Mike fraser

REVIEW: Lee Aaron – Radio On! (2021)

LEE AARON – Radio On! (2021 Metalville)

With a long career travelling landscapes of rock, jazz and metal, Lee Aaron has returned on CD with 12 new tracks that represent some of her best work to date.  It’s called Radio On! and it’s an apt title.  These are radio-ready tunes built for summer purposes.  For best results, roll down those windows and hit the highway with Lee Aaron on your deck, loud.

Lee’s band with whom she wrote and recorded Radio On! include Sean Kelly on guitar, Dave Reimer on bass, and John Cody on drums.  With a guy like Kelly contributing licks, you know you can count on some smokin’ guitar hooks and that’s exactly what you get on opener “Vampin'”.  Hard hitting, but constructed with melody in mind.  Lee is one of those artists for whom time has not passed.  As she’s explored genres other than rock, she’s only gotten better and that shows on “Vampin'”.  It belies the jazz records in her discography, but make no mistake, this is rock!  Kelly’s solo break ensures it.

A collection of vintage-sounding riffs on the mid-tempo “Soul Breaker” lend it a melodic base.  Lee uses that to springboard into hook after hook.  Future classic potential.  A memorable solo is like a maraschino cherry on top.  Things turn slightly pop-punk on “C’Mon”, a brilliant single that will be lighting up stereos all summer long.  Check out John Cody’s cool drum pattern and the jabbing stun-gun melodies that Lee delivers.

A diverse album this is, with “Mama Don’t Remember” sounding like a rocked-up roadhouse blues.  You can picture a band playing this number in a seedy bar with dusty beams of light leaking through the walls.  Then it’s the title track and the memorable hook “I wanna die with the radio on”.  Me too, Lee!

“Soho Crawl”, backed by bouncy piano, rocks pretty hard in a different direction.  Another road is explored on the dark “Devil’s Road”, with bass leading the way.  Burning slow, laden with some of Lee’s finest words, “Devil’s Road” has the potential to be the kind of song that makes an album immortal, like a “Black Velvet”.

Picking up the pace, “Russian Doll” has the “Radar Love” rocking boogie, while Lee belts line after line of sticky sweet vocal candy.  Kelly dives right into parts unknown for the wicked solo.  Live, this is the song that will get people up and dancing.  But this album doesn’t linger in the same places too long, and so the mid-tempo “Great Big Love” takes a different road.  Opposites attract in the lyrics, and the music leaves lots of room for Lee to do her thang.  Her lyrics just keep getting better.  “It all comes down to chemistry, the science is in babe and science don’t lie.”  There’s a swing and a country feel to it.

“Wasted” goes to dark territory.  Serious subject matter, but wrapped gently in some of the most beautiful music Lee Aaron’s ever sung.  All before it explodes punkily in the middle for a rousing chorus.  Shifting into a funk groove, “Had Me at Hello” has some wicked rhythm.  Lee’s playful words are an instrument to their own as the band jams on.

Finally closing on a piano ballad, Radio On! feels like a journey.  The last leg is “Twenty One” which is likely to take you back in time.  “Always in my mind, I’m 21.”  It’s a vocal tour-de-force, ending an album full of ’em.

It’s worth celebrating any time a beloved artist from our past puts out a truly great album these days.  For it to be one of the best albums of their career, that’s something very special.  Respect to Mike Fraser for another perfect mix.  Summer 2021 just gained another mainstay for its soundtrack.

4.5/5 stars

 

 

Andy Curran + Mike Fraser = Epic Four Hour LeBrain Train!

That. Was. Epic!

0:32:00 Andy Curran (Coney Hatch/Soho 69/Caramel/Leisureworld) joined us with a flawless connection!  We picked up where we left off last week.  We also got a couple exclusives from Andy!  Stories you won’t read on the internet.  Stuff like:  auditioning for Doro Pesch in the mid 80s.  A project with Adrian Smith that never came to fruition.  Playing tennis with Steve Harris.  Working as A&R with Rush.  A wealth of information!

1:49:30 – Get ready to have your minds blown.  Mike Fraser joined the show, and we got to sit and watch as he and Andy bantered back and forth — old friends reunited.  This was truly a special moment to watch.  From there we questioned Mike on the new Lee Aaron, and his work with Thunder, Dio, Satriani, Malmsteen, Black ‘N Blue, Power Station, The Wild!, Jackyl, the Crue, Metallica and AC/DC among many.  This was Mike’s second appearance with us and we still had so much ground to cover!

I hope you enjoyed this supersized show.  Four hours of rock and roll for you!

NEXT WEEK:

List shows return with Desert Island Discs!  Featuring:  Harrison Kopp, Uncle Meat, John Snow, Rob Daniels and a bonus list from Holen.   Don’t miss it!

April 30:  T-Bone is back to talk Van Halen’s 5150 with myself and the Meat Man.

May 7:  Paul Laine with your co-host John Snow!

May 28:  Dave Lizmi of the Four Horsemen!

All aboard!

Double Header! Andy Curran and Mike Fraser – Back on the LeBrain Train

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike and Superdekes

Episode 60 – Andy Curran and Mike Fraser double header

It’s the first ever double interview show on the LeBrain Train this Friday night!  Warm up your coffees.

First up, we have Andy Curran back from last week to finish up our chat!  The focus will be on the latter part of his career that we didn’t get to.  Caramel, Leisureworld and beyond.  Andy will be on at 7:00 PM E.S.T.

Second, it is the return of engineering wizard Mike Fraser!  Although we quizzed him for a couple hours last time, we only scratched the surface.  We didn’t get into Dio, The Wild, Satriani or Chickenfoot.  Expect lots more great musical memories with Mike this Friday at 8:30 PM E.S.T.

Friday April 16 on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

Mike Fraser takes us inside the recording studio on an epic LeBrain Train

“What happened to the guitars? Well put them back the way they were!” – Jimmy Page

A huge, huge, huge thanks to Mike Fraser for hanging out on a Friday night!  Growing up a young rock fan in Canada, we heard legend of Little Mountain studios in Vancouver.  Tonight, Superdekes and I got to ask the questions we wanted to know for over 30 years.  And Mike delivered!

Krokus.  Loverboy.  Honeymoon Suite.  AC/DC.  Aerosmith.  Bryan Adams.  The Cult.  Coverdale-Page.  So much more!  We tackled some of our favourite albums and a few cult classics.  From the Stone Gods to Canadian folksters The Rankin Family, we tried to explore the slightly obscure corners of Mike’s discography.  And we had a blast!  We took a few viewer questions, and if Mike comes back to the show again in the future, then maybe we can ask him the rest.

As I often do, I started early with an unboxing.  Start the video from the beginning if you want to catch that.  If you’re only interested in Mike (couldn’t blame you) then skip to 0:08:00 of the stream.

Make sure you watch all the way to the end to catch the brand new music video by T-Bone Erickson:  “Balls of Steel”.  This song is a tribute to Superdekes, who hooked us up with Mike Fraser for this show.  Thank you Deke, and thank you T-Bone for this awesome premiere video!

Feedback has been saying that this was the best LeBrain Train yet.  Do you agree?

REMINDER: Mike Fraser, Engineer Extraordinaire, on tonight’s LeBrain Train

Just a reminder that Mike Fraser, who has either engineered or mixed just about every album you love, will be on the show tonight!

The LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 48

In preparation for tonight, Deke and I have been doing our research, listening to records, and listening to other podcasts that Mike has been on.  While you can count on some AC/DC questions (and other major bands that Mike has worked with) Deke and I have some queries about some other albums off the beaten track.  You can check out some of Mike’s credits at his website.

Please give this a share to your rock buddies, and show Mike a warm welcome on tonight’s LeBrain Train!

January 29 2021. 7:00 PM E.S.T.
Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain

Note:  Thank you T-Bone for your understanding.  We original had T-Bone Erickson on the schedule for tonight to debut the latest Current River music video.  That show will now be pushed back to February 5.  T-Bone has graciously agreed to be bumped so we could talk to Mike Fraser.  Mighty fine dude!

REVIEW: The Stone Gods – Silver Spoons & Broken Bones (2008)

THE STONE GODS – Silver Spoons & Broken Bones (2008 Pias UK)

…and from the ashes of the beast came The Stone Gods, and they did lay waste to the land.

The “beast” from whose ashes that the Gods rose was The Darkness, an extremely talented band who were looked upon (either fairly or unfairly, you decide) as a novelty act. They split in twain, with singer Justin Hawkins forming the very Darkness-sounding Hot Leg. The rest of the band (guitarist and brother Dan Hawkins, drummer Ed Graham, and bassist Richie Edwards) stuck it out and renamed themselves The Stone Gods. Edwards, a fine singer in his own right, dropped the bass and became the frontman. New member Toby MacFarlaine was brought in on bass.

The lead single “Burn The Witch” was shocking in its metal ferocity.  This was not expected from 3/4 of the Darkness.

What made this band special is twofold. First, the undeniable writing talents of Dan and the band, proving that Justin was not the be-all and end-all of the Darkness.  Second, the voice of Richie Edwards. He truly has his own unique voice, something unusual in today’s soundalike music scene. It is part Bon Scott, part Halford, with a little bit of early raspy Joe Elliot thrown in, and 100% awesome. As a frontman, he was no Justin, but who is?  (Nobody!)

The band stuck solidly to a hard rock/heavy metal direction.  Ed Graham’s got his trademark cave-man drum fills, and it fits like a glove.  Dan’s guitar howls and shrieks like a thing possessed.  Above it all, Richie wails.  These songs rock.  Some, like “Defend or Die” and “Burn the Witch” are scorchers.  Others are hard rock classics.  Three tracks in particular fully qualify as Darkness-level rock anthems.  “Where You Comin’ From”, “Start of Something”, and “Wasting Time” each boast numerous hooks and arena-level choruses.  A track like “Wasting Time” has suitable weekend-ready lyrics.

My friends have all joined the rat race
It’s all suits, shirts and novelty ties
I’m not a fan of retirement plans
I refuse to change my way of life

Just about every song here is a winner; no losers.  It is important to note, however, that the album takes a turn for the lighter around the halfway point.  Indeed, the first three songs are a pure metal bludgeon.  After that, a few early-Def Leppard moments are thrown in (“Making It Hard”).  However it is never out of place, never too soft, never embarrassing.  It is simply a good time.  A well-rounded rock album with fists-a-flying, then a smoke break, and then some ass-kicking.  If you’re wondering why it sounds so good, I blame Canadian engineer Mike Fraser, who just nailed it.

Shortly after the album’s release, Ed Graham departed and was replaced by Robin Goodridge of Bush fame.  That’s him in the video for “Start of Something”. This great lineup recorded a yet-to-released second album.  But the Hawkins brothers could not be kept apart.  Robin returned to Bush, and the Darkness have enjoyed a very successful second era with brothers Dan and Justin back in action together once again.

Dan has indicated that the second Stone Gods album will eventually see release. If so, then this debut truly was the “Start of Something”.

5/5stars

 

Engineer Extraordinaire Mike Fraser joins the LeBrain Train – Friday Jan. 29 7:00 PM EST

The LeBrain Train:  2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 48

Ever wanted to know what it was like making records with AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Cult, Coverdale-Page, Joe Satriani, Blue Murder and many more? If so, make sure you tune in to this Friday’s episode of the LeBrain Train.

Mike Fraser has worked on so many classic rock albums that your head will spin. There is a 99.999% certainty that you know and love at least one record he’s been involved with. For some of us it’s more a matter of the ones we haven’t heard yet!

A huge thanks to Mike for agreeing to come on our lil’ show and chat music, and an equally big thank-you to Superdekes for hooking it up. This is going to be fun.

January 29 2021. 7:00 PM E.S.T.
Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain