Tag Archives: barry sparks

“Lightning Strikes Again” by Dokken

Artist: Dokken
Title: “Lightning Strikes Again”
Label: Rhino Entertainment
Release Date: 5/13/2008
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 4/5

When you think of the bands that really made an impact on the Big Metal scene of the eighties you just know that one of the first names to come to mind is going to be none other than Dokken. Since their inception in 1976, the band came into Rock prominence with their debut release “Breaking The Chains” (1983) and by the time their sophomore release “Tooth And Nail” (1984) hit, the band had seemed to reach stratospheric heights and their videos were running rampant on that new medium called MTV while conventional radio was welcoming some of their tracks in a regular rotation. The got lumped into the Glam Metal title but they were clearly a little deeper than many of those bands based on the level of technical ability displayed by guitarist George Lynch and the overall heaviness of their material. Over the years the band has changed somewhat in terms of lineup, as Lynch and Pilson are no longer a part of the group, but singer Don Dokken remains in place with original drummer “Wild” Mick Brown and together along with guitarist Jon Levin and journeyman bassist Barry Sparks have delivered “Lightning Strikes Again”. For those only coming into the picture now and wondering how the band could continue without the firepower of Lynch well let me be the first to say that Jon Levin kicks ass and has been doing justice to the bands classics on the live stage for a number of years. As far as bassist Sparks goes, well he counts UFO and Ted Nugent among his many credits so you know he is more than a capable player for anything Don and company can dish out. The title of the album is also fantastic for on “Lightning Strikes Again” we are finding a Dokken that has returned to the form that many of us first enjoyed in the band. It’s by no means a retro-album but instead one that plays upon the sounds and textures that made them one of the favorites and brings them together with a crunching vibe for the new millennium.
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“Sweden Rocks” (DVD) by Ted Nugent

Artist: Ted Nugent
Title: “Sweden Rocks”
Label: Eagle Vision
Release Date: 6/10/2008
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

Almost on the heels of the release of the CD that bore the same name comes the live concert video from Ted Nugent’s appearance on the Sweden Rocks festival back in 2006. Having recently reviewed the CD itself I was rather interested in seeing how this would come out since audio does not always clue you in to the level of quality delivered at the show. My critique of the CD was that Ted’s vocal sounded far too upfront in the mix and the backing players really sounded low, so that unevenness was a little bit annoying. Would this be the same with the DVD, well it was time to find out. Given this is a festival setting where hundreds of performers are crossing the stage, the décor for the band is rather limited to what appears to be cargo netting over some of the amps and of course Ted’s name logo hanging proudly in the back. Nugent was never much for over the top visual displays and was always more about his guitar playing and infamous stage banter and this is what we get in full during the concert. The main difference is that the DVD film features two songs cut from the CD, which are “Motor City Madhouse” and “Klstrphnky” – my guess is had they placed them on the audio only version that they would have needed a second CD. The show itself is pretty good and finds Ted well in command of quite a number of his legendary classics and he makes time to present a track from his forthcoming 2007 release “Love Grenade” with “Still Raising Hell”. It’s a good track, but for me I tend to lean to the classics when it comes to Uncle Ted in concert. His guitar playing is as awesome as ever, but somewhere in the mix I felt that his vocals were not as on top as they were in the CD presentation of this same show. Hey folks, he has been at this for some forty years and while he doesn’t show any signs of stopping, perhaps adding a powerhouse vocalist to the band and leaving him to do his business on the guitar would be the best move. As the fans will note from the show he can still deliver his banter and as always it remains a strong, pro-American message and is as expected also loaded with expletives. Maybe the kids shouldn’t listen in, but of course there is far worse being pronounced in any one Rap song these days so its probably not much of an issue and better they listen to Nugent anyways.
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“Sweden Rocks” by Ted Nugent

Artist: Ted Nugent
Title: “Sweden Rocks”
Label: Eagle Records
Release Date: 5/13/2008
Genre: Hard Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

In the world of Hard Rock music there are few musicians or even individuals like “Uncle” Ted Nugent and in a sense that is a depressing thing since the man approaches life and Metal with such energy and vitality at every single turn. The outspoken guitarist has been a mainstay on the concert circuit and long preached a drug and alcohol free lifestyle, maintains his advocacy of bearing arms and hunting game and very proudly standing up for ones country and political beliefs. To say that Ted Nugent is an interesting guy would be an incredible understatement and this live concert CD captures some of his essence at the Sweden Rock Festival that was held back in June 2006. Over the years I have seen Ted perform with a number of players and each of them worthy of some recognition when it came down to it. For the show at Sweden Rock we find him with a really powerhouse rhythm section that comes care of Barry Sparks on bass and “Wild” Mick Brown on drums. You probably recognize the names as two of the members who currently tour with Dokken and based on their years of experience at dishing out quality Hard Rock there was no way that this show was going to sound anything less than killer. The set is loaded with Nugent signature classics such as “Wango Tango”, “Free For All”, “Wang Dang Sweet Poon Tang” and the ultimate staple “Catch Scratch Fever” and all of them still sound as fun live today as they did when they originally made their appearance decades ago.
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UFO @ B.B. King Blues Club (9/29/2004)

Logo - UFO

Artist: U.F.O.
Venue: B.B. King Blues Club NYC
Date: 09-29-04
Opener: Healing Sixes

According to my referencing, the band UFO has not toured here in the United States in almost 9 years. Perhaps more. It was good to see them doing some dates for us as they are really considered among the more influential of the early metal forces. The band is currently supporting their latest release on SPV Records entitled “You Are Here”. This is a really rocking CD, which lends more to the sound of a band like Bad Company more than what one would expect from UFO. However, this is not a bad comparison if you ask me. The lineup has found some difficulty with this tour as originally Phil Mogg was not able to get his VISA in order, and now as result of similar issues, Pete Way (bassist) would be staying behind. In his place would be Barry Sparks, who most recently has toured with Dokken and Ted Nugent. Paul Raymond was still there out of original members while on guitar we have Vinnie Moore and on drums Jason Bonham (son of the Legendary John).
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Dokken @ Starland Ballroom (7/9/2004)

Logo - Dokken

Artist: Dokken
Venue: Starland Ballroom (Sayreville, NJ)
Opener: L.A. Guns
Label: Sanctuary Records
Date: 7/9/2004

I admit I was excited about this show for a couple of reasons. The first was the chance to see two great bands on the same bill; the second was the chance to be at Starland Ballroom once again. Combined with attending with some good buds, how could one go wrong with all these factors?

LA Guns hit the stage with a great set of some of their best numbers. Phil was in great vocal form and Guns Vet Steve Riley was as smooth as ever on the drums. No other originals remain and the band is instead joined by Roxx Gang’s Stacey Blaze and Adam Hamilton. Phil also took some time on the guitar. Phil was clearly enjoying himself as he kept prompting the NY/NJ audience to yell “fuck yeah”. He stressed how great it was to be on tour and to see everyone’s warm reception. Their set was too short if you ask me. While I enjoy drum solos, I feel Steve should not have done one and instead performed a few more tunes. I look forward to seeing a longer set from them in the future.
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