Saturday, November 17, 2012

John Corabi "Unplugged" Review

John Corabi "Unplugged" Review

Released November 13, 2012 via Rat Pak Records

01.  Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore)
02.  If I Never Get To Say Goodbye
03.  Are You Waiting?
04.  Crash
05.  Everything’s Alright
06.  Father, Mother, Son
07.  Hooligan's Holiday
08.  If I Had A Dime
09.  Loveshine
10.  Man In The Moon
11.  Open Your Eyes
12.  I Never Loved Her Anyway
13.  Bonus Interview Track

John Corabi:Lead Vocals & Guitars
D.A. Karkos:Guitars & Vocals
Topher Nolen:Bass & Vocals
Cheney Brannon:Percussion & Vocals

Matt Farley: Percussion & Vocals
Bruce Kulick:Lead Guitar on tracks #07 & #10

D.A. Karkos

The long awaited solo debut from former The Scream, Mötley Crüe and Union frontman, John Corabi, has FINALLY arrived and while it is a departure from what you would expect as a debut solo album, it does not disappoint.  The fact that John has issued an acoustic album is not a shock to anyone who has followed his career but to issue an acoustic album as your debut solo effort is a ballsy move in my opinion.  That being said, John is one of a few artists that could pull off such a feat after the career fronting the bands that he has. 

Over the years, it seems there is no middle ground when it comes to people's opinions of John Corabi, either you love him or hate him.  I've known several people who refused to listen to the album he did with Mötley Crüe because it wasn't Vince Neil yet when I put the album on and didn't tell them who it was, they loved it! Also, there are a large number of people who won't give him a fair shot because he fronted Mötley Crüe from 1992-1997.  Too bad because they're missing out on one of the best lyricists and singers in music. 

A few years ago, John moved to Nashville and has been focused on writing songs for others as well as this "Unplugged" album.  The album features seven songs from his previous bands, five new songs and a bonus interview track.  This album isn't just "a man and his guitar", it features a full band in a stripped down setting. There aren't any electric instruments or drums, just acoustic guitars and bass, hand percussion and shakers & three and four part harmonies. I cannot heap enough praise onto his band for their contributions on the album. The production, mixing and mastering are stellar!  Their harmonies are just insane!!!

Love (I Don’t Need It Anymore) - The album gets off to an uptempo start with a favorite among Union fans & my favorite Union track, EVER.  This cut was originally released on Union's debut album in 1998.  It stays fairly true to the original with the exception being it is acoustic.  The hand percussion is a tad bit funky, diggin' the vibe it brings to it.  The riff remains as addictive as ever & D.A. gives Bruce Kulick on run for his money on the solo without overplaying!

If I Never Get To Say Goodbye - A heartfelt ballad about making sure you always tell the ones you love that you love them because you never know what will happen next.  It is a new track co-written with Nashville songsmith Gary Hannan of "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" fame.  Sparse percussion and the harmony vocals really make this song stand out. 

Are You Waiting? - Diehard fans of John Corabi have known of this track for over 20 years as it was originally demoed for his pre-The Scream band "Angora".  The track was originally produced by Steve Vai back in the late 1980's.  This re-arrangement and production sounds much better than those multi-generational demos I've been listening to for years.  I've also noticed that certain parts sound eerily similar to the song "Loveshine" that John originally recorded with Mötley Crüe back in 1993 and has re-recorded for this album.  Similarities aside, another great song.     

Crash - I must say that the title is catchy as hell!  Something about it resonates with me!  Moving on, lyrically, this tune is a tearjerker.  This is also a new track.  The production and mix on this song really shines and allows the individual parts to blend together perfectly yet they have room to breathe.  Many bands these days record acoustic songs and they sound like a mess. 

Everything’s Alright - This was originally released on Union's "The Blue Room" album in 2000.  It is an homage to one of John's biggest influences, The Beatles.  Pay attention to the lyrics and harmonies, it is obvious. 

Father, Mother, Son - Originally released in 1991 on the debut album for his band "The Scream".  This song is probably the most talked about, if not most loved song of John's career.  If you are a parent, the lyrics will strike a nerve.  This version stays true to the original acoustic version that was issued as a b-side on the single but the background harmonies bring it to a whole new level.  Dare I say, gospel-esque?  You decide.   

Hooligan's Holiday - We have arrived to the song that John is most known for even if the people hearing it don't realize who it is.  It was the lead single from John's time in Mötley Crüe.  Those familiar with the original will have their jaw drop when they hear this version.  Originally, this cut is as heavy and (gasp!) grungy as possible.  Here, besides being acoustic, it has a real delta blues feel to it. Former Union bandmate, Bruce Kulick provides the lead guitar and nailed Mick Mars parts.  I couldn't have ever imagined this song sounding like this but it works and works very well!!

If I Had A Dime - Another new song and the first video released for this project.  It is co-written with bandmate and producer, D.A. Karkos.  A lot has been said about John's past songwriting partners and bandmates like Nikki Sixx and Bruce Kulick but from his songwriting contribution here, his musicianship and production throughout, I believe John has met his "musical soulmate" in D.A. 

Loveshine - Another Mötley Crüe era song.  It stays true to the spirit of the original with a few embellishments added. 

Man In The Moon - The second 'The Scream' era tune re-worked for this album is also a fan favorite amongst Corabi fans.  This tune also features his Union bandmate, Bruce Kulick on lead guitars.  It cracks me up how I'm so used to the original arrangement and electrified version that after the verse I kept anticipating the tempo to change and go full throttle but it stays back in the pocket.  I really digg this version.  GREAT JOB! 

Open Your Eyes - Another new song that is actually ten years old as it was originally recorded for a project John had in 2002 called "Zen Lunatic" and was put up on the recording studios website for download.  I definitely hear the influence that Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith have had on John especially vocally and lyrically. 

I Never Loved Her Anyway - The final song and another "The Scream" era track has always been a personal favorite of mine due to the attitude of the lyrics and how he delivers them.  It is a bit funkier and more up-tempo than the original and has a bit more aggression added to the delivery of the vocals.  I wonder if his failed relationships inspired the extra piss and vinegar?  Ya think? 

Bonus Interview Track - John shares some stories, news and you have a chance to get a feel for his sense of humor which has always come through in his music. 

In concluding and like I said before, this album is a ballsy move for a debut solo album.  It DOES NOT disappoint in any fashion.  I like the fact that John had Bruce contribute to non-Union songs.  It would have been easy to have him re-record his parts but instead they went left of center and had him play on cuts from John's previous bands, The Scream and Mötley Crüe.  Long time fans of John Corabi will appreciate this album and hopefully, with enough publicity and some radio airplay, he will reach a whole new audience. 
He has begun work on an electric solo album with this band but in the meantime, this album should hold fans over til its release sometime (hopefully!) in 2013.  There are songs that will fit whatever mood you are in, there is some mighty tasty guitar playing on it from John & D.A., the percussion adds to the atmosphere and John is singing better than ever.  I can't say enough about the musicianship, production, mixing and mastering on this album.  It is perfect without being stripped of the talent and soul that 90% of music released today lacks!!!  Finally, I'd highly recommend lowering the lights, firing up some candles or incense, pouring an adult beverage of your choice, sitting back and "Let It Flow".
Purchase this album from Rat Pak Records or iTunes
Listen to the full-length tracks for "Hooligan's Holiday", "Loveshine", "Are You Waiting?" and "I Never Loved Her Anyway" at Rat Pak Records SoundCloud Page

Friday, October 19, 2012

John Corabi Set To Release Debut Solo Album On Nov. 13th

John Corabi has announced the release date of his upcoming solo debut, simply titled "Unplugged".  It will be released on November 13, 2012 by Rat Pak Records.  His debut solo offering veers a lil' left of center being it is an acoustic album.  It features all-new versions of several tunes from his time with The Scream, Mötley Crüe, and Union.  Rounding out his debut will be five new tunes and an interview.  One of the songs, "Open Your Eyes" was demoed as far back as 2002 when John formed the short lived project 'Zen Lunatic'. 
While it is a ballsy move to release an acoustic album for your debut solo effort, anyone who has followed John's career shouldn't be shocked.  John has always released acoustic-based tunes with all of his previous bands.  I'm especially interested in the new recordings for "Love (I Don't Need It Anymore)", "Man In The Moon", "I Never Loved Her Anyway" after hearing how he re-worked the Corabi era Mötley Crüe classic "Hooligan's Holiday", which you can hear below, courtesy of Rat Pak Records. 
John Corabi "Hooligan's Holiday" - from the forthcoming CD "Unplugged"
John is currently touring overseas ahead of this albums release.  Hopefully there will be a US tour at the beginning of 2013!!!
Check out John's new website for tour info, music, video and more by going to
When you're done over there, head over and pre-order John Corabi's debut solo album.  He is offering several different "bundles" to choose from featuring t-shirts, pick paks, signed promo photos and more!!!  Pre-order the album from  


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Blackberry Smoke 'The Whippoorwill' CD Review

Blackberry Smoke 'The Whippoorwill' CD Review

01. Six Ways to Sunday
02. Pretty Little Lie
03. Everybody Knows She's Mine
04. One Horse Town
05. Ain't Much Left of Me
06. The Whippoorwill 
07. Lucky Seven
08. Leave A Scar
09. Crimson Moon
10. Ain't Got the Blues
11. Sleeping Dogs
12. Shakin' Hands with the Holy Ghost
13. Up the Road

Charlie Starr - Vocals, Guitar, Pedal Steel, and Banjo
Richard Turner - Bass Guitar & Vocals
Paul Jackson - Guitar & Vocals
Brandon Still - Piano & Organ
Brit Turner - Drums & Percussion

Blackberry Smoke, Clay Cook, Matt Mangano and Zac Brown

Blackberry Smoke have returned with their third full length album, 'The Whippoorwill'.  A diverse album consisting of thirteen songs ranging from straight-up boogie rockers, a heartfelt "ballad", a southern fried AC/DC-esque rocker and all emotions in between.  The production is top notch and the new label, Zac Brown's Southern Ground has allowed their personalities to shine through whereas they seemed a bit handcuffed by the production and label on their last album, "Little Piece Of Dixie".  

The last album seemed overproduced and the band seemed censored for the sake of radio play.  This album is masterfully produced but isn't so glossy where the spirit of the players doesn't shine through.  Also, if you have ever been to a Blackberry Smoke live show than you know these guys have a great sense of humor!  That comes through on this album as well.  

All the elements of the band that longtime fans love are all here and if this album doesn't bring in many many more fans then there is no hope for the music industry.  After a few false starts with now defunct labels, it appears the band has finally found a home where they can create what they want without a label pushing them in one direction and the label is more than happy to deliver the music to the masses.  In the past few years, the band has shared stages with the likes of the Zac Brown Band, Jamey Johnson, Eric Church, Brantley Gilbert, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cross Canadian Ragweed and ZZ Top.  They've also been visible in mainstream media having appeared in numerous publications and on CMT!!

Blackberry Smoke write from their heart and experience.  There isn't anything fake or contrived in the music.  Find those qualities watching American Idol or The Voice, I DARE YOU!!!  Blackberry Smoke is a band for the masses yet would never be too big-headed to go out and have a beer or shoot pool with their fans.  They've busted their asses playing all over the USA & Europe for over ten years, from small clubs to sold out arenas and everything in between.  This album is so strong and has a little something for everyone be it a lil' rock n' roll or a lil' bit country, whatever your mood, it is just great music, period!!  Well done guys, well done!!


Six Ways To Sunday (3:27) A lustful honky tonker that kicks the album off on a rockin' note.  Charlie sings of a sinful seductress that he fancies while Brandon lays down some major ivory on this cut.  His playing here channels some of the greats, Billy Powell, Gregg Allman, Mike Finnegan, among others.  This galloping rocker should be in the live set for years to come!

Pretty Little Lie (3:34) A mid-tempo tune that every man can relate to.  To me, it seems to be about a woman you know is doing you wrong yet you just can't kick her ass to the curb where she belongs.  

Everybody Knows She's Mine (3:49)  This song is just locked down into a sweet little groove and is about as feel-good as you can get.  I've been digging on this song for a few years since I saw a live video of it on YouTube and it also appears on their 2011 "Live At The Georgia Theatre" DVD.  It is definitely a highlight on the album for me.  The guitar/piano solo spot and female background singers add a nice touch.  

One Horse Town (4:16)  Another tune I discovered through YouTube.  A song about growing up, wanting to leave yet remaining in a small town for the duration of ones life.  Acoustically driven with some sweet pedal steel throughout.  I could see this doing well at Country radio and CMT!

Ain't Much Left Of Me (4:58)  FINALLY!!!  I've seen this song performed live several times over the years and have bootlegs dating back to 2006 with this song.  So glad it has finally been put on an album.  A mid-tempo rocker where anyone who has been through a divorce could definitely relate to this song!!  

The Whippoorwill (5:31)  A gorgeous ballad that was written by Charlie about the memories of his Grandmother.  He discusses the song in depth on their DVD, "Live At The Georgie Theatre".  This is one of those songs where you could close your eyes and envision exactly what he is singing about.  

Lucky Seven (4:17)  One of the great things about music is that there always seems to be a song that you can relate to.  A song where you feel it was written about you, this is that song for me.  The song starts out mellow, kicks in at the chorus then backs off til the chorus comes back around and the song closes out with some beautiful guitar over sparse piano.    

Leave A Scar (3:34)  This tune is pure energy and attitude.  This should be a hellraiser live.  Really digg the banjo lines throughout it.  Can't wait to hear this one live!!!  

Crimson Moon (4:00)  Another rocker that was written with Zac Brown & Matt Mangano.  Lyrically about being teenagers in love growing up in a small town and wanting nothing more than to get the hell outta town.  This one should strike a nerve with anyone who hears it.

Ain't Got The Blues (4:03)  Starts out like your spinning a 78 on an old phonograph.  Has a real vintage quality about the recording method used on it.  A nice change of pace with its bluesy acoustic shuffle.  It will definitely get your feet to tappin or dancin if you have someone with you.    

Sleeping Dogs (3:22)  Another song that has been played live for ages alas "Ain't Much Left Of Me".  It is great to finally have a studio version.  A mellow groove that kicks in at the chorus and speaks of standing your ground when somebody pushes you over the edge.  Love the line "Make no mistake let there be no doubt. Paint me in a corner, I'll fight my way out.  The moral of the story brother, this is it. I'll be all over you like stink on shit!!!"

Shakin' Hands With The Holy Ghost (3:45)  The guitars on this track remind me of some major southern fried AC/DC riffage!!  This just locks into one of those power grooves and kicks major ass.  This is definitely going to be a must for any party & will get the ladies out dancing!!!

Up the Road (5:53)  A bluesy ballad to the end the record.  Lyrically it seems to be about a couple sticking through the hard times and coming out the other side together.  It is very laid back, tastefully played, even the solo yet builds momentum towards the end.  This will be one of those songs live where it lets a band stretch out and just jam. The only thing that really describes this tune is EPIC.  

In concluding,  I've listened to this album at least a dozen times and the band really hit the nail on the head with this one.  I think this will be the album that breaks the band into the mainstream.  They deserve it as I can't think of a nicer bunch of guys who truly love what they do as much as this band.  I've been fortunate enough to know them since 2002.  They are not scared to get out there and play.  

They've really jelled together since the addition of Brandon Still in 2009.  His abilities on the keys really bring the songs to a bigger place.  The rhythm section of the Brit & Richard lay down a solid foundation, Paul and Charlie really compliment each others styles very well while Charlie does his thing on the mic.  The finally were captured on tape how you see them live!!!  GREAT JOB GUYS!!!

Do yourselves a favor and go see this band L-I-V-E!!!!  For one, that is the only place you can get this album until it is released to stores on August 14th & besides that, LIVE IS WHERE IT IS AT WITH THESE CATS!!!

Blackberry Smoke is (L to R)
Paul Jackson, Brandon Still, Richard Turner, Charlie Starr and Brit Turner!!!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Anthony Gomes 'Up 2 Zero' CD Review

Anthony Gomes

Up 2 Zero

Released March 6, 2012  (Up 2 Zero Entertainment)

Track List:

1. Back To The Start
2. One Last Time
3. Love Sweet Love
4. Fly Away
5. Darkest Before The Dawn
6. Room 414
7. Voodoo Moon
8. Anywhere You Run
9. Last Bluesman Gone
10. Up 2 Zero
11. N’Abandonne Pas


Anthony Gomes - Vocals/Guitar

Scot Sutherland - Bass/Vocals (Touring Band Only)

Roger Femali - Drums (Touring Band Only)

Additional Musicians:

Michael Rhodes - Bass

Greg Morrow - Drums

Reese Wynans - Keyboards

Glen Caruba - Percussion

Vicki Hampton - Background Vocals

Wendy Moten  - Background Vocals

Trez Gregory  - Background Vocals

Tania Hancheroff - French Background Vocals

Eve Paradis - French Background Vocals

Chris Carmichael - Strings arrangement and performance

Chris Leuzinger - Rhythm Guitar 


Produced by Anthony Gomes & Peter Carson

How appropriate that the album kicks off with a song entitled "Back To The Start".  It is an omen for things to come because as Anthony Gomes proclaimed in 2010, he was going "Back To The Blues".  He has done just that with the past two years of touring and now with this album.  His first release since branching out into a more Southern Rock feel with his New Soul Cowboys band and self-titled album in 2009.  While the New Soul Cowboys band and album weren't bad by any means, I thought it lacked the "Spirit" of his previous albums and tours!  Blues/Blues Rock is where Anthony belongs because The Blues is his HOME!!  Welcome Home Anthony……Welcome Home!!

Judging by the first twenty seconds of  Back To The Start, Anthony isn't wasting any time embracing his true calling!  His tone and playing on this track is undoubtedly making Stevie smile from the Heavens.  It is pure Blues, full of emotion that makes you FEEL every note!!  Lyrically speaking of getting back to a love left behind.  One can sense that it is all a metaphor for going back to his bluesy roots.  One Last Time finds Anthony bringing forth the influence of B.B. King.  I'm really digging his vocal approach on these first couple tunes.  He is singing more from the gut and allowing the emotional delivery of the lyrics to be as raw as can be without polishing them up in the studio or layering AutoTune on his vocals.

Love Sweet Love was the first single released prior to the album.  While talking with my friend Rodney about the single, he said the song had a Eric Clapton feel to it.  It wasn't til I downloaded the album off of iTunes and played it through my home stereo that I got what Rodney was saying.  This cut could have easily been on one of Eric's album in the 1970's or 1980's.  A great lead-off single.  Fly Away is the track that I was more than a tad leery of checking out because it is a re-written/re-arranged version of 'Bluebird' that appeared on his 2006 release "Music Is The Medicine'.  'Bluebird' has become a favorite among his legions of fans & a staple of his live show, it IS my all-time favorite track from Anthony.    I caught Anthony live on February 10th & was impressed with how he had re-worked the song.  I was a bit worried that I wouldn't like it but after hearing the new version live, as well as hearing it a couple of times on my iPod & a few spins on the home stereo I've come to love it as a completely different song.  Musically, it doesn't have the same gospel approach the original had and the riff is alot heavier & overall, the song has more of a groove to it. 

Uh-oh, a double shot of re-working Anthony Gomes "classics".  Here, Anthony has re-arranged Darkest Before The Dawn from his 2002 album "Unity".  He has slowed the tempo down, added rhythm guitars done by Chris Leuzinger, added some female background vocals straight from a Gospel Choir and accented the song with a string section.  All that has taken the already amazing song to a whole other level.  EPIC seems to be a word that would fit!!  Room 414 kicks the album back into high gear with a nice bar-room boogie.  My hats off to Richard Dodd who mixed the album especially when he pans the guitar solo from left to right during a section of the solo, giving it the feeling of dueling guitars.  The keyboard stabs add a lil' "sumthin-sumthin" to the song!

Voodoo Moon instantly became a favorite of mine because of the haunting vibe of the music and the intense story told by the lyrics.  The story is based in Clarksdale Mississippi on Highway 49.  The lyrics evoke a vision of what it must be like sitting under the moon at midnight down in the Delta. The mood is accented by some subtle Dobro parts, tasteful slide playing, atmospheric keys and raspy almost-spoken parts by Anthony.  I would love to see this made into a music video.  Robert Johnson and The Devil are no-doubt digging this tune!  Anywhere You Run is the song on the album that I relate to the most, lyric-wise.  I couldn't have expressed what I have been feeling as of late any better than Anthony did on this song. Last Bluesman Gone gives me chills to say the least.  Clocking in at just two minutes and ten seconds long, Anthony packed a lot of emotion into that timeframe.  A somber acoustic driven melody with an eerie chant-like gospel hymn that gives the track almost a funeral dirge feel to what you are hearing.  It ranks up there with Voodoo Moon as my favorite tracks on this album.  The subject matter is sad, touching on some of the Blues greats we have lost over the last few years.  However, the likes of Anthony, Eric Sardinas & Big Motor, Joe Bonamassa and Moreland & Arbuckle are carrying the torch for The Blues.  In my opinion, as a Blues lover, it is heartbreaking to see so many legends pass on but with the likes of the aforementioned, The Blues is in GREAT hands!

Shifting back into high gear with the title track, Up 2 Zero has long been a part of Anthony's live show having appeared on his 2008 "Live" album.  Listeners finally get a proper studio version and it doesn't disappoint his longtime fans.  The guitar solo simply smokes!  We come to the end of this audio journey with the eleventh track which is version of 'Darkest Before The Dawn' sang entirely in French entitled "N'Abandonne Pas".  I'd bet my paycheck that his Mother is extremely proud of this rendition as she is French-Canadian. 

Overall, this album has more of a raw feel to it than his past releases but DO NOT get me wrong, it is one of his best to date.  This is as straight-ahead Blues as you can get whereas his previous releases had equal parts soul, funk and gospel.  Those elements are still present, they're just toned down a lot.  Anthony has stripped away the fancy production tricks and delivered an album of pure emotion be it vocally or musically!