SEE BELOW TO ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW!
TOMMY SHAW / 7DEADLY ZENS
CMC INTERNATIONAL 06076-86252-2
OVERALL: 91%
  1. Ocean
  2. Stop Knocking
  3. All In How You Say It
  4. What Do You Want From Life
  5. In This Night
  6. Half A Mind
  7. Straight Down The Line
  8. Diamond
  9. Inspiration
  10. Who I Am
  11. Down On the Ground
  12. A Place To Call My Own
  13. It Doesn't Show (Hidden Bonus)
Believe it or not - this is the first record to feature a whole album of Tommy Shaw vocals since his last solo record in 1987. Damn it's great to hear the boy sing!
Tommy is a legend and I love everything he is involved in. The Damn Yankees debut record must be one of the most inspired bloody album's ever.
So in between Styx and Damn Yankees duties comes the fourth Tommy Shaw solo album.
Featuring a stack of guests and friends this album is different than I had expected. It really mixes his styles and influences and manages to sound cohesive while changing from one to another and overall is a much more mature recording.
Add to that the enhanced CD parts, where Tommy has added liner notes, pictures, lyrics and some cool and funny video's and this has to be an essential purchase for any rock music fan.
The opener Ocean starts with a great acoustic intro and leads into an instant classic rocker with a chorus that isn't so obvious but none less catchy.
One of the best tunes I have ever heard Tommy be a part of and a live and party favourite right off.
The track features Jack Blades, Ted Nugent and Michael Cartellone and is a genuine hint of where the next Damn Yankees record to be recorded next year may start up.
Stop Knocking is like a more electrified Shaw/Blades track. A little country and a little rock and a lot of acoustics. Jack is back on Bass and CJ Vanston adds some great organ. Todd Sucherman of Styx is on drums.
All In How You Say It is a real bluesy ballad with a stack of organ and a great vocal from Tommy. I haven't heard him sing anything like this before and is one of the more musically mature songs of the album.
What Do You Want From Life starts of all funky and bluesy with a raspy vocal. The songs heads through the verse and then rises up and smacks you in the ass with a rocking acoustic driven chorus! Then, back into the blues. Great track, very passionate vocal and another favourite. Features Tommy, John Pierce and Todd.
In This Night starts with some guitar effects and heads into boogie rock territory with a real blues rock beat. It's the trio of Tommy, Todd and John again, but this songs sounds so much bigger.
A blues based rocker with a fast tempo and a brief chorus.
Half A Mind is another new direction for Tommy. It is a mid tempo acoustic ballad that features a duet vocal from Alison Krauss and a string quartet. Moody and beautiful!
Straight Down The Line gets things going again and yes it is the same tracks that appears as a bonus track on the Japanese release of Shaw/Blades. This version is more rocked up and doesn't feature any Jack Blades vocals - juts bass. Dueting this time is REO Speedwagon's Kevin Cronin. A fast paced rocker with plenty of electric and acoustic guitars. Another fav!
Diamond is like In This Night - blues based with a little country and plenty of boogie! A up tempo rocker featuring CJ, Jack and Todd, this track could easily be stripped back for a country track.
Inspiration features Marco Mendoza on bass and Tommy on most other instruments.
It is another new sound in that it is acoustic based and quiet for the first minute and a half then heads into some full on effects and sounds and a lot of rocking. Not an anthem of a chorus but a prominent one nevertheless.
Down On The Ground is another earthy blues based tune with plenty of soulful guitars and vocals from Tommy. Jack and Michael Cartellone pop up again. A mid paced song with some R&B harmony vocals.
Straight off Who Am I is a rocker. But it's not your usual rocker. Nearly 6 minute in length it varies from a thoughtful verse to a heavy chorus with plenty of drum thumping and solo's. Darker too.
Place To Call My Own is a very deep and mysterious track. Ted Nugent is back, but is very restrained in delivering some controlled slow guitar work and impressing me no end! The solo is a killer.
A great vocal from Tommy, I think he really stretches himself here. The chorus is moody but melodically uplifting and forms a great ballad.
The last track is hidden and is merely a female talking over some samples. A weird way to end the record, but this has been a different type of record!
All in all, bloody brilliant. It may take a few more listens than the average Shaw record because it isn't the straight forward rock album you might expect. That is because it is deeper and more complex than any of his previous work. Buy it and be impressed at the man's talent.
PRODUCTION: 94%SONGS: 90%VIBE: 89%ATTITUDE: 95%


05/08/05: Marcio Tex - marciotex@walla.com
tommy shaw is tommy shaw!! genius!!
the entire album is cool!! awesome!!
it's a must for all AOR lovers!!

05/05/05: Davy Caughran - caughran@hotmail.com
"Inspiration" what can I say. this CD never quits. Tommy glows and this music is true Shaw struming. I loved thiswhen it came out and still do. This music will always be current! hard drivin! wish could hear more of this in concerts! Davy

06/12/03: Michele - geezlemoog@hotmail.com
I love this CD! It has never been rotated out of my car CD changer since I bought it. It is so different and the vibe is so great, that I never get tired of hearing it. I just wish more people could discover this gem. CMC really should have done more to hype this CD, it appeals to many of my friends who have differing tastes in music. TS, you rock.

10/02/03: Sharon - Shawsbabe@aol.com
Hey guys!

I don't know who these Suzanne is who posted using MY email address but this is not me. 7 DeadlyZens is one of my all time favorite CDs. Whoever is using my identity to slam Tommy, stop before I'm forced to take some type of action!

Sharon CERTAINLY NOT Suzanne!

30/05/01: carolina chaux - cchaux@yahoo.com
Damn Yankees are really the best!!
I like them so much!!

03/12/00: Brad - bdame@snet.net
As a longtime fan of Styx and the Damn Yankees, I can't help but be interested in Tommy's solo efforts. I had heard all three of his solo albums from the '80s, but the only one I ever owned was "Ambition"--his last one until this one. What a great melodic pop/rock album that was with such songs as "No Such Thing", "Dangerous Game", and the remake of a song off of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" album called "Ever Since the World Began"--an absolutely beautiful song. This latest effort, on the other hand, is quite different. It isn't as "straight ahead" and predictable, and there is a lot of experimentation with different styles on the album. And still--it is excellent. There are elements of Shaw/Blades in some of the songs ("Straight Down the Line" comes to mind), but there are other influences as well. "Ocean" is a great leadoff track, and the album continues to surprise right through the strange hidden last track. Sometimes when artists "experiment" it is a disaster--losing the interest of old fans. Not so with Tommy here. He draws on all of his past influences to come up with an album that is both unique and entertaining. His voice is also still excellent. Too bad that--like so many releases from this type of artist in this day and age--it is not more widely recognized. Still, it's a fine release that was a pleasant surprise. Not at all what I expected, and in this case that's a compliment. On a scale of 1-100, I'll rate it a 91. (As a comparison mode, I'll rate 1987's "Ambition" at 92.)

28/03/99: Dave - luv2party8@aol.com
The original hype on this album was that it was to be a Best of Tommy Shaw’s solo albums with two or three new songs on it. However, once Tommy got in the writing mode he literally couldn’t quit. Before he knew it, he had enough new material by itself to make a CD. He then prioritized all of the songs, old and new, and found the new stuff had pushed all of the new stuff to the bottom of the list. The result is a new Tommy Shaw CD with brand new songs. Not only is this album his best solo album to date it is contains some of his finest work ever.
The first cut, and the first single, "Oceans" features an all-star line-up that includes his Damn Yankee Brothers (Jack, Ted, and Michael) on Guitar, Bass, and Drums and has Ed Roland (Collective Soul) singing the Beatlesque bridge of 8 bars. It is one of the most upbeat songs on the album and starts out with that bluesy "chicken pickin" guitar similar to the guitars Tommy and Ted incorporate into Damn Yankees songs (like at the beginning of "Mystified" and "Pile Driver"). It is the love of this kind of blues texture that has resulted in the claim made by Tommy and Ted that they are actually “a couple of black guys trapped in the bodies of white men.” As Tommy says on the enhanced portion, "When Ted and I get together we are nothing but a couple of black guys playing the blues.")

After "Oceans", Tommy kicks into "Stop Knockin’ which features a driving, whaling lead guitar on top of an acoustic guitar with an alternative punch to it. The song stays within the boundaries of Tommy Shaw even though it ends with a crying violin solo that sounds similar to the violins in the Beatles version of "I am the Walrus". Tommy immediately jumps into the third song, "All In How You Say It", which has this cool intro with a dissonant guitar riff straight from the Twilight Zone. The first verse begins with a Wurlitzer and this awesome, funky sounding bouncing bass line in it that reminds me a bit of the bass in Michael Jackson’s "Billie Jean" but don’t let that discourage you because this song is way too cool. Tommy sings the first verse with a low voice that’s full of soul swinging emotion gradually shifting the pitch of his vocals higher as the song moves along with the second verse a full octave higher than the first. This is one of the most unique songs I’ve ever heard, perhaps intriguing and spellbinding are better words, but it is definitely one of my favorites, not only musically, but lyrically as well.
"What Do You Want From Life" showcases a palm-muted, tic tac guitar riff running through the verses with strumming acoustic guitars and electric guitars playing appreggios in the chorus. Thus, this song reminds me a of a funked-up "Runaway" (off of the debut DY’s CD). The awesome hook in the chorus allows Tommy’s voice to soar while a heavy distorted lead solo with some intense phrasing sounds as if it’s talking to you. "In This Mind", a rocker that sounds like the song "Damn Yankees" (minus Ted) crossed with "Too Much Time On My Hands" rounds out the "excellent first five songs".

Shaw returns to his blues-based "chicken pickin" that keeps rearing its head throughout the album and offers cohesion to a rather diverse collection of songs. This time the "chicken pickin" is used to establish a mellow little ditty which features Shaw singing a duet with Allison Krauss. This song with its mellow, folksy charm and great harmonies manages to grow on you. Shaw also does another duet, this time with Kevin Cronin of REO. This upbeat rocker sounds most like the DY’s probably because Jack Blades contributes some pretty powerful bass runs as well as co-writing the song with Tommy.

If there are any songs better than the first 5, it is 3 of the last 4 tracks (which is actually six songs). "Inspiration" is a lot like the DY’s "Here I Come Again" but with a touch of folk. Although the guitar may not measure up to the killer 12 string intro and there is no Nugent leads, this song is much better written. The first verse showcases some killer 6 string acoustic picking with Tommy singing on the lower end of his range, before the bass and drums kick in allowing Tommy’s vocals to climb and soar above the song before it slips into a Pink Floydish ending (actually a separate song made up of taped effects accompanied by the Murmuring Tommynacle Choir.)

"Who I Am" starts out with a patented Tommy Shaw solo screaming over a bluesy bouncing bass line and some cool chorused guitar picking. This song is basically the blues sung and played Tommy style and he makes it literally come alive. It is in the order of a toned down, bluesy "Blue Collar Man" and like "All in How" it is certainly one of my favorites. In addition, to Tommy’s leads and vocals, there is some great guitar, organ, and some cool "soul singers" belting out the background vocals. This song also ends with another song called "Need Water" that features taped effects including an "Ocean" background voices saying "Sound Like I Need Water". This sounds great through stereo headphones as the effects are panned from left to right.

My third favorite, "Down on the Ground", is a bluesy, rocker that’s power packing characteristic is worthy of "Renegade" and "Tell Me How You Want It". Definitely the heaviest song on the album and a "must see live" song.
The last song on the album is "A Place To Call My Own". Like the opener, it features Nugent on lead guitar. This song is about the homeless and is reminiscent of Shaws earlier, more serious work with Styx. However, this is the weakest of the last four songs and Nugents’ solo is the brightest moment. The album ends with a hidden track that is similar to the other Floydish, tape effect songs piggybacked on to "Inspiration" and "Who I Am" although it is indeed a separate track. It is basically a chant about peace of mind and the 7 Zens and serves as a good closer to an excellent album.

7 Deadly Zens is an excellent showcase for Tommy Shaws talents. It also shows a unique side of Tommy never seen before where he is able to demonstrate a very sophisticated sound that still appeases the general rock n’ roll audience. This album rates very high: a 9.5 on a scale of 1 to 10. It is definitely one of the best albums of 1998 along with the relatively obscure band Dakota and their album “The Last Standing Man”.

David

From <a href=http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Lounge/8937/index.html>Dave's Latest Music News and Reviews.</a>





25/02/99: CHUCK - onmyway612@webtv.net
What can i say about one of the greastest voices
in rock history!!!
His versatility is remarkable.
My personal favorite on the cd is:
Stop knockin my heart
Hope to see him and the STYX gang
out on tour again this summer!!!
Long live ROCK N ROLL(STYX)!!!!!!

13/01/99: Goran - gowa@bktag.se
Thanks Tommy for 1998 years best CD. I`ve never heard a better ballad then A place to call my own(great guitar,Ted), and there is some great rocking too. Once again thanks.

08/01/99: Eduardo Rocha - eduardor@credicard.com.br
It is not similar with the great Damn Yankees, however this is a very cool album. I would recommend for those that have enjoyed Shaw-Blades (Hallucination) and Tom Petty. Rate: 8/10.

19/11/98: Dorrien Phillips - Dorrienp@hotmail.com
Well it"s not Ambition, but what will be, this album sees Tommy realising his own work. Sure he could have just gone to Ted,Jack and Mike to make the album but no, he"s decided (Quite rightly!!) to go himself, okay the lads are there, but this is Tommy Shaw, and not Damn Yankees, but boy what a comeback solo album. "Stop Knockin" is almost good enough for "Ambition". Great album tommy, but please,please re-release Ambition on cd again

18/11/98: Thomas Hoeifors - spin@online.no
This is a really good record! I was hoping to hear Jack Blades sing on it, but he didn"t. At least he"s playing some great bass on it! Anyway... Tommy Shaw"s singing is great and there"s some really nice tunes on this record, tunes stat sticks in your head! Great work, Tommy (and Jack - for the bass:)) !!! (PS! I would like to hear another Shaw / Blades thing... That was also a very cool record!) - Keep Rockin" !!! From Thomas in Norway

28/10/98: G.T. - Trenden@aol.com
Had to come back and add a few more things. This work by Tommy Shaw provides a great variety of instrumentation and what a ton of work to put in all the extra hours to find and craft so many sounds into the project. It shows a work ethic that brings creativity, passion and artistic touch while exemplifying to me the obvious discipline and perseverance to structure that such a fine work would have demanded. Admit it Tommy, a "young" man (especially and angry one) could not have made this record. Stay young T.S.!! BTW, I think "All in how you say it" could have radio airplay as well as "Diamond" . I personally would like both of these and to hear "What do you want from life". I like this last one just as it is but, it would probably need a different intro to make radio. If I heard any of these songs on a single sampler I would rave not because they are by Tommy Shaw but, because they are quality reflection of a seriously equipped artist.

28/10/98: G.T. - Trenden@aol.com
This is a fine and intelligent album with a wide spectrum of perspectives while being simply a great listen. You can listen to the lyrics or just sit back and enjoy the music or both. It is a champion showing Tommy's great voice range and the production quality is tops. Great job T.S., now play in Los Angeles!!!

23/10/98: Markus - Pfeffer.Markus@t-online.de
This album was a nice surprise! Not at all what I expected, but I love it!

The song "All in how you say it" will always be one of my alltime-faves, it's marvellous!

09/10/98: McMack - MikMack@aol.com
This album is spectacular. 'Nuff said.

20/09/98: MARK ALAN - MKDESERTMOON@EARTHLINK.NET
THE BEST WORK TOMMY HAS DONE IN A LONG TIME. BUY THIS ALBUM!

25/08/98: Marko - orsted@uillinois.edu
Styx - Awesome, Tommy Shaw circa 80's - Awesome, Damn Yankees - Awesome, Shaw/Blades - huh? no thanx, Tommy Shaw - 7DZ - Awesome! I think TS missed a step with the Shaw/Blades release, and I think now it is evident that the mis-step was due to Jack Blades new-found love for overly acoustic, droning vocals, and the "newer" sounds. Tommy throws us back to the style of old, with a few rockers approaching classic Styx & Damn Yankees sounds, while always retaining Tommy's own in-imitable style. Great stuff!

21/08/98: cantona - cantona7@freemail.c3.hu
It's not a real comment.I haven't heard about the album.But Tommy's voice is one of the best voices in the world.Good luck to the album, Tommy!!!

31/07/98: Marc Bryant - BRYANTMA@sterlingdi.com
7 Deadly Zens is by far one of the most diverse rock records I've heard in a long time. He manages to weave in out different styles while retaining what has become that classic Tommy Shaw style of writing. He goes from an all out rocker (Oceans) to a southern rock tune (Stop Knockin') to a straight R&B jam (All In How You Say It) all within the first three tracks of the album. Highlights would have to be Oceans, What Do You Want From Life, Straight Down The Line and Inspirations. Two other noteworthy tracks would be the AC radio ready ballads Half A Mind (a duet with Allison Krauss) and A Place To Call My Own which features a gut wrenchingly emotional solo from Ted Nugent. If Night Ranger's Seven and this album are any indication of where Damn Yankees new material is headed, we are in for one helluva an album in 1999. Thanks for all the great AOR coverage, Andrew! Bloody good site!

29/07/98: E.M. - mthprf@aol.com
Tommy has an incredible voice! I had a feeling when i bought the cd it would be great. i was right! He has come through just as he has in Styx and Damn Yankees! Diamond and Ocean are totally rockin'! This boy can sing! It's great summer music and just pure solid rock!

28/07/98: Marilyn - MHoltz1001@aol.com
I thought Shaw-Blades' Hallucination wwas the best and there was no way Tommy Shaw could put out an album of solo material that could be near as good. Well with a little help from his friends, including Jack Blades, Shaw has done just that. The more you listen to this album, the more you find to love. The variety of songs really does it for me, from the hounting HALF A MIND to the all out rocking of IN THIS NIGHT to the bluesy WHO I AM just got to get "Zenned".

24/07/98: Pat Beals - pbeals@m289.lasall.k12.il.us
Tommy has done a fine job with this record. Quite a variety of musical styles, but it still comes down as a Tommy Shaw effort. Guests add a lot especially the vocals by Ed Roland on Ocean and Kevin Cronin on Straight Down The Line. It looks like Tommy is getting some much deserved radio airplay for Ocean and hopefully other songs will get their chances, too. Tommy put a lot of hard work and promotion into the album and any commercial success it attains would be justly deserved!!!

23/07/98: Zach - zach.clayton@columbia.net
I was very surprised with this album. With guest singers & musicians coming & going like a revolving door, I was concerned that the album would suffer. Who would have thought Allison Kraus & Ted Nugent on the same album!!!!

I was wrong. Great diversity & music. A very very good driving disc.

BUY IT!!!!!

22/07/98: Nicole - coepre@aol.com
7DZ is not what I expected and yet, everything I expected!Each time I listen to it, I pick a new favorite. "All In How You Say It" seems to be my most frequent favorite followed by "Straight Down The Line". Thanks Tommy for all of the hard work. I am impressed!

20/07/98: Robert - robtcul@sprynet.com
this is the Tommy Shaw CD that grabs Shaw's worst critics by the neck and says "ADMIT THAT YOU LIKE IT OR DIE!!!"

20/07/98: Wrenne - aztecpizza42@yahoo.com
I am a lo-o-o-o-ongtime fan of Tommy's. He is one of those artists whose work is ALWAYS excellent! I was thrilled to hear the voice of Marina Sirtis on spoken tracks such as "Need Water". My favorites are the straight rockers such as "Straight Down The Line", and "Ocean". The fact that this is an enhanced CD is all the better!

20/07/98: Kim - kim.styx@sympatico.ca
This is the best solo effort of Tommy Shaw. I thought it was going to be a hard job to do better than the Shaw/Blades album, but he did it.
I think "All In How You Say It" and "Inspiration" are sure hits.
This album is refreshing and exciting as it takes you on a musical ride from beginning to end. All the songs are different and offers something special.
You really have to listen to know what I'm talking about.

19/07/98: Mark - ketch22@telisphere.com
What can I say? I expected another Ambition,
or a Damn Yankees remake, but instead I got the
best group of songs I have ever listened to since
"Kiss Me Hello" or the Grand Illusion Album. Good
job TS and can't wait for Styx's new CD!!!!

19/07/98: George - Georgew2@prodigy.net
Since there's no such thing as a perfect 10, I'd rate this c.d. a 9.99! The first track "Ocean" is terriffic. And "Down on the ground" is even beter. I'll be thanking my wife for months for buying this C.D.


ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW!

Name:

E-mail:

Comment: