KEEL - Streets of Rock & Roll CD Review - www.impulsegamer.com -
KEEL
Streets of Rock & Roll

 

CD Information

Label: Frontier Records
Reviewer: Edwin Millheim
Review Date: Feb 2008

9.1

out of 10

 

 

Having known Ron for a little while and even sitting around a camp fire with Donna and Shael while Ron played an acoustic guitar and sang some of the songs he was working on at the time was a true honor. A surprisingly solid down to earth guy and obviously a true artist. He can't hide his love for the music. It may be business, and may be some surprisingly hard work, but the music is a life time not a past time. It's great to see him continuing what he does best, even better with Keel as a band Rocking the rafters of the world. Giving a listen to Keel “Streets Of Rock & Roll,” CD reminds me so much of what I love about Rock.


All Keel photos and Keel album art Copyright (C) KEEL 2010 used with permission

The Labels may fly when Ron Keel's name is bandied about, Rock and Roll, Glam Metal, Country, Southern Rock and plethora of other titles and labels. But the talent and the drive of the man surpasses any label. The talent of all of the guys combined, is the stuff of Rock folk legend. The latest Keel offerings “Streets Of Rock & Roll” has a powerful mix of tunes that combine surprising depth and perhaps the hint of the benefit of maturity and experience. The album opens with a Catchy rock melody “Streets Of Rock & Roll” that brings the surgically skilled guitar duo of Marc Ferrari and Bryan Jay to bare. Sprinkling the song with arps, crescendos, stabs and builds, all the while Dwain Miller's drums keep the beat with pounding underlying animal danger, to alighting into drum kicks and cymbal work that must keep the sticks flying.

The masterful Bass guitar sounds glue things together nicely and are provided by none other than Geno Arce. Who is also an awesome guy who we first had the pleasure of meeting years ago, when he was playing with Iron Horse. Then of course there is Ron Keel, the front man to Keel brings his brand to the band. This vocal Jedi of the music world can bring on the heavy metal rain and in the next instant turns the tide into a rock ballad ( “Does Anybody Believe”) that plays on the emotions. The mind blowing song “Hit The Ground Running” brings on the more classic Keel sounds with an underlying angry menace just underneath the controlled wail that bares the soul.

We are glad to see Keel back, but Keel is more than the cliche full circle story, full circle almost hints at the end of a journey. Hearing what Keel, as a band, brings to the music world once more with this latest album, tells me we will be seeing a lot more of Keel. The journey, much to the benefit of the musical world is far from over.

The CD Keel :Streets Of Rock & Roll is paved with Rock goodness. Do your selves a favor and pick this one up. If you want to download it, check it out on iTunes.

Ron and Keel where to be going on their latest tour, but a certain Earth event in the form of a volcano blowing it's top caused the cancellation of Keel's European tour dates. We threw some interview questions at Ron.

Here we go....

EDWIN: OK, everyone has a little inner geek. We have seen the footage of the Vulcan hand sign and heard the words “Live long and prosper.” from you.... and that's a good thing actually.....so what is the last computer or video game you had the time to play? What's your favorite game?


All Keel photos and Keel album art Copyright (C) KEEL 2010 used with permission

RK: My inner geek is never far from the surface…yes, I’ve been a lifelong “Star Trek” fan and even named one of our albums “The Final Frontier.” I am a workaholic, and rarely slow down long enough, but I have a computerized chess board in my dressing room and make moves while preparing for shows. After three years, I recently finally beat the machine on the Master level right before I walked out on stage, that felt pretty good.

I bought a video game system last fall because there was a game that simulated driving in the U.K., on the wrong side of the road, and I was preparing for a tour of England, Scotland, and Wales which took place last October and November. I didn’t do so well on the game, but logged 1400 actual miles while on tour without an accident or incident, except for one lady I nearly ran over while trying to parallel park on the wrong side of the road.

I’m a football junkie, so the only other game I have is Madden 2010. I like to play once a week if my schedule permits.

EDWIN: What makes Ron Keel Happy?

When things go right. I enjoying conquering challenges and achieving difficult goals – making dreams come true has become a way of life for me. I love my work, and feel fortunate that my work ethic, combined with a certain amount of luck and perseverance, has enabled me to attain some measure of success in my profession.

Singing well is a huge rush. I sing every day, and have been singing every day for decades – sometimes it’s work, sometimes it’s magic, and on those occasions when the spirit is with you there’s nothing like it. The satisfaction I get from writing a good song is extremely rewarding – I’ve been writing and creating music all my life, and I appreciate those rare moments when you realize you’ve created something special.

EDWIN: What makes Ron Keel Not So Happy?

RK: It takes a lot to get me down. I try to see the positive in every situation. Pain is part of life, and when it happens to me I’m fortunate that I can channel it into music and turn it around.

EDWIN: When did you know you wanted to be in the music business? How did you cultivate that goal?

RK: I never wanted to be in the music business – I’m a singer, a songwriter, a performer, a storyteller. The business is a necessary evil, a storm I’ve learned to navigate through in order to make a living being me. I believe I am genetically artistic – both of my parents were very creative in a number of ways – and I focused that creativity on music at a very early age because I was inspired by rock & roll. I immersed myself in music, learning to play the drums and guitar while trying to sing, putting bands together with friends at school, going on the road at a very early age. It’s been a lifelong obsession – a blessing and a curse – but it’s more than what I do, it’s what I am.

EDWIN: Tell us about your first experience on any stage.

RK: I was just as nervous my first time at Madison Square Garden as I was playing for free hot dogs at my first backyard party. One of the most incredible experiences – the day I feel like I “made it” – I was 14 years old, and my band was playing a Halloween dance at the Arizona Retarded Children’s Home (A.R.C.H.). (Writers note, this is what the home was actually called then) Those kids were so appreciative, so full of love and so thrilled that we cared enough to play for them – that is a very powerful feeling that has helped sustain me for decades now.

EDWIN: You have phenomenal stage presence and stage movement skills...is that something you worked on? Or is that just you being you?

RK: That’s me giving the audience what I would like to see if I were a member of the audience. It starts with your mental vision of who you’d like to be, and then you learn to translate that vision into physical movements, mannerisms, and expressions. I also try to maintain a balance between choreography and spontaneity – half of it needs to be thought out and requires concentration and focus – but the other half has to be natural, just having fun and rolling with the moments.

EDWIN: We all know the old saying.... Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll. How true is that?

RK: I’m sure it depends on the person. Sexual promiscuity is not in anyone’s job description, but I’ll guarantee you there are a lot of doctors and lawyers that are fucking everything in sight while writing their own prescriptions for pain killers and lining up a rail of cocaine – it doesn’t take a rock star to do that.

I’m no angel, and I’ve enjoyed the best sex and drugs rock & roll has to offer, but for me it’s always been about the music first and foremost. A spirit of rebellion is almost a prerequisite in my field, and sometimes that goes hand with the decadence and hedonistic nature of rock & roll. Part of the audience’s fascination with this lifestyle is what happens on the wild side, and I can respect and appreciate that without getting out of control.

EDWIN: Back in the 80's you and Gene Simmons made the press rounds on talk shows speaking out against censorship. The both of you are eloquent and intelligent speakers, great spokespersons for Rock and Roll and such a cause....do you think censorship is still a danger now?

RK: More so than ever, because our freedoms are being systematically taken from us. And what you hear on TV and radio is controlled by a small group of people who have no creative or artistic instincts and don’t care about the cultural implications of their decisions. The internet is the new frontier for creative expression, and it’s a double-edged sword – it’s a wonderful outlet for all artists and all genres, but that over-saturation dilutes everyone’s ability to succeed. In other words, instead of a hundred acts selling millions of albums, there are millions of acts selling hundreds of albums.

EDWIN: Now when we are talking censorship, we are not talking about a sticker that says parental advisory about strong language....or are they the same to you?

RK: Censorship is censorship. People who claim authority regulating or restricting what we express and how we express it. Whether they’re labeling it or suppressing it, the intent and the results are the same.

EDWIN: Whose idea was it to get KEEL back together?

RK: The nucleus of the band – guitarists Marc Ferrari & Bryan Jay, drummer Dwain Miller, and myself – has remained close and discussed the possibility of a reunion from time to time. I had actually abandoned the notion and finally come to terms that it was never gonna happen, and of course that’s when it happened.

EDWIN: Was it an easy choice for all concerned, or was it more of a process of...well this and this has to be in place and such and such has to happen....what are some of the things that took place to make it happen?

RK: Everything had to be right before we pulled the trigger. All four of us had to be in agreement, and we had to have the right business opportunities to proceed – what good would it be to reunite if we didn’t have any gigs?! It really took a booking agent – Sullivan Bigg at Bigg Time Entertainment – who was also a KEEL fan and who believed in the band, and had the power to make things happen. He was able to confirm major festival appearances across the U.S., and that was the juice we needed to make the commitment necessary to move forward.

EDWIN: It is wonderful to see Geno Arce on board. He is a truly great guy and very talented. Was it a no brainer on making the choice to invite him on? How was that decided?

RK: KEEL’s new bassist Geno Arce has been with me for almost twelve years now, through all the IronHorse days and even before that. You’re right, he’s a great guy and a very close friend and that goes a long way with me. Bryan & Marc had met him and jammed on stage with him when IronHorse passed through Southern California in 2002, and a lot of my fans and KEEL fans were already familiar with Geno because of our history together. So it was a no brainer, nobody else was discussed or considered. I didn’t even ask Geno if he wanted the gig – after talking it over with the other guys, I just called him and said “You are the new bass player in KEEL.” It was a great feeling to make that call, and from day one Geno has brought an incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm to the band.

EDWIN: This latest album, KEEL: Streets Of Rock & Roll..without sounding cliche....really rocks! How much of a collaboration was this album in terms of songs and music arrangements?

RK: It was a total team effort – Marc, Bryan and I collaborated more on the songwriting this time than ever before. There were a couple of reasons for that – one was because we were mature enough to put our egos aside and enjoy working together, and the other was because of the technology available to us now that we didn’t have back in the day. One of us could come up with an idea, send an MP3 to someone’s phone, we could write on the run, we could get together long distance with video conferencing, and all this technology has made it easier to create together. The entire creative process was a blast, there were no disagreements or debates, we just went with our hearts and our guts and ended up in the same place with a very special album that we can really enjoy and be proud of.

EDWIN: For the live shows, do you all experiment with the song arrangements a bit or is it pretty much right from the albums?

RK: We do the best we can to represent the song in its proper context – I don’t see the reasoning behind working so hard to create a great song and a great recording, and then doing it different live. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

EDWIN: Will we be seeing more KEEL?

RK: No, I think we’ll keep our clothes on for the remainder of our career.

EDWIN: Donna, Shael and I always enjoy seeing you, doing a gig or otherwise, and on that note, where can our readers see about any tour dates and plans?

RK: Due to the recent volcanic eruptions in Iceland, we’ve just had to reschedule our European trip for September, when we plan to hit several countries. We have some East Coast dates in June, and we’re trying to cover as much ground as possible. We just go where they send us, and a lot of that is out of our hands – it’s up to the talent buyers and promoters to realize that KEEL is a valuable asset to any bill that consists of quality commercial hard rock acts. We invite the fans to keep up with us on-line at http://ronkeel.com, http://keelnation.com, http://facebook.com/ronkeel, http://twitter.com/ronkeel, and http://youtube.com/keeltv  - and keep rockin’ on the streets of rock & roll!

Have fun, play games...
Enjoy music

Edwin Millheim
U.S Editor
Impulse Gamer






 
 



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