DRIVE SHE SAID - Pedal To The Metal (Review)

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Drive She Said
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Friday, April 15, 2016
I really wasn’t expecting much to be honest. I’m not sure why – maybe I had left over memories of the band’s last album from way back in 2003 or perhaps the horrid comeback album from Balance a few years back.
But I’m pleased to say that for the most part, my expectations have been exceeded.
Aside from band stalwarts Mark Mangold (keyboards, backing vocals) and Al Fritsch (vocals, backing vocals, guitar, bass), there are about 700 additional guest musicians appearing here, such as Ken Sandin bass; Pontus Engborg drums; Peter Yttergren drums; Kenny Aronoff drums; and Kurt Gellersted and Ricky Wheels guitars.
There are also no less than 8 backing vocalists including the talents of Goran Edman, Randy Jackson, Tomas Vikstrom, Peppy Castro and Ted Poley!
Anyway, what’s important is the music on offer and here we have a collection of very (totally and utterly) 80s sounding classic AOR tracks, complete with all the necessary pomp and excessive production fans of Drive, She Said might expect.
The totally 80s melodic hard rock of Touch opens the album and I know you will all think the same thing with that opening riff. Very familiar indeed!
I always find it funny when a melodic/AOR band talks about putting the ‘Pedal to the Metal’, but that’s exactly what happens with the title track here. No, it ain’t metal, but it certainly rocks pretty hard for these guys.
In R Blood is an immediate attention getting tune – a great pomp rocker with some blinding keyboards and over the top vocals and chorus. Nice guitar solo too.
Said It All is a great sentimental ballad in that classic 80s AOR style.
The production quality is pretty varied around the record and Writing on The Wall perhaps suffers the most, but what a glorious 70s pomp rocker this is. Full dramatic Styx organ in play and swirling keyboards all over the place. My favourite track alongside In R Blood.
Rainbows and Hurricanes is another varied song with pace changes and moody vocals, plus a dramatic heavier chorus. Another cool song.
Fiona comes back for the first time since the band’s sophomore record for the huge ballad In Your Arms. A tasty 80s light-AOR moment.
So far so good. But I’m not sure what happened next. This is one of those true What. The. Fuck. moments one sometimes encounters as a reviewer.
Track 10: I’m The Nyte and to a lesser extent, track 11: Lost In You are just fucking horrible. I mean bad. I mean catastrophically bad to the point you just wonder how anyone could let two such atrociously bad songs make the same album as the rest of the material.
Or maybe there has been a mastering error and two programmed-techno-dance-pop songs from a Bavarian DJ found their way on here by mistake?
Guys – not sure what you were thinking (or smoking) – but this is not DSS and I can’t imagine one single fan anywhere thinking these are two good songs.
The album closes with an acoustic ballad that really isn’t that exciting and doesn’t make up for the audio assault of the previous 2 songs. So for me this album is 9 tracks only and finishes with that fine ballad duet with Fiona.

A pretty good effort here – as long as you hit the stop button at the conclusion of track 9. The production quality doesn’t come close to most other titles in the marketplace and does vary from track to track, but there’s enough pomp and melody in the songs to forgive that.
I can’t forgive those two late album tracks though, thank God they did not have those further up in the order. How they got past quality control I don’t know.
But overall, pretty good job guys.