REVIEWS / NOVEMBER 2003


ALICE COOPER - The Eyes of Alice Cooper [Eagle Rock] 

Amazing that Alice seems to be one of the most consistent hardest working aged rockers out there, with this being his 3rd studio disc in 4 years [all preceded by a box set and live disc]. While previous albums - "Brutal Planet" and it's partner in sound "Dragontown" both took on influences of modern metal, both heavy and somewhat 'dark' affairs, Alice fans were expecting the next disc to be the finale in the Dragontown trilogy, but not so. Alice, always the unpredictable classic character and writer turns back to his roots with "The Eyes of Alice Cooper" being a more classic Alice influenced masterpiece, with brighter sounds, more humor and a wider appeal, much more in tune with 1991's "Hey Stoopid" [minus all the guests!]. The disc opens with the anthem "What Do You Want From Me?", a classic Alice theme song for guys, much in the vein of Dragontown's "Fantasy Man" with the lines "I burned all of my porno, cause you were PMSing; disconnected my X-box, and ditched all of my friends...." - one of my favorites on the album, as is "Man of the Year" [shades of Alice's early 80s punk days here] and "Love Should Never Feel Like This". Any 3 of these songs would make for excellent singles. But there's plenty of variety here from the aggressive "Spirits Rebellious" and "I'm So Angry" to the ballads "Be With You Awhile" [always count on Alice for 1 great ballad, and there's 2 here] and "The Song That Didn't Rhyme", which tells the tale of 1 poor song that manages to bring down an entire record company. "Novocaine" is the first single [and if you ain't heard it yet ...!!!?], but there's more great rock here with "Detroit City" [featuring Wayne Kramer of MC5 on guitar], the upbeat "Bye Bye Baby" and "Between High School & Old School". Nightmare Alice returns with "This House Is Haunted" and the album ends with the pounding "Backyard Brawl", perhaps my least favorite track here, but i ain't complaing 'cause there's enough great Alice tunes that'll appeal to old and newer fans to keep me happy for another year or 2! Hailed as Alice's best in the past 20 years by many, if you were crazy for the previous few [and I was!] don't pass this one off. Check out www.alicecooper.com 

RAIN DANCE - Let It Rain [HMM] 

Rain Dance - "Let It Rain"North Carolina based band of veteran musicians [oddly enough I discovered this band through drummer Robert Hudson, ex of 70s folk-rock act 'Warm'] that includes elements of pop-rock, jazz, blues, and southern rock, with one constant, and that's the smooth harmonies that flow through each song. The title track leads off the album and it's a catchy light-rock jazz-blues thing with the band's harmonies, a memorable tune, and nice use of the organ that is a big part of the sound as well [this song includes a neat hammond break after a brief trumpet spot]. There's plenty of variety here with tracks like "Wiggle Room" being a bit countrified, while "Savannah Wind" is a bit more Southern in the vein of the Allman Brothers, "Green Eyed Girl" is country styled, to the haunting light ballad "Distant Shores" [vocalist Doug Prescott reminding me of Robbie Robertson], to the blues rock of "Big Oil" [cool heavy lead hook and solo and somewhat politically inspired lyrics] and the blues tracks "Blow" and [slightly guitar heavier] "Bed of Roses". Including 13 tracks, "Let It Rain" is largely mid-light tempoed, lots of varied styles and instrumentation [guests include sax, mandolin, banjo, and trumpet players]. Not a big rocker album, but a solid listen, recommended to those who may be in to light-rock, blues, southern-rock... For more info write to: Howlin At The Moon Music; PO Box 2555, Chapel Hill, NC, 27515 2555, USA. Or visit  www.rain-dance.net 

EROL SORA - Long Time Coming [ESP] 

Who? Erol Sora is the guitarist in The John Lawton Band, a Canadian as well! I interviewed Erol a few months back when promoting the new JLB disc "Sting In The Tale" [on Classic Rock Productions], and Erol mentioned having done a solo disc some time ago. Well, I begged and I got a copy! Not even sure if i am supposed to review it, but I am 'cause I like it and so do the few people who've heard it through me. Originally from '99 and something Erol insists as demos. It's clear through Erol's disc that he certainly adds a good deal of that hard rocking element to Lawton's latest sound, and anyone who likes Sting In The Tale will like elements of this disc. It's pretty straight ahead hard rock stuff, with lots of great guitar work, riffs, solos, backing organ and Erol on vocals [sounding very Canadian, ala Paul Dean of Loverboy]. But aside from the big guitar stuff, this guy writes cool songs that are easily likeable such as "Highway To Nowhere", "Barstool Corner", "Rock n Roll Dog", "Mary" and "Sure Thing" [probably the most commercial feeling rock tune here]. The guy also throws in a few ballads and non rockers for measure with "A Life To Remember" [reminds me of Cat Stevens here for some reason] and the acoustic number "N.Y.C.". Best track here is saved for the end in "Without Love", which starts out as a soft ballad before kicking in with the guitars and drums, and features the coolest guitar playing from the man here. Anyway, not sure how you'd get this, but perhaps check out Erol's work on John Lawton Band's Sting In The Tale, and hopefully one day he'll get around to making this more available. :-)  www.johnlawtonband.com 

IAIN ASHLEY HERSEY - 2003 Demos

LA based guitarist/ songwriter Iain Ashley Hersey debuted as a solo act a few years back with his "Fallen Angel" disc [the man has also guested with Stuart Smith and been seen with numerous other acts]. Since then Iain's been busy hacking away at a follow-up and sent me this 4 track demo disc some months back. The 4 songs here are all pretty impressive, 3 of which feature singer David 'Swan' Montgomery, who is very much in the sound and style of Glenn Hughes and JL Turner, powerful blueswise, with a definite ability to handle classic aor-ish/ blues tinged rockers like "Blood Of Kings", "To The Sea" and "In The Light" - all somewhat mid-tempoed rockers, with Hersey's distinctive guitar sound all the place. Last up is "Blink of An Eye", featuring Randy Williams on vocals, and this is the big prize here; a classic tune, very memorable, a great vocal and classic hook. These tracks hold promise that Iain's new CD will be something to look forward to! Check out  www.iainashleyhersey.com


Reviews: Kevin J. Julie / Universal Wheels, November 2003