Thursday, November 6, 2008

New York City's Rockin' Lizards Excavate Gems From Hard Rock's Past On 'Archeology'

The Lizards
Hyperspace Records

Review by Nightwatcher

Throughout the first 4 studio albums released by New York City's hard rockin' The Lizards, the band always has shown, beyond the resemblance as of late to a bluesy Deep Purple/70's Rainbow mixed with The Allman Brothers style, an affinity with the more obscure, underground type bands such as Sir Lord Baltimore (whose vocalist John Garner helmed the vocal spot on their first two studio efforts). It's been that balance of the familiar and obscure which has given the band an edge, sonic wise and put them near the top of the pack in the neo classic rock heap.

So it really comes as no surprise that when they decided to record a covers album, it would contain known classics as well as ones which are less discovered by the majority of the hard rock fan base. Featuring 8 tracks, the band tears through more well known fare such as Free's "Fire And Water," The Babys' "Head First" and Uriah Heep's "The Wizard" along with jewels like Stray Dog's "Tramp," "Boomerang's "Juke It" and Detective's "One More Heartache," all delivered with equal reverence and aplomb. There are also versions of John Lee Hooker and Humble Pie, but instead of recording the obvious, they've wisely chosen the lesser known "I'm Mad" and "Thunderbox" respectively.

I must point out that typically, I'm no fan of such tribute/cover albums, as they've long ago worn out their welcome and novelty value. However, The Lizards have managed to transcend this tired genre, infusing a passion into the performances and giving them a new life of their own.

Vocalist Mike DiMeo (Riot/Masterplan) demonstrates once again why he's widely regarded one of the finest in the hard rock/metal scene, while the band, which if one isn't familiar, consists of ex Rainbow/Black Sabbath/Blue Oyster Cult drummer Bobby Rondinelli, bassist extraordinaire Randy Pratt (also currently harp player for the reunited Cactus) and guitarist Patrick Klein, is extremely tight throughout, raising this far above the usual covers projects which many bands fall back on when in a creative lull. Currently at work on the finishing touches to the soon to be released studio effort "Reptilicus Maximus," this is a band riding high creatively, so that's not what this is.

What it is, according to bassist Pratt, is a "is a love letter to our youth," a generous helping of blues rock heaviness which is sure to please any fan of the era. Consistent throughout, even if you don't normally care for such projects this is one which you can pick up without hesitation. 8/10

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