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My Kung Fu Is Good
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About the Artist
Rich Ward has carved a name for himself as guitarist, songwriter and founding member of Stuck Mojo, a band that to date has released seven critically acclaimed albums, pioneered the fusion of reggae, rap and metal that would open the doors for what would become nu-metal and toured the world a dozen times.
As well as Stuck Mojo, Rich is also the guitarist and founding member of the band Fozzy, which features WWE superstar Chris Jericho. Originally labeled as the world's greatest metal covers band, the buzz surrounding them grew so rapidly that before they knew it a deal was in place, fan base was swelling rapidly and they were working on their next album. Four years and three albums later, Fozzy is still going strong.
Where Stuck Mojo and Fozzy are instantly recognizable by Ward's brutal riffage, The Duke takes a more melodic approach and focus on the song writing. Tracks like "Used To Be", "Running" and "Show You The Way" show the maturity of Ward as a songwriter. "My Kung-Fu Is Good" also sees Rich take up vocal duty to what will surely establish him as not only a guitar hero but also a brilliant singer and songwriter.
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The second time I listened to it as a music fan, not a Rich Ward fan. The album is fantastic. Rich concentrates on the songs, and making the music as good as it can be. Not taking anything away from his band work, which is exceptional, but presenting this as a solo effort allowed him to really explore and try new things.
As anyone who has listened to his previous releases knows, Rich has a really good voice. It is given the opportunity to shine here, as he handles all the lead vocal duties for the record. The Duke actually uses the piano as the primary instrment on several songs, which works surprisingly well. Standout tracks include Immune, I Give To You, Show you the way and Suicide Machine.
Rich adresses some serious subject matter in his lyrics, and really opens up to reveal some of the struggles that he has had in his life.
This album and this man have a lot in common with Zakk Wylde and his Book of Shadows CD. Both come from great guitarists, and both are a departure from what they are famous for, and both are great albums. On that note, if anyone doesn't know why Rich Ward is called the Duke, here's a hint: It is related to a comparason between Zakk and Rich.
On "Give to You", a catchy little bass groove and electronic effects lead into Ward's surprisingly melodic vocals. In the verse section, Rich is backed up by warm strings and soft piano. It sounds a lot like Stuck Mojo meets Kid Rock's last album. Keyboard changes dominate on "Use to Be". Ward shows once again that he was a hidden vocalist trapped behind a guitar all this time. The lyrics come off as being personal to Rich.
"Suicide Machine" begins with subtle piano that shifts into some heavy riffs and biting licks. This is really the only guitar prominent track (although I only have a five track sampler). The words, structure, and melodies are easy to follow; a good, solid rock track. "Show You the Way" is another ballad-esque track with more piano leys being tickled. The song builds to and emotional chorus. For the most part, "Running" is structured just like "Show You the Way" with more guitar.
The lyrics to "Give to You" are a little corny and more suitable for Barry Manilow. Rich Ward touts himself as a great guitarist, and rightfully so, but his ax work is not very prominent here.
If Rich Ward is looking for commercial success after all these years, then My Kung Fu Is Good might just be his ticket to the big show. Fans of his past work might be a bit disappointed at his new sound, but if you just ride it out, you'll find some great rock music.