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Drive, She Said: Dreams Will Come The Best Of & More

My first encounter with Drive, She Said came via a Music For Nations sampler cassette way back in 1991. Considering that most of the music on that label was of a far more "metal" variety than DSS's, it is no surprise that they chose to include the title track from the band's, at the time, new release Drivin' Wheel. I was completely taken by the overblown pompous keyboards and aggressive vocal attack that gave the impression that this was a band to rival the pomp rock of the Gregg Giuffria led House of Lords. So with that song on constant rotation (not so easy via a cassette!) my brother was kind enough to by me the album as a Christmas gift. In truth I had to hide my disappointment after I gave the album its first listen (I told my brother it was great!), as what I found was not what I had expected at all. Within a few months though the smooth AOR that Drive, She Said are masters of had completely seduced me and it wasn't long before I had the even better self titled debut disc in my collection as well.

Put together by American Tears, Valhalla and Touch keyboard man Mark Mangold and vocalist/guitarist Al Fritsch, Drive, She Said released their debut album in 1989 and while it was largely ignored in their US homeland, The UK and Europe took to the keyboard led, yet guitar infused AOR. The duo handled the majority of the instruments on the disc (Fritsch playing a little keys, nearly all the guitars and singing, while Mangold handled the majority of the keyboards, sang backup vocals and some of the drums), however the album was also notable for some guest appearances from Bob Kulick, Tony Bruno and Kenny Arononoff. The likes of "Don't You Know", "If This Is Love" and "Hold On (Hands Around Your Heart)", which are all included here along with another three songs from that album, are all stellar examples of keyboard heavy AOR, that ranges from tender ballads to up tempo soft rock. Fritsch has a gravely yet gloriously melodic voice and considering Mangold is no slouch himself behind the mic, the harmonies are lush and full. Surprisingly considering how light weight some of this material is, the guitars really do make a telling contribution, although there's no doubt that they do take a back seat on many occasions.

Drivin' Wheel followed up two years later and along with that fantastic, yet (to me!) misleading title track, the wonderful "Think Of Love" and "Hard To Hold", which fit more closely to the DSS blueprint are contained on this collection. Two years later the under par Excelerator (which this collection ignores) was released and with that the Drive, She Said story seemed to be over. However as so often happens a best of was put together in 1998 for the Japanese market (it was later picked up by Frontiers in Europe) and Mangold and Fritsch were enticed back together to record five all new bonus tracks for the album, the strongest of which "Look At What You Got", deserves its place on this best of as well. The compilation was quite a success for Frontiers and after some persistence from the label a fourth full Drive, She Said album Real Life emerged in 2003. As expected little had changed style wise and the three tracks that make this release from Real Life are also worthy additions. Another lengthy silence followed, before six years later an appearance at the 2009 Firefest show convinced AORHeaven to put together this new best of compilation, which once again features some exclusive songs from the band.

This time there are four new inclusions which open the album, three of which feature Jon Bivoni (who played with the band at Firefest) on guitars. The first two are actually recordings of old Mark Mangold tracks which have already been hugely successful. "Fools Game" was the first solo hit for Michael Bolton (back when he rocked) and "I Found Someone" was Cher's comeback hit many years ago. In the hands of their creator both tracks are archetypal Drive She Said numbers that ooze class and sophistication. "Dreams Will Come" was actually written on the night of the Firefest show and sees Al handle all the instruments. It is a little darker in places than most of DSS's songs, however the uplifting chorus leaves no doubt who this music comes from and Al's keyboard and guitar work really shine here. The Last of the newbies is a little more left field, as in terms of feel it wouldn't be out of place on the recent funky pop rock release by Jeff Scott Soto, with its chanted and processed vocals, programmed beats and thumping bass line. With the title of "Try2LetGo (FukUUp)", it is also odd to hear such a usually smooth, band swear their way through a song and even though it's great to finally hear Fritsch and Mangold trade vocal lines I'm not convinced this was the best song to do it on.

This a great collection of tracks that picks out all the best aspects of Drive, She Said's career and highlights why they are so revered in AOR circles. The new tracks make this a worthy addition to existing fans collections, however if you've never picked up on DSS, then this is the perfect place to start.


Track Listing
1. Fools Game
2. I Found Someone
3. Dreams Will Come
4. Try2LetGo (FukUUp)
5. Don't You Know
6. Drivin' Wheel
7. Maybe It's Love
8. Hard Way Home
9. If This Is Love
10. Think Of Love
11. Hard To Hold
12. Look At What You Got
13. Hold On (Hands Around Your Heart)
14. Stronger
15. Real Life
16. Love Has No Pride
17. Always And Forever

Added: May 4th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: AORHeaven
Hits: 2890
Language: english

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