WON'T LIE DOWN
Eagle Records EAGCD 184
Produced by: Mike Slamer, Thompson
Released: Sept 3 / Website
This is a hard one to review. I can only hope you get to the end of this review and have an accurate picture of this release.|
This is big release as far as melodic rock goes, but it could have been bigger.
This is also a very good melodic rock album, but it could have been even better.
A brief history of the record: The project began as a joint Mike Slamer / Chris Thompson project and was signed to MTM Music.
As things progressed over an 12 month period, things changed and the style of the record was not as initially thought, with MTM eventually passing on the record, choosing rather to help license it out to a more suitable company.
Eagle Records in the UK would be that company to take up the option and have released the record.
The project title of Slamer/Thompson has also since disappeared. It is more geared towards being a solo release, with Chris taking greater control over it.
But for all intensive purposes, this is still a Slamer/Thomspon record, with Mike playing, co-writing and producing 12 of the albums 14 tracks. Only the last 2 tracks were added by a solo Chris Thompson.
The awesome critical praise of the two Steelhouse Lane records and Chris' participation in those albums with co-writing and backing vocal credits, provided the inspiration to team these two melodic rock legends up together.|
But I expect this record did not turn out to be as what many regulars to this site would have expected.
It is not a record of soaring AOR anthems like that of Steelhouse's Seven Seas - possibly the best AOR song written and released that year.
This album is far more diverse and is more pop crossed with hard rock, than AOR.
In places it rocks harder than anything Thompson has sung before and also matches some of the heaviest guitar work ever from Mike Slamer.
The problem? It's really hard to pin point and even harder to say, as some of these songs are absolute gems and the production and mix of the album is bloody perfect! But there is something about these songs that is stopping them from becoming instantly memorable.
The style of several tracks doesn't lend themselves to being the 'hummable' classics they should be. And in places, there just isn't the hooks you have come to expect from these two great artists to make you want to play them over and over.
Yet, because of the sheer class of Chris' booming all powerful voice and Mike's playing and production, you really do want to keep playing this.
I hope your understanding of what I trying to present to you is clear enough. It might be a bit clearer if I run through the songs.
Wasting Time rocks like nobody's business. Love it! Chris stretches like I haven't heard him sing before. A first class hard rocker in the vein of the opening number to Kane Robert's last album - which Mike also wrote and played on. Mike's guitar work on this track is second to none.
Can't Get A Hold On Love is a lot more laid back, with a more soulful approach and a somewhat bluesy approach, especially with the guitar playing.
Get Up And Dance features a big high-tech beat and danceable rhythm, some funky lead guitar work and a brass section and female backing vocals to boot. All to a heavy rhythm and production.
The trouble is I could possibly live without both these last two tracks.
Like Dust In The Light is the first ballad of the album and sees Chris sounding closer in vocal style to his more familiar melodic rock / AOR tone.
The track is a slow brooding number with a verse that is possibly more rich in melody than the chorus.
One Man Mission returns to the danceable funked up rock of Can't Get A Hold On Love and Get Up And Dance. While the beat is there, the tempo isn't, the track is fairly laid back overall.
All Over Me is a track that appeals to me a lot more. This is a heavier track with a heavier groove and a strong vocal. The song is somewhat catchier than the odd earlier number.
Now for the killer of the album. Won't Lie Down is a sensational hard rocker that works it's way from a solo vocal intro to a big defiant guitar driven rock song, to a frantic hard rocker with some fabulous backing vocals pitching in towards the frantic finish. More like this please!
Time for another ballad with the song Angel. It's another softer styled, quiet and reflective ballad. A good track, but lacks a big power ballad chorus.
Girls Kick Ass is one of the last songs add to the album. And I am glad they did. It didn't grab me at first, but it's a good fun mid-tempo hard rocking song.
Till The End is one of those empowering anthems that build from a soft beginning to the chorus that lifts your spirits and then back again. A great mature pop rock anthem with some complex musical arrangements from Mike Slamer and a very strong vocal from Chris.
Ticket To Thailand is another one of my favourite songs from the album. The song is slightly less guitar driven, right up-tempo and a good happy feel good rock song with a very active and complex rhythm section and a good hook.
You Got Me ends the Slamer/Thompson portion of the album with another funky uptempo hard rock song. A good value fun-to-listen-to track, but no huge hooks.
For whatever reason, Chris has decided to add to extra tracks to the album, from his own solo sessions. The style of these two songs are obviously quite different from those of the rest of the album.
Somebody is soft and blues/jazz number, with a laid back vocal all drenched in organ.
You / Me is 100% ballad, featuring a strong emotional vocal accompanied by a piano, in a style not dissimilar to something that could be used in a stage production. It's very dramatic and features a soft orchestral backing, but seems to finish without reaching a climax.
|PRODUCTION: 95%||SONGS: 70%||VIBE: 75%||ATTITUDE: 85%||ESSENTIAL FOR: All Chris Thompson fans, most fans of Mike Slamer.|
DISCOGRAPHY:Out of the Night . Radio Voices . High Cost of Living . Beat of Love . Backtracks . Won't Lie Down