VANDENBERG’S MOONKINGS have released a stripped-back version of “Sailing Ships”. The track comes from their new record, “Rugged And Unplugged”, which will be released on November 23 via Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group.

Originally from WHITESNAKE‘s 1989 album “Slip Of The Tongue”, “Sailing Ships” has a delicate beauty to it that makes the hairs on your arm stand up and has become a favorite and regular in the MOONKINGS‘ live shows.

“Rugged And Unplugged” is a beautifully stripped back acoustic album which features songs from across Adrian Vandenberg‘s career. From his first band TEASER as a 20-year-old, he has always used an acoustic guitar in his recordings, which along with the electric guitar creates the light and shade dynamic that is the cornerstone to all of his records.

“For me, the sign of whether a song is good or not, is whether it still stands up when it’s completely stripped down to the bare essence of it,” says Vandenberg. He continues: “What I find with acoustic versions of songs you already know is that they can touch you in a different way than the full band and even orchestral versions. You don’t get ‘impressed’ by big guitars, drums and even orchestras. As a performer, you can’t hide behind all that, so what’s left is the emotional content of the performance and the actual song.”

This project created the opportunity to strip down the big orchestral arrangements on songs such as “What Doesn’t Kill You” and “Breathing” to just Vandenberg on acoustic guitar and the voice of Jan Hoving.

“My favorite singers ever since my teens have always been guys like Paul Rodgers and David Coverdale,” Vandenberg says. “Since I wrote this song in 1981, I’ve always pictured it sung by a singer with such a tone of voice and vocal abilities. Jan is absolutely such a singer as you can hear.” “One Step Behind” has a graceful warmth and “Walk Away” feels both intimate and anthemic.

“Out Of Reach” is the only song that features drums, bass and violins and has a warm cascading elegance. The album closes with a new song, the instrumental “Sundown”. Adrian says: “It was one of those beautiful early evenings in the late summer, the light turning pink, it was quiet and I was doodling away on my acoustic guitar. The melody that pretty much rolled off of my fingers really matched the vibe of that moment so I decided to record it and end the album with it. It felt like a very natural thing to do.”

Like the two MOONKINGS albums, “MoonKings” (2014) and “MK II” (2017), “Rugged And Unplugged” was produced by Adrian Vandenberg himself. It was recorded between Vandenberg‘s home studio and Jan Hoving‘s farm which gives it the relaxed, intimate and natural feel, away from the clinical studio environment. It is Vandenberg and Hoving doing what they do and love the most, playing music straight from the heart.

“Rugged And Unplugged” track listing:

01. What Doesn’t Kill You
02. Sailing Ships
03. Out Of Reach
04. One Step Behind
05. Burning Heart
06. Walk Away
07. Breathing
08. Sundown

The official video for the song “Bitter” from RED DRAGON CARTEL, the band led by former OZZY OSBOURNE and BADLANDS guitarist Jake E. Lee, can be seen below. The track is taken from RED DRAGON CARTEL‘s sophomore album, “Patina”, which was released on November 9 via Frontiers Music Srl.

The follow-up to RED DRAGON CARTEL‘s eponymous 2014 debut, “Patina” marks the group’s first release with drummer Phil Varone (SAIGON KICK, SKID ROW) and bassist Anthony Esposito. The band’s current lineup is rounded out by singer Darren James Smith.

RED DRAGON CARTEL‘s new album was recorded at Esposito‘s Obscenic Arts studio in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania and was mixed by legendary producer Max Norman, who has previously worked with OZZY OSBOURNE, MEGADETH, SAVATAGE and LOUDNESS, among others.

In addition to being the new bassist for RED DRAGON CARTEL, Esposito co-produced the album alongside Lee.

“I think we had a great production partnership,” says Jake. “He never discouraged me from trying things that were a bit outside the box; in fact, he encouraged it. His attention to detail in the recording of everything was exceptional. Much more than I alone would have toiled over. He has an incredible work ethic that kept me from lapsing into complacency. If we disagreed on how something should be, we’d find a perfect marriage of the two sides, or completely reimagine it. We didn’t settle on anything unless we both agreed it was perfect. If I do another album, I’d love it to be with him again.”

Another new member to RED DRAGON CARTEL is drummer Phil Varone, whose style Lee really appreciated. “Phil is a very solid and groove-oriented player, who is not afraid to turn things upside down to give the song a more unique flavor,” explains Lee.

“Patina” marks a change of style from the debut RED DRAGON CARTEL album, featuring a more bluesy hard rock direction as opposed to its predecessor’s heavier leanings.

Lee says: “The first album was more of a piecemeal production with some of the song ideas being 10 years old and never having more than one player in the room at any time. I wanted to do this one from scratch with all the songs originating and worked on with everyone in the room, on their instruments. It felt much more organic, like the way I used to do it for the first 20 years of my career — more honest to my roots.”

When asked about his musical inspirations for the record, Jake says: “My inspirations for ‘Patina’ are from the artists I loved during my youth. Robin Trower, Santana, BLACK SABBATH, CAPTAIN BEYOND, THIN LIZZY, GRAND FUNK RAILROAD, David Bowie… I could go on and on, but let me also say that there are also hints of SLY & THE FAMILY STONE, Dick Dale, psychedelia and even some George Benson. Don’t let any of that scare you — it all makes sense!”

“Patina” is a definitive statement of Jake‘s unbelievable skills with a monster production from Esposito and a perfect mix, courtesy of Norman, whose relationship with Jake dates back to the guitarist’s days with OZZY OSBOURNE.

The track listing for the disc is as follows:

01. Speedbag
02. Havana
03. Crooked Man
04. The Luxury Of Breathing
05. Bitter
06. Chasing Ghosts
07. A Painted Heart
08. Punchclown (bonus track)
09. My Beautiful Mess
10. Ink & Water

The official music video for “Havana” can be seen below.

“I chose ‘Havana’ as the first song to be released from the new album for a few reasons,” Lee told Guitar World. “First off, it begins with a lone guitar playing the riff, promoting the idea that this is a guitar-heavy record. The song’s production is about as straightforward and basic as it gets on this album and I wanted it to be apparent that, overall, it’s more of an old school approach, as opposed to its predecessor [RED DRAGON CARTEL‘s self titled, 2014 debut album.] And, it’s just a cool riff I couldn’t wait to share with anyone interested in what I’m doing!”

Back in September 2015, RED DRAGON CARTEL was rejoined by Darren James Smith after a period of several months during which the band played shows with a number of other vocalists, including former JONES STREET frontman Shawn Crosby, Canadian singer Paul D’Eath (CITIZENS UNITE, MUSHROOM TRAIL), Chas West (Jason Bonham, LYNCH MOB, 3 LEGGED DOGG) and Michael Beck.

Issued in January 2014, RED DRAGON CARTEL‘s debut CD sold around 5,000 copies in the United States in its first week of release to debut at position No. 69 on The Billboard 200 chart.

JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford was interviewed for the November 12 episode of “The Animal House Radio Show”. You can now listen to the chat below. A couple of excerpts follow (transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET).

On planning JUDAS PRIEST‘s stage shows and setlists:

Rob: “I think you have to kind of make overall sense of the great honor and privilege it’s been to have been a great metal band like JUDAS PRIEST for almost 50 years. We’re always stepping up to the plate. We never take anything for granted. We’re very grateful to all of our fans around the world that have given us this long life in metal. So that’s always in our minds. Wherever we work, whatever stage we set foot on in the world, like we did here last night in Rio [De Janeiro, Brazil], [we] give a thousand percent. And to some extent, that’s your responsibility — you don’t wanna disappoint your fans; your fans have paid good money and they deserve to get the best that you can give. So that’s all part of the philosophy of PRIEST. We love what we do, we have a lot of fun with what we do, but we take it deadly seriously. It’s an important part of our being in JUDAS PRIEST. And because music is an emotionally based source of an exchange of power and energy, you have to be aware of how people are feeling. So that’s just been the kind of mantra that PRIEST has always had from day one, which is to do our best and to give our best wherever we are in the world.”

On JUDAS PRIEST guitarist Glenn Tipton, who is no longer touring with the band after being diagnosed with the later stages of Parkinson’s disease:

Rob: “Glenn‘s a hero. And with references to some of the brave men and women that are dealing with various issues — physical challenges, mental challenges — the world is a bit of a better place in terms of where you can go for help now, and in Glenn‘s case, with his Parkinson’s, he wasn’t even aware that he had the symptoms for a number of years until he was fully diagnosed. But like Glenn, and like all the heroes in service, active duty and vets, there’s a great support system of people out there that love you and that are ready to provide the help and give you the care and attention that you need. And that’s the same case with Glenn — he’s got the best doctors in the world looking after him. And with Parkinson’s, it’s a day-to-day situation — some days are better than others. And Glenn will always step out, Glenn will always come out when he’s feeling strong. I hear he’s probably gonna come out to Japan, which will be great. It’s a long flight from London to Tokyo, but he loves his fans so much that as and when he’s feeling strong enough, he’ll come out and play. So, yeah, Glenn‘s the heavy metal hero right now. We love him, and we thank you for thinking about him.

Glenn will be the first to say that he stands there not just for himself but for everybody who’s dealing with that particular challenge. And we have the Glenn Tipton Foundation that he’s created, which you can buy a t-shirt or you can actually make a donation, if you wish, directly. You can find that information through the JUDAS PRIEST social networks that are there. And that’s the big thing, isn’t it, with these kinds of things — you need the funding, you need the resources. And I know the current administration is stepping up and trying to do as much as they can with funding the needs for individuals with PTSD and everything else that’s related to these types of issues. So, yeah, we’re all in it together in that respect, [when it comes to] reaching out and loving each other and helping each other as much as we can.”

On his decision to leave JUDAS PRIEST in 1992 and pursue a solo career over the course of several albums, including the acclaimed 2000 effort “Resurrection” from his HALFORD band:

Rob: “I think I was on the same journey as a lot of my friends in music. It’s a funny thing with lead singers — we have a tendency to go off on our own and do things and we end up coming back to the place where we were determined to be. Ironically enough, ‘Resurrection’ kind of was a bridge back to JUDAS PRIEST. I’d been away with the HALFORD band and the TWO project with John 5 and the FIGHT record, all of which I had a great time making. It’s one of those things where, if you’re a creative person, you’re constantly searching for other opportunities. And I sought those out, and I still do now — I’m just very curious about what can be made with other musicians especially. But, yeah, thank you for referencing ‘Resurrection’. I stand by that record; it was a great record. Everybody played their hearts out on it. Everybody did a great job.”

PRIEST recently completed a U.S. co-headlining tour with fellow classic heavy rockers DEEP PURPLE.

The British heavy metal legends are continuing to tour in support of their latest album, “Firepower”, which came out in March. The LP entered the Billboard 200 chart at position No. 5, making it PRIEST‘s highest-charting album ever.