Before his untimely death in 2012, renowned American rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose began recording an ambitious passion project with bassist Ricky Phillips (Styx, Bad English) and drummer Eric Singer (Kiss, Alice Cooper). The idea was to record 10 songs with 10 different singers and call the album 10X10. Sadly, Montrose was unable to see the album through during his lifetime. Instead, Phillips made it his holy mission to finish the songs by enlisting a small army of Ronnie’s musician friends to record the vocals and the guitar solos for each song, completing the album in recent years. And finally, on September 29, 2017, Rhino will release the fruits of those collective labors, 10X10, on 180-gram vinyl, CD, and digital formats.
Your HRAC CCO has been sworm to secrecy about this project since late last year when I was enlisted to write the liner notes for 10X10, and I can report firsthand how fantastic this album is all the way through from Track 1 to Track 10.
Phillips says the material heard on 10X10 represent some of Montrose’s best work. “His songs still have the fire and angst of a young rebel, but with some added wisdom and foresight voiced in his own unique language of ‘guitar-speak,'” Phillips observes. “On 10X10, we hear Ronnie at the top of his game, from the opening crunch guitar of ‘Heavy Traffic,’ all the way to the closing song, ‘I’m Not Lying,’ which was Ronnie’s tip of the hat to his friend Robin Trower.”
The album features inspired pairings, like Deep Purple singer Glenn Hughes with Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen (“Still Singin’ With the Band”) and singer Sammy Hagar with Toto guitarist Steve Lukather (“Color Blind”), the latter of which is the first instant-grat track if you preorder the album now. Legendary blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa also showcases his guitar talents on the track “The Kingdom’s Come Undone” with Ricky Phillips himself on vocals. A few artists both sing and play, like Edgar Winter (“Love Is An Art”) and Styx’s Tommy Shaw (“Strong Enough”).
Several artists who appear on 10X10 had recorded with Ronnie during his career, like the aforementioned Edgar Winter, who included the guitarist on the Edgar Winter Group’s seminal 1972 album, They Only Come Out at Night. Yep, that’s Ronnie you hear blazing away on such classic tracks as “Frankenstein” and “Free Ride.”
And Sammy Hagar, of course, got his start singing with Montrose, having recorded two influential albums — Montrose (1973) and Paper Money (1974) — with the band, and subsequently toured the world. Incidentally, on October 13, just a few weeks after 10X10 is released, Rhino will introduce Deluxe Editions for both Montrose (1973) and Paper Money (1974) — which we’ll discuss further in a separate HRAC post to come on Saturday. (And yep, yours truly wrote the liner notes for both of those reissues as well.)
More than 40 years later, Hagar was among the first who agreed to help finish Ronnie’s final album. “It’s valuable to have 10X10 be seen as Ronnie’s last work, rather than going and digging up some stuff from his past. This was something he truly had a vision for,” says Hagar. The track listing for 10×10, featuring an all-star lineup, can be found below.
1. “Heavy Traffic” Feat. Eric Martin & Dave Meniketti
2. “Love Is An Art” Feat. Edgar Winter & Rick Derringer
3. “Color Blind” Feat. Sammy Hagar & Steve Lukather
4. “Still Singin’ With The Band” Feat. Glenn Hughes, Phil Collen & Jimmy “Z” Zavala
5. “Strong Enough” Feat. Tommy Shaw
6. “Any Minute” Feat. Mark Farner & Ricky Phillips
7. “The Kingdom’s Come Undone” Feat. Ricky Phillips & Joe Bonamassa
8. “One Good Reason” Feat. Bruce Turgon & Brad Whitford
9. “Head On Straight” Feat. Davey Pattison & Marc Bonilla
10. “I’m Not Lying” Feat. Gregg Rolie, Tom Gimbel & Lawrence Gowan