Yes, fun! Mack Maloney's Sky Club is an album replete with great music to make you smile and lighten your mood. It's one of the albums that I've most enjoyed listening to so far this year. Also, together with last year's album by GHz, it's another album that has made me revise my opinion of "covers albums". Before, I would have said that I don't really like them, preferring original music, but ten of the twelve tracks on here are covers and yet they are so freshly and buoyantly arranged that they might just as well be new. I doubt if there are many music fans who will know all of the originals anyway (which I've helpfully listed below where appropriate!). It's just great music to listen to, and you should never ask for more than that! OK, it's not prog-this or prog-that. Does it matter? Call it art-rock if you have to, but just enjoy it!
And that is precisely what Maloney intended. Maloney, an author who has sold more than 4 million military adventure and science-fiction books, is clearly a keen music fan and has had a hankering to "write a soundtrack for a book". Whilst this isn't quite that thing, it comes close, the music coming accompanied with an evocative sci-fi story cartoon booklet that tells the tale of a space traveller stranded on earth. It's a good concept – I'll let you check it out on Maloney's excellent website. For me, this sci-fi touch and the obvious joy behind the whole endeavour acted to enhance the music which, on its own, would have been a winner.
On the album, Maloney himself plays synths and is joined by Rich Kennedy (guitars & effects), Mark Poulin (guitars, bass, percussion and all vocals), as well as some telling contributions from Amadee Castenell (saxophone) and Chris Billias (piano). The sax, coming in for the first time on "Flood", is particularly effective. The synth and keys work is good too, delivering some fine textures as early as "Don't Let Go of the Coat". Poulin does a fine job on vocals.
The songs selected are played at a good tempo, conducive to extracting the most catchiness from the music. The "classics", such as Cream's "Deserted Cities of the Heart" and Spirit's "Mechanical World", work really well amongst the lesser well known songs and the new ones, "Star Surfing 1962" – as is perhaps obvious from its title, this is very derivative but the sax gives it a huge dose of life – and "Cross My Heart", which borders between art-rock and AOR. My pick of the covers are "Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)" and the wonderful rendition of "Into the Night" (great vocal and sultry sax).
Not very cerebral or progressive perhaps but it's an album to make you feel good whenever you listen to it! I'd better go and check out one of his books too....
1) Don't Let Go The Coat (The Who)
2) Flood (Jars of Clay)
3) Worlds Apart (Jars of Clay)
4) Send Her My Love (Journey)
5) Star Surfing 1962
6) Deserted Cities of the Heart (Cream)
7) Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground) (Mike & The Mechanics)
8) Mechanical World (Spirit)
9) Cross My Heart
10) Into the Night (Benny Mardones)
11) Flight to Cairo (Dream Patrol)
12) Walk on the Ocean (Toad the Wet Sprocket)