2014 release from Frontiers Records srl.
Nigel Bailey – Vocals, bass. Vinny Burns – Guitar, keyboards. Greg Morgan – Drums. Alessandro Del Vecchio – Keyboards, backing vocals.
Artist location: UK.
4 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by David.
- Trouble In A Red Dress.
- Hold Me Down.
- Twisted Soul.
- Winter Sun.
- Just A Man (Not Divine).
- Holy Water.
- Two Hearts Beat As One.
- Made For One Another.
- Don’t Let Me Fall.
- Hellfire Highway.
- Sicilian Kiss (Instrumental).
My interest in this project was piqued as soon as I learned that Vinny Burns was attached to it. I have been a fan of Burns’ work for many years now and have always felt that he is a guitarist who does not get near the attention that he should. Starting out with Dare, Burns played on their first two amazing albums before eventually leaving and joining Asia briefly. After leaving them Vinny joined up with Gary Hughes and his band Ten where he stayed for six years before parting ways. He has worked on several of Bob Catley’s (Magnum) albums as well as releasing a solo album, an album with his former band mate from Ultravox (with whom he also released one album), Sam Blue, and played on Hugo Valenti‘s (better known just as Hugo) first album. He has appeared on several other albums over the years and has recently returned to Dare and is featured on their last phenomenal album ‘Sacred Ground‘.
Suffice it to say, the man is a hell of a guitar player and seeing his name attached got my attention. I also saw that one of Burns’ former band mates from Dare and Ten, drummer Greg Morgan, a man who has always done an excellent job behind the kit, was involved. And after seeing that Alessandro Del Vecchio’s name was attached to the project I pre-ordered the album even before hearing a thing from it.
The lead singer, one Nigel Bailey, I had never heard of prior to this release, but given the sheer talent that had tied themselves to the record I did not have any fear of disliking this new comer. I was not disappointed in the least.
It wasn’t until a few weeks after ordering that I heard the first taste of music from the record, the first track and single ‘Trouble In A Red Dress‘. The music video released and I watched it the day it came out and time moved to a crawl waiting on my copy of the album to arrive.
I loved the song. It was catchy as hell, hard rocking and featured some excellent guitar work from Burns. And what a great voice behind the mic! My first thought after hearing not even half of the song for the first time was “where has this man been!” Bailey has a tremendous voice, albeit not a huge range, but Nigel proves here just how to make a great melodic rock record without having to introduce some ear shattering high notes into the mix.
So I received my album, tore into it and popped it into the player.
Okay, so after the first track ended I was admittedly underwhelmed on first listen to the rest of the album.
But let me explain…
This was not due to a lack of great material on the record, but due to my expectations after having heard only one track. I went into the record expecting 12 more tracks just like ‘Trouble In A Red Dress‘ and that is not what I got.
That first track is exactly what you would expect from a single. It has hit written all over it (within the melodic rock world) and I was expecting more like that but instead the majority of the album is a bit less in your face rock n’ roll and not as aggressive as that song. But after giving it another chance, then another and another, I moved past my initial expectations of the album, gave the rest of the record a chance on it’s own and found myself thoroughly enjoying the album on it’s own merits and not what I had dreamed up in my head of what it was going to sound like prior to hearing it.
And I am so very happy that I did not stop after my first listen and shelf the album thinking it was a let down, because it is nowhere close to being that and is in fact one excellent melodic rock album.
‘Hold Me Down‘ and ‘Twisted Soul‘ continue with the rocking nature of ‘Trouble In A Red Dress‘, but not as aggressive as that song, as I have said. Both are great rockers and feature some excellent work from all of the members, the latter sees Burns showing off his considerable chops on guitar once again, something that we are blessed to hear often throughout the album.
‘Winter Sun‘ sees Burns and Morgan sharing a bit of their inner Dare as it is easy to hear this being sung by Darren Wharton. It is a lovely ballad with a terrific delivery from Bailey and it leads us into ‘Just A Man (Not Divine)‘, another great upbeat track that is one of my favorites.
‘Holy Water‘ brings us back to full-on rocking territory with a great groove and more excellent guitar work from Burns.
‘Two Hearts Beat As One‘ takes things down a couple of notches with a radio rock like mid-tempo ballad.
‘Kathmandu‘ has an almost epic feel to it but honestly this is my least favorite from the album. Nigel delivers in spades here vocally, but the song itself just never reaches the strength of the rest of the album for me personally. Still, not a bad track.
‘Made For One Another‘ is a great love ballad with passionate lyrics that leads us into my second favorite song of the album, ‘Magdalene‘, another fine rocker with a fantastic chorus and some great choir-like backing vocals.
‘Don’t Let Me Fall‘ is a beautiful, more mid-tempo track that takes us into the fast-paced rocker ‘Hellfire Highway‘. This track features some fantastic work from Morgan and Burns and is another great addition to the record.
The album ends with ‘Sicilian Kiss‘, a very beautiful instrumental piece featuring all of these superb musicians performing spectacularly. A great end to a great album.
‘Trouble In A Red Dress‘ still remains my favorite track from the record to this day, but after getting past what expectations my mind had built up I found this album to be one incredible effort from the guys and a job well done by these amazing artists.
Burns has since joined back up with Darren Wharton and Dare, Nigel Bailey released his first solo album, ‘Long Way Down‘, later the same year. Alessandro Del Vecchio is as busy as ever of course and to be honest, I am not sure what Greg Morgan is up to these days, but it is yet to be seen whether we will be gifted with another release from these guys or not. But while we wait to find that out then make sure you pick this album up if you do not have it in your collection yet.
Nigel Bailey more than proved himself with this album. I am not sure where he was before this record, but he proved that he 100% belongs in this genre, a genre that has seen, and still sees, the greatest singers the world has ever seen.
As with all great melodic rock, this album is all about great vocals, real life lyrics and hooks galore and it delivers on all counts. Don’t miss out on this one.
‘Trouble In A Red Dress’.
‘Just A Man (Not Divine)’.
‘Don’t Let Me Fall’.