Vinnie Moore - Soul Shifter
Moore has been handling the guitar chores for classic rock band UFO for quite some time, but with that band having just completed their farewell tour, Moore will have plenty of time to devote to his solo career. The set of instrumentals begins with the earthy romp "Funk Bone Jam" where Vinnie tears up the fret board while guest bassist Rudy Sarzo brings the funk. Moore plays acoustic and electric (and synths) on the dreamy "Same Sun Shines" and returns to funk for "Kung Fu Grip," this time playing the bass himself. "Mystified" is a jazzy and mellow cut while "Soul Rider" is in a Southern rock mood, specifically an Allman Brothers mood. Appropriately for a player who has been around for a long time, Moore closes the set with the sublime rocker "Across the Ages."
Angel - Risen
Angel give a couple of nods to their 1975 eponymous debut album here as they begin Risen with "Angel Theme" and close the effort with the soaring prog-influenced rocker "Tower." In between are 15 new cuts done with the classic Angel sound in mind; in other words fans from way back will dig melodic cuts like "Under the Gun," the hair metal opus "Slow Down," the Styx-recalling remembrance of the scene that is "1975" and the rowdier remembrance "We Were the Wild." Original members Punky Meadows (guitar) and Frank Dimino (vocals) helm this version of Angel, which also includes guitarist Danny Farrow with whom Meadows and Dimino wrote all the new cuts. Meadows shows off some fancy, blues-inspired playing on "(Punky's Couch Blues) Locked Cocked Ready to Rock," a cut bound to be an anthem for the party hearty crowd. Clearly not content to rest on their halos, Angel have given fans a nice surprise here with this impressive set of celestial rock.
Lucifer's Friend - Black Moon
This band has been a cult favorite ever since their debut album was released in 1970. The Germany-based band led by singer John Lawton and guitarist/keys man Peter Hesslein is much better-known now, 50-years later, and they're still rocking with youthful exuberance. Listeners will compare some of the riffs and melodies here to those of Deep Purple, Uriah Heep, UFO, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and other great classic rock acts, all of which Lucifer's Friend came up with. "Call the Pilot" sounds a lot like fellow German band Scorpions; "Little Man" on the other hand is a jazzy cut that slows things down, showing a different side of the band, a drastic contrast to the speedy rhythm (and buzzing guitar work from Hesslein) on "Freedom." Two of the effort's strongest cuts bookend the release; the title cut to open the album and closer "Glory Days." This band is not the secret that they once were and solid albums like Black Moon are why.
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