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Melodic Rock Round-up: July 2012

Album Review

Dave Ling on new releases from Paul Sabu, Gotthard, Hardline, David A Saylor and Craaft

Paul Sabu: Bangkok Rules

By the time you read this, should everything go to plan, Paul Sabu will have debuted live on UK soil at Z Rock, the flagship event of his new label, Z Records. Fathered by Sabu, the actor that voiced Mowgli in The Jungle Book, singer, songwriter and guitarist Paul seemed destined for stardom during the 1980s, a hypothesis that his own work with Kidd Glove, Only Child and the band Sabu threatened to validate. Instead, Sabu had to settle for becoming a regular on those lists of the ‘100 greatest AOR albums’, yet via the production of other acts, his name is now linked with Bowie, Alice Cooper, Madonna and John Waite, among others. Full of strong choruses and splattered with searing guitar runs, Bangkok Rules delivers Sabu’s tried ’n’ trusted trademarks. With a love-it-or-hate-it raw-throated vocal style, there’s a whiff of vintage David Lee Roth to Rock Don’t Run, Live Or Die Tryin’ and Rocked & Loaded. While the ballad Read My Eyes disappoints, the hardier Black Star, Code Blue and Back The Jacks conclude this hugely enjoyable album with a flourish. (8/10)

Gotthard: Firebirth

Expectation weighs heavy as the increasingly popular Swiss band return with a new singer following the tragic accidental death of Steve Lee in 2010. Lee’s replacement Nic Maeder certainly has a decent enough voice, but with the exception of a handful of standout tracks (Remember It’s Me, The Story’s Over and the single Starlight) song-wise there’s a worrying lack of depth. (6/10)

Hardline: Danger Zone

Although Neal Schon only played on their 1992 debut album, Hardline will still forever be known as the band co-founded by the Journey guitarist after the demise of Bad English. Now onto their fourth studio album, Hardline are guided by Johnny Gioelli, whose performance here marks him out as being among the finest melodic hard rock singers on the planet. (7/10)

David A Saylor: City Of Angels

Despite having been born in the States, David A Saylor is probably best known as the vocalist of well-regarded minnows Push (UK), whose demos were finally unearthed by AOR Blvd last year. Characterised by velvety, sugar-coated, pure-melodic rock gems, including a delicious remake of Breathe’s Hands To Heaven, City Of Angels is a wonderful album from an underrated talent. (8/10)

Craaft: Second Honeymoon

No sooner does Klaus Luley make a welcome return from the wilderness than Yesterrock offer a timely reminder of the singer’s antics with Craaft. Originally released in 1988, the German band’s second album contains fiendishly memorable, Bonfire-esque ditties such as Run Away and Running On Love. This re-mastered edition also adds three bonus demo recordings. (7/10)

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