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Speedway Boulevard - 'Speedway Boulevard' Hot

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Written by Central Electronic Brain     September 21, 2014    
 
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Another undiscovered gem that sounds a million dollars with Jon Astley’s punchy re-master.

Another fairly obscure re-master for the Pomp fans amongst us, U.S. quintet Speedway Boulevard released their only album way back in 1980, and although they were never heard of again, a couple of the members should be pretty well known to some of you. Firstly, bassist Dennis Feldman went on to join Balance and later changed his name to Dennis St. James for spells in MSG, Heaven, Skull, Arabia and Paul Stanley’s solo band. The other slightly more famous member is Dream Theater keyboard player Jordan Rudess, who announced his arrival to the music world with some virtuoso synth playing throughout.

Produced by the Kasenetz/Katz duo (the men responsible for unleashing Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’ and many novelty Pop acts), it’s pretty obvious why this album didn’t originally sell. It’s the kind of quirky and eccentric Pomp Rock record that was simply too original and varied for mass acceptance (a la Trillion, Aviary, Russia etc.). The band had a sound that actually pre-dated their release year and the songs were a blinding mix of gritty guitars, swirling synths, an energetic rhythm section and the rich, soulful voice of Roy Herring Jr. Rudess in particular is all over these songs, ranging from the straight Pomp of ‘Speedway Boulevard’ and ‘Chinatown’ to more off the wall moments like the catchy as hell, (almost) instrumental ‘Telephoto Lens’.

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The latter half of the album is even more varied, with ‘Prisoner Of Time’ having hints of Reggae and outright Metal along with the synth overkill and ‘Money Honey’ has hints of Saga’s odder moments. ‘(Call My Name) Rock Magic’ is a complete tour-de-force on its own with instrumentation that was years ahead of its time; there’s so much going on that it’s hard to believe that it’s under four and a half minutes long. If you like 1970s/1980s Pomp/Prog this is an essential release, or if you’re a Dream Theater completist then Rudess’ contribution will not disappoint. Another undiscovered gem that sounds a million dollars with Jon Astley’s punchy re-master.

Phil Ashcroft

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