|Bruce Turgon Outside Looking In||Frontiers Records|
In 1991 an album featuring Lou Gramm, Kevin Valentine, Vivian Campbell and Bruce Turgon was released. Shadow King would become a cult favourite – loved by many, but sadly ignored by the record label and under-promoted.|
Still years later the band become the subject of regular conversations on message boards and debate over the merits of the release would start anew.
The one-off release was originally slated to be the third Lou Gramm solo album, but the heavier sound of the project coupled with the band feel between the members led it to be released as a new band.
Bruce Turgon was a long time collaborator with Lou Gramm – so much so that he would follow Lou back into the Foreigner line up a couple of years later. I've long regretted that there wasn't a second album, but during the middle-to-late 90's, Bruce Turgon demoed a selection of tunes for himself.
It is now finally in 2005 that some of those songs finally see the light of day on Bruce's debut solo album. Outside Looking In features several of those original songs and several new ones, all recorded especially for this album.
The Shadow King project was possibly the toughest rocking affair Gramm had ever been involved in. It's not until now that one realizes just how much influence Turgon had over the band's sound.
To my great surprise, this album is essentially the long awaited sequel to the debut Shadow King album!
Bruce Turgon not only sings and sounds like Lou Gramm, but he also adds most of the bass, guitar and keyboard parts.
Helping Bruce out on this epic record is a powerful line up of Denny Carmassi on drums and Lou Gramm, Ricky Phillips, Tom Gimbel and Diana Mills on backing vocals, plus guitar solos by Rocket Ritchitte, Scott McKinstry and Ronnie Montrose!
Shadow King featured a complex set of songs which some still don't get today. Outside Looking In is much the same. This isn't melodic rock or AOR by numbers – it's intense, moody and powerful and takes several spins to get to know.
This is American melodic hard rock with a sound perfect for stadiums.
The album opens with the moody and attitude filled uptempo rocker Living A Lie. Turgon has a fine voice, which is a style similar to Lou Gramm, but grittier and raspier. The Shadow King comparisons are evident from the start, but this song and the album in general isn't as polished as the super-tight SK material was.
Any Other Time tempers the tempo a little, showcasing a moodier side of the album. But the chorus kicks things up a couple of notches and is one of the best on the album.
Outside Looking In has a very distinct Lou Gramm style vocal. Although memorable, I rate it as one of the weaker album tracks, which is proof of the overall quality of the album.
I love the moody intensity of the bombastic rocker Walk Thru Fire, which is followed perfectly by the slower, but equally emotional Faith.
Pleasure Dome and Weapons Of Love both just flat out rock, but it is These Tears Must Fall which really captures my attention. This is an amazing, powerful and emotional melodic rocker with a monster chorus. A definite contender for song of the year.
On A Wing And A Prayer has a similar vibe and this is one of the few times I have heard anyone come close to the brilliance of Lou Gramm as far as capturing raw emotion within a song.
Heart So Strong continues a mid-album emotional burst.
The Last Time turns back to rocking and makes a nice tempo change from the moodier tracks surrounding it.
Just as the Shadow King album closed with an emotional and moody rock track, so does Outside Looking In. Where Do We Go From Here is subtle, but effective and a perfect finish to a very enjoyable album.
I might add that it's nice to see the record label president listed as the album's executive producer. Hands on involvement at the highest level.
The sound is not as polished or as big budget as the debut Shadow King album. This is a pretty raw and honest affair, but still sounds great.
It is the strength of the songs and the intensity in which they are delivered, plus those great lead vocals and in your face guitars that makes this record great. That, plus the fact that just about every track has an instantly memorable hook.
So many albums are released and reviewed, yet this one stands out as something a little different and something a little special. 2005 has been a year for the lesser known names and the surprise releases. Add this to that list.
A mix of Shadow King, the style of Foreigner's Mr. Moonlight and classic moody melodic rock.
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