Moonstone Project - Rebel Run (Blistering Records/Warner)

Italian guitar wizard Matt Filippino and cohort Alessandro Del Vecchio have put together an album of classic rock that will make any 70s/80s heavy rock fan pump one fist in the air while adjusting the codpiece with the other.

With Rebel Run, the second release under the Moonstone Project moniker, Matt Filippino has put together a solid rhythm unit including bassist Nik Mazzuccioni and UDO drummer Francesco Jovini, as well as Alessandro Del Vecchio on keys and production; and then invited some friends to join in. With guests like Uriah Heep keyboardist Ken Hensley, Deep Purple stalwart Ian Paice on Drums and James Christian from House Of Lords providing lead vocals it’s no wonder that this album has that classic rock feel.  In fact there’s a real strong Deep Purple vibe to Rebel Run circa Burn and Stormbringer: there's the solid rhythm, the keyboards really controlling the sound and the mood, and then Christian’s vocals tapping into that bluesy feel that David Coverdale had before the botox and big hair days. 

Especially on the wonderful Cosmic Blues which just drips with that early 70s feel, Jimi Hendrix like slow guitar, Christian really channels Coverdale, and the keyboards haunting the background are easily the best thing on the album. It's a pity the mood is instantly ruined by the Tommy Bolin track From Another Time with its asinine attempts at some sort of brazilian groove, that just sounds like it should have been a jam track that never saw the light of day.

But, things are saved with the title track, Rebel Run, putting the train back on track with a sound that wouldn’t have been out of place on the last House Of Lords album or the second Angel album even. Closer Than You Think, with special guest Glenn Hughes on vocals is a bloody shocker though, I don’t care what anyone says. If you replaced him with Darryl Braithwaite it would sound like a bad Sherbert single! (For you guys internationally, Sherbert were an Aussie mainstay pop band of the 70s – flared pants, pretty boys, satin shirts… you get the drift).

Luckily, Glenn only subjects us to one song and then its back into James and the solid Whitesnake/Deep Purple/Uriah Heep vibe again with Hey Mama and Madman cranking the pace again before the finisher, Halfway To Heaven, which shows us the good and the bad about the whole project. 

This is an album littered with great hooks, great riffs, and awesome musicians, but just occasionally there are too many cooks and the songs suffer for it.  They take detours just when things are really kicking in; just when you’re singing the chorus with gusto, one of the guests has to show off, has to strut their stuff – sometimes the songs just get too clever for their own good.  But hell, if I’d corralled these guys I’d probably want to show them off too I guess. 

What we get is a good album. It's not a great album but it has enough great moments that within a couple of spins you’ll find yourself singing along.  And Cosmic Blues is a fucking pearler!  That alone almost makes it worth your while.

Moonstone Project's Rebel Run is out now on Blistering/Warner.