Best Classic Rock Album 2017, #3 : RONNIE MONTROSE feat. Ricky Phillips & Eric Singer – 10×10 (2017)
Near the end of the year, it’s time to recap about the best 2017 releases, by category.
Fortunately, this excellent album was finally released.
Before his untimely death in 2012, renowned American rock guitarist RONNIE MONTROSE began recording an ambitious passion project with bassist Ricky Phillips (Styx, Bad English) and drummer Eric Singer (Kiss, Alice Cooper). The idea was to record 10 songs with 10 different singers and call the album “10×10“.
Sadly, Montrose was unable to see the album through during his lifetime. Instead, Phillips made it his mission to finish the songs by enlisting a small army of Ronnie’s musician friends to record the vocals and the guitar solos for each track, resulting in a terrific CD to be released tomorrow.
Phillips says the songs represent some of Montrose’s best work. “His songs still have the fire and angst of a young rebel, but with some added wisdom and foresight voiced in his own unique language of ‘guitar-speak.’ On 10×10, we hear Ronnie at the top of his game, from the opening crunch guitar of ‘Heavy Traffic,’ all the way to the closing song, ‘I’m Not Lying,’ which was Ronnie’s tip of the hat to his friend Robin Trower.”
This project dates back to 2003, when Montrose called in bassist Ricky Phillips and drummer Eric Singer to tackle a power-trio project that would rock harder than anything he had done in years.
The idea was to record ten songs with ten different singers and call the album “10×10”. He brought Phillips and Singer to Doug Messenger’s studio in North Hollywood, and the three musicians set up to record live — no pre-production rehearsals and no overdubs — and knocked out ten basic tracks in two or three days.
Sadly, Montrose was unable to see the album through during his lifetime and it quite possibly may never have been heard beyond a few Montrose-family friends. Montrose did manage to record some of his chosen vocalists — such as Sammy Hagar and Edgar Winter — but finances, schedules, and a frightening illness conspired to slow and eventually stop progress.
We can all thank Phillips, Singer, Leighsa Montrose and Rhino Records now, because the album that appeared destined to be lost to time is now available for pre-order.
Phillips made it his mission to finish the songs by enlisting a small army of Ronnie’s musician friends to record the vocals and the guitar solos for each song, completing the album over the course of recent years.
And the cast is nothing short than stellar.
“10×10” features really inspired pairings, like ex Deep Purple singer Glenn Hughes with Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen (“Still Singin’ With The Band”) and shouter Sammy Hagar (ex Van Halen, Montrose) with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather (“Color Blind”) in a rocker to die for.
Legendary blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa also showcases his guitar talents on the track “The Kingdom’s Come Undone” with Ricky Phillips on vocals.
A few artists both sing and play, like Edgar Winter (“Love Is An Art”) and Tommy Shaw (Styx) on “Strong Enough”, another album highlight.
I love to hear on record again Y&T’s Dave Meniketti delivering a scorching solo on the opener ‘Heavy Traffic’, a track showing as well a fantastic Eric Martin (Mr. Big) in this classic rock role.
You can’t miss for sure the wonderful ‘One Good Reason’ featuring the underrated Bruce Turgon (ex Foreigner) and his killer bluesy vocal performance accompanied by Aerosmith’s guitar Brad Whitford.
An for the end we have in ‘I’m Not Lying’ no other than Gregg Rolie (ex Journey, Santana), Tom Gimbel (Foreigner, Jon Butcher) & Lawrence Gowan (Styx) for a magnificent finale.
Hey folks, we are facing one of the best albums of the year here, at least in the Classic Rock field.
This is pure rock n’ roll, made with blood and soul by the ‘who’s who’ in this genre’s contemporary history.
01. “Heavy Traffic”
featuring Eric Martin & Dave Meniketti
02. “Love Is An Art”
featuring Edgar Winter & Rick Derringer
03. “Color Blind”
featuring Sammy Hagar & Steve Lukather
04. “Still Singin’ With The Band”
featuring Glenn Hughes, Phil Collen & Jimmy “Z” Zavala
05. “Strong Enough”
featuring Tommy Shaw
06. “Any Minute”
featuring Mark Farner & Ricky Phillips
07. “The Kingdom’s Come Undone”
featuring Ricky Phillips & Joe Bonamassa
08. “One Good Reason”
featuring Bruce Turgon & Brad Whitford
09. “Head On Straight”
featuring Davey Pattison & Marc Bonilla
10. “I’m Not Lying”
featuring Gregg Rolie, Tom Gimbel & Lawrence Gowan
Ronnie Montrose (Montrose, Gamma) – guitars
Ricky Phillips (Styx, Bad English) – bass, vocals
Eric Singer (KISS, Alice Cooper) – drums