RATED X – Rated X

Rated XHere’s something unusual for you – a supergroup side project by a bunch of well-merited rockers that could probably be your grandpa’s. Well, I’m ironic and I’m only joking, of course, but there is some seriousness behind the joke here because there is an inflation of these projects nowadays. I sure get the reason behind it, of course. As a musician you need to have as many irons in your fire as possible if you want to make a living out of playing music, but these projects can only go on for so long before fans will have enough of them. There are only so many records you can buy each month before your money well runs dry and I guess if people have to choose between an album like this or the new AC/DC, Kiss, Iron Maiden or Judas Priest record, well, I guess this album won’t be the priority. However, I must admit that on paper, this project looks both cool and interesting. Joe Lynn Turner shouldn’t need any introduction at all, everybody already knows his career with Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force and his solo stuff. And we must not forget the two underrated albums he did together with Glenn Hughes in the mid 90’s. Drummer Carmine Appice don’t an introduction either. The guy has been around since the dawn of metal and hard rock and has been an influence on drummers since the 70’s with bands like Beck Bogert & Appice, Cactus and Vanilla Fudge and he’s also responsible for co-writing the awful Rod Stewart hit “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”, but don’t hold that against him. He has also served as a touring member for Ozzy Osbourne and been a member of John Sykes’ trio Blue Murder. He started up melodic rock glamsters King Kobra in the mid 80’s, a band that has resurrected some years ago with two pretty good albums with new singer Paul Shortino. Bass player Tony Franklin has been playing with Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page on two albums in The Firm, been in the same Blue Murder line-up as Carmine and he did one tour with Whitesnake. The most anonymous member is guitar player Karl Cochran, who has served as a member of Joe Lynn Turner’s solo band, The Eric Singer Project (ESP) and a short stint in Ace Frehley’s band (he co-wrote the song “Into The Void” with Ace for Kiss’ Psycho Circus record). These are the guys that has put together Rated X for us and you must admit, the line-up looks pretty interesting. That said, the fact that Frontiers Records lies behind this supergroup is hardly surprising.

To guess what the music of Rated X will sound like doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to do. I mean, if they’re not gonna surprise the shit out of us and play something completely off the wall, my before hand guess would be 70’s based hard rock with some 80’s cathiness thrown in for good measure, much like the stuff Turner has come up with on his solo stuff. On the other hand, you’ll never know, right? Well, opener “Get Back My Crown” gives me right on all points. This is hard rock, rooted in the 70’s with a huge Deep Purple feel. Yes, we have heard all that before, but these guys knows exactly how to pull this off. Great song! Second single and video “This Is Who I Am” is also a 70’s groover with a killer melody and the title speaks volumes for these guys. Yes, this is really who they are! “Fire And Ice” (single # 3) might be a title that has been used to death and maybe should be retired for any new projects to come, but the song is a really good Deep Purple influenced  rocker.”Lhasa” is brilliant, sounds like the heavier moments from the Turner-version of Rainbow with Tony Franklin’s fretless bass giving the song character. “You Are The Music” is another WOW! moment on the album. It’s an awesome pop ballad, the way Turner likes them, but on a blues foundation with gospel undertones and where Franklin’s  fretless bass makes itself really useful once more. “Maybe Tonight” is a really good melodic rock song that could might as well have been written for one of Turner’s solo albums. Catchy stuff, that one. “Our Love Is Not Over” is really great and sounds like a poppier version of Blue Murder, if Joe had sung with them. I guess Franklin and Appice put their stamp on that one pretty good. To put the album’s first single and video last on the album is a bold move, but that’s precisely what they have done here. “Stranger In Us All” (the same title as the last ever Rainbow album) is the name of the song  and it’s a really good one. Wouldn’t have been out-of-place on a Rainbow album like Straight Between The Eyes (1982).

For all fans of the members of this band, this album probably won’t disappoint anyone and even though I liked it after the first spin, it sure feels like a grower. As a singer, Joe Lynn Turner – now in his 60’s – still got it and Tony Franklin’s own style and his fretless bass really makes a difference throughout the album. Cochran is also a nice surprise as I have really never really heard the guy play, but he gets the work done with heart and passion. A really good player albeit maybe the not the most original one. The only negative thing I can say about this record is that it sounds predictable, you know even before hearing one second of this album how it’s gonna sound and what musical styles will be served. That’s when Franklin’s playing comes in. I really don’t know any bass player of today that plays fretless and that gives the songs structure and a bit of identity. I’m also a bit baffled by Carmine Appice here. I mean, the guy’s not bad at all, but I’m used to him playing with so much more passion and originality, but I really don’t hear that much of him here, it’s almost like it could be any drummer out there doing this. But maybe that’s what they were going for here. Also, the sound on this album leaves a little more to be desired. Sometimes it sounds unfinished, like they have used the demos, unmastered. On the other hand, that’s some really good sounding demos. But in the end, it’s the songs that counts and even though this might not be a future classic, there sure is a bunch of really rocking tunes on here.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. Get Back My Crown
2. This Is Who I Am
3. Fire And Ice
4. I Don’t Cry No More
5. Lhasa
6. Devil In Disguise
7. You Are The Music
8. Peace Of Mind
9. Maybe Tonight
10. On The Way To Paradise
11. Our Love Is Not Over
12. Stranger In Us All

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One comment on “RATED X – Rated X

  1. Bra recension som vanligt, håller faktiskt med dig på alla punkter om denna skivan. Blir extremt roligt att kolla in dom på Väsby Rock nästa sommar, enda orosmomentet för det är hur dom är på scen. Är ju inga ungdomar längre, hoppas dom kan prestera även live vilket jag är lite tveksam till.
    Har lyssnat igenom skivan en 5-6 gånger och den håller fortfarande uppe intresset vilket får ses som en mycket bra platta.

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