Having stomped around and downed a brew or three to the debut Mike Paradine Group album, Death in The Family around four years ago, there was no disguising the anticipation waiting to check out its successor Bayonne, NJ after its recent release. Thanks to the man himself, we have got our eager teeth into Mike Paradine’s second solo album, and true to say expectations were not let down in any size or form.
Bayonne bred Paradine is probably better known as drummer and songwriter in New Jersey based metal band ArticFlame, the band he founded after leaving heavy metallers Balistik Kick, where he had been a member for thirteen years, in disillusion at its “negativity and inactivity”. Since emerging, Paradine and ArticFlame have released to date a quartet of increasingly acclaimed albums whilst sharing stages with the likes of W.A.S.P., Manowar, Savatage, Quiet Riot and many others.
Also the author of King of Toys, a highly praised horror/poetry book about a 5 year old boy who is abused by his drug addled parents and after a horrible episode of abuse, sees his broken down toys come to life and avenge the event, Paradine unveiled his debut solo album Death In The Family in 2012. It was built on a collection of personal songs lyrically seeded in themes such as an on-going feud with certain family members, growing up in the late 70’s, early 80’s in Bayonne, 9/11, and his battle with cancer as a 13 year old, as well as more humour fuelled adventures. The album was a heart delivered and felt proposition of rousing emotion and rock ‘n’ roll which its successor emulates with similarly intimate tracks based on experiences, people, and life in the home city where he still resides. Where it Bayonne, NJ differs to the first album is in its sound. Whereas Death In The Family revelled in numerous styles across heavy and hard rock to varied metal exploits, the second full-length sees the band stick solely to the hard rock sound which Paradine started his musical life playing. As the release soon shows though, it does not prevent songs from offering a broad variety of sound and enterprise, or from sparking the same depth of pleasure as the previous encounter.
With Paradine writing the lyrics, melodies and playing the drums across the majority of the album and Allen Carescia writing the music, playing guitar/bass, and producing, Bayonne, NJ quickly grips ears and attention with opener Deadbeat Dad. Straight away there is a grouchy attitude and muscular intent to the song’s rock ‘n’ roll, guitars sharing irritable riffs as rhythms firmly jab behind the growling tones of Paradine. Direct and pulling no punches, the song is a raw and potent slab of confrontational rock ‘n’ roll backed as strongly by the similarly toned Heaven Would Be Hell for Me. Almost predatory in its stroll and sonic belligerence, the song is east to be drawn to but truly comes alive when harmonies and melodic flames dynamically erupt to leave an already keen appetite greedier.
In the first MPG album, a host of vocalists featured across its songs but for Bayonne, NJ Paradine and, as in the third track, fellow ArticFlame Michael Clayton Moore take turns driving tracks. Fair to say there is a different spark and dynamic at play with Clayton Moore’s recognisable tones; tracks given another rich hue to tempt with, a third emerging when both vocalists unite their contrasting styles for an anthemic lure again as here. In tandem with that, Paradine’s rhythms are alone as thick a tempting in the song as too the sultrily spiced guitar adventure brewing within its boisterous persuasion.
Riot at the Public House stirs up body and emotions in similar style and fashion next, the aggressive attitude of the opener returning to line the invitation of hooks and grooves and colour the prowl of the bass. Clayton Moore again leads the excellent rousing of body and spirit, embracing the great contrast between both men’s tones vocals, though as good as it all is, things leap up another gear, vocally and musically, in Unforgotten Highway. The song is spellbinding as melodic caresses and emotive shadows cradle the superb vocals and emotional expression of Clayton Moor. As soon found, it is an provocative incitement which stays with thoughts long after it leaves ears, its melodies alone as lingering as the potency of the vocals and the subtle percussive touch of Paradine.
Bayonne is potently delivered to ears and imagination through Zombietown next, its barren spirit and decaying landscape enjoyably tempered by the honky-tonk piano/keys spawned shuffle uniting with Paradine’s accusing delivery and the agitated nature of the sounds around him. Showing yet one more strain of the varied flavouring to the album, the striking proposal makes way for another in the funk infested rock ‘n’ roll of Dancing Bag of Bones. There is a Cooper-esque feel to the song as it sizzles in sonic endeavour and spicy enticement, flirting and twisting like its protagonist in ears before leaving heftily satisfied emotions in the masterful hands of Little Darling. A superb cover of the Thin Lizzy classic, it quickly revels in Paradine’s undisguised passion for the Irish rockers, an essence enjoyably scenting many songs within the album, whilst showing its own adventurous touches in thrilling tribute to the legends.
Obviously inspired by that aforementioned book of Paradine, King of Toys simmers in and seduces ears soon after, its melodies an emotive suggestiveness within the music of this time Mike Marino. Keys and guitars court each other’s respective elegance and fiery drama as an array of vocal textures bring the tale to the imagination. More of a grower than other tracks, it too leaves a lingering and enjoyable mark before the old school air of Taking on all the World blazes away with an impassioned weave of melodic acidity and blues infested invention. Without quite sparking the same fire as numerous others on the release, it still has ears enthralled and a wish for more vocal before the album closes on the twin treats of Hey Mama, another irresistible cover of this time The Godz track, and finally Daddys Little Girl. Each recorded separately to the rest of the album, the first features Dave Manheimer and Kilroy on guitar with “Ghost” Meehan on bass alongside Paradine whilst the closer is an emotive ballad with drummer Mike Young backing Clayton Moore who wrote the, yes “sappy” but richly enjoyable song.
Increasingly impressive, Bayonne, NJ is a rock ‘n’ roll treat so easy to get unavoidably involved in, and as the first MPG release, a proposition which just makes an appetite for more as lively as the pleasure found within it.
Bayonne, NJ is out now through http://www.mikeparadine.com/
Pete RingMaster 3/02/2016
Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright
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