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Melodic Rock Round-up: November 2011

Dave Ling on new releases from Kimball-Jamison, Grand Illusion, Fergie Frederiksen, Infinity and Chris Ousey

Bobby Kimball-Jimi Jamison: Kimball-Jamison

Despite the excellence of recent work from Toby Hitchcock and Lionville among others, there’s a growing scepticism over so-called ‘project’ releases, many of which are conceived by record labels and then constructed by an elite core of musicians/writers – admittedly hugely talented ones. Though the former singers of Toto and Survivor have been friends for many years, Kimball and Jamison didn’t write any the material on this, nor did they play any of its instrumental parts. Indeed Jamison recently told Classic Rock Presents AOR that the album should be adjudged “a brave experiment”. More intriguingly, Kimball actually likened it to Frankenstein’s monster! But with a repertoire composed by Jim Peterik, Robert Säll (Work Of Art/W.E.T.), John Waite, Eric Mårtensson (W.E.T./Eclipse) and others, the gamble has certainly paid off, songs such as Chasing Euphoria and I Did Everything Wrong validating the album’s existence with nonchalant ease. Yet how many more of these projects can the men in the boardroom formulate? (810)

Grand Illusion: Prince Of Paupers

As implied by their Styx-inspired moniker, Grand Illusion like their melodic hard rock a little on the pompous side. Best exemplified by the soaring Gates Of Fire and a swoon-inducing title cut, the scintillating Prince Of Paupers is as immaculate and uplifting as the five mini-masterpieces that preceded it. These Swedes deserve to become much, much bigger. (810)

Fergie Frederiksen: Happiness Is The Road

Frederiksen believed that he was dying from an inoperable form of cancer during the making of this album. Fortunately, the much-travelled former Toto singer beat the condition and Happiness…, which includes a superb title song written by ex-Survivor Jim Peterik, far outstrips the poignant last-ditch final artistic statement that it might’ve been. (710)

Infinity: Infinity

Here’s an unexpected treat for fans of Mitch Malloy, Reb Beach and David Rosenthal – an unreleased album from the late 1980s. The dancing keys of Rosenthal, fresh out of Rainbow and with his Red Dawn days still ahead, are daubed all over songs such as On The Edge and Secrets, making this a highly competent and surprisingly worthwhile archival release. (710)

Chris Ousey: Rhyme And Reason

Heartland vocalist Chris Ousey has assembled quite a backing team for this rousing solo outing, with Tommy Denander playing guitar and co-writing the material and Mike Slamer (City Boy/Streets) supplying a panoramic production and mix. Thankfully, the former Virginia Wolf frontman’s pipes remain smoky and authoritative enough to articulate a slick and pulsating selection of tunes. (810)