Well, well, what do we have here, then? Austrian drummer and multi-instrumentalist Bernhard Welz has been joined by quite the list of musical luminaries for the eponymously titled 'Stay Tuned', said to be his passion project. And it's all for a most worthy cause, with all proceeds being donated to the Linda McCartney Centre. A great charity and a fantastic album that'll hopefully sell well into the thousands to raise a ton of funds. And with the mouth-watering guests on this record, it's sure to garner interest from a great number of people, so buy this right now, folks, and support an amazing cause.
So, what of these esteemed guests? Ready? Well, we have Jon Lord (on a live track from 2009); Ian Paice (a live track from 2002); and studio recordings featuring Ian Gillan; Don Airey; Roger Glover; Steve Morse; Mark King; Steve Lukather; Steve Hackett; Suzi Quatro; Dan Cafferty; Jeff Scott Soto; Tony Martin; Bob Daisley; Steve Lee and Marc Lynn. Expectations are that of a rollercoaster of virtuosic talent, and that's precisely what we have on 'Stay Tuned'.
Right from the very start, on 'Jazz Police', we're treated to some breathtaking, awe-inspiring, instrumental interplay between one of the very finest bassists on the planet, Mark King, with one of the most legendary rock drummers, Ian Paice. Add to that potent combo, the virtuosic fretboard widdling of Steve Morse, some further bass from Suzi Quatro, and some additional instruments brought into the mix by unnamed personnel, including some engaging violin shenanigans... wow! This is musical bliss. Progressive, jazzy, rocky... and a masterclass in flawlessly crafted innovative, jam-like instrumentation. A touch of the Mahavishnu Orchestra about it all... in the very best way possible. I'm sure John McLaughlin himself would adore this jazz-rock fusion piece. Actually... I just wrote that sentence, and then decided to do some online digging... and found a ridiculously long list of contributors for 'Stay Tuned', with further legendary names that aren't even mentioned on the press sheet accompanying this promo... including John McLaughlin himself!!! What the...?!! That partly explains the Mahavishnu vibe, I guess! Why no mention of McLaughlin in press materials?! Inexcusable! Then again, the likes of Jennifer Batten and Guy Pratt who also lent their talents to this project receive zero nods. Crazy!
In sharp contrast to the opener, next track, 'Fading Away', is a rock ballad, featuring the ever-incredible vocals of Ian Gillan and some rather impressive female vocals from an unnamed contributor. Likewise on 'Let the Stars Shine on You', which is said to feature Steve Lukather... but also some further fantastic female vocals. But by whom? A full contributor list would've been nice with this promo, to be able to credit the equally worthy contributions of other personnel here.
Elsewhere, we have plenty of retro rocking numbers with varying degrees of heaviness, from the Deep Purple-esque 'Traffic Night' (aptly featuring Don Airey and Steve Morse) to the harder hitting, chunkier, down to mid-tempo stomp of 'Empathy', a perfect vehicle for the powerhouse vocal talents of 'Jeff Scott Soto'. A couple of tracks also feature where no guests are listed, so I presume these are more Welz-centric pieces - namely, 'Young, Free and Deadly' and 'Wanna Give You My Lovin'' - both fun, enjoyable, melodically engaging and rocking tunes. Although maybe it's merely a case of press sheet peeps failing to list the involvement of more prominent musicians.
Overall, then, 'Stay Tuned', while I'd like to award it a straight 10/10 for both the cause and ambition, it's a solid 8.5/10 for me, musically. And I'd like to hear an entire album of instrumental tracks recorded by the personnel who feature on 'Jazz Police', as this one is off the scale. A full platter of tracks of that quality... now, that'd be album of the year material.
Review by Mark Holmes
30th November 2018
1) Jazz Police (with Mark King, Ian Paice, Steve Morse, Suzi Quatro); 2) Fading Away (with Ian Gillan, Dan McCafferty, Mark King); 3) Let The Stars Shine On You (with Steve Lukather); 4) Traffic Night (with Don Airey, Steve Morse, Carl Sentance); 5) I Don't Believe That Rock'n'Roll Is Out; 6) Empathy (with Jeff Scott Soto); 7) Yound Free And Deadly; 8) It's Just A Long Way (with Carl Sentance); 9) Always Behind You (with Mark King); 10) Believe Me (with Roger Glover); 11) Secret Land (with Don Airey, Carl Sentance);12) Wanna Give You My Lovin'; 13) Drum Jam (Live 2002) (with Ian Paice); 14) Child In Time (Live 2009) (with Jon Lord)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...a most worthy cause, with all proceeds being donated to the Linda McCartney Centre."