It’s daft really – no, make that incredible – that given the sort of music I grew up with (Bon Jovi, Cinderella, Thunder and myriad more) that Airrace never really touched my consciousness.
I probably got one or two of their songs on a Kerrang flexi-disc or something in the mid-80s, but the sum total I knew of them was that Jason Bonham started his career behind their kit and that Laurie Mansworth, who wrote the first Hurricane Party EP which I loved (they became Heaven’s Basement) and who guides the career of The Treatment (his son Dhani is their drummer and also thumps the tubs here) was their main man.
That being the case, to be totally truthful, I wasn’t expecting to review this album – the bands second after a 25-year hiatus and their first for six years. Then I heard it – and goodness me, if, as I’ve said before on this site, I truly believe that FM are the kings of grown up rock music, then I’ll give you their deputies.
Right from the second “Running Out Of Time” kicks things off in a most grandiose way (albeit nothing here is too long), with its piano appearing to be the start of a musical, before some piercing lead kicks in, there’s no doubt that this is special – and it will sound fantastic live.
Even better, as the keyboards parp and Adam Payne’s vocals soar (and special mention for Payne here as he does a brilliant job throughout) it is clear that this is everything you could possibly want from an AOR record.
The chug of “Innocent” and the keyboard work of Linda Kelsey Foster, are proud to belong to a different era and there is a uniquely British feel to this too, a US band might have got all smaltzy, not here. I mean, yeah it might have heard a Journey record or two, but it is ace in a way Journey aren’t. Ever (other controversial opinions are available).
I am probably on safer ground in comparing the wonderful “Eyes Like Ice” to Magnum. You can almost imagine Bob Catley singing this and if that’s the first clue that on this record Airrace might have other roads to walk, then it’s not the last.
“Different But The Same” is a real highlight, and has the air of Led Zep about it’s big old bluesy groove, and if the organs have a sprinkling of Deep Purple, then on “New Skin” they make it a full on Purps deluge.
Further proof that you’d be a fool if you thought you’d got this album pegged comes in “Lost” where – if we may paraphrase Gene Simmons without him charging me for it – “you wanted a big ballad? What you get is ELO”. Likewise, “Love Is Love” based on the title alone, was expected to be heartstrings tugged at dawn, what it actually is brings a crunchy, Supertramp tinged affair.
“Men From The Boys” has a groove so dirty, they’ll probably have a cream at the STI clinic for it – Dame David Coverdale is going try and steal it to be used on the next Whitesnake record and “Summer Rain” which I hoped was a Belinda Carlisle cover at least has the decency to be unashamed 80’s pop so that’s cool at least.
Speaking of things that take me back to the late 80s (although I never enjoyed their videos as much as I did Belinda’s as 14 year old) “Come With Us” is like a mash up of Thunder and Little Angels (and the opening riff sounds, shall we say, a bit like “She’s So Fine”), and the closing song “Here It Comes” is nothing more and nothing less than the sound of classic rock perfected.
So it’s the sound of the 1980s, but it is so much more. Brilliantly conceived, superbly played and as classy as you like, these are stories that needed to be told. No question about it.