Beauvoir-Free: American Trash
As co-founders of Crown Of Thorns, whose self-titled debut album from 1994 remains a melodic rock touchstone, Jean Beauvoir and Micki Free require no introduction. Signed for a million dollars and managed by Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, COT should have been huge, though their career stalled when Interscope opted to mothball said debut, later awarded a belated independent release. Although guitarist Free quit within a year, blond-mohawked ex-Plasmatics frontman Beauvoir continues to lead COT.
The question of whether magic might still exist between the pair after so long apart is answered by the sleek, tight groove of magnificent opening number Angels Fly. A track worthy of the COT debut, Morning After is better still. Remarkably, from the hook-driven swagger of American Trash, to lighter-waving ballad Just Breathe and the irresistible Never Give Up the quality never dips.
It closes with the harmonious majesty of There’s No Starting Over, leaving us hoping that a brand new beginning is precisely what’s in store for Messrs Beauvoir and Free./o:p
Dennis Churchill Dries: I
Written after the death of his White Sister bandmate Rick Chadock, I is an emotionally charged solo debut album from Dennis Churchill Dries. Produced by Paul Sabu, it finds the erstwhile member of Tattoo Rodeo in exceptional voice, and the material here at times echoing the delicious pomp of White Sister. (8⁄10)
Ten: Isla De Muerta
Just six months after returning to action with the critically acclaimed Albion following a two-year absence, Ten have wasted little time in delivering this swashbuckling follow-up (the titular Isla De Muerta is the mythical Island Of The Dead of piracy legend). As ever, the fingerprints of mainman Gary Hughes are all over its 11 songs. This is nautical… but very nice indeed. **(7⁄10) **
Mark Slaughter: Reflections In A Rear View Mirror
Having performed all of the instruments himself barring the drums, this is a true solo album for Slaughter frontman Mark Slaughter. That distinctive delivery is wrapped around some wonderfully infectious material, notably Never Givin’ Up, the mellower Carry Me Back Home and Don’t Turn Away, a duet with Gena Johnson. (7⁄10)
House Of Lords: Indestructible
Now on to the 10th chapter of a tale that began way back in 1988, California’s House Of Lords continue to represent quality and reliability in what can be an erratic, unpredictable genre. Their co-founder, ex-Angel maestro Gregg Giuffria, is long gone, of course, as is the focus on keyboards in general, although James Christian’s formidable voice remains an impressive focal point. (8⁄10)/o:p