|Zion Zion||Frontiers Records|
Zion is the comeback vehicle for Canadian AOR legend Freddy Curci. Freddy's career harks back to the late 70s with Sheriff, but is best known and best loved in these circles for the utterly classic Alias album.|
Two solo albums and the heavily traded demos for the unreleased second Alias album only added to the aura surrounding Curci's famed pitch-perfect vocals.
An announcement many moons ago about a comeback rock album from Curci raised a lot of interest and a great deal of excitement.
But how long have we now waited for this release? The most recent update on Freddy's very up to date website is from 2003 and states that Zion is nearing completion!
So after more than 4 years waiting, it is with great anticipation that Zion is finally delivered to hungry fans.
And because of that anticipation, there is going to be great disappointment upon hearing this album. It is simply not of a standard you would expect from someone of Freddy's pedigree and background.
It disappoints in almost every department - from the average production quality, to the lack of killer songs to a very sub-par vocal performance, which at times is hard to listen to.
Since the original announcement, Curci has suffered health problems where he feared he wouldn't be able to sing again, but why exactly this album took 5 years to complete is anyone's guess.
It certainly doesn't sound as if 5 years of effort went into it. And I say that with a very heavy heart, as I am a huge fan of Freddy Curci. I own everything…and when I interviewed him a couple of years back, I found a very warm and humble guy to talk to.
But the hard fact remains that this album is simply not what it should be.
The original master was so bad I considered it unlistenable. Since then the recordings were sent to producer Dennis Ward to be remastered.
Ward did a good job there – he evened out the album's sound and gave it some sense of professionalism. But while he can remaster the sound, he can't re-record some of the performances within, nor could he re-write some of the songs.
And frankly, some of the production still suffers here, with poor tones affecting guitar and drum parts and lead vocals that at times sound as if they were recorded in a shed.
It's all very upsetting for me as a long time fan to state these facts – and I imagine just as upsetting for the poor record label that invested considerable money and time in this venture.
Track By Track:
All It Takes Is A Minute should be a contender for Song Of The Year. But it's not because it is simply assembled badly. I could forgive the hollow guitar sound and the crappy repetitive cymbal noise, but the chorus – which really could have been a monster – comes and goes with little effect due to some poorly arranged vocals and out of place harmonies. Then there are Freddy's lead vocals, which at times sound as if they were recorded in the shed out back, and at other times sound horribly strained. A tragic, if not criminal waste of a potentially great song.
How Much Longer Is Forever is a new version of a track recorded originally for the second Alias album. Again the song suffers sound issues, it appears muddy and a little muffled, again with the vocals being the worst offender. To be honest, the original demo is far superior in quality. On that track Curci's vocals are amazing. They simply are no longer what they once were.
The second half of the album has some more redeeming features, but for now it just gets worse. The modern rock influenced One Man Alone is horrible. And overly loud and bombastic intro is simply messy and the vocals are nothing less than painful to listen to. They are strained to the point of being unlistenable and clearly out of tune in other places.
The uptempo rocker Dangerous is a little easier on the ears. The sound is still muddy and the guitars hollow, but at least the vocals sound more comfortable.
I'm Running Home sees the required elements of a good song align more favorably. This is a big rock ballad with a catchy chorus and a nice pick up in tempo towards the end. I'm not sold on the guitar sound, but there is some nice soloing here.
Everybody's Watching is possibly the heaviest thing I have ever heard Freddy sing and I like that vibe. The sound is still muddy, but the song at least has real attitude. This features a tough vocal and considering the earlier tracks, I am surprised Freddy holds it together.
No Surprise is produced by Fabrizio Grossi and has that all too obvious guitar/drum sound he carries everywhere with him. A little modern rock influence creeps in here again including some vocal effects. The song really doesn't feature any great hook and is pretty forgettable.
The Sky Is Falling is a straight ahead melodic rock with a terrific chorus and a better sound that I wish was carried through the whole album.
The Devil's Dance is an intense mid-tempo ballad with a great lyric, solid hook and some passionate vocals at last.
Who Do You Think You Are is another dark rocker with strong harmony vocals and a decent lead vocal. There's an Alias vibe to the track, but updated for the current year.
Crash The Mirror is the darkest and most confronting song of the whole album. A great way to close out the record – the slow, moody and intense rock track features a piercing vocal that I wish there was more of on the album. It's not the Freddy Curci of old, but the song has balls.
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