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Thursday, November 02, 2006

STRAPPING YOUNG LAD are on an extended hiatus which may last for years!

Jimmy Colt (ex-BLACK CROWES) will be the new bassist in ROCJ STAR SPERNOVA replacing the injured Jason Newstead.

New album Scarsick by Pain of Salvation will be released in January 2007 via Inside Out. A tour is scheduled for February.

Kevin Godley and Graham Gouldman the nucleus of 10CC, are midway through recording a new album for release in 2007. The new material for Godley and Gouldman will be released under the name GG/06.

PRESS RELEASES

What happens with two of today’s most successful classic rockers join forces to create an album of songs that have been a source of inspiration for their respective multi-Platinum careers?

The result is INFLUENCE, the sophomore album by Shaw Blades--led by Styx/Damn Yankees guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw and Night Ranger/Damn Yankees bassist/vocalist Jack Blades--which is set for release February 20, 2007 on VH1 Classic Records. The self-produced album was mixed by Noel Golden (Matchbox Twenty, Willie Nelson) and Great White keyboardist/guitarist Michael Lardie. The first single, “Your Move,” will be serviced to radio in January.

INFLUENCE is the duo’s first album since their recently re-released 1995 debut, HALLUCINATION. Like the debut--and unlike their history-carving decades as icons in the more hard-rock minded Styx, Night Ranger and Damn Yankees--the latest release is rooted in acoustic guitar and organic production, harvesting a decade of musical influences into 11 tracks (on which Blades and Shaw played all the music except for drums and the occasional keyboards). With classics from the ‘60s and ‘70s including the Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’,” Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth” and Steely Dan’s “Dirty Work,” INFLUENCE offers a track-by-track chronology of the musical era that helped define modern rock.

Whether the songs are delivered in faithful tribute, as is the case with Simon & Garfunkel’s epic masterpiece “Sounds Of Silence,” or given a modern rock transfusion, as in the duo’s 1966 folk anthem “I Am A Rock,” the results are the same, sparkling like a beacon illuminating the mainstream roots of rock and roll’s formative years.

“I cringe at the thought of Paul Simon hearing our stuff,” laughs Blades, only half-jokingly. “I honor his spirit so much, and I’m such a huge fan. As far as I’m concerned, they invented the word genius to go along with him, and we just wanted to make sure that we did their songs justice. Tommy and I have that special symbiotic relationship that doesn’t come along a lot. Simon & Garfunkel also had it, we have a reverence to it, and it was something that we just wanted to dig into.”

“As writers, we’re like two old friends who finish each other’s sentences,” adds Shaw. “We became best friends as a result of the music and the experiences we’ve had because of it.”

But INFLUENCE isn’t about the experiences of Shaw Blades, it’s about the inspiration that helped create the experiences. “This album has been years in the making,” continues the Styx/Damn Yankees guitarist. “The recording process didn’t take years, but the concept had been looming in our conversations for a long time. We’d always sit around with a couple of guitars and play songs we both knew from or younger days, spontaneous harmonizing and all that, and we slowly eased into the idea of making this record.”

One of the most prolific duos in the history of hard rock, Shaw and Blades have sold more than 50 million albums amongst their three bands, scored 12 Top 10 singles on the Billboard “Hot 100” chart, debuted 16 albums in the Billboard “Top 200” albums chart, and share joint songwriting credits for the likes of Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Cher and Alice Cooper.

Even so, INFLUENCE offered the pair an invigorating musical freedom. “With Shaw Blades,” offers Blades, “we’re able to take liberties that our respective bands couldn’t do. We need to be Styx-sounding, we need to fit in that Night Ranger world, and we even need to think about Damn Yankees, so that’s what’s fun about Shaw Blades--we get to be our alter-egos when we want to be, yet we can truly be ourselves. We grew up singing harmonies and songs with massive vocals, so it’s a wonderful thing to have that freedom here. This was a complete labor of love.”

In touring news, a U.S. trek is currently in the works and Shaw Blades hope to bring their music to their fans closer to the album release date.

“You can always tell a brilliant song, whether it was written 30 years ago or yesterday,” says Blades. “Every song we picked is identifiable in its own right, and they’re all immediately recognizable. What does that tell you? That the songs are the stars. That’s what we wanted to do on this record, we wanted the songs to be the stars. I think that’s what we accomplished.”

The complete track listing is as follows:
1. Summer Breeze
2. Time Of The Season
3. Your Move
4. I Am A Rock
5. Lucky Man
6. Sounds Of Silence
7. California Dreamin’
8. On A Carousel
9. Dirty Work
10. For What It’s Worth
11. Dance With Me

GIG NEWS

ROGER WATERS
May
7th Manchester Evening News Arena May
8th Birmingham NEC
11th London Earl's Court 11
Waters is to perform two sets each night, one of which will feature the classic Pink Floyd album 'Dark Side Of The Moon' in its entirety.

CHEAP TRICK
Thu 11/09/06 Atlanta, GA Coca Cola Roxy Theatre
Fri 11/10/06 Saint Petersburg, FL Vinoy Waterfront Park
Sat 11/11/06 Orlando, FL WMMO Downtown Concert Series
Wed 11/15/06 Philadelphia, PA Theatre Of Living Arts
Thu 11/16/06 New York, NY Beacon Theatre
Fri 11/17/06 Boston, MA Avalon
Tue 11/28/06 Wellington, NZ TSB Bank Arena
Thu 11/30/06 Auckland, NZ Logan Campbell Center
Sat 12/02/06 Brisbane, AUS River Stage
Mon 12/04/06 Newcastle, AUS Entertainment Centre
Wed 12/06/06 Wollongong, AUS Wollongong Entertainment Centre
Fri 12/08/06 Sydney, AUS Capitol Theatre
Tue 12/12/06 Melbourne, AUS Palais Theatre
Fri 12/15/06 Adelaide, AUS Thebarton Theatre
Sun 12/31/06 Waikoloa Village, HI Hilton Hotel

REVIEWS

STYX & THE CONTEMPORARY YOUTH ORCHESTRA OF CLEVELAND ‘One WITH Everything’ Eagle Rock (2006 DVD) www.eagle-rock.com

Styx teamed-up with this youth orchestra (all players are aged 13 to 19 years old) to produce a memorable night of Styx music, with the emphasis on the classics. Much of the Styx repertoire stands-up well with added orchestral backing and the band allow the younger musicians to be heard above the guitars and drums. A seventeen song set including ‘Lorelli’, ‘One With Everything’, a great version of Lawrence Gowan’s solo tune ‘A Criminal Mind’ and the Styx CYO Medley covers many tunes to great effect. Original bass player John Ponozzo joins the band for ‘Fooling Yourself’, whilst the Beatles ‘I am The Walrus’ takes on a whole new sound with added orchestra. The band are on fine form with drummer Todd Sucherman keeping the solid beat throughout the drums but without drowning out the quieter sections of the orchestra.
Bonus features include band interviews plus the CYO conductor Lisa Grossman along with two new Styx songs with a festive air - ‘All I Want’ and ‘Ring The Bells’. Both tunes are pleasant enough but nothing amazing. Best comment comes from Lawrence Gowan on how festive it seemed on stage even though this concert was recorded back in May this year.
A great DVD for fans of the band and one that is very close to their UK set list form 2005. Great to see so many talented young musicians as well including the choir getting into the mood doing Dio approved devil’s horns!

****1/2
Jason Ritchie

GEORGE HARRISON ‘Living In The Material World’ Apple (2006) www.georgeharrison.com

This album was originally released in 1973 and now gets a lovingly packaged re-release with input from George Harrison’s wife. There are two bonus tracks along with a separate DVD that includes outtakes and a live recording from 1991 in Japan. There is a stellar cast of musicians including Nicky Hopkins, Ringo Starr, Gary Wright and two latter day Travelling Wilbury backing musicians Jim Horn and Jim Keltner (Ry Cooder). The lyrics are often a celebration of all things spiritual but they are uplifting and positive as Harrison was never one to pen dark tunes. There is a big hint of Dylan on these tunes as Bob Dylan was one of Harrison’s musical heroes – just listen to the bonus track ‘Deep Blue’ and ‘Be Here Now’, whilst ‘Miss O’Dell’ the other bonus track shows the fun side of Harrison as the band keep cracking up with laughter during the song.
With its expanded sleeve notes and lavish packaging this is how a re-release should be done.

****
Jason Ritchie

VARIOUS ‘Where Blues Meets Rock Vol. VII’ Provogue Records (2006)

This budget priced series is an ideal way to sample the delights of Provogue’s artists and hopefully entice you to discover more on the artists you like. Pick of the bunch for me are the hard driving ‘Back To Your Cages’ by Michael Katon (ideal for those after metal meets blues), Eric Gales ‘Retribution’ (again the heavier end of blues with some nifty guitar solos) and Stoney Curtis Band’s ‘Crashin’ Down Like Thunder’. The latter has been gaining rave reviews not only for the live shows but the album as well. Classic blues rock gets served-up by Michael Landau (he’s played on many albums as a session musician) and Leslie West’s ‘Blues Before Sunrise’.
There is bound to be something to catch your ear on here whether you like it loud or more laid back with longer soloing.

***1/2
Jason Ritchie

EUROPE ‘Secret Society’ Sanctuary (2006) www.europetheband.com

Europe are back with their follow-up to ‘Start From The Dark’ which gained mixed reviews due to its heavier, darker nature and some fans of the band’s 80’s output were less than impressed. This album carries on from where ‘Start…’ left off with big guitar riffs and very few keyboards in the mix.
Strangely the opener, the title track, is one of the weakest tracks and the instantly catchy ‘The Getaway Plan’ or ‘Human After All’ (Europe do Audioslave!) may have been better openers. The latter is one of the few tracks where Mic Michaeli’s keys get a quick flash of the limelight. You have to give the album a fair few listens as it is a grower and not an instant hit. For that lighter-in-the-air moment ‘A Mother’s Son’ hits the spot and is the only big ballad on here. Only ‘Forever Travelling’ has you hitting the skip button – very poor by this band’s high standards.
A natural successor to their last album and the band are obviously comfortable with their sound, although like any band with a long history fans of their earlier work may again be disappointed. Hard edged melodic rock and streets ahead of contemporary bands like Audioslave and Alter Bridge, whose fans should check this album out. A good, solid album but not a classic.

***1/2
Jason Ritchie

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