Category Archives: rock music

Rock bands and music

News: ‘The Symbol Remains’ first new studio album from Blue Öyster Cult in almost two decades

Following a trio of live albums released this year since signing to the Frontiers label, US hard rockers Blue Öyster Cult are set to release their first new studio album in almost two decades,

The Symbol Remains is due out on 9th October. A new single from the album, ‘Tainted Blood’, written by Eric Bloom and Richie Castellano, is also now available.

The sessions for ‘The Symbol Remains’ began in earnest last year. “As the song demos emerged, we realised there was as much if not more variety in style and content on this record as any in our history,” states BÖC lead vocalist/guitarist Eric Bloom. “We embraced this and the thing tying all the disparate elements together is the band’s sound and performance.”

“The album title comes from a quote of an old Sandy Pearlman (BÖC producer and manager) lyric, which basically we are using to show that the band is back and still rocking after all these years. To me, it means we’re still here and doing what we do,” he adds.

“The goal was for the new music to stand up to the quality and vitality of our legacy recordings and I believe we have successfully achieved that,” says founding member Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser. “Other than that, the sound of our voices and style of our writing and playing can’t help but sound familiar to fans of our work.”

On the album the two members from BÖC’s ‘classic era’, vocalist/lead guitarist Donald ‘Buck
Dharma’ Roeser and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Eric Bloom – both of whom have been with the band from the late 60s, are joined by Danny Mirando on bass/backing vocals, Richie Castellano on guitar/keyboards and Jules Radino on drums.

“We have wanted to record the current line-up for some time and the result of us giving our all on this album speaks for itself,” says Roeser. “The Covid-19 lockdown slowed the completion of the record and we were prevented from travelling and collaborating in person, although luckily we had already done the basic tracking. We resorted to video conferencing and producing each other over the internet and are fortunate that the technology exists to do that, plus some live performance cancellations gave us a little more time to carefully consider the finishing touches. We sent the album out to be mixed by Tom Lord-Alge and we also worked together over the internet on that.”

Released by Frontiers 9th October 2020

Related posts:

Blue Öyster Cult reissue plus a brand new fortieth anniversary live album

Book review: ‘Chasing Shadows – The Search for Rod Evans: Deep Purple’s original singer’ by Adrian Jarvis

Part biography, part rock ‘n’ roll travelogue and part love-letter in celebration of a teenage musical obsession, I enjoyed Adrian Jarvis’s ‘Chasing Shadows’. Subtitled ‘The Search for Rod Evans’ – the elusive lead singer from the very first line-up of Deep Purple back in the late 1960s – you could be forgiven for thinking it all starts sounding a bit obsessive and stalkerish.

But the book is not really like that at all. For a start, Jarvis is not particularly obsessed with the mysterious Mr Evans, who dropped out of the music businesses in the early 70s, reappeared in 1980 fronting a bogus Deep Purple, was sued by his erstwhile bandmates and promptly disappeared again. The author is certainly a huge fan of Deep Purple in all of their various guises (or “Marks”) over the years but he is open about what he sees as the limitations of Evans’ vocal style and lyric-writing abilities in comparison to his successors and Jarvis’s curiosity about the singer’s whereabouts is more about a symbolic missing piece in the jigsaw of the band he loves rather than an unfathomable obsession with Evans per se.

The “search” takes us down a number of unexpected and meandering routes, some of them with only the most tenuous connections to Evans himself. But it remains an entertaining read nevertheless. Moreover, as someone of a similar age to the author (ie one who was way too young to get into heavy rock/metal during its first wave in the late 60/early 70s but who was to discover an affection for those older bands via the New Wave of British Heavy Metal [NWOBHM] boom a decade later) there is much in this tale that I can relate to.

Published by Wymer Publishing 2017

Related reviews:

Glenn Hughes, Bexhill 2019

Glenn Hughes, London 2015

Deep Purple, London 2015

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Birmingham 2017

Whitesnake – The Purple Album

News: ‘The Isolation Sessions’ new album in support of The National Emergencies Trust

From heavy metal to country, rock and roll to folk The Isolation Sessions is a newly-released digital download album aimed at raising money for The National Emergencies Trust Covid Appeal. Assembled by Danny Stoakes, the album features imaginative reworkings of ten of Stoakes’ favourite songs in collaboration with a host of different artists. These include Romeo’s Daughter’s Craig Joiner, Voodoo Six’s Matt Pearce and Tygers of Pan Tang’s Craig Ellis.

Tracks recorded include covers of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and The Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’.

Sicilian guitarist Antonello Giliberto and Tygers drummer Craig Ellis feature on ‘Diamonds and Rust’, a track which is a cross between the Joan Baez original and Judas Priest’s own reworked acoustic version.

Support has come from founding member of Judas Priest and KK’s Priest guitarist, KK
Downing
, who says:

“I would like to say congratulations and a big thank you to Danny Stoakes and all of the talented musicians for this collaboration. The Isolation Sessions is a collection of many well-known and loved songs that have been interpreted in a unique way during these past difficult months, and all in the name of a most worthy and appropriate charity, The National Emergencies Trust Covid Appeal.

“As I listen to the songs it is difficult to find favourites, but I admit I do warm to Diamonds and Rust – a song I have played with Priest so many times. I would strongly urge everyone to get on board and check out The Isolation Sessions, not only for its much needed cause, but for the undoubtable enjoyment you will have from listening to it. Again, much respect to all involved in this creation and my sincere thanks to you all for your support.”

Check out Diamonds and Rust here:

The Isolation Sessions also features Kyle Lamley of THEIA, Hoss Thompson of Thirteen Stars, The Big Dirty Axeman, C. Diddy, Liberty Lies drummer Adam Stevens, Burnt Out Wreck’s Gary Moat, Ian Sanderson and Michael Armstrong. The album has been mastered by Benedict Harris Hayes, of Oceanica and Massive Dynamic, who also features on the opening track, a cover of Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’.

Stoakes himself adds:

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the artists who have got involved and got behind this project. They have all done this for nothing ensuring that 100% of the money goes to the charity. Covid 19 is still very much out there and I really hope that we are able to help and support those who most need it. Thank you again to you all.”

The National Emergencies Trust collaborates with charities and other bodies to raise and distribute money and support victims during times of a domestic disaster.

Donate and order The Isolation Sessions via: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theisolationsessions

Or via Progressive Gears Bandcamp:
https://progressivegears.bandcamp.com/album/the-isolation-sessions

News: ‘Something on Me’ – new album from Snowy White due out 9th October

A new album from blues-infused guitar legend Snowy White and his band The White Flames is due out on 9th October this year.

In advance of next month’s full album release, ‘I Wish I Could’ a delicious slice of virtuoso blues combined with White’s characteristically laid-back and personal lyrics is now available as a single.

Most famous for his 1983 worldwide hit ‘Bird of Paradise’ from his debut solo album, White has developed his own unique style of ‘English’ blues, a combination of clear, clean blues phrases and harder-edged contemporary rock riffs.

In the seventies he toured the east coast of America, getting as far south as New Orleans and discovering the life of a touring musician was one that suited him. By that time he had become friendly with former Fleetwood Mac guitar legend, Peter Green, and they spent a lot of time jamming together. In the Autumn of 1976 he was invited to tour America and Europe with Pink Floyd and the following year went on to guest on the solo album of Floyd’s keyboard player Rick Wright. In 1979 White accompanied Peter Green on his return to the studio after several years away and the album ‘In the Skies’ was the result. Further work with Pink Floyd ensued which was then followed by a three year stint in Thin Lizzy, leaving in 1982 to commence his solo career.

White’s first solo album was entitled White Flames and included the aforementioned ‘Bird of Paradise’ smash. In 1987 White put together a blues-orientated outfit, the Blues Agency, recording two albums. In the 90s White then toured and recorded with two Dutch-Indonesian musicians, Juan van Emmerloot (drums/percussion) and Walter Latupeirissa (bass and rhythm guitar). As The White Flames they recorded a string of albums, including No Faith Required, Restless, The Way It Is and Realistic, performing all over Europe.

A long stint then followed working with Roger Waters once more,which included Waters’ Dark Side Of The Moon and Wall’ tours. In between tours White founded the Snowy White Blues Project, recording the albums ‘In Our Time Of Living’ and ‘In Our Time…Live’.

White’s most recent solo album, The Situation came out in 2018. The new album Something On Me features Thomas White on drums, Rowan Bassett on bass and appearances by various other White Flames.

http://www.snowywhite.com/

Uriah Heep’s 50th anniversary – interview with Mick Box

Uriah Heep celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. An anniversary tour, like pretty much everything else this year, has now been rescheduled for 2021 but Greater Manchester Rock Radio’s Tony Charles recently caught up with Heep’s Mick Box to reflect on the band’s past half century.

In a fascinating hour-long programme that GMRR have shared with me for this blog, Mick and Tony takes us through the band’s entire history starting with the very early days and the band’s formation. The classic David Byron-fronted years of the early to mid 70s are discussed in some detail, of course, but Box’s reflections on the years that came after that are definitely worth hearing.

Talking about the late 70’s and the band’s temporary implosion following the release of the Conquest album in 1980, Box reflects: “I’ll tell you what it was. I think the writing got a bit too poppy. We started off as a rock band and then you got songs like ‘Free Me’ and ‘Come Back To Me’ and although they were good songs we didn’t really associate them with Uriah Heep if you like and I think a lot of fans fell by the wayside because we lost that rocking edge.”

Uriah Heep bounced back in 1982 with a new line-up and the Abominog album. Box looks back on that now as: “Very much an album of the 80s in its production, in its writing and everything and we had great success with it.”

In more recent years the band has returned to a more classic sound with the last album Living The Dream receiving heaps of praise. Box: “With Living The Dream we had a great producer Jay Rushton and what he did was he kept the heritage of the band and all the trademarks that the band is known for – with the five-part harmony and the wah-wah guitar, the solos, the Hammond organ – and he kept all of those elements but he had a wonderful way of blending them to make them sound very modern.”

Thanks to Tony Charles and Greater Manchester Rock Radio – you can listen to the full hour-long interview on soundcloud here:

Related posts:

Uriah Heep, London 2014

Uriah Heep at Giants of Rock 2018

Uriah Heep, Bexhill 2019

Are you an aspiring Radio DJ? Introducing Greater Manchester Rock Radio

Are you an aspiring Radio DJ? Introducing Greater Manchester Rock Radio

I’m pleased to say Darren’s Music Blog is going to be linking up with Greater Manchester Rock Radio. They will be running some of my rock album reviews on their website and I’ll be running occasional band interviews from them here. You can listen in and find out more about the station here. With a wide range of specialist shows – from prog to punk, classic rock, metal and indie check their schedule and give them a listen.

Station Manager, Tony Charles, is also on the look-out for new presenters:

Are you an aspiring Radio DJ? Do you fancy broadcasting on a real web-based Rock Community Radio Station?

If so, then Greater Manchester Rock Radio (GMRR) would like to hear from you.

Founded in November 2018, GMRR is the only web-based community radio station based on rock music in the North West, and potentially in the whole of the UK.

They are on the hunt for volunteers who want to present their own weekly one to two-hour shows or help with interviews /research . For presenting all you need is a love of rock music, a great idea for a show, a PC mic and editing software.

Full training will be provided, and you can pre-record your show from home. Plus, there is the added perk of free entry to a few rock gigs and the chance to interview some amazing bands. (when they are back)

Station manager Tony Charles has been a DJ since the 1980s on local internet radio stations, as well as having experience on stations such as BBC Radio 1, 4 and 5 as a researcher.

He said: “We are getting more and more people tuning into GMRR and as a result we are looking for more presenters to help expand our offerings.

“Our youngest presenter is 20 and our oldest is 72. We’re happy to hear from anyone who’s interested.

“We are also looking for a community and/or a charity to take on a 1-hour slot each week to promote community issues.”

Applicants of any age or background are welcome.

For more information, or to apply, email GMRR station manager Tony at
studio@greatermanchesterrockradio.co.uk

‘It’s About Time’ – Jefferson Starship back with new single and new EP

‘It’s About Time’ is the latest single from US rock legends Jefferson Starship. Following the death of Paul Kantner in 2016 the band these days are: David Freiberg, Donny Baldwin, Cathy Richardson, Chris Smith and Jude Gold. The new single, however, is co-written by the band’s legendary ex-vocalist Grace Slick.

And while the single is definitely more of an upbeat slice of AOR in the spirit of ‘We Built This City’ rather than any Woodstock-era hippy freak-out, the lyrics are certainly not lacking in countercultural bite. “Can’t you feel the planet getting hotter? How can you sit back and watch your own slaughter?” sings Cathy Richardson. “Old white men have had their turn.”

A video has been released to promote the single:

The band have also announced the release of a new seven-track EP Mother of the Sun which will be released on 21st August. Not only does it include songs co-written by two original Jefferson Starship/Jefferson Airplane members – ‘It’s About Time’ co-written with Grace Slick and a further track co-written with Marty Balin, the EP also features the return of original Jefferson Starship member Pete Sears, who contributes bass on three tracks.

“Paul Kantner was our bandleader and the visionary who kept Jefferson Starship going through so many eras,” says Richardson. “He inspired so much about this record, from the messages in the lyrics to the title and album art to the collaborative process of creating music as a band with some of his original muses – Grace, Marty, and Pete. Mother of the Sun is dedicated to PK.”

Jefferson Starship today features singer/multi-instrumentalist David Freiberg (who, following a five-album stint with Quicksilver Messenger Service, was then part of the final line-up of Jefferson Airplane and the original Jefferson Starship), drummer Donny Baldwin (who joined Jefferson Starship in 1982 and also played and sang on many hits of the band’s Starship era), lead singer Cathy Richardson (whom Kantner recruited in 2008), Chris Smith (who has been in the band since the late 90s) on keyboards and Jude Gold (who joined in 2012) on lead guitar.

Having caught them several years ago I can happily confirm that live, the current line-up are well worth seeing, performing hits across all eras of the band including ‘White Rabbit’, ‘Somebody to Love’, ‘We Built This City’, and ‘Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’.

Mother of the Sun is released via Golden Robot Records on 21st August 2020.

www.jeffersonstarship.com

Glam-punk: album review: Tiny Bit of Giant’s Blood ‘Gigantosaur’

This review was originally published by Get Ready To Rock here

Following ‘Dram A’ a five-track EP released back in 2018 Gigantosaur is the debut full-length album from US-based self-styled glam punks Tiny Bit Of Giant’s Blood. A curious but likeable album from this gloriously eccentric bunch, the likes of Queen, Bowie and Van Halen are hailed as influences. Such influences are clearly evident but there’s also plenty of Ramones-style attitude and a sprinkling of over the top Tubes-style outlandishness and some Mott-style craziness that gives the album that punk edge.

Tiny Bit Of Giant’s Blood are Tony Rogers – vocals/keyboards, John Scholvin – guitar/vocals, Jackie Schimmel – bass/vocals, and Larry Beers – drums/vocals.

‘Girl Over Here’ is one of the stand-out tracks and one of those where the glam influences are most obvious. Punchy and hook-laden, it put me in mind of Transformer-era Lou Reed with early Stooges-style attitude and Queen-esque backing vocals. One of the more out and out punk tracks is the wonderfully off-the-wall ‘Mick Jagger Carries My Boots’. The album also includes a raggedly anarchic cover of ‘If You Want Blood’ which manages to sound absolutely nothing like AC/DC yet manages to sound inspired. If you’re going to do a cover an all-time classic rock song there’s absolutely no point in making it sound like a copy of the original so they just take this brilliantly-written song, ignore what was recorded originally and apply their own unique formula. They pretty much pull it off.

Gigantosaur is definitely something a little different. Taking a sideways look at some great elements of rock history and coming up with something quirky, fun and just that bit crazy do check out Tiny Bit of Giant’s Blood.

Released: 22nd May 2020 by Jumbo Records

https://www.tinybitofgiantsblood.com/

A tribute to Judy Dyble 1949-2020

The singer and songwriter Judy Dyble, who sang lead vocals on Fairport Convention’s very first album, sadly died at the weekend. Although never as celebrated in British folk rock history as her replacement, Sandy Denny, Judy’s beautifully clear, distinctive vocals nevertheless remain an essential part of the early Fairport sound.

After her time with Fairport, Judy was involved in a handful of other projects in the late 60s and early 70s before quitting the music business altogether, spending time bringing up her family and working as a librarian. Her musical story doesn’t quite end there, however, as the early 2000s saw Judy begin writing, recording and performing once more. Albums like the gently captivating ‘Talking With Strangers’ from 2009 and the gorgeous ‘Flow and Change’ from 2013 were extremely well received but her career renaissance continued to grow and grow with her more recent albums picking up a slew of top-notch reviews and frequent appearances in the music press.

Judy’s 2016 autobiography ‘An Accidental Musician’ is a beautiful read. Obviously, I’ve read my fair share of sex and drugs and rock and roll confessionals over the years and, perhaps unsurprisingly, this takes a very different tack. Obviously, it’s a fascinating read in terms of music history but there is so much in there that really any of us can relate to: bereavement, the lack of confidence that can come from not doing something for a long time, the fear and then the buzz of taking on new challenges – it all served to give the book a very, very human angle. When I posted comments along these lines on social media at the time, in typically engaging fashion Judy came back straight away:

“I am so glad you appreciated it, I kind of worry that it isn’t what people expect it to be – a typical race through the 60’s with lots of name droppings… Thank you.”

Other than being part of the communal sing-along for ‘Meet On The Ledge’ Judy was not called upon to play a major part in her former band’s forty-fifth anniversary celebrations which I know was a source of some frustration to her. I emailed Fairport’s Simon Nicol at the time expressing my disappointment that she had not been asked to play a bigger contribution. He did get back saying the band hoped to do more with Judy in the future. They certainly made up for it at the band’s fiftieth anniversary celebration at Cropredy in 2017 where, as well as a solo slot for Judy that weekend, all of the original line-up (sans deceased drummer Martin Lamble) reconvened. Magically we were transported back to 1967 with all of the surviving members from the first Fairport album reconvening on stage for a stunning recreation of the first track on the first album ‘Time Will Show The Wiser’, followed by ‘I Don’t Know Where I Stand’ and ‘Reno, Nevada’. It completely captured the magic of that first album and was really special seeing Judy, Ashley Hutchings, Simon Nicol, Richard Thompson and Iain Matthews sharing a stage together.

An essential part of the early Fairport sound, an unexpected and most wonderful artistic renaissance in later life and one of the loveliest, most sincere, most humble and least showbizzy people you could ever wish to meet, Judy Dyble will be greatly, greatly missed.

Me with Judy at the signing tent at Cropredy in 2017

Rock/Americana: album review – Lee Gallagher & The Halleluja ‘L.A. Yesterday’

Taking inspiration from that the likes of The Byrds, The Flying Burrito Brothers and Buffalo Springfield, Lee Gallagher lays out his own take on that cosmic California sound with his latest album L.A. Yesterday. It’s all majestic-sounding piano, nifty guitar licks and laid-back California vibes. With Gallagher’s emotive, highly expressive vocals (he’s been compared to everyone from Steve Marriott, to Tom Petty to Neil Young) and his not inconsiderable songwriting skills it makes for an instantly appealing mix.

The music I play is always centred on rock and roll,” Gallagher reflects. “It’s very much rooted in what was a period of awakening – the late 60s/early 70s. So many obscure artists. So many mega artists. Just a lot of great art.”

Gallagher began his singing career in the bars of Southern Ohio but making the move from the mid-west to the sunshine state he soaked up those west coast influences and eventually put together a band, The Hallelujah. An EP and a full-length album followed and, with a slight shift in personnel, L.A. Yesterday is the outfit’s third release.

Recorded at Palomino Sound, a vintage 70s Los Angeles studio, Lee Gallagher (vocals, guitar, banjo, harmonica) is joined by long-time collaborators Kirby Hammel (keyboards) and Jimmy Dewald (bass) along with new additions Jason Soda (lead guitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, 12 string guitar, mandolin and Hammond organ) and Will Scott (drums).

Combining elements of psychedelia, Americana and good old rock and roll L.A. Yesterday is a luscious slice of vintage California. As Gallagher says: “Play it very loud rolling down the highway or simply melting into your favourite chair.”

Released: 24th July 2020

https://www.leegallaghermusic.com/