“Deceived”: Jake E. Lee’s New Jam Is Awesome
It’s tough to warm to the vibe of Jake E. Lee’s new album and band, Red Dragon Cartel. Lee is a god — if not for his playing and writing on Ozzy’s Bark At The Moon and The Ultimate Sin (debatable), then for his triumphant next project, Badlands (irresistible) — but there’s an easy comparison at our disposal here to illustrate Lee’s RDC situation: Carlos Santana’s Supernatural. Like Supernatural, RDC (the album) rolls out a roster of guest vocalists to prick the attention of music-buying demos: Robin Zander for the olds, Maria Brink for the sads, Rex Brown for the poors, Paul DiAnno for no very good reason. And like Santana in 1999, Lee is returning from an abyss of sorts, reluctant though he may be, and like Supernatural‘s collection of shrieking bumper music, the resulting album only sometimes is recognizable as human.
The humanness is Lee’s and singer D.J. Smith’s, and it’s evidence of the former’s might and the latter’s energy that they survive clacking, brain-scorching sonics by Kevin Churko (shitty Ozzy, 5FDP). Take “Deceived,” RDC’s hard-charging first track: It’s like having a witty anecdote shouted into your ear at a party by a Canadian with foul breath; you jam only once you’ve flinched, cocked your head away from the speaker, and stopped breathing through your nose. Adjustments made, you appreciate the story’s characters (RDC‘s many great jams) and action (Lee still rips) — but not its telling. U jam?