HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

Richie Scarlet - The Insanity Of Life
(Gem Three)

I didn't hold out much hope for this indie solo release from embattled Ace Frehley sideman Richie Scarlet, a guitarist now plying the fat strings for the legendary Mountain. But surprise, the man can write, and he can also pull together an impressive cast of players, The Insanity Of Life topped of with solid production. The cool thing about this album though is its grave New Yorkness, its Dictators and Dolls vibe funneled through the instrumental and sonic discipline of hair metal, the end result being sorta like a solid L.A. Guns record. Richie's vocals are hilarious down that dark alley as well, the aging warhorse with the dyed black hair obviously suffering from lots of living (tray shot has him lookin' way too much like Johnny Thunders!), sounding like Stiv Bators crossed with Michael Monroe, Tom Waits and Joe LeSte, that last one thrown in because Scarlet can fall out of tune at times, probably the only flaw on the record. But yeah, all told this is impassioned street rat rock 'n' roll, best tracks being semi-ballad Too Good To Be Bad (a cover), American Youth and Tin Soldiers, which features Ty Tabor and a gorgeous chorus. There's also a plush cover of Enuff Z'nuff's Fly High Michelle and as I say, a bunch of cool guest stars, including Anton Fig, Leslie West, Bobby Rondinelli, Dennis Dunaway, Neal Smith, and Ace, who gets a co-write on closing biting boogie rocker Too Far Gone. Contact RichieScarlet.com for more info or buy it from the merch table at Mountain shows...
Rating 7.5

Mountain - Sea Of Fire DVD

Both the historical and the present (surprised there is one?) are captured perfectly in this bonus-filled celebration of "America's first heavy metal band." Leslie West doesn't look like the Leslie we all remember (he's fit, not fat) but his legendary tone drills the listener through stunning hi-fidelity. The seven camera shot does its job as well, capturing the jazziness of drummer Corky Laing close up and personal, although one shortcoming is the quiet, behaved crowd. Delve into the past, and man, the stories come out, along with some amazing archival footage from this ultimate hard hippie band (fourth gig ever was Woodstock). Icing on the cake: interviews with fans who actually do articulate the abstract, subtle magic of the band (again, basically West's hair-whitening tone).
Rating 8

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