Thursday, June 27, 2024


Ruby Topaz rocks your face off with remastered album Mark Bram/Ruby Topaz Again


By Bobby Martin

Mark Bram, AKA Ruby Topaz, has a myriad of musical influences that bleed into his sound, but what sets him apart as a musician is the ability to take these styles and morph them into something entirely unique.

“I think it’s the mixture of music, because it is so diverse,” Bram said. “When you take the Beatles, the Monkees, Herman’s Hermits, the Turtles, and you mix it with bands like King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Edgar Winter. It’s just so diverse.”

Ruby Topaz has just released an album titled Mark Bram/Ruby Topaz Again, which is a 23rd anniversary remaster of a record that will blow the listeners’ hair back. 

“I love recording and I feel like I am painting pictures of sound, and the equipment and the music we do, is the pallet,” he said. 

He is also very fond of the improvisational instrumental Fusion/Progressive songs that they do live, noting: “These songs exist for the moment, and they’re just on fire. It’s like meditation while you’re playing, just in the zone, and I love that stuff.

It is a combination of songs that he recorded solo, as well as tracks with drummer Steve D’Andrea, which have all been remastered at Abbey Road in London from an album that originally came out in 2001.

“There are a lot of great songs on there,” he said. “They’re all driving hard rock, and blues rock, and a couple ballads.”

One song he is particularly fond of is “Loneliness,” which he said is like his “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Bram wrote it when he was 16 and there is a swing jazz piece incorporated into the song, but instead of actual horns it is all guitar synthesizer. 

There are also three bonus tracks on the album, and one is a medley including covers by The Grass Roots “Temptation Eyes,” into Chicago’s “25 and 6 to 4.” Once again, the horns are all guitar synth.

Another song is called “The Sack,” which is the B-side of his 1982 single that made waves overseas. Bram said that this is truly a special track, reminiscent of early Led Zeppelin, that fans will really love.

Some favorite songs include “Want You Now” and “Looking 4 U,” which are the first two songs on the album and bring the most pop appeal, Bram said. 

Other songs called “Sandy” and “Lose Me” are what he described as “in your face, burn victim rock.” “Knife in My Back” is classic 1970s guitar style and “Unicorn Song” was originally recorded in 1978, but this would be the fourth version of the single that now includes a horn section. 

“This is all funked up and different, with a nice elongated guitar piece in the middle,” Bram said.

Topaz, who is a bass player at heart but loves to shred the guitar, is responsible for most of the instrumentals on the album, as well as the vocals. His higher toned voice can be compared to that of Geddy Lee, Freddie Mercury and Robert Plant, and the ripping guitar will take you back to the 1970s and 1980s with a refurbished sound.

The Rhode Island based musician explained that his musical journey really got started when he was just a young child when he was influenced by the Beatles. He said it blew his mind and changed everything, and all he wanted to do was be like Paul McCartney. 

Then in 1968 his cousin went to the a club called Boston Tea Party to see a little band called Led Zeppelin. His cousin gave Bram their album and this blew his mind yet again. He ended up teaching his friend his first  drum beat, and another friend how to play bass, then he started singing high and playing guitar in what became a band called Shir (pronounced Sheer).

In the early 1970s someone suggested a name change and asked him what his birth stone was. It was topaz, and then someone suggested pairing it with ruby. He thought, “Ruby Topaz, oh like Alice Cooper.”

“Then eventually, as time went on just like Alice Cooper, people started calling me Ruby Topaz like it was my name,” he said. “It kind of became my alter ego.”

His band was playing glam rock, but also adding a progressive rock feel with a glimpse of ‘60s style. They blends the sounds of classic rock, metal, pop and more.

Ruby Topaz had international acclaim in in England and France when they sent out a single in 1982 that was played on pirate radio stations. The band ended up splitting up but he got back together with his old friend Steve D’Andrea, to whom he had taught the Sargent Pepper reprise drum beat, way back in middle school. He still plays with D’Andrea to this day, as he is on six of the 14 tracks of the new album.

Ruby Topaz is already starting to record a new project and would like to eventually get out on the road for some touring. 

Be sure to check out Mark Bram/Ruby Topaz Again, available on May 3 on all platforms.

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