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Airrace: Back to Start

British melodic rockers Airrace took 27 years to follow up their debut Shaft of Light from 1984, but we can safely say that Back to the Start was worth the wait. The band burst onto the NWOBHM scene with a sound that was closer actually to bands such as Magnum, Foreigner, Saga, Toto and Journey, and after breaking up in 1985 the band was put on ice till their 25th anniversary in 2009, and here you have their brand new release which sees the band invigorated and full of life, even after the extremely long hiatus.

For starters, Airrace couldn't be on a better label than Frontiers Records, who know a thing or two about melodic rock and metal music. Back to the Start is vibrant, rocking, catchy, melodic, and reeking of class from start to finish. The band, comprised of Keith Murrrell (vocals), Laurie Mansworth (lead guitars), Simon Dawson (drums), Dean Howard (guitars), David Boyce (bass), and Toby Sadler (keyboards) have crafted 12 memorable and enjoyable songs here, with not a weak one to be found. Tunes like "Call Me Anytime", "When Baby", "Keep on Going", and "Wrong Way Out", rock, and rock pretty hard, but are also catchy as hell with some great guitar riffs, solos, keyboards, and rhythms. Singer Murrell is just perfect for this style of music, as his high pitched vocals just soar over the tight arrangements. Mansworth & Howard are expert axe-men, delivering just enough crunch and sizzling solos on "So Long" and the title track to illicit raised fists and air guitars all around. They even come damn close to hard rock/metal on the scorching "Enough Of Your Loving" and "Better Believe It" (see if you can hear the nod to Saxon on the latter), two of the heaviest and fastest tracks on the CD.

Back to the Start easily gets 4 stars and two thumbs up from this reviewer, and all I can say is 'welcome back' guys!

Track Listing
1. Keep On Going
2. Two Of A Kind
3. When Baby
4. Call Me Anytime
5. So Long
6. Back To Start
7. Just One Kiss
8. Wrong Way Out
9. One Step Ahead
10. Enough Of Your Loving
11. Better Believe It
12. What More Do You Want From Me?

Added: September 18th 2011
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Frontiers Records
Hits: 2416
Language: english

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Airrace: Back to Start
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-09-18 08:36:04
My Score:

With drummer Jason Bonham (son of the late great Zeppelin tub thumper John) in tow, big things were forecast for melodic rockers Airrace and in fairness their 1984 Shaft Of Light debut album had the songs to back that up. Firing out a keyboard heavy, if guitar infused take on the Journey, Foreigner and Survivor AOR rock of the day, Bonham may have been the name that took the Airrace headlines, but actually it was the soaring vocals of Keith Murrell, the guitar histrionics of Laurie Mansworth and pompous keyboards of Toby Sadler that set the band's stall out in an amazingly impressive manner. Slowly but surely the band disintegrated under the usual label politics and indifference, with Murrell moving into session work with the likes of George Harrison, The Who, Madonna and Cher, while Bonham became one of the most sought after drummer in rock, with stints with the likes of Foriegner, UFO, the briefly reformed Led Zeppelin and of course his current band Black Country Communion. Mansworth however decided at that stage to move off stage, guiding and managing bands, with Roadstar (originally known as Hurricane Party) being the most noted.

Move forward 25 years and Airrace reformed to play some live shows, although Bonham didn't stick around due to his other commitments and spurred on by the positive response to their comeback set about recording their second album. Murrell, Mansworth and original bassist Jim Reid have all returned, with Simon Dawson taking up residence behind the kit and other newcomers Dean Howard and Chris Williams rounding out the band on rhythm guitar and keyboards respectively. Over two and a half decades may have come and gone, however that's not something you can tell from Back To The Start, with the band's style being true to their roots and the songs and performances making it sound like Airrace were never away. Journey, Foreigner and Survivor are all still strong reference points, however there are also touches of Thin Lizzy and Magnum in evidence, giving the smooth vibe a slightly grittier vibe than expected, but one which is balanced out by Murrell's amazingly youthful vocals. With a CV like his, it is no surprise that Murrell truly shines on an album full of cracking highlights, with his high register and soulful delivery marking him out as one of the great unknowns of this genre. Not to be out done though Mansworth's guitar work really shows what a loss his self imposed exile has been, with sharp riffs and stinging lead work hitting the spot time and time again. That however would all mean nothing if the songs weren't up to scratch, but if it is classy melodic rock with a bit of grunt you are looking for, then Back To The Start will have you grinning from ear to ear. "Keep On Going", "Two Of A Kind" and ""Call Me Anytime" are singalongtastic, with huge choruses and hooks aplenty, while "Enough Of Your Lovin'" considerably ups the guitar quotient. Add to that the hefty kick of "You Better Believe It", the Lizzy like guitar work of "Just One Kiss" and the bright keyboard led "What More Do You Want From Me" and you really have an album that oozes quality from start to finish.

In an age of seemingly never ending comebacks, the reformation of Airrace is one to be celebrated, especially when the results are as fine as Back To The Start.

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