Monday, 21 May 2018

Taz Taylor Band “Welcome To America"2006 US Hard Rock


Taz Taylor Band “Welcome To America"2006 US Hard Rock
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Welcome to America. The Land of Opportunity. The Land of the relative Dream. The Land featuring the most controversial aspects in all issues. The more most of the world opposes to the actions of every American government, the more various American products we cannot live with out. This applies to American music, as well. Form the Mississippi Blues to today’s Nu-Metal activities, anyone can find some genre/sound to collide to in America. Welcome to America. 
Taz Taylor - born in Walsall, England - pays tribute to his guitar heroes Michael Schenker and Gary Moore. I have not yet remembered if I’ve heard of this axeman before; few are the chances. Hence the surprise that one of the finest hard rockin’ voices of all time did sing in this album. Graham Bonnet: responsible for MSG’s Assault Attack (1982) and Rainbow’s Down To Earth (1979) legendary Hard Rock albums. Phew, can we judge this ‘smoking’ voice? Hell, no. I was curious enough to see how he’d handled things in this bad-artwork release. The mist was unveiled as soon as Fighter’s Fist entered the arena… 
Taz Taylor is surely an old-school guitarist. Hence, similarities to the aforementioned axeman plus credits from Ritchie Blackmore and Eddie Van Halen are more than obvious. A low-profile musician, delivering great soloing with traditional sound is all you can get. The songwriting points to a mid-Rainbow style added by an early MSG 'blend’. In addition, leads dedicated to Gary Moore’s talent are noticeable (a nice instrumental version of Parisienne Walkways opus is featured here). 
The rest of the band needs no special attention, simply for the reason that they are 100% dedicated to what they’re doing and the sum is faultless. As for Mr. Bonnet, he’s like the old wine: getting better and better, he delivers great singing in Fighter’s Fist and Happy Hour while his general performance is as expected. Not to forget: Goodbye Mr. C. is a 'surprise’ tribute tune. Just think of Ozzy’s early solo years, as a hint… 
Taz Taylor gets big credit for cooperating with such an anthemic voice. Still, the tunes are good enough by themselves. No originality, of course, but I do not think this is the scope of this release. Omitting the mediocre CD cover, Welcome To America sees a good purchase for friends of the Thin Lizzy and Rainbow family trees….metal temple…~

In January 1997 UK-born Taz Taylor took a leap of faith and boarded a plane to Los Angeles with nothing more than a guitar, a backpack and roughly $2,000… 
He spent much of his first year in the USA as a long haul truck driver, criss-crossing the country countless times in an 18-wheeler and spending the downtime in his sleeper berth practicing guitar. Eventually he settled in San Diego CA and set about recording his debut instrumental album "Caffeine Racer” which was released in July 2004. A band was formed and live shows commenced. 
Caffeine Racer got the attention of legendary vocalist Graham Bonnet, most notable for working with the best guitarists in rock (Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai) and they set about recording the Taz Taylor Band album “Welcome To America” which was released on the UK label Escape Music in Aug 2006. Present TTB drummer Val Trainor joined immediately after the WTA sessions were completed. 
International tours followed in 2007 and 2008, taking the band to UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Hungary and Czech Republic. 
In 2009 the band recruited another ex-MSG vocalist, Keith Slack for the “Straight Up” album, also on Escape Music, and also featuring a guest appearance from Deep Purple’s Don Airey on keyboards. 
2010 saw the band returning to Taz’s instrumental roots with the release of “Big Dumb Rock”. 
Current TTB bassist Barney Firks joined immediately after the recording of this album and the band played a string of dates to promote BDR opening for MSG (4 times), Uli Jon Roth (4 times), UFO (twice), Gary Hoey (twice), Pat Travers (twice), Dokken, Skid Row, Great White, Molly Hatchet, LA Guns, Lynch Mob, Wishbone Ash, Tony McAlpine, Alan Holdsworth and Greg Howe. 
In 2014 TTB are on a mission with their brand album “Deja Voodoo”, an all instrumental offering of eight songs featuring a line-up that has been together now for four years and has bonded and grown into something really special…..~

Anytime an album featuring Graham Bonnet is released, I have to buy it. One of my favorite Hard Rock singers of all time, I can’t find an album where Bonnet doesn’t shine at the mic. But who is Taz Taylor? I had no idea. A quick search and I found an excellent musician from Birmingham, England that plays guitar along the lines of Michael Schenker. If you close your eyes come solo time, it’s very close to the master while holding on to his own style. You can hear the influences right away: Schenker, UFO, Gary Moore, Ritchie Blackmore, Van Halen…..not a bad combination to draw from and form a personal flavor. You hear it right away, this is a guitar album, plain and simple. 

WECOME TO AMERICA! offers an album laden with melodic hooks and superb guitar. Right from the start ‘Fighter’s Fist’ and ‘Radio Luxembourg’ (my favorite song on this album) get you singing along, tapping your feet, and doing your best air guitar. Close your eyes during the Gary Moore instrumental ‘Parisienne Walkways’…..it’s slow, it sounds sad, you can feel the emotion. It feels as if you were walking alone down the street after a long night and this is the soundtrack. 

There’s full on Hard Rock with ‘Happy Hour’, ‘Wall Of Sound’, and the title track. A couple of “softer” ballads in ‘Haunted’ and ‘Silent Fall’. ‘Silent Fall’ is especially striking in the calm opening intro of guitar and piano, swiftly building to a blazing guitar solo, before finding a mid-tempo groove. 

I find the last two tracks intriguing: ‘The Reprise’ an upbeat instrumental that reminds gives off a UFO/MSG vibe. ‘Goodbye Mr. C’ is an interesting cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Goodbye To Romance’ and ‘Mr. Crowley’ taking half of each song. The first half (Goodbye) is superbly done on acoustic guitar while Graham lends a wonderful vocal. Second half (Mr. C) kicks in and provides the punch. To someone unfamiliar with the Ozzy versions, they would think it’s the same song. Very well done. 

Bottom Line: 
Melodic Hard Rock with enough hooks and solos to make this one of the best albums of the year. The songs are well written, full of melody. Nothing overdone, nothing too excessive. The band provides excellent music while Bonnet (almost 60 yrs old) provides great vocals that singers half his age cannot master. This album will easily be in my Top 10 of 2006 and I will be watching for more Taz Taylor in the future. Taz Taylor also has one previous album to check out, CAFFEINE RACER (2004), which is a 12 song instrumental album…..~


You have to bring a certain amount of self-confidence, if you miss your first band as a rather unknown musician’s own name in order to survive in the international market; even more so, if you could score really well here, as here by the involved companions using name dropping. 

Taz Taylor is a Birmingham guitarist who moved to sunny California about ten years ago to pursue his career. The result so far is an instrumental album called “Caffeine Racer” on the credit side, with which he could apparently attract attention, at least in the local music circles. For the next step on the ladder, for which the inclusion of a singer is undoubtedly essential, he could win nothing less than Graham Bonnet, whose reputation is not only much larger, but also counts among the best of the old hard rock guild. 

His participation in “Welcome To America!” Is of course also a statement of quality about the initiator, after all, Bonnet is known by his past, not just with the mediocrity of the guitarist scene to give. Names like Blackmore (at RAINBOW), Malmsteen and Vai (both at ALCATRAZZ), Michael Schenker (at MSG) and Chris Impellitteri are recalled as evidence. 

His new partner calls MSG’s albums GARY MOORE, early OZZY OSBOURNE and VAN HALEN as inspiration. This is also what you hear on “Welcome To America!”, Not just through his own interpretations of Moore’s “Parisienne Walkways” or the Ozzy ballad “Goodbye Mr. C (Goodbye To Romance)”. His qualities on the instrument can not be overheard, but are not expressed by speed records breaking Ego-Geschrubbe, but above all by his warm, soulful playing that remains harmonious and song-oriented even in the difficult passages. Of course, that does not change the fact that pure instrumental songs or longer guitar passages, as found here, continue to be a matter of taste and quickly become boring for most end users. 

Let’s focus on the highlights, which are clearly set by the joyous re-listening to one of the most distinctive and peculiar voices of the hard rock scene. Right from the start, the gritty voice of Bonnets reminds us of the genre classics in which he was involved. Above all, his short stay with RAINBOW, who after all had the world hits “Since You’ve Been Gone” and “All Night Long” result, as well as the temporal adjoining ALCATRAZZ could have been godfather at the emergence of the songs. And the preferences of the guitar hero are still present, because by the similar timbre of Bonnet to David Lee Roth (even if he is the much better singer) in songs like the good opener “Fighter’s Fist” sometimes the early VAN HALEN sound by. 

It gets really classy when the vocalist really gets out of the rhythmic pounding “happy hour” or gurgles himself into the chorus of the all-surpassing title track, which sound almost unhealthy, but unhealthy and a lot of whiskey. A song for the permanent rotation. 

Despite all qualities, not everything that glitters is gold here. I can not resist the impression that the band has not yet worked hard and purposefully enough and that the true capacity has not yet been called up here. Either there was still missing the accuracy or there was a certain time pressure, which has prevented a more extensive work so far, who knows. If you subtract the instrumentals and cover versions, as well as weaker songs like “Radio Luxembourg” and “Haunted” from, with a very manageable total playing time just a handful of self-designed songs of superior quality. There could have been more in terms of quantity - because if you go to a top restaurant, you want as much as possible of the main course. If the band decides to take the mentioned album highlights as an indication of the future, hopefully lasting cooperation, there is still much more to come up here….by….Lars Schuckar …..~

Guitarist Taz Taylor was born and raised outside of Birmingham, England, and one of his earliest musical memories was, ironically, “Since You’ve Been Gone” by Rainbow. Taz took to playing guitar in the 80’s and had a whole plethora of guitar inspirations to choose from, including Michael Schenker, Gary Moore, Van Halen, Randy Rhoads, etc. 

Taz became disillusioned with the music scene in the 90’s, as so many Metalheadz did (especially in the USA), and more or less gave up on playing … until 1995. Suddenly, he became self-motivated, inspired, and turned himself into somewhat of a modern day musical hermit, literally locked up in a Californian practice room until 1997. The fruits of this reclusion was his highly acclaimed instrumental album Caffeine Racer. 

In order to promote the album he needed, well … a band. Taz came across Bob Miller, keyboards, and Dirk Krause on bass, and a whole load of drummers. When it came time to record again, the band knew they wanted vocals this time. Taz started at the top and put a call into Graham Bonnet (Rainbow, MSG, Alcatrazz, Impellitteri), who just so happens to be “instrumental” in Taz’s early musical development. The result is Welcome To America, which ends up being ten tracks of memorable Rock that seems to end oh so quickly. 

Graham Bonnet is the type of vocalist that falls into that “love/hate” category. There isn’t a music fan that seems to think he is just “okay.” One either likes his singing style or doesn’t care for it at all. Bonnet fans will be thrilled to hear that Graham sounds better then ever on this release. The whole album has that sort of “Bonnet-era MSG feel,” a’la Assault Attack, without the “Schenker-esque” guitar, not that Taz Taylor is a slouch; he’s just an ever so slightly different type of player. 

“Fighter’s Fist” opens the Rock-fest with a cool, full, Gibson Explorer riff and a heavy drumbeat, with Graham adding that melodic touch on vocals. “Radio Luxembourg” opens with an almost UFO-like harmony that is very appealing and is capped off by a nice lead by Taz. Both of these tunes could do well as singles. Top highlights are “Happy Hour” with its very melodic, classic MSG feel and several Taz fills, and the title track with its nice Rock tempo stomp and Bonnet “growls.” An easily memorable moment is the instrumental lead-in of the slightly somber “Silent Fall” where Taz “breaks loose” (be it for a very short time) … you might believe that this guy could be able to truly give Michael a run for his money. 

There are two covers, sort of, on this album. The first is Gary Moore’s “Parisienne Walkways” (another early childhood memory from Taz’s past). The second is a medley of Ozzy Osbourne’s “Goodbye To Romance” and “Mr. Crowley” that end the release, aptly entitled “Goodbye To Mr C.” As strange as it sounds, it works very well, even with Graham’s vocal range. 

Bottom line, this one is a great album with plenty of accessible Rock music for everyone. Don’t be turned off by the MSG and UFO references and similarities. Some of this was bound to happen since Bonnet is involved in the writing. The release is certainly a nice change of pace, and quite frankly there isn’t anything new on the market quite like this one. It has to be said, to justify how good this release is, that Waiting In America is the type of release Schenker fans have been hopelessly clamoring for out of the MSG camp for years!…by: SCOTT JESLIS…..~


Credits 
Bass – Dirk Krause 
Drums – Richard Livoni 
Guitar – Taz Taylor 
Keyboards – Bob Miller 
Vocals – Graham Bonnet

Tracklist Show Credits 
1 Fighter’s Fist
2 Radio Luxembourg
3 Parisienne Walkways
4 Happy Hour
5 Haunted
6 Welcome To America
7 Wall Of Sound
8 Silent Fall
9 The Reprise
10 Goodbye Mr.C 

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