Album of the Week 19-2012: Stone Axe – Captured Live!

Stone Axe is simply the best Classic Rock band since the mid-seventies. Many bands have attempted to reach back to the sound of the early seventies, but no band has done that with the amount of class and conviction that Stone Axe does it with. After two downright stellar studio albums, guitarist – well, multi-instrumentalist actually – Tony Dallas Reed and singer Dru Brinkerhoff thought the time was right to release a live album, this time as a full band with drummer Mykey Haslip and bassist Mike DuPont. I can be really short about the result: Stone Axe is every bit as good live as they are on their albums.

For those who are not familiar with the band, Stone Axe’s music sounds like it could have been recorded during the first half of the glorious seventies. And they would have definitely belonged to the top bands of the era if they did. Artists that come to mind while listening to this are Free, Cream, CCR, Band Of Gypsys-era Hendrix, Thin Lizzy and a hint of Black Sabbath, while Brinkerhoff’s bluesy howl (listen to the spectacular ‘Black Widow’ to hear it in full effect) reminds me of David Coverdale in his younger years. If you like any of the artists I just mentioned and don’t own any Stone Axe records yet, get off your lazy ass and get them.

As with many Rock bands, the live environment fits Stone Axe very well. The energy heard on the albums translates well to the Roadburn festival stage and I’m under the impression that the intimacy between the band and the crowd lifts them to a higher level. The songs don’t sound radically different than on the albums – right down to the amazing seventies drum sound – but why should they? Reed and Brinkerhoff have written a bunch of brilliant songs and they don’t need to be altered.

Additionally, the setlist could serve very well as an introduction to Stone Axe’s impressive music. I wouldn’t say all of the best tracks are on here – one ‘Those Were The Golden Years’, one ‘Riders Of The Night’ and one ‘King Of Everything’ would be missing for that – but there are amazing renditions of the brilliantly built-up ‘Chasing Dragons’, the rocking ‘Old Soul’ and ‘Ain’t Gonna Miss It’, the aforementioned Blues scorcher ‘Black Widow’ and the breathtaking slightly psychedelic monster track ‘The Skylah Rae’.

Given the chance, I could go on for hours and hours about why Stone Axe is such a fantastich band that deserves to be heard, but in the end, it’s the music that should do the proverbial talking. If you like Classic Rock, you need to hear Stone Axe and let them into your heart. Period. You even might end up liking Classic Rock almost as much as Tony Dallas Reed. Until you’re there, just get ‘Captured Live!’ – and while you’re at it, get ‘Stone Axe’ and “Stone Axe II’ as well if you don’t already have them – and let the music do all the work. You’ll love it.

Recommended tracks: ‘The Skylah Rae’, ‘Black Widow’, ‘Old Soul’, ‘Chasing Dragons’

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