Album review: AMERICAN TEARS – Hard Core


Escape Music [Release date 23.04.18]

American Tears first surfaced in 1974 and were a power trio focussed around the keyboards of Mark Mangold,who is the sole remaining original member on this album, and indeed the only musician playing all the keys and drums. The band made three albums before morphing into AOR/melodic rock favorites Touch. For this album Mark Mangold used only keyboards available in the 70′s to capture the band’s original sound.

Lovers of 70′s prog from the likes of Focus (check out ‘Smoke And Mirrors’) and the pomptastic bombast of Vangelis (‘Nuclear’ – astounding keys on this one), will certainly enjoy the music on here. ‘The Ferryman’ is the nearest the album gets to his other bands Touch and Drive, She Said (the lyric even mentions silver white which was a DSS song) sound, making for a classy piece of AOR.

‘Fyre’ seems to borrow a few chords from ‘Fire’ by the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown – perhaps a cheeky tribute?! This song is the only one to feature a guest musician, Jake E on backing vocals. The organ and keys playing are top notch on this one and throughout the album.

You could argue this is a Mark Mangold solo album, however the music remains faithful to the band’s original remit of keyboards led rock and the American Tears’ sound was built around the keyboards of Mangold. ’Hard Core’ will surprise and delight fans of the band who would have rightly thought that this band were consigned to the musical history books. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie

Mark Mangold answered a few questions on the American Tears album, plus the Sign albums are being re-issued and more…

Why did you decide to record a new American Tears album after so many years?

Good question.  On one level, it’s nice to visit just keyboards again and get away from what has become very generic and formula styles of music. Tap into that creativity with no “net”.   There are so much that keyboards can do (though I tried to generally stick to the keyboards available in the times of the original recordings of the band).  That trip was an original goal of the band.  It taps into a level of creativity, with sound choices and soloing, that I missed.  The “songwriting” is quite different.  No limits, the only “form” is the form of the mind to create something out of chaos, being in the moment.  Many of the pieces just played and later analyzed and built out.  No “security” in the safety of forms and formula…you get to a part and then have to figure out what…in all the Universe…ha ha…you want to do next.  It’s fun…and a bit scarier ha ha.

I am very much looking forward to seeing the response…I may be crucified…or maybe people will listen and get into it…I hope. When I listen…I am actually astounded at all the anger and aggression I have boiling in there…no telling what I would do it I didn’t have this release for it:))

On another level, the world and global scene…and politics in general…have deteriorated to a feeling like it was in the 60′s and 70′s. A time of social change, revolution, the Vietnam War, corrupt leadership, racism, etc…a NEED for social change and expression, and music was a tremendous force in that change. That is not too apparent in music these days, for whatever reasons. To me it just FELT like 1968 or 1972, again…so much going wrong… and the feeling of those days…American Tears kind of solidified that feeling for me. And so much to say now…again. In many ways we are at war…with war lovers and people who are ADDICTED to war…and people who are indecent and have abandoned the humanity so many have strived so hard to achieve…

Have you been pleased with the fans and reviewers action to ‘Hardcore’ album?

I’ve seen a few reviews and am happy some people are “getting it”. Not too many out yet.

Is there any chance of live dates at all? If so, would any previous band members be involved at all?

Yes, I have some great folks who want to do it. I have tried to find Tommy and to no avail.  Nor can I find Gary.  I am not sure what they are doing now, but certainly they are there in spirit. It has been a few years ha ha. Sadly, Greg, our second bassist, passed away. I would have gladly gotten others involved if available.

Re: gigs, this music is a bit hard to play so it would be nice to not just do one off gigs, but tour and perfect it. The time signatures get a bit insane sometimes…and as on the first two records, I do most of the singing, though the bassist I am talking to is a great singer… We shall see.

Escape Music recently released a remastered version of Drive, She Said’s excellent ‘Real Life’ album. Are there plans to re-issue further DSS albums and are there any unreleased songs from DSS that may see the light of day in the future?

There are no unreleased songs to speak of. I think anything of note is out there and we are happy that Real Life got to be sounding the way it should.

Al was very proud of it. It’s hard to get my head around any of this…miss him alot. No words…this is the first time I actually verbalized an answer to that question…I guess it was inevitable. I do thank you for asking, however, and I imagine it was not an easy question to ask. I could have just said fuck the music…I miss the dude… but I didn’t ha ha.Or did I…umm no not really…

Are there any plans to make the first Sign album available again? Is there likely to be another Sign album at some point?

Yes, we have remastered both The Sign records and they are coming out in the not too distant future on Escape. They sound really good…awesome in my opinion…ha ha…and we are so happy to get them out there again. They are pretty slammin’.

What have you got planned musically for the rest of the year and beyond?

Ha…ummm  a song a day ha ha.  Some things coming…in the pop world…a few things in an upcoming movie coming out this summer…a single out doing nicely in Sweden with a great singer named Emanuel Bagge…and almost finished with another American Tears record…etc. etc.

Message for your fans…

Hmm…fans is such a funny word ha ha. I do so much appreciate getting the chance to continue to play and create and get things out there and that there are people who are listening and checking it out…and joining me on my ride…the creative process is a trip::))  I cannot express how much I appreciate that. Otherwise I guess I’m screaming in the forest ha ha…though in the final analysis…I’m gonna keep on making noise as long as there’s a breath in me.

The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk Sunday 21 February, 16:00 EST, 21:00 GMT

More about Josh:

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 February 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 9 February 2021.

Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
Click the appropriate icons at the top of the page.

Featured Albums w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 RADAR Lost In The Atlantic (Escape Music)
12:00-13:00 DURBIN The Beast Awakens (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN – The Darkest Days Are The Brightest (InsideOut Music)

Power Plays w/c 22 February 2021 (Mon-Fri)


ALLY VENABLE Road To Nowhere

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