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Danger Alley: American Made

Hopefully anyone with a passing interest in 80s US arena rock will take the time to check out the debut release, American Made, from Danger Alley, long before they have a look at the press shots of the band. For while the ethos is to bring back the attitude and sound of the 80s, I'm not quite so sure that extending that to the look of the band (when this is a group of "mature" gents) was quite so advisable. That's maybe an unkind way to start a review of an album which has much to commend it and yet being brutally honest the band picture on the back of the nice digipack this album arrives in had a couple of my friends scoffing long before I failed to convince them to even give it a fair hearing. Toning things down a touch may well help the naysayers take them seriously.

Of course the important thing is the music and thankfully here Danger Alley are much easier on the senses. Strong nods to Night Ranger, Loverboy, Autograph and of course Bon Jovi abound and with a singer of real distinction in the shape of Rob Adamson, they also have the hooks and melodies to make you sit up and take notice. The album's title track kicks things off in top gear, a stinging burst of guitar setting up soaring vocals and sumptuous keyboards perfectly as a sing along chorus has you completely convinced. Factor in a guitar solo courtesy of Jospeh Eck which bites insistently and you have a song which twenty five years ago would have had hit written all over it.

With the bar set so high, Danger Alley then set about reassuring that they have the ability to repeat the deal, "Never Too Old To Rock" (which doubtless should tell me what the band will think of my opening remarks!) slides into view somewhere between Coney Hatch, Tobruk and Autograph, which is a mean collective of influences in anyone's books. "Tearin' The Ballroom Down" then hints lyrically and stylistically at a longer time gone by, Sweet evoked in an 80 melodic hard rock setting, while "Won't Stop Believing" crashes Bon Jovi into Night Ranger with memorable results.

Unfortunately a plodding cover of the Alias hit "More Than Words Can Say", where Adamson seems to want to over annunciate every word derails things somewhat and from there, while the subsequent five tracks remain enjoyable, the early high watermark is never quite re-achieved. "Welcome To The Show" adds a slice of Styx theatrics although in a way which reminds too strongly of the much covered "I Don't Need No Doctor" with added keyboards, whereas "Stay" almost sounds like another rework of "More Than Words Can Say". "Luck Of The Draw" perks things up considerably, Bill Sutton's keyboards crashing keenly into the best vocal on the album, before "Cryin' In The Rain" is a rare illustration of Adamson's vocal limitations, as he struggles to hold the long notes with much real conviction. Although he redeems himself ably on the pulsating closer "Catrina", which has harmonies to simply die for.

In the end it's a mixed bag from Danger Alley, hints of greatness dashed by some clumsy side steps and yet with a superb production from guitarist Michael Coones and silky mix from Andrew Glasmacher, the best moments on American Made are allowed to shine to dazzling proportions. Never judge a book by its cover has always been sound advice and here I'd suggest never judge a band on their image. If you do you may well, as my friends did, dismiss Danger Alley out of hand and that would do their American Made music a real disservice.

Track Listing
1. American Made
2. Never Too Old to Rock
3. Tearin' the Ballroom Down
4. Won't Stop Believing
5. Welcome to the Show
6. Stay
7. Luck of the Draw
8. Cryin' in the Rain
9. Catrina

Added: June 30th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Danger Alley on Facebook
Hits: 2072
Language: english

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