JEFF WESTLAKE'S ROCK ROOTS COME ALIVE IN A DEAD WORLD
Jeff Westlake and Terry Withrow recording a video for Dead World
Jeff Westlake grew up in the late 70's jamming in his bedroom on guitar to albums of his rock heros Kiss, Black Sabbath, AC/DC.
Now decades later after establishing himself as a world-wide known guitarist...he has paid homage to his influences. In some cases, he paid tribute to the bands he jammed to the usual way...cover songs. With his band Hydrogyn, he covered AC/DC with "Back in Black.". He also covered Michael Schenker's "Assault Attack" in Hydrogyn, both with a female singer. He covered Black Sabbath classics "Hot Line" and "Disturbing The Priest" while handling the vocals himself.
Westlake honored his idol Ronnie James Dio by having Dio's ex-guitarist Craig Goldy join Hydrogyn temporarily and he recorded with ex-Dio guitarist Tracy G. He even wrote a biography on Tracy G called "The Dio Years and Beyond The Skull.". Megadeath ex-guitarist Jeff Young also recorded briefly with Hydrogyn.
Westlake did not just cover a Kiss song...he covered a whole album. He entered the studios with some fellow musicians and recorded and released the entire "Hotter Than Hell" album achieving his goal of improving the recording quality of the album.
The Fairland High graduate then topped himself by joining another of his heros The Godz and recording and producing a CD and remastering some tracks. The Godz we're Kiss' label mates on Casablanca in the 70's. Jeff's sister met the band in Columbus when she attended Ohio State and gave Jeff an eight track tape of their debut album.
Now, Jeff is following up his debut solo album "Songs In The Key of Blue", a tribute of sorts to 70's style blues rock with a concept album.
Ahhhh...the concept album...the forgotten child of the 70's. Kiss had "The Elder.". Rush had "2112". The Who had "Tommy". Westlake will be releasing "Dead World."
"Dead World" being released on October 26, combined several eras of rock and uses ever rock instrument imaginable including organs and a saxaphone to create the perfect feel.
Jeff Westlake describes "Dead World", "It’s the world that exist on the other side of the veil of our reality. People who have not yet found a light there fighting moving onto the next phase."
The opus opens with the Alice Cooper- like "Devil's Juice." Westlake says,"Yeah, the Devil's juice is about everything that wants to take you down. The things that are addicting or something that just get you and you can’t let go of it to all these things are bad for you in the long run. Whether it be drugs, hookers, alcohol....you name it."
Westlake admits,"Not a typical album especially from me. We tried to tie all of the rock eras together."
With Dead World, Jeff Westlake has come full circle...paying tribute to his rock roots while still creating exciting and modern music. Jeff Westlake becomes alive in a Dead World.
AJ REVIEWS "DEAD WORLD" by JEFF WESTLAKE
Dead World" is the world that exist on the other side of the veil of our reality. There are people in The Dead World who have not yet found a light. They are fighting and moving onto the next phase.
Jeff Westlake brings The Dead World to life using a barage of instruments and influences. As always, the Hydrogyn lead guitarist rips and wails through the CD but always shows maturity and intelligence. The guitar is more than just a weapon as in his first solo cd "in The Key of Blue.". His guitar becomes part of the narrative. His playing is marked with intelligence and it sets the tone while telling a story of its' own.
Westlake's vocals have progressed. He is more than just a guitarist. "Dead World" shows a muscian who is at the top of his game in not just playing songs but using his voice, instruments, and pen to not only tell a story but show you how the characters feel.
"Dead World" is perhaps the strongest concept album since Rush's 2112. The music sets the stage allowing the listener to feel along with the characters. Like 2112, the music and story flow as one. The strength of the CD is in the whole and not just the parts...which is the goal of all concept albums.
Jeff Carter's saxophone and Joe Caudill's keyboards with organs and piano thrown in give the music an older feel but Westlake and Terry Withrow on guitar give the project a modern sound. Westlake singing at times sounds like a mix of Kiss stars Gene Simmons and Ace Frehley. The mixture of the styles calls on Westlake's influences from all eras of rock and gives the project a very unique sound.
The CD starts with "The Devil's Juice". Westlake throws in a touch of Alice Cooper and a touch of Kiss with some powerful Deep Purple-style jamming to kick the opus off majestically. "The Devil's Juice" is about everything that wants to take you down... the things that are addicting or something that just gets you and you can’t let go of it to all these things are bad for you in the long run.
Westlake changes tempo often. "Lilith" is a powerful ballad accented by a saxophone. Westlake changes things up with the catchy "Coming Back Home" which is accompanied by a hot saxophone. The sax combines with the touch of 70s funk to take Westlake out of his comfort zone and create a fun change of pace tune that is a cross of Gerry Rafferty meets KC and The Sunshine Band.
"March of Souls" is an instrumental showcasing Westlake on guitar. It is a good transtion piece in setting excitement for the concept cd and keeps the story flowing....another important part that keeps the cd working as a whole.
The rocker combines traditional blues with a Kiss Hotter Than Hell album syyled chorus on "It Ain't Me". The vocals and guitar both howl impressively.
The title track "Dead World" is a standout track. The futuristic rocker features top-notch singing and playing from Westlake and some solid keyboards.
The CD ends with "Second Chance" a strong power ballad that recalls old Whitesnake classic power ballads.
Dead World is an interesting story brought to life by a skilled muscian who is becoming a top notch crafter of stories and song.
Westlake employs an arsenal of tools such as a piano, organ, saxophone and guitars to not just tell the story of Dead World but to take you to Dead World.
Dead World demonstrates the variety of a talented musician and his creative abilty to combine influences to make something creative and exciting. Westlake established himself as an accomplished guitarist with Hydrogyn. He played homage to his classic rock roots by recreating Kiss' Hotter Than Hell and joining 70's Casablanca Records classic rockers The Godz. He created 80's classic rock with Audio Porn. His band Ura-kai created an excellent modern rock cd. Jeff Westlake mastered the blues on "In The Key of Blue." For his latest trick, he has created an intelligent and well varied concept album. One of rock's hidden secret keeps on rocking. Another solid collection by a man of many musical talents.