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Europe: Bag Of Bones

With Europe having now released four albums since the end of their thirteen year hiatus, the musical transformation of the band from keyboard driven Euro-AOR meets Melodic Rock into a genuine blues infused juggernaut would appear to be complete. New album Bag Of Bones finds a group of musicians who are at ease with themselves. Put simply, Europe are a band on a roll. Since they came back together, Joey Tempest, John Norum, Mic Michaeli, John Leven and Ian Haugland have confidently made music that oozes class and while anyone who expected to begin another Final Countdown will have been disappointed, if indeed a little confused. For the rest of us, the results have been quite astounding. Bag Of Bones not only continues Europe's journey towards a rich Commercially driven Blues Rock style, it finds them delivering an album that even their comeback effort from eight years ago, Start From The Dark, only hinted at. Dark, intense and deeply personal, BoB firmly plants it feet in the ground and proudly proclaims this is Europe 2012!

When mega-stardom hit Joey and the boys back in 1986, many thought guitarist John Norum was nothing short of mad to walk away from the bright light of fame. However staying true to his reason for picking up his six-string in the first place, Norum wanted to Rock and he wanted to do so in a genuinely Bluesy Heavy Rock manner that had as much to do with Deep Purple as it did Bon Jovi and the like. If his vision was Bag Of Bones, then more power to the man - he was right! And I say that as someone who a proud owner of every album this band has made. Norum is phenomenal on this album and while his talents are never far from the forefront, what really makes this Bag Of Bones as intoxicating as it is, is the equal billing that the Hammond infused keyboard work of Mic Michaeli and the ever improving vocals from Joey Tempest receive. The combination of blazing guitar and pulsating keyboards infuse all of the songs on this album, with the insistent "Demon Head", the grinding swagger of "Riches To Rags" and the ultra-catchy, yet hard hitting "Doghouse" being particularly potent. Add to that the Heavy Blues of the album's title track - which features a scintillating slide-guitar solo courtesy of Joe Bonamassa and the autobiographical lyric of "Not Supposed To Sing The Blues", the latter of which is a real slow grower - and this is an album that grabs your attention and never lets go.

One of the most under rated drummers in Rock, Haugland puts in his now customary stunning performance behind the kit, driving the songs on, adding flourishes and embellishments as he does so, while Leven locks everything into place with ever steady, yet fluid bass bursts. Impressively there are no passengers amongst the eleven tracks on Bag Of Bones, with the keyboard led groove of "My Woman My Friend" adding a weightier tone, while a captivating conclusion to the album arrives in the shape of "Bring It All Home", which again finds Tempest tapping into his emotions to tell a story. Both lyrically and musically, the song nods towards Queen's "The Show Must Go On", although Norum and Michaeli add more Blues roots than Brian and Freddie ever would.

Looking back through their catalogue, no matter which era you linger over, Europe have never released a bad album. However with Bag Of Bones they have topped the lot. If you've enjoyed any of their last three albums, you are going to adore this, but really Bag Of Bones is for anyone who loves expertly presented Rock music that comes from the heart.

Track Listing
1. Riches To Rags
2. Not Supposed To Sing The Blues
3. Firebox
4. Bag Of Bones
5. Requiem
6. My Woman My Friend
7. Demon Head
8. Drink And A Smile
9. Doghouse
10. Mercy You Mercy Me
11. Bring It All Home

Added: April 22nd 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Europe The Band Online
Hits: 5264
Language: english

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Europe: Bag Of Bones
Posted by Dean Pedley, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-04-22 00:39:54
My Score:

Since their reunion a decade or so ago, fans of Europe have been well rewarded with the release of some top quality studio albums that have (at the very least) been the equal of anything from their 1980's heyday. Bag Of Bones, their ninth studio album, is the latest in an impressive list that encompasses Start From The Dark, Secret Society and Last Look At Eden and like its predecessors mixes the trademark Europe elements with a modern vibe that places it firmly in the 21st century. The added ingredient this time around is the involvement of Kevin Shirley who really has been the man with the Midas touch on recent albums by Joe Bonamassa, Mr Big and Black Country Communion. Shirley works his magic yet again and lovers of all things Classic Rock and in particular Deep Purple, Whitesnake, Led Zeppelin and UFO will find much to enjoy here; Joey Tempest has never sounded better and like the very finest wine his vocals have become ever more appealing with age. John Norum's playing is simply inspirational as he moves seamlessly from blues licks and acoustic flourishes to restrained solos and no-nonsense hard rock riffs.

All of the above aside it is the quality of the songwriting that really shines through on Bag Of Bones with Tempest collaborating with Norum, John Leven and Mic Michaeli to deliver ten top notch tunes ("Requiem" is a brief instrumental interlude). "Riches to Rags" sets the standard with its driving hard rock edge ensuring an explosive start. The autobiographical "Not Supposed To Sing The Blues" references Kennedy, Zeppelin and Back In Black as Tempest narrates his musically journey, reflecting on the bands past when they were told how to look, sing and sound. Powerful and emotionally charged this is the albums jewel in the crown. With Shirley involved it was perhaps inevitable that Joe Bonamassa would make an appearance and his slide guitar lends its weight to the masterful title track which shifts from a laid back refrain into up-tempo hooks. Europe continue to mix it up with smooth ballads ("Bring It All Home"), crunching rockers ("Demon Head") and mellow acoustic moments ("Drink And A Smile") all of which makes Bag Of Bones the perfect mix of retro and contemporary. Not trading on past glories and sounding equally as good as any of their peers Europe have presented us with a strong contender for the classic rock album of the year.

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