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Over The Edge
OTE Featuring Mickey Thomas
Frontiers Records
FRCD184
· Produced By: Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi

· Running Time: 47.08

· Release Date: May 3

· Released: EU

· Musical Style: AOR / Melodic Rock

· Links: Frontiers
97%
Songs: 98%
Sound: 97%
Starship's Mickey Thomas returns under a new banner, but with a distinctly familiar feel. Over The Edge sees Mickey team up with producer Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi and a new band of musicians, but it's still classic melodic rock and high class AOR all the way.
Over The Edge is essentially the very same blue-print used by Joseph Williams and Kelly Hansen on their recent releases.
It's an album of songs written by other people, produced and played on by the Fabrizio Grossi all-star team, with added special guests.
What's a little different about this album is that the songs themselves aren't entirely comprised of tracks we might have heard elsewhere. Instead there are several exclusive tracks featured that were purpose written for the project, or at least are unreleased tracks donated by their writers. The listener is the real winner here, with exclusive tracks from Jack Blades, Neal Schon and Jonathan Cain included.
The major risk with projects such as these is creating a consistent record that doesn't sound like it was pieced together. Grossi has a definite knack of avoiding this. He knows how to construct a record and being that the music was mostly recorded in house in the one set style/approach also helps the feel and flow of the record.
I think Grossi gets better each record – thus far that has proved true, with Vertigo (Joseph Williams) outshining Perfect World (Kelly Hansen) and Over The Edge is as good as, if not even a little better than Vertigo.
Those comments out of the way, it has to be time to heap praise on the vocal talents of Mickey Thomas. Three things really make this album work in a major way - the construction of it, the songs themselves and the vocals of Mr. Thomas.
I'm a big fan of Mickey and his perfectly styled melodic rock voice. But I have had some issues with the quality of his music over the years. I always found the Starship albums a little patchy – a selection of monster AOR anthems surrounded by some weaker pop numbers.
With the songwriting not a concern for him, all his efforts have been on making sure the vocals are spot on and wow, I don't recall Mickey sounding better.
This is perfect guitar driven melodic rock – short sharp songs with subtle verses and warm vocals, glued together with memorable sing-a-long choruses.
This couldn't possibly be any better for fans of Thomas and his past work.
A tight production and some new twists help make the project sound original and contemporary, yet instantly likeable. Neal Schon, Steve Lukather and Richie Kotzen all guest on guitars, so you really get treated to some fine guitar playing throughout.
Track By Track:
Over The Edge is a custom written tune from Jack Blades and Grossi. It starts perfectly – a sharp hard edged guitar riff and an inviting vocal. It has that Jack Blades feel, but it also sounds like classic Starship. A nice verse and short bridge lead into a chorus that is somewhat understated, but gains power with each additional listen. The result is a very catchy and memorable mid-tempo rock track.
The tempo slows for One World – another classic AOR track from the pen of Jack Blades and Neal Schon. This was another track considered for Journey's Arrival album – finally and thankfully aired here. This is an easy going laid back mid-tempo rock ballad. I love the track and believe others will also, but I wouldn't have positioned it here, rather a little further on in the album - it breaks the flow of the album a little here – especially after the strong opening track.
Thief is a perfect AOR anthem. I believe it's even better than the original, as written by Swede Martin Stenmarck and featured on his excellent album One. The song was originally titled I'm Falling – it's listed on all promo's as Thief, so note that it's possible that might be changed. If you have heard the song, this version is harder edged, more powerful and features beefed up, more mainstream melodic rock sound. It's a classic – Mickey just runs riot over this great anthem track.
Surrender is another Blades/Schon composition and boy does this sound like classic Journey. The chorus is pure 80's and Neal Schon plays all over the track. The song itself is an uptempo pop/rocker with a somewhat breezier, stripped back feel than the opening three tracks.
Eyes Wide Open is another monster from the Journey vaults. This is a slow, haunting ballad written by Jonathan Cain and featuring some fine slow guitar work from Neal Schon. A strong lead vocal drives the song, which Mickey makes his own. I have no idea why this song hasn't surfaced before now, but it won't be forgotten in a hurry. A classy ballad.
Picking up the tempo and adding a twist to the album is a cover of a track from Aussie nu-breed rockers TaxiRide. Forest For The Trees was featured on their last album and is re-done faithfully here. What's been a traditional, but updated melodic rock album to date takes on a heavier and darker tone with this aggressive modern rocker. If not done properly, this could sound right out of place, but thankfully it fits the album brilliantly.
From there the album flows into The Man In Between, which it well placed, as it's also a darker, moody mid-tempo rock track. Written by Grossi with Freddy Curci, this track is perfect Starship – a moody verse and a contrasting feel good chorus. And that has to be Neal Schon on guitar again.
I'm not familiar with the track Cover Me, but it's another track that breaks the mold of the album, yet fits in comfortably. It's more a straight ahead pop track, but is given the same darker and moody feel that the last few tracks have adopted.
Turn Away is another classic uptempo pop/rocker with a big melodic rock chorus that suits Mickey perfectly. A simple track, but one of the best on the album thanks to some good harmony vocals.
Glory Day is a track that isn't as immediate as some of the other album tracks, but on repeated listens reveals itself more. That's the sing of a great track, so it should be no surprise that Jack Blades is again responsible, writing this again with Grossi.
It has that modern feel of Jack's own solo album, yet fits this collection of songs better than you imagine any other track would. Thomas adds a powerful lead vocal and makes it his own.
The Bottom Line
One can only hope that this is only the first of a series of albums from Mickey Thomas, but we shall have to wait and see what happens. But right now, the debut Over The Edge album is with us and the songs picked for this project, matched with some wonderful vocals and almost flawless production and performances makes this an essential purchase for fans of straight up classic melodic rock with a contemporary feel.
Quite possibly the most consistent and rewarding album of Mickey's career.
Recent Releases
· Voices Of Classic Rock
· Starship - Latest & Greatest
· Over The Edge

Line Up
· Mickey Thomas: Vocals
· Rob Vanni, JM Scattolin, Neal Schon, Richie Kotzen, Steve Lukather, Frabrizio Grossi: Guitar
· Biggs Brice: Drums
· Kenny Wilkerson, Fabrizio Grossi: Bass
· Fabrizio Grossi: Keyboards

Essential for fans of:
· Starship
· Journey - Arrival
Track Listing
· Over The Edge*
· One World
· Thief*
· Surrender
· Eyes Wide Open*
· Forest For The Trees*
· The Man In Between*
· Cover Me
· Turn Away*
· Glory Day*
· One World (Video)
· Mickey Thomas video interview
--*Best Tracks


19/08/05: Dan MacDonald - dan_mac62@hotmail.com
Rating: 85
Really classy AOR at work here ,good songs written by others which doesn't do any harm 'cause Mickey sings 'em like they were his.Took me the 3rd listen before the songs started to reveal themselves - always feels good to get the nuances later ,like seeing the band on extended jams live & hearing that X-factor that just makes you go YEAH ,there's the pocket ! Just give this album a chance ,it won't disappoint !

25/07/04: Ian - Watsoni10@aol.com
Rating: 90
Good to hear Mickey back in action.A good move getting Neal Schon involved,hence the Journey sound.Mickey sounds good though.A couple of harder songs would have been interesting but overall a cool cd.

23/06/04: Guillermo - usuarios@retecal.es
Rating: 70
Solo he escuchado una vez este cd y sera por algo hay buenas canciones a lo starship pero que en mi opinion ganarian con una vocalista femenina las canciones compuestas por Jack Blades son infumables asi como su album en solitario.

22/06/04: Walkciman - krunci1636@rogers.com
Rating: 100
I have been a fan of Mickey Thomas' for quite some time and when I saw the lineup on this CD I had to buy it. I must say that it's one of those dics that will sit in my player for months, listened to at least every few days. I personally don't believe that there are any "fillers" on this disc, though the best tracks are Forest From the Trees, Turn Away and Over the Edge. The vocals on Cover Me are reminiscent of Rik Emmett from his Absolutely release from the late 80's. This is classic melodic rock!

17/06/04: Holland4you - jam_bek@hotmail.com
Rating: 50
First of there are too many fillers on this album, One World and Theif are Good Numbers but the rest is very average!!!
The production is better than VERTIGO but vertigo i liked and this one doesn't.
Mickey had his top and it dropped

Wiljan

17/06/04: Stefan Grimbs - grimbsel@aol.com
Rating: 80
Like other said before, a good album but not that cd i was expected. best songs: over the edge, one world, eyes wide open.
sometimes i miss the high tunes.

04/06/04: Steve M - brookrok@lanset.com
Rating: 60
I've listened to this cd a few times now NOT BAD BUT NOT A 97 EITHER! Mickey Thomas sounds good for his age But just like Steve Perry , Steve Augeri & Lou Gramm He's lost his high end range!! First few songs are cool Then it's SNOOZE TIME........
Just the same old same old sounds!! Still love Find your way back & The great underated cd Winds of Change!!

01/06/04: Steve - Mireillesteve@aol.com
Rating: 50
Good voice + good production + very average songs = average album. If you're looking for classic stuff like "Jane" etc, dig out those old Starship albums.

Rgds

Steve

26/05/04: John Ferguson - jonferg@nortelnetworks.com
Rating: 88
In classic tracks such as “Jane”, “We Built This City” and “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now,” (Jefferson) Starship can lay claim to some of the songs which helped define the AOR sound of the eighties. The band’s slick melodic style was embodied in the soaring falsetto of legendary vocalist Mickey Thomas, who returns to the fray with the Over The Edge project, a melodic rock dream featuring songs penned by such luminaries of the genre as Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and Jonathan Cain (Journey), and features guest performances from none other than guitar greats Neal Schon, Steve Lukather and Richie Kotzen. Superbly produced by Fabrizio V.Zee Grossi, the man behind the killer sound of last year’s Vertigo and Perfect World releases, Over The Edge will delight and excite lovers of classy AOR.
The albums kicks off with the punchy title track, closely followed by the sublime AOR of “One World,” a definite classic in the making. Melody is the key to the magic of this album and the crystal clear production enhance the sound of the wonderful Jonathan Cain written ballad, “Eyes Wide Open, “ and the dramatic masterpiece “Forest From The Trees,” a track that will have you reaching for the repeat button every time. The Blades/Schon songwriting partnership are behind the hard rocking “Surrender,” a magnificent track which could have featured on Journey’s “Arrival” or indeed Jack Blades solo release from a few months ago. Elsewhere, the mid-tempo pop-rock of “Thief” and “Turn Away” ensure that the quality of “Over The Edge” never dips and with the added bonuses of the “One World” video and an interview with Mickey Thomas, this is definitely not one any self respecting AOR lover wants to miss. Highly recommended. (Review by John Ferguson)

23/05/04: Chewsmoka - chewsmoka@yahoo.com
Rating: 50
Agreeing with Dave O. on this one, what a dissapointment. It starts out of the gate with a bang, and then about after Thief the album goes downhill like a ton of bricks, awful songs and the Forest for the Trees is so bad, it makes the original look like a masterpiece! Mickey sounds great but the 85% of the material is awful. Just made me sad, but hey, at least the title track, "One World", and "Thief" rock!

23/05/04: Dave O - hgwy407@cox.net
Rating: 70
I have to say I usually agree with Andrew 90% of the time on his reviews. However some of the time it is apparent that Andrew heavily skews his reviews based upon his like/or dislike of an artist (see White Lion, Rick Springfield, Gene Simmons, etc). I have to say I have been waiting for this album for quite some time. I almost wore out Impulse Music with the amount of calls I put in waiting for this to be released. That being said, Andrew and I have to agree to disagree on this one. Again I think Andrew's love of some of the artists that contributed to this record has colored his opinion (or blinded it) in a rather large way. I LOVE some of the artists that contributed to this album. I am a HUGE Neal Schon and Richie Kotzen fan. I have EVERYTHING they have ever done. I also consider Mickey Thomas to be one of my top five favorite vocalists of all time. This album disappoints big time. The first four songs are great, the rest of the album is either average or downright horrible. I have played this album for folks without telling them who it is or what I think. Virtually every one of them had the same thing to say, the first four songs are great, the rest is downright boring. My wife reached for the "next" button several times while listening to it in our car. She also loves all of the folks that appeared or contributed to this disc, especially Kotzen. She told me she couldn't believe how bland some of these songs were. Now I don't expect Mickey to sound like he did in his glory days, but age has taken a toll on his voice. He is not longer smooth, more like a cross between his older self and Brain Johnson. The songs start to go south with Eyes Wide Open, which goes nowhere. It just drones along. Forest For The Trees is an average rocker, The Man In Between is another go nowhere effort, Cover Me, Turn Away are average at best, and Glory Days is just downright bad. To give this album a 97% for sound and yet give Gene Simmons a 29% suggests that Andrew needs to run to an audiologist, fast! I am a sound engineer, something I have done for over 20 years. I own my own studio and have a significant background in recording and audio. This album sounds like a glorified demo. The album sounds harsh and muddy in spots and the overuse of the Line 6 amp simulators is very apparent here as there is a very disticnt "demo" sound (no life, too much midrange and distortion). Neal Schon, who is my all-time favorite guitarist, sounds very muddy here. I would expect this from Neal if he showed up at my home studio, plugged in to an effects processor, then directly to the board or console, and wailed away. Cool for a demo, not so cool if you want a professional sounding final product. The albums sound falls into the average, to below average catogory. Over all this album disappointed me in a very large way. Go back to the drawing board and start off where you finsihed with the first four songs, find a quality studio or engineer and give it another try, becasue this one just doesn't get it done.

18/05/04: Freddy De Keyzer - freddydekeyzer@hotmail.com
Rating: 89
Great AOR CD for sure ! Mickey has a good voice and this is pure AOR, the way I like it ! Strongest AOR or melodic rock CD so far ? I don't know ! We also have the new Dakota (anyone knows about that great band and their new CD ? !), called 'DEEP 6', and Seventh Key, Shadowland, Final Frontier etc., which are all on the same level as this one.
But anyway : RECOMMENDED !!!!

18/05/04: Jacobo - jacoboconte@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
Nice album. Good sound and great songs...Jack Blades strikes again and Mike sings at his best. Thanks to Frontiers to make it possible.

18/05/04: Mark - mark@wyse583.freeserve.co.uk
Rating: 85
A good album, with some good songs. Favorite tracks are "One World" "Thief" and the brilliant ballad "Eyes Wide Open". Given a better production this album could be nudging the mid-nineties.

18/05/04: ian - ian_752@msn.com
Rating: 90
It's great to have Mickey Thomas back . Over the Edge is a great cd but not the killer it could have been . I think a few more heavier edged tracks would have done the cd a world of good . Don't get me wrong what we do have are ten finely crafted AOR songs with the sublime voice of Mr Thomas who still sounds as wonderful as he always did .Hope we don't have to wait so long again?. I recommended this cd to a friend of mine who loved Starship, after he had listened to it i got a call from him to say that it was the worst cd he'd heard in years strange huh?.each to their own.

18/05/04: Andy Hawes - andy.sixstring@ntlworld.com
Rating: 85
Good album, this! Wisely, it does not attempt to retread Starship's past glories, but instead opts for a warm modern vibe on some well written melodic rock songs. I really like the way the production has used lots of quite clean, chordal guitar work to underpin the melodies. This is a feature of many 'modern' album productions, (whereas in the past we'd have had the 'tons of keyboards and guitar powerchords'). However, the skilful use of 'old school' guitar solos and bigger 'classic rock' guitars on the choruses means that this is not an entirely limp-wristed affair, nor an entirely 'modern rock' album either! To me, this is a nicely 'modern' sounding AOR album that does not stray into Nu-Breed teritory. Thomas' voice really kicks on these songs too. He sounds like he's having a ball!
Bottom line: Great songs, clever 'classic/modern' production and brilliant vocals. Let's hope we hear more from Mr Thomas at some point soon!

17/05/04: Scott Watson - scottw@mfx.net
Rating: 95
A great cd. A harder edge would not have hurt. I hope we don't have to wait as long to here more from Mickey Thomas.

17/05/04: Laura - laura1865@hotmail.com
Rating: 85
For many years I've been waiting for Mickey Thomas to release new matterial. "Over the Edge" is a very good CD. Lots of "Journey" input is a plus. However, I was hoping for more rockers in the vein of Mickey's 1986 solo single "Stand In The Fire." With that being said "Over The Edge" is 2004's strongest melodic rock cd so far. LS


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