Label: Steelheart Memories
Review by Kimmo Toivonen
I remember late eighties, when vinyl copies of this album used to grace bargain bins. Of course I bought myself a copy for a few coins, because the band looked the part and I had seen some coverage in Kerrang! magazine. Back then my musical taste was probably a bit more "stricktly hard rock" than these days, and this album was just way too pop. I did like the opening track "Some Girls" a lot, but the rest of the album was too close to Bogart Co, a Finnish pop band doing great business at the time and obviously the arch enemy of all true hard rockers.
Now that I heard of this re-issue with whopping 7 bonus tracks, I thought I'd give it another try. Maybe what I thought were horrendous pop influences would turn out to be AOR vibes in disguise?
Yes and no. The album is definitely better than I remembered, I like several tracks on it, but a few of the songs are still too "Bogart Co" or "a heavy rock version of Wham", as Dave Reynolds wrote in his original review for Metal Forces.
The bright and bouncy opener "Some Girls" is still my favourite track. It sounds like it could've been taken from Fate's classic "A Matter Of Attitude" album. "Here Comes The Night" is a darker, moody track that makes me think of Scorpions going to an overtly AOR direction. "Give Me Love Again" then... yeah, it's a Wham! or Rick Astley track with some guitars. Definitely skippable.
The balladic "It's You" is an okay track, but even better is "Lonely People", which reminds me of cult AORsters Zinatra and Fate again. "American Girls" follows similar path, and while it's not as good, it gets a thumbs up from me. Then the quality starts to drop...
"Princess" comes across like a left-over Autograph track, rejected for a reason - it desperately needs a decent chorus. "Surrender" and "Open Up Your Heart" are slightly better, but not particularly exciting. "Rock This City" is one of the harder-edged tracks, but again the chorus is a let down - it doesn't make me believe for a second that these guys would "Rock This City" or even a small village!
The two bonus tracks with Carl Sentence on vocals are really good, especially "Message To The Heart". The production leaves a lot to be desired, but they are still worthwhile additions and stylewise similar to the album.
The production of 5 songs from the "Wales Sessions (1989)" is mostly better, but it just as well might be a different band. Shane Smith from USA was the vocalist on these songs, and he's good, somewhere between Kelly Keeling (Baton Rouge) and Richard Black (Shark Island), but the songs are frankly quite dull. The pop influences of the earlier material are gone, instead you'll get slightly bluesy "cowboy-boots-and-stetsons" rock á la Tattoo Rodeo or Tangier. Just not as good. The best on of these is the ballad "Stay With Me", which might have given the band a minor hit, had it been released at the time on a major label. With a moody video filmed on a desert and in a smoky bar. You know those videos.