United Nations - '2014'

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United Nations - '2014'

Several tracks from their sole 1986 album, a few intended for the never-released follow-up, and one new song to test the water.

For the fifth release in the series of 'Lost U.K. Jewels', AOR gurus Rob Evans and Primo Bonali have deviated slightly from their own template, because whilst Stoke's United Nations are indeed a lost U.K. Jewel, in this case they've completely re-recorded songs from their mid-1980s catalogue. With key members not interested in taking part, drummer Chris Mooney, bassist Peter Hankey and keyboardist Chris Stonier have recruited guitarist Neil Fred Thomas and respected singer Lee Small to do justice to their legacy, re-doing several tracks from their sole 1986 album, a few intended for the never-released follow-up, and one new song to test the water.

Another band with a Pomp edge, UN offer up a bit more variety than most of their 1980s peers, from the multiple tempos and time changes of the epic opener 'The Night That Lasts Forever' and the subtle Toto-like nuances of 'Looks That Kill', to the brand new heartfelt ballad 'I'll Be Your Man' and straight-ahead Rocker 'Black Heart'. Some would probably say that a band like United Nations sound too dated in 2014, but to tell the truth these guys were already behind the wave when it hit back in the 1986 and so transcend the need to be anything other than true to themselves. Also, there have been times when Small hasn't been a good fit for some of the projects he's collaborated in, but here his Glenn Hughes-isms ride over the soulful 'First Move' and the grandiose 'Violation Of A Nation' like it was just meant to be. For further proof, check out the truly memorable 'Shock To The System' to hear what a great singer can do for a song.

Paul Hulme's production is quite warm sounding and a good attempt at recreating a past style with modern technology. There's none of the prevalent wall to wall overdubs and too-loud mastering, and the songs have room to breathe because of it. I think the old-school subtlety of this album will limit its appeal, but if Hughes sang on an early 1980s Pomp/AOR record and was banned from screaming, it would probably sound something like this.

Phil Ashcroft

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