Thursday, September 21, 2017

Slade: “Slade Alive”

Rating: RRRR
Label: BMG
Review by Martien Koolen

Slade Alive was originally released on 24 March 1972 and now 45 years later BMG brings out a Deluxe Edition of this spectacular album. Slade Alive was a very successful album for the band, staying in the UK Album Charts for 58 weeks and it was also their first LP which was in the English as well in the American charts. Slade Alive is definitely Slade’s best album as it has actually nothing to do with the commercial songs of Slade they later on released like e.g. Gudbuy t’Jane, Skweeze Me, Pleese Me or their utterly annoying Christmas hit Merry Xmas Everybody. Slade Alive features 7 tracks of which three are covers, namely Hear Me Calling (Ten Years After), Darling Be Home Soon (Lovin’ Spoonful) and Born To Be Wild, originally from Steppenwolf of course. The ballad Darlin’ Be Home Soon with excellent guitar work from Dave Hill, is mainly famous, probably even notorious, due to Noddy Holder’s belch during a quiet part of the song. Hear Me Calling was the opening song for a Slade concert since 1970 and Slade’s version is excellent with stunning guitar work and very weird noises by Holder. In Like A Shot From My Gun was never released as a studio recording by Slade so this hard rock track is a rather special song on this album. Know Who You Are was originally called Genesis and was released as a single from Slade’s album Beginnings. The song was an instrumental one and it flopped completely, then they wrote lyrics for that track and renamed it Know Who You Are. They released that new version again as a single and it flopped again…. But this live version of that song on Slade Alive is a good one as it is a decent straight forward hard rock song. Keep On Rocking is Slade’s rock and roll “tribute” to Chuck Berry and Little Richard and Holder is amazing on that one. Get Down And Get With It was the first success single for Slade and that one is in fact a really heavy remake of Bobby Marchan’s Get Down With It, a song from 1964! Nolder screams his lungs out in this Slade classic track and this live version is so much better than the studio one! Slade Alive ends with a heavy version, guitars galore, of Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild.
Slade Alive is their best album ever and Dave Hill said about this amazing album: “My memories of Slade Alive are based around the principle I hold dear to this day and the very reason I formed a band in the first place…live performance!! I believe Slade Alive is such a great album because it’s Slade ‘live on stage, at our very best! Our success was based on that album and the principle that we were a great live rock and roll band of our generation.”
Slade Alive DeLuxe Edition is available as CD with hardback cover and 28 page booklet or as 180g Vinyl LP with 6 page Booklet.

Martina EDOFF- "WE WILL ALIGN"


RATING: RRRR

LABEL: AOR HEAVEN

REVIEW BY: ALAN HOLLOWAY

A couple of years ago I was mightily impressed by Poodles co-founder Martina Edoff's second solo album 'Unity'. It was stuffed full of strong melodic hard rock songs that were brought alive by Edoff's powerful, tuneful vocals. 'Kick ass powerful melodic rock' weree my exact words on this here website, and I'm glad to say they still apply to album number three.

Previously she has worked with fellow Swedes H.E.A.T to write songs, and here she teams up that band's keyboard maestro Jona Tee, as well as the likes or Erik Martensson and Billy Sheeham amongst others. The result is another strong album, albeit one that is most definitely heavier than it's predecessor. For those that own said album, 'We Will Align' is generally more in the vein of 'Never Let You Down', perhaps the crunchiest track on 'Unity'. So we have songs here that have a good, hard backbone, as well as a few more melodic ones, but what pins it all down are Martina's vocals. Once again she belts out everything and has quite accurately been called an 'Angry Ann Wilson', as there's alot of grit involved. Don't get me wrong - I like it. It all gets a little toned down in the middle with the excellent power ballad 'Face The Mirror', and closer 'Brand New World' is a slower, more epic sounding tune, but apart from these it's hard rocking all the way.

Once again, Martina Edoff has delivered a strong album with no weak tracks, which will appeal to anyone who likes a bit of female fronted melodic rock, sort of like Issa with more balls to it. There's no operatic arsing about, no ten minute epics, just straightforward catchy tunes with a strong hard rock backing (not heavy metal). So here I am again telling people to check out a Martina Edoff album whilst giving it 4 out of 5 - I have absolutely no problem with that, and nor should you.

Official Site



NEWMAN - 'AERIAL'

RATING: RRRRr

LABEL: AOR HEAVEN

REVIEW BY: ALAN HOLLOWAY


Someone you know will always deliver a solid album is Steve Newman, better known in the rock world simply as Newman. 'Aerial' sees him eleven albums into what is ostensibly a solo career with a little help from his friends, and I can sincerely say he has yet to deliver a duffer to his fans. Multi talented and with a voice that's all his own, Newman can be seen as a person, a band or simply a sign of quality.

Quality is certainly the watchword of 'Aerial', as I am pretty confident in saying this may just be the best Newman release yet. A solid twelve tracks over fifty minutes, not an instant is wasted. Perhaps the best thing about it is the sheer amount of catchy melodies that are stuffed within, married to some crunchy riffs and plenty of smooth guital solos. Vocally, Newman has a distinct voice that is always solid and tuneful, and as usual all the right notes are hit in all the right places. The songs themselves are consistently of a high standard, and it doesn't take long for the likes of 'High Tonight (Aerial)' or 'Don't Wake The Lion' to get stuck in your head. It's great to realize that Newman can still write an insanely catchy chorus after all this time, and there's plenty to choose from here. There's even a song to sing to your other half (if yer a bloke), as 'I'm Your Man' has one of those choruses that will soothe a partner who has had to do the washing up you left in the sink AGAIN. Hmmmm... that might just be me...

It goes without saying tha fans of Newman will get a kick out of 'Aerial', but I must say that this is a perfect album to tempt in new followers, it's so well crafted and aimed straight between the eyes of the discerning melodic rock fan. A real selling point is that it's not interchangable with a dozen other AOR groups, as is so often the case. Another fine release from the Newman camp, 'Aerial' builds impressively on what has come before, cementing his place in the Premier League of the genre.

Official Site




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

LIONHEART - "SECOND NATURE"


RATING: RRRRr

LABEL: AOR HEAVEN

REVIEW BY:ALAN HOLLOWAY

When it comes to blasts from the past, hearing an album from Lionheart is like a barrel of TNT straight between the eyes. It was over 30 years ago that they released their only album, the much loved 'Hot Tonight', and like many others it's an album that I still enjoy today. Much like FM at Firefest, their appearance at the Rockingham Festival inspired them to reform and record new material, and as you can see from the high rating above it was a cracking idea.

There's a coupleof absentees from the original line up, although Guitarists Dennis Stratton and Steve Mann remain, as does Bassist Rocky Newton. Clive Edwards now warms the drum stool, whilst respetced covalist Lee Small takes centre stage. Thise who have heard Lee in the past will know what a good fit he is to this sort of AOR, and a safer pair of hands (and lips) is hard to imagine.

Openers 'Give me The Light 'and 'Angels With Dirty Faces' easily dispel any doubts the listener might have about the ability of the lads to knock up a sequel to a 33 year old album. Both have the same Lionheart vibe as 'Hot Tonight', containing beautiful melody backed up by bouncy keyboards and strong guitars. They set the 80s vibes twanging, and they remain for the whole album, as thankfully there's no attempt whatsoever to drag anything kicking and screaming anywhere. The third track is one that's got a bit of scrutiny, probably because it's a Chris De Burgh cover! Thankfully, it's not 'Lady In Red', but instead the already brilliant 'Don't Pay The Ferryman', and I'm genuinely impressed by the way Lionheart treat it with respect whilst also putting in enough touches tomake it their own version.

From these roots, the album grows and spreads it's melodic tendrils through your brain, meaning as soon as it finished you are hard pushed not to just put it straight back on again. Not counting the short, rather pointless intro there's 11 quality AOR tracks contained within, plus a dramatic outro that will most likely be skipped more often than not. Even at the arse end of the album the quality level is maintained by the likes of 'Heartbeat Radio' which sounds exactly like a song with that title should do, with a bouncy chorus and a brilliant guitar break in the middle. It's followed by a track that bears the band's name, and although it's a little heavier than most it's a fast paced belter of a track.

'Second Nature' will delight anyone who still loves the debut after all these years. Not only that, but anyone who likes melodic rock should check it out as it's a wonderful example of exactly what kind of delights the genre can produce. If Lionheart were once merely hot tonight, 'Second Nature' sees them go supernova.


Official facenbook Page





Friday, September 1, 2017

COASTLAND RIDE: ”Distance”

Rating: RRRR
Label: Avenue Of Allies Music
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

The album number three from Sweden’s Coastland Ride is their strongest effort so far. It’s still smooth AOR but there’s a new kind of intensity in these songs. In my review of their previous album I hoped that they ”stay away from the yacht and crank it up” and that’s what they’ve done! I’m not pretending that they’ve done it because I said so but I’m happy they did, for whatever reason.

The album kicks off with ”Winds”, a classy AOR song that has echoes of Toto and Journey in it. Layered vocals, strong chorus and enough crunch, I like it! The next highlight is ”Love Is On Your Mind”, a very Toto-influenced track but with a great chorus. With ”Dead For Seven Days” the band really crank it up and come up with an excellent, gritty melodic rocker.

”Eye Of The Storm” is a smoother, westcoast-style AOR song but it works for me, as does the dramatic ”Nation Of Grace”. It’s dark, pompous and epic, something that I can’t recall this band having attempted before.

The last highlight I want to mention is the closing track ”Reasons To Try”, which is a fine AOR track that reminds me a bit of Alien. One of the best tracks of this album no doubt, and I think this would be a good live track too.

www.coastlandride.net