Keeling, Kelly - Giving Sight To The Eye

Year of Release: 2005
Label: Mascot Records
Catalog Number: M 7071 2
Format: CD
Total Time: 53:56:00

With a voice that recalls folks like Ian Gillan, Glenn Hughes, Sammy Hagar, Bryan Adams, and other husky voiced rock singers, listening to this mostly guitar-centric album is like listening to classic rock radio; this is chockfull of radio-ready rockers, making the mid-to-late 70s are alive 'n' well in the 00s. Each song is distinct from the other, no two songs capturing the same classic feel. You will sing along, tap your feet and find something of yourself perhaps in the lyrics. And I don't think this whole channeling of the past is meant to be a secret or mere coincidence.

What's the "this" I'm talking about? Kelly Keeling's 2005 solo release Giving Sight To Eye - which is a star-studded affair -- and is a kick-ass way to launch one's solo career. Keeling is probably most known to progressive rock listeners from his guest appearances with Erik Norlander and Lana Lane, though you'll also find him on albums by Alice Cooper, Dokken, Baton Rouge, Blue Murder, King Cobra, Michael Schenker, John Norum and many others. And some of these folks have lent Keeling a hand to bring this debut to fruition - Carmine Appice, Vinnie Appice, Don Dokken, Norum, Tony Franklin, as well as Shane Galaas, Roger Daltrey, and Kerry Livgren.

Giving Sight To The Eye comes charging out of the gate with the storm-churning "Rising Of The Snake" - a piece that will make you think of the heaviest of Deep Purple, though there are other 70s heavy metal references to be found here, too. Maybe a touch of Dio? It's a piece that does end strangely ... just petering out. You'd expect it end with a howl, and a crash of percussion or something but... nope.

The slinky-psychedelic-blues of "Parasite" -- a track that takes aim at corrupt elements of the music business (symbolic and a personal dig) -- also contains a few, very faint, hints of latter day Beatles. Besides screaming guitar and a stomping, aggressive rhythm, we get lots of organ ... And there's no doubt of the 70s vibe in the funky "Broken," which has a James Brown-like vibe, again with lots of screamin' Hammond organ, Wayne Hammerly this time, the funk provided by the drumming of John Perrine (Saint) and Keeling's guitar and bass work... I hear shades of Lenny Kravitz, too, come to think of it.

More classic moves in the power-blues-ballad "Perfect Day," so "classic" in sound is it, it's just written all over it. That whiskey soaked voice, the tender but bittersuite delivery, a heart-wrenching guitar solo... In another age - about 15, 20 years ago - this would be a radio and MTV staple. It falls somewhere between Kravitz, Aerosmith, Soundgarden, and Dave Matthews Band. Balladic though it is, don't expect to find a syrupy love-ballad; the topic is keeping faith in self and God (not necessarily in that order). And a mid-tempo Glenn Hughes-like vibe permeates "Believe," a highly melodic piece that pairs Keeling with Dokken on vocals. Acoustic guitar elements add a bit of a mid-western colouring to the proceedings. This leads into the album's second ballad, the low-key, acoustic based "Sunlight Needs The Day." It's breathier, floatier than "Perfect Day," and recalls Paul McCartney's Beatles and solo material ... perhaps moreso, Eric Clapton's "Bell Bottom Blues." A moment worth a knowing chuckle is the lyric "Looking out my window Monday afternoon / They'd say a perfect day / So cliché..."

Epic, soaring, arena-size AOR rock gets the nod in "Ground Zero," where keyboards take the lead. I'm sorry, that should be EPIC, in big, bold, towering letters ... cathedral-like atmospherics... euphoric. The classic rock artists being channeled here are mostly Kansas, with lots of orchestrations and big choruses, operatic voices floating around. Well I did say this was E P I C. Well, the Kansas element is obvious, Livgren composed this piece and plays grand piano on it; Carmen Appice provides the drums and percussion. The rest is Keeling on lead and choir vocals, harmonies, bass, organ, and "memory Moog." It's an excellently epic track that will most grab prog minded listeners. Modern references would be Livgren's own Proto-Kaw... which also seems obvious... and there are a few moments that kinda recall latter-period um... Marillion... sort of that This Strange Engine breadth.

The throaty, dark, heavy, boomy "Nothing" might make you think of Guns 'N' Roses' take on Paul McCartney's "Live And Let Die," at least until the chorus kicks in. It starts out with lots of attitude then backs it up with easy, strutting confidence... Thin Lizzy, Lynyrd Skynyrd... that kind mid-west/south casual cool, with full-bodied melodic choruses that bring in yet more references. Providing the fat bass sound here is Franklin, while lead guitar duties here are from Norum. In fact, before long, it does sound a bit like barely controlled chaos with the throbbing bass and searing guitar taking over... Carmine ably keeping up with this tempest. A touch of Led Zeppelin closes out the piece with some middle-eastern guitar atmospheres (pre-saging a later piece).

Led Zeppelin - specifically through those first Bonham-sized drum beats ("Rock N' Roll") - and Nirvana - through the moody and mumbled vocals and acidic guitars -- are the colours that paint "Hell Is On The Way." But, for all the fiery energy and angst-driven vocals (though it's actually the urgent voice of a would-be savior trying to wake the damned-in-waiting), there's something very sparse about the arrangement, and this is revealed by the empty space between the powerful, crisp drumming by Appice (nice bit of soloing to close out the piece) and the fiery, churning leads from Keeling.

"Peace With The World" is Keeling's unstated homage to John Lennon, both in arrangement and in the song's message of finding internal peace (not eternal... well, eternal internal peace, I suppose)... leading to external peace. Flutes, acoustic guitar (from Steppenwolf's Danny Johnson), sparse electric guitar, orchestrations, dreamy-vocals... all give this piece a bucolic feel. (And just to make things weird, Keeling sounds a bit like Jon Bon Jovi every once in a while).

Though there's no hint of Ringo here... 'cept maybe in the drums in "Hell..." once they lose their Bonhamness (though they are more Kinks-like than Beatles) ... the magical Beatles tour concludes with "Jesse," as it's George Harrison that is recalled here, mostly in the guitar (and Clapton isn't far away). Though in truth, the reference here is to Badfinger, for whom Harrison played some guest guitaring on their classic "Day After Day." "Jesse" captures that mood in a soft-rock ballad where Keeling shares vocal duties with guitarist Denny Laine (Moody Blues, Ginger Baker's Airforce, and Wings) and Daltrey (The Who (of course)). Keeling'll later "guitar duel" with Drake Bell. Other references, The Hollies, The Guess Who...

Not quite as much an homage as Steve Morse's Major Impacts releases, but an homage filled release to be sure. And very well done. Minuses for me are only the awkward ending to "Rising..." and the sense-that-something's-missing feeling about "Hell Is On The Way." It's hard not to like Giving Sight To The Eye, there's just a feel good vibe running through every track - and yes, aside from the obviously sentimental love song of "Jesse," "Broken" (about leaving a relationship where the other party is self-destructive) and the aforementioned "Parasite," the songs deal with religious themes - finding, keeping, or regaining faith and the like. But it's not so heavy-handed that the not-so-religious can't get into the music. Good start to another phase of Keeling's career.

Rising Of The Snake (3:30) / Parasite (5:24) / Broken (4:05) / Perfect Day (5:08) / Ground Zero (8:33) / Nothing (5:41) / Believe (4:11) / Sunlight Needs The Day (4:27) / Hell Is On The Way (4:44) / Peace With The World (4:44) / Jesse (3:23)

Kelly Keeling - lead vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, organ, mellotron, piano, memory Moog, wooden krsna flute
Carmine Applice - drums (4, 5, 6, 7, 11), percussion (5), vocals (11)
Vinnie Appice - drums (9)
Drake Bell - first of duelling guitar solos (11)
Roger Daltrey - vocals (11)
Don Dokken - harmonies, co-lead vocals in chorus (7)
Wayne Findlay - rhythm guitar (9)
Tony Franklin - fretless bass (4, 6)
Shane Galaas - drums (8, 10)
Wayne Hammerly - Hammond C-3 organ (7)
Danny Johnson - 12-string acoustic (10)
Denny Laine - vocals, acoustic guitar, electric rhythm guitars (11)
Kerry Livgren - piano (5)
Richard Mann - percussion (11)
John Norum - lead guitar (6)
John Perrine - drums, percussion (1, 3, )
Pat Regan - mellotron (4)
Bernie Smith - trombone (8, 11)

Baton Rouge - Shake Your Soul (1990)
Alice Cooper - Hey Stoopid (1991)
Blue Murder - Nothing But Trouble (1993)
John Norum - Another Destination (1995)
Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus - Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus (JP version w/JP guitarists) (1995)
Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus - Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus (EU version w/EU-US-UK guitarists) (1995)
Carmine Appice's Guitar Zeus - Guitar Zeus II: Channel Mind Radio (1997)
John Norum - Face It Live '97 (1997)
John Norum - World's Away (1997)
Michael Schenker Group - The Unforgiven (1998)
Michael Schenker Group - The Unforgiven World Tour Live (1999)
Heaven And Earth - Windows To The World (2001)
King Cobra - Hollywood Trash (2001)
DBA - Doin' Business As (2001)
Dokken - Long Way Home (2002)
Michael Schenker - Forever And More, The Best Of MS (2003)
Erik Norlander - Music Machine (2003)
Jack Ponti - Jack Ponti Presents, Volume 1 (2003)
Dokken - Hell To Pay (2004)
Erik Norlander - Stars Rain Down (2004)
George Lynch - Furious George (2004)
Giving Sight To The Eye (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: January 23rd 2006
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 903
Language: english


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