Reviews roundup – Rex Smith vs. Billy Valentine vs. The Violet Hour vs. Third Love vs. Light Freedom Revival
Rock And Roll Dream 1976 – 1983
Like, wow, really? A six CD set featuring the band and solo output of Rex Smith. A name that will result in a resounding who for the majority of the population. Me, I read the small print back in the days of the Wimphem column in Kerrap! magazine so was well aware that the first two albums here were AOR gems but surely there aren’t many of us left.
Those first two records were by the band Rex, fronted by Mr Smith, the wee brother of Starz vocalist Michael Lee Smith, and after all this time they’re still solid gold. However the albums didn’t sell and Rex headed off to US daytime telly where his good looks and hairy chest made him a hunk. So it was time for a solo career with the songs from movie of the week called Sooner Or Later”. The film probably won’t be available today what with his guitar tutor role falling for his 13 year old pupil!
Which meant a more poppy approach to things. And as seventies / eighties mainstream pop goes he was as good as many out there who had more success. It’s not really for me although by the time he got to the “Camouflage” days his telly star wasn’t twinkling so brightly which meant he went back to his melodic roots. So it’s 1, 2 and 6 for me. There are a few bonus tracks although they’re just the mono versions of three of the singles.
Quite who is going to buy this is a mystery but the first two discs are well worth hunting down in any format.
Brit Eyed Soul
Never heard of him. But it seems I have heard him as he sang the theme tune to the US legal drama “Boston Legal” which I was an avid viewer of back in the day. He’s also been featured in “Sons of Anarchy” but if you’re wanting to jump start something off those shows you really should have got a shift on.
Go further back and he was one of the Valentine Brothers who had the original hit with “‘Money’s Too Tight To Mention” before Simply Red got a hold of it. Even further back and he was a singer with Young-Holt Unlimited. So he’s got pedigree and a fine voice.
Shame then that this is a set of covers of songs from British artists, hence the title. He has looked far and wide so as well as the obvious Beatles, Elton John songs there’s trips to Culture Club, The Clash and the Rolling Stones. And even a Simply Red song!
When it works, it’s really good as the man can sing. But the John Lennon and Clash songs were terrible to begin with so just don’t work. But when he wraps his larynx around he Bee Gees’ “More Than A Woman” it’s a pure joy. Fair play for keeping at it, but it’s a right mixed bag.
THE VIOLET HOUR
Zoo House Records
I remember The Violet Hour. A prog nand who somehow got signed to a major in the early nineties. Talk about wrong timing! Things got even more confusing when I spotted a couple of Chastains in the band, but no mention of David T. Or Leather Leone for that matter.
This Violet Hour are a female fronted metal band from Arkansas who’ve decided to go for a gothy, doom metal approach to their music. Which works in places when a good song happens along. So that would be “Disfigured” and “Insatiable” coming out as winners.
But the production is quite poor unless they were going for the recorded in a toilet vibe and it comes across more as a demo than a legit release. There is promise here but there needs to some more time spent polishing thing up.
Some mainstream rock now and for that we’re off to Vienna in Austria to catch up with the duo of lyricist and singer Nora Frohlich, and songwriter and guitarist Martin Wohlmuth.
Apparently this debut album went to number 1 on the Austrian download charts the week it was released which must mean that Austrians really like listening to old fashioned seventies pop rock. On the plus side it kept the godawful ‘ La La Land’ soundtrack off the top spot.
Because that’s what you’re getting here. It’s very melodic and well constructed but to my ears just misses out on having a couple of killer tunes. But it does have merit with the opening “Coming Home” the best of the bunch so if you yearn for mid tempo throwback pop / rock tunes give this a good streaming.
LIGHT FREEDOM REVIVAL
Eterniverse Deja Vu
To the Canadian colonies for some prog. And singer-songwriter John Vehadija must have a very extensive address book or access to a cache of blackmail photos.
See he’s reeled in the likes of Billy Sherwood (Drums, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards) and Oliver Wakeman (Lead Keyboards) to appear here, helped along by Eric Gillette (Lead Guitar) and Marisa Frantz (Harmony Vocals). I’ll let Mr Vehadija explain things.
“From the perception of the Light Omniverse, right now each of us are consciously or unconsciously, passing through quantum stargates by simply making decisions about where our lives are going, and our minds are slowly learning to use a sort of a holographic customized reality operating system, leading us into the kind of future we would like to experience. I know I’m headed towards this exit timeline, where Earth evolves to become the centre of a gigantic crystal space city of light called the Avatar that represents the point of focus for the entire Light Creation with a sealed cornucopian light society template. That is for me the true Ascension into the Eterniverse and I wanted the songs to reflect that!”
No, me neither. But what I’m hearing is some really good seventies melodic prog which certainly explains the appearance of Sherwood and Wakeman. The former has done a good job as co-producer and songs like “Dream Again”, “Go Amplify The Feeling” and “Stay Strong With Me” are deserving of a home in any prog lovers collection. Recommended.