CD Reviews

Le Roux - 'Last Safe Place' / 'So Fired Up' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 28, 2013    
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These are the best sounding versions of both these albums on the market.

It's been a few years since Rock Candy put out an excellent remaster of Le Roux's brilliant 1980 album 'Up', and here they complete the trio of the band's albums that should appeal to hard rock/AOR fanatics, although 'Last Safe Place' still carries a degree of disappointment. A massive departure from the funky Southern and Country leanings of their first two albums, 'Up' gave free reign to Jeff Pollard's melodic hard rock vision of what Le Roux should be. However, disappointing sales saw the unhappy guitarist and singer taking a back seat for 'Last Safe Place', which was written mostly by keyboard player Rod Roddy, bassist Leon Medica and guitarist Tony Haselden and at times heads back into funky MOR territory. Only the lively opener 'Addicted', the superbly arranged title track and 'You Know How Those Boys Are' rock with any real conviction, but the more pop-oriented 'It Doesn't Matter' and 'Long Distance Lover' are enjoyable enough tunes with neat musicianship and catchy hooks. On the other hand, the ballads 'Inspiration', 'Midnight Summer Dream' and 'Make Believe' were lacklustre songs sung by other band members with smoother tones than Pollard's gritty roar. It's perhaps ironic that the nice Westcoast vibe of 'Nobody Said It Was Easy' (check out those drum fills at the end!) hit the US singles chart when songs from 'Up' had failed, but despite the boost it gave to album sales, Pollard and percussionist Bobby Campo left the band and all touring plans were cancelled.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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By 1983 the band had opted to take the Journey route with 'So Fired Up', bringing in their own answers to Schon and Perry in guitarist Jim Odom and former Trillion and Angel vocalist Fergie Frederiksen. With the new guys heavily involved in the writing with stalwarts Roddy and Haselden, the album was a truly great AOR record with so many soaring highlights that it's almost pointless naming the songs. Suffice to say that there are many examples of well arranged AOR tunes with dynamic guitar and keyboard parts and Frederiksen's soaring tenor, but if pressed I would single out the up-tempo title track and rocking closer 'Look Out', the memorable choruses of 'Carrie's Gone' and 'Turning Point', and maybe the atmospheric 'Lifeline' as the best of the lot – so good that Uriah Heep covered it on their 'Raging Silence' album. It's actually a toss up between 'So Fired Up' and Toto's 'Isolation' for Frederiksen's best recorded performance.

These are the best sounding versions of both these albums on the market, and with sleeve essays by Dave Reynolds I would heartily recommend 'So Fired Up' as a no brainer, with 'Last Safe Place' as a cautious completist purchase if you already own and love 'Up'.

Phil Ashcroft

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Neil Tudor said:

So Fired Up.... continually in my top 5 ever AOR albums....Fergies finest hour!! just edges out Isolation.... rock candy re master has every instrument seperated..loud and clear...(the original pressing on vinyl was no slouch either) perfect combo of gtr and keys..... check out Lerouxs live album called "Live AOR" has a rare track from this album on it.... "Line On Love" with Fergie at the vocal helm..awesome
May 19, 2018
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