Viva La Rock Album Review
Renowned bassist Marco Mendoza releases his third solo album Viva La Rock, on March 2 via Mighty Music. This is his first solo release in seven years and will be supported by a European tour.
You really have to admire Mendoza’s work ethic. As bassist of The Dead Daisies he’s part of one of the hardest working bands in rock. They’ve recently finished one world tour, just announced another, and have recorded a new album in between. Somehow Mendoza has managed to find the time and energy to record this album and head out on his own tour. Phew!
So, has it been the wait? I’ll come to that later…
There are some similarities between Viva La Rock and Mendoza’s previous release, Live For Tomorrow. Both albums blend original material with tributes to artists and bands who have shaped Mendoza’s stellar career. Both albums have songs which show his love of family. And both albums have Blues, R’n’B and Funk influences running through them. However, Viva La Rock differs in one crucial respect: it is first and foremost a ROCK album.
After a short burst of guitar distortion, the album explodes into life with it’s blistering title track. It’s almost like Mendoza is issuing a rallying cry to rock music fans. And it’s a message delivered with all the things rock music fans love: powerful riffs, dazzling guitar solos and plenty of rock ‘n’ roll swagger. The pace doesn’t let up through Sue Is on The Run and Rocketman until we reach the first point of the album where there is a slight change in vibe.
If you’ve been to one of Mendoza’s live shows you’ll know that he likes nothing more than seeing the audience getting their groove on. Sweetest Emotions is one of those funky, catchy songs which will have audiences dancing and grooving – whether they want to or not! Classic Marco Mendoza.
In the first of two covers on the album, Mendoza pays tribute to Thin Lizzy with a storming version of Chinatown. Featuring Mike Tramp on vocals, there is one other special guest on this track which will be of interest to Dead Daisies fans in particular. Former Daisies and current G’n’R lead guitarist Richard Fortus hooks up with Mendoza once again to bring some serious guitar firepower to the party.
Next up is Burned. And for me this is the standout track of the album. It’s a song about making the same mistakes time after time and wondering why your life isn’t getting any better. But it’s got such a dirty, sexy groove and such an awesome hook that I just keep heading back to play it time and again. It’s the kind of song that I could imagine the likes of Prince and Lenny Kravitz performing. Sometimes it’s really good to be really, really bad!
Mendoza stays in rock sex god territory with next track, Love 2 U, before slowing things down with Leah, a heartfelt ballad about missing his wife. I guess more than anything it shows there is a personal price artists like Mendoza and their families have to pay in exchange for pursuing the rock ‘n’roll dream.
The second tribute on the album comes in the form of Ted Nugent’s Hey Baby. Again, if you’ve been to any of Mendoza’s live shows, you’ll be familiar with this blues rockin’ classic, and know just how much Mendoza values their time working together. This studio version retains all the feel of those live performances and simply kicks ass!
Viva La Rock rounds out with Let It Flow, which for the first two and a half minutes lulls you into a mellow, groovy false sense of security before exploding into a riff heavy fist pumping climax.
So, returning to my question at the beginning of this feature: is Viva La Rock worth the seven year wait? Unquestionably YES. That Marco Mendoza was able to find the time to record an album – any album – given his Dead Daisies commitments is impressive enough. That he has been able to create an album of this quality, is quite simply remarkable.
This is the Marco Mendoza album you have been waiting for. Brilliant!
Viva La Rock
Sue Is On The Run
Chinatown (feat. Mike Tramp)
Love 2 U
Let It Flow