Uli Jon Roth to perform at Narrows Center in Fall River, Mass.

Former Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth will make his debut performance at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on May 19, 2020. This is only the second time in Roth’s long career that he’s performed in Massachusetts. Purchase tickets HERE.

The musical career of guitar virtuoso Uli Jon Roth spans an amazing five decades. As an artist, Uli is a phenomenon and his unique set of artistic talents has gained him an international reputation as a musical visionary and innovator early on in his career. Having not only explored the world of rock music with the Scorpions and written symphonies for orchestras, Roth has recently come full circle to re-connect with his roots.

This time, the trail blazing German-born guitar genius of Scorpions fame presents us with a very different way of experiencing his music. Supported by an integrated multi-media show, Uli will fire on all cylinders simultaneously like a passionate scientist who is totally dedicated to his unrelenting quest for manifesting beautiful music with the power to be uplifting, inspirational and spellbinding.

The choice of music for INTERSTELLAR SKY GUITAR is inspired and guaranteed to create an exciting journey through Uli’s intriguing musical world. The journey crosses over from both classical and baroque master pieces – such as Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and Mozart, Bach and Beethoven – to new music by Uli written for his 9-string Flamenco Sky Guitar as well as excerpts from a new Sky Guitar Concerto. The concert finishes with several pieces from Uli’s Scorpions and Electric Sun days, complete with exciting new orchestrations and different arrangements.

Uli’s signature tool of expression is the legendary Sky Guitar which he invented and on which he will perform. These stunningly designed six-octave instruments have a far greater tonal range than traditional guitars, allowing Uli to equal the range of the violin and the cello. The main star of the collection is the stunning state-of-the art Excalibur 7-string Sky Guitar and the new 9-String Flamenco Sky Guitar, for which Uli has recently written a whole series of beautiful new pieces and which he will showcase for the first time on this tour.

This epic musical journey is bridging the creative worlds of classical, ethnic and rock music in an unprecedented way. Experience the pinnacle of great guitar playing of the first order and allow yourself to be transported into other dimensions of music on Starship Uli.

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets can be purchase online at narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

Photo - Uli Jon Roth 1

Limelight Magazine’s 2020 Oscar predictions

It’s Oscar night 2020! Since we screened all of the films in the major categories this year, we are going to make our predictions for who will win and who should win. We also noted who should have been nominated but was snubbed by the Academy. The last time we did this was 2017 and we did surprisingly well with our predictions. However, this year was much more difficult with some categories having no clear cut winners in our opinion. For those four categories we didn’t view all of the films (Documentary-Short & Feature, Animated-Short & Feature), we didn’t make a prediction.

 BEST PICTURE

“Ford v Ferrari”

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Joker”

“Little Women”

“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

“Marriage Story”

“Parasite”

“1917”

Who will win? 1917

Who should win? Parasite

Who should have been nominated? Uncut Gems

 

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Kathy Bates, “Richard Jewell”

Laura Dern, “Marriage Story”

Scarlett Johansson, “Jojo Rabbit”

Florence Pugh, “Little Women”

Margot Robbie, “Bombshell”

Who will win? Laura Dern

Who should win? Kathy Bates

Who should have been nominated? Jennifer Lopez, Hustlers

 

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Tom Hanks, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

Anthony Hopkins, “The Two Popes”

Al Pacino, “The Irishman”

Joe Pesci, “The Irishman”

Brad Pitt, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

Who will win? Brad Pitt

Who should win? Joe Pesci

Who should have been nominated? Willem Dafoe, The Lighthouse

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

South Korea, “Parasite”

Spain, “Pain and Glory”

France, “Les Misérables”

North Macedonia, “Honeyland”

Poland, “Corpus Christi”

Who will win? Parasite

Who should win? Parasite

Who should have been nominated? Never Look Away

 

DOCUMENTARY (SHORT)

“In the Absence”

“Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl)”

“Life Overtakes Me”

“St. Louis Superman”

“Walk Run Cha-Cha”

We did not view any films in this category.

 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

“American Factory”

“The Edge of Democracy”

“Honeyland”

“For Sama”

“The Cave”

We did not view any films in this category.

 

ORIGINAL SONG

“I’m Standing With You,” “Breakthrough”

“Into the Unknown,” “Frozen II”

“Stand Up,” “Harriet”

“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again,” “Rocketman”

“I Can’t Let You Throw Yourself Away,” “Toy Story 4”

Who will win? “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”

Who should win? “(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”

 

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

“How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World”

“I Lost My Body”

“Klaus”

“Missing Link”

“Toy Story 4”

We did not view any films in this category.

 

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Little Women”

“The Two Popes”

“Joker”

Who will win? JoJo Rabbit

Who should win? Little Women

Who should have been nominated: Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep

 

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

“Marriage Story”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“Parasite”

“Knives Out”

“1917”

Who will win? Parasite

Who should win? Parasite

 

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Antonio Banderas, “Pain and Glory”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”

Adam Driver, “Marriage Story”

Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker”

Jonathan Pryce, “The Two Popes”

Who will win? Joaquin Phoenix

Who should win? Joaquin Phoenix

Who should have been nominated? Adam Sandler, Uncut Gems

 

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Cynthia Erivo, “Harriet”

Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story”

Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women”

Renée Zellweger, “Judy”

Charlize Theron, “Bombshell”

Who will win? Renee Zellweger

Who should win? Renee Zellweger

Who should have been nominated? Lupita Nyong’o, Us

 

DIRECTOR

Martin Scorsese, “The Irishman”

Quentin Tarantino, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

Bong Joon-ho, “Parasite”

Sam Mendes, “1917”

Todd Phillips, “Joker”

Who will win? Sam Menders

Who should win? Bong Joon-ho

Who should have been nominated? Greta Gerwig, Little Women

 

PRODUCTION DESIGN

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“The Irishman”

“1917”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Parasite”

Who will win? 1917

Who should win? Once Upon A Time in Hollywood

 

CINEMATOGRAPHY

“1917”

“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

“The Irishman”

“Joker”

“The Lighthouse”

Who will win? 1917

Who should win? 1917

 

COSTUME DESIGN

“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

“Little Women”

“The Irishman”

“Jojo Rabbit”

“Joker”

Who will win? Little Women

Who should win? Little Women

 

SOUND EDITING

“1917”

“Ford v Ferrari”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

“Joker”

Who will win? 1917

Who should win? Ford v. Ferrari

 

SOUND MIXING

“1917”

“Ford v Ferrari”

“Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood”

“Ad Astra”

“Joker”

Who will win? 1917

Who should win? Ford v. Ferrari

 

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

“Dcera (Daughter)”

“Hair Love”

“Kitbull”

“Memorable”

“Sister”

We did not view any films in this category.

 

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

“Brotherhood”

“Nefta Football Club”

“The Neighbors’ Window”

“Saria”

“A Sister”

Who will win? Brotherhood

Who should win? Saria

 

ORIGINAL SCORE

“1917,” Thomas Newman

“Joker,” Hildur Guðnadóttir

“Little Women,” Alexandre Desplat

“Marriage Story,” Randy Newman

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” John Williams

Who will win? Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir

Who should win? Joker, Hildur Guðnadóttir

Who should have been nominated? Us, Michael Abels

 

VISUAL EFFECTS

“Avengers: Endgame”

“The Lion King”

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

“The Irishman”

“1917”

Who will win? 1917

Who should win? Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

 

FILM EDITING

“The Irishman”

“Ford v Ferrari”

“Parasite”

“Joker”

“Jojo Rabbit”

Who will win? Ford v. Ferrari

Who should win? Parasite

 

MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING

“Bombshell”

“Joker”

“Judy”

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

“1917”

Who will win? Bombshell

Who should win? The Joker

The Cassette Chronicles – KISS’s ‘Revenge’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

KISS – REVENGE (1992)

This week’s article is once again courtesy of me having listened to this album first on CD. I have been slowly acquiring the Kiss catalog on CD and my friend Jeff from Georgia had found me a copy of Revenge on disc on one of his many jaunts to the various record shops where he finds material.

When I played the CD version of the album, I was just kind of listening for fun. I had the cassette edition in the Big Box of Cassettes and planned to listen to that in order to write this article. When I mentioned to Jeff that I was listening to Revenge, he responded by saying that he liked half the album which meant that I would probably like the stuff he didn’t like. (It would seem everyone has discovered my contrarian musical nature by now.)

The album is jam-packed with 12 songs but the song “God Gave Rock ‘n Roll To You II” (a remake of the song originally done by British band Argent) was actually released in 1991 as part of the soundtrack for the movie Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. However, when Revenge came out about a year later, the song was included on the album’s first side.

I’m pretty sure that I liked the song when it was originally released but over the years I’ve come to find it rather annoying. I don’t know, it just seems to be a little over the top (even for Kiss) and overplayed as well. This is a sad realization for me because apparently Gene Simmons considers the song as a testament to drummer Eric Carr, who died soon after the song was released on the movie soundtrack.

Still, the album does start off pretty strongly. The song “Unholy” opens up things and I loved the heavier feeling to the music and the vocal performance from Simmons. The songs “Spit” and “Domino” are outstanding heavy rockers as well. The latter song is one of my “latter day” favorite tracks from the band.

The other two songs on Side One are “Take It Off” and “Tough Love”. Since I hadn’t heard the album in full before now, most of the material including these tracks are new to me. I loved the guitar work from Bruce Kulick on “Take It Off” in particular. While I thought “Tough Love” certainly captured the energetic feeling you get from pretty much any Kiss rocker, I ended up not being fully crazy about the song as a whole. I’m not quite sure why it didn’t hit home with me though.

The second side of Revenge an almost entirely new listening experience for me. The band kept up their high-wire rocking pace for most of the songs on the album but they did go the ballad route with “Every Time I Look At You”. However, I really wish they hadn’t because I didn’t care for the song at all.

Other than that though, Side Two was chock full of some great songs. Some of the vocals on side opener “Heart of Chrome” seemed to get swallowed up in the mix but the song was good enough that I didn’t really get too upset about that. The closing track was an instrumental by Eric Carr called “Carr Jam 1981”. It was pretty good overall and I wonder how it would’ve progressed had it been intended for a full song.

In between those tracks, the band hit full bore rocking with songs like “Thou Shalt Not”, which was a killer track. However, “Paralyzed” topped that with an even more intensely blazing intensity. And the one song that I had at least a passing familiarity with was “I Just Wanna” which tickled all sorts of buttons for me.

While there were a couple of tracks that I didn’t like all that much, Revenge is definitely an enjoyable album for me. Much to what I’m sure will be my friend Jeff’s chagrin, I liked fully more than half the album and I think this will be one of the Kiss albums that I end up playing a lot more as time goes by.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album went gold for the band. It is the final album to feature any contributions from drummer Eric Carr. As noted earlier in the article, he had passed away before the album was released. Revenge is dedicated to him. While he was in the video for the “God Gave Rock ‘n Roll To You II”, he didn’t actually record the drum tracks for the song (he did contribute backing vocals). Instead, it was Eric Singer behind the kit and when Carr died, Kiss hired Singer full-time and he performed the material on Revenge with the exception of the song “Take It Off” and of course, “Carr Jam 1981”. Guitarist Bruce Kulick re-recorded the guitar parts on the “Carr Jam 1981” instrumental which had been originally played by Ace Frehley. Oddly enough, the riff in the song (according to the album’s write up on Wikipedia) ended up being used by Frehley for his 1987 Frehley’s Comet song “Breakout”.

Before Revenge was recorded, guitarist Vinnie Vincent had made up with both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. He wrote songs with both of them. But before the album’s release he’d fallen out with the band again and his only credit on the album turned out to be the co-write on “Unholy”. Paul Stanley co-wrote “Take It Off” with producer Bob Ezrin and Alice Cooper guitarist Kane Roberts. Meanwhile, the solo in the song “Every Time I Look At You” was played by Dick Wagner, who also played guitar with Alice Cooper.

RICHIE KOTZEN TO PERFORM AT VAULT MUSIC HALL IN NEW BEDFORD, MA

To coincide with his 50th birthday, Richie Kotzen is embarking on a solo tour with his band that will make a stop at the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, Mass., on Saturday, June 20th. Tickets are on-sale now and can be purchased by clicking HERE.

With guitar styles ranging from rock, blues, jazz and fusion to pop and soul, Richie Kotzen has built a remarkably diverse career as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. During that span, he has not only built an incredibly successful solo career, but has also found himself writing, recording and playing live with a variety of different artists, ranging from rock bands like The Winery Dogs, Poison and Mr. Big to jazz/fusion groups like Vertu featuring Kotzen and jazz legends Stanley Clarke and Lenny White.

A prolific songwriter, Richie has written several songs that have gone on to become hit singles around the world. His song “Stand.” written while a member of Poison, reached the top 20 on the Billboard charts. As the lead single off of their album NATIVE TONGUE, “Stand” was the catalyst for the album reaching platinum status. While with Mr. Big, Richie also enjoyed another milestone, having his song “Shine” reach #1 in both Europe and Japan.

Richie continues to make amazing records and to tour around the world, playing stadiums, festivals, and clubs. His current tours have spanned several continents, including North America, Europe, South America and Asia. He has played with many other well known musicians, has performed on television programs such as “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Live with Regis and Kelly,” and continues to appear in countless books, magazines and websites, being acknowledged as one of the top guitarists in the world!

Having recently celebrated his 50th birthday, Kotzen is spending the entire year celebrating in as large of a way as possible to make it his biggest and most memorable birthday yet.

50 FOR 50—his 22nd solo album—has just been released on Feb 3rd via his own custom label, HeadroomInc. The self-produced three-disc collection is just what the title implies: a collection of 50 previously unreleased compositions produced, performed and written by Kotzen in honor of his birthday. It’s the follow-up to his critically acclaimed SALTING EARTH album, which was released April 14, 2017 via Headroom-Inc.

Although Kotzen has been hailed as a guitar virtuoso since the release of his first album, it is his emotional lead vocal delivery and diverse songwriting style that separates him from his peers thanks in large part to artists that influenced him in the Philly Soul R&B to Jazz, Rock, Funk, and Fusion Guitar genres. 50 FOR 50 captures the full artistic scope of what makes Richie Kotzen such a unique artist.

“The idea of a 50 song album came to me while I was on tour sometime last year,” Kotzen explains. “I had completed what would have been your typical 10 to 12 song album and was anticipating a 2020 release. Somewhere along the line, I discovered a few completed songs that for whatever reason were never released. Along with that, I found a massive collection of material that was in various forms of completion. Some songs had drums bass and piano with no vocal, other songs were nothing more than a bass line and a vocal melody and so on. I decided to take that summer and fall, stay in the studio, and see how many of these ideas I could bring to completion. The concept was to include the already completed works and finish the other ideas and then stop once I reached 50 songs. Reality is we’ve got way more sitting on the hard drives waiting for attention. I figured if I can walk out of the studio with 50 songs (that I like) mixed and mastered, I can release a 50 song package on my 50th birthday.”

The Vault Music Hall is located at located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, Mass. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. The show is 21+ with valid I.D.

Photo by By Larry Dimarzio

The Cassette Chronicles – Great White’s ‘Hooked’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

GREAT WHITE – HOOKED (1991)

The impetus for selecting Great White’s Hooked album for this week’s article came not from reaching into the Big Box of Cassettes like so many other pieces in this series. No, this time it actually came about from a big bag of CDs that I bought at a flea market a year or so ago.

I hadn’t gotten around to listening to many of those purchases yet but in the midst of doing some straightening up of my various CDs, I looked into the bag and realized that I had a copy of Hooked on disc. I’d completely forgotten that I bought it but I ended up listening to it and was going to write about it for a message board where I post brief CD reviews.

But then I remembered that I have a cassette copy of the album. I bought the cassette edition of the album when it originally came out so I dug it out and thanks to some unscheduled down time at the day job, gave it another listen in order to turn it into the article you are now reading.

After the big success of 1987’s Once Bitten and 1989’s …Twice Shy, I know that I was really looking forward to Hooked being released. I remember seeing ads in the magazines I read at the time. When I got my hands on the album, I really enjoyed it but only played it a few times for reasons that have slipped my mind by now.

1991 was well into the fading commercial fortunes of 80’s metal and Hooked was far less successful for Great White than its two album predecessors, even though the album did get pretty good critical reviews. By giving the album a new listen (or three) I came to realize that Hooked was a damn good album that rivals the band’s two best known releases and might even surpass them in some respects (if you add in their spectacular 1999 album Can’t Get There From Here, you’ve got the quartet of what I think is their best material).

The album opens up with a couple of stone cold killer rockers in “Call It Rock N’ Roll” and “The Original Queen of Sheba”. The latter of those two songs is just a ballsy rocker that you can really sink your teeth into. However, “Call It Rock N’ Roll” perfectly encapsulates all that made Great White such a hot band for the latter part of the “Metal Years”.

While “Cold-Hearted Lovin'” has a uptempo groove to it, there’s also a sly bluesier side to the music that makes it that much more of an endearing song to me. The first of the two cover songs on the album is “Shake It” from The Angels but Great White did a fantastic job of making the song it’s own.

Say what you want about the band’s Led Zeppelin pretensions but the combination of Jack Russell’s voice and the strong guitar work from Mark Kendall (as well as Michael Lardie, who co-wrote six of the ten tracks on the album as well as co-producing it) gave the band a signature sound in their own right. You couldn’t hear Jack Russell singing and not think, “That’s a Great White song!”

The first side of the album closes out with a shockingly good ballad called “Lovin’ Kind”. It’s good songwriting from start to finish that comes alive with Russell’s vocal performance and a chorus that resonates with the listener.

“Heartbreaker” opens side two of the album and the song mixes a slower pace with more of a rocking beat back and forth during the song. But it was the next song up that really scored big with me. “Congo Square” has a great rhythmic vibe to it while simultaneously feeling as if the band was purposely restraining their full power until they unleashed it as the song moved towards its ending. There’s a long guitar solo on the outro that is just COOL!

“Desert Moon” might be the album’s best remembered song given that it served as their concert opener for a number of years. The strengths of the song haven’t faded over time and if I was to ever see the band live again (I saw them on the …Twice Shy tour) I would love to hear the song performed.

An ode to one’s hometown makes for a fun, slick and playful party atmosphere on “South Bay Cities”. Even when I first heard the song when the album came out, this song stood out to me for some reason.

A cover of The Small Faces song “Afterglow” closes out the album and while it is a much more mellow fade out than I normally prefer, this song was just amazingly done here and I couldn’t fault anything about the choice in song or placement in the running order.

My fandom for Great White didn’t start until I first heard “Rock Me” from the Once Bitten album. I eventually heard their earliest stuff but I found that stuff just OK. Nothing wrong with it per se, but it never stuck with me as much as their more noteworthy releases. I understand the reasons for the band’s fading commercial fortunes with the changing musical climate and then later their involvement with the nightclub fire and bitter breakups with singer Jack Russell. But if you go back and listen now, you will find that Hooked is a great rock and roll album that deserved a far better fate than it ended up getting.

NOTES OF INTEREST: While less successful commercially, the album did eventually get certified gold. More impressive is that they did it without a bonafide hit single. “Desert Moon” got some single airplay but nothing that made a real dent in the charts or anything.

The original cover art featured the full naked female model on a hook over water. However, it was eventually replaced by a version that showed just the model’s head and arms on the hook.

The 2005 Japanese remastered release included 4 bonus tracks as well as an 11-track live CD.

Hooked was the last album to feature Tony Montana as the band’s bassist.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “MAUSOLEUM” (1983)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine will spotlight the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films. Today we spotlight some of the filming locations for the 1983 movie Mausoleum which was directed by Michael Dugan. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath is what the location looks like today.

The mausoleum and gravestones from this movie are located inside Evergreen Cemetery, 204 North Evergreen Avenue, Los Angeles, CA.

The Cassette Chronicles – The Firm’s ‘Mean Business”

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

THE FIRM – MEAN BUSINESS (1986)

After having a gold album with their self-titled debut album and a big radio hit with the song “Radioactive”, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the “super group” put together by Bad Company singer Paul Rodgers and Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page would regroup for another release.

And yet despite that pedigree, it seems to me that on a personal level and in the grander musical scheme of things, The Firm never did quite get too much of a big deal made out of them. The personal angle for me comes about because while I remember loving the hell out that “Radioactive” song, I never heard anything else by the band. Or at least so I thought.

And that’s where Mean Business comes into play. Hell, I don’t think I even realized that the band had done a second album until I was sent a copy of it from my friend Jeff in Georgia. As I listened to it, I realized that I actually had heard “All The King’s Horses” before. But since I didn’t own the album until recently, I’m pretty sure that I must’ve just heard it on the radio over the past few…ahem…decades.

That song is on the first side of the eight song album and while it is the most recognizable track, there’s actually quite a good mix of bluesy rock and roll to discover here. The band’s leadership came from Page and Rodgers but with Tony Franklin on bass and Chris Slade on drums, all the musical bases were covered with the lineup. While Page and Rodgers wrote and/or co-wrote the majority of this album together, Franklin is credited with writing the song “Dreaming”.

The album opens with a stone cold killer in the rocking number “Fortune Hunter”. Musically, it just burns from start to finish. I was a tiny bit unhappy with the production sound on the vocal track though. At first I thought that maybe the tape was warped or something but as it turns out, it was the track itself. Whatever decision was decided on to put a slightly heavier bit of production layering on the vocals, it wasn’t quite as successful as one might’ve hoped for. Still, leaving that aside, even Rodgers vocals come up pretty strong.

I wasn’t crazy however about the music for “Cadillac”. The slow and plodding tempo may have lent itself to the track sounding a bit heavier but it just didn’t really work for me overall. I will say that I did like the drums from Slade on this track, they got a bit more spotlight here.

Meanwhile, “Live In Peace” has a finely crafted solo at the end of the track that amplifies it as a whole.

Side two has a rocking opener in “Tear Down The Walls” and I liked “Free To Live” well enough as well. But I really enjoyed the album’s final song “Spirit Of Love”. It already had everything you could’ve asked for with an uptempo pace but throw in some great guitar playing (naturally), an impressive vocal take (again, naturally) and then enhance all that with an accompanying choir providing backing vocals and this song just soars.

I’m a huge fan of Paul Rodgers from his time with Bad Company and Free. That’s not much of a surprise. Neither is the fact that I love Jimmy Page from his Led Zeppelin days. But I think it is safe to say that I’ve really not given any of their other projects nearly the look-see that they definitely deserve. The fact that they are together on this album shows that they not only worked well together but put out some quality music in their brief collaboration. It is definitely in my and your best interests to reconsider taking the time to check out what they have to offer outside of the bands that made them famous. Mean Business is a pretty good place to start.

NOTES OF INTEREST: This album was the final studio album for The Firm. Drummer Chris Slade would go on to play for AC/DC while Tony Franklin would join up with John Sykes and Carmine Appice in the band Blue Murder. Meanwhile, Rodgers and Page have done far too many things for me to list here but if you look them up online, you will find a wealth of material to check out.

The song “Live In Peace” was originally recorded for the Paul Rodgers solo album Cut Loose. The version on this album is different than that version. Oh, and the Cut Loose album will be a future Cassette Chronicles article.

“Fortune Hunter” was initially written by Jimmy Page and Yes bassist Chris Squire for a project they were working on in the early 80’s. The project got shelved and Page resurrected the song for this album. However, this version of the song is credited as a co-write between Page and Paul Rodgers, not Chris Squire.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!