CD Review of Ultimate Guitar Zeus by The Carmine Appice Project

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Ultimate Guitar Zeus
starstarstarstarhalf star Label: Escapi Music
Released: 2006
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Carmine Appice can stand amongst the best drummers in hard rock, having played with Vanilla Fudge, Jeff Beck, Pat Travers, Ted Nugent and a slew of others in a career that started in 1967. The Carmine Appice Project’s Ultimate Guitar Zeus is culled from two previous Guitar Zeus records originally recorded in 1996 and 1997. The concept is pretty straightforward. Appice tears up the drums as Tony Franklin (The Firm and Appice’s band mate in Blue Murder) cranks out steamrolling (fretless) bass and Kelly Keeling sings the piss out of some really good hard rock tunes. By the way, each song features guitar work by some true axe-slinging heroes.

If you don’t want to hear solos by Ted Nugent, Brain May, Slash, Richie Sambora and Vivian Campbell, then you should go wait for the 98 Degrees reunion album. This record also features Ty Tabor from King’s X, Neal Schon (Journey) and Steven Seagal. Okay, sorry about the reference to Mr. Kung Fu (who has released two records his own bad self and thank God my editor has not subjected me to those), but for some reason he is included on the album closer “GZ Blues” which is a bit of a Delta Blues instrumental.

There is a wonderful continuity to the record, even though different guitarists are featured. The band, Appice, Franklin and Keeling (who also plays guitar on the record), are one tight fucking bad ass unit. Keeling morphs his voice to fit the song whether it is shaded by psychedelic funk for “Stash” or channels Paul Rogers on “Killing Time.” Ten of the tracks feature Keeling’s lead vocals while “This Time Around” pairs Yngwie Malmsteen’s guitar work with the vocals of Doug Pinnick (King’s X). For those of you who don’t know, Pinnick is the best vocalist that nobody talks about in hard rock today. Edgar Winter also lays down an excellent vocal performance on “Under the Moon & Sun.” Mick Mars (Motley Crue) shines on that track as well, cutting some of his best work in a very long, long time.

This is a five-star record, but any album with that pud, Steven Seagal, gets a half star taken away for his mere presence.

(Editor’s note: I wouldn’t dream of forcing anyone on my staff to cover a Steven Seagal album)

~R. David Smola