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Monday, 27 April 2015

Reviews: Bachman, Steve Hackett, Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts

Bachman: Heavy Blues (Linus Entertainment)

Randy Bachman is a bonafide rock legend having been a part of two of the most successful rock bands of all time The Guess Who and Bachman Turner Overdrive (a band who's song Takin' Care Of Business became Elvis's motto). So after his reunion a few years ago with Fred Turner many in rock circles sat in anticipation of what he would do next. Well Heavy Blues is that project, he has hooked up with bassist Anna Ruddick, drummer Dale Anne Brendan (touring drummer in the Tommy musical) and producer extraordinaire Kevin Shirley, with a bone shattering rhythm section and the king of the retro production on board, Bachman is all set to amaze and this album does so in spades. The project was originally discussed by Bachman with Neil Young and as such Young and a cavalcade of guest soloists play on the album, most are in the rock or blues category with Joe Bonamassa, Scott Holliday (Rival Sons), Jeff Healy and Peter Frampton all contributing their skills to Bachman's knack for writing big tasty riffs. This album is full of those previously mentioned riffs; pitched deep in the mid 60's style of bluesy hard rock with nods to Blue Cheer, Cream, The Guess Who and even The Who (a band that seems to be huge influence for Bachman); this influence is most evident on The Edge which sounds exactly like Won't Get Fooled Again mainly because of the big guitar stabs and Brendan's Moon-like drumming, Ton Of Bricks has the same bombast of Zep, where as Bad Child simmers like a Joey Bones song and features the man himself on the leads. In fact nearly all the songs that feature a guest artist have musical similarities to their guests, see Little Girl Lost which has cacophony of noise Neil Young excels in and the title track which is totally Frampton. In fact if you love any of the guests mentioned, 60's and 70's blues rock or indeed one of the most recognisable voices in rock then Heavy Blues will be right up your alley, check it out and crank it up. 8/10

Steve Hackett: Wolflight (Century Media)

This is Steve Hackett's twenty second (!) album and the former Genesis guitarist once again brings his ethereal style of progressive guitar playing to the masses. This is proper classic prog from the Canterbury scene drawing in folk, jazz and classical guitar playing (Earthshine) to create a renaissance-like sound that features Hackett's fluid guitar playing. Things kick off with the opening ominous instrumental Out Of Body which is just that before the title track blends the classical guitar playing with a more heavyweight clean electric sound that draws the storm, Love Song To A Vampire is a haunting melodic, Gothic track that draws in the dark romanticism of the vampire legends. In fact the whole album is dramatic, stirring and moves through many different phases showing Hackett, his wife and his keyboardist's writing and composition skills, as well the man himself's great voice. King is actually as important as Hackett creating the atmosphere that these songs rely so heavily on, see pop prog of The Wheel's Turning and the Mediterranean influences of Corycian Fire and Black Thunder which could both be the soundtrack to a classical era film, Black Thunder would also work on a Western. This record is a journey through the musical spectrum with sounds drawn from across the world, yet they all fit perfectly on this well crafted album. Hackett shows no signs of slowing down and with 22 albums under his belt he has the most prolific work rate of all the members of Genesis and with this album (his best for a while) he shows that much like that documentary of his old band he is much overlooked. A talented, special and intensely musical release for serious prog heads and fans of great music! 9/10    

Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts: Blaster (earMusic)

Possibly the the most controversial figure in rock music, Scott Weiland's career is a tale of (repeated) tragedy and (eventual) redemption all punctuated with some great music. From Stone Temple Pilots, through Velvet Revolver (where he managed to out Axl - Axel Rose) and now into his solo career (bypassing the Art Of Anarchy another supergroup Weiland recorded with and has now distanced himself from) Weiland has always surrounded himself with consummate musicians and created some great songs. So what of this his 'fifth' solo album? Credited as Scott Weiland & The Wildabouts new are firmly in Weiland territory with fuzzy, guitar heavy songs that are the perfect foil for Weiland's attitude filled but drone-like vocals. He is drawing heavily from his influences with Way She Moves being Weiland 101, Hotel Rio is punchy, Amethyst is a glam-rocker that Ian Anderson would love and White Lightning has whiff of The Black Keys about it. There is problem however as Scott does seem to be in neutral on this record rarely moving out of his comfort zone. It's not as exciting or indeed creative as it could be, maybe this is because of the lack of other known musicians, I don't know but it's only on the grunge of Blue Eyes (which features Smashing Pumpkins James Iha) the surf rock of Youth Quake and Beach Pop and the country of Circles that he strays from his template and gets interesting, for the most part this is Weiland by the numbers with a cover of 20th Century Boy that no-one needs. There is enough here to keep your attention but it is just not enough to keep you enthralled. Solid but nothing more. 7/10              


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