With a career spanning 35 years Lee Aaron is probably Canada’s first lady of rock music cited by artists as diverse as Alanis Morissette and Shania Twain. Success came mainly in the late 80’s and early 90’s with “Bodyrock” and “Some Girls Do” before a change of direction took Lee into a more Jazz and Blues influenced arena. The new album “Diamond Baby Blues” however is much more Rock orientated with 7 diverse cover versions added to 5 songs of original material with a definite classic 70’s twist.
“Diamond Baby” is a great album opener and makes me wonder why a wholly original album was not offered when the songwriting ability is so high. A great guitar riff with Lee Aaron sounding better than ever on vocals makes for a very good memorable rock song. “Mistreated” is a classic Deep Purple song and many bands have attempted to imitate the sound of Richie Blackmore and failed. However, this cover version is brilliantly done with the emphasis on the blues style which works far better than trying to just copy a classic tune. A special mention must go to Sean Kelly (guitars) who absolutely nails the solos on this track. Along with Lee’s rock voice, this is one of the best cover versions of a Deep Purple song I have heard. “American High” is the second original song co-written with the guitar player and it certainly shows. This song is sure to be a live favourite with the singalong chorus and great guitar playing.
“I’m A Woman” is a Koko Taylor cover which she adapted from the Bo Diddley penned “I’m A Man”. This song is obviously as bluesy as it gets and showcases Lee’s amazing adaptability within her vocal range. “Mercy” and “The Best Thing” are solely penned by Lee Aaron bringing her songwriting and commercial ability to the fore. Both songs sit comfortably within the rock/blues genre and the whole band excel in their musicianship.
The next track was a definite surprise, “Black Cat” was originally a number 1 track in 1990 for Janet Jackson. Lee Aaron has added her swagger and upped the hard rock to improve this song no end. Another great cover version.
I had never heard of the next cover “Hard Road” so I checked out the original by Stevie Wright after hearing Lee Aaron’s version. Once again a very good song which does not stray too far from the original rocker.
“In The Bedroom” is the last song on the album written by Aaron and the guitarist Sean Kelly. I actually laughed out when listening to the song, the lyrics showing a wicked sense of humour carried by a very good blues/rock tune.
The last 3 songs are all covers “Cut Way Back”, You’re No Good” and “My Babe”. For me “You’re No Good” is the best. A song originally sung by Dee Dee Warwick in 1963 and since covered by Van Halen, Dusty Springfield and Linda Rondstadt. Lee Aaron makes the song her own and completely deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the legends who have previously sung the song.
This is an album I have enjoyed immensely and will continue listening to. Lee Aaron has a voice which it seems is improving with age. The songwriting on the 5 original tracks is superb and I only hope an album of all original material will be in the offering one day. However, the cover versions are all masterfully done and are not out of place on this record. I hope a visit to the UK is on the cards soon.
Traditional Heavy Metal purists will find plenty to like about ULTIMA RATIO REGIS. The overall sound and production of the album feels a little thin on occasion, but it does add something to the authenticity of the older sound. The riffs are many, and apart from a handful of generic rhythm riffs, the guitar work as a whole is top-notch. METAL INQUISITOR’S fourth album is their most complete and relevant work yet and definitely deserves a fair go.