Joe Bouchard – “Strange Legends” (Deko Entertainment)
Battle Helm Rating
With the warm, resonating sound of Blue Öyster Cult still humming in my ears, this 6th solo release from their famed bassist Joe Bouchard is more than a welcome treat! A member of BÖC’s classic line up during their most successful period earning 9 gold and 2 platinum awards, Bouchard (co)wrote many of their songs, including the very popular ‘Astronomy’, which was covered by Metallica on their 1998 release “Garage Inc” and the live staple ‘Hot Rails to Hell’, which was the second BÖC single released by Columbia Records. Leaving the band in 1986, Bouchard dedicated much of his time to composing new music, performing, teaching and authoring books. He has a Bachelors degree from The Ithaca College School of Music, and in 1995 earned a Masters degree in music composition from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. Today, when not writing and recording in his home studio, he performs with several bands including Blue Coupe, a superstar combo featuring his brother Albert, also a classic founding member of BÖC , and Dennis Dunaway, a founder of the Alice Cooper Group and a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Releasing his solo recordings since 2009, “Strange Legends” has no less of a pedigree line-up in famed drummer Micky Curry (Alice Cooper, Bryan Adams, Hall & Oates) with over 40 gold records in his archives, along with lyricists John Shirley, long time contributor to BÖC (as well as the co-screenwriter for “The Crow”, starring the late Brandon Lee) and the late John Elwood Cook, who wrote many songs on Joe’s earlier solo albums. Completed by Bouchard himself singing as well as handling guitar and bass duties much to the delight of his lifelong fans, the 11 tracks here are a mix of classic rock, BÖC inspired rockers, rock n roll and modern rock, each composed and played to perfection in reflecting his legacy. Classy opener ‘The African Queen’ has one of these rock ‘n’ rock guitar twangs that you’ll die for, and the way its wailing croons mix into the rock completed by a subtle singing church organ adds a final touch to this deep ‘n’ sexy temptress whose immense appeal could stretch from the Bayou to Burundi – awesome! Keeping the style with another irresistible twanging riff and that equally possessive organ, but speeding it up on ‘Forget About Love’, the guitar licks and wang bar wails, which are constant throughout the song, just sing their way into your heart as Curry’s drums pump in the rhythm along to the backing chorus. Getting louder on ‘Walk Of Fame’ with its sharper riffs, punchy beat and complementing organ, the energy builds into the exploding chorus catchily mixing modern and classic rock as the momentum is kept going through exciting exchanges between the different instruments. As if re-visiting the dark sound of BÖC’s famed ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ comes this superb cover of Ray Davies and the Kinks’ ‘All Day And All Of The Night’, complete with trippy vocals complemented by Bouchard’s classy guitar work, along with another swanky, wangy rock ‘n’ solo to boot! They say legends never die, and on this record Bouchard goes a long way to proving it.