Metal legend Ross “The Boss” Friedman has written music history as a founding member of Manowar and The Dictators and his influence in heavy metal and also punk is noticeable to this day. Manowar’s first six masterpieces which saw him significantly involved in between 1982 and 1988 are immortal classics today, and that the band wasn’t able to deliver the same quality again after his departure speaks for the New York based guitarist and songwriter.
Since 2006, Ross has been releasing traditional and raw epic metal which calls up memories of the Manowar masterpieces from the 80’s with its very own style. New album ‘Born Of Fire’ is the fourth release from Friedman and his band which arrives not even two years after their chart breaking 2018 effort ‘By Blood Sworn’.
While ROSS THE BOSS used the time between these releases for extensive touring, their latest epos will excite fans worldwide, ‘Born Of Fire‘ comes pounding out of the speakers fresher and heavier than before, but contains all of the typical Ross The Boss trademarks.
01 – Glory To The Slain
02 – I Am The Sword
03 – Fight The Fight
04 – Shotgun Evolution
05 – Denied By The Cross
06 – Maiden Of Shadows
07 – Born Of Fire
08 – Demon Holiday
09 – Godkiller
10 – Waking The Moon
11 – Undying
12 – The Blackest Heart
Anyone who has ever visited New York has a story to tell about the city, so you can bet your bottom dollar that having lived there all his life Handsome Dick Manitoba has volumes of the buggers just filed away ready to regale you with.
Mantitoba’s debut solo album ‘Born In The Bronx’ takes a dozen of these tales and adds a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack (provided by al all-star cast) to truly bring them all to life, and the resulting sound is so authentic you can almost taste the New York City air. Add in a cover version of P.F. Sloan’s ‘Eve Of Destruction’ to the Big Apple pie and what you have is a 13 track album that Handsome Dick Manitoba has been waiting all of his life to release.
With it being 18 years since ‘DFFD’ and 29 years since ‘And You?’ I have to admit a Handsome Dick Manitoba solo record was the last thing I’d expected to be reviewing as 2019 draws to a close. The surprises don’t stop there either as ‘Born In The Bronx’ was actually recorded in Nashville not NYC, thus enabling producer Jon Tiven to draw on the local talent pool of Buddy Miller, Harry Stinson, Beth Hooker, Shannon Pollard, Chuck Mead and Donte M’Shawn alongside the likes of Mickey Curry, Mat Reale, Simon Kirke and Mike Shrieve who provide a rock solid backbeat throughout.
Opener ‘Shelley’ sets the tone of the record perfectly, a rock ‘n’ roll love story that shuffles its way into your heart on 6 inch platform heels it’s a song that is instantly recognisable due to Manitoba’s unique vocal delivery. ‘Back To My TV’ and ‘Surfside’ which fall either side of the faithfully reproduced run through of ‘Eve Of Destruction’ are for me the highlights of ‘Born In The Bronx’ both of them being raw blast of proto-punk that take the Sonics and dresses them up as Dolls. Likewise, ‘Big Army Brass’ is a one finger piano boogie bastard that will have you dancing all night long and ‘Callie May’ sees Manitoba’s songwriting influences extend into late 60s/early 70s Detroit for a truly riotous shindig. Absolutely breath-taking stuff!
After this ‘The Cooker & The Hit’ treads more of a bluesy path whilst ‘Thicker Than Blood’ could very well be a song written for a certain Mr Springsteen, and then there’s the title track which saunters in like The Thin White Duke after spending a weekend missing in the Bronx in the mid 70s, and here Manitoba allows his storytelling to go into overdrive cramming as much history as he can into 3 minutes and 59 seconds.
Look I’m not going to do my usual track by track run through here because there is so much to discover within the grooves of ‘Born In The Bronx’ that I’d really like you to go and discover the record the same way that I did. It’s a really up sounding set of songs that’s for sure, and it’s an album that deserves to be played in full and given repeat listens -something quite exceptional in this age of here today gone today one hit wonders.
With ‘Born In The Bronx’ the party really does start now!! So go out and get your copy and tell the ‘Soul Punk King of NYC’ that RPM Online sent you.
Handsome Dick Manitoba was the leader of the NYC punk group “The Dictators” starting in 1975. The group went through a series of breakups and name changes but always with Manitoba as frontman. This is his first solo release and is backed by a lineup of stellar musicians including P.F. Sloan, Michael Shrieve, Simon Kirke and others. Sloan backs him here on his opus “Eve of Destruction” playing harmonica, guitar and on background vocals.
He was also an on air DJ on Sirius / XM for 14 years, being recognized by The Village Voice as “Best Satellite Radio DJ” in 2005. Manitoba was also lead singer for MC5 starting in 2005, after the death of lead singer Rob Tyner and remained in that capacity until they disbanded after the death of bassist Michael Davis in 2012.
Manitoba now has a podcast called “You Don’t Know Dick”…and the best is yet to come!
Producer / Co-writer Jon Tiven says:
“We wanted to make a record that was contemporary punk ‘n’ roll with a love for the sound of our early heroes like Wynonie Harris, Bert Berns, and the Beach Boys. I brought in a few of my Nashville friends to play and sing on it—-Buddy Miller, Harry Stinson, Beth Hooker, Shannon Pollard, Chuck Mead, Donte M’Shawn—as well as some old friends to kick the skins Mickey Curry, Mat Reale, Simon Kirke and Mike Shrieve. Our beach song, “Surfside,” was injected with a direct dose of the California Sun by transcendental poet Stephen J. Kalinich, the only lyricist to work with Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson (as well as Mike Love and Stephen Marks).
I suggested we cut a new version of my pal the late P.F. Sloan’s classic anthem “Eve Of Destruction,” and Handsome Dick was all-in. I even managed to fly in some harmony vocals, harmonica, and acoustic guitar from P.F. himself from some previous sessions I had done with him.
It took us a minute to find the right home for the record, but Arny Schorr stepped up with his Liberation Hall imprint and had all the enthusiasm we needed to see. So this is BORN IN THE BRONX. Germinated in NYC, manifested in Nashville, now available throughout the world… I hope y’all enjoy it!”