Frontiers [Release Date 26.04.19]
Fortune’s 1985 self-titled albums is one that always featured highly in the list of obscure but brilliant melodic/AOR classics. While singer Larry (LA) Greene and keyboard player Roger Scott Craig went on to another cult AOR band in Harlan Cage, few would have counted on Fortune – with Larry and the eponymous brothers Mick and Richard still on board from the original line up – serving up show stealing performances in successive years at Rockingham. Now to complete the unexpected revival comes a sophomore album some 34 years on.
The good news is that it follows in exactly the same style as the first with no concessions to modernity. That much is clear from the moment the bright keyboards cut through the opening guitar riff to ‘Don’t Say You Love Me’. Larry’s cool, smoky voice, deeper than many in the genre, and the spacious arrangement all build the tension that is released by a classic chorus.
This sense of familiarity is partly accounted for by the fact that these ten songs may have earlier antecedents (quite apart from four of them appearing on an EP on sale at Rockingham). The telltale sign, other than the musical style, is that Roger Scott Craig co-writes seven and is indeed listed as a performer on four.
Regardless, ‘Freedom Road’ on which Larry sounds a little like original Survivor singer Dave Bickler is AOR at its best, while the space and atmospheric grooves the band create imbue the likes of ‘Shelter Of The Night’ and ‘Little Drop Of Poison’ (about a good girl gone bad and dedicated to one ‘Amy W’) with added drama.
‘What A Fool I’ve Been’ and ‘Overload’ are both prime pieces of class, keyboard-heavy AOR , beautifully arranged with a great, spacious sense of dynamics. The ballad ‘Heart of Stone’ does not really do it for me, but ‘The Night’ is one of my favourites and certainly the rockiest on the album. It is one on which Richard Fortune’s tasteful guitar is most prominent, yet also features a spectacular mid-song synth solo.
‘New Orleans’, with a rather mournful feel not just in the lyrics that seem to reference Hurricane Katrina but also the musical arrangement, appears to be a relatively recent song, and ‘All the Right Moves’ ends the album on a high, lending more comparisons to a slightly less guitar-heavy early Survivor.
It’s possible to nitpick about how new this album really is, but lovers of melodic rock would be best advised to set such reservations aside and enjoy it for what it is – a slice of pure and timeless quality. ****
Review by Andy Nathan
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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 4 August 2020.
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