Since German based rockers Lucifers Friend reunited 4 years ago they’ve been very busy. what started out as a ‘best of’ compilation with a few new songs grew into a few live shows, a live album, more live shows, a new studio, and now their latest – “Black Moon” – the band’s 4th release in as many years. Founding members – Peter Hesslein [guitar, keyboards], Dieter Horns [bass], and John Lawton [vocals], along with [drummer] Stephan Eggert, and a handful of guests on this album.
First off – love the album artwork, paintings by Damian Bydinski. LF had a few classic album covers in the 70s, and I love this one, even including the original characters from the debut album [nearing 50 years]. My only beef is there’s no vinyl LP available for this album. Oh well…

LF black moon
Too Late To Hate was released in 2016. It was a decent album, but I think Black Moon is a step up. The title track is great opener; LF fans will easily dig this rocker; added trumpet solo and congas are a nice touch [this band usually mixed it up with brass, and different instruments on early albums]. The 2nd track here is “Passengers”, a more progressive rocker, love the lengthy intro; this one bounces along with Lawton’s vocals coming in and the song building back up. In their earliest days LF drew comparisons to the likes of Deep Purple & Uriah Heep, and certainly the first few songs will impress fans looking for those sounds. Black Moon keeps up a pretty good pace with “Rolling The Stone”, “Palace Of Fools” and “Call The Captain” – another favorite here, a bit of a pop-rocker, but a good tune and memorable chorus. There’s some decent more poppy tunes in “Behind The Smile” and “Glory Days”, these remind me a bit of the band’s “Sumo Grip” stuff. Featured ballad is “Little Man”, a bit of blues and soul – perfectly suited for Lawton’s voice, and a brief / cool guitar break from Hesslein.

Interesting thing about this band is they could never be categorized. Starting out as a very heavy band, then veering in to jazz, fusion, pop, prog,.. so aside from good songs and great vocals, don’t have any pre-conceived ideas of what to expect. [And here one could easily stick a good few tracks amongst their early LF favorites]. Yeah – I’d like this band to make a really heavy album [and turn up the guitar], but Lucifer’s Friend is not that band this time out, and those that like the band’s past albums will be quite happy with Black Moon.

KJJ, 05/’19

URIAH HEEP – Interview – New Album and New Tour !

Uriah Heep’s 25th studio album was released on September 14 and it has received great reviews from the music press and fans. It has also charted in many countries, including Germany – where it has been in the top 10 — The band’s most successful album upon release in decades, and one that many long-time fans hail as the band’s best since 1995’s Sea Of Light! If you have not heard it yet or looking for some new heavy classic rock – check it out!

UH - 2018

Here the band answers questions about the making of the album, some of the songs, and upcoming tour.

I am looking forward to 2019 – hoping many of the new songs feature in the band’s upcoming set.

If you haven’t ordered the album, there’s still a few items left at
also, check out

For upcoming tour dates and additional interviews and reviews on Living The Dream – visit :

First of all – Congrats on a Great new album!

Reviews and fans are all really happy with this album. [Many hailing as the best album since Sea of Light – or longer]. How was the feeling when it was finally done – Do you ever get that “this is going to be spectacular” thought when you’re done recording something new?

Mick: We definitely knew that what we had recorded we were very proud of, but until it is released into the masses you really have no idea. However both the media and the fans alike have given it the thumbs up, so we are delighted about that.

LTD has got a very lively and heavy sound to it. No doubt Jay Ruston got the best out of you guys. What was it about his approach that has brought out such a big live feel to this album?

Mick: The scoop on getting Jay to Produce us was to stay true to our heritage, but bring to it a freshness of sound. Jay has great set of ears for separation of sound, but it still ends up with everything powerful and cohesive.

You have an album with 10 really strong songs. Did you approach preparing for this one any different than the previous few Heep albums?

Mick: We were lucky enough to have some pre-production time whereby the band could spend time on the arrangements etc. This was very beneficial and then we made rough demo’s to send to Jay in Los Angeles. We recorded it in 19 days as we played as a band in the studio.

Take Away My Soul has drawn comparisons to the classic Between Two Worlds. What can you tell about that song and sort of where it stands for you amongst the Heep classics?

Mick: It is a strong rock sound with a good melody and very Heep. As for where it stands amongst Heep Classics only time will tell, but it has all the hallmarks of doing just that.

Knocking At My Door deals with mental health issues of fear, and is a solid rocker. How did that one come about lyrically and musically? [it’s a favorite]

Mick: I had the riff written and when my writing partner Phil Lanzon and I got together it moved along very quickly. It is about someone who hears things in his or her head, which to be honest has happened to many people I have known that smoke too much dope over a number off years. They end up paranoid!

There’s room for a good bit more instrumental moments on this album, most notably Rocks In The Road and It’s All Been Said. Are such songs [with a few dynamic changes in them] written as whole or are any kinda different song ideas put together or even jammed out a bit during recording?

Mick: They are written as a whole. Phil and I decided early on in the writing process that if a song needed to breathe, we would allow that to happen rather than stick to the verse, middle, chorus format.

Water’s Flowin’ is the first Heep ballad in a few albums. And its very different to anything the band’s done before. What kinda inspired that one musically?

Mick: I wrote the music for it in France a while ago, and when I played it to Phil he was quick to start adding a melody and lyrics. It has a neat story line about a guy who plays guitar by the waters edge and attracts a huge following. Then one day he is not there, and all that is found is his guitar. The question being would that guitar ever play that popular song again.

for Dave – this is your 2nd Heep album – what has been the difference to working on the last album as the new guy? and might we see more songs from Dave in the future? [Write much?]

Dave: I was very much the new guy on the last ‘Outsider’ album there wasn’t much time to think, we recorded it very quickly then went on a world tour..’Living The Dream’ we had more time to prepare the material, plus all time we spent on the road working together really comes through on the new album. I feel very proud to have written ‘Grazed by Heaven’ a collaboration between myself and Jeff Scott Soto on a Uriah Heep album, and I will present more songs to the band in the future.

Russell – How does this comapre to your experience with past Heep albums? Living The Dream seems to have so much more going as players, with changes, some cool intros, etc…

Russell: Well we decided that we wanted this album to have more instrumental bits in it which shows off our playing skills more…. This was easier to achieve as we had pre-production time to work on these ideas and get them sounding good….
That’s the best thing about pre-production, it allows you time to develop the songs into the results you hear now…

There are so many fantastic songs on LTD – how many do you foresee putting in to the live set? [would love to see more than half 🙂 . ] And do you foresee any arguments?

Mick: We have to be sensible, as we are aware that people who come to our concerts like to hear the classics like – July Morning, Gypsy, Easy Livin’ and Lady in Black. We then try and see what works musically and key-wise once we start putting a set list together. We never know until rehearsals start; but there will be no arguments as everything happens naturally.

Can you tell me a bit about the cover art and how it came about? It was obviously chosen some time ago.

Mick: I had the idea which the band liked and we sent it to our manager Ace Trump in Los Angeles, and he worked with an artist he knew, to bring it all to fruition.

The band’s tour of North America this year was probably the biggest tour the bands undertaken here in decades! and seemed very successful. How happy were you with the that sort of ‘return’ here, and when might we expect the band back here on the LTD tour?

Mick: We were super delighted with the response, with many sell out concerts. It was so successful that we will definitely be putting a long tour of dates together for 2019 and every year thereafter.

There hasn’t been any ‘official bootleg’ live releases for some time. will this series of releases possibly come back in the near future? Have a few shows been recorded over the past few tours for future release?

Mick: None that I know of, and we did not want anything in the market place to interrupt the flow of ‘Living the Dream’ being released.

a few links:

09/18. KJJ

Steve Morse of Deep Purple : Interview from 2000

As Deep Purple’s “Long Goodbye” Tour [something like that!?] comes this way again, i wonder [and presume] it could be my last time to see them. I did see them back in 1997 in Toronto, at The Warehouse, and was fortunate enough to meet them outsiude afterwards and get a few things signed. A few years later I was able to do a phone interview with guitarist Steve Morse. Here is that interview, re-posted from the summer of 2000.

An Interview With DEEP PURPLE’s Guitarist on The Release of His Own Newest Solo Project. Steve Morse has become one of the most well know guitar players in the rock world today.
Through his years with his own trio, as well as The Dixie Dregs, Kansas, and in more recent years Deep Purple! Following the album “Purpendicular” [95], Steve Morse released his own “Stressfest” album [96 Windham Hill], followed by a few appearances on Magna Carta’s tribute releases, another DP studio album – “Abandon”, and a few DP live releases [most recently with the London Symphony Orchestra].
Morse’s most recent project was his new solo album “Major Impacts”, on Magna Carta, and featuring the rhythm section of Dave LaRue [bass] and Van Romaine [drums]. Major Impacts sees Morse paying tribute to some of his own guitar influences via instrumental pieces that resemble those particular guitarists.
Here I had the opportunity to talk with Steve about his new album, as well as few stories from Deep Purple tours, his Kansas days, and some info on his early years, and thoughts on guitar and music today.

For more on Steve Morse check out or Or for more info on his Magna Carta release and other MC projects

Q: The new album is basically based on all your influences and stuff?
SM: Yea, stuff that was part of my really early life of playing.

Q: How did the idea come about to do an album like this, as far as influences as stuff?
SM: Interestingly enough it was the record company that came up with that – Magna Carta. They’re quite a good label to work with and they came up with the whole idea themselves, and it seemed like a good idea for me.

Q: How did you go about narrowing it down as far as guitarists you picked and everything? Did you have a list or an agenda?
SM: Yeah, I sort of made a list mentally, and then just thought of which of them gave me an idea of where to start, you know.

Q: What went into the individual thought to certain tracks, as far as how you put them together?
SM: Some on words. A good starting point for me was to think of one tune that I really loved, where several times – like the Keith Richards one I was thinking of, his rhythm guitar that Keith Richards played a lot like “Start Me Up” or even “Street Fighting Man” or “Brown Sugar”, and then “Honky Tonk Woman” – there was a really neat kinda funky country thing that he did that I really loved, that was kinda like the verses of the tune, and then it rides out with a different feel, kinda like “Gimme Shelter”. The Zeppelin thing i started with an idea…when I saw Zeppelin live in ’69, I was struck with this song “Black Mountain Side” – which Jimmy Page played live; I thought it was so that this really heavy type of band had taken the time to do this acoustic type piece, along with the open tuning, an so that’s how it begins, and then i kind of incorporate some of the Indian influenced melodies that he does. And then I wanted to have a heavy section, and then combine all those things together at the end – that was what the plan was.

Q: You’ve got quite a wide range of guitar players on here, like the late 60s – Beck and Clapton – kind of the standard guys, plus like Leslie West and George Harrison, and the Allman Brothers. I guess you’re in to the Southern Rock stuff from being from down there!? How much was the Southern Rock influence on you?
SM: It was one of the things i wanted to do, but i thought maybe that on another , a second vine would be better, because I had the Allman Brothers thing already, but I hadn’t finished coming up with a thing yet for Lynyrd Skynyrd – that was a big influence. I like Southern Rock stuff.

Q: I guess that stuff’s still big there, where you are!?
SM: I don’t know what’s big, except everybody wearing pants so their underwear shows; that’s the only thing that I can identify as a constant influence here in America [ha ha]. I don’t know what people like. Every young kid that drives by seems to have a lot of low end in their cars, like the sub-wiffers really loud.

Q: Can you tell me a little about each of the tracks as far as inspirations go – the Hendrix track, Jeff Beck… you got Alex Lifeson here of Rush. I think Alex is pretty underrated, because when most people talk about Rush they usually talk about Neil Peart …..
SM: Yeah, I like Rush a lot. We got to open for them on a tour in the 80s, the “Power Windows” tour. They were a pleasure to listen to every night. Alex, one of the things he did that I thought was so cool was to come up with these nice big voicings, and then come up with a melody out of a chord voicing, and incorporate that into a part. I’ve listen to a lot of guitar players that play with just a trio, and it’s a tough gig to do for any guitar player, and all three of those guys – Eric Johnson, Jeff Beck, and Alex Lifeson played in trios at some time.

Q: Is that the reason you keep your own band as a trio?
SM: Yeah, a big part of it. It’s fun. I’ve been playing gigs with Eric Johnson off and on for decades, and that’s how much I enjoy listening to him play because he gets to solo with a trio, and I always thought it’d be so much fun to have that kind of configuration. And the other thing, some guys like to travel light, you know that like Dave the bass player gets to shine and solo so much more than if we had a keyboard player or something.

Q: When did you get in to guitar as far as making it a profession, or a hobby that grew into a profession?
SM: I guess about ’66 or so.

Q: Was there anything that really turned you on to it, like any guitarist or event?
SM: It was just the opportunity of having a guitar. My brother brought one home that he had borrowed or rented, and I just thought that it was so cool. And i played other musical instruments a little bit, but when I saw the guitar I said “that’s the thing!” The Beatles were probably part of it, the Chuck Berry sound; it’s just that rhythm that everybody loves, ya know!?

Q: You’ve developed your own sound over the years, like when I hear you on the tribute albums and the Deep Purple stuff I immediately know it’s you. What did your own sound develop out of? Can that be explained?
SM: I think you put together your own sound based on how free you feel to be yourself. I remember some kids were more concerned with learning a solo note for note when they were learning to play, and I was more concerned with learning the atmosphere of the solo and kinda doing my own little adaptation. And just having that kind of attitude started me on my way of being less of a session player and more of the individualist. I like to be good at both, but i remember some of my friends were better at that than me; they could maintain their interest in an exact transcription longer than I could.

Q: Could you pick out 2 or 3 guitarists that got you motivated in the early 70s to doing your own stuff?
SM: Some of them I couldn’t put on the album because I thought that they were just too hard to capture to write a song about – like The Kinks. The stuff that they did was great for a beginning guitar player, like “You Really Got Me”, or The Yardbirds – the stuff with Jeff Beck, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles. Chuck Berry I wish I’d done a piece on him, but I couldn’t come up with anything that wasn’t an exact Berry tune because they’re 3 chord songs, ya know! I couldn’t figure out how to handle that.

Q: Are you going to be touring with this album?
SM: We’re going to tour in a few weeks; we’re probably going to play a couple of songs from it, but some of it is lots of overdubs, so it’s going to be difficult.

Q: Was it a long process?
SM: Yeah, but it was a lot of fun; it was more like doing a huge book of crossword puzzle than it was doing a research project…. – a statistical research project in a foreign language! [ha ha…] It was fun.

Q: You mentioned wanting to do another one. What other guitarist players or bands would you want to include on it?
SM: A later influence, but a big influence was Pat Matheny because we went to school at the University of Miami, he was there briefly and i got to play with him then. His philosophy influenced me about as much as anything about his playing. Metheny, Joe Walsh – especially with early James Gang, Ted Nugent – back before he went solo with the Amboy Dukes, to Carlos Santana’s old stuff, and [let me see…] – Cactus, Rick Derringer, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter and maybe Tommy Bolin. It’s hard to put an exact label on his style though; because he was just kind of slippery and slick.

Q: How about some of the British bands; the progressive – hard rock bands like early Purple, Heep, Yes …
SM: Yes, I think Purple was a legitimate influence. I just felt like it was a little too close to home for this album. It’d be like “yeah right – big stretch!”, ya know!?

Q: What else do you have on the go right now with Deep Purple ?
SM: We’re half way through the writing process of the next Deep Purple album. We’ve got a big tour. We finished a record with Deep Purple and the London Symphony Orchestra doing a concerto that Jon wrote – which is, opposed to them backing us up, is a big classical orchestral piece with the band playing with the orchestra, as opposed to them just being a big string machine. We’re going to tour that later in the year.

Q: Are you going to be in North America with that?
SM: No, it’s South America and Europe so far.

Q: How has the Deep Purple experience been as far as playing with such a band, and opening up to a different and bigger audience, than perhaps you’re used, or in the different territories – that sort of thing ?
SM: It’s been great. When I joined the band they decided they were going to play all the places they’d never played before, that Ritchie didn’t want to go these places. It was like this whole new beginning because the first these people had ever seen the band was with me, and we still had 4 or 5 of the original guys from the Smoke On The Water days. It’s worked out incredibly well. We have been expanding huge markets everywhere – North America being one of the more forgotten ones, so that actually improved; we worked on it for 2 tours here and it got better. There’s lots of emerging countries and former communist countries that are just fantastic places to play.

Q: You guys bring back a lot of the old songs back in to the set I noticed, as far songs that rarely got played.
SM: Yeah that’s something that they are constantly fond of doing. It’s really whatever Ian Gillan wants to do that night, what we play, because he’s got to sing it, and he’s gotta have the stamina for it.

Q: How do you approach the classics, the older stuff in doing your own interpretations?
SM: I just try to listen to what Ritchie did, and to realize that they wanted somebody totally different in the band, not to copy him exactly; so I just do my own take it – what i think would sound good. And if it’s a well known solo or something, I’ll try to capture that, the essence of it anyway.

Q: As far as the new albums go, “Purpendicular” is one of my favorite albums of the ’90s. What can you tell me about how some of the original stuff with Purple has gone?
SM: The new stuff is interesting and is really good because we have all worked on it together in the same room, and we hadn’t done that since some of the early songs of Purpendicular. We got Ian jamming with us on the microphone in the same room when we’re coming up with ideas, so instead of him feeling like “here’s another song idea that just got thrown down in your lap” – he’s there to help you push it in the direction that is comfortable for him; so it’s a really good thing.

Q: Do you have any favorites as far as tracks go?
SM: The opening track of “Abandon” – I love that. The fact that on Purpendicular they let me throw in some weird stuff like “The Aviator”, and I always thought that Deep Purple could benefit from acoustic influence, like Jimmy Page did with Zeppelin.

Q: You said you guys are working on another album!?
SM: Yeah, we’ve got about 5 or 6 songs done.

Q: Is this one going to differ?
SM: I don’t know. It’s hard for me to judge; I don’t notice much difference from album to album. I couldn’t give you an objective opinion because I get so far into the music. I could sit there and play all the songs on the album but I don’t hear much stylistic difference between them; it’s just all music, all tonal music, no big deal. I’m not good at categorizing.

Q: Do you see yourself as having some sort of an influence as far as guitar players go?
SM: I’ve actually got enough to be proud of and die happy with. Just John Petrucci, to have him say I’m a big influence on him is wonderful for me, because he’s such a virtuoso, killer guitar player. And Jimmy Herring, from Atlanta. I remember him as a kid; he used to sit in front of us at the Dregs gigs, and he was always there. And he’s turned out to be one of the most incredible soloists there is. Those are enough to put in my resume!

Q: Is there any guitar player you can say is the best of the last decade?
SM: Those 2 guys … [ha ha]. The last decade has been a little tricky, because it’s been hard to hear much guitar; I mean I hear some stuff with some neat riffs and stuff like that, but most people are consciously avoiding presenting the guitar as a main feature, so it’s hard for … ’cause I can’t quite figure it out.

Q: Well I guess being in Deep Purple with Jon Lord, that’s quite a task ….
SM: Jon Lord really is an amazing musician, and mostly because he can hear and improvise anything on the spot. Every set we have a spot where just he and I will play, but I don’t know what chord he’s going to play next, and I don’t know what melody I’m going to play next, and we just kind of work together, and clothes our eyes and just listen, and try to read each other’s mind – it’s so cool to improvise like that.

Q: How has the response been as far as the Deep Purple fans go?
SM: Great from the beginning, really, because there had already been a year since Ritchie quit, and a lot of people knew that Joe Satriani had done part of the tour to finish, and they were ready for the fact that Ritchie was not there anymore. And Ritchie’s been very good about it too, as far as [you know] – he’s had every opportunity to slag me or the band and he’s just pretty much turned in to his own new project and kept his energy there, which is great.

Q: Does anybody keep contact with him?
SM: I think Roger has talked to him a little bit. They’re not real close or anything, but everybody’s really pleased that the war seems to be not happening.

Q: Can you sum up your few years with Kansas?
SM: I actually got involved with them officially when Phil Ehart [the drummer] and I were both at a Robert Plant concert as spectators, ya know the comp seats are always in the same area, right!? [ha ha]. So we were sitting together and talking and he’s saying ‘we’re thinking of getting the band back together’, and I said ‘great! I love you guys; you should do it!’ And then it came about that Kerry Livgren would probably not be doing it, so i said ‘hey if you need any help – I’d love to write tune with you guys or something’, and he said ‘yeah – we were actually thinking about that!’, so it was ‘Great – let’s do it!’. So we just ended up writing an album together, and then there was some gigs, and then there was another album. It was kinda neat.

Q: Any favorite tracks from that era?
SM: Yeah – “House On Fire”, “Musicado” [sp], “Bells Of St. James”; those are some of my favorites.

Q: You’ve done a few tribute albums. How do you feel about those, because those seem to be quite the ‘thing’ the last couple of years!?
SM: Well I got off pretty easy because of the main things I did, like on the Yes album I got to play Steve Howe’s acoustic stuff, which is a pretty neat gig because you don’t really have to match anybody else’s work, as far as playing with others, strangers, because you know how the mix is going to sound as soon as you send it off, because you’re just sending off one guitar.

Q: Do you have any plans to do any more of those? Is Magna Carta putting any more out?
SM: Good question, I don’t know. I was just a guest musician on those, I wasn’t an intricle part. I think we’re looking at doing a John Petrucci and Steve Morse album, but I’m not sure what label it’s going to be on.

Q: Instrumental album?
SM: Yeah, guitar duos – that type of thing.

Q: Can you give me any stories from Deep Purple?
SM: There’s always something crazy going on [let me think…] We finished our last tour in Korea, there was a typhoon coming in, and Dream Theater was playing before us there. They pretty much got to do their set, and when we began playing it was starting to rain. And the rain was coming in sideways, so we were in the rain – playing. And we kept playing…. And the drums, every time he hit, we’d see just sheets of water come off the heads of the drums, and Jon would slide his hand up and down the keys when he was playing his solos you could see a rooster-tail of water. My guitar stopped working, I had to switch to another guitar, because it’d just literally like totally shorted out. And the same thing happened with Roger’s. We had my pedal board covered in plastic, as if that was going to do any good. but it was real slippery, and I was slipping trying to move the pedals and everything, and Ian was just out there singing and getting soaked, and he was happy, because he loves stuff like that. We kept playing until our equipment wouldn’t work any more. We used up all the guitars; they all got shorted out. The only drag was because it was the last day of the tour, everything immediately got thrown into boxes, shipping cartons – as it’s raining, this typhoon, and it got shipped on a boat for like a month – totally wet, so everything got ruined. And then shifting channels to a gig recently… We’re playing somewhere in Switzerland, we get there, and ride up this incline – railroad, for like a mile and a half, and it’s snowing! And the only problem is it’s an outdoor gig! So we’re playing in the snow. [Ha ha..] It was just so bizarre. And the dressing room, which was the little station where the trains come and they work on them and put grease on the wheels and stuff – that was the dressing room. The snow was too deep to walk to the stage, and we just had like regular clothes on, we weren’t dressed for the outdoors. They had one of those one of those big snow caps that they use in ski resorts bring us from the “dressing room” to the “stage”, and the stage was just a wooden platform with plastic around it [ha ha ha]. And the snow’s blowing in our faces and you can’t feel your fingers … it was just so bizarre! So we do some weird gigs.

Q: Must’ve cost you a fortune in equipment!!?
SM: Ha ha , Yeah!

Q: Would you happen to have any recollections from tour with Uriah Heep?
SM: They were nice fellows, and I think we did about 8 or 9 shows together. They were all just real pleasant guys, and they just loved to play; they were just happy to be out touring, and that’s the main thing I remember. I was impressed with how jovelant and nice they were, that they really enjoyed what they were doing, and I love musicians like that.

Q: Do you do a lot of stuff outside of music, as far as hobbies go?
SM: My farm here as an air-strip on it, and I fly airplanes here. I fly everyday. I study Tae-Kwan-Doe with my little boy; and I enjoy it now, it’s my work out. And we’ve gotten into skate-boarding, although I’ve just recently broke my left wrist skateboarding, so I’m in bad shape.

Q: Anything else you want to add in as far as your new album goes?
SM: I’d just like to say that the album was fun for me to make. And I think that it’s easy to listen to for a lot of different people — you don’t have to be a musician to enjoy to get some fun out of listening to it. And it’s a fun thing to do with a group of people – to play the songs and see if they can guess “who’s that?” – who the writer [me] was thinking of. Because you know, you do that a lot with pop music; you say “I wonder why that song’s a hit – because it sounds just like another song that was a hit!” So now people can do it without being cynical, because it’s meant to be influences.

Q: Do you listen to much new stuff these days?
SM: I listen to radio. There’s always good songs. One of the best songs things I’ve heard though was 20 years old – a new version of an Abba song – an impeccable production of “Dancing Queen”. I heard a nice sonic song by Rage Against The Machine, and the Santana thing I thought was good.

Q: Do you get on the internet much?
SM: Yeah, just for Purple oriented things; i don’t have much time to surf anymore.

KJJ, July 2000.

An Interview with Producer Jay Ruston

Canadian producer Jay Ruston has worked on a number of rock, pop, and metal albums over the past 15 years.
Most recently he has produced the new Uriah Heep studio album, set for release in mid September.

For more on Jay’s work check out –

uh w Jay R

You are Canadian – what bands / artists did you grow up on?

Rush, Triumph, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, Black Sabbath

What are some of your favorite LPs from your younger years?

Rush-2112, Iron Maiden-Live After Death, Led Zeppelin-Physical Graffitti, Billy Squier-Don’t Say No

How did you wind up in Calilfornia and as a mixer , producer on so many great projects? [How did you get into that end of the music business?]

I was living in Ottawa working for Canadian producer Leslie Howe (Alanis Morrisette). Leslie built a studio in Los Angeles and hired me to come down in 2003 to run it. After about 2-3 years I decide to build my own studio in LA. One of the first records I worked on was by Wilson Philips, produced by Peter Asher. They also introduced me to Desmond Child. I made a bunch of records with both producers until about 2007, then I produced the first Steel Panther album.

You produced all the Steel Panther albums!? These guys come up with good stuff musically and hilarious [x rated] — HOW do you keep a straight face in the studio with this band?

We definitely have a good time making those records, but they are very serious about their craft. They’re all amazing musicians and work very quickly in the studio.

Any Steel Panther stories and/or favorite tracks?

I think my favorite song to work on was “Eyes Of A Panther”. During the first album we had a lot of great guest appearances, including Corey Taylor and Scott Ian.

You produced the Ronnie James Dio tribute albums years back. How did you get involved in that project can you recall a bit of how that all came together ? [with the various ‘name’ players guesting]

A few years before I met Wendy Dio and became friends with her. When she told me about the tribute album, she already had Metallica and Halestorm lined up, and a few others. I told her i’d get Anthrax as well as Corey Taylor. Amazingly, my two favorite Dio performed songs were available, Neon Knights and Rainbow In The Dark, so I produced both of those. I also mixed the Oni Logan track, and a couple others as well.

You’ve also worked on the Black Star Riders albums. [Today being Phil Lynott’s birthday] – Any favorite Thin Lizzy albums or songs?

BSR are one of my favorite clients. I think my favorite Thin Lizzy song is Cowboy Song

You are credited as Mixer on BSRs albums. How much input do you have as a mixer? And any fave tracks of theirs?

I don’t have a lot of input if there’s a great producer at the helm, which they had for the last two albums. Soldiers Town and Testify!

What have been a few of your biggest and/or most successful projects you’ve worked on?

Probably both Stone Sour albums, Meatloaf, The “Big 4” live DVD and the first Steel Panther album. Anthrax’s Worship Music has sold really well also.


How did you come about to produce the new Uriah Heep album?

Their manager is a good friend of mine. The band was interested in working with me, so it worked out perfectly.

How familiar were you with Heep – their past and the band today?

Pretty familiar. Growing up near Detroit, I heard a lot of Heep on the radio! I had heard their last couple records and was hoping we could circle back to their classic sound with a modern edge.

What was the approach or direction that you and the band were going for? (LTD is a much more “Heep” album – with ballads, epics, different guitar and keyboard sounds [to past few UH albums])

My goal is often the same, make a classic record that can’t be dated by production. The demos they sent were pretty much ready to go.

[In promo videos] the band states that you worked on 1 song per day for the album. Is that the way you normally work? and if so – why [?] – as opposed to put down each instrument day after day, then vocals, overdubs, etc..?

This is the most efficient way to make a record. If you do drums for a week, then bass for a week, then you get to guitars and decide an arrangement change should be made, it’s impossible! This way, everyone is focussed on the same song for the whole day, or sometimes 2 days, and by the end, you have an entire song almost finished, except for maybe guitar solos etc. I always finish records ahead of schedule when I record this way. Not every band can do it, especially if they live in different cities or countries, which is often the case.

The band seems to stretch out more on LTD with lengthier solos [guitar, Hammond organ] – How much was kinda done right there on the spot or were things a bit more pre-rehearsed to what we hear on the album?

I think it was all pretty well rehearsed. They did a lengthy pre production week and sent me the recordings. The band really edited themselves and made the songs work great before I was even involved. Makes my job much easier when they have the experience like that.

What tracks and moments on LTD stand out for you? any comments on some of the songs?

Water’s Flowin’ and Rocks In The Road are my two favorites. Both songs have totally different feel and vibe, but were equally fun to work on. Rocks is a really long epic piece of music with great riffs. We recorded it live in 2 sections, then added overdubs after wards. Water’s Flowin’ is just a magical song with an amazing vibe and spirit. We were trying to get a great acoustic guitar sound, and Mick mentioned he had an electric 12 string, I immediately thought that would be a great intro sound, and it worked amazing. I also love the vocal production we did, Bernie really knocked it out of the park.

After hearing the Heep album – Take Away My Soul really stands out. Any recall on this one?

Take Away My Soul is great. Andy Sneap (Judas Priest producer) came and hung out with us this day, and Mick was blazing through takes of the outro guitar solo that’s like 3 minutes long. It was a super fun day, and that’s a great song.

Were you happy with the final product? [as a Heep fan I think it is amazing]. any hiccups?

No hiccups whatsoever! I’m really happy with the record. I think the songs are amazing and the band performed top notch in the studio. There is no weak link in Heep!! Each of them are total pro’s with great attention to detail and the desire to make great art.

What other projects do you have on the go ?

I recently mixed the new Coheed and Cambria record. I’ve also been traveling a little bit this summer, doing some work in Sweden. That project will remain un-named for now. I’m also gearing up to start another Steel Panther record later this year.

What music do you listen to on your own time?

I still listen to a lot of Led Zeppelin, David Gray, Eagles, 80’s new wave and some metal. I love Ghost, Opeth, and a pop band called St.Lucia.

More reading on Jay:

KIK, 08/2018

URIAH HEEP – Living The Dream!

Uriah Heep are releasing their highly anticipated brand new studio album – the 25th in their storied career [after 4+ years] – which will be titled, appropriately enough, “Living The Dream”.

UH 2017

“We have been together for 47 years and we have seen many bands come and go, so in effect we are ‘Still Living The Dream,’ so it was the perfect title for the new album.” says Uriah Heep guitarist and founding member Mick Box.
Famed Canadian engineer, Jay Ruston has been called in to produce the album. Mick continues: “We chose Jay because we admire his work with The Winery Dogs, Stone Sour, Black Star Riders, Paul Gilbert, and Europe. Jay has either produced, mixed or both for these bands, and he brought a fresh approach to Heep. He has been marvellous to work with.”
The band is beyond excited with the material written for the new album, which will include some epic additions to the band’s huge catalog of rock staples and looks forward to sharing it with their fans around the world.
The album will be released in CD, deluxe edition including one bonus audio track and a DVD, LP and Limited Box Set Edition (including deluxe edition + T-shirt).
Uriah Heep debuted in 1970 with the release of one of hard rock’s milestones, Very ‘eavy… Very ‘umble, and have since sold in excess of 30 million albums worldwide. They constantly tour the world, playing up to 125 shows a year to 500,000+ fans. The band’s live set features the classic tracks from the ’70s and is a musical journey from the band’s beginnings to the present day.
The band has announced a full World Tour which will last until the whole first quarter of 2019. “The mighty Heep are proudly able to tour in over 61 countries and we look forward to a packed touring schedule in 2018 and 2019. Touring is in our blood and what we have a passion to do, and so 2018 is no exception,” concludes Box.



LIVING THE DREAM available in:
CD (Jewel Box)
CD+DVD (Digipack)
BOX SET (Limited Ed. CD+DVD Digipack + T-Shirt)
VINYL (180g Gatefold)
Blue VINYL (180g Gatefold) – Exclusive USA
Crystal VINYL (180g Gatefold) – Exclusive Frontiers Shop
TRACKLISTING: Grazed By Heaven / Living The Dream / Take Away My Soul / Knocking At My Door/ Rocks In The Road / Waters Flowin’ / It’s All Been Said / Goodbye To Innocence / Falling Under Your Spell / Dreams Of Yesteryear / *Take Away My Soul (Alternate Version) Bonus Track (Deluxe Edition Only)
DVD (deluxe edition only): Grazed By Heaven (Music Video) / Take Away My Soul (Music Video) / Making The Dream (Documentary)

• Official Website:
• Facebook:

Mick Box: Guitar, Vocals
Phil Lanzon: Keyboards, Vocals
Bernie Shaw: Lead Vocals
Russell Gilbrook: Drums, Vocals
Dave Rimmer: Bass, Vocals

Well, where do i start!? Upon first run through of this album – I couldnt believe it! While older bands are winding down, slowing the pace, packing in – Uriah Heep seems to have more energy and ideas than ever. Living The Dream might simply be the best thing the band has done since the mid 70s. Now, i liked Outsider [2014], and Into The Wild [2011], while Sea of Light [95] and Sonic Origami [98] were a great pair of 90s HR albums – but LTD seems to pack even more of the classic and neo-classic Heep elements into one amazing record. The lead off single “Graced By Heaven” was a fine sample of what’s within, co-written by Davey Rimmer, who’s bass playing graces this – his 2nd album with the band. But the album really just gets better, starting with the title track – a cool mid tempo progressive song, interesting vocal intro …… “Take Away My Soul” [the 2nd video upcoming] is perhaps the most impressive Heep song since “Between Two Worlds” — it’s a rocker that really let’s loose with a hammond solo from Phil Lanzon, and classic Mick Box guitar riff and solos, great chorus. “Knocking At My Door” is another cool rocker – this one kinda gallops along as Bernie sings about fear and hiding from something – a great vocal; mid and ending guitar solos! What’s so more impressive about this album to previous Heep albums is that it is MORE of everything — a bit more in the variety [ballads, acoustic guitar, piano….] – more lengthier tracks. Fans who longed for another Heep epic, more progressive songs, or a ballad and more memorable rockers will Not be disappointed thanks to more progressive tracks like “Rocks In The Road” [clocking in at over 8 minutes] – starts as an upbeat rocker before dropping in to a very quiet mid section and vocal, before the song builds back up with the Phil Lanzon’s hammond organ [reminiscent of Jon Lord here] working in to a classic extended Heep solo and that builds to the finale. The ballad “Waters Flowin'” – a very different sound for Heep – a bit southern feel, it features acoustic guitar, organ, piano, and a bit of a sing-along ‘na na na’ chorus, which gives it a bit of a 60s vibe. The hammond organ turns up, followed by a rockin instrumental before it drops off and a piano ballad comes in – “It’s All Been Said” then picks back up, a more progressive song about news headlines; includes a cool hammond solo, and a few changes in pace — this one has a lot to it, the paces and build up to the finale reminds me a bit of Iron Maiden. Next up is a sweet guitar intro, followed by Rusell Gilbrook’s drums coming in reimscent of “Radar Love” on this upbeat goodtime rocker – “Goodbye To Innocence”; one of the shortest tracks here, but it’s a memorable one. “Falling Under Your Spell” is another rocker; fast paced – perhaps this album’s “Easy Livin” [tho i liken it to more in the class of “Sweet Pretender” from Sonic Origami], an interesting solo and chorus of ‘ahs’ that are reminiscent of “Bird of Prey”. Living The Dream closes with “Dreams oif Yesteryear”, and it is a classic Heep mini-epic — love the guitar melody and Bernie Shaw’s vocal; a song of reflection and hope, this one could go on, much in the same class as “KIss Of Freedom” [from Into The Wild].
I cannot wait to get a CD of this for the car – where i can crank it up. There is a lot to this album, and Canadian producer Jay Ruston has done an amazing job of giving this a heavy feel, and getting so much new, so much classic, and so much more out of Heep, going on 49 years as a band. Heep diehards will be more than satisfied [blown away!] with the first 5 tracks, but Living The Dream has 10 standout tracks — fans won’t be disappointed.
Coming out in CD, and 3 different shades of vinyl [black, blue, crystal — yes, i’ve pre-ordered all 3!]

KJJ, 08/18

Classic Releases from Uriah Heep Related Bands & Solo. [Part One]

Former Uriah Heep singer John Lawton has died aged 74

I figured I could simply do a Top 10 ‘Most Necessary’ or ‘Must Hear’, or Favorites, but really – that would be impossible. I jotted down 30+ albums and went from there. I quickly eliminated the Bronze solo albums of Ken Hensley and David Byron – these feature Heep members, engineers, etc.. and are pretty much already part of the Heep discography. I also excluded posthumous releases and live ‘reunion’ albums. There are some obvious mentions here, but also [hopefully] a few rarities and things you may not be familiar with. There are a few Heep alumni who’ve had such lengthy, successful careers [John Wetton, John Lawton, Bob Daisley, Ken Hensley..] that I had to pick a few from such big big discographies. [Of course, this all leaves room for a Part 2 here].
Drop a note – would like to hear suggestions not included here…..

Gods – Genesis [1968]
The Gods were a London based band that Ken Hensley wrote, sang, and played organ in. The band at times also included Lee Kerslake, Greg Lake, John and Brian Glascock, and in a very early version – Mick Taylor [Stones]! The band’s 2 albums featured Hensley, as well as guitarist/singer & writer Joe Konas, Lee Kerslake, and John Glasscock. The Gods albums were recorded at Abbey Road Studios and produced by David Paramor. The debut album Genesis featured psychedelic rock and pop, with gems here like Towards The Skies, Misleading Colors, Looking Glass, and Candles Getting Shorter. The Gods also issued a number of singles which weren’t included on the LPs, and a few of their best such as Somewhere In The Street and Real Love Guaranteed, as well as a cover of the Beatles Hey Bulldog [the latter are included on CD re-issue of this album]

Lucifer’s Friend – Lucifer’s Friend [1970]
The debut from German rockers, who were fronted by and introduced rock fans to Englishman John Lawton – who would later front Heep. this album was every bit as heavy as Heep’s debut and Purple at the time, but beyond this the band strayed into jazz, fusion, pop, etc… this being a classic early proto metal album. Ride The Sky would become the band’s most popular song, and tracks like Toxic Shadows and In The Time of Job When Mammon Was A Yippie were all great early heavy rock.

Weed – Weed [1971]
This rarity is all Ken Hen Hensley — songs, keyboards, vocals, and presumably most of the guitars. not brought to light til the early 90s through the Uriah Heep Appreciation Society. Ken doesn’t talk much about it, as it was a ‘mercenary’ project for money [between Heep albums]; but it’s heavy and tracks like Sweet Morning Light and My Dream are classic Hensley tunes.

National Head Band – Albert One [1971]
This LP is the lone release from NHB, which included Lee Kerslake on drums, as well as Jan Schelhaas [keyboards – pre Caravan], Neil Ford, and Dave Paull [bass – pre Jonesy].
A neat album of rock, folk, country, prog, with lots of harmonies … Lee co-writes the pop-folky tune Too Much Country Water, but it is the album’s final track Mister Jesus – which highlights the band’s playing, particularly the first few minutes of heavy prog.

Fable – Fable [1973]
the lone LP by this pop band fronted by Peter Goalby – who wrote, sang, played some guitar and mandolin. A very likeable album with a wide variety of tunes. The single Madolin is probably the best cut here, with the intro sounding like Queen’s “Tie Your Mother Down” [a song that came later – but Queen recorded at the same studio on off hours, while Fable was there. hmm] . there’s also the CSN inspired Four Horsemen, the rocker Hard Life, and pop gems like She Knows How To Love Me, and Google Eye.

King Crimson – Red [1974]
Before Heep John Wetton had made a name for himself, largely in King Crimson, playing and singing on a string of successful progressive albums, and this one – my favorite, and i believe it was John’s favorite. Red is a classic track, and Starless would become a big part of John’s live set for years – either in Asia or solo.

Spiders From Mars – Spiders From Mars [1976]
Prior to joining Heep, Trevor Bolder was the bass player in David Bowie’s Spiders From Mars. He played on Bowie’s best albums, but when that ended – Bolder, along with Woody Woodmansey, took the Spiders’ name and recorded this lone album. They band also included Pete McDonald [vocals] and Dave Black [guitar], and Mike Garson guesting on keyboards. Trevor Bolder would write [or co-write] more than half of the album. A bit rockier than the Bowie stuff, and a bit funky in places, a decent listen, even just for curiosity’s sake. Neat album art, but the record didn’t do much, and the band didn’t last long. RIP – Trevor Bolder and Dave Black

Rough Diamond – Rough Diamond [1977]
the first band that David Byron fronted after being fired from Heep. it featured Dave Clempson [ex Colosseum], who didn’t get the Purple gig. this was over hyped and under appreciated. Byron was fired from the band too [they carried on as Champion]; a shame – I really like this one. Tracks like Lookin For You, Scared, Hobo, Lock & Key — very cool listening – great playing. Willie Bath [bass], Damon Butcher [keys], Geoff Britton [ex Wings, Drums].

Lone Star – Firing On All Six [1977]
Prior to Heep John Sloman was playing in a Canadian based band ‘Pulsar’ – that band also featured drummer Dixie Lee, both Lee and Sloman had previously played in Welsh band Lone Star, which also included Paul Chapman [pre UFO] on guitar!. This is Lone Star’s second [and final] studio album. A classic piece of prog and hard rock with The Ballad Of Crafty Jack, The Bells Of Berlin, All Of Us To All Of You. Cool silver cover.

Trapeze – Hold On [1979]
Prior to joining Heep Peter Goalby was in Trapeze for a few years [the band once fronted by Glenn Hughes]. He wrote a couple of tunes on this album, as well as shared vocals with Mel Galley, and played rhythm guitar. He would go on to record the follow up – Live In Texas. *This album had released some months previously in ’78 in Germany titled Running, which featured a series of photos of a nude model on the front

Grand Prix – Grand Prix [1980]
This British band released 3 albums in the early ’80s. It is the first album to feature Bernie Shaw, and it also featured Phil Lanzon – who wrote or co-wrote much of their material. Often listed as a ‘metal’ album, Grand Prix is more pomp, a bit of prog, ’80s radio rock. A shame this album never hit it big – a cool piece of ’80s rock, solid guitar, lots of keyboards and backing vocals, with songs like Which Way Did The Wind Blow, Westwind, Feel Like I Do. Following this debut album Bernie Shaw was replaced by Robin McAuley.  All 3 albums are well worth checking out.

Ozzy Osbourne – Diary Of A Madman [1981]
Following Lee Kerslake’s departure from the band in 1979, he would join the Blizzard of Ozz band, fronted by Ozzy Osbourne, and including young guitarist Randy Rhoads, and bass player Bob Daisley. Lee played with a renewed energy and heaviness from the previous few Heep LPs. He had a co-write on the first album, but would be credited as a co-writer on the entire Diary Of A Madman album. Sadly, he and Bob were removed from the band prior to the 2nd album’s release, and their playing credits and photos were not included. Many of Lee’s drum intros and performances are legendary on these albums – Over The Mountain, Little Dolls, SATO…

The Byron Band – On The Rocks [1981]
The last album released by Heep’s original frontman. The Byron Band was trying to catch up to the times, hard rock, with an interesting band including Robin George [guitar & co-writer], Bob Jackson [keys, ex Badfinger], and Mel Collins [ex King Crimson].  A decent album with tracks like Start Believing and How Do You Sleep, but failed to catch on at the time. Pretty neat cover as well and included poster at the time. CD re-issue included the singles that preceded the album. A 2nd album was demo’d, and was eventually issued years back through Robin George.

Lucifer’s Friend – Mean Machine [1981]
When Lawton left Heep he recorded a solo album, backed by members of LF. The follow up was a Lucifer’s Friend reunion album. It was a straight ahead hard-rock album, perhaps influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal at the time[?]. Great riffs, songs, and performances. Love this album!

Wishbone Ash – Twin Barrels Burning [1982]
When things went worse for Heep in 1981, Trevor Bolder left [needing work] and joined Wishbone Ash. He played on this one album [wrote as well, uncredited]. More of an attempt to mainstream the band at the time, a more hard-rock direction. Produced by Ashley Howe, who’d worked on most Heep albums [engineer, tape op] and who’d go on to produced Heep’s Abominog and Head First. A solid album, notable also is the track “Hold On” featuring Bolder on vocals — my favorite here [this would’ve sounded so good on an ’80s Heep album!]. *There are 2 versions of this album, as the US label insisted on a different mix and a different cover.

Blackfoot – Siogo [1983]
After a solo album that didn’t do much, Ken relocated to the US and in time joined Southern rockers Blackfoot. Siogo retained much of the band’s southern style, but with keyboards and a slightly more polished commercial approach. Ken wrote a few gems here, most notably the single Send Me An Angel [w/ Jack Williams].

Zar –Live Your LIfe Forever [1990]
Lawton had done so much over his career, but this album is classic metal that saw him belting out heavy ’80s metal better than anyone else. Heart Of The Night, Fire And Ice, Live Your LIfe Forever…. killer album; didn’t get released everywhere. Zar went on to make more albums – without JL [John guested on 1 track on the band’s 3rd album]. Re-released on CD years ago [accompanied with it’s predecessor – Rebel]. Highly recommended.

Ken Hensley – Blood On The Highway [2007]
Since his return to recording and performing, Ken has recorded some good albums, but Blood On The Highway stands out as it’s based on the story of being that ’70s rock star – the ups and downs, etc.. The songs all fit in the story [a few had been previously done, but re-worked here]. It also included a few guest singers – Glenn Hughes, Eve Gallagher, and John Lawton.

Berggren/Kerslake Band – The Sun Has Gone Hazy [2014]
Lee Kerslake left Heep at the end of 2006 due to health issues. this album is a bright light in his post Heep life. Along with singer/guitarist Stefan Berggren, Lee co-wrote and played on this fine album. His playing is superb and he contributed more great songwriting than he had for his past 2 decades in Heep.  A highly recommended Heep related gem.

Newton-Rainbow Project – License To Rock [2016]
Original Heep bass player Paul Newton never got the credit he deserved in those early days. He played on the band’s first 3 albums, and more importantly at the time – invited Ken Hensley to join [the band was Spice then]. He left, and very little was seen or heard again, until he appeared in the Uriah Heep Appreciation Society magazine. He then joined Hensley and Lawton on stage at Heepvention 2000, and has been a part of the Heep Legends gigs over the past several years. This album came out last year, a collaboration with singer/guitarist/writer Chris Rainbow. A good section of styles, and songs, and most notably includes 2 Heep classics re-done.

Phil Lanzon – If You Think I’m Crazy [2017]
After so many years, Phil Lanzon steps out with his own project. Phil has been largely responsible for writing or co-writing Heep’s material since he joined in 1986, so it’s a wonder that it took this long. Frankly – this album is fantastic! Lots of variety – ’70s pop, acoustic numbers, some great storied lyrics, and a few fine singers on this album. Highly recommended.


Alice Cooper – The ’80’s Return

By the time I had discovered Alice Cooper, in the early ’80s [due to my age] Alice was out of fashion. He was not touring, and his most recent ’80s albums [Flush The Fashion, Zipper Catches Skin, Special Forces…] could all be purchased for 99 cents at Avondale variety store! At that time I’d  just bought the albums [old and newer], assuming I’d missed the whole ride of Alice’s career. But then magazines started mentioning an Alice Cooper comeback. There was a forgettable horror flick called “Monster Dog”,  which starred Cooper, as well as including a couple of new tracks. Then there was a guest vocal on Twisted Sister’s “Be Chrool To Your School” [and in video]. Then there was the theme song [and another song] appearing in the latest Friday The 13th.  And finally, after a 3 year recording absence – a new album, along with a new direction, and new energy.

There was plenty of publicity for the Constrictor album, as well as the tour [The NIghtmare Returns]. Q107 in Toronto aired “Teenage Frankenstein”, pronouncing Alice was certainly back. For the time, Constrictor was a good album – tracks like “Give It Up”, “Life And Death Of The Party”, “Crawlin'”… stood out; though the live show would only feature 3 songs from this album. Beau Hill produced this album [Michael Wagener produced 2 tracks, as well as mixed the album], aiming for a very timely 80s sound. Hill’s credits included Stevie Nicks [co-writes], and 80s ‘metal’ albums by Ratt, Kix,  and Warrant. As much as I liked the songs from this album, the the overall sound let it down a bit, lacking in weight, making this album fairly dated sounding.

The new band featured guitarist Kane Roberts, bass player Kip Winger [before Winger!], keyboard player Paul Taylor [aka Horowitz], guitarist Steve Steele, and Ken Mary on drums [not all were on the album]. On stage in was a return to the gothic Alice, with slasher films being a big influence at the time. Kane Roberts was built like a bigger version of Rambo [complete with a machine gun guitar that shot sparks] and offered a new metal sound to the AC classics; he would also co-write the songs for Constrictor and the next album.  “Welcome To My Nightmare” would begin the show, and it was a fast paced – no letting up,  gory show, with some theatrics or blood for every song. It was essentially a greatest hits, plus classics like “Dwight Fry”, and a few other album classics + 3 new songs – all ‘metaled’ up for the period, finishing up with the guillotine!  My first Alice show, and I couldn’t wait til the next one!

The follow up album Raise Your Fist And Yell  followed soon in 1987. Co-written with Kane Roberts, and featuring Roberts, Mary and Winger, Horowitz, and produced by Michael Wagener, who’d previously worked with Accept, Dokken, and Bonfire. This album was a heavier production than Constrictor, and featured plenty of great anthems in “Freedom” [the first single and video], Give The Radio Back, and Step On You. Side 2 featured favorite “Prince Of Darkness” – which was featured in the John Carpenter movie ,of the same name that year. Alice would also appear in the movie. Side 2 also featured a trio of songs revolving around a serial killer – “Chop Chop Chop”, “Gail”, and “Roses On White Lace” would also feature in the live show, with gory results.

I preferred this album largely due to the sound [they were fairly equal in performance and song quality, IMO]. The live show would also include Devils Food & Black Widow, and close out with Killer and Alice being hung.
During this time Kane Roberts released his own album, self-titled, featuring Steele on bass, and drummer Vitor Ruzzo [RIP]. Anyone who liked Constrictor or Raise Your Fist And Yell could easily get in to Robert’s solo album. It was hard hitting, big sounding 80s rock anthems, with songs like “Rock Doll” [single/video], “Triple X”,  “Full Pull” … a shame it wasn’t bigger at the time, with Roberts being Alice’s right-hand man at the time – both on stage and in interviews on TV and radio.

Following this period Alice decided to take a new direction with Trash.  It would be the last Alice Cooper album that Roberts or Winger would appear on [both on 1 track each]. Winger and Horowitz would go off as ‘Winger’ and Roberts would release a second solo album a few years later. I would’ve loved to have seen another album from this line-up, before Alice started bringing in the likes of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith to guest and co-write on Trash, and then the vast list of guests on Hey Stoopid [tho this is one of my favorite AC solo albums].
to be continued…


John Lawton – Interviews from the archives

This year will bring a new Lucifer’s Friend album, the follow-up to 2016’s “Too Late To Hate”.

John Lawton stated a few days ago [posted to the band’s official facebook page] :
“We have a new album in the process of being mixed which we were going to call “THE LAST STAND” hoping to have it ready by the beginning of June….
It has taken a little longer due to the workload of our New York
producer Simon Hesslein.
However we have decided to rename the album “BLACK MOON”
Many fans were under the impression that the original title meant it would be the last LF album, but we are pleased to say that we are currently in the process of writing new material which we will
record over the coming months….;-)
LF rides again……

In the past I have been fortunate enough to interview John a number of times. they’re still on my Universal Wheels site, but i’ll catalogue them here…..and throw in a few clips…

from 2002, discussing the CD re-issue of the Rebel & Zar albums.

from 2003, discussing John’s solo album “Sting In The Tale”.

from 2007, discussing John’s OTR project, as well as other projects at the time.

from 2008, John & Jan Dumee discussing their album “Mamonama”.

from 2013, John discusses his recording with Diana Express.

*an interesting read on the band’s debut LP –

*in the last few years Repertoire Records has reissued the classic “Banquet” album on CD and 180g vinyl! –

*a review of Too Late To Hate [not mine] –





Uriah Heep – Sonic Origami

Uriah Heep – Sonic Origami

uh so 2
When Heep’s new album “Living The Dream” is released this fall it will also mark 20 years since the band’s “Sonic Origami” album. That album was the follow up to 1995’s fantastic comeback album “Sea Of LIght”. While many felt Sea of Light was a classic Heep sounding album, and far better and more rocking than the previous few studio albums, Sonic Origami saw the band lightening things up a bit with more acoustic tracks and ballads. While I loved SOL, it’s follow up would be my favorite, and it remains my favorite album throughout the Bernie Shaw fronted years, largely for the variety and the number of great songs.

uh so 3
The opener “Between Two Worlds” remains the classiest and heaviest Heep track since the early ’70s. Glad to see it brought back in to the live set on the band’s current tour of North America. This album offered a really mixed bag from rockers like Sweet Pretender, Feels Like, and Everything In Life [a latter day Easy Livin], poppier gems like Only The Young and Perfect Little Heart, progressive tracks in Change and In The Moment, and a number of ballads, most notably the guitar driven Shelter From The Rain, acoustic tracks Heartless Land & Question, and a cover of Survivor’s Across The Miles [also issued as the first CD single]. The hope being that Across The Miles would fetch plenty of radio play for the band in North America, but Journey-type ballads were apparently out of fashion at the time, and it didn’t work as planned, and a massive tour of the US upon the album’s release was pulled at the last moment. The band did however get plenty of mileage out of this album – well more than half of it would feature in the band’s live set for the next year plus, with 8 ending up on the excellent live album “Future Echoes Of The Past”.
Sonic Origami was produced by the legendary Pip Williams [The Moody Blues, Sweet, Graham Bonnet, Gillan, Status Quo…], who was also knowledgeable of Heep’s history and talents. Glad to see it is being reissued on vinyl for this year’s Record Store Day.
Sonic Origami has a few notable distinctions :
It was the last studio album to feature Lee Kerslake
It was the last studio album to feature ballads
it was the first studio album Not to be issued on vinyl! *A limited edition would be issued a few years later, these now fetch more than $200+ .

uh so 4
Below is a few links from the time, including my review then and an interview i did with Mick and Bernie [via phone, separately] at the time.
i remember the day i was to interview Mick and Bernie [via phone] then. On that date, i was home with my sons – one was 3, one was a few months old! i missed the first call because someone was ‘fussin’. the guys were kind enough to call back. I had a nice chat with Mick, then i had to pick up my youngest before Bernie came on. My oldest was content watching TV in the next room. My youngest was less cooperative and much of my time speaking with Bernie included some cries and screaming. At one point Bernie commented – ‘oh, someone needs their mommy’. well, she was at work, so i had to deal with it. i still have it on tape somewhere! Regardless, they were interviews i appreciated. At the time the guys were very enthusiastic, and it’s a shame that things fell though. A great album and potentially an amazing opportunity missed. Happy to report that That baby who screamed throughout my chat with Bernie , as well as the one that came after him – were both with me, and had a great time – when we saw Heep in London, Ontario, 2 months ago!

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