ISSA – Run With The Pack

Issa Oversveen made her first notable appearance on the melodic rock scene back in 2010. Her debut release ‘Sign of Angels’ quickly got attention from the AOR die-hards, with some proclaiming the album “a female fronted Journey”. An odd claim, since the songs neither had a particularly 80s shine and it had a distinctly European flair. That of course seemed only fitting with Issa hailing from Norway and her hired help all being European; it was a little better than most of the second division melodic rock being released at the time, but was still quite workmanlike. A follow up, ‘The Storm’ appeared surprisingly quickly in 2011 which, on the surface, promised more of the same but upon closer inspection boasted a better production and bigger and better songs. It may have accentuated the Euro slant a little more, but the results were enjoyable.

Keen to promote Issa as the new queen of a purer AOR sound, Frontiers Records pulled a master stroke in 2012 when ‘Can’t Stop’ presented the vocalist with a selection of melodic rock covers from the 80s and 90s. Obviously the big hitters like Journey and Survivor weren’t accounted for, but the choice of second division material made the album all the more interesting. For melodic rock buffs, it was fun to hear cult material originally recorded by the likes of Aviator, Tower City and Mystic Healer re-interpreted by new hands. It also was a welcome reminder of a golden period when now defunct labels like MTM Music were cranking out interesting albums on a monthly basis. Following a three year hiatus, 2015’s ‘Crossfire’ was well received by the faithful but, predictably, didn’t make any kind of impact beyond the melodic rock fraternity. As melodic rock albums go, it was a reasonable listen – the upbeat style of ‘Long Time Coming’ harked back to 1990 and was very much a highlight – but after the covers album, it never felt like it deserved as much stereo time.

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Watch the new video from Love/Hate’s Jizzy Pearl

Best known as the front man for Love/Hate, Jizzy Pearl releases a new solo album ‘All You Need Is Soul’ in May, which will be accompanied by a full UK tour which includes four acoustic shows in addition to a run of full band gigs.

The second track to be released from the upcoming album, ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone’ is already streaming on Spotify, but you can also check it out via the new video below.

Jizzy is scheduled to appear at London’s Camden Underworld on 13/5/2018 two days after the album’s release.

The album is Pearl’s first studio work since 2013’s ‘Crucified’ [full review here]

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WORLD TRADE – Unify

Mixing prog, pop and AOR, the first album by World Trade is somewhat of a cult classic. Showcasing Billy Sherwood’s multi-layered sound, the record is essential listening for fans of ‘Images of Forever’ by Cannata, ‘90125’ era Yes and ‘Hold Your Fire’ era Rush. Given it’s technical approach and sophisticated choruses, it’s no wonder Billy became a member of the Yes family tree a short time later. Six years on, a second World Trade album appeared, but ‘Euphoria’ seemed to not quite match expectations. Maybe it’s because both Guy Allison and Bruce Gowdy had founded AOR band Unruly Child with Marcie Free in the interim and had other interests; maybe it was just a difficult second record. The record, while enjoyable, lacked the focus of the debut and re-used tracks that Sherwood had previously demoed with Chris Squire alongside other material.

With Sherwood having other projects taking his time and also taking on the unenviable position of full time bassist with the ever-touring Yes in 2015, and with Gowdy and Allison having commitments with Unruly Child, it seemed we’d heard the last of World Trade…and then a third album appeared somewhat unexpectedly on Frontiers Records in 2017.

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JACK RUSSELL’S GREAT WHITE – He Saw It Comin’

6PAN1T-C PSDIn the latter part of the twentieth century, Great White made a big impression with their brand of hard rock. Adding a bluesy edge or a slightly glammy sensibility to plenty of crunch, the LA band really showed their teeth on their big selling ‘Twice Shy’ and ‘Hooked’ albums in the early 90s and even their lesser known later works had plenty to recommend them.

Russell’s 2002 solo release ‘For You’ found the vocalist branching out and experimenting with a couple of softer styles in places, but was an equally strong demonstration of his talents. Beyond that, Great White worked hard but often failed to reach the same heights and their career was somewhat marred by in-fighting and legal battles over the band name. Great White (fronted by ex-XYZ man Terry Ilous) released the surprisingly good ‘Elation’ in 2012, while Jack Russell’s Great White continued to ply their trade on the live circuit, eventually – and some would say belatedly – releasing ‘He Saw It Coming’ in 2017.

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PRIDE OF LIONS – Fearless

POLF2017Jim Peterik is a legend. His work on various Survivor albums cements his place in the melodic rock history books, regardless of anything he has written or recorded since the 80s. Tracks like ‘American Heartbeat’, ‘Jackie Don’t Go’, ‘I Can’t Hold Back’ and ‘Poor Man’s Son’ are stone cold classics…and of course, it would take a hard heart not to be amused by the ‘Eye of The Tiger’ video with Survivor attempting to look tough whilst stomping through a warehouse.

Peterik’s post-Survivor projects have, understandably, been less high profile. After all, how can you follow a million selling rock band, radio play and worldwide number one singles?

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