John 5 and the Creatures - It's Alive!

by Kevin Wierzbicki

If you're still thinking of John 5 just as the guitarist for Rob Zombie, you've missed a few riffs. Actually quite a few; J5 has put out eight solo albums (nine if you count 2009's remix album Remixploitation) including Season of the Witch, the 2017 release that was until now his most recent effort. Besides being proof that the axe man is quite prolific, what all this adds up to is it's about time for a live record, and here J5 presents more than a dozen favorites recorded live at the Sellersville Theatre in Sellersville, Pennsylvania. The set is all instrumental and performed in a power trio format; J5 is backed only by bassist Ian Ross and drummer Logan Miles Nix. Without vocals there's nothing to distract from J5's intense guitar work, which is of a caliber similar to Steve Vai, Joe Satriani or any number of other rock guitar hot shots, including Jimi Hendrix who is easily identified as an influence on "Now Fear This." About half the set comes from Season of the Witch, including the jazzy (with a bit of corn pone) "Hell Haw," the super-fast "Black Grass Plague" and a take on "Making Monsters" that's complete with a madman-working-in-the-lab maniacal laugh. A few songs from 2014's Careful with That Axe are performed including "Portrait of Sydney Sloan," "This is My Rifle" where a rat-a-tat rhythm accompanies J5's fluid lead playing, and the brief but potent "Flight of the Vulcan Kelly." In a bit of a surprise, J5 also performs a tight and crowd-pleasing version of Michael Jackson's "Beat It," the original of which featured fret work by Eddie Van Halen.

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John 5 and the Creatures - It's Alive!

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