Phil Vincent – Circular Logic

Phil Vincent – Circular Logic

Tracks:

CD 1

  1. Rise Up
  2. Time Out-Time In
  3. Tupelo Drive
  4. Outside Looking In
  5. Long Hard Look
  6. Hit & Run
  7. If….
  8. Too Far Gone
  9. Second Chance
  10. If You Ever Want Me

CD 2

  1. Take It Away
  2. Torn
  3. Shining Through
  4. In The Balance
  5. Doin’ My Best
  6. Heart Of Stone
  7. Undertow
  8. Almost Home
  9. Another Hit & Run
  10. 3:45 am

Album Cover:


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Label: Song Haus Music
Producer: Phil Vincent
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time:  CD 1 – 63:39 m:s
CD 2  – 56:33 m:s

Review date:22/11/2001

Web site: www.philvincent.com, www.songhausmusic.com, www.aorheaven.com   
 

Email: 

Rating: 85 %
Verdict: Phil’s most complete album to date, but could have benefited from some judicious editing
Just as I finish reviewing his previous two releases, Phil, who must surely be one of the most prolific men in AOR these days, releases another new album and a double one at that. If you checked out those previous reviews, you’ll see that I think Phil is getting better with each release, so I’m interested to see how he has progressed with the new album and does quantity necessarily mean quality.

CD1

The CD starts off with an uptempo tracked called “Rise Up” which is a little more of a rock out than you might expect from Phil. “Time Out – Time In” is prime time 80s keyboard driven AOR in the vein of Balance and their contemporaries. “Tupelo Drive” starts off with lots of blips, tweets etc in a very ‘spacey’/ELO vibe before mutating into a catchy tune that makes me think of a keyboard driven Bon Jovi. “Outside Looking In” is a slow plodding track where the piano lacks the necessary emotion. “Long Hard Look” takes us back into more familiar ‘parping’ keyboards at the start and develops into acceptable slice of melodic hard AOR.

The slow start to “Hit & Run” makes you think you’re in for another epic ballad, but it turns out to be a slow tune with an AOR chorus that reminds me of rockers Axe. “If…” has an intro that seems to have little to do with the track itself. “Too Far Gone” is another mid to uptempo AOR tune with an increased catchiness factor and another ‘detached’ instrumental section. Phil has more work to do to get the ballads quite right as proved by the mundane “Second Chance”. This CD ends with more typical 80s uptempo AOR on “If You Ever Want Me” which is the area where Phil excels.

CD2

The second CD starts as the first with an uptempo rocker, “Take It Away”, but this time it isn’t quite so impressive. “Torn” is a slow to mid pace tune that has a good chorus and features plenty of good guitar work. The next batch of tunes are OK, but with nothing much to distinguish between them, other than to say that “In The Balance” again reminds me of Balance (what a surprise!) and that the chorus on “Doin’ My Best” is rather catchy. “Another Hit & Run” is an instrumental with a gentile intro and outro. The final track is an epic lasting 10 minutes. The spacey feel at the start means that this epic/prog AOR tune floats onto your speakers. Maybe I’m thinking too much of prog metal merchants Dream Theater who write tracks of similar length, but I would have liked a few more tempo or mood changes to justify the track’s length.

On this album Phil credits a drummer, bass player and a few song writers for co-writing credits. This greater collaboration with other musicians has obviously paid dividends as overall this represents his most complete work to date. Despite this I’m giving it the same score as his previous album. The reason is that I feel there is a lack of conciseness on the album. Some of the intros and outros don’t add significantly to the songs. Also,a little more callousness in the editing process could have resulted in a single album with more impact.

Mungrel Junction – It is what it is, ’til it ain’t – demo cd

Mungrel Junction – It is what it is, ’til it ain’t – demo cd

Tracks:

  1. Sorrow
  2. Money Money II
  3. Running From Reality
  4. I Agree, I Disagree

Album Cover:


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Label: n/a
Producer: n/a
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time: 23:53 m:s

Review date: 20/11/2001

Web site:   www.peoplesound.com/artist/mungreljunction 
 

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Rating: 70 %
Verdict: Unusually, it is the more contemporary opening track that grabbed my imagination 
Mungrel Junction are in effect a single person – Richard Frost – who writes, performs and records everything. This demo consists of songs 1&3 written in 2001 and 2&4 in 1999. The music genre is melodic hard rock.

Sorrow has a slow menacing start and builds gradually. This is a slow rocker that reminds me of Voice Of Reason era Harem Scarem. It has got the gloomy lyrics and the music isn’t a million miles away either. It took about 3 years for me to ‘get’ the HS album, but it has laid the framework and I reckon that this is the best track on the demo. A slow brooding rocker with a sense of melody that comes across as a mixture of VOR era HS meets Sabbath.

“Money Money II” is a good time uptempo rocker which is catchy enough but is more standard hard rock fare. “Running From Reality” continues in the same fashion. On “I Agree, I Disagree” the catchiness factor is increased and this is a good stadium rocking anthem.

The whole affair is a little rough about the edges and the programmed drums intrude slightly on “Money Money II”. Still the demo serves it purpose and brings the capabilities of the band to our attention. The 3 more traditional tracks are OK in my book, but not what would make me want to go out and buy an album by Mungrel junction. However, in a break with tradition, it is the more forward looking opening track that grabbed my imagination and it is tracks like this I’d like to see the band develop further.

Robin Brock – Hidden Power

Robin Brock – Hidden Power

Tracks:

  1. I’m Doin’ Fine (without you)
  2. These Walls
  3. (I wish you could) Read My Mind
  4. Don’t
  5. The Game
  6. You Let Me
  7. I Surrender
  8. In This Skin
  9. After The Storm
  10. Naked
  11. Goddess OF Rock ‘n’ Roll
  12. That Scares Me

Album Cover:


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Label: A2 Records
Producer: Keith Olsen
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time: 47:57 m:s

Review date: 05/11/2001

Web site:  www.a2records.com , www.robinbrock.com  
 

Email: 

Rating: 79%
Verdict: Fine vocals singing ‘average’ songs
Check out the credits and you’ll see that some big guns have been pulled into to craft this album – Keith Olsen on production and top notch session players such as Tim Pierce and Jeff Pilson. For this second album A2 are clearly keen to build upon the potential identified on her debut.

If you’re unfamiliar with the debut, you’ll want to know what Robin sounds like. Heart & Pat Benetar are still the two names that spring to mind. Given the success of female artists, such as Shania Twain & Faith Hill, in the country field, I might have expected a move in that direction, but Robin, as the title of the one of the songs says, Robin still sees herself as the “Goddess Of Rock and Roll”.

Robin displays a feisty nature on the uptempo opener as she declares “I’m Doin’ Fine (Without You)”. On slower tracks like “These Walls” I get the feeling that the pace isn’t quite right – unnaturally slow. When the chorus kicks in or the guitarist does his bit, I’m happy, but the rest of the song just seems to be treading water. “(I Wish I Could) Read Your Mind” reiterates the point. On “Don’t” Robin’s voice displays plenty of emotion on this jangly affair.

Robin’s rocks out on “The Game”, which displays a street-wise funk vibe during the verses. On the slower tracks Robin sounds a lot like Anne Wilson and this is true on “You Let Me”. Unlike elsewhere, the pace seems the suit the song and the results are much more acceptable. The guitars are much more to the fore on “I Surrender”. This fine slice of rock has a suitably cool chorus and the guitars seem to crank up at just the right moments.

The good work is continued on “In This Skin”. Remember what I said right at the start about country, well the next track, “After The Storm”, proves that Robin has been paying attention too. However, I’m reminded most of Jamie Kyle, who always manages to keep on the rock side of the rock/country boundary. Despite the provocative title, “Naked” is all about not wanting to expose her soul rather than her body. On the next track Robin arrogantly declares herself to be the “Goddess Of Rock and Roll”. I’d be more inclined to believe her if it were a decent song. After that faux pas, Robin exits on a high note with the catchy “That Scares Me”.

Robin puts in a fine vocal performance and is backed up by some excellent playing and production. Yet, it takes more than that to make a really compelling album. With this impressive foundation, I want some killer songs to knock me out and give me a killer album. What we get here is a set of OK songs that occasionally tease you, but never quite satisfy you. Can the performances compensate for the shortfall in the song writing department? Well, yes, because a final score of 79% is very respectable.

Million – Detonator

Million – Detonator

Tracks:

  1. I’m Your Blood
  2. I Know Your Name
  3. Stronger Than Ever
  4. Shadow Of The Cross
  5. Showstopper
  6. Even The Sun
  7. Standing Proud
  8. Bonebreaker
  9. Ready For The Man
  10. Race With The Devil
  11. In Your Dreams
  12. No Place Like Hell

Album Cover:


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Label: A2 Records
Producer: Million
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time: 52:45 m:s

Review date: 05/11/2001

Web site: 
 www.million.o.se, www.a2records.com

Email: band@million.o.se 

Rating: 85 %
Verdict: A fun romp through a set of muscular melodic hard rock tunes
Following a period of inactivity & a lineup change, Million are back, this time on A2 Records. The most obvious difference from the previous Million album that I reviewed, “It’s Electric”, is that the band have toughened up their sound. Whereas last time, the band rocked out big time, this time they’ve got the power and authority to back up that rockin’ attitude.

“I’m Your Blood” is a fast and furious start featuring some machine gun like drumming that manages to hold on to a sense of melody. “I Know Your Name” highlights the key difference from their previous work. The Purple/Rainbow influence is still there in the background, but this time they stamp the song with their own style and aren’t content to merely emulate their biggest influences. The slow start to “Stronger Than Ever” lulls you into thinking that you’re in for a ballad, but come on readers!. This is Million and these guys just wanna rock! The track develops into an uptempo slice of catchy melodic hard rock that has a chorus that sticks to you like chewing gum to your shoes. “Shadow Of The Cross” is another uptempo rocker. “Showstopper” is a riff heavy romp that is let down by a mundane chorus.

When Million do decide to cool it with a ballad, “Even The Sun”, it is well executed & not the ham fisted effort you might have expect from a bunch of loud rockers. After that gentle moment, Million put plenty of macho posturing into the muscular “Standing Proud”. Hints of Rainbow start of the stadium rocker “Bonebreaker”, with the guys lifting their game after the somewhat ordinary previous track. “Ready For The Man” is a Kiss style macho tune dealing with the pleasant subject of death row.

As the title, “Race With The Devil”, implies the next track rattles along at a fair pace, but other than it’s speed the track is not noteworthy. “In Your Dreams” is a real foot-stomping racket that is high octane catchy rockin’. “No Place Like Hell” is a riff heavy track that reminds of 70’s blues rock (Kiss meeting Purple).

The album is a fun romp through a set of muscular melodic hard rock tunes where the standard never really flags too much & the listener hardly has time draw breath.

Kenny McGee’s Disease – KMD

Kenny McGee – KMD

Tracks:

  1. Drive
  2. Marie
  3. Pick Me Up
  4. Sinner/Saint
  5. Can’t Go On This Way
  6. Diablo
  7. Comfort Me
  8. Your Love Is Strange
  9. I Know U Know
  10. Any Other Way

Album Cover:



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Label: Rock-it Records
Producer: Kenny McGee & Ken Faulkenberry
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time: 39:54 m:s

Review date: 01/11/2001

Web site:    www.kennymcgee.com 
 

Email: 

Rating: 80%
Verdict: modern pop-rock meets glam-rock
Erm…what an appealing name for an album – Kenny McGee’s Disease. Still at least you’re not likely to forget it in a hurry. Kenny has been a member of several other acts, such as Lefty, Heartless & Julliet. Here, he has put together this own band – consisting of J.J. Johnson on lead guitar, Shawn Scheller on bass and Nikki Jimenez on percussion.

When describing their style, I immediately want to say latter day Poison. But that isn’t the whole story. A better description would be pop-rock with the emphasis on rock and with elements of glam rock and AOR creeping in. Like the Keith LuBrant album, this one is fusing a few elements together and staying clear of any pigeonholes.

The first couple of tracks “Your Love Is Strange” and “Any Other Way” are both uptempo pseudo-glam offerings. The glam elements get left on the sidelines for “Comfort Me” which comes across as modern rock. That modern pop-rock influence continues on “Pick Me Up” which also features a “Na Na… Yeah Yeah” chorus. Lightweight jangly pop-rock is the order of the day for the catchy “Marie”.

I have already mentioned Poison and “Sinner/Saint” is the song that made them pop up into the vast wasteland of my brain. This is a full-blown glam/punk workout that has more melody going on than is common in this genre. They follow up with another glam feeling tune, “Drive”, that features a strong chorus. When it comes to the time for a ballad then band give us a slow guitar based ballad that has almost a country feel to it (ala “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn”)

“Diablo” is a stop/start slower rocker with a melancholy feel. The album closes with a slowish number, “I Know U Know” that again evokes thoughts of Poison.

The term ‘glam-rock’ has been used throughout this review, but in reality this doesn’t quite describe the band accurately enough. For a start, the band don’t have that reckless and wild edge to their music that you associate with glam. Also, glam-rock conjures up images of a retro sounding band, whereas KM’s sound fits in well in today’s musical climate. The album is lightweight and controlled, whereas I’d have liked them to beef the sound up and rock out a little more. But, then again, maybe I’m missing the point – this is modern pop rock and not retro glam-rock. Another album that does a good job of mixing the old with the new, which means that hopefully it will appeal to a wider audience than just the AOR/MR community.

Keith LuBrant – Face In The Crowd

Keith LuBrant – Face In The Crowd

Tracks:

  1. All I Want To Be
  2. Better Days
  3. Lonely Sunday
  4. The Girl Next Door
  5. Face In The Crowd
  6. Misunderstood
  7. If You See Mary
  8. Fades Away
  9. Midnight Once Again
  10. Hear Me
  11. Where You Gonna Go
  12. Feelin Alright
  13. Madam Butterfly
  14. Real Life

Album Cover:


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Label: Keefs Music
Producer: Daren Wicks, Keith LuBrant, John LeCompt, Joe Perez
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time: 55:44 m:s

Review date: 31/10/2001

Web site: www.keithlubrant.com
 

Email: keith@keithlubrant.com 

Rating: 84 %
Verdict: Upbeat Pop Rock with some alt-rock influences giving the album the extra edge it needs to gain widespread appeal.

Keith recorded this CD’s worth of material originally as demo material. The feedback he received was so good that he decided to release the CD independently. The album was recorded in Keith’s own studio. He is joined by John LeCompe on bass and Joe Perez on drums. Keith handles vocals, guitar and keyboards. Keith’s musical influences include Glen Burtnick, Jon Bon Jovi, Mike Viola, Andy Taylor, Gin Blossoms, and anybody else who writes a good hook!

Keith describes his music as Pop Rock or Alternative Rock. In fact, Keith plays feel good pop tunes that have a rock basis. That Alt-Rock tag is also applicable, as quite a few of the songs sport some ‘alt’ tendencies.

The first batch of songs are all best described as ‘jangly power pop’. For me the album takes a few tracks to get going. On the first couple of tracks the sound is reminds me of early Joe Jackson. By ‘Lonely Sunday’ the hooks are getting more noticeable and this is continued on ‘The Girl Next Door’.

The title track is a slower semi-acoustic track that has more of a rock-vibe (Bon Jovi) to it compared to the pop that has gone before. The hooks keep building with the again semi-acoustic, but this time upbeat ‘Misunderstood’. With ‘If You See Mary’ Keith get things just right. It is an extremely catchy tune in a radio friendly format.

By this stage the album seems to have settled down and the next few tracks all do their job more than adequately. ‘Where You Gonna Go?’ is another highlight that rivals ‘If You See Mary’ for top billing, emphasizing that the album has hit it’s stride by this stage.

On the closing trio the more modern influences come to the fore again. A heavy funk bassline & electric guitars herald the lightweight funk of ‘Madam Butterfly’. The closer is a riff orientated track where the lead guitar is let loose.

With the list of influences that Keith quotes, he could have played it safe in two ways – either going for a straight forward traditional rock album or going for an alt-rock album and ignoring those more traditional roots. Instead, Keith has, I think, stayed true to himself and combined these to create the type of album which moves AOR/MR forward into the 21st century. I have to admit that it is still the tracks where the more traditional approach gains the upper hand that I prefer (No surprise there for regular Mood Swings readers).

Keith has created an album of upbeat modern pop rock tunes that should have widespread appeal. In ‘If You See Mary’ & ‘Where You Gonna Go?’ he has a couple of tracks that would make you sit up & listen if you heard them on the radio and if they can do that, then they’ve got hit potential.

Bon Jovi – Crush

Bon Jovi – Crush

Tracks:

  1. It’s My Life
  2. Say It Isn’t So
  3. Thank You For Loving Me
  4. Two Story Town
  5. Next 100 Years
  6. Just Older
  7. Mystery Train
  8. Save The World
  9. Captain Crash & The Beauty Queen From Mars
  10. She’s A Mystery
  11. I Got The Girl
  12. One Wild Night
  13. I Could Make A Living Out Of Loving You

Album Cover:


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Label: Mercury Records

Producer: Luke Ebbin, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time: 62:36 m:s

Review date: 10/08/2001

Web site:  www.bonjovi.com
 www.backstagejbj.com 

Email: 

Rating: 75 %
Verdict: Rockin’ in the ‘comfort zone’
This was released even before the Journey album I’m finally getting around to reviewing, but since there are quite a few comparison – mega bands with previous albums that were blasted for their ‘mature attitude’ (that’s too many slow tunes to you and me) and which I gave good reviews to at the time, but which have been strangers to my CD player ever since.

Bon Jovi took a break after “These Days”. This album was released amidst a sea hype last year that proclaimed it to be a return to the heady days and style of “Slippery When Wet”. Much of this was based on the fact that the first single was a sequel to “Livin’ On A Prayer”.

Like Journey, I wouldn’t claim to be a huge BJ fan, but I do have “Slippery When Wet”, “Keep The Faith” & the aforementioned “These Days”.

The aforementioned “It’s My Life” is indeed a decent tune which conjures up a few memories, but doesn’t quite have the magic of “Livin’ On A Prayer”. “Say It Isn’t So” is an up-tempo rocker with a Beatle-esque qualities to the chorus. After listening to “Thank You For Loving Me” you might be thinking that the mature attitude from “These Days” hasn’t been retired completely. I find this type of BJ tune very predictable and subsequently tedious after a few listens.

“Two Story Town” is much better. It swaggers onto your speakers and demands your full attention. Forget about that opening track which attracted all the hype, this is BJ on top form. The urban cowboy is on the loose again with the predictable “Next 100 Years”. If BJ did attract stick for the last album’s mature attitude, then this song, “Just Older”, is maybe a better reflection of where the band are at these days :( Not old, just older. Yeah, we can all identify with that one.

“Mystery Train” is best described as gentle rather than slow. When writing the review I really couldn’t remember what “Save The World” sounded like, which says it all really. You’re going to remember “Captain Crash & The Beauty Queen From Mars” for the name, if nothing else. It is a rousing mid-tempo good-time tune that gets your foot a-tappin’. The band try their hand at another gentle rather than slow ballad on “She’s A Mystery” & it actually work well and keeps the listener engaged throughout.

Next up is a slice of uptempo jangly pop called “I Got The Girl”. “One Wild Night” has at least got a bit of energy about it and could easily have been from their earlier lives a young rockers rather than middle aged musicians amusing themselves. “I Could Make A Living Out Of Loving You” is a bluesy/soul influenced slice of rocking.

Whereas the Journey album has returned to my CD player piles of times since I bought it, then same can’t be said of this album. Sure I listened to it quite a bit after I got it, but it ain’t been there much since. And that really sums it up. An OK album. The guys are just too comfortable to create another “Slippery When Wet”. The band seem to be getting more Springsteen like with every album. It has it’s moments, but unlike Journey who had the impetus of a new member to get them off their fat asses and rediscovering their music, BJ have tried to do it on their own and the truth these guys aren’t ‘hungry’ enough anymore. This is their youth looked at with half hearted eyes.

Journey – Arrival

Journey – Arrival

Tracks:

  1. Higher Place
  2. All The Way
  3. Signs Of Life
  4. All The Things
  5. Loved By You
  6. Livin’ To Do
  7. World Gone Wild
  8. I Got A Reason
  9. With Your Love
  10. Lifetime Of Dreams
  11. Live And Breathe
  12. Nothin’ Comes Close
  13. To Be Alive Again
  14. Kiss Me Softly
  15. We Will Meet Again

Album Cover:


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Label: Columbia Records
Producer: Kevin Shirley
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time: 73:58 m:s

Review date: 10/08/2001

Web site:  www.journeymusic.com , www.columbiarecords.com  
 

Email: 

Rating: 95 %
Verdict: Journey revitalized and doin’ the business!
I seem to have had this an eternity and never got round to writing a review of it. That is maybe because with the last Journey album I rushed in and gave “Trial By Fire” a glowing review & since then I don’t think the album has graced my CD player. With this release it been a case of wait and see how it stands the test of time.

I’m sure you all know the story behind this album – a release in Japan where it was again blasted for being ballad heavy, the album finding it’s way onto Napster, the blasting of the Japanese release giving Neal Schon the ammunition he needed to record a couple more rockin’ tunes for this US/Europe release of the album. Oh yeah, did I mention that Steve Perry is out and in comes Steve Augeri on vocals. Steve Augeri may be known to AOR fans for his work with Tall Stories & Tyketto. I thought that Hugo, Terry Brock or Kevin Chalfant would get the gig.

Steve’s arrival seems to have to given the band a new lease of life. Thinking back, the problem with Trial By Fire wasn’t the songs or the playing, it was simply that it was a band going through the motions for a few dollars more. This time there is a bit of an edge and enthusiasm to music. Hard to put your finger on it , but it is just a vibe you get. I wouldn’t say that Steve Augeri was a direct replacement for Steve Perry, but those that haven’t followed the recent history of the band could be forgiven if they didn’t notice the difference. Steve Augeri happens to sound like Steve Perry, but doesn’t go out of his way to do so, if you know what I mean.

“Higher Place” starts the album off in an uptempo mood which is what I think the band needed to do on this album, if we weren’t all to consider them to be a bunch of geriatrics. First thing you’ll notice is that the Journey sound is intact – the change of singer hasn’t made a difference. “All The Way” is a semi-ballad – a style Journey seem to have made all their own. “Signs Of Life” strikes up like something off Escape (Don’t Stop Believin’). This is precisely the type of track that has sealed Journey’s in the AOR history books

“All The Things” has a beefier riff & Journey are determined to prove that they haven’t forgotten how to rock on this album. On “Loved By You” it is ballad time again – but this time Steve Augeri’s presence gives tracks like these the edge they need to stop them becoming schmaltzy. Having said that, the bluesy balladry of “Livin’ To Do” is tedious.

“World Gone Wild” builds things up to a more rockin’ mode, but it takes the chorus to save it from becoming just another rock mode filler. “I Got A Reason” is a mid-tempo AOR rocker that charms. “With Your Love” is more piano led balladry. What can you say about Journey tracks like these – the vocals soar and the music sweeps you along on a tide of emotion. Maybe not classic single material, but a good album track. When this followed by another ballad called “Lifetime Of Dreams” you can hear why the Japanese release got blasted as being snooze-worthy.

The band build things up gradually again with “Live And Breathe”, which floats on a bassline and vocals. I never thought that I’d be comparing Journey to Little Caesar, but when “Nothin’ Comes Close” kicks off all I can think of the LC tune Cajun Panther. We’re on another rock workout by the band. The rock mode continues with the Escape-era sounding “To Be Alive Again”, which could have been hit single material in another era.

And so the mood cools again with the relaxed & excellent “Kiss Me Softly”.  And so the band finish the album off with a mid-tempo AOR track called “We Will Meet Again”. At least the album doesn’t finish on a whimper.

So there you are, we’ve made it through all 74 mins. That is a lot of music to digest. This album has been a fairly frequent visitor to my CD player since I bought it. That certainly indicates it is an improvement over Trial By Fire. So many bands have tried to copy these guys over the years, it is good to see them back in the saddle again and this time enjoying themselves, rather than simply going through the motions.

 

Spaced Out – Eponymus II

Spaced Out – Eponymus II

Tracks:

  1. Sever The Seven
  2. The Lost Train
  3. Infinite Ammo
  4. For The Trees Too
  5. Trophallaxie
  6. Sever The Seven – Revisited
  7. The Alarm
  8. Glassosphere – Part II
  9. Jamosphere

Album Cover:


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Label: Unicorn Records
Producer: Antoine Fafard
Year:
2001

Total Playing Time:  53:25 m:s

Review date: 10/08/2001

Web site:    www.unicornrecords.com/spacedout 
 

Email: 

Rating: 68 %
Verdict: Spaced Out continue their Jazz Fusion fest
It doesn’t seem that long since I reviewed Spaced Out’s debut album & here they are again with another one.

Whilst it would be easy for me to say that this is merely more of the same, as it turns out I seem to be more receptive to this offering. Spaced Out play Jazz Fusion instrumentals, which is a form of music where I generally find the concept appealing enough, but my enthusiasm fades when I listen to the actual music.

As before Spaced Out have produced a set of Jazz Fusion instrumental on which the musicianship is excellent. What is more under scrutiny is the ability to write memorable tunes. In fact, tunes may not be the correct phrase – pieces of music or even soundscapes is a better description. Being a non-musician, I can be amazed by the actual musicianship for a short while (about 30 seconds), then I want the album to entertain me.

On listening to first track, “Sever The Seven”, you will indeed be amazed by the skill on display and it is a veritable Jazz Fusion feast, with just about every trick in the book thrown in. “The Lost Train” has a King Crimson like start and indeed throughout strikes me as a mixture of KC doing a Jazz Fusion tune. On “For Infinite Ammo” the Jazz bits get toned down and the Hammond Organ comes out giving the music a Deep Purple feel – I’m reminded of Deep Purple’s rendition of “Space Truckin” on “Live In Japan”.

“For The Trees Too” is more Jazz Fusion doodlings that adopt a mode laid back late night feel in the middle. Apart from some gentle sci-fi string synth on the opening of “Trophallixie”, the Jazz Fusion theme continues on the next batch of tunes.

On “The Alarm” there are a few other things going on but this is basically a drum solo with a few space invaders thrown in for good measure. I personally welcome this, but true Fusion-heads may think otherwise.

“The Glassosphere – part II” is a continuation from the previous album. It contains some hypnotic King Crimson style fretless bass work and plays on repeated sequences quite a bit. The album closes with “Jamosphere” which is another long Jazz Fusion feast.

Maybe the previous album laid down the ground work, but I was slightly more receptive to this album. Spaced Out and Jazz Fusion fans will love it, but the rest of us may well be content with having one Spaced Out album in our collection. In that case, this one just pips the debut as the one to have.

Phil Vincent – Thunder In The East & Tragic

Phil Vincent – Thunder In the East
Phil Vincent – Tragic

Tracks:

Thunder In The East

  1. Friend or Foe
  2. When Love Is Gone
  3. Guilty
  4. Eye To Eye
  5. Keeping The Faith
  6. Trying To Lose You
  7. Fooling Yourself
  8. Into Temptation
  9. Keeping Distance
  10. Forever and a Day
  11. Falling from Grace

Tragic

  1. Stand or Fall
  2. Where Do We Go From Here?
  3. Cruel
  4. Illusion
  5. So Sad
  6. The Hard Way
  7. Life Is A Game
  8. Matter Of Time
  9. My Life
  10. Long Night
  11. Changing Faces
  12. Hard To Say Goodbye


Album Cover:


[Image]

[Image]

 

 

 

 

 

 

Label: Song Haus Music
Producer: Phil Vincent
Year:
2000 & 2001

Total Playing Time: 51:33 & 56:53 m:s

Review date: 03/08/2001

Web site:   www.philvincent.com 
 

Email: 

Rating:

Thunder In The East: 80 %
Tragic: 85 %

Verdict: A couple of good 80s style AOR releases
Phil Vincent is one of those annoying people who goes into the studio, sings and plays guitars, bass, keyboards and drums on a set of songs written mostly by himself and emerges from the studio with what can genuinely be called a solo album. Tragic is Phil’s 6th album. I’m also taking the opportunity to review his previous album which I remember reading favorable review of when it was released last year, but which until now didn’t make it into my collection.

Phil Vincent’s influences include Dokken, Harem Scarem, Survivor and Boston.

Thunder In The East

“Friend or Foe” starts the album off with an 80s style keyboard driven mid to up-tempo tune. This style of music is one that usually finds favor with me. The album then builds up through “When The Love Is Gone” and “Guilty”, which are both in a similar vein to the opener. They are good, but the next tune, “Eye To Eye”, is the one that grabs your attention on the first couple of listens. Style wise I think Rick Springfield is a useful reference point. “Keeping The Faith” continues the favorable impression, but in a crunchier mode with both the pace and the guitars turned up.

So far, we’re about half way through the album and the pace has remained fairly constant. “Trying To Lose You” has a slower start and develops into what is best described as a power ballad. Then it is back to up-tempo AOR with those ‘parping’ keyboards and this time a beefier guitar sound for “Fooling Yourself”. A melancholy piano starts “Into Temptation” and the melancholy mood continues throughout. The downturn continues with the somewhat average “Keeping Distance”. “Forever and a Day” is a slowie that builds nicely and get the album back on track. Just when you’re expecting another slowie to wrap things up, the vocal harmonies give way to the full works and instead we close with a mid-tempo AOR rocker. 

A good 80s AOR album. My only minor criticism is that it is a little even paced and needs more variety.

Tragic

The first thing that strikes you when you play “Thunder In The East” and “Tragic” back to back is the fact that “Tragic” sounds so much louder. In fact, the production/mixing of Tragic sounds much better to these untrained ears, immediately creating a better impression.

“Stand or Fall” starts of the album off with a catchy up-tempo AOR tune that does the job of an opener very well. This could lead you into thinking that we’re simply in for more of the same on Tragic. However, “Where Do We Go From Here?”, with it’s slow beginning and the piano leading the way as it builds to a power ballad that reminds me of Dakota, shows that Phil has made a conscious effort to add the variety that was missing on “Thunder In The East”. For “Cruel” that variety comes in the form of some cranked up guitars and it is good to feel a little bit more energy in the music. The song could be described as AOR meets melodic hard rock with the chorus revealing Phil’s AOR roots. “Illusion” starts with piano, then a regimented structure with guitars, before ending up a power ballad. It is another example of more thought going into the song writing.

“So Sad” is a strange on. It starts off with piano and what sounds like a wobble board (at least that is what I think Rolf Harris calls it), but could well be a heartbeat, in the background. When the full ‘band’ kicks in the wobble board sound becomes less noticeable and it reminds me of an Axe-style ballad. There is a Beatle-esque feel to “The Hard Way” on which the cranked up guitars in the instrumental section save the day.

A more straightforward rock approach on display with those ‘parping’ keyboards getting another outlining for “Life Is A Game”. If you were waiting for one tune from the album to really jump out and do the business for you then my guess is that this is the one. Guitars definitely seem to be more to the fore on this album. A buzzy lead guitar dominates the mid-tempo rocker called “Matter Of Time”. Guitars and keyboards both get a look in on “My Life” which is a power ballad. By this stage I’m thinking that the album has hit it’s stride. The rockin’ mood continues on “Long Night” which turns out to be a bit of a filler. If the last tune was weak, then “Changing Faces” gives it a run for it’s money. Even the chorus is so low key that it goes past you and you’d not even notice. The title of the closing track may be touch cliched, but if you’re expecting a ballad, then you’re in for a pleasant surprise, as we get a mid-tempo rocker instead that finishes off the album in style.

On this album Phil adds the variety that it could be argued was missing from Thunder In The East. The result is an album that feels more complete and more balanced, resulting in a more satisfying listening experience.

Overall

When I first listened to these albums back to back, I’ve got to say that “Thunder In The East” was the one that made the best impression. In terms of quota of catchy tunes it has the edge. However, when I was sitting down writing comments on each song for this review, the strengths of “Tragic” began to make themselves known. It does show progression and is the more rounded album. Choosing between them is difficult, the truth is that either would make worthy additions to your record collection.