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by Martin Popoff

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Fresh Metal

Lillian Axe - Live 2002
(Red And Gold)

Hampered in their quest for rock immortality by an extremely dated hair metal name, Lillian Axe are a metal pleasure almost hidden behind that absurd code moniker. Crafting four elegant traditional metal albums from '88 to '93, culminating in the classic and intelligent Psychoschizophrenia, the band could be likened to a dark, riffy version of Dokken, heavier than the name would imply, combining melancholy, almost Zep/Rainbow gothic riffs with a hair band work ethic, the occasional ballad (not their strong point) and let's face it, pop metal cover art that didn't do them any favours. After breaking up in '95, the band eventually saw the release of the rarities pack Fields Of Yesterday in '99, prompting a spotty, occasional return to the road. Live 2002 finds the guys reconvening once again for a massive 21 track double live CD, all the magic and mystique is intact, the band captured live but rock solid and well-recorded in Houston, May '02, core crucials Steve Blaze (ripping, regal and wise) and sweet voice Ron Taylor on board along with long-time bassist Darrin DeLatte and two new guys. Again, with Taylor's voice applied to fairly hard-charging, traditional, triumphant stadium rock material (OK, now Riot comes to mind), one thinks Dokken, Live 2002 containing similar pacing through highly creative songs from all eras. Booklet-wise, this looks fairly cheap, not an indication of the competent recording and compositions enclosed, although credits are quite detailed and seven panels of photos are proffered. Recommended for classic rock fans looking for a link from the late '80s to the seductive draw of the '70s; I mean, one listen to Deepfreeze or All's Fair In Love + War and you know this under-rated hair-era phenom from Nola far outgunned their hapless competitors. Contact www.lillianaxe.com or www.lillianaxecentral.com for more info.
Rating 8

Under-Radio - Under-Radio

If you ever wondered what King's X crossed with Stevie Ray, Zeppelin and Jimi filtered through the wise guy writing of Steve Vai sounds like, then look no further than this fiery, creative but accessible disc from engineer, guitar teacher and Fates Warning friend Eric Zimmerman. Eric manages to find dreamy, steamy percussive structures on which to hang his obtuse, innovative riffs, making for a zesty rock ride that also recalls oddly the mindspace of Chris Goss and his legendary Masters Of Reality. Versatile, progressive and trying really hard to form hooky, likeable songs out of inverted ideas, Zimmermann has crafted a gorgeous work that succeeds with this aim. Again, one thinks of a hyperactive, ironic, self-deprecating guy like a Steve Vai conforming and conforming well. That's where Zimmerman sits in fits. Along for the ride are Matt Bissonette, Mark Zonder and three more guys that I'm sure matter in pure music circles, all gathered for this celebration of slinky, funky soundgardens. Having said that however, I gotta knock points off for too many instrumentals and a couple sorta indie sounding tracks on a 39 minute long record of only nine tunes. But oy vey, Acrobat, Swing It!, Everytime and Bigger Fish To Fry... stick 12 like this on a record and hard rock's been slapped with a new fresh backhand. Contact www.ericzimmermann.com for more info.
Rating 7.5

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