LABEL: MTM MUSIC
Produced by: Ricky Phillips
This album is sensational.|
At first it wasn't what I expected it to be, especially after the last collaboration by Fergie with Ricky Phillips on Frederiksen/Phillips.
Fegie signed on to MTM with buddy Ricky Phillips hired as album coordinator and producer, running through a stack of songs and finally choosing the songs he thought fitted Fergie best and would highlight the vocalists' talents.
What the result is, turns out to be one of the smoothest Westcoast AOR albums since the heydays of mid 80's Chicago and certainly one of MTM's finest moments.
This is the type of record any major label would be mighty proud of and has the production, musician and vocal quality of any major release.
The albums credits run like a who's who of AOR. The base of the band was Ricky Phillips, Bruce Gowdy, Ron Wikso with Tim Pierce and Guy Allison. Providing backing vocals - the quality of which is just superb, was Kelly Hansen, Jason Scheff, Jeff Scott Soto and Ricky Phillips. Other notable guests include Neal Schon, Rocket Ritchotte, Steve Porcaro, Marcus Nand and Denny Land of the Moody Blues.
The Starship track Blaze Of Love is the opener and is done fairly faithfully by Fergie and co.
It is certainly smoother than the original and like the rest of the album is powerfully delivered while keeping it smooth and from going completely over the top.|
When Fergie screams 'I'm Over The Edge' towards the end of the track, you certainly don't doubt him. Vocally, this is powerful stuff. Mata Hari is a cleverly titled track that is one of only a few truly guitar driven tracks on Equilibrium.
The strong intro dips back into a pop verse and toughens up for a rock chorus. The style is a mix of Toto's Isolation and Frederiksen/Phillips.
The Jim Peterik co-penned title track is all pure power AOR. A mid paced rocker and ballad all in one the chorus contains some of the best backing vocals I have heard. Fergie's vocals are strong and controlled and it is left to the soaring backing vocals to take this track into AOR heaven.
It is after the instrumental break, the song rises another notch and simply goes off. This will be an all time favourite for a long time to come.
The next track is another superb slice of pure AOR. Fergie puts it all into this track. The Chicago/Toto cross track is one of the biggest ballads since God knows what.
The chorus sees the vocals rise up and the backing vocals carry it further still. Some nice soft guitar soloing adds to the feel. Another classic.
At this point the album leaves AOR behind and heads for Westcoast city. The next few tracks are pure Westcoast and have a jazzy Chicago, King Of Hearts and Toto mix.
Best I Can is a mid paced and jazzy pop track. Smooth vocals over horns, keyboards and soul influenced backing vocals.
Easily matching any Joseph Williams solo track.
Crazy is pure Chicago. This track could have been lifted from Chicago 18 or 19 and has everything a Peter Cetera track has and more. I asked Ricky about this and he said he thought it was so much in the style of Chicago, he had to ask Jason Scheff about it. Turned out to be a track they never recorded and so Ricky and Fergie decided to record it as if it was Chicago recording it. Indeed it does. Touches also on Cetera's solo track The Glory Of Love.
Tell Me Diana is a little more in AOR territory, mixing a little Toto with Westcoast. A soft chorus sees Fergie singing in a more familiar Isolation tone and a chorus that has Steve Lukather all over it.
Falling Into Place is another big AOR ballad. It's a moody track with the feel of Toto and Chicago again, but a chorus that rises like All For Love did and is pure AOR. Some great vocals here, with Fergie providing some of his own backing vocals.
Died In The Midst Of A Dream is totally Toto, but more from the Fareinheit era. This is Fergie singing a track that normally would have seen Joseph Williams at the helm. It is a soft and medium paced pop ballad. Very smooth and maybe not too all tastes. I like it, but some might find this track one of the albums only slow spots. Great soulful backing vocals if you give it a chance. It also reminds me of the slow ballads on guitarist Michael Thompson's solo album How Long.
The Truth Is Good Enough is pure Chicago once again. A ballad that builds to a more uptempo ending. Like some of Chicago's tracks, there is no big chrous, just a progression of melodies amd good vocals. This would suit a big 80's movie soundtrack.
Language Of Love ends the album and lifts the tempo a little. It starts soft but builds into a great mid paced AOR ballad. The verse is soft but the bridge rises and then the chorus does it all. The vocals rise a little and the backing vocals are back in there, even if it is a little more restrained than the first few tracks on the album.
So this is one great album. Class all the way as I said. But of course, please realise that this may not be for your average hard rock fan. This is a mature sophisticated pop rock album.
Ricky Phillips has done a magnificent job with producing the album and his arrangements of the backing vocals are to be applauded.
Fergie's vocals are another highlight. He shows strength and diversity that he has previously kept somewhat hidden.
Westcoast fan's album of the year.
|PRODUCTION: 93%||SONGS: 90%||VIBE: 87%||ATTITUDE: 91%||ESSENTIAL FOR: Toto, Westcoast, Mr Mister, Chicago and smooth pop rock fans.|
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