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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

EBC Roxx

Winners Vol.1

Review by Larry Toering

This is a pro racing / concept based album by German female singer Ela, along with J.R. Blackmore (Ritchie Blackmore's son) and Tony Carey.  Blackmore and Carey first crossed paths in Over The Rainbow, which Carey left early on to pursue other interests. Ela and Blackmore had also previously worked together. The album is based around a Mercedes racing concept. Plenty of blistering guitar and keyboard work is featured throughout, as well as dual and lead vocals. There is a great blend of hard rock and AOR/prog stylings, including some metal and the usual prog variety that Carey is well known for. He  swings easily between full on prog and AOR prog territory. So that, combined with Ela's power vocals and Blackmore's  virtuosic guitar is where the disc meets very well with a contemporary edge.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Rolling

The opener is a fantastic retro pop vibe with great hooks to spare. It sets everything up for what's to come, which never loses course in the prestigious proverbial race. Ela and Carey pull off a classic seamless vocal duet here. Everything blends so well together that it's like they've been playing together all of their lives. Blackmore and Carey do some nice interplay. This is excellent stuff!

Fly

Things begin here with some piercing guitar and organ before a riff takes over in a very Rainbowish, (ala Long Live Rock & Roll) fashion. It then takes on a modern edge while backing the vocals before it's heard again. It is absolutely killer how they blend together here like total magic. Blackmore gets a chance to stretch out with Carey once again, but it's not enough yet.

Red Dirt Devils

This one takes a little more investigating, but once you get it there is no turning back as it's a great number underneath the surface. Carey has a raspy grunge voice that adds a certain charm, but takes getting used to. I love the way Ela backs him in a very 80's – 90's approach. They don't hesitate anywhere to mix classic and modern factors without too much of one or the other, or too much metal. This track, too, is somehow AOR friendly, and that, for me, is where the whole balance comes together, resulting in such a good band.

Drivin' Song (let's rock)

Off to Vegas we go, and in comes more of an urban element in this “hit the road” song. Most of it makes the mark, but doesn't make it to the pole position, as it does has a very repetitive chorus. But it's only “part one.” Blackmore gets a run worth mentioning here, though. He really is a fine apple that didn't fall far from the tree, and he works so well with Carey, like they were always destined to record together.

Big Livin'

This opens with a bass very reminiscent of Deep Purple's “Demon's Eye” and the riff once again has that Rainbow feel, but also once again doesn't drown things out. I love the chorus here with its poppy groove. This is so laid back and mellow, yet gets it's rocking point across equally at the same time. It's a great little sleeper number, if there is one here.

Your Last Dance

There is a dreary keyboard motif to set this up before Carey comes in with a very Planet P-type vocal approach. Overall, it’s a fabulous performance by him in something of the ballad variety for which he has always been famous. This reminds me of “Armageddon.” There are some flying solo bits from Blackmore here as well, outstanding work indeed!

Drivin' Song (let's go)

Now we're back for more to see if things make the mark from the previous “Drivin' Song,” and that they do. It’s a great technique to split things up and scatter it through the concept. Ela must be mentioned here, as she adds a perfect touch to the vocals. Awesome piano flurries spar with the guitar before Blackmore takes a tone perfect solo. This is completely out of sight, and one of the best tracks on the disc.

Silver Arrows

Lending to the concept, this is the lead track which is featured with some video promotion. Everything going on in the set comes out full circle in this track about the racing team.

Winners

This is of course more akin to the concept, as it is the title track. It starts with some decent guitar lines and a beefy groove, and then Carey just makes it a song. He takes the lead vocal and Ela follows once again, both putting in mellow but also very rough vocal performances. They were either meant to sing together or it's produced so well it's deceiving. This is just meant to be, and Blackmore is once again all over the place, yet very humble about it. This track is very human, very down to earth for how spacey some of the album is. It's just all very organic somehow.

Winners (mixx)

Now this is less organic and perhaps more in line with the style of album it's on, at least to a notifying extent. It helps to add this version in order to see that the listener gets it. This is very well done, and I love the guitar soloing over the hand claps.

Silver Stomp (special mixx)

This is really just yet a third mix of “Winners” with a lot of percussive loops, the repeated chorus and some cool guitar effects for good measure. One of two alternate mixes of the title track, these are all worthy inclusions for their variation that serve to round this disc out very well.

Out Of Time (bonus)

This is a bonus track originally featured on Ela's album on which Blackmore guested. It's a great rocker with a contemporary feel that won't quit, thanks, of course, to not only Ela's sassy hard rocking approach, but Blackmore's modern-edged guitar solo. There is a promo video for this track, as well, as it was was fairly well publicized.

 
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