Freedom: Every great album has a kick ass opener, and Voodooland is certainly no exception. The driving guitar – which screams off into a nasty solo midway that takes on a life of its own through the rest of the track – nicely mirrors the lyrics, which urge people not to be followers who need rules; you don’t need ’em…. scream Freedom! This is no bullshit, straight ahead GUITAR ROCK at its best.
Caroline: The guitar work on this track, both rhythm and lead, are what really stood out to me. This song has the catchiest rhythm guitar hook I’ve heard in a long time, and it’s complimented very nicely by a throbbing, grooving bass line. The lead guitar swirls seamlessly around the hook throughout the track, which also features really nice vocal harmonies during the chorus. “Caroline” strikes the perfect musical balance in its presentation; it’s a love song, but with a little bite.
Make Up Your Mind: The song begins with a lone guitar before blasting into a wailing number that features another killer rhythm guitar hook. It also features absolutely awesome drumming by the incomparable Eric Singer, who truly gives the kit a workout on this one! The guitar is as plaintive as the lyrics, which beg the object of affection to “make up your mind, just make a decision. Give me a sign, let me know what you’re thinking. Do me right or do me wrong; don’t leave me hanging on.”
Inside Looking Out: FUNKY! That’s the bottom line on this blues/funk rocker. Great tempo change ups, a rolling ‘n popping bass line and masterful vocals all set the stage for the catchiest song on the disc. This is get up and dance kind of music that you will find yourself singing unconsciously later in the day. If you liked ESP, this song will rock your ass because this is 70’s funk/rock at its best!
I’ll Lay Down: This is easily my favorite song on the disc. There are good songs and there are great songs. And then there are those precious few songs that transcend the whole “rating” thing and hit you with a feeling way deep down that is almost impossible to describe. This is one of those songs. There is more soul, depth and emotion in this one song than most bands could ever hope to muster on an entire album. This is deep down, gut wrenching, soul searching music that leaves me with a spiritual, uplifted feeling every time I listen to it; a seriously mature piece of song writing. It’s worth the price of the entire disc for this track alone. Awesome.
Higher: The one cover song on the disc does not disappoint. This kick ass version of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Higher” clearly demonstrates Voodooland is a band that isn’t afraid to shows its blues/rock influences, from which they learned well. Dave Halprin drums his ass off, and Tommy Lamb’s harp blowing makes you wish they had found a way to use it on some of the other tracks. Voodooland is definitely a band that is tight and firing on all cylinders.
Freedom (original demo): The “Freedom” original demo which closes the disc is a slightly extended version of the track (approximately 24 seconds longer), and includes an awesome guitar solo by the one and only Ace Frehley – not that you wouldn’t be able to tell! It’s vintage Ace work all the way, and you can almost smell the strings smoking as the song closes with his “outro” solo.
The bottom line? This is an awesome disc that is well worth picking up and checking out. This is a catchy, hook filled album, with screaming guitars and precision drumming at every turn. The production is first rate, crisp, and with a very nice, balanced mix (no high end guitars or muddy drums here). The packaging is also very cool, including a full color four page booklet and picture CD.
It will come as no surprise after you hear the album that Voodooland is currently in negotiations for major label release. However, a limited edition 1,000 CD pressing of this awesome debut is available for collectors to order now! Click over to www.karlcochran.com for ordering information, but don’t wait too long because this special limited pressing is going fast!
Note: This review was originally posted on the website KISS Asylum, which I was co-owner/content manager of from 1997-2004.