Neil Merryweather: lead vocals, bass
Janne Stark: guitar, bass
TrumPeter Svensson: drums
Mastered by Janne Stark
Mixed by Martin Jepsen Andersen
Artwork by Janne Stark
300 copies pressed
Merryweather Stark is the band moniker for Canadian bass player and vocalist Neil Merryweather and Swedish guitarist Janne Stark. Both musicians have prolific and impressive careers with various bands, individual appearances, and and personal projects across nearly five decades. Merryweather and Stark met when the former did vocals for several songs on Volume Three for Stark's Mountain Of Power band. The collaboration continued into Merryweather Stark and their first recording Carved In Rock.
The album title is apropos. Merryweather Stark basically plays heavy rock, with a touch of blues and psychedelic rock. Stark's riffs could be called both thick and brisk, but at times fuzzed out. Perhaps another way to describe his guitar style is raw and aggressive. His riffs and leads are definitely the centerpeice of the Merryweather Stark sound. On the vocals, Merryweather sings melodic and clean yet has a tone that tunes to Stark's guitar lines. Then there's the rhythm section which is also heavy and aggressive. as well, laying down a thick groove. Actually, of all these parts, I was quite impressed with the drumming. Though uncredited in the press release, this fellow lays down some great flourish and groove within Lay Your Body Down, Rockers Lament, and Love And War. After these things, the songs that captured the most interest were the ones where the psychedelic blues groove were stronger. Good examples come with We Got To Own This Thing, Give 'Em Hell, Boy, and What's It Gonna Be. Fundamentally, if you enjoy guitar-forward heavy rock spiced with a psychedelic blues feeling, you will appreciate Merryweather Stark's Carved In Rock.
Call it being Carved In Rock, call it getting a mighty great boot up the ass in the shape of a riff grooved monster. Hell, call it what you want, but if you're looking for an album to dig in deep and leave you breathless thanks to its authentic blues busting, groove gyrating chops, then, this is where you should be.
If you don't already know, Neil Merryweather is a hugely respected bassist and vocalist who is renowned for his work with Space Rangers, Steve Miller, Lita Ford and well, countless others. Having previously guested on Janne Stark's Mountain Of Power - Vol. 3 disc, the pair have decided to team up and take their brand of down and dirty guitar slinging to the masses and we should be grateful they did. Stark is no slouch either, Locomotive Breath, Constancia, Overdrive and Grand Design all benefitting from his thunderous guitar goodness, but this guy also writes books and reviews about the scene he's part of and a wider scope of music in general. In short Stark is the sort of guy who lives and breathes this music. Hence it's no surprise that combined with the boisterous bass work and stunning vocals of Merryweather, this pair have come up with something just a little special.
Adding an occasional psychedelic groove to proceedings, Carved In Rock came here to hit hard and leave you craving for more. And that's exactly what opener "Irma La Douce" does, a shambolic tumble of sounds giving way to the sort of stinging guitar line and riff that Hendrix would have braved the crosstown traffic for. However from there the staccato bursts are all about making maximum impact, the shout out of this song's chorus just irresistible. "It Ain't Pretty" adds a bluesier flavour, but it's still the combination of spiralling bass and guitar that has you nodding in approval. Throughout, drummer Peter "Trumpeter" Svensson revels in the enviable job of nailing all this riffmongering down and building the base of the groove, as he simply refuses to waste a single beat or cymbal smash along the way.
From the mean and moody "Give 'Em Hell, Boy" to the darting forays and melodically laced riff of "Love And War" - which hits like early Van Halen - this juggernaut of hard hitting rock just keeps on firing. And no matter how many times you abuse the repeat button on this guaranteed party starter, the standard simply never drops.
Hopefully Merryweather Stark is set to be a name we're going to get used to hearing from again and again. If Carved In Rock is anything to go by, the mark they're sure to leave will be as indelible as the title of their debut album suggests.
-Steven Reid, seaoftranquility.org
Merryweather Stark is the uniting of Canadian bassist/vocalist Neil Merryweather and Swedish guitarist Janne Stark. The pair having nearly one hundred combined years in the music industry playing with an assortment of diverse artists. With Carved in Rock, their debut album from GMR Music, they deliver a no-frills, straightforward slab of 70s influenced hard rock.
Merryweather has a long career as a singer, bass player, composer and producer including playing and recording with Mama Lion, Heavy Cruiser, Eyes, Lita Ford, Steve Miller, Randy California, Hundred Watt Head and under his own name. Whereas Stark has released numerous albums with bands like Overdrive, Grand Design, Constancia, Locomotive Breath, Balls and Mountain of Power. The latter was also the project that started this new collaborative journey, Merryweather guesting on two tracks and and two his songs featured on Mountain of Power’s Volume Three album.
Following completion of that album the pair started talking about the possibility of doing something further together. Stark sent Merryweather a song he had been working on and two days later received lyrics and vocal melodies written for the track that became ‘Babylon – Sin City’. From thereon it was full throttle.
“The writing process has been so effortless and so much fun,” said Stark. “Some songs I’ve had the basic musical idea for, sent it to Neil, he got back with vocal ideas and lyrics, maybe switched things around so that the bridge became a chorus and the solo section became a verse. Some songs Neil came up with and I added some additional ideas. We also did a rerecording of one of Neil’s old tracks: ‘Always Be You’, which he still sings in the same key it was originally recorded in 1974.” The track will appear as a bonus track for the vinyl version of Carved In Rock.
The pair chose Martin J Andersen (Blindstone, Meridian) to mix the album as they were looking for a classic, dynamic, seventies oriented sound without sounding dated, with real acoustic drums, bass, guitars and tube amps! Drums on the album were handled by Peter (TrumPeter) Svensson, whom Stark has worked with consistently since the 80s..
Musically, the Merryweather Stark album features a mix of crunchy riff rock, funky rhythms, seventies hard rock, high speed riffs, mid paced classic rock and a touch of bluesy licks. The lyrics ranges from tongue-in-cheek songs such as ‘Rockers Lament’ to matters reflecting what’s happening in the world today, with the likes of ‘What’s It Gonne Be’ and ‘Give ‘Em Hell, Boy’. The record is available now from GMR Music.
-Paul H Birch, ramzine.co.uk
EXCELLENT DEBUT DISC BY THIS KILLER HARD ROCK BAND FEATURING NEIL MERRYWEATHER ON VOCALS AND JANNE "RIFF:MASTER" STARK ON GUITAR. INCLUDES 11 TRACKS OF WAY-KOOL, BAD-ASS, RETRO-FIED, BLUES-BASED, HEAVY GUITAR ROCK THAT LANDS BRAIN-DAMAGING WITH HIGH ENERGY, OLD-SCHOOL SWAGGER & PURE ROCK FURY.
NEIL MERRYWEATHER (SPACE RANGERS / STEVE MILLER / LITA FORD HEAVY CRUISER...ETC.) FROM LAS VEGAS (SIN CITY) IS AN AMAZING SOUL POWERED 70S ROCK VOCALIST WHO HAS BEEN KEEPING THE ROCK ALIVE SINCE THE LATE 60S AND LANDS WITH HIS HEAVIEST MUSICAL EFFORT TO DATE ON THE "CARVED IN ROCK" DISC. JANNE STARK (MOUNTAIN OF POWER LOCOMOTIVE BREATH / OVERDRIVE / CONSTANCIA / GRAND DESIGN...ETC) FROM SWEDEN IS A KICK-ASS, PROLIFIC, HARD RIFF-ROCKIN', SIX STRING ANIMAL WHO DEFINITELY ROCKS THE HOUSE DOWN WITH HIS POWERFUL BRAND OF KILLER HEAVY GUITAR ROCK RIFFAGE + AXE RIPPIN' LEAD GUITAR ACTION. THIS INTERNATIONAL HARD ROCK DUO FIRST JAMMED TOGETHER ON THE AWESOME MOUNTAIN OF POWER - "VOLUME THREE" DISC AND THAT OUTSTANDING MOP-V3 JAM LED TO THE EXCELLENT NEW BAND. BETWEEN THESE TWO CLASSIC HARD ROCK N' ROLL VETERANS, THEY HAVE BOTH LANDED AND BEEN PART OF OVER 100 DISCS WHICH IS ALL ABOUT THE ROCK!!!
THE "CARVED IN ROCK" DISC IS AN ESSENTIAL KICK ASS, POWERFUL HARD ROCKER THAT IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TO FANS OF NEIL MERRYWEATHER'S SPACE RANGERS, JANNE STARK, MOUNTAIN OF POWER, SNAKE HEAD RITUAL, STRANGER, AMERICAN MAFIA, HARD DRIVER...ETC. AND TO PEOPLE WHO DIG AWESOME, OLD-SCHOOL-INSPIRED MEETS MODERN DAY HEAVY ROCK MUSIC.