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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Pushking

The World as We Love It

Review by Gary Hill

While this might be the first time you’ve heard of Pushking, it probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard of many of the musicians who guest on this release. In fact, if you are a fan of classic hard rock, that guest list alone makes this work having. The type of music the band (a Russian act) produce here certainly fits into that framework, too, though. Everything presented here is killer classic rock, but really the guest list is so impressive you just can’t ignore it. When was the last time you heard of an album that included Paul Stanley, Billy Gibbons, Steve Vai, Glenn Hughes, Alice Cooper, Graham Bonnet, Dan McCafferty, Joe Bonamassa, Udo Dirkschneider, Steve Lukather and Joe Lynn Turner? Never? Well, that’s not even the full list. I suppose if the music weren’t solid the list of guests wouldn’t be enough to sell it, but there is definitely no weakness in that area either. This is a must have for fans of classic rock.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Intro

This fourteen second long piece, is just what it says, a short introduction. While many introductions like this would be purely instrumental. That’s not the case here. In fact, this is just a wall of rock and roll vocals leading it off.

Nightrider
Here we get a straight ahead rocker that’s very tasty. It’s got a bit of jazz element to some of the overlayers, but has a lot of ZZ Top rock and roll built into the song. Of course, that ZZ Top sound comes in a large degree from the fact that Billy Gibbons provides both his guitar and lead vocal skills to this number. It’s a real powerhouse. They pull the track out in some different sounds at times in more reflective sections.
It'll Be OK
Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme fame provides guitar on this number and Billy Gibbons returns in vocal mode. The track starts with an intricate acoustic guitar sound. It works out to a more rock based arrangement for the raw, but tasty, rock and roll vocals. In some ways this resembles 80s melodic metal, but there’s also a more modern tinge here. It’s a killer tune with quite a few shifts and changes and a lot of drama built into the arrangement. There’s even a neosymphonic prog like jam mid-track. I can even make out some Alice Cooper at times on this piece, which is odd because Cooper shows up on the next number.
Troubled Love
The introduction on this piece actually calls to mind The Yes Album era Yes, but it powers out to a straight ahead rock and roller from there. Alice Cooper provides the vocals and Keri Kelli plays guitar. Kelli plays in Cooper’s band, so it shouldn’t be a big surprise that this feels a lot like something the make-upped on might do on one of his discs. There is a proggier bridge later in the number.
Stranger's Song
John Lawton (Lucifer’s Friend and Uriah Heep) provides vocals here and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) plays guitar. The tune has a power ballad kind of texture and in some ways feels like something Uriah Heep might have done. It’s a melodic metallic rocker that’s quite tasty.
Cut The Wire
Paul Stanley’s vocals are unmistakable here. Stevie Salas, known as a funk guitarist for George Clinton’s band (among others) is less recognizable on the cut. It’s a smoking hot rocker that seems to bring a proggy element to a Kiss type tune. The bridge, though, does show off some of that funk sound. The closing section really turns very progressive rock like with some serious space rock elements.
My Reflections After Seeing The "Schindler's List" Movie
The sole guest on this piece is Steve Vai. Of course, when you’ve got someone that talented, you really don’t need a whole cast of characters, do you? While this is mellower and more melodic, it’s still a real rocker. There are some proggy aspects here, too.
God Made Us Free
Graham Bonnet provides the vocals on this piece and it’s a melodic rocker that’s quite tasty.
Why Don't You
Acoustic guitar leads off in a dramatic balladic motif. Glenn Hughes’ vocals come in with his typical flair and style. This grows gradually and in an especially tasty fashion. Then around the minute mark it takes on an almost progressive rock oriented twist, but with that rock ballad style preserved. There’s a multi-layered vocal arrangement that’s quite cool and some elements of country music show up in some of the guitar work.
I Believe
With Jeff Scott Soto providing the vocals for this tune, it’s definitely got more of a hard edged, metallic element to it. The backing vocals provide more melodic sounds, though, and overall this is a great classic rock sounding tune.
Tonight
With Glenn Hughes back in the vocal seat and Joe Bonamassa showing up to bring guitar, half of Black Country Communion is present on this tune. As one might expect, there’s a smoking hot, bluesy rock sound to the piece. This is one of the best pieces on show and it includes some shifts to almost fusion territory at times. While Bonamassa’s guitar soloing is a force to be reckoned with, the multilayered vocal arrangement later in the piece really steals the show. What a powerhouse this is, while still remaining slow and fairly restrained in terms of the musical quality.
Private Own
Here’s a powerhouse rocker that feels quite a bit like Living Colour to me. It has a great vibe and groove and alternates between a mellower verse and harder rocking chorus. Glenn Hughes is back on this number. Matt Filippini is guest guitarist and Konstantin Kokorin guests on bass.
Open Letter To God
Essentially a powered up ballad, this number could certainly fall into the category of progressive rock. There is a lot of classical music built in, particularly in the earlier sections of the track. It might be one of the more subdued numbers (although it does power up) but it’s also one of the most poignant cuts. It’s one of the highlights of the set. Eric Martin (of Mr. Big fame) guests on vocals here.
Nature's Child
This is a real rocker with a gritty edge. It feels a bit like a blues-based hard rock jam with some Megadeth built in early, but it shifts out to something like a symphonic metal take on ZZ Top later. Udo Dirkschneider of Accept and UDO fame is the guest vocalist on the piece.
I Love You
In a lot of ways this sounds like the more melodic side of 1980s Kiss. Dan McCafferty (of Nazareth) lends his vocal talents and that brings a bit of a Nazareth element to play. The cut has some shifts to music more akin to progressive rock or mellow fusion at times, too.
Head Shooter
The riff that drives this feels like a more metal take on old Grand Funk Railroad and it’s a killer. Joe Lynn Turner’s vocals bring a definite southern rock vibe and this is a smoking hot tune with a classic rock vibe.
Heroin
Jorn Lande is the guest vocalist here. It’s another with a fiery riff driving it. There is more of a metal vibe here and some seriously dramatic musical elements. Still, the main focus is a killer hard-edged classic rock sound. That blues rock sort of sound is also heard at points here. In fact, some of this cut calls to mind Nazareth a bit, even without Dan McCafferty.
My Simple Song
A mellower more melodic tune, this is basically a power ballad. It again calls to mind Nazareth, but this time McCafferty is back. It’s a great tune that is very effective. There are some proggier, more symphonic elements brought to play later. There’s also a bit of a guitar solo (with vocals continuing) later that has both a Hawaiian kind of vibe and feels something like Steve Howe might do.
Kukarracha
This is a pretty simplistic cut that’s fun, nonetheless. Really, it would be a forgettable tune except for the cast of guests. Steve Lukather provides guitar work and Joe Lynn Turner, Eric Martin, Glenn Hughes, Paul Stanley and Graham Bonnet all return to provide their vocal stylings. Those guest appearances are what make the track worthwhile.
 
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