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Howard Leese Secret Weapon Frontiers Records
FRCD 420
· Produced By: Howard Leese

· Running Time: 48.57

· Release Date: Out Now

· Released:

· Musical Style: Blues Rock / Instrumental

· Links: Frontiers
70%
Songs: 65%
Sound: 75%
I became an instant Leese fan on discovering Heart in 1985 – on the back of their monster comeback album for EMI. I was one of the second wave of fans to jump on the bandwagon as they moved through their commercial hit maker stage. Leese was the cornerstone of a hard edged guitar attack along with Nancy Wilson.
Since departing the band in the 90s, Howard has kept busy touring with Paul Rodgers/Bad Company. Plans for his solo album were being talked about as far back as 2002, so it is fair to say I was expecting a pretty groovy record.
Unfortunately I am left very disappointed by this release. I just find that it lacks the spark I expected from such a great player.
That doesn't imply Howard lacks anything as far as his talent and the guitar work laid down on this record. I just feel the songs lack energy and that takes away from his playing.
The mixture of styles here and the swapping back and forward between vocal tracks and instrumentals makes it a very disjointed record, never flowing with the ease an album should. Plus the overall laid back tempo makes it a very slow record indeed.
I expected a blues based rock record, but what rock we get is a very slow 70s bluesy set of songs mixed with eclectic instrumentals (that remind me of Mark Knofler soundtrack compositions) and reflective acoustic driven pieces.
The record fails to get out of first gear and at 50 minutes in length there simply is not enough power to impress. Of the vocal tracks the opening smoldering rock n blues of Alive Again featuring Joe Lynn Turner has a decent riff but never gets going; The Vine is another pleasant rock ballad featuring Jimi Jamison; In These Eyes is another slow but appealing blues track features Keith St. John on lead vocal. Just where is that guy the rest of the time?
I've Been Leaving You (Andrew Black) and Hot To Cold (JLT and Deanna Johnston) just fail to leave any impression at all.
The highlight for me is the blues ballad Heal The Broken Hearted featuring a sensational Paul Rodgers soulful lead.
The instrumentals run from 48 seconds to four minutes, but there isn't any I am likely to play again now this review is complete. Rada's Theme is probably the best – Mark Knofler meets Kenny G here.
The Bottom Line
Howard Leese is without question a fine guitar player with an ear for the blues, but on Secret Weapon, the album lacks punch and importantly, the vocal tunes should be used to better effect in-between the instrumental numbers. The pace is just too similar throughout and just too slow for these ears.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Secret Weapon

Line Up:
· Joe Lynn Turner, Jimi Jamison, Paul Rodgers, Andrew Black, Keith St. James: Vocals
· Howard Leese: Guitars, All Instruments
· Mark Shulman: Drums

Essential For Fans Of:
· Howard Leese
· Paul Rodgers
· Joe Lynn Turner
Track Listing
· Alive Again *
· Heal The Broken Hearted *
· Hot To Cold
· French Quarter
· 33 West Street
· The South Summit
· Rada's Theme
· The Vine
· In These Eyes *
· Vermilion Border
· I've Been Leavin' You
· Somewhere (Theme From West Side Story)

--*Best Tracks


25/08/09: Chris - soundadvice2k@bresnan.net
Rating: 90
I think this is a great CD with some really good vocalists. Howard sticks with his true sound and delivers some fine instrumental tracks as well as songs with some great singers.

21/08/09: JOĆO CUSTÓDIO - jcustodio6@gmail.com
Rating: 88
Don't agree with Andrew. What a wonderfull new breeze from Howard. Never thought he could deliver some really good stuff. Just listen tracks 1 and 5. Killer tunes. One of the best surprises of 2009.
Cheers, Joćo (Portugal)

20/08/09: PW - pw@undisclosed.com
Rating: 85
Deserves better than Andrew's rating. This CD delivers something different from the usual releases reviewd on MR. Something a bit more laid back and packed with top vocal performances and sound quality.


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