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Scandimania! – Witch Cross set to rock Copenhagen and Oslo

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This week is a busy week for Witch Cross. I fly out to Denmark early Wednesday morning to meet up with Viking Metal buddies. An evening rehearsing and then we have shows in both Denmark and Norway’s capital cities. I’m absolutely buzzing at the prospect of delivering songs from ‘Fit for Fight’ and ‘Axe to Grind’ live again! Since the band re-formed, we still have relatively few live appearances under our belt, so it’s always good to crank up the guitars and get into the metal groove – we grow stronger with every show. If you’re anywhere near Stengade in Copenhagen on Thursday, or Revolver in Oslo on Friday, get yourselves down and rock the night away with us!

Photo by Sandro Chiozzi

Photo by Sandro Chiozzi

2014 promises to be an even busier year for Witch Cross, we have a few cool things in the pipeline, so check out our website to be kept up to date with what we’re up to.

WITCH CROSS OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Kev Moore

November 17, 2013 Posted by | Metal, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Touring, Witch Cross, Writing | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

CD round-up: Music I grabbed at Leyendas del Rock this summer!

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I’ve been meaning to do a short piece about this for ages, but time seemed to slip away, and the Leyendas festival is all but a distant memory. However, the three albums I bought while wandering the stalls on the perimeter are still all getting plenty of play here at Moore Music towers. I wanted to share them with you. Firstly, we have a lovingly packaged Sentenced album, in a nicely illustrated cardboard slipcase, containing not one but two of their albums on one CD. Hailing from Finland, theirs is a tale that ultimately ended in a tragedy. They began as a melodic death metal outfit, morphing more into heavy metal later on.  The band hold some interest for me for many reasons, one of which is the fact that I spent a month in their hometown of Oulu many years ago, while touring with a band up around the Arctic circle. The main album on here, ‘Amok’, recorded in ’95, is widely considered to be their breakthrough album, and it is paired here with ‘Love & Death’, which features songs recorded around the same time as Amok, and a curious cover of Billy Idol’s White Wedding’. Probably because the songs were all recorded around the same time, the two albums go well together here, and the band’s musicality is well to the fore – it’s a great listen.

The band finally split in 2005 and a mere four years later, Guitarist and founding member Miika Tenkula died, on February 19, 2009. He apparently had succumbed to a genetic heart condition. As a footnote, some months after Miika’s death, Sentenced released a box set of 16 CDs and 2 DVDs chronicling their entire career in a coffin-shaped box. The box-set also included rare and previously unreleased tracks.

Mystic Prophecy (Deu) - Savage Souls

Next on the list was Savage Souls from German band Mystic Prophecy. This version came as a ‘book’ CD – the album being in the front, and a bonus DVD in the back, featuring a live appearance at The Matrix in Bochum. The DVD’s a nice bonus, but it’s the studio album that really shines. formed in Bad Gronenbach in 2000, this release dates from 2006. they seem to have a lot of personnel changes, but the vocals and guitar work on this album are great. They’re like a cross between U.S. and European power metal. A nice surprise, this.

ACCEPT

Finally, I had to invest in Accept’s latest release ‘Stalingrad’ after they delivered a blistering set at Leyendas. I really like Marc Tornillo’s vocals , shades of Brian Johnson- and a great fit for the band. Produced by Andy Sneap, Stalingrad is an album that shows a band still at the top of their game. There’s so many standout tracks on here. Not only that, i picked up the special edition, which includes a live DVD featuring performances from Bang your Head and Monsters of rock festivals in 2011 and 2010 respectively , and the music videos for ‘Teutonic Terror’ (one of my favourite Accept tracks) and the (dare I say, infectious?) ‘Pandemic’.

So, three beauties, and a great festival to boot!

Kev Moore

November 14, 2013 Posted by | Metal, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

RETRO REVIEW: Mother’s Finest’s ‘Meta-Funk’n-Physical’ (2003)

Meta-Funk'n Physical

As Mother’s Finest’s kick-starter campaign to enlist their fanbase in being a part of their first new album for 10 years heads into its final week, I thought it a good opportunity to tale a look back at their 2003 release ‘Meta-Funk’n-Physical’..

I remember the first time I listened to this track. I was anxious to get it home and put it on the player. ‘Funk-a-Wild‘ promises much and delivers even more. An insidious synth sequence starts a stealth-like groove, lulling you into a false sense of security before the riff hits you, dripping with the funk, the staccato bass…Baby Jean’s wonderfully provocative lyrics draw you in and suddenly you’re into the killer chorus. Your head’s banging, your foot’s tapping, and you’re still only on track one. Oh yeah, this is gonna get Meta-funk’n physical!

On ‘Bring it’ Mother’s Finest display their innate ability to throw damn near everything in the cooking pot and make it taste good….rapping over Moses Mo’s almost eastern trippy guitar lines, Glenn Murdock and Joyce Kennedy lead us into a growling hard rock chorus, and it all fits like a glove.

I involuntarily break into a smile when I hear Wyzzard’s wicked popping bass syncopated with Moses’ sledgehammer chops underpinning Baby Jean’s chorus on ‘I Believe’. These guys make the groove sound effortless…and in reality it is. Because you cannot learn the groove. You got it, or you ain’t. And Mother’s Finest OWN the groove.

The rest of the album is just as eclectic – beautifully performed ballads such as ‘Don’t take your love’, the quirky funk of ‘What happens when we die?’ and the inspired guest-laden take of Hendrix’s  ‘If 6 were 9’.

‘Flat on my back’ drifts lazily into the detuned stomp of ‘The N-Groove’ a 21st century re-boot of their very own back catalogue, reinventing ‘Like a Negro’ and ‘Niggiz cant sang Rock’n’Roll’.

The final two tracks on the album illustrate Mother’s Finest’s joyous schizophrenia perfectly. ‘Set me Free’, a beautifully rendered classic ballad showcasing Joyce Kennedy’s excellent vocal, followed by ‘Hard time’, a soliloquy  that she delivers in spoken word over a slick syncopated groove, dropping in and out of gospel influenced chorus with ease, then punching you in the face with a full-on rock guitar solo. They do that a lot, Mother’s Finest. They Surprise you. Because they can.

Donate to their Kickstarter campaign. I have, because, 10 years on,  I wanna get surprised all over again.

To Donate, Click on the Image below:

MF

Kev Moore

September 15, 2013 Posted by | Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How cool is this? – The Mother’s Finest kickstarter project – 10 days to go!

Mother’s Finest, the legendary funk rock band from Atlanta Georgia, are asking YOU to participate in their bid to fund their first new album in 10 years. Visit their KICKSTARTER page to get involved!

Today, their guitarist Moses Mo released a video, detailing a brand new perk added to the bidding menu – the one-of-a-kind Mother’s Finest ‘shield’ guitar, built by Jordan guitars! Check out Moses’ video below and head over to the KICKSTARTER site to make your pledge.

BE PART OF FUNKIN’ HISTORY!

Kev Moore

September 12, 2013 Posted by | Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Video, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Okay….so for a brief shining period, WE were a Power Trio!

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Further to my recent post about the resurgence of power trios, it was pointed out to me that my old band, TUBELESS HEARTS, was exactly that, particularly around the time we released our 1994 album ‘Three’ – still somewhat sought after by collectors. True, we expanded the remit somewhat when we recorded, utilizing keyboards on some songs, and guitar overdubs, but live we were a much more raw proposition, juxtaposing tracks from the album with hard-hitting rock standards such as ‘Won’t get fooled again’.

Fos Foster - Guitars

Fos Foster – Guitars

           I discovered these pics while tidying the studio this morning, so I thought I’d dust them off and scan them.

Yours truly: Bass/Lead Vocals & Keys

Yours truly: Bass/Lead Vocals & Keys
Simon Kay - Drums/Vocals

Simon Kay – Drums/Vocals

It was a very creative time for me personally, and Fos and I wrote well together, and until I started working with Mike Koch on the new Witch Cross material, the only time I’ve had a good writing partnership.  You can hear one of the tracks below, a funk-rock workout called ‘The Pimp’.

I thought I’d take a moment to remember what a great unit this was. I count myself lucky to still be able to play with these guys, as we get together on occasion as three-quarters of the group CHRISTIE, fronted by multi-million selling hitmaker Jeff Christie.

Here’s the album we made together:

threecover

Kev Moore

September 8, 2013 Posted by | Metal, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Touring, Writing | | 5 Comments

The Return of the Power Trio

It’s been a long time coming…but the power trio is back with a vengeance. That ‘perfect’ line-up of guitar, bass and drums is a staple of our rock history, just think Cream, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Budgie, Rush, Trapeze, ZZ Top etc.  The flag was flown briefly in later years by the likes of the very wonderful Kings X of course, but in recent years there have been too few of what, to this writer, is the perfect line-up.

There was a hint of what could be on the recent ‘Machine Head’ tribute, when the stellar line-up of Chad Smith, Steve Vai and Glenn Hughes did the unthinkable and blew the already wonderful ‘Highway star’ out of the water. (okay there’s some keys on there but whose counting!) I still nurse a dream that this might become a longer term association, but then…

…I recently bought the superb album by The Winery Dogs, another amazing line up with Mike Portnoy (more gigs than Dave Grohl, anyone?) Billy (I’m going to give up playing bass now) Sheehan and Ritchie (he can sing AND play like a mother!) Kotzen. So often though, the sum of the parts is not greater, but this album is superb, chiefly because (as with Black Country Communion) the songs are SO good. A three piece rock band is an exciting thing to listen to, and to play in, I can attest to that from personal experience, because there is nowhere to hide and you have to be on your game, and it’s probably why these virtuosos are gravitating towards this particular band configuration, because it stretches them and gives them room to shine. So, all this was enough to get me salivating, but then, courtesy of my good Metal buddy Stone over at METAL ODYSSEY  I’ve also been turned onto Pinnick Gales Pridgen, yet another amazing line up of ex-Kings X, Lauryn Hill and Mars Volta musicians that channel Cream and Hendrix and serve it up fresh, new and damn hot. Check out these three videos and tell me the Power Trio isn’t on the rise!!!!

Kev Moore

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Metal, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Video, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Mother’s Finest – The Kickstarter campaign

MF

I’ve always been drawn to that bastard offspring of music – Funk Rock. Ever since a guy at my student’s union going by the unlikely name of Andy Starbuck took me aside and played me ‘Hot Wire’ by Trapeze. That led me to explore damn near everything Glenn Hughes had recorded, and in the late 70’s when I became a professional bassist and singer and went to tour for several years in Scandinavia, I discovered Mother’s Finest. Perhaps it’s the bassist in me that loves my riffs hot heavy and funky – but whatever the reason, I loved their mix of rock funk and blues, Baby Jean’s vocal screaming out over Mo’s sledgehammer riffs. When Brian Adams got Tina to sing on ‘It’s Only Love’, I was like “MF have been there and done that a decade before you dude!”.

Mother’s Finest are a pioneering, historically important band. And against all the odds, they are still out there doing it today. They haven’t released any new music for a decade, but all that’s about to change. In conjunction with the fundraising site Kickstarter, they have launched a campaign to create a brand new album with the help of their loyal fanbase. If you haven’t heard this band, you need to check them out. They have inspired so many bands that followed them. Extreme, the Dan Reed Network, and don’t tell me Prince never had them on his turntable!

It’s a niche music, because traditional metalheads shy away from it, and funk purists too, for different reasons, but for me, damn! Funk rock is greater than the sum of its parts, and nobody delivers it like Mother’s Finest. Check them out , and then head to the pledge site at the link below the video and sign up. Be a part of it and help them make their next killer album!

THE MOTHER’S FINEST KICKSTARTER PROJECT- DONATE NOW!

Kev Moore

August 27, 2013 Posted by | Metal, Music, Recording, Rock, Thoughts, Writing | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Intensity in Tent City – Leyendas del Rock 2013

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Last week, my partner Miki and I decided to sample some metal on ‘the other side of the curtain’, by attending the Leyendas del Rock festival in Villena, Spain, as concert-goers rather than as an appearing artist. Some Metal colleagues from Holland, the band PICTURE, were going to be on, ( we are appearing at the Very ‘Eavy Festival in Holland with them in 2014) – and that also gave us a chance to meet up with a mutual friend, Mark Oosterwijk, who had travelled from Holland with the band.

Chatting with Mark before Picture take the stage

Chatting with Mark before Picture take the stage

We arrived ahead of the crowd on the Wednesday night, in The Boomobile , our live-in music & art studio on wheels, and parked up in the middle of the campsite. By the morning, the gathering of metalheads had begun, and we were quickly surrounded by tents, vans, campers, and amazingly creative structures made from tarpaulines!  It was hot and dry, and when the wind was up, I was reminded of Joe Bonamassa’s “Dust Bowl”!

The organization of the whole festival, right down to the logistics of parking, stewarding, amenities and policing was superb. This is an event in it’s eighth year, and it seems to be one welcomed by the town of Villena with good grace, and runs very smoothly.

I managed to catch a few of the Spanish metal bands, some of whom were very good. LEO JIMENEZ were good, and DARKSUN in particular stood out, – I would have missed them if NASHVILLE PUSSY had arrived on time, as Darksun’s spot was brought forward and onto the main stage! DORO came out all guns blazing and seems to be cultivating an amazing young fanbase, there were some real young kids down the front giving it the ‘horns up’!

DORODORO

I was particularly looking forward to TESTAMENT and VENOM, who were headlining the Friday night, and they didn’t disappoint. Testament really gave the crowd a good pounding, and Cronos and his band have aged well, the years adding a gravitas and an ability the early Venom lacked.

cronosCronos of VENOM

PICTURE took the stage early on the Saturday evening, delivering songs from their latest album Warhorse and songs stretching back over their 30 year career, including songs from Eternal Dark, which I particularly liked. It was good to see Mark headbanging to his favourite Dutch countrymen!

Picture of...PICTURE!

Picture of…PICTURE!

The band of the festival for me were ACCEPT. They were simply in a different league to everybody else, in stagecraft, sound and musicianship. “New guy” (relatively speaking) Mark Tornillo looked entirely at home in Udo’s shoes fronting the German metallists, and has something of Brian Johnson about him. The material drawn from their last two albums is very strong indeed. Songs like Teutonic Terror (my personal favourite) Pandemic, Hung, Drawn and Quartered and Stalingrad just grabbed you by the throat, and old favourite Balls to the Wall can’t fail! It seems their resurgence continues apace, there is fire in their bellies and the fun they’re having on stage is clearly apparent, and infectious.

ACCEPT

The whole vibe of Leyendas del Rock was cool, it was fun to hang in Villena for these few days and get some Metal in! Let’s hope the festival runs for at least another eight years!

Kev Moore

August 17, 2013 Posted by | Metal, Music, Rock, Touring, Writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Bettye and Shuggie in San Javier

CIMG5067In the stage-side cafe at San Javier Jazz festival

Hot on the heels of the Cazorla Blues Festival comes the San Javier Jazz festival. The name is somewhat redundant, as Uriah Heep are appearing this year, and if they’re jazz then I’m a teapot. but, be that as it may, at least the festival, strung out over an entire month and situated in a town only a couple of hours away from where we live, affords the possibility of seeing world-class talent under the Spanish sun.

The night we picked featured Bettye LaVette, a singer who’d only come to my attention via Jools Holland’s BBC2 show ‘Later’, and who’d greatly impressed. As Bettye herself said on the night, “It’s only taken me 50 years to become an overnight success..” Approaching 70, she’s had a long, hard career in the music business, starting with her debut single in 1962: “My man- he’s a lovin’ man”. Raised in Detroit, she flirted with fame over the years. A brief stint with James Brown, a stage musical with Cab Calloway…but for the most part Bettye languished in obscurity.

It was the interest of Gilles Petard, a French soul music collector, that began to shine a light on Bettye, after he sought out and acquired the rights to her unreleased Child of the Seventies masters, having been played the mono recordings by Bettye herself. It was finally released, decades after its creation, as Souvenirs in 2000.

But it was LaVette’s appearance at the Kennedy Centre Honors, where The Who were honorees, that really gave Bettye’s career the necessary momentum. An amazing performance of Love reign o’er me had the Kennedy centre audience, most unaware of Lavette at that point, on their feet, and Townsend and Daltrey moved to tears. Just check it out:

It highlighted her ability to turn a song inside out, de-construct it, and make it her own. This led to The British Rock Songbook, a wonderful collection of British rock classics that Bettye performs as if her life depends on it.

bettyesanjavBettye at San Javier Jazz – Photo by Rafe Marquez

Seeing her live was a privilege. Her band, tight and funky, and able to draw subtle nuances out of every arrangement were a perfect complement to her rich raw vocals. Opening with Lennon and McCartney’s ‘The Word‘ she simply stole the show.  ‘Love reign o’er me’ sent shivers down my spine, and when she announced a Neil Young cover “Heart of Gold” with the tongue-in cheek statement “but I sing it better”, you damn well believed her before she’d even sang a note.

Bettye LaVette cover

I met and chatted with her bassist, James Simonson after the show, a real nice guy, who was still buzzing about meeting Marcus Miller at the North Sea Jazz fest just days ago.  We got into ‘bassist’ talk for a while.  I asked him to pass on my compliments to Bettye and the band, and I bought The British Rock Songbook that very night.  Bettye’s message, throughout her long career is an unspoken, yet potent one: If you’re good, believe in it, and don’t give up. ever. As she approaches 70, Bettye LaVette’s got a helluva lot more to give.

shuggie-otisShuggie Otis

Shuggie Otis. I knew the name, but was fairly unacquainted with his music. However, a quick rummage through my record collection revealed that I owned “Strawberry letter 23” by The Brothers Johnson on their greatest hits CD. This was a Shuggie-penned tune, and this recording of it gave Shuggie his big break. Just listening to it, you can hear how he was to become a huge influence on the likes of Prince and Lenny Kravitz. It’s a great piece of pop-funk-psychedelia. I awaited his performance with interest.  With a 9 piece band, the arrangements were superb, and the musicianship absolutely top-notch. Shuggie’s fluid guitar playing, especially when he played the blues was also pretty impressive. But…..

….the guy was on another planet. I don’t know what he’d been smoking, but the end result was that it seemed like he just couldn’t be bothered to reach the notes when he was singing (or finish sentences when he was talking) in contrast to Bettye, who, although not speaking Spanish spoke slowly and clearly to the audience. Shuggie was a disaster. I was willing him to sing properly. Every now and again he would seem to remember where he was and a couple of lines would suddenly leap out clear and powerful, then just lapse away again.  When they played ‘Wings of Love’, a fine song with a fantastic arrangement, beautifully performed, his voice just destroyed it. He also looked like he couldn’t get away fast enough, and his son and brother who were band members sort of hung around on stage to try and get everybody to ask for an encore, which he eventually gave.  These people paid to see you man. You are an undeniable talent. Stay focused, and make the effort.

Kev Moore

July 26, 2013 Posted by | blues, Jazz Rock, Music, Thoughts, Touring, Writing | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Tale of Two Festivals – Part Four: The Cazorla Blues Festival

CIMG3569Lock & Load: Cooling off: Spanish-Style!

By the Friday, the whole town was in on the Party, beneath the unforgiving sun, the blues fans boogied, shimmied, got drunk, and availed themselves of the spring water that flowed freely all over town, almost as freely as the beer!  The variety of acts was great, even though I has some misgivings about the inclusion on the Thursday night of Fito and Fitipaldis (or Emerson and the Fitipaldis as I couldn’t resist christening them) -who were plainly a Spanish ‘chart’ band, and an undeniably big draw. A commercial decision? Certainly. The right decision? I’m not so sure.

CIMG3613The Blues is Thirsty work….

The Friday night saw the likes of Little Mike and the Tornadoes – a fast talking New Yorker who delivered a powerful set…then we were assailed by Janiva Magness, a woman who, if the bio in the programme was to be believed, had suffered immeasurable hardships in her life. Her considered portrait alongside however, did not prepare us for the behemoth of bad taste that tottered onto the stage in impossibly high heels. The woman can sing, and sing well….but I can’t help feeling she needs direction, both in choice of material, and dress sense. But that’s just my opinion. I’d so wanted to see UK blues stalwarts Nine below Zero, but their inexplicable time slot of 3.30am meant that realistically wasn’t going to happen.

CIMG3584Suzzete Moncrief

Saturday afternoon saw Suzzete Moncrief accompanied by guitarist Lito Fernandez on the stage in the old square. She did a great job, and had the sweltering crowd with her, particularly on ‘Dock of the Bay’ where the whole crowd attempted to whistle the solo!

CIMG3597Chino & The Big Bet

Next up, Chino and the Big Bet, one of my favourites of the festival. A resonator guitar, half a drumset and an upright bass, this Spanish trio from Barcelona proved to be excellent exponents of Blues and Swing, having come 2nd in the European Blues Challenge. Although the seemed a little ill-at-ease out of the confines of their more normal club-sized gigs, they nevertheless delivered an endearing set with great style and feel.

los-coronasLos Coronas

The Saturday night of course, we headed to the Plaza del Toros for George Thorogood, but we were blown away by the band that took to the stage before him. the band of the festival for me. Los Coronas were simply magnificent. Imagine being thrown into a dream where you were at a rock concert that kept morphing between surf city, a Quentin Tarantino movie, and a Spaghetti Western, and you might get an idea what Los Coronas are all about. Their set, devoid of all vocals save “Poison Ivy” sung by their drummer, who does the whole set standing up (some of the most magnificent snare work I’ve ever witnessed, by the way) – is a journey, cinematic in scope, on the wings of blistering, glorious twanging guitars, channeling Duane Eddie, The Surfaris, and Ennio Morricone.  Many years ago, in a covers band, we would play ‘Wipe Out’ as a filler, a throwaway number….when these guys exploded into it about three-quarters of the way through their set, it was pure joy. If anyone had told me I could not just sit through a 90-minute instrumental set, but wildly enjoy it, I would have said they were crazy. All wearing White cowboy hats and shades, and possessed of a trumpeter extraordinaire, surrealistically hailing from the Ukraine, they exuded style, cool, top-drawer musicianship and self-deprecating wit – they were one of the best live acts I have ever seen.

GeorgeThorogoodGeorge Thorogood

It is to George Thorogood’s credit that he was able to follow that, it would have killed most bands. his open statement “Somebody’s got to go to jail for rock’n’roll, it might as well be me!” set the tone for the evening, and he  and the tornadoes delivered a blistering set that had to of course, feature his take on John Lee Hooker’s “One Bourbon, One Scotch and One Beer”, and the classic “Bad to the Bone”, where he wrings ever last drop of blues out of the slide that attacks his hollowbody guitar.

Cazorla Blues – you have some festival here. Love the town, love the people love the vibe, but keep your eyes on what’s real. Don’t let pop insinuate itself. Keep this festival BLUES.

Kev Moore

July 24, 2013 Posted by | Blue Odyssey CD, blues, Music, Recording, Touring, Writing | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment