Friday, May 15, 2009

New Freddie Nelson and Paul Gilbert release shines light on a hidden gem

Freddie Nelson and Paul Gilbert have a new release out called UNITED STATES, which is being released by Mascot Records. We'll get to a proper review of it in the next few days. However, this release has some roots in my cd collection and not from Paul Gilbert (although he is in there.). .....That root would be the band Too Tall Jones, which was led by Freddie Nelson.

I stumbled upon Too Tall Jones the "old school" way by seeing them open up for L.A. Guns at the Varsity Club in Youngstown, Ohio back in May of 2001. It would be the first of 2 times that year L.A. Guns turned me on to a great new band. The next time L.A. Guns came through Ohio they had another great band open up for them - The Mimsies. Sadly, that band is no longer around and that little firecracker of a singer Casey is no longer involved in music. If you're looking for 2 really good releases, track yourself down a copy of Too Tall Jones' BI-POLAR and The Mimsies' TRASH AND ROCK AND ROLL. It's been 8 years since I've picked up these discs and I STILL play them on a somewhat regular basis. Good stuff!

If you like well written melodic rock, you'll love BI-POLAR. It has a nod to old school 80's rock, yet with a sound that was fresh for the new millenium. It's completey loaded with catchy songs and musical hooks that will snag your ear. What are you waiting for? Start typing away and see if you can find anything on Too Tall Jones. I think you'll like it. I know I do. You can find the cd here or download "You Ain't Nothing" and give it a spin to see if it wets your appetite.

I think I reviewed both of these discs back then. I'll have to dig up my old reviews and see if I have them. If not, maybe this would make for a good "retro" review piece.

Happy Hunting!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Evanscapps The Last Time

Due to the sudden passing of Lynyrd Skynyrd bassist, I thought I would share a review of his Evanscapps cd, which came out a few years ago. It was a project he shared with Bobby Capps of .38 Special.

EvansCapps - THE LAST TIME


I love it when a release comes my way, where literally every song on the release is good. Such is the case from a somewhat unknown band called Evanscapps. With no label support, they created a gem titled THE LAST TIME. To best categorize the sound that Evanscapps produces, imagine the buzz like sound of Alice in Chains with someone like Scott Weiland singing. The end result is a sound consisting of raw, crunchy riffs, heavy rhythms, and singing that has a “take no prisoners” approach.

THE LAST TIME starts off with the blistering “Hell If I Know”. The music comes at you full throttle. Mix in the catchy lyrics and you have a recipe for a song that may land you a speeding ticket.

There are a number of songs on here that have a lot of good heavy grooves. A few of which are “Dead Is Rising”, the swaggering “Follow the Morning Sun” and “Walk” At times, the singer fires off lines fast paced – much in the way of how Kid Rock does it. Especially, on “Walk” and “Mississippi”. “Mississippi” also has a Rage Against the Machine sounding rhythm to it. The guitar hook on “Walk” will grab your attention with the Alice in Chains feel it provokes for those few seconds.

Evanscapps can slow it down a notch or two as well. On these songs, they are still “in your face” – just tuned down a notch. Such is the case with the moody “Innocence” and the atmospheric “Stand or Fall”. On “For Somethin’ or Nothin’”, the tempo is slowed down a bit and hits you with a punch when the verses come around. This song sounds like it could be a big commercial radio hit.

The singer employs the use of a voice box throughout the disc and this is where the Scott Weiland reference comes in. That’s something that Weiland employs frequently and it works well for this singer as well. The style of singing is also mixed up on THE LAST TIME – no two songs sound alike. The lyrical content is perfect for each song with well thought provoking lyrics that really convey the mood of the music. Some slick guitar playing is featured throughout the entire disc. Imagine a chained up/drool-dripping dog that’s just been unleashed and that paints a picture of the guitar frenzy that spews out of the speakers. Crunchy rhythms and leads that are dead on and not overdone are abundant. Mix that with the singing and everything comes out sounding fresh, original, and unique.

So now you’re probably wondering “Who are these guys?” Grab a chair and sit down. Here’s the surprise. At the beginning of the review, I put “somewhat unknown band”. Well, the fact is that they are pretty well known members of their respective “other” bands - .38 Special and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bobby Capps steps out from behind the keyboards, as a member of .38 Special, to provide the singing duties. Laying down his bass from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Ean Evans picks up his guitar and whips his lead guitar playing into a sonic assault on the ears. Both Bobby and Ean are the driving force behind Evanscapps. Combined, they share a common bond of enjoying all styles of music. They are still very dedicated to their respective bands and those bands are their main priority. For the time being, Evanscapps is a side project that provides an avenue for their creative outlets. In this case, showcasing the side of them that loves heavy music. They also enlisted a few other well-known musicians to help out with the project. Todd Harrell (3 Doors Down), Rickey Medlocke (Lynyrd Sknyrd, Blackfoot), and Todde Lawton (Toby Mac) all contributed to the recording of THE LAST TIME.

I’m hearing at least 5 or 6 radio hits on here. If THE LAST TIME gets the exposure of say a Velvet Revolver, look out because this thing will take off. The reason I say Velvet Revolver is because that song for song, THE LAST TIME has a certain freshness to it much like Velvet Revolver – only better. It’s all about the songs and there are 11 great ones on here!

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to and pick yourself up a copy of THE LAST TIME. For those that like regular mail, I’ve listed that information below as well. Trust me – you won’t be disappointed. Now I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “this writer is really sucking up and not critiquing it.” I would think the same thing myself if I was reading this. Just to clarify – I’m not blowing smoke. THE LAST TIME is a refreshing oasis in the middle of a scorched desert of music mediocrity. There really is nothing on here that I didn’t like. When the dust settles from this year’s onslaught of new releases, this one will fall into a few top 10 lists. Great release!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

UFO - The Visitor

The Visitor
SPV Records

One of my anticipated releases so far for 2009 has been the arrival of UFO's new release THE VISITOR. The reason why I always look forward to a new UFO release is the fact that, with each new release, you get a different "flavor"or style of rock and that may tilt a little lighter or a little heavier...while still rotating around that trademark UFO sound. Sometimes the songs go down well and sometimes they don't. When you look back at a bands career, you find some releases that may have sucked bad as a whole, but you may have gotten one or two good songs out of the release. That style represented, as a whole, on THE VISITOR is a mid-tempo, bluesy (on the heavy side) style of really fast, hard rocking songs stand out such as "Lights Out" or more recently "Fighting Man" off of SHARKS. But, on the other's not heavy on the slow songs either. There's no slow emotionless songs that have been placed on here just for the sake of "Let's put a ballad on THE VISITOR and let's see if it sticks." Mid tempo blues based songs are the overall flavor of THE VISITOR. A more in depth track by track review is in order here. Let's take a look....

1. Saving Me - A twangy guitar intro (which reminds me a lot of the tv show My Name Is Earl theme) gives way to a mid tempo rhythm that sways in and out of head bobbing mode. The punch of the guitar chords is the backbone of the verses. Singer Phil Mogg comes in and immediately lays his stamp on the song - drawling out the lyrics showing he's still at the top of his game.

2. On The Waterfront - A swaying blue based based mid tempo song oozing with smokey lyrics that stand out. Guitarist Vinnie Moore noodles out some tasteful melodies and not overplaying it. Paul Raymond's keyboard playing (almost sounds like he's playing a Hammond organ) compliments and rounds out the sound of the rest of the instruments.

3. Hell Driver - Here's an up tempo rawker. Nice heavy guitar driven rhythm and blues barn burner cooked up just right. By barn burner I mean heavy on the power side of things - somewhat in the style of "When Daylight Goes To Town" off of YOU ARE HERE. The hard hitting drum beat serves as the backbone of the song.

4. Stop Breaking Down - Nice melodic song with Vinnie Moore and Phil Mogg leaving their mark all over this mid tempo shuffle.

5. Rock Ready - The twangy guitar intro returns again...this time more up tempo (and the intro still sounds like the My Name Is Earl theme - just like the intro to "Saving Me"...just a little bit faster). Real heavy blues sound on the guitar work...maybe some slide work going on? Not sure...but it sounds like it. After the intro, the song kicks into what I would call a foot stompin' blues based boogie shuffle of a song. Good stuff.

6. Living Proof - A moody swampy bluesy middle of the road song. Absolutely awesome guitar solo. I don't know how I like Phil's vocal delivery on parts of the's almost if he's speaking as if he's telling you a secret...especially on the parts where he is singing/speaking the "Shake..Shake..Shake" lines. However his trademark lyrical style is stamped all over the song - envision his smirking smile wiped all over his face while delivering thought invoking lyrics to please your ears. I think I need to let this song sink in a little deeper.

7. Can't Buy A Thrill - A little slower paced melodic song. Not ballad slow though. Kind of a song to listen to while chilling out. It won't raise the blood pressure, but might get you tapping a finger or two.

8. Forsaken - Don't care for this song. A slow song. Being a guitar fan and a fan of the almighty guitar solo...I like the guitar solo and that's about it unfortunately. Nothing else about the song seems to work for me...a lot of loose ends that don't seem to fit anywhere for my ears.

9. Villians & Thieves - Here we go. A heavy chugging guitar accompanied by classic Phil lyrics and vocals drives the song home. Paul Raymond stamps his keyboard playing on the song as well - however not getting carried away with it. Just enough to throw in a little piano boogie here and there to keep things interesting.

10. Stranger in Town - Nice heavy punching guitar riff work from Vinnie Moore. Mid tempo song packed with power. Nice way to close out the disc.

One thing that really stands out as missing on THE VISITOR is Pete Way's bass playing. He wasn't available for the recording and his simple style of playing is somewhat missed. He's got that "Added X" ingredient and he tends to bring the heavier/punchy/punkier/faster type songs to the UFO table. So his absence is definately felt here and his usual 2 or 3 heavier songs are missing from the UFO formula. That doesn't mean the songs are bad here...just missing that rocking Pete Way imprint.

On the positve side of things...Vinnie Moore's playing is incredible. Vinnie sounds like he was the driving force and the fuel that brought the THE VISITOR to life. His presence is really felt across the board on all the songs. I like the blues and songs rooted in the blues, so I like what he brought to the table on this release. Good stuff! You may have noticed I used the words blues and boogie a number of times. That's because that's the dominant overall feel here. He really nails down some great guitar work all over the release.

I haven't really mentioned Andy Parker's drumming. He pretty much keeps it simple, doesn't do anything flashy or over the top and keeps his playing "in the pocket." His drums sound a little low in the mix to me in some places, but that's the only negative thing that can be said about the drums. I think if they brought the levels up in some places it could have really changed the overall dynamic or feeling of some parts of the songs.

What can be said about Phil Mogg? He's one of my favorite lyricists and vocalists of all time. I love how he throws some lyrics together that sometimes don't make sense, but when taken within the context of the song, they just sound like the words belong there. He doesn't disappoint here. Sometimes leaving you going "Huh?" but at the same time your head keeps bobbing and your foot keeps tapping so who cares what he's talking about? Right? It works and it sounds good. So that's fine with me.

Of the 3 releases since Vinnie Moore boarded the UFO mothership, I would sandwich this one between YOU ARE HERE and THE MONKEY PUZZLE, with THE VISITOR giving YOU ARE HERE a run for it's money. Not one of their best efforts, but on the flip side nowhere near one of their worst either. If you like mid tempo songs...heavy on the blues, you will like this. If you're looking for heavy Michael Schenker speeding guitar rhythms that are going to peel the paint off the walls, then dig into the UFO back catalog.

Fans of melodic, blues based, mid tempo melodic rock will like this. UFO fans will definatley want to add it to your collection. It may take a few listen throughs for it to grow on you. But, I think you will like most of these tracks. Overall, I think THE VISITOR is a pretty solid release. I would rate it somewhere in the neighboorhood of a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10. For a letter grade I would give it a B.

For more information check out You can check out some clips of all the tracks on the UFO page there. Also check out UFO's website at