Wow, just realised it has been a long time since I last pulled an album out of the closet to present here as a classic. And what better album than this, the second Prophet album Cycle Of The Moon? Presented by another great Hugh Syme cover, I found it remarkable how many of the songs I still know by heart. Talking of staying power…
With the core of singer Russel Arcara, bass player Scott Metaxas, and Ken Dubman on guitars, joined by Michael Sterlacci on drums and Joe Zujkoswki on keys, the band delivered a combination of melodic rock and progressive rock that I still find irresistible. From the progressive side of things we get the arrangements, breaks, solos and unexpected twists, and the melodic side brings us massive choruses and melodies that nest themselves in your head and just refuse to leave.
Just the opening trio of the title track, Can´t Hide Love and On The Run, are worth the money for this disk (which got a much deserved remastered rerun in 2011 from Z Records). But also the (semi-)ballads Sound Of A Breaking Heart or Tomorrow Never Comes should have been huge and propelled these guys into stardom. And the list goes on as there is not a weak track among the 10 on offer (the remastered version has one extra).
I think that after this only a rarities album was released. Arcara went on to release some solo work (also enjoyable), but the rest seems missing in action. Or at least I lost sight. If you are into quality rock and don´t mind a turn left or right, this is one for you!
When someone like Gene Simmons gets involved in a band, you can be sure of a number of things: it rocks, it has quality, and he is pretty sure he makes some extra bucks 😉
Well, I am not sure about the money, but the first album by the mighty House Of Lords sure qualifies in the other aspects. Fronted by the powerhouse vocalist James Christian, and with a band that is a kind of who´s who (a lot of attorneys involved gives that away), keyboard wizard Greg Giuffria, Ken Mary on drums, Chuck Wright on bass and Lanny Cordola on guitars. The band not only wrote songs themselves, but also secured tracks and or help from Stan Bush, David Glen Eisley, and Rick Nielsen to name a few.
Style wise this is hard rock with many pomp features. Not a big surprise with Giuffria present. All this melted into an album that hits home hard. Be it with ballad like stuff, rockers, or mid tempo pieces, this is music with grandeur and impact. Pleasure Palace builds up slowly, I Wanna Be Loved rocks, Edge Of Your Life starts as a ballad, before turning into a monster chorus and powers up quite big. Looking For Strange, with it´s quirky boogie piano intro, is another up tempo rocker and Love Don´t Lie is the power ballad we all know (either from this, or from another rendition). More rockers follow and also my personal favourite Under Blue Skies, to give us another timeless album every home should own. Great stuff and like I mentioned in my post of Cartesian Dreams, this is music I never get tired of.
Getting your first album produced by ace Ted Templeman (Van Halen) might be an indication that your record company has a lot of confidence in your capabilities. And if you manage to deliver the goods, it becomes clear why.
So yes, the self titled first album from the Bulletboys is a great slab of party rock. Singer Marq Torien turns out a cross between the energy of one David Lee Roth and the soul of Terence Trent D’Arby. And the band made sure they got their message across. No ballad stuff, just 10 driving rockers that will light every party on fire.
Album opener Hard As A Rock is testimony for this claim, but also tracks like Smooth Up In Ya or Shoot The Preacher Down leave little to be desired. The latter proving that blues infused rock can be worth your while! And covering a Utopia song (Money) like it is one of your own does not hurt either.
With 10 songs taking less than 35 minutes, you are left with the desire to press play again. And again. Just don´t look at the titles on the back, the CD has them in a different order.
So great stuff when you need an energy boost or to raise hell. Cool! And oh yeah, they are active again…
Dare was founded by Darren Wharton, the former keyboard player for Thin Lizzy. Dare made quite an impact at the time with the first few Dare disks. This is mainly due to the highly accessible quality songs from the now singer, some of which he wrote witch guitar player Vinny Burns (Ten). And while on later albums the sound mellowed, this is an album filled to the brim with melodic rock. Or maybe Rock, with a capital.
First track Abandon is actually telling a lot about what is on offer here. Darren proves a more than decent singer with a warm voice and a little edge. The melody is instant, and the production is crisp and powerful throughout. Follow up Into The Fire is of the same high calibre. Third track Nothing Is Stringer Than Love, slows things down a bit, but still hold the listeners attention with ease. Next is Runaway, again with a chorus you´ll be humming for days.
Under The Sun, opens with a Burns solo, the way we all know he can. And while you´d expect the track to burst out into an up-tempo beat, that moment is delayed until you can´t take it no more. Only to prove it´s a mid tempo track with again a blistering Burns solo. The Raindance offers some folk melodies on keyboards, a thing Dare would be doing a lot more later.
And so I could go on. This is a stunning disk, that to this day sounds fresh. If you don´t already have it, track it down and spoil yourself a bit. You know you deserve it 😉 And Dare too…
Robert Palmer is, sorry was, a very interesting guy. Over the years he enjoyed considerable success in the pop territory, while his albums often contained some surprisingly hard rocking tracks. And that while maintaining the image of the 100% gentleman. Often surrounded by gorgeous women in his video´s…
To choose one album out of his discography is always open for dispute. I choose Heavy Nova because it holds some of his best tracks that also prove my point. Album opener Simply Irresistible being a great example: a damn catchy chorus, an infectious groove and all accompanied by heavy guitars and a blistering solo. Next track More Than Ever is again groovy with a lot of keyboards and effects. And again heavy guitar riffing without it sounding like a hard rock track.
Change His Ways has a totally different sound. Suddenly we are in the jungle of South Afrika listening to some local bar crooner. But what tongue in cheek lyric! The jodeling really gives you a new perspective of the man´s talent ;-). Then we are off to a country bar somewhere in America, were we witness some Disturbing Behavior.
This constant switching of styles is common for Palmer. You get soul, funk, rock, pop, crooner, country, african and so on. And he gets away with it because he is so good at it. Prime example being album highlight She Makes My Day. A stunning song that deserves to be a top ten track in any Top 1000 competition if you ask me. Just listen to the bass lines here. And again a lyric that gets ya. Let alone the chorus that will make you hum it for days in a row without you getting tired of it.
I dare you to listen to this and not be impressed! He is severely missed….