Harem Scarem, Thirteen, 2014

harem scarem - thirteen Over a course of 13 weeks, Harem Scarem ran a pledge music campaign in support of their new Thirteen opus. And while some people commented on the fact that in the end all pledgers got the regular Frontiers release with one bonus track, even after it was released officially, I personally found it very amusing to follow Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance on their weekly updates. Answering a lot of questions, and also explaining for instance how their signature vocal and guitar parts come to fruition. So when my package finally arrived today, I wasted no time to start listening to the album. Although I already heard it as all people involved were offered a download with both available acoustic bonus tracks a couple of weeks ago!

So how does this hold up when compared to their back catalogue? In my opinion very well, as do practically all of their albums by the way. I do not belong to the people who want them redo Mood Swings time and again, no matter how good that album is. It always pleasures me to listen to the fabulous fretwork of Pete and the voice of Harry. They are a good song writing team and deserve praise for not wanting to look back all the time. The energy pouring from this is great and the album digests really easy. Glad to see they keep carrying on with the band and hope they keep going at it for years to come!

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Classic: Harem Scarem, Voice Of Reason, 1995

harem scarem - voice of reasonWoho, I am on a roll here! Yes another classic album and yes, I can imagine a lot of people thinking I got it all wrong. Those would probably vote for the 1993 Moodswings album.

Well, let me try to explain. I am fully aware that Moodswings is a fantastic album, with a lot of classic songs, that are always played live and are very popular among the aficionados, and count me in. All right, but to me the right choice still is this record. Why?

* it shows the band in top form (not unique, they always are)
* it is another testament of the great songwriters Pete and Harry are (not unique, etc.)
* whereas Moodswings is more mainstream melodic rock, this album displays a more distinct sound
* it serves as the perfect closure for the first two albums
* it serves as a perfect indication of what was to come
* thus it is pivotal!

And that´s it really. I actually like to think the band agrees, as this album got the most songs played on the final concert at Firefest (if I am not mistaking) as was recorded on the Raw and Rare DVD.

So my Voice Of Reason lights a Candle so the Paint Thins and hopes to never be Breathing Sand…. (okay, that was a bit much)

Harem Scarem, Raw And Rare, 2008

harem scarem - raw and rareA good thing about having vacation is taking the time to watch some DVD’s laying on a shelf… This band ranks among my all time favourites. It is a real shame it is a testimony of their final concert at Firefest 2007. With a history of over 19 years and a lot of albums under their belt, their set is sure to disappoint. But only because it is too short! So there is no time for everybody’s favourites. Alas…

If anything, this shows the top class of this band and the genius that are Harry Hess and Pete Lesperance. The latter never seizes to amaze with his unbelievable guitar solos and riffs and Harry is in fine voice as always. Misters Doane on drums and Donaghy on bass and vocals are no slackers either by the way.  A lot of  fun between them and it shines.
The one thing I will never understand is why drums are panned the wrong way. I always get confused when I see a drummer hitting something to my left, and hearing it from the right. Well I guess that is just me.
While viewing and listening it is hard to believe Harem Scarem never became a household name. Maybe because some songs simply are too clever. Maybe because the guys look like your neighbour (except Pete who looks like a rock star with all his tattoos, but he also has a short haircut). It can’t be because of the songs. These vary from modernistic hard rock, to classic AOR, but always ooze class… We will probably never know.

I admire the band for always doing what they wanted to do, and for never looking back. And for corkers like Mood Swings and Voice Of Reason of course.

Among the bonus features there is footage from 1994, during the tour for their second album Mood Swings. It is fun because of all that hair that later disappeared, and because of the songs, but audio and video are bootleg quality at best. Nevertheless also a testimony to my earlier point, a brilliant act!
More interesting for me are clips of them working in the studio, recording. More is good 😉

I for one am still looking out / hoping for news about the guys, ya never know… For now, enjoy this or play any of their albums.

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