CD Reviews

Driver - 'Countdown' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     August 08, 2012    
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A great sounding and enjoyable 80's record.

Anyone who remembers the M.A.R.S. ‘Project: Driver’ album from 1986 will remember it as one of the early Supergroups that various labels were throwing money at hoping to hit Gold (In this case good old stalwarts of Metal, Shrapnel Records) With a line-up that consisted of Rob Rock on vocals, Tony MacAlpine on guitar, Rudy Sarzo on bass and Tommy Aldridge on drums, how could it possibly fail? Well, there was never a second album and I don’t remember any shows announced either here or across the Atlantic Ocean.

Jump ahead to 1990 and a widely released five song cassette EP featuring just Rob Rock and therefore a name change borrowing the album title and suddenly the world is interested. There’s nowt as queer as folk is there? But again the various players went off to do their own thing. Roy Z in particular went on to produce the likes of Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Judas Priest, Sebastian Bach and Helloween whilst Rob Rock had fun fronting the likes of Impellitteri, Joshua and Axel Rudi Pell before being elbowed out by Jeff Scott Soto. Around 2007 Rock and Z decided to resurrect the ‘Driver’ name and recruited their former colleagues. So, add the likes of drummer Reynold ‘Butch’ Carlson (Joey Tafolla/Jag Panzer/Tribe After Tribe/Missing Persons), bassist Aaron Samson (Odin/George Lynch/Rowan Robertson/John5) and keyboardist Edward Harris Roth (Glenn Hughes/Ronnie Montrose/Rob Halford) and what have you got? Hey presto! Another Supergroup. In 2008 with all guns blazing they released ‘Sons Of Thunder’ which ultimately garnered them a slot on Germany’s prestigious ‘Bang Your Head’ festival in 2009. Instead of capitalising on their first European adventure they retired back to the States and took time out before commencing work last year on the follow-up to ‘Sons Of Thunder’

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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One thing that immediately jumps out at you on ‘Countdown’ is Roy Z’s 80’s production and his great riffs. In fact almost every song has a riff you can get excited about! This guy is a serious player with various use of Maiden style picking (Return To The Sky), Warren De Martini style reverb (Thief In The Night), Mike Varney influenced arpeggios and great use of Echo (Destiny) and a surprising interesting tone on ‘Running From The Darkness’. You know what you’re getting with Rob Rock. Pick any song and he delivers a great vocal, very high on the title track and high sustain on the aforementioned ‘Thief In The Night’ whilst an altogether smooth tone on the ballad ‘Always On My Mind’ that features nice piano from Roth with Z’s production allowing all the instruments to breathe. There’s some nice drum patterns from Carlson on the title track whilst Samson’s bass playing is best heard on ‘Destiny’.

If you make an allowance for a handful of generic songs such as ‘Hollywood Shooting Star’ and the European bonus track ‘Babylon’ then you still have a great sounding and enjoyable 80’s record. One for all those of us who never grew up!

Carl Buxton

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