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Chris Norman - 'Don't Knock The Rock' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/c3/dc/b8/chris-norman-dont-knock-the-rock-55-1520363915.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     March 06, 2018    
 
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Ranks amongst his very best work.

Here in England, Chris Norman is best known as the original vocalist for popular seventies act Smokie. Ironically, they are probably best remembered for a novelty re-recording of their hit 'Living Next Door To Alice' where they were joined by comedian Roy "Chubby" Brown who yelled "Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?" repeatedly in the chorus. Norman had departed Smokie many years prior to that, carving out for himself a very successful career as a solo artist, penning a variety of excellent songs for his trademark gravelly voice and enjoying a string of hits across Europe, particularly in Germany, where his song 'Midnight Lady' topped the charts for six weeks.

Due to that, he is often described as a "Soft Rock" singer, which is a bit of a misnomer as Norman can comfortably perform in a variety of styles. Following the template set by his last album 'Crossover', so called because he decided to simply record compositions he liked regardless of genre, 'Don't Knock The Rock' has a similar eclectic selection, albeit a better balanced one to these ears.

The title track is a cracking slice of souped-up Rock 'n' Roll, whereas the lead single 'Crawling Up The Wall' utilizes a piano part which is John Lennon-esque. The uplifting acoustic 'Sun Is Rising' is a catchy highlight, while the Country feel of 'Sweet Virginia' nestles next to the infectious groove of 'Good, Good Loving', both of which will get feet tapping.

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'Losing You', 'If We Had Wings' and 'Chasing After Starlight' are three prime examples of Norman's ability to write heart wrenching ballads, something that has won him a healthy female following, and his impassioned vocals on these are particularly impressive. However, he sounds equally at home on the breezy 'One Night Of Love' and the Hard Rock of 'Suicide Street'. There's even some Latin-flavoured Pop in the form of 'Straight To My Heart'. All this means you'd be hard pushed not to find something to like on this record.

Personally, I liked everything and Norman's decision to release albums himself and take control of almost all of the writing and instrumentation has really taken the creative shackles off. With no record company restricting or directing the composing, Chris Norman is free to do as he pleases. As a result, this album, like 2015's 'Crossover' and 2011's excellent 'There And Back', ranks amongst his very best work for me.

James Gaden

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