Reviews roundup – Michael Bloom ~ Leslie Ripp ~ Grosh ~ Dice ~ Dirt ~ Ray Gilman
MICHAEL BLOOM and the Blues Prophecy
Whisper In The Wind
Random Acts Media
Bonus points for doing a cover of the Furry Lewis songs ‘Brownsville’. Joni Mitchell wrote a song about him. He hated it. Well played, Furry.
Anyway, back to Michael Bloom who is a damn good guitarist and songwriter as the eight originals here testify. The other two covers are by ‘Old Man Blues’ by Johnny Copeland and ‘Dust My Broom’. Which confirms he has good taste.
He’s also put together a great band who really bring the songs to life in finest Chicago style. The best of the songs are really good with ‘I Remember Love’ and ‘No Luck At All’ the best of the bunch. Thing is, he’s no singer and as much as the likes of ‘I Ain’t Got The Blues’ stir me I can’t help but wish there was a top notch vocalist fronting it while Mr Bloom gets on with his electrifying guitar lines. It’s still a good one, mind, and well worth a listen.
Once upon a time Mr Ripp was a metalhead (as all folk should be). He was in an eighties cult band called Rat Attack (no relation to Stephen Pearcy and Ratt Attack).
But bills need paying and after they split he headed into the world of club cover bands, all the while honing his guitar skills which, doubtless, went unappreciated.
Then came the 21st century and having a home studio no longer meant converting the barn on the country estate you bought before your cocaine bills piled up. So Mr Ripp started recording again. And as he is a multi-instrumentalist there was no need for any of those pesky musicians. “Ripple Effect” is the fifth solo instrumental album he’s released and it certainly showcases what a talented musician he is.
It’s not just shred as so many solo guitarists are wont to do, although he’d be the first to admit that the likes of Satriani and Vai have had an influence. But tunes like ‘Wing And A Prayer’ and ‘The Last Crusader’ have considerably more depth than that, ranging over a variety of musical styles. If you’re into instrumental guitar albums and are looking for something new, then you should certainly give this a go.
Whether Or Not You Know
Well now, this is pretty good. We’ll skip over the terrible name. Was Gracelish taken?
Anyway, this is the debut from a Buffalo, NY band who started off as the duo of Grace Lougen (guitar) and Josh English (drums) who wanted to be a hard rock version of The White Stripes.
But then they found an excellent singer in the shape of Megan Brown and the Bass Player. No, it’s Dylan Hund and what they do is modern, mainstream rock with a few pop sensibilities. And there are some really good songs here. There’s even a potential radio hit in the shape of ‘Astronaut’. But even that has a driving rhythm which pushes all the songs forward with numbers like ‘More To Life’ and ‘Rising Tide’ managing to be both easy on the ear while staying a wee bit challenging.
All the musicians are straight out of the top drawer and even an old metalhead like me can appreciate what they’re doing. Throw some money at a decent producer and there is no reason why, post name change, that Grosh could start climbing the ladder. A good one. Oh, and hang on for the secret track. Which isn’t a secret anymore.
I would like to make it abundantly clear that the nice things I’m about to say about the bazillionth album from German progsters Dice are in no way related to the fact that I’m one of the people they thank in the booklet. I’m not quite that cheap.
Mind you I’ve been saying nice things about Dice ever since Zeitgeist was an actual publication. On paper and everything. And posted out to people! If any youngsters are confused about this concept, please ask a passing old person. Back on planet Dice, turns out this is their actual 25th album (you read that right) and it also commemorates their 40th anniversary (you also read that right).
Of course I reckon they’ve sneaked this one a bit early as it doesn’t seem that long since “What, If My Black Cat Is The Alien?” was released. Now whereas that one was a concept piece about someone who tries to immerse himself into the inner being of his black cat, this seems to be a collection of songs. So after the spacerocky instrumental near title track ‘Roger-Roger (Dreamscene 20)’ we’re off into the world of complex melodic prog that Dice have inhabited for so long. And it’s really, really good. If you like fluid Hackett like guitar lines, more time changes than a highly trained horologist could handle, then this is the place for you.
They may be long in the tooth bit some of the songs here are amongst their best. The declamatory Calvert like vocals work well and as the opener indicated they’re possibly a wee bit more spacerock this time round but, hand on heart, ‘Black Stars’ is one of the best songs they’ve recorded. And I’ve heard a lot of Dice tracks over the years. The guitar work of Peter Viertel is quite remarkable in places while the compositional skills and keyboards of mainman Christian Nove never fail to impress. So, yet again, let me tell you that prog fans of all generations should be investigating the wonderful world of Dice. Now. And that’s an order.
No video for the new album so here’s an oldie.
Supercharged Apocalyptic Antichrist Psychosis
Hmm. Cool logo. Stupid assed yet somewhat brilliant album title. That’s a good start.
The singer calls himself Chalice and seems to be toying with corpse paint. And why not. Musically? Well, it sort of mixes up modern mainstream metal with some eighties vibes. And some of those eighties vibes (whisper it) are borderline sleaze.
Yes, we’re not talking Britny Fox here. Although if anyone wants to talk about Britny Fox, I’ll meet you in the Safari Lounge later tonight. No it’s the rougher end of town. Early Motley Crue. That type of thing. Pre overdoses. And all that means I quite enjoyed this There are some cracking riffs on the likes of ‘Switchblade Renegade’ and ‘Waste The Wine’. Although I would like to point out that both of these things are Bad Things and should not be encouraged.
But the band sound like they’re having a good time and I cannot emphasise the importance of that. Even when you’re being a moody bugger, be a good moody bugger. Give me attitude. And there is no denying that Dirt seem to have that. A bit of a shame they didn’t come up with a DuckDuckGo friendly name but hunt them down and you’ll have some fun.
I enjoyed “No Reason”, an album Ray Gilman released a few years back. And now he’s back with another one.
It’s called “Second Sight” and is called this as it’s inspired by Ray nearly losing his sight and having major eye surgery to correct it. Lucky man. Three lots of major eye surgery didn’t work for me and I’ve spent my life as one of the partially sighted. On the plus side I’ve probably missed seeing as many bad things as good things.
Mr Gilman is very much a chap of the seventies as this record as much as the previous one owes a lot of its guitar styles to the work of Dave ‘David’ Gilmour. But as much as I despise Pink Floyd I’ve always had a lot of time for the melodic guitar work of Mr Gilmour. So what you’re getting here is prog tinged classic rock. Apart from song (‘No Holding Back’_ which has vocals from Barb Madison, this is very much one man band territory with Mr Gilman performing everything else. And when it comes together with a good song it’s an enjoyable listen with ‘Prophecy’ and ‘Into The Unknown’ scoring highly for me.
If you like this, the good news is that he has, quite literally, hunnerds of other records awaiting your listening pleasure.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton