The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




AUGUST 22 2014



Tracklisting: Love’s A Bitch; Get Your Rock On; Steppin’ On The Rock; Baby Bye Bye; California; Lay Me Down; Turn The Noize Down; Beyond the Angels; Rattlesnake Eyes; Just Can’t Stay; Change of Heart; Love Breaks the Fool.

It’s always interesting to catch up on what certain names you’ve followed over the years are up to and X-Drive the band, not the game console, features a couple of names you should have heard of – in Keith St John (Burning Rain, Montrose, Sweet, Lynch Mob and Quiet Riot) and James Lomenzo (White Lion, Ozzy, Dave Lee Roth, Megadeth and more). Both give more than a hand to unknown guitarist’s Jeremy Brunner’s new Project – his own take on eighties rock – along with Midline’s Fed Fischer on drums. It’s also worth noting that this was one of Andy Johns (the legendary Led Zep engineer) last projects before his untimely death in 2013.  


Opening track ‘Loves a Bitch’ takes you right back to the heart of late eighties rock, and the title track that follows solidifies that feeling of the classier, bluesier end of the spectrum, even if it does have a touch of Def Leppard about it, and lyrically is really just an exercise in name-checking some great albums of the era. It’s a cool start to the album but where you then really wanted to feel that foot to the floor instead you get the mid-tempo ‘Steppin On the Road’ which is nice but loses the momentum a little. ‘Bye Bye Baby’ gives us our first touch of the Power Ballad and it’s a damn fine song that would have been at home in the hands of anyone from Heart to Whitesnake in the days of Big Hair.


‘California’ is the song that finally nails it for me, laid back, bluesy, well-written rock with a breezy eighties vibe that sounds somewhere in the ballpark had Enuff Z’Nuff been fuelled on AOR rather than the Beatles! It’s a wonderful song as is ‘Lay Me Down’ which follows that has a kind of stuttering ‘Hot Blooded’ riff in the background driving the song which is another mid-tempo slab of classy rock smothered in sweet backing vocals and a fine lead vocal.


Classy ballad ‘Beyond the Angels’ is a fine counterpoint to the more raucous ‘Turn the Noize Down’ and ‘the ballad’ is certainly something that the band do very well, allowing the richness of St John’s vocals to shine through.


There’s a sleazy swagger to the night song ‘Rattlesnake Eyes’ that works wonderfully setting up a strong groove for St John to do his best Dave Lee Roth in a songs that’s as slinky as Bulletboys best known number.


The album ends as strongly as it started too with the laid back ‘Just Can’t Stay’  setting up two of the real highlights in the Mr Big like-ballad ‘Change of Heart’ which just could be the best thing here along with 'California' and closer the majestic stadium-striding 'Love Breaks the Fool'.

If you love eighties rock from the more melodic end of the spectrum, this album really does take you there. One of our picks of the year so far for sure - sheer class and full of solid songs.

Produced by Andy Johns and Jeremy Brunner - Mixed by Wyn Davis

X-Drive is:
Keith St. John – Vocals
Jeremy Brunner – Guitar
James Lomenzo – Bass
Fred Fischer - Drums



by Mark Diggins