Place Vendome ALBUM:
Streets Of Fire LABEL:
FRCD 398 YEAR:
2009 COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: LINEUP:
Michael Kiske - vocals * Uwe Reitenauer - guitars * Dennis Ward - bass, guitars, keyboards, vocals * Gunter Werno - keyboards * Kosta Zafiriou - drumsTRACK LISTING:
01 Streets Of Fire [Spoof] * 02 My Guardian Angel [Karlsson] * 03 Completely Breathless [Milianowicz] * 04 Follow Me [Sall] * 05 Set Me Free [Casting Crowns cover] * 06 Believer [Spoof] * 07 Valerie (The Truth Is In Your Eyes) [Sall] * 08 A Scene In Reply [Milianowicz] * 09 Changes [Spoof] * 10 Surrender Your Soul [Milianowicz] * 11 Dancer [Spoof] * 12 I'd Die For You [Soleil Moon cover] * 13 My Guardian Angel (Jap bonus, acoustic) [Karlsson] RATING:
Back in 2005, former Helloween
singer Michael Kiske surprised the melodic rock and AOR world with the rather tasty Place Vendome debut album. Masterminded by Pink Cream 69
maestro Dennis Ward, that platter astounded many, the album sitting high in the top 10 lists for the 2005 year, and rightly so. It's taken Michael nearly four years to make a return, and with 'Streets Of Fire' we're not losing much in terms of quality. At the start of 2009, there have been a few disasters already, with the godawful Bad Habit
and tragically AWOL Tall Stories
albums getting us on the wrong footing. Thankfully, Place Vendome gets us back on the right path. The same team who bought you the debut are back again for part two. The construct of the songs have a familiar feel to them, but when you look through the songwriting credits, you see a bunch of different individuals contributing to the 'war effort'. Names such as Robert Sall (Work Of Art
), Torsti Spoof (Leverage
), Magnus Karlsson (Starbreaker
) and Ronny Milianowicz (Dionysus
, Saint Deamon
) all provide songwriting assistance.
There are twelve songs onboard. Most are good, however some don't do anything for me. Call it musical overload, as I get to listen to many varied artists during the day/week, so I know what tickles my fancy and what doesn't.
The opening salvoes of the title track is a powerful entry, guitarist Uwe Reitenauer gets to vent some six string magic on this one. This is a good start.'My Guardian Angel'
is a semi-ballad saved only by a reasonable chorus. However, I'm not too keen on hearing all these string/synth arrangements wash all over the choruses, as you'll hear during the album. It gets a bit annoying after awhile. 'Completely Breathless'
didn't set my house alight at all, moving on.. 'Follow Me'
is a Robert Sall co-write, but you wouldn't think so from listening to it. Quite disappointing me thinks. I was hoping for more theatrics.
The ballad 'Set Me Free'
was another disappointment. By this stage I'm hoping that someone would have a chat to Gunter and Dennis and tone down those keyboards. Thankfully, things get a bit better from here on in..
I loved the rockier aspects of 'Believer'
, which combines commercial appeal with an AOR delivery. Amazing to think this is a Torsi Spoof co-write. This has more in common with Tommy Denander
's stuff! 'Valerie'
is a cool kinda tune, with a wink and nod in the direction of Work Of Art
(or is that Toto
?). Boy, they don't write songs like this anymore, unless you live in Sweden of course. Isn't that so Mr Sall?
Another song saved by its chorus is 'A Scene In Reply'
, but the lead-up work is pretty ordinary.
It appears the best tracks on the album are where Mr Spoof is involved. 'Changes'
is the third of his contributions, and it's a winner! 'Surrender Your Soul'
is a happy breezy number, quite light fare in comparison to what we've heard previously. Call it throwaway AOR, similar to that other Ward inspired outfit Khymera
But the killer track provided by Spoof is 'Dancer'
, which is huge on synth overkill. Could this be 80's Sweden all over again? Woah!
Huge kudos goes to Michael for covering the rather excellent Soleil Moon
song 'I'd Die For You'
(from their 2000 'Worlds Apart
' album). This version is pretty awesome though, but as you can expect, the original is still the one for me.
Kiske gets points added for covering Soleil Moon
, but gets several points docked for some of the others. As good as he is with Place Vendome, I still come away with the feeling that Michael and AOR are not a 'hand fits glove'
situation. I think Michael would agree with that summation too, as it's not his 'day-job' so to speak. The more he remains in this genre the less inclined I am to remember his power/thrash metal past, but that's not about to happen - considering he is still dipping his toes in the heavier side of things. As mentioned, some of the keyboard arrangements which have been applied in a symphonic context I would suggest - suffocate this album slightly from my listening viewpoint. I love keyboards like the best of us, but their use on the choruses on some songs drags them down a bit. Still, it's another solid album for 2009, perhaps not as good as the debut was.. call it 'second round blues', but in any case, it's still worthy of your attention.
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