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Strangeways - 'Perfect World' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/8a/47/2b/716_Strangewayscover_1286992264.jpg Hot

Added by James Gaden     October 13, 2010    
 
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Reunion album from the Scottish rockers, fronted by Terry Brock

 

Has hell frozen over? It’s difficult to believe that we finally have a new Strangeways record to hand, after all it has only been 10 years since ‘Gravitational Pul’l and twenty one...yes twenty one years since the last collaboration with American singer Terry Brock. For many, a Strangeways reunion of the most successful line up had become something of a fantasy, even dedicated long time fans liked to think it would, but had somewhere in the subconscious already decreed that it would never occur. 2010 has proved to be the year that hell did indeed freeze over and saw Ian  Stewart, Terry Brock,  Jim Drummond and David ‘Munch’ Moore return to the studio to once again weave the magic associated with the Scottish /American AOR supergroup.

As with any reunion, particularly within the AOR/melodic rock genre, the assumption would be that this line up would simply transport themselves back in time to 1992 and pick up where they left off with ‘Walk in the Fire’. Not the case. Purists may find their feathers slightly ruffled as if you are expecting another ‘WITF’ or ‘Native Sons’ then Perfect World is not that album. What some tend to forget is after the departure of Brock in 1991, the band did continue to record and release albums ‘And the Horse’ in 1994, ‘Any day Now’ in 1998 and the aforementioned ‘Gravitational Pull’ in 2000.

These albums saw a departure from the radio friendly slick AOR of WITF and Native Sons toward a more thoughtful sound not a million miles away from Pink Floyd. On ‘Perfect World’, Ian Stewart continues his writing journey as a musician not willing to be pigeonholed of defined by one type of music or album. What Strangeways 2010 have is the return of Terry Brock to put that American gloss and melody to the framework supplied by Stewart.  ‘Perfect World’ is the continuation of where Ian Stewart wanted to go as a writer, but where as the subsequent releases after ‘Walk In The Fire’ possibly strayed too far from the tried and trusted path of AOR for many fans, on this album, there can be no doubt that the return of Brock to the fold has helped steer the good ship Strangeways back to more familiar territory.

Songs such as the title track and ‘Movin’ On’ offer a nod to the past whilst showing a more aggressive Strangeways. ‘Liberty’ is simply C-L-A-S-S. This song alone is worth the price of the album, Stewart riffing and wailing all over it whilst Brock’s soaring vocal, particularly on the bridge and chorus, ...well.....no words can describe it really.....monstrous, sublime, outrageous are all words which could be used, but would still fail to do it the justice it deserves. Possibly the biggest surprise on the album is the heavyweight monster ‘Bushfire’, built on the back of a riff that a certain Jimmy Page might unleash, shades of Zeppelin in ‘Kashmir’ mode come to mind, but Brock’s ever melodic vocal pulls it right back from the brink of plagiarism. A special mention must go the organic beauty of ‘Too Far Gone’. For those familiar with Kip Winger’s ‘How Far Will We Go’ from his ‘This conversation seems like a Dream’, ,Too far Gone, could be from the same album, the same rootsy  organic stripped back style but still with plenty in the mix to make it a standout track in the Strangeways catalogue.

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‘Perfect World’ may not be the return wished and hoped for by many, but what it is in actual fact is a band that are twenty years older, wiser and better players than when they parted ways in 1991. The material is cut from the cloth that Ian Stewart has helped weave. It’s real, it’s raw, it’s chunkier than you might think despite the fact that if I were to level one complaint at this album, it contains too many slower numbers and only two bona fide in your face rockouts. In saying that I don’t believe anyone has ever offered praise for the most rocking album of all time or the most laid back album of all time. What ‘Perfect World’ is about is a journey of rediscovery for the band and the fans through an album of excellently written and presented songs lovingly crafted to make you think, feel and share in the sentiment of each and every song. An instant fix it is not, it requires many repeated plays just to begin to appreciate exactly what is on offer. If you are prepared to go the distance with this album you will find much in it that only reveals itself on repeated plays. Initially I was unsure about this, it’s different, it’s rock, it’s very melodic, it’s just not delivered wrapped up in the radio friendly format of yesteryear. No matter what, people will always make reference to ‘Native Son’s and ‘Walk In The Fire’, and rightly so as they still stand up after twenty years.

I look forward to hearing some of these tracks live at Firefest where I have no doubt two of three of these songs will find themselves in the live set for some time to come......and pretty quickly become live fan favourites. My money is on ‘Bushfire’, ‘Perfect World’ and ‘Liberty’....and NO....I don’t know if they are in the set list......but I’m hoping so!

Kieran Dargan

 

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Average user rating from: 1 user(s)

Overall rating 
 
4.8
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5.0  (1)
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5.0  (1)
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4.0  (1)
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5.0  (1)
Well well well, and WOW!..melodic rock with perhaps a celtic twist. Got this thru the snail mail today and have only had one listen and have imediatelly discovered that this is an album that will grow and grow with every listen, like And the Horse every play will reveal something new.
This is my album of the year closely followed by Karnataka'sThe Gathering Light, and Panic Room's Satelite, this is how AOR should have always been, thoughtful, well crafted and pure class. The only minor critisism is that on my hi fi Ian's guitar doesnt seem to come through the mix as well as it might, the cadences just dont seem to come to the fore, but its still enough to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up .
I cant make the Firefest this year, but, Im one of the lucky ones to have been there at that last live gig at Spilsby Theatre and still remember the rather curious sight Barbara Dickson in the audience feet tapping away! The biggest regret is that Ill miss them back with Terry Brock playing live, and perhaps to record it for posterity with my trusty Fuji
Buy this album and support this band there could be alot more to come, they certainly deserve it on this showing.
Overall rating 
 
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5.0
Reviewed by mhcowmeadow October 18, 2010
Top 10 Reviewer  -   View all my reviews (1)

Resurection

Well well well, and WOW!..melodic rock with perhaps a celtic twist. Got this thru the snail mail today and have only had one listen and have imediatelly discovered that this is an album that will grow and grow with every listen, like And the Horse every play will reveal something new.
This is my album of the year closely followed by Karnataka'sThe Gathering Light, and Panic Room's Satelite, this is how AOR should have always been, thoughtful, well crafted and pure class. The only minor critisism is that on my hi fi Ian's guitar doesnt seem to come through the mix as well as it might, the cadences just dont seem to come to the fore, but its still enough to make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up .
I cant make the Firefest this year, but, Im one of the lucky ones to have been there at that last live gig at Spilsby Theatre and still remember the rather curious sight Barbara Dickson in the audience feet tapping away! The biggest regret is that Ill miss them back with Terry Brock playing live, and perhaps to record it for posterity with my trusty Fuji
Buy this album and support this band there could be alot more to come, they certainly deserve it on this showing.

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