Reward the clock some years ago. I came across this CD by this very unknown, Danish band in Brazil called Push. The album artwork wasn’t anything great, but the band pictures were way cool. I remember asking the record store guy how this band sounded and he just told me that “they sounded lame as the other bands I was used to listening to”, jokingly. Well, as I knew he meant it, I was really up to buying that CD, since he knew well what kind of music I was (and still am) into. Well, “Shaken, Not Stirred”, Push’s second album, still feels like a classic album till this day. Its opening lines might sound silly to most people, but “Operator, please clear the line...”, off “Never Again”, was unforgettable. Push became one of those underground bands whose albums I came to search desperately then. I spent quite a small fortune on their first CD and then was always there for what they were to do next. The sad news that the band called its quits after a while wasn’t any beautiful to me; but singer, songwriter Martie Peters came around with his MPG (Martie Peters Group), which was kind of a continuation of what Push did, but without the Glam Rock appeal. It was certainly not what I was expecting at the time, but I can’t deny MPG released a couple of great melodic rock albums, the last one being out in 2007. That was frustrating that such a great act had simply vanished, only having appeared on a couple of albums (as far as I know of...) ... but now, twelve years later, Martie Peters is back with a new release by MPG – Martie Peters Group, called “Unfinished Business”. Produced by the man himself and released by the Australian label Melodic Rock Records, it’s great to hear new music by the guy who wrote Glam Rock anthems like “Never Again”, “Almost Pornographic”, “Rock N’ Roll Livin’”, “Here’s To The Magic”, “Waiting In Line”, “On The Run” and many others. Although Martie does not continue playing the old Push-style, it’s undeniable that the man knows how to rock. “Unfinished Business” is certainly a great comeback, with a batch of great musicians under Martie’s wings (including keyboard master Eric Ragno and bassistBent "BJ" Joergensen, who had also been on the previous MPG albums). Worldwide famous Neil Kernon, the guy who worked with lots and lots of great bands in the past, is the one who mixed “Unfinished Business”... Well, one can’t expect it to be bad after all, right? Martie Peters is back again with a more mature sound but yet rocking the house. It was worth waiting all these years to listen to the new music by MPG again, that’s a sure thing.
01 - When The Circus Hits The City
02 - She's Got A Secret
03 - Win Or Lose
04 - No Win Situation
05 - The Devil's Bargain
06 - Chasing Shadows
07 - Don't Kill The Messenger
08 - Walk Tall
09 - My Dreams Die Hard
10 - Rat Race
Musicians: Martie Peters, Konstantin Raidovski, Bent “BJ” Joergensen, Eric Ragno, Felix Enge and Dennis Post.
UNFINISHED BUSINESS – TRACK BY TRACK
01 – WHEN THE CIRCUS HITS THE CITY
The opening track off “Unfinished Business”, “When The Circus Hits The City” is certainly a great one. The great guitar riff added to a heavy and tight batch of musicians, which fall into the very melodic verse is a nice surprise to Martie Peters fans. Sounding more “European” than early Push (just like the other two MPG albums), it’s a great rocker, with very nice lyrics to match the already known great Martie Peters melodic vocals and harmonies. There’s this heavy, yet melodic verse, which has some unexpected breaks. The song’s chorus is what his fans would expect from him – all the way catchy and sing-along. The biggest surprise is, without any doubt, the great melodies which follow the chorus. Martie got it damn right. The song has a twist of “modern rock” here and there, but I would certainly be the last one to say it’s something bad here. That’s a great piece of Martie Peters’s work – I dare to say that it’s maybe one of the best songs the man has written till this day. There’s also some serious, kick ass guitar work by Konstantin Raidovski, that is to be applauded, not to mention the great band again, also including keyboardist Eric Ragno. That’s a powerful song to start a comeback album with for sure. “When The Circus Hits The City” will not only please Martie’s old fans but, if well promoted, that can be a certain hit. So far, one of the best songs of the year.
02 – “SHE’S GOT A SECRET”
“She's Got A Secret” starts more like an old-style Martie Peters piece, less heavy than the album’s opening track, with a really interesting guitar riff. The verse is very melodic, with Martie and the musicians rocking it hard again. The lyrics are, once again, nice – nothing new, but they do fit the song. There’s a nice atmosphere allover it, especially on the chorus, which is another sing-along one. Once again, guitarist Konstantin Raidovski and keyboardist Eric Ragno desserve lots of credit due to their amazing work. Bassist Bent “BJ” Joergensen and drummer Felix Engel also do a lot so that “She's Got A Secret” is considered another top moment here. If it were not only for the song being released now in 2019, and not for the big hair era being a part of Martie Peters’s legacy, I guess that people wouldn’t really remember what he did previously with Push. That’s a great song that illustrates “the now”, not the past. And to be deadly honest, there haven’t been so many new great albums or bands... So, what basically happens not to this guy who’s writing this review basically applies to most fans of the style – we stick to the great artists from the past. But not if their “now” is not worth it. Martie Peters can be very proud of his “then” and also of his “now”. By this second tune, one can assume the album’s title was misprinted or something – it would have fit it much better “Meant Business” instead of “Unfinished Business”. That’s a great compliment.
03 – “WIN OR LOSE”
The next song is, without any doubt, another top moment of the new “Unfinished Business” album. Maybe one of the most American-sounding tracks here, “Win Or Lose” has got that poppier feel that lots of 80’s songs did. A very interesting tune with the same old style of lyrics (I never said it meant something bad... at all), plus the great chorus. WOW, and what a huge one! That’s hard to believe it’s a new song. OK, there’s this modern rock feel here and there again but, come on, with one says anything that’s not good about “Win Or Lose”, he must be nuts. That’s not only a perfect song, but also another one of Martie Peters’s best songs ever. There’s even one of those old style bridge parts that will surely please everyone. Martie’s performance here is just perfect, and so is the band’s. Well, I said before Martie Peters Group “meant business” this time. There’s this incredibly good guitar solo, just like in the old days. The band? Well, they just continue doing what has been done on the previous songs: a great musicianship show all over it. I guess there’s nothing much left to say about this brand new classic song, other than saying that “Win Or Lose” is another one of the best songs of 2019 so far. It would be great to see a promo video for this one for sure. Even without MTV or others, that would help the song be a great hit. Enough Said??? Maybe not...
04 – “NO WIN SITUATION”
The next track, "No Win Situation", is another surprise. Once again, with twists of modern rock, it's a mix of what Martie Peters had done before with the new sounds used on the "Unfinished Business" album. A powerful and heavy guitar intro bursts into the melodic verse, whose lyrics are, again, really good. There's this really unusual pre-chorus that, in a way, gives the song a weird feel, until it finally gets to the same old Martie Peters-type of great chorus. The man's vocals are really good, since lots of vocal layers are here, there and everywhere. "No Win Situation" isn't as good as the previous tunes, but it shows some more untouchable musicianship by everyone on it. Is that a bad song? Not really. But after three killer tracks it just doesn't seem to keep up with them. Those who are OK with the more modern rock sound will surely love it. But, then again, Martie has proved his songwriting potential with "When The Circus Hits The City" and "Win Or Lose" on this album. Let's say that Martie Peters deserves credit here for his versatility as a songwriter and performer. "Unfinished Business" is, up to this point, really unfinished. Six more songs to come. Bet there's more top-notch stuff on the way.
05 – “THE DEVIL'S BARGAIN”
Another one of those songs which have that modern rock twist, with a great keyboard solo on the intro. "The Devil's Bargain" is a good song, with lots of variations, going from melodic rock to the already great known Martie Peters-style verse, with nice lyrics, as usual, to a heavier songwriting style. The band is, again, very tight, and the vocals are impecable. But, for some reason, "The Devil's Bargain" doesn't really keep up with the best tunes on "Unfinished Business"... maybe for someone like me, who is used to that same old formula of verse / pre-chorus / chorus... Not a bad song either, but simply too adventurous. The instrumental parts are nearly progressive rock and, if one enjoys that kind of music, he'll definetely dig it. Eventually, "The Devil's Bargain" seems a huge mix of different styles on one single track. It's interesting enough to prove wrong those who think once Glam Rock artists are limited songwriters. Martie Peters is a living example of talent, showing how versatile of a songwriter he can be - either one likes some of the new music or not. In my humble opinion, that would have made a better song only if there had been fewer variations... but that's the opinion of someone who is maybe still stuck in the '80s / early '90s... What I am trying to say here is that Martie Peters is a very talented songwriter, even when he is delivering a song that his old-school fans are not really expecting.
06 – “CHASING SHADOWS”
"Chasing Shadows" is another song that flirts with modern rock, but that's really great. There's this memorable intro to what's gonna turn into a pretty heavy and melodic tune. The way the bass and the drums were played (and mixed) really give it a special ambience, which is somehow outlined by the great keyboard work here. I personally like its lyrics and chorus, once again presenting Martie Peters's outstanding vocal melodies, other than his unique lead vocals, of course. Not really similar to any other song on the "Unfinished Business" album, it does stand out. There's a really, really good guitar solo on it. Well, if one considers Martie Peters's Push days are long gone, it's undeniable that he's got another winner with "Chasing Shadows". That would be a great song to be heard live in the future for sure. That's the right combination of what MPG did years ago with "the modern". One of the top moments of the album.
07 – “DON'T KILL THE MESSENGER”
I liked the title "Don't Kill The Messenger" at the time I saw it!!! Along with some really interesting lyrics, the tune is more of one would expect from Martie Peters, although it also has that modern rock thing I've been talking about. That's a heavy, melodic rocker which is certainly one more of the best tracks off "Unfinished Business". The whole band here is magnificent and Martie's performance is, again, to be complimented on. The whole song flows nicely - I really love its chorus and bridge part before the guitar solo (which is short, but fits the song just right, this time by guitarist Dennis Post). Something that must be said over and over again is that the vocal melodies and harmonies, not only on "Don't Kill The Messenger" but also throughout the album, are unusually great. Such a great tune does deserve to be out as a single, and it would certainly sound great live. "Don't Kill The Messenger" is, of course, a memorable song and one more of Martie Peters's best songs ever.
08 – “WALK TALL”
"Walk Tall" is a really, really good acoustic guitar / piano- driven ballad. Well, this one does take us back to what Martie did during his Push days - a great, simple track that is to please his old fans and lots of new fans as well. The lyrics here are above the style avarage and they sound beautiful along with the music here. Not a fancy song - that's what MPG fans may have been waiting for. The whole band kicks in in the middle of the tune, and there's this amazing, simple guitar solo that is surely one of the best on the whole album. "Walk Tall" is a song which any songwriter would be proud of. Martie got it right again. Again, not much more to talk about such a great track. Hats off to MPG for having it on the brand new "Unfinished Business" album. Fans should be thankful for such a masterpiece.
09 – “MY DREAMS DIE HARD”
Another great title for a song, for sure! And "My Dreams Die Hard" is a typical melodic rock one (OK, with some modern rock twists here and there)... Another song that would do great live, thanks to its Rock & Roll feel, nice lyrics and catchy, sing-along chorus (whose last part sounds quite unusual, but damn cool!). I love the guitar solo (and its background music, which differs from the rest of the track) and the way the vocals are performed - needless to say that they're great again, with lots and lots of recorded vocal layers. "My Dreams Die Hard" is another highlight on the "Unfinished Business" album. A killer track that will, without any doubt, please whoever who's lucky enough to listen to this album.
10 – “RAT RACE”
The closing track off the "Unfinished Business" album is another one that's got that modern rock twist I've talking about. It's a good one, the lyrics are exactly what one would expect from Martie Peters and the band is on fire (there's such a great guitar solo by Konstantin Raidovski on it, and also some more great keyboard work by Eric Ragno, by the way). But, honestly, I prefer the stuff that takes us back to a time that Rock And Roll was simpler... "Rat Race" is a nice song, but doesn't compare to the best songs on the album. Again, Martie deserves lots of credit for being such a great songwriter and also for recruiting this amazing team of musicians that are on the album. MPG may not remind us of the great Push days but, without any doubt, they do deliver a much better outcome than other bands who have gone "modern", as Bon Jovi, for instance. In closure, Martie Peters returns with a great comeback album, which feature, so far, some of the best songs of the year. As I always tell the Melodic Net Crew, I am not one to review either an album or a band that I would grade low (OK, very few exceptions...). Martie Peters is back after all and we all can expect some more great albums from him and MPG to come. Great to see he's back, loud and hungry, to continue his great musical legacy.