Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ryan Roxie - Imagine Your Reality

Review by Mike Kimmel

Through lo these many years I've been fortunate enough to listen to a metric buttload of music, there have been two factors that have presented themselves as actual factual predictors.

First, live albums are highly anticipated, quickly forgotten efforts that rarely live up to what was expected.

Second, band members spinning off and releasing their own solo albums or an entirely different band effort. Sometimes that "entirely different band effort" sloughs off to an entirely different genre as well.

Of course there are exceptions to just about any rule you can cite. For live albums, well, check these to shoot my idea that live albums never live up to expectations: Rare Earth – In Concert; The Who – Live at Leeds; Pat Traverse Band – Go for What You Know; Cheap Trick – Live at Budokan; Frampton Comes Alive; Bob Seger – Live Bullet; Humble Pie (yes, the band from whence Frampton emerged multiplatinum-victorious) – Rockin’ the Fillmore; Lou Reed – Rock and Roll Animal; The Kinks – One For the Road; KISS – Alive!, and several more.

Now to solos. I've been an on again/off again Stones fan for years – more off than on, I have to admit. Then individual members started putting out solos. Didn't like Jagger's or Wyman's solo stuff. I liked Ronnie Wood's stuff quite a bit, and I love Keith Richards's efforts.

In 1978 when the four members of KISS each released their own solo album, I enjoyed bits and pieces. But the four pieces apart fell decidedly short of the group combined as a whole.

And there are a bunch of other examples to point to, but I've already wasted too much time before getting to the root of the issue – and that is Ryan Roxie's new solo release Imagine Your Reality, which is a 10-track rock-and-roll dustup* from start to finish.
* - hockey term. 

Released on June 1, 2018, Imagine Your Reality is already sold out at and the price has jumped three bucks from when I preordered it.

From the rocking opener - "Big Rock Show" (which reminded me a bit of Faster Pussycat at first. No, that's not a bad thing) to the much slower closing track "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" and all points in between, Roxie's first honest to goodness solo release shows why he belongs.

Only four songs into the disc, there are already three really memorable ones. It's not that "Over and Done" is bad (in fact, it has some of the album's better lyrics) – just that the opener, "Big Rock Show", the cover of "California Man" (featuring Robin Zander), and "To Live and Die in L.A." overshadow it somewhat.

For the last several years, Roxie has been Alice Cooper's guitarist and collaborator. For an interesting example, check out Alice Cooper (with Ryan Roxie) – "Suffragette City"

In "Over and Done", he wants to make sure the relationship is over. "I'm half the man I thought I was. Single now but twice as lost. I don't think I'll be coming home tonight."

Ryan Roxie – "Over and Done"

The song title "California Man" might look familiar to you. Well, Roy Wood wrote it, and The Move did do the tune years and years and years ago.

Cheap Trick covered the tune years and years ago. Ryan Roxie invited Cheap Trick lead vocalist Robin Zander to guest on Roxie's take of the Roy Wood track.

With Cheap Trick as one of his major influences, it's not surprising that Roxie's version is really good and fairly true to that of Cheap Trick. Roxie and Zander trade vocals at points, and it's a really good remake of a really good song.

Ryan Roxie – "California Man"

"To Live and Die in LA" is another excellent cut, chronicling how you live and die while trying to make it. A perceived quick way is to cut the throats of the people you've worked with and stab those who helped you in the back. This official lyric video will explain it better.

Ryan Roxie – "To Live and Die in L.A."

"The Uh-oh Song" is fun. He just wants to hear his companion "…say these words; Uh-oh!" And if you bought the vinyl rather than the CD, side one just ended for you. Not to worry. Side two kicks off with my Alternate Favorite**.
** - my adaptation of a hockey term, since there's no more hockey till late September. Gotta get a fix somehow. 

Listen closely to track six, and you'll find out he doesn't "…give a damn about the Me Generation." "A bunch of little punks who need to take their medication."

Track seven – "Look Me in the Eye" -  is what you always want someone you suspect is lying to you to do, right?

Number eight offers a bit of advice to the lovelorn in the audience; "When your brain is on vacation your heart's in trouble."

Only two tracks from the finish line now (in deference to the Triple Crown winning horse Justify).

"Somethin' you said, baby. It's stuck in my head, baby. We can be friends someday. Never. Never. Nevermind Me." Another one of the rockers.

The finale starts out much more slowly than the rest of the CD, with just an acoustic guitar and Roxie's vocals. Then it kicks into a bit more of a rocker than you probably expected from the start of the tune.

Listen to the album all the way through one time, and when the last cut "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" kicks into gear, so does the bass. As soon as that happens, I realized that the bass had been really cool throughout the release. I guess it's just not "in your face" enough to drive that point home until the last song when it DOES jump a bit into your face.

It's definitely worth the time and effort to pick this one up. You'll see why Cooper hangs onto Roxie as a band member/guitarist.

 -Mike Kimmel

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