THE RUFFYUNZ “Ruffyunz III”
Ruffyunz III finds bass wizard Randy Pratt and a bevy of guest stars continuing on his quest to create some of the grooviest and most heavenly grinding classic rock to be formed timeless but of this time. The throughline has been there with The Lizards and Cactus, but the attention to production and rhythm section heft here is at another level (see “Malevolent Fool” and the cavernous and yet funky “Red Lines”). There are layers of exquisite sound and an approach from Patt woven into the action that evokes a more grounded David Pastorius, both in sound and in nuanced decision-making.
THE LIZARDS “Against All Odds”
I finally broke through this band’s projecty feel and their kitschy name and graphics into a sublime enjoyment zone. Yes, Lizards leader Randy Pratt has coined the sound of this band and other old guys making vibrant, vibrational and phat new songs “new classic rock.” Totally. Put rampant musicologist Pratt together with tasty but unknown axeman Patrick Klein, and you’ve got two guys toiling for a love of being… classic. A two-fold raising of the stakes comes first with drummer Bobby Rondinelli of Sabbath, Rainbow and Blue Oyster Cult fame. Listen to Can’t Fool Myself if you want to hear the greatest performance of the man’s career. Not the mysteriously deceased Phil King, rather, he is the fill king. Second and last revealed embarrassment of richness comes with vocalist Mike DiMeo, who, like Russell Allen outside of Symphony X, leaves the restrictive metal pomp of Riot for what is HIS greatest record performance. Basically, all over this warm, rhythmic, varied, funky, charmed record, he is the sass of all of Jordan, dovetailing plushly with a gusting and guesting Glenn Hughes. And I’m sure it is the hopeless music expert ravaging (or more than likely alphabetizing, then reshuffling by producer, genre, year, label etc.) the lives of this collective that has decided to mix it up, dare, be progressive, bluesy, hard, and mystical of an almost pastoral and glammy nature come Ariel and My Dark Angel, while The Arrival Of Lyla is like a head-swimmingly invitational Babys song, with a lyric that will send a tingle up your spine. In any event, I’ve always liked The Lizards ‘til now, but never took them seriously. Within Against All Odds, new classic rock lives and rings bells, as it does within Pratt’s other recent credit Cactus, more so within Carmine Appice’s Ultimate Guitar Zeus thing, and even more so, and most so, in the goddamned lovely four records from Deep Purple since Steve Morse joined the band.