Imagine learning to play guitar at the age of 7 only to think that you have a late start on things. Now imagine growing up to the age where you can be your own man and decide to move to California to become a studio session guitarist — not an easy feat by any means. Okay, you make it to California. Now imagine being robbed the first night. Imagine what goes through a person’s mind at a time like that. It would have been easy to give up and turn around. It’s clearly obvious that the person being talked about is John 5 (real life name John Lowery) and all of the events mentioned actually happened while he was growing up. What kind of effect something like this has on a person depends on that person. What it did was prepare him and put him in the right frame of mind to fit into the L.A. scene without missing a beat. Besides, having talent goes a long way out there no matter how different you are.
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John 5’s latest solo effort, The Devil Knows My Name, is definitely a step in the right direction in trying to understand the man and his music. He has certainly met a lot of people in his day since moving out to L.A. and made a large number of contacts, all of whom seemed eager enough to help him out and land him gigs when he needed them. Having worked with the likes of John Wetton (Asia), Robin Zander (Cheap Trick), Wilson Phillips, Salt-N-Pepa, Rick Springfield, Ozzy Osbourne (he would form Red Square Black with Ozzy’s drummer Randy Castillo later in his career), Night Ranger, Lita Ford, k.d. lang, Two, David Lee Roth, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, Meat Loaf, and Paul Stanley (KISS), and many others. These were just the bands where John 5 played. There was also soundtrack work, CD’s, and DVD’s. John 5 has been busy his entire career because he is talented and well-rounded. He shows that he can and does play all types of genres when it comes to music.
To date, John 5 has had two previous solo recordings; Vertigo (2004) and Songs For Sanity (2005). His latest release, The Devil Knows My Name, features guest guitarists Joe Satriani, Jim Root (Slipknot), and Eric Johnson. Fellow Rob Zombie bandmates Tommy Clufetos and Piggy D. handle the drum and bass responsibilities on the album, respectively. The opening track named “First Victim” makes you think just that. It puts out the eeriest and most frightening sounds that you will ever come across. How he makes those sounds is pure genius. John 5 is a true artist when it comes to this type of endeavor. The second track, “The Werewolf of Westeria,” features the incomparable Joe Satriani doubling his way all the way through the track. According to John 5, this is the only album that all leads were doubled -– an instrumental feat that is rarely taken on by the best of the guitar players. The shredding in this track is just amazing. It is balls to the walls, heavy as hell, and the best tune on the LP.
“27 Needles” is a very unique yet interesting track. It has a Southern & Bluegrass sounds to it, but done in a way that rocks. It has a unique creativity only John 5 can come up with that makes it so enjoyable. “Bella Kiss” is another experience that has to be heard to be appreciated. The next track “Black Widow of La Porte” features Jim Root as the second axeman. A good rockin’ tune with a nice mixture of leads by both guitarists all around. “Welcome To the Jungle” is a remake of the Guns N’ Roses classic track. A pleasant surprise actually, one never knows what to expect with remakes. “Harold Rollings Hymn” is something really short and odd – out of the ordinary – that is probably why it’s here. The next track, “Dead Art Plainfield” is a pretty cool and rockin’ tune in itself. It has a real catchy sound that you can’t help but to get into.
“Young Thing” is a Chet Atkins remake. Not familiar with this type of genre? All that will be said on this subject is that the tune has some nice guitar work that you will appreciate. “The Washing Away Of Wrong” features the last guest guitarist, Eric Johnson. Don’t be fooled, Mr. Johnson can hold his own. He is a very well known and respected guitarist in his own right. This is a different type of style that Eric is accustomed to playing. It is a little surprising to see him do something like this. He does hold his own, however. “July 31st (The Last Stand)” closes out the 11 tracks. A bunch of uniquely created eerie sounds that John 5 somehow puts to music and creates a song. Only his mind can work this way.
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Even after multiple listens, the new John 5 still sounds fresh enough and interesting to want to hear it again. That’s always a good sign.
George was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He has engineering degrees in Chemical and Electrical Engineering. He favors Metal, Rock, Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Blues, and even some Jazz and Motown (depending on the tune). He used to dabble with the bass quite some time ago. His most influential bassists are Jaco, Billy Sheehan, Stu Hamm, Geddy Lee, and John Entwistle (RIP Ox). Band-wise he’s really into Rush, Tool, early Metallica, Pink Floyd (including Waters and Gilmour as solo artists), The Who, Iced Earth, Iron Maiden, Halford, Joe Satriani, certain Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert Collins (Blues guitarist), Motörhead, and a German band called Skew Siskin that Lemmy says in an interview as being “the best band out there today.”