In my last column I wrote that I envisioned being unable to write this column for a few weeks due to a cancer operation I had earlier this month. A few post-operative complications kept me hospitalized a bit longer than I had expected and I was not able to write anything.
I was, however, perfectly capable of listening to and watching some column-related material. Now that I am finally able to write about that material, I guess I am back.
Kiss – Kiss Loves You
This is a fascinating documentary about some of the more extreme ways that Kiss fans declare their allegiance to the band. The methods used range from the pathetic to the quite impressive. The extras on this DVD include 90 minutes of outtakes from the film, rare silent footage of the band, and the complete 1996 come-back press conference.
The DVD includes comments from some of the fans who attend the various conventions that pay homage to the band. What is probably most interesting is the extensive interviews with members of the various Kiss tribute bands that ply their trade across the country. There is even a guy who specializes in Ace Frehley’s solo material and does it rather well.
In the end, it’s a fascinating insight in the world that is the Kiss fanatic warts and all. The film kept me enthralled throughout.
Ben Griffith: Tea & Sympathy
This is confident and profound indie music that never gets too trite or pretentious. Cleverly Griffith has released an EP of his material rather than an album. These are all decent songs that show his ability without being too over the top. Its melancholic and melodic; enough so that some of the goth fans of this column might want to give it a listen. This is surely a competent debut.
RIIR: Road to Ruin
A couple of the Lion’s Share guys started finding themselves writing straight ahead hard rock with a Rainbow-like tinge that didn’t fit in with the Lion’s Share stuff. So they collected them up and released them under the RIIR moniker. What you have here is a quite a good collection of nine hard rock tracks. Along the way, they collected a few of their buddies for the project including Thomas Broman and Matti Alfonzetti on vocals.
This is a bunch of guys writing and playing they music they like while paying tribute to the music that inspired them as they grew up. Not a duff track on here; Quality pervades through-out. This is another quality release from Lion’s Share. I quite like “Thorn in my Side” for its feeling.
If you like good hard rock you could do a lot worse than this CD.
Empire: Chasing Shadows
Doogie White on vocals, Neil Murray on bass and Mike Terrana on drums give one the feeling of a bit of a supergroup, don't they? The band is based around German guitarist Rolf Munkes who, considering the players on this CD, is damn well connected. As you would expect from such players there is a strong Rainbow/Whitesnake vibe on here with lots of power and playing. The songs are up to snuff as well whether it be the title track or the hymn-like “The Alter.”
Quality players, good material and talent adds up to something special if you get it right. And Empire get it right in droves. Something worth seeking for you hard rock fans out there.
Steve Grimmett Band: s/t
Powerfully voiced Grimmett has fronted a myriad of bands of a variety of styles. From the heavy metal of Grim Reaper to the melodic rock of Lionsheart the man continues to demonstrate the range and breadth of his vocal chops. On this release he continues to show us all how its done. Having seen him live; its great to see his power and majesty translated onto disc.
This 11-track hard rock affair is closer in feel to Lionsheart than Grim Reaper or Onslaught but nonetheless there is a lot of bottom end there. Most interesting to me is the fact that Steve has engaged a female vocalist to provide counterbalance on the great track “Enemy.” If you have never heard Grimmett hard rock material then this might be a good place to start. You will agree with me that its pretty hard to deny his talent.
Well that is your lot for this week. It's about all I can muster right now writing wise.
I've got a pile of review material to continue going through so there is no problem for content of this column.
I would like to thank all those who sent me kind wishes before and during my cancer ordeal. I am told that its been cleared out and now I'm recovering.
As always stay safe and rocking; make sure you get to see as much live music as you can.