All posts by KJ

RUSH : Signals 40th anniversary – box set, picture disc…

Rush’s Signals was originally released in September of 1982. Preceded by the single “New World Man”, it marked a change in the band’s sound, with more use of modern keyboards and less heavy guitar. I am sure this was an issue for many Rush fans at the time, but it was a success as the band kept evolving and staying current. The met with mixed reviews, among the most comical being Rolling Stones’ horrible review, calling the band’s latest “duller than ever“, among other things! I wasn’t so into “New World Man”, but the rest of the album (most of) I preferred – particularly “Subdivisions” and “The Analog Kid”, plus favorites like “Countdown” and “Digital Man”.

Not only did the singles get lots of air-play (particularly in Toronto – which is where our closest rock stations were), but the video for “Subdivisions” was a classic, fitting the lyrics of being the outsider trying to fit in – “be cool or be cast out“. The video was filmed in various areas of Toronto (Scarborough), so it’s interesting to see for that aspect as well.

Signals remains one of my Top 3 Rush albums, with the other 2 being Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures – that period where the band sized things down from the lengthy epics to more strong shorter songs, easily accessible for many who might have shied away before. Rush was at their peak with Signals – selling out 3 nights at Maple Leaf Gardens. The album charted at #1 in Canada (their 2nd in a row), #3 in the UK (their 3rd #3), #19 in Sweden, and #10 in the US, while “New World Man” would become the band’s biggest single in the US, and “Subdivisions” would become a mainstay in the band’s live show thereafter (As far as I know…was it ever out of the live set?) Again, another interesting and iconic cover design by Canadian Hugh Syme.

And all of this brings me to the 40th anniversary release of Signals – particularly the box set, coming out in April. ( The re-issue will be available in three versions – Super Deluxe Edition, one-LP Picture Disc Edition, and Dolby Atmos Digital Edition). Upon seeing what’s coming (and what’s been on previous Rush box’s), I am pretty torn about this one, somewhat disappointed. There is the LP, 4 singles, CD (2015 remaster), a blue-ray disc, a hard cover book, poster, new artwork, prints, etc… You can check out the full details here > https://www.rush.com/signals-40th-anniversary-release/

What this Signals box doesn’t have, however – is anything new to listen to, ie – a live recording from the era, And that is a big drawback for me. Retailing at $229 US (!) – and No live show or rare live tracks … !? Hard to believe, but I guess possible, that maybe something of top quality just doesn’t exist!? (Maybe a bigger Rush collector can clarify?) I love the artwork (and keen to see all the new art from Hugh Syme), as well as the 40 page book, and all, but ….for me – I like to get something (new to me) to listen to. Maybe I’ll just eventually end up getting the new picture-disc version of Signals.

Links:

https://www.rushbackstage.com/

https://www.rushisaband.com/

https://www.facebook.com/rushtheband

https://www.facebook.com/rushisaband2112

http://www.2112.net/powerwindows/transcripts/19821206bostonglobe.htm

BLLY SQUIER returns with new music

Bill Squier, who released such classic ’80s albums as Don’t Say No, Emotions In Motion and Signs Of Life, is returning with a new record after years of being out of the music business. Following 1993’s Tell The Truth, Squier was done with Capitol Records, and would record just one more album – 1998’s Happy Blue, an acoustic album on J-Bird Records, before seemingly disappearing.

But in the past months there’s been signs of a return and finally a confirmation. Longtime friend and bass player Mark Clarke posted on his facebook page (accompanied by a new photo) back in November that he’d been in the studio with Billy, recoding a new song. They’ve also posted brief snippets of new music titled “Give Her A Kiss”. (Now on youtube)

A few days ago, an announcement came from Eddie Trunk – “Psyched to announce I will be world premiering the first new full band / electric Billy Squier song in about 20 years! March 7th 3:30P ET on #TrunkNation SiriusXM 103 Faction Talk or SXM app. And Billy will join me for an exclusive live interview to discuss it! Do not miss it! As a lifelong fan excited for this and honored Billy is breaking it on my show. Billy Squier

So, finally new music from Billy Squier will come out! Now, if someone would reissue a few of the later albums on vinyl!

Links:

http://www.billysquier.com

https://www.facebook.com/BillySquier

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkAL6ClDK61rQJTVzoW3hHQ

WHITE SPIRIT – release video for instrumental track

British band White Spirit, who’s 2022 album Right Or Wrong featured previously unreleased tracks sang by the late Brian Howe (Bad Company), have posted a new video for the instrumental track of the song “Rock ‘N’ Roll”. This instrumental version is the Japanese-only bonus track. A great ’80s sounding fast paced rock track, love the synths throughout this. Check out the clip below (and others via their new youtube channel). Right Or Wrong featured a number of name players such as Neil Murray (Whitesnake, Black Sabbath) and Russell Gilbrook (Uriah Heep), as well as guest singers Jeff Scott Soto, Lee Small, and Steve Overland, all joining guitarist Mick Tucker and keyboardist Malcolm Pearson.

The band have recently announced their touring line-up, which (besides Tucker & Pearson), includes drummer- Kyle Hughes (Graham Bonnet Band), bassist- Steve Ireland, guitarist- Micky Crystal (Tygers Of Pan Tang), Lead singer- Alexx Stahl (Bonfire, Purple Rising, Viron), plus backing singers Ian Gillson, Linzi Hunter and Jackie Fox. As well, the band are signed on to play the Dominion Festival in the UK, May 7. White Spirit are currently finishing up work on an EP to be completed in March, which will include a pair of older songs, plus 2 new ones, and is being produced by Pontus Norgren (Hammerfall).

If you haven’t checked out Right Or Wrong from White Spirit, I recommend it; a classic ’80s style hard-rock album (see my review elsewhere here). Looking forward to the new songs, and possibly a vinyl release of Right Or Wrong.

Links:

https://white-spirit.co.uk/

https://www.youtube.com/@whitespirit1082

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100057431412727

The DAMN TRUTH – Canadian band UK Tour as openers for Glenn Hughes

The Damn Truth is a Montreal based hard rock band who have been given the nod to open for Glenn Hughes on his Burn 50th Anniversary UK Tour. Not familiar with The Damn Truth, I thought I’d check them out! A classic hard rock band, with psych and blues influences, and a female vocalist – Lee Baum, who is heavily influenced by Janice Joplin, as well reminded me of Janita (Jenny) Haan of ’70s British band Babe Ruth.

The band has 3 albums out, their most recent being 2021’s Now Or Nowhere. Great heavy guitars, hooks, melodies, and vocals! check ’em out.

Links:

http://www.thedamntruth.com

https://www.facebook.com/thedamntruth

https://www.youtube.com/@thedamntruthtube

Rick LaBonte – Living It Up

Last year Windsor, Ontario musician Rick LaBonte released his ambitious 2CD album Living It Up. His third album since 2016, and first to feature a number of guests, which makes Living It Up a curious release to those who aren’t familiar with Rick. Well known locally, Rick plays with The Formula as well as The Blues Side. He’s also a fellow Uriah Heep fan who performed “Easy Livin“, in 2018 in London, Ontario (soundcheck), and later singing back-up during the encore) . Thus, there’s a few Heep guests on this album, which I must admit was my initial interest in hearing this.

Rick LaBonte – “I have written and recorded 24 songs between two of Windsor’s finest recording studios: SLR STUDIO and HIGHLAND STUDIO. Like the Beatles’ song “With A Little Help From My Friends”, I have called on some friends who I felt best suited the songs that I was recording. Each musician shared his talent and time with me. They respected me enough to give me quality performances on the songs the way I wrote them. I am truly lucky to have friends like these.”

Over the past year Living It Up has received lots of attention through radio, local and online press, where Rick (a featured guest on) Sea Of Tranquility Living It Up was featured in a great review as well as an interview with Rick, and made the show’s Top 50 releases for 2022. Adds Rick – “All songs are original songs that I wrote or collaborated with.  To date, 17 songs out of 24 from my latest album have gotten airplay on radio nationally and internationally.”

Not sure wheat I expected, but I am liking this the more I dig in to it. And Living It Up gets better the more I go back to it. Heck, 24 songs to check out and return to. Most impressive here in not the quantity (OK, a little) – but more so the overall performances and solid production. This sounds better than many major releases sound-wise. And songs, well that is the basis for any decent album, and there is plenty here, and plenty that I find myself returning to.

Living It Up touches on pop rock, hard rock, blues, progressive,… Things kick off rockin’ with “Fragile” and “Full Speed Ahead” – both tracks featuring Davey Rimmer of Uriah Heep on bass and Dusty D’Annunsio (Mark Farner’s American Band) on guitar, as well as drummer Todd Lalonde (Orion Sons) on the opener and Heep’s Russell Gilbrook (drums) on the 2nd, as well as guitarist Chuck Lambrick (Teaze) on the latter. So things are off to a good start. Lalonde plays on most of this album, and I imagine the other numerous players here are from the band’s Rick plays with (notably The Formula) as well as local Windsor bands. But anyway, aside from the first 2 cuts, there’s a number of early favorites here – “I Believe” (feat Rick Carr on lead guitar), “Coda” (a bit of a lighter upbeat track that features Russell Gilbrook, as well as Rick on acoustic guitar and various keyboards), the ballad “It’s A Matter Of Time” (with a nice vocal arrangement, featuring co-writer Jim Kickham on lead guitar). Gotta say, although this set rocks in places – like “Cabin Fever”, it is many of the lighter tunes that stand out, like “Tell Me Now” and “Colour Blind”, as well as the bluesy “Moved On” – which features Joe Konas (The Gods) on lead guitar.

Living It Up is highly recommended, not just for it’s guests , but for it’s songwriting, performances, and production. Kudos to Luc Michaud who played various instruments (all throughout this), as well as co-wrote a few songs here, plus Kevin K. Gagnon & David Pastorius (Pat Travers) – who play bass on a number of tracks each. Excellent album cover-art also (Dan Boshart,  Marlene Nead,  and Rick LaBonté). Will be interesting to see how Rick can follow Living It Up…up.

Tracklisting:

Fragile
Full Speed Ahead
Let It Show
Living It Up
All To Yourself
Since I Met You
Moved On
Now And Then
Time Well Spent
Tell Me Now
You
The Gallery Of Love

Cabin Fever
My Opinion
I Believe
Night Shift
It’s A Matter Of TIme
Coda
Drama
Jane Doe
No Way
Memory Lane
Colour Blind
Big Brother

Musicians:

Jeff Burrows (Drums) – The Tea Party, The Saints
Russell Gilbrook (Drums) – Uriah Heep
Davey Rimmer (Bass) – Uriah Heep
David Pastorius (Bass) – Pat Travers Band, Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy
Dusty D’Annunzio (Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals) – Mark Farner’s American Band
Chuck Lambrick (Lead Guitar, Ebow, Slide Guitar) – Teaze, Greatest Hits Live
Joe Konas (Lead Guitar) – The Gods
Michael Hereford (Piano) – British Beat 66
Dale D’Amore (Rhythm and Lead Guitar) – Guitar Army
Mike Fortier (Bass) – Guitar Army
John Kersey (Bass) – The Blues Side, The Ride
Nino Maniaci (Bass) – The Source
Kevin K. Gagnon (Bass and Backing Vocals) – The Formula
Wayne Bracewell (Drums and Backing Vocals) – The Formula
Jim Kickham (Lead Guitar and Backing Vocals) – formerly The Formula
Ron McMinn (Lead Guitar) – formerly The Buzzard Band and The Blues Side
Kevin Peterson (Bass) – The Soulminors
Rick Carr (Lead Guitar) – Crack The Whip
Allan Kenney (Lead Guitar) – Vital Sines, The Formula
Mark Steven (Drums) – Smoking Purple Monkey Gang
Kristopher Marentette (Piano, Keyboards) – J# Major
Jim O’ Neil (Lead Guitar) – J# Major
Todd Lalonde (Drums) – Orion Sons
Luc Michaud (Bass, Drums, Keyboards, Rhythm and Lead Guitar, Lap Steel Guitar, Percussions, Backing Vocals) – Bigg Wiggle
Vic Do Rego (Bass) – Playing Ground, Audiowaves
Paul Rigelhof (12 String Acoustic Guitar) – Centerpeace, Icy Redd
Dillon James (Drums) – The Blues Side

Living It Up album is available on Spotify, i-tunes and YouTube and at Rick’s website : www.ricklabonte.com

Links:

https://www.ricklabonte.com/index.php

https://www.facebook.com/RickLaBonte2016/

https://www.youtube.com/@ricklabonte6790

GLENN HUGHES to perform classic Deep Purple live – Celebrating 50th Anniversary of Burn with UK Tour

Former DEEP PURPLE bass player, and these days of The DEAD DAISIES, will be undertaking a UK tour in October to celebrate Deep Purple’s 1974 album Burn.

Burn was the first of 3 studio albums Hughes was on while with Deep Purple, as well as new frontman David Coverdale. It would be their most successful of the 3, as it landed in the top 10 in most countries, including #1 in Germany & Austria, #3 in the UK, and #7 in Canada. The title track that kicked off the album is arguably the best album opener in the Deep Purple catalogue. The song was used in the movie Almost Famous, and has been covered numerous times, notably by Riot, Jorn Lande, and WASP. Burn also featured the single “Might Just Take Your Life”, as well as favorites “Sail Away” and epic “Mistreated”.

Glenn Hughes’ band will feature Soren Andersen (guitar), Ash Sheehan (drums) and Bob Fridzema (keyboards). The set will also include songs from the 2 albums that came after Burn with Hughes’ – Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band.

For more info, check out below from the press release, as well as tour dates!

GLENN HUGHES PERFORMS CLASSIC DEEP PURPLE LIVE
CELEBRATING THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF “BURN”

Planet Rock’s 48-hour ticket pre-sale starts 10am on Tuesday 21 February 2023 VIA WWW.PLANETROCK.COM

Tickets on general sale at 10am Thursday 23 February 2023 from – WWW.THEGIGCARTEL.COM

Glenn Hughes, the former bassist, and singer of Deep Purple, known to millions as the ‘Voice of Rock’, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is pleased to announce, ‘Glenn Hughes Performs Classic Deep Purple Live – Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the album BURN’ October 2023 UK tour.

*Special guest on all UK shows is Canadian rock and roll band, The Damn Truth.

‘It was 50 years ago, in the summer of 1973, that the BURN album by Deep Purple was written at Clearwell Castle in the Forest of Dean Gloucestershire,” reminisces Glenn. “It was recorded in October in Montreux, Switzerland.”

Continues Hughes, “We all became one in this centuries old castle in the UK countryside, it felt like Deep were a new band, with David (Coverdale) and I as new members, we couldn’t wait to start working on new songs. The atmosphere was electric, in such amazing surroundings.” 

“All the songs on BURN were written in the crypt/dungeon, underneath the great hall. We worked on a new song every day, and we were in the flow. Musically we would play, and work out ideas, and David and I would come up with vocal melodies that would later have lyrics. I remember it like it was yesterday.”

“As you could imagine, Ritchie Blackmore was in full prankster mode, Jon had warned me, and he rigged my room one night with a speaker that was hidden, and had ghostly voices delivered to my bedside.”

“The title track was the last song to be written. We came back from the pub, and went down into the crypt, and magic happened.”

Concludes Hughes, “It’s time to celebrate BURN, and I’m really looking forward to seeing you.”

DEEP PURPLE – THE STORY BEHIND “BURN”

“BURN” is the eighth studio album by the English rock band Deep Purple, written and recorded in 1973, and released in February 1974. The album was the first to feature then-unknown David Coverdale on vocals and Glenn Hughes, from Trapeze, on bass and vocals.

The album was recorded in Montreux, Switzerland, in November 1973, with the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio. With the addition of David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes, Deep Purple’s hard rock sound incorporated elements of soul and funk, which would become much more prominent on the follow-up album, “Stormbringer.”

In 2004 “BURN” was remastered and released with bonus tracks. Coronarias Redig was recorded during the “BURN” recording sessions, used only as a B-side for the Might Just Take Your Life single in 1974. It appears as a bonus track (in remixed form) on the anniversary edition re-release. The 2004 remix version of “BURN” was later used in “Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.”

In 2005 an unauthorised documentary about the album was produced as part of “The Ultimate Critical Review” series. It featured brand new interview with the original Deep Purple Mk III bassist and vocalist Glenn Hughes.

Lead single “Might Just Take Your Life,” released 4 March, was Deep Purple’s first UK single in two years.

The phenomenal title track started things off at full throttle and challenged the seminal “Highway Star” for the honour of best opener to any Deep Purple album, while showcasing the always impressive drumming of Ian Paice. The fantastic slow-boiling blues of “Mistreated’s” greatness qualifies it for the highest echelons of hard rock achievement, and therefore ranks as an essential item in the discography of any self-respecting music fan.

LINKS:

http://www.glennhughes.com

https://www.facebook.com/glennhughesonline

https://www.loudersound.com/features/every-song-on-deep-purples-burn-ranked-from-worst-to-best

*Photos of Glenn Hughes by Eric Duvet

Blackwulf – Thieves & Liars out now!

The 4th album from Oakland’s Blackwulf is now out. Thieves & Liars, featuring 9 tracks, notably the lead off cut & single “Shadow” . These guys deliver a solid massive ’70s inspired heavy album that is not short on killer doomy riffs, hooks and solos, with great vocals that are somewherez between a younger + heavier Ozzy and a young Rob Halford, at times — this, along with melodies and changes should appeal to fans of Black Sabbath and early Judas Priest fans, among others heavy ’70s . Of the 9 tracks that run together nicely, check out the title track, which oddly reminds me of Sabbath’s “Heaven And Hell”, as well as cuts like “Seems To Me”, “Failed Resistance” and “Brother” (w/ singer Alex Cunningham sounding like a younger Rob Halford at times) – all easily likable heavy doom metal rockers. Thieves & Liars is also highlighted by the 8 and a half minute epic “Psychonaut/Edge Of Light”, which featured one great heavy slower doom number that fades in to the ballad featuring acoustic guitars…which blends in to the brief atmospheric instrumental “Mysteries Of This”. One of those albums that just flows so well from track to track, with no duds, and is over before ya know it. Awesome cover art from David North.

*You can order Thieves & Liars on vinyl (colored, splatter, black), as well as CD and digital download at – https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/thieves-and-liars

BLACKWÜLF links
WebsiteFacebookBandcampInstagramSpotifyRIPPLE MUSIC links
WebsiteFacebookBandcampInstagram

ALEX NAPIER – RIP, Uriah Heep’s original drummer

Drummer Alex Napier passed away on January 19. He was the original drummer for Uriah Heep, the first in a number of drummers in the band’s early years. Napier was born in Glasgow in 1947. He joined Spice, taking over for Nigel Pegrum, well before the band added keyboard player Ken Hensley and changed their name to Uriah Heep. It is Alex Napier who drummed on the Heep classic “Gypsy”, as well as “Come Away Melinda”, “Wake Up (Set Your Sights)”, and favorites like “Walking In Your Shadow” and “I’ll Keep On Tryin'” on the band’s 1970 debut album Very ‘Eavy…Very ‘Umble . He also played on numerous Spice demos and unreleased from 1969 that were later released on The Lansdowne Tapes CD in 1993.

Paul Newton posted – “…Alex was a strong, powerful player who has been virtually ignored and unrecognized for his work and contribution to Heep’s success. He was a tough, larger-than-life no-nonsense guy who didn’t take shit from anyone so not ideal for those intent on dodgy dealings…Gerry Bron & Ken Hensley were terrified of him but for me a good kind friend back then.”

Alex left the band due to family commitments (the band not making enough in those days to support a young family). After Uriah Heep Alex Napier would play with other bands, such as one called Prism alongside friend Peter Harrison whom I swapped messages with years ago – “(Alex) as a drummer, was a joy to behold. It’s like watching a ballet, he could do more with his feet on double bass drums than most guys could do with their hands. A f**king amazing drummer!” Napier also had the Alex Napier Band (The Party) around 1980-81. This band featured singer Tony Mason, and recorded a 2 song demo (which can be found on Youtube). Alex eventually retired from playing, and worked as a cabinet maker, according to Harrison. “The last time I’d saw him he had quit playing and was teaching his son. He [his son] was playing drums and using his dad’s kit.”

There’s never been a lot of photos out there showing Alex Napier’s time with Spice & Uriah Heep. He left before the debut album Very ‘Eavy, Very ‘Umble was completed, and by the time the band’s first single “Gypsy” was released Keith Baker was the drummer (who played on the B-side “Bird Of Prey”, and appeared on the single sleeve and subsequent band photos). Napier is often overlooked in the band’s history, often seen as just one in a line of many early drummers that played on the band’s first 3 albums. But his performances on that album are brilliant, having left his mark on a classic on a classic British heavy prog rock album. RIP

LINKS:

https://www.metal-archives.com/bands/Alex_Napier_Band/3540506197

http://www.uriah-heep.com

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100068876917840

https://www.discogs.com/master/372799-Uriah-Heep-The-Lansdowne-Tapes

OUTLAWS Release Their ANTHOLOGY – LIVE & RARE In A Deluxe 4LP Box Set!

The Outlaws Anthology (Live and Rare) has been reissued on vinyl. This set was originally released in 2012 as a 4 CD set. The new 4-LP box set comes with book, and colored LPs, and with new artwork. The Outlaws were one of those classic American bands who played southern rock, with elements of country and hard rock. as well. They had a number of hits such as a cover of Stanley Jones 1961 hit “Ghost Riders In The Sky”, as well as “There Goes Another Love Song”, and perhaps best known epic jam “Green Grass & High Tides”. * For more on this release, check out the press release below.

At the crossroads of Southern Rock and Traditional Country music stood one band – Outlaws. Led by a superb triple guitar assault of Hughie Thomasson, Henry Paul and Billy Jones, later dubbed The Florida Guitar Army, Outlaws found themselves at the center of the Southern rock whirlwind of the early ‘70s with no less than Lynyrd Skynyrd frontman Ronnie Van Zant singing the band’s praises to anyone who would listen including Arista Records founder Clive Davis, who would sign Outlaws and issue their first 7 studio albums.

Listening to this box set of live recordings and rare demos, Anthology – Live & Rare, it’s easy to see why. The band were a uniquely electrifying group who wrote and performed together as if they had been playing as a group for decades rather than just the few years it had actually been. These recordings have been released previously on CD and digital but this is the first time that most of these early live recordings have been issued on vinyl. Taken altogether, Anthology – Live & Rare is over 3 hours of incredible southern fried rock showcasing the band at the very height of their powers, playing such epics as “Green Grass & High Tides” plus “There Goes Another Love Song,” “Hurry Sundown,” and lots more!

Each of the 4LPs comes in a unique color with its own full-color sleeve and packaged in a clamshell box with a large 16-page color booklet filled with rare photos and informative liner notes. Available everywhere starting March 31!

Order the vinyl box set: https://cleorecs.com/store/shop/outlaws-anthology-live-rare-4-vinyl-blue-red-white-purple/

Track List:

LP1 SIDE A
Denver, CO (August 1975)
1. Waterhole
2. Stick Around For Rock & Roll
3. Knoxville Girl
4. There Goes Another Love Song
STUDIO DEMO
5. Song For You

LP1 SIDE B
Bryn Mawr, PA (August 1975)
1. Song For You
2. Prisoner
3. Redneck Friend
Cleveland, OH (September 1975)
4. There Goes Another Love Song
5. Freeborn Man
STUDIO DEMO
6. Never See Your Face

LP2 SIDE A
Cleveland, OH (September 1975)
1. Kansas City Queen
Record Plant – Sausalito, CA (November 1975)
2. Song In The Breeze
3. Knoxville Girl
4. Cry No More

LP2 SIDE B
Record Plant – Sausalito, CA (November 1975)
1. Green Grass & High Tides
STUDIO DEMOS
2. It Follows From The Heart
3. Freeborn Man

LP3 SIDE A
Record Plant – Los Angeles, CA (November 1976)
1. Waterhole
2. Stick Around For Rock & Roll
3. Song In The Breeze
4. Lover Boy
5. Freeborn Man

LP3 SIDE B
Record Plant – Los Angeles, CA (November 1976)
1. Cry No More
2. Knoxville Girl
3. Green Grass & High Tides
4. There Goes Another Love Song

LP4 SIDE A
STUDIO DEMOS
1. Gunsmoke
2. Holiday
3. Hurry Sundown
4. Cold & Lonesome
5. Night Wines
6. Heavenly Blues

LP4 SIDE B
STUDIO DEMOS
1. Windy Cities Blues
2. Nighttime’s Passing Dream
3. True Love At First Sight
4. Where Does It Go From There
5. Goodbye Tupelo
6. Alone With You Again
7. Two Time Blues

LINKS:

https://www.outlawsmusic.com/

https://www.facebook.com/outlawsmusic

https://www.youtube.com/@OutlawsVideo/featured

BLACK STAR RIDERS: Interview with Ricky Warwick

photo: Ross Halfin

Ricky Warwick is the lead singer, guitar player, and main songwriter in Black Star Riders. BSR began as a reformed Thin Lizzy, but changed the name when they decided to move on to recording original material. The band’s brand new (and fifth) album is titled Wrong Side Of Paradise (Earache Records), and features the singles “Riding Out The Storm” and “Better Than Saturday Night” (featuring Joe Elliott).

I recently spoke to Ricky about the band’s new album, new line-up, and upcoming tour, among things. Check it out, and check out the links below!

What’s the current line-up of Black Star Riders? You’ve had more changes since making the album.

Yeah, Christian Martucci is no longer with us. He’s had to go back to Corey Taylor because Corey’s busy, working on a new solo record. So sadly Christian had to depart because that’s really Christian’s main gig and the pandemic kinda screwed with our time-line a little bit, and availability and stuff like that. So, right now the line-up of the band is myself, Robbie Crane on bass, Sam Wood on (the other) guitar, and Zak St John on drums. But, for the current 10th Anniversary tour we’re doing in the UK we have Jimmy DeGrasso back on drums, and Scott Gorham is rejoining for the tour – but this tour only!

On the new album you’ve handled most of the writing. How did that go because on previous albums you worked with Scott …

Well I’ve always done the majority of the writing on every Black Star Riders record. I split it with sorta Damon Johnson but i wrote most of the main guitar riffs, I’ve always done that. So it wasn’t really any different for me, I just continued doing what I was doing, and bounce some ideas off Christian. So it didn’t really phase me, I’m a songwriter that’s kinda what I do. You know, Scott didn’t bring in a lot of ideas but what he brought in was always amazing! He’d bring 3 or 4 ideas in on a record, and they were always just fantastic, as you can imagine. So, it wasn’t like suddenly it was all down to me to write it on my own because I’d been doing a bunch of that anyway. Just with the pandemic and not being able to get together I just felt I was able to finish more of the songs on my own before sending them to the guys this time. And in fairness – when I sent them to the guys they were like ‘These are done, let’s record them! We don’t really want to change anything.’ So that’s good on those guys for not tinkering with my vision of what the songs were and just getting it. And that’s just the way it worked out this time around, really.

You’ve got a lot of great riffs on the album. What is your process for coming up with ideas and that? Do you carry around a recorder?

Yeah, it’s old-school. It’s an I-phone, it’s as simple as that. Everything is sung and played in to my I-phone, and then i ‘garage-band’ it, very very basic, and send it to the others and get their input and see what they think. I’m a big believer in the song has to be something you can sit down and play and I’d say 90& of when we write is based around that in it’s purest form so you can pick up an acoustic guitar and play the song right through. And then you can start to embellish it, take it apart and start adding riffs and ideas and stuff like that.

Lyric-wise, what do you draw from?

Everything! Lyrics to me, you’re giving your opinion – your opinion on the world, and your life as you see it, and what effects you. Lyrics are like a diary, so that’s just really what it is – ‘this is what I think, and this is what’s going on around me, this is what’s happening to my friends, my family, and this is what I think is going on politically in the world.’ And you’re giving an opinion. I like to tell stories, I like to create a lot of images lyrically, as well, and bring the person in and have some narrative going on. That’s because the lyricists I admire tend to write that way as well.

Can you talk about a few of the songs here, like the title track, Riding Out The Storm, and Better Than Saturday Night – those all stand out.

Sure. ‘Wrong Side of Paradise’ came about out of sheer frustration with the fact that as a species in society, we have all this fantastic technology and all this wealth and instead of it making us better it seems to be dragging us backwards and making us worse. There’s more hunger and starvation and bigotry and hatred; it’s just complete craziness going on in the world – more than there ever seems to be, when we have the means at our disposal to make the world a better place. And growing up in Northern Ireland I saw what hatred and bigotry and guns and bombs did all throughout my childhood. And it solves nothing, we don’t seem to learn from it, we just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. And it’s people working 3 jobs just to keep a job over their heads, and people just can’t get a head in life, you can’t get that little bit of hope, and we’re all chasing that dream, you know just to get a little piece, and we’re just lied to by politicians, there’s people that are in power that I think should be locked up in jail, and lots of those people should not be anywhere near deciding what’s right for humanity. And it’s just sad. And it’s really directed at that and people that buy in to the whole myth and that whole lie that they have our best interests at heart – because they don’t. And we keep making the same mistakes. So that’s really where ‘Wrong Side Of Paradise’ is about.
‘Riding Out The Storm’ is quite a personal song. It’s quite a narrative of where I’m at in my own life, after losing my parents over the last couple of years and some close friends that passed away, and myself getting older, and the road ahead of me is definitely shorter than the road behind me, And just where I see the rest of my life and where I see what’s happened in the road that I’ve gone down, the choices that I’ve made, the friends that I’ve made And lost. It’s just a reflection of my own life. You know, I gave up drinking alcohol about a year ago and it’s mentioned in the lyrics that ‘the devil comes out when the whiskey goes in’ – I could trace a lot of bad decisions and things being associated with that. And when I stopped things got infintely better. It’s just a reflection on growing up where I grew up and the culture that I grew up in.
And ‘Better Than Saturday Night’ I wrote for my youngest daughter, because she’s such an inspiration – she’s so full of life, she’s so positive, she’s so great. I love her attitude, I love the way she deals with things, and I just find that really inspiring so I wrote that song for her. And that’s just a real upbeat, positive tune.

There’s a lot of great tunes here – As far as the live set, how much of it do you hope to play and put in to the live show?

Thank you. We’re playing a few; I think we’re playing 5 from the new record in a 20 song set. So plenty of old material, but you’re going to get 5 new songs as well.

Where did the idea to cover Crazy Horses come from?

(haha). You know, I’ve just always loved that song since I was a kid, and the guys dug it as well. And I said ‘we should just do it’, and we started messing around with it, and it sounded really good, and they said ‘just do it, let’s put it on the album.’ This is the first cover version that Black Star Riders have ever done. People wouldn’t think that would be an obvious choice for us, but it’s such a great riff and a great song. And great lyrics – there’s great meaning in those lyrics. They were way ahead of their time when they’re talking about the pollution of the planet back in the early ’70s. It just always resonated with me, and I thought let’s just do it, let’s have some fun with it, nothing other than that.

So Scott’s gone on to do the Thin Lizzy thing again, will you be involved with that?

Absolutely, yes!

Is there anything lined up with that?

I’m not sure. I really kinda let Scott that’s his thing, I’ll let him work on that. And if he’s ‘Hey we got some shows.’ Boom – I’m there! I know he’s working on some stuff for later in the year, so I’m sure when it’s all put in place I’ll get a call. So yeah, I’m very much still involved in that, which I’m very honored to be, of course!

The Live and Dangerous box came out, did you get it?

Not yet, it came out a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been in the UK for the last (almost) 3 weeks now, so I believe there’s one waiting for me when I get back to Los Angeles.

How much of an impact did that album have on you?

Huge! Thin Lizzy had a huge impact on me.. and still do to this day. It’s an honor and a privilege that I get to sing those songs, but take away and I’m a Thin Lizzy fanatic – I’m a nut! Phil, to me is the greatest frontman that there ever was. So yeah – huge impact, I can’t stress that enough!

So you have a UK tour coming up. With Scott being there, will that also include songs from the new album?

Oh yeah, we’re absolutely playing songs from the new album. Scott won’t be playing on those. What happens is we come out as a 4-piece and we do about a half dozen songs as a 4-piece and some songs from the new album, and then Scott comes out and rejoins us, and we do stuff from the back catalogue for the rest of the show.

Simon McBride is also from Northern Ireland, I’m wondering what your thoughts are on his being apart of Deep Purple(?)

Oh that’s great! I don’t know Simon, I’ve never met him. But that’s a fantastic opportunity for him, and he’s a great guitar player, so I’m sure he’ll do really really well.

I usually ask people for a Top 10, so I was wondering if you can give me a few albums, obviously the Thin Lizzy stuff….What other albums growing up..

Nevermind The Bollocks by the Sex Pistols, No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith Motorhead, Stiff Little Fingers – Inflammable Material , MC5 – Kick Out The Jams, London Calling by The Clash, Ogdens Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces… yeah, stuff like that. It’s hard to pick 10 off the top of my head.

Are you familiar with any Canadian bands?

Yeah. I’m a big fan of Danko Jones. I love Danko, I think he’s brilliant, I think the band’s great, I think they’re an amazing band. Obviously so many greats like Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Can you give me a few words on the new album cover?

It just depicts me growing up in Northern Ireland where barricades and walls were everywhere because of the situation back then. You know as a kid I was always like ‘Why is our street barricaded off? Why is there a wall there? What’s on the other side of it? Is it better?’ You become fascinated with it. And sadly, I think as we’ve gone on we’re still erecting walls, we’re still erecting barricades to keep us segregated and separated instead of building bridges to unite us and bring us together and get a bit more empathy and understanding going on in the world.

With all the albums coming out, the variants and stuff – do you keep a collection yourself?

I do! I’m a big vinyl junkie myself. I’ve just done a huge in-store tour in the UK where I did 20 record stores in the last 13 days, And I played acoustically at every in-store as well. I love vinyl, and I love record stores. It’s a great way to meet people who have bought the new album. It was fantastic! So yeah, I’m full on when it comes to that.

Anything else you can tell me about the new album?

Well, obviously we’ve got Joe Elliott singing on ‘Better Than Saturday Night’, so that’s cool – if people want to check that out. Joe’s on there, and sounding great! It’s just a killer record! I’m really proud of it. I think it sounds huge, and it rocks very very hard, and people should check it out.

How did you get Joe on the album?

Joe has been a friend for many many years, and Joe produced 2 of my solo records. He’s a really good friend, and I’ve collaborated before with him on stuff. It’s just a no-brainer, I thought he’d be great on the track, and he’s only too happy to do it, which is just amazing.

Links:

https://webstore.earache.com/black-star-riders

Website: https://www.blackstarriders.com

https://www.facebook.com/BlackStarRidersOfficial

https://www.facebook.com/rickywarwickofficial/

https://www.instagram.com/blackstarriders/

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/1COfrboArH3tNjlhFsG5ys?si=ZxBgd0ckTiCjVe4hp7i6wg&nd=1

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWzvnsjhqlGfpXBtpXqp-ug

KJ, 02/23