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Richard Marx - 'Stories To Tell' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/32/dc/b1/924_RichardMarxStoriesToTell_1295654354.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 21, 2011    
 
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A fine piece of work from one of the finest voices in the business.

There was once a time back in the eighties when Richard Marx was more famous for his haircut than his music, but his pedigree as a singer and songwriter cannot be faulted. He has amassed a healthy body of work over the years, and was the first solo artist to have his first seven singles enter the U.S. Billboard Top 5. You only have to look at the list of guests who join Richard on his albums to see just how respected he is, with artists as diverse as Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro (Toto), Joe Walsh, Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmidt (Eagles), Fee Waybill (The Tubes), Luther Vandross, Billy Joel and Tommy Lee (Motley Crue.) In recent years Marx has become more well known as a writer for other artists, but has continued releasing several quality albums. Although releases such as 'Flesh & Bone' and 'Days In Avalon' saw him move slightly away from his rock roots, 2009's 'Emotional Remains' saw Richard return to rock with a bang, it's contemporary hard rock sound by far the heaviest sounding record he has released to date. While possibly influenced by Richard's collaboration with Vertical Horizon frontman Matt Scannell on the previous year's 'Duo' album, it's nevertheless an excellent album, and one that demonstrates Marx's versatility as a singer and writer.

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This latest release is definitely an album of two halves. The first eleven tracks are acoustic re-workings of older songs, some well known, some not so well-known, but all work perfectly in the stripped back setting, and proving just what a fantastic voice Richard has. Some are delivered with the just the voice and guitar, and some are embellished with some subtle piano parts. Of the hits, we get the likes of 'Endless Summer Nights', 'Hazard', 'Should've Known Better', 'Angelia', 'Keep Coming Back' and possibly Richard's most famous song 'Right Here Waiting.' The latter is slightly slowed down, and has the piano melody from the original, with delicate acoustic guitar strumming over the top, and sounds much fresher and organic than the version from the 'Repeat Offender' album. 'Now And Forever' from the 'Paid Vacation' CD was originally an acoustic song, here it has been slowed down slightly and delivered with a slightly bluesy vocal line. Other songs like 'One Thing Left' from the 'My Own Best Enemy' album and 'Over My Head' from 'Emotional Remains' sound just as good, although being less well known tracks.

The final seven tracks are full band recordings of songs written by Marx for other artists, and the majority of the arrangements follow the contemporary blueprint laid out on the 'Emotional Remains' CD, plenty of modern sounding guitar work. 'This I Promise You' was a hit for Justin Timberlake's NSYNC, 'Had Enough' was recorded by US band Lifehouse, and 'On The Inside' was recorded by American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry's band, and co-written with Nickelback's Chad Kroeger. The song 'Never Take Me Dancing' first appeared on the 'Flesh & Bone' CD in a more R&B guise, but was re-recorded by Marx with a bigger rock sound as a bonus track on the last album, and was also recorded by Country superstar Travis Tritt. On a similar note, the slow-burning ballad 'Everybody' originally appeared on Keith Urban's 'Love, Pain And The Whole Crazy Thing' album, and is probably the best song here.

While it's possibly a slight step back from the 'Emotional Remains' album in terms of it's Rock credentials, it's nevertheless a fine piece of work from one of the finest voices in the business, and has also led to Richard's first U.K. gig in a very long time, which in my opinion is no bad thing!

Ant Heeks

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