The Quireboys – Twisted Love (2016)

Quireboys_TwistedLove4 out of 5 Stars!

In 2016, Britain’s The Quireboys released a brand new collection of tracks, and in my opinion, it was definitely a “return to form” after the band’s previous album, St. Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul, which I found a bit of a disappointment.

On Twisted Love, however, vocalist Spike (a Rod Stewart soundalike) and his bandmates once again conjure up ghostly soundscapes reminiscent of Faces (and Rolling Stones), with a ton of catchy riffs, hummable melodies, and up-tempo rhythms. From “Torn And Frayed,” “Shotgun Way,” and “Gracie B (Part 2),” to “Killing Time,” “Breaking Rocks,” “Life’s A Bitch,” and the bouncy title track that reminds me of an updated version of “Brother Louie” by Stories, this is ’70s-style party rock at its finest.

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Quandary – Ready To Fail (2010)

Quandary_ReadyFail4.5 out of 5 Stars!

In the world of music, one sad fact remains consistent through the years—way too many bands disappear before their time. Whether it be record company interference or the general lack of publicity, personality clashes between band members or personal hardships, financial burdens, or a band playing the wrong trend of music during the wrong era, leading to an apathetic audience, it’s a shameful state of affairs when a group of individuals with extraordinary talents are forced to disband after one meager release.

One such group that fell victim to this sad fact is Quandary, an exciting band from Australia that, on its single album, successfully straddled the line between Prog-Rock and Prog-Metal before unfortunately breaking up soon after the album’s release. Also, one can’t help but wonder if the band sealed its own fate when electing to christen its debut album with the title Ready to Fail.

Regardless, this album should appeal to Prog-Rock fans like myself who savor ultra-heavy bits (mostly when it comes to guitar tones) tossed into their melodic and highly intricate Prog. Indeed, this band was gifted at shifting moods at a moment’s notice, which only increased the excitement factor. Most of the instrumental sections on this album are nothing short of awesome. Imagine the often-complicated instrumental passages of a band such as Yes or Gentle Giant played in metal style, with wildly wicked guitar and keyboard leads atop swirling and whirling background textures and thundering percussion. During many of these passages (such as in the mid-section of the track “Illusion Of Progress” or on the two instrumentals “Umbra” and “Penumbra”), the band features impressive dual guitar/keyboard solos (quite similar in sound and style to Ian Crichton/Jim Gilmour of Saga fame), along with complex arrangements and snappy, jaw-dropping changes in tempo that would make each track seem quite comfortable on albums by Thought Chamber, Distorted Harmony, or Haken.

The band was also quite adept at creating some intricate and often-catchy vocal melodies, as on the tracks “Waiting For Change,” “Disconnect,” and “Stepping Stones,” which occasionally remind me of bands such as Aztec Jade, Proteo, or Dreamscape.

And to show the depth of Quandary’s creativity, the two closing tracks (“Cloud Shapes”—an instrumental at more than twelve minutes in length—and the aforementioned “Stepping Stones”—a vocal track surpassing the twenty-minute mark) are both exquisite examples of what this group could achieve when given the freedom to fully explore. Both tracks contain magnificent instrumentation (as usual), delightful shifts in mood and tempo, and impressively demanding and diverse arrangements that would easily rival any of the band’s most seasoned contemporaries. It’s difficult to believe this is only a debut album and not a release by a band that had been recording for decades.

Therefore, fans of groups such as Circus Maximus, Dream Theater, and Andromeda—or perhaps Vox Tempus, Sphere of Souls, and Altura (three other talented, short-lived groups with only single albums) will likely enjoy this release.

Yes, with each of the four musicians in Quandary being undeniable masters of their individual instruments, it’s a shame this talented bunch didn’t last longer to deliver additional material. A damned shame! In my eyes, if any band could be given a chance to reform with substantial financial backing to support it, Quandary would be the perfect candidate. (Thankfully most of the band members went on to form Caligula’s Horse, another terrific Prog-Rock group, so all is not lost.)

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Quiet Riot – QR (1988)

QuietRiot_QR4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Despite this band releasing a cover version of the Slade classic “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” I admit to never being “crazee” about Quiet Riot myself. I originally thought of them as simply the former group of guitar legend Randy Rhodes (R.I.P.). Then, years later, once they snagged a new guitarist (Carlos Cavazo) and released their best-selling Metal Health album, I (like many people, I’m sure) barely suffered through their horrible overexposure (thanks—NOT—to MTV, where the band’s videos aired continuously, or so it seemed). Needless to say, I quickly grew sick of Quiet Riot and (especially) the obnoxious antics of lead vocalist Kevin DeBrow. I wrote off the group as being one of the most annoying “hair bands” and never gave them too much thought afterward.


In 1988, I learned that Kevin DeBrow left the group, to be replaced by the mighty Paul Shortino (he of Spinal Tap movie fame and formerly of the band Rough Cutt). Please know, I was a fan of Rough Cutt’s, and was saddened when that band broke up after only two albums. To me, Paul Shortino was a special, under-appreciated vocalist, like a merging of David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes in one set of pipes, so I was quite eager to hear any album on which he appeared, even if it was a new album by Quiet Riot. Then I learned that the talented keyboardist Jimmy Waldo (New England/Alcatrazz) was also included on this platter as an “unofficial” member, which only added to my curiosity. Would Quiet Riot alter its sound and style with the new members, or will it be the same annoying “hair band” playing mindless metal?

Thankfully, the former proved accurate; the band did indeed alter its style for this release (although some could argue that the “mindless” word still applied, but that’s another fun issue). Anyway, gone were the Slade-like and often repetitive party anthems of the past, and instead, this revamped version of Quiet Riot (with Shortino’s powerful and magnificent pipes and Waldo’s organ tones) sounded almost like an Americanized Deep Purple or Whitesnake. Although many long-time Quiet Riot fans (or Kevin DuBrow lovers) deemed this album a complete failure, I loved it. Shortino shows off his spectacular vocal gymnastics, belting out each track like a seasoned pro. The gruffness of his voice, the way he easily dances through his wide range to offer up appropriate growls, the occasional ear-piercing scream, and just about everything “blues-related” in between—the style he delivered in Rough Cutt—is here on full display.

The album’s opening track, “Stay With Me Tonight,” starts with a Jon Lord-like Hammond organ, which obviously brings Deep Purple to mind. And Shortino uses his full range here, ending the track with his best “David Coverdale sounding both seductive and lecherous while singing about ‘satin sheets and a satin dress'” impersonation. Silly “crotch-rock,” certainly, but on this track Shortino’s style, range, and performance immediately proves just how much better he was in the lead-singer role than his predecessor. Carlos Cavazo shows his full talent with some great guitar licks, while the rhythm section of longtime drummer Frankie Banali and new bassist Sean McNabb prove themselves a solid force.

Hard-rocking tracks such as “Callin’ the Shots,” “Coppin’ a Feel,” “Empty Promises,” and “King of the Hill” (many of them in the Deep Purple/Whitesnake mode) seem perfectly balanced among several ballads (“Run to You” and “Don’t Wanna Be Your Fool”—both pure Whitesnake) or the more melodic “I’m Fallin’.” Another band, Legs Diamond, also springs to mind during the driving rocker “In a Rush” and during a few of the other songs. I find this entire collection of tracks quite enjoyable overall and still listen to this album on a regular basis.

So despite what some other critics may claim, this is far from being a bad record. Indeed, it’s (in my eyes) the best platter Quiet Riot ever produced (although I’m not sure if that says a whole lot). Anyway, I would have loved for this version of the band to have lasted much longer to issue additional material. Instead, Quiet Riot fell apart after this album and eventually reappeared half a decade later with Kevin DuBrow once again at the helm (at which time I promptly lost all interest again). So to me, this single album with Paul Shortino is Quiet Riot’s forgotten gem. Fans of Deep Purple, Legs Diamond, Whitesnake, and Rough Cutt will likely discover much to enjoy here.

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Quidam – An Overview

QuidamAlbums In My Collection

– Alone Together
– Quidam
– Saiko
– Sny Aniolów (aka. Angel’s Dream)
– SurREvival
– The Time Beneath The Sky (aka. Pod Niebem Czas)

An Overview

A band from Poland, one of my favorites from that country, with two distinct eras—prior to 2003, they boasted a terrific female vocalist, and afterward (and to the present day) feature(d) an enjoyable male vocalist. Each era has lyrics sung in both Polish and English.

Both eras are also quite superb musically, with songs/arrangements that run the gamut of the Neo-Prog-Rock style, featuring luscious guitars (electric and acoustic), keyboards, extra percussion instruments, even flute, usually along with intricate and wonderfully (at times) mellow and absorbing atmospherics. On each of the albums I own, the production quality is near perfect. So depending on one’s taste, you might find either (or both phases) of the band entertaining, as do I.

Regardless which of the band’s eras you might prefer (female vs. male lead vocals, or whether its Polish or English in which they sing), when it comes to the music itself, fans of both modern and legendary groups such as Millenium, Galahad, Moonrise, Jethro Tull, Introitus, Marillion (especially on releases with the male vocalist, only not as drab), and even latter-day Pink Floyd will probably savor something offered by this terrific band.

And a special note: on the album The Time Beneath The Sky (aka. Pod Niebem Czas), the band’s rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter” is hauntingly terrific…just the way I had always imagined the song SHOULD sound, especially with the female vocals.

Overall, an excellent band!

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Quorum – Another World (2015)

Quorum_AnotherWorld4.5 out of 5 Stars!

In a single word…impressive.

Granted, being American, I’m not a huge fan of foreign-language-sung lyrics, especially those in Russian. Sorry to say, but to me, the Russian language is often too harsh-sounding, and frankly, not all that “musical” to my ears. No offense to any Russian-speaking individuals, but usually I would rate an album down at least half a star for being “not as melodic” lyrically.

But in this case, what IS melodic is Quorum’s actual songs and delivery. Damn, this band knows how to play with feeling, with intensity, and with constant melody in mind. Sure, the lyrics are sung in Russian, but unlike many other groups that have elected to deliver music in that language, the vocal passages here are NOT in any way harsh-sounding, but overall melodic. Quite so! Therefore, bravo to the band for softening the harsh consonants and making everything sound a tad softer, seemingly closer to—well—”French.” Again, no offense to any Russian-speaking folks…just my opinion.

For any fans of bands such as Genesis, IQ, Yes, Pallas, Pink Floyd, The Flower Kings, Unitopia, etc., this album (as well as the band’s previous release from 2011) will be nothing short of a welcome addition to their music collections. Melodies and Prog-Rock majesty abound, with complicated instrumental arrangements, numerous time changes, heavy keyboards and soaring guitars, and wicked percussion accompaniments—and that’s all included in the twelve-minute track “Another World,” for pity’s sake. With several additional tracks often pastoral one moment, then equally slamming the next, the band does not let any listener fall into a hypnotic haze for too long throughout this collection of songs, offering instead intense shifts in mood and melody without warning, equally rivaling the best work of the aforementioned bands in the Prog-Rock genre.

Quorum is a more recent discovery for me, and I’m so happy I happened to stumble upon the band. It’s certainly a talented lot, especially when it comes to the Prog-Rock genre, and after numerous (and enjoyable) hearings of this album, I pray the band continues on for many years to come. It’s inventive material overall, with the musicians being masters at their crafts and obviously having an ear for melody, so the band (if Quorum does continue to release material in future years) is destined to become one of the leaders in the genre. Mark my words!

Fans of Prog-Rock, please join me in celebrating this more recent additional to the ranks of impressive bands delving into the “never too saturated for my taste” genre.


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Quireboys – A Bit of What You Fancy (1990)

Quireboys_Fancy5 out of 5 Stars!

For anyone who, like me, yearned for a Faces (or a Rod Stewart returning to the sound of his first albums) comeback, this is the ultimate album to grant that wish.

When I first heard the intro to the opening track “7 O’Clock,” I thought I had stepped back in time to the early 1970s. This band kicks major ass, not only replicating the sound of The Faces (featuring Rod Stewart) but also simultaneously whisking the production quality into the ’90s. Each and every track on this album brought to mind The Faces, but also gave a healthy helping of The Rolling Stones, Mott The Hoople, and any of the other classic rock ‘n’ roll bands of the early ’70s, all with a slamming dose of The Faces illuminating the proceedings.

Many singles resulted from this album: the aforementioned “7 O’Clock,” “There She Goes Again,” “Hey You,” “Whippin’ Boy,” etc., and even many of the non-single tracks could have been singles in their own right, that’s how catchy and memorable they are, with my favorite being the closer “Take Me Home.” And each of these tunes matches the classic “party rock ‘n’ roll” quality of the best tracks from The Faces.

A grand achievement, and this is a band that has (for the most part) consistently delivered the same quality goods on most of its subsequent albums, albeit with some personal changes through the years, often rivaling in quality the same kick-ass rock style as appears on albums such as A Nod Is As Good As A Wink, or any of the higher-quality Rod Stewart albums such as Every Picture Tells A Story or Never A Dull Moment. And despite the various personal changes, through it all, the voice of Spike, or “Jonathan Gray”–the “Rod Stewart for the next generation”–delivered in spades.

To any fan of The Faces, this is the album to grab ASAP, and all of the Quireboys’s albums will also likely please your taste buds. The Faces sound (or now, the Quireboy’s sound) lives on. I adore this band and can’t wait for each new release.

Important additional note: Anyone interested in this album/band should also search under titles by “The London Quireboys.” Depending on which side of the Atlantic Ocean you live, the name of the band alternates between the “London” version of its name and the one without.


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The Quest – Do You Believe? (1993)

Quest_DoYouBelieve4.5 out of 5 Stars!

This release is a fine collection of melodic rock tunes with slices of progressive rock tossed in for good measure.  Fans of Saga or Magnum, and perhaps, to a lesser extent, even Styx (the earlier, non-commercial/more progressive version of this band) would likely appreciate this.

The Quest actually reminds me of Saga in more than a few places, although with a more palatable singer…catchy melodies with some intricate arrangements, atmospheric keyboards, and grand harmony vocals.

This is an extremely overlooked band that I wish had put of more material. They certainly have (had?) the potential.

So if you’re a fan of melodic/AOR rock who is craving more “depth” to the instrumentation passages of each song, then this one may be for you.

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Queen – Queen II (1974)

Queen25 out of 5 Stars!

This is the DEFINITIVE Queen! I’m sure many people will disagree, but in my opinion, the band produced nothing more “forward thinking” and breathtaking and inspirational than this in the “hard rock” arena, especially considering the era in which it was released.

Sure, A Night At The Opera sold many more units and is considered by the majority The Masterpiece by Queen. But that album (as generally solid as it was) is typically rated “brilliant” based on one or two truly magnificent tracks (such as the outstanding classic “Bohemian Rhapsody”), whereas, to me, Queen II from start to finish, whether starting on the “Black Side” or the “White Side,” is the true (and often overlooked) MAGNUM OPUS of this group.

Considering that I often skip over tracks on every Queen album except this one says a whole lot. I can even tolerate “Funny How Love Is” (usually rated as the worst track by many reviewers), unlike Queen tracks of later years, since the song truly seems to somehow “fit” among the remainder of the album, probably since I’ve worn down the grooves of the various vinyl versions I went through since the ’70s and I would be lost without it—no pun intended, but that song is “grooved” in my memory with the remainder of the track listings, and the album would seem empty without it.

Anyway, with the linked “Procession” and “Father to Son,” “White Queen (As It Began),” “Some Day, One Day,” and “The Loser in the End,” the album’s “White Side” is nothing short of stunning, whereas the album’s more bombastic “Black Side,” leading off with the jaw-dropping “Ogre Battle,” which flawlessly flows into the trio of Prog-oriented tracks “The Fairy Feller’s Master-Stroke,” “Nevermore,” and the gigantic, awesome “The March of the Black Queen,” plus the aforementioned “Funny How Love Is” along with “Seven Seas of Rhye,” left a profound and lasting impression on me back in 1974, and even today, the layered guitars, the driving rhythms, the piano flourishes, and (of course) the grand and spellbinding vocals send chills of excitement up my spine. Not only did Queen’s songwriting and lyrical content take a giant leap forward from its debut album, but the cover art featured probably the most enduring image of the band and perfectly matched the majestic content of the music.

Therefore, Queen II is GENIUS, I tell you, no doubt about it—pure and unadulterated (and underrated) GENIUS!


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