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Thursday, 22 June 2017

Reviews: Cheap Trick, Styx, Wizard (Reviews By Paul)

Cheap Trick: We’re All Right (Universal Music)

Having waited seven years for the arrival of Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello, Cheap Trick is straight back at ya with album no.18. There is no real change of style with We’re All Right, just high tempo pop rock from start to finish. Robin Zander is on top form whilst the rock ‘n’ roll guitar of Rick Nielsen is scintillating. The opening salvo is classic Cheap Trick, You Got It Going On and first single Long Time Coming each just over three minutes each and pure bubble gum. There’s more than an edge of Flush The Fashion era Alice Cooper on the fast moving Radio Lover, the radio friendly Lolita is sure to become a live favourite and the continuing Beatles vibe that has always flowed through the band remains intact throughout.

Brand New Name On An Old Tattoo is reminiscent of the hard edge that Lennon, McCartney and co possessed but it’s the cover of Blackberry Way (originally by The Move) which really reminds you why the band remain known as the Japanese Beatles. Whilst We’re All Right may not have quite the initial impact that last year’s Bang, Zoom, Crazy…Hello did, it is still a demonstration why Cheap Trick remain one of the most loved rock outfits of all time. Their rare visit to Bristol at the end of this month should be quite an evening. 9/10

Styx: The Mission (Universal Music)

I’ve never had much time for Styx. Formed in 1972 in Chicago, their high-pitched harmonies and musical theatre style really didn’t push my buttons in any way. They were always there in the background, the odd-track appearing on Planet Rock but never really grabbing the attention, apart from the ghastly Babe. The Mission is their 16th full release, and arrives 12 years after their last album, Big Bang Theory. The Mission is a concept album about a mission to Mars. With most of the vocals delivered by guitarist Tommy Shaw, who was also the main composer, the album moves from the high paced and rocky Gone Gone Gone to the much more sedate Locomotive.

It’s a polished, beautifully constructed album, as you would expect for a band of such stature. The guitar work of Shaw and fellow guitarist James ‘JY’ Young is unsurprisingly of high quality, although the synthesizers tend to dominate on many of the tracks. The album moves smoothly through the story with tracks such as Time May Bend, the six-minute Red Storm and the operatic Khedive before concluding with Mission To Mars, another graceful, synth-led tune. I guess if you like the harmonies of Yes and ELO then you are likely to be a fan of Styx. I can appreciate the cleverness and musicianship. It just doesn’t float my boat. 7/10

Wizard: Fallen Kings (Massacre Records)

Formed way back in 1989, Wizard is a German power metal outfit who are about as close to Manowar as you could get without rubbing yourself in olive oil whilst dressed in a fur loin cloth and shouting “Death to false metal” whilst running down your local high street. This is album no.11 for the band, and a demonstration as to why the German nation love DeMaio and co so much.

We Are The Masses, track number 2 on this opus could sit comfortably on any Manowar release, so closely does it follow the blue print. Vocalist Sven D’Anna’s high pitched signing and the huge sound. Tracks such as Live Your Life, Brothers In Spirit and Let Us Unite will have you raising your arms in homage. It’s anthemic, rife with epic imagery and rather ludicrous to be honest. Competently performed, it’s all just a little contrived. I’d save your cash for something with a little more to give. 6/10

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