Sunday, November 5, 2017

KISS 'n' NEW ENGLAND: The almighty WARRIOR reviewed!

OK, here’s and odd one for you…

New England was a wonderfully melodic AOR band back in the late ‘70s. While they were lumped in with the Stadium Rock brigade, their songs seemed to possess a heavy Beatles/ELO influence.  Main songwriter and guitarist John Fannon certainly knew his way around a cracking tune.  Enter Kiss mainman Paul Stanley, who co-produced their self-titled 1979 debut album. With a hit single, “Don’t Ever Wanna Lose Ya,” and support by one of the biggest bands in the land (i.e.: Kiss), New England’s future looked bright.  Sadly, by 1982 and three albums filled with melodic rockers (one of which, WALKING WOUNDED, was produced by Todd Rundgren), Fannon quit New England as they prepared their fourth long-player. That, it seemed, was the end of the band.

The other three band members, keyboardist Jimmy Waldo, bassist Gary Shea and drummer Hirsh Gardner moved forward together and searched for a replacement for Fannon.  Kiss member Gene Simmons suggested a young guitarist by the name of Vinnie Cusano. Initially considered to fill Ace Frehley’s shoes in Kiss, Simmons suggested that the three former New Englanders work with Cusano. The trio flew out to L.A. and began working on new material with the guitarist. Recording under the name Warrior, the quartet began rehearsing and recording demos. Just as they began to feel comfortable as a unit, Kiss offered Vinnie the lead guitarist position in Kiss. Cusano then changed his name to Vinnie Vincent. And you know the rest of the story…

Thankfully, the band’s demos and rehearsal tapes are now available for all to hear on WARRIOR FEATURING: VINNIE VINCENT/JIMY WALDO/GARY SHEA/HIRSH GARDNER.  The songs are exactly what you’d expect from these talented musicians – melodic Hard Rock that leans towards the ‘80s version of Kiss rather than the ‘60s influences that inhabited New England’s music. “Boys Gonna Rock,” “I Need Love” and “It’s Not Pretty Being Easy” are fun rockers. “Gypsy In Her Eyes” is an excellent power ballad. “Back On The Street” falls somewhere between power and ballad and features a slightly soulful edge to the vocals. “Baby Oh Why”’s chorus recalls the melodic flair of New England. The rest of the tracks contained on this disc are rehearsals (some with Fergie Frederiksen on vocals!), instrumentals and more.

If you are a fan of Kiss, New England, Vinnie Vincent Invasion, Alcatrazz (Gary Shea and Jimmy Waldo’s post-New England/Warrior band) or Hirsh Gardner’s solo releases, then this is a no-brainer.  Get it now!

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