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The Cigar Chronicles Vol. 2
Band: Liberty N' Justice
Label: LNJ Records
Reviewed by Tom on 10/29/2012
Liberty N’ Justice’s sixth full length all-star enthralled album, The Cigar Chronicles, is not only the band’s final release as a project, but it is a double album featuring remakes of various hit songs (Vol. 1 – The Covers) as well as originals (Vol. 2 – The Originals). LNJ will stop being a project and start being a band that will feature JK Northrup (King Kobra/Northrup-Shortino/ XYZ) on guitars, Eric Ragno (China Blue/Graham Bonnet/Ted Poley) on keyboards, Justin Murr (LNJ founding member) on bass, and David Cagle on lead vocals.
So, now that I have The Cigar Chronicles sitting hotly in my hands and loudly in my ears, let’s review this baby. Since this is a double album with twenty-six songs on it, I am going to just touch on the highs and lows of each disc.
Volume 1 - The Covers: (Mixed by CJ Snare)
Wow! I grew up listening to most of these songs and I hated some of them… ha ha. Well, this is LNJ and they seem to make everything better so I am not too worried. Some of the songs include LNJ’s renditions of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”, U2’s “Pride”, The Village People’s “YMCA”… you heard me right, YMCA! Also, N'Sync’s “Bye Bye Bye”, Lionel Richie’s “Dancing On The Ceiling”, and Eight more remakes.
Again, another star studded classic here. Many great artists involved in this gem including; George Lynch (Dokken/Lynch Mob), Kip Winger (Winger), Jamie Rowe (Guardian), and Larry Worley (Fear Not) just to name a few. On Volume 1, there are 13 tracks of covered songs as mentioned earlier and so far, my favorites are “Ice Ice Baby”, “Pride”, “Queen Of The Night”, “Mmmbop”, and my most favorite, “Stuck In the Middle Of You”. There is not really a bad song on here but I do have some I favor over others. I hate the song “YMCA”. Every time I hear that song, it just puts a bad image in my head and it takes a while to get it out. Although LNJ rocked it and made it their own, it is my least favorite. “Stayin’ Alive” is an acoustic remake of the Bee Gee’s disco hit and is not that bad. It features Kip Winger (Winger) and I have always been a big fan of his vocals, so nicely done.
I was excited to hear Fear Not’s Larry Worley back behind the mic which may be the reason that “Stuck In The Middle Of You” is my favorite song on the Covers disc. It also features Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns N' Roses), Andy Robbins (Holy Soldier/Joe Lynn Turner), and Anthony Gravley (Windup Rocket).
Other remakes include Genesis’ “I Can’t Dance”, Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain”, Lionel Ritchie’s “Dancing On The Ceiling” and Milli Vanilli’s “Blame It On The Rain”. I really tried to forget that a few of these songs are just not ones that I enjoyed originally, but the remakes give me a new perspective and I actually really like LNJ’s take on them so… so far, so good; now on to Volume 2 – The Originals.
Volume 2 - The Originals: (mixed by JK Northrup)
OK, as much as I enjoy a great cover tune… or disc, I am looking forward to reviewing Volume 2. This disc includes 13 original tracks and features the talents of Gunnar Nelson (Nelson), Mark Kendall (Great White), Ted Poley (Danger Danger), Mark Slaughter (Slaughter), Tim Gaines (Stryper), and many, many more. So, without further ado, let’s get to it!
The disc starts off with a song called “Devil His Due” and features Derrick LeFevre (formerly of Lillian Axe), Vic Rivera (Crunch), Michael Feighan (Liberty N' Justice/White Cross/King James) and Barry Graul (Mercy Me/White Cross). Very cool song and very catchy; I like everything about it!
Next song is “The Greatest” featuring David Cagle (Liberty N' Justice), Mark Allen Lanoue (Chasing Karma/Bilioxi), and Brad Stetler. This is a nice mid-tempo rocker which caused me to unleash my inner air guitarist! Yeah!
Song 2 is “Cupids Gonna Bleed” featuring Gunnar Nelson (Nelson), Steve Brown (Trixter) with Barry Carl (Rockapella). This is a fun rocker with some fun lyrics. Good song!
Next song is entitled “Under Construction” and features Eric Dover (Slash's Snakepit/Jelly Fish),Mark Kendall (Great White), Ian Keith Hafner (Jaguar Blaze) and Eric Ragno. This is a nicely done ballad with a really cool message. We are all still under construction, God is not done with any of us and this song hits on that.
“Been There Done That” is the next song and features Ted Poley (Danger Danger) and Richard Kendrick (Straitjacket Smile). This is a cool song and one of my favorites on Disc 2. It is almost anthem like.
Next is “Grace” featuring Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart/Rain/Charade), Phillip Bardowell (Unruly Child/Beach Boys) and Mark Slaughter (Slaughter). This is a slower song but very good. I love Mark’s voice in this song, as I do most of Slaughter’s stuff.
“Sucker Punched” is my favorite song on the whole album and it features Rick Stitch (Hotel Diablo), Jerry Dixon (Warrant) and Xander Demos. This is a great rockin’ tune that makes me put my hands in the air and swing them around like I just don’t care… ok, maybe not but I do bang my head.
The next song is “Broken Bones" featuring Giancarlo Floridia (Faithsedge), Greg Martin (The Kentucky Headhunters), and Chad Stewart (Faster Pussycat). Another great mid-tempo rocker that will get your feet tapping and head rockin’…
The next song is very special and is probably one of my all-time favorite LNJ songs, “Sin” featuring the late, great Jani Lane (Warrant) as well as Bill Leverty (Firehouse), and Keri Kelli (Alice Cooper). This is such a cool song and the fact that it was one of Jani’s last complete recordings before his passing makes it even more special. The whole song, lyrics, tune, music, everything… is just amazing!
“Give Em’ A Light” was released well before the completion of this album and has been available for purchase for quite some time. It is a cool song and features Paul Shortino (King Kobra/Quiet Riot/Rough Cutt) and Dave Henzerling (King Kobra/Steelshine). Great song!
The next song is “Daddy Long Legs” featuring Louis St August (Mass) and Tim Gaines (Stryper). The beginning lyrics reminded me of “Legs” by ZZTop… nah. This is a fun rockin’ song.
Another favorite song of mine on this disc is “Cut Me Mick”. It features Ron Keel (Keel) and Michael Phillips (Deliverance/The Sacrificed). Ron has that nice raspy voice and of course Michael shreds it up!
The disc finally ends with the song “Tomorrow” featuring Terry Ilous (Great White/XYZ), Ron Wikso (Foreigner/The Storm/David Lee Roth/Richie Sambora/Cher/Gregg Rolie Band), Alessandro Del Vecchio (Hardline/Ian Paice/Glenn Hughes/Edge Of Forever/Eden's Curse) and PK Mitchell. This is a very cool ballad with, as you can see, a TON of talent. Whew!
So, my overall opinion of The Cigar Chronicles is… GET IT… GET IT NOW! This is so good and it is the last project that LNJ will be doing, at least for now. I cannot wait to hear the band, Liberty N’ Justice! I recommend this album to anyone that enjoys head bangin’ foot stompin’, fist pumpin’ music. With a HUGE list of special guests, rockin’ remakes, and classic LNJ originals, there is something for everyone. And as John Candy said in the movie, “Going Berserk” Smoke em’ if you got em’.