Reviews roundup – Roxxcalibur vs. Zora Young vs. Kelly Richey vs. Catalina Shortwave
Gems of the NWOBHM
Muthas, Lords and Gems! Huzzah!. Where were you in ’79 when the dam began to burst? Me? I was wearing denim, wearing leather, running down to the front. Which means the latest album from German NWOBHM worshippers Roxxcalibur is right up my street.
Mainly because I remember most of these bands, even if I don’t remember the songs. That’s because I went to every shitty metal gig imaginable betwwen 1980 and 1982, so the likes of Dundee band Satan’s Empire are familiar to the 15 year old me. Sigh.
Vocalist Alexx Stahl, guitarists Kalli and newbie Holger Goater, bassist Mario Lang and drummer Neudi have dug deep for some of the songs here, and it’s great to hear ‘Paper Chaser’, originally by Taurus, as well as songs from Mythra, Split Beaver and Fist. A point deducted for including a Budgie track, even if they were bandwagon jumping around the time of “If Swallowed, Do Not Induce Vomiting”, but that aside, this is absolutely essential listening for anyone with an interest in the NWOBHM.
ZORA YOUNG w/ Little Mike & The Tornadoes
After that moment of metal thrashing mad memories, here’s some blues from Zora Young in the company of Little Mike and the Tornados to calm me down. Now, those of you of a certain age, will get a moment of deja vu when they look at the cover, but it’s not a retread of the Beano album.
Nope, it’s a well performed set of originals and covers, with the former coming from the pen of Little Mike. The covers see them plucking songs from the Howlin’ Wolf and Otis Spann repertoire with the latters ‘Country Girl’ seeing pianist Jim McKaba putting on an amazing show.
Ms Young is a great singer, and with Little Mike Markowitz on harmonica, Tony O Melio on guitar, the aforementioned Jim McKaba, Brad Vickers on bass, drummer Rob Piazza and horns from Rick Johnson and Gary Smith, this is a blues lovers delight.
We don’t mention the age of a lady in these pages, but Kelly Richey has been performing for 35 years now, taking in 4000 plus shows and, yet, she is still somewaht unknown. Which is shameful, because her take on the blues is always a pleasure. And this new album is no exception.
Of course, it helps that she is a fantastic singer as well, and some of the performances here are the best she’s ever laid down. She’s on the blues rock side of things, and for fans of the genre, this should be an immediate purchase.
This is her sixteenth album, and it’s chock full of rockin’ the blues delights, with my early favourites encompassing ‘You Wanna Rock’, ‘Lies’ and ‘Afraid To Die’, with the latter probably the best thing she has ever recorded. Do yourself a favour and check out Kelly Richey immediately. You won’t regret it.
Radio Voodoo: Songs From The Dark End Of The Dial
Finally, for today, we’re off to Connecticut to meet Catalina Shortwave, a band who hark back to the good old days of rock, with a few jam band licks hither and thither. In places, they get a bit indie for my liking, but they always manage to reel things back, just in time.
They also manage to head off in vaguley nu-prog directions, no more so than on ‘Darkstar’, where they throw every trick in the book in. It also helps that vocalist David Rizzo has a great voice, one that deserves to be heard in the wider world.
It’s got a great production, which really showcases the guitars, and it’s nice to hear a band not afraid to go exploring in their quest for a unique identity. One that is well worth checking out.