KEEL – Streets Of Rock & Roll [Japan Edition +1] Out Of Print
It has been a long time since KEEL has given us a new album. Their last album ‘VI: BACK IN ACTION’ was released in ’98 without much fanfare. 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.
How does this 2011 full reunion effort “Streets Of Rock & Roll” stack up?
A lot better than you might expect. In fact, this is one the best albums they’ve recorded ever.
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 Marc Ferrari and Brian Jay 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 and he sounds better than ever.
That’s no surprise because Ron has been busy and trained with his own career post-Keel with bands like Fair Game, Iron Horse and his solo band.
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.
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 Californian Metal guitar sound from Ferrari and Jay, but the song as a whole is another Melodic Hard Rock affair with a nice set of lush harmonies around the chorus.
The lighting fast riffs in “Come Hell Or Highwater” turns the page wonderfully as the twin guitar duo once again gear jam things up nicely to make this track one of the heaviest songs on the record. Ron sings his heart out on this one.
Moving back into the ’80s style is the AOR/Melodic Rock of “Push & Pull”, one of my favorites of the album. Very catchy song, great melodic riff with a solid hook.
Every rock 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 Melodic Hard Rock with “No More Lonely Nights”. This song has some serious guitar work that slices right threw the speakers and the song builds right into the powerful harmonized chorus, Ron really shines vocally as this is one of his best performances. A killer track, another favorite.
“The Devil May Care” has a great guitar job and a monster 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.
“Gimme That” has that ’80s raise-your-hands feel, what a great tune this would be live. This is the kind of stuff that is the heartbeat of the arena rock.
“Hold Steady” it’s a good solid track, melodic and intense, a very cool midtempo with a fat rhythm section and a great solo by Ferreira.
Another standout ’80s arena rocker is “Live”. A melodic anthem 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? This one has ‘hit single’ written all over it.
“Brothers In Blood” returns again to that typical ’80s californian 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. Here 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.
Japanese bonus track “Reason To Rock”, as title says, is a catchy melodic rocker with an awesome chorus, fantastic backing vocals and a rippin’ guitar solo. Another highlight.
With this new CD, KEEL didn’t try to reinvent the wheel, or change their style / sound. And that’s what the true fans of the eighties want.
“Streets Of Rock & Roll” is a -made in heaven- comeback for KEEL. That is mainly because Ron seems not to be looking for modernity, instead he draws inspiration from his four ’80s classic albums and writes the most amazing follow up to the self-titled 1987 album.
Better than that, I think this is the best KEEL album to date.
It’s diverse, powerful and melodic all in one. I like every song and there really isn’t a weak link of filler track.
This a true band performance that fires on all cylinders.
Ron Keel’s voice sounds better than ever, surprisingly with the years, he has improved his modulation, fitting his pipes to each song style.
Big props goes out to the twin guitar duo of Marc Ferrari and Brian Jay, they do an excellent job here hooking your brain around some fiery yet melodic guitar solos and killer riffs all throughout the record.
Overall, the quality of the songwriting, musicianship, and production on KEEL’s “Streets Of Rock & Roll” is second to none.
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.
01 – Streets Of Rock & Roll
02 – Hit The Ground Running
03 – Come Hell Or High Water
04 – Push & Pull
05 – Does Anybody Believe
06 – No More Lonely Nights
07 – The Devil May Care
08 – Looking For A Good Time
09 – Gimme That
10 – Hold Steady
11 – Live
12 – Brothers In Blood
13 – Reason To Rock [Japan bonus track]
Ron Keel – Vocals
Marc Ferrari – Guitar
Bryan Jay – Guitar
Geno Arce – Bass
Dwain Miller – Drums
Out Of Print: