I wonder how many people out there thought that after the first Väsby Rock Festival, back in 2013, that this festival would still be here two years later? Not that the festival was bad by any means, quite the contrary, but the fact is that there are as many festivals out there as there are mushrooms in the woods and the competition is really tough. This festival also takes place when many people are on vacation, meaning that both time and money can be short. The first year was clearly set by a tight budget and mostly Swedish bands were booked. The festival was only on for one day and the price was very cheap. But already by the second year the organisers had added one more day and the whole festival felt more “real”, with a real VIP section, a larger festival area and frankly, the whole thing felt like a miniature version of Sweden Rock Festival. Everything was there, the market and the food stands, but more intimate. They had also managed to book some really cool bands with bigger headliners such as Europe and Candlemass. How many tickets that were sold last year isn’t something I want to – or can – speculate in, but the Europe gig was pretty crowded. This year, however, the line-up was thinner. Of course, that depends on your taste in music, but the fact is, there was no big headliner that would draw the extra few thousand that could make VRF climb another step on the festival ladder. Let’s face it, it is pretty cool to have a band like WASP visiting a smaller suburb like Upplands Väsby, but WASP doesn’t draw a huge crowd. If they would tour Sweden alone they would draw a crowd less than 500 people, so it’s pretty easy to do the maths. Europe draws ten times as many people. So it was up the VRF organisation to put faith in people’s good-will and that there were enough rockers out there that has a music taste that synchronizes with this year’s line-up. And it sure didn’t help VRF that Live Nation decided to put up a free festival right in the middle of Stockholm on the same two days as VRF. That much for helping small festival organisers to survive in the already tough climate. VRF is hardly a threat to Live Nation so the stunt is not ok one bit. Shame on you, Live Nation!
When H.E.A.T. released their self titled debut album a few years back, in 2008, they created quite a stir in the AOR circuit and were hailed as the great new hope for the genre. But personally I never got the hype even though they had some pretty good songs. To me, the album lacked memorable songs and even though it was pretty clear the guys were all faultless musicians, I just couldn’t join in on the big praise that followed the album’s release. They have since participated in the Swedish part of the Eurovision Song Contest with ”1000 Miles”, a great song that made them a household name in their native Sweden.
Remember Asia? The band that started out as a supergroup containing members of Yes (Steve Howe, guitar), ELP (Carl Palmer, drums), Buggles (Geoff Downes, keyboards) and Uriah Heep and King Crimson (John Wetton, bass and lead vocals)? In 1981 they released their self titled debut album, had a huge hit with ”Heat Of The Moment” and sold millions of albums. The band’s orginial line up only remained for one more album, the underrated Alpha (1982) before member after member left the band until only keyboard player Geoff Downes remained. Howe was the first to go and was replaced by ex – Krokus guitar player Mandy Mayer, a very unexpected choice. The album, Astra (1983), was very good but failed to repeat the success of its predecessors and soon the whole band was gone, leaving only Downes as the remaining member.
Danish hard rockers Pretty Maids seem to be one of those bands that don’t know how or when to quit – a good thing for us listeners. Despite being so close to a major breakthrough, they never ever put the band to rest. They released their first EP in 1983, an E.P. that promised a lot and made some waves around Metal communities around mostly Europe and Scandinavia. They gained a reputation as a high-class Hard Rock band when they released their debut long player Red Hot And Heavy back in 1984 and they were extremely close to breaking it really big with their most popular album Future World in 1986, opening for big acts like Mötley Crüe and Whitesnake. But for some reason, their big break never came. It would take them three years – an extremely long time back in the 80’s – to release the phenomenal follow-up Jump The Gun and in 1990 it was like people had forgotten about the band.
To be honest, I didn’t know that Bulletboys were still alive. The question is, is there anyone left out there who actually know who Bulletboys are? For people my age that was around back in the early 90’s and watched Headbanger’s Ball constantly probably knows. But then again, how many actually care? Because in 2015, only lead singer Marq Torien and the name is left and to still call the band Bulletboys feels like an act of desperation. Another question is, will this band actually get to sell more copies of this album or get booked to more festivals or gigs if they use the Bulletboys moniker instead of, say, just Torien? I guess we’ll never know the answer to that, but I’m sceptical. It could actually be the other way around. Bulletboys rose from the ashes of Melodic Rock band King Kobra, formed by drummer Carmine Appice back in 1984, when he handpicked guitarists Mick Sweda and David Michael Philips, bass player Johnny Rod (later in W.A.S.P.) and lead vocalist Mark Free (now named Marcie and fronting AOR band Unruly Child).
I remember back in the late 80’s / early 90’s (yes, I’m an old fart…) when every band and their f**king mother got a record deal and hard rock bands grew like weeds in your backyard. It was almost impossible to keep up and check out every band that came along – and I was a young and single guy back then with all the time in the world. Things have changed since then, but in the last few years, the same thing has happened. Today there are so many bands around – new bands, old bands and reunited bands and all of them keep throwing out records like it was no tomorrow. Good thing, though, is that most of them take three – four years in between records now – in the early 90’s, two years in between records was a long time. But as an older – but still a music geek – man, I now have a family, job and other responsibilities and just like back then, it’s impossible to keep up. So, I just have to pick and choose which bands I have time to check out and review.
When melodic New Jersey rockers Trixter reunited back in 2007, their reunion wasn’t the only surprise. More so the fact that their reunion album New Audio Machine (2012) was a real killer. Trixter were never the world’s biggest band, to put it mildly, and their career didn’t really last long and when they split up I never heard anyone say they missed them. If we shall be honest here, Trixter were looked upon – and still are by some, I might add – as a bit of a joke – a band that people mention when the talk about what went wrong with the melodic pop-metal of the early 90’s (or Hair Metal as some people like to call it. How stupid!). Both Poison and Winger has been exposed to that kind of treatment before, but at least the latter never did deserve that. You don’t have to like them but if you can’t hear that Winger is a high quality rock band, you’re tone-deaf. Trixter didn’t deserve that treatment either. But I must admit, I was never a big fan even though I own their debut self titled album from 1990. And many people do, over one million Americans, to be precise.
If you’re a Kiss fan, there’s not a chance in Hell that you have missed the name Jean Beauvoir. As the co-writer for 80’s Kiss songs such as “Thrills In The Night”, “Who Wants To Be Lonely” and “Uh! All Night” with Paul Stanley, he has made himself a name in the Kiss community. Also, Beauvoir plays bass on a few tracks on both Animalize (1984) and Asylum (1985). Paul returned the favour by co-writing the songs “A Lover Like You” from Beauvoir’s band Voodoo X’s only album Volume 1 : The Awakening (1989) (a fantastic AOR / Melodic Rock album) and “Winterland” from the band Crown Of Thorn’s self titled debut from 1993. We’ll get back to them later. He has also written songs with the Ramones, Glenn Hughes, Doro, N’Sync, Debbie Harry and John Waite. Before that he made three records as the bass player with punk/trash rockers The Plasmatics, that featured wild singer Wendy O’ Williams (1949 – 1998), moved to Sweden for a few years and recorded two extremely underrated pop solo albums Drums Along The Mohawk (1986) and Jacknifed (1988) before he formed Voodoo X.
To once again write down an introduction for House Of Lords feels like a big waste of time after having reviewed several (two) of their earlier records (you can check out old reviews here and here). But what we can state is that this version of the band is a very creative and fast working band. This is their sixth album since this version of the band first popped up in 2006 with their critically acclaimed album World Upside Down. What’s remarkable is that band leader, lead vocalist and song writer James Christian also releases solo albums and works with his missus Robin Beck on her albums as well, still keeping the quality of both music and production intact. The thing is, even though there are dips on the albums here and there and some records are better than others, all the House Of Lords albums since 2006 has been really good and I think it’s quite impressing that Christian and his band, plus their song writing helping hands such as Jeff Kent and Tommy Denander, manages to reach such high quality album after album. To me, World Upside Down wasn’t all that, it felt more like Christian starting over, going slow and figuring out where the music would land and which way they would go.
Better late than never, right? I know, this mini album was released June 1st, but since I write all the reviews myself on this site and I do have a day job, family etc. it’s hard to keep up with all the releases. Also, a week of vacation on Sardinia, Italy didn’t speed things up either. But now I’m on it again. This is a mini album – or an E.P. if you like – and I have issues with mini albums. I never got the whole idea of making them, I mean, if you’re cutting an album then make a whole album, not just a few songs. Ah well, I guess there are good reasons for doing so and maybe it’s just me, but I really want at least 10 songs instead of only five. Exorcism is a new acquaintance for me.