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1994 - 'Please Stand By' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/84/fc/e7/778_1994pleasestandby_1288987965.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     November 05, 2010    
 
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This re-issue sparkles with power and clarity.

Way back in 1979 the debut album by female-fronted US band 1994 was a record I played to death, and still play regularly today due to Rock Candy’s excellent re-issue five years ago. On the back of the success of Heart and Pat Benatar there were many other good bands of the same ilk from the same era, with fellow Americans Storm (another great brace of great reissues from the same label), Spider and Canada’s Toronto immediately springing to mind. When 1994s sophomore record ‘Please Stand By…’ was first released I was initially very disappointed, but I soon came to like it a lot, even if I never actually loved it as much as their debut.

Who couldn’t love the vocals of the lovely Karen Lawrence? A particularly versatile singer who could just as easily strip the paint off your woodwork with her throaty roar as caress your ears with her beautiful melodies. The main difference for me on this album was the loss of original guitarist Steve Schiff, whose incendiary playing lit up every song, and whilst he was ably replaced by Rick Armand (and bassist Bill Rhodes,who plays more guitar than bass here), the results were maybe just a little too varied and the album lacked the consistent style of their self-titled release. Having said that the opening title-track is a great upbeat song,and the song the original LP ended with, the raucous ‘Keep Ravin’ On’,is perhaps the heaviest thing they recorded. Both ‘Wait For Me’ and ‘Stop The Heartache’ are nicely arranged Heart-like mid-paced songs with soaring vocals and catchy melodies, whilst ‘Our Time Will Come’ is an impressive power ballad with an inspired guitar solo. The highpoint of the album is the killer hard rocker ‘So Bad’ with it’s multiple stereo guitar parts and pounding bass lines, not to mention a brilliant vocal performance from Ms. Lawrence, but sadly the album is let down by the cheesy jazz-pop of ‘Don’t Break Up’ and the funky 80s vibe of ‘Wild In The Streets, which never seems to get going.

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There are four bonus tracks of which ‘Back In Your Arms’ is the best, indeed the poppy mid-paced track would have certainly made the album stronger had it replaced either of the above. ‘Get It Up, Get It Right’ is a lively rock’n’roller that’s a little to raw for it’s own good, and 1994’s version of ‘You Better Run’ is a little pedestrian and trails behind the versions by Pat Benatar and Toronto, whilst an alternative ‘analogue’ version of ‘Our Time Will Come’ is interesting to hear but lags way behind the one that made the album.

With another great production job from legendary Aerosmith/Alice Cooper man Jack Douglas, this re-issue sparkles with power and clarity and I’m still hearing sounds that I’d never heard before in the thirty years that I’d been listening to the LP. Paul Suter’s sleeve essay tells the usual sad story of lack of record company support and a band falling apart under the pressure, which is a shame because 1994’s sophomore release is still better than most albums of it’s ilk.

Phil Ashcroft

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