|Soul SirkUS World Play||Frontiers Records|
It's been quite a journey (no pun intended) already for these guys. Not too many bands get to re-record parts of their debut album, especially after it's already been released!|
The independent release was released via the Internet before drummer Deen Castronovo stepped back to concentrate on Journey and his health. In stepped acclaimed Aussie stickman Virgil Donati.
To revitalize the band and to enable the band to tour behind what they had recorded, it was decided that Donati and bassist Marco Mendoza would re-record their parts and the entire project would be remixed and remastered.
Virgil's contribution to the band and these songs should not be undersold. Deen is a fabulous drummer and has his own place in this band. But Virgil is a more diverse musician and his knack for adding drum fills into seemingly impossible situations is evident throughout this version of the album.
The additional drum fills and use of rhythm is in your face from the outset – check out the added texture to Highest Ground and the opening beats of New Position.
Peephole is now even more intense than it was previously and My Sanctuary rocks better than ever.
Although some will be unhappy at the prospect of forking out for something they have already bought, fans of the band remain the winners from this arrangement.
As the European release of World Play features a far better mix and master, but also adds no less than 4 additional tracks.
I stated in my original review that this album was best suited to being played from start to finish, as it's a record that takes the listener on a journey and the songs are best listened to back to back, rather than individually. It's not an album I would lift several singles from; rather it's better when played as a complete piece of work.
This is even more evident now. Two of the additional tracks are fills between tracks, Abailar To Mundo being a glory piece for bassist Marco Mendoza and My Love My Friend giving Soto fans something to cheer about. Together they help bind the album together and further add to the journey between the opening and closing tracks.
The new tracks:
Alive is the only true new track in the sense that it follows the traditional format of what a song is. And what a song…this is a fantastic rocking, but melodic anthem with a snappy rhythm section and some funky guitar parts and a typical Jeff Scott Soto anthem chorus that would have sat comfortably on the recent Lost In The Translation album. Its addition makes it one of the album highlights.
Abailar To Mundo is a funk-fest for all bass players and highlights Marco's Latin roots and his flair for a killer groove.
My Love, My Friend is an accapela track, with Soto in full force, with the rest of the guys providing rich harmony support. Very Queen and very stylish.
James Brown is the European bonus track and really just for a laugh. This is a R&B/Funk/Soul track with a swagger Glenn Hughes would be proud of and sees Neal Schon outside his normal playing parameters. Good fun, but maybe not for all!
Still appropriate from my original CD review:
World Play is an album that lives up to the high expectations a lot of people have been hoping for. It's a monster of an album, but not for the most obvious reasons.
This album showcases what rock n roll is all about. It is an untamed record and showcases four first class musicians playing how they were born to perform.
World Play is very loose and raw…it's a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of record. It is recorded how it sounded as they guys belted the music out – no high-tech polish, no endless overdubs, no piece-meal note by note over-thinking.
Soul SirkUS is part Hardline, part Talisman, part JSS solo and part Journey. Rather than the hard edge stadium rock of Hardline, Soul Sirkus has a far bigger groove and is less constrained by structured songs and formulas.
Neal Schon really gets to let fly, and plays with the energy and conviction of a man recording his debut album. Vocalist Jeff Scott Soto gets to showcase the full range of his vast talents – from his booming hard rock vocals, to some high pitch screams, back to soft soulful balladry, with his trademark funk and groove fitting perfectly with the flawless rhythm of Mendoza and Donati.
The production might not be as crisp and clean as Journey, or as precise as the Hardline record, but the performances are electric.
There are some monster harmony vocals throughout, with Jeff utilizing his trademark layered harmonies in line with supplemental vocals from the rest of the guys.
I find myself liking different tracks from week to week, which proves two things – the album is quite varied and it proves true depth, providing new experiences for listeners beyond the initial period of getting to know an album.
Original Review Track By Track.
Where the album will rank with individual fans will be down to what they expect from the record and what they take away from it. On face value, World Play is one of the grooviest hard rock records in a long time and stands alone as far as style and content.
Absolutely essential for any fans of Schon and Soto and anyone who adores the Hardline album.
I'd already rated this album about as highly as you can get, but they get one more point for the awesome Alive.
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