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Quick Play: A round-up of February 2008 album releases

We've listed albums in order of star rating. Best first.


Canadian 3-piece rock band The Sleddogs have created a guitar pop/rock album with a West Coast groove aimed to capture their live sound. Fine job too.

Some great melodies, a solid rocking sound, especially the title track. Touch of the Crash Test Dummies in there, speeded up of course. A nod at CCR too!

With the backing of Universal Canada, they should do well; I would also love to hear reports from the recent University tour where I expect they went down well.

Really worth checking out. ****

Review by Joe Geesin

MAIN LINE RIDERS Shot In The Dark (Retroactive Records)

From the start this 9 track CD from Texan band Main Line Riders oozed late 80's LA. With a nod to bands like Guns n Roses, Skid Row and Hanoi Rocks and the ability to give Buckcherry a run for their money, 'Shot In The Dark' should set the band well on their way.

There is not a weak track on this CD, an album chocked full of soaring guitar solos, hooks and harmonies galore, and attitude that would make Axl Rose smile.

Highlights include 'We Are The Ready Ones', I Walk Alone', 'Speed Queen' and the Skid Row style ballad that is 'Here I Am'.

If you love late 80's style rock then this CD is just made for your stereo. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

VARIOUS Rock The Bones - Volume 6 (Frontiers)

Eighteen tracks in all culled from this year's current and upcoming releases on Frontiers. These include the storming 'Never Again' by Asia; a real funk meets soul (with brass!) called 'Love Communication' from Glenn Hughes; Place Of Powers providing some classy melodic rock on 'The Passage' and Jimi Jamison proving he is still on top form with 'Behind The Music'.

Not so impressed though with Silent Rage's 'Four Letter Word', mind you was never a big fan of the band to start with!

Michael Kiske seems to be continuing with his mellow AOR leanings if 'You Always Walk Alone' is anything to go by (complete with a folk intro!).

The Jorn Lande song, 'Lonely Are The Brave' does not really grab me but hopefully the album will be another good one. Of the albums already released you get songs by Khymera, Work Of Art, Steve Lukather and House Of Lords amongst others.

Great way to sample the Frontiers releases plus it is a budget price. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

IMPERIAL VIPERS Album Sampler '08

With a single due in April and album in August, this 4 track sampler shows we can expect big things from this young band.

Guitar pop rock with honesty and clarity, there's a touch of punk and indie there too, with some energetic vocals and deft guitar work.

Expect more from this lot. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin


Vocalist Andre Matos rose to fame with Angra and Shaman and now for his debut album he utilises some ex-members from both bands as well. Produced by the legendary Roy Z this is as you would expect, well produced classy power/progressive metal although for me the album does lack a real killer tune to grab the listener from the off.

That said some interesting musical intros are used on a couple of songs - an eastern feel on 'Rio' and native American Indian chants on 'Reason', the latter then explodes into some monster riffs. Matos certainly has a great voice on him, able to switch form real lung busting passages to much more reflective, gentle vocals with ease.

The album for me just needs a little more quality in the songs as it can sound very generic in places. Mind you if you like Angra you will certainly have a ball with this album! ***½

Review by Jason Ritchie

VARIOUS Flying High Again - The World's Great Tribute Ozzy Osbourne (The Store For Music)

Another tribute album, and the usual cast of stars, but at least it's better than Ozzy's latest solo set. Which isn't hard.

Opener "Mr Crowley" is full of lush keyboards, some solid work from Bob Kulick, Tommy Aldridge and Tim Bogart, and some completely OTT shred from Yngwie Malmsteen. Ripper Owens in the main sings great too, but overdoes some of the screams.

"Sabbath Bloody Sabbath" is close to the original, "Bark At The Moon" is good too. Dee Snider's "Crazy Train" is worth checking out too. It actually sounds bloody good.

"I Don't Know", "Hellraiser" and "Paranoid" and more all get a run through, with Tony Levin, Jack Blades, Reb Beach, Jason Bonham, Eric Singer, Doug Aldrich, Lita Ford, Brad Gillis and a whole host more turning up.

Better than it could have been. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

MOTLEY CRUE Rock Legends (Universal Music)

Released as part of Universal Music's Rock Legends series this 17 track Motley Crue Best Of features all the hits, the odd remix (Glitter) and tells the tale of one of America's biggest ever rock bands.

However, with the band recently releasing the 2-disc monster anthology Red, White and Crue it seems a bit pointless to release a best bits type collection at this point.

That said there are 17 great tracks here including Girls, Girls, Girls, Dr Feelgood, Smokin' In The Boys Room and Kickstart My Heart and this really is a great introduction to the band for any new fans or anyone replacing those 20 year old albums. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

QUIET RIOT Live & Rare - Volume 1 (The Store for Music)

With the recent untimely death of front man Kevin DuBrow, this Quiet Riot collection sums up the band at their best. With tracks recorded on the Metal Health and Condition Critical tours when the band were at the height of their popularity, including rarities such as Danger Zone and Gonna Have A Riot, the massive single Cum On Feel The Noize and original demos of Thunderbird, Love's A Bitch and Let's Get Crazy.

This CD is a good reminder of what a great band Quiet Riot were. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns


London based band whose debut album sounds like a bunch of Soundgarden outtakes! Vocalist Tommy Gleeson sounds uncannily like Chris Connell - grab a listen to 'Heaven Is A Lie' and one of their singles 'Mr Regulator'.

This album would have had the grunge fans of the 90's in ecstasy with it's down-tuned guitar and in your face vocals. Some good songs on here like the aforementioned single 'Mr Regulator' and the crunching 'Meantime'.

A solid album but just a bit to derivative of Soundgarden and Alter Bridge for my liking. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie

SHANIA TWAIN Send It ... With Love - The Early Years (The Store For Music)

Uuum. There's a the whiff of desperation about the re(?)release of this album of early pre record contract recordings.

Certainly, the album has been commercially available since at least 2005, so quite what it's doing passing over the GRTR! review desk now is anyone's guess. I think it's probably a UK / European release for what has previously only been available on US import.

Recorded way back in the late eighties, the recordings were a showcase of mainly original material with what one imagines must have been a spandex clad rock band. And to be fair, they're pretty decent fodder - typical late eighties radio friendly rock of the sort pedalled by Pat Benatar and the like.

The vocals are great and a million miles away from the country singer Shania would later become, but today they sound rather clichéd. Certainly the band sound like they're session musicians going through the motions. With a little more attitude and a heavyweight producer like Mutt Lange in the driving seat this could have been a pretty wonderful disc.

But as it is, it's difficult to see who's going to be attracted to purchase. Shania complete-ists are the only ones that spring to mind. If late 80's female fronted rock is your bag, there's better examples of the genre and if country's your bag, this isn't for you.

There's also a few tracks towards the end of the disc where a more dance floor approach is tried - a la Madonna. But at the end of the day these recordings failed to win Shania a recording deal. And that's probably all you need to know. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


Will's debut album was two years in the making. It's a pretty much DIY affair with Will writing, producing and playing most of the instruments himself.

A singer, songwriter, performer out of the Ed Harcourt mold, I'll be honest I simply didn't know what to make of it. It's a decent record but it never grabbed me by the balls. Not even a little squeeze. But then Ed Harcourt leaves me absolutely cold as well. Somehow they both lack the melodic twists and hooks of say, Cherry Ghost. To my mind, anyway.

So perhaps I'm not best placed to offer criticism or advice, save for check out Will's myspace page where you can hear 4 of the 9 tracks on offer and make your own mind up. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

MONTE MONTGOMERY Live - At Workplay CD/DVD (Provogue)

Monte plays a mic'ed up acoustic guitar with a beefed up sound in a 3-piece that touches on blues and rock.

From soloing mad and picking to strumming and riffing and back again it's an enjoyable sound, if at the MOR end of blues rock.

Clearly popular in some parts of America, as this live set shows, the virtuoso playing is outstanding. Opener "1st And Repair" shows the talent well, and the songwriting too.

Acoustic guitarist cutting it in the rock well, but I did find some of the songs lacking any 'grab' factor. In awe of the playing, the overall sound just passed me by. ***

Review by Joe Geesin


Daniel Lanois - producer (Dylan, U2, Gabriel to name but a few), solo artist and composer - releases a new album and documentary on 7 April. Collaborating with long time compadres Brian Eno, Garth Hudson and Brian Blade, Here Is What Is provides the soundtrack to the documentary of the same name that was filmed over 12 months featuring such luminaries as U2, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Aaron Neville, Billy Bob Thornton and Sinead O'Connor.

And as you might imagine the soundtrack is typical Lanois - beautiful sonic soundscapes that sooth and caress - featuring a myriad of 'guest artists'. Certainly anyone who has aquired any of Lanois's previous five solo albums would not be dissappointed by the quality of the fare on offer here. Most soundtracks don't stand up to close scrutiny when severed from their visual counterparts, but that's not true here. ***

Review by Pete Whalley

TALL FIRS Too Old To Die You Young

Part of the New York electric folk underground scene, Tall Firs were formed in 1990 when Dave Miles and Aaron Mullan taught each other to play guitar over the phone.

Their 2006 debut which found favour with Rolling Stone, NME and was a cast back to those hippy, sun and drug soaked days of the 1960s when an acoustic and a joint was all that was needed for peace, love and understanding.

This time around they're joined by Ryan Sawyer on drums, but the formula remains basically the same - gentle interwoven melodies pervading an album that and washes around, over and through you. It's altogether restrained, low key, mellow and low tech.

So, not an album that's going to rock your world, but soothing music for contemplating the meaning of life to. ***

Review by Pete Whalley


One man and his dobro producing an album that is not bad at all in parts, with some good melanchony songs like 'Work' (great dobro picking on here) and 'Good Times'.

Naughty Jack has a droll vocal style and with the success of artists like Seasick Steve you can see this album doing well. Just would be nice to have a bit more musical variety though. ***

Review by Jason Ritchie


A full sounding modern blues/rock where Paul takes on several instruments (as does bandmate Eric Hoegemeyer).

Opener "You Pulled The Trigger" is a good starter with some great guitar work. "Platinum Blonde Jesus" is a chunkier crunchier number with a programmed edge to it.

Later tracks are hard edged pop/rock with a slight nod at blues rock. There is quality playing, but would benefit from a larger band playing together. So many instruments played by 2 or 3 people runs the risk of sounding disjointed.

"Pretty Please" features some rough guitar, and the keyboards add an MOR feel to an otherwise chunky/staccato rhythm.

A mixed bag of more than one style, some decent tunes too that match the guitar playing, but a direction would be nice too. **½

Review by Joe Geesin

KING'S CALL No Alibi (Artist Service)

New hard rock band formed by ex-Eagle Springs vocalist/guitarist Alex Garoufalidis and handling production duties is Chris Tsangardides.

The band's aim was to create a classic rock sound based on Thin Lizzy, Led Zep and Magnum but listening to songs like 'Shaking' and 'Never Be Alone', latter day Molly Hatchett.

Two things though let this album down for me, the vocals are okay but lack any real distinctive style or power at times and lyrically it repeats the same couplets over and over like on 'Crying Shame'.

'Destiny' is good though with its extended guitar solos and epic feel.

Maybe next album they will improve but sadly not an album to recommend. **½

Review by Jason Ritchie


Now this is different!

Russian born Ayin Aleph is undoubtedly talented but her rather unconventional vocal delivery makes much of this difficult listening. Set to a dramatic musical backdrop, perhaps touching symphonic metal at times and at others close to a Nightwish sound, she has unfortunately taken her vocals to the extremes.

Laying claim to all the different voices proffered, there is no doubting her range and ability but this is just one step too far for me. Sounding at times like a hyperactive Marilyn Manson, at others a bizarre mix of Kate Bush, Skin and Bjork singing opera.

Despite the lyrics printed in the booklet being in English, I failed to understand a single word and it would require a great deal more persistence than I am prepared to give, to do so. It's a shame because the instrumentation certainly deserves to be heard, perhaps with Ms Aleph toning down the operatics. **½

Review by Dave Hunter


The début "mini album" from Japanese born, Cardiff based piano driven singer/songwriter features five tracks that I guess will appeal more to the BBC Radio 2 listening, Tori Amos, Counting Crows et al appreciating audience than it did to me.

It's distinctly middle of the road stuff, although you can't help having some admiration for a guy with a very good voice and clear ability at producing radio friendly tunes. There's even a feeling that he could do quite well in these days of bland music reaping mega-sales.

As a fan of heavier rock music though I can't help missing the presence of a guitar or two forward in the mix and ultimately can't see me paying much attention to the guy from this point onwards. I'd also question his publicity people sending this for review to a site that goes by the name "Get Ready To Rock" too... because this doesn't really "Rock" at all. Not my sort of thing. **

Review by Bill Leslie


Quebec based traditionalists who mix flute, fiddle and acoustic guitar along with some foot percussion and jaw harp. Now I love many forms of folk but this just leaves me totally indifferent.

The vocals are fine, sung in French, but the tunes seem very ordinary and if I never heard this again I wouldn't be fussed! Very talented musicians I am sure but not for me...**

Review by Jason Ritchie

N.F.D When The Sun Dies (Jungle Records)

N.F.D feature ex Fields of The Nephilim members Tony Pettit and Simon Rippin, alongside vocalist Peter 'Bob' White. 'When The Sun Dies' is from their forthcoming album 'Deeper Visions' and is a rhythmic, dark, goth orientated song- which is a little on the repetitive side.

The band will be touring to support the new album soon. **

Review by Nikk Gunns

DISTRUST No Good Deed Shall Go Unpunished (Locomotive Records )

Originally released in the spring of 2000 and now re-released.

Now, I'll admit that growlers are not normally high up in my play-lists but usually I can find something in the power of the music to hold my attention, unfortunately that's not the case here.

Even the wonderfully titled tracks such as No Government Cheese For This Cracker and Misery In Season fail to inspire. 'It's real simple, I hate everyone,' growls front man Shawn Hutchins at the beginning of opener Personality Instability. Well at least we know where we stand then Shawn!

Review by Dave Hunter

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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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