Reviews roundup – Samson vs. Elk Minister vs. Johnny Mastro & Mama’s Boys vs. Naryan
The Polydor Years
I was in an adjacent field when Bruce Bruce was pictured celebrating “an offer”. But unlike some I never really rated the stuff he did with Samson. Apart from “Riding With The Angels”, natch.
But when ‘Before The Storm’ came out I was smitten. And now nigh on 35 years later, here it is again, along with the follow up album ‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’ and a third CD of B sides, rarities and live tracks. And it’s still very good. Not as great as it was then but still good. And with ‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’ never out on CD and ‘Before The Storm’ long deleted, grab this while you can.
The late Paul Samson was a great guitarist who just never got the breaks, despite a few cracks at the whip, but this serves as a reminder of how good he was. And that’s not forgetting Chris Aylmer (RIP) on bass plus an assortment of drummers (mainly Pete Jupp) and, on these recordings, the blustery blues voice of Nicky Moore.
‘Before The Storm’ saw them shift from the NWOBHM to blues rock but the new label didn’t want that so ‘Don’t Get Mad, Get Even’ had a commercial, mainstream sheen to it but that didn’t work either. So out went the lights. They’re both enjoyable albums but it’s the extras that make it worthwhile with a host of live tracks, Friday Rock show recordings and alternate versions. Some of those feature erstwhile drummer Thunderstick who is about to release a new album, NMWOBHM fans, but this is first and foremost an excellent testimony to the talent of Samson.
There’s A System Of Control
Anonymous 5/8 Records
Apparently, “Elk Minister was born into a musical family in the upstate region in the forest. It was through many years of isolation, contemplation, and inner discovery where his music manifested themselves into fruition”. Which explains a lot.
Although I suspect Mr Minister may be at the lash if some of the claims in his bio are to be believed. When asked by another musician to see what instruments were used to record There’s a System of Control, the musician was showed a broken pencil, a child’s life jacket, and an 11 rubber-stringed, one of a kind instrument 4 inch instrument known as ‘The Rabbit.’
Uhu. So what we have here is some decent prog rock with hints of Krautrock and a few nods to sci-fi soundtracks. And that’s fair enough regardless of the actual genesis of the recordings. I actually approve of nutters in music as it’s one of the few places they can’t do to much harm and on the likes of “Into The Void Of Emptiness” and the ten minute “There’s a System of Control” Mr Minister certainly fulfils the criteria.
JOHNNY MASTRO & MAMA’S BOYS
Never Trust The Living
No relation to the Irish blues rock trio of Mrs McManuses boys who liked to relate how their lady liked to move with the needle in the groove. Alright. No it’s Los Angeles born, New Orleans raised Johnny Mastro & Mama’s Boys who’re cutting up a fine blues rug on this release.
Seems they rattled out 27 songs in two days before picking the 11 that appear on this release. Which is how every record should be made. None of this faffing about for five years before deciding to add some cowbell to the 374th take of what was a shite song first time out.
It’s mainly originals with a couple of covers and a run through of “House Of The Rising Sun”. They seem to specialise in dirty and dark blues rock with an edge to their sound you don’t often encounter. From the opening “Snake Doctor” through “Judgement Day” on into “Bucksnort Annie” the band make a strong case for one of the albums of the year. It’s not pure blues by any stretch of the imagination but they certainly take you places you’d never visit on your own. Highly recommended.
To Finlandia! But nor for symphonic metal which is usually the case. Nope, Naryan go for a gothy meets Depeche Mode meets Lord of the Rings soundtrack kind of thing.
And they’re very good at it. I know that ethereal and atmpsheric are almost dirty words nowadays but this seven piece band from Tampere do just that. With them all being multi-instrumentalists they can throw in violins and flutes to the basic rock mix just to flavour things up a bit.
This is their second album and it really does hit all the bases. The title track, the duet “I Promise You” and “Sleeping Beauty” had me hitting the repeat button instantly. They never get out of mid tempo and the album flows almost seamlessly through the material but when it is this well played and arranged you don’t really mind. Quite where they fit into the metal landscape is unclear but if people get a chance to hear them they won’t regret it. A good one.