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Music Reviews: Yes, Thin Lizzy, Tommy Bones, Nico’s Alchemy & Zac Brown Band

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Well events have run their course in my household and my father has passed away. My columns have been a bit chaotic of late as a result of helping to take care of him in his final days. He died at home with his family as he wished.

That is not to say I didn’t use every opportunity to listen to some cracking tunes. Varied as they could be, but all satisfying in one way or the other.

CD reviews

Yes: Symphonic Live

Yes, its yet another live album from Yes, but frustratingly not one that its possible to dismiss out of hand for any reason. There are bits of it that are a tad self-indulgent like a tedious drum solo and Steve Howe — genius though he is with a guitar — does go on a bit with his solo performance. However, you would be hard-pressed to consider this anything but a masterpiece of epic prog at its most formidable.

As you might have guessed from the name of the CD, this was recorded with a symphony orchestra. While with some bands recordings it seems a bit tacked on and superfluous, with Yes it merely provides an additional layer to their already complex orchestration. In short Yes fans will love this double CD and wax poetic about it.

Quite cleverly, this is not just a collection of their most complex pieces played in their entirety for throngs of fans. There are a few hits including one from the diehard loathed “Rabin” era in the form of “Owner of a Lonely Heart.” Needless to say, there is a cracking version of “Roundabout” on here as well as “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Starship Trooper.” I have to admit to enjoying the second CD a tad more than the first one, for regular listening.

If you are a hard-core Yes fan I will assume you had this on pre-order. For the rest of us you could do far worse for an example of Yes at their very best.

Thin Lizzy: Still Dangerous

You can be reasonably certain that this release just might cause some arguments down the pub between fans of the venerable classic Irish rock band, who are so beloved and influential. Since its release Thin Lizzy’s Live & Dangerous has been not only considered the best live Lizzy album ever released, but one of the best live rock recordings ever ranking up there with Cheap Trick’s Live at Budakon, Kiss Alive II and Motorhead’s No Sleep til Hammersmith.

Up until now every Lizzy live album has paled in comparison to the original classic. For this reviewer, this long lost live recording recorded in Philly on 1977 trounces Live & Dangerous in intensity and genuine feeling. There is no sneaking suspicion of over-dubbing and the band is in amazing form. Ten tracks of Thin Lizzy at their very best with all the greats like “Boys Are Back In Town,” “Jailbreak,” and the killer finale of “Me and the Boys.”

Its less of a case of “still” dangerous and more of a case of as dangerous as it can ever get. The first “must own” CD of this very young year, maybe even an instant classic. I find it hard to believe that you will hear a better live CD this year.

Tommy Bones: EP

Never heard of this bunch but on the strength of this release I probably should have by now. This is Texas swamp boogie as played by Motorhead. Think of ZZ Top if they drank Jaeger and did speed instead of bottled beer and tequila. Its no wonder Texans are excited about this lot. So much more interesting than the stuff doing the rounds and getting kudos in LA. Its head down sleazy heavy boogie done with some serious attitude.

Take a listen to the heaviness of “Murderous Rage” if you want proof. There is even a whiff of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal attitude on here. “My Hate” even has that epic feel not unlike Iron Maiden in their earliest incarnation. Menace and aggression with a skill and nuance.

Tommy might mention newer bands in his bio, but this is pure classic heavy metal with a touch of Texas for good measure. If you are into finding great bands before everyone gets wind of them, then check this lot out. Think Pantera at their best then up the quality and that is what you get with this lot. About time a Texas band emerged to kick our arses all over again.

Nico’s Alchemy: Fundamental Alchemy

Very much the centerpiece of this band is Nico Tamburela. That is in fact the major problem with it to be honest. They are a great band and can play well, but really lack songs. They seem to be a vehicle for the guitarists playing with little attention paid to actually mustering a decent tune. There a couple of songs that do raise themselves above the parapet like “Shine On” but then they follow it with the bloody awful “A Leap in Space” with its hip-hop manufactured beats that grinds the whole thing to a halt. The final track “Miles Away” is a good track whose potential has been wasted with a weak delivery.

A feeling I got from this is a serious fascination with Yngwie Malmsteen with all the foibles to go along with that. Rather than a band album its merely a vehicle for Nico’s guitar work, which while great, seems to be a bit over the top for the music on here. The band have great potential that is for sure, and are probably awesome live. On CD they fail to raise themselves above the competent, but uninspiring bluesy pub rock crowd. I really wanted to like this CD, but the songs really don’t cut it and that is a shame.

Zac Brown Band: The Foundation

Another one of those new country bands which make you ask “how the hell is this country?” Then again you are just glad someone had the brains to give this lot a deal to get their music out. This is great reggae tinged rock with a southern fried flavor. There is not one dud on this entire album. And more importantly the band has their tongue firmly planted in cheek rather than the po-face shite that some people consider music. Who said rednecks can’t do reggae?

It you think that Jimmy Buffet is just a tad too tame for your tastes but need a soundtrack for your next holiday in the sun then you need to seek this lot out. In fact you could do far worse than have this in your CD player this summer. One does have to wonder about their obsession with Chicken, with two songs, the awesome “Chicken Fried” a great sing-along romp, as well as the hilarious “Sic ‘Em On a Chicken.”

If you want to be mellow but hold onto a bit of your cred then you could do far worse than this bunch. You know they can rock like Skynyrd or Hatchet but this time they are just going for the laid back vibe. Move over Parrot-heads, us hairy rockers have got our sun-drenched tunage now.

Well on that tequila beer-soaked note its time for me to away. Have a good and safe rocking week, hug the ones you love and hit the live music scene.

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About Marty Dodge