FIRST SIGNAL – Line Of Fire

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.

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HARDLINE – Life

2018 was a very busy year for Johnny Gioeli. He released two well received discs in both his solo album and a collaboration with Deen Castronovo, but also found time to work on a new Hardline record. At a time where the respected rock singer appeared to be in strong voice, he was perhaps wise to take advantage of this burst of creativity, but has releasing three albums in a little under a year spread those talents a little too thinly?

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MICHAEL THOMPSON BAND – Love And Beyond

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.

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ANIMAL DRIVE – Back To The Roots EP

In 2018, Croatian hard rockers Animal Drive released their debut album ‘Bite!’ on Frontiers Records. With plenty of hard rock crunch, the record drew parallels with the heavier end of Skid Row’s early output, as well as showing off more than a passing fancy with the late, great Ronnie James Dio. The record featured at least a half dozen cuts that were well worth hearing, but if anything, it was the Dio-tastic ‘Time Machine’ with its heavy but melodic riff which best demonstrated the band’s skills.

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BURNING RAIN – Face The Music

When Doug Aldrich left Whitesnake in 2013 after an on-off seven year stint, it was potentially a huge blow to the band. For Doug, though, it was the definitely right thing to do, since the ‘Snake had been trading on goodwill for years and by the time of the ‘Forevermore’ tour in 2011, to suggest David Coverdale’s voice wasn’t…quite up to scratch would be putting it very politely. Since then, as an in demand musician, Aldrich has hardly kept a low profile: he’s recorded with melodic rock supergroup Revolution Saints, had success with hard rockers The Dead Daisies and latterly resurrected his hard rock outfit Burning Rain.

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