Tall Stories - 'Skyscraper'

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Tall Stories - 'Skyscraper'

Those after an instant hit would be better advised to look elsewhere.

It would seem that because front man Steve Augeri was chosen to fill the shoes of the departing Steve Perry, there’s now an ever more pervasive assumption that his then former band Tall Stories was some kind of Journey clone. Now, whilst it’s true that both bands certainly shared a love of stirring melodies, if all those proclaiming the comparison as fact actually went back and listened to ‘Tall Stories’ again, they’d perhaps discover that they were essentially two completely different animals, Tall Stories (the band) being a much more organic sounding beast.

Released at the tail end of 1991 through the Epic imprint, ‘Tall Stories’ couldn’t really have come at a worse time in terms of marketing as back then, the burgeoning grunge movement was about to turn the establishment on its head. Not surprisingly, the band struggled to find any kind of audience, and despite writing a number of songs for a mooted sophomore release in the mid 90’s, they sank with barely a ripple. Augeri of course went on to Journey (via a brief flirtation with Tyketto), and it’s largely thanks to his name retaining some sort of public profile that the memory of Tall Stories remains.

Rumors of an official release for that ‘lost’ second album have persisted for quite some while now, and thanks to the guys at Frontiers, conjecture and rumour has at last become a reality. Personally speaking, I thought their recent Firefest appearance was emotionless and dull (especially when compared to the likes of White Sister), which is why ‘Skyscraper’ itself actually comes as a pleasant surprise. Given the prevalence of the Journey associations, I feared that Augeri and company might have opted for safety through mediocrity, but thankfully the mixture of sounds and influences contained within is, just like the debut, quite diverse and challenging.



Opener ‘Tomorrow’ is a fairly standard melodic hard rocker (and easily the closest they ever get to formula AOR), but once they get that out of their system, ‘Skyscraper’ proves itself to be quite a kaleidoscopic sojourn through a healthy array of divergent influences. When you look at their collective musical backgrounds, the inclusion of everything from blues to funk, pop to rock isn’t all that surprising, but the fact that they’ve managed to distill them all into eleven cogent songs slabs of brooding melodic rock is.

I won’t pretend that the likes of ‘Stay’, ‘Clementine’, ‘Original Sin’ or the lengthy ‘Superman’ are an instant hit because in all honesty they ain’t, but the hooks are deceptively strong, the playing is excellent throughout, and after half a dozen or so spins, they really do begin to leave a lasting imprint on your subconscious mind.

Like I said, those after an instant hit would be better advised to look elsewhere, but if you’re searching for something a touch more substantial (a la latter day Winger), then ‘Skyscraper’ may just fit the bill nicely.

DAVE COCKETT

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