ALICE COOPER –Muscle Of Love [revisited]

ac - mol band

The new SACD release of the last album from the one and only Alice Cooper group, in November of 1973, gives me a chance to revisit my favorite album from the greatest American rock n roll band! Part of what I see as the band’s ‘greatness’ was there originality, ground-breaking, rebellion, knack for memorable and timely anthems, grit, and a string of classic albums that remain unmatched by any other band.

Muscle of Love was a change in many areas from the 4 previous Platinum selling albums. First and foremost, it was where management and the press really separated Alice from the band of the same name [it was a band, with 5 equal members before there was a solo act]. Even the Circus magazine cover story from January of ’73 is all about Alice, himself, and very little mention of the band. Secondly, although this album came with a ‘theme’ [sex], it was definitely a bit tamer musically, lacking that lengthy macabre highlight [ala – Dwight Fry, Killer, Blue Turk, I Love The Dead…] – that theatrical centerpiece or ending to all, that shocking track that could upset certain anti-rock crusaders or that a stage show could be built around. Thirdly [is that a word?] – It lacked Glen Buxton! Though the guitarist with whatever personal demons he had, appears in some of the writing credits, he was ‘not invited’ to play on the album, and his grit and attitude are clearly absent, as producers Jack Richardson and Jack Douglas go for a cleaner sound. Mick Mashbir and Dick Wagner [RIP] did great work filling in the guitar work on this album, but really – once you take away such a figure as GB – the outcome changes.

Even before its release Muscle of Love caused controversy and issues in various countries and with retailers – due to the title and to the packaging. In South Africa the album was intercepted and had inserts of the ‘nude wrestling’ emporium removed before they’d be sent to record shops. In North America, management had to clear the title with a number of retailers first, and even then its cardboard box and ‘water stain’ packaging presented issues in places. This Audio Fidelity release does a good job of retaining the original art via CD, with a miniature of the nude wrestling insert included and sleeve pics with the booklet [where’s the lyrics?].

Muscle of Love featured a number of great tracks that would’ve made for fine singles, but IMO lacked that monster hit, ala “Schools Out” or “I’m Eighteen”. There’s a great flow to this, although as noted above – it lacks that twisted lengthy high point. “Big Apple Dreamin” opens this album, not with a bang, but it’s a great song, about moving to New York and the adventures that await. Love the use of the organ in this track [courtesy of Bob Dolin. Where the heck is that guy?], especially the break, almost giving this a Deep Purple feel. This album is largely straight ahead rockers, with “Never Been Sold Before” and “Muscle of Love” being the 2 stand-outs, both with cool riffs and the former being heavier and more aggressive than anything on this album – IMO the band’s most overlooked rocker. Elsewhere, I enjoy all the rockers here, from “Working Up A Sweat”, to the more laid back James Bond inspired “The Man With The Golden Gun” [purposely written with the then-forthcoming movie of the same name, but never accepted for use], the single “Teenage Lament ‘74”, which revisits “I’m Eighteen” – musically and lyrically, but slightly softer [especially with all the backing vocals from Liza Minnelli, Ronnie Spector, and the Pointer Sisters..Yeesh!]. Last track is another one of my favorite AC underrated songs in “Woman Machine”; a more mid-tempo guitar heavy track, lyrically based on a futuristic computerized female partner. [I kind of like the idea!] . Lots going on here between the guitars, and the added ‘computer’ sounds and effects. The 2 non-rock tunes here being the classic ballad “Hard Hearted Alice”, a sort of more serious lyric reflecting on being Alice Cooper, and the almost 1920 cabaret sounding “Crazy Little Child”. The latter, tho I like the song, IMO sort of lets the whole album down a bit, not so much lyrically, but musically with its piano and banjo [courtesy of Paul Prestopino], this would’ve been better off as a B-side [much in the same way “Mary-Ann” could’ve been left from the previous album!]

A few things that really stand out after listening to this is just how much this Was A band – Dennis Dunaway’s bass drives most of these songs, and Neal Smith adds so much more than a simple pace these songs; and Michael Bruce – well he took on a sort of musical-director role in the writing and via rhythm guitar. It is no wonder Alice as a solo artist, despite releasing some fantastic albums, never really matched the AC band output. On Muscle of Love, there’s a more serious musical approach, with even Alice singing better than before, but with less snarling and attitude [see Teenage Lament].

Despite what this album lacks, it is still my favorite AC album. Understandably it did not do nearly as well as the “Billion Dollar Babies” album, which featured a number of hit singles, and was the only AC album to hit #1, so it also had the impossible task of coming soon after [released in the same year] such a huge album and tour. Often overlooked as the band’s “Greatest Hits” package came soon after, and then members went on to solo projects, with Alice taking the name, and the original band [in whole] never to return again. Am still waiting for the Billion Dollar Babies “Battle Axe” album to be given a proper CD [or SACD] re-mastering and release, the last gasp of the real Alice Cooper band.

For more info check out

And to check out AC [and related] interviews I’ve done in the past >

Neal Smith: and:

Dennis Dunaway (w/ Ron Mann):

Mick Mashbir (studio & touring guitarist):

Mike Marconi (Billion $ Babies):

Dave Thompson (author):

*Drop me a note, let me know what you think of this album!

KJJ, jan ’16



Uriah Heep – Totally Driven in the 2000s

Way back in 1983, Uriah Heep released “Head First” – their 2nd album with Peter Goalby as frontman, Bob Daisley on bass, and John Sinclair on keyboards. Nearing the end of it’s recording, the band’s label – Mercury in North America, would be going through a restructure and would do a poor job promoting it and getting it out [after the initial success of “Abominog”], coupled with the band’s home label of Bronze going under, it all left the band looking for a new label. “Equator” was issued on Portrait in 1985, but it’s blatant commercial approach and uneven material wasn’t a success and the band moved on. Equator remains an album, that many life-long Heep fans care not to remember [I like a number of moments on this one though]. After extensive touring Goalby and Sinclair would leave [sadly, Goalby was never to return as a singer in any other band, effectively retiring from performing]. After a brief tour with American Stephen Fontaine on vocals and no label, the band by the end of 1986 would include Mick Box [founding member], Lee Kerslake, Trevor Bolder, Phil Lanzon [keys, ex Grand Prix], and Canadian born Bernie Shaw [ex Grand Prix, Stratus] on vocals. And thus began the band’s longest standing line-up. However, for all their 20 years together, recordings would become few and far between, and the band would become mainly a heavy touring act, playing everywhere possible [first band in Moscow in 1987]. 1989’s “Raging Silence” received great reviews, but it didn’t seem to put the band back to where they had been in ’82, and 1991’s “Different World” was almost non existent in many parts of the world. The band’s label Legacy being pretty ineffective at any promotion or getting it to the shops. From this point the band would carry on touring for years.

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In 1995 the band released “Sea Of Light” [tho not originally released in North America], and it was so damn good – it drew back legions of old fans. The band taking inspiration from early Heep recordings, delivered an outstanding album of heavy rockers, progressive masterpieces, and a couple of memorable ballads. Heavier guitar, acoustic guitar, more Hammond organ, really bringing Heep’s trademark early sounds in to the 90s… and all covered with Roger Dean artwork! It really exceeded long time fans expectations at the time. 1998’s “Sonic Origami” though would take a lighter approach, with less rockers, more acoustics, more ballads… and as much as I like this album almost as much as it’s predecessor – it would split many fans, who thought it was too lightweight. And when the band’s single, a cover of the Survivor ballad “Across The Miles” didn’t generate the expected interest in the US, the label pulled the band’s North American tour just days before; ending the momentum they’d gained with the latest 2 albums!

Soon after the band signed on to Classic Rock productions, and although this period til 2005 saw no new studio releases, it was significant for the yearly live albums taken from special shows. And this brings us to this ‘new’ release, really a re-release, but the first on the band’s new and own label! But first … “Remasters : The Official Anthology” was originally released in December of 2001, featuring artwork by Roger Dean. It was the third release in a year and based on the band’s 2 previous live recordings “Acoustically Driven” and “Electrically Driven” [recorded just 3 months apart. Following on from the 30th Anniversary live release “Future Echoes Of The Past” [i never understood why the long title!?, Acoustically Driven was a stunning show, mixing up some rarely played classics and newer tracks, with string accompaniment, backing singers and a few guests, most notably Ian Anderson]. Both of these releases also featured Roger Dean artwork.

The original CD release [Remasters] states on the back cover – “..a stunning new set which features new re-mixes, alternate versions and re-recordings of classic Heep material from 1970 to 2001. Every single song has been recorded by this, the longest serving line-up of the band.” At the time, I admit – I passed on this release, seeing it as a sort of repackaging of the latest live sets, and rehashing of what we already had essentially. But apparently I was wrong, with these songs presented as a sorta studio release, taken from rehearsals and such from the previous 2 live albums. Now issued as “Totally Driven”, this is an outstanding set of classic Heep. The album features new cover art from Igor Morski, who did covers for ‘Outsider’ and ‘Live At Koko’, and the track running order has been altered.

Mick Box – “The ‘Totally Driven’ recordings were made while we were in preparation for the ‘Acoustically Driven’ and ‘Electrically Driven’ concerts. Previously these 2001 recordings were released under the confusing name ‘Remasters’, but that title went out of print very quickly. This re-release has had the band’s full input, including in its re-branding as ‘Totally Driven’ and will be the very first release on our own Uriah Heep Records. ‘Appy Days!”

With 27 tracks featured here, Totally Driven touches on plenty of different albums, though sadly omitting anything from 1980-85. It is however worth hearing for the band’s fresh takes and Bernie Shaw’s vocals on such classics as “Sweet Freedom”, “The Easy Road”, “Why Did You Go”, “Traveler In Time”, “Wonderworld”, and “Come Back To Me”. And songs from this line-up’s era [at the time] also come off outstanding with “Cross That Line” [a song never played before from ‘Different World’], “Only The Young” [from ‘Sonic Origami’], and the epic “Love In Silence” [from ‘Sea of Light’] – frankly, I prefer this version to the original.

Following Acoustically Driven and Electrically Driven, Uriah Heep would do what were named “The Magician’s Birthday Party” shows for a few years – these would feature guests and a few former band members [most notably a one-off reunion with Ken Hensley, and John Lawton more than once]. Hensley would join the band on stage in Russia a few months ago, once again [along with Lee Kerslake]. It would be great to see more such shows, featuring a few others, such as Peter Goalby perhaps [!?], John Wetton [?], Iain Clarke [?], Paul Newton [?], John Sloman [?] … why not!? [Goalby had mentioned that he’d been invited to a Magician’s Birthday Party, but had to decline. At the time he said he would be happy to do a Heep show that featured the band’s other singers, as well as Hensley].

The early 2000s may not have been a very productive one for Heep as far as anything really new went, but it sure was an interesting one for fans with a series of outstanding live albums, reunions, and product. Classic Rock Productions, who did such a nice job of putting on these events and promoting the band through their color magazine / catalogue would soon disappear after 2005’s “Between Two Worlds” [dvd only release]; Lee Kerslake would retire before the band’s next studio album, and thus marked the end of a long era for Uriah Heep. The newly branded “Totally Driven” is a nice celebration of that era.


To order Totally Driven –

Amazon CD Order Link: Amazon Digital Link: iTunes Link:



Led Zep get the led out cover

In 2012 album artist Ioannis was a big part of Denny Somach’s unique and outstanding Led Zeppelin book – “Get The Led Out”. The book – which is a fantastic and colorful biography of the band, which includes piles of interviews with those in, around, and famous connections to the 70s biggest rock band. Ioannis provided classic drawings of the band, bandmembers, symbols, and pieces related to the band’s history throughout the book, as well as covers and borders. His classic drawings can be seen and purchased in print Or originals at his own website. The man is also well know to Uriah Heep fans, and has a few items of interest coming up this year to tell about, among other projects and appearances.

Q: You knew Denny Somach well before starting “Get The Led Out”. How did the idea of you doing the artwork throughout the book come about? It makes for a very unique approach to a rock bio.

A: I have worked with Denny Somach for close to 30 years having designed logos for his national radio shows his label CINEMA RECORDS in the 80s, mostly electronic music and so on. We had recently reconnected and he told me of the LED ZEP book based on his successful radio show of the same name – GET THE LED OUT, that airs on over 300 stations with host DJ Carol Miller. I introduced him to my publisher as I was completing my book with Martin Popoff, and the rest is history as they say. I was approached to do the art – that started with the cover. The publisher wanted to have a painting representing each phase of Led Zeppelin through their career.  It worked well; the book quickly sold out of it’s hard cover edition and now is in it’s second printing as a soft cover.

Q: What was your own familiarity as a fan with Zeppelin? Any favorite albums and/or album covers?

A: I remember hearing Led Zep in 1972 (Misty Mountain Hop) while going to school in Athens and really liked them although at that time URIAH HEEP, T-REX and DEEP PURPLE reigned supreme in Europe.  Later on I grew up listening to them as any other 70’s teenager, remember doing to the movie theater to see THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME, it was like going to a concert – the atmosphere in the theater at that time. They were at their peak by then. I really like Physical Graffiti – my favourite album from them. As for their covers I am a big fan of Storm and Hipgnosis, so HOUSES OF THE HOLY,  IN THROUGH THE OUT DOOR, THE LIVE ALBUM, and of course – LED ZEPPELIN I. 

Q: What sort of inspired the drawings you did for Get The Led Out? Mainly imagination, either famous pics or scenes…?  And is there ever any copyright or concerns regarding reinterpreting ideas from perhaps an album cover or a photo?

A: It was a very conscious effort. Since they were the dominating 70’s band I felt that the look of the art and design should reflect album cover art of the 70’s as opposed to a photo-shop slick look or Shepard Fairey art they used for the recent live album.  So it was done artistically to reflect that old look where black and white photos or line art was used and then stuck on a board and was colored in inks with an airbrush – that’s how HOUSES OF THE HOLY was done, the way I used to work in the 80’s and occasionally still do. I was very pleased with the results, and it gave the book a unique feel.

Q: Can you give me a few words about some of the specific drawings [prints] – such as Knebworth 79, The Hermit from IV, the 1970 band in flowers, Kashmir… ?

A: Again it was based on imagery that they were associated with at that time in their career, so the LED ZEP III cover for instance was the inspiration for the band in flowers and the images that I copied were from that era – I tried to resemble that ‘collage’ feel, for example. On KNEBWORTH  – I remember the crop circles in the English countryside and thought that would be cool to do that and have the zeppelin overhead with it’s light beams on. The Hermit from ZEP IV was my take of the drawing from the inner sleeve of that album; it’s also the tarot card image from that and also inspired by Jimmy Page’s fantasy sequence in the movie.

Kashmir was inspired by the music – once again the mighty zeppelin flying overhead, I did not want every image a painting of the band, I wanted to get into the band mythos a bit; plus I was asked to do a piece of each member also.

Q: As you sell these drawings through your site [prints] – how has response been from the Zeppelin fans? And what have been the biggest sellers?

A: Actually amazing, as I have sold a large number of the prints although the supplies are dwindling as they are very limited edition and when they are gone – they are gone, also private collectors have bought a number of the originals, I will shortly be posting  the remaining originals for sale and give the public a shot at them.  One of the pieces sold for $15,000. – to give an idea.

Q: Have you had any contact or feedback from Plant, Page or Jones? Anyone in the Zep camp have any of your prints that you know of?  🙂

A: I haven’t but Denny has; he has a picture of Robert Plant holding up the book – So I know he liked it. Recently I gave one to Lenny Kravitz during a photo session and he was wowed by it. Also, recently here in the States – on the FXX channel, Denis Leary’s new show SEX AND DRUGS AND ROCK N ROLL aired and in one episode he had the book prominently featured behind him which was very cool.  I also get a ton of fain mail about it.

Q: You also recently did the cover for the new House of Lords album. I’m not a huge fan, but love the art. What can you tell me about your connection and this piece?

A: Thanks.  Yeah, I really liked it a lot, it was a labour of love really.  I have known James Christian since I was a teenager as he played in a number of bands in my town. We always talked about doing something. My Friend Jeff Canatta from Arcangel connected us again and i did the latest. He let me run with it so it turned out well.  I just put up the original for sale… Let me know if you wanted to purchase it lol.

Q: What other projects are you presently working on that you can divulge any details about? And any future projects you’re looking forward to?

A: In February of last year I accepted the position of Creative Director with Sweden Music Group, a hard-rock metal label. So I have my hands full with that.  Also I am working on a number of new HEEP projects this year, as they will continue the bootleg series and a few re-issues that I will do new art for.  I also finished the new JON ANDERSON & JEAN LUC PONTY album that came out in October and also I redesigned the 20th anniversary FATES WARNING A PLEASANT SHADE OF GRAY with new art, a very deluxe digi-pak, double sided vinyl and t-shirts. Very proud of that, one of the best packages I have done in recent years.  I also a very limited deluxe portfolio signed by me and the band that is available on my website. I am currently also talking to SUPERTRAMP, for their release and a few other things I can’t divulge yet.

Q: How have the Heep covers you’ve done been received via print sales? Any favorites amongst the buyers? And can Heep fans expect to see your work again in the future?

A: Extremely well! They have very loyal and fanatic fans. WAKE THE SLEEPER  and LIVE IN KAWASAKI  are real movers, and yes – I have been asked by management to do a number of upcoming HEEP projects in the new year.

Q: Do you ever get out on the road and do record fairs or comic exhibitions — anywhere fans can actually see you in person?

A: As matter of fact yes. In the past I had attended Heep concerts in the US , set up shop next to Roger Dean at the YES FEST  and sold well! 

I am planning to be selling my stuff at the two major dates FATES WARNING  is playing for the 30th anniversary of AWAKEN THE GUARDIAN, one of my most famous covers.  I will be signing books and prints this year at SXSW in Austin, Texas .   And I am currently in negotiations to have my work sold in the upcoming rock cruises and attend them.

*I want to thank you for the opportunity to talk to you, and would love if the fans would visit my website and Facebook page links below.

They may also contact me at  – I always like to hear from them and if they have any questions about my work or would like to purchase something unique.

KJJ, Jan ’16

Out There … Again! with Kirk Krein

Kirk Krein speaks on Out There and their new release featuring Steff Fontaine on vocals!


Out There is a Phoenix based band who’ve just issued their third album, and with a twist. Due to my past contact with singer Stephen “Steff” Fontaine, who was at one time (1986), singing for Uriah Heep, and who had sang on the classic AOR album by Joshua “The Hand Is Quicker Than The Eye” (1982) – Kirk Krein contacted me with news of this release. Kirk is the band’s bassist, keyboard player and backing vocals [on this release]. Out There Again also features Tom Vanderginst on guitars and Sean Medhi on drums.
Out There Again is a good mix of hard rock, mixed with acoustics moments, giving this album a nice blend of songs and styles. I must say that hearing Fontaine on this album really stood out, as [aside from the Joshua album] much of what Fontaine has done over the years has been pretty ‘heavy’ metal [2001’s Heartache City release included], but here there’s less ‘metal’ screams and just more good singing. Highlights include the acoustic opener “Apocalypse”, the ballad “Caught In A Dream” –  acoustic guitar, organ, and a great vocal [love the guitar break as well]. and “Cruizin Down The Highway” – which rocks, and features a cool guitar solo and backing vocals. Although there’s 3 covers on this album, I prefer the originals, these guys got some really cool songs; my only criticism is they don’t allow themselves to ‘stretch out’ with lengthier solos and keyboard passages, but this is definately a great intro to the band and hopefully there’ll be more and bigger productions to come!
In this interview with Kirk Krein gives some recall on the ‘old’ days on the Phoenix rock scene, as well as details of the band’s most recent project.
To check out the band Out There and their new album “Out There – Again” please visit >

(*all photos borrowed from the band’s website)

out there kirk

What was typical set list or genre of bands you guys would cover?

KK: Alien covered Ted Nugent, Montrose, Deep Purple, Zeppelin, Foreigner, Heart, Styx, Rainbow, Kansas, Van Halen, ZZ Top, Boston, Eagles, Skynyrd, Stones, Bad Company, Thin Lizzy and so many more I can’t remember right now, that was 38 years ago.
Were you familiar much with Heep and Stephen’s association with them?

KK: Uriah Heep was one of my all time favorite bands but, I really didn’t find out Stephen even sang with them until about 10 years ago, guess I was out of touch for a while.
Can you give me a short list of some of your favorite musicians / bands / albums / influence from your early days?

KK: Pink Floyd, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Montrose, Kiss, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Doobie Brothers, REO Speedwagon, Fog Hat, BTO, Yes, Steely Dan, Alice Cooper, Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Kansas, ZZ Top, Foreigner, Bad Company, Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, Ten Years After, James Gang, Joe Walsh, Boston, The Eagles, ELP, Zappa, The Beatles and most of the British invasion bands. I was into jazz as well.
Bass players that influenced me the most were Geddy Lee, Stanley Clarke and Chris Squire

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What’s your story of the bands you had in the 70s with Fontaine [Alien and Straight Shooter]? Did you guys play covers or originals back then [a mix]? And was there anything ever recorded to tape back then? 

KK: Wow, the 70’s, what a blur! From what I recall, myself, (Kirk Krein) along with guitar player Rick Dickerson had finished playing in a couple bands together when we acquired drummer Frank Micola. Frank and Stephen met in college here in AZ and Frank brought him over. Stephen auditioned for our band Straight Shooter, sounded awesome and instantly became the new lead singer. (none of us remember exactly how or when things came together) LOL. Straight Shooter lasted about a year when we regrouped, forming the band Alien – adding guitarist Craig Frost. We later became the number 1 cover band in Phoenix. Lot’s of member changes happened from 1977 through 1979, especially drummers. Alien was a true cover band, we did fool around with some originals, but not seriously, unfortunately.
I believe there were some audience type or rehearsal tapes made back then, but nothing has survived to date, to my knowledge anyway.
We didn’t have the money back then to record anything of quality, not even a demo tape, important people came to the clubs to hear you back then.

out there straight shooter(Straight Shooter featuring Fontaine and Krein)
You’ve always been based in Phoenix!? what was the rock scene like back in the day?

KK: I personally started playing bass in a band back in North Dakota, we were underage, in High School, restricted to the stage and played for about 3 years at bars, clubs, proms and parties around ND, Minnesota and South Dakota ’til I moved to Phoenix in December of 1975. Not sure about the other guys prior history but, for the most part we felt we were a true Phoenix band; all of us were around the age of 18 or 19 when things were heating up.
The Rock scene in Phoenix was killer back then. We were playing some of the largest Phoenix clubs six nights a week like the Store West and East with some pretty big crowds yes – there were some really small hole in the wall clubs such as Arnold’s 2×4, Lil Abners, The Zoo, TNT Express, I think one night at the Mason Jar in 78 or 79. They were the best, crazy, crazy fun Times!
When disco clubs started popping up (I try not to think about that) it kind of put a damper on things.
What level of success did you guys achieve [any highlights]?

KK: Alien had a fairly big following for a Phoenix band and we were trying to make a name for ourselves, but we were all kind of young and stupid. One of the bands we rotated club schedules with at the Store West was called BE with drummer Pat Torpe, who went on to play with Mr. Big and many other big endeavors. Our big success story stopped before it got started. Such a bummer.

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When and why did these bands break up and you got out of music ?

KK: When Alien was about to get their big break with a Western US tour and I remember this well, we were playing at a one week gig in a Tucson club called Choo Choo’s Night Train or something like that (can’t remember for sure). Our agent had us staying in a large 10 bedroom house with a bunch of Ladies of the Evening, yeah, shock to me too, the bar patrons would come and party with us every night after closing, lot’s of stories there, but I was good, really I was. That week on a Friday night the Rolling Stones played in town. After they finished, we had a line of people trying to get in the club that went around the block. Anyway, there were some talent scouts in the audience that night, Chuck Wright with Satyr who went on to be the bass payer with Quiet Riot offered Stephen a sweet deal to move out to LA and that was the end of that version of the band Alien as I knew it, no tour, such a bummer. Different versions of the band went on for a while with lots of member changes til it fizzled. I left the band after Stephen did, as we couldn’t find a singer with an amazing voice like his.
When did you get back in to the music scene and how did Out There come about?

KK: I took a break to raise two boys, married twice, was a photographer and headhunter for many years. Once the kids left the nest and with me being single, I joined a cover band called RoadRage in 2007 where I met lead guitar player Tom Vanderginst. When things went south with that band, I asked Tom to join me at my home studio to start recording original material. After about a year we dubbed the band name ‘Out There’ with the studio being called DreamLand Studios, owned by Kirk Krein.

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What can you tell me about the band’s previous 2 albums – when were these done, how were they received [locally?], any press reviews, etc?

KK: Our first album was called “From the Beginning” and the second called “Out There”; both were released in November 2013 after several years in the making. We really didn’t know what to expect or how to market them, it was a total learning curve for us, just did it for the fun of it. I did the recording, engineering, producing, lead vocals, harmonies, bass and keyboards, Tom did all the guitar work and Sean Medhi did the drum work. There are some rockers on the Out There album such as Taken Away, No Place To Hide, Time Will Tell, Flight Through Time, Out There, Into The Night, Good Time Tonight, Got My Shades On and Hold On Tight. A lot of people say I sound like Ozzy. Maybe?

out there secondout there first
Had you heard much from Fontaine over the years and how did you end up reconnecting?

KK: I hadn’t heard from Fontaine until this past year. I reached out to him in 2013 and he finally responded around July or August of 2014 after he found our web site and heard some of our material.

out there steff
Most of the songs on your new album appeared on the band’s previous 2 recordings without Fontaine on vocals!? How was this song selection done, as opposed to coming up with new material?

KK: After Fontaine contacted me, we decided he should listen the tracks on our albums and he should pick the songs he wanted to sing on. He loves ballads and rockers so, hence the reason for the songs on the new album. He had two goals, number one, to prove he could still sing and two, just to enjoy doing it again. It was a cool experience for us too, especially me, having played with Fontaine before! The new Album is called “Out There Again” – kind of a remix of past songs we did mostly from the first album.
You’ve included 3 covers – Stealin, Space Truckin, and Love welcome Home [I wasn’t familiar with that one] — why these particular songs?

KK: Well, Stealin was my idea, to make a point out there that Stephen still had it together vocally and can still stand up with the big guys, Space Truckin was Steff’s idea, we all love that song and had a blast doing it, Love Welcome Home was Steff’s idea, thinking women out there would love it, plus, it never was a hit back in the day; it was one of the hardest songs to play musically that we’ve ever tried to do.
Would you be able to give me a line or 2 about the tracks [aside from above covers] on the new album?

KK: Well, as stated before, all the songs were written by Kirk Krein and Tom Vanderginst with a new spin put on them with Stephen Fontaine’s vocals. Apocalypse, Cruzin Down The Highway and RoadKill Cafe are some of my favorites on the Out There Again Album, they all are, really. Stephen just felt these were the songs he could shine on, and he did!.

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One thing I notice, is you guys include a cool mix of sounds – acoustics, hard rockers, some cool keyboards on occasion, but you don’t tend to stretch out the songs with lengthy instrumental features. Can you kinda explain how songs come about and get put to tape?

KK: I guess we could have gone crazy with extended instrumental parts, but we chose not to, in order to keep the overall song time down under 5 minutes.
Our recording process usually begins with an idea, phrase or chord progression to start with, maybe only a few seconds long, then I/we scrutinize to put some structure in the overall product, with choruses, lead parts, harmonies etc. things start to flow from there, one track at a time. Then we pick it apart, maybe to much sometimes, LOL!!.
Are you guys booking / planning any live shows? Is Fontaine living back in Phoenix?

KK: Right now we are trying to discover if people like what we’re doing, it’s been a studio recording endeavor for the most part. We would consider doing a live show or tour in the future should an opportunity come forth and the circumstances were right.
Stephen is currently residing in California, and the rest of us, Kirk, Tom and Sean are based here in Arizona, we’ve been sending tracks back and forth and I’ve been mixing them here in AZ.
Just an additional note: if you search the web for Out There, search for Out There Tunes or Out There Band, It’s kind of hard to find otherwise.
Kirk Krein

My Top Ten List of The Works of Mick Box : Favorite Songs and Performances from Uriah Heep’s Guitarist.

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With June 9 having been the Uriah Heep guitarist’s latest birthday, I thought I’d visit a bit of his story and selection of some of my favorite Heep tracks that feature some of his best work writing and/or playing.

[*Mick shared birthdays with longtime Heep member – Trevor Bolder – RIP]. This page is to celebrate Mick’s work and efforts in keeping Uriah Heep going strong for the fans throughout the years.

Mick is the lone founding member left in the British band, after he – along with David Byron [RIP], Alex Napier and Paul Newton were joined by Ken Hensley in late 1969 and changed the band’s name from Spice to Uriah Heep. Over the years he survived numerous band member changes, management and record company changes and hassles, and sadly a few passings. In 1981 he had become the only founding member and with the name and still a record deal – he rebooted the band with Lee Kerslake, Bob Daisley, Peter Goalby and John Sinclair [with longtime bassist Trevor Bolder returning not too long after]. Though the band had peaked in the ‘70s with David Byron on vocals and Ken Hensley writing the vast majority of the material, and both members being the focal point of the band – Box remained a steady contributor and the ‘80s saw him move to the front. By the end of the ‘80s he was the band’s major songwriter [along with Phil Lanzon] and by the mid ‘90s he was managing the band. I think it is safe to say Mick has done more of his best writing and studio recording over the past 20 years [since 1995’s Sea Of Light brought the band back to life for many old fans, new fans, and critics].

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“Mick has always been a great player, and he’s been what I call a “team player”. I used to run in to Mick a lot in England, and he always such a great guy. In fact we used to rehearse in the same studio a lot. I don’t know why he never got more acclaim than he did, because i think he was due a lot more.” – Stuart Smith [Heaven & Earth]

Here’s my list — I didn’t pick all the predictable ones either! Feel free to comment and drop your own list or recommendations in the comments….

I’ll Keep On Trying – from the first Heep album, credited to Mick and David Byron. Although this song really shows the immediate impact of Ken Hensley with the band – Mick’s heavy playing here is the highlight; that lengthy solo where he turns it up and lets loose. Classic stuff!

(17) Uriah Heep – I’ll Keep On Trying – 1970 – YouTube

The Magicians Birthday – with the song built around a story Ken Hensley had written, it is the guitar & drum interplay in this song that became what this song is known for. According to Lee Kerslake, the instrumental section was done in one take. The band has re-added this to the set list over the past year or so and it is a concert high point with Mick and Russell Gilbrook sparring it out on stage.

(17) Uriah Heep ‎– The Magician’s Birthday (1972) – YouTube

Devils Daughter – from 1975’s Return To Fantasy, and co-credited to the bandmembers [though newcomer John Wetton was left off the writing credits at the time]. So not sure who all contributed what, but one has to suspect Mick had a good hand in this with one of his more memorable riffs, and a cool lengthy solo exchange of guitar and keyboard interplay with Ken Hensley. A seldom mentioned gem, which the band resurrected in the early ‘90s and used as a live show opener for a few tours.

(17) Uriah Heep – Devil’s Daughter (Remastered 2020) – YouTube

Free N Easy – a song John Lawton brought in for Innocent Victim, but with the help of Mick it became the heaviest song the band had done in years, and much needed as the band was in the confused state of becoming a middle of the road pop band. Killer riff, worked great with Hensley playing slide as alongside Mick. The band brought this song back in to the live show a few years ago, providing a highlight of the evening when they’d invite ladies on stage to jump around to the song.

(17) Uriah Heep-Free ‘N’ Easy – YouTube

Too Scared To Run – though brought in to the band by [then] singer Peter Goalby, it is Mick’s riff and solo performance here that scream “Heep is back”. Fittingly the lead off track to 1982’s Abominog, and featured in the band’s live show [off and on] for years.

(17) Uriah Heep – Too Scared To Run – YouTube

Poor Little Rich Girl – another track from the Goalby era, and perhaps from one of the band’s lowest rated albums by longtime fans (Equator). I believe Goalby wrote most of this, but you gotta love Mick’s acoustic playing and that big dramatic solo.

(17) Uriah Heep:-‘Poor Little Rich Girl’ – YouTube

Against The Odds – after 1991’s less than stellar Different World and a few years of no new recording this lead off track from 1995’s Sea Of Light was so welcomed and so exciting and easily set aside any fears that Mick and the band couldn’t come up with great rockers anymore. A real blazer, co-written by Mick with Phil Lanzon, and featuring a killer riff and 2 [!] huge solos from Mick.

(17) Uriah Heep – Against The Odds – YouTube

Between Two Worlds – from 1998’s Sonic Origami. Another huge lead off rocker, and my favorite Heep classic from the past 30 years! Co-written by Mick with Phil, and lyrically about the chance of meeting those you lost in another world. A cool guitar break, and a huge lengthy solo that races to the finale on this one. The heaviest from a fairly lighter [but excellent] Heep album.

(17) Uriah Heep – Between Two Worlds – YouTube

Ghost Of The Ocean – from 2008’s Wake The Sleeper; written by Mick and Phil about female pirates(!) This song just blares out right from the start with Mick’s riff and sound [and Russell beating the hell out of it], add Mick’s hooks and solo – a classic modern Heep rocker.

(17) Uriah Heep:-‘Ghost Of The Ocean’ – YouTube

Jesse – from 2014 Heep studio album Outsider; this album was a bit of a grower for me, but this song (written by Mick & Phil) I liked upon first listen – a bit more of a commercial rock tune, with a great little intro from Mick and one very different and killer sounding solo from anything else here. My favorite song from this album; too bad it didn’t make it to the live show or as a single.

(17) Uriah Heep – Jessie – YouTube

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A look at some classic live albums [part one]

Well, I started this out as a pile of reviews of some of my favorite Live albums, but find myself enjoying rifling throughout [and a few newer] live albums in my collection. There was a time when live albums were a bit more rarely released and held more meaning — such as they capped off a period for a band or captured a band on a special occasion… Now a-days live albums seem pretty regular for most bands, releasing them after almost every tour – or more than one per tour. Though there’s some great single live albums out there [and I’ve included a few here] – there is something special about those big double LP gatefold releases – and every great band of the ’70s has such a legendary album in their catalogue – Thin Lizzy, UFO, Uriah Heep, Humble Pie, Deep Purple …. well – except for Black Sabbath [with Ozzy] and Alice Cooper [the band!]. Anyway, more to come next time – as I have pulled a pile of these from the shelf to revisit, as well as I have a few new[er] great releases too.


Kiss – Alive
The first ‘used’ albums I ever bought were from a school friend’s older brother – he was kind enough to sell me his LP copies of a few early Sabbath albums and a couple of Kiss albums for a mere 50 cents  each! A great deal then [and still] for a grade 5’er, even if the guy had bothered to print his damn name on the front of each LP cover! For me tho, this was my first hearing of a band ‘live’, and it was an exciting experience! Kiss Alive was my first and easily still my fave Kiss live release [Alive 2 was ridiculous and I hardly played it even when i got it]. Something about the band’s material from the first 3 albums that makes that period their best for me, and the infusion of volume and a live crowd to a band that was young, energetic, eager to please and cool back then – was pretty spectacular! Alive was just a great set of guitar rock; sure Kiss lyrics were fairly lame even back then [they got worse after this period] – side one just packed with Kiss early classics like “Deuce”, “Strutter”, “Got To Choose”, “Hotter Than Hell”, and “Firehouse”. Elsewhere, faves include “C’mon and Love Me”, “Black Diamond” [w/ Peter Criss singing], “Rock Bottom” [w/ that cool light intro] and “Cold Gin” [w/ Paul Stanley’s goofy story beforehand]. This album was highlighted by the single “Rock And Roll All Nite” – which became the band’s first hit — and one of those songs I just can’t stand!
Classic packaging courtesy of Fin Costello, who used a similar concept he’d done on Uriah Heep’s “Live …January 1973” release – with memorable photos [front and back], and a gatefold cover that includes a program featuring a pile more live band and individual photos [note the bandmember close ups signed, just as the Heep ones were].  This was Kiss at their peak, before they tried being a pop-rock band of cartoon characters on the next several albums. I should add i enjoyed Alive 3 in the ’90s, as well as the live Unplugged [reunion] release, but for me Kiss – up until Alive was the most magical for this band – no dolls, lunch boxes, comic books and stupid solo albums – just a solid and exciting guitar heavy rock band!


BOC – Some Enchanted Evening
The first Blue Oyster Cult album I ever bought, and heck I’m not even sure why[!?] – likely the cover-art combined with it being on display and sale at the local Sam The Record Man [and I knew “The Reaper”!].  Taken from various shows around the globe in 1978, Some Enchanted Evening was a mere single LP release [the band’s previous and next live releases would be doubles, but not sure of the reasoning behind this release!?],  w/ color photo’d sleeve. Some Enchanted Evening would be my introduction to this seemingly scary band with songs about death – “The Reaper”, monsters – “Godzilla”, and unknown  / other worlds – “Astronomy” and “ETI [Extra Terrestrial Intelligence”], 4 of the best known BOC classics – all here! and for the longest time – my favorite BOC songs [til I much later completed buying the band’s catalogue].  Side one kicks off with “R U Ready 2 Rock” [from Spectres] – turn up loud because this IS BOC at their best! The song comes off heavier, and rocks harder – Albert Bouchard kicks the shit out of it on drums.  A prime example of why BOC was never remotely the same after he [and brother Joe] left. ETI follows with that classic riff, and a cool vocal delivery from Eric Bloom, but it’s the performance of “Astronomy” here that really got me early on and remains my favorite BOC tune; delivered as more of a heavy bass / guitar track; it wasn’t for a long time that i realized this was in fact a piano based song originally – and both are pretty different but classic recordings. Side 2 opens with a huge rocking rendition of “Kick Out The Jams” and closes with a smooth cover of The Animals “We Gotta Get Out of This Place”, in between is “Godzilla” and the band’s biggest hit “[Don’t Fear] The Reaper” – all beefed up in guitar and sound, with strong backing vox. BOC :  Eric Bloom, Donald Roeser, Allen Lanier [RIP], Joe Bouchard, and Albert Bouchard – that was it for me! I enjoyed subsequent studio albums – Mirrors [despite it being a bit lightweight], Cultosaurus Erectus, and Fire Of Unknown Origin, but definitely things began to fade when Albert left, and aside from a few tracks ’80s releases The Revolution By Night and Club Ninja [minus Joe as well] i rarely got beyond a couple of tracks. 1989’s Imaginos was a great record, but too many guests and not a real reunion to follow. Oh well. Some Enchanted Evening captured BOC at their peak, and it’s fun to revisit and crank up loud still. I should add that tho I lost interest in the band throughout the ’90s, it was really Joe’s first solo album and Blue Coupe shows that I really got back in to the BOC catalogue, but this remains my favorite release from them [studio or live!] and their biggest seller. *Note: the remastered CD version of this album adds a pile of songs as well.


Saga – In Transit
One of the first albums I bought, In Transit covered material from the band’s first 4 albums – easily their strongest era, and (in my opinion!) – a period that ended with 1983’s Heads Or Tales.
Originally from Toronto, Saga would make a bigger name for themselves in Europe where their more progressive approach was far more appreciated, and with this album being recorded at shows in West Germany and Denmark. I can clearly remember first hearing this album at a friend’s when it came out and then buying it soon after at the Eaton’s in the Rexdale Mall [a time when department stores had decent sized music sections; sadly Eaton’s and that mall are long gone].  Though part of a great up and coming Toronto scene in the late 70s and early 80s, Saga’s more keyboard / prog approach and more thought provoking lyrical approach set them apart – a good bit of drama and melody in this band’s music. And frankly most of my fave Saga songs are still all found on this single LP, full of classics like “Careful Where You Step” [a cool intro for this young new fan at the time], followed by “Don’t Be Late” and Humble Stance”. Side one closes with “Wind Him Up” from the band’s [then] latest World’s Apart – which had a couple of big radio hits at the time [and 2 of the few Saga tunes that still get any radio play]. Side 2 boasts “How Long”, the ballad “No Regrets” (w/ Jim Gilmour singing lead), a short drum solo aptly titled “A Brief Case”, the dramatic “You’re Not Alone”, and the other big hit from World’s Apart “On The Loose”. After hearing the studio versions, In Transit showed what a great live band Saga were [are] – bringing a lot of energy and life to already great songs.  On this upswing in their career the band followed up with Heads or Tales, which featured classics like “The Flyer”, “Cat Walk” and “Social Orphan”, though to me – the studio stuff just lacks that energy. Of note – the band was to play the Niagara Falls Memorial Arena on February 29 [!] of 1984, which I’d planned to go, but this was cancelled when a blizzard at the time close schools for a few days and cancelled the show. The band’s last album with that classic line-up of Michael Sadler, Jim Gilmour, Jim Crichton, Steve Negus, and Ian Crichton was 1985’s Behaviour, but saw the band heading in a more commercial/ aor direction with the hit “What Do I Know”. 1987’s Wildest Dreams saw Negus & Gilmour gone from the band [both return later, tho Negus has since departed permanently] – a totally forgettable album for me [aside from the fact that Curt Cress, who’d played with Lucifers Friend was on drums!]. I never got back to being a big Saga fan, though In Transit remains my fave album by them, and one of my favorite Live albums. Sometime in the early ’90s Saga played a club in St.Catharines, and I was able to take and get all those early Saga LPs fully signed [i recall the drummer taking them for me and commenting “wow, someone has vinyl!”].  Interesting also that last years Saga-City album, though a decent sounding album [def sounds like Saga] – added a bonus disc of live material – much of which is still from the In Transit era.


Uriah Heep – Live in Europe ’79
My fellow Heep fans may disagree, but this is my favorite Heep live album. Granted Heep’s “Live – Janurary 1973” is legendary as it captures the classic line up at their peak as well as set a standard for live album packaging, courtesy of Fin Costello.  But this post-David Byron line up release of the band then fronted by John Lawton in 1979 – his last tour before being dropped, came out in 1986 [Raw Power / Castle]. A shame it didn’t come out at the time it was made, may have helped the band at a declining time. Though the band’s profile in North America had sank pretty far since the band’s heyday from 72-75, Heep still had a string of hits throughout various European countries during the Lawton era and still played to decent crowds there. Believe it or not, there are still those Heep fans that gave up after Byron was canned [sad for them] – and even sadder if someone didn’t give this line-up a listen here. Lawton’s debut with Heep was on Firefly – a classic album!, though i find the next 2 a bit inconsistent and softer, with songs seemingly more hurried in the studio and not given the full classic Heep production. Having said that – Lawton and bassist Trevor Bolder [RIP] really added some new life to the Heep classics here, while the band really beefs up and adds energy to tracks from [then current album] Fallen Angel. Actually wish they’d chosen more from the Lawton period here [btw the remastered CD release includes a couple of Lawton era tunes not on the original LP set]. While Lawton adds a powerful voice to classics like “Easy Livin”, “Stealin”, “Sweet Lorraine”, and mixes well with Ken Hensley’s vocals on “July Morning” – it is side 3 here that is my fave, with Fallen Angel tracks “Falling In Love” running into “Woman Of The Night”, followed by “I’m Alive” – heavier than the studio and sounding better IMO. That side ends with Lee Kerslake’s “Who Needs Me” – complete with drum solo, though i’d prefer less drum solo and another Firefly track! [*Drum solos not my thing, especially hearing more than once.] L:awton era lightweight hit “Free Me” even comes off a bit heavier on the opening side of this album [sitting comfortably after “Look At Yourself” and “Lady In Black”. Love the way Hensley’s keyboards would connect “The Wizard” into “July Morning”! Last side features Mick Box’s moment in the spotlight during “Sweet Lorraine”, before the it winds down with blaze-throughs of Innocent Victim’s lone rocker “Free N Easy” [w/ Hensley adding slide guitar] and old classic “Gypsy”.
Original packaging was lacking – a nice brief band overview on the back, the front featuring just photos of Box and Hensley, as well as photos of Box, Hensley [the same pic!] and Kerslake only featured in the gatefold [someone couldn’t make the effort to include Lawton or Bolder at the time!?]. Oh well, definitely a great listen to a classic band, capping a period that should’ve been bigger and more successful. Interesting that this came out at the end of Heep’s period with Peter Goalby fronting the band; makes me think we’re long overdue for a Goalby era Heep double-live release!?

My latest listening and ramblings! Harm’s Way Project, Europe, Trapper….


Well, here I am – writing lengthier reviews than I intended [again] and rambling on. Not sure why, but I’ll try to be inconsistant! After all, isn’t that what these forums are for?
Still got lots to cover from the latter part of 2014 and first half of this year. Currently still playing the hell out of the latest Europe album “War Of Kings”; in fact I had to go back and pick up all the studio albums since their 2004 comeback – quite an impressive string of releases, especially “Bag Of Bones” and love the live releases from Shepherd’s Bush [London] and Sweden Rock Fest.

europe war of kingseurope bag of bones europe sweden rock

Recently saw the band in Niagara Falls, NY to a small crowd – apparently their first trip over here in 10 years. Lots of ground to cover and it seems a heck of a hurdle to overcome with the ‘hair band’ tag from the ’80s. Telling people I saw Europe – the band that did “The Final Countdown” usually gets an odd look, which i follow with – ‘their new stuff ain’t like that!’ Was bummed that Michael Schenker’s Temple of Rock show was cancelled in Toronto, but oh well – hopefully there’ll be a return with Doogie White. Here’s an interview I did with Doogie years ago [look under October 1999] –
Maybe it’s an age thing, but I’m finding as I get older, I am listening to and buying more stuff I never thought to or got in to in the past. Also revisiting those Lucifers Friend albums from the ’70s, since the new release.

Hmm, maybe I’ll get to revisiting catalogues of favorite bands here!? There is just not enough time in this life to get to it all tho! Here’s hoping the new someone will drop me a copy of the new Tommy Bolin “Teaser” box — 3 LPs! Amazing, how much this guy did in such a short life time, and we’re still gettting cool releases like the “Whirwind” set a couple of years ago, as well as reissues of his stuff with the James Gang and Zephyr, among others. You can never go wrong checking out Bolin’s music, if you’re not familiar! Also, looking forward to getting Dennis Dunaway’s new book about his Alice Cooper days; then we’ll just be awaiting for Neal Smith’s account of those days.

dennis dunaway book
Another new vinyl shop has opened in nearby Thorold [“Our Favorite Record Store”]. Mostly used LPs, but it’s a neat little store, clean and reasonably priced. Funny that when people were hurrying to ditch vinyl, shops and vendors were selling used stuff for $5 and less, now that it’s back – every crappy dime-o-dozen release is somehow a collectable worth $10 and up. Not everything is worth big $. If anyone could pick up big selling LPs like Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours”, the first 2 Boston albums, or late ’70s Foreigner records were worth $3 five to 10 years, why would anyone expect to pay over $10 a-piece now??
anyway, more to come….

The Harm’s Way Project – Everything Works If You Let It [CHA]
The 2nd Harm’s Way Project release, and quite a project it has become! The musicians being those that have found each other on the internet, largely though Uriah Heep forums and online groups, so you’ll understand if there’s a good bit of the Heep influence.  Tho I enjoyed the first album, this one is a major step up – in concept, sound, performance, production and flow.   This is a major production – and i dont mean that in a ridiculous Mutt Lange kinda way!
As I understand, lyrically based around the life journeys of lyric writers Ron Mann and Allie Segars, and tho this may be one or two peoples personal tales and outlooks – it is definately something many of us can relate to.  70s rock fans will easily dig this for the feel and sounds that come from classic rock influences of that era – a good bit of hard rock, progressive, folk….and it all flows so well musically and lyrically. Big praise to Jon Binder who handles most of the lead vocals here, as well as guitarists Keith Shaw, Dave White, Mac Steagall [who also doubles on bass and as major music writer], Micheal Fedysky [bass] and Staf Pypen [on drums], as well as the backing singers. The use of Hammond organ and Moog Synthesizer [courtesy of Jim Lynch] add to the whole feel of a time gone by when bands made these sort of albums. Frankly it is hard to pick favorites because i just throw this on, enjoy it in full as old Heep styled lead off track Time simply flows nicely in My Song, then on to the ballad Forever In The Night [the backing harmonies are a great touch throughout this].  A great mix of tunes with rockers like Cries In Winters Rain [this one musically reminds me Heep’s Time To Live], Battles, and Lost In A Fog, and outstanding ballads like It’s All My Fault [nicely done on piano with violin sounds adding a nice touch] and Searching For An Angel – [love the female lead vocals here, backing vocals, and keyboards adding the string sounds]. Again, this album is a FULL listen – not something you can simply jump through select tracks.  Lots to listen to musically and lyrically. Seems like a fine album to throw on for those outside summer evenings!
Well packaged too [tho i’d love to have it on vinyl!] A classic unknown 70s release, made in 2014!
*and look ’em up on Facebook Reverbnation

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Trapper – Go For The Heart
Holy shit, it’s like early ’80s Canuck rock made a comeback here! Trapper’s the new band formed by Canadian guitarist Sean Kelly – who’s become a legend in the last couple of years here – with his book Metal On Ice, and having wrote andrecorded with Helix, played live with Coney Hatch, Lee Aaron…. Trapper tho, is his brand new band with singer Emm Gryner and they have a 5 track CD that is a cool throwback to that period in Canadian rock when the likes of Harlequin, Trooper, Loverboy, Toronto, etc…  were big on the radio airwaves, albeit a good bit heavier with no keyboards, more guitar… Lonely Nights, Technology Killed Our Love and Grand Bender are cool memorable rockers, catchy hooks and choruses, big solos, great production; and then there’s 2 covers in The Warrior and Your Love – neither of which i cared for way back, but they’ve got a bit more bite and fit so well on this disc.  Check Trapper out >

Dennis DeYoung – Plays The Music of Styx [Frontiers]
Styx was one of my first favorite bands, “Paradise Theater” being the first LP I ever bought (at a record outlet at the CNE In Toronto!).  The albums from 1975 (Equinox) up until “Pieces Of Eight” are classic albums, and tho they softened up and became more ‘aor’ for the last few albums before splitting in the mid 80s, I thought they were still good. Stxy – the band, carried on without one of it’s founding and IMO it’s key figure some 15+ years ago, and DeYoung went off and did some different stuff, but this Live revisit of the Styx classics is outstanding! DeYoung and his band give a very authentic Styx sounding production, full of energy and accuracy faithful to the original recordings. And it sounds like DeYoung really enjoys performing this stuff still. Interesting to note he managed to find a great guitar player in August Zadra – who not only looks like a younger Tommy Shaw, but also pulls off the vocals on the Shaw written and sang classics like “Crystal Ball” and “Blue Collar Man”, sounding remarkably like the Styx guitarist. Highlights for me include “Suite Madame Blue” (w/ prelude), “Lorelei” and lone solo hit here “Desert Moon”.

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Lucifers Friend – Awakening

The debut album from Lucifers Friend was a classic early metal album, coming around the time of Heep’s debut and Deep Purple’s “In Rock”, it featured the classic “Ride The Sky”; it is the starting point for anyone looking in to this Germanband that would gather a strong underground following around the globe, especially in North America where their LPs came out on smaller labels, labels folded, the band switching labels, lack of any promo,  – you get the idea!? Singer John Lawton was the lone Englishman in the band which also features guitarist Peter Hesslein (He and other founding LF members were experienced in studio and on the circuit in their homeland throughout the late 60s), as well as original bass player Dieter Horns. Lawton left the band in ’76 to join Uriah Heep (having missed an invite to audition for Deep Purple a few years earlier), but returned for 1 classic hard rock album in 1981 (again on a label that did nothing to promote it or distribute it!). The band also reconvened in 1994 as Lucifers Friend II for the “Sumo Grip” album. Disc one of Awakening pulls the best known classic tracks from the albums Lawton sang on up until 1981 (note – the band continued on for 2 albums in the late 70s with Mike Starrs at the mic, but nothing is included from that period here).  The band’s debut being their best known, so we get 4 heavy tracks from it, though nothing from “I’m Just A Rock n Roll Singer”, and just 1 from fan favorite “Banquet” – but oh well, this is a cool collection with classics like “Burning Ships” and “Fugitive” (the latter from the highly recommeded, more progressive album “Mind Exploding”, from ’76 ).
With Lucifers Friend albums, the band was constantly changing, adding in some pretty diverse sounds and approaches from album to album, rock, blues, jazz, fusion, pop… it’s all in their repertoire with big brass arrangements, strings, etc.. 1981’s “Mean Machine” was a return to a direct hard-rock sound, likely influenced by the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal happening at the time (note – Lawton had a solo album in 1980 with LF members as back-up, and Hesslein co-writing).
Disc 2 of Awakening (and really – 14 tracks total probably could’ve fit on 1 disc!) consists of 4 brand new tracks the band recently recorded to coincide with this release and some live shows (note – this band was not a live band for the most part throughout the 70s). The band’s writing being closer to their 1994 album, a bit more pop, but first track “Pray” is the hardest hitting and easily enjoyable, John Lawton’s vocals show no sign of ageing. “Riding High” is a steady rock number, but i dig “Did You Ever” for the changes, and Lawton’s performance. “This Road” is more of a pop track, reminiscent of the Sumo Grip stuff, but it’s catchy, and we finally get to hear Peter Hesslein a bit louder with a riff and then let loose and solo a bit . Actually my only beef is that I’d like to hear more from Hesslein; he’s a great player, but man – more big solos! Oh well, a great intro to the band for anyone not familiar, and 4 solid tunes for those that enjoyed Lucifers Friend in the past.

Dave Flett – Flying Blind
Pulled this one out again recently – The first album released by the real Dave Flett since his departure from the music scene in the UK in ’88. And i say the ‘real’ Dave Flett, as this whole project began with a track called “Stolen Identity”, which is based on a Canadian guy who’d been passing himself off as our Dave Flett for years, while the real deal was out of the music business! A pretty incredible tale, but hey – if it got Dave out of music retirement, so be it! Back to early days …. Dave Flett [for those not knowing], was the guitarist in Manfred Mann’s Earth Band in the mid 70s, playing on a couple of albums, most notably The Roaring Silence, which featured the Springsteen penned “Blinded By The Light”, a #1 hit for the band. He went on to tour with Thin Lizzy, and then various lesser name acts before relocating to the US and getting in to a new profession. And although Flett’s solo on Blinded By The Light is most memorable, this album is more mainstream alternative modern rock than classic rock with the guitar hero approach, but plenty of cool hooks and fitting solos.  This is comprised of upbeat rockers here with the title track standing out, as well as “The Only Thing”, “Walking With The Angels”, “Kings” and “Drive”. Singer / producer Tony Manna deserves a good bit of credit here, as this album has a fairly sound and feel, sounding more like a young energetic band here than a 70s rocker attempting a lame comeback.
*Manfred Mann guests on the track Flying Blind, and former MMEB member John Lingwood takes care of the drums throughout this album.

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Joe Bouchard – New Solid Black
Originally a 6 track EP, Joe added a couple of tunes making this closer to a full album. Both ‘bonus’ tracks being written with Helen Wheels [RIP] – “Light Years Of Love”, a fine ballad that originally appeared on BOC’s The Revolution By Night [which is why I didnt remember it much], and there’s the upbeat “O Jim” – which had a brief life with BOC in ’79, but never made it to album. These sit well along NSB’s other gems like the upbeat “Forget About Love”, “Love Takes Heart”, and “Roller Girls”.

Eddie St.James Interview, 2014

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American guitarist and songwriter Eddie St.James has been based in Germany for years. Over the years he’s established himself there with various styles, bands, and releases. His most recent release is titled “Streets Cry Freedom”, and it is a full album of guitar driven hard-rock from this former LA based rocker.

You can check out my review elsewhere at Universal Wheels, but here Eddie talks in depth about his new album, as well as projects he’s worked on over the past few years [including an attempt at a project with former Joshua / Uriah Heep singer Stephen Fontaine], and a look back at his first release when he was still in LA under ‘The Eddie St.James Project’.

For more info, check out :

*This interview was conducted last year, but I was unable to post it for some time [it was a long year!]. Apologies to Eddie. Enjoy the read [it’s a long one].

Streets Cry Freedom kinda marks your return to hard-rock, ala Out Of Nowhere, so I wanted to go back and

ask what you’d recall of that album [mini-album]? The label, the recording, and how it was received?  [And where can people find it these days aside from eBay — can you make it a download at your site?]

ESJ – What’s funny (in a sad way) about that album (EP) „Out of Nowhere“, is that I think it’s my worst solo work I’ve   

       ever done. What I remember about that CD is having to make a lot of compromises and having to record all 

       the tracks + overdubs in max. 2 days. There were some people involved that I really did not want to work 

       with anymore, but just so I could have something to put out, I had to control myself and just push on. It came to  

       a head and almost lead to a physical fight in the studio. Subsequently after the recording I got fired from  

       my own band and I was the one with the record deal, contacts, backing-etc. I also made 2 bad decisions, that 

       were my fault, I experimented by not using a click track at all (I regret that for the drummers sake) and I had far 

       better songs that I should have recorded. Those songs that are on that EP were originally „North star” songs 

       that I had written for 2 guitars and was a lot heavier. I think the keyboards just didn’t fit in these songs, but 

       fit much better in the newer songs that I had written for this type of instrumentation. The good memories are    

       that we were in a top notch studio (Red Zone, North Hollywood- not around anymore) and „Slaughter” was 

       recording his 1st  album in the studio behind where I was recording and we were sharing the same tech-crew. 

       We had a couple of really good parties over there and I made it into Billboard magazine-Aug.1989. With the 

       label (capitol) they were supportive at first, I got to go there and wonder around and watch them by the 

       mastering-etc. Distribution was of course through the major US stores, Tower Records-etc. I even shot 1 

       Video for this thing that I decided not to release. They had asked Joe Walsh to make a guest appearance, but 

       I told them, I only wanted cute girls in the video, that was actually my 3rd and biggest mistake. I was involved         

       in the editing and we had it finished, then one of the editing chief’s girlfriend didn’t like that we had heavily 

       featured this particular supermodel babe. So, she told this guy to go back and re-edit the Video, take the girl 

       out, change everything around and put everything in slow motion. When I found out about this, I wanted to kill  

       the guy for completely ruining all the hard work and money that went into that Video. They wanted to start  

       booking gigs for the group, but I had to tell them I didn’t have a band anymore and needed to put it back 

       together again, from there it all went very quickly down hill- they lost interest and I went into a slump at this 

       point. I don’t have any plans to do anything with the „Out of nowhere“ EP, except maybe to make it available 

       as a download CD on iTunes at some point in the near feature. I’m so busy with all the good things that I have 

       going on now. I guess to sum it all up, it was a bitter sweet experience and I at least learned from my own 

       mistakes.  Wow, that was a long answer, but you also had a 5 part question.

You started a follow-up to that album, but it was never finished!? what happened with that?

Bringing us more up to date…

ESJ – Yes, it was another lesson in frustration- I got along great with the guys I had in the band and it sounded

       even better, So far so good. That was about 1991, as usual- I was the guy who did all the song writing and 

       had all the contacts and my then girlfriend introduced me to the producer for Loren Black (the former 

       bassist for Great White, unfortunately Loren recently passed away in Sep. 2013-r.i.p) and he and I hit it off, 

       he liked my material and the vibe and took me on as a spec. deal. I got my band in the Studio to start 

       recording the follow up CD to O.O.N., (I don’t even think I had a name for the CD) I was just happy to be back 

       on track again. We recorded the songs and the producer only gave me one song (Demo) for me to listen 

       back to, he didn’t trust me and didn’t want me to take off and release it and cut him out of any deal that I 

       might end-up getting. We were gigging all over and it was going good-we were opening for Lynch Mob-etc. 

       and through the Out of Nowhere CD, 

       I had gotten some good interest and support from a couple of Local Radio-DJs, they had contacted me and 

       told me they wanted to set up a showcase for me with Island records and with Polydor. In the meantime, 

       these guys I had, said they wanted to come over and talk? They then told me they wanted to quit the band 

       so that they could go join up with an old heroin junkie friend of their’s and “jam“ in his mothers garage. At 

       first I thought it was a joke, but they were serious. I knew this guy they were talking about and I told them 

       here’s what going to happen: your all going to end up throwing away what we got going on now so that you 

       can go and waste your time and jackoff with this guy in his mother’s garage- then go. I went to the 

       Showcase with a bassist friend of mine and we only had a couple of days to put some songs together that I 

       could sing, as I had written everything as a guitar player for someone else to sing. So, I did the showcase as 

       a duo with my electric guitar because I didn’t even have an acoustic guitar at that point. I did some blues 

       type of originals, I was nervous and embarrassed- I knew that this was not the material or group that they 

       were expecting to hear, the 2 A&R guys got up after half way through the first song and left, it was the first 

       time I ever sang as a front man and I was completely unprepared. I never forgave those guys for doing what 

       they did and never will. They’ve tried to contact me a few times, but I don’t have any interest in talking to  

       them. I already said everything that I had to say to them when they left and to no surprise of mine, it all 

       came to fruition. They all work at drywall or some factory and I’m working on a blues rock CD Project with 

       one of George Harrison’s drummers and a bassist from Crosby Stills and Nash (more on that later). I ended 

       up reforming the band and was able to recruit none other than Marc Droubay from Survivor, an incredible 

       drummer. We needed a singer so Marc suggested a guy by the name of Stef Fontaine (ex-Uriah Heep). We

       drove over to Stef’s house and told him you are now in our band.

In 2006 you were involved with a reformed ‘London’. What happened with this project and is there any plans 

to work with the band again?

ESJ – Yes, I’ve known Nadir for a long time, we go way back to the old Pasadena days 1984. One day in 2006, I 

       was wondering what had happened to him, so I looked him up and found him. I asked him about London, if 

       he had any plans for doing any sort of regrouping and he said there were no plans at that time. So, I asked 

       him if we could maybe do something together and put D’priest/London back together with a new line up. At 

       that time he mentioned something about the original members were not interested or were busy with other 

       things. We started writing songs together and we ended up with a handful of tunes and we went back and 

       forth for almost two years exchanging ideas through the net. I started to realize that it wasn’t going to be so 

       easy with him over there in the US and me over here in Germany. We even had gotten some press and 

       people were starting to talk about it, but after about this time period I had noticed that the original members 

       did end up coming back into the picture. So, I told Nadir that he should do what he feels is best for him as 

       far as the band goes. I wished him good luck and I say hello to him every once in awhile, they’re out and 

       playing a lot of shows, they look and sound good. I don’t know if they have any record contract or deal, I hear 

       that there’s supposed to be a new Album coming out soon from them. I would still like to work with Nadir, in 

       one form or another -maybe as a guest singer on a track or two for a project CD type of thing, were I would 

       have a couple of different singers. As far the Band goes, they already have 2 guitar players, I don’t think they 

       need a 3rd one.

A few years ago there was talk of you working again with Stephen Fontaine. Did anything become of this? 

 And what are your current status / relationship with Stef? [I see a number of new clips of him on YouTube doing         

covers with an acoustic guitar player]

ESJ – You know I love Stef, he’s a very interesting guy and a lot fun to hang out with. it took me 2 years to try to 

       talk him into coming over to Germany, so that we could gig and record together and make some $$$. I let 

       the word out and a lot of promoters were interested in booking the band, live, TV, radio-etc. I told him we 

       can work as a duo and as a band, but we’ll be working in any case and making money. He finally consented 

       and then changed his mind again, I even had some other well known musicians calling me up on his behalf 

       and asking me if I was going to stiff him in some way. I thought wow; I don’t know what to say to that, even if 

       I was insane and planning to screw him over, would I tell him or them that I was planning on doing it, and 

       what would I gain by doing it? The very last thing that Stef said to me: „why should I go over to Germany just 

       to play in bars?“ I didn’t bother to answer him, because it sounded like he was now the singer for Journey 

       and playing in major arenas making good money. So, instead he’s in California doing acoustic duo gigs in 

       some guys living room and open mic nights or jams at the local beer bar and I know for sure without a doubt

       he’s not earning any money in California doing these gigs, he probably doesn’t even get a discount on his 

       drinks. My relationship with Stef is, as far as the music goes, finished. I don’t have any desire to beg 

       anybody, it’s a shame, but that’s the way it is and it’s his decision. I have alot of great well known musicians 

       friends that are eager to work and are 100% dependable and easy to get along with, so I have to go with 

       what works.

 You had also recorded [or intended to] a few Uriah Heep songs. what was this project for and will it be 

 released [details] ?

 OK… first Congrats on Streets Cry Freedom! What got you back to this point to record a hard rock / metal  

 album? [I notice a couple of tracks were written well before this album would’ve been conceived]

ESJ – Yes, the Uriah Heep songs I was planning on doing were with Stef, I prepared an entire album consisting of 

       some of the old Eddie St.James songs (from the 2nd follow up CD to Out of Nowhere) plus a bunch of new 

       original titles along with 3 Heep songs (total 14 songs) for us to release as Fontaine/St.James. The CD 

       is/was entitled „Heavy like a Chevy“  sort of a tip of the hat to „Very eavy and Very umble“ The cover looks 

       great. I have the CD nearly finished, I stopped working on it after the last „conversation” with Stef. This is 

       now what I’m thinking about turning into a multiple singer project CD, unfortunately without the Heep songs, 

       because the connection is now „gone“.  Or, maybe you could hook me up with Goalby or Kerslake.


      And thank you very much for the encouragement, I know how honest of a music critic you are, I’ve read 

      some of the other reviews and I know that you don’t hold back.


      I thought it was time to go back and do what I originally started out doing which was playing loud, hard rock

      music the way that it was meant to be, with a real guitar through a high gain tube amp and songs that say 

      something more than just about falling in or out of love. Love is a good thing, but there are other important  

      and interesting topics in life too. The other reason is that you don’t hear this type of music anywhere 

      anymore and I started to miss it (I don’t think I’m the only one), so I wrote/write this stuff for myself. Yes the 2 

      oldest songs on the CD are: (1)Johnny got his gun and (2) Children of the (new) revolution, they were both 

      actually written around 2002. The rest of the songs are fairly new compared to the other 2.

There’s a lot of great riffs / intros solos, etc… Curious if you had stashed up quite a bit of stuff over the years 

 [ideas]? and how the songs came together?

ESJ – Thank you again for the compliment, I’m lucky in that I have musical ideas running through my head day 

       and night and every time I pick up the guitar to practice, I end up with a riff or 2 and sometimes almost whole 

       songs that just jump out at me or catches my ear. Yes I have a large backlog of material plus I get new 

       ideas for riffs and songs all the time or sometimes I’ll hear something that inspires me to create. There is a 

       science (or method) to writing songs, but I’ve found it easiest to sit down with either a guitar, bass or piano 

       and to work out what I’m hearing in my head. Sometimes it just a simple riff, rhythm or a chord progression 

       or a lyric line. The best thing is to be able to hear the complete section, song or idea in your head, then 

       translate that to your instrument, vocals-etc. 

The songs on this album touch on a lot of social and political issues.  What sort of inspires you lyrically, 

Where do topics come from, and is this more challenging or interesting to you than writing relationship type        


ESJ –  Life is a very good inspiration for lyrics, your own experiences or other people’s experiences and conditions- 

       other than „love-relationships“. Many various topics come from all over, the news, TV, the net-etc., yes this 

       is a bit more challenging to write about war, hunger, poverty, self-doubt, child slavery, the climate problem, 

       injustice in the world, political and social tyranny-etc., and have people rock out to it. For me it’s more 

       interesting to write about the topics that are not so overly prevalent and over used such as your typical 

       falling in love or break up song. There are a lot of great “relationship songs“, especially the classic stuff, but 

       The problem is, that’s just about the only topic that any commercially successful artist sings about, 

       over and over again. I’ve got some relationship songs, but I try to stay away from this topic because it’s 

       basically the only subject matter that’s on the Radio nowadays.

You chose “Rat Race” to release first

. What can you tell me about this one?

ESJ – This is very simple it was the first song that we had finished mixing, so I jumped on it to do the first promo-

       video. I wanted to do Streets cry freedom“ as a video first, but I wanted to have John „JR“ Robinson in the 

       video, since he drummed the track. The logistics for this would be considerable; I’d have to schedule him, 

       the video studio, the other musicians, then to fly to California-etc.  Rat race is a simple one man, green-

       screen editing job, something that I could do here without too much hassle.

“Rock n Roll Ain’t Dead” is a great anthem. Love the line “rock ain’t dead it just smells a little funny”…. What 

can you tell me about how this track came about, and what’s your take on the current state of rock n roll? 🙂 

ESJ – This is also an easy one, the title was inspired by a Frank Zappa comment: “Jazz ain’t dead it just smells a 

       little funny“ so I just replaced „Jazz” with „Rock” and I had a song. The current state of rock is exactly the 

       way the title says, it’s not completely dead but it does smell a little bit funny. There are a lot of people who 

       still are into this type of music because it’s real and „un-fake” and unpretentious and because it smells like 

       blood, sweat and tears which is something that every human being can relate to.

“Why Should I Believe” is very nice melodic tune, and obviously asks a number of questions. what sparked 

this song [musically & lyrically]?

ESJ – This song was actually inspired by another song from an L.A. band called “Shark Island“(Epic), they had a 

         song off their album „Law of the order“ called „Why should I believe“. It was a song about self doubt and 

         the struggle to find one’s way in life, Richards voice and the lyrics sounded raw and desperate in a moving 

         way- you couldn’t help but believe him, because we’ve all felt this way from time to time. I thought okay, I 

         won’t only question my own belief’s but also the belief’s of others who demand that I should believe as they 

         do and to blindly accept someone else’s beliefs. Spencer Sercombe was the guitarist of the band and he 

         lives over here in Germany, up in Hannover. We know each other so I thought it would be cool to have him 

         on the track, since he inspired me in the first place.

 “St James / James Bond”  – I’m a big James Bond fan! Where did this instrumental idea come from? AND 

Who’s your favorite Bond [actor] and movie[s]? 🙂

ESJ – I’m also a big J.B. fan and I’ve been doing this Theme song live since 2004, I’ve always messed around 

         with this riff since I was a kid just starting out on guitar. It’s just such fun piece to play and it sort of fit the          

         concept idea of „Streets cry freedom“, except that I see the politicians as the real life super criminals and 

         it would take a man like bond to take care of the problem. Of course that’s just fantasy, what it’s really 

         going take is that the everyday normal citizens wake up to peacefully insist on their rights. The other thing 

         is, I don’t think that anybody’s done a hard rock version of this. There’s a jazz, techno and a death metal 

         version but I haven’t heard of any officially released hard rock version of this.


         favorite Bond actor; Pierce Brosnan 

         Bond movie(s): Where he steals the tank in Russia and chases down the guys that kidnapped the 

                                     Russian computer girl, I think that was golden eye. Daniel Craig takes second place.

“Critical Mass” is another instrumental and you really let loose on this one. How much of this is worked      

out / rehearsed extensively or is there a lot of in-studio improvisation and jamming?

ESJ – I did this one backwards, by that I mean I had the drum and bass parts finished first, then I just improvised 

         over the top of it with the guitar. So, the guitar parts were the last thing that I came up with, they sort of fell 

         into place by themselves. I had the basic structure in my head and just laid it down the way I heard it in my 

         mind. I basically did a couple of takes in certain sections until I got what I wanted, but most of the song 

         came together pretty easily.

“Rainbows & Dragons” has it’s own subject matter, but also doubles as a tribute to Ronnie James Dio     

 [correct?]. Can you tell me what inspired this song, it’s subject, and the idea to tribute it to RJD? 

ESJ – That is correct it fits into the concept of the CD, but it doesn’t fit style wise with the rest of the material and 

         it’s not suppose to because it doubles as a tribute to Ronnie and I wanted it to sound similar to the type of 

         material that he was doing. I’m only sorry that I didn’t make it sound angrier and heavier than it is. The 

         inspiration was modern day slavery and in particular child slavery and that Ronnie had also done the 

         “We’re stars benefit”, which starts off with the line “who will cry for the children, I will”. Now that he’s gone, 

         I was wondering now who will cry for the children? The title “Rainbows and Dragons” came to me 

         automatically and it fit the whole Dio vibe, with the heavy riff and the powerful angry type of singing.

         His type of voice was the one to best convey the heavy raw feeling for this type of subject matter. Not 

         saying that I captured his sound, but that it was the inspiration for the vocals and the song. 

And speaking of RJD, did you have any dealing with him over the years – musically or socially? and what’s 

your favorite work of his? [Rainbow, Sabbath or Dio albums]

ESJ – Yes, I had a lot of contact with his band members, Craig Goldie and Tracy G. I also met him when they  

         came over to Germany to play, Tracy would always put me on the guest list, give me backstage passes-

         etc. I was over at Graig’s house a couple of times; we even recorded a jam session together in his home 

         studio. I’ve known Tracy G. since high school and we always use to hang out together and play guitar, I just 

         talked to him not too long ago. Both great guitar players and songwriters. My favorite Dio work is  

         everything he did, although I tend to favor his solo work just a bit more.

There are a lot of great tracks here, my own faves also include – Shotgun Messiah, Johnny Got A Gun, 

Talkin Plenty…. can you give me any notes on any of those tracks and anything you are particularly happy 


ESJ – Thank you again for the compliment, „Shotgun Messiah“ is simply an anti war theme as is „Johnny Got His 

          Gun“ except that Shotgun Messiah is about people who won’t let a government or public opinion morally 

          blackmail them into going out to kill innocent people because it’s your “patriotic duty“-etc.  “Johnny Got 

          His Gun“ is about the poor bastard that ended up going, although the text sounds like it’s about a street 

          thug, it doesn’t matter where you do the killing, the point is that it doesn’t take a brave man to pull a 

          trigger, it only takes a desperate one. Gandhi said: „ there are many causes I would die for, there is

          not a single cause that I would kill for“. “Talkin Plenty…“ applies to any and all politicians. 

          I’m very happy with the guitar solo in “Shotgun Messiah”, I was very happy with the vocal work in „Johnny 

          Got His Gun” and I’m happy with the overall sound of „Talkin Plenty…”

 What’s been the plan for promoting this album? are you playing live [with these songs]?

ESJ – Well, the promotion is very simple, print, radio, the net and the video will be on TV over here soon.

         so, that’s not to bad for a guy that is basically a one man operation, I’m the world’s first “one man metal 

         band“.  I haven’t done this CD live yet, that is coming up, I’ve been working with the idea of really going 

         out as one man and playing to my own backing tracks, of course the guitar and the vocals would be live. I 

        wanted to do something more than just run through the songs live, I’m thinking about how I could make this 

         a concept show to make up for the lack of a band. I was also thinking of just doing albums and videos and 

         not playing live at all. At this point I wanted to concentrate more on producing very good original promo 

         material and not doing it like I’ve always done it, backwards, first putting a band together and having no 

         product to promote.  By the time you do put promo together, the bands already fallen apart 😦 In closing I 

         just want to thank the following people for all their effort and support; Michael Leukel (Co-Production/ 

         Keys), Bernie Pershey (Drums), John „JR“ Robinson (Drums), Spencer Sercombe (guitar on why should I 

         believe) , Hagen Grohe (Bass on why should I believe) and Sven O. Schiebel Foto/Video.

Random Commentaries on New Releases [part one]

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So, while life was happening last year I got behind in posting things – mainly interviews I’ve got and reviews. And in all honesty, I’ve grown to dislike writing reviews … well at least lengthy worded ones [unless the occasion or reasoning strikes me]. For various reasons I aint crazy about rambling on in detail about an album, I like to get familiar with it, which means i need a few listens and often things get put on the back-burner when I pick up on something i really like and play endlessly for weeks! Case in point – the new Europe album! Thoroughly enjoying it, and it has been ‘stuck’ in the car player for close to a week now!   Also, things that are a bit more complex or very different sometimes take time getting in to [enjoyed a few listens to the latest Steve Hunter release, but more on that next time], and then there’s stuff I really hope to like but don’t – which makes it hard to say a lot. I am not a musician either, just a fan so I often wonder if and who is ‘qualified’ to give a proper viewpoint on someone else’s work; all I can tell is a bit of detail, a few comparisons [if any], and whether I like it or not…plus a few snide comments on occasion! Over the years I’ve also treaded the line on trying not to be outright nasty; the old saying “if you have nothing nice to say…” usually works when going over newer stuff. There’s been that occasion where I just don’t like something or ‘get it’ or it’s simply not my bag, and then I have contact with the artist. Years ago I received a copy of Wasp’s then latest album “Kill F**k Die” to review, and well – I hated it! I am a big fan of Blackie Lawless’ band, but I was pretty put off upon hearing it – BUT being a fan, I also didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to interview him! I was excited to get to talk to the guy, but in a roundabout way avoided a lot of talk or praise on the album at the time.
Anyway, this blog of commentaries on recent releases is a start, I’ve got lots more to catch up on. This covers some of the hard rockin’ stuff, while my next chapter will likely cover a few different things…

Current favorites are the Sweet & Lynch “Only To Rise” and Europe‘s new “War Of Kings” albums…. I own nothing of Michael Sweet [Stryper] prior to this and I prefer Lynch’s ‘Mob’ releases as opposed to his time-waisting with Don Dokken. This is a highly energetic hard rock album, which also features Brian Tichy [ex Whitesnake] on drums. Sweet’s vocals are almost always in that high range [and sometimes that makes it difficult to clarify the words], but the combination sounds great with a pretty solid rocking album. Tracks like The Wish, Time Will Tell, Recover and the 80s LA rock of the title track pack a good punch here. Plenty of great songs, notably the anthem Love Stays. Token ballad – Me Without You ain’t bad, tho I am glad there’s only one of them!  …..Europe – Hard to believe this is the same band that recorded all those 80s hair metal hits – especially That song! Admittedly, some of it was neat to hear in the movie “Hot Rod”, but War Of Kings is a whole different class of hard rock / metal. It’s blues based, gone are the cheesy anthems, sing-alongs, and synths, add in John Norum’s guitar, Hammond organ and a heavier & dark sounding production and a list of songs that are a fantastic listen beginning to end! The title track, Days Of Rock n Roll, Hole In My Pocket, Nothin To Ya (which reminds me very much Sabbath’s “I”), Rainbow Bridge – all cool rockers, but ya gotta love the bluesy slower numbers like Praise You and the ballad Angels (With Broken Wings). These guys are more in tune with the likes of Zeppelin, UFO and early 80s Whitesnake than with the numerous 80s hair metal bands that aren’t putting out albums remotely as good as this >  …………..One of the current ‘trends’ of older is to re-hash the past via remaking their best known album in studio or live and putting it out as something that’s currently relevant [i can’t think of too many bands that haven’t done this yet]. Some bands pull it off well, others merely make a mockery of the band’s legacy. Having said that – Foreigner‘s “Best Of 4 & More” ….well sorta not sure on the point of this one. I get that the band currently parading around as Foreigner sounds good live and Kelly Hansen is a great singer [love the albums he did with Hurricane and Heaven & Earth], but really – who are these guys?? Aside from Mick Jones [who’s there on a part-time basis, i believe?] – no one here played on the band’s classic albums [the first 3 for me, though fans will include ‘4’ as well]. 4 being their commercial peak with a string of hits. so more than half of that album is featured here. sounds good, well-played, but….. >   ….David Coverdale on the other hand, after attempts to lure Ritchie Blackmore into a project, which may have involved the late Jon Lord [and ceased being possible with Lord’s passing] revisits his 3 albums with Deep Purple from ’73-’75, and re-records tracks from them, giving them enough change via a lack of a Hammond organ player throughout [keyboards are minimal, where necessary, this is mainly a 2 guitar album]. Admittedly, I was pretty horrified upon first hearing the first single – Stormbringer, but the rest of this is pretty decent. Whitesnake is really only Coverdale and whomever he hires, so unfortunately it lacks a definitive ‘Snake sound [no Moody, Marsden, Paice, Sykes,etc…], but credit to Coverdale for letting the players play the songs as they have instead of attempting a paint-by-numbers remake; so that gives this a bit of a fresh approach and up to date sound. A nice list of songs from 3 of my favorite Purple albums. >  …….. So Doug Aldrich went on to record as part of the Revolution Saints [self titled debut – what a dumb band name! Are these guys really revolutionary?], along with Jack Blades of Night Ranger and Dean Castronovo of Journey. This is kinda like a beefed up Journey album, with the drummer handling most of the vocals [Blades takes on a bit as well] and doing so in a very Steve Perry style and sound.  First couple of tracks are cool energetic rockers, Back On My Trail is a great lead off, but things start to slip by the 3rd song with a mid tempoed ballad sung by Arnel Pineda [the guy in Journey] – a good song, but breaks up the pace, and better placed on a Journey album. After another rocker we get Neal Schon questing and slowing things down again! Beyond that the songs are good, but there’s that damn Journey production feel and 3 [!] more ballads.  Really though a better Journey album than Journey’s done in years! > ….   Mr Big‘s latest “The Stories We Could Tell” – love the heavy feel of this album, great lead off track in Gotta Love The Ride, as well as rockers I Forgot To Breathe, The Monster In Me, and the title song, but something about these guys’ albums I just find I can easily skip through some of the ‘groove’ stuff and more so – easily the 3 ballads here; but probably the more solid and rockier Mr Big album I’ve heard [and yes, I’ve skipped a few] > om/watch?v=oTrAhP4tVxA  ……….”A Conspiracy of Stars” is perhaps the best UFO album in years! Love the album art, outstanding. songs here are a bit more upbeat, aggressive, and memorable than the band’s previous album [couldn’t get in to it], with plenty of blues based rock, and a singer [Phil Mogg] who sounds like he’s never aged! – Killing Kind, Devils In The Detail, Run Boy Run, One And Only, King Of The Hill   —  classic UFO hard rock! Looks great on 2-LP blue vinyl  >  ….. Uriah Heep‘s “Live At Koko” is the band’s latest live release, recorded prior to but released after their latest studio album “Outsider”. Modern day Heep has become an outstanding straight ahead hard rock band, bordering on metal over the past few studio albums [since Russell Gilbrook took over on drums], yet they still retain their own sound with the guitar and Hammond organ, melodies, and harmonies…  This live set was recorded last year, and the great thing is, besides the band just sounding in top form – is the change-up in the set list, which manages to include something from each studio album since ’95’s “Sea Of Light”, alongside the usual handful of old fan favorites, a couple of old surprises, And 2 songs from “Outsider”. I love these releases, as long as they keep introducing strong new material and a few classics rarely played –

til next time…..

KJJ, April 2015

WONDERWORLD “Break The Chains” – Interview

Wonderworld5wonderworld cd cover (960x960)

 Wonderworld is the new band that features  singer/bass player Roberto Tiranti from Italy, guitarist Ken Ingwerson and drummer Tom Fossheim, both from Norway. All 3 of whom double as Ken Hensley’s [ex Uriah Heep] “Live Fire” band.

 The band’s debut was released in October of last year and met with great reviews in the music press and amongst new found fans, and easily sits at the top of my favorite releases for 2014. This interview has been a long time coming J , thanks to Ken for getting it done.

 You can read and see more of Wonderworld at their site :  And look them up on Facebook!


First off – one would easily assume the band-name came from the Uriah Heep album from 74. How deliberate was that and what inspired your own song of the same name?

Yes, we picked the band name off the Heep album. We met because of Ken Hensley, he is the man that made us all play together, so it was partly a tribute to Ken and to a great band and a great era. On top of that we felt it was a suitable band name 🙂

I think the word itself just inspired us to write about the place called Wonderworld, that we sort of had an idea about as soon as the project developed and the artwork was in place etc.

How long has the idea of you 3 recording your own album without Ken Hensley been floating around and how fast did the ideas and songs come together?

Actually the three of us met the first time while we were recording “Trouble” for Ken Hensley in Spain, in March 2013. We immediately felt a unique energy and connection, so already the first day I told Tom that I had this idea about a powertrio, and that Rob would be perfect for it. So we asked Rob the next day, and he was in. Then we more or less started writing as soon as we were done with Trouble, and one year later the album was recorded.


Was it an easy decision [and why] not to have any ‘guests’ on this album? 

Yes, we really wanted this album to be pure trio. We played with the idea of having Ken playing some organ on it, and there were other keyboard players that wanted to contribute, but we quickly left that idea, and finished it as a trio.

Now Ken H.  didn’t play or write on the album, but I’m curious how much of an influence he may have had as far as how you guys approached things in writing and in studio [the harmonies work well on various tracks] ?

Well, Ken was definitively an inspiration as the idea behind the album was to go back to the roots and keep it fairly simple. The whole idea about the sound started when the three of us were jamming in the studio. THAT’S the vibe we wanted.


Can you give me an atendote on the tracks –

Wonderworld [was this the first track written?]

No, it wasn’t the first. The first was Break The Chains, I believe.

The inspiration behind it was Tom’s solid, heavy drumming, so I wanted to have a heavy vibe to it. And Roberto came up with the idea of singing about this ‘wonderworld’ in a talking/singing kinda way.


Break The Chains

The first track we wrote. I think I had AC/DC in my mind playing around with it, but the intro riff is very classic 70’s trio.


Surrender [my fave track here. perhaps the most commercial feeling].

The last song we wrote for the album. It was actually a struggle, and we bounced ideas back and forth for a while, before we landed on the final idea. I remember Roberto wanted to put in a pre-chorus, but I insisted on keeping it simple, and we were all happy with the result.


Voices [an interesting choice for a cover. why this one as? did you feel it was necessary to include a cover or did this song just come up?]

Well, we wanted to do a cover. Actually we did two….the other one might show up in the future)

We discussed various songs and ended up with Voices because we feel it’s a really good song, we found our own vibe to it and Roberto sings it really well. We also wanted a song that was slightly off-center compared to what we’d normally do.


Every Now And Then

Also one of the first songs we finished.

Very happy with the breakdown in the middle and also an epic guitar solo.


No One Knows [epic ballad, lots of feeling in this track]

Thanks! Yes, Roberto is a great ballad singer, so we had to do a ballad. On the other hand, we didn’t want it to be a lighter swinging power ballad, so we kept it to a minimum production-wise. Here, I also just used the same guitar and amp as the entire album, just rolling off the volume and cleaning it up slightly – instead of acoustic guitars, chorus guitar and keyboards 😛


The Sound Of The World [another great song, love the changes from the light verses to the heavy chorus. Great vocal!]

Yeah, probably the most “modern sounding” song on the album, with it’s 6/4 signature, and leslie guitars.

We even managed to throw in a small drum solo there. haha.


A New Life [love the lighter chorus, has a very 70s feel]

Again Tom’s heavy drumming and John Bonhan inspiration was kickstarting this one. Kinda has a Led Zeppelin vibe to it, with an odd solution to the chorus where we chose to take it down and make it more hippy’ish.


Hero Without Stains [a bit of funk feel, reminds me of Glen Hughes solo stuff]

Slightly funky song with a classic powertrio riff. Got some hints of Extreme in it. Also a cool riff in the guitar solo that we tend to extend forever live 😀

I also dig the ending where we usually keep jamming live.


Kissing The Sky [a very fitting end track]

Thanks. I had this melody and chords that made me think of The Eagles for some reason, that I felt would give the album a nice ending, without going for a typical ballad. A friend of mine wrote the lyrics to the melody, because Roberto was busy finishing the words for the rest of the album, and we landed on these Hendrix type lyrics. It’s actually more or less a duet between Rob and me, as we sing most of it in harmony and it starts with my vocals.

Was there many leftover ideas or songs that didn’t get finished that may give you guys a head start on a follow up album?

Actually we finished all the ideas, and only recorded a cover as a leftover.


Where were the 2 videos shot, and is there plans for any further ones?

Break The Chains was filmed during the recording of the album. I think we spent like 2 hours recording and I went back home and edited it myself. Efficient shit 😀

I Surrender was recorded in Genova, pretty close to Rob’s house + some scenes from Oslo actually.

Sort of in the middle of doing a video for No One Knows these days. Need some more footage…hehe.


How was the band’s live debut? did entire album get performed? and anything else? Is there many shows upcoming?

The first 3 shows we did were great. There’s always a slightly slow start, doing new material live, but already on the second gig we felt quite confident. We played pretty much all songs, except Kissing The Sky, mainly because we had enough lyrics to learn already, and Rob and I need to be super tight on the words for that one. We also did some fun cover tunes – especially Tom Sawyer by Rush, which is being well received 🙂


Do you guys foresee Wonderworld ever getting to North America? 

You never know. As a matter of fact, a friend of ours in the industry just went to Miami today, and he’s gonna work on trying to get us a couple of gigs, so we’ll see what he comes up with 🙂


How did you come across the cover art? Was it was a piece already done that you used? [Would look great on some merch and vinyl]


Yes, I really like this artist called George Grie, and I was looking at his work one day, and just saw this beautiful drawing that would be perfect for us. So I showed it to the other guys, and we all just went for it.

We are working a limited edition of the vinyl right now actually, so it should be ready in May 🙂


Feedback has been good on the album!? Lots of great comments, reviews out there. It’s got such a cool classic hard rock feel; varied – rock, a bit of funk, lighter moments….

Yes, I haven’t seen one bad review. Everybody has been very nice and positive. So that obviously makes us all happy and confident that we’re onto something good here.


Going back a bit…..what are some of your fave moments from the album[s] you’ve done with Ken H. ?

I’ve done 2 studio albums with Ken now, and I really liked the process of them both. “Faster” was done in Riga and we had a great time, and “Trouble” was done in Alicante, Spain. I’d probably say that “Trouble” is my favorite moment, because that’s where we met and started this adventure.


The guitar solo [and Hammond interplay] on The Curse is such a cool piece. How did that develop between you and Ken H.?


I came up with the idea of a breakdown, because we lacked a part in the song. So I threw a few chords at Ken, he started playing it, and together we developed the melody and let it grow.


Trouble was a more direct hard-rock album, and more like a band album, and one that developed in the studio while things were on a roll. How much were you guys around for all of the recordings, mixing, putting things together?


We were there most of the recordings. The mixing process was done entirely by Dani and Ken, so we didn’t have any input on that.

But yeah, we developed all the riffs, tempos, keys etc live in the studio.


What are your favorite from the 2 albums with Ken H to perform live, as well as the Heep material?

Hm….I’d say The Curse and “I Don’t Know”. That’s a heavy one, and Rob sings it great.

As for Heep material July Morning is always a winner.


Prior to working with Ken H. curious how familiar you guys were with his albums with Uriah Heep? any favorite albums? songs? singers? bass players….?

Ken: I was very familiar with it because my ten year older brother was a huge fan. So even though I wasn’t more than a small kid, I heard all the albums all the time. My favorites are Look At Yourself and High And Mighty actually. I stopped listening to Heep after Byron left, so to me he’s the only singer next to Ken. My favorite song is probably Weep In Silence.

Tom: To be honest I was not familiar with Ken’s work with Heep at all. I’ve heard Easy Living before but that was it. After I started to play with Ken in 2007 I discovered a lot of great music. My favorite songs is Devil’s Daughter and Sunrise. Bass-player has to be John Wetton because of his time in King Crimson and later UK…

Rob: Very easy for me to choose! Best album: Sweet Freedom. Best songs: Sweet Freedom and Stealin’ and Gary Thain for me is the perfect bass player, he was light years ahead the musicians of that period.


Can each of you guys give me a few music idols or influences [on your respective instruments, singers]? as well as a list of favorite albums?

Ken: For me it has always been a weird mix of English and American bands. So it was Thin Lizzy, Gary Moore on one side, then Van Halen, Journey. You throw in some Australian AC/DC, German Scorpions and Norwegian TNT in there, and you have a nice cocktail 🙂

Tom: Zeppelin, Purple, Kiss, Yes, Journey, Ghost, Steven Wilson, hard rock/metal, progressive music in general, jazzrock/fusion.

Influences: John Bonham, Peter Criss, Nicko McBrain, Ian Paice, Steve Gadd, Dave Weckl, Terry Bozzio, Alan White and Bill Bruford of Yes, Marco Minnemann, Dennis Chambers, Thomas Lang among a lot of others.

Impossible to give a list of all time favorite albums because there are too many…

Rob: My list it could be too long 🙂 Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heep, Queen, Mr.Big, Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Gino Vannelli etc. etc. Basically bass players and singers in the bands I mentioned gave me a lot of inspiration in my life.


What’s next for you guys — live shows? New album?  

Yes, we just finished a couple of shows in Italy, and we have gigs coming up in Norway in April, more Italian gigs in May, and some festivals during summer. Even the fall is beginning to shape up. We are also in the middle of writing new songs for album number two, so maybe you’ll see another album in 2015 😉

Interview : March 2015, KJJ

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