LILLIAN AXE

"One Night in the Temple" (CME; 2014)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I'll be honest here. You're reading a two-and-a-half guitarsaw review for an album that easily deserves three guitarsaws. Maybe more. The reason for that is pure and simple: Reviewer's prejudice. You see, I'm not a big fan of acoustic or unplugged albums and this CD/DVD set from Lillian Axe is just that: An acoustic performance of twenty of their big hits and hidden gems performed live in a tiny theater. It's just not my cup of tea.

That being said, "One Night in the Temple" is one of most intimate recordings I've ever heard. It's as though the band is playing expressly for you and a group of your friends. The songs seem more personal, more true to themselves, more honest. You'll really feel that the band is talking directly to you during their in-between song banter and the musical performance feels more like a sing-along than a rock concert. It's exhilarating in a way ... if you like that acoustic stuff.

The well-packaged set include two CDs and a DVD that adds much more discussion to the mix in addition to the live show. Really interesting if you're a Lillian Axe fan; not so much if you're not that familiar with them.

Overall, it's a really nice collection for fans of this well-respected band and even those who are just passing fans will find the intimate recording intriguing and strangely transporting.

I just like my live recordings a little louder. But that's my problem, not Lillian Axe's.

For more information on this band check out http://www.lillianaxe.com.

"Waters Rising" (Locomotive; 2007)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

It's seems that every hard rock act that began in the 1980s has come back in recent years hoping to cash in. So many times you only get one original member and that's the case here as guitarist Steve Blaze is the sole original member of Lillian Axe left in the band. 

All too often recent outputs by returning 80s bands tend to be mere shells of what once was. However, this band and their output might actually shatter some of that thinking. "Waters Rising" is a commendable effort at combining some of the band's old sound with a slightly different direction. That direction is generally heavier and more complex as well. 

It took me about four or five listens for all the contents of "Waters Rising" to sink in because the band is really trying to do a great deal here. Songs like "Antarctica" and the title track are real go-for-the-throat pieces that certainly don't play it safe. Tracks like "Fear of Time" and "Deep in the Black" hear the band masterfully controlling pace changes and styles. On this CD, I think the band transcends all that I have heard from them in the past. They throw a lot of ideas out there and at times they are combining hard rock, metal and progressive music in a rather relentless manner. 

You know what? I think they have a winner here. I might have alternated some of the heavier tracks with some of the lighter tracks in the sequencing and a few parts left me feeling a little dry but, all in all, this album is slowly making me think it's pretty darn good. It may even be doubly good for an older band who never got much respect back in the day. 

Your typical fan of hard rock may not be huge on this because it does tread more into metal and progressive waters some, but the band has an undeniable sense of melody and timing as well. I have a feeling that come December I will still playing this one on a regular basis.

For more information on this band check out http://www.lillianaxe.com.

"Live 2002" (Red and Gold International; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As a rock'n'roll fan who hadn't heard much of Lillian Axe, I must admit that I was surprised how much I enjoyed "Live 2002," the band's first ever live album. I'd heard the hits, of course ("Misery Love Company," "All's Fair in Love + War") and knew that the band drew a rather large fan base and had a strong reputation. But I hadn't ever really got into the band. After hearing "Live 2002," I plan to do a little more exploring.

"Live 2002" starts off with a bang with the above-mentioned hits, then offers a stunning nineteen more over the course of two CDs. The songs range from the full-on rockers to the slower, more ballad-like tunes. Throughout, however, the members of Lillian Axe manage to display their exceptional musical prowess and their onstage charisma while delivering an impressive collection of well-written songs. And the song selection covers the band's entire history from their self-titled MCA release in 1988 to 1999's "Fields of Yesterday." (For the record, "Live 2002" was recorded in Houston, Texas on May 4th, 2002.)

The production of this double-CD set is just raw enough to give the CD a truly live feel. If there are overdubs here, I'd say there aren't very many of them. There's a dedication to the fans inside the CD insert that reads, in part, "We worked very hard on this to give the best representation of a live show, filled with loud, intense music and equally loud insane fans." That's a pretty apt description for this CD. And that's good enough for me.

LILLIAN AXE: Steve Blaze - lead guitars and vocals; Ron Taylor - lead vocals; Darrin DeLatte - bass guitar; Sam Poitevent - guitar and vocals; Ken Koudelka - drums. 

For more information, check out http://www.lillianaxe.com

"Love and War" (Metal Mind; 1989 / 2008)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

This sophomore effort by Lillian Axe was the point where they began to spread their wings out musically and really began to establish their own style. They were still a hair metal/hard rock band with huge melodies, yet they began to add more elements of progressive music. 

The result is that the styles complement each other and Lillian Axe were playing a style that was at least fairly unique for 1989. Even though the lyrics were standard for the day, the overall feel was perhaps a bit more serious than the other big-hair topped, spandex wearing bands. Lillian Axe had a good grasp on how to get as much as possible out of every note, changing and turning every way they could. Thatís saying something for the time, as I think too many of their peers were only too glad to crank out something that was light, easy and oftentimes very repetitive. 

The overall feel with "Love and War" is that this was a tight release for a band at any stage in their career but it's perhaps even more impressive here considering this was only the band's second album. 

There are times that "Love and War" reminds me of Dokken and Def Leppard, but Lillian Axe was a little more involved than those two bands. 

Again, Metal Mind has delivered another quality re-issue that sounds great, comes with a nice booklet and goes for a decent price.

For more information, check out http://www.lillianaxe.com

"Lillian Axe" (Metal Mind; 1988 / 2008)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

I always think of 1988 as possibly the first year of a real outpouring of hair metal/hard rock bands. Most major labels were really starting to pick up a lot of these bands although they didnít always give a lot of thought as to how to market them. 

Louisianaís Lillian Axe had the look that a lot of other bands had and the lyrics were very typical of the style and the times. However, even on their debut, they obviously had a bit more playing ability than the majority of the pack who were swarming around this style, even though the overall writing is somewhat typical of the upbeat, party-going type hard rock that was peaking by this point. 

Lillian Axe also had Ratt guitarist Robin Crosby produce this album so that connection was thrown out a bit, but they didnít really need it because the album stands pretty well on its own merit. 

I always thought this band a had smooth flow to their music and -- even when they do slower songs -- they tend to be low on sap and a little higher on style. 

The band would soon grow after this album, but itís a nice start. This CD had been fetching high prices in recent years on eBay, but now the good people from Metal Mind have re-issued it for a reasonable price and it includes a rather thick lyric book.

For more information, check out http://www.lillianaxe.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2015 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12 Feb 2017 13:05:51 -0500.