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JIMI JAMISON'S SURVIVOR / EMPIRES
LABEL: USG RECORDS / FRONTIERS / AVEX
OVERALL: 93%
Produced by: Klay Shroedel
  1. Cry Tough
  2. Run From Thunder
  3. I'm Always Here
  4. Empires
  5. First Day Of Love
  6. Have Mercy
  7. Just Beyond The Clouds
  8. Dream To Far
  9. Love Is Alive
  10. November Rain
  11. Calling America
  12. Burning Heart (Live)
  13. Rebel Son (Live)
In the space of a few weeks - during the normal album learning curve - this CD has gone from what I thought to be a safe and fairly routine release - to an essential melodic rock album.
It is neither as safe or routine as it appears and subsequent listening to it shows a bigger depth that I thought possible.
I don't think anyone, especially Jimi Jamison himself, could have predicted that it would be late 1999 before we finally heard a new album from him.
But that is the way it has worked out. Here we are and the major questions will no doubt be - was it worth the wait and has Jimi still got that voice?
There is no doubt the man has still got a monster voice and is it worth the wait? You had better read on. In brief, I think many will agree is has been.
It was over a year ago I heard a set of demo's for this album. Strangely, they were almost completely all ballads and the future for the album seemed a little bleak.
But Jimi and the band have returned with an album that features only a handful of those tracks and a more that feature a more hard edged guitar sound. There is also a more uptempo feel to the album overall.
I welcome any new release by the man, but I think his work away from the core songwriting team of Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan has lacked a little depth. His 1991 solo album was firm proof of that.
But it's now 1999 and Empires is a quantum leap from the When Love Comes Down release. The songs are more solid and have greater depth than those showcased there.
The opening song Cry Tough hits an immediate melodic rhythm - a mid paced, but hook filed opening that suggests that Jimi has taken up where Survivor's Too Hot To Sleep left off.
The verse features some wonderful vocal harmonizing with Jimi's voice running over the song to great effect.
Run From Thunder has the appearance of a mid paced song, but on subsequent listens becomes darker and heavier. There is some cool piano accompaniment and an equally cool pace change mid way thru the song.
The song's beauty lies in the fact the guitar appears to get heavier with every listen.
Yes, I'm Always Here is that song - now several years old and well seasoned. But with full marks again to the guys, the song has been re-worked and slightly re-written. While the pace is the same, the song appears a little more laid back. Certainly better produced, it fits into the rhythm of the rest of the album.
The keyboard sound is more a pure piano sound and it's contribution is even better than the original.
Empires is one of the original demo's held over for the album. This album is a killer ballad - a more urgent / passionate song, rather than a straight forward love song. It was written with Jim Peterik & Frankie Sullivan several years ago.
The track is very moody and features an elaborate verse, hook and chorus and spans nearly 7 minutes. Quite an intense rock ballad with a superb instrumental break.
Adding further to the original demo is the addition of a female lead vocal in verse 2 and then backing Jimi through the rest of the song. Great touch.
First Day Of Love kicks off like any melodic AOR number, until Jimi's vocals trail off and a crunching hard edged guitar hook kicks in. This track really rocks, with a raspy hard vocal adding feel to the track. The chorus is slightly more melodic and grows with every listen. Sure to be a sure fire live favourite, the song ends on the same melodic note is starts on. Heavy guitar attack.
Have Mercy is more a straight ahead rocker. It's not heavy and it isn't straight up AOR either. Just a good mid tempo guitar driven rock song, with a AOR verse and a hard rock chorus.
Just Beyond The Clouds is the first traditional power ballad. It's a classy high powered ballad that uses Jimi's voice perfectly.
Dream To Far is another cool track that does not immediately make an impression, but like a few other tracks grows substantially with every listen and also gets rockier. It has an urgency to it, which like the mood of the song grows with every listen.
Love Is Alive is maybe the only let down track on the album. It's just a straight forward rock song with a tough sound, but little in the way of hooks.
November Rain is a pretty song. A simple pop love song, with minimal accompaniment. A vehicle for Jamison to let his vocals shine.
Calling America is a curious number to include, but once again becomes an essential part of the record. This Tom Cochrane song was originally on his Victory Day album. Jimi's voice fits perfectly where Tom would normally be expected. It's sung at an octave lower and really suits the album. The chorus may even be a little rockier than the original.
Burning Heart (Live) & Rebel Son (Live) are the album's bonus tracks.
But I think they are a needless addition. It would have been better to leave these bonuses to the single or an EP. The album is plenty strong enough to not warrant the inclusion of these songs recorded live with the new line up.
Still, with that objection noted, it is great to hear these songs again. The are classics in their own right and it would take a really sad effort to ruin them.
Being that this new album is nearly 10 years down the track from Jimi's last involvement in Survivor - the style of the album is part Too Hot To Sleep, part Survivor and several parts a new sound.
BOTTOM LINE: There is several elements that make this album essential.
Whether you agree with the use of the Survivor name or not, (we'll keep that debate for another forum), this is a great album.
Jimi's vocals are first rate, the production is tight and most importantly - the songs are of very high quality. The band have done well to improve on the initial song selection that was on offer 18 months ago. There is a lot to like about this album.
PRODUCTION: 94%SONGS: 90%VIBE: 92%ATTITUDE: 90%
ESSENTIAL FOR: All Jimi Jamison fans, Survivor fans, fans of great commercial American hard rock & AOR.


21/06/03: RELLA - bigredjen@aol.com
Rating: 90
I LIKE THIS CD. THE FIRST TWO TRACKS ARE GREAT. JIMI SOUNDS STRONG. HE HAS ALOT LEFT. THE REST OF THE CD IS HIGH QUALITY
AOR

14/12/01: kris barr - www.mr.g.barr@blueyonder.co.uk
Rating: 95
the empires album is by far the best work that jimi has produced since leaving the original survivor consisting of petrik and sullivan. it is one of my all time favourite albums and has a strong,uplifting sound to it which can make a dark day seem brighter. I do hope Jimi releases a new album soon and look forward to hearing it going by the result of this album.

04/03/01: AMY WOLLENZIEN - AMWOLL11@AOL.COM
Rating: 99
SUPER ONE AND I LOVE IT LOT

18/09/00: MarkB - mbent@pcisys.net
Rating: 100
I, too, have been a die-hard Jimi Jamison/Survivor fan since I heard Vital Signs. I just bought the Empires CD about 2 months ago and
it ROCKS! Songs range from the melodic, like earlier releases, to hard driving rock. You're right, it's not the same as "When Seconds
Count", but has that same Survivor "feel" (even though, technically, it's a Jimi Jamison album, not a Survivor album- I would argue, either
way since Jimi has proven to be a Survivor frontman.)

Jimi has a voice that's soft and melodic, but strong and powerful. Last month, I saw Survivor at a small casino in Colorado, and I can
assure you that Jimi still has an incredible voice. Frankie is back playing guitar (that man can shred!) as well as Marc Droubay, the drummer
(solid as a rock!) that is on Vital Signs and When Seconds Count. I wish Jim Peterik was in the band, but not miss him during the show- Jimi,
Frankie and Marc are more than enough to rock an audience.

Long live Jimi Jamison and Survivor!

29/06/00: BOBBY - purchase007@yahoo.com
Rating: 10
if anybody thinks this album is bad they have serious problems,one of the best cds i have heard in the 90's,this is how rock music should always sound,great vocals,great production and excellent songs,buy it now

27/03/00: Francesco - frankgate@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
Great songs, great production, good songwriting and the beautiful voice of Jimi Jamison. Just buy it.

06/03/00: Max - Metalmastermax@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
Pure AOR, pure melody, pure power, pure beauty. Everything is in here. If not the best, one of the best releases of the past year (1999). the album starts heavy with a soon-to-be-AOR-classic song called 'CRY TOUGH'. When I first heard a sample of this song I thought: 'I should definitley gonna get this one as soon as it comes out'. Then, after listening to the sample for 'RUN FROM THUNDER' (the second song in the album) I reaffirmed my desires to buy this killer record as soon as possible. Then, there was 'I'M ALWAYS HERE' (I didn't know the Baywatch's anthem was by Survivor). Then I goit the record and track after track it was a rerally great journey. EMPIRES, JUST BEYOND THE CLOUDS and NOVEMBER RAIN slow the tempo but they make up for it being beautifull ballads. The last two live songs (BURNING HEART AND REBEL SON) are cool just to close the record. A really heavy record but beautifull at the same time. Get it now.

04/03/00: Max - Metalmastermax@hotmail.com
Rating: 9
Pure AOR, pure melody, pure power, pure beauty. Everything is in here. If not the best, one of the best releases of the past year (1999). the album starts heavy with a soon-to-be-AOR-classic song called 'CRY TOUGH'. When I first heard a sample of this song I thought: 'I should definitley gonna get this one as soon as it comes out'. Then, after listening to the sample for 'RUN FROM THUNDER' (the second song in the album) I reaffirmed my desires to buy this killer record as soon as possible. Then, there was 'I'M ALWAYS HERE' (I didn't know the Baywatch's anthem was by Survivor). Then I goit the record and track after track it was a rerally great journey. EMPIRES, JUST BEYOND THE CLOUDS and NOVEMBER RAIN slow the tempo but they make up for it being beautifull ballads. The last two live songs (BURNING HEART AND REBEL SON) are cool just to close the record. A really heavy record but beautifull at the same time. Get it now.

28/02/00: Susumu Fukuhara - sfuku@d7.dion.ne.jp
Rating: 94
I am a fan of Survivor for 16 years and I couldn't wait before Jimi Jamison's new material@came up.
If I am asked if this is the music of Survivor, I would answer this way. It is true that the album"Empires" has the similar style of rock 80's Survivor had, but I can find the vital difference between the two. You can find it when you compare the track "Empires" with the remainder. I feel that Jim Peterik's absence is so great and if you hear the album as Survivor you will be a bit disappointed. Nevertheless, as a excellent example of current rock, I like this album. It include excellent songs such as "First Day of Love", "A Dream Too Far" and "Empires". Although I miss Jim Peterik's magic touch of rock music expressed as "Chevy Nights", "I Can't Hold Back" and " Children of the Night", I appreciate Jimi Jamison's work which try to hand down good excellent rock to the younger generation of rock fans.

08/02/00: Steve Reno - roboto83@aol.com
Rating: 9
with the shit our rock stations play these days a mans cd collection starts to grow cause he wants to listen to say a variety of music, not what those corporate F&&ks want to slam down our throats! thats why i say this is an essential addition to my collection and anyone undecided give it a try. it may surprise you! it did me! i just got my copy a couple days ago and have been playing it non-stop. my favorite right now is empires. also run from the thunder. when i saw jamison in concert back in 94' and he did burning heart i thought it was lame when he had the bass player sing the high notes but on this cd it kinda is pretty cool and ive been diggin' that one also! like i said its still new for me also and my faves will change from week to week. all i can say is THANK GOD FOR MELODIC ROCK AND TO ALL THE PEOPLE WHO STILL SUPPORT THIS KIND OF MUSIC! Take care evryone and always "be good to yourself"!

22/01/00: Sheryl R - sherylrob@aol.com
Rating: 0
Jimi Jamison has a voice that great dreams are made of. The CD Empire's was definitely worth the wait a fine mixture of ballads and rock that will have you humming in the shower and in your car on the way to work. It is a tragedy that this CD will never make the airwaves in a world of rap c**p, where repeating the same line a million times whether it makes sense or not can make you a millionaire. I don't care one bit whether or not Jimi use's the name Survivor his voice stands alone, I do hope that he can continue to collaborate with Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan and must give credit to them also for their strong writing ability.

18/01/00: Tammy W - Drm2far99@aol.com
Rating: 25
This CD clearly blow's away any and all things that Jimi has previously done. The others were great but this has to be one of the best displays of talent that I have seen in a very long time! Jimi's voice is Great and getting better as time marches on. The band is so filled with talent this time around that it is incredible! all the way from Jimi's voice to Pete's drums Chris guitar and Pauls keyboard! You couldnt ask for a better performance either live on on this CD this is a must for anyone who has liked what he has acheived in the past! It will clearly blow you away!! It is great and this isnt a "DREAM TOO FAR!" All I know is when they end up with an award for this CD I will be in the front row saying I told ya so!............Tammy

17/01/00: Lil Bit - LilGuitarPic@webtv.net
Rating: 100
I have been a die-hard Jimi Jamison/Survivor fan for as long as I can remember. And with that said, I think EVERY album that Jimi and Survivor put out was unbelieveable. I have my opinions about the whole name thing, but this ain't about the name, this is about this great CD...so here is what I think...All these songs got that special something in them...and there is no way I can tell you just how much this CD rocks. You just have to hear it. Jimi still has that voice that tugs at your heart strings, especially in "November Rain" and guitarist Chris Adamson, wow, he is amazing and deserves lots of credit for the way this CD sounds. So even if your not in favor of Jamison using the name, buy the CD anyway, why exclude great music?
Keep Rockin'

07/01/00: Ricky Shiver - warden@tin.it
Rating: 85
Well, Survivor is one of my favoutites band, "Too hot to sleep" is one of the most impressive album of AOR of all time.
What's wrong in "Empires"? Paradoxical i think Jimi Jamison is wrong. He don't still have the great voice, that voice loud & clear whit whom he sang masterpieces like "Desperate Dreams" or "When seconds count".
The live versions of "Burning Heart" and "Rebel Son"...are not good...he can't sing these song like some time ago.
The time is inflexible.

23/12/99: Frank Hussaarts - hussaarts.devos@worldonline.nl
Rating: 8
Survivor is by far my favourite rock group and Jimi Jamison is my favourite singer of all time, so you can understand that I've really been looking forward to this new Survivor record. For me "Empires" is a good record, but it's certainly not in the same league as "When Seconds Count" and "Vital Signs". Nothing comes close to my favourite Survivor song "I See You In Everyone". "First Day of Love", which is surprisingly heavy for a Survivor song, is the pick of the bunch for me. I also like "Dream Too Far" and "Cry Tough" a lot. I find the ballads a bit disappointing, especially "November Rain". The title track and "Just Beyond The Clouds" are better, but still not of the same class as "Man Against The World" and "The Search Is Over". Looking at the covers I like "Calling America", but I think "Love Is Alive" should have been left out. The live versions are great, especially "Burning Heart". There was talk of a live album, called "Survivor Live In America", a littel while ago, but I haven't heard anything since. I really hope that this live album will come out soon, because I have been searching a long time for good live recording from Survivor. If someone can help me with live recordings of Survivor (on CD, video or tape) please let me know. Concluding, "Empires" is a good album, but I expected a little bit more.

24/10/99: Phil V - pvrox@ids.net
Rating: 0
I have to be honest.When I bought the new Survivor disc I expected it to be a rather mellow affair because the only original member left in the band was Jimi Jamison.And even HE\'S not an original member.I can understand why Frank Sullivan is a little pissed at him using the name. Anyway,after listening to "Empires" I must say I was totally impressed.Not only is this CD full of hard rockers but even the ballads are of the highest AOR quality.After checking the liner notes I did, however, notice that most of the songs(7 to be exact) were written by outside writers.No big deal though.Once "Run From the Thunder" came on I forgot what band this was.This song is absolutely a killer."Have Mercy" is another hard rockin\' gem."A Dream Too Far" has the best hook and is also a rocker.Guitarist Chris Adamson deserves much praise for his performance here.There's also a cover of the Gary Wright song "Love is Alive",but it's beefed up with heavy rhythm guitars and a great bottom end.At the end of the disc are two live versions of old Survivor songs,"Burning Heart" & "Rebel Son".The disc is really a pleasent surprise.I hope the Franki Sullivan Survivor can match this.Grt

24/10/99: Ed Sturm - edsturm@earthlink.net
Rating: 90
I'v ebeen a true Survivor fan since the early 80's and have followed the evolution of the band and the changes throughout. I've never had a preference as far as singer go as I loved both Bickler and Jamison. I have my thoughts on the whole trademark issue but I'll keep them to myself and objectively rate the album.

I've waited a long, long time for this one and overall, I am not dissapointed, although I did expect a bit more of a "Survivor" sound. The first track, "Cry Tough" is a great AOR track that sounds like something right out of 1985. Song three, the baywatch theme, "I'll Always Be right Here" is something I've always loved yet was never able to hear in it's entirity or find someone with a copy of. Great song indeed.

Song four, "Empires" is my favorite track on the album as it is really the only one that I can say has that classic Survivor feel and sound to it. I was not at all surprised to see that Sullivan and Peterik are listed in the writing credits although I would really love to hear an explanation for this one. The female vocalist doing the duet did not impress me at all and with a better vocalist, (say Patty Smyth or Pat Benatar, Sandy Saraya) this song would have been much better. Jamisons vocals on the initial first verse of the sound are absolutely stunning!

Just Beyond the Clouds is a very good 80's sounding power ballad that I'm sure everyone will be very fond of.

As for the songs I haven't mentioned, they are all average or a bot above but nothing special to me. I always felt that if there are four songs on an album that you really like, than the album is a success which I feel this one is. This is a must have for anyone who has been a Survivor fan throughout and who is able to put aside their feelings as far as the trademark issue is concerned.

The two live tracks on the album were a good touch despite the fact that one must wonder why "burning Heart" was chosen when Jamison's name does not appear in the writing credits. He would have been better served using a song that he had a hand in writing such as "Man Against the World" or "In Good Faith". "Rebel Son" on the other hand was a great choice and is one of my all time favorites. Jamison and his band do a tremendous jon on this one and seem to have sped it up just a bit. In my opinion, this release is worth having based on the live version of this song alone.

Now if only we could get a new release from "Svi


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