Album Reviews

If Only – No Bed Of Roses

Released by: Avenue Of Allies

Release Date: Out Now!!

Genre: Melodic Hard Rock/AOR

Links: http://www.avenue-of-allies.com/



Line Up:

Tina Egan – Lead vocals (tracks 1 – 12, 17)

Ian Edwards – Bass, keyboards

Greg Hart – Guitars, acoustic 6 & 12 string guitars, mandolin, keyboards

Nobby Styles – Guitars

Judit Armstrong – Keyboards

Andy Elphick – Drums, percussion

Jackie Bodimead – Lead vocals (tracks 13 – 16)



Backing Vocals:

Tina, Ian, Greg, Judit, Nobby, Geoff Downes, Toby Sadler, Jackie Bodimead



Guest Musicians:

Geoff Downes – Piano, Hammond, keyboards

Mike Moran – all keyboards & string arrangements on “Man Against The World”



Additional Musicians:

Toby Sadler – Keyboards

Martin Chaisson – Lead guitars, voicebox



Tracklist:

1. Loaded Gun

2. Tumblin’ Dice

3. If Love Could Last Forever

4. I’m No Angel

5. No Bed Of Roses

6. Easy Lay

7. Rock And A Hard Place

8. Red Hot Heaven

9. Ghost of You

10. Forever My Love

11. Long Way From Home

12. Man Against The World



Bonus tracks :

13. All Over

14. Stand Like A Stone

15. Don’t Let Go

16. Shotdown (4:49)

17. Tight Jeans (live)



One of the real gems of the 80’s was If Only….yes you heard me right. Lets see if I can give you a little back story as to how the band came to be, well on a limited basis. The year was 1988 in London and yep the band was formed there where lead writer an guitarist Greg Hart who recruited members including Ian Edwards on bass, Andy Stewart on keyboards and Andy Elphick on drums from his previous band Moritz. Now this is where it all made sense, just a few months back Mortiz reunited and released a damn good AOR album. Now it had me thinking even though I had heard of IF Only, I really didn’t know the story behind the music. So bare with me.

The group went through a myriad of band line up and changes, especially in the vocal department. They thought they had finally found a  capable singer in former “Girlschool” vocalist Jackie Bodimead but he bounced out of the band at the last minute. After having this actual album recorded and no singer, they ran into this amazing female vocalist Tina Egan from the UK. I think here is where the music finally took shape. Her amazing vocal pipes, put along with a tremendous sound formed a mix of 80’s Hard Rock and AOR put together a great combination. There is no wonder Geoff Downes (Yes/Asia) got involved in the recording and produced the record.

If you’re a fan of the 80’s this is a real treat if you never heard the original release of “No Bed Of Roses” which wasn’t released in Europe till 1994, 2 years after it was released in Japan. What a damn shame the band struggled so much and missed the good old days and we’re instead warped into the grunge era.

The music here is high class Hard Rock with a strong female fronted vocalist, thinking of classic Tesla with twice as much melodic hooks and rising choruses straight from the UK. Guitar solos and thundering rhythm section strong enough run a assault on a fort with full arms raising. The cool thing about this release is you get your bang for your buck as you have 17 total tracks including  5 bonus tracks.

Lets’ talk some songs here, Tine Egan could sing and man is a damn shame she is no longer with us because she had so much potential to rise to stardom, her voice sounds like a young Robin Beck so much power. Just check out the power ballads “If Love Could Last Forever” and I’m No Angel”, this is what the 80’s epitomized from the infectious guitar sound to it’s face plastering drums to amazing choruses, just great stuff.

Some more explosive melodies keep the ball rolling on the keyboard entry of the nice tune “Rock And A Hard Place”, so many singles that could of come out of this great album and this is one in a long list of them. One of my favorites cuts here is the soft piano ballad “Me Against The World” sounds like some a classic Savatage ballad ladies and gents, what a nice song soft but powerful, killer.

This is just a special gem of a release and a tribute to Egan who delivered a hell of a performance here. All the best recipe for a successful melodic rock record, and something worth purchasing if you have never heard the original release. The complete band just sounds powerful and extremely accessible even in a time where the music has changed so much and this sort of style has remained a struggle to popularize again. Give some props for Downes on a nice production job, and catchy lyrics from Greg Hart and company as well. An avenue to a melodic rocker’s heart ……….If Only what should of been….Recommended!!!

Written by Denys

Ratings Denys   9/10


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