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PHOENIX DOWN / UNDER A WILD SKY
LABEL: FRONTIERS / NOW & THEN PRODUCTIONS
OVERALL: 85%
Produced by: Kane Roberts
  1. Reckless
  2. I Want It Again
  3. Walk
  4. Love Gone Wrong
  5. In Another Life
  6. Blind
  7. Rain
  8. Neverland
  9. Alive And Well
  10. Rebel Heart
Another long departed but not forgotten cult icon of hard rock returns!
Kane Roberts, one time axe slinger for Alice Cooper and part time solo star with albums like the quite impressive and much loved Saints & Sinners, is back after spending the best part of 2 years recording this fresh new studio album.
Those expecting him to immediately pick up where he left off will certainly be surprised.
Pleasantly though, I think, because this album grows with every listen and will undoubtedly become a new cult favourite.
The style is certainly varied, but the album carries a common thread, so the songs do not sound too much out of place.
With the style jumping around a lot, there is the danger that some fans are going to hate or at least dislike some elements of the album.
The ones that get into this album the most are those who don't mind some diversity.
True to form though, the more anthem/aor tracks are absolutely spot on and almost worth the admission price alone.
Reckless is written by the great Mike Slamer. A little awol even for Slamer - this track is a great hard rocking opener.
A monster modern Metallica style rocker with a vocal to match. Quite unlike anything I have heard Roberts sing or play before. This is one of those diverse tracks that will be either loved or hated.
I Want It Again is a dark 90's style hard rocker, with moody vocals in the vein of early Winger and laced with heavy and distorted guitars.
Walk With You is a killer. This is one of the albums several pure AOR tracks. In fact if the album was all in this vein, it would be one of the best of any year. But we will have to take what we are given.
This track is written with the also great Jim Peterik and is a moody Foreigner style ballad. Big hooks and great chorus.
Love Gone Wrong is another Jim Peterik co-write and another monster. An usual backing sound - the guitar is a kind of hollow sound, but the beat is feisty and the chorus rises like a Tsunami, one wave then two. An impeccably cool hard rock anthem.
In Another Life is back to a mellower mid paced aor ballad. Fans of American stadium ballads will love this. Another good track.
Time to go awol again with Blind. Like the opening metal fest, Blind is a modern hard rocker, just not as solid - production/mix also. It starts with a raw live feel, just a simple beat, then those vocals!
Rain stands out more than it should as it completely contrasts Blind. We're back to the more desired aor feel. A good more acoustic driven ballad, but not as stong as the previous two ballads.
More modern rock with the track Neverland. The closest thing to Metallica on the album.
Alive And Well is a moody mid tempo track that is neither a ballad or a rocker.
Rebel Heart is the closest thing to the Kane Roberts of old on the album. Maybe because it is the KR of old! This sound was featured on his last album saints & Sinners and is re-worked a little for this new album. Not sure why...
Big guitars, big vocal and a big driving anthem chorus. Yep, this is the Desmond Child co-write for the album.
BOTTOM LINE: Phoenix Down was a long time coming and now it's here, it isn't really comparable with Kane Roberts' most recognized classic album Saints & Sinners, but does contain a few great tracks that will send fans of commercial hard rock & heavy aor begging for more. The only problem is we don't get more. Not yet anyway.
PRODUCTION: 75%SONGS: 87%VIBE: 85%ATTITUDE: 80%
ESSENTIAL FOR: Kane Roberts fans, some Mike Slamer & Jim Peterik fans, fans of commercial US hard rock.
DISCOGRAPHY:Kane Roberts . Saints & Sinners . Phoenix Down


04/03/00: The Patman - patman @erols.com
Rating: 90
Not what i waited so long to hear at first, but boy did it grow on me. kane just can do no wrong. Please give me more!!!

16/02/00: Mike B - mbraun@shradercan.com
Rating: 95
I love this album, I love every song..yes, it's a bit heavier, but it's still Rock..not like that rap metal shit that's out there today. The production may be lacking a little, but I feel the music speaks for itself.

08/12/99: Darren - kissgodz@hotmail.com
Rating: 74
This is one of those highly anticipated releases that most fans
of great melodic hard rock look for.The 'Saints and Sinners'
release to me is one of the best overall cd's released in this genre,although I do think Desmond Child had alot to do with that.Kane's new effort under the name of PHOENIX DOWN
slightly falls short of expectations.The production on this cd
almost sounds demo form,and some of the songs do sound weak.'RECKLESS' is a great opener.Kane's vocals are awesome on this track,but the chorus does fall slightly.I can't believe Mike Slamer co-wrote this.Great track though.'I WANT IT AGAIN' is one of those weak songs I was talking about.It just doesn't seem to go anywhere.A bit of a disappointment after the first song.'WALK' is the first of the Peterik co-writes,and although a great song,I think the production lets this track down.Too many keyboards for me!!'LOVE GONE WRONG' is better than 'WALK'.Kane sounds great on this song.Strong chorus.This could easilly have fitted on 'Saints and Sinners'.'IN ANOTHER LIFE' is the first real ballad,and it is pretty cool.AWESOME chorus.Production on this song is great.A definate single.'BLIND'
is not a great song.It has that 90's sound.A low drowning vocal with bass rumbles in the verses, builds to an ok bridge before blowing into an alternate groaning chorus.This may take a few listens to get it.'RAIN' is another acoustic type ballad.The verses let this one down a little,but it does biuld into a pretty damn good chorus.'NEVERLAND' to me is the best track.This song is better than anything on his previous releases.Just wait til you hit the chorus.PURE GENIUS.The production of this song is brilliant.I can't get enough of this song.AWESOME stuff.'ALIVE AND WELL' is another of those acoustic ballads.Doesn't really do alot.A pretty standard song.'REBEL HEART' is the final song,and I don't really know why he decided to include this song.This does sound like the demo version of the song that made 'Saints and Sinners'.It sounds weak,and Kane's vocals in the chorus isn't too good.It sounds like he's struggling to keep up with the song.Overall I think I was a little disappointed with this release.Maybe 'Saints and Sinners' was SO GOOD that it doesn't give justice to this cd.In my opinion all the ballds tended to sound the same.Maybe he should've called this cd 'Dysfunctional'.Cause it is.'NEVERLAND' makes it all worthwhile though.

06/11/99: kazumi - kazumi-i@jd5.so-net.ne.jp
Rating: 0
OK

24/10/99: Ed - emroth4@hotmail.com
Rating: 60
The Peterik songs are great, and "Rain" is OK. The rest of the album is way too heavy, and sounds like it's been sitting in someone's basement since 198


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