Tony Mills - 'Beyond The Law'

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Tony Mills - 'Beyond The Law'

A swansong of a career spanning four decades, and as a result it's both uplifting and incredibly sad.

I thoroughly enjoyed Tony Mills' 2017 release 'Streets Of Chance' so was very happy to get the chance to wrap my ears around this latest offering, especially because it's most likely his last ever album. Mills has been a pretty constant part of my (and many others) musical life since I first picked up Shy's 'Brave The Storm' back in The Stone Age and having him come back to pure AOR has felt like a man coming full circle in terms of style.

'Beyond The Law' is loosely hinged around prohibition-era America as highlighted by titles like 'Running Guns', 'Black Sedan', 'Code Of Silence' and closing cut 'Gunfire'. At times, you can almost picture the Tommy Guns and police raids all wrapped up in these unashamedly melodic tunes. However, as was the case for 'Streets Of Shame', there's a definite handful of grit in the mix with guitars that chug rather than flow and vocals that hold attitude rather than flowers. There are also a few surprises such as 'Running Guns' which is a laid-back, almost romantic song that manages to contain elements of all your favourite parts of Mills' history. It's a contender for best track honours with the ridiculously catchy 'F.B.I.' nipping at its heels.

Once again, Mills has surrounded himself with first-class talent such as Tommy Denander, Pete Newdeck and Shy's Pat McKenna (amongst others), with Newdeck once again applying his mixing mastery to great effect. What they've come up with is a release that has no weak points and one that's aimed squarely at fans who still pull out their old Shy or TNT records with an anticipatory grin. There are no big, ambitious tracks, just ten top-of-the-range AOR tunes that have enough variety to keep the listener entertained throughout – they are all one-hundred percent Mills. There's just the one ballad entitled 'Bonnie's Farewell' and it's a quite beautiful sax-laden piece that reminds me of Journey in the early eighties – Steve Perry would have loved to sing it.

It's highly likely that 'Beyond The Law' will be the swansong of a career spanning four decades, and as a result it's both uplifting and incredibly sad. Tony Mills may not be everyone's cup of tea (who is?), but there's no denying that he's a singular vocal talent who also writes (or co-writes) some fantastic songs. If you've ever been a fan, give this a spin and relive the glory years one more time.

Alan Holloway

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