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

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

CHESS MOVES (Chess/Universal)

Legendary record label Chess Records was home to the likes of Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry and Etta James, amongst others.

Keith LeBlanc has now bought in fellow Sugarhill Rhythm Section members Doug Wimbish and Skip McDonald and, working with Chess, have pulled out some of their favourite tracks from the vast Chess back catalogue and almost created new songs with them.

Although the original vocals remain intact, having previously worked with the likes of Madonna, Seal, Living Colour and The Rolling Stones, these songs have been given a superb makeover.

There isn't a song in here that does not fit in and stand out tracks, amongst the 12 on offer, include Little Walter's 'Boom Boom (Out Go The Lights)', Muddy Water's 'I'm So Glad You're Mine', Howlin' Wolf's 'Killing Floor' and Eddie Boyd's Third Degree'.

The way the tracks have now been re-worked will open them up to a vast audience, to be enjoyed once again. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

BRIDE Skin For Skin (Retro Active Records)

Imagine a band somewhere between Marilyn Manson and Dio, with a hint of Iron Maiden, singing religious orientated lyrics. Bride have reformed after a few years apart and twenty years after forming the band sound as fresh as ever, this new CD 'Skin For Skin' is a powerful sounding record.

The band cover a range of subjects within the 14 tracks on the CD, including war, racism, sacrifice and general evil in the world. The highlights include the title track, 'Take The Medication', 'Hard To Kick', 'Super Ego Star' and the melodic tracks 'Breathless' and 'Hang On'.

The band has a loyal fan base worldwide and this CD is bound to add to that. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

SILENT SCREAM Creations From A Chosen Path (Escape Music)

Swedish band Silent Scream release their debut album 'Creations From A Chosen Path' in August- and a 13-track melodic rock masterpiece it is.

There is some superb musical interaction between the band members and vocalist Andi Kravljaca and highlights include the tracks 'My Way, My Time', 'Rise', 'Hold On', 'Can't Breathe' and 'The Chosen Path'.

If you like a bit of powerful melodic metal then this album will be right up your street. ****

Review by Nikk Gunns

MANAKIN In The Desert (RMD Records / Shellshock)

Singer/Songwriter Shake is a real life Sheikh from Bahrain with a name too long to pronounce, and this tight 4 piece band is his outlet for some actually quite decent songs. Bolstered by ex Nenah Cherry guitarist Charlie Casey, there's a distinct funk rock feel to the opening track "The Drug I Want".

The music is quite diverse; there's a nod at 80s punk/pop to "Gun" (think Billy Idol), a track pencilled in as single for September release. It's actually quite catchy and upbeat, with a strong bass line too.

"She Gonna Kill Me" is quite funky again, a touch of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The emphasis is on the song writing, and there's some good vocal harmonies too.

"Travel Man" is more acoustic, and quite haunting too. That is followed by "You And Me" which is much more melodic rock'n'roll.

The uptempo tracks on the album are quite uplifting without being too heavy.

Well worth a listen. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin

STEPHEN PEARCY Under My Skin (Evangeline Records)

Third solo album from the former Ratt frontman, and solid it is too.

From the off it is heavier that the Ratt material, although some of the glam / sleaze is retained, keep the songs catchy. On that note alone it will keep Ratt fans happy before we get to the quality of the songs.

"Big Nothin'" is riff led, and there's some very good guitar work. Pearcy and Erik Ferentinos share both lead and rhythm. "Watcha Doin'" is a tad slower, more melodic, and with a definite Ratt nod. The excellent guitar solo could have stood out more, not given enough in the mix.

"Time Slips Away" is a moodier number, very sleazy too.
A stand out is "In Outta Love", catchy in the way Heavy Pettin' were, only heavier.

If you like 80s metal given the 90s metal treatment, you'll like this. ***½

Review by Joe Geesin


Originally released in 1991 'Shades of Two Worlds' has been re-mastered and repackaged. The Allman Brothers are known for their lengthy jam session-type tunes and half of the songs on this 8 track CD come in at over 6 minutes. The tracks themselves are what you'd expect- bluesy, southern rock, and highlights include 'End Of The Line', 'Desert Blues', 'Midnight Man' and the Southern Boogie of 'Bad Rain'. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

THE VELVET HEARTS Into The World (Aspect Entertainment)

In 2007 The Velvet Hearts achieved 300,000 YouTube hits in 6 weeks and began to build a following on the site quicker than the likes of The Gorillaz and Gwen Stefani. It was at this point that producer Mark Pastoria became interested in the band and whisked them from the UK to his Motown recording studio to record what would become their debut album 'Into The World'.

This 11 track CD will appeal to fans of the likes of The Counting Crows and maybe even of Newton Faulkner.

Among the highlights are 'Talk', 'Soul Sister', 'Roadhouse' and the faster-paced rocker 'Mary Anne'. ***

Review by Nikk Gunns

CUTE IS WHAT WE AIM FOR Rotation (2008)

Second album by a band who define the term beloved of US music reviewers - 'cookie cutter'. Yes they sound like bits of Green Day, Fall Out Boy and very much like a poor man's Good Charlotte.

There are a couple of good tunes on here namely the catchy refrains of 'Hollywood' and 'Do What You Do' (although the intro sounds like it was lifted straight of the Who's 'Baba O'Reilly'). Download these for sure and grab a listen to the rest of the album as you may well like it.

You can't fault the production nor the band's musical ability in the pop punk field but you will have heard this all before and done so much better as well… **½

Review by Jason Ritchie

AIDAN JOLLY State Of Independence (2008)

Aidan Jolly is a singer/songwriter who has produced some good songs on here – the main drawback for me is his flat vocal delivery throughout.

The title track and ‘Radio Independence’ pull no punches lyrically following the time honoured tradition of using folk music as a vehicle for protest songs. The backing has an Iranian flavour thrown in as well thanks to the violin and kamanche playing of Jilah Bakhshayesh.

Strong songwriting but sadly Jolly’s vocals grate on these ears all too quickly. **½

Review by Jason Ritchie

GREG HOWE Sound Proof (Mascot Records)

Guitarist Greg Howe emerged from the Shrapnel Records roster in the late '80's alongside fellow shredders Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Paul Gilbert and Richie Kotzen. Howe has a distinctive style that blends jazz-fusion with a Steve Vai-like shredding and new CD 'Sound Proof' is his latest, self-produced, offering. There are 14 tracks on the CD, although 5 of these are narrative to the 9 remaining instrumental tracks.

Highlights include 'Morning View', 'Sunset In El Paso', title track 'Sound Proof' and a cover of Stevie Wonder's 'Tell Me Something Good'. **

Review by Nikk Gunns

RONNI LE TEKRO Kingdom Of Norway (Escape Music)

Ronni Le Tekro, is best known as the lead guitarist of melodic rockers, TNT. His distinctive sound and fast yet melodic playing has become a trademark of the Norweign band's sound. I have to admit, RLT, was one of my first guitar heroes, many years ago, he was part of the reason I took up the guitar.

Looking at RLT website, I count this as his 4th album under his own name. Having not heard the previous releases, I wasn't really expecting anything really.

Kingdom Of Norway, has 10 very pleasant melodic rock songs. Not much in the way of fiery guitar playing, in fact listening to this, you wouldn't think RLT is a guitarist's, guitarist.

Ronni has a rather drone like voice, one of those singing voices that can get annoying after a while. The album seems to plod along, without any real sense of direction, or purpose. Most enjoyable song is, the instrumental, 'From A Bird's Perspective'. Perhaps more of this and less vocals, might have made this a more enjoyable experience.

Nothing really memorable, nothing ground breaking, nothing to write home about.

Nice background music, that's all.  **

Review by Graham Boyle


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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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