Razamanaz Razamanaz (Perris Records) 2003

1.  Urgency (4:07)
2.   Feel It (4:13)
3.   King of the Night Time World (3:20)
4.   Seasons of Wither (5:05)
5.   Kicks (3:19)
6.   In the Dust (3:53)
7.   Make You Mine (7:20)
8.   Call of the Wild [instrumental] (3:29)
9.   Swamp Slide/Bad Feelin Blues (8:03)
10. Rock 'n' Roll Outlaw (3:28)
11. Tied Up (3:30)
12. Walk, Don't Run [instrumental] (2:15)
13. In the Dust (7:07)
14. Pain (4:17)
15. Make You Mine (7:15)

Razamanaz is a fairly unknown project by Britny Fox guitarist Michael Kelly Smith (real name: Michael Schermick) during a hiatus from Brinty Fox in the 90's. The band was formed in 1993. Smith recruited a motley crew band of singer/guitarist Cory Massi, bass player Joe Bisbing, and drummer Steve Attig. The band played shows and recorded songs for a handful of tribute CDs but never formerly released an album of songs. This self-titled collection on Perris Records is a collection of those tribute tracks, some finished original Razamanaz compositions and some unfinished demos.

The band's sound is most certainly derrived from their 1970's heros with a nod to the raspy 80's metal that Smith is known for with Britny Fox. Vocalist Cory Massi has a definite 80's feel with a great vocal range mixed with inspiration from Steven Tyler to Bon Scott. At times he also reminds me of Jason McMaster of Dangerous Toys/Broken Teeth fame. The first two tracks, and especially "Feel It" have that classic AC/DC vibe. However, the albums shining moment is album opener "Urgency", and upbeat rocker that easily could have been a hit for Britny Fox or Cinderella had it been recorded in 1987 instead of 1993. "In the Dust" is another short, straight forward rocker with a hooky chorus. "Make You Mine" is the obligatory ballad, and it a bluesy number that might have been at home on a Jackyl album. I also dug the bluesy "Swamp Slide/Bad Feelin' Blues" which features an excerpt of Jimi Henrix's "Red House".

The band record an superb cover of one of Aerosmith's more underrated gems, "Season of Wither". Massi's attempts to channel his best Steve Tyler impression for the song and the guitar sound has that heavy, 70's feel. To be quite honest, it was this track that attracted me to this CD. I'm a sucker for cool Aerosmith covers. Add a cover of Kiss' "King of the Night Time World" and my interest is even more peaked. The other covers included is "Kicks", originally recorded by Paul Revere & the Raiders and the Ventures classic "Walk, Don't Run".

Unfortunately the rest of the album isn't quite as interesting as the previously mentioned originals and the four covers. "Call of the Wild" may very well have been a killer tune, but the lack of vocals makes for a dull listen. As well, the recording quality dips severely for some of these songs, since they are merely demos. On the last couple songs on the album, the vocals are mixed way to low and are almost hard to hear. Listening to this in my car I kept wanting to turn up the song to hear the vocals, but of course that only makes the music surrounding the vocals louder and never really fixes the problem.

This compilation of material shows as band that had promise and would have been a blast to see in some smokey club. Too bad they never had the opportunity to record properly. I would have loved to have heard them. As it stands, this album is worth owning if just for the Aerosmith and Kiss cover alone.

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