Monday, 19 November 2012


'Celebration Day' heralds the unique, creative chemistry and craftsmanship which first immortalised Led Zeppelin with 1975's classic 'The Song Remains The Same'. With Jason Bonham eloquently and capably filling his father’s footsteps (demonstrating an ‘encyclopaedic knowledge’ of the essence of Zep rhythms), John Paul Jones on keyboards and bass and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant in the driving seat, the stage is set for a memorable DVD event for the millions who were unfortunate enough not to be present for the sold out London gig in 2007. This 16 track exultation of well loved tracks and gig footage (from 'rousing' opener 'Good Times Bad Times' to an epic rendition of 'Kashmir') enables rock's premier band to stand up and be counted ‘to a fresh young audience’ as suggested by guitarman Jimmy Page. The old magic is still strong!

Amanda Gentle

Tuesday, 30 October 2012


Black Country Communion return with their third studio offering ‘Afterglow’, another blistering blues and soul infused rock album. No drawn out improvisations here, just solid and instantly 'catchy' songs ('Midnight Sun', ‘Big Train’, 'Confessor' and 'The Circle' being prime examples) featuring great playing from musical masters Bonamassa/Bonham/Sherinian, an excellent production job courtesy of Kevin Shirley and sublime 'Purplesque' lead vocals from ‘The Voice of Rock’ Glenn Hughes. The epic title track features an understated Led Zep intro before taking off in a totally different direction allowing guitar god Joe Bonamassa to launch into a spectacular solo. Perhaps the real uniqueness of BCC is the seamless way they transcend the notion of rock sub-genres delivering a clearly defined classic rock sound that is both organic and original!

Christopher Franklin

Monday, 22 October 2012


Every once in a while guitar virtuoso Neal Schon takes a major detour from his main day job as Journey's lead guitarist to indulge in a different side of his creativity. His seventh solo offering 'The Calling' sees him re-united with former Journey partner-in-rhyme Steve Smith who lends his drumming artistry to all 12 instrumentals. The tittle track is a beautifully crafted collage of well executed musical muscle, whilst the monstrous back-drop of 'Back Smash' is reminiscent of a modern day Led Zeppelin, embossed with the tenacity and flair of a well seasoned guitar ace. Neal 'personally' and powerfully exemplifies his technical versatility in the emotional 'Blue Rainbow Sky' (a tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio) a charismatic cauldron of stylistic and heart-felt melodic guitar hooks. Nothing short of a six string symphony!

Jonathan Crampton

Monday, 15 October 2012


Regarded as one of the finest guitarists on planet rock Paul Gilbert is at it again with his latest solo effort 'Vibrato'. As a pioneering member of both Racer X and Mr. Big a musician of such high caliber could well be forgiven for resting on his laurels but has consistently delivered the goods due to a tremendous work ethic. Opening cut 'Enemies' sets the standard, in a blend of blistering blues and red hot rock embellished with jazzy overtones. The mind expansive 'Atmosphere On The Moon' demonstrates the 'Big man's vocal talents, as well as allowing space for his keyboard playing wife Emi and master sticksman Thomas Lang to flex their expertise. Mr. Gilbert's ability to throw conventional musical concepts out of the window is an apparent theme on an album which effortlessly fuses rock, funk, and blues into a cohesive collection of pure artistry!

Jonathan Crampton

Friday, 21 September 2012


Magnum return with a much anticipated studio album that, in addition to delighting their sizeable and loyal fan base, may offer this hard-working and quintessentially English of bands another shot at success. Guitarist Tony Clarkin, has penned another finely crafted, yet instantly memorable set of songs, the first single 'So Let it Rain' being a prime example. Storyteller Bob Catley's voice is still warm and inviting, injecting just the right amount of emotion without ever becoming over sentimental. That trademark melodic touch is still evident throughout, enhanced by Mark Stanway's atmospheric keys, and no more so than on 'Blood Red Laughter' and 'Shadow Town'. Magnum can still rock out with the best of 'em as demonstrated by 'Dance Of The Black Tattoo' which features Clarkin cranking up a heavy riff, reminiscent of 'Kingdom Of Madness'!

Christopher Franklin


Having already set the world alight with Metal Legends Iron Maiden, Steve Harris hardly needs an introduction. Recording a groundbreaking album is probably the last thing he wanted to do! Harry’s vocalist, Richard Taylor, is a glorious find: softly uttered vocals, this guy doesn’t need to shout to make himself heard, his presence subtly delivered, this most ably demonstrated with the beautiful, melodic vocalising on ‘Us Against The World’. There are some Maiden influences here and there, but these are mostly incidental and predominantly involve Graham Leslie and David Hawkins’ harmonising guitars. Standout tracks the charming ‘Eyes Of The Young’ and sublime end-game ‘The Lesson’ move to 'emphasise' that ‘British Lion’ is not just another rock album. There are layers upon layers that can be peeled back to find its unexpected rewards!

Pippa Lang

Friday, 14 September 2012


After what seems like an age Prog rockers Marillion have returned to the fold brimming with new ideas. From the opening eastern orchestration of 'Gaza' it is clear that they aren't scared of musical or lyrical challenges. The song rises and falls taking the listener on a rollercoaster ride of light and shade with Steve Hogarth’s trademark vocals reaching new levels of pure passion. The infectious title track follows, very much in an 80s pop rock mould with Steve Rothery’s guitar and Mark Kelly’s keys taking things to a completely different level. ‘Montreal’ is a concise journey of interlocking pieces and is where the band get to fire on all cylinders. However, the album’s melancholic highpoint is the stirring 'The Sky Above The Rain' with Mr. Rothery’s stunning lead work making it so much more than a simple ballad. Marillion back at the top of their game!

Geoff Banks

Sunday, 8 July 2012


It’s possibly the greatest humiliation in rock that Gun (after all the great Glaswegian rock they produced) are still best known for covering a song by funksters Cameo. If being ‘Gallus’ and ‘Taking On The World’ mean anything, it means not settling for this. And true to their destiny, they are back with their first studio album in 15 years, fully charged with the desire to rewrite the rock history books. With the legendary Dave Eringa of Manics fame at the console, part of that blistering surge you hear on big, beefy opener 'Butcher Man' is the sound of all the stops being pulled out. Much of the album is laced with an intriguing mix of pop-punk and Americana (for instance 'Lost & Found' is The Byrds meets The Buzzcocks). With a good mix of punchy and wistful songs 'Break The Silence' is clearly an album constructed with heavy duty touring in mind!

Colin Liddell

Monday, 2 July 2012


Thirty years after their classic self-titled debut ascended to the top of the U.S. charts the 'original' line-up of Asia are again 'riding the dragon's wings'. Firmly rooted in pop-rock territory, with infectious hook-lines, 'XXX' re-captures the dynamic energy of that first 'iconic' release. 'Face On The Bridge' with its catchy chorus, the haunting 'Bury Me In Willow', and the emotive 'Ghost Of A Chance' prove that the Wetton/Downes songwriting partnership is stronger than ever. 'Tomorrow The World' and 'Al Gatto Nero' have those clever lyrical turns that vocalist/bassist John Wetton is renowned for while guitarist Steve Howe makes his mark on 'Judas' and 'No Religion' both featuring neat musical interplay with keysman Geoff Downes and drummer Carl Palmer. Asia have delivered their best recorded work since '82 when 'the disco hotspots held no charm for you'!

Mark Crampton

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


In their time Rush have produced some of the finest recorded moments in rock history, be it guitar-driven hard rock, their late '70s progressive period or their '80s embracing of a cleaner punchier song-based sound. In short 'Clockwork Angels’ is a cleverly calculated album that is aimed to please Rush fans old and new. We had a good idea of what to expect from the sneak previews of 'BU2B' and 'Caravan' (released in 2010) which were intended to give the band some new material for their 'Time Machine' tour. As with these two songs, the single and pre-release taster 'Headlong Flight' show that Rush have squarely replanted their feet in hard rock territory and the production and individual performances of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart are again beyond par. A bombastic straight-a-head rock album designed to sound great live!

Geoff Banks

Monday, 21 May 2012


Guitar god Joe Bonamassa has reaped his roots for his 13 studio album. Harking back to the glory days of early ‘60s rock n' blues, producer Kevin Shirley has assembled a unique group of musos including Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford. From inspired self-penned originals 'Dislocated Boy', 'Heavenly Soul', 'Somewhere Trouble Don't Go' and the road-tested title track 'Driving Towards The Daylight' to rugged-rock cover versions of Howlin Wolfs' 'Who's Been Talking', Robert Johnsons' 'Stones In My Passway', Tom Waits’ 'New Coat Of Paint', Bill Withers’ 'Lonely Town Lonely Street', Bernie Marsden’s 'A Place In My Heart', Willie Dixon’s 'I Got All You Need' and the Jimmy Barnes classic 'Too Much Ain’t Enough Love' it's a balanced affair highlighting the guitarist's signature style. Another gutsy performance from the blues rock titan - Lucky 13!

Mark Crampton

Sunday, 20 May 2012


Ian Astbury is the closet mainstream rock has ever come to having a genuine medicine man since the demise of the great Jim Morrison. With 'Choice Of Weapon' a lot of the mystical mumbo jumbo that sometimes muddied the message of The Cult’s music has been jettisoned for a more leather-arsed, bike-revved rocking approach that suggests that Astbury and guitarist Billy Duffy have made up any musical differences. What we get is an entire album cut from the band's classic sonic cloth of raindance rhythms, cyclical, driving guitar hooks, and impassioned vocals, but with enough variety to stop things getting into a rut. The snarl and spit of 'For The Animals' and the loose-jointed thunder of 'The Wolf' make stand-out tracks and suggest that Astbury and Duffy are still channeling big hairy vibes from the place where only the shaman can go!

Colin Liddell

Friday, 18 May 2012


Eschewing the superstar co-star vocalist carousel that he employed on his previous outing, Slash has kept his touring buddy Myles Kennedy from Alter Bridge onboard for the duration of this album and supplemented the line-up with ‘Conspirators’ Brent Fitz on drums and Todd Kerns on bass. 'Apocalyptic Love' boasts more of a band feel and as a result the songs are more cohesive, honed and toned. A flurry of wah-wah introduces the title track which soars into a classic chorus, ‘One Last Thrill’ then explodes with a punk attitude reminiscent of the feral Guns, with Kennedy railing aggressively. ‘You’re A Lie’ is the breakout hit thanks to Slash’s righteous riffing and a contagious chorus. However it is the six-minute 'Anastasia' where the ex-Gunner brings the sound of classic rock kicking and screaming back into the present - Top hat duly doffed!

Joe Mackett


Great White's pure passion for music hasn’t faltered despite 'personnel' trials and tribulations. The band's 12th studio album 'Elation' (featuring original members guitarist Mark Kendall, keyboardist/guitarist Michael Lardie, drummer Audie Desbrow plus ‘fresh fins’ bassist Scott Snyder and XYZ voxman Terry Ilous) showcases a rock n' roll team completely re-charged and re-focused. From the rollicking bluesy rock of '(I've Got) Something For You', and the raucous sassy shuffle of 'Promise Land', to soulful radio-friendly melodic milestones 'Hard To Say Goodbye', 'Love Is Enough' and 'Heart Of A Man' the group's trademark hard rock sound is most definitely back-on-track. Terry Ilous' characteristic vocal delivery is perfect and has proved a 'positive' inspiration. A back-to-basics blues rock album from a band in a state of euphoria!

Mark Crampton

Monday, 30 April 2012


Swedish hard rockers Europe have gone back to blues basics for their 9th studio album 'Bag Of Bones' with the help of producer Kevin Shirley who has worked his magic yet again. Opener 'Riches To Rags' sets the standard whilst lead cut 'Not Supposed To Sing The Blues' (an addictive Led Zep workout) burns the house down. Inspiring compositions such as the title track (which features Joe Bonamassa on slide guitar) and the Deep Purple-esque 'My Woman My Friend' add depth. Elsewhere the straight-forward hard rock of 'Firebox' and the stripped-down acoustic tingle of ‘Drink And A Smile' are stadium-filling hallmarks.The shining twin stars of singer Joey Tempest and guitarist John Norum stand-out trumps here providing perfect interplay. Europe were born to sing the blues... contender for rock album of the year!

Mark Crampton

Friday, 6 April 2012


Comeback albums are often like middle-aged men getting new Porsches. It may have seemed like this when Accept got together with vocalist Mark Tornillo for 2010’s 'Blood Of The Nations', a potent record that won rave reviews. The German metal band’s latest, 'Stalingrad' is taking that comeback and running with it. From the chugging guitars and sky-splitting vocals of opener 'Hung Drawn And Quartered' to the doom-laden riffs of the title track and the smouldering menace of 'Twist Of Fate', this album successfully builds on the gargantuan superstructure of its predecessor. True peace comes on the battlefield when each side has fought a worthy battle that both can respect. This is the spirit that this record breathes and the reason why it will be as big a hit in Russia as it is in Germany, the two nations whose titanic struggle inspired its epic theme!

Colin Liddell

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


There’s something about Latin American metal audiences that makes for great live vids. For ‘En Vivo!’, Maiden had two shows on their 'The Final Frontier World Tour' filmed (Buenos Aires and Santiago) but the Chilean capital won out in the final cut. Cue massive stadium filled to the gunnels with an energized crowd and Maiden on full throttle! The whole spectacle was captured in HD by what must have been an army of cameramen, and edited to perfection. To convey the energy and excitement of what was a great gig, the movie constantly switches between full-screen/split screen shots of the band in full flow, intercut with crowd shots - a difficult job brilliantly done. Highlights are too many to mention, but the 'Behind The Beast' feature gives a fascinating insight into the mechanics of running a metal monster as big as Iron Maiden!

Colin Liddell

Friday, 24 February 2012


UFO’s 21st studio album 'Seven Deadly' represents a return to the classy hard rock sound upon which their reputation was originally founded. Line-up stability has paid dividends with a solid release that is full of top tunes that stay in your head right from first play, foot stomping opener 'Fight Night' being a prime example. The rocking 'Wonderland' showcases Phil Mogg's voice, as distinctive as ever, whilst the blues tinged 'The Last Stone Rider' features another classic guitar riff and a great chorus, underpinned by Paul Raymond's classic hard rock keyboard textures. Guitarist Vinnie Moore is prominent throughout, his playing both melodic and bluesy. On 'Burn Your House Down' he lays down some breathtaking lead breaks reminiscent of his early virtuoso period. UFO are back on true form with an album that is essential listening!

Christopher Franklin

Monday, 6 February 2012


The essence of VH past was a ‘joie de vivre’, an attitude that the music be uplifting, sometimes left-field and quietly fun. So can ‘A Different Kind Of Truth’ deliver enough “sturm and drang” as David Lee Roth used to call it to satisfy substance to add to the mythology? ‘Tattoo’ has a swaggering, hypnotic groove which worms into your psyche making it the most immediate single on an album without a single ballad. That said, it is the next three songs that set the template; ‘She’s The Woman', 'You And Your Blues’ and ‘China Town’ each feature a blistering Eddie Van Halen guitar solo. Elsewhere, neither ‘Bullethead’, ‘Big River’ and closer ‘Beats Workin’ would look out of place on any of their original albums. Despite all the politics and dissension about the absence of bassist Michael Anthony, Van Halen have returned - at the top of their game!

Joe Mackett