Monday, February 20, 2012


Rating: 8/10

Label: Frontiers 2012

Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

Going through the label info-sheet about Michael Thompson it reads and I quote, "nowadays one of the leading guitar players of the world". Huh, what, yeah, in a parallel world. He's mostly known for his studio work as a session musician for the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, N' Sync, Toni Braxton, Phil Collins, Rod Stewart, Scorpions, Vince Neil, Christina Aguilera, Michael Bolton, Mariah Carey, Bette Midler, Madonna, Babyface, En Vogue, Gloria Estefan, Stanley Clarke, Ricky Martin, our good friend, Jeff Paris (name-drop of the century), and tons of other melodic artists.

But honestly, being a well respected name among studio geezers of the past just isn't the same as if you could't walk the streets without constantly bumping into kids wearing t-shirts that reads: 'Michael Thompson is one of the leading guitar players of the world'. I haven't seen one yet though. Okay, that's enough of harsh talk and vicious banter. Let's all agree that MT is an excellent guitarist and leave the rest up for debate.

The man can do no wrong in the studio though as the guitar playing is flawless and perfectly executed. At times a bit too perfect, borderline sterile, but nevermind as it's clearly just a case of pettifog. It's been 24 years since the excellent "How Long" album and this time MT teamed up with singer, not ancient TV reporter, Larry King (Soleil Moon) and he brought along a new and more rocking approach to the table. In other words, you could blame him for messing up a nice formula and for trying to change MTB into something different? Nah, let's not try and put the blame on King. MTB's songwriting and melodies on "Future Past" are hardly anything else than melodic hard rock only with a slightly more 'classic' vibe.

King sings like a raspy, not as impressive, definitely more husky/gruff version of Mark/Marcie Free (King Kobra, Signal, Unruly Child) meet John Parr. He's a far cry from the ultra-smooth vocals on the debut. By the way, Larry is known in Chicago and nationwide for his work on commercial jingles with a diverse range of clients including 'Ferrara-Pan' candy, R.C. Cola, Coca-Cola, Gatorade, Enterprise Rental Cars, Long John Silver, Pizza Hut, to name a few. He managed to feature in 52 commercials before the age of 13. Back on track, the melodies on 'Future Past' are steeped in the tradition of eighties melodic hardrock and the quality shines like a burning star on every single track. Check out opener, "High Times", expect the same fine standard throughout the album. Indeed, it's perhaps not the catchiest album on first listen, but it grows on you for every single spin (up to a certain point of course). This is the American dream of cruising down the highway with the top down and the wind blowing in your hair. Recommended if you enjoyed MTB and the likes of John Parr, 21 Guns (their debut).

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