Liberty N’Justice – The Cigar Chronicles

Liberty 'N Justice - The Cigar Chronicles

Released February 26, 2013 (LNJ Records)

Volume 1 (The Covers) Track List:
01. Ice Ice Baby
02. I Can’t Dance
03. Pride of In The Name Of Love
04. Stayin’ Alive
05. YMCA
06. Iris
07. You’re So Vain
08. Queen Of The Night
09. Blame It On The Rain
10. Bye Bye Bye
11. Dancing On The Ceiling
12. Stuck In The Middle With You
13. MMMBop
Volume 2 (The Originals) Track List:
01. Devil His Dues
02. The Greatest
03. Cupids Gonna Bleed
04. Under Construction
05. Been There Done That
06. Grace
07. Sucker Punched
08. Broken Bones
09. Sin
10. Give Em’ A Light
11. Daddy Long Legs
12. Cut Me Mick
13. Tomorrow

Band Members:
David Cagle – vocals
JK Northrup – guitar
Justin Murr – bass
Michael Feighan – drums
Eric Ragno – keyboards

Additional Musicians:
Seann Nichols – vocals (1)
Stevie Rachelle – vocals (2)
CJ Snare – vocals (3)
Kip Winger – vocals (4)
Kelly Keeling – vocals (5)
Tony Harnell – vocals (6)
Phil Lewis – vocals (7)
Selena McVey – vocals (8)
Andrew Freeman – vocals (9)
Chas West – vocals (10)
James Christian – vocals (11)
Larry Worley – vocals (12)
Jamie Rowe – vocals (13)
Derrick LeFevre – vocals (14)
Gunnar Nelson – vocals (16)
Eric Dover – vocals (17)
Ted Poley – vocals (18)
Michael Bormann – vocals (19)
Rick Stitch – vocals (20)
Giancarlo Floridia – vocals (21)
Jani Lane – vocals (22)
Paul Shortino – vocals (23)
Louis St. August – vocals (24)
Ron Keel – vocals (25)
Terry Ilous – vocals (26)
Eddie Ojeda – guitar (1)
George Lynch – guitar (3)
Chris Dickens – guitar (5)
Alex Grossi – guitar (6)
Chris Green – guitar (7)
Brooke St. James – guitar (8)
Pete Fry – guitar (9)
Jeff LaBar – guitar (10)
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal – guitar (12)
Barry Graul – guitar (14)
Mark Allen Lanoue – guitar (15)
Steve Brown – guitar (16)
Mark Kendall – guitar (17)
Richard Kendrick – guitar (18)
Xander Demos – guitar (20)
Greg Martin – guitar (21)
Bill Leverty – guitar (22)
Keri Kelli – guitar (22)
Dave Henzerling – guitar (23)
Michael Phillips – guitar (25)
PK Mitchell – guitar (26)
Jeff Pilson – bass (3)
Andy Robbins – bass (12)
Barry Carl – bass (16)
Ian Keith Hafner – bass (17)
Jerry Dixon – bass (20)
Tim Gaines – bass (23)
Philip Bardowell – vocals (19)
Chad Stewart – drums (21)
Ron Wikso – drums (25)
Anthony Gravley – (12,13)
Vic Rivera – (14)
Brad Stetler – (15)
Mark Slaughter – (19)
Philip Bardowell – (19)
Alessandro Del Vecchio – (26)

Even those who are big fans of bar bands will have a hard time picking over the first volume of The Cigar Chronicles, the new double disc set from veteran glam rockers Liberty N’ Justice. Consisting of a baker’s dozen renditions of what are presumably band faves, the song selection vacillates wildly between earnest picks and blatant stabs at cheesy novelty.

Not only is there arguably zero market for heavy metal covers of “Ice Ice Baby”, “MMMBop” and “Dancing On The Ceiling”, but, considering the guest list involved, these tracks are a complete waste of talents like Eddie Ojeda, Kelly Keeling and James Christian. “Iris” and “Bye Bye Bye” actually come off respectably enough, but separate them from the context of the abysmal tracks surrounding them and I doubt even those will be making anyone’s mixtape anytime soon.

Volume 2 is where the originals lie, and one would do best to just consider that the actual album, treating Volume 1 as a disposable bonus disc (even though it’s positioned as anything but). Even then this is a confusing project, so a little context is in order — bassist Justin Murr is the only original member of Liberty N’ Justice remaining, so essentially this is a pick-up band. That would seem to explain the plethora of guest singers — not to mention other musicians — but nope, Liberty N’ Justice boast a full time vocalist in David Cagle, a permanent guitarist in JK Northrup and a couple guys of indeterminate commitment listed on keyboards and drums.

That said, you practically need a doctorate in melodic rock to ascertain who’s doing what on this album — there are guests listed on every track but instruments are not attributed at all. I literally have no idea whether I’m hearing David Cagle‘s voice on any given song, let alone who’s playing the rest of the instruments.

Quibbles aside, this is a fine if unexceptional batch of originals. Liberty N’ Justice are technically a Christian rock band but they don’t beat you over the head with it by any stretch. Aside from a lack of overtly sexual lyrics this fits right in there next to any other retro hard rock act. One of the more notable songs is undoubtedly “Sin”, which features one of the last performances by Jani Lane… which just goes to show you how long this project has been gestating. Murr was right to begin the set with “Devil His Dues”, both the best written song on the album as well as sporting the strongest vocal performance by Derrick LeFevre of Lillian Axe.

So in spite of a monumentally confusing marketing strategy — poorly annotated credits, and why front load your comeback record with covers of lame songs that won’t appeal to your fan base — The Cigar Chronicles is a welcome return to form by a band many had long given up for dead. Give it a shot, but do yourself a favorite and skip directly to Volume 2… you’ll thank me later.

Reviewed by Jeremy Ulrey for Sleaze Roxx, April 2013

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