Reviews roundup – David Cross & Peter Banks ~ Chickenbone Slim ~ MalefistuM ~ Bad Marriage ~ Predicted
DAVID CROSS & PETER BANKS
Hmm. I sometimes wonder about this sort of record. Maybe there was a reason things were unreleased the first time round. But I suppose if the family of the deceased musician is happy with it, and it keeps someones name alive then it’s worth it.
Which brings us to an album of improvised instrumentals recorded one August afternoon in August 2010 by one time King Crimson fella David Cross and the late Peter Banks who many aeons ago was the guitarist in Yes.
During 2018 and 2019 it was all tarted up with the help of Tony Kaye, Billy Sherwood, Oliver Wakeman, Jay Schellen, Geoff Downes and a few others, so it’s certainly going to be of interest to fans of Yes. And there actually is a fair amount to enjoy as the improvisations have been integrated into the new arrangements really well. In fact, the very nature of it makes the whole thing considerably more progressive than a lot of what passes itself of as such.
The best of the guitar work probably appears on the opening ‘Rock to a Hard Place’ which is a real treat. A lot of what is here owes a debt to the King Crimson days of Cross with his violin adding a degree of menace. My favourite, though, is the hard edged ‘Upshift’ which sees additional keys from Kaye and Wakeman with the bass of Billy Sherwood driving things along.
There are a couple of tunes, mid-album, which didn’t really work for me, but on the whole this is an awful lot better than I’d anticipated and if it keeps the flag flying for Peter Banks, then job done.
Lo-Fi Mob Records
The last time I encountered Mr Chickenbone I said “Some old fashioned blues courtesy of Chickenbone Slim (aka Larry Teves), a chap who remembers that the blues can sometimes be fun.” Which, happily for me, means I can simply regurgitate that review. Because this is very much more of the same.
Which is a good thing when your thing is good. Ten new tracks, all original, no filler. He can boogie real low, he can swing from on high. There is some fantastic guitar work and when Troy Sandow honks on his moothie then it’s blues just how I like it.
The rest of the band are no slouches either so a big dose of the claps for Scot Smart on guitar, Andrew Crane on bass and Marty Dodson on drums. There are a few guests including Laura Chavez and Kid Anderson, who also recorded everything. And recorded it well because the mix is just right. Add is some great blues rocking tunes and a world weary vein of humour running through the lyrics on the likes of ‘Vampire Baby, ‘My Bad Luck’ and ‘These Things Happen’ and you end up with really enjoyable album.
If you like your blues to swing then this is a place you’ll want to be.
No new video so here’s an oldie
Right. Symphonic power metal then.
Seems as though MalefistuM with that all important upper case M at both end is a solo project from guitarist Jens Faber. For those, like me, who don’t know, he’s been plying his trade with power metal act Dawn of Destiny.
But this sees him collaborating with a variety of vocalists while he writes the songs and plays guitar, bass and keyboards. A right blooming show-off. But it’s actually very good.
Most of the vocals are by Melissa Bonny who has worked with an array of bands you’ve probably never heard of. And Serenity. Federica Lanna (Sleeping Romance), Zagan (Black Messiah) and Eric Dow (Helsott) turn up for a song apiece and I assume the harsh vocals that appear elsewhere are the work of Faber. But it’s the collaboration between Faber and Bonny that forms the core of the record.
And when not try to grab some of that market what with Tuomas Holopainen heading off into the world of folk prog. And there are some cracking songs here. ‘Towards The Sun’, ‘Fear Of Tomorrow’ and ‘Adore Me’ would grace any album of its ilk and even if Bony doesn’t have one of those instantly recognisable voices, here, along with some excellent minor keys, she does an excellent job. More please.
It’s great to be back in Boston, yeah!
At least it is now I’ve met the dreadfully named Bad Marriage. Now I don’t know what it is but it seems as though we’ve finally reached a point where it’s cool to like the music I grew up with. I may have been weaned on the NWOBHM but I hit my teenage stride just in time for the world of sleaze and glam metal. Now I’m not going to deny some of it was awful. Although that hasn’t stopped me holding on to a Pretty Boy Floyd 12″. But in the early days it was life affirming rock and roll that saw even the likes of me waving my arms in the air, in pursuit of the spandex clad Mrs Daisy. Good times, good times.
For sure, Steel Panther have been at it a while but the last 18 months or so have seen a fair few band raising their heads above the parapet. Recently it was Pussies on the Dancefloor who floated my boat but this release is a real treat. So thanks be to guitarists Mike Fitz and Ian Haggerty, lead vocalist Jon Paquin, drummer Michael Delaney and bassist Todd Boisvert. Yes, they say they’re influenced by AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith but so were the originators of this style of music.
They’ve been touring with the likes of Extreme, LA Guns and Tesla and they’d certainly give the headliners a run for their money if they can pull off the likes of ‘Old School Stereo’, ‘Ready Aim Fire’ and ‘Ms.Outrageous’ live. They have a swagger about them that makes me think of prime time Cinderella and that’s high praise round my way and there is a harder edge to the songs that works really well. An absolute pleasure.
Not Meant To Die
The debut album from Swedish melodic hard rock band Predicted.
Of course it’s not melodic hard rock they way someone of my vintage thinks of the genre. No, they’re actually modern melodic metal. Which is a very different thing seeing as how it’s also not metal the way an auld fella thinks of metals.
They cite Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine as influences which is fairly accurate although Predicted are more melodic with the riffs mixed back. The guitar solos are placed further forward, though. Something that works well. And they’ve got a few decent songs under their belt as well.
‘Falling Down’ and ‘Not Gonna Wait’ are the best of the bunch. ‘Lost In Time’ is a good song as well, but the backing vocals need to go on that one. Johan Ask has a strong voice which suits the material well and there is certainly a lot of promise here. Back in the day, this is the kind of thing that kept the tape trading community very happy. I would imageine for ‘the kids’ it’s definitely worth a stream, and with a decent budget and producer they could shine up nicely.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton