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Ramos - My Many Sides Award winner

Ramos
My Many Sides
by Mark Machlay at 29 September 2020, 7:08 AM

Chicago born guitarist Josh Ramos has been quite the veteran of hard rock and melodic AOR for nearly 30 years. Getting an early start playing in his local church band before hitting a double digit age, he would grow and mature, forming and playing in several bands around the Chicago area. Just after finishing high school, he would formed LE MANS in 1983 and release two albums with them. He then moved to the Bay Area of California, formed ELAN and even earned number one in a listener’s poll on the KRQR radio station. Ramos would go on to join THE STORM in 1991, releasing a self-titled debut in that same year.  The band, unfortunately, soon moved on to other projects leaving their next album “Eye of the Storm” finished but released with little fanfare in 1995, well after the band’s dissolution. Ramos later started a new project called TWO FIRES, releasing three albums in 2000 ,2002 and 2010, an album with CHINA BLUE in 2008 and would also be seen playing with the band VELOCITY in the mid-1990s. He was also a part of the band HARDLINE for a stint from 2002-2009 and 2012-2018. He has also released albums under his own name such as “Living in the Light” in 2003 as well as collaborating with VALENTINE frontman Hugo under RAMOS-HUGO titled “The Dream” – touted as “JOURNEY with bite”.

Fresh off leaving HARDLINE, Ramos seems intent on pursuing a solo career for now, releasing “My Many Sides” 17 years after his last go around. DREAM THEATER guitarist John Petrucci just released his first album in nearly as long and his excuse was that he was just too busy with his main band. One could understand Ramos would have the same problem juggling so many different projects that he is known for. With this albums, Ramos intends to show the many different melodic and harmonic sides to his playing and has recruited a broad spectrum of singers to help him illustrate his visions. From the Gary Cherone and Sammy Hagar-like Joe Retta of HEAVEN & EARTH, to longtime singer of hard rock supergroup Mr. Big, Eric Martin, Ramos assembled quite a pedigree of melodic hard rock to join him. Despite similar albums with different singers sounding stylistically wildly disjointed because of the variability of voices, there is a surprising cohesiveness throughout the album. It truly feels like a whole rather than parts. Ramos may not be a household name, but he is far from a Neal Schon clone and shines right from the start with the flurry of notes to open the album on “Today is the Day”

There are some highlights that stand out but overall, every track is pretty solid. The tracks with Retta are always special because they seems to bring more fuel-pumping power in the mix like the aforementioned “Today is the Day” as well as “Same ‘Ol Fears” and “All Over Now”. But then you’ve got “Forefather”, a bluesy, Gospel feeling ballad fronted by Martin signature rasp that really bares the soul of the musicians. But as a guitarist, I really enjoyed hearing the nearly five minute instrumental track “Ceremony”. While it uses some Schon techniques such as the descending thirds he uses in a lot of his solos, it also explores a much broader pallet, seeming almost improvisatory. Fittingly, the album ends poignantly with one of the best vocal performances and possibly final recordings of the late Tony Mills of TNT and SHY with “I’m Only Human”.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Today is the Day
2. Unbroken
3. Blameless Blue
4. Immortal
5. Same Ol’ Fears
6. Moving On
7. Forefather
8. Too Good to Be True
9. Ceremony
10. All Over Now
11. I’m Only Human
Lineup:
Josh Ramos – Guitars
Fabrizio Grossi – Bass, Orchestration, Producer
Joe Retta, Tony Harnell, Danny Vaughn, John Bisaha, Harry Hess, Eric Martin, Terry Ilous, Tony Mills – Vocals
Tony Morra – Drums
Michael T Ross – Pianos, Keyboards
Alex Alessandroni Jr – Hammond Organ
Eric Ragno - Keyboards
Record Label: Frontiers Music
     


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