Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Australian metal pioneers Buffalo, performing as Buffalo Revisited, release their first live album, called Volcanic Rock Live, to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the studio original.

Buffalo is a band a lot of fans today never came across but I am convinced they would be happy to hear them if they got a chance. The Australians released five full-length albums back in the 1970s, the most well-remembered being Volcanic Rock (1973). Founder and front man Dave Tice has been performing in recent years as Buffalo Revisited, playing songs from the early albums. Interestingly, Buffalo never released a live album. Until now.

Recorded on June 6, 2018 at The Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Sydney, Buffalo Revisited plays the entire Volcanic Rock album. Troy Scerri (guitar), Steve Lorkin (Bass), and Marcus Fraser (drums) joined Dave Tice to make it happen.

Some of my all-time favorite music was created in the 1970s, so I figured I was going to be on board with this one, too. I had heard Volcanic Rock before, and a couple other Buffalo albums, so I was ready.

What you realize immediately about this music is it’s a great stoner record. Laid back riffs and weathered lead guitar work seep easily into your readied head. By the second song, “Freedom,” I had settled in. I remember having a fleeting thought hoping the album was playing on a loop because I did not want to get up. Tice sounds great, and he and the other musicians celebrate the 45th anniversary of the classic album in style.

Whether you have heard of Buffalo before or not, you should listen to this album. If you are a fan of the Ripple Music catalogue, then this is for you. It fits right in. Highly recommended.

Volcanic Rock Live is out now from Ripple Music and available at Bandcamp or through the label’s on-line store.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/volcanic-rock-live

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/buffalorevisited

Ripple Music, https://www.ripple-music.com/

Buffalo Revisited, Volcanic Rock Live (Ripple Music 2022)

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

The axe swings again with a new four-CD set of the first albums from iconic metal band AXE.

I remember buying those early Axe (often stylized as AXE) albums in the 1970s and early 1980s. It is entirely possible that I bought the first one on the strength of the cover art alone – I was young. What you heard when you listened to the music was something that was very different from other contemporary bands. Melodic vocals and keyboards, which might make you think of bands like Styx or even Kansas, but with surprisingly sharp guitars. That’s what I remember most about Axe, those big guitar riffs that were so prominent in the mix.

The original Axe line-up (emerging after the demise of the band Babyface) was Bobby Barth (guitar, vocals), Edgar Riley, Jr. (keys), Mike Turpin (bass), Teddy Mueller (drums), and Michael Osborne (guitar). At the beginning, many band members traded off on vocals, but eventually the singing focused on Barth. Axe was growing in popularity with each passing year, and sales of their albums were increasing. They were well known as an energetic touring band and it looked like the sky was the limit. Tragedy struck in 1983 when Michael Osbourne died in a car accident that also badly injured Bobby Barth, and the band broke up immediately after. Axe did reform in the 1990s and have released several albums since. It is those first four that are stuck in my head, though, and they are the ones in the new set.

The clamshell box the new CDs are issued in hold individual sleeves with the original album artwork for all four releases: Axe (1979), Living On The Edge (1980), Offering (1982), and Nemesis (1983). The Offering CD has six bonus live tracks, and there is a 16-page booklet with an essay about the band by Dave Thompson, and liner notes. Lots of photos as well.

The new set is out now on the Dead Line imprint of Cleopatra Records. I am a big Axe fan so it was an easy choice for me. Listen to a few tracks at Bandcamp or Spotify if you want to test the waters before taking the plunge, but it is a solid bet the physical products won’t be available for long. Get them while you can. Recommended.

Links.

Bandcamp, https://therealrockaxe.bandcamp.com/album/the-albums-1979-1983

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/axeband1979

Cleopatra Records, https://cleorecs.com/store/shop/axe-the-albums-1979-1983-4cd/

Axe, The Albums 1979 – 1983 (Cleopatra 2021)

Killer: 50 Years Later – An Alice Cooper Tribute Album (Pale Wizard Records 2021)

Alice Cooper’s absolute classic Killer gets a fond remembrance from contemporary bands.

I don’t have any friends who haven’t heard Killer. As I often report, I am a huge Alice Cooper fan from my earliest music listening days and Killer might be my favorite album of his, if there was any way I could choose a favorite. Coming hard on the heels of the band’s first real radio success with “Is It My Body” and especially “I’m Eighteen” from the Love It To Death album, Killer was the record where the combination of radio hits with horror-themed longer tracks coalesced into what Alice Cooper would be known for from that point on into eternity.

I know every song on this album by heart, so listening to new versions of them is a little weird. But you can feel the respect and appreciation from all the contributing bands. They know how important this music is and they are giving it props. Green Lung has the opening track, “Under My Wheels.” They give it a faithful retelling (no horns), including the vocal inflection that Alice put on it way back when. “Be My Lover” gets a spin by The Grand Mal, and here again we are close to the original. It is an excellent celebration.

“Halo Of Flies” is a big test in the sense that it is an expansive, complex eight-minute track. It also received the most scrutiny from me personally because it is my favorite from the 1971 album. Sergeant Thunderhoof deserves a medal for this one – it is incredible in every way. I want to see them do it live.

Ritual King has “Desperado,” the closest thing to a ballad in the set and they take it off in a very different direction. The other two short songs are delivered beautifully by 1968 for “You Drive Me Nervous” in a groove-doomy reinterpretation and Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight on “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,” which they drive to an even deeper dungeon of doom than 1968 did.

And what’s left? “Dead Babies” and “Killer.” Mos Generator gets the former and the title track goes to Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. “Killer” has that snappy jazz in its reincarnation here that it had before but this time it is taken into an alternate universe. Mos Generator’s rendition of “Dead Babies” is closer to the laid lines, although heavier and fuzzier –something that can be said for all the songs, really.

There are four bonus tracks on the CD version: “I’m Eighteen” by Alunah, “Billion Dollar Babies” by Suns of Thunder, “Muscle of Love” by Possessor, and “Sick Things” by Sound of Origin. These are all admirable additions. In fact we could go on and on, couldn’t we. There are tons of other Alice Cooper songs I’d like to see covered, but then that would become a series.

The album at hand is a genuine delight for a long-time fan of Alice Cooper. Surely, followers of the contemporary contributing bands will also be glad to hear these tracks that are new for them. Highly recommended.

Killer: 50 Years Later hits the streets on November 27, 2021 to mark the 50th anniversary of the original album’s release.

Links.

Pale Wizard Records, https://palewizardrecords.bandcamp.com/music

Green Lung, https://greenlung.bandcamp.com/

1968, https://1968band.bandcamp.com/music

Sergeant Thunderhoof, https://sergeantthunderhoof.bandcamp.com/

Mos Generator, https://mosgenerator.bandcamp.com/

Ritual King, https://ripplemusic.bandcamp.com/album/ritual-king

The Grand Mal, https://thegrandmal.bandcamp.com/album/the-grand-mal

Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell, https://riseaboverecords.com/artists/riseaboveartists/admiralsircloudesleyshovell/

Trippy Wicked & the Cosmic Children of the Knight, https://trippywicked.bandcamp.com/album/three-leaves

Alunah, https://alunah.uk/

Suns of Thunder, https://sunsofthunder.bandcamp.com/

Possessor, https://possessor.bandcamp.com/

Sound of Origin, https://soundoforigin.bandcamp.com/

Killer: 50 Years Later – An Alice Cooper Tribute Album (Pale Wizard Records 2021)

Joyous Wolf, The Lonely Ones, and Frame 42 at Higher Ground, South Burlington, Vermont, October 29, 2021

Joyous Wolf’s Fearless Tour made a stop in the North Country on Friday night at Higher Ground.

Joyous Wolf is out on tour right now, supported by The Lonely Ones and Frame 42 on their current swing. On Friday night they played in the Showcase Lounge at Higher Ground in South Burlington. First up was Frame 42.

Frame 42 is a six-piece band from Michigan. They opened their set with a variety of classic rock cover tunes. It was nice to hear this old standards, but I liked the original music they played even better. Their songs do have a classic rock foundation to them, but the band’s compositional acumen – and performance – add unique twists and touches that sets them apart. You can hear their music on most streaming services. Check out their website (link below) to find out more about them.

The Lonely Ones took the stage next, and they play rock in a somewhat harder vein. Not much is known about them (from their website) other than their roster: Marty McCoy (guitar, vocals), Tommy Johnson (drums), Jymmy Tolland (bass, vocals), and Jake Earley (guitar, vocals). The music they play is guitar-driven hard rock. Their set was a lot of fun to see and hear, and I will always remember it for the completely unexpected cover of Queen’s “Flash’s Theme.”

Joyous Wolf has been playing a straight-forward, bluesy and soulful brand of rock and roll since 2014. The Southern California band released the EP Place In Time through Roadrunner Records in 2019, and there is a new album on the way. The musicians are Nick Reese (vocals), Blake Allard (guitar), Robert Sodaro (drums), and Greg Braccio (bass).

I have gotten used to seeing Joyous Wolf at festivals, most recently at Louder Than Life in Louisville. They always put on a great show and I never miss them when they play these big events. Seeing them in a club setting was a new experience. Being confined to a smaller stage did not diminish the energy of their performance at all.

They played a number of new songs off the upcoming album, as well as familiar pieces. In the intimate confines of the cozy Showcase Lounge, you are close enough to touch the band – their expressions and nuances are on full display in ways you miss when they perform on big stages. No matter where you see them, you are in for some excellent rock and roll.

Joyous Wolf is on the road for a few more weeks. Go check them out live if they play near you. It is a great show.

Photos by Wayne Edwards.

Links.

Joyous Wolf, https://fearless.joyouswolf.com/

Roadrunner Records, https://store.roadrunnerrecords.com/joyous-wolf.html

Frame 42, https://www.frame42.com/

The Lonely Ones, https://thelonelyones.net/

Higher Ground, https://highergroundmusic.com/

Joyous Wolf, The Lonely Ones, and Frame 42 at Higher Ground, South Burlington, Vermont, October 29, 2021

Motörhead, No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith Box Set (BMG 2021)

Motörhead’s iconic live masterpiece No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith gets the deluxe treatment in a new 4-disc box set.

I don’t have to go on and on about Motörhead and how important that band is in the history of heavy music. And too, their monumental No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith album was huge back when it came out in 1981. It was the first Motörhead album I actually ever heard and it put me on track to be a lifelong fan. I am glad to know it continues to be revered and listened to and sought after.

And at the time, by the way, I didn’t like live albums much. A few years before, Kiss had a massive success with their second big live album Kiss Alive II, and I have to say I didn’t really like it much. I thought the studio versions of the songs were better and I didn’t channel anything extra from trying to listen to the music through the crowd noise on a record in my room. But Hammersmith was something different. It was all new to me at the time, and it is loaded with brain smashers coming, as it did, hot on the heels of Overkill, Bomber, On Parole, and Ace of Spades. I didn’t know what hit me, and after I got myself back together, I was never the same.

This new set is huge and includes a remastered version of the original album plus bonus tracks not included on that first record. In the big box, there are also complete recordings of the three shows that were used for the original album: Leeds Queens Hall on March 28, 1981 and Newcastle City Hall on March 29 and 30, 1981. There are also a bunch more bobs and whistles, one important entry being a previously unpublished interview. Much here to sort through and admire.

Is it too much Motörhead? Not for big fans of the band like me, but for regular metalheads, yeah, it probably is a little over the top. Still, it is worth listening to the remastered original album even if you don’t want to hear all three concerts because it sounds great in its new incarnation and it is classic metal music that never gets old. Recommended.

No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith Box Set is out now from BMG Records. Get yours before this one sells out.

Links.

Website, https://imotorhead.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/OfficialMotorhead/

Motörhead, No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith Box Set (BMG 2021)

Alice Cooper, Detroit Stories (earMUSIC 2021)

Rock and Roll icon Alice Cooper takes a nostalgic strut through the historic musical verity of Detroit.

I don’t have to tell you who Alice Cooper is, right? I have written many times about how his music, together with Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, and Nazareth, were the first sounds I heard that turned me toward the heavy. He did have a period of metal music, but that is not the way he started out and most of his work is in the hard rock lane with plenty of pop rock/metal orientation. Oh, and Shock Rock. Yeah. He did that first.

Cooper was born in 1943 and so he is now 73 years old. How is that affecting his musical composition and performance? Not in any apparent negative way, I can tell you that. I saw him at the Greek Theater in LA a couple summers ago and the show was amazing. The performance was just as energetic and exciting as it was decades ago. I don’t know how he still does it, but he definitely still does.

If you look at his recent studio albums, they are up to a high standard as well. The most recent one was Paranormal in 2017, and it is filled to the brim with rockers and bangers, crisp and cracking. He continues to cover a lot of the same subjects as he has in the past, and if anything he his music has become less gimmicky, leaning more towards a straight-forward rock approach.

There are fifteen tracks on the new album. Cooper’s voice is strong and familiar. And unique. The music is guitar driven hard rock, running radio length. There are a couple songs that are a little longer, but they are all designed to be digestible. There are a couple of stylistic homages in there, but mainly these songs are bangers that cook and move in all the right ways to get you on your feet and going. Songs that have a slower pace tend toward blues or mysteriousness. No ballads at all. The album is exactly what I was hoping for, and it is the perfect follow-up to Paranormal, showing that the quality of that album was no fluke.

When big live shows come back the first thing I am going to do is buy a ticket for wherever Alice Cooper is playing and go see him live again. I didn’t really need any additional motivation to make this oath, but Detroit Stories is nevertheless an extra push. Highly recommended.

You can get Detroit Stories starting now. There are many bundles and versions. The one I liked best is a basic one – the CD and DVD combo that includes A Paranormal Evening At The Olympia Paris. That was a great concert and if you didn’t pick it up already when it came out then here is a great chance to get the add-on.

Links.

Website, https://alicecooper.com/

Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/AliceCooper/

Alice Cooper, Detroit Stories (earMUSIC 2021)

Blue Öyster Cult, The Symbol Remains review (Frontiers Records 2020)

The iconic rock band Blue Öyster Cult releases its first full-length studio album in nineteen years.

Here is where I am coming from as far as Blue Öyster Cult goes. The first three albums are unassailable. As far as I am concerned, nothing serious can be said against them. After that, I have unpopular tastes with regard to the catalogue. Agents of Fortune (1976) is a classic, true, but I never really connected with Spectre (1977) or Mirrors (1979). I absolutely love the sequence of albums from the early 1980s: Cultosaurus Erectus (1980), Fire of Unknown Origin (1981), and The Revolution By Night (1983). Also Imaginos (1988) – an excellent reimagining. The other albums are good, and I listen to them still, but not as much as the ones on my list. Blue Öyster Cult has created a large catalogue of amazing music and some song or another of theirs is always in my rotation. They are one of my all-time favorite bands.

I’ve been waiting for The Symbol Remains anxiously, wanting new music I would really like to listen to. With so much great work that had come before, a reasonable person faces new music from a band that hasn’t put anything out in a long while with some trepidation. Like when Black Sabbath released 13 (2013). They had not released a full-length studio album as Black Sabbath for almost twenty years. I sweated that one, but 13 was excellent, and the band supported the album with a great tour. Fingers crossed, then, for the new Blue Öyster Cult. The band is Eric Bloom (vocals, guitar), Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (guitar), Richie Castellano (keys, guitar, vocals), Danny Miranda (bass), and Jules Radino (drums). With the two originals Bloom and Roeser, and the longtime bandmates Castellano, Miranda, and Radino, the lineup is rock solid.

The hour-long album starts with a banger, the single “That Was Me.” It has the kind of sound I was hoping for, from the crisp guitar work to the distinctive vocals. This is Blue Öyster Cult. The next two songs (also released as singles) show a tonally lighter side to the band, demonstrating their musicianship and compositional prowess. Throughout the album, their creativity is on display from the amazing guitar work on “Nightmare Epiphany” to the theatrical Danny Elfman-esque “Edge of the World.” “Florida Man” is a quiet song with a lyrical lead break and rich harmonies. “The Alchemist” is dark and heavy, pushing out heavy threatening riffs and a wicked fantasy narrative. “Secret Road” is a desert driving song that will make you see rattlesnakes in your sleep. The variety is intoxicating.

Having listened to The Symbol Remains three times in a row, I know now that I was wrong before – there was never anything to worry about. This is an excellent album. This is Rock and Roll. Highly recommended.

The new BÖC album is out now. You can listen on Spotify and buy on Amazon and other places. The important thing is to here it.

Band photos snagged from the official website.

Links.

Band website, www.blueoystercult.com/

Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php

Blue Öyster Cult, The Symbol Remains review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Blue Öyster Cult, 45th Anniversary Live In London review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Recorded live at The O2 (Indigo) in London during the Stone Free Festival on June 17, 2017, this concert is a complete retelling of the band’s first album, Blue Öyster Cult, plus a couple of extra favorites for the fans.

Blue Öyster Cult has been releasing notable live sets this year like Hard Rock Live in Cleveland 2014, iHeart Radio Theater N.Y.C. 2012,and 40th Anniversary Agents of Fortune Live 2016. Now the best of the bunch so far is out, a recording of the band playing their entire first album, 1972’s Blue Öyster Cult. That trilogy of the first three LPs BÖC released in rapid succession are absolute hard rock classics, the self-titled one first, then Tyranny and Mutation (1973), and finally the monstrous Secret Treaties (1974). After these seminal works, the band achieved enormous commercial success with Agents of Fortune (1976), and the music turned a little toward the pop direction. These early ones had the killer tracks that still raise the hairs on your neck like “Cities On Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Hot Rails To Hell,” and pretty much every song on Secret Treaties. I have a particular affection for the 1972 original because of its stark originality so this new release was a hot grab for me.

I watched/listened to the Blu-ray version. The band is: originals Eric Bloom (since 1969) and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (since 1967), with Richie Castellano, Danny Miranda, and Jules Radino. The sound on the Blu Ray is excellent – you might remember, BÖC fans, that the recording of the original album was very muddy so this performance actually sounds better. The playing is crisp and sharp, and there is a lot more guitar on these versions than there was on the 1972 release, including an epic ten and a half minute version of “Then Came The Last Days Of May.” After the original ten songs, they played on with the “Buck’s Boogie” jam fans have come to expect from their live performances, the hits “Godzilla,” “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” and “Hot Rails To Hell,” plus the surprise “Tattoo Vampire” – I didn’t see that one coming. It was a great show and I wish I had been there. I was REALLY looking forward to seeing BÖC at Psycho Las Vegas this year. Fingers crossed for 2021.

Available now from Frontiers Records, pick up whichever version you like best and don’t wait too long. The supply of these live albums from BÖC has been a little spotty this year. The Blu-ray looks and sounds great, but it has essentially no extras except for a five minute green room video. Digital streaming is always there if you miss out on the physicals so there are no excuses – give it a listen and breathe in the cult.

Band photo snagged from the official website page.

Links.

Band website, www.blueoystercult.com/

Frontiers Records, http://www.frontiers.it/index.php

Blue Öyster Cult, 45th Anniversary Live In London review (Frontiers Records 2020)

Deep Purple, Whoosh! review (earMUSIC/Edel 2020)

New music from Deep Purple is always something to celebrate, and Whoosh! is the best new album from them since Purpendicular.

Let’s think about this for a second. I remember when Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple – both times. It really seemed like that would be all she wrote, so to speak, and it was clearly a setback. But the band has released a ton of new, excellent material outside of Blackmore’s shadow. When Jon Lord left in 2002, I really thought that would be it for Deep Purple. He had stayed with the band for many years after Blackmore left and had been there up to the hiatus that began in 1976 and since reformation that occurred in 1994. And yet Deep Purple persevered.

The band has the same lineup this time as it has had since 2002 with Ian Gillan, Roger Glover, Ian Paice, Don Airey, and Steve Morse. The first three musicians are the most recognizable to Deep Purple fans because of their long tenure stretching back into the 1960s. But Don Airey has been with them since 2002 and Steve Morse has been there even longer, since 1994, so they have all been playing together for a good long while.

The band credits some of the success of the song writing and production to Bob Ezrin, a legend in the music industry. This is his third time working with Deep Purple. Whether it was Ezrin’s influence or whether the stars just all aligned right, Whoosh! is a great album.

The set opens with a jazzy little vamp at the front of “Throw My Bones,” Ian Gillan tells us “All I got is what I need / And that’s enough as far as I can see / Why should I walk into the Great Unknown / When I can sit here and throw my bones.” In fact, the message of this entire album is basically to lighten up, it all comes and goes so fast (that’s the “whoosh!”) that getting all wound up about things juts ruins the little bit of time that you do have. Gillan’s voice is in solid shape. It is not “Child In Time” or “Born Again” but it is most definitely Gillan – instantly recognizable. The production is full with extra helpings of keyboards at the right moments and crisp guitar enterprises at the appropriate peaks. There are plenty of memorable hooks and tongue-in-cheek lyrical moments throughout. This is the high point for Mark VIII so far.

In interviews about the production of this new album, Deep Purple talks about how weird the world of music is right now and that they don’t have anything scheduled for another year. That’s a lot of time to do nothing, so maybe there’ll be another new album or at least some more new music before the next tour. I’d bet on just a couple songs because the material on this album needs be toured – I would hate to think that none of it ever gets played live because of even newer music that passes it by.

Whoosh! is out now and you can get it anywhere. There are lots of products related to this issue if you want something memorable. Recommended for Purple fans and anybody interested in the newest iteration of what was classic rock.

Band photo snagged from the official Facebook page.

Links.

https://www.deeppurple-whoosh.com/#start

https://www.deep-purple.com/

https://ear-music.shop/

Deep Purple, Whoosh! review (earMUSIC/Edel 2020)