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)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lynch/Pilson ~ Wicked Underground


(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: heavy metal, prog rock
Label: Spitfire Records
Year: 2003
Home: n/a (disbanded)

Members: George Lynch ~ guitars
Jeff Pilson ~ bass/vocals
Michael Frowein ~ drums



George Lynch, Don Dokken, Lynch Mob, Dokken ... these individuals & bands twist & weave between each other in ways most people have probably forgotten, even though they say controversy breeds attention. Dokken was one of the bigger bands of the 1980's with numerous hits, but have begun to fall into obscurity, while even leaders George Lynch & Don Dokken have a reputation with faithful followers but not recognition with a new generation. Briefly, Dokken was a hair metal band formed in 1976 with its first stable line-up featuring vocalist Don Dokken, guitarist Lynch, bassist Juan Croucier & drummer Mick Brown. In 1983, Croucier joined Ratt & Jeff Pilson came onboard, with their first chart hits following. In 1989, the band split with Lynch & Brown forming Lynch Mob, Dokken going solo & Pilson joining the McAuley Schenker Group for their debut & later Dio. The quartet reunited in 1989 to record an album, but Lynch left during the tour with Europe's John Norum replacing & later Winger/Whitesnake's Reb Beach briefly. Pilson left in 2000 & joined Lynch for the single album band L/P. For those that are expecting L/P to sound like Dokken, given its half the band, the result might be shocking. It was for me, which meant at first I didn't fully hear the album. This is why you have to listen multiple times to an album before judging it. Many might see Dokken has a bit of a throwaway L.A. hair metal band with wild guitars riffing away & tenor singing, whose few hits are particularly anything unique. The individual talents of the band lost under a trendy commercially oriented sound. L/P couldn't be more different. Actually, it has more in common with Lynch Mob, where Lynch demonstrated his love of experimentatal arrangements, different tunings, a heavier sound & more progressive influenced rock, none of it harbored in by the writing of Don Dokken. L/P keeps walking in the prog direction. There's not a whiff of hair metal here, neither in Lynch's playing, the arrangements nor Pilson's baritone that refrains from any of the cliched Sebastian Bach screams vocalists loved of the era. Actually, many songs have a lot of similiarity in feel, particularly vocally & with the mood & arrangements, with Genesis's Calling All Stations featuring Ray Wilson (for example, "Breath & A Scream", "Goodbye Utopia"). Or, one might even bring up John Payne's GPS as comparison but without the keyboards that dominated that project. But, both GPS & Genesis are firmly prog, while this remains heavy metal on the attack through & through. & yes, it's not just me hearing a prog infuence due to my own biased love of the genre. The only outside written song is "Awaken" by prog pioneers Yes ... though the end result is heavier than Yes has ever sounded & on first listen I didn't even realized they taken part of a song I'd heard countless times. Lynch is all over the map here, from slow to fast & always very melodic, even giving himself a thick powerful instrumental (i.e. "Cromaniac"). It's an amazing release, but more for the prog fan than the 80's rock fan. Yes, compared to Dokken, it sounds like Lynch is completely reinventing himself, but its such an extensive facelift that this music must have been in him all along but never given a chance to shine. I must confess that when I first heard this release it sounded like so much prog-metal nowadays, though holding up surprisingly very good years later, that I was a bit bored. But, then, when I realized how different it was from Dokken or anything that I was expecting, basically lots of show-off guitar solos going nowhere, I suddenly realized what a masterpiece this is. Plus, it goes from Genesis prog to Tool metal (i.e. "When You Bleed", "Awaken") to Dokken style hard rock (i.e. "Vaccine", "Zero The End") to even some acoustic ballad moments (i.e. "Ever Higher", "Inner View", "Closer To None"), yet always has far more of a personality than I was giving it credit for initially or even expecting. Basically, numerous listens later - great playing, singing & composing across the board with not a filler on the album or a weak track. I can't say that this is a good introduction to Lynch guitar playing on the whole as this might be too different from any other project ... though he's certainly on a creative high here. I will say, go back in time & approach Dokken cautiously after this. It doesn't help that some critics have called this one of the best Dokken related releases in years, even including those by the Dokken/Brown later Dokken. It's much like when Keith Richards & the X-Pensive Winos output was called the best Rolling Stones albums of the 80's.


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