CD Review: Rated X – Rated X

CD Review: Rated X – Rated X
Frontiers Records
All Access Rating: B

Rated X - Rated X 2014
The old Blue Murder rhythm section is back together, only this time they're backing former Rainbow vocalist Joe Lynn Turner in a new supergroup called Rated X.

Cobbled together by Frontiers Records' Svengali Serafino Perugino, old partners Carmine Appice (drums) and Tony Franklin (bass) join Turner collaborator Karl Cochran – a guitarist known best for his work with Ace Frehley – in doing much of the heavy lifting on what is a fairly straightforward, thick-bottomed set of good, solid melodic hard rock that's often both blustery and ballsy, but can also transform into something more expansive and smokey.

At times reminiscent of full-throttle Deep Purple, with an organ spewing out swirling clouds of exhaust, this eponymous release roars out of the gate with "Get Back My Crown" and slams into the rebellious declaration of self-actualization that is "This is Who I Am," before gathering itself for another barreling charge through "I Don't Cry No More." Smoldering darkness creeps into "Lhasa" and "Maybe Tonight," two slow-burning relics from Turner's days in Rainbow that suggest his recent stated interest in a reunion with Ritchie Blackmore is to be taken seriously. And in the transcendent "You Are The Music," Rated X are awed by life's mysteries and the boundless capabilities of the human spirit in an uplifting piece of music carried on choral vocals and soaring guitars.

The musicianship is stellar, as one would expect with Appice's powerhouse drumming, Franklin's thick bass groove and Kochran's searing guitar work, not to mention Turner's still dynamic and expressive singing. Unfortunately, the songwriting is not always up to snuff, as the amalgam of tough melodies, dull hooks and faceless riffs doesn't leave much of a lasting impression. For all the sublime talent gathered together here, Rated X is missing whatever sort of glue or chemical element it is that makes for a cohesive, well-coordinated and energized unit, as Rated X plods along looking for a spark and fails to find one. There nothing terribly embarrassing about it, except for some cliched lyrics, but on the other hand, there's little here that generates much excitement either.
– Peter Lindblad

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