Stryper: Live at The Whisky
The Yellow & Black Attack that is the legendary band Stryper! I can still remember hearing that 1st EP and being floored. THAT guitar tone!! The constant amazing riffing that both Oz Fox and Michael Sweet brought to the table and then to understand that Michael Sweet also possessed those vocal chords!! Jeesh!!!! Then their 1st full length record was dropped on our heads in 1985, and to quote Queensryche, "like a 10 ton heavy thing", which was Soldiers Under Command. Soldier's is still such an amazing piece of Metal and also a landmark for thousands and thousands of guitar players around the world that would try to duplicate that "Stryper tone". Fox and Sweet would once again grab the listener by the throat with that opening title track riff and continue to pummel our senses with guitar driven perfection and then add in the super tight rhythm section of Timothy Gaines on bass and Robert Sweet on drums and also let us not forget the once again awe inspiring vocals from Michael Sweet. I have always thought of Sweet's vocals being the Metal equivalent of Styx's Dennis DeYoung. And to be honest, I always wondered why Styx didn't tap Michael Sweet's vocals when DeYoung departed Styx?! I've always thought that would have been the perfect fit, but what do I know?!
Let's move forward 30 years and Stryper has just released a great new live record called, Live at The Whisky and is available in both CD and on DVD. The 16 tracks on the CD (the DVD includes all 16 tracks on the CD, as well as 2 video's and an All Access interview) on run through Stryper's entire catalog and includes at least a song from every Stryper record. Recorded and filmed at a sold out show at the legendary Whisky on L.A.'s Sunset Strip, Live at the Whisky is an excellent snap shot of the 30 year history of this great California band. And Stryper sounds as fresh and hungry as the band did "back in the day".
There isn't a lot of fluff on this record and in fact, there isn't a lot of crowd banter between Michael Sweet and the audience, instead opting to let their music do the talking. This CD/DVD set opens up with the song, "Legacy" from their most recent studio record, No More Hell to Pay and rolls right into another new but VERY vintage Stryper sounding tune, "Marching Into Battle". Next up is a song back to their beginnings, "You Know What To Do" from the Yellow & Black Attack EP from 1984 and then followed up with another classic from the EP, "Loud & Clear". Sweet's vocals are sounding very much like it is still the 80's and the 30 years since 1984 have been very kind to him. He is easily in a class of maybe 3 singers from the 80's that sounds pretty much exactly as he did back then. He is truly amazing and I can attest to this, as I have witnessed Stryper live recently.
Live at The Whisky contains all of the Stryper classic's; "Soldiers Under Command", "The Way", "To Hell With The Devil", "Free", "The Rock That Makes Me Roll", "Always There For You" and many more and they all sound like they were just written. Guitar solos are note for note as on the studio recordings and again there are Michael Sweet's pristine vocals. This recording is crystal clear and the production sounds awesome with just maybe a "studio magic" tweak or 2, but nevertheless this record is a great celebration of the history of Stryper. I have been a fan for a long time and it is a great release for any Stryper fan be them a newer fan or an old school fan. Live at The Whisky is also a great representation of what this band possesses live and just how furious of a twin guitar duo that Oz Fox and Michael Sweet are and have been for 30 years. They have done an excellent job of carrying the torch of the twin lead guitar tandem that a band like Thin Lizzy helped to first blaze.
Live at The Whisky is an excellent live record and the Stryper covers all of the song bases that would keep any fan happy that they included. Robert Sweet and Timothy Gaines are as solid as they were in the 80's and do not miss a beat. The CD and DVD will not disappoint any fan and will help to convert anyone that might still be on the fence after all these years. Stryper were caught at the top of their game on this live disc and the results will speak for themselves. Stryper are still on fire and now you can actually watch it for yourselves.
2. Marching Into Battle
3. You Know What To Do
4. Loud And Clear
5. Reach Out
6. Calling on You
8. More Than A Man
9. The Rock That Makes Me Roll
10. No More Hell To Pay
11. Jesus Is Just Alright
12. Always There For You
13. All For One
14. The Way
15. To Hell With The Devil
16. Soldiers Under Command
Added: October 15th 2014
Reviewer: Butch Jones
Related Link: Band Website
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|Stryper: Live at The Whisky
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-10-15 15:11:44
With the plethora of live albums constantly being released in recent years I find it increasingly difficult to get excited about a thing that used to be the crowning glory of a band's achievements. And then along came Live At The Whiskey from the evergreen (well everyellowandblack…) Christian Rockers, Stryper. Now, I'm not going to claim that this latest outing from the soldiers under command is up there with the 70s double live-monoliths, however it does prove that if you gather together a band's best material, perform it in a small venue crammed with your faithful fans and then produce it in such a way that the crowd doesn't encroach on the music, yet the songs still have the vibrancy and energy only found "live", that you really can still have something vital on your hands. Live At The Whiskey is exactly that - a little rough around the edges, a little adrenalin over precision, more than a little hot and sweaty and all the more convincing for it.
The expected tracks are here, "To Hell With The Devil", "The Rock That Makes Me Roll", "Always There For You" and "Soldiers Under Command", while a few newer or more surprising numbers, such as "No More Hell To Pay" or "Jesus Is Just Alright" hit the bull's eye with equal force. The Sweet brothers are in great form; Michael hitting all the high (and low) notes behind the mic and ripping out the solos with ruthless accuracy, while drummer Robert lays down the law behind the kit; solid as a rock, fluid as a running stream. Bassist Time Gaines pins everything in place, his keep it simple, yet varied approach perfect, while guitarist Oz Fox rolls out the riffs and booms out the backing vocals in immense style.
Michael Sweet also produced …Whiskey and while the performances and vibe this show obviously allowed him to work with are impressive in their own right, much of the credit as to just how well this album has turned out, really has to go to him. There's a very fine line between over producing a live album and a finer one yet between under cooking things, however Sweet nails it all down perfectly, bringing a real "in the moment" mood to the whole occasion (a rare thing indeed), while still providing a polished enough finish to draw you back for more.
Stryper really have been in great form since their 2011 covers album The Covering; 2013 studio album Second Coming (which this album was actually recorded prior to the release of) a scintillating return to form and now, covering all the bases, comes one of the best live releases I've heard in quite some time. Nothing fancy, nothing too simple, Live At The Whiskey does what every live album should and what most fail to do; make you wish you were there.
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