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Strangeways: Perfect World

This review is a real no brainer for me as Strangeways are one of my favourite British bands ever, featuring one of my all time favourite vocalist, Mr. Terry Brock. Frontiers are synonymous with releasing classy Melodic Rock / AOR albums; Perfect World is no exception to that rule.

For me "Goodnight L.A" was a real bench mark song for Strangeways, as was the absolutely stunning Native Sons album as a whole, defining what the band where all about. The first three seminal albums this band recorded should be in any respected AOR fans collection. Brock left the band, recording album after album of stunning Melodic Rock with bands such as supergroup The Sign, Seventh Key, Slammer, Steelhouse Lane, Giant and two solo albums, one having been released very recently, Diamond Blue which is in my top ten albums of the year, so far. Ian Stewart took up the vocal reins, producing three, what seemed somewhat hit and miss albums; the band exploring a more atmospheric and rootsy style. It wasn't that the albums were bad per se! Just, well different, a good analogy being, Journey without Perry, it works on some levels but not all.

Perfect World sees the band taking up the position where Walk in the Fire left off, which quite frankly can only be a good thing. The album is just swathed with beautiful, memorable harmonies, heartfelt lyrics, emotional guitar tones, strong song structures that will have you singing in no time. Honest music, straight from the heart, no more, no less.

The band could have chosen to record power ballad after power ballad, but instead chose not to. They have created and recorded eleven great memorable songs. Tracks like "One More Day" see's the band taking a more mature approach, which is a theme throughout, knowing what buttons to press; the scaling rocky "Perfect World", "Movin On" and "Bushfires" flexing their muscles, whilst Terry adds the cream. The likes of "Borderlines", "Too Far Gone", "Say What You Will", "Time" and "Crackin' Up" dance and caress around your heart and soul; soaring guitar work offering support and comfort, which, if the likes of say Bon Jovi had written these tracks, they would have been smash hits.

The band sound refreshed, rejuvenated, confident and ready to take on the world. It's almost as if they haven't been away, adding to there already powerful legacy. This quality album has me grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat, it just has so many high points it is unreal. If you missed this band the first time round, I implore you not to miss them a second time. This is a band you need to investigate. Long may this reunion of musical minds continue?

Track Listing
1 Perfect World
2 Borderlines
3 Movin On
4 Time
5 Crackin' Up Baby
6 Liberty
7 One More Day
8 Bushfire
9 Too Far Gone
10 Can't Let You Go
11 Say What You Want

Added: October 17th 2010
Reviewer: John OBoyle
Related Link: Frontiers Records
Hits: 3511
Language: english

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Strangeways: Perfect World
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-10-17 16:25:27
My Score:

I was late to the Terry Brock party, with my first exposure to his amazing voice being his contributions to the "supergroup" The Sign and their amazing debut album. From there I've bought whatever he has been involved with, whether that be solo albums, Seventh Key, or the most recent Giant album and never been disappointed. I have also worked my way back through Brock's early catalogue and while I can understand the appeal of his work with Strangeways, I have to say that the accolade of them being the UK's best ever exponents of AOR is something I personally can't agree with. Just off the top of my head I would place Dare, Shy and early FM in front of Strangeways, but as they say beauty is in the eye, or in this case ear, of the beholder. Don't get me wrong, the first three albums, Strangeways, Native Sons and Walk In The Fire are far from average, with Brock's unmistakably seductive tones soaring over some smooth melodic rock, it is just that to me those albums (the first of which was before Brock's time) are slightly one dimensional in pace and delivery. Unbelievably it is twenty one years since the last of those albums hit the shelves however Brock is once again reunited with guitarist and song writer Ian Stewart for the album Perfect World, before the band perform at the UK melodic rock festival Firefest at the end of October.

It really is as if the last twenty years never happened when you first start to spin this disc, the mid-paced gentle melodies that greet you, could easily have come from any of those first three Strangeways albums. Brock still sounding amazing and perfectly at home stretching out over the slick, mature themes that Stewart has laid down for him. This is definitely not "cheesy" AOR by numbers. Listen to the restrained but impressive guitar work on "Say What You Want", or "One More Day" to discover some remarkably complex, yet silky smooth melodies that stretch more as "movements", than the verse/chorus stereotype that immediately springs to mind with this style of music. All of the tracks brood rather than dazzle and as Strangeways always did, the preference is to create atmospheric, slower paced songs, instead of the glossy sing-a-longs this genre is best known for.

Personally, the effect is all a little long and drawn out for me, although I can dip in and out of this album and be startled by the grown up themes, it is just an album's worth becomes a bit hard work. If you are already a convert to Strangeways, I'm sure you will absolutely love Perfect World, as unlike many reunions, it really does evoke the spirit of the band's early work.

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