Some musical combinations just happen, and when they happen magic suddenly appears. The pairing up of Merryweather Stark is just such an occasion. Neil Merryweather has a long career as a singer, bass player, composer and producer including playing and recording with Mama Lion, Heavy Cruiser, Eyes, Lita Ford, Steve Miller, Randy California, Hundred Watt Head and of course under his own name, delivering the classic “Kryptonite” and “Space Rangers” albums.
Guitarist, Janne Stark has released numerous albums with bands like Overdrive, Grand Design, Constancia, Locomotive Breath, BALLS and Mountain of Power. The latter was also the project that started this whole journey, when Neil did a guest spot on two tracks and Janne covered two of Neil’s songs on the third Mountain of Power album “Volume Three”.
When the Mountain of Power recording was finished, Stark and Merryweather started talking about the possibility of doing something further together. Janne sent Neil a song he had been working on just to see if it would work. Two days later Neil had written lyrics and vocal melodies for the track, and “Babylon – Sin City” was a born! From there on it was full throttle! Now the duo’s debut album Carved in Rock is complete.
Stark says, “The writing process has been so effortless and so much fun. Some songs I’ve had the basic musical idea for, sent it to Neil, he got back with vocal ideas and lyrics, maybe switched things around so that the bridge became a chorus and the solo section became a verse. Some songs Neil came up with and I added some additional ideas. We also did a re-recording of one of Neil’s old tracks: “Always Be You”, which he still sings in the same key it was originally recorded in 1974.” The track will appear as a bonus track for the vinyl version of Carved In Rock.
When it came to the mixing of the album, it didn’t take long to realize the most perfect person to mix it was Martin J Andersen, who also mixed the Mountain of Power album, plus he’s a great singer and guitarist (Blindstone, Meridian) who understands the genre. Janne and Neil were aiming for a classic, dynamic, seventies oriented sound without sounding dated. All real acoustic drums, bass, guitars and tube amps, like it’s supposed to be! Drums on the album were handled by “TrumPeter” Svensson, whom Janne has been working with since the 80s in various bands, including Locomotive Breath, Constancia and Mountain of Power.
Musically, the Merryweather Stark album contains a blend of heavy guitar riffs, chunky drum playing and fat bass topped with Neil’s powerful and melodic vocals. The music features a mix of crunchy riff rock, funky rhythms, seventies hard rock, high speed riffs, mid paced classic rock and a touch of bluesy licks. The lyrics ranges from tongue-in-cheek stuff such as “Rockers Lament” to things that reflect what happening in the world today, like “What’s It Gonna Be” and “Give ‘Em Hell, Boy.”