Tag Archives: rainbow

Rated X-Rated X

RATEDX

The other project featuring an Appice in it is Rated X. This group has Carmine Appice on the drumstool. He has been in so many bands that it’s probably easier to name who he hasn’t been in. He is best know for Vanilla Fudge, Rod Stewart, and King Kobra. The singer for Rated X is Joe Lynn Turner who fronted Rainbow during the MTV days. Rounding out the quartet is Tony Franklin the fretless bass maestro from Blue Murder and The Firm and guitarist Karl Cochran.

There are a lot similarities between Rated X and the other Appice project WAMI. Both singers have sung with Yngwie and Rainbow. Both bassist have played with Carmine in Blue Murder. And oddly, the least know of each group is the guitar player. However the big difference is that Cochran and Joe Lynn Turner have been playing together for awhile. Unfortunately Karl suffered a stroke midway through recording so Nikolo Kotzev of Brazen Abbot filled in for him.

Rated X offers up some classic sounding hard rock that sounds fittingly like a cross between Rainbow and Blue Murder. What makes this group standout from the others is that the familiarity between the members gives it more of a band feel and less of a studio one. The album kicks off with “Get Back My Crown” and “This Is Who I Am” and seems like a fitting declaration for a group of guys trying to reclaim their spot in the game. The keys on it really adds to the Rainbow feel. They’re also evident on “Fire & Ice” with it’s big chorus and bigger organ. (Don’t laugh, I’m talking about the musical instrument.)

The Blue Murder pedigree shines through on several tracks too. Some of it comes from Tony Franklin’s signature fretless bass sound. “Lhasa” has the same big epic song feel to it as “Valley Of The Kings”. Then there just some straight up rockers in “Devil In Disguise” and “Piece Of Mind” where Rated X is making there own statement.

To be fair there are a coupe of stinkers. “You Are The Music” reeks of “we need a ballad here” thinking. “Maybe Tonight” is a bland soft rocker. It almost seems that if they slow down it falls apart but they do a great job on “Our Love Is Over”. It’s a nice ballad that really shows off Karl’s playing. There is also an acoustic version that is just Joe Lynn and a piano and it is beautiful. It’s amazing to hear his voice still sounding that good.

What makes Rated X so much better than all the other project bands is that they seem to want to be a band. The extensive demoing and work they did before recording is evident. The cohesiveness comes through the speakers and the band has made an album worthy of their collective legacies.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-but it as a used CD

$1.00-streaming it on Spotify

$0-Not worth the drive space

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WAMI-Kill The King

WAMI
All-star projects seem to be the rage in the rock/metal world these days. It seems like a new one comes out every other week. Usually they are put together to do an album and then everyone goes their separate ways. I guess the record company pays these guys enough for a couple weeks work and the label makes a couple bucks and just maybe, someone can catch lightning in a bottle. Interestingly, there are two new ones that feature each of the Appice brothers on them.
The not so imaginatively named WAMI, made up of singer Doogie White, drummer Vinny Appice, bassist Marco Mendoza, and guitarist Iggy Gwadera. White Appice Mendoza Iggy=WAMI, get it? Yeah, exactly. You may know Doogie from singing for Yngwie and Rainbow. Marco Mendoza was in Blue Murder and Whitesnake. Vinny Appice has spent time in Black Sabbath, Dio, and Kill Devil Hill. Izzy is an unknown Polish guitarist that Marco saw and was so impressed he wanted to work with him. The other guys followed and we get Kill The King.
Kill The King is made up of 11 classic sounding hard rock tracks. Since 3 of the 4 guys are veteran players, execution will not be a problem. Doogie White sounds like a mix between Dio and Biff Byford of Saxon and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s ends up sounding derivative. Maybe if he showed a bit more flair and power, it would have soundes better. It’s the same with Iggy’s guitar playing. It’s not bad it’s just not that engaging. I don’t know if it’s his lack of experience or maybe being intimidated by who he was playing with. Either way, he comes across as very unimaginative.
It’s a shame because there are some good bones here. “Young Blood” and “Heart of Steel” are a couple of nice rockers. “Exodus (The Red Sea Crossing)” is an attempt at doing a big epic song. The rest, while not bad are just kind of there. After listening to it a couple times, it comes across as unreleased Rainbow tracks.
The big drawback to these projects is that they’re not bands. One guy has most of the material, they maybe rehearse together, record it, and everyone goes there own way. If WAMI could have had a couple of months together to demo this and then record it, I think Kill The King would be a vastly different record. Alas, it is what it is.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-but it as a used CD
$1.00-streaming it on Spotify
$0-Not worth the drive space

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V/A-This Is Your Life-A Tribute To Ronnie James Dio

 

Ronnie_James_Dio_-_This_Is_Your_Life_cover

Very rarely are “tribute” albums a good thing. Either they are modern artist playing classic rock songs because the label thinks it’s a good idea, KISS My ASS or Zeppelin-Encomion. Or you get gimmick-y crap like Country Does Metal. Ugh. Lastly, there’s what I call the Cleopatra effect. A label uses a group of older artists to do classic rock tributes. The label Cleopatra had an assembly line of 80’s rockers doing songs of 70’s acts. It became comical to see Jizzy Pearl of Love/Hate or Joe Lynn Turner on every release from Cleopatra. Very rarely do you get a tribute album of well known acts doing songs in the same genre of an iconic artist.
Lo and behold, here comes This Is Your Life-A Tribute to Ronnie James Dio. They did a great job of collecting metal artists for this record and the songs they covered range throughout his career. As an added bonus most of these songs are new recordings. With this kind of an album I think it’s best to go track by track.
Starting us off is “Neon Nights” by Anthrax. They do a nice and faithful version of the song. It’s a perfect album opener. If you heard last year’s Anthems you know they can do great covers. Following that is is Tenacious D’s “The Last In Line”. It has a nice acoustic opening but once it kicks in… the only way to go is down…… I love these guys but doing an electric metal song doesn’t work. Plus Jack Black does not have the pipes for this song. We are then greeted with Adrenaline Mob’s “The Mob Rules”. This was done on their covers EP a while back and I was not a fan of it then and still feel the same. Most of Stone Sour tries their hand at “Rainbow In The Dark”. They are joined by guitarist Satchel of Steel Panther fame aka Russ Parish from Paul Gilbert’s band and Fight. Doing such a well known song can be tricky but they put their spin on it. It’s a little heavier and just a tad faster. What is interesting is Corey Taylor’s vocal choice. His delivery is very restrained thereby letting the guitar riff to shine. At first it’s surprising because you expect him to go big but this works a lot better.
Young ones Halestorm try on “Straight Through The Heart”. The band proudly wears it influences on its’ sleeves and have done a couple of covers EP’s already. I know I’m supposed to like them but something about them doesn’t click. Lizzy Hale has a killer voice and on the second half of the song she steps it up a notch and it’s is killer. However the band is very blah and the guitar playing is bar band level. I know her brother is the drummer but she needs to be with some players.
The first track released was “Starstruck” with Biff Byford of Saxon singing with Motorhead. Just typing that sentence is a metalhead’s wet dream. Listening to it is even better. Biff’s gravel works great with Motorhead’s dirty delivery. It’s just so simple and so great. Another legacy act is next with the Scorpions doing “The Temple of the King”. The Rainbow track fits right in the Scorpions wheelhouse. The mid pace song is perfect for Klaus Meine’s vocals. It sounds like it should have been on their MTV Unplugged album. The Metal Queen herself, Doro gives us “Egypt (The Chains Are On)” and it is as glorious as you would think. When Ronnie passed they did a couple of tribute shows and she sang this song. It was done awhile back but chances are most people haven’t heard it. Another already available track is “Holy Diver” by Killswitch Engage. Done when Howard Jones was still the singer, it’s still a pretty cool cover and even better video.
Glenn Hughes takes the lead alongside Dio veterans Simon Wright, Rudy Sarzo, and Craig Goldy on “Catch The Rainbow”. Since this is very ballad-like it reminds me of some of the Black Sabbath stuff Glenn did. I like that he chose a song that he could do use his blues voice but it doesn’t really work. Next is one of my favorite songs Ronnie sang.”I” ,from the Black Sabbath-the Dio Years, is better than anything on that gawd awful 13 record. Former Lynch Mob singer Oni Logan is joined by Jimmy Bain, Rowan Robertson, and Brian Tichy, Musically its good but Oni cannot match the defiance that was so evident on the original.
One of the tracks I was really looking forward to was “Man On The Silver Mountain” with Rob Halford on vocals. When Dio dropped out of Sabbath when they were going to open for Ozzy’s retirement shows, Rob stepped in. He did a terrific version of “Children Of The Sea” so my expectations were high. Unfortunately time has caught up with the Metal God and his voice is flat and very uninspiring.
The mighty Metallica do a medley on “Ronnie Rising”. It’s made up of “A Light In the Black, Tarot Woman, Stargazer, Kill The King”. It’s tremendous. Any long time fan will know that they love to do covers and it shows here. Especially on “Stargazer/Kill The King” sections.
The album ends with Dio himself singing the title track. It’s just him and a piano and it’s phenomenal. A little heard track and it shows what a powerhouse he was.
There are some other songs depending on what version you buy. The digital download has “Buried Alive” by Jasta. I like it since we get to hear Jamey actually sing and this track works for him. The Japanese version has Stryper’s “Heaven and Hell” which was available on their covers LP from a couple years back. It’s good but they changed some lyrics and that kind of bugged me. Dio Disciples crank out “Stand Up and Shout”. I don’t have that version but it’s either Oni Logan or Ripper Owens singing so it should be good.
As with any tribute there are some hit or misses. As a whole This Is Your Life is a fitting tribute for Ronnie and with all the proceeds going to the Stand Up and Shout cancer fund that was set up after his passing it’s even more fitting.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space

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Adrenaline Mob-Coverta

Image

Since I just reviewed Anthrax’s cover album Anthems, I guess it makes sense to do the same for Adrenaline Mob’s collection of covers Coverta. While I was not a fan of their debut album Omerta, maybe someone else’s songs will help change my mind.

It kicks off with “Hive Wire” originally done by the criminally underrated Badlands. It’s a pretty faithful cover but while Russell Allen may be a good vocalist, he pales in comparison to Ray Gillen. All this version does is make me want to go listen to Badlands some more. There is a really rocking version of The Doors “Break On Through”. The band does a nice job in using a funky bass instead of an organ. Adrenaline Mob made this there own song. The same was accomplished with Van Halen’s “Romeo’s Delight. Heavied it up, sped it up, and added a touch from Led Zepplin’s “Whole Lotta Love” while rounding it out with a pinch of “Top Jimmy”. Speaking of Zepplin, there is a version of “Lemon Song”. While it is a rather basic cover of the song, it really shows off how good of musicians the band is, so it’s acceptable. Sort of finishing it out is “Barracuda” by Heart. This is basically a note for note re-recording and sounds exactly as you think it would. The best thing I can say about it, is that it is the only track that does not have the same crappy guitar tone that permeates throughout the album.

I say “sort of finishes” because there are 3 Ronnie James Dio song’s on here. Granted they cover different bands he sang with, it still seems odd. We have “Stand Up and Shout” from his solo days, “Kill The King” from Rainbow and “Mob Rules” from his Black Sabbath days. All of them are as expected covers and seem more fitting for playing as an encore than expecting someone to play for them. I really wish they would have chose just one of his songs, especially if it was one we haven’t heard countless times.

After this I guess it’s safe to say I am not a fan of Adrenaline Mob. Be it original or cover tunes, I don’t care. Coverta, is a bland collection of songs we have heard before done in exactly the way we thought they would be.

Ughh.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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