ANIMAL DRIVE – Back To The Roots EP

In 2018, Croatian hard rockers Animal Drive released their debut album ‘Bite!’ on Frontiers Records. With plenty of hard rock crunch, the record drew parallels with the heavier end of Skid Row’s early output, as well as showing off more than a passing fancy with the late, great Ronnie James Dio. The record featured at least a half dozen cuts that were well worth hearing, but if anything, it was the Dio-tastic ‘Time Machine’ with its heavy but melodic riff which best demonstrated the band’s skills.

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THE PHANTOMS – Covers ’65-’75 EP

Teaming The Zeros’ vocalist Victor Penalosa with The Trebles’ guitarist Xavier Anaya, garage rock band The Phantoms released a full length on Rum Bar Records back in 2015. Tapping into various retro grooves and kicking off with the superbly trashy bar-room workout ‘Baby Loves Her Rock ‘n’ Roll’, the record was well received by the underground press. Two years on, the band reunited and recorded a bunch of no-frills cover tunes.

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ROBERT REX WALLER, Jr. – Fancy Free

robert rex waller jrA prolific songwriter and member of Los Angeles’ I See Hawks In LA, Robert Rex Waller, Jr puts his mark on 2016 with a covers project ‘Fancy Free’. Named after the Oak Ridge Boys hit that has pride of place midway through his thirteen track journey through the past, his choice of title could also refer to the decrease in pressure that comes from having material already written.

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JORN – Heavy Rock Radio

jorn heavy rock radio lpPossessed with one of the biggest voices in rock – possibly the biggest, alongside his regular collaborator Russell Allen – Jorn Lande has carved out a career with some great releases over the years. His place as Dio’s natural successor is very much assured due to a few albums of self-penned material often presenting well-honed performances. He’s also fond of a cover tune or six: his 2010 album ‘Dio’, in particular, did exactly what it said on the tin, with Lande putting his stamp on tunes originally brought into the public eye by the late, great Ronnie James, the results meeting critical acclaim. Some six years on from his Dio-fest, Lande’s eleventh studio album ‘Heavy Rock Radio’ finds the huge voiced Norwegian wheeling out more covers. This time, however, the results are sometimes questionable. So questionable in places, the disc could have perhaps been subtitled “Jesus Christ, How Did This Happen?”. The answer to that should-be-rhetorical question, of course, simply being “because he’s Jorn Lande”. As most people know, with Jorn you only get Jorn, and that means – whatever the material in hand – it’s very much a case of “dials up to eleven and needle in the red” all the way. In this respect, he’s very much made each of the cuts his own, but frankly, his choices don’t always work.

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