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6 Degrees Entertainment

Title - Strangeways: Complete Recordings Vol. 1 1985-1994
Artist - Strangeways

Formed in 1985 by brothers Ian J. Stewart (guitar) and David Stewart (bass), joined by Jim Drummond (drums) and singer Tony Liddell, Strangeways they released their critically-acclaimed self-titled debut album in 1985.

Produced by Kevin Elson (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Journey and Mr Big), they were championed by Kerrang! whose rave review reckoned that, “‘Breakin’ Down The Barriers’ has American Number One hit single written all over its baby face,” assuring us that, “This band still possess that unmistakably British flavour… I predict a big success.”

Further plaudits in Kerrang! stated that, “Strangeways are a British band playing British rock with the additional elements of American-style professionalism and attention to detail… They have made an album that sounds truly magnificent when it comes out of your speakers.”

And if that wasn’t enough, it confidently proclaimed that it was, “the greatest and most preciously perfect AOR album of all time”.

American Terry Brock replaced Tony Liddell as vocalist, joining Dave Munch Moore on keyboards for the John Punter-produced ‘Native Sons’ in 1987, arguably their greatest commercial success.

Described by Kerrang! as, “Absolutely stunning and without doubt the best AOR album of the last six years,” assuring the reader that it was, “a time bomb of an album… it will blow every mind and lughole that comes into contact with it.”

The same line-up released the third album ‘Walk In Fire’ in 1989. Featuring the single ‘Every Time You Cry’, the album was co-produced by guitarist Ian Stewart with John Lee and mixed by Mike Shipley (Whitesnake, The Cars, Def Leppard).

The story on this collection ends with fourth album, ‘And The Horse’, from 1994, by which time guitarist Ian Stewart had also taken on lead vocal duties.

With grunge being the order of the day (as far as the fickle rock press were concerned, at least), the album saw Strangeways moving away from their original AOR sound to one that was more bluesy, jazzy and almost progressive in nature, with hints of Pink Floyd, while still remaining resolutely melodic.

Key tracks include ‘Precious Time’ and ‘Out Of The Blue’ plus the near ten minute ‘Some Of Us Lie’.

Strangeways: Complete Recordings Vol. 1 (1985-1994) is a 4CD collection that contains First four albums from Glasgow’s Strangeways who took their musical cues from across the pond, making melodic AOR style-rock inspired by bands such as Loverboy, Foreigner, Night Ranger and Journey.

Covering their output from 1985 to 1994 with a host of bonus tracks, live and demos, it is the most complete collection that has ever been released on the band thus far.

CD 1: Strangeways (1985)
1. The Kid Needs Love
2. Hold Back Your Love
3. Close To The Edge
4. Heartbreak Zone
5. Cry Out
6. Power Play
7. Breakin’ Down The Barriers
8. Now It’s Gone
9. More Than Promises
10. Hold Tight
11. All The Wrong Reasons (Demo) [Bonus Track]
12. Hold On (Demo) [Bonus Track]
13. Close To The Edge (Demo) [Bonus Track]
14. Breakin’ Down The Barriers (Demo) [Bonus Track]
15. Streets On Fire (Demo) [Bonus Track]

As was known at the time, the Record Label they were signed to was more known for its disco leanings than anything to do with rock music and the album artwork had a new romantic/pop feel to it also, which meant, perhaps, those who purchased it thought that they were in for something a little different than what they rockingly got!

The band themselves originated from Scotland but they were up against many things, one of them being that UK rock / AOR fans did not think a good quality melodic rock band could come out of anywhere but the USA.

So the band were already under the cosh with how this was going to work for them, but as soon as the needle went down on that first track (so to speak), wow, you suddenly realized that this was a band that should have been absolutely huge!

I mean, and I am not even close to kidding here, every single track, one after the other is relatively chock full of stunning melodies, superb song structure and killer vocal and musicianship performances.

Most of the songs were written by the lead Guitarist Ian J. Stewart who is also a brilliant and tasteful guitarist and the whole album (along with the five bonus tracks now included here in this new collection) is absolutely stunning. Simply put, if you’re into classic AOR this comes highly recommended.

CD 2: Native Sons (1987)
1. Dance With Somebody
2. Only A Fool
3. So Far Away
4. Where Do We Go From Here
5. Goodnight LA
6. Empty Streets
7. Stand Up And Shout
8. Shake The Seven
9. Never Gonna Lose It
10. Face To Face
11. Stand Up And Shout / Breaking Down The Barriers (Live) [Bonus Track]
12. Dance With Somebody (Live) [Bonus Track]
13. Never Gonna Lose It (Live) [Bonus Track]
14. Only A Fool (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
15. Goodnight LA (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]
16. Dance With Somebody (AOR Mix) [Bonus Track]

As aforementioned, as AOR goes (and I listen to far too much of it, me thinks), you cannot do better than this band and, in particular, and from personal choice, this particular album.

Unlike contemporaries such as Bon Jovi and Journey, Strangeways never feel contrived or forced which allows this sophomore batch of songs to simply ooze class and atmosphere like Winston Churchill bled charisma. .. and that is not something I say lightly!

For people who want to enjoy the whole FM rock shtick without having to deal with most of the overt, cringe worthy cheesiness that pervades this sort of music, Strangeways should be everybody’s first (possibly even their last) stop for AOR; and this album alone, now complete with some wickedly brilliant live tracks, wholeheartedly proves that!

CD 3: Walk Into The Fire (1989)
1. Where Are They Now
2. Danger In Your Eyes
3. Love Lies Dying
4. Every Time You Cry
5. Talk To Me
6. Living In The Danger Zone
7. Modern World
8. Into The Night
9. Walk In The Fire
10. After The Hurt Is Gone
11. Jackie’s Gone (Demo) [Bonus Track]
12. Big Tom (Demo) [Bonus Track]
13. Liberty (Demo) [Bonus Track]
14. The Last Chance (Demo) [Bonus Track]
15. So Far Away (Live) [Bonus Track]
16. Where Do We Go From Here (Live) [Bonus Track]
17. Every Time You Cry (Single Edit) [Bonus Track]

Walk Into The Fire showcases a very proud collection of songs, pure in their AOR essence, and yet perhaps overly (at times) tinged with an overemphasized, anthemically melancholic vein, sure, but nonetheless their finished product here on their third album is epic, huge even, and the most perfect driving force accompaniment for a long motorway drive home.

Indeed, many of the core qualities of AOR - the glossy production, the soaring vocals, the ballads soaked in synth washes, the lighter-raising qualities of every single song - you know, these are basically all that keeps AOR afloat, and thus as appealing as they are, luckily for their fans, Strangeways never tried (at this point) to steer away.

CD 4: And The Horse (1994)
1. Precious Time
2. Mans Maker
3. Out Of The Blue
4. Through The Wire
5. The Great Awakening
6. Wonder How
7. Head On
8. Some Of Us Lie
9. Over You
10. On

Here on their 1994 album, and as noted in the intro, much like the AOR band FM, Strangeways also moved away from AOR to blues rock. And like FM they lost most of their popularity and anything that made them special, sadly.

Once again featuring ten tracks solely written by the brilliant lead guitarist Ian J. Stewart, the album is a veritable smorgasbord of rhythms and melodies, opening with the funk rock of Precious Time and the slow Southern crawl of Mans Maker, before heading into the languishing balladry of Out of The Blue and later tracks such as the gently countrified balladry of Wonder How, the wavering imminence of Some Of Us Lie, closing on the stillness within On.

Official 4CD Purchase Link

www.cherryred.co.uk

www.ravenlunatics.com





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