The End Machine – The End Machine

Longing for a full-time Dokken reunion, are we? Well, as long as you’re not a Japanese resident, then I wouldn’t hold my breath for it. It sure looks like the reunion gigs in Japan were one-offs and even though they did release a new song and video for the live album recorded at those gigs – Return To The East: Live (2016), a full-time reunion isn’t all that likely. Don Dokken is planning a new record with his version of Dokken and the other three guys, well they have formed this band – The End Machine. Together with singer Robert Mason (Warrant, ex- Lynch Mob, Cry Of Love, Big Cock), guitarist George Lynch (Lynch Mob, Sweet & Lynch, KXM, Souls Of We), bassist Jeff Pilson (Foreigner, War & Peace, Dio) and drummer Mick Brown (Ted Nugent, Lynch Mob) decided to go their own way and form a new project. As this is is 3/4 of the original band, this is the closest you’ll ever get to Dokken unless they have a big change of heart.

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Buckcherry – Warpaint

It was now four years since Buckcherry released their last record Rock N Roll, an album that didn’t exactly set the world on fire. I dug it though and I have yet to be disappointed by a Buckcherry release. I was never a big fan to begin with, I had tried to get into Buckcherry since their self-titled debut back in 1999 and none of the follow-ups Time Bomb (2001) or 15 (2005) managed to get me hooked. I discovered the band with the brilliant Black Butterfly (2008) – still my favorite Buckcherry record – and every record since has kicked my butt, so there are expectations on this record, a record I was a bit surprised that it actually showed up. Because stuff has happened in the Buckcherry camp in the last couple of years.

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Tesla – Shock

I love Tesla. Always have. However, it would take me all the way up until 2008 for me to see them live, when they played Sweden Rock Festival and put on a brilliant performance. Heaven. Tesla were never a big act in Europe so they didn’t make it over to Sweden until 1990 supporting the Scorpions and I missed that gig. Tesla were big in the States though, with their three first albums – Mechanical Resonance (1986), The Great Radio Controversy (1989) and Psychotic Supper (1991) all shipping platinum over there. Since they were lumped together with the rest of the arena-rockers back then, Grunge killed them off as well, making their very underrated 1994 album Bust A Nut a flop. And then they split, just like most of the popular Hard Rock bands that were around in the 80’s did. I always found Tesla different from the rest, though. Sure, they too had the power ballads here and there, but their music was rawer and raunchier and not as slickly produced.

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Rock Goddess – This Time

“Dude, you gotta hear this band, they’re all chicks but they kick ass!!” That’s what a friend of mine said to me one day at school back in 1983 and the album he was talking about was Rock Goddess’ self-titled debut album. He was right which meant that I had to get buy that album right away. I still think it’s a great album. The follow-up, Hell Hath No Fury, was released only eight months later and not long after that, the band – Jody Turner (guitars and vocals), Dee O’Malley who had replaced Tracey Lamb soon after the debut album’s release, (bass) and Julie Turner (drums) – visited Sweden on two occasions, once as support to Iron Maiden and once to Def Leppard. I, of course, missed both gigs. But Sweden’s only music mag, Okej, featured the band on several occasions and I remember the 15-year old me having a big crush on drummer Julie who was around that age herself.

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Backyard Babies – Sliver and Gold

Every now and then, I hear comments from fans that Backyard Babies has been on a downward spiral – albeit maybe not a very steep one – since they released Total 13 back in 1998. Me, I beg to differ vigorously on that one – for me it’s the opposite, maybe for the exception of the underwhelming People Like People Like People Like Us (2006). Then again, I’m neither a big Punk fan or someone who took Backyard Babies to my heart when they first started out. The first BYB album that did it for me all the way through was their self-titled comeback album from 2008 and their even more come back album, 2015’s Four By Four. See, I really dug when BYB decide to change some of their Punk in favor of more Arena Rock-like arrangements with a slight nod to Melodic Hard Rock

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Tora Tora – Bastards of Beale

I first heard of this American Rock band back in the late 80’s when their video, “Walkin’ Shoes”, taken from their debut album Surprise Attack (1989) was played on Headbanger’s Ball every now and then. I thought the song was ok but I never gave the band much notice. The same thing happened when Vanessa Warwick started to plug the leading single “Amnesia” from their 1992 follow-up Wild America. To me, that song sounded like a grittier Great White and I really dug it so I had a friend making me a copy of that album. Even though I found it ok, that copy never got played that often and I soon forgot about it. When I found out that Tora Tora – the band name taken either from a Van Halen song or a Japanese movie from 1970 – had reunited, I decided to dig Wild America up for another taste – and lo and behold, this time it really hit home. It’s a damn good record full of crunchy Hard Rock with its feet in the 70’s but with a sleazy 80’s vibe.

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West Bound – Volume 1

The first thing I did when I got the reviewer’s link and press release to this record was to check who the members of this band/project were because the name itself didn’t say anything – and I only recognized one name out of five – guitarist Roy Z, a guy who plays in a band called Tribe Of Gypsies but is mostly known as a producer for icons like Rob Halford (Judas Priest) and Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden). It also appears that other members of this lot are in Tribe Of Gypsies – a band that released their last album in 2006. Vocalist and founder of this band, Chas West (Resurrection Kings, Bonham, Lynch Mob) and drummer Dave Moreno was on the that album but the rest of the lot – guitarist Jimmy Burkard and bassist Jason Cornwell – are new names to me. The press release’s “For fans Of” section wrote Red Dragon Cartel, Steelheart, Tora Tora, Lynch Mob and L.A. Guns as possible musical alikes and while some of those are stable and ok acts, none of them makes me go “WOW!”.

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Last In Line – II

I had such high hopes for this band. Let’s face it, three of the guys – guitarist Vivian Campbell (Def Leppard, Whitesnake, Riverdogs, Shadow King), bassist Jimmy Bain (Rainbow, Wild Horses) and drummer Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, WW III) – didn’t only play on but also helped to write the classic Dio albums Holy Diver (1983), The Last In Line (1984) and Sacred Heart (1985) and they were joined by big voice Andrew Freeman (Devil’s Hand, Lynch Mob, Hurricane) so it wasn’t any wonder my expectations on this project’s/band’s debut album Heavy Crown (2016) shot through the roof. Unfortunately, that album didn’t live up to my sky-rocketing expectations. Maybe I had set them too high because it wasn’t a bad album, I was just disappointed because I had thought it would be a real earthshaker. But it wasn’t. It was a pretty good album that style wise brought early Dio to mind but it was also a bit forgettable.

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Starbreaker – Dysphoria

Singer Tony Harnell’s ride with his former band TNT has been a bumpy one – and the some. In fact, his whole career the last few years has been something of a roller-coaster ride. TNT split up for the first time in 1992 but reunited in 1997. In 2006, Harnell quit the band but reunited with them in 2013 only to leave again one year later. He then fronted Skid Row for five minutes. He came back to TNT in 2016 and a talk of a new album began but in 2017 he decided to jump the ship again, this time for good. In his time outside of TNT, Harnell made records with side-projects as Westworld, Morning Wood and most recently with his own projects Tony Harnell & The Mercury Train – who recorded an album, Round Trip (2010), which consisted of acoustically rerecorded songs from his career – and Tony Harnell & The Wildflowers featuring Bumblefoot. He also released an EP called Cinematic from his website in 2008.

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Jetboy – Born to Fly

Filed under “Didn’t make it then, won’t make it now!” I know, a bit harsh but the fact is, Jetboy were one of those American Sleaze-Glam-Hard Rock bands from the late 80’s that never really made it big back in the day. There are a bunch of those bands that have decided to reunite 30 years later (Tora Tora, Babylon A.D., Black ‘N Blue to mention a few) and the bitter truth is that they most likely won’t make it big this time around either. Remember, I never said they sucked because whether they were bad or good is beside the point. For me, however, Jetboy for me weren’t of any interest back then. I saw a couple of videos on Headbanger’s Ball, noticed that they had ex- Hanoi Rocks bassist Sam Yaffa in the band as the replacement for the deceased Todd Crew, but those songs never made an impact on me at all and I never either owned or listened to any of their albums.

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