Sven Larsson - 'Bad Mad Man' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 14, 2013    
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A Curate's egg of an album, good in parts.

There’s a well worn phrase that one should never judge a book by its cover; however when I saw the artwork for this, Larsson’s second solo album, two words jumped into my head, West Coast, and I wasn’t far wrong. This is a Curate’s egg of an album, good in parts. At its best when the languid West Coast style is in evidence but less convincing when an element of heaviness is introduced. These sections sound laboured and lacking in melody; as if the song writing ideas had dried up. I have to question some of the choices in the synthesiser department because at times the sounds employed are thin and frankly, old.

Many will recognise Larsson as a member of Galleon, Xinema and Street Talk (ST) as well as a contributor to Lionville and Coastland Ride. He gets colleagues from ST to assist him while drawing on the vocal talents of the ubiquitous Göran Edman, Anders Åhlund and Thomas Eriksson to sing the five songs he doesn’t. The opening guitars of ‘Dance the Night Away’ bode well, draped as they are in the ethos of Steve Lukather and Michael Thompson although the keyboard refrain does detract as it is decidedly dated. Steel pedal guitar adds a slight Country flavour to an otherwise Toto infused song. Edman appears on ‘Sin City’ which starts well in a Survivor / Jimi Jamison style but the bridge and chorus feel at odds with the splendid verses. ‘How Could It Have Come To This?’ is a delightful ballad with a twist, in another era it would have been a hit. The vocal arrangement is wonderful and just as you’re lulled into the ballad there’s an unpredictable break into a heavy guitar solo; I suspect the radio edit would omit that.

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The title track has slow verses allied to a raucous chorus; the latter don’t sit well with rest of the song. ‘Forever You & Me’ is more like it, although some might find the steel pedal guitar a bit too Country, but otherwise it’s a fine West Coast ballad. ‘Missing Link’ again features Edman, this time it’s a very pleasing mid tempo song where the guitar sets the agenda; the soloing is delicious but once more the keyboard sound is extremely questionable. ‘Green Unit’ brings Michael Thompson to mind; it’s essentially a guitar and saxophone instrumental with a nice undercurrent of organ, but once more the synth sound is distracting.

‘Look The Ghost In The Eyes’ has a jazzy undercurrent while ‘The House Upon The Hill’ reprises the Toto feel but it never really catches fire in the melody department. ‘Castle Of Mine’ has a narrative style that suggests it belongs in a musical until the upbeat chorus kicks in. It’s a case of leaving the best to last as the album closes with another instrumental, ‘Welcome To My Island’, which, like the best of its kind has the guitar singing the melody delightfully.

Gary Marshall

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