Bad Reputation France [Release date 05.03.21]
Something of a Melodic Rock Supergroup, Flesh & Blood was put together in the early nineties by Touch/Drive She Said’s talented songwriter and producer, Mark Mangold. Tyketto’s Danny Vaughn and Al (TSO/Savatage) Pitrelli were two of the better known names who took part.
The UK’s trailblazing genre label, Now & Then, released it in 1997.
Now, with two outstandingly good bonus tracks, French label Bad Reputation has released a very proficiently and sympathetically remastered version.
As the album title suggests, it’s a blues album. Well, not really. It’s a Blues rock album, with lots of nods and winks to the genre greats. ‘Feel The Power’, ‘Shake A Tale Feather’ and ‘Judgement Day’ are all song titles that probably have their own websites.
Despite the fact it’s a ballad, third track, ‘Bed Of Roses’ provides the thrust, the forward momentum that the album needs. Acoustic guitars, pedal steel, a rumbling piano and a rock solid, bolted to the floor rhythm section sit in behind Vaughn’s big vocal delivery, just blowing us away with their sheer artistry. It’s very reminiscent of that fine, if underrated Cinderella album, Heartbreak Station.
Like many of Mangold’s rock albums, there is a generous smattering of really outstanding tracks among the just pretty good stuff. The haunting ‘Jenny Doesn’t Live Here Anymore’ is very Tyketto. An epic melodic rock ballad that starts slow and grows fast, eventually shoehorning the kitchen sink into the climactic second half.
And there’s the steam rollering ‘Boogie Chile’. At first it just sounds like a huge, delta blues fanfare, but there are subtleties within that register only after several sittings. And ‘Riverside’. It’s in the same mould. Inviting us into a smoky, seductive, nightclub setting. And once the soulful backing vocals step up, there’s a real sensuality to the music, and an unavoidable earthiness to the overall tone.
On balance, the album’s acoustic material just about wins the day. In line with many popular music vagaries, it’s by unplugging it from its powered up life support system that the music often truly comes alive.
No better example than the acoustic (bonus) version of ‘Riverside’. Vaughn’s voice bonds with the guitar’s rude strum and the harmonica’s mournful wail to form a perfect downhome harmony.
Hard to believe this album didn’t make much more of a mark on first release. ****
Review by Brian McGowan
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