Dec 19, 2009

Lost Angels: Eric Dover, John Corabi, Troy Patrick Farrell, Muddy Stardust rocks Dimapur

A totally happening bunch of ear-splitting loudness and pure white hot hard rock, Eric Dover, Muddy Stardust, Troy Patrick Farrell and John Corabi tonight left more than a memorable international beat for Dimapur – they also left hundreds of pairs of ringing eardrums that won’t be hearing the dinner bell very clearly for some time.

Performing under a pun of their home city, Los Angeles as ‘Lost Angels,’ the four rockers rocked and like any true Yankee rock tribesmen would, they seemed to be having a good time on their own for an initially somewhat clueless audience new to their brand of rock – loud blues-driven southern rock. Interestingly – and completely new to Nagaland’s crowd – the band played a purely American-size standard concert set – barely nine songs. (For a people used to the involuntary habit of expecting hundreds of songs in one concert, it was a shocker to most of the fans at the DDSC stadium.)

As usual, Dover lived up to his reputation as one of America’s briskest frontmen (after all, how many people get to front rock icons like Alice Cooper or get approval to play led guitars alongside a nasty-fingered guy named Slash?). And Troy Patrick Farrell was, as usual, fatigueless as a lion would – flailing away and endangering his drum kit with the threat of total extinction after three songs. And Muddy Stardust – in amazing vocal form – clearly caught Dimapur’s moody crowd wondering if he was a vocalist or a bassist. Then, former Motley Crue’s vocalist John Corabi made a worthy side man for Dover as he traded riffs with Dover on high-ends such as “It’s so easy” and “Under Pressure.”

After a totally meaty set from Kohima rockers OFF and a very intellectually-heavy sounding Eximious, the Los Angels switched on the evening with a rehash of the classic ‘Baba O’ Riley’ (or more popularly ‘Teenage Wasteland’ by The Who/Pete Townshend). The high-energy classic proved a worthy opener for a hard crowd like Dimapur, (in)famous for its unpredictable mood-swings.

After introducing the crowd to real time American hard blues rock, the band swooped in with the teasing ‘It’s so easy’ originally a song by former Gunner Duff McKagan and West Arkeen. (The song came to fore when Guns N’ Roses used it on their 1987 debut Appetite for Destruction.)

Then came Aerosmith’s first single on the legendary ‘Toys in The attic’ album, ‘Sweet Emotion.’ At this point, the crowd became a bit restive and murmurs floated out loudly – why aren’t they playing Bon Jovi or Guns N’ Roses or Firehouse and stuff? Or Queen’s ‘I want to Break Free’ and so on. No matter how blistering hard or loud, the tinge of hard rock set being played by Lost Angeles apparently was lost on the crowd.

The coaxing and encouragement of the charismatic Eric Dover wasn’t having that much affect as would western crowds or performers usually have responded with. At this point the confusion softened when the group launched into a rock version of Michael Jackson’s smash ‘Billie Jean.’ The discoish rocker began to thaw and the people began slipping into the fun-mode.

Then came an endearing wallop of Nagamese from Eric Dover: “Ami Bishi Bhaal Paishe!” ( 'I like it very much' or so) he shouted to the crowd. His heavily-American accent reduced whatever bit of Nagamese was left in “Ami Bishi Bhaal Paishe.” The crowd failed to get over with the heavy accent and the Nagamese liner went un-understood. Later, very gradually and slowly, did it dawn what Dover had actually said! And the crowd cheered back in equally colourful Nagamese when Dover repeated it later!

As the Dimapur crowd gradually began having fun even to songs they were not familiar with, LA cranked up on the 1981 Queen-David Bowie collaboration, “Under pressure.” It was apparent that the band was getting some vibes that the crowd was a bit clueless on the set being played and the Lost Angels were a bit under pressure too. “Troy told us Dimapur was totally crazy so let us see some of that craziness, Dimapur!” Corabi shouted. Thankfully, the crowd picked up the mood and the fun magic spread slowly.

And just in time for ‘Radar Love,’ the hit by White Lion (originally by Golden Earrings) had the crowd on their feet. The crescendo began it accent by the time the LA Guns number ‘Ballade of Jayne’ and Motley Crue’s ‘Home Sweet Home’ came. Clearly, they are international performers for a good reason – they were playing impromptu and treading, diving along with the sound. Eric’s playing was most commendable – his solos bordered on sheer recklessness yet in complete control as he left his own guitar renditions on the songs he probably didn't practice on much.

Then came ‘Sweet Child of Mine.’ Finally, a song Dimapur can sing along without confusion! The Guns N’ Roses had the crowd on their toes and throats as the night pounded away in renewed energy. The loudness followed with ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ of Bob Dylan. The crowd was loudly happy finally.

The LA kept up the tempo with ‘30 days in the Hole,’ the radio hit by 1970s British supergroup Humble Pie. After the heavy barrage of deafening and high-energy ear-blistering hard rock, the band said goodnight. And suddenly, thick silence and confusion settled on the crowd. So soon? And just that few songs? The crowd launched in unison demanding an encore. They got it.

Photograph by Caisii Mao

Dec 14, 2009

Big, Bigger, Biggest: Mr. Big finds India Loudest

And so it shall be said for a good long time to come. On Wednesday evening, possibly the biggest celebration ever in mind in the history of entertainment in Nagaland shook a pitifully gasping Dimapur District Sports Council stadium. Eric Martin, Paul Gilbert, Billy Sheehan and Pat Torpey simply came to be with Nagaland, and just plain took her heart away.

At the Dimapur stadium, American rockers Mr. Big led a teeming, sweating and fervent mass of humanity into the good old hard rock tradition of good noise. Organized by events group Finishing Touches, Mr. Big’s Dimapur show heard a motley set of selective hits even the most remote house in Nagaland has a cassette of. And fans rejoiced.

For good reasons, not a number from their recent ugly offerings Get Over It (2000) and Actual Size (2001) was played. Not that the multitude would have wanted them. Thankfully for fans like Nagaland’s who have a taste for everything that is being played by everybody, Mr. Big did not disappoint. Numbers from that terribly indigestible Mr. Big (1989) debut album to the international chart-busting Lean Into It (1991) and Bump Ahead (1993) albums were dished out to the gathered hungry. And the fans devoured it all up, gratefully. And notwithstanding Nagaland Pollution Control Board’s recent circular on noise pollution, fans competed to beat one another’s decibels.

Mr. Big inaugurated the celebrations with their 1991 first hit single Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy. Also called The Electric Drill Song, Mr.Big educated the fans in the judicious use of technology to make life meaningful – Eric Martin fished out an electric scrapper to wring out notes from Billy Sheehan and Paul Gilbert’s poor guitars. The stadium rejoiced. From there, a slew of singles came: Take Cover, Had Enough, Fool Us Today (from the Japan hit Live at Budokan). Then hits including the one song every budding Naga guitarist has had to learn to play, came – Green Tinted Sixties Mind (from Lean Into It).

The billboard #33 hit had the crowd rejoicing and right into Alive and Kicking. Interestingly, here, a momentary lapse of Paul Gilbert’s fingers during the bridging solo in Alive and Kicking, proved that even guitar gods like Gilbert, are humans too – he played a set of progressing notes right into another deviant key. The Honorary Dean of Japan’s GIT institute realized the off-tune and returned home to the key the rest of Mr. Big was playing.

And that was before the band began one of the two Mr. Big song even Naga mothers have hummed at least once. After Green Tinted Sixties Mind, Eric Martin teased the already ignited stadium: “Are there any girls here? Let’s hear the girls!” To the terror of the males, a seriously keening, shrill and ear-blistering thunder of female sounds emerged from the women in the stadium! With that, Mr. Big’s Just Take My Heart Away took away the hearts of Nagaland’s gathered faithful that evening. Dimapur stadium was the lead vocalist on this one.

Singles and hits came and went. Temperamental, Price You Gotta Pay and Take a Walk. The stadium was nearly fainting by now. Crowds filled every possible space. Sweat rejoiced with singings, summer stink with space and so on, practically. As the stadium went all the more wild, Mr. Big announced a song that drove fans wilder – Wild World. The stadium was again the lead vocalist, on this one.

But for worshippers of guitars and everything to do with 12-bar finger runs, Billy Sheehan and Gilbert did not disappoint. The two played a couple of impromptu adaptations on some Mr. Big’s solos. Another highlight of the show was Gilbert and Sheehan each donning twin-necks for a session before launching into the completely rocking The Whole World’s Gonna Know (from the Bump Ahead album). Solo sessions from Billy Sheehan, Gilbert and one from Pat Torpey had the crowd in ecstasy. Mr. Big cranked up the adrenalin levels of the screaming wildlife with arena-scorchers such as Addicted To The Rush and Rock and Roll Over.

It was truly an evening of its kind Nagaland will for a long time not forget. And now you have noticed something missing in this news report – of course, they played To Be With You. The stadium would have wrung the Mr. Big members’ necks if they hadn’t played it. Simple.



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Dec 10, 2009

Ren Merry

(This article on the virtuoso earlier published in Music magazine, Strings Journal)


I was born in (Wokha) Nagaland, India and had a keen interest for music since childhood days. I was fascinated with the concept of musical sounds and remember trying to experiment with various objects to create musical instruments. My first ‘stringed instrument’ was a piece of bamboo with a cut out hole in the middle strung with copper wires.

My first real guitar was a Reynolds acoustic guitar which was given to me as a gift from my uncle. There were two things that I was pre-occupied with as a teenager: One was my love for soccer, and the other was my passionate love for music which manifested itself through the guitar. I would spend many hours listening to long-playing records (there were no CD’s or I-pods in the 70’s) trying to copy the guitar lines and chord progressions note by note. My family moved to Dimapur in the early 70’s from Wokha and my passion for music continued to grow. I attended Christian English School. Next to the school was a band called the “Fore ‘n’ Afts” and I remember the many magical moments of peeping through the windows of the room where they would practice and being intensely captivated by these musicians and their manner of music making. I would go home, grab my guitar and continue the daily ritual of listening to records and practicing.

After matriculation he went to Shillong, Meghalaya for college studies. He continued to practice and play rock/pop guitar. One day he noticed an unusual book displayed by the window of a book store in Shillong. It was simply titled “Solo Guitar” by Frederick Noad. It was book on classical guitar technique. Ren Merry bought it and started learning to read and play classical guitar. At the same time he had an Anglo-Irish friend who was a skilled pianist. One day Merry heard him playing “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven. “It was one of the most beautiful pieces of music I had ever heard. I wanted to play that on the guitar. These events changed the course of my musical pursuits as I parted from my attachment to rock music and began learning classical music” he says.

However, while his love for classical music grew, Merry’s admiration for rock groups like Deep Purple, Queen, Kansas and Yes, stayed on because of the complexity of their music and skillful playing.


My childhood days were filled with a deep sense of emptiness, insecurity and fear. I found my refuge and solace in the world of music at least temporarily. During high school and college I got into harmful abuses and ungodly living. The genuine transformation of the life of a fellow classmate in college was an eye opener. Dino, a popular athlete on campus became a born-again Christian. I saw a drastic change in his behavior and priorities. I eventually realized my own hopeless spiritual condition and saw Christ as my only hope of salvation and security. I did what became the most crucial decision in my entire life. I repented of my sins and received Jesus Christ as my Lord and savior. I became involve with the EU fellowship and later joined a Christian group called the New Life Singers as a guitarist. The Lord eventually led me to meeting evangelist Dr. Robert Cunville with whom I traveled as a guitarist for a couple of years to a number of villages and Indian cities for evangelistic crusades. The Lord eventually opened the door for me to go to the US to study music at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.


Upon graduation in 1992 with a Master’s degree in Music Performance, Ren Merry returned to Nagaland with his American wife Tammie to teach at Patkai Christian College. Following a five years stint he left for the United States. There, he taught music at Westminster Christian Academy in Louisiana, the United States, for seven years. He is currently working on his doctoral studies in Music Education at the University of Northern Colorado as well as teaching middle school choral music. He still practices the guitar even after playing for more than 30 years knowing that “my fingers will get rusty if I do not.”

“There is also the joy of discovering new music and working on challenging pieces. I would say my favorite guitar pieces have always been the transcribed works of Johann Sebastian Bach whose music is not only magnificent but challenging to memorize as well” the virtuoso says.

“As I continue to grow as a believer in Christ, my sole desire is to live in surrender and obedience to the One who has given me new life and a renewed sense of purpose for living. My prayer and desire is to use this wonderful gift of music to glorify Christ and to reach out to others”

He sets this challenge to aspiring Naga musicians: Set your priorities right. Focus your goals and persevere through hard work.
“Examine everything carefully, including music. Remember that there is music that builds and music that destroys” Merry reminds. Of the higher calling the very purpose of music is with, he urges to keep in reminder to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s: “Remember where your gifts come from. Don’t waste it. Use it solely for the glory of the Lord. Discipline yourself for excellence. Work hard. Avoid distractions.”

The virtuoso is a dedicated father much as his passion for music. He is married 17 years to wife Tammie and is blessed with three children Nathan (12), Areni (9) and Therali (5). Tammie, herself a pianist, desires to learn to play the cello. The brood is also already in the steps of their parents. Nathan plays the saxophone while Areni is taking Piano lessons.

• One, titled Ren Merry: Classical Guitar. A collection of hymn arrangements and originals.


• All time favorite food: Rice and dal with hot chicken curry.
• Favorite pastime: Watching soccer and hiking with family.
• One of his earliest bands was ‘Smile Band.’ This band was formed when he was in Wokha on a brief vacation. Did a couple of local shows. The band kaput when he left for the States again!

Dec 9, 2009

Morung Express Music review: Jack Pucho's Now & Always

Album: Now & Always
Artist: Jack Pucho
Genre: Rock (soft)
Recording: Aries Music, Dimapur

Armageddon was perhaps the high-point in Jack’s contemporary Christian metal stint. His astounding high-Cs on Bloodgood’s ‘The Messiah’ or a Stryper never failed to pop a socket or two. This Patkai Christian College alumnus cut his ‘mainstream’ teeth via Christian metal outfit, Armageddon, striding the waves Lystra stirred up way back the mid ‘90s.

Jack Pucho is a man come full circle. You only have to listen to ‘Now & Always,’ his new CD, to feel in his muse the place he fought out from. There is something about ‘Now & Always: you forget his terrible motorcycle accident, his incredible High-Cs, his painful struggle from the dregs of youth up to where he is now et al. He’s found his place finally. And there’s no way this unbeatable spirit’s moving anywhere now. Jesus Christ couldn’t have been a better bet not to move away from. And how do you liberate your secret demons? Sing.

There is something about the chorus on ‘Introducing Me’ the first note off the CD. It has the dirty (but subdued) tonal angst of British alternative blended with an easy dose of big-radio harmony. Loved this song right from the word go. Sincere songs, well, you can have them around. But it’s not always you come across songs that feels sincere. While the guitar sounded a bit unflattering (riffing a tad isolated from the entire tonal makeup), the arena melodies just did it right. This one’s of those kinds you can cut, dry and package, modify and recreate in every possible mode and still sound good. Soft-rock, catchy, upbeat yet decidedly melancholic, almost sad this is one song you won’t ignore.

‘Live to worship’ has nice guitar interludes. Not necessarily the average Joe Satriani freak’s point for reference, but catchy enough to have a listen or two. The drums sounded exceedingly perfect to the song unlike in ‘Introducing Me’ where it felt a bit bored. While ‘rockable’ especially in the bluesy bridge to the final refrain, Guitarist David Murry is struggling with the overdrive tone, it seems. (David is of Faith fame and possibly a regular metal-mischief comrade of Jack those Faith/Armageddon days). Jack makes clear his intention to live in worship of The One who delivered him. Listenable.

Ok, now go get your Elvis pelvis from the shack, pump it up with a little of Bob Marley hair and then do a sort of Keith Richards swing on Bitchy Woman: what do you have? A highly swingable ‘Time is ticking.’ Not a masterpiece but the entire build of the song is impressive – simple, grassy at times and upbeat reggaeish. One thing with fusing different instrumental styles into a melody-driven song is they often mess up the whole point of the song, in this case, the chorus. Not inspiring enough but the guys pull it off nicely. (What’s wrong with the high-head?)

Next, ‘You are the one’ makes for a lulling yet rockish worship song although it feels to have been intended to sound, again, very British alternative. The best part of this song is the lyrics, painfully simple, unpretentious. A nice song. And there is ‘Free’ a chugging three-minute-something bundle of urban blues rhythm. This blues-driven guitar outing is accentuated beautifully by beautiful keyboard interludes. Think this rank up with ‘Introducing Me.’ And check out the guitar solo – here’s one flat ascend you won’t flinch running up your fingerboard.

The next set, ‘Now & Always’ well sounded stolen (forgive us) out from some MTV hit thingy. Melodic yes (naturally) but you are like “hey I’ve heard this tune somewhere but dunno where!’ U2? Na. Oh yes maybe. ‘Without You’ and ‘I need you’, well, listenable but not necessarily that-was-really-good. The guitars, and the drums, at this point, painfully need a change of tone. Overall, it’s not some local goodbye album but makes a good buy.

One small thought: Local recordings never fail to make acoustic drums sound like wimpy pads while ‘metal’ guitars forever couldn’t be nearer than 3 kilometers in the background.

Dec 8, 2009

Morung Express Music Review: Abiogenesis' 'Aeon Spell'

With, due apology to all rock purists, here’s a reminder: Original music doesn’t mean its ‘good; good music doesn’t mean it is listenable; listenable music doesn’t have to be original. It’s a vicious cycle of reference no self-respecting, originality-driven musician can afford to undermine.

Local rock veterans Abiogenesis’ debut international outing Aeon Spell is out. At last, a band with stature and experience worth ripping apart.

When the proper Abiogenesis released its first album on Magnasound way back in the 80s we were still wiping our noses with our pants. The years saw me worshipping them (and Christian metal act Lystra) for the fact that it was the only conspicuous band from Nagaland making a stand in the national Rock Machine-era circuit. Decades later, here’s my former local idol with an ‘international’ release. This time not wannabe-hair band stuff like their earlier two Magnasound albums but something called ‘howey’ that claims to be a new fusion of ‘Naga tunes’ with ‘modern music.’ And a novelty called ‘Bamhum.’ Suddenly the Ibanez feels like an outsider.

Saramati Tears, the first song, is by far, I remind, by far the most striking song on Aeon Spell. The song wallops you in the face with its lulling, incredible tonal reference woven around tightly packed vocal inlets from Arenla and of course the mournful ‘Bamhum.’ Chants dance in trance around gloriously eerie yet surreal Gothic inlets from the tortured buzz of the Bamhum. Arenla’s brassy, almost baritone, timber pressurizes you to sit and listen even as the soul acoustic lulls you into painting a picture of misty Naga hills, in your mind. Aren’s timbre and the Bamhum are the highlights of this almost elegy-esque song. Beautiful. If this is ‘howey,’ count me in!

Bad news: ‘Undiluted Love,’ in all honestly, sounds like the product of some just-picked-up-the-guitar-yesterday students writing their first ‘original’ song. Aren’s brassy timber and Moa’s arid timber tone on the song sound weird and mismatched. Too ‘local.’ Too ordinary. (Blame it on my chronic addiction to European progressive/power metal groups!)

Then a dash of upbeat urban Wawah on Right Direction. It’s an urban rock swingy thing. The bridging wahwah gets too repetitive – washing away the song itself. Overkill, you know. This song is strictly for those who believe in the save-the-whales and protect-the-Ozone-Layer thing sauced in a spoonful of simple guitar delivery and simple tunes. The rhythm distortion lacks punch – almost sleepy. No Bamhum. No howey here either.

Lonely Drifter is suggestive of those big-hair days’ songs in today’s muddle of nu-metal and resurgent core metal scene. One thing about ‘local metal songs’ is that they always lean towards corny ‘mainstream’ stuff. Note by note. Quite the opposite results as the song intended to be – a thrashy rock, or perhaps core metalesque outing – it leaves you wondering what the blooming heck was it all about. The rhythm guitars felt like it was a sample recorded from a radio song-request programme. Fortunately the guitar solos stood out. I tried out the solos on my amp cranked to 14 at 3am. Loved flying about the fret-board. Sadly, I found the melodic progression too repetitive and indulgent to offer a wholesome song. The guitar tone in the song is too regular as well. ‘Local laka metal song.’

Then 8:59 minutes of ‘howey’ in Hitch Hiker. Here, Aren is back in her brassy form. Super. The bamhum lead you alongside misty Naga hills, this time, overlooking metro citylights. Then before you can say ‘wow,’ a flurry of solos smash your teeth down your throat. This can’t get any better. From Naga chants, the bamhum has led you into the big bad world of metal. Delicious! This is the only song with the guitar highlight ranging from urbanseque blues to a dash of uptempo power metal (?). Then you wake to the bamhum again. Errie. Surreal. Great song. Bad guitar rhythm tone. Abiogenesis needs a Turbo or a FX charger to get a punchier Aggro? The reverb sounds silly in fact. But overall, a rocking song.

Long live the bamhum. It shines in Misty Dzukou as in Saramati Tears. A curious note: on ST, the bamhum sounded very explicit in its tonal façade. But on MD, it sounded a bit off-tune. And even stretched, not strained. Maybe it’s the urban background. Maybe the bamhum’s tone works best only in soul settings like in ST. Aside from this small hitch, Misty Dzukou is highly listenable.

Then Wah Taj! Listen it your self to visit Tipu Sultan’s ancient corridors! And then decide. A piece of advice: No musical stuff here. Just experimental meanderings of the classic rock guitar something in the line of (progressive rock groups) Spock’s Beard or Atomic Opera – minus the ‘wah Taj,’ of course!

The next, Magic of Love is painfully in the line of Undiluted Love, while the second-last outing Bamhum Shake, will leave you shaking your ears it is fusion or confusion music. Abiogenesis takes the final bow with You’re Breaking Me. While the lyrics are excruciatingly average, the melodic delivery is commendable particularly where the second chorus is bridged by the guitar. But bad rhythm layering tone again. Thanks to the shoddy guitar tone, the whole song sound like it was (quoting Metallica skinsman Lars Ulrich famous words) “recorded in a matchbox.”

Strictly from the point of view of contemporary musical artistry, Abiogenesis’ international debut is archetypal where “rock band” stereotypes are concerned; but it is a good break for local talents. Arenla and Moa are undeniably beacons for local rockers to navigate on. But more than just originality, there are times where originality has to be contemporized with tonal fineness and perhaps a dash or two of proficient technical delivery. Especially in rock-based compositions. Another nettle is the production. The final mastering sounds too “local” to be shoved into the international market. The guitar phrasings, particularly the tones (or the effects used?) are too amateurish. Also, the ‘howey genre’ part of the music seems to be represented only by the bamhum. Strip away the surreal buzz of the bamhum, and what you get are simple contemporary soft rock tunes hiding behind a novel instrument’s sound.

But music lovers can decide for themselves at 150 bucks.

Abiogenesis is: Arenla Subong (Vocals, Bamhum), Moa Subong (Vocals, Bamhum, Guitars, Harmonica), Along Sanglir (Bass guitar), Along Longkumer (Guitars), Imli Subong (Drums/ Percussion) and Anupam D’Moran (Keyboards)

(Blog Updates: How Watchtower revolutionized Progressive Metal Music)

Lost Angels: Profile of the Los Angeles band

Alright, Nagaland, here is a profile of the LA rockers who will be playing for you live and serious time loud on the evening of September 29 at the DDSC stadium. High-profile metal vocalist former Motley Crue singer John Corabi, former Alice Cooper/Slash’s Snakpit singer/guitarist Eric Dover, White Lion drummer Troy Patrick Farrell and Gilby Clarke’s bassman Muddy Stardust will be pulling your eardrums out live and without anesthesia. The rock stars are all from different bands but being from Los Angeles, they are to perform as ‘Lost Angels.’ The opening acts for the Los Angeles rock stars are Kohima’s OFF and Eximious.

John Corabi

John Corabi is a, well, what else, your you-know-who heavy metal singer and guitarist who has worked with bands including some glam rock superstars of the 80s called Motley Crue and RATT, KISS members, The Scream, Union and ESP and many other we don’t have the space to print about here.

Born on April 26, 1959 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he took off for big time when he joined Mötley Crüe after the group kicked out sports-car loving Vince Neil in 1992. According to motormouths, bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee were convinced that the band would benefit from John's deeper and more powerful voice than the shriek and scream of Vince Neil. Corabi recorded the self-titled Mötley Crüe album in 1994 and the EP Quaternary, heavier and more elaborate offerings than any of the Mötley Crüe albums.

Anyway to cut the story short, Corabi did Generation Swine and Red, White & Crue with Motley Crue, another six-song demo with Angora, Let it Scream with The Scream among others. Then he had a jig with a KISS guy called Eric Singer on the Eric Singer Project, three albums actually. The others are well, no space here.

Eric Dover

Now here’s a kindred spirit to Clarke. Born on January 19, Eric Dover is Alabama-born – the state which Southern greats Lynyard Skynard immortalized as the band’s home in “Home Sweet Alabama.” So he’s basically new to Nagaland’s Dimapur too. So what’s in a name? Well, christened with a name that has much to do with docks, amphibians and slithering reptiles, singer and guitarist Eric Dover has associated his talent with bands having equally-related names – Jellyfish, Slash's Snakepit, and Alice Cooper.

Legends say Dover began playing guitar at 11 and started playing around town “wherever he could.” He performed with Kim Boyce and was in The Extras in the mid-1980s. (For your info, Dover’s side project Love Bang’s album The Rule of 72's, was released this year March 26, 2009.)

In 1993, he joined Jellyfish and later, Doverman with Roger Manning. Hey these two guys are the cameos in the 1995 The Brady Bunch Movie. Then before Doverman started recording, Dover auditioned as lead vocalist for the first solo album of a hat-loving mean 6-bender called Slash from a band called Guns N' Roses. Dover did vocals on the Slash's Snakepit’s album It's Five O’clock Somewhere.

Later he joined the just-renamed Imperial Drag (from ruralish ‘Doverman’). After Imperial Drag retired on superannuation in 1997, Eric Dover appeared on several albums as a session musician before joining another group. Man, Eric Dover must love snakes joining bands with names like Slash’s Snakepit and Jellyfish. Because the next band he joined was one, also, that single handedly raised the humble Python to superstar status during the 70s and 80s –Alice Cooper. Dover did time with Alice Cooper for the Brutal Planet tour in 2001. He played on 2001's Dragontown and has big name on most of the 2003 album The Eyes of Alice Cooper as well.
Latest news says Dover is fronting a band called Sextus (no reptilian association here this time). Sextus’ debut Stranger Than Fiction was released March 18, 2008.

Troy Patrick Farrell

Listed among the most in-demand drummers in Los Angeles today, Troy Patrick-Farrell is no stranger to Dimapur. He was in the city December 2008, pounding the machine for Mike Tramp’s White Lion. In Dimapur, Farrell got to do a lot of other cool stuff aside from tearing up the stage during that visit – he got to pose with IRB (NAP) Jawans for endless photographs for them uniformed guys! This time, he’s gonna wear shades at night when them IRB guys from Chumukedima mob him.

Originally from Chicago, Farrell moved to LA to go bite into the rock scene. He is touted as one of the most dedicated and hard-working musician in the LA scene and is now one of the most sought-after drummers on the circuit, it is said. “Troy Patrick Farrell is one of the hardest working musicians in rock today,” a critique says of the man. He’s been playing drums since 12. His influences are Bun E. Carlos and Vik Foxx.

Recent projects point to (Guns N’ Roses keyboardist) Dizzy Reed's band Hookers 'n Blow and most recently plated with CC Deville of Poison, the original bad-ass six-stringer for the biggie 80s band. Earlier this year, Troy toured the country with White Lion and dates say he’s headed for Europe with the band early next year. He has also performed with Donnie Vie and Gilby Clarke. “Troy brings his unique drumming technique to every project that he is involved in and adds a special classic, yet modern, approach to the 80's songs that his fans have come to love,” a critique says of him.

While engaged in a “crazy schedule” of side projects, the most important project for Farrell is what a critique said of his “kick ass in your-face pop/punk” band called Fastmaster, with Beautiful Creatures’ drummer Matt Star on guitar/vocals and Curtis Armstrong on the bass.

Muddy Stardust

Muddy Stardust is the one responsible for Clarke’s low duties. Unlike his bass playing, Stardust is pretty low-profile. He did stint for Gilby Clarke’s solo band and toured North America as part of the Rock n' Roll Fantasy Camp. For someone who cites as his musical influence Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Big Star, The Beatles, the Kinks and Radiohead, he wouldn’t come across as your natural hard-jamming rocker. But when he jams your stage, he’s like totally happening. Man’s he’s gotta be. If you to have happened to play for some guys called the LA Guns, you gotta be.

Divine Connection's Album: El Roi, A Review

The Morung Express Music review

Artiste/Band: Divine Connection
Album: ‘El Roi’ (2008)
Studio: Clef Ensemble (Ser’s Bazar) Kohima.
Ratings: Miss this one, and you’ve just farted away a promising start to a promising rock industry for our pro-music-starved Nagaland.

Divine Connection’s ‘El Roi’ vibe is definitely between progressive hard rock and mainstream avantgarde; while the urban rock package is definitely eclectic with a swamp of various styles, its production unmistakably sounds like a package from deathcore superpowers Finland and Norway. In fact following the first spin of the CD, I felt it similar to Norway’s melodic death metal band Immortal Soul’s ‘Winterheart’ offering. Of course DC’s debut is not your average coremetal Christian mosher, but it’s definitely for hard rock devotees who’d like to indulge in some progressive meanderings packaged in superb genre eclecticism. Technically speaking, I found it even better than American Christian prog/power metal band Theocracy’s 2007 debut. Now go throw Justin Timberlake at your neighbor’s grumpy Alsatian.

The first two numbers off the lot, ‘El Roi’ and ‘Original Abomination’ will tease your neck muscles and the larynx. And dandruff. And boy, what temptation. Both are unmistakably similar yet each holding its own – mid-tempo jagged rockers with heavy intermittent, progressive off-crunch riffs; not melodic, but boy you can hum, yes hum it, thanks to the rhythmic hooks a la 80 thrash scene. Obed’s singing is not persuasive but ostensibly passionate (almost pained). You’d want to go grow your hair for some serious time dandruff-shaking. The guitars are devotedly bad-tempered. The best thing about ‘El Roi’ and OA? Straight unpretentious bangers with no 80s glam frills (like irritatingly prolonged or incongruous, meaningless guitar solos). Even two solo fillings between any bridges would have murdered the two said songs downright. Both are with a touch of mainstream avantgarde but definitely thrashy, accentuated by smooth verses and jumpy time signatures. In other words you have two tight and beautifully angry James LaBrie-meets-Tesla bangers. Real time dude-stuff, these.

Then ‘Tell Me Who’ induced me into startled wondering ‘Tell Me What the Heck’s that?’ Boy, almost freaked me out when the bass announced itself with a boogie a la 80s Culture Club disco. Endured the George Michaelish boogie-woogie intro and too-spiky bass but into the first verse, I liked the song right-off. Do you listen to urban disco? The song is pure bluegrass delight with generous doses of urban jazz tunes yet decidedly sunny enough for a bluesy guitar to shine a rock shine. TMW is very, very hooky and downright; loved the soulful tunes, especially the disco-tinged arrangements. Mature lyrics. And simply loved the cascading solo woven around tight funky bass (was that slapping or pulling, Mhathung?). If you don’t like this song, I hope your neighbor feeds you to his Alsatian.

Back to swingy dandruff-shaking, people. ‘Thank You’ (Yeah, too bad for embarrassingly cheesy titles) looms overhead like some big bad alien cloud – fat and plodding tempo, dark guitars, brooding vocal accentuation and definitely new age avant-garde slow rock. The verse is almost vestal – serious time haunting and fat awesome reminiscent of Lita Ford’s PMS days. An interesting listen which will definitely have you humming, ‘Thank You lord for Coming into my life…’ Then as you thank each other, buzz will groove in with a power strut to drag you off to the dandruff-pit. ‘Why can’t I find love’ (boy, DC sure are talented in cheese stuff!). WCIFL’s a power avantgarde song and one of its thematic best with a generous dose of incantation that’ll pass for rock (not those Limp Bizkit types). It’s a likable hard groove rocker and a tonal highlight to the whole album. A commendable effort.

The next, ‘Fallen’ is for punky garage deviants. The song starts of with a three-bar Hammer-Ons blanket in a fuzz of power chording. And suddenly, I’m like ‘oh boy, DC just ripped off the inlets on Metallica’s ‘Seek & Destroy.’ The riffs follow a similar pattern. Thankfully, as the song progresses, a new progressive sensibility takes control. Obed gets more passionate (almost angry); Zakie Nuh and Aseu ignite their Dream Theatre influence and Mhathung does his Neal Morse impersonation with convincing off-shot bass. This song grows on you and suddenly, you are a progressive riff fan. Good one.

And then hell breaks loose (Excuse me this is supposed to be a Christian album). A nut-cracking flurry of agro blasts through like a maddened train on ‘Second Woe’ (finally, a cool title this time, DC). Boy, power metal never had it so good. The song reminded a little of progressive power metal band Nevermore. Sounding angry goes great on you Obed. Remain angry. Simply loved the guitar tone here and skinsman Yanpo Lotha sure matches his stuff to double bass up the song to tease your eardrum’s endurance. Just one itty-bitty itch here: the progression is too repetitive and technically bland (almost naked) to be even anywhere near imaginative. One of my favorites, but definitely leaves you wondering if more could have been.

‘Without you’ continues the superior run. Sunny, 80ish and hooky, this exceedingly tight piece of slow, progressive tinged number will have you doing a hard rock jig or two. The highlight here is the guitar arrangement; a smoothening progressive transition between uplifting tunes reminiscent of radio ballads and arena live rock.

And you won’t find any fault with ‘My All.’ Touchingly dulcet and soulful, Obed and Ruth Nukhu (of Piano fame) might as well better get married in the studio; the lilting refrain woven around minimal pianist instrumentation and a gloriously uplifting chorus. Too beautiful to be a song. If you don’t hit on this one, go find a job.

DC signs off with another worthwhile indulgence with an almost reggaeish urban boogie ‘One together.’ This song is very elemental and has a breezy and melodic swing to it but definitely soft rocking. One of DC’s highlights and one of the best arrangements in here.

If a debut can be so promising, then I already can’t wait for DC’s next album. One small advice: Go easy on the cheesy stuff, DC dudes.

Redolent: Fresh Scent of Rock

Album: ‘Infinite Horizon,’
Genre: Christian Rock
Artiste: Redolent
Studio: Clef Ensemble (Ser’s Bazar, Kohima)
Album Ratings: Must Listen. Else, go open a Paan Shop on Mt. Japfu.

The first thing I did sooner as this huge guitar riff came on, was slam the headphone down and scurry through the sound credits. I blinked at the sound. The credit declared ‘Recorded, Mixed and Mastered at Clef Ensemble, Ser’s Bazar in Kohima.’ (Hey, that’s Theja Meru’s kingdom, yeah?) And the sound-pusher? I’m told Redolent’s bassman Steve Bordin engineered it. Redolent’s second Christian album ‘Infinite Horizon’ was gonna be something worth an ear or two, if not new.

One insufferable itch I always had to endure in reviewing local rocks albums is the eternal “local PCO” sounding sound and forever-maudlin songs. Our eternal obsession about “promoting local talents” just because a contrast was erected between it and other music industries hold no water, for me at least. I mean would you promote some lousy, mediocre band knowing fully well they are mediocre?

This obviously means I really don’t always have the courage to review many a local album simply because they sounded too immature to be even stupid, and too stupid to be even embarrassing. Not that any Dream Theater-type mastering was expected, but Redolent’s sound has this distinct professional touch, unlike the scuttle-bags of many a 4-track studio gad. I’d say this album has the best sound and better songs so far as the local albums over the years are concerned.

I passed this CD over to a friend, himself a prolific guitarist, for his observation as well, just to make sure. He was quiet impressed. In the SMS he sent me he was like “Uh-huh, this album’s got the coolest sounding sound for a long time from the Naga rock scene; it’s got a touch of pro. Love the guitar sound, the drums and many of the songs. Kudos to Clef Ensemble, the sound engineer (whoever he was) and to the band for achieving that sound”! He also added “if this song was aired on the radio, nobody would figure out it’s a local band!” Guess my buddy’s comment was an affirmation.

So whattabout the songs?

You should jump ‘Land of your heart.’ It’s highly-listenable, a straight-out, mid-tempo swing metal number with a touch of symphonic metal harmonies. The guitar tone is extremely polished – and I’m 100% sure any local guitarist that ever recorded from a Nagaland studio would give a lucky left finger, to achieve this sound. The song is melodic, but simple enough for one to ponder over its tonic intricacy. This is a vital ingredient in any good song. Truly, if this was aired on the radio, nobody’s gonna guess it’s a local band. And check out the drums – how was that sound achieved? Kudos.

Then there’s this sunny, sunny happy soft rock ‘Coming Home.’ Soft Rockies are gonna lap this one up. The superb guitar tone (the solo’s nice) continues here. Lead singer Chingkhiuliang is in element. Its quiet apt in here – the song is about redemption and revival. You’ll like this one too.

Then there’s ‘As you walk away.’ It’s, well, painfully disappointing. The musical arrangements could have been stronger – it sounds like a song designed for some shitty government function. Of course, it is quiet listenable and hummable considering it’s a dedication to a deceased friend. Ok, ok, guest vocalist Azeena sings like some MTV heartache vocalist, the acoustics are crisp and all the jazz. But …hmm…well, it’s also very maudlin, too ordinary. It’s like one of those Hong Kong Market “Adidas” and “Nike” shoes – pricey and genuine-looking – but still, fake.

‘Be There for me’ is a good effort. Johan’s great guitar tone and Samuel’s superb drum is still there. Slow, melodic and introspective rock. Not a highlight but very, very listenable.

Then, ‘Everywhere I go.’ It’s for Christ. The song is one of those that make you climb to the rooftop terrace, watch the sunset go down the horizon, and recall yesterday’s memories …and maybe let trickle a tear or two. And thank God for all His grace, His sacrifice, and the redemption; slow soft, introspective, sad and beautiful yet a humbly triumphant rock ballad. The melodies are so beautifully arranged that if, say, skinsman Samuel had even squeezed in a two-two of his drums, the song would have gone down Disaster Avenue Street. The guitar solo is exceedingly emotive. You may even start thinking everyone in the band is crying silently during this song. A song worthy to be sung in praise of someone so worthy. If you don’t like this one, too bad, you don’t have a rooftop. Beautiful.

After the melancholic lull, ‘One life’ blasts through the door and sticks into your face the question: what you gonna do all alone without the Almighty Him? Mid-tempo and slow but undeniably very stern and crunchy with a nu-metalish tinge; with that patterned texture of European metal. ‘One life’ is very good effort. Redolent shines here as rockers.

Then, ohmyfreakingwhatever, Redolent suddenly forget they are musicians, with ‘Fragrance of your love.’ My freakingfingers! Listening to this song, you begin wondering if you should go for a more rewarding job like climbing Mt. Saramati. Redolent’s great sense of harmony and instrumentation’s missing in action here. It’s too mushy, for potatoes’ sake, even for childish teenage romance poetry! Please, you’d have been better off singing ‘country road’ in E minor.

But Hallelujah, ‘Free’ jumps to the rescue to free you from the tepidity and stupidity of involuntary loss of musical direction! But waitafreakingoneminute… What’s Linkin Park doing in Nagaland? ‘Free’ starts off with that amazing guitar crunch sound…and ends up sounding like a sleepier version of those three-chord nu-metal people…Sure, sure, them Limp Bizkit kids are gonna love it…of course, the song sounds like it was a nu-metal demo. You can’t miss the influence in there. Good, heavy and very crunchy, but certainly NOT original and different from the other 3 billion something nu-metal/hip hop bands out there.

What’s now? ‘Picking up the pieces.’ They better start doing so. Thankfully, after a couple of very listenable but not very imaginative songs, the band blasts back by making up for their disastrous numbers earlier. Redolent is in its pure rock element here – superb arrangements, concise yet very technical and you should check out the incredibly harmonic chorus. Cool. And I notice Obed Newmai of the ‘Messianic Troopers’ shares in guitar duties here. Another superb crunchy number for the rockhead

What’s for dessert? ‘Light of the world.’ Here, Azeena sings like her voice is built for –strong, assertive and confident. And you have children’s choir here. A very, very commendable effort. The lyrics are also one of the most emotive, in the album. One of the better songs. Very ‘singable.’

Redolent’s ‘Infinite Horizon’ is arguably, the most professional sounding effort – the mastered Sonics and songs as well – to have emerged from the Nagaland stable over the years – that is, if you can find a copy of the Rs. 90 CD. (I’m told the thing’s all sold-out but if demand pops out its popular head, a second edition could be well on way). One small thing: Chingkhiuliang’s got a nice range but I feel he didn’t really sing that confidently. Overall, it’s a superb album. Congratulations to the sound engineer, the studio and of course, the band. Can’t wait for their next one.

(Redolent started in 2003 Tamenglong. Steve Kahmei (bass guitarist and manager) says the band was started to ‘make good use of talents bestowed on us by God and hopefully to bring an inspiring change in the Gospel music scene for the local youths in a small way.’)

The reviewer can be reached at or alngullie on Yahoo Messenger.

Dec 7, 2009

Music Review: The Big Thaw - Illogically blissful

The Morung Express Music Review
Band: Bliss Logic (Mumbai)
Album: The Big Thaw
Genre: Eclectic
Rating: Must Listen

This eminent something Naga lady hands me the album for a review. I go ‘Oh holy Lala, more half-baked, self-important local pretensions to suffer...’ From Mumbai, she says. Mumbai? Hmm, urbane musicians are more unprejudiced to knocks – unlike our lot here who ask for “review” and contract Fever if you say what you really think about their stuff. But all’s fair in war.

As in so. Buddha guy’s back with philosophy: Wander, don’t give a hoot if you’re lost. Second timer Lima Yanger and a bunch of veterans Bliss Logic is out with an album that croons “dude, so what if Emcee ain’t rock.” Man, I realize I’d give 8 outta 10 for this superlative album.
BL announces with the fluid MSV (More Soft Vibes), a song you can gladly go mystic in unabashed doses of Jazz sensibility. Lima Yanger shines – he actually sings like it should be sung. Seductively groovy, impulsive innuendoes in oodles of meaty retro jive and you still swing the rock. It’s Tracy Chapman doing a new-age Camel (or say, a sentimental Kroma). Beauty.

Bad News: Wednesday is a sulking Monday morning that refuses to attend to bathroom duties because TGI Saturday’s at least 4days away. The retro-ish tunes are OK but by virtue of tedium, this song somehow undermines a beautiful soundcraft called MSV. Except for Babu’s speech (garbled, but) interspersed with a rabble of illogical tunes that pass for bridges (or were those choruses?). Babu’s halo saves a highly presumptuous attempt at sounding numinous. Tsk Tsk.

But, here’s the antidote for lousy-Wednesdays-hangovers: If you dislike New Message you probably inherited polio-stricken ears from Sid Vicious. I never had patience for ballads that flirt with jazz rhythms in the name of discovery. But New Message is superb. A painted poem. And Satch would love the Crystal Planet type guitar layers. Me loves.

The hooky joyride continues in Tryin and Window. Gold Awesomes. Exactly any fusion songwriter’s dream. Playful and totally oblivious – that’s the beauty of wandering about just for the heck of it. A bit of India, a spoonful of San Francisco Broadway in TGIF Martini. And if you are a regular Sting with a new fetish for funk and pseudo-jazz, they’re it. The two joins MSV. Exquisite arrangements, cathartic breaks and just the right amount of hints of the Eastern: Delightfully eclectic messes they are, goodness me. Double encore please.

Sadly, Everyday wallows in loneliness. A somewhat mushy item that at times sounds kiddo. But it’s not that bad – leave it playing as you go relieve your suffering bladder.

My first reaction to The Big Thaw: Is it rock because it’s cynical or is it cynical because it’s rock? But I figured, who cares. Wow, Extreme ought to be penning The Big Thaw than dishing out weak funk innuendoes to wallow in the faded glory of ‘Pornograffiti’ or ‘III Sides to Every Story.’ TBT joins the gold list.

But the next, Ride, is an epic flat tyre. Pretentious poetry – maudlin teenage heartache. You gonna barf – fake insinuations, bland tunes, awkward guitar passages and insipid percussion. Yawn.

Thankfully, Sheera is redemption – in fact it’s a rock-ier version of MSV. A 4+ minute groove delight miles from the dour, dull and ridiculous clang of an ignominy called Ride. Sheera overflows right into that cute, pull-your-cheeks song Spill. Cool, give me Spill any day with those imaginative rhythms. Alright, I’ll confess – it’s as addictive as the others (minus total Eeeks like Wednesday and Ride.)

Except for the tiny momentary lapse of inspiration in the two Eeek-songs, The Big Thaw is the underground archivist’s dream item. A superb album.

Catch Bliss Logic at