THE GROOVEMAN'S COLLECTION

ARGENT – Encore

One of the great forgotten British rock bands from the seventies, and they are the writers of some great tunes that have been covered by many. This live album was recorded back in ’74 in St. Albans and Swansea – the rock and roll capitals of the UK. The main protagonists in Argent are ex-Zombies keyboard whizz, Rod Argent, and songwriter to the world, Russ Ballard.

The first time I heard of them was the single Hold Your Head Up whilst I was at school, and there is a great extended version here. I’m sure everyone will have heard of God Gave Rock And Roll, which Argent did release as a follow up single, but more famously released by Kiss. Also on here are two Zombies hits, I Don’t Believe In Miracles, and Time of The Season. I mean you know whose band it is when the band opens with The Coming If Kohoutek, which is basically a keyboard solo.

My favourites are Its Only Money Parts One & Two – they rock with a great riff and melody and is greatly extended. There are lots of extended musical workouts here as that’s what the band were all about Live, namely the aforementioned It’s Only Money, Music From The Spheres and Dance Of Ages. So all in all, a great live album that often gets overlooked.

9/10 from The Grooveman.

ELECTRIC BOYS – The Ghost Ward Diaries

Yet another band back from the dead, having disbanded after the release of Freewheeling back in ’94. Known for their love of all things funky, people forget what a great rock n roll band they were – and boy could they write a tune (and still can). Formed by frontman Conny Bloom and bassist Andy Christell, the pair are still together today, and in this release from 2018, the band are back writing great records.

I’ll forgive them for stealing an AC/DC riff for opening track, Hangover In Hannover, as it’s a great song. Second song in, There She Goes Again, is one of the best songs they have ever recorded. A brilliant catchy melody and chorus coupled with a great riff, make this an awesome tune. You Spark My Heart is another great tune, a great up-tempo love song that’s slightly different from the norm. Love Is A Funny Feeling is the first visit to funky town on this record, and is a throwback to classic seventies funk. Gone Gone Gone closes out Side 1 and is the highlight of the album so far. That’s mighty praise indeed, as there has been a freakin’ awesome selection of songs on the album so far.

The delightfully named Swampmotofrog opens up Side 2 and it’s an instrumental romp with a killer riff, great slide playing, and a very heavy groove in the middle section. Next up is First The Money Then The Honey and it’s a good old rock n roll tune, with the big sing-a-long chorus with a nice heavy chunk towards the end. Rich Man Poor Man follows and starts with a great southern swamp style riff, and the main hook and chorus is really dirty with an awesome groove. Knocked Out By Tyson is the penultimate track and dirty funk rock part two. It’s a nod to older Electric Boys – with a little psychedelic twist – and another huge middle riff to blow your mind. The album closes out with One Of The Fallen Angels, a big epic number with a great riff and superb melody and chorus.

It’s great to have them back and with an album as good as this. They will be around for a long time.

9.5/10 from The Grooveman.

MR BUNGLE – s/t

To say that this album came out of left field would be a complete understatement. This is Faith No More’s front man Mike Patton’s side project from a variety of his perversions maybe? Who knows, but it’s very intriguing and musically stunning at times. Combining a variety of styles – and believe me, anything goes here – and interspersed with lots of weirdness (including someone doing number two’s on the porcelain palace).

You could say they took lots of references from Zappa and other avant-garde experimentalists, but you would be hard pushed to find another band like this. The putting together of lounge lizard crooning, along side metal mixed with funk, and country on Slowly Growing Deaf is total genius. The perversions are out in force on Squeeze Me Macaroni, as apparently Betty Crocker needs to be knocked up via her butter gutter. Hilarious and disturbing all at the same time.

The guitar playing of Trey Spruance is a revelation – at this point I had not heard him before. Other awesome tracks are Stub A Dub, and Love Is A Fist (I guess you can work out what that’s about), and my favourite is the absolute insanity of Carousel. Heavy metal funk avant-garde jazz at its best.

This album is not for the faint hearted, but it’s a whole lot of fun and enjoyment.

10/10 from The Grooveman.

UFO – Live In Youngstown 1978

For those of you familiar with UFO’s live album Strangers In The Night, you will be familiar with some of this recording. Strangers was captured over five nights and cobbled together to make the classic album we all know and love. This album is one of those nights in its entirety and in the correct running order. One thing you notice is that this album is a lot more raw and in your face, begging the question how many overdubs were layered onto Strangers? That doesn’t bother me that much if I’m honest, as I like this album a lot. Mr. Schenker is on fire, and it’s cool to hear this version of the band again after all these years playing their asses off. Plus, you get to hear tracks not on the original release namely, Pack It Up (And Go), Cherry, and On With The Action.

UFO were one of the best live acts around and this album is a great testament to a once great band. There are not many tracks that I don’t like by this band and all this album is killer. My favourites are Let It Roll, Natural Thing, Lights Out and the usual sing-a-longs Doctor Doctor, and Shoot Shoot. If you want a lesson in how to do hard rock, then buy yourself this (or Strangers) – you won’t regret it. It’s worth it just to hear how good Michael Schenker was around this time.

9.5/10 from The Grooveman.

ZZ TOP – Deguello

RIP Dusty Hill!!! It’s super sad news and he held the bottom end so tight in this band.

This is the band’s 6th album and quite possibly their best. This album was released after the band went into exile after the Taking Texas To The People tour, which was not that great of a success. When they returned, the image that we know and love today was born. This is still the lil old band from Texas, but they are experimenting with sounds and tones – especially with the guitars, as lost of effects are used to create moods. I Thank You highlights this perfectly, as the opening guitar riff and tone is a joy and sets up the whole album. She’s My Automobile is old school ZZ paying homage to their Texas blues roots. I’m Bad I’m Nationwide is a mix of the old and new. The old being the main sound and chorus, but the new is the killer middle eight, and the ending with Dusty and Frank holding down a funky groove while Billy G lays the sauce on the top. Killer!!! One of the best ZZ Top tunes of all time is next with Fool For Your Stockings. This is blues – but not as we know it Jim. We get the lonesome guitar and the simple bass and beat. and then that funky simple riff with that awesome dirty vocal. It’s worth the price of the album just for the instrumental section. Manic Mechanic closes out Side 1, and the experimenting is in full flow both with guitar and vocals. Great track!

Side 2 starts out with Dust My Broom, a great version of the old Robert Johnson tune. Lowdown In The Street has a dual lead vocal from Dusty and Billy and a short sharp burst blues done Texas style. Hi Fi Mama has Dusty on lead with a burst of boogie – complete with horns. Another favourite ZZ tune is next with Cheap Sunglasses. Man, this song is freaking awesome! What a stunning riff and groove. This is my favourite ZZ tune – such a dirty funky track. Great vocal, superb guitar, and killer rhythm. The album closes with Esther Be The One, which I think is as close as the band get to a love song – although maybe not. Step away from Eliminator and come down to the real ZZ Top.

I love this album and it gets a 10/10 from The Grooveman.

THE CULT – Electric

The magic third album from The Cult saw them teamed up with hotshot producer, Rick Rubin, and he dually waved his magic dust over said opus – and boom – away we go. After dabbling in goth and indie styles before this, Rubin saw the band as a meat and potatoes rock band. Everything was stripped back to the bones to give the album that super raw feel. It worked, as this was the album that really broke the band in the US.

Three singles were released from the album, Wild Flower, Lil Devil, and Love Removal Machine – and they all scored big as they were super simple. Catchy riffs, simple beats, and sing-a-long choruses – boom!!! Easy isn’t it? I know this simple stuff is not everyone’s cup of Joe, but it played to the band’s strengths as they weren’t the most technical of musicians and Rubin worked wonders. The three singles are my favourite tracks on the album, especially Lil Devil which has a great groove and swing.

8.5/10 from The Grooveman.

KANSAS – Leftoverture

Kansas are America’s finest Prog export, and purveyors of the finest melodies and grooves – it’s just that the rest of the world need to catch up on that fact. It’s hard to describe just how big the band are over this side of the pond with multi platinum albums a go go. Having got together in ’73, this is the band’s 4th album released in ’76 – and what an album it is.

First track in and it’s the band’s biggest track ever with Carry On My Wayward Son, and it doesn’t get much better than that. I think everyone will agree it’s an amazing song. The band basically revolves around the talents of multi instrumentalist and vocalist Steve Walsh, and Kerry Livgren. The Prog starts in earnest with The Wall, and other than the vocals, it sounds very British with nods to all the usual Prog influences. Why’s in My Mind is great tune with a superb melody and killer guitar. I know Cary On is an undeniable classic, but I do love Magnum Opus, a typical Prog epic in 6 parts that sees the band stretching out to cover all of their musical influences – a superb piece. I love the dual vocals of Walsh and violinist Robbie Steinhart, they sound almost medieval at times.

I still find it hard to believe that this band came out of the US as they don’t sound like any other US band, and their musical roots are firmly British.

9/10 from The Grooveman.

BULLETBOYS – Freakshow

Call them what you will: good old glamsters, flash rock n rollers, Van Halen wannabes, they were called them all by the rock press at the time, but who cares when their debut album was kick ass! So how would they do on their second album? Well, the answer is rather well – although it doesn’t quite reach the heights of the first. Again, it’s produced by Ted Templeman who squeezed every ounce of quality he could from the guys. Everything seems to be beefed up sound wise, the guitars sound huge, the separation of the rhythm section is fantastic, and Marq Torien’s vocals are right in your face.

Hell Yeah is a real kick ass tune to open things, it has a killer riff and groove. THC Groove carries on where the first track left off – a great 1, 2 opening. Thrill That Kills is a full on glam rocker – complete with sing-a-long chorus. My favourite track is next, Hang On St Christopher, with a super sleazy blues grove and swing – it adds that little element of surprise to the album. A pretty standard blues boogie is next with Talk To Your Daughter – one of the songs that falls a bit short for me. The title track closes out Side 1, and again it falls short compared to the first 4 tracks – even though Mick Swede plays some tasty licks.

Side 2 opens up with Good Girl which has a whacked out riff and is a standard rocker of the time. Do Me Raw is a return to slow and sleazy with a trickle out blues riff and groove. Ripping Me speeds things up and is as close as we get to ripping off VH on this album – it is a great tune with a fat riff. Say Your Prayers is – what I would call – a trademark Bulletboys track. Big riff, in your face vocal, and the sing-a-long chorus. Oh Me Oh My is as sleazy as it sounds and is just ok. Save the best to last they say, and it’s no exception here with the instrumental Huge. Well it does have one line “Have You Got The Balls”. I love this track and I would have bought the album just for this alone. They are great when they try some away from the norm.

8.5/10 from The Grooveman.

MONSTER TRUCK – Sittin’ Heavy

Monster Truck are Hamilton Ontario’s contribution to the whole revisiting of retro rock – and a mighty fine rock n roll band they are. This is the band’s second album, and a continuation from their first album, Furiosity. Formed back in 2011, the band’s rise as been quick – mainly due to the fact they write great songs that rock hard with big hooks and melodies.

The opening salvo of Why Are You Not Rockin’ and Don’t Tell Me How To Live will have you bouncing round your room of doom singing along. Great stuff!!! She’s A Witch has a very heavy Sabbath vibe going down at the intro, and then it breaks into an almost southern groove with a great old school solo and a killer ending. For The People has a guest appearance from Big Wreck’s Ian Thornley, and is another visit to southern territory with an almost underlying country vibe. A big shout out to Jon Harvey who has such an amazing powerful voice that really carries the tunes along.

Black Forest opens up Side 2 and slows the pace right down with a killer soulful ballad. Another Man’s Shoes has a big fat riff that grooves hard. Things Get Better is driven by the bounce of the opening piano, and again the southern vibe is very strong. If your from the GTA, then chances are you will be a Maple Leafs fan, and to have your track played after every goal the Leafs score must be an awesome event – that’s what happened with their track The Enforcer. The big sing along whoa whoa’s lend themselves to any sporting event.

Over to Side 3 we go with To The Flame, the huge fat riff gives way to a slow almost funk groove – with a vocal that reminds me of Chris Cornell. Midnight (which is a bonus track to this version) is next and has a choppy heavy riff and groove. New Souls follows and is a great modern rock song that drives and pounds hard. Enjoy The Time is the last track and has a heavy Black Crowes vibe as Side 4 is given up to the dreaded etched side – and we all know how I feel about those!

A really good record that just rocks hard and has a couple of nice slow moments that breaks up the pace nicely.

9/10 from The Grooveman.

RUSH – Grace Under Pressure

I’ll admit to not being the world’s biggest Rush fan – I can take them or leave them. For me, this was the last album that held my interest (up until Clockwork Angels), as I thought they had lost the thing that made them interesting – all because they were hell bent on changing for changes sake. For some bands and artists, this can be a good thing, as it inspires them to new heights of creativity (Steven Wilson), However, Rush lost me completely after this record.

This album was a departure for them as well, and I remember Rush fans falling over themselves to hate this record when it came out. You can identify the time this album came out by just listening to it. It’s full of all the things that were popular at the time, keyboard heavy, lots of guitar effects, spacey vocals, and it sounded almost poppy in places – it even has a bit of fast reggae with The Enemy Within. The band also wanted a change from long time producer Terry Brown, and went with a modern producer in Peter Henderson. The emphasis is more on the song than the big instrumental sections, even though there are still moments of brilliance from Lifeson on guitar. There are quite a few highlights for me on this record, the opener Distant Early Warning, The Body Electric and Kid Gloves all hit the spot. It’s quite sad that they will no longer be around as it’s another part of my youth that is no more.

9/10 from The Grooveman.

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