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Keyed Up review
Virtuoso and legendary keyboard player (and all round nice guy) Don has played with pretty much everyone worth playing with, and is currently touring with Deep Purple. This new solo album (his fourth) draws from a range of influences from his past. And while he has a solid band, there are a few notable guests, which includes one of the last pieces of work by the late Gary Moore.
The album opens with ’3 In The Morning’, with some more than decent guitar work and some searing vocals from Carl Sentance. ‘Beat The Retreat’ is a slower chunkier number. Then there’s the jazzy and equally progressive ‘Blue Rondo A La Turk’ (the track Don played on his first radio performance, aged 14, and what The Nice’s ‘Rondo’ was based around). Don’s keyboards stand out here, and work well with the rhythms from bassist Laurence Cottle and drummer Darrin Mooney. ‘Solomon’s Song’ starts slowly and builds well, another solid number.
The album mixes jazz, rock and blues, and some instrumental passages allow some rightly deserved self-indulgence from Don; whether intricate playing or use of effects, it’s all enjoyable. One of the highlights of the album is a remake of Rainbow’s ‘Difficult To Cure’; while it lacks Blackmore’s finesse the guitar sounds fantastic and Don’s keyboards are bright. The programmed orchestral break is a good touch too.‘Mini Suite’ sees some good guitar interplay, before switching to piano. There are touches of Gary Moore here, and more on ‘Adagio’, here his guitar work stands out. Other guests include Graham Bonnet, Simon McBride, Alex Meadows and Tim Goodyear. I’ve always loved Don’s work and this is no different.
Get Ready To Rock
All Out review
A list of all the albums and bands that keyboard wizard Don Airey has cast his spell over would probably fill this entire review, however anyone who has spent time recording or performing with Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, UFO, Gary Moore and of course his current residence Deep Purple is obviously a musician of the highest calibre and deserving of the utmost respect. It may be six long years since the last Deep Purple studio effort, however Don last released a solo disc in 2008, with ‘Light In The Sky’ being an album which allowed him to demonstrate his undoubted keyboard prowess, while still delivering some tasty prog tinged classic rock. Picking from where that disc left off ‘All Out’ continues in the same bombastic style, with four keyboard and Hammond heavy instrumentals working seamlessly alongside six vocal tracks. Providing the voice on those songs is Carl Sentance, who previously sang with Krokus, Persian Risk and The Geezer Butler Band and who actually sounds remarkably similar to the singer in Don’s main musical outlet, Ian Gillan and that in its self should let you know that Sentence is a charismatic and powerful vocalist who adds hugely to the album. Making up the rest of the band are guitarist Rob Harris (Jamiroquai), drummer Darrin Mooney (Primal Scream) and respected jazz bassist Laurence Cottle. However not content with piecing together a tight and impressive band, Airey has also enlisted the help of guitarists Joe Bonamassa, Bernie Marsden and his brother Keith Airey, who all show up at various points throughout the album.
For someone who has covered such a variety of acts, Airey concentrates on a sound not so far removed from Deep Purple, although early Uriah Heep and Emerson Lake and Palmer are also brought to mind. That said, if you know what works, why steer too far from that course? As expected Airey takes centre stage for the majority of the songs and especially on the instrumentals, with the likes of ‘Estancia’ really just being a glorious excuse for him to squeeze every last note out of his keyboards with flurries blurring past at an amazing rate of knots. One time Whitesnake man Marsden adds his bluesy tones to ‘The Way I Feel Inside’ and ‘Running From The Shadows’, where he and Airey combine to great effect, even if the keyboards do steal the show in the latter song with a gloriously melodic and restrained solo. Bonamassa on the other hand leaves no doubt who is playing the licks on ‘People In Your Head’, as he makes his six string sing with style and grace. Other standouts come in the shape of the beautifully paced slower number ‘Long Road’ where Keith Airey shines brightly trading soaring lead guitar with his brother’s tasteful key’s work and the epic closing number ‘Tobruk’, which once more sees Don at his most energetic best which is easily matched by the growling guitar of Harris and a stunning vocal performance from Sentance.
‘All Out’ is a classy beast where old school rock values are encouraged to flex their muscles without quite ever losing focus and for anyone into seventies rock is an album worth going ‘All Out’ for.
A Light in The Sky review
DON AIREY is to keyboards what JOE SATRIANI is to guitars. The man is a colossus in the Rock genre having starred in just about every Hard Rock band that’s going. Yeah he was the chap that played the haunting boom salvo keyboard introduction to OZZY’S ‘’Mr Crowley’’; the guy who put the buff and polish on the ever so small release ‘’1987’’ by an upcoming band WHITESNAKE and since 2002 he’s taken up the post of keyboardist with DEEP PURPLE replacing another legend Jon Lord.
A trip through the back catalogue of Mr Airey ranges from BRUCE DICKINSON to BLACK SABBATH to RAINBOW. There’s no doubt that this man has a very fine pedigree.
And onto this solo release which showcases his extraordinary keyboard talents to the max. Mixing his rich heritage and influences from a long and varied career AIREY matches PURPLE/ RAINBOW Hard Rock on ‘’Shooting Star’’, ‘’Endless Night’’, ‘’Love You To Much’’ and the driving riffing of ‘’A Light In The Sky Pt. 2’’ to Progressive leanings carried out on the ivory via pieces like ‘’Space Troll Patrol’’ and ‘’Andromeda M31’’ There’s even some quirky Jazz Fusion on the bizarre ‘’Rocket To The Moon’’ which might get in the way of the Rock nonetheless gives AIREY room to stretch out.
With the likes of Danny Bowes from THUNDER and Carl Sentence from KROKUS throwing in their talents this record is a blissful reminder of a bygone era of classic Hard Rock not diluted by fashion or fads.
The Metal Observer
As a fan of concept albums, I almost passed on this one based on previous reviews. Now I’m glad I did not. There is some adventurous stuff in here. It is a departure from Airey’s metal/classic rock roots, but the music is still dynamic and spirited. If Alan Parson Project circa Eye in the Sky met Emerson, Lake and Powell this would be the offspring. The music is sweeping, cinematic, and straddles the line between neo prog and pop. I’m really enjoying this release, and encourage others who like prog with flourishes of majestic pomp to give it a shot.