I’ve bought a few over the last couple of weeks so I thought I’d bundle them up into a super review… !!!
Ballard of John Henry – Joe Bonamassa. Young Joe is the latest white guy to save the blues, like Eric, Stevie Ray, Gary Moore et. al. before him. So this is his latest platter. Very good. Joe B is however not a straight down the line blues only man with a view interesting covers thrown in like Stop! Written by the keyboard player out of Patti Smiths band by the way and also the Anthony Newley hit Feelin’ Good – and that is the best version ever I’ve heard of that track. Joe B’s playing throughout is excellent, he is much closer to Gary Moore type blues than say close to Robert Cray to help you place him if you don’t know his stuff. If you like that Blues with a rock hit this album is a must try out. The opening title track is the star of the show for me along with that stunning version of Feelin’ Good and Stoty of a Quarryman.
Songs from the Sparkle Lounge – Def Leppard. About as close as I get to “hair metal”. I nearly saw the Leps once but the gig was cancelled the day before due to band illness. I was never a huge fan but thought a couple of their albums ok and Hysteria is lying around in my collection still somewhere. I got this as it was cheap and I thought I’d give it a listen. Not bad basically. I can never figure out where Joe Elliot’s voice is attempting to come from as he doesn’t really sound American but clearly doesn’t sound like he is from Sheffield either, still that is all part of the Def Leppard thing I suppose. This is a good light rock album and worth a listen if you like that kind of thing. I still think they lost something when Steve Clark sadly passed away in 1991. I remember when that happened I thought “Jesus this guy had it all, the band, the money, the black Les Paul Custom etc and still he killed himself drinking.” I was confused, I thought then that I drank because I didn’t have those things, that I’d been cheated in the roulette of life, but here was a guy with it all and he drank worse than I did to the point of killing himself with it. I remember being very troubled by those thoughts, all the way to the next beer or 12, it’s still a thought I recall easily – shame it took me another 13 years to make all the connections about that one… still I’m sober now and bizarrely once I got sober I had the money to buy the Les Paul… :-)
Chinese Democracy – Guns N Roses. I bought this for a fiver off a sale rack. Hmm – is it a Guns N Roses album? Well in name yes but not in style I don’t think. It’s not a bad album at all and Axl does have one of the most distinctive and great rock voices out there. Was it worth the wait and the reputed $14million that is has cost to make it? Again borderline I’d say, not that it’s not bad but after a decade and that wedge you’d expect an album to change your life. It doesn’t. The guitar playing of Ron Thrall is very technical but frankly there is more than one solo I’d have given anything for less of the virtuosity, less machine gun staccato trademark etc. and wish for something a little more melodic, more restrained… a little more “Slash like” dare I say it. Worth a fiver but no great album status. Actually at times I thought it sounded very like old Queensrÿche you know, which brings us neatly to…
Broken Soldier - Queensrÿche. Now poor old Queensrÿche have a tough time with me simply because Empire was such a great album that I never think they got close to repeating. However this one isn’t bad at all and the best since Promised Land and DeGarmo departed to fly planes about for a living. This has heavy overtones as this is a concept album and uses the experiences of recent USA troops in the conflicts in the middle east as it’s backdrop. The sticker on the sleeve states this is an “epic”, well maybe not in the way that Empire was but this is a very good album and has some considerable thought to the content of the lyrics and the structure of the music that many bands miss these days… dare I say progressive? I know that gets a bad press but if people can think of quality music like this what the hell. I heartily recommend this one for anyone who liked old Queensrÿche or Dream Theatre, Rush or similar.