John Diva & The Rockets Of Love
In this, their latest release, the band rolls out a tight roller-coaster of excessive Rock and the solidity and synchronicity the band presents throughout is exemplary. A hedonistic release flamboyantly stomping in with an American gusto that would be expected from the 1980's, the band sure-footedly grabs you with it's infectious vital Rock and pomp. Even whilst unsure as to whether I actually liked what I was hearing, I found that my mood was instantly picked up and I was transported to a place in my very core where energy and enthusiasm remains undiminished! The band present their first song 'Voodoo Sex & Vampires' hurling you into that dangerously naughty and exuberant place that we all love to lose ourselves in every now and again, and as guitarist Snake Rocket states, “our hard songs are even harder and faster, our flashy pieces even flashier”. The surprise banjo slide solo in this track integrates well with the lead electric guitars and is unusual to hear on a Rock song such as this but works really well.
John Diva was independently brought up in San Diego, California, by his mother who was fully immersed in the Rock scene, and in his formative years it seems that he would have been rocking out even whilst feasting at the teat! His absent father was busy as a showband musician touring the casino circuit in the States but it seems that John nevertheless had a full, engaging and enthusiastic upbringing. He lives and breathes show-off Rock with such an abundant persona I reckon it must flow through his veins!
His musical influences, nurtured through childhood, led him whilst still at school to pal up with guitarist J.J. Love, another Rock head. Having just immigrated from Mexico, Love enjoyed introducing John to the German Heavy Metal band, the Scorpions, a band whose music and accent he bloody-mindedly embraced at that time. Whilst still at school the two toyed with the thought of forming a band, and although Diva first started writing songs at this time, life just took over.
Leaving school, John flitted between jobs before finally finding himself in 1986 fully empowered as a songwriter for bands including Guns 'n' Roses, Mötley Crüe, Bon Jovi and Aerosmith. This ultimately led him to embrace an opulent narcissistic lifestyle and he played it hard enjoying all the pleasures that money, drugs and groupies can bring. He wholeheartedly lived the dream before a shift in musical trend and taste in the early nineties found him out of popular demand for his songwriting skills. With his attitude of “the challenge lies in growing, testing boundaries and inventing yourself over and over again on an artistic level - stagnation means regression”, he freshened up his affairs and ultimately formed the band that had been a dream in their school years with long-time companion Love. Embracing this joie de vivre John Diva reintroduced himself with The Rockets of Love comprising of himself on vocals, J.J. Love and Snake each on guitar, Lee Stingray Jr. mastering the drums and Remmie Martin coming good on bass guitar.
A break into the 2009 US music market was not forthcoming, so at that time energies were instead focussed on Europe and by 2013 the band were successfully staging across the continent, an extensive tour schedule from 2015 onwards found them with a dedicated fan base and following. Their album release, 'Live At Wochen' in July 2017, was followed by another, 'Mama Said Rock is Dead', in February 2019 and this stormed into the official German album charts at number 24. This album also received favourable reviews in the USA and was referred to as a “live phenomenon“ with Music Guru Radio rating it 5 out of 5 stars. The band followed by supporting Def Leppard on their 2019 Summer European tour which was part of the 'Citadel Music Festival' concert series hosted in the middle of the old fortress Berlin in Germany. Whilst successfully stomping their Rock boots staging across Europe, the band still strive to crack America and are eager to perform a planned tour there later in the year, although this is of course covid-dependant, and reliant on easing of the restrictive Worldwide situation. The band's positive, progressive music is maybe just what's needed to shake off the covid blues and elevate followers to the bright freedom of the road ahead.
Of the second and title track, 'American Amadeus', John Diva explains “The song is glamorous, playfully electrifying and combines European high culture with American trash culture.” Ostentatious in it's verse, it is unabashed with an adventurous enthusiasm for life putting out a real positive vibe and powering beat. 'Soldier of Love' carries the same good rhythmic pattern lamenting over the perils of falling in love with a fiery socialite and is anthemic in it's delivery. Tortuous guitar solos feature throughout this album, and J.J.'s and Snake's licks both add greatness to this new release.
'Bling Bling Marilyn', written by frontman Diva and Hannes Braun (Kissin’ Dynamite), who contributed valuable ideas to a number of the album's songs, opens a new chapter of the band’s history and presents John Diva & The Rockets Of Love in an even more diverse and consistent stylistically way than ever before. “Our extensive Mama Said Rock Is Dead tour had a positive impact on us in lots of ways", explains Rocket. “Thanks to the unanimously positive responses to our first album and the amazing audience reactions at our shows, we felt confident enough to explore a number of different extremes even further on 'American Amadeus': our Rock songs are tougher and faster still, the Pop-oriented numbers even more catchy. In addition, 'American Amadeus' includes a number of tracks with a spirit that goes back to the seventies and bands such as early Kiss and Black Sabbath.” ‘Champagne On Mars’ follows, and was just one of the tracks co-composed by the smooth Melodic rocker Michael Voss (Mad Max, Michael Schenker). I personally found this to be a bit of a filler which, although pleasant enough, grated on me, as I was expecting to be as blown away as I had been with the previous tracks, plus the following 'Weekend For A Lifetime', although having a great starting beat didn't pull me back in. A sensitive power ballad follows on with 'Karmageddon', the portmanteau title suggesting a catastrophic destiny that can't be avoided. Although running a totally different rhythm and verse to the similarly titled 'Armageddon It' hit that Def Leppard successfully released, spending four weeks in the UK Top 40 chart in March1998, this track embraces you and surprises in another awesome guitar solo by J.J.
Back firing on all cylinders 'Wasted in Babylon' (Babylon - a city devoted to materialism and sensual pleasure of course!) sleazily picks it back up hammering home the impassioned adventure of debauchery and hedonic pleasure with which this music brings. Guaranteed to lift the spirits telling it's wanton tale of promiscuity this will shake you out of any reverie you may have inadvertently lapsed into! 'Movin' Back To Paradise' then rolls with a catch your breath back 80's calm, rhythmic beat and simplistic Adam & Eve lyrics. Another pre-release single off the 'American Amadeus' album is 'Drip Drip Baby', which has a Def Leppard flavour rocking through it followed by 'This is Rock 'n' Roll', another sing-a-long Arena anthem. With the gentle, almost contemplative, acoustic power ballad '2 Hearts' bringing the album to completion, I did unfortunately find that I was left lacking in the joie de vivre earlier found. Such a shame, therefore, that the vinyl bonus tracks weren't on my CD!
01. Voodoo, Sex & Vampires 3:57
02. American Amadeus 4:00
03. Soldier Of Love 4:04
04. Bling Bling Marilyn 3:49
05. Champagne On Mars 2:52
06. Weekend For A Lifetime 3:47
07. Karmageddon 4:54
08. Wasted (In Babylon) 4:03
09. Movin‘ Back To Paradise 3:58
10. Drip Drip Baby 3:51
11. This Is Rock’n’Roll 3:27
12. 2 Hearts 3:55
Vinyl Bonus Tracks:
13. Star Of Rock 3:35 (bonus track)
14. Blonde! Black! Red! Brunette! 3:43 (bonus track)
15. American Amadeus (Orchestra Version) 3:53 (bonus track)