It had been a long time comin’ when ex – Little Angels singer Toby Jepson made his, for me, long-awaited come back to the scene with his new band, Wayward Sons. I have been a big fan of Little Angels since their 1990 debut Don’t Prey For Me and I always loved Jepson’s voice. Jepson has had a few projects since Little Angels’ split in 1994 – Toby And The Whole Truth, the singer spot in both Gun and Fastway – but none of them sported any longevity and to be fair, I had almost forgotten about Jepson had it not been for the short-lived Little Angels reunion a few years back.
When Flying Colors released their self-titled debut album back in 2012, I thought they would be just another one-off project. The members – Casey McPherson (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), Steve Morse (lead guitar), Dave LaRue (bass), Mike Portnoy (drums) and Neal Morse (keyboards, lead vocals) – are dudes with tight schedules in bands such as Deep Purple, Neal Morse Band, solo careers and studio jobs and in Portnoy’s case, a gazillion other bands such as The Winery Dogs and today Sons Of Apollo. That record totally knocked me for six and I was hoping for a continuation – which I got in 2014 with the equally brilliant Second Nature. They even played live at some occasions and now when their third record has hit the shelves, I think it’s time to start seeing them as a real band. Fact is, I wouldn’t mind if the guys started seeing Flying Colors as their main priority. Of course, when you have two magnificent releases in the back-water, there are some major expectations when new stuff is released.
I admit, I fully embraced Steel Panther’s juvenile and pubertal piss-take on 80’s glam-metal – which also included a big passion and love for the genre – from go. Their debut album Feel The Steel (2009) still puts a moronic grin on my face when I hear it. But, Steel Panther weren’t only a joke-band, the guys could – and still can – play like the best of them and they sure know their way around a big hook and a catchy chorus. When I saw the band live the first time it was part rock-concert and part Heavy Metal stand-up comedy. I laughed myself silly and I wasn’t the only one. But I also wondered just how far Steel Panther could take their brand before it got old. Too bad for Steel Panther, it didn’t last all that long. I liked their second album Balls Out (2011) as well and another brain-dead in the name of fun gig at Sweden Rock brought on a good time for me. But after that, I found it hard to go further with the band.
I still don’t get the reason behind this side-project. That artists of today start side-projects isn’t strange at all, it happens all the time. But what I don’t get is why Gotthard guitarist Leo Leoni – together with drumming bandmate Hena Habegger, bassist Mila Merker, second guitarist Jgor Gianola and singer Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, The Ferrymen) – instead of writing new music has decided on re-recording old Gotthard-songs. I mean, I get that he wants to give those oldies new life to get the recognition he think they deserve, but why not do it with Gotthard and give singer Nic Maeder a shot at making those song his? To be honest, this project sends out some pretty mixed signals. Isn’t Leoni content with the band without Steve Lee? I’m not saying that this isn’t a qualitative project, I just don’t get the reason behind it.
If you’re a friend of mine or has followed my site, you know that I’m a massive fan of Danish rockers Pretty Maids, a fan to the point of I’m almost hesitant if I can stay objective when writing reviews of their albums. Jokingly aside, I have loved Pretty Maids big-time since I first heard “Back To Back” on the radio back in 1984 and they’re among my top five favorite bands of all time, with no album out worse than damn good. Any bad songs? I actually can’t think of one. Less good, there are a few, but no bad ones. When it comes to writing songs, Ronnie Atkins (vocals) and Ken Hammer (guitars) has a lowest level that’s so high it’s unreal and to manage to keep the enormous high qualities album after album for 35 years (the new album is their 17th studio album if you count their self-titled debut E.P. from 1983) is damn impressive – and then some! Whenever Pretty Maids releases a new album I KNOW it’s going to be at least a good one.
The news of the formation of the band KXM were exciting. With the members Dug Pinnick (King’s X) on bass and vocals, George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob, Sweet & Lynch) on guitars and drummer Ray Luzier (Korn, David Lee Roth) I expected the debut record that came out in 2014 to be a real killer. It wasn’t a killer but it was an interesting piece of music that didn’t stick by first listen – a grower. I liked it when it came out but truth be told, I really haven’t given the album much thought in a few years. KXM also released a follow-up in 2017 called Scatterbrain, an album that completely passed me by. I didn’t know it existed until I started writing this review. Now, with a third effort out, I really don’t have any expectations at all – which do not mean I’m blasé about it – but my hope is up that they will deliver the goods this time.
Would anyone have blamed Martin Sweet (guitar), Peter London (bass) and Eric Young (drums) if they just hung in their stage-gear in the closet and bailed music after their third singer went AWOL? I sure wouldn’t. Few bands have been struck with so much bad-luck like this band has when it comes to having the rug pulled out right under their feet – time and again. First the sad death of original singer Dave Leppard after one album, an album that gave them quite a big fan-base right off the bat. The replacement singer Oliver Twisted became Olli Hermann and started his own band, the underwhelming Reckless Love and when they thought they had found a singer that would stick it out for the long run, the perfectly matching Simon Cruz, the guy bailed after two records, never to be heard from again. Come to think of it, where the hell did Simon go anyway? After four records it sure looked like the Crashdïet saga were over – but I guess fate wouldn’t have that The Savage Playground should be their retiring album, thank you very much.
Since Michael Schenker finally got sober for real some 10+ years ago, he has become more creative than in a long, long time. It all began with his his Temple Of Rock project which spawned four albums since 2011 and with his latest project, the Michael Schenker Fest, he has released two studio albums – including this one – and one live effort, plus an extensive amount of touring. When Schenker goes into reunion mode, it’s not only with one of his old singers but almost everyone of them – Leif Sundin who sang on 1996’s Written In The Sand excluded. Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet, Robin McAuley and Doogie White are all present. This album also features Ronnie Romero (Rainbow, CoreLeoni, The Ferrymen, Lords Of Black) as lead vocalist on one track. Romero has no connection to Schenker what so ever so why he is on the album, I’m pretty clueless of.
I had just finished writing a review of an album by one of those “we didn’t make it 30 years ago, maybe we’ll do it now” bands when it was time to sink my teeth into another one. I’m not trying to bash or make fun of those bands at all, I honestly wish that they had blown my mind with their new albums but unfortunately that seldom happens – and many are the bands that have tried. Spread Eagle. Tora Tora. Babylon A.D. Pretty Boy Floyd. Every Mother’s Nightmare. Autograph. None of them has put out reunion albums that delivered the goods – to my personal taste – and most of them are bands I wasn’t a fan of even back when, Autograph and Tora Tora excluded. Jetboy released a good one, though – and so did Black ‘N Blue, but in the case of the latter, that was eight years ago and not much has been heard of them since, which is a pity. This time it’s Melodic Rock/Arena Rock one-album-affair band Roxy Blue’s time to give it one more shot.
I clearly remember when I first heard of Spread Eagle. Headbanger’s Ball Europe premiered their debut video for “Scratch Like A Cat”, the first single off their self-titled debut album back in 1990 and Vanessa Warwick was specific that these guys were the new hot shit from NYC. I understood nada. I didn’t like the song one bit. Later on they also viewed their second single “Switchblade Serenade”. That was slightly better so I borrowed the CD from a friend. I didn’t like it and my relationship with Spread Eagle ended there. I didn’t even know until just now that they had a follow-up, Open To The Public in 1993. But Spread Eagle never made the big time and in 1995 they called it a day and it seemed like the band would for ever be a parenthesis in Hard Rock history. But fate would come to have a say in the matter and in 2006, original members, singer Ray West and bassist Rob De Luca – who’d be making a living playing with acts like Sebastian Bach, Joan Jett and is now a touring member of UFO – decided to do a few reunion shows.