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Frontiers FRCD 065
Produced by: Mike Slamer

Released: OUT / Website
Relatives: Streets, Steelhouse Lane

  1. The Kid Could Play
  2. Only The Brave
  3. Missy
  4. Surrender
  5. When Love Is Dying
  6. No man's Land
  7. Every Time It Rains
  8. Home
  9. Forsaken
  10. Prisoner Of Love
  11. Broken Home

Seventh Key is Kansas bass player Billy Greer's solo debut, under the guise of a band name. Joining him is Mike Slamer, the man behind the much loved Steelhouse Lane and fellow co-member of AOR legends Streets.
Mike Slamer strikes again. The producer / guitarist / songwriter has once again proved he is the premier melodic rock producer. His songwriting and production abilities are extraordinary, but teemed with someone of equal talent like Billy Greer and the result is pure melodic bliss and will bring huge satisfaction to any buyer looking for a major label quality release.
The guest list on Seventh Key is like a who's who of current Kansas members, with all the guys making appearances along with Terry Brock and Steve Morse, with Mike Slamer providing acoustic and electric guitars throughout.
Like all Slamer records, this one requires repeat listens before casting your verdict.
It's always going to be good, but just how good develops over the course of getting to know the album and the many levels and layers it presents itself on.
Only after several listens can you appreciate just how good it is and what a great voice Billy has been keeping from us. It's a pitch that requires some adjusting to, but he sings every note brilliantly throughout.
From the first note of the first track we know we are in business here. The Kid Could Play is typical Slamer - in your face uptempo slamming melodic rock. What Billy Greer brings to the song is attitude, smooth vocals and a pumping bass rhythm.
Big vocals, a big chorus and plenty of guitar flurries. A melodic rock highlight for 2001.
Only The Brave could have been lifted from the last Steelhouse Lane record. It's probably more to do with the production style and technique, but the song is a cool change of pace from the opener, filled with lots of Steelhouse style harmony vocals and guitar breaks.
The intro to Missy is reminiscent of Skid Row's 18 & Life until it breaks into it's own mid paced angst filled groove. An epic track of sorts that features keyboards more prominently than the opening two tracks.
Surrender changes pace again. This guitar dominated track has a really heavy groove, while remaining mid paced. What makes the song compulsory is the simple but infectious chorus hook and the bridge that follows the chorus, rather than leading into it. Cool song arrangement and instrumental backing also.
When Love Is Dying is the albums first big ballad. An atmospheric and acoustic intro leads to one of the biggest stadium style anthem choruses in recent memory, with that great multi-layered effect that only Slamer can do. A huge song!
No Man's Land picks up the pace, starting with some great keyboard play from Kansas' Steve Walsh, followed by a straight up guitar lick and a strong rock vocal. Once again the chorus is instrumentally a multi layered affair in a more urgent tone than the rest of the song.
The pace changes again on Every Time It Rains. This is brilliant pure textbook AOR stuff here! The moody melody, the sentimental vocal, the subtle change of guitar riff all leading into a faster paced chorus and back into the ultra smooth flow of the verse. Essential for pure AOR fanatics.
Home varies the pace again, to the album's benefit. This track is a smooth, sultry, soft pop rocker that breaks into a totally different chorus featuring a heavy guitar crunch. Then it's back into the sultry verse. The song remains slow to mid tempo throughout. Another great example of classy songwriting and a track that grows in maturity with each listen.
Forsaken opens with a classic 80's keyboard riff and one of the album's best vocal moments from Billy. For the opening he goes solo with the keyboard before Mike breaks in with a soft Neal Schon like guitar solo. The song again makes a 180 turn at the chorus, where a soft, but anthemic hook takes us to stadium rock heaven. One of the best hooks of the album.
Prisoner Of Love opens with a cool Van Halen style guitar lick and heavy bass drum rhythm. This is another classic Steelhouse Lane style track, with a big uptempo stadium rock feel.
Broken Home is a soft piano ballad with a lower key approach in it's initial stages. The chorus again rises above the rest of the song, with Billy at his finest and clearest vocal best. A great sentimental mid tempo rock ballad.
BOTTOM LINE: The best thing about this album is that you know what to expect, you know what you want and it does deliver all of that and more. But at the same time, it is not a predictable album. The song writing and instrumental arrangement of the album, plus the caliber of production and performance by all on board raises it above anything you could hope for. Basically, this is one of the best examples of melodic rock you will hear and one of the best releases I have featured on this site.
ESSENTIAL FOR: Just about every regular to this site - fans of great anthem AOR and finely polished melodic rock.

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