1981COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: LINEUP:
János Kóbor - lead vocals * György Molnár - guitars * László Benk? - keyboards, vocals * Tamás Mihály - bass, vocals * Ferenc Debreczeni - drumsTRACK LISTING:
01 Nasca * 02 Love Games * 03 Inside Outside * 04 Laughing On The Inside * 05 Working * 06 Intermezzo * 07 Rocket * 08 Hostage I * 09 Somethin's Goin' On * 10 Thinking Of You * 11 Machines * 12 So Long * 13 Hostage IIWEBLINKS: www.omega.hu
Omega were flying high around the 1979/1980 timeframe. The third in their space AOR trilogy, 1979's 'Gammapolis' had been a big seller both behind the Iron Curtain (Hungarian version) and in Germany and surrounds (English release with better album cover). During the tour for 'Gammapolis', Omega recorded their triumphant headlining of the sold out 80 000 seat Budapest Kisstadion. Released in 1980, 'Live At Kisstadion' was also released in both Hungarian and English versions. Serving as a punctuation point before Omega's next phase began, it was also an impressive seller and perfectly captured the 'Omegamania' that was sweeping Europe at the time. Crackling with energy, it's rightly considered one of the classic European live albums. Bacillus Records, their German label that released their English albums since 1973, inexplicably didn't see fit to renew the contract. So we have a strange situation with a classic European AOR act at their commercial peak, without an English language record contract in place. WEA Germany came to the rescue with a one album deal, which saw Omega head to Frankfurt. Safely ensconced in Hotline Studios with Peter Hauke in the producer's chair, Omega set about creating a more direct English AOR album for the 1981 market.
A brief synth intro ('Nasca') soon gives way to 'Love Games', immediately setting the template for the album. Kiss
'Unmasked' era is all over this, AOR with some period Cheap Trick
sprinkled around for good measure. Energy and melody are in abundance, this is how I had hoped Omega would sound on this record. 'Inside Outside' moves along at quite a clip, Molnar's buzzing guitar set against Benko's stabbing synths to great effect. The chorus is a simple chanted affair with considerable punch, the track rounded out by a stunning and lengthy keys/guitar outro. Serious musicianship on display, and Kobor sounding quite at home singing in English. Omega could always unleash an anthemic ballad, and 'Laughing On The Inside' is no exception. Dreamy verses usher in a powerful chorus, the kind that keeps reaching upward through the melody scale. Title track 'Working' gets the tempo going again, a lively synth motif enhanced by the cutting guitar underneath. There's an easy melody at work, Kobor wrapping his vocals around the hook like Robin Zander
, memorable AOR to fire up the coffee machine. Side one ends on another instrumental synth piece ('Intermezzo'), pleasant enough.
Side two opens with the fired up AOR of 'Rocket', plenty of 'Unmasked' era Kiss
on display yet again, surely no bad thing. Janos Kobor even gets the Paul Stanley type vocal inflections out, inherently melodic AOR with a well primed chorus. Another brief synth piece ('Hostage I') halts proceedings for 58 seconds, before the uptempo energy of 'Somethin's Goin' On' rights the ship with a sharp hook and strident synth blasts adding welcome melodic drama. Some rather different synth backing informs the simple chorus, but it does end on a high anthemic note. Another tick in the AOR win column, leaving me with a period Blue Oyster Cult
feeling. 'Thinking Of You' is just pure class, working on the easy side of midtempo, supporting an AOR melody of ethereal proportions. Kobor is reeling off lines like 'I guess I'll go inside and warm myself by the fire, cos anything's better than standing here thinking of you' ...
it doesn't get more 'broken hearted AOR' than that! Twinkling keys and smouldering guitar runs lend additional class to the outro, rounding off one of the finest tracks in the Omega canon. 'Machines' and 'So Long' finish up the album, already discussed in my review of the Hungarian version of this vinyl ('Az Arc') where they appear as bonus tracks. Suffice to say both are uptempo AOR gems firmly entrenched in the Kiss
'Unmasked' soundscape - both sporting memorable AOR choruses. The record winds down with another 58 seconds of synth atmospherics ('Hostage II'), these instrumental pieces being more sonic decoration than worthwhile contribution. It's the songs that clearly steal the show here.
'Working' performed admirably without setting the charts on fire. Omega made some television appearances in Germany, performing 'Rocket' and other tracks by way of promotion. I could find no trace of any single releases from the album, WEA seemingly not willing to go that far in support of Omega, which is a shame considering the wealth of highly melodic AOR single possibilities on display. After the promo tour for this album Omega set about recording a Hungarian version of the album ('Az Arc') which was a massive success in the Eastern Bloc. To this day, 'Working' has never enjoyed a cd release which is a gross injustice. Would one of our intrepid AOR reissue companies like to rectify this oversight please? In the meantime vinyl copies are out there and well worth your attention.
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