Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

November 14, 2010

Black Night: Deep Purple Tribute According To New York

(Click on heading to visit T.M. Steven's official website.)
Style: hard rock, tribute, funk
Label: Revolver Music
Year: 1997
Home: New York City

Members: T.M. Stevens ~ bass/lead vocals

Guests: Joe Lynn Turner, Tony Harnell, Cory Glover ~ lead vocals
Simon Gregory ~ guitars/b. vocals
Will Calhoun, Van Romaine ~ drums/b. vocals
Cindy Blackman ~ drums
Ritchie Kotzen ~ lead vocals/guitars
Al Pitrelli, Lars Y. Loudamp, Steve Salas, Vinnie Moore ~ guitars
Bernie Worrell ~ keyboards

I tend to avoid compilations as potential reviews as it will undoubtely turn into a situation of judging one band against another & if I like one contributing band but not another I'm in an uncomfortable position of comparison ... but, this is an interesting compilation as it's produced by funk bassmaster T.M. Stevens & features only fellow New York musicians ... many of whom aren't household names but whose careers as just illustrious as anyone else ... with the set number of musicians organized so no two songs feature the same line-up though the same musicians are all over the album with T.M. Stevens as the one stable factor & Living Colour drummer Will Calhoun coming in near second. Also, I happen to be a big fan of Richie Blackmore, but who isn't, & of guitarist Al Pitrelli who rips through four tracks. Speaking of Al ... the roster of musicians on this tribute - wow! The list is the best of NYC, though by far not inclusive of all the great talent in the city. It includes alumni/members of Rainbow, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, TNT, Living Colour, UFO, Mick Jagger, Lenny Kravitz, Steve Morse, Poison, Mr. Big & more. & yes, they all live up to their reputations which isn't always the case with tribute albums of this type. Besides rotating through Stevens backing band over the years, many of these musicians have played together in numerous other projects or even been in the same bands. The comraderie comes through. There might not be a single real or permanent band on the outing, but the inherent cohesiveness of sounds & styles says differently. So often one-off tribute line-ups like this are created by people who don't each other & the music suffers because no one is on the same page. But, with long shared histories & Stevens keeping a watchful eye on the outcome this compilation does not suffer like most of its stilted 'in it for the money only' label created cousins & easily rises to the top of tribute albums. As for the music itself. This is not Richie Blackmore. No one can copy his style ... if they can even play that fast & nimbly. Though at times some of the guitarists come close in their own individual way, but the point here is obviously not to imitate but pay tribute. There's a big difference that a lot of bands misunderstand when doing covers. Focusing on imitation is where other tribute albums usually fail. The point is also to give the album a New York City edge, which obviously deters some inclinations to imitate. Which, for Stevens, is to funk Deep Purple up. For those that think Deep Purple can't be funked up the results are shocking & exstatic. Blackmore has always been a very melodic player, avoiding the cliche riffing style, so putting a funk behind his rock rhythms doesn't sound like two strangers coming together. Given Blackmore's diverse inspirations he'd probably approve of the resulting interpretations. Even a reggae-fied "Child In Time" comes across successfully, with the great Bernie Worrell on keys though it migrates into a rock sound. Further, you usually don't get to hear most of these guys ... and girl, laying their stuff over a bed of funk so this is a treat. Upbeat, fun, & it gives an equal balance to funk & rock, more in the sense that the rhythm is funk & the leads are undoubtedly rock. At times it reminds me of Band of Gypsies, Hendrix's funk outfit. Sometimes when you have an album with such a star line-up you aim to listen for a particular musician. Yes, I'll confess I bought this album for Pitrelli, but this is an album where you stop trying to focus in on the details cause the whole thing is an exciting collage of sound ... the way it should be with no superstars just a bunch of good old city boys jammin'. As for is this a particularly NYC sound? Well, what is a NYC sound? I've always seen it as Lou Reed, but heroin isn't mentioned anywhere on the album nor are there any screechy Velvet Underground-like tirades. While it's definetly not the New York Dolls, Twisted Sister, Beastie Boys & there's not a bit of Broadway in sight. So, who really can say. It's definetly not L.A. glam, that's for sure. For the curious, all the hits are here: "Black Night", "Strange Kind Of Woman", "Fireball", "Smoke On The Water", "Child In Time", "Woman From Tokyo", "Space Truckin", "Stormbringer", "Speed King" & "Burn".

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