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First Signal - 'One Step Over The Line' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     August 21, 2016    
 
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By no means a bad album, but I just can't see myself returning to it as regularly as I did with the debut.

I still rate the First Signal's debut as one of the very best of Frontiers Records' project albums. Created by the nucleus of Harem Scarem's Harry Hess and Pink Cream 69's Dennis Ward, it also featured a stunning guitar performance from the unknown Michael Klein with song-writing contributions from Vega's Martin Brothers, James Christian and Mark Baker, acclaimed producer Bob Marlette and the ubiquitous Erik Mårtensson, along with a couple of cracking Richard Marx covers. It was a perfectly balanced Melodic Rock album that brought Hess back to singing AOR in the style of the early Scarem records while also containing some contemporary overtones. Naturally I was excited that there would be a second album.

There's no Ward this time; this project is overseen by Daniel Flores (The Murder Of My Sweet), somebody I rate highly due to his excellent Find Me albums, with guitar/bass duties now handled by newcomer Michael Palace. In any other circumstance I'd be proclaiming this as a pretty faultless collection of songs, however when compared to the debut, it loses some of its lustre somewhat. The keyboards have been pushed considerably to the fore with the guitars making way, significantly diluting the punchy, anthemic sound the debut had, and favouring a more simplistic AOR approach, thus dispensing with the contemporary sounding compositions. The album doesn't flow as well either, due to the song sequencing – three of the ballad-orientated numbers are lumped together early on and, while not bad at all, are missing that spark that makes good songs great songs.

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The really great tracks are the up-tempo offerings; Alessandro Del Vecchio's 'Love Run Free' opens proceedings with the big chorus you would expect, while 'Love Gets Through', from Charming Grace's Pierpaolo Monti and Davide Barbieri, is another massive anthem. The real highlight comes halfway through, with the punchy 'Minute Of Your Time' (written by Pete Newdeck and Ian Nash – Tainted Nation), though I still think the keyboards overwhelm proceedings. The guitars are finally allowed to really shine on the riff-orientated 'Pedestal' (written by Three Lions' Nigel Bailey); more of this approach would have been very welcome.

The production's great, Hess is singing just as good as ever, the instrumentation is perfect, yet I feel something's missing. By no means is 'One Step Over The Line' a bad album, but I just can't see myself returning to it as regularly as I did with the debut.

Ant Heeks

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