MUSIC DISCOVERY MONDAY – 2/12/18
Music Discovery Monday shines a light on artists that are not getting the radio attention that they deserve, while also showcasing new singles by established bands that are likely to get airplay in the future.
In addition to appearing on the embedded YouTube playlist below, all songs featured on Music Discovery Monday can be listened to individually by clicking on the hyper-linked song titles above each review.
ADAM WALDMAN – (Publisher/Editor, Hard Rock Daddy)
STEVE HACKETT – “When The Heart Rules The Mind”
Back in 1986, before supergroups were all the rage, Genesis guitarist Steve Hackett and Yes guitarist Steve Howe teamed up to form GTR. The band’s name came from the abbreviation of “guitar,” which is used to label guitar tracks in recording studios. Though the band featured two top prog guitarists, the original version of “When The Heart Rules The Mind” was very much album oriented rock that was geared towards radio play.
Although I have always loved the original, there is a vibe to it that feels more nostalgic than timeless. A review of GTR’s version of the song was featured on Hard Rock Music Time Machine in June of 2016.
In a recent interview with Prog, Hackett shared the inspiration for re-recording this ‘80s classic…
“I always loved the track. I think that it is the strongest thing that Steve Howe and I wrote together, and always wanted to do a version where I would sing it myself with the use of today’s production techniques. I’m also very pleased to have my friend Steve Rothery [Marillion] on board doing additional guitar.”
Artists re-recording songs from their past (especially hits) can be a hit-or-miss proposition. Sometimes, like in the case of Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again,” the updated version far exceeds the original. Sometimes, like in the case of Def Leppard adding keyboards to the original version of “Bringing On The Heartbreak,” the updated version left you wondering why they didn’t just leave well enough alone.
Hackett’s version falls somewhere in between, but much closer to Whitesnake than Def Leppard. Hackett’s new take on the song is brilliant. What he did was take a song that clearly marks a specific point in time and turn it into a timeless classic. This interpretation strips away some of the sweetness that made it a radio hit, and replaces it with warmer vocals and prog influences.
By keeping the bones of the original intact, Hackett ensured that the 2018 version of “When The Heart Rules The Mind” will appeal to the those who loved GTR’s version. The changes made to the song should broaden the appeal of the song to those who are prog fans, but not necessarily AOR fans. Threading the needle like this is no easy feat, but Hackett has done it flawlessly on this inspired interpretation of an ’80s hit.
SCHERER/BATTEN – “Battlezone”
If ever there was an act that was tailor-made for Music Discovery Monday, Scherer/Batten is it! Ironically, this dynamic duo has long since been discovered by other musicians – most notably Jim Peterik (Survivor) – just not fans. Peterik discovered the soaring vocals of Marc Scherer in the recording studio that he owns while Scherer was laying down vocal tracks.
The duo began working together to record some of the “hidden gems” that the Grammy Award winning Peterik had written in the past. It didn’t take long for them to realize that they were on to something special. A friend of Scherer’s suggested that they bring in guitarist extraordinaire Jennifer Batten.
If you’ve seen the recent documentary Hired Gun (which I highly recommend), you already know that there are some supreme talents out there who fly under the radar of the masses, but are highly respected in musical circles. Batten is far from a household name, but if you listen to her play, you’ll wonder why that is. Batten is a hired gun with a boatload of talent, but no real name recognition to speak of (despite having played with Michael Jackson and Jeff Beck).
Although Batten was only brought in to work on a few tracks, that quickly changed into something more. In an interview with AXS, Peterik stated…
“What really impressed me about Jennifer was the fact that she came totally prepared. We knew right away that she wasn’t fiddling around. She’s like another voice. That’s when the project became something different, and we decided to change it to Marc Scherer / Jennifer Batten.”
As a session guitarist, Batten was only expecting to do her thing and move on, but this time, things were different. In the same interview with AXS, Batten stated…
“Originally, they called me up to do a session, and it was a whirlwind couple of days. Most sessions I do take a while, but we ended up recording four songs that first day, and the following morning we got back together and wrote ‘Battlezone.’ It was the most productive session that I’ve ever had in my life.”
On “Battlezone,” outstanding songwriting meets vocals and guitars that soar in unison. From Batten’s first notes, which bring back memories of Eddie Van Halen’s “Eruption,” to the upbeat, feel-good vibe of Scherer’s stunning vocals, this song works on all levels. It’s mind-boggling that this song was written by virtual strangers who were clearly destined to work together.
If you’re a fan of the work that Joe Lynn Turner did with Yngwie Malmsteen back in the day, you are going to absolutely love the tour de force that is Scherer / Batten.
KURT ARFT – HRD Music Scout
PHIL CAMPBELL AND THE BASTARD SONS – “Dark Days”
Motorhead ended due to the unexpected passing of Lemmy Kilmister in 2015. Although I was sad that it was the end for such an iconic band, I agreed with the decision for the remaining members to not continue on as Motorhead. I mean, how could they without their legendary leader? I was left to wonder what Mikkey Dee and Phil Campbell were going to do next. Let’s face it, these guys are legendary players in their own right.
Dee ended up joining the Scorpions. Campbell formed Phil Campbell And The Bastard Spiders with his three sons – Todd (guitar), Dane (drums), and Tyla (bass) – and singer Neil Starr.
The band performed at one of the most prestigious European festivals (Wacken) in August of 2015. That November, they released their first EP. This January, Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons released their first full length album, Age of Absurdity. The album is a collection of songs with the riffs and sounds that harken back to Campbell’s Motorhead days, mixed with the sound and attitude of today’s hard rock and metal. You have to imagine that this was partly due to input from his sons and Starr. The album is an early contender for my Top Albums of 2018 list for sure, and we’re just into February.
“Dark Days” is a standout song on Age Of Absurdity. It’s a heavy, bluesy, dirty, groove-laden tune with thick guitars, heavy bass and drum-driven rhythms, and a catchy melody sung by Starr. It also has some nice little added flavors with the harmonica and slide guitar. This tune will definitely add a swagger to your walk that may even score you some points with the ladies. I could absolutely hear this song being used by some of those fine girls in gentlemen’s clubs everywhere.
All in all, Campbell and his boys have created a complete body of work with Age of Absurdity. They’ve used everything in the musical tool box to bless our ears with some great hard rock/metal. He has found a great, fresh, powerful voice in Starr, whose vocals remind me of a combination of Adam Gontier (Three Days Grace, Saint Asonia) and Chris Robertson of Black Stone Cherry.
Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons will be touring Europe from late February through the middle of March. Hopefully, they’ll bring the tour to the states as well. If they do, be sure to catch them. I’m sure their live show will be electric! In the meantime, get yourself familiar with these boys. Go and buy their album and share it with your friends.
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – “The Luddite”
Corrosion of Conformity is back! Returning to the fold is frontman/guitarist Pepper Keenan, who was sorely missed by the band and COC fans all over the world. The band has just released their newest album, No Cross No Crown. This is their first album with Keenan since 2005’s In The Arms of God. Having him back makes COC look and sound like the band that you remember. They have brought back that classic COC sound with a vengeance. This is stoner/southern/doom metal at its finest.
“The Luddite” has the classic COC feel and sound of songs like “Vote With A Bullet” and “Albatross.” Keenan is sounding better than ever with his vocal delivery and guitar playing. Along with guitarist Woodroe Weatherman, bassist Mike Dean, and drummer Reed Mullin, COC has delivered an album for the ages with No Cross No Crown.
The band’s unmistakable sound is fresher than ever. I’m elated that they have returned to continue their journey. They are currently out on tour with Black Label Society. This is a must-see show if they come to a venue near you!
To be considered for Music Discovery Monday, please e-mail a link to the song being submitted on YouTube and an artist bio to – submissions@MusicDiscoveryMonday.com