Reviews roundup – Riot V vs. Samantha Fish vs. The 44s vs. Emanuele Bodo vs. Dimh Project vs. Marionet
Live In Japan 2018
I loved Riot back in the day. Yes, I’m that old. I saw them on the “Fire Down Under” tour and was at a loss to understand why people weren’t buying their records. Naturally they split up but guitarist Mark Reale put together a new version of the band a few years later steering them down a more generic route. He steered the ship until 2012 when he died and then the remains of the new group relaunched as Riot V. Apart from in Japan. Who loved Riot. So they’re still Riot over there.
They’ve released two studio albums since the death of Reale but already have one other live album and three lots of archive releases in the same period. A wallet stretching time for Riot fans. But unlike the vinyl only “Live at Keep It True Festival 2015” this is the full DVD entire live show experience. Although I’ve got the CD version here.
And it’s really good. Yes I know there are no original members left and that’s an argument that can rage elsewhere. But with over 25 people having passed through the ranks it’s not like they were the most stable of bands. But this lineup certainly knows how to blast through a set of quality metal. After some excellent latter day treats the centrepiece of the record is the entire “Thundersteel” album from 1988 played live. The downside of playing albums live is you get the rubbish songs as well but they were few and far between on that record (‘Johnny’s Back’). Then it’s off into the original Riot and when you’ve got ‘Road Racin’ and ‘Swords And Tequila’ in reserve you really can’t lose.
The current version of the band – Todd Michael Hall – Vocals, Don van Stavern – Bass, Mike Flyntz – Guitars, Nick Lee – Guitars, Frank Gilchriest – Drums – do a sterling job and the only niggle is a lack of tunes from the Mike DiMeo era. The BluRay seems to be just that. The concert and nothing more but for fans of Proper Heavy Metal this is a treat.
Kill Or Be Kind
You can’t fault the work ethic of Ms Fish. This is her fourth album in as may years and continues her blend of blues rock and roots music.
She’s always been an excellent guitarist but I used to be fairly unconvinced about her vocals. However she seems to have been working on that side of things over the last couple of records and she’s got a much stronger voice than in days of yore.
This record certainly sounds great and I take it that credit is due to producer Scott Billington, who also happens to be Vice-President of her new record label, Rounder. Obviously, me being me, I’m more drawn to the out and out blues material which makes ‘You Got It Bad (Better Than You Ever Had)’ the album highlight. I’ve also a lot of time for ‘Bullet Proof’ which, on the promo, comes with a rather endearing (and hopeful) radio edit. I’m less convinced by some of the other material with ‘Love Letters’ and ‘Dream Girl’ completely missing for me but Ms Fish doesn’t like to get stuck in the one groove which is fair enough.
There’s more soul on this record than on previous offerings but at least it’s Memphis rather than Motown. There aren’t any performer credits on the version I’m listening to but it’s safe to say that whoever is playing does a bang up job. There are plenty of co-writes with well known songwriters so structurally there is certainly nothing to complain about. But I’m still waiting to hear that killer breakthrough song. But fans of her last couple of records will be well pleased with this one.
THE FORTY FOURS
Twist the Knife
It’s been a long time since Johnny Main put out a record and it’s a brand new line-up of the Forty Fours that is on display here. And it is good.
A proper album, eight tracks and thirty odd minutes long, there is absolutely no filler here on the eight tracks (one original and seven covers). The new band adds Eric Von Herzen (harmonica), Mike Hightower (bass), Gary Ferguson (drums) and Junior Watson (guitar) with Main on guitar and vocals. Things kick off with a band written instrumental before they get down to business with a take on ‘Sugar You’ originally done by Richard Berry and the Pharaohs. It’s quite a sweet tune before things turn nasty with ‘Howlin’ from the, um, Howlin’ Wolf songbook.
Then it’s time for some Muddy Waters before my favourite arrives, the Lowell Fulsom covered ‘Too Many Drivers’ which I always thought was a Big Bill Broonzy song but it’s acquired a Lightnin’ Sam credit here. Mind you, my old Smokey Hogg 7″ claims he wrote it too! The one song that didn’t work for me was the Doyle Bramhall II song, ‘Rosie’, a slow blues that passed me by. But by the time they shut up shop with the ’44s Shuffle’ from T-Bone Walker a guaranteed damn good time has been had by all. A real treat.
To Italy now for some instrumental prog metal. Well I say prog metal but there moments of pure prog in here as well. But mainly prog metal.
It’s the brainchild of guitarist and songwriter Emanuele Bodo who has brought together some excellent musicians to bring his musical vision to life. And if you like things intricate and dense, then this is a place you’re going to like.
It’s his first solo album although he’s been playing for decades so has plenty of experience and skill to bring to impressive tunes like ‘Challenger Deep’ and ‘The Omen’. At times it gets surprisingly heavy which explains the djent reference in his bio. There’s certainly more than a few places where fans of Meshuggah and their ilk will find common ground.
It’s good that he (and they) avoid the temptation to showboat. Sure, there are plenty of mad skillz on display but they serve to serve the music rather than just being widdle for widdles sake. A good one.
From Hell to a State of Grace
To Italy now for some prog metal. Hang on. Didn’t I just say that? Well actually, this is more prog rock than metal and melodic prog at that. But it is from Italy.
I remember the previous “Victim & Maker” record from a few years back. It was alright. And Maurizio Amato who writes, sings and plays bass is back with another record. And it’s alright. He’s got the same musicians in tow as the last time and it’s very much in the same vein. Which is retro sounding hard rock with a sheen of melodic prog.
He’s dealing with some weighty subjects this time around so prepare yourselves for the horrors that are terrorism, cancer and David Bowie. There are some good songs on offer her with ‘A Night in Trogir’ and ‘People in my World’ well worth repeated plays. But I’m sticking to what I said last time out. Get a singer in and some of these songs could move from good to great. But if it was band I’d probably want to hog the limelight as well. Otherwise, a job well done.
I’m not going to lie. I got a wee bit excited about this. But only because I thought it was a return for long lost glam popsters Marionette whom I unfondly remember seeing live back in the day. You must remember them? Ray Zell, Dave Veal, K.K. (not that one) and Pig. No? Your loss.
Turns out this Marionet are an eighties sort of punk band from Sweden. I say punk, it’s that sort of trashy in-between world where the members of Hanoi Rocks and Lords of the New Church who weren’t Michael Monroe or Stiv Bators lived after their brief days in the sun. – You know – Cherry Bombz, Cheap and Nasty, Kill City Dragons – that sort of world. But, yes, a wee bit punkier.
So this album was recorded in 1985 and never released. They did put out a few singles and cassettes before vanishing but several decades on, the tapes were found, cleaned up and are now released. They’re actually not that bad. I’ve still got my Hanoi Rocks fan club membership card from the early eighties so spent a lot of time in grotty clubs listening to the support acts for Southern Death Cult and their ilk. Marionet would have slotted in their just fine. It’s not a lost classic but as a snapshot of a moment in time it brought back lots of memories. Mainly bennies and speed. But it was the eighties so it disnae count.
An interesting curio.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton