Sights and Sounds of Note — Volume 05: Number 01

Spread the love

by Rich and Laura Lynch

What a difference a year makes! Sights and Sounds of Note has blossomed into a respected stand alone website and will soon become the permanent home of our reporting archives. SSON co-founder Rich Lynch‘s music career is taking bold strides in Nashville while partner Laura is even more positive with each passing day. So, Happy New Year! There’s no time for resolutions as we have changes to implement. Meanwhile the music keeps coming so here’s the best recent submissions we’ve chosen to hi-light!

It seems that Neil Young (www.neilyoung.com) has made his considerable musical presence known once again on The Visitor as he has beamed down a brilliant album that tends to circle back to many various phases of his long and storied career. Supported by Willie Nelson offspring led Promise Of The Real, Young has created a startling record for our time but one that also feels absolutely fresh and new even as it reflects his past. “Already Great” is pretty great and is Young’s way of saying, “this ain’t my fault, I’m Canadian”. Young has been a sometimes too frequent visitor through the decades nearly unmatched in prolific and regular output during his recording tenure. Perhaps that’s why this album has elements of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s throughout that recall efforts as diverse as Landing On Water, Times Fades Away and Harvest Moon. Maybe this is Young telling us all “I came, I saw, I conquered” as one of rock’s longest lasting and most important icons. “Fly By Night” resurrects Grandpa from Greendale while driving down a Trans highway that really touches the night! Even the multiple planet anthems on this record seem more authentic and less contrived than in recent years. One of them “Stand Tall” stands tall with a partial spoken word and rap vibe complete with falsetto vox, crunchy power chords and singular guitar leads from the multi-talented Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. The stand-out track “Carnival” clocks in at over 8 minutes while taking a long, delightful and delirious Latin and whimsical turn with laughter and contagious cat calls. Neil Young is knocking at the door with The Visitor – will you let him in? Fans wanting to spend some more time with Neil could think about revisiting his discography from the beginning to the present day. According to published reports they might get a chance to do that soon – for free online – stay tuned.

Kansas (www.kansasband.com) is a rock group with a lot of history. So much so that they recently went on the road resulting in the triumphant Leftoverture Live & Beyond caught during that’s albums 40th anniversary tour. You see, the guys once before had to deal with a departing Steve Walsh and they managed to strike gold with his replacement. Faced with the same scenario repeating Kansas stalwarts Phil Ehart and Rich Williams had to search for a new singer with that distinctive signature quality. Amazingly, they found Ronnie Platt who delivers strong vocals that are a unique hybrid of the departed Walsh and “Play the Game Tonight” vocalist John Elefante. On 19 tracks that include classic hits, deep cuts, and new songs the guys sound rejuvenated and excited for their immediate future which will find the classic rockers returning to the studio to follow-up the critically acclaimed 15th studio record The Prelude Implicit. We are at the prelude now and the point of more great things to come for Kansas.

The super group – Rock Candy Funk Party (www.rockcandyfunkparty.com) consisting of Joe Bonamassa, Tal Bergman, Ron DeJesus, Mike Merritt and Renato Neto, have recently released their third album aptly called The Groove Cubed in follow-up to 2015’s Groove Is King. The new CD was recorded at Tal Bergman’s Studios in Los Angeles, California. “It will take the listener on a journey that explores the use of different styles of music from different eras and hopefully break some rules!” says Bergman. “This band is a perfect vehicle to make music in unorthodox ways that crosses different genres. The band’s motto and perfect concept for this new album is that there are no rules: just expect the unexpected.” The 14-track collection is packed with varied textures and tones that run the range from funky to jazzy. Among the mostly instrumental tunes are a few bonus vocal numbers. “Don’t Even Try It” features Vintage Trouble singer Ty Taylor. Also appearing on the album is Mahalia Barnes, daughter of Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes, who has previously performed backing vocals for Joe Bonamassa. In the case of Rock Candy Funk Party threes a charm with solid, sweet sounds on The Groove Cubed.

Some might say that The Union of Sinners and Saints (www.theunionofsinnersandsaints.com) is a super group in the Christian music scene. The collective features members from two of the biggest Christian rock bands of all time, between them selling over 12 million records with over 15 Grammy and 40 Dove nominations and awards. John Schlitt (lead singer) who is still in strong voice shares that the idea of a new project really intrigued Billy Smiley (guitars, keys, vox) and himself. “With our histories, it only made sense to feature the favorites of Petra and Whiteheart along with some of the new songs we were writing in the studio. Thus, the name The Union of Sinners & Saints (U.S.S.)”. Their 12 track self-titled album in theory has the potential to chart in the secular world with its animated insightful anthems backed by riveting riffs and rhythms. The CD opens with the rousing “Rise Up” and closes with the blazing “Bittersweet” flowing into a creative take on the traditional “Christ The Lord Is Risen Today”. In between are modern, melodic rockers with a focus on the Master spiked with a bit of humor on “Old Guys Rule.” “While writing these songs”, Schlitt said, “we realized we had a lot of new ideas swirling around in our heads that we wanted to share, both musically and lyrically; songs that were on our hearts and minds, yet we also wanted to celebrate with all of our friends and fans some of the memorable songs, moments, and performances that they have been a part of over the years”. The Union of Sinners & Saints is a catchy compilation of the group’s past and present while remaining Christ centered.

Guitarist Steve Hunter (www.stevehunter.com) aka The Deacon has been admired for decades with a notable forty-five year career. From his 1973 solos on Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies record, his legendary acoustic work on Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill,” his “Intro” to Lou Reed’s “Sweet Jane”, his searing opening solos on Aerosmith’s version of “Train Kept A Rolling” and most recently Steve can be heard on Cooper’s 2017 platter Paranormal making it his ninth Alice album appearance. Then there is Before The Lights Go Out – Hunter’s latest solo release. The ten-track mostly instrumental collection is a culmination of Steve’s expertise and experiences. Steve comes out sizzling on the bold and bluesy “On The Edge Of Uncertainty” flowing into a fluid and funky “Mojo Man” featuring Joe Satriani countered by the soft, sweet tones of “Summer’s Eve” paired with the compelling “Cinderblock.” “Softtail Deuce” rocks and rolls as any good motorcycle song should. As with all Hunter’s music, there is some diversity and imagery, not least of which is “Tienes Mi Coraz√≥n” where alongside his nylon string improvisation comes the sound of his own heart. Steve Hunter proves he is still a skilled string man that can run the range from beguiling to blazing in on Before The Lights Go Out.

Even though their leader Robert Fripp has been known to hide behind his stack of guitar amps in recent years there’s no hiding the fact that King Crimson (www.dgmlive.com) remains one of the most extraordinary legacy acts sill progressively plying their trade on a regular basis. Yes, Fripp may turn his back on the audience from time to time but he is always willing to give fans just enough concerts and releases to keep the group’s mythical status firmly in tact for another cycle. That is certainly the case on Official Bootleg: Live in Chicago, June 28th, 2017 – a two CD set, taken from the band’s most recent US tour. The lineup features – Mel Collins: Saxes & flute, Robert Fripp: Guitar & keyboards, Gavin Harrison: Drums, Jakko Jakszyk: Guitar & voice, Tony Levin: Basses, stick, voice Pat Mastelotto: Drums, Bill Rieflin: Keyboards, Jeremy Stacey: Drums & keyboards – and together they excel in professional prog rock glory. The album deftly showcases many iconic King Crimson pieces performed live by this line-up – some being played live for the first time ever, including: “Islands,” “The Lizard Suite,” “The Errors,” “Fallen Angel,” “Cirkus” & more all proving that King Crimson still reign at what they do.

Our first indoctrination into the cult of Uriah Heep (www.uriah-heep.com) came with the early 80’s classic commercial success Abominog. We are happy to report that the track sounds potent on the band’s new release Raging Through The Silence – a satisfying 2CD/1DVD set that documents their 20th Anniversary show in 1989. This concert is likely to be the only gap in many committed fans’ collections and gives their core supporters an opportunity to complete the entire Heep discography. This release is the culmination of a long process to make sure all of the Uriah Heep back catalogue is available in modern day formats and digitally. The package also includes a bonus audio interview, recorded on the same day as the concert, which was previously only available on picture disc LP and CD for a very limited amount of time. Like the abomination on the album cover that also included “Too Scared too Run” this one is scary good, too! The legendary British rockers have thrown another great effort on the heep of releases they’ve been piling up to keep their fans happy. Here’s to another twenty years!

It was ten years ago, when The High Kings’ concert was broadcast on PBS stations across America and launched the group onto the music scene overnight. Their self-titled debut album quickly followed and reached an impressive No 2 on Billboard’s World Music Chart. Within months the four members – Finbarr Clancy, Brian Dunphy, Martin Furey and Darren Holden – had clicked as a creative unit as well as friends and knew that they were embarking on something special. Decade is a celebration of the band’s past and present in much the same way they collectively are a celebration of classic and contemporary Irish music. The quartet has brought back into vogue ballad groups in the vain of The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners. The High Kings present their originals and traditional tunes with skill running the range from reflective to rousing. Decade offers the best of their ten energized and engaging years together. The collector’s edition comes in a booklet format featuring 18 songs – plenty of peppy to pensive songs for fans to indulge in. Some of our favorites include the spirited “Spancil Hill”, “The Rising of the Moon”, the sassy “Irish Pub Song” and a live version of “Friends For Life”. With strong single and multi-part vocals paired with some traditional instruments The High Kings are royalty paying tribute to the past as they craft their own page in Irish music history for the future.

Donny Osmond’s 60th album The Soundtrack of My Life features a collection of covers with personal meaning to the one time teen idol. Donny toured in support of the record and in celebration of a career that has lasted over five decades. The result is Donny Osmond One Night Only! a live recording from the NEC Birmingham. Both the double CD and DVD sets reveals that the singer is a showman. The “Celebration” medley starts the collection off on festive note with Donny fronting a capable crew of dancers and musicians and utilizing all the tricks of the trade such as colorful costumes, dance, lights and videos. In the course of 24 tracks, Osmond presents a career spanning set along with songs from The Soundtrack of My Life with a few surprises such as Steely Dan’s “Peg” presented as a dance number. At times the show has a Vegas vibe to it but Sin City has been good to Donny and his sister Marie who have been performing at the Flamingo for almost 10 years from a gig that was supposed to last a few weeks. Osmond traverses a varied selection of material from the bubble gum pop of “Puppy Love” to more serious tunes such as the “Long And Winding Road” which included an amusing Paul McCartney story. For some years Donny suffered from a too-nice-image but his humor was rather mischievous – on one occasion he told the audience that he was giving all the proceeds from his concerts to children – “my children” he corrected but his mostly female fans found him funny with some giving him gifts. Donny Osmond One Night Only! demonstrates that Donny Osmond has a diverse catalogue and is an artist that can still deliver an engaging live performance for his devoted followers and perhaps win new ones in the process.

Dave Kerzner is a keyboardist, producer, singer and songwriter. Kerzner co-founded the prog-award-winning rock group Sound of Contact with Simon Collins, son of Phil Collins, in 2009 and over the years has worked with artists such as Kevin Gilbert, Steve Hackett, Keith Emerson, Alan Parsons, Billy Sherwood, Jon Anderson, Steven Wilson, Joe Lynn Turner and more. In follow-up to his well-received, debut solo album New World, Dave is back with Static a “progressive rock opera” about the clutter and chaos in modern everyday life. It boldly navigates through subjects ranging from noise in our heads of ego, jealousy, technological distractions, substance abuse and narcissism to profiling the hypocritical and corrupt characters in politics, media and society today. Static is very much a contemporary record yet reflects classic rock influences including Genesis, King Crimson and Pink Floyd. The opener “Prelude” is a pensive piano piece that transitions into the proggy and punchy “Hypocrites” both setting the tone for a complex compelling record. “Reckless” rocks with abandon and agility. This astute epic concludes with the lavish and lengthy “The Carnival of Modern Life.” Static through a broad spectrum of sights and sounds presents a dark dystopian view that is a musical delight.

On their self-titled debut Bigfoot has taken a big step. In fact, the accomplished quintet featuring Antony Ellis on Lead Vocals; Sam Millar – Guitar; Mick McCullagh – Guitar; Matt Avery – Bass; and, Tom Aspinall – Drums have placed a bold and boisterous foot forward on their visible ascent up the rock mountain. I believe in Bigfoot and with a solid listen or two – you will too. The proof is there throughout the long-player’s 11-tracks. Nothing elusive here, either. A particularly good “Karma” gets the whole thing started for the English band based out of Wigan – better known for its Celtic ruins rather than Sasquatch. While heavy their sound has modern commercial leanings that should only help Bigfoot step out from the shadows to be discovered in the light of day. They cite influences as diverse as The Eagles to Pantera so you get the idea that their music might be a bit mysterious. When the group’s press says “Bigfoot is no myth, but they are about to become legends!” – this time the hype just might be true.

EVEN MORE NOTABLE RELEASES! Sifting through the digital postcards this month we’re delighted to discover that music is alive and well the world over. Let’s takes a look…

Simon Phillips (www.simon-phillips.com) has had a systemically successful career so let’s chalk it up to talent and protocol as in Protocol 4 the latest in his series of solo records featuring 9 drum-centric tracks in the rock, fusion, jazz and world formats. Precise and intense. Sounds so good. You can see why this stickman has been in demand by the likes of The Who, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour and many others since 1969…

Toronto’s Born Ruffians (www.bornruffians.ca) have really got it good on their new single “Miss You” from their upcoming Uncle, Duke & the Chief album. The 2:59 track is quirky, effervescent and uplifting with a strong 60’s vibe and modern touches that will keep you coming back for more…

Berlev’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hotel (rocknrollhotel.dk) are open for business. You might not get a good night’s sleep though as this dynamo from Denmark promise to rock you that good old fashioned way with their take on alluring and lush psychedelic power pop as heard on the blockbuster “Let’s Go To The Movies”. We’ve already made our reservation…

Cody Carpenter (www.codycarpenterofficial.com) is the son of Hollywood and Broadway royalty. He is clearly earning his own crown in the world of music ascending as heard on his latest Cody Carpenter’s Interdependence that features nine impressive and proggy instrumental tracks. Cody plays synths and is joined by some high profile friends. This Carpenter is building on a strong foundation and is one to definitely be on the lookout for…

Australia’s jacobs run (www.jacobsrun.com.au) gets our hearts pumping. Consider their timely “Hold On A Minute” that finds that veteran trio from down under accelerating near light speed on a track that’s bound to take them places and get ya jumping like a mob of kangaroos. Run to it!…

One man’s trash is one man’s treasure. Now comes a captivating Canadian band called MonkeyJunk (www.monkeyjunkband.com) and these primates have discovered the wheel. They’re letting it roll via a swamp meets the Great White North style on their motivationally supreme new single “Time to Roll”. Give it a spin and get yourself going…

Now that The Cars are a lock for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame many artists are surely fueled up to take them out for a spin again. One such is New York based Texas singer Barton Stanley David (www.bartonstanleydavid.com) who takes “Drive” on an excellent alternative adventure that points in the direction of his unique Alt-rock and Motown influenced roots…

See ya next month!

ABOUT US: Sights and Sounds of Note column editors Richard J. Lynch and Laura Turner Lynch are longtime activists in the music industry. Together, they have reviewed thousands of concerts and music releases through their network of websites including www.soundpress.net, www.kweevak.com and www.musiccitynashville.net. Laura is a published author of the inspirational Positive Power Secrets From A to Z (www.positivepowersecrets.net). Rich regularly interviews famous rock stars for the site’s radio show and he has recently launched his own recording career at (www.richlynchband.com).

(Originally Published on January 01, 2018)

 

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*