And after a couple of weeks of pretty meaty metal there’s melodic rock aplenty in the shape of Giant (pictured), Stage Dolls, Foreigner, Brian Howe and Rick Springfield.
It’s enough to make grown men weep and young ladies swoon. Or at least most of it is.
If Dan Huff just doesn’t have the space in his diary to commit to the reformed Giant full-time then he ensures his presence is felt all over this joy of a melodic rock beast. The band’s iconic former frontman is credited with adding classy touches to a number of songs on Promise Land but when it comes to the vocals there’s a new man in town.
Terry Brock has big shoes to fill but he fills them to the point of bursting. The Strangeways/Seventh Key crooner is perfectly suited to soaring tracks like Our Love and Double Trouble and manages to more than match his Giant predecessor. This is a record which oozes quality from start to finish and Brock must take a large share of the credit for putting his new band back on the melodic rock map.
Giant were always good. Now they’re even better.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Giant Strides
Former Bad Company Brian Howe might not be Paul Rodgers but he does boast one of the finest voices in rock and this delightful record is testimony to a singer supremely confident in his own ability. It’s 13 years since his first solo album but on this evidence it’s difficult to understand why Howe hasn’t been more prolific under his own name.
Tracks like I’m Surrounded and My Town are perfectly suited to his blues rock tones and the reworkings of Bad Co. tracks Holy Water and How About That sit well alongside Howe’s original material. This timely reminder of a singer with exceptional talent is long overdue.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Howe’s About That
The first new Foreigner album in 15 years promises much with the cracking title track getting the 70 million-sellers’ latest offering to a fine start. What follows is, however, a mixed bag from Mick Jones and his newly assembled band despite some sterling work from singer Kelly Hansen.
There’s the brilliant Angel Tonight, tucked away at number 12 on this 13-track showcase, but there’s also the instantly forgetable In Pieces and the very average I’ll Be Home Tonight.
As a rule this is typical Foreigner – pop rock classics given an edge thanks to Jones’ imperious guitar work. It will appeal to the band’s die-hard fans but everyone else will be left wanting more from a patchy return to studio action by a band which should knwo better.
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Can’t Pick Up The Pace
When the Stage Dolls released their self-titled third album in 1987, a record boasting the US hit Love Cries, it looked as if the future was rosy for one of Scandinavia’s glam metal favourites. The Norwegian rockers had the sound and the look to conquer the world and support slots with the likes of Europe, Warrant and Magnum suggested it would only be a matter of time before stardom came calling.
That their big breakthrough never happened was more due to changing musical tastes than the Stage Dolls’ output and, having survived the 90s intact, Torstein Flakne and co. continue to roll out raucous rock records. Always is a triumphant case in point with the title track, the powerful Rollin’ and the classy Highway’s Open as good as anything you’ll hear on the melodic rock scene this year.
Knock spots off Foreigner’s new album. Simple as that.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Stage Set For Success
Originally a US-only release this top 30 Stateside album has been repackaged for a European audience with a bonus track and DVD of Springfield’s Rockford show – again previously available in the US.
The CD is chock full of soft rock sensations including the driving title track and the super I’ll Miss That Someday. In fact the only critcism of another fine Frontiers release is that Springfield rarely leaves his comfort zone. There’s nothing wrong with a well produced album worthy of one of America’s greatest artists but we’d love Rick to stretch the boundaries and be a little bit braver. Maybe next time.
rushonrock rated: 7/10 Spring Has Sprung