In the past I’ve posted individual recommendations for albums after they were released; focusing particularly on albums that I’ve been playing tracks from on the NI Rocks Shows on Rock Radio NI. For various reasons I’ve decided to move away from those individual posts and instead do a monthly post focusing on all the album releases that have caught my attention during that month. This is the second of those posts, looking at some of the great albums released during February 2021. I’ll add more as the month progresses.


There are recommendations for album releases from Joel Hoekstra’s 13, Durbin, Ricky Warwick and Walk The Walk.



JOEL HOEKSTRA’S 13 – “Running Games” – Frontiers Music 12th Feb


Joel Hoekstra will be best known as the guitarist with Whitesnake, however he also has his own side project called Joel Hoekstra’s 13. The band’s second album “Running Games” was released through Frontiers Music on 12th February. Joel was my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 19th and we played four tracks from the new album -


The first album, “Dying To Live”, was released in 2015 and the same musicians have returned for the second album. In addition to Joel Hoekstra on guitar, the line-up features Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob etc) on vocals, Vinny Appice (Black Sabbath, Dio etc) on drums, Tony Franklin (The Firm, Blue Murder etc) on bass, Derek Sherinian ( Dream Theatre, Sons of Apollo etc) on keyboards and Jeff Scott Soto (Soto, Sons of Apollo etc) on backing vocals.

In addition to the four tracks on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 19th Feb, “Hard to Say Goodbye” was featured on the Show on 20th Nov and “Finish Line” on the Show on 15th January.




DURBIN – “The Beast Awakens” – Frontiers Music 12th Feb


Singer James Durbin rose to fame during season ten of ‘American Idol’ in 2011 when he finished fourth after highlighting his passion for rock and metal music, performing tracks by Aerosmith, Queen, Judas Priest, Bon Jovi and Sammy Hagar. He released several solo albums as James Durbin before joining Quiet Riot for two years from 2017-19. James is my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 26th February and explains the rationale for releasing “The Beast Awakens” through Frontiers Music on 12th February simply as Durbin -

“The Beast Awakens” is a Dio influenced album with a fantasy, Tolkien-type focus. Durbin plays much of the guitars as well as performing lead vocals. He is joined by bass player Barry Sparks (Yngwie Malmsteen, MSG, Dokken etc) and drummer Mike Vanderhule (Y&T). There are guest vocals from Chris Jericho on the track “Kings Before You” and a number of guest guitarists including Phil Demmel (Machine Head) and Dylan Rose (Archer Nation).

In addition to the four tracks from the album on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 26th February, the track “Kings Before You” was featured on 20th Nov followed by “The Prince of Metal” on 18th Dec and “Evil Eye” on 8th Jan.


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RICKY WARWICK – “When Life Was Hard And Fast” – Nuclear Blast 19th Feb



Northern Ireland singer and Black Star Riders frontman Ricky Warwick released his latest solo album on 19th February. The album called “When Life Was Hard and Fast” has seen Ricky working closely with former Buckcherry guitarist Keith Nelson on writing and production. The other key players are drummer Xavier Muriel and bass player Robert Crane. Ricky is my guest on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 5th March and we chat about the album as well as playing four tracks from it -


This is Ricky’s first studio solo album since the release of “When Patsy Cline Was Crazy...And Guy Mitchell Sang The Blue” and “Hearts on Trees” in 2016 (although those first appeared digitally in 2014). Many of those songs were co-written with Sam Robinson and he also co-wrote the title track on the new album.

Other guests on the album include Joe Elliott on the title track, Luke Morley on “You Don’t Love Me”, Andy Taylor on “I’d Rather Be Hit”, Dizzy Reed on three tracks including “I Don’t Feel At Home” and Ricky’s daughter Pepper on “Time Doesn’t Seem To Matter”. The album was released in a number of formats - I went for the red vinyl version.


There was also a special promo feature with Ricky on the Show on 19th February and the tracks “Fighting Hearts”, “You Don’t Love Me” and “When Life Was Hard and Fast” have all been featured twice prior to the Show on 5th March.


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WALK THE WALK – “Walk The Walk” – AOR Heaven 26th Feb


American band Walk The Walk released their excellent self-titled debut album through AOR Heaven on 26th February. The band is essentially vocalist J Adler and multi-instrumentalist Paul Alfery, both of whom have a long history of working with a range of artists. They formed the band in early 2020 and immediately started writing the tracks for this album. I don’t know much more about the band, but the album is definitely worth checking out.

Adler previously fronted the bands Dead of Night and Goaded and has worked with artists such as David Ellefson. Alfery was responsible for the Guilty Pleasure’s album “Busted” in 2003 and appeared on former Dio guitarist Tracy G’s album “Tarantula Ditch” in 2019. It was Tracy G that connected the two as he had also worked with Adler in Goaded.


The track “Running From You” was featured on the Friday NI Rocks Show on 8th January.

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