Johnny Gioeli sure is making a lot of music these days — and this time, he's obsessed with fast cars. Forget about the voodoo nights, saint of fools and masquerade balls he sings about as frontman for German guitarist Axel Rudi Pell. And never mind the songs invoking Dr. Love and Hot Cherie by his other band, Hardline. Crush 40, a collaboration with Japanese guitarist (and video game soundtrack guy) Jun Senoue, is all about speed. From the race cars on the cover to song titles like "Revvin' Up," "Into the Wind," "In the Lead," "Fuel Me" and "Dangerous Ground," this self-titled effort reeks of stereotyped testosterone.
Gioeli and Senoue previously worked together under the name Sons of Angels, releasing "Thrill of the Feel" in Japan in 2000. This time, using the moniker Crush 40 — and employing the former Loudness rhythm section of Naoto Shibata on bass and Hirotsugo Homma on drums — they offer nine songs with a contemporary yet melodic edge. Taken as a whole, Crush 40 emerges as a solid yet generic album, and the only standout tracks are the two bonus songs featuring Tony Harnell (TNT, Westworld) and Ted Poley (Danger Danger, Melodica) on vocals. I don't think that's what Senoue intended when he produced and arranged the record.
Still, given the mere presence of Gioeli, you could do a lot worse than this.