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Non-Prog CD Reviews

John Norum

Play Yard Blues

Review by Gary Hill

Those of you who clamor for and crave the old school bluesy rock that was so popular in the 1970s would do well to latch onto this slab of musical mayhem. It feels very much like it could have been released in the 1970s. At times one might hear Thin Lizzy. At other points you could think of Captain Beyond or even Black Sabbath or Motorhead. All in all, though, it’s a killer hard rock ride that never gets redundant or tired. Consider this one highly recommended.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Let It Shine

There’s an old school hard rocking funky element to this smoking hot number. It’s got plenty of blues on show and really feels like it could have come out of the 1970s. The chorus is catchy and a bit more modern, but still steeped in classic rock. There’s a cool space rock styled jam later in the piece that calls to mind Captain Beyond a bit.

Red Light Green High
That old school bluesy hard rock is delivered here, too. This is a meaty jam that’s quite cool. There’s a bit of a psychedelic air to this, calling to mind Cream at times. It’s also got some stoner rock in the mix and it’s pulled out into another spacey jam mid-track.
It's Only Money
The main musical concept remains unchanged here, but this is definitely not a carbon copy. The arrangement is a bit more stripped down and the riff that drives this is classic. It’s another scorching hot blues rock song. This is another that includes some healthy amounts of funk in the mix. The vocals on this make me think of Thin Lizzy.
Got My Eyes On You
As this one pounds in, it makes me think of a cross between Thin Lizzy and Motorhead. It’s another powerhouse rocker that is very much in keeping with the bluesy hard rock of old. There’s a killer guitar solo movement on this piece that calls to mind old school heavy metal quite a bit.
When Darkness Falls
There’s a bit of a funky, rubbery groove to this. It’s a bit sparser arrangement than some of the other songs, but the progression is also a bit more complex. This really feels like (with a different arrangement) it could have come from Uriah Heep in the 1970s. The guitar solo section is fiery and leans towards heavy metal.
Over And Over
This is another killer bluesy rock jam that would have been quite at home in the 1970s. It’s a real screamer.
Ditch Queen
As it comes in this feels a bit punky. It modulates out to something closer to the rest of the output we’ve heard thus far. It’s another smoking hot tune on album that’s full of them. The lyrics to this one are loaded with double entendres.
Travel In The Dark
In some ways this isn’t that different from the rest of the material, but it’s definitely got a more complex arrangement and song structure. It’s classic rock at its heart, though.
Born Again
This cut to me is more metallic. I hear it in very much the same vein as Ian Gillan era Black Sabbath. Of course, there is also some Deep Purple on board.
Play Yard Blues
The title track starts with some guitar heroics in a solo dominated introduction. It moves out to a killer blues jam. This is the most solidly bluesy cut on show and a real powerhouse of musical mastery. It’s an instrumental and one that calls to mind the blues greats.
 
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