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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



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