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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Saturday 2nd July, 2011 - Christopher Cross Contest update

OK folks, you know ... I'm guessing that because of the holiday weekend and I know a lot of people were traveling, maybe it wasn't fair to have wrapped up the contest, quite so soon!

Soooo, I'm going to leave it open until Tuesday 5th July now ...
If there's no takers - And as soon as I receive the correct answer, I will post that the contest is closed!
If Tuesday comes and there's no correct answer ... Listen closely, I WILL open the contest INTERNATIONALLY! Yes, really!
So, here we go again!

Who is ready to answer a question that 'relates' to Christopher Cross, for an autographed copy of 'Doctor Faith' from Christopher Cross, courtesy of Universal Music and a runner up prize of a regular copy of the CD, not autographed?
The first correct answer will get the signed copy, the second correct answer will get the regular copy.
The question is this, Ride Like the Wind was covered in a very different way, in 1988.
Who was the act that did so?
Giveaway rules - Note new closing date!
1. Answers to me at:
2. Please provide your full name and postal address.
3. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.
4. Please understand, there are ONLY two copies, one signed, one not and the editors decision is final.
5. Competition closes Tuesday 5th July, 2011.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday 1st July, 2011 - Last day on Competition Giveaway!

Hi folks,

Well, what's up with you all, you don't like 'something for free?'
Today is the last day for the Christopher Cross signed album giveaway competition!

So, who is ready to answer a question on Christopher Cross for an autographed copy of 'Doctor Faith' from Christopher Cross, courtesy of Universal Music and a runner up prize of a regular copy of the CD, not autographed?
The first correct answer will get the signed copy, the second correct answer will get the regular copy.
The question is this, Ride Like the Wind was covered in a very different way, in 1988.
Who was the act that did so?

Giveaway rules:
1. Answers to me at:
2. Please provide your full name and postal address.
3. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.
4. Please understand, there are ONLY two copies, one signed, one not and the editors decision is final.
5. Competition closes Friday 1st July, 2011.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Whitesnake – 'Live at Donington 1990' album review

Whitesnake – Live at Donington 1990 album review
Released through: Frontiers records. Release date: Available now

Whitesnake, the 'David Coverdale Band,' for all intents and purposes, since the musicians surrounding the main man seem to have changed so much over the years - Since 1977 - just as Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow used to do.
The line up that took to the stage in 1990 was the line up that recorded the ‘Slip of the Tongue’ album with the exception of the keyboards, although in fact Adrian Vandenberg was not present on the recording sessions due to a wrist injury, so new recruit Steve Vai actually completed all the album’s guitar parts.
The ‘Live at Donington 1990’ album featured David Coverdale (Of course!), Steve Vai, Adrian Vandenberg (Back on board), Rudy Sarzo (Bass), Tommy Aldridge (Drums) and guest keys man, Rick Serate.
This was Whitesnake’s third appearance at Donington’s Monster’s of Rock festival and their second time as headliners there, playing to around 100,000 rock hungry British fans.

They opened the show with the title track of the ‘Slip of the Tongue’ album and possibly the whole emotion of the event, was initially too much for Coverdale as seems to struggle a little to be honest on this opening number. Vai is just soloing like crazy and the band is simply a powerhouse and wall of sound!
‘Slide It In’ is up next and it’s a real treat for the Donington crowd and Coverdale is belting the tune out, much like the opener.
No wonder he finally endured throat problems in 2009, guessing the old vocal chords can only handle so much and he’d already had problems before in 1986 where it looked as though he may have been finished, but as always, the man keeps coming back!

Next up is ‘Judgement Day’ which starts huge and then eases back before getting into that almost (Led) Zeppelin like groove and again Vai is all over the song and his performance overall the whole performance is basically fitting as many solo’s into the show as is humanly possible!
Coverdale in some parts again seemed to really have pushed himself too much as he’s almost straining at times here.

‘Slow and Easy’ actually sounds great as it opens and the guitar tone is presently a little differently from its original format and it comes across very well. That said in the main guitar solo part, it almost seems as though Vandenberg and Vai are a little at cross purposes, as when Vandenberg is trying to play his solo and Vai takes the rhythm part, he has trouble trying to contain himself … You’ll see!

‘Kittens Got Claws’ next is a pure riff fest for both players, the song itself was always perhaps a little throwaway, but a fun number nonetheless, expressed by Coverdale at the start, with his introduction of, ‘Here kitty, kitty,’ and Vandenberg and Vai just let loose!
When it comes to the solo though it’s weird as it almost hits a Van Halen like bridge section, then with the solo both players are kind of all over each other.

Next it’s Adrian Vandenberg’s solo spot and it's kind of reminiscent of the intro to Michael Schenker’s ‘Lost Horizons’ live, in his piece ‘Adagio for Strato’ which then leads into ‘Flying Dutchman Boogie.’ Loads of widdly, widdly stuff here, where he’s now accompanied by the rest of the band.
‘Is This Love,’ possibly now the bands best know song next and I think that Vai seriously over plays on this one, while for Coverdale, it’s a tune that really suits his voice and kind of gives the guy a breather, compared to all the other songs he’s really belted out.

It’s back to the cheesy song titles next with ‘Cheap An’ Nasty,’ and sure enough prior to the solo, there another sub-Van Halen type bridge with ol’ Coverdale even adding the ‘Mmmm yeah, just to the left a bit … Don’t talk with your mouth full …’ innuendo and then the solo just rips it up.

‘Crying in the Rain’ closes the first disc here, clocking in at just under fourteen minutes, with it’s extended intro, then Tommy Aldridge’s drum solo in the middle and various other bits and pieces. A great song that is seriously exaggerated here though, with extended solos everywhere.

Disc two is slightly shorter than the first, opening with the modern version of ‘Fool For Your Lovin’,’ very different from it’s original incarnation on the ‘Ready and Willing’ album of ’80.
With Adrian Vandenberg back in the band after his wrist issues, it does seem a lot of the time on this recording that both players are fighting for the spotlight. I do recall in a more recent interview Coverdale was asked about the addition of Steve Vai to the band and he said, he was kind of ‘persuaded’ to ‘go with it’ for extra clout, but in hindsight, as much as he’s an excellent player that Vai really wasn’t a fit for Whitesnake.

Next up, Steve Vai gets to perform his elaborate style, with two tracks from his ‘Passion and Warfare’ release in ‘For the Love of God’ and ‘The Audience is Listening.’ All very good stuff, but a little overboard for a Whitesnake gig, I mean come on … The guy gets just over eight and a half minutes playtime, which was certainly more than Mr. Vandenberg. I’m sure it was written into the contract!

‘Here I Go Again’ is next brings back loads of great memories of just how fantastic the ‘80’s were for some killer songs.
It’s a rich and lush track, whether you hear the original version from 1981 or the re-recorded version on Whitesnake’s ‘1987’ album, then this version too. Anyway you look at it, the crowd always loved it!
Another number from the ‘Coverdale / (John) Sykes’ era of writing is next in ‘Bad Boys’ again, milked for all it’s worth by Mr. Vai.

The ultimate song for all British Whitesnake fans was always ‘Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City,’ for pure crowd participation value.
Ironically, this was never carried over for US audiences, as I guess it came from that earlier ‘unknown’ period of Whitesnake for US audiences, which is a shame, as US fans have missed out on some great rockin’ blues inspired tunes from the album’s ‘Trouble' (1978), ‘Lovehunter’ (1979) and the previously mentioned 'Ready and Willing’ (1980).
Coverdale does sound here like he’s struggling at times, bit of a shame, but after presenting the newer more American driven Whitesnake numbers from ‘Whitesnake (1987)’ and ‘Slip of the Tongue,’ it kind of rips his voice up a hell of a lot.

Last number on here is ‘Still of the Night’ which at the time of its first release had the band accused of ripping off Led Zeppelin, in its structure.
To be honest, however you look at it; it’s a killer tune that so many old and newer fans alike really loved.

It’s not a bad live album at all, OK, in places there’s a lot of overplaying but it was – musician wise – a killer line up of players, who all in their own right knew how to present themselves live on stage. I’m sure the DVD is very good indeed and personally I’d rather have reviewed that here, as I’m sure it has a lot more value to it than this.

By the way, don't forget, this is also available on DVD, which I wish I had, as I'm sure that would be a treat to review!
Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Official band website:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brief News Update for Wednesday 28th June, 2011

Todd Rundgren confirms intimate UK concerts in October

Todd Rundgren, rock and roll icon, guitar genius, interactive progenitor, consummate singer-songwriter and record producer, will get up close and personal with four rare UK concerts in October 2011.

Todd will be performing “An Evening with Todd Rundgren”, universally described by the US press as “The greatest hits tour his fans have been waiting to see for years.”

Dates include HMV Ritz, Manchester on Saturday October 1st, and the London Jazz Café on Monday October 3rd, Tuesday October 4th and Wednesday October 5th. Tickets go on sale from 10:00 GMT on Tuesday June 28th. Ticket Hotline: 08700 603 777,

The October 2011 dates mark Rundgren’s first UK shows since 2010’s sold-out London Hammersmith Apollo concert where he performed the entirety of his 1973 milestone album A Wizard, A True Star. An acclaimed record producer, composer, songwriter and recording artist, Rundgren is widely regarded as the acknowledged godfather of the marriage of music and multimedia. Having founded and fronted The Nazz, the quintessential `60's power-pop psychedelic band, in 1969 he left them to pursue a solo career, recording his debut offering, the classic Runt.
It was 1972's seminal Something/Anything?, on which he played all the instruments, sang all the vocal parts, and acted as his own producer, that catapulted Todd into the superstar limelight. Among Rundgren's impressive 50+ production projects are albums by Patti Smith, Cheap Trick, Psychedelic Furs, XTC, Grand Funk Railroad, Hall & Oates, and Meat Loaf’s multi-platinum debut Bat Out Of Hell.
Read the official online press release and download hi-res photos -

Dream Theater new track available and new album details

Progressive rock favourites Dream Theater share some new music with fans, this update from the bands website:

Be The First To Listen To Dream Theater's New Track!

Roadrunner Records and Dream Theater are proud to announce the premiere of Dream Theater's new track "On The Backs Of Angels" taken from their highly anticipated upcoming album "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" due out this September.
Tune into Roadrunner Records' YouTube channel this Wednesday, June 29th from 11 AM EST to stream the new track!

Here's the press release for the forthcoming new Dream Theater album:

Progressive titans Dream Theater have announced the title/release date of their new album.

(New York, NY): The recent announcement that Mike Mangini would be joining DREAM THEATER, replacing departed drummer Mike Portnoy, caused such fanfare that Mangini was a trending topic on Twitter, second only to Will and Kate's recent nuptuals!
Now, the band have finally revealed more about their imending new opus - 'A Dramatic Turn of Events.'
The much-anticipated platter, which marks Mangini's recorded debut, will be released via Roadrunner Records on September 12th and will be supported by a massive world tour.

"I'm incredibly psyched with the way this album came out and can't wait to share it with everybody," guitarist John Petrucci, who also serves as the album's producer, said. "We are currently in the mix stage with the great Andy Wallace and it's all sounding amazing!"

"We have poured our hearts and minds into the creation of this album," keyboardist Jordan Rudess continues. "All the life changing events that surrounded us before, as well as during the whole process, fueled our desire to dig deep within ourselves and create the best music we possibly could."
Vocalist James LaBrie adds, "In the grand scheme of Dream Theater's career, the last several months have been such an incredibly positive, fulfilling and rewarding experience. The new songs and sound has never been so spirited or rejuvenating. I cannot wait for every one of our fans to sink their audio senses into this batch of tunes."

The track listing for 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' is as follows:

1. On the Backs of Angels
2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down
3. Lost Not Forgotten
4. This is the Life
5. The Shaman's Trance
6. Outcry
7. Far From Heaven
8. Breaking All Illusions
9. Beneath The Surface

Official band website:

After having already toured the US in certain market areas in support of their latest release, 'The Covering,' Stryper are to hit the North American road again in the Fall.
This slight update from the band's site.

As promised, Stryper is booking more tour dates!
Check out the TOUR DATES section for the latest dates. More dates will be added as they are confirmed!


XorigiN “State of the Art” – an AOR newcomer not to be missed!
Hailing from Scandinavia, XorigiN is the newest addition to the Frontiers Records ever expanding roster of artists and will release their debut album entitled “State of the Art” on August 23rd in North America and August 26th in Europe.

The band was originally named Orange Crush and was formed in Los Angeles in 1999, while the members where studying music at the Musicians Institute. The founding members Johannes Stole (vocals) and Daniel Palmqvist (guitar) later returned to their home countries of Norway and Sweden and continued collaborating on various projects in between their other engagements. Johannes is currently a sought after session singer/artist in Oslo, Norway and has released 2 critically acclaimed albums with progressive rock band Slaves To Fashion.
Daniel has released a well received instrumental solo album, appeared as a session guitarist on a number of albums and is the former guitarist for the band The Murder Of My Sweet

Melodic hard rock with a modern edge would be a fitting description of XorigiN's music.
Musically they draw on influences such as Toto, Giant, Journey and Yes (“90125”/”Big Generator” era) to name a few, but still keeping their own personal sound and musical identity intact. Strong melodies, well crafted songs and catchy vocal arrangements are their trademark. “It is our version of what AOR should sound like, catchy melodic tunes with rocking guitars and big hooks!”, says Johannes, “Our musical influences definitely shine through, but there’s also something uniquely ours mixed in there as well” adds Daniel.
“State of the Art” was produced by Daniel Flores (Mind’s Eye, The Murder of My Sweet) and promises to put the band on the radar of all the classic Melodic Rock fans! You will certainly hear more from these guys “We're in this for the long run and are already writing for the next album” says Stole while Palmqvist adds Hopefully the album will be well received and we certainly have a wish to take these songs to the stage”.
State of the Art includes the following songs
Can´t Keep Running; Crying For You; In The Blink Of An Eye; Too Late; Gina; This Is It; The One For Me; Said And Done; Matters To The Heart; What Love Is All About; Mend My Heart. Includes bonus videoclip Can’t Keep Running.

You can enjoy the album trailer following this link:

“Can’t Keep Running” can be streamed and listened to in full on the Frontiers Records web radio:

Weblinks: /

Johnny Winter releases "Live Rockpalast 1979" DVD and
Live Rockpalast 1979 features Johnny Winter and his three piece band live on Germany's famous Rockpalast TV show in 1979... Straight up blues like only Johnny can deliver, lean and mean. Johnny and the band also blaze through some killer covers like the Rolling Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Suzie Q."
Of this program, guitar journalist Sean McDevitt writes:
Cover Art

Johnny Winter had nothing to prove by the time April of 1979 arrived. Thirty-five years old, he was an established international star and already a decade removed from his seminal 1969 debut-a groundbreaking record followed by an unforgettable appearance at Woodstock, scores of sold-out arenas, a well documented stint in drug rehabilitation, and a steady stream of celebrated albums.
But as this performance makes clear, Winter's musical soul wasn't entirely at peace the night he stepped before a massive audience in Essen, Germany, to record a performance for the popular German television program Rockpalast ("Rock Palace"). The Texan, armed with his Gibson Firebird was on a mission to reaffirm for his audience-including millions watching the broadcast across Europe-his devotion to the blues, the music that consumed him as a young man during the 1950s and '60s but was later cast aside as rock stardom beckoned.
The proof can be found in the night's setlist: "Hideaway," the guitar workout made famous by Freddie King, kicks things off. It's followed by "Messin' with the Kid," a staple of Chicago harp master Junior Wells. "Walkin' by Myself," co-penned by another Chicago great, Jimmy Rogers, follows.
But it's not just what Winter plays that tells the tale; it's what he says. "I hope there's some people out there that get off on blues," he offers. "I know we've got a lot of rock and rollers. But you've gotta remember that if it wasn't for the blues, there wouldn't be no rock and roll."
And with that, the master goes deep into the Delta, unleashing a breathtaking, 17-minute reading of Willie Brown's "Mississippi Blues," an undeniable highlight of this unforgettable night. Winter follows up with Sleepy John Estes' "Divin' Duck" before attacking Dale Hawkins' "Susie Q."
Ever gracious, on "I'm Ready," Johnny picks up a bass as his bassist fires away on guitar. The arrangement continues for "Rockabilly Boogie," a joyous performance replete with some crowd-pleasing showmanship. But then it's back to the blues.
"Well I know I'm fighting a losing battle, but I'm gonna to try to do some more blues," Winter says. "I hope there's somebody out there that might understand what that is and might want to hear a little bit of it." And with that, Johnny delivers a master class medley that leads off with Robert Johnson's "Stones in My Passway."
The artist finally throws a bone to the rock enthusiasts with a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash." But it's best to think of this offering as a reward, not a concession. Johnny Winter's statement on this night had long since been made.

Check out a You Tube clip for the DVD right here:
To get a hold of a copy of of this:

Another seven years has passed since the release of the "The Ballads III"  from Axel Rudi Pell. Seven years of writing, recording and collecting even more emotional and melancholic songs. To keep with the tradition, the band decided to record 3 brand new tracks for this ballad compilation.
Here is a short introduction by AXEL himself to every new song in the specific running order:

WHERE THE WILD WATERS FLOW -"My own composition in the true ARP ballad style.
This song is not about love, it has a more mysterious content and it captures the long and hopeless journey of human beings trying to get away from some dark nights. One can apply this to many different thoughts and situations nowadays. I definitely think that this song is one of the strongest ballads I´ve ever written with a hookline that will stick to everyone´s ears !"

HOLY DIVER - "As everybody knows, my soul mate and friend Ronnie James Dio sadly passed away last year. It was very clear to me I needed to use one of his songs to pay him tribute. It had to be a song, which was very easily recognizable as one of his tunes and therefore I picked "Holy Diver". Of course the original track isn´t a ballad, so I decided to re-arrange the song completely and we made a Piano version out of it, featuring some Orchestra strings, a Cello and a clean and melodic guitar solo. Johnny gave his very best vocal performance and after the track was finished, there were lots of tears in some eyes..."

HALLELUJAH - "At least one of the best ballads around. Originally written and released by Leonard Cohen in 1984, it wasn´t his version giving me the idea to cover this tune. Actually it was all the good and bad performances of some TV casting show participants, who gave me the real kick to create one of the, hopefully, ultimate versions of this song. We recorded a children´s choir for this, which fits perfectly to Johnny´s emotional and soulful voice. There are 2 different versions of this track: the CD album version which features a slightly wilder guitar solo and the "Single" (and downloadable) version which features a calmer guitar solo. "

"The Ballads IV" will be released as standard version and digital download in North America through SPV/Steamhammer.

"The Ballads IV" - Tracklisting:
2) HOLY DIVER (new song)
3) HALLELUJAH (new song)
5) NOBLESSE OBLIGE (Opus #5 Adagio Contabile)
12) HAUNTED CASTLE SERENADE (Opus #4 Grazioso E Agresso)
"Where The Wild Waters Flow", "Holy Diver" and "Hallelujah" were recorded, mixed and co-produced by Charlie Bauerfeind at Twilight Hall Studios in Grefrath, Germany, in May 2011. The CD was mastered by Ulf Horbelt at DMS Mastering Studios in Marl, Germany. The cover illustration was created by Martin McKenna.

 "The Ballads IV" - Release Dates:
Germany: September 23rd, 2011
Europe: September 26th, 2011
USA/Canada: September 27th, 2011
Johnny Gioeli - Lead und Backing Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell - Lead, Rhythm und Acoustic Guitars
Ferdy Doernberg - Keyboards
Volker Krawczak - Bass
Mike Terrana - Drums
For More Info Visit:

CHICAGO to perform only UK concert in London, on July 6th
CHICAGO, one of the most successful rock’n’roll bands of all time, will perform a special one-off “Greatest Hits” UK concert at London’s HMV Hammersmith Apollo on Wednesday 6th July. Tickets are available from 0844 888 9991 and 0844 847 1642. Book online:, The London show will be their only UK date this year.
The multi-million selling band’s greatest hits set will include classic songs such as Colour My World, Hard to Say I’m Sorry, Saturday In The Park, and If You Leave Me Now, which reached topped the singles charts, both in the UK and America.

Chicago’s numerous lifetime achievements include multiple Grammy Awards, American Music Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Their record sales are in excess of 100 million; including 21 Top 10 singles, 5 consecutive Number One albums, 11 Number One singles and 5 Gold singles. Twenty five of their 32 albums have been certified platinum.

Read the official online announcement here -

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Journey – Eclipse album review
Released through: Walmart (USA / Canada), Frontiers (Europe)
Release Date: Available now!

Yes, it’s here!
The new album ‘Eclipse’ from Journey, possibly or should that be probably ..., America’s favorite AOR / Melodic rock band is here!
That of course is a ‘bold’ statement, but based on how fans of the band seem to vote with their feet, in attending the bands’ constant lengthy US road trips and how the fans have once more rallied behind the band and the latest albums, with ‘Revelation’ charting at number five, in Billboards Top 200 back in 2008 and this one having already charted at number thirteen.
Not bad for a band now featuring a lead vocalist they found through You Tube?
To be honest that’s very harsh on the very talented Arnel Pineda, who was previously fronting ‘The Zoo,’ a covers band in the Philippines, but whose talents vocally are all too clear to hear.
Journey,  currently features founder members Neal Schon (Guitars, b/vocals) and Ross Valory (Bass, b/vocals), alongside longtime member since 1980, Jonathan Cain (Keyboards, Guitars, b/vocals), drummer / vocalist Deen Castronovo and the aforementioned, Arnel Pineda.

So, are you all excited? Enjoying it so far, those that have already bought it?
It’s probably going to take a lot of diehard Journey fans some getting into I must say. There’s a distinctly heavier, harder, dare I say almost darker edge to it than anything from the band in years.
It’s clearly a very good piece of work, but it’s taken me a little getting into and I can honestly say, that I have enjoyed every Journey line up, I’ve ever heard over the many years.

 Opening track ‘City of Hope,’ will no doubt keep the diehard fans very happy!
Some nice guitar build up from Neal Schon, with keys easing in with the band close behind and a vocal from Arnel that will keep the old fans of Steve Perry’s vocal style very happy.
I’d just like to add at this point that yes, the band did pick the man to sing for them since he could clearly hit those Perry notes, but he’s also got his own pitch / tone, which you’ll hear throughout the album.

Guitars, alongside hi-hats lead next track ‘Edge of the Moment’ and Schon’s guitar leads this track, right the way through.
Fans of old may be thinking, OK, this sounds a little different and it does, but fans that have stuck with the band since Perry’s departure may well remember the different edge the band kicked in, when Steve Augeri initially replaced Perry.
Augeri for those that didn’t know it, sung on three Journey studio albums over an eight year period.

‘Chain of Love’ starts atmospherically, not unlike an ‘X Files’ intro, as it builds with keyboards growing and swirling, alongside Arnel’s haunting vocal and then in kicks a Led Zeppelin style riff and supporting mystic string sounds through the verses.
The vocal drives a big chorus and this is one track that has really grown on me.
Some seriously nice layers in this six plus minute mini epic track, give it a chance and you’ll grow to love it too!

OK Journey power ballad fans, here’s a track for you starting with strings, piano and vocals before the drums kick in, slightly in and out of time initially and it freaks me and I’ve played the track a number of times back and forth and it still sounds clever. Schon is busy playing his heart (Guitar!) out throughout. When you play it, take a moment here to hear how much he’s squeezing every ounce of sound that he can from his guitar.
It's another long’ish track at just under six and a half minutes and you’ll find that in fact there is just one track that is less than four minutes and that's the closing instrumental.
Everything else on here is pretty much five or six plus minutes long, quite possibly why it takes a little more getting into overall.

‘Anything Is Possible’ starts a little laid back before getting into a mid-paced more commercial (Traditional) Journey style song. Just listen to the big harmonies in the choruses here, much more predominant.
Schon really goes for it toward the latter part of the song, riffing ‘til his heart’s content!
Atmospherics are back on the intro to ‘Resonate’ which is a darker number generally, as it grows and builds to a slower, deeper, yet steady paced number, but Arnel still puts his mark on this with a very strong vocal.
‘She’s A Mystery’ next is quite different again for Journey, a very interesting track, that starts very off the wall if you will, with just the vocals/guitar/bass/strings going, then about a third of the way into the song, just a little hi-hit and some brushes on the snare, then just past the halfway mark it starts to grow and then as it hit hits the final third, it really kicks in and rocks darkly!
This track is actually a co-write between Schon, Cain and Pineda, the only one here from these three..

With ‘Human Feel’ I guess you could almost be forgiven for not thinking we’ve not got a little Santana going on, with the big rhythmic drumming intro that just builds the song up. There’s sound Hammond, some riffing and chunky guitars and big harmony kicks in just before the halfway mark and then Mr. Schon just let’s rip with some serious licks! Another epic like track for sure.

I will say, the band try to get a little more on track to true Journey with ‘Ritual’ next, some synths, piano in a punchy up tempo number, ala ‘Separate Ways’ or ‘Be Good To Yourself,’ although still a little rockier.
One thing that is apparent and is perhaps a little sad is that all songs are written by just Schon and Cain, with the exception of two tracks, the previously mentioned 'She's a Mystery' and the next number ’To Whom It May Concern,’ with input from Arnel and it seems a family member E. Pineda(His wife?), which works towards a more classic Journey sound, but again as much of the album is, it’s another mini epic in its own right.  
‘Someone’ is the last vocal track on the album and it’s a lot more again working the traditional Journey sound, mid to up tempo driven number.
Neal Schon guitar playing is clearly the overall driving sound throughout, more so perhaps than in a long time.
‘Venus’ is an instrumental riff fest for Neal Schon basically; although I think Deen Castronovo is getting quite a free reign on this one too.
The previous album ‘Revelation’ was overall a more safe direction perhaps; whereas with ‘Eclipse’ the band is without doubt trying to reach out to a wider audience and I would say they will most likely win a few new fans with this one too.
It’s a bold move and a bold new world for Journey with a more edgy vibe.
 Let’s hope the old ones aren’t disappointed by lack of more syrupy ballads!
Rating:  4.25 out of 5

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Christopher Cross – Doctor Faith album review

Christopher Cross – Doctor Faith album review
Released through: Edel GmbH / Eagle Rock Entertainment.
Release date: Available now

It’s really been close on twelve years since the last ‘proper’ Christopher Cross in ‘Red Room,’ back in 2000.
The two Christmas albums, I’m sorry, I’m not going to even go there ...

I know there’s been an acoustic release of his best known songs but again, that’s really not new material, so here we are, it’s 2011 and the man that bought a bunch of well-known songs to many and some really well put together albums – ‘Christopher Cross,’ ‘Another Page,’ ‘Every Turn of The World’ and ‘Back of my Mind’ – that were very good indeed, has a new album.
'Doctor Faith' is the product in question and ..., well, if you read through it and like what you read and have a pretty good memory there's giveaway competition at the end ... So read on! 
The guy has had two number one hit singles in the US alone, in ‘Sailing’ and ‘Arthur’s Theme (The Best that you can Do),’ and ‘Ride like the Wind’ was number two on Billboard as well!
 Your thinking, Al, this isn’t rock...? I’m sorry, listen again folks, no it’s not hard rock, well, not even classic rock as such, but you can hear the underlying sound of rock guitar, without doubt. It’s smooth, laid back pop rock, of a class nature.
The man has had some class session musician’s play with him in the past, I’m not going to name them, you go look yourselves, class stuff and the man can play himself, which he’s proven right here too!
In the past, he’s called on many name artists to help out, but on this new one perhaps just two of the special guests will sound familiar, smooth vocalist Michael McDonald (Doobies, Steely Dan) and Eric Johnson, a guitar star in his own right.
Other guests are on Sax, David Mann (James Taylor, Paul Simon, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart) and John Thomas on piano.
The other musicians on the album are drummer Dave Beyer and Mark Browne on bass.

It really is a good album which opens well with ‘Hey Kid’ and this is nice, laid back pop rock / AOR, really with some help on guitar from Eric Johnson on this one! Love it!
Welcome back Christopher, this opener had me hooked and pleased to hear new material from you once again.

‘I’m Too old for This’ is another prime slice in a similar style to ‘Hey Kid,’ very slick stuff indeed and in fact he brings to mind the late, very talented Gerry Rafferty (RIP) to a degree. Really nice track indeed!

In ‘When You Come Home’ it’s time to get laid back for real and he’s got the big old orchestra going on here too, it’s another smooth piece of work, from the man that seems to know just how to present this material so well.
‘Dreamers’ continues the laid back sound, with an almost Celtic touch and his voice sounds as smooth as it ever did with some almost Beach Boy’s style harmonizing, not to mention the absolutely ace of a guitar solo, that gives the song a special lift, sweet!
 The ballad driven style continues with ‘November’ which is simply piano, strings and that man’s slick voice.

Things pick up in an almost Chicago style manner with ‘Leave it To Me’ next, which is a more mid paced number, with some nice brass touches, some nice bass work too. Good stuff, but a guitar break would’ve fitted well too, guess I’m too greedy!?

Michael McDonald helps out mainly with the choruses and the bridge, with the title track, ‘Doctor Faith’ which is a slow to mid-paced number. I do like the drum fill on this, a little fancy, but not overboard.

The way the sax from David Mann brings in the opening of ‘Rescue,’ almost leads, like something on a Steve Lukather or Toto album, but it’s a lot more laid back and moody styled. More smooth sax later in the track too.

Some vibrato to the main man’s guitar on ‘Help Me Cry,’ which is a little more commercial sounding laid back pop ballad, that at times brings to mind Chicago. I guess at times Mr. Cross sounds not unlike Peter Cetera.

Vocally Christopher Cross tries to pick things up with next number ‘Still I Resist,’ but it’s still generally melancholy stuff.
The soulful guitar solo midway through, is brief, but effective.

Time to pick things up just a little with ‘Poor Man’s Ecstasy,’ which although starting slow, kicks up a gear soon enough and wants to rock and you just wonder why the man doesn’t really just let rip sometimes, I reckon he’d be great!
‘Everything’ brings David Mann’s sax back again, along with some strings for a steady, but gentle pop ballad.
Final track ‘Prayin’’ is in a similar style as ‘November’ with vocals, strings, but driven by a lightly strummed acoustic guitar.
So overall, what would people expect from Christopher Cross for a new album? Easy going ballads?
Well if your answer is yes, there are quite a few of them here, a few more upbeat numbers, couple of poppy tunes too, but overall, slick laid back stuff indeed.
The musicianship is all too clearly classy, the numbers that pick up obviously tend to be my favorites and I do wish there were a few more, but the guy has come back with an album that is bound to please the majority of his old fans, looking to reminisce.
If you’re thinking you long to hear numbers like, ‘Sailing,’ ‘Arthur’s Theme’ and ‘Think of Laura’ and I’m sure you’ll be happy with this. I’d have preferred an album more like ‘Back of my Mind,’ but this is still very well done!
 Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Full tracklisting:
Hey Kid
I'm Too Old For This
When You Come Home
Leave It To Me
Doctor Faith
Help Me Cry
Still I Resist
Poor Man's Ecstasy

Official website:
So, who is ready to answer a question on Christopher Cross for an autographed copy of 'Doctor Faith' from Christopher Cross, courtesy of Universal Music and a runner up prize of a regular copy of the CD, not autographed?
The first correct answer will get the signed copy, the second correct answer will get the regular copy.

The question is this, Ride Like the Wind was covered in a very different way, in 1988.
Who was the act that did so?

Giveaway rules:
1. Answers to me at:
2. Please provide your full name and postal address.
3. The contest is open to US and Canadian residents only.
4. Please understand, there are ONLY  two copies, one signed, one not and the editors decision is final.
 5. Competition closes Friday 1st July, 2011.