Reviews March/01

Asia / Aura / CDREC 501


Asia - Aura Tracklisting:Awake; Wherever you are; Ready to come Home; The last Time; Forgive me; Kings of the Day; On the coldest Day in Hell; Free; You're the Stranger; The longest Night; Aura.

I don't know, But I have always had a soft spot for classic pomp-rock bands like King Crimsom, Saga, Yes and Asia.
Since their debut in 1981 only original member these days is keyboard maestro Geoff Downes. On "Aura" he had once again joined forces with long time member bassist/vocalist John Payne, who had been in Asia since "Aqua" in 1991. But this time around former drummer in AC/DC, Manfred Mann and The Firm Chris Slade has been introduced as a permanent member of Asia.
As always a lot of guest stars on guitars and drums are featured on the album - on guitars it is Steve Howe, Elliot Randall, Pat Thrall, Ian Chrichton and Guthrie Govan. On bass it is Tony Levin and on drums Vinnie Calaiuta, Simon Phillips, Michael Sturgis and now Chris Slade as a full member.
The album is well produced by Simon Hanhart - and he has managed to create the exact same sound as always - and that is my point on this one - it is as grand, pompous and melodic as always. The making of this album took 4 years, but it was worth the wait, because of Asia's great flair for a good song.
My favorite tracks are "Free" with the energetic guitar trio featuring Howe, Crichton and Thrall and master drummer Phillips and the melodic salsa-like tune "You're the Stranger".
If you are familiar with Asia's previous work you will not be surprised - but I kindda like when things don't change, and the song are as fresh and relevante as always!! Besides - this album once again presents a cover artwork by the master: Roger Dean!

WASP / Unholy Terror / MISCD 005


WASP! Tracklisting:Let it roar; Hate to love me; Loco-motive Man; Unholy Terror; Charisma; Who slayed Baby Jane; Euphoria; Raven Heart; Evermore; Wasted white Boys.

Blackie Lawless (aka Jonathan Steel) and the rest of the boys in WASP has been a part of the heavy metal/hard rock circus for over 20 years now. In the beginning there was Lawless on guitar, Chris Holmes on lead guitar, Don Costa on bass and Danta Fox on drums - but for a lot of reasons WASP became synonymous with Blackie Lawless during the 80's and has been so until 1996. I rember the 1992 album "The Crimson Idol/A rock opera" as the highlight.
This new album "Unholy Terror" as always deals with the thought of believe, existence and truth - reflected by Lawless. WASP has always been a controversial band - mostly in the States I belive, because in Europe we have a more laid back attitute towards the topics that was dealt with in the band. Lawless has alwas seen his role as an artist to "... stimulate, un-nerve, provoke thoughts an to sensitize." And he certainly does that!
"Unholy Terror" is very similar to one of WASP's former albums "The Headless Children" with the social and political references but this new album brings Lawless's christian childhood in focus.
This time around WASP is more of a band thing featuring besides Lawless himself, Chris Holmes on lead guitar, Mike Duda (ex Vicious Delite) on bass, Frankie Banali on drums, Stet Howland on drums too and Roy Z on lead guitar on two tracks! its has been produces by Blackie Lawless and he has managed to capture the sound, feeling and spirit of what I understand WASP from day one - very raw though melodic and very relevant and deals with topics like love, suicide and reincarnation - I think it is good that hard rock also allows these themes sometimes.
I pretty much like the whole album - but some of my favorite are "Evermore" and "Loco-motive Man" both songs are very strong and deals with very serious problems - a good experience in relevant lyrics and heartfelt music!

Gary Moore / Back to the Blues / SANCD 072


Gary Moore - Back to the Blues Tracklisting:Enough of the Blues; You upset me baby; Cold black Night; Stormy Monday; Ain't got you; Picture of the Moon; Looking back; The Prophet; How many Lies; Drowning in Tears.

Gary Moore has been very succesful when he released anything that had "blues" in the title - just think of "Still got the Blues" from 1990 and "Blues for Greeny" in 1995.
Before that he played hard rock and released classics like "Out in the Fields" and "Wild Frontiers". I kindda liked his hard rock period because he always remembered his celtic roots - a tendence he picked up by the late Phil Lynott from his period as a guitar-slinger in Thin Lizzy. In fact he has been a part of the rock and hard rock scene since the first record deal with CBS in 1970 with the power trio Skid Row.
But it was the album "Still got the blues" that made Gary Moore a popular axe man to a bigger variety of people. This and its successor "After Hours" saw cameo appearences from the likes of such blues greats as Albert King, BB King and Albert Collins. He even "replaced" Eric Clapton in a new formation of Cream whem he joined Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce in BBM in 1994.
Gary Moore's new album "Back to the blues" sees this obvious talented musician revisit the traditional electric blues genre after the more experimental albums "Dark Day in Paradise" and "A different Beat". This new album contains 10 tracks of which 6 is new and the rest are covers of standards such as "You upset me", "Stormy Monday", "Ain't got you" and "Looking back".
The album is excellent produced by Moore himself in cooporation with producer/engineer/Mixer Chris Tsangarides, but it actually leaves me with one essential question unanwered - WHY?

Steen Peitersen 1999-2001