01). Captain Beyond - I Can't Feel Nothin'
Anybody who professes to enjoy classic 70's hard rock needs to have this album in his or her collection. The track was taken from the band's self-titled debut album, released in 1972. Vocalist Rod Evans had been a founding member of Deep Purple in the late 60's. Like bassist Nick Simper, who left to form Warhorse, Evans appeared on Deep Purple's first three albums, "Shades of Deep Purple", "Book of Taliesyn" and "Deep Purple", between 1968 and 1969. Joining him on guitar and bass respectively were Larry "Rhino" Rheinhart and Lee Dorman, both ex-Iron Butterfly, and drummer Bobby Caldwell, who'd been in Johnny Winter's band. Signing to the Capricorn label, this US outfit's debut album was a classic in every sense of the word. Caldwell's drumming is as crisp and precise as you like, and Rhino's guitar work is the album's highlight throughout. Their second album, "Sufficiently Breathless" came out the following year. Markedly less "rocky" than the debut, it was nonetheless a very good offering from the band, which now featured Marty Rodriguez on drums, in place of Armageddon-bound Bobby Caldwell (stand by for something from THAT brilliant band in the weeks to come!), Paul Hornsby on keyboards, Guille Garcia on percussion and Reese Wynans on piano. Captain Beyond unfortunately then split up.
Fortunately, they reformed in 1977, and released "Dawn Explosion", on Warner Brothers Records. It was a brilliant album, almost on a par with the debut. Caldwell was now back in the fold, together with Rhino and Dorman. Willie Daffern (ex-Hunger and the sadly underrated Truk) handled the vocals. This was an unfortunately short-lived reformation as the band split for good in the late 70's, with Daffern later appearing with jazz keyboard player Joachim Kuhn in 1978 and then with Gary Moore in G-Force in 1980 (and much later with ZoomLenz). The late 90's saw the band reform once again, with Ryno (as his nickname was now spelt) and Bobby Caldwell, with a vocalist called Jimi Interval. They played the live circuit and went down a storm. Four great tracks for a mooted 4th studio were released in 2000, but this unfortunately never materialized, probably due to financial constraints or record company apathy. In the meantime, in the wake of the Captain Beyond reformation frenzy, an unofficial live album, recorded at The University of Texas in 1973, was released in 2000 (either by the band themselves or by the fanclub). There's apparently video/dvd footage of the band doing the rounds, some of it recorded at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1972. Captain Beyond is widely respected and regarded as a major influence to and for many bands over the years. So much so that in 1999, the Swedish Record Heaven record label (and mail-order company) released "A Tribute To Captain Beyond - A Thousand Days of Yesterdays", featuring a number of well known bands such as The Flower Kings, Standarte, The Quill, Zello and others performing Captain Beyond covers.
A truly fitting tribute to one of the greatest rock bands of all-time!
02). Stray - Queen Of The Ocean
Taken from their 3rd album, "Saturday Morning Pictures", arguably their best album, released in 1971.This great, very hard working UK hard rock quartet started out in the mid to late 60's and released their debut album in 1970, when the various members were barely in their late teens. Formed by Steve Gadd on vocals, Derek "Del" Bromham on guitar, Steve Crutchley (later replaced by Ritchie Cole) on drums and Gary Giles on bass, they were similar in style to bands like Human Beast and Clear Blue Sky, except that Stray lasted a bit longer than these other bands, recording 9 albums before splitting in the mid to late 70's. They were very popular and were well known for their use of pyrotechnics, smoke bombs, etc on stage. Stray reformed for a short while in the mid 80's and released a live album,"Live at The Marquee". Guitarist Del Bromham has kept the band going for a number of years, as Del Bromham's Stray, and they've released three great albums for the UK Mystic Records label. Other recommended recordings from Stray to look out for are "Mudanzas" in 1973, "Houdini" in 1976 and "New Dawn" in 1997. It's one of rock's great mysteries why this great UK hard rock outfit didn't hit the big time. They certainly earned the right.
03). Fanny Adams - Got To Get a Message To You
This little-known and short-lived Australian quartet released just one album, their self-titled debut, in 1971. Guitarist Vince Malouney and vocalist Doug Parkinson (from Doug Parkinson in Focus) actually formed the band in the UK before they moved to Australia, together with bassist Teddy Toi and drummer John Dick. They folded that year and Parkinson left to revive "Doug Parkinson in Focus", taking John Dick with him. The MCA-released lp was packed with powerful blues-based hard rock numbers, our featured track being one of the better ones on the album. It's also been released on CD on the Lizard Record label.
04). Anna Vissi - Andidoto
Anna Vissi is Greece's Rock Queen. She's been around for many years and has recorded many charting albums and singles. Much of her material is written by her partner, Nikos Karvelas, and the music ranges from traditional Greek music to modern hard rock. She visited SA a few years ago and played to a packed Sun City. Excellent band, and a seriously hot and classy singer. Recent albums have seen her move into dance territory. This is the title track of her 1998 album, and there are a number of Anna Vissi dvd's that you can perve over...er...purchase.
05). Minimum Vital - Song a Cinq
This French band would appear to have been formed in the early to mid 80's, by brothers Thierry and Jean-Luc Payssan, on keyboards and guitars respectively, together with Eric Rebeyrol on bass and Antoine Fillon (later replaced by Christophe Godet) on drums. They released their debut album, "Envol Triangles" in 1985. Subsequent albums such as "Les Saisons Marines" in 1987, "Sarabandes" in 1990 and "La Source" in 1993 saw the band move more and more into the progressive side of rock, with stunning musicianship and strong compositions. The track featured was taken from their 5th album, "Esprit D'Amour", released in the late 90's, and it features new vocalists Sonia Nedelec and Jean-Baptiste Ferracci, together with new drummer Charly Berna. A live album, recorded on 4th October 1997, was released in 1998, on the French Musea label, as were all their other albums. A video is also available.
06). Starless - Song Of Silence
The title track of their excellent second album, released in early 1992. Formed in Japan by bassist Jutaro Okubo, who'd been in an outfit called Scheherazade, the band's roots go back to various prog and hard rock bands such as Kingdom, Snake Charmer, Lucifer and Mercy Killing, in the the mid 80's. They spent their early days playing Deep Purple and Rainbow covers before developing a style of their own. They played their first gig at Osaka's Candy Hall in September 1985, and their debut album, "Gin No Tsubasa", was released in December that year. The album did quite well, but the band split at the end of 1988. Okubo and guitarist Takao Nakagawa revived the band in 1991, and they recorded their second album, utilizing the services of various session players. The album, "Song Of Silence", was released in February 1992, and a bit later that year, they recorded a further five tracks for their intended third album. Entitled "Wish", it was released as a "mini" album, as the band's career was unfortunately cut short by the Kobe earthquake. Okubo later appeared with Teru's Symphonia in 1995, as did keyboard player Shouichi Aoki. Their interesting mix of jazz with progressive rock made them quite a popular act in their home country.
07). Birth Control - Jump (For Your Life)
Birth Control are one of the oldest surviving Kraut Rock bands. They were formed in Cologne in the late sixties as a student rock band, and they chose their name as a stab at Pope Paul's anti-birth control policy. Their line-up went through a number of changes before they released their debut album on the Metronome label in 1970, with Bernd Koschmidder on bass, Bruno Frenzel on guitar, Reinhold Sobotta on organ and Bernd "Nossi" Noske on drums. Their later albums varied between brass rock ("Rebirth"), hard rock ("Hoodoo Man" and "Count On Dracula") and conceptual progressive rock ("Backdoor Possibilities"). Keyboard player Zeus B.Held, who had joined the band in 1973, featured on the excellent "Plastic People" album in 1975, as did bassist/vocalist Peter Foller, together with Noske and Frenzel. Birth Control would appear to have split after 1982's "Bang" album, although they reformed a number of times during the 80's and 90's. As the sole original member, Bernd Noske has kept the band alive, and they've released some excellent albums since the early to mid nineties."Condomium" in 1994 and the brilliant "Two Worlds" in 1995 are certainly worthwhile checking out. He's been utilizing the services of three tremendously talented young musicians, namely Cyborg Haines on bass, Sascha Kuhn on keyboards and the excellent Peter Engelhardt on guitars, and these three appear with him on the new studio album, "Alsatian", (2004) from which the featured track was taken. The band also recently appeared, together with the reformed Amon Duul, Guru Guru, Karthago, Epitaph and Peter Panka's Jane, on the double "Kraut Rock Meeting" dvd, recorded in December 2004. Bernd Noske is a very good and accomplished drummer, and the fact that he's the band's lead singer as well puts him in a different league. He also released a solo album, "Come Out At Night", in 1999.
Two band members, Bruno Frenzel and bassist Horst Stachelhaus (who, together with drummer Manni von Bohr, also featured with USA guitarist Randy Hansen), have since passed away.
08). Grobschnitt - Symphony
From their self-titled debut album, released in 1972. Just to demonstrate that they really were a very good and innovative band, even though they were well known for their slapstick humor, theatrics and four hour-long concerts. The initial intro to Grobschnitt on the very first RockIt Scientist show ("Sahara") didn't do this great band any justice, so it was only fitting that we featured them in all their musical glory, so that you could hear how good they were! Grobschnitt were responsible for recording a number of legendary conceptual and progressive rock albums, namely "Rockpommel's Land" and "Solar Music Live". Refer to the write-up of the very first RockIt Scientist show for more info on this very interesting band.
09). Epitaph - Outside The Law
Originally formed as Fagau's Epitaph in Dortmund in 1970 by former British Army soldier and guitarist Cliff Jackson, Scottish drummer Jim McGillivray and bassist Bernd Kolbe, this Germany hard rock band began their career playing pop concerts at British army bases in Germany. Jackson and Kolbe had previously featured in a late 60's outfit called "Red Roosters". Recruiting second guitarist Klaus Walz, they relocated to Hannover and were signed to Polydor Records and released two very good albums for the label, "Epitaph", which was recorded in London in 1971, and "Stop, Look & Listen" in 1972. Later that same year McGillivray left and was replaced by Achim Wielert. They then embarked on two extended tours to the US in August and November of 1973, and it was during the November tour that they signed to the Billingsgate label and recorded the album from which the featured track was taken, in Chicago, in late 1974. "Outside The Law", their third album, was released to critical acclaim, and it gained them some recognition internationally. Ex-Karthago drummer Norbert Lehmann then replaced Wielert. Epitaph went on to record into the early 80's and split in 1982, reforming in the late 90's, with Jackson, Kolbe, Wielert and Heinz Glass (who replaced Klaus Walz in the late 70's).This line-up recorded a live album, "The 21 Century Tour", in January 2000. They featured on the "Kraut Rock Meeting" dvd with Karthago, Birth Control, Amon Duul, Guru Guru and Peter Panka's Jane.
10). Titanic - Macumba
Recorded in 1974 and released as a bonus track on the "Eagle Rock" album in 2000 by Repertoire Records. Titanic were one of Norway's best and best known bands, having evolved out of The Beatnicks in the late 60's. Formed in Oslo in 1969, the line-up included Janny Loseth on guitar and vocals, Kenny Aas on organ and bass guitar, Kjell Asperud on percussion and vocals, John Lorck on drums and English vocalist Roy Robinson. A defining moment in their career was featuring at the Cannes Film Festival when they were invited to accompany the gala screening of the 1969 "Woodstock" movie. They were so well received in Cannes that they decided to settle in the south of France (how's that for a nice combination: a Norwegian band, with a pommie singer, based in France!). They released their self titled debut album in 1970 on the CBS label. They later had a hit with their Santana-esque "Sultana", a featured track on their second album, "Sea Wolf", which was released in 1972. "Sultana" shot to number 5 in the UK singles chart in September 1971, and it was also a hit in Norway, where the album reached number 7 on the charts. They also had other minor hits with tracks such as "Santa Fe", "Rain 2000", and our featured track. Titanic went on to tour extensively (in Africa too, apparently), and recorded a further four albums before splitting in the late 70's. A little-known hard rock Titanic album, "Lower The Atlantic", featuring Robinson and Loseth, together with bassist Runar Gjosund and drummer Trond Rabben, emerged out of the blue..sorry, couldn't resist...in the late 80's/early 90's (no actual date shown on the album), but the band appeared to sink...oh boy, that was REALLY weak...without a trace after that.
Just an interesting aside concerning Titanic that occurred one evening when Rafe and Leon were presenting the original RockIt Scientists on SAfm: can't remember the track played, but a listener phoned in to complain that "she had the soundtrack and that the song we played didn't appear on her copy!" Thanks for your call, m'aam, but we're talking about the BAND Titanic, not the soundtrack to the MOVIE! Shhheessh...
11). Tribe of Gypsies - What Cha Want
From "Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants", in 2000, which would appear to be their fourth album.(Information on this excellent band is not exactly easy to come by, unless you understand the Japanese liner notes on these Japanese imports!). Formed in the early 90's, they are a US heavy rock/Latin outfit, featuring guitarist Roy Z, who has worked with Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson on his solo albums (production and playing guitar). Their second (?) album, a six track mini cd called "Nothing Lasts Forever", which featured brilliant covers of The Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man" and Peter Green's "Oh Well", was released in 1997. The line-up on this album was Roy Z, together with Elvis Balladares on percussion, Mario Aguilar on timbales and percussion, Edward Casillas on bass, vocals and percussion, David Ingraham on drums and percussion, and Dean Ortega on lead vocals. Their "Revolucion 13" album, released in 1998, with Gregory Analla on vocals, demonstrates a very talented and versatile band that can blow you away with the brilliant hard rock/Latin rock classic "What's Up" and yet seduce you with the memorable "Summer Rain". Our featured album, with Ray Rodriguez on keyboards and Juan Perez replacing Eddie Casillas on bass, is just as good as "Revolucion 13", with the stand-out track being the brilliant "Puro Party".
According to band rep, Chris Leibundgut, Tribe of Gypsies are working on a "Best of" CD, with a few new tracks, and and a new release in early 2006 is on the cards. Tribe of Gypsies are a band you need to urgently familiarize yourself with if you enjoy Latin rock. Not too many modern bands do it as well as they do!
12). Abraxas Pool - Boom Ba Ya Ya
US outfit Abraxas Pool is essentially Santana without Carlos Santana! The band features keyboard player Gregg Rolie, drummer Michael Shrieve, percussionists Jose "Chepito" Areas and Michael Carabello, bassist Alphonso Johnson and guitarist Neal Schon. It would appear to be a once-off project, as there haven't been any further recordings since their debut, self-titled album was released in 1997. Evoking memories of Santana's "Abraxas" glory days, this album is a must for anyone who enjoys the passion and rhythm of Latin rock. Gregg Rolie released a solo album, his second, called "Roots", a few years ago. Neal Schon is still pulling in the crowds with Journey, and recently formed Soul Sirkus, surely one of the best "new" hard rock bands to come out of the US.
13). Soul Sirkus - Another World
A supergroup in the making, and certainly one of the best rock releases of the year. Soul Sirkus are Neal Schon on guitar (Abraxas Pool, Santana, Journey), Marco Mendoza on bass (Blue Murder and Thin Lizzy), Jeff Scott Soto on vocals (Talisman, Eyes, etc) and Virgil Donati (Planet X, etc) on drums. Soul Sirkus gives Neal Schon an avenue to break loose and play the heavier stuff he can't really play with Journey. It's a very good album by a very good band, and it's one of the many great releases on the Italian Frontiers Record label.
14). Victory - Starman
Victory are a German metal/hard rock outfit who were formed in the mid 80's. Bassist Fargo Peter Knorn and guitarist Tommy Newton were both in Fargo (the early 70's band that future Scorpions guitarist Matthias Jabs had been in before joining Rudy Schenker and Co in the late 70's), prior to forming Victory with vocalist/Charlie Huhn, guitarist John Lockton and drummer Bernie Van Der Graaf. Their self-titled debut album was released in 1985. For the second album, "Don't Get Mad, Get Even", released the following year, Herman Frank replaced John Lockton and drummer Fritz Randow (ex-Eloy), replaced Van Der Graaf. This line-up recorded a few albums before Fernando Garcia replaced Charlie Huhn. Victory went on to record about nine further albums, including a few live albums. The featured track was taken off their latest album, "Instinct", which was released in 2003. As mentioned a few weeks ago, vocalist Charlie Huhn is also a member of Foghat. Fritz Randow has also appeared with Saxon and others.
15). Gotthard - Stay For The Night
Switzerland's Gotthard have been around since the early 90's, the members being Marc Lynn on bass, Steve Lee on vocals, Leo Leoni on guitars and vocals and Hena Habegger on drums. Their self-titled debut album, which featured a great version of Joe South's "Hush", was released in 1992. Subsequent releases were of a consistently high standard as the band became more and more polished and popular. They weren't exactly a covers band, but on the occasion that they did a cover, they did it extremely well. Examples of this are Cobra's "Travellin' Man" (off "Dial Hard" in 1993) and Bob Dylan's "Mighty Quinn" (from 1995's "G"). They're a very classy melodic rock outfit who can kick serious butt when they need to, and they can also deliver a very good ballad, which are evenly spread over their seven or so albums. Their new album, "Lipservice", released this year, is their first for the German Nuclear Blast label, and it features second guitarist Freddy Scherer.
16). Queensryche - Silent Lucidity
Queensryche were formed in Seattle in the US in the early 80's by Chris De Garmo and Michael Wilton on guitars, Geoff Tate on vocals, Eddie Jackson on bass and Scott Rockenfield on drums. Evolving out of the club bands The Mob and The Myth, they struggled to find a record deal in the beginning, and like many bands in a similar position, they formed their own record company, in this instance, 206 Records. They released a five track EP which led to EMI offering them a record deal. They oozed class and quality from their very first "official" album, "The Warning", in 1984. By the time the awesome George Orwell-inspired conceptual "Operation: Mindcrime" was released in 1988, they'd become one of the most popular rock bands in the world. The album sold in excess of one million copies worldwide. "Empire", from which the featured track was taken, was issued as a double (vinyl) album in 1990. "Operation Mindcrime" was a brilliant album: "Empire" was even better, and it appeared that the band could do no wrong, with Geoff Tate quite rightly regarded as one of the best rock vocalists around. "Silent Lucidity", which was a Top 5 US hit, and was also nominated for a Grammy. There was a three year break before the follow up, "Promised Land", with it's awesome solo vocal/solo piano ballad "Someone Else", was released (The full band version of this memorable number was released on the "Greatest Hits" compilation album in 2000). Following the release of 1997's "Hear In The Now Frontier", Chris De Garmo left the band, and was replaced by Kelly Gray, (who has since left the band, not to be replaced, trimming Queensryche down to a quartet). The resulting album, "Q2K", was released in 1999. The band are still around today, and a further three or four albums have since been released, together with a number of great dvds. Queensryche's contribution to the progressive metal scene should not be underestimated - they are one of the truly great rock bands.
17). Dream Theater - The Answer Lies Within
Dream Theater have come a long way since their debut album in 1989. Initially comprising Berklee College of Music students Mike Portnoy (drums), John Myung (bass) and John Petrucci (guitars), they drafted in old schoolfriend Kevin Moore on keyboards, (latterly Jordan Rudess) and Dream Theater (they chose the name instead of original choice, "Majesty"), was born in 1988 after vocalist Charlie Dominici joined. Their debut album, "When Dream and Day Unite", was released on MCA Records in 1989. A very good album, characterized by dynamic hard rock songs and flawless musicianship, it was strangely ignored by the record-buying public, although the music media raved about it. MCA subsequently terminated their contract and, four years later, their second album, the awesome "Images and Words", with Canadian vocalist James LaBrie (ex-Winter Rose and Coney Hatch), was released, through new label, Atco Records. Every single member of the band is reputed to have a music degrees of sorts, and it shows on the numerous albums they've recorded. Drummer Mike Portnoy is/was also a member of prog outfit Transatlantic. The new album, "Octavarium", from which the featured track is taken, is one of the best albums they've ever done, and it's highly recommended.
18). Spock's Beard - She Is Everything
Considered by many to be one of the greatest prog bands in the world, US outfit Spock's Beard were formed in the early to mid nineties by vocalist and multi -instrumentalist Neal Morse, guitarist and vocalist Alan Morse, bassist Dave Meros and drummer Nick D'Virgilio, with keyboard player Ryo Okumoto joining a bit later. Their debut album,"The Light", with it's Beatles, Gentle Giant and King Crimson influences, took the prog rock world by storm. They've since released some really incredible albums over the years and regularly play to packed houses. Musically, they are totally flawless, and Neal Morse's songwriting is of a consistently high standard. Morse, who is no longer with the band, and Dave Meros, also featured in Eric Burdon's band. The new double live Spock's Beard album, from which the featured track was taken, "Gluttons For Punishment", is one of their better live albums. They've released around 15 albums, studio and live, to date, and Neal Morse has released a few brilliant solo albums, one of which, ("One"), was featured on The RockIt Scientist a short while ago. Bands such as Spock's Beard, Glass Hammer and others have given progressive rock a new lease of life.
These three tracks by Queensryche, Dream Theatre and Spock's Beard were especially for my beloved mother, who is my best friend and who means the world to me.
The message is that you need to tell the ones close to you everyday, that you love them.
19). Ronnie Earl & Duke Robbilard - West Side Shuffle
US Guitarists Ronnie Earl and Duke Robbilard are amongst the most respected blues guitarists in the world. They first met and collaborated in Roomful Of Blues in the mid 70's. Earl later had his own band, The Broadcasters, and has released quite a few albums under his own name. Robbilard later formed the Pleasure Kings and he replaced Jimmy Vaughan in the Fabulous Thunderbirds. This new album, "The Duke Meets The Earl", released earlier this year, is a welcome return from two of the true blues greats. More from them both in the near future!