Reviews written by Woody - Page 2
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Lionville - Lionville
|Value for Money:||5.0|
Review by Woody
Lionville is a project put together by Italian main man Stefano Lionetti who composes most of the music on the album and plays guitar and also vocals, mostly backing, on the album. Joining Stefano in the core band is main singer Lars Safsund of Work of Art, Pierpaolo Monti from fellow Italian AOR band Shining Line on Drums and keyboard wiz Alessandro Del Vecchio. The album contains loads of guest performances including Tommy Denander (Guitar), Mario Percudani (Guitar), Andrea Maddalone (Guitar), Sven Larsson (Guitar), Bruce Gaitsch (Guitar), Amos Monti (Bass), Anna Portalupi (Bass), Erik Martensson (Backing Vocals) & Arabella Vitanc (Lead & Backing Vocals). Although Lionville sounds like a project with many musicians input, it does have a cohesive and linear band sound to it, giving Lionville its own identity!
Blown away would be an understatement of my first reaction to the first play of the album, pure AOR at its finest. Sort of coming out the blue from mainly previously unknown main musicians, very much like Pierpaolo Monti’s own band Shining Line did last year, and creating a major impact. This debut album is full of what is great about the pure AOR sound, summery feel good songs with huge choruses, upfront and intricate keyboard work, intensely melodic guitar riffs and licks and of course warm and unforgettable vocals and layered harmonies. I’m sure this album will be a major winner with the majority of the AOR fan base and see them going ape shit over this solid collection of tracks. Not sure the album will win over fans outside the genre as it’s sound is very influenced by the sound of the 80’s, although never feeling tired or retro I’m not sure it will appeal to the kerrang generation – I don’t see that as a bad thing though diversity is the spice of life I feel! Even if it doesn’t equal mainstream financial success. This album is crafted with love of the music that is plain to hear not for the promise of riches.
Lars Safsund is an inspired choice for front man as his vocals are not only perfect in their performance on this album but also perfect for this brand of pure AOR. Big shout out has to go to Keyboardist Alessandro Del Vecchio who does a wonderful job on this album and is my second favourite key’s man (James Martin of Vega is number one duh!). Del Vecchio has played on many types of albums and he is an extremely accomplished and versatile musician and a real asset to the current melodic rock scene as he has a real ear for what works on different styles of songs. Obviously the main nod for this wonderful album has to go to Stefano who composed and put together this stupendous slab of AOR, which will get stuck in many genre fans stereo’s, Car stereos and Ipoggle thingy majiggys for many years to come!
Del Vecchio’s keys are awesome on opener “Here By My Side” with a strong guitar riff from Andrea Maddalone which also has a killer traditional big AOR chorus. An instant hit from the get go, an almost perfect slice of AOR goodness. “With You” has a great build up to its bright and breezy chorus. Top notch key’s again with a very memorable Keyboard riff and hold your breath a keyboard solo!!!! Lots of hook filled guitar licks and Lars’s soaring vocals make this song irresistible. The Toto-esque “Centre Of My Universe” is a west coast ballad which creates a great upbeat atmosphere – Nice and Fluffy!!!
“Thunder In Your Heart” is a full force AOR rocker with a big ass chorus filled with soaring harmonies and an outstanding memorable melody. There is a really cool drive to this song’s tempo I really like. “World Without Your Love” has music written by Richard Marx and Bruce Gaitsch and it’s a ballad that really has that Marx stamp all over it. Safsund’s vocals excel on this track accompanied by more fabulous keys from Del Vecchio – a top class west coast ballad! “Power Of My Dreams” is an AOR rocker with an air guitar inducing guitar riff and in my case air keyboards. The pre-chorus on this song really kills before kicking into an awesome sing-along chorus. Great Key’s, Great Guitar’s, Great Vocal’s – does it get much better than this?
“No End In Sight” has some phenomenal guitar work from guest Sven Larsson on this mid-tempo ballad. West Coast AOR at its finest with a fantastic summery ambience to the chorus with an incredible melody which will never leave you. “The Chosen Ones” contains some excellent catchy as hell guitar riffs and lyrics courtesy of Tommy Denander & Mario Percudani. This song features an amazing vocal performance form the amazing Arabella Vitanc (Alyson Avenue) on this killer rocking duet. The pre-chorus has a massive hook and I can’t get it out of my head and has an unforgettable guitar riff and a top notch soaring AOR chorus.
West Coast ballad “Over & Over Again” has a very 80’s vibe, with a sweeping chorus that washes over you joyously. Stefano takes up lead vocals on this track along with some excellent backing vocals and harmonies make this tune unforgettable. “Dreamhunter” is a Journey-esque rocker with some cool guitar work from Mario Percudani full of hooks. Has a big summertime pure AOR chorus. “Say Goodbye” is a great acoustic ballad and features a standout vocal performance from Sarsfund. It has a bittersweet, end of the summer days and timeless tone to it.
Lionville is a master class in pure AOR; genre fans will poop their pants excessively with delight upon hearing this. Definitely an album for pure and west coast AOR fans to check out. It's a perfect album for the summer, although I’m not sure when this year’s is going to kick in! Stefano more of the same please!
Track Listing: Here By My Side / With You / Centre Of My Universe / Thunder In Your Heart / The World Without Your Love / Power Of My Dreams / No End In Sight / The Chosen Ones / Over & Over Again / Dreamhunter / Say Goodbye
Album Rating: 5/5
Woody’s Essential Track: The Chosen Ones
Night Ranger - Somewhere in California
|Value for Money:||5.0|
Review by Woody
Iconic AORsters Night Ranger return with a new album in their 30th anniversary year! Featuring founder members Jack Blades on bass & vocals, Kelly Keagy on Drums & Vocals, Brad Gillis on lead and rhythm guitar as well as new boys Joel Hoekstra lead & rhythm guitar & Eric Levy on Keyboards.
There is quite a buzz about this new one from Night Ranger, whilst I think this is a great album and will surely be in many people’s lists of best of 2011 albums, I fear it’s not the classic the buzz indicates. What you do get here is a solid collection of melodic beauty’s that has the Night Ranger stamp all over it and should be enjoyed for what it is and add a few more unforgettable Ranger tunes to the collection. Let your own ears decide on this one, but I’m confident AOR lovers will relish every second of music on offer on “Somewhere in California”.
This album is far more accessible than the bands previous effort “Hole In The Sun”, which disappointed and didn’t linger in the memory for long. So this album is really a return to form and could be their best since their 80’s heyday. They have embraced a more modern pop rock feel to their sound but still retain all those AOR traits they are known for – this is AOR for the next Generation, I doubt people will bemoan this album as a throwback to the 80’s. The musicianship on offer here is outstanding with stellar vocal performances, hook filled guitar work and important keyboard work which enhances every song whether it be subtlety or upfront. It’s the standard of these performances which put the band head and shoulders above all those around them.
Opener “Growin’ Up In California” is a summer tune extraordinaire! The track does have a modern pop rock ambience but really evokes memories of the wonderful melodies of the Beach Boys and that era’s California surfing’ rock and roll sound! The bands first single from the album and it’s easy to hear why, full of hook laden keyboards and guitar licks. “Lay It On Me” has crunching guitars and pounding drums, a song with real drive and a sing-along chorus. It's a song that’s full of AOR style swagger and packs a mean melodic punch. “Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight)” opens with a phenomenal guitar solo which does repeat throughout the song and trust me you’ll never get it out your head and you will don guitar to try and recreate it. This song makes a real impression and contains some fantastic vocal melodies as well as some lovely understated keyboard work. This song probably contains my favourite guitar solo on the entire album.
“Follow Your Heart” has a retro 70’s AOR feel to it, I have to admit the song didn’t really stick out for me and felt like a bit of filler and didn’t have the impact the other songs were having. Solitary ballad “Time Of Our Lives” is an outstanding tune, a highly memorable and powerful song. Some insanely good keyboard work from Eric Levy on this one, not only does he create some touching melodies throughout but his keys on the chorus are top notch and enhance it tenfold. You’ll never forget the chorus it is pure melodic bliss and if it was covered by a pop band I’d say it’s a sure fire number one hit!
“No Time To Lose” contains some great swaggering riffs and see’s Night Ranger in full on rocker mode. With a HUGE chorus that other bands would kill for and Keyboard’s to die for! “Live For Today” is another retro rocker and it’s another fluff piece which loses me unfortunately. “It’s Not Over” opens with some insistent guitar work and has a real old school Night Ranger vibe, especially on the harmony laden chorus.
“End Of The Day” has some unforgettable, instant and catchy guitar riffs. It’s a head banging melodic rocking beast of a song with a huge harmonious and soaring chorus. I’m sure this will be many fans’ favourite. “Rock N Roll Tonite” does exactly what it says on the tin, a full on rocking’ melodic anthem. A song that’s full of energy and punk edged attitude. “Say It With Love” closes the album with a bang. It’s a good way to end a fantastic album with some memorable guitar work and a pure Night Ranger 80’s AOR chorus. There is some wonderful hook filled vocal harmonies that litter the verses and is a track full of drive and hooks – AOR genius that will stick in your head!
Night Ranger are probably most famous for their ballads, but this album is a full on hard rock journey and far from the soppy power ballads that were the bands hits back in the day, proving they aren’t a lightweight band with a huge rebel roar here.
With the AOR scene been so unfashionable and seen by many as cheesy a good record from a major name can be a real boost in the arm for the scene and its credibility, “Somewhere In California” proves AOR isn’t dead and is still a musically relevant style in no uncertain terms. From my point of view this has to be a must buy release for all fans of AOR, whom I’m certain will love this album with vigour. Now if we can only get these guys to do a full UK tour! Hang on what’s that in the sky? Is that a plane? Is it superman? No it’s a pig!!!!
Track Listing: Growin’ Up In California / Lay It On Me / Bye Bye Baby (Not Tonight) / Follow Your Heart / Time Of Our Lives / No Time To Lose / Live For Today / It’s Not Over / End Of The Day / Rock N Roll Tonite / Say It With Love
Album Rating: 5/5
Woody’s Essential Track: Time Of Our Lives
Shadowman - Watching Over You
|Value for Money:||4.0|
Review by Woody
Shadowman are something of a super group featuring Steve Overland of FM on Vocals, Steve Morris of Heartland on Guitars and Keyboards with the Thunder rhythm section Harry James (Drums) & Chris Child (Bass). Watching Over You is the band’s fourth album produced by Steve Morris and mixed by Tommy Hansen.
Given the line-up of Shadowman I have always kept an ear out for their albums and their unique blend of Blues and AOR. Although to be honest all their albums are a tad average, 3 or 4 songs that are awesome and the rest been distinctly unremarkable, therefore making the albums as a whole average. It seems that the two Steve’s have hit a rich song writing vein this time around, with definitely their most complete and satisfying work so far. They have taken all the elements of the best songs from the previous albums and combined them to deliver a solid overall album. The band does have some VERY and I do mean VERY slight hints of Heartland and “Dead Man’s Shoes” era FM, but nonetheless should appeal to fans of those bands with their unique bluesy AOR sound.
As you’d expect Steve O’s vocals are perfect as per usual and his smooth velvet type vocals seem to suit the blues and definitely the shadowman songs fantastically. With their been a lot of Steve Overland music about at the moment, FM, solo, Shadowman and the upcoming Ozone (featuring Heartland vocalist Chris Ousey) you could feel it may be a little overkill, but Shadowman are distinctively different to his other projects to make this a worthwhile purchase with a different feel to it. Having said that given the loyal fan base Steve O has I’m sure they want even more from the man, with top notch vocals like his it’s great to see the man so busy!
It would be nice to see this band live although I fear the members other projects will always prioritize their time, shame really as I think the band could win over a whole new audience in the blues live circuit audience!
Opening cut “Across The Universe” has a funky retro vibe in the verses with a smooth chorus that has a melancholic ambience to it. It was very nice to hear a Hammond organ solo albeit unexpected!!!! “Renegades” is probably the heaviest song the band has ever done. It see’s the band put pedal to the metal with a harder rocking feel and Steve O’s vocals shine on the hard edged chorus. Melancholic ballad “Cry” has some cool guitar work from Steve M and it has a wonderfully albeit sorrowful chorus. Steve O’s legendary vocals are stunningly emotive; I love the melodies and lyrics on this track immensely.
Title track “Watching Over You” has shades of Heartland to it. It’s a blues edged mid tempo rocker with a fantastic AOR chorus that see’s Steve O’s vocals shine again. “Are You Ready” has a bluesy rock and roll sway to it and a chorus Bad Company would love to do! “Suzanne” see’s Steve M deliver some killer guitar work, layering guitar hooks and licks with an upfront slow riff to great effect. The pure AOR chorus has Steve O excelling on some great and remember able vocal melodies.
“Waiting For A Miracle” is 70’s blues complete with a Hammond organ. It’s one of the weaker songs on the album in my opinion but should appeal to fans of Dead Man’s Shoes era FM. “Stop Breaking This Heart Of Mine” is possibly the bands greatest song ever. The AOR chorus with its bluesy swagger see’s Steve O on top form. There is a real melancholic vibe to this mid tempo rocker and it contains some awesome guitar licks from Steve M. An Absolutely amazing song with a wonderfully emotive ambience to it! “Heaven Waits” is a slow burning blues cut which fails to grab me and for me is the weakest song on the album.
“Whatever It Takes” is a great example of the band at their best and what they are about stylistically. This song see’s the band at their most commercial and catchiest with a hook laden AOR chorus that will stick in your head and a wonderful guitar riff from Steve M. “Justify” is a blues rocker which see’s Steve M lay down some awesome guitar riffs and has a blues fuelled chorus. “The Party’s Over” has a quirky attitude and really puts me in mind of Thunder in a lot of the guitar playing and the songs overall vibe, although Steve O’s smooth vocals soften the feel of the song especially on the chorus.
If you liked Shadowman’s previous output I assure you you’re going to LOVE this! The band’s wealth of talent has finally given us the album which their talents suggest they should. A release that should appeal to blues rock fans as well as the obvious AOR fan base, and if you like both genre’s their brand of Blues AOR should have you twitching with joy.
Track listing: Across The Universe / Renegades / Cry / Watching Over You / Are You Ready / Suzanne / Waiting For A Miracle / Stop Breaking This Heart Of Mine / Heaven Waits / Whatever It Takes / Justify / Party Is Over
Album Rating: 4/5
Woody’s Essential Track: Stop Breaking This Heart Of Mine
Steele - Tricks Up My Sleeve
|Value for Money:||4.0|
Review By Woody
An album written and recorded in the early 90’s gets released in Japan in the mid 90’s & finally see’s the light of day in 2011! Steele fell afoul of the radical change in the music industry around 92 to 94, where anything remotely commercial was dropped in favour of a grungier and less polished rock sound. Steele were even offered to remain on their label if they cut their hair grew beards wore flannel shirts and sounded like Alice In Chains!
Steele is basically main man Jeff “Steele” Zugale, but features performances from Steve Witschel (Bass), Hira Homma (Drums), Joe Fiamingo (Backing Vocals) Ted Poley (Backing Vocals), Irene Wohlman (Bass) & Dave Lewitt (Drums). This album has floated about in limbo for a long time so has been re-mastered and sound wise you can’t complain! Album artwork for me isn’t overly important and in the digital download age is something becoming less important for everyone. Although I have to say I really like the artwork here and throughout the booklet, I believe this was also done by Jeff Steele, it seems a man with many talents.
This album is very of its time, but that’s not a bad thing and it’s a shame it never saw the light of day when it had the potential to be a chart botherer. It’s in the vein of many American hair metal bands of the late 80’s & early 90’s. It’s a solid album and I enjoyed it far more than I was expecting as some hair metal bands can be a little samey – but this album does stand out amongst the glut of similar releases of that era. It doesn’t sound dated even though its style is evident with every chord, I’m sure fans of Skid Row, Poison, Motley Crue, Warrant, Tuff and that hair metal scene will love this album.
“Tricks Up My Sleeve” kicks off the album with a bang. A fantastic rockin tune, which features some great guitar work that will really stick with you. This is a head banging, air guitar-ing beauty complete with chant along chorus. “Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me” is a Skid Row inspired slice of rock n roll. Its high energy hair metal full of hooks, a killer track. “700 Miles” has an Americana acoustic ballad style beginning before kicking the guitars in big and chunky! This song has a great feel and some top notch vocals from Mr Steele.
“Flirtin With Fame” has big chunky riffs with a metallic edge. Another awesome guitar riff and strong memorable chorus. “Stay” is an atmospheric metal ballad, with a powerful vocal performance on the dark chorus. “Live Forever” is an energetic rocker with an urgent guitar riff and chant along Poison style chorus.
“I’ll Never Cry” has killer guitar riffs and a great pounding energy. The storming chorus on this song will get stuck in your head I assure you! “Only In Your Mind” has some wonderful intricate guitar work. It’s a hair metal ballad evoking Crue & Poison and I adore the guitar work on this track.
“Lead Me Over” is for me the weakest song on the album and it failed to grab me with its funky beat and meandering tone. Ballad “Innocence” closes the album and it didn’t stick with me and got boring very quickly. So a strong album finishes poorly with the two weakest tracks tacked on at the end.
Melodic Rock with a great hard edged swagger that will make you wanna get your air guitars out and crank em up to 11! I’m sure had this come out back in the day it would have been massive as it has hooks everywhere and chant along choruses, think Skid Row but more melodic! Steele are scheduled to play at Z Rock 2012 at The Robin in Wolverhampton and after hearing this I’m really looking forward to seeing these guys crank it up at the festival! If you still have a 50 foot perm, a penchant for wearing make-up and a love of hairspray – this one’s for you!
Track Listing: Tricks Up My Sleeve / Love Ain’t Gonna Change Me / 700 Miles / Flirtin’ With Fame / Stay / Live Forever / I’ll Never Cry / Only In Your Mind / Lead Me Over / Innocence
Album Rating: 4/5
Woody’s Essential Track: Tricks Up My Sleeve
Stampede - A Sudden Impulse
|Value for Money:||5.0|
Review by Woody
I have to admit Stampede is a new name to me and I only discovered the band upon their reformation and consequent live dates. The band were amongst the N.W.O.B.H.M movement of the early 80’s, and despite gathering support and critical acclaim at the time the band never really hit the big time, but given the support of the band now they have reformed it’s surprising they never made more headlines back in the day. “A Sudden Impulse” is only their second official album a cool 28 years later, a lots happened in that time and Stampede guitarist Laurence Archer went on to play in UFO & Phil Lynott’s Grand Slam.
With the band’s cult status firmly established following raving reports of their return live performances it’s no surprise the band have decided to do an all new album. The band currently features Reuben Archer (Vocals), Laurence Archer (Lead Guitar), Colin Bond (Bass), Chris Clowsley (Guitar) & Steve Graystone (Drums) and a little studio help from Rob Wolverson (Guitar). The album was recorded in various studios but was mixed and mastered by Mad Hat studio’s favourites Mark Stuart & Sheena Shear in Wolverhampton.
Having been so impressed with a band so totally new and fresh to me I had high hopes and expectations for this album. I wasn’t disappointed! “A Sudden Impulse” is a grand collection of blues influenced melodic hard rock in the tradition of UFO & Thunder. There is a real traditional and very British feel to stampede’s swaggering brand of blues rock which really appeals to me, but I wouldn’t say the album feels retro. There are a lot of new young bands out there trying to capture that era’s feel and energy and Stampede are very much in that fold and this album should not just appeal to your average classic rock fan but also fans of bands like Black Stone Cherry.
One thing that will definitely make the band stand out is Reuben’s gritty yet highly melodic vocal style, personally I love Reuben’s vocals strong enough to rock out but also melodious enough to bring some fantastic vocal melodies to life throughout the album. Laurence’s solo’s are also a highlight as he never venture’s into self indulgence territory and just lays some killer line’s down. Obviously the massive swaggering riffs Laurence provides are the bands backbone and he provides some highly memorable, head nodding goodies on the album. A big shout out has to go out to some of the more subtle and intricate guitar work that goes on during many of the songs giving the songs a real depth and rich feel, some of my favourite music on the album is in the less obvious hook’s on many of the songs.
Opening cut “Send Me Down An Angel” is as anthemic as it gets, with a huge sing-along chorus, a traditional sounding song with a blues rock swaggering riff. I also like some of the lovely hook filled guitar licks in the chorus. A song I know for a fact goes down really well live and I’m sure it will become a stalwart of the band’s live set. “Jessie” has a killer blues rock riff, a really raw song full of energy. The style of this number really puts me in mind of Thunder. “Having Fun” is exactly that! A song that does what it says on the tin, a fantastically light hearted number and a real fun rockin’ tune. Laurence lays down another big swaggering riff and Reuben’s vocals really shine and hell who don’t love a song with plenty of sing along Na Na Na Na’s in hey?
“Make A Change” is a ballad which highlights Reuben’s soulful voice and really captures a 70’s classic rock feel. “Hard Rock Hell” is a brooding mid tempo rocker, very moody with vocals that augment that feel. “This Road” is a hard hitting rocker full of energy and swagger. This is another song which has a real traditional blues rock ambience to it.
My favourite song on the album is “Homeward Bound” a mid tempo rocker which is a melodic beast of a tune. Reuben’s powerful and soulful vocals excel and enchant on possibly the bands most melodic number. It contains an instant killer chorus and I really like the lyrics to this song. Listen out for some awesome intricate guitar work which is immense and catchy as hell; Laurence delivers some great melodic guitar work on the chorus as well as a standout solo. A song with some cracking melodies and a feel good factor to its sound.
“Shame On You” opens with a bang with some hook filled guitar’s and contains a massive rockin’ melodic chorus. Yet another song with an anthemic vibe and this is sure to be a storming live number. “Natural Disaster” has a raw energy, a beating blues rock song which is a real head bopper. “Humble Pie” is also very raw, a moody and retro blues rocker with some cool guitar work. Listen out for some fabulous vocal harmonies!
“Flaming Gold” is an atmospheric ballad. Reuben’s voice is amazing and powerful on this song. It’s a real standout track for the band with a killer melodic chorus which really sticks in your head. It also contains some wonderful intricate guitar work which complements the vocal melodies. There’s two bonus tracks, an acoustic version of “Flaming Gold” & “Recharged” which is an anthemic song about a hard working live band. I’m really shocked this track is a bonus track, its riff and anthemic chorus stand up with all the rest of the song's on offer here.
I think this album is essential for all fans of British Classic Rock in the vein of Thunder, UFO, Bad Company & Skin. It’s a solid album from beginning to end, no duffers or fillers in sight, just a damn fine collection of bluesy melodic hard rock. A great return from the band see’s an album full of energetic swaggering rock anthems and tender and beautiful ballads. I also highly recommend seeing the band live, after one listen to this you’ll hear straight away that this band’s music is born and created for the live arena.
Track Listing: Send Me Down An Angel / Jessie / Having Fun / Make A Change / Hard Rock Hell / This Road / Homeward Bound / Shame On You / Natural Disaster / Humble Pie / Flaming Gold / Recharged / Flaming Gold (acoustic)
Album Rating: 5/5
Woody’s Essential Track: Homeward Bound
Shining Line - Shining Line
|Value for Money:||5.0|
(Avenue of Allies)
Review by Woody
Shining Line features a cast of who’s who in the current melodic rock scene who have been gathered for an old school AOR project. The band is the brainchild of Italian drummer Pierpaolo Monti who is the principal songwriter on the album and the main band here are Amos Monti (bass), Alessandro Del Vecchio (Keyboards), Marco D’Andrea (Planethard) & Mario Percudani (Hungryheart) on Guitar’s. The production duties are performed by Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova, and Voices of Rock).
There is a massive guest list on this album so *deep breath* appearing on the album we have, Erik Martensson (Eclipse), Tank Palamara (Oxido), Harry Hess (Harem Scarem), Michael T Ross (Hardline, Lita Ford, Angel), Robbie LaBlanc (Blanc Faces), Tommy Ermolli (Khymera), Robin Beck, Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn’s Dream), Michael Voss (Mad Max, Casanova), Michael Shotton (Von Groove), Vinny Burns (Dare, Ten), Bob Harris (Axe) Sue Willets (Dante Fox), Tim Manford (Dante Fox), Ulrich Carlson (M.ill.ion), Carsten Schulz (Evidence One), Marko Pavic , Phil Vincent, Matt Fillippini (Moonstone Project), Brunorock, Michael Bormann (Jaded Heart) amongst many others.
Given how many musicians have a hand in the creation of this album, you’d be forgiven for thinking this has the potential to be a total mess. Thankfully it’s the total opposite and what the album delivers is a fantastic collection of old school style AOR with a great upbeat summery feel, with some amazing performances from many of the guests. I think some thought has gone into who was to sing or play on every song so that everyone got a song that suited them best without upsetting the overall feel of the album. The style of the song’s flow well together and you never feel like your listening to a compilation album but listening to a Shining Line album, even though every song has a different singer. I think keeping the vibe of the material in one vain helps make the album more cohesive and enjoyable and also allows us to enjoy the song writing skills of all involved especially Pierpaolo Monti.
When I first heard of the project and that its principal songwriter was a drummer I automatically assumed this would be a heavy affair if not Metal definitely at the harder edge of rock. Surprisingly what we do get is a sumptuous and beautiful collection of unforgettable melodies and sing along choruses - a near perfect summer melodic rock album. They don’t make them like this anymore and certainly nowhere near as well as this. These all-star projects can be very hit and miss for me but I think the fact the sound of this album is very cohesive makes it stand out amongst similar projects. I think the biggest down side to this album isn’t about the music but the probability we will never hear these songs live given the amount of musicians involved in the project.
Old School AOR Rocker “Highway Of Love” feature’s Erik Martensson (Eclipse) on vocals. It showcases Erik’s vocals immensely well and also shows what a perfect AOR singer he is! It’s a great slice of summery AOR with soaring harmonies and a chorus to die for. Along with its hook filled keyboards and guitar riff it will surely be a hit with genre fans. “Amy” another rocker features Harry Hess (Harem Scarem) in AOR territory. Hess slips into traditional AOR mode with ease and dramatic results. The song has a fantastic guitar riff and an instant and catchy chorus. “Strong Enough” see’s a stellar vocal performance from Robbie LaBlanc (Blanc Faces). This song has a great upbeat feel to it and has another massive sing-along chorus.
“Heaven’s Path” is a short atmospheric keyboard instrumental courtesy of Alessandro Del Vecchio. Ballad “Heat Of The Light” features Robin Beck on vocals, who I’m a total unashamed fan boy of, and here her strong female rock voice is used to maximum effect. Beck’s voice creates a very powerful song especially on the chorus. A fantastic and memorable ballad perfect for Robin’s vocal style. “Can’t Stop The Rock” is a great up-tempo rocker with an infectious melody on the smooth chorus and features the vocal talent of Mikael Erlandsson (Last Autumn’s Dream).
Ballad “The Meaning Of My Lonely Words” features a superb vocal performance from Von Groove’s Michael Shotton and I haven’t heard him sound this good in years! Some excellent backing vocals bring out the best in the big chorus too. “The Infinity In Us” see’s producer Michael Voss step in front of the mic. It has some lush keyboards and a smack in the face guitar solo from British guitar legend Vinny Burns. A Hook laden melodic rocker with plenty of nice “Whoa Whoa’s” (always a winner aren’t they!). It’s the sort of song that sticks with you without you realising it! Mid tempo ballad “Still In Your Heart” is a duet between Bob Harris (Axe) & another favourite singer of mine Sue Willets of Dante Fox. Sue is absolutely magnificent on this track, she nails the melodies and emotion of the song perfectly and it’s great to hear Sue sing a straight ahead AOR song again. Given how beautiful and powerful this woman’s voice is it’s a real tragedy we don’t have more music from her to listen to. Tim Manford also of the tragically underrated Dante Fox also delivers a killer melodic guitar solo. The chorus on this has a killer melody and is a near perfect AOR tune - Powerful Melodic Rock Gold!
“Homeless Lullaby” is a driving rocker with a fantastic guitar riff and a big chorus with the vocal talents of Ulrich Carlson (M.ill.ion) and Carsten Schulz (Evidence One). “Follow The Stars” sees Phil Vincent show what a versatile vocalist he is and proves here without a doubt he can do smooth AOR just as well as heavier melodic rock like Legion! A smooth and beautiful AOR song with sumptuous melodies and delicious keyboards - I adore the keyboard work on this tune! “Unbreakable Wire” is a full on rocker with a driving riff and fantastic keyboards bring out the best in the song it’s big chorus - Brunorock provides the voice on this one!
Under Silent Walls the final epic track on the album is split into three parts. Part 1 - Blossom: From Night To Dawn is an instrumental, slow and atmospheric with some nice melodic guitar work. Part 2 - Alone feature’s another favourite of mine Michael Bormann on vocals. It’s an atmospheric ballad with some great backing vocals and a chorus that suits Bormann’s style perfectly - a great slow burning ballad. Part 3 - Epilogue: Death Of Cupid is an extension of part 1 only shorter and with a fuller heavier stance.
Fans of Pure AOR will go nuts for this album, which is infectiously catchy and filled with wall to wall keyboard and guitar hooks. An album chock full of emotive and powerful ballads and sing along AOR rockers. This is well crafted traditional sounding keyboard heavy AOR, light and breezy with a massive feel good factor. It’s a fantastic collection of songs which is Melodic Rock Gold and any genre fan’s collection is missing a vital part without Shining Line amongst it!
Track Listing: Highway Of Love / Amy / Strong Enough / Heaven’s Paths / Heat Of The Light / Can’t Stop The Rock / The Meaning Of My Lonely Words / The Infinity In Us / Still In Your Heart / Homeless Lullaby / Follow The Stars / Unbreakable Wire / Under Silent Walls - Part 1 - Blossom: From Night To Dawn / Under Silent Walls - Part 2 - Alone / Under Silent Walls - Part 3 - Epilogue: Death Of Cupid
Album Rating: 5/5
Woody’s Essential Track: Still In Your Heart
Issa - "Sign Of Angels"
|Value for Money:||4.0|
Review by Woody
Issa is a new name to the world of melodic rock but this Norwegian beauty has been doing the rounds in the background of the music biz for years, building up a formidable reputation and now she gets her chance to step into the limelight. She has done lots of work for various labels especially in Scandinavia singing on demos. She also intriguingly sang on a lot of Martin Brother’s demos over the years, I wouldn’t mind hearing a few of those songs sang by Issa. Filling Issa’s band are Peter Huss on Guitar, Tim Larsson on Keyboards, Nobby Noberg on Bass & Uli Kusch on Drums, with production duties been fulfilled by Ronny Milianowicz (Saint Deamon).
All the songs here are from outside writers, but I’ve heard that Issa is hoping to contribute more in the song writing department on her follow up. So we get songs contributed by The Martin Brothers/ Nick Workman (VEGA) obviously, Daniel Flores (The Murder Of My Sweet), Soren Kronkvist (Crash The System), Joachim Cans (Hammerfall) & Thomas Vikstrom (Candlemass). Here’s a fun fact for you Issa was originally in place to be the female vocalist on the recent Kiske / Sommerville album before Amanda Sommerville joined the project, thankfully Frontiers showed their faith in Issa’s skill’s and gave her the opportunity for a solo album!
I have to say I really like Issa’s vocals, but I do have a soft spot for female fronted rock bands. Fair enough some female vocalists don’t have the power in their voice for some styles of rock, but in my opinion female vocalist’s tend to be far stronger, have a greater range, be more versatile and whilst lacking in your face oomph they sure make up for it in soaring melodies. There is a warmth to Issa’s vocals that I really took too and her ability to bang out killer hook filled melodies is second to none and sometimes their’s a country-esque vibe to her voice which I really like. Issa is the focal point of this album, regardless of the strength of the songs and the performance of the other musicians, in order for this album to be a success she needed to shine. Issa put’s in a strong and impressive performance and shine she does, this album is bound to tick all the right box’s with Melodic Rock / AOR fans and be welcomed with open arms!
It’s not a standard melodic rock sounding album though, whilst that is what it is essentially, there is a blend of softer melodic metal and symphonic metal thrown into the mix. The album also has some slight goth tinge’s which give’s some songs a real dark vibe. It’s a solid collection of Melodic Rock tunes, which I can’t recommend enough to genre fans. Full of Big Choruses, soaring melodies, killer hooks with excellent musicianship and astounding vocal’s and harmonies! Also this is heavy enough to appeal to heavier rock and metal fans whilst still been melodic enough to keep AOR fans on board!
“Angel’s Crying” is an explosive opener, full of hooks, soaring harmonies and vocals. It’s a driving rocker with some great keyboard work and a gothic tinge - puts me in the mind of Crash the System. Lead track “I’m Alive” has some great keyboards and there is a great build up to an instant and catchy chorus. Great vocal’s from Issa here really draw you into the song. Ballad “Give Me A Sign” doesn’t have an instant impact but I really like the warmth of Issa’s vocal’s on it.
I should have known “River Of Love” was a Martin Brothers song; it has their stamp all over it. First time I heard the album I was totally unaware of the Brothers involvement, even in the PR their presence is strangely omitted. This time though the Brothers are accompanied by VEGA comrade Nick Workman on song writing duties! Probably the most commercial and instant song on the album, also there is no goth or dark vibe is present on this summery slice of feel good rock roll courtesy of the new saviours of melodic rock VEGA! Issa obviously puts her vocal stamp on it and delivers a fantastic performance on a top notch song which she makes her own - prepare to sing along! It’s keyboard heavy, unbelievably chart friendly and is dripping with melodic goodness from every note. With a killer infectious chorus, hook filled keyboards and unforgettable guitar playing the VEGA guys should have kept this one for themselves! Can’t get this one outta my head!
“What Can I Do” is dark and gothic with some symphonic metal style keyboard work. It’s a good showcase for Issa’s vocal ability and I absolutely adore the bombastic keys on this one! “Closer” has a modern / alternative tinge to it and it reminds me of a band called Lambretta, if you like this song I highly recommend you track down Lambretta. “Unbelievable”, I love Issa’s voice on here and its probably her finest performance on the album. It’s a very poppy ballad, puts me in mind of Deacon Street & Crash the System. This would do well in the mainstream charts and I’m sure it would become a stalwart song on The Karaoke Factor, if it was a hit!
“How Will I Know” has some killer in your face keyboards coupled with a driving guitar riff and accompanied by Issa’s emotive vocal style. It has an unforgettable chorus, powerful and highly melodic. Are you ready for another song from the VEGA writing time? Well here you go “As I Live And Breathe” is a chart bothering, insanely catchy and instant slice of melodic rock from the VEGA boys. It has a fantastic melodic guitar riff, strong and powerful with a killer smooth and melodic chorus. As you’d expect from The Martin Brothers this is pure Melodic Rock gold!
“Flying High” is a driving mid-tempo rocker, with a pounding and punchy chorus. It’s very Crash the System but with female vocals obviously, dark and slightly gothic. Ballad “It’s Not Me” has a great memorable chorus and has a really nice drive to it. Issa’s vocals are very country-esque here, the songs not though, with a powerful and pounding rhythm section and heavy guitar riff. “Falling Angel” is a full on rocker with soaring harmonies and a killer chorus. There’s also a great guitar riff and the subtle keyboard brings out the best in every aspect of the song.
Whilst I love the keyboard work on the entire album this is a guitar heavy rock n roll adventure of an album and will appeal to melodic rock fans who want a little more crunch to their music. It’s full of unshakeable melodies and I’m sure this is destined to make many people’s favourite album of the year lists and make Issa the talk of the town. If you’re a fan of female fronted rock in general or Symphonic / Goth metal you should check this album out. Also it’s for fans of Scandi rock and bands akin to Crash The System, Human Temple, Lambretta & All Ends. A fantastic debut album and I’m sure Issa will be around for a long time to come!
Angels Crying / I’m Alive / Give Me A Sign / River Of Love / What Can I Do / Closer / Unbelievable / How Will I Know / As I Live and Breathe / Flying High / It’s Not Me / Falling Angel
Album Rating: 4/5
Woody's Essential Track: How Will I Know
SKIN - "Breaking The Silence"
|Value for Money:||4.0|
Review by Woody
Skin developed a loyal following back in the early 90’s with their blend of good time bluesy hard rock, that devout following was also intensified by their electric and captivating live shows and along with Brit rockers Thunder were considered un-missable live! The band’s success was short lived with the drastic change in mainstream rock during the very dark times of the 90’s in the rock world, so the band decided to call it a day in 98. A reunion was never thought to be possible as all the band member’s careers and lives moved on outside the world of music, but the band were coaxed back into reforming for a one of show at the annual Download Festival at Donnington Park. The band were lined up amongst a line-up of “Classic” band’s harking back to the Monsters Of Rock festival’s that annually took place at Donning ton - till the 90’s screwed the pooch!
What was to be a one-off performance preceded by 2 warm up shows in London & Wolverhampton (I was there!) garnered the band with fantastic reaction’s from their still loyal fan base. So out the blue the band decided to have one more crack at the biz, and since have played a full UK tour, played at Download again this year, played a warm up show at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton (I was there!) and have another full UK tour scheduled for December. Unfortunately no sooner are we celebrating the return of the band, the band are calling it a day again so the upcoming tour is our last chance to experience the band in the area they shone the most, live & loud on stage. The band are set to play the O2 Academy in Birmingham on the 16th of December and Rock City on the 18th, so I suggest you get your singing voices ready, don your favourite dancing shoes and get your asses down one last time to see SKIN rock the house and say goodbye!
Luckily SKIN are leaving us with another memento to their legacy in the form of their 4th album “Breaking The Silence”. It’s not an album that’s going to change the world but its sound and style is what you’d expect from the band and I can say without a doubt will please the band’s fan base immensely. It does show a level of maturity in the song writing and show’s the band has evolved and grown without sacrificing the sound and style they are known for. Some songs hark back to the debut album and some indicate a similar alternative vibe that was present on their final album “Experience Electric”, so not only does it appease fans of Skin’s diverse back catalogue but adds a nice shading to the album’s overall feel. Vocalist Nev MacDonald has always been a favourite of mine, one of the most powerful singer’s I’ve ever seen live, and we get some classy and memorable performances again from Nev here, hopefully this is not the last we hear of Nev. Myke Gray who is the driving force behind the band and principal songwriter has crafted some of his best material ever, and has definitely shown more maturity in his song writing and had this album come after “Experience Electric” I don’t think the band would have split. Myke creates some great bluesy riff’s on some full force groove laden rockers, but also showing some diversity with some more alternative sounding rockers and also showing some real growth on some personal and emotive ballads.
The aptly titled “Good To be Back” opens the album; it’s an old school typical blues rock skin style rocker which has a great groove to it. “Don’t Call It Love” is a stomping, swaggering beast of a song which I think will go down amazingly well live with it’s head banging groove. “Stronger” is a melodic groove laden rocker with some fantastic guitar work. This song definitely show’s a grown up Skin!
“Can You Feel It?” is a song that really builds and draws you in till it delivers it’s big and intense chorus - which see’s Nev let rip! “The Book Of Your Life” is a mid-tempo ballad with a killer melodic chorus as well as some more excellent guitar work from Myke - this is another song that shows a real maturity from the band. Acoustic ballad “When I’m With You” puts me in mind of songs in a similar vain by Thunder. Nev’s blues soaked vocals made this song a hit with me instantly, a powerful and strong ballad. This will definitely have those lighters waving in the air.
“Trigger Inside” see’s the band mess with the style a little bit, as this has a very alternative vibe to it and could have sat easily on the experience electric album. Not as accessible as other songs on here but a good song still none the less! “Indestructible” continues the alternative vibe. It has a great heavy guitar groove and the song is a darker track which again isn’t as accessible but it does have a great swagger to it. “Redemption” is a heartfelt and meaningful ballad and Nev’s top notch vocals give these lyric’s a fantastic delivery!
The band finish the album with a bang with two up-tempo full on rockers! “Bad Reputation” is a cert to be a killer live tune, an insistent make you dance guitar riff and its dirty rock and roll chorus grabs you by the scruff of the neck. This is just as good as anything the band has ever written in the past. Although my favourite song on the album is “Born To Rock N Roll” which is an explosive rocker! The band opened their set at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton with this sang and it just blew me away, with its fantastic energy - a definite live classic! It’s catchy as hell, has a great sing out loud and proud chorus, a great slice of blues rock and roll at its best.
This album is a must for established fans and will have them all chomping at the bit to see a good portion of these songs live! Whilst the album is stylistically diverse in parts, this album is what you’d expect from the band full on Blues Rock with a dirty swagger to it! That diversity will help make this album stick out more and I think the level of maturity shown in the song writing especially the emotive ballads will have fans that have grown up with the band loving every minute of them. To me this album is stronger than most their previous output with the exception of the classic debut and is a fitting epitaph to the band’s career. As a long time fan of the band, it’s sad to see them come and go so quickly, but I’m immensely grateful for their short and active reunion. One last gig then to shout were are all Born to Rock N Roll then guys?!
Good To Be Back / Don’t Call It Love / Stronger / Can You Feel It? / The Book Of Your Life / When I’m With You / Trigger Inside / Indestructible / Redemption / Bad Reputation / Born To Rock N Roll
Album Rating: 4/5
Woody’s Essential Track: Born To Rock N Roll
Terry Brock - "Diamond Blue"
|Value for Money:||4.0|
Terry Brock - Diamond Blue
Review By Woody
Diamond Blue is the long awaited second album for popular Melodic Rock singer Terry Brock who sprang to people’s attentions fronting cult British AOR rockers Strangeways in the late 80’s. It has indeed been a long wait for this album with Terry’s last solo effort “Back To Eden” emerging nine years ago but this time he’s teamed up with buddy Mike Slamer! Slamer is probably one of the most well respected and loved British melodic rock guitarists of all time starting his career with Brum band City Boy! It’s been a busy year for Brock after been unveiled as the new singer with Giant, this solo album and of course the new album with reformed British AOR’sters Strangeways.
Another stunning melodic rock album from the Frontiers records stable, this is a fantastic slice of feel good rock. I think the average melodic rock fan is going to love this and welcome this album with open arms. I suppose the biggest negative non genre fans could pose is that it’s a touch formulaic, it has obviously been crafted to appeal to a certain audience and Slamer’s guitar work does at time seem to be reigned in a little. Having said that it ticks all the right box’s with me, strong melodies, big catchy guitar riffs, powerful and emotive vocals and relatable lyrics. Whilst Brock & Slamer haven’t re-invented the wheel it’s still a collection of songs that stand out amongst the crowd and will definitely appease genre fans. Brock’s vocals are fantastic throughout showing his versatility letting rip on some songs and been all smooth the next. His voice has a warmth to it that make’s him one of my favourite singers and it’s obviously led to him been an exceeding popular vocalist within the scene. Mike Slamer creates some great musical moments and his trademark style is evident, reigned in or not, it’s still damn good, this guy really knows how to write a melodic rock guitar riff!
“Diamond Blue” really puts me in mind of Slamer’s old band (and much loved by me!) Steelhouse Lane. A big ass riff grabs your attention and builds up to a really smooth chorus. This rocker combines powerful guitar work and soaring melodies to deliver a real in your face opener to the album. “It’s You” has feel good factor 10 written all over it! The first time I listened to the song I found myself smirking to myself (yes I agree & I am seeking help!) and the song has a really infectious feel good vibe to it, seriously if I’m the only one this song affects in this way I’m going to start to worry! A Catchy guitar riff coupled with an infectious catchy sing along chorus make it a real winner “cause baby It’s You”! “Jessie’s Gone” is a co-write with Brock’s Strangeways band mate Ian Stewart. I love the guitar work on this tune, Brocks vocals are smooth and emotive and it has a fantastic chorus.
“No More Mr Nice Guy” is a strong guitar driven rocker with Slamer laying down some of his trademark riffs. A full force rocker which Brock roars on! “The Rain” is an emotionally charged ballad, it really gripped me and show’s what a great vocalist Brock is - A real standout for me! “Broken” is a bit odd in that it’s not in character with the rest of the album. The darkest and moodiest song on the album both musically and lyrically and it’s a killer song with emotive lyrics which stick with me and a powerful, melodic in your face chorus.
“Face In The Crowd” has a huge chorus with a great guitar lick courtesy of Slamer! “Why” is a mid-tempo rocker with a bluesy vibe. It adds some great musical variation to the album, a strong and powerful song which Brock provides an equally strong and powerful vocal performance on! “Too Young” contains some awesome hook ridden guitar riffs from Slamer causing this driving rocker to imbed itself in your head. A hugely melodic and smooth song which will also help make this a rock dance floor filler!
“A Soldier Falls” is a deep, emotion driven ballad with emotive vocals from Brock. “Face The Night” is another emotive ballad. This piano led song has some killer melodies and makes it a real winner for me. I really liked the lyrics on this one too, a quiet but powerful way to close the album.
A great collection of summery Melodic Rock, with big hooks and a real feel good factor - Just like they used to make! This is bound to be a winner with genre fans as it’s an album full of in your face big riff rockers and deep emotive ballads, with strong guitar riffs and memorable melodies. It’s also an album that grants instant gratification, so melodic rockers everywhere prepare to fill your pants on first listen! Hopefully Mr Brock won’t leave it another nine years for another solo album…..and fingers crossed he’ll ignore the European boo boys and keep wearing the cowboy hat! ROCK ON!
Track Listing: Diamond Blue / It’s You / Jessie’s Gone / No More Mr Nice Guy / The Rain / Broken / Face in The Crowd / Why / Too Young / Soldier Falls / Face The Night
Album Rating: 4/5
Woody's Essential Track: Broken
First Signal - "First Signal"
|Value for Money:||4.0|
First Signal - First Signal
Review By Woody
First Signal is a project put together by Frontiers Records head honcho Serafino Perugino, to showcase Harem Scarem vocalist Harry Hess. The idea of the album is to collect a bunch of songs which showcase Hess’s vocals in a more straight ahead AOR/Melodic Rock style akin to the debut Harem Scarem album from back in the day. All The songs are from outside writers including AOR song writing geniuses Tom & James Martin (Vega), Richard Marx, Bob Marlette, James Christian (House Of Lords), Robert Sall (Work Of Art) & Erik Martensson (Eclipse). Hess did have some say on what songs he wanted to do or not, although he had no real input on the song writing. The album is produced by Frontiers favourite Dennis Ward who gives the album a really rich, clean and crisp sound.
I have to say I really enjoy this album, its nothing big or clever and it’s not going to change the world BUT it is a really enjoyable and pleasurable collection of summery feel good melodic rock. Hess’s vocals throughout are very strong and perfect for each song as he belts out some killer vocal melodies. I was unsure what to expect as I had gotten use to Hess’s vocals on a more contemporary harder edged style of rock especially on latter day Harem Scarem, which I felt suited his gruff vocal style. On this collection of songs though he just shows how versatile he is and that he can do music in this vein excellently. This is the closest you’ll ever get to early Harem Scarem but having said that I would say this album isn’t a copy of that era, just similar in style and only the odd moments of similarity mostly down to Hess’s vocals obviously. Hopefully we’ll hear more of Hess in this style, unfortunately with this been a project it’s highly unlikely any of these songs will get aired live. Not something I think will bother Hess as he openly admits playing live isn’t his favourite part of the music biz, just a necessary promotional evil!
I do think this is a very strong album all round but for me the standout tracks are the 3 songs donated by English songwriters Tom & James Martin (we are not worthy!). These are the lead track “This City” which you can see the video of here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eSaNiJjTVRk , “First Signal” which gave the band it’s name & the pure AOR goodness that is “Into the Night”. Over the years the Martin brothers have provided the melodic rock community with some amazing and well loved songs, whether it be with Khymera, Ted Poley, House Of Lords, Danny Vaughn (From the Inside) or Joe Lynn Turner (Sunstorm) amongst others. I really hope the ever so fickle melodic rock community welcome these guys with open arms when their return to AOR band VEGA arrives, which also features the excellent vocalist Nick Workman, regardless of the fact they weren’t big back in the day (unless you would have been happy watching two toddlers rocking’ away on stage that was never going to happen). I just know Vega is going to have all those labels that didn’t snap these guys up back in Sugartown (The greatest AOR band that never was) in the late 90’s really regretting it now.
Opening with “This City”, obviously with this been a martin brother’s song it has plenty of excellent subtle and upfront keyboard work, which brings out the best in Hess’s vocals and the strong guitar work. The lead track from the album, instant and catchy and a good choice to kick start the album. “When You believe” is hook filled, catchy, with great vocal harmonies provided by ex-Harem Scarem drummer Darren Smith and has a big AOR chorus. “Part Of Me” is a mid tempo tune with a slightly darker edge and a grittier guitar style which suits Hess’s vocals perfectly, worth noting this is a Richard Marx tune.
The ballad “Crazy” has lots of memorable melodies and is a good showcase for Hess’s vocal style - Some really cool intricate guitar work on this one. “Goodbye To The Good Times” is a harder rocking tune, a little bit funky with a great swagger to it - oh and it has the obligatory BIG chorus. “First Signal” is another Martin brother’s classic containing some great guitar work, insanely infectious keyboards, killer melodies and a huge sweeping chorus.
“Feels Like Love This Time” reminds me I think of Bon Jovi’s “Stick to your Guns” if it’s not that it’s definitely a Bon Jovi song. A decent song but that familiarity will drive you nuts till you figure out what song it reminds you of! “Into the Night” is an instant, catchy as hell slice of perfect soaring AOR which will have you dancing and singing along! Also has some of the best keyboard parts on the album, *sigh* they just don’t make them like this anymore - Oh hang on, they do this is another martin brothers song!!!!
“When November Falls” another Richard Marx song, again it has a slightly more contemporary vibe, which does suit Hess’s vocals. A strong memorable chorus will make this ballad popular with genre fans. “Yesterdays Rain” sounds like a W.E.T cast off, I can imagine it been sung by Jeff Scott Soto, strong melodies and memorable. “Naked Desire” another harder rocking song with a big sing along chorus. It’s a great song to finish the album.
The album was obviously designed to appeal to a certain market, so some may dismiss this as AOR by numbers. Personally I think it’s a strong collection of straight ahead melodic rock that is catchy as hell and delivers instant gratification. Melodic Rock & AOR fans should love this fun record and does it have to be modern or forward thinking to be a good album? Or does the fact I keep pressing repeat make it a good album? You decide! So if you’re looking for an easy, instant collection of melodic rock with strong vocals look no further - check out First Signal!
Track Listing: This City / When You Believe / Part of Me / Crazy / Goodbye To the Good Time / First Signal / Feels Like Love This Time / Into The Night / When November Falls / Yesterdays Rain / Naked Desire
Album Rating: 4/5
Woody's Essential Track: Into The Night
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