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Phenomena III: Innervision (Definitive Remaster)

Six years had passed for Phenomena by the time their third album, Innervision, landed, the all-star project band helmed by Tom Galley returning with the third iteration of the idea he and his brother Mel had first arrived with in 1984. Pairing the guest appearances back to a more subtle level, this time the rock royalty involved included one-time Thin Lizzy man Scott Gorham, while his guitar partner on a couple of tracks was none other than Queen’s Brian May; although six-stringer Marius Muller also appeared throughout. Returning from previous Phenomena bands came drummer Michael Sturgis, while keyboard player Leif Johansen also made his playing and writing presence felt once more. However, for the first time Glenn Hughes’ vocals were nowhere to be found, with Airrace singer Keith Murrell taking the frontman role and leaving little doubt as to his underrated talents.

The personnel may have changed from album to album, but give or take a few refinements the Phenomena approach remained true and steady, a glossy melodic rock sheen draped over a surging guitar attack and some sharp keyboard incursions. “Rock House” opens, a steady swagger adding a blusey edge that Murrell used as a jumping off point to a more Lou Gramm (Foreigner) like delivery; that classy twist and turn being followed by the equally convincing “Banzai”. May’s contributions are, as ever, unmistakable, the power balled “What About Love” exploding into a signature solo that does in fairness stretch the Queen man out of his comfort zone, but the neat little staccato riffs could come from no one else. While the more energetic “Shape It Up” possesses an “I Want It All” like outburst, but unlike the Queen classic there’s a much more muted and controlled aspect utilised.

Gorham’s work is equally impressive, the 21 Guns man jousting keenly with Johansen’s keyboards on the proud strut of “If You Want To Rock”, while the bright, dancing “How Much Do You Love Me?” is another undoubted highlight. Here Murrell actually lands his vocal somewhere between that of Gorham’s 21 Guns frontman Tommy La Verdi and TNT’s Tony Harnell. Something that gives the strongest indication of where the third version of Phenomena were proudly aiming their style. In truth that also pretty much scuppered any chance the band had of broadening their appeal, the slick smooth rock landing in a sea of grunge and pretty much sinking quickly from trace. As with their earlier two outings Innervision deserved a better fate and while neither of the subsequent albums quite come up to the standard of the Phenomena debut, they really are only a hair’s breadth behind.

Phenomena would continue on under the leadership of Tom Galley, the song writer and producer flying the flag for the project he and his brother Mel, who sadly died in 2008, began. Three more albums being released between 2006 and 2012 to great acclaim within the melodic rock community, however for many it is these first three albums from the project that really hit home. If you’ve never jumped on board with the ‘band’ before, then these reissues are a great opportunity to see what the phenomenal hype was all about.


Track Listing
1. ROCK HOUSE
2. BANZAI
3. WHAT ABOUT LOVE?
4. INTO THE FIRE
5. A WHOLE LOTTA LOVE
6. SECRET OF LOVE
7. IF YOU WANT TO ROCK
8. HOW MUCH DO YOU LOVE ME?
9. SHAPE IT UP
10.ROCK MY SOUL

Added: December 23rd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: Innervision @ Cherry Red
Hits: 250
Language: english

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