One of the first things that entered my mind when I heard that Pretty Maids’ bass player Rene Shades was about to release a solo album was; “in which way will his record company promote this”? Will they use him being a member of Pretty Maids as a sales argument or will they leave it out, trying to sell Shades as something entirely new? I wonder because Pretty Maids are still not a huge band – which they really should be – and the music on Shades’ record is apparently totally different from Pretty Maids. I think the Pretty Maids connection here might be a hard sell because if we’re honest, who would buy a record based solely on that Shades is the bass player in that band? Well, I kinda would but then again, I’m not really normal in that sense. I would bet that unless you’re a hardcore Pretty Maids fan, you wouldn’t. So, for the most of us, Rene Shades is the cool bassist in the top-hat but we know very little about the man and his song writing abilities.
Ok. Where shall I start? I must admit that I’m not that well versed in Alan Parsons and all his activities. Thing is, I really don’t know squat about the guy other than that I have seen his name in articles and such. Before this review, I didn’t even know what the guy looked like and I can’t name a single song of his. According to Wikipedia, Parsons started his band The Alan Parsons Project back in 1975 and in 1976 they released their debut album Tales Of Mystery And Imagination and has to this day released eleven albums, the last one, The Sicilian Defense came out in 2014. Parsons has also released five solo albums, including this new one of which the first one, Try Anything Once, came out in 1993. But his musical career started back in 1967 when he, at the age of 18, got the job as an assistant engineer at Abbey Road studios and has since then worked on classic albums with bands such as The Beatles, Wings and Pink Floyd.
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).