Wednesday, May 11, 2016

DRIVE, SHE SAID: Pedal To The Metal

Rating: RRR
Label: Frontiers
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

The long-awaited comeback album is very much a hit-or-miss affair. There are some definite hits on the album, but a few of the songs miss the mark.

The opening track "Touch" could be described as a tribute to the band Touch, keyboard player Mark Mangold's semi-legendary early eighties' group. With a guitar riff that is delibrately very much in the vein of Touch classic "Don't You Know What Love Is", the song brings back memories of the first D,SS album too, as that song was covered on that album. I don't know about you, but this tribute works for me, and a bit of "Whoa whoa" never hurts.

"Pedal To The Metal" is a straight-forward hard rocking song that reminds me of Deep Purple or Uriah Heep, while the strangely titled "In R Blood" is pure AOR with awesome stabbing keys and again some "whoa whoa's". This one's easily one of my favourites. "Said It All" is a classy balladic track, followed by a 70'ies pomp rock styled "Writings On The Wall", another good song. Mangold's crazy keyboard soloing is something else!

"Rainbows And Hurricanes" sees Al Fritsch singing on the edge of his range and the band using one of my pet peeves, the "radiohead rhythm chorus". I don’t understand anyone’s fascination with it, it’s like driving with the handbrake on… ”Love Will Win In The End” is more suitable to these ears, a fine traditional AOR song. I haven’t really gotten into ”Rain Of Fire” but it’s not too bad. Same goes for the Al Frisch - Fiona duet ”In Your Arms” too. Nice and melodic if a little sugary.

What the hell is ”I’m The Nyte” doing on this album though? Techno beats, distorted vocals, effects… Mark Mangold could have kept this track for his dance music productions, it’s totally out of place here. ”Lost In You” is a more appealing attempt to bring in dance elements to AOR, and it’s again a tribute to ”Don’t You Know What Love Is”, borrowing lyrics from it. The chorus is quite good actually, but it would have been better without all the bells’n whistles from the techno world.

”All I Wanna Do” goes into a completely different direction productionwise, as it’s a stripped down acoustic ballad รก la ”More Than Words” or ”To Be With You”. It’s a nice, mellow closing to the album, even though I can’t help but think that it might have worked as a faster, hard-edged rock track too.

When D,SS get it right, they’re as good as back in their glory days, but that only happens a few times on this album. Still, at the moment I do find this album better than the previous comeback album ”Real Life” - I’ve reviewed it back in 2003 but I can’t remember anything about it!

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