CD Reviews

Various Artists - 'War Horses - Angel Air Rocks!' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 01, 2011    
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A perfect introduction to an excellent label.

This is the second excellent compilation from Angel Air Records I've reviewed in as many issues of Fireworks. Last time it was a collection of bands with a more progressive outlook on their music, while this time 'War Horses-Angel Air Rocks!' groups together some of the more straight ahead, good old fashioned rock bands on the label's roster. Featuring nineteen songs and eighteen bands (Bullet get two tracks, although they are 'Doors Opens' and 'Door Slams', which with them being exactly as their titles suggest, means that the twenty or so seconds they take up doesn't really represent what is an excellent band very well), although some musicians feature on numerous occasions, this compilation takes in everything from Southern Fried Boogie, to proggy classic rock, poppy AOR and straight Heavy Metal.

The multi talented Robin George manages most appearances, featuring on the punchy classic rock of 'Rebecca' by the David Byron Band (Byron's post Uriah Heep career is well worth investigating), the dirty riffed upped 'Savage Song' by Damage Control (also featuring Pete Way (UFO/Waysted) and Chris Slade (AC/DC/The Firm/Asia)), the heavy pop rock of 'Radio Silence' by Notorious, who also featured Sean Harris of Diamond Head on vocals, as well as 'Judy', a guitar heavy slice of pop rock from his solo work, where George shows his blazing six string skills and ear for a catchy chorus. The other repeat offender is Bobby Harrison, whose gritty, powerful vocals show up on the funky southern blues of 'Bleed Me Dry' by Nobody's Business, and the thunderous riff of Freedom's 'Going Down'. The contributions from both these musicians make this collection worth having alone, but when they are joined by the likes of the fantastic, urgent, razor sharp 'Hit The Right Button (Make The Elevator Stop)' by Heavy Metal Kids, which is one of my favourite songs on the album, the big smack of guitars that is 'Harry Farr' from Stray's new album 'Valhalla', and a gloriously funky version of Free's 'Wishing Well' by the phenomenal vocal talents of Maggie Bell, and things just keep getting better.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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If I was being ultra critical, I could easily have done without Oliver Dawson Saxon and their take on their previous band's classic '747 (Strangers In The Night)', where their vocalist John Ward (Shy) only really illustrates how integral Biff Byford is to the Saxon sound. However if that is the only down side, then there really isn't much, if anything, to complain about. Other artists featured include Gerry McAvoy (bassist with the late great Rory Gallagher), Fandango - the Nick Simper (ex-Deep Purple) version, not the Joe Lynn Turner band, Quatermass II, Krokus, at their irresistible best with 'Blood Comes Easy', McCoy - the raucous 'Oh Well' being the excellent track chosen, Gillan (which also means that John McCoy features twice – before someone picks me up on that!) and the smart commercial punk of British Lions.

Eclectic it may well be but 'War Horses' is all the better for it and as a starting place this is a perfect introduction to an excellent label.

Steven Reid

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