PhantomPhantom is the current album from Chris Brockbank’s Phantom MK V (the 5th version of Phantom) – an album that has been out for almost a year now. Brockbank has had various incarnations of Phantom since the early 70s, and has been a stalwart on the Oz hard rock/blues scene for over 40 years.

I know you can’t judge a book by its cover, but the Blackmore infused heavy prog/blooze is at odds with the cover art – which I initially thought was an album by a Euro death metal band. Idiosyncrasies aside – musically what is presented here is an eclectic collection of heavy rock/blues tunes with broad appeal.

If you are fan of Deep Purple/Gillan consider this is an essential purchase. Tunes like ‘Rapid Fire’ will appeal to Blackmore and prog fans alike, with a savagely distinct Brockbank solo and typically strong vocal delivery by vocalist Steve Mulry (TMG – ex Black Label). This is a rock solid tune, and one of the highlights of the record. Like much of the other material, the Jon Lord-like keyboards feature heavily in the mix.

‘One O Clock’ follows the same stoic adherence to the classic Purple/Prog formulae. The playing is top notch, yet lacks a catchy hook. ‘Teresa’ saunters along to a more traditional blues line, yet doesn’t really go anywhere, and similarly, could benefit from a stronger hook on the chorus. The same can’t be said for ‘Teenage Fantasy’, which has more melody, a catchier chorus and a sturdy and clear Mulry vocal. It has the makings of a good heavy pop song, yet morphs into prog-wanderings which could have been trimmed.

I dig the riff heavy ‘So Clear’ with its heavy groove and Rainbowesque quality – yet again, there’s no hook on the chorus. With its mix of highs and lows (including towering verses) ‘Secret’ is out and out heavy rock joy – complete with a shredding solo. Curious to hear this stripped back, minus the keys, which at times are overrepresented in the mix. I get that keys/organ are a big part of the Phantom sound – and that’s not a criticism – just an objective observation. Hell, even Claude Schnell knew his place!

‘Keep On Rock n Rollin’ is pure 70’s hard rock – and a killer tune. Radio friendly, hooks – and more Borich than Blackmore! Get down, this one cooks.

In summary, there’s a lot to like about Phantom MK V. The players are all seasoned and the musicianship first rate. The sound is clear and crisp, and for fans of Purple (Blackmore and Lord in particular), this is a no risk proposition. There are engaging organ improvisations, Brockbank’s guitar attacks, and Mulry’s candid, strong vocals. There’s also some great heavy rock tunes, elements of prog, and enough appeal for blues fans too.

A lot of good songs here, yet if they have a bit more hook, a bit more punch/melody on the chorus – they could be great ones. Whilst some fans dig experimental jams/wanderings, I would like to see them reined in a little. A song can be controlled or even measured – without forsaking any expression. Having said that – still a first rate heavy rock album from a guy who has more than paid his dues. 7/10

Available now on Bad Reputation or via www.phantommkv.com

Advertisements

Y’know five years back we reviewed the EP by Bitzer titled Oz Rock Six pack…you can hunt down that review on our blog – but I do wish to highlight a comment which my brother ended that review with – which stated ‘If you wanna taste of the glory days of Oz rock in 2013 – Bitzer deliver the goods in no uncertain terms. 10 out of 10′. Top marks there from my brother and high praise indeed – and if you one of those who purchased that EP, I’m sure you’ll be in agreeance that it was very well deserved. The good news is folks that in mid-2018 we have brand new material from Bitzer out and about and I gotta tell ya – this bunch of seasoned musicians have absolutely nailed it again. ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ is the name of the new album, a 10 song collection of some of the coolest and most iconic rock n roll tunage to ever come out of Australia.

Before we move on – I must highlight the fact that the players involved in this project are all top shelf, have a wealth of experience and boy does it show. Steve Mulry, Mick Arnold, Lucy De Soto, Steve King, Mick Adkins, Skenie, Mick O’Shea, Steve Edmonds…..

The names that are listed on their individual rock n roll resumes detailing their past outfits or bands they’ve played, recorded or been involved with – read like a chapter ripped straight from the Who’s Who of Australian Rock publication: Rose Tattoo, The Rogue Sharks, Billy Thorpe, Rose Carleo Band, The Poor, Black Label, Judge Mercy, Dragon, Choirboys, Judge Mercy, Kevin Borich, Swanee, TMG, The Pete Wells Band….I could go on but there’s no need as I’m sure you’ll agree – there’s some real heavyweights of Australian music namechecked amongst that gathering.

Countrymen, friends, lend me your ears because the song St Louis – which happens to be one of my all time favourite Easybeats tunes – kicks off ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ with great force and I cannot think of a better way to open the album. For me – it’s also a wonderful way to honour the great George Young who passed away in October of last year.  

Bitzer tackle ‘Down Payment Blues’ next with some raw, and inspired vocals by Skenie. It’s that very same sound – from that throat – which hooked me back in the very early 90’s when I first heard him and The Poor Boys on ‘What I’d Do (To get A Piece Of You)’. Love it. As a few of you out there might know drummer Mick O’Shea was apparently short-listed to replace Phil Rudd on the drum stool for AC/DC’s Rock Or Bust tour. The boys obviously went for the tried and tested and well credentialed Chris Slade – no complaints there. And no point in looking at what could’ve been but just let me state that if you listen to O’Shea’s thumping autodrive on ‘Down Payment Blues’ – he is on the beat and in the pocket. It’s there. 

Superman – an ace, lifted from the Vanda and Young deck was made famous by Alison McCallum back in 1972. It’s not an easy tune to tackle – yet on this version by Bitzer – Lucy De Soto’s vocals are spot on. Lucy’s got a strong voice – my brother at one point in time owned her two mid-80’s releases – it’s great stuff and she really makes this amped up version of ‘Superman’ her own. It’s Time – more people out there were aware of her.

Paul Hewson wrote or co-wrote some of Dragon’s best material – with many music fans considering Sunshine his finest moment. For me, this interpretation was the real surprise of the album – Mulry’s vocals, Steve Edmond’s lead guitar – I found the whole track downright mesmerising. Spend a quiet moment alone with this one via decent headphones and you’ll hopefully get what I mean. I just love this.

A faithful and tough-as-steel rendition of AC/DC’s ‘Bad Boy Boogie’ is up next and it cooks. Skenie again gives his all on this track and it’s great. So great that I’m calling this one of the most faithful takes of this song that you’re gonna hear. It’s pretty darn authentic yet it doesn’t in anyway ape the original found on Let there be Rock. Much of that authenticity is in part due to the well-oiled rhythm unit of King and O’Shea – a pair who know eachother’s playing inside out and it shows.

If you’ve always wondered what a heavied up version of Australian Crawl might sound like – then listen up. Bitzer once again hit the volume on Aussie Crawl’s ‘Things Don’t Seem’ – taken from their 1981 album Sirocco and crank the absolute hell of it. And that’s also what I love about an album like this – it makes you hear songs which you thought you knew so well – from a completely different angle – love it. Who knows, maybe Bitzer will take a stab at James Reyne’s Fall Of Rome in the future ?

Another of the highlights on ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ is a wonderful rendition of Spectrum’s I’ll Be Gone. Lucy De Soto’s vocals – combined with Mick Adkins stinging guitar give this a thumping country rock flavour and the results are what I’d call – catchy as all hell.

And this is just what I was just alluding to when looking over the Australian Crawl song…. you think you are familiar with a song like ‘I’ll be Gone’ and let’s face it, it gets played a helluva lot on the Golden Oldie stations here – but think again. Because the players in the Bitzer outfit will make you sit up and take notice of a song we all know so well. And in my book – that’s a pretty cool thing and I sure hope Mike Rudd gets to hear this version.

The tune – ‘I Remember When I Was Young’ written of course by Matt Taylor – is a track that suits Steve Mulry’s vocals so well – and it’s as if Taylor penned it with him in mind. John Farnham may’ve highlighted the tune on his 2005 songbook album, yet he didn’t do it justice like Bitzer do here and it gets the green light from me.

There is one further ‘Young, Young and Scott’ tune to check out and it’s a rollicking take of Dog Eat Dog. No need to reach for a thesaurus – this take kicks arse plan and simple and I reckon this foursome of Adkins, Skenie, King and O’Shea as a live unit could blow the doors off any live venue they played.  

The album closes out with a blazing and heavy-as-lead take of The Angels – Run For The Shelter, lifted from their often ignored 1984 album Two Minute Warning. If ever a song highlighted the vocal strength of Steve Mulry it’s this one – note perfect and in fine form on this gem penned by Rick Brewster and Brent Eccles.

To summarise – Blitzer once again have delivered the goods, breathing new life into some wonderful and well-known songs with an energy and passion which more people need to hear.

There is so much music being released these days – and it’s often the case that red hot rock n roll releases like this – often get lost in the frenzied world of social media. Once you check this material out – I just know you’re gonna want to spread the word about this album, because it really is damn good – and is deserving of more attention. Excuse the pun but ‘Pedigree Mongrel’ is ‘top dog’ amongst most other releases you’re gonna hear this year – highly recommended – and an album you need to ad to your rock n roll collection. 

http://www.facebook.com/bitzerozrock

Phil Lewis – L.A. Guns Interview (audio)

Posted: May 3, 2018 by rockbrat in Uncategorized

ARS92.jpgL.A. Guns are heading back down under for a run of dates in May – touring in support of their most recent album ‘The Missing Peace’. On episode 92 of The Australian Rock Show we chat with vocalist Phil Lewis about his teenage years, his days on the London club circuit, re-uniting with guitarist Tracii Guns and much much more. Rip and tear and crank this one nice and loud ! Music by: L.A. Guns, The Angels

Listen here

________________________________________________
30738608_2051692541765018_3288360535423821722_n

1517236792feelgoodnews-w555h344It’s been 31 years since Dr Feelgood, Britain’s best exponents of R&B toured Australia. This week sees them play the first dates of their Milk & Alcohol Australian tour with dates booked across the country. Dr Feelgood stood apart from other UK punk/new wave/pub rock bands of the 70s due to their own unique rock sound, which was focused centred around British RnB, and guitarist Wilko Johnson’s choppy style. The band found mainstream success in the mid-70s when their 1976 album Stupidity went to number one on the UK album charts, and a string of UK top 40 singles followed. The current line-up features the rhythm section Kevin Morris on drums and Phil Mitchell on bass, both of whom have been in the band more than 35 years, with fellow long-term guitarist Steve Walwyn, and Robert Kane – formerly of The Animals – who was the most recent addition in 1999. With over 40 years of material to choose from, fans are in for a treat as the band mix the set up with old and new classics including ‘Milk & Alcohol;’, ‘Back In The Night ‘ and ‘Roxette’. Blues fans will lap up the choice covers these guys interweave into their set including Blind Willie McTell’s ‘I Can Tell’, Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love’ and Elmore James’ ‘Dust My Broom’. Personally, I can’t wait to hear ‘Gimme One More Shot’. A tour you do not want to miss! Full tour dates and tickets available here http://www.drfeelgood.org/tour-dates/

3 May Adelaide

5 May Melbourne

6 May Thornbury

8 May Canberra

9 May Sydney

12 May Wollongong

13 May Sydney

15 May Newcastle

16 May Coffs Harbour

17 May Twin Towns

18 May Brisbane

19 May Sunshine Coast

 

cover_smallToday we are looking at the new EP from Kings Of The Sun called ‘Built For Speed’ – and although it’s a new release per se, what it is in fact is a 6 track EP of previously unreleased demos that the band recorded in late December 1991 during the recording sessions for the ‘Resurrection’ album that was released on Mushroom Records in 1993.

In recent years both Hoad brothers, Clifford and Jeff have been out and about releasing a ton of great material under their own banners –  yet it was with the first two albums that Kings Of The Sun rose to international prominence – being 1988’s self titled album and 1990’s Full Frontal Attack. Yet what people may forget is that in 1993 the band released what I consider to be their best album, ‘Resurrection’, an album that didn’t garner anywhere near the attention it warranted – No doubt due to a musical landscape that had changed, and of course both music industry and media indifference – yet whatever the reasons – Resurrection is one standout Australian rock record that should have hit the top of the Billboard charts back then.

As I wrote back in 1995 when reviewing that album for the lost albums column in Vicious Kitten fanzine, If ever an album deserved to be included in a column dedicated to neglected music, then it’s definitely this one. Strap yourself in and hang on, cause this album is full of fast and furious rockers that  hurtle you towards a magical place, a place where heavy duty bass, sweet sounding Les Paul’s, and crashing drums all come together and unite in one almighty blaze of rock n roll fury ! Highlights on this album are many and every track is a gem. The Hoad brothers perfected their own unique songwriting style over the years, and this album reflects that high quality. Jeff Hoad is a natural front man. A pin-up boy who has the showmanship of classic-era David Lee Roth. Visually exciting and pulsating, this man has rock n roll in his veins. Jeff Hoad puts the ‘c’ in cool ! Like Levi’s or coca cola, the genuine article. Clifford drums spider-like, all arms and legs, reminiscent of Neal Smith from the Alice Cooper band.”

Which brings me back to the new EP ‘Built For Speed’ – The Resurrection Demo Sessions. There’s some great tunes on this, including the title track. Anthemic, big chorus, big riff – lot of melody – and like a lot of the other classic Kings material – it’s a song about cars and girls – and being a fan of both cars AND girls (as Andy Shernoff once wrote) it’s a rippin’ tune.

I also dig ‘Let Me Go Free’ – more of a power ballad, a plaintive lament in some ways, heavy on the minor chords with a big vocal delivery, super catchy and if given a full production – and in an ideal world – this could be a radio hit – still.  

If you dug the raunch ‘n’ roll of Kings Of The Sun hits such as Serpentine and Black Leather – Primitive Lust will also appeal to you – highlighted by some shredding guitar and funk rhythms that channel Ike Turner and a capital G for groove.  

The evocative and thought provoking Heaven And Hell is another good one – and much like the aforementioned ‘Let me Go Free’, its heavy on the minor chords which give it a contemplative, reflective feel but it leads into a catchy pre chorus and then an ever bigger chorus augmented by femme vocals. Quality song folks – and If you don’t believe you might try.

Absolutely love the big rock anthem that is ‘Madeline’ – killer riff, stack of melody, Stones raunch and a big hook – and as I’ve said a million times before, If a song aint got a hook – it aint worth a nickel. Set to a lyrical Lolita theme, it’s a tune you can dance too – that’s another litmus test of a great tune in my book. 

The Gray Brothers have been fans of the Hoad Brothers for many many years and anything they release is a buy without risk proposition, and comes wholly recommended. Built For Speed The Resurrection Demo Sessions gets two thumbs up from me and is available now for only $10 !

Get it from http://www.kingsofthesunband.com/

Linda McDonald (The Iron Maidens) Interview

Posted: April 21, 2018 by rockbrat in Uncategorized

ARS91.jpg

In May and June, The Iron Maidens remove all the wheel blocks, gather speed and get airborne – hitting Australian stages for the first time. Powerhouse drummer Linda McDonald previously did time in the amazing Los Angeles outfit Phantom Blue, and on episode 91 of The Australian Rock Show – we talk in detail with Linda about her early days, her influences, Iron Maiden, Nita Strauss, Phantom Blue, the upcoming Australian tour and much more ! Tune in and play very loud.
Listen here

29597430_291600011373548_7825889492807818534_n copy.jpg

Long time listeners of our podcast will remember that we interviewed Rose back on show #10 – so make an effort to listen to that so you can learn more about Rose and her musical journey so far. That interview was around the time that her ‘Time Is Now’ album came out – which was a wonderful release and trust me folks – that particular title track ‘Time Is Now’ will be stuck in your head for days – super super catchy. So obviously I was excited to get hold of this new release from Rose and it does not disappoint and it is easily gonna be in my top 5 releases for this year – that is for certain.

The EP opens with the song Into the Frey – which has a great riff that runs all through the song – I can see why they kicked off the EP with this as it’s so loud and gutsy. The bass line in this courtesy of Steve King – and gives it a little Screaming Jets type of flavour – catchy chorus – right out of the gate the intention is clear – this band mean business. Love it.

This line-up features some Australian rock n roll royalty – the aforementioned Steve King who was in Rose Tattoo for many years – from memory he’s also done time in the Pete Wells Band – Lucy DeSoto and the Handsome Devils and Bitzer – very very rock solid bass player. His rhythm partner on this release – and with a bunch of other outfits is Mick O’Shea. Mick’s rock n roll resume is as long as your arm – Judge Mercy, Dragon, Swanee, Thorpie, Ian Moss, Kevin Borich – he just filled the drum stool on the recent Richie Sambora/Orianthi tour and word is that Mick was damn close to filling Phil Rudd’s position on AC.DC’s Rock or bust tour. So what you have there is pretty much one of THE most potent rhythm sections treading the boards anywhere on the planet today – in my opinion. Mick Adkins – is an accomplished lead guitar player – and his sound is integral to the material on Battle Scars – Mick was of course in an outfit called the Rogue Sharks – their s/t album from 2007 is well worth searching out if you have not heard it. Rose Carleo – powerhouse songstress who has a knack of writing catchy songs – songs which make you feel good and ones which get stuck in your brain in the nicest possible way. More people need to be aware of her.

 The title track on this EP – is classy with a capital C – and in a just world – should be the song which busts it wide open for Rose Carleo and her band – it’s really, really infectious and trust me folks – ten seconds in and you’re hooked. I love songs that start with lead guitar as this one does – I could reach for the thesaurus but big adjectives are not always required – it’s just great sounding rock n roll. The stuff which makes you feel good.  Songs like this are ones which I always find myself turning up and singing along to – they remind me of why my love of music is so great. More people need to hear this.

Coat Tail is another song which rocks and rolls along – a little nod to the glitter band in there maybe – which to these ears sounds great.

There is a tune on here called Faded Tattoo – dedicated to the memory of Peter Wells and Mick Cocks – thumping bass guitar all the way through which really drives the song. It starts off slowly but veers quickly into what I’d call ‘blues laced rock n roll’ with searing lead guitar.

These songs are very well crafted and you can tell there’s been a lot of work put into this recording by Rose and her band. I like the production – but in saying that – I’m not one of those people who pour over the sound and mix of an album. If it sounds good – I crank the volume and that’s that – end of story. It’s rock n roll.

Battle Scars btw was engineered by Russell Pilling – and if you are a fan of the kinda guitar-fuelled rock n roll which we dig – I bet you’ve got something in your collection which Russell had a hand in…. He’s done stuff with a bunch of bands over the years – too many to go through but here are a few – Hoodoo Gurus, Radio Birdman, Roddy Ray’da, The Vines, Died Pretty, The Church, New Christs, Celibate Rifles, Asteroid B-612, the great album ‘In Heat’ by the Fools circa 1998 – he engineered that one – Pete Wells – 1991’s record Everything you Like Tries To kill You – produced of course by Kevin Shirley but engineered by Russell. He also did some work on the Kcrunch release from 1992 – my brother loved that band was always singing their praises – from memory Brian Mann and Mark Wilkinson were in that outfit – and finally – he engineered the killer 7” titled Chokito Bar – from Brother Brick released in Dog Meat in the early 90’s – that’s just some of the many artists he’s worked with – obviously an experienced engineer with an impressive resume – which this release can now be added to.  

Last Day Alive – for me was the real surprise on the EP – and one which showcases just how raw and powerful Rose Carleo’s vocals are – ‘take it as you find it – say it like you mean it – love it like you own it – live it like your last day alive”. Indeed ! Love love love that.

Battle Scars is a stellar release which more people need to hear – one part country, one part heavy blues and one part loud pub rock. Feel-good rock n roll guaranteed to liven up the gloomiest of days. Rose Carleo and her band have come up trumps and I encourage you to purchase this as I know – if you’re a fan of our show – or just want a hit of some infectious rock n roll – this is gonna be right up your alley”. Buy now and thank me later

www.rosecarleo.com