Most of you probably haven't heard of Neil Merryweather. I only discovered him by accident. I was cruising the record bins at Logos when I stumbled upon a copy of Kryptonite. The sci-fi comic cover caught my attention so I pulled it out for further inspection. As soon I as saw the group photo on the back I was sold.
Holy shit, these guys were dressed like glam rockers but still looked like they could rock hard! I payed for the record and rushed home to have a listen. My expectations were low; these guys looked too good to be true. Or maybe not. Kryptonite is a beast of an album. Heavy riffs, wailing guitar leads, and proggy synths, oh my! Merryweather spits out space-distopian lyrics with a macho snarl. Reminds me a bit of early Alice Cooper. Both this album and their first (self-titled) are essential picks for fans of obscure proto-metal and heavy glam.
Neil Merryweather was involved in the LA music scene for years, floating from one project or another. He played bass on a handful of albums. Some were fairly good (Heavy Cruisers' first LP) and some were not (Merryweather's Word of Mouth). He did a brief stint with an early Rick James project and help write songs with Penthouse model, Lynn Carey, in Mama Lion. After a small amount of success he decided to go off on his own and formed the Space Rangers. He originally planned on doing a soft funk-rock thing in the same vein as Traffic, but fortunately for all of us he attended a David Bowie concert and found his new direction. They put out two albums and played one concert opening for KISS and T Rex before breaking up due to lack of support from their record label. Merryweather then went on to record several more lackluster solo albums and play bass for Lita Ford before completely disappearing into obscurity.
Alice Cooper is a seriously underrated band. They put out seven albums before Alice went solo and there ain't a single dud among them.
"Good to See You Again Alice Cooper" is essential viewing for any Alice Cooper fan. Highlights include Alice battling a giant rotting tooth with an oversized toothbrush and egging a member of the audience into an onstage fistfight. But be warned that you're gonna want to keep the remote handy. There's a lot of stellar live footage but it's spliced with "movie" scenes that mostly consist of some unfunny schmuck who's not even in the band doing unwatchable improv.
Is it too late for me to declare Danava's second album, UnonoU, the "Best Album of 2008?" I don't know what rock I've been hiding under for the past two years, but this album kills it. There's a lot of bands out there these days taking their style from late 60s/early 70s hard rock, but these guys are definitely taking in their own unique direction. The album starts of with the riff-heavy title track and carries on in the same vein into "Where Beauty & Terror Dance." After a healthy dose of classic hard rock the band throws in some ultra-proggy synthesizers to great effect. "The Emerald Snow of Sleep" starts off quiet with a Krauty synth sequence before blasting off into full-blown Hawkwind territory and then finishing of Side A with a flourish of horns that sound like they just stepped out of a Family Stone album. Intrigued? You should be. "A High or a Low" is the low point of the album, due to some sour trumpet notes and a lack of riffs but "Spinning Temple Shifting" brings back the heaviness, chugging away like Sabbath's about to go out of style. "Down From a Cloud, Up From the Ground" starts with some triumphant guitar riffing and works it's way into sci-fi synths and heroic vocal crooning from frontman, Dusty Sparkles, before veering back to proto-metal guitar soloing. Side C closes out the album with a thirteen minute epic titled "One Mind Gone Seperate Ways." This songs is a pretty good summary of what the whole album is about. Instead of simply rewriting their favorite Sabbath and Blue Cheer riffs, Danava dig deeper into their record collection and pull out Hawkwind, King Crimson, Blue Oyster Cult, and even some early Alice Cooper. The results are fantastic and show a huge amount of growth since their deput album in 2006. This is a band that's not afraid to take chances even if it means maybe losing some of their less adventurous listeners. I, for one, am a true believer. Word has it that there's a new album on the way, so keep your ears to the ground.