In the minds of a lot of people, Michael Bolton is a man charged with filling his career with easy listening pop, or crooning standards. He achieved massive success in the late 80s with his sixth album, ‘Soul Provider’, a record that showcased a man with a strong voice, but beyond the Desmond Child penned ‘How Can We Be Lovers’ had very little substance.
That track was actually a welcome throwback of sorts to Bolton’s musical past. Before he became chief executive of making a generation of housewives over excited, old Mickey Two-Haircuts had already had a full career by most people’s standards. His first two albums mixed west coast pop with AM radio friendly rock tunes and material that occasionally hinted at his future success as a best-selling crooner, but a run of work released between 1979-85 cast Michael in the role of a full blooded rocker. With his band Blackjack (featuring future Kiss axeman Bruce Kulick) and as a solo performer, ‘Blackjack’ (1979), ‘Worlds Apart’ (1980), ‘Michael Bolton’ (1983) and ‘Everybody’s Crazy’ (1985) captured a run of work that could easily stand up with the best of Foreigner, Survivor and their ilk. Given the ubiquitous presence of Michael’s later, softer works, these brilliant records have all but been forgotten – or more likely ignored – by the more casual record buyer.
When FM appeared at the first Ramblin’ Man Fair in 2015, they played an excellent set. Despite a low down billing on the main stage, they played with the professionalism and intensity of a headline act. Apparently, their London show on the 2022 ‘Thirteen’ tour – featuring Grand Slam in support – was similarly strong, so it was always likely fans on the Kent coast could surely rely on a typically enthusiastic set at the tour’s end.
This thirteenth studio release from FM, one of the UK’s best loved AOR bands, presents eleven tracks where Steve Overland and the lads barely deviate from their usual blueprint, barely break a sweat during their performances, or really offer their fans any material that would challenge them in any way. Such a massively predictable approach might seem half arsed coming from a lesser act, but with FM, such familiar territory is bound to bring a treat or six, especially since Overland still possesses one of the greatest voices in rock. At the point in his career where most of his peers are turning in deeper performances or even assaulting their fans with voices that should have long retired, Steve still sounds like a master performer; a gifted talent able to anything within a broad range; a man more than capable of delivering anything any of his various bands requires. Along with Jeff Scott Soto, he appears to be among a dying breed. In the rest of FM, there remains a truly solid band that conveys a classic sound. By 2022, their work is certainly formulaic, but few would deny that it often results in a winning combination of power and melody.
In 2021, Real Gone celebrated its twelfth year online. It’s hard to believe we’ve endured for so long, but that’s down to you – our enthusiastic and still growing audience – coming back every week to explore the more “cult” aspects of a new release schedule as well as continuing to enjoy our occasional dips back into music’s past.
Having long established a house style, our approach remained the same as the past few years: the site has mixed in depth pieces on new albums with occasional “archive pieces”, full length videos, and other bits of musical news and streams. That’s got us through another tricky twelve month stretch. That makes it sound like a prison sentence, but even with the ongoing pandemic hovering over all of us, it’s been far from bad.
FM frontman Steve Overland has always seemed to keep himself busy, but the release of the Overland album ‘Epic’ in 2014 kicked off an especially prolific period for the British rock vocalist. The new, eponymously named band didn’t necessarily offer anything radically different from his “day job”, but in guitarist Christian Wolff and drummer Jay Schellen, he found new collaborators that worked very well with his still great voice. Between making three excellent studio albums with FM between 2015 and 2018, Steve also found time to record a fifth album with Shadowman (his on/off project with Thunder members Chris Childs and Harry James), a second Overland album, and even join a new band, Groundbreaker.
The new band mined a further seam of classic AOR sounds, and their debut album – as with so many Overland related projects – was a great vehicle for his voice. In addition, it allowed Work of Art’s Robert Sall to work with some slightly tougher sounds on occasion, and it was clear from the start that this new musical union had a strong heart. Unafraid to recycle a lot of genre tropes and lyrical clichés in songs like ‘The Days of Our Life’, ‘Eighteen Till I Die’ (nowhere near as embarrassing as the Bryan Adams tune of the same name), and ‘Standing Up For Love’, the band’s moniker was certainly chosen for its tongue in cheek qualities, but the album gave genre fans a great deal to enjoy.