Rock Candy Records [Release date 02.10.20]
GIANT – Last Of The Runaways
In the music world, Dann Huff is best known for his success as a multi award winning Country Music producer/ guitarist and songwriter. But for Melodic Rock fans, he and his band, Giant will always be remembered for their 1989 debut album “Last Of The Runaways” (and perhaps too for his stint, previously, with Whiteheart).
It was recorded in England, and included several songwriting collaborations between Huff, Mark Spiro and Terry (Charlie) Thomas (who also produced).
‘I’m A Believer’ was the breakout track. Its opening solo, loud and fierce, just hums with the kind of vitality that only an electric guitar can create.
The song, a stomping, stadium filling anthem, kicks off the album, rendered 3 dimensional here by sympathetic remastering.
None of the other tracks, cool and classy as they are, truly reinforce the band identity as defined by that opener. Its little brother, ‘Innocent Days’ and the bluesy, shuffling ‘It Takes Two’ come close. Big ballad, ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams’ comes closest. Its keen, commercial edge allowed it a tilt at the Billboard Top Twenty.
Unfortunately for Giant, at the end of the decade, Melodic Rock as we know it was closing in on its sell-by date. Interest was waning. Some of the best stuff in the genre, like this album, was being overtaken by events. The Pacific Northwest was rising. ****
DAMN YANKEES – Dont Tread\
Rock Candy Records [Release date 02.10.20]
The supertrio wrote and recorded some outstanding songs between the debut and 1992′s “Don’t Tread”. But fans expected more from the coming together of Ted (Amboy Dukes) Nugent, Jack (Nightranger) Blades and Tommy (Styx) Shaw.
It again proved that in popular music, as much as any other collective artistic endeavour, it’s chemistry that counts, not just individual talent.
Still, when they were cooking, they could spark lightning. Power ballad ‘Where You Goin Now’ is one in a line of immense genre power ballads that began with ‘Stairway To Heaven’ in 1971. Many Hard Rock bands, like Cinderella and G’n'R borrowed heavily (and successfully) from the style and tone of LZ’s masterpiece in the following years, but few surpassed this one.
Elsewhere on the album, several tracks standout. ‘Fifteen Minutes Of Fame’s piercing harmonies bounce about on Nugent’s bold, thrusting guitar work; ‘Mister Please’s quick fire harmonies strike a distinctive tone, and ‘Silence Is Broken’ works hard at being another epic ballad. And yet frequently, it’s moreso Nugent’s blazing, powerful (and eminently tuneful) guitar work that catches your ear.
“Only” 28 years since this was released, yet the remastering does it a great service, bringing up the resonating Shaw/Blades harmonies and adding sharpness to Nugent’s blazing solos.
Adding live versions of the band’s biggies ‘High Enough’ and ‘Where Are You Goin Now’ is a nice touch. The perfect ending to a classy album.
Rock Candy have been reissuing remastered classics for so long now, it’s easy to forget that the whole package always includes new essays, written by leading music journalists, and plenty of previously unseen picks. Always great value. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
The latest Facebook Live session from Canadian singer-songwriter Josh Taerk was streamed on Sunday 22 November.
More about Josh: http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/?s=%22Josh+Taerk%22
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