Hirsh Gardner - 'My Brain Needs A Holiday'

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Hirsh Gardner - 'My Brain Needs A Holiday'

An essential release from one of AOR/ Melodic Rock's leading lights from that golden period of the late seventies/early eighties.

Hirsh Gardner should be more than familiar to anyone with a passing interest in classy AOR/Melodic Rock. His "day job" is, of course, the drummer/vocalist with AOR stalwarts New England, but in recent years he's found time to put together this album which follows up his excellent 'Wasteland For Broken Hearts' from way back in 2003 (which incidentally will be included as a double pack in limited numbers).

'My Brain Needs A Holiday' sees Gardner tackle songs that range from the familiar New England sounds to the more Hard Rocking tunes and beyond, as ably demonstrated by the Southern Rock-tinged opener 'Lost In The Darkness Tonight' and the muscular but melodic 'If U Need T'Talk'. There are some surprises too, with songs that have a more contemporary sound to them, such as the funky 'Git It Back', which is a real departure but boy does it work, and the title track itself, which has a real groove and a great hook to it. 'Diamond Moon' and 'Love Is' tread a more familiar path, and both are songs that could so easily have the name New England tagged to them. Talking with Hirsh recently, he admitted that when putting this album together he always had New England in mind, and anything he writes is used as a touchstone for everything that follows.

Being a multi-instrumentalist himself, Gardner also employs some top names to help out here; Richie Ranno (Starz), Jimmy Waldo (New England), Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Guns 'N' Roses) and Jon Butcher, amongst others, lend their considerable talents to make this an album of many and varied textures and colours. Along the way, there are a couple of cover versions and both are surprises. The evergreen 'Whiter Shade Of Pale' gets a Gardner make-over, the other is a rather obscure cut (from French Prog Rockers Ta� Phong) entitled 'Sister Jane' which is a lovely emotive song.

Produced to an impeccably high standard, as befitting everything that Hirsh Gardner is involved with, and with his voice as distinctive and powerful as ever, coupled with sparkling arrangements that give the whole shebang a real lift, this is an album that I reckon will have not only New England fans salivating, but also music fans in general who have a penchant for Rock music with a classy edge to it. An essential release from one of AOR/ Melodic Rock's leading lights from that golden period of the late seventies/early eighties.

Malcolm Smith

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