The Front – The Front (1989)

TheFront_14.5 out of 5 Stars!

In the late 80s/early 90s, several bands emerged that bore a striking resemblance (some say “ripped-off”) to classic bands from the mid 60s/early 70s. This phenomena of revolving musical genres occurs about every 15-20 years, usually under the banner known as “The New Wave of (Insert Genre Here),” so no one really should have been surprised. The Black Crowes wanted to be The Rolling Stones, The Quireboys did a damned good impression of Faces, and The Dogs D’Amour did a drunken marriage of both. By a similar token, The Front also appeared on the scene, taking up the musical torch left by The Doors.

When listening to this CD, the comparisons to Jim Morrison and crew are all too apparent. From the “outdated” sound of the organ to the sparse production and musical arrangements, and especially in the form of the front man Michael Anthony Franano—not only his voice, but his appearance (the mop of curly hair making him eerily resemble Jim Morrison himself)—one could almost assume that the band got their start by performing Doors cover tunes (perhaps as an actual tribute band) in barrooms.

Did they pull it off? For the most part, yes. This album is comprised of 10 tracks, all of them pretty “decent” and almost as catchy as The Doors’ better known songs (“Break On Through,” for example, or perhaps “Love Me Two Times,” etc.) But the key word here is “almost.” Then again, no band of “wannabes” could compare to The Doors in overall brilliance, or possess that extra spark that made them legendary, but the guys in The Front probably had a good time trying to find that magic and did their best impression nevertheless.

All comparisons aside, there is some good music included here. “Fire” (the video I saw on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball that inspired me to take a chance on this album) kicks things off nicely with its bouncy beat and driving guitars. “Sweet Addiction, “Ritual,” and “Violent World” are other high points. Actually, although I haven’t listened to this album for several weeks, the choruses of each of the ten songs instantly spring to mind just by glancing at the titles on the CD insert. If you can remember songs based on titles alone, that says a hell of a lot regarding the overall “catchiness” of the material included here.

The bottom line…if you’re looking for a Doors-type of band with some better-than-average songs, look no further. If you’re expecting a perfect clone of The Doors, however, one bearing the same special something to ensure that future generations will forever remember them, keep looking.

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