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Steele - 'Tricks Up My Sleeve' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/8c/8c/38/1412_steeletricksupmysleeve_1310065503.jpg Hot

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An essential purchase for any fans of quality hook laden melodic rock.

LA based melodic rockers Steele release their re-issued debut album 'Tricks up My Sleeve' with four bonus tracks through Z Records in early May. The band initially released their self titled debut via the now defunct Alfa Brunette label in Japan during 1996, of which approximately only two hundred made it out of Japan, and copies of which have been seen to now sell for three figure sums on ebay, they are that rare. So after much digging and searching Z Records finally located band leader Jeff 'Steele' Zugale and a deal was inked during late January of this year. The band consists of some names that many of you know, Jeff 'Steele' Zugale, Steve Witchel [Little Sister], Hiro Homma [EZO, Loudness], Joe Fiamingo [Xenon] and Irene Wohlman [Xenon], with Ted Poley from 'Danger Danger' adding backing vocals.

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From the off 'Tricks Up My Sleeve' is a straight up and down Rock n Roll album and reminds me of prime time Dokken, Winger and Lynch Mob, and the excellent opening title track 'Tricks Up My Sleeve' could have featured on the playlist on MTV Headbangers Ball from 1989. The searching track 'Only In Your Mind' is about how people talk to their 'inner selves', with the up-beat 'Live Forever' about someone trying to hold back or control you, but instead of being angry it's about the limitless confidence you feel when you're young and crazy and going after your dreams, or even if you're older but still crazy and going after your dreams. The excellent 'Flirtin' With Fame' is a real gem of a track with its great hook and chorus, together with the mesmerising 'I'll Never Cry' and the very catchy '700 Miles', make this a real solid release. The four bonus tracks included on the new album are remixed versions of the original 4-track demo tapes from that first batch that was recorded whilst Jeff Zugale was still in his previous band Little Sister, so you can hear it raw, right from the source. Also in that batch was 'Love Ain't Gonna Change Me' - in fact it's the oldest song on the disc by at least a year, written as far back as late 1987, if you can believe it. However, the band didn't record that one until they did the "second set" of 4 songs, recorded in 1995, so in fact the oldest song is one of the most recent recordings.

In hindsight it's a real shame this debut album has not seen the light of day until now, as I'm sure if this had surfaced around the late eighties/early nineties it would have had a real impact on the hair metal scene. To sum things up, 'Tricks Up My Sleeve' is a forgotten gem of an album, and is an essential purchase for any fans of quality hook laden melodic rock.

Mark Warburton

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Review By Woody

An album written and recorded in the early 90’s gets released in Japan in the mid 90’s & finally see’s the light of day in 2011! Steele fell afoul of the radical change in the music industry around 92 to 94, where anything remotely commercial was dropped in favour of a grungier and less polished rock sound. Steele were even offered to remain on their label if they cut their hair grew beards wore flannel shirts and sounded like Alice In Chains!

Steele is basically main man Jeff “Steele” Zugale, but features performances from Steve Witschel (Bass), Hira Homma (Drums), Joe Fiamingo (Backing Vocals) Ted Poley (Backing Vocals), Irene Wohlman (Bass) & Dave Lewitt (Drums). This album has floated about in limbo for a long time so has been re-mastered and sound wise you can’t complain! Album artwork for me isn’t overly important and in the digital download age is something becoming less important for everyone. Although I have to say I really like the artwork here and throughout the booklet, I believe this was also done by Jeff Steele, it seems a man with many talents.

This album is very of its time, but that’s not a bad thing and it’s a shame it never saw the light of day when it had the potential to be a chart botherer. It’s in the vein of many American hair metal bands of the late 80’s & early 90’s. It’s a solid album and I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting as some hair metal bands can be a little samey – but this album does stand out amongst the glut of similar releases of that era. It doesn’t sound dated even though its style is evident with every chord, I’m sure fans of Skid Row, Poison, Motley Crue, Warrant, Tuff and that hair metal scene will love this album.

“Tricks Up My Sleeve” kicks off the album with a bang. A fantastic rockin tune, which features some great guitar work that will really stick with you. This is a head banging, air guitar-ing beauty complete with chant along chorus. “Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me” is a Skid Row inspired slice of rock n roll. Its high energy hair metal full of hooks, a killer track. “700 Miles” has an Americana acoustic ballad style beginning before kicking the guitars in big and chunky! This song has a great feel and some top notch vocals from Mr Steele.

“Flirtin With Fame” has big chunky riffs with a metallic edge. Another awesome guitar riff and strong memorable chorus. “Stay” is an atmospheric metal ballad, with a powerful vocal performance on the dark chorus. “Live Forever” is an energetic rocker with an urgent guitar riff and chant along Poison style chorus.

“I’ll Never Cry” has killer guitar riffs and a great pounding energy. The storming chorus on this song will get stuck in your head I assure you! “Only In Your Mind” has some wonderful intricate guitar work. It’s a hair metal ballad evoking Crue & Poison and I adore the guitar work on this track.

“Lead Me Over” is for me the weakest song on the album and it failed to grab me with its funky beat and meandering tone. Ballad “Innocence” closes the album and it didn’t stick with me and got boring very quickly. So a strong album finishes poorly with the two weakest tracks tacked on at the end.

Melodic Rock with a great hard edged swagger that will make you wanna get your air guitars out and crank em up to 11! I’m sure had this come out back in the day it would have been massive as it has hooks everywhere and chant along choruses, think Skid Row but more melodic! Steele are scheduled to play at Z Rock 2012 at The Robin in Wolverhampton and after hearing this I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys crank it up at the festival! If you still have a 50 foot perm, a penchant for wearing make-up and a love of hairspray – this one’s for you!

Track Listing: Tricks Up My Sleeve / Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me / 700 Miles / Flirtin’ With Fame / Stay / Live Forever / I’ll Never Cry / Only In Your Mind / Lead Me Over / Innocence

Album Rating: 4/5

Woody’s Essential Track: Tricks Up My Sleeve

Overall rating 
 
4.0
Production Quality 
 
4.0
Music Quality 
 
4.0
Artwork  
 
4.0
Value for Money 
 
4.0
Reviewed by Woody August 16, 2011
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (31)

Steele - Tricks Up My Sleeve

Review By Woody

An album written and recorded in the early 90’s gets released in Japan in the mid 90’s & finally see’s the light of day in 2011! Steele fell afoul of the radical change in the music industry around 92 to 94, where anything remotely commercial was dropped in favour of a grungier and less polished rock sound. Steele were even offered to remain on their label if they cut their hair grew beards wore flannel shirts and sounded like Alice In Chains!

Steele is basically main man Jeff “Steele” Zugale, but features performances from Steve Witschel (Bass), Hira Homma (Drums), Joe Fiamingo (Backing Vocals) Ted Poley (Backing Vocals), Irene Wohlman (Bass) & Dave Lewitt (Drums). This album has floated about in limbo for a long time so has been re-mastered and sound wise you can’t complain! Album artwork for me isn’t overly important and in the digital download age is something becoming less important for everyone. Although I have to say I really like the artwork here and throughout the booklet, I believe this was also done by Jeff Steele, it seems a man with many talents.

This album is very of its time, but that’s not a bad thing and it’s a shame it never saw the light of day when it had the potential to be a chart botherer. It’s in the vein of many American hair metal bands of the late 80’s & early 90’s. It’s a solid album and I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting as some hair metal bands can be a little samey – but this album does stand out amongst the glut of similar releases of that era. It doesn’t sound dated even though its style is evident with every chord, I’m sure fans of Skid Row, Poison, Motley Crue, Warrant, Tuff and that hair metal scene will love this album.

“Tricks Up My Sleeve” kicks off the album with a bang. A fantastic rockin tune, which features some great guitar work that will really stick with you. This is a head banging, air guitar-ing beauty complete with chant along chorus. “Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me” is a Skid Row inspired slice of rock n roll. Its high energy hair metal full of hooks, a killer track. “700 Miles” has an Americana acoustic ballad style beginning before kicking the guitars in big and chunky! This song has a great feel and some top notch vocals from Mr Steele.

“Flirtin With Fame” has big chunky riffs with a metallic edge. Another awesome guitar riff and strong memorable chorus. “Stay” is an atmospheric metal ballad, with a powerful vocal performance on the dark chorus. “Live Forever” is an energetic rocker with an urgent guitar riff and chant along Poison style chorus.

“I’ll Never Cry” has killer guitar riffs and a great pounding energy. The storming chorus on this song will get stuck in your head I assure you! “Only In Your Mind” has some wonderful intricate guitar work. It’s a hair metal ballad evoking Crue & Poison and I adore the guitar work on this track.

“Lead Me Over” is for me the weakest song on the album and it failed to grab me with its funky beat and meandering tone. Ballad “Innocence” closes the album and it didn’t stick with me and got boring very quickly. So a strong album finishes poorly with the two weakest tracks tacked on at the end.

Melodic Rock with a great hard edged swagger that will make you wanna get your air guitars out and crank em up to 11! I’m sure had this come out back in the day it would have been massive as it has hooks everywhere and chant along choruses, think Skid Row but more melodic! Steele are scheduled to play at Z Rock 2012 at The Robin in Wolverhampton and after hearing this I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys crank it up at the festival! If you still have a 50 foot perm, a penchant for wearing make-up and a love of hairspray – this one’s for you!

Track Listing: Tricks Up My Sleeve / Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me / 700 Miles / Flirtin’ With Fame / Stay / Live Forever / I’ll Never Cry / Only In Your Mind / Lead Me Over / Innocence

Album Rating: 4/5

Woody’s Essential Track: Tricks Up My Sleeve

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