American Mafia: Rock n' Roll Hit Machine
Tragic circumstance can often bring out the best in people, so when Holy Water - a band who released their The Collected Sessions debut to great acclaim - frontman David Knight tragically committed suicide earlier this year, the rest of the band had to decide whether to honour his life by soldiering on with the material they had been working on, or move to pastures new. Thankfully for them and us, the former option was taken, albeit via a name change to American Mafia, and Rock n' Roll Hit Machine is their first offering.
And what a first offering it is, guest vocalists who in the main or craft their own lyrics leading to a band feel, even though the voices change from song to song. However American Mafia themselves are no newbies, Doro Pesch guitarist Tom Jude, Quiet Riot/Widowmaker bassist Freddy Villano and Dokken/Arabia drummer Bobby Marks using all their experience to craft an assured slice of varied 70s Rock that drips with authenticity. Behind the mic Ed Terry (Rage & Beyond), Jimmy Kunes (Cactus), John West (Royal Hunt/Artension) Don Chaffin (VOX) and Mike DiMeo (Riot/Masterplan) lend their not inconsiderable talents, taking a set of already classy tracks and adding that little something special that raises Rock n' Roll Hit Machine to scintillating heights. Terry is up first, his husky authority perfect for this groovin' scene setter, before Kunes brings a Coverdale cool to a Bluesy stomp-a-romp. Not to be outdone West takes "Your Good Lovin'" down the Bad Company path, his Rodgers-esque delivery and the gang backing vocals adding to the hip-thrusting good times. This gives way to Chaffin taking up the charge on "Death & Satisfaction", where a Hendrix vibe meets Whitesnake via a slice of Magnum pomp and "Friendly Fire" which slows things down as Chaffin reaches for the vocal stratosphere. As if that wasn't enough, Ed Terry adds a little grit on the dirty shuffle of "If I Knew", before "Let Me Go" allows Mike DiMeo to deliver a characteristically varied and convincing performance.
A rocked up version of the Stevie Wonder classic "Living For The City" gives us all a chance to revel once more in the vocal prowess of David Knight, his clear, powerful style perfect for a song that stays true to the original, as it somehow reminds of everyone from ZZ Top to Lenny Kravtiz, while the American Mafia penned "All I Need" really allows Knight's voice to shine on a semi-acoustic track that rivals anything else on this excellent album.
Fittingly, instrumental "Resurrection" closes things out, 55 seconds of percussion, bass sliding and guitar howling, illustrating that while Rock n' Roll Hit Machine contains and array of ultra talented vocalists in the best of surrounds, without the songs to back it all up, it would count for little. American Mafia have the songs and then some, for from start to finish this is a sure fire Rock n' Roll Hit Machine!
2. Every Time
3. Your Good Lovin'
4. Death & Satisfaction
5. Friendly Fire
6. If I Knew
7. Man On The Flying Trapeze
8. Living For The City
9. The Sky Is Falling
10. Let Me Go
11. All I Need
Added: October 28th 2014
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Rock n' Roll Hit Machine at Grooveyard Records
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