Klassik ’78
Side One – EP
Klassik ’78 is a group of KISS fans who recorded the Side One – EP as a tribute to the iconic musical style and influence of 70’s-era KISS, While the 6 original tracks do an incredible job of capturing KISS’s magical sound from the late 70’s, the hooks are a little weak, giving the album more of a B-side feel. That said, it’s still probably the best KISS album since 1992’s Revenge. Not only are the vocals spot-on but the title, subject matter, and mood of each song fit perfectly with the singer: “Please ‘n Tease” (Gene Simmons), “Mean Business” (Peter Criss), “Streetwise” (Ace Frehley), “Passion & Love” (Paul Stanley). Bravo, gentlemen. Well done.

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Desert Mountain Tribe
Live at St. Pancras Old Church EP
3 1/2 STARS
If you missed Desert Mountain Tribe’s full-length debut album Either That Or The Moon you missed out on one of the best of 2016. Psychedelic rock can be tricky to play well live, but these guys had the task mastered long before they went into the studio. This short live record delights with four tracks from Moon including a new studio remix of “Enos in Space” and a fifth song from a previous EP.

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Depeche Mode
The original teen angst, gloomy-gloomers are back, but now their followers are parents in their forties. They’re all still depressed and, like most of the world, they want their political voice to be heard. Posting it as your Facebook status is one thing. Doing it all over your album when you’re Depeche Mode is another. Spirit may sound sleepy, bored, and uninspired to many. Thankfully, there are some bright spots like “Cover Me” and “Poison Heart.”

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CJ Ramone
American Beauty
A bit flashier and slightly more melodic than a Ramones album, CJ Ramone has put together a fine collection of tracks on American Beauty. “Girlfriend in a Graveyard” and “Run Around” go full-on classic Ramones style while “Tommy’s Gone” pays sweet homage to the late Tommy Ramone. A highly listenable record for the entire 33 minutes.

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Gary Clark Jr.
Live North America 2016
This is singer/guitarist Gary Clark Jr.’s second live album in two and a half years. Here’s the rub: the blues translates better in a live setting. Granted, not everything here is “blues,” per say. The funky falsetto of “Cold Blooded” and the sultry “Down to Ride'” are just two examples. The record relies heavily on tunes from Clark’s 2015 album The Story of Sonny Boy Slim so it can hardly be called a compilation of Clark’s best tracks. But it’s still a great introduction to the virtuoso’s work.

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If you’re a big classic rock and pop music fan you might enjoy my book 50 Songs From The 70s & 80s That Still Hold Up. You can check out a FREE PREVIEW right here:

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