Rock Machine(Mumbai)

November 15, 2007


RATING :: 8/10


(1990) 1. Turn It On 2. Bowl Of Madness 3. Crazy 4. Die For Your Country 5. Believing 6. Cinderella 7. Pretty Child 8. Screamin’ .

Out Three years after the ambitious 1987 debut Rock N’ Roll Renegade, Rock Machine released their second and last album under their name. It was called The Second Coming, contained the same lineup as the debut, and I will tell you immediately that this was much better, and in my opinion, should be considered a classic of the Indian rock. Mastered onto compact disc, The Second Coming is more mature, harder, better written, more memorable and better played than the debut, and this time the album mix is much better too! Not a perfect mix, but excellent for the time; the guitars are louder, the bass is louder so we can hear really how good Mark Selwyn is and generally everything sounds full and clear. Of course, if Mark Menezes used real drums instead of digital pads, this album would sound even better! The album also features more of Zubin Balaporia’s excellent keyboard work. Lyrically, Rock Machine partially moved on from the typical 80’s lyrics and concentrated on more interesting topics such as empty patriotism and personal frustration, always stressing on the belief than an individual should do what he or she believes in. Fans of the first release need to worry though, the corny love numbers are still there, just in better musical form. An outstanding feature of this album is the memorable songwriting and varied song structures. Songs range from straight out rock formats to a moderately progressive construction. I couldn’t have asked for a better opener than Turn It On; it kicks off with a simple Van Halen-esque keyboard melody and riff, a flowing bassline, and a very rocking chorus that is constantly repeated. Uday’s vocals are significantly better, though he still isn’t going wild on the choruses. Midway, the song attains a very progressive structure; a few off breaks and one killer, feel oriented lead played by Mahesh Tinaikar, backed by outstanding bass playing. Even vocally, there’s some duality going on, reminding me of a song by Bangalore’s progressive rock band, Cryptic. The song features environmentally aware lyrics, and musically Rock Machine have done everything right on this. Mid-era Def Leppard song structure is obvious on Bowl Of Madness, a straight forward hard rock number. Guitar picking followed by a nice riff and similar keyboard melody start off something that turns into a very impressive song. Mahesh’s lead is absolutely blistering; the song has a lot of those funny Def Leppard style effects and contains one infectious chorus. Uday, who in parts sounds a lot like Joe Elliott of Leppard, is quite impressive as well. “Turn It On” and “Bowl Of Madness” are two excellent openers for an album of this style. The two love oriented songs fortunately aren’t mushy AOR pieces, as on the first album, and instead are pretty fast and hard. Crazy really grows on the listener; the first listen may make it sound a bit confused as it is quite long, but after a couple of listens things seem a lot clearer. The song fades in after a silly sample; the verse is typical to this type of music and the rhythm section is very tight. Uday manages a nice high pitch on the chorus, which is another infectious chorus that may have you singing even when you’re not playing the song. The song is primarily simple, but midway the guitar and keyboards do form a progressive feel; Mahesh as usual is top-notch on his solo. Zubin too, experiments with his keyboard tone, applying a flute sound during a bridge part. “Crazy” is very good though Cinderella is even better. The structure is similar; however everything is executed with more finesse. The song sounds a lot like Leppard’s faster love fantasy songs, especially the catchy chorus. Both the guitar and bass playing are stupendous; Selwyn forms a strong backbone to Mahesh’s leads and multiple guitar melodies. “Stay the night, don’t go away This doesn’t happen every day It just happens every night! Night! Night!” Heh, that part sounds very amusing. Die For Your Country, at 7 minutes, is almost an epic and possibly the best song on The Second Coming. Lyrically, Rock Machine really cut to the heart of the matter and I agree with them a hundred per cent. Modern war is bullshit, and politicians send the youth to “fight for their country”, and as these kids die, them politicians enjoy their black money. I, for one, am not dying for my country anytime soon. There are no heroes in modern war, only victims. The lyrics are written with conviction, but Uday could’ve delivered them more convincingly later on in the song, when they carry the most importance. The song moves along nicely, going through verse and chorus, and is crafted agreeably and simply. Almost midway, it becomes quite progressive as Zubin plays a keyboard solo that would feel at home in the vaults of Dream Theater, and Jayesh Gandhi’s rhythm playing moves well with the keyboards. The last segment of the song is most effective, emotions ranging from sadness to anger, backed by army-marching like drums before the song plunges back into its original structure. The lead didn’t impress me though, it had Slash written all over it. “The war is over, and you’re another name on a slab of stone The politicians played their game; they made you throw your life away How come they never die for their country? How you wish that you were there, To hold her hand, to touch her hair, But you had to go and die for your country.” Believing contains the best riff of the album. The guitar volume is suitably high, and the riff has a funk chunk feel to it, much like Purpendicular-era Deep Purple. Good use of backing vocals, a good chorus and a virtuoso lead make “Believing” another rocking, memorable song. As with the rest of the album, the rhythm section is impeccable. Zubin’s keyboard playing goes well with the guitar melodies, especially in the end, though the keyboard is too low on the mix. Screamin’ Out has trademark Motley Crue riffing, and if Uday sounded anything like Vince Neil this song would fit well in an album like Theater Of Pain. It has cute cock-rock feel to it, and it would sound perfect if there were no keyboards present on it. The organ tone doesn’t particularly suit the song, but the various breaks and changes along with another excellent chorus, lead and lyrics turn “Screamin’ Out” into a perfect end to the album. The second last song on The Second Coming known as Pretty Child, got Rock Machine some amount of fame, as MTV made a video of it and it won the “Best Music Video in Asia” award at the 1993 MTV Awards. It also has Rock Machine, for the first, fusing an Indian instrument (tabla) and the soprano sax with a rock ballad. This style is used in extremis in Indus Creed’s album (The 90’s form of Rock Machine). However, in my opinion, this is the weakest track on this album, though it isn’t bad. It moves well, the fusion parts sound nice, but the lyrics don’t suit my liking. The vocals are too obviously up-front and this can get rather irritating. The fusion aspect is utilized better on Indus Creed, and if a song from The Second Coming was to get famous, it should’ve been “Die For Your Country” or “Turn It On”. Trust MTV to choose the most commercial song, eh?! The Second Coming has no bad songs on it, and has a few undeniably brilliant moments. In its own genre, I consider this a classic, and coming out of India this is quite a big deal. This is an immensely enjoyable album, and the more I spin it, the more I like it! Another glam release such as this wouldn’t have hurt anyone, but Indus Creed’s self titled album was brilliant too, on a whole different level. Kudos to a these six musicians for releasing some truly memorable original music at a time when there was hardly an Indian rock scene to talk about. (4/5)


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