a l b u m r e v i e w s

World Stage Int'l Records
Produced by: Peterik with Larry Millas

Released: OUT NOW / Website
GENRE: Pop / Rock

  1. Fade To Blue
  2. Can't Say It Loud Enough
  3. To Miss Somebody
  4. Diamonds For Stones
  5. Vehicle
  6. Zig Zag
  7. Changed By Love
  8. We Wish
  9. Working Blue
  10. Antenna
  11. Eye Of The Tiger
  12. Between Two Fires
  13. Till It Shines
  14. Long Road Home
  15. From Here To Hereafter

This is a classic pop rock album from one of the genre's best ever songwriters.
I don't think there is any surprise to see that I love this after talking about it for the past 12 months.
I am reviewing this from a rare perspective, one that I ask you to take into account. I have had most of these songs in some form or other for the past 9 months, so I am reviewing this new release with the intimate knowledge of the songs - something that generally only comes to a reviewer when covering a re-release or classic album.
This is a classic album and once you have all had this as long as I have, I think it will too become a classic to many AOR fans.
Jim Peterik has had a wide, varied and distinguished career and made many friends a long the way.
This album is the combination of all those and is almost a greatest hits release, even though 13 of the 15 tracks are all new!
World Stage covers a diverse spectrum of styles and feels and adopts a truly unique way of handling the songs and the guest artists. All the tracks are duets with many of Jim's friends and fellow Chicago musicians.
Some tracks you know and are already classics, many you don't and no doubt will become classic.
I will add that not everyone is going to like this. It is very much a Midwestern pop rock album with hints of blues and country. Not by any means your standard AOR or hard rock release.
But those who adore quality songwriting and some purpose to their music should take to this instantly.
the album opens with possibly my favourite post-Survivor Peterik song. Fade To Blue was written by Jim with 38 Special for their Resolution album. Jim redoes it here in due with 38 Special's Don Barnes. Sticking safely to what the song always has been albeit a little more acoustic driven, it's great to hear the two together.
Can't Say It Loud Enough was written by Jim with Johnny Van Zant and Robert White Johnson and also features Johnny on vocals. The song is a very powerful stripped back Midwestern blues ballad full of emotion drenched vocals.
Another of the best new songs isTo Miss Somebody. Featuring the great Dennis DeYoung on vocals, this is an uptempo pop rock written by Jim and Don Barnes. For that reason the style could also easily fit 38 Special.
I am particularly impressed with DeYoung's vocals on this track, always strong, but with a different effect than the material of his solo work or Styx. A very catchy song and an instant radio hit if given the chance.
Diamonds For Stones sees the album in full power ballad mode. Featuring a wonderful Chicago vocalist Cathy Richardson and additional string and orchestral sections, this is a beautiful pop ballad.
I said this was diverse and this is your first example of just how diverse. Chicago blues great Buddy Guy guests on a remake of Jim's very fist hit. Vehicle was a US number one before I was born! The Ideas Of March was the band, but this version is a long way from that. The big band vibe is still here, but it's blues all the way otherwise. A very very cool adaptation of the original. Guy plays his ass off!
Featuring two other Chicago greats, Jim is joined on Zig Zag by Bun E Carlos and Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick. This track rocks big time!
It's a fast moving, happy rock n roll anthem that's a lot of fun and comes at the perfect time to give the album perfect pace. Vocals are by Jim and Tom Keifer of Cinderella. Not an immediate match you might think...think again!
Changed By Love is another track written by Jim and Don Barnes and featured on 38 Special's last album. This track builds from it's ballad base to a more intense finish and sees Jim and Don at their vocal peak. A classic power ballad.
We Wish sees another style at work. Written by Jim with Frankie Sullivan, it features Jeff Boyle and David Carl on vocals. Remember David from his great MTM solo album?
The track is a simple mid tempo pop rocker, but in a style that shows off the guys love of great Midwestern, rootsy songwriting. And three vocalists at work means some really rich vocals.
Working Blue is one of he most recent tracks written for the album. Anther 100% blues track, it features and was written by Jim and upcoming local Chicago blues man Anthony Gomes. A great blues track for fans of Gary Moore's blues outings, and like Gary, these guys are all white too!
Antenna features Margaret Becker - another Chicago native. The song was written by Jim and Rick Cua. It's quite an uptempo track, especially towards the end after a laid back intro. Some powerful vocals from Becker, especially when the chorus is in full tilt.
And the other Number One worldwide smash that involved and was written by Jim (With Frankie Sullivan on this occasion). Survivor's Eye Of The Tiger is now nearly 20 years old and is still timeless. On this version Jeff Boyle joins Jim. The song itself has been stripped back a fair bit and more fits the Midwestern tone of this album than the hard edged guitar of Survivor. But it still kicks and is a more than adequate remake.
Between Two Fires features and was written by Jim with Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon. This is another stripped back Midwestern pop rocker. The verse is laid back and almost in country mode until the chorus kicks in and carries the song off.
Till It Shines features Henry Paul of Blackhawk and is well and truly a country flavored track. The guys sound great together - Henry sticking out a mile with his southern drawl. There's also a very cool melodic change midway through the song.
Long Road Home is another classic track featuring Kelly Keagy of Night Ranger. The song starts off reflective and builds to a great uptempo finish with Keagy unmistakably taking lead.
From Here To Hereafter is a bonus track again featuring Cathy Richardson. It's another high class pop ballad.
BOTTOM LINE: The biggest part of what makes this album work is the instant recognition of how powerful the vocals are. Ful of raw emotion, be it an uptempo song or a ballad, the way this has been recorded and produced allows each vocalist to shine in their own right.
The album is mixed impeccably by Larry Millas with the vocals flawlessly entwined.
But in the end it comes down to one thing. The awesome songs.
ESSENTIAL FOR: All fans of Jim Peterik, Midwestern pop rock and quality songwriting.
DISCOGRAPHY:The Ideas Of March . Survivor . World Stage

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