2008COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: LINEUP:
Hugo - vocals * Adam Holland - guitars * Gerard Zappa - bass * Craig Pullman - keyboards * Mike Morales - drumsTRACK LISTING:
01 Dream On The Way * 02 Pickin' Up The Pieces * 03 Soul Salvation * 04 Interlude * 05 Love Song * 06 One More Chance * 07 Pages * 08 Every Time You Go Away * 09 I'll Be The One * 10 Wait * 11 Love Is All We're AfterRATING: WEBLINKS: www.valentinetheband.com
I'll admit it. I was a big fan of that first Valentine album back in 1990. I remember the guys from Boulevard fanzine describing it as a cross between Dokken
, with a singer that appeared to be Steve Perry
's twin brother! All jokes aside, Valentine were a delicious musical treat, combined with the Neil Kernon production job (looking back, now I'm not so sure that this was one of his better production jobs..). Unfortunately the band were plagued with personnel and management problems, and they didn't last too long as the greasy fingers of grunge would snuff out their chances completely - at the tail end of the hair metal movement. Over the years, members of Valentine didn't completely go away, they stayed in touch, and last year, they reformed for the British Firefest gig. Lead singer Hugo has had an active solo career, sings for fun with Long Island Journey
tribute band Evolution
, and has more recently paired up with guitarist Josh Ramos for a new album on Frontiers. Valentine the band, are four-fifths back as per their original lineup, with Evolution
drummer Mike Morales handling the drums. Keyboardist Craig Pullman was able to revisit most of the material originally earmarked for the second (but never released) second Valentine album, the band reworked it, and some of these now appear on the official comeback album 'Soul Salvation'.
A self released set, 'Soul Salvation' is out in the market at the same time as their DVD sourced from their 2007 Firefest performance. I can't vouch for the overall quality of that DVD, but being more of an audio buff, it was easier to wrap some words around the new CD instead. There are some good songs here, and the Journey
comparison is easy to make. This time around, Hugo's vocals sound less like Steve Perry
and more like Rik Emmett
. Sung in a higher register, I guess a mix of Journey
and mid 80's era Triumph
is what we end up with. The picks from the album are the opener 'Dream On The Way', the brilliant and hard rocking 'One More Chance', 'Every Time You Go Away, which harks back to the debut album, plus the luscious ballad 'I'll Be The One'. The other two ballads 'Love Song' and 'Pages' don't quite reach the heights of 'I'll Be The One', thankfully the album is weighted in favour of rockier songs, with the last two songs 'Wait' and 'Love Is All We're After' offsetting the ballast as a couple of heavier efforts.
Not a bad return to form, and admittedly, I'll need to spend a bit more time with this album and let it soak into the consciousness. I like the band a lot, but I'm not completely sold on the vocals to be honest - sounding thin and under-powered mostly. As an AOR fan, I can certainly appreciate what they are doing and give them kudos for returning back to the public eye. It's just that 2008 has been a pretty good year for the sub-genre, and those benchmark albums which have gone before in prior months have raised the bar to a very high level. Still, I'm sure 'Soul Salvation' will find a lot of favour with the readers here.
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