Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Shaw/Blades - INFLUENCE cd review

VH1 Classic Records - U.S. release date March 6, 2007

No Cover Art available yet

After alot of years of talking about about doing another cd together, Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and Tommy Shaw (Styx, Damn Yankees) finally rolled up their shirt sleeves and got it done - 12 years after the release of their debut cd HALLUCINATION back in 1996. That's a long wait. But, a wait that's worth it I believe it. The end result is their sophmore release INFLUENCE and the release is exactly what the title says - 11 songs that had an impact on Blades and Shaw in their formative years.

After the first minute of the first track "Summer Breeze", you get somewhat a sense of relief that this isn't just another covers release thrown out there to make a buck. Compared to the original version, "Summer Breeze" has a more distinct guitar to it and there are some hints here and there of some Damn Yankees harmonies. "Your Move" features really nice vocals that stay true to the orignal higher pitched vocals done by Yes. If you don't know this song, one listen and it will refreshen your memory. Some of these songs have gotten lost in the shuffle through the years, alot of these songs will immediately refreshen your memory. There are a couple of songs on here that really shine above the others. One of them is Simon and Garfunkel's "I Am a Rock". Gone is the artsy folk version of the song. While staying true to the original song structure, Shaw/Blades injected a dose of kick ass rock to bring this song back to life. "I Am a Rock" is possibly the best song on the release. Some of the songs I questioned appearing on here because I just plain couldn't stand the original versions. Call me crazy. The original versions of The Mamas and the Papas' "California Dreamin" and Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence"were like the sound of hearing nails on a chalkboard. I just couldn't stand the original versions. Whenever, I hear these songs I always get this mental visual of a bunch of people sitting around a campfire singing "Kumbaya" - nothing against anyone who is into that. It's just not my cup of tea. One of the reasons why I can't or couldn't stand the original versions is because the vocals of the originals just ruined it for me. Shaw/Blades have really stamped their own vocals on these two songs to make these songs somewhat listenable for me. Some of the other highlights on INFLUENCE are "For What it's Worth"(You know it..."Stop. What's that sound? Everybody look what's going down. etc.) and a jumping version of "On a Carousel". All of these songs on INFLUENCE were originally hits, so it's really hard to say that one track stands out above the rest. The vocals of Shaw/Blades have injected life into all of the the songs and the current sound of today makes the songs stand apart from the original versions.

INFLUENCE is a good listen from beginning to end. I think this release is really going to hit that nerve of the generation of people who grew up in the late 60's/70's/early 80's. All of these songs received some heavy airplay back then and these songs are going to take you back in time with memories from that era. With so much music out there now, it's easy to overlook alot of the classics. Kudos to Shaw/Blades for bringing some of these songs back to the public eye. They stamped thier own sound on it and I think that's the key ingredient to making INFLUENCE a success. It makes some of these songs listenable and nothing sounds outdated because they did the covers in their own style using the current sound of today. The only complaint I see coming down the highway on this one is the fact that some might argue that they had more than enough time to complete a new studio release of original material. After all, these guys are prolific songwriters in their own right. To debate a covers release vs. an original release is pointless. I think INFLUENCE is worth checking out - especially f you fall into that age demographic above. You will be going "I remember that song!" INFLUENCE is a nice stop gap until that next studio release. I don't think It's going to be a huge hit, but Shaw/Blades aren't looking for a hit. INFLUENCE was a labor of love, so sit back, check it out and enjoy for what it's worth.

For more information log onto www.shawblades.com The website isn't up and running yet. But, keep your eye on it.
Shaw/Blades INFLUENCE Track Listing
1. Summer Breaze
2. Time of the Season
3. Your Move
4. I Am a Rock
5. Lucky Man
6. Sounds of Silence
7. California Dreamin'
8. On a Carousel
9. Dirty Work
10. For What It's Worth
11. Dance With Me

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cool, I may have to pick this up when it comes out.

I loved Tommy and Jack in Damn Yankess.