At first glimpse, The Dead Daisies looked like a side project for some more or less well-known musicians, a place to go when they had some spare time and felt like making some music and have some fun when they had a minute or two to spare. The band was formed by rhythm guitarist David Lowy and lead guitarist Richard Fortus (Guns N’ Roses, Thin Lizzy) and together with bass player Darryl Jones (Rolling Stones), drummer Charley Drayton (The Cult, Eddie Money, X-pensive Winos), keyboard player Dizzy Reed (Guns N’ Roses) and lead singer Jon Stevens (INXS), the band released their self-titled debut album in 2013, a damn fine album full of swinging rockers that should satisfy every rocker who is drawn towards kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll with big groove. The album even included a cameo from Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. Back then The Dead Daisies felt more like a collective of musicians than an actual band. Members came and went in an ever flowing stream – some of the musicians that were in and out of the band were drummers Frank Ferrer (Guns N’ Roses) and John Tempesta (The Cult, White Zombie, Rob Zombie, Exodus, Testament) and guitarist Damon Johnson (Black Star Riders, Thin Lizzy, Brother Cane), but also with touring members Dave Leslie (Baby Animals) and Tommy Clufetos (Black Sabbath, Ozzy Osbourne, Rob Zombie, Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent).
Around the time when the band started to work on the follow-up, the brilliant Revolucion (2015), the line-up felt really stable and The Dead Daisies felt all of a sudden like a real band where original members Lowy, Fortus and Reed had teamed up with singer John Corabi (The Scream, Mötley Crüe, Union, Ratt), bass player Marco Mendoza (Black Star Riders, Whitesnake, Thin Lizzy, Blue Murder) and drummer Brian Tichy (S.U.N., Whitesnake, Operation Mindcrime, Billy Idol, Pride & Glory, Sass Jordan, Glenn Hughes, Lynch Mob, Sweet & Lynch). Even though I really liked the debut, Revolucion was a real punch in the gut and even though there was a bunch of covers on the album, it’s an album that truly rocked my world. Therefore my expectations on the new record were sky-high. But of course, the swing door in the band wasn’t closed this time either. Both guitarist Fortus and keyboardist Reed left the band when it was clear that they would be part of the Guns N’ Roses reunion (cough, cough) tour. No replacement for Reed was brought in but for Fortus the band recruited guitarist Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake, Revolution Saints, Dio, Bad Moon Rising, Burning Rain, Hurricane, Lion). I have to admit that I have never really been a fan of Aldrich. It started back in the 80’s when I heard albums by Lion, Bad Moon Rising and Hurricane, none of them are bands that I care for much and Aldrich’s playing just wasn’t to my liking. Also, I never thought he fitted in Dio at all, but when he joined David Coverdale something happened. Firstly, I have it in my mind that he was the one who steered Cov in the direction away from his more metal ways and back to a more 70’s groove, especially on the very underrated Forevermore (2012). I also believe that it was on that album his playing loosened up remarkably. On the Revolution Saints album (that also featured Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and Deen Castronovo (Bad English, Journey), he more or less blew me away, so his membership in The Dead Daisies was very welcome. Aldrich’s involvement was one of the things I was looking forward to the most with this album. Would the guy surprise me again?
Opener “Long Way To Go” was released as a single a month or so before the release of the album and the first time I heard it I knew the guys had a winner on their hands. The pumping riffs has a big AC/DC feel while parts of the melody reminds me some of 70’s Aerosmith and the steady, kick-ass hard rock rhythm makes sure that sparks fly. “We All Fall Down” rocks with the catchiness that has 70’s Aerosmith (yes, this band will be mentioned a few times in this review) written all over it. The chorus is very memorable without being the least cheesy and at the same time the tune comes with some major sleaze – brilliant! “Song And A Prayer” has a riff reminiscent of W.A.S.P.’s “Wild Child” but with a guitar sound that brings the mighty Mick Mars (Mötley Crüe) to mind with a refrain that Desmond Child could have sold his mother to write – it sure is an amazing track. “Mainline” rocks in a faster pace and feels rough and raunchy and the vibe is Guns N’ Roses around Appetite For Destruction – the tune was written to kick up dust and punch you in the gut, the way rock ‘n’ roll should sound. The title track comes with a huge groove and is built for the stage. Think Queen’s “We Will Rock You” on a date with Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” dancing along to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and you’re pretty much there. I can see myself banging my head bloody with a big smile on my face to this one at next year’s Sweden Rock Festival (yes, it’s about effing time they book this band). Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Fortunate Son” might sound like a very unimaginative choice of cover and personally I have never been much a fan of that song, but The Dead Daisies beats the fucker up, makes it their own song and totally nails it. It’s easily the best cover of the song that I have ever heard and it is light years better than the original – that’s how you do it, folks! “Last Time I Saw The Sun” has a sleazy swagger and a Dr Feelgood Mötley Crüe vibe mixed another chunk of Aerosmith. Also, everything in the song is catchy – verse, bridge, chorus sticks like super glue. “Mine All Mine” is a jaw breaking, in-your-face force of rock that leaves no space for breathing. That’s rock ‘n’ roll – and I love it! “How Does It Feel” sounds like a more sleazy and dirty Led Zeppelin, but with an 80’s hard rock groove. The chorus is catchy as can be, even a bit commercial, but not in a “who-whoa-who livin’ on a prayer” way, more like the edgier moments of the unmasked version of Kiss (think Revenge). “Freedom” is firing on all cylinders and to me this is a perfect mix of Corabi’s old band The Scream and the more groovy and rootsy songs on Mötley Crüe’s self titled album from 1994. It’s impossible to sit still to this groover. “All The Same” brings on a “Black Betty”-like rhythm and it also brings a very Steven Tyler-like melody on top. Add a rhythm that is steady as a rock and melodies so catchy it hurts and you have a real winner – so awesome! The last song, “Join Together” is a The Who cover and a much more imaginative choice. It’s easy to hear the original tune in here, but at the same time, the Daisies have made it their own. I know this might be like swearing at church, but I actually prefer this version to the original – what a killer way to close the record.
I know that I have mentioned Aerosmith quite a lot in this review, but just to make it clear, The Dead Daisies are no Aeroclones, no thieves or copy cats. What we’re talking about here is influences and a little borrowing here and there. The Dead Daisies aren’t about to reinvent the wheel or trying to create a new genre or anything pretentious like that, but make no mistake, this band has its own style and identity even though they play straight forward, edgy, groovy hard rock ‘n’ roll, something that has been done by thousands of other bands, the Daisies put their own stamp on their music. And it is good – it’s so incredibly good. With Dizzy Reed out of the picture, the guys – together with new producer Marti Fredriksen – have thrown every keyboard out of the window, there’s not even a tiny trace of piano here and along with that, the ballads followed. Which means that this records rocks from start to finish, it kicks and screams, it scratches and it bites and it goes right for the throat. It’s always a pleasure to hear John Corabi’s voice – the guy is such an incredible singer and one of my all time favorite vocalists and the whole band is all made of amazing musicians, but Doug Aldrich is the one that impresses me the most. Yes, the guy really plays the living daylight out of the songs and this edgy rock is right up his alley. Without being a fretboard masturbator, he plays with both technique and feel and on this album he sounds so vital, relaxed and loose. For the Daisies, this is the album where everything falls into place and where it’s impossible to even pick out one favorite song – they all are. Album of the year? I dunno, but it will be at the top of the list when 2016 is history. The Daisies have hit bulls-eye with this record and everything below a 10/10 rating would be wrong. So wrong!
Other The Dead Daisies reviews:
1. Long Way To Go
2. We All Fall Down
3. Song And A Prayer
5. Make Some Noise
6. Fortunate Son
7. Last Time I Saw The Sun
8. Mine All Mine
9. How Does It Feel
11. All The Same
12. Join Together