Mountain Of Power: Volume Two
"Oh no, not another covers album" I hear you cry, "There's hundreds, nay thousands of the bloody things already". But hang on a minute Mountain Of Power are here to change how the tribute album should be done. Take a batch of under-appreciated heavy riffin' 70's classics, add a stellar cast of musicians who are obviously blasting out the tracks for the love of it and not to pay their mortgage. Then allow said guitar slingers and vocalists to stamp their own personalities on the music and in places cover two tracks by the same artist and mould them together via some of the tastiest fret blazing action you are likely to come across.
Sound slightly more interesting now? Indeed it does!
Mountain Of Power are masterminded by Janne Stark (Overdrive, Locomotive Breath, BALLS) who fires out some phenomenal bass and rhythm guitar as well as trading spectacular solos with the assembled cast throughout the whole album, and he along with drummers TrumPeter Svensson (Faith, Chris Catena) and James Collins (Pod) form the rock solid back bone that allows the guests to really strut their stuff and what eclectic and impressive guests they are. On the guitar front there's John Norum (Europe, Don Dokken), Conny Bloom (Electric Boys), Jay Jesse Johnson (Arc Angel, Cannata), Thomas Larsson (Glenn Hughes), Greg Martin (Rufus Huff), Ty Tabor (Kings X), everybody's favourite session musician Tommy Denander and that doesn't ever cover half the fretmeisters on show. Behind the mic stand is an equally impressive cast with Paul Shortino (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), David Freemberg (Truth), Martin J. Andersson (Blindstone) and Cindy Weichman (Nail) being some of the great voices that grace the disc.
Then there's the song choice itself. What a master stroke to mix some more unexpected choices from well established and respected acts like ZZ Top, Rory Gallagher, UFO and Y&T and then embellish them with selections from some completely over looked yet fantastic acts like Resurrection Band, Ozz or Trigger. Whilst it's easy to pick out riffs and licks from all the songs covered, the real joy in this experience is that they have been loosely reworked to allow the individual musicians to breathe their own style into the songs and not just ape how they were originally done. Take for example "Reasons Love/This Kids" which blends the two UFO classics via some tasteful blues licks courtesy of Stark, Andersen and Sven Cirnski (Truth). Listening to the two tracks come and go as they segue between themselves is hugely enjoyable and shows how much time has been put in arranging the music. This was definitely not a project thrown together in an afternoon.
Choosing highlights is extremely difficult as every time you slam this disc in the player something else smacks you between the eyes, however Mikael Nord Andersson's smooth melodic vocal delivery is perfect for the early Y&T pairing of "Struck Down/25 Hours A Day" and he, Stark and Joe Romagnola (Grooveyard Records supremo) tear through countless hard hitting solos that just keep you coming back for more. Slightly less well known are Trigger however Mountain Of Power's version of "Deadly Weapon", once more featuring Martin J Andersen and Stark, will have you searching auction sites for their self titled album as its hook laden chorus and killer riff have you singing along and throwing shapes before you know it. There really are too many fantastic performances to name check them all, however you need to check out Shortino's faultless vocal on Ozz's "Checkin' It Out/Sister Madness", Norum duelling with Stark as they spark off each other during "Talkin' 'Bout A Feeling" originally by Frank Marino and Mahogany Rush and Conny Bloom's vocal and solos on Rory Gallagher's "Bad Penny" which possess the vigour and urgency of the late great man himself.
The production from Romagnola and Stark is warm, full and very reminiscent of the era these tracks were first brought to life in and along with Ty Tabor's mastering, add to the whole experience greatly. Usually a throw away exercise, Mountain Of Power have proven with Volume Two that it is still possible to release an album of cover versions that sounds fresh, vital and even more importantly give a huge amount of pleasure with every listen.
1. Urban Guerilla (SAMMY HAGAR)
2. Checkin' It Out / Sister Madness (OZZ)
3. Makin' Magic / Makes No Difference (PAT TRAVERS)
4. Reasons Love / This Kids (UFO)
5. Talkin' 'Bout A Feeling (FRANK MARINO)
6. Monkey (TRAPEZE)
7. Bedroom Thang (ZZ TOP)
8. Deadly Weapon (TRIGGER)
9. Struck Down / 25 Hours A Day (Y&T)
10. MONEY (Whatcha Gonna Do) (LESLIE WEST)
11. Bad Penny / Keychain (RORY GALLAGHER)
12. Waves (RESURRECTION BAND)
13. Indian Dawn (ULI ROTH)
Added: March 1st 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Label's Web Site
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