Keel – Streets Of Rock & Roll (2010, Frontiers Records)
- Streets Of Rock & Roll
- Hit The Ground Running
- Come Hell Or High Water
- Push & Pull
- Does Anybody Believe
- No More Lonely Nights
- The Devil May Care (But I Don’t)
- Lookin’ For A Good Time
- Gimme That
- Hold Steady
- Brothers In Blood
Ron Keel – Lead Vocals & Guitars
Marc Ferrari – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Bryan Jay – Lead Guitars & Vocals
Geno Arce – Bass & Vocals
Dwain Miller – Drums & Vocals
Producers: Pat Regan with Paul Shortino (Lead vocal tracks only)
Total Time = 50:18
It’s been a long time since we have had a new Keel record, 12 years have passed since the band’s brief reunion in 1998 for the VI: BACK IN ACTION album. That album was just a bunch of unreleased material, outtakes and demos that the band got together to finish off and release…..not what I call a full reunion. You have to go all the way back to 1989 to the LARGER THAN LIVE album to find new studio material and that was 21 years ago. You would think that the reunion trend started around the KISS reunion in 1996 would have brought a Keel reunion, everyone else got back together! The good news is that the band is together now to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of THE RIGHT TO ROCK album and Keel has given us diehard fans a brand new studio album.
So what does Keel 2010 have to offer? A whole helluva lot actually! First off, almost the entire band is back together, the only member not participating is original bassist Kenny Chaisson, replaced by Geno Arce who has played consistently with Ron Keel in Iron Horse. You’ve got the double guitar attack of Brian Jay and Marc Ferrari back together in top form and drummer Dwain Miller back on the skins. Of course, the man himself, Ron Keel is back on the mic (it would be hard to replace the guy that the band is named after!) and he sounds better than ever. That’s no surprise because Ron has been busy with his own career post-Keel with bands like Fair Game, Iron Horse and his solo career which has taken him into the Country Music world as Ronnie Lee Keel. As far as the new album goes, the band has said that they would create an album that didn’t stray too far from their ’80s Hard Rock roots and retain all the classic Keel elements…..that’s the formula that helped them sell over 2 million records over their career.
Opening the album is the title track and it’s a clear sign that Keel is following the big sound that they had back in the ’80s, ‘Streets Of Rock & Roll’ is a melodic Hard Rock song with a catchy chorus and big background harmonies. Add the guitar solos in and this throwback starts the record off in style. ‘Hit The Ground Runnin’ has more of a Metal guitar sound from Ferrari and Jay, the main riff almost has a slower Judas Priest quality to it but the song as a whole is another melodic Hard Rock affair with another set of lush harmonies around the chorus. Another hard rocker comes with ‘Come Hell Or High Water’ with fast paced drums and solid riffs but the title and chorus have that “Gene Simmons leftover” feel to it. The chorus sounds like a Gene sung KISS track from the ’80s and the thing that saves the song from being Gene throwaway is the excellent guitar work, that is what gives the track it’s attitude and drive.
Moving back into the ’80s style is the AOR/Melodic Rock of ‘Push & Pull’, my favorite of the album. Very catchy song, great melodic riff with a solid hook, if a band like Bon Jovi recorded something like this nowadays it would be a big hit. Keel have a good first single here with ‘Push & Pull’, I hope they release it. Every album needs a ballad and Keel doesn’t disappoint with the beautiful ‘Does Anybody Believe’, a track that will be a concert fave because it’s made for the crowd’s lighters…..or maybe cell phones now that we’re in the 2000s! The song has an acoustic base but the guitars come in and really add some power to it while Ron Keel lays down a solid vocal. This is another favorite for me, a nod to power ballads of 20-25 years ago for sure. The band races back with more solid Hard Rock songs with the uptempo ‘No More Lonely Nights’ and ‘The Devil May Care (But I Don’t)’. ‘No More Lonely Nights’ has some serious guitar work that slices right threw the speakers and the song builds right into the powerful harmonized chorus, Ron really kills it vocally as this is one of his best performances. ‘The Devil May Care’ has an AC/DC sound to it on the guitar tones and main riff with Ron choosing to go a little higher in his delivery, that just shows the guy’s singing voice has only gotten stronger and more versatile as the years have gone by.
‘Lookin’ For A Good Time’ is your typical party rocker but it’s a little subdued and has a little resemblance to the title track. The bite comes back with the gritty guitar groove of ‘Gimme That’, a song that has Whitesnake written all over it. It’s very ‘Still Of The Night’ with it’s start and stop shythm but I’d say this song is a little more stripped down than the Whitesnake song, not as glossy. ‘Hold Steady’ is just that…..steady it’s a good solid track that fills the album in nicely with another melodic rocker. Another standout ’80s arena rocker is ‘Live’ and it’s another favorite of mine. Another melodic anthem with plenty of guitars, harmonies and even some cowbell! You put this on Bon Jovi’s last record and you have a hit, maybe Jon & Ritchie should get Ron Keel to write a few tunes for them? ‘Live’ has “hit single” written all over it! Unfotunately every album must have a last song and ‘Brothers in Blood’ ends this album with a power Hard Rock style. What amazes me on this song, and the album in general, is how easily Ron can move his singing voice from style to style. On ‘Brothers In Blood’, he goes from melodic, to the higher notes, to a grittier/deeper sound and he really puts in a memorable performance. That’s how the entire album is vocally and on the guitar.
I have every album Keel has released and it’s easy to say that STREETS OF ROCK & ROLL fits in with classic albums like THE RIGHT TO ROCK (1985), THE FINAL FRONTIER (1986) or KEEL (1987). This album is diverse, powerful and melodic all in one. The songwriting is top notch and the vocals and guitars are Hard Rock perfection while the rhythm section is solid. This a true band performance that fires on all cylinders. A lot of times you get these ’80s bands reuniting and they say they want to record a great album so their reunion is not a nostalgia trip, Keel has gone a step further and crafted an album so good that it’s like they’ve never been away. This is definitely one of the top releases of the year and, if you’re a fan of Keel or ’80s Hard Rock, you should definitely pick up this CD.
I like every song on the album, there really isn’t a weak link of filler track. if I had to pick just five songs they would be ‘Streets Of Rock & Roll’, ‘Push & Pull’, ‘Does Anybody Believe’, ‘No More Lonely Nights’ and ‘Live’.