Survivor - 'Premonition'

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Survivor - 'Premonition'

The definitive version of one of their very best albums.

After the debut Survivor album had failed to dent either the US singles or album charts, a few changes were in order. Luckily the Atlantic imprint Scotti Brothers were still behind the band and backed their decision to not only change the rhythm section (bassist Stephan Ellis and drummer Marc Droubay replacing Dennis Johnson and Gary Smith respectively), but also to let them produce the next album themselves. They did a grand job too with huge Bonham-esque drums, pounding bass, crunchier guitars and bigger choruses all round.

Although a little short at only eight tracks, every one of them would make my personal ‘Best Of..’ compilation (if it was a double CD anyway!). Bickler’s voice was even better and the Peterik/Sullivan songwriting axis really pulled out the stops with catchy and powerful melodic stadium rockers like ‘Summer Nights’, ‘Light Of A Thousand Smiles’, ‘Runway Lights’ and the bands first hit single ‘Poor Man’s Son’. Things were even more powerful elsewhere on the swaggering ‘Take You On A Saturday’ and the hard rocking ‘Love Is On My Side’, whilst the sublime vocal harmonies and atmospheric verses of the power ballad ‘Heart’s A Lonely Hunter’ would become a template for the way that most future Survivor albums would end. It’s also interesting to note that with the unfussy guitar playing of Frankie Sullivan, he’d started to create a few highlights of his own and his melodic sense and taste had already started to make him one of the most underrated players in the genre.

If Rock Candy’s remastering of the debut was good then their treatment of ‘Premonition’ is positively stellar and this has already become the definitive version of one of their very best albums. Also, in the excellent sleeve notes by Fireworks’ own Dave Cockett, (and unusually for a Rock Candy release) it’s great to read about a band who were successful and on the way to even bigger things rather than betrayed by the record company and cheated into oblivion. An essential version of a truly essential album.

Phil Ashcroft

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