2018 was a very busy year for Johnny Gioeli. He released two well received discs in both his solo album and a collaboration with Deen Castronovo, but also found time to work on a new Hardline record. At a time where the respected rock singer appeared to be in strong voice, he was perhaps wise to take advantage of this burst of creativity, but has releasing three albums in a little under a year spread those talents a little too thinly?
As is their tradition, Cherry Red Records and their many associated subsidiaries have dozens of fantastic box sets and reissues lined up for the year’s second and third quarters. As we move firmly into Spring, Real Gone picks a few essentials lurking just over the horizon.
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.
When Doug Aldrich left Whitesnake in 2013 after an on-off seven year stint, it was potentially a huge blow to the band. For Doug, though, it was the definitely right thing to do, since the ‘Snake had been trading on goodwill for years and by the time of the ‘Forevermore’ tour in 2011, to suggest David Coverdale’s voice wasn’t…quite up to scratch would be putting it very politely. Since then, as an in demand musician, Aldrich has hardly kept a low profile: he’s recorded with melodic rock supergroup Revolution Saints, had success with hard rockers The Dead Daisies and latterly resurrected his hard rock outfit Burning Rain.
On their debut EP ‘Blackbird’, The Riven showed a lot of promise. With a fusion of hard rock and blues, the EP presented five songs with an old fashioned spirit and some great vocals, but was rather let down by its recording budget. Sadly, tunes that deserved a huge crunch were all too often left feeling a little muddy.
A lot happened over the next couple of years. The band relocated from London to Sweden, played live shows, gained a recording deal with The Sign Records [home to Wheel In The Sky, Highrider and Grande Royale] and then decamped to Spain to record a full length album.