Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens’ – ‘Play My Game’

Released Through SPV America
in 2009

THE BAND:
Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens – vocals
1.) “Starting Over” – (guitar - Bob Kulick, bass - Rudy Sarzo, drums - Simon Wright)
2.) “Believe” – (guitar - John Comprix, bass - Rudy Sarzo, drums - Simon Wright, lead guitar - Craig Goldy)
3.) The Cover Up – (guitar - John Comprix, bass - James lomenzo, drums - Brett Chassen, lead guitar - Jeff Loomis)
4.) Pick Yourself Up” – (guitar - Mike Callahan/Bob Kulick, bass - Dennis Hayes, drums - Ray Luzier, lead guitar - Steve Stevens)
5.) “It Is Me” – (guitar - John Comprix, bass - Rudy Sarzo, drums - Simon Wright, lead guitar - Carlos Cavazo)
6.) “No Good Goodbyes” – (guitar - Bob Kulick, bass - Billy Sheehan, drums - Brett Chassen, lead guitar - Bruce Kulick)
7.) “The World Is Blind” - (guitar - John Comprix, bass - Billy Sheehan, drums - Simon Wright, lead guitar - Doug Aldrich)
8.) “To Live Again” - (guitar - Michael Wilton/Bob Kulick, bass - David Ellefson, drums - Simon Wright, lead guitar - Michael Wilton)
9.) “The Light” – (guitar - Bob Kulick, bass - Tony Franklin, drums - Bobby Jarzombeck)
10.) “Play My Game” – ( guitar - John Comprix, bass - Rudy Sarzo, drums - Simon Wright, lead guitar - Neil Zaza)
11.) “Death Race” – (guitar - John Comprix, bass - James lomenzo, drums - Brett Chassen)
12.) “The Shadows are Alive” – (guitar - Chris Caffery, bass - Marco Mendoza, drums -  Simon Wright)

TRACK FRAGMENTS:
1.) “Starting Over” – There is a little backwards masking section that opens the intro of this track. Bob’s rhythm guitar riffs of the musical intro were very reminiscent to the stuff Vivian Campbell played on Dio’s – ‘Holy Diver’. Bob switches to a picking guitar riff for the musical verse. The vocals sound Ripper gets on the verse was a little Gram bonnet/Gary Barden influenced. There is a rhythm guitar change for the musical pre-chorus. Ripper also changes to a heavier vocal style. There is a minor lead guitar solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse. Underneath the vocal lines of the second verse Bob plays little lead scales. Bob plays the major solo after the second chorus. Ripper double tracked his vocals of the third chorus in a very duet way.
2.) “Believe” –Simon opens this intro with a small fill. Just as soon as the guitar of the intro kicks-in you can definitely tell there is a different guitarist on this track. John’s rhythm riff of the intro is very heavy and in your face! Craig Goldy (formerly of Dio) plays a minor lead guitar solo over the top of the intro section. Simon plays a very cool snare/tom-tom fill to connect the musical intro with the musical verse. (“Look I’m going to say it here and get it out of the way… Hell, I will probably say it a bunch on this review, but AC/DC did nothing but hold Simon back!!!”) Ripper’s vocals have a Dio sound to them! Dio better look out or Ripper will be after his job too! I mean he really sounds a lot like Ronnie on the way he carries out his accenting. There is a small lead guitar lick connecting the pre-verse with the verse. In the way Ripper arranged the chorus gave it a dark feel. Man if I did not know any better I would swear Dio wrote this track. In the way Ripper double tracked the harmonies of the chorus gives you the feeling the army is on the march!!! There is a drastic rhythm guitar change after the second chorus. Ripper leads Craig Goldy into the lead guitar solo with a huge vocal accent. As the outro progresses it gets faster and faster with Craig playing several small minor solos underneath Rippers vocal lines.
3.) “The Cover Up” –This track opens with an Area 51 radio announcement. This goes into an old 1950’s sci-fi movie audio that leads into a John Comprix guitar riff. The riff that John opens sounded like it was one ascending/descending scale. The main musical intro was influenced by Megadeth along with other bands of that genre. Brett Chassen chose an appropriate double bass drum pattern for this song. The main instrumentation through the verse was the drum & bass line. John mainly just chords the guitar and uses it as an accent piece. There is a small musical piece between the verse and chorus where the arrangement takes a drastic change when Brett switches from double bass to single bass. As a drummer myself, great god damn foot work!!!! Connecting the first chorus with the second verse Jeff Loomis kicks-in a minor lead guitar solo. This will be one of the many songs on this CD that really shows Tim’s vocals are more than copying Rob Halford’s. The major lead guitar solo was broken into by a lead vocal line. The outro section consisted of a lead vocal line over the top of a second minor solo.
4.) “Pick Yourself Up” –Simon Wright played a snare/tom for the drum line of this intro section. Both Mike Callahan and Bob Kulick are playing rhythm guitar on this track. However for the intro section one is playing lead guitar licks over top of the others rhythm. There is no rhythm change between the intro and musical verse. The rhythm change is not until the pre-chorus. In the way the pre-chorus was arranged it gives the song a mid-nineties sound. Vocally the vocal tracks do not even sound like Ripper. The only thing for sure is there is absolutely no doubt who is playing lead guitar when the minor solo kicks-in. It is Steve Stevens (Billy Idol), one of the top five underrated guitarists of all time! (If you don’t believe me just listen to Vince Neil’s first solo release!) The outro consisted of a acoustic guitar. 
5.) “It Is Me” – This track opens for a single guitar riff that was done with an effects pedal. After that one riff the main intro really kicks-in. john used a very simple rhythm riff for the musical verse. The way Ripper recorded his vocal tracks made the lyric lines of the pre-verse and verse over lap. Musically as far as songwriting goes you really cannot get any simpler than this. I was a little taken aback by Carlos Cavazo’s guitar playing. In fact, hold on and let me check just to make one-hundred percent sure it is Carlos of Quiet Riot fame…..YEP…IT IS…”Damn Cavazo where the Hell did that come from!!!”
6.) “No Good Goodbyes” – This opens with the AOL “You have mail.” Phrase before the main musical intro kicks-in. The main intro section consists of a fairly standard heavy metal intro section. Bruce Kulick plays a minor lead guitar solo to connect the musical intro with the musical verse. Bob & Mike use the same rhythm for the musical verse as the intro. Ripper’s vocals leading into the verse are very Layne Staley sounding. In ways I cannot understand but this haunted me dearly. Ripper sings every lyric line of the verse this way. There is a rhythm arrangement change for the musical chorus. There is a minor lead guitar solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse. I loved the way they kept changing time on this track!!!!! The major lead guitar solo is after the second chorus. This track shows nothing but Rippers pure vocal talent!!! 
7.)
“To Live Again” –This track opens with the effect of children playing. This leads into the opening of gunfire. The rhythm riff of the musical intro was written with a huge hook attached to it. Over the top of the intro Doug Aldrich plays a minor lead guitar solo that leads into the first verse. Musically & lyrically the verse was heavily influenced by early Dio. Though there is a small rhythm change leading into the chorus Ripper keeps that early Dio sound. There is a minor solo connecting the first chorus with the second verse. After the second chorus there is a second minor solo. This leads into breakdown section and minor bass solo. The instrumentation of the third verse was mainly bass line. Put the fact that this song musically is amazing, however, Ripper makes a very poignant statement lyrically!
8.) “The World Is Blind” – Michael Wilton of Queensrÿche plays a minor solo over the top of this intro section. The musical verse consisted of two different rhythm guitar arrangements underneath Rippers lead vocal lines. There is a rhythm guitar kick-in for the musical pre-chorus. Then the two guitarists along with Ripper bring the song back down for the verses. There is a lead guitar solo after what I believe to be the second chorus. The song as a very abstract sound to it however, that is mainly due to the fact lyrically it is not arrangement like most songs are. There is no major lead guitar solo for this song.
9.) “The Light” –I really could not break this track down musically. It was almost like Ripper took a set of musicians into the studio and said,”Here are the lyrics, and the band just started jamming!” Very strange yet very cool at the same time.
10.) “Play My Game” – This song has a very modern metal sound and doesn’t fit musically in with the rest of the tracks on the CD.
11.) “Death Race” – This track opens with the effect of someone getting into and starting their vehicle. This intro was right out of a Judas Priest fake book. There is no rhythm change between the intro and musical verse. Ripper’s vocals are arranged in a Rob Halford style but he doesn’t sound like Halford. The rhythm change is not until the chorus. Over the top of music connecting the first chorus with the second verse there are several Halford vocal scream overdubs. There is a small Judas Priest musical change leading into the lead guitar solo. If you did not know better you would swear it was either KK or Glen playing this solo. 
12.) “The Shadows Are Alive” – This is another track on the release that you just can’t breakdown. My best explanation of it is Ripper wrote a song that was the modern version of Black Sabbath’s – “Black Sabbath”!



     The first time I heard the name Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens was in 1996 when Judas Priest announced him as the official replacement for original vocalist Rob Halford who left the band in 1992. Just prior to the Judas Priest gig Ripper was fronting a Judas Priest tribute band called British Steel. According to KK Downing & Glen Tipton when they were going through audition tapes and came across Tim’s tape that he sounded so much like Halford they literally thought he was faking it. The two said it was not until they flew him to England did they believe it was actually him. (This story would later be the basis for the movie ‘Rock Star written by John Stockwell and starred Mark Wahlberg.) Judas Priest with Tim on vocals released three studio CD’s and titled, ‘Jugular’ (1997), ‘Meltdown’ (1998), ‘Demolition’ (2001) then in 2003 the band released their ‘Live In London’ release. This live CD was my first chance at hearing Tim. My initial reaction to Ripper with Judas Priest was Holy Sh*t!!!! I honestly could not believe how dead on to Rob’s sound Ripper was.
     ‘Play My Game’ is Ripper Owens first solo release. The first thing I noticed was the promotional postcard that came with the junket packet and the list of talent on the album. Musician wise Tim covered the gambit of heavy metal from everyone such as Carlos Cavazo (Quiet Riot) to John Comprix (Beyond Fear). Not only did he choose different musicians from different spectrums of metal. However, he placed the right set of musicians with the right track. From the minute you begin to play track one titled, “Play With Me” up through track twelve “The Shadows Are Alive” you will be completely blown away musically! Vocally, Hell that should be a give me just listen to the stuff he sang with Judas! My concern was going to be his songwriting ability. Soon Being able to inter-link lyrics with musical arrangements and making them fit. Just as soon as you hear that first phrasing of lyrics and music of the first verse of ‘Starting Over’ all of your doubt will be thrown out the window of just how well Ripper can not only write words/lyric phrasing but also music arrangements and the be able to put them all together.
     My nightly routine was no different then what it is on most nights after typing a review. I lay awake thinking what I want to say on the closing. You very well can’t say ‘Play My Game’ is Ripper’s best to date. Because it is his first solo release! If this release is anything close to what is to come. Then there is absolutely no reason why future generations will not be talking of Ripper in the same breath as Osbourne, Dio & Halford!! “Ripper great job my friend!!!!” If you are a heavy metal fan then this is an absolute must have!!!! 


LINKS:
Tim Owens - www.timripperowens.com/
Bob Kulick - www.myspace.com/bobkulick
Rudy Sarzo - www.rudysarzo.com/
Simon Wright - www.myspace.com/drummersimonwright
John Comtrix - www.myspace.com/thebrutal1
Craig Goldy - www.myspace.com/craiggoldy
James Lomenzo -www.jameslomenzo.com/index.htm
Jeff Loomis -www.jeffloomis.com/
Ray Luzier - www.myspace.com/rayluzier
Steve Stevens - www.stevestevens.net/
Bruce Kulick - www.kulick.net/
Carlos Cavazo -www.myspace.com/officialcarloscavazo
Billy Sheehan -www.billysheehan.com/
Doug Aldrich - www.dougaldrich.com/
Michael Wilton - www.michaelwilton.com/
Tony Franklin - www.tonyfranklin.com/
Bobby Jarzombek - www.bobbyjarzombek.com/
Neal Zaza - www.neilzaza.com/
Chris Caffrey - www.chriscaffery.com/
Marco Mendoza -
www.marcomendoza.com/