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Charlie: Kitchens of Distinction

Charlie is a melodic rock band from the UK that originally formed in the 1970s by multi instrumentalist Terry Thomas. The band released a number of albums but decided to call it quits in 1986, after which Thomas tried his hand in the producer's chair working with the likes of Bad Company, Foreigner and Tommy Shaw. Twenty–five years since their last album comes Kitchens of Distinction, their brand new CD released on Voiceprint Records. Thomas (bass, guitar, keyboards, vocals) is joined by former member Julian Colbeck who contributes keyboards and a few other guest musicians.

I must say this has been another surprise listen and having never heard the band before, I had no idea what to expect. It is hard to believe so much time has elapsed between albums because Kitchens of Distinction is a fine album and exudes class from beginning to end. Charlie plays a brand of tuneful melodic rock and the musicianship is outstanding throughout. Although not a progressive record there are touches here and there that should make some of our readers very happy. Thomas's performance is stellar, especially his guitar work. He proves to be an excellent axeman as his fantastic leads and melodic rhythm attacks are the staples of this album. His vocal abilities are also very good which should please those listeners with a more discerning taste in that regard.

Besides being the main musician, Thomas also wrote all of the songs. He takes a direct approach to lyric writing, as there is no doubting the meaning of these songs. Little is left to the imagination as he covers a wide array of topics like the pitfalls of superstardom (Popstar), the hypocrisy of selling alcohol (Alcohol) and the uselessness of television (Shit TV).

It all begins with the catchy "Get A Life" with ominous intro keys and edgy guitar riffs. The guitar playing here is a highlight as it is in many of these songs. In the title track, his crystal clean notes and tasty runs combined with hook laden rhythms should please many fans of guitar based rock. "Popstar" has a retro 80's vibe with a nice guitar intro and the aptly titled "Shit TV" reminded me of the Canadian band Red Rider. I really liked the bombastic beginning of heavy drums, atmospheric guitar and subtle use of keys. The proggy "Don't Let Go" features richly textured guitar and keyboards with the vocals having a Gabrielesque quality. The solid rock/pop of "Cars" and the slick jazz rock of "West Coast Thing", featuring the Fender Rhodes of Colbeck, have a Steely Dan quality particularly in the smooth guitar rhythms and keys.

So there it is in a nutshell. This is a very strong offering from a band that has been out of action for a while now making Kitchens of Distinction all the more surprising. All fans of melodic rock should definitely take notice, you will not be disappointed.

Track Listing:
1. Get A Life
2. Kitchens Of Distinction
3. Popstar
4. Shit TV
5. Don't Let Go
6. Alcohol
7. Cars
8. Blue Sky Bullshit
9. The Art Of Cool
10. West Coast Thing
11. Never Be The Same
12. It's Not Enough

Added: March 27th 2010
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 2997
Language: english

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