Between the release of First Signal’s 2016 album ‘One Step Over The Line’ and 2019’s ‘Line of Fire’, the band’s core members kept themselves very busy. Vocalist Harry Hess recorded another album with his “day job” band, Harem Scarem (2017’s ‘United’); guitarist Michael Palace released his second band album with Palace – the appropriately named ‘Binary’ – and Daniel Flores returned to The Murder of My Sweet, releasing ‘Echoes of the Aftermath’ on Frontiers Records in 2017. In addition during those intervening three years, Flores and Palace scored themselves jobs as invaluable members of the Frontiers “house band”, lending their talents to releases by Toby Hitchcock, Find Me and Code Red. There’s almost been no time for them to sleep.
The Michael Thompson Band’s 1989 album ‘How Long’ is often considered one of the landmark releases of 80s AOR. A near perfect release, its slick pop-rock sound and songs co-written with Mark Spiro captured the ears of a generation of fans. The album became increasingly hard to find on CD until a Frontiers Records reissue made the masterpiece available to all once again in 2007. Such a reissue should have been met with much enthusiasm. However, not only did the reissue sound inferior compared to the master used for the original Geffen release, but it was also sullied by the addition of a few contemporary bonus tracks which only lessened the overall quality. A brand new release the same year – TRW, teaming Thompson with vocalist Mark Williamson and noted session man John Robinson (one time of AOR band Bridge 2 Far) – was enjoyed by some fans, but in terms of sheer quality it just didn’t equal Thompson’s late 80s peak.
Combining the talents of Blanc Faces vocalist Robbie LaBlanc and Chilean multi-instrumentalist Daniel Flores, Find Me are a band that recycle classic 80s rock sounds with love. The musicians were brought together by Frontiers Records’ President Serifino Perugino in 2013 to try and fulfil his dream of creating “the perfect AOR record”. Their debut album ‘Wings of Love’ was an excellent example of the genre, though measured against many of the 80s classics, to call it “perfect” would, perhaps, be a little overzealous. The odd thing is that Perugino had something close to his dream under his nose the whole time with Work of Art’s 2008 debut ‘Artwork’, but nevertheless, he wanted more. The fans loved it, of course; the reviews were almost all positive and Find Me eventually recorded a second album at the end of 2015.
As the next couple of years ticked by, with Flores reconvening The Murder of My Sweet in 2017 and working with Palace in 2018 and no word from LeBlanc, a third Find Me record seemed increasingly unlikely. …And then, at the beginning of 2019, the band announced their big return…much to the delight of most who’d followed them previously.
Always a much loved band in melodic rock circles, Harem Scarem have released some great albums over the years, with their first two albums very much at the forefront of the scene at the point where the AOR glory days of the 80s reached their end.
Over the following years, Harry Hess, Pete Lesperance and band continued to make great music, with their 2002 release ‘Weight of The World’ ranking among their best.
Outside of Japan, most of their albums have been increasingly hard to find, but March 2019 will set that right when most of the band’s catalogue is set for release as a lavish fourteen CD set, pairing the first twelve albums with an “Early Years” disc and an exclusive disc of rarities. The good news for fans looking to fill those collection gaps is that each of the individual releases also includes the relevant bonus tracks from the Japanese releases and more besides.
The full details can be found in the press release below.
Toby Hitchcock first came to prominence in the early 2000s as frontman with Pride of Lions, a melodic rock band masterminded by Survivor legend Jim Peterik. With a combination of big performances and old style AOR hooks, the band found an instant fan base within the AOR community, despite treading a very familiar musical path. Outside of that band, Hitchcock has also achieved cult success with an on/off solo career and, if anything, his 2011 solo debut ‘Mercury’s Down’ featured performances that were even more bombastic.
His second solo album – 2019’s ‘Reckoning’ – offers fans exactly what they want, in that its eleven tracks couple some huge melodic rock sounds with an even bigger vocal. For those who love Toby, the album is probably everything they could ever wish for…and more. For the many who find his approach too big, it might be another album that fails to convince at first, but it’s worth persevering with since most of the material knocks spots off 2011’s ‘Mercury’s Down’.