SEE BELOW TO ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW!

Ambition Ambition Frontiers Records
FRCD271
Produced By: Farbrizio Grossi

Running Time: 57.43

Release Date: January 27

Released:

Musical Style: AOR

Links: Frontiers
92%
Songs: 91%
Sound: 93%
It's probably a source of amazement to some that Ambition is finally being released! The much hyped project was first announced some 4 years ago now, as a comeback vehicle for the fabulous, but under appreciated AOR vocal God, Thom Griffin.
Over the last year or two, Ambition has been revised to first feature Mecca vocalist Joe Vana and then both the guys in a duet format, before reverting back to a Griffin only release.
However, a couple of strange quirks within this album mean that it is not solely a Thom Griffin project.
Following a familiar path set down previously by the record label, Ambition features a talent vocalist, a collection of obscure, classic era AOR tracks and musical input and production from Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi.
The first Ambition twist is the inclusion of a different guitarist than that on Grossi's usual team. Instead we have the guitar playing talents of Tommy Denander on board.
Yes, there is that name again. Tommy is a brilliant guitarist and has a definite ear for classic AOR, but I'm wondering if he may be spreading his talents to thinly.
His very distinct sound is everything AOR fans appreciate, but I would hate to see such a talent burn himself out. In the last few months we have had a new Radioactive release, the great Philip Bardowell album and in this month alone we have Tommy dominating tis project, plus the release of the Speedy Gonzales project and Frederik Slama's new AOR album (which also features Philip Bardowell!). That's three albums for three labels in the one month and there is still the new Stan Bush and Frederiken/Denander albums plus guest spots on the new Paul Stanley and Liberty & Justice albums to come in the first half of 2006!
That all said Tommy's work on Ambition is for me his best in recent memory and I have enjoyed it more than the Radioactive and AOR releases and as much as the Bardowell album. He is right on song here and the material featured suits his delivery to a tee. The fact his work is produced by someone other than himself has I think given it even greater impact and I make the suggestion to Tommy that he try such a tactic again.
The other twist within the album is the inclusion of one time Toto vocalist Jean Michel Byron. He performs two duets with Griffin (which provide minimal disruption to the enjoyment of Griffin's vocals) and gets his own time to shine when he sings lead vocals on the track Hunger.
I personally think Jean Michel Byron offers no value to this album. I can understand him guesting as he does on a couple of tracks, but to include a track where he features as lead vocalist is an insult to Thom Griffin who is without doubt the absolute star of this album. With 11 other songs on offer, leaving the Byron lead vocal track off altogether would have been a better decision.
So to Thom Griffin the man is a vocal God. His voice on this album is true ear candy.
Without his presence, this album could have been written off as a showcase for a bygone era, being that it is so obviously set in a mid-80s timeframe stylistically.
The songs are all so classically old-school in their delivery and listening to this is like forgetting that the 90s ever happened.
So what about the songs? As usual the sources vary, but two tracks are sourced from Joey Carbone, longtime Joseph Williams songwriting partner (No Wasted Moments and Together); while Swedish songwriter Christian Wolff supplies several great tracks - Hold On, Hypocrites, All I Need, Make it Alright, Too Much, Hunger and also featured is Brian LaBlanc of Blanc Faces.
The common thread between these songs is the quality. Yes, they are dated in style, but I didn't think I have heard a more suited collection of songs gathered for one of these projects.
Stated issues aside, this is a very fine record. If you are a fan of 80s AOR, then you won't find anything better than this release anytime soon.
Griffin sings his ass off and simply floats his glorious warm and passionate vocals over the songs provided which, despite their age, suit the project and the style perfectly.
This is so 80s in style, Grossi even adds in simple keyboard parts which add to the overall experience, but make the record even more user friendly for fans of the glory days of AOR.
The opening lines of the album give one reason to pause and wonder why Griffin isn't a bigger star and why he hasn't made more records. He has the perfect melodic rock voice and I hope it isn't 20 years until we hear him again!
I wouldn't describe this album as instant besides the immediate impact of the lead vocals. But it doesn't take long to grow and develop into a firm favourite.
Both Hold On and Hypocrites get the album off to a flyer and feature some glorious melodies. Byron's input on the bridge during Hypocrites is ok, but he is simply out sung by Griffin.
The softer and smoother Alone I Cry tempers the pace for a moment, allowing the chance for Griffin to deliver some seriously smooth vocals and great harmonies.
Shaping Fate & Destiny is one of the most blatantly 80s style songs here, but it features one of the best choruses for the album.
The Carbone supplied double header of No Wasted Moments and Together are like chalk and cheese. The former is a smooth Toto-like ballad, while the latter is one of the harder rocking tracks for the album and adds some much appreciated fire.
Closing the album is the first track ever recorded for the album the Vana/Griffin duet on the unreleased Mr Mister track Waiting In My Dreams.
The class of the song is such that I would have liked to hear more of the duo together, but I'm still more than satisfied with the album as it is.
The Bottom Line
Although the premise of the album sticks to an established format, and features a couple of quirks, such as the inclusion of vocalist Byron, the quality the end result is very satisfying.
The album drops a little in intensity towards the end, but the first 8 or 9 tracks are all perfect old-school AOR and any album with such fine lead vocals deserves such attention. Especially by those looking for high quality examples of classic 80s AOR
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Ambition

Line Up:
Thom Griffin: Vocals
Jean Michel Byron & Joe Vana: Vocals
Tommy Denander: Guitars
Masayoshi Yamasuka, Joachim Cannaiuolo: Drums
Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi: Bass, Keyboards

Essential For Fans Of:
Thom Griffin
Tommy Denander
Mecca
If you liked this release - also check out:
Mecca - Mecca
Track Listing
Hold On *
Hypocrites *
Alone I Cry
Shaping Fate And Destiny *
All I Need
Make It Alright *
No Wasted Moments
Together *
Too Much
Hunger
The Promise
Waiting In My Dreams (Bonus Track Europe)
* --*Best Tracks


02/07/06: Mike the Conqouror - mhiner@charter.net
Rating: 78
Very smooth AOR but can't hold my interest. Nothing that stands out to make reach back for this cd again. Now collecting dust on shelf after a few times through and likely to stay there.

09/05/06: Ton - o.herwijnen@chello.nl
Rating: 80
Some nice eighties aor. I like it but also some boring songs that doesn't work for me. TotallY: a nice effort with some good moments.

03/05/06: Tigran - tigran@home.se
Rating: 99
Absolutely superb! Almost a masterpiece...2 bad they didn't have Fergie F. for 2nd vocal instead of Jean Michel Byron who is anything else except a decent vocalist. Looking forward to Ambition 2. With MECCA this must be the best AOR Release lately...

15/03/06: lazur - lazur@mac.com
Rating: 100
Most classic rock fans probably think they have their collections completed by now, but without some Thom Griffin, (whether on Trillion's second album, or Ambition), they'd be wrong. Griffin is, to be blunt, the most underknown vocal master of the style.

02/03/06: Mark - mridout1@rogers.com
Rating: 97
Just got this Cd along with the new AOR and finally Pride Of lions Destiny Stone. All great Cd's!!!

As far as Ambition goes it is a very solid CD and Tommy does a great job riffing on some of the tunes and the Great Thom has never sounded better, he should do a follow-up to this CD, but this time with Vana. Byrons stuff is okay though and better than I expected. The stand out track for me is the Mister Mister unreleased cover track "Waiting in my Dreams" is stunning and well worth the price of admission. I really dig "All I Need" great funky tune and "Together" is very TOTO sounding. Perhaps one filler but that is it! A must buy

26/02/06: Figge - anderssonfigge@hotmail.com
Rating: 87
Great record, for what it is. That is old school AOR by the books. No surprises here and yes, we've heard it all before....but it's ver well done. Very good musicians, amazing vocals (Griffin IS a vocal god) and an immaculate production. What more can you ask for if you're into classic 80's AOR/melodic rock?

This one beats all the other recently released and praised albums in this genre, like Blanc Faces, Philip Bardowell, Radioactive, 91 Suite...hell I like it better than Pride Of Lions. Recommended!

Figge

Ps. trying to copy Newman??!?! WTF!

15/02/06: Freddy De Keyzer - freddk100@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
By far the best record released this year !, and it blows the new Toto out of the window !
Nearly 'perfect' AOR, with some westcoast influences !
Great vocals, great songs, great musianship and good production !
FANTASTIC !
I think Tinkan lives on another planet !
It's not as good as the MECCA record, but it's damn close !
BUY OR DIE !!!!!!!!

14/02/06: Gary - gary40@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
HAHAHA well mr/mrs(?) Tinkan..did you ever listen to the album? Thom Griffin has the power! What a great voice! This is a brilliant album and the songs are perfect AOR. New? NO it's not but i guess that's why i love it. Recommended.

14/02/06: Carl1 - rochford@noonan80.freeserve.co.uk
Rating: 90
I can't believe anyone who likes AOR would say this was boring, bland. Ok it's not original (what is these days ?) but everything is of such a high quality. Thom Griffin is awesome and he does have power when it's called for. He's not a screamer, he's a vocal god. For me it's far superior to the likes of Mecca and Blanc Faces etc. Also can't beleived the lack of support for this album, it seems everyone is falling over themselves to priase the new Toto cd when this is easily equal to it. As for them trying to copy Newman (see reviews) that just made me laugh, I doubt if anyone is going to try and copy anyone they would try to copy them.

13/02/06: Tinkan - tinkan999@hotmail.com
Rating: 25
very poor album of very poor songs. honest to god this album is
horrible with no sense of emotions or anything, the songs are
bland and unmemorable, the voice is smooth but lacks power,
the lyrics are predictable.

i don't like this album at all. MECCA was great..AMBITION is bad.
unrecommended.

13/02/06: Valium - Valium@tin.it
Rating: 75
good album, better than MECCA but kinda boring because we heard it all before..you know.. :\

Pro's:

1 - Excellent voice from Thom Griffin

2 - reminds me of NEWMAN (my favorite band) music/voice

3 - interesting concept

CONS :

1 - You heard it all before

2 - trying to copy NEWMAN

3 - gets boring quickly.

recommended for NEWMAN and MECCA lovers, enjoyable but not the best album ever and certainly 92% score is way too much IMHO.


ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW! (Ratings out of 100)
Name:

E-mail:

Rating:

Comment: