Looking at the line-up of this highly interesting album by Portugese RUI ROCHA, it feels like we’ve traveled back to 1987 or such. Man! What a line-up, with guys like MICHAEL LANDAU, MICHAEL THOMPSON, TIM PIERCE, JIMMY HASLIP, DAVE WECKL, VINIE COLAIUTA, JEFF LORBER, JEFF PARIS, RICHARD BAKER, LENNY CASTRO and lead vocalist JEFF PESCETTO. Hard to beat!
As if this wasn’t enough the producer is none other than KEITH OLSEN! Add to this that this is soft AOR on the verge of being wetscoast rock, then many of you slick fans out there will be very interested, I’m sure.
I know, sometimes it is hard to tell whether this should be called “lite AOR”, “soft AOR” or “westcoast rock”. The overall feeling of this excellent album is AOR of the softest kind, but westcoast vibes shine through here and there. “The other side of Paradise” is a deadringer of JOURNEY, which is never wrong. “Fallin” and “Stop bringin’ me down” both bring vibes of THE EAGLES á la their more commercial semi-ballad side. Well, “Fallin” even makes me think of the long lost project L.A. COWBOYS! So, some westcoast there, absolutely! Same goes for “Another heartbreak” which is a goodie, soft and smooth. Nice harmony vocal arrangements!
More of the soft AOR style is heard in “Back in to my heart” with some nice solo guitar playing (by whom?).
Any downsides then? Well, almost everything is great about this album, and yet it did not make it for my Top 10 of 2017! How come? This is such a neatly performed album; impeckable playing and singing, a very good sound and production. The songs are good, however quite ordinary and a bit too predictable in the arrangements. Especially the westcoast tinged songs would have needed cooler and sharper arrangements, since these awesome players would need a tougher challenge. Of course they do this better that anyone else would, but there are no “fantastic” efforts if you know how I mean. There are exceptions, sure, like some of the guitar solos. Still, westcoast fans expect more arrangement wise, I know that.
Also, there are only nine songs here. A bit short for a full length album of 2017, wouldn’t you say? Maybe I’m too picky here. This is absolutely an album that all collectors of westcoast and AOR needs to have in the collection. An extra plus since it is even released on vinyl. This album almost made it for my “Top 10 Albums of 2017”, so there you have it.