Label: AOR Heaven
Release Date: 27 October 2014
Links: Official Site
Rob Naylor – bass,
Steve Kenny – guitars, keyboards,
Baz Jackson – vocals,
Tony Bell – guitars
Any other Girl
A Harder Place
Ice Turned to Rain
Someone To Save Me
Left Me In Love
A Night Like This
Another Lost Boy
Same Old Love
If Her Tears Could Talk
Kings of Nowhere
Head back 30 years and we find a British AOR band, A.O.K (as they were back then) on the cusp of something big. Prestige gigs with Danger Danger and Dare, record company showcases, open air festivals and all the best rock clubs, the bread and butter of touring for a young band fed their hunger for playing live. With songs like ‘Loving The Danger’, ‘Two Souls’, ‘Why Can’t Love Survive’ and more, it seemed certain that A.O.K would become one of the premium melodic rock acts in the UK.
Then of course, misery, cardigans and angst laden music began to dominate the scene and sadly what could have been never was and A.O.K disappeared swamped by bands who wanted kids to express their inner anger and demons rather than expressing their affections for a beautiful girl. Thankfully times change and whilst angst ridden teenagers still shy away from bands like A.O.K. there is enough of a surge in the melodic rock scene to warrant bands like this being granted a new opportunity.
So what has changed? Well for starters, the name. No longer just A.O.K the rebrand now sees the band called Angels or Kings and only three of the original members remain, Tony Bell, Rob Naylor and Steve Kenny. Add to the mix, vocalist extraordinaire in Baz Jackson (where did they find him and why have we never heard him before….) and the end result is something very special indeed.
From classy opener ‘Any Other Girl’ it’s clear that the new line up and song writing capabilities are perfectly in sync. A gentle build up on keyboards from Kenny evoke memories of times gone by when AOR classics from Foreigner and Journey ruled the waves, before some great guitar work from Bell kicks in and singer Baz Jackson shows us what Britain’s answer to Lou Gramm sounds like. With the likes of FM getting major airplay again it’s likely that Angels or Kings will be able to follow suit on the strength of this opening track alone.
With A.O.K. never managing to release an official album (ignore the Demo CD from a German label that is floating around on the internet as the band have never made a cent from it) how have tracks like ‘A Harder Place’ and ‘Ice Turned To Rain’ with its intro that brings to mind ‘That Girl’ from FM, been pushed out to the masses of AOR loving fans across the Europe? Well, winning a fan voted appearance at this year’s final Firefest has done no harm at all. They were stripped down to a final 10 who were then played on the ARfm Steve Price radio show. A final three made it through to a final. Angels or Kings won, achieving over 3,500 votes. The band get to showcase the album as the opening act on the first day and as a result now also find themselves signed to AOR Heaven as well.
‘Someone To Save Me’ shows that the band can rock out with the best of the and have not settled for soft ballad led tracks alone. It’s the combination of the rockers and the ballads that keep pushing comparisons to Foreigner and the Bell \ Jackson combination could easily be the magic ingredient like Gramm \ Jones that the UK have looked for for so many years. It’s just a shame it’s taken twenty plus years to find that winning combination as Angels or Kings have it in spades. Other highlights include ‘A Harder Place’ which again reaffirms a band that that has maintained song writing skills all this time and just needed the push to pull it all together and get it out there to the masses.
A great release, one that needs to be heard and for lovers of Foreigner and other bands of that era, you’ll be very very happy indeed.
After Firefest: The Final Fling, Angels or Kings will also be playing Hard Rock Hell festival in March 2015 which is being headlined by Night Ranger
Review by Adrian