AOR Heaven [Released 6.11.15]
And now for something not Swedish….proper American classic melodic rock fare, best served loud and with beer, Radio Exile’s debut, self-titled album. The tune-smithery (is that a word?) is, in parts, reminiscent of Ritchie Kotzen’s Winery Dogs – overall a lighter vibe perhaps but certainly no less substantial. Funnily enough, I got this album to review a few days after briefly meeting journey-man bassist, Kenny Aaronson, doing his part-time stint as bass-player for the legendary Yardbirds in New York last week. Boy, he’s got some four string mileage etched on his persona and a pedigree to match.
It’s a good record this with a very decent ditty or three – I was singing lead-off single “No Pity On The Highway” in the shower after two spins. That’s what I mean about differentiating yourself with strong songwriting. In fact, “Higher Than The Sun” has a definite Queen Rocks feel to it whilst “Starting Over” and “Down In A Hole” carries the Journey torch to great effect.
With previous experience of the various members of Radio Exile to-date including Dennis DeYoung, John Waite, Allison Krauss (for guitarist Jimmy Leahey), Bob Dylan, Bill Idol, HSAS (for Kenny on bass), Glen Burtnik, Joan Osborne (drummer Dave Anthony) and Shotgun Symphony, Bronx Casket Co (Charlie Calv) and further studio/stage moonlighting with the likes of Paul McCartney, Hall and Oates, Styx, Journey, Van Halen, the Rolling Stones, and Black Sabbath – it’s really not surprising these guys know what they’re doing.
And that includes picking backing vocalists – Joe Cerisano (Trans Siberian Orchestra, Silver Condor), Jessie Wagner (Lenny Kravitz, Kid Rock) and Amy Harnell (Tony Harnell and the Mercury Train). Personally, I’d go through the worst that any Japanese endurance show could throw at me to see/hear Jessie Wagner perform (though maybe not sit through the tedium of another Lenny Kravitz gig !). Enjoy her contribution throughout but especially her coda to “A Cross On Stone”.
Don’t wait for the witty criticisms or sarcastic swipes….there aren’t any – this is just a comprehensively impressive album – without question. ****
Review by Mark “Mad Dog” Shaw
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