"Wake the Nations" (Now & Then; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Veteran singer Ken Tamplin has sung for everyone from Foreigner to Geezer Butler to Peter Frampton and is well-known for his guitar prowess as well. His long career has led to some interesting friendships, which leads to some fantastic guest performances on "Wake the Nations." Performing on the CD with Tamplin are:
Reb Beach (Whitesnake/Winger/Dokken)
Doug Aldridge (Whitesnake/Dio/House Of Lords/etc)
Kee Marcello (Europe)
Richie Kotzen (Mr. Big and Poison)
Marty Friedman  (Megadeth)
Jeff Watson (Night Ranger)
Mattias Eklundh (Freak Kitchen, currently signed to Steve Vai's label)
Pete Lesperence (Harem Scarem)
Jeff Scott Soto (Yngwie Malmsteen/Talisman)
Scott Van Zen (LA Guitar Wars Winner)
Howie Simon (Jeff Scott Soto)
Stevie Salas
Glen Sobel (Beautiful Creatures/Impelliteri)
Daniel Pearson (Coolio/Jennifer Lopez)
Ed Roth (Glenn Hughs/Mya/Impelliteri)
Philip Bardowell/Background Vocals


Tamplin's a vocalist for all styles, but the style here is melodic rock in the vein of Balance of Power, Axe, KISS and his cousin, Sammy Hagar. Some songs are harder than others but none really ventures into what today is called "heavy metal." "Hard rock" is a much better description and it all sounds good. Hard rock is what Ken Tamplin does best.

The lyrics are surprisingly sophisticated and meaningful, and many pertain to issues of today. Occasionally, though, they get a little silly. Track #2 is entitled "We've Jihad Enough." And, really, is the aggravation of people talking on cell phones while driving worth writing and recording a whole song? I wouldn't think so but Tamplin apparently does: "Cell Phone Freaks" explores just that.

The occasional silly lyrics aside, the songwriting throughout "Wake the Nations" is strong and the production above average. The guest appearances, as you might imagine, are often a highlight but let's not detract from the impressive talent of Mr. Tamplin, whose rich, soulful voice seems to fit every song exactly, even though every song is a little different than the last.

Fans of melodic hard rock, Ken Tamplin or any of the guests above will find something to like on "Wake the Nations."

Note: The actual CD release, contains 18 songs while this advance contained just 15. In addition, the final release will contain two bonus videos while the advance contained only "Falling Houses."

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"Tamplin" (Benson; 1994)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Ken Tamplin returns to his band of four to produce another guitar driven release. From the first guitar lick you know that this is going to be Christian fueled fun from Tamplin. His songs are energetic and guitar driven. He’s also got a great voice to influence his message. Scott Van Zen rips out the fresh solos and when all the elements are combined, you have a solid Christian metal release.

On this CD, Scott Van Zen steps into the shoes that Ken Tamplin usually wears. He plays guitar with power and restraint. I quite enjoy his intros, riffs and solos. Scott has a blues side that shines on “Don’t Let The Sky Fall On Me.” Since this was recorded in 1994, it’s got that Bon Jovi feel to it by way of the stadium favorite that could last for a while with the chorus being sung over and over.

The lyrics are the focus for Ken and his band mates. He has an upbeat libretto and, even though there is a religious theme, it's not all praise and worship. They deal with issues here that we can all relate to; Ken just offers “the way” to relate and communicate versus the way some tend to deal with their problems.

The song “In The Lap Of Legends” mentions every fallen musician from Croce to Stevie Ray Vaughan. It talks about what they were born to do and how Heaven waits for another immortal song. A bonus track closes this disc with some harmonica and blues guitar mixed with Tamplin singing his highest to craft a solid end to “Tamplin.”

Tamplin: Ken Tamplin – lead and backing vocals/rhythm guitar; David Raven – drums; Robert Kent – bass; Scott Van Zen – lead guitar.

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"An Axe to Grind" (Intense; 1990)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Ken Tamplin started Tamplin And Friends by bringing guitar players onto his releases; he did this starting with his 2003 “Wake The Nations” CD. 

I got into Shout (Ken’s Christian metal outfit) when they hit the scene primarily because I was learning guitar and Shout had the best solos for the type of music I was into. I have followed Ken’s career and have always enjoyed his vocal style and range, plus he can play some killer guitar solos too.

Joining Ken on this gitfiddle buffet are:

Mark St. John (Kiss/White Tiger)
Scott Van Zen
Gary Buchanan
Lanny Cordola (Guiffria)
Joey Tafolla (Jag Panzer)
Joe Diorio

Each guitar player rips out a nasty little solo, Ken also mixes his hammer-ons, arpeggios and sweet picking all while taking some traditional Christian music and dousing it with his signature vocals. You know Ken Tamplin when you hear him, it’s unmistakable. This is a guitar player’s soundtrack; it’s got more six string bending than should be allowed by the law.

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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 © 2007 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 28 Aug 2022 14:16:29 -0400.