Frontiers Records FRCD 0025
Produced by: Hugo

Released: February 7 / Website
Closest Relative: Steve Perry, Journey

  1. Can't Stop Loving You
  2. Tell It To My Heart
  3. Last One More Time
  4. Anyone In Love
  5. F.I.N.E
  6. Blues For You
  7. This Love Song
  8. I Will Be Waiting
  9. Our Love Will Be There
  10. Magic Power
  11. Time On Earth

Hugo was the front man for two much talked about bands. The more hard rock Valentine and then the softer Open Skyz.
But none of them matched the impact that Hugo's self titled debut album made. That album was released in 1997 to amazing critical and fan reaction. It was musically backed by Gary Hughes, Vinny Burns and the rest of the Ten gang, with Hugo also helping out. It was and still is touted as the album Journey should have recorded, when in that same year, they released Trial By Fire.
It's now Jan 2000 and thing shave changed a little.
This new Hugo album, released after long delay, with mixing and production delays, not to mention some personal tragedies for Hugo to deal with, is finally here.
This album was recorded by Hugo in New York, rather than with the Ten guys in the UK. As things turn out, they did contribute to the album at a later date.
But the crux of the album was Hugo's own doing, making it a different sound and a different approach.
This is a much more personal album than the debut, a more heartfelt and stripped back recording. Like Hugo's debut was compared to a record Journey should have released, this album could be compared to a Steve Perry solo album, or more to the point, an album he could have released in place of For The Love Of Strange Medicine.
Time On Earth is not as good as the debut. Having said that, the album is a monster anyway and is almost perfect AOR. amongst many of the other records releases recently and through the coming year, I still have no doubt that it will rank highly with most.
But it does lack a little in the production department.
The more uptempo fantastic AOR tunes lack the balls that the debut had. Dare I say, where is Vinny Burns and Gary Hughes? Can't say that it is too often when I ask for them to be on MORE records than they are! But it might have helped.
Minor point. Let me describe the songs to you.
Can't Stop Loving You & Tell It To My Heart are pure blissful uptempo rocking AOR.
If you had heard the demo's of these I place in the site several months back, you will be happy to know they are a vast improvement. But it is here mainly where you can tell there isn't quite the power of the debut.
Track 3 is our first ballad. This is exactly where the Steve Perry solo comparisons begin. Let me know what you think. Last One More Time is a killer mood ballad, simplistic in its approach and arrangement. This remind me a lot of the track left off For The Love Of Strange medicine called One More Time. Great piano ballad.
Anyone In Love continues the ballad theme, but this one is more a traditional slow keyboard/guitar westcoast style ballad. The song contains some of the smoothest and best Hugo vocals I have heard and some fine harmonies. Again it is in a Perry solo vibe.
F.I.N.E is more like the debut album. Big bombastic AOR with plenty of guitar and keyboards. A fine and catchy chorus with more great harmonies.
Blues For You is precisely that. Another slow piano ballad, this builds to be a quite big ballad, with lots of moody soulful vocals and some slow guitar solo's and a Hammond organ thrown into the mix.
This Love Song is the killer track of the album. There may be better songs this year, but they won't match this for a pure AOR anthem, there will be none smoother!
The songs starts as a soft ballad like track, but blasts into a chorus that will have AOR anoraks having hot flushes. Huge anthem!! Sounds a little like the unreleased John Waite track Pretty Lies, but as that song is not in wide circulation, I will give Hugo the benefit of the doubt!
I Will Be Waiting is one already widely previewed. Much like the opening two tracks, big AOR like the debut, but could be stronger production wise. Still a great track though.
Our Love Will Be There is back in ballad mode. Like track three, this is sparse and features only a vocal with an acoustic guitar and some guitar and almost new age instrumental backing. A great moody track, but maybe not what everyone is looking for.
Magic Power beefs things up again, this is a cover of the classic Triumph hit and a nice reworking of the track. It stays faithful to the original and Hugo does a fine Rik Emmett.
Time On Earth finishes off the new album, but once again it's a moody new age influenced AOR track that builds in power as the song goes on.
A pretty good track and smooth production, pure AOR fans will love this.
BOTTOM LINE: This is more a solo album and a more personal affair than the debut. While I don't think it is as good or as strong as that album, this will still undoubtedly go down as a firm favourite of 2000 and a favorite of AOR lovers everywhere.
A welcome addition to my collection and a good album, but not quite a classic.
ESSENTIAL FOR: All Hugo lovers, Steve Perry solo and Journey fans. Classic/pure AOR fans.
DISCOGRAPHY:Valentine . Open Skyz . Hugo . Time On Earth