Fireworks

Red Zone Rider - 'Red Zone Rider' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     March 15, 2015    
 
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To prove how strong the album is, even the later tracks are amongst the highlights.

We definitely seem to be in an era of musical collaborations, and whilst I wouldn't class Red Zone Rider as a "super-group" of Chickenfoot or Black Country Communion proportions, the trio have all been involved in projects and bands you probably own CD's by. Guitarist Vinnie Moore has a successful solo career, played with Alice Cooper and has a decade in UFO under his belt, and drummer Scot Coogan has been the thunder behind Brides Of Destruction, Ace Frehley, Lynch Mob and Lita Ford, but the glue that holds RZR together is Kelly Keeling, erstwhile singer with Baton Rouge, Michael Schenker, Blue Murder and Trans-Siberian Orchestra, amongst others. What's most surprising here though is Keeling's prowess as a bass player, even adding some fretless work to this organic sounding, seventies-influenced Bluesy Hard Rock.

A power trio in every sense of the word, RZR have eleven unfussy tracks based on big riffs, great grooves and Moore's extended guitar solos, but they do it with a great deal of style and no small amount of variety given the limiting format. Opener 'Hell No' echoes both BCC's eponymous title song and Doug Aldrich's Burning Rain, and along with the brooding 'By The Rainbow's End', the pacy Rock and Roller 'Save It' and the gritty 'Never Trust A Woman', exude a definite air of Ritchie Blackmore in his Deep Purple and early Rainbow heyday. 'House Of Light' is a little more succinct and less jam-like – should they want to release a single – and the Funky 'Hit The Road' hints at Stevie Salas, but the slow Blues of the beautifully done 'Cloud Of Dreams' has a great vocal from Keeling and proves they can be subtle when they want to.

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To prove how strong the album is, even the later tracks are amongst the highlights, particularly the raw vocals and superb playing on 'The Hand That Feeds You', the classy Hammond backing of 'There's A Knowing', with its early Uriah Heep feel, and the thundering closer 'Count's 77', which is surely at the wrong end of the album and would have made a blistering opener. Mike Varney's sympathetic production aids the loose style of much of this album, making every little nuance audible and overdubbing just the guitar solos, sparse keys and a few backing vocals and letting the free-flowing music and great performances shine.

I've been a Vinnie Moore fan ever since I heard his work on the otherwise disappointing Vicious Rumors debut and subsequent groundbreaking 'Mind's Eye' and 'Time Odyssey' instrumental albums, and even though I've gotten something positive from all the recent UFO releases, I'd go as far as to say this is the best vocal album he's ever appeared on.

Phil Ashcroft

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