The former front man of Grand Prix and the more commercially successful McAuley Schenker Group is one of rock?s more underrated vocalist. With the exception of this solo album and the occasional guest artist appearance, McAuley has essentially disappeared off the face of the earth. This is such a shame as the evidence here suggests that this album is not just business as usual but pure unadulterated classy straight-ahead rock and roll that makes the search for this nugget worth your while.
McAuley?s first big break came courtesy of his partnership with the temperamental Michael Schenker in the aptly named McAuley Schenker Group. This particular line up resulted in 3 studio records but the most impressive project was the live ?Unplugged? project that only saw a Japanese release back in 1992. To date, this particular album is still only available via import and along with ?Business As Usual? is difficult to find.
Unfortunately, McAuley?s availability also saw very limited accessibility when the band disbanded soon after. McAuley began to work with songwriter/musician David Vaccaro back in 1992 who recently released the very intimate and enjoyable ?V-Project?, which in my opinion was the surprise hit of 2001. The same year McAuley joined Elements Of Friction that also included Rickey Phillips and Tommy Aldridge. The songwriting contribution was a who?s who of rock and roll and the expectations were not met. McAuley?s contributions from a writing aspect were limited to two songs. Though enjoyable the label of ?super-group? resulted in a failure to live up to such anticipation.
Still this did not prevent me from searching for this highly overlooked solo effort here and recently I was fortunate enough to find it in my local neighborhood store. The lack of an apparent website for the artist to self promote in addition to the disc being released on a small independent Japanese label Jain Records does not assist him. Considering it was originally recorded about 5 years prior to it?s final release I am surprised that it ever saw the light of day.
So with the possibility of disappointment after such a long search, it was wonderful to be pleasantly surprised by this unadulterated no frills melodic rock effort. It also features the contributions of former Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan. From the opening riffs and slide guitar of the upbeat rock and roller ?One Way Ticket? to the closing reflective ballad ?Where Will You Go? there is very little to complain about here. And either format shows a very strong vocalist that fluctuates from shrills and thrills to bold and soulful.
There is some musical exploration such as the gospel influenced mid tempo ballad ?Time Will Dry Your Eyes?. This moving composition even features some choral work. There is also the funky ?In The Groove? that features some concealed yet gnarly saxophone work though the credits make no mention of whom. It does not hurt to have a grooving bass line that just thumps this song along.
?Every Little Thing? repeats some of the formula found on ?One Way Ticket? with some more mean slide guitar from Frankie Sullivan. Along with some solid fills from drummer Curt Cuomo, this song will certainly move your feet, as do most the tracks. The album is well balanced as it includes two mid tempo rockers and two ballads. This along with the well-used sequencing creates a great flow and strong mood setting.
With the exception of perhaps two fillers this a solid piece of work from McAuley with significant assistance from Sullivan. The production is firm and of top quality which I would imagine was largely due to Cuomo whose name has also been associated with Kiss and Eddie Money. Along with a recent official website popping up on the internet along with a few concert appearances with the great Glenn Hughes it could be that McAuleys time of laying low is coming to an end. Considering what I heard last year when I had the rare opportunity to hear McAuley live, the evidence is clear that the silver throated one is ready to return to business as usual. Now that is an exciting proposition.