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Avalon Avalon: The Richie Zito Project Frontiers Records
FRCD303
· Produced By: Richie Zito

· Running Time: 53.35

· Release Date: September 22

· Released:

· Musical Style: AOR

· Links: Frontiers
90%
Songs: 94%
Sound: 85%
Avalon in the name bestowed upon the new Richie Zito project. But this is a little different than what might normally be expected of the famed producer. Avalon sees Zito return to his musician ways, playing guitar, bass, synth and even a mandolin, all the while producing the affair and writing the material. Check the production credits for Zito, you will always see that he is a very hands-on guy – helping with the co-writing and adding additional instrumentation to the albums he works on.
Here he gets to do it all, except sing. That's where AOR fans get a real bonus. Richie calls in all his friends from past projects and it is these singers that make the album what it is.
Zito is one of my favourite producers of all time. His work and his style are perfect to my taste. I don't think there is a more technically superior producer in the business and all his albums sound a million bucks! All except for this project! Yes, the one thing that confuses me most about Avalon is the occasionally questionable production quality.
One would think that Zito would have the ability and every desire to ensure something with his own name on it was as sonically perfect as his more famous work.
I think it all comes down to budget. Richie is used to working with major labels and major dollars. It is sad and unfortunately reality that there simply isn't the interest for an album like this outside these circles normally covered by this site.
So it all comes down to smaller budgets and smaller resources. That sad, the production really isn't that bad. It's just a little rough in places and across the album it does vary a little.
What exaggerates the problem is that the main two culprits are the opening track and track 3. The better produced songs are further back in the album. Plus, coming off a month of listening to Mike Slamer, just about anything is going to sound rough!
Track By Track:
Blue Collar opens the album in fine pure AOR style with a very smooth Hugo vocal up front. The production quality sounds a little rough to me, but the song is entirely enjoyable and features a very memorable and instant chorus.
Is He Better Than Me just adds more quality music to the great time vocalist Joe Lynn Turner is having these past few years. This is a great 80s sounding classic melodic rocker that starts slow but builds to a very commercial and catchy chorus. JLT sounds great as usual and the track itself is a perfect match to his own Sunstorm record.
Eddie Money makes the first of two appearances on Nightmare, but as much as I love Eddie, this track is very rough around the edges and I think it misses the mark somewhat. To jump to later within the album, it is on I Put My Life In Your Hands that everyone redeems themselves. This is a classic Eddie Money song and sounds like it could have been lifted directly off the brilliant Can't Hold Back record.
Jumping back to the middle of the album, Oh Samantha is a very fine AOR ballad featuring a finely tuned Joseph Williams. Great for JW fans.
Avalon is a moody, but uptempo AOR rocker featuring the always fantastic Danny Vaughn. Quite simply, this track is a must for all Vaughn fans.
Eric Martin contributes two lead vocals to the tracks of Avalon and he does not disappoint. The mid-tempo melodic rock anthem Life Got In The Way is a little rough as far as the sound quality, but brilliant for its melodic qualities.
Eric also closes the album with the very smooth pop ballad I Don't Want To Want You. Once again…essential for Martin fans.
Blue Monday again features Hugo, but alongside him is Giorgio Moroder. It's mainly Hugo here and the song is another fine uptempo melodic rocker.
The retro ballad Forever I Will has a touch of the blues and features Richie Kotzen. It is a little out of character from the rest of the album – such is Kotzen's distinct style and delivery.
At the end of the album we fine two amazing pure AOR tracks with the great Philip Bardowell on vocals. The another ballad Can't Forget You and the more straight forward Good Things Take Time are both very catchy and very memorable example of great AOR that mirror the sound of Bardowell's own solo album of last year.
The Bottom Line
This album is more about the songs and the performers rather than a super-slick big budget sound. As far as the songs go – you will be hard pressed to find a finer collection of old-school AOR songs.
The fine vocal performances and the satisfying sequencing of the songs makes for a very easy to listen to album and all in all, this is another must have for fans of traditional AOR.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Avalon

Line Up:
· Various: Vocals
· Richie Zito: Guitars, Bass, Synth, Mandolin
· Tommy Decker, Greg Bissonette: Drums
· Jason Turbin: Strings
· Joey Carbone: Piano

Essential For Fans Of:
· The Vocalists Assembled
· Classic style AOR
Track Listing
· Blue Collar *
· Is He Better Than Me *
· Nightmare
· Oh Samantha
· Avalon *
· Life Got In The Way *
· Blue Monday
· Forever I Will
· I Can't Forget You *
· I Put My Life In Your Hands *
· Good Things Take Time
· I Don't Want To Want You

--*Best Tracks


13/12/06: Kevin Betts - kevin.betts@gmail.com
Rating: 75
Bit of 'Curate's Egg' this one. Where it's great it's truly sublime but as Andrew and other reviewers have noted, some songs, performances and the production are lacking by comparison to other current AOR releases. 'Is He Better Than Me', 'Life Got in the Way' and 'I Can't Forget You' stand out and make the album worth buying.

27/11/06: Zok - micke_016@hotmail.com
Rating: 92
Yes this is realy back to the 80´s. Its over the record, also the production. But it great songs with great singers from start to finnish. And I liked it,. If you like this kind of music on this site I think you will like this.

14/11/06: Axe-Machine - info@hugomusic.net
Rating: 80
The songs on this one are pretty good, with my fave being 'Blue Collar', but I can't get over how BAD the production is considering the gold that this guy has produced. The sound spoils alot of what would have otherwise been really good songs. 80%.

10/11/06: CJ Plain - CJPlain@yahoo.com
Rating: 85
I was suprised by this CD. I have always loved most anything that Richie is involved with and this is no exception. I, like others though, was not at all impressed by the sloppy production and choice of songs. What are average songs though are saved by a cast of VERY awesome singers that all deserve far MORE credit than they get.

They need to clean the production up and re-release this with videos.

10/11/06: Paul - paul@pagrebo.com
Rating: 60
A great collection of songs, an even greater collection of guest vocalists, and a legendary producer... what could go wrong, right??? As Andrew said, the production on this cd is just sloppy. I just don't get it. BLUE COLLAR is not a great song, but it is doomed because Hugo's vocals sound like he's singing on the other side of the wall. IS HE BETTER THAN ME has a great vocal from JLT, but the sound is "tinny", and the song is sophmoric. NIGHTMARE is pretty generic sounding... nothing to really grab you. OH SAMANTHA has a rather muddy sounding piano leading the way. The song sounds like Toto doing the Boston song AMANDA. AVALON has a dependably steady vocal by Danny Vaughn, but again, the song lacks any hook. LIFE GOT IN THE WAY, for me, finally kicks this cd off. Nice performance by Eric Martin and no glaring production weaknesses. Hugo's return on BLUE MONDAY is an immprovement over the first track, although his vocals still aren't as clear as they could be. All in all, though, a better song and better production. FOREVER I WILL is a nice little bluesy ballad, though overproduction really distracts from the simplicity of the song. I CAN'T FORGET YOU is a highlight of the cd, albeit a slower mid-tempo track. Eddie Money's second vocal, I PUT MY LIFE IN YOUR HANDS, is an improvement over his first, but by this point I was left wondering if this cd was going to have that ONE track that made it all worthwhile. There's a HUGE production gaffe at the beginning of GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME, where the sound rises and falls inexplicably. The song isn't that great anyway, so why not. By now, I'm ready to give up, when Eric Martin closes out the cd with I DON'T WANT TO WANT YOU ANYMORE, which is probably the best track on the cd, if for no other reason than it's pretty much recorded straight up... no production snafus screwing it up. That said it's a good sappy ballad, but it's never a good thing when the best song on a rock album is a ballad... just my opinion.

All in all, this cd is listenable, but I don't think anyone's going to be playing this 3 months from now.

10/11/06: Nicodim - reverendnicodim@gmail.com
Rating: 80
Listen 2 it 2day. Mostly I liked the album, though there's a couple of songs I would like to left outside. Generally there's no bad songs at all, but if it only would be just a bit shorter (the length of the album) it could be much stronger, IMO.
The best tracks 4 me are Is He Better Than Me (awesome JLT job here!! One interesting note - listening 2 it and I found that it could be easily perfomed by ... Anastacia. :) Really! JLT sounds so similar to Anastacia on this track that remindes me her classic album of the same name), Nightmare, Avalon and Oh, Samantha. The last one is so unusual for this album, but I hooked on this however.


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