FM – Thirteen

FM’s Thirteenth album doesn’t mean its unlucky. In fact its the finest of this version of FM

Said in my best Smashy and Nicey voice “FM are probably one of my favourite bands of all time, probably of all time mate!” Just like Mervs missus’s band, FM never let me down, especially live. OK I have selective memory with Dead Mans Shoes, but there are still a couple of belters on that album (Sister and Tattoo Needle). So, this thirteenth studio album from FM is aptly called, well, er…..’Thirteen’. I’d like to have been there for that meeting.

This current version of FM is the most stable in the bands illustrious history. The vastly underrated rhythm section of Jupp/Goldsworthy are firmly behind the wheel and Steve ‘The Voice’ Overland is still here, sounding as good as ever. He sits comfortably alongside Gramm, Perry, Hughes, Dio and Coverdale, and that is how high a regard I hold him in. Drop in Jem Davis adding sumptuous layers and Jim Kirkpatrick (still the new bloke) who has turned up yet again with a suitcase full of riffs and melody, and this magic recipe has delivered the best FM album since Metropolis, possibly after Tough It Out (and this assessment is just after a single listen) and instantly gets into my top 4 FM albums of all time, and could go higher after repeated listens.

Opening track ‘Shaking The Tree’ shows that FM have lost nothing of their vim and vigor. Its fair to say this is one of the finest openings since ‘Tough It Out’. Jem Davis add some nice keyboards to this song and he threads through the whole album like a champion sewing bee. Proving that its not just the one song being great, ‘Waiting On Love’ shows why they still are one of the finest bands to come out of Blighty. Mr Overland sounds at his absolute best and the fab 5 harmonies wash over me like a coveted security blanket. I don’t think there is a chink in his armour. ‘Talk Is Cheap’ has a tougher edge to it and ‘Turn This car Around’ is something that Don Henley would have killed his granny for in 1986. ‘Love and War’ takes me back to the very underrated ‘Run No More’ from ‘Aphrodisiac’. ‘Every Man Needs A Woman’ is a barnstorming track, and is Jim Kirkpatricks tribute to EVH. And nails it. I’ve never quite understood the phrase ‘Fight Fire With Fire’ because surely you just get more fire! Its the kind of song that would have adorned an 80s B movie. That is no insult when you listen to soundtracks like ‘The Wraith’. The final track ‘Be True To Yourself’ has a bit of a proggy undertone to it, only with harmonies a plenty and rounds off a cracking album.

To summarise, Overland is still one of the best vocalists of all time, the harmonies are to die for, Kirkpatrick’s playing gets better with each album, (not that he was shite before!) and the understated rhythm section of Jupp and Goldsworthy are the meat and bones of FM.

FM have brought their ‘A game’ for ‘Thirteen’ as the quality of songs are probably the best that this version of FM have put together. I have waxed lyrical about some of the previous FM albums, but this one is the absolute bollocks!

Tracklisting –
Shaking The Tree
Waiting On Love
Talk Is Cheap
Turn This Car Around
Love And War
Long Road Home
Be Lucky
Every Man Needs A Woman
Just Got Started
Fight Fire With Fire
Be True To Yourself

Needle In The Groove’s Top 10 Albums of 2021

My top 10 albums of 2021.

Well grapple fans (an up to date reference for the kids!), here we are at the dying embers of 2021 and thinking at the same time last year we were all predicting we would all be back to normal, everyone fully vaccinated and living like to the full. Well thanks to Covid-19 mutating like, well Covid-19, here we are a year down the line, all pretty much locked up as we were last Christmas. Gigs opened up for a couple of months and I snuck in 3 before the UK government made it pretty much impossible to go see a gig from Boxing Day onwards.


Thankfully bands didn’t let this affect them and it was a very strong year for releases. Most of the bands on this list were albums purchased in 2021, so there will not be a review on the site for further details. Where there is a review I will attach a link. It’s far from me to criticise, so if you have brought an album out in 2021, well done to you all.


It was also good to hear only yesterday that vinyl sales were up in the UK, with them making up 23% of all sales, which is 14 years of continuous growth, and CDs seeing the lowest number of sales since 1984, just one year after they were introduced to the UK. This increase is probably down to two factors – Adele and Abba. I don’t think my haul of over 200 albums bought in 2021 made a dent in the numbers.


I’m sure vinyl sales would be a lot higher were it not for manufacturing issues, PVC shortages and the fact that demand is outstripping supply by 2:1. If you have a spare couple of million lying down the back of the sofa, build a vinyl pressing plant. You can’t fail. For some reason, probably because they were part of a ‘bundle’, over 190,000 tapes were sold in 2021, their biggest selling year since 2003. When compared to the streaming monsters however, its bugger all as the likes of Spotify, Amazon, Deezer etc etc had an 81% share of the market.

Anyway onto my top 10 albums of 2021……

10. Lifesigns – Altitude

I was new to the Lifesigns party in 2021 but even from the first listen I was hooked. Its a really great album, and John Young is now a firmly established name in the Chesworth household.

9. The Dead Daisies – Holy Ground

The Dead Daisies were good, then they became excellent. Why? Well Glenn bloody Hughes only went and joined them. The ‘voice of rock’ added his Glenn Hughes-ness to TDD and the result is the fab. The man is the Tinkerbell of rock, adding a drop of fairydust to take TDD up a notch above anything they had done before this point

8. Thunder – All the Right Noises

Considering I was at their last ever gig a few years back, Thunder’s return and resurgence has been a great one, with ATRN sitting nicely near the summit of Thunders best works. It’s that good.

7. Dirty Honey – ST

Dirty Honey hit the ground running with their cracking EP. Their debut album picks up where the EP left off. Self produced and financed, they want to take care of their own destiny. In Mark LaBelle they have a singer who can challenge some of the greats. 70s rock is alive and well. (Fun fact – their single from the EP ‘When. I’m Gone’ was the first ever single from an unsigned band to top the Billboard Rock Chart). My only gripe is the album is too short! I’ve had longer shits.

6. The Night Flight Orchestra – Aeromantic II

If your idea of melodic rock heaven is parpy keyboards and songs that sound like they were written and performed in the 1980s, then look no further. TNFO make every song sound like it was written for the Rocky film franchise and 80s B movies when the likes of Paul Sabu, Lion and Stan Bush were regular contributors.

5. Myles Kennedy – The Ides Of March

This is the album I waited 11 years for. Myles’s debut was good and all, but with TIOM he came out of the blocks like a stabbed rat. More power and welly, and in the title track, he has a song that is a close second to ABs Blackbird. ‘The Ides Of March’ track is completely all over the place. No wonder he hardly plays it live, but when he does…..its a thing to behold.

4. Leprous – Aphelion

Leprous is another bands that I came to the party late with. Having heard ‘Pitfalls’ first, I was smitten. With ‘Aphelion’, the feeling was identical. I can see why fans are not too hot when comparing the 5 albums before ‘Pitfalls’ to the latter two new ones, but for me ‘Aphelion’ is a brilliant album. OK its all about Einar Solberg and he clearly holds the keys to the castle, but the performances of all the guys is something to behold. They are brilliant, and they bloody well know it.

3. Plush – ST

I’ve been a fan of Moriah Formica’s ever since she appeared on a Michael Sweet album back in 2016. She is a very talented singer/songwriter and when someone of her age can tackle Ann Wilson songs with ease, you know they are special. She is surrounded with some amazing talent in Plush – Brook Colucci, Ashley Suppa, and Bella Perron. Considering they were all under 21 when the album dropped in October, the results are stunning. A band so young shouldn’t be this good with their first album.

2. Iron Maiden – Senjutsu

OK its another dinosaur of a band up at the sharp end of the poll for the second year running. After a 6 year gap Iron Maiden didn’t need to ever make an album again. But they did, and its a belter. OK, its no ‘Powerslave’ or ‘Piece Of Mind’. Its about as diverse as Steve Harris and Iron Maiden get, and that is a good thing indeed

  1. Nestor – Kids In A Ghost Town

This album simply ticked all the boxes for me – great gongs, great vocals, set in the 80s and some of the best videos this side of Van Halen and David Lee Roth. A lot of bands try to recreate the 80s heydays but few succeed. Lets face it, some of the lyrics are corny, but they are delivered in a style and knowing nod to the past that you are just swept along for the ride. The sign of a good album is one you can’t stop playing, and with KIAGT its hardly been off rotation. They even roped in Sam Fox for the best ballad I’ve heard in a number of years, ’Tomorrow’. I can’t wait for album No.2

Groundbreaker – ‘Soul To Soul’ Album review

If you liked the debut, you’ll absolutely love ‘Soul To Soul’. Quality AOR from Groundbreaker and Overland

Buy here – https://www.frontiers.shop/search?sSearch=groundbreaker

By Paul Chesworth

Unless you’re a fan of melodic rock/AOR, then you won’t be aware of one of the hardest working men in British rock music, one Steve Overland. Outside of FM, he has a CV that few can muster – The Ladder, Shadowman, Ozone, Lonerider, and his own project, simply called Overland. Not including all the albums he has guest appeared on, sings with The Staz Band, and has done shed loads of tribute songs, AND sang the theme to Galaxy Rangers! Phew. Known to his bandmates and supporters of FM as ‘the voice’ its a title that is very aptly bestowed, given we are in a world where platitudes are handed out like sweets.

‘Soul To Soul’ is a grand title for Overlands blues/soul vocal stylings. The debut included Robert Sall (Work Of Art) and Alessandro Del Vecchio (production). Sall has gone, joining this time on the songwriting side and is Stefano Lionetti (Lionville), Pete Alpenborg (Arctic Rain), Jan Akesson (Infinite & Devine), and Kristian Fyhr (Seventh Crystal). The line up includes Sven Larsson (ex-Street Talk) on guitars, Nalley Pahlsson (Therion) on bass, Herman Furin (Work Of Art) on drums, and Alessandro Del Vecchio on keyboards.

On to the stuff that matters. The music. The appetite was well and truly whetted back in August when the video for ‘Standing On The Edge Of A Broken Dream’ dropped. Its massive slice of pure and polished AOR. Its somewhat akin to FMs debut and the more recent efforts by bands like W.E.T, WOA, and Perfect Plan. An opener wouldn’t be an Overland special without the obligatory ‘whoa-ohs’™️. ‘Soul To Soul’ opens with a lovely parpy keyboard, and sees Overland hitting notes that I didn’t think possible from him. Its also worth mentioning Sven Larsson’s sterling guitar work. There’s a couple of obligatory ballads in ‘Captain Of Our Love’ and ‘Fighting For Our Love’ and because of Overland they are elevated and could appear corny had anyone else tackled them, such is the gravitas he brings to the table.

It’s on the polished, and punchy numbers that Groundbreaker truly shine. ‘Evermore’ picks up the tempo and has a good chorus. Its as close to FM as Groundbreaker gets. Overland himself gets to shine by playing lead guitar on Wild World. It borders into fm-radio territory and that’s not a bad thing to say by any means. ‘Carrie’ (not that one, or the other one) ups the ante, and Larsson wrings the neck off of his guitar. It’s a cracking little song. ‘It Don’t Get Better Than This’ has great harmonies and reminds me of The Storm. ‘Theres No Tomorrow’ keyboard sound is straight out of the iSPY book of Michael Bolton songs (that’s a reference few will get unless you’re over 50!). It’s a great song and my fave of the bunch. ‘When Lightning Strikes’ has a great melody and nice layered harmonies with now obligatory searing Larsson guitar solo. Its formulaic, but it’s one hell of a formula. ‘’Til The End Of Time’ is solid enough, but it’s on the final song ‘Leap Of Faith’ where it is a prime example of Overlands ‘cream on top of the milk’ analogy. It’s a fine song to end a mighty fine album.

If you love your pure AOR in bands like Signal, Bad English, Alias, LeRoux and Unruly Child, then look no further than ‘Soul To Soul’ It may not break into many peoples top 10s but it certainly will do on mine come December

Anything Michael Bolton can do, so can Overland, only sometimes a lot better but without Bolton’s bank balance. The man should be a household name. Well you are in our house son.

I liked the debut, but this one comes with knobs on!

9/10

Tracklisting –
Standing On The Edge Of A Broken Dream
Soul To Soul
Captain Of Our Love
Evermore
Wild World
Carrie
Fighting For Love
It Don’t Get Better Than This
There’s No Tomorrow
When Lightning Strikes
Til The End Of Time
Leap Of Faith

Nestor – ‘Kids In A Ghost Town’ Review

Many have tried to recreate the glory days of 80s melodic rock/hair metal and few have succeeded. Nestor have nailed it with ‘Kids In A Ghost Town’. Its bloody marvellous!

I’ve been reviewing albums for almost 15 years now, and occasionally an album is sent to me that completely blows me away. Usually its from an unknown band or artist. In this instance the band is called Nestor. Its not just me who knows this fact, with three previously released singles this year and close to a million plays combined for the songs and music videos, the hype is enormous for the upcoming album ‘Kids In A Ghost Town’ which is due to be released on the 22nd October.

I asked Nestor’s vocalist Tobias on the band name as I thought it might be taken from Greek mythology, “Exactly, the name comes from Greek mythology and refers to an elder, a wise old man and all that, but us in the band are all big Tintin fans so the name is taken from Captain Haddock’s butler in the comic books, his name is Nestor and he’s a really cool character, haha!” I thought I’d heard that name before as I used to own about a dozen Tin-Tin books myself. Nestor was formed back in 1989 by five childhood friends in their hometown of Falköping, Sweden. But like most dreams of becoming rock stars, theirs faded away with time – but their friendship remained, as did their love of music. Now over three decades later the members have taken the opportunity to reunite the band! I for one am bloody glad they did as ‘Kids In A Ghost Town’ will sit at the top of the best album list for many a melodic rock fan come the end of this year.

‘One The Run’ is one of the best opening stacks I’ve heard in quite some time. A dainty piano opening before a battering salvo of guitar riff and drums beats you into submission. The accompanying video is a true homage to 80-s vidz and would happily sit in the soundtrack to Turbo Kid. You have to check out the stripped back piano version on YouTube which is absolutely brilliant. I immediately fell in love with the tone and warmth of Tobias Gustavsson’s vocals.

Even a song with a corny lyric like ‘she’s got eyes like Demi Moore and a body like Sharon Stone….she’s a perfect 10!’ can’t detract from the quality. It still hits the mark. Samantha Fox proves to be an inspired choice for the duet ‘Tomorrow’. As I’ve got older I steered away from ballads but this one is an absolute knockout.

Apart from the aforementioned songs the other nuggets are the glorious anthem ‘1989’; ‘It Ain’t Me’ has the orchestration that could put in on a Bond movie; the galloping title track ‘Kids In A Ghost Town’; the chorus of ‘Stone Cold Eyes’ elevates a good song into a great one; and ‘These Days’ would have been a big hit in any year beginning with ‘Nineteen-Eighty-Something’.

Melodic Rock/AOR is the poor relation of probably every musical genre on the scene today. It wasn’t that popular when it was popular! That said, those like me that love it have been hit with many a pretender these last 30 years who promised much and faded away or just didn’t deliver. These guys are the real deal. I hardly give away top marks for an album (13 times in 14 years), and this gets top marks. Everyone gets credit – the keyboards are high in the mix, guitar solos are shredding, harmonies are to die for, a wonderful combination, and the vocals are crisp, warm and clean.

In 2021 Nestor’s ‘Kids In A Ghost Town’ will be as coveted as Red Rackhams Treasure.

10/10

Tracklisting –
Fanfare For The Reliable Rebel (Intro)
On The Run
Kids In A Ghost Town
Stone Cold Eyes
Perfect 10 (Eyes Like Demi Moore)
These Days
Tomorrow (Feat. Samantha Fox)
We Are Not OK
Firesign
1989
It Ain’t Me

Nestor Are –
Jonny Wemmenstedt (guitar)
Mattias Carlsson (drums)
Tobias Gustavsson (vocals)
Marcus Åblad (bass)
Martin Frejinger (keyboards)

http://instagram.com/nestor_theband
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Stardust – ‘Highway To Heartbreak’

Stardust – Highway to Heartbreak

Lockdown has been a bitch eh? For me cancelled gigs and no Solid Rock in Glasgow has been the hardest part of the “new normal”. Let’s be serious it is not the new normal, it’s a temporary state. Anyway music for me has been a lifeline but despite that I’ve wallowed in nostalgia and not reviewed anything new for months. I couldn’t be ar*ed and when I gave myself a massive kick up the butt I was too late for the new Perfect Plan album, I was a bit in despair and then Frontiers via Gary Levermore sent another chance.
Well let’s just say the wait for me personally was worth it and I was intrigued by the first album by a Hungarian band called Stardust.

As an enthusiastic amateur I review bands by just listening to the tracks, will read the Frontiers blurb but do nothing else than just listen rather than a forensic search which will undoubtedly influence my listening.

Well thank you Gary (and Paul Chesworth for nagging me to actually write something). Stardust is the AOR/Melodic album of the year, name a year it will be still be up there. A stunningly wonderful piece of music.

The Frontiers promo said “hooky choruses, beautiful keyboards and vocal harmonies”. Hooky to me reminds me of Only Fools and Horses as meaning “dodgy, not quite legal”. Well I would describe the choruses as being sublime, pristine and more catchy than a disease off a hooker. I played the album the first time working from home to drown out my wife doing her contact centre job. Headphones in, sound turned up and BANG. What the actual fu*k was I hearing? I was blown away and after 3 or 4 songs thought that this has to bottom out but no, it just kept coming and I repeated it numerous times. My wife took the huff, “Would you rather spend your lunchbreak listening to that stuff rather than talk to me?” – Er yes.

So don’t feel the need to read my clumsy attempts to describe each track, just buy the bloody thing, you will not be disappointed.
I’m left with a few questions and thoughts:

  • Since when did Hungary name kids: Adam Stewart, Ben Martin, Dave Legrand, Facey and Tim Keeley?
  • After finally tracking the band on Google how are they not better known?
  • Also I now understand how good the sound is, they’re basically classically trained musicians. Every one of the band contributes to make this album a classic.
  • I also now get the Toto vibe.
  • Ben Martin the bass player’s first album was ACDC – Black Ice, I have underpants older than that album.
  • Oh, and my wife saw the promo pics and now thinks she might want to visit Hungary

Anyway my thoughts on the tracks are as follows:
Runaway – A dramatic intro of atmospheric haunting sci-fi effects launches into classic melodic rock vocals over a heavier than expected bass and guitar although the keyboards are used to great effect to layer the song nicely. And we’re off, a touch of multiple melodic sounds and it’s better than decent.


Heartbreaker – Yes, that ‘Heartbreaker’ by Pat Benatar. Its got nice drum intro, menacing “Heartbreaker” chant and again a heavy guitar and bass line with the drum intro setting the tone, with drum driven vibe. “Heartbreaker, Dream maker, love maker, don’t you mess around with me”.

Bullet To My Heart – wow by now I’m getting seriously into this band, the screaming guitar note reminiscent of a Van Halen guitar scream before the song slams into some AOR layered sounds, the vocals wouldn’t be out of place on a Journey track and the chorus is as catchy as f..k. The vocals of Adam Stewart sit nicely and rule the roost.

Perfect Obsession – Acoustic sounding guitar with a wonderful jangle to the riff and smoky vocal that would sit comfortably on any melodic masterpiece, I’m racking my head to link it to other bands, it certainly has the 80’s US AOR vibe and I’m loathe to mention the likes of Toto, Age of Reflection, Poison, Warrant etc but I will.

2nd Hand Love – a lovely gentle guitar solo beginning and then we’re away again. I still think of Don Henley and Bryan Adams feel especially the lead into the chorus. The lyrics are cleverly written not clichés. Another guitar solo that compliments the song and doesn’t take over.

Shout It Out – rockier but with a classic chorus as if a title like Shout It Out could have anything else, catchy with the backing vocals pure class. It did remind somewhat of Myke Gray and his track Shout which is no bad thing in my book. It will be a classic played live.

Can’t Stop Loving You – a solid ballad with Stewart’s vocals just perfect. The harmonies again, are spot on.

Eye To Eye – let’s rock. A full on blast of rock, keyboard and guitar solo and a real quirky vibe.

Hey Mother – Styx/Toto feel with the real melodic feel of the guitars in the background. Top guitar solo and to me it reminded me of Work of Art as the keyboards are superb. “Hey Mother can you rescue me”, well sorry Mum, that ship has sailed. It as if Lars Safsund, Tommy Shaw and Steve Lukather had a ménage a trots and the resulting baby would be this!

Blue Jeans Eyes (Bonus Track) – I always wonder what a bonus track is. To me it fits in nicely, “time after time” as a lyric reminds me of Cyndi Lauper but that’s where the comparison ends. The guitar sound is punchy and the chorus is nearly as good as the wonderful guitar solo. Blue Jeans Eyes is a great description to use

The River Is Rollin’ – As there is no “G” on Rollin you know this gonna have a real Americana vibe, it doesn’t disappoint. A great end to what is a wonderful piece of AOR/melodic rock. If you close your eyes you are back to Boys Of Summer and the lyric of a young girl growing up with the attention of jerks in leather jackets who just want to jump her bones but she’s independent and is uninterested is wonderful.

Stunning stuff and cap doffed.

10/10 – it’s a classic.

Review by Lawrie

Track list:
Runaway
Heartbreaker
Bullet To My Heart
Perfect Obsession
2nd Hand Love
Shout It Out
Can’t Stop Loving You
Eye To Eye
Hey Mother
Blue Jeans Eyes (Bonus Track)
The River Is Rollin’


Line-up:
Adam Stewart – Vocals, rhythm guitars
Ben Martin – Bass
Dave Legrand – Keyboards
Facey – Guitars
Tim Keeley – Drums

 

Perfect Plan – ‘Time For A Miracle’ Album Review

Sophomore release from Scandi AOR rockers Perfect Plan. Its heavier than the debut and that in itself is worthy of the score.

Perfect Plan – Time For A Miracle

Blummin’ ‘eck. Two years have shot by since the delights of the Perfect Plan debut, and in ‘In And Out Of Love’ it was one of the melodic rock anthems of 2018. So has two years done anything for them? Well, its No.2/sophomore album/2nd album syndrome, where you can soon tell if the songs on the second are not as finely tuned or honed as the originals, as they (the debut songs) could have been in development for years. I’m a firm believer that cream rises to the top, and with a singer like Kent Hilli on board, that Perfect Plan will have no such problems. So. fingers crossed, eh?

Well, if you’re going to rip off a band, then you might as well take a song from 1984 and hope the likeness isn’t remembered due to bands and fans either being

a) dead now, b) suffering from early onset dementia, or c) just punch drunk because of Covid. Well you can’t fool me, you pesky Scandinavians! If you think you’ve heard the drum intro to ‘Time For A Miracle’ it’s because you have. It’s pretty damn similar to the Scorps ‘Crossfire’ and nearly sent me round the twist thinking where I’d heard it before. The similarity ends there though, as beyond the drum intro is a finely executed song with single written all over it. ‘Better Walk Alone’ is upbeat and raids Lou Gramms note book (almost) for ‘When we make love you know it’s all understood’. OK so I’m a bit picky, its them, not me. ‘BWA’ is Giant, Steelhouse Lane and Survivor all rolled into one. The sound is great considering its probably on a shoestring compared to budgets of the 80s. Two songs in, its heavier than the debut, and that for me is fooking great!

‘Heart To Stone’ evokes memories of Bon Jovi’s ‘Runaway’ and that dear reader, is no bad place to pitch your tent. ‘Fighting To Win’ is the inevitable ballad. Piano and vocals kick it off, before everyone wades in for the chorus. I’m getting less tolerant of ballads as I’m getting older, but its part and parcel pretty much of most melodic bands repertoire so I admit its my problem. It’s like Dave Bickley got the call. ‘Every Time We Cry’ gets PP back on track with more pace and some decent vocals from Hilli. More guitar, less parpy-ness. ‘What About Love’ again follows a music by numbers and is good, but I’m looking for ‘great’ And half-way through I don’t yet have a stand out or goose-bumpy moment. That is until ‘Nobody’s Fool’. It’s a blues tinged number that is more rock ‘n’ roll than anything so far, and rocks more than it rolls. ‘Living On The Run’ picks up the torch from ‘Nobody’s’ and had these two been on ‘Side 1’ to use an analogy, my appetite would be well and truly whetted!! ‘Just One Wish’ evokes Robin Beck and Signal to good effect. ‘Don’t Blame It On Love Again’ is anthemic enough to make another single choice and Hilli’s vocals are superb. ‘Give A Little Lovin’’ is energetic, and Hilli again sings his arse off. Let’s face it, when doesn’t he? ‘Don’t Leave Me here Alone’ has more vim and vigour and is more of a stirring ballad with a nice guitar solo. 

To be honest, Hilli sounds great, the production excellent, and its because of the heavier songs in the latter half of ‘TFAM’ that make it for me. Its polished AOR by numbers, and it will easily make lots of fans Top 10 lists come the year end. 

To make a comparison, if you currently have a Survivor/Jim Peterik sized hole in your life, then Perfect Plan have the shovel. Its good, but bands like HEAT and Vega just do it that little bit better. 

8.5/10

Review by Paul Chesworth

Tracklisting-

Time For A Miracle

Better Walk Alone

Heart To Stone

Fighting To Win

Every Time We Cry

What About Love

Nobody’s Fool

Living On The Run

Just One Wish

Don’t Blame It On Love Again

Give A Little Lovin’

Don’t Leave Me Here Alone

Perfect Plan – 

Kent Hilli – Vocals

Rolf Nordström – Guitar

Leif Ehlin – Keys

Frederik Forsberg – Drums

Mats Byström – Bass

Room Experience – ‘Another Time And Place’ Review

This Friday sees the release of the sophomore album from Room Experience, more of those pesky Italians single handedly (as a nation) trying to keep melodic rocks flame burning – not as a flicker, but a full on Gas Mark 9. It’s still the brain child of Gianluca Firmo, who again plays keys, BV’s and has one song of his own to sing (Euro bonus track), and he has blackmailed his friends for another outing of melodic mayhem. Back in the hot seat is David Readman, and he is a fine choice of vocalist for any project. Also along for the ride again are Davide Barbieri (keys and BVs), Steve De Biasi (guitars), Pierpaolo Monti (drums) and noob to the set up, Simon Dredo (bass)

There’s also a host of guests itching to get involved, such as Ivan Gonzalez, Sven Larsson, Stefano Zeni, Chitarra Matteo Serra, Lorenzo Fodda, Marcello Sperra, and no Italian project would be complete without the addition of Alessandro Del Vecchio.

I think the title of the album (Another Place And Time) is obviously a nod to days gone by where an album project like this would probably have been lapped up had it been 1986, but unfortunately those days are long gone. Even now (May) and the rest of the year will be a completely different time to what it was in February. We are in strange times indeed. Thankfully people are still producing music even if gigging is off the table for the time being. At least more of us are sitting at home able to listen and discover bands like Room Experience. A couple of years down the line however, the name still hasn’t grown on me!

Take note other bands to up your game, the PR info that was issued with this album states that Room Experience is powered by Blåkläder Workwear. (I wonder if spandex and leg warmers are considered as workwear?). I expect Vega to respond and announce a deal with ‘Betty’s of Harrogate’.

Strike a pose……Vogue!

Anyway, onto the frivolity that is ‘APAT’. I’ve only had the chance to listen to it a couple of times and there’s some good stuff going on here. ‘Hear Another Song’ is a powerful opener. I was expecting to be overladen with layered keyboards, but its not the case here as is very much a pulsating rocker. ‘Wild Heart’ goes very much for the 80s keyboard style opening intro and settles into its groove. There a good enough mix of songs to keep the listener entertained – from the power ballads ‘The Distance’, ‘A Thousand Lands’ and the closer which is very Gary Moore guitar influenced, ‘Your Voice Inside’; uplifting ‘The Night Goes On’; strong choruses in ‘Disappointed’, and ‘The Miles That Make A Road’, and my personal favourites the 80s style powerful rockers ‘A Thousand Lies’, ‘Another Place And Time’, ‘Shout’ and the afore mentioned ‘Hear Another Song’.

All in all its a good album, very good even, and the playing is strong, Readman is a good choice for handling vocals, the guitar playing is excellent, and production polished, but not overly. Theres not a great deal to cheer us all up presently, but albums like this certainly can lift your spirits. Its nice for them to include a European bonus track for once, (which Gianluca handles his vocal duties impeccably), instead of the Japanese hogging the market! IN YOUR FACE PEOPLE OF JAPAN!!!!!!! Sorry, I don’t mean it (honest).

Joking aside, I’m a big fan of the work here and, if the guys ask me nicely, next time I visit Venice I’ll paint the band name on the side of the Rialto Bridge. Now that’s what I call an endorsement!

8.5/10

Tracklisting

Hear Another Song

Wild Heart

Disappointed

Strangers In The Night

The Distance

Shout

Another Place And Time

The Miles That Make A Road

The Night Goes On

A Thousand Lies

Your Voice Inside

The Distance (Lead Vocals Gianluca Firmo – European Bonus Track)

FM – ‘Synchronized’ Album Review

FM – Synchronized

In what currently seems like a pre-cursor to an impeding real-life zombie apocalypse where a strain jumps from animals to humans and mutates to kill 98% of the worlds pollution, its a bloody good job I can rely on certain things to comfort me – such as a new release from my all time faves, FM!

Its been a good 12-13 years since they returned for a headline gig at 2007s Firefest, and after the second-life release of ‘Metropolis’ in 2010 its been steady ahead and a consistent team for those onboard HMS FM. In fact, the output has been more prolific than it was and they are probably more in control of their destiny that at an other point since 1984, and has seen them grace stages they probably never thought was possible (Donington, Sweden Rock, and a long awaited debut in the US), and tours with luminaries such as Foreigner, Heart and Lizzy. Its a good time to be a fan!

For FM Part II, ‘Synchronized’ is this lines ups seventh studio release, their twelfth in total. It’s some going. If you’re a fan already then there’s a lot to like. ‘Synchronized’ is rightly the first song to be picked as a single, as its in the same vein as a ‘Blood and Gasoline’, ‘Tough Love’, ‘Tough it Out’ and fires along at a strong pace, led by Kirkpartick’s guitar and Davis’ keyboard. All of which is enveloped in Overlands vocals and the ‘gang of fives’ harmonies. It’s a cert for addition for the live shows. ‘Superstar’ is almost a departure for FM, its a mellow, pop-fuelled number that is certain of coverage on Radio 2 I suspect. I found it a bit too bland at first, but after a few spins it’s a definite grower, and more ‘one for the ladies’? I can already visage the video – filmed in Arizona (Blackpool) with a sweeping shot, (drone, not helicopter), followed by a top down Jag racing across Route 66 (A6). ‘Best Of Times’ follows on from ‘Superstar,’ and has a bit more vim and vigour, and without Overland singing his arse off, it would be average in any other hands. ‘Ghosts Of You And I’ is the first ballad, and its still very un-FM like. It’s not a bad thing, Im just taken a bit aback by the first few numbers being a shift from the norm. ‘Broken’ is upbeat and akin to what hit the Billboard charts mid-80s, and is ear candy of the highest order.

‘Change For The Better’ is a classy number and definitely channels Don Henley’s ‘Boys Of Summer’. ‘End Of Days’ goes for a ‘BIG’ sound from the off, with a nice ‘choppy’ guitar sound running through the whole song. ‘Pray’ sees Overland channeling his inner Sam Cooke and has all the hallmarks of a soulful/Blues STAX record from the 60s with a modern twist. It’s only missing a horns section and Steve ‘The Colonel’ Cropper, and it is a firm favourite for me. I.Loved. It. ‘Walk Through The Fire’ is bound to bring comparisons to Mr. Misters ‘Broken Wings’ thanks to Jem Davis’ ivory tinkling. It’s as 80s as a pair of Coverdale’s leg warmers and its all about the bridge and chorus, thus proving that the second half of ‘Synchronized’ is definitely on a roll.

‘Hell Or High Water’ is one of the heavier songs (in FMs world), it is built around the infectious chorus. ‘Angels Cried’ has a slide opening riff before settling into a bluesy, almost gospel ballad, with a side of Bon Jovi thrown in. Only, when BJ was good! Finally we are on to ‘Ready For Me’ is like FM of old, when every album or single had a B side like a Bad Company cover or BC inspired dong, and RFM is no exception and it finished the album on a positive.

Basically I take away my comment at the top of this review. Yes its a comfort for a new FM album, but it’s very different to anything they have put out before. That has thrown me a bit, which is both good, and also slightly puzzling to me. That in itself I think is a good thing, and that deserves a round of applause. It’s definitely a stronger period for me in the second half, as a few of the first half made me question if there was a pattern or new sound they were going after. It’s almost akin to when I heard SO for the first time. However, I’m positive that after many more listens, it will be a big hit with me. One thing is certain, Steve Overland never sounded so good.

No doubt Dave Ling will wank himself into a frenzy.

8/10

Tracklisting
Synchronised
Superstar
Best Of Times
Ghosts Of You And I
Broken
Change For The Better
End Of Days
Pray
Walk Through The Fire
Hell Or High Water
Angels Cried
Ready For Me