Gun - 'Taking On The World - 25th Anniversary Edition'

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Gun - 'Taking On The World - 25th Anniversary Edition'

A worthwhile investment.

'Taking On The World' is an album I've known and lived with for all of the twenty-five years since its release in 1989. It's an album that I genuinely do still listen to, even before this re-issue hit the streets. Like most bands that suddenly appear with their debut album, Gun had been around in various guises and line-ups for a couple of years. Based around the core of Mark Rankin (vocals) and brothers Guiliano (Jools) and Dante Gizzi on guitar and bass, the band also included Stephen "Baby" Stafford (guitar) and Scott Shields (drums).

The first disc of this set is a simple re-issue of the album. I'm not going to run through each track, but there are many highlights that remain favourites in the live set even today. Opener and single 'Better Days' is a delight of Melodic Pop Rock at its best; fluid, memorable yet never losing the Rock roots. 'Shame On You' has a U2-influenced intro, building with the addition of each instrument into a powerful Rocker. 'Inside Out' is as infectious, commercial tune as you will find. Yet throughout all the Pop, Funk and Melodic influences, Gun never lose the fact that first and foremost they Rock. The fact that the album was strong enough to get them tour slots with the likes of The Rolling Stones, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi speaks for itself regarding the quality on offer.

The second disc contains the B-sides and rarities of the collection and as such is arguably either the least or most interesting, depending in your point of view. 'Prime Time' has a simple up-beat bouncy hook to it but in truth doesn't really go anywhere here and does feel a touch repetitive; you can understand why it may not have made the main album. 'Dance' at least shows that the band weren't afraid to go for something a bit different, a heavy drumbeat and guitar thrown over a basic Pop/Dance tune. Pick of the bunch though is 'When You Love Somebody'; a genuine Gun classic that would sit comfortably on the album with its infectious, rolling beat and chorus full of the trademark harmonies.



'Coming Home' and 'Back Where We Started are another couple of standard Rockers before 'Where Do We Go', an acoustic driven tune with some nice Bluesy harmonica. There are extended, re-mix versions of '...Days', 'Shame' and 'Money' which are interesting in an abstract sort of way but do nothing to improve or benefit the song. 'Money' is probably the pick of the three, morphing into an Aerosmith style vocal with a hint of Steve Perry's loose guitar licks. Along with '...Somebody', the other stand-out track is a rousing version of Thin Lizzy's 'Don't Believe A Word'. Often played live, Gun power through the song with Rankin's rasping vocal giving it a tough edge.

As you would expect with B-sides, a bit of a mixed bag, but never less than interesting and away from those songs that are so associated with the band, both Nazareth and Simple Minds both come to mind in places, perhaps giving a clue as to some of Gun's own influences.

The third and final disc is a collection of Gun's BBC Radio sessions with four tracks from each of three sets recorded for Tommy Vance's Friday Rock Show, The Nicky Campbell Show and Mark Goodier's sessions. The Friday Rock selection was immaculately recorded and produced meaning versions of '...Days' and 'Shame...' are pretty much note for note covers of the album tracks. '...Home' though benefits hugely against the B-side version with a harder edge and a bit more pace to it before ending this group with a powerful version of 'Taking On The World'. The Nicky Campbell set is again recorded live in the studio but to different effect. Jool's guitar and the drum beat are, if anything, just a little too high in the mix but to good effect. It gives the versions of 'Shame...', 'I Will Be Waiting' and 'Something To Believe In' a harder, raw edge that highlights the energy the band generate in a live environment. Conversely '...World' is stripped back, played on lone acoustic guitar giving Rankin the chance to show what a great singer he is with a superb soulful performance, in contrast to the Rockers that he's equally at home belting out. The final session is again recorded live in the BBC studios with strong versions of 'Something...', 'Can't Get Any Lower' and '...Home' before ending with another acoustic take on '...World'.

It's a tough ask to turn one album into a three disc set, there's inevitably some degree of repetition, in this case four versions of both '...Days' and '...World'. But throughout all three offerings, you can't deny the quality of the music. The review copy I received was by download so I can't comment on the packaging and information in the full-set, but at any mid-price level it's going to be a worthwhile investment.

Ian Parry

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