Reviews roundup – Joe Satriani vs. Lindsay Bellows vs. Reuben Archer’s Personal Sin vs. Tragik
What Happens Next
Album number 16 from the ever busy guitar whizz. He seems to never stop what with his solo works, G3 tours and Chickenfoot outings. This latest outing sees him linking up with fellow Chickenfoot fella Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers) on drums and most surprisingly Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple/Black Country Communion) on bass. I say surprising because people often forget what a good bass player Hughes is. Take a listen to his early seventies work with Trapeze, though, and it all makes sense.
That aside, it’s business as usual for Mr Satriani as he sets about his instrumental work with verve. As always there is no doubting his instrumental prowess but with such a peerless rhythm section, things really power along. One of the best tracks hits you right off with ‘Energy’ setting a benchmark some of the other tunes struggle to keep up with. But there are far more winners than losers with a rarely heard before groove surging from the speakers. It won’t surprise anyone to hear that ‘Super Funky Badass’ is the runaway winner when it comes to that added feel that Smith and Hughes bring to the mix but there are other beneficiaries.
All instrumental affairs tend to be a couple of tracks too long and this is no exception. ‘Righteous’ and ‘Looper’ are the weak links here but with everything else just oozing class it would be churlish to say that this is anything but one of his best. A shame that it’s a project, because this lineup would just slay out there on the road.
Wake To Dream
This is the debut release from Lindsay Bellows and it couldn’t be more pop if it had a cover with P O and P in big letters on it. Of course, pop isn’t much in vogue these days but with a soulful voice and some rather fine old fashioned pop melodies backing it up, there’s no reason why Ms Bellows can’t buck the trend.
I know it seems odd saying pop is out when it’s short for popular but the kiddywinks nowadays seem to favour unfathomable dance music and misogynistic hip hop rather than actual songs. But if they get a chance to hear something as melodic and hook filled as ‘Slow Steady’, then who knows what might happen. After all, there are still a few keyboard fills on this EP that are very modern.
The songs are all good, with ‘Part Life’ coming in a close second to the opener. She’s young, fresh and full of hope, all things I detest, but then I am diametrically opposite. For those of you who think that life still has meaning then there is hope for you in this release.
REUBEN ARCHER’S PERSONAL SIN
Reuben Archer, eh? That takes me back. After all, I’m old enough to have seen Lautrec open the show for Saxon, never mind his time with Stampede.
Post hard rock Mr Archer set up his own graphic design company, worked on motor magazines and returned to the art world. However, Stampede got back together in the 21st century after their albums were reissued to make a new album and tour and he’s also punted out a couple of solo albums of which this is the latest. And, given his background, it’s no great leap forward when you find out that all the songs are about cars.
He was always a good singer and by sticking to the melodic hard rock world on “Petrolhead”, where’s he best suited, this works really well. The songs are strong and the musicians he’s brought in to flesh out the sound set about their task in fine fashion. It’s firmly rooted in the eighties vibe that Stampede inhabited. And that’s for the best as songs like ‘No Gasoline’, ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ immediately sound like old friends.
Blimey! I miss the eighties when album covers like this were legally obligatory. And on this new release it actually makes some kind of sense because Phil Vincent (whose seventh Tragik album this is) is influenced by the likes of Harem Scarem, Survivor, Boston, Dokken and others of that ilk. Of course Tragik is only one of his bands with CranstoN (alongside Paul Sabu) being the one I heard most recently.
He bungs out several albums most years, all of which operate in the same world of eighties melodic rock, and I assume it’s one way of getting all his songs out there. This time around he writes all the songs, plays ninety percent of the instruments, sings and produces with Damien D’Ercole taking care of some of the guitars. And it’s another enjoyable release for those of who grew up with this kind of music.
For sure, a couple of songs miss the mark and you can tell he’s not operating in a “Mutt” Lange production environment (or indeed budget) but if you like melodic rock and AOR played the way it used to be then songs like ‘Not Over You’, ‘Into The Great Unknown’ and ‘Nobody’s There’ will keep you moist for quite some time to come.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton