Reviews November/06

Thunder / Robert Jonson's Tombstone / FR PR CD 308


Thunder - back to their roots! Tracklisting:Robert Johnson's Tombstone; Dirty Dream; A million Faces; Don't wanna talk about Love; The Devil made me do it; Last Man standing; My darkest Hour; Andy Warhol said; What a beautiful Day; It's all about you; Stubborn kinda Love.

Well, i'll be damned! just as I thought that Thunder was satisfied with their rather anonymous style of hard rock delievered on their two provious records they are back in the same style as their first two milestone-releases.
On "Robert Johnson's Tombstone" they are back as the real contenders of British blues based hard rock like Bad Co. etc. I think this release could wake good ole Mr. Johnson back to life! Hallelujah, Brother!
Thunder anno 2006 contains the talents of magnificent singer Danny Bowes, guitar master Luke Morley, multiintsrumentalist Ben Matthews, bassist Chris Childs and energetic drummer Harry James - and boy they can rock! From the first sliding strokes on the guitar on opening title track, the 5-some has settled for pace and energy - what a riff! And a wonderful thing is that the riffs continues on "Dirty Dream" and the absolute gorgeous "Dont wanna talk about Love"! But I must say that i'm dancing, humming and playing air guitar to the marvellous melodic and energetic track "The Devil made me do it" - this is my favorite. But if you were more to the classic Thunder ballads there are plenty of heart wrenching Bowes' vocals on tracks like "A million faces" mixed with big hammond organs and acustic guitars. "My darkest hour" with Danny Bowes accompanied by guitar and cello or how about "It's all about you" with its almost Beatles-esque attitude.
This is one of the most powerful comebacks - if they were gone - of the year. I like the happy go lucky sing-along tunes. The voice, the guitar, the drums and the overall approach is nothing less than fantastic - great album!

Lovechild / Soul Collector / ESM 139


Lovechild - Hard rock from Liechtenstein! Tracklisting:Prisoner; Perfect Day; Soul Collector; Left on the Outside; Sunset Rider; No Return; Battlefield; Line of Fire; Promised Land; Lion; Midnight Train; Close.

Lovechild the first band from tiny Liechenstein I've come across so far, I think. The band made a good impression at United Forces of Rock II festival, though. There is nothing new under the sun - and the band is not original in any way BUT they do what they do extremely well and with a certain convincing attitude. Their debut album may not stop the press or cause a major stir in the metal world, but it is really good - and the band has charmed me, all the way.
The band's sound will take you back to the late eighties and to the more guitar-based hard rock bands like XYZ and Steelheart. Especially vocalist Werner Schweizer (ex-Satrox) reminds me a lot of Terry Ilous of XYZ with his hoarse but high-pitched vocals. He cans stand on his own legs - as you can hear on the excellent title track. But also neighbours Gotthard is a big inspiration from time to time. For the non-belivers, just throw yourslef into "No return"!!!
After a magnificent start (or should I say first half) the air seems to slowly blow out of the balloon. But a track like "Promised Land" saves the day for Lovechild. All in all, Herr Schweizer, guitarist Roger Kaufmann (Tess), bassist Sven Sieber and drummer Danny Zimmermann (Satrox) has made a great album with great performances, good songwriting and great production! Let's hope that they keep up the good work and lift the whole thing a bit for the next record!

Wetton/Downes / Icon II-Rubicon / FR PR CD 309


Wetton & Downes - Two Icons back in business! Tracklisting:The Die is Cast; Finger on the Trigger; Reflections (of my Life); To catch a thief; Tears of joy; Shannon; The hanging Tree; The Glory of winning; Whirlpool; Rubicon.

The original ASIA members John Wetton and Geoff Downes are back with their Icon-project, this time with all new material. They have a certain - in some circles almost religious - reputation as one of the pioneers and inventors of AOR in the eighties. ASIA the band has recently re-united in its' original line-up but instead of recording new songs under the Asia banner, Wetton and Downes seem to prefer the Icon formation. But just listen to a track like "The finger on the trigger"...
Like I said the album starts out with a couple of fine AOR tracks, pompous and catchy in the vein of ASIA. John Wetton sings as good as ever, and Downes provides layers and layers of keyboards - especially "Reflections (of my Life)" is grand. Then the album slows down a bit - the style changes a bit, starting with "To Catch A Thief", a beautiful ballad which features the female vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering) singing a duet with Wetton. This is my album favorite.
"Tears Of Joy" can only be described as a "mood piece", a soundtrack-like song that doesn't grab one at all. Same could be said of "Shannon", a sing-a-long folklore-type of a song - Blackmores's Night go home! "The Hanging Tree" doesn't convince me either, it's just a dull song that doesn't really pick up the pace. The glorious ballad "The Glory Of Winning" is far better but i miss some guitar and rock here. Wetton and Downes has invited John Mitchell on guitar, Steve Christey on drums and Hugh McDowell on cello to participate on the album. With "Whirlpool" i get a little more pace and speed, but not enough, gentlemen!
Don't get me wrong, I think this is an excellent album - but the overall impression is that its rather uninspired. With Wetton and Downes in the line up the expectations are sometimes to high...

Steen Elstrup Pejtersen 1999-2006