Friday, February 7, 2014
VANDENBERG'S MOONKINGS: "Moonkings"
Label: Mascot Records/Warner 2014
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
The dutch version of guitar virtuoso extraordinaire Adrian 'Adje' Vandenberg (Whitesnake, Teaser, Manic Eden) is back with a brand new young band and old fashioned style. Blimey. We all thought he'd retired his six-string for good after spending the last 15, 16 years as the fat cat judge in various talent contests (I'm not going to mention crap "Idol" though) or as the art-painter, several European galleries planned exhibitions of his work. The turning point came already in 2011, when Adje was asked to write a song for FC Twente, the football club from his hometown of Enschede that had become the champions of the Dutch premier league the year before. Thus the beginning and start of the Moonkings and the though of recording a new album.
...And here's the final result, the old fashioned way as they recorded the album pretty much live with vintage equipment. Completely analogue as they worked with tubes compressors, microphones from the sixties, and recorded everything with a neve desk from the seventies. Consequently the result sounds like 70s rock & roll but with a fresh take on production as the Moonkings consist of three youngsters aka former Stonefly vocalist Jan Hoving, Sem Christoffel (bass) and Mart Nijen Es (drums). Vandenberg wanted to build a bridge between the rock of the seventies and that of today, and it's the mix of Whitesnake, Led Zeppelin, Teaser/Bad Company and the hint of Alter Bridge.
Vocalist Hoving is steeped in the mode of Coverdale/Rodgers only not quite as superb... but darn impressive anyhow. They start up the album with "Lust and Lies", a song and dance number that reek of Whitesnake, but hardly the slick U.S. version. "Close To You" is next and it's very much the 50/50 mix of Zeppelin (verse/bridge) and Whitesnake (refrain). At this point you'll really start to feel the production as it's fat, warm, and you'll notice all the instruments with ease. The U.S. feel of the power ballad, "Breathing", complete with strings and everything is similar to the songwriting style of Diane Warren and all her hits. "Line of Fire" sound like Strange Fruit from the 'Still Crazy' movie (no pun intended), while "Out Of Reach" is the soaring ballad with plenty of soul and warmth.
There's no point in going on about all the tracks as it's the classic blues rock album with just the occasional modern twist. In fact, the Alter Bridge meet Southern Rock sounding "Feel It", easily the worst track off the album. The re-recording of "Sailing Ships" from the 'Slip Of The Tongue' album and once again feat. David Coverdale on lead vocal is sort of exciting on paper, but not quite on record. The new arrangement add little to the overall feel and it's kind of the half decent bonus track. It's easy to forget that Adrian spent 13 years (really?) with the Whitesnake band as they didn't record a lot of new material during the dark ages (the 90s). However, it's easily understood as you listen to the Moonkings. The man hasn't lost his fire and edge at all. Release date February 26th.