The wonderful Doris Brendel album I posted about earlier, reminded me to pick up this album. Quite logical really, as she is the singer for this band. As well as plays flute (flageolet) and guitar. By the way that flute gives the music a folkish vibe at time. Like it does for Jethro Tull for instance. And like with Tull sometimes, it is quite an undertaking to label this album. That is why I choose the symphonic rock tag.
First song Dream Of Me is a beautiful gentle piece with flute and violin (keyboard probably as no player is mentioned). and of course the soaring vocals of Doris hit home also. Very tasty melodies, both instrumentally as vocally. Piano is another instrument often heard. The Spell starts with it and the song slowly builds. The use of brass here is also a nice feature. Again a track with great use of dynamics. By A River gives us some more rocking guitar, whilst still being a calm piece. Could Have Been is another showcase of the instrumentation put to effective use. I must mention the fabulous bass playing as well. In all the tracks by the way. And again the melodies strike the right chord.
Next is Offertory Song, which follows the same route as before. Yet develops in more rocking moments again. Though the constant switching of light and dark continues. Falling has more tempo to it, and impresses with it´s clever arrangement again. The finale is appealing and reminded me of Kansas. More upbeat tracks are Ill Wind Blowing and Better Be Good, but also other tracks have some quicker moments.
So an inspiring album with stunning melodies and rich in colours. Hunt it down!
The track that starts this album really did get the ball rolling for the band. Of course I am talking about Forever Young. Maybe not the hit it deserved to be, but still very popular among the rock aficionados around here. And thus found itself on my band´s live set for years. And you know what, there are several songs of that calibre on offer. I mean, the choruses for Wings, or Burning Down Inside are to die for as well. The latter also enjoying another phenomenal solo by guitar player Brooke St. James.
Another big feature are of course the mighty vocals of Danny Vaughn. His pipes have enriched many a record to date. The band rhythmic backbone is provided by Michael Clayton on drums and Jimi Kennedy on bass. And all of the boys sing backings.
The wealth of material here is testament of the classic nature of this record. Every song a winner, with mighty melodies, power and variety. The ballad Standing Alone is present on more of their albums, so popular it became among the fans. All in an effort to find the winning version that would propel them into stardom.
Alas none of that did ever happen. Yet it was never about the songs, the live performances, or the professionalism. Mere a factor of wrong time. Still, the album sounds as fresh as when I first heard it, so it belongs to every rock fan’s collection!
Before singer Steve Augeri turned up in Journey to take over from the mighty Steve Perry (and believe me, those shoes are hard to fill, but he did it!), he delivered this album to the world. And if you like him in Journey, this is definitely an album to pick up. His vocal qualities already shined in 1991.
Also the musical style of Tall Stories is akin to that of the successful Journey of the eighties. Some songs groove like opener Wild On The Run or Somewhere She Waits. Some rock, like Chains Of Love or Sister Of Mercy. And some just convey emotion, like Crawling Back or Stay With Me. It is somewhat eerie to discover the similarities in style between Perry and Augeri, without suggesting the second is a mere copycat.
So it is highly melodic rock with addictive melodies, big hooks and enough staying power to impress in the long run. Actually this is a no brainer, all melodic rock fans ought to own this album!
After his mysterious departure from the Journey ranks, Steve Augeri and Tall Stories have been reunited and released a second album in 2009 called Skyscraper. Still waiting to pick that up, but I will!
Undeniably inspired by my previous post about Dutch bands going Dutch with their lyrics, I choose a Dutch band for this week’s Classic series. I picked The Pilgrims because I just happen to like this album very much. The opening song White Men was a hit (at least over here) and the band is defined by the raw yet soulful vocals of singer Reniet Vrieze. Most famous member is probably drummer Leon Klaasse, who already enjoyed considerable success with Powerplay.
The album is positioned on the lighter spectrum of the rock scale. It is a very inspired album with, besides the already mentioned White Men, great songs like Any Trick, Dance In The Dark or Randy Newman’s Naked Man. Songs like Flamingo or Hang On are carried by the emotional vocal delivery of Vrieze. On Patoe Lele and Pela Klaasse can show his drum skills, with a lot of percussion, guitar and horns added on the latter. The track I Want You has a refined funky groove to it (a little like Lois Lane), and it is not hard to imagine yourself in a nightclub listening to it. Till the guitar solo kicks in, taking the song to a whole other level, without destroying that groove by the way.
The band released several albums after this one, but I am not sure they still exist. Worth picking up, if you can find it.
Mr. Big already stirred up the music world with their debut. But nobody could have expected this massive blow to the head. Of course everyone is familiar with the massive hit To Be With You. A ballad like song that keeps getting radio airplay but is actually saying very little about the band itself… Not unlike what Dust In The Wind meant to Kansas.
Album opener Daddy Brother Lover Little Boy is a prime example of the talent that is Mr. Big. From the steady foundation of drummer Pat Torpey, the vocals of pretty boy Eric Martin, to the wizardry of bass player Billy Sheehan and guitar player Paul Gilbert (as they demonstrate working their way through a tapping solo using a battery powered drill!). This band had a lot to say and were able to bring it to the fore.
Hard rocking songs in various types (Alive & Kickin’, Lucky this Time, Never Say Never, Voodoo Kiss), to almost AOR typed themes (Just Take My Heart, Road To Ruin), they did it all. However to me the absolute album highlight is Green-tinted Sixties Mind. The playing here is again of such high calibre, yet within the format of a fantastic melodic rock song, unbelievable.
Other incarnations were a joy to hear also. But as the band have reformed recently in this very formation and have a new record in the can, times are good…