Reviews May/00

Fair Warning / 4 / FR CD 050


Fair Warning - 4 Tracklisting:Heart on the run; Through the fire; Break free; Forever; Tell me I'm wrong; Dream; I fight; Time will tell; Eyes of love; Find my way; Night falls; Wait; For the young.

Like always this awesome german melodic heavyrock band has made a very good release.
This time around the album features a more direct rock approach with Tommy Heart's soaring and crystal-clear voice in center. But also star guitarist Helge Engelke shines on "4" on both the very emotional sides and on the more rockier! Try to listen to his guitar on the last track "For the young" - how on Earth is it possible to make a guitar sound like a back-pipe ??
The ballads are very strong on this album - and the band has always been big in Japan and this record fits this market perfectly. But I think the songwriting is stronger on this release than on their previous work - all 13 tracks consists of very catchy hooks and marvellous arrangements combined with keyboards thanks to Engelke, Heart and bassist/songwriter Ule Winsome Ritgen. On this record the rhythm-guitar is handled by Andy Malacec and drums by studio-drummer Philippe Candas and long time member C C Behrens, but on their upcoming tour they will have 2 new members: Kai Reuter will replace Mr. Malecek on guitar and new permanent drummer is Athanasios "Zacky" Tsoukas.
Some of my favorite tracks are on the ballad-side: "Break Free" and "Eyes of love" but Fair Warning is first and foremost a rock band and tracks like opener "Heart on the run", "Wait" and the grand "Forever" are all classics-to-be.
A very solid release with only a few surprises - but like all other albums with Fair Warning nothing is second-hand work. Very good indeed!

Glenn Hughes / Return Of Crystal Karma / SPV/Steamhammer 085-21812-P


Glenn Hughes - Back in business! Tracklisting:The State I'm in; Midnight Meditated; It's alright; Switch the Mojo; Gone; The other Side of Me; Angela; Owed to "J"; This Life; Days of Avalon.

Glenn Hughes will release this one on June 21st - his sixth studio album. In the past he has had a remarkable career that has put him on high-class acts such as Trapeze, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Gary Moore , Whitesnake and even Earth Wind & Fire!
"Return Of Crystal Karma" (R.O.C.K) must be the most hard hitting releases in years - from the very first track to the last riff! Hughes has always combined a lot of Rhythm & Blues, soul and even funk to his music but the albums "Addiction"(1996) and "The Way I Is" (1999) had a rockier tone to it. And I guess if you combine the two latest albums you almost get the feeling on "R.O.C.K".
All over this release Glenn Hughes managed to create a powerful and somewhere dark atmosphere and towards the end some tracks captures the soulful side of Mr. Hughes - and he even reveals a soft spot for AOR on the almost Toto-esque "Angela".
On the whole album Hughes is backed up his almost regular crew: Joakim Marsh on guitar, Hans Zermüehlen on keyboards and Gary Ferguson on drums. Glenn Hughes handles the bass himself as well as a few guitar parts, too. Hughes co-produced the album with Michael Scott - famed for his work on Van Halen's "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge".
As mentioned above there are some hard hitting tracks as well as soulful ones on this record - but I have to say that track nr. 5 "Gone" is a track from the aborted Hughes/Iommi sessions. There is a bootleg circulating from these sessions in 1996 and this version is very true to that - it's based on a very clear Iommy-printed guitar riff and Joakim Marsh plays that excellent!
I'm think this record is one of Hughes best solo albums - luckly he also think that himself. In the the press material he says: "Spiritually, it doesn't get any better than this. I'm walking six feet off the ground, and that comes across when I start to sing. I have no hesitation in comparing this to early Trapeze records." May these words be the last - and let the music do the talking!

Big Country / Driving to Damascus / SPV 085-29822 CD


Big Country - Driving to Damascus Tracklisting:Driving to Damascus; Dive in to me; See you; Perfect World; Somebody else; Fragile Thing; The President slipped and fell; Devil in the Eye; Trouble the Waters; Bella; Your Spirit to me; Grace; Loserville; This Blood's for you; I get hurt; John Wayne's Dream.

I would never have thought myself reviewing a band like Big Country on a site linked to the AOR or Melodic Rock genre!
But their latest opus called "Driving to Damascus" is far more diverse that I ever would have imagined. The British/Scottish band 's main man vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Stuart Adamson is like always surrounded by drummer Mark Brzezicki, bassist Tony Butler and guitarist Bruce Watson. The four guys deliever a very solid performance produced by Rafe McKenna - known for his work with Foreigner, Giant and Ten.
On the album there are tracks that are very country inspired like "Bella"- and Mr. Adamson has in fact moved to Nashville lately and that has influenced his way of songwriting. The tight,solid and powerful production suits the melodies.
But the main attraction to this album is the marvellous mix of high class guitar driven rock combined with a laid back and relaxed feeling. And like always the structure of the songs and riffs is in a league of its own. How they manage to make the guitar sound like bag-pipes is still a mystery to me - but obviously Fair Warning learned the trick!
The album has numerous of very strong tracks - some of my favorites are the powerful "Dive in to me" and "The President slipped and fell" but also the more mellow tracks like "Somebody else" and "Trouble the Waters" are memorable.
Maybe this is the return of the old spirit in the band - they have been around since 1983 and they have always challenged themselves, sometimes with some succes and always critically acclaimed, but maybe not that well bought! I'll hope that this record will bring Big Country back in the charts - they have made a very, very good album, indeed!

© Steen Peitersen 2000