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Ramos / Hugo The Dream Frontiers Records
FRCD388
· Produced By: Fabrizio Grossi

· Running Time: 53.51

· Release Date: Out Now

· Released:

· Musical Style: AOR

· Links: Frontiers
90%
Songs: 90%
Sound: 89%
This is another highly anticipated release for the AOR community and once again I don't think it will disappoint – depending on what you expected from the record in the first place.
Hugo is of course the Hugo – solo vocalist and also frontman for Valentine and Open Skies, and well known for his uncanny comparison to legendary vocalist Steve Perry.
Ramos is none other than guitarist Josh Ramos from The Storm and Two Fires, who is generally regarded as an understudy to Journey's Neal Schon.
So two strong Journey-esque musicians teaming up for an AOR album? Sounds like a winner. For the most part it is.
What surprised me a little though is the fact the album took several listens to get to know. I kinda figured this would be an instant hit, but the songs took more time to learn and the chorus melodies weren't as in your face as I anticipated. And generally speaking, the direction of the album itself is very safe. There are no surprises on here.
But now I'm 20 or so listens in I can better appreciate everything the album has to offer.
The smooth Perryesque sound of Hugo and the rush of Ramos' guitar solos are just part of what makes The Dream an enjoyable ride.
This is quite a long album – there's 53 minutes over 10 tracks here, so it does take some time to learn.
I was alarmed a little to see Fabrizio Grossi at the helm, as I grew very tired of his production techniques and the way he captures guitar and drum sounds generally.
Yes, there is a little of his influence here, but clearly it is well above the quality of some more recent projects. That said…there is still room for improvement here. The album is largely uptempo and slows quite effortlessly between tracks. It is very smooth and filled with melodies and harmonies.
I would have liked some more distinctive lifts when it came to the choruses, but after repeated listens those choruses are clearly present.
You're Not Alone and All That I Dream both kick the album into high gear from the get-go, while The Dream heads into a more lush AOR mode.
In fact, The Dream has a distinct Don't Stop Believing vibe to it.
I'm not so much into Fools Game, I think that song runs far too long and is without a great chorus.
Bring Back This Love is better and returns to the uptempo style of the opening two numbers.
I Don't Want To Say Goodbye is another track that drags a little, but again, the following track when You Get Lonely is better focused and has a stronger chorus.
Strangely, for an album of AOR songs, In The City is the only real ballad and this one is filled to the brim with Perry and Journey trademark references.
Tomorrow is a fired up rocker with one of the best choruses of the album. I might have opened the album with this had I been making the decisions.
The 8 minute closer I Can Take You is slower in tempo, but not really a ballad. It's more a pop song. It could use a better chorus, but the last 2 minutes of guitar soloing from Ramos is worth the admission price.
Josh Ramos is all over this record – his guitar playing a definite highlight and there are more solos on here in and around the songs than I think any Ramos record to date. Keyboards courtesy of Eric Ragno also flow effortlessly from start to finish and have a very natural sound.
The Bottom Line
Overall a very smooth and enjoyable traditional AOR record, if not a little safe. The guys deliver exactly what was expected, which is still a plus, as the songs are good quality. A little more punch in the choruses would have been even better, but Ramos plays superbly and the vocals of Hugo are always a pleasure to hear.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· The Dream

Line Up:
· Hugo Valenti: Vocals
· Josh Ramos: Guitars
· John Macaluso: Drums
· Jamie: Bass
· Eric Ragno: Keyboards

Essential For Fans Of:
· Josh Ramos
· Hugo
· Journey
· Valntine
Track Listing
· You're Not Alone *
· All That I Wanted *
· The Dream
· Fool's Game
· Bring Back This Love *
· I Don't Wanna Say Goodbye
· When You Get Lonely
· In The City *
· Tomorrow *
· If I Can Take You

* --*Best Tracks


20/08/09: Fabio Robassa - fabiorobassa@hotmail.com
Rating: 0
Ramos & Hugo made an album full of "dreams"... You Are not alone it´s a Classic of Rock !!!

27/04/09: Steve Lomax - stevelomax38@fsmail.net
Rating: 99
First time i've heard Hugo. Won't be the last. Great album. Ramos is on fire here.

21/04/09: Arrival - Arrival@yahoo.com
Rating: 100
Best Album of 2008 no question. Go get it NOW!

08/03/09: marco - marco_kootkar@hotmail.com
Rating: 4
If i want to hear Journey i'll put on a Journey record!!!!
What the h... is this????Record don't stop believing and change the lyrics a bit and give it a different title????
I just cannot believe they get away with it.

09/01/09: Paul - pgborden@hotmail.com
Rating: 70
Love Josh Ramos. Love Hugo Valenti. Sometimes when you mix two of your favorite things, you're surprisingly left with something mediocre, as is the case here. Don't get me wrong, this is still a good cd, but not anywhere near what I would have expected from these two joining forces. To my ears this is what would have happened if Neal Schon decided to intrude on Steve Perry's "Street Talk" cd. Hugo's vocals on this seem over-produced and yet somewhat buried. Ramos' guitars dominate and are definitely at the forefront of the sound. It's as if this is a Josh Ramos solo record and he didn't want to be upstaged by a great vocalist.
The songs are, as Andrew alluded to, a bit on the safe side. While Ramos wails on his solos, Hugo seems too restrained most of the time. Highlights are YOU'RE NOT ALONE & BRING BACK THIS LOVE, and even those two don't feel natural vocally. I would love to see Hugo perform these and a couple of others live... something tells me the energy of a concert performance would really bring these songs to life. Just ordered the Valentine cd... hopefully the REAL Hugo makes an appearance on that one.

28/12/08: STEVE - roknroseville@yahoo.com
Rating: 80
NOT BAD AT ALL... I LIKE THE VALENTINE CD BETTER...
HUGO SOUNDS GOOD RAMOS IS GOOD BUT WAY TOO PREDICTABLE....

22/12/08: Zok - micke_016@hotmail.com
Rating: 95
Great AOR record, with the sound of Journey. I like the guitarwork by Ramos on this album. Check this out.

02/12/08: SoSiS - xeonspeed@hotmail.co.uk
Rating: 90
1 word : BUY THIS ALBUM!

wow.

27/11/08: Stuart Lennox - flakychins@yahoo.co.uk
Rating: 99
This album is a superb piece of AOR. This is how Journey should be sounding. Decent rock tracks with Hugo's Perry like tones backed by a great collection of music tracks. 5 of the tracks, music by Eric Ragno and lyrics by Hugo show a great songwriting team, throw Ramos in the writing mix and its a joy fron start to finish. You're Not Alone and All That I Wanted are classics.

26/11/08: Bob Batter - midnight@theoasis.com
Rating: 40
Good but not great. Valentine it ain't. Always felt Hugo was the ideal replacement for Steve Perry for many reasons but sadly it wasn't to be. My point being that without a good band or song writer behind him, he'll always be in the 'could have been category'.

A couple of gems but not Hugo's best release. As for Ramos... either you're a fan or you're not. I'm not his biggest fan.


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