Friday, 5 February 2016
American blues rocker Brett Ellis comes alive. Well, he sure as hell rocks it out live! He kicks off at full throttle with Keeping The Rock Alive and he doesn’t look back! Backed up by bass player Rick Nash and drummer Calvin Lakin they are kickin’ asses and taking names! Brett is an outstanding guitarist on his studio albums, but DAMN this cat is on fire live!! His rendition of Hendrix’s Freedom is nothing short of outstanding. 20 In 5 is a cool chunky rocker that actually reminds me a bit of Van Halen’s Little Dreamer in the verse, but there end the similarities. The fat chorus riff is powerful and nice and the song also showcases the talents of Rick and Calvin since they get their solo pieces as well. Brett lands on the heavy side of blues rock, so if you’re into guys like Lance Lopez, Michael Katon, Poppa Chubby and Philip Sayce, check this cat out. You won’t be disappointed! What I really love about Brett’s guitar playing is that he knows all his blues licks, but he mixes them up with brutal technical licks, some jazzy runs and a variety of other styles making it all into a nice mix of his own, plus his tone and sound is killer. As for Brett’s vocals, they may not live up to his guitar playing. However, like with Gary Moore, Pat Travers, Michael Katon and Hendrix himself, they weren’t great singers, but they had the right attitude, which Brett sure has. Plus, he actually reminds me a bit of Ted Nugent in his early days, which isn’t bad at all (even if I don’t share the Nuge’s… views and Brett is a far better guitar player).
Label: Grooveyard Records
This one has been long awaited. This Swedish trio, featuring singer/guitarist JJ Marsh (Spellbound, Glenn Hughes), bassist Robert Hansen (Beardfish) and drummer Thomas Broman (Great King Rat, Electric Boys etc), just oozes of quality looking at these guys’ resumes. It was early on clear that this was going to be an earthy, retro rocking combo, which is just up my alley. Opener Days That Never Came mixes some cool riffing with melodic swirling parts in the landscape between the sixties and seventies, but landing on the right side of the fence for me. Mirror Magic Spirits opens with some hysteric guitar tones and continues into sounding like a vocal version of the Stockholm combo Plankton, which is really good in my book. Vintage Strat sounds without too much distortion, but heavy enough to rock and intense drumming with a busy bass filling the voids and JJ’s cool vocals. This is good stuff! SuperFi Yourself starts out with a super gritty evil sounding fuzz guitar and continues into a cool heavy, yet melodic retro rocker. Love it! In A White Light starts out pretty mellow but gets in the swing in the verse and lands somewhere in a bluesy Mahogany Rush:ish landscape. Soulshine brings back the evil and dirty guitars and gets the Hendrix mojo going in the beginning, but with a heavier stonking verse. A killer tune, indeed! Love the crushing, dirty guitar and rhythm work in this one, with JJ’s cool vocals hovering over it all. Amaze My Mind is also close to Plankton territory with its smooth, swirling melodic, almost folky feel. Jupiter’s Dream is another gritty rocker with ultra cool ever changing rhythm parts. It soon became my favourite on the album. Outstanding! Rivers Of Dissolution is also a cool track, where JJ is most likely using an ElectroHarmonix B9 or C9 organ Machine for his guitar. Have one myself and it’s a really cool sounding pedal that turns your guitar into a distorted Hammond organ. The album finishes with the blues ballad All This Time. All in all a killer debut for this power trio, a band I’d really like to see live, where I think the songs will really come alive. Highly recommended!
Label: Pride And Joy
Swedish melodic rockers Naked released their quite anonymous debut in 2007. It was good, but didn’t hit me that hard. The line-up has now been reinforced by Alien guitarist Tony Borg and former Madison bassist Conny Payne. The band also features singer Peter Sundvall, keyboardist Mats Hedén, rhythm guitarist Mats Stattin and drummer Mikael Wikman. I’m not sure what has happened since the debut (which I obviously need to re-visit), but this feels like a completely transformed band. The opening track didn’t fully convince me at a first listen, as it felt a bit too traditional, but then something happened. First of all, I found little twists and turns I didn’t expect, then it got stuck in my head like a bee to flypaper. Then I discovered something else. This is actually a true AOR album, in the sense – Album Oriented Rock. This album needs to be consumed in its entirety. Every song is like a piece of the puzzle like the classic albums by Boston, Balance, LeRoux etc. Furthermore, killer tracks like Blood Of My Blood, Still In Love With You and Setting Sails may as well have been recorded by one of those late great classic pomp bands of the late 70s/early 80s classic and where Peter Sundvall reminds me quite a lot of Fergie Fredriksen during his time with one of my favorite pomp bands of that era – Trillion. Simply love his voice! The crisp and clear, but still full, production also bears resemblance with that era, but of course slightly upgraded. This album was a really nice surprise! One of the best pomp/AOR albums of 2015!