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Ken Tamplin And Friends - "Wake The Nations"
Now And Then Records 2003

A computer drum sample ornament of the opener "The Story Of Love" is quite a shocking leeway. But a few seconds later, a massive drum attack, led by powerful drive voltage of a guitar riff accompanied with Hammond organ puts everything under the pure hard rock flag. All of the songs are compact compositions with expressive choruses where Ken dominates with his incredible vocal performance (e.g. "We've Jihad Enough", "Falling Houses", "Mystery", Saints And Heroes" and the title song). The title song is followed by a real blues masterpiece "God In Heaven". With Ken's great vocal involvement, the atmosphere is raised even higher in that song. In my opinion, this guy should do also do a pure blues record in the future. This genre is made for his voice!!! Sometimes you can get the impression that one of those great gospel singers is "cryin' out" his emotions.

Ken gathered a really nice company of shredding guitarists to work with. Enter into the kingdom of guitar dreams! What a great diversity between the 18 songs we've got! Ken's fresh ideas and the input of nine different guitar names (the nine "Martians") that feature Scott Van Zen (L.A. "Guitar Wars" winner with his great solo lightnings, especially that one in the title song), Howie Simon (Jeff Scott Soto), Marty Friedman (Megadeth/Cacophony), Doug Adrich (Whitesnake/Dio), Kee Marcelo (Europe), Reb Beach (Winger/Whitesnake), Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big/Poison), Jeff Watson (Night Ranger), Mattias Eklund (Freak Kitchen), Pete Lesperance (Harem Scarem) and Stevie Salas are more than enough to guarantee complete victory for this release. All of the guests are perfectly adapted and to the structure of the compositions. The guitar solos are beautiful ornaments that fit perfectly into every single song. Every piece has its own unique feel. The songs carry a great diversity that is captured inside the guitar wizardry and riffing done by the mentioned virtuosos. "7 Eleven People" is also a very interesting piece, with a very "lazy" opening that becomes very much alive later on, especially when the Friedman and Beach soloing crossfire begins to blaze. O.K. now, who's the rest of the band? Glen Sobel on drums (Impellitteri/Beautiful Creatures) and Daniel Pearson (Coolio/Jennifer Lopez) on bass make a nice and unmistakable pair here. A groovy, funky living bass line and punching drums (over 78 minutes of Glen's full strength bombing) are tuned into a very dynamic conversation. The keys are done by another Impellitteri man Ed Roth (who also worked with Glenn Hughes and with Mya). All instruments contribute equally and hang in a perfect balance (also concerning the production) through the entire record.

Ken's great vocal abilities are tastefully harmonized by added back vocal lines. This gives even more depth to the entire sound (for example "Waiting For Your Love", "The Man With The Plan", "Piece On Earth"). He's constantly searching for improvisation space inside his vocal lines. Feel the full power and shouting freedom of a Shout shouter. He is capable of doing really thin lines that can suddenly turn into rough eruptions. And this brings a great soulful energy input into the music.

The new album is exploding with emotions. An all-star team along with Ken Tamplin's vocal performance offers hard rock at its best. "Wake The Nations" is surely the first highlight of this music genre in 2003. This album is done with love and passion, with pure feeling, just by following one's own heart. Convincing all the way! A highly recommended one!

Author:   Aleš

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