Darren Smith Band Keep The Spirit Alive MTM Music
Produced By: Harry Hess

Running Time: 46.44

Release Date: March 7

Released: EU

Musical Style: Modern Melodic Rock

Links: MTM
Songs: 93%
Sound: 93%
It seems years ago that rrummer Darren Smith left Harem Scarem, but it was only after the first Rubber release in 1999 that he stuck out on his own.
Working towards a solo career, there were a few false starts before the tracks for the Black Star album were laid down. Due to a naming issue, the band moniker was dropped for the European release and the Darren Smith Band was born.
Being that the album was recorded and mixed in the Harem studio and produced by Harry Hess, it should come as no surprise to hear the album has strong ties to the Harem Scarem sound.
Darren's love of modern rock and Harem's own affinity with varied styles and current production techniques shine through on Keep The Spirit Alive itself a quite varied mixed of modern, punk/pop and traditional melodic rock.
What you don't get is an album of alternative takes on Sentimental BLVD or Staying Away tracks Darren sang lead on for Harem Scarem. But there are influences from both present.
The album is best described as having the production sound of the last couple of Harem Scarem albums, mixed with the more modern and free flowing spirit of the Rubber releases with a couple of unique twists of it's own thrown in.
The drummer turned vocalist has previously displayed his vocal ability with a couple of lead roles within Harem, but is better known for his harmony vocals. Here he takes lead on all tracks and shows he is a fine vocalist, albeit a gruffer and raspier version of Harry Hess.
Guitarist Mike Hall (Killer Dwarfs/Helix) does his own solid Pete Lesperance style axe-work and provides the crunch the tracks need.
The high energy rockers It All Comes Back and Keep The Spirit Alive get the album off to a cracking start, with the latter track providing some big Harem style harmonies come chorus time.
There You Go is a strong rock ballad where Darren gets to highlight his voice in a different light, while the other big ballad King For A Day goes even further, with a truly memorable hook.
The modern pop/rock of Rubber is represented by the very catchy When I Was You and Still On My Radio - two classy rock anthems, both with a tasty chorus hooks.
Everybody Knows is a hate fuelled rocker with someone getting a right proper spray from Darren!
Why Do I is a fabulous uptempo Harem Weight Of The World styled rocker which will be a fan favourite.
And closing the album is a rather unique modern pop ballad Taking On Water, with some great effects and importantly, a very memorable chorus.
Not every track is an instant knockout, with an utterly horrid cover of Love Hurts really blowing chunks mid-album. Not only does the song not suit the album, but the vocals sound truly strained. The other clunker is one of the two bonus tracks. So Low is an industrial modern rock track that doesn't suit the album at all and will send melodic fans running for the hills with their ears in a bucket.
The Bottom Line
All in all, another great album from the flawless Harem Scarem camp. No one associated with this super talented family of musicians seems capable of putting a foot wrong and every release from this lot of quality through and through.
Personal tastes will dictate your admiration for this project, but regardless the great thing about these guys and this album is that every song has a strong chorus and can be instantly recalled from memory. Few albums have that clear ability and I find myself humming these tunes constantly and liking them more and more each listen. Yet another winner!
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Darren Smith Band

Line Up
Darren Smith: Vocals
Mike Hall: Guitars
Pat Carrano: Drums
Stan Miczek: Bass

Essential for fans of:
Rubber - Ultra Feel
Harem Scarem - Big Bang Theory, Weight Of The World
Pete Lesperance - Down In It
Track Listing
It All Comes Back*
Keep The Spirit Alive*
There You Go
When I Was You*
King For A Day*
Love Hurts
Still On My Radio
Everybody Knows*
Black Star
Why Do I*
So Low (bonus track)
Taking On Water (bonus track)*
--*Best Tracks

11/03/10: The Voice Of Reason -
Rating: 96
Lots of hooks, great melodies and a pretty cool vocalist - what else could ya want feckers ???

15/03/06: Coolio -
Rating: 90
ok the album is one of the best of the year!

why do you say SO LOW is bad?
its excellent, im an AOR fan and all but this song
is extremely cool and addictive, its still melodic
yet sounds like something out of Marlyin manson
without the headache. real cooool

best album ever.

24/01/06: DoD -
Rating: 90
i always knew this guy is huge, i knew it from the moment
i heard him singing Sentimental Blvd in the Haremscarem album
Mood Swings, his voice is extremely harsh without being
annoying, and that is my opinion, i think he is the best
singer ever, his voice is what i've been searching all my life,
let me say...superb.

this album confirms that statement, the music is brilliant
and about LOVE HURTS i gotta say that i love that song,
and it's much better than the original.

best songs are-- KEEP THE SPIRIT ALIVE (song of the century)




this is a must get, every song's a winner.

12/12/05: Beholder -
Rating: 95
Fantastic album, plain and simple.

i agree with Alan Wake, definetely King Of A Day is the best song ever.

06/12/05: Alan Wake -
Rating: 98
Holy Christ!
this gotta be one of the very best album i have ever heard,
Darren voice is superb and love all songs except Love Hurts,
hence 98% is my score.

personal favorite:

1 - King for a Day

2 - There You Go

3 - When I was you

and i guarantee King For a Day will play in your head long after
you turned off your stereo, slept and did many things..
it'll just play forever, i thought i had schizophrenia the last
day because i kept hearing that song in my mind. lol

buy it!

02/12/05: The Sims -
Rating: 100
Do not even dare to compare this album with the $hit PETE LESPERANCE released, cause Pete's album is pure drivel. period.

Darren Smith album is one of the best ever IMHO, i simply love it
and i love his voice (HESS has always try to clone Darren's voice and sing the same way...failing!).....sorry HESS but Darren is simply huge, and his way of singing/voice is magnificent,
warm, powerful, raspy.

Darren album beats HESS solo, PETE solo, this is the best solo album ever, i love every song, it's awesome awesome awesome.

KEEP THE SPIRIT ALIVE is an album you should me.

only HAREM SCAREM beat this release and even then, i start to think that DARREN was the real MAN behind Harem Scarem.

so for me HAREM SCAREM and DARREN SMITH BAND = da best.

02/07/05: dannyparker -
Rating: 88
Freddy - why do you persist on wasting your time writing the same old drivel about every Harem Scarem related release? You've clearly made your mind up to dislike everything the band put out before you've actually heard it, so why even bother? If you still want 1980's sounding melodick rock there are many other bands out there who would be better suited to your tastes.So why not be a good boy, run along and leave this kind of music to the adults.

As for Darrens album, although it's my least favourite of the recent solo efforts from the Harem boys, it's still a bloody good album.Favourite tracks are 'There you go' & 'Keep The Spirit...'. Whilst 'love hurts' was perhaps an ill-advised inclusion, it wasn't quite as bad as i was expecting...but it's definately the worst track on the album.

21/03/05: Zacharyamelie -
Rating: 90
Freddy, in all honesty even before this came out you knew you were not going to lie this release, why buy it and rate it? I don't like rap music, you don't see me rating the new Usher or Outkast. Getting back to the album a solid release. "Why Do I" and "Keep The Spirit Alive" are the standout tracks. Unlike Andrew, I enjoy "Love Hurts" his voice may be strained, but don't forget love "HURTS", who sings perfectly when it "HURTS" that bad? Even with the original version, the lead vocals sounded strained. With this release, Darren should be known for being a great song writer and vocalist, not only the former drummer for Harem Scarem.

19/03/05: Chewsmoka -
Rating: 80
While it may have been recorded and produced by Harry Hess, it sounds mostly like dated Harem Scarem songs. But that doesn't mean it rocks, It All Comes Back, King For A Day are among the the two best tracks. The are other good songs, but the y tend to satart to sound the same, and lose interest after a few plays. Andrew scored this way too high, as this is a valiant effort, but is not the dynamic first album I expected, just too many cliches, but still does not come close to the modern rock sound of Pete Lesperace's Down With It.

19/03/05: Freddy De Keyzer -
Rating: 40
Well, a bit better than the Harem Scarem drivel of the past years (and their upcoming newie is even worse !), but still not my cup of tea at all !
Way too modern !

ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW! (Ratings out of 100)