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Escape Music ESM - 073
Produced by: Not Listed / Mixed By: Paul Dean

Released: OUT NOW / Website
Relatives: Loverboy, Von Groove

  1. Believe Yourself
  2. Obsession
  3. Rising Sun
  4. Life Ever After
  5. Erotic
  6. Vision Of The Very Young
  7. Mistaken Ways
  8. Hey You
  9. Wildest Dreams
  10. Little Something

Total Stranger are a Canadian rock outfit, and this is their second album.
This is a review with a difference, as Escape Music have very generously organised for the band's out of print debut album to be packaged and released together with the new album.
So this release is actually the new record Obsession and the self titled debut.
The twist here is I actually rate the debut higher than the new album, but being that this is a 2 for 1 deal, you can't go wrong.
The new album was mixed by Loverboy's Paul Dean, which ensures things sound tight and not to far away from Dean's influence over Loverboy on their last studio album. A producer was not listed.
The debut was produced by Von Groove's Matthew Gerrard. Again, some comparisons to VG are valid.
The current album Obsession features some great melodic moments, none better than the keyboard driven moody title track, but more often than not, the guys are more guitar dominated.
The raspy vocals of Cream/Believe In Yourself are comparable to those of higher octave version of Harry Hess.
There is certainly a range of styles, especially in the first 4 tracks - all are completely different.
The title track reminds me of a young Stan Bush.
The moody Vision Of The Very Young has a moody Def Leppard type vibe, while Believe In Yourself is an in your face guitar rocker, to Wildest Dreams which is an acoustic almost modern rock track.
I am not sure the running order of the album flows as well as it could, as the diversity in the songs cause the pace to vary.
Not so on the self titled debut though!
This is a much more consistent, free flowing and traditional melodic/AOR release! The sound is more keyboard dominated and clearly a step back towards the 80's, but the song writing and chorus qualities are incomparable to the new album.
I just dig these songs better. I feel they have better choruses, more catchy hooks and are certainly closer to sticking to the one style throughout the record. Meaning, if you like one track, you'll like them all!
Guitar driven melodic rock like Can't Stop is pretty much a good reason why many of us are into this genre.
A solid and very enjoyable release and another reason why Canada is renowned for bringing great bands into the world.
BOTTOM LINE: Packaging both albums together is a generous move that doesn't leave the record buying public out of pocket or with a dilemma of which album to buy. Instead, get it and choose for yourself. There will be some that dig both albums equally, but I feel that the difference between the two will mean that most like one over the other. The new album takes more listening than the self titled debut, but both are rewarding melodic albums.
So either way, you can't lose, as at least one of these two albums will no doubt do it for you and if they both do - bonus!!
ESSENTIAL FOR: Canadian melodic rock fans, fans of melodic rock delivered in a varied and original manner.
DISCOGRAPHY:Total Stranger . Obsession

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