Avenue Of Allies 2011
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
Back in 1989 guitarist Bruce Gaitsch put together a band that was going to make it big. Kelly Keagy on drums and vocals, George Hawkins Jr. on bass and vocals and Tommy Funderburk on lead vocals, with David Cole producing, a hit album was in the making. Then it all turned sour, the record deal and the proposed major tour didn't happen... and that was it. The album was shelved, and it took ten years before anyone got to hear it - it was released in Japan in 1999. Now the album has been reissued by Avenue Of Allies, and AOR/westcoast fans have a chance to get a copy of this rare album for a reasonable price.
First a word of warning to the westcoast fans - "1989" isn't a softrock album with jazzy overtones. It's actually a surprisingly gutsy melodic rock album, with more in common with Bruce Springsteen than Toto or Player etc. The talent of the band shines through, with Gaitsch showcasing his talent as a versatile guitarist, and the vocals of Tommy Funderburk aren't any less impressive. Kelly Keagy's vocal talent is well known thanks to Night Ranger and his solo work, but also George Hawkins Jr proves to be a good vocalist. Keagy gets to sing two songs and Hawkins one, the others are taken care by Funderburk.
The rather rockin' nature of the songs was a positive surprise for me, as I was half expecting this to be more of a wimp soft rock album. The energetic opener "Working Man" is a good example of the band's sound - it's guitar-based melodic rock, smooth when needed but overall rather down-to-earth. Other standouts include "Remember When", the band's title song "King Of Hearts" and the fine ballads "Don't Call My Name" and "Lovin' Arms". Sure, some of the more edgy tracks are a bit dull when it comes to the melodies, "Everyday" and "Was It Good For You" for instance, but in the end, not a bad album.
Bruce Gaitsch Website