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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Big Life album review

Big Life album review
Released on: AOR Heaven. Release date: Available now.

This new project, Big Life is a joint venture and brainchild of two much respected players in the melodic rock field, from the south of England.

Vocalist Mark Thompson-Smith, I recall as far back as the mid to late 80’s doing the rounds in southern England in bands such as Touché and Fay Wray. Fay Wray reformed (Or maybe just came back from a hiatus?!) a few years back and Mark still sometimes works that baby on the side.
Mark also has some history with a few bands that I know many people will be aware of in The Sweet, Praying Mantis and Idol Rich to name a few, as well as his respected solo release, ‘A Far Cry From New Jersey,’ that sadly that I’ve never heard.

Steve Newman has in the past few years enjoyed a lot of attention in his own band Newman, playing recognized UK favorite festivals such as the annual Firefest and Z Rock event, to great responses.
Newman have also released eight studio albums, plus the expanded ‘Decade (The Very Best of Newman)’ which included many unreleased ‘new’ tracks and alternative versions.
Steve has also helped Engineer, Produce, Mix and Mastered a variety of other work too, not to mention co-writing material with Anders Rydholm (Grand Illusion), helping out on the Frozen Rain project, Steve Overland's (FM) solo album, Frederic Slama's AOR Project. "Journey To LA" and the ARFM radio / Firefest benefit CD "The Undying Fire." just to name a few side projects.
So there’s some history for you …

On this album Mark handles all lead vocals, with Steve backing him up playing everything, bar the drums, which are ably handled by longtime Newman drummer Rob McEwen.

The album opens with ‘Dying Day’ which kicks in, in an almost Newman style, but with Mark on vocals, it adds a new dimension, it rocks in great melodic style with an urgency but with so much sound. Great start guys!

‘Close To You,’ is next and Mark’s voice takes a slightly different direction, but still keeps thing rocking in great fashion.
The thing for me about the Big Life project, that's perhaps a little different from Newman, is the keyboards have better presence, which really works great with this material.
As always, Steve’s guitar playing seems to go from strength to strength, it really does and here, there’s almost a (Steve) Vai edge to the main solo, who I know has always been a huge influence on Mr. Newman.

My comment on the keyboards presence is elaborated by the intro to ‘Better Man’ next and the funky bass line at the starts serves the intro well. The song grows from atmospherics to something much bigger, initially indicating perhaps a power ballad, but then wham! An up tempo pop rocking edge kicks in and yet another very strong hook laden song is launched!
Some really nice layering throughout the track just makes this glow a treat!

‘Calling Me’ starts with an exotic intro, soon followed by huge power chords and an almost dare I say, Led Zeppelin type riff, and the song gets underway proper, with a laid back start to each verse, which then picks up for each pre-chorus and the chorus itself is great and that riff is so haunting!

I must say, that the combination of both main players is great and AOR Heaven, should be very happy with this release, as the album continues it has class written all over it.

OK, are you ready for a change of pace? Let’s face it, if you know Newman’s work, he never disappoints when he takes things down a bit and Mark sings ‘I’ll Still Be Here’ very well indeed.
A very easy going and easy listening track indeed.

With ‘Feel Alive’ the track does exactly what it’s title suggests and picks things up again with some interesting tempo changes from Rob McEwen. Nice one again guys.

Easing things back again ‘Deep Water’ is a really special track if you ask me, starting as a beautifully sung emotional ballad, it picks up for a brief power driven bridged chorus, before easing back for Steve’s haunting first solo and then doing the same again, by easing back and growing again with another tasty extended solo in this almost seven minute piece. Nice layering guys.

‘At The End Of My Rainbow’ is another one of those tracks with so much to it, taking you up and bringing things down again that you’ll be lapping it up and another great writers mark is that the choruses grab you again and again.

It’s almost Bon Jovi ballad territory at times in ‘Leaves’ next, which is nicely done power ballad stuff again and ‘Stop In Time’ does the same thing too. If radio stations were behind playing big old power ballads again, Big Life could very likely find themselves getting a lot of attention.

It’s back to the rock again with ‘Takin’ Me Down’ and it really shows how capable these guys are in mixing some great rock material with classy rock ballads. Some interesting phrasing of the vocals in the choruses, keeps the variety here.

Last official album track is another ballad with ‘Nothing Without You’ that’s very acoustically driven.
Soulful for sure.
There’s a hidden bonus track too, which rocks with a great US style for sure and since it’s not listed I’m guessing it’s possibly titled ‘Special Relationship,’ eased back verses generally that then lead into up tempo pre and main chorus.
Great fun track chaps!

I’ve really enjoyed playing this album, again and again, sure there’s a lot of ballad material but there is rock too and if you liked these guys stuff before, then you for sure, you’re gonna love this one too!
Hopefully with a Big Life ahead!

Rating: 4 out of 5

Official website links:

Friday, June 10, 2011

News for Friday 10th June, 2011

Hi folks, not much has been posted lately, I know ... My day job has been seriously too much, but there you go ...
Very brief update for now, sorry, but early starts at work this week and late finishes in the evening, have well and truly wiped me out. Have a good weekend, Al

Rock stuff on TV to watch out for ... Reminder

Watch Paul Rodgers on T.V. this Friday!

Friday, June 10

Bad Company's Paul Rodgers will be performing the Free classic "All Right Now" prior to the start of the Vancouver Canucks VS Boston Bruins Stanley Cup Playoff game.

The performance will be televised. The game begins at 5:00PM PST on RDS, NBC, and CBC.
See for more details.


Bon Jovi Live stream on TV this Sunday, 12th June

Bon Jovi rocked out sold out shows throughout North America and are now coming to Europe! Make sure to tune in as Bon Jovi takes over Munich, Germany on Sunday, June 12th at Olympic Stadium!
Fans worldwide can tune in and watch the first 30 minutes of the show live in Europe!

To watch the band at Olympic Stadium LIVE, click and

You don't want to miss out on this legendary performance so make sure to tune in Sunday, June 12th. Join us online at 7:00PM (CEST). The live stream will start at 7:45PM CEST.

US/CANADA: 1:00PM EST, 12:00PM CST, 11:00AM MST, 10:00AM PST
SYDNEY: 3:00AM EDT (June 13th)
JAPAN: 2:00AM (June 13th)

Iron Maiden offers two free downloads 'From Fear To Eternity'

Want a couple of free Iron Maiden MP3's from the band's latest two disc best of set, 'From Fear To Eternity?'
Then follow direction shown here:


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

News Update for Wednesday 8th June, 2011

Andrew Gold RIP
August 2, 1951 – June 3, 2011

Another name from the world of rock and pop goes down, as news just yesterday is announced that late 70's, American singer / songwriter Andrew Gold passed away in his sleep last Friday, 3rd June.
Various news sites are reporting it all around the globe and here's just one of those, at the BBC that also features one of his live videos of 'Heartaches in Heartaches' from the man:


Possibly Andrew Gold's best known album, 'What's Wrong With This Picture.'

I know it's not hard rock folks, but for those old melodic rock fans out there from the 70's, you are probably very familiar with many of the guys songs.

I can remember back then, thinking what a cool track 'Lonely Boy' was, for it's catchy hookline, big chorus and tasty lead break. At that time I was not aware that the guy was already a successful session musician, contributing lead guitar and song arranger for Linda Ronstadt, starting from 1974 on her album 'Heart Like a Wheel,' onwards with her next four albums too. 

His first solo big hit was indeed 'Lonely Boy,' followed by 'How Can This Be Love,' then another smash hit, probably best associated later on, with popular US TV series 'The Golden Girls,' was 'Thank You for Being a Friend.'

'Never Let Her Slip Away,' was really his last big solo hit in 1978, although he went on to contribute to many rock and pop artists album works, including Art Garfunkel, Eric Carmen, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Cher, Jackson Browne, 10cc and many more.

In 1983 he and ex-10cc founder Graham Gouldman formed the project 'Wax,' who had a big hit with the single, 'Bridge To Your Heart,' amongst others.
After that, he really seemed to just get by on writing soundtrack material and T.V. commercials, he will always be best remembered for those catchy 70's melodic pop rock songs.
Quite possibly the saddest thing of all, is his own website has not even acknowledged his passing and does not appear to have been touched in sometime.

Thank you for the music Andrew, I enjoyed quite a bit of it.
RIP Andrew Gold - 1951 - 2011

Uriah Heep fans, US tour kicks off next week

In support of the band's excellent new album, 'Into the Wild,' for their new label Frontiers Records - See review here: - classic UK rockers Uriah Heep start their two leg US tour next week June 14th, in Atlanta, GA, at the Variety Playhouse, with the first leg closing in Palm Springs Indio, CA on July 2nd.
The second leg of the US tour will kick off August 9th, after some dates in Russia and Germany, resuming in Linconshire, IL at Viper Alley and close in Las Vegas, NV on August 20th.

The tour will run in the US hitting cities such as Chattanooga, TN, Kettering, OH, New York City, NY, Norfolk, CT, Del Mar San Diego, CA, Rochester, MN and Scottsdale, AZ.
Sadly, no date for Michigan again from the guys, no Detroit date ... 
Ah well, same as the last tour chaps ... Maybe next time ....?

For the official Uriah Heep site, news updates and full tour details, go to:

Journey BBC interview from Friday June 3rd

Journey who are currently touring the UK and Europe, in support of latest just released album 'Eclipse,' took time last Friday to step in the BBC's Breakfast Time TV show studio's for an interview.
  Present from the band were Neal Schon, Jonathan Cain and latest vocalist Arnel Pineda.
If you happened to have missed it, you can see the interview right here and now at:
Note: Sadly, if you're in the US, the intro crosses with a commercial / advertisement, as the interview starts. Typical!

The new album 'Eclipse' entered the US Billboard 200 charts at #13, not quite as high as 'Revelation' which entered at #5, but very respectable indeed.
It also entered the UK charts this week at #33, again, not too bad at all.

Journey will kick off their US tour in Oshkosh, WI at the 'Rock US Festival' on July 15th before then continuing their tour alongside Foreigner and Night Ranger.
The US tour runs right through into October, closing in Seattle, WA on the 21st.

For all the news from Journey and full tour details, go to:

Anyone want a guitar signed by all current Thin Lizzy members?

A current auction for charity is indeed offering such an item from Thin Lizzy!
Here are the details:

Livewire Guitar Auction
This is a great opportunity to not only get a great guitar but also 100% authentic autographs.
The Guitar is signed by Scott Gorham, Brian Downey, Darren Wharton, Marco Mendoza, Viv Campbell and Ricky Warwick and will come with official letter of authenticity from Thin Lizzy's management so bid with confidence.
All proceeds of this auction will go towards the running of Livewire a UK registered Charity working with young musicians aged 13 to 21.
For more details please visit
Bid with confidence knowing this is the genuine article.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Brief News Update for Tuesday June 7th, 2011

Black Country Communion launch new video: "Man In The Middle"

Today, Black Country Communion have launched the official promo video for "Man In The Middle". The song is taken from their forthcoming album "2", released in the UK on Monday June 13th.

This video for "Man In The Middle" has just been posted on YouTube, although as you regulars are now aware, Blogspot sadly doesn't embrace You Tube's viewing screen size, so here's the link to the You Tube location:

The new album "2" will feature the following tracks:
1. The Outsider
2. Man In The Middle
3. The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall
4. Save Me
5. Smokestack Woman
6. Faithless
7. An Ordinary Son
8. I Can See Your Spirit
9. Little Secret
10. Crossfire
11. Cold

First single from the album, 'The Outsider' has gained much praise across the board and I have to admit, I love it myself!

Black Country Communion is the Anglo/American rock band featuring Glenn Hughes (vocals, bass), Joe Bonamassa (guitar, vocals), Jason Bonham (drums) and Derek Sherinian (keyboards).
The forthcoming album is currently #2 on both the Amazon UK and album pre-order charts.

BCC's eponymous debut album, originally released September 2010, reached #13 in the official UK Album Chart, #1 on the UK Rock Album Chart, and #2 on the UK Independent Album Chart.

Black Country Communion will tour the UK in July 2011. Dates include Llandudno Cymru Arena (July 23), High Voltage Festival, London (July 24), Leeds o2 Academy (July 26), Newcastle o2 Academy (July 27), Glasgow o2 Academy (July 29), Manchester Academy (July 30). Ticket hotline: 0871 230 1101, and

Black Country Communion played their first live gigs last December – a pair of sold-out shows in London and Wolverhampton. Both shows earned rave reviews with The Birmingham Mail calling the band’s performance “rip-roaring” and “breath-taking.” Due to high demand from US fans for a set of live stateside performances, the band booked a number of summer dates beginning June 9 in San Diego, CA; followed by dates in Anaheim, CA; Salt Lake City, UT; St. Louis, MO; Indianapolis, IN; Hampton Beach, NH; Sayreville, NJ; and Washington, D.C. The band then heads across the Atlantic for multiple dates in Europe and the UK. Check out footage of the band playing live here:

US Summer Tour Dates:
June 2011
06/09/11 San Diego, California at San Diego Civic Theatre
06/10/11 Anaheim, California at City National Grove of Anaheim
06/11/11 Salt Lake City, Utah at The Depot
06/13/11 St. Louis, Missouri at The Pageant
06/15/11 Indianapolis, Indiana at Murat Theatre at Old National Centre
06/17/11 Hampton, New Hampshire at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
06/18/11 Sayreville, New Jersey at Starland Ballroom
06/19/11 Washington D.C. at 9:30 Club

Essential Links:


KARMAKANIC mastermind / bassist Jonas Reingold isn't out to re-invent the progressive rock wheel with the band's new album, "In A Perfect World". On the contrary, in a genre that is overpopulated with artists obsessed with often inhuman instrumental fireworks, he has delivered a package that stands out for being organic, warm, and decidedly human. And while lines can be drawn to prog rock greats like Dream Theater, Ayreon and Fates Warning, it's the hints of everything from Styx to Deep Purple to The Beatles to Yes and make KARMAKANIC'S latest outing a seven course feast that will leave the listener hungry for more.

A member of prog rock cult favorites The Flower Kings since 1999, Reingold has released four albums under the KARMAKANIC banner since 2002. The band is his labor of love, where he controls all aspects of the music rather than being a hired hand; a musical release that he couldn't live without.

"KARMAKANIC is always a result of everything that I enjoy in music. I enjoy a bit of pop music, some fusion, I enjoy a bit of classic progressive rock like Genesis and those guys. I don't think much in terms of style; I just try to have fun while I compose the music. It's fun to actually do something on your own sometimes. I love being a part of The Flower Kings or any other projects I get involved with, but to actually be responsible for the whole thing - write the songs, record the album, produce and mix it - is a kick for me to do it once in a while. But, you can also get fed up with yourself if you work too much like that. Having this mix between everything is great."

"In A Perfect World" is an unexpectedly smooth flow of musical styles from beginning to end. Steeped in an instantly recognizable '70s vibe, each of the seven tracks featured on the album have their own unique personalities without sounding mismatched. Whether it's the opening romp of '1969' or the smokey blues 10 minute outro of 'When Fear Came To Town', "In A Perfect World" never derails itself under the weight of its own creative genius.

"Normally I try to work with a couple themes," Reingold explains. "The opening theme on '1969', for example, it reappears in the song a number of times in different shapes, different keys and tonalities, a different vibe, but I try not to change the ideas I'm working with too much. I try to keep a core running through the whole song. If you skip five minutes into the song it shouldn't be a different song. That's my main goal; therefore I try to keep things simple in terms of ideas. If I have three melodic themes going on I stick to them. I try not to put in too much information."

With regards to his varied stylistic influences and the lines drawn between KARMAKANIC and artists outside of the prog rock genre - a box Reingold is quite comfortable in - he feels it's a natural occurrence as a product of one's environment.

"When you're an artist / musician I think you're an antenna to the world, and that will always show. If there's a killer song on the radio that you hear ten times a day and you love it, it will show in your music. Not on purpose, of course, but that music gets stored in your head somewhere. Sometimes you're not even aware of what you're reflecting. I grew up with KISS in the '70s - they were my first main band that I was into - and even today I can hear them in my music sometimes. It's like, 'Oh damn, that sounds like 'She' ... (laughs)'. Music is a reflection of everything around you."

This time out, however, Reingold's big focus was on the lyrics for "In A Perfect World's" seven tracks. As inspired as he was to write the music, without an equal amount of time spent on the lyrics he believes the album would be lacking a backbone. Because of his lyrical focus, fans will find "In A Perfect World" much stronger than any of the band's previous releases.

"I try to write about things that concern me. We had a suicide bomber here in Sweden last Christmas, and that hit me hard because you see it on television in other parts of the world, and suddenly it was in my backyard. That kind of scared me, so I wrote a song about that. I try to find a subject that is meaningful and write about it. As long as you write something that is meaningful for you, other people will respond to it."

KARMAKANIC - In A Perfect World:
1. 1969 - 14:40
2. Turn it up - 06:53
3. The world is caving in - 08:58
4. Can't take it with you - 05:42
5. There's nothing wrong with the world - 07:22
6. Bite the grit - 04:57
7. When fear came to town - 09:54

Entering The Spectra (2002)
Wheel Of Life (2004)
Who's The Boss In The Factory? (2008)
In A Perfect World (2011)

Line up:
Jonas Reingold: Fretted and fretless bass/Backing vocals
Marcus Liliequist: Drums
Göran Edman: Vocals
Lalle Larsson: Keyboards/Backing vocals
Nils Erikson: Vocals/Keyboards
Krister Jonsson: Guitars


Judas Priest – Single Cuts
The Complete UK Singles Collection

At the start of their final world tour, Judas Priest and Sony Music are proud to announce the release, for the first time ever, of their complete UK / CBS singles.

'Single Cuts' is testament to Priest’s enduring influence and through the singles, tells the story of one of the biggest metal bands of all time.

Presented in a deluxe, numbered box, 'Single Cuts' boasts a massive 52 tracks across 20 CDs, featuring original singles artwork and labels plus booklet including sleevenotes and photos.


Diamonds and Rust
Dissident Aggressor

Better By You, Better By Me

Evening Star

Before The Dawn
Rock Forever

Take On The World
Starbreaker (Live)
White Heat Red Hot (Live)

Evening Star
Beyond The Realms Of Death
The Green Manalishi

Living After Midnight
Delivering The Goods (Live)
Evil Fantasies (Live)

Breaking The Law
Metal Gods


Don’t Go
Solar Angels

Hot Rockin' 3:03
Breaking The Law (Live)
You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise

You've Got Another Thing Comin'
Exciter (Live)

(Take These) Chains
Judas Priest Audio File

Freewheel Burning
Breaking The Law (Live)
You've Got Another Thing Comin'

Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)

Turbo Lover
Hot For Love

Locked In
Desert Plains (Live)
Freewheel Burning (Live)

Better By You, Better Than Me

A Touch Of Evil
Between The Hammer And The Anvil
You've Got Another Thing Comin' (Live)

Night Crawler
Breaking The Law
Living After Midnight

Judas Priest – Single Cuts
The Complete UK Singles Collection

The product can be ordered direct from the Official Judas Priest website here:
The price including delivery will be:
Euro 69.99
US $99

Catalogue Number: 88697939612
Barcode: 886979396128
To be shipped for delivery around 25th August 2011