Phil Lanzon solo and a few other new things….

PHIL LANZON : If You Think I’m Crazy
Phil has been the keyboard player and major songwriter in Uriah Heep for the past 30 years. Joining in 1986, after a brief period in Sweet. He’s a major reason why the band is still going today and releasing solid new albums over the past few decades. It is no wonder (but a nice surprise) that Lanzon has finally released his first solo album. If You Think I’m Crazy is indeed a very nice addition to any Heep fan’s collection.

lanzon art
First off – this cover art by Michael Cheval jumps right out at you. Pretty different, and very colorful. This album is pretty wide ranging in material; not so much Heep sounding, but definitely a fantastic collection of songs written for this project. There’s no Heep connections here as far as cast or crew, with Phil using guitarist John Mitchell, drummer Craig Blundell, (acoustic) guitar player James Graydon, pedal steel & banjo player Sarah Jory, bass player Laurence Cottle (who’s playing credits include The Alan Parsons Project and Black Sabbath), and orchestra arrangements & keys from Richard Cottle. There’s a few different singers here, backing singers, orchestra, choir… all makes for quite a grand production and cross section of songs.

Songs here are largely story based, which leaves some interesting tales. All these songs are enjoyable, but favorites would have to include “I Saw Two Englands”, an acoustic ballad that picks up, and has a catchy chorus, and the pedal steel guitar gives it a bit of country feel. nice vocal from Phil. “Lover’s Highway”, sung by Andy Makin is a pretty cool swinging prog-pop cut; a bit of a 70s feel, great performance with John Mitchell’s guitar sound, and the mid tune drum break that leads into the chorus choir. “Donna & Joe” is my favorite track here, sweet keyboard and string intro leading a tale of revenge – love the chorus. “The Bells” is about the closest to a Heep rock tune here, as I can easily imagine the band doing this one.

The 10 track disc ends with Phil singing the ballad “The Forest”, which is an epic finale to this album. Lots to listen to hear, and I’m sure favorites will change. Looking forward to the vinyl release of this. A great and most welcome release! Here’s hoping next time there’s a gap in Heep albums – Phil Lanzon will fill it with another fine record.

And ….
Though recently I’ve had the above Phil Lanzon disc and latest Styx album stuck in my car stereo (where I can peacefully listen and max volume), I’ve gotten a number of new things that I’m getting into. Having recently moved, I’ve had to reorganize my LPs and discs, and set up a new room for stuff. But I got the new Heaven & Earth LP, featuring (guitarist) Stuart Smith, (singer) Joe Retta, and (drummer) Kenny Aronoff.

The band’s previous album “Dig” was a huge step forward for the band, classic hard rock – one of my favorite albums of the past 5 years. The band has made a few more changes, but Smith (band founder) has kept Joe Retta for “Hard To Kill”, and on a first few listens this album sounds great! A bit harder than the previous album, minus the ballads. Love the title track, which kicks ass right at the start of this album, as well as the video single “The Game Has Changed” – pretty different and a bit o funk.

Looking forward to getting more time with this. I wish someone would book these guys up this way (Southern Ontario).

…….I also got Joe Bouchard‘s new disc “Playin History”. Another solid release from founding & former member of Blue Oyster Cult, and the most productive. Joe has released a pile of solo albums that BOC fans will easily enjoy.

His latest album I’ve been taking for a drive as of late, and tracks like “Renaissance Man”, “52 Agents of Fortune”, “Night Owl Nocturne”, and ballad “Diamonds In Blue” will please fans. Ironic that this guy is at his most prolific over the past decade, filling the void left by the current band that don’t record new material.

Brother Albert Bouchard also has a new album out titled “Surrealist”…. I did get the new Alice Cooper a few months back, and though I think is a far better listen than the previous “Welcome 2 My Nightmare “, and it boasts a stellar guest list – the best track for me on “Paranormal” is “Genuine American Girl”, with the original band. A classic AC track, but a damn shame there isn’t a full album from these guys! Opportunity missed, IMO….

Looking forward to putting on the Brown Sabbath album I got. Its from 2014, but if you’re not familiar – this soul band plays Sabbath covers, and they sound amazing – look them up!

anyway, that’s all lately… looking forward to the new Europe, new Magnum, new Saxon – before year’s end, as well as numerous live albums from Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple.

KJJ, Oct. ’17

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