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Melodic Rock Round-up: August 2011

Dave Ling on new releases from Airrace, Lionville, Rob Moratti, Arabia and Franke & The Knockouts

Airrace: Back To The Start

Having reconvened in 2009 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Shaft Of Light, the long-lost UK rockers have wasted little time in crafting this second album. Characterised by the same slightly pomp rock-infused material as SOL, Back To The Start is nevertheless marginally heavier than its predecessor, honing in on that special territory once occupied by prime-era Foreigner. The intervening quarter-century has been extremely kind to Keith Murrell, whose voice remains strong, vibrant and commanding, comparing favourably with the grand old master Lou Gramm during Two Of A Kind. Along with guitarist Laurie Mansworth, Murrell is also responsible for the multi-layered harmonies that help to steer the record’s undisputed crowning moment, Call Me Anytime, in the direction of Queen. Old boy Jason Bonham might have decided that he no longer wanted to remain in this particular ’Race, but on this evidence they seem to be doing just fine without him. (910)

Lionville: Lionville

Formed by Italian singer and guitarist Stefano Lionetti, Lionville are kings of the pure-AOR jungle. With an impressive cast that includes Work Of Art vocalist Lars Säfsund, Erik Martensson of Eclipse and guitarist Tommy Danander, Lionetti has concocted a sumptuous aural banquet that offers glorious flashbacks of Nelson, Bad English, Giant and Journey. (910)

Rob Moratti: Victory

Until recently, Rob Moratti had the unenviable job of replacing Michael Sadler in Saga. In creating his solo debut, the Canadian has selected a first-rate backing cast (Winger’s Reb Beach, Tony Franklin and Saga band-mate Brian Doerner) as the perfect complement his own outstanding vocals and some scintillatingly hook-enhanced tunes. (810)

Arabia: Welcome To The Freakshow

Nine years after a fondly remembered debut, frontman John Blaze returns with a revamped Arabia line-up that introduces ex-members of Ten. In keeping with its title, Welcome To The Freakshow is dark in atmospheric terms, with a strong, imaginative theatrical undercurrent and some pleasingly immediate material. It’s good to have them back. (610)

Franke & The Knockouts: Sweetheart: The Best Of, Anniversary Edition

The knockouts were fronted by Franke Previte, who later struck his own jackpot by composing the music for Dirty Dancing. This 19-song set cherrypicks the definitive moments of the group’s three cult favourite albums, also unveiling some previously unreleased recordings. (810)