What I've just
received is the second CD from the ascending New Zealander, actually
a self-release from his clan where only the session-member on the keyboards
Matt Schmitt is not a member of the family and even the cover was photographed
by a relative of Tony's. Of course we appreciate and feel closer to
those who have this sort of DIY spirit, but if I have to be honest,
that's also a double-edged weapon, and I'm referring to the fact that
5 songs unexplainably have a drum programming ruining them and the remaining
ones a human drummer; I believe that even if you're not a sound freak,
you'll agree with me when listening to the huge difference between the
2 groups, and the shame is even bigger as the maimed songs are top-notch
too and most of all because Tony is a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist,
drum programmer, singer, songwriter and...audio engineer!
However, let's proceed in order: "If Your Love Was A River"
is a pearl of class hard rock with an excellent backed-up refrain à
la Toto; it's not a case it's been chosen for a video; the hit is furtherly
spiced by a good pulsating bass work and strapping delayed guitars in
My favourite track is very likely "I Belong", opened
by a luxurious lick and based on warm vocals accompanying lyrics that
see me have a common taste about women with the New Zealand guitar hero,
though the ones about life differ. The hook before the chorus owes much
to the Cult, but then it just turns into a touching rock, where the
guitar solo is followed by a good guitar plot, once again embellished
by the back-up vocals and the semi-hidden keyboards.
A bit strange and cheerful is the title-track, which is gonna get stuck
at your minds owing to its penetrating refrain, unfortunately not exhalted
by the cold programming, which is the biggest fault in "And
the Wind Blows" too; this song is a pop-rock ballad with longing
80's-rooted vocals really thrilling my spine as they're so performed
so well; I can close an eye on the previous track but here I don't understand
how the excessive and ungraceful drum programming might've been chosen;
the problem mostly resides in the hi-hats, completely unnatural and
when you have a ballad and a blues guitar soloing, you can't digest
the final effect the first times you listen to the piece. I suggest
Tony should record it again for his next CD with a real drummer.
As for "Porch Rocker Blues", the title says it all!
Nothing more than a lazy blues, but no end effective and catchy, men!
The instrumental "The Chequered Flag" is a masterpiece
of lively 70's progressive rock, among Genesis, Gentle Giant and Deep
Purple, in which a precious solo by Tony couldn't be missing.
The hammond also rules the psychedelic "The End Draweth Nigh",
above which the Pink Floyd spectre hovers about steadily along with
Frank Zappa and King Crimson in a lesser measure, thanks to the bell
tolls, the added noises and especially the vocals. A composition very
different than the others, completely out of time on which to make our
astral bodies travel.
"Come Back Baby" brings the band back dealing with
blues coordinates, a tad erotic, soon blazing with alive drums, therefore
the feeling is preserved this time! Accomplices are urchin Tony's riffs
"Oh Yeah" is a concentrate of energetic rock heavily
debtor to Led Zeppelin's tunes and sounds; the echoed refrain won't
be forgotten and makes the song pleasant to be listened to again and
The sax played by Nathan Koretz has the lion's share in "Every
Time It Hurts", sweet, with suffused keyboards and a Guns 'n'
Roses axe solo till the rhythmic section comes in; naturally this song
is suitable to create a certain atmosphere for romantics's most téte-a-téte
moments; Tony exhibits himself in an acoustic Spanish-like solo and
afterwards a Kotzenian electric one.
The long and sad "The Tears" contains splendid lyrics,
another de-luxe solo and alternates the melody through the piano and
the distorted outbursts; the vocal lines are literally divine, I mean
the chorus is superlative here and the significant back-up vocals before
the solo make this song sound like written during a collaboration among
Eagles, Yes, and Pink Floyd.
The over 51 minutes come to and end thanks to "Hope against
Hope", a beach beat-rock composition with excellent really
artistic vocals and badly-assorted drum beats; notwithstanding this,
I am convinced that if this song had been released in the early 80's,
it would've been a sure shot to the top of pop charts.
No Rap, no crap, this is Rock and Mr. Koretz has proved he's got it
in his DNA. Had this CD been released later with all of the songs played
by a human being, the mark would've been far much higher; anyhow, if
you don't happen to be a perfectionist as I am, you may easily enjoy
these 12 tracks played in a style mixing Joe Satriani, Eddie Van Halen,
Rex Carrol and Kerry Livgren.
Vintage guitar-based rock will never die until musicians like Tony are
on a patrol searching for puppets to unmask...
MARKUS GANZHERRLICH - 12/9/04
-Destiny (CD - 2000)
-Kicking Cans (CD - 2004)