Roxster - 'Influence'

 


     In late 2011, I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. During the following two years, I experienced a myriad of emotions that are represented by the titles and “themes” of the songs on this CD. The CD was recorded during the time period after I went through surgery and then several months later…radiation therapy. I am happy to say that I am now almost 1 ½ years in remission from the cancer. The idea behind the arrangements was to take songs from bands that influenced me during my musical career and then using other musical influences change the arrangements. Here’s a brief outline of my thoughts on each song:
TRACK LISTING:
1.) "The Word" (J. Lennon and P. McCartney) - George Mahoney – Lead Vocals and Keyboards / Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums
Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars / James Welch – Harmony Vocals
The word is one of my favorite “Beatles” tunes. I also chose this song because it reflects the love and support I was given from friends and family as I went through a very tough time in my life. The harmonies are signature “Beatles” arrangements, which I left pretty much intact. I decided to “tune down” and slow the song down considerably with a bit of a “Kings X “approach to give the song a greasier and heavier, rock-groove oriented flavor.
1.) "Stormbringer" (R. Blackmore and D. Coverdale) - James Welch – Lead Vocals / George Mahoney – Keyboards / Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar/Mike Claudio – Drums / Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars and Harmony Vocals
This song is a simple acknowledgement to the fact that I had to consider that death could be a possible outcome. I love “Deep Purple” and took this song and arranged it with a bit more of a “Whitesnake” approach…slower and heavier!!
3.) "Walk Away" (J. F. Walsh) - Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – Lead Vocals and All Guitars / George Mahoney – Keyboards and Harmony Vocals/Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Harmony Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums
This song reflects the basic notion that I simply wanted to “walk away” from talking about or having to “deal” with the fact that I had cancer! This is a great James Gang song that we “straightened-out” and gave more of an early Van Halen approach to.
4.) "Presence Of The Lord" (E. Clapton) - James Welch – Lead Vocals / George Mahoney – Keyboards / Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar/Mike Claudio – Drums / Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars
At some point when dealing with the reality that I had cancer, I came to a place of calm and acceptance…I realized that my future was in God’s hands! For this classic “Blind Faith” song, we added some nice “Jimi Hendrix” style guitar rhythms and a heavier, bluesy feel!
5.) "Never Been Any Reason" (M. Somerville) - George Mahoney – Keyboards and Lead Vocals / James Welch – Lead Vocals/Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Harmony Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums / Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars
Every person learning they have cancer inevitably asks the reason…why? And…they realize that there is no reason! This is another classic song that we gave a stripped down “AC/DC” musical vibe coupled with an early “Journey” vocal approach.
6.) "Them Changes" (B. Miles) - George Mahoney – Keyboards and Lead Vocals / Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar/Mike Claudio – Drums / Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars
Simply…I was going through some major changes in my life! This “Band of Gypsies” song was given a heavier “Prince” meets “Van Halen” treatment!

7.) "Shady Lady" (K. Hensley, D. Byron, M. Box, and L. Kerslake) - James Welch – Lead Vocals / George Mahoney – Keyboards and Harmony Vocals/Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Harmony Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums / Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars
In realizing that you have prostate cancer, you have to cope with the “sexual” side of the effects of cancer…a very “Shady Lady”! We gave this song more of a “Led Zeppelin” groove than the original, with a cool “Styx” style double-lead solo.

8.) "Heartbreaker" (M. Farner) - James Welch – Lead Vocals / George Mahoney – Keyboards and Harmony Vocals/Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Harmony Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums / Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars
My personal nickname for cancer!! As I was preparing to start my radiation treatments, my family and I learned that at age 6, my youngest grandson, Joey, had also been diagnosed with cancer…Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma!! He was my true inspiration! He and I both survived cancer, but so many others are still fighting this disease. This song was my personal tribute to “Gary Moore”, who died in 2011! We took this classic “Grand Funk Railroad” tune and gave it the “Still Got The Blues” arrangement
9.) "Live It Up" (D. St. Holmes and T. Nugent) - George Mahoney – Lead Vocals and Keyboards / Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums/Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars / James Welch – Harmony Vocals
Music helped me defeat cancer…time to live!! Life has a new perspective! We kept this song pretty close to the arrangement of the “St. Paradise” version of this classic “Ted Nugent “song.
10.) "Raise A Little Hell" (R. McGuire and B. Smith) -James Welch – Lead Vocals / George Mahoney – Keyboards and Harmony Vocals/Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Harmony Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums / Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars
It’s a very cathartic feeling to know you have been given a chance to keep rockin’…time to do a bit of celebrating the victory! This song is from a Canadian band “Trooper”, who I first heard back in 1979 when my band toured Western Canada. It became our closing song every night! We added our own approach to this one…just playing it a bit “heavier”!
11.) "Stone Free" (J. Hendrix) Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – Lead Vocals and All Guitars / George Mahoney – Keyboards and Harmony Vocals/Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Harmony Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums
A reflection of hearing for the first time that I was totally cancer-free! We took two “Jimi Hendrix” songs (“Third Stone From The Sun” and “Stone Free”) and “morphed” them into one!
12.) "Things Yet To Come" (Y. Phillips and L. Lee) - George Mahoney – Lead Vocals and Keyboards / Mark Blythe – Bass Guitar and Vocals / Mike Claudio – Drums/Jack “Jaxxon” Schwarz – All Guitars / James Welch – Harmony Vocals
Just my personal message that I have more songs to write, more people to see, and lots more places to visit!! We totally rearranged this song, which was previously recorded by a relatively unknown band, “Sweathog”. We gave it an early “Uriah Heep” approach with a heavier feel!
We hope you enjoy it…
Jaxxon

 

     I have known Jack since early 2002 when I reviewed Fire Alley's self-titled release.  Over the years we have became good friends.  Therefore, when Jack sent me a copy of his new project to review I was more than happy to do so.  At the time Jack and his new band called Roxster recorded 'Influence' Jack was diagnosed with cancer.  So each of the twelve songs Jack chose to record Roxster recorded for a reason.  Jack explains these reasons above.  I have never been a huge fan of cover songs.  I have always looked at it from the perspective of why listen to a copy when you can listen to the original.  I only have one requirement when I listen to a cover song.  Did the band make the song/songs their own or did they play the song note for note off sheet music.  I think the musician should leave you with the feeling of they done the song so well it sounded as if they wrote it.  This is exactly what Roxster has done.  This is a great CD with a bunch of great classic rock cover songs.  For die-hard classic rock fans!!!!