Showing posts with label Rock Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rock Reviews. Show all posts


Rock-Blues Review: Steve Cropper-Fire It Up

Release Date: April 23, 2021

Label: Provogue



If you have any familiarity with Booker T. and the MG’s or all the music coming out of the legendary Stax label, then you know the name, Steve Cropper. All that music I have always appreciated and the craft of Cropper on the six-string leading the way. You won’t hear his name mentioned amongst the greats such as Clapton, Beck, and of course Hendrix. My thought is that he was recognized in his genre and all his contributions to countless recordings including his solo recordings. He played at a very high level and continues to do so as the new release Fire It Up will attest. He is right up there on the list with the big boys as far as I am concerned.

Fire It Up features Cropper at his level best with Nioshi Jackson (drums), Roger C. Reale (vocals), and Jon Tiven (bass, sax, keys, harmonica, background vocals, with shared production duties with Cropper). Some other names contributed that you will recognize as well are Felix Cavaliere, Anton Fig, Simon Kirke, the list is extensive. All of that fine talent coming together to lend a hand gives Fire It Up some flow and cohesiveness that adds to the spark of that amazing guitar playing on display from start to finish.

There are thirteen cuts on the album. After listening to all of them I felt as though there was nothing that seemed out of sync or so different that it stood out as the one track that would be left in the can for future consideration. This is quality rock and blues with a strong underpinning of soul that comes through the vocals nicely.

I think the versatility that Cropper offers on this release is exceptional. “Bush Hog, Pt. 1” is a snappy instrumental to kick things off. The title track is a funky bluesy burner with Reale on vocals to complete the song. As things move along you hear will so many of those sweet crisp licks from Cropper. My favorite amongst many was “Heartbreak Street” and “She’s So Fine,” which sounded like a good choice for a single release to create a buzz about the album.

Cropper is 79 years young and he still has that fire burning in his belly. He floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee (thanks for that line Muhammad Ali) on this recording. The band he pulled together to support him certainly does Fire It Up at every turn making this a classic offering that stands as one of the best releases I have heard this year.

Keith “MuzikMan” Founder
March 22, 2021


01. Bush Hog, Pt. 1    
02. Fire It Up        
03. One Good Turn        
04. I'm Not Havin' It        
05. Out of Love        
06. Far Away     
07. Say You Don't Know Me        
08. She's So Fine        
09. Two Wrongs        
10. Heartbreak Street        
11. The Go-Getter Is Gone        
12. Bush Hog, Pt. 2        
13. Bush Hog


Rock Review: The Dead Daises-Holy Ground

Release Date: January 22, 2021

Label: The Dead Daises Pty Limited


The Dead Daisies hold so much street credit both past and present since their breakout in 2012, the revolving door keeps spinning with great music throughout. The current line-up: Dough Aldrich (Whitesnake/Dio), Deen Castronovo (Journey), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple), and David Lowry (Red Phoenix) came together to offer us, Holy Ground coming from rock legends. Some prior members included: John Corabi (Motley Crue), Darryl Jones (The Rolling Stones), and John Tempesta (The Cult/Rob Zombie). As you can see, the band is a collage of rock and roll greatness.

Listening to Holy Ground, it feels like real music has found its way back to the airwaves and speakers. Having this band rise over the years means not only, that there are people that still crave the realness of music and true musicianship, but more than just machinery and auto-tuned pop or techno beats. The strength and power behind Hughes’ vocals represent just what love and dedication to a musician’s life can showcase grand results.

The album itself is a pure adrenaline rush. The intro and also title track “Holy Ground (Shake the Memory)” is an earthquake of head-banging thrill. Fittingly, “Like No Other (Bassline)” is very much focused on the bass. “Come Alive, “Bustle and Flow,” (one of the main focal tracks), and “My Fate” are all songs that maintain a battle and struggle theme or anthem throughout. The way the album is set up, “Bustle and Flow” is one of the breaks in the album where there is a bit more levity and a slight pop sound to attract a wide audience rather than them sticking to one set group of people. It sets up this back and forth between a darker or more serious tonality like “My Fate” and “Come Alive” and a pure foot-stomping, sing-along-styled “Bustle and Flow” and “Chosen and Justified.” The single “Chosen and Justified” follows as a strong continuation of the prior three tracks, yet this packs a powerful punch to keep the momentum going.

There are cracks within “Saving Grace” but, in a good manner of speaking. The cracks are where the singer proclaims that his other half is the symbol for everything that frees him of the chains that bind him to the world. Not to mention, a guitar solo finds its way to blend into the message of the song to entice the listener to more. “Unspoken” feels like it belongs inside an action movie during a battle scene. Then to follow, “30 Days in the Hole” harkens right back to that ‘80s hair-band feel. It’s the most ‘fun’ track on the whole record, as far as radio-friendly (pop-rock) is concerned. But, songs like this, “Righteous” find hints of Guns N’ Roses blasting through.

While “Far Away” ends the album on a more melancholy note, the concept of calling out to someone during the chorus is exciting on its own; enough to not have it be your typical last track lead-out song. However, taking a look after this album is complete, Holy Ground certainly has the listener feeling like they are reliving the glory days of rock n’ roll once again. Truth be told, I had never heard of The Dead Daises up until this point, and thought very much so, that they would be a Grateful Dead Tribute band. Oh boy, was I in for a much-welcomed surprise. Thankfully, after hearing The Dead Daises the first time around, I cannot wait to go back and listen to their other four records that are bound to send me or any listener on yet another time warp.

Key Tracks: “Holy Ground (Shake the Memory,” “Chosen and Justified,” “30 Days in the Hole.”

Gregg Keniston - Staff
March 12, 2021 

Track Listing:
01. Holy Ground (Shake the Memory)
02. Like No Other (Bassline)
03. Come Alive
04. Bustle and Flow
05. My Fate
06. Chosen and Justified
07. Saving Grace
08. Unspoken
09. 30 Days in the Hole
10. Righteous Days
11. Far Away


Rock Review: Tim Morse-The Archaeology Project

Release Date: October 9, 2020

Label: 2020 Tim Morse 


Typically, I see the word ‘compilation’ in music and I overlook every part of it, often because it signifies “Greatest Hits” or “Best Of.” And as a writer, I usually want more than just the hits of someone because the hidden gems are found outside of the singles. Plus, if you find a song apart from the singles, you don’t grow tired of it as quickly because it does not frequent the radio as promotional singles do. In this case, the compilation of The Archaeology Project by Tim Morse is excellent in presenting a timeline of his work.

With no definitive reason for releasing this record, Morse says,” It seemed like a good time to reflect on the last fifteen years of being a recording artist.” Reflection can be a good way to spark that new creative edge. “Guitar Etude 1” roots from his very first song so, it seems fitting that the bit piece starts off the record. 

“Apocalyptic Visions” is a three-part song that is his longest piece to date. AV is a blend where the keyboard sounds much like an intergalactic travel scene, followed by what could sound like a take from a 90’s Alternative group like Good Charlotte blending with a speed-metal song cut, and ending with a mix of peaceful chime and keyboard but also going back to the powerhouse guitar playing. “Adrift” is a self-reflective journey piece that initially was just an instrumental work for the longest while.

“Rome” contains a Shakespearean-type of imagery that plays to the advantage of the artist and genre quite well. It is the epitome of an epic tale. “The sky is burning. Nero plays on….” Is the perfect symbolism for today’s pop culture/political chaos while giving a temporary historical lesson too. “Voyager,” according to Morse, was “inspired by the Berg and his book on the Lindbergh historic flight.” It is a mainly wondrous instrumental track that takes to new heights.

“Window” winds the first half of the record down with this soothing guitar piece that was thought of as a segue for his prior album Faithscience. The short track calms the listener’s ear down and prepares them, for more to come. “Afterword” keeps with the more melancholy tone but, not for the reasons you may think. Instead of saying goodbye to a love or a relationship of sorts, it’s the foundation for new beginnings moving forward and a reflection of events gone by.

“200 Yards” is a funny ‘crush-gone-wrong’ song that Morse says is the first-time-ever collaboration between him and Bret Bingham on Mangoes. The very tongue-in-cheek, watcher song, is a fun session Morse and Bingham created to simply make music. “My Ally” talks of a friendship that has lasted through the ages. I think it’s THE song I or anyone could connect with so deeply because, as an overly open and friendly person, to begin with, I love the multitude of reasons certain people come into your lives. Friendship is so much more than just a bond, it’s an experience like none other.

“Inertia” is a funky psychedelic feeling song that as the song plays out, causes an expansion of sorts. It crescendos into a musical spacetime continuum. “The Mary Celeste” speaks of the sudden loss all of us experience at one point or another. The hurt is so grand, and sometimes it is impossible to deal with moving forward, we remain still for a while, “lost at sea.”

“The Marquis” is the sign we all read in our own minds in one form or another. We over-analyze our certain actions to which we question if it could’ve been worked out differently, or if it was the correct plan of action in the first place. But the marquis is always hovering above our mind trying to intimidate us to keep on questioning ourselves. 

Originally done by Pink Floyd, “Dogs” was a long desired song to cover for Morse and by molding the song to his artistry, he molds it into more of a singer-songwriter style than its original predecessor. In finalizing the record, “The Corners” is a cleverly-placed track to end out The Archaeology Project. It is a beautifully orchestrated piece representing the excitement to see what lies beyond our lives here on earth.

Key Tracks: “My Ally,” “Rome,” “Dogs,” and “Afterword”

Gregg Keniston - Staff
February 14, 2021

Track Listing:
01. Guitar Etude 1 Dec. 1970
02. Apocalyptic Visions
03. Adrift
04. Rome
05. Voyager
06. Window
07. Afterword
08. 200 Yards
09. My Ally
10. Inertia
11. Mary Celeste
12. The Marquis
13. Dogs
14. The Corners


Rock Review: Albert Bouchard- Re Imaginos

Release Date: November 6, 2020

Label: 2020 RockHeart Records / Deko


Get ready for an adventure of a lifetime. Frontman Albert Bouchard for the legendary rock band Blue Oyster Cult returns to the spotlight on his own to share a record of his solo ventures. Re Imaginos puts to work an element of the band combined with original soothing guitar riffs and piano melodies that provide a unique twist on the Blue Oyster Cult sound but, allow Bouchard to shine on his own. This comes as Albert and his brother Joe Bouchard, release the record through his new imprint label, RockHeart Records / Deko Entertainment. The album is Albert’s reimagining of the 1988 Blue Öyster Cult release, Imaginos, which was originally intended as Albert’s solo album.

Re Imaginos starts with the alluring and outright obvious signaling of “I Am the One You Warned Me Of.” The song’s initial lead-in gets the listener in a head-bobbing, rhythmic good mood. That is, even if the song is hinting that the person is hinting at a hidden agenda or personality that was previously unsuspected. “Del Rio Song” is the main song that harkens back to the former Blue Oyster Cult classic sound. The song mirrors the sound of the classic “Burning for You,” sending the listener into a frenzy of nostalgia and enjoyment of the cool, smoothness of the track overall.

We venture into more melodramatic territory on “In the Presence of Another World.” The song avails to the strong piano-structured intro, into a powerful but constant guitar pattern that is borderline repetitious as it moves forward. While the sound is calming and enjoyable, it does begin to seem prolonged and invariable, once the mid-point second verse concludes. Venturing forward, track four, is a curious track that gives off a storybook, fable-themed sound. From the title of the track to the frequent religious references, it acts as a wonderful mystical piece for the listener to get lost within.

The wild-wild-west comes through upon “Girl That Love Made Blind.” As Bouchard recounts of a far-off, distant memory of Christmas, the girl is the center of the holiday season where he danced his heart away that night. As this soft, light song plays out, the reminiscence of him longing for that same companionship further on. The following number, “Astronomy,” makes the midpoint of the record and a re-recording of Blue Oyster Cult’s single on the Secret Treaties album. It is an illustrative tale of the wonders of space mixed with a wish of one last venture with this girl Susie who is on her way to starting her life on her own, married and complete.

The title track “Imaginos” is a continuation of Bouchard’s mysticism. The themes of ever changing life and decay, as well as, nomadic-like movement are are ways of imagining the touch-and-go-sense of nature and the human world. “Gil Blanco County,” tells of this wondrous place that nature is vast and there is a sense of openness that the typical city-life does not contain. “Blue Oyster Cult” is a funky jam tune to pay homage to the group that made Bouchard the musical phenomenon he is today. “The Oyster boys are swimming now,” make it sound as though there is this revival in the work of sorts, of which listeners can interpret to their pleasure. This is followed by a powerful guitar riff which blasts the song and audience into a midpoint rock n’ roll frenzy.

Closing out the album, “Black Telescope” is a grand wordplay trickery song. As though a sailor is making up a voyager’s song, it tells of the many ways and types of visions differing creatures may take up the sight of their world around them. “Magna of Illusion” is a tale of what could be an event in a time of victorian-era happenings. Whether it be of travel and discovery, or a battle to come, the tune ends with revealing that not all is what it seems; leaving the listener in awe. Finally, “Les Invisibles” is a medieval song that sings of a setup and celebration is put on in this particular story that looks as though, the death of an individual is celebrated.

Key Tracks: “I Am the One You Warned Me Of,” “Girl That Love Made Blind,” “Blue Oyster Cult,” “Black Telescope”

Gregg Keniston - Staff
January 28, 2021


Track Listing:
01. I Am the One You Warned Me Of
02. Del Rio Song
03. In the Presence of Another World
04. Siege and Investiture of Baron Von Frankenstein’s Castle at Weisseria
05. Girl That Love Blind
06. Astronomy
07. Imaginos
08. Gil Blanco County
09. Blue Oyster Cult
10. Black Telescope
11. Magna of Illusion
12. Les Invisibles


Rock Review: The Catholic Girls-Rock N’ Roll School For Girls

Release Date: November 6, 2020

Label: JSP Records


Hailing from my home state of New Jersey, The Catholic Girls burst onto the rock n’ roll scene in the early ‘80s. Causing all kinds of controversy and uproar in their music, the group never really gained national momentum. However, they were able to garner enough attention along the coast and turn heads. Even the catholic church within Rhode Island decided to ban them from performing at several functions. Rock n’ Roll School For Girls finds root in the modern era that could prepare this band for an epic revitalization of their lifetime.

The Catholic Girls pack a wild punch in this remastered collection of provocative hits. They return more than 15 years later from their last release, to reintroduce themselves to the masses that the world was possibly not ready for. In a not-so-politically-correct, modern world; the band may have more success amongst varying age groups who align with angst-like, rebellion rock. On this two-disc album, essentially many of the songs represent a topic to which is breaking stereotype concepts or causing mayhem.

The consistent theme throughout the album is front-woman Gail Petersen’s distinct style. She makes her mark by emoting her voice in such a manner that gives off much of the same mystique as Stevie Nicks. Starting off the album, disc one is loaded with demo records that made their way into the group’s mainstay discography. Then, disc 2 offers a slew of remixed editions of the prior disc. Both track listings also incorporate a number of new music singles.

See, this band knows how to play up satirical themes, from the threat of schooling that plagued the singer’s home life growing up, to failed relationships and just being flat out wild and reckless. Songs like
“Grounded” and “Grand Theft Auto” are two examples of the bombastic flare that play through much of the first set of the tracklisting. As both of the discs play through, the latter half of the music, a more solemn tone is felt within the album. Emotions rise on tracks such as, “You Let Me Down” and “Should’ve Been Mine” offers a difference in mellow manners. One song is more powerful and utilizes Petersen’s vocal style to her advantage while the latter is a more lyrically somber and plainer sound that shows less is indeed more.

Showcasing their broad discography, this album acts as a reintroduction to a three decade’s worth of bad timing but, amazing talent. These girls know how to mix the flare of rock n’ roll with humor and contradiction to the normal ways of thinking on a particular subject. It seems that traveling through time, forty years down the line just might have its advantages when it comes to The Catholic Girls re-emergence.

Key tracks include: “Grounded,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “God Made You for Me,” and “Down At the Shore.”

Gregg Keniston - Staff
January 21, 2021

Track Listing
Disc 1:
01. Private School (1981)
02. Grounded (1980)
03. Summer Boy (1980)
04. Dancing on the 44 (1980)
05. Rock’n Roll School for Girls (1980)
06. Somebody in the USA (1980)
07. Grand Theft Auto (1979)
08. Young Boys (1980)
09. Where Did I Go Wrong (1981)
10. Boys Can Cry (1981)
11. Broken Record (1981)
12. You Let Me Down (1981)
13. C’est Impossible (1981)
14. Someone New (1981)
15. Rock’n America (1983)
16. If No One Fell in Love (2000)
17. It Doesn’t Become You (1984)
18. No One Like You (1983)
19. I Was A Lady (2001)
20. Night Shift (The New Jersey Song) [Alternate 2003]
21. Just Before Nightfall (Live at President’s Palace, 1979)

Disc 2:
01. Someone New
02. C’est Impossible
03. A Boy for Me
04. Where Did I Go Wrong
05. You Let Me Down
06. Private School
07. Boys Can Cry
08. God Made You for Me
09. The Only One
10. Make Me Believe
11. Niagara Falls
12. Should Have Been Mine
13. If I Hadn’t Loved You
14. Some Boys
15. Manderlay
16. Shame On You
17. Kiss Me One More Time
18. Down at the Shore
19. Without a Country
20. Somebody Better Get a Room


Rock Review: Eric Burdon & The Animals-When I Was Young – The MGM Recordings 1967-1968

Release Date: February 28, 2020
Label: Esoteric

When I Was Young – The MGM Recordings 1967-1968 is a 5-disc set covering Eric Burdon & The Animals. Each of these discs shows a pattern. As you stream through the music, the tone and themes overall go from disc one, and five shapes themselves up to be more of a darker sound than that of the other three discs. In ascending order, discs two through four increasingly become a bit lighter with the themes surrounding them. Minus a few extra tracks and one being formatted in stereo and one for mono, the two bookend discs play out similarly. It’s well worth playing on a day of reminiscing or if you might have a grey feeling throughout your day.

Eric Burdon & The Animals came about in 1966 when the actual band The Animals abruptly parted ways, he formed a similar but newer version of the group. It took hold of a Psychedelic rock type of influence rather than that of its former R&B stylings. He possessed a particular skill few in the Rock world could bring to life and not have the message and sound overdone or duplicated.

Disc two still carries a bit of a darker undertone but, generally, The Twain Shall Meet is an album of eventfulness and storytelling. You can feel a sense of wonder and awe in songs like “All Is One,” and “Just The Thought.” The album is rightly titled because it comes off very poetically. However, it also speaks to songs of war and unfortunate sorrow in the song “Sky Pilot.” You get an action-packed album amid this packaged deal.

Everyone Of Us is a blend of items. It contains an instrumental piece, “Serenade to A Sweet Lady,” along with a spoken-word track of “The Immigrant Lad.” It also includes a short story-styled song of “New York 1963 – America 1968.” You can tell by the titles of the tracks, that a lot of historical context surrounds the entirety of this album, and while it may be for a select group of ears (as many may not find the album impactful), it does carry an impressive framework about it.

Think of disc four as the icing on the cake, or the joy and celebration of light after a series of unfortunate events. There’s a common theme of love and its lasting effects both good and bad. “River Deep, Mountain High,” is that excitement burst of how much intensity one’s love could be another while, “Ring Of Fire,” represents how much power and heat can be put into love itself and loving someone, who may or may not return the same feeling.

This album certainly has an eclectic sense of emotion and lessons to be learned. Moreover, it is a great representation of laid back, mellow vibes to give younger listeners a sense of how music can captivate both a message and create an endless earworm to soothe the mind after an eventful day or stimulate the mind to think more introspectively.

Key Tracks: “Monterey,” “A Girl Named Sandoz,” “Year of the Guru,” “Gemini,” “Ring of Fire.”

Gregg Keniston- Staff
May 8, 2020

Reviews Provided By:

Track Listing:
Disc One: Winds Of Change (Re-Mastered Stereo Mix)

01.    Winds Of Change
02.    Poem By The Sea
03.    Paint It Black
04.    The Black Plague
05.    Yes, I Am Experienced
06.    San Franciscan Nights
07.    Man – Woman
08.    Hotel Hell
09.    Good Times
10.    Anything
11.    It’s All Meat
12.    When I Was Young
13.    A Girl Named Sandoz
14.    Ain’t That So
15.    Gratefully Dead
16.    Anything (Single Version)

Disc Two: The Twain Shall Meet

01.    Monterey
02.    Just The Thought
03.    Closer to The Truth
04.    No Self Pity
05.    Orange and Red Beams
06.    Sky Pilot
07.    We Love You Lil
08.    All Is One
09.    Sky Pilot (Part One) (Mono Single)
10.    Sky Pilot (Part Two) (Mono Single)
11.    Monterey (Mono Single Version)

Disc Three: Everyone Of Us

01.    White Houses
02.    Uppers and Downers
03.    Serenade to a Sweet Lady
04.    The Immigrant Lad
05.    Year of the Guru
06.    St. James Infirmary
07.    New York 1963 – America 1968
08.    White Houses (Single Version)

Disc Four: Love Is

01.    River Deep, Mountain High
02.    I’m An Animal
03.    I’m Dying, or Am I?
04.    Ring Of Fire
05.    Coloured Rain
06.    To Love Somebody
07.    As The Years Go Passing By
08.    Gemini
09.    The Madman (Running Through the Fields)
10.    River Deep, Mountain High (Single Version)

Disc Five: Winds Of Change (Re-Mastered Mono Mix)

01.    Winds of Change
02.    Poem By the Sea
03.    Paint It Black
04.    The Black Plague
05.    Yes, I Am Experienced
06.    San Franciscan Nights
07.    Man – Woman
08.    Hotel Hell
09.    Good Times
10.    Anything
11.    It’s All Meat


Rock-Americana-Progressive Review: Euphoria-The Reverie Suite

Release Date: September 17, 2019
Label: Independent

Euphoria’s second release titled The Reverie Suite was released in September 2019. This is the kind of music that can be hard to put into a corner and stick a label on. For my ears, that is a fine start knowing that I was in for a lot of diversity and surprises.

I would call it Rock-Americana with a Progressive twist, just as the band describes it. What is initially indicative of the progressive leanings is the length of the tracks.

The band explains the album like this: It is a concept album based on the life of vocalist Saskia who delivers her story with an earnest passion that’s hauntingly beautiful. Its theme is centered around childhood and musically presented with a sound that evokes America in all its beauty – whether it be folk, rock, jazz, or Native purple mountains majesty with progressive tinges.

I think that statement puts it all into a proper perspective for potential listeners. It serves as a looking glass into what you can expect. It is everything and more than one would expect actually. Saskia has a rich powerful voice that pulls you right into the story and holds you. The music is all very tasteful and well suited to the lyrics and vocal style of Saskia. Every track is a musical carpet ride that will capture your imagination. In a word, it is all quite cinematic. Choosing the recording to be a concept album worked well.

Hoyt Binder’s guitar is fantastic. He can be powerful with some meaty chords or tone it down to sound quieter and more textured. He also utilizes a banjo and mandolin to get that Americana element in place sandwiched in between his power strokes. I most certainly appreciate all of his work with the stringed instruments. His multitude of talent leads the way, inviting Saskia’s inviting vocals to come out and play with the music making it a complete experience for a listener. Her vocals were giving me goosebumps.

The Reverie Suite is engaging, precise, diversified, exciting, and filled with the many colors of the world and cultures. I sincerely appreciate that kind of take on a recording, it is always impressive and something you cannot forget. The musicianship is stellar. Ronald Van Deurzen adds the quintessential keyboard element while The Americana Daydream Revival Orchestra delivers background harmonies, flute, percussion, harmonica, bass, and strings, which in turn gives their sound a layered effect that makes each track a real musical journey. (I have included a list of all contributors below)

Their magnum opus is ”Paradise Road,” which clocks in at a hefty 9:42. With this one track, you get the whole package and stylings that this band commands in one track. It is quite impressive to sit back and hear everything going on. I loved every minute of it. The long instrumental breaks are a testament to this band’s all-around talent. This is the one track I would call definitively progressive. The way it ends so suddenly with Saskia singing “And paradise is her name,” puts the final touch on the elements of prog as the door shuts and you get ready for the next track (or another one opens).

Then you get the full instrumental track “Remind Me.” It is a delight, bringing a distinct Americana/Celtic flair to your senses, transporting the listener to a world stage. Getting the full instrumental treatment of their sounds encourages you to paint your personal picture on the canvas of their music.

The Reverie Suite
may take a few listens to get it all into perspective, but I believe that any listener that has an appreciation for rock, prog, Americana, folk, or any combination thereof, will find great value in this album.

Saskia Binder - Vocals
Hoyt Binder - Guitars, banjo, mandolin, background harmonies
Ronald Van Deurzen - Piano, organ
Trevor Lloyd - Strings
Tollak Ollestad - Harmonica
Rebecca Kleinmann - Flute
Paulo Gustavo - Bass
Chris Quirarte - Drums
Mike Disarro - Background harmonies
Bobby Albright – Percussion

Mixed by Smiley Sean
Mastered by Howie Weinberg at Howie Weinberg Mastering

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
April 28, 2020
Founder of:

Review Provided By Prog Rock Music Talk

Track List: 
01. Prelude/ She's Calling 04:54
02. Reverie 07:12
03. On My Way 07:31  
04. Heartbeat 04:53
05. Bridge of Dreams 04:38
06. Queen of Hearts 04:47
07. Paradise Road 09:42
08. Move On 05:21
09. Seasons 07:00  
10. Reprise 03:24
11. Remind Me 05:44
12. Content 05:57


Rock-Pop Review: Bob Jones, Louis Jones, Stephen Peppos-50/80 50 Years in 80 Minutes

Release Date: December 23, 2019
Label: Sonic Bear Music

Interview With Band Is Included Below!

How does a group of musicians put 50 years of music into a single CD that lasts for 80 minutes? Just ask Bob Jones, Louis Jones, and Stephen Peppos. The title 50/80 50 Years in 80 Minutes lets you know straight away what you are in for.

On a separate note, I have covered several of Stephen’s New Age keyboard instrumental projects over the years and consider him to be one of the finest performers of instrumental music that I have heard.

This all started in the 60s when three boys in High School put a band together and then started writing and recording. One of the configurations was Stephen Peppos & Jones Straightjacket Band (tracks 1, 3, 8, 9, 12, 14, 19, 22, 24). There are extensive liner notes included with the CD so you get the whole story.

The 25 tracks cover a range of pop and rock that are indeed retro and if you listen intently you can identify which decade that they fit into. For instance, “High School Years #2” sounds very 60s and “Too Much To Bear” has some good guitar licks that reminded me of the late 70s to early 80s period. Then “Lalena” has a psychedelic trippy 60s Top 40 sensibility. These songs sound good enough to have been spinning regularly on radio stations and in fact, some did on a local level with station WKLX out of Virginia. “I Gotta Sing My Song” was one song that radio DJ Mike Deeson liked. To me, it felt like something that would have gone well with 70s TV shows like Love Boat or the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Only those old enough to remember will understand where I coming from once, they hear the tracks.

One of the tracks on solid ground that is good for any era is ”A Christmas Carol.” It features great vocals and some jangly acoustic guitar lines. Seasonal music does not define a period so when you first hear it, it fits no matter what.

As you make your way through this ambitious compilation, you realize why it took 2 years to get it all together. The variety is quite interesting. Form a Christmas song to the lyrics “Hell no we will not fade away” on “Boomers Anthem,” which is a recent recording from 2019, is accompanied by appropriate guitar lines and inspirational lyrics for all the rockers out there. For me that was one of the standout tracks and my favorite on the entire recording.

Influences from the Byrds To Paul Simon to Cream pepper all of these recordings. You get the feeling of originality bursting through with authority to more obscure live recording snippets on “Look Through Any Window.” “Kicks” is all 60s and one of the best tracks on the CD. It was a hit in 1966 for Paul Revere and the Raiders. The fact that they covered it so well was an indication of their all-around talent.

At first glance when you see 25 tracks you may think “Wow this is a lot of music” and it is a double album. The truth is they go by very quickly because some are short snippets of recordings to go along with other full-length tracks that cover some ground musically.

When I heard the first few tracks, I was thinking that I was not too crazy about them, just my opinion, and it does not mean someone else would not like them. But it just keeps getting better and you realize the entire point of this compilation. That thought was fleeting and forgotten in a matter of minutes.

50/80 50 Years in 80 Minutes is jam-packed with musical diversity and a snapshot of history over a long period. This group of young men had the talent to record all this music and although they did not become stars on a national level, they certainly showed that their talent could have taken them places most bands dream of. It is a matter of being in the right place at the right time. All of that aside, this is a valid musical statement showcasing the talents of the three main men involved.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 28, 2020

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Instrumental Rock Review: Joe Satriani-Shapeshifting

Release Date: April 10, 2020
Label: Sony Music/Legacy Recordings

I always wonder what Satch will come up with next when he releases another album. You have to be a very creative guitar player to constantly come up with something new and exciting for your listeners. He manages to do that consistently. With Shapeshifting due out on April 10, 2020 he is sure not to disappoint.

There are thirteen tracks of instrumental ear candy to consume on this latest recording. Joe’s sound is distinct and very familiar to millions of rockers worldwide. I am among the longtime fans that stretch back to the 80s. When I was first turned on to his music, I could not forget it and wanted more. Joe has served us instrumental rock freaks well in his long and successful career.

Some notes from the press release FYI:
Shapeshifting was co-produced by Satriani and Jim Scott (Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers) with longtime associate John Cuniberti onboard handling the mastering duties. Satriani enlisted a wide range of collaborators, both old and new, to help him bring the songs to life. Legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff (John Fogerty), bassist Chris Chaney (Jane’s Addiction) and keyboardist Eric Caudieux were the core musicians on the new album with additional contributions coming from Lisa Coleman (The Revolution) and Christopher Guest.

So, there is no surprise that so many names in the industry are part of this. Just remember he is the guy that taught Steve Vai a few things, who is no slouch on the six-string either.

The production values of Shapeshifting are superb and what you would expect. Every song has a different style and pace to it, making sure every listener gets the variety they need to stay interested from beginning to end. Joe delivers the goods track to track. The album leads off with the title track and a high energy blast of some guitar magic that sets the right tone right from the start.

One of the more eclectic and interesting tracks is “Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me.” It gives thanks to those artists that Joe has admired and you certainly can hear the Dick Dale reference. Surf instrumental is so recognizable and Dale was one of the first innovators of the genre. I am not familiar with Farka’s work but because of that song I will have to do some investigating. If Joe likes him, chances are his work will be of great value to his listeners. As far as the Alien, I think it was that silver dude he was surfing with back in the early years of his career.

The first single “Nineteen Eighty” has some Eddie Van Halen types of riffs running through and it packs a punch through to the end, it is pure energy and excitement. After that explosion of six-string virtuosity, Joe slows things down a bit with “All My Friends Are Here.” It’s not slow but in terms of the way he plays, it is a few notches down from the previous track. It has some great hooks that are hard to ignore. It sounds like the kind of track you may hear sound bites of accompanying a sporting video, albeit in a sport that has plenty of movement.

All that energy and creativeness Joe has in his soul never subsides during this instrumental treasure trove of masterful six-string displays. This is vintage Satriani doing what he does best, just flat out jamming and bending those strings with a fluidness and command that few players can muster. He is and has been one of the premier rock guitarists for a long time and this recording takes its place alongside one of the great releases such as Surfing With The Alien for consistency of quality. I must reiterate, with the level of difficulty involved in putting out yet another all-instrumental album, this sets the bar extremely high for an artist like Joe. He is up for the challenge and plays like a man that is recording his swan song.

Diversity is the key to success. Tracks like the beautiful “Falling Stars” step away from the hard-charging rockers to show that he can do tasteful slower paced tracks with some funky licks interspersed between the rhythm section action. “Waiting” is even more expressive and a nice ballad that relates to the title with its slow start and pensive build-up that intimates some impatience but in a very nice way. It is one of the shorter jaunts clocking in at 2:37. Now if that wasn’t enough of a change, he kicks into high gear with some reggae chops on “Here The Blue River.” He also mixes in the rockin’ side of his playing to the blend with the reggae back beat which continues as the foundation. The multi-layered tracking is amazing with some great effects, making the track the most varied sounding on the entire album.

And just when you thought you heard just about every style imaginable he closes out with “Yesterday’s Yesterday,” a country-fried journey that rings true with the jangling strings and the old western atmosphere it hints at. In many ways, if you played this for long time fans, they may be hard-pressed to peg Joe as the artist.

In the end, the curtain closes and Joe Satriani wins you over again with the superior quality and all the incredible guitar playing on display on this fine album. His ongoing maturity is evident with each subsequent release and he surely is the ultimate Shapeshifting guitar man.

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck
February 8, 2020

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01. Shapeshifting
02. Big Distortion
03. All For Love
04. Ali Farka, Dick Dale, an Alien and Me
05. Teardrops
06. Perfect Dust
07. Nineteen Eighty
08. All My Friends Are Here
09. Spirits, Ghosts and Outlaws
10. Falling Stars
11. Waiting
12. Here The Blue River
13. Yesterday’s Yesterday


Rock - Metal Review: Blind Ego-Preaching To The Choir

Release Date: February 14, 2020
Label: Gentle Art of Music
This record is a blast of power and energy. From start to finish, Blind Ego’s efforts into their fourth studio album Preaching To The Choir is a force to be reckoned with. The uplifting lyrics blend seamlessly with the sounds of the guitars and drum in each track like a different chapter of a storybook. Most of the album reflects a very upbeat and positive tone which, to me, is hard to expect from a Rock, or Metal album typically. “Burning Alive,” the lead single, sounds not only the most radio-friendly but; somewhat like a Pop record because of how light it plays.

“Massive” is the ultimate starters song. You would expect to hear this song at the lead out of the announcement of the two Super Bowl LIV teams. It has so much fight and exhilaration throughout it. Not only that but, it sends the listener to a place where they feel like they are marching to their victory, to claim what is rightfully theirs.

As though one is stepping into a video game, the title track, “Preaching to the Choir” starts like walking onto a warp pad. The song quickly becomes a thrill, a rush of blood to the head, because you’ve been headbanging along with the guitar and drum patterns throughout. Then comes about, “ Burning Alive.” Leaving the past behind and watching it go up in flames, the band prepares and sets off to make a new out of the fire and ash of what they intend to leave behind; even if they catch a little singe on their way out.

“Line In The Sand” turns the album a little darker. The band is engulfed in a struggle of some kind. They don’t see a way out per se but, they establish then and there, that the things that turned them to the darkness of sorts, will not keep them from moving forward. The music keeps propelling the band, the album, and their career forward.

“Dark Paradise” keeps with the same darker underlying spirit. It acknowledges that standing alone might be the best way to move forward. The realization that sometimes you have to walk out the toughest battles alone, lays a theme for indeed, a dark paradise – a vast land now covered in blank darkness, that seemingly fits eternity. If there’s one theme that runs through this album, it’s consistency. “In Exhile” reflects that the singer has been running constantly and now has gotten to the point where those around him cannot see him, do not hear him, and do not care to look. He has grown comfortable this way, just muscling through whatever he must to get through day today.

“Heading For the Stars” become a bit lighter, in having a companion beside one another as they venture onto brighter things ahead. However, they find themselves embattled in a sea of negativity and disaster to get through. On the bright side, the singer notes, “the future is alive.” So, there must be something worth the chase after all. “Broken Land” lends itself to the same ideals of “jump into the flame” to get to where you want to be. It speaks of change, and what is to come of it on the other side. But, this broken land is wasted on them anymore because there has been so much trauma in its path.

The final track “The Pulse,” is all about anticipation. The singer reclaims what he’s been searching for in terms of peace and a purpose (or pulse). Beginning the track is just over two minutes of a lead-in of thrill and sound. But, what will come of this man’s future in taking down the one-man-army that stands in his way? In many ways, that one man is simply trying to find a way back to a sense of normalcy and to build upon that.

Gregg Keniston- Staff
January 18, 2020

1. Massive
2. Preaching To The Choir
3. Burning Alive
4. Line In The Sand
5. Dark Paradise
6. In Exile
7. Heading For The Stars
8. Broken Land
9. The Pulse


Rock Review: Doctor Pheabes-Army of the Sun

Release Date: May 16, 2019
Label:  Independent

Brazilian rockers, Doctor Pheabes is back with their third album, and first international release, Army of the Sun.  On the hard rock spectrum, they take up a lot of space, sitting somewhere between AC/DC, Bon Jovi and Pearl Jam.  Two pairs of brothers, Fernando and Eduardo Parrillo and Fabio and Paulo Ressio work their familial bonds into the strength of their music.  After just one look and listen you’ll know their crisp, industrial, jagged-edge sound didn’t just happen overnight. 

Over the years, Doctor Pheabes has honed their sound into something that, on the surface seems like polished classic rock, yet the deeper you listen the more texture and complexity you find.  The music is a composite of ‘70s hard rock, ‘80s flash, and ‘90’s alt-rock. Doctor Pheabes are a hard rock history lesson unto themselves.

Army of the Sun starts with a bang. The title track is a rocking foot-stomper that could be played at any sports arena to get the crowd pumped.  “Better off Alone” sounds more like a Nirvana song with a fast/slow/fast tempo, yet steeped in classic rock roots.  Like the tempo within their songs, they slow things down effectively on tracks such as “Ask of You,” and this reviewers favorite, “Live Forever”. 

As torchbearers for the New Classic Rock movement, it is hard not to borrow from one’s influences.  The danger is sounding unoriginal and in places Army of the Sun does.  Lyrically, there is not much here you haven’t heard before.  One could argue that for anthem rock, it is best to stick with the formula.  Turn idioms into song titles and fill the lyrics with rhyming couplets.  Still, it is a successful formula and Doctor Pheabes uses it well. 

If you’re looking to rock out for a spell, you won’t go wrong with Doctor Pheabes’ Army of the Sun. These songs are accessible, enjoyable and the guitar work by Fernando Parrillo is outstanding.  Knowing you’ll hear a stellar guitar solo on each of these songs is cause enough to have them in steady rotation in your playlist.

Tom Endyke - Staff
January 8, 2019


01. Army of the Sun
02. Better Off Alone
03. Rebel Riders
04. Here to Stay
05. Your Love Is Mine
06. Ask of You
07. Find a Way
08. Back in Town
09. Stranded in Love
10. Let’s Go
11. Live Forever

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