Andrew Lock


The Nimmo Brothers
Brother to Brother
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN JULY/AUGUST EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The Scottish blues/rock brothers latest album opens with a real statement of intent with the hard hitting 'Still Here Strumming' a track very much for me in the Free/Bad Company mould, this album is a real mix of styles and other standout tracks include 'For You' polished radio-friendly stadium rock of the highest order, and showing their soulful side 'Waiting For My Heart To Fall' which includes fabulous Hammond organ work.
This release also has it's 'lighters in the air' moment with 'King and Country' with it's powerful bitter-sweet lyrics and a couple of covers, a more than competent run through Free's 'Wishing Well', nothing wrong with their version but for me an over covered track, the other cover which closes the album is a cracker as they rock and roll through the Texan band Arc Angel's roadhouse classic 'Shape I'm In'.
At times on this album I hear a touch of the sound of one of my favourite bands Thunder, especially on some of the vocals and overall this is a strong blues/rock release with plenty of variation to the material.

Andrew Lock


NINA BAKER
QUITE FRANKLY
(2013)

This the debut album from singer/songwriter Nina Baker is an emotion drenched collection containing diverse musical styles with an overall fresh, bright sound, it is very well produced and has some of the brightest, quirkiest album artwork I have seen for a while.
She is a real talent who I have seen perform a couple of times in the Leamington area and I am as impressed with this album as with her live performances.
The bouncy and upbeat ‘Single Bed’ opens the album with it’s fabulous brass instrument work and catchy lyrics and ‘Breaking Every Rule’ one of the standout numbers has just a touch of the gothic rock ballads produced by the likes of Within Temptation .
‘Little Fibs’ is a fun, jazzy number with plenty going on and has an impressive speedy (but as always crystal clear) vocal delivery by Nina and all in all is a real toe tapper.
‘Tell Me’ is almost in soft rock ballad FM radio territory, ‘Clown’ is hauntingly delicate with beautiful piano and gorgeous strings along with one of her best vocal performances on the album and ‘Game You Play’ is brisk paced with a touch of country.
‘Tied Up In You’ is for me a big production pop ballad, a kind of Whitney Houston number and she wrings every last drop of emotion from the powerful album closing ballad ‘Falling’.
Excellent album from a lady of immense talent, she writes really well has a beautiful voice and magical piano/ keyboard skills.

Andrew Lock

NO SINNER
OLD HABITS DIE HARD
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

2nd release from the acclaimed blues rock outfit with powerhouse vocalist Colleen Rennison at the helm and a belter it is which and am pretty confident will be one of my albums of the year.
Colleen’s voice is an incredibly impressive weapon having for me the best attributes of artists such as Janis Joplin, Beth Hart and any other quality, power-packed female rock and roll singer you can think of and the band are pretty hot as well.
Opener ‘All Woman’ is a rollicking start and a statement of intent, ‘Leadfoot’ has a more bluesy feel (even mentioning the crossroads !) with plenty of smoking harmonica, ‘Saturday Night’ is a good dose of rock and roll with plenty of energy while ‘Tryin’ is lighter and more laid back in tone than most of the album and proves the versatility of Colleens voice.
My favourites include ‘Get It up’ which manages to mix moments of Rolling Stones rock and roll with the catchy pop/rock sound of the band Texas (only heavier and more rocking of course !) and ‘One More Time’ which roars straight out of the gate at 100 miles an hour with crashing drums and rock out guitar then drops to a chilled out mid section with eastern guitar stylings and more bluesy vocals.
Album closer and another standout ‘Mandy Lyn is a heavy swamp blues cocktail mixed with a little Zeppelin, cool slide guitar and deep down bass work with Colleen's voice coming over wonderfully sultry and sensuous with added wails and moans and the red hot lyrics tell the tale of the aforementioned Mandy and “howling at the moon”.
A pretty stunning collection and a band to keep an eye on with a real star upfront on lead vocals.

Andrew Lock


NOW OR NEVER
Now Or Never
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This band with a good rock pedigree which includes two ex members of Pretty Maids and connections with French metal band Nightmare have produced a debut album full of power and aggression while also proud to show their rock/metal influences in the music.
Will not go on too much about the fantastic album art but the angel overlooking an ancient city is fabulous but lucky for the listener the music is top quality as well.
Opener 'Reach Out For the Sky' begins with the Edgar Allan Poe like thudding of a beating heart then throws in a crashing riff, demonic vocals and comes over at times like heavier and more intense classic Maiden, the wall of sound 'Brothers' is a little more Slipknot in style and ends with effective motorbike sound effects.
Another influence on the album appears to be the mighty Judas Priest and a good example is crashing rocker 'Princess of Undiscovered Land' which for me mixes Priest circa 'Painkiller' with an effective Nightwish style spoken passage.
The album does have a couple of more mellow numbers which work well and give the album a touch of light and shade 'An Angel By My Side' has a touch of acoustic guitar and is very catchy and here the band seem to have added their heavier style to an FM rock number along the lines of dare I say it Journey! and it works well, even more low key is the albums one ballad 'Something's Missing' a number full of emotion and quality acoustic guitar work.
Impressive debut.

Andrew Lock


Panic Room
Skin
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN JULY/AUGUST EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Panic Room left themselves a mammoth task to deliver a third album up to the quality of 2010's 'Satellite' but they have been more than equal to the challenge and released another masterpiece which may turn out to be even better on repeated listenings.
For me the album is not quite as dark as it's predecessor, it has it's dark moments but overall it has a lighter feel and June seems an appropriate release date as several of the numbers for me have a touch of summer about them.
As always they are never a band to be tied to just one genre and this an album of differing styles, but of course there is plenty for us progressive rock fans.
The album opens with the first of several epics on the release and also one of the rockiest tracks 'Song For Tomorrow' a well structured number with a powerful guitar led intro, the tempo then dips for Anne-Marie Helder's beautiful vocals and the track continues in this vein of light and shade, it has a catchy chorus and I love Jonathan Edwards harpsichord style keyboards and the at times tribal like drum work of Gavin Griffiths.
I really like the dreamy tranquil feel of 'Chameleon', with it's violin sounds and chilled out guitar work that just wash over you while another highlight, with the band throwing in a touch of Gary Numan style electronic vibe is 'Screens', combined with bursts of rock guitar this is a mix that works surprisingly well.
If the band are looking for a single from this release in my opinion they should look no further than 'Chances' for me the albums stand out number, catchy, light and breezy with that summer vibe I was talking about with superb Spanish flamenco style guitar by Paul Davis.
'Promises' begins with Stone Roses style guitar, and this medium paced rocker also features a superb bass line by Yatim Halimi, plenty of keyboard work and really builds in intensity for a grandstand finish, while 'Velvet & Stars' is a gentle piece combining acoustic guitar picking with exquisite vocals by Anne-Marie, a delightfully simple uncluttered track.
'Hiding the World' is another of the tracks with a rock edge featuring plenty of crunching lead guitar and rock out drumming and it closes in a very different and unique style with a short almost classical/choral vocal section by Anne-Marie.
Another triumph, a stunning release without a weak link by one of the more innovative bands around, the usual mix of eclectic of styles, superb songwriting craft and a band of individually world class musicians who work so well together.

Andrew Lock


The Pat McManus Band
Dark Emerald Highway
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is Pats 4th solo album and the former Mama's Boy has delivered an album of varying styles but with plenty of homages to his Celtic roots.
Opener 'S Before X' has a Van Halen feel especially the main guitar riff and the tongue in cheek Roth like lyrics and 'Lets Turn it Up' is a real rock anthem with plenty of groove, a powerful, charged chorus and a touch of the ZZ Tops.
His Celtic roots take centre stage on 'Lazy Days' which is delightfully Thin Lizzy in style as is his emotion packed tribute to Gary Moore 'Belfast Boy' and the Irish charm is also evident on lightning fast instrumental album closer 'The Bolt' where Pat's fingers really fly over the fretboard.
Pat shows his prowess on the violin on the fast, funky blues of 'Shame On You' which also makes superb use of the backing vocalists and includes a killer guitar solo.
A special mention for my favourite track the slow burning 'Cold Town' which for me has glimmers of Rainbow's 'Catch the Rainbow' to some of the guitar work but lyrically is a thousand miles away from that bands fantasy inspired lyrics and far more down to earth (pun intended!).
Really strong album, variety of styles all carried off with some aplomb.

Andrew Lock


PAUL WYLLIE
I DON’T FIND THIS EASY
(2016)

This is a strong selection of around the three minute mark original numbers with terrific melodies, clever songwriting and plenty of catchy tunes.
Paul has decided that all of the proceeds from the sales of the album will go to Cancer Research and so a big hats off from me for that.
On here we have a good dose of rock/rock and roll but also touches of pop, the occasional punky moment and for me several numbers with a Stone Roses vibe about them.
The rockers include opener ‘Hanging On’ which rolls along nicely with a good feel and impressive backing harmonies, the zippy ‘Driving Me Mad’ full of energy and drive, the catchy boggie rock of ‘So Discreet’ with a dose of that good old Quo magic and the polished ‘Would I Lie To You’ with it’s impressive lead guitar work.
I hear a touch of that Stone Roses style on both the slower paced ‘I Don’t Find This Easy’ and the light and airy ‘Winter Would Leave’ both for me highlights of the album.
‘Give Me Something’ is very different to anything else here with its wonderful mandolin work and a slightly quirky, happy go lucky feel.
The album closes with the only ballad on display, ‘I Remember Everything’, good melody and lyrically clever with a touch of Squeeze about it this dreamy number is another standout and a fine way to end this excellent album.

Andrew Lock


Pearl Handled Revolver
This Mountain Waits
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This the second album from the Bedfordshire based band is already a contender for one of my albums of the year, they carry a late 60's early 70's vibe with for me the main influences shining through being bands like Free and especially the more bluesy output of The Doors.
Opener 'Do it Again' has a rich sound and a catchy chorus with the superb guitar work to the fore, 'Hello Mary' is a complete change of style, more relaxed, flowing and soulful but also has a swagger with a great grizzled lead vocal performance.
For me the Doors influence really comes to the fore on 'Johnny's In the Basement' where they show a 'L.A. Woman' album vibe and 'Rabbit Hole' which has Alice in Wonderland inspired lyrics and crashing keyboards, while for me Doors in style it is a lot heavier and at times also steps into Sabbath doom metal territory.
Elsewhere on the album they also hit more of a straight blues mark on 'The Red White and Blues' with its hints of blues era Zeppelin about a third in and in another change of pace and style 'Josey' is a beautiful guitar driven piece reminiscent of Chris Rea at his best.
One of my favourite cuts is 'Blind' a slow burning number which begins with tranquil keyboards, again includes fabulous grizzled lead vocals here assisted by quality backing singing and you expect the track to explode into life any moment and the fact that it doesn't take this obvious route is a surprise that really works to it's advantage,
Confident, accomplished, they have a mixed bag of styles with various influences evident and the echo of prime Jim Morrison bouncing up more than once, really look forward to catching them live.

Andrew Lock


Pendragon
Not Of This World (New Madfish edition)
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN MAY/JUNE EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This re-released album comes from the time when the band were at the peak of their epic progressive rock powers, the band have of course had great success with their last two albums 'Pure' and 'Passion' where they added a harder rock edge to their sound.
This album flows over you, full of beautiful melodies with Nick Barrett's incredible guitar work and keyboard layers by Clive Nolan just two of the stand out components.
Sounds of wind and a tolling bell open the album in dramatic fashion followed by Nick's solo guitar and then the rest of the band for the first of the albums epics 'If I Were the Wind' its lyrics full of sea farers and pirates, delicate/beautiful but also with real power, a rich full tapestry of sound.
Sound wise this release is magnificent as the keyboard/guitar intro to 'Dance of the Seven Veils' proves, this is music to sit on the couch, light jos sticks/candles turn off the lights, grab a glass of wine and let it wash over you, this track full of light and shade as Nick tells the wondrous story (no pun intended) of Sailors, Sirens and Gorgons, and includes one of the finest chorus's in progressive rock.
The three part title track, starts in jolly upbeat fashion with heavy swirling keyboard work, drums to the fore while Nick solos away on lead, a tour de force of an intro to this epic of epics, the second part has a catchy melodic side with magnificent guitar refrains and vocal harmonies while the closing piece is simply gorgeous.
The remaining numbers are the almost spiritual 'A Man of Nomadic Traits', 'World's End' with its excellent laid back guitar work and truly uplifting finish, finally two bonus acoustic numbers, for me the crowning glory of their back catalogue 'Paintbox' and 'King of the Castle'.
A welcome reissue of a classic album, musicianship of the highest order.

Andrew Lock


POPA CHUBBY
UNIVERSAL BREAKDOWN BLUES
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

First thing that strikes me about this release is the fabulous cover photography/artwork that emphasises a meeting of old and new blues with its front cover shot of Chubby and glamorous lady friend next to vintage cars but with a modern building skyline while the back cover is simply just a fantastic portrait shot.
Onto the music which fortunately is just as good kicking off with an electrifying 'I Don't Want Nobody', pulsating guitar runs and a foot tapping back beat, other highlights include soulful ballad 'I Ain't Giving Up' with rich lead vocals and soulful backing voices, '69 Dollars' with it's Santana like lead guitar.
Really impressed with his original instrumental take on movie classic 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' (reminded me of a Rainbow concert intro tape in my distant past !) starting very mellow in the mix, throwing in a classical music snippet (not sure what the piece is called !)before turning the piece into a guitar extravaganza based on this much loved tune, fabulous playing.
'Danger Man' is an up-temp blues rocker with plenty of guitar effect pedal work and album closer 'Mindbender' is the heaviest cut on the album and has lashings of Hendrix style distorted guitar work.
Solid release with something for everyone.

Andrew Lock


THE QUIREBOYS
TWISTED LOVE
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Topped to the brim with short rhythmic, groove packed rock and roll tunes with heaps of The Quireboys trademark swagger mixed with a touch of prime time Rolling Stones this beautifully packaged album is another strong contender for my albums of the year list.
Spikes grizzled vocals overflowing with character merge perfectly with the often down and sleazy but at the same time good time music on offer on all 10 cuts with not even a hint of album filler to be found.
Opening two numbers ‘Torn and Frayed’ and ‘Ghost Train’ both have a bluesy touch, the former a frantic rocker with a good dose of harmonica the latter with more light and shade and some fine keyboard work moves from heavy riffs to a delicate whispered section and back again.
Highlights all over including ‘Twisted Love’ a title track (and lead single) with a crisp clear sound, a foot tapping, driving beat and full of that mentioned swagger with excellent backing vocals by guest singer Lynne Jackamann and ‘Breaking Rocks’ a slow-paced, dark and broody blues stomper with a slight AC/DC feel.
Of the other gems on offer I love the Route 66 feel of catchy rocker ‘Life’s a Bitch’ with that early Stones influence and ‘Shotgun Way’ a fast rocker with a hint of both country rock and the Black Crowes sound.
This fab album closes with the slowest number on offer and what a corker, subdued and stylish ‘Midnight Collective’ has a touch of soul mixed with it’s blues, full of atmosphere with beautiful backing vocals and excellent guitar work all adding to its chilled out vibe.
A stunning album with delights all the way through.

Andrew Lock


Rainbows Are Free
Waves Ahead of the Ocean
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)
(2014)

This powerful at times doom metal laden album (also snatches of blues, progressive, classic and Southern rock) is possibly the most Black Sabbath influenced album I have ever heard especially along the lines of Tony Iommi's guitar work with little echoes of the great mans style cropping up often,
The spectacularly titled opening track 'Speed God and the Rise of the Motherfuckers From a Place Beyond Hell' is full of solid riffs (guitar and bass) with traces of Hawkwind style space rock, weird but at times wonderful, and the Sabbath influence is really to the fore on fast rocker 'The Botanist'.
'Waves Ahead of the Ocean' itself adds a little Southern rock (possibly Black Stone Cherry style) to the mix while 'Sonic Demon' has dark ominous vocals by front man Brandon Kistler and after its slow paced opening charges ahead with Judas Priest style riffage and more Hawkwind style flourishes and even a Robert Plant style vocal touch makes an appearance.
'Snake Bitten by Love' shows the bands sleazy side and moves away from the Sabbath sound into Motley Crue territory apart from I think a distant 'War Pigs' style siren in the background at one point.
Album closer 'Comet' is a real mix with a little of Motorhead's aggression this pounding rocker also has echoes of the Sabs 'Children of the Grave' riff as well as a little Thin Lizzy like guitar work, on the vocal side there are Rob Halford style screams and a Jim Morrison style section- a real melting pot of influences but it works for me.
No doubting the power in this release and as I love Sabbath (in fact also love most of the bands obvious influences !) I appreciate the influence that band has on this album.

Andrew Lock


REBECCA DOWNES
BELIEVE
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A lady with an astonishing blues voice here with her excellent second album and she is particularly impressive and comfortable on both the out and out blues rockers and the more subtle material.
Alongside fellow songwriter and main guitarist Steve Birkett (who by the way impresses with some stunning slide guitar) she also throws in touches of jazz, country and soul.
Sassy opener ‘Never Gonna Learn’ motors along with it’s incendiary guitar solo and pulsating groove, ‘Night Train’ is chilled and stylish until the power builds mid track when Rebecca pulls out all the stops in true Joplin style.
I love ‘1000 Years’ with it’s gospel opening before swinging into action with a full bodied boggie shuffle but my two standouts are the low-key ‘Could Not Say No’ a jazzy number full of emotion which showcases Rebecca’s incredible range and ‘Long Long Time’ a harmonica heavy slice of bar room blues.
Closing the album are firstly two numbers with a touch of summer the funky ‘Salt Winds’ and the smooth easy going and soulful ‘Come With Me Baby’ and finally ‘Believe’ and on this epic title track she tells just us how it is with its positive lyrics while musically it starts low-key and then it develops in ‘Freebird’ style with it’s change of tempo and lightning fast lead guitar.
A diamond of an album by a great talent in the blues field.

Andrew Lock


RebelHot
RebelHot
(2016)

A four piece band with a love of classic 1970’s rock this album has at times touches of blues and funk and is chock full of great grooves.
‘Shake It’ is a zesty opener with a cracking tight guitar riff in the Bad Company/ Free mould while ‘Free’ has the loose swagger of Hendrix to the guitar work.
You can hear a touch of the Bon Scott’s (not the only time on the album) on the fabulously titled ‘Holy is My Beer’ and a great groove runs through this ode to working hard and that very welcome weekend beer.
A standout for me is the Southern rock tinged ‘Pray For the Rain’ with it’s powerful chorus and as a bonus we have 2 versions on the album the full electric and an acoustic version with a guest on the drums in Cry of Love’s Jason Patterson.
Showing the band have a softer side is ballad ‘Everywhere You Go’ which has the feel of Motley Crue’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ and it is blues time on ‘Hands Up’ a tale of hangovers, JD, tobacco and rock and roll all with an early ZZ Top feel.
The two out and out rockers are dynamic blues/rocker ‘Hot Stuff’ (early Whitesnake feel) and ‘RebelHot’ a title track with plenty of funk to go with those blues again with echoes of the great Jimi Hendrix.
Good album that ticks all the boxes of lovers of 70’s rock and blues/rock.

Andrew Lock


Red Butler
Freedom Bound
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A very accomplished album by this young blues/rock band from Sussex that belies their ages and the fact that they only formed in 2012, the sound is built around the impressive guitar skills of Alex Butler assisted by the outstanding vocals of Jane Chloe Pearce and a top quality youthful band.
There is plenty of variety on offer and for me the highlight/strongest part of this album is a chilled midsection collection of three stunning pieces of music.
Will finish on the already mentioned gems but elsewhere plenty to saviour including opener 'Jaywalker' with it's stonking riff, 'Danger Zone' with it's funk touch particularly in the bass lines and the foot tapping, honky-tonk blues of 'Young and Free'.
My personal favourite part of the album (tracks 5-7) starts with the one cover on the album which also happens to be one of my all time top rock and roll numbers, the Johnny Kidd & the Pirates classic 'Shakin' All Over', here converted to a slow paced, sizzlingly sensual number, stylish and uncomplicated with gorgeous vocals by Jane.
Next up in this quality trio the mood provoking 'Hoodoo'; with it's lyrics mentioning witchcraft and such like, slightly eerie 'heart beat' drum sound in the back ground and cool slide guitar this number is just drenched in atmosphere and finally 'River Of Smoke' which reminds me just a little in style of Joanne Shaw Taylor's quieter moments and features beautifully restrained guitar work and the whole thing smolders wonderfully.
This young band have come up with a quality album which includes a few absolute gems.

Andrew Lock


Renegade Creation
Bullet
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN JULY/AUGUST EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is an album of superbly executed twin guitar (courtesy of Robben Ford and Michael Landau) led blues rock at times with a shot of country as on album opener 'All Over Again', while 'Bullet' is more of an up-tempo Hendrix style rocker with good use of the guitar effect pedals.
'On A Mountain' is a powerful riff driven blues stomper with the rhythm engine-room working over time leaving the twin guitars free to solo over the top, while on 'Nazareth' they really slow things down on a chilled out ballad with haunting echoing guitar work.
The band show their diverse talent on this album, all the tracks have elements of the blues but of varying styles, the briskly paced foot tapper 'People Like Me' is another of the tracks with a touch of country, 'Greedy Life' has a jazzy blues feel and for me 'High and Low' is in Texas blues territory with a touch of the ZZ Tops.
The one cover on the album the Bob Dylan penned 'Too Much of Nothin'' works really well and 'Older Today' is a classy ballad.
A quality blues/rock release.

Andrew Lock


RICH ROBINSON
FLUX
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A Quality solo album from the Black Crowes founder member, guitarist and songwriter which gives the odd passing nod to his days with the Crowe’s but also adds his own touches including a good dose of country.
Starts with bluesy rocker ‘The Upstairs Land’ which has the faintest echo of his Crowe’s roots and a great ballsy guitar solo and following number ‘Shipwreck’ has a Doors feel helped by the prominent keyboard sounds.
The first single taken from the album is the crisp, country tinged ‘Music That Will Lift Me’ with a summer vibe and as the title suggests is a bit of a feel-good tune (nought wrong with that!).
The country vibe continues on ‘Life’ which reminds me of the epic, wide screen musical magic of ‘Glen Campbell’ and ‘Time to Leave’ a tranquil ballad with oodles of emotion.
I love ‘Astral’ a bright, trippy, psychedelic folky number which is really uplifting in a joy to be alive way.
Blues lovers will be more than happy with ‘Which Way Your Wind Blows’ which has fuzzed up lead guitar and rumbling bass lines that give it a slight Sabbath feel at times as well.
Album closer ‘Sleepwalker’ starts with crashing cymbals a touch of Eastern style guitar and rolls along with a driving beat and I hear a little of Feetwood Mac’s albatross in some of the laid-back guitar parts.
An album of the highest quality by an extremely talented musician/writer free to explore different styles away from his Black Crowe’s days.

Andrew Lock


RICKY FERRANTI & THE RUSTY MILES
Rusty Miles
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Like many modern blues releases this album sees a mix of styles, in fact this one more than most with it's selection which includes country, rock, pop, and rock and roll style blues numbers and the album is choc full of catchy melodies and choruses.
The album opens with 'Rusty Miles' itself an excellent driving, sun roof open, sunglasses on blues rock work out and a perfect to way to open an album which carries a theme of a journey, while 'Don't Stop' is more of a straight up soft rock track in the tradition of hair bands like Poison.
'Keep On' hits a country vein, a gentle ballad full of warm harmonica playing, beautiful backing harmony vocals and laid back guitar work, the country style continues with the fast paced (amazingly speedy guitar picking) rockabilly/hillbilly instrumental 'Country Junky' and the band (as of course so many Blues artists do) also pay homage at the alter of the fabulous Jimi Hendrix on 'Jimi's Colour' another instrumental but this one full of Jimi's trade mark guitar moves and it seems to have echoes of several of Jimi's classic numbers.
For me the two best tracks on the album are on the quiet, delicate side, the simply gorgeously sentimental and romantic 'My Eyes On You' and the absolutely haunting penultimate track on the album 'New Orleans' which is a piano/cello/acoustic guitar piece echoing the tragic natural disaster that hit that city, at times I can hear just a touch of another haunting piece of music Elton John's Song For Guy within the number. This track also has a first for me with words (very moving words) in the CD booklet that are not on the track but the listener is prompted to read them while listening, for me this number is worth the price of the album alone (but luckily the rest is superb as well !).
After the seriousness and sadness of the previous number the mood changes completely with 'You're My Cat' an Elvis style rockabilly style track with added violin, a really fun number.
A superb album that I will return to often and in 'New Orleans' they have hit musical gold.

Andrew Lock


ROADHOUSE
GODS & HIGHWAYS & OLD GUITARS
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is a strong release with a couple of absolute gems and Roadhouse seem to have a style all of their own with their mix of male and female vocals and a combination of blues, southern rock and Americana (you would swear they are American!).
The opening number is always important and they have chosen one of the strongest on the album 'Hell On Wheels' a lively blues rocker for the job, fantastic vocal harmonies (a real strong point of the album), a catchy chorus and explosive lead guitar work.
One of the more unusual and effective numbers is the stylish, atmospheric 'Skinwalker', downbeat, moody, mysterious and haunting it is choc full of fantastic guitar sounds and slightly experimental in feel, as soon as I played it wanted to hear it again.
'Gods & Highways & Old Guitars' the title track is another highlight and if you close your eyes you can almost picture route 66 and racks of guitars and for me the female lead vocals have a touch of Stevie Nicks to them (for me not a bad thing at all!),
My other two favourite tracks on this release are 'The Big Easy' very much along the lines of the Alannah Myles hit 'Black Velvet' , it has fabulously sultry lyrics and quality guitar work, and also on the sultry side with even more sizzilingly sexy lyrics (superb female lead vocal) 'Slow Down' which is sure to make you feel hot under the collar.
Really enjoyed this album which is not your standard blues release at all and all the more interesting for it.

Andrew Lock


ROADHOUSE
CITY OF DECAY
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A prime slice of Americana blues with an interesting concept set around the issues of Detriot’s motor industry (the album artwork says it all in style) by a band that make fine use of 3 different vocalists who all take lead and harmonise fantastically.
‘This House is on Fire’ is a splendid opener with a touch of Southern boogie while ‘City of Decay’ has a wonderful slow burning atmospheric start and the vocal harmonies work overtime before throwing in a nod to the classic ‘Cat Scratch Fever’ riff and there is plenty of Thin Lizzy style two part guitar work.
The longest of several epics on the album is the stunning, soulful slow blues of ‘Blues Highway’ with the girls Mandie and Sarah taking on the lead vocals in red hot, sultry style while the guitars of Gary and Danny throw in plenty of cool blues guitar licks (there is also a radio edit of this cracker on the album).
A mix of prog and a little Ritchie Blackmore guitar work (even mentions “the man in black” in the lyrics) on ‘Midnight Rain’ a downbeat rocker with Mandie putting a Stevie nicks style tone on her vocals.
Sarah has her lead vocal time in the spotlight on the spirited rocker ‘Queen of the Mountain’ and a soulful rock voice it is as well, and the pace goes up a notch on the toe-tapping ‘Night of the Gun’ where all 3 vocalist take turns.
Closing this release in glorious ‘Wish You Were Here’ style is the lighters in the air ballad ‘Turn Your Face Into the Wind’.
Plenty of epics on this polished slice of american style rock and the vocals throughout are top draw, music not to bad either !

Andrew Lock


ROBINSON-STONE BROTHERS
HOME
(2013)

The bands debut (self recorded and produced) album made before they shortened to Robinson-Stone and despite the name multi-instrumentalist sister Leyna still plays a major role.
Plenty of folk influenced material here including catchy opener ‘Rise and Fall’ and ‘Rolls On’ and they appear inspired by The Eagles on the happy go lucky ‘Take It Or Leave It’.
There are a brace of beautiful ballads’ ‘Home’ with it’s wonderful keyboard melody and the atmospheric ‘Emily’ which has more of a Gothic romance feel and works so well.
‘Soldiers In the Sky’ is a powerful epic piece with the band in serious mode on this tale of loss and warfare, slow burning with subtle marching like percussion and outstanding story telling this at times reminds me a little lyrically of Mostly Autumn classic ‘Heroes Never Die’.
Two more standouts are the short but sweet ‘The Dreamer’ fast paced with haunting, echoing lyrics which weaves an ethereal like spell and the gospel tinged ‘Heaven Lend A hand’, with at times Elton John’s ‘Song For Guy’ like piano work and with sublime backing vocals this uplifting delight closes with spiritual church like hand claps.
Excellent debut by a band rich in talent in all departments.

Andrew Lock


ROBINSON-STONE
ROBINSON-STONE
(2016)

Previously known as The Robinson-Stone Brothers this young family three piece band are all multi instrumentalists and although Danny is the main vocalist they all contribute and together they come up with fabulous vocal harmonies.
Their style for me mixes folk, country and roots with at times a touch of Celtic flair but they are not afraid to try something outside of these genres and top of all this they recorded and produced the album themselves.
The release starts in bright and joyous style with plenty of hand claps and whistling on ‘Enjoy the Show’ which serves both here and in the live setting as as an opener with the promise of things to come.
Echoes of country are added to the catchy summertime feel of both ‘Bye Bye’ and ‘Forever Young’, the latter adding a wonderful ride along groove while ‘Getting Up Again’ is a powerful piece along the lines of prime Chris De Burgh with a touch of majestic gospel.
Instrumental ‘The Crew’ is a mix of Celtic folk rock and a little sea shanty thrown, then in a complete turn around in style and feel the rich, full sounding ‘Movin On’ is full of 1970’s style funk with plenty of keyboard flourishes added by Dean.
One of my favourites on the release again full of Celtic magic with Leyna taking lead vocals is the gorgeous ‘Island of Dreams’ and the lads add wonderful vocal harmonies to this ballad which for me has the touch of an early Blackmore’s Night ballad such as ‘Spirit of the Sea’.
A wonderful album covering a few different genres but all with the bands own stamp, wonderful playing and vocals throughout and as a bonus they have also added two remastered tracks from their debut album ‘Home’ (released under the name The Robinson-Stone Brothers).

Andrew Lock


Rob Tognoni
Art
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Australian guitarist/vocalist Rob brings us a blues/rock album of quality with lashings of full throttle speedy guitar playing.
After a tranquil subdued intro including bird calls the album explodes into life with driven opener 'Shoot the Dove' full of power chords and the tracks guitar solos cover several styles, his spectacularly fast playing really shines on 'Play You Blues', which would make a great foot tapper if only you could tap your foot that fast !,the lyrics pay tribute to a host of blues legends including Robert Johnson and John Lee Hooker.
The Hendrix connection as with most blues/rock releases makes occasional appearance's including during the complex instrumental 'Cafe Deluxe' and 'Reasons Why' while I hear a touch of AC/DC on 'Set You Free'.
Rob gets experimental on 'Roadrunner' with plenty of keyboards plus distinctive vocal and guitar effects, very different to the rest of the album but an interesting number that really works.
A real highlight is his faithful cover of Neal Young's 'Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)' with plenty of fuzzy guitar work and the addition of a touch of 'You Really Got Me' thrown in at the end, great stuff.
Interesting album by one of the fastest guitar players in this field I have heard and obviously someone who is not afraid to experiment within his chosen genre.

Andrew Lock


Rocky Hill
Lone Star Legend
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN MAY/JUNE EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Worth a listen for fans of Texas Blues, Rocky who passed away in 2008 was the older brother of Dusty Hill of ZZ Top fame, the material on this release was recorded back in 1977 in Texas and has a real feelgood groove, 'Go Down Dupree' with its incessant tight blues riff certainly gets the foot tapping while 'Hoodoo Eyes' has classic old style ZZ Top boogie flowing through it.
The magnificently titled 'Waitin' Around to Die' is a real standout, down and dirty and as bluesy as you can get with plenty of mean screeching guitar work, for me this battles with 'The Charleston Knife' with its excellent honky-tonk/bar room style piano as the best track on the album.
As a blues fan it is great to hear an album from someone you have never heard of (hang my blues loving head in shame !) which is as full of quality blues as this release.

Andrew Lock


THE ROLLING STONES -
LADIES & GENTLEMEN THE ROLLING STONES
SOME GIRLS LIVE IN TEXAS ‘78
CHECKERBOARD LONGE, LIVE CHICAGO 1981
(2017 REISSUES)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Three CD releases by eagle records of iconic concerts by one of the best live bands of all time, all quite different and all a must have for the Stones fan and previously only available on DVD.
Ladies and Gentleman is the soundtrack to the movie of the same name and recorded on the bands Exile On Main Street US tour of 1972 and famously judged by the hard to please Mr Jagger as a top draw performance.
The opening three big hitters just about speak for themselves with knockout performances of ‘Brown Sugar’ (cool brass section), a full of attitude ‘Bitch’ (what a riff) and a momentous ‘Gimme Shelter’.
Of real interest of course the (then) new Exile material and ‘Happy’ just rolls on along with powerhouse vocals shared by Mick and Keith, they hit that Stones groove with ‘Tumbling Dice’, show their mellow side on the acoustic country tinged ‘Sweet Virginia’ and fire on all cylinders for a rocking ‘All Down The Line’.
Other highlights include the down and dirty blues of ‘Midnight Rambler’ and the triumphant one two show ending punch of ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’ and ‘Street Fighting Man’.
My only slight criticism of this disc is that the editing between tracks could have been smoother.
The Some Girls show is another belter from 6 years later and recorded at a relatively small venue (3000), it is a well arranged set list starting with a roaring Chuck Berry cover having a mid section of seven new tracks from the Some Girls album (shows what a strong album that was) bookended by Stones golden classics with a sprinkling of classy covers.
It’s a100 miles mph start with Mr Berry’s ‘Let It Rock’ followed by a barnstorming ‘All Down The Line’ and this opening salvo is concluded with the icon ‘Honky Tonk Woman’ overflowing with that Stones swagger and groove.
As with the Ladies and Gentleman’ set of most interest is the new material and again it does not disappoint including the classic stones sound of ‘When The Whip Comes Down’ (plenty of Jumpin’ Jack Flash about this one), one of the bands best ever slow burners and a sublime version of ‘Beast Of Burden’, the band mixing Chuck Berry with Pistols punk on a frantic ‘Respectable’ and the country soundings of ‘Far Away Eyes’.
On the covers side highlights included the band paying their respects to the roots of the blues with a traditional treatment of Robert Johnson’s ‘Love In Vain’ and proving they do Chuck Berry almost as well as the man himself with a magnificent ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’.
Finally and possibly more a Muddy Waters album than a Stones release we go back to Chicago in 1981 when most of the Stones jammed with the blues giant and other guests in front of just (a very lucky) 200 people.
The set list was Muddy Waters classics with a few other blues crackers thrown in for good measure with Mick, Keith and Ronnie in on the action for most of the set with Ian Stewart joining the line-up now and again.
Muddy is on magnificent form throughout and an absolute master of his craft with his own well honed band alongside him and the whole thing has the atmosphere of a smokey blues bar.
Highlights just about every number really but going to pick out the rocking up a storm feel of ‘Baby Please Don't Go’ with Muddy and Jagger trading vocals and heaps of harmonica, a stonking ‘Got My Mojo Workin’’ with blues legends Buddy Guy and Junior Wells getting in the fun and an epic (10 min plus) groove laden swagger through ‘Next Time You See Me’ originally performed by Junior Parker.
There you have it three crackers fit for any Stones collection and I would find it hard to recommend just one as all equally fabulous unless you have a deep love for traditional blues in which case go for The Checkerboard Lounge.

Andrew Lock


THE ROLLING STONES
OLE,OLE.OLE - A Trip Across Latin America (DVD)
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Both a a record of the bands 2016 Latin American tour and an account of the amount of work it took to put on their iconic free open air show in Cuba at the end of the tour.
Part live concert movie, part travel documentary and part intimate behind the scenes band movie, beautifully shot throughout on both the incredible concert footage and the sights and scenes of the wonderful cities and locations.
I love that throughout the movie the viewer is kept up to date on the progress of the big event in Cuba and when you first see the location for that proposed show it seems amazing that it will happen at all.
Concert footage wise the numbers are well chosen and the camera work top draw from all the action on the stage to the incredible crowd reactions, during the movie the live performances are often cut but as a special feature you can see many of the numbers performed in their entirety.
‘Start Me Up’ is a rousing delight with the band really rocking and on top form, ’Paint It Black’ deep, down beat and foreboding is a cracker while ‘Sympathy For The Devil’ with the stage bathed in red is monstrous in its burning intensity.
So many scenes with the fans stand out, the tough looking male fan who breaks down in tears after getting a glimpse of Mick in a passing car, Ronnie painting with a fan and fellow artist, the police filming ‘Midnight Rambler’ on their phones and the band dancing and singing with a family of drummers.
Fab behind the scenes stuff include Keith and his before show rainstick ritual, footage in the Rolling Stones tour plane (love the tongue design seat covers), and Keith giving a tour of his hotel room and opening the bay windows to see the reaction from the scores of fans on the street.
This film is a wonderful record of a unique tour which ends with possibly one of the most iconic shows of all time, and on stage and off is a wonderful portrait of a band that have already given so much to music lovers and who are still for me at the very top of their game.

Andrew Lock


RON E CARTER
CHEROKEE
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Mr Carter is a bit of a one man show on this release playing all instruments, writing all the music/lyrics as well as taking production and engineering duties, in fact the only other person making a contribution is a female vocalist on the albums only duet.
As a guitarist Ron makes it clear that Jimi Hendrix is a major influence but for me his style only makes fleeting guest appearances on this release that mixes genres at will with blues, funk, Latin and especially jazz all showing up.
Band influences I thought I noticed included Santana and The Doobie Brothers and the whole thing for me has a late 60’s/early 70’s cool vibe.
Highlights include breezy opener ‘The Way You Feel’ full of summertime fuzzy guitar, riff based rocker ‘Show Your Hand’ and the subtle laidback piano based ‘Movin' On’.
Duet ‘Wild’ with impressive guest vocalist Yvonne Howard is quite different from anything else on the album and a little prog/folk possibly along the lines of Solstice and Mermaid Kiss and works really well.
My favourite track which surprises me! is the most jazzy on the album ‘Ascension’ a laid back, chilled gem of an instrumental that softly drifts over the listener with its sublime jazz guitar, percussion and piano and a track I will return to often.
Another instrumental ‘March Jam’ closes the album although this one has a more in your face jazz/rock feel and Carlos Santana like lead guitar.
Very unusual album with some real highlights and boy do I admire his skill set.

Andrew Lock


RONNIE BAKER BROOKS
TIMES HAVE CHANGED
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

First album for ten years from Chicago born Ronnie Ray Brooks and he has pulled out all the stops in acquiring an impressive collection of greats to guest on and grace this fine soulful collection including the likes of Steve Cropper and Bobby “Blue” Bland and the spirit of the famous Stax Records style (with a touch of blues) is ever present on this Memphis recorded set.
‘Show Me’ is full of that large scale Blues Brothers type of style with the great Steve Cropper guesting, up-temp, soulful and full of drive with spot on vocal harmonies while the feel of James Brown is evident on both the funky ‘Long Story Short’ with its rich brass section and zippy piano work and ‘Give the Baby Anything the Baby Wants’ with its tight, solid bass lines.
A track with a difference is the upbeat, quirky 1960’s psychedelic feel of instrumental ‘Twine Time’ (instrumental apart from the effective use of party like conversation way down in the mix) while the energetic blues rocker ‘Come On Up’ makes great use of it’s Ballroom Blitz style riff (fab crashing drum work at the start as well) and blues also rears its head on the warm and tender ballad ‘Old Love’.
The album closes with the bright and jolly sound of ‘When I was We’, it’s sweet and beautiful sound cleverly hiding the sad break up lyrics.
Strong, polished collection and what is sure to be a highlight of this years releases.

Andrew Lock


RUBEN HOEKE BAND
LOADED
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Dutchman Ruben Hoeke really has music in his blood, respected guitarist, song writer, music journalist, record producer and also leader of this smoking rock/blues band.
Even though well loved and acclaimed on the blues circuit for me on several numbers I hear a distinct 'Van Halen' influence both in the vocal approach of singer Frank Van Pardo and the lightning fast guitar work of Ruben himself.
This Halen feel comes over on blistering album opener 'High On the Bottle' the 100 mile an hour rocker 'Raging Fire' with all the attitude and bite of something from Van Halen 1 or 2 and the groove laden 'Give it Up!,
But before you think that is all there is to this album 'Gone But Not Forgotten' is more laid back and heartfelt with superb grizzled vocals and a touch of Hammond organ and as with most albums in the blues field there is that Hendrix influenced moment, on this release that is loud and proud on the electrifying rocker 'Is There a Heaven. Is There a Hell?'.
For me not every number works 'Mississippi BBQ' is a stomping rocker but lyrically too much of an advert for a particular style of food and 'End of the Line' is a fairly routine rock ballad, but the rest of the album is well up to scratch and I really like the haunting instrumental 'David', with its atmospheric style it could easily have fitted on the 'Bladerunner' movie soundtrack.

Andrew Lock


SARAH RUDDICK
HERE I AM
(2015)

Love the homemade look of the cd packaging which is simple and effective but even more importantly love the music within.
For me she has one of the most beautiful and crystal clear voices (shades of Joni Mitchell at times) I have ever heard and all 5 tracks just wash their magic over you.
We begin with the breezy and flowing ‘Here I Am’ with its delightfully happy-go-lucky feel, almost in folk/pop territory and just full of life.
Wonderful guitar picking on the mid-paced folky ‘Saving Grace’ and it’s family orientated lyrics leave a warm and cosy feeling and it is full of positive energy.
The final 3 tracks see Sarah at the keyboards starting with ‘By Your Side’ a laid back piece with Sarah’s vocals simply angelic, next with more of a polished modern pop ballad sound we have ‘Biggest Fight’ (love the keyboard work which has just a hint of Mostly Autumn’s ‘Passengers’ about it).
Last up is the delicate ‘History’ where Sarah keeps her keyboard work slightly in the background while showcasing her magnificent vocals and for me this has the quality to be up there on the big screen on a Disney soundtrack.
A gem of a cd by a lady with a wonderful voice and 5 fabulous pieces of music.

Andrew Lock


SANKARA
GUIDED BY DEGREES
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is the first album by a band with a really good pedigree as it features ex members of both The Reasoning and Bluehorses among it's ranks, this is a promising debut release which combines elements of Prog, Gothic, Celtic and good old school rock.
Opening number 'In God We Trust' touches on the Celtic rock side of the bands music with impressive harmony vocals, excellent acoustic guitar picking and hard rocking riffs with a powerful almost blues like chorus, the following track 'Chasing the Sun' is an all out charging rocker with no let up and full of crashing drum work all played at a crisp marching beat.
'Never Felt So Alive' begins with keyboard work reminiscent of American soft rock bands like Journey/Foreigner and Reo Speedwagon which is followed by beautifully high pitched guitar work making for a cracking soft rock ballad in the vein of the aforementioned bands and is also one of the albums showcase numbers for Gareth Jone's vocals.
'The Doll's House' with the addition of guest vocalist Maria Owen-Midlane from the band Noterminus at times treads the Gothic rock ballad path of bands like Within Temptation and Nightwish with great effect turning this track into the epic of the album.
Other highlights include the catchy rocker 'The Harm Prinicple' with it's top draw guitar solo by Jay MacDonald, the soft flowing 'But For Her' with beautiful backing vocals and haunting slide guitar and last but not least album closer the storming 'Light Your Journey Home' again slightly Gothic in feel but really solid with touches of NWOBHM about it, a short but sweet number closing the album with a bang.
Hugely impressive opening salvo from a band with true potential.

Andrew Lock


THE SIDNEY GREEN STREET BAND
SGSB
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

An impressive twin guitar sound that merge the styles of southern Rock, blues, country and a few more to perfection on this album that has class written all over it,
Opener ‘Bye Bye Bye’ gets things off to a cracking start (always so important) and is an easy on the ear slice of Southern rock with a neat tight riff and clever lyrics including unusually a reference to Sherlock Holmes.
Elsewhere we have the catchy country stylings of ‘Sadie’ which has hints of the classic ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ about it and ‘One Good Kiss’ with its jerky ZZ Top feel.
The band rock it up on ‘Payin’ the Price’ which has a fabulous driving groove and ‘My Pride’ which has its feet firmly in blues/rock territory.
The most unusual track on show is the quality pop/rock of ‘Number’ a quirky, happy go lucky affair with light, free and easy guitar work.
Closing number ‘Consumer’ is another rocker which reminds me very much of one of the all time top rock classics ‘Radar Love’.
One again an album that has class stamped all over it and just about something for everybody style wise.

Andrew Lock


SIMON KIRKE
ALL BECAUSE OF YOU
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This the Bad Company (and Free) drummer’s third solo album is for me quite a revelation (have not heard the first two!) as with all the respect in the world I did not expect an album by a drummer to be this good and diverse.
As you would expect the drum and percussion work throughout is top class but it is the songwriting and arrangements that really impress.
For the most part this is an uplifting album full of positive vibes incorporating many styles and surprisingly for me blues rock is not at the forefront as the likes of country rock and folk have a lot to say.
‘All Because of You’ is a bright, sparkling folky, blues number with a delightful touch of keyboards which is followed by the country-rock feel of ‘Warm Gulf Waters’ with its at times Eagles like harmony vocals.
We do have the odd nod to Bad Company with firstly a glorious reworked version of that bands monster hit ‘Feel Like Making Love’ which has a bit of a reggae feel to the verses while harking back to the original for the chorus (also make out a hint of Hawaiian style guitar) and again on the laid back blues rock of ‘Into the Light’.
There are a brace of beautiful ballads on display, the smooth, soulful ‘Melting on Madison’ which has a jazzy feel and reminds me a little of a polished George Michael number and the silky, clever, and quite sensual love song ‘Lie With You’.
Folk is the prevalent force on ‘Maria’ and with its wonderful guitar picking and effective string section this is a masterful arrangement and that folk touch also very evident on ‘Friends In The Woods’ a sprightly, charming, sing-along number that the kids will love with its tale of Badgers, Hedgehogs and Owls and the like and works far better than it really should.
Showing the diverse range on offer I love both ‘Wind and the Rain’ which for me is a cross between Glen Campbell country and James Taylor folk and ‘Trouble Road’ the rockiest number on the album with its rough and ready lyrics and rocking guitar work.
So glad I got to hear this album which is full of quality and depth and Simon has obviously put a lot of work and thought into a fine collection of songs.

Andrew Lock


SIMON MCBRIDE
CROSSING THE LINE
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Solid blues rock by this Northern Irish artist and his red hot band full of distinctive vocals and superb guitar work.
Siren like lead guitar opens the album in spectacular style with 'Lead Us Away' with possibly a touch of Led Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' this riff driven heavy blues/rock number is full of power and drive, 'Go Down Gamblin'' has a real groove and swagger about it and a feel of Aerosmith crossed with Lynyrd Skynyrd (not a bad mix !) and includes lighting fast guitar work and what a great subject gambling makes for the blues.
Other album highlights include 'No Room To Breath', slowed down blues with the guitar almost playing second fiddle to Simon's fabulous throaty/gravelly vocals apart from the incendiary guitar solo, the soulful flowing blues of 'Alcatraz' and 'A Rock and a Storm' an acoustic blues number full to the brim of superb guitar picking.
The two closing tracks 'Home to Me' and 'Down To The Wire (Revisited)' the former laid back and bluesy the latter a scorching blues rock out both feature superb backing vocals by Mia Simone.
A quality blues rock album, Simon has a unique vocal style and he sure can play that guitar.

Andrew Lock


SNAKECHARMER
SNAKECHARMER
(2013)

This the debut album from a classic rock super group that includes ex members of Whitesnake and Wishbone Ash and the current drummer of Thunder and Magnum really shows that this band are far more than a nostalgia trip for the hordes of Whitesnake fans still around.
Top musicianship all over and a really polished at times laid back at others full on rock and roll classic rock album of real style (wonderful production as well) with of course a few echoes to the bands Whitesnake roots but in no way a paint by numbers approach but I do love the cover art work of a guitar lead in Snake pose in front of a snakeskin speaker, just a small nod to the past.
Opener 'My Angel' is a chorus driven mid-paced rocker with a beautifully simple acoustic guitar intro which soon gives way to cracking electric riffs and explosive lead breaks has a radio friendly sound (possible single !) and a hint of a Coverdale "Yeah" by vocalist Chris Ousey at the close, next up the equally catchy and addictive 'Accident Prone' already a live favourite this has strong vocal harmonies and sublime lead guitar work and a summer American FM radio groove.
The band push the blues/rock and roll to the fore on the stonking 'Turn of the Screw' while 'Smoking Gun' pays a little homage to the classic 'Here I Go Again' with the keyboard intro while 'Stand Up' has life on the road lyrics and for me just a touch of Magnum in the sound and as Harry James is co-writer no surprise there.
Driving rocker 'Nothing To Lose' is again a nod to the bands Whitesnake roots while 'Cover Me In You' puts the twin guitars of Micky Moody and Laurie Wisefield (on fine form throughout) to great use in a Thin Lizzy kind of way, my copy also has a bonus track 'White Boy Blues' as cool a blues work out as you could ask for.
Really impressive album by a band strong in all departments and rammed full of top quality tunes.

Andrew Lock


SOTO
INSIDE THE VERTIGO
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Top rock vocalist Jeff Scott Soto and his band have delivered what even at this early stage may become one of my albums of the year, full of power and both classic rock/metal anthems and more thoughtful progressive rock/metal pieces.
Several of Jeff’s friends and fellow rock musicians have assisted both in the writing and in some cases even play on this album that has quality stamped throughout with not a filler in site.
Opening three numbers are out and out classic rockers ‘Final Say’ has plenty of effective vocal screams, pounding drums, a catchy chorus and high speed guitar work ‘The Fall’ is more of the same with a knockout main riff and ‘Wrath’ has a touch of Metallica at their very best.
‘Break’ is slower and dirtier with crunching bass work and a prog metal feel (think Arena).
The crowning glory of this fabulous album though which is very much in prog rock territory is the epic ‘End of Days’ beginning with spiritual, angelic sounds it is a huge canvas of wide-screen music with singing children, spoken passages, soaring guitar work, layers and layers of sounds and Jeff’s vocals are sublime. It also possibly has a touch of Nightwish style symphonic rock and richly deserves its 10 minutes running time, cannot get enough of this number.
‘Trance’ reminds me vocally of classic era Dio, dark and ominous with a huge heavy riff at its heart, and ‘Karma’s Kiss’ has a fab Sabbath style riff along with its wonderfully mysterious lyrics giving the listener imagery of mountains, rivers, and distant lands.
This exceptional album bows out in rock and roll style with the energetic ‘Fall To Pieces’ a number to jump up and down to.
A classy, solid release that may very well come to be regarded as one of the ‘Classic Rock’ albums.

Andrew Lock


***NEW REVIEW***

STAN WEBB’S CHICKEN SHACK
STAN ‘THE MAN’ LIVE
(2016 REISSUE OF 1995 RELEASE)

A live set by the frontman and guitarist of Chicken Shack this is a re-issue (a lot of fab blues re-issues around at the moment) of a 1995 live album and is a fine selection of quality blues/r & b, my research tells me he is an underrated guitarist and on the strength of this album I can quite believe it.
Starts in lively fashion with a blistering ‘Going Up Going Down’ which reminds me a little of the classic Baby What You Want Me To Do (which by the way is one of my all time favourite Elvis Presley numbers as performed on his iconic 68 TV Special) before dropping the pace for a sublime version of B.B. King classic ‘The Thrill Has Gone’ where Stan’s smokey vocals and electrifying guitar work do this iconic number full justice.
There is a fabulous solid groove behind his version of Freddie King’s ‘Love Her With a Feeling’ and Stan Webb original ‘Lost The Best Friend I Ever Had’ is a smouldering blues ballad.
Light and shade and numerous changes of tempo are the order of the day on the epic ‘Chicken Shack Opera’ which incorporates so many styles and varieties of guitar technique and becomes a true showstopper with it’s numerous sections.
The show closes with a well thought out brace of medleys firstly a section of Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac) blues classic ‘Oh Well’ sandwiched between two slices of Chicken Shack original ‘Poor Boy’ the latter shifting from full rock mode to quieter moments and finally the fab feel and steady rhythm of ‘Dr Brown’ which merges into blues standard ‘Reconsider Baby’ the two fitting like a glove.
Excellent show and a masterclass of blues guitar.

Andrew Lock


STEVE SUMMERS BAND
RAINMAKIN’
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

The follow up to his 2012 debut album which I really enjoyed and reviewed for this magazine is just as good and full of cracking blues rock numbers.
This fires straight from the off with groove filled rock and roller ‘Mean Mistreater’ with its touch of early Whitesnake bravado followed by the slow but scorching blues of ‘I Should’ve Known Better’ with it’s Dazed and Confused inspired main riff.
One of several guest musicians on display is Vic Martin a long serving keyboardist for the late great Gary Moore who adds plenty to Steve’s version of the Jack Bruce/Gary Moore number ‘The High Cost Of Lovin’’ just one of several well chosen and unusual covers on the album.
Highlights include a dose of blues/soul curtesy of ‘Comfort Me Baby’ with it’s smooth vocal delivery and a touch of magic dust added by the harmonica and the uplifting, atmospheric instrumental ‘Rainmaker’ adding a touch of prog rock guitar to the mix.
The other two covers both work really well, Steely Dan’s ‘Pretzel Logic’ full of funk with a driving backbeat and fab vocal harmonies and SRV classic ‘Pride and Joy’ well handled with plenty of guitar flair from Mr Summers.
Another good collection, well played and constructed originals with the bonus of a dash of inspired covers by a talented singer/guitarist/songwriter.

Andrew Lock


Steve Summers Band
Lookin' Back, Movin' On
(2012)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A well played collection of original compositions and covers, Steve posses a rich vocal delivery to accompany his outstanding guitar work.
Album opener 'Lookin' Back, Movin' On' fires out of the blocks, full of driving riffs, Hendrix in style with an impressive solo while one of the highlights of the release sees Steve in Larry Miller fashion on 'Your Funeral, My Trial' with familiar classic blues scales in the background and scorching lead guitar to the fore.
Plenty of variation on offer,'Little Miss Blue' after a mellow acoustic guitar intro turns into a true blues stomper while he makes good use of a guitar effects pedal during the pop/rock Hendrix like sounds of 'Lovebound'.
Things slow down in soulful, sensuous fashion on another of the album highlights 'Dangerous Mood', 'Am I Losing You' is a beautiful instrumental with guitar work dripping with emotion and 'I Saw the Light' has an upbeat Dr Feelgood vibe running through it.
Well chosen and unusual cover 'Maybe I'm A Leo' is a spirited version of the Deep Purple 'Machine Head' classic, and blues standard'Hoochie Coochie Man' while more of an obvious and easier choice is also given a good workout.
Solid album with plenty for the blues lover which sees Steve drawing from a wealth of influences.

Andrew Lock


STEVE WALWYN
INSTINCT TO SURVIVE
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This, the much delayed and anticipated debut solo album by the long standing Dr Feelgood guitarist has just a few nods to his work with that much loved band as it covers a diverse selection of styles and genres.
As you would expect Steve takes on all guitar duties but also impresses on lead vocals and various instruments as well as getting a choice selection of ex band mates (from several bands) to help out.
The production is top draw as is the artwork/packaging of the CD and the whole thing is obviously a labour of love by for me one of the best guitarists around and without doubt one of the nicest guys in the business.
On to the music and the album starts in Dr. Feelgood territory (as mentioned this does not happen that much) with one of Steve’s compositions that he has played with the Feelgoods and ‘Instinct To Survive’, with it’s cool slide guitar intro and early ZZ Top style riff gets the album off to a great start.
Another of Steve’s numbers resurrected from earlier in Steve’s career is the flowing ‘Sign of the Times’ with for me its crossover of American FM rock and early 80’s British Indie this track is embellished by the backing vocals of ex Chevy frontman Martin Cure (what a great rock voice he has).
The album has plenty of emotion and depth and he wears his heart on his sleeve on the medium paced ‘Feel Like Breaking Down’ with its wonderfully tranquil piano work as well as a stirring guitar solo and the country rock ballad feel of ‘Never Want To Let You Go’ which includes a masterclass on acoustic rhythm guitar.
Two very different instrumentals on the release are the frantic paced, quirky rocker ‘Toad in the Hole’ (hats off to Chas Chaplin for his power-packed drum work) and in stark contrast the hauntingly, atmospheric ‘Dream On…’ with its touch of ‘Albatross’ and some of Dave Gilmour solo work, just give me a few candles, joss sticks and a nice glass of wine and job done.
The other number on the album with one foot in Dr. Feelgood land is rock and roller ‘Sweet Louise’, fab tight riff work running throughout and a happy go lucky feel.
One of my highlights is the glorious ‘Call On Me’ and if you want an uplifting piece of music this is it, optimistic, happy, with a Spanish feel (including a few flamenco like guitar flurries), hand claps and even the guitar solo sounds full of sunshine, a real spirit lifter.
The album closes in epic style firstly with the instrumental intro piece ‘Sacred Lands Part 1’ which sets the scene with its Eastern feel for the main course that is ‘Sacred Lands Part 2’.
Part 2 is epic both musically and lyrically with great story telling as well as plenty going on in the soundscape, style wise for some strange reason I get hints of Deacon Blue and Big Country although the guitar solo is classic, prog rock to my ears.
Great ending to a wonderful piece of work that I am sure means a lot to Steve and maybe we will not have to wait as long for solo album number 2.

Andrew Lock


STRAY
Live In Japan 2013
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)


Hot on the heels of Del Bromham's fabulous blues album 'Nine Yards' here he is with his three piece power rock trio Stray for this killer of a live album recorded on the bands first ever dates in Japan and make sure you read the booklet notes which make for one of the best stories behind a live album I have ever heard.
Opener 'Move A Mountain' with its simply effective Van Halen like riff gets this live set off to a flyer, 'Free At Last' is another headbangers delight, spectacularly solid drum work, crashing riffs and wonderful distorted, effect laden guitar work by Del, no messing just rocking.
For me there is a touch of punk to the heavy rock of 'Harry Farr' and hints of fellow Londoner's Iron Maiden while 'I believe It' is a little more laid back blues in style and Del's voice really comes to the fore.
My personal favourite is the epic 'After The Storm' starting with a bit of improve this track gets better the longer it goes on, numerous tempo change, touches of Hendrix and plenty of room for bassist Robbie Stewart-Matthews and drummer Karl Randall to shine.
The band get serious on '1600 Pennsylvania Avenue' named of course after one if not the most famous address in the world and the serious subject matter is sensitively written, musically it has a touch of the blues and extended axe work outs.
Another epic closes the album the catchy 'All In Your Mind' which flows beautifully with yet more guitar pyrotechnics, a power packed live set by one of the gentleman of the music scene Del Bromham and his red hot band.

Andrew Lock


SUPERSONIC BLUES MACHINE
WEST OF FLUSHING, SOUTH OF FRISCO
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Another one of those magical releases I get to review now and again which may well have passed me by otherwise, this is highly recommended to say the least.
At the core a three piece this album turns into a supergroup project with the addition of guests of the calibre of Billy Gibbons, Warren Haynes and Walter Trout to name a few.
Starts in style with the warm feel of the blues/county rocker ‘Miracle Man’ with it’s great groove, harmonica work, fine guitar picking and fab bass lines.
‘Running Whiskey’ introduces Billy Gibbons to the mix and this tale of moonshine and bootlegging is for me a slice of vintage ZZ Top which drives along sweetly, I like the touch that towards the end of the album we have ‘Whisky Time’ credited as an extended ending to this track.
Another guest crops up on ‘Remedy’ in the form of Warren Haynes and nothing to do with this bands track of the same name but has a bit of a Black Crowes feel to me.
Also love ‘Bone Bucket Blues’ and with its fuzzed up guitar and tight R & B riff this is a fast you like rocker full of energy and verve and ‘Let it be’ which is a soulful blues ballad with a touch of Free and early Whitesnake.
Another Whitesnake reference is the excellent cover of the blues standard ‘Ain’t No Love (In the Heart of the City)’ it has a superb extended guitar solo intro and is performed with real passion in both the lead and backing vocals.
Slow burning blues is the order of the day on the sizzling ‘Can’t Take it No More’ with the great Walter Trout sharing both guitar and vocal duties with the bands Lance Lopez.
Most delicate track on the album is the heartfelt ‘Let’s Call it a Day’ with guest Robben Ford which is a subtle but emotive performance and the album closes with the bright and jazzy ‘Watchagonnado’ with it’s great groove and touch of funk.
So pleased I was sent this and advise you to check it out.

Andrew Lock


SUPERSUCKERS
HOLDIN’ THE BAG
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A countryfied album by a band that often lean to the rockier side of things and have over 20 albums under their belt, for me this is an inspired dose of country rock and roll with the odd nod to the Traveling Wilburys.
The mentioned Wilburys touch can be heard on opener ‘Holdin' the Bag’ which after its lonesome harmonica intro turns into a country rocker with plenty of swagger.
‘Man on a Mission’ adds a touch of rock and roll with a little Duane Eddy guitar stylings and ‘I Can’t Cry’ is a stylish traditional country duet with guest vocalist Lydia Loveless.
‘I Do What I Can (To Get By)’ is a happy go lucky rocker with an almost Hawaiian flavour and on ‘Jibber Jabber’ it is time to rock out with this upbeat, rock-a-billy style number with it’s nonsense lyrics that make it a kind of country rock version of Chas and Dave’s Rabbit and is as much fun as that sounds.
‘Shimmy & Shake’ adds a little punk like energy to proceedings and this rocker has plenty of attitude and ‘Let’s Bounce’ has the same attitude but is a foot tapping country rocker with an amazing word count in the lyrics.
To close the album two top covers firstly ‘All My Rowdy Friends (Have Settled Down) originally by Hank Williams Jr this traditional country number has been re worded to name drop the likes of Lemmy and Steve Earle and with its tinkling piano and slide guitar is a delight.
Finally to close and as fast as country can get is this cover of the Billy Joe Shaver classic ‘Georgia On a Fast Train’ and this train does not pause for breath (just tired listening to it!).
Really enjoyable album with a country feel but plenty of the bands rock roots showing through.

Andrew Lock


THIRSTY
ALBATROSS
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This the second album from Quireboys founding member and guitarist Guy Bailey follows hot on the tails of his ex bands excellent new album and in common with that release is full of short 3 and a bit minute numbers that never outstay their welcome.
This is a more diverse affair especially with the lyrics by Russian poet Irina D adding an original spin on proceedings and after her work on the latest Quireboys album vocalist Lynne Jackamann also shines.
Not everything hits the mark for me but there are several crackers on offer.
Stylish opener, album highlight and title track ‘The Albatross’ is mean, moody and full of atmosphere with for me a feel of T Bone Burnett and would be superb as a title track for a hard hitting crime series like True Detective.
On more familiar territory for Guy are Rolling Stones like rocker ‘Black Hole’ with poet Irina joining Guy on vocals and ‘Beat of Her Heart’, wonderfully flowing with a hint of the Stones classic Angie to it.
I hear a touch of the likes of Lou Reed/ Velvet Underground on the way-out and dreamy ‘Cosmic Aphrodite’ with Irina D’s sultry vocals and a couple more of this style on the album would have been great.
Finally on ‘Patriotic Little Trash’ the backing vocals by Lyne have a Gimme Shelter vibe and this slow tempo blues rocker is a fab closer with sensational blues slide guitar and in particular a cracking solo.

Andrew Lock


THE TREATMENT
GENERATION ME
(2016)

A young British rock band with bags of attitude, swagger, plenty of spark and a love of classic rock music return with their third belter of an album.
‘Let It Begin’ and ‘The Devil’ let fly with the AC/DC like riffs the former has a high speed approach while the latter more of a pounding beat with it’s lyrics/vocals showing a punk edge and the punk vibes also show up on ‘Cry Tough’.
‘Tell Us the Truth’ has the energy and verve of Demolition era Girlschool while ‘Generation Me’ is a stonking rocker with the feel of classic Crue number ‘Kickstart My Heart’.
Not afraid to tackle a rock ballad as ‘Backseat Heartbeat’ proves which makes superb use of the bands twin guitars and excellent backing vocals.
To close the album back to twin guitar magic on breezy rocker ‘Light the Sun’, lighter in approach than most of the material and possibly my standout track with a little Thin Lizzy thrown in for good measure.
A really strong album from one of the leading lights of British rock.

Andrew Lock


TYRONE VAUGHAN
DOWNTIME
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

Tyrone's style is not as rooted in the blues as his famous uncle the late and very great Stevie Ray Vaughan but this is a quality album of country rock now and again tinged with the blues which prove he is an exceptionally talented guitarist and vocalist.
This album has a real feel good party vibe for a lot of it's running time as is very evident in the opening and title track 'Downtime' so catchy you can picture Shania Twain belting it out, other numbers that fall into this category are 'Next Stop Texas' with added fiddle and 'Ladies Man' with its Duane Eddy twangy guitar style making a big impression.
He shows great humour in the lyrics of 'The House Feels So Empty' the musical is traditional country fare and the lyrics of missing everything at home after a relationship break up except the other half also touch on well trodden country music themes, the lyrics are also top quality on the country rock of 'She Could Have Had Anything' and he shows his soulful side on 'L.O.V.E' , a lounge style blues number smooth as you like.
There you go not as blues based as I expected but an impressive, cheerful, uplifting collection of country blues with various twists and being a photographer I must also say this release has some of the best cover photography I have seen.

Andrew Lock


ULI JON ROTH
TOKYO TAPES - REVISITED
LIVE IN JAPAN (LIVE DVD, CD DIGIPAK)
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

As well as one of the most beautifully packaged live dvd/cd sets I have seen with its multiple fold out sleeve and extensive photo booklet it is also one of the best sounding and the visual side is not half bad as well.
As for the music well this show has given me even more admiration for a guitarist I already admired, the show is epic with 19 numbers and was performed by the former Scorpions lead guitarist/ founder member in February 2015 at the same Japanese venue where the Scorpions recorded their historic live set Tokyo Tapes.
His playing is electrifying, covering a multitude of styles, incorporating all the tricks you could ask for and ranging from full on 100 miles an hour rock to the most subtle and beautiful passages.
The whole show can be found on one DVD with the same complete performance spread over two CD’s and also available are a blu-ray version and a massive signed and numbered box set with many extras including vinyl LP’s, hard cover book and audio from the other dates on the same Japanese tour.
Nine of the Tokyo Tapes tracks are performed at this show along with other early doors Scorpions classics, a bit of Uli improv and a brace of Hendrix classics.
His large band of top musicians include powerful vocalist Nathan James frontman of Inglorious (so impressed with his vocals when I was at the Uli Jon Roth gig in Leamington Spa back in 2013) and with three guitars in the line-up while another three swap lead vocals (including Uli) throughout the show this is an impressive line-up indeed.
As for Uli he just looks like (and sounds like I must say!) the ultimate rock god stood on the spacious, well lit stage in front of a bank of speaker cabinets, long hair flying from the onstage fans, bathed in stage lighting, dressed in his Hendrix style get up with a bunch of feathers hanging from his distinctively shaped guitar.
The crowd are as perfectly behaved as you would expect a Japanese crowd to be joining in clapping and singing when prompted and keeping so quiet you could hear a pin drop during the low-key parts of the performance.
He launches the evening in the same way as that historic Scorpions show back in 78 with scorching non-album rocker ‘All Night Long’ and for the next close to two and a half hours the classics keep on coming.
‘Crying Days’ with its touch of prog and mystical sounds, pounding percussion work and at times mournful guitar work is followed by another rocker ‘The Sales of Charon’ and this number with it’s Rainbow like feel gets many hands in the air.
The uptempo rockers are out in force with the likes of ‘Sun in My Hand’ a frantic ‘Virgin Killer’ and the polished rock of ‘We’ll Burn the Sky’.
One of the more laid back performances is the cover of Japanese piece ‘Kojo No Tsuki’ which is full of atmosphere and Uli’s subtle, intricate guitar work along with the Japanese vocals delight the audience who seem to really appreciate the gesture and of course join in.
His improv piece ‘Rainbow Dream Prelude’ is a beautifully performed acoustic guitar piece quite classical in approach and a perfect intro to ‘Fly to the Rainbow’ with its fabulous use of light and shade and Uli he pulls out all of his Hendrix style guitar tricks with an incredible array of out of this world sounds.
One of the things you notice on this show is how Uli takes centre stage by force and makes it his own for most of the performance but is also happy to stand back at times and let the amazing line up of musicians in his band all have their chance to shine.
After a costume change for the main man leaving his band to go it alone for a little while he is back on the stage dressed in black for 4 more crackers from the Scorpion back catalogue including extended versions of ‘Polar Nights’ and ‘Dark Lady’ both with spectacular guitar pyrotechnics.
The show closes with Uli performing two numbers by his beloved Jimi Hendrix firstly an explosive version of Hendrix doing Dylan on ‘All Along the Watch Tower’ and finally taking it down a little for a spellbinding ‘Little Wing’.
Without doubt one of the finest concert DVD’s I have ever seen (and heard !) a delight from start to finish by one of the all time guitar greats and his top notch band.

Andrew Lock


VARGAS BLUES BAND
Heavy City Blues
(2014)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)


Much travelled guitarist Javier has an impressive CV and this album features amongst others two artists well known to metal/rock lovers, vocalist Paul Shortino (Quiet Riot and others) and drummer Carmine Appice (nearly everyone !!) while Javier Vargas himself shows his prowess on many different guitar styles.
'Shake Baby Shake' launches the album, heavy, pounding riffs with echoes of T. Rex classic '20th Century Boy' in its main riff and is a slice of full throttle blues rock, 'Rock 'N' Roll Circus' has a touch of glam rock about it as well as latter day Kiss, a catchy chorus and a fab up-beat feel.
'Back To My Roots' has more of a soulful vibe and is a real guitar showcase with a touch of Santana, and while 'Love Hurts' the Everly Brothers classic is an unusual choice for a blues/rock album it really works, sensational lead guitar and it is possibly more in line with the Nazareth version, whether intentional or not a fitting tribute to the recently departed Phil Everly.
Also the title of one of my all time top movie's,'Sin City' would have not been out of place on the soundtrack, down and dirty, sleazy blues with a pounding, incessant guitar riff and storming drum work to go with the Motley Crue style lyrics.
The album closers with a complete change of genre on lightning fast instrumental 'Anaconda Style', country/rock and roll with superb fuzzy guitar, keeping with my movie theme this would fit perfectly over the closing credits of a cool Quentin Tarantino movie.
Solid album with plenty of variety and plenty for the guitar lover in all of us to enjoy.

Andrew Lock


VEXINE
LITTLE SIN
(2017)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

This is the second studio album from the American blues rockers who have an ace up their sleeve in Sarah Gleason with her ballsy, powerful vocal delivery and perfectly combines the expected rockers with a selection of chilled, slower paced numbers.
On the upbeat side opener ‘Caught Up In Tears’ has plenty of aggression with the cool guitar fills wrestling with the vocals to be the star, ‘Tell Me’ begins with a groovy bass line before breaking into a blues/classic rock belter with a solid guitar riff and crashing drums and ‘Empty Hole’ is another explosive rocker (and another stonking riff) which includes a slowed down mid-section with Sarah in sultry mood.
Sarah delivers a smooth, soulful performance on the slower paced but powerful ‘Creep Into You’ which does however build up pace for a couple of standout guitar breaks.
Bubbling bass, cool laid back guitar work and rich, bluesy vocals all contribute to the slow burning but at times explosive ‘Hornet’s Nest’ and ‘Catherine’ has an emotional, country rock feel mixed with a hint of Stevie Nick’s style about it.
The album closes in dynamic fashion with ‘Only One Left’ and there is (and always welcome in my opinion!) a dash of Ramones to this two minute out on out rocker where guitarist Paul takes lead vocals with plenty of fuzz added for effect leaving Sarah to take charge of the backing vocals and the odd scream!, a fab finish to a really strong album

Andrew Lock


Voodoo Vegas
The Rise of Jimmy silver
(2013)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

For me as far as debut albums go this is up their with the likes of the explosive Van Halen introduction to the world of rock and roll and has the fire, energy, drive and at times style of the Guns N' Roses classic 'Appetite For Destruction' and at others the swagger of vintage Aerosmith, this is a real mean and lean rocking machine without an ounce of fat or filler.
The album artwork is very striking and is an original piece by respected comic book artist Jim Boswell and features the character of Jimmy Silver himself, the band have only worked with the best on this album and on mixing and producing duties they have Pedro Ferreira of the Darkness- 'Permision To Land' fame.
The albums intro titled simply 'Intro' is full of atmosphere and reminds me a little of 'E5150' the short Black Sabbath instrumental piece before 'The Mob Rules' on the fabulous album of the same name, after this short piece it is straight into the first of many catchy rockers on the album 'King Without a Crown' one of the tracks that fits in with the bands G N' R vibe, this track has an effective slower middle section before it blasts off into orbit again for the finale.
'Bullet' is a cool rocker with a tight groove, top drum work and a singalong chorus with several stunning lead guitar breaks by Meryl Hamilton and Nick Brown, and there are echoes of 'Night Train' on the pounding and gritty 'No More' with it's touches of anger and venom at times in Lawrence Case's vocal delivery, almost punk rock at times.
'What I Pay' is a strong acoustic number with a real vibe, after a gentle guitar intro Lawrence's vocals start gently and gradually grow in intensity and the number also includes superb slide guitar.
Next up after another short instrumental piece titled 'Interlude' the tempo rises for long time live favourite 'Mary Jane' a real anthem that charges along at break neck speed with scorching lead guitar, throbbing bass by Ash Moulton, awesome stick work by Matt Jolly and knock out lead vocals, the high speed of the verses work really well with the slower chorus.
'Ferry Song' is a feel-good number with delightful honk-tonk piano/keyboard work from special guest Stephen Green and Lawrence on harmonica duty all adding to a real foot tapper that just races along
The one ballad on the album is a corker, titled 'Lost In Confusion' it is a ballad with balls and passion built on one of the most beautiful guitar riffs I have ever heard (also possibly echoed on the keyboards), vocals full of emotion including the backing vocals of another guest on the album Stevie Vann Lange, this is a rock ballad of true intensity.
'So Unkind' is another live Voodoo Vegas classic almost 1980's hair band, glam rock in style and closing the album is 'Jimmy Silver' the story of the man himself a number that proclaims the simple love of rock and roll (I will drink to that !) and a full throttle scorcher it is as well with a beautifully simple chorus all together now " I love rock and roll, in my heart and in my soul", a fitting end to a triumphant debut album.

Andrew Lock


WALTER TROUT
BATTLE SCARS
(2015)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

A testament to his much published health issues but also a celebration of the blues genre he loves and although lyrically it touches heavily on the dark times it is still such a positive sounding album.
It blasts out of the speakers with opener ‘Almost Gone’ a rich, heavy rocker with top notch harmonica and thunderous bass lines.
The short ‘Omaha Prelude’ with its haunting ambulance sirens leads into ‘Omaha’ itself, a slower paced, rhythmic number with a touch of tribal drum work which tells the story of his hospitalisation and as expected is very emotional.
Country Rock tinged ballad ‘Please Take Me Home’ is a beautiful track that almost brings a tear to the eye, ZZ Top styled rocker ‘Playin’ Hideaway’ does not pause for breath and ‘Haunted By The Night’ is a brooding, atmospheric affair.
I hear a touch of early Quo in uptempo rocker ‘Fly Away’ while Walter is in pure “hell hound on my trail” mode on ‘Cold, Cold Ground’ while the joy of the moment he realised he was going to pull through flows throughout the acoustic ‘Gonna Live Again’.
Walter is in fine voice with the extra emotion he feels evident in both his vocals and the superb writing and his guitar playing is extraordinary.
This is Walter Trout at the top of his game and fantastic for us blues fans to have the great man still with us, still touring and what a bonus this knockout album is.

Andrew Lock


WALTER TROUT
ALIVE IN AMSTERDAM
(2016)
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)

I can bear witness to the sheer power and intensity of the Walter Trout Battle Scars tour as I was given the opportunity to review the Leamington Spa show for this very magazine and this double CD makes for a fabulous souvenir of the tour or if you missed it just a top notch live blues album for your collection.
I like the clever way he arranged the set for the tour, starting and finishing with golden oldies and having a whole chunk of the stunning personal experience that is the Battle Scars album performed in the middle section.
Walters guitar work blows you away with many numbers being treated to extended solos and among old favourites played after a thunderous reception from the crowd were opening rockers ‘Help Me’ and ‘Im Back’ the latter given extra meaning with his recent health scares.
Golden oldie ‘Say Goodbye To the Blues’ here dedicated to the late great B.B. King with some of the lyrics changed in his honour is a sizzling blues masterclass with the guitar work stretching the whole range from the most delicate of playing to wailing full on rock.
His version of evergreen blues classic ‘Rock Me baby’ is one of several numbers to include his son Jon guesting on guitar and trading licks and they seem to be having a ball while instrumental ‘Marie’s Mood’ a request from the crowd is an emotional piece with a beautiful guitar intro and exquisite keyboard and guitar throughout.
The selection from the phenomenal Battle Scars includes the slow burning, brooding ‘Omaha’ where the lyrics tell us perfectly his state of mind during his hospitalisation, catchy rocker ‘Fly Away’ and for me the icing on the cake is a souped up, dynamic ‘Playin' Hideaway’ a rampant rocker with a fab Whoa Whoa chorus (crowd take over at one point), thumping bass and drum work and Walter on top form on both guitar and in the vocal department.
A belter of a live album and a fine testament to a great bluesman and his top notch band.

Andrew Lock


WES FINCH
MAYFLOWER
(2013)

A fabulous album released in 2012 that I have just discovered and is now one of my most played albums.
Mayflower is a totally feel good album which is perfect for giving you a lift when feeling down, it has a folk style all of its own and with its clever use of sound effects has the feel of a concept album.
Setting the scene with its selection of bird song, footsteps and distant thunder sounds is instrumental opener ‘Tithe Farm’ and then straight into the sprightly/jolly ‘Good Morning, Captain’, it’s touch of brass, and lashings of strings gelling perfectly with Wes’s outstanding, rich vocal delivery.
‘The Mermaid’s Song’ is flowing and soulful with superb percussion while ‘I Know You Have a Secret’ has a laid back, Latin summer feel with dreamy trumpet.
One of the funkiest numbers is ‘The One You Let Slip Away’ which has a fantastic groove, really gets the foot tapping, and for me has gospel/spiritual church style choir vocal sections.
‘Southern Cross’ a ballad full of power and passion is simply a stunning piece of work with impressive acoustic guitar and a faultless vocal performance that really draws you in.
Excellent banjo work on the uplifting ‘Bowl of Stars’ and closing number ‘Cold Hands, Warm Heart’ is a superb, breezy, light country style number with strangely enough for me echoes of Lionel Richie’s ‘Dancing On the Ceiling’ at times.
A delightful album with not a weak track that I am so pleased to have found.

Andrew Lock


WONDERWORLD
WONDERWORLD II
(2016)

A three piece rock band who's far flung members include a Norwegian and an Italian and for me manage to mix the best of classic rock with the polished, radio friendly sound of the best of the AOR FM rock outfits.
Vocal harmonies impressive all the way through and very little if any filler on this album as well as a few absolute stunners.
Lets start with the best ‘Its Not Over Yet’ is a bit of an epic with an Eastern influenced opening (very Blackmore) a touch of Metallica’s ‘Wherever I May Roam’ which also turns into a fine lighters in the air rock ballad while on ‘The Evil In Disguise” it is time to rock and for vocalist (and bass player) Roberto Tiranti’ to reach for those Rob Halford high notes.
My other standouts are the laid back (in a ‘Catch the Rainbow’ kind of way) ‘Echo of my Thoughts’ with it’s sublime guitar work and epic solo and a trip to Sabbath land with the rumbling bass and heavy drum work of ‘In the End’ which also has an echo of Velvet Revolver classic ‘Slither’.
Elsewhere still good stuff including ‘Return to Life; which seems to mix again a touch of the Sabs in the riffs and verses with the more AOR soundings of the chorus and it works really well.
A really well polished piece of work that still manages to rock a plenty.

Andrew Lock