Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Steepwater Band - REVELATION SUNDAY cd review

The Steepwater Band
Diamond Day Records

The Steepwater Band is a blues based power rock trio out of the Chicago, IL region. The band has been around for almost 9 years and their resume includes 6 releases (4 full lengths and 2 ep's) and a live schedule that sees them perfom upwards of 125 shows a year. Their latest release REVELATION SUNDAY is a shotgun barrel blast of blues based boogie rock that will leave you more than satisified.

There are two sides to The Steepwater Band - one being the side that showcases the slow bluesy "play it in the pocket" approach and the second being the fast paced boogie that resembles ZZ Top - the difference being that The Steepwater Band takes it up a notch and are definately heavier than ZZ Top.

"Steel Sky", "Mercy" and "Indiana Line" are fast paced boogie songs that will definately get people breaking out the air guitars and dancing on the dance floor. During the verses in "Steel Sky", the music kind of sounds like the Cult. There's also some really nice slide guitar work going on in these songs courtesy of lead guitarist and singer Jeff Massey. Another great track is "Revelation Sunday" - I love how the track jumps along during the verses and slows down for the climax in the chorus. Great stuff! In fact, Jeff's work really shines throughout the whole disc. His guitar just oozes the blues on slower songs such as "A lot of Love Around". This song features a long extended guitar solo that sounds great. If you like how the old blues standards sound, you will love The Steepwater Band's approach to slower material - kind of that "call and response" type blues. On some songs such as "Government Graffiti" there is a heavy Jimi Hendrix vibe going on as well. The solid rhythm section of Tod Bowers on bass and Joseph Winters on drums provides a nice heavy hitting backbone for Jeff Massey's guitar and vocal work.

The Steepwater Band is a band well worth checking out. Go to their website listed below and sample a few of their old songs. If you like hard rocking blues based music, then The Steepwater Band is definately for you. Definately, pick up their new release REVELATION SUNDAY. This one will be getting plenty of spins in your player. It's easily an 8 or 9 on a scale of 10.

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Naio Ssaion - Out Loud cd review

Naio Ssaion
Napalm Records
This release has been out a year already, but it's a release that I think should get a mention. I didn't get this one until late in the year and I've been giving it alot of spins lately. If you like female fronted metal bands (Lacuna Coil is a good example) that can go from being really soft and melodic to being all out brutal at the drop of a dime, you will love Naio Ssaion who hails from Slovenia of all places. OUT LOUD is their second overall release, but their first in which they sing in English. Singer Barbara Jedovnicky's vocals really stand out throughout the release. Whether she's belting out the words or singing in a soft tone, she always maintains the melody in her voice and her vocal performance is what seperates OUT LOUD from being just an average release. Musically, the band delivers the goods and musically the style is all over the map - melodic, soft, heavy in the vein of Lacuna Coil's style. You name it and the style is here and it rocks hard. ..even the violin! Naio Ssaion is not as polished (nor do they have to be) as Lacuna Coil and it doesn't matter because OUT LOUD is a great release that is well worth tracking down.

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Sunday, January 7, 2007

Valient Thorr LEGEND OF THE WORLD cd review

Valient Thorr
Volcom Entertainment

Valient Thorr is back to save rock and roll with a cosmic bliss not seen since the universe was created! That statement is a little out there, but so are Valient Thorr. This band is truly a kick in the ass for rock and roll and the band has the ability to bridge musical genres with their unique style. They have the inner wrappings of punk, metal, garage rock, etc. all wrapped within their musical grab bag of songs. Think the craziness of Charles Manson (with a beard that is soon to rival a ZZ Top beard) preaching politics to the masses delivered through a Motorhead or MC5 soundtrack and you get the picture of how this band sounds. Hailing from the backwoods of North Carolina, Valient Thorr is out to right the wrongs of the universe and judging by their new release LEGEND OF THE WOLRD, they are well on their way to spreading their disease.

Carrying on where their last release TOTAL UNIVERSE MAN left off, Valient Thorr delivers another release packed with enough good songs to keep your attention from beginning to end - no filler material here. The first thing that really stands out is the incredible hooks that are delivered on both a musical and vocal level. There's alot of catchy parts scattered throughout the disc that will sink into your subconcious. Political awareness is a heavy theme throughout alot of the songs. Spewing out lyrics like a drooling pissed off dog on a short chain, lead singer Valient Himself (no -that's not his real name) delivers the policitally driven lyrics like he's addressing an army ready for battle. The guitar work of Eidan and Odinn Thorr (notice a theme here?) is nothing short of spectacular. They lead a dual guitar attack that rips your head off with great guitar solos and rhythms that keep the songs driving full speed ahead. For the guitar solos, they really do some good clean sounding melodic solos - sometimes coming off as sounding like Iron Maiden solos. It sounds like most of the songs were written around the guiars and vocals since those two things stand out the most. That's not to say the rhythm section consisting of Lucian Thorr on drums and Nitewolf on bass are slouches. You feel their contributions to the songs, they are the glue that keeps the songs together. There's no big drum fills or big bass lines - just 100 percent driving rhythms. Without their backbone, I don't think the songs would work.

It's tough to pick out any one song that stands out above the others. I tried to describe the sound of the cd as a whole, rather than breaking down each song. Log onto their website and download an older track or check out a video from them. That will give you a good idea of how the band sounds. If you like explosive slamming music that packs a heavy hitting vocal punch, then definately check out LEGEND OF THE WORLD. I really believe this band is on the cusp of breaking out big time. Get in on the action and become a believer!

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Saturday, January 6, 2007

Sex Pistols Spunk review

Sex Pistols
Sanctuary Records/Castle Music

Before the Sex Pistols career defining debut release NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS, there was SPUNK. Well, unofficially there was SPUNK. SPUNK has been heavily bootlegged over the years in various configurations and titles. Some official releases have included some of the SPUNK tracks, but none have captured all the songs that made up the first recordings ever made of the Sex Pistols.
The 15 tracks that appear on SPUNK all were originally recorded in 1976. 12 of the tracks are demos that were taken from recording sessions that captured the Pistols for the first time in the studio. The remaining 3 tracks "Anarchy in the UK" "Pretty Vacant" and "No Fun" were also recorded in 1976.

The first thing that jumps out at you is the pure rawness of the tracks. SPUNK is a good representation of the Sex Pistols live sound from back then. NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS was cleaned up and it really stands out when comparing it to SPUNK. I'm not sure if the songs on SPUNK were in the early stages or if the band was just ripping through the songs in the studio - playing like they didn't have a care in the world. At any rate, this is as close to being raw as you can get with the Pistols. Most of the songs you will know - "Submission" "Nookie ( which is an early version of "Anarchy in the UK")" and "No Future (which would later be re-named "God Save the Queen"). It is pretty neat to see these songs in the early stages of what they would eventually morph into. I'm not sure exactly what was going on with the last 3 tracks that were recorded in seperate sessions from the first 12 tracks on SPUNK. "Anarchy in the UK" is not even listenable. The tempo is slowed waaaay down and it just ruins the song. "Pretty Vacant" is just bland. The last track "No Fun" is kind of interesting just because you get to hear exactly how crazy Johnny Rotten actually is. He sounds possessed out of his mind on this track.

SPUNK is not for your average fan or someone who is just discovering the Sex Pistols - you're better off starting with NEVER MIND THE BOLLOCKS. SPUNK could scare you away if you're a first time listener. This is meant more for the big Sex Pistols fan who has to have everything. As a historical document of the band at the time, it is priceless and worth it to have in your collection. Anything beyond the historical factor is irrelevent. It's not their best material, but then again it wasn't meant to be trim and proper. Isn't that pure rawness what made the Sex Pistols who they are anyways? This is really raw and sloppy. So be warned. Personally, I'll take the first 12 tracks. The last 3 tracks are throw aways

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Buckcherry - S/T reissue review on Geffen Records / Universal

BUCKCHERRY Special Edition
Geffen Records/Universal

I liked the concept of reissuing Buckcherry's first release. What I don't like about the cd is how the cd came to being reissued and the content leaves alot to be desired. It's pretty obvious that the whole thing driving this release is the recent success Buckcherry has had with their latest release 15, which has gone gold. So, the reissue of Buckcherry's first cd is strictly riding on the coattails of 15's success. If it wasn't for the success of 15, we would have never of seen this reissue and that's kind of tacky I think. It just shows how much money drives the music industry. If there's a good buck to be made, you will see products released.

When Buckcherry first exploded on the scene back in 1999, the music scene was pretty average and boring - there were no new exciting rock bands that just rocked. Buckcherry brought back that sleazy and/or rock and roll swagger style of playing to the forefront of rock music again and the general buying public bought it up. Driven by the pounding "Lit Up" the cd was an instant success based off of that one song. The reissue comes complete with both the cd as it appeared in 1999 and a bonus dvd. I'm not going to explore the tracks on the cd, because there isn't anything to talk about - just the original tracklisting appears on the cd. The bonus here however is the dvd. You get the official videos for the cd - "Lit Up" "For the Movies" "Check Your Head" and "Dead Again" In addition to the original video, there is an alternate video of "For the Movies" included on the dvd as well. Also, there are 2 live videos "Crushed" and "Check Your Head" on the dvd. I'm not sure why they didn't include a live video version of "Lit Up". That would have been pretty good. Also included on the dvd are 3 Audio tracks. I don't understand why they didn't put these audio tracks on the cd. The songs are "Late Nights in Voodoo" "Fastback 69" and a live version of "Lit Up" that was recorded at Woodstock 1999. "Late Nights in Voodoo" originally appeared on the US promo DEAD AGAIN ep and "Fastback 69" originally appeared on the Australian version of the FOR THE MOVIES ep. As I said, I don't understand why why these songs weren't included on the cd. They appear on the dvd and the only way to listen to them is through a dvd player. I don't know about other people out there, but I never listen to the audio portions of dvd's. I'm sure the sound quality is great, but it's just not for me. I listen to most of music while on the go - in the car, at work, etc. and the dvd just doesn't work for me.

If you're a die hard fan of Buckcherry, you will want this to get the few videos on the dvd that you might not have had. For the average fan, you may want to pass this one up. I think they could have done alot more on the cd portion of the reissue. I would of liked to see the bonus tracks I mentioned above on there and possibly a few more tracks of live recordings. This reissue is definately geared more towards the video lovers out there and less geared towards the fans looking for some live or rare tracks. So, if you love watching videos, snag this one. If you're looking to expand on the original tracklisting of the original, save your money - there's nothing here worth spending the extra money for.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Molly Hatchet original guitarist Duane Roland's first and last article ...

Duane Roland of Molly Hatchet fame was a big supporter of Rhythm, Art, and Groove magazine published monthly out of Cambridge, Ohio. Duane wanted to write a column for the magazine and he thought that an "Ask Duane" column would work where musicians or fans could ask him questions about the music business. This was Duane Roland’s first column as it appeared in the July 2006 Issue of Rhythm, Art, and Groove. Sadly, Duane passed away between handing in his column and the street date of the magazine. He never got to see the column and unfortunately, the column ended up being part of a tribute to Duane. Here is Duane’s column….

ASK DUANE …. Q & A with Duane Roland
RAG would like to welcome our newest monthly columnist…Duane Roland (former Molly Hatchet guitarist and current guitar player for Gator Country). Duane will do his best to answer any music related questions RAG readers would like to submit. Send your questions to "Ask Duane" at …..

I’m a beginner guitar player. What should I learn first?
Duane: I would suggest to first learn basic guitar chords. You can learn from a book, or take lessons. Just learn to get around on the guitar easily. I played drums in a teen club band and one day the second guitar player did not show for practice, and I asked the lead guitar player to show me a few chords. Two weeks later he quit playing. If you have a natural ability, you can go at it on your own. I got very lucky in that music ran in my family.

My son wants to start playing guitar. Should I pay for lessons or let him learn himself?
Duane: Some basic lessons would not be a bad thing. Again, if he starts to show a natural ability, I would let him go at it on his own. I've never paid for lessons, and I got lucky. If he really wants this, he will make it happen. I think that sometimes it's better for his creative side, to not be too influenced by any one person. The one person that made me want to play was Johnny Winter, but that was just me. I was at West Palm Beach Festival, I think it was 1969, and he was catting across the stage with those pink fingers just ripping, that's when I said I want to do that. Been working at it ever since.

I want to upgrade my guitar. Some people suggest Fenders; others Gibsons. What are the differences?
Duane: It's like "Do I want to drive a Chevy or a Ford?" I have played and enjoyed both. My first guitar that I bought was a Fender Stratocaster, I was playing that when I was asked to join Hatchet. But have leaned towards Gibsons lately. My fav is the Flying V's. The best thing to do is go to the local music store and try each and see what feels best in your hands.

I've been playing guitar for several years. What is the best way to preserve my calluses?
Duane: Don't go swimming before you play. Keep your hands dry and practice, practice, practice. I have a problem with that same thing. I tear my fingers up pretty often. I have even used that stuff called Liquid Skin on my fingers..came off after the first song. Practice...

Feel free to ask any questions, I'll do my best to answer....Duane. Also, please check my

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Shaw/Blades - INFLUENCE cd review

VH1 Classic Records - U.S. release date March 6, 2007

No Cover Art available yet

After alot of years of talking about about doing another cd together, Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and Tommy Shaw (Styx, Damn Yankees) finally rolled up their shirt sleeves and got it done - 12 years after the release of their debut cd HALLUCINATION back in 1996. That's a long wait. But, a wait that's worth it I believe it. The end result is their sophmore release INFLUENCE and the release is exactly what the title says - 11 songs that had an impact on Blades and Shaw in their formative years.

After the first minute of the first track "Summer Breeze", you get somewhat a sense of relief that this isn't just another covers release thrown out there to make a buck. Compared to the original version, "Summer Breeze" has a more distinct guitar to it and there are some hints here and there of some Damn Yankees harmonies. "Your Move" features really nice vocals that stay true to the orignal higher pitched vocals done by Yes. If you don't know this song, one listen and it will refreshen your memory. Some of these songs have gotten lost in the shuffle through the years, alot of these songs will immediately refreshen your memory. There are a couple of songs on here that really shine above the others. One of them is Simon and Garfunkel's "I Am a Rock". Gone is the artsy folk version of the song. While staying true to the original song structure, Shaw/Blades injected a dose of kick ass rock to bring this song back to life. "I Am a Rock" is possibly the best song on the release. Some of the songs I questioned appearing on here because I just plain couldn't stand the original versions. Call me crazy. The original versions of The Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin" and Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence"were like the sound of hearing nails on a chalkboard. I just couldn't stand the original versions. Whenever, I hear these songs I always get this mental visual of a bunch of people sitting around a campfire singing "Kumbaya" - nothing against anyone who is into that. It's just not my cup of tea. One of the reasons why I can't or couldn't stand the original versions is because the vocals of the originals just ruined it for me. Shaw/Blades have really stamped their own vocals on these two songs to make these songs somewhat listenable for me. Some of the other highlights on INFLUENCE are "For What it's Worth"(You know it..."Stop. What's that sound? Everybody look what's going down. etc.) and a jumping version of "On a Carousel". All of these songs on INFLUENCE were originally hits, so it's really hard to say that one track stands out above the rest. The vocals of Shaw/Blades have injected life into all of the the songs and the current sound of today makes the songs stand apart from the original versions.

INFLUENCE is a good listen from beginning to end. I think this release is really going to hit that nerve of the generation of people who grew up in the late 60's/70's/early 80's. All of these songs received some heavy airplay back then and these songs are going to take you back in time with memories from that era. With so much music out there now, it's easy to overlook alot of the classics. Kudos to Shaw/Blades for bringing some of these songs back to the public eye. They stamped thier own sound on it and I think that's the key ingredient to making INFLUENCE a success. It makes some of these songs listenable and nothing sounds outdated because they did the covers in their own style using the current sound of today. The only complaint I see coming down the highway on this one is the fact that some might argue that they had more than enough time to complete a new studio release of original material. After all, these guys are prolific songwriters in their own right. To debate a covers release vs. an original release is pointless. I think INFLUENCE is worth checking out - especially f you fall into that age demographic above. You will be going "I remember that song!" INFLUENCE is a nice stop gap until that next studio release. I don't think It's going to be a huge hit, but Shaw/Blades aren't looking for a hit. INFLUENCE was a labor of love, so sit back, check it out and enjoy for what it's worth.

For more information log onto The website isn't up and running yet. But, keep your eye on it.
Shaw/Blades INFLUENCE Track Listing
1. Summer Breaze
2. Time of the Season
3. Your Move
4. I Am a Rock
5. Lucky Man
6. Sounds of Silence
7. California Dreamin'
8. On a Carousel
9. Dirty Work
10. For What It's Worth
11. Dance With Me