Reviews roundup – John Wetton vs. UB40 vs. The Factor vs. Experienced?!? vs. Black Star Furies
Official Bootleg Archive Vol 1
A six CD set of John Wetton. That’s a lot of melodic prog. It’s actually a reissue of three previously released Official Bootlegs which have been out of print for a decade or so and features three live recordings from Tokyo, Osaka and Argentina.
So you’re getting plenty of solo material as well as nods to his days in Asia and King Crimson. Across the shows you also get a fine representation of musicians with the likes of Thomas Lang on drums, Martin Orford of IQ & Jadis on keyboards, Billy Liesegang and John Young all playing their parts.
The Osaka set is probably my favourite, but they’re all well recorded and it’s a good chance for prog fans to pick up all three albums at a decent price. With Mr Wetton still in poor health we may not get much in the way of new material but just sit back and enjoy what he’s done before.
UB40 feat. Ali, Astro & Mickey
Ooh! Tricky one this. In fact I’m surprised that the record label went ahead with this considering the ongoing legal disputes between UB40 and the three former members who are Ali, Astro & Mickey. Hence why this is UB40 feat. Ali, Astro & Mickey despite what Amazon would have you believe. Mind you, it might become a collectors item if the original band win their case!
Anyway, the main disc is as the name suggests an acoustic album reworking the best of UB40. Which considering they weren’t the most electric of bands in the first place isn’t a huge leap. However, to their credit they haven’t just reworked the many Labour of Love releases and have gone as far back as “Food For Thought” and “Tyler”, both from UB40’s debut album ‘Signing Off’.
That aside there are oodles of hit singles from years gone by and the acoustic arrangements work well even if Ali is straining a bit in places. The bonus disc actually features the original greatest hits so you can get the chance to compare and contrast.
To Latvia for some modern metal meets alternative rock. And it’s The Factor who are providing us with some ‘Power Play’ on their latest album.
They’re a nineties influenced band even though they formed in 2008 and have a fair few nu-metal riffs and melodies running through tracks like “Manimal”, “Midnight Caller” and “Stone Cold Friend”. Their debut album “Ļauj Man Dzert” (“Bottoms Up”) came out in 2012 and they certainly know their way around their instruments.
At times they get a bit more adventurous and some of the arrangements suggest that they’ve got a couple of prog metal albums in their collection. But some of the songs end up being generic plod rock so I suspect some careful editing is required before they make their classic album.
The Devil In Me
Some hard riving retro rock now from Belgium. And it’s the oddly monickered Experienced?!? that are providing some licks up the proverbial arse.
They’ve bene on the go for a decade now performing across the globe although I’m guessing that their 2013 appearance on Belgiums Got Talent TV show probably didn’t go down too well. But any publicity is good publicity and I’m guessing from this record that they have no problem filling up a rowdy biker bar.
it’s seventies meets eighties hard rock and roll with a fair number of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Aerosmith, and AC/DC licks popping up hither and thither. It’s a good time of an album and songs like “R ‘n R-Radio”, “Sold My Son For Rock And Roll” (really?) and “Devil Down” will go down a treat in rock clubs wherever they’re heard.
BLACK STAR FURIES
Vamp In Paradise
Wham! Glam! Thank you ma’am. Yes. it’s some eighties sleaze rock all the way from Italy. Black Star Furies are the band in question and William Baxter – Guitar & Vocals, MrTeko O’Liax – Bass & Backing Vocals and Dr.”NOK” Nikk – Drums & Backing Vocals have put out a really enjoyable set. Although I suspect not all those names are real.
As well as looking back to the Sunset Strip of the eighties, they’ve also got a few Backyard Babies and 69 Eyes licks in there, so if you feel like getting your lippy and eyeliner on there is plenty for you to enjoy here.
Some of the songs are straight out of 1982 LA with “Piece Of Your Action” and the self explanatory “L.A. 81” the most notable. It’s a fun ride even if it is a few songs too long. And if you can track down a CD version rather than the digital version then set yourself up for a crash bang wallop run through of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s “Relax”. An album that made me feel 17 again. In a good way.