Wicked Sensation. That was George Lynch’s first post-Dokken “solo” album (the band was called Lynch Mob), and it was incredible. Still is. Great songs, great singing, great gainy tone, great playing and some of the most mind-altering solos you will ever hear.
For me, it’s one of the best albums of that era (no, it’s not “hair band” stuff!).
But one tour later (I saw ’em!), the band was done. Done! That sucked!
The next few iterations of the Lynch Mob were good and I enjoyed them all, but it was never “the same.” Of course, that’s always the case, isn’t it, when bands can’t seem to stick together.
Flash forward 20 years – almost 20 damn years! – to this year, and the original Lynch Mob is back. Sort of – the original songwriting team of George and Oni Logan are back together: original Lynch Mob drummer Mick Brown (also formerly of Dokken) now plays with Ted Nugent, and bassist Anthony Esposito now plays with Ace Frehley. Replacing them are Marco Mendoza on bass and Scot Coogan on skins. Both are very good, veteran players. They might even be great, but I’m not qualified to tell!
So the band is different, but would the George-Oni songwriting team make for another Wicked Sensation-ish album? Is it possible?
The answer is a somewhat-qualified yes.
The CD doesn’t necessarily have the “I’m going to kick your a**” fire that guys 20 years younger would have, but it’s really good – good songs, really good singing, and it has a groove. That groove is back, with Oni – which makes me think the Wicked Sensation was less about the rhythm section (nothing against those guys!) but more about how George feeds off Oni.
Here’s my overall impression of Some & Mirrors after about a dozen listens: singing great, guitar-playing great and inspired, good band. Every song leaves you feeling that it’s something familiar, in a good way.
The songs also are fairly diverse. Some sound like they could’ve been on Wicked Sensation or a follow-up album; some sound almost southern or classic rock-ish; some sound like older-school metal. Here’s what George said about how the song-writing process took place (I read this after doing the track-by-track review below):
“There were three major writing sessions for the album and in the first one we created more of a southern-rock-type of material in the vein of Badlands and Allman Brothers. From that session came the title track ‘Smoke And Mirrors,’ which is a favorite of mine of the album. In the second session we wrote material which was more in line with the Wicked Sensation stuff and from that session comes ’21st Century Man,’ which is one of my favorites as well. In the third session we tried to put everything together and we wrote the last couple of songs. There we wrote ‘Let The Music Be Your Master’, which also is one of my favorites.”
He also said this: “Some of the more jammy stuff was done kind of live, like…’Let the Music Be Your Master’ and…Time Keepers.'”
It also needs to be said that this album sounds great, meaning t was engineered and produced really well. All the instruments are big and clear – like they all have their section of “tape.” Love it. Who’s responsible for that? Here’s what George said in a Lords of Metal interview:
LoM: The sound of the new album is very good. Who was responsible for the mixing and production job?
GL: That’s a very difficult question for me because the guy has a completely impossible last name that I can’t remember. We had some big-name producers that we wanted to approach and then we got referred to Mike with his crazy last name. We decided to send out two songs as a try-out and when we got the results back, everybody agreed that we should go for Mike, the unknown guy, instead of the big-name producers.”
Cool story – but there’s no one named Mike [difficult last name] on the CD credits! And yet other people are. A mystery….
Short-ish Track-by-Track Review
No bad tunes on this album so I’m not going to say this or that song is good. Here we go:
1. 21st Century Man
> A Wicked Sensation-ish (the song) riff, even the chorus chord progression sounds Wicked Sensation-ish. There’s a Phil Lynott singing-sounding part (“does anybody remember….” which is cool). Nice break in the middle. Wah on the solo!
2. Smoke and Mirrors
> Begins with an acoustic, also has George playing some tasteful slide.
> Southern rock feel to it, also Wicked Sensation album feel to it.
> Great King’s X-sounding break.
> Struck me that you can hear a lot of guitar strings on this tune – meaning not a lot of distortion, but gain comes in for the lead.
3. Lucky Man
> I don’t know how to characterize this one yet, but it’s cool. Sort of a Lynchified classic rock tune. A slower tune.
4. My Kind of Healer
> An uber-Lynch riff, a Wicked Sensation rhythm-ish riff. Could have been on Wicked Sensation or a subsequent Lynch Mob-with-Oni CD.
5. Time Keepers
> For this I initially wrote “metal song.” It’s definitely metal tune-ish –16th notes, thankfully not 16th-note double kick drums – but Oni’s vocal style keeps it from falling completely into that characterization.
> Also sounds Lynch-Pilson-like, which is a compliment because that was a heck of an album.
6. Revolution Hero
> MXR Blue Box (fuzz, octave down) or similar on the initial riff.
> Very cool beat and riffs. Verse riff is Zep-like.
> Tune reminds me of STP a little.
7. Let the Music Be Your Master
> Great bass throughout. Some vintage guitar tones, Robin Trower-type sounds.
> I want to say it reminds me a little of Lynch-Pilson, but not really. It’s that driving bass line. Or is that Mason-era baritone Lynch?
8. The Fascist (seems like it should be called ‘Hollywood Hero’)
> GREAT singing melody. Got chills (still getting them) when the verse comes in. Yeah Oni! I can just imagine being George, playing this riff and hearing Oni sing over it for the first time…. Awesome!
> In parts it sounds a little Foo Fighters-ish, but in no way does that do the tune justice.
> A part in there reminds me of the “She’s Evil But She’s Mine” intro off Wicked Sensation.
9. Where Do You Sleep at Night
> Jimi-ish riff morphs into a “Will the Sun Rise,” Dokken-sounding (Lynch-sounding) riff.
> Another Classic rock-ish tune.
10. Madly Backwards
> Really good tune, sounds detuned but not in a grunge way.
11. We Will Remain
> Sort of an older-school metal riff, maybe in the European vein. Fast Scorpions, maybe?
12. Before I Close My Eyes
> Another older-school tune. The chorus is ballad-ish, but the song is NOT a ballad. Just don’t know how else to describe it.
13. Man in the Mirror
> A definite Dokken/George-ish tune.
> The vocals make this tune. Great stuff.
So there you go. It’s not as hard as Wicked Sensation, but rocks hard in more of a classic rock sense. At least that’s the impression I’m left with.
The somewhat remarkable thing here is that even though there’s a diverse range of tunes, they all hold together. There’s a consistent thread running through them – a George or George-Oni thread.
You might say “duh!,” but think about it: A new band, new tunes…yet it all works. And they’re all good tunes. Not a dog in there.
I’m stoked for George and the band. I hope they tour (and go on at a reasonable hour for us old folks!) and people get behind them because bands like these don’t come along often anymore, as we all know.
Notable: Jazzy George?
Have any fellow George fans noticed that George has consistently put together killer bands? It’s like jazz cats – they jam with lots of different people, put out records with different bands.
George is like that, but in hard rock. No one else in hard rock does that, at least that immediately occurs to me. I think this is very cool, and as a George fan, I appreciate it!
Notable: On Oni’s Initial Departure
From a recent interview with George:
What prompted Oni to leave Lynch Mob in the first place so many years ago?
George: I came into that band with a lot of expectations because I had the wind at my back coming off the Dokken machine and the success in that band. I set the bar really high and Oni was…he tended to be a little inconsistent live, to say the least. Taking nothing away from him, but I was very short-sighted in allowing the decision to be made to part ways at that point because I lost my writing partner and that’s everything.
Was Robert Mason [the Lynch Mob’s second singer] also a writing partner?
George: Because we were sort of hurting from the live performance aspect, we enlisted Robert to join the band and he was a friggin’ machine. He could sing like a robot with a clean range that never quit. Never had a bad day or anything like that. What was lacking, not to take anything from Robert, but with Oni, we established a chemistry between Oni and myself…. It was a very short-sighted decision and we paid the price. The second record was very weak compared to the first one. It was downhill after that.
> It’s mind-blowing that, per a recent George interview, Oni hasn’t been part of the music biz for a while. Presumably he’s been singing because his unique pipes are intact.
– Monday: George’s Smoke and Mirrors tones and gear! –
Sites That Link to this Post
- WoodyTone! - George Lynch’s Woody Smoke & Mirrors Gear | November 10, 2009