Category Archives: Album Reviews

Scott MacIntyre Talks Christmas Album, New Music

MacIntyreShortly after his eighth place finish on American Idol in 2009 singer/songwriter Scott MacIntyre released an EP of Christmas music called “Christmas Angel.” Since that time, fans have been clamoring for a more full-length version of holiday themed material and MacIntyre’s new album, “Christmas In Paris” delivers the goods. His fresh take on traditional songs of the season combined with two original compositions (including the title track) is sure to become a part of holiday tradition.

2013 has been a big year for MacIntyre. In addition to the new Christmas album, he continues to speak around the country about his book “By Faith Not By Sight”, which tells his personal story about overcoming adversity. He’s also performed shows with the likes of The Band Perry, Jonas Brothers and Alice Cooper. MacIntyre even relocated from Arizona to Franklin, TN to be closer to the creative community and is in production for his next studio album with an anticipated Spring 2014 release.

I spoke to him about his music as well as his involvement with Donate Life America; an alliance of organizations and state teams across the U.S. committed to increasing organ, eye and tissue donation. Another subject that is near and dear to his heart.

What made you decide to do a Christmas album?

Shortly after I left Idol back in 2009, I did a Christmas EP that included my original song, “Christmas Angel”. Since then, my fans have been asking for one, so this is my first full-length Christmas album.

How did you determine which songs to include?

There are so many great Christmas songs, but in choosing material for the album I didn’t want to do anything that was too “surfacy”. I wanted to stay true to the melodies, but also wanted to dig into the atmosphere and sound scape of each song and create some really interesting textures.

Tell me a little about the title track, “Christmas In Paris”.

I wrote it with two amazing songwriters, Ryan Hydro and Aaron Steenhoven. Ryan was the one who came up with the title and as soon as I heard it, I knew it was going to be something that we could really dig into. Sure enough, once we started writing, we could all tell that it was going to be magical.

What can fans expect from your new album due next year?

The songs for the album will represent another arrival point for me. It’s been an incredible journey having the privilege of working with more amazing songwriters like Cindy Morgan, Steve Dean, Richie Fike and Kyle Lee. Every song on the new album relates to my story and I hope to everyone’s own story as well in some way. It’s going to be a very meaningful album. 

Let’s discuss your musical background.

I actually started messing around on the piano when I was almost two. I think because of my blindness and not being able to experience the world visually like other people do, I was drawn more to the world of sound. I was just fascinated by hearing the pure tone. Up until I was 15 everything that I played was classical, but I remember my Dad would drive me to school and on the way we’d listen to the pop music station on the radio. It was one of the first times that I was exposed to bands like Creed, Train, Vertical Horizon and Tool. I started picking up on patterns in the music and realized that what they were doing was pretty much the same as classical music. It was just represented differently. It was different from a symphony in that you didn’t have to guess it’s interpretation to understand the story. The words and melody were right there. From that point, I started to think that if I could tell stories with my gift, it could be something that everyone could relate to. It would be a powerful way to connect with people and I knew right then that it was the direction that I wanted to go.

ScottMacIntyre

Tell me about how you came to be involved with Donate Life America.

When I was 19, I found out that I had Stage 4 kidney failure. It was a scary time and I went through a lot of adversity trying to figure out what my future was going to be like. I eventually became so sick that I was unable to play piano in my own home. Music is like living and breathing to me, so it was pretty devastating. I was on dialysis three times a week for hours on end having a machine do what my kidneys couldn’t. Then in 2007, the wife of my former piano teacher from college donated her kidney and saved my life. Less than a year later, I auditioned for American Idol. I never really talked about any of it until my book came out last year, but I wanted to share that part of my story with people.

When I met the president of Donate Life (David Fleming), I was instantly drawn to the organization and what they do. It’s something that I can really stand behind because I would not be here today if it wasn’t for that life saving gift. It’s so easy to become an organ donor. It only takes a few minutes to designate yourself as one and what better gift is there than to be able to give the gift of life to the thousands of people who are waiting for life saving transplants.

 For more information on Donate Life America - Click Here!

And be sure to check out Scott MacIntyre’s Official Site and Facebook


Starship’s Mickey Thomas Talks “Loveless Fascination” and Remembers Guitarist Mark Abrahamian

LovelessFascinationAlthough it’s been more than 20 years since Starship’s last album of all-new material [1989's Love Among the Cannibals], the band’s latest release, Loveless Fascination, was certainly worth the wait.

Not only has vocalist Mickey Thomas been able to maintain his unique sound and range over the decades, but he’s added more of a thickness and growl to his vocals, allowing him to scream better than ever.

Produced by Jeff Pilson [Foreigner, T&N, Dokken], Loveless Fascination stays true to the band’s signature classic-rock sound, providing a much harder edge while taking Starship into the 21st century. I recently spoke with Thomas about working with Pilson on Loveless Fascination and a lot more.

Starship

GUITAR WORLD: It’s been nearly 25 years since your last studio album, Love Among the Cannibals, was released. Why the long wait?

I’ve started several projects during that time period, but for various reasons they never came to fruition. In order to make a really great record, you need to have a great team, and that means great songs, production, management and label. All of those elements never seemed to come together at the same time for us, but when this album came along everything just fell into place. I teamed up with Jeff Pilson, who’s not only a great producer, but also a great musician and songwriter. We instantly had this great chemistry and I realized this was the kind of Starship album we needed to make.

You can read the rest of my Guitar World interview with Mickey Thomas
by Clicking Here!

Little River Band Talks Amazing New Album, “Cuts Like A Diamond”

CutsLikeADiamondLittle River Band is showing no signs of slowing down. The band continues to perform up to ninety shows a year, bringing along its arsenal of radio hits that include “Take It Easy On Me”, “Cool Change” and “Reminiscing”. To date, Little River Band has scored 13 Top 30 Hits and has sold more than 30 million records.

“Cuts Like A Diamond” is the first disc of new original Little River Band material since 2003′s Test Of Time. For this project, the band went for a more west coast 80’s sound, while still embracing the harmony guitars, big vocals and contemporary feel they’re known for. The result is a well-produced album that’s easily on par with the rest of its classic catalog.

I spoke with bassist Wayne Nelson and guitarist Richard Herring about the new album and more.

What type of sound were you trying to go for with “Cuts Like A Diamond”?

Nelson:  The record label (Frontiers) approached us with a sound they had in mind. They wanted an 80′s AOR Little River Band album. There’s a wide range of material that the band has already done, and Rich gets a lot of credit for creating the landscape of this record. He’s a great producer and was in charge of the guitar parts and overdubs.

Herring: We strove to satisfy the label’s request for an 80’s production, but preserved the signature sound of LRB like big vocals and guitar harmonies. That’s what people think about when they think of Little River Band; the big vocals and high harmonies. That’s the key, and the guitars play a supporting role in that.

What was the writing process like?

Nelson: All of the songs came to me first, and the ones that moved the meter I sent to the record company’s ears. The road map was already in place so I knew where to aim for, but there were certainly some things about the 80′s that I wanted to leave behind, like reverbs that never end and the bad keyboard sounds [laughs].

Let’s talk about a few tracks from the album: Lost and The Lonely

Nelson: You can stack that song up against “Lonesome Loser” or some of the others, but that’s a Little River Band chorus. The interesting story was the original arrangement of the song had the uplifting chorus, but the verses were kind of dark and followed a different path. I remember asking the writers to change the verses to match the inspiration of the chorus and they came back the very next day with what you hear on the album. The video for the song is also powerful, especially considering the times we live in now. Those guys are defending people who are lost and lonely and can’t standup for themselves, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Who Speaks For Me

Nelson: The record label was concerned about the song’s subject nature at first, but I insisted we do it. It’s been a passion mine for years to try and do something to shed light on domestic abuse. When I started writing, I immediately thought of the kid alone in the dark and scared to death. The story just unfolded from there. A lot of people have asked if the message in the song was from personal experience. I tell them that it didn’t happen to me, but it’s happened to plenty of others and it was something I felt needed to be said.

Wayne, let’s discuss ‘Time Exposure’, which was the album right after you joined Little River Band.

Nelson: So much of the success and impact of that record came from George Martin (producer). When I joined the band, they were about ready to come apart at the seams. Four different people each wanted to take the band in four very distinctly different directions. No one was really getting along, and the band was literally being held together by its success. We all knew we had to do a record and suddenly, here comes the producer for the Beatles. George literally smoothed out the waters and got us through those six weeks to get the record out. We wound up getting three top tens out of it: Night Owls, Man On Your Mind and Take It Easy On Me.

left to right: Wayne Nelson, Ryan Ricks, Chris Marion, Rich Herring, Greg Hind

Little River Band (l to r: Wayne Nelson, Ryan Ricks, Chris Marion, Rich Herring, Greg Hind)

Rich, what’s your current set up like?

Herring: I’m using two class-a amps in stereo. They’re called New Vintage and were built in Minnesota by a guy named Nick Patullo. We were on a fly date using rented gear and they had some of Nick’s amps there. I remember playing through it and couldn’t believe how great it sounded. I bought one and started using it in stereo with my Matchless C-30. Later, I called Nick to see if he had a head version of the same thing. He told me that he didn’t have one, but he could build it! The one that he built me one sounded exactly the way I wanted it to. He didn’t have a name for it, so he decided to call it the RH-36. So I now have my own amp [laughs].

Now that the album is finished, what satisfies you the most?

Herring: It’s put new life into the show. It’s also an honor for me personally to play the old hits and deliver them night after night. I like to tell people that I get to play “Cool Change” every night, and I never get tired of it.

For More on Little River Band

Official Website: http://littleriverband.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littleriverband

Flood The Engine: Firehouse Guitarist Bill Leverty Discusses New Project

FloodTheEngineFirehouse guitarist Bill Leverty’s latest project, Flood The Engine is classic, melodic hard rock at its finest. Together with Keith Horne (bass), Andre LaBelle (drums) and Jimmy Kunes (vocals), Leverty’s managed to channel elements from many of his favorite guitarists while also adding his own personal flair, giving the album a much broader appeal.

In addition to the killer vibe this combination of players brings to their own original compositions, the eight track opus also includes two tasty renditions of mid-70′s gold: “All The Girls Are Crazy” (Back Street Crawler) and “Love Is Alive” (Gary Wright).

I sat down with Leverty to talk Flood The Engine and more.

What started the Flood The Engine project?

Keith Horne called me up one day and asked if I’d be interested in putting together a recording project. I knew that he had recently moved back to the area and doing anything that Keith’s involved with is a huge honor. I asked him who he had lined up for a drummer and he said Andre (LaBelle); who I’ve known since the early 80′s. Andre and I had always wanted to work together, but were both in different bands.

How did you hook up with Jimmy Kunes?

When we were looking for singers, I suggested him. Jimmy has elements of all of the great classic rock singers all rolled into one. When his vocal cords rub together, it sounds so good. Once we had all of the pieces in place, Jimmy came down on a train from New York City and we wrote and recorded the album.

How was writing for this album different from writing with Firehouse?

It’s kind of similar in some ways and different in others. Generally, I’d come up with a guitar riff and then send it off to Jimmy; or Andre, Keith and I would assemble a song instrumentally together and send it to Jimmy. Sometimes we’d give him an idea of what we had in mind, but we always gave Jimmy the freedom to do what he wanted to with his voice and lyrics. We wanted to make sure that everybody could put their own individual style into the project and then we’d showcase it all as a group.

FloodTheEngine1
Let’s talk about some songs on the album: “Lay It All On Me”.

That was the first song we wrote for this record. I had sent Jimmy a demo of some music with just a basic beat and a guitar riff. He immediately got some lyrics and a melody together. He also had an idea of what to use chord wise. In addition to being a phenomenal singer, he’s also a very accomplished guitarist.

“All Your Trouble”.

That one started with a guitar riff as well. I remember we had worked out the music and then Jimmy [with his creative mind] came in and just started scribbling down lyrics. To watch him work is amazing. He just has a pad of paper and a pen and scribbles like there’s a typewriter going off inside of his head and he’s just trying to keep up with it [laughs].

“Open And Undone”.

That song started out with Andre’s drum beat. He and I sat in a room together for a few hours and put together the music for it. The song has a simplistic rhythm, but a very unique beat. It creates such a perfect mood.  I remember Jimmy listened to it for a while and then had another scribble session where he got very spontaneous. It was another one of those things where we gave him a skeleton of a song and he just went to town on it.

In addition to six originals, you also have two covers on the album. ["All The Girls Are Crazy" & "Love Is Alive"]. Was there a reason why you chose those particular songs?

Jimmy and I had recorded a version of All The Girls Are Crazy” together a few years ago. He and I have a common ground appreciation of Paul Kossoff, and that song in particular was one of our favorites. What Andre and Keith added to it was awesome.

Keith was the one who mentioned that he had always wanted to do a version of “Love Is Alive” and it was the perfect suggestion. I remember hearing that song when it first came out and thinking what a great tune it was. People who hear it today can still identify with it lyrically and the melody works so well with Jimmy’s voice and soulful delivery. It’s such a unique song and it also gives Keith a chance to shine as well.

What gear are you using for your live rig now a days?

I’m using a Fractal Audio Axe Fx II. I go from that direct into a monitor console and straight into the front house PA. It’s a two rack space unit that you plug into. It has over a hundred different amp and speaker cabinet combinations along with every rack effect you can imagine. So it can be used to sound like any amp you want. I’ve actually sold nine of my amps since I’ve gotten it. It’s the greatest thing that’s happened to the electric guitar since the pickup.

What satisfies you the most about Flood The Engine?

The goal of this project was to put together an album that we all felt good about.  For me, being able to get together with these guys was an honor, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of the process.

For More On Flood The Engine:

Official Website:  http://floodtheengine.com/

Flood The Engine Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FloodTheEngine

Vocalist John Elefante Discusses New Solo Album, Video and Kansas

ElefanteCoverSince the mid 1980′s, John Elefante has been forging his own path as a multi-award winning vocalist, producer and member of the band Mastedon. Elefante and his brother, Dino also founded the popular Sound Kitchen studio which became a hot spot for artists like Buddy Guy and Bruce Springsteen.

But Elefante is perhaps best known for his tenure as lead vocalist for the band Kansas in the early 80′s, contributing (among other things) the guitar driven song “Fight Fire With Fire” while performing alongside guitarists Richard Williams and Kerry Livgren.

Fans of the Kansas sound will be delighted to discover that Elefante’s new solo album, “On My Way to the Sun” showcases Williams’ guitar work (along with Kansas violinist David Ragsdale) on the roller coaster track “This Is How The Story Goes.” The album also features the song, “This Time” which Elefante wrote about his adopted daughter who was nearly aborted. The video for the song has since gone viral on You Tube.

I spoke with Elefante about his latest album and video. We also discuss how he joined Kansas and his most memorable moment with the band.

Tell me a little about the making of On My Way To The Sun.

The record industry has changed so much over the past few years that for this project I decided to hook up with Kickstarter. The cool thing about it is, your fans don’t give you money apprehensively. They’re glad to be a part of the project and that really inspired me. It was a team effort and I really wanted to deliver the best record I could.

You have Dave Cleveland doing a brunt of the guitar work on this record. What’s it like working with him?

Dave Cleveland is one of the most underrated guitar players in the world. He’s carved out a niche in the Christian market and is the go to guitar player for any style of music. I can’t say enough about him. He’s the most imaginative guy I’ve ever worked with.

Tell me how you recruited Kansas members Rich Williams and Dave Ragsdale for the song “This is How The Story Goes”.

Originally, I had sent the song to Phil Ehart (drums) and asked him if he’d like to play on it. Phil loved the song, but couldn’t commit because of a scheduling conflict. That’s when I decided to send it to Rich. He loved the song and then sent it to Dave, who also wanted to be a part of it. You have to admit, for a song that sounds a lot like Kansas by nature it becomes even more validated when you have a few of the guys in the band playing on it [laughs]. I really wanted one roller-coaster ride of a song that takes you on a journey, and this one was it.

What was the inspiration behind the song, “This Time”?

I wrote that song from a very honest point of view. It’s based on the true story of how my daughter came into the world. She was almost aborted and thank God she wasn’t. I was literally writing two lines at a time and singing it when I wrote it. The song just flowed line by line.

Were you aware of the controversial nature of the song as you wrote it?

When I sat down to write, there was never any intention of me writing a pro-life or anti-abortion song. But in telling the story, I had to write about how she almost didn’t come into the world. When you put the visual to it from the video, all of that stuff suddenly comes into play. The first week we had over 100,000 views. Comments on it were both good and bad, but that’s to be expected. People are passionate on both sides. But I believe in the sanctity of life, and this is my side of the story.

Tell me how you got into Kansas.

I was out in California trying to score a record deal when I heard that the singer in Kansas had left the band. So I called up my attorney and asked him what he thought about trying to get my demo to those guys. He says “Done”. I said “What do you mean, ‘done’?” Apparently, the attorney for Kansas was literally right in the next office. So my attorney walked my demo over to their attorney [laughs]. Next thing you know, I’m hearing from their manager. Everything all came together.

Kansas was one of the biggest bands back then. What was it like going to the “big time”?

Everything was happening so fast that I didn’t really have much time to think about it. I was concentrating on getting songs on the new record and putting my best vocal performances forward. Then, we immediately started rehearsing for a tour.

Elefante

Can you tell me the origin and meaning behind the song “Fight Fire With Fire”?

My parents had converted their garage into a studio and my brother and I used to spend hours and hours there. That’s where we wrote it. I think the whole song came together in about 45 minutes. The message behind it is “I’m not going to be a wimp about what I believe. I’m going to stand up and fight fire with fire”. It’s kind of the world we live in. Whenever the band plays it live now, they dedicate to the military, which is awesome. Everyone’s fighting for some kind of cause.

What’s your best memory of being in Kansas?

I remember we played this all day event in Hershey, Pennsylvania. It was in a big stadium and there were probably around 50,000 people there. It was us and bands like Journey and REO Speedwagon. We were going on right as the sun was going down; the perfect time. I remember feeling like there was a competition going on, and I wanted to show everyone that Kansas was the best band there. Everything was perfect and the band was so on. I’ll never forget that day.

For more on John Elefante, check out his official website by clicking here!

Guitar World: Lita Ford Discusses Her New Live Album, Gear and More

LitaLiveFollowing the success of her true comeback album, 2012’s Living Like a Runaway, Lita Ford took to the stage at LA’s Canyon Club to record a live performance as a gift to her fans.

The result is The Bitch is Back…Live, the new album from the reigning queen of hard rock and heavy metal.

In addition to live material from her latest studio release, The Bitch is Back also digs deep into Ford’s catalog, showcasing songs from Out for Blood, Dancin’ on the Edge and 1988′s monster album, Lita.

Ford is hard at work on her biography [set for release in 2014] as well as becoming an advocate for Parental Alienation Awareness. I recently spoke with her about the live album, her current setup and an encounter she once had with Led Zeppelin.

GUITAR WORLD: What made you decide to do this live album?

It was kind of spur of the moment. After we did the tour with Def Leppard and Poison [in 2012], I really wanted to give something back. So we jumped into this club in LA, mic’d up the room and recorded it. It’s really a gift to the fans. Everything came together like magic and I’m very happy with it.

Lita Ford (Photo: Kitty Rossander)

Lita Ford (Photo: Kitty Rossander)

Check out the rest of my Guitar World interview with Lita Ford by Clicking Here.

Exhale: Vocalist Nick Coyle Discusses Stardog Champion

Stardog Champion: Exhale

Stardog Champion: Exhale

You can call it getting back to their roots or just things coming full circle, but in either case, we the listening public get to reap the benefit.

After a bitter split from Breaking Benjamin and the litigation that followed, guitarist Aaron Fink and bassist Mark James have reunited with vocalist Nick Coyle to form Stardog Champion.

The trio, who once formed the nucleus of the band Lifer have also added drummer Josh Karis to the mix and now bring us Exhale; a collection of deeply cultivated songs with a sound that longs to be turned up to ten.

Produced by Grammy-nominated Neal Avron (Switchfoot, Everclear, Linkin Park), Exhale is a tasty alternative rock opus that features the infectious single and video “When We Fall”.

The band is currently gearing up for a fall tour and also has plans to return to the studio. I spoke with Coyle about the new album as well as his musical upbringing and more in this exclusive interview.

How did this project come about?

Aaron, Mark and I were in a band called Lifer back in 2000 on Universal. It was what they [Aaron and Mark] did prior to Breaking Benjamin. We all remained close friends over the years and recently got together and started writing some songs. After a few months, we decided to bring Josh on board, turn it into a band and give it a name.

Where did the name Stardog Champion come from?

Stardog Champion is actually the name of a Mother Love Bone song. We were shooting a bunch of different names around, but pretty much every band name you can think of has been taken. So we made a list of names and started crossing them off. Stardog Champion was a different sounding name that we all liked.

Stardog Champion

Stardog Champion (l to r): Mark James, Nick Coyle, Aaron Fink, Josh Karis

What was the songwriting process like?

For me, it all starts with a melody. I’ll hear a melody and usually a lyric within that melody will start forming and I’ll work out an idea around it. I let the vibe of the song dictate where the lyrics go. Sometimes, it’s just me and Mark in a room coming up with a riff. “Aphrodite” is an example of a song we brought to the band. Other times, someone will bring in their own completed idea. “Nothing to Lose” and “House of Cards” were two of Aaron’s songs. Then there are some songs that we all collaborate on that start out as jams.

What’s the origin behind “When We Fall”?

It started out as a riff I was hearing in my head one morning last summer. I then went to my acoustic and figured out the crazy hammer on/pull off riff I was imagining. It just sort of came out. Lyrically it’s about a breakdown in communication. For the video, we were going for a performance video with some strange projections. Then we tossed around the idea of adding some lovely young ladies to the mix. Threw them in some creepy ass masks and….voila! Video! [laughs].

Then there’s “The Switch”.

“The Switch” was a song that I originally brought in. The song is basically about good vs evil; fear and comfort. The verses represent the “dark” things in life and choruses the “light”. Lyrically, it was one of easier songs I’ve written. That was another song that just sort of came out.

What’s your live setup like?

We’re using Gibson, Ernie Ball/Music Man guitars along with Hughes and Kettner and Randall heads. Aaron’s always switching up his effects pedals, but some of his staples are a POG and an H&K Rotosphere.

Tell me a little about your musical background.

Growing up, my dad and uncle were in a band so I was always around rehearsals. I started playing when I was around 12 and joined a band as a lead singer a year later. We went into the studio and cut a cassette tape demo and started playing in bars and clubs. I’ve been doing it ever since.

When you were with Lifer, you had an album produced by Alex Lifeson of RUSH. What was that experience like?

It was amazing. He’s a rock legend, but for as big as he is there is no ego on him. He’s the most down to earth super-cool guy you’d ever want to meet. It’s cool to see someone at that level not let all the success and fame go to his head. He was just like one of the guys.

What are you most looking forward to now?

At this point we’re really looking forward to taking it out on the road and getting the real reaction.

For more on Stardog Champion, check out their Facebook page by Clicking Here!

Album Review: Steve Lukather – Transition

TransitionOn his new album, “Transition” Steve Lukather paints a rich tapestry of sonic art and blends his brush (in this case, guitar) into a refreshing blend of blues, jazz, pop, rock and standard from his colorful musical palette.

Lukather is a five-time Grammy Winner and a personal guitar hero of mine. He’s worked with Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Zakk Wylde, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton. He’s also co-led Toto through every twist and turn of the band’s platinum lined history and has played on albums by Michael Jackson, Warren Zevon, Aretha Franklin, Roger Waters, Cheap Trick and other rock and pop royalty.

In addition to preparing dates to support the new CD, Lukather is also set to embark on an Australian tour with Ringo Starr and his All-Star band as well as scheduling dates for a Toto 35th Anniversary Tour.

Lukather sees ‘Transition’ as a turning point for himself. “As we were writing the songs” he says, “I was thinking about everything I’ve seen: all the people I’ve lost in my life, the great and the difficult experiences I’ve had, and how ultimately it was time to get it together and embrace things for what they are, because we’ve only got one life to live and we’ve got to make the most of it. I’ve got a lot to be thankful for, and now is a perfect time for me to take stock of that, which is part of what ‘Transition’ is about.”

Written with long time friend and keyboardist CJ Vanston, “Transition” is an album that delves deep into the psyche of the human persona, with contributions from artists that run the full spectrum of music. Among them: Gregg Bissonette, Fee Waybill (The Tubes), Nathan East (Fourplay), Richard Page (Mister Mister), and Phil Collen (Def Leppard). Expect nothing less than Luke’s tasty guitar wizardy combined with strong vocals and thought-provoking lyrics.

Highlights for me:

“Judgement Day”, a song that emphasizes the tabloid world we live in:

We can read the lies you write for all the world to see. The reflection in the mirror shows it’s you, but you blame me.
— Judgement Day

“Right The Wrong”;  a haunting song (and my personal favorite) that also brings with it a message of hope. Because when you think about it, we really are the future and the past. We’ve got to make it last.

I’m tired of waiting for the world to end. We can’t let it disappear.
— Right The Wrong

“Do I Stand Alone” has a catchy country flair to it and a song that is radio ready.

Don’t Try To Take Away My Freedom
Don’t Try To Take Away My Voice
— Do I Stand Alone

The final track, “Smile” is Luke’s take on a Charlie Chaplin standard from 1936 and a song dedicated to his Mother. A fitting end and apropos title if you ask me, as it was something I found myself doing quite a bit of when the album was over.

‘Back From The Dead’ : Steven Adler Delivers A True Rock Masterpiece

Every once in a while an album comes along that reminds you of what true rock and roll is really all about. For me, that album is Adler’s ‘Back From The Dead’. I’m also willing to go out on a limb and say that drummer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Steven Adler’s new album is the best hard rock album of 2012 and maybe even longer. Yes, it’s THAT good!

Adler’s past may be riddled with personal and emotional demons from his days with Guns N’ Roses and the various incantations of Adler’s Appetite, but this new chapter in his musical book of spells thankfully leaves all of that behind. Along with the top musicianship of Jacob Bunton (vocals/guitars), Lonny Paul (guitars) and Johnny Martin (bass), Steven’s drumming has never sounded better.

Producer Jeff Pilson (T&N/Foreigner/Dokken), also deserves credit for crafting one of the finest rock records in years. One that real rock fans (like me) have been craving for a long, long time. From the acoustic opening of the title track to ‘the anthem message of ‘Dead Wrong’, there is not one weak track on ‘Back From The Dead’. Even Rob Zombie guitarist John 5 contributes a face melting solo on the song ‘Good To Be Bad’. It doesn’t get much more rock than that.

For me though, the strongest track  is “Just Don’t Ask”. With an amazing classical guitar intro by Bunton and a guest solo by Adler’s fellow GnR band mate Slash, the song should easily become a hit on mainstream rock radio.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Steven Adler and get his thoughts on the new band as well as his Hall of Fame Induction. For Steven Adler, the best is yet to come!

goJimmygo (gJg): What started this new project?

Steven Adler (SA): I was doing Adler’s Appetite playing the GnR songs and I just felt that it was time to be relevant again. All of my friends are out there playing music and touring and I want to be a part of that. I had so many different trials and tribulations with the drugs and with the people and family. For this project, I decided to just let everybody go and start fresh.

I did a lot of work on myself; my heart and my brain. It took a lot of healing. I had so much help from my guitar player, Lonny Paul. He got me back into shape; picking me up every morning and going to work out at the gym in his house. He really pushed me. Lonny also did much of the leg work for this project. I’m just glad that whatever I did was the right thing to bring these people into my life. I feel so blessed.

gJg: What was it like writing and recording the album?

SA:  It was so fun and exciting to make it. I don’t think a band has ever high-fived each other as many times as we did. It was magic! We did it more now with this album than I did with the GnR guys doing Appetite.

gJg: Your drumming has never sounded better.

SA: I actually took drum lessons again for a year before starting to work on this project. I want to be the best I can be in what I do. It’s not just a job for me. It’s my career and it’s my life. It’s who I am. I can’t help it. I enjoy me. I look in the mirror and see a few scars, but I like myself.

gJg: This album is one of the strongest rock albums in years. From start to finish, every song is memorable.

SA: When I was growing up, you would put on a KISS record or a UFO or Aersosmith record and listen to it from the first song through the last song. It’s been so long since a band has put out a record like that.

gJg: You can hear a lot of influences on the album: Dokken, GnR, Journey, Aerosmith, Def Leppard.

SA: That’s exactly what we all wanted. Every song has influences from all of those bands we loved.

What was it like working with Slash again?

SA: It was wonderful. Just to have him be proud enough and believe in me enough again after all of the things that have happened. I have to prove myself every second of every day and it got to where I’ve proved myself enough for Slash to be happy and want to be a part of this record. It feels great that we have such a history together. I really care about what he thinks and feels about me.

gJg: Do you plan to take tour?

SA: Absolutely. It’s all about touring. Some people are built for just recording and some are built for touring and meeting people. We’re those guys; we’re built for playing live.

Adler (l to r): Lonny Paul, Steven Adler, Jacob Bunton, Johnny Martin

gJg: Do you have a funny story about your Appetite For Destruction days?

SA: We were touring with The Cult and it was our last show in New Orleans. Usually, what happens is the headlining band will do something to the opening band (assuming they like them). With us, they had the road crew come out and take my drum set apart piece by piece, so I was just sitting there with the snare drum.

So after that (which was something they weren’t expecting), we all put towels around our waists and our heads and I filled this cup with mayonnaise, mustard, raw eggs and relish. I went skipping out on the stage and smashed the cup on top of Ian Astbury’s head. He started chasing me around the stage and ripped my towel off and I was naked underneath. I tell you what, after being naked in front of 10,000 people, it takes a hell of a lot to embarrass me now. [laughs]

gJg: How was your experience being inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

SA: It was the experience of my life and the best way to end that chapter of my life. It would have been cool if the whole band was there but that’s when I realized that it will never happen. There was always a part of me in my heart and soul that had a little belief, but after that, it would never happen. Let me tell you though, it was relief! It was a pain in the ass just wondering and worrying. I’m just glad that I got to work with those guys and that I was a part of the GnR legacy.

gJg: So ‘Back From The Dead’ is a fresh start?

SA: Every musician, their goal in life is to play music that people love and I’ve accomplished my goal. I was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and left that chapter of my life and those people in the past. Good and bad, I’ve loved and am thankful for that chapter. I’m thankful that I SURVIVED that chapter and am able to have a second chapter. I want to start fresh and become relevant again.

Article first published as ‘Back From The Dead’ : Steven Adler Delivers A True Rock Masterpiece on Technorati.

Guest Post: Jimi Jamison’s “Never Too Late” Review

Today we do a little something different on goJimmygo. Jim and I, Kat from Kat’s Theory of Music, thought it would be a kick to both review the same album, but guest post on each other’s blog. We have been anticipating the release and have been pushing each other to do the review. In the end we decided to both do it. The CD to be reviewed is “Never Too Late” by Jimi Jamison.

Jimi Jamison, is best known as the frontman of Survivor, Cobra and Target, as well as a veteran solo artist. This latest album, released through Frontiers Records, was written expressly for him by Swedish wunderkind Erik Martensson. As a member of the European groups Eclipse and W.E.T., Martensson has gained a reputation as the go-to guy when you want your record to be well written, well produced and basically, well done.

Full disclosure: Jim and I are both fans of Jamison and we’ve had the pleasure of meeting him on more than one occasion. If this album was really bad…well I don’t think either of us would be writing the review. But it’s good, real good. I haven’t read a bad review of it. With that being said, it’s still fun to break it down track by track. Since Jim is a musician, his take on it will be different from what I absorb as a writer/music lover only. So read my review, then jump over to my blog and read Jim’s.

Here we go:

Everybody’s Got A Broken Heart: Bang…right out of the gate. Great tempo. Martensson has created a huge wall of sound. After listening to the album a few times, the one word I feel defines his producing technique is precision. Clean, clearly defined producing…it seems every note, every riff is thought through. This opening track is well put together, the vocal suits Jamison to a tee. It would be hard to find a reason not to like this song or why it’s not in the running to be released as a single down the road.

The Great Unknown: The opening notes of this song remind me a bit of Survivor’s “Can’t Give It Up.” But then Jamison voice explodes into all grit and fire…time to catch a ride. I’ve always enjoyed listening to how he interprets a vocal…this is a really nice example. The song itself has a great hook, from start to the real fun ending, it’s all good.

Never Too Late: Ultimate uplifting song. Caution: you will have the chorus in your head all day. Along with a great video, it has a great vocal, great hook, it’s just an overall spot-on balance of vocal and music production. Good choice as a first release, as it’s easily the most commercially viable song on the album. Has everything a hit should have…getting airplay is another thing.

Can’t Turn Back: If this was the 80’s, this song would be blaring out of radio stations non-stop. In this, Martensson has written a song for Jamison that plays to his strong suit…a ballad where he bounces between power vocal and marked restraint. Great haunting fadeout to the song.

Street Survivor: An electronic start into a rock anthem. It’s an interesting insertion to the CD. The rest of the album focuses mainly on the love found/love lost theme, with a few inspirational tracks thrown in, and I guess this might fit into the inspiration group, but it gives me the feel of one of Survivor’s finer songs, “Rebel Son.” The feeling of doing what you need to take on the world. A gutsy and strong rocker.

The Air That I Breathe: More of a traditional ballad, it starts with a easy feel and clear vocal before letting Jimi’s vocal chops shine through. Former Survivor bandmate Jim Peterik once commented about Jamison’s range when he’s really zoned in. He called it the Jamison yodel. As he hits some of the notes in “The Air I Breathe”, you can hear the yodel in full force. A real nice ballad.

Not Tonight: “Someday I might miss you, but not tonight.” Yeah, so who wasn’t felt that way. An underlying infusion of pop, but you can’t beat the chorus. The only issue I have on the album’s production is the backing vocals on this track. And honestly, that’s a little picky. The second half of the song sees the backing vocals become a little heavy handed. That being said, it’s still one of my favorite songs on the album.

Calling the Game: Although I’m sure it was his intent, but the writer in me hears a few too many clichés in Martensson’s lyrics. Musically, the song works. It’s well paced, catchy and Jamison’s vocal brings it all together.

Bullet in the Gun: Beginning with a beautiful piano intro, it quickly jump starts into full rocker mode. Interesting reverb ending creates and eerie fadeout….really well done.

Heaven Call Your Name: Haunting is the only word I can use to describe this. Jamison fully interprets the pain of loss. The stripped down organ intro only fuels the desperation of the lyrics. The kind of song where after you hear it you think…whoa. The use of Jamison’s younger daughter on background vocals adds to the ethereal quality; adding a female voice really provides the perfect sensitivity.

Walk On (Wildest Dreams): No doubt right from the start, this one is gonna punch it out. It finishes off the album repeating the theme of reaching for more in your life. A strong end to what is one fine album. As a whole, there isn’t a bad track on the album. Everything that was promised by having Erik Martensson command the project, was delivered. There is a reason he works non-stop on successful projects, one after another…he’s that good. To write an entire album where the material so acutely matches the singers’ ability is not an easy thing to do. To further produce and play most of the instruments, and not lose sight of the big picture is brilliant.

But aside from having good material and an intuitive producer, you still need the guy to deliver the goods. After all these years, Jimi Jamison is still at the top of his game. The voice has naturally morphed into a richer tone. And while he can still hit the high notes, as a singer he has learned that phrasing and reserve creates a much more solid and interesting vocal. In other words, he still rocks and rocks hard. If melodic rock is your passion, give in to the desire and buy the album. It’s exciting as all hell.

For Jim’s review, go to Kat’s Theory of Music

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