Reviews roundup – The Rockabellas vs. The Gentle Storm vs. simakDIALOG vs. Civilian
Best known for their stirring performances on the vintage circuit, The Rockabellas have taken a different step on their new CD, performing all new material. Yes. that’s right. There are no Andrew Sisters retreads here, instead some delightful pop, with their trademark harmonies.
And Sarah Lindsey, Pippa Gearing and Lizzie Deane have done a bang up job, bringing their music up to date, but with enough retro sounds to ensure that long term fans don’t feel left out.
They still swing with the best of them on songs like ‘The Good Old Days’ and ‘Hot Shot’, and this is a real treat, but here’s hoping they don’t leave their time machine all together.
THE GENTLE STORM
I’ve been looking forward to this one, ever since it was announced. With former The Gathering vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen alongside Arjen Anthony Lucassen, founder and leader of Star One, Ayreon, Guilt Machine, Ambeon and many others, this brought two of my favourite things together.
On this edition, all the tracks are performed twice. First of all you get acoustic folk versions on CD1, then full blown rawk versions on CD2. Now you won’t be surprised to learn that it’s the latter that takes my fancy, as on first listening I didn’t really take to the first disc.
It may well have been better served the other way around, though, because once I’d heard the full versions, I went back and better appreciated the first offerings. Musically, it’s ver much the Arjen show, as a lot of the songs could easily have fitted onto other projects, but with the excellent vocals of Anneke on display, songs like ‘The Greatest Love’, ‘Shores of India’ and Brightest Light’ really shine.
As always, Arjen doesn’t disappoint, and this is another worthy entry in his catalogue.
Live At Orion
Time for some Indonesian jazz fusion. Yes. really. If you’re someone who follows the excellent Moonjune records, you’ll know all about them, and this live set saw Riza Arshad (Fender Rhodes electric piano), Tohpati (guitar), Rudy Zulkarnaen (bass), Endang Ramdan (Sundanese kendang percussion), Erland Surwardana (Sundanese kendang percussion), and Cucu Kurnia (assorted metal toys percussion), really showing off, with special guest Beledo on guitar for a few tracks.
And across the two discs there are some remarkable performances, all largely based around the classic seventies jazz fusion idiom, albeit with their own Indonesian influences never too far away. So if you are a fan of Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and even Miles Davis in his late sixties style, then you’ll find a lot to love on tune such as ‘For Once And Never’ and ‘Lain Parentina’.
Best of all is the eighteen minutes plus spent in the company of ‘This Spirit’ where all the musicians get to show just how good they are.
Sausage Orphans SonicRendezvous
Finally, for today, it’s off to Hasselt, Belgium for some Flemish metal.
Civilian are the band in question, and they’ve certainly got some potential. For sure, they’re not doing anything new musically, as they mix up Motorhead style hard rock with some eighties thrash and a soupcon of modern metal.
But they can write a good tune, have some chantalong choruses and a heap of attitude, which is very enjoyable. Metalheads will take to ‘Love In The Moshpit’, ‘Stars Tonight’ and ‘C.E.O.’, although the least said about their Guiness Book of Records attempt on ‘The Second’, the better. Leave that to Napalm Death, folks.