Finally, Allegheny Records has released two Raven Storm Project albums on Tune City!
These songs essentially were recorded for one album, which was to the the debut of the Raven Storm Project. It certainly became an international album project, with the writing, recording, and production occurring in numerous places in several cities in four different countries over the course of six years, with occasional remixes and re-releases still taking place.
It’s not for a lack of new ideas, which Raven is always working on… but out of a need to “finish” it the right way. Much like Spinal Tap always had issues with drummers, RSP was plagued with revolving singers, as well as meager finances and distraction (mostly the distractions of daily survival).
The Project started out with a big kick in 1996 having the legendary Vinny Appice lay down the drum tracks for the six original RSP tunes, and two more later on. The bass, rhythm guitar, and keyboard sessions were recorded in Sweden through late ’96, most of which took place at the Flying Duck studios in Uppsala. Olof engineered his own bass tracks, as well as Raven’s rhythm guitar and many of Monica’s keyboard tracks. Flying Duck was operated by the producer and members of the popular Swedish pop-group, Sonic Dream Collective (they later dropped the “Collective” from their name for their 1999 release, “Dustproof,” which Raven laid rhythm and solo tracks for). Some keyboard tracks were recorded at Musicalen Studios in Stockholm with Tord Määttä at the board.
Raven traveled back home to Las Vegas to get vocal tracks laid down by Randy Williams at Aryan Blakston’s studio, Digital Dreamland. Once again, a deadline approached and Raven had to keep to a travel schedule. He left to Sweden to meet up with his manager, Ulf Wahlberg of XTC Productions in Stockholm after the vocal sessions, but was not able to finish the guitar solos. While in London, he looked for a studio where he could finish up the recording and get a mix, and he found Hoxton Studios. The bonus to this is that he got to work with Benji Lefevre, who was Jimmy Page’s right hand man throughout the Led Zeppelin years, and went on to co-product many of Robert Plant’s solo albums. Benji even let Raven stay as a guest in his home for some extended time in London. He was in awe of seeing Benji’s gold and platinum records from Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin.
It was believed that no recordings existed of the original London mixes. One day, when Raven was sorting through a pile of cd’s, most of which were rough mixes of countless recording sessions, he discovered one with “London Sessions” scribbled on it, in what must have been Benji’s writing. Raven immediately put it in the nearest cd player and confirmed what he had hoped…. Randy’s voice came out of the speakers with that Zeppelin-like reverb!
During the sessions, Raven recorded most of the main guitar solos and miscellaneous overdubs, including the melody lines on “Black Widow,” suggested by Benji, that didn’t exist before. The recordings from that session are now available as “The London Sessions” on Tune City.
However later on, a couple new songs were written that Raven wanted to add to the record. Vinny Appice once again came to Vegas and recorded the drum tracks for the new songs, but Randy was unavailable. So Raven brought in powerhouse singer, Reggie Richards, to lay the vocals at Huntridge Studios in Las Vegas. These sessions were engineered by long-time Huntridge figurehead, Richard Lenz.
Unfortunately, Randy… with the operatic range and smooth style… was starkly contrasted by Reggie’s powerful voice, which didn’t have the range of Randy’s, but seemed to fit the heavy music a little better. Reggie also had ideas for new lyrics, so all songs were re-recorded with Reggie (in retrospect, Raven is quite partial to Randy’s versions).
Mixing and mastering, as well as occasional overdub fixes, took place at Audio Art under Brett Hansen. However, the rushed nature of the sessions left flaws in some of the music, ranging from the vocal tracks to the guitar solos. Money ran out and Raven was face to face with a deadline, so the Storm Project cd went to print in 2001.
The album received considerable praise from reviewers on line, as well as record company executives at the MIDEM convention in France in 2002. However, Raven felt that improvements in some of the performance aspects of the record, as well as the overall sound, had to be done.
With Reggie now unavailable as well, Raven looked to Lee Edwards… another powerhouse singer, but this time female. As a huge fan of female fronted bands and solo artists, Raven had wanted a female singer from the beginning, but none were available until now.
Lee had fronted a Las Vegas-based Heart tribute band called “Heart Alive,” (which also features Storm Project bassist, Danny Buss)if that gives any indication of her talent. She stepped in and re-recorded the vocals for “Broken Mirror” (simply titled “The Mirror” on the original Storm Project release), and “Reach for the Sky,” which was originally “Black Widow” as written by Raven and sung originally by Randy Williams (as heard on the “London Sessions”). Reggie’s new lyrics were left intact, and Lee’s incredible performances on the two songs did them great justice. They were included on the new release of “Fire Down Below,” …available only on Tune City.
Raven’s streak of bad luck continued with Lee moving to Washington state, however, she still intends to come back for more recording with Raven in the future.
Over the years, Raven had performed many of these songs instrumentally. With Nightwish having released two versions of their “Dark Passion Play” album… one with all vocals removed… it inspired Raven to do the same. He is currently working on the instrumental versions of all the Storm Project songs to date, as well as a few new tunes, to be released soon.
So go check out the Raven Storm Project albums now on sale at Tune City!