Dude looks like a lady indeed! After taking one look at the spray painted dudes with their teased hair and frosted lipstick on the front cover and in the accompanying booklet, I was pretty damn certain I was going to hate the music of DanielZ & Tarazara before I'd even heard a single note. Before you give me that 'You shouldn't judge a book by its cover' routine I'll go on record by saying that I was into my fair share of glam / hard rock bands back in the day, primarily the one's that came out of the L.A. scene in the early to mid 80's. However, I often found that beyond the eye liner and the lip gloss the vast majority of those acts didn't come off as being serious musicians, they just didn't seem as remotely interested in their music as they were their image. So after thoroughly looking this one over with a raised eyebrow or two I decided it was finally time to take the plunge and just hope for the best, but I can honestly say that I was pretty surprised by the end result.
The story of British based vocalist DanielZ and his band Tarazara was a short lived one that only lasted a couple of years (1984-85), but now with this new archive release by Angel Air Records entitled Behind The Mask, comes the hope that they can at last reap some rewards that come with having their music released on a real record label, even if it is twenty five years after the fact.
The album kicks off in splendid fashion with a couple of infectious, melodic rock anthems "Fantasy" and "The Time Is Right", two songs that certainly appear as if they were tailor made for the radio back in the day. Musically their sound was like a cross between Sweet and Bon Jovi, with an even emphasis placed upon Andy Street's keyboards and the guitar work of Jeff Williams. The charismatic vocals of DanielZ takes center stage for the requisite early power ballad "All Too Late" and the harder edged, up- tempo rockers "Behind The Mask", "Master Of The Deadly Kiss" and "Hold Me Tonight", which instantly brought to mind the vocal style of former Wrathchild U.K. (anyone remember that band?) belter Rocky Shades, someone who DanielZ might have actually rubbed shoulders with in and around the London glam metal scene at the time. The magic of the first nine tracks begins to wear off slightly by the time you get into the second half of the album which is entirely made up of demos that the band was working on just before they decided to pack it in. These last five songs unfortunately saw the group taking their music in a decidedly more pop orientated direction and the results aren't nearly as effective as the first half of the record. Fortunately though a couple of ragged sounding concert recordings of "Behind The Mask" and "Fantasy", taken from a live television appearance in '85 at least concludes the album on a higher note.
Behind The Mask is a pretty solid effort overall, even if the songs do sound a bit dated, but that is to be expected considering these recordings were made twenty five years ago. That being said what this album does prove is that DanielZ and his boys were definitely skilled at writing catchy, straight ahead hard rock songs that placed an added emphasis on delivering heaping doses of soaring vocal harmonies and hook laden melodies. Good fun in the end.
2) The Time Is Right
3) All Too Late
4) Behind The Mask
5) Master Of The Deadly Kiss
6) Hold Me Tonight
7) Wake Up!
8) Shout It Out
9) Send Me Your Love Tonight
10) Shoot Away The Memory (for Phil Lynott) – (Demo)
11) Turning Away From You – (Demo)
12) Sweet Suicide – (Demo)
13) 17 – (Demo)
14) Love Comes Easy – (Demo)
15) Sweet Suicide – (Demo alt mix)
16) Behind The Mask (Live)
17) Fantasy (Live)