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La Famiglia Superstar: La Famiglia Superstar

There is no arguing with the pedigree of the four musicians that have come to together to form the interestingly titled La Famiglia Superstar, with former XYZ frontman Terry Ilous, bassist Marco Mendoza who has performed with Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy amongst many others, Atma Anur who's previously drummed with Journey, David Bowie and Richie Kotzen and guitarist Steve Saluto who has performed with Jeff Berlin and Buddy Miles. So when I first gave the songs on this self titled debut a spin, I was expecting a concoction of melodic, hard rock with some stellar musicianship. Well I certainly received the latter of the two, as there's no denying that all four protagonists are masters of their chosen art, which they all ably display here. Where I was quite surprised, was that instead of a driving rock masterpiece (which was what the press release promised), what ambles out of the speakers is a gently funky guitar that once the bass pipes in actually reminded me of The James Taylor Quartet's version of the Starsky & Hutch theme tune! Don't get me wrong, "Never Enough" is a slightly harder edged affair, however it is way wide of the mark of where I expected.

"Rain" continues with another funky intro, however as this number moves on, we are in far more anticipated territory, with Ilous's vocals echoing David Coverdale and a chorus that would improve any recent Bon Jovi album, happily bouncing along. By track three "I Miss You", what is becoming apparent is that La Famiglia Superstar are going to attempt to cover a plethora of bases, as a stripped back acoustic song that just never quite manages to burst into life sways past pleasantly if unremarkably. The "Oooh-Oooh-Ooohs" that infuse another lacklustre funk-lite stroll in "What We Gonna Do" sum up the overly laid back, not really going anywhere vibe that trickles out of this album and I have to say that by this time I was desperate for Mendoza to lay down a big fat bass line that would actually wake up the rest of band and make them realise the lack of potency this album suffers from. Instead "I Come Around", another mid-paced borefest, strolls into and out of view with the merest nod at funk, rock and soul without really bothering any of those genres properly.

The acoustic is back out again for "Closer" and once more the undoubtedly talented Saluto puts in a fine performance, however it is a rather interesting that this time round, his acoustic playing has far more impact than the majority of his plugged in work on this album. The true potential of this quartet finally hits home on "Can U Tell Me", where at last the guitars veer into a blues area that has the ability to make the whole band kick start into action. Mendoza rumbles joyously, Anur kicks out a great beat and Ilous gives us his best Coverdale like sneer. My heart sank however when I realised that to follow up this standout track, La Famiglia Superstar decided to cover Whitesnake's untouchable "Here I Go Again". Now considering that various incarnations of The 'Snake have actually given us four different, yet wonderful interpretations of that song, to come up with something vaguely new to say with it is a challenge most bands would rightly run from screaming. However undeterred LFS, somehow suck all the life out of a blues rock classic by yet again becoming so laid back that I actually thought they'd fallen asleep while recording it. I know I did listening to it! Having performed this live in Whitesnake countless times, Mendoza really should have known better than to treat us to some extreme bass meandering while Saturo gets lost in a solo that whilst impressive, sits uncomfortably in this song. The original, and all of Cov's subsequent version all were so wonderfully bombastic and over the top, that it is amazing how under whelming this rendition is.

It should come as no surprise that on an album that is as thoroughly confused as it is confusing, we then get Ilous crooning rather unconvincingly in French for "The Wind", before the closing instrumental "Visions" illustrates what could have been on this album. Saluto funnels all his bluesy funk into a rip roaring burst that really leaves no doubt what a wonderful six stringer he is. The manner with which Mendoza locks together with Anur is hugely uplifting, however considering what has come before, also a little befuddling. When you can knock out a riff fest like this with ease and have a tremendous vocalist at your disposal, why would any band spend eight track out of ten noodling around aimlessly?

Track Listing
01. Never Enough
02. Rain
03. I Miss You
04. What We Gonna Do
05. I Come Around
06. Closer
07. Can U Tell Me
08. Here I Go Again
09. The Wind
10. Visions

Added: July 26th 2010
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: La Famiglia Superstar MySpace
Hits: 2991
Language: english

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