Way back in 87 on the cusp of 14 I ventured into Our Price in North Finchley. There I purchased Constrictor by Alice Cooper. It started my path to the glorious darkside. I didn’t linger too long in the world of hard rock (though I did return to it years later) soon making the leap to Maiden and Thrash. However in the few months between that evolution I bought 1987 by Whitesnake and Girls Girls Girls by the Crue. Not bad going.
This supergroup comprising of tubthumper Vinny Appice (no intro needed) axeman Craig Goldy (ex Dio) four string philanderer Sean McNabb (ex Dokken and Great White) and the pipes of Chas West( Bonham, Foreigner) bring those Walkman days flooding back. This is classic Hard Rock. The kind of music that drinks pints of bitter and smokes Marlboro reds and had a tattoo (a small one mind) before it was cool. Is it worth adding it to your burgeoning collection of denim clad greats? Well it depends……
“Distant Prayer” kicks things off and the stall is set out. Pure 80’s rawk baby. Soaring vocals and a big drum sound. West does not sound like RJD but his vocal phrasing is reminiscent of the little man with the big voice. There are cliché’s a plenty but the assorted musicians featured here are amongst those that drew up the blueprints so they can do what the hell they like.
“Livin’ Out Loud” is dirty blues rock a la Coverdale and there is plenty of swagger here. A very strong opening and hopes are high.
This album was the brainchild of Serafino Perugino – the president of Frontiers Records. A labour of love bringing together some great talent of yesteryear or a cynical ploy to bring in the bucks now due to the void left by RJD? I suspected the former but the games afoot!
The collection sounds a little disjointed and rushed. “Wash Away” is a bit too 80’s video for me – a power ballad with no real hook. “Who DO You Run To” is hard rock 101 using a rhyming dictionary and a riff lifted straight off Dream Evil. I mean any song that contains the repeated refrains “Somebody wake me up I’m dreaming. Where did you sleep last night? My soul is heavy like a stone. Where are you now?” Really? C’mon guys Christmas is over. My arteries can’t take that level of cheese anymore.
“Fallin’ For You” is a hard rock love song that reminds me of later 80’s pub bands like Bad Influence and Ruthless Blues. This is starting to feel a little like the Emperor’s new denim cutoff. There is no twist. No modern hook to hang it on. Why do I need this when I can listen to the originals? We all love Sherlock Holmes but at least Auntie Beeb had the decency to modernise it and spice it up before feeding it back to us. “Never Say Goodbye” “Path of Love” “Had Enough” ( I almost have!) “Don’t Have to Fight No More” This is like a Middlesboro break up cassette that your uncle Kevin dropped down the back of the sofa when he was out of his head on Hoffmeister when Sharon snogged that skinhead in the chippie queue.
My advice would be to purchase the first two tracks as MP3’s off a reputable online peddler of choons , turn ‘em up bastard loud and go dig out your Trick or Treat VHS and have a good reminisce. In fact there is quite a hint of Fastway in some of the tracks on here as well. I am being prompted to dig around in my past as well. That is not necessarily a good thing.
That is not to say that this album is bad. It quite blatantly isn’t. what it is, is superfluous.
Whilst the hard rock classics of yesteryear still exist on vinyl, CD or cassette tape why is there need to make such a cut and paste of the past?
The playing is exemplary the lyrics are rudimentary. Mr Watson it’s Elementary- it’s the president wot dunnit.
(4/10 Matt Mason)