Thursday, September 29, 2005


HELLOWEEN ‘Keeper Of The Seven Keys –The Legacy’ SPV (2005)

Helloween return back to their most successful period to date, that of the ‘Seven Keys’ albums released back in the late 80’s. Their last outing ‘Rabbit Don’t Come Easy’ was very good with short, sharp catchy melodic metal tunes but it did lack a one or two epic tracks. This is rectified and then some on this new album with ‘The King For A 1,000 Years’ throwing in all the epic metal ingredients – spoken word intro, choral background, racing guitar solos, big choruses. The single ‘Mrs. God’ is one the band’s best tunes in years whilst ‘Come Alive’ is another possible future single. Candice Night (Ritchie Blackmore’s other half) duets on ‘Light The Universe’, a power ballad if ever there was one! It’s a double CD as well (although the second disc clocks in at just under 40 minutes) complete with fantasy artwork and the ‘Mrs. God’ video.

Helloween are back doing what they do best – epic melodic metal and they certainly give the newer bands like Stratovarius, Dragonforce and Rhapsody a run for the money. Thos who haven’t really caught up with Helloween since the early 90’s will certainly like this album and should grab a copy pronto

Monday, September 26, 2005

10 Q's with TAMRAH AERYN

Tamrah Aeryn has released a stunning new album (Review) – a real ‘must have’ for fans of classy female vocalists especially fans of Kate Bush.

Q: What are you currently up to?

A: I have been busy working on my next album with working title “Poseidon’s Watercolor Dream”. It has taken so long to get this far with “Typical Gurl” that I have about five albums worth of material so I am working through it all and trying to decide which songs to put on the next album.
I have also been rehearsing my music with other musicians in preparation for gigging which I hope to do before the end of the year.

Q: Brief history of how you got into the music business and the style of music you play.

A: I have been composing and writing my own of songs for as long as I can remember.
I studied music theory and composition at the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire USA. During University, I became involved with some local bands and we gigged quite a bit and also appeared on the local public access television station. I then purchased a four-track tape recorder from the little money I made at that time and put about twelve of my original songs onto CD with the help of my brother. I carried a copy with me wherever I went. Some of the songs on the original demo were “Typical Gurl,” “Mr. Doublepersonality,” “Distant,” and “Weak,” which now appear on the final “Typical Gurl” album.
I became involved in the “Typical Gurl” project when I met Lionel Hicks in a Minneapolis night club. Because he was a producer of some merit, I gave him a copy of my home made CD. I didn’t really think he would be interested, and later he told me that he was sure it was going to be a “load of rubbish.” But I received a call from him the next day and he invited me to Oarfin Studios in Minneapolis where he was recording “Perfect Balance.” Lionel told me that he was pleasantly surprised when he heard the CD, and was impressed with the originality of my lyrics and the quality of my playing (I had played guitar and piano on the demo). I was shocked and elated at the same time to hear this considering the grass roots nature of my original recordings. Because Lionel thought we could “do something with this,” it was arranged that I would record my original songs professionally in POD studios in London with Lionel as producer.
Over the next two years, I recorded what would become “Typical Gurl.” The tracks were all recorded in London and mixed and mastered in Germany and in Minneapolis USA.
We went down various avenues trying to acquire record deals, and finally we signed a deal with Massacre Records of Germany for the European market.
I will be releasing the album in the UK independently in October with Frontier Promotions handling the promotion and Proper Distribution doing the distributing.

Q: You’ve just released your excellent debut album. Could you take us through the tracks and the stories behind the songs?

A: The songs on the album are a selection of songs I wrote over a period of a few years based on different moods/situations I had been in. Like most artists, my work is a partial reflection some of my life experiences. “Typical Gurl,” and “Mr. Doublepersonality,” are about the same person and are meant to be sarcastic responses. “Julie” is based on Julia from George Orwell’s “1984” and is partially about the paranormal phenomenon of “phone calls from the dead” where the living receive phone calls from the deceased as a warning or just to make contact. In this case, Julie is being haunted by herself.
“Valley Bridge” is about Valley Bridge (“the suicide bridge”) in Scarborough UK where I have had a few interesting haunted experiences. “Rising” has to do with certain prophesies given by Edgar Cayce “The Sleeping Prophet” and his visions of Lemuria and Atlantis. This is just to name a few...

Q: How do you hope to get heard above all the other singers vying for attention out there?

A: All I can really do is do my thing and hope that people will listen. Because I write my own songs and play piano and guitar, I hope this will give my longevity. I don’t see that there will be a problem with writer’s block anytime in the foreseeable future.

Q: Have you seen an upswing in all things rock over the past few years? How do you view the current live scene in the US as regards to new singers getting exposure?

A: Yes, I believe there has been an upswing in rock over the past few years. I believe the hype of pop music has subsided a bit, and people are becoming more interested in rock and what it stands for.
And yes, I believe that it is extremely important, for new artists especially, to get as much exposure as they can by showing their faces and gigging. People want to get out and see a live performer. It gives them an outlet and someone/something to aspire to. I have seen excellent bands/artists out there with incredibly good original songs who have acquired a massive following and yet have never been professionally recorded and have never received a record deal. But they are still creating waves just because they are out there and people are enjoying their music.

Q: How has the internet helped spread the word about the band? Do you think downloading is helping or killing music?

A: I believe the internet is a vitally important tool for publicity, and in this day and age the internet is essential for attaining a wide following. People who would not normally have access to certain music are discovering new music every day, and this is diversifying music audiences.
There is a difference between downloading a few songs to see if you will like a certain artist or album and then going out and buying it, and being a massive fan of an artist or band and then downloading everything they’ve ever done without purchasing one album. I have spoken to artists who receive mail from fans who ask for the lyrics because they have downloaded all of their songs from the internet. This is a bit of a slap in the face considering all of the time, effort, and money which go into making an album and perfecting the music and the artwork. Bands/artists who still have to work a nine to five job to support their music because more people download than buy the music, will suffer greatly and so will the music because they will not be able to afford to sustain the effort and expense.

Q: What other bands/artists do you admire and/or are an influence?

A: I admire quite a few bands/artists. I admire anyone who is original and creative and who is in tune with the music that they make. I have my old school rock favorites, some of which include, “Yes,” “Rush,” “King Crimson,” Led Zeppelin,” “Pink Floyd,” etc...And as far a females are concerned, I admire Grace Slick, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Bjork to name a few.
My main influences growing up were from folk albums which my parents had in the house. I used to listen to “Simon and Garfunkel”, “The Moody Blues”, “America,” and “The Carpenters,” so I must admit that I do have an affinity for Easy Listening music.

Q: What have been the highlights/lowpoints of your career to date?

A: The highlights of my career thus far have been being able to travel throughout the US, the UK, and other parts of Europe for recording purposes and for meetings with promoters, record companies, agents, etc...I have met many interesting people and have played with many talented musicians. I love putting ideas together and being proactive in the recording studio and slowly seeing ideas take shape and form something new. This is what I live for.
A low point for me was losing several thousand pounds on a video shoot for a music video that turned into nothing in the end. Recording music and trying to make oneself be heard is an incredibly painful and slow process. It is truly a labor of love.

Q: What ideally would you like to achieve by this time next year?

A: I don’t know what the future holds, but I plan to see a certain amount of success with “Typical Gurl,” and have yet another album released. I’d like to tour with my band and of course get my music heard by as many people as possible. I hope that people will be touched and transformed by my music. And I hope I can inspire other musicians to get out there and play their original material as well.

Q: What CDs do you currently have available and where can they be purchased from?

A: My debut CD “Typical Gurl” will be found in shops in the UK from October 3rd through Proper Distribution, and currently, this CD can be obtained from my website:

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

DEEP PURPLE ‘Rapture of the Deep’

DEEP PURPLE ‘Rapture of the Deep’ Edel Records (2005) Edel

Deep Purple and other classic bands of their vintage are caught in a Catch 22 in that older fans expect to hear the classics and have high expectations based on a band’s past performance and when a band does release new material they often get criticized as it doesn’t meet the classic sound of their past! For me personally I have enjoyed most of Purple’s output post ‘Perfect Strangers’ bar ‘The Battle Rages On’ and ‘Abandon’. This new album sees them carry on from where ‘Bananas’ left off with a few new twists added along the way.

Things get underway well after the spacey intro to ‘Money Talks’ – could easily have come off the ‘Perfect Strangers’ album. Sadly for me ‘Wrong Man’ and ‘Don’t Let Go’ lack any appeal but the groovy bass/organ coupling on ‘Girls Like That’ and the ballad ‘Clearly Quite Absurd’ is a typical Purple ballad although it lacks a really big chorus. The two stand out tracks are ‘Back To Back’ where Don Airey really takes centre stage with some cool keyboards and guitarist Steve Morse trades neat and precise solos with him. ‘MTV’ is a Ian Gillan classic with its spoken word delivery and barbed lyrics aimed at classic rock radio that play all the old tunes but never have time for the newer material by established bands like Deep Purple. ‘Before Time Began’ gives a progressive end to the album and again Don Airey & Steve Morse trade solos with each other.

Overall it is a good, solid Deep Purple album and one that certainly sees Don Airey stamp his sound on the band, although strangely Steve Morse’s solos are hidden away at times in the overall mix. Fans will enjoy the album which is by no means a classic but certainly a cut above their previous two albums ‘Abandon’ and ‘Bananas’.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

TNT 'All The Way To The Sun' CD review

TNT ‘All The Way To The Sun’ MTM Music (2005)

Hot on the heels of the excellent Starbreaker album Tony Harnell returns with his TNT band mates and makes a fine follow-up to last year’s ‘My Religion’. On the first few plays it is less instant than previous works but boy do the tunes work their way into your mind. ‘A Fix’ and ‘Too Late’ realy hammer the riffs down with Harnell on fine form, whilst ‘Me An I’ is a classy melodic piece featuring great harmonies. Ronni Le Tekro gets a workout on ‘Mastic Pines’ (eh?) although this is a fine acoustic based strumfest as opposed to all out fast ‘n’ flashy playing. Surprise comes in the cover of ‘What A Wonderful World’ and although I am sure some reviews will knock this track as it seems out of place I personally love it! The arrangements are very Queen like right down to the Brian May sounding guitar parts. ‘The Letter’ still doesn’t hit the spot for me but overall another high quality melodic hard rock release just proving that the genre isn’t dead and that bands can keep their fans whilst progressing musically.

Monday, September 19, 2005

DIO `Holy Diver' Rock Candy (2005)

Rock Candy Records

Rock Candy, the label founded by respected journos turned label owners Derek Oliver (his Wimpwire columns in Kerrang! were always essential reading) and Dante Bonutto (he worked at Universal prior to starting this label), continue their winning start re-releasing this classic Dio debut. Sadly no extra tracks but you do get an interview with Ronnie Dio, a very interesting and informative inlay sleeve essay from Dante Bonutto and its remastered. Fo rme this was one of THE 80's metal albums. Forget your hair metal wannabes like Poison, cod metal chuggers like Accept or those prats in drag Ratt, Dio were the classic metal band of the 80's releasing this album, `The Last In Line' and `Dream Evil' – classic albums (we'll skip over `89's `Lock Up The Wolves'!).

With a line-up of Dio, Jimmy Bain (ex-Rainbow), Vinne Appice (ex- Black Sabbath) and young guitarist Vivian Campbell (now of course in Def Leppard) the line-up smoked! Only one filler on the wjhole album for me , `Shame On The Night' and even that is still listenable.
Tracks liked the rifftastic `Holy Diver', the headbanging `Gypsy' and the simplistic yet effect keyboards on `Rainbow In The Dark' are just a few highlights.

Classic and every home should have a copy –`nuff said.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

TR3NITY + CREDO gig review

TR3NITY + CREDO Stripes Bar, Brentford FC Friday 16th September 2005

A night of two quality progressive rock bands with Credo up first playing only their second gig in six years! They were plugging their new album, ‘Rhetoric’ which is out on the 19th September. ‘Too Late’ was a simple but effective number – no overt cluttering like some prog music is (less is more at times). Whilst ‘The Game’ mixed heavy passages with lighter keys/guitar workouts – not bad at all. A very accomplished band musically and they are bound to get even tighter live as they play live more. Can’t wait to hear the album!
Tr3nity played at Stripes back in February and I was very impressed by their music – its progressive in the truest sense in that they mix some jazz workouts (normally I’d run from a venue at the mention of that four letter word!), Floydesque guitar passages with classic prog music like Kansas and Hogarth era Marillion. Highlights include ‘Eyes Of A Child’, a song that easily transcends the genre and with airplay could win the band a whole new fanbase. ‘More Than I Deserve’ again could benefit from airplay with its catchy chorus and musical arrangements. The thing that makes me chuckle about prog bands is when they say its their final number and it is one that is a twenty minute workout! In this case it was ‘The Last Great Climb’ that touches musical base with Pink Floyd in the guitar and Tr3nity’s own sound in the keys/bass/drums passages. Despite the shortened set they went down well with the crowd and I urge fans of well played rock music to track these two bands down asap.

Jason Ritchie


Thursday, September 15, 2005


One from the Classic Rock Newswire vaults from Aug 2003. Lightspeed are a very accomplished progressive rock band and their 'Waves' is one for fans of Saga, Rush etc.

Bass player Rod Chappell, along with his brother Gary, formed
Canadian prog/AOR rockers Lightspeed back in 1977 (Rod was previously
a member of Zon, whose early albums are due out on Escape very
soon!). They are about to release their latest album, '3' and for
more on the band check out their excellent website -

1. What are you currently up to? (E.g. touring/studio, etc.)

We (Lightspeed) are currently doing the finishing touches on our
latest recording LIGHTSPEED 3. There are just a few tracks that need
some refining. I'm scheduled to return to Canada in October of this
year. At that time we'll be able to close the door on the studio side
of the project and prepare to have it released. There's been talk of
the band doing some support dates over in Europe afterwards and we're
all excited about that. I love writing and recording new material,
but playing live is where the band shines brightest. Touring is a lot
more enjoyable as compared with the way it was done back in the early
days...nicer hotel rooms, more time between shows, etc

2. What has been the highlight(s) and low point(s) of your career to

The thing about Lightspeed that sets it apart from any other
recording band I've been in is that we've been close friends for many
years. If we didn't play together, we'd hang out with one another.
Over the 20 plus years we've been together we've seen each other
through countless changes - births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and
that really solidifies a group.
As far as career highlights, I think the day we were informed that
our CD "SO...EXACTLY WHERE ARE WE?" hit the charts in Japan was
quite a thrill for me. Another high point was playing The Gods of
Rock in the UK a few years ago. We hadn't played there before and I
wondered how we would do. I was overcome by the response we received.
Can't wait to hit the UK stages again!
I've been racking my brain trying to come up with an interesting
low point, but I just can't think of any. The thing that I love about
Lightspeed is that we just do what we do. If people dig it, that's
GREAT. However, the fun is in doing it. Some things we've done have
been greatly received, some not so. But we enjoyed them all equally.
I suppose if I were to pick a low point it would be back in 1980 when
I decided I didn't want to tour any longer and (temporarily) left the
band. I was in limbo musically for quite some time until I met up
with our drummer Terry and began writing and recording again. This
brought about the reforming of the band and we haven't looked back

3. How did you first get into the music business? Who have been your
main influences on your career to date?

I can't remember a time I wasn't in some kind of band. My brother
and I started our first band before we were in our teens. We played
along with Beatles albums. We sounded great as long as the album was
playing. I got a big break when I was 18. I auditioned for and got
the position in a band from Toronto that was being put together
called ZON. It was a great group and I learned an incredible amount
from Denton who was very experienced. Although I left the band
shortly before the first album was recorded, I had gained enough
experience to be able to put Lightspeed together. I understand that
the ZON albums are going to be re-released by Escape Music soon,
which is great as I wrote a couple of songs on the first album ASTRAL
As far as influences regarding my writing is concerned, I would
say that Jon Anderson is a HUGE influence in that regard. My musical
outlook changed dramatically the first time I heard CLOSE TO THE
EDGE. I wouldn't say that I write music that resembles Yes all that
much, but the idea of exploring songs and themes musically, sometimes
on perhaps an 'epic' scale excited me greatly. Before Jon, my biggest
musical influence would be John Lennon circa Revolver to Abbey Road
days. Go ahead, ask my any questions about the Beatles!!!

4. What are your personal highlights on the band's new
album 'Lightspeed 3' and why?

Lightspeed 3 is our best recording to date in my opinion. I think
we've matured in the studio a great deal and the addition of Johnny B
who engineered most of the pieces added a lot. It helped to have
an 'outside' ear present during the recording of the tracks. Having
said that, I'm sure Terry will be engineering our next recording as
he had done in the past. He has completed the studio in his new house
and has a killer set up. With me living so far away from the boys, I
think it would help speed up future recordings to have Terry running
the recording also doesn't hurt that he's a GREAT

5. What has been the live highlight for Lightspeed so far? How
easy/hard as it been to get gigs and any countries you would like to
play in the future?

It doesn't really matter what kind of gig it is...We LOVE to be on
stage. Back when we toured full time, our motto was "It doesn't
matter if we're playing for 80 people or 8000 people, we put on the
same show." It wasn't just a motto, it's the way we are. We have a
lot of fun when we play and we put everything we have into each show.
I don't think it's going to be too hard to get gigs once
Lightspeed 3 is released. I've made a lot of connections over the
past few years and have talked with several people about having us
play overseas. So far we've been in touch with people from Sweden,
Switzerland and the Netherlands. Nothing etched in stone as of yet,
but the interest is definitely there. And we always put a few gigs
together back in our hometown when we feel like having a big party.

6. Are there any styles of music you'd like to explore in the future?
Any other musicians you'd really like to work with if given the

As a matter of fact, I'm working on a project right now that is
somewhat different than what we do in Lightspeed. I'm recording a
solo CD entitled THE NEXT STEP. It's a concept piece that will
actually be released in 2 parts as there are two CDs worth of music.
The players involved are from different countries throughout the
world...many of whom I've never met except through the internet. The
guitarist Janne Stark is from a Swedish band called Locomotive
Breath. The keyboard player Ram is from the US. His band is Heavy
Reign. Tom from The Muffins is playing sax and flute. Steven from
Starcastle is doing some drums. I have a violinist from the US,
another saxist from Luxembourg, another Swede doing some sitar
tracks...and the list goes on. Although it's not a Lightspeed
recording, the boys in the band are doing some tracks for me as well.
It's been a lot of fun working on this one. It's somewhat
more 'progressive' than what I write for Lightspeed. There are some
very long songs throughout the 160 minutes of music.
As far as musicians I'd like to work with....I had talked with
Roye T. from Nektar when I first started working on it and he had
said he wished to play some guitars on THE NEXT STEP. However,
shortly after we had set things up, Nektar reformed and has been
doing great ever since so he hasn't had the time to get together with
me. I'm hoping that we'll be able to do some recording together in
the future. I'm also doing some lead vocals for Rob from Visual Cliff
(US) right now. He's a great guitarist who normally records
instrumental music, but is doing some songs with vocals on his new
CD. I'm having a great time with this one.
Also, I'm doing a small project with some of the original band
mates from ZON. Pat (one of the original drummers) recently passed
away and we're recording a song I wrote called "CAST MY CARES (to the
Wind)" together after not playing together in 25 years. We're going
to put the song on-line for download and all of the proceeds will be
going to Pat's wife and daughter. We will be in the studio while I'm
back in Canada in October so we hope to have it available shortly
thereafter. Rik Emmett will most likely be doing some guitar work on
it as well as he and Pat were quite close. Pat (The Count) is greatly

7. How do you view the current progressive rock scene? How do you
think the scene has changed over the past five years?

Progressive rock has always been more of an underground scene,
even in its hay day during the 70's. With exception of the top bands
like Yes, Genesis and ELP, most of the bands played to small crowds
in more or less a 'cult' environment. The biggest difference today is
that we now have the Internet which unites the fans from all over the
world into one area. I find this VERY exciting. I don't think that
the prog scene will ever be bigger than it is right now, but by being
able to unite all of the fans worldwide, one can find a big enough
audience to make it work.
As far as bands presently recognized in the world of progressive
music, I listen to a lot of Porcupine Tree, Flower Kings and a new
band from New York called Frogg Cafe.

8. What Lightspeed music would you recommend to a new listener?

It depends upon the listener's particular taste in music. If one
were into mostly straight AOR, I'd say our earlier recordings would
be right up your alley. But if one were into more 'proggy' AOR, you
would find the new CD quite exciting. I think Lightspeed 3 is more
representative of where the band is at these days.

9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?

Spare time???? I've HEARD of that (laughs) Well, having a family
really changes one's life. I'm lucky in that I've been able to set up
my computer/studio right next to the living room so I can still be
around my wife and kids while I'm writing and recording. If I have a
moment free, I like to watch BAD sci-fi with my wife Cori and watch
the Simpsons with my youngest daughter Juli. I try to spend as much
time with my family as I can...I've got the best kids on Earth!!!!
It's hard having family 1700 miles away in Canada and family here as
well, but we seem to be making this work.
When I do get some actual spare time, I plan to finish working on
my novel THE KEEPER. Part 1 is on-line for free on the Lightspeed
website. It's a fantasy
novel that I started when we were touring as something to have fun
with. I don't take it too seriously, just for fun. Perhaps when I
finish the trilogy, I'll try to get it published. The other thing I
like to do is work on my artwork. Like The Keeper, it's done just for
the fun of it. This too is on the website.

10. Message to your fans...

Many of you have waited a LONG time for the new Lightspeed CD.
Well, your wait is almost over. We appreciate your patience and your
loyalty and guarantee you'll find that it to be worth it. 2004 is
going to be a busy year for us while we promote Lightspeed 3 and a
lot more people are going to get a chance to see us perform live than
in previous years. The great thing about fans of Prog/AOR is, unlike
the world of pop music, the fans stay with you through thick and
thin. Without the fans, there'd be no way we could continue to write
and record the type of music we love and we are so grateful for your
continuous support!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

JOE JORDAN & ALAN BALL autobiographies

ALAN BALL ‘Playing Extra Time’ & JOE JORDAN ‘Behind The Dream’

Two recently published in paperback football autobiographies that are both very readable and a cut above the usual ‘ghost written’ books that are very tedious to read. Alan Ball was a World Cup hero of 1966 and my interest lies in his time as Stoke’s manager and boy does he lay into the Stoke board and fans! I remember travelling back from an away defeat (West Brom I think) and fair play to the man he came on the supporters’ coaches and listened to the fans concerns/rants/abuse. Alan Ball does take a pop a few players and clubs plus reveals some of his personal life where he lost his wife to cancer and his daughter is battling against it now.

Joe Jordan like Alan Ball suffered heavily in his personal life losing his brother. On the field I remember him from his 1978 World Cup exploits (as an eight year old I had to go to bed as the games were on late UK time and my dad left a note for me when I woke up of the all important Holland score) through to his days at Man Utd and Leeds Utd. Again he managed Stoke for a brief time and as an assistant to fellow Scot Lou Macari (one of Stoke’s best managers in the past twenty years). Very short book, just over 200 pages and not bad but I would have liked more on his current past and the Scotland playing days.

For football fans both are well rounded and readable books.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

10 Q's with AL KOOPER

1. What are you currently up to? (recording,gigs etc etc)

my ears!!!! I am mostly promoting my new album Black Coffee; doing more interviews than a human was ever meant to do. I am not recording anything at the moment but a new message on my phone machine. I am playing gigs whenever they are scheduled (see and click on LIVE) I co-wrote the liner notes for the soundtrack album NO DIRECTION HOME , Martin Scorsese's documentary on Bob Dylan. I also make a few brief screen appearances in Part 2 of the film itself.

2. In a career that spans over forty years, can you tell us some of the highlights - what particular sessions, bands and/or events stand out for you. What album do you regard as your biggest achievement, production-wise, and why?

You have cheated here. These are two questions here. I will answer the first one
a) getting the oppurtunity to turn pro at age 14 in 1958 by being guitarist in the pop group The Royal Teens
b) Having a #1 record as a songwriter in America with This Diamond Ring. Also top twenty with Gene Pitney's I Must Be Seeing Things. Wrote the Rockin Berries song "The Water Is Over My Head" as well
c) playing on Like A Rolling Stone, Highway 61 Revisted album and Blonde on Blonde.
d) playing on You Cant Always Get What You Want by the Rolling Stones
e) All Those Years Ago by George Harrison

(Please expand as much as possible!)

If you saw a recent full length photo of me, you would know that I already have expanded as much as possible

3. Tell us a bit more about the Hendrix sessions for 'Electric Ladyland'. What was he like to work with and how did he influence your own guitar playing?

Jimi and I were neighbors. We both lived on West 12th Street in NYC. Bumped into each other ALL the time.
He was basically, a shy wonderful person. I think we were both influenced by the same people but he was
way more gifted a guitarist than I was. Curtis Mayfield and Albert King. Without them - no Hendrix as we knew him.

4. Guitar or keyboard? Which instrument do you prefer and why? What make of guitar are you playing these days and any hints and tips for would-be

Three cheats this time - I'll be lenient and answer the first two. The third one is useless anyway
I am most comfortable playing the Hammond B3 organ. I lost my lead playing ability on guitar a few years ago, but I still feel that I am a mighty r&b/soul rhthym guitar player; a lost art in the millennium. My favorite guitar is my 1962 Fiesta Red Jazzmaster. I never fly that guitar. I bought a Japanese one that plays quite well and thats what I take on the road, if I am playing solo somewhere.

5. How has your own musical style changed through the years, and where are you currently at (favoured style, genre etc) ?

It hasn't changed much at all. I play an r&b/soul influenced horn-driven type of music that is pretty extinct in the world today; kinda like The Stone's Sticky Fingers period. My hopes are that younger people hear it and enjoy it because they could miss this music entirely in today's world.

6. Who was/is/are the biggest influences on the music you play?

Ray Charles, Jimmy Smith, Booker T, Hank Crawford, Steve Cropper, Horace Silver, Scotty Moore and Reggie Young

7. Tell us some more about your recent trip to Japan. Aside from the music, what do you make of the culture?

Any country that accepts my music for what it is, is a culture I can easily deal with.
I recently bought a shamisen (japanese 3 stringed instrument) there, and am teaching myself to play blues on it.

8. What would you say are the lowpoints in your career to date?

probably being so swindled by so many and being thrown out of Blood Sweat & tears, a band I assembled.
Actually, in retrospect, I got out just in time before Bobby Colomby turned it into the lounge band of all time.

9.What do you think of the current music scene, do you use the Internet to research and locate new music, and have you succumbed to the i-Pod. If yes, what have you got loaded on your player at the moment that you think
we should listen to?

I've been an iPod guy since the very beggining.
I think; therefore iPod.
That is engraved on the back of my latest pod.
I listen to the new releases on iTunes every week and download what I like. Each month I post on my website what I have downloaded to help the newer artists I support and also to help my fand get righjt to some great music.
My faves at the moment are
a) Better Get A Broom" by Hella
b) Crawlin Up My Bad Side by Weather
c) Don't Trip On Your Way Out by Shimmer
Nikka Costa's second album is MUCH better than her first - it rocks!

10. Outside of music, what interests do you pursue in your free time

(leisure activity, etc) What other goals would you like to achieve?

You are such a cheater, Jason.......
I play videogames on my computer, support a few of my local sports teams - Red Sox and Patriots,
and cook a lot. I hardly leave the house except when I am on the road. Being home is my permanent vacation.

11. Message for your fans?

If everyone in New York City contributed a dime, than one starving child could get one seat to The Rolling Stones show at Madison Square Garden.

Friday, September 09, 2005

YES ‘The Word Is Live’ 3 CD-Set, Rhino (2005)

Wow! This 3-CD live set features all previously unreleased live tracks bar two previously released BBC tracks ‘Then’ and ‘For Everyone’ from 1970. It covers the bands live shows from 1970 up 1986’s Big Generator’ tour. First the package itself… A lovely book format with copious sleeve notes including Yes fans live show recollections plus an introduction from Greg Lake.

Lots to enjoy including ‘Hold On’ and ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ (I am a big fan of the Trevor Rabin years!) through to ‘Roundabout’, a tune that still sounds fresh all these years later (the track on here dates from 1979). It’s interesting to track the changes in the band’s live performance none more so than Jon Anderson’s stage banter that gets much more confident down the line. The band’s cover of Paul Simon’s ‘America’ stands out on disc one whilst the medley on disc two sees the band switching from tunes and time changes with ease.

The words essential are often bandied about without thinking but this live set really is an essential for fans of the band due to the sheer wealth of unreleased live material, much of it sourced from Steve Howe’s collection. Glorious!

Monday, September 05, 2005

IAN RANKIN - Fleshmarket Close

More on the book here

Just out in paperback in the UK is the latest in the excellent Inspector Rebus series from one of my favourate crime writers Ian Rankin. Never afraid to tackle isues of the day this novel revolves around the killing of an illegal immigrant and again sees Rebus examining his own personal beliefs. Ramkin really taps into the darker side of life and the human psyche whilst maintaining some chinks of light and humour so its not all 'doom & gloom'.

Any fan of well written crime novels will enjoy this latest Rebus book and I'd also personally recommend 'The Falls' and 'Black & Blue'.

Friday, September 02, 2005


1. What are you currently up to? (E.g. touring/studio, etc.)

Wrapping up the Lost In The Translation World Tour, next up, release
of the Soul SirkUS debut & then tour to begin early 2005.

2. Could you take us through some personal highlights of the new
album 'Lost In Translation'?

The overall freedom of doing the album(s) I want to do. I have a
respect, control as well as trust to do all the things that are
churning in me. It's nice to have the background I do as the label
I'm with don't interfere with my creativity.

3. 'Lost In Translation' is possibly the heaviest record you've done -
was this a conscious decision or was this how the songwriting turned

Absolutely, I wanted something meatier than Prism or Love Parade, The
songs have a lot of weight live, something I wanted more of for this

4. What have been the most memorable live shows for you and why?

Spain & Brasil, the 2 countries have a hot blooded passion for music,
love & life, we had some memorable moments in both.

5. Soul Sirkus - the album is out in December and is eagerly awaited.
How did the band come together and is this a long term project or
a 'one off'?

It's a rather long story that can be found pretty much everywhere on
the web now, it started with Neal & I, the rest came together very
fast & now we're ready to make our mark.

6. What are the future plans for Talisman?

Don't know yet, but I do know we will always have some life in that
band in some form or another.

7. How did the recent Australian tour go and what were the highs/lows
of the tour?

It was all great, a learning experience as well as a prosperous
1...I'll certainly return soon, but know what avenues to attack

8. Have you seen any increased interest/demand for melodic rock over
the past few years or do you feel it's a genre that has seen it's
glory days?

It's up & down, it all depends on people's economic situations
really. People want to support their music but I find the same story
everywhere, finances have a lot to do with attendances, especially
when competing against other artists the same nights or weeks apart
from each other, this forces the fans to choose 1 or 2 as they can't
afford the lot of us. But when it's good, it's really good.

9. Of all the songs and albums you sung on down the years which have
been the most memorabble and why? Who would you still like to
write/perform with?

Most memorable, Soul SirkUS, would like to collaborate with....Prince.

10. Message to your fans...

Chapter 1 of JSS completed, Chapter 2, about to begin!!!

JEFF SCOTT SOTO gig review

JEFF SCOTT SOTO Underworld, London 1st September 2005


Three band bill tonight although sadly no Pride as billed on the posters outside the venue, shame as I was looking forward to seeing them live. Humanity were first up at just after 7:30 so as a result the crowd was sparse to say the least! Humanity play a riff heavy brand of classic metal – nothing really stood out for me I am afraid and even the keyboards seemed there to bookend each song. Okay to listen to live but nothing out of the ordinary. Black Balloon were on next and their brand of classic rock riffs mixed in with pop punk was quite appealing. Their last song was the nest (not because it was the last song!) as it featured some tasty slide playing and seemed to go down well the crowd, who by this time had swelled in numbers to around 150 or so.

Jeff Scott Soto is the consummate frontman and can turn his voice to virtually any style of singing, as was witnessed later on in the set. A joy to see a Soul SirkUS number added to his solo set in the shape of the hard rocking ‘New Position’. Old favourites on display included ‘Eyes Of Love’, slightly marred by too loud a bass in the mix, ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ and Humanimal’s ‘Waiting 2 Be Found’. Off his last solo album we got ‘Soul Divine’ and the mellower ‘If This Is he End’. Guitarist Howie Simon took lead vocals for a Doobie Brothers (I think) cover whose name escapes me.

An acoustic interlude saw some covers including Queen’s ‘Love Of My Life’ (shame there weren’t more Queen songs in the set bar a snippet of ‘we Will Rock You’ later in the set). Closing the set was ‘High Time’ mixed in with some classic rock covers. We got the Scorpions’ Rock You Like A Hurricane’, Rainbow’s ‘All Night Long’ and even a Dave Lee Roth impression on ‘Yankee Rose’! The good thing about JSS solo gigs is that the emphasis is on great music and having a good time as these covers show.

Encore time saw the ‘Boogie Knights’ medley with all sorts of funky stuff going on including Wild Cherry’s ‘Play That Funky Music’ and ‘Macho Man’! Another great gig and why JSS is still playing small venues like this is beyond me as he is made for the big stage and light shows. A ‘must see’ live performer if ever there was one.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane relief fund

If you can please donate to the Red Cross who are helping with the New Orleans disaster relief efforts.

Red Cross
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