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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%



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