Fireworks

Houston - 'Relaunch' http://ns2.rocktopiarecords.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/f3/ab/a9/1820_houstonrelaunch_1325184857.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 29, 2011    
 
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A rather splendid release.

Described in the publicity material as a "mini-album", this release still extends beyond the 40-minute mark and thus is fair value for money (are you reading this Steve Miller Band?!!) Additionally it turns out to be a rather splendid stop-gap release between the debut album in 2010 and the new album in 2012, and comprises covers of six wisely chosen AOR classics (or near classics), plus a new composition by their producer and melodic rock connoisseur Ricky Delin. Finally there are two acoustic versions of songs from the extensively fawned-over debut.

This really is an exceedingly good listen, and repeated hearings have not reduced the impact of the material here, as can so often be the case with less than top-drawer AOR, unfortunately. For me, the pick of the covers are 'Runaway' (originally recorded by Dakota) and 'Don't You Know What Love Is' (originally recorded by Touch and which includes Mark Mangold who was the keyboard player in the band, on guest vocals). Also rather good are the Airrace number 'Brief Encounter' (and including the band's Laurie Mansworth as guest on guitar) and the New England classic 'Don't Ever Wanna Lose Ya' -- possibly the most MHR track here, but with amazing harmonies in the chorus.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Indeed, Hank Erix's vocals and Freddie Allen's harmonies are once again really tremendous throughout, and the sumptuous keyboards that permeate, embellish and carry every song, along with some jaw dropping guitar solos show 'Relaunch' as far from being a throwaway release. The covers of Michael Bolton's 'Carrie' and Laura Brannigan's 'Didn't We Almost Win It All' to my ears are the least successful of the bunch, and show a dimension to Houston that is rather different, but do indicate that Hank Erix can have a future career as a cabaret singer, if that is a path eventually chosen by him!

The one new song ('Without Your Love') features a duet with Elize Ryd of Amaranthe and is really rather special, and has a sort of Foreigner vibe underlying it. The two acoustic numbers (vocals plus piano accompaniment) are the magnificent 'Truth Slips' (again a duet with female vocals, and featuring Helena Alsterhed as on the original) and '1000 Songs'.

Anyone who purchased the band's debut will surely wish to have the "sorbet" of 'Relaunch' to keep it company until the main course arrives...it's rather good!

Paul Jerome Smith

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