I was interested to hear this but I didn’t think I would have liked it as much as I did.
I am a Russell Allen fan. I knew of Allen long before I heard of Joel Hoekstra. Allen has a voice which can suit power symphonic bands, metal bands, melodic rock bands, hard rock bands, nu-metal bands and blues rock bands.
And I’m also a Jeff Watson fan, so I wasn’t too thrilled with any Night Ranger version without Watson. Then again Watson hasn’t done much being away from the band and I still want to hear new Night Ranger music.
So I still listened and Hoekstra impressed but I felt he was restrained within that band as Blades and Keagy are the alphas.
And with Whitesnake, Coverdale has two great guitarists to write tunes with but they need to comply with what Coverdale desires.
Which means that Hoekstra 13 is the true Joel Hoekstra.
“Running Games” is album number 2 for his Frontiers label.
The musicians for the album are Russell Allen on vocals, Tony Franklin on bass, Vinny Appice on drums and Derek Sherinian on keyboards with Jeff Scott Soto doing backing vocals. Yep, you read that right, the great JSS is doing backing vocals.
It feels like the 70s ethos, when you see so many guys from different bands jamming together and releasing music.
I was reading some of the interviews Hoekstra did when the album come out and fuck there are some shit interviewers out there, who just do the simple Wikipedia style of interview without even listening to the album.
But the one at “The Rock Pit” is what an interview is about. The interviewer actually listened to the album, liked it and wanted to know more about it. And you get exactly that.
“We Rock” from Dio is merged with “I’ll See The Light Tonight” from Malmsteen for the Intro riff and I’m all in.
And that Chorus. Wow. What a hook!
Make sure to check out the lead break as Hoekstra is doing his eight finger tapping.
“I’m Gonna Lose It”
I like the Intro lead. It reminds me of Thin Lizzy.
And just before the Chorus, there is a little snippet of a riff that gets me thinking of “A Touch Of Madness” from Night Ranger.
The lead break again. Wow.
Over at Glide Magazine, Hoekstra said He came up with the song out at Hook City at the Whitesnake studio.
“Hard To Say Goodbye”
The Chorus feels like a Joe Lynn Turner Rainbow Chorus.
“How Do You”
It’s slower and groovy, more in the vein of Adrenaline Mob in the verses with a Euro classical inspired Chorus.
It is a bluesy groovy cut.
It feels like ZZ Top added some Metal to their sound in the Intro, and the verses are massive, Kashmir like.
Their is a keyboard solo and then Hoekstra breaks loose.
What a melodic rock Chorus. I’m a sucker for these.
“Reach For the Sky”
Cliched and overused song title.
In an interview over at The Rock Pit, Hoekstra mentions how he wrote the riff on the Whitesnake Tour Bus. Inspiration strikes all the time.
“Cried Enough For You”
It feels like a Y&T cut from the “Black Tiger” album in the acoustic sections before it moves to an Iron Maiden like old school groove.
“Take What’s Mine”
The fast guitar lead and machine gun riff to start off the song gets me to pay attention, but it’s the verse riff that makes me pick up the guitar and bang my head to.
And there’s another anthemic Chorus.
It feels like a Toto cut.
“Lay Down Your Love”
It feels like ZZ Top has come to town.
Overall Hoekstra’s songwriting is top level and the performances from the guys are excellent.
Check it out.