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Music Reviews: Eden’s Curse, Loaded, The Poodles, Big Trouble, Steve Diggle

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Another week and some more cracking music from various sources.

Eden’s Curse: Trinity

Let’s start with the end. This lot manage to do a cracking version of Dio’s “Rock & Roll Children” as a tribute to the great lost talent. It wraps the entire CD up nicely after slightly over 50 minutes of great prog power metal. The fact that they have brought along Andi Deris of Helloween and the mighty James LeBrie of Dream Theater just makes things even more special. The formal bands members hail from the UK, Germany, Italy and the US. They are international in outlook and it shows in the music.

Michael Eden is a talented singer as well as being more than able to keep up with his guest vocalists. There is really nothing on here that could be called filler. It’s all potent melodic metal. Tracks like “Can’t Fool the Devil” and “Jerusalem Sleeps” are hard to dismiss. The songs have all the right bits, including catchy as stink choruses.

This is one of the best releases of its kind so far this year. Quality start to finish and unlike many in this genre, there is an instant appeal to it all from the first listen. Call it melodic hard rock or progressive power metal, whatever this is, its damn good stuff.

Loaded: The Taking

Duff & Co are back with their third effort while Velvet Revolver figures out who is going to front them. By my, and many other people’s ears, this is the most solid of Loaded releases. There is a strong sense of purpose on all the songs on here. Duff certainly knows how to write a catchy tune and proves it here. “Dead Skin” is a great track that has quite a bit of a VR feel to it. There are still punky songs on here, but obviously Duff is using this as an outlet for his more mainstream hard rock stuff as well. Not surprisingly I prefer the hard rock tracks to the punky ones, but none of it lacks for quality.

There is nothing that you could consider a “duff” track on here, no filler just quality stuff all around. “We Win” clearly is treading on Foo Fighters anthemic territory and you can expect it to be a huge track live. The song will probably turn up at your favorite sports club in due time. The chorus is this decade’s “We are the Champions” methinks.

Would you expect anything less from Duff? A cracking album from a great band that will more than cover up the hole left by lack of Velvet Revolver output.

The Poodles: Performocracy

No I have no idea why this great hard rock band choose to name themselves after the favorite dog of the “ladies who lunch” variety of big city woman. Maybe they were being ironic and it was a slap in the face to all those who took the piss out of bands like Europe (who are the Poodles’ countrymen) under the term “poodle rock”. Or were they named for a “poodle perm,” who knows? Not that it matters a jot how daft their name is to our ears. This album has already gone number 1 in their home country and it should do just as well in other markets.

No matter what you think of the name this is a great hard rock album by any standard. It’s a quintessential example of “Scandi-rock” that has been peddled so well by so many bands in the last 30 years. It has all the elements you need, including clever hooks, catchy choruses and oddles of fun.

The band are a bunch of veterans who have honed their skills ready to deliver themselves in this delectable collection. Two of the founding members are ex-Talisman, the band once fronted by Jeff Scott Soto before his ever so brief gig with Journey. Pontus Norgen has since left to join Hammerfall and embrace his heavier side. Though “I believe in You” has some grunt behind it. The variety on this album is what keeps it interesting.

This is a great album start to finish. Hard rock with a Swedish flair is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. After one listen you will realize why Sweden loves this lot so.

Big Trouble: The Very Best of Big Trouble

Big Trouble, who are they and why do they have a best of out? Despite my healthy knowledge of all things hard and heavy rock I had never heard of them either. To be honest I could have lived without sitting through 13 tracks from this bunch of also-rans. From what I gather the band set out to be mid-Western Van Halen. Alas because of the voice of the lead singer and the weak song-writing they come across as a second rate Poison. And baring a few tunes, Poison wasn’t exactly anything special at the best of times.

This is a party band that probably sounded great live when you were pissed off your gourd from the keg at the back. Twenty years hence this stuff does not live up to billing. The band were competent enough but the song-writing is second rate and painful at times.

The three extra live tracks give a bit of a hint of what kind of band they were live. I am sure fans of the band will love this retrospective to remind them of all the great times they had back in the day. The rest of us will be bemused as to what all the fuss was about. More a curiosity than anything else, this release is for fans only.

Steve Diggle: Air Conditioning

Veteran member of Buzzcocks Diggle, constantly on tour with that band, has found time to release a solo album. This is “The Revolution of Sound” as he dubs his backing band and he make a decent power trio. Rather than a full on sneering punk album this is more an introspective look back not dissimilar to a certain ex-Rolling Stones latest solo album. The guy has got nothing to prove so has a blast on these 12 tracks (with one acoustic version of a previous song) and it comes across well. “Hey Maria” is particularly great outting of a tender love song. Diggle is certainly in great voice on all these tracks, not showing his age nor his rock & roll lifestyle at all.

On songs like “Rock Revolution Punk” he strays into the territory of his full time band. The acoustic version is an interesting addition to the CD stripping down the song to its base elements. Having chatted to man recently, I found the song “Yeah Man Yeah” amusing as it seems to be one of his favorite phrases.

More often these solo outings contain a whole bunch of songs rejected, mostly for good reason, by solo artists main band. In this case its clear the tracks were written for this release and are fresh glimpses into the mind of Diggle. The variety and quality make it well worth the price of admission.

And on that note it’s time to wrap it up for another week. As always stay safe and rocking whatever you do.

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