My wife and I were just about to park our car when this fat, bad-ass groove came blasting through our car stereo speakers. We just had to stay put until the song ended and the DJ would let us know which band we were listening to. The DJ, however, was silent and a new song began. Dammit! It would take us another couple of days before we were informed that the band in question was called The Struts (a name that makes us Swedes smirk some as ‘struts’ means ostrich in Swedish…) and the song was called “Kiss This”. A quick google told me that the song was taken from the band’s debut album Everybody Wants (2014), an album that was reissued for the US in 2016 with some new songs added and a couple of songs removed. A quick visit on YouTube told me that The Struts had more killer tracks than “Kiss This” and a purchase of said album was a no-brainer for yours truly. The record was, of course, awesome and their gig at Sweden Rock Festival in 2016 was a real killer – the party was on at noon!
It was only one year and a couple of months since Bo Stagman (aka known as Zinny Zan) released his debut album under the Stagman moniker where he sang in his native tongue for the first time ever – and now he’s already back with the the follow-up Moder Jord (Mother Earth) – it sure seems like he’s on a creative high right now. The fact that the album – Är Ni Kvar Där Ute (Are You Still Out There) – was sung in Swedish wasn’t only new for him, it was just as out there for his fans as well, so it’s understandable that he must have been nervous of how the record would be received. But he needn’t have worried at all, the album got shitloads of rave reviews and his fans seems to have embraced his new me totally. To be honest, I have never been that big on music sung in Swedish and I can probably count the artists that I like that sings in Swedish on one hand. I just don’t think it sounds right, for the most part.
I won’t get into an introduction about Joe Perry here because if you don’t know who Joe Perry is you probably have lived on the moon for the last century or something. However, Perry’s solo career might have passed some people by as those records haven’t exactly sold millions and trillions and whatnot. Perry’s solo career started when he left Aerosmith back in 1980 and he released three albums under the Joe Perry Project moniker – Let The Music Do The Talkin’ (1980), I’ve Got The Rock ‘n’ Rolls Again (1981) and Once A Rocker, Always A Rocker (1983) before he rejoined Aerosmith for their 1985 album Done With Mirrors. Since Aerosmith haven’t been especially creative when it comes to releasing new music in later years, Perry have decided to be creative on his own instead and released records under his own name. Joe Perry (2005), Have Guitar, Will Travel (2009) and Joe Perry’s Merry Christmas (2014) didn’t exactly set the world on fire but at least they had him working both in the studio and on stage when his day job have been on hiatus. And now there’s a new record out by the legendary guitar player.
Right before Rick Springfield’s last album Rocket Science was released the word got out that Springfield was about to release a country album. A country album! I was worried plenty because even though I don’t have anything against mixing up rock music with a bit of country, plain country music really isn’t my keg of beer, so to speak. Well, it turned out that the whole country thing was a bit exaggerated. Sure, there were country vibes all over that album but for the most I think that album had all the right ingredients a Rick Springfield album should have – rock, pop, AOR, west-coast but with country influences here and there. And there was no need to worry – that album was awesome and I see it as a true Springfield record. For his new effort it was time for another change. This time Springfield is about to release a blues record. A blues record!
For the last ten years or so, Dan Reed has been like an old friend, a neighbour or something like that, at least for us Swedes. For a guy that spent most of the 90’s and a great deal of the 2000’s in more or less oblivion, the guy have turned up very frequently since 2008, especially here in Sweden and after his solo debut, the brilliant Coming Up For Air (2009) his visits became even more frequent. That said, you can probably guess how much we see of him now that he have resurrected his Dan Reed Network as well. Not that I’m complaining, Dan Reed is a brilliant performer be it alone with an acoustic guitar or when he slams things up with his buddies in the Network. Dan Reed Network’s reunion album Fight Another Day (2016) got some mixed reviews but in my book, the record is a grower and I think it’s an awesome record.
Solo artists with blues rock as their speciality aren’t usually my keg of beer. Sure, I can appreciate the odd song here and there by newer artists such as Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Joe Bonamassa and old school dudes like Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn – and I simply adore Eric Sardinas – but usually I just let all these artists pass me by if no one throws them at me. Swedish rocker Patrik Jansson – also a drummer in southern rockers Hellsingland Underground and melodic rockers Laney’s Legion – released his second solo album Here We Are back in 2015, this time as a guitarist and singer, and since I really like his other bands I had to check it out. Turned out that Jansson had a really big feel for playing the blues and even though his English comes with a Swedish accent, his voice was really damn fit for this kind of rock and lo and behold, I dug it – a lot. So when the time had come for a follow-up, there was no chance in Hell I’d miss out on that.
The year was 1989. On one side, bad-assed angry young men were kicking and screaming with fierce hearts and shitloads of testosterone, piss n’ vinegar – Metallica, Slayer, Testament and Megadeth thrashed things around like there was no tomorrow. On the other side we had the Sunset Strip where melodic rock, AOR, glam and sleaze bands such as Mötley Crüe, Skid Row, Bon Jovi, Poison and Winger were selling gazillion of records. And then there were the guys in the middle, bands that were too out there for the main stream audience having a hard time. And of course, we had a now glorified yet underground debut record by the Riverdogs.
I guess for many rockers out there – especially rockers outside of Sweden – the name Bo Stagman might not ring that many bells. But if I write Zinny Zan instead, said bells might just toll. For those with quiet bells, Bo Stagman is the birth name of Zinny Zan, the singing glam rocker that once started the band Easy Action in 1983 with the now ex- Europe gun slinger Kee Marcello and who later joined Kingpin, the band that became Shotgun Messiah that sold half a million copies of their 1989 self titled debut album in the U.S. alone. After leaving / got sacked from the band, he went home to his native Sweden and formed Grand Slam (who had Jacob Samuel, the lead singer from The Poodles on drums) that didn’t work, formed his own band Zan Clan whose debut album Citizen Of Wasteland (1994) blew dog – and therefore didn’t sell that many copies. Zinny split the band and recorded a criminally underrated (and very hard to get) solo album, City Boy Blues in 2002 only to resurrect Zan Clan two years later, now together with guitarist and producer Chris Laney (Pretty Maids, Shotgun, Laney’s Legion, Randy Piper’s Animal), guitarist Pontus Norgren (Hammerfall, The Poodles, Great King Rat, Talisman) (later replaced by Love Magnusson of Dynazty), bass player Pontus Egberg (Treat, King Diamond, The Poodles, Lion’s Share) (later replaced by Nalley Påhlsson of Royal Mess, Therion, Last Autumn’s Dream, Treat, Randy Piper’s Animal) and drummer J. Koleberg (Hammerfall, Therion, Randy Piper’s Animal) and they released the brilliant We Are Zan Clan, Who The F**k Are You? (2004) and the live album Kickz The Livin Shit Outta Stockholm City (2006).
The fact that The Quireboys are still alive and kicking and have been so for that last 10 years or so is probably to every rocker’s knowledge these days, but are there anyone out there besides me that have been wondering what the hell happened to lead singer Spike’s song-writing partner and guitarist Guy Bailey? I mean, it was him and Spike that wrote all the classic hits that made The Quireboys’ debut album A Bit Of What You Fancy (1990) such a brilliant album and such a success and he was also part of The Quireboys second album, the underrated but by Bob Rock overproduced Bitter Sweet And Twisted (1993). Not to bash The Quireboys of 2016, I mean they are still an amazing live act and they have released some damn fine records, but I think it’s safe to say that most fans still hold their two first albums as their finest. Well, me personally, I have always hoped that Bailey one day would return to Spike’s side and write some more killer songs with him. I have definitely wondered where the hell Bailey went and why we haven’t heard from the guy. So imagine my surprise when I was about to listen to an album by a band called Thirsty (a really weird name for a band, I thought to myself) that had ended up in my mailbox and the press release told me that it was the new album by Bailey’s new outfit. All of a sudden, the album became very interesting.
A new Bon Jovi release used be like Christmas for me. I became a fan when a Swedish radio station played their first (hit) single “Runaway” just when their self titled debut album was about to be released in 1984. It knocked me out completely and I bought that album the day it was released and to this day I find their first five albums – Bon Jovi (1984), 7800 Fahrenheit (1985), Slippery When Wet (1986), New Jersey (1988) and Keep The Faith (1992) – amazingly good. Things started to slip with their 1995 album These Days, by no means a bad album, but it was only 60% great, leaving the rest of the 40% jumping between crap to mediocre. After that album, Bon Jovi has never really been themselves again. Crush (2000) only had three great tracks, Bounce (2002) had even less and Have A Nice Day (2005) didn’t have one single stand-out track. But the big crash landing happened with the horrendous wanna-be country piece of junk album called Lost Highway (2007). On their earlier few records there were at least some traces of the band I had loved so dearly, but on that album every little trace of the classic Bon Jovi sound had been forlorn. That record is one of the worst cases of a great band going down the sewer I have ever heard in my life. After that, things didn’t get better, they only got less worse. The Circle (2009) was Bon Jovi trying to find some rock again, but they failed miserably. It was the same mainstream boring pop songs with the guitars a bit louder in the mix, nothing else. And Jon Bon Jovi’s words about the band having made a big arena rock album again with 2013’s What About Now were either lies or a bad case of disillusion.