Review Rundown: Christopher Cross, Willy DeVille, Rory Gallagher, Twisted Sister

This edition of the Review Rundown takes looks at releases from Christopher Cross, Willy DeVille, Rory Gallagher, Twisted Sister and Moving Mountains.

Purchase - Doctor Faith
File Under: Christopher Cross
Christopher Cross  - Doctor Faith (Eagle): Doctor Faith, the first true solo album from Christopher Cross since 2000’s Red Room, shines when Cross does what he does best, the stuff he is known for – write simple, relatable love songs and sing them with his trademark, recognizable tenor that most of us know and love (“When You Come Home,” “November”), but when Cross, who had not released a full on solo album in nearly a dozen years, attempts to modernize his craft and step outside of the box so to speak, Doctor Faith is less than stellar (“I’m Too Old for This,” “Prayin’”). The album also benefits from the presence of some of Cross’ friends, as Michael McDonald shows up on the album’s title track and Erik Johnson lends some guitar riffs to “Hey Kid,” probably the best song of the bunch. Sure, Cross’ overall demeanor may be that of being older and wiser, but after giving Doctor Faith a few spins you’ll come to realize that while he sure is older, he really isn’t all that much wiser. (
Grade: C+
Go Download: “Hey Kid”

Purchase - Come a Little Bit Closer
File Under: Classic Live Goodness
Willy DeVille - The Best of Willie DeVille Live: Come a Little Bit Closer (Eagle): 17 live recordings compiled as an attempt to catalog the somewhat storied career of Willie DeVille, the Best of Willie DeVille Live: Come a Little Bit Closer serves as a much needed reminder of all the tremendous sonic accomplishments of the late singer/songwriter. These tracks were recorded in Europe and span DeVille’s career from 1977 and his time fronting Mink DeVille to 2006, and prove to be about as inconsistent as the man’s career itself.  Bits and pieces of the Best of Willie DeVille Live: Come a Little Bit Closer find DeVille in his prime and at his absolute best, whether it be chugging through the bluesy “Steady Drivin’ Man” or standing centerstage for a shimmering, stripped-down version of “Storybook Love.” When DeVille was on his game, there weren’t many better, though sadly, as the Best of Willie DeVille Live: Come a Little Bit Closer portrays, that wasn’t always the case, as some of the material housed within just falls short of the mark (“Slave to Love,” “Hey Joe”). Still though, the Best of Willie DeVille Live: Come a Little Bit Closer delivers hits in spades, including the opener “Venus of Avenue D” and the fiery and explosive “Demasiado Corazon (Too Much Heart).” Some of DeVille’s mainstream hits are missing in action (“Maybe Tomorrow,” “Each Word’s a Beat of My Heart”), and even with the exclusion of some of the man’s more well-known material doesn’t derail this train, one you’ll find yourself riding over and over again. (
Grade: B+
Go Download: “Venus of Avenue D”      

Purchase - Notes From San Francisco
File Under: Lost Recordings from a Guitar Wizard
Rory Gallagher – Notes from San Francisco (Eagle): Notes from San Francisco, a Rory Gallagher release originally recorded back in 1979 but scrapped at his own hands because he didn’t like the original recording, is now finally seeing the light of day via a proper release some 30 years later, and, as the old saying goes, better late than never. Remastered and delicately handled with care, Notes from San Francisco is a record full of such sheer guitar brilliance that it will further cement Gallagher’s legacy as one of guitar rock’s all time greatest, as if he needed any help in that department. “Overnight Bag” might be the best guitar shredding Gallagher ever laid on wax, but it’s far from the only highlight track here. “Rue the Day,” “B Girl,” “Mississippi Sheiks” and “Wheels Within Wheels” are four other tracks worthy of an immediate listen, but again, Notes from San Francisco is a record that need be consumed on the whole because these songs are just that good. You shouldn’t have to sit here and read how good the music is – this is a Rory Gallagher release we’re talking about here, so you should know the guitar work here is going to be some of the best you’ve ever heard. And as if Notes could get any better, Eagle Records dropped this release as a double disc and tossed in a full 2nd disc of live recordings from Gallagher in the Bay Area. When it comes to blues, Gallagher was a true master, and when it comes to guitars, it doesn’t get much better than Notes from San Francisco. (
Grade: A
Go Download: “Overnight Bag” 

Purchase -  Under The Blade
File Under: Metal Memories
Twisted Sister – Under the Blade Reissue (Armoury): Yes, Twisted Sister’s 1982 debut Under the Blade is seminal in its own right, and the heaviest record the band ever released, blah blah blah. You know that and Armoury Records knows that, which is why they have re-released the classic record, a reissue that comes with more bells and whistles that you can shake your favorite makeup applicator at. With this new release, not only do you get Under the Knife, and songs like “What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You),” “Shoot 'em Down,” and “Destroyer,” you will also get the bands rare, hard to find first ever EP Ruff Cutts. The EP features demo versions of many of the tracks from Under the Knife, and is capped off by the bands cover of Shangri-La’s “Leader of the Pack” (which would later emerge on Love is For Suckers). There is also a live version of “Shoot Em’ Down” from the Reading Festival. And speaking of the 1982 Reading Fest, the re-issues’ DVD content features the bands controversial set from said festival, an infamous performance that sees the crowd hurls copious amounts of trash, fruit, bottles of urine and bags of feces (which you later find out during the bonus interview content). The debris tossing leads to frontman Dee Snider challenging anybody throwing it to come up on stage for a fistfight - unfortunately, no one takes him up on his offer. Pete Way, Eddie Clarke and Lemmy join the band onstage for their cover of the Rolling Stones “It’s Only Rock and Roll,” which serves as the sets closer. The bonus interview content runs 40 minutes in length, which is just the icing on the cake. As far as re-releases go, Under the Blade’s redeux from Armoury is as good as they come. (
Grade: A
Go Download: “Shoot Em’ Down”

Purchase - Waves
File Under: Mountainous Atmospheric Rock
Moving Mountains – Waves (Triple Crown): Waves is the best record Thrice never wrote, a massive whale of an album whose soaring, expansive sound is without borders, one that’s nothing short of thoroughly captivating. Waves opens like an impenetrable wall with “My Life is Like a Chase Dream (And I’m Still Having Chase Dreams),” and from there on in listeners are awash in an ocean of epic guitar swells, sweeping crescendos and crashing melodies. The albums crushing emotionality is stunning (“Once Rendering,” “Parts in Different Places”), though Waves clearly shines when MovMou’s high-arching post-everything histrionics grab hold and take center stage (“Where Two Bodies Lie,” “Alleviate”). The closing “Full Circle” puts a pretty little bow on Waves, sending the tremendous work off into the ethers; much like “Red Sky” did for Thrice on their 2005 release Vheissu. There is a touch of experimentalism on Waves, a sonic element that causes MovMou to not be content with mere limits in terms of sound, which for the most part is polarizing and immersive. When it comes to Moving Mountains and Waves, its best to not look to the past but to embrace the future, which for this band, should be pretty bright. (
Grade: A
Go Download: “Alleviate”