Reviews September/04

Grand Illusion / Ordinary just won't do / ESM103


Grand Illusion - Another great album by these melodic Swedes! Tracklisting:Devil's Advocate; The best is yet to come; Gone for good; Heaven or Hell; New Beginning; 1982; Pull you down; Love lies buried; Back to yesterday; And this is why; When you were mine; On Time.

I have been waiting for this release with Swedish grand melodic rockers Grand Illusion for quite a while. And I must say that I'm NOT disappointed. From the very first tunes of the opening track, with the not so hummable title "Devil's Advocate", BTW the big hookladen songs with the very strong production and high class musicianship shines through.
The trademarks of Grand Illusion has always been the great melodies and the big big vocal arrangements. On "Ordinary just won't do" of course contains the features as well as a super production by main man Anders Rydholm and the magnificent mixing and mastering by Tommy Hansen in the Jailhouse Studios.
The core of the band is the same as on their previous releases: The double shared (high pitched) lead vocals by Peter Sundell and Per Svensson, guitars, bass and keyboards by Anders Rydholm and drums by Christian Sundell - new guitarist is Ola af Trampe and of course the 6th member lyricist Ola Karlsson deserves a mention. Besides that Tommy Hansen plays a powerful Hammond B3 organ on "Love lies buried". And some guest writers like Steve Overland, Chris Ousey and Steve Newman is involved, too.
All together these facts create a unique Swedish sound with powerful melodies, excellent musicianship and a perfect mix of soft ballads and raw power. I think that the extremes are more obvious on this release compared to their previous works - the ballads like "And this is why" is more soft and the rockers like the before mentioned "Love lies buried" is more rockier and sharp edged - and I have to mention the guitar riffs, on tracks like "Gone for good" and "Back to Yesterday" Ola af Trampe almost plays metal! Very powerful, indeed.
I am absolutely amazed by this release by Swedish pomp/melodic rockers Grand Illusion. Their style and unique sound is a must for all lovers of music from pop to pomp - from ABBA to Queen and Styx!

Sacred Heart / Lay it on the Line / SH07-04


Sacred Heart - Melodic Rock from England! Tracklisting:Lay it on the Line; Rock n roll away; N.Y.C.; The last goodbye; Always; What it takes; In my Heart; It's alright; Hand in Hand; Forever (acustic).

Sacred Heart is band originally formed in Camberly UK for almost 10 years ago. They disbanded for a while but is now back with a stabil line up featuring the talents of Paul Stead on lead and backing vocals as well as guitars, Mark Stephenson on guitars, Claudio Cafolla on drums and Leigh Westbrook on the bass.
Main song writer Paul Stead has some favorites in bands like Whitesnake, Europe, Dokken and Bonfire - and you might say that the influences shines through. Their main "Thing" is that they are proud of being influenced by the 80's sound - and on great rock tracks like "The last goodbye" and "In my Heart" the influences are obvious - great.
But the melody line, powerful guitars and good vocal abilities are used for more balladesque tracks like the soulful "Always" and the more Beatles'esque (as goes for the intro) "It's alright". But don't shut the player down before you've heard the wonderful acustic ballad "Forever". It is woth a listen.
Let's hope that a melodic record company get their hands on Sacred Heart - because this band is "almost there". The melodies are fine, the musicianship is great and they have a lot of live experience poening for bands like, Saxon, Quireboys, Tygers of Pan Tang, Tracie Hunter Band and Kee Marcello's K2. Let's hope that it will be soon, because the band deserves a chance to get out to a bigger audience!

Jeff Scott Soto / Lost in the Translation / FR CD 205


Jeff Scott Soto - One of the greatest voices in melodic rock, as well...! Tracklisting:Believe in me; Soul Divine; Drowning; If this is the End; Lost in the translation; Doin' Time; High Time; Beginning 2 End; On my own; Find our Way; Sacred Eyes.

Jeff Scott Soto is becoming more and more a favorite vocalist of mine - OK he has always been in top 10 since his first days with Yngwie Malmsteen for almost 20 years ago! (gosh) but he is moving up the ranks! Since the last melodic record "Prism" there has been a certain "glow" of melodic magnetism over Jeff Scott Soto. And the new album starts out with a very fine melodic rocker co-written with former band mate (in Soul SirkUS) Neal Schon, who also has a very big and Schon-esque guitar solo in the end!. And strangely enough the track that is the nearest to Journey "Find Our way" is without Schon! Besides "Mr. Journey" Soto has joined forces with guitarists Howie Simon, Gary Schutt and drummer Glen Sobel. Jeff Scott Soto is handling the bass and keyboards by himself, and the production, too BTW.
The album works very fine with an elegant mix of melodic rock like the first 3 tracks with singable choruses and powerful riffs and magnificent ballads like "If this is the the End" - but also more funkier/groovier stuff like "Doin' Time" and "Lost in the Translation" works out really fine. So you might say that this record also covers many of Jeff Scott Soto's styles when he was fronting bands like Malmsteen , Talisman, Eyes and The SAS Band.
Jeff Scott Soto covers a lot genres and musical styles as well but the point is that he is authentic in every note and detail wether it is hard rock, funk, Metal or Rhythm & Blues!

Steen Peitersen 1999-2004