Imagine if you will, the year is 1975 and the AOR (Album Orientated Rock) sound is born thanks to the minds of bands like; Led Zeppelin, Mountain, Grand Funk Railroad, and Deep Purple to name a few and somehow it is been revived from a band that are carrying the spirit of the genre. A new project in the form of a trio from the realms of three artists who worked with bands including; UFO, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, and the Blue Man Group to name a few, will make you realize that this is a heavy rocking adventure that you, as a listener, is about to embark on.
Red Zone Rider are bringing the sound and carrying the raw energy and force of the genre by creating a blistering yet incendiary debut this year to make you get the records out of the cabinet’s to go on a special journey. The trio considers Vinnie Moore on guitar, Kelly Keeling on Lead Vocals, Organ and Bass, and Scot Coogan on Drums. The trio is like magic between the three-piece.
And Vinnie’s guitar playing just hits you the moment he takes it to the sounds of Metal, Hard Rock, Classical, and the Blues rolled into one as Kelly Keeling, in which his voice at times reminded me of David Coverdale, Roger Taylor, and Leslie West while Scot himself carries the force on the drums and making sure that both Moore and Keeling are in top gear and in full power. With the pummeling homage to the sounds of Leslie West and thanks to Keeling’s voice, you could tell that the spirit of Mountain’s music of Mississippi Queen, is in there with Vinnie’s heavy chords, solo and riffs that captures the harder rock, is soon going to become a live favorite among them on By the Rainbow’s End.
Opener, Hell No, begins with a sliding Jimmy Page-like intro before getting into the heavy bluesy powder keg riffs and powerful virtuoso workout exercise solo along with Keeling’s vocals both in front and backing fit well and at times it reminded me of fast-driven touch version of Procol Harum’s Long Gone Geek and out of Bad Company’s Straight Shooter-era. Red Zone Rider shows their softer side on the relaxing and comforting composition, Cloud of Dreams.
It has an angelic and romantic view of talking with a loved one on what kind of dream they had while they were asleep as the vocals, organ and soul-like guitar rhythm is soaring and touching while going into the highest note on the fret to reach up to the top of the grand canyon along with the adventures into space with driven organ and Vinnie’s soaring sounds into the milky way and finding the answers on a spiritual journey with Obvious.
Meanwhile, the sing-along touches on The Hand That Feeds You, with thunderous drum patterns and the eruptive solo and riffs come into swing, has a wonderful homage to Saxon’s Strong Arm of the Law as Vinnie’s roaring sliding elements of the heavy blues but with the Hard Rock touches of Kelly’s vocals going into the mind of Ian Gillian, is right at home on Never Trust a Woman.
The band then go into the road on the highway with a Soul/Funk groove as if you can imagine this performed to a mind-blowing morning service at church to get the crowd in the mood with a lot of Organ sounds and the shuffling rhythm sounds as well on Save It. The organ that Kelly plays has a lot of moving he has in his head which is evidential on the ¾ waltz-turned-soul-hard rock elements on finding out the truth and the person’s real hope is with There’s a Knowing and the elements of going back in the harder material with the sliding sounds coming in again with the dosage of Led Zeppelin and bits of the Steve Miller Band flown into the mix on Hit the Road.
Then, the sounds of Deep Purple and the homage to the late great Jon Lord is in full circle and you can tell Keeling is paying tribute Lord’s powerful combination of bringing the Purple sound and Vinnie’s Blackmore-sque surroundings is a unexpected moment with There’s a Knowing. And then just before you know the sun goes down for the night, Red Zone Rider brings the riding into the highway by ending it on a high note with the Count’s 77.
Red Zone Rider will bring smiles on faces for fans that admired the sounds of the genre of; Blues Rock, Hard Rock, and the resurrection of AOR. For me, I had an amazing listening about 5 times of their debut. I can imagine myself driving in my ’58 Corvette as if it was 1976 all over again as I put the 8-track of Red Zone Rider’s music on the deck and cranking it up to maximum volume from start to finish of a trio that know the two genres and bringing Classic Rock to a whole new level of old and a new generation of real good music.