LARRY WALLIS & THE BRAINS – Leather Forever 2023

Larry Wallis was one of rock’s nearly men. He was a member of UFO for about three weeks in 1972. He adopted the guitarist’s role in the Pink Fairies later in the decade, by which time, the band were arguably past their best. He recorded a riff-based single, ‘Police Car’ for Stiff Records in 1977 that failed to chart. Even in terms of other Stiff product from the time, it’s not always the most celebrated.

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Right from her big US breakthrough in 2011, Samantha Fish has been one of those artists who could often be relied upon for a quality product. Carving out a niche in dirty blues rock on her earlier albums, the guitarist/vocalist often sounds more interesting than the plagiaristic Joe Bonamassa and more charismatic than many blues performers. Moving forward, she branched out into R&B (2017’s ‘Chills & Fever’ and 2019’s ‘Kill Or Be Kind’) and even a bit of country (2017’s Belle of The West’). At her very best, her work sounds like a homage to the bluesiest side Bonnie Raitt colliding with early ZZ Top – a fiery concoction that allows for some brilliantly impassioned vocals and hefty slide playing. Even at her worst, occasionally phoning in blues rockers with more balls than brains, her sense of presence and a strong vocal style is enough to maintain interest.

This live release from 2022 will certainly please fans who’ve not been quite so enamoured with Sam’s softer side and musical curveballs in the few years leading up to its release. A seven song set recorded without an audience, the prosaically titled ‘Live’ presents seven tracks from ‘Kill Or Be Kind’ in a very natural state. The lack of overdubs allows the material to breathe, and the one-take recordings more than show Fish’s vocal talents at their absolute sharpest.

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JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE – Great Zeppelin II: A Tribute To Led Zeppelin

There’s a lot of brilliant material to be found within the original Great White catalogue prior to their split in 2000. In fact, the run of albums released between 1987’s ‘Once Bitten’ and 1994’s ‘Sail Away’ resembles a body of work that’d make most rock bands very proud. Unfortunately, some of that greatness has since been overshadowed by legal wrangles and a complicated set up meaning there effectively became two bands operating under the Great White name. Looking beyond that, you’ll still find enjoyable tracks from both camps, and although hampered a little by vocal filters, the studio debut from Jack Russell’s Great White (‘He Saw it Comin’’, released via Frontiers Records in 2017) showed there was a lot of life left in the veteran vocalist.

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