A lot of people don’t know who Jake E Lee is. Do a survey and you will see. US sales for week ending February 5, 2014 had Red Dragon Cartel listed with 5,300 sold. Put those 5,300 people down as the hard-core fans. The niche. Now what. What is the next step for the album? It didn’t show up on any of the sales charts the following week.
In my view, sales of recorded music is not a true measure of success anyway. People still cling to it because they do not know how to do anything else. To use an example from the indie scene, Lorde was a streaming star before she became a sales star and the darling of the PR run mainstream media. Spotify broke Lorde.
I quickly previewed the new album on Spotify. I gave each song 1 minute, just to get a feel for it. Then I went back to Jake E Lee’s recording history just to re-visit what he has accomplished and get a feel for it. And then I went back to the Red Dragon Cartel album and gave it multiple listens.
It is a good listen, however there isn’t really a song on the Red Dragon Cartel album that can market the album. This is a problem in a world that only has time for the best. When Jake E Lee joined Ozzy, “Bark At The Moon” marketed the album, while “Shot In The Dark” marketed “The Ultimate Sin” album. When Badlands released their self titled debut, “High Wire” was the song that marketed the album, while “The Last Time” marketed “Voodoo Highway”.
“Bark At The Moon” was the first piece of music that fans of heavy metal heard from Ozzy Osbourne after the death of Randy Rhoads. And what an opening riff. The same riff that if you look at the albums credits is supposedly written by Ozzy Osbourne with one finger on the piano. The lyrics are written by Bob Daisley. Ozzy’s contribution is the title and the vocal melodies.
So it is fitting that the opening track “Decieved” from Red Dragon Cartel has a riff, very similar in style and structure. So it is fitting that the vocal melodies are styled from the Ozzy Osbourne vocal phrasing book. I have no issue with artists referencing the past.
“Shout It Out” sounds like it belongs on a Saliva album. Not that it’s a bad thing, it just wasn’t what I was expecting from Jake E Lee. “War Machine” sounded like a joke to me, however it does fall into the “progress is derivative” theme. The “War Pigs” intro then moves over into “N.I.B”
“Fall From The Sky” has a solo that is very reminiscent to the “You’re No Different” outro solo from Jake’s Ozzy’s days and “Redeem Me” captures the Badlands vibe.
Unfortunately, the Robin Zander (Feeder), Maria Brink (Big Mouth) and Paul DiAnno (Wasted) vocal songs just don’t resonate.
If there is a song to comes close to being “the song”, well that honour goes to “Slave”. It has the best of Jake E Lee. Metallic riffing, fast single note picking, tritone melodic infusions and it encompasses what Jake E Lee is all about. However, behind every great guitarist there needs to be a great singer. In this case, Jake has a decent singer and in today’s cut throat music, decent doesn’t cut it. We only have time for great. If the band decides to release more music, the decent voice needs to be great.
Regardless it is great to see Jake E Lee back in a band setting. Welcome back.