Italian punk ‘n’ roll outfit Beatersband began cranking out good time sounds in 2018. Although they spent a couple of their early years hampered by a pandemic lockdown in terms of reaching live audiences, they more than made up for that with a prolific output. By the end of 2022, their comprises three albums, several singles and a brilliant cassette (‘Un Tuffo Nel Passatto’) which supplies the ultimate crash course in their work to date.
For his first solo album, Chilean vocalist Ronnie Romero took the easy route and put together a covers album. To be fair, it’s not like he had anything to prove; in the year before its recording, he’d already recorded well-received albums with both Lords of Black and The Ferrymen. He wasn’t about to spend much time coasting along recycling other peoples’ classic rock works either, since he then released an album with his other band Sunstorm, which hit the shelves barely four months later.
Although often billed as the world’s biggest prog rock supergroup, The Prog Collective is actually more of a revolving gang of musicians. Working with an incredibly fluid line up, it’s merely an umbrella name that allows multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood to call on various friends according to their appropriate talents. If this sounds like a similar set up to one of Sherwood’s many tribute albums, it’s with very good reason. The Prog Collective’s main difference – at least on their first two albums – came from the idea that the gathering of talent would record original material. It’s also clear that Sherwood believed, perhaps correctly, that the mystique of a “prog supergroup” would attract more listeners than one of his many solo projects.
Ronnie Romero is one of those vocalists who never seems to stop working. Between the beginning of 2016 and the end of 2021, he released three albums with his own prog metal band Lords of Black, two as frontman with power metal collaborative The Ferrymen (featuring the multi-talented Magnus Karlsson), an album apiece with Sunstorm and Vandenberg, embarked on major tours with Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and even guested with Michael Schenker.
Electric Six’s debut album, 2003’s ‘Fire’, was a runaway success. On that record, the band’s disco/garage rock hybrid sound caught the ears of a generation and, back when such things were important, its massive singles gained heavy rotation on the music TV channels. The live shows that followed stoked up the fun, with “dance commander” Dick Valentine, indeed, showing a decent command of an audience looking for big grooves and cheap thrills. Things might not have worked out quite so well in a tent at the Reading Festival that year when the attendant crowd heckled endlessly for ‘Gay Bar’ – and only wanted to hear ‘Gay Bar’ – but being a smart cookie, Valentine managed to keep everyone under control while working through really spirited renditions of the album tracks until the restless crowd finally got their wish. A lesser frontman might have allowed things to descend into chaos, but despite half the audience’s indifference beyond the hits, it ended up being a superb show.