Johnny Main's Best Of 2017s
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  JOHNNY MAIN'S BEST OF 2017s

johnny main
Words: Johnny Main
30th December 2017


johnny main

BEST BAND: CATS IN SPACE

I've managed to see Cats In Space live three times this year – twice in the space of two months – and they absolutely walk away with my award for Best Band Of 2017. A veritable supergroup of musicians, they've got two studio album out already, 'Too Many Gods' and 'Scarecrow', and a live album, 'Cat Alive!', due in February. This band started out aiming for the stars and they're well on their way to getting there thanks to support tours with Deep Purple, Thunder and (the mighty) Status Quo but every time I see them supporting I think it won't be long before they're selling out arenas in their own right.

2. MASON HILL

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It would be wrong of me to not mention Glasgow rockers Mason Hill who have had a stellar year by anyone's measurements. We at MetalTalk have been championing the band since the beginning and 2017 was the year it all changed for them – a sell-out hometown headline show, playing the Download Festival at Donington, supporting Airbourne and Gun and signing a multi-album record deal with Frontiers Records. For five young lads from Glasgow, the dream is only just beginning, so watch this band fly higher and higher in 2018 and beyond.

3. WALKWAY

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What's better than supporting Status Quo numerous times? Probably getting a member of Status Quo to play on your record? That's exactly what Walkway did when recording a tribute to fallen Quo axeman Rick Parfitt. They enlisted the help of ex-Quo drummer John Coghlan in his first single release for over thirty years. Walkway also released their third album, 'III', which shows this band have a knack for writing catchy hard rock numbers. By far the hardest working band I know, they seem to play live every weekend of the year, so if you see them playing near you, get out there and support them because these guys put on electrifying performances.

BEST GIG: ANTHRAX, THE BARROWLANDS, GLASGOW, 15th FEBRUARY

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When it came to recording a DVD, Anthrax didn't think twice about recording it in Glasgow's famous Barrowland Ballroon. Having seen them in 2015 at the 350 capacity Cathouse, the Barrowlands gig was another sold out show for the band – sold out before filming was announced proving that Glasgow is the Thrash Metal quartet's home from home. Playing 'Among The Living' in its entirety and a best of the rest set in front of a crowd who have never been more impassioned. Two knockout Anthrax gigs two years in a row, so will they surprise Glasgow with something special in 2018?

2. CATS IN SPACE: G2, GLASGOW, 25th SEPTEMBER

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Cats In Space are really hitting the big time with support tours with Deep Purple, Thunder and Status Quo, but let's not forget that they also do their own headline shows too. The best tracks from their two albums are showcased along with a rip-roaring cover of Slade's 'How Do You Feel' mid-way in a set that never fails to disappoint. Paul Manzi is an incredible frontman and the twin guitar sound courtesy of Greg Hart and Dean Howard merge together seamlessly, backed up by keyboard player Andy Stewart whilst bass player Jeff Brown and drummer Steevi Bacon are the engine room of this exceptional band. Lets just hope The Cats are getting ready for another headline tour in 2018 because I'm ready to do it all over again.

3. Y&T, GARAGE, GLASGOW, 9th NOVEMBER

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It was 2013 that I belatedly discovered Y&T (despite my wife owning a sizeable Y&T vinyl collection) and I haven't really looked back since. A fantastic band on record and an even better band live on stage, I really wish I'd known about them sooner. Put simply, their gig at The Garage in Glasgow last month was a two-and-a-half hour master class in showmanship with Dave Meniketti, John Nymann, Aaron Leigh not forgetting the always superb (and very under-rated) Mike Vanderhule putting in another faultless performance once again.

BEST ALBUM: BLACK STAR RIDERS - 'HEAVY FIRE'

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Since the Black Star Riders produced their debut album, 'All Hell Breaks Loose', back in 2013 they've set about creating a dynamic and impressive back catalogue of original work. This continued with the 2015 follow-up, 'The Killer Instinct', built on the success of their debut but it was with the 'Heavy Fire' album in February that the band really came into their own for me. "All killer and no filler," may be an old adage, but it perfectly sums up the 'Heavy Fire' album.

2. THE FRANKLYS - 'ARE YOU LISTENING'

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If you were lucky enough to catch Australian hard rockers Airbourne on their sell out UK tour in November 2016, then you might have also caught London based Garage rock'n'roll band The Franklys, who featured on some of the dates. 'Are You Listening?' is their debut full length release which mixes energetic pop rock songs together with garage, punk, indie, hard rock and funk.

3. DANZIG - 'BLACK LADEN CROWN'

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Glenn Danzig, the 'Evil Elvis', hit back with his eleventh studio album this year. He's had an impressive career where the highs have also matched the lows. Undoutedly his work between 1988 and 1992 were the highlights with a string of great albums, but from 1994, his career started a slow slide downhill, but 'Black Laden Crown' is a long overdue return to form. Now, Glenn, do you want to talk to me about a well overdue, proper UK tour?

BEST FESTIVAL: HARD ROCK HELL XI, PWLLHELI, 9th to 12th NOVEMBER

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For me Hard Rock Hell is undoubtedly the best of the smaller UK Festivals. If you want to see quality bands of stature plus a raft of newer often unsigned acts for your hard earned cash, then get yourself to Hard Rock Hell. The accommodation and facilities on the site are first class and where the organisation is second to none and this year saw fantastic performances this year from Black Star Riders, Gun, Airbourne, Dee Snider, Wayward Sons, Toseland, The New Roses and Syron Vanes as well as smaller bands like Syteria, Sideburn, Blind River and King Creature. The organisers know exactly how to put on a seriously good festival where it's quality not quantity that counts, and that's why it sells out every year!

BEST VIDEO: SISTER SHOTGUN - 'SILHOUETTES'

The video for the track, which acts as the closing number for the bands recently released debut EP 'Devour', which I discovered more by accident than anything else, and I'm sure glad I did. Could this be one of my favourite new bands of 2018? They could well be!



2. MASSIVE WAGONS - 'BACK TO THE STACK'

Lancashire noise monsters Massive Wagons pay tribute to one of their musical heroes – Status Quo's Rick Parfitt who died on Christmas Eve 2016. A band whose star is shinning brightly, Massive Wagons are set to scale the heights, and have a hefty entry in the Book of Great British Rock'N'Roll Bands when it's written.



3. AVATAR - 'NEW LAND'

Swedish rockers Avatar knock it out of the park with this track from their fantastic new album, 'Avatar Country', which is due for release on Friday 12th January 2018. The highly anticipated follow-up to last years 'Feathers & Flesh' album, this band are leading the way in modern day Groove Metal.



BEST NEW BAND: DEEVER

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Formed by Will Taylor after he left Inglorious, I caught the band for their first ever live show, knowing next to nothing about them and I was immediately struck by their personalities, their musicianship and their incredible song-writing. Rather than do a set of barley hung together covers, these four north-east England lads laid down a live set of original tracks that already have me looking forward to their first album or EP. Good luck to Will, Steve Stoker, Phil Appleton and Dan Higgins, at MetalTalk we're behind you and ready to support you!

2. LAST ALIBI

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Of course, I couldn't choose just one so I've slipped in Glasgow based quartet Last Alibi who are a very special collection of chaps. Frontman Jamie Ramage just oozes charisma on stage with an incredible singing voice while his between song banter is Glasgow through and through. Guitarist Andy Christie is an incredible talent while the rhythm section of Allen Bell on bass guitar and Calum Flint on drums keep the engine room of the band strong and steady. Last Alibi could very well be the next big thing from Glasgow following in the footsteps of Mason Hill.

LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2018

I have a few gigs I plan to attend in 2018 already including Geoff Tate playing the 'Operation: Mindcrime' album in its entirety (along with some Queensryche favourites) and then there's the matter of finally get to strike Nightranger off my 'To See' list at Hard Rock Hell AOR VI in March along with sets from Skid Row, Joe Lynne Turner, The Electric Boys and Jac Dalton and will I make it to see Roger Waters during his UK tour? Only time will tell. There's also a stack of new studio album releases already in the pipeline, and top of the list has to be the 'Over And Out' album from the late Status Quo guitarist Rick Parfitt. Other new albums confirmed include 'No Cross No Crown' from Corrosion Of Conformity, 'Catharsis' from Machine Head and Saxon's 'Thunderbolt'. There's also new albums coming from The Amorettes, Megadeth, Queensryche and Hardcore Superstar plus Anthrax's new 'Kings Amongst Scotland' DVD recorded live at The Barrowlands', so it looks like it's going to a great year for recorded material. The prospect of finding new bands too is always something to look forward to – I just hope I'm half as lucky as I have been this year!





 


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