Houston – Houston (2010)

Houston_14 out of 5 Stars!

The year 2010 saw the debut album from a superb AOR band called Houston. And guess from where Houston originated…come on, give a guess…

Now, if you answered Houston, Texas, you would be dead wrong! Actually, the band hails from Stockholm, Sweden. Go figure, huh?

Anyway, Houston (the album itself, not the band or the city) is rich in melodic tunes such as “Truth Slips,” “She’s A Mystery,” “1000 Songs,” “Give Me Back My Heart,” “Pride,” and “I’m Alive.” And each song (with no ballads anywhere in sight, by the way) is heavy in multi-layered vocal harmonies and keyboards, infused with AOR magic, and blessed with a singer who often sounds like the late/great Fergie Frederiksen (Toto/Trillion/Mecca) when he hits the high notes.

Therefore, fans of the AOR genre, especially those who fancy more material in the same realm as FM, Shy, Alliance, Urban Tale, Find Me, Bad Habit, and Survivor should investigate this band posthaste. Additionally, if you can grab the version of the album with the two catchy bonus tracks (“Under Your Skin” and “Chasing The Dream”), all the better.

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Cry Of Love – Brother (1993)

CryOfLove_Brother4.5 out of 5 Stars!

If you will, imagine Robin Trower’s classic Bridge Of Sighs album with a lead vocalist who’s a cross between Paul Rodgers (in bluesy raspiness) and Glenn Hughes (in Stevie Wonder-type funkiness) and you have Cry Of Love. Then again, picture Bad Company (any early albums) or Trapeze (circa the Medusa or You Are The Music… albums) with Robin Trower in the lead guitarist role, and once again you have Cry Of Love. Then again, the band’s Roots-Rock approach also brings to mind other similarly styled groups such as The Black Crowes, Humble Pie, and Free, with even a touch of Southern Rock in the vein of Ram Jam, Brother Cane, and the like.

As a random example of what I’m talking about, I dare anyone to listen to Cry Of Love’s “Bad Thing” and not make a comparison to Bad Company’s classic track “Can’t Get Enough,” especially when it comes to the chorus. Hmmm…wait a moment…”Bad Thing”/Bad Company? A bit eerie, but completely apt.

Anyway, Brother is fun album overall, and along with “Bad Thing,” it contains other exceptional Hard Rock tracks such as the rough ‘n’ tumble opener “Highway Jones,” as well as “Carnival,” “Too Cold in the Winter,” “Peace Pipe,” “Pretty As You Please,” “Drive It Home,” and the slow and bluesy “Saving Grace.”

I actually purchased this CD back when it came out, but as a fluke, a shot in the dark, based only on the fact that it “looked interesting enough” in my BMG Music Club catalogue. I needed to fulfill my purchase agreement with the club, you see, so I took a gamble, ordered the album, and crossed my fingers. Well, considering the type of music crammed onto the CD, I can say I won big!

So for those seeking some gritty and melodic Hard Rock with tasty guitar riffage from Audley Freed (who would end up joining The Black Crowes) and an exceptional vocalist named Kelly Holland (who sadly passed away several years ago), then look no further than Cry Of Love, one of the best bands “no one ever heard of.”

Kelly Holland…RIP.


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