Reckless Love – Spirit
2013, Spinefarm Records/Universal Music
Buy the album
1. Night On Fire
2. Bad Lovin’
3. I Love Heavy Metal
4. Favorite Flavor
5. Edge Of Our Dreams
6. Sex, Drugs & Reckless Love
7. Dying To Live
8. Metal Ass
9. Runaway Love
10. So Happy I Could Die
11. Hot Rain
Olli Herman – Lead Vocals
Pepe Salohalme – Guitar
Jalle Verne – Bass
Hessu Maxx – Drums
Producer: Ilkka Wirtanen
Reckless Love is one of the better bands from the current crop of the glam/pop metal scene. For the record, they refer to themselves as “merry metal”. Spirit continues to prove the band’s worth as they continue to offer up their own blend of ’80s glam, heavy metal and danceable pop tunes. Unfortunately, it took me awhile before I could listen to this album. It was released in the summer of 2013 but the CD has only been available in the United States as an import and it isn’t being offered digitally in the States either.
Reckless Love’s last album, Animal Attraction, saw the band going in an even poppier direction but Spirit features a few more bare-knuckle rockers. “Bad Lovin”” is a sleaze rocker, “I Love Heavy Metal” is an ode to all kinds of ’80s hair metal hits and bands and “Metal Ass” is the heaviest song the band has recorded yet. Maybe opening for Black Veil Brides inspired these guys to get a little dirty.
That’s not to say the band has adopted a completely heavier style. “Night On Fire” is a great example of what the band is all about — big pop hooks, guitars, huge gang vocals and a beat you can dance to. Fans of the band’s first two albums will not be disappointed by Spirit.
Highlights: “Night on Fire”, “Bad Lovin'”, “Edge of Our Dreams”, “Sex, Drugs and Reckless Love”, “Runaway Love”, “So Happy I Could Die”, “Hot Rain”
Richie Sambora – Aftermath of the Lowdown
(2012, Aggressive Music/Dangerbird Records)
1. Burn That Candle Down
2. Every Road Leads Home to You
3. Taking a Chance On the Wind
5. Weathering the Storm
6. Sugar Daddy
7. I’ll Always Walk Beside You
8. Seven Years Gone
9. Learning How to Fly With a Broken Wing
10. You Can Only Get So High
Richie Sambora – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Rusty Anderson – Guitar
Curt Schneider – Bass
Aaron Sterling – Drums
Luke Ebbin – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. – Keyboards
Matt Rollings – Organ, Piano
Producer: Richie Sambora & Luke Ebbin
Richie’s third solo effort but 14 years since the previous release, Richie Sambora has seen fit unleashed Aftermath of the Lowdown on the world. Probably an outlet for songs he knows Jon would never allow on a Bon Jovi album though there are a few tracks here I could see making it like the lead single “Every Road Leads Home to You”, “Learning to Fly with a Broken Wing” and the ballad “Seven Years Gone”.
The album is kind of all over the place in terms of style. “Burn That Candle Down” has a 1970s Hendrix/Deep Purple vibe to it, “Every Road Leads Home to You” is pure Bon Jovi (you can definitely hear Jon singing this one), “Taking a Chance on the Wind” is rock ‘n’ roll with some soul behind it, “Nowadays” is somewhat punky & poppy, “I’ll Always Walk Beside You” sounds like Coldplay, “World” sounds like Bowie, etc.
“Weathering the Storm” is another song that sounds similar to modern Bon Jovi. Richie even seems like he’s trying to sound like Jon so I’m assuming maybe this was written with Bon Jovi in mind. It was co-written with Bernie Taupin though, who is a long-time collaborator with Elton John.
Don’t get me wrong though, I like Jon Bon Jovi’s voice but Richie is a better singer. “Every Road Leads Home to You” and “Seven Years Gone” wouldn’t be nearly as good without Richie’s powerful, emotional soulful performances.
Even if the sounds may have been inspired by other acts, some of these songs just have to be autobiographical lyrically such as “You Can Only Get So High” and maybe even the album title itself. Richie had some alcohol issues in recent years so other than recording songs that may have not been recorded anywhere else, I’m sure this album was very cathartic for him in dealing with his alcoholism and relationship troubles.
It’s a good album and while there are some similarities to Bon Jovi with a couple of songs, there’s enough variety here and true bluesy emotion coming through Richie so that the album doesn’t come off like a bunch of unreleased Bon Jovi tracks.
Highlights: “Burn That Candle Down”, “Every Road Leads Home to You”, “I’ll Always Walk Beside You”, “Seven Years Gone”, “You Can Only Get So High”, “World”
I reviewed the single last month, now check out the awesome video for it!
The Last Vegas – The Other Side E.P. (2011, Electric City Entertainment)
1. “It Ain’t Easy” … 4:08
2. “Other Side” … 3:05
3. “Evil Eyes” … 4:16
Chad Cherry – Vocals
Adam Arling – Guitar
Johnny Wator – Guitar
Danny Smash – Bass
Nathan Arling – Drums
Producer: Johnny K
In preparation for The Other Side, a full-length album coming in early 2012, The Last Vegas have released The Other Side E.P., which is free to download from thelastvegas.com.
If you’re familiar with The Last Vegas and like them then this E.P. is for you. All three songs still have that garage meets glam meets sleaze sound The Last Vegas have always had. There’s nothing here with the urgency of “I’m Bad” (“Other Side” is the single) but I like all three songs so I’m positive once The Other Side LP is released it will be another solid album from these Chicago rockers. I’m still waiting for a Last Vegas album to really knock my socks off but in the meantime their albums have been FUN and that’s what really counts, right? I’ll bet they’re a great live band.
For those of you that want/need a little something more than just 3 MP3 files, you can head on over to CMDistro.com and order yourself the E.P. bundle which includes: the E.P. on CD, a t-shirt & poster all for $20. Cool deal and it’s pretty cool of the band to put out this EP for free in digital format too. Hopefully it’ll build a buzz for the band before the proper album comes out because they really are a good band and deserve the recognition.
Unfortunately, it appears the guys are no longer on the Eleven Seven label (home of Motley Crue, Sixx:AM, Buckcherry and Papa Roach). Which is sad because I was hoping label president Nikki Sixx would continue to flex his muscles to get these guys on some good tours and it’s to my understanding that the “I’m Bad” single did very well on iTunes. I think Eleven Seven dropped the ball on this one.
At least they have a successful producer working with them on this new album. Johnny K most recently produced Megadeth’s Thirteen but has also produced for Disturbed, Staind, 3 Doors Down, Black Tide, Sevendust and Bad City’s excellent Welcome to the Wasteland.
So there ya go. New music from The Last Vegas — check it out for free or spend $20 to get some cool merch as well.
Reckless Love – Animal Attraction (2011, Universal Music/Spinefarm Records UK)
1. “Animal Attraction”
3. “Born To Break Your Heart”
6. “Dirty Dreams”
9. “Switchblade Babe”
10. “On The Radio
Olli Herman – Vocals
Pepe – Guitar
Jalle Verne – Bass
Hessu Maxx – Drums
Producer: Ilkka Wirtanen
Reckless Love came out of nowhere last year and delivered one of my favorite albums for 2010 so I was pretty enthusiastic when I heard a new album was coming in 2011. Fans of the band’s self-titled debut will not be disappointed with Animal Attraction.
Olli & the boys have given the world another great collection of slick ‘n’ polished glam & pop-metal. Whether it’s the sleazy “Animal Attraction”, the anthemic “Hot” & “On The Radio”, the Euro-pop of “Dirty Dreams”, the hard pop groove of “Dance” (seriously, this could be a club hit in the U.S.), the hard rockin’ “Fight” or the somewhat quirky “Coconuts” (channeling Diamond Dave?) Reckless Love have proven themselves as kings of modern glam metal.
This album is just so darn catchy that I think I would rank it slightly above the debut (the album cover & new logo are certainly an improvement) but the guys really haven’t changed their style a bit. Anyone who likes the melodic hard rock/pop acts of the ’80s (Danger Danger, Def Leppard, David Lee Roth, Bon Jovi, KISS, etc.) is going to dig Animal Attraction.
These guys are a hit in their native Finland. Too bad albums such as this one go unnoticed here in America. Someone like Def Leppard or Poison or KISS needs to step up and take them out on the road next summer.
Highlights: “Animal Attraction”, “Speedin'”, “Hot”, “Fantasy”, “Dirty Dreams”, “Dance”
Black Veil Brides – Set The World On Fire (2011, Universal Republic Records/Lava Records)
1. “New Religion” … 3:50
2. “Set the World on Fire” … 3:39
3. “Fallen Angels” … 3:45
4. “Love Isn’t Always Fair” … 4:13
5. “God Bless You” … 3:18
6. “Rebel Love Song” … 3:57
7. “Saviour” … 4:23
8. “The Legacy” … 4:40
9. “Die for You” … 3:43
10. “Ritual” … 3:30
11. “Youth & Whisky” … 3:30
Andy Biersack – Vocals
Jake Pitts – Guitar
Jinxx – Guitar, Violin
Ashley Purdy – Bass
Christian Coma – Drums
Producer: Josh Abraham & Christopher Walken
Hollywood, CA’s Black Veil Brides are among the current crop of Hot Topic darlings and while there are a few screamo moments on this disc, the band has much more in common with ’80s metal than some might realize. The cool thing is the band doesn’t try to hide their influences. They cite Motley Crue & KISS as big influences (which is obvious based on image alone) but have also stated Def Leppard’s Hysteria was the inspiration for the recording & production process of this album.
Surprisingly, BVB is made up of some good talent. Pitts & Jinxx are a very good guitar duo and have no problem playing fast & furious while firing off solos. Vocalist Andy Biersack can growl and scream with the best (worst) of the current trendy metal crowd but the guy can actually sing too and that’s when this album is at its best. Thankfully, the screaming is kept to a minimum on Set The World On Fire and the band doesn’t come across as the cliched angry, disenfranchised or depressed youths like so many other bands from the metalcore movement.
With elements of glam metal, speed metal, power metal & metalcore, the Brides bring what I would call extreme glam metal to the masses. Their look and sound is heavy and unique enough to interest the wrist-cutters but there’s enough of an ’80s metal influence (featuring catchy choruses and slick production values and even a power ballad thrown in) to grab the ear of those that are fans of the Age of Aqua Net.
By the way, my copy of the album came with a mini fold-out poster of Jake Pitts. How cute.
Highlights: “Set the World on Fire”, “Love Isn’t Always Fair”, “God Bless You”, “Saviour”, “The Legacy”, “Ritual”
Def Leppard – X (2002, Island Records)
1. “Now” … 3:58
2. “Unbelievable” … 3:58
3. “You’re So Beautiful” … 3:31
4. “Everyday” … 3:08
5. “Long Long Way To Go” … 4:38
6. “Four Letter Word” … 3:07
7. “Torn to Shreds” … 2:56
8. “Love Don’t Lie” … 4:46
9. “Gravity” … 2:33
10. “Cry” … 3:17
11. “Girl Like You” … 2:49
12. “Let Me Be the One” … 3:29
13. “Scar” … 4:59
Joe Elliott – lead vocals
Rick “Sav” Savage – bass guitar, vocals
Rick Allen – drums
Vivian Campbell – guitar, vocals
Phil Collen – guitar, vocals
Producer: Pete Woodroffe & Def Leppard
It’s been a long time coming but I finally sat down and gave this album another spin. I bought it as soon as it came out and probably gave it 4 or 5 spins before deciding it was a disappointing follow-up to Euphoria. 9 years later, I’m listening to it again. I would’ve actually checked it out (again) a few years earlier but I lost my copy and finally snagged another copy a year or two ago.
Euphoria was no slouch of an album. It’s their most recent album to go gold, “Promises” was a minor radio hit, the album was hailed as a return to form by fans & critics alike after the alternative leanings of Slang and the band was all over VH1 at the time enjoying the renewed popularity that many “eighties bands” were experiencing.
So why, then, did the band go in yet another direction by turning in their poppiest, softest-rocking album to date? Well, I guess the lure of the almighty dollar was just too much. Sure, they sold 500,000 copies of the last album but what about going double platinum like Bon Jovi did?
Obviously inspired by the success of Bon Jovi’s Crush and “It’s My Life”, Def Leppard recruited some of the very same songwriters that the boys from Jersey had partnered with on that 2000 release. Names like Max Martin, Andreas Carlsson and Wayne Hector were all over the place in the late ’90s/early ’00s as they wrote hits for a number of boy bands like Backstreet Boys and pop tarts like Britney Spears. The band was obviously content to just let the “hits” come to them as not a single member had a hand in writing “Unbelievable” or “Long Long Way to Go”!
It blew my mind at the time that Def Leppard was able to recover from the cold response for Slang by handing in Euphoria (one of their best albums, IMO) and then do another turnaround with X. I actually lost a bit of respect for the band at the time because it was such an obvious cash grab and phony attempt at staying relevant.
Nine years on, my judgment isn’t as clouded and I can look back and say there are a number of good tracks on this album despite a few tracks where the band tries to play the role of a boy band. Funny thing is, the songs I ended up liking most are on the first half of the album — the half that features lots of outside co-writing credits! Tracks 6-13 were all written by the band with only producer Pete Woodroffe stepping in to co-write a few songs.
The one song I instantly loved off this album was “Now”. To me, that is a classic Def Leppard sounding song and actually does sound like something to follow-up Euphoria with. “Scar” is another very good guitar-oriented song that rocks a bit harder than the rest and sounds close to something they might’ve done in the ’80s.
The album is full of mid-tempo numbers and ballads. It’s a complete pop album but I have a lot more respect for it now. It’s not a classic but it’s not bad at all and I upgrade it to “decent” and remove it’s previous status of “bland”. Maybe I’m going soft.
Highlights: “Now”, “Unbelievable”, “You’re So Beautiful”, “Everyday”, “Love Don’t Lie”, “Cry”, “Scar”
Vamp Le Stat – Bloodline [Limited Edition] (2010, XXX Records America)
Original Release: 1993
1. “Madame Blue”
2. “Swing Child”
4. “She’s Not In Love Anymore”
5. “Guns 4 Hire”
6. “Chain Around My Heart”
7. “Madame Blue” [Studio reference mix]
8. “Swing Child” [Studio reference mix]
9. “She’s Not In Love Anymore” [Studio reference mix]
10. “Guns 4 Hire” [Studio reference mix]
11. “Chain Around My Heart” [Studio reference mix]
Jimmy Tuttle – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Jeff Jones – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Brian Boozer – Bass, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Bret Blackburn – Drums
Producer: Jeff Jones
Vamp Le Stat is a L.A. glam band that got their start in the early ’90s. In 1992, Jeff Jones (you can read my review of his RockHard ’86-’96 compilation here) joined the band and that is when they recorded and released the extremely limited pressing of 2,000 copies for Bloodline. According to XXX’s website, the full title of this album is Bloodline: Rites of Passage but I don’t see the subtitle anywhere on the CD or the packaging. Apparently, there is a loose concept to this album as it deals with a vampire stripper named Suzie. The story continued in 1994’s Bloodline 2: Thrill Of the Kill which I have not heard yet and was just finally released to the public in 2010.
Although Jimmy Tuttle is not the best vocalist his voice suits the sound of the band. Speaking of that sound, I don’t want anyone thinking they are a slick glam act like Poison or anything. There’s a bit more street cred to their sound. Vamp Le Stat comes across as a really solid rock band you might expect to hear playing in a bar or strip club. It’s a trashy bluesy glam sound, something a bit more raw than the popular commercial glam acts of the day and the only band that comes to mind for comparison is Babylon A.D.
All of the studio mixes are bonus tracks and were not a part of the original issue. I don’t have the best trained ear when it comes to telling the difference between certain mixes and with remastered albums There are some differences I’ve been able to pick up and have found myself enjoying the studio mix of “Swing Child” better than the original version. Still, it’s always nice to have some additional tracks whenever possible.
Cutting the album down to its core, there are six songs here. 5 of which stick out in their own way (“Guns 4 Hire” is a fast paced rocker but doesn’t really work for me). “Madame Blue” starts off with a bit of atmosphere and keyboards setting up the album’s concept before the guitars kick in and set forth with a trashed up bar band stomp. “Swing Child” is another good bar room rocker. “Bitch” is the song with the most groove and how can you not want to sing along to “baby, you’re a biiiiiiiiitch”? Next up is the ballad “She’s Not In Love Anymore”. It’s a good ballad but this is where Tuttle seems to suffer a bit on the vocals. I just don’t think ballads are his strong suit, he’s better off singing trashy rockers. “Guns 4 Hire” features some impressive guitar work from Jeff Jones but as a song it’s just kinda there. “Chain Around My Heart” closes out the original album is again starts off with some atmospheric keyboard work and transitions well into a dirty rocker.
Hardcore glam fans will dig checking out this obscure release.
Highlights: “Madame Blue”, “Bitch”, “She’s Not In Love Anymore”, “Chain Around My Heart”, “Swing Child” [studio reference mix]
Jeff Jones – RockHard ’86-’96 (2010, XXX Records America)
1. “Gonna Get Wild”
2. “Madame Blue”
3. “Mississippi Wine”
4. “Caught In the Heartbreak”
5. “Don’t Drop It”
7. “Hot n’ Love”
9. “Into The Night”
10. “Warning From The Sky”
11. “Chain Around My Heart”
12. “No Way Out”
13. “Breakin’ Out” [EMI demo version]
Jeff Jones is a songwriter/guitarist/producer that has been in a number bands over the years. He was a founding member of St. Elmo’s Fire (formed in 1978 in California) and played in the glam band Vamp Le Stat in the early ’90s. He also has worked a solo artist and has started up XXX Records America in order to reissue his previous works and to release new material as well. This album is a compilation that spotlights his work in St. Elmo’s Fire, Vamp Le Stat and solo material.
I’ll be honest with you, I am not familiar with Jeff Jones, St. Elmo’s Fire or Vamp Le Stat. In fact, I’d never heard of any of them so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I popped this disc in. I really didn’t know where this guy got off issuing a compilation when I’d never heard of him! Truth be told, I’m happy to have this disc in my collection. This is an album that takes you back to the glory days of the Sunset Strip! The album is chock full of enough glam and hair to make you wonder just why none of these bands caught a major break. I could understand Vamp Le Stat not making it in the early ’90s but it is the St. Elmo’s Fire material is strong enough that it should’ve built up a buzz for the band in the ’80s.
Hair metal junkies will definitely get their fix on this one. This isn’t polished pop-metal, it’s no frills hair METAL. RockHard is a good collection of raw Sunset Stripped rock ‘n’ roll and I’m interested in hearing the rest of XXX’s reissues. So yes, Jeff Jones has some nerve… and I’m glad he does!
Highlights: “Gonna Get Wild”, “Madame Blue”, “Caught In The Heartbreak”, “Powerdrive”, “Hot n’ Love”, “Bitch”, “Chain Around My Heart”
Whitesnake – Live At Donington 1990 (2011, Frontiers Records)
1. Slip Of The Tongue … 6:52
2. Slide It In … 5:03
3. Judgement Day … 5:56
4. Slow An’ Easy … 8:12
5. Kitten’s Got Claws … 4:58
6. Adagio For Strato … 3:08
7. Flying Dutchman Boogie … 4:02
8. Is This Love … 4:4
9. Cheap An’ Nasty … 4:31
10. Crying In The Rain … 13:28
1. Fool For Your Loving … 6:02
2. For The Love Of God … 5:24
3. The Audience Is Listening … 3:02
4. Here I Go Again … 5:43
5. Bad Boys … 6:17
6. Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City … 8:26
7. Still Of The Night … 8:00
David Coverdale – Vocals
Steve Vai – Guitar
Adrian Vandenberg – Guitar
Rudy Sarzo – Bass
Tommy Aldridge – Drums
Hot on the heels of the excellent Forevermore is the release of live album that was recorded at the 1990 Monsters of Rock at Castle Donington (a show that included Aerosmith, Poison, the Quireboys and Thunder). At that time, Whitesnake was still touring in promotion of Slip of the Tongue. There are no less than six tracks from that album played here and while that album is generally regarded as a misstep in the band’s catalog (though I think opinions have begun to mellow), the material seems to go over fairly well with this crowd.
I somewhat find it odd that Coverdale would choose to release this album right after a brand new studio album is released, especially considering he’s the only guy that appears on both albums. I also didn’t realize this show even existed and that there was any demand for it but apparently Whitesnake fans have been clamoring for an official release of this show for quite some time. That’s another thing I thought to be weird — a Slip of the Tongue-era live album? All of these guys are great musicians but that album was so polished I wasn’t sure how the band would come across live.
Sarzo, Vandenberg and Aldridge I have no problem with but Steve Vai? He’s never really seemed like a true ‘snake or a good fit to me and I’m not huge fan of his solo work so I thought maybe this concert would be a bit too flashy and technical, taking away the soul of the band. Happy to say that isn’t the case for the most part. Vai does get to show off with “For the Love of God” and “The Audience Is Listening” from his 1990 solo album Passion and Warfare and I have to say both songs stick out like a sore thumb in this set list despite the crowd’s appreciation for it. I much more prefer Vandenberg’s solo moments on “Adagio for Strato” and “Flying Dutchman Boogie”.
On the whole, this is a much more powerful sounding live performance than I was expecting. Though I never disliked the album, I’m appreciating the Slip of the Tongue songs on this disc a lot more after hearing live incarnations of them. The crowd is absolutely rabid (Whitesnake were the headliners) and they eat up an oldie like “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City” (which was done surprisingly well) just as much as they do “Slip of the Tongue” or “Crying In The Rain”. And of course I have to point out yet again Coverdale’s vocals. The guy is flat out amazing. As powerful as he STILL sounds to this day, he’s even more powerful during this show. A true rock legend and one of rock’s better vocalists of all time.
Though I don’t think this album tops the classic Live… In the Heart of the City from 1980 or Live: In the Shadow of the Blues from 2006, this album stands as a great document of how good the pop-metal era of the band could be and perhaps shows that time frame deserves much more credit than it is given. If you’re a fan of the self-titled/1987 album and Slip of the Tongue, this is well worth picking up.
Highlights: “Slip Of The Tongue”, “Judgement Day”, “Slow An’ Easy”, “Cheap An’ Nasty”, “Crying In The Rain”, “Bad Boys”, “Ain’t No Love in the Heart of the City”, “Still of the Night”