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Roadmaster - 'Sweet Music' http://ns2.rocktopiarecords.com/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/ab/e6/fb/2520_RoadmasterSweetMusic_1343668707.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     July 30, 2012    
 
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Remastered version of Roadmaster's classic album.

After a rather eclectic and quirky debut album back in 1977, Indianapolis-based rockers Roadmaster enlisted the services of vocalist Stephen 'Mac' McNally to replace Adam Smasher and started to drop their pop and Motown influences in favour of full-blown US pomp. With bands like Styx and Kansas riding high in the US charts it was a sensible move, their new direction giving a wider platform for the highly melodic playing of guitarist Rick Benick and synth wizard Michael Read, as well as the Chris Squire-influenced bass runs of Toby Myers and Bobby Johns' bombastic drums.

'Sweet Music' has long been hailed as a pomp classic, but even as a big fan of the band since this album came out in 1978, I've never been totally sold on it as a whole. The first six songs (side one of the original LP) are a bit hit and miss, still containing far too much of their earlier direction on the poppy 'I Must Be Dreaming' and 'I'll Be Loving You', whilst the cloyingly sentimental 'Swan Song' is far too MOR for comfort. Really it was only the catchy opener 'It Doesn't Mean A Thing' and the straight-ahead 'Ya Move Me' that gave any indication of the four pomp classics that would come on side two.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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Things switch to upbeat, catchy AOR with the irresistible instrumentation and soaring chorus of 'You Come See Me', and 'Circle Of Love' builds from a gentle beginning to a guitar-based anthem, but it's the lengthy duo of 'Higher, Higher' and 'Sweet Music' itself that see the band find their niche with clever arrangements and sweet melodies. 'Higher, Higher' has all the hallmarks of classic pomp, with gutsy guitar riffs and fluid solos, towering synths and big vocal harmonies, with nice touches moving in and out of Greg Riker's huge production and mix like an album's worth of great ideas rolled into one song. If that isn't enough then the title track is even better, Michael Read going completely over the top with a lengthy synth solo atop a great riff and superb stop-start rhythms. Through it all the smooth vocals of Stephen McNally give the band a new-found identity, side two in particular is one of those experiences where it's hard to take in everything that's going on until you've listened to it many, many times.

 As usual the remastering by Jon Astley is clear, loud and powerful and Dave Reynolds informative sleeve notes fill in most the blanks. Even though Dave reckons that there's not much between 'Sweet Music' and the 1979 follow-up 'Hey World', I'm of the opinion that despite the brilliance of the second half and the fact that it contains their best two songs, my vote for their best album still goes to...... click here.

Phil Ashcroft

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