Kee Marcello band photo

KEE MARCELLO – Judas Kiss

Kee Marcello - Judas KissThe first time that I heard Kee Marcello play was back in 1984 when Swedish television decided to show his then band Easy Action’s live documentary “Hot Summer Night”. How that came about I’m clueless of as Swedish media wasn’t really into showing any hard rock, or rock at all. Until then I had only seen pictures of them in the leading (and only) music magazine that my country would provide and to be honest, their glam look didn’t stick with me at all. Easy Action was ahead of their time and that kind of look was more or less unseen by then. Mötley Crüe hadn’t really made it big over here yet. But what I heard made me a fan immediately. I loved the songs as they stole a lot from Sweet, Bowie and Alice Cooper and in Kee Marcello they had their own guitar hero and guitar heroes wasn’t something we Swedes were spoiled with at that time. Since that day, Marcello has been one of my all time favourite guitar players. Easy Action made one self titled album before they parted with singer Zinny Zan, who went on to join Shotgun Messiah. Instead big voiced singer Tommy Nilsson came in and by the time they released their second album, the Journey / Toto smelling That Makes One, Marcello had left his own band to join Europe for their The Final Countdown world tour as original guitarist John Norum had left / got the boot.

In my book, Europe benefited from that change. Marcello then played guitar on the fantastic, but sound wise destroyed by Ron Nevison,  Out Of This World (1988) and the very good, but could have been better Prisoners In Paradise (1991), which was ruined by bad record company decisions. After that, grunge came and Europe split and Marcello went back home with no money and a bad cocaine addiction to join former Easy Action drummer Fredrik Von Gerber’s new band Rat Bat Blue, which by then had changed a lot of members and therefore also their name, to Red Fun. One very underrated album (self titled) was released in 1993 before the band gave up. That was when he decided to embark on a solo career. His first solo effort was Shine On (1995), a mellow, laid back and acoustic based affair that lent more in a singer / songwriter direction, not unlike the path his ex band mate Joey Tempest had gone down. Then things turned quiet until he temporarily reunited with Europe for a two song performance on New Years Eve 1999 and after that nothing happened until 2003 when he suddenly showed up with a new band. Kee Marcello’s K2 and a killer album in Melon Demon Divine and has after that both reformed Easy Action with Zinny Zan, participated in Melodifestivalen (Sweden’s Eurovision) with Alannah Myles and written his own autobiography, “The Rock Star God Forgot” in 2011 and that’s when he released his latest solo album, the not so great Redux: Europe, an album full of re-recorded Europe songs. What he should had done then is what he has done now. Yes, an album full of new music, his first in 10 years.

This album has been a long time coming, but I believe it’s been worth the wait. Marcello has never ever faltered as a composer and guitar player so my expectations were climbing high with this one. But that there were no need for worries, was clear already after the opener “Zombie” had hit you. It’s hard, aggressive but still very melodic and catchy and Kee plays the shit out of it – Yes! “Next runner-up, “Dog Eat Dog” is not really new to me as the video for it has actually been out on YouTube for a couple of years now, but never the less it is a brilliant track, heavy and catchy and possibly single material. “Starless Sky” follows, a fantastic ballad with heaviness instead of cheese, “I’m Stoned” is great and takes us back to the  days of Melon Demon Divine and the title track is a very good straight forward hard rocker. With the ballad “And Forever More” he duets with Liv Moon and goes into a gothic vibe and the song sounds similar to the stuff Evanescence and Within Temptation does. It’s a good song, but I’m not sure this is the way Kee wants to go. Also it bears similarities to the Europe song “Girl From Lebanon” in the chorus. “Coming Home” is another ballad and one we have heard before as it lies on the Melon Demon Divine album and hasn’t changed much at all, “The Harder They Come” is another track that has been out on YouTube for years –  a very good song, but I like the YouTube version better. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is a great pop rock track that sounds a bit like old Bon Jovi with a little twist of U2 and closer “Metal Box” is a dark song that almost moves towards industrial territories – very good.

A very good come back from Mr Marcello. His guitar playing is still world-class, but if there is one thing that I’m a bit disappointed with, it’s the production. Kee has always been a great producer but the sound on this album is a bit messy at times. It’s not bad as in BAD, but when it comes to guys like Marcello, I expect pure greatness when it comes to studio work. That said, the sound is good, but could have been better, but nothing that makes this album any less great. Also, he is an OK singer, but his voice could be stronger and I’m wondering if he shouldn’t think about maybe forming a real band with a great vocalist. His singing sounds a bit strained at times. Anyway, a great album it is and a welcome back is in order here – and don’t let so many years pass before new music is released next time, please.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

01. Zombie
02. Dog Eat Dog
03. Starless Sky
04. I’m Stoned
05. Dead End Highway
06. Judas Kiss
07. And Forever More
08. Coming Home
09. Get On Top
10. The Harder They Come
11. Dead Give Away
12. Love Will Tear Us Apart
13. Metal Box

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4 comments on “KEE MARCELLO – Judas Kiss

  1. For some reason, I always thought Dieter Dierks produced Out of this World. Anyway, I agree…the sound could have been better. Shame, I liked that album and a lot of that had to do with Kee. I remember hearing his solo in Superstitious and I thought, “Wow, this guy is awesome.”

    Glad this album is good. Wish-listing.

  2. Ron Nevison pretty much ruins everything he puts his hands on. Kiss, Ozzy, Heart, Bad English… The list is endless…

  3. Crazy Nights was the one that bugged me most. I tolerated Damn Yankees…I dug it at the time but in hindsight…well, I haven’t played that album in years.

    It’s driving me nuts now, why I had it in my head that Dieter Dierks produced it. He must have ruined another band around the same time and I got my wires crossed!

  4. Crazy Nights sounds horrible. Programmed drums and synthesizers and a very thin sound. Damn Yankees’ albums sounds ok, but could and should have sounded way fatter.
    Dieter Dirks was on their wish list to produce The Final Countdown before they got their hands on Kevin Elson. Elson’s ok even though TFC sounds just as weak as OOTW.

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