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)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Joe Lynn Turner ~ Slam

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: hard rock
Label: MTM
Year: 2001
Home: New Jersey/Japan

Members: Joe Lynn Turner ~ vocals
Akira Kajiyama ~ guitars
Paul Morris ~ keyboards
Eric Czar ~ bass
Kenny Kramme ~ drums



JLT's post-Rainbow career started out a little predictable. His 1985 debut Rescue You with the former keyboardist of Foreigner in tow ... sounded just like Foreigner but JLT in tow. It's follow-up Nothing's Changed would come a decade & about forty guest sessions later as a backing vocalist, along with stints fronting numerous bands including Deep Purple & Rising Force. With guitarist Al Pitrelli regularly by his side playing & composing for a handful of albums JLT would turn out by the book hard rock with Nothing's Changed & The Usual Suspects being prophetic album titles as to what could be expected musically. Solid albums, good playing, a firm grip on the East Coast/New York hard rock sound versus the glam oriented L.A. rock, but nothing particularly exciting or climactic or breaking expectations. Reliable is a key word ... top notch reliable. The session gigs would continue to help pay the bills. Then in 2001 JLT released his seventh album Slam. This would be a turning point in his career with his heaviest album yet. Instead of a large group of rotating musicians which was the normal set-up since his third album, JLT zoomed in on the trio of bassist Eric Carr, keyboardist Paul Morris & drummer Kenny Kramme. In the guitar role would only be Japanese guitarist Akira Kajiyama who had appeared on the previous album & would continue a relationship with JLT. Kajiyama is a very different guitarist than the melodic Pitrelli & the other guest guitarists who had appeared on JLT's albums including Mountain's Leslie West, while taking all the parts challenged the music in ways that just overdubbing a solo or rhythm doesn't. Whether deliberately or not, Kajiyama, also acting as co-composer, would turn this from a JLT vocal album with friends into a guitar album with tons of solos & wild playing. In many ways the album feels like it's Kajiyama's game, not JLT's, but yet there's also this feeling that Kajiyama respects JLT's music & is actually just helping push it into new musical directions, the natural course of any musician's career. JLT comes at the challenging new music, the closest to metal he'd recorded yet, with some amazingly expressive vocals that match the guitar playing par for par. He sounds rejuvenated & renewed, let alone challenging himself vocally with screams & shouts & even different tonal styles (for example, "Deliver Me" & the title track). "Bloodsucker" opens the album which is not just a harsh sounding title to add to the JLT catalog, but recalls Deep Purple with a thriving guitar line. It kicks the album off in high gear & an hour later nothing lets up. As much as the other album titles set the tone Slam does the same. Some songs are a little more traditional JLT but fans won't mind what is a slump for this album but a high gear song for any other album, though the second half the album does begin to run out of creativity & begin to feel imitative of what was already played. That being said, you won't be shutting the album off early though. JLT met Kajiyama years earlier when the guitarist released a Japanese tribute album to Rainbow. Kajiyama would appear on JLT's Under Cover, Vol. 2, Holy Man & Slam & the two would co-release Fire Without Flames with Kajiyama playing all the instruments. He would also tour behind the Hughes Turner Project in 2002 featuring JLT alongside former Deep Purple bassist/singer Glenn Hughes.

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