Reviews roundup – Rock Goddess vs. Billy Hector vs. Victorius vs. Blood On Wheels vs. Simon Stanley Ward vs. CranstoN
Are You Ready?
Bite You To Death Records
When I was a boy Rock Goddess were nearly a thing. Major label deal, minor hit singles, Gary Glitter cover version. They were so close.
But then their label dropped them, they brought in a keyboard player, ended up in the world of overseas only releases, ever diminishing returns and then they vanished.
Then five or six years ago the original lineup got back together and promised a new album. Which never arrived, although an EP did, and saw the bass player leave. But now there is a new album! This is the single to promote it and it sounds exactly how I remember Rock Goddess sounding when I first bought ‘Heavy Metal Rock ‘n’ Roll’ back in nineteen eighty mumble. A bit NWOBHM with a hint of classic rock.
Sisters Jodie and Julie Turner set about things in a crash and bang style that makes you forget that so many decades have passed. To be fair, Rock Goddess were never a top drawer band but they had energy and enthusiasm, something that still manages to come through the grooves. The lead track could slot easily onto their debut album while B-side ‘Calling To Space’ slows things down a degree, going for some moodier metal. The single does enough to make you want to hear more of the forthcoming “This Time” album and that is the reason for its existence. So job done.
Ghetto Surf Music
Have you ever wanted to get butt naked and funk? I know I have. Transpires that Billy Hector does as well although hopefully not at the same time or place as me.
Nuddy aside this is an absolute stormer of a record. Mr Hector certainly knows how to get down and dirty on his guitar as he works his way through a set of original (bar a couple of Trad Arrs) material. He’s got a good voice as well, so it’s not just the funky, driving riffs that keep you listening. There’s an assortment of rhythm sections with some additional keyboards, horns and harmonica when the song requires. But it all gells together really well on a rather splendid album.
His soulful voice really sets off the best of the material although it’s hard to pick favourites when there are so many delights on offer. After a few plays I’m tempted to pick ‘Wizard of Babylon’, ‘Butt Naked and Funk’ (natch). ‘Bareback’ and the cover of ‘Alabama Bound’, if only because my deid Irish mammy was a huge Al Jolson fan. Get your kisses ready for your honey lamb, indeed.
It’s well produced, performed and arranged and if funky blues rock with a touch of roots sounds fun, then get a shift on and give this a listen.
To The Death EP
Blimey, it’s all eighties in the metal world round my way Victorius. And, yes, that is how they spell it. But then they do come fae Dundee and ma Auntie Nessie wisnae much for the reading and writing. Although she made the best tablet ever.
Back to metal, though, and Victorius started life in 2007 before splitting, sort of reforming under another name, splitting and then reforming under their original name. And they really do like their NWOBHM. As do I if my long dormant NWOBHM blog is anything to go by where I celebrated (?) the likes of Turbo, Buffalo, Streetfighter, Bastille and Rhabstallion. Yes, Rhabstallion. And Victorius would certainly fit in right beside them.
Apparently this EP contains new recordings of some older songs that are always crowd favourites at gigs. And by older it seems they mean before they were born if the Di’anno era Maiden guitar runs of ‘Breaking Down The Walls’ are anything to go by. It’s pure retro from start to finish and fans of the NWOBHM circa 1979 / 1980 will love this. My favourite guitars are on the air raid enhanced ‘To The Death’ where they actually manage to make the song like it was recorded in Wee Fat Gadges Dads shed oot the back o’ the Vine in 1980. I was there so I know.
They finish up with an epic nine minute metal rampage through ‘Rise from the Flames’ which shows they’re not just influenced by 1980 Iron Maiden but 1983 Iron Maiden as well. I really enjoyed this but them I’m a veteran of the NWOBHM wars first time out. But now it’s time to look out some Bollweevil.
BLOOD ON WHEELS
Crispin Glover Records
Blood On Wheels are Norwegian stoners who’ve made it as far as their third album. And it’s a’right.
I don’t know if it’s the production but its not as dank and deep as I like my stoner to go. There are some good riffs in here and some nice bass runs. Add in songs about cheating women, burgers and breweries and it sounds like the soundtrack to my life. I just want it louder.
Of course I keep on forgetting that stoner bands nowadays are just as likely to be influenced by the piss poor pop of Queens of the Stone Age as they are Leaf Hound or Blue Cheer so it’s no wonder that there are more melodic indie influences permeating the world of modern stoner. I’m old so ‘Don’t Wanna’ and ‘Camaro’ don’t float my boat but the early Monster Magnet sound of ‘Run Away’ raises me from my torpor. That and the following ‘Silence’ are the real standouts on the record and a few more like those and I could see myself getting converted.
It’s a good album that just needs some extra testosterone to push it along.
SIMON STANLEY WARD & The Shadows of Doubt
Songs From Various Places
Blue Hole Records
It’s less country more roots and Slim Chance style pickings from Simon Stanley Ward on his second record.
I mean there are still plenty of country licks on the likes of ‘I Heard It All’ but for every one of those you’re getting the mental musings of ‘Beluga Whale’ which is a folk song sung from the perspective of a beluga whale. As you do. Of course SST had a sideline as a stand up comedian so it’s not a tremendous surprise that his lyrics take some odd twists and turns. Although, from my time on the boats, the only beluga related fact I recall is that they have teeth and are happy to bite, eating the likes of squid and octopus.
Right, back to the music. There’s a lot of seventies styled not quite soft rock on offer here and ‘Set In Stone’ is something that feels like it predates punk when bands like Crawler were plying their trade. Which is fine by me. His band, who are well seasoned in other bands, do a bang up job of framing his songs and are able to move seamlessly from the aforementioned soft rock into the twang of ‘A Friend (Who Isn’t Me)’ with ease.
I enjoyed this without ever breaking a sweat but it may turn out to be a grower rather than a show-er.
The first CranstoN record saw Phil Vincent team up with Paul Sabu and I reckoned “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.”
Which saves me the bother of writing a new review for the follow up album as exactly the same applies to this one. There are a couple of variations on the theme with some boogie licks on ‘Always On The Run’ and a more metal tinge to ‘Throwin’ Down’. There are a couple of fillers weighing down the middle of the record (say hello to ‘One Track Mind’) but given the sheer number of releases that Phil Vincent and company punt out every year there’s bound to be some slips in quality control.
Strange to say, this time around, the best track is slightly anomalous as it moves away from the early eighties melodic rock into more seventies fey territory. ‘Wish I Had More Time’ is the tune in question, a lovely slice of acoustic pop which would have seen some US chart action circa 1976. Pound for pound I think this just shades the debut and is well worth a listen for fans of the genre.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton