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Queen + Adam Lambert – Live in Kiev

On 30th June 2012 Queen played their first gig with American star, Adam Lambert, in Kiev, Ukraine. Ever since the British rock group performed with Lambert on American Idol in 2009 there has been talk of further work together. This year that promise came to fruition. The first gig the band played was in Kiev, Ukraine – where the band have previously worked to publicize an anti-aids message.

In many ways the setlist and shape of the evening did not stray far from the model that the band established with previous singer, Paul Rodgers. Lambert belted through a series of the expected hits – “I Want It All”, “Radio GaGa” and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” whilst also giving space for Brian’s rendition of “Love Of My Life” and Roger’s “A Kind Of Magic”. The traditional drum solo (with added contribution from Rufus Taylor) and guitar solo also feature.

However, it would be wrong to say that there has been no change since 2008. Unlike Paul Rodgers, Lambert supplies none of his own material and this means that there is also more space for other Queen classics, including “Who Wants To Live Forever” and a medley of 70s classics “Seven Seas Of Rhye” and “Keep Yourself Alive”. Lambert also tackles “Somebody To Love” and “Don’t Stop Me Now” – tracks that would have fallen outside the scope of the former Free frontman. Similarly Lambert skips the heavy rocking “Tie Your Mother Down” and “Hammer To Fall” that were highlights of Q+PR performances.

Brian and Roger’s performances are as polished as ever throughout the show. Just like 2005 and 2008, the band give Lambert a perfect live karaoke backing for him to sing across – the pure Queen sound is there throughout. Spike Edney is once again on keys but there is no room for Jamie Moses and Danny Miranda is replaced on bass. The more than able Rufus Taylor is drafted in to give his dad a helping hand!

Now to comment on Lambert. Prior to doing so I will state my bias, I am obviously a fan of the original line-up but am also a big fan of Paul Rodgers work with the band. Prior to seeing this I wanted to dislike Lambert’s performance for being a television show star and American etc. But, I don’t mind it. Lambert has a voice which has a similar range and style to Mercury and is closer to him than Paul Rodgers was or tried to be. Lambert can touch material Paul couldn’t and gives generally enjoyable renditions – this is a gig that I could enjoy. However, for me I do still prefer Paul out of the two. I liked the fact that Rodgers’ voice is so different to Mercury’s; this helped him put his own stamp on the material. He was also able to bring his own songs to the mix which Lambert doesn’t.

Overall this performance was enjoyable enough and I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to seeing the band should they decide to tour again. Lambert gives decent performances but they are a bit close to Freddie’s to me – more like a musical-show interpretation rather than a new band singer. The setlist is pretty much as expected but it’s good to see that the band have managed to squeeze in some material not dusted off on the last two tours. To sum Q+AL up, I’d say not great, but definitely good.

Queen + Adam Lambert – Live in Kiev 6/10



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Paul McCartney – Run Devil Run


Paul McCartney’s Run Devil Run album (1999), marked his first release following the death of his wife, Linda McMartney, a year before. This is the second 50s-focused album that McCartney has released, the other being Снова в СССР from 1988. However, unlike the 1988 album, Run Devil Run chooses not to focus on the great rock’n’roll standards, like “That’s All Right” or “Lucille”, but on more obscure cuts that McCartney, and the other Beatles, grew up with in the 1950s.

The sound on Run Devil Run varies noticeably from track to track. This may be a side-effect of the album being recorded in different sessions at different times. On the highlight tracks, and most of the numbers to be fair, the sound is pretty much spot on. The vocals are clear but well supported by the rhythm while, in the first track especially, the guitars kick in loud when they come to solo. However, there are a handful of tracks where, similar to Jerry Lee Lewis’ Youngblood, an artificial attempt at 50s echo is made. This leads to some tracks losing vocal clarity – most noticeable on “Honey Hush”.

Track List

Blue Jean Bop – This Gene Vincent classic kicks the album off at a rather steady pace. Paul starts off alone with just voice and bass before the drums kick in. This opener delivers two stinging guitar solos and overall the track starts the album with a faithful 50s sound.

She Said Yeah – One of the highlights on the album for me. Paul makes the most of his voice, kicking into ‘Little Richard’ mode to belt this one out. The speed is high, the vocals are loud and the whole thing rocks!

All Shook Up – The first track that Paul has some fun with. A catchy guitar riff kicks the track off before Paul starts to rip through. The vocals are a little OTT for me on this one, the lyrics better the suit the more suggestive tone taken by The King.

Run Devil Run – The first of Paul’s originals on the album. Named after a drug store in the US and written in a style aimed to pay tribute to Chuck Berry, this track rocks full out. The story concerns the ups and downs of a ‘holy roller’, including getting siblings out of jail and picking cotton!

No Other Baby – Paul claims that this is the ‘most obscure song on the album’ and that he ‘never had the record’. However, the song remains imprinted in his memory and Paul and the band produce a solid job on this slower, more bluesy number.

Lonesome Town – A Ricky Nelson song that, lyrically, doesn’t stray far from the “Heartbreak Hotel” territory. This is a classic early ballad and fits neatly into the “Who Will The Next Fool Be” line of piano led songs.

Try Not To Cry – The second of McCartney’s originals on the album. This is one of the least 50s sounding tracks on the album and, while its not my favorite track, it does inject some variety into the album.

Movie Magg – I prefer this cut of “Movie Magg” compared to the original by Carl Perkins. Paul keeps the general country feel of the track, but, with the less-American voice, the overall effect feels more subtle.

Brown Eyed Handsome Man – This track, like “All Shook Up”, makes a conscious effort to step away from the original – in this case the Buddy Holly version of the Chuck Berry classic. I wouldn’t say that this version is my favorite but it is quirky and different and that deserves recognition on a track this well known.

What It Is – Another stand-out track on the album and another McCartney original. This is almost early-Beatles sounding and retains that classic sound, belting vocals and is a happy, uplifting track that rocks along in its own relaxed way.

Coquette – McCartney rolls out his best Fats Domino impersonation for this bluesy number. At this stage in the album it seems important to note the overall impact on Paul these musicians had, including his singing voice. Paul’s singing stye owes a lot to Little Richard and the other 50s rockers.

I Got Stung – An obscure Elvis number. This song is really the archetypal rockabilly sound on nearly every instrument. Drum stops, key-bashing piano and faced paced chuggin’ guitars – all at max pace. The lyrics are a little forgettable and, for that reason, this track isn’t one that I race back to time and again.

Honey Hush – An pre-rock’n’roll Big Joe Turner song. I can’t say this track does much for me. The leveling is out, making lyrics hard to hear – therefore the song becomes Paul wailing over slightly overdriven guitars screeching 12-bar.

Shake A Hand – This echo-soaked slower number nudges the album towards the close. A Little Richard number that Paul picked up when in Germany with The Beatles. This song is ok but lacks the oomph or impact of some of the highlights of the album.

Party – Another obscure Elvis number, this time from the movie, Loving You. The song is upbeat, happy and paced to make you dance. This makes is ideal to close out this album – a celebration of the 50s and the great rock’n’roll music.

Overall, Run Devil Run is an enjoyable, rocking album. Most of Paul’s singing and performances sound fresh and the band is tight and rockin’. There are a few tracks that I’m largely indifferent about but the tracks that are absolutely top-notch more than make up for that. A final reflection on rock’n’roll albums: Part of the challenge I think is knowing when to stop – too short an album and the customer feels cheated, too long and album and sub-par tracks sneak in; aren’t we a tough lot to please!

Paul McCartney – Run Devil Run – 6/10

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Jerry Lee Lewis – Live At Third Man Records


Live At Third Man Records is the Killer’s first full concert release album in the 21st Century. Picked and produced by Jack White, of The White Stripes, the album is one of a series where the famous guitarist has worked with legends including rockabilly pioneer, Wanda Jackson. For this gig a specially selected band was put together. Jerry Lee’s producer Jim Keltner drummed and his long-time guitarist, Kenny Lovelace, led the band. The line-up is completed by Steve Cropper on guitar and Jack Lawrence on bass.

The album is representative of a regular Jerry Lee Lewis show from almost any point post-2005. I think this fact is a mixed bag. Firstly, I’m glad that there is a documented record of a ‘regular’ 21st century gig but it obviously misses the excitement of something new and rare. Perhaps there was space for a double-album, this record and something with some prepped songs in, like “Mean Old Man” or “A Couple More Years”. This however would rely on The Killer putting the prep work in, something he’s not famed for!

The sound of the album for me is mixed. The overall sound is very strong, clean and clear – something that is always a positive for a live record, this doesn’t sound like a posh bootleg. However, at times, unless Jerry was bashing the top notes, the piano got lost – especially in some of his more intricate playing in songs like “Before The Night Is Over”. The overall band sound is very tight; Jim Keltner supplies a great rhythm for Jerry to work over and this is well supplemented by the rest of the band.

Track List

Down The Line  – Following a short intro, this rock’n’roll classic kicks the gig off. The track is a moderately fast pace and the age of Jerry does show on the vocals without them being weak. The piano solos may not fall into the ‘inspired’ category but it neat and sharp none-the-less, no missed notes here. Both Steve Cropper and Kenny Lovelace supply solid guitar solos and fills. The band here is tight and sharp and Jerry’s performance outshines that of the Killer Piano DVD.

Georgia On My Mind – Barely space for a breath before Jerry kicks into this Ray Charles classic. Cropper fills in some classy licks throughout this track as Kenny sticks largely to chord strumming until his solo. In his singing Jerry seems to shape the longer notes better than I’ve heard on some other recent recordings, they’re neither cut dead short nor extended till he runs out of breath.

Drinking Wine, Spo-dee-O-dee – This song is ironically caught out by the neat little riff that Jerry brings it in with. The riff itself is classy but it sets the song off at a pedestrian pace that it never recovers from. Some of the piano is lost a little in the mid-range notes during the solo. This song is one of the weakest on the album with nothing really lifting it from its middle-of-the-road nature.

Before The Night Is Over – could have come from any gig from 2006 onwards. Nether-the-less, the Killer puts out a solid performance on this one. The more complex beat in this track shows Keltner off to his best; the only downside here is that Jerry’s tight, fast piano solo sounds a bit muddy in the mix.

Why You Been Gone So Long? – An undoubted highlight from the album and the subject of TMR’s promo video. The track kicks off at a fair pace with both the piano solos and guitar solo, supplied by Steve Cropper, being tight and sharp. Cropper’s contribution here, after Kenny nods him in, is a real highlight of the track.

I Wish I Was Eighteen Again – The second slow song on the album after “Georgia”. The melody of this track starkly reveals the age in Lewis’ voice but, given the lyrics of the song, this isn’t necessarily too much of a problem. Like “Georgia”, this track lacks any sort of a solo.

Sweet Little Sixteen – One of the stronger rockers on the album, Jerry kicks this track off at a good pace and keeps it going throughout. Already in the gig, his voice seems weaker than it did on the earlier tracks – perhaps part of the reason that his gigs now rarely tip over the 45 minute mark. Both the piano and guitar solos are the classic expected but both are played well.

You Belong To Me – This classic cut has been a regular throughout Jerry’s career and is one of the decreasing repertoire that the Killer stills keeps access to. As ever on this track, Kenny’s solo is a real highlight; other than little of note here – not because the track is badly played but because it is played very often.

She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye – One of only three ‘hits’ that features in the album. This rendering of the 1970 classic again could have come from any good gig from about 2005 onwards – a good rendering though and, once again, Jerry’s voice holds up well.

Mexicali Rose – This song has become one of the strongest in Jerry’s recent years repertoire and its another stand-out item on this album. I think pace is so vital to many of Jerry’s songs and the pace is not only good here but it doesn’t lead to any missed notes the piano solo. Overall a great rendering of this track which isn’t spoiled by a guitar duel which, when listening back to a gig, just leads to a messy overall sound.

Great Balls Of Fire – The sign that the end is nigh. This is the short, ‘Sun’, version of the track. performed well and loved by the crowd. The ‘whoop’ from the crowd shows that its the hits, naturally, that the crowd know and love.

Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin On – ‘If you like that one, you’re gonna lurv this one!’ and so into “Whole Lotta Shakin” we go. The song is as you’d expect really, classic solos abound, both on piano and guitar, and the crowd love it. These two songs are the first where you really notice the crowd as part of the gig. Cue finger wiggling, smashed top keys, a cheer and all that’s left is time for Kenny’s thanks for ‘the guys on the sound and the lights’. Before you know it, it’s all over!

Overall I must return to how I kicked this review off. This could be almost any gig from 2005 onwards and this both the pro and con of the album. The performances are strong, Jerry comfortably outplays and outsings his live performances from “Killer Piano” but we know tracks off-by-heart, with the only nuances being the solos of Steve Cropper rather than Buck. This perhaps opens the debate on how well served Jerry would be by a stronger band and by varied setlists for tours. However this is being written in a time where its quite possible that Jerry will never again grace a stage. Be thankful for what you’ve got and enjoy this solid, if unspectacular rock’n’roll feast.

Jerry Lee Lewis -Live At Third Man Records- 7/10

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New John Fogerty Album Due


In an exclusive interview with Mojo Magazine, John Fogerty has announced that he has a new album coming out in Autumn, 2012.

This is set to be a duet’s album, including re-workings of some of Fogerty’s self-penned classics with Creedence Clearwater Revival. Full details of the album are not yet clear but the article states that one of the duet partners is the rock band, Foo Fighters and one of the tracks to be featured is “Lookin’ Out My Backdoor”.

See Mojo Magazine for more details!

(Report courtesy of Mojo Magazine)

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Lee Rocker – Night Train To Memphis


2012’s Night Train To Memphis is Rocker’s new album following last year’s Cover Sessions EP. In the build-up to the album Rocker claimed that this would be his stamp on his favourite rockabilly classics and cuts from his career with Stray Cats. The tracks that he’s picked to cover certainly span his career from his early Stray Cats days, and before, to his working with Carl Perkins, something he reflected on when playing his brother, Jay Perkins, in Million Dollar Quartet.

The sound on Night Train To Memphis is not far removed from that on The Cover Session EP. Lee’s band play more of a role on this album and the overall sound is tilted more towards the rockabilly end of the spectrum. However, Lee has not lost all of the country flavour that marked out his last album. The country sounds pop up in some unexpected places on the album which I’ll cover in the track-by-track. Generally, the sound on the sound on the album is crisp, clean and very well levelled.

Track List

Rockabilly Boogie (Burnette, Burnette, Mortimer & Hawkins) – Rocker leaves no doubt as to his primary instrument as a thoroughly-slapped bass kicks this album off! The lyrics of this track make it one of my less appreciated on the album as I always feel rockabilly songs about rockabilly are a little thin. However, both guitarists and Lee are in fine form on this track so there’s still something for the instrumentalists to enjoy, even if the  solos are tantalizingly short.

Night Train To Memphis (Acuff) – The second track on the album starts off with a more gentle acoustic feel with one semi adding almost slide-guitar style riffs. Lee’s voice and tone suit this song perfectly and in many ways it reminds me of some of the gentler stuff on Lee’s strongest album, Black Cat Bone. Look out for the Luther Perkins-style guitar solo.

Slap The Bass (Rocker) – When I first heard the sample for this track I feared that this going to be Lee’s attempt at “Rockabilly Boogie” type song which had little originality in it and generally wouldn’t appeal. I must say that I’m pleasantly surprised by a number where Buzz Campbell’s jazzy playing and Comets-style riffs keeps proceedings interesting and adds a good deal of cool spice.

Twenty Flight Rock (Fairchild) –  I must start off on a controversial note here and say I generally don’t like Stray Cats’ covers of Eddie Cochran songs! I know this may sound very odd, with Cochran being a key influence on the band, but, to me, they miss that sense of cool Eddie had in his singing. To me, Cochran always sounded slightly laid back in most of his singing, like there was always another gear he could push on to but never used. The Cats however, tend to go for all out hell-for-leather covers that then lose that sense of cool. That said, this is a fair cover and one of the better efforts a Cat has made a covering an Eddie Cochran classic.

Wild Child (O’Keefe) – This version of “Wild Child” takes its inspiration most strongly from the cut that Jerry Lee Lewis recorded when he was at sun records and was also a track Brian Setzer chose for his covers album, Rockabilly Riot. Unlike Setzer, Rocker chooses to leave the piano at home at home for this track and it becomes a guitar led rockin’ chugger. Considering that two of the Cats have chosen to cover this song, it seems odd that it’s not surfaced on either any Stray Cats live album that I’ve heard, nor on the Stray Cats’ Original Cool.

Honey Don’t (Perkins) – This track is perhaps the closest to the original of any on the album. Having worked with Carl Perkins in the 1980s, I think this track is intended as a direct tribute to Mr Blue Suede Shoes. Overall, a strong performance where Buzz Campbell shines in particular through his delicate finger picking and rhythm playing.

That’s Alright / Blue Moon (Crudup / Monroe) – A medley of these tracks has been a regular staple of Lee’s career and he has released a live version on Burnin’ Love and Blue Suede Nights. This rendering is very much a studio recording of how Lee has played this live without the bass solo as the songs pass from one to the other.

Tear In My Beer (Williams) – My least favored track on the album. This is a strong country-and-western flavored track that would have felt at home in Rocker’s previous release. For me, this is too country and also it strikes me as being some of Williams’ weakest writing when compared to his other compositions, such as “You Win Again” or “Lost Highway”.

Lonesome Tears (Holly) – A relatively hidden gem in Buddy Holly’s catalogue is wonderfully brought to life by Lee Rocker. At this point I must mention the strength of Lee’s guitarists in referencing the styles of various 50s guitarists as various Tommy Allsup licks are spread over this track. Again, this is faithful to the original song and Lee’s vocals are top-notch.

Built For Speed (Setzer) – A interesting, quirky cover of this Stray Cats staple. When the album was originally advertised I expected several straight runs of Stray Cats classics with Lee singing. However, we have one, and straight it isn’t! The primary instrument here is not a chugging Gretsch but a banjo and an acoustic taking back towards Cover Session territory. A definite grower and an interesting twist to a track that any Stray Cats aficionado can hum in their sleep!

So Sad (Smith) – The first of a pair of Everly Brothers classics that see out the album. The two tracks together give a gentle, soulful close to the album and I feel give a timely nod to the Everlys, who are easily forgotten on much of the rockabilly scene.

All I Have To Do Is Dream (Bryant and Bryant) – This is another recent staple of Lee’s gigs. From what I’ve seen, the song is performed live by Lee and Buzz Campbell singing together Everly-style. However, on the record the whole band is in place. In this faithful covering it’s hard to tell if the second voice is Rocker overdubbed or Campbell supporting the, clearly, Rocker vocal lead. My guess is that it’s the former.

Overall I prefer Night Train To Memphis to its predecessor as I prefer the stronger rockabilly stamp that this album holds. Night Train To Memphis is an enjoyable listen where all the musicians shine and the performances are generally strong. However, after two covers releases, I’m now looking forward to hearing more original material from Rocker that can match the superb serving we got on Black Cat Bone.

Lee Rocker – Night Train To Memphis – 7/10


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