greg fraser

Killer Scotch on the Rocks debut with Greg Fraser, Andy Curran and Sean Kelly

Congratulations Deke on an historic first episode of Scotch on the Rocks!

All you need to know is Andy Curran and Sean Kelly both dropped by for an episode that you could have called “This Is Your Life Greg Fraser”.  The Storm Force guitarist dropped tons of knowledge and great stories.  Musicians:  watch this episode.

 

Scotch on the Rocks: Series premiere with Greg Fraser

SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS

Episode 1 – Greg Fraser (Storm Force)

Instead of the normally scheduled LeBrain Train, tonight you get a real treat.  This week is the series premier of Superdekes’ new show Scotch on the Rocks. As Deke’s co-host for this episode, I’m proud to be able to help him launch his new series.  Greg Fraser of Storm Force and Brighton Rock will be the guest tonight, and I believe Deke has a few surprises in store.  Don’t miss it.

Friday September 24, 7:00 PM E.S.T. at the link below.

LeBrain Train Update: In Case You Missed It

Hey all!  Just a quick update in case you missed it.  Friday’s show was four hours long so if you missed the flurry of details at the end, that’s OK.  This isn’t really an announcement; just an outline of what I’d like to do.

I’ve said since the beginning that I will keep going live every week to bring friends together and entertain you on a Friday night when you’re stuck at home doing nothing.  While the fourth Covid wave is officially happening now (thanks Delta!), most of you no longer seem to be stuck at home on Friday nights anymore.  I’ve been trying to find a time to wrap up the weekly show.  We’ve been doing this steadily every week since March of 2020 and a break would be nice.  However we’ll keep going as long as it’s necessary and I’m able.  I don’t decide; Covid does.

Viewership has started to drop compared to the peak in May 2021, so it’s obvious that some of you have got your lives back.  Others still need this Friday ritual.  Currently I’m looking at or around October 1 to do a finale.  We shall see; a lot can change between now and then.  When I’m no longer going live every week anymore, I’d still like to do it once a month.

And interviews are still happening!  We’ve already confirmed the first one of the fall which is Greg Fraser of Storm Force, back again to tell us what they have cooking.  This is very special to us because Greg was the very first interview that Deke and I did a year ago.  We’ve come full circle and Greg will be back on September 24 at 7:00 PM.  Once again thanks to Deke for lining this up.



In sum:

Hang on because we still have plenty of fun lined up for the foreseeable future.  But circumstances are changing and nothing lasts forever, not even Covid, so with any luck you can expect a LeBrain Train series finale in the fall.  If not…keep on keepin’ on, because I will.

The Best of 2021

REVIEW: Storm Force – “Breathe” featuring Serena Pryne (2020 music video)

STORM FORCE – “Breathe” featuring Serena Pryne (2020 Escape Music video)

Our rock and roll friends Storm Force have released a new video for “Breathe”, and a good one it is!

These days when a band drops a new video, are you often disappointed?  Many videos today are low budget slideshows of still photos, or crude animations.  This was the trend even before Covid.  Unless you’re AC/DC, few go to the trouble of actually filming a concept/performance music video anymore.  Storm Force did a good one with “Pretty Vegas”, and now they are back to blow minds with “Breathe”, one of the strongest tunes on the new album Age of Fear.

“Breathe” deserved a proper video, and Storm Force deliver.  Lead singer Patrick Gagliardi sings from behind bars, but is it the prison of the mind?  He is joined by vocalist extraordinaire Serena Pryne, who has the grit and power of people like the highly respected Sass Jordan.  Although the lyrics are open enough to work with many interpretations, the song is about mental health, and having someone there to support you.  The video has the right tone and passion for this serious subject.  But if you want, you can just enjoy it as a mighty power ballad.

Of course, guitarist Greg Fraser has plenty of experience with music videos.  His solo on “Breathe” is cool because you can hear that it is him by the tone and technique.  Drummer Brian Hamilton and bassist Mike Berardelli create a really cool groove on this track, and Hamilton looks imposing and fearless in the video.

One must also credit Gagliardi for a collection of increasingly cool hats.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Storm Force – Age of Fear (2020 Japanese import)

STORM FORCE – Age of Fear (2020 Japanese import)

If 2020 is indeed the Age of Fear, then at least Storm Force have brought us the album that we deserve for all our suffering.  Released before the pandemic but with some eerily relevant lyrics to our current time, Age of Fear is one of the most kickass discs you are going to hear this year.

Storm Force features the stellar talents of former Brighton Rock guitarist Greg Fraser, powerhouse singer Patrick Gagliardi, drum monster Brian Hamilton, and groovin’ bassist Mike Berardelli.  Fans of Brighton Rock (R.I.P.) will recognize the tone and stylings of the six-string magician they call Fraze.  That said, Gagliardi’s arena-sized vocals cords are what will draw you in to this band immediately.

Storm Force waste little time cutting to the chase.  The single-ready “Because of You” opens with some epic sci-fi keyboards that might have you feeling you’re at the intro to a progressive concept album.  But then Fraze hits you with a cool stuttery riff, and Patrick’s in your ears with a classic hard rock voice with grit and range to spare.  But you want hooks?  Storm Force deliver on “Because of You”, a song that would have been a massive hit in an earlier time.

Without letup it’s the title track “Age of Fear”, ushered in by the mountainous drumming of Brian Hamilton.  He and Mike Berardelli are locked in.  The riff has a bit of Darkness and the melody has shades of Dio. It’s an uptempo blast through midnight, but even that is just a warmup for the third track “Breathe”. With guest vocals from Serena Pryne, it’s a full-on epic. Keyboard accents lend it appropriate drama. This song is massive, powerful and perfect.  In another universe, a hit. Watch for a music video coming soon.

“Ember Rain” gives us the first true ballad. The ringing acoustics and storytelling guitar solos recall some of the best of late 80s Whitesnake. Listen to the bass roll, and how the sparingly and effectively the drum fills are used. After a ballad, it’s best to chase it with a heavy headbanger. “Ride Like Hell” is a vicious road tune that Axl Rose wishes he wrote. The chorus nails it home, and the solos are eloquent.

“Dirty Vegas” was the first Storm Force video and you can hear why.  With a title like “Dirty Vegas” you can count on a party tune.  With bite, and a chorus that goes on for days.  Music like this is what we need right now.

Storm Force know you need a comedown after a track like “Dirty Vegas” so an upbeat acoustic-based tune called “More Than You Know” is there to sooth your aching rock hangover.  But it’s only temporary as “Marshall Law” has come to bust the door down!  It takes a real singer to deliver on a track like this and Gagliardi is world-class.  Truly one of the hottest on the scene today and one listen to “Marshall Law” is all it should take to convince you.

These guys know how to pace an album, and a piano ballad called “Different Roads” occupies the all-important second-to-last track.  The vocals on this one are on a whole ‘nother level!  Gagliardi can do so much with his voice that I could probably convince you that he is actually two singers.  For penultimate tracks, “Different Roads” is one of those ballads that could close a record in its own right, but actually sets you up for one more knock to the skull.  “Ringside”, like its title suggests, is not a ballad.  It’s a high velocity adventure in heavy metal histrionics.  And that closes the album with a slam!…

…Unless you’re one of the lucky who owns a Japanese CD (or an iTunes download).  The bonus track on those formats is “Weight of the World”, a song certainly equal to the others on the album.  A solid rocker, “Weight of the World” might express how some of us feel right now.  “The weight of the world is tearing out the heart of me.”  Ever felt that way?

Expertly constructed songs.  Thoughtful lyrics.  World class production by Darius Szczepaniak.  Veteran performances by artists at the top of their craft.  An album we desperately needed in 2020.  Get Age of Fear.

5/5 stars

If you missed it, check out our live interview with Storm Force from September 4 2020 starting at the 0:16:50 mark.  Thanks to Superdekes for helping setting that up.

 

Storm Force! Greg, Pat and Brian join Deke and LeBrain in the Age of Fear!

Thanks to Greg Fraser, Patrick Gagliardi, and surprise guest Brian Hamilton of Storm Force for joining Deke and I Friday night!  It was a free-form chat tackling subjects such as:

  • The album Age of Fear
  • Memorable impact gigs
  • Canadian Rock
  • New music
  • Secrets to singing
  • Thunder Bay
  • Touring and touring and touring
  • Brighton Rock and Gerry McGhee

And much much more!

In addition I did a CD reveal for this week’s mail.  New music from Amazon and Buried On Mars!  The only thing better than new discs is new discs from friends.  These ones mean something to me, so check it out if you want to know what I’ll be spinning this weekend.

For the CD reveals, start at 0:04:15 of the stream.

For Storm Force, skip to 0:16:50 of the stream.

Thanks again to Greg, Pat, Brian and Superdekes for setting this chat up.  It was the first but won’t be the last.

Storm Force Friday! Greg Fraser and Patrick Gagliardi join us tonight!

Deke and I are beyond psyched to welcome Greg Fraser and Patrick Gagliardi of STORM FORCE to the show tonight!

If you didn’t already know, Storm Force released their debut album Age of Fear in January.  Nine months later it remains one of the best records of the year.  If you haven’t heard it yet, you will want to after our chat with Patrick and Greg.  It’s been praised by reviewers from Canada, the US, Australia and Sweden as a must-hear for fans of melodic hard rock “the way you remember it”.

Tune in at 7:00 PM E.S.T. at the location of your preference below.

Facebook:  Michael Ladano or Facebook:  MikeLeBrain.  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

 

VHS Archives #96: Brighton Rock play ball with Erica Ehm and Duane Ward (1991)

This video is for the one and only Buried on Mars!

Up to bat:  Erica Ehm (MuchMusic)
Pitcher:  Duane Ward (Toronto Blue Jays)
Catcher:  Gerald McGhee (Brighton Rock)
Umpire:  Greg Fraser (Brighton Rock)

In 1991 Brighton Rock released their third album Love Machine, featuring backing vocals by Duane Ward of the Toronto Blue Jays! Erica Ehm got to play ball and ask questions of all of them. Questions about:

  • Duane’s “theme song” by Billy Joel
  • How Brighton Rock hooked up with Ward
  • What they do when they hang out
  • The first video “Hollywood Shuffle”
  • Life after the Jays

Let’s play ball!

Just Listening to…Storm Force – Age of Fear (2020)

The first great album of 2020 is upon us.  Brighton Rock guitarist extraordinaire Greg Fraser has returned to the recording studio and emerged with Storm Force, a hot new band born out of the roots of the 80s.

I am hesitant to do a full-on “review” of Storm Force just yet.  Why?  It’s simple really.  Some albums sound as if purposesly concocted for certain environments.  I sense that Storm Force is going to sound bloody perfect this summer in the car with the windows down.  In fact, I cannot wait to do it that way.  I think this album demands it.  Just like certain hard rock classics of the past just sound better on a warm afternoon on the highway.

Though the band has no weak links, it’s important to single out the strength of vocalist Patrick Gagliardi.  (Check out Superdekes’ interview with Patrick by clicking here.)   His power and range is reminiscent of singers such as Jack Russell and Axl Rose.  There’s grit, soul and there are vocal acrobatics aplenty.  Whether he’s singing a ballad or screaming a road-burner, Patrick is on point!

It cannot go unsaid that Greg Fraser has pulled some killer riffs out of the bag.  These are classic hard rock riffs, and would have been at home on any Brighton Rock record from 1987-1991.  Not to mention his lead work is still fantastic.  Frase has a recognizable style and you can hear it on Age of Fear.

You won’t find a weak track inside, and they run the entire range that a hard rock album should.  Closer “Ringside” is burning hot metal, but “Marshall Law” has a vibe akin to Lizzy’s “Jailbreak”.  For a commercial “rock single”, check out “Because of You” which pushes all the buttons.  “Different Roads” features piano like a classic Aeroballad from 1987.  Hard to pick a favourite among these great tunes.

Full review to come summer 2020.  Check out the official Storm Force Facebook to get the CD (signed or unsigned).

REVIEW: Helix – It’s a Business Doing Pleasure (1993)

ITS A BUSINESS DOING PLEASURE_0002HELIX – It’s a Business Doing Pleasure (1993 Aquarius)

This is a good album — but it’s utterly ridiculous to see Amazon sellers asking $125 for a CD that I used to sell in store for $8.99.

After the death of guitar player Paul Hackman, killed in a tragic bus accident prior to this, Helix decided to carry on, somehow. Before the crash that prematurely ended the talented guitarist’s life, he and Brian Vollmer had been working on two separate projected discs. Brian had written songs with Marc Ribler, as he did on the previous record Back For Another Taste, which were earmarked for a solo album.  Meanwhile, Hackman was writing music for the next Helix album. When it came time to pick up the pieces and carry on, there wasn’t much written for Helix.  Although he regrets doing it today, Brian Vollmer decided to use the Ribler songs for the Helix record.

Vollmer recorded the album with Ribler, bassist Rob Laidlaw, and former Helix drummer Brian Doerner.  Having spoken to Doerner about this album, I know he felt it was strong and underrated.  I would have to agree.  Vollmer also needed a new Helix band to take the album on tour.  Greg “Fritz” Hinz and Daryl Gray remained on board.  Though they did not play on the album, they are pictured inside.  For the vacant guitar slots, they recruited former Brighton Rock guitar maestro Greg Fraser.  Even more exciting to fans was the return of Brent “the Doctor” Doerner.  This was easily the most exciting band lineup since the 1980’s.

ITS A BUSINESS DOING PLEASURE_0003

The record was a definite change of pace, due to its genesis as a Vollmer solo album.  Starting off, it’s instantly noticeable a Nashville influence .  Almost every song has that terrific old school Fender guitar sound, but with a rock n’ roll edge–a little like Mark Knopfler.  The songs are by and large a lot softer and more radio-ready, but also significantly more melodic and memorable.  “Classy” is a good word to describe the direction.

The first single “That Day Is Gonna Come” is upbeat, a tribute to the life of Paul Hackman. Next to “Billy Oxygen”, I think it’s possibly the best song they’ve ever done.  It received an excellent music video loaded with Brian’s own video-8 footage recorded over the years on the road. Just about every major Helix members appears in the footage.  It’s hard not to get nostalgic. Have you been to any of those towns? This is the best video Helix have made yet.

“Tug Of War” would have made a great hit, but sadly the record company weren’t behind the album enough to push it. Vollmer and Fraser did an acoustic rendition of this ballad live on MuchMusic, a recording I’m glad to have on VHS. The album version is more bombastic but just as good. “Wrong Side of the Bed” and “Can’t Even Afford to Die” are both upbeat acoustic rock tunes with lush backing vocals. Think John Cougar meets Helix. Lyrically, Brian was writing about subjects people could relate to, rather than pining over Joan Jett. Being broke, being hurt, but keepin’ on keeping on. Still upbeat but a little harder is “Misery Loves Company”. There are some dirty guitars and driving piano, but we’re still driving in the country. Even without a heavy rock band behind him, Brian’s voice keeps it in the realm of Helix.

“Look Me Straight in the Heart” was supposed to be a video. This power ballad is a duet with Brian and Canada’s Metal Queen, Lee Aaron. The video funding was pulled when Aaron couldn’t appear in the clip with Vollmer. It’s too bad, because it’s a great song and I love hearing Lee Aaron belt it out. Lee Aaron and Brian Vollmer singing a ballad? How could it not have balls! (Just enough.)

“Trust the Feeling” is largely forgettable balladry, but “Love is a Crazy Game” is haunting and quiet. There is a heavier, electric version on the B-Sides CD, and it’s hard to choose which is best. This one is certainly more unique. Of course, you can’t have too many ballads in a row, and they were pushing it with three, but thankfully “Sleepin’ in the Dog House Again” will wake you from your slumber. Kim Mitchell dropped in to play one of his typical gonzo guitar solos, topping off the only real ass-kicking rocker on the album. The closing song “Mad Mad World” (not the Tom Cochrane tune) is one of the best. Who doesn’t love whistles? Humorous lyrics and a great chorus help to end the album in style.

Some lamented that Helix “softened up” on the album; others admired the growth and maturity. Brian Vollmer called the record “a huge mistake on my part, and I take full credit for the blunder. The really sad thing about it all was that I was really proud of all those songs on the album and they were wasted because they did not fit under the Helix name.”

I’d hate to think of those songs wasted, because here I’ve been enjoying them for over 20 years. Perhaps under another name they could have been hits, perhaps not. In the end, this album helped Helix stay a band. It gave them something of quality to release in the wake of their greatest tragedy. It allowed the band to get out and play supporting it. Ultimately, those who were unhappy about the direction would satisfied by the heavy songs on the next album, 1998’s half-ALIVE.

I’d be happy if this album got a little more recognition, so here’s me doing my part.

5/5 stars