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American Tears - 'Hard Core' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     June 27, 2018    
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Fans of seventies FM Rock will get a real kick out of what Mark Mangold has created here.

Mark Mangold should need know introduction, as his bands (Touch and Drive She Said) and their albums live in many of our record collections. His further musical forays and many guest spots on classic AOR albums have cemented his place in the Rock music pantheon. American Tears, however, might be a new name to some of you. This was the band Mangold was involved with before Touch/DSS, and this new album sees Mangold returning to a style of music that might take a while to understand or enjoy.

American Tears originally recorded three albums between 1974 and 1979, and they were primarily a three-piece that consisted of Mangold on multiple keyboards, Tommy Gunn on drums, and firstly Garry Sonny, and then Greg Baze on bass. Therefore the band were different from others around at that time because they had no guitar player.

This no guitar policy has survived, and 'Hard...' is a Hammond organ/keyboard rich album that you will either love or hate; I'm not sure if there is an in between place. I'm in the former camp, though it took a while for me to fall for this record's charms. Mainly because just using keyboards as a lead instrument is a strange musical prospect, but it does work.

Title track 'Hard Core', 'Carnivore', 'Smoke And Mirrors' and 'Fyre' are proof of this, and the clever way Mangold uses the Hammond organ to tell the musical stories of the songs is great to hear. My personal favourites are the more AOR-esque 'The Ferryman' and the superb 'Lords Of Light'; these are two tracks that, whilst being dramatic, intense and forceful, have rivers of melody running through them.

American Tears are a band (see interview) that play a type of music that is for the most part forgotten these days. Musicianship, lyrics, and the songs are what's most important to Mangold, and discovering the free form, almost Jazz-like way he's performed and written the music on this album is a wonderful way to spend an hour. Take the time this needs, and I'm sure fans of seventies FM Rock will get a real kick out of what Mark Mangold has created here.

Ian Johnson

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