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Strangeways - 'Walk In The Fire' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/64/b8/c6/1835_strangewayswalkinthefire_1325701512.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 04, 2012    
 
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Re-release of Strangeways' third classic album.

So, on to Strangeways' third classic album, 'Walk In The Fire' that was released in December 1989 and was recorded by the same line-up and at the same Swiss studio as 'Native Sons'. This time Ian Stewart co-produced the album himself with the engineer from the previous one, John Lee, but at the time it was met with some lukewarm reviews on account of it not being as immediate as its predecessor, even though today many people prefer it.

Style-wise it didn't differ from 'Native Sons' too much, the main differences being that the record was a bit more upbeat and less moody, the sound was bigger, and Terry Brock had come out of his Steve Perry period and was singing in the much earthier range that we now know him for. Yet again the songwriting was stellar, with bassist David Stewart getting three co-writes along with his brother and Brock, and the instrumentation was always interesting and never relied on the usual clich├ęs of much of its ilk. Individually you could put any track here on a recent melodic rock album and it would be the highlight, but as great as it is, I've always felt that it lacks the variety of 'Native Sons' and therefore comes out slightly below it in my eyes. It's much less of a rollercoaster ride with almost all the tracks having the same mid-paced groove, but that's only if you really try to dig for negatives as 'Where Are You Now?', 'Talk To Me', 'Living In The Danger Zone' and 'Walk In The Fire' have the same confident swagger that you'd already come to know and love from the band. The (slightly) lighter songs 'Love Lies Dying', 'Every Time You Cry' and 'After The Hurt Is Gone' all drip with taut emotion, whilst David Stewart's awesome bass playing adds even more to the already great 'Into The Night' and 'Danger In Your Eyes' and 'Modern World' could have been crossover pop/rock hits if they'd been handled correctly.

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Of the four bonus tracks, the likeably upbeat 'Jackie's Gone' is by far the best. It's a demo from the album sessions with Terry Brock singing much deeper than usual, while the other three all feature his replacement Charles Bowyer on demos for a proposed fourth album, and whilst Bowyer co-wrote them and his voice is pleasant enough, the dynamic of the band had already changed. One of the songs is 'Liberty', which of course appeared on their comeback album last year, the other two being 'Big Tom' and 'The Last Chance', both of which are worth hearing if somewhat lacking compared to what had gone before. It's a remarkable fact that the first three Strangeways albums don't contain a single filler, and how many bands can you say that about? They were products of their time for sure, but what a time that was!

Phil Ashcroft

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