Reviews roundup – Fair Warning vs. Elles Bailey vs. Docker’s Guild vs. Forest Field vs. CranstoN
Pimp Your Past
Steamhammer / SPV
Studio album number eight from the German melodic metal outfit and one that sees the current lineup “reimagining” songs from their first three albums ‘Fair Warning’, ‘Rainmaker’ and ‘Go!’, which came out between 1992 to 1997. And it’s a bit cheeky considering they’ve only actually released seven albums in twenty four years.
However, they seem to think the same, hence the title, fully aware that this only exists because their Japanese record company paid for it. That also means it’s been out in Japan for a couple of months now so die hard fans will already have it.
The opening track, with its fuzzy bass intro, launches into a hair metal tinged blast and safe to say that the vocals are as clear, clean and strong as ever.
Equally strong, ‘One Step Closer’ is more melodic initially, and features some blistering guitar work. To be honest, at first listen, it’s not hugely different from the original material. Granted, the production is more in your face but as Tommy Heart has managed to retain his vocal prowess there’s nothing lost on that front. Repeated plays highlight a few different arrangements, so when you listen closely to the likes of “Out On The Run” and a beefed up “Burning Heart” then you’ll pick up on some nuances.
There are a couple of complete reworks with “Rain Song” the most obvious and if you have come to Fair Warning late in life then you’ll fins a lot to enjoy here. However resurrecting the PG Tips chimps is unforgiveable.
The Elberton Sessions
Hot on the heels of her debut EP ‘Who Am I To Me’ and Bristol bluestress Elles Bailey is back with a brand new six track offering. And it’s very good indeed.
I’m old and don’t excite easily but it’s safe to say that Miss Bailey is probably the best new bllues prospect in the last decade and this latest set only goes to confirm that. For sure, there are plenty of people out there who can sing. But there are not that many who can write songs with such an immediate impact.
And as with her debut there isn’t a bum note on offer here. Her take on the blues has a modern feel to it without sacrificing the feel and emotion of the genre, something that too many modern blues performers forget about. Take a listen to songs as good as “Wildfire”, “Perfect Storm” and “Barrel Of Your Gun” and you’ll be left in no doubt either.
Make sure you get a copy of this sharpish and keep an eye out for her and her band touring the UK in October before linking up with Wille & The Bandits on part of their tour.
The Heisenberg Diaries Book A: Sounds Of Future Past
Well this is quite mad. As befits a prog metal space opera project which will apparently unfold through five seasons and nine albums. Yes, really.
It’s the brainchild of Douglas R. Docker and the catchily titled ‘The Heisenberg Diaries Book A: Sounds Of Future Past’ is, apparently. one of a series of four transitional albums placed in between the five main seasons. And for reasons inexplicable it’s a covers album of sci-fi themes from TV and film. Which will which make a lot of fanboys very happy indeed.
He’s a well known session musician so has been able to use his contacts book to good effect and pulled in some extremely talented contributors. All of whom are women. Which will excite the fanboys even more. So there is room for the likes of Elize Ryde (Amaranthe), Amanda Somerville (Avantasia etc), Nita Strauss (Alice Cooper), my teenage crush Roxy Petrucci (Vixen) and more besides.
Musically, it’s a real blast as they power their way through music from Space 1999, Flash Gordon, The Neverending Story, Doctor Who, Dune and other classics of the genre. The two longest pieces are the actually the best on offer as you can kick back and get drawn into the “Flash Gordon Suite” and the “Dune Suite”. Granted, his own vocals don’t match that of his guests but the balance between prog and metal is judged beautifully and the album works superbly.
It’s a mentalist concept, completely over the top and one of my favourite albums of the year.
Not to be confused with Peter Cox from Go West, this Peter Cox is the one from melodic rock meets progsters Chinawhite. And “Angels?” is the third album from his other project Forest Field.
It continues his collaboration with American vocalist Phil Vincent and sees Cox writing all the songs and playing all the instruments. It’s also a bit of a mixed bag as it moves from instrumental melodic prog to out and out AOR, so the jump from tunes like “Lovers Lane” to the Journey styled title track is quite a big one to make.
And it’s the latter style that is most enjoyable on the likes of “The Zoo” and “Angel With A Dirty Face”, songs that make you wish the whole album had ended up like that. So you’re left with an album of two halves, one of which is for prog fans and one of which is for melodic rock fans. It’s a bit of a shame because he’s definitely a talented musician.
And on the subject of Phil Vincent, here he is again. Now someone did the arithmetic and it seems that 2015 saw six albums released with his vocals on them. So he likes to keep himself busy.
And CranstoN sees him joining up with melodic rock legend Paul Sabu, who also takes care of all the instruments (bar drums) and the production. So it’s no real surprise to learn that this is an album of retro sounding melodic classic rock. Because that’s what Paul Sabu does.
If you’re the kind of persons who yearns for the likes of classic Aerosmith and Foreigner, albeit with a harder edged sound then this is the record for you. Now I’m not going to claim it’s up there with the classics but it is a very good album. They set out their stall early with “Long Long Way to Go”, which is classic seventies melodic rock with a driving guitar. Sweet. The production does sound a bit flat in places but the songs are strong enough to shine through.
“See You On The Other Side”, “Queen Of The Pain” and “Sea Of Madness” leapt out for me first time around and even if a couple of songs have a hint of filler about them, there is more than enough here to keep fans of classic rock very happy indeed.