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Phenomena: Phenomena (Definitive Remaster)

Back in 1984 any album proudly proclaiming to possess the power of Mel Galley, Glenn Hughes, Cozy Powell, Don Airey, Neil Murray, Ted McKenna and Richard Bailey was pretty much seen as the work of rock royalty. That amalgam of Whitesnake, Deep Purple, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band and Magnum members the cream of the musical crop. Phenomena, while very much the baby of the Galley brothers - Mel (Trapeze/Whitesnake) and Tom (Trapeze co-song writer) - received front page status in the then rock bible known as Kerrang, with expectations that a hustling bustling British blues sensation would be the order of the day. However, with Mel subsequently preoccupied by an offer from David Coverdale to jump aboard his Whitesnake, Tom took things right into the 80s melodic rock heartland. With the ambition to build the release into an all encompassing multi-media extravaganza of videos and artwork, the album was also a conceptual beast, which in the middle of the decade in question was dangerous ground on which to tread. The idea being that a girl lying in a coma is contacted telepathically by her father, with the pair then encountering and facing down her ‘demons’ in search of escape back into the real world.

Grand stuff indeed and while the album did sell well, the unexpected musical direction left it floundering for an audience somewhat, which with hindsight is something of a shame. The now much missed Mel Galley and his guitar partner here John Thomas putting in a great performance across the whole album, while it would be no exaggeration to suggest that Glenn Hughes’ vocals are amongst the strongest and certainly most underrated of his entire career; the control shown on opener “Kiss Of Fire” too often something left in reserve by the ‘voice of rock’. Even with a strong and sympathetic remaster for this reissue, there’s no denying that the production from Tom Galley on the likes of the gently pulsating “Still The Night”, smooth and slick “Phoenix Rising” and bitingly commercial “Twilight Zone” was very much of its time; echoing and dense throughout and yet if you enjoy(ed) 80s rock, then the latter day Thin Lizzy like (with extra keyboards) “Hell On Wings” and Magnum-esque “Believe” will perk up your ears.

Coming nicely repackaged and with new liner notes featuring Tom Galley’s song by song observations and also those of artist Iain Lowe, I’d suggest that this latest reissue of the eponymous Phenomena album is superior to those that have come before. Unfortunately on its initial release record label Bronze folded and the multi-media support Galley had hoped for never really materialised, leaving what looked at the time to be a one off project to go somewhat unfulfilled. The Galley brothers however had other ideas and further Phenomena albums would surface, with albums number two and three also having been remastered and re-released simultaneously (and also reviewed on SoT). Arguably however, this was and remains the best of those three.


Track Listing
1. KISS OF FIRE
2. STILL THE NIGHT
3. DANCE WITH THE DEVIL
4. PHOENIX RISING
5. BELIEVE
6. WHO’S WATCHING YOU?
7. HELL ON WINGS
8. TWILIGHT ZONE
9. PHENOMENA

Added: December 23rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Phenomena @ Cherry Red
Hits: 262
Language: english

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