REVIEW: George Lynch – Sacred Groove (1993)

It’s a shame I lost my original 1993 review of this album.

LYNCH_0001GEORGE LYNCH – Sacred Groove (1993 Elektra)

If you like Dokken but never followed George onto the Lynch Mob, then this album is for you.

George Lynch is a very talented shredder, capable of playing a wide variety of styles.  Sometimes he hits, sometimes he misses, but on Sacred Groove he makes the mark every time.  Sacred Groove was designed as a solo project shortly after the second Lynch Mob album.  The idea was to work and write with different singers and musicians, and George loaded up on some great singers.  Glenn Hughes, anyone?

John Cuniberti, who co-helmed many Joe Satriani albums, produced this opus and lent it some serious sonic excellence.  The opener “Memory Jack” is a collaboration between producer and guitarist, but this is little more than a sound collage to kick off a killer instrumental called “Love Power From the Mama Head”.  This isn’t to say that “Memory Jack” does not contain some shredding licks, because it does…but they are not the focus.  The sound collage itself is the focus.  Into “Love Power”, George lays down some serious riffy rhythm guitars.  This is topped with a very Satriani-esque guitar melody.  “Love Power” is constructed very much like a Satch rock instrumental track, with memorable guitar melodies and song structures.

There is a very cool moment in the guitar solo in “Love Power From the Mama Head”, at exactly 4:47.  While George was essentially assaulting his guitar with the whammy bar, he accidentally dropped the instrument on the studio floor.  “Shit!” said George, while producer Cuniberti ran over and stopped George from picking it up.  The producer then kicked the guitar for added effect!  Cuniberti assured George it would sound cool, and it kind of does!  The guitar just stops on this weird chord-like sound, before they punch out of that and into more shredding.  It’s different and spontaneous and I love shit like that.

“Flesh and Blood”, contender for best track on the album, is the first vocal, featuring Badlands’ Ray Gillen (R.I.P.).  It’s a Dokken stomper for sure, but with Ray Gillen’s bluesy Coverdale-isms all over it.  Killer.  The lyrics were co-written by George’s ex-Dokken bandmate Jeff Pilson, who also co-wrote and plays bass on the next track, “We Don’t Own This World”.

Now here’s the interesting thing about “We Don’t Own This World”.  Lyrics by: Don Dokken?  The fuck?

George, Don and Jeff had planned to reunite on this one song, that Don supplied the lyrics for.  Don however cancelled or chickened out (either/or) and didn’t make it to the session.  It just so happened that the Nelson twins, Matthew and Gunnar, were in town and eagerly sang on the track in Don’s absence.  With their harmonies, “We Don’t Own This World” sounds nothing like Dokken, except in basic ways.  It’s the most commercial track on the album; a pop rocker.  The vocals soar over one killer melody, and the solo is one of George’s best.  If this song had come out only two years sooner, it would have been a hit single.  The Nelsons have done some cool music over the years, and not gotten a lot of credit for it, so this song is pure delight.

I still think of CDs as “albums” with distinct sides, and on the cassette version “I Will Remember” closed Side One.  This instrumental ballad has a vaguely dark tropical feel, although it is an electric guitar song.  George’s solos are sublime and I love his unexpected timing on certain notes.  He has flawless chops mixed with feel…a rare combination.

LYNCH_0002

Side Two’s opener is an epic in two parts, but it’s as close to a skip as this album gets.  The problem is vocalist Mandy Lion, of WWIII.  You either like his glass-garling-elfin-metal voice or you do not.  I do not.  However, “The Beast” Parts I and II are such a slamming groove that I tend to block out the words and the voice singing them.  This is another track where the original vocalist slated could not do it.  Udo Dirkschneider wanted too much money and Rob Halford was too busy, but Mandy Lion would do it.  He showed up at the studio in the heat of summer wearing head to toe black leather.

“The Beast” could be a dirty sex anthem, I guess, but it’s far too heavy for the 50 Shades crowd.  I dig when halfway through, George breaks out his newly-bought sitar.  (I remember seeing pictures of George in Metal Edge magazine buying it!)  If only Mandy would have chosen to shut up at this moment.  Bassist Chris Solberg comes in and grooves through to a false ending, and then it’s “Part II (Addiction to the Friction)” — a 10 minute track in total.  Thankfully a huge chunk of it is instrumental.

The regal Glenn Hughes raises the bar any time he opens his mouth.  His two songs were the first new Hughes singing I had heard since Black Sabbath.  I detect some fragility in his voice here.  I think this may be from a period where Glenn was recovering from addictions.  Regardless, he sounds a lot better today, whatever the reasons are.  That’s not to say he’s bad here, because he’s still the best singer on the album.  You just feel he’s not giving it everything like he does today.

“Not Necessary Evil” is Glenn’s first song, a Dokken groove with Hughes’ soulful signature style.  This one too had hit single potential, but only in an alternate timeline in which Rock never fell to the Grunge Hordes in 1991.  “Cry of the Brave” is his second track, a slower and more soulful rock track.  This is a song about injustice to the American Indian (reading the lyrics, I’m assuming specifically Leonard Peltier), and it’s worth noting that Glenn wrote the lyrics by himself.

The album closes with a final instrumental called “Tierra Del Fuego”, and if you couldn’t guess, that means George breaks out the flamenco guitar.  There’s also a guest electric guitar soloist named Daryl Gable.  If I remember the story correctly, Daryl Gable was a lucky fan who was selected to have a guest shot on the album.  How cool is that?  And he’s pretty good, too!  I have to admit I like these dusky tropical flamenco things, so I consider “Tierra Del Fuego” to be a very successful album closer.  But fear not, there’s plenty of electric guitar too!

Sacred Groove is pretty damn near flawless.  If only they could have got Udo instead of Mandy, eh?

4.5/5 stars

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45 comments

        1. I’d maybe need to listen to it again… I don’t really hear the elfin thing. He’s a rough singer but not that different from the new guy in Accept is he? Not as good… but similar kind of voice I thought. Udo’s voice is quite gnarly too. But I’m only basing that on one listen on a phone! Never heard the guy before today!

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        2. Oh OK. That I can accept. Let’s always be clear when comparing to fictional species. Details matter ;)

          I’d be curious what you think on a set of speakers.

          I’m also hoping Jon shows up for this review, but I think he once told me he didn’t mind Mandy Lion either.

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  1. Can’t say know of Lion well enough to comment, is he anything like London (Lynch’s Souls Of We) cause Lonon was all kinds of great!? Of course have the Gillan track which owns, and maybe one or two of the instrumentals (has been a while), but never got around to owning the CD!?

    Being a huge fan of Lynch and based on this 4.5 rating think it’s about time that got rectified \m/

    Good read thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. He’s nothing like London LeGrand. Mandy Lion really can’t be compared to any other singer, no one I can think of anyway. You can compare him to a roaring lion (pun), I guess.
      London LeGrand is ok, he fitted to the more punky Brides Of Destruction osund better than Souls Of We. The SOW album left me underwhelmed, to tell you the truth.

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  2. I really like this album. Had he used just one singer this could have been a killer third Lynch Mob album. But I really dig the variation of multiple singers when the overall sound is solid. The Beast is actually one of my favourite songs on this album, We Don’t Own This World is another. Just like you said, the Nelson dudes are really underrated. After The Rain is an AOR gem for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know what it was like for you in Sweden, but here, no guys would dare listen to Nelson when they were big. They were a girl’s band. They were in Teen Beat and all these girl’s magazines. It was just an image thing, because I know you are right about the album.

      Hell, who was their drummer? Oh yeah! Bobby Rock! A ballbreaking drummer!

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      1. Yeah, it was more or less the same here. But I never gave a rat’s about things like that. I know the album was great, I knew the musicians were all killer and I knew Nelson could rock with the best of ’em, so if anyone would argue about those things with me, I’d talk ’em right into next week…. ;-)

        Bobby Rock was heavy duty. That guy probably scared the hell out of Vinnie Vincent. Where did he go?

        Their reunion album Lightning Strikes Twice was awesome as well.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Because They Can. Awesome title – hence the dogs…
          More acoustic based record, but still very good.
          Check out Imaginator if you can find it. Great record, a bit heavier than the debut.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I can highly recommend the Sweet & Lynch album Only To Rise. Best damn thing George has been involved with for years and years and years.

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    1. Agreed, Sweet & Lynch is tops.

      Will say though George has been bery consistent in recent years thought his KXM was terrific, LynchMob material has been enjoyable and was very taken with Souls Of We. In fact wished things could had stayed the course with London for the Souls Of We sophomore which instead turned in as another George solo record Revolution, good but personally prefered that Souls lineup…

      But yeah, Sweet & Lynch (not sure why they didn’t drop the ‘and’, Sweet Lynch sounds far better IMO) is another fine outting from Mr Consistently Scary \m/

      Sampling some more Sacred Groove really can’t explain why this is missing from my collection hmmm…!?

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      1. Whoops! Excuse the brainfart there, that shoulda read KILL ALL CONTROL was the recent solo record, REvolution was the previous Lynch Mob reworks with Mason back in the band (and another tasty record at that ;)

        2003 even, not so recent!? Where the heck did the years go?

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      2. KXM was ok, I guess, but it kinda left me underwhelmed. Same with the latest Lynch Mob record, Sun Red Sun. Oni Logan is back and the song are good, but I always have Wicked Sensation in the back of my mind. Hard to top that one.
        Here’s some of my reiews of the albums we talked about, if you wanna check ’em out:

        https://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/hard-rock/hard-rock-reviews-2015/sweet-lynch-only-to-rise/

        https://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/hard-rock/hard-rock-reviews-2014/kxm-kxm/

        https://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/hard-rock/hard-rock-reviews-2014/lynch-mob-sun-red-sun/

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        1. Thanks man, will pop over to your site to read and maybe leave subsequent comments ;)

          So far as KXM goes think it was often a case of whether one rates dUg and the King’s X catalog, and personally am a fan so the hook up made perfect sense. Agreed, Wicked Sensation is fantastic (splashed out for the Rock Candy remaster and it is their usual class too)… Although one can’t ignore the sophomore self titled Lynch Mob, the years have probably been kinder to that than WSensation even. Lottsa quality material hidden away on that one :)

          Right, heading over your way for some comments LOL

          Liked by 1 person

        1. I can only distinctly remember 3. The two singles, of which Wicked Sensation, and a ballad called “No Bed of Roses”. I loved those three tunes! I didn’t care for the rest. I think I didn’t like the singer Oni Logan much.

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        2. She’s Evil But She’s Mine? All I Want? No?

          No Bed Of Roses wasn’t a ballad, it was more of a pop metal song, with a very radio friendly chorus. Almost Desmond Child-like. The ballad on the album was called Through These Eyes.

          I love Logan. He released a solo album like ten something years ago called Starnger In A Foreign Land. A pop record. Singer songwriter – ish. It was really good.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Oh, and regarding the expensive RockCandy remasters, for anyone interested search out their eBay store (sorry don’t have access to eBay right now can’t provide the exact link but shouldn’t be hard to find).

          From time to time they offer some of their catalog extras on their eBay store for a reduced price. Think I got Wicked Sensation for under $20 including post (which was only a little under the US dollar at the time, but granted the exchange ain’t so good now).

          Just a thought.

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        4. Cool.

          And appreciate your initial comment regarding the record initially underwhelming you, tbh initially back in the day it wasn’t a hit outta the park fer these ears either, probably sat about the 3/5 mark then. But whether it’s the original or remaster, the years have been kind to this album, (no doubt due to Lynch maintaining his signature style throughout his career) and sits well within the 4/5 mark nowdays and personally would put the sophomore about the same too, a very undervalued record that one!

          Once that title track opens the record, BAM, ya get sucked in right there! Bed Of Roses, River Of Love, the hip swinging All I Want, Sweet Sister…

          Best reserve my comments for your official review, Saturday DownUnder might make it a Lynch weekend!

          Looking forward to ya review Mike!

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