Reviews roundup – Magnum vs. Gus Monsanto vs. Flying Circus vs. Sloppy Joe’s
The Valley Of Tears – The Ballads
Steamhammer / SPV
Look everyone. A Magnum compilation. There’s not many of them on the go. Although, apparently, this one is different because, as the name suggest, it’s a compilation that only features some of their ballads.
Now Magnum give good ballad and I’m quite happy to have my pomptastic bombast interrupted for some light relief but I’m not in the habit of shuffling my mp3 playlist to skip the rock stuff. And this won’t change my mind.
It’s good mind if you’re coming down with a cold or a hangover and can’t face full blown pomp rock. If that’s you then you should be grateful to Tony Clarkins daughter who said, in fine PR speak, “Magnum have so many beautiful quiet numbers, why don t you put together a compilation highlighting some of the most powerful tracks?” The record company went Wow and before you could say re-recorded acoustic version of “Lonely Night” and a new live version of “When The World Comes Down” to get the completists in, so mote it be.
They’ll be regrouping after the sudden departure of Mark Stanway from the ranks and this will give them pause for thought. That aside, it’s rather inessential and should be stickered “For Fans Only”
To Brazil for some metal, courtesy of Gus Monsanto whose name has appeared alongside French band Adagio and Revolution Renaissance, the project formed by Timmo Tolkki after he’d left Stratovarius. But.
So you’d expect metal and more metal on his own songs, recorded here with some fellow South American musicians. But it’s a wee bit hodgepodge. There’s no doubt he can write a decent song and he’s a very good singer, but there isn’t a dominant theme to hang your hat on.
As such it feels more like a songwriting showcase than an album, and I’m sure anyone looking for a collaborator will listen to “Elephant In The Room” and “Change The World” and thnk I’ll have some of that. Most of the material is melodic rock rather than metal so fans of that should genre should check it out.
Never heard of them but it transpire that Flying Circus are much beloved over there in Germany and they’re celebrating twenty five years of classic rock with a concept album meets rock opera with a live CD/DVD coming along for the ride. Well played, fellas.
The album tells the story of an obscure psychedelic band in 1960s London and how it spectacularly imploded when its troubled leader Peter Barren intentionally severed the sinews of his left hand to put an end to his career. So far, so part Pink Floyd. And this will appeal to fans of the Floyd with it’s mix of prog, psych and classic rock.
There are some really excellent songs here which are matched by the strong arrangements and performances with some excellent vocals from Michael Dorp and great guitar work from Michael Rick. For a band I’ve managed to miss since their inception a quarter of a century ago they have an awful lot to offer and a large back catalogue I can’t wait to explore.
Eight Reasons To Rock
We’re staying in Germany for some pop / punk meets psychobilly from Hamburg based Sloppy Joe’s.
And it certainly qualifies as interesting. After all how many punk bands kick off with a cover version of “Diana”, the Paul Anka hit from 1957. That’s right. Not many. Then they head into the Don Gibson country angst fest that is “Lonesome No.1”. Shame then that their own songs kind of fall by the wayside.
That’s what gets you an A list career and no matter how much fun their version of Badfingers “Without You” is, there’s is a Green Jelly future not a Green Day one. But there is some fun to be had with that and I’m sure if you were to encounter Sloppy Joe’s at a drunken club night out you’d have an absolute blast.