Reviews from April/99

Mark Free / Long Way From Love / Frontiers 526


MARK FREE - Long Way from LoveIt's strange how life sometimes gives us experiences that puts the "jig-saw puzzles of life" together, and makes us see things in a different light. That's how I've felt about some experiences regarding Mark/Marcie Free and those incidents convinced me that Mark/Marcie was and still is a very important vocalist in the genre. First I managed to get my fingers on Signals Loud & Clear. Second I heard bits from the new Unruly Child album - Kelly Hansen is their new singer but to me their one and only frontman is Mark Free. And third I here sit with the Special 5th Anniversary Reissue of Long way from Love. I have been noticing this man/woman for quite a while now, but since the days in King Cobra he had a good reputation - without impressing me. Loud and clear is an good album without any specific identity though and Unruly Child wasn't that big a succes. But as a background-vocalist he has been around a bit and worked with different artists and genres such as Bobby Kimball, Julio Iglesias and Glass Tiger. Long Way from Love is most of the time a terrific release - and I even like it better than any of his previous work. I think it seems very honest and even though it's very smooth and friendly it maintains a good energy. Mark/Marcie Free sometimes starts where Michael Bolton ended his rock-carriere an tracks like Some day you'll come running, Hard heart to break and State of love might as well been released around Boltons The Hunger .
I never liked electronic drums, but I survived Slow down the Night - because afterwards he delivers one of the most classic AOR-intro's on Never be a next time.
The party hasn't ended yet - this is just 1/3 of the whole scoop. Also includes in this anniverssary reissue there are a live-CD and 6 not previously released tracks.
The live-part is recorded on Gods of AOR-festival in '93, arranged in cooperation with MTV's Headbangers ball. Mark Free is joined by the swedish newcommers Snakes in Paradise. Besides track's from his solo-career there is also Unruly Childs's Who cries now, Signal's Liar and Wake up you little fool and King Cobra's Only the strong survive and Iron Eagle and hereby covers many of the aspects of time and genre in Free's career.
His voice is incredible - even with a poor pruduction he has the strength of a sledgehammer and reaches notes that splinters glass. The 6 not preaviosly released tracks are not waste from the time in the studio, there is an alternative version of State of Love as a duet with Diane De Witt - marvellous - Journey or Hardline with lot of good choir-work.
This is all in all a very informative an good musically experience - I finally managed to give Mark/Marcie Free as much room in my conscience as he deserves. He was and still is a great singer - I have to make a few warm-up's in the shower before I hum In it for the long run.


Tandym / City Out Of Time / SAFFPROD01


TANDYM - City out of Time This one is good - an unsigned band, and they play with authority and power!! Escape Records re-released Franke & The Knockouts and Tandym is not far from that kind of AOR. It's guitar-driven and very much of a power-trio, but with a low-budget production. Besides the production they have very strong melodies like "Can't Blame the World"and"I'll Wait". It's classic laid-back AOR of the the mid 80's. Also The ballads are also very strong and for  a couple of years ago "All in you" would have been on the top-10. "City out of time" has the potentials of becoming an AOR-cult-classic i AOR-circles, but I sometimes wish they would be more themselves, because I'm sitting here thinking "On his song they sound like......Angel, Styx, Bon Jovi" - but what I really miss is some identity, we only for few moments get a closer look on Tandym - and it's a pretty look.
They would be glad if you got in contact with them on their website: Tandym


Ten / Spellbound / Frontiers 014


TEN - Spellbound Gary Hughes and his companions in the british AOR-gods Ten, has changed a bit during the last couple of years. From a very smooth an easy-to-digest band they have "matured" to a very pompy orchestra where big is beautiful. In the past Ten very much was a band that made good songs but they couldn't keep the energy for an whole album - but this time around they have changed that too.
All in all there is vein of Rainbow or DIO on titles like The Alchemist, Feel the Force and The Phantom on Spellbound - and with a cover with dragons, magigian and unicorns you will have a clue what kind of universe you are about to enter. I very much like We rule the Night featuring Bob Catley and Sue Willets (Dante Fox) and this is because it reminds me of the glory days of Magnum, an Gary Hughes shows that he is a very talented sing/song-writer. From time to time they have an even heavy approach and guitarist Vinny Burns have sold his soul to Blackmore, Schon or Huff - with a production that finally does the band justice by Rafe McKenna (Bad Company, Giant and Foreigner)
I presume if you are a hard-core fan of Ten- this will give you joy and entertainment for a long time, and to me shows that Gary Hughes is still developing into a complete artist covers songwriting, production, singing and playing.