Plane Groovy Records were well ahead of the curve with regards to any kind of vinyl revival. Long before the retro format had a huge presence in HMV and before Record Store Day became a cash-cow on the record buyers’ calendar, the UK label was championing the format with high quality pressings of cult titles. They provided the only physical format for the first Strange Majik album and were responsible for bespoke, limited pressings of Big Big Train albums and more besides.
Take two two key members of the original Hardline, the guitarist from Italian melodic rock band Hungryheart and a bunch of strong chorus driven songs and you have a more than reasonable recipe for AOR success. Johnny Gioeli’s delivery can sometimes err on the side of being too bombastic, but in comparison to some of his peers, he still possesses a voice that holds up and when teamed with Hardline/Journey drummer Deen Castronovo, he sounds better than ever. It’s that sense of drive that gives this release most of its strength. After just one full listen, it’s obvious ‘Set The World On Fire’ has no real filler material; it’s dozen rockers so often play like a greatest hits of the best bits from the Frontiers Records catalogue from 2011-2016 and for that alone, so many AOR buffs will consider it an essential addition to their ever growing collections. It’s unlikely to be at all far reaching beyond those whom already consider themselves fans of the musicians involved, but in many ways, to expect more would be kind of beside the point. For what it does – at least in terms of songwriting and performance – this is a great record.
Credited as playing “unapologetic rock ‘n’ roll”, on their 2018 EP ‘Hot Trash’, Sydney’s Fox Company certainly bring an impressive amount of swagger. They often favour loving homages to the past within their music, but they’ve obviously decided there would be no point in messing with an established formula. That seems quite sensible when the 70s and 90s rock styles are as brilliantly played as they are here.
Following in the footsteps of various archive solo releases by Graham Bonnet – ranging from his unreleased solo debut to a three disc anthology of unreleased recordings from his time in Australia – this six disc box set from Hear No Evil Records gives Bonnet’s fans another reason to celebrate. ‘The Official Bootleg Box Set 1983-1986’ does exactly what it says on the tin. It presents three different live shows from Texas on the ‘No Parole From Rock ‘N’ Roll’ tour – featuring Yngwie Malmsteen on guitar – alongside three discs’ worth of rehearsals and demos culled from a four year period.
In 2017, Salvation Jayne released ‘Moves That Make The Record Skip‘, an EP that captured a selection of enjoyable (if not particularly original) hard rock tunes with a bluesy slant. Between some smart slide playing and a solid lead vocal from Chess Smith, Salvation Jayne appeared to be one of the better blues-inflected hard rock bands on the UK circuit.