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Turner, Joe Lynn & Kajiyama, Akira: Fire Without Flame

Akira Kajiyama and Joe Lynn Turner have a long and consistent history together. Even though they've released an album under their own names only now, Kajiyama and Turner worked together before in several projects. Their collaboration started in 1998 when Akira Kajiyama recorded the Rainbow tribute album Niji Densetsu (Legend of Rainbow) on which Joe Lynn Turner appeared as a special guest. Turner was so impressed by Kajiyama's playing that he asked him to play on his album Under Cover 2 a year later, which was then carried over to Turner's 2000 release Holy Man. This album was different in the way that, despite being a Joe Lynn Turner album, Akira Kajiyama wrote seven of the songs on it, including the amazing title track. The duo expanded on their collaboration in 2001's Slam joining forces during their tour in Japan with Glenn Hughes handling the bass.

Fast forward to 2005 when Turner and Kajiyama's paths crossed once again, resulting in a mini acoustic gig and the pre-production of Fire Without Flame. Though still highlighted by the amazing vocals of Joe Lynn Turner, this album feels more like a Kajiyama effort, as he not only plays the guitars and every other instrument, but he's also credited as the producer of the album. My guess is that Turner might have come up with the lyrics and some of the vocal harmonies, just as he's expected to do on the Turkish guitar virtuoso Cem Koksal's upcoming album (they are touring Turkey extensively these days). Back to Fire Without Flame, this is bluesy hard rock with exceptional guitar work, some great synth lines, and soaring vocal harmonies. Though I was expecting a more neoclassical release before hearing it, Kajiyama surprised me, having gone for a more classic hard rock style, exhibiting his immense control over his instrument and churning out both speedy shred guitars and restrained, subdued axework. The first two songs are very direct melodic hard rock with occasional synth textures and the classic 80's style vocals by Joe Lynn Turner. Not much seems to stand out, except that it assures you it's well-played and recorded rock music.

"Survival" does introduce some choppy lead work by Kajiyama in its intro before returning to the album's usual route and delving into the moving ballad "Heart Against Heart". Starting with acoustic guitars and an ethereal synth effect, the song sees the talented guitarist doing some unexpected whammy dives and then lets Turner put his trademark spin on the piece. This is arguably the best song on the album. The duo shows us they are also capable of rocking out on "End of the Line" (some terrific guitar work here) or produce more midtempo material in the form of "Forever Changed". The guitarist's love for blues-inflected rock comes out more vividly on "Bad Feeling", complete with a catchy chorus. The rest of the songs follow in a pretty similar style: great choruses, 80's style hard rock song patterns, and burning lead guitars, including some Yngwie Malmsteen type of playing on the last cut "Slow Burn".

This is far from being the best Joe Lynn Turner album, but if you're a fan of his voice and music, this album should be a no-brainer for you.

Track Listing

  1. One Day Away
  2. Fire Without Flame
  3. Survival
  4. Heart Against Heart
  5. End of the Line
  6. Forever Changed
  7. Bad Feeling
  8. Looking for Trouble
  9. Down and Dirty
  10. Licence to Kill
  11. Slow Burn

Added: May 9th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: AOR Heaven
Hits: 2202
Language: english

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