24 STRINGS & A DRUMMER: LIVE AND ACOUSTIC
Night Ranger and Loverboy were two bands that were, pretty much in my eyes, linked together back in the 80s. There was something about the two of them. They weren't quite metal bands at the time, and there was something that was catchy about both but never led you to think they were anything more than cookie cutter hard rock bands. Night Ranger was my favorite of the two, because they weren't all whiny and wrote better songs than Loverboy. I'm sure many of the chicks that were 15 or so during that era would probably disagree with that assessment, but so bet it. It's interesting how at this phase of their careers, both have re-recorded their hits right now for releases to appease the old guard. For Loverboy, their re-recordings was an abortion of epic proportions that pretty much proved they should retire. While Night Ranger is probably a few decades too late to be releasing an UNPLUGGED effort, I'd be lying if I said this wasn't fairly catchy and fun.
Blue Sky Riders
The term "supergroup" is thrown around very loosely these days. In the most general terms, most people associate that term with a collection of "name" players. By name, we generally mean famous. Certainly, if a band was formed featuring Mick Jagger, Joe Perry, John Paul Jones and Neil Peart, that would qualify in the broadest terms as a "supergroup". That said though, peripheral fame is all relative, while a collection of unquestioned talent that has had tremendous success in the music industry should also be considered as a "supergroup". For many reasons, Blue Sky Riders are a musical supergroup. They do have a very name player in Kenny Loggins, but probably more impressively they have a unheralded in public yet legendary songwriter in Country Music Hall Of Famer Gary Burr, and a tremendous, well heard songwriter who's written massive hits for other artists in Georgia Middleman gracing this group.
You know, I regularly get my ass kicked by readers and friends for claiming that Kid Rock is the most talented, and best artist out there today that's making music. That's fine. I know that as primarily a metalhead, I'm supposed to loathe what Kid Rock stands for. Let's face it, he did make his mark as a rapper, and then sold that out to do what he actually wanted to do, which was make primarily rock music. I guess I see that. I also guess I don't care. I thought he was really good as a rapper. I think he's better as a modern day classic rock artist. The one thing that's never changed with Kid Rock has been his attitude. He's done whatever he wanted from day 1, and he's made it big in spite of the expectations that people in the industry throw on him. Every album now comes with a heavy dose of "fuck you" combined with a side order of "you don't know shit" that he happily throws in the face of an industry that's hellbent on defining trends instead of listening to fans and their desires. Thank God for Kid Rock.
AFTERMATH OF THE LOWDOWN
Richie Sambora is an amazing talent who has wasted so much of that talent by toiling away in Bon Jovi for so many crummy, formulaic albums that followed KEEP THE FAITH. Those albums just seemed like lame, adaptive releases that packed little excitement or energy like the original Bon Jovi albums did. For Sambora though, his work outside of the framework has always been underappreciated by the masses, but consistently excellent. Both STRANGER IN THIS TOWN and UNDISCOVERED SOUL showcased not only a different side of Sambora as a player, but absolutely impressive lead vocals that were worthy of heading up a major rock band all by himself.
BLEED & SCREAM
While most bands mellow like wine with age Sweden's Eclipse have followed a different trajectory becoming heavier over the course of their thirteen year career. Bleed & Scream, the band's fourth release, showcases these stellar musicians at the apex of their creativity and aggression. Having slowly shed the melodic hard pop of their early days, this album is pure unadulterated metallic rock of the classiest variety.
Each song glimmers strongly with its own unique identity proving the Swedes have worked hard at evolving their craft rather than finding a "formula" and riding it out. Stand out tracks like "Bleed & Scream" "SOS" "Wake Me Up" & "A Bitter Taste" are as different from one another as they are from any other bands in the melodic metal scene. After a decade of writing, this skill deserves more applause than it gets.