REVIEWS - JANUARY 2004
THE LIZARDS – Rule [Hyperspace]
This is the 2nd release by The Lizards, a US band put together by guitarist Patrick Klein and bassist Randy Pratt, who also run Hyperspace Records – a label specializing in reuniting and recording old classic hard rock bands [see Cactus, Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer...] With The Lizards the pair also add to their line-up drummer Bobby Rondinelli [Sabbath, BOC, Rainbow...] and Sir Lord Baltimore singer John Garner [Garner being one of a few singing drummers in his day]. “Rule” is a great mix of Classic hard rock and metal styles to blues rock, with solid performances and a number of memorable tunes.
Rule kicks off with the instantly likeable “Grip Of Love”, a classy heavy rocker and it’s easy to notice that 30 + years later Garner still has it; the vocals are superb and the band sounds cool. Rule features a number of decent heavy rockers such as the next 2 cuts “It’s Alright” and the environmentally aware “Hungry World”, which features a great eerie guitar solo accompanied by backing strings. “Hard Luck Messiah” is another cool rocker. The Lizards also cross in to blues and more funk styled tracks such as the blues ballad “The Battle Rages On” and the funky blues of “Wheel Of Fortune”, which picks up quite heavily after a lengthy slower paced harmonica and guitar solo section, as well as “Burnin Time” and “Pay The Band”. The slower blues tune “The Rats And Us”, with a deep, quieter vocal from Garner and is another observation on the environment, sets up nicely for a remake of the Sir Lord Baltimore gem “Kingdom Come” – which still sounds dark, heavy and fits perfectly at the end of this disc.
A solid disc, and one that’ll appeal to fans of classic 70s hard rock, blues rockers and likely even latter latter day heavy rock fans.
Check out www.thelizardwebsite.com
GODDO – Kings of the Stoned Age [Bullseye]
Canadian rockers Goddo are back, well not that they’ve really gone anywhere, but this being their first studio album in over a decade and it’s a great return loaded with guitar rockers and tunes to satisfy those who owned all the old albums way back and have had to settle by seeing the band play the same live set for the past decade. Gino Scarpelli’s guitar is turned up, giving this album a big heavy sound, and Greg Godovitz turns in some classic lyrics and deliveries while he and Doug Inglis fill out the sound here on bass and drums. “Help Me” opens the disc superbly, it’s a solid driving rocker type song, and it’s followed up by my early favorite here, and probably most commercial approach here on “Such A Fool”. The band come off sounding as they are having fun with this stuff, and Godovitz being a well seasoned rock veteran knows the seriousness [or lack of] of the old rockers life these days on “Rock Star”. Gino Scarpelli, contributes another gem here in “Gas Money & Cigarettes”. Goddo delivers 9 good rockers here [no ballads, no pop slop, no useless experiments – just what the fans want!]; check out “Chainsaw Love”, “I Wanna Be On My Own” [featuring sidekick Bob Segarini on backing vox], the extra heavy blues paced “Watch Me Crawl” [featuring Jeff Healey on guitar] and the fast charged “When You Roam” [killer solo here]. Though likely not hoping to be deemed a ‘metal’ band, you’d almost wonder on some of this, the way these guys can really pour it on heavy. Kings Of The Stoned Age closes with “Moroccan Girl”, another upbeat rocker.
Clocking in at 40 minutes is damn near perfect too. Remember the days when albums clocked in at 40 minutes or less [instead of 75] and weren’t full of crap? Well this is one of them! The pace is fast, the sound is heavy, the guitars are thick and the tunes are all worth another listen.
Check it out www.goddo.net and www.bullseyecanada.com
RIVERA BROMMA – Invisible Force [World Music Inc]
New Jersey based band lead by guitarist Rod Rivera and vocalist John Bomma who are big on the 70s classic styles of Rainbow, BOC, etc... and take on more prog approaches with Christian lyrics.
Invisible Force features strong pro metal stuff, with some great melodies and performances.
The title track leads off the album and it’s really just a short synth and piano prelude written by keyboardist Sean Faust, which leads in to the fast paced rock of “Victory”. “Tarot Read” is an easily likeable progressive track, reminiscent of early Rainbow, a heavy tune with a strong vocal [i really can’t think of who this guy reminds me of, but his voice suits this style of rock perfectly], and a guitar and keyboard solo more reminiscent of latter day prog/metal bands [ala Dream Theater]. “Cry Of Love” follows up and it’s a heavy ballad, a memorable tune. [The disc ends with an acoustic version of this tune]. “Eclectic”, written by Rod Rivera is the centerpiece of the album here. It’s a lengthy piece, broken in to 5 sections; it goes from a great melodic rock song with soaring vocals, to a fast paced prog-ish instrumental, back to a quiet ballad instrumental, to a Spanish styled piece, before picking back up in to a metal sounding tune with vocal. Invisible Force features a number of good ballads in the acoustic “Hold On” [which has a Spanish style to it, very cool sound w/ the harmonies] and the instrumental “Hand of God” , which takes on a guitar heavy approach. These are followed by the power ballad “Give You My Love”, which is a good showcase for Bomma’s voice, and features a nice blend of acoustics, piano and heavy electric rhythm guitar.
“Full Moon In Spain” is a unique song, another Spanish flavored track, with Flamence guitar and Bomma’s vocal up front. Though this album may seem ballad heavy, it shouldn’t turn off the rockers ‘cause frankly the ballads are usually musically heavy with big guitar sound and big vocal deliveries.
Well worth checking out www.planetrapture.com/riverabomma
Martin Popoff’s re-worked & re-edited edition of reviews for the 70s [see his original “Riff Kills Man” for where it all began] This book takes all his 70s album reviews, additions, etc... and puts them nicely in this 344 page text. Sure, much of what the guy says is opinion, but having listened to and written about almost every 70s album you can think of should deem his writings of some significance and interest, and makes for a decent overall reference book of 70s hard rock & metal. A number of bands included here could also be up for debate as far as the term ‘Heavy Metal’ goes [ie Bad Company[!!??], Saga, Journey and numerous other American AOR types]. Also includes Martin’s usual list of reference notes in the back pages > bands not heavy enough, obscurities, top 100 albums, etc.... Comes with a bonus 12-track CD of 70s obscure metal gems.
Check it out www.martinpopoff.com & www.cgpublishing.com
The Psychedelic Rock Files [Jerry Lucky]
An in-depth read, time line and reference to rock’s most experimental and interesting era.
Jerry Lucky’s amazing research on the psychedelic era [from 1965 to 71 according to this] boasts yearly timeline [including notable rock events, gigs, festivals, Bill Graham Presents listings, ...], in depth looks at all relating things from the posters and art of the era, the culture, to the major pop festivals or the period, the musical history and an A-Z of psych bands. 344 pages, including 8 color pages of album covers and concert posters. An educational and enlightening read of the psychedelic times.
For more info check out www.cgpublishing.com
Reviews: © Kevin J. Julie / Universal Wheels, January '04