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Music Reviews: White Lion, Moody Blues, Hardline, OSI, Joe Lynn Turner

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After the progressively heavy bunch of last week, we have another selection of rock that is a bit more varied. The CD pile is in fact shrinking at bit, but that is because more and more companies are reverting to online downloads to cut costs. Significant others and those with small dwellings who review thank them for embracing technology.

DVD review

White Lion: Bang Your Head 2005

Mike Tramp has turned White Lion into something akin to Whitesnake. I mean insomuch as its him with a bunch of competent hired guns. While Whitesnake was always Coverdale’s band, the jury is still out on whose band White Lion is/was. Cleverly Mike Tramp addresses this thorny issue on the DVD. He clearly states the fans want the songs to be played by a version of White Lion.

Now with that settled, onto the DVD. Thankfully Tramp & Co chose not include their bloody awful hit “When the Children Cry” in the set included on here. Made it all the more enjoyable to listen to the rather tight band go through all the White Lion classics in front a rather keen crowd. The stand-out track is their break-out hit “Wait” with the band adding some great harmonies. The set ends with a decent cover version of Golden Earring’s “Radar Love.”

DVD extras include a complete interview (bits of which show up in between the songs in the main part of the DVD) and an extra track with scenes for touring in the US.

A decent DVD from a band that, whether you call it White Lion or not, is in fine form in front of an appreciative crowd.

The Moody Blues: Threshold of a Dream

The DVD is subtitled “Live at the Isle of Wight Festival” and that is mostly true. Like many of these sort of DVDs they have more recent interviews with the band members that are still living who where there. In this DVD’s case these interviews were done for quite a legitimate reason as there is not video for all the performances (even though there is audio).

Like a lot of music concerts from the 60s there is a certain element of “have to be there” about it as the band were obviously off their heads (the flute player looks like he has tourettes/in the middle of the a seizure most of the time) and so were the audience. This was filmed at the famous Isle of Wight festival off the coast of England. They held a festival and half a million showed up. The hippies loved it and the locals still curse its name.

Those who know Moody Blues music will be most pleased by tracks like “Night in White Satin,” “Question,” and “Legend of A Mind (Timothy Leary’s Dead)”. But be warned the audio on this, for obvious reasons, isn’t the best one can get from 40 year old recordings. It was a pleasant enough way to spend 70+ minutes of time, but I’m not sure the limited amount of extras will please the normal DVD fan. Think this might be one for hard-core fans of the band only.

CD reviews

OSI: Blood

Kevin Moore and Jim Matheos playing with Porcupine Tree’s drummer on board, along with a touch of Opeth’s Mikael Akerfeldt on a couple of tracks make for a cool combination. You would be shocked if this were awful or even just good, and you would be right. The third OSI album takes their previous outings and really ups the antee to take them to progressive metal over-achievers.

It’s a bit of a mixture of ambient rock mixed with heavy progressive music that is an aural delight. “Radiologue” for instance is quite simply a stunning example of the genre. Its epic soundscapes evoke a mood reminiscent of Pink Floyd and, of course, Opeth. There is something quite over the top and pretentious about this release, but they get the combination just right. Its obvious they know this release will only be truly appreciated by a certain type of prog-metal fan. Fortunately I am one such person.

If you want to expand your mind with some truly epic progressive metal/rock/ambient music then seek this out post haste. It certainly has the potential to be up there in top albums of the year. I rather doubt you will hear anything this jaw droppingly impressive. I enjoyed every minute of it and suspect you will too.

Hardline: Leaving the End Open

I was one of those who was very impressed with this band’s debut that featured Neal Schon and Dean Castronovo. Schon and Castronovo were recent escapes from Bad English and they made Hardline sound a wee bit like that band. Whatever it sounded like, their debut was one of hell of a hard rock album. They then followed it up many years later with the less spectacular II, a sophomore effort that failed to live up to expectations which were inevitably high.

Now that they have rid themselves of the dreaded sophomore slump, via a live album recorded at the GODs in 2002, they have moved on with their career. Now with only Johnny Giolli on vocals from the original line-up and Josh Ramos from the second album they have set out to create out the quality album that is expected of them. The title track is one such quality example.

When listening to this you realize why II didn’t really cut it…decent album though it was. This one is full of hooks and just damn good hard rock. This is clearly how melodic hard rock is supposed to sound with big vocals, catchy hooks and flowing choruses. It would be very surprising if you hear anything this good in the genre this year. The music sounds free and new — nothing dated on here — but there is a clear link to their glorious past. Quality abounds and it’s a pleasure to listen to start to finish. Hardline are back firing on all cylinders.

Sunstorm: House of Dreams

Basically Joe Lynn Turner and whomever he can find to lend a hand, this is quality AOR from a veteran journeyman vocalist. As with the recent Jimi Jamison release Jim “songwriter extraordinaire” Peterik is along to lend a hand with whatever is needed. With Jim on board you know there are not going to be any stinkers ruining the vibe. Each songs uses JLT’s voice to its greatest capability.

Its not just Peterik lending his songwriting talents on here but Russ Ballard, Desmond Child and even Paul Sabu. Sunstorm provides JLT an opportunity to release some archive material than many might never have heard including the awesome “I found Love,” “Forever Now,” “Save a Place in My Heart,” and “Walk On” which he co-wrote for Jimmy Barnes. The Turner brothers of House of Lords fame helped write the rest of the tracks. JLT is backed by a tight band whole make the songs truly live.

The songs on here have hints of all the bands that JLT has leant his pipes too. They also speak to the pool of talent that JLT can call one when he wants to produce something special. If you want an AOR/melodic rock songwriting master class this might be a good place to start.

Well that is your selection for this week. Hope you enjoyed the reading as much as I did the listening. Head out and check out some live music if you can. Stay safe and see you next week.

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About Marty Dodge

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Thanks for the heads up on the new OSI. It sounds awesome & I’m glad they went back in a atmospheric metal direction. They really know how to progress with their own sound. Their first release is still a great spin,but, Free was a little to safe for me.
    It’s a bit unfortunate that this album has me more interested than the new Dream Theater.