Sunday, October 28, 2012


The latest release from veteran rockers Liberty N Justice is a 26 song opus entitled The Cigar Chronicles Vol. 1 & 2. Justin Murr & JK Northrup have assembled another who’s who of melodic hard rock and put together a cavalcade of musical bliss. Top notch performances which drive the feel good release of the year.

The Cigar Chronicles is a two disc release broken into Volume 1 & Volume 2. Volume 1 follows the trend of the last 5-6 years with an array of covers, LNJ paying tribute to a wide array of artists, which include the following songs and guest performers;

1. "Ice Ice Baby" Seann Nicols (Adler's Appetite/ Tarsha) & Eddie Ojeda (Twisted Sister) originally recorded by Vanilla Ice

2. "I Can't Dance" Stevie Rachelle (TUFF) originally recorded by Genesis

3. "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" CJ Snare (Firehouse/ Rubicon Cross), George Lynch (Dokken/ Lynch Mob), & Jeff Pilson (Dokken/ Foreigner) originally recorded by U2

4. "Stayin' Alive" Kip Winger (Winger) originally recorded by The Bee Gees

5. "YMCA" Kelly Keeling (Baton Rouge & Trans Siberian Orchestra), Chris Dickens (Mission Of One) & Neil Zaza, originally recorded by The Village People

6. "Iris" Tony Harnell (TNT/ Westworld) & Alex Grossi (Quiet Riot/ Hotel Diablo)
originally recorded by The Goo Goo Dolls

7. "You're So Vain" Phil Lewis (LA Guns) & Chris Green (Rubicon Cross/ Furyon)
originally recorded by Carly Simon

8. "Queen Of The Night" Selena McVey & Brooke St. James (Tyketto)
originally recorded by Whitney Houston

9."Blame It On The Rain" Andrew Freeman (Hurricane/Offspring/30 Stones), Pete Fry (Far Cry) & Eric Ragno (Liberty N' Justice) originally recorded by Milli Vanilli

10. "Bye Bye Bye" Chas West (Bonham) & Jeff LaBar (Cinderella) originally recorded by N'Sync

11. "Dancing On The Ceiling" James Christian (House Of Lords) originally recorded by Lionel Ritchie

12."Stuck In The Middle With You" Larry Worley (FearNot), Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns N' Roses), Andy Robbins (Holy Soldier/Joe Lynn Turner), & Anthony Gravley (Windup Rocket) originally recorded by Stealers Wheel

13. "Mmmbop" Jamie Rowe (Guardian), Anthony Gravley (Windup Rocket), Roxx Hunter, originally recorded by Hanson

This compendium of classic songs is vast on the style scale, so I will only highlight what I found to be the strongest tracks. The Vanilla Ice track Ice Ice Baby rocks with a solid groove finds new life in this session.

You’re So Vain clamors for attention as it drives right up and down Sunset Blvd; its late 80’s Los Angeles feel reminds me of the glitz lights and unbelievable night life of Hollywood. The Lionel Ritchie song Dancing on the Ceiling which features the vocals of James Christian, rocks pure and simple. We can add the Hanson and Stealers Wheel covers as well. LNJ drives a musical caravan here that reminds one of the great rock n roll acts from days gone by.

The ultimate highlight from Volume 1 is the Kip Winger vocal on the acoustic version of the Bee Gees classic, Stayin Alive. Having grown up during the disco era I was very skeptical at first, but this song is one of the best of 2012. The dynamics of Wingers performance is stellar, great range and control. He brings so much soul and passion without pretense. The arrangement of the acoustic guitar is fabulous and drives it along.

Volume 2 is thirteen tracks of sheer hard rock genius. The disc is full of original compositions and if disc one has laid out a high expectation, rest assured that disc two passes it. Volume 2 is full of memorable melodies and catchy hard rock ear candy.

This is the list of the of the songs and guest performers on Volume 2

1. "Devil His Dues" Derrick LeFevre (formerly of Lillian Axe), Vic Rivera (Crunch), Michael Feighan (Liberty N' Justice/White Cross/ King James) & Barry Graul (Mercy Me/ White Cross)

2. "The Greatest" David Cagle (Liberty N' Justice), Mark Allen Lanoue (Chasing Karma/ Bilioxi), & Brad Stetler

3. "Cupids Gonna Bleed" Gunnar Nelson (Nelson), Steve Brown (Trixter) with Barry Carl (Rockapella)

4. "Under Construction" Eric Dover (Slash's Snakepit/Jelly Fish), Mark Kendall (Great White) ,Ian Keith Hafner (Jaguar Blaze) & Eric Ragno

5. "Been There Done That" Ted Poley (Danger Danger) & Richard Kendrick (Straitjacket Smile)

6. "Grace" Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart/ Rain/ Charade), Phillip Bardowell (Unruly Child/ Beach Boys) & Mark Slaughter (Slaughter)

7. "Sucker Punched" Rick Stitch (Hotel Diablo), Jerry Dixon (Warrant) & Xander Demos

8. "Broken Bones" Giancarlo Floridia (Faithsedge), Greg Martin (The Kentucky Headhunters) & Chad Stewart (Faster Pussycat)

9. "Sin" Jani Lane, Bill Leverty (Firehouse), & Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper)

10. "Give Em" A Light" Paul Shortino (King Kobra/ Quiet Riot/ Rough Cutt) & Dave Henzerling (King Kobra/Steelshine)

11. "Daddy Long Legs" Louis St August (Mass) & Tim Gaines (Stryper)

12. "Cut Me Mick" Ron Keel (Keel) & Michael Phillips (Deliverance/ The Sacrificed)

13. "Tomorrow" Terry Ilous (Great White/XYZ),Ron Wikso (Foreigner, The Storm, David Lee Roth, Richie Sambora, Cher, Gregg Rolie Band), Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline, Ian Paice, Glenn Hughes, Edge Of Forever and Eden's Curse) & PK Mitchell

additional background vocals by Richard Kendrick, Giancarlo Floridia, Phil Vincent, Michael Stover, Frankie Cleaver, Bryan Cole

The real question is where to start because there are so many excellent songs and performances. Of special note would be that this album features the vocal debut of permanent LNJ vocalist David Cagle on the song The Greatest. Having heard this effort I can see why he will be the vocalist going forward. Cagle’s smooth yet husky driving tonality fits in the LNJ mold perfectly. The song itself is pure LNJ, hooky edgy melodic and upbeat.

If you’ve heard any of the samples that LNJ have been sharing around the net the last couple of months rest assured the other tracks are by no means filler. Whether its album opener Devil His Due or the full tilt rocker Been There Done That, with a great vocal provided by Ted Poley from Danger Danger; to one of the pre-released tunes in Daddy Long Legs The Cigar Chronicles is one of the musical highpoints of 2012. I mean how do just keep gushing about how Sucker Punched rocks or Cut Me Mick slices like a razor, while Under Construction is the slow retrospective ballad that goes deep lyrically with an autobiographical bent. Grace doesn’t fall into the same category as many of the other tracks with a slightly more melancholic feel of an overcast day with rain forecast.

Another note worth mentioning is that the song Sin features the last vocal performance of Jani Lane (Warrant) before his untimely passing. One must ponder whether Jani took to heart the lyrics he was singing, the quality of performance leads to think he must have. How could he not?

Top notch production values throughout that bring out the best in the songs and the performances within. Frankly there are so many excellent tunes here to try to discuss them all is simply not possible.

The Cigar Chronicles Volumes 1 & 2 is a collection that is both enjoyable and richly deep. The work ethic is clearly on display and reminds one just how hard it is to put together a composition that is memorable. To put together so many memorable tracks is really amazing. Memo to all you air guitar players and arm swirling air drummers get ready for a hot time in the ole city tonight! This is rock n roll that uplifts and encourages without clich├ęs, CRANK IT UP!!

9 axes

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