I know it's long overdue, but I will have more in the near future.   The past due reviews are here, more to come

IAIN ASHLEY HERSEY - The Holy Grail [2005, IAH Productions]


It's been a few years since LA guitarist/songwriter Iain Ashley Hersey began work on his second solo album. In fact, i reviewed 4 demos back in 2003, and was quite pleased with what i heard then, so I was happy to get the full-length album recently.

Like his 2000 debut "Fallen Angel", The Holy Grail boasts an impressive list  of guest singers, such as David Montgomery, Randy Williams, Carsten Schulz and ex Rainbow/Impelliteri man Graham Bonnet! The 4 tracks are the ones from the demo disc Hersey sent me a few years back and are out strong tracks, which benefit from Pat Regan's production & mixing job. All 4 tracks are rockers, most notably the lead off cut "Blood Of Kings" [the first 3 songs all feature Montgomery on vocals] and "Blink Of An Eye" [the only song featuring the voice of Randy Williams] - the former a mid tempoed guitar rocker, with Williams coming off a good bit like Glenn Hughes, and the latter a memorable classic aor-ish rock tune in the mold of 80s Rainbow. Singer Carsten Schulz contributes to the writing on 3 tracks "Empty Planet" and "Lost and Foolish", both memorable heavy edged rock tunes, and the bluesier "Calling For The Moon". Schultz at times coming off as a bit like Joe Lynn Turner, with more blues to him. With Hersey's music, including his Blackmore influenced guitar playing, the hammond organ that graces most of these songs, and a string of singers that fit into that Rainbow/Purple/Whitesnake style, it is only fitting that Bonnet contributes to 3 tracks as well. The Bonnet tunes are much more heavy blues rock songs, starting off with the blues standard "Going Down", then on to "Walking The Talk" and the album's title track. Bonnet's vocals are upfront and suit Hersey's bluesier style of playing.

The Holy Grail also features 2 instrumental cuts, one being Hersey's guitar take of Bach's "Toccata in D Minor" [accompanied by Philip Wolfe on keys] and his own slow blues composition "Auf Wiedersehen", which closes out the disc.  As much as i liked Hersey's debut "Fallen Angel", The Holy Grail surpasses it, being a more organized and flowing listen; with a number of good memorable songs and styles.

Check it out at > www.iainashleyhersey.com 

TEN YEARS AFTER - "Now" [2005 Fuel 2000 Records]

British blues legends returned to the stage in 2002 with original members Leo Lyons [bass and also well known producer], Chick Churchill [keys] and Ric Lee [drums] and featuring new singer/guitarist Joe Gooch. The new frontman has the task of overcoming the Alvin Lee legend and on this, the band's first new studio album in some 15 years, Gooch sounds great, having contributed to the album's songwriting as well as churning out some heavy guitar work on solid blues-rock tunes - "When It All Falls Down", "Time To Kill" and "The Voice Inside Your Head". Now  boasts a number of varied blues tunes, from "Hundred Miles High" to the ballad "I'll Make It Easy For You", to more standardized old school bar-room blues rockers "King Of The Blues" and "Reasons Why". The new Ten Years After comes off as fresh and energetic, with a definite live feel to the whole thing. Now also closes with 2 live versions of the band's classics "I'd Love To Change The World" and "Going Home".

Check out > www.tenyearsafternow.com 

EROL SORA - Demented Honour [2005 Duration]

Canadian guitarist / songwriter Erol Sora is known to classic rock fans, having served as guitarist for the John Lawton Band [ex Uriah Heep singer] and having played on the band's CD a few years back. About half of these tunes featured on Sora's original demo CD a few years back [see my interview with him way back!]. Erol Sora is a definite Canuck rocker, much in the vein of Canadian acts like Coney Hatch [see also Carl Dixon and Andy Curran solo], April Wine and Kim Mitchell; writing memorable guitar rockers suitable for beer drinking and summertime fun.

Kicking off with the hard-rocking "Guilty", Demented Honor boasts such other rockers as "Highway To Nowhere", "Barstool Corner" [a blues-rocker in the styles of the John Lawton stuff he did] and "Broken Dreams" and "If You Ever Need Love". The disc [of 10 tracks] only slows up for the acoustic intro of "Along The Way" and 2 of the best songs here - the ballad "Rain" [which closes the disc beautifully] and the light blues of "Piece of Paper" -- showing Sora writes some excellent stuff aside from the big rockers.

If you're in to good Canadian rock and looking for something to rock-out to with a fresh sound check out Erol's disc. Here's looking forward to more releases from this guy in the future.

Check out > www.erolsora.com


Reviews: Kevin J. Julie (Universal Wheels) February '07